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Thread: The Black Dragon Swordsman

  1. #21
    Senior Member Long's Avatar
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    Default Comments on Chapter 6

    Okay, a pretty boring chapter compared to the rest, but does its job to set the scene for the next few chapters.

    Chapter 7: Travelling with a Rogue

    Obviously as it implies, we head off to the Demon Valley and the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult. We finally get to meet our main character. But most of you reading would know that I have silently introduced him already at the end of Chapter 6.

    Take care. Comments are welcomed. Until next time.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  2. #22
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    Interesting story.

    Just a nit pick. I don't think the idea of '4 aces' or Si Da Tian Wang existed in the Ming Dynasty! Those are based on poker cards!

    Likewise for the thumbs up gesture.

  3. #23
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    Default Chapter 7: Travelling with a Rogue

    Chapter 7: Travelling with a Rogue

    It’s now lunchtime in Kaifeng, and the streets are full of people. The various restaurants and inns are full as people gather to enjoy a few quite drinks and a wholehearted lunch. Most of the tradesmen and labourers ares sitting down to take a well-earned break from the hard day of work, preparing for another tough second half of the day ahead. A few retired grey beared men sit on the side of the streets smoking pipe weed, sing old folk songs, and tell of stories of legends and heroes long gone. Young scholars and merchants walk through the market holding a birdcage in hand. A large crowd is circling around a young band of female street circus performers to enjoy the free entertainment. The circus performers stand in a straight line shoulder to shoulder, whilst joining their hands, in preparation of their performance.

    Suddenly five of the young females move forward to form the base of the formation. They are standing in a star position, with their legs apart and are holding onto each other’s hands. Another four young ladies motion forward before jumping onto the shoulders of the five girls at the base. They too stand in a star position and form the second layer to the formation. Soon three more young ladies leap onto the shoulders of the four young females forming the second layer. Finally another two young girls leap onto the back of the three young girls in the third layer. The final young girl does a summersault before leaping on top of the top of the formation and forms the peak. She takes a generous bow upon reaching the top. Moments later all of the girls in the formation do a back flip before landing on the ground in the same position as they had started. They were all standing shoulder to shoulder in a straight line once again.

    In order to reach the top of the peak, one requires a stable foundation and solid support. Once the foundation and support is broken, everything ends up from where it started. Much like life. Loud claps and applause erupt from the crowd upon seeing this acrobatic display. Moments later many of the people in the crowd begin to scatter. A few kind and gentle souls remain to pay a small tribute in the form of coin donations to the street performers. They are forced to live off the small income they make busking on the street, whilst they wait for their big break, and starring roles at the grand Kaifeng Opera.

    Amongst the crowd still clapping and praising the street performers whole heartily with a smile on her face is none other than, Bak Tin Kiew. She had planned to go down to the market and pawn some of her valuable items for money, but had been caught up watching the various performers who were busking in the market place. She could now smell the sweet aroma of roast pork, roast duck, and rice noodles in the air. Her tummy started to rumble. A sign that she has not eaten since breakfast and was now very hungry. In the normal days at Taishan, Bak Tin Kiew could just shout a lunch order to her maid and would have what she wanted within minutes. But today was a different matter. Noticing a roast duck street vendor to the right hand side of the market, Bak Tin Kiew was just about to wonder over and buy some lunch when she realised she did not have any money on her. Taking a glance around to observe her surroundings and the market place, Bak Tin Kiew noticed a small pawnshop to the right hand corner. She immediately approached the merchant.

    Opening her small blue cloth bag containing various precious items, Bak Tin Kiew asked, “Merchant, is it possible to pawn these items here?”.

    The merchant was standing behind a small window and going about his business. At the moment he was in the process of cleaning away dust from a set of porcelain dinner plates. His pawnshop was rather small. There were small shelves and cupboards behind the merchant displaying various items such as small jade lion statutes, small marble tiger statutes, porcelain vases, and medium sized statutes of the Budda.

    The merchant himself looked around 60 years of age. His hair had gone all white. A long white beard and moustache covered his old wrinkled face. He had an honest and trustworthy look. He wore a long blue merchant’s robe, and hat with gold trimmings.

    “Little girl, can’t you read? What does the sign say? Don’t waste my time with useless questions! I am a busy man you know!”, scoffed the old merchant as he kept cleaning. It was obvious that he had a very bad temper.

    “How rude!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself. She had always lived at Taishan, and as the daughter of the Chancellor of Wulin had become very used to people speaking in respectful and polite tone to her.

    Hearing no response, the old merchant shouted out loud, “Well what do you want? This is not a museum! I’m trying to run a business! You can’t stand here all the day! If you don’t want to pawn your precious items then I suggest that you leave immediately!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew turned her head away in disgust and ignored the old merchant. She had made up her mind that she would not pawn her items at this particular store as the merchant had been very rude to her. Looking around she noticed another pawnshop at the opposite corner of market. Placing her precious items back into her small blue bag Bak Tin Kiew decided to walk towards the other pawnshop.

    As she walked away she could heard the old merchant mumbling under his breath, “How very typical. Just because my shop is small, these dammed little young rich girls think they’re all too good to be pawning their items here at my store. They’ll learn. They’ll learn”.

    Before Bak Tin Kiew even reach the other store, the merchant had already come out to greet her.

    “Welcome! Welcome! What can I do for you?”, asked the merchant in a very polite tone whilst leading Bak Tin Kiew into his store.

    The merchant was a very short and fat middle aged man. He wore a golden robe with black trimmings. His store was extremely large. It contained all sorts of large, medium and small sized items, ranging from weapons, to furniture, clothing, and household decorations. The stall had all the second hand goods that anyone could need, and the merchant looked very profitable.

    “This merchant has better manners! I’m glad I came here!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought inwardly as she opened her small cloth bag.

    She placed all of her items on the table for the merchant to inspect. There were a total of 15 small items in her blue bag. These were all the various gifts and presents that she had received on her 16th birthday. Most of the items she took with her were jade bracelets, gold bracelets, gold necklaces, and golden hairpins.

    The merchant’s eyes and face lit up as he inspected one by one each of the items laid out onto the table by Bak Tin Kiew. One could see that all of Bak Tin Kiew’s items were new and in mint condition. A big wide smile crept across the merchant’s face as he glanced up and down to observe Bak Tin Kiew.

    After a long while the merchant finally decided to say, “Ah! Little girl you’re lucky to have come to my store! I am willing to pay you top price for these items! How much do you want for them?”.

    This was the first time Bak Tin Kiew had travelled through China, and it was also the first time that she had been without a maid. In normal days, she had very little to do with money, and often purchased things at the foot of Taishan without asking for the price. She would just point to an item that she wanted and her maid would arrange for the payment. How could she have known that the majority of the gifts that she had received on her birthday were very expensive and were the best quality. That’s because most of the unknown people who had sent gifts to Bak Tin Kiew for her 16th birthday, owed their lives to the heroic deeds of her mother Lin Chun Fa. So of course they would only send the best gifts and presents. Bak Tin Kiew had no idea that the total market value of all her items was actually well over 100 taels of silver.

    Bak Tin Kiew was momentarily lost in thought and did not know what to say. Seeing that the merchant had been very polite and appeared to be very honest so far, Bak Tin Kiew finally decided to say, “Merchant, there’s no need to pay top price for these items. All I want is the current market value for all these items!”.

    Glancing across Bak Tin Kiew with a wider grin, whilst at the same time stroking his nose with his right finger, the merchant praised, “Amazing! Truly amazing! Who would have thought that you’re such a decent person at such a young age. Most people your age would have grovelled and bargained over these items, and try to rip me off. I’m glad that you’re frank and up front with me. You’re not greedy at all. Amazing! Amazing!”.

    Upon hearing the praise from the merchant, Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help but feel a little proud inwardly. A smile flashed across her face. She said, “Money is only something that you need for the bare essentials like food and clothing. Having too much is not necessarily that good. Besides you can’t take it with you to the underworld when you die”.

    “Wonderful! Wonderful! What excellent logic! The world would indeed be a better place if everyone thought like you!”, replied the merchant sounding very honest.

    Speaking in a very direct tone, whilst still stroking his nose the merchant continued, “The current market value for all of your valuable items is 20 taels! But since you’re such a decent and honest person, I’d be more than delighted to pay you 30 taels!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew had no idea how much 20 taels actually was, but it sounded like that was all the money she needed for food and to travel to Hennan so she replied, “Merchant, there’s really no need to pay me 30 taels for all those items. I am happy enough with the market value. I’ll just take 20 taels!”.

    “Remarkable! Truly remarkable!”, replied the merchant adding to his earlier praise whilst still stroking his nose.

    Taking out a small bag of coins the merchant finally said, “Okay, since you insist 20 taels it is! Here you are!”

    Taking the 20 taels of coins in her hands, Bak Tin Kiew said with a cheerful smile, “It was a pleasure doing business with you! Take care”.

    “No it was a pleasure doing business with you!”, replied the merchant unable to hold back a little laughter. A bigger grin emerged on his face.

    Bak Tin Kiew suddenly felt very hungry again. Noticing a noodle vendor besides the other pawnshop at the opposite corner of the market, Bak Tin Kiew decided to walk over to purchase a bowl of steam black duck noodles. She was happily eating when she suddenly noticed that a young girl had approached the old bad tempered merchant to pawn a jade bracelet. She could see that the jade bracelet was of poorer quality than the ones that she had just sold to the sort fat merchant. She could not help but turn her head to observe the business transaction that was taking place to the side.

    “Excellent bracelet! I’ll pay you 3 taels for it”, the bad tempered street vendor could be heard saying out loud to the young girl.

    At first Bak Tin Kiew did not really pay much notice to what had just been said and kept on eating for a little while. Then a thought had struck her like lightning and she couldn’t resist the temptation to do a bit of mathematics and count rapidly with her fingers. Slamming her fist on the table, Bak Tin Kiew thought out loud, “Dam it! I’ve been tricked! I should have received at least 45 taels of silver for all of my valuable items!”.

    Turning to look at the other side of the street, Bak Tin Kiew suddenly noticed that the short fat merchant had already closed his shop for the day, having made more than his fare share of the profits already. Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help but be annoyed by this. She slammed her fist on the table once more, but knew there was nothing she could do at the moment. She knew she had finally learnt a valuable lesson in wulin, that people should not be taken at face value.

    A wave of depression overcame Bak Tin Kiew at this point as she realised that 20 taels of silver was probably not a whole lot of money. But she slightly cheered up upon remembering that she had left her horse at the stable back at the ‘3 Fortune Inn’ after deciding not to sell it.

    “I can sell my horse if I need more money!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself. Although she began to relax a little, she couldn’t help but still feel a little annoyed at having been fooled and taken advantage off by the short fat merchant.

    Having had her lunch, Bak Tin Kiew wandered over to the other side of the market to the pigeon courier service and had arranged for a message to be delivered the ‘Divine Gods and Goddesses Inn’ in Luoyang to her master, Fung Mun Kit. In the letter Bak Tin Kiew informed her master of the weird events that she had seen the previous night and warned her to be careful. Sending the message and lunch costed 4 taels. So Bak Tin Kiew decided to head back to the ‘3 Fortune Inn’ to rest instead of going to observe the sights and enjoy the scenery. She was afraid that she might loose all of her money a second time, if she spent too much time wandering through the city all by herself. There were various thieves in the city of Kaifeng, looking to pounce on the unexpecting. She went back to her room to practise the sword arts and inner energy from the two Divine Butterfly Sect kung fu manuals that her master had left behind. She had made some steady progress in the last month under the direct tutor of Fung Mun Kit. Her inner energy was still a little low compared with that of a moderate to highly skilled fighter. That’s mainly a result of her starting practising kung fu at such a late stage in her life. Most of the elite fighters in wulin began at the age of three years of age.

    Feeling a little tired and sweating slightly, Bak Tin Kiew decided to go to the side of her room and open the windows for some fresh air. Upon opening the window, she was amazed that it had already become dark. Looking up at the evening sky and the various people sitting outside in the gardens, she estimated that it must have been around 7.00pm or 8.00pm. It was dinnertime and she felt slightly hungry. Taking out the small bag of coins, Bak Tin Kiew counted that she only had 16 taels left to spend. Whether that was enough to catch a boat down the Yellow River from Kaifeng to Hennan, she was unsure. But she knew that she needed to spend her money wisely, otherwise she would not make it to the Demon Valley and meet up with her master again. She ate a variety of dim sims served with herbal tea the previous night with her master and that costed 8 taels. But she knew she could not afford that tonight.

    “I guess I’ll have to settle for steamed black duck noodles again!”, Bak Tin Kiew though to herself, as she grabbed her sword and headed back out to the market.

    Upon walking outside, Bak Tin Kiew noticed that the city of Kaifeng was still as busy as it was during the day. It seemed as if this city was bustling non-stop 24 hours a day. Bright lanterns are hung above the streets and aloft shopfronts to light the main street. People walk about here and there, going about their own business, whilst others circle to watch the street performers.

    An old skinny man in his late 80s wearing torn black robes can be heard singing a lone opera on the side of the street. He was banging two sticks together to keep the beat going.

    Once upon a time,
    There was a peaceful man,
    He committed no crime,
    Yet was punished to death,

    How can this be?,
    Heavens eyes are blinded,
    It does not see,

    There was a young lady,
    As beautiful as the moon,
    She only said maybe,
    Dated few men and died a loner,

    Why is this so?,
    True love is hard to find,
    Opportunities must be taken otherwise they go,

    There was a youth,
    He was both knowledgable and wise,
    He searched for the truth,
    Only to die a fool,

    How can this be?,
    When searching with the mind,
    The heart is not free,

    A young lady had many admirers,
    Rejected the kind and caring,
    Only to fall for the losers,
    She died of grief and misery,

    Why is there such a thing?,
    When one chooses a loser,
    They destined for a life of losing,

    Indeed the world is a troubled place,
    Against the hands of time we race,

    We will eventually die some day,
    So don’t listen to what others say,
    It’s better that we live our own way.

    Bak Tin Kiew was standing amongst the crowd, listening to the old man’s song. She did not really know the meaning behind the song, and thought that the old man was just talking gibberish. His view of love and life seemed a little twisted. So she kept on walking and found a street noodle vending store not far ahead. She proceeded to the street vendor and ordered a bowl of steamed black duck noodles, before sitting herself down at a small table and started to eat.

    Soon two swordsmen in white robes with red trimmings sat down on a table next to hers. A red half-crescent moon can be seen on the right hand corner of their robes, above their chest. They were obviously members of the Demon Cult.

    “We have an order from ‘Lighting’ of the 5 Storms to leave Kaifeng and head back to the Demon Valley!”, said the first man could be heard saying.

    “It’s about time! We’ve wasted too much time and effort looking for that lady in red! She’s obviously not here!”, replied the second man as he slammed his fist on the table.

    Bak Tin Kiew looked up at this point and finally noticed the two men sitting at the table next to her. She clutched her sword tightly in the left hand under the table, in preparation for an unexpected attack. She continued eating using her right hand. Keeping her head down, she listened into the conversation of the two men.

    “I honestly don’t know why we wasted so much effort in trying to find her. Either way we will win and young Ms Tit Yum Ching will become the Chancellor”, said the first man again.

    “Even if it were a 40, 40, 40 deadlock for the leadership, the ‘5 Storms’ are virtually unbeatable these days following the death of ‘Sword Saint Unrivalled East’, and ‘Sabre Saint Invincible West’. We have nothing to fear!”, agreed the second man.

    “We are guaranteed of victory!”, the two men could be heard laughing out loud together.

    Just at this moment a mysterious man emerged from out of the darkness from behind a street corner. One could see that he was a very tall and skinny man in his mid 20s. He wore a plain white robe and with a black cape that is flustering in the breeze. A red half-crescent moon was embroided on the top right hand corner of his robes. A pair of sails was carried in his left hand. A bamboo rain hat rests on his head, helping to shield his face from visible sight. His eyes were blue and glowed in the darkness. This was an indication that this man possessed some very unique skills and abilities.

    “Shut up! Be quiet! What do you two know?”, shouted the mysterious man as he walked forward to approach the two men.

    The faces of the two men turned pale, and they looked to be in some shock. They quickly cupped their hands together before managing to say, “Young master ‘Rain’, forgive us! We did not mean to discuss the affairs of the Demon Cult so openly!”.

    The young master the two Demon Cult members were referring to was none other than ‘Rain’ of the 5 Storms. It is rumoured through wulin that Rain is the 3rd apprentice of the former Chancellor of the Demon Cult. He possessed exceptional lightness kung fu and was a highly skilled fighter. He had a very bad temperament and was very arrogant. This was a result of his confidence of his own fighting abilities.

    “I will let you two off the hook this time! However you’re both sure to get a good beating from senior apprentice brother ‘Lightning’ when we get back to the Demon Valley!”, Rain could be heard saying in a chilling voice.

    Pausing for a moment to slap the two men hard across the face, Rain continued, “Useless! Really god dam useless! There are 20 of you here in Kaifeng and you couldn’t even locate one woman! How hard could it be? If the orthodox clans heard about this, we would surely become the laughing stock of wulin!”.

    Coughing up a mouthful of blood from being slapped so hard, the two men rushed to say, “We accept our punishment! We have failed the Demon Cult! What would the young master have us do?”.

    “The men in Luoyang have sent me a message by the pigeons that they have managed to locate the elusive ‘Black Bat Assassin’. You are to take your 20 men to assist the others in Louyang in capturing him before returning to the Demon Valley. Remember not to kill him as we need his lone vote to gain victory in the elections!”, replied Rain whilst folding his arms.

    “Yes, young master! We understand!”, replied the two men as they got up from the table to leave.

    “Wait!”, replied Rain holding a hand up in the air.

    At this moment Rain was observing Bak Tin Kiew, and noticed the two black butterflies carved into the hilt of her sword. He thought inwardly, “So she’s from the Divine Butterfly Sect and has overheard our conversation”.

    Pointing with an index finger in the direction of Bak Tin Kiew, Rain said, “This little witch is a member of the Divine Butterfly Sect! Kill her!”.

    The two Demon Cult members suddenly rushed forward to attack without a word. One thrust was aimed towards Bak Tin Kiew’s right shoulder and the other was aimed for her left shoulder. Rain stood to the side and watched on with his arms folded, thinking that it was unnecessary for him to attack, and the little girl would still be overwhelmed. Pushing the table forward with her hands to block the blow, Bak Tin Kiew jumped up from her seat and unsheathed her sword. The chopsticks, and bowls on the table flew in the air. The black duck noodle soup hit one of the men squarely in the face. The table broke into pieces when it collided with the curved sabres wielded by the Demon Cult members. Bak Tin Kiew did two back flips to create some distance between herself and the two Demon Cult members.

    Upon seeing the fight, the street vendor and the various customers fled into the night to preserve their lives. A young man in his early 20s and a young boy around the age of 7-8 years of age remained seated at one of the far tables. The ignored the fight and were calmly eating their noodles. On closer inspection one could notice that they were both wearing torn and weathered brown robes. An old bamboo rain hat rested on the table. Neither of them was carrying a weapon. Two fishing poles rested by the side of the table. No one paid any attention to them as they appeared to be local fisherman.

    Not wasting any time, the two Demon Cult members jumped forward launching another series of attacks towards the mid chest and the lower stomach region. Seeing the vicious nature of the attacks, along with being inexperienced in a real combat situation, Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help but gasp inwardly. She did another back flip to avoid the two strikes. The moves she was using were the evasive stances from the Divine Butterfly Sect that Fung Mun Kit had taught her. She had only been taught in the arts of self-defence and did not know how to attack yet using the sword arts from the Divine Butterfly Sect.

    At this moment the first swordsman leapt up to stand to the right side of Bak Tin Kiew, before launching a strike slashing towards her head. A loud ‘cling’ sound could be heard as Bak Tin Kiew blocked that strike with her sword before flicking her wrists to turn defence into attack. This was one of the stances from the Wudang sword art. Not having expected that an attacking strike would suddenly be launched from a defending position, the first Demon Cult swordsman received a slight cut to his forehead. He could feel tiny drops of blood trickling down onto his nose and face.

    “Why, dam you! You little witch! I’m going to chop you into thousand pieces”, cursed the first swordsman whilst launching another strike at Bak Tin Kiew’s stomach region.

    At this time the second Demon Cult swordsman stood behind Bak Tin Kiew and launched a strike attacking the back of her head. Bak Tin Kiew did another two back flips upon seeing the two strikes, realising that she could not possibly block both of them with her modest skills.

    “Get back here! You little witch”, cursed the second swordsman getting a little bit frustrated and being unable to subdue a little girl.

    The second swordsman leapt forward and slashed towards Bak Tin Kiew’s right arm.

    “Ah Ya!”, cried the second swordsman as he leapt back in shock. He had received a slight flesh wound to his own right arm, after Bak Tin Kiew had blocked the move and counterattacked from the original point of attack. Blood was dripping down on his right arm from his shoulders. Both men were now hot in rage and slightly embarrassed.

    The two men were injured not because of Bak Tin Kiew’s skills, but by their sheer over confidence in their own abilities to subdue a little girl with what seemed like very average kung fu. Had they been attacking an elite fighter, they would not have attacked so rashly and would have been more cautious.

    “Shameful! Absolutely shameful! How can you two expect to catch the ‘Black Bat Assassin with such poor skills! Now get out of my way! I’ll show you how it’s done!”, Rain cursed at the two Demon Cult swordsmen with a vicious glare as he stepped forward. He had seen enough.

    Rain attacked forward with a sail in each hand. One was launched for Bak Tin Kiew’s heart and the other for the adam’s apple pressure point. Upon seeing the attack, Bak Tin Kiew decided to do three back flips to create some distance between herself and Rain. But to her surprise Rain had maintained his position and now stood right in front her. The tips of the two sails were about to penetrate her body. Death was now only a few inches and seconds ahead. Bak Tin Kiew broke out in cold sweat upon realising that this was were her life was going to end.

    Suddenly a swishing sound could be heard as a tiny shinny object flew through the air from behind Bak Tin Kiew, and attacked towards Rain’s right eye.

    It was followed by loud laughter, as a masked man in black robes dashed to the side of Bak Tin Kiew. The masked man could be heard saying in a mocking tone, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Shameful! Really shameful! Three grown men ganging up and attacking a little defenceless girl!”.

    Ducking low to avoid the tiny projectile that had been launched at him, before executing a back flip of his own, Rain cursed, “Who the heck are you? How dare you interfere in events of the Demon Cult!”.

    “You’re talking to me? Who am I? I am a nobody in wulin!”, replied the masked man turning his head away from Rain before winking at Bak Tin Kiew. This was an indication that he did not respect Rain’s abilities and skills in combat.

    He then continued in a mocking voice, “I dare not compare myself with the great Rain from the 5 Storms! Your skills in attacking little defenceless girls are unrivalled in wulin! You therefore have no equal in this regard. What truly remarkable abilities for a young man such as yourself! Amazing! Amazing!”.

    “Where I have heard this voice before?”, Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help thinking inwardly as she stood behind the masked man. She was feeling quite relaxed now as the masked man appeared to be very confident in his own abilities to defeat the three Demon Cult members in front of her.

    “Look it’s a 13 Phantom Venom needle”, cried the first Demon Cult swordsman as he picked up the tiny projective that had hit the ground after striking into the wall.

    Rain was now staring at the masked man in wonder. Never before have the 7 Vixens taken on a male apprentice. Yet there is this young man who stands before him who knows how to use the 13 Phantom Venom needles. These kind of projectiles are a speciality of Fung Lau Yin and no others. That’s why even Fung Ching Mun of the 7 Vixens died from the poison of the 13 Phantom Venom needles all those years ago. Rain became slightly cautious because of this.

    “So your master is that dam horny vixen, Fung Lau Yin! Where is she?”, asked Rain in a very demanding tone.

    “This must be the young man who was in the room talking with Fung Lau Yin the other night”, Bak Tin Kiew thought inwardly again.

    “Master? You’re mistaken! She’s not my master!”, rebutted the masked man.

    “She’s not your master? Then who taught you how to use the 13 Phantom Venom needles!”, asked Rain again in shock.

    Grinning slightly, the young masked man continued, “Deadly aren’t they? Best used to deal with the scum bags and low lives of wulin!”.

    “Why you little rotten bastard! You must be tired of living”, cried Rain, as he launched forward twisting his body in a horizontal flying position to attack towards the heart and chest region of the young masked man.

    Rain leapt forward at such an amazing speed that the young masked man only just managed to escape the attack. He too appeared to be a little inexperienced in a real combat as he suffered a slight flesh wound to the right chest region.

    “Excellent move! Excellent move! What do you call this one?”, the young masked man remarked whilst he was clapping his hands. One could not be sure whether he was really praising Rain’s excellent move or jesting at him. He ignored the blood dripping from the wound for the time being and maintained a grin on his face.

    “Good isn’t it? That’s the ‘heavenly rain from the clouds’ stance!”, replied Rain. He was rather proud of this particular move and was now even prouder that someone had praised it.

    “Excellent! Really excellent! In my entire life I’ve never managed to receive such a tiny scratch as this before. Thank you! Thank you!”, mocked the young masked man as he drew out his black paper fan.

    “Why you little bastard! I’m going to kill you!”, shouted Rain clearly upset by those comments.

    Rain launched a strike aiming for the young masked man’s head with his right sail. The young masked man ducked out of the way and launched a strike towards the chest of Rain. He blocked that move with the sail in his left hand, before counter attacking with the sail in his right hand pointing towards the young masked man’s chest. Seeing this attack, the young masked man retracted his fan and opened it up to protect his chest. The deadlock lasted for another 20 stances.

    Suddenly the young masked man could be seen leaping backwards to create some distance between himself and his opponent. He threw his black paper fan forward as he executed this move to launch an unexpected attack at Rain. The black paper fan flew through the air like a real bat attacking the right side of Rain’s neck. Upon seeing this Rain leapt backwards and did not try to block the blow. The paper fan chased after him for a while before suddenly changing directions and zipped back into the hands of the young masked man.

    “So Kiu Pin Fok, the Black Bat Assassin is your real master then!”, shouted Rain. He was now standing some distance away. He was truly amazed by now at the young masked man’s abilities. Rain had always considered himself to be amongst the top 10 elite fighters of the Demon Cult. Yet this evening, he was deadlocked with an unknown young man after around 30 stances.

    “Sorry to disappoint you again! He is not my master!”, replied the young masked man with a grin.

    “Doesn’t matter either way! Since you have some connection with both Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok we’re going to capture you all the same!”, said Rain in a very confident tone.

    “You want the last two votes! Not so easy!”, smirked the young masked man.

    Dashing forward to launch another series of attack at the young masked man, Rain shouted, “What are you two waiting for? Let’s attack!”.

    Ducking to the left and blocking a strike with his black paper fan the young masked man could be heard saying, “So you admit that your skills are lower than mine! Ha! Ha! The three of you won’t make any great difference! Your skills combined are still very poor! You three are not even worthy of roaming through wulin!”.

    “Little bastard!”, cursed Rain under his breath as he continued with a series of powerful attacks with his pair of sails aiming for the chest of the young masked man. The young masked man could now be heard laughing under his breath blocked both of Rain’s attacks.

    “What about her?”, said the first Demon Cult swordsman whilst pointing with his index finger over to Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Don’t worry about her! This young fellow in front of us will gain the Demon Cult the two votes that we need to win!”, replied Rain as he twisted his body and launched two direct strikes covering the young masked man’s right and left thigh.

    The young masked man leaped out of the way and spun to his left. Seeing that the two other Demon Cult members had also started to launch strikes at him to the side, the young masked man became a little concerned. He was now ducking and dodging the four weapons frantically and suffered another flesh wound to the left arm from an attack launched by Rain. The situation had become untenable.

    Finally deciding to utilise his Ghost Mountain lightness kung fu to leap up onto the rooftops the young masked man could be heard issuing a challenge to Rain, “I hear that your lightness kung fu is pretty average. So don’t even bother about trying to chase me down! You’re too slow and won’t be able to keep up”.

    The young masked man had used this insult to anger Rain into chasing him. That way Bak Tin Kiew could escaped unscathed. This worked like magic, as Rain was outraged by those comments, and gave chase without giving it a second thought. It was well known in wulin that Rain possessed excellent lightness kung fu and often relied on stealth and quickness to beat his opponents. However regardless of how excellent Rain’s lightness kung fu was, it was still a level below that of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins and the 7 Vixens.

    “You’re too slow!”, the young masked man could be heard shouting out loud in the distance. His voice became fainter and fainter.

    “Let’s return to the 3 Fortune Inn and gather some men to help young master Rain”, said the first Demon Cult swordsman.

    “That little bastard is pretty powerful!”, agreed the second Demon Cult swordsman, following closely behind the first swordsman. They both ignored Bak Tin Kiew and soon disappeared down the corner of the street before rushing off in the direction of the 3 Fortune Inn.

    Bak Tin Kiew stood in the dark by herself for a while. She was momentarily stunned by the events that had taken place before her. Had the young masked man not come to her rescue she would now be dead. Looking towards the far table Bak Tin Kiew noticed that the two fishermen who had been calmly eating their noodles had now disappeared without a trace. Bak Tin Kiew thought they must have left shortly after Rain had started his series of attacks on her.

    “Why did that young masked man help me?”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself. For now she was not sure why someone would save her life. No one knew who she was and she was virtually a no one in wulin. She thought about this for another while before finally heading back to the 3 Fortune Inn.

    Bak Tin Kiew now only had 14 taels remaining and decided that she would sell her horse in the morning for travelling expenses. She had made up her mind to travel to the city of Hennan to meet up with her master before the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult. She was sure that her master would head that way shortly after locating Kiu Pin Fok and Fung Lau Yin. Bak Tin Kiew slept very well that evening. Her nightmares had virtually disappeared for the last two weeks, since she began practising kung fu. She woke up late the next morning around 8.00am. Going through her usual routine, she washed her face, dressed herself, ate a little breakfast before spending around another 30 minutes practising a little bit of martial arts. By the time she went to check out of the 3 Fortune Inn, it was 9.00am in the morning. She had only 12 taels remaining.

    As Bak Tin Kiew approached the stables, she noticed something very odd. There were only 6 horses left. The stable boy was no where in sight and her horse had gone missing. She became a little worried.

    “Stable boy! Where are you? I have a few questions to ask of you!”, shouted Bak Tin Kiew trying to locate the stable boy.

    There was no response for a long while, and Bak Tin Kiew was now becoming a little impatient. She shouted out loud, “Stable boy! If you don’t come out and tell me what’s going on, I’ll have to tell the manager!”.

    “Wait! Don’t go!”, cried the stable boy as he emerged from behind a large thicket of bushes. One could see that he had two black eyes, his lips were split, and it seems as if he had been whipped hard. The back of his robes was torn and he was bleeding badly.

    Seeing the stable boy in such a bad state, Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help but ask, “Stable boy, please tell me what happened! Where is my horse?”.

    Looking very apologetic, the stable boy said, “I’m deeply sorry miss, but your horse was been stolen last night by a thug in white robes wearing a bamboo rain hat on his head. I tried to stop him, but his two friends jumped on me. I… I… I…”.

    It was now obvious to Bak Tin Kiew that the horse had been stolen by Rain. He had probably used it to travel in some great speed during the night to head off to Luoyang.

    “Don’t worry about it! I understand! I don’t blame you either!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew giving a sigh.

    Bak Tin Kiew knew there was not much that a common stable boy could do against two members of the Demon Cult and Rain. The stable boy had probably tried his best to prevent them from stealing her horse and had been beaten up and tortured as a result. She could have told the manager and got some compensation for her stolen horse, but she decided against it upon seeing the sad state that the stable boy was in.

    “Thank you, young miss!”, replied the stable boy whilst bowing.

    Changing the subject, Bak Tin Kiew asked, “Where’s the port from here? I want to travel to Hennan along the Yellow River!”.

    “It’s to the north western corner of the city from here! All you have to do is take the first left and keep following the road until to see a dirt path to the right. Take this path and you’ll reach the port in around 45 minutes walk. If you want to travel in luxury on one of the fairies, it will cost around 6-10 taels. However many of the local fishermen who trade and do business in Hennan can take you there at a very affordable rate!”, replied the stable boy feeling a little better. Had Bak Tin Kiew complained to the manager, he would have definitely lost his job.

    Bak Tin Kiew was about to walk off when the stable boy rushed up to her and said, “If you intend to travel with a local fisherman to Hennan. It’s best that you go on Fisherman Ho’s vessel. There are many pirates about on the Yellow River, but fisherman Ho is familiar and has friends in wulin. So no one bothers him”.

    “Thanks!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew as she left the 3 Fortune Inn.

    Bak Tin Kiew followed the directions of the young stable boy and soon arrived at the Kaifeng Port. There were various small vessels already out on the river casting lines and nets to catch the various trout, perch, and salmon in the river. Many of the locals are also sitting by the side of the river to cast a line. Looking from left to right to observe the surroundings, Bak Tin Kiew noticed that a lone small old boat was still docked by the side of the port. The old boat looked weathered and worn down. In fact there were various holes on the side of the boat just above the level of the water. The white mast was also torn. The face of the dragon was carved at the helm of the ship and the dragon’s tail was carved at the rear. It appeared that there was someone resting on the deck on the boat.

    Remembering the young stable boy’s advice, Bak Tin Kiew thought, “Which one is fisherman Ho? I’ll see if this person knows!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew walked up to the small boat and stood on the plank. She could now see that a young man in his early 20s was sleeping on the deck of the boat. He was using a bag of rice as a pillow. A bamboo rain hat rested on his head to shield his eyes from the morning sunlight. A long strand of dried straw was sticking out from his mouth. A torn brown robe covered his medium built body. His robes were really filthy and carried a fishy odour. His hands, arms, and face were covered in dirt. A jug of wine was resting by his side. It appeared that he been drinking all night.

    “God dam drunk!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself. She could now hear that the young man was snoring in a deep sleep. Looking around the dock, Bak Tin Kiew, couldn’t see any vessel or boat nearby whom she could ask about the location of fisherman Ho.

    Clearing her voice, Bak Tin Kiew shouted, “Hey you there! Do you know which one of those vessels along the river belongs to Fisherman Ho?”.

    The young fisherman turned his back on Bak Tin Kiew, and could still he heard snoring out loud. The long strand of straw in his mouth was moving up and down, to follow his breathing cycles.

    “HEY THERE! DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONE OF THOSE VESSELS OUT THERE BELONG TO FISHERMAN HO!”, shouted Bak Tin Kiew once more.

    The young man rolled over again and Bak Tin Kiew could see his face slightly from underneath the bamboo rain hat. He eyes were still shielded from the sun. Nothing had changed though. He still appeared to be in deep sleep and was snoring his head off. The long strand of straw in his mouth moved up and down.

    “Bloody lazy bum!”, cursed Bak Tin Kiew underneath her breath. In normal days at Taishan, no one would dare to ignore her. When she wanted to know something, she would immediately have the answer. So she was now running short of patience as she had planned to head off to Hennan as soon as possible. All she wanted to know was which boat belonged to Fisherman Ho so she could go on her way. It was a simple question.

    Bak Tin Kiew had enough and decided to cross the plank and walked onto the boat. Standing on the deck, she shook the young man a couple of times. Before saying, “Hey you, wake up! I have something to ask you!”.

    The young man just slapped away her hand before saying, “Oi! Little dog. Stop pestering me! Go away! I need to rest!”.

    This comment made Bak Tin Kiew even angrier. She lifted the bamboo rain hat from the young man’s face, and slapped him hard without thinking. She said, “How dare you call me a little dog!”.

    If the young man was asleep before, he was certainly awake now. Opening up his eyes, and feeling the side of his face the young man said, “What the heck? Who are you? What are you doing on my boat? Why did you slap me just now?”.

    “Why did I slap you? Because you just called me a little dog!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew whilst folding her arms. A very annoyed expression flashed across her face.

    Placing both of his hands behind his head before chewing on the long strand of grass in his mouth, the young man said casually whilst laughing, “You girls are really troublesome! Thinking you own this world and that everything has to do with you! Who called you a little dog?”.

    “You called me a little dog just now! I heard it with my own two ears! So don’t you dare deny it!”, rebutted Bak Tin Kiew as she drew out her sword.

    “I said, ‘Little Dog’, stop bugging me! What did that have to do with you? My young shipmate is called ‘Little Dog’! Did you know that?”, casually replied the young man. He was still laying on the deck whilst chewing on the long strand of grass.

    Seeing that Bak Tin Kiew had already drawn her sword, the young man said, “You must be the most short tempered person I’ve ever met in this entire world! Even if I called you a little dog! It is not a crime worth the punishment of death! Is it?”.

    Realising that she was in the wrong, Bak Tin Kiew said apologetically, “Alright! I’m sorry!”.

    “Humph! Little girl, you’ve got such a bad temper! You’re certainly going to find it very hard to get married! What kind of man would want to be with you? They would certainly die a horrible death if they are not beaten to death by you personally!”, smirked the man closing his eyes again, in an attempt to get back to sleep.

    “What did you say?”, shouted Bak Tin Kiew pointing her sword at the young man’s adam's apple pressure point. She was very angry as no one at Taishan had ever insulted her before and she was not used to it.

    But the young man did not seem at all concerned about his life. He lifted his left leg over his right leg, and continued to chew on the long strand of straw in his mouth. It was getting shorter and shorter now. After a while he said, “Go ahead! Push the sword and kill me! I am defenceless!”.

    Snickering a little, the young man said, “Just so typical! You people from wulin always take what you want and harm innocent people like myself. I have been used to being bullied all of my life! Go ahead! Kill me and end my misery!”

    Realising once more that she was in the wrong, Bak Tin Kiew withdrew her sword before saying, “I am sorry! I didn’t mean any harm!”.

