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Thread: The Invincible Swordsman (revised)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    Back at my homeland

    Cool The Invincible Swordsman (revised)

    I decided to delete the old post and posting anew since I have made a few changes in chapter 1. Readers can also read this story from the story vault section.

    Please give comments.

    Chapter 1
    The Eighteenth Birthday

    A wave of force cut through serene air like a rock that was cast into a still pond. The energy spread out slowly and touched a cherry tree gently. The tree suddenly shook, and its pink blossoms instantly showered down. Fragrant petals twirled about in the wind before descending to the ground.

    Ten meters away, a young man (Roger Kwok Chun On) was standing with closed eyes. He took a deep breath, smelling the delicate scent of cherry blossoms blissfully. All of a sudden, he leaped in the air and gracefully captured one green leaf that fell from the cherry tree. He landed lightly and opened his eyes. Then he studied the leaf and shook his head. “Too much force.” He reproved himself softly.

    Yet, he was too happy to let a little mistake spoil his day. Today was his eighteenth birthday, and for the Fu family, he would be considered an adult. He looked at his dirty bare feet and walked to a nearby fountain to wash them. Then he brushed dust from his green robe and returned to the mansion.

    He walked past several servants in the front courtyard who were bustling about preparing a banquet for the special occasion and went straight into a garden where he saw the housekeeper cutting roses for his father. The older man gave him a smile and pointed toward a small cottage set serenely under a willow tree. “Your uncles are waiting for you.”

    The young man nodded and skipped cheerfully into his hut. Once inside, he noticed three piles of clothing on his bed. Nearby stood a tall man of late thirties (Sean Lau Ching Wan) who turned around at the sound of his entry and smiled at him warmly. Next to a window, a slighter older man (Simon Yam Tat Wah) was looking out at the garden absentmindedly.

    The youth cupped his hands and greeted his seniors politely. “Fifth Uncle, Sixth Uncle.”

    His sixth uncle nodded. “We have prepared three sets of clothes for you and couldn’t decide which you shall wear.” His smile showed a hint of sadness as he looked at his only nephew.

    The other older man hummed and left the window to join the conversation. “I am for a scholar robe, but Sixth Brother wants you to look like a merchant.”

    The sixth brother argued good-naturedly. “A merchant will be less noticeable.”

    His older brother grunted. “But also attracts more robbers. Besides, Ah Nan fits more as a young scholar. Nobody will investigate a student who is on his way to take an examination at the capital.”

    While his two uncles were talking, Fu Nan approached his bed and examined his choice of costumes. One set was an outfit that scholars usually wore, consisting of clean white robe and matching hat. The second pile held light yellow silk brocade with soft leather shoes. Finally, the third set was an old, gray cotton robe and a pair of reed sandals.

    At that moment, a short man (Liu Kai Chi) appeared at the doorway. “Why don’t we let Ah Nan make a decision?” He suggested; his eyes danced lively.

    The two brothers stopped and turned to their nephew who was trying on the old robe. “Third Brother is right.” The sixth brother agreed.

    The fifth brother hummed. “It seems that he shares your taste, Third Brother.”

    The short man grinned widely. “Simple is always the best.” He nodded at the youngster. “I was sent to fetch you three. Everyone is waiting at the house.”

    Fu Nan nodded and quickly tied his belt before hurrying after his third uncle with appropriate space between them, and his other uncles followed leisurely behind. They passed the garden, took a left turn, and entered a main building where servants lined up in two rows at either side of the walkway. Automatically, Fu Nan paused at the threshold before slowly stepped forward. His heart beat faster as he stopped in front of his eldest uncle (Alex Man Chi Leung) sitting majestically on a low platform. The latter was a man of fifty some years old with thick eyebrows and wide forehead. His eyes were sharp and alert. At that moment, they looked at the young man kindly.

    “Fu Nan, you turned eighteen today.” He stated, stroking his beard. His voice was not loud, but it carried across the silent hall. “It is also the day that you will leave us. We have trained you well, and it’s time for you to enter the quest.” He paused and clapped his hands twice. “For now, let’s celebrate.”

    At once, the room was alive. The servants brought in two tables – one large and one small – and started serving dishes of food. The eldest brother got up and moved to the big table, and his younger brothers did likewise. Next, he motioned Fu Nan to take a seat at the small table before toasting to the young man’s health.

    The food was very delicious, and the wine was excellent, but Fu Nan hardly felt the taste. His uncle’s words still resounded in his mind, and he was both curious and excited. However, his long habit of self-discipline prevented him from asking further questions. So, he solemnly ate and drank along until the banquet was over.

    After that, the servants cleared the tables and departed. Alone with their only nephew, the four seniors returned to the low platform and took a look at the youth.

    The eldest Fu was the first to speak. “Ah Nan, you are an adult now, so you deserve to know what’s going on here. All these years, you must wonder why you have to live separately from us, why you need to be at another side of curtain when you take lessons with us, and why you are not allowed to see your father.” He sighed grimly. “We did all these things to protect you because you are our only hope for salvation. Our lives and future depend on this quest of yours.”

    His face turned melancholy. “Twenty years ago, we seven brothers are known as Seven Tigers of Jiangnan. In the pugilistic realm, we were highly respected and feared. Throughout the southern region, nobody dared to cross our paths.” His face showed pride, and his younger brothers nodded, agreeing with his boast.

    “However, pride comes before fall. Because we wished to establish our fame in the north as well, we traveled from Jiangnan to Bianliang, showing off our skills on the way. However, at the capital, we encountered the South Hero Zhan Zhao and were defeated by him. We then realized that if we were to be captured and taken to in front of Justice Bao, we would lose our heads for sure, so we fled westward into the kingdom of Xixia. There, our misfortunes continued as we received the worst curse a man could have ever faced.” Grief spread on his face, while tears appeared in the eyes of his third brother, and anger showed on the face of his two youngest brothers.

    “We met a beautiful nun, and the seventh brother playfully flirted with her. The nun was furious, and she flipped her whisk at us. Her movement was fast like lightning, and before we could guard ourselves, our pressure points were sealed, rendering us immovable.

    The nun laughed, and she looked at us evilly. One by one, she fed us a fragrant pill before releasing us. Then she said, “you have taken my new invention, ‘A Vow of Celibacy’. From now, you can never go near any women again.” She chuckled slyly. “Thank you for offering yourselves to test my medicine. Ha-ha. Ha-ha.” She then disappeared like wind. Her lightness kungfu was extraordinary, and her inner power was high. She could have killed us easily then. At that point, we were too glad to be alive to pay much attention on the nun’s warning. We just hurried on, afraid that she would change her mind and come back for us, but nothing happened. We traveled two whole days without stopping and finally spotted an inn ahead. Tiredly, we entered, had a meal, and decided to spend a night there, so we got some rooms and went up to rest.

