Demi Gods and Semi Devils Chapter 45: Within The Dried Well, Beyond The Mud

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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 5

XLV - At the bottom of the dry well, in the mud

Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 枯井底 污泥处
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by infinityex


DGSD Chapter 45: Within The Dried Well, Beyond The Mud

Ba Tianshi and Zhu Danchen met with Mu Wanqing and introduced her to Xiao Feng, XuZhu and the other gathered people. Ba and Zhu both knew that she was the daughter of the Zhennan King. However, as she had not been formally recognized, they addressed her as Miss Mu.

The group had covered a number of Li when they heard a loud cry from the left along with some loud sounds. The sounds were those of the Crocodile Deity’s, as if he had met some danger. Duan Yu shouted: “That’s my disciple!” Zhong Ling said: You should all go ahead first to take a look. Your disciple is not a bad person by nature. XuZhu agreed: “Yes!” His mother Ye Erniang had been close with the Crocodile Deity and it was likely that they had had some feelings for each other.

The group rode swiftly towards the sound. After making a few turns, they saw a dense forest. Beside the opposing cliff, they saw a strange and alarming scene. 

A large cliff emerged from the deep valley there. Atop the cliff grew a single ancient-looking lone pine tree. Atop a branch of this tree was a man dangling from a single walking cane. Dressed in green, this was indeed Duan Yanqing. His left hand gripped the wooden cane while his right hand held a second cane. That cane was in turn held by the Southern Sea Crocodile Deity hanging below. The Crocodile Deity gripped a man’s long hair - Yun Zhonghe. Yun Zhonghe was holding on to a girl’s hands with both his own. The four people hung down like a long rope, swinging in the breeze precariously. Regardless who let go, those below would plunge into the valley measuring tens of Zhang. The valley was full of rocks and trees, like swords piercing upwards. It would be hard for someone who fell to survive.

At this time, a gust of wind arrived and made the Crocodile Deity, Yun Zhonghe and the girl spin almost half a round. This girl’s back had been facing the group. When she turned around, Duan Yu exclaimed: “Ai Yo!” and recklessly leaped down from his horse.

The girl was indeed the unforgettable Wang Yuyan that he had been pining for night and day.

Duan Yu, in a moment of clarity, saw that the cliff was dangerous and impossible to reach on horseback. He leapt down from the horse and rushed over on food. In front of the pine tree, he saw a big-headed and short fatty wielding a big axe in the process of chopping down the tree.

Duan Yu was bewildered and called out: “Wei! Wei, what are you doing?” The short fatty ignored him and kept hacking away at the pine tree stroke by stroke. “Peng! Peng!” Wood chips flew with large echoes. Duan Yu stretched out a finger and summoned his internal energy, prepared to use the ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’ (Liumai Shenjian) skill to injure him. He did not expect that his control of the skill was still poor and he could not always evoke it. He pointed repeatedly but there was no sign of the sword Qi manifesting. In a panic, he shouted: “Eldest brother! Second brother! My two good sisters and the four kind ladies! Quick, come and save these people!”

In the midst of his shouting, Xiao Feng and XuZhu had rushed over as well. It turned out that this fatty had been obscured by a large rock and could not be seen. Fortunately, the tree was large and solid and the fatty needed some time to chop it down.

Xiao Feng eyed the scene and was most astonished. He could not understand how this had come to pass. XuZhu called out: “Dear Fat-Brother, stop immediately! You must not chop this tree!” The fatty replied: “I planted this tree. I want to chop it down and take it home to make a coffin to sleep in. What right have you to interfere?” His hands never stopped chopping as he spoke. From below, the sounds and moans of the South Sea Crocodile Deity continually drifted over. Duan Yu said: “Second Brother, this man is not to be reasoned with. Please stop him before speaking on.” XuZhu said: “All right!” and dashed forwards. 

A man holding two wooden crutches suddenly appeared and rushed past the group. With a few leaps, he appeared in front of the fatty. It was You Tanzhi. He had slipped out from the donkey cart at some unknown time. You Tanzhi had one crutch to the ground and one crutch pointed to the group. He proclaimed: “No one come over!”

Mu Wanqing had never seen him before. Suddenly seeing his strangely hideous visage, her face went bloodless and she let out a quiet “Ah!” sound.

Duan Yu hurriedly said: “Clan Leader Zhuang, please immediately stop this fatty and tell him not to keep chopping the tree.” You Tanzhi icily replied: “Why should I stop him? What does it benefit?” Duan Yu replied: “If the pine tree falls, everyone below will die.”

XuZhu saw that the situation was critical. He leaped nearer, thinking that even if he could not stop the fatty, he could at least pull up Duan Yanqing and the rest. He recalled the time when he managed to solve the Zhen Long Chess Formation and it had been greatly due to Duan Yanqing’s direction. It was hard to say if it had been for better or worse, learning his skills thereafter and everything that had happened from then on, but Duan Yanqing had been good to him and he felt that he should repay the favor.

You Tanzhi’s right hand stabbed the wooden crutch into the ground. His right palm swept outwards and a gust of ominous dark Qi blasted outwards. XuZhu was unafraid of his Toxic Cold Yin Palm but he also knew that this skill was formidable and should not be overlooked. He instantly replied with a palm of his own. You Tanzhi’s sent a second palm to the base of the pine tree which gave it a mightly shake. The four people hanging there shook even more precariously.

Duan Yu urgently called: “Second Brother, don’t go, we can talk this out. No need to take action first.”

You Tanzhi said: “Master Duan. You want me to stop this fatty. That is not difficulty. However, what benefit do I get?” Duan Yu said: “I will give you whatever you want. I won’t bargain. Quick! Quick save them before it’s too late!” You Tanzhi said: “After I stop the fatty, I want to leave immediately with Miss AhZi. You, Xiao Feng, XuZhu and the rest must not stop me.” 

Duan Yu said: “AhZi? She… Her eyes need treatment from my Second Brother. After she leaves with you, what about her eyes?” You Tanzhi said: “If Mr. XuZhu can devise a way of returning her sight, so can I.” Duan Yu said: “This… this…” He watched the fatty continue chopping at the tree. Thinking that despite everything, saving their lives was more critical, he replied: “I agree! Quick… Quick…” 

You Tanzhi waved his right palm and stabbed it towards the fatty. The fatty laughed icily and threw down his axe. With a cry, he used both palms to receive You Tanzhi’s palm force. His palms generated a mighty gust. You Tanzhi’s palm on the other hand was utterly silent.

In an instant, the fatty’s face suddenly changed. He had originally worn a smug expression which suddenly became very strange, as if he had suddenly seen the weirdest event of his life. Two trickles of fresh blood flowed down the sides of his mouth and his body gradually stiffened and curled up. He slowly fell from the cliff. After a long interval, there was a loud thud. His body had crashed into the sharp valley rocks with a dull echo. The group thought about the short fatty’s shattered body and felt a collective chill.

XuZhu leaped onto the branch of the pine tree, he can only see Duan Yanqing’s crutch deeply embedded in the branch, he exerts his energy, and pulled up the four people below, with his deep internal energy, XuZhu stretched his left hand to pull the crutch up.

The Divine Crocodile called from below: “Little monk, I knew you were a good monk, you were my second sister’s son, you are I, Yue Laosan’s nephew, of course your ability is not bad. If you didn’t help us, we’ll be hanging here for 3 days 3 nights, the taste of that won’t be good.”

Yun Zhonghe said: “You are still boasting, how can you hang there for 3 days 3 night?”

The Divine Crocodile said angrily: “If I can’t hang on, let go of your hair, then it will really happen, do you want me to try?” Both of them are facing difficulties, they had to rely on each other.

After a while, XuZhu pulled up Duan Yanqing, then the Divine Crocodile and Yun Zhonghe, at last he pulled up Wang Yuyan. Her eyes are closed, her breathing is weak, she had already fainted.
At first Duan Yu was very happy, followed by pitifulness, but after seeing both pair of her hands have a purple-black circle, he can see Yun Zhonghe’s deep fingerprints, he thought of Yun Zhonghe’s brutal personality, having indecent thought toward both Mu Wanqing and Zhong Ling, everytime he depended on the Divine Crocodile to save him, since today this evil act have once been repeated he cannot help but be angry, he said: “Big brother, second brother, this Yun Zhonghe is a bad person, let’s kill him!”
The Divine Crocodile shouted: “No, no! Duan….Master… is all due to Yun the fourth saved your….your wife….my master wife…...or else, your wife’s life ended long time ago.”

Listening to him blabbering nonsense, everyone heard it very clearly. Duan Yu was more anxious about Wang Yuyan than normally, Mu Wanqing and Zhong Ling saw it with their own eyes, just to take her back up, he doesn’t care about injuries, seeing her goddess like appearance make their heart uncomfortable. They only see her eyes slowly opening and she exclaimed a “Ying” sound.

She whispered: “Am I in hell? I..I am dead?”

The Divine Crocodile shouted angrily: “You ugly girl are blabbering nonsense! If this is really hell, are we all dead? Right now you are not my master’s wife, I can scold you a little, it does not count as being disrespectful. There isn’t much time, I think you will become my master wife soon, I’ll lose the chance, so I should call you ugly girl right now. Wei, ugly girl, you were totally fine why did you want to die? You die is your own thing, you should not let Yun Zhonghe lost a life for you. No, if Yun Zhonghe died it does not matter, but if our Duan leader die then that will be very depressing. Even if Duan leader did die that is not a big thing, I, Yue Lao Er die because of you is really not worth it!”
Duan Yu consoled her softly: “Miss Wang, that was a big shock, you should rest against the tree for a while,”

Wan Yuyan broke into a cry, her hand holding her face: “Don’t care about me, I….I….I don’t want to live anymore.” 
Duan Yu was shocked: “She really wanted to die, but why? Maybe….Maybe..” He looked at Yun Zhonghe, seeing his fierce look, he thought : “Ai ya, maybe Miss Wang was disgraced by this man, so she wanted to die?”

Zhong Ling walked up, she said: “Hi, Yue Laosan!”

The Divine Cron saw her, he was overjoyed, he said loudly: “ Hi, little master wife! Right now I am Yue Lao Er, not Yue Laosan anymore!”

Zhong Ling said: “Don’t say little, it sounds horrible. Yue Lao Er, I ask you, why does this Miss Wang wanted to die? Is it this bamboo man who caused the trouble? I bet he’s feeling itchy!” As she said this she blew on her 10 fingers. Yun Zhonghe’s face color changed drastically, he withdrew 2 steps.

The Divine Crocodile shook his head, he said: “No, no. The heaven and earth are generous, this time Yun the fourth changed his character, suddenly did a good deed. Us 3 people don’t have Ye Erniang this companion, We are quite depressed, we came out to calm ourselves, when we walked here, we saw this ugly girl about to jump, she jumped with great force, Yun the fourth didn’t catch her properly, sigh, he used to be a violent and fierce person, suddenly trying to do a good deed, it cannot be helped to went out of control……”

Yun Zhonghe said angrily: “Your granny, I was just kind, when did I do a good deed? The surnamed Yun likes pretty girls, seeing this Miss Wang about to commit suicide, of course I find it not worth it, I wanted to take her home and make her my wife for a couple of days.”
The Divine Crocodile was furious, he cursed: “Your granny, Yue Lao Er thought you changed character, saving people, remembering that you are a famous evil person and we had a deep friendship, I helped holding your hair, if I have knew that, I would’ve let you die.”

Zhong Ling laughed and said: “Yue Lao Er, you used to be the “Ferocious Deity and Evil Devil”, You only do evil, you don’t do good deeds, now you changed your character already? Did you learn it from your master?”

The Divine Crocodile scratched his head, he said: “No, No! No change of character, no change of character! Because the ‘Four Evils’ have lost one person, it feels kind of weird. When I grabbed Yun the fourth, I also fell down, good that Duan leader’s martials arts are good, he came and grabbed me. But the 3 of us is 400 pounds in weight, this drag and pull, Duan leader also came down. He used his crutch to hook on to the pine tree, there is no way to come up, unexpectedly came a fat man from Tibet, cutting down the pine tree.
Zhong Ling asked: “This fat man is from Tibet? Why does he want to kill you?”

