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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 39 – The Hidden Military Strategy Manual

    Chapter 39 – The Hidden Military Strategy Manual
    (Translated by Foxs, Edited by Eliza Bennet)

    Taking Xie Xun by the hand, Zhang Wuji was about to walk away when suddenly Xie Xun said, “Hold on!” Pointing to an old monk among the Shaolin crowd he called out, “Cheng Kun! Come out! In the presence of the heroes from all over the world, I want you to clearly explain all kinds of gratitude and grudges of the past.”

    The crowd of heroes was startled; they only saw a hunchback old monk with a nondescript face. Definitely he did not look like Cheng Kun. Zhang Wuji was about to say, “He is not Cheng Kun.” But he heard Xie Xun say, “Cheng Kun, you might change your appearance, but you can’t change your voice. I only heard your cough, but I know who you are.”

    The old monk grinned fiendishly and said, “Who would listen to such nonsense from a blind man like you?”

    As soon as he opened his mouth, Zhang Wuji recognized him immediately. That day on the Brightness Peak, when he was held captive inside the cloth sack, he had heard Cheng Kun’s lengthy speech. He clearly remembered his voice. This time Cheng Kun deliberately made his voice sound throaty and his disguise was perfect, but in the end he could not change his voice.

    Zhang Wuji leaped up to cut Cheng Kun’s escape route. “Yuan Zhen Dashi, Cheng Kun Qianbei [senior, older generation],” he said, “A real man is straightforward and upright. Why don’t you show your true face?”

    Turned out Cheng Kun had disguised himself and mingled among the crowd. All along he managed to hide his true identity. But when the lady in yellow subdued Zhou Zhiruo, which he did not anticipate, he could not restrain from coughing lightly. Ever since he turned blind, Xie Xun’s ability to distinguish sound grew. Besides, he harbored a deep hatred toward Cheng Kun; naturally, he would remember Cheng Kun with an ‘inscribed in the heart, engraved on the bone’ kind of memory. To Xie Xun’s ears, this light cough was no less than a thunder in the midst of a clear blue sky; he recognized him immediately.

    Cheng Kun realized his plot had fallen through and he had been exposed. Straightening his back up he shouted, “Shaolin monks, listen to this: The Devil Cult has come to disturb the holy place of Buddha. They are here to despise our Sect. Everybody must fight together. Show them no mercy.”

    His followers immediately responded; they unsheathed their weapons and charged forward to fight.

    Because his martial brother, Abbot Kong Wen, had fallen into the hands of the Temple’s rebels, Kong Zhi was forced to suppress his anger for quite a long time. This time, hearing Yuan Zhen issue an order to fight against the Ming Cult, he knew that his temple’s monks would suffer countless damage if a tangled battle ensued. Taking everything into consideration, in the end, the lives of the monks in his temple were more important. Thereupon he shouted, “Kong Wen Fangzhang has fallen into this rebel Yuan Zhen’s hands. All disciples must capture this traitor first then we’ll save Fangzhang.” All of a sudden there was great confusion on the peak.

    Zhang Wuji saw that Zhou Zhiruo was still kneeling on the ground; she looked utterly dejected, he felt sorry for her. Zhang Wuji came to her, unsealed her acupoints, and helped her get up. Zhou Zhiruo pushed his arm away and leaped toward the crowd of Emei disciples.

    They heard Xie Xun say in loud and clear voice, “Everything that happens today is between Cheng Kun and I, two people only. All kinds of gratitude and grudges ought to be concluded by us, two people, alone. Shifu, my entire skill came from you; Cheng Kun, my whole family was murdered by you. Your great kindness and deep animosity, we will settle it between us today.”

    Cheng Kun realized that Kong Zhi had disregarded everything by giving the order; he also knew that the honest Shaolin Temple monks were simply too numerous compared to his followers, which were only about a tenth of the entire Shaolin disciples. It looked like his ambition to become the Shaolin Abbot had also turned into an illusion. He thought, “Xie Xun has committed all kinds of evil deeds. If I subdue him, I can push all the blame on him. His martial art came from me, plus he is blind; I don’t see any reason why I cannot defeat him.” Therefore, he said, “Xie Xun, I don’t know how many heroes and warriors of Jianghu lost their lives in your hands. Today, you are taking the bunch of Devil Cult’s devil heads to come to Shaolin and create trouble in Buddhist paradise, going against the heroes of the world. I regret teaching you martial art in the past. Now I have to clean up my own school; I have to punish you, a renegade disciple who betrayed his school’s forefathers.” He then strode toward Xie Xun.

    Xie Xun raised his voice, “All heroes hear me: Xie Xun’s martial art was taught by this gentleman Cheng Kun. But because he failed to defile my wife, he murdered my father and mother, my wife and my son. Although I must love and honor my master, I must love and honor my parents more. I want to seek revenge on him, do you think I deserve to do it?”

    All around the heroes thundered their response, “You deserve to seek revenge, you deserve to seek revenge!”

    Without saying anything, Cheng Kun sent out his palm to hack Xie Xun’s head. Xie Xun leaned his head sideways to avoid the strike on his vital point. ‘Bang!’ the palm hit his shoulder.

    Xie Xun grunted, but did not hit back. “Cheng Kun,” he said, “When you passed on this move, ‘chang hong jing tian’ [long rainbow traverse the sky], you said that as soon as you hit the opponent’s body, you must immediately send out the ‘hun yuan’ [originating formation] chi to injure the enemy; why didn’t you send out any strength? Are you getting old that your strength is gone?”

    Actually, Cheng Kun’s first move was a fake one; he did not anticipate that the opponent did not even make any effort to evade so his strike was on target. But he did not send any power with this move therefore Xie Xun was not injured at all.

    Cheng Kun’s right palm followed his fake left hand strike. Xie Xun leaned his head sideways again, but still he did not hit back. Cheng Kun sent out a chain-kick attack with his both legs. ‘Bang, bang!’ Xie Xun received these two kicks on the side of his body. These two kicks carried an extremely fierce force that even though Xie Xun’s physique was sturdy, he could not withstand it. ‘Wah!’ he spurted out a mouthful of blood.

    “Yifu!” Zhang Wuji anxiously called, “Fight back! Why do you take a beating without retaliating?”

    Xie Xun’s body swayed several times. With a bitter laugh he said, “He was my Shifu, I ought to take a couple of kicks and a palm from him.” With a sudden long whistle, Xie Xun flipped his palm and hack down on Cheng Kun.

    “Bad luck! Bad luck!” Cheng Kun silently cried out, “I only knew that his hatred to me was as deep as the ocean, and that he would stake everything he has as soon as he sees me. If I had known that he was willing to take my first three moves, I would have strike him with killer strike and thus I would not have missed this good opportunity.”

    Seeing the swiftness and fierceness of Xie Xun’s palm, Cheng Kun immediately swept his left hand diagonally to fend off Xie Xun’s palm power, while he moved a half turn toward Xie Xun’s back. Taking advantage of Xie Xun’s blindness, Cheng Kun’s palm silently pressed on Xie Xun’s back. But it was as if Xie Xun could see; he sent a kick backward. Cheng Kun leaped up gently. Like a big predatory bird, he swooped down from the sky. He was more than seventy years old, but his agility was not inferior to those of the younger people.

    Xie Xun raised both of his hands to block. Cheng Kun’s downward strike met Xie Xun’s palms. Borrowing the momentum from the impact, Cheng Kun’s body shot up once again. He made a gentle maneuver in the air and struck down again.

    The two men exchanged blow after blow. They fought faster and faster that they had exchanged seventy, eighty stances in a very short period of time. Although Xie Xun’s pair of eyes could not see a thing, his martial art skill came from Cheng Kun, so he knew Cheng Kun’s fists and kicks by heart. No matter how many times Cheng Kun changed his style, Xie Xun was able to anticipate his movements without difficulty. After decades of separation, both men had enjoyed tremendous advancement in terms of their internal energy cultivation, but the styles and stances were still their martial art school’s techniques.

    Xie Xun did not need to use his eyes; as he launched a strike, he knew exactly how the opponent would react, as well as by which stance, or at least the most likely variation, the opponent would counterattack. In addition, he was more than ten years younger than Cheng Kun; his physique was considerably stronger. The many years he spent on the extraordinarily cold and extremely hot Bing Huo Island had given his internal energy cultivation a tremendous advantage. For these reasons, he did not show the slightest sign of defeat even after fighting for more than a hundred stances.

    Xie Xun’s animosity toward Cheng Kun was as deep as the ocean. He had waited bitterly for several decades. This time as he met his archenemy, at first Zhang Wuji thought that Xie Xun would disregard everything and fought Cheng Kun with all he had so that both sides would perish together. Contrary to his expectation, each style and every stance Xie Xun launched was exceptionally steady and calm, his line of defense was also very tight. Initially Zhang Wuji was astonished, but after watching the battle progress for dozens of moves, he finally understood.

    Cheng Kun’s martial art skill was not inferior to Du E, Du Nan, three monks. If Xie Xun brazenly attacked with all he had, he might not be able to last more than three hundred moves. It was evident that the deeper Xie Xun’s hatred toward Cheng Kun, the more cautious he was in his movements. He was afraid that he would be destroyed under Cheng Kun’s hands before he was able to avenge his father, mother, wife and son’s blood debt.

    After about two hundred moves, Xie Xun gave a loud shout. His fist struck out with a strong gust of wind.

    “Qi Shang Quan! [seven-injury fist]” Guan Neng of Kongtong Pai called out. He saw Xie Xun’s left and right fists continuously move with matchless overwhelming power. The elders of Kongtong Pai looked at each other with amazement; they could not help but feel ashamed of their own inferiority.

    Cheng Kun subsequently evaded three fists. As Xie Xun’s forth fist arrived, Cheng Kun swept his right palm horizontally. ‘Bang!’ The fist and the palm collided. With loose hair and beard, Xie Xun stood motionless; while Cheng Kun was forced to withdraw three steps back.

    Many of the heroes watching the fight were cheering inwardly. By this time, it was already clear to the Jianghu people how the enmity between Xie Xun and Cheng Kun started, and how it escalated. Although the people were angry with Xie Xun because he was too ruthless, excessively harming the innocents, they understood the cruel fate Xie Xun met. On the other hand, they thought Cheng Kun was too malicious and evil. Therefore, other than a few people whose close friends and family were killed by Xie Xun, most of the people present hoped he would triumph.

    Xie Xun rushed three steps forward. Again, with strong gusts of wind his fists punched left and right. Cheng Kun parried with his pair of palms, while he took three more steps backward.

    “Not good!” Zhang Wuji cried out silently, “Cheng Kun is using the Jiu Yang Gong [nine ‘yang’ energy], which he learned after he entered Kong Jian Shen Seng’s [divine monk] tutelage. He did not pass it on to Yifu.”

    Xie Xun trained the Qi Shang Quan in a rush. As a result, he had suffered internal injury. His fist strength was actually flawed. Cheng Kun had a deep knowledge of this fist technique’s crucial keys; therefore, he deliberately showed weakness, but in actuality, he was sending out his Jiu Yang Gong to counterattack the opponent. With each fist Xie Xun sent, Cheng Kun received about 70% of the force and neutralized it with his Jiu Yang Gong, while he sent the remaining 30% back to Xie Xun.

    ‘Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!’ Xie Xun sent out twelve punches. Cheng Kun took a dozen or so steps backward. It appeared that Xie Xun was gaining the upper hand; however, the internal injury he suffered was actually getting heavier. Zhang Wuji was extremely anxious, but he knew this was his Yifu’s lifelong dream to finally have the opportunity to exact his revenge; obviously, he could not meddle by giving him a hand. Yet if Xie Xun continued fighting like this, in a few dozen moves he would inevitably vomit blood and die.

    “Yuan Zhen,” with a cold voice Kong Zhi suddenly said, “Did my Shixiong [martial brother] teach you this Shaolin Jiu Yang Gong to harm others?”

    Cheng Kun sneered and said, “My En Shi [benevolent master] lost his life under the Qi Shang Quan. I am avenging En Shi today to wipe out a disgrace.”

    Suddenly Zhao Min called out, “Kong Jian Shen Seng’s Jiu Yang Gong cultivation was far above yours. How come he could not withstand the Qi Shang Quan? Kong Jian Dashi was harmed by your traitorous hands. You deceived the Senior to come forward and resolve your enmity; you deceived him to take a beating without hitting back. Hey, hey, look, look! Who’s that standing behind you? His face is full of blood; he looks at your back with angry glare. Isn’t that Kong Jian Shen Seng?”

    Cheng Kun knew perfectly well that she was blabbering nonsense, but what he had done had been weighing his conscience down, so he did feel guilty and he shivered involuntarily.

    Right this moment, Xie Xun sent another punch. Cheng Kun used his palm to block. Surprisingly, he did not retreat. Because of Zhao Min’s distraction, his concentration was divided and his ‘chi’ did not flow properly. Xie Xun’s punch made the ‘chi’ and blood in Cheng Kun’s breast turned upside down. He was forced to use his ‘qing gong’ to run around Xie Xun for a while until he could regulate his breathing.

    “Kong Jian Shen Seng,” Zhao Min called out, “Nail him! That’s right! Just like that! Blow your breath on the back of his neck! You died under your disciple’s hands, he must also die under his disciple’s hands. It is called ‘karma’. Lao Tian Ye [lit. old master of the sky – a reference to God or the Heaven] has eyes, the just retribution is coming.”

    The hair on Cheng Kun’s back stood up. He did not believe in ghosts, but at that time he indeed felt a puff of cold wind on the back of his neck. He was flustered. He did not remember that the wind had always been blowing on that peak all year long. Besides, Xie Xun and he were leaping up and down in their fight; naturally his back was blown by the wind.

    Zhao Min could see doubt was starting to grow in Cheng Kun’s mind, she shouted, “Aiyo! Cheng Kun, watch your back! You don’t dare to turn your head? Look down to the shadow on ground. There are only two people fighting, where did the third shadow come from?”

    Cheng Kun could not help but look down. He did see that between the two shadows, there was another dark shadow. His heart skipped a beat. Xie Xun’s punch arrived. Cheng Kun did not have enough time to evade; he was forced to use his fist to meet the incoming fist head-on. ‘Bang!’ Two enormous forces collided. They were both shaken and they were both pushed one step backward. Then Cheng Kun could see clearly that the extra shadow was actually a broken pine tree trunk.

    When the battle dragged on with him unable to achieve the victory, Cheng Kun had already been impatient. “He is my disciple,” he thought, “And he is blind; yet I still cannot deal with him. My followers watching from the side won’t accept it. Too bad my special skill ‘huan yin zhi’ [lit. fantasy ‘yin’ finger] was broken by the pure ‘yang’ energy of that extremely loathsome little thief, Zhang Wuji, that night; otherwise, how could I fight such a long fight with Xie Xun right now? Currently, the situation is dangerous. I must subdue this renegade disciple as quickly as possible. Only then can I hold the Ming Cult at bay and also provoke those people who have grudges against him. At least I can still escape with my life.” As he made this decision, his footwork changed. Making his steps as quiet as possible, he took two steps backward toward the broken pine tree.

    Xie Xun sent three punches in succession while he took two steps forward. Cheng Kun retreated two steps. He wanted to entice Xie Xun so that he would stumble on the broken pine tree. Xie Xun was about to chase Cheng Kun forward when Zhang Wuji called out, “Yifu, watch your steps!”

    Xie Xun shivered; he stepped sideways to avoid the obstacle. But as he was hesitating, Cheng Kun seized the opportunity to launch his silent punch, aimed at Xie Xun’s chest. Cheng Kun suddenly sent out his force and Xie Xun fell backward. Cheng Kun raised his foot to kick Xie Xun’s skull. Xie Xun rolled away and quickly stood up. Blood trickled down from the corner of his mouth.

    Cheng Kun stood motionless. His right palm stretched out slowly.

    When Xie Xun fought Cheng Kun, he relied on his knowledge of Cheng Kun’s techniques, but also by listening to the wind to distinguish the direction. This time Cheng Kun stretched out his palm without using any particular technique, slowly reaching out toward Xie Xun’s face. Suddenly his palm struck Xie Xun’s shoulder. Xie Xun staggered a few steps and braced himself to stop.

    A lot of the heroes on the side were not happy; they shouted one after another, “A sighted person fighting a blind, and still using this despicable trick!”

    Cheng Kun paid no attention; he slowly raised his palm to strike again. Xie Xun focused his attention to listen. As he felt the enemy palm was coming, he raised his hand to block.

    Seeing the yellow hair on Xie Xun’s head flutter, the corner of his mouth was daubed in blood, Zhang Wuji was very angry and anxious at the same time. He knew that if this kind of fight continued, Xie Xun would undoubtedly die under Cheng Kun’s hands. Yet if he stepped forward to lend a hand in this situation, even if he managed to kill Cheng Kun, his Yifu would certainly regret it for the rest of his life. Grabbing Zhao Min’s hand, he anxiously said, “Quickly think of a good way to help him.”

    “Can you stealthily launch secret projectiles to blind that old thief’s eyes?” Zhao Min asked.

    Zhang Wuji shook his head. “Yifu will not let me do such thing even if he has to die!” he said.

    Meanwhile, he that saw Cheng Kun was slowly raising his palm again. Zhao Min suddenly shouted, “Chest!”

    Xie Xun sent a jab straight out. Cheng Kun pulled back his palm without making any contact. Again and again he launched several slow attacks, but each time Zhao Min foiled his attacks by shouting his target. Seeing his tactic fail, Cheng Kun changed plan. He raised his palm slowly toward Xie Xun’s right shoulder.

    “Right shoulder!” Zhao Min called out.

    Cheng Kun’s left shoulder moved slightly. Zhang Wuji immediately understood his intention. “Back!” he shouted.

    When Xie Xun heard Zhao Min’s shout, he waved his right arm to block the palm threatening his right shoulder. To his surprise, Cheng Kun’s palm was an empty move; when he followed Zhao Min’s warning by moving his right arm, Cheng Kun’s left palm entered Xie Xun’s open defense. ‘Slap!’ His palm heavily struck Xie Xun’s back. Although Zhang Wuji’s warning came in time, Cheng Kun’s palm was simply too swift. By the time Xie Xun heard the warning, it was already too late to change his move.

    The crowd shouted in alarm. Xie Xun vomited a mouthful of blood, most of it sprayed onto Cheng Kun’s face.

    “Ah!” Cheng Kun cried out while reaching up to wipe his face. Xie Xun rolled down on the ground. Suddenly they both screamed and disappeared together.

    Turned out as soon as Xie Xun rolled down, he grabbed both of Cheng Kun’s legs and furiously pulled him down that both of them fell into the underground dungeon together.

    The dungeon was filled with water reaching to their necks. It was also pitch black inside that Cheng Kun immediately became like a blind person. Hastily he leaped back to get away from the enemy, but the dungeon was very narrow that as he leaped, his back crashed heavily onto the rock wall. He wanted to jump up, but his lower abdomen was struck by Xie Xun’s Qi Shang Quan. Severe pain rushed into his heart instantly.

    Cheng Kun realized his injury was not light. If he continued leaping, he would be hit again. Thereupon he changed his tactic. He used the ‘xiao qin na shou’ [lit. little ‘grab and capture’ or grappling technique] to fight the enemy.

    This ‘xiao qin na shou’ was very effective to use in close combat in the darkness. It possessed an exquisite ability to adapt to changes in a marvelous and rapid way. Although the eyes could not see, the fingers, palms, arms and elbows could be used to detect the enemy, and then grabbed, clawed, hit, tore, poked, hooked or struck the enemy’s body.

    Xie Xun gave a loud shout and also used the ‘xiao qin na shou’ to fight back.

    The crowd only heard shouts coming out of the dungeon again and again, mixed with rapid noise of fists and palms collided with each other or with the opponent’s body, just like the noise of firecrackers. Large sheets of water splashed out of the dungeon. It appeared that the two men were attacking each other at full speed.

    Zhang Wuji’s heart was thumping madly as he thought that if right this moment his Yifu met a dangerous situation, he would be helpless to render his assistance, since he obviously could not jump into the dungeon to save his Yifu. In his anxiety, his back was wet with cold sweat.

    Xie Xun had been blind for more than twenty years; his ability to distinguish shape from listening to the noise was very well trained. He was accustomed to rely on his ears instead of his eyes. On the other hand, Cheng Kun fought like a blind person amidst the splashing water; he hit and grabbed randomly, so the table was turned in that now he was at a disadvantage.

    Cheng Kun panicked. He could not think of anything else except moving his arm rapidly like a gust of wind under a sudden downpour. He increased the speed of his ‘xiao qin na shou’ while using only killer moves with this thought in his mind, “I am going to stake everything I have; whatever happens, we must return to fighting above the ground.”

    Step by step the crowd of heroes approached the dungeon. Their palms were wet with cold sweats, while their ears heard continuous shouting of Cheng Kun and Xie Xun from underground. It seemed like victory and defeat had not been decided yet.

    Suddenly Cheng Kun’s scream was heard from underground, followed by the two men jumping out of the dungeon together. Under the sunlight, everybody could see that both Cheng Kun and Xie Xun’s eyes were bleeding. The two men stood still, facing each other.

    What happened was: during the fierce battle, with arms open wide, Xie Xun’s palms struck down toward Cheng Kun. Cheng Kun was delighted. “Got you!” he shouted, while the two fingers of his right hand struck Xie Xun’s eyes. It was the move ‘shuang long qiang zhu’ [a pair of dragons fight over a pearl], which was quite common. However, because it was launched in the midst of ‘xiao qin na shou’, it carried an enormous power. He expected the opponent to lean sideways to evade, and then his left hand would sweep across the opponent head. He was certain the opponent’s vital ‘tai yang xue’ [sun acupoint, located on the temples] would be hit. Contrary to his expectation, Xie Xun neither evaded nor blocked his strike; he also shouted, “Got you!” with the same ‘shuang long qiang zhu’ his two fingers poked Cheng Kun’s eyes.

    As soon as Cheng Kun’s fingers pierced Xie Xun’s eyes, like a flash of lightning a thought came into his mind, “Bad!” followed by stabbing pain as his own eyes were pierced by Xie Xun’s two fingers.

    Both men suffered the same injury. However, Xie Xun had been blind for a long time. As he was pierced by Cheng Kun’s fingers, he only suffered some superficial wound. Cheng Kun, on the other hand, had turned blind.

    With a cold laugh Xie Xun said, “Does it feel good, being a blind man?” With a loud shout he launched another punch.

    Cheng Kun could not see anything; he was unable to evade. The ‘Qi Shang Quan’ hit him squarely on the chest. Xie Xun followed with a left hand punch. Cheng Kun staggered several steps backward until his back was against the broken pine tree; blood gushing out from his mouth.

    Suddenly Du E opened his mouth, “Just retribution! Shanzai, shanzai!”

    Xie Xun stopped dead on his track; he had concentrated his power on the third punch, but right now it stopped midway. “I should have punched you thirteen times with the ‘Qi Shang Quan’; but your martial art skill is gone and you are blind, henceforth you have become a handicapped person and thus will not do wicked things on the earth anymore. You need not receive the remaining eleven punches.”

    Seeing that Xie Xun achieved a total victory, Zhang Wuji and the others cheered. But suddenly Xie Xun sat on the ground; the bones on his entire body were cracking.

    Zhang Wuji was shocked, knowing that Xie Xun was using his own internal energy to destroy his own martial art skill. “Yifu,” he hastily said, “Don’t!” He rushed forward and stretching out his hand, using the Jiu Yang Shen Gong, he pressed Xie Xun’s back to stop him.

    Xie Xun suddenly leaped up and fiercely punched his own chest; blood gushing out from his mouth.

    Zhang Wuji busily reached out to support him, but he felt that Xie Xun’s hand was feeble. His martial art skill had definitely gone, and would be very difficult to recover.

    Xie Xun pointed his finger toward Cheng Kun and said, “Cheng Kun, you murdered my entire family. Today I destroyed your eyes and wiped out your martial art skill. We are even now. Shifu, my martial art skill was taught by you. Today I willingly destroyed it; I am giving it back to you. From now on, there is no gratitude nor grudges between me and you. You will never see my face again and I also will never see your face.”

    Cheng Kun pressed his hands on his eyes. He was groaning from the pain, but did not say anything. The crowd of heroes looked at each other; who would have thought that this battle between master and disciple would end up like this?

    In a loud and clear voice Xie Xun said, “I, Xie Xun, have done much wickedness; I have never hoped I would live until today. If there is anyone among the heroes of the world whose family or martial brother died under the Old Xie’s hands, you are free to take the Old Xie’s life. Wuji, you must not stop them, nor you must avenge me in the future and thus adding to your Yifu’s guilt.”

    Zhang Wuji consented with tears in his eyes.

    Although there were quite a number of heroes who harbored deep enmity with Xie Xun, they all saw how Xie Xun had avenged his entire family only by destroying Cheng Kun’s martial art skill. However, Xie Xun’s own martial art was also gone. Therefore, if anybody went forward and stabbed him with a sword, or punched him with a fist, his action would be considered a hero or a warrior’s bad deed.

    Suddenly a man stepped out from among the crowd. “Xie Xun,” he said, “My father, ‘Yan Ling Fei Tian Dao’ [The Wild-Goose-Plume-Flying-to-the-sky Saber] Qiu Lao Yingxiong [old hero Qiu] lost his life under your hands. I am here to avenge my Xian Fu [deceased father]!” Finished speaking, he walked toward Xie Xun.

    “That’s right,” Xie Xun sadly said, “Your honorable father died under my hands. Qiu Xiong [brother Qiu], you may proceed.”

    The man surnamed Qiu drew his saber and took two more steps closer.

    Zhang Wuji could not think straight; if he did not act, his Yifu would lose his life under this man’s saber, but if he stopped this man, he was afraid that he would add to the agony his Yifu had to endure for the rest of his life. Much less, Yifu was blind and had lost his martial art skill; it was difficult to say whether Yifu would live a happy life or not. His body shook; he took two steps forward without intending to do so.

    “Wuji,” Xie Xun roared, “If you stop anybody from exacting their revenge, you are being greatly unfilial to me. After I die, go down into the dungeon and take a look. You will understand everything.”

    The man surnamed Qiu lifted his saber in front of his chest. Suddenly tears started to flow down from his eyes. He spat on Xie Xun’s face and said with a choking voice, “My Xian Fu was a hero. If his spirit in Heaven saw me killing a blind man whose martial art skill has gone, he would be angry with me for being unworthy …” ‘Clang!’ his saber fell to the ground. Covering up his face, he rushed back into the crowd.

    Next, a middle-aged woman came out and said, “Xie Xun, I am here to avenge my husband, ‘Yin Yang Pan Guan’ [‘pan guan’ is a mythological judge of the underworld], Yin Dapeng.” Walking toward Xie Xun, she also spat on his face; then she walked away while crying loudly.

    Seeing his Yifu was being humiliated in succession, outwardly, Zhang Wuji was standing unperturbed, but inwardly, his heart was like being sheared by a knife. The heroes and warriors of the Wulin world considered death lightly, but they would never take any insult. It was called ‘a warrior can be killed, but not disgraced.’ These two people’s spittle on Xie Xun’s face was the greatest insult, but he endured it patiently. It was clear that he acknowledged his sins in the past and that he was pained with regret, and thus he took the repentance seriously.

    One by one people were coming out from the crowd; some slapped Xie Xun on the face, some kicked him, some opened their mouths in curses, but Xie Xun only sit with bowed head, enduring everything in silence. He did not withdraw, he did not even try to talk back.

    In this manner, more than thirty people came out one by one to humiliate Xie Xun. Finally, a Taoist priest with long beard stepped out. He bowed and said, “Pin Dao [lit. impoverished Daoist – referring to self] Taixu Zi [Translator’s note: I am not an expert in Daoism, but it seems to me that many Taoist priest used ‘Zi’ (lit. son or male child) as the last part (suffix?) of their title. Remember the Seven Quanzhen priests? Anyway, this priest’s name means ‘great emptiness’]. My two Shixiong lost their lives under Xie Daxia’s fists. Looking at Xie Daxia’s character today, Pin Dao is deeply ashamed. Pin Dao’s sword has also killed innumerable warriors, both from the black and white worlds. If I came to you to seek revenge, other people would also come to me to seek revenge.” Having said that, he drew his sword, his left hand reached up and plucked the blade of the sword with his fingers. ‘Clang!’ the sword broke into two. He tossed the broken sword to the ground, saluted Xie Xun, turned around and left.