    That inn was on the border between Song and Xixia; its guests were mostly traders and soldiers, so it was no surprise that there were many prostitutes about, looking for customers.” He chuckled wryly as he saw Fu Nan’s puzzled expression. “Prostitute is one profession of women. You will understand more when you leave our valley.” He then continued. “Our seventh brother was the only bachelor in our group, and he was fond of being with women, so afterward, he went down to pick up a girl and brought her to his room despite my objection. I recalled the nun’s last words and accordingly warned him, but he only shrugged and laughed at my fear. “That nun only pretended to be angry. I caught her eyes while she looked at me, and I know that she was attracted to me. Otherwise, why did she forbid me to touch another girl? She just wants me for herself.”

    The youngest brother was a handsome man, perhaps the best looking among us. He was also playful and charming. Many girls fell in love with him, so it was possible that the nun might like him as well. We were reassured and went back to bed. However, not long after, we heard a scream from the seventh brother’s room. We rushed there and saw him on the bed dead. The girl who was with him was screaming nonstop from fright. When she saw us, she snapped back to her sense and dashed to the door, but after a few paces, she suddenly dropped dead to the floor. At that moment, we heard a vicious laugh from outside, and when we rushed out, we saw the nun standing tall on the roof. She looked like a messenger of death in a white loose gown.” His face twisted as he recalled the dreadful event.

    “She laughed shrilly once more and shouted, “if you don’t want to die horribly, you’d better castrate yourselves or become a monk. Otherwise, everyone, men or women, who has a contact with you will be effected with my poison unless they are taken the vow of celibacy.” She flipped her whisk and leaped away, vanishing without trace.

    The second brother had the most martial skills and best lightness kungfu, so he immediately chased after her. We all followed him but in the dark, we lost tracks of both. In the morning, we scoured the area but found no one, so we could only conclude that we have lost yet another brother.”

    Fu Nan’s third uncle let go his tears, sobbing uncontrollably, while his other uncles bit their lips distressingly. His eldest uncle paced the floor slowly. “By then, we all were very afraid, and as we drew near our home, we were so frightened that we decided not to go back to our wives. So, we came here and built a house to get away from other people and look for a way to cure our poison. At the same time, we trained hard in order to avenge the nun for our dead brothers.” He sighed. “Time passed, and one day your father was gone without warning. Turned out that he missed your mother so much that he was willing to risk his life to see her one more time. Nobody knew what actually happened, but he returned to the valley a month later in a heavily injured state with a baby wrapped carefully inside a basket. It was a boy, and we learned from your father’s last word that the infant was his son. After that, he went into a coma and has not woken since.”

    His third brother cried out. “Poor Fourth Brother! I did everything I could, but I cannot wake him up.” Fu Nan had known that his father was under the other’s care and now had just realized why all these years his third uncle was so engrossed in studying medicine. He kneeled down and kowtowed gratefully at the other who could only stare at his nephew agitatedly.

    “After some thought, we found a way to prevent another tragedy. We named the place ‘Widower Valley’ and prohibited females to enter the valley. Then we unsexed our servants as a precaution, but we could not do the same thing to ourselves. At the back of our minds, we still have hope that we can find the antidote and reunite with our families some day.

    Ah Nan, you are a talented boy, and we have taught you everything that we know. Now it is time that you go out and seek experience. Originally, we want to keep you here for a few more years to strengthen your skills, but we have just heard that Justice Bao had passed away. Therefore, we no longer have to fear that our hiding will be exposed. Moreover, your father is getting worse than before, so there is no time to lose. You are the only one in the family who is not afflicted with the poison, so you shall try to find the antidote for us. Beware all beautiful women for they are the root of the men’s miseries.”

    The eldest uncle finished and nodded to his sixth brother who stepped forward with a cloth bundle. “There are clothes, food, and traveling money inside. Take good care of it and don’t trust anyone.”

    He turned to his fifth brother who placed an ivory fan and a jade flute on Fu Nan’s table. “Weapon often draws danger to its owner, so I give you these instead.” He pointed at the fan. “This is your two uncles’ masterpiece. It hides 512 projectiles that will release at once when you press a hidden spring. As for the flute, it contains the most poisonous needles. Your third uncle will tell you the recipe of its antidote.”

    Fu Nan turned to his fifth and sixth uncles and kowtowed. The former was an expert in hidden weapons. He was also a scholar and gifted musician, while the latter was a mechanic genius and a learned mathematician. Both were his martial arts instructors.

    His third uncle brought out a smaller bundle and said with quivered voice. “I have prepared several medicine and antidotes for you in case of an emergency. Here is also the book of medicine that I have been researched for twenty years. When you memorize it, burn it so that no outsider can use it to harm others.”

    Fu Nan picked up his things and kowtowed to all his uncles again. His eyes suddenly felt heavy. He tried to get up but had to sit down from drowsiness. He heard his uncles saying farewells and he knew no more.

    When he woke up, he was already outside the valley. He looked around and saw a note on a tree above him. “When you come back with the antidote, just wait under this tree, and we will let you in. Good luck.”

    Inside his shirt was a thin manual on his first uncle’s ultimate kungfu. Realized that this was the other’s lifetime work, Fu Nan could not help feeling overwhelmed by his uncle’s kindness. Although the latter was the strictest and looked the most intimidate, he actually had a real concern for the only nephew of his.

    Fu Nan put the kungfu manual away carefully and followed the rising moon. He had a long way to go, and many adventures were awaiting him.

    I'm back, finally.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  2. #2
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Back at my homeland

    Cool Chapter 2

    Chapter 2
    Heirs of Heroes

    In the late afternoon of the third day, Fu Nan reached a wayside teahouse where all tables seemed to be taken except one in the corner where a young maiden (Carina Lau Ka Ling) was sitting. Having no choice, he followed a waiter to the table and sat down quietly, keeping his eyes on only his teacup. Instantly, a white hand pushed a plate of peanuts toward him. Fu Nan murmured thank you and could not help but looked up and saw an oval face with red lips and bright melancholy eyes. She was in white mourning gown but she gave him a slight smile.