    “Okay! Whatever! You can get off my boat now! I am tired and need to rest”, said the young man whilst waving his hands to indicate that he wished Bak Tin Kiew to leave.

    Opening one eye, the young man noticed that Bak Tin Kiew remained standing over him. He could be heard saying, “Oi! What are you doing? Why are you still standing here? I said get off my boat!”.

    “I’m not leaving!”, said Bak Tin Kiew folding her arms. She was still slightly annoyed at being unable to find who Fisherman Ho was. She was determined to find this out before leaving. Otherwise she had no way of travelling down the Yellow River to Hennan.

    “Why aren’t you leaving? What do you want?”, continued the young man in a casual tone upon hearing no response. He had in fact already guessed what the girl was going to say.

    “I am looking for a vessel to travel to the city of Hennan! The young stable boy at the 3 Fortune Inn recommended that I travel with Fisherman Ho. So I wanted to ask you if you knew which of the vessels belongs to Fisherman Ho. That’s all!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Oh! So you’re looking for Fisherman Ho!”, the young man could be heard saying as he closed his eyes again.

    Yawning slightly he continued, “He’s not far from here, you can wait here for him if you want! But he won’t be setting off until 12.00pm!”.

    The young man said no further words and fell into a deep sleep again. He could be heard snoring out loud.

    Bak Tin Kiew was slightly annoyed by this but had no choice but to wait. She stood over the young man with her arms folded. Looking down at the young man’s face for the first time, Bak Tin Kiew suddenly realised she had seen him before. He was the roguish waiter at the 3 Fortune Inn.

    Bak Tin Kiew now understood as she thought, “Ah! This young man said he worked on a casual basis on Fisherman Ho’s ship. This must be Fisherman Ho’s ship then! But where is he?”.

    Bak Tin Kiew stood on the deck of the boat and waited, and waited. Soon it was midday. Still there was no sign of Fisherman Ho. Bak Tin Kiew became impatient again.

    Tugging the young man by the sleeve, Bak Tin Kiew said, “Oi! Wake up! It’s midday already! Where’s Fisherman Ho?”.

    Yawning again, the young man said, “What do you want?”.

    “You said that Fisherman Ho would be here at 12.00pm! Where is he?”, replied Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Little girls must be patient! He’ll be here! I promise! Now let me get some sleep!”, opening his right eye the young man continued. Shutting his eyes again, he fell back into another deep sleep.

    “Lazy bum! Wake up!”, the voice of a young child could suddenly be heard yelling from the distance.

    Bak Tin Kiew turned around only to see a small boy around 7-8 years of age. He was dressed in a torn brown robe. He carried two large jugs of wine on a stick across his shoulders.

    “Surely this boy is not fisherman Ho”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself.

    “Bloody lazy bum! Get out here and help me!”, cursed the young boy under his breath. He had now approached the plank and boarded the boat.

    Giving the young man a kick to the backside, before resting the two large jugs of wine on the deck of the ship the young boy said, “Okay, you have your wine. Let’s set sail now! Otherwise we won’t be able to catch anything today!”.

    “Is that how you treat your elder?”, remarked the young man whilst rubbing his backside.

    Jumping onto his feet the young man continued, “Little Dog, I ought to give you a firm beating for kicking me in the backside. However I’ll let that slide since you’ve gone to great lengths to bring me some wine. Now get the ship ready!”.

    “Eh! Who’s that?”, remarked Ah Kau noticing that a young girl was on their boat.

    “Oh! That one! She’s looking to travel with Fisherman Ho to Hennan! Don’t ask so many questions. Just get the ship ready!”, replied the young man.

    “Ah! So in other words she’ll be coming with us then! Good we haven’t had a woman on this ship ever since auntie left!”, remarked Ah Kau as he untied the robes, and raised the mast. The small boat started to drift away from the dock.

    Looking at Bak Tin Kiew for the first time, the young man said, “You were looking for Fisherman Ho! Well that’s me! I told you he wasn’t far and to have patience, didn’t I?”.

    “What? You must be lying! I heard you mention to the manager at the 3 Fortune Inn that you worked on a casual basis for Fisherman Ho! So how can you be Fisherman Ho?”, remarked Bak Tin Kiew in shock.

    “What’s wrong with that? I am Fisherman Ho! I work for myself when I like! So there’s nothing wrong with me saying that I work with Fisherman Ho on a casual basis!”, replied the young man with a smirk.

    Walking back and forth along the deck of the boat in front of Bak Tin Kiew, Fisherman Ho said, “You can travel with me if you want. But you will have to promise you one thing!”

    Hearing that she didn’t need to pay for the journey, Bak Tin Kiew was slightly pleased. But then she realised that nothing in life was free and that Fisherman Ho might have some devious plot in mind. She cautiously replied, “Wait! You have to tell me what it is you want first. Otherwise I won’t promise!”.

    “Humph! Did you really think I am that dubious a person? And would make you promise to do something that would harm your reputation?”, asked Fisherman Ho casting a glance at Bak Tin Kiew.

    She did not reply, so Fisherman Ho continued, “I have a rule that all those who travel with me will have to work! I don’t take any payments. It’s for your own good anyway! So what is it going to be? Are you willing to work or not?”.

    Bak Tin Kiew had never been required to work before in her life. All she knew was that the servants were always dirty and filthy by the end of the day. But she didn’t have much money on her and couldn’t afford to spend another 10 taels just to travel down the Yellow River to Hennan.

    Not hearing a response Fisherman Ho asked whilst leaning forward, “Well? Have you decided yet?”.

    “Ah! I knew it already! Rich girls like yourself are used to having maids and servants look after you! You’re not used to working for yourself and endure some hardship! You can get off the boat in that case!”, continued Fisherman Ho whilst waving his hand at not hearing a response.

    Bak Tin Kiew still hesitated for a while, before saying, “Okay, I promise. I’ll work for you all the way to Hennan!”.

    At this moment Ah Kau ran by Bak Tin Kiew’s side and grabbed her hand, before saying with a smile, “Sister that’s excellent! Come with me! I will show you what needs to be done!”.

    “Naughty! Take her down to the cabin to change first!”, demanded Fisherman Ho.

    “Change?”, gasped Bak Tin Kiew in shock.

    “Of course! Do you really want to be scrubbing the deck, and cleaning the boat wearing your flowing green silk dress?”, asked Fisherman Ho with a beaming smile.

    Bak Tin Kiew gasped inwardly upon hearing that she would soon be scrubbing the deck and cleaning this boat. The old boat was very run down and full of dirt. It was going to require a lot of work to get it clean again.

    “Come with me!”, said Ah Kau grabbing her hands before leading her down to the cabin and handing her an old and torn brown dress.

    Bak Tin Kiew changed into the dress before walking Bak up onto the deck. She was slightly annoyed at having to change into such old and worn robes. She also had to endure the fishy smell. But she decided to grit her teeth and endure this little hardship.

    “Ha! Ha! I thought you look beautiful before! But you even look more so now!”, praised Fisherman Ho with a beaming grin.

    Bak Tin Kiew ignored Fisherman Ho’s comments and turned her head away. She was feeling slightly uncomfortable with the way that he had been staring at her.

    “Here take this!” said Ah Kau passing over an old wooden bucket and small mop.

    “Little dog! What are you doing? Go and steer the boat!”, shouted Fisherman Ho. Though he was shouting at the little boy named Ah Kau, one could tell that they have been long time friends.

    Turning to Bak Tin Kiew, Fisherman Ho said, “Little girl, you can start scrubbing the deck. After you’ve finished take this old cloth and wipe the boat clean”.

    “Don’t call me little girl! I’m 16 years of age already!”, protested Bak Tin Kiew as she started mopping the floor of the deck.

    At this moment Fisherman Ho was using the sack of rice as a pillow and was now laying down resting in the upper level above the cabin. He had a porcelain bowl in his hands and was drinking his wine. Ah Kau was at the helm steering the boat down the Yellow River.

    Looking down at Bak Tin Kiew with a smirk on his face said, “Wow! 16 years of age already? So what? Am I supposed to be somehow impressed?”.

    “How old you are makes no difference! Ageing is a just a natural part of life. It doesn’t mean a single thing, if one does not learn its lessons! Its your deeds and experiences that makes you worthy!”, continued Fisherman Ho as he kepted on drinking.

    “Worthy of what?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew scrubbing left and right.

    “Worthy to be a person!”, replied Fisherman Ho as he continued drinking.

    Taking a pause to pour another cup of wine, he continued, “I am already 20 years of age! Even though I have experienced a lot in my life, I do not consider myself to be old. I too have a lot to more to learn!”.

    “So all you’re saying is that you’re not a true person that’s all!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew with a slight smile.

    “That’s right! But even so you’re less of a person than me! Look at you! You’re 16 years of age, but yet you’ve never worked or experienced any hardships before! Also the way you’re scrubbing the deck is not correct either!”, remarked Fisherman Ho as he leapt down onto the deck of the ship.

    “This is the way it is done!”, said Fisherman Ho grabbing the mop and sweeping in back and forward. He then handed the mop back to Bak Tin Kiew before leaping back up to the upper level above the cabin.

    Bak Tin Kiew grabbed the mop and resumed cleaning the deck of the ship. Once she had finished, she grabbed the old brown cloth and started to wipe the boat down to clean it of dirt. She worked like this all the way up until around 7.00pm. After a while she started feeling hungry again. The once old and dirty ship was now at least clean of all the rot and filth. Bak Tin Kiew’s hands, legs and face were now covered in dirt. The old brown dress that she wore was now slightly wet and dirty as well. It carried a foul odour. Bak Tin Kiew wanted a bath to clean herself but realise that it wasn’t possible at the moment. Her muscles ached a little from all of the hard work.

    At this moment Fisherman Ho was sitting to the side of the boat and had casted a line into the water. A small fishing basket was resting next to him. A long wooden pipe was resting in his mouth. He was smoking herbal weed to relax.

    “Fisherman Ho! I have finished cleaning the boat! Is there anything to eat?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew in a polite voice.

    “You’re in the company of a fisherman! What do you think?”, Ah Kau could be heard shouting out from the helm of the ship as he pointed towards the basket resting besides Fisherman Ho. He had been there all day long to steer the ship.

    Walking over to the basket, Bak Tin Kiew, could see that Fisherman Ho had already caught 3 large trouts, 3 large salmon, and 3 large perch. Fisherman Ho caught Bak Tin Kiew looking in the basket and a beaming grin flashed across his face.

    Smiling slightly, Fisherman Ho, could be heard saying, “Ak Kau! Steer the ship over to the bank, and anchor it. After that you can help me with dinner. We will rest here tonight!”.

    Looking over at Bak Tin Kiew, Fisherman Ho continued, “Ah Kau! I’ve changed my mind! After you’ve anchored the ship, prepare a hot bath for our little guest! I can take care of dinner myself tonight!”.

    “That’s a first! You’ve never personally prepared a meal before for anyone other than auntie!”, shouted Ah Kau from the helm of the ship.

    “Be quiet! What do you know?”, replied Fisherman Ho waving a hand in the air.

    Bak Tin Kiew now felt a little more at ease. Smiling slightly she said, “Fisherman Ho! Thank you very much!”.

    “It’s really nothing!”, replied Fisherman Ho. He did not look at Bak Tin Kiew at all, but instead, kepted his gaze in the water.

    “When will we reach the port of Hennan?”, Bak Tin Kiew couldn’t help but ask.

    “If we set off from 6.00am in the morning, we should be there around 8.00pm in the evening!”, replied Fisherman Ho.

    “Excellent! That’s enough!”, shouted Fisherman Ho as he pulled up his fishing line. He had just caught another large salmon and threw it into the basket.

    Moments later Fisherman Ho disappeared into the cabin, before walking up with a large and a small wok. He placed both of them onto the deck of the boat before disappearing back down into the cabin. He returned with a small wooden cutting board, small pot, a pile of sticks, bowls, plates, and vegetables. He stacked the pile of small sticks into the large wok, and started a small fire. Cutting opening the sack of rice that he had used as a pillow he filled the small pot with rice. He then went over to the side to fill the pot with water, before placing it into the fire. He then laid out the fish that he had just caught out on the small wooden board before scaling and gutting them. He chopped all of the vegetables into little bits and pieces and threw them into the small wok, before frying the fish. A delicious aroma filled the air. Bak Tin Kiew watched Fisherman Ho, standing to the side. She was amazed at his skills, as she had never ever cooked before in her entire life.

    At this moment, Ah Kau had just anchored the ship to the side of the bank for the night. He dashed into the cabin and grabbed a large bucket and filled it with water before standing over the fire to boil it. He then raced down to the cabin and returned again to repeat what he had done earlier. He did this another 3 times.

    Walking up to Bak Tin Kiew, Ah Kau said with a smile whilst pointing to the cabin, “Little miss, your bath is ready!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew walked into the cabin before drawing the old curtains for some privacy. Upon entering the cabin, Bak Tin Kiew noticed that a small bath had been prepared for her. Rose petals leaves had been thrown into the water, providing a nice sweet flagrance in the air. There was a small sponge to the side of the bath. Bak Tin Kiew picked up her travelling bag and took out a flowing red silk dress and placed it over the side of the bath. She then took off the dirty old brown dress, before stepping into the bath. Grabbing the sponge she bathed herself and felt very relaxed. She removed the dirt from her arms, face, and legs. After a while, she stepped out of her bath, before going to a small mirror to comb her hair. She then put on a flowing red dress before returning back up onto to the deck of the ship to join Fisherman Ho and Ah Kau for dinner.

    “Wow! Really pretty! You look just like auntie!”, remarked Ah Kau upon seeing Bak Tin Kiew emerging from the cabin in a flowing red dress.

    One could see that Ak Kau and Fisherman Ho had already started eating. The large wok, small wok, small pot, and wooden board had already been washed and placed to the side. Before them were a large plate of rice, fried fish, and a bowl of vegetables.

    Fisherman Ho glanced at Bak Tin Kiew and smiled before saying, “It’s about time! We couldn’t wait any longer. Ah Kau was starving!”.

    “Eh! Fisherman Ho leave me out of this! You were the one that suggested that we started eating! I was the one that said it was polite to wait for our guest before starting!”, smirked Ah Kau as he poked a tongue out at Fisherman Ho.

    “You were also the one that said, woman are really troublesome! They’re always way taking too long!”, continued Ah Kau with a smile as he looked at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Bak Tin Kiew was initially very pleased to have seen that everything had been prepared for dinner, and had also forgiven Fisherman Ho for his earlier remarks. But she couldn’t help but feel annoyed again upon hearing what Ah Kau had said.

    She picked up a bowl and filled it with rice, before picking up a piece of fried fish, and scooping up some vegetables. She began eating with her head down and did not say a word. The dish of fish that had been served tasted really delicious. She wanted to praise Fisherman Ho for his cooking abilities, but she was still annoyed at him.

    “Eh! Ah Kau! I told you already not to be so cheeky this evening! Look not only are women bothersome, but they’re all short-tempered as well!”, said Fisherman Ho to break the silence upon seeing that Bak Tin Kiew had been upset.

    “Not all women! Auntie is not like that! She’s always kind and caring!”, protested Ah Kau looking a little annoyed.

    “Eh! Ah Kau! What do you know about women? You’re too young to understand! Auntie treats you well now because you’re young. Just wait until you grow up into a man! Then you’ll see a different side. Even auntie is short-tempered and a little mad in the head! Always cursing us men as the evil doers of this world!”, replied Fisherman Ho with a smirk. He knew his comments would upset Bak Tin Kiew, but decided to say it anyway.

    Changing the subject Ah Kau directly asked, “Little girl what is your name?”.

    Hearing that it was Ah Kau who had asked this question, Bak Tin Kiew replied, “My surname is Lok, and first names are Tin Kiew”.

    She would not have mentioned her name if Fisherman Ho had personally asked her, as she was still brooding over his earlier comments. But she still refused to use her real name, not wanting anyone to know that she was the Chancellor’s daughter.

    “Oh! So you’re called Lok! Just like Fisherman Ho’s mother!”, remarked Ah Kau whilst glancing at Fisherman Ho with a smile.

    Fisherman Ho glanced back at Bak Tin Kiew with a smile on his face as well, before resuming eating.

    “Tell me something! Why are you called Ah Kau, meaning Little Dog?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew.

    Looking over at Fisherman Ho, Ah Kau said, “My mother died when I was very young, and I have been living on the streets ever since. Fisherman Ho saved me from a bunch of gangsters! So I followed him like a little dog all over Kaifeng, until he agreed to accept me as an apprentice. Because I had no name he has been calling me this ever since!”.

    “You call him master? What’s so good about being accepted as an apprentice by a fisherman?”, thought Bak Tin Kiew out loud. Both Ah Kau and Fisherman Ho had heard what had been said. Ah Kau was looking back at Bak Tin Kiew a little annoyed, as if she had just deeply insulted and disrespected the both of them.

    “Life is really weird! Have you heard the saying that nothing should be taken at face value?”, interrupted Fisherman Ho with a snicker.

    Pausing for a moment he continued, “Sure in your eyes I am just a stinky little fisherman. But I am proud of it! Besides no one dares to bother me out here. Do you know why?”.

    “Why?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew. She was looking a little apologetic.

    “Because I have the respect of everyone from Kaifeng to Hennan. That is better than being popular, famous or even rich. That’s all I need to be happy in life. To be respected by others”, replied Fisherman Ho feeling rather proud.

    “I apologise for my earlier comments! I did not mean to offend you!”, remarked Bak Tin Kiew upon seeing that both Ah Kau and Fisherman Ho had been upset with her remarks.

    “May I have the pleasure of knowing your full name!”, continued Bak Tin Kiew upon hearing no reply from Fisherman Ho.

    “Master’s full name, is Ho Yin Siu!”, enthusiastically replied Ah Kau. Being a small child he wasn’t that temperamental and did not take Bak Tin Kiew’s words to heart. Fisherman Ho seemed to be brooding a little on the side however.

    “Rubbish! You may as well tell her my real name!”, shouted Fisherman Ho to the side, upon regaining his pride.

    “Master sorry”, replied Ah Kau whilst cupping his hands.

    Turning to Bak Tin Kiew, Ah Kau said, “My master’s real name is actually Yeung Yin Siu! But he goes by the name of Fisherman Ho or Ho Yin Siu to avoid trouble!”.

    “Yeung Yin Siu? What’s so special about this name”, Bak Tin Kiew thought inwardly.

    The name meant nothing to her at the moment so she asked, “Yeung Yin Siu? Should I know this name?”.

    “Have you heard about the Sabre Saint…”, replied Ah Kau.

    “Enough!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu whilst waving a hand. He did not want Bak Tin Kiew to know everything about his past at this moment in time. Especially when he himself had been uncertain about the identity of Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Sorry master!”, replied Ah Kau once more cupping his hands.

    “Ah Kau! Go prepare a bed for our guest and then set the fishing net so that we can lend a big catch tomorrow! Go! Quickly now!”, demanded Yeung Yin Siu, indicating to his young apprentice to leave him.

    Ah Kau went back down to the cabin and tipped out the bath water over the side of the boat, before disappearing back down a second time.

    Walking back towards them, Ah Kau said, “Miss Lok, your bed is ready”.

    Ah Kau then disappeared to the back of the boat to set some nets so that they could catch a large batch of fish in the morning.

    “Miss Lok! You should go and rest! You must be very tired after a hard day of work!”, said Yeung Yin Siu walking up to the helm of the ship as he resumed drinking wine.

    “What about you? Were are you going to sleep?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew. She indeed had been feeling very tired.

    “Miss Lok, unlike you, I have been used to sleeping under the moon and starlight! I’ve got my sack of rice as a pillow and wooden floorboard as a bed. This is all the comfort I need! You don’t have to worry about me!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a smile as he poured a cup of wine.

    Bak Tin Kiew walked back down the cabin and noticed that the bed had been prepared for her. Rose petals were spread out along bed to cover up the fishy smell. Though the bed was old, the sheets had been cleaned. As she closed her eyes, she thought inwardly, “Yeung Yin Siu! Who’s Yeung Yin Siu”.

    Bak Tin Kiew then fell into a deep sleep. She woke up rather late the next morning. Upon going up to the deck of the boat, Bak Tin Kiew, noticed that Ah Kau and Yeung Yin Siu were sitting together eating fish, rice and vegetables again.

    “Ms Lok, nice of you to join us! It’s already lunch time!”, smirked Yeung Yin Siu as he passed an empty bowl over Bak Tin Kiew.

    Taking the bowl in her hands, filling it with rice, vegetables, and fish Bak Tin Kiew began eating. She felt slightly embarrassed at having woken up so late. Looking around she noticed a big rectangle basket to the right side of the deck. It had been filled to the top with fish. It was obvious they had landed a good catch in the morning.

    “How far are we from Hennan?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew trying to change the subject.

    “I told you last night. We will arrive in Hennan at around 8.00pm”, replied Yeung Tin Lung.

    Suddenly loud cries could be heard from the other side of the river. They were shouting, “Fisherman Ho! Fisherman Ho! We want to speak with you!”.

    Looking across one could notice a small rowing boat approaching them. There were three men in the boat. All of them were wearing light blue robes. A white belt with a ying yang at the centre was wrapped around each of the swordsmen’s waist. Bak Tin Kiew recognised one of the three men and immediately rushed down to the cabin, before returning with a red veil to cover the lower portion of her face. At this moment the men had already arrived and now stood on the deck of the ship.

    “Who are you? What do you want?”, Yeung Yin Siu could be heard asking the three men.

    Cupping his hands a young swordsman stepped forward, before saying, “I am Hua Ling Do, 3rd senior apprentice of the Gentleman Sword, and Chancellor of Wulin, Bak Fung Wan!”.

    Pausing for a while he continued, “I am looking for the Chancellor’s daughter! She ran away from Taishan around 2 months ago. Have you seen a young girl around 16 years of age, with a pretty rounded face, pass through here?”.

    “How the hell should I know who the Chancellor’s daughter is? I have seen many 16 year old girls with a pretty rounded face pass through here!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a slight grin as he glanced across at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Hua Ling Do was speechless by this remark. Pausing a while and scratching his head, Hua Ling Do continued, “The Chancellor’s daughter shouldn’t be hard to recognise! She often likes to wear a flowing silk green dress, and carries a long sword with a pair of black butterflies carved into the hilt of the sword!”.

    “You’re kidding right! There are probably many young 16 year old apprentices from the Divine Butterfly Sect who wear a flowing green silk dress and carry a long sword with a pair black butterflies carved into the hilt of the sword”, replied Yeung Tin Long casting another glance at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Pointing with an index finger over to Bak Tin Kiew, Yeung Tin Lung, said with a smile, “Over there is my guest. She’s a 16 year old girl, and carries a long sword with a pair of black butterflies carved into the hilt of the sword! But whether she’s the Chancellor’s daughter or not! I don’t know”.

    Looking over at Bak Tin Kiew, who was now wearing a flowing red dress, Hua Ling Do asked, “Young miss may I have the pleasure of knowing you name?”.

    “My surname is Lok, and first names are Tin Kiew. I am an apprentice of the Divine Butterfly Sect!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew whilst cupping her hands. She did not want to change the name she had been using, otherwise everyone, including her master would uncover her real identity. So she took a risk. Besides she had dressed exactly like an apprentice from the Divine Butterfly Sect.

    “Lok Tin Kiew? You share the same first name as our Chancellor’s daughter!”, remarked Hua Ling Do. He examined Bak Tin Kiew carefully, but could not see her face clearly.

    “Can you tell me how you came to be in possession of this sword? These belong to the personal apprentices of the Chief of the Divine Butterfly Sect!”, asked Hua Ling Do in a curious tone.

    Bak Tin Kiew knew she couldn’t say that she was one of the ‘3 Jade Maidens’, Yuk Long, Yuk Ling, or Yuk Wah, because she was a little younger and Hua Ling Do would be able to see through her lies.

    “This sword was a gift from my late auntie”, replied Bak Tin Kiew lowering her head.

    Scratching his head Hua Ling Do asked, “You mean that you’re related to Lok Gum Fa?”.

    Bak Tin Kiew nodded her head to indicate that Hua Ling Do had guessed correctly. A large smile crept across Yeung Yin Siu’s as he stood to the side.

    Turning to face Yeung Yin Siu, Hau Ling Do said, “Fisherman Ho! Sorry to have bothered you! We will be leaving now!”.

    “But before we go, we’ll take 8 taels worth of fish!”, continued Hua Ling Do waving his hand to the other two swordsman. Yeung Yin Siu placed 6 large trout into a small basket and handed it over to the two Taishan swordsman.

    “Excellent! So you swordsman from Taishan have also heard about me! And know my rules!”, snickered Yeung Yin Siu. He didn’t have a particular liking to swordsman from the orthodox schools.

    “I have roamed wulin for 7 years! Who doesn’t know the saying, ‘to see Fisherman Ho, ask a question, and to leave alive, one must eat his fish!”, replied Hua Ling Do whilst handing over 8 taels.

    “So this Yeung Yin Siu is an elite fighter and well known throughout wulin! Who could have guessed that would be the case? One cannot be judge by their appearances alone! This is indeed true”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself.

    “Goodbye!” said Hua Ling Do as he boarded his small boat and headed off.

    Seeing that Hua Ling Do had left Bak Tin Kiew felt a little better. She removed the red veil from her face and breathed a sigh of relief.

    “You’re the Chancellor of Wulin’s daughter, Bak Tin Kiew, aren’t you?”, quizzed Yeung Yin Siu whilst looking Bak Tin Kiew directly in the eye. He was confident that he had guessed correctly.

    She gasped, “How did you know?”.

    “It’s very simple! The sword you carry belongs to the personal apprentices of the Chief of the Divine Butterfly Sect! You chose to say that you were related to Lok Gum Fa, one of the ‘Iron Maiden’s’ personal apprentices!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a smile.

    “So what?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew in shock.

    “To most people, this was a very believable lie. That’s why even your senior apprentice brother, Hua Ling Do, believed you. But I know something that is not well known by others in wulin”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “What’s that?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Lok Gum Fa, was actually an orphan like me! She had no relations. Therefore its not possible for you to be related to Lok Gum Fa!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a beaming grin.

    “How did you know that secret?”, quizzed Bak Tin Kiew. She was now looking at Yeung Yin Siu in a different light. She no longer dared to under estimate his abilities or disrespect him.

    “That you don’t have to know! One day you will probably know! But I have to ask you to promise something!”, said Yeung Yin Siu. He was looking very serious.

    “What’s that?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew.

    “I’ve already told you my real name! You’ll have to promise me that you’ll keep it a secret and never tell anyone else about it. Even your father! You may only refer to me as Ho Yin Siu or Fisherman Ho! Agreed?”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Okay! I promise. But you’ll have to promise me one thing as well!”, said Bak Tin Kiew looking very serious as well.

    “You want me to keep your identity a secret! Don’t you?”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a grin.

    “That’s right!” replied Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Okay! I will promise! But I want to know why you left Taishan!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a beaming smile.

    Bak Tin Kiew then proceeded to tell Yeung Yin Siu her life story. About how her mother had died, and she had made up her mind to avenge her mother’s death. She also told Yeung Yin Siu how she met the ‘White Maiden’ Fung Mun Kit and had been accepted as an apprentice. She also told him that she was going to meet up with her master in Hennan before going to Demon Valley to attend the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult. Yeung Yin Siu listened to Bak Tin Kiew’s story intently. He remained silent for a long time upon hearing the complete story.

    After a while he said, “Ms Bak! I have a few things to tell you. Are you willing to heed my advice or not?”.

    “What is it?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew. She was now very curious with what Yeung Yin Siu had to say to her.

    Pausing for a while Yeung Yin Siu finally said, “Firstly, I don’t know whether you believe me or not. But I can tell you that your mother’s death definitely has nothing to do with Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok! It’s true that Fung Lau Yin and your mother had a previous feud. But Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok have been living in peace now for the past 20 years. They have not interfered in the matters of wulin since that time! So they can’t have possibly killed your mother!”.

    “How do you know this?”, Bak Tin Kiew asked in shock.

    “You will have to trust me on this one! You can personally ask Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok if you like when you meet them at the Demon Valley!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Okay! That sounds reasonable. What else do you want to tell me?”, quizzed Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Though the ‘White Maiden’ has accepted you as an apprentice. You did not reveal your true identity to her! Did you know that she was an expelled apprentice of the Divine Butterfly Sect and is actually a member of the 7 Vixens? She is neither considered as good or evil! The orthodox clans do not approve of her and many call her a ‘big demon’. That’s why she left China and has spent the past 40 years in Nepal. Why she returned? No one knows for sure. But I am certain that the orthodox clans will not approve you being an apprentice of hers! I suggest that you keep the identity of your master as a secret!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a very serious expression on his face.

    Bak Tin Kiew gasped upon hearing that Fung Mun Kit was also a member of the 7 Vixens. She had noticed the long sword with the head of a wolf carved into the hilt of the sword herself. But had no idea what it meant. Though she was certain that her master had good intentions, she couldn’t help but be worried about what Yeung Yin Siu had said.

    “Don’t worry! I’ll keep this a little secret!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Finally, as the daughter of the Chancellor of Wulin, I strongly advise you against attending the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult! It can only bring you and your father endless trouble in wulin!”, continued Yeung Yin Siu.

    “That I can’t do! I promised master that I would meet up with her and attend the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult. I must keep my promise!”, protested Bak Tin Kiew.

    Grinning slightly, Yeung Yin Siu continued, “I knew you weren’t going to listen to me on this matter! However if you intend on going to the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult you should at least wear a mask, and cover the hilt of your sword with a cloth! That way no one will recognise you”.

    “I can do that!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew, as a smile swepted across her face.

    They had been talking for so long that it was dinnertime already. Yeung Yin Siu cooked dinner for the second night in a row. This time he cooked up a dish of boiled rather than fried fish. Bak Tin Kiew stood over Yeung Yin Siu during dinner and watched him intently. She was eager to pick up a few tips on how to prepare a good dish of fish. Yeung Yin Siu was more than willing to give her a few pointers, and got her to assist him in preparing the meal. They had both forgiven each other for the comments of the previous day. Not long after dinner they reached the port of Hennan and anchored the ship by the dock. It was a pitch black by now and the port of Hennan was full of large, medium, and small sized vessels docked to the side of the port. There were a few people standing by the jetty casting a line for a late evening catch. A few people were in the water with nets, trying to catch some crabs.

    Turning to Ah Kau, Yeung Yin Siu said, “You stay here and look after the boat till I return. Also take this big batch of fish to the market to sell tomorrow! Remember business as usual if I don’t return!”.

    “Don’t worry, master! I understand!”, replied Ah Kau as he tied the ship to the side of the dock.

    “Where are you going?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew, following Yeung Yin Siu closely behind.

    “Didn’t you say you were going to meet up with your master at the Golden Dragon Inn?”, asked Yeung Yin Siu as he continued walking forward.

    “I am going there to meet up with someone as well! So you may as well come along with me! That way you’ll be safe! There will be a number of highly skilled fighters gathered in Hennan this time of year. Here take these! You’ll need them! I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention!”, continued Yeung Yin Siu handing over a piece of black cloth and a face mask to Bak Tin Kiew.

    Bak Tin Kiew took the piece of black cloth and wrapped it around the hilt of the sword to cover up the pair of butterflies. She also took the mask and wore it on her face.

    Following Yeung Yin Siu into the darkness, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself, “I wonder who we’re going to meet?”.

    The annual general meeting of the Demon Cult was now less than three weeks away.

    End of Chapter 7.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  4. #24
    Senior Member Long's Avatar
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    Default Comments on Chapter 7

    I had intended to go to the Demon Valley, but thought it more appropriate to leave that till Chapter 8.

    New characters in the next chapter are, 'Mischevious Monk', the 'Romantic Swordsman - Chopstick Lee', and 'Thousand Cups Drunked - The Lucky Doctor'.

    Over the next few chapters I'll also be introducing all of the remaining major characters including:

    Tit Yum Ching - 20 year old daugther of the previous Chancellor of the Demon Cult

    Siu Wai - The youngest 7 Vixens and childhood friend of Yeung Yin Siu

    Yuk Long - The senior apprentice of To Guk Fa

    Wind, Cloud, Rain, Thunder, Lightning - The 5 Storms of guardians of the Demon Cult

    3 Fingered Demon Zither and 7 Fingered Demon Flute - The left and right handed commanders of the Demon Cult

    Miu Tit Sie - Leader of the Red Wolf Fang

    Red Eye - Senior apprentice of the Red Wolf Fang

    Du Fu - The Calligraphy Swordsman

    Fa Fei Sit - The Swordsman from the Himalaya who comes to China to challenge for the title of 'Grand Champion of Wulin'.

    Yik Lo Fu - Unrivalled Tiger Swordsman from the 'Divine Tiger Sect'.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  5. #25
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    Roasting boards and massaging pigeons aside it's been a very engrossing story. Keep up the good work.
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

  6. #26
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    Originally posted by CC
    Interesting story.

    Just a nit pick. I don't think the idea of '4 aces' or Si Da Tian Wang existed in the Ming Dynasty! Those are based on poker cards!

    Likewise for the thumbs up gesture.
    LoL...I was thinking, aren't flying ppl and ppl destroying buildings and ppl with internal energy fiction also?
    So if the whole wuxia genre is based on fiction, I think its irrelevant on whether or not poker was played in Ming dynasty.
    But thats just my opinion....
    Anyways, Long, keep up good work. You're like the fastest writer....there's just a few errors in the names.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Long's Avatar
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    Thanks. In my first draft, I always like to write from the heart, and whatever is on my mind, without giving too much thought about the story. Fast typing also leads to a lot of errors as I've found, and I use a spell checker that often changes words without me noticing for the first time like, 'roast boar' in 'roast boards' ect... When I finish the 1st draft I will make sure to do a comprehensive edit for the second draft.

    Someone wanted to know who I would have in mind for the cast of this later generation of characters for the Black Dragon Swordsman. Here's what I had in mind, mainly 90s actors:

    Yeung Yin Siu - Louis Koo Tin Lok (I liked the way he played Ding Pang in 'Against the Blade of Honour' which is similair to what this character is destined to become)

    Bak Tin Kiew - Vivian Chow Wai Man (I saw her in 'The Hunter's Prey' and liked her character and that innocent/spoilt kind of look in that series. Similar in a way to this character. She also has a great voice)

    Tit Yum Ching - Catherine Hung Yun (I always remembered her for her performance in 'All About Tin')

    Siu Wai - Ada Choi Siu Fan (I thought she did okay in 'Romance of the White Maiden')

    Yuk Long - Gigi Fu Ming Hin (Saw her play Kwok Fu in 'The Condor Heroes 1995' and liked it)

    Fung Mun Kit - Carmen Lee Yuk Tung (Liked her since 'The Condor Heroes 1995'. Though she'll play an older character here!)

    Fa Fei Sit - Miu Kiu Wai (The ultimate handsome white hero/villian)

    Feng Sap Chut - Andy Lau Tak Wah (Doesn't appear until 2nd volume though! A very mysterious character!)

    Yik Lo Fu - Kent Tong Chun Yip (The twisted villian!)

    Chopstick Lee - Tony Leung Chiu Wai (The handsome and unfaithful swordsman!)

    Du Fu - Jacky Liu Chung Yan (Liked him in 'State of Divinity 1996'. The calligraphy swordsman who goes by the name of the great poet Du Fu)

    Next chapter is called the 'Golden Dragon Inn' and should be up in days.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  8. #28
    Senior Member Long's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 8: Golden Dragon Inn

    Chapter 8: Golden Dragon Inn

    The fierce Wind blows,
    The heavy Cloud brews,
    The swift Rain falls,
    The power of Thunder echoes,
    The flash of Lightning strikes,
    A storm is brewing in the horizon.

    It’s still early in the evening in on the outskirts of Hennan. The dirt path is muddy from the early evening rain. The long lush green grass is wet. Many of the thin trees in the dense forest have been blown over by the fierce winds. They lay tangled in a circular pattern on the ground. Many broken branches and tree trunks litter on the ground after being struck by lightning. Indicating that a fierce storm has just recently passed through this region. Dark black clouds still hang high above in the evening sky. The sound of thunder echoes back and forth and the flashes of lightning can be seen in the mountains far away.

    The howling of a wolf and the sounds of splashing footsteps can be heard in the distance. One can see a very large black wolf racing closer and closer from the other end of dirt path towards the main road leading into the city of Hennan from Luoyang. Moments later a black blur rushes pass. Closely following the big wolf. One could vaguely see that the person running pass was a female, and has the youthful appearance of someone in her early 20s. She has a very pretty long face and soft red cheeks. Her eyes appear to be red. A flowing black dress is wrapped around her slim figure. In her left hand is a long broad sword resting in its black sheath. The head of a red wolf is carved into the hilt of the sword. An indication that she is a member of the 7 Vixens clan. Her clothes are soaking wet. Water is dripping off her face and arms. An indication that she has been running through the storm all night. Peering into the darkness behind her, the young lady in black does not appear to be at ease. She increases her speed upon turning into the main road and does not bother to look back a second time.

    As the young lady in black disappears into the darkness ahead, the sounds of heavy breathing and two pairs splashing footsteps could be heard frantically racing from behind trying to keep up the pace. In the distance one could vaguely make out that there are two men in pursuit of the young lady in black. Both men are dressed in plain white robes with a black cape that is flustering in the breeze. A red half crescent moon embroided on the top right-hand corner of the robes of both men, indicating that they belonged to the Demon Cult. Both men are wearing a bamboo rain hat that helps to shield their face from visible sight. A pair of blue eyes can be seen glowing in the darkness underneath each hat. A sign that these men possessed a very unique style of inner energy.

