The Demi Gods and Semi Devils

Book 1: Adventures of Youth

Chapter 3: Fast Horse and Faint Fragrance

Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)

Fan translation by Moinllieon (send email)


Duan Yu turned around and saw a man dressed in servant clothing walking quickly towards him, turned to be the LaiFe-Er that he saw a bit ago on the other side of the wall. He walked up closer and bowed before speaking: "LaiFu-Er humbly came following orders from the Madame to go with sir to borrow the horse." Duan Yu nodded: "Alright, sorry to trouble you."

So LaiFu-Er walked in front leading the way as they made their way through the pine tree woods, turned north onto another small path, and after walking for another 3 or 4 kilometers, they arrived in front of a big house. LaiFu-Er went up, took the ring on the door in hand, gently knocked twice, paused, then knocked 4 times, and finally he knocked 3 more times. That door cracked open just a little. LaiFu-Er stood outside the door and whispered with the doorman for a while. By now it was dark, Duan Yu looked up at the scattered stars in the sky; suddenly his mind wandered to that cave and the Dear Goddess that lived in it.

Suddenly there came from inside the door a long and loud horse neigh, Duan Yu could not help but comment: "Excellent horse! Excellent indeed!" The door opened and a horse head poked out, the pair of horse eyes glowed in the dark as they looked around, obviously this was not an usual horse; with a couple more hoof beats, the black horse had walked out of the door. The hoof beats were landing very lightly on the ground, the horse was thin and slight but its legs were long as it had an air of proud arrogance. A little maid with her hair down was leading the horse out, in the darkness Duan Yu could not see her face, but she seemed to be around 14 or 15.

LaiFu-Er spoke up: "Mr. Duan, Madame was worried that you might not get to DaLi in time, so we came here to borrow a horse from the Young Miss here. This horse's leg power is truly amazing, this Young Miss here is a good friend with our Young Miss as well, only upon hearing that sir was going to save Young Miss did she let us borrow this horse, this really is giving us a tremendous amount of face." Duan Yu had seen quite a lot of great horses, he only needed to hear its neigh to know that this horse was truly one in a million, so he replied: "Many thanks!" He reached over to grabbed the reins. The little maid tenderly stroked the fur and mane of the horse while gently saying: "Now Black Rose, Young Miss is letting this young sir borrow you to ride for a bit, so you better be good and come back soon." The black horse turned its head and gently rubbed against her arm, showing a great amount of affection. The maid handed the reins over to Duan Yu and admonished: "Don't use whips on this horse, the better you treat it, the faster it'll run."

Duan Yu replied: "Alright!" He thought: "The horse's name is Black Rose, so it's got to be a mare." So he said: "Miss Black Rose, please forgive me for any rudeness of mine." He bowed towards the horse as he said this. The maid let out a little laugh and said: "Quite an interesting guy you are that's for sure. Hey, careful, don't fall down." Duan Yu nimbly hopped onto the horse's back and turned to the maid: "Many thanks to the Young Miss of the house!" The maid replied with a laugh: "What? No thanks for me?" Duan Yu cupped his fist and said: "Many thanks to my sweet sister. When I return I'll bring some delicious preserved fruits for you." The maid replied: "No need for the fruits. Just be careful and don't hurt the horse."

LaiFu-Er instructed: "Ride north from here and you will find the highway leading to DaLi. Sir, please take care." Duan Yu waved his hand, the horse started moving her legs, after a few gallops he was already some 50 meters away.

Black Rose did not need any urging as she was flying in the night, Duan Yu felt as if the trees at his sides were backing up as they sped past him; what's more amazing was that the back of the horse was unusually steady without even the slightest of dips. He thought: "At this rate, I am sure to reach DaLi by tomorrow afternoon."

In the amount of time to boil some tea, they had already traveled more than 5 kilometers; the cool breeze blew through the night, bringing smells of grass and trees to Duan Yu's face. Duan Yu mused: "Galloping in the night, one of the joys of life indeed." But suddenly there came a shout from ahead: "Bitch, stop!" A flash of blade being swung shot through the darkness as a sabre came flying down. But the black horse was so fast that the sabre missed by several meters. Duan Yu turned his head and saw 2 huge men, one with a sabre in hand while another had a spear, chasing after him. The 2 of them were cursing profusely at him: "Bitch! Dressing up like a man! Think you can fool your old man?" In a blink of an eye, the horse had left them way behind. Although the 2 men were fast, soon even their cursing could not be heard anymore.

Duan Yu thought: "Those 2 ruffians were calling me 'bitch', and saying that I'm 'dressing up like a man', what for? Oh I get it, they are looking for Black Rose's owner, so they saw the horse and didn't bother with checking out the rider, such rudeness." After galloping for a few more kilometers, a thought suddenly occurred to him: "Ai-Yo, this is not good! I was lucky that this horse was fast to be able to escape their ambush. Seems like that these 2 men's kungfu aren't that shabby, if the young miss that lent me this horse came walking out without any precaution, she might be ambushed. I have to go back and report this!" So he immediately pulled the horse to a stop and said: "Black Rose, someone wants to harm your master, we have to go back and report that, to tell her to be careful and not leave the house."

So he turned the horse around and started on the way back, when getting close to where the 2 men ambushed him, he urged: "Faster, faster!" Black Rose seemed to have understood him as she really did pick up her speed. But the 2 men were gone. Duan Yu became even more worried: "Maybe the 2 of them went to attack that young miss in the house, that would be even worse!" So he kept on urging "Faster", it was as if Black Rose's hooves were not even touching the ground anymore as they went flying back the way they came.

When they arrived back at the house, a pair of sticks suddenly popped out of the ground and swung towards the horse's legs. Black Rose didn't wait for Duan Yu to react and jumped over them herself, she then kicked her hind legs back and knocked down one of the men with a stick.

In one flurry, Black Rose had arrived in front of the house, 4 or 5 men jumped out from the darkness and grabbed onto Black Rose's reins. Duan Yu felt something gripping his right arm as he was dragged down of the horse. Someone demanded: "Boy, what are you doing here? Where do you think you are going?"

Duan Yu was grumbling to himself: "This can't be good, not good at all, the entire house is surrounded, I wonder if they have done anything to the owner?" Feeling the grip on his right arm tighten like a vise, so much so that the right side of his body was numb, he replied: "I'm here to see the master of this place, what do you think you are doing, acting this rudely?" Another voice, which was old and raspy, observed: "This little bastard was riding that bitch's black horse, he must be a friend of that bitch, let him go in and we can wipe all of them out in one strike." Duan Yu's mind was a mess as he couldn't calm down: "This is called asking for it. Well, since it's already like this, only thing to do is to go in and hope for the best." Feeling the grip on his right arm loosen, he adjusted his clothing a bit and walked right through the door.

He walked through a yard with roses planted on each side of the stone path that caused the whole place to permeate with a delicious fragrance; the stone path twisted and turned through a round door as Duan Yu followed the path, seeing that there were men placed here and there all along the path for an ambush. Suddenly he heard a light cough from up above, he looked up and saw that there were 7 or 8 men standing on top of the wall as well, the weapons in their hands flashed brilliantly in the night; overwhelmed, he thought: "There can't be that many men in the house, yet so many enemies showed up, are they going to kill everyone for real?" The men were staring at him murderously through the darkness, some of them had their hands on their weapons, making them even more threatening. Duan Yu could only try to stay calm and force himself to smile back. The stone path led to a huge parlor that had lamp light shining through the rows of windows. He walked up to it and spoke in a loud voice: "I humbly request an audience with the master of this place."

A very raspy voice shouted back: "Who the hell is it? Get in here now!"

Duan Yu was feeling a bit offended as he pushed open the door and walked in; he saw around 17 or 18 people in the parlor, some standing, some sitting. In the middle sat a girl wearing black, her back was facing towards the door so her face could not be seen, her body look slender and elegant, her shiny dark black hair was done in the style of a girl. Two old women sat in the grand chair on the east side, they had nothing in their hands; the rest of the men and women present all had weapons in hand. A person was lying in front of the old woman that sat closer to the door, blood was pouring out of his forehead, obviously dead; this person happens to be the person that led Duan Yu here for the horse, LaiFu-Er. Duan Yu thought how polite and respectful this person treated himself and his terrible fate of being suddenly killed here, which was partly caused by himself, he felt terrible.

The old woman that sat farther from the door was short in stature and had a head of white hair, she demanded in a raspy voice: "Hey boy! What are you doing here?"

When Duan Yu pushed open the door and stepped in, he had already made up his mind: "Since I'm in such mortal danger, if I'm able to escape then it really is fortune of fortunes, but seeing the murderous looks on these people, it would not help a bit if I tell them what they want to hear." Now he was even more determined after seeing LaiFu-Er's body on the floor, so he held his head up high and said: "Gramps had only lived a couple more years, why are you being so rude and going 'boy this' or 'boy that' all the time?"

That old woman's face was short and wide, filled with wrinkles, and her white color eye brows were slanting downwards; the pair of eyes that she had narrowed to a crack suddenly looked murderous as she sized up Duan Yu a couple of times. The old woman that sat closer to the door shouted back: "Stinking boy, how dare you! Grandma Rui was actually addressing you herself, that's giving you a lot of face already! Do you have any idea who this gramps is? You can't see Mount Tai if it was right in front of you!" This old woman was very fat, her belly stuck out as if she was 7 or 8 months pregnant, only some of her hair was white and her face was ugly and ferocious, when she talked her voice was rougher than most men; she had a wide-bladed dagger on each side of her hips, one of the daggers was covered with blood; obviously she was the one that killed LaiFu-Er.