    At that point, the waiter came and put a basket of food on the table. The maiden got up, paid him, and left. Only then, Fu Nan noticed that she had left her handkerchief on the table. Out of curiosity, he picked it up and saw a poem praising the virtue of righteousness written neatly on the cloth. Below was needlework in a shape of a bamboo tree with a word ‘Bao’. The handkerchief was made of expensive silk and looked valuable, and Fu Nan assumed that it must be very important to its owner. He then asked the waiter who returned with his food about the maiden, and the other pointed toward a nearby forest. “She lived there with an old woman. Once in a while, she will come and buy food from us.” The waiter looked at his young customer and was about to continue then paused. Blabbermouth would not do him good, so he gave a shrug and got on with his work.

    Fu Nan stared at the white cloth in his hand and thought of leaving it with the waiter to return to her. However, more customers came in, and he had no chance to talk to either the waiter or the manager. In the end, after he finished the meal, he put the handkerchief away carefully and walked into the forest. Another fifty meters, he came to a lone cottage with a white flag in front. From inside, he heard sound of crying, and when he gently knocked at the door, an old woman came to let him in.

    Inside, the young maiden was kneeling in front of a white altar, burning paper in a shape of money in an old bowl. On the altar was a wooden tablet in the name of Justice Bao completed with various sacrificial offerings. Without word, the old woman handed the visitor lighted incense sticks, and Fu Nan had no choice but to take them and awkwardly paid a respect to the dead man.

    When he was done, the young maiden gazed up at him questioningly, and he promptly handed the handkerchief back to her. “Miss has left this back at the teahouse, so I came to return it to you.”

    The other’s face lit up; she smiled at the young man gratefully. “This handkerchief is my last keepsake from Grandfather.” She glanced at the tablet on the altar, and tears flowed from her eyes like drops of clear diamond. Then the smile vanished, and her face paled. She touched the handkerchief tenderly and almost sobbed. “But tomorrow I still have to part from it.” She hung her head sadly.

    The old woman spat furiously. “Everyone started to pick on us the minute that your grandfather passed away. All the old master’s life, he was only concerned about upholding the law, so he did not accumulate wealth like those corrupted officials. Moreover, he was a kind man and often used up his salary to help the needy. Later, we realized that he owed a lot of money to grocers and other traders, leaving us no choice but to sell our house and furniture to pay off the debts. After that, we moved here to spend a quiet life just to discover that our small saving has been stolen on the way, so we have to pawn off the old master’ paintings and the like.” She sneered. “Because of his reputation, it becomes almost a fashion to own something of his.” She sighed, glancing at her young mistress. “I am too old and feeble to be useful, and the young miss has no special skill, but we still have to eat and keep warm. Being alive is really harder than the death.”

    The young maiden’s eyes were on the burning paper while she reprimanded the other gently. “Grandma, we should not broadcast our troubles to strangers. It is not polite to cast our gloom on our guest. Now be a good host and serve tea to the gentleman.”

    Then she slowly rose and walked gracefully to greet Fu Nan. “I am sorry for the condition of the house. Today is the hundredth day anniversary of my grandfather’s death.” She smiled shyly as she invited him to take a seat.

    Fu Nan heard the story from the old woman and was moved. When he saw how she was considerate to his feeling, he was further impressed and could not help feeling sorry for the two women. His hands automatically reached in his bundle and brought out three large gold ingots. He then placed them on the table with good heart. “My uncle said that one ingot of gold can buy many things, so I’d like to give you some.”

    The young maiden quickly shook her head. “We are only strangers. How could I possibly receive your kindness?” She gazed at him then lowered her head.

    Fu Nan frowned. “Actually, the gold is rather heavy, so if you take it from me, it’d be a great help. I should thank Miss instead.” His handsome eyebrows knitted then he added more gold to the old pile and heaved a relieved sign. “There, my bundle is lighter, and your problem will be solved. I don’t want Miss to be sad because I like to see you smile.” He said artlessly, making his young host immediately turned deep red.

    “It is still not right to capitalize on your generosity. There is too much gold here.” She protested softly.

    Fu Nan said nothing further but bowed politely and walked to the door. The maiden bit her lips and looked at the gold ingots on the table then hurriedly called him. “Kind master, please stop over for a night at our humble home.” Fu Nan turned around, and she gave him a dazzling smile. “Please give us a chance to show our gratitude. Otherwise, I won’t dare to accept the gold from you.”

    Fu Nan heard her invitation and thought it was a good idea. The night was approaching, and there was no inn in sight, so he gave a nod and returned to his chair. The old woman immediately poured him a new cup of hot tea and brought out some sweetmeat then withdrew to prepare a bed for the guest.

    Meanwhile, her mistress chatted with Fu Nan amiably. Her gloomy mood seemed to disappear. She tried to find out where he was from, but he remembered his uncle’s order and recited only what he was taught to say. “I am visiting a relative on the border. My family is merchant by trade.” He never told lies and instantly felt guilty for deceiving his new friend. He flushed and stopped talking.

    Silence reigned for a moment then Bao Ju as she called herself stood up and excused herself. “I have work in the kitchen. We must have a feast today.” She waved off his offer to help and told her maid to show the gentleman the bedroom.

    A few hours later, she went to fetch him for dinner. She had put on a new white gown with a single pink blossom as a sole decoration on her lustrous hair. Although her dress was plain, it enhanced her attractiveness even more as the material arrested her seductive figure. Fu Nan also freshened up himself, and he looked handsome in his gray robe. Side by side, they were a good-looking pair, and Bao Ju seemed to realize it as she smiled at him charmingly.

    Fu Nan had never seen women in flesh at close up and was stunned with her beauty. He thought of his uncles’ story then of his own parents. ‘My mother is probably a beautiful lady too.’ Sorrow welled up in his heart, and he could only see an image of his father lying on the bed, unconscious.

    Bao Ju led him to a table laden with food. Although ingredients were simple and inexpensive, but every dish was very delicious. By then, Fu Nan was hungry again and accordingly ate heartily. His host glanced at him and smiled proudly at his appreciation to her cooking. Then she poured fragrant wine into a cup and presented to him. “Master Fu, I’d like to toast this wine for your benevolence.” She swiftly took a drink from her cup, and he breathed in the wine’s sweet scent before taking a sip. “This wine is extraordinary, but I am not used to alcohol, so I’m afraid that I won’t be able to tolerate it.”

    Back at the Widower Valley, he was strictly raised and was made to study hard both in book and in kungfu. His body was roughened to endure many types of hardships, and one of his special skills was an ability to detect and resist common poisons. As soon as he smelled the wine, he realized that it was poisoned with sleeping potion. He was puzzled and at first thought that there were enemies of his host lurking about. Then his sharp eyes caught the old maid’s exchanging cunning look with her mistress and understood that they were the real culprits. However, he was curious of their intention and decided to play along with their plan.