    The crowd of heroes broke into soft murmurs. This Taixu Zi was not very well known in the Jianghu, yet his martial art skill was actually superb. However, what was harder to come by was his broadmindedness; his ability to rebuke himself.

    After he left, it seemed like no one else would come out to make things difficult for Xie Xun. To everybody’s surprise, while they were still talking among themselves, a middle-aged nun stepped out from among the Emei Pai’s crowd. She walked toward Xie Xun and said, “To avenge my husband’s murder, I also will resolve it by spitting on you!” As soon as she said that, she opened her mouth and spat toward Xie Xun’s forehead. Who would have thought that this spittle carried a strong gust of wind? Turned out it was not spittle, but a date stone steel nail.

    Xie Xun heard the difference in the sound of the wind. He smiled bitterly, but did not evade at all. He thought, “If I die right now, it can be considered already too late.”

    Suddenly a yellow shadow flashed by. The lady in yellow dashed forward. Her sleeve swished, and the date stone nail was rolled inside the sleeve. “How must we address Shitai by your Buddhist title?” she asked sternly.

    As the nun saw her attack fail, a slightly frightened expression appeared on her face. “I am called Jing Zhao [lit. still/calm/quiet illumination],” she said.

    “Hmm, Jing Zhao, Jing Zhao …” the lady in yellow said, “Before you left home to become a nun, what was your husband’s name? How did he die under Xie Daxia’s hands?”

    Jing Zhao angrily said, “What does it have to do with you? Why do you meddle in other people’s business?”

    The lady in yellow replied, “Xie Daxia repents from his former sins. If anybody wanted to avenge his father, brother, martial family or friends, even if he is cut into thousand pieces, Xie Daxia would accept his fate willingly; other people have no right to interfere. But if there are people with malicious intention, trying to fish in the muddled water, trying to kill him to shut his mouth, then it becomes everybody’s business.”

    Jing Zhao said, “Between Xie Xun and I, there are no grudges and no enmity; why would I want to kill him to shut his …” The last word ‘mouth’ had not come out of her mouth when she suddenly realized she had blundered. She stopped abruptly. Her face turned deathly pale; and she could not help but cast a glance toward Zhou Zhiruo.

    “That’s right,” the lady in yellow said, “You have no grudges and no enmity with Xie Daxia, then why did you want to kill him to shut his mouth? Humph, among the twelve Emei Pai’s ‘Jing’ generation nuns, Jing Xuan, Jing Xu, Jing Kong, Jing Hui, Jing Jia, and Jing Zhao, are all virgins when they left home. Where did the husband come from?”

    Without saying anything, Jing Zhao turned around and walked away.

    “Do you think it’s this easy to walk away just like that?” the lady in yellow barked.

    Rushing two steps forward, her palm reached out to grab her shoulder. Jing Zhao turned her shoulder to evade. The lady in yellow’s right index finger pierced toward her waist, followed by a kick to hit the ‘huan tiao xue’ [‘hop the loop’ acupoint] on her thigh. Jing Zhao grunted and fell down to the ground.

    “Miss Zhou,” in a cold voice the lady in yellow said, “This ploy of killing someone to shut his mouth is very cruel.”

    In the same cold voice Zhou Zhiruo replied, “Jing Zhao Shijie is seeking revenge against Xie Xun. What ‘killing someone to shut his mouth’?” Waving her left hand she said, “There are countless disciples from prestigious upright sects in here who fail to distinguish the just from the evil, willingly associate themselves with unorthodox demonic sects. It’s not worthwhile for Emei Pai to be involved with the murky water. Let’s go.”

    The Emei Pai crowd responded together and stood up immediately. Two female disciples helped Jing Zhao. The lady in yellow did not stop them. Zhou Zhiruo led her fellow disciples going down the peak.

    Zhang Wuji walked toward the lady in yellow. Cupping his fists, he said, “I have received many help from Jiejie; my gratitude is beyond words. I wish to know your illustrious name, so that Zhang Wuji can cherish it in his heart day and night.”

    The lady in yellow showed a faint smile. She said, “Behind the Mount Zhong Nan, the Tomb of the Living Dead, the Divine Eagle and Gallant Knights vanished from the Jianghu.” [Translator’s note: it was like a poem of four characters each: Zhong Nan Shan Hou, Huo Si Ren Mu, Shen Diao Xia Lu, Jue Ji Jiang Hu.] Finished speaking, she tucked her gown and returned the salute. Her hand beckoned, the eight young maidens wearing black and white followed her floating away.

    Zhang Wuji took a step forward and said, “Jiejie, please stay.”

    Unexpectedly, the lady in yellow did not pay him any attention; she continued going down the peak.

    “Yang Jiejie, Yang Jiejie!” the young Clan Leader of the Beggar Clan, Shi Hongshi called out.

    From the waist of the hill came the lady in yellow’s reply, “I am asking Zhang Jiaozhu’s unreserved involvement in helping the Beggar Clan solving their important matters.”

    “Wuji accepts the order,” Zhang Wuji replied in loud and clear voice.

    “Many thanks, then!” the lady said. These three words ‘duo xie le’ came from a distant, since she had been far away, but her voice was still very clear. Zhang Wuji could not help but feel a sudden emptiness in his heart.

    Kong Zhi went to Cheng Kun and sternly shouted, “Yuan Zhen, quickly tell your followers to release the Fangzhang. If there is any unexpected misfortune to the old Fangzhang, you will heap more sin to your head.”

    Forcing a smile, Cheng Kun said, “Since things have come this far, everybody will perish together. Even if I want to release Kong Wen He Shang [monk Kong Wen] now, I am afraid we are already too late. You are not blind, are you? Can’t you see the blazing flame?”

    Kong Zhi was taken aback, he turned his head to look down from the peak and saw black smoke and tongues of fire rising up from the Temple complex. Startled, he said, “The Damo Hall is on fire! Quickly put out the fire!”

    The crowd of monks was thrown into confusion; they scrambled down the hill at once. Suddenly they saw from all around the Damo Hall columns of water like white dragons rose up and poured down on the blaze, suppressing the flame.

    “Amituofo,” Kong Zhi joined his palms and chanted the name of Buddha, “The ancient Shaolin Temple has once again escape disaster.”

    Not too long afterwards, two monks rushed up the peak to give their report, “Reporting to Shishu [martial (younger) uncle], the rebel followers of Yuan Zhen set fire to burn down the Damo Hall. Fortunately, for the sake of justice and loyalty, the heroes under the Hong Shui Flag of the Ming Cult have extinguished the raging fire.”

    Kong Zhi went toward Zhang Wuji, joined his palms and said, “The thousand years old ancient temple Shaolin is spared from the fire, all thanks to Zhang Jiaozhu’s great kindness and virtue; one the old monk will never be able to repay even if my body is ground to powder.”

    Zhang Wuji returned the salute and answered modestly, “We only did what we ought to do; Da Shi need not be overly courteous.”

    Kong Zhi said, “Kong Wen Shixiong is being held prisoner in the Damo Hall by this traitor. Although the fire is out, I do not know Shixiong’s safety yet. Zhang Jiaozhu and the other heroes please wait here for a moment, Laodi [lit. old younger brother – referring to self] must go and see.”

    Cheng Kun laughed out loud and said, “Kong Wen’s entire body is smeared with butter and lard, as soon as he met the fire, he would turn into charcoal immediately. Hong Shui Flag can save the Damo Hall, they cannot save the Old Fangzhang.”

    From the waist of the hill suddenly came a voice, “If Hong Shui Flag failed, there is still Hou Tu Flag.” It was Fan Yao’s voice. He had just finished speaking when he appeared with Hou Tu Flag Leader, Yan Yuan, on the peak, each holding the hand of an old monk walking between them. It was none other than the Shaolin Temple Abbot, Kong Wen. However, the three men’s clothes were scorched; their eyebrows were partially burned. They looked battered and exhausted.

    Kong Zhi rushed forward to embrace Kong Wen. “Shixiong,” he called out, “Are you well? Shidi is incompetent, I am guilty and deserve ten thousand deaths.”

    Kong Wen smiled and said, “If not because of these Fan Shizhu [benevolent master, donor] and Yan Shizhu came out from the tunnel, you and I would have to say goodbye to each other today.”

    Kong Zhi was astonished. “The Ming Cult’s Hou Tu Flag’s ability to dig tunnels is divine.” He bowed deeply to Fan Yao and Yan Yuan to express his gratitude, and then said, “Fan Shizhu, Laoseng [old monk – referring to self] was rude and offensive to you; please forgive me. Laoseng does not dare to go to the appointment at the Wan An Temple of Dadu.”

    When a Wulin character made an appointment for a martial art competition and ate his own words by not showing up, the loss of face he would experience would be ten thousand times worse than if he lost because of inferior skill. Kong Zhi was endlessly grateful toward Fan Yao for risking his life in saving his Shixiong’s life; hence he was willing to break his own promise. These two men admired each other to begin with. After this incident, their respect for each other grew. From now on, they became the very best of friends.

    Turned out Cheng Kun had made a comprehensive arrangement in advance. On the eve of the Great Heroes Assembly, he caught Kong Wen off guard and sealed his acupoint, and held him prisoner inside the Damo Hall. The Hall was filled with sulfur, firewood and other flammable material. Then he assigned his trusted aides to stand guard. He coerced Kong Zhi to do everything he commanded, or else he would set the fire and burn Kong Wen to his death. When things did not turn out the way he planned later, when everything did not happen as he anticipated, when he believed his plan had failed completely, he issued an order to his cronies to set the fire as his last gambit to ‘break the cauldrons and sink the boats’. He was hoping that when the crowd of heroes and monks were busy putting off the fire, his cronies might have a chance to help him escape down the mountain.

    Unexpectedly, Yang Xiao and the Ming Cult army arrived at the Shaoshi Peak a few days early. The Hou Tu Flag was immediately ordered to dig a tunnel toward the Shaolin Temple, originally, it was to rescue Xie Xun, but Xie Xun was not imprisoned inside the Temple at all.

    As the Hou Tu Flag people looked everywhere with no avail, they took the opportunity to erase the writing on the back of the sixteen Luohan images. Later on, after Zhang Wuji and Zhou Zhiruo battled the Jin Gang Fu Mo Quan, and Cheng Kun’s real identity was revealed and he was confronted in front of Kong Zhi and everybody else, Zhao Min and Yang Xiao immediately guessed thru his plan.

    After a short discussion, they asked Fan Yao to lead Hong Shui and Hou Tu, two Flags, to infiltrate the Temple and find Kong Wen. However, Cheng Kun’s arrangement was extremely thorough and ominous; sulfur and firewood were piled high inside and outside the Damo Hall. As soon as a fire was ignited, the Hall caught in a blazing inferno, burning five Hou Tu Flag disciples to their deaths. Fan Yao and Yan Yuan moved quickly through the smoke and fire to rescue Kong Wen. Still, the three of them suffered some burns on their clothes, hair and eyebrows. If not for the tunnel, they would not escape and would be buried under the burning hall.

    Damo Hall, as well as several adjacent buildings, suffered heavy damages from the fire. Fortunately the fire did not spread further, the Da Xiong Bao Dian [great heroic precious hall], the library, the Luohan Hall, and other important places did not suffer any damage.

    After a short discussion, Kong Wen and Kong Zhi issued an order for Cheng Kun and his followers to be detained in the rear hall, waiting for further instructions. Cheng Kun had been staying in the Shaolin Temple for quite a long time, he had made a lot of friends and gathered quite a bit of followers, but as the leader was apprehended and the Abbot escaped from danger, Cheng Kun’s supporters realized their cause was lost. They did not offer any resistance and were led down the peak by the monks, under the leadership of the Luohan Hall’s chief monk, with their head hung low in dejection.

    Zhang Wuji came near Xie Xun and could only call out, “Yifu!” while tears streaming down his face like rain.

    “Silly Child!” Xie Xun laughed, “Your Yifu is enlightened by the three eminent monks and has passed through to great awakenings. My lifetime of crimes have been resolved, every single one of them. You should be very happy for me, why would you be grieving? Why would you feel sorry that I lost my martial art skill? Do you want me to use it to do evil again in the future?”

    Zhang Wuji could not think of anything to answer, but there was pain in his heart; he called out again, “Yifu!”

    Xie Xun went toward Kong Wen and kneeled down saying, “Disciple’s sin is grave, I hope for Fangzhang to offer a shelter by taking me under your discipleship.”

    Kong Wen had not answered when Du E said, “Come, let Laoseng take you as my disciple.”

    Xie Xun said, “Disciple does not dare to hope for such good fortune.” He asked Kong Wen to be his master, because then he would be a ‘Yuan’ generation disciple. If he entered Du E tutelage, then he would have a ‘Kong’ generation rank, which was at the same level of seniority with Kong Wen and Kong Zhi, two martial brothers.

    “Rubbish!” Du E barked, “’Kong’ is empty, ‘Yuan’ is also empty. I would have thought that you’d understand it by now!”

    Xie Xun was startled, but he understood immediately. Master-disciple relationship was a mere distinction of the Buddhist title; it was all illusory for Buddhist followers. Thereupon, he recited a Buddhist verse, “Master is empty, disciple is empty, no guilt no responsibility, no virtue no merit!”

    Du E laughed out loud and said, “Shanzai, shanzai! You have become a disciple of our school, yet you are still called Xie Xun. Do you understand?”

    “Disciple understands,” Xie Xun replied, “Xie Xun is ox dung. Everything is but a shadow, the body does not exist, let alone a name?”

    Xie Xun was skilled in both pen and sword [orig. ‘wen wu cuan cai’], there wasn’t any ‘zhu zi bai jia’ [lit. many sages, hundred schools, a general term for all the pre-Han schools of thought] he did not pry into. With a little enlightenment from Du E, he became aware of the essential meaning of Buddhism. Henceforth he entered Buddhism and eventually became an eminent monk himself.

    “Enter the rest, enter the rest!” Du E said, “Only by comprehending the way one will avoid devil's traps!” Taking Xie Xun by the hand, he went down the peak unhurriedly with Du Jie and Du Nan following behind.

    Kong Wen, Kong Zhi, Zhang Wuji, and the others bowed to send them off. The Golden-Haired Lion King’s name shook the Jianghu thirty years ago by doing countless deeds which offended the whole society. Today he entered the empty gate, there wasn’t anyone among the crowd of heroes who did not sigh with mixed feelings. Zhang Wuji’s heart was filled with joy mixed with sorrow.

    Kong Wen said, “The presence of the heroes has brightened our humble Temple. We are ashamed that there was a sudden change in the Temple that we have offended many people and were not able to perform our duty as the host. The heroes from all over the world have gathered here. We do not know when we will meet again. Therefore, we would like to invite you all to stay in our Temple for a few more days.”

    The crowd of heroes went down the peak to enter the Temple. Shaolin Temple prepared vegetarian banquet for the guests. The monks immediately performed a religious ceremony on behalf of the heroes who were unfortunate to lose their lives during the great assembly. One by one the crowd of heroes also offered sacrifices to express their condolences.

    As the important matters were resolved, there remained many unclear businesses in Zhang Wuji’s heart. Since Xie Xun left in a hurry, he did not have time to inquire about doubts and suspicions troubling his heart. He only had a feeling that the key to this mystery was somewhat related to Zhou Zhiruo. Thinking about their former relationship, he felt that he did not need to scrutinize everything and thus damage her reputation.

    After dinner, Zhang Wuji visited Shi Hongshi and the Beggar Clan elders at the western chambers to discuss important matters within the Beggar Clan. Suddenly a Ming Cult disciple rushed in with a report, “Jiaozhu, the Wudang Zhang Si Xia [fourth hero Zhang] has arrived. He has an important matter to discuss with you.”

    Zhang Wuji was startled, “Could it be that Tai Shifu has met some mishaps?” He quickly went out and walked toward the main hall.

    He knelt down in front of Zhang Songxi, but did not see anything different on his expression, thereupon he felt relieved. “Is Tai Shifu well?” he asked.

    “Shifu is well,” Zhang Songxi replied, “At Mount Wudang I received information that the Yuan cavalry, twenty thousand strong, is heading to the direction of Shaolin Temple. Obviously, they do not have good intentions toward the Heroes Assembly. Therefore, I come here in the middle of the night to inform you.”

    “We must let Fangzhang know as soon as possible,” Zhang Wuji said. Two men immediately went to the rear courtyard and informed Kong Wen.

    Kong Wen thought for a moment. “This matter implicates a lot of things; we must discuss it with the crowd of heroes.” Thereupon he ordered a monk to sound the alarm, inviting everybody to the Da Xiong Bao Dian.

    As soon as they were alerted, the crowd of heroes discussed the matter at hand. The hot-blooded among them said, “While the heroes from all over the world gather here, let us go down the mountain to catch them off guard and slaughter them.”

    The more experienced among them said, “The Yuan army is always on the move. Perhaps this is one of their routine relocation operations. They might not necessarily come to give us trouble.”

    Zhang Songxi said, “I understand Mongolians; I heard it with my own ears the Tatar officer ordering his troops to attack the Shaolin Temple.”

    By that time, the Mongolians had been occupying the Central Plains for more than a hundred years; the number of Han people who understand Mongolian language was not small. Zhang Songxi was intelligent and experienced; he understood a considerable number of dialects from different towns and villages, and was quite fluent in Mongolian.

    “Gentlemen Heroes,” Kong Wen said, “It appears that the imperial court has found out about our assembly in here, and they decided our meeting is not beneficial to the imperial court, and thus they dispatch an army to suppress us. We are all martial art practitioners, and we are not afraid of the Tatars. We are ready to cope with anything, we will resist by whatever means available, we …” He had not finished his speech when some people started cheering and clapping.

    Kong Wen continued, “However, we are Jianghu’s warriors who are accustomed to fight one on one; if not using a blade or fists and kicks, then using internal energy and secret projectiles. We are not experts in fighting on horseback or using long spear and double-ended lance. In Laoseng’s opinion; how about the heroes go down the mountain and disband?”

    The crowd of heroes looked at each other in silence. Zhang Wuji said, “If we go down and disband, first, the Tatars would think we are afraid of them and we will unavoidably crush the spirit of the people. Second, what will happen to the masters in the Shaolin Temple?”

    Kong Wen smiled and said, “If the Yuan army come to the Temple and only see a bunch of monks and not Jianghu warriors, they would certainly leave us alone. This is called ‘arrive in high spirit, return in disappointment.’”

    The crowd of warriors knew that Kong Wen said this out of his good intention. The crowd of heroes was invited by Shaolin Pai; of course they did not want their guests to face disaster and shed their blood on the Shaoshi Peak. But this crowd of heroes was all people of courage and uprightness; they would not flinch in front of the enemy, naturally, they were unwilling to leave. Besides, the imperial government had already dispatched their troops. They simply would not return empty-handed. They would definitely trouble the Shaolin Temple. Most likely, they would kill most monks and capture the rest, and then they would probably burn the Temple down. The Mongolian soldiers were well known of their brutality; killing and burning were not foreign to them.

    Yang Xiao said, “The Tatars kill without mercy. It is the duty of all Han people to fight the enemy. In my humble opinion, we have no other choice but to fight. We must battle them someplace else so that this thousand-year ancient Temple will be spared of the catastrophe of war.”

    The crowd of heroes applauded in agreement. “Let it be so,” they said.

    When they were still talking, from outside the gate suddenly came the sound of hoof beats; two riders galloped near. The horses stopped with a neigh outside the door. Two men, ushered by the monk in charge of visitor reception entered the hall in a hurry. As soon as the crowd of heroes saw the riders’ clothes, they knew these men were Ming Cult disciples.

    The two men walked before Zhang Wuji, bowed in salute and one of them reported, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: Tatar vanguard army of five thousand troops has arrived to attack Shaolin Temple. They say the Shifus in the Temple are gathering a crowd to rebel, so they are here to flatten Shaolin. All shiny … shiny …”

    Kong Wen smiled and said, “You were about to say ‘shiny head monks’, weren’t you? Those words are not taboo. Please continue.”

    The man said, “Along the way, the Tatars have killed many monks. The Tatars say: ‘Shiny heads are not good people, those with hair are also not good people; they all deserved to be put to death by the blade.’”

    A lot of people raised their voices, they all said, “If we don’t fight a life and dead battle against the Tatars, we are ashamed to be the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.”

    Although by that time the Song dynasty had been subjugated by foreign power for almost a hundred years, the mainstream heroes and warriors had always considered Mongolians soldiers and officers as barbarians. They were unwilling to be the foreigners’ subjects. This time hearing how the Mongolian troops went on a killing spree, their blood boiled and everybody wanted to go to battle.

    “Gentlemen, the heroes,” in a loud and clear voice Zhang Wuji said, “Today is the day we, the Han men, kill the enemy to serve our country. The name of the Great Assembly of Shaolin Temple will go down the history for thousands of years!”

    The Great Hall shook with the deafening cheers of the people.

    Zhang Wuji continued, “We can’t go back now even if we want to. I am asking Kong Wen Fangzhang to give us the order. We, the Ming Cult, from top to bottom will follow with all our hearts.”

    “Zhang Jiaozhu, what are you talking about?” Kong Wen said, “Although our humble Sect’s monks have learned a little bit punching and kicking, we know nothing about marching in the army and going to war. In the last several years the Ming Cult has initiated such a great undertaking; who in the Jianghu has not heard about it? Only the Ming Cult has the resources to fight Tatars’ large army. We nominate Zhang Jiaozhu to hold the commander position and lead the heroes from all over the world to fight the Tatars.”

    Zhang Wuji tried to decline modestly, but the crowd of heroes had already cheered loudly. It was true that Zhang Wuji was young and inexperienced, but his martial art skill was strong. His power in fighting the three Shaolin monks had been witnessed by everybody present. In addition, the success of Han Shantong, Xu Shouhui, Zhu Yuanzhang and the other Ming Cult generals in staging rebellions, attacking cities and capturing territories in such places as Huai Si River, Hunan and Hubei, and other areas had shaken the world. Earlier, the people had also seen the Five-Element Flags displaying their full capabilities in the arena. No other school or sect possessed these kinds of skills. The warriors from various sects and clans all agreed that nobody else fit to take such a big responsibility other than the Ming Cult.

    Zhang Wuji said, “I [orig. zai4xia4] have never learned how to manage soldiers. Please elect other capable person to be in charge.”

    While he was still declining modestly, from the foot of the mountain came the rumbling noise of people shouting and fighting. Two Shaolin monks rushed into the Hall and reported, “Reporting to Fangzhang: the Mongolian army has attacked our mountain.”

    Zhang Wuji said, “Rui Jin, Hong Shui, two Flags, are going to be the first to engage the enemy. Mr. Zhou Dian, Tie Guan Daozhang [Priest Tie Guan (‘hard hat’)], you are to assist these two flags.” Zhou Dian and Priest Tie Guan complied and quickly left.

    The situation this time was so urgent that it did not allow Zhang Wuji to decline anymore. He had no choice but issue his orders: “Shuo Bude Shifu, please take my Sheng Huo Ling and go to our Cult’s encampments in the surrounding area. Tell them to go up the mountain to lend their assistance.” Shou Bude took the tablet and left.

    As the crowd of heroes in the Great Hall heard about the Yuan’s army arrival to destroy them, they drew their weapons and rushed out.

    “Jiaozhu,” in a low voice Yang Xiao said, “If you don’t take command, these people will fight randomly, and they will certainly be defeated.”

    Zhang Wuji nodded and ran out the Hall. He went to the pavilion halfway down the mountain and saw thousands of the Mongolian vanguard troops had arrived at the waist of the mountain. The Rui Jin Flag drove them back down by a salvo of arrows and javelins.

    As far as eyes could see, the Mongolian troops were creeping up; their power looked so intimidating. Although their prestige was far below Genghis Khan’s army, whose power overawed foreign lands, the Mongolian cavalry, after all, was very well trained and was still holding their reputation as unmatched elite troops.

    Suddenly from the left came loud shouts as a large number of nuns, men and women ran up the mountain. They were the Emei Pai contingent, which was on their way down the mountain when they met the Mongolian army and was driven back up. About a dozen or so men were carrying stretchers and other things. They were surrounded by the Mongolian soldiers.

    Leading Jing Xuan, Jing Zhao, and several other senior disciples, Zhou Zhiruo charged and killed the enemy. But although they had killed dozens of Mongolian officers and soldiers, they still could not penetrate the enemy’s siege and save their fellow disciples.

    “Not good!” Zhang Wuji groaned inwardly, “One of the stretchers must be carrying Song Shige!”

    “Hong Shui, Lie Huo, two flags, cover us!” he shouted, “Fan and Yang two Emissaries, Wei Xiong [brother Wei], follow me to save people!” He jumped and rushed down.

    Two Mongolian soldiers thrust their lances straight toward him. With one hand Zhang Wuji grabbed one lance; exerting his strength he shook the lance and the two Yuan soldiers were thrown down the mountain. He turned the lance over and like a pair of dragons diving into the sea, the pair of lances plunged into the crowd.

    Yang Xiao, Fan Yao, Wei Yixiao, Peng Yingyu, and the others followed. The Mongolian soldiers scattered and a passageway has opened behind Zhou Zhiruo’s group.

    Fan Yao threw a punch, crushing the face of a Yuan army’s Shi Fu Zhang [leader of a ten-man unit]. He then snatched the person on the stretcher and turned around to leave.

    Zhang Wuji saw that Zhou Zhiruo’s body and face were covered in blood; he charged back into the Yuan soldiers’ encirclement. “Zhiruo, Zhiruo!” he called out, “Song Dage is saved!”

    Zhou Zhiruo did not pay him any attention; she kept wielding her whip and charged ahead, but the mountain pathway was too narrow. Moreover, it was crammed full of soldiers so that after a while she could not charge anywhere anymore. Zhang Wuji saw two more Emei disciples carrying another stretcher were being caught up in the encirclement; they were brandishing their swords in a desperate struggle against the Yuan army.

    “Looks like Song Shige is on that stretcher,” Zhang Wuji thought. Dodging an attack, he jumped into the encirclement. He pulled two spears, which hit the rock wall and stuck, and then moving his hands and feet, he used the spears as stilts. When he was still a little more than a ‘zhang’ away, he saw the two Emei disciples were hit one after another by a saber and an arrow. They fell and both disciple and the stretcher rolled down the mountain. Zhang Wuji flew in; with the spear in his left hand he stopped the stretcher. He saw the person on the stretcher was wrapped in plain cloth from head to toe; only the face was exposed. It was indeed Song Qingshu.

    Zhang Wuji threw the spears and carried Song Qingshu horizontally in his arms. He was surprised to feel Song Qingshu was exceptionally heavy. Apparently, there was a hard and stiff object inside the plain cloth wrap. Zhang Wuji did not have time to think about it, he was afraid that all this twisting and turning would break Song Qingshu’s skull. Dodging to the left and evading to the right, he tried to stay away from the rain of sabers and spears of the Yuan cavalry, while keeping his steps exceptionally smooth and stable.

    Tang Wenliang and Zong Weixia of Kongtong Pai charged together, protecting Zhang Wuji on either side. Their pair of swords stabbed and blocked, the Yuan troops fell one by one under their swords. Carrying Song Qingshu in his arms, Zhang Wuji made a steady progress going up the mountain. Several hundreds of Yuan soldiers arranged themselves in formation.

    “Lie Huo Flag, move to action!” Peng Yingyu called out.

    The Lie Huo Flag men spurted oil from their spray guns, followed by shooting the rockets one by one. Raging flames rolled in waves, burning more than two hundred Yuan soldiers. Their burning bodies rolled down the mountain like balls of fire.

