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The Quest of Heaven and Earth
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool The Quest of Heaven and Earth



    The title might subject to change if anyone would like to give me a better one. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">

    <IMG SRC="smilies/rockband.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/wave.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/wiggle.gif" border="0">

    The Quest of Heaven and Earth
    By Gigi

    Forewords

    After some thought, I decide to write a sequel to my first fan fiction, Legend of the Sword and Saber (http://www.winglin.net/fanfic/swordandsaber). This story will focus on adventures of Tian Xin-er. Some cast from the previous story will reappear along with new ones.

    For this fan fiction, I’d like to dedicate it to Charbydis from Spcnet Forum (or Whirlpool at Winglin site). This past year, Charbydis has given me much support with a lot of idea exchanging on fan fiction and miscellaneous talks on my beloved cat, Gigi. I am much impressed with her excellent writing and always look up to her as a pioneer in fan fiction field at Spcnet.

    Of course, I have made many other new friends through the same interest in fan fiction. To name only a few, those are Winnie, Odie, fanofnoel from Siubing Library and Floodette, WhiteKrane, Kara from Spcnet fan fiction forum. I appreciate their valuable supports and hope that this story would be a token for gratitude to all my readers.

    Lastly, I humbly salute Jin Yong and Gu Long, the two great wuxia authors, who inspired my love for ancient stories and my ideas for details in this fan fiction. (Maybe I should include TVB in the list too, he-he.)

    I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have fun writing it. Please leave any comments for they are important and help me to improve the story along the way.

    P.S. Although containing similar title, this story has nothing to do with the series ‘Legend of Heaven and Earth’.

    <IMG SRC="smilies/clap.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/clap.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/clap.gif" border="0">

    [ September 10, 2002: Message edited by: Goofy ]
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  2. #2
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    Prologue

    Tian Xin-er (Vivian Leung Siu Bing) was standing under a canopy of white orange blossoms. She fingered the delicate petals and smelled their sweet aroma absentmindedly. Spring had returned. Birds were singing merrily in the peaceful atmosphere of the Medicine Forest, and wild animals could be seen frolicking in a spring dance.

    She just turned twenty-one years old a few weeks ago along with her twin brother, Tian Bao. She was visiting him and his wife at the present after returning from the White Pearl Island. Her eldest sister, Tian Xiang-er had returned to her childhood home in the eastern sea with the other members of their family, namely their father Tian Fei, Xiang-er’s mother Yue Ling, and Xiang-er’s husband Di Yi.

    Tomorrow, she would go back to Emei, where she received tutelage from Zhong Xi Shi Tai, the head master of Emei Sect. Tian Xin-er took deep breath and inhaled the fresh scent of orange flowers before skipping back to her reed cottage to prepare for the future journey.

    On her way, she paid a visit to Huang Jiwen (Howie Wong Man Ho), who had been unconscious for almost three years now. Ruyu (Rain Lau Yuk Chui) was inside the cottage, washing her little son’s dirty face. She looked up and smiled at the guest.

    She greeted, “so, you are leaving us tomorrow, eh? Please give my regards to Hero De and his brothers too.” She referred to the three brothers of Wu Dang Sect.

    Tian Xin-er nodded. “I would have loved to stay here a little longer, but Master wants me to participate in the annual tournament at Wu Dang. As it is, I will have to change plan and travel straight to Hubei instead to be there in time. (Author’s note: Hubei Province is where Wu Dang located.)

    She glanced at the senseless Huang Jiwen and sighed. “Xiang-er has looked through her uncle’s collection of medicine books but found nothing that could help brother Huang. Ah Bao is also at his wits’ end.” She patted the other’s hand with sympathy. “But, I’m sure that he will wake up eventually. I’ll pray for that.”

    Ruyu smiled sadly and looked at her son. “I hope so too. He needs to see how his boy has grown.”

    Tian Xin-er wisely changed the subject and chatted a bit more before leaving.

    At dawn the following morning, she departed the serene world of nature and returned to the bustling realm of martial arts.

    Unbeknown to her, the wheel of destiny turned slowly, spinning new adventures that would change her life forever.

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    thank you for reading. <IMG SRC="smilies/read.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  3. #3
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Chapter 1
    The Gathering

    Character List (not in any particular order):
    Tian Xin-er (Vivian Leung Siu Bing)
    Huang Yitao (Felix Wong Yat Wah)
    Tian Xing-xing (Kitty Lai Mei Han)
    Zhong Xi Shi Tai (Idy Chan Yuk Lin)
    De Pang (Liu Kai Chi)
    Man He (Simon Yam Tat Wah)
    Mu Zhen (Sean Lau Ching Wan)

    A staff came forth to meet a sword. A left foot kicked out, followed simultaneously with a hit from the wooden staff. Its opponent lifted his right foot and dodged the kick. Then, he intercepted the coming cane with his long sword. At the same time, his free hand shot out, aiming at its opponent’s chest. The staff owner twisted his torso slightly, avoiding the palm and thrust his weapon at the other. At the same time, the sword stabbed forward at the other’s neck. The staff was longer, so it reached the target first. As a result, the swordsman took a whack right at the chest, and he fell down on the floor. The staff then withdrew, and its owner offered his hands to help his opponent up.

    The swordsman stood up and bowed to the cane owner. Then, he left the arena back to his clan.

    “Master Mo from Heavenly Eagle Clan is defeated by Elder Bai of Beggar Association.” A man of late forties stepped forward and announced. He was tall and muscular with short beard. His head held high, but his sad eyes betrayed some unhappy memory. This was the fourth brother of Wu Dang, Master Mu Zhen.

    “Who would like to challenge Elder Bai in the next round?” Mu Zhen asked pugilists who sat around the stage. Many shook their heads. Beggar Association’s Dog Beating Stick technique truly deserved its long-time fame. Just when Mu Zhen was about to repeat his invitation, a young lady stepped forward and courteously cupped her hands.

    “Elder Bai’s Dog Beating Stick technique is really superb. I, Tian Xing-xing from Sword South School would like to take a few pointers from Elder. Please pardon my boldness.”

    Elder Bai smiled proudly. He took a look at the pretty figure opposite and replied indulgently. “Of course. It is a duty for the olds to teach new generations. Miss is Hero Tian’s goddaughter, so I am sure that Miss has received a direct tutoring from your godfather; therefore, Miss Tian’s kung fu cannot be bad.” He meant that if he was to be a winner, the Beggar Association’s martial skills would be considered higher than those from Sword South School; thus, the Beggar Association’s status would come up at the same level as the renowned Sword South School.

    The Beggar Association had deteriorated significantly since the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. The once highly respected clan was now reduced to a low status in the martial realm due to consecutive unskillful leaders. Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms had already become a legend, and only some of Dog Beating Stick techniques survived. To restore the clan’s glory, Elder Bai could not afford losing to this girl.

    Tian Xing-xing understood his intention but smiled back humbly. She spoke in clear voice. “Few martial arts that I know are not that worthy to be compared with those of my godfather’s. I am but a stupid girl, managed only one of the hundredth part of the school’s various skills.” By saying this, even if she lost to the old man, the Sword South School would not lose its reputation, and Elder Bai would not be able to claim his fame as intended. On the other hand, if she won, the Beggar Association would definitely lose face, and its status would surely go down another step.

    Elder Bai of course took the hint. He grunted and wordlessly started an attack, using Dog Beating Stick series. Although he did not master all the available technique, being the next one in line for the leadership position, he naturally comprehended a few stances. Elder Bai was a bony man with long, untidy hair, clothed in traditional beggar outfit with several bags indicating his seniority attached at various places. His skin was shriveled, and he had an all-the-time hungry look. Quite the reverse, he was immensely strong. His inner power was not high, but he was fast and always gained the upper hand by attacking first. He usually managed to beat his opponent due to the fact that nobody would suspect the true strength from this starved looking man.

    Tian Xing-xing dodged the coming staff with agility and countered with the Maiden Sword series. Her stances were so graceful and pleasant to the eyes that Elder Bai could not help but enthralled by this beautiful sword display. Dog Beating Stick technique was originally designed for rough barbarians, enemies of China. How could it dare to ‘beat’ this angelic maiden’s dance-like steps?

    In his trance, Tian Xing-xing saw that his upper abdomen had been left unguarded. Therefore, she executed a move ‘Maiden scatters petals of flowers’, stabbing swiftly toward the other’s stomach. Elder Bai did not prepare for the attack and only had time to step backward a half step. With quick reflex, he lifted his staff to meet the coming blade, but the sword had already changed its direction and covered his entire upper body by that time. Wherever the old beggar moved his weapon to defend himself, the sword would already change its position just in time and aim at his other vital points instead. At this point, beads of sweat gathered on the old man’s forehead. His pallid face became paler. In an attempt to evade the young woman’s sword tip, he had to bend down and rolled away on the floor. Even then, the sword touched his shoulder and would have penetrated his thin rag if Tian Xing-xing had pressed it harder with her inner energy.

    The spectators around the arena could not help admiring Tian Xing-xing’s elegant movements. Powerful kung fu display was hard to find, but aesthetic execution of martial arts was even rarer. Each pair of eyes absorbed the beauty in front and felt that Miss Tian deserved to win even if she were actually a defeated one. Some unconsciously clapped his hands, and some acclaimed a praise aloud.

    Elder Bai got up from the dusty ground and shamefully bowed to the young woman, admitting his defeat. He then returned red faced to his clan. Today, the Beggar Association truly lost its stand in the martial society.

    Tian Xing-xing returned his bow and remained in the arena, waiting for a new opponent. Just then, someone from the audiences snorted.

    “The Maiden Sword is merely a trick to bewitch old men and young bachelors. This technique is based on dance steps; therefore, it is no surprise that every move is elegant and graceful. However, if used seriously against a powerful opponent, the outcome would indeed be different. Sword God only created this skill to entertain his wife, yet his students misunderstood his intention and dared to call this harmless sword dance the top kung fu. Ho-ho.”

    All eyes turned to the speaker, who was actually an old woman with silver hair. Her face was full of pox marks, and her eyes were crossed. Her back bent a little as she wobbled forward. Next to her was a young man about twenty-five, twenty-six years old, clad in a gray robe. The man was tanned, and his face was void of expression.

    Tian Xing-xing frowned but retained her good manner. “Elder was right about the Maiden Sword’s history, but it is far from being harmless. I am just an unworthy practitioner, so I cannot be a good example of its power. However, I am ready to receive your instruction.” She bowed to the old woman, challenging her in mild tone.

    The old woman snickered. She nodded to the young man who was at her side and spoke coldly.

    “If you want a proof, Yang-er (Author’s note: Er is a term of endearment, different meaning from that in Tian Xin-er’s name.), show this young lady the real kung fu, will you?”

    The young man nodded silently and stepped into the contest ring. He cupped his hands and bowed graciously at Tian Xing-xing then waited for her attack.

    Tian Xing-xing was curious. She asked, “may I have your respectful name, Sir?”

    The old woman chuckled. “He will have no dealing with you after that, why the need to know him? His name is Shu if you really want to know. Now, go ahead and fight him.”

    Tian Xing-xing flushed slightly. She realized that any listeners could have misunderstood that she inquired this man’s name because she was interested in him. Without further questions, she moved forth with ‘Maiden spins golden thread’ and followed with ‘Maiden throws silver needles’. These two stances were her most favorite ones for they complemented each other. Even if one move were blocked, an opponent would not be able to intercept the other in time. In view of the old woman’s rude reference to her grand teacher, Sword God, and her godfather, Tian Xing-xing decided to end the combat as quick as possible to prove the Maiden Sword’s prowess.

    Unexpectedly, the young man did not try to block or avoid the sword. Smoothly, he angled his sword toward her left shoulder. Tian Xing-xing had to jump to the right before assuming her attack. Again, the sword from the young man went to another opening point. Tian Xing-xing had to hastily withdraw her weapon to defend herself just before the opponent’s sword tip could have touched her neck. In this manner, she was still unable to come close to him even after thirty moves. She began to worry inwardly.

    ‘This Shu man seemed to know all about my technique. He could predict my move and my weak point. I cannot beat him, but if I admit a defeat now, won’t the reputation of Sword South School be ruined? I can’t afford to lose my godfather’s face here.’