    Bao Ju knitted her eyebrows and laughed softly. “If you get drunk, I’ll look after you myself.” She poured more wine into his cup, and he drank it all this time. She smiled wider and continued serving him more wine. Unknown to her, Fu Nan used his energy to collect the wine to one spot and released it onto the ground through his left toe. The floor of the hut was mainly dirt, so it absorbed the liquid well, leaving only slight dampness.

    After a while, Fu Nan gave a yawn. He stood up and excused himself for bed when he pretended to trip over and fell down. The old maid bent down to inspect his breathing and was satisfied. She looked up at her mistress and reported that their prey had gone asleep. Then she shook her head. “Why didn’t we kill him like others? I have looked through his luggage and got all his gold. The rest were just a few of medicine bottles and some clothes.”

    Her mistress chuckled. “Why so hurry? He is a handsome boy, and I want to have a little fun with him first. Besides, my sisters will arrive soon, and they might want to play with him as well.” She looked at the other’s face adoringly. “I think I have fallen in love with him.” She murmured with a sigh. “Too bad that I have to share all my spoils with others.”

    Fu Nan was taken aback at her words. In fact, she was one of those bandits that his uncles had warned him about. ‘Women are really dangerous as Uncle has said.’ He thought with shrilled heart and wanted to leave this place right away.

    Suddenly, he opened his eyes and got up, and the two women grasped with surprise. Nobody had ever escaped their fragrant poison before. Fu Nan stared at the young maiden reproachfully. “So, Miss are not really Justice Bao’s granddaughter.” His disapproving voice pierced her heart, but she laughed harshly. “Even if he had a granddaughter, why should she come to this forsaken place? It is your bad luck to fall into my hands today.”

    Fu Nan did not understand. “I gave you a lot of gold. Even if it is not enough, why didn’t you ask for more? I’d have been more than pleased to help you out. Robbing and drugging innocent people is not a good behavior for a lady.”

    The other narrowed her eyes and snapped irritably. “Who said that I am a lady? Say silly boy, you don’t seem to mind being robbed which only means that your must have a lot more gold at home.” Her voice turned gentler, and she smiled enchantingly. “I will treat you well if you’ll tell me where you live.” She was thinking of holding him for a ransom.

    However, that only made Fu Nan suspect her of being connected to his uncles’ enemy. “Are you a nun?” He asked straight out, and the other laughed at him coyly. “You are more stupid than I thought. Wait a bit more, and I will show you what I am really made of.”

    She reached out for his wrist and suddenly felt numb. She turned pale, astonished by the other’s strong inner force but was still confident of her kungfu skill, so she threw up a punch and followed with a stab of her knife, thinking to disable his hands. Unexpectedly, Fu Nan met the weapon with his left index and middle fingers while raised his right palm to encounter the punch. “Dang,” the knife was broken in half, and she was thrown out of the cottage. Her right arm that held the leftover tip of the knife shook and was in pain, while the bones on her left arm shattered and broke. At the same time, he felt wind on his back and without looking, he bent his head and twisted his torso to the left while threw a palm mightily at his attacker. Turned out it was the old woman who spat a pool of blood and died instantly.

    Growing up, Fu Nan had only nature and mechanical traps that his sixth uncle built as his training partners. Therefore, he had no clue of his own power. Consequently, when he went against these two women at that moment, he did not think of holding back and was stunned to see the damage he had caused on them.

    “So sorry. I didn’t mean to kill Elder.” He bowed at the corpse and went outside to examine the injured maiden, but she had already crawled away and hid behind a bush in fear. He then recalled that more reinforcement was coming and did not wish to linger to meet them, so he went inside the hut and collected his gold and his bundle then quickly headed out of the forest.

    At dawn, he arrived at a cold stream and decided to take a break. He brought out a bun and munched it then took a drink from the brook. Just then, a pretty woman about twenty years old (Margie Tsang Wah Sin) stepped out from behind the bush and asked him with clear voice. “Have you seen the young woman about my age in this area? She is a vicious thief, and I’ve been hunting for her.” She wore blue trousers with a blouse in lighter color. Her right hand held a sharp sword, and her belt hung a pair of manacles.

    Fu Nan thought of the injured maiden and did not wish to harm her further, so he shook his head. The other looked at him and snorted. “That wench is hiding somewhere in this forest for sure, yet you deny not knowing her. Hmm, are you her ally?”

    She immediately thrust her sword at him. Fu Nan remembered last night’s incident and was more careful in generating his force. Instead, he sprang back to avoid her stab then using lightness kungfu to dodge her speedy attack. Suddenly, the maiden stopped and praised sincerely. “Your lightness kungfu is quite exceptional. You evidently aren’t a local, so you cannot be Bamboo Fragrance’s lackey. My name is Zhan Xiulan. What is yours?”

    Fu Nan repeated, “Bamboo Fragrance?”

    Zhan Xiulan nodded. “Yes, that is her name, but she usually goes by the name Bao Ju. She capitalizes the honorable Justice Bao’s recent death by pretending to be his granddaughter and cons money from many people. I knew Justice Bao personally that he did not have such granddaughter, so I want to capture her to protect his reputation.” Then she added proudly. “My father was Justice Bao’s personal guard. His name is Zhan Zhao, the southern hero.”

    Fu Nan remembered that his uncles had once lost to this South Hero and was cautious. ‘He might send his daughter to look for my uncles.’ He thought.

    The other impatiently repeated her question. “You didn’t introduce yourself.” She frowned.

    Fu Nan blushed and gave a salute then made up a name. “I am Wu Nan,” he said.

    Zhan Xiulan grinned cheerfully at him. “I live with my father not far from here. He has retired from the martial world for many years now but still loves to make friend with strangers. I bet he would love to see your kungfu.” Her eyes shone excitedly, and her cheeks flushed in crimson hue. She was not a stunning beauty like Bamboo Fragrance, but she was more lively and outgoing.

    Without waiting for his reply, she tucked at his sleeve and led him on a small path behind the bush she had appeared from. Fu Nan dazedly followed her, and after half an hour of walking, they emerged at the other side of the forest where a bamboo house was set in a middle of a clearing. In front were a shallow moat and a bridge over it. The maiden turned to her guest and flashed a smile. “Here is my house. Let’s go inside.” She skipped over a bridge and ran past the bamboo gate.

