Demi Gods & Semi Devils Chapter 2: The Jade Cliff Under the Moonlight

Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 玉壁月华明
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by Moinllieon

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demi gods and semi devils chapter 2

Chapter 2:  The Jade Cliff Under the Moonlight

After all that mess, the moon had risen to the middle of the sky. Duan Yu kept on walking west. Even though he does not know any kungfu, his youth enabled him to keep this up. After about ten kilometers he had already arrived in the back mountains of Limitless Mountain (Mt. Wuliang). He suddenly heard the sound of water running. Feeling thirsty, he went searching and found the creek. Under the moonlight the creek water looked clear and beautiful. Just as he put his into the creek, he heard sound of a branch cracking followed by the footsteps of two people. Duan Yu immediately lied down by the creek, not daring to make a noise.

Someone said: "There is a creek here, let's get a couple of drinks here before continuing." The voice sounded familiar to Duan Yu as he suddenly recognized it as Gan GuangHao, the disciple of Zuo ZiMu. Duan Yu became even more still. The two of them walked up to the creek and started drinking. After a bit, Gan GuangHao spoke up: "Sister Ge, looks like we are already out of danger. Let's rest a while before going on." The girl seemed to have agreed as it sounded like both of them sat down by the creek.

The girl spoke up: "You sure that the Divine Farmer Clan won't have anyone this way?" Her voice was shaky, obviously scared. Gan GuangHao tried to calm her: "Don't worry, this path is as hidden as can be. Even some of us in the East Faction don't know about it, not to mention the Divine Farmer Clan." The girl asked: "Then how did you know about this?" Gan GuangHao replied: "Every five days, my master would take some of us here to try to crack the secret of the ' Limitless Jade Cliff'. All these years, all we did was stare at the rock like a bunch of retards. Master kept on saying something to the effect of 'to get things done you must show perseverance and determination' and 'good things come to those with aspirations'. But I really just can't stand it anymore, so sometimes I excuse myself to do that kind of personal business to come out here and wander around. That's how I found this path."

The girl laughed a little and said: "So you don't want to put in the work and ran off. I say in your faction, you probably have the least perseverance and determination." 

Gan GuangHao laughed and replied: "Sister Ge, in the competition five years ago, when I lost to you...." 

The girl cuts in: "Don't you say that you lost to me again. You pretended that your inner strength was weaker and let me win on purpose. Others can't tell, but don't you think I know?"

Duan Yu thought to himself: "So this girl is a disciple of the West Faction of Limitless Sword."

Gan GuangHao replied: "The moment I saw you, I swore to myself that I will spend the rest of my life with you no matter what. Luckily such a rare chance came today with the Divine Farmer Clan coming to attack. Not to mention that pair of bastard guy and girl and their stinking marten. The entire Sword Lake Palace was a mess, giving us such a great opportunity to run away. Wouldn't you say that this is 'good things come to those with aspirations'?" 

The girl laughed a bit and tenderly replied: "I say 'good things came to those with aspirations' for me as well." 

Gan GuangHao replied: "Sister Ge, if you treat me this way, then I would listen to whatever you say for the rest of my life."

The girl sighed: "With us betraying our masters and running off like this, we can't ever stand in the martial world ever again. We should go as far away as we can, find a nice and secret place and hide there away from our masters and sect members. I'm scared just thinking about them finding us." 

Gan GuangHao replied: "I say you don't have that much to worry about. Seems like the Divine Farmer Clan came prepared this time. Besides the two of us, I don't think anyone else would be able to escape." 

The girl sighed again: "Hopefully."

Duan Yu became very angry and thought to himself: "The two of you becoming husband and wife and running off when seeing that there is trouble is really no big deal. But why wish death upon your master and martial brothers? Such evil hearts." But he was still wise enough to figure out that if they found out he is here they would kill him to keep this quiet. So he still did not make a noise.

The girl asked: "What is the big deal about this ' Limitless Jade Cliff'? You have lived here for ten years now, haven't you at least found something?"

Gan GuangHao replied: "Since we are together now, I have nothing to hide from you. Master said that a long while back, at that time his master was the head of the East Faction, under the moonlight, he often sees faint reflections practicing swords on the cliff. Sometimes it's a man, sometimes it's a woman, and then other times they are sparring. The kind of sword skill they were displaying was something that he has never even dreamed of, much less heard of or seen. It is as if they were angels. He hoped to learn a couple of moves, but not only are the reflections on the cliff just too fast and too amazing, but they also seem supernatural as if nonexistent. He just can't make out anything clearly, much less learn a move or two. The angels don't appear regularly either, sometimes they appear every night, sometimes there are months between appearances. My 

master's master became so obsessed with the reflections on the cliff that he actually became worse and worse at our own sect's sword skills and doesn't even train his students anymore. That's how the West Faction won later on. Sister Ge, when your master's master came to live in Sword Lake Palace, did she see anything?"