    Tian Xing-xing gritted her teeth and increased her speed. Nimbly, she wove around him; her sword was like lightning, swift and powerful. Without blinking his eyes, the young man stabbed his sword in one thrust at her chest. Tian Xing-xing automatically brought the sword forward before realizing that it was a trick. She suddenly cried out and let the sword fall from her hand. Happened that she was stabbed at the right wrist. She heard the old woman’s mocking laugh and turned crimson.

    ‘Sorry, Godfather. I have shamed you in front of these people.’ Blood was flowing from her wound, but she paid no attention to it. Weakly, she walked back to her seat. All hearts went to her, and everyone secretly criticized the young man for being too rough.

    Mu Zhen raised his eyebrows at the two strangers. He was the one who sent out invitations for this gathering and could not recall their names. He pondered on their origin while cupping his hands.

    “May I have the respectful title of the Elder?”

    Despite his repeated inquiry, the old woman pretended not to hear his question. Instead, she grinned contentedly at the young man. “Ah Yang, you did very well. Your grandmother is very proud of you.”

    The young man’s face lit up for one second before he resumed his unemotional mask.

    Mu Zhen could not wrangle the truth from this old woman without making a big deal out of it, so he gave up for now and turned to admonish the young man slightly.

    “This is a friendly contest, not a fierce war. Please stop your weapon when it touches your opponent or when the outcome seems definite.” He then announced, “Master Shu is a winner this round. Would anyone want to challenge him?” He glanced at Emei Sect then rested his eyes at Sword South School.

    The old woman laughed. “Not only the Maiden Sword is a childish trick, I can also prove that Sword South School’s name is just empty air. My grandson’s martial arts here are only so-so, but I guarantee that he can defeat all the sword techniques of Sword God.”

    This was a direct insult, and a young gentleman who had been standing under the Sword South School’s flag marched forward to accept a challenge. He was Huang Yitao, the first godson of Liu Tong’s, who was Sword God’s third student. Huang Yitao was a man in late twenties with muscular build and honest face. He had a good manner, so although he was displeased at the other’s arrogance, he greeted his elder civilly before turning to Master Shu.

    “I am a student of Sword South School and would like to be advised on my sword skills.”

    The old woman squinted at Huang Yitao and parted her lips in a scornful smile. “You must be the first Huang brother, a godson to Liu Tong, a martial brother to that young lady. Your younger brother, Huang Jiwen, was now still asleep, afraid to wake up to face his crime of attacking a person in the back. Such coward deed for a hero from Sword South School, hmm.”

    Huang Yitao and Man He were taken aback upon hearing that. The incident that happened three years ago at Wu Dang that caused Huang Jiwen’s coma was only known to his close friends and immediate family. How could this strange old lady know of certain details, misinterpreted though might be, that happened that day?

    Three years ago, Huang Jiwen was hit with Black Devil’s ‘Black Cloud Palm’. He was revived and sent to rest in a nursery where Ah Zhu was taking care of her baby son at the time. Unexpectedly, Man He and Huang Jiwen found her fighting with a weird monk from Love Palace. Man He then immediately tried to rescue his wife and son, but the enemy was stronger than he was. At the critical moment when they were on the verge of losing, Huang Jiwen, who was lying sick on the floor, had no choice but to throw a knife at the monk’s back although he felt obliged to yell a warning to the other first. The dagger struck at the monk’s shoulder, stopping the killing in time. Nonetheless, much to everyone’s surprise and Huang Jiwen’s disconcert, the weapon had been dipped in poison by Ruyu earlier. As a result, the monk suffered a severe injury, but he managed to escape eventually. Soon after that, Huang Jiwen lost his consciousness and had not yet woken since.

    Despite Man He and Ah Zhu’s consolation, Huang Jiwen felt bad till the end for this improper conduct of his. He spent the short time he had writing a letter to his elder brother, confessing his sin and asking Huang Yitao to rescue his wife Ruyu from Black Devil’s hands. Then, he went into a deep sleep.

    Huang Yitao turned crimson at the mention of his younger brother. Nonetheless, he cupped his hand to the old woman with silver hair and responded politely.

    “Elder’s knowledge is vast, but I must humbly say that the interpretation is incorrect. My younger brother had no choice at the time, but he did shout a warning beforehand. The situation was desperate, and he tried to save three lives. How could that not be considered a heroic deed then?”

    Man He stepped forward to support the other’s words. “First master Huang is right. I was at the event and can attest to that. Without Master Huang Jiwen’s intervention, I and my family would have perished three years ago.”

    The old woman grunted but did not answer. She turned to her grandson and ordered him to fight to his utmost. The young man silently nodded and bowed back to Huang Yitao, ready for a combat. He expected his opponent to start with the famous ‘Eagle’ sword series; therefore, he was surprised to see a new move, which was the other’s new invention ‘White Jasmine Sword’ in honor to Lu Tingli, the woman Huang Yitao loved. (Author’s note: Tingli means white jasmine.)

    He looked uncertain for a moment, but his grandmother reminded him. “Yang-er, all moves come from the same root. He is from Sword South School, so he has to use the stances he had learned regardless of the variation.”

    Her advice shook him out of the reverie, and he countered Huang Yitao’s White Jasmine Sword effectively. With fast blade, he adeptly surrounded the other with powerful thrusts. He avoided direct attack at first in order to study the other’s sword moves. Within a hundred moves, he was able to figure out the technique’s weak point. After that, he quickly disarmed Huang Yitao and eventually injured the other’s right hand.

    To the old woman’s delight, Huang Yitao admitted his defeat and withdrew from the fighting ring. All viewers though were not pleased with the result could not help admiring the young man’s sword skills. Each looked at one another, wondering who could possibly get the better of these two strangers.

    The old woman glanced around gleefully and spoke up. “You all see now that my words are true. Sword South School is really overrated.”

    At that point, a young maiden in light yellow blouse stepped from behind her master. She said hotly.

    “How could you claim of such nonsense statement when there are still many more skilled people from Sword South School out there? Just because your grandson has won the last two rounds, it doesn’t mean that he will in the next one. I would like to dare him in a sword fight.”

    Everyone grasped at the sight of hers. Even the sky seemed bluer and the sun seemed brighter to view her beauty at the utmost. Her skin glowed radiantly with youth and healthiness. Every feature on her face was perfect and complemented one another. Her voice was clear and sweet, reminding ones of bird singing.

    The older woman looked at the maiden and scoffed. “So, you must be one of Tian Fei’s daughters. I heard that he had a very beautiful wife yet he abandoned her to be with his half-mad sister-in-law till she was pregnant. Finally, his wife died from grief, and his sister-in-law blinded herself because of shame. Which sister are you the daughter to, may I ask?” Her tone was condescending.

    She spoke so convincingly and confidently as if she had the insight knowledge of the Tian family. On the contrary, she intentionally twisted the fact so that the young lady in yellow would look ridiculous and the Sword South School would further lose its face in front of other pugilists. As predicted, the maiden was livid; she was about to lash out but was warned gently by her master.

    “Xin-er, she intentionally tried to anger you.” Zhong Xi Shi Tai softly whispered to her disciple, touching the other’s hands calmly.

    Tian Xin-er realized that her master was right and accordingly swallowed the bitter retort, but the insult was directed to her parents and her aunt, and she had a duty to defend their good names. Therefore, she controlled her temper and quietly replied to the older woman clearly.

    “My name is Tian Xin-er, and I am a daughter of Hero Tian Fei and Mistress Yue Feng’s. Your idle talk is only suited for the gossip among old shrews because it contained no truth at all. My aunt, Yue Ling, is a person of virtue. She became blinded from saving a life of my master-uncle Chu Lianhua. (Author’s note: I have found from a reliable source that there was no gender separation for master’s martial sister and martial brother.) My mother was killed by Lu Peng, the Evil Sword Wang Shan’s first disciple. Since you claimed that the Sword South School is nothing, how about my dueling with your grandson to prove that you are wrong?”

    She didn’t raise her voice, but everyone heard her perfectly, showing her high inner power. The old woman paled a little but cunningly replied. “So, you are an Emei’s disciple. Which school’s kung fu would you use then? Are you going to favor the Maiden Sword over the Butterfly Sword and show that Emei indeed is inferior to the Sword South School?”

    Actually, since the issue concerned the Sword South School, it was right for Tian Xin-er to use the school’s sword arts to defend its name. Nevertheless, after this sly statement, how could she justify doing so without losing Emei’s face? Tian Xin-er knitted her eyebrows in deep thought and did not notice that two young men had stepped into the ring. They were Hua Shan’s junior apprentices named Master Hua and Master Yue.

    This annual tournament was a yearly gathering of all pugilists from orthodox groups. At the event, they exchanged news, introduced their recent disciples, and organized friendly contest with one another. This tradition had been neglected for many years mainly due to conflicts with Love Palace Sect in the beginning. Then, in the latter years, many martial groups had significantly declined over the lost of their prominent leaders in the grand battles at Wu Dang three years ago.

    Hua Shan Sect, for instance, had lost Master Fan, who was rumored to be a servant to Love Palace and a supporter of the foreign enemy. Although the sect could still hold certain respectability due to its long years of high status in the martial realm, it had lost quite some face and had been keeping quiet in disgrace. However, Hua Shan was now on the road to recovery, so it decided to participate in this particular event to announce its pledge of loyalty for the Imperial Family.

    Although this gathering seemed a friendly meeting among the pugilists, the actual purpose was to assemble brave men and women to fight against the foreign power. Seeing how hopeless the Imperial Court was concerning this matter, De Pang, the first Wu Dang brother decided to take things in his own hands.

    Three years ago, De Pang got hold of the documents that implied Eunuch Cao’s (Kwan Hoi San) liaison with the Manchurian army. He had presented the said paper to the Emperor’s supporters of high rank positions but still failed to bring down the true culprit of this intrigue. Through various tricks, Eunuch Cao smoothly talked his way out of the blames and instead passed his sins onto his subordinate, Eunuch Xu.

    As a result, Wu Dang now became the number one enemy of the Cao’s web of power for Eunuch Cao had come out of the incident as dominant as even in the Imperial Court. The Emperor was more or less under his thumb and only interested in personal pleasure, letting his nation deteriorate with corruption of those evil officials. The nation was in turmoil, and the citizens were the ones who suffered.

    Realizing the crisis too well, De Pang and his two brothers offered to host this tournament in hope of recruiting the patriots for the time of need. In addition, they wanted this occasion to be a merry one in place of the horrific memory on the encounter with Love Palace three springs ago.

    Master Hua was reproaching the young man at the present.

    “You seem to be so sure of yourself, and this time, you want to bully even Emei, eh? Let us teach you some manner of a gentleman and hear your apology to Miss Tian.”

    Turned out both men were impressed with Tian Xin-er’s beauty and wanted to act chivalrously to gain her admiration. They realized that individually they could not overcome this Master Shu, but together, they would be stronger in power and able to hold up against the opponent easily with their Hua Shan’s sword arts that they were proud of. Actually, their combined skills were quite powerful, but they were still below Huang Yitao’s kung fu level. Hence, Hua Shan apprentices were beaten in fifty moves and had to return to their sect miserably.

    Tian Xin-er frowned upon observing the scene. She was not aware of both youngsters’ infatuation of her and only thought that they merely wanted to seek fame for themselves. However, the delay gave her time to figure the plan. Accordingly, she turned to the old woman and smartly quoted the elder.

    “As you said, since ‘all moves come from the same root’, it really doesn’t matter whether I utilize the Maiden Sword or the Butterfly Sword. I am a disciple of Emei, but today I will fight in the name of Tian.

    Thus, she cleverly avoided the conflict and proclaimed her cause at the same time.
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    Without ado, she wielded a sword and executed a series of moves, and the audiences held their breath in wonder. If Tian Xing-xing was like a fairy with the Maiden Sword, Tian Xin-er could only be compared with the Seven Goddesses dancing in front of the Jade Emperor of the Heaven Realm. She was that elegant and graceful aside from her natural beauty. Added to that, her sword technique was bizarre and unidentifiable.

    Tian Xin-er had learned from Huang Yitao and Tian Xing-xing’s defeats and realized that the young man clothed in gray was well familiar with the Sword South School’s techniques. With what she had learned from her father, Tian Fei, she was not confident that she could win with martial skills from the Sword South School alone. At the same time, she couldn’t afford to rely totally on Emei’s sword technique since that would not restore the face of her father and his school. After some consideration, she had a brilliant idea that led to these strange sword stances.