    On the other side, the Hong Shui Flag’s hoses belched out poisonous water, spraying several hundred Yuan troops. The dead and the injured scattered on the mountainside. The Yuan army’s Wan Fu Zhang [leader of ten-thousand-man unit] ordered his troops to retreat. The front end of the formation changed into the rear. Shooting the arrows to prevent the enemy from pursuing, the army drew back slowly.

    Peng Yingyu sighed and said, “Although they are defeated, the Tatars army does not get chaotic. They are truly world caliber elite troops.”

    The Yuan army withdrew to the base of the mountain, and then spread out in a fan-shaped formation. It appeared they were not going to attack again, at least for the time being.

    Zhang Wuji issued his order, “Rui Jin, Hong Shui and Lie Huo, three flags to defend the major road going up the mountain. Ju Mu and Hou Tu, two flags to quickly cut lumber and construct barriers to guard against the enemy attack.”

    All the Five-Element Flags leaders accepted the order in one voice, and then went separate ways to lead their people laying out a defense.

    Previously, the crowd of heroes thought that although they might not be able to completely kill Tatars troops, defending themselves certainly would not be too difficult, would it? However, in the battle just now they experienced the power of the Yuan army first hand. Now they realized that large-scale battle was substantially different than fighting one-on-one in a martial art competition. With thousands upon thousands soldiers surging in like a tide of people, even someone excelled in martial art like Zhou Zhiruo would not have the opportunity to unleash her full potential. In a forest of sabers, spears, swords and lances, where everybody was chopping and killing everybody else, the skill they learned in normal time, be it weaponry or bare fist bare foot, internal or external strength, everything lost its usefulness. If the Ming Cult’s Five Element Flags did not use troops formation to fight troops formation, at this moment there would be wretched mourning on the Shaoshi Peak; while the Shaolin Temple would turn into charred rubble under the raging fire.

    Actually, Shaolin monks were also following some kind of discipline. They were divided into teams of younger monks, armed with monk staves and sabers, under the leadership of more senior monks. These teams spread out all around the Temple to guard all strategic locations. However, their number was simply too small; it was impossible for them to withstand the attack of twenty-thousand Mongolian elite troops.

    The crowd of heroes broke into discussion with one another as they saw Yuan army retreat. Now they understood why the previous dynasty, which was defended by a large number of heroes and warriors with superior martial art skill, was still unable to prevent their ‘river and mountain’ [‘jiang shan’ – country] from falling into the Tatars’ hands.

    Zhang Wuji gently placed Song Qingshu on the floor and looked for his breath. Luckily, he was still breathing. Turning his head, he wanted to talk to Zhou Zhiruo, but he did not see her anywhere.

    “Where is Mrs. Song?” he asked. But everybody was busy fighting the Yuan force; nobody paid any attention to where Zhou Zhiruo was going. By this time, Emei Pai disciples’ hostility toward the Ming Cult had been reduced substantially, yet they also said that they had not seen their Sect Leader.

    Zhang Wuji was afraid that Song Qingshu’s injury had worsened in the confusion of the battle just now; he decided to take off the wrapping on Song Qingshu’s body and examine him carefully.

    There were three layers of wrapping cloth on Song Qingshu’s body. By the time Zhang Wuji had loosened the second layer, ‘clang, clang, clang,’ four pieces of broken weapon fell down. Zhang Wuji was startled. “Tulong Saber, Yitian Sword!” he called out.

    One after another the crowd of heroes came near and stood around him. They saw the blades of both the Tulong Saber and the Yitian Sword were broken into two parts each. Zhang Wuji picked the half Tulong Saber, which still felt rather heavy in his hand. At that moment, all sorts of feeling welled up in his heart. He remembered his own parents lost their lives because of this Saber. For the last twenty years or so the Jianghu was in continuous trouble, all because of this Saber. The primary intention of the crowd of heroes gathered in Shaolin was also for this treasured saber. He could not imagine that this Saber suddenly reappeared broken and turned into a useless thing.

    As he lifted the Saber closer, he noticed that the broken part was hollow; large enough to conceal something. The Yitian Sword was also hollow. However, both holes were empty. Someone must have taken whatever object that was previously hidden inside.

    Yang Xiao sighed, “Turned out Miss Zhou’s astounding martial art skill came from these Saber and Sword.”

    Looking at the appearance of the broken sections of the Saber and the Sword, Zhang Wuji suddenly realized that when the Saber and the Sword went missing on that little island, they were taken by Zhou Zhiruo. Somehow she managed to banish Zhao Min, kill Yin Li, and strike the Saber and the Sword to each other, and thus two sharpest weapons in the world gave up and broke. She then took the concealed secret martial art manual and trained surreptitiously.

    “That’s right,” he thought. The more Zhang Wuji thought, his mind grew clearer, “On that island, when I tried to use the Jiu Yang Shen Gong to drive the poison out from her body, I felt a strange internal energy vaguely resisting my strength. Later, this strange energy grew stronger. Obviously her internal energy cultivation has made some advancement. Ay! Because of her impatience to get a quick result, she did not cultivate a strong internal energy foundation, but took a shortcut by training a ruthless and evil martial art skill. In the end, she will not be able to reach the perfection of the martial art study. She had defeated Yu Er Bo and Yin Liu Shu, but it was because she was relying on strange moves, thus gaining the advantage of surprise, just like when I was defeated under the Central Cult’s Wind and Cloud, three Emissaries’ hands in the past. Zhiruo’s real skill is still far inferior to Yu and Yin, two uncles. If they fight again in the future, she will certainly die under the hands of Wudang Heroes …”

    When he was still deep in thought, the Rui Jin Flag Leader, Wu Jingcao stepped forward and said, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: your subordinate came from a blacksmith family. I have learned how to forge metal into saber and sword. Let subordinate give it a try. Perhaps I can fix these treasured Saber and Sword.”

    Yang Xiao was delighted. “Wu Qishi’s [flag leader Wu] skill as a swordsmith is unparalleled in the world. Jiaozhu, there is no harm in letting him try.”

    Zhang Wuji nodded. “It is indeed a pity that these sharp weapons are broken like this. Wu Qishi, you might as well give it a try.”

    Wu Jingcao turned toward the Lie Huo Flag Leader, Xin Ran, and said, “The most important ingredient in sword making is the fire. I will need Xin Xiong’s wholehearted assistance. From the look of it, the Tatars will not going to attack the mountain for a while; what do you say we two brothers start working together rightaway?”

    Xin Ran said with a laugh, “Making fire is actually Xiongdi’s [brother, general term] expertise.”

    Thereupon the two of them ordered their subordinates to build a blast furnace, with an opening not more than one foot wide. Laying bricks, Wu Jingcao firmly clamped the top section of the Tulong Saber inside the furnace with the broken end toward the fire. There were all kinds of fuel and flammable materials in the Lie Huo Flag that in an instant the furnace was blazing hot with raging fire.

    Wu Jingcao had lost his right arm, only his left arm was left. He arranged a dozen or so swords and sabers by his side. His eyes were fixed on the fire. Each time the fire changed color, he put a blade inside the furnace to test the strength of the fire. When the fire turned from blue to white, his left hand quickly grabbed a pair of steel pliers and pinching the other half section of the Tulong Saber, he joined it with the top section, and held it in the fire. He was bare-chested; sparks landed on his body, but he seemed oblivious, his attention was focused completely on the task at hand.

    Zhang Wuji thought, “Although being a swordsmith is a humble occupation, it actually requires great knowledge and great ability. An ordinary blacksmith would not be able to endure even this blistering hot furnace.”

    Suddenly, ‘bonk, bonk’, the two Lie Huo Flag men who were pumping the bellows fainted and fell on the floor. Xin Ran and the Lie Huo Flag’s Vice Flag Leader quickly stepped in. They pulled their two fainted men and then took their place in pumping the bellows. These two men’s internal energy cultivation was not bad; as they exerted their strength, blast of air made the fire inside the stove blazing high, reaching about a ‘zhang’ above the smokestack, creating quite a spectacle.

    About half the time to burn an incense-stick later, Wu Jingcao suddenly cried out, “Aiyo!” and jumped backwards with disappointment on his face. Everybody was stunned; when they looked at his hand, they saw the steel pliers in his hand had melted and deformed beyond recognition, while the Tulong Saber did not show the slightest bit of melting.

    Wu Jingcao shook his head and said, “Subordinate is incompetent; this treasured Tulong Saber’s reputation is truly justified.”

    Xin Ran and his second in command stopped pumping and stepped aside. Their clothes were soaking wet with perspiration, as if they had just swam in the water fully clothed.

    “Wuji Gege,” Zhao Min suddenly said, “Wasn’t even the Tulong Saber not able to chop the Sheng Huo Ling tablets?”

    “Ah, that’s right!” Zhang Wuji said.

    Out of six Sheng Huo Ling tablets, one was taken by Shuo Bude going down the mountain to call for reinforcement; there were still five tablets left. Zhang Wuji took these five tablets and handed them over to Wu Jingcao, while saying, “If the Saber and the Sword cannot be fixed, that’s all right. Sheng Huo Ling is our Cult’s most precious object. We simply must not damage it.”

    “Yes!” Wu Jingcao replied, while bowing down to receive the tablets. He looked at the five tablets and noticed that the tablets were made neither of steel nor iron; they were hard like nothing he had seen. He estimated the weigh to be about more or less a catty [approx. 1 lb or 0.5kg]. Lowering his head, he pondered deeply.

    “If you are unsure, you don’t have to take a risk,” Zhang Wuji said.

    Wu Jingcao did not reply. After a while, he awoke from his deep thought and said, “Subordinate did not promptly reply, begging Jiaozhu’s pardon. This Sheng Huo Ling was cast using ‘bai jin, xuan tie’ [lit. white gold – platinum, black/mysterious iron (same material as Yang Guo’s heavy sword)], blended with ‘jin gang sha’ [lit. very hard steel (or diamond) powder/granule] and other materials; ordinary blaze would not smelt it. Subordinate was pondering deeply how it was made in the past. It was truly unthinkable; thereupon I was lost in thought for a while.”

    Zhao Min cast a sidelong glance toward Zhang Wuji. Pursing her mouth, she laughed and said, “When Jiaozhu needs to go to Persia to meet with a certain important character in the future, you can go with him to consult their master artisan.”

    Zhang Wuji was bashful. “Why would I want to go to Persia?” he asked.

    Zhao Min smiled and said, “Do I have to spell it out in front of everybody?” To Wu Jingcao she said, “Have you looked? There are engravings of characters on the Sheng Huo Ling. If sharp weapons like Tulong Saber and Yitian Sword cannot damage it the least bit, what kind of tool did they engrave the characters with?”

    “Actually, to engrave the characters is not difficult,” Wu Jingcao replied, “You can apply a layer of white wax [here’s from the dictionary: white wax from Chinese white wax bug] to the Sheng Huo Ling; and then engrave the characters on the wax. Next, apply a strong acid. Within several months, the acid will corrode the tablets. When the white wax is scraped, the characters stay on the tablets. What Xiao Ren [humble one, lowly one – referring to self] do not understand is how the metal was cast.”

    “Hey,” Xin Ran called out, “Are we going to do it or not?”

    “Jiaozhu, set your mind at ease,” Wu Jingcao said to Zhang Wuji, “Although Xie Xiongdi’s raging fire is fierce, it will not damage the Sheng Huo Ling the least bit.”

    Xin Ran, however, was apprehensive, “I will make every effort to fan the fire, but if it burns our Cult’s most precious object, I may take the blame.”

    Wu Jingcao smiled and said, “I don’t think you have the ability to do so. But even if you do, I will take the blame.” Thereupon he used two Sheng Huo Ling tablets to clamp the half section of the Tulong Saber, and then took a new pair of pliers to grip the Sheng Huo Ling tablets and returned the treasured Saber into the furnace.

    The fire was blazing hotter and higher. After burning continuously for more than an hour, Wu Jingcao, Xin Ran and the Lie Huo Flag’s Vice Flag Leader seemed to be beaten down by the heat; their faces showed signs of weariness, it looked like they would not be able to hold much longer. Priest Tie Guan signaled Zhou Dian with his eyes, while his left hand made a circle in the air. The two of them rushed forward to take Xin Ran and Lie Huo Flag’s Vice Flag Leader’s place in pumping the bellows. These two men’s internal energy was much higher than those two they were replacing; inside the furnace, a white flame rose straight up.

    Suddenly Wu Jingcao shouted, “Gu Xiongdi [brother Gu], do it!”

    The Rui Jin Flag’s Vice Flag Leader rushed toward the furnace with a naked blade in his hand. A white ray flashed, the blade stabbed Wu Jingcao in the chest. The multitude faces of heroes watching from the side changed, they all cried out in shock. Blood spurted out from Wu Jingcao’s naked chest toward the Tulong Saber. As the blood met the fire, blue smoke rose gracefully.

    “It’s finished!” Wu Jingcao shouted. He retreated several steps and fell sitting down on the ground. There was a deep black big saber in his right hand. The two broken pieces of the Tulong Saber had been fused together into one piece.

    Now everybody understood. Turned out when a swordsmith failed to forge a saber or a sword, they would drip blood on the blade. There was an old legend about a certain husband and wife, Gan Jiang and Mo Xie, who had to jump into the furnace before an extremely sharp weapon could be forged. With his action, Wu Jingcao might have followed a master artisanship custom handed down from the ancient times.

    Zhang Wuji rushed toward Wu Jingcao; he looked carefully at the wound, and saw that the saber only entered the flesh shallowly, the injury was not life threatening. Immediately he applied cut wound medicine and wrapped up the wound, while saying, “Wu Xiong, why did you do this? It’s not important whether this Saber can be fixed or not. Why did Wu Xiong have to suffer such pain?”

    “What’s the big deal about this superficial wound that it has caused Jiaozhu anxiety?” Wu Jingcao replied. He stood up and raised the Tulong Saber to take a closer look. Upon seeing that the broken part was mended flawlessly with only a faint trace of blood on it, he could not help but feel very proud.

    Zhang Wuji examined the two Sheng Huo Ling tablets, which were used inside the furnace and as expected, he did not see the slightest sign of damage. Receiving the Tulong Saber, he chopped it on two spears, which were snatched from Yuan troops earlier. With a light ‘Swish!’ sound, the two spears were cut smoothly, as if they were made of mud, cut by ordinary iron.

    The crowd of heroes applauded loudly. “Excellent Saber! Excellent Saber!” they praised.

    Wu Jingcao took the two-piece Yitian Sword in his hands. His mind wandered to the moment when the former Rui Jin Flag Leader, Zhuang Zheng, as well as dozens of his brethrens of the Rui Jin Flag, lost their lives under this Sword. He could not restrain tears from flowing down his eyes.

    “Jiaozhu,” he said, “This Sword has killed my Zhuang Dage. It has killed not a few of my good brothers. Wu Jingcao hates this Sword to the bone. I can’t fix it. I am ready to accept responsibility for this offense.” While saying that, his tears poured down like rain.

    “That only shows Wu Xiong’s ‘yi qi’ [loyalty, code of brotherhood],” Zhang Wuji said, “What offense are you talking about?” Taking the two pieces of the Sword, he walked toward Jing Xuan of Emei Pai and said, “This Sword originally belonged to your precious Sect. I would like to ask Shitai to pass this on to Miss … to Mrs. Song.” Jing Xuan did not say anything, but she accepted the two pieces of broken sword.

    Zhang Wuji held the Tulong Saber in his hand; he thought for a moment and then brought the Saber to Kong Wen.

    “Fangzhang,” he said, “This Saber was my Yifu’s. Now that Yifu has entered the ‘three precious’ [orig. ‘san bao’ – Buddha, Dharma (his teaching) and Sangha (his monastic order)] and joined Shaolin, it is only fit that this Saber should be under Shaolin Pai’s power.”

    Kong Wen shook both of his hands and said, “This Saber has already exchanged hands many times over. Last time it was Zhang Jiaozhu who snatched it away from among the thousand troops and ten thousand horses; everybody can bear witness to it. And then it was Wu Dage from your precious Cult who mended it. In addition, today the heroes from all over the world have agreed to elect Zhang Jiaozhu to preside over the honorable position. Therefore, it is a question of ability and virtue, of origin and relationship, of prestige and position, this Saber should be under Zhang Jiaozhu’s control. This is perfectly justified.”

    The crowd of heroes echoed in chorus; they said, “This is the will of the people, Zhang Jiaozhu does not need to decline.”

    Zhang Wuji had no choice but to accept; he thought, “If I can command the heroes of the Wulin world with this treasured Saber, we can drive the invaders together and complete the big current task.”

    He heard somebody started to recite, followed by the multitude of heroes, “The most treasured in the Wulin world, precious Saber slaying the dragon, ruling under the heavens, no one dares to disobey!” The next line was ‘Yitian [relying on Heaven] does not appear, who can match its sharpness?’ but since everybody had seen the Yitian Sword was broken and was not going to be mended, nobody recited these last two sentences.

    The Rui Jin Flag of the Ming Cult harbored a deep hatred toward the Yitian Sword. Today, seeing the Tulong Saber was restored to its original form while the two pieces of Yitian Sword stayed broken, they all expressed their delight.

    Everybody had been busy for half a day; their stomachs were growling. The Ming Cult’s Five Element Flags and half of the Shaolin Temple monks were dispatched to guard all vital points. The rest of the people followed the monks to enjoy vegetarian dishes inside the Temple.

    As the sky turned dark, Zhang Wuji leaped onto a tall tree to scout the enemy’s movements at the bottom of the mountain. He noticed a cluster of encampments to the west, where smoke was rising up everywhere; it looked like they were cooking their dinner on the fire pits dug on the ground.

    Zhang Wuji leaped down the tree and said to Wei Yixiao, “Wei Xiong, as soon as it is dark enough, go down and spy around the enemy’s camp. Find out whether they are going to attack tonight or not.” Wei Yixiao received the order and left.

    “Jiaozhu,” Yang Xiao said, “After being defeated at the front of the mountain today, I think the Tatars will not attack again tonight. What we must guard against is their sneak attack from the back of the mountain.”

    “That’s right,” Zhang Wuji said, “I am asking Yang Zuo Shi and Fan You Shi to stay and take charge in here, while I am going to the other side of the mountain to look around.”

    “I am coming with you,” Zhao Min said.

    The two of them went to the peak where Xie Xun was held captive; they looked far toward the back of the mountain, but did not see anything astir. Zhang Wuji ran his fingers gently on the three broken pine trees, and then he looked at the dark mouth of the dungeon, while in his mind he replayed the fierce fight earlier that day. He shivered at the thought of extremely dangerous situation he was in. Suddenly he remembered something, "Yifu told me to look at the rock wall of the dungeon. I almost forgot."

    "Min Mei," he said, "Stay up here and stand watch; I am going down to take a look."

    Jumping down into the hole, he took a torch [orig. ‘huo zhe’ (lit. fire folded document) – folded paper used as torch] and lit a fire. By this time, the water inside the dungeon had receded, but the wall and the ground were still wet. He saw on all sides, the wall was full of pictures. The pictures were apparently engraved on the rock wall using a sharp rock. The lines were simple, yet graceful and rather vivid.

    On the eastern wall, the drawing depicted three women. One was lying on the ground; one was kneeling next to her as if she was tending to the woman on the ground. The third woman's right hand was at the kneeling woman's bosom. Next to the picture were two characters 'qu yao' [fetching the medicine].

    On the south side, there was a picture of a big ship. One woman was throwing another woman into the ship. The caption said 'fang zhu' [banish].

    Cold sweats broke out on Zhang Wuji's forehead. "Turn out it really happened this way," he thought, "When Min Mei was attending to my Biaomei [younger female cousin], Zhiruo stole the 'shi xiang ruan jin san' from her pocket to be mixed in our food and drink. And then she threw Min Mei into the Persian ship and forced them to leave immediately. But why didn't she simply kill Min Mei? Hmm, perhaps if she left Min Mei's body behind, she would not be able to cover up her track, plus she could not shift the blame to her. That being the case, then Biaomei was also killed under her ruthless hands."

    Just below the picture, a bit to the left, was another picture of two men. One was sleeping, the other, with a head full of long hair, was inclining his head to listen. Zhang Wuji was startled, "Turn out when Zhiruo was performing this bloody atrocities that cry out to Heaven, Yifu heard everything. The Senior's self-control was indeed very strong; he did not reveal anything on the island. Ah, right. At that time Yifu and I were already drugged by the 'shi xiang ruan jin san'; our internal strength were gone. Our lives were in Zhiruo's hands. No wonder at that time Yifu adamantly said that it must be Min mei's doing, and that he was very indignant toward her. He knew I was naive and muddle-headed; if he told me the secret, I would inadvertently divulge it through my speech or my demeanor."

    He saw the pictures were splattered with blood, a reminder of the bloody battle between Xie Xun and Cheng Kun during the day, making the pictures more forlorn and terrifying.

    Looking at the third picture on the western wall, he saw Xie Xun was sitting, and Zhou Zhiruo was attacking him from the back. There was a crowd of beggars of the Beggar Clan lurking outside the room. This scene was exactly the same as was depicted in the tableau sponsored by Zhao Min during the 'Tour of the Imperial City' at Dadu.

    When he was about to look at the fourth picture, the torch in his hand suddenly went out. "Min Mei," he called out, "Could you come down and let me use your fire?"

    Zhao Min lighted her torch and jumped down. As she saw the drawings, she understood immediately. The fourth picture depicted Xie Xun was being taken by several men. There was a woman peering from behind a tree in a distant. The stroke of these drawing was excellent; however, other than Xie Xun’s own face, the other people’s faces were indistinct, Zhang Wuji could not tell who the woman was.

    He pondered about it for a moment and then he understood, “When Yifu became blind, I have not even been born yet. He recognizes Min Mei, Zhiruo, Biaomei, and me by our voices, but actually he does not know what we look like. Naturally he could not draw our faces.” Pointing to the young woman, he asked, “Was it you, or Miss Zhou?”

    “It was me,” Zhao Min replied, “When Cheng Kun snatched Xie Daxia away from the Beggar Clan, he had someone else to take Xie Daxia to be imprisoned in the Shaolin Temple. He himself went around leaving the Ming Cult’s mark along the way, leading you on a wild goose chase around a big circle. I did try to seize Xie Daxia by force several times, but I failed every time. In the end I had to stop you from being the bridegroom. I am truly sorry.”

    At that time, Zhang Wuji’s heart was filled with extreme remorse. He stared blankly at Zhao Min, looking at her wan and sallow countenance, and her thin cheeks; knowing that in the last several months she had endured suffering beyond any normal person can bear. Overwhelmed by compassion, he reached out to embrace her, and said in a trembling voice, “Min Mei, I … I have wronged you.” As soon as he embraced her, the fire went out and the dungeon turned into a pitch-black cave.

    He continued, “If not because of your intelligence and quick-thinking, the muddle-headed Zhang Wuji would have killed you; wouldn’t that be terrible?”

    Zhao Min laughed and said, “Do you have a heart to kill me? You insisted that I was the murderer, yet when you saw me, why didn’t you kill me?”

    Zhang Wuji was silent with a blank expression on his face. After a moment, he sighed and said, “Min Mei, my feelings toward you have made me lose control over my own actions. Supposing you did kill my Biaomei, I still do not know what I should do. Now that the truth is being gradually revealed, even though I feel sorry for Zhiruo, I must say that deep in my heart I am happy.”

    Zhao Min could hear the sincerity in his voice; she leaned on his bosom. For a long time nobody said anything. When she looked up, she saw that the crescent moon was hanging low on the eastern horizon, while all around them nothing was astir.

    “Wuji Gege,” Zhao Min said in a tender voice, “When we first met at the Green Willow Manor, we fell into the dungeon together. Don’t you think our circumstance today is more or less the same as the one we were then?”

    Zhang Wuji snickered. He reached down to grab her left foot and then took her shoe off.

    Zhao Min laughed. “A big man like you bullying a weak girl like me,” she said.

    “You, a weak girl?” Zhang Wuji replied, “You are so crafty that even ten grown men are not your match.”

    “Thank you for your praise, Zhang Da Jiaozhu [Big Cult Leader Zhang]!” Zhao Min laughed, “Little girl does not dare to accept.”

    Speaking to this point, both of them broke out in laughter. The exchange between them was exactly what they were saying when they were trapped in the Green Willow Manor’s dungeon together a few years ago. Only, the first time they said that, the words were filled with hostility, while this evening, the words were full of unbounded tender love.

    Zhang Wuji smiled and said, “Aren’t you afraid I might scratch the bottom of your foot again?”

    Zhao Min laughed and said, “No, I am not!”

    Zhang Wuji grabbed her foot again, but suddenly they heard faint shouts from the direction of northwest. Leaning their heads to listen, they heard clashing gusts of wind; obviously, there were people fighting in the distance.

    “Let’s go take a look!” they said to each other.

    Taking Zhao Min’s hand, Zhang Wuji leaped up from the dungeon. Following the direction of the noise, they saw three shadows speeding away to the west. Their feet were exceptionally swift; they were definitely first class martial art masters. Zhang Wuji held out his arm to grab Zhao Min’s waist, and then unleashing his ‘qing gong’ he dashed on a chase. From the distant he noticed that the one in the front was running away, while the other two in the back were pursuing vigorously.

    Zhang Wuji picked up his speed trying to close the distance. Under the moonlight he saw that the pursuers were two old men. They were none other than Lu Zhangke and He Biweng. He saw He Biweng wave his left hand, throwing a crane-beak pen forward toward the one in the front. The one in the front swept a sword backward to parry. ‘Bang!’ the crane-beak pen was thrown to the sky.

    Because of this slight delay, Lu Zhangke was able to leap nearby that person, and immediately thrust his deer-antler staff forward. That person leaned sideways to evade and counterattacked with a palm. The moon shone onto that person’s face. Her face was pale, her loose long hair fluttered in the wind. Turned out she was Zhou Zhiruo. Zhang Wuji was startled. Hastily he took Zhao Min and hid behind a tree.

    He Biweng caught the crane-beak pen as it fell from the sky. He circled toward Zhou Zhiruo’s left and launched a converging attack together with Lu Zhangke.

    Clenching her teeth, Zhou Zhiruo said, “Why do you, two old ghosts, painstakingly chase me?”

    Lu Zhangke replied, “Today we have seen it with our own eyes; Zhang Wuji of the Ming Cult managed to seize the Tulong Saber and Yitian Sword, but the secret martial art manual inside the Saber and the Sword was already gone. It must be in Mrs. Song’s possession.”

    Zhang Wuji was shocked. “Turned out when I was snatching the blades and saving others, these two old chaps were close by. But why couldn’t I know their presence?”

    He heard Zhou Zhiruo say, “There is indeed a secret martial art manual, but I destroyed it as soon as I finished training.”

    With a cold laugh Lu Zhangke said, “Did you say ’finished training’? That easy, huh? These Tulong Saber and Yitian Sword were known as ‘the most treasured in Wulin world’; how can the secret hidden inside them be that superficial? Although Mrs. Song’s martial art skill stands out above the others, I don’t think you have reached the pinnacle yet. Otherwise, with one wave of your hand you would have killed us, two brothers. Why would you run away?”

    “If I said I have destroyed it then I have destroyed it,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “Who has so much spare time to chat with you? I am taking my leave now!”

    “Hold it!” Lu Zhangke and He Biweng shouted together. They raised their hands at the same time and attacked Zhou Zhiruo from left and right.

    Zhou Zhiruo brandished her sword; it looked like a silver snake dancing wildly under the moonlight. The Xuan Ming Elders parried her attacks with a staff and a pair of pens.

    Zhang Wuji had seen Zhou Zhiruo’s whip technique. This time he saw that her sword emits a mysterious ray, moving in and out in defense and offense in the midst of two martial art masters’ converging attack. Her stances irregularly varied between fake and real; it seemed like her movements were full of tricks.

    After fighting for more than several dozens stances, Zhou Zhiruo’s sword moves were growing even stranger. At least seven of the ten stances were swift and fierce offensive strikes. Zhang Wuji knew that she wanted to get away from the enemies, but her internal energy would actually deplete faster by fighting like this. If she were a bit careless, she would face a mortal danger. Zhang Wuji was deeply concerned. He stepped out from behind the tree and quietly walked several steps closer.

