Demi Gods and Semi Devils - Chapter 1

Book 1: Adventures of Youth

Chinese title: 一 青衫磊落险峰行
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Translation by Moinllieon

< Previous Chapter - Go To Index - Next Chapter >

Chapter 1: Adventures in the Mountains

 A flash of green, a dark green sword is thrust out, pointing right at the left shoulder of a middle-aged man. The young man with the sword in his hand didn't wait for the move to grow old before suddenly tilting his sword sideways as the blade swipes towards the right shoulder of the middle-aged man. The middle-aged man held up his sword to parry. "Zeng"! The two swords met, each individual sword vibrated, creating a slight hum. The humming did not stop before the flashes began again; another three moves had been exchanged. Suddenly, the middle-aged man's sword sliced straight down, heading towards the ypung man's forehead. The young man stepped to his right to dodge the blow while leading his opponent's sword on with his left hand, and then the green sword is thrust toward the thighs of the middle-aged man.

Both fighters are quick as a flash, fighting with all of their skills.

On the east side of the atrium there sat two people. One is a Taoist nun of around 40 years of age, face as cold as iron, mouth closed shut. The other is an old man a bit over 50, stroking his beard with his right hand, face full of pride. They are seated about two meters apart, behind each stood about twenty or so male and female disciples. The west side was occupied by about 10 guests. Everyone's complete attention is on the two people fighting in the middle of the atrium.

The fight had gone on for about 70 exchanges now, the moves keep on getting faster and tighter, but no winner has emerged yet. Suddenly the middle-aged man thrust his sword out again with great force, too much force, and he started to teeter as if he was going to fall. A young man wearing green in the west of the atrium couldn't help but let out a little laugh. However, he immediately realized that it was very out of place and quickly covered his mouth with his hand.

Right at this time, the young man in the atrium sent his left palm out, aiming for the back of the middle-aged man. The middle-aged man took a step forward to avoid the strike. He swung his sword in a circle close to the ground and shouted: "Gotcha!" The young man's left leg was hit and his leg gave out. However, he pointed his sword at the ground and used it like a crutch as he balanced himself and seemed ready to continue. The middle-aged man had already sheathed his sword, saying with a smile: "Brother Chu, thanks for letting me win, are you hurt bad?" 

The young man's face turned white as a sheet, biting his lips, he replied: "Thanks for pulling back, Brother Gong."

The old man with the bearded face was glowing with pride. He smiled and said: "The East Faction has won three rounds, looks like the 'Sword Lake Palace' (Jian Hu Gong) is going to belong to the East Faction for another five years. Sister Xing, shall we continue with the match?" 

The middle-aged nun barely controlled her anger: "Brother Zuo's disciples are worthy of his name. But has Brother Zuo made any progress on the 'Limitless Jade Cliff' (Wu Liang Yu Bi)?" 

The bearded man shot her a look and said in a serious voice: "Has martial sister forgotten the rules of our sect?" The nun humphed, but did not reply.

The old man's surname is Zuo, first name ZiMu; he is the head of the Limitless Sword (Wu Liang Jian) Sect's East Faction. The nun's surname is Xin, Taoist name is ShuangQing (double clear), she is the head of the West Faction.

Limitless Sword sect used to be in factions of East, North, and West. The North Faction in the last decades had weakened much, while the East and West have flourished. Limitless Sword was started in the Limitless Mountains in southern China during the reign of the 5th Emperor of Tang. The head of the sect resides in the Sword Lake Palace. Ever since the factions started during the rule of the Emperor Ren Zong (Benevolent Ruler) of Sung, there had been a contest every five years during which the disciples of the three factions compete in the atrium of Sword Lake Palace. First faction to three wins is declared the winner and wins the rights to reside in the palace for five years. In the five years between contests, the losing factions study and train hard in hopes of avenging the shame of losing last time. The winner, of course, does not slack off either. The North Faction won forty years ago but was immediately beaten in the next contest five years later. The head of the faction, in a fit of rage, moved his disciples to the west side of the mountain range, never to compete again, as well as losing all contact with the other two factions. In the thirty-five years since, both factions have won and lost, with the East winning four times while the West won twice. That round between that middle-aged man named Gong and the young man named Zu was the fourth round of this year's contest. The win by Gong was the third for the East in four matches, thus making the fifth match unnecessary.

On the west side of the atrium sat guests from other sects, including invited witnesses that are invited by either faction. The rest are just guests who are here to watch a show. Everyone here has at least somewhat of a name in the Yunan area, with the lone exception being the young man wearing green sitting at the end, who just happened to be the one that let out that solitary laugh.

The young man came with Ma WuDe. Ma WuDe is a big tea merchant in the area. He loves company and gets along with most everyone. If anyone in the world ever came to him for help (mostly financially), he would always do all he can without exception. Hence, he is well liked and well respected by many. However, his kung fu is only average. Zuo ZiMu vaguely remembers the young man being introduced with the surname of Duan. Duan is the surname of the Emperor in Dali; inside of Dali’s borders there are tens of thousands of people with the surname of Duan. Therefore, when the young man was introduced Zuo ZiMu didn't really pay much attention to it, figuring that he probably is a disciple of Ma WuDe's. This Ma WuDe's kungfu is average to begin with, how good can his disciple be? So Zuo didn't even bother with the "Much admired" phrase, just plainly cupped his fist and led them to the atrium. Who knew that this young man is so brazen as to laugh at one of Zuo ZiMu's favorite disciples?

So now, Zuo ZiMu smiled and said: "The four disciples of Sister Xin that fought this year all had very good sword skills. Particularly in that 4th match, our win was especially lucky. Disciple Chu's skill is at such a level at such a young age. Looks like his future is limitless. In five years time, it seems like East and West are going to switch places. Ha Ha Ha." Suddenly he turned his eyes to the young man named Duan: "My lacking disciple used a fake move, "Teetering Step", to win earlier. This young gentleman does not seem to be impressed. Please demonstrate to my disciple how it should be done. Mr. Ma is famous throughout the area, his disciple's kungfu should be very good as well."

Ma WuDe blushed a little from that comment: "This young man is not my disciple. With the little kungfu that I know, how can I possibly be somebody's master? Please don't think too much of it Mr. Zuo. This young man came into my town, heard that I was coming to visit Limitless Mountain, so he asked to come along. He says that he has long heard of the scenic beauty of Limitless Mountain and wanted to see and experience it for himself."

This got Zuo ZiMu thinking: "If he is your disciple, then out of respect to you, I wouldn't go too hard on him. But since he is just a normal guest and visitor, there is no need to be polite. Someone is actually brazen enough to laugh at Limitless Sword East Faction's kungfu, if I do not make him regret it, then where do I put my face?" So he sneered: "Don't know how we should address you, Mr. Duan, or which famous person is your master."

The young man named Duan smiled a little: "My given name is Yu and I have never learned any kungfu in my life. But if I saw someone fall, doesn't matter if he meant to or not, I couldn't help but to laugh a little." 

Zuo ZiMu couldn't help but get angrier for he does not have any respect in his tone of voice: "What is so funny about it?" Duan Yu lightly flicked the fan in his hand, casually replied: "A person standing or sitting is not funny, lying in bed, no humor there at all either. Lying on the ground, on the other hand, hehe, is very funny. Unless he's a three year old baby, then we'll make an exception." The more he talked, the less respectful he seemed to become. 

Zuo ZiMu turns to Ma WuDe: "Mr. Ma, is this Mr. Duan a friend of yours?"

In truth, Ma WuDe just met Duan Yu as well and doesn't know a thing about Duan Yu's background or past. However, he was born friendly and Duan Yu insisted upon coming to Limitless Mountain. Ma WuDe felt it awkward to refuse, so he brought him along. At this time, he could tell that Zuo ZiMu's voice was full of anger and won't hold back if he gets started. Duan Yu seems like a nice guy, no point in getting him into trouble. So he says: "Although Mr. Duan and I are casual acquaintances, we still came here together. To me, Mr. Duan seems very gentlemanly and does not know a single bit of kungfu. So his laugh a moment ago must have been just reactionary and he did not mean anything. How about this? I'm kind of hungry right now, so Mr. Zuo, why don't you get some wine and the two us then toast you three shots each as an apology. Such a good day today, Mr. Zuo, why fuss with someone of a younger generation?"

Zuo ZiMu plainly replied: "Mr. Duan, since you are not a friend of Mr. Ma, then if I, in any way, offend you it doesn't have anything to do Mr. Ma. GuangJie, this gentleman was just laughing at you, why don't you go and ask for some advice."

GuangJie is the given name of that middle-aged man named Gong; he had been waiting for his master to say something. At once he unsheathed his sword, jumped into the middle of the atrium, flips his sword over, and offered the handle up to Duan Yu: "Mr. Duan, please!" 

Duan Yu replies: "Very good, go on and practice, I'll watch." He did not move at all from his seat. 

Gong GuangJie's face turned purple: "You... what did you say?" 

Duan Yu answers: "You have a sword in your hand and are swinging it here and there, want to practice? Then go ahead and practice. I never liked watching others fight and such, but since I wanted to come here and you aren't really fighting then I guess it wouldn't hurt to watch." 

Gong GuangJie screamed at him: "My master is telling you to come out here and fight it out with me!"

Duan Yu lightly waved the fan in his hand and shook his head casually: "Your master is YOUR master, your master is not MY master. Your master can command you, but your master can't command me. Your master told you to fight with someone, and you have done so already. Your master told you to fight with me; first of all, I don't know how, second, I'm scared to lose, third, I'm scared it would hurt, fourth, I'm scared I might die; so no fighting. If I say we don't fight, then we don't fight."

This whole speech, full of "your master" and "my master", came out so smoothly that it seemed to be a poem. Numerous people in the atrium could not help but crack up somewhat upon hearing it. Limitless Sword West Faction is divided half male and half female and more than several female disciples started to laugh coquettishly. The serious atmosphere that so engulfed the atrium a moment ago is gone in a flash.

Gong GuangJie walked up to Duan Yu, pointed the sword at Duan Yu's chest, asked loudly: "You really don't know, or are you pretending?" 

The sword is merely inches away from Duan Yu's chest; only a small push is needed for the sword to penetrate his heart. But Duan Yu's face was still calm and showed no signs of fear: "Of course I don't know, why would I pretend?" 