When Duan Yu saw this, he became even angrier as he replied loudly: "From your accent I can see you are from around here, and yet you dared to cause trouble and kill here in DaLi, you have to know that even though DaLi is a small country, it still has laws. As for who Grandma Rui is, I have no clue, but even if she's the Queen Mom of the Great Song she can't come here to DaLi and kill as she pleases!"

The fat old woman was furious, she jumped up out of her chair and with a flick of her wrist, a dagger had appeared in each of her hands. She shouted: "Well I just happen to want to kill you, what can you do about it? There isn't a single decent person in all of DaLi, they should all be killed." Duan Yu yawned and snickered: "Such wonderful logic, funny, very funny!" The old woman took step forward and the dagger in her left hand came chopping down towards his forehead.

"Dang"! An iron crutch came out of nowhere and parried the dagger away; unexpectedly, it came from Grandma Rui. She said in a low voice: "Be patient Grandma Ping, let's find out what we can and then we can still kill him!" She put her iron crutch back on the side of the chair and turned towards Duan Yu: "Who are you?" Duan Yu replied: "I am a citizen of DaLi. This fat gramps here said that everyone in DaLi should die, then I guess I'm someone who should die as well." Grandma Ping was still furious: "Call me Grandma Ping, what's with all those fat comments?" Duan Yu snickered: "Why don't you take a look at your tummy, is it fat or not?"

Grandma Ping was livid: "You little bastard!" She swung her dagger hard twice at the air in front of her. The sight and sound of those 2 swings made Duan Yu suddenly break out in a cold sweat in fear, but he was still able to make his face look like he didn't care.

Grandma Rui observed: "You look rather clean and refined, are you a friend of this little bitch?" She pointed at the back of the girl in back. Duan Yu replied: "I have never seen this young miss before in my life. But Grandma Rui, I urge you to be a bit more tactful in your choice of words and not just come out cursing everyone. This young miss is showing quite a lot of character not to make a fuss over this with you, but you don't come out very well anyway." Grandma Rui replied: "Pei! How dare you tell me how to behave! If you never met this bitch before, then what are you doing here?"

Duan Yu replied: "I'm here to give her a message." Grandma Rui asked: "What message?" Duan Yu sighed: "I'm a step too late, so the message really doesn't matter anymore." Grandma Rui demanded severely: "What message? Tell me." Duan Yu replied: "When I see the master of this place, I would automatically say it, why would I tell you?" Grandma Rui faintly sneered for a while before responding: "You want to say it, then go ahead and say it. A little bit more hesitation, then both of you are going off to the nether world." Duan Yu asked: "Who is the master? I have thank the master for letting me borrow the horse."

Just as he finished saying this, everyone in the parlor's eyes turned towards the girl in black sitting in the middle.

Duan Yu was quite surprised: "Can she be the master of this place? She's a girl and is surrounded by so many powerful enemies, this is not looking good."

The girl slowly spoke up: "Letting you borrow the horse was giving someone else face, no need for you to thank me. What are you doing back here and not off to save her?" Even though she's talking, she did not turn around and her face was still facing inward.

Duan Yu replied: "I was riding on Black Rose when I was ambushed on the path by someone who mistook me for Miss. They were calling out some rude names as well. I felt that this does not seem right and had to come back and give a message to Miss."

The girl asked: "What message?" Her voice was clear and beautiful, but her tone of voice was cold without the slightest hint of warmth and unspeakably uncomfortable to the ear. As if she did not care for anything in the world, as if she was filled with hatred for everyone in the world, as if she hoped to be able to kill everyone in the world.

Feeling that she was being rather impolite, Duan Yu wasn't feeling all that great inside. But figuring that since she had fallen into enemy hands and her life hung in the balance, he forgave her for acting a little out of character. He actually felt a bit of sympathy for her as he gently replied: "Those 2 low-lives intended to harm Miss, I was able to avoid their ambush because of the speed of my ride. But I thought Miss might not know that you have enemies coming, so I came running back to report this and urge Miss to leave as soon as possible to avoid the danger. But alas, I was still too late, they are already here."

The girl sneered: "What are you trying to get on my good side and pretending to care?" This made Duan Yu quite angry as he replied much louder than he needed to: "I have never seen Miss before in my life. But how could I not get involved when I know that Miss is in danger? How could Miss say 'trying to get on my good side'?" The girl asked: "Do you know how I am?" Duan Yu replied: "Not at all."

The girl commented: "I heard from LaiFu-Er that even though you don't know any kungfu, you actually dared to go up against and argue with Master of the Valley of 10,000 Calamities to his face. You got some guts, now that you are involved in this mess, what do you plan to do?" Duan Yu was taken aback for a moment before answering: "I had planned to leave as soon as I report this matter to Miss and head straight home." When he got to here, he sighed: "But it looks like Miss is in grave danger, and I'm not much better off either. How did Miss become enemy with this lot anyway?"

The girl in black let out a snicker and said: "What right do you have to ask me?" Duan Yu was taken aback for a moment again and replied: "I shouldn't ask about other people's private business. Alright, I have told you what I wanted, so I don't owe you anything either." The girl in black asked: "You didn't think that you were going to lose your life here did you? Are you regretting coming back?" Noticing that she was obviously mocking him, Duan Yu replied, again, much louder than he needed to: "A real man only hopes to do the right thing in terms of honor and friendship and takes consequences as they come, what's there to regret about?"

The girl in black humphed and replied: "With what little that you can do, you still call yourself a real man?" Duan Yu rebuked: "The measure of a man is not in his kungfu skill. If one's kungfu is the best in the world, but his actions are despicable, then he does not deserve to be call a real man either." The girl in black sneered: "Hehe, you saw something you didn't like and came back to tell me, turns out you were trying to be a real man. Too bad in a bit when you are chopped to pieces by sabres, you probably won't look too much like a real man."

Grandma Ping suddenly cut in: "Little bitch, quit wasting time! Get up and fight!" She banged her daggers together, creating a piercing hum.

The girl in black coldly replied: "You have already lived for so long, what's waiting a couple more minutes to die? How come that old bitch Wang from SuZhou doesn't come and kill me herself if she wanted to but instead send you servants?"

Grandma Rui replied: "Even seeing a noble person like our Madame is out of the question for a little bitch like you. If you know what's good for you, then just go with us and kowtow a couple of times to Madame. Maybe Madame will be merciful and let you keep your life. Don't even think about trying to escape this time, you can't. Where's your master?" The girl in black suddenly shrieked: "My master is behind you!"

Grandma Rui, Grandma Ping, and the rest of the people were all shocked as all of them spun around. There was nobody there.

Seeing that everyone of them fell of it, Duan Yu busted out laughing. Grandma Ping angrily demanded: "What are you laughing at?" Duan Yu managed to get out in between his laughs: "Funny, funny!" Grandma Ping asked further: "What's funny?" Duan Yu replied: "Haha, so funny!" Grandma Ping asked again: "What's so funny?" Duan Yu was still laughing: "Hehe, so funny, so very funny!" Grandma Ping asked yet again: "What's so very funny?" Grandma Rui cut in: "Grandma Ping, just ignore this little bastard!" Turning toward the girl in black, she continued: "Miss, you have ran from just south of the Yangtze all the way to DaLi, and we have chased you all the way here as well. Do you think we can possibly stop this? Even if every single one of us dies by your hand, we still have to somehow bring you back there. Go ahead if you please!"

From her tone of voice, Duan Yu detected that Grandma Rui was rather scared of this girl in black, he was secretly shocked. Looking around at the other 17 or 18 people in the parlor, he noticed that all of them were holding their weapons tightly and looking at her in anger, yet none of them dared to make a move. Grandma Ping was clutching her twin daggers tightly and had walked almost up to the girl's back on a few occasions before hastily retreating.

The girl in black spoke up: "Ay! Messenger Boy, all these people are fighting me, any ideas what I should do?" Duan Yu thought out loud: "Um, Black Rose is right outside, if you can somehow break through them, you can escape riding on the horse. That horse is amazingly fast, there is no way they can catch up to you." The girl in black asked: "Then how about yourself?" Duan Yu replied seriously: "I don't have anything to do with them, no gratitude nor revenge is owed between us; you never know, maybe they would leave me alone."

The girl in black snickered and said: "If they are that reasonable, then they wouldn't gang up on me like this. Your life is gone; if I can escape, got any last wishes that you would like for me to do for you?"

With a tinge of pain in his heart, Duan Yu said: "Your good friend, Miss Zhong, is captured by Divine Farmer Clan in No Measure Mountain. Her mother gave me this box to give to my father and ask him to save her. If... If... Miss can escape, then could you do this for me? I would be indescribably grateful." As he was talking, he walked up and held out the delicate box. When he got to about 1 meter behind her, he was suddenly hit with a sweet fragrance, very much like orchid but not quite and similiar musk but not. Although the fragrance wasn't strong, it was refreshing and sweet, he couldn't help but be dazed when he smelled it.

The girl in black still didn't turn around and asked: "Zhong Ling is very pretty, do you have feelings for her?" Duan Yu immediately replied: "No, no. Miss Zhong is so young and so innocent and pure. How... how I can get that kind of ideas?" The girl in black reached back with her left arm and took the box out of his hand. Duan Yu noticed that she was wearing a very thin black glove so that not a single bit of her skin was exposed. He added: "My father lives in the city of DaLi, you only need...." The girl cut him off: "We can talk about this later." Putting the box inside her shirt, she suddenly said: "The old man named Zhu, get the hell out of my sight!" An old man with white beard asked in a trembling voice: "What did you say?" The girl replied: "Get out of the parlor now, I don't want to kill you today." The old man pointed his sword at her and shouted: "What the hell are you saying?" His voice was still trembling, although it was unclear if it was caused by anger or by fear.