    Fu Nan hesitantly followed. He was curious about the once renowned hero Zhan Zhao and wanted to meet the latter but at the same time wondered if he would jeopardize his uncles’ safety. He stepped on the Bamboo Bridge, and out of the blue twelve lances flew from the moat toward him. Without thinking, Fu Nan sprang up and somersaulted over the weapons. He then landed in front of the bamboo gate. Zhan Xiulan had disappeared, and he had no choice but to entered the gate. He participated more traps so was able to keep calm and escaped from the hidden arrows at the gate.

    At that moment, the door was opened, and Zhan Xiulan clapped her hands at him. “Brother Wu’s kungfu is impressive. My father would be pleased to meet you.” She cordially invited him inside and showed him a chair. “I will go fetch my father.” She told him and left the room.

    Fu Nan looked around and saw a sparse room with simple furniture made of bamboo. There was only one chair against the wall, and Fu Nan went to take a seat. Suddenly, steel straps lashed out from the wall and secured his upper torso. Fu Nan twisted his body and tried to move, but his arms were tightly bound and could not be of any use.

    He then heard a cold laugh and Bamboo Fragrance appeared with her left arm in a sling followed with Zhan Xiulan. “Ha-ha, you don’t know how high the sky is to mess with us sisters. Today, we will cut you into pieces to pacify our grandmother’s soul.” Bamboo Fragrance sneered and nodded at the other maiden who advanced forward with her sword gleaming menacingly. Without warning, she stabbed at his left shoulder, thinking of cutting away his limbs one by one.

    In that critical situation, Fu Nan did not panic and swiftly swept forth his feet. His left foot hooked at the opponent’s sword, while his right foot kicked out. His move was fierce and took the other by surprise. The sword was taken from her hand at the same time as two pressure points on her side was sealed. With an effortless appearance, his right ankle jerked the fallen sword and sent it toward a tiny knob on the opposite wall. As soon as the latter was hit, the straps around him released, and he got up from the chair. His sixth uncle was a master of traps and machinery, so knowing how to get out of this imprisoned instrument was a simple trick for him.

    The two maidens’ faces changed color. Zhan Xiulan then cursed aloud as she took out her whip that she used as her belt. The whip danced vivaciously; its end was attached with a small hook like sharp fang of snake, aiming at the other’s throat.

    Fu Nan took a step backward and shook his head. “I’m very sorry about your grandmother, but it was pure self-defense. I really don’t want to hurt you two, so please let me go. I won’t tell authority if Misses promise to reform.” His move was ordinary yet effective. The whip somehow missed its target.

    Zhan Xiulan spat angrily. “You can only leave here as a dead man. As for authority, who fear them?” Her whip lashed furiously left and right, and Fu Nan sidestepped it until his back was against the wall. The other snickered coldly as she saw he was trapped. Her whip flicked, and the hook went for his Adam’s apple.

    Fu Nan sighed. He had no choice but to defend himself. His hand shot out, holding a carved ivory fan. The fan knocked gently at the whip as the latter reached his body. The whip veered off and hit the wall, and the bamboo shattered. The fan seemed delicate and harmless compared to the other weapon but it actually carried strong force. Immediately, Zhan Xiulan felt her chest tighten, and her hand shook but determined not to lose another weapon, so she gritted her teeth and flipped her wrist, thrusting her whip at his five major pressure points. This was her most fatal move in which the whip acted like a spear. It was fast, vicious, yet fluid with many stance variations. However, the fan was faster for it would fend off the whip accurately every time. The fiercer the whip was, the gentler the fan seemed to become. In fact, Fu Nan merely borrowed the force from the whip to reverse itself. This was one of the refined techniques in his eldest uncle’s martial art manual, ‘A Feather Striking Down Mountains’.

    Then all of a sudden, the whip turned limp and traveled slowly seemingly without force as if its owner was unable to hold on to it any longer. Beads formed at Zhan Xiulan’s face and, her white skin turned even paler; her hands shook and blood appeared at the corner of her mouth. Fu Nan saw how she was suffering and took a pity on her. He thought that she would know better to retreat before injuring herself further, so he lowered his fan, assuming that she was at the end of her strength. As many others of her victims, he was deceived as the whip unexpectedly hit at his right kneecap. Its hook was small, but it created a deep wound plus the fact that it was poisoned. The young maiden grinned evilly as her whip resumed its ferocious stance. This time, she meant to take his life.

    Fu Nan had no time to think. He gathered all his force and punched forward. His fist moved later but landed first at her chest. There was a crack sound as her ribs were broken. The so-called ‘Zhan Xiulan’ screamed once and fell dead. Fu Nan himself could hardly stand straight. This exertion of internal power caused the blood to circulate faster thus the poison took an effect more quickly.

    Fu Nan breathed heavily and was about to seal his pressure points to stop blood flow when he heard a joyous laugh from the other maiden. He glanced at her and was surprised. “Aren’t you mad at me? I have killed your grandmother and now your sister, but you look almost happy.”

    The young maiden’s face darkened at the mentioning of her grandmother, but she folded out her charming smile. She nodded. “I want to avenge you for my grandmother, but I should thank you for getting rid of Sister Lan for me.” Her lips curved up slyly. “Although we are sisters, we had unsettled feud between us. My martial arts are lower than hers, so I always get beaten. Now that you killed her, I won’t need to be afraid of her anymore.” Her eyes lit up, sending her face to glow so radiantly. The next second, her smile was gone. Her face twitched, and her eyes glowed red with hatred.

    “Sister Lan’s poisonous whip is very lethal. It travels especially fast when one puts forth his power. Right now, you have no strength left and could hardly stand let alone fight. It will be a child’s play now to take your life. Ha-ha.”

    Even before her laughs died out, her life had already left her young body. Turned out that Fu Nan used his last strength to release projectiles from his fan. One of the hidden weapons hit right at the middle of her forehead and was the cause of her death.

    These two maidens were like beautiful flowers in their blooms a moment ago. They were full of youth and life, yet from now, their carcasses would only feed wild beasts and insects, and their bones would eventually turned into earth. Alas, how long would they be remembered?

    Fu Nan’s heart shook as he stared at the two corpses. He felt sad and could not understand why they couldn’t just be friends instead of enemies. They were the first two youngsters he had ever made acquaintances with, and he mourned silently for this lost friendship.

    Shakily, he opened his medicine bag and took one of his third uncle’s antidotes then sat cross-legged, meditating. He was young and strong; his toxic tolerant was high, so although the poison in his body was deadly, with the aid of the antidote, the poison slowly dispersed, and his internal energy came back. He then spent almost three hours to get rid of the rest of poison from his system. Finally, he threw out the last batch of black blood and knew that he was out of danger.