Gong GuangJie replied: "How dare you cause trouble here in Limitless Mountain, here in Sword Lake Palace? My guess is that you are tired of living. Who is your master? Who told you to come here? If you don't tell me the truth, don't blame me if I don't hold back!"

Duan Yu casually replied: "Hero, why are you being so ferocious? I have never liked fighting with others. Your sect is the Limitless Sword, in the middle of Limitless Mountain (Mt. Wuliang). It is said in Buddhist canon: 'There are four things that are of Limitless: kindness, sadness, happiness, and sacrifice.' As to what that means, I think everyone knows: happiness leads to kindness; eliminating bitterness leads to sadness; being with friends and leaving bitterness leads to happiness; leaving everything so that worry and affection are equal as on leads to sacrifice. Limitless is of Buddha, Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha..."

As he just sat there muttering to himself, Gong GuangJie had pulled back his sword. Suddenly, he threw his arm out and landed a solid slap on Duan Yu's face. Duan Yu tried to tilt his head to avoid the strike, but the slap was too quick. On his white gentlemanly looking face, one could clearly see five red fingerprints.

This caught everyone by surprise. Seeing Duan Yu's casual attitude and all the playing around he did with his talking, everyone assumed that he must be someone with spectacular skills. Who knew he couldn't even dodge a very average slap from Gong GuangJie? Obviously, he does not know any kungfu. In this world, a master pretending to be stupid, jesting with others to amuse himself is very commonplace. How can someone that does not know kungfu be so brazen and foolish to do so? Even Gong GuangJie stood there dumbfounded for a moment, then immediately he grabbed Duan Yu's chest and lifted him up: "I was wondering what kind of extraordinary person you are, it turns out you are just a sack of shit!" He threw Duan Yu down, Duan Yu rolled along the floor, finally coming to a stop when his head hit a leg of a table with a loud "Bang".

Ma WuDe did not have the heart to see this, he scrambled over and helped Duan Yu up, all the while saying to Duan Yu: "So you really do not know any kungfu, then why cause trouble here?"

Duan Yu answered while rubbing his forehead: "I only came here to visit the mountains and to check out the landscape. Who knew they were going to fight? You chop me, I chop you, what's so great about that? A monkey show would be better! Goodbye, Mr. Ma. Goodbye, I'm getting out of here!"

A young disciple of Zuo ZiMu's jumped out right in front of from behind Zuo ZiMu, blocking Duan Yu's exit: "Because you don't know any kungfu, if you leave like this, it really is no bother. But why did you say that our little contest is worse than a monkey show? Seems rather harsh don't you think? I give you two choices: either we spar a little and let you have a taste of this 'worse than monkey' sword skill; or you can go and kowtow eight times to my master, and then say 'Bullshit!' three times." 

Duan Yu laughed: "You crapped? How come it doesn't stink?"

The young man did not take well to that comment, responding by simply throwing a ferocious punch straight at Duan Yu's face. Just as it looked as if Duan Yu is going to get his face smashed, an object came flying through the air and wrapped around the young man's arm. This object felt cold and slippery to the touch yet somehow firm, as soon as it wrapped around the young man's arm it started to slide. The young man pulled back his arm in shock, looking down he finds out that the object was a snake. The snake is about two feet long and green with red markings. The young man let out a huge scream and started to try to shake the snake off, however the snake seemed to be quite comfortable on his arm and did not want to leave no matter what. Suddenly Gong GuangJie screamed: "Snake! Snake!" Everyone turned in time to see his face filled with fear, his hands were inside of is sleeves, reaching and grabbing for something in his back. But of course he could not reach it, so in panic he started to rip his cloth off.

This drastic change happened so quickly and was so unexpected that nobody has recovered from the initial shock when they suddenly heard a single solitary laugh coming from above their heads. All at once everyone looked up and saw a young girl sitting on a roof beam with snakes in her hand.

She had dimples like flowers. This girl looked to be around 16 or 17, dressed in green. In her hands were ten or so foot long snakes. These snakes varied in color, but from their triangular heads, it was obvious they were poisonous. But this girl did not seem to mind at all, as if they were toys in her hand. Everyone only glanced at her for a moment, for Gong GuangJie and his martial brother's screaming and yelping made everyone turn their eyes back on to them.

Only Duan Yu kept his eyes on the girl, the girl's feet were swinging back and forth, as if it was lots of fun sitting there on top of the beam. So he asked: "Miss, are you the one that rescued me?" 

The girl answered: "That bad man hit you, why didn't you hit back?" 

Duan Yu shook his head: "I don't know how to hit back...."

Suddenly everyone collectively let out an "Ah!" Duan Yu turned to see Zuo ZiMu holding a blood stained sword in his hand. A red snake is lying on the ground, in two pieces, obviously killed by him. Gong GuangJie by now is half-naked, but still jumping around like a clown. He was trying to grab a small green snake that was crawling around on his back. A couple of times it looked as if he almost got it, but he never came up with it.

Zuo ZiMu commanded: "GuangJie, stand still and don't move!" Gong GuangJie froze, and then a flash of white, and the snake is on the ground in two pieces. Zuo ZiMu's sword speed was blinding, most of the people present did not see what happened until the snake is on the ground, yet Gong GuangJie's back is left unharmed. Everyone present could not help but cheer.

The girl sitting on the beam shouted down: "Hey! Hey! Old man with the beard, what did you kill my two pet snakes for? If you keep this up I'm going to stop being so courteous."

Zuo ZiMu replied angrily: "Which household did you crawl out of? What are you doing here?" All the while secretly marveling at the girl, this girl who stealthily climbed up onto the beam without anybody noticing! Although everyone's attention was focused on the contest between the factions, but that still should not excuse letting a person climb up onto the beam unnoticed. If a word of this gets out, how much face would Limitless Sword lose? The girl's feet swung back and forth, her shoes are of light green color with a couple of delicate yellow flowers sewn on the sides, and basically dressed as a little girl. Zuo ZiMu continued: "Jump down this instant!"

Suddenly Duan Yu blurted out: "From that high?! She'll get hurt! Go tell some people to bring a ladder!" A couple of people snickered a bit at that comment. The female disciples under the West Faction all thought: "This guy has the look of a well educated gentleman, but it turns out he's as dense as a piece of wood. The girl got up there without anyone noticing, why would she need a ladder to get down?"

The girl replied: "First you have to compensate for my snakes, then I'll get down to talk to you." 

Zuo ZiMu answers: "What's the big deal about two little snakes? You can just go and easily catch two more just anywhere." He was not worried about the girl because of her young age. What worried him is that this girl might have someone very powerful, such as her father or master, backing her up. Therefore, he is actually reasonably polite towards her. 

The girl grinned and replied: "If it's so easy, why don't you go and catch them for me."

Zuo ZiMu switched the subject: "Jump down." 

The young girl simply answered "No". 

Zuo ZiMu threatened: "If you don't come down, then I'm going to have to make you come down." 

The girl let out a little laugh before answering: "Hehe, come and try then. If you can make me get down, then you are really something." 

Zuo ZiMu is still a leader of a sect, no matter what he can't be seen actually fighting a little girl. So he turned to ShuangQing: "Sister Xin, could you please send one of your female disciples up there to get her down?"

ShuangQing replied coldly: "We don't have anyone here in the West Faction with that level of Qing Gong (lightness kungfu)." 

Zuo ZiMu's face dropped one more shade and was just about to answer back when he was interrupted by the young girl: "If you don't compensate me for my snakes, then I'm going to show you a thing or two!" Reaching into her pouch, she took out a furry thing and tossed it at Gong GuangJie.

Gong GuangJie figured this was some weird flying weapon, so he dared not grab it with his hands and just tried to get out of the way. But who would have guessed that this furry little thing was alive? With a twist in midair, it landed squarely on Gong GuangJie's back. It is only now that everyone saw what the thing was, a gray colored marten (a cute weasel-like creature that can climb trees)! This marten was amazingly quick, crawling all over Guang GongJie's back, chest, face, and neck as if it were flat ground. Gong GuangJie tried to grab the little creature, but it was way too fast for him. So he just ended up looking like a clown with a furry ball shooting up and down his body.

Duan Yu couldn't help but laugh: "Truly amazing, now THIS is interesting."

This marten is only about a foot or so long, its eyes are blood red, and it has claws as sharp as razors. Very soon, Gong GuangJie's upper body was covered with countless streaks of scratch marks.

The young girl hissed a couple of times; a white shadow flew right at Gong GuangJie's face. Suddenly the marten had pounced onto Gong GuangJie's face and stopped there, its furry tail swiping back and forth across his eyes. Gong GuangJie immediately tried to grab the marten. But by the time his hands got there the marten was already behind his neck and Gong GuangJie almost dug his own eyes out.

Zuo ZiMu stepped up and his sword came flying in. At this time the marten has ended up on Gong GuangJie's face once again, Zuo ZiMu aimed his sword at the marten, but the marten has already scrambled to the back of Gong GuangJie's neck. Zuo ZiMu's sword stopped just in time so that it is just touching the eyelid of Gong GuangJie. Although he missed the marten, the people present gasped in admiration. For if the sword had gone just a bit further, Gong GuangJie's eye would have been gone. ShuangQing thought to herself: "Brother Zuo's sword skill is indeed extraordinary, even I can't match him. Just this 'Plundered Crossing of the Golden Needle' (Jin Zhen Du Jie) is proof enough of that."

Swish! Swoosh! Zuo ZiMu linked together four more moves one after another, but although his moves were fast to a rare degree, the marten is still one step faster. That young girl shouted down: "Old man with the beard, your sword skills are actually pretty good." She then hissed a couple of more times, the marten suddenly scurried downwards and disappeared. Zuo ZiMu was taken aback for a moment. Gong GuangJie suddenly start grabbing and scratching is legs, it turns out the marten has gotten into his trousers.

By this time Duan Yu has almost doubled over in laughter, clapping his hand, he commented: "Now this is a real eye-opener, this trip was worth it after all."

Gong GuangJie literally ripped his trousers off, revealing a pair of hairy legs. The young girl shouted: "Like to bully other people don't you? Well let's see how you like it if you are stripped naked!" Then she hissed twice more. This marten turned out to be quite obedient as it immediately crawled into Gong GuangJie's underwear. With all the girls present in the atrium, there is no way Gong GuangJie is going to take off his underwear. So all he could do was hop around for a bit and smacking his butt and thighs with his hands. Suddenly he let out a scream and start desperately, albeit very awkwardly, making his way out of the atrium as fast as he could.