    Zhong Xi Shi Tai raised her eyebrows then understood what her first disciple meant to do. ‘Xin-er is a smart and talented girl. She will come out all right.’ She smiled fondly and began to relax.

    Mu Zhen frowned bafflingly and whispered to Man He. “Third brother, what the sword technique is Miss Tian using? I don’t recall seeing any of them before. Would that be something new she has learned at the White Pearl Island?”

    Man He thought for a moment and replied softly. “Could this be the Shadow technique of Master and Madam Di’s?” Then, he shook his head. “I can’t really say because I am not familiar with their kung fu. Fourth brother, you have spent some time with them before and probably have observed lots of their sword displays. What do you think?”

    Tian Xin-er’s sister and brother-in-law, Tian Xiang-er and Di Yi, had created a series of moves combined from the Maiden Sword and the Butterfly Sword and called it ‘Yong Yi Sword’. Later, they added a saber technique into the set and renamed it ‘Shadow of Sword and Saber’ or known as the Shadow technique.

    Mu Zhen reconsidered Tian Xin-er’s moves but still could not identify them. He in turn shook his head. “I have no idea. Technically, Miss Tian should have used the Sword South School’s sword arts in this duel, but she is also Emei’s disciple, so that is why I thought she might resort to the Yong Yi Sword that her sister had invented with Master Di. However, this is not it either.”

    He turned to his eldest martial brother and asked his opinion. De Pang, a benevolent man about fifty years old, was known as ‘Child Face Hero’ due to his beardless face and his guileless smiles. Without taking his eyes off the duel in front, De Pang caught Mu Zhen’s right hand and wrote on the palm, ‘backward’ with his fingers. He then praised Tian Xin-er aloud.

    “This young lady’s future in the martial realm will be bright indeed. If I am not mistaken, ten years from now, she will have no one worth fighting with, even me.” His voice boomed across the area, and other audiences started to echo the praise too. Each thought that Tian Xin-er must really be a special person if the first brother of Wu Dang De Pang took an interest to. From a stunning beauty, Tian Xin-er now was also regarded as the heroine fighter. Sound of encouragement to her was buzzing throughout the arena.

    Mu Zhen smiled at his first brother’s psychological strategy. He pondered over the hint De Pang had given him and suddenly understood. He then showed the hint to Man He and found that his third brother also arrived at the same conclusion as he did. Both Mu Zhen and Man He couldn’t help but admired Tian Xin-er’s ingenuity and inwardly cheered for the young maiden’s victory.

    Master Shu was in hot water despite his grandmother’s constant advice. All his life, he had been taught how to defeat the sword technique of the Sword South School. Using that discipline, he could also overcome the other sect’s kung fu. However, this time, he found neither rhyme nor reason in his opponent’s movement. Some slower moves reminded him of the Maiden Sword although not quite, but most of the time, the rest was just jumble of moves, unpredictable but fierce and fatal all the same.

    Moreover, the buzzing from the observers started to annoy him. Their compliments of Tian Xin-er dampen his spirits not a little. He could not hear his grandmother that well among all the hubbubs, not to say that he needed to concentrate on avoiding the haphazard thrusts from his opponent.

    In the beginning, Tian Xin-er only tried to confuse her opponent by executing the Butterfly Sword backward. However, as she saw how bewildered the other became, she recalled her brother-in-law’s word, ‘kung fu without stances cannot show the weak points’. She then inspired to throw in some moves of the Maiden Sword at random and some saber techniques backward. The more her opponent was puzzled, the more she threw in whatever move came into her mind. In this manner, she struck when the other didn’t expect her to and at some unlikely places.

    If she had fought with some other person who processed higher internal strength, her technique might not have worked. However, to her delight, Tian Xin-er discovered that the other was only good with sword technique and lacked high inner power. Using this weak point of his to her advantage, she coupled her strange technique with the powerful force that she once received from her grand-master, Xun Ci Shi Tai, thus made him retreat more and more.

    Gentle breeze of the spring didn’t cool Master Shu down. He narrowly dodged a coming stab and backed his steps further. Suddenly, he found himself at the edge of the arena. Behind him was a cluster of trees. In front of him, a sword was waving madly toward his body.

    At that moment, Tian Xin-er took out a short sword from her waist with her left hand and brought forth toward her opponent’s weapon. At the same time, the long sword in her right hand caught the other’s sword. Her short sword then locked the opponent’s blade from the other side. She then pressed forward her inner energy, and the middle sword broke in half. The audiences gasped with awe. For a moment, no one dared to make a sound.

    Tian Xin-er strong inner power ran through the shattered half-piece that remained in the other’s hand. Master Shu felt numb and could not hold his half sword. ‘Clank,’ it fell down on the ground and hit the other half-broken metal, sending the vibration to the quiet air. Then, the whole place was deafened with loud sheers from audiences. Sword South School’s reputation was saved, and Emei Sect was showered with congratulations on a brilliant disciple.

    While Mu Zhen was announcing the winner, Man He was discussing Tian Xin-er’s technique with his first martial brother, De Pang. “First brother, I recognized the Butterfly Sword backward, but what else did she use?”

    De Pang smiled. “Is that really matter? Miss Tian understood that the young man was good at finding an opponent’s vulnerable points, so she threw in stances that were not like stances, moves that were not moves. How could one detect the weakness in those illogical movements? Hero Tian is indeed blessed with talented children, and Zhong Xi Shi Tai was wise to accept this young lady as her first disciple.”

    Mu Zhen nodded in agreement and turned his eyes to the old lady who was protesting bitterly that Tian Xin-er was using a dirty tactic.

    “She was using heretic sword skills instead of those from her sect or from her father. That shouldn’t count toward defending her family’s name as she has claimed earlier.”

    Tian Xin-er laughed like a bell. She good-naturedly explained to the humiliating pair. “Elder, both martial arts from Emei and Sword South School are too vast for outsiders to comprehend; how can you say that I did not use them in this fight? I indeed used the Maiden Sword and the Butterfly Sword in the duel but with backward moves. Then, I finally broke Master Shu’s sword with my father’s ‘Heavenly Finger’ technique, substituting my two weapons as two fingers. There was nothing heretic in my movement at all. Now, I proved that you are wrong, and that Sword South School truly processed the strong sword arts.”

    Everyone murmured an agreement to her statement and applauded loudly. The older woman gave a humph but could not find answer to that. She grunted angrily and walked away rapidly. Her grandson followed hurriedly behind after cupping his hands and bowing to Tian Xin-er by way of an apology.

    Mu Zhen was about to chase after them, intending to know their identities, but was held back by De Pang.

    “Let them go, fourth brother. They lost their face and cannot reappear very soon. I don’t want to create more conflicts on this special day.”

    Tian Xin-er bowed around to fellow pugilists outside the ring and returned to her position behind Zhong Xi Shi Tai who welcomed her with a warm smile.

    “You did very well, Xin-er. Your father would have been pleased.”

    Tian Xin-er grinned back. She suddenly felt a little sad because she was thinking along the same line just to realize that she really meant her brother-in-law instead of her father.

    The tournament ended for the time being, and Mu Zhen signaled to servants to serve hot tea and sweetmeats to all guests.
    --------------------
    A long chapter to begin with. <IMG SRC="smilies/blush.gif" border="0"> Please leave feedbacks. Please let me know if there is anything that should be changed. I am trying to make a good start here. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0">

    [ August 11, 2002: Message edited by: Goofy ]
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  4. #4
    Senior Member MYF's Avatar
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    <IMG SRC="smilies/clap.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/thumbsup.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0"> ,

    Sifu (can i call you that?) 'Gor Yeun Ming But Hui Cheun' - your name is rightfully famed.

    Glad to know that the legend of sword and sabre is continuing <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">

    Personally, I don't think there is anything you need to change in this chapter (it's too good). But then again, your humble apprentice is not worthy to suggest change <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0">
    my right arm slams shut

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    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    <IMG SRC="smilies/redface.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/blush.gif" border="0"> he-he. I think we will all end up relate with everyone else here.

    I can only be your sister in writing if you would give me that honor. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> A sifu would be too much for evidently your writing is very advanced already.

    anyway, hope the story wouldn't be too confusing for the new readers. I don't want to refer too much on the other story, but also want to give the readers some background too. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

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    <IMG SRC="smilies/rockband.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/ninja.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0">

    Chapter 2
    Kidnapping

    Character List (not in any particular order):
    Tian Xin-er (Vivian Leung Siu Bing)
    Huang Yitao (Felix Wong Yat Wah)
    Tian Xing-xing (Kitty Lai Mei Han)
    Ah Zhu (Yeung Pan Pan)
    Zhong Xi Shi Tai (Idy Chan Yuk Lin)
    De Pang (Liu Kai Chi)
    Man He (Simon Yam Tat Wah)
    Mu Zhen (Sean Lau Ching Wan)

    During the break, Tian Xin-er called on Tian Xing-xing and Huang Yitao, who had just their wounds taken care of inside the building. She smiled humbly when her two seniors commended on her martial skills and quickly changed the subject to the news of her siblings.

    “Guess what? We both are going to be aunts pretty soon. Both Zhiying and Xiang-er are pregnant! I’m so exciting for them.” She informed the other two and giggled happily.

    Zhan Zhiying was Tian Xin-er’s sister-in-law, a wife to Tian Bao, and Tian Xiang-er was the Tian Xin-er and Tian Bao’s eldest sister, a wife to Di Yi. (Author’s note: Readers can read more about them in the prequel – Legend of the Sword and Saber.)

    Tian Xing-xing was pink with excitement. She smiled wistfully. “Too bad that I am afraid of sea voyage. Otherwise, I would have been there to take care of Xiang-er. Is Second-mother’s cold better? Did she remember to keep warm?” She asked after Yue Ling, Tian Xin-er’s aunt who was called ‘Second-mother’ by every member of the Tian family from love and respect.

    Tian Xin-er nodded. She talked fondly of her aunt, who she always regarded as her own mother.

    “Second-mother is fine and healthier than ever. The air at the White Pearl Island seems to agree with her so much that Father really considered relocating there for the sake of her health. Xiang-er and Ah Yi also decide to stay there for the time being until the delivery time. Ah Yi has just found a midwife to take back to the island with him when he accompanied me to the shore.” She then mischievously asked her god-sister.

    “Although you can’t go to White Pearl Island, you can always go to the Medicine Forest instead. Or are you still afraid of Ah Bao’s bitter herb?”

    Tian Xing-xing smacked her younger god-sister playfully. “You are making fun of me. I am more concerned of Xiang-er because I know that she doesn’t have the best doctor in the world like Ah Bao at the island. Medicine Forest is the ideal place for a baby to be born, not to say that Ah Bao would take good care of his wife medically. I will be no use there compared to being with Xiang-er and Second-mother.”

    Huang Yitao who had been listening to the sisters’ talk in silent couldn’t help smiling. He spoke out slowly. “Sister Xing-xing’s reason is logical, but I tend to think that sister Xin-er is more correct. Ever since Ah Bao has diagnosed sister Xing-xing of being too thin and has prescribed her some herbal medicine, she seems to hesitate in meeting him so soon.”

    Tian Xing-xing replied without thinking. “But that medicine is so bitter! And I was not really sick.” She shuddered at the thought of the bitter taste of the herbs then turned crimson. “Both of you are teasing me!” She pouted prettily.

    Tian Xin-er laughed like a bell. She cupped her hands and apologized to the older maiden. “All right, we won’t mention about your fear of Ah Bao’s medicine again. I’ll buy you some candies to make up for my rudeness.” She tried to look miserable but looked comically instead. “Miss Tian, please pardon this country girl’s manner.”

    Tian Xing-xing giggled and bowed back to the younger girl. “Xin-er, you can always make me laugh no matter what.” She understood that her god-sister meant to make her forget about her defeat to Master Shu. She added, “but I won’t refuse your offer of sweet candies.”

    She turned to Huang Yitao. “And tomorrow, you can buy us girls a meal at the most famous restaurant in Hubei.”

    Her god-sister clapped her hands in agreement. “Yeah! Brother Huang should feed us for this rare meeting. We would be honored to be your guests.”