    Suddenly Zhou Zhiruo let out a shout and swiftly stabbed Lu Zhangke three times. Lu Zhangke stepped sideways to evade. Right this moment, He Biweng threw his pair of pens toward her back with a full force. The pens clashing with each other midair and changed course; one flew towards the back of her head, the other flew towards the back of her waist.

    Zhou Zhiruo heard the wind of the weapons behind her back and ducked; but she did not expect the pens would collide in midair and change their courses. As she ducked, one pen struck her forehead. Needless to say, she could not avoid the crane-beak pen threatening her waist.

    Hastily Zhang Wuji leaped to catch the crane-beak pen, while sweeping his palm horizontally toward He Biweng. In her shock, Zhou Zhiruo was at a loss for a split second, and Lu Zhangke’s palm came floating lightly toward her lower abdomen. It was not a small matter, as it was the ‘xuan ming shen zhang’ [black/mysterious divine palm]. Zhou Zhiruo stopped breathing and fainted at once.

    Zhang Wuji was greatly shocked; throwing the crane-beak pen in his hand, he reached backward to catch Zhou Zhiruo, and then leaped more than a ‘zhang’ backwards.

    “Xuan Ming Er Lao!” he roared, “Don’t you have any face?”

    Lu Zhangke laughed out loud and said, “I was wondering who dares to come and meddle with our business; turns out it is Zhang Da Jiaozhu [great cult leader]. Where is our Junzhu Niangniang [princess]? Where did you take her after kidnapping her?”

    Zhao Min stepped out from behind the tree; taking Zhou Zhiruo from Zhang Wuji’s arms, she softly laughed and said, “Mr. Lu, you are head over heels longing after me; aren’t you afraid Father might be angry with you?”

    “Little witch,” Lu Zhangke angrily said, “You sowed dissension between us, brothers. We have severed any relationship with your father early on. Why would Ruyang Prince being angry or not concern me?”

    Seeing how Lu Zhangku struck a vicious blow to injure Zhou Zhiruo, and then spoke rudely to Zhao Min, Zhang Wuji also recalled how these two men had caused him countless sufferings with their ‘xuan ming shen zhang’when he was a child; his old hatred was rekindled. In that moment, his blood was boiling inside his chest. “Min Mei, back off,” he said, “Just looking at these two old chaps is making me angry. I must fight them well today.”

    Seeing that Zhang Wuji was barehanded, the two elders laid down their weapons and waited with focused attention.

    “On guard!” Zhang Wuji shouted and launched the ‘lan qiao wei’ [seizing the bird’s tail] stance; his palms struck out together. This stance was part of the Taiji Fist technique, the movement was very slow, but the power behind it was from his Jiu Yang Shen Gong.

    Although Taiji Fist is common for the later generations, not too many Wulin people were even aware of its existence at the time right after Zhang Sanfeng developed it. Lu Zhangke had never seen this kind of soft, seemingly powerless palm technique; naturally, he did not know what kind of trick was hidden in this palm attack. He was extremely afraid of Zhang Wuji, hence he did not dare to meet his palm and leaned sideways to evade.

    Zhang Wuji turned around and with ‘bai she tu yan’ [white snake spitting words] his left palm struck He Biweng, while his right palm shook in and out randomly. He Biweng pointed his left hand index finger to the center of Zhang Wuji’s palm, his right palm swept diagonally down toward Zhang Wuji’s lower abdomen.

    Zhang Wuji had fought the Xuan Ming Elders several times; he knew these two men were not his match. Compared to Du E and the other, the three monks whom he encountered in his most recent three battles, these two were a level below in terms of their depth in martial art skills. So if he wanted to defeat these two, he should have more than enough to spare. However, these two’s skill was, after all, not superficial. Therefore, Zhang Wuji did not dare to be reckless. He launched Taiji Fist to its fullest potential; creating circle after circle, with Jiu Yang Shen Gong struck out from sometimes straight, sometime slanting circles.

    The Xuanming Elders gradually felt the ‘yang’ energy burning fiercely; while the ‘yin’ and cold energy of their own ‘Xuan Ming Shen Zhang’ was frequently forced back by the opponent.

    After fighting for more than a hundred stances, by chance Zhang Wuji turned around and saw two dark shadows shiver on the ground. The moon had cast its shadow on Zhao Min and Zhou Zhiruo. His heart skipped a beat. Zhao Min appeared to be shaking uncontrollably while she was fighting to keep Zhou Zhiruo in her arms.

    “Not good!” Zhang Wuji was secretly alarmed, “After taking Old Lu’s ‘xuan ming shen zhang’, I am afraid Zhou Zhiruo cannot withstand it. The energy cultivation she trained was ‘yin’ and cold in nature. Now that she received Xuan Ming Shen Zhang which is the world’s coldest and most poisonous energy, cold on top of cold, apparently even Min Mei is not able to endure it.” Thereupon he increased his effort to press Lu Zhangke.

    Lu Zhangke noticed the change in Zhang Wuji’s fist technique; he guessed Zhang Wuji’s intentions correctly. Leaping sideways to evade, he called out, “Shidi, surround him; that woman surnamed Zhou is having a cold-poison attack. Don’t let him help her.”

    “Certainly,” He Biweng replied. Leaping out of the circle, he picked up his pair of crane-beak pens and with the ‘tong tian che di’ [going through the sky and penetrating the earth], his pens smashed in from top and bottom.

    Zhang Wuji smiled slightly and said, “With or without weapons, it’s all the same!” With a shout his palm struck; the gust of wind generated was so strong that He Biweng was gasping for breath.

    Lu Zhangke reached back for his deer-antler staff and swept it toward Zhang Wuji’s waist. Zhang Wuji successively changed his fist techniques; now he launched the thirty-six style (or form) ‘long zhua qin na shou’ [dragon claw ‘grab and capture’ or grappling technique] he learned from Shaolin Divine Monk Kong Xing, the ‘fu qin shi’ [zither playing form], ‘gu se shi’ [drum beating form], ‘bu feng shi’ [wind grasping form], and ‘bao can shi’ [destruction carrying form], all with very strong offensive power.

    “This Dragon Claw skill is very well trained,” Lu Zhangke called out, “Later on it will be very useful to dig a hole in the ground; no mistake about it.”

    “Shige,” He Biweng replied, “Why do we need a hole in the ground?”

    Lu Zhangke laughed, “That Miss Zhou is going to die; of course we need a hole to bury her!”

    As he spoke, his attention was slightly divided; Zhang Wuji flew in and kicked his left leg. Lu Zhangke staggered. He quickly braced himself and brandished his deer-antler staff, creating a defense so tight that even the wind and the rain would not be able to penetrate.

    Zhang Wuji turned his head to see Zhao Min and Zhou Zhiruo; he saw these two women were shaking even more violently. “Min Mei,” he asked, “How do you feel?”

    “Very bad!” Zhao Min replied, “I feel very cold!”

    Zhang Wuji was shocked. He thought for a moment and then understood. When Zhou Zhiruo was hit by the Xuan Ming Shen Zhang, as fierce as the ‘yin’ and cold energy was, it only attacked her, one person. But now even Zhao Min was feeling cold. He thought it must be because of Zhao Min’s good intention that she transmitted her own energy to help Zhou Zhiruo resisting the cold. However, these two women’s strengths differed considerably; Zhou Zhiruo’s internal energy was also very strange, so strange that instead of helping her, Zhao Min’s own energy was depleted.

    Zhang Wuji moved his fists furiously, hoping that he would force these two Elders as quickly as possible. But the two Elders kept their distance; they moved to his front and to his back, but did not dare to fight him directly, as their intention was only to prolong the battle.

    Zhang Wuji was getting impatient. “Min Mei,” he called out, “Lay Miss Zhou on the ground, and do not hold her.”

    “I … I can’t,” Zhao Min replied.

    “What?” Zhang Wuji was puzzled.

    “She … her back … is stuck to my palm,” Zhao Min said. Her teeth chattered and her body swayed as if she was going to fall down any minute. Zhang Wuji was even more shocked.

    “Zhang Jiaozhu,” he heard Lu Zhangke say, “This Miss Zhou is very cruel; she is passing on the cold poison in her body into Junzhu Niangniang that Junzhu Niangniang is almost dead. What do you say we make an agreement?”

    “What agreement?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    Lu Zhangke said, “We stop fighting. We get the two books from Miss Zhou, you get to save Junzhu Niangniang.”

    “Humph,” Zhang Wuji snorted. He thought, “These Xuan Ming Elders’ martial art is already this good; if they also train Zhiruo’s sinister martial art and then they do much evil, nobody will be able to control them.”

    While still thinking, he turned his head to look at Zhao Min again and saw that a shade of greenish blue had already appeared on her jade-like beautiful white cheeks, while her face showed an extreme pain. Zhang Wuji took two steps backward and grabbed her right palm with his left hand. Immediately he transferred his Jiu Yang Shen Qi in steady stream via his palm.

    “Attack together from the front!” Lu Zhangke called out. With a staff and a pair of pens, like a flurry of torrential rain the Xuan Ming Elders charged together.

    Zhang Wuji was using most of his energy to save Zhao and Zhou, two women; he was unable to move his body, he only had one palm with which to block the enemy’s attack, so in an instant he found himself in a very precarious situation.

    ‘Rip’, He Biweng’s crane-beak pen cut a long slit on the pants on his left leg; blood immediately dripped out of his leg.

    At first, Zhao Min was almost frozen stiff by the cold ‘yin’ chi from Zhou Zhiruo’s body; she felt as if her blood was slowly coagulating. As soon as the Jiu Yang Shen Qi flushed in, gradually her body warmed up. But as Zhang Wuji used his other palm to fight Xuan Ming Elders, he was straining just to make ends meet; consequently, his transfer of Jiu Yang Zhen Qi toward Zhao Min weakened. Zhao Min started to feel cold again.

    ‘Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!’ Lu Zhangke struck three times with his deer-antler staff, with the tip of the antler aiming toward Zhang Wuji’s eyes. Zhang Wuji raised his palm to parry, deflecting the head of the staff away. He Biweng rolled on the ground. The pen in his left hand launched the ‘cong xin suo yu’ [lit. ‘whatever you like’ or ‘do as you please’] toward Zhang Wuji’s waist.

    Zhang Wuji was unable to evade; he had no choice but to use the Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi trying to neutralize the pen’s strength. But He Biweng’s pen carried a tremendous force and Zhang Wuji did not have the confidence that he would be able to neutralize the incoming force. Suddenly a loud ‘Dang!’ was heard; his waist shook, but he did not feel any pain. Turned out by chance He Biweng’s pen hit the Tulong Saber hanging on his waist.

    Zhang Wuji did not normally fight his opponent using any weapon. Even battling Du E, three monks, he only used Sheng Huo Ling tablets, which were not real weapons. He had never used a sword or a saber, and thus although the Tulong Saber was hanging on his waist, he had not thought of using it to fight the enemy.

    This pen strike by He Biweng awakened him; with a loud shout his left leg kicked, forcing He Biweng to withdraw three steps back. He pulled the Saber out right when the deer-antler staff was stabbing again. Zhang Wuji swept his Tulong Saber. With a light swishing noise the antler from the staff fell down. Lu Zhangke was stunned. “Aiyo!” he cried out.

    He Biweng’s pair of pens rolled in. Zhang Wuji swept the treasured Saber again. ‘Swish, swish!’ Two crane-beak pens broke into four pieces. Zhang Wuji turned the Saber around, creating a circle of black light. The Xuan Ming Elders did not dare to get close anymore; finally Zhang Wuji was able to transmit his Jiu Yang Zhen Qi into Zhao Min’s body.

    With this infusion of full-strength energy, the critical condition of the cold Xuan Ming poison attack on Zhou Zhiruo has finally passed. However, when two different types of energy, yin and yang, intersect inside the body, especially if they were of different strength level, the strong would subdue the weak. After the cold Xuan Ming poison was repelled, Jiu Yang Zhen Qi also offset the internal Jiu Yin energy, which Zhou Zhiruo trained for.

    After Zhou Zhiruo acquired the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing [Nine Yin Manual] hidden inside the Yitian Sword, she only trained surreptitiously in the night because she was afraid Xie Xun and Zhang Wuji might find out. But time was running out. Since she was unable to build a strong foundation by training the manual step-by-step, her internal energy cultivation was not too deep. Actually, she only trained the lower and easier-to-train sinister martial art from the Manual. When she was hit by the Xuan Ming Shen Zhang, she was thinking of transmitting the cold ‘yin’ chi to Zhao Min. When Zhang Wuji interfered, she only felt her entire body was enveloped with a warm and cozy feeling. As she felt the incoming energy grow, she wanted to take her body out of Zhao Min’s palm; unexpectedly, as she struggled, she felt as if a whiff of very strong sucking force was holding her so that she was not able to escape. Before, she was sucking Zhao Min’s palm with her back; now, her back was stuck on Zhao Min’s palm. It was because of the difference in internal energy strengths. Zhou Zhiruo could not help but feel utterly shocked.

    As Zhang Wuji was driving the cold poison out, he felt his Jiu Yang Zhen Qi was flowing out, while from Zhao Min’s palm continuously came an opposing cold chi. He thought the cold poison of Xuan Ming Shen Zhang had not been completely neutralized, so he kept increasing his power. He did not know that with each part of Jiu Yang Zhen Qi he sent out, he neutralized one part of the Jiu Yin Zhen Qi Zhou Zhiruo had painstakingly cultivated.

    Zhou Zhirou was groaning inwardly, but she must not say anything, since she knew that as soon as she opened her mouth, blood would immediately spurt out like crazy, her chi would be drained and she would die.

    Zhao Min felt warm and comfortable; she laughed and said, “Wuji Gege, I am all right now. You can focus your attention to fight the Xuan Ming Elders!”

    “Very well!” Zhang Wuji replied, and withdrew his internal energy.

    Zhou Zhiruo felt as if she had just received pardon; she quickly pulled away from Zhao Min’s palm. She realized that although the cold poison of Xuan Ming Shen Zhang had been completely repelled, her own Jiu Yin internal energy had also suffered a heavy damage. As soon as Zhang Wuji brandished the Tulong Saber to attack the enemy, she stretched out her five fingers to strike the crown of Zhao Min’s head.

    “Aiyo!” Zhao Min cried out loudly. She felt a severe pain on the top of her head, and thought that she was going to die this time. But she heard ‘crack, crack’ noise instead, as Zhou Zhiruo was groaning in pain and hurriedly retreated.

    Zhang Wuji was shocked; hastily he turned his head and asked, “What is it?”

    Zhao Min reached up to touch her forehead and was so scared that she felt her soul had left her and flown to the heavens that she was unable to say anything. Zhang Wuji only knew that she was hit by the ‘Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua’; he was also scared out of his wits. With his right hand he brandished to Saber to block the two elders, with his left hand he felt the top of her head. He felt the stickiness of blood, but luckily did not find any broken bone. He felt as if a large boulder burdening his heart had just fallen down.

    “It’s all right,” he said, consolingly, “Your wound is only skin deep.” While in his heart he mused, “Strange, very strange!”

    He did not know that when Zhou Zhiruo attacked, the Jiu Yang Zhen Qi he sent out earlier had not completely left Zhao Min’s body. Moreover, Zhou Zhiruo’s own internal energy had suffered substantial damage. When she attacked, not only she failed to harm the opponent, her own fingers experienced quite a shock.

    As Zhang Wuji’s attention was diverted, the Xuan Ming Elders’ attack came by, but this time Zhang Wuji had the world’s sharpest weapon in his hand. Aware of the outstanding character of this weapon, he did not want to take advantage over the opponent, so he handed the precious saber over to Zhao Min instead. Quickly he circulated his breathing one round and focused his attention. Then, retracting his left hand, he thrust out his palm using the Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi to divert He Biweng’s incoming palm.

    This ‘pull and push’ was the most profound technique of the seventh level of Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi; backed by concentrated power of the Jiu Yang Shen Gong. This technique required the most amount of internal energy and could not have the slightest degree of negligence in its execution. If he failed, he would suffer fire deviation. For this reason he did not dare to use it earlier even though when faced with a desperate situation, because his mind was still occupied by trying to repel the cold poison from Zhao and Zhou, two women.

    The Xuan Ming Elders were first class martial art masters; if he had used the fifth or the sixth level of Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi, he might not be able to deal with them. As He Biweng’s right palm struck by, ‘whoosh!’ it changed course to strike Lu Zhangke’s shoulder.

    Lu Zhangke was startled and angrily said, “Shidi, what are you doing?”

    Although He Biweng’s martial art skill was high, his natural disposition was rather slow; he had to think for quite a while before he could understand anything. This time, things happened so quickly that he himself was baffled. In his shock, he was unable to give Lu Zhangke any explanation. He only knew that Zhang Wuji had played a trick on him. He thought that if he increased his effort in attacking the enemy, he might appease his Shixiong; therefore, sending out his strength to his right leg, he kicked Zhang Wuji, hard.

    Zhang Wuji’s left hand whisked this kick, hooked He Biweng’s leg and directed it toward Lu Zhangke’s lower abdomen. Lu Zhangke was shocked and angered. “Are you insane?” he roared.

    “That’s right!” Zhao Min called out, “Mr. He, quickly capture this rebellious, lecherous, greedy and kinky Shixiong of yours, my Father will certainly reward you heavily.”

    Zhang Wuji secretly laughed. “This ‘driving-a-wedge-between-them’ idea is really marvelous,” he mused. Originally, he wanted to use Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi to divert He Biweng’s attack toward Lu Zhangke, and redirect Lu Zhangke’s strike toward He Biweng. But as he listened to Zhao Min, he only diverted He Biweng’s fists and legs, but used Taiji Fist to deal with Lu Zhangke.

    “Mr. He, don’t worry,” he called out, “With our combined effort, we will certainly be able to butcher this pervert deer [‘Lu’ of Lu Zhangke means ‘deer’]. The Ruyang Prince has already bestowed to you … bestowed to you …” In that instant, he could not think of an appropriate government position for him.

    “Mr. He,” Zhao Min called out, “The official letter of your appointment to a high official position is here.” While saying that she took a bundle of paper from her bosom and waved it up, reading, “Hmm, it is ‘Da Yuan Hu Guo Yang Wei Da Jiang Jun’ [the Great Yuan’s Protector of the Country, Great General with Rising Power]. Hurry up, you must try harder!”

    Zhang Wuji struck with his right palm, forcing Lu Zhangke to lean to the left; right at this moment, he diverted He Biweng’s left palm from attacking Zhang Wuji’s left to Lu Zhangke’ right, so that Lu Zhangke was attacked from left and right.

    Lu Zhangke and He Biweng had been together for several decades; their love to each other was like blood brothers. At first Lu Zhangke did not believe that He Biweng would betray him, but at this moment he had seen it with his own eyes how He Biweng successively attacked him for five stances; all aimed at his vital points, all with full-powered punches or kicks, apparently with the desire to take his life, without the least bit of friendship. His resentment had reached its peak. He roared, “You are after riches and honor, and do not have any regard about ‘yi qi’?”

    “I … I am ...” He Biweng hurriedly said.

    “That’s right,” Zhao Min cut him off, “You have no choice because you are going to be the ‘Da Yuan Hu Guo Yang Wei Da Jiang Jun’; therefore, you cannot say anything about offending your Shixiong.”

    Zhang Wuji put his entire strength in his right hand and focused his entire attention to lead He Biweng’s palm strike toward Lu Zhangke. ‘Bang!’ Lu Zhangke’s shoulder was squarely hit. In his anger Lu Zhangke slapped backward, striking He Biweng’s left side of his jaw that several of his teeth fell down.

    He Biweng was already old; he only had several teeth left inside his mouth. Naturally, he cherished these remaining few teeth on his left cheek. Unable to restrain his anger, he shouted, “Shige, you really can’t tell the good from the bad. I did not hit you on purpose.”

    Lu Zhangke was also angry. “Who started the fight?” he said. Although his knowledge was vast, he did not know that in this world there existed the seventh level of Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi with such a formidable power. He thought that based on the level of martial art skill He Biweng and he possessed, Zhang Wuji might be able to defeat them or even kill them, but never in his wildest dream would he expect Zhang Wuji to use such technique as ‘borrowing strength to fight strength’, reversing his partner’s palm force to strike him. Therefore, he had never suspected he had fallen into Zhang Wuji’s trick.

    Venting up his frustration, He Biweng cursed, “Little bastard, you have played trick on me!”

    “That’s right!” Zhao Min called out, “You don’t need to call him ‘Shige’, just call him ‘Little bastard’.”

    As Zhang Wuji’s left palm was pressing Lu Zhangke’s palm power, his right hand diverted He Biweng’s palm to hit Lu Zhangke’s right cheek that his cheek was swollen immediately.

    Noticing that Lu Zhangke was fuming; his eyes were red and his palm attacked He Biweng like crazy, Zhang Wuji knew his plan worked. “Mr. He,” he shouted, “I’ll leave this pervert deer into your hands.” His left foot kicked, he flew out of and took Zhao Min to leave. He saw the Xuan Ming Elders were still intensely fighting ‘you punch me, I kick you’ each other.

    “Mr. He,” Zhao Min called out, “After you arrest your Shige, you may borrow the secret martial art manual from the Tulong Saber for a month. Quickly set up a great merit; don’t miss this good opportunity.”

    Lu Zhangke was getting angrier; he attacked He Biweng without showing any mercy. These two men were of the same school; there was not much difference in their martial skill level [orig. ‘ban jin ba liang’ – half a pound is eight ounces]. It was hard to say when this kind of fierce battle would end.

    Zhang Wuji and Zhao Min returned to the Shaolin Temple. Examining the top of Zhao Min’s head, Zhang Wuji saw that the injury was superficial. Suddenly he remembered something. “Min Mei,” he said, “Luckily you bring that bundle of paper; otherwise, Lu Zhangke would not believe.”

    With a chuckle, Zhao Min took two bundles of thin papers from her bosom. She waved it in front of Zhang Wuji’s face and said with a laugh, “Can you guess what this is?”

    Zhang Wuji smiled and said, “If you tell me to guess, I will never guess correctly in my lifetime. So, why would I want to take the trouble?”

    Zhao Min placed the two bundles of paper in his hand. Zhang Wuji took a candle to examine the paper. He found out that it was not paper, but thin sheets of silk, as thin as cicada’s wings. The sheets were densely populated with tiny characters, with each character as small as the head of a fly. The first bundle began with this line of four characters, ‘wu mu yi shu’ [Wumu Legacy; lit. ‘the book (or letter) left behind by Wumu’]. It explained the key in deployment of troops in a war, battle formation, and other fine points of military strategy.

    Looking at the second bundle, he saw it started with these four characters, ‘Jiu Yin Zhen Jing’ [Nine Yin Manual; lit. ‘nine yin (negative/feminine/moon) true/real scripture’]. Inside were all kinds of mystical and strange martial arts. Flipping toward the end of the bundle, he found ‘Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua’ [Nine Yin White Bone Claw] and ‘Cui Xin Zhang’ [heart destroying palm] among other things.

    Zhang Wuji’s heart turned cold. “You … did you take all this from Miss Zhou?” he asked.

    Zhao Min laughed. “When she was immobile, why can’t I take advantage of her [orig. shun shou qian yang’ – lead away a goat in passing’]?” she said, “This kind of malicious martial art, I don’t want to learn, but I do want to destroy it, since left in her hands it might be used to harm others.”

    Zhang Wuji browsed through the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing. A few pages later, he realized that the lesson inside was very profound and difficult to decipher in a short while. He also knew that the martial art skill toward the end of the book was not malicious, he said, “The martial art in this manual is actually very deep. If trained properly, I believe ten, twenty years later, the result will not be a small matter. But if it is trained rashly, the result will be superficial. Not only it will harm others, but will inflict self injury as well.” After pausing for a moment, he continued, “That Jiejie wearing yellow gown’s martial art is obviously of the same school, yet her movements were upright without any sign of maliciousness, very pure and honorable. It seems that her skill also came from this Nine Yin Manual.”

    “She said something like ‘Behind the Mount Zhong Nan, the Tomb of the Living Dead, the Divine Eagle and Gallant Knights vanished from the Jianghu’, what do these four lines mean?” Zhao Min asked.

    Zhang Wuji shook his head. “When we see Tai Shifu in the future, we will ask the Senior. Perhaps he could shed some light on this affair.”

    They chatted for some time. After making sure that there was no change in troop activity at the bottom of the mountain, they went their separate ways to take a rest.

    End of Chapter 39.
    Last edited by Han Solo; 08-30-09 at 02:52 PM.

  2. #42
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 40 – Didn’t Know This Zhang Fellow was The Mr. Zhang

    Chapter 40 – Didn’t Know This Zhang Fellow was The Mr. Zhang
    (Translated by Foxs, Edited by Eliza Bennet)

    Zhang Wuji woke up at daybreak the next morning and immediately jumped up a tall tree to scout the enemy movement. The enemy camp was bustling with activity; it seemed that they were going to launch an attack.

    “Min Mei!” Zhang Wuji called.

    “Mmm … what is it?” Zhao Min replied.

    Zhang Wuji hesitated before saying, “Nothing, I just love to call your name.” Actually, he wanted to consult Zhao Min on how to repel the Yuan army, knowing full well that she was very resourceful; certainly she had some brilliant ideas. But then he thought, “She was a princess of the imperial court; she betrayed her father and brother to follow me. I think it is just too much to ask her to help me killing her fellow Mongolians.” Hence, he stopped himself when the words were just on the tip of his tongue.

    Zhao Min noticed the change in his countenance; she knew what he was going to say. She sighed and said, “Wuji Gege, you are able to empathize with my painful predicament; I don’t have to say anything.”

    Zhang Wuji went back to his room with a troubled mind of not knowing what to do. Absentmindedly he took the two bundles of book Zhao Min brought last night. He read several pages of the Nine Yin Manual; he also took a glance on the Wumu Legacy. Again, after reading several pages, he came across a title ‘bing kun niu tou shan’ five small characters [troops trapped on the Ox-head Hill]. His heart was moved. He read on and found that in this section, Yue Fei recounted his experience when his outnumbered troops were surrounded by the Jin army; how he escaped from the entrapment, how he deployed special force soldiers, how he launched a converging attack and seized an overwhelming victory, all kinds of plan explained in great details.

    Zhang Wuji slapped the table, “The Heaven helps me!” he exclaimed. Slapping the book down, he started to think. The situation of this Shaoshi Peak was entirely different to the Niutou Hill where Yue Fei was trapped in the past; however, if he used the same tactics, there was no reason why he could not win by a surprise move.

    His admiration grew as he pondered deeper; he thought that Yue Wumu was a Heaven-sent genius. Faced with such danger, an ordinary man would not think of such strategy. He also thought that troop’s deployment was just like martial art; if there was no expert giving guidance, no matter how smart or how dull, one would not think of such plan.

    Dipping his finger into the tea cup, he drew the Temple map on the table. Although he fully realized the dangerous situation they were in, who could say that they would not be lucky and prevail against the enemy? Their side was few, the enemy was many; in the end, they would not score victory by marching out in neat formation and engage the enemy in an open battle.

    Once his mind was set, he went to the Da Xiong Bao Dian [Precious Hall of Great Heroes] and asked Abbot Kong Wen to summon the heroes. In a short moment everybody had arrived.

    Zhang Wuji stood up and said, “Presently, Tatars cavalry has gathered at the base of the mountain. Presumably, they will carry out a large scale attack soon. Although we have scored a small victory yesterday and have dampened their spirit, but if the Tatars pay no regards to their own lives and throng up the mountain, we will be hard pressed to withstand them. Zaixia [lit. under, the humble one] has no talent; it was by the heroes’ graciousness that I am elected to hold this temporary position as the commander in chief. Today we are united against a common enemy. I am asking everybody to obey my command.”

    The multitude of heroes replied in one voice, “Please issue the order, we will follow, no one will dare to disobey.”