Just as he is about to exit through the door, someone suddenly popped in from outside. Bang! Both of them were in a hurry and they ran right into one another. Gong GuangJie was knocked a step back, but the person that was entering the atrium fell back and landed in his back.

Zuo ZiMu cried out involuntarily: "Brother Rong?!"

Now, Gong GuangJie had to ignore the marten that's moving all around his pants as he reached down to try and help the person up. Suddenly the marten moved onto a particularly sensitive spot, forcing Gong GuangJie to shriek and grab for the marten, thus making the man fall down again.

The young girl let out a rather coquettish laugh: "Alright, I think you have had enough." She let out a rather long hiss. That marten suddenly appeared from Gong GuangJie's underwear, crawled up the walls, jumped on the beam, and returned to the young girl's lap. The young girl grabbed a snake by its tail and dangled it in front of the marten: "Good boy, here's your reward." The marten grabbed the snake and devoured it. Turns out that the snakes were food for the marten.

Duan Yu was simply amazed by all of this, he had never even heard of anything remotely close to this. The marten finished eating the snake and crawled back into the young girl's pouch.

Gong GuangJie helped that man up again, asked in surprise: "Martial Uncle Rong, you... you alright? What's the matter?" Zuo ZiMu ran up to his martial brother. Rong ZiJu's eyes are wide open in a stare and his face is one of indignation and hate; however, he is not breathing. Zuo ZiMu is shocked tremendously; he immediately tried to rescue his martial brother by giving him some of his own inner force. But he was not able to do anything. Zuo ZiMu knows that although Rong ZiJu's kungfu is not as strong as his own, it is still much stronger than Gong GuangJie. The fact that not only was he not able to avoid Gong GuangJie, but was killed by it, means that he must have already been gravely injured. So he immediately opened up Rong ZiJu's shirt, exposing his chest. On his chest, written in big black letters, were the words: "Divine Farmer Clan here to exterminate Limitless Sword" (Shen Yi Bang Zhu Mie Wu Liang Jian). More than just several persons screamed involuntarily.

The nine words (Note: it is actually eight characters in Chinese) were not written by ink, nor was it carved out using a sharp object. A poison that caused the flesh to rot was applied in the patterns of the words on Rong ZiJu's chest; the rotten flesh sank into his chest and formed the words.

How can Zuo ZiMu not be furious? He gave the sword in his hand a shake, making it hum, and shouted: "Well let's see if it is Divine Farmer destroying Limitless or Limitless eliminating Divine Farmer? If this murder is not avenged, how can I call myself a man?" He turned around and inspected Rong ZiJu's body; but other than the words, he showed no sign of injury. He commands: "GuangHao, GuangJie, go check outside."

Gan GuangHao and Gong GuangJie are two of his proudest disciples; they pulled out their sword and ran outside.

By now the atrium is in a mess, everyone gathered around Rong ZiJu's body discussing and analyzing the situation, completely ignoring Duan Yu and the girl on the beam. Ma WuDe commented: "Divine Farmer Clan's behavior is just getting worse and worse. Brother Zuo, how did you become enemies with them?" {Note: Ma WuDe is addressing Zuo ZiMu as a brother out of friendship, not actual martial or real brotherhood}

Zuo ZiMu thought about his martial brother's tragic and terrible death, swallowed hard, and answered: "For some herbs. Autumn of last year, four lodge heads of Divine Farmer Clan came to visit, asking access to the back mountains in our control to collect some herbs. Collecting herbs is really no big deal. Divine Farmer Clan originally started collecting and selling herbs, and there is no grudge whatsoever between us two clans. But Mr. Ma, you know very well that our back mountains are forbidden to outsiders. Not even the best of friends is allowed to go there, not to mention a clan that we never had any contact with like Divine Farmer. This is the rule ever since the start of our sect, we dare not disobey it. Actually, it really isn't anything serious...."

The young girl on the beam put the snakes in her hand into a little bamboo basket she has tied around her waist. She took out some melon seeds and started eating them; her two feet were still swinging back and forth. Suddenly, she took a melon seed and threw it at Duan Yu, hitting him right on the forehead. Laughing, she asked: "Want some melon seeds? Come on up!"

Duan Yu answered: "I can't without any ladders." 

The young girl replied: "Well that's no problem." She untied a green silk ribbon from her waist and dangled it down: "Grab a hold of the belt and I'll pull you up." 

Duan Yu answered: "I'm heavy, you can't lift me." 

The young girl giggled and replied: "Oh give it a try, won't kill ya." Duan Yu grabbed on to the ribbon that is by now right in front of him. The young girl cautioned: "Hold on tight." She lightly lifted her hand and Duan Yu's feet are off the floor. Hand over hand, the young girl easily lifted Duan Yu up onto the beam.

Duan Yu said: "Such an interesting marten you got, so obedient as well." The young girl took out the marten from her pouch, holding it up to Duan Yu. The marten's fur was shiny and its red eyes stared at Duan Yu in wonder, just as cute as can be. Duan Yu asked: "Can I touch it?" 

The young girl answered: "Go right ahead." Duan Yu started to stroke the back of the marten, feeling the smoothness and warmth of the marten.

Suddenly the marten hissed and jumped back into the young girl's pouch. Catching Duan Yu completely by surprise, he lost his balance and almost fell off. The young girl grabbed his collar and pulled him in right next to her. With a smile she said: "You really don't know any kungfu, how strange." 

Duan Yu asked: "What's so strange about it?" 

The girl answered: "Well you don't know any kungfu, and you came here all by yourself, then you are bound to be bullied by these bad people. Why did you come here?"

Duan Yu was just about to answer when footsteps interrupted him. Gan GuangHao and Gong GuangJie just came rushing back into the atrium.

By now, Gong GuangJie has put on another pair of pants, although he still hasn't put a shirt back on yet. Both of them have a look of panic on their faces. Walking up to Zuo ZiMu, Gan GuangHao reported: "Master, Divine Farmer Clan is gathered on the mountain top facing ours. They have blocked every path and say that no one is allowed to pass. We saw that the enemies are here en masse, without specific orders from our master, we did not dare to start fighting." 

Zuo ZiMu nodded: "Mm, how many of them were there?" 

Gan GuangHao replied: "Around 70 or 80." 

Zuo ZiMu let out a little sneer: "70 or 80, and they want to exterminate Limitless Sword? I'm afraid it might not be that easy."

Gong GuangJie held up a letter: "They have shot this arrow up with this letter attached to it."

Zuo ZiMu glanced at it, seeing that the envelope read: "Written To: Zuo ZiMu." He did not feel like touching the letter, so he commanded: "Open it up and see what it says." Gong GuangJie opened the seal and took out the letter.

The young girl leaned over and whispered in Duan Yu's ear: "That bad man that hit you is about to die." Duan Yu was quite taken aback: "Really?" The girl whispered: "There is poison on the seal and the letter." Duan Yu still couldn't quite believe it: "You sure?"

Gong GuangJie started to read: "Divine Farmer Clan writing to Zuo.... the person reading this letter (he dared not to speak his master's name out loud, so he stopped once he read "Zuo"). We give you two hours of time to cut off your own right hand, destroy all your swords and weapons, and give up the Sword Lake Palace. Or else not a dog of Limitless Sword would live."

Limitless Sword West Faction's leader ShuangQing snickered: "Who the hell do Divine Farm Clan think they are? Talking shit like that!"

Suddenly Gong GuangJie fell straight backwards. Gan GuangHao, who was standing beside him, automatically reacted by reaching down in trying to help him get up. Zuo ZiMu took two quick steps forward, placed a palm on his chest and lightly exerted some inner force, which shook Gan GuangHao back two steps. Zuo ZiMu shouted in the midst of the move: "Might be poison, don't touch him!" Looking down, Gong GuangJie's face twitched none stop, the hand that was holding the letter has already turned pitch black. His feet twitched a couple of times and then all movement stopped.

In such a short amount of time, Limitless Sword has lost two top fighters. Everyone present is struck dumb with shock and astonishment.

Duan Yu leans over and whispers: "Are you in Divine Farmer Clan?" 

The young girl angrily rebuked: "Pei! Of course not, why are you talking nonsense?" 

Duan Yu asked: "Then how did you know that there was poison on the letter?" 

The girl laughed and replied: "This kind of poison is kid's play, you can spot it a mile away. The only people that they can get are the clueless ones." Everyone in the atrium heard her last comment and all looked up. She is still sitting there eating the melon seeds, her feet still swinging back and forth.

Zuo ZiMu turned and inspected the letter in Gong GuangJie's hand; he could not see anything out of the norm. He tilted his head and looked even closer, finally he see that both the seal and the letter has faint traces of phosphorescence. His heart went cold all of a sudden, turning around, he addressed the girl: "May we have the honor of knowing your name?" 

The girl replied: "My name? Can't tell you. This is a secret of the highest degree, strictly on a 'need to know' basis." 

Zuo ZiMu suppressed his anger and indignation with great effort, asked again: "Then who is your father? Which hero is your master?" 

The girl answered with a smile: "Hehe, I'm not falling for that. If I tell you who my dad is, then you would know my surname, and then could check up on who I am. My master is my mom. My mom's name is even more top secret than mine, can't tell ya."

From her dialect, Zuo ZiMu can tell she's definitely from inside of Yunan province, maybe even local. Thinking to himself: "In the martial world in Yunan, which pair of husband and wife that's good at Qing Gong could be her parent?" The girl hasn't fought yet, so he can't make a call based on her techniques, so he turns to her again: "Miss, please come down so we can discuss this together. Divine Farmer Clan isn't letting anyone through, probably will kill you too."

The girl laughed and responded: "They won't kill me, Divine Farmer Clan will only kill Limitless Sword's people. I heard the news out there, so I came here in hopes of catching a good show. Old man with a beard, your sword skills are not bad, but you don't know anything about poison, you can't beat Divine Farmer Clan."

Her last sentence hit the nail on the head. If only real kungfu is used, the two factions of Limitless Sword and the eight or so guests here in the atrium might be able to take on Divine Farmer Clan. But nobody here understands a thing about poison, so the whole situation changes when poison is thrown in the equation.