    Huang Yitao wrinkled his nose and threw his arms in desperation. “Sister Xing-xing, you seem to receive more influence from sister Xin-er than that she has received from you. I am but a poor guy with a little daughter to feed. You are merely robbing a ghost here. However, since the two most beautiful maidens have flattered me with this task, I will have to give the best feast even if I have to sell my soul.”

    The three youths’ laughter echoed in that small room. As wise men said, happiness often foreshadowed a tragedy. Clear sky often appeared before a big storm.

    Just then, they heard a screaming and sound of running footsteps. The three emerged from their room to see Man He and his wife, Ah Zhu, talking to a trembling maid.

    “Y-young m-master and young miss were carried away by a b-bi-g m-o-mo-n-k.” The maid was reporting to the worried couple before collapsing. Her shoulder had a large gash like being torn by a big claw.

    Huang Yitao cried out with concern; his face was white as sheet. “What happened? Is Tingli all right?” Huang Tingli was his three-years-old daughter. He had asked Ah Zhu to take care of his daughter aside from her young son during the tournament. He looked at the pale couple and repeated his question worriedly.

    Ah Zhu’s face was full of tears. “Master Huang, I only stepped out of the room for a few minutes to make some soup for the children. Who would have thought that some villain would dare to kidnap my son and your daughter from Wu Dang?” She grabbed her husband’s sleeves. “What shall we do, Man He?”

    Man He was no less anxious than the others were, but he kept calm. “There is only one kidnapper according to the maid, and he couldn’t go that far with two children in this short time. We will all separate to different exits to search for them. I’ll go to the southern gate. Leave some signs if you find any clue at all.” He gave a quick order to a servant to inform De Pang and Mu Zhen and turned to cup his hands at the three guests. Then, he ran out toward the southwest direction.

    Huang Yitao wordlessly headed to the north with Tian Xin-er at his heels, while Tian Xing-xing and Ah Zhu hurried to the third gate in the east using their light kung fu; all hearts were afraid for children’s safety.

    At the foot of the mountain, Huang Yitao and Tian Xin-er halted. They saw two figures leaning against an old tree. Each was holding a child.

    Huang Yitao shouted with delight. “Tingli, Ah Shan!” He then recognized the two figures as the old woman with silver hair and pox marks and her grandson, Master Shu. Frowning angrily, he brought out his sword and leaped in front of the pair.

    “Elder, why did you have to kidnap my daughter and her playmate? Children are innocent, no need to involve them in your bickering with us. Please return them to me.” He was ready to rescue his beloved daughter.

    The older woman smiled calmly. She rebuked him in gentle voice. “Where is your gentleman manner, Hero Huang?” She put a little girl down. Her grandson followed her example and let go a boy in his hands. “In fact, we have just rescued them from a weird monk. He was about to eat them alive.”

    Huang Yitao bent to pick us his daughter with one hand and the boy with another. He surveyed both children and rested his eyes at the little girl with love. “Are you all right, Tingli? Did they try to hurt you?” He began to calm down once his only child was back in his arms.

    Tian Xin-er poked Huang Yitao’s unwounded arm and pointed at a body on the ground nearby. “That looks like a monk. Could he be the real kidnapper?”

    Huang Yitao gave his daughter to Tian Xin-er and walked toward the lifeless form in a monk robe. It was a large man with one arm and long hair. He had bushy eyebrows and shriveled skin. His open eyes were hollowed, and black blood was oozing from his nose and his lips.

    Huang Yitao examined the corpse and spoke thoughtfully. “Hmm, I have never seen him before, but he fit the description of the weird monk that swore vengeance on Jiwen three years ago. I remember Madam Man once said that that mysterious attacker wanted to eat her infant boy.” He looked up at the old lady. “And Elder here mentioned that he was about to consume Tingli and Ah Shan.”

    He sighed with relief then cupped his hands at the old woman. “Elder, thank you for saving these two children. Please forgive my rude manner a few minutes ago. I was worried for my daughter, so I was a bit too hasty. Please accept my gratitude.” He bowed low to the other courteously.

    Tian Xin-er also gave the two strangers a polite bow. “Yes, please pardon our misunderstanding earlier.” She saw a deep cut on the young man’s right arm and immediately asked. “Master Shu, are you hurt?” She brought out Emei’s Jade Bee ointment and told the man to apply it on the wound.

    The grandmother replied mockingly. “Of course, if you have not broken his sword, he would not have been hurt by this despicable villain.” She stared sharply at the two youngsters. “I don’t want the words that are full of air. You owe me these two young lives. How would you pay for them?”

    Tian Xin-er paused from taking out a bottle that contained Snow Lotus powder and looked up at her senior. “But Master Shu’s injury didn’t really deter him from using poison to kill an enemy.” She recalled the old woman’s scorn at Huang Jiwen earlier during the tournament and couldn’t help remarking based on her observation.

    The other understood the hidden meaning too well and crossly grunted. “Hmm, such an ingratitude and saucy girl.” She turned to Huang Yitao. “Master Huang, I am old and weak. My grandson is severely wounded and unable to protect even himself. If Miss Tian and you would just lash out your swords now, nobody would be the wiser on this little incident, and you will no longer have a debt to think of.” Her tone was sarcastic.

    Huang Yitao blushed. He repeatedly bowed to her. “Elder must be joking. We would never dare to think of such crime, let alone committing it. I truly owe Elder and Master Shu and am ready to die at your command.”

    The old woman laughed and said, “ha-ha. What would I do with the death? Besides, you are only one person. I saved two lives, small children though they may be. Children grow, while adult ages. Don’t you think that I got a rather unfair deal here?”

    Tian Xin-er felt annoyed. She realized that the other was merely playing with them, but she had no choice but to bow to her elder again. “If Elder wishes, I will help pay the debt.”

    Huang Yitao immediately protested. “No, she should not be involved. Elder, this young boy’s father is Hero Man He of Wu Dang. Let me take the children back to Wu Dang first, and we can talk about our debt. No doubt, Wu Dang would be much grateful and reward you to you liking.”

    The old woman rubbed her pox marks and snorted loudly. “Who wants your money? I want only your promise to follow us to see someone. Could you do that?” She challenged.

    Huang Yitao nodded with solemn face although curious inwardly. “Yes, Elder has my word of honor.”

    The other turned to Tian Xin-er and asked, “how about Miss Tian here? Will she dare to come with us?”

    Tian Xin-er lifted her face proudly. “All right. Count me in too, but these children need to go home first.” She would not heed Huang Yitao’s protests. “How could I let you go alone, brother Huang? Besides, she wants two lives, and there are only two of us here.”

    The older woman nodded her head satisfactorily. “Good. That is fair enough.” She brought out writing implements and told Huang Yitao to compose a letter explaining their reason in leaving Wu Dang. Then, she tied the letter to Huang Tingli’s waist and showed the youngsters a signal rocket in her hand.

    “I will shoot a rocket. People will come and see the children and the letter. Only by this way, we can travel in peace.”

    Huang Yitao sighed sadly upon realizing that he might see his daughter for the last time today. He gave the little girl a last hug and asked a permission to write a brief note to Tian Xing-xing, asking her to take care of his baby during his absence. His request was granted, and he hid the second letter in the little girl’s clothes.

    When all was done, Tian Xin-er untied her long sash and slung the two children high up on the tree to protect them from wild beasts. Then, the elder woman released the rocket and led the other three out of the area.

    Huang Yitao sent a last longing look at his crying daughter and strode after Tian Xin-er with a broken heart. ‘May heaven look after you, Tingli. Papa will come back to you one day.’ He prayed silently.

    Meanwhile, De Pang and Mu Zhen were meeting up with Man He when they heard the rocket. Looking up in the sky, they could tell that it came from the north. Accordingly, they quickly changed their direction and rushed northward.

    On their way, they heard voice calling for help from the east. So, De Pang ordered Mu Zhen to continue onward, while he and Man He veered eastward to the source of voice. After some minutes, they found Tian Xing-xing lying on the ground, covered with blood. De Pang quickly inspected her breathing and was relieved to find that she was still alive. He propped her up and sent his inner energy into her body.

    After a while, she came to and cried out upon seeing him. “Hero De, Madam Man was taken away by some mask men. They said that they are from Widow Mansion from the north border, and they want you to fetch Madam Man there in person. They also added that if you don’t appear before three months end, Madam Man will die painfully.” She paused for breath then continued. “Their kung fu was strange and deadly. They seem to be experts in poison.” Actually, she herself had been inflicted with a poisonous weapon although the wounds were not serious for the attackers wanted her to live to relate the fate of Ah Zhu to the Wu Dang brothers.

    De Pang noticed that her lips start to turn purple, so he gave her Wu Dang’s Red Lotus pill. “This should help neutralize the poison for the time being.”

    Man He murmured with knitted eyebrows. “Widow Mansion is a heretic clan, composed only of women. I heard that their headquarters is on the northern border of China and Mongol. They have their own rituals and rules and hardly mix with anyone in the martial world. What could they want from us?”

    De Pang absorbed the information and finally turned to his third brother.

    “Man He, you take Miss Tian back to Wu Dang and use your internal energy to purge the rest of poison out of her system. Tell Mu Zhen to take care of the tournament; don’t let people know of these incidents. Whatever happens, you and fourth brother have to stay at Wu Dang to protect our sect. I’ll go after those people and bring back Sister-in-law back to you, I promise.”

    Man He protested. “But I should go instead. She is my wife.”

    De Pang replied sympathetically. “I know, but those kidnappers stated explicitly that they want me. Taking Ah Zhu is just a bait to lure me out of Wu Dang. There must be some deeper scheme behind all these abductions. For now, no matter what, take care of Wu Dang. About your wife, please trust me on that. I would not let her come to harm.”

    Man He nodded. He understood the grave situation and realized that Wu Dang was currently facing some unknown enemies, so he swallowed his personal concerns and promised his first brother to fulfill his duty to his utmost. De Pang patted his third brother’s shoulders encouragingly then sprinted off in the direction that Tian Xing-xing had pointed for him.

    Man He slung the nearly unconscious Tian Xing-xing on his shoulder and returned to Wu Dang. There, he met Mu Zhen and the two children. Relief flooded through his body when he saw that his son was safe. However, there were important matters to discuss first. Mu Zhen gave Huang Yitao’s letter to Man He and explained how he found the children.

    “There was a corpse on the ground. I had servants hauling it back at this moment for you to take a look. Also, this cloth belongs to Miss Tian Xin-er for her name was embroidered on it. What shall we do, third brother?”

    A tall and bony man, Man He was well versed in the art of music and poetry thus was known as ‘Poet Scholar Man’. He supposed to be the smartest among the five brothers of Wu Dang due to his strategic mind and his wide knowledge of various sects in the martial realm.

    Man He considered all the circumstances carefully and uttered his thought. “Hmm, we don’t know if these two kidnappings are related to each other or not. Moreover, we don’t know what other purposes behind these incidents. However, the first thing we need to do is to save Miss Tian’s life and absolve the gathering as quickly and as quietly as possible. Fourth brother, you go back to the tournament ground, announce Miss Tian Xin-er as a winner – I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Then, tell everyone that she has left Wu Dang for personal business; therefore, the tournament is concluded. Next, see to it that they all leave Wu Dang in timely manner. Before doing all these, make sure you have a talk with Zhong Xi Shi Tai first. Tell her everything and ask her to stay behind for further consultant. I’ll take Miss Tian Xing-xing to our secret chamber to heal her. The two children will go with me too.”

    Mu Zhen agreed to his third martial brother’s plan, and each brother separated to do his own task. At the end of the afternoon, all guests were gone except those from Emei. Man He also succeeded in purging poison from Tian Xing-xing’s body. He let her sleep with the two exhausting children and stepped out of the secret chamber to meet his third brother and Zhong Xi Shi Tai.

    “Shi Tai, we truly appreciate your help.” Man He greeted the priestess in proper manner.

    Zhong Xi Shi Tai replied gently. “It is right that I remain behind. Ah Zhu is my third senior sister, and Xin-er is my first disciple. How are Miss Tian Xing-xing and the children?”

    Man He sat wearily, sipping hot tea that his fourth brother offered. “All of them are sleeping at the moment. Miss Tian is all right now, but I would rather her stay at some place else. Wu Dang might be attacked again, and I don’t know if we could protect her or Master Huang’s little daughter. If that happens, I would not have face to see anyone from Sword South School.”

