Sweet Jesus, these chapters are long. I still have four to five more pages of Chinese to wade through before the end of the chapter.
This was a tough section. Some of it isn't very accurately done.
“I don’t want to learn Master Hong,” Guo Jing said.
“Why?” Hong Qicong said.
“Senior has already taught me so much kung fu that I haven’t practiced enough,” Guo Jing said.
Hong Qicong understood: Guo Jing refused to be greedy. The beggar had said he would no longer teach anymore wugong to Guo Jing, but the recent emergency situation made teaching more techniques imperative. Nevertheless, if Guo Jing allowed Hong Qicong to teach him again, it would appear to be opportunistic.
Nodding, Hong Qicong pulled Huang Rong by the hand and said, “We practice.”
Once alone, Guo Jing went out and practiced the first 15 palms of the “18-Dragon Subduing Palms,” thereby increasing his understanding.
Huang Rong studied “Blossoms Rain from the Sky” for 10 days. She learned how to throw 10 needles to simultaneously hit a person’s vital areas, but could not master hitting the vital points of multiple targets at once.
One day, Hong Qicong and Huang Rong were out practicing with the needles. The beggar threw them all at once. The needles fell to the ground in two groups — each ten feet across. Satisfied, he looked skyward and fell into contemplation. But his thinking was dull, so he said aloud, “Old poison, why did you train all these snakes?”
“With his wugong already at such a powerful state, he can handle almost anyone near him,” Huang Rong said. “So what would the snakes do?”
Hong Qicong slapped his head. “Of course!” he said. “It’s to deal with the Eastern Heretic and the Southern Emperor. Both the beggars and Quan Zhen are numerous in manpower, and the Southern Emperor is an actual king with many bodyguards and soldiers protecting him. Your father is a cultivated intellect possessing many strange and powerful skills, which can help him face multiple enemies alone. When the old poison fights alone, no one in his generation can completely face him. But if his enemy brings a companion and so on, then the old poison facing them alone is in a terrible position.”
“Therefore, the old poison has raised the snakes to help him,” Huang Rong said.
Hong Qicong sighed. “Us beggars often catch snakes and raise them for the purpose of food,” he said. “We’ve been able to do this for about 17 to 18 snakes. We sometimes even release them into fields at night to catch frogs. But the whole process isn’t easy at all. Now, the old poison has actually had the time to catch innumerable amounts of snakes. Huang-er, the old poison has spent a great deal of time on this, which means he must be planning something.”
“He is certainly planning something,” Huang Rong said. “But luckily for us, his nephew revealed the snakes.”
Hong Qicong slapped his head. “Of course, this Ouyang kid revealed with the secret with his frivolousness,” he said. “But what does the old poison know about what others have? These thousands of snakes could not have come from the western region. They must have been collected from the mountains in the East. And though that Ouyang Kid betrayed a part of the plan, he might not have completely revealed the whole scheme in which he plays a part.”
“That’s not a good thing,” Huang Rong said. “Luckily, this style prepares us in advance to take care of those snakes when we observed them, as opposed to having to deal with them while fighting with the old poison himself.”
Hong Qicong hesitated. “But suppose he wraps me up and prevents me from throwing the needles,” he said. “How would I deal with those thousands of snakes?”
Huang Rong thought for a while, “Just run away,” she said.
“Bah!” Hong Qicong said with a smile. “What kind of method is turning around and running away?”
Suddenly, Huang Rong exclaimed, “I got it! I just thought of a good plan.”
Joyful, Hong Qicong said, “What kind of plan is this?”
“Just keep the two of us by your side,” she said. “Should we meet the old poison, you will fight him and brother Jing will deal with his nephew. I will simply use the sewing needles to kill all the snakes. The problem is brother Jing doesn’t know three of the strikes in the ‘18-Dragon Subduing Palms’ and might not be able to deal with those grinning bastards.”
Hong Qicong stared.
“You are the grinning bastard,” he said. “You just want to cheat me into teaching your brother Jing the last three palms. Regarding Guo Jing’s moral conduct, I would teach him all 18 palms without any hesitation. But when did this boy become my disciple? He is so dull that if I took him as a disciple, I would be giving people the right to laugh at me!”
Huang Rong laughed.
“I’m going to buy some groceries,” she said, knowing that would make it harder for Hong Qicong to leave.