The girl's tone of voice seemed to show that she is really looking forward to this, as if the more of Limitless Sword dies the happier she'll be. Zuo ZiMu could not help but sneer, he asked: "What did miss hear out there?" He is used to giving orders and being insufferably arrogant, so he asked this question as if the young girl better answer with the greatest humility.

The girl suddenly asked out of nowhere: "Want some melon seeds?"

Zuo ZiMu's face turned a slight purple, if it wasn't because the enemies are at the gates, he would have snapped a long time ago. So he restrained himself with the greatest of effort and answered: "No!"

Naturally, Duan Yu cut in: "What kind of melon seeds are you eating? Laurel? Rose? Pine?" 

The girl replied: "Whoa! What's the big deal about melon seeds? Why have so many different kinds? I don't know about all those kinds of melon seeds, but these are made my mom. She made them by frying gall bladders of snakes. Eating them improves your eyesight, want to give it a try?" She gave a handful to Duan Yu and continued: "People who aren't used to them think they are somewhat bitter, but actually they taste really good." Duan Yu didn't want to go against her wishes, so he put one in his mouth. It was somewhat bitter, but there is a bit of spiciness to it with very sweet after-taste. Afterwards the back of his tongue felt clean and refreshed, so he picked up another one and put it in his mouth. He put all of the shells on the beam besides him, but the girl didn't seem to care and just casually spit them out. The random falling shells had caused quite a few people below to get annoyed and move further away.

Zuo ZiMu asked again: "Miss, what did you hear out there? If you can tell us, I... I will be forever grateful." Because he was the one in need, he tried to sound as polite as he can. The young girl asked in 

return: "The Divine Farmer Clan people 

talked about some ‘Limitless Jade Cliff', what in the world is that?" 

Zuo ZiMu was taken aback for a moment, quickly recovered and replied: "' Limitless Jade Cliff'? Do we have some precious jade or jade stone? Never heard of it before, Sister Xin, have you heard of this before?" 

Before ShuangQing could respond, the young girl cut in: "Of course she never heard of it before. Stop playing around as if I'm a kid, if you don't want to say it, then don't. Hmph! Not like I really care!"

A bit awkwardly, Zuo ZiMu continued: "Oh yeah, I think I know. Divine Farmer Clan was probably talking about this smooth cliff face of the White Dragon Peak in our Limitless Mountain (Mt. Wuliang). This rock is very smooth like a mirror; you can even make out individual hairs in the reflection. Some people say it is a big piece of jade, but in reality, it's really nothing more than a really smooth and really clean piece of rock."

The young girl replied: "Well if that's all why didn't you say it earlier? Then how did you and Divine Farmer Clan become enemies? Why would they not even allow a dog of Limitless Sword live?"

Zuo ZiMu sees that he can't get anything out of the girl without first letting his secrets out. Because of the urgency of the situation and with all the outsiders present, he can't very well grab the girl and force her to tell can he? He suggested: "Miss, please come down so I can tell you everything." 

The girl's feet continued to swing back and forth again: "If you are going to tell, what difference does it make if I come down? And I don't believe more than half of what you say anyways. So go right ahead."

Rage flashed on Zuo ZiMu's face, but he quickly recovered and began: "Last year Divine Farmer Clan came to ask for access to our back mountains to collect some herbs and I refused. So they snuck in and ran into Brother Rong and a couple of disciples, who scolded the perpetrators for trespassing. They replied: "What is this place? The Imperial Gardens? Why can't we come here? Did Limitless Sword buy up all of Limitless Mountain?" Words were exchanged and the conversation became very heated until they finally started fighting. Brother Rong did not hold anything back and killed two of them. That's how it all started. Then on the banks of the Lan Cang River we two sides got together again, a couple more of lives were lost there." 

The young girl nodded: "Oh, so that's it? What kind of herbs were they looking for?" 

Zuo ZiMu replied: "I'm not quite sure which kind."

The young girl triumphantly replied: "Figured you wouldn't know. Since you have told me how all this got started, I should probably tell two things. That day I was out catching snakes for my marten Lightning..." 

Duan Yu cuts it: "Your marten's name is Lightning?" 

The young girl answered: "Yeah, of course. When he gets going, isn't he quick as lightning?" 

Duan Yu nodded in agreement: "That's right! Lightning... such a good name!" 

Zuo ZiMu glared at Duan Yu for interrupting, but the girl is just getting to the important part and might get mad if he goes after Duan Yu, so he kept his mouth shut.

The young girl continued to talk to Duan Yu: "Lightning loves to eat poisonous snakes, he doesn't eat anything else really. I had him since he was born, he's four now. He only listens to me and nobody else, not even my parents. If I want him to frighten people then he would, if I tell him to bite he goes and do it. Such a good boy!" She reached into her pouch with her left hand, petting the marten.

Duan Yu wasn't a complete fool: "Mr. Zuo is just as anxious as can be. Why don't you tell him what he wants to know."

The girl let out a little laugh, looked down at Zuo ZiMu, and continued: "So there I was hiding in the bushes searching for snakes, when a couple of men came walking by. One of them said: 'This time, if we don't kill all of Limitless Sword, take over Limitless Mountain (Mt. Wuliang) and the Sword Lake Palace, all of our heads will be taking a nice little trip.' I heard that there will be some fighting, figured it would be pretty interesting, so I kept on listening. They just stayed there chatting, saying something about orders from the Nimble Vulture Palace of Misty Peak to take over Sword Lake Palace and check up on ' Limitless Jade Cliff'."

As she said this, Zuo ZiMu and ShuangQing shot a look at one another at the same time.

The girl asked: "What exactly is Nimble Vulture Palace of Misty Peak? Why does Divine Farmer Clan listen to its command?" 

Zuo ZiMu replied: "This is the first time we have heard of the Nimble Vulture Palace of Misty Peak. We had no idea that Divine Farmer Clan was actually obeying orders when they were stirring up troubles with us." Thinking that the Divine Farmer Clan would obey them, then that Misty Peak-whatever must be quite formidable. Of all the mountains and peaks in Yunan, Zuo ZiMu had never heard of one called Misty Peak. The more he thought about all of this the more worried he got.

The girl ate two more melon seeds before continuing: "So then one guy said: 'If the herb Heaven's Link of Limitless Mountain can cure the illness of our clan leader then we would gladly take on whatever hardships that may come our way to get our hands on it.' Another guy sighed: "Only the Kid Elder of Heaven Mountain (Tian Shan Tong Lao) herself can cure this Life-Death Insignia that is in me. Heaven's Link may have amazing healing powers, but I'm just hoping that it would ease some of the pain when this Life-Death Insignia breaks out, it really is worse than death itself when....' They walked away and I couldn't hear them anymore. Am I clear enough on what happened?"

Zuo ZiMu was deep in thought and did not answer. ShuangQing suggested: "Brother Zuo, Heaven's Link is nothing special. If SiKong Xuan (head of Divine Farmer Clan) want some to numb the pain, then why don't you give him some and all would be solved?" 

Zuo ZiMu snapped back: "Like it would make a difference if we give them some Heaven's Link? Didn't you hear? They are after Limitless Mountain and the Sword Lake Palace!" ShuangQing humphed at him again, but did not reply.

The girl put her right arm under Duan Yu's armpits and said: "Going down?" Before Duan Yu could answer she'd already leapt off of the beam. Duan Yu just managed to let a little yelp out before he was in midair as well. The girl gently landed on the floor with Duan Yu, her left arm still around his right arm. She suggested: "Wonder what Divine Farmer Clan looks like? Let's go outside and have a look."

Zuo ZiMu jumped forth: "Hold on, I still have a couple of question I want to ask. You said that when the Life-Death Insignia on SiKong Xuan breaks out, it is worse than death itself. What is Life-Death Insignia? And who is the Kid Elder of Heaven Mountain?"

The young girl replied: "First of all, I don't know the answers to your questions. Second of all, with an attitude like that, even if I knew the answers I wouldn't tell ya."

At a crucial time like this, Zuo ZiMu really don't want to make more enemies. But with the existence of Limitless Sword in jeopardy here, he couldn't afford not to get to the bottom of all this. So he jumped in front of Duan Yu and the girl and said: "Miss, Divine Farmer Clan is right outside, if you go out and something unfortunate happens to you then my conscience will not let me live in peace." 

The girl answered with a smile: "Why would you care since you didn't really invite me here? Besides, you don't even know my name, if Divine Farmer Clan kills me my parents can't really blame it on you." All the while she's tugging on Duan Yu's arm and walking towards the door.

Zuo ZiMu unsheathed the sword from his waist: "Miss, please stay." 

The girl asked: "Using force now?" 

Zuo ZiMu replied: "I just want to get some clear answers regarding the questions I asked earlier." 

The girl replied: "And if I don't tell you? Are you going to kill me?" 

Zuo ZiMu replied: "Well you have left me with no choice." He brought his sword up to chest level, blocking the exit of the two.

The girl turned to Duan Yu: "This old man wants to kill me, what do you think we should do?" 

Duan Yu flicked the fan in his hand, then answered: "Well, we should do whatever you think we should do." 

The girl asked: "If he just stabs me and kills me, then what?" 

Duan Yu replied: "'Share the blessings, share the hardships.' Melon seeds we ate together, sword blades we take on together." 

The young girl replied: "Now there's a couple of good sentences. You are turning out to be quite a friend, I guess us meeting is not in vain after all. Let's go." 

She started to walk toward the door, as if the sinisterly green sword in Zuo ZiMu's hand is not there.

The sword in Zuo ZiMu's hand moved toward the left shoulder of the girl. He had no intentions of harming her really, just wanted to stop her from leaving.

The young girl tapped the pouch around her waist and hissed. Suddenly a white flash leapt out of the bag onto Zuo ZiMu's right arm. Zuo ZiMu immediately tried to snatch it off with his hand. But the marten was just too quick for him; before he knew it, the marten has already bitten his wrist and jumped back into the girl's pouch.

Zuo ZiMu let out a loud cry and let his sword drop to the floor. Feeling his right wrist go numb, he screamed: "Poison, poison! You... The little bastard marten has poison!" His left hand grabbing just above his right wrist, trying desperately to prevent the poison from spreading upwards.