The Divine Crocodile spat, he said: “We the ‘Four Evils’ are Western Xia’s first, second class fighter, no, no, its third, fourth class fighter, you guys knew that long ago. This time the Emperor is choosing the prince consort for the princess, he ordered a bunch of top fighters to stop people if they want to cause trouble. The Tibet prince was really unreasonable, he commanded people to stop people from going to try out for the prince consort, only he is allowed. Of course we are not happy,so we fought, and killed 10 of his Tibet people. So, we 3 Great Evils and Tibet are not best friends anymore.”

When he said, everyone nodded, but why does Wang Yuyan wants to commit suicide, no one understood.

The Divine Crocodile added: Miss Wang, My master is here, you guys should get married, no need to commit suicide anymore!”

Wang Yuyan raised her head, she said chokingly: “You are blabbering nonsense to bully me, I…...I will hit myself and die right here.”

Duan Yu said quickly: “Can’t do that, can’t do that!” He turned to the Divine Crocodile and said: “ Yue Laosan(Yue number 3) , you can’t…”

The Divine Crocodile said: “Yue Lao Er(Yue number 2)!”

Duan Yu said: “Ok, it’s Yue Lao Er! You stop blabbering nonsense. But you did save lives, master is thankful. I will really need to teach you some martial arts!”

The Divine Crocodile had a strange look, he looked sideways at Wang Yuyan and said: “You don’t want to be my master wife? This is my big master wife, this is my little master wife, they are both my master wife.” he looked at Mu Wanqing,then looked at Zhong Ling.

Mu Wanqing blushed red, she spat, and said: “Yi, where is that ugly freak?” 

Everyone was looking at XuZhu saving people, they just realized that You Tanzhi and Azi has disappeared.

Duan Yu asked: “Big brother, they are already gone?”

Xiao Feng said: “They are already gone. You agreed to his conditions, I will not block his way.” He cannot help but feel at loss, he doesn’t know after Azi and You Tanzhi leave, what will happen to them.
The Divine Crocodile shouted: “Leader, number 4, are we going now?” He saw Duan Yanqing and Yun Zhonghe already walked to the north, he turned around and said to Duan Yu: “ I am going to go now!” He sped up his pace, following Duan Yanqing and Yun Zhonghe back to Xinzhou.

Zhong Ling said: “Miss Wang, let’s sit in the carriage.” She supported Wan Yuyan, letting her sit in the carriage Azi sat before.

Everyone headed to Xinzhou. They arrived in Xinzhou in the evening.
At the time, Western Xia has 22 provinces. The one near the yellow river are Lingzhou, Hongzhou, Yinzhou, Xiazhou province, near the western river there are Xinzhou, Lianzhou, Ganzhou, Suzhou province in Gansu, Ningxia area. The land of the Yellow River gain benefits, rich grains, the so-called "Yellow River harm, mercenary," Western Xia is the land of the river and land. Soldiers and horses are strong, the number reaching 50 thousands. Western Xia are brave and strong, Yun: “Controlling soldiers are harder than rocks, setting ambushes for the enemies. To cavalry for the former army, by good horse, good armour, if they’re thieves, hook him, dead immediately. In a war, first battle in formations, if the formation is broken, the foot soldier charge in.” The Great Song with years of confrontation, tired and defeated. Western Xia’s emperor’s surname is Li, in fact, Tang Taizong national surname is Li, Great Song’s national surname is Zhao, but Western Xia are happy to be surnamed Li. Western Xia’s people have war everywhere, expanding their border, more migration. Right now, Xinzhou is Western Xia’s capital, but compared with the original fame, is still far away.

That night Xiao Feng can’t find any inn. Xinzhou is naturally not bustling, at the time it is the Qingming season, countless heroes came from different places, many inns are already full. Xiao Feng then went out of the city, he found a temple and used it as a shelter, men sleep in the west wing and women sleep in the east.
After Duan Yu see Wang Yuyan again, he was happy and sad, that night he flipped over and over again, how can he sleep? He thought: “Why does Miss Wang want to commit suicide? How can I stop her from committing suicide? Ai, I don’t even know why she wants to commit suicide, how can I persuade her?”
Seeing the moonlight coming in from the window, it was quite bright, it was difficult for him to sleep, he slowly got up and went into the courtyard, seeing 2 trees with leaves not so beautiful, bending on top of the temple’s roof. Right now it is in spring, although the weather is cool, at night, it is still quite cold. Duan Yu walked around the tree for a couple of rounds, then thought again: “Why does she want to commit suicide?”

Walking out of the temple, the moonlight shone onto a person’s shadow, it was a white dressed maiden, her figure very similar to Wang Yuyan. Duan Yu was shocked, he said darkly: “Oh no, she wants to die.” He sped up his pace, and came behind the white dress maiden. The pond water is as clear as the mirror, the face of the white dress maiden is precisely Wang Yuyan.

Duan Yu don’t dare to advance, he thought: “At Shaolin mountain, she was angry at me, this time we meet again, her face still shows that color, presumably nothing but anger. This time she want to die , it might be because she is angry at me. Ai, Duan Yu ah Duan Yu, you anger this beautiful lady, making her depressed, even a hundred deaths are not enough.” He hid behind a big tree, he sighed thinking that he did something really wrong. If somebody in this world deserve to commit suicide, it is him Duan Yu, not this Miss Wang. 

Seeing the jade like texture of the lake, suddenly there are tiny little water ripples expanding, Duan Yu looked at it , he saw a few water droplets falling into the pond, it was Wang Yuyan’s tears. Duan Yu felt even more pitiful, but he heard her sigh and said softly: “I...I should die, so that it ends this endless suffering.”

Duan Yu can’t take it anymore, he walked from behind the tree and said: “Miss Wang, a thousand no, ten thousand no. It is all I, Duan Yu’s fault, please hold on. If…..if you are still angry, I will kneel down.” He did what he said, his knees fell down, he was kneeling in front of her.
Wang Yuyan was surprised, she said anxiously: “ You...What are you doing? Please get up, if other people see it what will they think?”

Duan Yu said: “If miss forgive me, forget all my wrongdoings, then I will get up.”
Wang Yuyan asked oddly: “What do I forgive you for?What am I angry for? What did you do wrong?”

Duan Yu said: “I saw miss very depressed, I thought miss must be sad because I wronged gentleman Murong, making him unhappy, so I led you into trouble. Next time if we meet again, if he wants to hit me, kill me, I’ll only run, I won’t hit him. If you don’t want me to run, then I will give him my life.”

Wang Yuyan paused for a second, then said: “Ai, fool, I am depressed with myself, what is it about you?”

Duan Yu said: “Does that mean, miss you are not angry at me?”

Wang Yuyan said: “Of course not!”

Duan Yu said: “ Then my heart can relax.” He stood up, then felt that it wasn’t right. If Wang Yuyan was depressed because of him, hit him, scold him, stabbed him with a sword, cut him with a knife, he would be more than happy, but she just said: “I am depressed with myself, what is it about you?” he couldn’t help but feel at loss.

Seeing Wang Yuyan hung her head, tears dropped onto her chest, her silk dress doesn’t absorb water, so the tears wet her clothes, Duan Yu’s heart ached, he said: “Miss, what is troubling you, please tell me. I will do my best to fulfill your wish, I will have a way to make you happy again.”

Wang Yuyan shook her head slowly, the moonlight shone on her teary eyes like blue crystals, those blue crystals seems to carry happiness, but that light went dim, she said faintly: “Gentleman Duan, you are always so good to me, in my heart I am very thankful, but this you do not have the ability to help me.”

Duan Yu said: “I don’t have much abilities, but my big brother Xiao, second brother XuZhu has top martial arts, they are both here, I am their sworn brother, we are as close as if linked by flesh and blood, whatever I ask them, they’ll understand. Miss Wang, why are you so depressed, you can tell me. Even if it is very difficult, irreversible, you can say it out, it will make you feel better.”

Wang Yuyan’s pale cheeks suddenly are covered with a layer of faint red, she turned her head, not willing to stare at Duan Yu’s eyes, she whispered in a low, soft voice: “He….he wants to become the Western Xia’s prince consort. Second brother Gongye helped me, he said to restore Great Yan, he can’t destroy a girl’s love for him.” After she says this, she turned around, put her head in Duan Yu’s shoulders, and cried.

Duan Yu was flattered, he didn’t dare to move,he didn’t know if he was happy or sad. So Wang Yuyan was depressed because Murong Fu wants to become the Western Xia’s prince consort, if he married the Western Xia princess, naturally Wang Yuyan will be ignored. Duan Yu naturally thought: “If she can’t marry her cousin, maybe she will change her thoughts about me. I don’t need to marry her, if I can see her everyday, in my heart I am happy. She likes being quiet, I can accompany her to a deserted mountain or island, living peacefully, what’s better than that?” Thinking about happy moments, he couldn’t help but dance a little.

Wang Yuyan moved her body, she stepped back, seeing Duan Yu’s happy expressions, she said angrily: “You… you.. I thought you were a good person, I told you, I did not realize that you will laugh at me.” 

Duan Yu said: “No. no! The heaven is my witness, if I, Duan Yu even the slightest feeling to laugh at you, thunder will split my body, 10000 arrows will pierce me!”
Wang Yuyan said: “You don’t want to laugh at me, that’s good, who told you to swear an oath? So, why were you so happy?”

As soon as she said it, she understood: Duan Yu was delighted, because if Murong Fu marries the princess, then his love rival will be gone. Duan Yu love her with all his heart, do you think she doesn’t know it? Except that she has doted her cousin since childhood, she had no time to read Duan Yu’s feeling, she cannot help but apologize that the word “love” must not be involved. After she understood Duan Yu’s intention, she was shocked with shame, with flushed cheeks, she angrily said: “You are not laughing at me, but it is still not good intention.”

Duan Yu’s mind became clear, he said darkly: “Duan Yu, ah Duan Yu, why did you have such despicable ideas? Isn’t that being a shameless villain?” Seeing her pitiful face, he felt like he should make her happy, even if he must die, he will be willing to do it with a proud and arrogant air, he thought: “I was only thinking, how to live with her in a desert mountain or island every morning and evening, happy and enjoyable, but I did not think that this ‘happy and enjoyable’ is my happiness, not Wang Yuyan’s happiness. I, Duan Yu’s happiness is her, Wang Yuyan’s sadness. I want myself to be happy, that is loving myself, only by solving this problem in her heart is really loving her, and it’s good for her.”

Wang Yuyan whispered: “Did I say something wrong? Are you angry at me?”

Duan Yu said: “No, no, how can be angry at you?”

Wang Yuyan said: “Then why aren’t you saying anything?”

Duan Yu said: “I am thinking of something.”

Duan Yu doesn’t have a plan: “I,compared to gentleman Murong, am behind him in terms of martial arts and literacy, I am behind him in terms of characters, I am behind him in terms of reputation, I am not on top of him. Plus, they know each other since childhoods, they love each other for a long time, of course I can not be compared to him. There is one thing I am better at than him, I know what is good for Miss Wang, Gentleman Murong isn’t as good as me. In the future, when miss Wang and gentleman Murong have descendants, her heart can still remember me, Duan Yu, knowing that in this world there won’t be a second person who is this good to her.” 

His heart is decided, he said: “Miss Wang, you do not have to panic, I will tell gentleman Murong, ask him not to be the prince consort, and quickly marry you.” 

Wang Yuyan was surprised, she said: “No! How can you do that? My cousin hates you to the bone, he won’t listen to you.”
Duan Yu said: “I will be righteous, the point of a life is the love between a husband and wife, 2 hearts joined. Him and that Western Xia princess does not know each other, he won’t know if she is pretty or ugly, kind or evil, first time meeting, and they are married, that is absolutely wrong. I will also tell him that Miss wang is beautiful and pure, very rare to find, very gentle, you can’t find a second one. After a thousand year you can’t find one, after one thousand year there still won’t be one. Plus, Miss Wang loved Gentleman Murong for many years, so the love must be very deep, you can be that very fortunate husband, for all the lovers out there letting the heroes of Jianghu laugh? 

Wang Yuyan heard his words, she felt moved, she said lightly: “Gentleman Duan, you are very good to me, you flattered me, it made me happy….”

Duan Yu said hurriedly: “No, no!” Once the word left his mouth, he thought that he had been infected by Bao Butong, and learned his favourite word. He couldn’t help but smile, and said: “I am very sincere, there words are from my heart.” Wang Yuyan also gave his “No, no!” a light smile.

She said: “There are many good things to learn, you had to learn from my 3rd brother Bao.”