    “Very well!” Zhang Wuji said, “Wu Qishi [Flag Leader Wu], receive my order!”

    Rui Jin’s Flag Leader, Wu Jingcao stepped forward, bowed and said, “Subordinate is ready to receive the order.” While he was thinking in his heart, “Jiaozhu issues his first order to me. It is truly a great honor. No matter what kind of danger I will have to face, I will risk my life in doing it.”

    Zhang Wuji said, “I assign you to lead your Flag brethren to hold the martial law. Whichever hero or warrior does not obey my order, the Rui Jin Flag’s lances and hatchets will be thrown into his body. This law also applies to seniors and elders of our own Cult, and Wulin masters and seniors. No exception.”

    “Accept the order!” with a loud voice Wu Jingcao complied. He took a small white flag from his bosom and held it tight with both hands.

    Both in terms of name and martial art skill, Wu Jingcao was not considered to be a first class Jianghu warrior, so previously, nobody regarded him too highly. But since the Five-Element Flags demonstrated their invincible might the other day, the multitude of heroes all knew that wherever this small white flag in his hand landed, it will immediately followed by the 500 feathered arrows, 500 javelins, and 500 short hatchets. Even if your skill is as high as the heavens, you will become mincemeat instantly. Therefore, seeing him unfolding the white flag, everybody’s heart shivered.

    The reason behind this order was because when Zhang Wuji browsed through the Wumu Legacy, the first chapter started with, ‘The way to the successful training of troops starts with strict discipline.’ He knew these Jianghu warriors were proud people; each one was used to do what one’s thought right. Although individually they possessed strong martial art skill, fighting together unorganized, they were no different than a motley crowd. Without someone giving order to organize and restrain, forcing them to follow orders, there was no way they could resist the Mongolian elite troops. Therefore, his first order was to assign the Rui Jin Flag as the law enforcers.

    Pointing his finger to the tall wall in front of the hall, Zhang Wuji said, “Gentlemen, Heroes, whoever excels in ‘qing gong’ and able to jump over that wall, please show your skill.”

    Among the crowd of heroes, there were not a few whose face appeared dissatisfied; they thought, “What is this immaterial talk about telling us to show off our jumping ability?” Some senior masters felt that he was showing contempt toward others; they were not pleased at all.

    Zhang Songxi stepped out from among the crowd and said, “I can.” And then he leaped over the wall and lightly landed on the other side of the wall. Wudang Pai’s ‘ti yun zong’ [cloud stairs] ‘qing gong’ enjoyed quite a reputation throughout the world. For someone with Zhang Songxi’s ability, leaping this wall was as easy as blowing off dust. However, he was not showing off at all, it was only an honest demonstration because he was following order. Thereupon Yu Lianzhou, Yin Liting, Yang Xiao, Fan Yao, Wei Yixiao, Yin Yewang and the other experts followed suit one by one.

    Like butterflies flying over flowers the heroes jumped over the wall one after another. Some were showing off their ‘qing gong’ by performing all kinds of flowery styles midair. After more than four hundred people had leaped, it looked like nobody else was going to try.

    This wall was indeed not low; without a good ‘qing gong’ it was not easy to leap over it. The multitude of heroes did not train the same martial art skill. Oftentimes they trained themselves well in fists and kicks or weaponry, so their ‘qing gong’ was ordinary. There were quite a number of Jianghu characters who made their names this way; naturally, they were not willing to show off their shortcomings.

    Noticing that among these four hundred people there were about eighty to ninety Shaolin monks, Zhang Wuji thought, “Shaolin Pai truly lives up to its reputation as the number one school in Wulin. Just in ‘qing gong’ alone, they have many more masters than any other schools.” Thereupon he issued his next order, “Yu Er Bo, Zhang Si Bo, Yin Liu Shu, the three Uncles are to lead these heroes excel in ‘qing gong’ to bluff the enemy. You are to pretend to be escapees from the Temple, make the enemy troops to pursue you, and when you get to the back of the mountain ...” And he detailed the next steps.

    Wudang Pai’s Yu, Zhang and Yin, three heroes accepted the orders. Zhang Wuji made further assignments: who would set up ambush, who would cut the enemy’s rear flank, who would engage them frontally, who would make flank attack, and so on; all in detail arrangement.

    Yang Xiao and the others noticed how he planned this ingenious tactic and deployed troop’s formation to engage the enemy; everything was so clear and orderly as if it was all premeditated. They were all utterly impressed; nobody knew that he had used the military tactic legacy of Yue Wumu. Only, he modified it slightly because of different terrain and different troops.

    Finished assigning tasks, Zhang Wuji finally said, “I am asking Kong Wen Fangzhang and Kong Zhi Shen Seng to lead gentlemen and ladies of the Emei Pai to take care of the injured and the dead.” Since Zhou Zhiruo was not present, Emei Pai had no one to give leadership. Zhang Wuji was aware Emei Pai had deep resentment against him, so he felt it was inappropriate for him to give them direction. For this reason he asked Kong Wen and Kong Zhi, two divine monks; both men of good moral standing and reputation to act as their leaders. Presumably, Emei Pai people would not refuse to be under their leaderships. Sure enough, hearing his order, male and female disciples of Emei Pai silently accepted it; no one open his or her mouth in dissent.

    In a loud and clear voice Zhang Wuji said, “Today, the warriors of the Central Plains are united to fight the Tatar invasion. Masters in charge of bells and drums of the Shaolin Pai, please beat the drums and ring the bells.” The multitude of heroes responded with an earth-shattering cheers; they unsheathed their weapons in high spirit.

    The Lie Huo Flag had transported the firewood amassed in the Temple out from its storehouses and piled it up in front of the Temple. They lighted it up and very soon flames and thick smoke rose up to the sky. The Hou Tu Flag had spread silt on top of various halls in the Temple, where the Lie Huo Flag then stacked firewood on it. This way, when they lighted the firewood, the fire would not spread to the building below. Yet from a distant, the several hundred buildings in the Temple complex appeared to be burning.

    From the base of the mountain, the Yuan army heard the bells and drums first, which sounded like emergency alarm; then the saw the raging fire up the mountain. “Not good!” they said to each other, “The ‘man zi’ [insulting term for south Chinese/southern barbarian] set the Temple on fire; they must be running away.”

    Leading more than 150 warriors excelled in ‘qing gong’, Yu Lianzhou rushed down the mountain from the left side of Shaoshi Peak. Before they even reached the waist of the mountain, Yuan troops had already made loud ruckus and lined up in formation to pursue. The crowd of warriors scattered in all direction, making it hard for the Yuan army to shoot them with arrows.

    Zhang Songxi led the second group. Yin Liting led the third group. Each of them carried a large bundle on his back. The bundles contained either wooden planks or bundles of clothes. In the eyes of the Yuan troops, it appeared that they were abandoning the Temple, escaping with difficulty carrying valuables; but the bundles were actually shields against the Mongolians’ arrows.

    Because of the heavy smoke, the Yuan troops could not see clearly how many people were escaping. Thereupon they divided their forces into two groups; ten thousand soldiers pursued the escapees immediately, while the other ten thousand stayed in their original defensive position.

    “Yang Zuo Shi,” Zhang Wuji turned toward Yang Xiao, “The Tatar General is quite knowledgeable of military tactic; he did not order the entire army to pursue. This might give us trouble.”

    “Yes,” Yang Xiao replied, “They do give us reason to be concerned.”

    They heard bugles sound from the bottom of the mountain. Two thousand strong Yuan cavalry divided itself into two groups and advanced to the top of the mountain from left and right. The mountain roads were rugged, but Mongolian ponies were able to gallop fast, as if they were flying. With their long spears and iron armors, the troops’ appearance was very impressive.

    When the vanguard of the Yuan cavalry arrived at the pavilion halfway up the mountain, Zhang Wuji gave his signal. From either side of the road, Lie Huo Flag people closing in, crouching among the tall grass. As the two-thousand strong cavalry advanced about another hundred ‘zhang’s, Xin Ran let out a whistle; his troops immediately sprayed oil toward the enemy, followed by balls of fire, burning both horses and their riders. The horses neighed in fear and pain; most of them rolled down the mountain, creating a great chaos.

    The Yuan troops discipline was very strict. As the front group was being defeated, the rear group did not budge. Under the command of their general, three thousand soldiers got down from their horses and marched forward to attack. Again the Lie Huo Flag shot their fire, burning several hundred troops. But with extreme force of will, the remaining troops were still marching on.

    Tang Yang, the Flag Leader of the Hong Shui Flag waved a black flag; poisonous water spurted out. Next, the Hou Tu Flag also shot poisonous sand, throwing the Yuan army into total disorder. Several hundred troops managed to advance toward the mountain peak. These soldiers were completely wiped out by the Rui Jin Flag and Ju Mu Flag.

    From the bottom of the mountain suddenly came the sound of beating drums. Five thousand troops marched forward with large shields lined up in front of their bodies, creating a slowly advancing wall. This way, the fire, poisonous water and poisonous sand lost their effectiveness. Even gigantic logs rolled down by the Ju Mu Flag only managed to create a few gaps, which were quickly closed again.

    Seeing this desperate situation, Abbot Kong Wen said, “Zhang Jiaozhu, please have everybody retreat quickly. We must preserve the vitality of the Wulin world of the Central Plains. Although we are defeated today, we will stage a comeback in the future.”

    In the midst of this anxiety, suddenly they heard rousing sound of metal drums from the foot of the mountain, followed by a rocket shot up to the sky. Battle cries rose up from all directions.

    Yang Xiao was delighted. “Jiaozhu,” he said, “Our reinforcement arrives!”

    From the top of the mountain looking down, they could not see the situation at the foot of the mountain; but they saw the dust rose and they heard the shouts of the people and the neigh of the horses. Obviously, the incoming troops were numerous.

    Zhang Wuji loudly called out, “The reinforcement has arrived; everybody, charge!” From the top of the mountain, the multitude of heroes charged downward with weapons in their hands.

    Zhang Wuji cried out again, “Gentlemen Heroes, kill officers first before killing the soldiers.”

    The crowd of heroes echoed his cry, “Kill officers first before killing the soldiers!”

    The Mongolian armed force was organized into teams. Every ten soldiers formed a ten-man unit. Every ten-man units formed a hundred-man unit. Likewise, they formed thousand-man unit and subsequently ten-thousand-man unit, following a layered chain of command. When they go to battle, it was just like the mind giving order to the arm, the arm giving order to the hand, the hand giving order to the fingers. If the two forces were battling against each other arrayed in formation, Zhang Wuji’s order to kill the officers first would be difficult to follow; but at this moment the Yuan army was scattered on the hillside. Although the Yuan army could be considered elite troops, the martial art skill of their officers, after all, was inferior to the heroes and warriors of the Central Plains. Soon several ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of a thousand-man unit] and ‘bai fu zhang’ [leader of a hundred-man unit] were killed. The Mongolian troops were thrown into confusion.

    Charging down the mountain, Zhang Wuji and the others saw fluttering flags at the base of the mountain. The one on the south carried a ‘Xu’ character, while the one on the north had a ‘Chang’ character. So they know that Xu Da and Chang Yuchun had arrived.

    Xu and Chang, two men were originally stationed around the Huai Si River. This time they were just moving their troops to Henan when Budai Heshang [cloth sack monk] Shuo Bude arrived with the call for help. As soon as they learned about their Cult Leader was besieged by the enemy at the Shaoshi Peak, they deployed their troops night and day. By that time, around the Henan and Hubei, the Ming Cult army had fought the Yuan army for several years; with both sides occupying overlapping regions. Since they were not too far away and left as soon as they received the news, they managed to arrive in less than two days.

    Xu Da and Chang Yuchun had been in command over the Ming Cult army for a long time; moreover, their troops were large, so they were able to drive the Yuan army to the west in no time.

    The other force of ten-thousand Yuan soldiers was pursuing the heroes who pretended to escape from the Temple toward the western valley. Yu Lianzhou, Zhang Songxi and Yin Liting led several hundred warriors with outstanding ‘qing gong’ fighting and retreating into the valley. The Yuan army’s ‘wan fu zhang’ [leader of ten-thousand-man unit] saw that the three sides of the valley were all steep cliffs; the valley looked dangerous. However, seeing the number of the enemy was small, he thought that even if the enemy prepared an ambush there, they should be able to deal with it. Thereupon he signaled with his hand to order his troops to pursue closely into the valley.

    As Yu Lianzhou and the others arrived at the bottom of the cliff, they climbed on several dozens long ropes, which were prepared in advance. As the ‘wan fu zhang’ realized they had fallen into the enemy’s trap, he quickly ordered his men to withdraw. To his shock, however, at the mouth of the valley they were driven back by volleys of fire, poisonous sand, arrows, and poisonous water; while the Ju Mu Flag dropped logs in abundance to seal up the entrance of the valley.

    Meanwhile, the second defeated army was also driven to the valley. As they saw there was no way out, they ran all over the mountain and valley, scattered to all direction. Zhang Wuji and Xu Da arrived in close succession. “What a pity!” they cried; if they had planned it properly in advance, the second ten thousand strong troops would also be driven into the valley and destroyed completely.

    Zhang Wuji did not anticipate the Yuan army would divide themselves into two groups, he also did not expect the reinforcement would arrive amazingly quickly. After all, commanding troops in the battlefield was not the same as being a Cult Leader. Although the Wumu Legacy contained marvelous military strategy, in the end, it was not easy to reconcile between the theory and practice. If Xu Da and Chang Yuchun did not arrive on time, the Shaolin Temple would inadvertently meet its doom. The first ten-thousand strong Yuan army, which was trapped inside the valley, would also be eventually rescued by their allies.

    Xu Da immediately ordered his troops to move dirt and rocks to seal the mouth of the valley. He also sent his archers to climb up the cliff. Occupying the higher position their arrows shot down like rain into the Yuan army below. The Yuan troops were surrounded by the valley walls, they were powerless to retaliate and could only hide underneath the mountain rocks.

    Not too long afterwards, Chang Yuchun’s troops arrived. He was extremely delighted to see Zhang Wuji after a long period of separation.

    “Remove the dirt and the rocks,” Chang Yuchun yelled, “We are going in to wipe out the Tatars.”

    Xu Da laughed and said, “There are no food and no water in the valley. Give them seven, eight days; the Tatars will die of thirst and starvation. Why must we, brothers, painstakingly fight with them?”

    Chang Yuchun also laughed, “I always prefer to kill them with my own hands.”

    Although Chang Yuchun was older than Xu Da, he usually submitted to Xu Da’s intelligence; also, he noticed that Zhang Wuji did not contradict Xu Da, so he did not press on.

    Xu and Chang, two men were battlefield-trained; their orders were appropriate and to the point. Zhang Wuji realized his battle experience was inferior to these two, therefore, he asked Xu and Chang to be in charge in pursuing and killing the runaway Yuan soldiers.

    That evening, joyous noise shook the Shaoshi Peak, as the Ming Cult rebel army [orig. ‘yi jun’ – righteous army, or militia] and the heroes from all schools and sects celebrate their victory. After several days in a row always eating vegetarian dishes in the Shaolin Temple, they grew tired of the food. Tonight, wine and meat were overflowing; everybody could eat to their heart’s content.

    During the banquet, Zhang Wuji asked Chang Yuchun about his health; he wanted to know if Chang Yuchun diligently took the medicine he prescribed to nurse Chang Yuchun’s health. Chang Yuchun laughed aloud and said, “Jiaozhu, don’t worry. Lao Chang [the Ol’ Chang] is as healthy as an ox, on one meal I can eat three catties of meat and six big bowls of rice. During the battle, lack of sleep for three days and three nights will not harm me a bit.” His implication was that he did not need any medication. However, Zhang Wuji remembered what Hu Qingniu had told him; therefore, he earnestly implored him to take the medicine for his health. Chang Yuchun only gave him a non-committal answer, because in his heart he greatly disapproved Zhang Wuji’s advice.

    Xu Da poured a cup full of wine to toast Zhang Wuji. “Congratulations, Jiaozhu,” he said, “Please accept this toast!” Zhang Wuji received the cup and drank the wine.

    Xu Da said, “Subordinate has always admired Jiaozhu’s courage and wisdom in dealing with others, admired your peerless martial art skill. To my surprise, your military tactic is also marvelous. This is the great fortune of our Cult to the benefit of common people everywhere.”

    Zhang Wuji laughed out loud and said, “Xu Dage, no need to flatter me. Our great victory today was first, due to the amazingly speedy arrival of Xu Dage and Chang Dage; and second, due to the Yue Wumu’s Legacy. Xiao Di [little brother] truly cannot take even a half part of credit.”

    “What is the Yue Wumu’s Legacy?” Xu Da wondered, “I beg for Jiaozhu’s explanation.”

    Zhang Wuji took a bundle of yellowish thin paper from his bosom. It was the Wumu Legacy, which was concealed inside the Tulong Saber. He turned the page to the ‘Troops Trapped on the Ox-head Mountain’ section and handed it over to Xu Da.

    Xu Da received the book with both hands and read attentively for a moment. He could not help but be stunned and impressed and the same time. “Wumu’s ability in managing the troops was truly divine, truly unachievable by the later generation,” he sighed, “If Yue Wumu was still alive today, leading the warriors of the Central Plains, we would not worry about driving the Tatars back to the northern desert.”

    While saying that, he respectfully returned the book But Zhang Wuji did not want to receive it. He said, “’The most revered in the Wulin world, treasured Saber slaughtering the dragon; ruling everything under the heavens, no one dares to disobey.’ The real meaning of these sixteen characters, only today did I finally understand. The so-called ‘the most revered in the Wulin world’ is not the Saber itself, but it is the Legacy concealed inside the Saber. When this military strategy is used to face the enemy, fighting a battle will result in victory, attacking will result in subduing the enemy. Ultimately, ‘ruling everything under the heavens, no one dared to disobey.’ Otherwise, how can one rule everything under the heavens with just a single treasured saber? Xu Dage, I am passing this military strategy book to you. I hope you will use the notes Yue Wumu left behind to take our country [orig. ‘he shan’ – river and mountain] back and set up a new emperor [orig. ‘huang long – yellow dragon].”

    Xu Da was taken aback. “What kind of virtue or ability does Subordinate have?” he hastily said, “How can I be worthy to accept such a generous gift from Jiaozhu?”

    “Xu Dage,” Zhang Wuji replied, “Please do not decline. I am giving this book on military strategy to you on behalf of the common people.”

    Xu Da held the book with trembling hands. Zhang Wuji continued, “There were two more lines in the saying circulating within the Wulin world: ‘Yitian [relying on Heaven] does not appear, who can match its sharpness?’ Presently, the Yitian Sword is broken into two; but someday someone will mend it. Hidden inside the Sword was a very fierce secret martial art manual. I also know the meaning of these last two lines. The Military Manual is to be used to drive the Tatars away. Somebody will seize the power. If it happens that the new ruler is abusing his newfound power, that he is simply replacing one tyrant with another, so that the common people are oppressed with great suffering, then there will come a day when a hero, wielding the Yitian Sword, will severe the head of that tyrant. Although by commanding millions of warriors the tyrant is able to overturn the world, he might not necessarily able to withstand one strike of the Yitian Sword. Xu Dage, I want you to remember what I said today.”

    Xu Da’s back was streaming with cold sweats; he did not dare to decline anymore. “Subordinate will cautiously observe Jiaozhu’s instructions today,” he said. With full respect he placed the Wumu Legacy on the table, kneeled down and kowtowed to it four times before respectfully thanking Zhang Wuji again for bestowing the book to him.

    Hereafter, Xu Da did indeed command his troops with a divine skill; consecutively defeated the Yuan army, until finally he held the commander-in-chief position in the expedition to the north, driving away the Mongolians beyond the Great Wall. His prestige shook the northern desert, establishing meritorious achievement of his generation. Henceforth the Ming Cult was admired by the heroes of the Central Plains. Everywhere Zhang Wuji issued his order, nobody dared to disobey. For the last several hundred years the Ming Cult was held in contempt by the common people; they were considered demonic and heretical. After this heaven-turning-and-earth-shaking huge change, the Ming Cult became the leader of the heroes and warriors of the Central Plains, became the driving force behind the resurgence’s great mission. Later on, Zhu Yuanzhang turned double-minded and repeatedly schemed to ascend the throne. Even so, the Ming Cult people were the ones helping him to take back the country [here, the word is ‘jiang shan’ – river and mountain]; therefore, he could not help but choose the character ‘Ming’ [bright] as his dynasty name. From the first year of Ming Dynasty’s Emperor Hongwu [reign name of Zhu Yuanzhang] to the seventeenth year of Emperor Chongzhen [the last emperor of Ming Dynasty], 277 years of ruling the land under the heavens [i.e. China], it was because of the Ming Cult.

    [Translator’s note: Jin Yong original text says the first year of Hongwu was ‘wu shen’, the forty-fifth year of the 60-year cycle. History of China (J.A.G. Roberts) says Zhu Yuanzhang declared his new dynasty in January of the year 1368. The last year of Chongzhen was ‘jia shen’ – the twenty-first year of the 60-year cycle, or 1644. Roberts did say that Chongzhen committed suicide in 1644; however, 1368 + 277 = 1645. The same book also says that Chongzhen reigned from 1628 to 1645 (seventeen years). One possible explanation I can think of is that according to Chinese calendar, January of 1368 was still considered the previous year.]

    That evening, the multitude of heroes ate and drank until dawn; it was not until they were drunk did they go to their rooms to rest. Toward the afternoon, one by one they took their leave from Kong Wen and Kong Zhi. Zhang Wuji saw that the Emei disciples were like sheep without a shepherd, his heart was sorrowful. He also saw Song Qingshu was still lying on the stretcher; it was unclear whether he was still alive or had already died. Thereupon he went near them and said to Jing Hui, “Let me examine Song Dage’s injury.”

    Jing Hui coldly said, “The cat weeps for the dead mouse. You don’t need to shed crocodile tears.”

    Zhou Dian happened to be nearby; he could not restrain himself from cursing, “For the sake of old friendship with your Zhang Men [Sect Leader], our Jiaozhu is willing to treat this surnamed Song’s injury. Actually, everybody has the right to kill this kind of renegade and betrayer-of-father disciple. What is a wicked nun like you prattling about?”

    Jing Hui was about to retort; but then she saw Zhou Dian’s rogue looking ugly countenance, she was afraid he might be persistently unreasonable. If a fight broke, she would unavoidably be at a disadvantage; therefore, suppressing her anger she laughed coldly and said, “From generation to generation, our Emei Pai’s Zhang Men has always be ‘clear-as-ice-and-clean-as-jade’ virgin. If Zhou Zhang Men did not maintain her moral integrity and chastity, how can she be our school’s Zhang Men? Humph, if this kind of traitor Song Qingshu stayed with our Sect, he might smear Zhou Zhang Men’s reputation. Li Shizhi [martial nephew], Long Shizhi, please return this fellow to Wudang Pai!”

    The two Emei disciples carrying Song Qingshu complied. Lifting up the stretcher, they brought it to Yu Lianzhou and set it down in front of him before promptly returning to their group. Everybody was stunned.

    “Wh … what?” Yu Lianzhou asked, “He is not your Zhang Men’s husband?”

    “Humph,” Jing Hui hatefully said, “How could our Zhang Men even look at a man like that? She was unbearably angry to that kid Zhang Wuji for breaking faith and running away from their wedding; humiliating our Sect in front of the heroes from all over the world. It was then that she deceived this kid to come and pretend to be her husband. Who would have thought … humph, humph, if we had only known, why should our Zhang Men endure this notoriety? Presently, she … she …”

    Zhang Wuji had been listening from the side with a dull expression on his face; he could not restrain himself from stepping forward and asking, “You said Mrs. Song … she … she is not really Mrs. Song?”

    Jing Hui turned her head and hatefully said, “I am not talking to you.”

    Right this moment, Song Qingshu, who was still lying on the stretcher, stirred and moaned, “Is … is Zhang Wuji killed?”

    “On your dream!” Jing Hui sneered, “Death is at your door, you are still thinking about pretty face.”

    Seeing Jing Hui was emotional and her speech was incoherent, in low voice Yin Liting asked another female disciple of Emei, Bei Jinyi, “Bei Shimei [martial (younger) sister), what had actually happened?”

    Bei Jinyi was a good friend of Ji Xiaofu. As Yin Liting asked her, she hesitated for a long time before saying, “Jing Hui Shijie [martial (older) sister), Yin Liu Xia is not an outsider. Let Xiao Mei [little sister – referring to self] explain to him, all right?”

    “What outsider or not outsider?” Jing Hui replied, “He is not an outsider, we must explain it to him. He is an outsider, we must explain it to him even more. Our Zhou Zhang Men is clean and pure; she has nothing to do with this crafty villain surnamed Song. All of you have seen the ‘shou gong sha’ [lit. gecko/house lizard sand, ‘chastity mark’?] on Zhang Men’s arm with your own eyes. We must make this fact known to the Wulin people all over the world, so that our Emei Pai’s hundred years of uprightness will not be blemished …”

    Yin Liting thought, “This Jing Hui Shitai’s mind is jumbled; her speech is somewhat confusing.” Thereupon he said to Bei Jinyi, “Bei Shimei, since that is the case, could you elaborate more? How did my Song Shizhi get involved with your precious Pai? What relationship did he have with your precious Pai’s Zhang Men? Someday Xiao Xiong [lit. little/humble elder brother] must report to our Shifu. This matter concerns both of our Sects; I think it will be better not to damage the friendship between the two parties.”

    Bei Jinyi sighed and said, “Speaking about both behavior and martial art skill, this Song Shao Xia [young hero] could actually be considered a rare talent within the Wulin world. Only because of one silly youthful lust, he has fallen into such sin. Apparently our Zhang Men promised him that as soon as Zhang Wuji is killed to wash away the humiliation she experienced in her wedding day, she would marry him. Thereupon he agreed to join our Sect and asked our Zhang Men for advice in the marvelous martial art. During the Heroes Assembly the day before yesterday, Zhang Men suddenly declared herself as ‘Mrs. Song’; by saying that she was the wife of this Song Shao Xia. At that time, all our Sect’s disciples were utterly astonished. That same day our Zhang Men’s prestige shook the crowd of heroes by subduing all Sects …”

    Zhou Dian interrupted, “It was because our Jiaozhu was yielding to her intentionally; what a loud horn you are blowing!”

    Bei Jinyi ignored him, she continued, “Although our Sect’s disciples were very happy, when evening came, we still asked her where the ‘Mrs. Song’, three characters [Song Fu Ren] came from. Zhang Men exposed her right arm and sternly said, ‘Everybody, come and see!’ All of us saw with our own eyes the scarlet ‘shou gong sha’ on her arm, so we know that she has kept her chastity. Zhang Men said, ‘It was expedient that I call myself Mrs Song for the time being. I need to make that kid Zhang Wuji angry, to disturb his mind so that I may seize victory over him. This kid’s martial art is simply too remarkable, I definitely cannot defeat him. For the sake of our Sect’s reputation, why should I care about my own?’ She said that with determination and in loud voice as if she wanted everybody to hear it clearly. She also said, ‘The disciples of this Sect, male or female, unless they are ‘chu jia xiu dao’ [those who leave home (to become Buddhist monks or nuns), and those who practice Daoism], are never forbidden from getting married. However, since our founder Guo Zu Shi’s [lit. ancestor master], all highest and deepest martial art skills are imparted only to virgins who keep themselves pure. Each time a female disciple bows down to enter our school, Shifu will always plant ‘shou gong sha’ on our arms. Every year, on Guo Zu Shi birthday, Xian Shi [departed master] would perform inspection. That year Ji Shijie … it was …” Speaking to this point, she stammered and then stopped altogether.

    Yin Liting and the others understood clearly, however, that Bei Jinyi was going to say that when Ji Xiaofu was violated by Yang Xiao, her ‘shou gong sha’ disappeared and that was how her disgrace was discovered by Miejue Shitai. Yin Liting and Yang Buhui were happily married, yet as he remembered Ji Xiaofu this time, he could not help from feeling deep sorrow in his heart. Involuntarily he cast a sidelong glance toward Yang Xiao and saw that Yang Xiao’s eyes were brimming with tears as he turned his head away.