    On closer inspection one could see that one of the men was a very unusually skinny man of medium height. He had a very thin face and looked to be in his early 20s. His carried a very furious and ferocious expression on his face. A white paper fan rested in his left hand as he was running. This was none other than ‘Wind’ the 5th apprentice of the 5 Storms of the Demon Cult. He was running at a steady pace and was not that far behind the young lady in black. This indicated that he possessed excellent lightness kung fu.

    The second man was very large and well rounded. It appeared as if he was a large human meatball. His neck, arms, and legs were unusually very short. He had a very rounded face and appeared to be in his mid 20s. His face was red hot at the moment. An indication that he was brooding inside. A large pair of clubs was carried in his right and left hand. The second man was none other than ‘Cloud’ the 4th apprentice of the 5 Storms of the Demon Cult. He runs very low to the ground, and is some distance behind the young lady in black and a little distance behind Wind. This indicated that his lightness kung fu was a level below that of Wind and was far to inferior to the young lady in black. Both men disappear into the darkness not long after and the muddy streets to the main road of Hennan are quiet again.

    The young lady in black continues to race down the main road of Hennan at a rapid rate. She reaches the main gate of the city in around 20 minutes. Glancing left and right to quickly survey the city and its surrounding, the young lady in black notices that it’s dead quiet at the moment. It is still very early in the evening, yet the streets were deserted. It was almost like a ghost town. The doors and windows of the shopfronts are shut and barricaded tightly. This is very unusual indeed, as the city of Hennan is usually thriving this time of year. It appears that the entire population of Hennan was now indoors to shelter from the recent storm.

    “This must have something to do with the large gathering of Demon Cult and unorthodox clan members in preparation of the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult in two days time!”, the young lady in black thought to herself as she continued racing down the street.

    Upon seeing that the large black wolf ahead of her had taken a right turn, the young lady in black thought inwardly, “Black Snow will know where to find him!”. She was referring to the big black wolf.

    It indeed appeared that the big black wolf was guiding the young lady in black as she followed it closely behind. By now the footsteps of her two pursuers were getting fainter and fainter. An indication that she had almost lost them.

    Moments later the young lady in black arrived at the front of a tall arch gateway at the end of the street. On each side of the gateway were placed two large golden dragon statutes. Looking up at the big red sign above the gateway, the young lady in black noticed the gold writing and read it out aloud, “The Golden Dragon Inn!”.

    “He must still be here!”, the young lady in black thought to herself again. She could now hear the soft howling of a wolf from inside the gateway of the Golden Dragon Inn. She could vaguely see a pair of glowing red eyes starring back at her in the darkness. Moments later the big black wolf appeared to have inside the Golden Dragon Inn to where all the laughter and music was coming from.

    “Even though I’m late, I must take a risk to look for him!”, the young lady in black thought to herself again.

    Gathering enough courage, the young lady in black finally followed the big black wolf and entered the gateway. Moments later she reached the door of the Golden Dragon Inn, and noticed that many people had gathered at the bar and restaurant. Swiftly gliding into the restaurant like a shadow in the dark, to avoid unwanted attention, the young lady in black chose an out of the way spot towards the corner of the wall to observe the surroundings. Glancing left and right of the room, the young lady in black noticed that the restaurant and the bar were full of many strange and odd-looking people. This was to be expected given that the large number of people who had gathered at the Golden Dragon Inn were just passing through for the night on their way to the Demon Valley, on the outskirts of Hennan. The Golden Dragon Inn itself was owned by an elder of the Demon Cult and was probably the only place that still remained opened to host the great number of travellers in Hennan. All the other Inns, Taverns, and Restaurants have been closed.

    There were a group of 10 swordsmen dressed in yellow robes with red trimmings were sitting side by side across two tables towards the right hand corner of the wall. Each of these men wore a yellow headband on their forehead, and had the insignia of two red wolf fangs at the centre.

    “So members of the Red Wolf Fang have gathered here!”, the young lady in black thought to herself, as she examined the men sitting at the tables more closely. She was filled with a little panic upon seeing these men, as she belonged to a rival clan and supported the leadership challenge of Gwai Mo Ming of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins.

    The young lady in black could now see that one of the men sitting at the tables wore a large rectangle yellow hat with red trimmings. He appeared to be a short stocky man in his late 60s. He wore a black eye patch over the right eye. A pair of red wolf fangs was worn around his neck. A long sword, curved at the end like the fang of a wolf, was resting by his left hand on the table. This man was none other than Miu Tit Sie, the Chief of the Red Wolf Fang and a contender for the leadership of the Demon Cult.

    To the side of Miu Tit Sie sat a well-built middle aged man. His hair was a mess and hung down pass his shoulders. He had a very rough and rugged appearance. There were deep claw scars on both the right and left sides of his face. It appeared that these scars have been obtained as a result of wrestling with the various wolves near the Red Cliff Village, where the Red Wolf Fang clan was based. He wore a plain yellow robe that was torn at the shoulders to display his muscular arms. He carried a long broad sword curved at the end like the like a wolf fang in his left hand. The sheath of his sword was made of wolf skin. It was obvious that the Red Wolf Fang were wolf slayers. This man was none other than, Hung Ngan, the senior apprentice of the Miu Tit Sie. The other men who sat around the table were the 8 district commanders of the Red Wolf Fang. There used to be 9 district commanders, but Feng Tin Ching disappeared without a trace over 20 years ago, and Miu Tit Sie has not bothered to fill his vacant position.

    Another group of 10 swordsmen sat around two tables by the left-hand corner of the room. On closer observation one could see that these men wore torn and weathered black robes with red trimmings. A red cape dangled from the shoulders of each of the men.

    “These men must be from the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins!”, the young lady in black thought to herself, feeling a sigh of relief. She knew that these men were her allies and would assist her should any further trouble develop.

    At this moment the 10 Ghost Mountain Swordsmen were sitting down drinking and eating casually, chatting loudly, and telling jokes amongst themselves. They did not appear to be troubled or bothered by any of the other men who had gathered at the Golden Dragon Inn. The two men that had sat with their backs facing the young lady in black, had a Black Scorpion, and the other a Black Eagle embroided onto the back of their capes. A long black spear rested by the side of the swordsmen wearing the cape with a Black Scorpion on its back, and a black bow arrow rested by the side of the man wearing the cape with a Black Eagle on its back. The rest of the men were wearing normal red capes.

    “So these two men are the ‘Black Scorpion Assassin’ and the ‘Black Eagle Assassin’, the 4th and 6th apprentices of the former leader of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins. No wonder these people are not scared by the presence of Miu Tit Sie and Hung Ngan!”, the young lady thought inwardly as she shifted her glance to the table full of people sitting on the opposite corner of the wall from her.

    The young lady in black noticed that a large group of 20 people taking up four tables on the opposite corner of the room. They were all dressed in plain white robes with red trimmings. A red half-crescent moon was embroided on the top right hand corners of each of the robes, and a white bandanna was tied around the heads of most of the men.

    “So members of the Demon Cult have also gathered here!”, gasped the young lady in black inwardly. She felt a slight panic again, as the combined forces of herself and the swordsmen from the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins, were still outnumbered by those from the Demon Cult and the Red Wolf Fang. She also knew that it had been ‘Wind’ and ‘Cloud’ of the 5 Storms of the Demon Cult who had hotly pursued her. She broke out in cold sweat.

    Taking a closer look at the various people sitting around the tables, the young lady in black noticed a young lady in her early 20s was sitting at the middle table. She wore a flowing white dress with red trimmings. A red half-crescent moon was painted in the middle of her forehead. She had a rounded pretty face, but wore a white veil with red trimmings covered the lower portion. Her silky long black hair was tied into two neat bundles at the side, and dangled pass her shoulders. She had gentle and soothing green eyes, and appeared to be very relaxed. She carried no weapon in hand.

    “This must be the ‘Sacred Lady’ of the Demon Cult, Tit Yum Ching!”, the young lady thought to herself whilst shifting her gaze to the two men sitting on the right, and the other on the left of the Sacred Lady.

    The man sitting on the left of the Sacred Lady looked rather odd. He wore white robes with red trimmings like the rest of the men. A red sash was pined to his left-hand corner and flowed down onto the right side of this body. His hair was untied and flowed down by his shoulders. He appeared to be a man in his early 30s. A moustache and short beard covered his face. There were two streaks of white hair amongst the thick dense black hair. He wore a white headband with a red half-crescent moon at its centre. One could see that he only had three fingers on each hand. A black zither rested on the table in front of this man. He carried a very peaceful disposition. This man was none other than the ‘Left-Hand Commander’ of the Demon Cult. He carries the nickname of ‘3 Fingered Demon Zither’. No one really knows what his full name actually is.

    The man sitting on the right of the Sacred Lady looked and dressed exactly identical to the man sitting on the left. Except that his sash was pinned to the right-hand corner of his shoulders and flowed to the left side of his body. The only other noticeable difference was that this man had seven fingers on each hand. A short black flute rested on the table in front of the man on the right. This man was none other than the ‘Right-Hand Commander’ of the Demon Cult. He carries the nickname of ‘7 Fingered Demon Flute’. These two men are twins and are widely known as the ‘Divinity Swordsmen’.

    Looking directly ahead of her, the young lady in black noticed that a girl around the age of 15-16 years of age was sitting by herself at a table for two. She wore a flowing green dress and carried a long white sword in her left hand. A black piece of cloth had been wrapped around the hilt of the sword. A plain white mask was worn on her face, to cover the upper portion from visible sight. An old fishing rod was resting on the table before that young lady. But it did not appear as if she owned the fishing rod.

    “Who’s this girl? And why is that old fishing rod on the table?”, the young lady in black thought to herself.

    That same young girl in green carried an uneasy looking disposition. It appeared that she was slightly terrified out of her wits at the moment. Following the gaze of the young girl in green, the young lady in black finally noticed that a large black wolf had been sitting obediently on his hind legs to the side of the girl in green. The black wolf fixed its gaze, and was sniffing at the old fishing rod resting on the table.

    Smiling slightly the young lady in black immediately approached the table. Clearing her voice she politely asked, “Young miss, do you mind if I join you?”.

    “If you’re not frightened at the prospect of being eaten alive by this big black wolf, then you may sit down and join me!”, replied the young girl in green whilst keeping a nervous glance at the big black wolf to the side of her.

    Pulling the chair out from the table before sitting down, the young lady in black decided to say in a reassuring tone, “Don’t worry about that big black wolf! He’s my pet. He’s name is Black Snow!”.

    The young girl in green glanced at the young lady in black in awe. She had calmed down somewhat by now. Moments earlier, she had the biggest shock in her life upon seeing that a large man eating wolf had approached her. It was sniffing wildly for something and the young lady in green was certain that she would have been eaten alive. No one at the Golden Dragon Inn appeared to have noticed that this big black wolf had entered, and they did not appear to care about her safety either. She was sitting all alone at the table, so she was very glad that this ordeal was now over with.

    Taking her gaze away from the big black wolf for the first time, the young lady in green replied in shock, "What! You must be joking right! How on earth do you manage to tame such a vicious man eating beast?”.

    The big black wolf gave a loud sneer and a hiss upon hearing the words ‘vicious man eating beast’. Its two large fangs were now showing. The complexion on the young girl in green’s face suddenly turned pale in freight once more upon seeing this.

    “Black Snow, behave yourself! Otherwise no dinner for you tonight!”, shouted the young girl in black. The big black wolf quieten down and looked a little apologetic. It walked underneath the table before resting on his belly.

    Seeing the pale complexion on the face of the young girl in green, the young girl in black decided to say with a smile, “Wolves aren’t that hard to tame! All you need is to gain their trust from childhood. I’ve had this fellow now for 8 years! He’s still a teenager!”.

    Glancing at the old fishing rod on the table, the young girl in black continued, “Believe me, the wolves in the wild are a lot easier to tame then most of the men here in China!”.

    The young girl in green smiled upon hearing this comment and nodded her head in agreement. She had now regained her composure. Glancing back at the young girl in black, the young girl in green finally decided to ask, “Young miss, may I have the pleasure in knowing your name?”.

    The young lady in black gave a little laugh before replying, “I’m not as young as you might think! Though I am still young at heart! My surname is Siu, and first name is Wai!”.

    Siu Wai was the youngest of the 7 Vixens. Though she looked 20 years of age, she had actually walked this earth for 40 human years. But in terms of her race of people, Siu Wai had just reached adulthood, and was considered to be very young.

    “And what is your name?”, Siu Wai asked of the young girl in green.

    Smiling delightfully at having made a friend, the young lady in green said enthusiastically, “My surname is Lok, and first names are Tin Kiew!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew had spent the past two weeks sitting patiently at the Golden Dragon Inn during the evenings to wait for news of her master, Fung Mun Kit. But she did not hear anything about her master during that time. Bak Tin Kiew had decided to assist Ah Kau in the market during the day and made a steady income off selling fish. She was thus able to use this small income to buy food and drinks for herself. In the evenings she would wait at the Golden Dragon Inn until it closed before returning to the port of Hennan and sleep in the comfortable bed in the cabin of Yeung Yin Siu’s boat docked to the side of the Yellow River.

    “How did you come across this old fishing rod?”, Siu Wai could suddenly be heard asking in a curious voice, whilst fixing a gaze at it from the corner of her eye.

    “Oh! You mean that! It belongs to a good friend of mine. He told me to take care of it for him!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew as a smile flashed across her face.

    Taking a glance around the room, Siu Wai decided to ask, “Who’s your friend? And where is he at the moment?”.

    “He’s…”, replied Bak Tin Kiew, before stopping short. At this moment the waiter had just approached the table, and stood behind Siu Wai, holding a bowl of steamed black duck noodles in his hands. He placed a finger over his mouth to indicate that he wanted Bak Tin Kiew to stop talking.

    The big black wolf, crepted out from underneath the table and sat on his hind legs besides the young waiter in brown robes. It raised one of its paws and scratched the waiter by the side, trying to get his attention. But the young waiter ignored the big black wolf for the time being.

    Upon hearing no response, Siu Wai asked, “He’s, what? Well, go on!”.

    Bak Tin Kiew did not reply. A wide smile crept across her face as she watched the waiter and the big black wolf shaking a hand and a paw behind Siu Wai’s back. The waiter looked back and winked at Bak Tin Kiew with a cheeky grin on his face. It was obvious that the waiter and the big black wolf recognised each other and were friends.

    “I’ve known for a long time that females are never prompt and are always late for an appointment, but this is ridiculous!”, remarked the waiter with a big wide grin on his face.

    “What time did we say we’d meet up? You’re almost two weeks late!”, continued the waiter before walking to the side of the table.

    Turning around to the source of the voice, Siu Wai said with a smile, “Fisherman Ho! Why do you always have to be this cheeky? I have something important to tell you!”.

    The young waiter standing behind Siu Wai was indeed Yeung Yin Siu. He had arranged to meet up with Siu Wai at the Golden Dragon Inn over two weeks ago. They had planned to set off to the Demon Valley together. But the circumstances had changed somewhat during that time. The first night they arrived in Hennan, he and Bak Tin Kiew sat at the bar and waited for Siu Wai and Fung Mun Kit until it closed. When she did not show up he was greatly worried. So he decided to get a job as a waiter and has been working at the Golden Dragon Inn for the past two weeks to scout for news of her. He was now very glad to see that Siu Wai was safe. But he wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easily for making him worry all that time.

    “What! Since when are you allowed to do important things!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a cheeky smile whilst patting the big black wolf on the head.

    Moments later he placed the bowl of hot steamed black duck noodles on the table for Bak Tin Kiew. She immediately began eating the noodles.

    “Just shut up and listen, will you!”, protested Siu Wai looking a little annoyed.

    Regaining her composure, Siu Wai continued speaking in a calm voice, “Earlier tonight I was being followed by two men!”.

    “You were followed by two men? What’s so weird about that? You’re so pretty and are always flirting with men in the late hours of the night! So it’s no wonder they follow after you with passion in their eyes! That’s what you want isn’t it?”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu whilst still grinning.

    Slamming a fist on the table to indicate that she was not pleased, Siu Wai said, “Fisherman Ho! You’ve known me for all these years! Is that all you think I am? Some kind of flirt! Dam you!”.

    “Okay, I’m sorry!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu looking slightly apologetic.

    Hearing no response, he continued, “Well what is it important thing that you want to tell me about?”.

    But before Siu Wai had an opportunity to respond, a loud swooshing sound could be heard through the air, as small curved dagger had been launched in the air aimed for the big black wolf. Yeung Yin Siu immediately reached forward for the old fishing rod resting on the table to block the dagger.

    Before Yeung Yin Siu had even grabbed the old fishing rod, a loud ‘cling’ sound was heard as a chopstick flew through the air at amazing speed and diverted the flight of the curved dagger away from the wolf. Moments later another two ‘clang’ sounds could be heard as chopstick and curved dagger hit the hard wooden floor, to the side of Yeung Yin Siu.

    Picking up the curved dagger from the floor before turning to see who had launched the attack, Yeung Yin Siu smirked, “Which little 3 year old bastard threw this curved dagger at my friend, Black Snow? He deserves a good spanking!”.

    Standing up with his chest forward and arms folded, in threatening and challenging pose, Hung Ngan, snickered, “Me! So what? I’m going to have myself a pair of wolf fangs for a necklace and wolf skin for a door mat before I’m through!”.

    Flicking the small curved dagger with his middle finger, Yeung Yin Siu sent it back towards Hung Ngan at great speed.

    Seeing the curved dagger flying towards him at rapid rate, Hung Ngan reached into his pockets before counter attacking by launching 5 curved daggers back at Yeung Yin Siu. A ‘cling’ sound could be heard as one of the curved daggers striked the other curved sabre, before diverting it towards the wall. The other four curved daggers attacked towards Yeung Yin Siu’s neck, heart, right chest and stomach. Three loud ‘clang’ sounds echoed through the air, as Yeung Yin Siu used his fishing rod to block the curved daggers launched at his stomach, right chest and heart. But one dagger remained attacking towards Yeung Yin Siu’s neck. He was in a little bit of a bother at the moment as he could not retract his rod to block the last curved dagger.

    Just when it appeared that the final curved dagger would pierce Yeung Yin Siu’s neck, another ‘cling’ sound echoed through the air, as another chopstick flew pass to deflect the curved dagger away.

    By now all of the various people that had gathered at the restaurant and bar of the Golden Dragon Inn, had stopped drinking and laughing. They now turned their full attention to the battle that had just started between Yeung Yin Siu, Hung Ngan and a third mysterious man.

    “Thank you!”, Yeung Yin Siu could be heard saying as he cupped his hands together, before turning around to see who had just saved his life.

    Yeung Yin Siu saw three men sitting around a table behind him. One looked to be a monk from Shaolin in his late 20s. He wore a long yellow robe with a red sash pinned across his right shoulders. A plain wooden staff was resting by his side. Three incense marks were burnt on top of his bold head, indicating that he was a relatively minor monk at Shaolin. He was sitting in a meditating position.

    “This must be none other than the Mischievous Monk!”, Yeung Yin Siu thought inwardly. He could now guess that it was not this monk who had just saved his life.

    The other man sitting on the table was dressed in a light grey scholar’s robe and wore a hat on his head. There were 10 jugs of wine and many broken wine cups resting in front of him. It appeared as if he was passed out at the moment, as he was leaning forward with his face down on the table.

    “This mus be none other than the Thousand Cups Drunkard – The Lucky Doctor, Wah Yek Si!”, Yeung Yin Siu thought inwardly. He could now guess that it was not this man who have intervened to save his life just now.

    The third man sitting on the table was casually picking up a piece of beef with a pair of golden chopsticks. This was rare indeed. He was a man in his mid 20s. His hair was tied at the back with a purple scarf. A long purple robe and with white trimmings covered his medium built body. He had a very handsome face and had a small black moustache. Yeung Yin Siu knew he recognised this person before, but for the time being did not know where.

    “Young man, there’s no need to thank me! I was just peacefully eating my dinner here when the chopsticks just somehow managed to slip from my grasp and somehow managed to deflect those curved daggers! It’s nothing really! Just plain luck!”, replied the man in purple robes as he took a bite from the piece of beef. He did not appear at all concerned.

    “How dare you interfere in may business! You must be tired of living!”, growled Hung Ngan from the other side of the room.

    Smiling, the man in purple robes replied, “Tired of living? No I’m not tired of living! I’m just here having my dinner and my chopsticks accidentally slipped from my grasp! What’s that go to do with you?”.

    “Why you little bastard!”, shouted Hung Ngan as he reached into his pockets before launching 10 small curved daggers at the man in purple robes.

    The man in purple robes remained sitting calmly eating his dinner. It appeared as if he did not notice the 10 small curved daggers flying towards him at a rapid pace. Just when it appeared that the daggers would pierce his body, one could notice golden flashes swinging left, then right, up and then down. Ten loud ‘clang’ sounds echoed through the crowd as all ten of the curved daggers had been trapped between the pair of golden chopsticks.

    Dropping the ten small curved daggers onto his dinner plate the man in purple robes let out a loud laugh before saying, “Pity! It’s a real pity! I thought these were eatable! But it’s only a few stinky metal objects!”.

    “So you’re the one they call Romantic Swordsman in the South and Flying Chopsticks here in the North! You’re Lee Siu Yan aren’t you?”, shouted Hung Ngan shock upon seeing how easily his curved daggers have been dealt with.

    “Yep! That’s me! What about it?”, replied Lee Siu Yan with a beaming smile.

    Sitting back down, Hung Ngan shouted in an arrogant tone, “Since we have no previous feuds I’ll let you off the hook this time!”.

    “Why thank you!”, replied Lee Siu Yan in a mocking tone. He knew his skills were a little superior to that of Hung Ngan and yet Hung Ngan had now just claimed it was he who let him off the hook. But Lee Siu Yan wasn’t concerned by this and resumed eating his dinner.

    Pointing a finger at Yeung Yin Siu, Hung Ngan cursed, “Fisherman Ho! You’re lucky that you have help today! Next time we meet you won’t be so lucky!”.

    “We’ll see who the lucky one is when we next meet!”, smirked Yeung Yin Siu as he pulled over a chair and sat on the table to join the three men.

    “Ah! So you’re Fisherman Ho! Long time now see!”, said Lee Siu Yin whilst pouring a cup of wine.

    Seeing that the fight had ended as quickly as it had started, all of the people in the Golden Dragon Inn resumed talking and laughing amongst themselves. Others were discussing the battle that had just taken place.

    “Ah Ya! I should have known it was you!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu as he sat down.

    “Chopstick Lee! Put away those chopsticks of yours! You’re making me laugh!”, laughing hard, Siu Wai, remarked to the side. She was still sitting at the other table with Bak Tin Kiew. The big black wolf had darted back underneath the table during all the commotion.

    “Why do you think I called myself Siu Yan?”, smiled Lee Siu Yan not at all offended by Siu Yan’s comments.

    “So you heeded my advice, and got Blacksmith Chan to make you a pair of golden chopsticks!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu looking at the pair of golden chopsticks in Lee Siu Yan’s hands.

    “Fisherman Ho! That’s correct! If it wasn’t for you, I would still be a laughing stock in wulin!”, replied Lee Siu Yan looking down at the pair of golden chopsticks.

    Lee Siu Yan travelled on Yeung Yin Siu’s fishing vessel four years ago. At that time Lee Siu Yan was using a pair of bamboo chopsticks. Though he managed to create a set of unique sword arts using his chopsticks, his abilities were far too inferior to be roaming through wulin. He had demonstrated this unique set of sword arts to Yeung Yin Siu, who pointed out a number of flaws, and advised him that he needed a pair of chopsticks made of metal. Heeding Yeung Yin Siu’s advice, Lee Siu Yan, sought the help of Blacksmith Chan in Kaifeng, who subsequently forged a pair of golden chopsticks for him. Blacksmith Chan also made over 40 chopsticks made of metal for use as projectiles. Lee Siu Yan had now gained fame in wulin and is renowned as one of the top 50 fighters amongst the unorthodox clans.

    “Eh! Chopstick Lee! Nothing has changed. You’re still a laughing stock in wulin. The only thing that has changed is that people now respect your abilities! Also there’s no need to thank me! If it weren’t for you I would be dead now! Here, Let’s have a drink!”, said Yeung Yin Siu as he poured a cup of wine and downed it.

    After downing his cup of wine, Lee Siu Yan, decided to ask in a curious voice, “Fisherman Ho! When I met you four years ago, your abilities were already good! How is it that you’ve your abilities haven’t progressed! You should have been able to defend against the projectiles launched by that ruffian!”.

    “You don’t know that much! I reached the peak of my abilities in wielding a fishing rod four years ago! I’ve tried to further refine my skills, but haven’t been able to! Besides a fishing rod is no good for defending against projectiles! It’s better left for a pair of chopsticks capable of catching a fly in its grasp!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a sigh.

    “So you’re saying those 10 curved daggers were flying through the air like little flies and that’s how I managed to trap them between my chopsticks! Perhaps you need to heed your own advice, and forge yourself a golden fishing rod!”, remarked Lee Siu Yan whilst laughing loudly.

    “Oh! Then wulin would have 4 ‘Freaks from Kaifeng’ rather than 3! Chopstick Lee, Mischievous Monk, the Lucky Doctor, and myself the Golden Fishing Rod Ho!”, laughed Yeung Yin Siu as he downed a cup of wine.

    “You’re already a freak! But you just don’t want to admit it!”, laughed Mischievous Monk to the side upon finishing his meditation. He picked up a glass of wine and drunk it.

    “Since when are monks allowed to drink wine?”, quizzed Bak Tin Kiew sitting on the other table with Siu Wai.

    “Eh! Tin Kiew, you don’t know that much. This is Mischievous Monk. He doesn’t adhere to any of the rules of Shaolin. He’s renowned for telling lies, starting fights, and stirring trouble!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a beaming grin.

    “Eh! Fisherman Ho, I only create mischief for those people I dislike!”, said Mischievous Monk with a smirk.

    “Oh! Are you trying to tell us to behave, otherwise you’ll create some mischief is that it?”, remarked Siu Wai.

    Mischievous Monk did not respond. A grin flashed across his face, as he sat silently drinking his wine and minding his own business. The scholar was still laying down face first on the table. He could be heard snoring softly.

    “Fisherman Ho! I carry the nickname of ‘Romantic Swordsman’ in the South, yet tonight I am in the company of two men, and yet a stinky fisherman like you have the company of two lovely ladies! I truly envy you!”, praised Lee Siu Yan with his right thumb raised.

    “Oh! There’s nothing to praise! You’re successful in the South because all of the women down there find your flying chopstick skills cute and adorable. But women up North are different! You should know that!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a smile whilst pouring another cup of wine.

    “Oh! So all you’re saying is I need to dress like a stinky fisherman to be successful in this region!”, remarked Lee Siu Yan downing another cup of wine

    “We’ve been talking all this time why don’t you introduce me!”, continued Lee Siu Yan turning to have a glance at Siu Wai and Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Why? Do you fancy your chances?”, said Yeung Yin Siu with a cheeky grin whilst signalling over to Bak Tin Kiew and Siu Wai to come over and join them.

    Siu Wai and Bak Tin Kiew grabbed their chairs before joining Yeung Yin Siu at the table occupied by the ‘3 Freaks of Kaifeng’. Noticing that its master had moved tables, the big black wolf followed suit and sat down besides Siu Wai.

    “Chopstick Lee, this is my childhood friend. She’s called Siu Wai!”, said Yeung Yin Siu whilst pointing an index finger at Siu Wai.

    “Nice to meet you young miss!”, replied Lee Siu Yan whilst cupping his hands with a grin on his face.

    “Eh! Chopstick Lee, there’s no need to be a gentleman here! She’s very dangerous you know! You’ll have to be extra careful otherwise you’ll fall into her spell!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu with a big grin.

    Siu Wai could be heard slamming her fist against the table whilst casting a glare back at Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Oh! She doesn’t look so dangerous to me! Why do you say that?”, quizzed Lee Siu Yan casting a glance at Siu Wai. He was taken in awe by her beauty.

    “You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to. Don’t say that I didn’t try warn you though!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a cheeky grin.

    Hearing no response, Yeung Yin Siu continued, “Don’t you find it strange that she has a big black wolf for a pet?”.

    “What’s so strange about that? So people have may have wolves for a pet and others have a poisonous snake!”, replied Lee Siu Yan with a smile.

    “Why don’t you ask her which clan she’s from then!”, continued Yeung Yin Siu pouring a cup of wine for Bak Tin Kiew and Siu Wai.

    “I’m from the 7 Vixens clan!”, interrupted Siu Wai whilst casting an un-approving glare at Yeung Yin Siu.

    Mischievous Monk, Bak Tin Kiew and Lee Siu Wan all leapt up from their seats in shock upon hearing that Siu Wai was from the 7 Vixens clan. After a while they all sat down again and resumed drinking. Lee Siu Yan was now looking at Siu Wai in awe, and a little bit of fear gripped him. He had always been someone who easily seduced women and did as he pleased. There was a now someone before him, who had seduced many men, before sucking them dry of blood. One could say they were the exact opposites of each other. A ladies killer, and a killer of men sitting side by side at the same table.

    “Don’t worry! I’ve eaten already!”, continued Siu Wai in a very wicked voice was casting an evil glance at all of the men around the table. That sent a shiver down their backs. But Yeung Yin Siu just kepted grinning. He had become accustomed to her strange ways.

    “Fine then! I understand!”, remarked Lee Siu Yan shifting his glance from Siu Wai back to Yeung Yin Siu.

    “But who’s this?”, continued Lee Siu Yan whilst pointing a finger at Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Nice to meet you Chopstick Lee, my name is Lok Tin Kiew!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew with a smile on her face. She had spent the most of the past two weeks sitting alone by herself at the table at the Golden Dragon Inn to wait for her master. She was now very glad that she had made some very good friends in Siu Wai, Chopstick Lee, and Mischievous Monk.

    “No it’s a pleasure to meet you!”, replied Lee Siu Yan whilst cupping his hands.

    Looking up and down at Bak Tin Kiew, Lee Siu Yan could notice that she had a good figure and was probably a very pretty girl. He couldn’t help but ask, “Little girl, do you mind if I asked you a question?”.

    “No. What is it?”, replied Bak Tin Kiew. She had no idea what Lee Siu Yan had wanted to ask.

    “Why do you wear a mask to cover the upper portion of your face?”, continued Lee Siu Yan.

    “Eh! Chopstick Lee, don’t ask so many questions! You don’t know that much. She’s wearing a mask to cover up all of the ugly scars on her face!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu with a beaming grin.

    “Why you!”, cursed Bak Tin Kiew underneath her breath. But she calmed down upon remembering that Yeung Yin Siu, despite all his cheek, he had always meant well.

    “Eh! Fisherman Ho, now you’re not being a good friend! First you tell me one of your friends is dangerous. Now you tell me the other one is ugly! What are you up to?”, asked Lee Siu Yan looking a little annoyed.

    “Eh! Chopstick Lee, I’m only telling you these things for your own good! One will kill you and the other will ruin your reputation! You can choose not to heed my advice if you don’t want to! At the end of the day it’s up to you to decide what you want to do and has nothing to do with me!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a grin whilst casting a glance at Bak Tin Kiew and Siu Wai. He was very protective of them at the moment and did not wish them to make friends with Chopstick Lee, who is renowned for breaking the hearts of many young ladies.

    “Who’s that?”, interrupted Bak Tin Kiew whilst pointing with an index finger at the drunken man laying face down on the table besides her.

    “That’s the one they call Thousand Cups Drunkard in the South and the ‘The Lucky Doctor’ here in the North! He’s real name is Wah Yek Si!”, replied Lee Siu Yan letting out a little laugh. He was slightly surprise that someone would be interested in knowing about Doctor Wah.

    “Wah Yek Si? Is he the same Wah Yek Si that is the distant relation to the famous Doctor Wah To?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew. She had heard her father say that Wah To possessed excellent medical abilities, and that he could cure the incurable disease. So naturally she thought that Wah Yek Si would possess these same abilities.

    “That’s him!”, replied Lee Siu Yan whilst smiling.

    “Excellent! I’ve heard that he’s go exceptional medical skills and can cure the incurable!”, remarked Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Where did you hear that from?”, asked Siu Wai in shock.

    “Eh! It’s only her first time roaming through wulin so you can’t blame her for not knowing the truth!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu whilst glancing at Bak Tin Kiew. He noticed that she had now turned a touch red in the face at being a little embarrassed.

    “Exceptional medical skills! No you’re very much mistaken!” replied Lee Siu Yan unable to contain his laughter.

    “Why do you think he has the nicknames, Thousand Cups Drunkard and the Lucky Doctor?”, interrupted Mischievous Monk with an annoyed look on his face.

    Bak Tin Kiew did not respond. She only went on what her father had told her about Wah To, and didn’t realise that Wah Yek Si was totally different.

    Hearing no response, Mischievous Monk continued, “Though Wah Yek Si was enrolled in the royal medical school down South, he spent his entire university days at the local tavern drinking. He gained fame by drinking a thousand cups of wine in one day. That’s why he got the nickname of ‘Thousand Cups Drunkard’! He failed all of his exams as a result! He has about as much medical knowledge as you or I! He’s no doctor!”.

    “So how did he gain some much fame throughout wulin by curing many elite fighters from the incurable injuries, poisons, and diseases?”, rebutted Bak Tin Kiew.

    Mischievous Monk’s face became slightly red in fury upon hearing this. He continued whilst slamming a fist on the table, “You’ve got to be kidding. Cure the incurable! He doesn’t even know how to cure the common cold, let alone cure the incurable diseases. Luck! It’s all luck! This bumbling fool has really done enough damage already!”.

    “Eh! Mischievous Monk! You surely can’t still be holding a grudge against Brother Wah after all these years! He did save your life after all. Even though it was in a bumbling fashion!”, replied Lee Siu Yan with a grin.

    “Why what happened?”, Siu Wai couldn’t help but ask to the side.

    “What happened? Three years ago I was ambushed by the ‘Black Widow’, and was poisoned by her ‘black widow’ needle! That bumbling Doctor Wah Yek Si convinced me that he had some kind of magical pill that would cure me! So I agreed to take it and passed out from the pain! Though I’m alive today, he has shortened my life by 20 years! The pill he gave me was actually made of scorpion poison! He himself has only recently admitted that he did not even know which pill he had given me at the time. It was by luck that the spider poison pill was cancelled out by the scorpion poison pill! But the scorpion poison has caused a cancer in my body that will cause me an earlier death. Dam that fool!”, cursed Mischievous Monk underneath his breath.

    “Eh! Mischievous Monk, you can’t blame the Lucky Doctor in that case. Sure your life has shortened by 20 years, but without him you’d be dead by now! I’m sure all of the well-educated doctors in this world would have no way of curing you of the ‘black widow’ poison without any side effects! Nor will they be brave enough to try it either!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu.

    Changing the subject, Yeung Yin Siu decided to ask, “Chopstick Lee, what business brings the 3 Freaks of Kaifeng here to Hennan? Surely you’re not here for the annual general meeting of the Demon Cult?”.

    “Eh! Fisherman Ho, how can you say that? You know that my kung fu foundation is from Wudang! Even though they won’t admit it! Though I’m unorthodox, I’m not in league with the Demon Cult! I’m here for another purpose!”, replied Lee Siu Yan with a smirk.

    “What! Your kung fu foundation is actually from Wudang? I bet Cheung Sam Fung, the founder of the Wudang Sect would be turning in his grave, if he discovered that his superb sword arts have been converted through the use of a pair of golden chopsticks!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu, downing another glass of wine whilst laughing.

    Laughing hard to indicate that he was not upset by those comments, Lee Siu Yan continued, “What’s so strange about that? I only have four passions in life, women, drinking, eating, and sleeping! I have no need to carry a sword with me as I roam through wulin! I have a need for a pair of chopsticks though!”.

    “Oh! I see! I see!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu whilst laughing hard. Siu Wai and Bak Tin Kiew joined him laughing on the side.

    “Actually I’m here for a couple reasons! Firstly, I’m looking for the Chancellor of Wulin’s daughter! I heard from his 3rd senior apprentice, Hua Ling Do, in Kaifeng that she had gone missing. So I agreed to help him locate her. She’s travelling to Butterfly Valley, so should pass by here sooner or later!”, continued Lee Siu Yan putting on a very serious face all of a sudden.

    “What? A person like you would agree to assist someone like Hua Ling Do? This is very strange indeed for someone like you! I bet the real reason behind all this is that you’ve fallen in love with the Chancellor’s daughter and you want to marry her! Am I correct?”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a grin as he glanced across at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Bak Tin Kiew was slightly alarmed upon hearing Yeung Yin Siu’s comments. Even though Lee Siu Yan was a very handsome man, she did not like him, because he was a very unfaithful man. The thought that Lee Siu Yan would want to marry her was thus very alarming indeed.

    “Don’t be ridiculous! I’ve never seen her in my entire life! So how could I possibly have fallen in love with her! I’m only offering to help Hua Ling Do because Heroine Lin had once saved my father’s life! I never had the chance to personally repay her for that kindness! So the three of us are here to find her and make sure that she is safe from harm!”, Lee Siu Yan said with all sincerity.

    Bak Tin Kiew calmed down somewhat upon hearing those comments. She thought inwardly again, “So it has to do with mother’s Heroic deeds again, that these three people are so concerned about me!”.

    “Well that’s the most stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! You don’t even know what she looks like, and yet offered to help. She could be sitting right in front of you and you wouldn’t even know it! So what use are you?”, smirked Yeung Yin Siu whilst looking directly at Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Not so! Young Hua Ling Do told us that the Chancellor’s daughter, is 16 years of age, has a pretty rounded face, likes to wear a flowing green dress, and carries a long white sword with a pair of black butterflies carved into the hilt of the sword. She won’t be difficult to find!”, rebutted Lee Siu Yan.