The girl in black replied: "You are not a servant of that Wang bitch, you just got dragged along by those 2 grandmas. This entire trip you have been pretty good to me, those guys kept on trying to take down my mask but you kept on getting in the way. Hmph, you can actually be considered as not deserving to die. So get the hell out of my sight!" The old man's face turned to a dirt color as the point of the sword in his hand slowly began to point lower and lower.

Duan Yu cut in: "Miss, if you want him to leave, then just tell him so, no need to be so impolite. You might anger this gentleman named Zhu." But to his surprise, the old man with the surname of Zhu hesitated for a bit and then looked frightened for a while before he suddenly dropped his sword, turned around, and actually began to run off with his hands covering his face. Just as he was about to push the parlor door open, Grandma Ping flicked her right hand, and a dagger came flying out, hitting him smack in the middle of his back. The old man fell down and crawl several of meters more on the ground before he finally stopped moving.

Furious, Duan Yu shouted: "Hey, fat grandma, this old gentleman was one of you guys! Why did you have to do that to him?"

Grandma Ping took out another dagger from her waist with her right hand and, with a dagger in both hands, stared at the girl in black, as if she didn't hear what Duan Yu said at all. All the people in that parlor had took a couple of steps forward as they were all prepared to pounce at the slightest provocation or command.

Seeing such a scene, Duan Yu was overwhelmed with indignation as he shouted: "All of you guys, what do you think you are doing ganging up against a completely unarmed girl?" He charged up a few steps, got between the girl and the others, and shouted: "Let's see which one of you dares to do something now!" Even though he didn't know a lick of kungfu, this type of righteousness still carried quite a mighty and intimidating air with it.

Seeing how fearless he was, Grandma Rui couldn't help but wonder if this young man wasn't pretending that he didn't know any kungfu then he must have someone very powerful behind him. She was following her orders when she came all the way from just south of the Yangtze to here in DaLi to capture this girl in black, so she was unfamiliar with local customs or people and did not want to make any enemies. So she actually sounded very polite when she said: "Why must sir meddle in this matter?" Duan Yu replied: "That's right, I won't allow you people to unfairly gang up on her." Grandma Rui asked: "What sect or clan does sir belong to? And what is sir's relationship with this little bitch? Who's order are you following, coming here and getting in the middle of all this?"

Duan Yu shook his head: "I have never met this girl before. But everything in this world still has to be measure in terms of reason. I urge everyone to stop all this nonsense when the time comes. All these people ganging up against one single girl isn't all that glorious is it?" He then whispered: "Run Miss! I'll try and stop them somehow."

The girl in black whispered back: "You are giving your life away for me, sure you won't regret it?" Duan Yu replied: "No regrets of any kind." The girl asked again: "Aren't you scared to die?" Duan Yu sighed: "Of course I'm scared, but... but...."

The girl in black suddenly yelled: "You're not even strong enough to kill a chicken, why pretend to be a hero?" She suddenly flicked her right arm as 2 colorful strips of cloth shot out and grabbed a hold Duan Yu's legs. Suddenly seeing her attacking Duan Yu shocked Grandma Rui, Grandma Ping, and everyone else present. While they were still recovering from their shock, the girl in black flicked her left arm repeatedly. "Dong", "Feng", "Bang" was all Duan Yu could hear as he thought he saw people fall down and the reflections off of blades flashed into his eyes before all the candle-light in the parlor was put out and darkness descended. Then he felt himself flying.

All this change came too fast as he could not make out where he was. But all around him was screams: "Don't let her get away!" "Watch out for her poison arrows!" "Let loose your daggers! Let loose your daggers!" What followed was sounds of metal clanking before his body suddenly took off again and there were hoof beats. He was on the back of a horse, but his arms and legs were tied up and he couldn't move. There was someone leaning up against his back. There was a faint fragrance in the air, the fragrance that belonged to the girl in black. The hoof beats were light and steady as the sounds of shouting got further and further away. Black Rose was entirely black and the girl was wearing only black, so they just disappeared in the darkness of the night; the only sign of them was the faint fragrance permeating through the air, adding a feel of mystery to them.

After Black Rose ran for a while, the shouting could not be heard anymore. Only then did Duan Yu spoke up: "Miss, I didn't expect you to be so amazing, can I get off now?" The girl humphed but did not reply. Duan Yu's arms and legs were bounded very tightly and it felt as if they were getting tighter with every step Black Rose takes, causing more and more pain. On top of that his foot was above his head as he was lying sideways on the horse, making him feeling dazed and very uncomfortable. He had to speak up again: "Miss, let me down!"

"Pa"! The girl suddenly slapped him hard on his cheek. Coldly, she commanded: "Shut up! Do not talk unless spoken to!" In anger, Duan Yu asked: "Why?" "Pa, Pa!" He was slapped twice more, this time even harder than the first one, so much so that his right ear was ringing.

Duan Yu shouted: "How dare you hit people for no reason! Put me down, I don't want to be with you!" Suddenly his body flew out again and smack onto the ground. But his arms and legs were still tied and the other end was still in the girl's hands. Duan Yu was being pulled along the ground by Black Rose.

The girl in black quietly give a little command and Black Rose slowed down a bit. She then asked: "Give up? Willing to obey my commands now?"

Duan Yu shouted back: "No! No way! Never! Just a little bit ago I was about to die and I wasn't even afraid then. This little torture from you, what have I... I...." He was going to say "what have I got to be scared of?" But right at that time he just happened to be pulled into 2 little dirt mounds on the road; after those 2 little mounds, there was no way he could have finished his sentence.

The girl in black mocked: "How about now"? She gave the piece of cloth a pull and pulled him onto the horse again. Finally, Duan Yu was able to say: "What have I got to be scared of? Nothing! I don't like being pulled around by you!" The girl humphed and replied: "How dare you talk in front of me? If I want to torture you, then it would be to the point where you don't know if you are alive or dead anymore, nothing like this weak stuff!" She flicked her left arm and threw him back onto the ground again.

Furious, Duan Yu thought to himself: "So it turns out there was a good reason that those people were calling you 'little bitch'!" He shouted at her: "If you don't stop now, then I'm going to start saying some unpleasant stuff!" The girl asked: "If you dare then go ahead. I have been cursed at too many times in my life to care." Duan Yu noticed a hint of sadness in what she said, so he didn't have the heart to make himself utter the words 'little bitch' which were on the tip of his tongue.

After a little bit of waiting, the girl in black, noticing that he hadn't said anything, spoke up: "Hmph! Figured you wouldn't dare to curse at me!"

Duan Yu replied: "I pitied you and couldn't bring myself to curse at you, not like I was afraid or anything!"

The girl gave a little command to urge the horse to run faster and Black Rose began to gallop. Now Duan Yu was in for it, his face, arms, and legs were just covered with blood from cuts and scratches from rocks and stones on the path by the time the girl shouted: "Give up?" Duan Yu shouted at the top of his lungs: "You evil witch!" The girl shouted back: "I have been a witch all along, no need for you to remind me, didn't you know?"

Duan Yu yelled back: “I… I… was so… was so… so nice towards you….” But suddenly his hand ran smack into a rock that was jutting out of the ground and he fainted. After who knows how much time, he suddenly felt coolness around his head, causing him to wake up and swallow a mouthful of water. He immediately closed his mouth but couldn’t help but cough from the water, causing even more water to enter his mouth and nose. Turns out that he was still being pulled by the horse, only that the girl noticed that he had fainted and dragged him across a small creek so that the cold water could wake him up. Luckily this creek was rather narrow and soon he was out of it. Duan Yu was in torture, his cloths were soaked through, the water he swallowed was making him feel bloated, and then his body was covered with cuts. The girl spoke up: “Give up?” Duan Yu thought to himself: “There are actually this kind of unreasonable woman in the world? It must be destined that I, Duan Yu, would suffer in her hands; if that’s the case, then there is really no need to say anything more to her.” The girl asked several more time: “Give up? Had enough yet?” Duan Yu did not reply at all and just pretended as if he didn’t hear her. The girl began losing her patience: “Are you deaf? Why aren’t you answering me?” Duan Yu still did not reply. The girl pulled her horse to a stop and turned around to see if he was conscious. By now dawn was drawing near and there were hints of light from the east. But her eyes were huge as they stared at him in anger: “Oh! So you are conscious but were pretending to be dead! Well if we are going to fight then let’s fight fair and square and see who is more powerful!” She jumped down off her horse and, with a light little flick, grabbed a small branch off a tree and smacked Duan Yu’s face with it.

This was the first time Duan Yu was face to face with her. Her face was entirely covered with a black mask and all he could see was her eyes, a pair of bright and shiny eyes. Duan Yu smiled and mused: “Well of course you are more powerful. You are an evil witch, like there is anybody in the world who is more powerful?”

The girl spoke up: “Didn’t think you can still smile! What are you smiling at?” Duan Yu made a face at her and smiled some more. “Pa, Pa, Pa, Pa!” The girl smacked him 7 or 8 more times with the branch. Duan Yu had already resigned to his fate so he didn’t care anymore and, with all his might and effort, kept on smiling. Now the girl wasn’t holding anything back and the branches were hitting the most painful places on his body, he almost yelped several times but somehow managed to hold it all back in.

Seeing how stubborn he was, the girl was even more furious: “Alright, you like being a deaf-mute, then I’ll grant your wish and make you a real deaf-mute!” She reached into her shirt and grabbed a dagger out. The dagger was about 15 centimeters long and looked sharp and intimidating. She took several steps towards him, placed the dagger by his left ear, and asked menacingly: “Did you hear what I said? Do you want to keep this ear or not?” Seeing that Duan Yu was still not replying, a murderous look suddenly appeared in her eyes as she raised the dagger and brought it down toward his ear.