    “Yin Liu Xia,” Bei Jinyi said, “Our Zhang Men deliberately wanted to anger the Ming Cult’s Zhang Wuji by taking advantage of this Song Shao Xia’s endless infatuation toward our Zhang Men, in the end, it gave birth to many problems. I wish for Song Shao Xia’s recovery, also for Yin Liu Xia to talk to Zhang Zhenren and Song Da Xia, so as to avoid further hostility between your precious Sect and ours.”

    Yin Liting nodded. “So that’s how it is. My Shizhi was disobedient and he defied his superior, his death will not be regretted. He truly did bring shame to our humble Sect. I only wish he would die cleanly sooner.” Yin Liting was softhearted by nature, but recalling Song Qingshu’s grave offense by murdering Mo Shenggu, he was really repulsed by him.

    While they were still talking, suddenly from a distant came a shrill scream; it sounded like Zhou Zhiruo’s voice, full of shock and fear, as if she had met some extremely dangerous misfortune. Everybody was horrified; especially since it was in the middle of the day, the sun was shining brightly, with people everywhere all around them. Yet this scream was so hair rising, as if the person screaming suddenly saw an evil spirit appear before her very eyes. Almost like on cue, everybody turned their heads to the direction of the noise.

    Zhang Wuji, Jing Hui, Bei Jinyi and the others rushed forward. Zhang Wuji was afraid Zhou Zhiruo might meet a powerful enemy, so he ran full speed ahead. After several jumps, he had already entered the forest. He saw a dark green shadow running wildly towards him, it was none other than Zhou Zhiruo.

    Quickly Zhang Wuji met her and asked, “Zhiruo, what is it?”

    Zhou Zhiruo cried out with a face full of terror, “Ghost, ghost! There’s a ghost chasing me!” She threw herself to Zhang Wuji’s chest, while trembling uncontrollably.

    Seeing her so frightened as if her soul was leaving her, Zhang Wuji patted her shoulder gently. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid; there is no ghost,” he said consolingly, “What did you see?” He noticed that her clothes were tattered from running through the thick briar and her face was full of bloodstains. Half of the sleeve on her left arm was torn, exposing a snow-white, lotus-root colored arm. Sure enough, there was a red dot, as red as a coral or a red jade, the ‘shou gong sha’.

    Zhang Wuji was proficient in medicine. He knew that once this ‘shou gong sha’ was implanted under the skin, it would stay forever, unless the woman marries or loses her chastity. When listening to Jing Hui and Bei Jinyi previously, he was still half-believing and half-doubting. Now as he saw it with his own eyes, not even half a suspicion remained in his heart.

    In that moment, myriads of thoughts filled his mind. “So her marriage with Song Qingshu was a fake. Why did she deceive me? Why did she deliberately want to anger me? Was it truly because of that ‘Number One Martial Artist of the Present Age’ title? Was it because she wanted to test my heart, whether I still have feelings toward her?” Just as quick, he remembered, “Zhang Wuji, oh, Zhang Wuji, Miss Zhou is the enemy who murdered your Biaomei. Whether she is a virgin or already married to someone else, what do you have to do with it?” Yet seeing how terrified Zhou Zhiruo was, he did not have a heart to push her away.

    Zhou Zhiruo buried her face in Zhang Wuji’s chest. She was aware of Zhang Wuji’s broad and muscular body and smelled his masculine breath; gradually her fear subsided. “Wuji Gege,” she said, “Is it you?”

    “It is I,” Zhang Wuji replied, “What did you see? Why were you terrified like that?”

    Zhou Zhiruo was suddenly enveloped by fear again. ‘Wah!’ she broke into crying again; she sobbed uncontrollably on Zhang Wuji’s shoulder with hot tears streaming down her cheeks.

    By this time, Yang Xiao, Wei Yixiao, Jing Hui, Yin Liting and the others arrived one after another. Seeing this scene, they signaled each other with their eyes and withdrew quietly. Ming Cult, Wudang Pai and Emei Pai people were all still hoping in their hearts that Zhou Zhiruo will be reconciled with Zhang Wuji and they will become husband and wife. Admittedly, it was difficult for all these people to forget Zhao Min’s offense in the past. In addition, Zhao Min was a Mongolian woman; if Zhang Wuji took her as his wife, they were afraid it would hinder their great mission.

    After crying for a while, Zhou Zhiruo suddenly said, “Wuji Gege, is there somebody chasing me?”

    “No,” Zhang Wuji replied, “Who is chasing you? Is it the Xuanming Elders?”

    “No! Not them!” Zhou Zhiruo said, “Have you looked clearly? Are you sure nobody … no, it was not a human … Are you sure nothing, whatever it is, pursuing me?”

    Zhang Wuji smiled and said, “The sun is shining brightly, I can see everything clearly.” His voice turned gentle; “Zhiruo,” he said, “You have spent too much energy these past few days; you must be really tired. Perhaps you hallucinated and thought you saw something.”

    “Can’t be! Can’t possibly be!” Zhou Zhiruo insisted, “I saw it three times; three consecutive times.” Her voice trembled; obviously she was terrified.

    “What is it that you saw three consecutive times?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    With one hand on his shoulder, Zhou Zhiruo tried to stand up on her trembling feet. And then, mustering all her courage and strength she turned around to look back. Just an instant she quickly turned her eyes toward Zhang Wuji again and seeing his gentle and soft expression, full of concern, her heart ached; suddenly she felt weary and dropped down on the ground.

    “Wuji Gege,” she said, “I … I have deceived you. I was the one who took Yitian Sword and Tulong Saber, I was the one who killed … killed Yin … Miss Yin … I was the one who sealed Xie Da Xia’s acupoint. I … I did not marry Song Qingshu. In my heart I always have only … only you alone.”

    Zhang Wuji sighed. “Actually, I have already known everything. But … but why did you do it?”

    Crying, Zhou Zhiruo said, “You don’t know what my Shifu told me on the Wan An Temple Pagoda. She told me the secret of the Yitian Sword and the Tulong Saber. She wanted me to obtain the treasured Sword and Saber at all costs, to brighten the name of Emei Pai. She made me swear a heavy oath to pretend that I like you, but she would not allow me to fall in love with you …”

    Zhang Wuji gently stroked her arm, remembering how he had witnessed Miejue Shitai struck Ji Xiaofu dead with her palm, how in the great desert Miejue Shitai swore to destroy the Ming Cult, how he saw her massacre the Cult disciples under the Rui Jin Flag with Yitian Sword in her hand. Afterwards, soaring down from the Wan An Temple Pagoda, she preferred death to being help by him. It all showed how deep her hatred toward the Ming Cult was. Since Zhou Zhiruo was appointed her successor and had received her last words, all kinds of malicious and cruel acts she did must be because of her Shifu’s instructions.

    By his nature, Zhang Wuji had always been very easy to forgive other people’s offense. He had never held any grudge against anybody. Moreover, he remembered her kindness when they were little on the boat floating along the Hanshui River, how she helped him eat and took a good care of him. Also, during the fierce battle on the Brightness Peak, when he was fighting He Taichong, husband and wife, and the two tall and short elders of Huashan Pai, perhaps he would have been dead right then and there if she did not give him directions from the side. On top of that, he remembered that although she was malicious, cruel and crafty, all her actions were caused by her deep feelings toward him.

    This moment, as her delicate and frail body was leaning against his bosom, Zhang Wuji could not help from having a tender feeling toward her. “Zhiruo,” he called in a soft voice, “What did you actually see, which made you that scared?”

    Suddenly Zhou Zhiruo jumped up and said, “I am not going to say. It must be one of those restless spirit came back to entangle me. I have done too much evil. I deserve this revenge. I have explained to you everything, I … I won’t live long …” Covering her face, she scurried down the mountain.

    Zhang Wuji felt as if his mind was enveloped in fog. “What restless ghost entangled her? Was it the Beggar Clan’s people seeking revenge on her and dressed up as a ghost to frighten her?” Slowly he turned around and walked back to the Temple.

    He saw Zhou Zhiruo go toward the Emei Pai crowd. Bei Jinyi took a coat and wrapped it around her shoulder. Zhou Zhiruo said something in low voice and the Emei Pai disciples bowed together.

    By this time, most of the multitude of heroes had left the mountain, Kong Wen and Kong Zhi, two monks were busy sending them off. Yang Xiao, Fan Yao and the others congregated around Zhang Wuji. “We’d better take our leave too,” Zhang Wuji said.

    He saw Zhou Zhiruo walk toward Kong Wen and speak in a low voice. Kong Wen’s countenance changed; he looked startled. Then Kong Wen shook his head. Whatever it was, it looked like Kong Wen had just refused her request. Zhou Zhiruo talked some more, and then suddenly she kneeled down in front of him. Clasping her palms together, she mumbled something that looked like she was praying. Kong Wen looked somber, his mouth muttered praises to Buddha.

    “Jiaozhu,” Zhou Dian said, “You must quickly stop her, don’t let her do it.”

    “Don’t let her do what?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    Zhou Dian replied, “Miss Zhou is going to leave home [orig. chu jia] to become a monk. She … she is going to enter the gate of emptiness. It will be bad for you.”

    Yang Xiao snickered and said, “Even if Miss Zhou is going to leave home, she will become a nun, not a monk. Why would she take a Shaolin Pai monk to be her master?”

    Zhou Dian slapped his forehead loudly. “Right, right!” he said, “I was muddleheaded. But what is Miss Zhou asking Kong Wen Dashi to do? One is Shaolin Pai Zhang Men, the other is Emei Pai Zhang Men, they are equal, nobody needs to kneel down in front of the other.”

    They saw Zhou Zhiruo standing up; her face showed she was somewhat comforted. Zhang Wuji sighed and said, “We don’t need to meddle into someone else’s business.” Turning his head, he said, “Min Mei, let us leave.” Who would have thought that as he turned his head, he did not see Zhao Min.

    For the last several days, Zhao Min had never left his side; she always shadowed Zhang Wuji. Zhang Wuji was slightly stunned. “Where is Miss Zhao?” he asked, while in his heart he silently cursed, “Bad! I am sure Min Mei saw me when Zhiruo leaned against my chest. Could it be that she thinks I cannot forget my old flame and considers me as hopeless?” Hastily he ordered everybody to look for her.

    Xin Ran, the Flag Leader of Lie Huo Flag said, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: subordinate saw Miss Zhao walking down the mountain!”

    Zhang Wuji was grieved. “Min Mei has abandoned everything to follow me,” he mused, “She has gone through I don’t know how many adversities. How can I give up on her?” Thereupon, he turned to Yang Xiao and said, “Yang Xiong, I am asking you to take care of our business here. I am going to leave first.”

    He bid his farewell to Kong Wen and Kong Zhi, also to Yu Lianzhou, Zhang Songxi, Yin Liting and the others. Last of all, he said to Zhou Zhiruo, “Zhiruo, take a good care of yourself. We’ll meet again some day soon.” Zhou Zhiruo hung her head low; she did not reply, only nodded slightly. Beads of silver tears fell down from her face to the dusty ground.

    Unleashing his ‘qing gong’, Zhang Wuji dashed down the mountain. For the next several ‘li’s, the mountain path was full with the heroes returning home from Shaolin Temple. He was not willing to greet the heroes one by one, so he simply flew past them from the side, yet along the way he did not see any trace of Zhao Min at all. In one breath he had pursued for more than thirty ‘li’s. The sky was turning dark, the people walking along the road was thinning. Suddenly he remembered, “Min Mei is best in planning and scheming. If she has a mind to avoid me, then most likely she will avoid the main road. Otherwise, with my speed, I should have caught up with her long ago. Could it be that she is still hiding around the Shaoshi Peak, waiting for me to leave before she comes out and walk away?”

    Burning with anxiety and he forgetting his own hunger and thirst, he ran back around the hills and valleys. Oftentimes he leaped up a tall tree, a hill peak or steep slope, looking to all directions. The empty mountain was quiet, the only noise came from the crows flying home for the night. Circling around toward the back of the Shaoshi Peak, he still did not see Zhao Min. “Whatever happens,” he mused, “I will always be faithful to you. Even if I have to go to the end of the earth or the corner of the ocean, I will find you.”

    Once he made this decision, his mind calmed down. Looking toward the northeast he saw two large locust trees grew side by side, towering high from a crevasse on the side of the mountain. Leaping up the tree, he found a large branch extended horizontally and lied down on this branch. After toiling for the whole day and facing many unforeseen incidents, he fell asleep not too long after he lied down.

    Toward the middle of the night, in his sleep he suddenly heard gentle footsteps from several dozens ‘zhang’s away, which made him wake up with a start. By this time, the round bright moon had already slanting toward the western sky. Under the moonlight, he saw on the hillside, there was a shadow floating speedily to the south. That person’s figure was slender with a slim waist; obviously, the shadow belonged to a woman.

    In his great delight, he nearly called ‘Min Mei’; but he immediately realized something was not right. The woman’s figure was taller than Zhao Min, her ‘qing gong’ was entirely different from Zhao Min’s, although her speed was inferior to Zhou Zhiruo’s, her steps were lighter and livelier. His curiosity was piqued. “This woman wanders alone in the deep of the night, I wonder what is it she is doing?” he mused.

    At first he thought that he did not have any business to meddle with whatever this woman was doing, but then he thought, “Who knows? Perhaps I will find Min Mei’s whereabouts from this woman. If she has nothing to do with Min Mei, then I will slip out quietly, no harm done. I must not let any clue off easily.” Thereupon he got up from the tree branch and quietly slipped down.

    Afraid that the woman might detect his presence, he did not dare to get too close. Besides, by stalking a young girl - a total stranger for that matter - in the middle of the night, it might be difficult for him to avoid frivolous suspicions from others.

    He noticed that the woman was wearing black clothes, and she indeed was heading toward the Shaolin Temple. “Although she has nothing to do with Min Mei, she must be doing some clandestine activity related to the Wulin world,” he thought, “If her intention is not beneficial to Shaolin, I must interfere.” He halted his steps to listen, and did not hear any other people nearby, so he knew that this woman did not have anybody supporting her.

    Walking for about the time needed to eat a bowl of rice, that woman had never turned her head around. Zhang Wuji had a vague feeling that this woman looked somewhat familiar, as if he had seen her somewhere before. “Is she Miss Wu Qingying? Or one of the Emei Pai female disciples?”

    Several ‘li’s later, Shaolin Temple was already in sight. The woman turned toward the side of the hill, approaching the Temple from the side. Suddenly she slowed down her steps and moved surreptitiously among the trees and the mountain rocks. It was obvious that she was afraid someone might see her.

    Suddenly he heard clear ringing noise coming from the main hall of the Shaolin Temple, followed by the sound of chanting of several hundred Buddhist monks. Zhang Wuji was greatly puzzled, “Shaolin monks are still chanting sutra deep into the night, and there are hundreds of them. Is there an important ceremony going on?” he mused.

    The woman in front of him proceeded even more stealthily. Several dozens ‘zhang’s more, she would have reached the side of the main hall. Suddenly there were light footsteps. The woman quickly ducked among the thick patch of grass. Four Shaolin monks with sabers and Buddhist staffs were patrolling around the Temple. The woman waited for the four monks to pass before standing up, and leaped toward the shutter by the main hall. Her leap was as light as flying cotton wool; her ‘qing gong’ was truly top-notch among the Wulin characters. Zhang Wuji noticed that she did not carry any weapon, plus she was alone; hence he believed it was unlikely that she came to Shaolin Temple to create trouble. He wanted to know who the woman was, whether she was a friend or a foe; therefore, crouching behind her, he crept toward the northwest corner of the main hall.

    He realized that he was in a very awkward situation. Someone of his position snooping around the Temple in the middle of the night, if he was detected by a Shaolin monk, although the other party might feign ignorance, he will not be able to avoid losing a great deal of face. And thus he was twice more careful; each step he took and each movement was as nimble as a cat stalking a mouse.

    By this time, the chanting inside the hall was getting louder. Peeking from a crack on the window, he saw hundreds of monks arranged in neat rows, all sitting on round meditation mats, all wearing yellow Buddhist robes, draped in scarlet and gold kasayas. Some of them were holding ceremonial articles in their hands; the rest of them clasped their palms together with heads hung low, loudly chanting the sutras. It sounded like they were offering prayers to send departing souls crossing into the netherworld. Zhang Wuji understood immediately. “In the Great Hero Assembly this time, there were not a few people lost their lives. During the Yuan army attack up the mountain, even more people from both sides perished. Therefore, the Temple monks are holding this ceremony tonight so that the dead will be reborn happily.”

    He saw that Reverend Kong Wen was standing in front of the sacrificial table. There was a young woman standing on his right. As soon as Zhang Wuji saw her, he was slightly stunned, since that young woman was none other than Zhou Zhiruo. Although he could only see her from the side, he could tell that her expression definitely showed grieve and distress; her pretty eyebrows were deeply wrinkled, as if she was harboring a deep sorrow.

    “That must be it,” Zhang Wuji thought, “The reason Zhiruo kneeled down in front of Kong Wen Dashi this afternoon must be to ask him to hold this Buddhist ceremony. I suppose she is repenting from her conduct and deeds. The innocents who lose their lives under her claw and her sword are simply too many.”

    Focusing his eyes, he tried to read the memorial tablets arranged on the sacrificial table. To his great surprise, one of the tablets read ‘nu xia Yin Li zhi ling wei’, seven characters [the memorial tablet of Heroine Yin Li]. Zhang Wuji felt a stab of pain in his heart, remembering how during her short and miserable life his cousin had always passionately devoted to him; he could not help from shedding some tears.

    Amidst the ringing of chime stones and the tapping of wooden fish, Zhou Zhiruo gracefully kneeled down and bowed to the ground, while her lips were moving in quiet prayer. ZhangWuji raised up his ’shen gong’ [divine strength] trying to listen to what she said. This was what he heard, “Miss Yin … your spirit in Heaven … rest in peace … do not come to harass me …”

    Zhang Wuji tightened his grip on the wall while disquieting thoughts filled his mind. “Biaomei lost her life under her sword, no doubt it was a cruel fate; but the torment inside Zhiruo’s heart, the pain she is suffering, might not necessarily be lighter than Biaomei’s. Suddenly from the ocean of thoughts in his mind a song surged up, the song he heard on the Brightness Peak, sung by the Ming Cult people, “What joy is in life, what pain in death? I pity the mankind, with their many sufferings! I pity the mankind, with their many sufferings!”

    Zhou Zhiruo stood up slowly with her body slightly facing the east. Suddenly her countenance greatly changed, while she called out, “You … you … you have come again!” Her voice was shrill, suppressing all other noises in the main hall.

    Zhang Wuji followed the direction of her eyes and saw the paper pasted on the window was somehow torn, and the hole revealed a young woman’s face. The face was full of scars. Zhang Wuji was so shocked that he shivered and could not stop from crying out. Although that young woman’s face was full of scars and the bumps of the former days were gone, he was very sure the face belonged to his dead cousin, Yin Li!

    He wanted to rush forward and call her, but his legs did not obey their master’s bidding; it was as if his feet were planted on the ground.

    As the face appeared suddenly on the window, there was a loud crash in the main hall as Zhou Zhiruo fainted and fell to the floor. Zhang Wuji no longer cared whatever Shaolin Pai might think of him; he called out loudly, “Zhu’er, Zhu’er! [spider kid] is that you?” But no one answered him.

    After calming himself down, he flew to the back of the hall to pursue, but all he saw was the moon hanging low on the horizon, casting its cold shadow on the trees; the young woman in black was nowhere to be seen. Normally he did not believe in deities and demons, but faced with these kinds of images and scenes, he could not restrain cold sweats from wetting his body and hairs from rising on the back of his neck. Bracing himself, he said to himself, “It is she, it is she! No wonder her back looked so familiar, turns out it is Zhu’er. Did her ghost know that the eminent Shaolin monks are offering prayers to help her crossover to the netherworld, so she came here to receive the prayers? Could it be that because she died an unjust death her spirit did not find peace?”

    As the Shaolin monks heard some noise, several people came over to investigate. As they saw Zhang Wuji, they could not help but be startled. A senior monk stepped forward, saluted him and said, “We did not know Zhang Jiaozhu came to visit this late at night, otherwise we would have welcomed you properly. Please accept our apology.”

    “I do not dare,” Zhang Wuji replied, cupping his fists to return the propriety. Stepping aside, he entered the main hall.

    He saw Zhou Zhiruo’s eyes were shut tight; her face was without any sign of blood. Apparently, she had not regained her consciousness. Walking toward her, he put forth his strength to massage her and knead [orig. ‘tui na’ – a form of Chinese manual therapy] her back for some time. Zhou Zhiruo slowly awakened.

    As she saw Zhang Wuji and realized she was in his embrace, Zhou Zhiruo hugged him and called out, “Ghost, there is a ghost!”

    Zhang Wuji said, “This is indeed strange, but you don’t need to be afraid. There are so many eminent monks in here. I am sure they will be able to solve this mystery.”

    Zhou Zhiruo had always been a dignified and staid woman. This time she was scared out of her wits, and right now she was embracing him in public; hearing him say these words, her face blushed and she busily pried herself away from him. She stood up, but could not stop herself from shivering. Quickly she grabbed his hand and even if she had to die, she would not dare to let him go.

    Zhang Wuji exchanged some propriety with Kong Wen; he mentioned that someone was spying on them outside the window just now. Neither Kong Wen nor any of the monks had seen it, but the fact remained that it was a new torn on the paper, and the hole was still there.

    “Wuji Ge … Zhang Jiaozhu,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “That was what I saw earlier.” Zhang Wuji nodded.

    “You … you …” Zhou Zhiruo’s voice was trembling, “Who did you say she was?”

    “She is Miss Yin, my Biaomei Yin Li,” Zhang Wuji replied. Zhou Zhiruo cried out in fear and fainted again.

    This time Zhang Wuji pulled her hand that she did not fall to the floor. She was unconscious for a moment but quickly recovered. Zhang Wuji said, “I did see Biaomei, but … she is a human, not a ghost!”

    “She is not a ghost?” Zhou Zhiruo was still trembling.

    Zhang Wuji said, “I followed her all the way to Shaolin Temple. She walked like a human, not like a ghost.” He had said that to comfort Zhou Zhiruo, but deep in his heart, he was unsure.

    “So you saw her walking like a human and not like a ghost?” Zhou Zhiruo asked.

    Zhang Wuji then recounted how he saw that black-dressed young woman and followed her all the way to Shaolin Temple; also how he saw her hiding outside the long window and spying inside the main hall. Every action and every movement was of a young woman who was adept in martial arts, not at all peculiar in any way.

    “Fangzhang,” he asked Kong Wen, “I [orig. ‘zaixia’ – the humble one] have one thing I am not sure I understand, I beg Fangzhang’s advice. When someone dies, will he really become a ghost?”

    Kong Wen pondered about it deeply for half a day before answering, “The matter of the netherworld is difficult to assert.”

    Zhang Wuji said, “That being the case, why did Fangzhang hold a ceremony to cross the departing soul to the netherworld?

    “Shanzai, zhanzai!” Kong Wen said, “The departing soul need not be helped to cross over. In the matter of live and death, virtue has its reward, evil has its retribution. The way of Buddha seeks to help living people achieving peace; the ones need help to cross over are the living ones.”

    Zhang Wuji understood immediately. Cupping his fists he said, “Many thanks for the direction. I have stirred up trouble and caused disturbance this late at night. I only wish for Fangzhang’s forgiveness.”

    Kong Wen smiled and said, “Jiaozhu is our humble Sect’s great benefactor. You have saved us several times, enabling Shaolin Pai to avoid disaster; why be overly courteous?”

    Immediately Zhang Wuji took his leave from the crowd of monks. To Zhou Zhiruo he said, “Let us leave!”

    Zhou Zhiruo seemed reluctant, she was afraid to leave the security of the Buddhist hall. Zhang Wuji did not feel comfortable to urge her strongly; he simply cupped his fists again and said, “In that case, we will say goodbye here.” Finished speaking, he turned around toward the hall gate.

    Watching his back, suddenly Zhou Zhiruo called out, “Wuji Gege, will you see me again? I … let me go with you.” She jumped to catch up with him, and then side-by-side they walked out the Temple gate.

    After they were far away from the Shaolin Temple, Zhou Zhiruo leaned on Zhang Wuji’s side and held on to his hand. Zhang Wuji knew she was still afraid. With her soft and smooth palm in his hand, and catching a whiff of fragrance coming from her body, it was not possible for his heart to remain unmoved.

    The two of them walked silently for quite some time. Zhou Zhiruo slowly heaved a deep sigh and said, “Wuji Gege, when you and I met for the first time at Hanshui River that day, I was saved by Zhang Zhenren. If only I knew that I would suffer so much pain in the later days, my death in Hanshui River that day would be a lot cleaner.”

    Zhang Wuji did not answer; in his heart he remembered the song the Ming Cult people, and without realizing it, he was humming softly, “What joy is in life, what pain in death? I pity the mankind, with their many sufferings!”

    Listening to the lyrics of this song, Zhou Zhiruo’s hand, which held his slightly trembled. In a low voice she said, “Zhang Zhenren brought me to Emei Pai. He had my well-being in his mind. But if he, Senior, took me under his wings on the Wudang Mountain, letting me be a disciple of Wudang, everything today would be entirely different. Ay, it is not that En Shi [benevolent master] was not good to me, but … but she forced me to make that evil oath, wanted me to abhor the Ming Cult, wanted me to hate you and harm you, while in my heart … in all honesty …”

    Zhang Wuji was rather touched to hear the sincerity in her voice; he understood she indeed have many difficulties, all sorts of vicious matters, mostly because she honored Miejue Shitai’s last words. Seeing that she was also very scared, his compassion to her grew one layer deeper.

    The night breeze blew gently on the mountain road, transmitting faint fragrance of wild flowers around them. It was early summer, the night was clear. With a beautiful girl pouring out her heart so close to him, Zhang Wuji could not stop his heart from beating faster. Moreover, when he helped her driving out the poison on that little island, they were flesh-and-skin close. She had shown him kindness in the past, and she was engaged to him once. All of these had made his heart confused and he was at a loss.

    “Wuji Gege,” Zhou Zhiruo continued, “In Haozhou that day, when you were just about to get married to me, why did as soon as Miss Zhao bid you, you immediately come with her? Do you really love her with all your heart?”

    “I was just about to tell you what happened that day,” Zhang Wuji replied, “Why don’t we stop and sit for a while?” He pointed to a big rock by the side of the road.

    “No,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “At this moment, my heart is in turmoil, I won’t be able to listen to you. Let us walk quietly for a moment longer before talking about that.”

    Zhang Wuji nodded. He followed her wander around, seemingly aimlessly. Zhou Zhiruo led him through a small path and walked for four, five ‘li’s before she finally said, “All right, you can tell me.” She walked toward a large mountain rock in front of a clump of bushes. The two of them sat side by side.

    Thereupon Zhang Wuji told her how Zhao Min had in her hand a bunch of Xie Xun’s golden hair, which leave him no choice but to walk away, and everything else that happened afterwards. Zhou Zhiruo listened from start to finish, and then for half a day she did not say anything.

    “Zhiruo, do you blame me?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    Choking, Zhou Zhiruo said, “I have done so many wrong things, I can only blame myself, why would I blame you?”

    Zhang Wuji gently stroked her shoulder and said in a tender voice, “In this world, mistakes arise out of circumstances. Things are difficult to anticipate. You must not be excessively heartbroken.”

    “Wuji Gege,” Zhou Zhiruo raised her head to look at him, “I have something I want to ask you, I want you to answer me sincerely, you must not have the slightest degree of concealment.”

    “All right,” Zhang Wuji said, “I will not conceal anything from you.”

    Zhou Zhiruo said, “I know on this world there are four women who love you with all their hearts. One has gone away to Persia, Xiao Zhao. One is Miss Zhao, the other is … she …” She was going to say ‘Miss Yin’, but she did not have the courage to utter that name out of her mouth. After pausing for a moment, she continued, “If all four of us all alive and well, and right now we are by your side, which one of us do you really love?”