    “In that case let me be the first to wish you the best of luck in finding the Chancellor’s daughter then! I doubt that she’ll be as easy to find as you’ve imagined it to be! But good luck never the less!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with an even bigger grin.

    “What’s the second reason?”, interrupted Bak Tin Kiew in a very curious tone.

    “Ah! The second reason we’re here is to help Hua Ling Do locate the ‘Frost Palm’ and ‘Frost Sword Art’ kung fu manuals! We heard they went missing in Chongqing 20 years ago! But we believe it’s still somewhere here in Hennan!”, replied Mischievous Monk to the side.

    “I heard a rumour that those two kung fu manuals were most probably stolen by the Gentleman Sword, Bak Fung Wan, or Lin Chun Fa! So why did you offer to help Hua Ling Do? Those manuals are probably at Taishan, so you’re searching in vain!”, remarked Siu Wai to the side with a snicker. She hated the orthodox clans and find it very funny when she heard the rumour that Bak Fung Wan had stolen the kung fu manuals.

    “What the heck do you know? The Gentleman Sword and Heroine Lin would never steal those stinky manuals!”, protested Lee Siu Yan whilst slamming a fist on the table.

    “That’s right! The Gentleman Sword and Heroine Lin would never do such a thing!”, shouted Bak Tin Kiew whilst glaring back at Siu Wai.

    Realising that a heated argument might start, Yeung Yin Siu, said, “Eh! Chopstick Lee, I’ve heard the two kung fu manuals have gone missing for 20 years! The person who has stolen it has probably left China or are currently hiding in a secret place to learn its arts. I believe you when you say that Heroine Lin and the Gentleman Sword did not steal those kung fu manuals!”.

    “Besides! I believe that the Gentleman Sword is an honourable man and would never do a thing as low as steal a kung fu manual. He’s reached an advance level of sword arts already!’, continued Yeung Yin Siu in a very sincere tone whilst casting a glance at Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Thanks for understanding!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew with a smile, upon hearing Yeung Yin Siu’s comments.

    “I’m not going to argue with you on this one Fisherman Ho! But those who carry the nickname of Gentleman Sword are always up to no good! They’re all hypocrites!”, remarked Siu Wai. She was not totally convinced by Yeung Yin Siu’s comments.

    “Why you!”, cursed Bak Tin Kiew underneath her breath upon hearing Siu Wai’s comments. Earlier Bak Tin Kiew thought she had made a good friend in Siu Wai, but now she hated her for insulting her father like that, based on rumours that she had heard.

    “Chopstick Lee, what makes you think the two kung fu manuals are still in Hennan?”, quizzed Yeung Yin Siu. He was slightly curious in what Lee Siu Yan had to say.

    “I’ve heard that the senior apprentice of the Lion Prestige Escort, Dik Ho Tin, disappeared 16 years ago after meeting with Heroine Lin on the outskirts of Hennan! And Heroine Lin met an unfortunate death shortly afterwards!”, replied Lee Siu Yan whilst stroking his moustache.

    “So what?”, remarked Bak Tin Kiew. She had now become very interested in this conversation. She thought that Lee Siu Yan would have some important information linked to the death of her mother.

    “Everyone knows that Dik Ho Tin was in Chongqing that night! That leads me to two conclusions. One, it was possible for Dik Ho Tin to have backtracked and stolen the two kung fu manuals from in front of the White Horse Inn. If he had stolen the manuals, there would be a reason for him to disappear after meeting with Heroine Lin. It could also be possible that he himself had arranged an ambush to kill Heroine Lin to keep secret what they had discussed!”, remarked Lee Siu Yan.

    Bak Tin Kiew was no listening intently to every word being said by Lee Siu Yan. She couldn’t help but ask, “What’s the other possible scenario?”.

    “It is also possible that Dik Ho Tin did not steal those two manuals. However people from within the Lion Prestige Escort, Songshan Sect, and Kunlun Sect might not believe him and thus monitored him closely. Since he met secretly with Heroine Lin 16 years ago, some of these people may have misread his intentions and thought that he had passed the two manuals over to Heroine Lin. That probably led to his disappearance and the subsequent death of Heroine Lin. That’s also why many people in wulin now suspect that the manuals have fallen into the hands of Bak Fung Wan!”, replied Lee Siu Yan.

    “Either way! You’ll first need to locate Dik Ho Tin! Then you’ll know the absolute truth behind his disappearance! That would also provide you with more clues as to how Heroine Lin met an untimely death!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu whilst casting a glance at Bak Tin Kiew.

    “That’s why we’re here!”, replied Mischievous Monk with a grin.

    “So father was right! Mother may have been murdered by members of the orthodox clans after all!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought inwardly. Dik Ho Tin was now her number one suspect. She had believed what Yeung Yin Siu had told her earlier that Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok had nothing to do with her mother’s death.

    Just at this moment, a very drenched Wind and Cloud entered the Golden Dragon Inn. They scanned the room and realised that many members of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins, Red Wolf Fang, Demon Cult, and unorthodox clan members had gathered. Upon seeing Siu Wai, they both approached the table.

    “Dam it! I nearly forgot! I have something important to tell you”, grabbing Yeung Yin Siu by the sleeve, remarked Siu Wai.

    “What is it?”, replied Yeung Yin Siu in shock.

    Whispering in Yeung Yin Siu’s ear, so that no one else could hear her, Siu Wai continued, “Fisherman Ho!, we’ve located your uncle Kiu Pin Fok, and auntie Fung Lau Yin in Luoyang! They’re on their way here at this moment under the protection of the Black Bear Assassin, Black Panther Assassin, Black Phoenix Assassin, and the White Maiden! But Kiu Pin Fok has suffered a serious injury, and we were ambushed by Wind, Cloud, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning! I managed to escape during the battle and came here to find you. We must think of a plan to help them! Otherwise we’ve be doomed come the annual general meeting!”.

    Leaning forward to whisper back into Siu Wai’s ear, Yeung Yin Siu replied, “I can’t assist you at the moment! But I’ll create a distraction so you can tell the Black Scorpion Assassin, and the Black Eagle Assassin what happened, and get them to help you! The 10 of them along with yourself, are more than capable of helping the others!”.

    Siu Wai nodded her head to indicate that she agreed. By now Wind and Cloud had reached the table. Placing a hand on each side of Siu Wai’s shoulders, they said, “Young miss, come with us! We’ll talk outside! We don’t want to create a scene!”.

    Seeing that Wind and Cloud had arrived, Lee Siu Yan could guess that they were up to no good.

    “Let the young miss go!”, shouted Lee Siu Yan, whilst picking up two chopsticks from the table he threw one at Wind and the other at Cloud.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Who’s this little misquote?”, shouted Wind with his right palm out to block the chopstick launched at him. He was suspending both of the chopsticks in mid-air. It neither moved forward or backwards.

    “Interfering in our business! He must be tired of living!”, shouted Cloud as he shattered both of the chopsticks with his Cloud Palms.

    The laughter and joking at the Golden Dragon Inn ceased for a second time, as everyone fixed their gazes on the battle that was unfolding before them. Hung Ngan, was sitting on the side watching the skills of Wind and Cloud in awe. Lee Siu Yan’s Flying Chopsticks had defeated him earlier in the evening. But Lee Siu Yan had just suffered a cursing defeat at the hands of Wind and Cloud.

    “Take this!”, shouted both Cloud and Wind rushing forward to attack Lee Siu Yan.

    Lee Siu Yan darted back from the table to avoid the attack. Mischievous Monk darted forward with a palm aimed at Wind. Yeung Yin Siu launched his fishing rod at Cloud’s left hand. Doctor Wah was still passed out on the table and did not move. Bak Tin Kiew leaped to the side to stand out of the way of the attacks. Siu Wai remained seated. Wind and Cloud had sealed her pressure points on the right and left shoulder.

    Wind met Mischievous Monk’s palm with two fingers pointed forward. A loud ‘whack’ sound echoed through the air as Mischievous Monk was forced back several paces before coughing up a mouthful of blood. Lee Siu Yan rushed to his side to brace his fall.

    “Brother Lee! These two are really powerful!”, remarked Mischievous Monk.

    Moments later another loud ‘whack’ sound echoed through the crowd. Cloud could be seen leaping backward holding his left hand. He had been struck by the fishing rod.

    “Little kids need to behave!”, jested Yeung Yin Siu as he held his old fishing rod out stretched behind his back. He had a big grin on his face.

    There was dead silence in the room as many of the people stared at Yeung Yin Siu in awe. Earlier the various people had seen he had been no match for Hung Ngan, and yet had now managed to injure Cloud. They were dumb founded. Even Lee Siu Yan and Mischievous Monk stood to the side with shocked expressions on their face. How would the various people know that Yeung Yin Siu’s fishing rod skills were no good for dealing with projectiles, but were deadly against palms, swords, and sabres.

    “Ah! Ya! Move out of the way! I need to spew up!”, shouted Wah Yek Si to break the silence as he suddenly jumped up from the table and attempted to rush towards the rest room.

    He tripped over Wind’s foot, and grabbed Siu Wai on the right and left shoulders to brace his fall. Doctor Wah then slumped to the floor before coughing up two mouthfuls of spew on Wind’s foot, before falling asleep again.

    “Dam you!”, cursed Wind giving Wah Yek Si a boot to the side. Wah Yek Si did not move as a result of being booted. He had been drinking all day and wouldn’t be able to feel the pain.

    A black blur suddenly leaped up from the table and raced over to the table occupied by the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins. Doctor Wah had accidentally released Siu Wai’s pressure points when he held onto her shoulders to brace his fall. Moments later a black blur, followed by 10 black shadows could be seen dashing out of the Golden Dragon Inn, as the Black Scorpion Assassin, and the Black Eagle Assassin, picked up their weapons and followed Siu Wai. The rest of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassin warriors followed closely behind them.

    “Dam that bumbling Doctor Wah! I’m going to make you 3 Freaks of Kaifeng pay for this!”, cursed Wind upon seeing that Siu Wai had escaped from the Golden Dragon Inn with the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins.

    “Wait!” shouted Cloud raising his hands in the air to indicate to Wind not to attack the ‘3 Freaks of Kaifeng’ just yet.

    “Who the heck are you? Why do you insist on interfering in our affairs! Speak up!”, demanded Cloud whilst pointing an index finger at Yeung Yin Siu.

    “That one! He’s none other than Fisherman Ho!”, replied Lee Siu Yan to the side with a beaming grin.

    “Ha! Ha! So it’s none other that stinking Fisherman Nam’s apprentice, Fisherman Ho! Prepare to die!”, smirked Cloud whilst stepping forward to attack.

    It was well known in wulin that Fisherman Nam was an unorthodox clan member who held the lowest position in the Demon Cult during Tit Hit Wong’s reign. His kung fu was just modest. So Cloud regained his confidence. Though Yeung Yin Siu had just injured him, he had put that down to luck.

    Cloud grabbed his two heavy clubs strapped to his back and launched it forward to strike down on Yeung Yin Siu’s head. Upon seeing the attack Yeung Yin Siu rolled forward and swiftly struck Cloud on the side of the right knee. Cloud fell forward and knelt down on the ground.

    “That’s more like it! Uncle accepts apology from little kid!”, mocked Yeung Yin Siu upon seeing that Cloud had fallen down on his knees as a result of being struck.

    Cloud was now furious at being struck on the knee and made to look like a fool in front of everyone who had gathered at the Golden Dragon Inn. He had become over confidant when he heard that the man who stood before him was none other than Fisherman Ho. Fisherman Nam’s skills were mediocre so, he assumed the same of Fisherman Ho. How was he to know that Yeung Yin Siu had converted the sword arts of Fung Lau Yin to be wielded through the fishing rod.

    “Why little bastard I’m going to kill you!”, shouted Cloud as he rushed forward to attack again.

    He swung one of his heavy clubs to strike Yeung Yin Siu’s chest. He leapted out of the way and the table they had been sitting on broke into many pieces. Yeung Yin Siu launched an attack towards Cloud’s right shoulder. Cloud blocked this strike with his left club. Yeung Yin Siu was forced back several paces when his fishing rod clashed against the heavy club. This indicates that Cloud was indeed powerful.

    “Excellent!”, praised Yeung Yin Siu as he kicked his right leg against the wall and launched a horizontal twisting attack towards Cloud’s mid-chest region.

    “Let me help you!”, shouted Wind from the side as he opened his fan and launched a strike towards Yeung Yin Siu’s stomach. He realised that Cloud was now in a little bit of danger, as he had become flustered and was not thinking clearly.

    Seeing that someone had launched an unexpected attack at Yeung Yin Siu, Chopstick Lee flung forward and defended Wind’s strike with his pair of golden chopsticks. It looked rather amusing as it appeared as if Lee Siu Yan had treated Wind’s paper fan like a big dish of beef, and he was trying to trap it between his chopsticks to eat it.

    “Bastard! You’ll pay for this!”, shouted Wind as he launched forward pointing two fingers with his left hand to strike the chest of Chopstick Lee.

    Chopstick Lee did not expect that Wind would suddenly attack with is left hand. He was caught off guard as a result.

    “Ah! Ya!”, cried Chopstick Lee as he coughed up a mouthful of blood upon being struck on the chest. He leapted back several paces to remove himself from the battle.

    At this moment a loud ‘whack’ sound echoed through the crowd as both Yeung Yin Siu and Cloud leapted several paces back after the fishing rod contacted the pair of heavy clubs. Cloud moved a couple of paces backwards, but Yeung Yin Siu leapt all the way to the other side of the room. Indicating that he possessed a lower level inner energy.

    Just when Cloud and Wind was about to launch another strike at Yeung Yin Siu. Two swishing sounds could be heard through the air, as a couple of tiny shiny objects flew through the air. One towards Cloud and the other towards Wind. Both Cloud and Wind leaped several paces back to avoid the attack.

    “13 Phantom Venom poison needles!”, cried Lee Siu Yan in shock as the two needles whisked pass him, after missing Cloud and Wind.

    “So it’s that dam horny vixen, Fung Lau Yin”, remarked Mischievous Monk.

    Moments later a red, white, black, purple, and blue blur raced into the room, followed closely behind by 20 shadows. Two of the black shadows were carrying a stretcher. An injured man was resting on the stretcher. One could see that the man looked to be a man in his late 60s. His hair had gone all white. A long beard and moustache covered his face. A torn and weathered black robe was wrapped around his giant frame. A black paper fan was resting by his left waist. This was none other than the Black Bat Assassin, Kiu Pin Fok.

    The red blur that had rushed into the Golden Dragon Inn was indeed, Fung Lau Yin. She still had a pretty long thin face, and looked to be a woman in her early 30s, even though she had now lived for over 60 human years of age. There were now two long streaks of white hair amongst black silky hair. She carried a pair of twin blades in her left hand with the head of a wolf carved into the hilt of the sword. Standing with her was the White Maiden, Fung Mun Kit. Siu Wai was obviously the one in black. Standing slightly behind her in a purple dress was, Fung Lau Sit, the current Chief of the 7 Vixens, along with Siu Wah in a blue dress.

    Amongst the 20 warriors from the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins, stood a tall thin man dressed in plain black robes. He did not wear a cape, nor did he carry a weapon in hand. He wore a plain black mask covering his face. No one knew what he looked like, or how old he was. This man was none other than, Gwai Mo Ming, the ‘Nameless Black Ghost Assassin’. Standing to the side of Gwai Mo Ming were in order of seniority, Black Scorpion, Black Eagle, Black Widow, Black Bull, Black Bear, Black Phoenix, and Black Panther Assassin. These were the only ones still alive today. The Black Snake, Black Shark, and the Black Ox assassins died many years ago. The Black Dragon Assassin expelled himself from the clan and was assumed to be dead many years ago also.

    Not long after, another 40 men rushed into the Golden Dragon Inn. All these men were wearing white robes with red trimmings, and had a red half-crescent moon embroided onto the top right hand Conner of their robes. They were obviously members of the Demon Cult.

    Three of the men wore plain white robes, with a black cape, and a bamboo rain hat rested on their heads. They were none other than Rain, Thunder, and Lightning. One could see that Thunder was a very tall and well-built man. He was very muscular around the chest, arms and legs. He looked to be a man in his late 20s. A long beard and short moustache covered his face. He carried a large hammer in his right hand, and a large iron nail in his left hand. Lightning was a man of medium height and medium built. He looked to be around 30 years of age. He carried a long zigzagged sword in his left hand. Upon seeing that Rain, Thunder, and Lightning had arrived, Wind and Cloud immediately went over to join them.

    “Master!”, cried Bak Tin Kiew as she rushed to stand by Fung Mun Kit’s side.

    “Tin Kiew! Is that you? Why are you wearing a mask!”, Fung Mun Kit decided to ask. She could recognise from the flowing green dress that it was indeed her apprentice who had rushed up to greet her.

    “I’ll explain that later!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew with a smile.

    Grabbing her master’s hand, she continued whilst pointing an index finger at Wind and Cloud, “Master, just now my good friend Fisherman Ho was being ganged up by those two men over there! It was two against one. You must help him!”.

    “Don’t worry about that! We’ve got a score to settle with them! They ambushed us on our way here!”, replied Fung Mun Kit whilst starring down at Lightning.

    Earlier in the night the group of 23 fighters consisting of just Fung Mun Kit, Fung Lau Yin, Siu Wai, Black Bear Assassin, Black Panther Assassin, and the Black Phoenix Assassin were attacked by over 60 Demon Cult members led by the ‘5 Storms’ on their way to Hennan. Kiu Pin Fok had already been injured and thus could not fight.

    The ‘5 Storms’ had intended to kill all of them to eliminate the leadership contest of Gwai Mo Ming. Siu Wai fled the battle to find help upon seeing that they were outnumbered. Cloud and Wind gave chase with the intention of killing Siu Wai, before she had an opportunity to locate help. Fung Mun Kit, and Fung Lau Yin managed to hold off Rain, Thunder, and Lightning until help arrived. It was through pure luck that Gwai Mo Ming, Fung Lau Sit and the others had arrived in time to help them. Gwai Mo Ming arrived late because he had been in Chongqing to locate the Black Dragon Swordsman. Having not managed to locate him, he took his men along a dirt road path towards Hennan before stumbling across the battle. They were further strengthened when Siu Wai returned with the Black Scorpion Assassin and the Black Eagle Assassin. But many people had died during on both sides during the skirmish. They fought their way through and arrived first at the Golden Dragon Inn.

    “Well Lightning! You wanted to eliminate us earlier tonight! What are you waiting for? Attack at once if you want!”, challenged Fung Lau Yin as he stepped forward and drew her twin blades.

    “Don’t think that I won’t attack just because we’re in a public place!”, snickered Lightning as he gave a signal to attack to his men.

    “Stop this madness!”, shouted Tit Yum Ching from the other corner of the room upon seeing that the two sides would engage in a heated life and death battle.

    Miu Tit Sie, Hung Ngan and the district leaders of the Red Wolf Fang were sitting to the side with big grins on their face. They figured that they would be in a good position to win the leadership of the Demon Cult if the two sides engaged in a heated battle now, just days before the election. They were happy upon seeing that Kiu Pin Fok had been seriously injured.

    “That’s right! Even if you don’t respect the Sacred Lady! You should at least give respect to her late father Tit Hit Wong!”, shouted 3 Fingered Demon Zither.

    “Be at peace! We’re all on the same side!”, shouted 7 Fingered Demon Flute.

    “Humph! We’re all on the same side? If you truly believed that you wouldn’t dispatch your men to attack us?”, rebutted Fung Lau Yin whilst folding her arms.

    “The Sacred Lady never gave an order for anyone to attack your group of people. You must be mistaken!”, rebutted 3 Fingered Demon Zither.

    “You expect us to believe that? You must be joking!”, responded Fung Mun Kit.

    “I don’t understand! What’s going on?”, interrupted Tit Yum Ching. She clearly had no idea that the 5 Storms had attacked Gwai Mo Ming’s supporters.

    “What’s going on? Why don’t you ask the 5 Guardians of the Demon Cult! Your own supporters for the leadership!”, snickered Fung Lau Yin.

    “Lightning! Can you please explain to me what you’re doing here with all these men? Didn’t I give you an order to stay at the Demon Valley to make all the necessary preparations for the annual general meeting?”, quizzed Tit Yum Ching whilst casting a glance at the 5 Storms.

    “Sacred Lady, you need not worry! I have made all the necessary preparations for the annual general meeting!”, replied Lightning whilst cupping his hands to acknowledge the presence of the Sacred Lady.

    Pointing a finger at Fung Mun Kit, he continued, “I’m here on a personal matter! It’s between myself and Fung Mun Kit only! It has nothing to do with the Demon Cult!”.

    “What personal matter? Please tell me!”, replied the Tit Yum Ching. She knew that if it was a personal matter she could not interfere.

    “Are you aware that Fung Mun Kit has killed the 3 Snakes and the Rule Elder? The reason I attacked them was to avenge their deaths! They were my good friends!”, replied Lightning with a slight grin.

    Although this seemed like a reasonable answer. Most of the elders in the Demon Cult, including Tit Yum Ching, knew full well that Lightning, the 3 Snakes, and the Rule Elder were not the best of friends. Tit Yum Ching thus saw through this lie.

    Pausing for a while she responded, “Lightning! I had no idea that the 3 Snakes and the Rule Elder have been murdered! This is an unfortunate event that the newly elected Chancellor will have to deal with!”.

    “However, can I ask you to set aside your personal feud with Fung Mun Kit until after the elections?”, continued Tit Yum Ching casting a direct glance at Lightning.

    Lightning looked very hesitant. The main reason why he attacked Fung Mun Kit and the others was to guarantee a victory for the Demon Cult. What Tit Yum Ching had just suggested, thus made absolutely no sense to him.

    Glancing around the room, Lightning finally realised that he was out numbered and thus would not succeed. He replied, “Okay! If the Sacred Lady insists, I will no longer pursue this matter!”.

    “But I must return to the Demon Valley to take care of a few matters! Goodbye!”, continued Lightning cupping his hands together. He then signalled to the rest of the 5 Storms and led his men from the Golden Dragon Inn.

    Upon seeing that Lightning had left, Tit Yum Ching continued, “Fung Lau Yin are you satisfied now that I did not send the 5 Storms to attack you and your group?”.

    Fung Lau Yin withdrew her twin blades before saying, “I have always respected your father and believe you would not do such a thing! If you really wanted to eliminate us you could have attacked just now. So I believe you”.

    Believing that she was partly at fault for being unable to control the actions of the 5 Storms, Tit Yum Ching decided to say, “Sister Fung, if you don’t mind, I’ll set aside the left wing of the Golden Dragon Inn for your group of friends. Consider it as my sincere apology for the actions of the 5 Storms”.

    Tit Yum Ching then signalled to a couple of men to make the necessary arrangements with the hotel manager to book out the left wing for Fung Lau Yin and her friends.

    “Sacred Lady, you’re too kind! Thank you!”, replied Fung Lau Yin as she led the group of elite fighters from the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins and the 7 Vixens up stairs to the left wing. Siu Wai and Bak Tin Kiew followed her.

    “That’s the least I can do!”, replied Tit Yum Ching.

    Seeing that everything had settled down, Lee Siu Yan and Mischievous Monk went to pick up the drunken Doctor Wah Yek Si from underneath the table. Walking back toward Yeung Yin Siu, they could be heard saying, “Nice to catch up with you again Fisherman Ho! But we must go up to our rooms now to heal from our injuries. We’ll be leaving in the morning to look for the Chancellor’s daughter at first light! So take care until we next meet!”.

    “Goodbye Chopstick Lee! Goodbye Mischievous Monk! We’ll have to catch up for a proper drink when we’re all in Kaifeng!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu whilst cupping his hands. He didn’t mind Chopstick Lee, Doctor Wah, and the Mischievous Monk.

    “Definitely! Who knows! Maybe next time Doctor Wah won’t be passed out!”, remarked Lee Siu Yan with a laugh as he walked towards the north wing.

    Yeung Yin Siu was just about to head off towards the left wing to speak with Fung Lau Yin and find out how Kiu Pin Fok got injured when 3 Fingered Demon Zither and 7 Fingered Demon Cult approached him.

    “Fisherman Ho! The Sacred Lady would like to have a few words with you!”, said 3 Fingered Demon Zither whilst cupping his hands.

    “This way please!”, continued 7 Fingered Demon Flute with his hand out stretched.

    “Of course! What’s this all about?”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu. He had no idea why the Sacred Lady had wanted to see him, so he was a little startled.

    “Fisherman Ho! Don’t be alarmed! All the Scared Lady wants to do is meet you!”, replied the 3 Fingered Demon Zither as he lead Yeung Yin Siu down a small hall way.

    “Please enter here!”, said 7 Fingered Demon Flute as he opened the door to a tiny room.

    “Eh! Surely the Sacred Lady won’t be resting in here!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu upon seeing the tiny room.

    “No. Of course not! A bath has been prepared for you inside! Please enter!”, said 3 Fingered Demon Flute with an arm out stretched.

    “This is ridiculous!”, protested Yeung Yin Siu not wanting to step into the bath.

    “We insist!”, replied the 7 Fingered Demon Flute as he nudged Yeung Yin Siu into the tiny little room.

    “Okay! Okay! Enough! I get it! The Sacred Lady doesn’t want to see a stinky fisherman!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu as he stepped into the hot bath and sponged himself. But because they had forced him to bath, he decided to take a little longer than he would have otherwise have done.

    “Here! Take this! It’s a gift from the Sacred Lady!”, said 3 Fingered Demon Zither passing over a black robe with red trimmings.

    20 minutes had passed by, and both 3 Fingered Demon Zither and 7 Fingered Flute was now becoming impatient.

    “Oi! Fisherman Ho, are you done yet? We haven’t got all night!”, shouted 3 Fingered Demon Zither whilst knocking gently on the door.

    “Ha! Ha! This is strange! I didn’t want to bathe and now you’re complaining because I’m taking too much time? Come on! Give me a break!”, smirked Yeung Yin Siu as he continued bathing. He had developed this kind of cheeky attitude from his uncle Kiu Pin Fok.

    Another 10 minutes had passed by and yet nothing had happened.

    “Why you little brat! If it wasn’t for the Sacred Lady orders, we would have chopped you into little bits and pieces!”, cursed 7 Fingered Demon Flute as he forced the door open.

    “Get out and change. Now!”, demanded 3 Fingered Demon Zither.

    Though Yeung Yin Siu was a little roguish in nature, he knew when he had pushed people to their limit. He did not want to engaged in a battle with the 3 Fingered Demon Zither or the 7 Fingered Flute at this moment. So he got out of the bath and dressed himself in the black robe with red trimmings.

    “Well here I am!”, said Yeung Yin Siu with his arms out stretched to show off his new black robes. His hair was still a mess.

    “This way please!”, replied 3 Finger Demon Zither leading Yeung Yin Siu to another tiny room.

    “Please go inside!”, said 7 Fingered Demon Flute pointing inside the room.

    Upon walking inside, Yeung Yin Siu noticed a big mirror. There were twos maid waiting for him.

    “Master, please sit!”, said one of the maids pointing to a comfortable and soft chair.

    Yeung Yin Siu did as he was told and sat down. The two maids started to comb and clean his long black hair, before tying it neatly into a bundle at the back with a red scarf. Yeung Yin Siu was then led out to a small garden at the back of the Golden Dragon Inn. There was a small pavilion amongst the artificial lake. Tit Yum Ching was sitting at the pavilion patiently waiting for him. Two small candles, two jugs of fine red wine, and a couple of glasses were carefully laid out on the table. The rain was still falling slightly at the moment. But the pavilion provided good shelter from the soft falling rain.

    Upon seeing that her guest had arrived, Tit Yum Ching decided to say to 3 Fingered Demon Zither and 7 Fingered Demon Cult, “This is none of your business! Please leave!”.

    “As you wish!”, replied 3 Fingered Demon Zither and 7 Fingered Demon Flute whilst bowing, before turning to leave.

    “Welcome young Fisherman Ho! I trust everything went smoothly! I’ve been wanting to meet you for sometime now!”, remarked Tit Yum Ching with an arm out stretched to invite Yeung Yin Siu to take a seat and join her for some wine.

    “A pleasure to meet you Scared Lady!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu whilst cupping his hands.

    “Everything went well! Except the part about having to bathe and changing into this new robe!”, continued Yeung Yin Siu with a grin on his face.

    “Oh! And is there anything wrong with the way you smell and look now? I’d say that you’re far more pleasant and handsome now than you were before!”, remarked Tit Yum Ching with a smile on her face.

    “Thank you for your compliments! Even so, the person who sits before you is not a true image of myself!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu whilst pouring a cup of wine and downing it.

    “People rarely present a true image of themselves in front of others! Most people present themselves in terms of how they would like to be perceived by others! You are capable of much more! Yet you would only want others to perceive you as a stinky fisherman! So how does this differ from you from the many others in this world?”, remarked Tit Yum Ching with a grin.

    “I specifically had you dressed this way, so that you could realise your full potential! Was I wrong in doing this? Only you can be the judge!”, continued Tit Yum Ching whilst pouring some wine. She could tell that Yeung Yin Siu was a very mysterious person with greater abilities than his appearance. So she had become very interested in finding out more about him.

    “Thanks again! Surely you didn’t invite out tonight for just a bit of a friendly chat! What do you want? You can be up front with me!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a grin on his face. He knew that a person of Tit Yum Ching’s stature would not just invite someone out for a drink, without first having some hidden agenda that she wanted to achieve.

    “Okay! I’ll be up front with you! My scouts told me that you’re planning to sever your ties with the Demon Cult after casting your vote at the annual general meeting! Is this correct?”, asked Tit Yum Ching with a serious and concerned look on her face.

    “Your scouts have kept you well informed! That is correct! I will be leaving the Demon Cult after this election, regardless of who wins. This is the first and last vote I will cast for the Demon Cult!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Why?”, asked Tit Yum Ching. She wanted to know why someone who was as talented as Yeung Yin Siu would quit the Demon Cult. Though no one in the Demon Cult respected Fisherman Nam, and thus Fisherman Ho, Tit Yum Ching knew there was something strange about this young man.

    Giving a little bit of a sigh before responding, Yeung Yin Siu said, “To be truthful, I’ve never really been a member of the Demon Cult at heart! I’ve spent my entire life as a nomad in wulin with no connection to any clan, and have been left alone for the past 10 years because of it! I’d like to keep it that way!”.

    “Fisherman Ho! These are dangerous times! There is strength to be found in numbers! The greater the numbers the greater the strength! We can protect and support you in difficult times! It’s no good being alone as no one will help you!”, gasped Tit Yum Ching upon hearing Yeung Yin Siu’s reason for leaving the Demon Cult.

    Yeung Yin Siu gave another sigh before responding, “Sacred Lady! Without unity, there is no strength, regardless of the numbers! When there is division amongst a large number of people, it can only lead to total chaos and destruction! I see that now in the Demon Cult!”.

    “There is greater strength to be found in individuals when freedom is at stake! So don’t underestimate the power of the nomads of wulin! We chose to live a peaceful life, but will fight against those who seek to take away that freedom! Regardless of whether it is the Demon Cult or the orthodox clans! I hope you remember that!”, continued Yeung Yin Siu in a very proud and defiant tone.

    “I see! So there’s no way to convince you from leaving then?”, replied Tit Yum Ching giving a sigh.

    “I’m just a stinky fisherman! The Demon Cult should not miss my abilities! I’m actually honoured that you’ve personally come to convince me to reconsider my decision to leave the Demon Cult!”, said Yeung Yin Siu as he gave a little laugh.

    Pausing for a moment to look serious he continued, “I respected your late father, Tit Hit Wong. So if you ever need my help I’ll be there to assist you as a friend and not a member of the Demon Cult! Understand?”.

    A smile creped back onto Tit Yum Ching's face as she nodded her head to indicate that she understood, before saying with all sincerity, “Fisherman Ho! Thank you for considering me as a friend!”.

    “There’s no need to thank me! I’ll be there for you anytime you need my help!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu in all sincerity.

    “My scouts tell me that you’ll be supporting Gwai Mo Ming in the elections! Why?”, asked Tit Yum Ching in a very curious tone. Fisherman Nam had always supported the Demon Cult, yet his apprentice was backing another faction. To her this was rather odd. But who could Tit Yum Ching have been expected to know that Yeung Yin Siu had stronger connections with Fung Lau Yin of the 7 Vixens and Kiu Pin Fok of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins.

    “Scared Lady! I mean no disrespect to you when I vote for Gwai Mo Ming! It is because I believe that the Demon Cult will be unified under his leadership! Many of the elders in both the Demon Cult, and unorthodox clans with allegiance to the Demon Cult respect his abilities”, diplomatically replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    In her heart Tit Yum Ching knew what Yeung Yin Siu had implied. That she did not have the ability to unify the Demon Cult because none of the elders had respected her abilities. Though she was confident that she would succeed, it appeared that there were few people that believed that she would. She was greatly troubled by this, but would never reveal it to anyone.

    Changing the subject Tit Yum Ching continued, “My scouts also tell me that you have been working in secret with Blacksmith Chan to forge a sword! Why?”.

    “Your scouts have done well!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu giving a loud laugh.

    Downing another cup of wine before continuing, he said, “You probably know that Fisherman Nam was my master! And that I surpassed his abilities when I was just 10 years of age! I spent the next 6 years refining and enriching the sword arts wielded through a fishing rod! I have already refined it to an advance level but had already reached a peak at the age of 16. Recently I have finally decided that it is time that I convert these sword arts from a fishing rod to be wielded through a sword!”.

    Twenty years ago, Kiu Pin Fok and Fung Lau Yin fought amongst themselves over who would have the ultimate responsibility of raising Yeung Yin Siu. They couldn’t reach a decision and eventually handed him over to Fisherman Nam to take care of. They thought that Fisherman Nam was in the best position to teach Yeung Yin Siu how to grow up and behave like a person of true character. Fisherman Nam subsequently accepted Yeung Yin Siu as an apprentice. Fung Lau Yin and Kiu Pin Fok would regularly visit Yeung Yin Siu and teach him kung fu as well. Though Yeung Yin Siu had reached an advance state in the arts taught to him by Kiu Pin Fok and Fung Lau Yin, he would never use them openly, to avoid trouble. That’s why he only used Fisherman Nam’s kung fu to defend against Cloud and Win earlier in the night. He had been intending to combine all of the skills he has learnt to be wielded through a sword. That way no one would recognise that it was the kung fu arts of Kiu Pin Fok or Fung Lau Yin. Fisherman Nam died 10 years ago, and Fung Lau Yin has been taking care of Yeung Yin Siu ever since.

    “I see! What will you call such a sword then?”, quizzed Tit Yum Ching with a curious look on her face.

    Unable to hold back the big grin on his face, Yeung Yin Siu enthusiastically replied, “I’ll call this sword, The Black Dragon Sword!”.

    “Black Dragon Sword?”, remarked Tit Yum Ching with a shock expression on her face.

    “Yes! You will not understand the reason behind the name of the sword even if I told you. But I just somehow though that it was the appropriate name for the sword!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “In a few months time, wulin will have more than one renowned Black Dragon Swordsman then! One in the West and one in the North!”, remarked Tit Yum Ching.

    Yeung Yin Siu just smiled and did not respond. There was a long silence as Tit Yum Ching stared at Yeung Yin Siu in awe and wonder.

    After a long while Tit Yum Ching, finally stood up to leave. She said, “Fisherman Ho! Thank you for meeting with me! I must leave now and head back to the Demon Valley! I wish you luck and hope that you’ll find peace as a nomad after the elections are over! See you at the Demon Valley!”.

    “Scared Lady, goodbye! And good luck in the elections!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu as he stood up and cupped his hands together.

    Tit Yum Ching disappeared from the garden and into the darkness moments later. Seeing that Tit Yum Ching had left, Yeung Yin Siu decided to head back up to the left wing to find out what had happened to Kiu Pin Fok. As he was walking down the corridor he noticed a number of people talking inside a small room. He decided to gently knock on the door before entering.

    Upon entering the room, Yeung Yin Siu, noticed that Kiu Pin Fok was laying down on the bed resting. There were four people sitting on the small table in the room with worried looks on their faces. A big black wolf was resting to the corner of the room. It was chewing on a large piece of raw meat for dinner. The four people sitting around the table were Fung Mun Kit, Fung Lau Yin, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Little brat! Where the heck have you been?”, Fung Lau Yin shouted upon seeing that Yeung Yin Siu had entered the room.

    “I’ve just been cleaning up the mess down below! I’ve only recently finished work!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu not wanting to tell Fung Lau Yin that he had just met with the Sacred Lady.

    “Why did you bathe, and cleaned yourself then? And where on earth did you get the new clothes?”, quizzed Fung Lau Yin, not totally satisfied.

    “Auntie! You didn’t expect me to go to the annual general meeting in my torn brown robes looking like a Beggar Clan member do you? That would guarantee me certain death! That’s why I’ve decided to clean myself up!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a cheeky grin.

    “Sister! Who’s this? Why does he call you auntie?”, Fung Mun Kit could be heard asking of Fung Lau Yin to the side.

    “I’ll explain to you later! Brother Kiu’s injury is more important at the moment!”, replied Fung Lau Yin taking her glance away from Yeung Yin Siu and shifting it to the injured Kiu Pin Fok laying down on the bed.

    “Master! That’s the one they call Fisherman Ho! He’s the one I travelled with down the Yellow River! Without him I wouldn’t have made it to Hennan to see you!”, interrupted Bak Tin Kiew to the side. She was now staring affectionately at Yeung Yin Siu. He looked very handsome in those black robes having cleaned himself up.

    Fung Mun Kit glanced up and down at Yeung Yin Siu, and was a little bit confused. All she could manage to say was, “Oh! So it’s Fisherman Nam’s apprentice. Though Fisherman Nam was kind and caring, his skills are just plain ordinary!”.