Duan Yu saw her smiling, he liked it very much, he said: “I have thought this thoroughly I will go persuade him, not only will Gentleman Murong stop wanting to be the prince consort, he will also returned back to miss for marriage.”

Wang Yuyan said: “Why do you want to do this? What benefit will you gain?”
Duan Yu said: “ I can see miss happy, that is a great benefit.”

Wang Yuyan’s mind became clear, she thought that the speech was an understatement, but it very true to her heart. Just that her heart has always been on Murong Fu, always with passion, but soon forgotten.

She sighed and said: “You don’t know my cousin’s heart. In his heart, restoring the Great Yan is the most important thing. Second brother Gongye said that my cousin said: A real gentleman needs to do big things, that is the most important. If a man loses that desire because of children and wife, then he is not a hero. He also said: The Western Xia princess can be an ugly witch, it can also be a bad mouthed person, he won’t care, the point is that he can restore the Great Yan.”

Duan Yu mumbled: “That is quite true, That Murong really, wholeheartedly wanted to become an emperor, Western Xia’s soldier really could help him restore his country, this…..this….this is truly difficult.” Seeing Wang Yuyan’ tears, even if he had to climbed a mountain full of sword, or jump into a hot pan full of oil, he will gladly to it.

He said: “You can count on me 120 times, I will go and be that Western Xia prince consort. Then your cousin can’t be the prince consort, then he will have to return to you and marry you.”

Wang Yuyan was surprised, and delighted, she asked: “What?”
Duan Yu said: “I will be that Western Xia’s prince consort.”

Wang Yuyan thought of, the day Gongya Gan came to told her that Murong Fu wanted to become the prince consort, to help restore the Great Yan. She felt hurt, and she cried, Gongye Gan wanted to persuade her, so he told her:
“Gentleman Duan is the Dali Kingdom prince, his father, Duan Zhengchun, is the brother of the Dali emperor, he is the only royal descendant, so in the future, the throne must be passed on to him. Young master wants to restore Great Yan, that is truly difficult, the chance of being the emperor is almost second to none. He is a commoner, how can he be compared to the Dali prince Duan Yu? Western Xia wants to find a prince consort, finding a prince is naturally better than a commoner, at least the princess can become an empress, it’s better than being a commoner’s wife. The Dali prince coming to Xinzhou, with gold and silver, they have already spent 10 thousand, 8 thousand, spending another 2-3 thousand is not surprising. We, Murong family cannot be compared to them.” (Wang Yuyan thought: That bookworm is the Dali prince? I didn’t know that, why doesn’t he tell me? Does he really have a lot of money?)

“Plus, when it comes to literature, Gentleman Duan reads a lot of books and poetry. In terms of martial arts, the Dali family knows the 6 Meridian Sword, on Shaolin Mountain, young master was defeated from that move, all the world’s heroes saw it. Young master can’t use the ‘Returning you with your own way’ to defeat him.”(Wang Yuyan thought: Gentleman Duan also knows “Graceful Steps upon the Waves”, “Six Yang Snowmelt skills”, these type of martial arts, cousin doesn’t know them.)
“If we talk about their appearance, they don’t differ too much. But Miss Wang, a real gentleman's air is not their appearance, he needs to be elegant and generous. Gentleman Duan is a bit naive, that is true. He wins in controlling himself, but once he saw you, he changed into a big, dumb person. Our young master, the only thing he thought about, day and night, is how to restore the Great Yan. He worries about it for a lot, of course it’d be harder for him to be elegant. If you didn’t appear between them, I bet that Gentleman Duan is a lot more elegant. Third bother Bao tried to ridicule him, but he just stood there, not caring. Gentleman Duan is broad-minded, graceful, elegant, rare to find among people. Just that he is a bit younger than our Young Master, he is still naive.” (Wang Yuyan thought: Gentleman Duan is about 8-9 nine years younger than my cousin, only 1-2 years older than me. Cousin already have 1-2 strands of white hair, I had to pretend I didn’t notice, or he won’t happy.)

How about his people? Gentleman Duan have Dali’s 3 master, 4 bodyguards, high martial arts, they are not below us, Deng, Gongye, Bao, Feng. His sworn brother Xiao Feng, General Xiao, Mr. XuZhu, has top martial arts without a match, we have a Miss Wang who knows the martial arts of every sect, we are obviously not their match.” (Wang Yuyan thought: General Xiao and Mr. XuZhu’s martial arts, I can not understand at all, how can we even be their match?)

“Even if the Western Xia’s king did chose our Young Master, General Xiao has ten thousand soldiers under his command, if he said: ‘Emperor, I suggest you choose my sworn brother, if Dali’s Crowned Prince didn't become the Prince Consort, us 2 countries can combine and attack you, I think it will be difficult to block.’ After he said these words, our Young Master can only hand his position over to the emperor Duan and say: ‘Emperor Duan, congratulations, congratulations! I will go to my cousin, I will not be there to drink your wedding wine!” (Wang Yuyan thought: So this bookworm has this many benefits, I have always been thinking about cousin, not one bit about that bookworm. Well, he is ten times better, and I can do nothing to it.)

“I heard that Gentleman Duan came all the way to Xinzhou, is to become the prince consort.” (Wang Yuyan thought: I came to Xinzhou, he followed me.)

“If gentleman Duan really want to become the prince consort, Young Master can only lose. Third brother Bao said, we could find a chance to cut his head off. Me and Big brother Deng, forth brother Feng all said no, if the Murong family does that sort of thing, won’t we become shameless villains? Only if Gentleman Duan wants to leave, not going to ask for the Princess’s hands in marriage, but how to persuade him to go back, is a big problem. Young Master and I talked about it for days, but we are still hopeless.” (Wang Yuyan thought: You want me to go and ask him to go back. If he listens to me, won’t cousin go to be that prince consort?)
“Young Master focused wholeheartedly on restoring the Great Yan, there is a golden opportunity, but there is an obstacle. Only by passing this obstacle, Young Master can have the ability to restore the Great Yan. If he is the consort then the princess will be his wife, Young Master really does love you,he wants to take you as a concubine, that time he will visit you everyday, 8days, 10days and still he won’t go visit the princess for even once. Ai, just that we don’t have a way, how persuade Gentleman Duan to not become the prince consort? That’s a big part but we all have no way to help our Young Master …”(Wang Yuyan thought: You don’t have a way, I do hope Gentleman Duan go to be that prince consort, then cousin can’t go. But does Gentleman Duan be willing to be the prince consort?)

But now Wang Yuyan hears that Duan Yu was willing to go be the Western Xia’s prince consort, as if the light just poked through a cloudy, dark night sky, she couldn’t help but feel happy, she said lowly: “Gentleman Duan, you are very nice to me, but if you do that, my cousin will hate you to the bones.”

Duan Yu said: “So? He already hates me to the bone.”

Wang Yuyan said: “You said, that you didn’t know if the princess is pretty or ugly, kind or mean, but because of me you are willing to marry her, this... this….isn’t this very difficult for you?”

Duan Yu wanted to say: “If it’s for you, no matter what it is, I am ready to face it.” But then he thought: “I help you do things, if I want you to thank me, that is not a gentleman’s behavior.” So he said: “ It’s not because of you I face these difficulties, My dad wants me to go and marry this princess. I am going there for my father, it’s not for you.”

Wang Yuyan was smart, Duan Yu loved her so much, how could it not be for her? She thought if he was insane, how can he just go and marry a person he doesn’t know? It was for her he went and do this thing, he didn’t get a merit, she was grateful. She took Duan Yu’s hand and said: “Gentleman Duan, My….my….whole life is indebted to you, in my next life….” She can only talk until here, she choked, she couldn’t talk anymore.

The 2 of them have survived through many troubles, helping each other, alongside each other, for not only once, but it was nothing else, but this time Wang Yuyan felt moved, her hands gripped Duan Yu’s hand. Duan Yu felt her smooth, soft palm holding his own hand, in an instant, he felt as if even the sky falls down he wouldn’t care, he liked this feeling, he felt full of energy, he thought that if she is this good to him, even if he had to marry the Western Xia’s Princess, Great Song’s princess, Liao Empire’s princess, Tibet’s princess, Korea’s Princess, so what? He felt as if he was weak, under this circumstance, his blood was boiling, suddenly he was dancing, he felt dizzy, his body gave a few shakes, he moved sideways, a ‘plop’ sound, and he fell into the pond.

Wang Yuyan was shocked, she shouted: “Gentleman Duan, gentleman Duan!” She held out her hands.

Fortunately, the water isn’t very deep, the cold water Duan Yu a pat, his body suddenly snapped out of daydreaming, he dragged himself and climbed up.

Because of Wang Yuyan’s shout, many people in the temple wake up. Xiao Feng, XuZhu, Ba Tianshi, Zhu Danchen all ran out. Seeing Duan Yu all wet and embarrassed, and Wang Yuyan’s face flushed and near the side, embarrassed, they all thought that the 2 are meeting near the pond, Duan Yu was clumsy, Wang Yuyan pushed him into the pond, they didn’t dare to laugh, nor ask anything. Duan Yu wanted to explain, but didn’t know what to say.

The next day is the 7th of the 3rd month, 2 days from the Qingming festival. Ba Tianshi went out very early in the morning to the Xingqing house to take care of some business. After he finished, he hurry back to the temple and said to Duan Yu: “Young Master, your father’s letter about asking the Western Xia’s princess hand in marriage, I have already give it to them. When they saw the letter, they were very polite, they said that this time Young Master came, they are very grateful, they believed they might be able to fulfill your wish.”

After a while, there were man with horses outside the temple, followed by a loud noise. Ba Tianshi and Zhu Danchen went out to greet them, they are the Western Xia’s people, they come to meet Duan Yu and welcome him to there home. Xiao Feng is the Liao Empire southern king, the Liao Empire’s potential is higher than Dali, Western Xia only knew he came, but her told everyone not to reveal his identity, him and Xuzhu all became Duan Yu’s people, and followed him to their home.

Every have just settles down, they heard somebody in the back garden was swearing: “What are you, coming here and gets the idea of marrying the princess? This consort position, our prince is definitely it, I say you better scurry back to your home!” Ba Tianshi heard this, he was angry, he thought that what kind of people will be rude enough to swear in front of someone’s home? When he opened the door, he saw 7-8 big man, standing in the garden shouting nonsense.

Ba Tianshi and Zhu Danchen are both kind person, except Zhu Danchen is more refined, Ba Tianshi is more protective. Both of them didn’t make a sound, they just stood in front of the door. Listening to a couple of people cursing and insulting with words even they don’t know. When they heard the word “Our prince”, they knew right away the men were the subordinates of the Tibet prince.
Ba Tianshi and Zhu Danchen exchanged a smile, they want to give these few men a lesson. Suddenly, the left door burst open, there were 2 men, one wearing yellow, one wearing black, they were fighting everywhere all of a sudden 3 men was on the ground, the other 2 are thrown out of the door. Then man in the black robe said: “Great, great!” The yellow-robed man said: “No, no! Not great enough.” One of them is indeed Feng BoE, The other one is Bao butong.
They heard one of the Tibet warriors shouting: “The one surnamed Murong, you should go back to Suzhou. You want to marry the western Xia princess, you annoyed our prince, ‘Returning you with your own move’, marry your sister and make her the little wife, let her stay in in Tibet, drinking milk tea everyday, she’ll be very happy.” Feng BoE ran out leaving a gust of wind. They heard a ‘Pa’ followed by an ‘Ai Ya’ sound, the Tibet warrior ran away leaving curses behind.

Wang Yuyan sat in the room, she heard Bao, Feng two people and the tibet people, she frowned and shed tears quietly, deciding if she should meet them.

Bao Butong gave Ba Tianshi and Zhu Danchen a handshake and said: “Brother Ba, Brother Zhu came to Western Xia, are you here to watch a lively show, or do you have other plans?”

Ba Tianshi laughed and said: “The reason Mr. Bao, Feng came, same for us.’
Bao Butong said: “Dali prince Duan is also here to ask for the princess’s hand in marriage?’

Ba Tianshi said “Exactly. Our Young Master is the son of the southern prince, the future of Dali Kingdom is all upon him. If he and the princess are married, it will be a perfect match. Gentleman Murong is indeed a man with good characters, except that your family status doesn’t really match.”