In a panic, Duan Yu shouted: “Hey, hey, hey! Are you for real? This would make me go deaf in that ear, do you know how to cure that?” The girl replied: “Pei! I can kill people and make them come back to life! Don’t believe me? Then let’s give it a try!” Duan Yu immediately replied: “I believe you, I believe you! No need to try it out.”

Seeing that he finally spoke up, the girl felt as she has won and decided to stop torturing him. So she picked him up and put him on to the back of the horse and then jumped on behind him. This time she actually put him with his head up and foot down, giving him a little special treatment. Even though he wasn't upside down anymore, his hands and legs were still tightly bounded. But compared to the upside down position he was in earlier, this was heaven, so he did not dare to say anything to the girl in fear of upsetting her.

After travelling for more than an hour, Duan Yu was starting to get impatient about the fact that his hands were still tied. But he could not gesture to the girl because his hands were tied together, and he couldn't come up with a appropriate gesture even if his hands were free. So he had to speak up: "I have to go, could miss please kindly untie me?" The girl replied: "Oh! So you are not a mute anymore are you? Why are you talking to me now?" Duan Yu replied, quite frankly: "I can't help it and wouldn't dare to shame miss. Miss smells so good, but if I proceed to become "Stinky", wouldn't that really make this ride less enjoyable?" The girl could not help but let out a little peal of laughter. Figuring he has had enough, she cut loose the rope that was tied around his hands and legs and began to walk off.

After being tied up for so long, Duan Yu's arms and legs went numb a long time ago and he could not move at all. All he could do for a while was roll around on the ground before he could finally stand up. After taking care of his business, he noticed that Black Rose was just standing there eating grass, looking just as tame and obedient as can be. He thought: "What are you waiting for? Run!" So he secretly got onto the saddle as Black Rose did not show the least bit of resistance. With one jerk of the reins, the horse started to gallop northward.

Hearing hoofbeats, the girl came chasing after them. But with Black Rose's blazing speed, the girl wouldn't have been able to chase them down no matter how great her Qing Gong was. Duan Yu turned around, cupped his fist, and saluted: "Miss, we will meet again!" Just in the time he said those words, Black Rose put another 50 or so meters between them. The next time he turned around, the girl was already not in sight. Finally escaping from the clutches of this devious girl, he could not feel any happier as he continually urged on: "Good horsey, good horsey! Faster, faster!"

After running for a bit, Duan Yu calculated: "So that's a day wasted, am I still able to save Miss Zhong in time? No choice left but keep on running without stopping for food or sleep. Wonder if Black Rose could hold up?" He was still pondering that question when suddenly there came a loud and clear whistle from behind.

When Black Rose heard the whistle, she immediately turned around and started running back. Shocked, Duan Yu began to beg: "Good horsey, nice horsey! Don't go back!" He pulled on the reins as hard as he could trying to make Black Rose turn around. But even when her head was pulled almost sideways, Black Rose was still running forward, not listening to his commands at all.

In a blink of an eye, Black Rose had returned to the girl in black's side and stopped. Duan Yu wasn't sure if he felt like crying or laughing as he just sat there completely speechless with a peculiar expression on his face. Coldly, the girl said: "I didn't really want to kill you, but even if I don't count the fact that you ran away on your own, there is still the fact that you stole my horse! How do you count yourself as a real man?"

Duan Yu jumped off the horse and replied back with all the aplomb of someone who knew he was in the right: "I'm not your slave, I can leave and go whenever I want, how could you call that 'run away'? You lent me Black Rose earlier, I haven't given her back yet, so that can't be counted as stealing either. If you want to kill then go right ahead. ZenZi said: 'Reversing thyself, millions of men can't do, tis enlightenment!' I came back by myself, so of course I'm a real man!"

The girl replied: "What are you talking about? Even if you reverse thyself I'm still going to poke a hole in you with my sword!" Obviously not understanding what he said, she grabbed the handle of her sword and pulled it out halfway: "How dare you do that? Think I can't kill you? Is that why you are being so hardheaded and fighting me every step of the way?"

Duan Yu rebuked: "I have done nothing wrong towards Miss in my heart, who is the one being stubborn and antagonistic here?"

The girl stared at him with that icy stare of hers and Duan Yu stared back right back at her without the slightest hint of backing off in his stare. The 2 of them stood there staring at each other for a long time before the girl finally slammed her sword completely back into the sheath and commanded: "Go away! You can temporarily keep that head of yours for me to take whenever I feel like it in the future." Duan Yu had already figured that he was going to die and was hugely surprised that she would let him go. Still in shock, he did not say another word and started to limp off because of the numbness that was still in his legs.

After walking for several dozen meters, he still did not hear any hoofbeats; so he turned around and saw that the girl was still standing there in a trance. He figured: "She's probably thinking about how to get me next time, like what a cat does to a mouse. Only when she had enough fun with me will she finally kill me. Alright, it's not like I can escape anyway, whatever happens happens." Surprisingly, after walking for a long time, he still did not hear any hoofbeats.

After walking through several forks in the road, he began to feel safer and safer. Because of that, he began to notice the pain from all the scratches and bumps on his body. He mused: "Such weird moods that girl has, maybe it's because her parents died when she was little and she had to endure all kinds of stuff in her life... maybe it's because she is indescribably ugly, to the point that she could not face others. Either way she is a tragic character. Ai-yo! That golden box that Madame Zhong gave me is still on her!" But he did not dare to even think about going back and getting it from her, so he figured: "When I finally meet father, I'll just promise him that I'll be willing to learn kungfu and, without a doubt, father would be willing to go save Miss Zhong, even if my dad doesn't go himself, he would just send some people to do it for her. That golden box really doesn't have much use now that I think about it. Pity that I don't have a ride anymore, if I try to walk to DaLi like this, more likely than not I would just die from that poison before I even get there. Miss Zhong is probably about to die from waiting for me to go save her. When she sees that I hadn't returned and her father did not come and save her, she would probably figure that I didn't deliver my message to her. The least I should do is somehow make it back to No Measure Mountain and die with her, that way at least she would know that I did not betray her."

Now that he made up his mind, he immediately looked around to figure out which direction No Measure Mountain was and began walking in that direction. The banks of LanCang River were desolate, he did not see or meet any signs of human life for several kilometers. The entire day he had to resort to eating wild fruits and sleeping in a ditch on the side of a hill.

It was in the afternoon the next day when he crossed another iron-chained bridge and crossed LanCang River again. Afterwards he walked for another 20 or so kilometers and finally reached a little town. All the money he had were lost a long time ago, probably when he fell down the cliff. Noticing that his clothing were just absolutely ruined and feeling very hungry, he suddenly remembered that the piece of jade that was on his hat was valuable, so he tore it down and went to the pawn shop in town. The pawn shop was not an ideal place to exchange jewelry, but this was the only decent pawn shop in town. The shopkeeper did not treat Duan Yu condescendingly because he acted rather wealthy despite his appearence. Still, he did not understand a thing about jade and was only willing to offer 2 taels of silver for it. Duan Yu did not bother with arguing and took his offer. He wanted to go buy some new clothes, but there wasn't a place in town that sells clothing so he found a little restaurant and ordered some food.

As he sat down, he noticed that both of his kneecaps were protruding out of holes in his pants and that the front and back of his robe were torn off; not to mention that there was a hole in the back of his pants, revealing much of his behind, which was feeling very cold sitting on the bench. He mused: "This is really quite impolite to be like this, best to take care of this as soon as possible." The waiter brought the dishes to his table and said: "So sorry, but we don't have any meat or fish today. Please forgive us, here is some vegetable and tofu to go down with the rice." Duan Yu replied as he brought the bowl of rice up to his mouth: "It's alright, it's alright." He had been wearing the best of clothes and eating the best of foods all his life. But because he hadn't eaten anything for days, this little meal of rice and vegetables was one of the best he ever had in his life.

By the time he made it to the third bowl, he suddenly heard someone outside saying: "Dear, there's a little restaurant here, let's see what they have." A girl replied with a laugh: "What kind of look is that to give me? Looks like you haven't eaten in days."

The voices were strangely familiar to Duan Yu before he suddenly realized that they belonged to Gan GuangHao of No Measure Mountain and his Sister Ge. Panicking, he immediately turned so he faced inward, thinking: "'Dear'? Hm, they must have gotten married. It is just like that saying, this Brother Gan here gained a wife, now I'm going to get it."

Gan GuangHao laughed and replied: "Newly weds can never get enough of anything, including food." That Sister Ge laughed and replied in a light voice: "Pei! You are so bad! If we were old, then we would be full all the time?" Her voice was filled with tenderness. The 2 of them walked in the restaurant and sat down. Gan GuangHao shouted at the top of his lungs: "Waiter, bring some wine and rice, and then cook us a dish of beef... eh!"

Duan Yu heard footsteps approaching from behind followed by a huge hand slapping him on the shoulder and turning him around. Suddenly, he was staring straight at Gan GuangHao's face and vice versa. Forcing a smile, Duan Yu said: "Brother Gan, Sister Gan, congratulations. Wish you 2 would live for a 100 years and grow old together, bringing the East and West Factions of No Measure Sword together as one."

Gan GuangHao busted out laughing as he turned around and shot a glance at Sister Ge. Duan Yu followed his eyesight and saw that Sister Ge had an egg shaped face with a couple of blemishes on her left cheek. She was somewhat attractive, but the expression on her face was one of murder as she lowered her voice and instructed: "Get to the bottom of this, find out how he got here and are there anybody from No Measure Sword around here?"

The smile on Gan GuangHao's face immediately disappeared as he viciously demanded: "Did you hear what my dear said to you? Well?" Duan Yu calculated: "If I just make up some stuff, maybe I'll scare the bejesus out of them and they'll runaway without killing me." So he said: "There were 4 elder disciples from your sect hurriedly walking by just a bit earlier with swords in hand. They were heading east, as if they were chasing someone or something."