    Zhong Xi Shi Tai nodded. “I see. So, you want me to transport her and Huang Tingli to the Medicine Forest. That is no problem. I can send for sister Chu to come and perform this task while I stay here to help you two.”

    Man He shook his head slowly. “No, that is not my intention, and I’m sure that’s not what first brother De had in mind either. Despite our tight security, we have been attacked by two different groups already. That shows the prowess of our enemies. What happened today might have something to do with our dispute with Eunuch Cao – that we could only suspect. But what’s more, I begin to fear for Emei and Sword South School, as both groups were also involved in the war with Love Palace three years ago. Therefore, I would advice Shi Tai to return to Emei right after delivering Miss Tian and the girl to Master Tian Bao. I am also sending someone with a letter to Sword South School, warning them of the possible danger. If we could, we would have escorted you back to Emei ourselves, but we have promised first brother to take care of Wu Dang while he’s away.” He stood up and bowed apologetically to the priestess.

    Zhong Xi Shi Tai waved her hands. “No need to be formal. I understand the entire situation. Hero Man is very considerate and wise, thinking out of all details in this short time. I greatly admire you.” She cupped her hands approvingly.

    “I will set out immediately. Please feel free to call for us if you are in need of help. Wu Dang and Emei are brother-sister sects after all.”

    Mu Zhen looked at the priestess and sighed. He had not uttered any word, but his eyes spoke louder than his voice. The priestess avoided his glance and sighed inwardly. ‘You still haven’t forgot me yet.’ She bowed to both brothers and went outside to prepare a carriage for the child and the sick.

    Man He saw his fourth brother’s sad eyes and sighed. He said, “you are looking forward to meeting her. Yet, you are more grieved when you see her. And when she is leaving, you are even sadder. Why do you insist on torturing yourself like this? Your love is impossible, and you know it. Why keep bleeding your heart endlessly?”

    Mu Zhen coughed out blood and sighed. “Sometimes, a pain is a sort of pleasure. Even a one-sided love can sometimes fill one’s empty heart. I never wish for more and never expect anything from her. I am destined to be misfortune in love, and I will bravely live with it.”

    He wiped the blood from his mouth and staggered outside. “Third brother, you are tired and should rest. I will see to everything for you.”

    Man He watched after his third brother’s disappearing figure and murmured. “If only he would look at someone else and settle down…”

    He felt that he was fortunate to have a loving family then turned gloomy at the thought of his wife. He prayed to gods for her safety. “Ah Zhu, wait for first brother. He will surely rescue you.”

    That night, he put his son in his bedroom. Zhong Xi Shi Tai did offer to take the boy along with her to the Medicine Forest. “He will be safe there until this crisis passes.”

    However, Man He turned down her genuine suggestion politely. “Thank you for you thoughtfulness, but he cannot hide forever. He will grow up to be a Wu Dang man soon, so he has to learn to be brave. Whatever will happen, we father and son will meet it together.”

    The sky was dark, and the storm was brewing as if the omen for a coming disaster.
    ---------------------
    thank you for reading. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/love.gif" border="0">

    [ August 15, 2002: Message edited by: Goofy ]
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  7. #7
    Senior Member Floo..'s Avatar
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    Oooooohhhh..... a NEW fanfic!!! Goofy, you really full of energy!!!!

    From ur #1 fans <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">

    PS: instead of being ur apprentice, what if I became ur fans club manager?
    back w/ a vengeance ^_^

  8. #8
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Sure Floo. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/rockband.gif" border="0">
    And you can sign up as the number 1 member; therefore, you are entitled to a free t-shirt with some cute slogan and a whole year calendar of Gigi (the cat) pictorials. <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0">

    And the first twelve members will get exclusively Gigi's autograph (paw mark)along with his cutest pose. <IMG SRC="smilies/love.gif" border="0">

    All the members need to do is keep reading my fanfic and leave comments. <IMG SRC="smilies/tongue.gif" border="0">

    Now, Floo, when are you going to have your own fan club? So that I can sign up too! <IMG SRC="smilies/wiggle.gif" border="0">

    Or should we see how it goes with SC's fan club first? <IMG SRC="smilies/rolleyes.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  9. #9
    Senior Member MYF's Avatar
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    <IMG SRC="smilies/clap.gif" border="0"> good chapter - full of foreboding for the future hehe....... <IMG SRC="smilies/twirl.gif" border="0">

    Ah... since I can't be an apprentice - <IMG SRC="smilies/crying.gif" border="0">, I guess I'll have to join the fanclub instead <IMG SRC="smilies/touched.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/grouphug.gif" border="0">.

    Hehe, I like the idea of a T-shirt with a cute slogan on it, it sounds so neat <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> (but what is it going to say? )

    P.s: Can I have Gigi's autograph now? <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/rockband.gif" border="0">

    [For some reason, I think SC already has an unofficial fanclub of adoring female's...]

    [ August 12, 2002: Message edited by: MYF ]
    my right arm slams shut

  10. #10
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    how about 'Gigi is a cute cat, and Gigi's fanfic is fabulous!" j/k... <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sioben's Avatar
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    uhhhh.....I better join the club fast or I wont get a a autograph too...........[ hemmm can't I get a T-shirt???] <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> hehehehe......

    Nice to see a new story from you [ I haven't finish reading your last book - the Legend of the Sword and Saber (book 3) - too busy........but I'll finish your book what ever it takes... ]
    I've been touch by an angel
    I've been bless by the power of Sioben
    I can hardly believe you're that short!!

    Sioben: 'ohh....shut up'

  12. #12
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Smile

    I'll join. But I just want Gigi the cat! <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  13. #13
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    You can come and live in my house then. (so I can have someone to help with his litter box) <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/tongue.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/wink.gif" border="0">


    Gigi (the cat) said that charbydis can come visit him and don't forget to bring some mice jerky for souveniors. <IMG SRC="smilies/drool.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  14. #14
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Chapter 3
    Beginning of the Journey

    Character List (not in any particular order):
    Tian Xin-er (Vivian Leung Siu Bing)
    Huang Yitao (Felix Wong Yat Wah)
    De Pang (Liu Kai Chi)

    Tian Xin-er and Huang Yitao walked silently behind the grandmother with the grandson at the end of the line. They emerged from a forest and reached a clearing where two horses were tied to a tree. Nearby was a big carriage decorated in a foreign style. The old woman nodded at Huang Yitao and ordered him to hitch the horses to the carriage. Tian Xin-er stepped after him to lend a hand upon seeing the young man not able to use his right hand very well. That done, she took a look at the wound that had just reopened. Gently, she put Jade Bee ointment on it then wrapped a piece of clean cloth around his hand.

    “The cut is not very deep and should heal in two days. Just don’t get the hand wet.” She warned Huang Yitao who thanked her softly.

    The grandmother glanced at the pair and hummed impatiently. “Are you done yet? We haven’t got all day, or are you delaying us intentionally?” She finally shouted to them.

    Tian Xin-er rolled her eyes and was about to answer back, but Huang Yitao shook his head to her warningly. Respectfully, he invited the old lady to enter the coach then took a driver seat. The grandson looked sideways at Tian Xin-er and told her to follow him into the carriage.

    Huang Yitao nodded at the young maiden, who reluctantly stepped inside after the man in gray robe.

    The interior of the coach was spacious and rather luxurious. The floor was covered with quality fur and a few silken pillows, and all four walls were thickly padded to lessen any bumping from rough road with only a small window on one side. A flap of cloth was covering the window at the moment, rendering the carriage a bit dim. A few small chests were stacked neatly in one corner next to a large bundle of dry food and assorted water skins.

    Tian Xin-er exclaimed at the unexpected sight, and the older woman who had settled comfortably near the window smiled. She pointed at the opposite side of the carriage, indicating to the other to take a seat. The young man in gray was between them, half-inclining on one of the pillows. When everyone was placed, the grandmother opened the cloth flap and yelled out to Huang Yitao to start out.

    The horses moved forth, and the unknown journey began.

    Meanwhile, De Pang was pursuing the mysterious people who had captured his martial sister-in-law, Ah Zhu. He was well known and respected in the area and could find more clues on those strangers with ease from wayside eateries and inns in town. As he had expected, a group of mask men turned out a group of five to seven maidens all dressed in white. At a market, he found out that they had bought several horses, a small carriage, and large quantity of food. He also learned that after spending a few hours in town, they had set out hurriedly. From there, they seemed to disappear without trace. However, De Pang could assume that they were on their way back to the north. Accordingly, he bought a fast horse and galloped northward at once.

    Because he traveled unprepared, he didn’t have much money to begin with. Luckily, all the merchants in Hubei area knew Wu Dang’s reputation, so he was able to obtain any necessities for the trip without having to pay cash. Being a careful man and realized that he still had a long way to go, De Pang refrained from staying at an inn and took shelter at temples, caves, or abandoned buildings instead. In this fashion, he passed through towns and forests while keeping alert for any sign of the Widow Mansion people.


    One day, he stopped at a wayside eatery for refreshment. After taking care of the horse, he sat down at one table and ordered tea and some buns to take away. At that moment, an old beggar approached his table.

    “Hero De, what a surprise to meet you here. May I have an honor to sit with you?” He was an elder in Beggar Association, about the same rank as that of Elder Bai’s but many years the other’s senior. His name was Elder Hui.

    A bit surprised, De Pang stood up and politely invited the old man to take a seat. The tea came, and preliminary pleasantries were exchanged. At that point, Elder Hui casually brought up a question.

    “How was the tournament? I hope that Elder Bai represented our clan well.” His sharp eyes noticed the other’s dusty clothes and lack of a usual traveling bundle. However, he made no remark on that but reached for a dish of peanuts.

    De Pang put down his teacup slowly. “The tournament has probably ended by now; so far, many pugilists have shown their excellent martial skills. Elder Bai was superb with the Dog Beating Stick technique. As for the final result, I had to leave early to attend an urgent business, so I couldn’t really say.” He replied carefully, at the same time explaining his appearing outside Wu Dang.

    Elder Hui combed his grey beard thoughtfully. “Hmm, Hero Du must have meant that Elder Bai did defeat someone but also came up against other skilled martial artists. Who was the last person that Elder Bai fought with?”

    De Pang had no choice but to tell the truth. “Miss Tian Xing-xing of Sword South School.”

    The old beggar shook his head forlornly. “That was unfortunate indeed. Our future leader lost to a young maiden; Beggar Association has no more face to stand in the martial realm.” He could predict the result and inwardly chided his colleague’s rashness. ‘He should have stepped down once he has demonstrated the prowess of Dog Beating Stick technique.’ That was how they had originally planned anyway.

    Elder Hui glanced sideways at the other and spoke up. “Seeing that it is almost noon, how about having lunch with me in town? My distant cousin is a restaurant owner, and he would be too glad to serve the renowned hero of Wu Dang.”

    De Pang finished up his tea and put the buns that he had ordered in his pocket before answering. “Thank you for the invitation, but I am in a hurry. Maybe we can get together next time.” He cupped his hands and bowed to the old beggar.

    Elder Hui reached out and caught the other’s right hand. “But you will have to eat anyway, why not stop just for a while? Travel with full stomach is indeed better than empty belly, as we beggars often say.” His bony fingers were like a pair of iron tongs, clamping De Pang’s wrist tightly.

    De Pang smiled guilelessly while sending his inner energy to his captive hand. The old beggar suddenly felt heat passing through the other’s wrist into his palm then his entire arm. He felt electrified and had to release his hold at once. Sweats formed on his head, and he reeled backward.

    “Hero De’s internal power is outstanding. Please pardon my rudeness.” The old man praised; his entire arm was still numb.

    De Pang bowed to the other again. “I understood Elder Hui’s good intention, but I really need to go. I have some dry food with me and will eat it on horseback to save time. Please accept my apology.”

    He started to walk to his horse when Elder Hui called his name. “Hero De, please wait a minute.”

    The old man took out a bag of money. “Seeing you might have a long way to go, this could come in use. It is but a small token, but I hope you would accept it as a sign of friendship between our sects.”

    De Pang was about to refuse the offering when he thought of his almost empty wallet. ‘If I receive this favor from Beggar Association today, Wu Dang might have to repay double in the future. Nevertheless, I have a long journey ahead, and any delay from lack of money could endanger sister-in-law’s life.’ He was debating with himself with pros and cons.