    Zhang Wuji felt a burst of confusion rising in his heart. “This … mm … this …” he stuttered.

    Even since that day, when he was on the boat floating aimlessly on the ocean with Zhou Zhiruo, Zhao Min, Yin Li and Xiao Zhao, certainly more than once he had thought about this matter. “Each of these four women loves me very much, what should I do? No matter which one I marry, I will deeply hurt the other three’s hearts. But in the end, in the deepest part of my heart, which one do I really love?”

    Since it had always been difficult for him to decide, he told himself to just evade the question altogether. Sometimes he thought, “The Tatars are not driven out yet, our country [orig. ‘he shan’ – river and mountain] is not being recovered yet, the barbarians [orig. ‘xiong nu’ – a general term for nomadic people] are not destroyed yet; how can I build a family? In the end, what reason do I have for having sons and daughters?”

    Another times he thought, “I am the Jiaozhu of the Ming Cult. Anything I say, goes. I am responsible for the prosperity and decline of not only our Cult, but the Wulin world as sell. I am confident that in all my life, I had done nothing to be ashamed of. Yet, if I let myself indulged in female charms, not only I will invite the ridicule of the heroes of the world, I will also spoil our Cult’s reputation.”

    Yet another time he thought, “Just before she died, my Mama earnestly exhorted me that beautiful women are most capable of deceiving people, warned me to be extremely careful all of my life. How can I not heed Mama’s last words to me?”

    Actually, arguing every way he liked, in the end he was no more than deceiving himself. Deciding which young woman he loved most would not necessarily hinder the great undertaking of recovering his country. It would not in any way affect Ming Cult’s reputation. He only thought that this one was very nice, that one was also good, and thus he did not dare to think about them too much. His martial art skill might be strong, but his natural disposition was actually indecisive; all things considered, he preferred to let nature take its own course. When forced to make decision, he would rather sacrifice his own desire than disagree with other people’s wishes. Take the Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi, for example. He trained it because of Xiao Zhao’s encouragement. By right, he had held the authority to become the Cult Leader of the Ming Cult; yet he needed Yin Tianzheng, Yin Yewang and the others to push him before he agreed to them. His engagement with Zhou Zhiruo was because he was honoring Xie Xun’s request. He did not bow to the Heaven and the Earth with Zhou Zhiruo because Zhao Min compelled him. That day, if Jin Hua Popo and Yin Li did not use force, but persuaded him nicely to come with them to the Lingshe Island, he would most likely go with them.

    Every once in a while, though, he could not help but think, “If I can spend the rest of my life with these four women, living together harmoniously, won’t I have a happy and carefree live?” After all, it was the end of the Yuan Dynasty; whether it was a scholar, a merchant, a Jianghu warrior or an outlaw, it was not uncommon for a man to have three wives and four concubines. On the contrary it was extremely rare for a man to have only one wife. It was just that the Ming Cult originated from Persia, where the followers were encouraged to live a frugal and hard-working life, so that taking a concubine in addition to a single wife was unusual.

    Zhang Wuji was a mild-natured man. He had this idea that no matter which girl he married, it was to his greatest good fortune. Supposing he took more than one wife, he felt he would be unfair to the other. Consequently, as this thought keep flashing in and out of his head, he always tried to suppress it. Whenever he remembered it, he would immediately rebuke himself, “One must always be content with whatever one has; yet I always indulge in this kind of thought. Won’t that mean I am a despicable man? Shame on me!”

    Later on, Xiao Zhao went to Persia, Yin Li died, and supposedly, Zhao Min was the one who murdered her. Logically speaking, the only option left for him was to marry Zhou Zhiruo. However, through some unexpected mishaps, some bizarre twists and turns, the truth was gradually being revealed. Zhou Zhiruo and Zhao Min switched places as the good and the evil. He felt so fortunate for not marrying Zhou Zhiruo and thus cast his blunder in stone. In addition, the fact that Zhao Min broke her relationship with her father and brother was publicly known; therefore, he should not have any difficulty in making up his mind, should he? Against all his thoughts and expectations, Zhao Min suddenly disappeared without telling him anything; and right now Zhou Zhiruo was forcing him into a corner with her question.

    Seeing him hesitate without answering, Zhou Zhiruo said, “My question is an imaginary question. Xiao Zhao has become the Persian Ming Cult’s virgin Cult Leader, I have … have killed Miss Yin. Out of these four women, Miss Zhao is your only choice. I just want to know, supposing that all four of us are alive and well, we are all by your side, then what would you do?”

    “Zhiruo,” Zhang Wuji finally said, “This matter has been burdening my heart for too long. Obviously, it was very difficult for me to make up my mind, until today … I know now who my true love is.”

    “Who is it?” Zhou Zhiruo asked, “Is it … is it Miss Zhao?”

    “That’s right,” Zhang Wuji replied, “Today, when I looked for her and could not find her, I wish I was dead. If I henceforth cannot see her again, I do not wish to live longer. When Xiao Zhao left me, I was extremely heart-broken. When my Biaomei died, I was even more grieved. You … you came back like this, I was not only pained, but feeling deep regret as well. But, Zhiruo, I won’t lie to you, if for the rest of my life I cannot see Miss Zhao anymore, I’d rather die. This is my deepest feeling, which I have never made known to anybody else.” At first, all four women: Yin Li, Zhou Zhiruo, Xiao Zhao and Zhao Min were equal in Zhang Wuji’s eyes. But as Zhao Min walked away from him today, he suddenly realized Zhao Min’s true place in his heart; she was not on the same position as the other three women.

    As Zhou Zhiruo heard him say so, she quietly said, “That day at Dadu, I saw you go to that small wine shop to meet her, I knew exactly where your heart really was. It was just wishful thinking in my heart; if you and I get married perhaps … perhaps I can pull you back to love me. In all honesty … really … I know that is of course impossible.”

    Zhang Wuji said apologetically, “Zhiruo, toward you, I have always had respect. Toward Yin Jia Biaomei [younger female cousin of Yin family], my heart will always be grateful. Toward Xiao Zhao, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for her. But toward Miss Zhao, actually … actually I have an engraved-in-my-heart-carved-in-my-bones kind of love.”

    “Engraved-in-my-heart-carved-in-my-bones kind of love, engraved-in-my-heart-carved-in-my-bones kind of love,” Zhou Zhiruo muttered. After pausing a moment, she said in low voice, “Wuji Gege … my love to you is also engraved-in-my-heart-carved-in-my-bones kind of love. Don’t you … don’t you know it?”

    Zhang Wuji was extremely touched; grabbing her hand, he said in a tender voice, “Zhiruo, I know. What I do not know is how am I going to repay you for your great love in my lifetime. I … I really have wronged you.”

    “You have not wronged me; you have always treated me very well, do you think I do not know it?” Zhou Zhiruo said. “Let me ask you this: Supposing Miss Zhao this time left you and not came back, you would not see her again forever; supposing she was killed by a wicked man, supposing she had a change of heart toward you, then you … what would you do?”

    Zhang Wuji’s heart had been grieving for too long. As he heard her say those words, he could not bear it anymore. His dam broke and with a choking voice he said, “I … I don’t know! Whatever happens; to the heavens above or to the earth below, I must find her.”

    Zhou Zhiruo sighed and said, “She won’t have a change of heart toward you. If you really want to find her; nothing could be easier.”

    Zhang Wuji was both surprised and delighted. “Where is she?” he stood up and said, “Zhiruo, tell me, quick!”

    Zhou Zhiruo’s pair of beautiful eyes stared at Zhang Wuji intently; seeing his face was wild with joy, she said softly, “You have never shown this kind of emotion toward me. If you want to find Miss Zhao, you must agree to do something for me. Otherwise, you can forget of finding her, ever.”

    “What do you want me to do?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    “I have not thought about it yet,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “Later, when I think of it, I will let you know. I can promise you that this matter will not violate the way of chivalry; it will not hinder the great undertaking of recovering our country, and will not damage your name as well as the Ming Cult’s reputation. Only, it won’t necessarily be easy to do.”

    Zhang Wuji’s expression went blank. He thought, “Min Mei has also asked me to do three things for her; she has also said that it won’t violate the way of chivalry and so on, but so far, I have done only two things for her, and those two things were really not easy to manage. Why does Zhiruo have to copy her?”

    “Whether you want to do it or not, it is entirely up to you,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “But a real man is as good as his word. If you agree, you simply cannot shrink back at the last moment.”

    Zhang Wuji hesitantly said, “You said that this matter will not violate the way of chivalry; it will not hinder the great undertaking of recovering our country, and will not damage my name as well as the Ming Cult’s reputation?”

    “That’s right!” Zhou Zhiruo replied.

    “Very well,” Zhang Wuji said, “If it indeed will not violate the way of chivalry and will not damage the great undertaking of recovering our country, then I give you my promise now.”

    “Let’s strike our palms to seal the deal,” Zhou Zhiruo said. Extending her arm, she was ready to strike his palm.

    Zhang Wuji understood that as soon as he struck her palm, he would place himself under extremely heavy shackles. Outwardly, this Miss Zhou was gentle, soft, and polite; but her mind was shrewd, her actions cruel. She was not the least bit inferior to Zhao Min. Therefore, as he raised his palm, he did not immediately strike her palm.

    Zhou Zhiruo smiled and said, “As soon as you give me your word, I am going to tell you, and you will meet your beloved very soon.”

    Zhang Wuji’s chest boiled up. He no longer had any regard for anything else and struck Zhou Zhiruo’s palm three times.

    Zhou Zhiruo laughed and said, “Look who’s here.” She reached down to pull and open up the bushes behind her. There it was, behind the clump of leaves sat a young woman whose face appeared smiling yet she was not exactly smiling, and who was she if not Zhao Min?

    Surprised and delighted, Zhang Wuji loudly called out, “Min Mei!”

    “Ah!” suddenly, from several ‘zhang’s behind him, he heard a female voice exclaimed, as if that woman could not restrain from being shocked when she saw Zhao Min appeared in the flesh. The voice was actually very soft, but Zhang Wuji was able to hear her clearly.

    Zhang Wuji was staring blankly for a moment, loss in countless thoughts going through his mind. Slowly he reached out to pull Zhao Min up. When their palms met, he felt Zhao Min’s palm was rather stiff. Immediately he realized that when she left without telling anybody during the day, and then he looked for her everywhere without finding her, she was actually captured by Zhou Zhiruo. Her acupoint was sealed and she was hidden in here. Zhou Zhiruo then intentionally led him and said all those words in this place so that Zhao Min could hear him. If he could not bear to see Zhou Zhiruo sad and spoke thoughtless flattery to her, if his words were full of feeling to her, even acting passionately toward her, then he would fall into her scheme. If that happened, Zhao Min would have left without any question. As he thought about this, he could not help but groan secretly, “Shame on me!” while his back was wet with cold sweats.

    Checking Zhao Min’s pulse, he found out that her ‘chi’ and blood were flowing normally, so she did not sustain any injury. Under the moonlight he saw her forehead and the corner of her eyes bore a happy expression; she looked so cute and flirtatious. He believed she heard everything he had just talked with Zhou Zhiruo. Although her body could not move and her mouth could not say anything, her ears could hear very well how he revealed the contents of his heart, that unexpectedly he loved her with engraved-in-his-heart-carved-in-his-bones kind of love. Zhao Min could hear the earnestness in his voice and she was ecstatic beyond her own control.

    Zhou Zhiruo bent her waist and whispered something in Zhang Wuji’s ear. Zhang Wuji also replied in low voice. Suddenly Zhou Zhiruo shouted angrily, “Zhang Wuji, you really have no regard of me! Look carefully, after Miss Zhao is poisoned, do you think she can live?”

    Zhang Wuji was shocked. “She … she is poisoned?” he asked, “Did you poison her?” Stooping down to examine Zhao Min, he had just opened Zhao Min’s left eye when he felt his back go numb as the acupoint on his back was sealed.

    “Aiyo!” Zhang Wuji cried out. His body swayed.

    Zhou Zhiruo’s movements were as swift as the wind. With her delicate fingers full of strength, she quickly sealed five major acupoints on his left shoulder, the side of his lower back, and the center of his back. Zhang Wuji fell backwards. He saw a dark green flash as Zhou Zhiruo drew out her sword and pointed it toward his chest.

    “You cannot run, you cannot hide,” she shouted sternly, “I am going to take your life today. Yin Li’s ghost is entangling me anyway. I will eventually get killed. I’d rather die together with you.” While saying that, she raised her sword high, ready to stab it down into Zhang Wuji’s chest.

    Suddenly a female voice shouted from behind her, “Hold on! Zhou Zhiruo, Yin Li has not died yet!”

    Turning her head around, Zhou Zhiruo saw a woman dressed in black dash from among the thick underbrush, with fingers extended to pierce her. Zhou Zhiruo leaned sideways to evade. The woman turned around. The moon shone its light on the side of her pretty face, albeit full of faint scars.

    Zhang Wuji saw her clearly; she was none other than his cousin Yin Li, only the bumps on her face had faded. Although her face was crisscrossed with scars, the scars could not cover her beauty. She vaguely looked like the delicate and pretty young girl standing by Jin Hua Popo he met in the Butterfly Valley many years ago.

    Zhou Zhiruo withdrew two steps backward, her left palm in front of her chest, the sword in her right hand was still pointing toward Zhang Wuji’s chest. “You move one step forward, my sword will kill him first,” she barked.

    Yin Li did not dare to move, she anxiously said, “You … have you not done enough wickedness already?”

    “Are you a ghost or a human?” Zhou Zhiruo asked.

    “Naturally I am a human,” Yin Li replied.

    “Zhu’er!” suddenly Zhang Wuji cried out, sprang up and embraced Yin Li. “Zhu’er …” he called out again, “You … I miss you so much that it hurts!”

    Yin Li shrieked as she was taken by surprise; she was unable to move because Zhang Wuji’s arms were wound around her.

    Zhou Zhiruo giggled and said, “If we did not do this, you won’t want to come out.” Turning around, she unsealed Zhao Min’s acupoints and massaged her veins and muscles.

    Zhao Min had been under Zhou Zhiruo’s control for most of the day and was left alone after being thrown in here; she was seething with anger. Luckily, afterward she heard Zhang Wuji pouring out his heart, which turned her anger into joy. However, Yin Li’s sudden appearance had increased the countless loads she already bore in her mind. The old hatred had just gone away, new anxiety arose.

    Yin Li angrily said, “What are you flattering and sweet talking to me for? Both Miss Zhao and Miss Zhou are here, watch your manners.”

    “Humph,” Zhao Min sneered, “So he only needs to watch his manners when Miss Zhou and I are here?”

    Zhang Wuji said, “I was overjoyed beyond words when I saw you arise from the dead. Biaomei, you … how are you?”

    Yin Li pulled his hand and held his face toward the moon. After staring at him for half a day, suddenly she reached out to grab his left ear and twisted it with all her might.

    “Aiyo!” Zhang Wuji cried out in pain, “Why did you do that?”

    “You are one ugly freak deserving to be cut in thousand pieces!” Yin Li said, “You … you buried me alive under the ground, you made me suffer countless pain.” While saying that, she punched his chest three times, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’

    Zhang Wuji did not dare to protect himself with the Jiu Yang Shen Gong. He endured her three punches with a smile, saying, “Zhu’er, I really thought you were … you were dead. I cried myself to exhaustion several times. You are not dead. That is wonderful. Laotianye [Heaven, God] truly has eyes.”

    “Laotianye has eyes alright, but you, this ugly freak, do not have eyes,” Yin Li angrily retorted, “You did not even know whether someone died or was still alive. I just can’t believe it. You hated my swollen ugly face; you simply buried me without waiting for my breathing to stop. You don’t have any conscience. You are a heartless and short-lived little rascal!”

    As she constantly spitting up curses, her expression, voice and attitude were just like the Yin Li he knew. Zhang Wuji chuckled. Scratching his head, he said, “Your scolding is right on target. You are totally right. I was such a muddle-head; I saw your face was full of blood and you were not breathing, you heart was not beating. I thought you were beyond help …”

    Yin Li leaped forward to twist his right ear. Zhang Wuji chuckled and moved aside to evade. He bowed and cupped his fists. “Good Zhu’er, please forgive me!”

    “I won’t forgive you!” Yin Li said, “That day I woke up somehow, and felt cold all around me. Turned out I was surrounded by stones. If you wanted to bury me alive, why did you put twigs and stones on me? Why didn’t you pile up dirt on me so that I could not breathe and died for real?”

    “Thank the Heaven and thank the Earth that I only piled up twigs and stones on your body,” Zhang Wuji said. He could not restrain from casting a sidelong glance toward Zhou Zhiruo.

    Yin Li was angry. “This woman is completely wicked; I forbid you to look at her,” she said.

    “Why?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    “She is the murderer who killed me,” Yin Li replied, “Why do you still care about her?”

    “But you are not dead,” Zhao Min interrupted, “How can she be your murderer?”

    “I have died once,” Yin Li said, “That makes her the murderer!”

    “Good Zhu’er,” Zhang Wuji tried to persuade her, “You have escaped danger and returned to live. We are all very happy. Why don’t you sit nicely over here and tell us how did you cheat death and escaped alive?”

    Yin Li said, “What do you mean ‘we’? Let me ask you this: when you said ‘we’, who is ‘we’?”

    Zhang Wuji said with a laugh, “There are only four people in here. Naturally ‘we’ refers to Miss Zhou, Miss Zhao and me.”

    “Humph!” with a cold laugh Yin Li said, “I am not dead. Granted that you might be somewhat happy, but what about Miss Zhou and Miss Zhao? Are they also happy?”

    “Miss Yin,” Zhou Zhiruo said, “I was so evil in those days; I have harmed you. But later, not only I deeply regretted my actions but also I have never had peace in my sleep. Otherwise, when I suddenly saw you in the woods, I would not be frightened like this. Now that I see you alive and well, my burden has been lifted off. The Heaven above is my witness that my joy is unbounded.”

    Yin Li leaned her head sideways and thought for a moment. She nodded and said, “That makes sense. Actually, I was going to settle the score with you, but since you have apologized, I’ll let it go.”

    Zhou Zhiruo kneeled down and sobbed, “I … I truly have committed the gravest offense toward you.”

    Yin Li had always been hot-tempered; but seeing Zhou Zhiruo sincerely admit her guilt, her heart melted. She quickly helped her up and said, “Zhou Jiejie, let bygone be bygone, let us forget it. After all, I am not dead.” Holding Zhou Zhiruo’s hand, she took her to sit on her side.

    Brushing her stray hair aside, Yin Li said, “You crisscrossed my face with the swords, it was also not entirely without any benefit. My face was originally bumpy, after the sword cut, the poisonous blood was drained away, the bumps slowly subsided.”

    Zhou Zhiruo was overwhelmed with regret; she did not know what to say.

    Zhang Wuji said, “Afterwards, Yifu, Zhiruo and I lived on that island for a long time. Zhu’er, after you came out of the grave, why didn’t you see us?”

    “I was not willing to see you,” Yin Li angrily said, “You and Miss Zhou kept whispering sweet nothings to one another; how can I not be angry listening to those crap? Humph! ‘Hereafter my love to you will be doubled or tripled! We are husband and wife, two people one body; how can I mistreat you?’” In the last several sentences, she was mimicking Zhang Wuji’s manner of speech. And then, she continued with Zhou Zhiruo’s voice, “’What if I wrong you or offend you, will you hit me, scold me, kill me? Since I was little, I had never had a father and a mother to instruct me. It would be difficult not to mess up sometimes’.” She coughed once and changed her voice to a throaty male voice, “’Zhiruo, you are my beloved wife. Even if you make any mistake, I won’t blame you or scold you.’” Pointing her finger toward the moon on the western horizon, she said, “’The moon in the sky is our witness.’”

    Turned out when Zhang Wuji and Zhou Zhiruo were pouring their hearts to each other that night, Yin Li had heard everything. As she now repeated their words one by one, Zhou Zhiruo’s entire face reddened, while Zhang Wuji looked bashful and restless. He stole a glance toward Zhao Min and saw that her face was deathly pale; thus he reached out to hold her hand. To his surprise, Zhao Min turned her palm around and pricked his arm with her two long fingernails. Zhang Wuji winced from the pain, but did not dare to make any noise; he did not even dare to move.

    Yin Li reached into her bosom and took out a wooden strip. She shoved it in front of Zhang Wuji’s face. “Look clearly. What is this?” she asked.

    Zhang Wuji looked closer and saw a line of characters engraved on the wooden strip; it read ‘The Tomb of my Beloved Wife, Zhu’Er Yin Li. Zhang Wuji Sincerely Stated’. It was exactly the grave marker he erected in front of Yin Li’s grave.

    Yin Li bitterly said, “As I crawled out of the grave, I saw this wooden strip, and I was confused. What is this? Where is that heartless and short-lived little rascal Zhang Wuji? I thought about it a hundred times without figuring out what happened, until later on I eavesdropped the two of you calling ‘Wuji Gege this’ and ‘Wuji Gege’ that. It suddenly dawned on me that Zhang Wuji is Zeng Aniu, and Zheng Aniu is Zhang Wuji. You, the heartless scoundrel, you have deceived me really bad!” She raised the wooden strip and smashed it with all her might onto Zhang Wuji’s head. ‘Bang!’ the wooden strip broke, wooden shards flew out in all directions.

    Zhao Min was angry. “Why do you keep hitting people?” she said.

    Yin Li laughed aloud and said, “I love to hit him, what does it have to do with you? Your heart hurts, doesn’t it?”

    Zhao Min blushed and said, “He is yielding to you. You do not know good from bad.”

    Yin Li laughed. “Why did you say I do not know good from bad?” she asked, “Don’t you worry, I will not fight with you over this freak. I have given my heart to only one person, one who bit the back of my hand in the Butterfly Valley, Zhang Wuji. About this freak, I don’t care if he is called Zeng Aniu or Zhang Wuji, I don’t like him the least bit.”

    Turning toward Zhang Wuji, she said in a gentle voice, “Aniu Gege, you have always treated me very well, I am very grateful to you. But since a long time ago, I have given my heart to that heartless, ferocious little Zhang Wuji. You are not him, no, you are not him …”

    Zhang Wuji was confounded. “I am definitely Zhang Wuji,” he said, “Why … what …”

    Yin Li looked at him with a tender expression for a long, long time. Her eyes changed irregularly. Finally, she shook her head and said, “Aniu Gege, you don’t understand. In the western region desert, you and I have gone through live and death situation together. On that small island, you were extremely good to me. You are a good man. But I have already told you, I have given my heart to that Zhang Wuji for a long time. I am going to find him. Tell me, do you think if I find him, he would still beat me, scold me or bite me?”

    Without waiting for Zhang Wuji to answer, she turned around and slowly walked away.

    Suddenly Zhang Wuji understood. Turned out the one she truly loved was the Zhang Wuji who lived in her memory, the Zhang Wuji she met in the Butterfly Valley, the one who beat her and bite her, the obstinate Zhang Wuji who refused to follow her; not the real Zhang Wuji, the grown up Zhang Wuji who was extremely tolerant and always treated people with kindness. One third part of his heart was wounded, one third of it was reluctant to let her go, yet the other third part was relieved. He followed her with his gaze until her shadow disappeared into the darkness. He knew that for the rest of her life, Yin Li would always remember the very strong teenage boy of the Butterfly Valley, and that she would always want to find him. He realized that she would never find the one she was looking for, but then again, he could say that she had already found him, because that boy had always lived in her heart. Isn’t it true that oftentimes, the real person, the actual matter, is not as good as the one inside one’s memory?

    Zhou Zhiruo sighed and said, “It’s all my fault. I harmed her so bad that she turns crazy.”

    Yet Zhang Wuji thought, “She might be a little confused, and that was because of me. But compared to a clear-minded person, she is not necessarily less happy.”

    Zhao Min, however, had another matter in her mind. Yin Li had gone, but what about Zhou Zhiruo? Yin Li had not died, Xie Xun had been found, safe and well, the martial art manual concealed inside the Yitian Sword, as well as the military strategy manual inside the Tulong Saber, along with the Saber itself, had been recovered and returned to Zhang Wuji. In short, it appeared that Zhou Zhiruo’s offenses and mistakes had not turned to the worst. While it was true that Song Qingshu had killed Mo Shenggu because of her, but it was Song Qingshu’s own crime; Zhou Zhiruo actually did not have any foreknowledge of the matter, also, she certainly did not instigate the incident. Zhang Wuji had had an engagement with her before, and he was not the kind of man who would abandon trust and uprightness.

    Zhou Zhiruo stood up. “Let’s go!” she said.

    “Where?” Zhao Min asked.

    Zhou Zhiruo replied, “When I was at the Shaolin Temple just now, I saw monk Peng Yingyu came in a hurry to look for him,” she gestured toward Zhang Wuji. “Apparently, there is some important matter within the Ming Cult.”

    Zhang Wuji’s heart turned cold. “I must not neglect important Cult business for the sake of my feelings toward women,” he mused, and then hastily said, “Let us quickly find out what happened.”

    They set off at once, and after walking quickly for a short while, they arrived at the Ming Cult’s encampments. Yang Xiao, Fan Yao, Peng Yingyu, and the others were just about to dispatch their subordinates to look for their Cult Leader. Everybody expressed their delight and relief to see him come back, but when they saw Zhou and Zhao, two women returning with him, their faces all showed surprised looks.

    Zhang Wuji noticed that everybody looked dejected, immediately he knew something was amiss. “Peng Dashi,” he asked, “Were you looking for me?”

    Before Peng Yingyu even answered, Zhou Zhiruo dragged Zhao Min away by the hand while saying, “Let us go and sit over there.”

    Zhao Min understood Zhou Zhiruo was trying to avoid any suspicion; she was not willing to listen to the Ming Cult discussing their internal affairs. Thereupon Zhao Min accompanied her going out the room. Yang Xiao, Fan Yao and the others were even more amazed. They all thought, “In Jiaozhu’s wedding day in Haozhou that day, these two young ladies fought ferociously one against the other; but now they look as close as sisters. I wonder how Jiaozhu reconciled them. He is indeed able to achieve the impossible. The ‘Qian Kun Da Nuo Yi’ skill truly deserves other people’s admiration.”

    Peng Yingyu waited until Zhou and Zhao, two women left before saying, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: We suffered a major defeat in Haozhou; Han Shantong, Han Xiong has fallen.”

    “Aiyo!” Zhang Wuji cried. He was deeply grieved.

    Peng Yingyu continued, “Presently, the military affair around the Huai Si River is under Zhu Yuanzhang Xiongdi’s control. As soon as Xu Da and Chang Yuchun, two brothers learned about the news, they deployed their troops to render their assistance. Han Lin’er Xiongdi is also coming with them. The situation is urgent; we did not wait for Jiaozhu’s order.”

    “That’s how it should be done,” Zhang Wuji replied.

    While they were in the middle of discussing military situation, Yin Yewang rushed in and said, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: The Beggar Clan is sending their people to inform us that Chen Youliang, that traitor’s whereabouts has been discovered.”

    “Where is he?” Zhang Wuji asked.

    Yin Yewang said, “Unexpectedly, that traitor mingles in the midst of our Cult as a subordinate of Xu Shouhui Xiongdi. I heard he has won Xu Shouhui Xiongdi’s favor and trust.”

    Zhang Wuji pondered for a moment and said, “If that’s the case, it is inappropriate for us to act rashly. Jiujiu [maternal uncle], I must bother you to send someone to warn Xu Xiong: this traitor Chen Youliang is extremely treacherous and crafty. By letting him staying by his side, Xu Xiong is just waiting for a great disaster to happen; he must by all means not let Chen Youliang stay close to him.”

    Yin Yewang complied, but then he continued, “It would be better to eliminate him completely with a blade. Please assign me to handle him!”

    Zhang Wuji was still contemplating the proposal when a Ming Cult disciple came in to deliver an urgent letter from Xu Shouhui.