    “What do you know?”, cried Siu Wai not impressed by Fung Mun Kit’s comments. Yeung Yin Siu also looked a little displeased to the side.

    “Eh! Siu Wai! That’s not the way to be talking to your 6th senior uncle apprentice sister! Please apologise!”, demanded Fung Lau Yin as she went over to check the pulse of Kiu Pin Fok.

    “6th senior uncle apprentice sister, I apologise for my earlier comments!”, Siu Wai could be heard saying in a very apologetic tone.

    “Apologies accepted!”, replied Fung Mun Kit looking a little unmoved.

    Rushing to the side of the bed, Yeung Yin Siu finally decided to ask with a touch of concern, “Auntie, what happened to uncle Kiu?”.

    Fung Lau Yin gave a long sigh before continuing, “When I found him in Louyang he was already dazed and confused! He wasn’t able to recognise me at first until I used my inner energy to heal him! But his internal injuries are still quite bad. When he came to he told me everything, though his story is really troubling!”.

    “Why? What did he say?”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu sounding a little shock. The others were also curious to know what had happened. They had been too busy fighting against the Demon Cult members that they had no time to find out how Kiu Pin Fok had been injured.

    Pausing for a moment, Fung Lau Yin continued, “Brother Kiu told me he came across the Black Dragon Swordsman one night in Chongqing and was injured by the edge of his blade!”.

    “How’s that possible? I thought he was dead!”, remarked Bak Tin Kiew to the side.

    “At first I thought that the Black Dragon Swordsman had died 20 years ago and that the rumours about his return was created by an imposter! But I have no doubts now that he must still be alive!”, remarked Fung Lau Yin sounding very serious.

    “Sister! How can you be certain that it was the real Black Dragon Swordsman who had injured Brother Kiu?”, quizzed Fung Mun Kit, not 100% convinced.

    “Look at these wounds!”, cried Fung Lau Yin whilst pointing to the deep cuts around the neck, right chest, left chest, heart, right abdomen, left abdomen, right thigh, and left thigh region of Kiu Pin Fok’s injured body.

    “This move is called the ‘divine 9 dragon’. It was the exact same moved executed by the Black Dragon Swordsman over 20 years ago to defeat Sword Saint Unrivalled East in Chongqing! I saw it with my own eyes, and no one else is capable of executing this move!”, continued Fung Lau Yin. She was certain that she had guessed correctly.

    Fung Mun Kit still did not look convinced, she asked, “Sister! Did Brother Kiu say what this Black Dragon Swordsman looked like?”.

    “No!”, replied Fung Lau Yin whilst shaking her head.

    Pausing for a while, Fung Mun Kit continued, “Then we can’t be certain that it was the real Black Dragon Swordsman who attacked and injured Brother Kiu then!”.

    “Perhaps someone managed to steal the divine 9 dragon inner energy and the black dragon sword arts and has mastered them!”, interrupted Bak Tin Kiew. She knew this was a good guess given that the frost palms and the frost sword arts had also gone missing over 20 years ago. So it would be possible for someone to steal the Black Dragon Swordsman’s sword arts as well.

    “Not possible! Sister Lok said that she had hidden both manuals at a secret place in the Shaanix province! She’s left no other clues behind. So no one could have found those two manuals!”, rebutted Fung Lau Yin as she glanced across at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Taking a closer look at Bak Tin Kiew for the first time, Fung Lau Yin couldn’t help but ask, “Big sister, who the heck is this?”.

    “She’s my personal apprentice! I’ll tell you more about it later!”, replied Fung Mun Kit.

    “Perhaps the Black Dragon Swordsman had an apprentice that no one has heard about!”, interrupted Siu Wai to the side.

    “This is possible!”, replied Fung Lau Yin looking very concerned.

    “Either way Uncle Kiu is still injured! Will he be able to make it to the Demon Valley and vote at the elections?”, asked Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Yes! He’ll be able to vote! But not fight! Besides Doctor Wah Yek Si was here earlier to look over the wounds. He recommended that Brother Kiu take a couple of pain killers and would be okay in the morning!”, replied Fung Lau Yin looking very relaxed.

    “Ah! Ya! You let Doctor Wah examine Uncle Kiu’s injuries! What tablets did he prescribed?”, asked Yeung Yin Siu in shock. He knew that Doctor Wah was a bumbling doctor and was capable of performing miracles. However there was always a nasty unsuspecting side effect whenever he cured someone.

    “He didn’t say! All he said was to trust him and that everything would be okay!”, replied Fung Lau Yin.

    “You should all go and rest! Sister and I will now channel our inner energy into Brother Kiu’s body to heal his internal injures! Leave us!”, demanded Fung Mun Kit as she and Fung Lau Yin propped up Kiu Pin Fok from the bed.

    Pointing over to Siu Wai and Yeung Yin Siu, Fung Lau Yin could be heard saying, “You two! Make all the necessary arrangements! We’re heading off to the Demon Valley at first light in the morning!”.

    “Yes auntie!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu was he opened the door to allow the others to leave. He then closed the door and went back to his own room to rest.

    He thought to himself as he went to sleep, “I wonder if its true! That the Black Dragon Swordsman is alive!”.

    He was now determined to head off to Chongqing after the elections are over to locate the Black Dragon Swordsman. Whether he was real or fake, he wanted to know for certain. He slept very uneasily that particular night.

    End of Chapter 8.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  9. #29
    Junior Member hello me's Avatar
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    wow excellent writing Long!!

    I love how your chapters are long and suspensfull-not crappy short ones that doesn't get updated frequently.


    Do continue please.

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    Yes, please continue. The pace of the story was bit slow after the prologue but I guess that's to be expected. I find myself being more interested in Yeung Yin Siu as the main character as opposed to Bak Tin Kiew.

    It's nice to see the plot quicken again.
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

  11. #31
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    Question

    How do I subscribe to this thread. The hyperlink at the bottom of the page "subscribe to this thread" is no longer a hyperlink anymore.

  12. #32
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    Question

    How do I subscribe to this thread. The hyperlink at the bottom of the page "subscribe to this thread" is no longer a hyperlink anymore.

  13. #33
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    You should send a note to the administrator of the this forum.

    Well its a long weekend in Australia, so should be able to get Chapter 9 - Demon Valley finished within a couple of days.

    Hope I won't disappoint with my description of the epic battle between Gwai Mo Ming's supporters and Tit Yum Ching's supporters.

    Best of 7 - Demon Cult lines up with, 3 Fingered Demon Zither, 7 Finger Demon Flute, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning.

    There are plenty of twists in Gwai Mo Ming's line-up given the 'Black Bat Assassin' cannot fight because of injury. Stay tunned...
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  14. #34
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    Your story has got a great plot. I enjoyed reading it and I normally don't care much for fan fics.

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    Default Chapter 9: Demon Valley

    Chapter 9: Demon Valley

    It’s another warm and sunny morning in the city of Hennan. From the distance one can vaguely see what appears to be a trail of people walking along the slopes of the mountains about a 2-hour walk from the city centre. To those not familiar in the affairs and matters of wulin, it would almost appear as if they were just the many pilgrims making their way through the mountains on the way to a holy shrine. They could be forgiven as there were various sects and cults throughout Hennan who worship a range of different gods, and the mountains were just one of them. Those more knowledgable in the affairs and matters of wulin would know that the various people are heading towards the ‘forbidden zone’ behind the mountain range often referred to as the Demon Valley.


    It is widely known that first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Hongwu, upon ascending the throne issued a royal order declaring the mountain ranges behind city of Hennan as the ‘forbidden zone’. Anyone caught in the forbidden zone could be executed on the spot without a trail. It was widely known throughout wulin that the ‘forbidden zone’ was in fact the main headquarters of the Demon Cult. So there have been numerous rumours throughout wulin as to the reasons behind why Emperor Hongwu had issued such a declaration.

    The most popular rumour was that Emperor Hongwu wished to declare and protect the mountain ranges behind Hennan, as sacred land, in honour of the various allies and elite fighters from the Demon Cult who fought alongside him during the revolt against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. It was not considered appropriate however for the Emperor to be openly making such a declaration as the various fighters who had fought alongside him from the Demon Cult were renowned rapists, murders, and robbers. Thus it was not in the public interest of the Ming government at the time to be seen rewarding such people despite their efforts in driving the Mongols out of China. So Emperor Hongwu declared those lands as the ‘forbidden zone’ to prevent others, including members of orthodox clans, from stepping foot on the mountain ranges and the valley on the outskirts of Hennan. But in secret Emperor Hongwu was said to have reached an agreement with the Chancellor of the Demon Cult at the time, that the ‘forbidden zone’ was the sacred land of the Demon Cult, and that they may do as they wished within the ‘forbidden zone’.

    Another popular rumour was that Emperor Hongwu, in his younger days when he was known as Chu Yin Cheung, was only the second in command of the band of rebels leading the revolt against the Yuan Dynasty. The leader of the revolt had actually been Chancellor Yeung, the leader of an unorthodox religious clan called the Divine Red Moon Sect based in Hennan. But Chu Yin Cheung harboured ambitions of becoming the Emperor. Subsequently he set a plot and murdered Chancellor Yeung, and subsequently became the leader of the band of rebels. His treachery was uncovered shortly after he ascended the throne, so Emperor Hongwu decided to distanced himself and sever all ties with the Divine Red Moon Sect. He subsequently declared the Divine Red Moon Sect as the Demon Cult, and its various members as outlaws. Members of wulin from the orthodox clans also caught on to this and started to call the Divine Red Moon Sect as the Demon Cult, mainly because of their odd religion and the fact that many of their members behaved oddly. So in essence the Demon Cult wasn’t really evil to begin with. However, over the generations they have recruited a number of men that are purely evil at heart and have done a number of cruel acts.

    Emperor Hongwu had also claimed that all of the lands that were owned by the elders of the Demon Cult were crown land and thus declared those lands as the ‘forbidden zone’. He had sought to mercilessly decimate and eliminate the Demon Cult. But his plot had failed however as many Demon Cult members defied his orders, leading to years of war, and conflict between the Ming government and the Demon Cult. Locals of Hennan now refer to the ‘forbidden zone’ as the Demon Valley, as few people have ever escaped with their lives upon entering. They thought it was now being protected by some wicked demon. Not even Ming government officials of the day dare enter the Demon Valley. So some could say that the Demon Cult had won out despite Emperor Hongwu’s plot to eliminate them. They have also survived numerous wars with the orthodox clans.

    At this moment a small group of people had reached the bank of a smallish lake at the base of the valley behind the mountain range. The water in the lake appeared to be blood red. White fumes were being emitted from the water creating a slight fog. Trapped underneath the mud are skeletons of all types. There were the skulls of humans, wild boar, wolves, goats, wild horses, birds, and fish. It was obvious that the water was poisoned. Lined up on the side of the bank were hundreds of small rafts made out of green bamboo. These are to be used by the various guests that had arrived at the Demon Valley to travel across the lake. At present, there are around 60 men, wearing white robes with a red half-crescent moon embroided on the top right hand corner, standing underneath an arch gateway guarding entrance to the port. They are obviously the Demon Cult members normally tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Demon Valley from an unexpected invasion. Today is totally different however, as their main purpose is to ensure that the various guests travel on a safe passage to the great halls of the Demon Cult were the annual general meeting would be held. There are two large stones carved into the shape of a skeleton situated on each side of the arch gateway. A red half-crescent moon is painted on the foreheads of each of the large stones.

    “Hold it! Stand where you are and show us your pass!”, shouted the man dressed in white robes standing on the right side of the arch gateway as the small group of three approached him.

    One could see that this man had strapped by the right side of his waist a small umbrella. The umbrella was painted black and white. Half of his face was painted black, and the other side of his face was painted white. He appeared to be a man in his late 30s and carries a very serious disposition. One could see that his eyes are red. He looks very horrid and wicked in broad daylight. This man is none other than Hypnotic Umbrella, a Regional Commander of the Demon Cult. He was a renowned rapist in the city of Luoyang. He often used his powers to hypnotise many unfortunate young ladies. It was rumoured that he was once a very faithful man and was actually an apprentice of the Huashan Sect. So he wasn’t evil at heart to begin with. He married a very beautiful wife and lived a very happy life. But one day he uncovered the truth about his wife. She had been cheating on him all along and slept with numerous rich merchants. She wanted to live a life of luxury rather than endure the hardships, matters, and affairs of wulin. This drove Hypnotic Umbrella mad. It was rumoured that he then sold his wife to a brothel, before joining the Demon Cult. Unable to bury his pain and fury, he now he uses his hypnotic powers to get even with all of the females that walk this earth.

    Reaching into his pockets the handsome young man in black robes with red trimmings held up a small black rectangle insignia with a half-crescent moon at its centre for the Hypnotic Umbrella to see. The young lady in black standing next to him did the same. The young girl dressed in a flowing red dress did the same and held her insignia into the air.

    “You two may proceed ahead!”, shouted Hypnotic Umbrella whilst pointing an index finger at the young man in black and the young girl in black.

    “What about my friend?”, asked the young man in black with some concern for the young lady in red. He knew that they had reached the base of the Demon Cult, so it would be very difficult for anyone to escape at the moment. The young girl in red would surely be killed if the guards had found something wrong with her pass.

    “She can’t proceed just yet! We no longer accept that kind of pass here!”, shouted Hypnotic Umbrella looking at the small octagonal insignia with a half crescent moon on it.

    “Then we will stand here and wait until you’ve given clearance for our friend to enter the Demon Valley!”, replied the young man in black in a very confident tone as he led the young girl in black and stood to the side.

    “You may do what you feel is best! I’ve already cleared you two! So you can go at anytime! It’s starting soon!”, said the Hypnotic Umbrella whilst casting a side glance at the young man in black.

    He then gave a signal to his men, and 10 Demon Cult swordsman rushed up and surrounded the young girl in red. The situation was now getting tense. Though the young girl in red had been wearing a mask to cover the upper half of her face from visible sight, one could notice that she was now trembling slightly in fear.

    “Who are you? Why are you here? Speak!”, demanded Hypnotic Umbrella in a very authoritative tone.

    “I’m… I’m… I’m the personal apprentice of the White Maiden, Fung Mun Kit! My name is Lok Tin Kiew!”, replied the young girl in red in a very nervous tone.

    Underneath the broad daylight one could recognise that the small group of three had indeed been, Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew. They were running slightly late. Earlier in the day they had been travelling together with Gwai Mo Ming, Fung Lau Yin, Fung Mun Kit, Kiu Pin Fok, and the rest of the crew. They reached a stumbling point at the first check point on the slopes of the mountains when Siu Wai was told in no uncertain terms by a Demon Cult swordsman that no pets were allowed. Siu Wai had brought her pet ‘Black Snow’ along with her as they have never separated once before in 8 years since she had him. So she was very annoyed and upset by the rule laid down by Tit Yum Ching for the annual general meeting.

    The three of them had no other choice but to head back to the Golden Dragon Inn and before booking a room, and convincing one of the stable boys to take good care of Black Snow before venturing back to the Demon Valley. This took a great deal of convincing, as no one in their right mind would believe that a big black wolf was capable of being tamed. But as the Golden Dragon Inn had been owned by an elder of the Demon Cult the stable boy could not refuse.

    The annual general meeting was convening shortly so they were slightly annoyed at being delayed a second time. Yeung Yin Siu knew that Fung Lau Yin was now most probably sitting down at the great halls of the Demon Cult cursing underneath her breath at them for being so late. On top of this they had set off a day later than they would have liked, as Kiu Pin Fok reacted very badly to the pain killers given to him by the Lucky Doctor, Wah Yek Si. That is if Doctor Wah had given Kiu Pin Fok painkillers. They couldn’t be 100% certain. But Kiu Pin Fok had started feeling a little bit better in the morning. Fung Lau Yin had actually wanted to arrive at the Demon Valley a day before the meeting to observe the atmosphere before the elections. But that was not meant to be.

    “Fung Mun Kit? Fung Mun Kit?”, repeated Hypnotic Umbrella whilst scratching his head. He had heard of a similar name before earlier in the day and had allowed her to pass for some special reason. But he had forgotten what that reason was by now. Over 2,000 people had passed through during the day, so it was very impossible for him to remember the finer details of one particular individual.

    “What’s the problem here?”, shouted another man dressed in white robes as he walked forward to take a closer look at what’s going on.

    One could see that this man was a rather tall and well-built man in his early 40s. He looked very rough and rugged. The white robes he was wearing was torn around the shoulders and ankles. He was carrying a very long black staff. A small human skeleton was placed on top of his staff for use as a weapon. It appeared that this human skull had belonged to a small child. A necklace made of human teeth was worn around his neck. This man was none other than the Cannibal Chung, another of the Regional Commanders of the Demon Cult. He is renowned for his passion of feasting on the flesh of young children and grown adult men. Unlike Hypnotic Umbrella, Cannibal Chung had always been a member of the Demon Cult and was evil at heart.

    Pointing an index finger at Bak Tin Kiew and placing the octagonal insignia into Cannibal Chung’s hands, Hypnotic Umbrella said, “Brother Chung! This young miss presented me with an old pass and said she was an apprentice of someone named Fung Mun Kit! Are you familiar with this name?”.

    Taking the old octagonal insignia into his hands before casting a glance back at Bak Tin Kiew, Cannibal Chung replied, “Let this little young one pass! Personal apprentices of the commanders and Chiefs of the various clans during Tit Hit Wong’s reign are allowed to cast a vote at the annual general meeting today!”.

    “So what? I don’t understand! We haven’t used this pass in ages! Why should we let her through?”, asked Hypnotic Umbrella with his arms out stretched, not totally convinced by Cannibal Chung’s comments.

    Pausing for a while Cannibal Chung continued, “Fung Mun Kit! I have heard of this name before! She passed through here earlier in the day and we let her through! She was the personal apprentice of the former Chief of the 7 Vixens over two generations ago when Tit Hit Wong first ruled over the Demon Cult. Since this young girl is an apprentice of hers, we’ll make an exception and let her pass today!”.

    “Okay! I’ll let her through! But I don’t agree with it!”, replied Hypnotic Umbrella whilst waving his hands to indicate to the 10 swordsman who had surrounded Bak Tin Kiew to back off. They leaped back several paces upon seeing the signal and resumed standing to the side.

    “Thank you!”, said Bak Tin Kiew with a sigh of relief whilst cupping her hands to acknowledge Hypnotic Umbrella and Cannibal Chung.

    “No worries! You three may now proceed to the final checkpoint once you’ve crossed the lake!”, said Cannibal Chung whilst handing over a long bamboo pole over to Yeung Yin Siu, and pointing to the small bamboo raft laid out on the side of the lake.

    “Oh! I nearly forgot! You must take these before you cross the lake!”, remarked Hypnotic Umbrella as he raced to the side of Yeung Yin Siu, Bak Tin Kiew, and Siu Wai, before handing them a small brown pill each.

    “What are these for?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew not entirely sure whether she should swallow the pill or not.

    “Don’t worry! These pills are the antidote for the poisonous fumes emitted by the lake!”, replied Siu Wai as she swallowed the pill down her throat. Yeung Yin Siu did the same. Finally Bak Tin Kiew was convinced that the brown pill was not poisonous and swallowed it as well.

    In fact the lake had been the main reason that the Demon Cult had been able to survive over all these generations. No one was able to cross the lake to attack their headquarters because no one knew how to make the antidote to the poisonous fumes emitted by the lake. Those who had attempted to destroy the Demon Cult only ended up being one of the many skeletons buried deep in the mud beneath the blood red water. This was the first defence mechanism.

    Yeung Yin Siu and Siu Wai proceeded to the side of the bank before lifting up a small bamboo raft and placed it into the water. There was enough room to fit three people in the small raft. Moments later Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew stepped onto the raft. The lake was pretty shallow, so Yeung Yin Siu was able to use the long bamboo pole to steer the bamboo raft down the lake.

    Taking an opportunity to look around for the first time, Bak Tin Kiew noticed that they were not alone in making their way across the Demon Valley. About 50 small bamboo rafts were making their way down the lake. She noticed that most of the people were rather odd looking. A few of the men had unusual facial features, like large chins, lips, noses, and ears. Some head very long necks. Whilst others were dressed particularly unusual. Some of the men travelling to the left of them had blue hair, whilst others had pink. It was obvious that the Demon Cult attracted a lot of weird and eccentric personalities.

    Looking to her right, Bak Tin Kiew, noticed a number of men dressed in plain white robes and wore a plain white mask to cover their face from sight. She was became very curious about these men, so decided to ask, “Fisherman Ho! Who are those people on the right? Why are they dressed like that?”.

    Taking a quick glance to the right, Yeung Yin Siu replied, “Oh, you mean those people! They’re just like you!”.

    “Like me? What do you mean?”, Bak Tin Kiew asked in shock. She had no clues as to what Yeung Yin Siu had implied.

    “Like you, they’re all members of renowned orthodox clans! But they are also secret members and spies for the Demon Cult. So in order to cover up their identities, they wear a mask to cover their face! In fact other than the newly elected Chancellor of the Demon Cult! No one will know who these people actually are!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu as he continued to steer the raft down the lake. Being a fisherman, he was particularly skilled in driving the raft and made steady progress towards the small island in the middle of the lake.

    “Oh!”, gasped Bak Tin Kiew upon hearing Yeung Yin Siu’s response.

    Bak Tin Kiew was slightly alarmed and remained silent.

    “I wonder if there are Demon Cult spies at our respectful Taishan Sect?”, she thought inwardly. She was now a little concerned for the safety of her father, upon remembering that Yik Ching Fung, Ling Wu Mun, and Hua Ling Do had all left Taishan. She then relaxed upon remembering that her father was actually one of the top 5 elite fighters in wulin. So no one could possibly harm him.

    Bak Tin Kiew fixed her gaze ahead at the small island. They were drawing closer and closer to it by the second. She could now see that there was a large rock cliff face that surrounded the island. One could see that there was a small mountain peak on the island behind the rock face. The rock cliff face formed the second solid defence mechanism around the island, making it very difficult for anyone to invade. Above the surface of the cliff face stood a number of men dressed in white robes with red trimmings. All of them held a large bow arrow in hand, ready to shoot down at an approaching enemy.

    “It’s no wonder that no one has been able to crush the Demon Cult after all these years!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself as she stared in awe at the formidable fortress before her.

    A large evil looking human skeleton was carved into the rock the side of the rock wall. One could clearly see that a large red half-crescent moon was painted on the forehead of the skeleton. It appeared as if the mouth of the skeleton was the gateway to the great fortress. Bak Tin Kiew could see that the many tiny bamboo rafts before them had sailed and disappeared into the darkness upon entering the mouth of the skeleton. She was slightly afraid at this point. Yeung Yin Siu and Siu Wai had travelled to the Demon Valley previously so did not have an ounce of fear at all. It was a routine exercise to them.

    The small bamboo raft captained by Yeung Yin Siu made it’s way towards the rock face, and entered through the mouth of the skeleton shortly afterwards. They were now completely surrounded by darkness, as the port had not been lit. Even though they could not see what was going on around the port, they could hear various footsteps and many people shouting out loud ahead of them. They had now entered what is often referred to by members of the Demon Cult as the ‘dark passage of lost souls’, the third major defence mechanism of this great fortress. It was in fact a large underground cave leading out to towards the top of the mountain peak on the island.

    “This way please!”, shouted an unknown man in the darkness as three men raced up and seized Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew by the arms before leading them up a series of vertical steps. It appeared as if they had been walking around in a spiral as they proceeded upwards. So one could tell that these steps had been coiled around a large rock pillar.

    “Fisherman Ho! It’s so dark here! How can these people possibly see and guide us?”, quizzed Bak Tin Kiew in the dark. She sounded a little nervous at being led in the dark by a stranger.

    “These people are the apprentices of the Night Owl! They posses a strange kind of inner energy, like that of an owl and can see quite clearly in the dark”, replied Siu Wai in a slightly annoyed tone. She couldn’t believe that Bak Tin Kiew would be asking, what to her, seemed like stupid questions. But Bak Tin Kiew was very curious about this place, as it was the first time she had ever been there.

    “That’s right! In fact we’ll be meeting Night Owl shortly at the top of these steps!”, said Yeung Yin Siu in a very casual tone to the side.

    Night Owl was one of the 15 Regional Commanders of the Demon Cult. He was quite a deadly fighter at night because of his abilities to see clearly in the dark. It was a different matter during the day so the Night Owl rarely left the Demon Valley, but instead remained as the Commander of all Security at the Demon Cult. Because of his unique ability to see in the dark, Night Owl, devised this ingenious third defence mechanism for the Demon Cult. Prior to his time as the Commander of Security, the ‘dark passage of lost souls’ had actually been lit by candle light.

    “I see!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew. She looked up for the first time and noticed a pair of luminous green eyes glowing in the dark that belonged to the unknown man who had seized her by the arm and was now leading her up the winding steps.

    They reached the top of the flight of stairs moments later. They were now being led towards a pair of luminous green eyes standing on the left holding what appeared to be a small torch on the right at the end of the tunnel.

    “That must be the Night Owl!”, thought Bak Tin Kiew to herself upon seeing the pair of luminous green eyes ahead.

    “Don’t touch the sides of the walls!”, shouted one of the unknown men as he led them forward towards the light.

    “Why?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew in a curious voice again.

    “Do you always have to know?”, replied Siu Wai sounding a little irritated by Bak Tin Kiew’s series of questions.

    “Eh! Siu Wai, she’s only curious as it’s the first time she’s been to the Demon Valley!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu a little ahead of them.

    Taking a momentary pause, he continued, “We have reached the top and are now walking through the last defence mechanism guarding this great fortress. It’s called the ‘soul crushing passage’. Do you know why?”.

    “No”, replied Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Because both sides of the wall are laced with thousands of poisonous spearheads. When the tiny mechanism towards the entrance is activated, the wall will close in on the enemies that are walking through the passage. If they are not crushed to death, they will die through the injuries sustained through the spearheads. If that fails to kill them, they’ll certainly die from the poison. So please don’t touch the side of the wall!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu to the side. He sounded very serious.

    Upon reaching 10 paces away from the pair of luminous green eyes, Bak Tin Kiew, finally noticed that there were actually two rather one person who stood before them. The man on the left was most likely Night Owl. Another man stood on the right with his right hand out stretched in the darkness. It appeared as if his right hand was on fire. He wasn’t holding onto a torch at all as Bak Tin Kiew had first assumed.

    “That’s Red Flame! One of the renowned ‘5 Elements’ of the Demon Cult! The others are Yellow Air, Green Earth, Brown Wood and Blue Water! All have unique abilities!”, remarked Yeung Yin Siu in the dark, anticipating that Bak Tin Kiew would ask him that question.

    Raising his flamed right hand in the darkness, to take a closer look at Yeung Yin Siu, Red Flame could be heard praising, “Excellent! Excellent! You’re a very knowledgable young man!”.

    “Hold it! You may not enter just yet! Each of you must first tell me your names, and the name of your master! Speak! Quickly now!”, demanded Night Owl in a very authoritative tone.

    “My name is Ho Yin Siu! My master’s name is Nam Sai Ka! My master held the post of Usher during Chancellor Tit Hit Wong’s reign!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu.

    “Ah! So its none other than Fisherman Ho! You’re an eligible voting member today! Our records show that this is only the second time you’ve been to the Demon Valley! The only other time you were here was for Chancellor Tit Hit Wong’s funeral!”, remarked Night Owl in the dark.

    Under the dim light provided by Red Flame’s flaming right hand, one could vaguely see that Night Owl was holding and reading a large book in his hands. It appeared to contain the names, and number of meetings and events attended by all members of the Demon Cult members.

    “Here! Take this! It is your voting pass for the day”, Red Flame could be heard saying to the side as he passed what appeared to be a small white insignia with a red half-crescent moon at its centre over to Yeung Yin Siu with his left hand.

    “Thanks!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu as he reached out to take the white insignia before placing it into his pockets.

    Stepping forward, Siu Wai said, “My name is Siu Wai! My master’s name is Lai Kit Ying! She was the former Chief of the 7 Vixens and held the post of Clan Leader during Chancellor Tit Hit Wong’s reign!”.

    “Ah! So you’re another voting member! Unlike Fisherman Ho! You’ve attended the majority of the meetings held here!”, remarked Night Owl.

    Moments later, Siu Wai reached out her hand to take her voting insignia from Red Flame, before placing it in her pockets and stood to the side.

    “My name is Lok Tin Kiew! My master’s name is Fung Mun Kit! I don’t know what position she held during Chancellor Tit Hit Wong’s reign!”, Bak Tin Kiew could be heard saying in a very nervous tone. She had no idea what this would mean, and whether she would be allowed to enter.

    There was a long silence as Night Owl did not respond. One could hear and tell that he was frantically turning the many pages trying to locate the name Lok Tin Kiew in the register. Ten minutes had passed by and Night Owl was still searching through the list containing thousands of names.

    “Her master, Fung Mun Kit, belongs to the 7 Vixens Clan also!”, Yeung Yin Siu finally decided to say, to break the dead silence, and assist Night Owl in searching for the name.

    “Ah ha! I see! She’s new here! The name register says that Fung Mun Kit does not yet have an apprentice!”, shouted Night Owl in some excitement at having uncovered a new member of the Demon Cult.

    “Well? All you need to do now is to amend the names register to reflect that Lok Tin Kiew is the apprentice of Fung Mun Kit! Why are you taking so long? What are you waiting for?”, remarked Red Flame to the side. He knew that the meeting had probably already started

    “You miss, take this!”, continued Red Flame as he reached into his pockets to grab a black rectangle insignia with a red half-crescent moon at its centre before presenting it to Bak Tin Kiew.

    “Thanks!”, replied Bak Tin Kiew in a little bit of shock as she reached out and grabbed the insignia, before placing it in her pockets. Never in her wildest dreams could she imagine that she would have become a Demon Cult member so easily. All she did was attend an annual general meeting of the Demon Cult. She thought there would be far stricter rules involved when joining the Demon Cult. But Bak Tin Kiew could not have possibly have known that the apprentices of Demon Cult members are automatically registered as members.

    “Okay! I have now amended to names register to officially state that you are the apprentice of Fung Mun Kit. As this is the first meeting you’ve attended, you are not eligible to vote today. You’ll be able to vote at any of our meetings following the annual general meeting. That black pass is proof that you are a member of the Demon Cult. You may use it to enter the Demon Valley at any time you wish!”, said Night Owl upon amending the name register.

    “You three are cleared to proceed ahead to the great hall were the annual general meeting is being held. You’ll need to take the left corridor at the end of this passage!”, continued Red Flame as he opened the small door leading to down another narrow passage that had been lit up by bright candle light.

    Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew walked down the narrow corridor passage in single file. Yeung Yin Siu led the way and soon reached the end before taking a left turn. The passage to the left was much wider and Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew took this opportunity to walk to the side of Yeung Yin Siu. They proceeded down the path for around 10 minutes, and were now reaching the end of the passage. They could now see there was an arch doorway at the end of the passage guarded by two Demon Cult members. Two marble skeletons were hung aloft of the right and left side of the arch doorway. Both skeletons had a red-half crescent moon painted on the forehead. Through the arch doorway they could see a number of people had lined up shoulder to shoulder with the backs towards them. There were a hundreds of rounded white marble pillars holding up the roof the great hall. The great hall was around 100 metres tall and around 400 metres wide. The walls of the hall were unusually curved. It was said that they rebounded the sound waves around the great hall so that everyone could hear what was being said at the front. Various drawings, stories, and names were carved in red ink into the marble pillars. It was obvious that the pillars were used to record the history of the Demon Cult.

    “Hold it! Stand were you are! Show us your pass!”, shouted one of the men guarding the arch doorway.

    Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew did as they were told. Reaching into their pockets they held the black insignia with a red half-crescent moon aloft in the air.

    “Right! You three may enter! You’ve missed the beginning! Hurry up! The elections are about to begin!”, shouted the other man guarding the doorway.

    “Where are Gwai Mo Ming and his supporters?”, Yeung Yin Siu decided to ask the two guards before entering the great hall.

    “Gwai Mo Ming’s group have been allocated to the right side of the hall. Those eligible to vote are asked to stand at the front near the duelling arena!”, replied one of the guards.

    Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew proceeded towards the great hall. Upon entering they could see that over 3,000 people have gathered in the hallway and were standing shoulders to shoulders in large groups facing the front of the hall. The majority of the people were wearing white robes with red trimmings. The three of them proceeded along the space created between the large groups of men and headed down to the front of the hall.

    One could now see that there was a 20 metre by 20 metre square duelling arena at the front of the hall. The duelling arena was actually a pit carved into the black marble floor. It was about 2.5 metres deep. There were a series of steps to the side of the duelling arena. The steps wound around a pillar up to the second level. In the middle of the second level one could see that there was a marble seat carved into the shape of a human skeleton. A red half-crescent moon was painted on the forehead. This was the Chancellor of the Demon Cult’s seat. It was empty at the moment. To the left of the seat sat, Tit Yum Ching. She was wearing a black dress with white trimmings today. A black veil covered the lower portion of her face. As the Sacred Lady, she was the ‘acting’ Chancellor of the Demon Cult with responsibility of overseeing the annual general meeting until a new Chancellor is elected. The left and right her sat the 3 Fingered Demon Zither and the 7 Fingered Demon Flute. The ‘5 Storms’, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning stood behind her with their arms folded.

    There were another three seats to the right of the Chancellor of the Demon Cult’s seat. The seat closest to the Chancellor’s seat was empty at the moment. There was a man in his late 40s sitting in the seat next to the empty seat. He had a long beard and a short moustache. He wore a long white robe with red trimmings. A large black book was resting by his side. Another man in his late 30s was sitting opposite to this man. He carried a long black marble stick in his left hand.

    “Were the heck have you three been? What took you so long?”, shouted Fung Lau Yin upon seeing that Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew had finally arrived.

    “Auntie, we got here as quickly as we could. It’s a 4-hour trip from here to Hennan and back! We’ve made it here regardless! Besides we’re not too late for the elections!”, rebutted Yeung Yin Siu with a slight grin.

    “Why you! Just stand aside and behave!”, replied Fung Lau Yin looking a little annoyed.

    Yeung Yin Siu, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew each picked a spot to stand behind Fung Lau Yin, and Fung Mun Kit.

    At this moment Tit Yum Ching stood up and began speaking. One could hear her voice echoing through the great halls. She said, “Members, as many of you know my late father Tit Hit Wong passed away six months ago without officially handing over his leadership. Also the Deputy Chancellor died at the hands of the Head Master of the Songshan Sect over a year ago and his position had never been filled. So we’ve been leaderless over the past six months and I have been acting as the Chancellor since that time. It is now time, however, according to our rules that we officially elect a new Chancellor to govern over the affairs of the Demon Cult”.

    “I now invite the Deputy Rule Elder to preside over the elections as I am a contender for the leadership. Over to you Deputy Rule Elder!”, continued Tit Yum Ching whilst signalling to the Deputy Rule Elder to stand up.

    “Why thank you Sacred Lady! As many of you may know Rule Elder Ma died a few weeks before this meeting and cannot thus be here. We are sadden by his death. Never the less I am delighted to be able to preside over these elections. In fact it is the first time in our Sect’s history that we have had to resort to an election to determine who the leader is. Unfortunately our Chancellor died so abruptly that he did not have time to hand over the leadership to one of our other members!”, remarked the Deputy Rule Elder as he stood up and introduced himself.

    “According to our rules, only the personal apprentices of the Chiefs, District Leaders, and those holding official posts during Chancellor Tit Hit Wong’s reign are allowed to vote today. I understand that Red Flame has already given those with voting rights a white rectangle insignia. Night Owl’s apprentice has just told me that there are only 120 eligible voters from the 3,000 members that have gathered here today!”, continued the Deputy Rule Elder as he walked forward to face the membership.

    Turning to each of the three contenders, the Deputy Rule Elder said, “We have three contenders for the leadership today. The Sacred Lady, Tit Yum Ching, is the first candidate. The second candidate is, the Clan Leader, Gwai Mo Ming, who I’m sure most of you well know. The third candidate is another Clan Leader, Miu Tit Sie. In a few moments time three of my apprentices will walk by with three different coloured porcelain bowls. Those voting for Tit Yum Ching should place their white voting pass into the white porcelain bowl. Those voting for Gwai Mo Ming should place their votes in the black porcelain bowl. Those voting for Miu Tit Sie should place their votes into the yellow porcelain bowl. The contender with the most will be declared the Chancellor! Let’s commence!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder whilst waving a hand to his three apprentices. They immediately walked through the crowd with a bowl each to collect the votes from those eligible members standing at the front of the hall.

    Moments later one of the apprentices walked up towards the group of people standing behind Gwai Mo Ming. All of the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins, 7 Vixens, Yeung Yin Siu, and a number of others placed a white insignia into the white porcelain bowl. In around 15 minutes time, the three apprentices of the Deputy Rule Elder walked up the steps to the second level, before placing the three porcelain bowls in front of his feet. The Deputy Rule Elder counted the votes one by one in the white bowl before stacking up all of white the insignia’s that were in that bowl into a vertical pile.

    As expected the Deputy Rule Elder could be heard shouting when he finished counting the votes in the white porcelain bowl, “The Sacred Lady, Tit Yum Ching, has a total of 40 votes. That is exactly one third of the votes!”.

    The Deputy Rule Elder then counted and stacked the votes in the black porcelain bowl in another vertical pile. Clearing his voice he shouted, “The Clan Leader, Gwai Mo Ming, has a total of 40 votes. That is exactly one third of the votes!”.

    By now it was clear that Miu Tit Sie also had 40 votes. But as a matter of due process, the Deputy Rule Elder counted each of the votes contained in the yellow porcelain bowl before stacking all of the votes into a vertical pile again.