    He saw through Elder Hui’s plan to plant friendship with Wu Dang then use it as a stepladder to the clan’s glory. As a head of Wu Dang, he had always disliked to be showered with gifts from other sects promiscuously. His policy was to help others in need and received the duly reward if there was any but would not be dictated by anyone by threats or bribes. Although Beggar Association was a righteous sect, and Wu Dang would have no problem to help promoting it, De Pang could not approve of the tactic that Elder Hui was using. To accept money from the old beggar was to commit himself and Wu Dang into a promise that had to be fulfilled, however hard it might be. De Pang thought of the present generation in the Beggar Association and realized that the task was impossible.

    He then reminded himself. ‘A man should not be afraid of any hardship. Why should one go against one’s own principle for a few taels? Besides, if I receive money from a beggar, won’t I be considered a beggar too?’ Therefore, he shook his head.

    “Our friendship has already existed; no need to mention about it. I appreciate Elder’s thoughtfulness, but I am making a short trip here, thus really no need for extra cash. When I’m back, I’ll personally pay a visit to Lake Ding Tong as a sign of respect. And, if Elder ever passes Wu Dang, please do not hesitate to pay us a visit.”

    He made a departing gesture and took leave. The old beggar watched after him admiringly. “If only Beggar Association had someone half as good as Master De…”

    In the meantime, Tian Xin-er was collecting firewood for the approaching night. She just had a chance to talk to Huang Yitao alone.

    “Brother Huang, where do you think they are taking us?”

    Huang Yitao replied thoughtfully. “I don’t know, but from what I have observed, these people must have come from a foreign tribe outside the border. They have northern accent and different culture from us.”

    Tian Xin-er knitted her eyebrows in deep concentration. “I think they have planned for our coming all along.” She added quickly. “I don’t think that they have anything to do with the children’s kidnapping, of course. But, all the same, they meant for someone to join their trip, hence the wagon, the food, and the use of small lanes, avoiding other travelers. From the beginning, everything has pointed that Sword South School is their target. However, what would do they want from us? Are they our enemies?”

    She pondered then sighed. “I hope Tingli and Man Shan are sleeping safely at Wu Dang now.”

    Huang Yitao was also thinking the same thing. He looked up at the dusky sky and echoed his inner thought. “Sister Xin-er, you should go back to Wu Dang. If their target is really Sword South School, it will be too risky for you to be here. If not, then there is no need for you to be mixed up in this business. Whichever way, I wouldn’t know how to answer to Martial Uncle Tian and Zhong Xi Shi Tai if you have ever come to harm. The grandson’s sword skills are excellent; therefore, his grandmother is probably a martial art expert too. She could move nimbly even at that age, so her light kung fu must be great. You have better kung fu than I do, so if you want to leave, it should not be that hard. I’ll help hold against the grandmother while you take the grandson.” His face was grave.

    Tian Xin-er realized the other’s kind intention and smiled. “No need to worry about my safety, brother Huang. I don’t think that they would harm us until we reach the destination. On the other hand, I am getting very curious about the person we suppose to meet, and you cannot pull me away from this business even with ten horses.”

    She smiled mischievously and continued more seriously. “By the way, if I leave you alone here, I should be the one who could not face Father and Second-mother. We are like brother and sister, so how could I abandon my heroic brother like you with these strangers?”

    Huang Yitao smiled a little. “I always forget that you like adventures.” He relaxed when he reminded himself that Tian Xin-er had high martial skills. “I guess that you can take care of yourself, but please be careful, all right?”

    Tian Xin-er laughed merrily. “Or in another word, don’t make any trouble. I get you, brother Huang.” She cupped her hands and bowed teasingly in front of the other.

    Huang Yitao could not help laughing with her. He lifted his hand to pat her head but stopped himself in time. “Aside from sister Xing-xing, you are like my own sister. You really remind me a lot of Jiwen.”

    Tian Xin-er could feel his sadness, and without thinking, she kneeled down. She then pulled him to the ground next to her. “Then, let us be sworn brother and sister.”

    She pulled out three blades of grass and placed them on the earth. “The grass can represent the incense, proclaiming our bond to the heaven.”

    Huang Yitao nodded and bowed to the earth three times. Then he announced. “Today, I, Huang Yitao and Tian Xin-er will swear our brotherhood-sisterhood to each other.”

    And Tian Xin-er declared. “We would share joy and sorrow alike and would never abandon each other in time of need.” She then called her new sworn brother, “elder brother”.

    Huang Yitao answered, “younger sister”. Then, he chuckled. “We should not be so formal with each other, now that we are the same family. Jiwen used to call me Yitao because we are so close in age. You can do that too.”

    Tian Xin-er repeated. “Yitao. I like that – no more formal addressing for me either. Call me Xin-er too.”

    Huang Yitao murmured, “Xin-er”. He grinned and patted his new sister’s lustrous hair fondly.

    The pale moon looked down from behind the cloud and eventually decided to come out as a witness to this new pair of siblings.

    The old woman frowned at the laughing youngsters. “You were gone long enough. I almost thought that you have left us for good.” She was irritated to find the two youths smiled at each other secretly.

    Huang Yitao murmured an apology and immediately started a fire. He then brought out a large hen that he had caught and roasted it on a long stick. When it was done to a perfection, he divided the bird in two halves. He offered one half to the elder and her grandson. Then, he told Tian Xin-er to eat their share first.

    Tian Xin-er smiled, showing her white teeth, and tore a wing off the half-bird. “Yitao, you can have the rest then.” She tasted the meat and unconsciously talked about her family.

    “Xiang-er once told me how she used to be at odds with Ah Yi when it came to killing animals. She would let the fish go purposely because she could not bear to see them being eaten. Second-mother is that way too. Like mother, like daughter. I wonder if I would turn out like my mother then and end up like her?”

    Huang Yitao sensed the fear in her voice and immediately replied. “Of course not! You are very different from your mother, Xin-er. You are more like martial uncle Tian – dedicated, intelligent, energetic, and kind. You are a unique lady with so many suitors waiting for your intention. Don’t let the past haunt you.”

    He sighed heavily. “I can teach you but not myself. Even now, I cannot forget Lu Tingli. Every time I look at little Tingli’s face, I would remind myself of her sweet face.”

    Tian Xin-er stopped eating and looked at her sworn brother in sympathy. “Miss Lu has found the way of light, and you should be glad for her.” She threw the bones into the fire and questioned the burning flames softly. “What is love?”

    Huang Yitao looked into the red amber. “Yes, what is love?”

    They heard a grunt from the other side of the campfire. Seemed as if the old lady was in bad mood tonight. Tian Xin-er winked at Huang Yitao and skipped into the carriage to prepare the beds. Every night, the two women would sleep inside the coach, while the two young men would pass a night under some sort of shelter, tending the fire and looking out for wild beasts.

    Tian Xin-er was the first one to wake up the following morning. She went to a nearby creek, washed her face, and started collecting more firewood. When she came back, she found the old woman had been up and was pacing crossly alone.

    Tian Xin-er stopped singing and questioned the other. “What is the matter Elder?” She looked around and noticed that the two men were gone. “They are probably down at the creek, getting some water. Do you want me to fetch your grandson for you?”

    The older lady grunted. She finally answered. “What would I need from my useless grandson?” Then, she burst out. “I couldn’t help but noticed that you and Master Huang have been calling each other’s name intimately since last night. If an old lady like me may say, it was rather improper.”

    Then, as if an idea had struck her, she asked Tian Xin-er. “Or did you two have an understanding?”

    Tian Xin-er blushed then smiled naughtily. “Well, actually we do.” She meant to tease the old lady but relented when the other turned pale.

    She spoke quickly. “We have just sworn to be brother and sister last night.”

    The old lady seemed relieved. She parted her lips in smile. “Oh, I see!” Thereafter, she was warmer and friendlier toward the younger maiden.

    Master Shu, on the other hand, seemed more restless as the journey continued. He opened his mouth to say something many a time but decided against it. However, his look toward Huang Yitao was far from friendly. Tian Xin-er perceived that and accordingly warned her sworn brother.

    “Master Shu does not like you. Be careful.”

    Huang Yitao chuckled good-naturedly. “That is because we are so close to each other. I think he is interested in you and just jealous of me. Let me explain to him of our relationship, and all will be well.”

    Tian Xin-er wrinkled her nose and retorted. “He looks more like a kid who is afraid of his granny being stolen from him. Not only he is quiet and too proud, but he is also totally under his grandmother’s thumb.”

    Huang Yitao disagreed with her. “That only shows his respect to an elder. Besides, he is probably a shy man in nature and still feel humiliated from being beaten by you. You should give him a chance.”

    Tian Xin-er stuck her tongue at him. “Hmm, don’t you try to be a matchmaker here. I’m only interested in this mysterious errand, not to start my love life.” She then announced clearly. “I think I will become an old maid like my master and end up as a priestess.”

    Huang Yitao laughed at her determination. “Beautiful flowers are rarely without butterflies. I don’t believe that the priestess life is something Zhong Xi Shi Tai has intended for you. Otherwise, she would have let you learn the ‘Net of No Way Out’ long time ago.”

    The Net of No Way Out was the top kung fu of Emei Sect, and was exclusively taught to the next Emei leader, who had to be ordained as a priest or priestess. Many years ago, Tian Xin-er rescued Zhong Xi Shi Tai’s master, Xun Ci Shi Tai at her deathbed. To show her gratitude, the old priestess did transfer her entire energy to Tian Xin-er after asking the young woman to deliver certain items to her fourth disciple, who later became Zhong Xi Shi Tai, the current master of Emei Sect.

    Innocent to the pugilistic rules, Tian Xin-er had unwittingly read Emei’s martial manuscript ‘Book of Four’ and practiced part of the Net of No Way Out technique, much to her father’s dismay. Fortunately, things had turned out for the best as she ended up being Zhong Xi Shi Tai’s first disciple instead of being punished for learning the Emei’s kung fu without permission. Nevertheless, she was forbidden to continue practicing the Net of No Way Out as Zhong Xi Shi Tai deemed that her disciple’s future had more than just the priesthood in store. To make up for that, she had trained Tian Xin-er all other arts of Emei.

    Tian Xin-er realized her master’s thinking, of course, and was touched by it. Hence, she was the more determined to serve Emei and her master to the utmost of her ability. Together with her master-uncle Chu Lianhua, and the help from Wu Dang and Sword South School, she assisted Zhong Xi Shi Tai in rebuilding the Emei Sect from the ruins that were caused by Love Palace Sect.

    Since Huang Yitao correctly pointed out the fact, Tian Xin-er was at a lost for answer. Therefore, she smartly changed the subject. “By the way, Yitao, have you ever thought why Master Shu and his grandmother seem to be experts on Sword South School affairs?”

    Huang Yitao considered her question then answered deliberately. “Hmm, on the surface, they seem to have an amazing knowledge of our personal lives, but all of them was distorted fact. In my opinion, they probably got the information in bits and pieces and connected them together regardless of the actual truth. For an example, Martial Uncle Tian never concealed that he was in love with your aunt. Sister Xiang-er also never denied that she was their child despite you two looking alike. Although their relationships were never openly talked about, there would always be rumors of some sorts. That’s inevitable.”

    Thus, Tian Xin-er annoyingly remarked. “I don’t understand why Second-mother would not marry Father to simplify the matter. Everyone can see that he loves her very much. If it were not because of my mother who had come between them twenty-two years ago…” She heaved a sigh.

    Surprisingly, Huang Yitao was the one who understood her aunt, Yue Ling, the most. “Miss Yue Ling never cares about her face and status, and your father loves her too much to force her. She has always considered Martial Uncle as her elder brother, so how could she possibly marry him? As for your parents, it was just fate that made everything turn out that way.”

    He sighed, thinking of his first love, Lu Tingli. “Xin-er, some people are just never meant to be with each other.”

    Tian Xin-er thought of Di Yi, her brother-in-law, and nodded. “You are right, Yitao. Although I share the same face with Xiang-er, our destinies are still different.”

    Suddenly, a sad thought came up, ‘And Ah Yi chose her, not me.’

    Her heart skipped when she reminisced of her first love. She had come to term with her heart long time ago, but a tiny scar was still there somewhere, waiting to be scratched and bled again.