The disciples of Limitless Sword East Faction scrambled up, three of them went to support their master, the rest of them all drew their swords and surrounded Duan Yu and the girl. Pointing their swords at the two of them, someone threatened: "Quickly hand over the cure, or else this girl will die a most horrible death."

The girl laughed: "I don't have any cure. But you guys just need to get some Heaven's Link, fry it in some thick oil, then feed him a bowl and he should be alright. But within the next 6 hours, he is not allowed to move much, or else the poison goes straight to the heart, and that's not good. What the hell do you guys think you are doing blocking my way? Want to give my marten a try?" As she said this she reached into her pouch and took out her marten. Holding the marten up in her right hand, she started to walk out with her left arm still around Duan Yu's arm.

The disciples had all seen the sorry plight that their master is in, they know that with what little kungfu they have, there is no way they can avoid being bitten by the marten, much less catching it. So they all just stood there and watched the two of them walk out of the atrium.

All the guests that were invited saw the speed of the marten as well. Nobody walked out and tried to stop them.

The girl walked out shoulder to shoulder with Duan Yu. The disciples of Limitless Sword are either inside the atrium or just outside guarding against possible attacks. The two of them did not run into a single person since walking out of Sword Lake Palace.

The girl said quietly: "Lightning has eaten upwards of thousands of poisonous snakes in his life, so his teeth are extremely poisonous. That old man that just got bit should have immediately chopped his arm off, if he waits just a couple of hours more, he would die within eight days." Duan Yu turned to her and asked: "But you said all he needed to do was drink a big bowl of soup made from Heaven's Link?" The girl let out a little laugh and answered: "I was just messing with them. If I didn't, would they have let us out?" Duan Yu was quite taken aback by this: "Wait here for me for a moment while I go back and tell him." The girl pulled him back: "Dummy, if you go back and tell them, do you think they would let us live? Lightning is really something, but he and I can't hold them off if they all came at us. You said it yourself: 'Melon seeds we ate together, sword blades we take on together.' I can't just ran away by myself and leave you here to die."

Duan Yu scratched his head: "Then why don't you just give him some cure?" 

The young girl replied: "Ay! What's with all the fuss? They hit you and you are still this nice to them?" 

Duan Yu raised his hand and felt his cheek, he replied: "It was only one slap, and it stopped hurting a long time ago, so what's the point in remembering it? Pity the person that hit me died. Mencius wrote: 'A compassionate heart is the epitome of humanity.' Buddha taught: To save one human life is better than the 7th level of enlightenment.' Although Mr. Zuo was very malicious, he was still very polite towards you."

That young girl let out a cute little laugh before replying: "At that time I had something that he wanted, of course he is going to be polite to me. I know you are talking for him so I can give him the cure, but I really don't have it. Only my dad has the cure. Besides, soon there won't be a dog left of Limitless Sword after Divine Farmer Clan gets through with them. By the time I get the cure from my dad and return, that Zuo ZiMu's head won't be attached to his neck anymore. At that point, I'm afraid it won't make much of a difference whether or not he is poisoned."

Duan Yu shook his head a bit, but decided to stop talking about the cure. The moon has just risen; under the moonlight, Duan Yu noticed that the young girl's face, which was white with faint signs of red, is even more tender and enchanting. He had to ask: "You couldn't tell your name to that old man with a beard, but can you tell me?" 

The young girl smiled and answered: "My surname is Zhong, my mom and dad call me simply 'Ling-Er" , so you can call me that too if you want to. Let's go sit down over there on the hillside. So tell me, why in the world you came to Limitless  Mountain (Mt. Wuliang)."

The two of them walked side by side toward the hillside to the northwest. Duan Yu started to talk as they walked: "I ran away from home, wandered all over the place. By the time I arrived in Pu Er I had ran out of money. I heard from people there that a Mr. Ma WuDe is very good to guests and visitors, so I went to visit him to get a couple of free meals. Just so happens he was about to leave to come to Limitless Mountain (Mt. Wuliang). I heard many times of Limitless Mountain's beauty and serenity. So I decided to follow him here to check it out." 

Zhong Ling nodded her head and asked: "So why did you run away from home?" 

Duan Yu replied: "My dad wanted to teach me kungfu, I didn't want to learn. So he started to force me, so I had no choice but to run away."

Zhong Ling stared at him in disbelief, sizing him up over and again. Still not quite believing him, she asked: "Why don't you want to learn kungfu? Don't want to put in the hard work?" 

Duan Yu replied: "I don't care about putting in the hard work. It just doesn't make any sense in my head to learn it. So I disobeyed my dad, so my dad got mad and got in an argument again with my mom...." 

Zhong Ling smiled: "Your mom is always taking your side and argues with your dad, right?" 

Duan Yu answered: "Of course!" 

Zhong Ling sighed: "My mom is the same." She stared toward the west spellbound, as if looking at something very far away. After a long while, she asked: "Why doesn't it make sense to you?"

Duan Yu replied: "I have been studying Buddhism since I was a kid. Dad even hired a teacher to come and teach me The Four Books and the Five Classics, as well as poetry, lyrics, songs, and prose. He also invited a very wise monk to come and teach me Buddhist scriptures. For the last ten years, I have been taught that a follower of Confucianism should have a merciful heart, pushing himself to help others. In addition, a disciple of Buddha must not kill nor rage but should be merciful and benevolent in mind and action. Suddenly my dad wanted me to learn kungfu, to learn how to beat and kill people. Naturally, I felt it was wrong and didn't listen. My dad and I debated and argued about this for three days and I still wouldn't listen. He had many of scripture quotes remembered wrong, and some of his interpretations were off too." 

{Note: The Four Books are The Great Doctrine, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Analects of Confucious, and Mencius. The Five Classics are The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Changes, The Book of Rites, and The Spring and Autumn Annals.}

Zhong Ling added: "So your dad got really angry and beat you, right?"

Duan Yu shook his head: "My dad didn't hit me at all. He just merely hit two pressure points on my body and in an instant it felt like there were thousands and thousands of ants and mosquitoes biting down on me. My dad said: 'How does it feel? I am your dad, so I'll stop this after a bit, but what if I was your enemy, then you are in for a fate worse than death. Just try and see if you can kill yourself.' At that time, I can't even lift a finger, how was I suppose to commit suicide? Besides, I'm doing pretty good living, why would I want to kill myself? Afterwards my mom came and started to argue with my dad and my dad released my pressure points. The next day I ran away."

Zhong Ling listened to all of this in disbelief, suddenly she said rather loudly: "Your dad knows how to hit pressure points, not only that but it's also one of the top kungfus in the world! Did he just stab somewhere on your body with one finger and then you couldn't move and felt numb and itchy all over?" 

Duan Yu answered: "Yeah, what's so strange about that?" 

Zhong Ling's face is just full of shock and disbelief: "You asked me what's so strange about that? You actually asked me what's so strange about that?! People would be willing to kowtow to your dad 10,000 times and beg for 10 or 20 years just to learn a fraction of your dad's pressure point hitting kungfu. Yet you actually don't want to learn it, of course it is strange!"

Duan Yu replied: "I really don't see what's the big deal about this pressure point hitting kungfu." Zhong Ling sighed: "You must not say that. And you must not let others know about this!" Duan Yu asked: "Why?"

Zhong Ling answered: "You don't know any kungfu and don't understand anything about the martial world either do you? Your family's pressure point hitting kungfu has no match in this world, it's called ‘Yiyang Finger’ [Soliatary Solar Finger]. Other people in this world, when they hear the phrase ‘Yiyang Finger’, they almost drool in envy. If people knew your dad knows this, some of them probably would kidnap you and force your dad to exchange the manual for ‘Yiyang Finger’ as ransom. Then what?"

Duan Yu scratched his head: "Didn't even think about that. My dad would probably get really mad and go fight it out with them." 

Zhong Ling said: "Right, most people wouldn't dare to go fight against your family. But for the secrets of '‘Yiyang Finger’ ', you never know. Besides, you are in their hands so that really makes the situation very difficult. Tell you what, don't even tell people that your surname is Duan."

Duan Yu replied: "There are tens of thousands of people with the surname of Duan in Dali, I don't think every single one of them knows this kungfu. Besides, if my surname is not Duan, then what is it?" 

Zhong Ling smiled: "Why don't you just momentarily use mine?" Duan Yu smiled back: "That works, but you are going to have to call me 'big brother' now. How old are you?" Zhong Ling answered: "16! How about you?" Duan Yu replied: "I'm 3 years older than you."

Zhong Ling plucked a piece of grass from the ground and slowly tore it to pieces. Suddenly she shook her head and said: "You actually turned down learning '‘Yiyang Finger’ '! I still can't believe that! You are lying to me aren't you?"

Duan Yu laughed at that a bit, and replied: "You make it sound so marvelous and wonderful, but can it feed you and help you make a living? I say that marten of yours, Lightning, is alot more formidable. I just don't like the fact that he can kill with just merely a bite." 

Zhong Ling sighed: "If he can't kill with just a bite, then what good is he for?" 

Duan Yu replied: "You are such a young girl, why are you thinking about killing and fighting all the time?"

Zhong Ling asked: "You really don't get it? Or are you just pulling my leg?" 

Duan Yu answered with a question of his own: "What do you mean?" Zhong Ling pointed to the east: "Look over there."

Duan Yu looked over and sees about ten or so clouds of greenish smoke coming from half way up the mountain that she was pointing to. But he can't really figure out what that means.

Zhong Ling continued: "You don't want to kill others. But others want to kill you. You aren't going to just hand them your head on a platter are you? That smoke is coming from Divine Farmer Clan preparing their poison, which will soon be used against Limitless Sword. I don't want to get involved with this mess, let's try and get away from here."

Duan Yu shook the fan in his hand: "This kind of fighting and quarreling in the martial world is getting more and more out of hand. Somebody in Limitless Sword killed someone in Divine Farmer Clan, but now Divine Farmer Clan got Rong ZiJu and Gong GuangJie, an eye for an eye, I say they are about even. Even if there was some injustice, they should go to the local magistrate and let them handle it, not just go out and kill! Does our Dali not have laws anymore?"