    After that, he carried the two sisters outside and buried them side by side at the foot of the bridge. Then he kowtowed to them for the last time before leaving the place that he had thought as a haven earlier.

    The next day, he was walking along a dirt road when he heard soft sound of zither from the other side of street. The music was pleasant, and he was drawn to it. Curious, he quickened his steps and in a few minutes reached a crossroads where a small pavilion stood under shading of a banyan tree. A woman (Shallin Tse Ling) was sitting on a stone bench in the pavilion, playing a zither with melancholy eyes. As Fu Nan approached, she sang out with lovely voice.

    “Plum blossom tolerates the winter frost.
    Its petal was soft and white like skin of a young maiden.
    It wants to be picked and loved.
    For it will soon wither when the new sun shines.

    All women desire love.
    Their fair fingers would like to tremble in a man’s hand.
    Their red lips want to be touched.
    And their black hair wishes for a broad chest to rest.”

    Bead formed at her foreheads; a gust of wind blew, and she coughed lightly. At that moment, she looked up and discerned the young man, and the verses changed.

    “Bamboo grows in wilderness.
    Fragrant orchid rests on high cliff.
    Who would understand their loneliness?
    Who would appreciate their delightful appearances?

    Abruptly, she stopped and stared at the stranger’s flute tucked at his waist. She had on a green lacy gown; her hair was long and lustrous, decorating simply with three exquisitely carved hairpins. She was thin and pale and looked delicate. “Won’t Hero come in and play a song with me?” She invited almost pleadingly.

    Dreamily, Fu Nan silently entered the pavilion and sat at another bench. The maiden smiled and lit fragrant incenses in an ancient pot. Then she started a new song, and Fu Nan took out his flute and played along with the tune.

    “…Autumn comes, and maple leaves are as red as my blushing cheeks.
    Winter visits, and misty fog is milkier than my smooth skin.
    Spring rain melts snow, and seeds of love are sowed.
    Summer arrives, and I become a bride…”

    The verses echoed the singer’s loneliness hidden with hope. Her voice was rich and sweet, full of emotion, making Fu Nan’s heart tremble. Although the young maiden was plain looking, her movement was elegant and graceful. Her long fingers stroked strings of the zither expertly; its sound blended flawlessly with the tune from Fu Nan’s jade flute, creating an enchanting melody. Aside from the two instruments, there was no other sound. Even birds in the area stopped their cooing to listen to this heart-wrenching song.

    At the end of the last note, the three strings snapped. Simultaneously, with a soft sigh, the maiden flipped her fingers gently, while her eyes were gazing at the zither’s vibrating strings. At that moment, three hairpins flew straight at Fu Nan who was still mesmerized with the music and did not realize of the coming projectiles. ‘Ping, ping, ping,’ he looked up and blinked with surprise. Blurs of three objects whizzed by his neck within a hairbreadth, hit the pillar behind him, and buried themselves underneath the wood, leaving only three holes. The small pavilion shook and groaned painfully as the force ran through it.

    Fu Nan glanced at the marks on the pillar and realized the other’s strong inner power. If he were hit just by one of the projectiles, he would have been dead by now. Hence, he turned to her and saluted her politely. “Thank you for your mercy, but what wrong have I done Miss?”

    The other heaved a sigh. She coughed a few times and slowly got up; her tear-glittering eyes turned to him. “I have a duty to revenge the death of my family members. Have you not killed anyone these last few days?”

    Fu Nan’s eyebrows creased. He nodded slowly. “Yes, I encountered three female bandits and caused their deaths.” He sighed. “But I did not intend to kill them.”

    The maiden’s face turned ashen. “The old woman was my granny, and the two young ones were my younger sisters.” Tears dropped from her eyes and touched the zither as she pointed at the pillar with trembling fingers. “Those three hairpins were supposed to take your life – one for each death, but in the end, I can’t kill you.” She covered her face miserably for awhile then stared at him unseeingly. “It is true that Ah Ju and Ah Lan were bandits. They had killed many innocent people, so maybe fate just used your hands to punish them.” Her voice was softer, reminisced about her sisters. “Alive, we three blood sisters were never in good terms with one another. Both of them were healthy and beautiful girls, so they often ridiculed my sickly complexion and my love in music. I once became angry that I hit both of them at the shoulder and chased them away. That was the last time I saw them.” She sighed morosely, looking at her palm. She went on. “There was also a day that I…”

    The last incense was burning out, leaving only its fragrance behind. Its ash fell into the pot, and Fu Nan dropped onto the floor. His limbs suddenly felt like liquid; the flute suddenly fell down from his hand, and he could not move even an ounce of his muscle. He realized then that he was poisoned but could not fathom how. The last two experiences taught him to be wary, so he had his guard up when he entered the pavilion but there was nothing unusual then. When he witnessed the other’s abilities and heard her intention to revenge, he was even more careful although appeared relaxed. However, aside from the three hairpins, he could not see other weapons on her at all. At this point, he was more curious than scared. His brows knitted as he pondered.

    As if the maiden could read his mind, she laughed. “You want to know how I managed to poison you.” She mentioned and pointed at the incense sticks. “These incenses are insect repellents, so they have minimum amount of toxin. However, it is harmless to men, but if mixed with another type of poison, it can become lethal.” She cast her eyes down and tapped at the zither proudly. “Body of this zither is made of ebony wood soaked with poisonous oak for forty-nine days and nights. When I played the music, I used inner power to generate the poison from the wood. It had no odor, so you didn’t notice it. Separately, these two types of poison are insignificant, but together they become the poison with no cure. I had a look at my sisters’ bodies and knew that your kungfu is high, so I planned carefully to capture you.”

    Fu Nan sighed. “Miss’ knowledge in poison is really extensive. I am defeated.”

    The maiden was amused. “You are an extraordinary man yourself. Any other men would have shattered their teeth with fear, but you look very composed.”

    Fu Nan replied serenely. “Because I don’t think Miss would kill me.”

    The other snickered. She gazed at him and instantly turned away. Her pale cheeks spotted red hue. “It is true that I have let you live once and that I have no hatred for your killing my sisters. As I said, we hardly got along. But Granny was another matter. She was my grandmother and took care of us four sisters since childhood. Even if I don’t want to kill you, I still have to do so for the sake of her soul.”

    She turned to stare at his handsome face and sighed. Love rushed in, and she could not lift her hand to strike him. At length, she bit her lips and sat down. Her heart fluttered.