    Just then, she heard a snap of tree branches. She immediately sprung up and somersaulted forward. With one graceful leap, she blocked the eavesdropper.

    “Master Shu, that is despicable behavior to listen in on other’s conversation.” She scolded the young man even though he was her senior.

    Master Shu’s face was hot. He looked down and humbly apologized to her. “I was only passing by and tried to withdraw quietly so not to disturb you. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on Miss or Master Huang here.” He looked sincere, and his manner was perfectly gentleman.

    Tian Xin-er relented. She smiled sweetly at him, causing him to turn red. “That is all right then. I should be the one to say sorry for accusing you without thinking.”

    She turned away and walked back to the grove where she was talking to Huang Yitao. To her surprise, he was no longer there. She turned around to go back to the campfire and saw Master Shu. He had been following her quietly all this while. Recalling Huang Yitao’s words about this young man, Tian Xin-er frowned slightly but remained civil.

    “What can I do for you, Master Shu?”

    The young man shuffled his feet uncertainly then spoke out. “I would like you to show me your sword stances again. I want to see if I could find your weak points or not.”

    Tian Xin-er inwardly released her breath with relief. “That is not a problem, but I’m afraid that my trick worked only once. However, if you wish to rematch with me, I will use the newest technique I have learned from my sister and my brother-in-law.”

    She picked up a long tree branch to use for a sword and executed a series of the Shadow technique. The young man watched in wonder then countered her with his sword arts. The two fought on, and after three hundred moves, the young man called for a stop.

    “There is no need to fight any longer. You are the winner. After all these moves, I still cannot find a way to defeat you. Your sword technique is amazing. I, Shu Qiuyang, am ashamed of my arrogance and incompetence.” He bowed to the young maiden with respect.

    Tian Xin-er smiled gently at the other. She returned the bow humbly. “Master Shu’s sword arts are also excellent. I only have an advantage over you because of my inner strength.” She grinned in friendly manner and sat down on a tree root.

    Shu Qiuyang (Deric Wan Siu Lun) followed suit. The two young people then talked about different kung fu moves. They compared and debated this and that stance and almost forgot the time.

    At the same time, Huang Yitao was talking to a young woman named Ah Yue (Maggie Siu Mei Kei). Back at the grove, he was about to follow Tian Xin-er when he heard another movement from opposite direction. Therefore, he used his light kung fu to chase after the sound and found that its owner was only a timid village girl who happened to pass by on her trip to collect firewood. After making a proper apology to her, Huang Yitao offered to carry the pile of sticks for her as a gentleman. However, Ah Yue turned down his help graciously although she stopped to chat with him for a long time.

    Unconsciously, Huang Yitao talked to this stranger with ease. He first told her about this trip then about his family, especially his young daughter. His tone was full of love.

    Ah Yue listened to him attentively and finally made an observation. “You must be mad at the old lady for making you leave your daughter alone like that.” She added, “but I’m sure that she didn’t mean you any harm though.”

    Huang Yitao was surprised. “Yes, come to think of it, I was a bit angry at first, but I have already forgot about it now.” He then realized the time and the propriety and felt awkward all of a sudden. Ah Yue seemed to know what he was thinking, so she stood up briskly and took leave of him.

    Despite his entreating, she refused his offering to escort her home. “I know this forest like a back of my hand, so I will get home all right. On the other hand, you will be the one who gets lost if you wander far from here.”

    Huang Yitao could only watch her dainty figure disappear into the shadows of forest.
    ------------------------------
    Thank you for reading. Hope the story is not too confusing for the new readers. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0">

    [ August 15, 2002: Message edited by: Goofy ]
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  15. #15
    Senior Member TKL's Avatar
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    Wow, Goofy, what can I say? Your writing just keeps getting better and better. <IMG SRC="smilies/thumbsup.gif" border="0">
    It's great to read story from you, a writer who is very passionate about her work <IMG SRC="smilies/twirl.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/wiggle.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/beerchug.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/catroar.gif" border="0">
    If a man could be at two places at one time, I'll be with you
    Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way

  16. #16
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    TKL thanks for the comment. <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0">

    I am going to slow down a bit so that I won't get burnt out. <IMG SRC="smilies/sweating.gif" border="0">

    Chapter 4
    New Friends, Additional Companions

    Character List (not in any particular order):
    Tian Xin-er (Vivian Leung Siu Bing)
    Huang Yitao (Felix Wong Yat Wah)
    De Pang (Liu Kai Chi)
    Shu Qiuyang (Deric Wan Siu Lan)
    Ke Jing (Julian Cheung Chi Lam)
    Jiaping (Fiona Leung Ngai Ling)

    De Pang was leading his horse along the busy street of a town in Henan when he saw a drunken man in rags staggered about and finally bumped into a pale and lanky man, who automatically caught the other in time just before he would have reeled down. The drunken man grabbed the other’s waist as a support and murmured an apology before walking away.

    He had not gone far when De Pang appeared in front of him. “Mister, you seem to forget something.”

    Before the astonished man could have said anything, De Pang’s hand had reached inside his shirt and come out with a money pouch. In that space of seconds, he was carried back to the fair gentleman who was observing the scene with interest.

    De Pang dumped his captive on the ground and put the money pouch in the younger man’s hand. “Young man, you should be more careful in the future. Big towns like this are full of thieves and con men.”

    The thief realized that he was caught red-handed, so he kneeled down and kowtowed to both men repeatedly, asking for mercy. To his surprise, the young man gave the stolen money pouch back to him. “Sir, since you seem to want it so much, it’s all yours.” He said simply and pulled the pickpocket up.

    De Pang was no less astounded. “I seem to put my foot where I am not needed.” He mused then walked back to his horse.

    However, the pale young man followed him. “Sir, can you tell me where Beiping is?”

    De Pang replied briefly. “It is in the north near the border.” He surveyed the other’s appearance and assumed that this younger man must be a scholar. ‘He looks as if he was lost.’ He thought inwardly.

    The other smiled gladly. He then asked straightforwardly, “are you going there too? If so, can I travel with you?” His smile was guileless and sincere.

    De Pang took a pity in this innocent youth, so he nodded. “I am heading toward the north border although not to Beiping. If you wish, we can travel together till then.” He then added, “but I am in a hurry, so I need to travel fast. Do you have a horse?”

    The other shook his head, still kept smiling. “No, but I can keep up with you.”

    De Pang raised his eyebrows. “I would advise you to get a horse. We have a long way to go.”

    The young man shook his head again. “I can keep up with you.” He repeated.

    He seemed so confident that De Pang almost smiled. “You probably see that my horse is tired and think that he will not run very fast. Well, just as you like.”

    He led the horse out of town and stopped at a rivulet near a lush field for the animal to drink and eat. Then, he sat under a shaded tree and brought out his last bun. Glancing at the pale youngster who also took a seat next to him, he broke the bun in two and offered one-half to the other, who took the bun eagerly and quickly chomped it down. When it was gone, he turned to De Pang. “Thank you, I haven’t eaten for a long time, and I am simply starving to death.”

    De Pang looked at the other puzzlingly. “But why didn’t you use your money to buy food?”

    The other opened his eyes wildly. “Money? Like these things?” He reached inside his shirt and brought out a handful of glistering jewelry and several gold nuggets. He put them in front then stood up and shook his sleeves. Gold and silver coins then started to shower down onto the green field. De Pang was amazed and had to stop the other who was about to empty his other pockets too.

    “That is enough. You have so many valuable items with you, yet don’t know how to use them. Aren’t you afraid of thieves? Aren’t you afraid of me being one?”

    The young man seemed relieved after getting rid of his treasure. He sat down and spoke indifferently. “If you want, you can have them all. Phew! They are very heavy. This way, I can run faster with your horse.”

    De Pang couldn’t help asking. “Then, why do you bother to carry them with you?”

    The pale youth frowned. “My mother had arranged this robe for me before she died. I didn’t realize that she put so many things in its pockets until I came out of the Tomb. I didn’t want to just toss them away because my mother always said that everything has its use. However, I have not found their secrets yet.” He pointed at gold nuggets and coins.

    “I think that my mother probably wants my bride to wear some of these pretty rocks, but I haven’t found a wife yet, so they are rather useless at the moment. Therefore, you are welcome to these things. When I find my bride, I will take her back to the Tomb; there are many more of them where I am from.”

    De Pang chuckled at the other’s generosity. “No, I don’t want them. But, I will explain to you the value of money.”

    He then gave the other quick lesson on function of money. The young man listened with interest. After that, he made a keen observation. “Then, you must not have any money because you had only one bun left, yet would not buy more from town.”

    His artless words if coming from other persons might sound rude, but his honest face showed only concern. He pushed the pile of gold toward his elder. “I want you to have them.”

    De Pang was not angry. Quite the opposite, he was amused. “You are very astute, young master. I really don’t have any money with me, but I would not take any from you either. A small piece of bun did not worth that much.”

    The young man stared at the other in gratitude. “But, you have saved my life with your last bun. I won’t forget that.” He gathered his valuable objects in a big bundle and slung it on his back.

    “I am buying you a meal then in the next town.” He stood up, ready for the trip.

    Not wanting to be delayed by the youth, De Pang was about to discourage the other from going with him but thought better. ‘If he travels alone, he would sure come to harm from bandits and robbers. He is too gullible and naïve, but he has a good heart. I can let him ride my horse and use light kung fu instead.’

    Thus, he suggested the other to get on his horse, but the young man shook his head. “You are my senior, so you should take the horse. Don’t worry about me. I am a good runner.”

    De Pang finally let the other have his way. ‘Young men are always like that. He will change his mind after a few minutes of sweating.’ He underrated the other’s strength from the gangly stature.

    He got on the horse and took off. Intending to be easy on the weak looking youth, he rode slowly at first. Then, when he saw that the other could still keep up with him, he sped up his mount. To his surprise, however fast the horse ran, the young man would always be right behind it.

    Finally, De Pang stopped his horse and got down. He cupped his hands and bowed to the other. “Please pardon my ignorance and old eyes. Your light kung fu is very impressive. May I have your name and your master’s honorable title?”

    The young man bowed back. “I have no master. My mother taught me everything. My name is Ke Jing, and my mother’s maiden name is Yang. I lived with her in a big tomb. This is my first time outside it.”

    De Pang could not think of any sect that lived in a tomb and processed such high light kung fu technique. He was curious but refrained from asking further questions from etiquette. Instead, he cupped his hands and introduced himself. “My name is De Pang. I’m sorry for doubting you earlier. Brother Ke, how about a real race?” He proposed with twinkling eyes.

    The other agreed enthusiastically. Thus, another member was added to the lonely trip.

    Tian Xin-er and her group, meanwhile, were sitting at a wayside teashop. They were sipping tea and munching food contentedly. The old lady and her grandson seemed to be fascinated with the Central Plains cuisine. They examined the shape of steamed wanton with interest and discussed among themselves in their foreign dialect.

    Tian Xin-er grinned. “See, it is really worth traveling on a main road for a while. Wait till we get to the town, there are many more food for you two to taste.” She indeed succeeded in talking the grandmother into changing the route for the day and intended to use this opportunity to send their tidings to Wu Dang.

    However, the old woman seemed to sense the other’s intention, and accordingly, kept an eye on her two guests at all time. Upon hearing Tian Xin-er, she grunted.

    “We are only here because a woodcutter said that the trail was cut from the spring flood. After Shanxi, we will return to our usual path.”

    Tian Xin-er secretly winked at her sworn brother. This morning, she got up early and happened to meet an old man who lived in the area. An idea inspired in her, and she gave him a few taels in exchange for a wrong information to the old lady, who she conveniently led to where ‘a woodcutter’ was working.

    Huang Yitao did not understand her meaning, of course. He thought that she had an eye problem and was about to ask what was wrong with her when he noticed a petite man in foreign clothes at the next table. Tian Xin-er followed his glance and whispered to him.

    “Yitao, that gentleman who was eating noodle is really a girl in disguise.”

    Huang Yitao couldn’t help asking. “How do you know?”

    The old lady sitting opposite him smiled and praised the young maiden. “Miss Tian certainly has sharp eyes. Master Huang, if you take a good look, that person’s ears have several piercing holes, which indicate that she is a female, not to say that she looks too pretty for a man.” She continued elatedly. “But what Miss Tian might not know, the clothes she was wearing belongs to a Mongolian royal guard. Seems that this young lady must come from some Mongol tribe. Hmm, what are they doing here?” She murmured the last sentence to herself.