Zhong Ling clicked her tongue three times and a bit of disdain and scorn shown up on her face. She replied: "From what you say, you would think that you are a relative of the king or some big shot official or something. We normal people aren't going to listen to that." She looked up at the sky for a bit, pointed to the southwest, and whispered: "We'll wait until the moon goes behind a cloud, then we'll sneak out in that direction. I don't think the Divine Farmer Clan will catch us if we do that." 

Duan Yu replied: "No! I'm going to go talk to their leader and tell him not to kill people just because he wants to." Some pity surfaced in Zhong Ling's eyes: "Big Brother, you really don't understand how things work do you? Divine Farmer Clan is dark, evil, and mean. They are very good at using poison, you just saw how they killed two people back there. Let's not cause more trouble and get out of here." 

Duan Yu answered: "No! I'm going to have to get involved in this, if you are afraid, then just wait here for me." He stood up and started walking to the east.

Zhong Ling waited until he had walked ten yards or so, then she suddenly chased up to him, her right hand coming out aiming for his shoulder. Duan Yu heard the footsteps and was just about to turn around when she grabbed his right shoulder. Zhong Ling followed with a slight hook with her leg. Duan Yu couldn't keep his balance and fell straight forward, his nose smashed against a rock and started to bleed. He hurriedly stood back up and angrily asked: "What the hell was that for? Damn that hurts!" 

Zhong Ling said: "I wanted to see once and for all whether you really don't know any kungfu or just pretending. I was doing this for your own good."

Duan Yu replied with some indignation: "What's so good about it?" He wiped his nose with his hand, immediately his hand was covered in blood. Some blood fell onto his chest and caused a couple of red spots on his shirt. He really wasn't that hurt, but seeing so much blood come out, he couldn't help but to start muttering: "Ouch! Ouch!"

Zhong Ling was starting to get a little worried as well, she quickly took out her handckerchief out and tried to wipe some of the blood off. Duan Yu was still mad at her, so he tried to push her away, saying: "Get away from me, who needs your sympathy?" He didsn't know any kungfu and his moves had no coordination. So as he naturally tried to push her away, his palm headed straight toward her chest. Zhong Ling just reacted and naturally grabbed his wrist, borrowed the force of his push, led his move by her, and added a little push of her own at the end, all in one motion. Duan Yu had no chance and fell over again, this time he banged his head against a rock and fainted.

Zhong Ling saw that he was not moving, so she shouted at him: "Get up! I'm not finished talking to you!" Seeing that he's still not moving, she started to get worried, and quickly went over to him. Noticing that Duan Yu had fainted, she immediated pinched his philtrum, and then started to massage his chest with great effort.

After a while, Duan Yu finally started to come around. Feeling as if he was leaning against something soft and noticing a very faint, sweet, and serene smell, he slowly opened his eyes and saw the beautiful eyes of Zhong Ling looking down at him with great concern. Seeing that he had come around, Zhong Ling let out a huge sigh of relief and said: "Thank goodness you didn't die." Noticing that he is lying in her lap with his head leaned up against her stomach, Duan Yu's heart skipped a beat. However, he immediately felt the throbbing pain on the back of his head and let out a big "Ouch!"

This gave Zhong Ling quite a scare: "What's the matter?" Duan Yu answered: "My... my head hurts like hell." Zhong Ling said: "You are not dead, no need to scream bloody hell." Duan Yu replied: "If I'm dead, how could I scream bloody hell?"

Zhong Ling laughed at that comment, she held his head up. The back of his head has an egg size bump where it banged against the rock, although it's not bleeding, she figure it still hurts alot. She said: "Well who told you to make such a perverted move? If it were anyone else, I would have immediately killed him. You only got a bump on your head, you should be thankful."

Duan Yu sat up: "Me? Perverted? What in the world? Where did you get that idea?"

Zhong Ling is young and hencefore only kind of understood male-female relationships, but not really. She blushed and said: "I'm not telling you, all in all you were in the wrong. Who told you to send your palm toward th... there...." Duan Yu suddenly realized what she was talking about and felt very embarrassed. He tried to think of something to say to explain. But he decided that excuses are not right, so he said: "I... I didn't mean to do that." After saying that, he stood up.

Zhong Ling got up as well: "Since you didn't mean to, I'll guess I'll let that one slide. Good thing you finally came around, you scared the hell out of me right then and there." 

Duan Yu said: "Back in the Sword Lake Palace, if you didn't show up and help me, I was sure to get a couple of slaps on the face. Now that I fell twice, I say everything is even. When it comes down to it, it's all fate, I can't avoid it." 

Zhong Ling replied: "Why are you talking like that? Are you still mad at me?" 

Duan Yu answered: "Well you don't expect me to cheer: 'Great, wonderful!' or turn around and thank you when you hit me do you?" 

Zhong Ling grabbed his hand, said in an apologetic tone: "Please don't be mad at me. I swear I won't hit you ever again." 

Duan Yu said: "Only if you let me hit you really hard twice."

Zhong Ling really don't want to, but seeing how he had turned around and was about to walk off, she relented: "Alright, I'll let you hit me twice. Just... just don't hit me too hard." 

Duan Yu replied: "If I don't hit you hard, then how can I get my justice? It has to be hard, if you don't want me to hit you, then just forget it."

Zhong Ling sighed, closed her eyes, and quietly said: "Alright! But after you hit me, you can't be mad anymore."

After a while, Duan Yu still hadn't hit her yet. So she opened her eyes and saw Duan Yu looking at her, sort of smiling but not quite. Zhong Ling asked in surprise: "What are you waiting for?" Duan Yu stuck out his right pinky, lightly flicked once on her right cheek, and then lightly flicked on her left cheek. Smiling, he said: "Alright. That's as hard as I could hit you. Did it hurt much?" Zhong Ling can't be any happier: "I knew all along that you were a good person!"

She was standing just a foot or so away from Duan Yu, her fragrance permeated the air. The more Duan Yu look at her the prettier she became. He didn't want to move away. After a long while, he finally said: "Alright, now that I got my revenge, I need to go find that SiKong Xuan now."

Zhong Ling anxiously said: "Dummy, don't go! You don't know a thing about the rules of the martial world, if you somehow offend him accidentally, I can't get you out of it this time." 

Duan Yu smiled and shook his head: "Don't worry, I'll be back soon, just wait for me here." He turns around and starts to walk toward the green smoke.

Zhong Ling stood there trying to decide what to do, then she said: "Alright, like you said: 'Melon seeds ate together, sword blades we take on together'!" She chased up to him and they walked side-by-side toward the smoke.

Soon, they saw two men dressed in yellow running up to them. The older one on the left spoke up: "Who is it? What are you here for?" Both men had a medicine bag hanging off their shoulders, each had a wider than usual saber in hand. Duan Yu answered: "I am Duan Yu, I wish to talk to Master SiKong of your clan." The old man asked: "What for?" Duan Yu replied: "I will tell Master SiKong when I see him." The old man asked: "May I humbly ask which sect are you from and who your master is?"

Duan Yu answered: "I'm not of any sect. My master's surname is Meng, his name is ShuSheng, and he has styled himself XuRu. My master's specialty is logic of changes, and has had some remarkable success in the field of talks of the divine and systems of diction." He was, of course, refering to his teacher that was invited by his dad to teach him the 4 Books and the 5 Classics. That old man, hearing the "talks of the divine" and the "systems of diction", thought they were some weird and strange kungfu. Duan Yu standing there casually fanning himself with the fan in his hand had all the looks of a kungfu master who does not want to show himself. Although the old man has never heard of anyone in the martial world named Meng ShuSheng, but since Duan Yu said he "has had some remarkable success" he probably isn't just some nobody. So he politely said to Duan Yu: "If that's the case, then please wait here for a second while I go and report to my master."

Zhong Ling waited until he hurriedly ran up and around the hill, then turned to Duan Yu and asked: "What was all that lie about 'logics of changes'? What kind of kungfu is that? What if SiKong Xuan tests you later? How are you going to cover that?" 

Duan Yu replied: "I remember most all of the 'Cycle of Changes'. It probably wouldn't be that bad if SiKong Xuan wants to test me on the meanings and philosophies within it." Zhong Ling just stared at him, not sure how to respond.

The old man came back and said with a stone cold face: "What the hell are you talking about? Master tells you to go see him!" From his looks, he probably got a good bit of scolding from SiKong Xuan. Duan Yu nodded and started to walk up with Zhong Ling.

Soon the three of them made their way around the mountain side and came up to twenty or so men sitting around in a pile of scattered rocks. Duan Yu walked up, seeing a short and skinny old man sitting on the tallest rock. He had a goatee beard and wore an arrogant expression on his face. Duan Yu figured that he probably is the head of the Divine Farmer Clan SiKong Xuan, so he cupped his fist and said: "Duan Yu is honored to meet Master SiKong."

SiKong Xuan just merely nodded his head, not even getting up, he asked: "Mr. Duan, why are you coming to see me?"

Duan Yu replied: "I heard that your clan and Limitless Sword have become mortal enemies. Having just witnessed two people of Limitless Sword dying a most horrible of deaths, my heart could not bear it and I decided to come here in an attempt to try and stop all this killing. 'Enemies are easy to make but hard to break', and besides, this kind of vigilante killing is against the law. If any governor or officials find out, it could be a lot of trouble. I hope that Master SiKong would stop before it is too late and not trouble Limitless Sword anymore."

SiKong Xuan just sat there and listened to him talked. Now that Duan Yu stopped talking, SiKong Xuan still did not respond, just looked at Duan Yu sideways.

Duan Yu continued: "What I just said is a plea for Master SiKong to think it all through before acting." SiKong Xuan is still looking at him with curiosity, suddenly he let out a hearty laugh and said: "Who do you think you are? Actually coming here and try to distract me. Who told you to come here?" 

Duan Yu answered: "Nobody told me to come here, I came here because I wanted to."

SiKong Xuan hmphed and replied: "I have been walking around in the martial world for forty years, and never once have seen anyone as brazen as you little bastard. Ah-Sheng, seize these two little kids for me." The tall man besides him answered and grabbed Duan Yu's right arm.

Zhong Ling immediately shouted out: "Hold on! Master SiKong, Mr. Duan has only been trying to politely persuade you, if you don't want to listen then don't, why come to blows?" She turned to Duan Yu: "Big Brother, Divine Farmer Clan won't listen to you. We don't need to get involved in other people's business, let's go."