    Fu Nan’s ears caught the word ‘four sisters’ and he asked the other without thinking. “So, Miss has another sibling as well.”

    The other’s eyes turned cold. She nodded stiffly. “Hmm, around this border, we are known as Four Fragrance Bandits. I am the eldest sister named Mei-xiang. Ah Lan and Ah Ju were my second and fourth sisters.” (Author’s note: Mei-xiang means plum fragrance, and Lan is orchid, while Ju is bamboo in Chinese – you probably can guess the name of the third sister.)

    “So, I guess none of you are really the heirs of Kaifeng’s heroes.” Fu Nan concluded with a slight sigh.

    Mei-xiang grunted. “Oh, that is just a scam that Ah Lan and Ah Ju thought up. I personally think that it is too childish. Moreover, I have warned them times and times again to be careful, but they never listened to me.” Her tone hinted displeasure. Then she suddenly smiled, and Fu Nan was shocked to see changes on her. This smile of her was like a blossom blooming. Her face immediately became radiant and enchanting. Her eyes glowed, and her whole body turned alluring. This smile was not ordinary. It revealed more than an actual strip. It actually was more seductive than a naked figure.

    Fu Nan could not move and could not avoid her gaze even if he wanted to. However, he was ignorant about the matter between women and men, coupled with his strong self-discipline, so although he felt somewhat strange inside, he only thought that it was the effect from the poison.

    Mei-xiang’s lips curved devilishly. She expected him to be like other men, begging her just for a small kiss at their deathbed. Then she would enjoy torturing him by giving him hope then crushing it before delivering her black kiss – the kiss that would give him the most painful yet happiest death.

    Therefore, she was disappointed that the other only blinked his eyes stupidly. She was annoyed but determined to win over his heart first, or was that because she knew that her deceased sisters also had a crush on this young man thus her determination to conquer him when her sisters could not? No woman liked to be refused, especially those who were so confident in their charms. As she was pondering the way to handle this stubborn stranger, he spoke up softly. “I’d like to ask Miss a favor. Could I play one last song on my flute?”

    Mei-xiang cast her eyes at his melancholy face and laughed. “Hmm, am I that naïve to let you use your flute to attack me? My sister, Bamboo Fragrance, was killed with numerous projectiles, proving that you must have them hidden in some object.” She picked up his flute and pointed it playfully toward him. “Isn’t this the weapon you used with her?” Rage instantly filled her chest. Her voice turned harsher, while her fingers were busily searching for a spring on the flute only to hear Fu Nan’s sigh, which only added to her incense.

    After Fu Nan had witnessed the result of his lethal fan, he carefully put it away for fear of carelessly releasing projectiles thus harming people. For this reason, Mei-xiang saw only the flute in his hands and automatically assumed that it was the projectile weapon. However, she failed to find the secret of the flute but after another moment of pondering, she suddenly had an idea and brought the flute to her lips.

    Fu Nan’s face turned ashen. He called out. “Miss, please be careful. You can’t play it.”

    The maiden snickered and reached forward to seal his mute pressure point. “Don’t say anymore. Today, I will let you taste your own medicine. You don’t want me to play this instrument because you are afraid that I will find its secret.” She hummed a tune and waved the flute in front of the other. “This flute will release its projectiles when it’s played, won’t it?” She smiled winningly at Fu Nan’s horrified expression.

    Fu Nan sighed inwardly and could only helplessly watch the young maiden put the flute to her lips and started a song about four seasons. She selected this particular song because it required every note to be played for she figured that the flute would only release the projectile at a certain note. As she reached the highest note, the flute emitted the poison; it flew into her mouth, and before she was aware of it, her last breath was gone.

    In fact, the flute was an ingenious piece of mechanic device equipped with lethal poison. At a certain note with the right energy, it would send out the hidden poison into the mouth of the player, which was rather unusual since everyone would want a secret weapon that would counter enemy, not at himself.

    Originally, Fu Nan had asked to play the flute because he wished for the quick death. At that critical situation, he remembered his uncles’ plights caused by a woman and although he was not clear on their sufferings, he had determined not to let himself be humiliated by the enemy. Who would have thought that Mei-xiang would get suspicious thus brought death onto herself? Fu Nan sighed heavily. He reprimanded himself silently for causing yet another death. ‘The outside world is so vicious. How many more people will I be killing?” He shuddered inwardly while gathering remaining energy to open his pressure point.

    Just as he was concentrating with meditation, he felt a soft hand open his mouth and push something inside his throat. Then the same soft hand presses his acupuncture point to force him to swallow it. Fu Nan opened his eyes and saw a pair of anxious eyes on a lovely face of a young maiden. She smiled timidly at him and quickly sealed a pressure point on his right wrist and took out a short knife from her pocket. Then she turned over his palm and cut the flesh at the center. At once, dark blood came out, and the numbness gradually left his body. When the blood became red, the maiden used her handkerchief to wrap his wound. At that moment, her eyes lifted and met his. She turned red and let go of his hand then fled.

    Fu Nan quickly stood up and chased after her. Her lightness kungfu was only ordinary, so he caught up with her easily even with only twenty percents of his inner power. “Miss, please wait. I would like to thank you for saving my life.”

    The young maiden (Kitty Lai Mei Han) turned around and looked at him nervously. “I have been hiding behind the bush and saw you kill that vicious woman. She was my enemy, so I just did it for repayment. From now, we don’t owe each other.”

    She was about to leave, and Fu Nan hurriedly replied. “Miss is mistaken. I did not kill Miss Mei-xiang. Her death was merely an accident. I shall still have to thank Miss.” He cupped his hands and bowed. At that moment, his knees wobbled and gave in on him. Turned out that he had exerted power just now in chasing this strange maiden too quickly after his recovery from poison. As a result, he felt giddy and lost his footing. The young maiden screamed and rushed to support him. Her arms were around him, and Fu Nan could smell sweet scent from her soft skin before he lost consciousness.

    When he woke up in a cave, the young maiden was kneeling next to him, dabbing his face with damp handkerchief. Her eyes were full of concerns; her pale cheeks were in pink hue as her white hand gently touched his face. Fu Nan slowly blinked his eyes, and the other was red with embarrassment, feeling like a young child being caught at eating cake before dinner. She hastily pulled back her hand and in a process dropped her handkerchief before retreating to a corner of the cave.

    Fu Nan heaved a sigh unwittingly, missing already the tender touch he was experiencing. He saw the handkerchief on the ground and picked it up, casting his eyes on its embroidery with interest. “The chrysanthemums on this handkerchief look so real.” He mentioned and innocently brought it to his nose. “Hmm, it also smells like summer air.” The scent on the cloth was in fact the same scent on the young maiden.