Gan GuangHao was shocked as he turned around to Sister Ge: "Let's go!" That Sister Ge stood up and made a chop motion with her right hand. Gan GuangHao nodded, pulled out his sword, and swung it down towards the middle of Duan Yu's head.

This move was so quick that even though Duan Yu, knowing that things weren't looking up the moment he saw Sister Ge's gesture, ducked as soon as he saw the gesture, he still could not get out of the way. Just as it looked as if the blade was touching his skin, there suddenly came a light sound of something flying through the air as Gan GuangHao fell backwards, dropping the sword onto the ground. Another sound followed quickly and Sister Ge, who was halfway out of the door when she heard Gan GuangHao's groan, did not even have a chance to turn before collapsing onto the ground. The 2 of them twitched around for a bit on the ground before becoming motionless. There was a small black arrow stuck in Gan GuangHao's throat and that Sister Ge was hit on the back of her head. As for those 2 light sounds, they were precisely the sound of the projectiles that the girl in black used last night had made.

In shock and surprise, Duan Yu turned around, but there was nobody behind him. Then he heard a slight horse neigh outside and saw that girl slowly approaching on the Black Rose.

Duan Yu shouted before shooting out of the door: "Thank you so much for saving me!" The girl did not even look at him as she and her horse kept on trotting along. Duan Yu added: "If you hadn't shot out those 2 arrows, this head of mine would have been disconnected from my neck a long time ago." The girl still did not respond.

The owner of that little restaurant came running out shouting: "Mi... Mister, some... someone has been killed!" Duan Yu suddenly realized: "Ai-yo! I haven't paid!" He was just about to reach for the silver when he noticed that Black Rose was already several meters away, so he shouted: "There are some money on the dead people, they were paying everyone because they just married, just take some!" He turned around and went chasing after the girl.

Having the horse walking slowly, the girl soon was out of the town. Duan Yu, trying to keep up, spoke up: "Miss, why don't you be a good person all the way to the end, you know: "Send Buddha all the way to the West." Why don't you go save Miss Zhong with me?" The girl replied coldly: "Zhong Ling is my friend, I was going to go save her anyway. But what I hate most is people begging me. You are begging me to go save her, so I won't!" Duan Yu immediately tried to retract what he said: "Alright, alright, I won't beg Miss to." The girl replied: "But you already begged me." Duan Yu replied: "What I just said didn't count." The girl rebuked: "Hmph, a real man can't go back on his words!"

Duan Yu thought to himself: "Before I always called myself a real man in front of her, seems like she doesn't like that. Oh well, to save Miss Zhong, I guess I can't be a real man anymore." So he said: "I'm not a real man, I... I'm a small, pitiful bug who was saved by Miss."

The girl let out a peal of laughter and sized him up for a bit before saying: "Well you are quite nice towards that little devil. Last night you were willing to give up your life to be a real man, but now you were willing to be a little bug. Hmph, I'm not going!"

Panicking, Duan Yu asked: "Wh... What's that for?" The girl replied: "My master told me that all men in this world are evil, all they do is lie and not one of them have good intentions in their hearts. So I shouldn't listen or trust a single sentence from a man." Duan Yu replied: "That's not always true, like... like...." He couldn't come up with an example on the spot, so he just said: "Like Miss's father, now he must have been a great man!" The girl rebuked: "My master told me that my father was not a good man."

Duan Yu suddenly noticed that she had just urged Black Rose to walk faster so much so that he was having a difficult time keeping up, so he shouted: "Miss, please wait up!"

Suddenly there was a flash of shadows and 4 figures jumped out from the woods on the side of the road, blocking the way. Black Rose immediately stopped and took 2 steps back. All 4 of them were young girls, their clothing were all jade green and both of them had a hook-like sword in each hand. The one in the middle demanded: "You 2 are Gan GuangHao and Ge GuangPei of No Measure Sword, right?"

Duan Yu replied: "No, not at all. Gan GuangHao and Miss... Mrs. Ge already... already...." The girl cut him off: "Already? Already what? A pair of male and female, young, traveling together, you 2 are obviously running away or eloping. How could you not be those 2 traitors from No Measure Sword?" With a laugh, Duan Yu replied: "Miss, that seems to be stretching it a bit don't you think? Ge GuangPei has some blemishes on her face, but Miss here is pretty like the flower and the moon. Big, big difference." The girl turned to the girl in black and demanded: "Take off your mask!"

The girl in black suddenly shot out 4 arrows. "Zeng," "Zeng!" Two of the girls in green knocked the 2 of the arrows down with the hook-like sabre they had in hand while the other 2 girls were hit and down onto the ground. These 4 arrows came out of nowhere, without the slightest of warning, and were flying at an amazing speed, yet 2 of them still were knocked out of the air. The girl in black immediately hopped off the horse. With her sword already pulled out by the time she landed, she stepped forward with her right foot as soon as her left foot landed and made 2 moves, attacking the 2 girls who were still standing. The 2 girls also jumped forth and began attacking, one of them fighting the girl in black while the other turned her sabre toward Duan Yu.

"Ai-yo!" Duan Yu screamed before scrambling underneath Black Rose's belly. Not expecting that he would pull such an unorthodox move, the girl was taken aback for a split second. Just as she recovered as was getting ready to stab Duan Yu, a pain suddenly shot up her back and she collapsed immediately. Turned out that the girl in black caught her with another arrow in that little opening. But because of this little bit of distraction caused by shooting out another arrow, the girl in black was also hit by the hook-like sabre on her left shoulder. With a loud tearing sound, the hook at the end of the sabre hooked onto her sleeve and tore off half of the sleeve, revealing a snow-white shoulder. There was a half-meter long cut on her shoulder, which immediately began gushing blood.

The girl in black tried to counter with her sword, but the girl in green's kung fu was superb and the twin hooked-sabres in her hand were dancing as her moves were fast and clever. Soon, the girl in black's left leg was hit as well, tearing open her trouser leg. The girl in black countered by launching 2 more arrows, both of which were knocked down by the hooked-sabres. The girl in green demanded several times: "Who are you? Your sword techniques aren't those of No Measure Sword's, who are you?" The girl in black did not reply as her moves sped up. Suddenly she let out a little yelp as her sword was caught in between hooks of the twin hooked-sabres. The girl in green turned her wrist, the girl in black could not keep her grip on the sword as she had to let go and immediately jump back in defense. The girl in green quickly followed with several thrusts of her hooked-sabres, all of which were dodged by the girl in black.

Duan Yu had started to panic a long time ago, but he couldn't do anything except look on. But now, seeing that the girl in black was in grave danger, all coherent thought went out of his head as he grabbed a corpse that was lying on the ground. Grabbing the stomach of the body with both hands, he turned it into a huge battering ram and charged toward the girl in green.

Startled, the girl in green suddenly noticed that the thing that was coming at her was her sister's head. As a wave of bitter sadness washed over her, she swung at Duan Yu's face with the hooked-sabre in her right hand. But with an entire corpse in between them, the move came up about 1/4 of a meter short. "Bang!" The head of the corpse hit her squarely in the chest, it was also at that precise moment when a small arrow shot into her right eye, causing her to collapse onto the ground.

Out of the corner of his eye, Duan Yu saw that the girl was half-kneeling on her left knee, so he shouted: "Miss, are... are you alright?" He ran over and tried to help her up. The girl slowly stood up and was immediately startled because, in a panic, Duan Yu had forgotten to put down the corpse. So here he was, running at the girl with a head of a corpse aimed straight at her chest. The girl gave the corpse a push on its head and, with a shout, Duan Yu fell backwards, the corpse neatly landing on top of him.

Seeing the peculiar position that Duan Yu was in, the girl could not help but let out a bit of laugh. Then she began to worry, knowing that she was in grave danger just a moment ago. If she had not killed 2 of them using surprise right off and gotten Duan Yu's help, she probably couldn't even defeat one of the girls. Where did these 4 girls come from? How come their kungfu was so good? She turned to Duan Yu: "Hey, dummy, what are you doing with a corpse?"

Duan Yu got back up and put down the corpse: "Terrible, just terrible. Ay! So sorry. You took us for someone else, all you had to do was ask us politely and all of this would have been cleared up. But you had to talk all that nonsense, causing Miss here to get mad. Miss, actually you didn't really need to kill, wouldn't it have been better if you just took your mask off and let them see?"

The girl angrily rebuked: "Shut up! I don't need to listen to you! Who told them to call us e... elo... whatever!" Duan Yu replied: "Yes, yes of course. They were definitely wrong to suggest what they suggested. But Miss, you didn't have to kill them. Ah! You... you better wrap your wounds up a little." He just caught a glimpse of her snow white thighs because her pants were ripped, not daring to look at it anymore, he immediately turned his head the other way.

Getting tired of hearing him telling her she should not have killed, the girl was just about to slap him again when he suddenly mentioned her wounds. Immediately she began to feel the pain from her wounds on her arm and leg, luckily the wounds were not deep and were not to the bone. So she immediately applied some blood-clotter and bandaged her wounds up using cloth she tore from the corpse's clothing. Duan Yu, meanwhile, moved all the bodies into a pile of hay and said: "I should dig a grave for you, but I don't have a hoe or a shovel. Ay! Misses were so young, although all of you aren't that pretty, but you weren't ugly either...."

Hearing him talk about their looks, the girl was reminded of something: "Hey! How do you know that I don't have blemishes on my face and is pretty like a flower or the moon or whatever?" Duan Yu smiled: "Of course, that goes without saying." The girl replied: "What do you mean of course?" Duan Yu replied: "Of course, means that it could only be like that." The girl rebuked: "Whatever! You couldn't even dream of what I look like, my face is covered with pots and blemishes!" Duan Yu smiled: "Maybe, maybe not."