    “The Clan Leader, Miu Tit Sie, also has a total of 40 votes! That is exactly one third of the votes!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder for the last time.

    All 3,000 people gathered in the great hall could tell that the Deputy Rule Elder had told the truth. The three piles of votes stacked in a vertical pile were level with each other. Also there were only 120 eligible voters. The members now waited patiently to see how the Deputy Rule Elder would settle the matter of the Leadership of the Demon Cult. The majority of members did not know what the rules in relation to this matter were.

    Stepping forward once more to face the crowd, the Deputy Rule Elder spoke in a very loud tone, “According to our ancient rules the leadership will be determined by a duel amongst the supporters of those contending for the leadership! There will be 7 duels, with the side winning four matches being declared the winner! Since there are three contenders for the leadership we’ll draw straws to see which two sides get to fight first!”.

    “Deputy Rule Elder! That’s okay! I withdraw my challenge for the leadership!”, shouted Miu Tit Sie has he stepped forward. Many of the people were shocked by his comments as they did not expect him to withdraw from the leadership contest all of the sudden.

    Miu Tit Sie realised that amongst his group of supporters, he did not have the 7 elite fighters to contend with 7 elite fighters from Tit Yum Ching’s band of supporters or Gwai Mo Ming’s band of supporters. So he figured that it was wise to withdraw from the leadership contest at this moment in time. He respected Gwai Mo Ming, so wouldn’t have minded if he had won the elections. But he also saw the potential to uproot Tit Yum Ching and claim the leadership for himself if she were to win. He decided it was best to let fate determine whom the Chancellor of the Demon Cult would be, before making up his mind what he would do next.

    “What? According to our ancient rules, you may pass your votes to any of the contenders. Who will you pass your 40 votes to? That will settle the matter of who the Chancellor will be!”, replied the Deputy Rule Elder in shock.

    “I will pass 20 votes to the Sacred Lady, Tit Yum Ching and 20 votes to Clan Leader, Gwai Mo Ming!”, replied Miu Tit Sie with a grin on his face. He had caused a second deadlock by doing this. But he had his reasons. He wanted see the two sides fight hard for the leadership and hopefully the elite fighters from both sides would serverly injure themselves. This can only aid in his future plans to gain the leadership should Tit Yum Ching win.

    “There are now a total of 60 votes for the Sacred Lady, and 60 votes for Gwai Mo Ming! It’s still a deadlock. So the leadership will now be determined by a duel. The first side to gain four victories in the best of seven shall be declared the winner!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder.

    “Clan Leader Gwai, are you going to participate in fighting for your right to be the Chancellor? Or are you going to choose seven elite fighters from your group of supporters to fight on your behalf instead?”, the Deputy Rule Elder decided to first ask Gwai Mo Ming.

    “I will select six of my elite fighters to fight along side me!”, replied Gwai Mo Ming as he turned to hold a conference with his supporters.

    “Sacred Lady, I will ask you the same question. Are you going to participate in fighting for your right to be the Chancellor? Or are you going to choose seven elite fighters from your group of supporters to fight on your behalf?”, said the Deputy Rule Elder turning to Tit Yum Ching.

    “Deputy Rule Elder, my skills are just modest and I dare not compare myself with the likes of Clan Leader Gwai! I will therefore select seven of my elite fighters to fight for the leadership on my behalf. In fact I’ve already selected my seven fighters and the order in which they will be fighting!”, replied Tit Yum Ching as she stood up.

    “My first fighter is 3 Fingered Demon Zither. Followed by 7 Fingered Demon Flute, Wind, Cloud, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning!”, continued Tit Yum Ching turning to the group of people who sat around her.

    “According to our ancient rules! The first side to settle the order and line-up for the duel shall have the right to waive one of the rules from our code of chivalry for these series of duels!”, replied the Deputy Rule Elder.

    “Who’s the captain of the Sacred Lady’s team? And which rule do you wish to wave?”, continued the Deputy Rule Elder whilst casting a glance back at Tit Yum Ching.

    Stepping forward Lightning could be heard saying in a very chilling voice, “We have decided to waive the no fatalities rule! That is we want these duels to be determined by a life and death battle”.

    A shiver went down the spines of most of the members in the great hall upon hearing this. A certain bloodshed was going to take place today.

    “Clan Leader Gwai! Did you hear that wavier? And what is your order and line-up? We have to settle that before we commence and the line-up cannot be altered!”, quizzed the Deputy Rule Elder from above.

    “I’ve heard and agree with the waiver! I’ll let you know of our line-up and order in a few moments time! Please allow me more time to discuss this matter with my loyal supporters!”, replied Gwai Mo Ming before turning around to discuss his plans with Fung Mun Kit, Fung Lau Yin and the others.

    “Yes certainly! This is a very important matter! Take as much time as you need!”, replied the Deputy Rule Elder as he sat back down in his chair. He knew that it was going to take some time.

    There was now a buzz in the great hall as everyone discussed who the likely line-up and order would be and who would win each of the duels. There was great speculation that Gwai Mo Ming’s supporters would suffer a crushing defeat because the Black Bat Assassin, Kiu Pin Fok was injured and thus could not fight. This weakened his leadership challenge somewhat.

    “Brother Gwai, myself, Sister Fung Lau Yin, and Chief Fung Lau Sit will fight along side you. We are the best fighters from the 7 Vixens clan. Who are the three elite fighters that you would chose to fight alongside you?”, Fung Mun Kit decided to ask to break the long silence. Gwai Mo Ming himself had thought long and hard about it. He had not been able to reach a decision in his mind just yet.

    He knew that they had indeed suffered a huge blow in losing the abilities of the Black Bat Assassin. What made matters worst was that he had been unable to locate the Black Dragon Assassin in Chongqing. This would have guaranteed him victory. Of the many elite 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins that are alive today he knew that the Black Scorpion, Black Widow, Black Bull, and the Black Bear Assassins were his best fighters now capable to assist him. But each of them were probably a level of ability below that of the ‘5 Storms’. So he was thinking about it very hard. They were in no way guaranteed of victory today.

    “The Black Scorpion, Black Widow, and the Black Bull Assassins will fight along side me! They are my best fighters!”, replied Gwai Mo Ming. There was some uncertainty in his voice. He had also overlooked the likes of the Black Eagle Assassin, and the Black Bear Assassin. Both are capable fighters as well.

    “No way! No way! I disagree!”, Kiu Pin Fok could be heard saying in a low voice as he laid on a stretcher on the marble floor.

    “Eh! Brother Kiu, what nonsense are you talking about? You’re not well! Just rest will you! Don’t stress yourself out by meddling in this matter!”, shouted Fung Lau Yin to the side.

    “Old hag! I’ve told you many times already that I don’t take any orders from anyone other than my Queen! I’m here so I may as well offer my opinion to my senior apprentice brother! Besides you have no right to deny me from putting forward my views! This is an internal matter for the 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins!”, protested Kiu Pin Fok, raising his voice. He and Fung Lau Yin had always spoken to each other in this way. To some of the observers they seemed like husband and wife, arguing over minor things, just to be heard.

    “Humph! Brother Kiu, are you always this irritating? I was just concerned about your injury! Okay do what you like! Who cares about you anyway! Don’t blame me if your injury gets any worse!”, snorted Fung Lau Yin turning her head away.

    “Senior apprentice brother Gwai, please ignore that old hag!”, smirked Kiu Pin Fok whilst coughing a little. He had disturbed his internal injuries by shouting and engaging in a verbal argument with Fung Lau Yin.

    “Why you!”, cursed Fung Lau Yin underneath her breath.

    “What is it 3rd junior apprentice brother? Do you think I have chosen my fighters unwisely?”, Gwai Mo Ming couldn’t help but ask. He was still uncertain as to whether he had chosen the right fighters to assist him in the battle. He was thus very keen to hear what Kiu Pin Fok had to say.

    “You’ve forgotten about another elite fighter who is amongst our ranks today! This person should be selected ahead of the Black Scorpion Assassin!”, replied Kiu Pin Fok.

    Gwai Mo Ming and the others were shocked upon hearing this. Everyone knew that the Black Scorpion Assassin was actually the 4th senior apprentice brother, so his skills were very good, and yet Kiu Pin Fok had preferred the Black Widow Assassin, Black Bull Assassin, and an unknown fighter ahead of him. Everyone was quietly curious.

    “Eh! 3rd senior apprentice brother, you must be joking! You’re always talking gibberish and nonsense! Maybe your serious injury has clouded your thinking! You would prefer someone else over me? Who’s this person?”, protested the Black Scorpion Assassin looking very annoyed.

    “Eh! 4th junior apprentice brother, I’m only concerned about your safety. Don’t think that I don’t know! You’re not 100% fit! You’re still recovering from the blow you took from Rain a few nights ago on the outskirts of Hennan!” replied Kiu Pin Fok in a very serious tone.

    “4th junior apprentice brother, is that true?”, asked Gwai Mo Ming in shock.

    The Black Scorpion Assassin was indeed one of his better fighters. Gwai Mo Ming could vaguely remember that the Black Scorpion Assassin had indeed suffered a blow in the battle a few nights ago, but thought that it was only a minor injury. The Black Scorpion Assassin remained silent and took a step backwards to remove himself from the conference. Everyone could guess that the Kiu Pin Fok had guessed correctly and that the Black Scorpion Assassin was not 100% fit to fight. They could not afford to carry an injured fighter in this series of life and death duels. So everyone acknowledge that Kiu Pin Fok was right in preventing the Black Scorpion Assassin from fighting.

    “Agreed! The Black Scorpion Assassin should not fight! But who’s this elite fighter you’re referring to? Speak up?”, asked Fung Mun Kit to the side.

    “The Little Prince…”, replied Kiu Pin Fok before stopping sort. Though he treated Yeung Yin Siu like a son, he realised that it was better for the people in wulin not to know that they were connected. Apart from Siu Wai, Fisherman Nam, and Fung Lau Yin, no one realised that Fisherman Ho was actually Yeung Yin Siu, the son of the Black Dragon Swordsman, Yeung Tin Lung.

    Pausing for a moment to think of the right words, Kiu Pin Fok continued, “I mean there’s an elite fighter amongst you called Ho Yin Siu! He’s capable of dealing with the lower skilled fighters of the 5 Storms! His abilities are probably just as good as mine by now!”.

    “Ho Yin Siu? You mean Fisherman Ho?”, remarked Gwai Mo Ming in shock. The people who stood around Gwai Mo Ming listening into the conference started to burst into loud laughter. The only ones who weren’t laughing were Yeung Yin Siu, Fung Lau Yin, Siu Wai, and Bak Tin Kiew.

    “You must be joking!”, shouted the Black Bear Assassin laughing hard to the side.

    “That stinky Fisherman Ho’s skills are just modest! He’ll only get killed”, shouted the Black Widow Assassin amongst the laughter.

    “Eh! Brother Kiu, you’re just talking a whole lot of gibberish and nonsense again! Just sit quietly and recover from your injuries. We’ll deal with the rest”, shouted the Black Bull Assassin.

    “That’s right! 3rd senior apprentice brother, this is no time to be joking around!”, shouted the Black Eagle Assassin. He was slightly annoyed at being over looked for the fight and now Kiu Pin Fok had just suggested that a stinky fisherman named Ho takes the final spot ahead of him. He was not impressed.

    “Who’s says I’m fooling around? I am being dead serious!”, rebuffed Kiu Pin Fok sounding very serious.

    “Old hag! Why don’t you help me on this one? You know full well what I know!”, continued Kiu Pin Fok was casting a glance at Fung Lau Yin.

    Fung Lau Yin shot a glance across at Yeung Yin Siu. One could tell that she was slightly unsure as to whether Yeung Yin Siu was capable of dealing with the elite fighters of the Demon Cult. Though Kiu Pin Fok always sounded wild and crazy, Fung Lau Yin, knew full well that he’s judgement was always accurate and on the mark.

    After a long while, Fung Lau Yin decided to enter into the discussion. She said, “Brother Gwai, I trust Brother Kiu’s judgement! I think Fisherman Ho possesses much greater abilities than many of the people here realise! Let him fight!”.

    Gwai Mo Ming looked very hesitant and remained deep in thought. He stared up and down at Yeung Yin Siu and did not see anything special. He did not back Kiu Pin Fok’s judgement so did not respond.

    “Brother Gwa! If I was not injured I would have fought alongside you! But having Fisherman Ho fight in my place is just like having me fight alongside you! Trust me on this one!”, urged Kiu Pin Fok in a serious tone whilst coughing wildly.

    Brother Gwai! I have faith in Brother Kiu’s judgement! Let Fisherman Ho fight!”, agreed Fung Lau Sit, the Chief of the 7 Vixens to the side. She only stepped forward after Siu Wai had tugged her by the sleeve and whispered something in her ear.

    “Since Chief Fung believes in Fisherman Ho’s abilities! I do too! We should let him fight!” agreed Fung Mun Kit whilst casting a glance at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Taking a step forward to join the conference, Yeung Yin Siu decided to say, “Chief Gwai! I will fight and do my best should you decide to chose me to fight alongside you! I promise that I will not let you down!”.

    Upon hearing that many of the elite fighters had faith in Fisherman Ho’s abilities, Gwai Mo Ming gave a little sigh before saying, “It’s settled then! Fisherman Ho will replace the Black Scorpion Assassin in our line-up!”.

    “Agreed but, in what order should we fight?”, Fung Lau Sit decided to ask. They knew how the Demon Cult would line-up and the order in which they would fight. So it was now time to match themselves against an opponent.

    “That’s simple! I’ll take on Lightning and the White Maiden will take on Thunder! We’re the two strongest fighters and will take on the Demon Cult’s two strongest fighters!”, replied Gwai Mo Ming.

    “Agreed! But who should fight first?”, asked the Black Widow Assassin. She was one of the weakest fighters out of the seven that had been selected. But she knew she was not a match for the Divinity Swordsmen, so did not want to fight first or second.

    “They’ve opened with two musicians! We’re being a little disadvantage here as we only have one musician in Chief Fung Lau Sit! Also the Divinity Swordsmen are actually two of the Demon Cult’s top five fighters, so they’re starting strong! I suggest that Chief Fung Lau Sit matches up against the 3 Fingered Demon Zither and I match up against the 7 Fingered Demon Flute!” replied Fung Lau Yin in a confident tone.

    “I agree with matching up against the 3 Fingered Demon Zither! But isn’t it dangerous for you to be matched up against the 7 Fingered Demon Flute? You do not have musical abilities and your inner energy levels aren’t as strong!”, replied Fung Lau Sit sounding a little concerned. She knew she was evenly matched with either of the Divinity Swordsmen, so did not care whether she would fight first or second. But she knew that Fung Lau Yin was not well versed in martial arts converted through music, so would be a little disadvantage as a result. Besides Fung Lau Yin was renowned for her lightness kung fu and not for her inner energy.

    “2nd junior Chief apprentice sister, don’t worry! I know I can beat the 7 Fingered Demon Flute! Trust me!”, replied Fung Lau Yin in a confident tone.

    “That’s settled! But I suggest that we next match the Black Widow Assassin with Wind! Wind relies on his swiftness and lightness kung fu! The Black Widow Assassin can set a trap for him, like a spider catching a fly!”, remarked Gwai Mo Ming whilst casting a glance at the Black Widow Assassin. He knew her strengths and weaknesses well.

    “Agreed!”, replied the other six elite fighters together.

    “But who should we match up against Cloud and Rain? We only have the Black Bull Assassin and Fisherman Ho left”, asked Gwai Mo Ming, seeking the advice of the other elite fighters.

    “I am the strongest so I’ll be in a better position to take on Cloud!”, said the Black Bull Assassin striding forward. One could see that he was a man in his late 40s. He was rather tall and very muscular around the chest and arms. He indeed looked very powerful.

    “I disagree! Fisherman Ho is quick and swift and should be able to defeat Cloud who is very slow! Though the Black Bull Assassin is strong, he is not quite as strong as Cloud!”, shouted Kiu Pin Fok whilst shaking his head.

    “That’s true! I’ve personally witness Cloud struggling in a battle against Fisherman Ho at the Golden Dragon Inn”, interrupted Siu Wai to the side.

    “Chief Gwai! I am confident against either Cloud or Rain! It’s up to you where best to place me!”, said Yeung Yin Siu in a very confident tone.

    Gwai Mo Ming still was not 100% confident in Yeung Yin Siu’s abilities so he decided to say, “Okay it’s decided then! Fisherman Ho will take on Cloud, and the Black Bull Assassin will take on the better fighter in Rain!”.

    “Agreed!”, replied the other six elite fighters together once more.

    Getting a little impatient, the Deputy Rule Elder decided to ask, “Clan Leader Gwai, have you decided on your line-up and the order in which they’ll be fighting?”.

    “Yes! I will be starting with Fung Lau Sit. Followed by Fung Lau Yin, Black Widow Assassin, Fisherman Ho, Black Bull Assassin, and Fung Mun Kit. I will be fighting last!”, replied Gwai Mo Ming.

    Upon hearing that Fisherman Ho was to fight against Cloud of the 5 Storms, the 3,000 or so members that had gathered in the great hall couldn’t help but laugh. The laughter echoed throughout the great hall and lasted for around 10 minutes. Tit Yum Ching was staring at Yeung Yin Siu in awe. Cloud wasn’t laughing either, as they had previously fought at the Golden Dragon Inn. Upon hearing that they were to battle again, he no longer underestimated Yeung Yin Siu’s abilities.

    “Okay! Everyone to the duelling arena! First match is between Fung Lau Sit and the 3 Fingered Demon Zither!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder as he walked down the steps to take a seat at the head of the duelling arena.

    Gwai Mo Ming and the others walked and took a seat to the right of the duelling arena. The six elite fighters chosen to fight alongside him stood behind him. Tit Yum Ching took a side to the left of the arena and her followers gathered behind her as well. The 3,000 or so other members approached the base of the duelling arena opposite to where the Deputy Rule Elder was sitting trying their best to get a good view. Some leapted up onto the parallel beams supporting the rounded marble pillars to get a better view.

    Just at this moment Fung Lau Sit and jumped into the duelling pit on the right hand side. One could see that she was a rather tall and slim lady who appeared to be in her mid 30s as well. There were three long streets of white hair amongst the thicket of silky black hair. A short purple dress was wrapped around her soft body and smooth curves. Her lips were blood red, but her face was thin and pale. Like all of the 7 Vixens she has quite an attractive face. She held a long sword resting in its purple sheath with the head of a red wolf carved at its hilt. She look determined and was well prepared for the duel.

    The 3 Fingered Demon Zither leapted down onto the left of the duelling pit shortly after. He held a small black zither in his left hand.

    “Here take this!”, said Yeung Yin Siu as he passed two small balls of black cloth over to Bak Tin Kiew.

    “What are these for?”, asked Bak Tin Kiew in some shock.

    “Use them to block your ears! They’re duelling sword arts and inner energy created through music! Your inner energy is not strong enough to withstand the sound waves generated by these two elite fighters. If you don’t protect yourself, you’ll suffer a serious injury!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu in a very serious tone. He wasn’t joking.

    Looking around the great hall, Bak Tin Kiew noticed that a number of the members in the great hall did the same thing and blocked their ears with two small balls of cloth. Most of the elite fighters stood or sat in a meditating position to channel their inner energy to repel the sound waves. So Bak Tin Kiew decided to block her ears with the two small rounded cloth balls also.

    “Fighters! Are you ready?”, asked the Deputy Rule Elder as he stood up to oversee the contest. He was holding his right hand in the air to indicate to both fighters that it was not yet time to duel.

    “Yes!”, replied the two fighters. As they bowed to each other in a display of respect for each other’s abilities.

    “Then let the first duel commence! Remember the winner gains victory by killing his opponent or forcing his opponent into a submission!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder as he dropped his right hand to indicate that it was time to fight.

    The art of kung fu through music is based on two forms on energy. The force created through the notes and the power in the sound waves of the music. The 3 Fingered Demon Zither immediately started with a very loud and rapid tune called the ‘demon’s rage’. It made one’s heart beat rapidly. One could see that he was stroking the strings at such a rapid rate that he appeared to have 12 rather than 3 fingers on each hand. The notes produced through this music were low pitched and thick, but moved at a rapid rate in a circular pattern as it attacked towards Fung Lau Sit. The duelling pit was 2.5 metres deep, but one could still feel the fierce vibrations from above as the notes moved from left to right of the arena.

    Fung Lau Sit countered with the ‘vampire’s screech’ that sent a chill up one’s back. The notes were very highly pitched and thin, but managed to move in a straight-line outwards from the source. The majority of them managed to penetrate through the heavy low pitch notes played by the 3 Fingered Demon Zither. Loud explosions could be heard and the duelling pit shook the floor violently when the opposing notes collided and cancelled each other. The soft sand in the duelling pit below rose into the air as a result of the explosions and covered the faces of some of those in the audience. Five loud shrieks could be heard as the bodies of five Demon Cult swordsman watching the duel suddenly exploded when the sound waves reached them. They had not blocked their ears and were thus blown up by the superb inner energy created by the two fighters.

    Some of the higher pitched notes continued to attack towards the 3 Fingered Demon Zither. He was forced to leap to the right to jump out of the way of the incoming series of notes. Another loud explosion was heard as bits of marble from the left end of the wall flew into the air. He countered with a tune called the ‘demon’s pulse’. He slowed his pace down somewhat and played a series of low-pitched notes that were very heavy and thick. They were moving at a very slow rate, but one could tell that they were very powerful. The sound of the music accompanying the notes were intended to disturb an opponent’s concentration and create fear in their hearts.

    Fung Lau Sit saw the slow but powerful notes approaching her, and decided to counter with the ‘hollow laugh’. This laugh produced a series of medium sized notes that moved at a rapid rate. Though these notes were only as half as powerful as the notes created through the ‘demon’s pulse’ they moved twice as fast. Another series of loud explosions could be heard as the two opposing notes collided with each other. The ‘hollow laugh’ filled one’s heart with sorrow so they would not fear death, but rather sought it. So this laugh countered the music of the ‘demon’s pulse’ very well. But the sound of the music being played by Fung Lau Sit had also intended to disturb an opponent’s concentration by creating deep sorrow in their hearts.

    The 3 Fingered Demon Zither did not see any notes coming towards him, but he was taken by surprise when teardrops started to flow from his eyes, upon hearing the sorrow in the music of the ‘hollow laugh’. He was now feeling a little depressed as he remembered how he had accidentally killed one of his sworn brothers in his younger days. Moments later he was overcome with grief and froze on the spot. He stopped playing his zither all of a sudden. Gritting his teeth together, the 3 Fingered Demon Zither closed his eyes and started to channel his inner energy. He managed to snap out of his state of depression in time to see a series of long thin notes flying towards him. He took immediate evasive action and managed to roll out of the way. Bits of marble broken from the wall upon being struck by the notes. Fung Lau Sit had taken advantage of his state of sorrow and had followed up with the ‘suicidal laugh’. Had the 3 Fingered Demon Zither not been able to break out of his trance he would have surely committed suicide. He broke out in cold sweat.

    “Excellent! You nearly had me!”, praised the 3 Fingered Demon Zither as he played another tune.

    He followed up with the tune of the ‘pain of broken hearts’. The notes being played were high pitched and thin. They flew through the air at a rapid rate. This was the first time he had used such notes during the duel and managed to catch Fung Lau Sit off guard. The sound of the music created a feeling of pain and anger often suffered by those with a broken heart. The music intends to distract an opponent’s level of concentration by bringing back memories of a broken heart.

    Fung Lau Sit had wanted to counter this tune with the ‘joyous laughter of true love’, which would fill her heart with content and thus counter the tune of broken heart. But to her surprise she could no longer laugh out loud. She froze on the spot and no notes flowed from her mouth to defend against the incoming attack. In her entire 62 years on the earth, she had never managed to find true love or her soul mate. She was still a single woman to this day. Though she has felt the bliss of love in sort bursts during her life, her heart has been broken all too often. She felt a sharp pain in her heart. Blood started to flow uncontrollably through her body as the ‘yang’ energy built up around the heart. It was an indication that the notes and the sound of music had struck her during her trance.

    Fung Lau Sit felt a sudden wave of uncontrollable rage and anger. She cried out, “Nooooooo!”.

    Moments later she coughed up a mouthful of blood and slumped onto the floor. She was shaking violently and it appeared that she would take her own life moments later. The 3 Fingered Demon Zither decided to change his tune upon seeing this sad sight. He played the tune of ‘live goes on’. The notes were thin and fast but carried no power. The sound of the music was rather mellow and cheerful. It was intended to lift an opponent’s spirit and mood.

    By now Fung Lau Sit had recovered a little. She still looked a little broken hearted and distraught. Tears were flowing freely from her face and she was still feeling a sharp pain in her heart. Turning her head slightly to face 3 Fingered Demon Zither. She said, “You could have taken my life just now! I thank you for showing me some mercy. I will repay your kind gesture when I have the opportunity. I cannot go on with this duel in my current state. I admit that I am defeated!”.

    Cupping his hands together the 3 Fingered Demon Zither decided to say, “I’ve always respected your abilities, so had never intended to take your life. You did not lose to me today! Instead you lost because you cannot let go of all the pain you’ve suffered in the past!”.

    Pausing for a little while for the right words to say, the 3 Fingered Demon Zither continued, “Heed my advice! Regardless of whatever pain you’ve experienced! Always give love another chance! If you don’t love with all your heart all of the time because for fear of being hurt, then you’ll only end up being hurt! If you end up being hurt by loving with all your heart, then those that you love are not worth it!”.

    Fung Lau Sit did not reply. She leapted to rejoin Gwai Mo Ming and the others on the right hand side of the arena. She was feeling slightly embarrassed at having lost in such a fashion. But no one could blame her for being unable to control her emotions. For a duel of music was exactly just that. A duel of various emotions. No one was speaking on Gwai Mo Ming’s side at the moment. They remained deep in thought and as they knew they had a lot of work ahead of them in order to come back into the contest.

    Moments later 3 Fingered Demon Zither leapted up to join Tit Yum Ching and the others on the left hand side of the arena. They were all congratulating him on his victory. Tit Yum Ching was just three victories away from being the Chancellor of the Demon Cult and a slight smile of delight appeared across her face.

    “First win to the Sacred Lady. She leads this series of duels 1 to 0! The next duel is between Fung Lau Yin and the 7 Fingered Demon Flute! May the two fighters now step forward!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder.

    “Auntie, be careful and good luck!”, shouted Yeung Yin Siu full of concern. Though he had always spoken cheekily to Fung Lau Yin and upset her all of the time, he deeply loved her like a mother. Fisherman Nam, Kiu Pin Fok, and Fung Lau Yin were the only family he knew. He felt uneasy for some reason despite knowing that Fung Lau Yin’s abilities were extremely advanced and would unlikely lose.

    Fung Lau Yin did not reply, but a slight smile flashed across her face. She leapted down onto the duelling pit and waited for her opponent. She knew that she was in a position of disadvantage as she was not used to fighting against someone with musical abilities. But she knew her own strengths well. She was extremely quick and was renowned for her 13 Phantom Venom needles. A thought crossed her mind as she held both of her twin blades as if they were one in her right hand in an attacking position. She reached into her pockets with her left hand.

    The 7 Fingered Demon Flute finally leapted down into the duelling pit. He carried a very long black jade flute in his left hand. One could see that this flute was three times as long and had twice as much holes as a normal flute. In indication that his musical abilities were based on fast low pitched notes.

    “Let the second duel commence!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder from above upon seeing that the two fighters had been ready to engage in battle.

    “Are you ready yet?”, asked Fung Lau Yin upon seeing that the 7 Fingered Demon Flute had already placed his long black jade flute against his lips and was ready to play a tune. Fung Lau Yin knew this was an untenable position that would lead to her ultimate defeat, so had tried to distract him.

    Lowering his long black jade flute to the side of his right foot, the 7 Fingered Demon Flute said, “What?”.

    “Nothing!”, smiled Fung Lau Yin upon seeing that her little trick worked like magic and now she had gained the advantage.

    The 7 Fingered Demon Flute was just about to place his black jade flute against his lips when he heard three swishing sounds through the air. He looked up and saw three shiny metal objects flying at him at a rapid rate. They were attacking towards his mouth, and eyes. He had now choice but to duck out of the way that he could not play a tune with his black jade flute. Three loud ‘cling’ sounds could be heard as the three needles struck against the wall. A red blur could suddenly be seen racing from right to left. The 7 Fingered Demon Flute was just about to place the long black jade flute against his lips when he looked up and saw that a pair of twin blades was striking down on his head. He raised the flute upwards to defend the blow, before rolling forward to create some distance between himself and his opponent. He then executed three continuous back flips towards the left side of the arena. He had now travelled some distance away from Fung Lau Yin.

    He was just about to place his flute against his lips to play a tune when he heard another three swishing sounds flying through the air attacking towards his mouth and eyes a second time. He had no choice but to extend his arms forward and rotated his flute to deflected the 3 incoming needles. Another 3 ‘cling’ sounds could be heard as the needles struck the flute before hitting the floor. He was just about to retract his black jade flute towards his lips to place a tune when he saw that a red blur had already rushed up towards him and now stood just three paces away. A pair of twin blades were now attacking towards his stomach. He had no choice but to lower his bamboo flute to block the blow, before twisting away to the side to create some distance between himself and his opponent. He executed another three black flips moments later to create further distance from his opponent.

    This deadlock lasted for another 30 moves. Fung Lau Yin knew that she could not allow the 7 Fingered Demon Flute to play his long black jade flute. She also knew she had the superior sword skills and preferred a close in battle. The 7 Fingered Demon Flute knew what Fung Lau Yin was trying to do so was trying to create some distance to be able to utilise his top kung fu. He was now forced into defending rapidly whilst trying at all times to unleash his black jade flute.

    At this moment Fung Lau Yin launched a strike with her twin blades towards 7 Fingered Demon Flute’s neck. He ducked the attack whilst rolling forward. He then did another three summersaults to distance himself from Fung Lau Yin once more. Fung Lau Yin reached into her pockets and realised that she had only 4 needles left. She immediately threw three of the forward attacking the mouth, and eyes of 7 Fingered Demon Flute at rapid rate. She turned the last needle and threw it towards the 7 Fingered Demon Flute with the point of the needle facing her. She aimed for the left side of 7 Fingered Demon Flute’s body before utilising her lightness kung fu. She attacked with her twin blades towards the right side of the 7 Fingered Demon Flute’s body.

    Three loud ‘cling’ sounds could be heard as the three 13 Phantom Venom needles struck the wall when the 7 Fingered Demon Flute ducked out of the way of the attack. Seeing the twin blades attacking towards his right stomach region, the 7 Fingered Demon Finger flute stood up and blocked the blow with his long black jade flute.

    “Ah Ya!”, the 7 Fingered Demon Flute could suddenly be heard crying in pain as he reached around to the left side of his stomach.

    He pulled out a long 13 Phantom Venom needle that had just struck him before rolling uncontrollably on the ground in pain. It was now apparent that Fung Lau Yin had deliberately launched her fourth and last needle so that it would rebound upon striking against the wall and attack the 7 Fingered Demon Flute from behind. This caught the 7 Fingered Demon Flute off guard as he was concentrating on defending the blow launched at his right stomach.

    Fung Lau Yin now walked forward and stood over the 7 Fingered Demon Flute with a smile. She placed one of her twin blades against his adam’s apple pressure point before saying, “Do you want to admit defeat? Or do you want to die?”.

    The 7 Fingered Demon Flute was still laying on the ground. He hit the ground with his right fist as he had not been content in losing in such a fashion. He cursed underneath his breath for a while before saying, “Dam witch! Okay I admit that I am defeated! Where’s the antidote?”.

    “Here! Take this!”, said Fung Lau Yin as she flicked a brown pill with her middle finger at the 7 Fingered Demon Flute. She then leapted up to join Gwai Mo Ming and the others.

    “Thanks!”, replied the 7 Fingered Demon Flute as he took the pill into his hands and swallowed it. He then leapted up to join Tit Yum Ching and the others sitting on the side. He looked very disappointed at being beaten by Fung Lau Yin, particularly when he knew that he had the advantage.

    “The second duel has been won by Clan Leader Gwai. The series of duels is now tied at 1-1! The next duel is between the Black Widow Assassin and the Wind! Best of luck to both sides. May the two fighters now step forward!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder once more.

    The Black Widow Assassin was the first to leap down to the duelling pit. One could see that she was an old lady in her early 50s. He hair had gone all white and she was a little hunched in the back. She carried a black dust pen in her right hand and a roll of material in her left. Her face carried the expression of someone who was not at ease. She was slightly nervous at the prospect of facing Wind in a life and death duel, knowing that she would not have had to fight had the Black Bat Assassin, and the Black Scorpio Assassin been fit.

    Wind leapt down to the duelling arena shortly afterwards. He carried a white paper fan in his right hand. His face carried with it a very confident expression.

    “Let the 3rd duel commence!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder.

    “About time!”, shouted Wind as he launched forward opening up his fan and looked to slice the Black Widow Assassin’s head off from the shoulders.

    The Black Widow Assassin threw forward a black widow needle aimed for Wind’s head. He was forced to duck, evade and pull back his strike. Closing his fan he striked towards the Black Widow Assassin’s left thigh. Using her dust pen the Black Widow Assassin blocked the blow before counter attacking with the roll of material in her left hand. The roll of material flung forward and attempted to trap Wind within its grasp like a fly in a web. Wind zipped left and the right to evade the attack. Kicking his foot against the wall Wind flung forward again in a horizontal flying position and attacked towards the Black Bat Assassin’s mid stomach region. The audience above could feel a fierce gust of wind charging pass and Wind launched this attack.

    “Ouch!”, cried the Black Widow Assassin as she was caught off guard and received a slash to the mid stomach region. Blood began flowing from her wounds.

    Seeing that Wind had darted back again at amazing speed, the Black Widow Assassin, reached into her pockets and threw five black widow needles at Wind to buy her some breathing space. She knew that Wind’s abilities were a level above hers and she would have to outwit him in order to win. Wind pushed forward a palm in an attempt to suspend the five needles in mid-air. He was shocked to see that the needles continued flying towards him. Even though they flew at a slower rate, he knew the poison contained in the needles was still deadly. He had no choice but to abort his attacks, before darting right and left to avoid the needles. Five ‘cling’ sounds could be heard as the needles struck into the wall. The Black Widow Assassin then countered by launching her roll of material towards Wind in attempt to capture him. Wind darted back and avoided the blow. She followed by launching another 5 black widow needles and then the roll of material towards the anticipated the position that Wind would be in upon evading the attacks. She had used the same tactics that Fung Lau Yin had used against the 7 Fingered Demon Flute. 30 moves were exchanged and there was still a deadlock between the Black Widow Assassin and Wind.

    By now Wind was getting slightly annoyed. He was close to being captured a couple of times by the roll of black material after evading from the black widow needles launched at him. The tactics being used by the Black Widow Assassin did not allow him to counter attack as he needed to remain some distance away to avoid the projectiles being launched at him. He suddenly thought of another idea. Every time the roll of black material was launched at him he would open up his fan to slice a portion of it away. That way the Black Widow Assassin could no longer use the roll of material as a weapon. Wind figured that the Black Widow Assassin would run out of projectiles sooner or later. But how could he have guessed that the Black Widow Assassin was running around and had been picking up the needles from the floor and had been recycling them. Her roll of material was extremely long also. It contained about 800 metres of material. Another 30 moves had passed and there was still a deadlock between the two fighters. Both of them were now getting a little tired.

    By now Wind was really frustrated. He decided to gamble upon seeing the roll of material had been launched towards him again. He raised both of his hands in the air so that they wouldn’t be trapped in the roll of material. The roll of material wrapped around his body and he was now being pulled back towards the Black Widow Assassin who had ceased launching projectiles upon seeing that she had captured Wind. The Black Widow Assassin raised her dust pen to launch an attack towards Wind’s left shoulder. She began to pull Wind rapidly towards her.

    “Surely he’s defeated!”, the Black Widow Assassin thought to herself.

    “Ah Ya!”, cried the Black Widow Assassin moments later as she suffered a heavy blow to the point of her left shoulder.

    Wind had struck her with two fingers pointed forward from his left hand. He used his white paper fan to block the blow launched at his left shoulder. The Black Widow Assassin felt her left arm going numb from the shoulders and she dropped the roll of black material. Her pressure points had been sealed in that region. Before she even had an opportunity to recover, Wind had charged at her again like a fierce gust of win.

    “Ah Ya!”, cried the Black Widow Assassin as she was struck again on the right shoulder with a closed white paper fan.

    The Black Widow Assassin felt her right arm going numb at the shoulders and she dropped her dust pen. She did not have the ability to move either of her arms at all. She gasped in horror upon this realisation as Wind charged fiercely at her again. He had opened up his fan and was slashing towards her neck. She wanted to shout out that she had admitted defeat, but she did not make a sound. It was then she realised that Wind had sealed her the pressure point to the side of her adam’s apple to prevent her from talking.

    A soft ‘thud’ sound was heard moments later, followed by another soft ‘thud’ sound as head and then body hit the ground. Wind had just mercilessly slained the Black Widow Assassin. He was laughing to himself and was basking in the glory of his triumph. His face and white robes had been stained with death, but he did not care. He leapted back up to join Tit Yum Ching and the others shortly after. He received warm congratulations from the rest of the 5 Storms, but Tit Yum Ching shot an un-approving look at him. Two Demon Cult members leapted into the duelling pit to remove the deceased body of the Black Widow Assassin from the arena.

    Bak Tin Kiew nearly passed out upon seeing the brutal way in which the Black Widow Assassin had been murdered. It was actually the first time that she had seen someone die in such a horrid fashion. The rest of Gwai Mo Ming’s group were also stunned by the sudden turn of events. The 13 Ghost Mountain Assassins were sadden by the death of another one of their elite fighters that many of them bowed to show their respects. There was a long silence in the great hall.