    The other was even redder. Although she wanted her handkerchief back, there was no way she would ask for it from him right now. To hide her shyness, she turned to the fire and ladled up a bowl of hot soup from a steaming pot. She then placed it in front of him and quickly moved back, watching him drinking the whole soup. Fu Nan glanced at her and noticed her wariness. She reminded him of a white rabbit he found in a forest at home – timid yet full of curiosity, and he let out a warm smile that lit up his entire face. The maiden gasped. Somehow, her heart leaped then started to race so fast that she was afraid it would jump outside. At that point, Fu Nan finished the soup and extended the bowl forward, asking for more. With thumping heart, the young maiden took the bowl from him and refilled it with aromatic soup. She repeated the process for three times until finally the other put down the bowl with satisfied smile. “Thank you for the excellent soup.”

    The victual gave him renew energy. Fu Nan felt so refreshing and as strong as ever. He smiled gratefully at her, and she approvingly nodded at him. A man who appreciated her food this much could not be a bad person, she decided. “You are a brave man for not afraid of me poisoning you.”

    Fu Nan wrinkled his nose, and his smile spread widely. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t even think that far. The soup smelled so good, and I was so ravenous. Besides, you could have killed me easily while I was unconscious, not to say that you had given me the antidote thus saved my life.”

    His eyes rested on her fair face with trust. “My uncles often said that the martial realm was full of danger and that I should trust no one, but I think they are wrong for there is at least a friend here for me. You will be my friend, won’t you?” He asked.

    The other’s eyes shone happily like a pair of stars in the sky. Her heart floated. Suddenly, tears poured down her lovely face, and she put her face on her knees to have a good cry. Fu Nan was stunned. He was not used to females to begin with and he mistook that he had said something wrong. With concern, he walked to her and gently dried her eyes with the handkerchief in his hand. “I am sorry. I don’t know how I upset you. Miss, don’t cry.”

    The maiden stopped crying and stared at him with crystal tears still lingering in her eyes. “I was only too happy.” She attempted a smile, and it radiated her beauty like ripples of water in a pond. “It is just that I have never had anyone asking to be my friend before. I have been so lonely.” Her voice shook. “I…my name is Gongsun Zhu-er.” She recalled her life in the past, and she couldn’t help sobbing. Tears flowed anew.

    Pity welled in Fu Nan’s heart. He stepped closer and stroked her hair gently. “Everything is all right now. I’ll be with you from now, and you won’t be lonely again.” He would have used the same sentence to his pets at home, but the maiden took his words to her heart. She grabbed his hands and looked into his eyes strangely. She felt warm and fuzzy inside; her flower-like face was now blooming like a rose amid sunshine. “I won’t be lonely again.” She repeated dreamily.

    Fu Nan did not know differences between men and women and had no idea of proper behavior, so he wrapped his hands around hers and smiled with all friendliness intention. “My name is er…Fu Nan.” He was about to give her a fake name but thought that friendship should be based on honesty. Then he thought of something. “Your last name is Gongsun, so does it mean…?” He didn’t quite finish his sentence when the other nodded quickly.

    “Yes, I am an only niece of the renowned Gongsun Zhi, one of the seven heroes of Kaifeng Court.” Her voice filled with pride.

    Fu Nan recalled his past three encounters with the Fragrance bandits and could not help feeling a bit suspicious, but his gentle nature reigned over his doubt. He nodded. “So that’s why you said that Miss Mei-xiang was your enemy. You must have heard about her sisters faking the names of Justice Bao and Hero Zhan.”

    Gongsun Zhu-er spat at the name. Her eyes dimmed painfully. “My martial arts are way below those witches’ unorthodox skills. Even if I want to take revenge, it was not possible to harm even a strand of their hair.” The tone was bitter. “That day, I have decided to exchange my life with the sly witch although knowing that the chance to win was slim. Luckily, you passed by.” She sighed. “It must be the heaven that sent you to rescue me. I am really the one who should be in your debts.”

    It was an evening, and the cave was dimly lit with the light from a small fire in the middle. Outside, grasshoppers rubbed their wings, making up a tune of a midsummer night. Wild flowers sent out strong fragrance in the dark, but inside the cave, the flower perfume from Gongsun Zhu-er was more intoxicating.

    Some said that women were the most beautiful in their wedding gowns, but in truth, women were most beautiful when they were in love like a flower in bloom that was touched by the soft sunlight. A girl could grow mature, and an old maiden would turn young in one second when in front of their lovers. Alas, beauty was also like flowers that lost their blooms after the sun had passed. When love turned sour, and warm hearts became cold, flowers would wither, and beauty was gone.

    Fu Nan sat comfortably next to the fire with his first friend cuddling by his side. This was the first moment since he had left the valley that he truly felt relaxed and serene. He had many questions for Gongsun Zhu-er but did not want to destroy the peaceful atmosphere, so he just closed his eyes and went to sleep.

    Gongsun Zhu-er gazed at him and smiled. She rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. Her dreams had finally come true today.


    Hope the chapter provided enough excitements till the next chapter.

    I will continue with this story a few more chapters then go back to update the Twins story again. Thank you for all your supports. I truly appreciated it.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bubeng's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002


    Interesting beginning. Hope that Fu Nan will find real friends soon.

    Looking forward to the continuation of the "Twins" story.
    There's a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

  4. #4
    Member Zhen Yu Cao's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Wandering Jiang Hu


    Wow, haven't been in here for awhile ^^. Keep up the great work Jo, I too am also awaiting a continuation of the 'Twins' trilogy ^^.
    Wandering the world,
    Sword in hand,
    Searching for a challenge,
    Begging for a loss...

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002


    another story from Goofy
    Keep up the great work Goofy!

    I guess you're inspired by Justice Bao that you include him in this story anyway...I like Justice Bao also

  6. #6
    Registered User Danielle Lin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    Lolz, Fu Nan is so cute... He's so clueless sometimes he cracks me up

    Wah, he meets three women all in one day, lucky got him. Gongsun Zhu-er seems so nice. But like BuBeng said I hope he meets more friends soon!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001


    Great chapter Goofy!!! I haven't read fanfic for a while. I think I should go back to reading it. I like the medicine "Vow of celibacy." Hehehe.
    "If we are not ashamed to think, we should not be ashamed to say it"
    Marcus T. Cicero

  8. #8
    Junior Member gigglypuff103's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003


    Goofy, why don't you update your fanfics? I'm anxiously awaiting the next chapter update....

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