    Yang Xiao knitted his brows and exclaimed, “Terrible! It’s terrible! He has beaten us by taking the initiative.”

    Zhang Wuji unsealed the letter and read. Turned out it was a long report Xu Shouhui submitted to his superior. In it he explained how Chen Youliang admitted his offense to the Cult Leader, how he understood that he had committed a serious crime, how he deeply regretted his sins and wanted to repent. Right now he sincerely wanted to join the Ming Cult and was determined to completely turn from his wicked ways. He was asking the Cult Leader to give him an opportunity to tread the new way.

    Zhang Wuji handed the letter over to Yang Xiao, Yin Yewang and the others so that they could read it themselves. Yin Yewang said, “Xu Xiongdi has fallen under this man’s spell; he will certainly suffer misfortune in the future.”

    Yang Xiao sighed and said, “This traitor Chen Youliang is extremely wicked, but if we kill him at this moment, the public is bound to find out. It would appear that we are only settling a long-standing grudge without giving any consideration to other people’s qualities. We will inevitably turn the hearts of the world’s heroes cold.”

    “What Yang Zuo Shi said is correct,” Zhang Wuji said, “Peng Dashi, you are a good friend of Xu Xiong. Why don’t you advise him to be careful and rise up his guard against Chen Youliang? He must not let the authority over the troops to fall into his hand.” Peng Yingyu gave him his consent.

    Unfortunately, Xu Shouhui dismissed Peng Yingyu’s advice. Chen Youliang had won his full confidence and in the end he lost his life under Chen Youliang’s hands. Afterwards, Chen Youliang seized control of Ming Cult’s western rebel army. He declared himself ‘Han Wang’ [King of Han], and fought for control over the land under the heavens [i.e. China] against the eastern Ming Cult rebel army. They fought great battles as far as Lake Poyang, until finally his troops were defeated and he lost his life in battle. During the dozens of year’s fierce civil war, the heroes and warriors of the Ming Cult suffered very heavy casualties.

    That very evening, Zhang Wuji had a discussion with Yang Xiao, Peng Yingyu and the others. They agreed to dispatch Ming Cult disciples to various army units to coordinate their movements. By the time they finished their meeting, it was already very late at night.

    Early next morning, Zhao Min said, “Zhou Jiejie left last night. She said she did not wait to take her leave from you.”

    Zhang Wuji was depressed for half a day. Then he remembered that the number of days he had been separated from Zhang Sanfeng was simply too great and he missed him. Therefore, taking Zhao Min and Song Qingshu along, he decided to come to Mount Wudang with Yu Lianzhou and the others.

    The distance between Shaoshi Peak and Mount Wudang was not too far; in just a few days they have reached the mountain. Zhang Wuji accompanied Yu Lianzhou, Zhang Songxi and Yin Liting as they entered the inside hall to pay their respects to Zhang Sanfeng, also to see Song Yuanqiao and Yu Daiyan.

    When Song Yuanqiao learned that his son was outside, his face paled; with a sword in his hand, he stormed outside. Zhang Wuji and the others were in quandary; they felt they must persuade him, yet they realized it was not their place to interfere. Left with no other choice, they went to the main hall in his wake. Zhang Sanfeng also followed them out.

    “Where is that disobedient, rebelling animal?” Song Yuanqiao roared. His glance caught Song Qingshu, who was still lying down on the stretcher. Song Qingshu’s head was covered in plain wrap cloth, even his eyes were covered. The sword in Song Yuanqiao’s hand was aimed straight at Song Qingshu’s body, but Song Yuanqiao’s hand went weak and the sword did not continue piercing down. In that instant, he remembered the love between a father and his son, the loyalty among disciples of the same school; all sorts of feeling welled up in his heart. Turning the sword around, he stabbed it into his own lower abdomen.

    Zhang Wuji hastily reached out to snatch the sword away, while urging, “Da Shibo [first martial (older) uncle], you must not do this. Let us leave it to Tai Shifu [grandmaster] to handle this matter properly.”

    Zhang Sanfeng sighed and said, “That our Wudang School has produced this kind of unfilial disciple, Yuanqiao, it is not the misfortune of you, one man, alone. It is better for us all not to have this kind of unfilial son!” His right hand waved and ‘Bang!’ it landed on Song Qingshu’s chest. Song Qingshu’s internal organs shattered and he stopped breathing instantly.

    Song Yuanqiao kneeled down and sobbed, “Shifu, disciple was negligent in teaching disciple, resulting in Qi Di’s [seventh (younger) brother] life lost in that animal’s hands. How can disciple be worthy of you, Senior, and Qi Di?”

    Zhang Sanfeng reached down to help him up, saying, “You do have some part in this transgression. Lianzhou will take over the Zhang Men disciple position from you starting today. You may devote your attention to study and refine the Taiji Fist technique. The day-to-day affair of Zhang Men, you do not need to manage anymore.”

    Song Yuanqiao bowed to thank him and receive the order. Yu Lianzhou tried to decline, but Zhang Sanfeng firmly refused to dismiss him, thereupon he had to accept the order.

    Witnessing how Zhang Sanfeng executed Song Qingshu, removed Song Yuanqiao from his position, and thus managing his school with a firm hand, there was not anyone present who did not shiver with astonishment.

    Zhang Sanfeng asked about the Great Assembly of Heroes and the rebel army’s fight against the Yuan, he was very warm toward Zhang Wuji. Zhao Min kneeled and kowtowed in front of Zhang Sanfeng, asking forgiveness of her previous rudeness and offenses. Zhang Sanfeng laughed and said that he had never kept it in his heart. While it was true that Yu Daiyan’s lifelong disability, Zhang Cuishan’s lost of life, were related to her subordinate, Ah Da, Ah Er, and the others, Zhao Min had not even been born yet at that time, so when all is said and done, he could not put the blame on her.

    When Zhang Sanfeng heard that she willingly forsook her father and brother to follow Zhang Wuji, he said, “Very good! Very good! A woman like you is hard to come by!”

    After several days of good visit with Zhang Sanfeng and the others at the Wudang Mountain, Zhang Wuji proceeded toward Haozhou accompanied by Zhao Min. Along the way he repeatedly heard reports of their Cult’s victories. He also heard that the rebel army had swarmed various places; Zhang Shicheng at Gusu and Fang Guozhen at Taizhou, for instance. Although they were not affiliated with the Ming Cult, they were friendly forces who fought the Yuan together. Zhang Wuji’s heart was overjoyed; he continued riding with Zhao Min toward the east, envisioning that the days until country’s [orig. ‘he shan’] recovery were close. He only hoped that henceforth peace and security would reign over the world, the common people would enjoy a good and prosperous life. If that happened, then the hovering between live and dead, the undergoing of many sufferings in the past several years would not be in vain.

    Zhang Wuji was not willing to create too much disturbance, so along the way he avoided meeting the Ming Cult rebel army’s officers and generals. He simply observed them in secret and was pleased to find the rebel army’s troops were following strict discipline; they did not harass the common people and everywhere he heard praises to Marshal Zhu Yuanzhang and Senior General Xu Da.

    One day he arrived at the outskirts of Haozhou. Zhu Yuanzhang had heard about his arrival and sent Tang He and Deng Yu, two generals to lead troops waiting to welcome him and take him to the guesthouse. Tang He reported, “Marshal Zhu, along with Senior General Xu Da and General Chang are in the middle of urgent military intelligence meeting. They cannot contain their delight as they learned about Jiaozhu’s arrival; only they are being bound by military affairs and are not able to welcome Jiaozhu personally. For this disrespectful offense, they are asking Jiaozhu’s forgiveness.”

    Zhang Wuji laughed and said, “We are all brothers, why bother with all these empty talks about welcoming and sending off? Military intelligence matter is more important.”

    That evening, a large banquet was prepared in the guesthouse. Tang He and Deng Yu, two generals acted as hosts. After three rounds of wine, Zhu Yuanzhang, accompanied by his senior generals, hurriedly rushed in and bowed to the ground in front of the banquet table. Zhang Wuji hastily helped him up. Zhu Yuanzhang personally poured some wine and respectfully presented three cups of wine to Zhang Wuji. Zhang Wuji took the cups and dried them up in one gulp. Zhu Yuanzhang also presented some wine to honor Zhao Min, and Zhao Min drank it.

    During the banquet, they talked about the military situation in various fronts. When talking about their achievements in besieging towns and seizing territories, Zhu Yuanzhang looked rather proud of himself. Zhang Wuji heaped him with praises.

    While they were still taking, suddenly the Senior General Liao Yongzhong entered the reception hall in big strides. After paying his respects to their Cult Leader, he whispered in Zhu Yuanzhang’s ear, “He is captured!”

    “Very good!” Zhu Yuanzhang replied.

    Suddenly, from outside the door someone was shouting loudly, “Injustice! Injustice!”

    Zhang Wuji recognized the voice crying ‘injustice’ was Han Lin’er’s. “Is that Han Xiongdi?” he was astonished, “What happened?”

    Zhu Yuanzhang said, “Reporting to Jiaozhu: This traitor Han Lin’er is conspiring with the Tatars, he is scheming to topple our Cult by responding from the inside to their attack from outside.”

    Zhang Wuji was even more shocked, “Han Xiongdi is a very loyal and upright person, how can this happen? Take him in quickly, let me ask him personally …” His words were not finished when he suddenly felt dizzy; the sky became fuzzy and the earth blackened as he lost consciousness.

    When he came around, he felt his limbs were bound with rough and heavy ropes. Looking around him, all he could see was darkness. His shock was not exactly ‘mild’. Fortunately, he felt a soft body leaning against his chest. Turned out Zhao Min and he were bound together, only Zhao Min had not regained consciousness yet.

    Upon thinking it over, Zhang Wuji realized that Zhu Yuanzhang was behind all this. Most likely he expected the Ming Cult to be successful in the future; then logically and rightfully, Zhang Wuji should become the new emperor. Therefore, he put an extremely strong drug in Zhang Wuji’s wine with the intention of killing him secretly later.

    Zhang Wuji circulated his ‘chi’ around once, and did not find anything unusual in his chest and abdomen; his strength was still intact. He sneered inwardly and thought, “So they think they can bind me with this rope? I don’t think it’s that easy. Right now Min Mei has not awakened yet; there’s no hurry in leaving. As soon as it is dawn, I am going to expose his traitorous scheme in front of our Cult’s people.” Thereupon he rested quietly to regain his strength.

    About two hours later, he suddenly heard some people enter the room next door. As he listened to them talking, he recognized the voices of Zhu Yuanzhang, Xu Da and Chang Yuchun, three people.

    He heard that Zhu Yuanzhang was saying, “This man betrays our Cult, surrenders to the Yuan Dynasty. The evidence is conclusive; there is no doubt about it. It pained me just to think about it. Brothers, what do you think we must do?” Without waiting for Xu Da and Chang Yuchun to answer, he continued, “This man’s ears and eyes are numerous; he has trusted comrades everywhere in the army. We’d better not to mention his name.”

    Xu Da was heard replying, “Zhu Dage [big brother Zhu], to succeed in an important matter, we must not concern ourselves with trivial matters; we must cut the grass and pull the roots, do not leave any potential problem in the future.”

    “But this little thief has always been our superior,” Zhu Yuanzhang said, “We must not forget kindness and violate justice. This is our basic principle.”

    Chang Yuchun said, “If Dage is afraid that by killing him the army would revolt, there is no harm in us making our move quietly, so that Dage’s reputation will not be implicated.”

    Zhu Yuanzhang was quiet for a moment before saying, “Since Xu and Chang, two brothers have already said so, we will deal with him as such, then. Only, this little thief has sown quite some kindness to the people of our Cult, also, two brothers were usually on good terms with him; we must keep this matter from leaking out. Ay, the thought of killing him today is truly unbearable for me.”

    Xu and Chang both said, “We cannot give friends and personal relations more consideration than the great undertaking of recovering the nation.” As the three men finished talking, they went out the room.

    Zhang Wuji sucked a mouthful of cold air. Immediately he exerted his ‘shen gong’ [divine power/strength] to break the rope binding his body. Carrying Zhao Min in his arms, he quietly climbed over the wall and went out.

    Leaning against the wall, he could not stop all sorts of feelings from bubbling up in his heart. “That traitor Zhu Yuanzhang forgets kindness and violates justice, I am fine with it. But Xu Dage and Chang Dage have special friendship with me, yet for the sake of riches and honor they are unexpectedly able to betray me. The three of them bear heavy responsibility within the rebel army. If I strike them dead with my palm, I am afraid the army’s unity would disintegrate. I, Zhang Wuji, have never coveted name or position. Xu Dage, Chang Dage, you are looking down on me too much.” After thinking deeply for half a day, he quietly took Zhao Min to leave the area.

    When he was safe outside the city, he wrote a letter, appointing Yang Xiao as the new Cult Leader, but he did not write even a single character about what had happened in Haozhou.

    It never occurred to Zhang Wuji that when Xu Da and Chang Yuchun talked about ‘the little thief’, they were actually referring to Han Lin’er. They did not even know that Zhang Wuji was in Haozhou. Everything was secretly arranged by Zhu Yuanzhang. He wanted to make Zhang Wuji downhearted so that Zhang Wuji would retire voluntarily. First, Zhu Yuanzhang was dreadful of Zhang Wuji’s divine bravery. Second, Zhang Wuji was their Cult’s Jiaozhu who was highly esteemed by everybody in their Cult. Let’s say he wanted to kill him; not only Zhu Yuanzhang did not have the courage to do so, even if he did succeed in killing him, but if there was the slightest chance of his plot being exposed, the consequences would be too detrimental for him.

    Zhu Yuanzhang understood very well that Zhang Wuji placed the important matter of recovering the country above all else, moreover, he loved Xu Da and Chang Yuchun like brothers. As soon as Zhang Wuji heard their discussion, he would quietly go away.

    As expected, everything happened according to Zhu Yuanzhang’s anticipation. Although Zhang Wuji’s martial art skill was unequalled in the present age, in term of scheming and resourcefulness, he was too far below Zhu Yuanzhang. In the end, he had fallen into the treacherous scheme of the most ambitious and ruthless character of their generation.

    Although Zhang Wuji had never wanted to be an emperor, he would feel saddened for the rest of his life whenever Xu Da and Chang Yuchun, which he thought were without kindness and loyalty, came into his mind.

    As for the accusation that Han Lin’er was colluding with the Tatars and betraying his country, it was actually Zhu Yuanzhang who planted false evidence against him. It was because after Han Shantong’s death, the army appointed Han Lin’er as their commander; consequently, Zhu, Xu, Chang, and the other generals became his subordinates.

    Zhu Yuanzhang forged a letter from Han Lin’er to the enemy as if it was Han Lin’er’s own hadwriting; with a large sum of money, he also bribed Han Lin’er’s trusted aide to leak the secret to Xu Da and Chang Yuchun. Xu and Chang, two men, believed without any reservation. As a result, they insisted on Han Lin’er’s elimination. Zhu Yuanzhang pretended to uphold righteousness and benevolence by refusing to allow the execution. It was not until Xu Da and Chang Yuchun urged him repeatedly that he reluctantly agreed.

    He held Zhang Wuji and Zhao Min in the adjacent room, knowing that with his martial art skill, for Zhang Wuji to break the rope binding his body was as easy as lifting his finger. He was only afraid that as soon as Zhang Wuji was free, he would find him to exact revenge. Therefore, as soon as he finished talking with Xu and Chang, two men, he immediately went into hiding.

    Soon after Zhang Wuji left, he ordered Liao Yongzhong to throw Han Lin’er into the river and let him sank into the bottom. This way, he killed two birds with one stone. His plan was truly flawless.

    Later, Yang Xiao became the Cult Leader of the Ming Cult; but by this time Zhu Yuanzhang had grown wings, the troops under his command numbered in millions. Yang Xiao was aging and less ambitious than before, he lost any desire to fight over the throne with him.

    After Zhu Yuanzhang ascended the throne, he opposed the Ming Cut by issuing an order to strictly prohibit its movement and massacred the brethrens who had once rendered great merit to him. Chang Yuchun died early because of sickness. Xu Da eventually was not able to escape disaster.

    When Zhang Wuji finished writing the letter to Yang Xiao, Zhao Min saw he did not immediately put down the writing brush in his hand; he had quite an unhappy expression on his face. Zhao Min interrupted his thoughts by saying, “Wuji Gege, once you agreed to do three things for me. The first thing was to let me look at the Tulong Saber; the second thing was not to marry Zhou Jiejie back at Haozhou, so the first two matters are already accomplished. I still have the third request to you, you must not fail to keep your own word.”

    Zhang Wuji was startled. “You … you …” he stammered, “What kind of strange demonic witchcraft do you want me to do this time …?”

    Zhao Min smiled sweetly and said, “My eyebrows are too thin. I want you to thicken it with your brush. This matter certainly does not violate the Wulin’s way of chivalry, does it?”

    Zhang Wuji raised his brush up; he laughed and said, “From now on I am going to draw your eyebrows every day.”

    Suddenly from outside the window came a soft giggle and someone said, “Wuji Gege, you also promised to do something for me.” It was Zhou Zhiruo’s voice.

    Zhang Wuji was so engrossed in writing the letter that he did not know when she arrived outside the window. The shutters slowly opened and Zhou Zhiruo’s beautiful face appeared. Under the candlelight, she looked smiling, yet she was not exactly smiling.

    Zhang Wuji was startled again. “You … what do you want me to do?” he asked.

    Zhou Zhiruo smiled and said, “I haven’t thought about it now, but when you and Zhao Jia Meizi [little sister of Zhao family] are ready to bow to the Heaven and the Earth to get married, I am sure I will think of something by then.”

    Zhang Wuji turned to look at Zhao Min, and then he turned again to look at Zhou Zhiruo. In that instant, a myriad of thoughts raced around in his mind. He was unsure if he should be happy or if he should be worried. His hand trembled and the brush fell on the table ...

    The End
    Last edited by Han Solo; 08-30-09 at 03:02 PM.

  3. #43
    Senior Member Han Solo's Avatar
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    Sep 2002


    Finally updated the HSDS unabridged thread.

    Took me some hours to do it too. ^^

    Thanks to all the translators and a reminder that this thread is not for discussions etc.

    Han Solo

    Quote Originally Posted by bliss
    I think they're probably at the same level as or one level below Ah Qing, which is about the level of a 2nd or 3rd generation Quan Zhen disciple.
    Troll Control

  4. #44
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    Thanks, Han. I see that the links to various translations have been update as well. Now I can find anything I want easier.

    Just a quick note, you might remember the last part of Chapter 10 was put into summary by Faerie Queene. dgfds01 has completed that part a couple of weeks ago, but I was just too busy to update. I have now updated HSDS Book 1 at the link below.

  5. #45
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    Jun 2011


    thank you for the great translation

  6. #46
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    Oct 2014


    Thanks for the translation. I have watched some of tv drama of HSDS, but they have much differences with the novel. Indeed the novel is more lengthier that it can't fit all of scene into the tv drama.

    I want to report that the chapter 30 has [ SIZE] tag everywhere, is it mistyped? Also the external link for some chapters like chapter 11 are invalid, but the fix is easy, you just need to add ".html" at the end of the url.

    I also would like to ask, is there revised edition of HSDS? If so, anyone can tell what are the addition or changes in the revised edition?

  7. #47
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    Execuse me benefactor translator
    the chapter 11 to 13 can not be acces because the wuxiapedia site has change
    so i beg your kindness to post the missing chapter from wuxiapedia site here
    thankyou very much

  8. #48
    Senior Member 徐中銳's Avatar
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    New Zealand


    Quote Originally Posted by charlizejackson View Post
    1) Reverend Wuse speaks on behalf of Zhang Junbao at Shaolin, saying that he was reponsible for giving away those iron Arhats to Guo Xiang. He added that if anyone should be blamed it should be him and not Zhang Junbao. However, the old monk of the Spiritual Zen Hall was adamant in saying that Zhang Junbao learnt Shaolin martial arts without permission and should still be punished. Abbot Tianming suggested that Wuse, Jueyuan and Zhang Junbao should go to the Dharma Hall and all of them would discuss how to punish all 3 of them. Jueyuan feared for the worst and took Guo Xiang and Zhang Junbao and ran away.

    2) Yin Susu and other higher ranked people in Tianying Sect knew who Xie Xun was. They knew he was a guardian lord of the Ming cult.

    3) Xie Xun's son was 3 years old when he was killed by Yuanzhen (Cheng Kun), in the earlier editions Xie Wuji was 1 years old and lead to some time discontinuity. (To be honest, I am not sure what that discontinuity was in the earlier editions, I did not notice that error in the past).

    4) The supposed battle between Shaolin and Wudang has changed somewhat. The original plan was that 6 Shaolin monks v.s. 6 Wudang disciples. Wudang would use their famous sphere formation. However, Yu Lianzhou was still weakend by that exchange of palms with He Biweng and Zhang Cuishan was too distraught at that time. Reason, Yuanye was scolding Zhang Cuishan for killing Dou Dajin's family and for blinding one of his eyes and the left eyes of Yuanyin and Yuanxin. Yuanye kept his anger in control while his teacher (Kongzhi) and his martial arts uncles (abbot Kongwen and reverend Kongxing) were speaking. But when the battle was to start he could not help himself from venting his anger and scolding Zhang Cuishan for being an utter disgrace to Zhang Sanfeng and Wudang. He said that a real man would at least admit the crimes he did, Zhang Cuishan felt that he really did disgrace his school. He could not tell them the actually culprit was his wife but by keeping quiet he endangered Wudang's reputation. So, Yu Lianzhou feared that they would loose this fight, because it would be probable that the other 4 heroes would have to look after him and Zhang Cuishan and weakening the formation. Yin Susu saw the pain of her husband and approached Kongwen, Kongzhi and Kongxing and confessed to what she did and chided the 3 reverends for being muddle-headed. Then, she told Zhang Cuishan to follow her inside, she went to Yu Daiyan and confessed to what she did 10 years ago and asked him to punish her.....(the rest is pretty much the same as the old editions). What I liked about this part was that Yin Susu showed how much she loved her husband and what a responsible woman she had become.

    5) Origins of Jiuyang (Laviathan has already posted this and I too have expressed my feelings about this). The origins are mentioned when Zhang Wuji is training Jiuyang in that cave and that Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist monk wrote how and why he wrote Jiuyang. (Again, I thought it was redundant and farfetched).

    By Laviathan:

    In the new edition, Zhang Wuji learns about Nine Yang's origins on the last page of the Lankavatara Sutra. It states that Wang Chongyang, after having obtained the Book of Nine Yin, travelled to Songshan one day and had a drinking contest with a certain guy. Wang Chongyang lost, and had to let the man read the entire Book of Nine Yin as a favour. This man used to be a Confucianist scholar in his youth and was exceptionally bright and educated. He later became a Taoist priest and acquired a vast amount of knowledge about Taoist principles and theories. But when he reached old age, he became a Buddhist monk for some unknown reason. When reading the Book of Nine Yin, the monk, with his superior intellect and knowledge, noticed that the Nine Yin martial arts were based on extreme Yin principles instead of a harmony between Yin and Yang. Realising that there must be "another way", he created the Art of Nine Yang and wrote the Book of Nine Yang inside the Sutra. This sutra somehow got into the Shaolin temple, so maybe the monk was a Shaolin member.

    6) When Zhang Wuji saw Yin Tianzheng and Song Yuanqiao fighting he was crying, because he recognized the stances both of them used and it reminded him of the times when his mother and father would train (using the same stances).

    7) The Ming cult has 3 capital orders and 5 minor orders. There are 12 holy sceptres in total, on the first 6 there is a martial arts engraved on it (learnt by Zhang Wuji and those Persians) on the other 6 the most important 8 rules of the Ming cult are engraved on it.

    Three capital orders:
    - Ming cultists are prohibited from becoming emperors, officials, kings, generals, etc. They rebel because they want to save the people not for their own gain. However, it is allowed to use those names when rebelling to attract support.
    - Ming cultists are not allowed to oppress the people and should do whatever is possible to ease the suffering of men.
    - Ming cultists are not to fight each other.

    Five minor orders:
    - Ming cultists are men and women of their words.
    - Ming cultists are to treat each other like brothers and sisters.
    - Respect your elders, brothers, sisters, parents and friends.
    - Treat women with respect
    - Protect the cult with your life and obey the commands of your seniors in the cult.

    8) The Dragon Sabre is made from Yang Guo's heavy iron sword. (like in the previous editions, he gave this sword to Guo Xiang; I don't know when he gave that sword to her). The Heavenly Sword is made from the Lady and Gentleman swords. There are two small chips on the sabre and sword just a few centimetres from the hilt. Use both weapons to saw through the chips, only those two weapons are powerful enough to break each other. Inside the weapons is a metal map to Peach Blossom Isle and the location of the manuals.

    9) Manuals: Yue Fei's art of war and Jiuyin Zhenjing, plus various Peach Blossom Isle and Hong Qigong's martial arts. There isn't a manual on 18 Dragon Subduing Palms anymore. The Jiuyin Bone claws and other skills used by Mei Chaofeng have been slightly altered by Huang Yaoshi, those are still evil skills but not as vile as used by Mei Chaofeng. Huang Yaoshi was saddened by the deaths of Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng, therefore he made some changes to this martial arts.

    When Xiangyang fell, Guo Xiang was in Sichuan province and when she rushed back it was too late. Guo Jing and Huang Rong did not give the sword and/or sabre to Guo Fu, because they knew she was too reckless and dumb. (Miejue Shi-tai told this to Zhou Zhiruo).

    10) The Yang family must be aware of the secret of the sword and sabre, therefore Miss Yang was able to deduce what Zhou Zhiruo did and exposed her crimes.
    As this Thread has been commented upon, I quote, for it may well be helpful, from the Third edition changes...
    « I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would not have been expressed, had I not known more. » — 弗拉基米爾·弗拉基米羅維奇·納博科夫

  9. #49
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianluvve View Post
    Execuse me benefactor translator
    the chapter 11 to 13 can not be acces because the wuxiapedia site has change
    so i beg your kindness to post the missing chapter from wuxiapedia site here
    thankyou very much
    Lanluvve, pm me your email, I'll send the file to you.

  10. #50
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    This novel, Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre was translated by various Asian Chinese people on Meh, Athena and Fox did a great job for each of the chapters such as chapters 1-29 and chapters 33 -40.   Could you please delete and fix chapter 30 which seems to be wrong and was obtained from the most recent 2009 TV series and not the novel itselt. Please fix chapter 30 by replacing it with a translation from the novel?  

  11. #51
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    This novel, Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre was translated by various Asian Chinese people on Meh, Athena and Fox did a great for each of the chapters such as chapters 1-29 and chapters 33 -40.  There is a problem with chapter 30 (episode 27) which is not consistent with the translations in the other chapters. Chapter 30 seems to be translated from the wrong source and taken directly from the most recent (newer than others) TV series in 2009 -Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre.  Was Jiang Hu the person who did the translation to English for the TV series? Could you please delete and fix chapter 30 by replacing it with a translation from the novel?  Chapter 30 was not obtained from the 1961 novel written by Louis Cha, a long long time before I was born.  All of the other chapters were translated from the novel except for Chapter 30 that was translated from the Chinese language. Of course, I prefer to watch the Chinese drama in the original Chinese language, but I am referring to the translation for episode 30.

    In this 2009 TV series, the leading Chinese actors and Chinese actresses were fantastic in Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre in this Wuxia drama.  Also, I like the beautiful Chinese landscape, the Chinese costumes. The Chinese martial arts and kung fu was amazing and the other chapters were great and fantastic in the Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre.  

  12. #52
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    @Justina4: By 2009, I am assuming you are referring to the year it was released, am I correct? Well … if you scroll up, you will see that the unabridged version was posted end of January 2008, and the original translation
    was posted December 2007 thru January 2008, so how could you say that it was taken from 2009 TV Series?

    FYI, the entire trilogy (with the exception of 1 or maybe 2 chapters) was translated from the 2nd edition. I recommend you search the wuxia fiction forum for second and third edition changes.

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