The girl suddenly realized that it could be a problem that her sleeve and pants were ripped. So she took a robe off of one of the bodies and put it on. "Ai-yo!" Duan Yu shouted as he suddenly remembered the huge holes he had on the back of his pants. How could he be travelling with a girl with a bare butt? He immediately begin walking backwards; making sure he didn't turn his butt towards the girl in black, he also took a robe off of a body and put it on. The girl let out a peal of laughter. Duan Yu blushed so much that even the base of his ear was red thinking about the hole that was on his pants and what that meant.

The girl pulled out her arrows out from the bodies and placed them back inside her shirt, and then added a couple of kicks onto the body of that girl that injured her.

Duan Yu suggested: "Miss, your arrows seal up the victim's throats as soon as the poison enters the blood. Such powerful and devious poison. I urge Miss not to use it ever again unless you have no other choice. To kill is against the way of heaven, if...." The girl cut him off: "If you talk anymore nonsense, I'll give you a taste of this poison." With a flick of her right arm and a sound of arrow piercing the air, a poison arrow flew past barely past Duan Yu and stuck into the ground.

His face white as a sheet, Duan Yu dared not say a thing. The girl continued: "Let's see if you can still talk nonsense after the poison sealed up your throat!" She reached for another arrow and flicked her arm again. Duan Yu was scared out of his wits and docked.

With a little laugh, the girl put the arrow back into her shirt and gave him a mean looking stare: "You look like a girl with this robe on. Put the hood up. That way if we run into anyone else, they wouldn't say we are el... that are a man and a woman." Duan Yu nodded, took the bandana off his head, placed it inside his shirt, put up the hood, and pulled it down over most of his face. The girl let out a hearty laugh at the sight.

Hearing her sweet and innocent laugh, Duan Yu mused: "From her actions and expressions, you would figure that she's younger than me. Then why is she so cruel and murderous?" He looked up and saw that on the front of her robe was sewn a black vulture. The vulture had its head help up high, looking very proud and powerful, the exact same vulture was on his robe as well. He shook his head and sighed: "Girls actually having this on their robes rather than flowers or butterflies. Ay! Such demeanors."

The girl shot him a look: "Are you mocking me!" Duan Yu immediately replied: "No, no, not at all, I wouldn't dare!" The girl probed further: "So what's your answer? 'No' or 'Wouldn't dare'?" Duan Yu replied: "I wouldn't dare." The girl nodded and did not ask any further.

Duan Yu turned around and asked her: "Are you hurt bad? Do you want to rest a bit?" The girl angrily replied: "Of course it hurts! Let me take a couple of swipes on you and you can see for yourself!" Duan Yu thought to himself: "Well, epitome of bitchness." The girl continued: "Are you really worried that my wounds are hurting? There isn't a man in the world that's this nice. You just want me to go save Zhong Ling as quickly as possible, just that you can't say it out loud. Heh, let's go!" She walked to Black Rose's side and hopped on. Pointing northwest, she asked: "Sword Lake Palace of No Measure Mountain is in that direction right?" Duan Yu replied: "I guess, seems like it."

The 2 of them started to slowly walk in that direction. After a while, the girl suddenly asked: "Who's birthdate was that inside of the golden box?" Duan Yu thought: "So you have opened it up already." "I don't know," he replied. "It's Zhong Ling's," the girl said. "Isn't it?" Duan Yu answered: "I really don't know." The girl angrily demanded: "You are still lying. Madame Zhong has already matched Zhong Ling to you hasn't she? Tell me the truth!" Duan Yu, in a panic, replied: "No, she really hasn't. If I, Duan Yu, am lying, then I will die by your arrows this instant."

"So your name is Duan Yu?" Duan Yu replied: "Yeah, 'Yu' as in 'ming yu', famed name." The girl snorted: "Hmph, is your fame any good? I don't think so." Duan Yu replied with a laugh: "Well the 'ming yu ting huai', name is terrible, is this one also." The girl replied: "That's more like it!" Duan Yu naturally asked: "So what is Miss's surname?" The girl rebuked: "Why should I tell you? You told me your name on your own, I didn't ask you."

After another long stretch of silent walking, the girl spoke up again: "Later on after we saved Zhong Ling, that little devil will surely tell me my name, you are not allowed to hear it!" Trying hard not to burst out laughing, Duan Yu replied: "Alright, I won't hear it." The girl seemed to have felt that this matter was a bit hard to accomplish, so she added: "Even if you did hear it, you are not allowed to remember it!" Duan Yu offered: "Alright, even if I do happen to remember, I would try my hardest to forget it." The girl rebuked: "Pei! You are lying, think I can't tell?"

Through all this talking, the sky slowly turned dark and soon the moon rose from the east. The 2 of them hurried along the path under the moonlight. Around 10, Duan Yu suddenly saw a bonfire in the mountainside facing them, at the base of the peak just north of the bonfire was several large buildings. Recognizing that's the Sword Lake Palace, Duan Yu pointed at the bonfire and said: "Divine Farmer Clan is right over there. Let's sneak up on them, grab Zhong Ling and run. How about that?"

Coldly, the girl asked: "And how exactly do we run away?" Duan Yu replied: "You and Zhong Ling would ride on Black Rose, there's no way that Divine Farmer Clan can catch up to you." The girl asked: "Then what about you?" Duan Yu replied: "I was forced to take the Intestine Fragmenter by the Divine Farmer Clan, SiKong Xuan told me that after 7 days the poison would break out and I would die. So I have to somehow get the cure first before I can run away."

The girl observed: "So you were poisoned by them. Then you should be in a hurry to get the cure, why did you come back to deliver me a message?" Duan Yu replied: "I figured that with Black Rose's speed, reporting that message wouldn't take much time at all." The girl was puzzled: "Are you really that nice? Or are you just an idiot?" Duan Yu laughed: "Mostly likely half and half."

The girl humphed at that remark and asked: "So how are you going to get the cure?" Duan Yu thought out loud: "The original agreement was the cure of Lightning's poison for the cure for the Intestine Fragmenter. They are not going to get the cure to Lightning's poison, so it would be very difficult to trick them into giving me the cure for the Intestine Fragmenter. Miss, do you have any ideas?" The girl rebuked: "Only men knows how to trick people, I don't know how to. I'm going to just ask them straightforward to hand over Zhong Ling and the cure or else!"

A wave of coldness shot through Duan Yu's heart, knowing that she's probably going to start killing big time again, he thought: "It's best if... best if...." But exactly was the best outcome, he had no idea at all.

The 2 of them began walking towards the fire. When they got to about 20 meters away from it, 2 men suddenly jumped out of the darkness with a bag of drugs in hand, ready to throw. One of them demanded: "Who is it? What are you doing here?"

The girl demanded in return: "Where's SiKong Xuan? Tell him to come here!"

In the moonlight, the 2 men noticed that the girl and Duan Yu were both wearing a green robe with a black vulture on their chest. The 2 of them were shocked and immediately kneeled down: "Yes, yes of course! We did not know that Holy Emissaries from the Nimble Vulture Palace would be arriving, so... so sorry for getting in your way, please forgive us." His voice was shaking, as if he was scared to death.

Duan Yu was immensely puzzled: "What emissary from Nimble Vulture Peak?" Then he suddenly understood: "Oh! That's right! They are thinking we are somebody else because we have this green robe on!" Then he remembered that several days ago back in the Sword Lake Palace Zhong Ling said that she overheard SiKong Xuan talking with his underlings, saying something about following orders from Kid Elder of Heaven Mountain of Nimble Vulture Palace to come and take over Sword Lake Palace of No Measure Mountain. "So it turns out that Divine Farmer Clan is a subsidiary of Nimble Vulture Palace, no wonder these 2 men are so scared."

Of course, the girl did not understand what's going on, so she asked: "What Nim...." Afraid that she might expose the 2 of them, Duan Yu raised the pitch of his voice and said: "Get SiKong Xuan here now!" The 2 men replied: "Yes, yes, right away!" They immediately stood up and took a couple of steps backwards before finally turning around and starting to run toward the fire.

Duan Yu whispered to the girl: "Nimble Vulture Palace are their superiors." He put up the face mask of the hood and covered the bottom half of his face, leaving only his eyes visible.

The girl was about to ask something else but was cut off because SiKong Xuan had hurried arrived and said out loud: "Your humble servant SiKong Xuan welcome the Holy Emissaries. Please forgive us for not welcoming you earlier. How is the Kid Elder? May she live for 10,000 years!"

Duan Yu was thinking to himself: "Who's Kid Elder? She isn't the king or the mother of the king, so wishing her to live 10,000 years just doesn't seem right does it?" So he just nodded and replied: "Get up." SiKong Xuan kowtowed twice more before standing back up. By this time there was a huge crowd of people behind him, all of them in the Divine Farmer Clan.

{Note: in ancient China, it was custom to bless the Emperor and only the Emperor with a 10,000 year life-span and any other member of the royal family with a 1000 year life-span. To wish that upon anyone other than royalty or to wish a different life-span to royalty was almost treason.}

Duan Yu spoke up: "Where's that girl from the Zhong family? Bring her here!" Two clan members didn't even wait for their master to issue the orders before dashing towards the fire and carrying Zhong Ling over. Duan Yu ordered: "Untie her." SiKong Xuan answered: "Yes, Miss." He pulled out a dagger and cut loose the rope around Zhong Ling's hands and legs. Seeing her still doing very well and unharmed, Duan Yu could barely contain himself as he had to force himself to maintain the high pitch of his voice when he said: "Zhong Ling, come here." Zhong Ling replied: "Who are you?" SiKong Xuan shouted at her: "How dare you be so rude in front of the Holy Emissaries? She told you to go over there!" Zhong Ling figured: "Who cares who the hell you are, you told him to untie me and this old Goat Beard is so scared of you, so there shouldn't be much harm in doing what you told me." So she walked over to Duan Yu.