Bao Butong face changed color, he said : “No, no! The royal contests are for the masters. The arguing, is for us.”
Ba Tianshi laughed and said: “Things like arguing, Brother Bao is number 1, no human can withstand. Little brother admits defeat, and would like to bid farewell.” He waved his hand, and walked back into the room with Zhu Danchen, he said: “Little brother Zhu, listening to that Bao Butong speaking, it seems that our Young Master needs to participate in that royal contest. Our Young Master has a heavy internal injuries, his martial arts sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t, it is very hard to predict. If he cannot perform the Six Meridian Divine Sword, not only would he not be able to be that prince consort, he might have his life on the line, what should we do?” Zhu Danchen also didn’t have any ideas, so they went to find Xiao Feng, XuZhu to discuss.

Xiao Feng said: “This royal contest, how do you compete? Is it alone, or with the subordinates? If others can participate in the fight, then you do not have to worry.” 
Ba Tianshi said: “Exactly. Little brother Zhu, let’s go ask the generals. Ask them how to compete, then we can make plans.” The 2 men walked out.
Xiao Feng, XuZhu and Duan Yu, 3 men were drinking wine. You drink one cup, I drink one cup, having fun. Xiao Feng asked Duan Yu his experience with the Six Meridian Divine Sword, he wanted to teach him how to circulate his internal energy, so he can use his energy. He didn’t know that Duan Yu have no understanding of internal energy, he didn’t understand anything at all, how can he teach him in a short period of time? Xiao Feng had no other ways, so he kept drinking wine. XuZhu and Duan Yu’s wine capacity is not as good as his, after 5 to 6 bowls, Duan Yu is already drunk, not knowing anything around him.

Duan Yu woke up feeling dizzy, he saw shadows from the paper window, he caught a glimpse of the moon, it’s late at night, his heart thought: “ Last night I didn’t finished listening to Miss Wang and I fell into the pond, What was she going to tell me? Will it be that she is waiting outside? Ai yo, not good, if she’s actually waiting outside for a long time, grew impatient, and went back to sleep, wouldn't I miss a big deal?” he hastily jumped, walked out the door quietly, passing a garden, he was about to open the big door when he heard someone whispered: “Gentleman Duan, come here, I have something to say.”

Out of surprise, Duan Yu jumped.
Listening to the sound, it sounded gloomy and doesn’t sound like that person came with good intention, he was about to look back, he felt a tight tug, he had been captured. Duan Yu identified the sound, he asked: “Is it gentleman Murong?

That person said: “I don’t dare, it is me, I dare ask brother Duan to talk.” It is indeed Murong Fu. Duan Yu said: “Gentleman Murong asked, how can I dare not accompanying you? Please let go of me! “

Murong Fu said: “There is no need to let go.”
Duan Yu felt light, like flying. Actually, it’s Murong fu capturing him, he leapt on the roof.

Duan Yu wanted to shout, then Xiao Feng, XuZhu must be awake and will come out and help him, but he thought: “If I shout, Miss Wang might also hear it, if she sees us 2 fight, she will be very unhappy. She won’t blame her cousin, she’ll always notice my wrongdoings, why do I have to make her angry?” He didn’t shout, he let Murong Fu captured him, walking out.
It was late at night, but the moon is clear and bright, below Murong Fu is a stone path, than have became loess trails, both sides of the trails are filled with half green, yet not yellow long grass.

Murong Fu had run for a while, he suddenly stopped, he put Duan Yu down heavily on the ground. Peng, Duan Yu fell on his shoulders, it didn’t hurt very much, he thought: “This person looks elegant, but his behaviours are barbaric.” He stood up and said: “If brother Murong wanted to talk to me, you can say it, why the need to act rough?”

Murong Fu coldly laughed: “What did you say to my cousin yesterday night?”
Duan Yu’s face became red, he said softly: “It’s really nothing, we just met and had a few words, that’s all.’

Murong fu said: “You are a gentleman, the words you’ve said, the things you’ve done, why do you have to hide it?” 

Duan Yu was shocked, angers rushed forth, he said: “Of course I don’t need to hide it from you, I told Miss Wang, I will persuade you.”

Murong Fu coldly laughed: “You said you will persuade me by saying: the point of a life is the love between a husband and wife, 2 hearts joined. You also said that Me and that Western Xia princess does not know each other, he won’t know if she is pretty or ugly, kind or evil, first time meeting, and we are married, that is absolutely wrong, right? You also said if I ruined cousin’s good intention, lovers will curse me, heroes in Jianghu will laugh at me, right?”

Every word he said, Duan Yu was shocked, after he finished saying everything he stammered: “Miss….Miss Wang told you?

Murong Fu said; “How would she tell me?”
Duan Yu said: “Then you heard it yesterday night?’

Murong Fu coldly laughed: “You can lie to the world’s every ignorant maidens, but you can’t lie to me.”

Duan Yu said curiously: “What did I lie to you?”

Murong fu said: “Isn’t it very clear, you yourself wanted to be the prince consort, you’re scared I’ll win, so you prepared a set of words, to trick me. Heihei, Murong Fu isn’t a 3 year old kid, how can I fall for it? You really are dreaming really big.”
Duan Yu sighed: “I was sincere, I really hope you and Miss Wang will get married, living like gods and goddesses, growing old together until your hair are white.”
Murong Fu laughed coldly: “Thanks to your golden words. Dali’s Duan and Gusu’s Murong have no relations whatsoever, why did you have to be good to me? If I am tied up by my cousin and couldn’t get out, you’ll go wear red and become that prince consort.”

Duan Yu said angrily: “What nonsense? I am Dali’s next king, although Dali is a small country, we have never seen the word “prince consort’ 2 words as if it is the most important things in the world. Gentleman Murong, I’m persuading you, Wealth and riches means nothing, even of you actually became Western Xia’s prince consort, then you want to become Great Yan’s emperor, won’t you have to kill many people? Even if central plains people were killed by you until blood fills the rivers, bones piled as mountain, can you actually be the Great Yan’s emperor, is still very hard to say.”
Murong Fu was not the least upset and icily retorted: “Your words ring of righteousness but you are actually a malicious character.”

Duan Yu hastily clarified: “You are free to doubt my pure intentions. That is your right. Nevertheless, I will not permit your marriage to the Princess of Western Xia. I cannot bear Miss Wang (Yuyan) being heartbroken and suicidal.”

Murong Fu bellowed: “You wish to prevent the marriage? Ha ha. Are you overrating yourself? If I insist on the marriage; what can you do about it?”

Duan Yu swore: “I will do my utmost best to hinder your plans. If I cannot do it alone, I will enlist the help of my friends.”

In his heart, Murong Fu was stricken. He knew only too well the amazing martial arts of Xiao Feng and XuZhu. Even without these two in the picture, Duan Yu himself is already a worthy opponent whenever he exhibits his Six Meridian Divine Sword. It is fortunate that his Swordplay is inconsistent and uncontrollable, the only loophole Murong Fu can exploit. In a flash, Murong Fu gently raised his head and exclaimed: “Cousin (female), come here, I have something to tell you.”

Exhilarated and surprised, Duan Yu hurriedly turned his head around. The entire ground is shimmering with moonlight and no shadow of Wang Yuyan can be seen. He focused his gaze and finally noticed some movement in the woods across him. Out of the blue, his body stiffened as Murong Fu had sealed his acupoints again. As he felt Murong Fu lifting his body and realizing that he has been tricked, Duan Yu bitterly noted: “Once again, you have resorted to violence, in addition to lies and trickery. That is unbecoming of a gentleman.”

Murong Fu coldly replied: “With regards to despicable cads like you, gentlemanly methods can be overlooked.” Lifting Duan Yu, he starting walking to a side, hoping to find a ditch. He planned to murder Duan Yu with a palm stroke and bury him in the ditch. After travelling a fair number of yards, Murong Fu discovered a dry, unused well and raising his hands, he threw Duan Yu in. Duan Yu yelled: “AIYAH!” and fell to the bottom of the well. 

Murong Fu was about to gather some rocks to seal the well, starving Duan Yu to death when a female voice rang out: “Cousin (male), did you spot me? What do you wish to tell me? Oh my, what have you done to Mister Duan?” Wang Yuyan appeared in the flesh. Murong Fu was momentarily petrified and frowned his eyebrows. He had intentionally pretended to speak to Wang Yuyan behind Duan Yu, wanting to distract him and seal his critical heart acupoints from the back. Unexpectedly, Wang Yuyan is indeed nearby.

In fact, Wang Yuyan was troubled and had a sleepless night. Leaning against the window and admiring the moon, she accidently witnessed Murong Fu capturing Duan Yu. Afraid of the two of them breaking out into a fight, and concerned over Murong Fu being overwhelmed by Duan Yu’s Six Meridian Divine Sword, she gave chase. In the process, she overheard their entire exchange. She personally believed Duan Yu’s pure sincerity in advising Murong Fu but the latter persisted in his misconceptions about Duan Yu. When Murong Fu lied to deceive Duan Yu, Wang Yuyan thought she had been exposed and decided to come forward.

Running to the side of the well, Wang Yuyan half-prostrated and peered into the well. She shouted: “Mister Duan! Mister Duan! Are you injured?” 

When Duan Yu was thrown into the well, he went down headfirst. Knocking his skull against the hardened clay at the bottom of the dried well, he had lost consciousness. After several calls and without any reply from Duan Yu, Wang Yuyan concluded Duan Yu had fallen to his death. Recalling his many acts of kindness from their past interactions, and presently even dying because of her, Wang Yuyan could not help but started sobbing. She wailed: “Mister Duan, you…. Why did you….. Why did you die so abruptly?” 

Murong Fu coldly stated: “You are truly devoted to him.”

Wang Yuyan gasped: “He was merely advising you with good intentions. You can choose not to listen, but there is no need to kill him.”

Murong Fu objected: “This man is my greatest opponent. You heard it with your own ears. He will do whatever it takes to topple my ambitions. On Mount Shaoshi, he made me lost face and tarnished my reputation in the martial arts world. I cannot stand this man alive.”

Wang Yuyan explained: “Regarding the Mount Shaoshi affair, he is truly in the wrong and I have admonished him for that. He has admitted his mistake.”

Murong Fu icily laughed: “Humph! Humph! Admitted his mistake! With a simple apology and we can bury the hatchet? I, Murong Fu, am a member of the martial arts world. Wherever I go, people will be whispering behind my back, saying that I lost heavily to his DaLi Duan Family Six Meridian Divine Sword Skill. Put yourself in my shoes. In the future, how can I face the world?”

Wang Yuayn gently reasoned: “Cousin (male), it is an ordinary loss in a fighting match, why must you continue to dwell on it? During the duel on Mount Shaoshi, Uncle (Murong’s Father) gave you a piece of excellent guidance. The past is the past. Why bring it up again?” Still trying to confirm Duan Yu’s death, she stuck her head into the well and yelled: “Mister Duan! Mister Duan!” There is still no reply to her shouting.

Murong Fu spoke: “You are so concerned about him; why don’t you marry him instead of pretending to support me?”

Feeling sour in her chest, Wang Yuyan sighed: “Cousin, I am completely devoted to you. Don’t tell me…. Don’t tell me you doubted me too?”

Murong Fu coldly hissed: “You are completely devoted to me? Hey Hey! Remember the mill house at the shore of Lake Tai? You were naked and hiding in the firewood with that Duan fellow. What are you up to? I saw it with my own eyes and seeing is believing. At that point in time, I wanted to kill this Duan kid with one stroke of my sword. However, you gave him pointers and opposed my wishes. Who does your heart beckons to? Haha! Haha!” Finishing his words, Murong Fu broke out in mad laughter.

Wang Yuyan was stunned and at a loss for words. Finally, in a quivering voice, she questioned: “In the millhouse at the shore of Lake Tai… That… That masked… That masked Western Xia Warrior…”

Murong Fu replied: “Correct. The person disguised as the Western Xia Warrior Li Yanzong is me.”

Wang Yuyan state in a low voice: “No wonder, I have always been suspicious about this. Once, you mentioned this statement: When I become the Emperor of the Central Plains. That… That… That is your manner of speech. I should have guessed much earlier.”

Murong Fu coldly sniggered: “You should have known earlier, but having learnt the truth now is not too late.”

Wang Yuyan hastily explained: “Cousin, during that occasion, I was poisoned by the Western Xia warriors. Mister Duan saved my life. During our escape, we were drenched in the rain and were taking shelter in the millhouse. You… You… You must not jump to conclusions.”