She went to the market and purchased many different kinds of vegetables and meats while making sure she bought ingredients with sufficiently unique tastes. With the groceries held in her left hand and her right practicing the “Blossoms Rain from the Sky” technique, she leisurely strolled back to the inn. Suddenly, she heard the sound of a bell loudly approaching. In the distance, she saw a lone, female rider dressed in white approaching the inn very quickly. Huang Rong saw it was Yang Tiexin’s daughter, Mu Nianci, whom Guo Jing’s relatives wanted him to marry. Huang Rong’s heart turned sour, and as Mu Nianci got closer, she refused to make a sound.
“What’s so good about this girl?” she thought. “Brother Jing’s six masters and that ox-nosed priest of the Quanzhen sect all want him to marry her.”
After more thinking, Huang Rong grew angry.
“Let me go fight her and relieve some of my frustration,” she thought.
But when Huang Rong went to place the groceries in the inn, she found Mu Nianci already sitting at a table.
An anxious-looking innkeeper asked Mu Nianci what she wanted to eat and drink.
“Bring me a bowl of noodles and some beef,” Mu Nianci said. The innkeeper quickly left to fill the order.
“How is simple beef any good to eat?” Huang Rong said.
Mu Nianci looked at Huang Rong. At first she couldn’t recognize her, but then she remembered it was the girl who so suddenly left with Guo Jing. She exhaled.
“Little sister is here too?” she said. “Please sit with me.”
“Did that smelly scholar, the fat dwarf, or the other ones come too?” Huang Rong said.
“No,” Mu Nianci said. “I came alone. They are all off together.”
Huang Rong at first feared running into Qiu Chuji, but she felt joy after learning Mu Nianci was there by herself. At first blinded by the possibility of the taoist’s presence, Huang Rong now examined Mu Nianci closely and noticed her small boots, dress and her hair entwined with a white flower, signifying that she was in mourning. And though she had lost weight and wore a sad expression, Mu Nianci remained elegantly beautiful as opposed to pitiable. Huang Rong then noticed a dagger worn at Mu Nianci’s waist.
“This is the dagger exchanged by brother Jing’s parents with her parents to mark their marriage,” Huang Rong thought.
Unable to bear the thought, Huang Rong shouted, “Little sister, may I take a look at that dagger?”
The dagger was indeed the one Bao Xiruo gave away just before dying. It was recovered after she and Yang Tiexin killed themselves and served as a keepsake of the two adoptive parents.
Mu Nianci looked at Huang Rong and noticed her strange expression, but before she could do anything, Huang Rong had already reached out, taken hold of the dagger and casually removed it.
She looked at the weapon and noticed the two characters “Guo Jing” carved into its hilt.
“This belongs to brother Jing,” she thought bitterly. “Why does she get to have it?”
She removed the weapon from its scabbard. A cold air immediately emanated from the weapon.
“Good dagger!” Huang Rong said.
She put the dagger back into the scabbard and placed it within her shirt.
“I’m going to go give this to brother Jing,” she said.
Stricken, Mu Nianci said, “What?”
“The two characters engraved on the hilt proves the rightful owner of this dagger,” Huang Rong said. “I’m going to give it to him.”
Mu Nianci cried out angrily, “This is the only possession I have from my adoptive parents. How can you take it? Quickly give it back to me.” She stood up and walked towards Huang Rong.
“If you have a problem, come and get it!” Huang Rong shouted as she ran out of the inn.
Huang Rong knew Hong Qicong was asleep in the forest, and Guo Jing was up in the mountains practicing his palms. She ran to the left.
Mu Nianci pursued anxiously, fearing Huang Rong would ride the red horse. She continued to chase until she heard a loud noise, which she followed.
Huang Rong had taken a bend to a clearing surrounded by tall, locust trees. She stopped there and laughed.
“You’ve won,” she said. “You’re the better horse. Now let us match against one another to see who gets the bride’s dagger.”
Mu Nianci’s cheeks reddened.
“Don’t joke little sister,” she said. “When I see this dagger, I see my adoptive father. Why did you take it away?”
Huang Rong’s brow dropped.
“Who is your sister?” she shouted.
She immediately jumped at Mu Nianci with her palm extended.
Mu Nianci tried to dodge, but Huang Rong used the “Falling Blossom Sword Palm.” Employing the many and mysterious variations in the style, Huang Rong hit Mu Nianci twice in the ribs, causing a lot of pain.
Angry, Mu Nianci turned to the left before also returning her own palm stroke, which was a violent strike.
“This is the ‘Wandering Strides’ fist!” Huang Rong shouted. “How is this possible?”
Mu Nianci was surprised upon hearing Huang Rong’s shout.
“This was the style Hong Qicong passed on to me alone,” she thought. “How could she know about it?”