Duan Yu reached out with her left hand, took her hand into his, and pulled her over to his side. He squeezed her hand and made a gesture to her, but figuring that she probably wouldn't understand, he turned to SiKong Xuan: "Hand over the cure for Intestine Fragmenter!"

SiKong Xuan wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he still ordered: "Bring my medicine box! Hurry, hurry!" With a little pause, he immediately understood: "Ai-yo! That bastard named Duan must have gone and begged these emissaries, that's why they are asking for the cure." When the medicine box arrived, he opened it up and took out a small bottle. Holding it up respectfully, he said: "This medicine needs to be taken for 3 straight days, once each day, and about a gram or so each time." Happy beyond words, Duan Yu took it.

Zhong Ling suddenly spoke up: "Hey, Goat Beard, got any of the medicine left? Remember that you promised Big Brother Duan to cure him? If you give all you got to them, what would happen if my Big Brother Duan comes with my dad?"

The girl in black couldn't stand this any longer and commanded: "Zhong Ling, be quiet! Your Big Brother Duan will be just fine!" Finding her voice very familiar, Zhong Ling turned towards her. When Zhong Ling laid her eyes on her mask, she immediately recognized her and uttered: "Ah, Mu...." But she realized soon enough that something was going on and put her hand over her mouth in time.

SiKong Xuan was quite worried as well as he kneeled and said: "Holy Emissaries, your servant had been bitten by this little girl's poisonous marten, please show some mercy." Duan Yu figured that if he did not somehow cure him then they would have a fight to the death on their hands. So he turned to the girl in black and said: "Sister, why don't you give him some of Kid Elder's Cure-All Elixir?" Hearing that there was a Cure-All Elixir here, SiKong Xuan could not believe his ears as he kowtowed loudly several times all the while saying: "Your humble servant will be forever grateful for the mercy and benevolence of the Kid Elder and the Holy Emissaries. There are a total of 19 of us that has been bitten."

The girl thought: "What is he talking about? 'Cure-All Elixir'? But since I'm wounded on my leg and arm, it would be quite troublesome to protect 2 people now. So I guess I'll just go along with this Duan guy and play this Goat Beard for a bit." So she reached into her shirt and took out a small bottle: "Put your hand out." SiKong Xuan obeyed and lowered his head as well, not daring to look at the emissary directly. The girl poured a little bit of some green powder in his hand and instructed: "Take some orally and everything should be alright then." All the while she was thinking: "This fragrance powder of mine didn't come easily, can't let you get too much of that."

As soon as she opened the bottle, SiKong Xuan could smell a delicious and refreshing fragrance. He had spent his entire life around medicine and herbs, yet he could not make out what the powder was made of. By the time the powder was poured onto his hand, the smell had made him feel all warm and fuzzy all over. Figuring the Kid Elder must be amazing as this powder was, as expected, almost magical in its effects, he thanked them repeatedly, but with the powder in his hand, he could not kowtow.

Seeing that everything had been accomplished without a hitch, Duan Yu said: "Sister, let's go!" Lost in the moment, he actually forgot to mask his voice, but luckily SiKong Xuan and his underlings did not notice.

SiKong Xuan reported: "Holy Emissaries, Zuo ZiMuo of No Measure Mountain actually dared to refuse our threats. Because of your servant's wound and loss of arm, this matter was not resolved quickly and I am ashamed. I will order my men to attack right now and we will take over Sword Lake Palace. I humbly request that the Holy Emissaries to stay and observe the battle."

Duan Yu replied: "No need. I think there really isn't any need to attack this Sword Lake Palace anymore either, why don't you guys go home?"

SiKong Xuan was shocked, because he knew the Kid Elder's temperament very well. The nicer the emissaries she sent are, the worse the punishment as the emissary would almost always talk sarcastically opposite of what they mean. Figuring that the emissary must be criticizing him for failing to accomplish his mission, he panicked: "I realize my fault, I realize my mistake, please forgive me! Could the Holy Emissary please say a couple of good things on my behalf to the Kid Elder? I beg of you!"

Afraid to say anything more, Duan Yu just waved his hand somewhat and, dragging Zhong Ling with him, began to walk away. SiKong Xuan kept on his knees and spoke loudly: "The Divine Farmer Clan is honored to send the Holy Emissaries on their way. May the Kid Elder live forever!" The clan members behind him repeated altogether: "The Divine Farmer Clan is honored to send the Holy Emissaries on their way. May the Kid Elder live forever!" Already several meters away, Duan Yu thought the sight of all these men on their knees together were quite humorous and shouted back: "May Mr. SiKong Xuan live forever as well!"

To SiKong Xuan, that sentence was filled with sarcasm and he almost fainted from the shock. The 2 men behind him noticed that their leader was shaking and immediately jumped up to support him fearing that he might drop some of the "Cure-All Elixir" in his hands.

Duan Yu and the 2 girls walked for several dozen meters until they couldn't hear the Divine Farmer Clan anymore. Zhong Ling whistled repeatedly trying to get her marten back but to no avail. So she turned to the girl in black: "Sister Mu, thank you and this other sister so much, but I have to stay here."

The girl asked: "What for? Waiting for that poisonous marten of yours?" Zhong Ling replied: "No, I'm waiting for my Big Brother Duan, he went to get my father here to cure those poisoned guys in the Divine Farmer Clan." Turning to Duan Yu, she said: "Sister, can you give me some of the cure for Intestine Fragmenter?" The girl interrupted: "That Duan guy won't be coming around here again." In a panic, Zhong Ling replied: "No way, that can't be. He said he would! Even if my father won't come, Big Brother Duan would still come back!" The girl retorted: "Hmph! Men only know how to lie, you shouldn't believe anything he said." Zhong Ling began to sniff a little: "Big Brother Duan would nev... never lie to me."

Duan Yu couldn't control himself any longer and, with a laugh, took off his mask: "Miss Zhong, your Big Brother Duan really didn't lie to you."

Zhong Ling stared at him, rendered utterly speechless, for a long time before finally becoming overwhelmed with joy and jumped onto him with her arms around his neck while screaming: "You didn't lie to me, I knew you wouldn't!"

The girl suddenly grabbed her by the back of her collar, pulled her aside, and coldly commented: "Don't do that!" Zhong Ling was quite surprised by that, but being as happy as she was, she didn't care. So she asked: "Sister Mu, how did you 2 meet?" The girl just humphed and didn't respond.

Worried about SiKong Xuan come chasing up after finding how ineffective the powder was, Duan Yu spoke up: "Why don't we get going? We can talk about on the way." The girl in black climbed onto her horse and was out in front while Duan Yu briefly told Zhong Ling what had happened, judiciously leaving out the part about how the girl tortured him and only saying that she saved his life. After listening to the whole story, Zhong Ling yelled out to the girl: "Sister Mu, thank you so much for saving Big Brother Duan, I don't know if I can ever pay you back for that." A bit peeved, the girl rebuked: "I saved him by my own accord, what does it have to do with you?" Zhong Ling stuck her tongue out at Duan Yu and made a face at that remark.

The girl continued: "Hey, Duan Yu, I know that little devil Zhong Ling is going to tell you my name, so I'm going to tell you now. My name is Mu WanQing." Duan Yu replied: "Ah, 'Firewood is pure and flowery, pity to the pure willows.' (Huo Mu Qing Hua, Wan Xi Qing Yang) Such a good name and surname." Mu WanQing replied: "Better than your 'one piece of wood, terrible fame (Yi Duan Mu Tou, Ming Yu Ji Huai).'" Duan Yu burst out laughing at that comment.

{Duan Yu quoted a piece of poetry that I'm not too sure about the meaning of, so I just kind of went with the literal meanings of the word, sorry if it is off. If you know what it really means, please e-mail me. Thanks.}

Zhong Ling grabbed Duan Yu's left hand and gently said: "Big Brother Duan, you are so good to me." Duan Yu replied: "Only thing is that it's a shame that you can't find your marten." Zhong Ling whistled a couple of more times before replying: "No big deal really, after those bad guys leave, I'll come back here and look for him. Will you come and keep me company?" Duan Yu nodded and replied: "Of course!" Thinking about that jade statue in that cave, he added: "From now on I would come back here from time to time." Furious, Mu WanQing cut in: "I don't permit you to come back. If she want to look for her marten, then let her come herself." Duan Yu stuck his tongue out at Zhong Ling and made a face. The 2 of them looked at each other and smiled.

.

The 3 of them did not talk for a long while and just walked. After several kilometers, Mu WanQing suddenly asked: "Zhong Ling, is your birthday the 5th of February?" She was still facing forward on her horse, not even turning around. Zhong Ling answered: "Yes it is! Sister Mu, how did you know?" Becoming furious, Mu WanQing shouted: "Still claiming that you aren't lying Duan Yu?" With a jerk of the reins, she and Black Rose began to gallop away.

Suddenly, there came a low and faint whistle from the northwest that was followed by 4 claps from the northeast corner. A row of silhouettes came flying this way from directly in front of them and stopped about 50 or so meters away from the 3 of them. A slight paused followed before a hoarse voice shouted: "Little Whore! Where do you think you are running off to?" The voice belonged to none other than Grandma Rui. Before they could respond, someone started to snicker from behind them. Duan Yu whipped his head around in panic and saw the faint figure of Grandma Ping standing there with the daggers in her hands were almost glowing under the moonlight. There was a man to the left and right of her. The man to her left had a face of white beard and a huge shovel in his hand while the man to her right was a relatively young man that carried a sword. Duan Yu sort of remembered seeing these 2 men among those who were present in the hall where he first met Mu WanQing.