Murong Fu declared: “What a perfect reason, taking shelter from the rain in a millhouse! However, after I arrived, the two of you continued to behave in an inconspicuous manner. This Duan fellow stretched his hand to touch your face and you did not even shy away. Do you remember what I said during that encounter? I think you are putting all your attention on this Duan fellow and did not even pay attention to my speech.”

Wang Yuyan felt a chill in her heart as she recollected the millhouse event. (chapter 17) The precise words of the masked Western Xia Warrior Li Yanzong clearly formulated in her brain. She murmured: “That occasion… That occasion… You had this similar cold expression, and what did you say? You said… You said… : I instructed you to learn martial arts before coming to kill me; I did not ask the two of you… the two of you…” She remembered what Murong Fu said was: I did not ask the two of you to flirt and caress each other. However, she simply cannot bear to say out the rest.

Murong Fu added: “That occasion, you indicated that if I killed this Duan kid, you will dedicate your life to avenging him. Miss Wang, after hearing these words, I made up my mind to spare his life. Unpredictably, keeping this beast alive has its repercussions; causing me to lose my standing among all the heroes present at Mount Shaoshi.”

Noting that Murong Fu no longer address her as cousin but Miss Wang instead, Wang Yuyan can feel her heart freezing. In a trembling voice, she confessed: “Cousin, if I knew you were the disguised warrior, I naturally will not speak like that. Really, Cousin, I… If I know, I will never say anything like that. You know for yourself. My heart has always been leaning towards you.”

Murong Fu chided: “Even if I am wearing a mask and you cannot recognize my looks; even if I am a deaf and a mute, and you cannot recognize my voice; surely you can recognize my martial arts, right? Hey Hey. You immerse yourself in the study of martial arts and your knowledge is beyond compare. Regardless of each martial skill, you are able to identify the martial sect or martial family. I exchanged over a hundred stances with this kid, can’t you identify me?”

Wang Yuyan whimpered: “My suspicions are definitely aroused, but… Cousin, we have not seen each other for a long time and I am unsure about the progress of your martial skill…”

Murong Fu remained defiant. Wang Yuyan’s words clearly insinuated that his martial progress is too slow and cannot live up to her expectations. He recounted: “That occasion, you made this statement: ‘Initially, I was secretly astounded that you are able to display an array of brilliant swordplay but after 50 strokes, it is no longer refreshing and your skills are as ordinary as any average fighter. You may think I sound cynical but nevertheless, you only posses a fraction of my knowledge.’ Miss Wang, as a matter of fact, I agree that I only posses a fraction of your knowledge… Why trouble yourself to stay by my side? In your mind, you secretly despise me. This is the truth. Nonetheless, I, Murong Fu, am an alpha male in my own right. I cannot be bothered with womenfolk’s opinions of myself.” 

Wang Yuyan stepped closer to him and softly begged: “Cousin, I made a wrong statement on that occasion. I hereby apologise for it.” As she spoke, she arched her body and made a deep bow and added: “I truly have no idea it was you in disguise… You are an alpha male and must therefore, have the graciousness to overlook this. Since young, I have nothing but respect for you. Whenever we are playing as kids, I have always yielded to your wishes and have never opposed you. Do treat me as spouting nonsense during that event and forgive me this round for old time’s sake.” 

Murong Fu is of proud character. Ever since Wang Yuyan affirmed his mediocrity in the millhouse, he was significantly annoyed and bore a grudge against her. Since that incident, although the two of them had numerous interactions, he could sense this gap between the two of them and felt that their paths are not longer compatible. Presently, under the romantic moonlight, hearing her gentle pleading tones and witnessing such an exquisite beauty treating him in a loving manner, in addition to his strong belief that she and Duan Yu did not have an affair, and her words are circumstantial with no ill intention, and recalling the wonderful childhood memories of the two of them, Murong Fu was stirred. Reaching out with his own hands and grasping both her hands, he addressed: “Cousin!”

Wang Yuyan was elated, acknowledging that her elder male cousin has forgiven her. Throwing her body into an embrace and resting her head on his shoulder, she gently whispered: “Cousin, whenever you are upset with me, do scold or vent it out on me. You must never store these secret emotions in your heart.” Hugging her warm and soft figure, while listening to her soft and gentle coaxing, Murong Fu was moved. Using his hand to stroke her hair, he softly sighed: “I cannot bear to scold you or vent on you. My previous anger has been vanquished.” Wang Yuyan enquired: “Cousin, are you giving up your plans to become the Prince Consort of Western Xia?”

Murong Fu was instantly shaken. In his mind, he debated: D@mn! D@mn! Murong Fu, because of a relationship, are you forsaking your heroic pursuits and risking your lifelong ambitions? If you are unable to sacrifice these minor love issues, how can you be worthy of a label “Mover and Shaker”? He speedily utilized his hand to push Wang Yuyan away. Hardening his resolve, he shook his head and declared: “Cousin, the flames of our relationship has been extinguished. You know better than anyone else. All along, I am someone who bears grudges. Your words and actions will always haunt me.”

Wang Yuyan sadly reminded: “A minute ago, you swore you are no longer angry with me.” Murong Fu clarified: “I am not angry with you, but… But in our present lives, we will only be related as cousins.” Wang Yuyan asked: “Eventually, you have decided not to forgive me?”

In his mind, Murong Fu was torn between ‘love’ and ‘ambitions’. After a brief hesitation, he eventually shook his head. In despair, Wang Yuyan continued to probe: “Are you determined to marry the Western Xia lady and ignore me for the rest of your life?” Murong Fu fired up his determination and nodded his head.

Wang Yuyan knew beforehand her beloved Cousin is planning to wed the Princess of Western Xia, thanks to Gongzhi Qian’s indirect hint. Feeling suicidal, she made up a reason to lag behind Deng Baichuan’s group. She then jumped off a cliff to end her life but was rescued by Yun Zhonghe. Currently, being rejected in the face by her beloved, Wang Yuyan was heartbroken to the brink of madness and nearly vomited blood. Out of the blue, she had an epiphany: Mister Duan is fully devoted to my well-being. Despite that, I was often discourteous to him. In this moment, he has even lost his life because of me. I owe him so much. Mister Duan has perished in this deep well; there must be sharp rocks at the bottom of it. Since I am tired of living, why don’t I join him in death in order to compensate him for his strong dedication?

As she contemplated, she strode slowly to the side of the well. Turning her head back, she proclaimed: “Cousin, may all your wishes come true. Marry the Western Xia Princess and become the Emperor of the Yan Dynasty.”

Murong Fu knew she is going to end her life and took a step closer. Stretching out his hand, he initially wanted to grab her arm and cry: Stop! But in his heart, he is fully aware that once he cried out and pulled her arm, it will complicate matters and will only worsen the love entanglement between him and his cousin. Cousin Yuyan is soft-spoken and attractive, a rare beauty. With such a spouse, any decent man will no longer have any regrets in his life. Moreover, she has been loyal to him since they were young. Nevertheless, if Murong Fu loses self-control and perform a heedless deed, it would severely hamper his ambition to restore the Great Yan Empire. With this mindset, his mouth was open but no sound came out; his hand was outstretched but he did not grab onto Wang Yuyan.

Observing his expression, Wang Yuyan deduced his emotions. In her mind, she concluded: Even if you wish to abandon me, we are still related as cousins. Now that I am seeking death, you made no effort dissuade me. You are even worse than the evil creep, Yun Zhonghe, to reach this level of cold-bloodedness. 

Casting everything aside, Wang Yuyan announced: “Mister Duan, I am joining you in death!” With a jump, she disappeared into the well.

With an exclamation ‘AH!’ Murong Fu took a step closer to her, his hand reaching out and thinking of grabbing her leg. Based on his martial arts, it is extremely easy to reach her but ultimately, he was hit by indecisiveness and allowed her to complete her jump. Letting out a sigh, Murong Fu shook his head and remarked: “Cousin, in your heart, you truly love Mister Duan. Although the two of you cannot live as a married couple, but by dying in the same hole, at least you should die a fulfilled death.”

Out of a sudden, someone behind him scolded: “Crying crocodile tears, hypocrite!”

Murong Fu was taken aback. He wondered: Somebody had crept up on me and I failed to sense it?

First, he sent a palm stroke to whoever is behind him before turning his body around. Under the moonlight, he witnessed a flashing shadow evading his palm strike by nimbly floating away. It is considered a rare feat even among top martial artistes.

Murong Fu dashed forward and without waiting for the mysterious figure to descend, he sent out another palm stroke and cursed: “Who is it? How dare you make fun of a noble Mister?” Whilst in midair, the person send out his own palm to match Murong Fu’s palm blow and their skills are evenly matched. Using the momentum to float another several yards away, the figure finally landed on the ground. It was TuBo’s Grand Priest Jiumozhi.

Jiumozhi continued: “It is fully obvious you are responsible for causing Miss Wang to commit suicide by jumping into the well. Yet, here you are, saying she is getting a fulfilled death. Mister Murong, don’t you think you have gone too far in your scheming and cruelty?” 

Murong Fu was incensed: “This is my personal affair. Who are you to interfere?”

Jiumozhi declared: “You have committed such a heinous crime; of course I, a monk, must get involved. Furthermore, since you intended to become the Prince Consort of Western Xia, then this is no longer a private affair.”

Murong Fu demanded: “Are you telling me that you, as a monk, is vying to be the Prince Consort as well?”

Jiumozhi burst out laughing and replied: “A monk becoming a Prince Consort? What logic is that?”

Murong Fu icily state: “I am well aware of the evil motives of the TuBo Empire. In this case, you must be acting on behalf of the TuBo Prince.”

Jiumozhi countered: “What do you indicate by evil motives? If all the admirers of the Western Xia Princess are deemed to be hiding evil motives, may I enquire about your personal motives? Are they upright or evil?”

Murong Fu commented: “In order to win the hand of the Princess of Western Xia, I shall compete to become the Prince Consort based on my own abilities. I am not the kind of person who will instruct my subordinates to create trouble in Lingzhou, earning the disapproval of heroes and the horror of the population.”

Jiumozhi laughed: “We were generally threatening the incompetent challengers to forfeit the competition. Our intention is to prevent the capital of Western Xia from descending into chaos, and from being flooded by weaklings and unworthy bachelors. From your perspective, we are also clearing your path of unnecessary hindrances; isn’t that to your benefit?”

Murong Fu interrogated: “If what you said is true, then it sounds pretty awesome. Nevertheless, is the Prince of TuBo Empire depending on his own abilities to win the competition?”

Jiumozhi affirmed: “Indeed!”

Noting his fearless composure and overwhelming aura of confidence, Murong Fu was highly suspicious and questioned: “Has the Prince of your prestigious empire mastered a set of superb martial arts, rendering him invincible and therefore, 100% confident of victory?”

Jiumozhi highlighted: “The young Prince is my disciple and his martial arts is above average. Although he is not considered an invincible opponent, his victory is still guaranteed.”

Murong Fu was even more perplexed than before. He wondered: If I were to probe him directly for an answer, he may give an ambiguous reply. It is better that I try to agitate him and he may inadvertently reveal his secret. Thus, he challenged: “That’s odd. The Prince of your prestigious empire has full confidence in his victory; however, I believe I will emerge victorious too. After the competition, I wonder who the real winner will be.”

Jiumozhi laughed: “You must be itching to find out the real reason why our Prince is guaranteed to win the competition, aren’t you? Why don’t you share your plan with me and I will share our plan with you. We can co-analyze and compare our plans, and judge for ourselves who has a more brilliant strategy.”

Except for his confidence in his excellent martial arts and outstanding appearance, Murong Fu did not have any concrete plan to guarantee his victory. Hence, he remarked: “You are full of evil schemes and often go back on your word. If I share my plan first and you refused to share yours, wouldn’t I be at a disadvantage?”

Jiumozhi let out a big laugh: “Mister Murong, I have been acquainted with your Father for many years and we admire each other very much. Even if you find me overbearing, I am still considered your elder (senior). Regarding your harsh speech, don’t you think you are being disrespectful?”

Murong Fu bowed in a salute and apologized: “MingWang’s (Bright King) censure is appropriate. Please accept my apology.”