    Just then, the girl in man clothing (Fiona Leung Ngai Ling) finished her meal. She reached for her purse and found that it was gone. She immediately turned pale then hurriedly stood up. “The villain!” She exclaimed and was about to leave to go after her pickpocket when a big hand of a waiter caught her shoulder.

    “What? Are you running away without paying?” He made a fist, ready to punch his customer.

    Huang Yitao moved, but Tian Xin-er touched his arm lightly. “Elder brother, let me do it.” She bent down and picked up a small pebble. Then, with a flick of her fingers, she sent the stone to seal the waiter’s pressure point, rendering him immovable.

    After that, she walked to the frightened girl and inquired her gently. “Miss, are you all right?”

    On the closer look, the maiden was a few years younger than Tian Xin-er was. She was good-looking with an air of innocent child. At that moment, her face was in grime, and she was near tears.

    “No, I’m not. Someone stole my money, and I cannot pay for my food, and this dreadful man wants to punch me.” She pointed at the waiter while backing out of the fist range. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to the other.

    “I saw a rock flying and hit at the man’s neck. Then, he froze and hasn’t moved since. Did you do it? If so, it was a real neat trick!”

    Tian Xin-er smiled amiably. “Yes, I did, but it is nothing to talk about though.” She turned to the bewildered waiter whose fist was still hanging in the air. “I’m going to pay for this lady, and next time don’t resort to violence in a hurry.”

    She put a few coins on the table then brought out the rest of her money. “I don’t have much, but here is something that can tie you up for a while. Just don’t let anyone steal it again.

    With another flick of fingers, she released the terrified waiter who immediately picked up the payment and hastily retreated to the kitchen. Before the other could have expressed her gratitude, Tian Xin-er was already back at her table where everyone was prepared to leave.

    Huang Yitao nodded approvingly at his sworn sister. “Good work, Xin-er.”

    Shu Qiuyang parted his lips. He has been silent until now. “That girl is probably a criminal escaping from Mongol regiment from the north. You could invite problem here, Miss Tian.”

    At that moment, someone replied him angrily. “I’m NOT a criminal! How dare you? I’ll, I’ll report you to my father.”

    It was the young woman in Mongolian costumes. She stomped her feet on the ground crossly. Her youthful face was pink, which enhanced her exotic beauty all the more like a rare flower blooming in a middle of the wasteland. She then remembered her present situation and instantly stopped the scolding. Then, she faced Tian Xin-er and kneeled down, begging the other to be her mentor.

    Tian Xin-er was at a lost. She pulled the younger girl up and replied gently. “Miss, I am on an important errand at the moment and is in no position to be your mentor.” She was sure that this strange girl must come from a rich family. “If I may advice, you should go back to your home. The world out here is full of danger; it is not a place for someone like you.”

    The other did not seem to bother by the answer. She ignored the other’s reason and instead spoke eagerly. “Yes, I know; that’s why you should teach me that wonderful trick so that nobody could harm me anymore.” She wrinkled her nose thoughtfully. “I am on my way to visit my uncle outside the border. He is a very wealthy man, and he can give you a lot of rewards if you will escort me there and be my mentor.”

    She batted her big eyes in pleas. Tian Xin-er was amused but had to harden her heart. “Sorry, Miss. I would love to help you, but I really can’t. You now have money to hire an escort to protect you until you reach your uncle’s house. Besides, I never wish for any rewards. It was only right to help you from being bullied.”

    Then, she was afraid that her money might not be enough for the purpose, so she turned to Huang Yitao. “Do you have some money for me to borrow for this young lady?”

    The old lady intervened right then. “Hmm, your heroic deed seems to turn into a nuisance, Miss Tian. This young lady will be doing fine. In that soldier uniform, only an ignorant like that waiter would dare to harm her. Come on, let’s get going.”

    She led the way, followed by her grandson. Tian Xin-er thought over the other’s statement and saw the wisdom in that. She reached for a silver nugget in Huang Yitao’s money pouch and gave it to the Mongolian girl.

    “This is the best that we can do. Take care.” She cupped her hands as a farewell gesture and walked away, pulling Huang Yitao with her. The young maiden sighed disappointedly and walked to her donkey that was tied to a tree.

    Huang Yitao was still concerned about the young woman. “Are you sure it is all right to leave her like this? She doesn’t know any martial arts and is far from her own home.” He whispered to his sworn sister.

    Tian Xin-er whispered back to him. “Don’t worry, Yitao. That lady has just got on her donkey. If she travels on this road, which leads to the next town, I can keep an eye on her. When we arrive there, I’ll look for a sign of an escort house for her, and that will be a good excuse to send a letter to Wu Tang too. For now, we’d better not to annoy our host.”

    Huang Yitao nodded with satisfaction. “Xin-er, you are very thoughtful and thorough.”

    As she had promised her sworn brother, all the way to town, Tian Xin-er sat outside next to the driver, silently watching over the foreign girl who was riding along the same lane, just after their wagon.

    Inside the carriage, Shu Qiuyang mentioned to his grandmother. “That lady is right behind us. She seems to determine about having Miss Tian as her mentor.”

    The old lady uninterestedly answered. “She is probably just going the same way as we are since this road is the only route to town. You think too much.” In her mind, she was forming a daring idea.

    In town, Tian Xin-er was trying to sneak away to find an escort house but was followed every step by Shu Qiuyang. She finally turned around and politely chased him away, but he grinned at her instead.

    “Sorry, Miss. My grandmother ordered me to be with you all the time in town. She doesn’t want you to get lost thus delay our journey. I have passed this town once on our way to Wu Dang, so if you tell me where you want to go, I’ll take you there.” He added helpfully.

    Tian Xin-er sighed with exasperation. She was strolling along the main thoroughfare, scanning the goods from side street stalls. She controlled herself before speaking to the young man civilly.

    “I am just trying to find an escort agency for that foreign girl so that she can get back home in safety.” Her eyes wandered around.

    Shu Qiuyang laughed. “There is no such service in this town, and neither someone to run a letter for you and Master Huang.”

    Tian Xin-er raised her eyebrows, realizing that her plan was foiled. However, she smiled calmly. “That is all right. There are always another towns.”

    Then she frowned. What should she do with the Mongolian girl then?

    Her problem was solved unexpectedly by the grandmother who was with Huang Yitao at the moment. The pair was at a stall, looking at various items. Huang Yitao was asked by Tian Xin-er to keep the old lady’s company so that she could be free to do her business. While doing that, he grabbed the chance to buy a gift for his new sister. After some consideration, he decided on a small dagger. He chose one from the pile and paid for it. Then, he stored it in his inner shirt, thinking that he would present it to Tian Xin-er later.

    Just then, sweet voice rang out. “Excuse me. Do you know where my mentor is?”

    Huang Yitao looked up and saw the Mongolian maiden standing next to him. She was looking for Tian Xin-er as she had lost sight of the group at the last leg of journey due to her donkey’s slowness. Fortunately, she recognized Huang Yitao and thought that he might be able to convince his friend for her, as she noticed that he seemed close to her-to-be mentor.

    “Oh! Xin-er is somewhere with Master Shu, I think. She is trying to find someone to accompany you to your uncle.” Then, he quickly consoled the other when he observed that she was unhappy. “Miss, we are having a long way to go and a task to perform; my sister, Xin-er, is really not at liberty to be your mentor at this moment. Hope Miss would understand.”

    The other considered his words and suddenly smiled. “No problem. I can always travel with you then go back to my uncle after you are done with your mission. You are going to the north border, aren’t you?” She detected the northern accent from the old lady and her grandson.

    She then boasted with half-truth. “I am very good with direction. Although I’m not a native here, I am quite familiar with all roads in this area up to Shanxi.” Actually, she had traveled from Shanxi only once although she knew the geography around this part quite well due to her spending time in hiding for the past two weeks.

    The old lady scorned. “How could a foreigner like you know the roads in China? I have come through this region before too, but I still don’t know everything.”

    The younger maiden argued. “But I can lead you to a short cut. You can travel faster that way.”

    The old lady smiled in disbelief. “But all short cuts from here to Shanxi were flooded.”

    The other shook her head. “No, that cannot be true. I was talking to some traders who came from Shanxi just yesterday, and I would have known if such thing happened.” She used to give money to woodcutters in exchange for food and shelter. It was only when she passed through the last town that someone accidentally ran into her and cut away her purse.

    The pox-marked lady was confused. She compared the information from the old man she met this morning and from this young lady and hesitated. Suddenly, a thought dawned to her. Come to think of it, Tian Xin-er was the one who found the woodcutter for her. Thus, it was possible that she had been tricked by the young disciple of Emei.

    She stared at Huang Yitao suspiciously but met only a pair of honest eyes. So, she turned to the other instead and asked, “are you sure that you can lead us to Shanxi?”

    The reply was, “of course”, and that was enough for her. Furious, she took out a silver whistle and blew it, making birdlike noise. Then, she dragged the foreign girl with her to a main stable where their carriage was lodged. Huang Yitao worriedly followed the two women; he sensed that something was wrong.

    The three met Shu Qiu Yang and Tian Xin-er at the stable door. Without a word, the old woman pointed at their two horses, and Huang Yitao went to harness the steeds to the cart. Then, she ordered her grandson.

    “Yang-er, go fetch this young lady’s donkey. Then meet us at the town gate. You will ride it from now on because she will travel with us and will sit in the carriage with Miss Tian and me.”

    The young man in gray clothes blinked astonishingly but did as he was told. He asked the new member the whereabouts of her ride and went outside for it.

    Tian Xin-er was the most surprised of all. She was about to ask questions but received a hard stare from her elder. She turned to Huang Yitao and was warned through his concerned eyes. So, she kept quiet and meekly took her usual seat.

    The youngest maiden squealed with delight. She clapped her hands with joy and bowed to Tian Xin-er. “Mentor,” she called.

    Tian Xin-er attempted to discourage the other from saying that but gave up after a while. Amid the other’s ceaseless talk, she could hardly get her word in, much less got her protest across. At the end, she sighed wearily. This trip was going to be a long and tiring one.

    The old lady secretly smiled with mirth. She didn’t pick the wrong person after all for her new guest kept chatting away and questioning Tian Xin-er till the other had no time to think of anything else. Through the conversation, they learned that this young lady was called ‘Jiaping’. Of the surname, they were not informed.

    Realizing that her disguise was seen through and so eager to please Tian Xin-er, Jiaping trustingly explained that she had run away from home because she felt bored, but now she wanted to visit her uncle outside the Great Wall before returning to her tribe in the desert. She had been traveling southward from Shanxi to Henan to throw the sense off her father’s servants, who undoubtedly were looking for her at the present.

    Tian Xin-er listened to the other’s tale and believed only parts of it. Her old street-wise instinct told her that there was yet another story below the surface. There seemed to be more of this talkative maiden. At times, her eyes would look sad and filled with foreboding for the unknown future.

    Tian Xin-er observed loneliness in the other’s eyes and had to swallow back her refusal concerning being a mentor. She looked across the coach, caught a gleeful look from the old lady, and came to conclusion that her leg was being pulled by her senior. She felt irritated at first then eventually understood that it was just a revenge for her woodcutter trick this morning. Consequently, she settled down in lighter heart and planned to take Jiaping as her apprentice for real just for the sake of irking the older woman.

    The group grew, and the journey continued.
    -----------------------
    hope it is not too much rambling. I am trying to make xin-er a heroic figure, but I am not very good at it. <IMG SRC="smilies/tongue.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">

    hope 'the other' dialogue thing is not too confusing or repitative. <IMG SRC="smilies/redface.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/blush.gif" border="0">

    thank you for reading

    [ August 17, 2002: Message edited by: Goofy ]
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  17. #17
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    almost forgot - I also post the story at winglin:
    http://www.winglin.net/fanfic/heavenandearth
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  18. #18
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Good job Goofy! I have begun picturing it as a movie in my head! It is so funny!
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  19. #19
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    I have just revised the chapter 4 to make the story flow better. Please leave comment. <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> thank you. <IMG SRC="smilies/bow.gif" border="0">
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  20. #20
    Senior Member MYF's Avatar
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    hehe, good chapter, great characters Goofy <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">
    my right arm slams shut

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