Ah-Sheng had already grabbed Duan Yu's arms and twisted them behind his back. He looked at SiKong Xuan, waiting for his instructions on what to do next. SiKong Xuan coldly said: "The thing that the Divine Farmer Clan hates the most is other people meddling in our affairs. There must be something more to you two babies coming here and wasting my time. Ah-Hong, seize the girl." Another man answered as he extended his hands toward Zhong Ling.

Zhong Ling stepped three steps to the side and said: "Master SiKong, in truth, I'm not scared of you. It's just that my mom and dad do not want me to make trouble. So let my Big Brother Duan go, or else when you force me to respond in kind, it would not be much fun."

SiKong Xuan laughed heartily at that comment: "Well aren't we boasting a little too much? Ah-Hong! What are you waiting for?" Ah-Hong answered again as he tries to grab Zhong Ling's wrist. Zhong Ling pulled her right arm back and sent her left palm out. The palm was like a knife as it headed towards Ah-Hong's forehead. Ah-Hong lowered his head to avoid the move, but Zhong Ling's right fist came in from underneath in an uppercut. It caught him squarely on the jaw and knocked him onto his back.

SiKong Xuan casually observed: "Seems like the girl can do a thing or two, but not enough to be able to get away with it here." He shot a look over at a tall old man besides him and waved his right hand. The old man immediately stood up and stepped up to Zhong Ling. He was a whole two feet taller than Zhong Ling and his hands came in from above, like talons, straight for her shoulders.

Zhong Ling immediately dodged out of the way, but the man's left hand merely missed her face by inches. Feeling the piercing wind caused by the move, Zhong Ling started to get a little scared, she spoke up: "Master SiKong, tell him to stop. Else don't blame me for being impolite, and when my dad scolds me for this in the future, you won't be in such a good shape either." As she is talking, she dodged three more moves from the old man. SiKong Xuan commanded: "Grab her!" The old man led on with his left hand while his right hand drew a little circle, suddenly he flipped his palm down and grabbed onto Zhong Ling's right arm.

Zhong Ling let out a little scream and squirmed in pain. She shook her left hand and hissed a couple of time. A flash white shot out. The old man let out a muted groan, let her arm go, and sat down on the ground. The marten has bit him on the back of his hand and has already jumped back into Zhong Ling's waiting hands.

A middle-aged man jumped out from beside SiKong Xuan and helped the old man up. The old man's whole body was shaking and the back of his hand had turned pitch-black. Zhong Ling hissed twice more and her marten scrambled towards Ah-Sheng's face. Ah-Sheng tried to bat it away, but the marten instead just bit him on his hand. Ah-Sheng's kungfu is not as good as the old man's, so he is even less able to tolerate it. Immediately he curled up into a ball and started to scream. Zhong Ling grabbed Duan Yu's arm, started to walk off quickly, and whispered: "We are in trouble now, let's get out of here!"

The men sitting around SiKong Xuan are all the top fighters in the Divine Farmer Clan, these men have dealt with poison for most of their lives and have seen pretty much every kind of poison there is. 

But this marten's lightning speed and incredible poison was something that none of them had ever heard of. SiKong Xuan shouted: "Seize this girl this instant! Don't let her get away!" Four men answered his order and jumped up. They split into two groups and came at the two of them from opposite sides.

Zhong Ling hissed several more times and the marten jumped from one person to the next. In an blink of an eye, all four men were either rolling on the ground or curled up into a ball.

The members of the Divine Farmer Clan all know that this little marten is indeed something to be reckoned with, but nobody wanted to seem cowardly in front of the leader. So seven or eight more men came chasing after them. Zhong Ling threatened: "If you don't want to live then come on!" The men are all holding a weapon, be it a medicine bag or a short saber, all hoping to try and bat away the marten with his weapon. But the marten is faster than any flying weapon in the world, and soon all of the men were rolling on the ground as well.

SiKong Xuan tossed off his robe, reached into his bosom and took out a small bottle. He applied the contents of the bottle to his hands and arms, and started chasing after Duan Yu and Zhong Ling. He jumped in front of the two of them and said: "Stop!"

The marten jumped from Zhong Ling's hands towards his nose. SiKong Xuan held his palm up vertically, but couldn't help but feel nervous. He is not sure whether or not this medicine that works against snake poison will work against this poisonous marten that he has never heard of before. If it doesn't then his life and the entire clan is destroyed. The marten was just about to bite down on his hand when suddenly it twisted in the air, and bounced back to Zhong Ling by rebounding off of his hand with its back feet. Turns out that inside the marten there is stored a great amount of snake poison, which is exactly what the medicine that SiKong Xuan applied works the best against. SiKong Xuan was delighted, immediately he struck out with his left palm. The palm wind was fierce, Zhong Ling could not get out of the way and almost fell over. Duan Yu, on the other hand, was completely overwhelmed by what is left of the palm wind and fell back on the ground.

Zhong Ling anxiously hissed a couple of more times, urging the marten to attack. The marten jumped out again, but it could not bear the medicine on SiKong Xuan's palms. So it instead went after his head and legs, but SiKong Xuan waved his arms around, protecting his body, making it impossible to get close.

SiKong Xuan was nevertheless still afraid of the marten, and he kept on giving orders to his men.

Twenty of so clan members surrounded them, each with an herb in hand. They lit the herb and smoke started to fill the air. Duan Yu just got up when he suddenly felt light headed and fell back down again. In a daze, he saw that Zhong Ling also fell down from the smoke. Two clan members stepped forth to seize Zhong Ling, but the marten, in protecting its master, bit both of them. Everyone stepped back in fear, still surrounding the two of them, but nobody dared to seize them.

SiKong Xuan ordered: "Start burning Manly Yellow on the east side and Deer Musk on the south side. The others get out of the way."

The clan members followed the orders and started to burn Manly Yellow and Deer Musk. There is not a herb or poison that the Divine Farmer Clan is not equipped with, not only that, all they have are the best picks of the drugs. The pure Manly Yellow and Deer Musk they burned immediately let out a mace like cloud of smoke, carried by the southeasterly wind, the smoke slowly descended upon Zhong Ling. However, the marten turned out to be immune to the smoke, still jumping back and forth among the clan members. Before anyone knew it five more clan members had been bitten.

Suddenly, an idea popped up in SiKong Xuan's mind. He ordered: "Start piling up dirt, let's bury this girl and her marten alive." The clan members immediately started to dig up dirt and throwing it onto Zhong Ling's body.

Duan Yu thought to himself that he is the cause of all this trouble. How could he live on if Zhong Ling is going to die. So he summoned up all his strength and flipped on top of Zhong Ling's body. Holding her tight, he shouted: "We are dying together!" The dirt kept on raining down on his head.

The words "We are dying together" hit home with SiKong Xuan. He looked around, seeing twenty or so clan members rolling on the ground in pain, seven or eight of them are very important members of the clan, and two of them are actually his martial brothers. Although his anger would be vented if he killed the girl right now, all these people would probably die too. The marten's poison is unlike anything he has ever seen before, he probably has to get the remedy from her in order to cure it. So he ordered: "Don't bury their heads, leave them alive."

Soon, the two of them were buried up to their heads. Zhong Ling felt like an enormous weight has been placed on her body and Duan Yu had held on to her the entire time. Only their heads were not covered by dirt, neither one of them could move an inch.

SiKong Xuan asked: "Little girl, do you want to live or die?" 

Zhong Ling answered: "Of course I want to live. If you kill me and Big Brother Duan here, then alot of you guys would die too." 

SiKong Xuan replied: "Good, then quickly hand over the cure for that marten poison of yours, that way I'll let you live." 

Zhong Ling shook her head: "Not just my life, both of our lives." 

SiKong Xuan replied: "Alright, I'll let both of you live. Where is the cure?" 

Zhong Ling answered: "I don't have it on me. Only my dad can cure Lightning's poison. I told you earlier not to make me to use force, or else my dad would be mad at me and you wouldn't get anything good out of it either." 

SiKong Xuan replied angrily: "Still bullshiting at a time like this? See if I just leave you two here and let you two die of hunger!"

Zhong Ling replied: "Everything I have told you is true, why don't you believe me? Ay! All in all, this whole matter is really troublesome. Probably won't be able to hide it from my dad, what do I do then?" 

SiKong Xuan asked: "What's your dad's name?" 

Zhong Ling answered: "You are not a baby, how come you are so unreasonable? Like I can just go around telling everyone my dad's name."

SiKong Xuan had been making a living in the martial world for decades now and had earned a name and some fame in the world. But today he had just about ran out of ideas regarding these two little kids. He bit down and ordered: "Bring me a torch! Let's light the little girl's hair on fire and see if she'll talk!" A clan member handed over the torch, SiKong Xuan grabbed a hold of it and walked up to the two of them.

In the light of the fire, Zhong Ling could not help but get scared by his hideous expression. She shouted out: "Hey! Hey! Don't burn my hair. If the hair is on fire, then the head is going to hurt like crazy. If you don't believe me, then why don't you try it on your beard?" 

A hideous grin appeared on SiKong Xuan's face: "Of course it hurts, I don't need to burn my beard to know that." Holding up the torch, he gave it a shake right in front of Zhong Ling's face. Zhong Ling let out a little scream.

Duan Yu hugged her tightly and shouted: "Goat beard, I started this whole mess, why don't you burn my hair instead!" 

Zhong Ling shouted back: "No! It'll hurt you too." 

SiKong Xuan offered: "Well if you are scared of getting hurt, then hand over the cure so I can start working on my brothers."

Zhong Ling replied: "How dumb are you really? I have already told you, only my dad can cure Lightning's poison, even my mom does not know how. My Lightning is very very rare, his bite is filled with strange and exotic poison. You think it's that easy to cure?"

SiKong Xuan could hear the people that have been bitten groaning all around him, so he knows that the poison is very strong. These men all care very much for face, they wouldn't even mutter a sound even if a hand or a foot is broken or cut off. The medicine for snake venom has already been applied to every one of them. But from the continued groans, it is obvious that the clan's anti-venom that has always worked before is having no effect. Several people have tried to apply some medicines that work against scorpion, centipede, or spider poisons, but that has only increased the volume of their groans. SiKong Xuan stared down at Zhong Ling with rage and shouted: "Who is your old man? Tell me his name now!"