Mu WanQing sneered: "You ghosts still haven't disappeared yet? Quite an accomplishment for you guys, chasing me all the way here." Grandma Ping replied: "We'll chase you to the end of the world if we have to, you Little Whore!" A small sound came from Mu WanQing as she shot out a small arrow. The swordsman's eye-sight and coordination turned out to be excellent as he knocked the arrow down with his sword. Before anyone else could react, Mu WanQing had launched herself off of her horse and was flying towards the white-bearded old man.

For a man as old as him, his reaction was incredibly fast. With a flick of his right hand, he swung the shovel at Mu WanQing. Still off the ground, Mu WanQing pushed off the face of the shovel with her left foot and flew back towards Grandma Ping. Grandma Ping held up her dagger to block the strike. "Zeng!" The blade of her dagger had been sliced off by the sword, creating a bright flash in the darkness. Grandma Rui immediately attacked Mu WanQing's back in hopes of rescuing Grandma Ping. Not in a hurry to kill Grandma Ping just yet, Mu WanQing rotated her sword sideways, pushed off of Grandma Ping's shoulder with the flat side of the sword, and gently flew off like a feather. Had it not for Grandma Rui's intervention, she would not have rotated the sword and Grandma Ping would have been sliced in two.

That entire exchange, with all the sudden changes and reverses, took only a couple of seconds. Even though she had just barely escaped death, Grandma Ping was not the least bit scared as she immediately swung her dagger at Mu WanQing 3 more times, making Mu WanQing dodge and lose the initiative. At the same time, Grandma Rui and 2 other men charged up and attacked as well. The sword in Mu WanQing's hand flashed repeatedly as she weaved her way among those 4 attackers. Standing several meters away was Zhong Ling, waving at Duan Yu incessantly: "Big Brother Duan, come here!" Duan Yu asked after he made his way over: "What?" Zhong Ling suggested: "Let's get out of here!" Duan Yu replied: "They are ganging up on Miss Mu, how could we leave just like that?" Zhong Ling replied: "Sister Mu's kungfu is really very good, she could get out of this by herself with no problem at all." Duan Yu shook his head: "She came here to save your life, how could you just leave her like this?" Zhong Ling stumped her foot and replied: "You idiot! Like you can help her out by staying here! Ay! If only Lightning is here!"

At this time, Mu WanQing was fending off the 4 attackers with all her might. Because Grandma Rui's iron staff and the old man's iron shovel were very noisy because of their length, Mu WanQing was paying very close attention to all the sounds around her and heard this entire exchange between Zhong Ling and Duan Yu.

Duan Yu continued: "Miss Zhong, why don't you leave first? I can't bear to wrong Miss Mu in any way. In the unlikely event that she's overwhelmed, I could try and talk us out it." Zhong Ling replied: "Other than just giving that life of yours away, you really aren't good for anything here. Go! Sister Mu won't be angry at your for it." Duan Yu replied: "If Miss Mu hadn't saved me, I would have died a long time ago. There's really not much difference in dying half a day earlier or later." Frustrated, Zhong Ling grabbed his arm and started to walk away: "You idiot! I can't win arguing with you like this!"

Duan Yu shouted: "I don't want to leave! I don't want to leave!" But he wasn't strong enough and was being dragged away.

Mu WanQing suddenly shouted: "Zhong Ling, you get yourself out of here! Leave him here!" Zhong Ling began to pull him even harder. "Shoo!" A small arrow suddenly shot into Zhong Ling's hair and got stuck into one of the hair buns in her hair. Mu WanQing threatened: "If you don't let go, the next one is going straight for your eye!" Zhong Ling knew that she was the type that would go through with whatever she says; and although the 2 of them had been good friends, they still haven't been together long enough to establish any real deep friendship. So she let go, knowing that she was really about to shoot at her eye.

Mu WanQing commanded further: "Zhong Ling, go to your parent's place now! Go! If you wait for your Big Brother Duan at all, then I'm going to shoot 3 more arrows at you!" She parried away several more attacks as she said this.

Not daring to disobey her, Zhong Ling turned to Duan Yu: "Big Brother Duan, please be careful!" She then covered her face, turned, and disappeared into darkness.

After ordering Zhong Ling away, Mu WanQing went back to concentrating on fending off the attackers. Feeling a faint pain on her leg where she had been hooked, she suddenly changed her fighting style. This time the sword flashed through the darkness over and over again like a meteor shower, ever-changing and unpredictable. Suddenly, the old man screamed in pain for he had been hit in his chest. Mu WanQing followed that with 3 more thrusts, forcing Grandma Rui and that swordsman to jump out of the fighting circle. Then, spinning the blade of her sword around, she turned towards Grandma Ping. In a blink of an eye, Grandma Ping had already been hit 3 times. Ignoring the wounds, Grandma Ping continued to attack like a wild tiger. By now, the other 3 attackers had rejoined the fight. Grandma Ping rolled to a stop at Mu WanQing's foot and swung at her calf with the dagger in her right hand. Mu WanQing gave her a nice kick, sending her rolling off. At this precise moment, Grandma Rui's iron staff came flying in towards her forehead. Mu WanQing hurriedly brought her sword back, parried the staff away, and moved right into a thrust towards the center of her foes.

Grandma Rui turned her body sideways and brought her staff back to protect herself. Mu WanQing let out a little sigh of relief and was just about start another attack when a huge amount of pain shot through her. Turned out that the old man, unable to lift his shovel after being injured, pulled out an iron spike, charged in, and was able to stab it into her shoulder. Mu WanQing smacked him over her shoulders and pretty much flattened his entire face, killing him in an instant. But Grandma Rui had charged forth and began attacking again. Grandma Ping screamed: "The Little Whore is hurt, don't worry about catching her life, just kill her!"

Seeing that Mu WanQing was wounded, Duan Yu began to panic. So he, as he did last time, wanted to run over and grabbed the old man's corpse. But with the 4 fighters in the way, he could not reach the corpse. In desperation, he ripped off the robe he had on and, wildly waving it, charged into the melee and was able to cover up Grandma Ping's head. Shocked that she suddenly lost her sight, she immediately reached with her hand and tried to tear the cloth away. However, in a panic, she had forgot that she was holding a dagger and was cut face, causing her to squeal like a pig. Unable to find enough time to pull out the spike that's imbedded in her left shoulder, Mu WanQing, fighting off the pain as much as she could, hurriedly swung at Grandma Rui twice, then turned and thrusted at the swordsman. These 3 moves were incredible as Grandma Rui's right cheek had been slashed as was the swordsman's forehead. Although the wounds were harmless, the parts that were hit were vital. And so, in shock, both of them jumped back and felt their wounds with their hands to check on it.

Mu WanQing cursed to herself: "Damn it! Should have killed them!" She took a deep breath and whistled. Black Rose arrived almost instantaneously. She hopped onto the saddle, grabbed Duan Yu by his collar, and lifted him up as well. Black Rose began to gallop west as fast as she could.

They hadn't even gone 100 meters when there suddenly came a huge amount of shouting behind the woods as several men came charging out, blocking their way. The tall man in the middle yelled: "Little Whore! Your old man here's been waiting for you for a long time now!" He reached up in an attempt to grab a hold of Black Rose's manes. Mu WanQing slightly flicked her right hand and 3 arrows shot out, hitting 3 men in the crowd. Taking advantage of the old man's momentary surprise, she pulled on the reins and Black Rose leapt over the head of the men. The men came chasing after her, but, fearing her poisonous arrows, they held their weapons out in front of them and kept getting further and further back. But they were still cursing like crazy: "Whore! She ran away again!" "No matter where you ran off to, we'll still find you and gut you!" "Come on everyone! After her!"

Mu WanQing let Black Rose to run as she pleased through the mountain and arrived hill lock. Seeing that there was a cliff in front of her, she had no choice but to stop to try and find another way. No Measure Mountain's paths twists and weaves their way up and down the mountain, making it very difficult to navigate through them.

Suddenly, there came shouting from ahead: "That horse is coming back around!" "This way!" "The Little Whore is back!" Because of her wound, Mu WanQing was in no condition to fight. So she immediately stopped Black Rose and began to run to the right. This time she no longer had time to pick a path and Black Rose was running through the wilderness. Luckily, Black Rose was amazingly strong and agile and was able to traverse through the rocky hillside with no problem whatsoever. After galloping for a long time, Black Rose suddenly mis-stepped with her front legs and bumped her right-front knee on a rock, causing her to limp and slow down.

Worried, Duan Yu suggested: "Miss Mu, let me off. That way you can get away easier and faster with just you riding. They have no enmities or quarrels with me, so it wouldn't be much of a problem if they caught me." Mu WanQing replied: "Hmph! What do you know? You are from DaLi, they would kill you as soon as they catch you." Duan Yu replied: "That's strange, are they planning to kill everyone in DaLi? Miss, please listen to me and escape by yourself."

With her left shoulder just throbbing in pain, Mu WanQing had no patience to listen to Duan Yu ramble. So she shouted: "Shut up! Don't say another word!" Duan Yu replied: "Alright, then could you let me sit behind you instead?" Mu WanQing asked: "Why?" Duan Yu replied: "I left my robe over that fat grandma's head." Mu WanQing wondered: "So?" Duan Yu answered: "There's several holes on the back of my pants, sitting in front of miss with this bare... bare... towards miss... hehe. That's... just too inappropriate."

Barely able to bear the pain on her shoulder, Mu WanQing grabbed his shoulders and, gritting her teeth, squeezed so hard that his bones were cracking and commanded: "Shut up!" Unable to handle the pain, Duan Yu immediately complied: "Alright, alright, I'll shut up."

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Added 8-16-01