(Jiumozhi’s official title is DaLunMingWang. Can be addressed as MingWang too. Da=giant / big. Lun=wheels. Ming=Bright / Wise. Wang=King. In this context, King is not the highest title, Emperor is. The King title is equivalent to Duke / Lord / Minister, etc. I will use Bright King instead of Wise King for obvious reasons.) 

Jiumozhi smiled: “Mister is a true genius. Since you acknowledge you are my junior, I shall not take advantage of you for your father’s sake. The secret behind the guaranteed victory of TuBo’s Prince is actually an amateur trick. We simply remove all the contenders who are entering the competition. Without any competition, wouldn’t our Prince be guaranteed victory? Hahahaha.”

Murong Fu’s face turned pale and he stammered: “In this case, I…”

Jiumozhi advised: “The ties between your Father and I run deep. Naturally, I wish to spare your life. I sincerely recommend Mister to depart from Western Xia. This is the best outcome for you.”

Murong Fu asked: “What if I refused to go?”

Jiumozhi smiled: “I will still spare your life but will require Mister to dig out both your eyes or chop off an arm and a leg, essentially making you a handicap. The Princess of Western Xia will naturally avoid marrying a handicap, even if he is a righteous hero.” When Jiumozhi mention the words: righteous hero, he intentionally emphasized them in a sarcastic manner.

Murong Fu was furious. Frightened of Jiumozhi’s superior skills, he dared not carelessly engage him. Lowering his head, he thought hard and fast for a solution.

Under the moonlight, he abruptly detected some fine, snaking movement. Peering closer, he discovered it was the shadow of Jiumozhi’s right hand. Murong Fu was alarmed, deducing that his opponent is consolidating his energy and ready to strike in an instant. He secretly gathered his own energy in preparation to meet the attack.

Beyond his expectations, Jiumozhi added: “Mister, when you forced your very own cousin to commit suicide, that act itself is a great violation of morals. If you make haste and depart from Western Xia, I will no longer hold you accountable for this act of pressuring Miss Wang to her death.” 

Murong Fu snorted: “She jumped into the well and committed suicide for love; I have nothing to do with it.” As he spoke, he stared at the shadows on the ground and noticed the shadows of Jiumozhi’s hands are shaking intensely. 

Murong Fu’s suspicions are aroused. He thought: Jiumozhi has mastered an incredibly high level of martial arts. If he intended to harm his rivals, why waste time on trivial persuasion and putting up a show of authority? Could he be putting up a false front and trying to scare me into submission? 

Another quick scan of the shadows revealed that the corners of Jiumozhi’s pants and sleeves are vibrating tenderly, betraying a fact that Jiumozhi’s entire body is actually shivering uncontrollably. In a split second, Murong Fu had an epiphany. He swiftly remembered: “That day, inside Shaolin Monastery’s Sutra Chamber, the nameless old monk mentioned that Jiumozhi had mastered Shaolin Sect’s 72 Legendary Skills and afterwards, forced himself to practice the Yijing Sutra. This is the wrong flow of learning these skills and the practitioner faces an impending disaster. The old monk explained that when learning these Legendary Skills, the student must possess a high level of compassion. A learner with a violent nature will be faced with obstacles and danger to his health. When this old monk pointed out the discomforts of my father and Xiao Yuanshan, his predictions were accurate and precise. Therefore, the diagnosis of Jiumozhi cannot be too far from the truth.”

Think about this point, Murong Fu was overjoyed: “Hey Hey. This monk himself is facing an impending danger and yet he dared to threaten me, demanding that I lose my eyes or my limbs.”

Still, Murong Fu cannot be absolutely sure and needed to test this theory. He exclaimed: “Ai! The wrong flow of learning skills and the practitioner will face an impending disaster! When learning top echelon skills, the backfire effect (from fire-deviation) is simply the worst.”

Out of the blue, Jiumozhi erupted in a spine-chilling roar. It was a terrifying scream, sounding more like an animal than a man. His hands reached out to grab Murong Fu as he hollered: “What are you talking about? You… Who are you talking about?”

Murong Fu slanted his body to avoid his hands. Jiumozhi turned his body to follow the momentum. As the moonlight shone on his face, it highlighted his bloodshot eyes, shrunken brows and a face filled with violent rage. Despite the fearsome aura, nothing can conceal the tinge of fear on the same face.

There is no longer any doubt in Murong Fu. He advised: “I have a piece of sincere proposal. MingWang (Bright King) should quickly leave Western Xia and return to TuBo. As long as you do not activate your internal energy, do not get angry and do not exchange blows, you can return to your hometown safely. Otherwise, the prediction of the Shaolin Divine Monk will come true.”

Jiumozhi is a shade of his former self. His usual calm and patient demeanor had vanished without a trace. He yelled: “You… What do you know? What do you know?”

Observing the ugly complexion, in complete contrast with the normally strict and saintly monk appearance, Murong Fu could not help feeling dreadful and took one step back. Jiumozhi demanded: “What do you know? Tell me quickly!”

Murong Fu forced himself to steady his nerves. Letting out a sigh, he explained: “Bright King’s internal energy has taken the wrong path and your life is in danger. If you do not leave for TuBo immediately, you should at least consider going to Shaolin Monastery and seek medical help from the Divine Monk. There is still hope for you.”

Jiumozhi let out a false laugh: “How do you know my internal energy has taken a wrong path. Utter rubbish.” As he spoke, his left hand shot out, making a grabbing frontal attack at Murong Fu.

Although his five fingers are still quivering, the grab is still a powerful one, backed by years of experience and foundation. There is no sign of internal energy injury. Murong Fu was secretly traumatized and he thought: Did I guess wrongly?

Summoning his own internal energy, he focused on receiving the blow. Using his right hand, he blocked the blow and tried to hook the wrist of his opponent. Jiumozhi bellowed: “For your father’s sake, I will not employ any killing moves in the first ten stances. It is a token of my friendship to the child of my old friend.” Whoosh! A punch flew out towards Murong Fu’s right shoulder.

Murong Fu floated away to avoid the punch but Jiumozhi’s second attack is following up closely behind without a gap. Although Murong Fu is talented in the <Star Shifting Movement>, which allows him to use the opponent’s attack against himself, Jiumozhi’s attacks are too intricate for that. Every strike would transform in the middle of the stroke, giving Murong Fu no opportunity to reverse the blow. Eventually, Murong Fu could only guard the critical parts of his body and wait for a window to counter attack.

Jiumozhi’s attacking stances are truly mysterious and rarely seen in the martial world. An original punch attack would evolve into a jab; a grab technique transformed into palm attack right before making contact. Jiumozhi thundered: “The ten strokes are completed, face your fate!”

Murong Fu was bedazzled as he became surrounded by several images of Jiumozhi. On his left came a kick; on his right flew a punch; from the front a palm movement is rapidly closing in and a jabbing strike is almost at his back. It is as if he is being simultaneously hammered by a group of people. Unable to meet the barrage, he summons his internal energy for defense and let loose both his palms in a series of wild, confused parries. 

Out of a sudden, he heard Jiumozhi’s relentless panting. The wheezing noise began to worsen, drawing Murong Fu’s attention. He thought: “This monk’s internal circulation has gone haywire. If this persists, he will surely collapse and die on the spot.”

But as Jiumozhi’s panting became even more severe, his strokes increased in intensity as well. With a sudden roar from Jiumozhi, Murong Fu felt pain concurrently at his waist‘Juzhong point’ and stomach ‘Sangqu point’. With these two acupoints blocked, his limbs lost all their strength and he became immobile.

Jiumozhi coldly laughed for a while despite his persistent breathlessness. He panted: “I kindly persuaded you to get lost but you chose to stay instead. Now, you cannot blame me for your predicament. I… I… What should I do with you?” He pinched his lips and whistled loudly.

In a short spell of time, four TuBo warriors emerged from the woods. Bowing, they acknowledged: “What are Bright King’s orders?” Jiumozhi commanded: “Hack this kid to pieces!” The four warriors replied in unison: “Yes, Bright King!”

Although Murong Fu is immobile, his ears are still working fine. He groaned inwardly: “Earlier on, if only I had accepted Cousin’s love and promise her to give up on the Western Xia Prince Consort dream. Currently, I will not be losing my life to the sword. After my death, the restoration of Great Yan will extinguish with me.” He wanted to communicate this information but cannot find his voice. Furthermore, Jiumozhi did not spare him a second glance. Even if Murong Fu can signal with his eyes, it is to no avail.

The four TuBo warriors received Murong Fu’s body; one of them unsheathe a curved saber and is getting ready to chop towards his neck.

Jiumozhi interrupted: “Hold it! I am an old acquaintance of this kid’s father. Let him die with a complete corpse. Throw him into that abandoned well. After that, seal the well with big rocks. Even if he unblocks his acupoints, there is no way for him to climb out!”

The TuBo warriors replied: “Yes, Bright King!” After depositing Murong Fu into the abandoned well, they could not locate any suitable rocks in the vicinity. As a result, they speedily travelled to the back of the hill to search for large rocks.

Standing beside the well, a distressed Jiumozhi is gasping for breath.

Back at Mount Shaoshi, after he ambushed Duan Yu with the ‘Blazing Saber Technique’, he was afraid that the numerous martial experts would gang up against him. Therefore, he immediately escaped down the mountain. Halfway down Mount Shaoshi, he could already feel his ‘Dantian’ point swelling with a burning sensation. At once, he halted his steps and tried to regulate his internal energy. To his shock and surprise, it was extremely difficult to do so. He thought: “That old rascal (monk) mentioned that I mastered Shaolin’s 72 Legendary Skills without the matching level of compassion, causing my energy flows to be blocked, thereby planting a ticking time bomb. After learning the Yijing Sutra, my energy flows become topsy-turvy, and now I am at the brink of internal energy disaster. Could it be… Could it be that old rascal (monk) ‘s prediction coming true?”

Without any delay, Jiumozhi sourced for a mountain cave and sat down to meditate. As long as he does not activate his internal energy flows, the burning sensation in his body will slowly subside. Any minor exertion will instantly trigger the full burning sensation at his ‘Dantian’ and it felt as if his organs are on fire.

His meditation lasted till evening. Unable to detect any pursuers from Shaolin Monastery, he slowly head south towards home. Along his journey, he encountered a TuBo messenger spy and learnt about the TuBo King sending the Prince to Lingzhou for the marriage and application for Western Xia Prince Consort. The spy detailed: On this mission, the Prince is accompanied by a large entourage of highly-skilled warriors. They are furnished with copious amounts of gold, silver, precious jewellery, rare valuables, famous steeds and prized swords. The steeds and swords are tribute items to the Emperor of Western Xia; the rare valuables are gifts for the Princess; and the gold, silver and precious jewellery will be used to bribe the Western Xia eunuchs, concubines and officials of various grades. 

As the Grand Priest (Advisor) of TuBo, Jiumozhi is involved in laying the strategies for the country’s political and military affairs. The success or failure of this marriage will affect the country’s future. So, despite his ill health, he headed towards Western Xia to oversee the operation, dispatching the talented fighters to terrorize other potential contenders for the Prince Consort. By the 10th Day of August of the Lunar Calendar, the warriors of TuBo have already driven away hundreds of admirers from prestigious families as well as accomplished martial arts heroes. Despite the huge number of participants, every one of them is behaving in an individualistic manner, Battle Royale style. Since the applicants are mostly solo and no assistance is given to one another; one by one, they eventually succumbed to the group attacks of the TuBo warriors. 

Since arriving at Lingzhou, Jiumozhi has been living in seclusion and healing his internal injuries. The turmoil of burning sensation in his body has greatly diminished, but once he triggers his energies, all his limbs and bones will tremble uncontrollably. Even when he eventually reached a new equanimity, his fingers, eyebrows, mouth and shoulders will still vibrate slightly and the spasms simply will not go away. He naturally wished to avoid exposure and chose to live alone, minimizing his contact with other humans. 

Today, a subordinate has reported Murong Fu’s arrival into Lingzhou and that several TuBo Warriors have been killed or injured by Murong Fu’s entourage. Jiumozhi thought: Murong Fu is blessed with a charming appearance, good literacy background and competent martial arts. He is truly a top talent among his generation of martial artistes. If Murong Fu stays and compete, the Prince of TuBo would surely lose to him. Despite his plentiful warriors, none of them is able to match Murong Fu’s ability. This time round, he must personally get involved in order to overcome Murong Fu. Moreover, Murong Fu is well aware of Jiumozhi’s consummate skills. Based on this, he should be able to scare Murong Fu away without a fight.