Zhong Ling asked: "You really want me to say it? Aren't you scared to find out?"

This set SiKong Xuan off, he lifted up the torch and was just about to set Zhong Ling's hair on fire. All of the sudden he felt an incredible amount of pain coming from the back of his head, something has bit him there. Shocked, SiKong Xuan immediately took a breath to protect his head and heart, he tossed the torch away and tried to grab whatever is on the back of his head. Suddenly the back of his hand was bitten as well. Turns out that the marten has dug its way out of the dirt and taken advantage of the fact that SiKong Xuan was distracted and attacked. After being bit twice in a row, SiKong Xuan is scared nearly out of his wits. Immediately he sat down and started to try to force the poison out using his inner force. The clan members were busily trying to cover the marten with dirt again, but this time the marten jumped up and bit two more men. A couple of more white flashes in the dark and the marten had jumped into the bushes and disappeared.

SiKong Xuan's underlings hurriedly took out medicines and herbs that work against snake venom and started applying it to their master. Some of the medicines were taken orally along with a ginseng they had available. SiKong Xuan had to divide his strength against the two places where he was bitten and soon it became obvious to him that he couldn't keep this up. Biting down hard, he grabbed the dagger around his waist with his left hand and cut of his right arm at the elbow. The clan members all trembled at the sight and scrambled to put some drugs that stops bleeding on the wound. But blood gushing out of the wound washed away the medicines as soon as they were applied. Eventually someone tore a piece of clothing off and tightly bandaged up SiKong Xuan's elbow, finally stopping the bleeding.

After witnessing such a harrowing scene, Zhong Ling's face turned white as she stopped shouting. SiKong Xuan asked in a low voice: "After being bitten by that devil marten, how many days do you have?" 

Zhong Ling answered in a shaky voice: "My dad said up to seven days, but... but since Master SiKong your inner strength is so strong and is so good at kungfu. Maybe... I'm sure you'll live for longer than that."

SiKong Xuan didn't reply, instead he ordered: "Pull that guy out of there." The clan members pulled Duan Yu out of the dirt pile. Zhong Ling panicked: "Hey! Hey! This has nothing to do with him! Don't hurt him!" She tried to take advantage of the moment and struggle out of the dirt pile, but the clan members immediately filled the space left by Duan Yu with more dirt. Zhong Ling sees there is nothing more she can do, so she started crying.

Duan Yu is quite scared himself, but he forced himself to calm down. Smiling, he said: "Miss Zhong, a true man faces death like it's nothing, don't show any weaknesses in front of these bad people." 

Zhong Ling answered between sobs: "I'm not a man! I don't want to face your death like it's nothing! I want to show weakness!"

SiKong Xuan ordered in a heavy voice: "Give this fellow some Intestine Fragmenter (Duan Chang San), give him the seven days worth of dosage." A clan member poured out of a medicine bottle about half a bottle worth of red powder, and forced them into Duan Yu's mouth. 

Zhong Ling cried out: "That's poison, don't eat it!" Duan Yu knew it was a very potent poison when he heard the words "Intestine Fragmenter". But figuring that since he is in the hands of others, there is nothing he can do to refuse to take the poison. So he swallowed the powder, smacked his lips, smiled, and said: "Taste pretty sweet. Master SiKong, how about you eat the other half of the bottle?"

SiKong Xuan just hmphed at him in anger. Zhong Ling let out a little laugh in the middle of a sob, and then went right on crying.

SiKong Xuan said to Duan Yu: "This Intestine Fragmenter will break out after 7 days, splitting your intestines into inch long pieces. Go and get the cure for the marten's poison, if you get back here in 7 days, then I'll give you the cure for it and let the girl go too." 

Zhong Ling cuts in: "Just the drug does not work, you have to have my dad use his unique inner strength to force the poison out." 

SiKong Xuan replied: "Then he is just going to get your dad here to get you out." 

Zhong Ling replied: "Easy for you to say. Like my dad would leave the mountain, he wouldn't even take a step out of the valley." SiKong Xuan did not reply to her last comment.

Duan Yu offered: "How about this? Why don't all of us go to Miss Zhong's home? Then you can ask your dad to cure the poison, wouldn't that be fast and effective?" 

Zhong Ling replied: "No, no! My dad has sworn that if someone takes one step in my family valley, no matter who it is, only death awaits him."

SiKong Xuan thought to himself: "The Limitless Sword matter is not settled yet, can't leave this place. If I did, it's not like the Kid Elder of Heaven Mountain would let me live. I would only die a lot worse of a death." By now the itch and numbness from the marten bite at the back of his head is getting worse and worse, he finally let out several groans of pain.

Zhong Ling said: "Master SiKong, sorry about this." SiKong Xuan angrily replied: "Sorry my ass!" Duan Yu cuts in (he seems to have a habit of this): "Master SiKong, using such vulgar language toward Miss Zhong is not the conduct of a gentlemen."

SiKong Xuan angrily rebuked: "Your grandma wasn't one either!" However, he thought to himself: "When the 'Life-Death Insignia' in my body breaks out, the suffering is really unbearable. Better to die like this, at least it's straightforward and clear cut." So he turned to Zhong Ling: "I don't care about all the details, don't invite your dad for the cure is fine as well. We'll just all die together here." His words were filled with sadness and resignation.

Zhong Ling thought about all this for a bit and said: "Let me out of here, and I'll write a letter to my dad asking him to come here and rescue you. And you send a person who is not afraid to die to deliever it." 

SiKong Xuan responded: "I want this fellow named Duan to go, why send anyone else?" 

Zhong Ling replied: "Man you got bad memory! If someone takes one step in my family valley, no matter whom it is, that someone will die. Didn't I already tell you about this? I don't want my Big Brother Duan to die, don't you 

know?" SiKong Xuan answered: "He can't die, then the people in my clan should? If he can't go then don't go, let's all die together. See which one of us dies first."

Zhong Ling started to sob again: "What kind of a person are you? Bullying a little girl like me? People in the martial world will all find out about this and they all say that Master SiKong of Divine Farmer Clan has dragged his name through dirt and is not a real man."

SiKong Xuan only sat there and worried about using his inner strength to combat the poison, completely ignoring her.

Duan Yu spoke up: "Then just let me go then. Miss Zhong, since I'm going to tell him the news and telling him to save you, I don't think he would do much harm to me." 

Zhong Ling's face suddenly lit up: "I got it! Follow my plan. Don't tell my dad where I am, that way if he kills you, then he wouldn't know where I am. Just leave as soon as you lead him here, or else it would not be good." 

Duan Yu nodded: "This plan seems to work."

Zhong Ling turned to SiKong Xuan: "Master SiKong, Big Brother Duan is going to leave as soon as he arrives. So how are you going to give the cure for 'Intestine Fragmenter'?" 

SiKong Xuan pointed to a huge rock far to the northwest: "I'll instruct someone to wait there with the cure. When Mr. Duan gets to that rock, he'll get the cure." Since he wants Duan Yu to go and save his life, his words became considerably more polite. So he ordered his men to dig Zhong Ling out, but first they handcuffed her hands and then dug out her lower body.

Zhong Ling asked: "If you don't take the cuffs off, how can I write a letter?" SiKong Xuan replied: "A weird girl like you, writing a letter probably would lead to more tricks. Just give Mr. Duan something on you that proves that his words are true and that would do."

Zhong Ling laughed and said: "I hate writing, so happy to hear that you don't want me to write. What do I have on me? Um, Big Brother Duan, take the pair of shoes that I have on. My mom and dad will recognize those."

Duan Yu nodded and bent down to take off her shoes. As his left hand held her bare foot, feeling its fine skin and smoothness, his heart shook and he couldn't help but look up at her face. They smiled at each other. Under the fire light, he sees that there are still tears on her cheeks and yet her eyes are filled with happiness. He was spellbound.

SiKong Xuan is getting a little impatient, so he shouted: "Go already! What are you two kids doing staring at each other? Brother Duan, get done with it already. When you get the person here, then of course I would let the girl go so she can be your wife. Then you'll have plenty of time to feel her foot."

Duan Yu and Zhong Ling both blushed like crazy. Duan Yu hurriedly took of Zhong Ling's shoes and put them in his shirt. But he still can't refrain from taking another look at Zhong Ling. At this, Zhong Ling let out a coquettish laugh.

SiKong Xuan spoke up again: "Brother Duan, please go and come quickly! All of our lives is in your hands. If there is some hold-up then none of us will live. Miss Zhong, how long does it take to get to your dad's place?" 

Zhong Ling answered: "Two days if he hurries. I would say he would be back in 4 days at the most." SiKong Xuan felt a little better, but still urged: "Then go quickly!"

Zhong Ling spoke up: "I'm going to tell Big Brother Duan how to go, all of you get away. I don't want any of you listening in." 

SiKong Xuan waved his hand and all the clan members walked away. Zhong Ling added: "You too." 

SiKong Xuan thought to himself: "Once I'm cured, if I don't show you little baby a little something then SiKong Xuan has mistaken himself for a man!" But he got up and walked off.

Zhong Ling sighed: "Big Brother Duan, we have only met today, and already we have to be separated." 

Duan Yu smiled and replied: "It's only for 4 days, no big deal really."

Zhong Ling stared at Duan Yu with the two big eyes of hers for a while. Finally, she said: "First go see my mom, tell her about the situation and let her go talk to my dad. This way it'll be much easier." 

She then drew out directions to her home on the ground with her feet. As it turns out, Zhong Ling lives in a valley on the west shore of the LanCang River, not very far away. It is very well hidden and the entrance has several traps, switches, and secret codes. Without specific directions, it is very hard to find and enter the valley. Duan Yu always had a good memory and easily memorized all the direction that Zhong Ling gave him. After she finished, he said: "Alright, I'm going now." He turned around and started to walk.

After about 10 steps or so, Zhong Ling suddenly remembered something and called out: "Hey! Come back here!" 

Duan Yu asked: "What?" 

Zhong Ling said to him after he walked back: "Don't say that your surname is Duan, and especially don't say that your dad knows '‘Yiyang Finger’. Because... Because my dad might start getting ideas." Duan Yu smiled and thought that this little girl is just worrying too much, but it is all in good intentions towards him. So he just said "Alright," as he turned and walked off.


No Comment
Add Comment
comment url