    “The third duel has been won by the Sacred Lady. She now leads the series of duels 2-1! The next duel is between Fisherman Ho and Cloud! May the two fighters now step forward!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder the to break the silence.

    Cloud was the first one to leap into the duelling pit. He had long waited for this match since he was embarrassed at the Golden Dragon Inn.

    Yeung Yin Siu was about to leap into the pit when he realised that there was a hand gripping tightly onto his right hand and did not let go of it.

    “Don’t go! I’m afraid!”, cried Bak Tin Kiew whilst clutching tightly onto Yeung Yin Siu’s hands. She had just witnessed someone dying in the duelling pit and thus afraid that Yeung Yin Siu would meet the same fate. She had an uneasy feeling in he heart.

    “Don’t worry! I’ll be okay! Trust me!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a grin on his face.

    “Don’t go!”, repeated Bak Tin Kiew. Her voice was full of concern and she maintained a tight grip on Yeung Yin Siu’s right hand.

    Seeing that a young girl had tried to prevent Yeung Yin Siu from entering the duelling pit, Fung Lau Yin smiled. She approached Bak Tin Kiew before saying, “Little girl! Don’t worry! I won’t let anyone harm him! He’ll be quite safe!”.

    Seeing the expression on Bak Tin Kiew’s face, Fung Mun Kit added, “Eh! Little apprentice! Let him go! It’s not appropriate for a young lady to be behaving this way in public!”.

    “Let him go! What are you doing? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”, protested Siu Wai standing to the side. She was quite annoyed upon seeing that Bak Tin Kiew was clutching tightly onto Yeung Yin Siu.

    Bak Tin Kiew finally let go of Yeung Yin Siu’s hands upon hearing the word ‘shame’. She now snapped out of her trance as blood rushed up to her head and turned her face from snow white to red. She was slightly embarrassed as she did not know what had overcame her.

    “Fisherman Ho! Are you going to fight or not? Or are you just a coward?”, shouted Cloud from below. He was getting very impatient.

    “I’ll be okay! Trust me!”, said Yeung Yin Siu once more as he winked at Bak Tin Kiew.

    Turning his attention to Cloud. He said, “3 year old kids need to be patient. Your uncle is now coming to teach you a lesson!”.

    Placing a hand on Yeung Yin Siu’s right shoulder, Gwai Mo Ming said, “Fisherman Ho! We need this victory! You must do everything in your power to get it! Understand?”.

    Yeung Yin Siu nodded his head to indicate that he understood before leaping into the duelling pit. He was carrying a long fishing rod in his right hand as a weapon. That was all he had intended to use against Cloud. Though he looked confident on the outside, he was a little nervous inside upon seeing the blood stained floor from where he stood.

    “Eh! Fisherman Ho! Your rod may not be enough to defend against Cloud! Take these!”, shouted Fung Lau Yin as she threw her twin blades down to Yeung Yin Siu.

    Yeung Yin Siu reached out his hands and caught the pair of twin blades. He stuck then side by side into the ground in front of his feet in case he needed them. He knew that Cloud was a very tough opponent and that he could not afford to mess around today. Though he had made Cloud look like a fool a few nights ago, that was partly through Cloud’s own arrogance rather than his own abilities. He knew that he had a fight on his hands.

    “Both fighters are ready! Let the fourth duel commence!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder from above.

    Cloud charged forward with a head of steam. He smashed down towards Yeung Yin Siu with the heavy club in his right hand. Yeung Yin Siu rolled forward along the ground towards his left to avoid the attack. Bits of dust flew into the air as club contacted the ground before creating a small crater in the floor. Cloud had anticipated that Yeung Yin Siu would try to strike against his right leg whilst he was rolling along the ground and lowered his left club over to block the strike. A loud ‘clang’ sound was heard as the fishing struck the club. Yeung Yin Siu was then sent flying into the air and collided against the side of the wall facing the great hall. He had just been struck by Cloud’s awesome inner energy that travelled down the club before proceeding up his fishing rod. He did not have the inner energy to withstand the blow and was thus flung hard against the wall.

    Yeung Yin Siu picked himself up after coughing up a mouthful of blood. It was only a minor injury though. He thought to himself, “So Cloud is channelling his inner energy through his clubs with every move knowing that my inner energy level is not advanced as his”.

    “Excellent move! Excellent move! Very useful for ploughing the fields! You should become a farmer!”, jested Yeung Yin Siu upon seeing the small crater in the ground created by Cloud’s heavy club.

    “Why you little bastard! I’m going to kill you!” cursed Cloud as he launched forward with both his clubs pointed away from him to strike the mid-chest region of Yeung Yin Siu’s body.

    Yeung Yin Siu saw the attack coming. He quickly thought of an idea. He jumped onto the clubs landing feet first and was subsequently sent flying vertically into the air. He almost reached the roof of the great hall, which was 100 metres high. Such was the great force of Cloud. Having reached a peak in his vertical flight, Yeung Yin Siu was soon descending towards the ground at rapid pace again. He flipped his body so that he was facing the ground, before launching an attack towards Cloud’s head. Cloud raised both his clubs above his head to block the blow. At this moment Yeung Yin Siu had flung his fishing rod forward to attack towards the right side of Cloud’s neck.

    Cloud was shocked upon hearing a swooshing sound through the air. He turned and looked up in time to see the fishing rod had been launched towards the right side of his neck. He rolled forward but the fishing rod kept pursuing him. Cloud rolled forward once more and finally the fishing rod seemed to have run out of chi energy. The fishing rod then rotated horizontally before zipping back to Yeung Yin Siu who had just landed.

    “Where have I seen this move before?”, Rain thought to himself as he stood to the side. He had recalled duelling against someone who used a similar move in Kaifeng before.

    “Excellent move!”, praised Kiu Pin Fok leaning over to closely observe the duel.

    “What remarkable skills!”, Tit Yum Ching couldn’t help think inwardly.

    “Little bastard! You almost caught me by surprise! You won’t be so lucky from now on”, cursed Cloud as he charged forward again.

    He smashed a club down on Yeung Yin Siu. He twisted to the side and avoided the blow. Bits of dust flew through the air again from the impact. Moments later another club was smashing down towards Yeung Yin Siu. He twisted once more and avoided the attack. There were now three small craters in the ground. The lightness kung fu being utilised by Yeung Yin Siu looked strangely familiar to the audience. But it appeared to be a crossbreed between that of a blur and a shadow. Yeung Yin Siu looked more like a slippery fish gliding through water. But he was rather quick. Another 40 passed like this, with Cloud swinging hard hoping to crush his opponent into little bits and pieces. Yeung Yin Siu on the other hand was twisting to avoid the blows, and would now and again use Cloud’s power to his advantage to launch a counter attack in the air.

    Cloud was now panting and breathing very heavily. A sign that he had burnt up a lot of his inner energy in the last series of attacks. Sweat was pouring freely from his forehead. Yeung Yin Siu still looked very fresh. Seeing that Cloud had tired, Yeung Yin Siu, started to back his own abilities. He launched a strike towards Cloud’s mid-chest region with his long fishing rod. Cloud swung his right club hard upon seeing the attack. Another loud ‘clang’ echoed through the air as the club and fishing rod collided. The fishing rod in Yeung Yin Siu’s hands suddenly exploded and splintered into many pieces. Yeung Yin Siu felt a sight numb in his right hand and was flung back several paces before colliding against the wall. He coughed up another mouthful of blood upon impact. But his injury was not serious.

    “Fisherman Ho! Be careful!”, shouted Bak Tin Kiew, Siu Wai, and Tit Yum Ching almost simultaneously.

    Bak Tin Kiew and Siu Wai glanced at each other moments later. The 5 Storms of the Demon Cult gave Tit Yum Ching a glare upon hearing that she had expressed concern for an opponent.

    “Dam, he’s strong!”, Yeung Yin Siu thought to himself. He did not want to be flung against the wall a third time so he worked on another tactic.

    Cloud charged at Yeung Yin Siu once more smashing down with the club in his right hand and then sweeping high with the club in his left. Yeung Yin Siu did a summersault and avoided the strike. He rolled towards the pair of twin blades that he had stabbed into the ground earlier. Taking them into his hands he zipped the first twin blade in the air to towards Cloud’s left stomach region. He used a stance called the ‘slippery fish’ with this stance. It was one of Fisherman Nam’s arts. He then launched the second blade in the air attacking Cloud’s right neck once more. This was the ‘flying bat’ stance from Kiu Pin Fok’s arts.

    Cloud looked a little terrified upon seeing that both of the swords bad been launched at him through the air. Cloud blocked the left blade with his left club and sent it flying towards the wall at the front of the hall with great speed. But to his surprise the blade rebounded off the wall and attacked once more towards the left side of his back. He rolled forward to avoid the sword attacking the right side of his neck and the other sword that had rebounded off the wall to attack his back. The skills being utilised by Yeung Yin Siu were a combination of Kiu Pin Fok’s, Fisherman Nam’s, and Fung Lau Yin’s kung fu. Thus it was very unique and hard to recognise particularly when wielded through a sword. But they were quite deadly.

    A loud ‘cling’ sound echoed through the air as the sword rebounded off the wall a second time and attacked again towards Cloud’s right stomach region. The sword attacking towards the right side of the neck rotated and followed the direction in which Cloud had rolled and attacked him again. Cloud broke out in cold sweat. He swung both of his clubs hard and blindly at the two blades attacking the right side of the body. Two very loud ‘cling’ sounds exploded through the air as Cloud had somehow managed to luckily divert the two swords back towards Yeung Yin Siu.

    Not expecting that both swords would be diverted back at him, Yeung Yin Siu, stood frozen on the spot. He managed to just duck his head out of the way of the sword that had attacked towards his head. Two long strands of his black hair fell on the floor to indicate that he had just narrowly missed death. A loud ‘clang’ sound echoed through the air as the sword struck into the marble wall moments later.

    “Ah Ya!”, cried Yeung Yin Siu not long after as the second blade penetrated through his right stomach region.

    Yeung Yin Siu was then flung back several paces and collided into the wall. He coughed up a mouthful of blood for the third time and then slumped to the ground in great pain. He had now suffered a serious injury and was about to pass out from the pain. But he remembered that Gwai Mo Ming badly needed this victory so he gritted his teeth. He struggled to get up but only slumped back down onto the ground again.

    “Oh no!”, Bak Tin Kiew thought to herself. She was now greatly worried upon seeing that a blade had penetrated through Yeung Yin Siu’s body.

    Gathering up enough courage Yeung Yin Siu pulled the blade from the right stomach region of his body and held it in his hands. Blood started to spurt out freely from his wounds. He felt a sharp unbearable pain and let out a loud and terrifying cry that echoed through the great halls of the Demon Cult. He almost passed out from the pain a second time but gritted his teeth again. He was now sitting in a crouched position on the floor. Suddenly something caught his eye, and he could still manage a slight grin across his face.

    Seeing that he had injured Yeung Yin Siu by sheer luck, Cloud stood up and laughed out loud. He said, “Ha! Ha! Fisherman Ho do you admit defeat yet? Or do you wish to die?”.

    “Ha! Ha! I’ll only admit defeat if the little 3 year old kid kneels down and calls me father 100 times!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu in a weak voice whilst laughing and coughing at the same time. He knew that his comments would anger Cloud.

    “Why you little bastard! Prepare to die then!”, cursed Cloud.

    As expected Cloud rushed forward and stood over Yeung Yin Siu. He smashed down hard with the club in his right hand. Yeung Yin Siu used his last ounce of energy to roll away from the attack. Suddenly a swishing sound could be heard through the air behind Cloud's back. Something else had happened when the heavy club contacted the ground. Two shiny objects flew up along with the dirt that had been disturbed on the ground.

    “Ah Ya!”, cried Cloud as he was hit squarely in the back with a 13 Phantom Venom needle.

    Cloud looked down and noticed that another two 13 Phantom Venom needle had struck him. One on the right and the other on the left leg. That cause him to fall onto his knees in a kneeling position. Cloud’s face suddenly turned red in fury having been embarrassed a second time. Moments later he felt a burning sensation in his body. A sign that the 13 Phantom Venom poison had started to flow through his blood stream. He cried out in pain. But he couldn’t get up either as the needles had sealed the pressure points to both his legs.

    Yeung Yin Siu struggled to stand up at this moment. He carried the twin blade that had previously stabbed through his right stomach and stumbled towards Cloud who was still kneeling on the ground. He placed a hand to clutch his right stomach region to try and stop the blood from flowing freely from his wounds. But it did not work and he continued to feel a sharp pain.

    Placing the blade across Cloud’s neck Yeung Yin Siu asked in a weak voice, “Do you admit defeat? Or would you rather die at my hands?”.

    “It’s not fair! You ambushed me with a 13 Phantom Venom needle and did not use your own kung fu! I won’t admit defeat!”, protested Cloud. He was not content at having been beaten.

    “Deputy Rule Elder! Is there any rule preventing me from picking a up a weapon that is on the ground in the duelling pit and using it to my advantage?”, Yeung Yin Siu decided to ask whilst pressing the blade against Cloud’s neck. He was in great pain now and knew he would pass out at any moment so wished that Cloud would just admit defeat.

    “The rules state that both fighters may use whatever weapon they find in the duelling pit. That includes the bits of loose marble broken off from the wall! There was nothing unfair about the way you had used the 13 Phantom Venom needles that you found on the floor!”, replied the Deputy Rule Elder.

    But how could the Deputy Rule Elder and the others know that Yeung Yin Siu had in fact used his own 13 Phantom Venom needles, and did not pick them off the ground. Fresh needles are required in order to poison an opponent. For some reason the 13 Phantom Venom reacts to the dirt and has a very short life span upon hitting the ground. But only he and Fung Lau Yin Knew this little secret.

    “Are you content now? For the last time! Do you admit defeat or will you force me to kill you?”, asked Yeung Yin Siu once more in a low voice. Blood was rapidly gushing from his stomach and he started to feel cold. Those in the audience noticed that his face had turned pale. They could tell he was going to faint any moment now. It was lucky that he had his back turned to the 5 Storms. Otherwise they would have surely called out to Cloud not to surrender.

    Upon hearing no response from Cloud, Yeung Yin Siu continued, “Okay! You’ve left me with no other choice!”.

    He pressed the blade hard against Cloud’s neck and started to softly drag it from left to right. Cloud felt a sharp pain in his neck and felt a little itchy as blood started to drip down to the collar of his sleeve. He suddenly realise that his life was indeed in great danger and that he was actually going to be killed if he did not respond.

    “Stop! Stop! I admit defeat!”, shouted Cloud in some urgency.

    Yeung Yin Siu dropped the blade upon hearing Cloud’s admission of defeat.

    Rain and Thunder leapted into the duelling pit to unseal Cloud’s pressure points. Turning to Fung Lau Yin. They said, “Where’s the antidote?”.

    “Here!”, shouted Fung Lau Yin as she flicked a brown pill into Thunder’s hands with her middle finger. She leapted into the pit not long after to retrieve her twin blades. She stood over Yeung Yin Siu with a very concerned look on her face.

    “The fourth duel has been won by Clan Leader Gwai. The series of duels is now tied for a second time at 2-2! The next duel is between the Black Bull Assassin and Rain! Please clear the injured fighters from the duelling pit so that we may commence!”, shouted the Deputy Rule Elder once more. He did not appear to be at all concerned about Yeung Yin Siu’s injury.

    Moments later Yeung Yin Siu started feeling very dizzy. He stared at the roof of the great hall and could see that it was spinning in circles. It was as if the world was suddenly spinning around him. He could vaguely hear that some people shouting and others crying. He felt the sharp pain in his right stomach region building. He was about to fall into a deep sleep when he felt tiny little teardrops dripping onto his face. He looked up and saw a pretty rounded face staring back at him. It was the face of Bak Tin Kiew. He looked up at the roof of the great hall again and it was still spinning around. But it was going faster and faster. Suddenly it seemed as if everything in the world had turned a reddish colour. Moments later all he could see in font of him was a sea of red. He closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

    Frantic cries of, “Fisherman Ho! Fisherman Ho!”, could be hear echoing through the great halls of the Demon Cult moments later.

    End of Chapter 9.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  16. #36
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    Ah, a cliffhanger ending. The victory by a narrow margin surprised me. I was expecting for our hero to be the tie breaker but I guess we're still in the build up phase of the epic.
    HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
    You: I survive somehow
    HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?

    -KotOR

  17. #37
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    please update soon, i like how you made your chapter really long.
    the longer it is ,the more i get to read. your story is super cool update soon.
    ~:.i love fanfics.:~:~:.smile.:~

  18. #38
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    Default Chapter 10: Suspended in Darkness

    Chapter 10: Suspended in Darkness

    The sun was shining brightly above. From a distance one could see that the sunlight was actually bright white and the sky was as red as blood. The land was baron and stretched out far and as wide as the eye can see. Nothing but the grains of sand and large rocks covers the earth. Black scorpions, black widows, black centipedes and black ants crawl along the sand. Judging by the landscape it appeared as if it was the desert on the central plains of China. One can see that there is a tall mountain, it all its splendour and magnificence, in the distance. Its peak was high and appeared to touch the white sun. The temperature at ground level was over 60 degrees Celsius. The heat was unbearable as the harsh sun shone from above. One could see a small blue lagoon in the distance with crystal clear water. It looked very cool and refreshing. There were two coconut trees by the side of its bank providing much needed shade to the lagoon below. For a weary traveller, the scene was quite enticing indeed.

    One closer inspection one could see that there were two lovely naked ladies swimming around in the water. They both had rounded pretty faces. Both girls were rather slim but had soft and elegant curves. It appeared as if they were both 20 years of age. At the moment the two girls were laughing and joking amongst themselves.

    “Water! I need water!”, shouted a handsome young man in black robes as he crawled along in the sand with an arm out stretched. He was almost begging with his last breath. His voice was so low and weak that it appeared that the two girls in the lagoon did not appear to hear his cries. They both went about their business of swimming, laughing and joking.

    “Water! Please I need some water!”, cried the young man in black robes again in a loud voice. The two girls appeared to have heard his cries for help this time as they turned their faces and glance at him. They chatted quietly for a while amongst themselves. They could be heard giggling childishly to each shortly afterwards, as if they had suddenly found pleasure in the handsome young man in black’s misery.

    Still giggling and laughing one of the girls finally decided to reply, “You may have as much water as you wish! You’re a handsome and strong young man! Surely you can come here and get some water for yourself!”.

    “We haven’t had a man for an eternity now! So just hurry up! No water without a kiss however!”, mocked the other girl as she stood up to show her naked body.

    The handsome young man in black turned his head away. He did not want to look at the naked young lady. He thought to himself, “How did I get here? What on earth is going on?”.

    “Well? Come on! We’re waiting! There’s no need to be tense. All we want is a kiss us and you’ll have all the water you need!”, teased the young lady in the lagoon once more.

    But the young man in black could feel that his body ached all over in pain. His skin appeared to have been scorched and burnt by the white sun. Dried skin had already started to peel from his chest, back, arms and legs. The black flies were feasting on his live flesh and picking on the unhealed sores as he was crawling. His lips and mouth were dry. He looked in a very horrid state and found it very difficult to move in any direction. It was as if he had suddenly been nailed to the floor, and moving an inch would bring him great pain and suffering. All he wanted was a drink of water to quench his thirst. Sweat began to pour freely from his forehead and face.

    The young man in black decided to wipe his forehead with his right sleeve. Suddenly he could be seen leaping up in fright, as his black sleeve was now filled with red blood. Taking a close look at the sand in the ground he noticed that the sweat dripping from his forehead had matched the colour of the sand. It appeared as if the entire dessert floor had been stained with his red blood. He felt the scorching sun above and felt a burning sensation in his heart once more.

    “Where I am? What is this place?”, he thought inwardly. Upon looking up he noticed that the lagoon had now disappeared into the distance. The distance to the blue lagoon was now greater than it had been before.

    “Dam it!”, cursed the handsome young man in black robes cursed underneath his breath.

    The young man in black estimated that it was now a two-hour walk to the lagoon and immediately crawled again in the direction towards it to fetch some water to ease his thirst and pain. Over two hours had passed before he reached the bank of the blue lagoon for what appeared to be his second time. Whether he had been there more than twice, he could not say for sure. But there was definitely something familiar about the blue lagoon he had just approached. There were two young girls bathing and swimming in the crystal clear water underneath the shade of two-coconut tress.

    “Water! I need some water!”, he cried once more with a hand out stretched. The two naked girls in the lagoon only teased and mocked him again.

    “Come here! We’re so lonely! We need a man! No water without a kiss!”, they cried in a sexy voice. They fixed their gaze on the handsome young man in black robes with sexual passion in their eyes.

    “Hurry up! We’re both very horny! We want it!”, they teased again as they stood up to reveal their naked body.

    The handsome young man turned his head away again, not daring to look at the bodies of the two naked ladies in front of him. Upon turning around he noticed that the small blue lagoon had now disappeared a great distance ahead. He estimated that it was now a four-hour walk away from the blue lagoon. Be could feel that nearly all of his skin from his legs, knees, and arms had peeled away from his body as he crawled. A swarm of flies had now covered his body to feast on his flesh. He was now in greater pain than before. He desperately needed some water to quench his thirst. So he started to crawl towards the small lagoon once more. He reached it in over four hours time.

    “Water! I need some water!”, he cried out again with a hand out stretched.

    He had actually crawled closer to the bank of the small lagoon this time, but it still managed to somehow appear to be just out of his reach. The two naked ladies in the lagoon, teased and mocked him again. They appeared to find happiness and great joy through his suffering.

    “Eh! Just one kiss and you’ll have all the water you need! Why don’t you come over? What are you afraid of?”, asked one of the naked girls in a teasing voice.

    “Water! I need some water! Please pass some water to me! I am dying!”, cried the handsome young man in vain once more.

    “We can’t pass you any water without a kiss! You’ll have to come in and get it yourself! Don’t worry! We won’t harm you! Come on. Just one kiss!”, replied the other girl whilst reaching out a hand.

    The handsome young man in black could no longer resist his urge to quench his thirst. He made up his mind that he would now drink from the blue lagoon. Upon going through this chain of thought he noticed that he could slightly move his body forward towards the lagoon. He reached out his hand to grab the hand of the naked young lady. He was almost there and had nearly reached his goal. He could reach out and taste the water in his mind.

    “Here! Touch this”, said the young naked lady as she guided the hand of handsome young man in black towards her chest.

    “No! I can’t!”, said the handsome young man as he frantically pulled his hand back and closed his eyes at the same time. For some reason, at the last minute, he had changed his mind and decided that he would not drink the water from the blue lagoon.

    The young man in black was shocked upon opening his eyes again. He could now see that the blue lagoon had moved a great distance ahead. The blue lagoon had now virtually disappeared from visible sight. It was now a tiny speck of blue amongst the baron red lands that stretched for miles and miles. He estimated by looking at the blue speck, that the lagoon was now some 16 hours walk away from where he stood.

    “Dam it! Not again! Why am I being punished?”, cursed the young man out loud. He was met with a lonely silence. No one responded to his pleas.

    He suddenly felt defeated. A wave of depression overcame him as he stared at the tiny blue speck ahead. He thought inwardly, “I am going to die of thirst any moment now! Why waste my energy in trying to reach the lagoon? I’ll sit here till I die!”.

    The young man in black robes sat still on the spot for what seemed like another 16 hours. But he did not die, despite the pain. He felt that more of his skin started peeling away from him. More flies had gathered around to feast on his flesh. He looked at the tiny blue speck ahead of him and thought, “The lagoon is not that far away! I should never have given up!”.

    Having made up his mind, he was just about to set off towards the lagoon once more, when he heard a voice behind him asking whilst laughing very hard, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Young man! The way you’re searching, you’ll never reach your goal or destination! What is it that you seek?”.

    The young man in black leaped up in shock upon hearing this voice. He had not expected that his deadly silence would be broken. He turned around but did not see anyone at all. He shouted, “I’m thirsty! I need some water in order to live! That blue lagoon ahead is the only source of water! I need to reach it! Can you help me? Can anyone help me?”.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! Is that so? You’ve already reached the blue lagoon on several occasions! But how is it that when you reach the lagoon you were afraid to take some water?”, remarked the voice.

    “Humph! What do you think I am? I only want some water to live! I don’t want anything else!”, shouted the handsome young man in defiance.

    “And what’s so bad about the two naked ladies? They looked quite lovely and attractive! In fact I thought they had indeed made you a very good offer! Why did you refuse it?”, asked the voice in a curious tone.

    “What those two naked ladies wanted, I could not give them! Though I’m thirsty I would not beg or suffer jests at those who are unworthy. I’d rather die than do something against my will!”, protested the handsome young man in black robes.

    “Sometimes you need to sacrifice in order to reach your goal or to reach your destination! It is quite normal you know!”, remarked the voice.

    “There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing to reach a goal or destination! But I will not sell my soul in doing so!”, rebutted the young man in black, whilst looking very annoyed.

    “I see! I see! Do you know that you’re actually the first person whom I’ve come across who would rather die, than kiss two lovely young ladies in exchange for the water that would save their lives! Some would say you were a fool!”, remarked the voice with a loud laugh.

    “If being wise is to live and do things according to other people’s will then I would rather die a fool! Besides I only wanted a drink to quench my thirst. I did not want anything else!”, rebutted the young man in black robes.

    Suddenly it appeared as if the earth shook behind the young man in black robes. He turned only to notice that there was now a shadow that was standing behind him. Taking a closer look, he saw an old toaist in white robes, carrying a white dust pen in his right hand. He was rather frail looking and seemed to have lived for an eternity. His face was all wrinkled up and glowed underneath the white light. A long white moustache and beard covered his face. He neither looked happy, nor sad. He appeared to be indifferent.

    Turning to the old man, the young man in black robes couldn’t help but ask, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”.

    Stroking his beard the old man replied, “I’m no one! Who I am is not significant! But this is my home!”.

    “Your home? What do you mean this is your home?”, asked the young man in black robes with a shocked expression on his face. His jaws nearly dropped to the ground.

    “Eh! Young man, don’t ask so many questions! It is time for me to be asking you! What is it that you seek?”, continued the old man casting a curious look at the young man in black robes.

    “I don’t know how I got here! When I woke up, I was already pain! All I need is some water. Please can you help me?”, pleaded the young man in black robes.

    “I cannot help those who cannot first help themselves! You would be shocked if you knew who I was, and yet I am not who you think I am”, remarked the old man whilst laughing.

    “Besides! If water is all you seek! Then there’s plenty of water before you! How is it that you cannot find any? Perhaps you’ve been looking in the wrong places!”, continued the old man whilst stroking his beard with a very disappointed look on his face.

    Looking up at the hot white sun, feeling the 50-degree heat, and looking into the red desert plains, the young man in black laughed out loud. But this laughter carried with it no joy. In fact it was a sorrowful and pitiful laugh.

    “Plenty of water? You must be joking! I am not dumb you know. This is the desert on the central plains of China. The only water here is that blue lagoon out there in the distance! Yet it’s just out of reach! But I know you can help me find it! So why won't you help?”, shouted the young man in black robes in some anguish as he pointed his index finger at the blue speck in the distance.

    “Is that really so? Have you already made up your mind that this is the only way? That the elusive water you seek can only be found in the blue lagoon in the distance ahead?”, sighed the old man.

    “Look for yourself if you like! Do you see that blue lagoon in the distance ahead? I swear there is no other way! Everything else here is but baron land!”, shouted the young man in black whilst pointing into the distance ahead again. He was feeling very tired and was frustrated by the small talk.

    “Those who search with their eyes are actually blind. For the eyes can deceive the mind with what it sees. And those who only look forward without first looking backwards can only go behind! Do you understand what I mean young man?”, remarked the old man whilst stroking his long beard.

    “You’re talking nonsense! Without the eyes it’s impossible to see and tell what’s real and what’s not?”, rebuffed the young man in black.

    “If I look forward and move forward, how can I actually go behind? I don’t understand”, continued the young man in black.

    The old man could be seen shaking his head in disappointment. He gave a couple of long sighs and disappeared without a trace. It seemed as if the old man had vanished into thin air. His voice recited a short poem that echoed through the air.

    What the eyes see is not necessarily real,
    Guiding those to things that only appeal,
    Leading to lust for power and fame,
    Only to end up living a life of shame,

    One’s true eyes are within the heart,
    Evil and good it can differentiate apart,
    Leading to joy, happiness and freedom,
    There you will end up in the holy kingdom.

    The young man in black tried as hard as he could to unravel the old man’s words of wisdom. He pondered over the words of the poems through his mind for a long while.

    “Ay Ha! I’ve got it!”, shouted the young man in black robes to break the silence. His voice suddenly echoed through the desert.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! About time! About time!”, replied the voice of the old man. But he was no where to be seen. This was indeed very odd.

    The voice of the old man could be heard reciting another poem shortly afterwards. It echoed through the air once more.

    You cannot go forward,
    Without first looking behind,
    A goal you may strive toward,
    When all lessons are in mind.

    For without the past life,
    There’s no future ahead,
    Without the present strife,
    You’d already be dead.

    The young man pondered over these words long and hard. He had a thought. Moments later he glanced behind and noticed another blue speck in the distance. It appeared to be the same distance away as the blue speck ahead of him. He turned left and right and suddenly noticed a blue speck the same distance away. The he suddenly realised that regardless of where he looked, there was a blue speck that was the same distance ahead. He now understood the meaning behind the two poems.

    “Indeed in looking back one can go forward, and sometimes going forward means to actually go behind! It is self-belief, lessons learnt, our abilities, our choices, and blind faith that guides us! Nothing is certain! Change is inevitable! We should live for the moment and not plan too far ahead! Who knows what the future may bring! Also for every great problem there is an answer that lies near! But often we do not see the solution, as it is not always clear! The mind is indeed easily confused!”, thought the young man in black inwardly as he elaborated the meaning of the two poems.

    Upon this realisation the young man in black robes decided to close his eyes. He rotated himself around until he felt dizzy and no longer knew which direction he was facing. Stretching both of his arms out he decided to walk aimlessly and blindly into the red desert. He had total faith in his heart. He appeared to have walked for only around 20 minutes, when he felt a chilling sensation from his toes. He looked below at his feet. What he saw amazed him greatly. He noticed that he was now at the base of a large lake. The water appeared to be red because of the red sand below. It had blended perfectly into the landscape. He realised that he would not have been able to find the lake in a million years had he kept searching long and hard with his own two eyes. Scooping up the water with his hands he drank it rapidly. It felt as if he had drank the entire lake when he finished.

    The young man in black robes felt very cool and refreshed moments later. Looking at the reflection in the red water, he noticed that something else had changed. The skin that was once peeling off from his arms, legs, and face had now recovered. The flies that had swarmed around his body had disappeared. Clear sweat was now dropping from his forehead rather than blood. He no longer felt utter pain in his heart and body. Having recovered he decided to crouch on the ground and take a short nap well earned nap.

    It seemed as if some time had passed when the young man in black awoken from his sleep. He was now surrounded by utter darkness. A little bit of fear and terror gripped him upon this realisation. He placed his right foot forward to take a step, but noticed that there was noting below to support him. He turned in a circle and realised that apart from where he presently stood, there was no solid ground for him to move. He stretched out his hands and turned in a circle once more. But he could feel nothing ahead of him. It appeared as if he was surrounded by just space and had been suspended in time.

    “Where am I? This is really weird!”, the handsome young man thought to himself again. He had lost memory of how he had gotten to where he was. He was no longer in pain. But his heart felt empty and he had a really weird feeling. There was nothing but dead silence. The only sound that he could hear was his own breathing and his own heart beating rapidly.

    “What is this place? Where the heck I am? Please answer me!”, shouted the young man in black. All he could hear was his voice echoing through the air before disappearing to almost a whisper, and then it was silent again. It seemed like an hour had passed by, and yet still nothing happened.

    Moments later he heard a booming voice that echoed through the air whilst recited a short poem.

    The ‘Gentleman East’ rules with peaceful action,
    Certain chaos befalls Wulin upon his subtraction,

    The ‘Immortal West’ was once assumed to be dead,
    With murderous rage he fills all hearts with dread,

    The ‘Central Poet’ enters the battles for power,
    The only true hero in the darkest hour,

    The ‘Southern Tiger’ roars loud upon his coming,
    The ‘Grand Champion of Wulin’ they will be drumming,

    The ‘Northern Dragon’, now hidden, will soon appear,
    The other four greats will have reasons to fear,

    For only the black dragon with golden scales can claim his throne,
    The armies of world domination will be crushed by his hands alone.

    “What the heck?”, the young man thought to himself as he pondered over the meaning of the poem.

    “Does ‘Gentleman East’ mean the current Chancellor of Wulin, Bak Fung Wan? Does it imply that something dreadful is going to happen that will disturb the current balance of power in wulin?”, the young man in black pondered.

    “Also does the ‘Immortal West’ mean ‘Sabre Sain Invincible West’? If so, why has his title changed from ‘Invincible’ to ‘Immortal’? This is strange!”, remarked the young man in black as he thought out aloud.

    Looking straight above his head, the young man in black noticed there was a bright light shining above. It appeared to be descending towards him as the darkness faded around him. Moments later he was surrounded by blinding white light. His current position had not improved however. Everywhere he turned he was surrounded by empty space. He decided to close his eyes to shield it from the penetrating light. Moments later he could hear the sound of a baby crying in the distance. It was now getting closer and closer to him.

    He could now hear a soft and tender voice of a woman. It said, “Shh! Shh! Don’t cry little one! Don’t cry! Mother’s here!”.

    The young man in black opened his eyes and could now see a pretty oval face staring and smiling affectionately back at him. The young lady starring at him appeared to be in her early 20s. Apart from a few specks of dirt on her face, her skin is as white as the snow. Her eyes looked very peaceful and content. Her long black silky hair was tied in two neat bundles at the front by pink and whites ribbons and flowed pass her shoulders. A flowing light pink dress is wrapped around her slim figure and smooth curves. Resting by the side of the lady in pink is a long sword resting in its white sheath. Two black butterflies had been carved into the hilt of the sword. She was an apprentice from the Divine Butterfly Sect.

    The young lady in pink was now sitting on a stone seat near a small stone table. There was a short candle on the table providing much needed light. Two black manual scripts were placed on the table near some fruits at the corner of the table. On closer inspection one could noticed that the young lady in pink was resting inside a small cave. Piles of straw had been laid out onto the floor for a bed. It appeared as if the lady in pink was in the process of embroidering something on the left-hand corner of a red scarf with a tiny needle and black thread. A large rectangle bamboo basket rested on the stone table near the lady in pink. Though the young man in black had heard the sounds of a baby crying a few moments earlier, somewhere in the room, he could not see it. It appeared as if the baby had suddenly disappeared. He had also noticed that the baby had appeared as if it had stopped crying for some reason.

    Suddenly a pair of thumping footsteps could be heard racing towards them. The young lady in pink became very alert. She jumped up from the table before unsheathing her sword. She stood to behind the entrance of the cave and peered out into the darkness ahead. Her heart was racing slightly and she did not appear to be at ease. She waited and waited, as the footsteps became closer and closer.

    At this moment the young man in black made up his mind that he would help the young lady in pink and calm her nerves down by showing himself. He went to walk forward, but it appeared as if his body had ignored his orders. He did not move an inch. Looking up he noticed a pair of tiny hands waving wildly and a pair of tiny feet kicking in the air above him. He became curious so brought the tiny hands closer to his face for inspection. The tiny little hand appeared to be his own.

    “What is going on here?”, thought to the young man in black slightly bewildered by the sudden turn of events. He had been scorched by heat, trapped in darkness, blinded by light, and had now appeared to be rebirthed.

    He suddenly had an uneasy feeling inside his heart and started to panic a little. For the first time he could feel that he was laying on his back resting amongst a pile of straw on a hard surface. He had now put two and two together. It was now obvious to him that the baby who had been crying in the cave was actually only himself.

    “I must be the new born child of that lady in pink!”, gasped the young man in black. He had forgotten how he had arrived at this predicament. But he had not lost his worldly knowledge. He remembered that in the underworld one would drink the ‘forgetting tea’ from an old lady before being reincarnated on earth.

    “Is it possible that I have died and have now been reincarnated? But how did I die?”, gasped the young man in black once more in horror.

    Another question crossed his mind, as he pondered, “Who is this young lady in pink and where am I?”.

    But before he had an opportunity to ponder other great questions burning on his mind, the silence was soon broken when the lady in pink had gathered enough courage and decided to speak up. She said, “Big brother Yeung! Is that you?”.

    But there was no reply. The loud footsteps had now stopped racing towards them altogether. It appeared as if someone had arrived at the front of the cave, and yet for some reason had hesitated to come in.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! Mrs. Yeung we meet again! I suggest you hand the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art’ manual over to me now and I will spare your life and that of your new born baby!”, demanded the man standing outside in a very arrogant tone.

    It was now obvious that the person hiding behind the cave was none other than Lok Gum Fa, the wife of the Black Dragon Swordsman. The young man in black now knew his own identity also, he was Yeung Yin Siu. Though he was a little shocked as to how he had come to be in this place and be at this moment in time 20 years ago. He put it down to the fact that his memory must have been playing tricks on his mind.

    “Mother! I’m here! I’ve missed you!”, cried Yeung Yin Siu whilst peering at her mother for the first time.