With this thinking, he hunted for Murong Fu at the inn. By the time he arrived, Murong Fu had left with the captured Duan Yu. The inn is under surveillance by the TuBo warriors. Learning the direction where Murong Fu went, Jiumozhi gave chase. When he got to the woods, Murong Fu had already thrown Duan Yu into the well and is conversing with Wang Yuyan. After a bout of fighting, Murong Fu may have been captured but Jiumozhi is experiencing chaotic internal energy movements. Regardless of his arteries or meridians or acupoints, the energies are running amok, as if they are about to burst out from his body but no exit is available. Jiumozhi is heavily depressed by his predicament. 

Using his hands, he clawed at his own chest as the internal energy continue to surge and expand. He felt as if his brain, chest and stomach are swelling like a balloon and at any point in time, his body would explode into a rain of mincemeat. Lowering his head to examine his chest and stomach, he could not see any physical deformity or swelling. Nonetheless, with the turbulent internal energy, he definitely felt as if his whole body has been inflated to become a large ball. In his state of helplessness, he used his right hand to stab at his left shoulder and both legs, piercing three holes in his flesh. Jiumozhi desired to guide his internal energy to these three holes and provide an exit for them to be expended from his body. Blood can be seen leaving the three wounds but the internal energy continued to plague him.

The words of the old monk from Shaolin Monastery Sutra Chamber rang incessantly in his ears. By now, Jiumozhi realised the monk was telling the truth and that he himself had been awfully greedy, mistakenly learning Shaolin Sect’s 72 Legendary Skills and Yijing Sutra in the wrong order and is presently on the brink of death. His heart was panicking but he managed to keep his wits around him. After all, he has accumulated many years of cultivation and his Buddhist meditation skill has reached a profound level. 

Out of the blue, Jiumozhi had a brainwave. He thought: He… Why didn’t he himself try to master these skills? Why did he only learn selected skills and yet presented me with the complete set of 72 Legendary Skills? We barely knew each other before that and even if we can click very well and turned out to be bosom friends, there is no reason for him to bestow such generosity upon me.

In the midst of this precarious period, Jiumozhi suddenly understood Murong Bo’s agenda when the latter presented him with the manuals containing Shaolin 72 Legendary Skills. When Murong Bo first gifted the manuals, Jiumozhi did have some doubts about them, concerned that Murong Bo is trying to scam him. But after reading the manuals, he discovered that the Legendary Skills are truly peerless and such teachings cannot be easily falsified. He even tested the paper of the manuals for poison, which there are none, thereby removing all his doubts. From then on, he practiced the skills diligently and with every skill that he mastered, his gratitude for Murong Bo increased in tandem.

At this point in time, when Jiumozhi is alternating between life and death, he finally comprehended Murong Bo’s intentions and malice. He figured: He has been hiding inside Shaolin Monastery for more than ten years; he must have overhead the monks’ conversations about these Legendary Skills. Perhaps these skills are not meant to be learnt spontaneously. When we met for the first time, he is probably conscious of my martial arts attainment and decided to pass me these Legendary Manuals. First, he wants me to be his guinea pig and see the consequence of someone who has learnt all the Legendary Skills. Second, he wanted to sow discord between Shaolin Monastery and me, escalating the fight into war between TuBo and Great Song. When that happens, his Murong lineage can profit from the chaos and revive the Yan Empire. Regarding the 72 Legendary Skills Manuals, he probably has an extra copy somewhere that he kept for himself.

When he captured Murong Fu earlier, he was reminded of the Shaolin Manuals from Murong Bo and the deep appreciation for him. Despite knowing that Murong Fu is a potential enemy, Jiumozhi did not execute him on the spot but chose to let him die in the abandoned well with a complete corpse. Now that he truly understood the reason behind Murong Bo’s gift of Manuals, he realised that his sufferings today is all because of this evil man and his evil deed. Naturally, he was mad with anger. Leaning against the opening of the well, he sent three consecutive palms strikes downwards into the well.

As the blows of the palm strikes travel down, the well remained silent, highlighting the depth of the well and the inability of the blows to reach the bottom. Furious with rage, Jiumozhi forced his strength to execute a punch. With this punch attack, the internal energies went into complete disarray. It felt as if these energies are trying to vent out through the 108,000 skin pores but wherever they go, the energies met with constraints and they remained trapped in his body.

Feeling traumatized and irritated, Jiumozhi suddenly felt a movement at his chest area. From his robes, an item fell out and into the well. He tried to catch the falling object but was too late. He hurriedly employed the <Volley Catch Movement> from <Seizing Dragon Hand Technique>. Under ordinary circumstances, he could easily retrieve the object. But this time, his tendons are not under his complete control. The energy did expand but the effect could not be executed from his palm. With a ‘Pa!’ sound, the item has hit the bottom of the well.

Jiumozhi groaned to himself: “Not good!”

Using his hand to search his bosom area, he realised the dropped object is indeed his copy of Yijing Sutra.

He is aware that the internal energy chaotic movement originated from the practice of Yijing Sutra. The Yijing Sutra is therefore, the problem and the solution. To avert this disaster, he must consult the Yijing Sutra again. Since it is a matter of life and death, how could he afford to lose the Sutra? Without any further thought, he leapt into the well.

Worried that the bottom of the well may be lined with sharp rocks or thick branches that could impale his limbs; and afraid that Murong Fu may have released his acupoints and getting ready to ambush him, before his feet reached the bottom of the well, Jiumozhi utilize his right hand and sent two palms strikes downwards, with the aim of slowing down his descent. From his left palm, he executed <Leaves Scattering Wind>, a stance which protects the critical parts of his body.

Unexpectedly, his internal energies are experiencing huge transformations. Although the palm movements are precise, there is no strength behind them. Eventually, the exerted energy inaccurately dissipated, missing their targets. The two downward palm strikes not only failed to slow down his fall, they increased his falling momentum. With a loud ‘PONG!’ his skull smashed heavily against the bricks lining the inner wall of the well.

Based on his original internal energy cultivation; although he is not impenetrable; when his skull is bashed against bricks, he would not suffer the slightest injury and the bricks will be smashed into smithereens. However, he is in his worst possible state right now. Feeling dizzy and seeing stars, he bent over and collapsed at the bottom of the well.

This well has been abandoned for ages. With large mounds of dead leaves and rotting vegetation, all that is left is soft mud debris after years of desolation. As time goes by, the soft mud debris has stacked to a considerable height. With this fall, Jiumozhi’s mouth and nose ended up buried in the mud debris. He can feel his body slowly sinking. When he struggled to stand up, his limbs are unable to exert any strength. In this state of anxiety, he suddenly heard someone calling from the top of the well: “Grand Priest! Grand Priest!”

It was the four TuBo warriors. 

Jiumozhi tried to shout: “I am here!” The minute he opened his mouth to speak, mud entered his mouth. Accordingly, no sound was emitted from his mouth. Instead, he roughly overheard the four TuBo warriors speaking beside the well.

One of them wondered out loud: “Grand Priest is not here. Where could he be?” Another reasoned: “Grand Priest must have departed first due to impatience. Since he instructed us to seal the well with large rocks, let’s fulfill his command.” A third man acknowledged: “Yes!”

Jiumozhi shouted at the top of his voice: “I am here. Quickly come and save me!” The more he panicked, the more mud debris entered his mouth. In his daze, he had already swallowed two mouthfuls in succession. Naturally, the rotting smell is unbearable. Hearing several ‘Ping Pong! Pong Long!’ noise, it is the sound of TuBo warriors piling up huge rocks on the well. These warriors respect Jiumozhi like a deity, and regard his orders with no less importance than an Imperial edict from their King. Using the biggest rocks they could find and building the most solid formation they could, the well was securely sealed in a short span of time with thirteen rocks weighing hundreds of catties. 

Hearing the four warriors stack the giant rocks and leaving after the task was completed, Jiumozhi lamented to himself: Even at full prowess, removing these rocks from within the well in order to escape is considered a challenging task; now that he is unable to utilize his martial arts, these heavy rocks sealing the well simply indicate that he will surely die inside this abandoned well.

His Buddhist Knowledge, martial arts and strategic planning is not only top-notched, but considered the best in the Western region. Who would have expected that he would die in a pile of dirty mud debris?

Since time immemorial, everybody dies. However, such a muddy death is genuinely unglamorous. In Buddhism, the body is considered to be a tainted vessel, an impermanent object. All impermanent objects are considered to be a form of suffering. The body does not belong to you and one day, you have to leave your body. These are basic Buddhist principles. Whenever Jiumozhi gave Dhamma talks at the altar, he is able to wisely articulate these principles, explaining them flawlessly and earning the praise of his disciples.

In comparison, he is currently stuck in an abandoned well that is sealed with rocks. The muddy debris in mouth compared to the fragrance of incense and lotuses from the altar. The contrast is enormous. On one hand, there is Nibanna, forever living a happy and peaceful life, free from fetters and the sufferings of the five senses. On the other hand, desire clouds the mind; fear rules the heart; greed, hatred and delusion exists, cumulating into this result of being trapped in a muddy well.

Thinking about this hurtful experience, his tears began to flow. Covered in mud, he is dirty beyond recognition. Eventually, he got used to the mud and used his hand to wipe his tears. Moving his left hand, he unexpectedly brushed against something in the mud. Grabbing the new object, it turned out to be his copy of Yijing Sutra. In an instant, he cannot help but laugh to his heart’s content. He has recovered the sutra but of what use is it now?

Out of nowhere, he heard a female voice articulating: “Listen, the TuBo warriors have sealed the well with large rocks. How can we get out?” Jiumozhi recognized the speaker to be Wang Yuyan and was delighted. He thought: So she survived, but to whom is she speaking to? Since there are others around, we can combine our strength, push aside the large rocks, and escape from here. 
A man spoke out: “As long as I can stay together with you, even if we are trapped, it does not matter. Since you are by my side, even a smelly and muddy well feels like a fragrant garden. Regardless of whether it is the Eastern Pureland, Western Paradise, Tusita Heavens or Yama Heavens, no place is better than my current location.”
Jiumozhi was stunned. He thought to himself: This Duan fellow is actually still alive? He was injured by my ‘Blazing Saber Technique’ and our enmity runs deep. Presently, I cannot activate my internal energy. If he took advantage of this weakness to exact revenge, what should I do?
The speaker is indeed Duan Yu. When Murong Fu threw him into the well, he had lost consciousness and was completely immobile. Although he landed into the muddy debris, he wasn’t as haggard as Jiumozhi. The bottom of the well is fairly narrow; when Wang Yuyan jumped into the well, it was a nice coincidence that her head knocked onto Duan Yu’s chest ‘Danzhong’ point. With this knock, Duan Yu regained consciousness. Wang Yuyan had fallen onto his bosom. Not only was she uninjured; she was only slightly muddied in the process.

Duan Yu suddenly felt someone lying in his bosom and was greatly puzzled. Then he heard Murong Fu speaking at the top of the well: “Cousin, in your heart, you truly love Mister Duan. Although the two of you cannot live as a married couple, but by dying in the same hole, at least you should die a fulfilled death” These words clearly resonated to the bottom of the well and upon hearing them, Duan Yu was in a daze. He mumbled to himself: “What? No! No! I… I, Duan Yu, don’t deserve such good fortune.”

To his amazement, the person lying on his bosom gently remarked: “Mister Duan, I am truly as muddle-headed as can be. You have always been kind to me, I… Yet I…” Duan Yu was shocked speechless. He inquired: “You are Miss Wang?” Wang Yuyan replied: “Yes!”

Since the beginning, Duan Yu has always been very respectful of Wang Yuyan and dare not intrude into her personal space. The minute he recognized it is indeed her, besides feeling astonishment and delight, he hurriedly stood up and wanted to release her from his bosom. However, the bottom of the well is narrow and filled with muddy debris. When Duan Yu stood upright, his two legs begin to sink into the debris and the top of the muddy debris is almost at his chest level. He cannot help but feel it is highly inappropriate to put Wang Yuyan down into the muddy pile. Still carrying her body horizontally, he profusely apologized: “Sorry! Sorry! Miss Wang, we are stuck in a muddy pile so please bear with me.”