    But no words flowed from his mouth, other than the usual babbling, mumbling, and cries of a newborn baby. He could fell a streak of tear roll down the side of his eyes. Never before in his entire 20 years had he ever been able to lay eyes on his mother. He did not even know what she looked like until now. Though he was slightly confused at the moment, Yeung Yin Siu knew the image appearing before his eyes was indeed that of his mother and she was as pretty as he had imagined her to be. Upon hearing all of the stories about his mother from Fung Lau Yin, Yeung Yin Siu, had once thought that he could trade his entire life to be able to look upon his mother’s face for just a short moment. His heart was now filled with content and peace. He was overcome with wild emotions of joy.

    The events currently taking place seemed to rolling before his eyes and he was paralysed to do anything about it. He could only watch, listen and observe.

    “Humph! And yet I wondered who this little lost dog sneaking about in the dark was! So it’s none other than just Miu Tit Sie, Chief of the Red Wolf Fang! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”, mocked Lok Gum Fa. Though she was slightly afraid of Miu Tit Sie’s abilities, especially when being alone, she would not show it. Besides she had always relied on her intelligence to get her out of a tight spot more than her abilities.

    “How dare you call me a dog! You must be tired of living!’, protested Miu Tit Sie.

    “Oh! Why shouldn’t I call you a dog? All I heard was some heavy panting in the distance. Sounded very much like that of a wild dog running about in the wild to me!”, rebutted Lok Gum Fa whilst smiling slightly.

    Hearing no response, Lok Gum Fa decided to say in a confident tone, “Chief Miu, if I were you! I would be leaving very quickly now! Big brother Yeung has just gone to fetch some water! He’s probably on his way back right at this moment! I should warn you that he hasn’t been in the best of moods of late since losing his right eye!”.

    “Why thank you for the warning, Mrs Yeung! But you needn’t be concerned about that! Being a clever person that you are, you should already know that I would never approach you if your husband was around, and that I would never approach you without a high chance of success. I can assure you now that your husband is quite some distance away”, replied Miu Tit Sie unable to contain his laughter.

    “Your husband is so dumb! He fell for our little ‘tiger mountain trap’! He is, at this very moment, running around in a circle, chasing after his own tail! Ha! Ha! Ha!”, continued Miu Tit Sie after a short pause.

    “Dam it! Big brother Yeung is always acting rashly! It’s probably true that he has fallen into a trap of theirs! These Red Wolf Fang are the best schemers in wulin. But I’m sure he’ll be back shortly! I must stall Miu Tit Sie from taking action!”, Lok Gum Fa thought inwardly.

    Laughing loudly, Lok Gum Fa continued, “Surely you realise that big brother Yeung’s divine 9 dragon inner energy can detect other people’s inner energy at a 300-metre radius. He loves me dearly, so would never wonder far away! I’m sure he’ll be back shortly! Besides, I don’t have the two kung fu manuals on me! Haven’t you heard that I have hidden them away in a secret place in the Shaanix province?”.

    “You say you don’t have the two kung fu manuals on you? Somehow I don’t quite believe you! I have personally searched every inch of the entire Shaanix province and did not find it. I know that you’re very clever and so am most likely just trying to stall me by using delay tactics!”, replied Miu Tit Sie. He knew he had guessed Lok Gum Fa’s motives correctly.

    “But don’t worry! Your husband is some distance away and so won’t be back in time to save you!”, continued Miu Tit Sie in a very confident tone. There was not an ounce of concern on his face.

    Pausing for a moment, Miu Tit Sie demanded, “It’s best if you hand over those two kung fu manuals to me now and I will spare you and your new born child from a most painful death! Are you going to do it or not? Hand them over now!”.

    “I’m afraid it won’t be that easy! If you’re so great! Why don’t you come in here and get it yourself? They’re sitting openly on the table for you to collect them!”, replied Lok Gum Fa in a teasing and mocking voice.

    “Ah! Ha! So you’ve just admitted that you have it on you! I knew it!”, shouted Miu Tit Sie with a beaming smile.

    “Maybe and maybe not! Why don’t you come in and have a look for yourself? Then you’ll know for certain!”, replied Lok Gum Fa.

    But Miu Tit Sie hesitated at the thought of having to go inside the cave to fetch the two kung fu manuals himself. He knew that Lok Gum Fa was renowned throughout wulin for her cleverness, and so would surely set a countless number of traps for him inside the cave. He stood outside in deep thought with his arms folded. How could he have known that the cave had not been rigged with traps.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! Who would have thought that the very respectful Chief of the Red Wolf Fang, would be scared of a defenceless young lady, and a newly born child! Your reputation would be greatly tarnished if this ever gets out!”, mocked Lok Gum Fa wanting to anger Miu Tit Sie to blindly enter into the cave.

    Though Lok Gum Fa had not rigged the cave with any traps for fear of accidentally activating one of them and harming her newborn child as a result, she had a plan in mind in which to defeat Miu Tit Sie. She threw a butterfly palm at the small candle on the table to put out the light. It was now pitch dark in the cave and nearly impossible to see. She then placed two luminous stones on the left and right side of the entrance of the cave and waited.

    But Miu Tit Sie was not a rash person. Being a grave robber, he was high on alert, for all possible traps. He knew all too well of the dangers of charging recklessly into a dark cave.

    “Who say’s have I have to come in to get it?”, shouted Miu Tit Sie whilst stroking his beard at having come up with a plan of his own, to lure Lok Gum Fa out of the cave.

    Pausing for a while he continued, “Ha! Ha! Ha! In fact I think you’re going to personally come outside and hand the two manuals over to be before begging me to spare your miserable life and that of your newly born child!”.

    “Go outside? You’ve got to be joking! I’m quite happy where I am! It’s warm and cosy in here!”, rebutted Lok Gum Fa.

    “Also I have a weird and unusual illness. I throw up badly every time I see a revolting, weird, and ugly face! And when I see the face of rotten low lives and scumbags I spew up for weeks! So I won’t be coming outside!”, continued Lok Gum Fa whilst giggling. At all times she wanted in infuriate Miu Tit Sie.

    “Why you little witch! You’re going to pay for those insults of yours! I’ll make sure you suffer a most horrible death when I get my hands on you!”, snorted Miu Tit Sie. He was very annoyed at being called ugly, and above all a scumbag.

    Miu Tit Sie wondered around to gather pieces of dried wood, straw, and leaves. He had intended to smoke Lok Gum Fa from out of the tiny cave. Soon he had gathered enough and the stacked the pile at the entrance. Reaching into his pocket, Miu Tit Sie took out two small rocks and banged them together to create a spark. Moments later the dry wood, leaves, and straw caught alight. Smoke from the fire started to stream into the cave.

    Lok Gum Fa was slightly alarmed upon smelling the smoke. She knew that they would be suffocated shortly if they did not leave the cave. But leaving the cave would mean that she would fall into the hands of Miu Tit Sie. That was the last thing she wanted. Searching deep into her mind, Lok Gum Fa thought of another idea. Reaching with her hands blindly in the dark, she managed to locate her travelling bag. She reached inside and pulled out two small kung fu manuals. Reaching around the table she carried her newly born child in her left arm before rushing out of the cave. She stood some distance away from the fire at first to get away from the smoke.

    “Ha! Ha! Ha! I have already foreshadowed that you were going to come outside and personally hand over the two kung fu manuals over to me! That’s exactly what you’re doing now!”, remarked Miu Tit Sie, feeling rather proud of himself.

    Looking up at the stars in the sky above, with her back facing Miu Tit Sie, Lok Gum Fa replied, “Why not? I’ve decided to change my mind! Why shouldn’t I come outside? Apart from the slight blemish from the rot and filth of a low life amongst the scenery, the night is not too bad! Besides I needed some fresh air to clear my head. How’s that any of your business!”.

    “Humph! I don’t care what you say! And I don’t care for your insults! Hand over the two kung fu manuals now! Or else!”, said Miu Tit Sie in a very threatening tone. He had drawn his curved sword and stood in an attacking position.

    “Why don’t you just come over here and get them yourself if you’ve got the guts! Why are you wasting so much time with the small talk? I am now defenceless!”, shouted Lok Gum Fa whilst holding her newborn baby in her arms.

    At this moment Miu Tit Sie was standing by the fire. But Lok Gum Fa had felt it was to her own best interest to stand by the fire instead. So she had wanted to upset Miu Tit Sie to charge at her. She could not fight with her newborn baby in her hands, and thus needed to rely solely on her ability to defend and her ability to outwit in order to win.

    “Okay! You asked for it!”, shouted Miu Tit Sie as he charged forward like a red wolf with a strike launched at Lok Gum Fa’s head.

    Lok Gum Fa swayed out of the way of the attack before rolling forward towards the fire at the entrance of the cave. Holding two blue manual scripts in the air, she said, “Stop! Or else I’ll burn these two kung fu manuals you’re seeking to obtain!”.

    Miu Tit Sie stopped still in his tracks. Seeing that Lok Gum Fa had held the two kung fu manuals over the burning fire, he had guessed her intentions. He cursed underneath his breath for lighting the small fire and not charging into the cave earlier on to obtain the kung fu manuals. Miu Tit Sie did not really want to take Lok Gum Fa’s life. All he wanted was the two kung fu manuals. But Lok Gum F was now in an advantageous position having seemingly made up her mind to burn the two kung fu manuals.

    “Stop! What the heck do you think you’re doing?”, cried Miu Tit Sie in some urgency.

    “Funny! These two kung fu manuals are mine. I may therefore do and dispose of them as I wish! How is this any of your business?”, remarked Lok Gum Fa with a beaming grin.

    Miu Tit Sie wanted to rush forward, but then stopped in his tracks, knowing that Lok Gum Fa would toss the two kung fu manuals in the fire if he moved forward. He was now searching hard in his mind for another way to obtain the manuals. But he could not think of a plan.

    Seeing the state that Miu Tit Sie was in, Lok Gum Fa, couldn’t help but let out another laugh. She had also noticed a slight change in the surroundings. The wind had actually changed directions and was now blowing the smoke away from the entrance to the cave.

    Clearing her voice, Lok Gum Fa decided to say, “Chief Miu! I’m feeling a little tired and need to rest. I have a long day of travel ahead tomorrow. I have decided that I will in fact give you these two kung fu manuals that are in my hands out of good will!”.

    Miu Tit Sie was speechless upon hearing these comments. It sounded too good to be true. He asked in a curious voice, “What? You are really going to give me the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art’ manual?”.

    “Definitely, I have already told you I will give you these two kung fu manuals that are currently in my hands and so won’t go back on my word. But I won’t give them up so easily. You’ll have to promise me a couple of things!”, replied Lok Gum Fa in a very serious voice. But for some reason she could not hold back a childish laugh.

    “What is it?”, asked Miu Tit Sie again. He was clearly shocked at the sudden turn of events that he let his cautious guard down.

    “Firstly, you have to promise, that regardless of what happens from this moment onwards, that you’ll leave this cave immediately after getting your hands on the two kung fu manuals and to never return here again!”, replied Lok Gum Fa.

    Pausing for a while, Lok Gum Fa, continued, “Secondly, if for some reason these manuals are damaged because of your inability to fetch them from hands! You cannot blame me! Understand?”.

    Miu Tit Sie was filled with delight upon hearing these words. Lok Gum Fa sounded very sincere. So he figured that she would not go back on her words, and would thus give him the two kung fu manuals as promised. He had wanted to obtain these kung fu manuals now for a very long time now. He answered without thinking, “Okay! Okay! I promise!”.

    “Wait! That’s not good enough! I’m not going to trust the words of a rotten stinky grave robber? You must swear an oath!”, rebuffed Lok Gum Fa.

    “Why you…”, cursed Miu Tit Sie before stopping sort.

    Clearing his voice to be a little more polite, he continued, “Okay! I swear on my father’s grave that I’ll leave this cave immediately upon receiving the two kung fu manuals in your hands, and that I won’t blame you if the kung fu manuals are somehow damaged when you pass them over to me! If I break this oath then may I die a terrible death and be forsaken by my late father forever!”.

    “Chief Miu! I trust you now! Are you ready to receive the manuals yet? I’m going to place it down right now!”, replied Lok Gum Fa whilst casting a sly glance at Miu Tit Sie.

    “Yes!”, replied Miu Tit Sie whilst stepping forward.

    Turning to rush back into the dark small cave before dropping the two manuals onto the fire, Lok Gum Fa said whilst laughing, “Okay! I’ve decided to place them here! It’s now up to you to get them!”.

    “Why you little witch!”, cried Miu Tit Sie in great shock as he urgently made his over to the fire to save the two kung fu manuals from burning.

    By the time he had approached the fire, the two kung fu manuals had already caught on fire and had started to burn. Looking around Miu Tit Sie could not see anything that he could use to put out the small fire. So he tried kicking out the fire with his feet. But that did not produce any significant results. Being a rather desperate situation he then removed his long yellow cape to smother out the fire. Miu Tit Sie managed to put out the fire in around 5 minutes time. One could now see that Miu Tit Sie’s hair was slightly burnt. His once new yellow cape was now burnt. His face and arms had been covered in ash. He was a sorry sight.

    Picking up the remains of the two burnt kung fu manuals, Miu Tit Sie could be heard cursing out loud, “What the heck? These two kung fu manuals are the Divine Butterfly Sect’s entry-level kung fu manuals, volumes 1 and 2. They aren’t the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art’!”.

    Lok Gum Fa could now be heard laughing hard inside the cave. She said, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Who would have thought that you would have gone to such extraordinary lengths to get your hands on the Divine Butterfly Sect’s entry-level kung fu manuals! What would the people in wulin think if they heard such a story! That the Chief of the Red Wolf fang, in order to obtain two entry level kung fu manuals sacrificed his new cape to put out a fire. They would be reply! ‘For a couple of three legged cat and mouse kung fu manuals? Is that really worth it? Eh! Maybe the Chief of the Red Wolf Fang only possesses three-legged cat and mouse kung fu!’ Ha! Ha! Ha!”.

    “You evil witch! You tricked me! That’s not what we agreed upon! You said you would give me the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art”, protested Miu Tit Sie. One could see that his face had taken on a reddish complexion. He was very angry.

    “Eh! Chief Miu! You heard wrong! I never said that!”, rebuffed Lok Gum Fa.

    Still laughing childishly inside she continued, “We agreed that you would leave me alone, and that you would immediately leave here when I passed the two kung fu manuals that were in my hands over to you! The two kung fu manuals in my hands at the time of our agreement had in fact been the entry level kung fu manuals of the Divine Butterfly Sect! You saw it with your own eyes! I have given them to you and have thus kept my part of the bargain. But you have not! Why are you still standing there? Please leave!”.

    Miu Tit Sie was speechless. That was in fact what they had agreed. He had assumed that the two kung fu manuals in Lok Gum Fa’s hands were the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art. He had no idea that he had been so easily tricked. He was feeling embarrassed and shocked at the same time.

    “The Heretic Maiden certainly does live up to her name!”, Miu Tit Sie couldn’t help but praise inwardly.

    “Well! Chief Miu! What are you doing still standing there?”, quizzed Lok Gum Fa upon seeing that Miu Tit Sie had remained at the entrance of the cave.

    Miu Tit Sie’s temper had suddenly hit the roof. He was going to obtain the two kung fu manuals regardless. He no longer cared for anything else, including his own reputation. He shouted, “There’s no need to adhere to the ‘ancient code of chivalry’ when dealing with a nasty little witch such as you! I’m not leaving until you give me the two kung fu manuals that I seek!”.

    “I see! I see!”, replied Lok Gum Fa in a mocking tone.

    After a short pause she continued, “What are you going to do now? Set another fire? If so, you’re just wasting your time! I’ll burn the real manuals this time before you get a chance to lay your hands on them!”.

    Hearing no response, Lok Gum Fa said, “Or are you going to come into the cave and get the manuals yourself? If you have the ability and courage to come in here then I’ll lend you the two manuals so that you can have a look!”.

    “Little witch! You’re not going to trick me with your clever lies again! And don’t think that I’m afraid of you! Okay you asked for it! Here I come!”, shouted Miu Tit Sie as he charged blindly into the cave without a fear for his life. He had suffered a huge humiliation at the hands of Lok Gum Fa and had temporarily lost his ability to think clearly.

    Miu Tit Sie was covered in darkness upon entering the small cave. Unlike outside where the moonlight provided much needed light to see the surroundings. Miu Tit Sie could see a shiny luminous green stone on the ground. He ventured over to pick it from the ground and had intended to use it as a source of light. Moments later a number of swoosing sounds could be heard through the air. Miu Tit Sie was uncertain as to where they were attacking and where they were coming from. Some appeared to have been deliberately bounced off the wall whilst others appeared to be flying directly at him. Miu Tit Sie was greatly confused. He broke out in cold sweat upon realising that he had no idea where Lok Gum Fa was hiding at this moment. He suddenly realised that he was now at a great disadvantage despite his superior skills.

    “Ah Ya!”, Miu Tit Sie could be heard crying out loud in the dark as he had been hit in the chest with a butterfly projectile.

    “Ah Ya!”, he cried again as he felt that another butterfly projectile had lodged into his left shoulder.

    Miu Tit Sie immediately rolled out of the entrance of the cave. He crushed underneath his breath, “Little witch! I’m going to kill you!”.

    “Well! What are you waiting for? Why don’t you come back in? I’m waiting!”, replied Lok Gum Fa laughing hard.

    Miu Tit Sie had already learnt his lesson though. Twice the clever and devious Heretic Maiden had now outwitted him. He was not about to be outwitted a third time. He sat on the ground and ponders over in his mind a number of plans to get his revenge and obtain the kung fu manuals at the same time. He had come up with an idea. He was going to light up a tree branch and use it as a torch to see inside the cave.

    Miu Tit Sie was just about to set fire to a small tree branch when, suddenly a pair of footsteps could be heard racing towards the small cave from a distance. It appeared as if this person was approaching at a very rapid rate. It was obvious that he was an elite fighter.

    “Eh! Chief Miu! It seems to me as if that big brother Yeung has returned! You can wait here for him if you want! But I would suggest that you quickly leave if you want to escape with your life! He hasn’t been in the best of moods of late and is very protective of me you know! I can only imagine what he’d do to you if he found out that you had been pestering me all this time!”, shouted Lok Gum Fa from inside the cave.

    Miu Tit Sie didn’t hesitate for a second on this one. He knew it was highly probable that the Black Dragon Swordsman, Yeung Tin Lung, had figured out that he had fallen into a ‘tiger mountain trap’, and returned to aid his wife. Besides he would have seen the fire at the cave and thus returned to investigate. He possessed excellent lightness kung fu and could cover great distance at speed. Miu Tit Sie knew that if he didn’t take this opportunity to leave he would certainly die at the edge of the black dragon sabre. He immediately utilised his lightness kung fu and disappeared into the darkness.

    Upon hearing that Miu Tit Sie had fled, Lok Gum Fa reached into her pockets before pulling out two small stones. Striking them together she orientated herself to the surroundings of the cave once more. She then lit the small candle on the table. Returning to the pile of straw she picked up her newborn son up from the floor and placed him back onto the table again. Picking up the red scarf from the table she continued with her embroidery.

    At this point Yeung Yin Siu was marvelling at his mother. He thought inwardly, “I have always heard that she was a very intelligent woman! But who would have thought she had such a strong will as well. To be so calm in the face of a major crisis”. Tears started flowing from his eyes again. These were the tears of great respect.

    Lok Gum Fa glanced at her son with warm affection upon seeing the tears rolling down the side of the newborn baby. She knew her planned against Miu Tit Sie had only succeeded because he had remained quite and did not cry out in fear at any stage.

    Moments later a loud voice could be heard asking from the entrance of the cave, “Fa yee, are you okay? I saw a small fire from here! What happened?”.

    It was obvious that this was none other than the Black Dragon Swordsman, Yeung Yin Lung, the father of Yeung Yin Siu. He was wearing a torn and weathered black robe with a red cape on its back. A bamboo rain hat rested on his head, and one could not clearly see his face under the dim light. A short black sabre was strapped to his left leg and rested by the side.

    “Father!”, cried Yeung Yin Siu upon seeing that Yeung Tin Lung had entered the cave. But once more no words came from his mouth. All that he heard was senseless babbling, mumbling, and the cries of a small baby.

    Turning around to look at her husband with a tender smile, Lok Gum Fa replied, “Big brother Yeung, don’t worry. I’m fine! Where have you been all this time? I was starting to get worried!”.

    “I was just scouting our surroundings!”, replied Yeung Tin Lung not wanting to reveal to his wife that he had just fallen into a ‘tiger mountain trap’ set up by the Red Wolf Fang, that lured him away from the cave for the past hour and a bit. He was slightly embarrassed about that event and did not want his wife to know.

    Seeing the look on her husband’s face, Lok Gum Fa, smiled again. She asked, “You ran into some members from the Red Wolf Fang didn’t you?”.

    “How did you know?”, gasped Yeung Tin Lung in shock.

    “Chief Miu was here earlier looking to obtain the Divine 9 Dragon inner energy and the Black Dragon Sword Art! But he got more than he bargained for!”, replied Lok Gum Fa feeling very proud of her handy work.

    “Ah! So its because of these two manuals again that these people are chasing after us! But don’t worry! I have already killed all of those Red Wolf Fang members that had followed us!”, remarked Yeung Tin Lung.

    Smiling slightly Yeung Tin Lung continued, “Humph! Those Red Wolf Fang members always claimed that they are the greatest when it comes to setting traps and outwitting their opponents in a battle. I bet you sent Chief running with his tail between his leg. He should know better than to try and mess around with you! They’re not a match for you when it comes to using brain power!”.

    Lok Gum Fa smiled upon hearing Yeung Tin Lung’s praise. She said, “It’s not only me that needs praising! But our son also! He has your courage it seems!”.

    “Oh! I don’t understand!”, replied Yeung Tin Lung casting a look from his wife and then to the newly born baby.

    “In our greatest moment of danger, our son did not even cry out in fear at all to give away our position in the dark cave! That allowed me to focus solely on dealing with Chief Miu! This is rare indeed for one so young!”, remarked Lok Gum Fa.

    Casting an affectionate glance back at his wife, Yeung Tin Lung continued, “In that case he not only has my courage! But he has your intelligence as well. It was obvious that he saw through your plans and thus knew he had to remain quite, otherwise Chief Miu would have been able to find you!”.

    Lok Gum Fa smiled again at the praise from her husband. She remarked, “If that’s true, wulin will have another ‘heretic’ in a few years time. One that that possesses the highest level of courage and the highest level of intelligence!”.

    Changing the subject, Yeung Tin Lung said with a serious tone in his voice, “Fa yee, we can no longer hide here! If members of the Red Wolf Fang have located us, so can your master, the Gentleman Sword, Sword Sain Unrivalled East and the others! We must move on!”.

    “That is certain! We’ll get no peace until we find somewhere so secluded that no one will be able to find us! If there were only such a place!”, sighed Lok Gum Fa whilst starring blankly in the distance.

    “I know of such a place! It’s in the valleys behind the Ghost Mountain in Chengdu! I promise you that no one will be able to find us there!”, remarked Yeung Tin Lung whilst placing a hand on his wife’s shoulders to reassure her.

    “We should set off in the morning then!”, said Lok Gum Fa feeling a little better.

    “Agreed! But we’ll take the path through Chongqing! It’s fastest!”, replied Yeung Tin Lung.

    “But it’s also the most dangerous!”, remarked Lok Gum Fa.

    “Don’t worry! By the time we reach Chongqing it’ll be lantern festival and we can hide amongst the large gathering crowd in the city and be on our way!”, rebutted Yeung Tin Lung.

    “It’s settled then! We’ll head to Chengdu through Chongqing!”, agreed Lok Gum Fa.

    Seeing the two black kung fu manual scripts resting on the stone table, Lok Gum Fa decided to say, “Big brother Yeung! Why don’t we hide the ‘Divine 9 Dragon’ inner energy and the ‘Black Dragon Sword Art’ in this cave before leaving so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands! We can come back and get it another time if we have the chance! If not hopefully by luck, they will end up in the hands of someone who is worthy of learning its arts!”.

    “Fa yee, I have no views on this matter! These two kung fu manuals now belong to you and you may do with them as you wish!”, replied Yeung Tin Lung.

    “But haven’t you managed to trick most people into believing that you have hidden them in a secret place in the Shaanix province? So why do you want to hide them here now?”, continued Yeung Tin Lung in a very curious voice.

    “Because I sense that our journey to Chengdu is filled with great danger and one of the greatest concerns in my heart is that these manuals will fall into the wrong hands and be used for all of the wrong purposes! So I’ll be at ease once I know that it’s safely hidden!”, replied Lok Gum Fa with a worried look on her face.

    Pausing for a moment she continued, “Many elite fighters are now searching through the Shaanix province upon hearing of the rumour that I have hidden both kung fu manuals there. So no one would expect that I have actually hidden them here in this cave. Not even Chief Miu would know this, as he believes that I still have it! So its safe here!”.

    “That sound reasonable! Where are you going to hide it then?”, Yeung Tin Lung asked in a very curious voice.

    Taking the two kung fu manuals into her hands before looking around throughout the cave.

    “Here!”, said Lok Gum Fa whilst pointing to a black large rock resting next to the stone table.

    “Why?”, asked Yeung Tin Lung.

    “Because this rock is black and dark. The two black kung fu manuals will blend in well with the rock and escape detection by the visible eye”, replied Lok Gum Fa with a large grin on her face.

    “May I borrow your black dragon sabre?”, continued Lok Gum Fa.

    “Why of course! Here!”, replied Yeung Tin Lung as he passed his black dragon sabre over to his wife.

    Taking the black sabre into her hands, Lok Gum Fa carved two deep holes into the base of the large rock before carefully inserting the two kung fu manuals into the holes. She then placed the rock amongst a pile of smaller black rocks. Indeed the two kung fu manuals were now well hidden from visible sight. If would also be hard to locate the rock in the dark cave.

    “Where is this place? What’s the name of this cave?”, Yeung Yin Siu couldn’t help but wonder to himself.

    Moments later, Lok Gum Fa, took one of her jade butterflies from the side of her right waist. She used the small sewing needle on the table and carved a few words at the back. She then placed the jade butterfly back to the right side of her waist.

    “Big brother Yeung, could I ask you a question?”, said Lok Gum Fa as she sat back down on the table to join her husband again.

    “What is it?”, replied Yeung Tin Lung in shock. He had no idea what was on his wife’s mind at the moment.

    “If something were to happen to me. What would you do?”, asked Lok Gum Fa all of a sudden.

    “Nothing is going to happen to you! I can assure you of that. Why do you ask?”, replied Yeung Tin Lung. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to his wife. He would defend her with his life.

    “I’ve been having a weird feeling for the past few days! I am greatly worried about a number of things!”, replied Lok Gum Fa sounding very concerned. She’s been having nightmares since giving birth to her son and was thus greatly worried.

    “But if something were to happen to me, what would you do?”, continued Lok Gum Fa wanting to hear directly what was on her husband’s mind.

    Realising that his wife would not change the subject, Yeung Tin Lung answered honestly, “Fa yee, you know how I feel! I would never let anyone harm you!”.

    “But if something were to happen to you, then I would kill all of the people who were involved including their families, friends, children, and relatives. None will be allowed to live! I will then join you in the underworld and we would share an eternity together!”, continued Yeung Tin Lung after a short pause.

    “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?”, replied Lok Gum Fa in shock upon hearing her husband’s response. She had always been a kind-hearted person, and had momentarily forgotten that the Black Dragon Swordsman has a touch of bad blood in him.

    “Not at all! Those who deprive me of my love shall suffer death!”, rebutted Yeung Tin Lung. A wicked grin appeared on his face as he said this. One could tell he was running various thoughts through his mind about how he would punish those who dared to harm his wife.

    Suddenly the image of Lok Gum Fa, and Yeung Tin Lung evaporated into the darkness and it was pitch black again. Yeung Yin Siu’s words echoed loudly through the air as the image faded away.

    “Not At All! Those Who Deprive Me Of My Love Shall Suffer Death!”

    “NOT AT ALL! THOSE WHO DEPRIVE ME OF MY LOVE SHALL SUFFER DEATH!”

    “What? Where have they gone? What’s going on?”, shouted Yeung Yin Siu upon noticing that the image of his parents had faded.

    Yeung Yin Siu decided to open his eyes again. He noticed that the bright white light was still shining directly into his eyes. He immediately placed his hand in front of his eyes to shield it from the light. But it did no good. He still could not bear the bright light and closed his eyes again.

    Suddenly his heart was filled with joyous friendship. He could hear laughter and joking all around him. Opening his eyes again, he noticed that three men were drinking and laughing around at small table in a dimly lit tavern. The tables and chairs of this particular tavern were full. One of the men sitting around the table appeared to be a man in his mid 20s and was wearing a dark blue scholars robe and hat with white trimmings. Three large books were resting on the table beside him. A forth book rested on the table before him. The pages were blank. The blue scholar held a small bamboo pen in his right hand. It appeared he had been listening intently to the other two men sitting at the table and was recording the conversation in his book.

    “Who’s the least talented person in all of China? Who’s the worst painter? Who’s the worst calligraphy writer? Who is the worst poet? Who is the worst musician? But at the same time who’s the most talented swordsman?”, another man sitting on the table could be heard asking in a loud voice whilst slamming a wine cup on the table.

    The man who asked those questions appeared to be very drunk at this moment. One could see that he was a man in his late 20s. A grey robe with white trimmings covered his medium built body. His hair was tied at the back with a white scarf. He a had a very handsome face and appeared to be a well-educated man.

    “Who? I have no idea!”, replied the scholar in blue robes.

    “What? This person is not in your archives of great swordsmen on the Central Plains of China? Then I suggest you add the ‘Central Poet’, the one who calls himself Du Fu into the 4th Volume of your Wulin encyclopedia!”, interrupted the third man who sat at the table. He slammed another wine cup on the table.

    Yeung Yin Siu immediately recognised this person. It was none other than himself. It was now obvious that the events unfolding before his eyes are going to take place in the not too distant future. He looked rather drunk at this moment in time. In fact he and the unknown stranger had appeared to be misleading the blue scholar who was none the wiser.

    “He’s the best swordsman in Central China?”, quizzed the scholar in blue robes.

    “Most certainly!”, replied the man in grey robes whilst laughing hard.

    “His kung fu foundation is from Wudang! He’s the Calligraphy Swordsman! He certainly qualifies as one of the 5 greats!”, interrupted Yeung Yin Siu joining in the laughter.

    “Okay! I agree then! But who’s the best swordsman in Southern China then?”, asked the scholar in blue robes.

    Laughing hard, Yeung Yin Siu continued, “Who’s the one person in China who is capable of making people laugh by just mentioning his name? Who’s the person with the irresistible smile that no lady can refuse? Who’s the person who can drink the most wine? Who’s the person that can steal the sun and the moon? Who’s the person with the most accurate projectiles?”.

    “I don’t know? Who is this person?”, asked the scholar in blue robes whilst shaking his head.

    “Ha! What kind of wulin historian are you? You don’t even know who this person is?”, shouted the man in grey robes whilst laughing hard.

    “Honestly! I don’t know this person!”, replied the young scholar in blue.

    Laughing hard Yeung Yin Siu continued, “It’s none other than ‘Romantic Swordsman’. He’s kung fu foundation is also from Wudang! He wields a pair of unusual but expensive golden chopsticks! He’s name is Lee Siu Yan, but you may call him Chopstick Lee!”.

    Slamming a fist on a table, a swordsman in yellow robes with black trimmings stood up from another table. Clearing his voice, he loudly protested, “You’ve got to be kidding! Chopstick Lee is by no means the best swordsman in Southern China! His swordsmanship is just three legged cat and mouse, compared with Southern Tiger!”.

    “Southern Tiger? Never heard of him before! Who’s this person?”, quizzed the swordsman in grey robes in a mocking tone.

    “He’s Feng Sap Chut, the 25 year old son of the Chief of the Divine Tiger Sect in southern Fuzhou! He’s the Grand Champion of Wulin!”, shouted the unknown swordsman in yellow robes.

    “If he’s the Grand Champion of Wulin! Then I am related to the Emperor of China!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu with a smirk.

    “How did he get this title? Who did he defeat?”, asked the scholar in blue robes in a curious tone.

    “He defeated the ‘Sabre Saint Immortal West’! So doesn’t he qualify to be the Grand Champion of Wulin?”, rebutted the unknown swordsman in yellow robes, in a very arrogant tone.

    “You must be joking! The ‘Immortal West’ has never lost a battle in his life! Did anyone witness this epic duel?”, asked Yeung Yin Siu, not 100% convinced that this Feng Sap Chut had defeated the Black Dragon Swordsman.

    “Doesn’t matter whether its true or not! If you two don’t believe that Feng Sap Chut is the Grand Champion of Wulin then you may venture up to the Tiger Mountain in two years time and challenge him to a duel!”, replied the unknown swordsman in a very arrogant tone.

    “So you’re saying that Feng Sap Chut is holding a Champions tournament in 2 years time on top of Tiger Mountain?”, asked the blue scholar.

    “That is correct! You can spread the news throughout wulin, that anyone who does not think that Feng Sap Chut is worthy to be the Grand Champion of Wulin may challenge him to a duel. I assure you he’ll defeat all his detractors!”, snickered the unknown swordsman in yellow robes.

    “We shall see!” replied Yeung Yin Siu and the swordsman in grey simultaneously.

    “Gentleman’s agreement! We’ll see the both of you at the peak of the Tiger Mountain in two years time then!”, shouted the unknown swordsman in yellow robes.

    “Even the fastest horse won’t be able to pull back the carriage! Agreed!”, replied Yeung Yin Siu and the swordsman in grey simultaneously again.

    Suddenly the image of the three men sitting at the table vanished and Yeung Yin Siu was covered in darkness again. Once more Yeung Yin Siu decided to open his eyes. But the bright white light was still shining directly at him. So he closed his eyes again.

    Yeung Yin Siu suddenly felt a sharp pain in his heart. It was the pain of regret, grief and sorrow. Tears started to roll down his eyes but he did not know why. Suddenly an image appeared before his eyes.

    There was a young person in black robes, kneeling to the side of a lake. It seemed as if it was autumn as the leaves of the many willow trees above were yellow. The leaves were caught in the gentle breeze, and were falling softly to the ground. It was like a soft rain of yellow falling from the sky. The ground below was also a blanket of yellow. One could see a large pile of soft earth underneath an old tree by the bank before the young person in black robes. It was obvious that the pile of dirt had marked the grave of a recently deceased person.

    A black dragon sword was stuck into the ground and rested by the right side. A long plank of wood rested before the young person in black robes. It was obvious that this plank of wood will be used as a tombstone, to mark the grave, but no words had been written on it as of yet. Yeung Yin Siu thought he recognised this person as an image of himself. He made this assumption upon seeing the black dragon sword. It was exactly identical to a finished version of the sword that he and Blacksmith Chan had been working on for the past for years. That was certain. The sword belonged to him and no other. But he could not be certain however as he could not see the face of the young person in black robes. In fact he couldn’t even be certain whether it was a man or a woman.

    “What’s going on? Who’s this person? Is that me?”, Yeung Yin Siu couldn’t help but wonder as he watched the event unfold before his eyes. It was obvious that this event would take place sometime in the near future also.

    On closer inspection one could notice that both hands of the young person in black robes were covered in dirt and were bleeding freely. It almost appeared as if he had clawed the soft dirt from the ground with both hands. Tears flowed freely from that person’s face, as they picked up the long plank of wood. Biting the index finger of their right hand so that the blood would start to flow freely, they started to write on the tombstone.

    “In found tender memory of…”, stopping short Yeung Yin Siu decided to read out the words being carved on the plank of wood out loud to himself. Suddenly he could feel himself breaking out in cold sweat.

    “How’s this possible? How’s this possible?”, shouted Yeung Yin Siu in great pain upon recognising the name that had been written on the long plank of wood.

    “I don’t understand! This cannot be! This cannot be!”, shouted Yeung Yin Siu once more.

    Suddenly he could feel the blood in his body started to flow freely again. His heart started to race and he felt as if he was breathing frantically. He suddenly felt all hot and sweaty. A sharp pain ran through his body from the right stomach region. He coughed up a mouthful of blood and awoken from the darkness.

    “Nooooooooo!”, he cried out loud.

    End of Chapter 10.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  19. #39
    Senior Member Long's Avatar
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    Default comments on chapter 10

    Thought I'd take the opportunity in chapter 10 to do a bit of bridging and setting the scene, between present, past, and future.

    I admit its a bit of an unusual chapter but couldn't help but doing it like that. It was intended only to be a short intro but turned into a whole chapter. It is the chapter of 'dreams and nightmares'.

    Next chapter is called "The New Chancellor of the Demon Cult". As it suggests we move back to the last 3 duels. The pace should quicken from now on.
    "Seems, madam! Nay it is, I know not seems!" - Hamlet, William Shakespeare

  20. #40
    Senior Member Melanie's Avatar
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    Smile

    Hi, Long. I just saw your comment in my fanfic thread here. Thank you. It is an extremely nice comment. I am actually very flattered that you are even reading the story, let alone think that it is good, considering that you are such an accomplished writer. To be honest, I have a huge inferiority complex when it comes to my fanfic. It is definitely full of flaws, and I worry every time I post a new chapter about whether or not it will be well received. Therefore, I am really surprised to see your remarks in my thread. You are too complimentary, but thank you very much.

    By the way, I am up to the part where Lok Gum Fa battles the five nuns of Emei. It's a very impressive fight! Your descriptions are very thorough and enable me to picture each stance. In fact, your style of writing is reminescent of the Jin Yong translations I have read so far. Bravo.

    I also think your high frequency of update is impressive. How do you do it? I am often too tired from classes, studying, work, and personal life to do much at the end of the day. Tell me your secret!

    I have been a long time visitor of your Felix Wong site. I didn't realize that you are the webmaster until now when I noticed your signature. It's an excellent site, very comprehensive. Your summary of Yang's Saga convinced me to purchase the vcd's a while back.

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