Wang Yuyan inhaled deeply and was filled with gratitude. Twice, she had nearly died and twice, she had escaped death. With regards to Murong Fu’s character, nobody knows better than her and she can no longer deceive herself any further. In addition, Duan Yu has always been devoted to her. Comparing these two personalities, it is plain obvious that one is caring and righteous, while the other is selfish and cold-blooded. Although her jump from the opening of the well to the bottom of the well only took a short space of time, her mindset underwent a huge transformation. At the point of suicide, she decided to die out of gratitude to Duan Yu. Unexpectedly, both she and Duan Yu survived. This unforeseen turn of event filled her heart with gladness.

Since young, Wang Yuyan has been brought up well, living a cultured lifestyle and everything that she does is prim and proper. With the recent massive changes occurring in her life, she was especially emotional. Unable to hold back her feelings, she confessed to Duan Yu: “Mister Duan, I originally thought you were deceased. Recalling your frequent acts of kindness to me, I am filled with pain and regret. Fortunately, Heaven is fair and you are unhurt. I suppose you have overheard my earlier conversation at the top of the well?” At the last sentence, she could not help but feel a tinge of embarrassment, and quickly hid her face besides Duan Yu’s neck.

Within this short spell of time, Duan Yu can only feel his spirits flying into the sky and clouds. He felt as if he is dreaming. For the longest time, this recurring wish on his mind is about to become reality. Overjoyed, both his legs turned to jelly and momentarily, he lost the ability to stand up. With his back leaning against the inner wall of the well for support, both his arms are still hugging Wang Yuyan’s body frame. Right then, a few strands of hair from Wang Yuyan entered his nostrils. Ha-Choo! Ha-Choo! Duan Yu sneezed a few times consecutively.

Wang Yuyan asked: “You… What happened to you? Are you injured?”

Duan Yu replied: “No… Nope… Ha Choo! Ha Choo! I am not hurt. Ha Choo! Neither am I sick with flu. I am simply happy beyond description. Miss Wang… Ha Choo… I am so overwhelmed that I nearly fainted from joy.”

There is complete darkness inside the well and neither of them can see each other. Wang Yuyan smiled in silence as she herself in drowning in ecstasy. Since youth, she has been smitten with her Cousin (Murong Fu) but he never reciprocated her love. It is only today that she tasted for the first time what it felt like when two persons are in love with each other.
Duan Yu stammered: “Miss Wang, what did you say earlier at the top of the well? I did not manage to catch anything.” Wang Yuyan giggled: “I have known you to be an honest and upright gentleman; but I never imagine that you are such a tease. You obviously heard it all but wanted me to repeat them in person. It is so embarrassing for me, I will not repeat them.”

Duan Yu anxiously clarified: “I… I definitely did not hear anything. If I did hear, may Heaven punish me…”

He was about to swear a vicious vow when he felt something warm on his lips. Wang Yuyan has covered his mouth with her hand. In the darkness, he heard Wang Yuyan state: “It is fine if you did not hear anything. It is no big deal and there is no need to make a vicious vow.” Duan Yu was elated. Since he got to know her, she has never been so affectionate with him. He implored: “So, what did you say earlier?” Wang Yuyan started: “I said…” Hit with a bout of shyness, she smiled: “In the following days, we can always find time to talk about these. We have a long future ahead of us; there is no need to rush for the details now.”

‘We have a long future ahead of us; there is no need to rush for details now.’ When these words entered Duan Yu’s ear, he felt as if he is listening to heavenly music. Even if all the Western Paradise JiaLing Birds sang in unison, it would not sound as lovely as this. 

What Wang Yuyan made this statement, the underlying meaning is that in the future, she will be co-habiting with Duan Yu. Taking in this wonderful news, Duan Yu is still in a state of disbelief, he asked: “In the future, we will always be together?”

Reaching out her arm and hugging Duan Yu’s neck, Wang Yuyan whispered into his ear: “Duan Lang 郎 (mate, partner, groom, companion, etc. Will use Mate in the future), as long as you do not resent me and bear no grudges against me for being nonchalant to you in the past, I am willing to accompany you for the rest of my life. Never… Never will I leave you again.”
Duan Yu’s heart nearly jumped out of his mouth. He probed: “What about your Cousin? You have always… always been fond of Mister Murong.” 

Wang Yuyan answered: “I was never one of his priorities. Only today do I realise, in this world, who genuinely loves me, cares for me, and who places my importance above his own life.”

In a quivering voice, Duan Yu muttered: “Are you referring to me?”
Tearing, Wang Yuyan sobbed: “Of course! For his entire life, my Cousin has been dreaming about becoming the Emperor of Yan. At the beginning, it seems like a natural process. After all, his Murong lineage has been harbouring this ambition for several generations. When the burden falls onto him, why should he be any different and realise the futility of this dream? My Cousin started off as a good person but eventually casted his morals aside in order to fulfill his dream as the Emperor of Yan.”

Hearing her outburst, Duan Yu felt the need to speak up for Murong Fu. In a flustered manner, he imagined: “Miss Wang, what if your Cousin expresses regret and wanted to rekindle the relationship? What… What will you do?”

Wang Yuyan sighed: “Duan Mate, I may be muddle headed but I am still someone who keeps my promises. Today, I vowed to accompany you for life. If I wavered, wouldn’t that be a stain on my character? Furthermore, how else can I live up to your deep love and commitment?”

Duan Yu was on cloud nine. Still holding her, he leapt up and shouted: Ah Ha! for joy. With a Pa! sound, he landed again in the muddy debris. He reached out with his mouth and wanted to kiss her lips. Wang Yuyan did not shy away. When the two pairs of lips are about to make contact, they were interrupted by a rustling sound above their heads. It appears that something has fallen into the well.

The two of them were astounded and speedily plastered themselves against the inner wall of the well. With a Boom! sound, it appears that a human being has fallen into the well.

Duan Yu quizzed: “Who is it?”

The mystery person let out a ‘Humph,’ and responded: “It is me!” It is Murong Fu indeed.

When Duan Yu regain consciousness and was enamored by Wang Yuyan’s tender voice, both of them were so captivated by each other that they were blissfully ignorant of whatever that transpired outside the well.
Even if there is an apocalypse, it did not matter. Plausibly, they have no inkling about the fierce sparring between Jiumozhi and Murong Fu. Now that Murong Fu has entered the well, the two of them were petrified, assuming that he is here to make things difficult for them.

Wang Yuyan insisted in a shaky voice: “Cousin, you… What are you here for? I belong to Mister Duan now. If you are going to kill him, please kill me as well.”

Duan Yu was thrilled. He was not worried about Murong Fu trying to harm him. He was afraid that Wang Yuyan might rekindle her past love after seeing her Cousin and once again, return to his side. Hearing her proclamation, he immediately rest easy. He also felt Wang Yuyan reaching out with her hands and holding onto his two hands. His confidence boosted by a hundred times, Duan Yu emphasized: “Mister Murong, you can go ahead and become the Prince Consort of Western Xia. I promise I will not obstruct you in any way. Your cousin, however, is mine. You can no longer take her away. Yuyan, am I right?”

Wang Yuyan affirmed: “Correct. Duan Mate, in life or in death, I will be right beside you.”

With his acupoints sealed by Jiumozhi, despite being immobile, Murong Fu can still hear and speak. Listening to the words of Duan Yu and Wang Yuyan, he thought: The two of them have no idea that I just suffered a heavy loss and am at a disadvantage now. Thus, they remain guarded against me and are afraid that I would harm them. This is considered my good fortune. I shall employ a delay tactic. With this strategy, he replied: “Cousin, after you married Mister Duan, we will become one big family of relatives. Mister Duan would have become my Cousin-in-Law. Why should I harm him?”

Duan Yu is kind-hearted by nature while Wang Yuyan is naïve and gullible. When they heard his reply, the two of them were ecstatic. One said: “Many thanks, Brother Murong.” The other one said: “Many thanks, Cousin!” 

Murong Fu interrogated: “Brother Duan, soon, we will be family. You will no longer disrupt my plans to become the Prince Consort of Western Xia?”

Duan Yu confirmed: “You have my word. Besides becoming husband and wife with your esteemed Cousin, I have no other desires. Even if I were to exchange it for becoming a Deity or an Arahant, I will be most unwilling.” 

Filled with boundless happiness, Wang Yuyan gently leaned against Duan Yu.

In the background, Murong Fu is secretly channeling his internal energy to burst through the acupoints sealed by Jiumozhi. It is taking quite a long time and yet, he is unwilling to ask Duan Yu for help. He angrily cursed to himself: It is often said that all women are promiscuous. This saying is accurate indeed. Under ordinary circumstances, Cousin (WYY) would have rapidly come to my side and assisted me in standing up. This time round, she has chosen to ignore me completely.

The circumference of the bottom of the well is about three metres and the three individuals are actually pretty near one another. Wang Yuyan can hear Murong Fu lying in the mud without standing up. She only needed to take one step to reach the side of Murong Fu and help him up. However, she is firstly concerned that Murong Fu could be hatching another scheme to harm Duan Yu. Secondly, she did not want Duan Yu to get the wrong idea. Therefore, she eventually chose not to step out.

With his turbulent emotions, the acupoints become harder to unblock so Murong Fu calmed down and finally unsealed the acupoints. Using his hand against the wall of the well, he propped himself up. 

With a Pa! sound, an item dropped down beside his body. It was Jiumozhi’s Yijing Sutra. In the dark, Murong Fu could not identify the item so he naturally took one step away. It is fortunate that he took this extra step; otherwise, when Jiumozhi jumped into the well, he would have knocked into Murong Fu.

Picking up the sutra, Jiumozhi abruptly burst out in hysterical laughter. As the well is deep and narrow like a cylinder, the sounds of laughter echoed within the well, shaking the eardrums of the three other persons and the laughing sound is droning in their ears. It was a horrible experience.

With his internal energies all haywire and his senses in disarray, Jiumozhi cannot stop laughing. Within the muddy debris, he began flaunting his punches and kicks, venting all the blows onto the bricks forming the wall of the well. Some blows were full of strength and smashed the bricks into smithereens; some blows carried no strength at all.

Wang Yuyan was horror-struck. Tightly securing herself to Duan Yu, she whispered: “He has gone mad! He has gone mad!” Duan Yu nodded: “He has truly lost his senses!” Meanwhile, Murong Fu utilized the skill <Wall Scaling Lizard>. Sticking his body close to the wall of the well, he began to climb upwards.

Jiumozhi remained where he was, laughing and panting concurrently, while his punches and kicks start to increase in speed.

Mustering her courage, Wang Yuyan advised: “Senior Master, you should sit down and take a break. Your nerves require some stabilization.”

Jiumozhi laughingly scolded: “I… I need to stabilize… If only I can stabilize! I’ll stabilize your head first!” Reaching out with his hand, he tried to grab her. Within the well, there is hardly any space to retreat. With this grab, he grabbed onto Wang Yuyan’s shoulder. Wang Yuyan let out a shriek and hastily moved aside.

Duan Yu dashed in front of her and blocked her with his own body. He called out: “Hide behind me.” At this point in time, the two hands of Jiumozhi have locked onto his throat and are tightening swiftly. Duan Yu can feel his breath quickening and he can no longer speak out. Wang Yuyan was traumatized and hurriedly used her hands to pry open Jiumozhi’s arms. The current Jiumozhi is just a raging madman. Although his internal energy is out of control, his strength is still extraordinary. When Wang Yuyan wanted to pry open his hands, it is like a dragonfly trying to lift a stone pillar; she is of no assistance. 

Wang Yuyan is filled with anxiety and her biggest fear is Jiumozhi strangling Duan Yu to death. She screamed: “Cousin! Cousin! Come and help us! This monk… This monk is about to strangle Mister Duan to death!”

Murong Fu thought: This Duan Yu fellow defeated me thoroughly on Mount Shaoshi, causing me to lose my standing in the martial arts world. If he dies, he dies. Why should I render any assistance? Additionally, this violent monk is highly skilled and far stronger than me. It is wiser to let them fight to their deaths and hopefully, it will be a double KO. I would be a fool if I interfere.

Thus, his fingers held onto the gaps between the bricks and he kept his body close to the wall of the well, keeping his silence. Wang Yuyan has shouted until her voice is nearly hoarse but Murong Fu pretended not to hear a thing. 

Wang Yuyan clenched her fists and rained uncoordinated blows on the head and back of Jiumozhi. Gasping and laughing concurrently, Jiumozhi exerted more strength in strangling Duan Yu’s throat.


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