The girl replied: "I heard from my master that her master saw the images on the cliff as well. But grand master only saw the woman and never saw any of the man angel. Maybe it was because her master was a woman so only the female angel appeared to her. But after two years, she was gone as well. Her master also said that the sword skills were incredible, but they were just too fast and the reflections were too blurry for her to see it clearly. The cliff is separated by the canyon and the Sword Lake, so she couldn't get closer to have a better look. Grandmaster obviously received a gift from the heavens, yet she just could not learn even a move or two. For that you can just imagine how she felt inside. After the reflections stopped appearing, she would spend days upon days staring at the cliff. She just got weaker and weaker until she 

died of illness about half a year later. She died lying on the peak, and would not let her disciples move her back to Sword Lake Palace. Master said that even as she drew her last breath she was still staring at the cliff." She paused a bit before continuing: "Brother Gan, do you really believe there are angels? Or are our grandmasters lying to us?"

Gan GuangHao replied: "I don't think both our Grandmasters made up such a story to deceive their disciples. Even if we believed it, then what? Besides, Martial Uncle Sheng told me that he saw the images with his very own two eyes. But are there really angels in the world? That I do not know."

The girl asked: "Is it possible that it's two masters practicing swords in front of the cliff and was reflected onto the cliff?" 

Gan GuangHao answered: "Grandmaster thought about that as well at the time. But right in front of the cliff is the Sword Lake, and west of the lake is the canyon. Even if the two master martial artists knew how to walk on water and were practicing on the lake, Grandmaster would have seen them. If they were practicing on this side of the lake, then they really are too far away to cast any kind of reflection onto the cliff." 

The girl said: "After my Grandmaster died, her disciples performed rites and prayed in front of the cliff every night, hoping the angels would appear again. But they never did see it again. My master also wants to just get one glance at the angels, but it just so happens that we have lost both contests to your East Faction in the last ten years."

Gan GuangHao replied: "From now on, there is no East or West Faction between us. We East and West is connected in marriage and merge as one...." 

The girl moaned a couple of times and said: "S... stop that!" Obviously Gan GuangHao is trying to get a little closer with her, but the girl is refusing. 

Gan GuangHao spoke up: "From this day forth, if I ever betray your heart in anyway, then let me fall into this creek and become a turtle." 

The girl coquettishly laughed: "You turn into a turtle? Then what does that say about me?" 

{Note, in Chinese street talk, a turtle is a man whose wife is cheating on him.}

When Duan Yu heard that, he can't help but let out a laugh. As soon as the laughter came out he knew he was in trouble. So he jumped up and started to run. Gan GuangHao's voice came from behind him: "Who is it?" His voice was followed by the sound of his footsteps, coming after him. 

{Duan Yu seems to have problems controlling his sense of humor doesn't he?}

Duan Yu couldn't believe his luck and ran for his life. Suddenly, a flash of white came from the west. A girl with a sword in hand is coming down the slope as if to cut him off. Duan Yu let out an "Ai-Yo!" and turned toward the east. All the while he kept on praying: "Great Benevolent and Merciful Bodhisattva, please bless and protect your humble disciple Duan Yu out of this mess!" He can still hear the footsteps of Gan GuangHao chasing after him so he kept right on running. After a while, he started having trouble keeping this up and his breathing became very hard, Gan GuangHao suddenly spoke up: "Sister Ge, block that pass over there."

Duan Yu thought to himself: "You giving your life away is really no big deal. But if you die you are taking Miss Zhong's life with you, as well as all the people in the Divine Farmer Clan. Now that indeed is a sin. Amida Buddha and Bodhisattva." Then his thoughts turned: "Duan Yu my good man, so what if they become turtles, what does that have to do with you? Why did you laugh for no reason whatsoever? With that laugh you have killed dozens of lives! Only unrivaled beauties can bring down cities with a smile or a laugh. Who do you think you are with this little laugh of yours? What are you planning on bringing down?" Even though he is blaming and scolding himself in his mind, his legs had not let up yet. By now he doesn't really care where he is going, just as long as it is deeper into the woods.

{A little commentary by me. Duan Yu here refers to a idiom saying that unrivaled beauties destroys cities and kingdoms with a smile, it comes from a true story very early in Chinese history. However, it also is a basic concept in ancient Chinese culture. As expected in such chauvinisticic society as ancient China was, many failures of kings and lords are not blamed on themselves but on women whom they associate with. There are many examples of this. In 771 BC, King Zhou You's own personal ignorance and foolishness that led to his demise was blamed on his consort Bao Si (who's famous smile was worth 1000 gold pieces). At the end of the Spring and Autumn period, the fall of the state of Wu was not blamed on the Lord of Yue, who put an end to Wu in revenge for an earlier loss, but on the fact the Lord of Wu was infatuated with Xi Shi, a girl from the state of Yue. In A.D. 755, An LuShan, a trusted official of the Emperor of Tang rebelled and almost overthrew the Tang dynasty. The Emperor of Tang's failure as a ruler was not blamed, his favorite consort, Consort Yang, was! Jin Yong himself delved into this particular phenomenon of Chinese history in Duke of Mt. Deer and its story about Chen YuanYuan. To me, the section during which Chen YuanYuan reflected on her life was the best part of all of Duke of Mt. Deer and one of the most thought provoking and poignant sections that I have ever read. Actually all of this is not really commentary but merely some observations that I have made.}

After running for a while more, Duan Yu's legs felt completely numb and soft. Suddenly he heard the sound of water running, very loud sound in fact, as if the tides were just coming in. He looked up and saw a huge waterfall falling off of a cliff to the northwest. Over the water noise, he heard Gan GuangHao's voice: "Just ahead of you is the restricted area of our sect, no one can enter. If you just go forward a few more meters, you would be trespassing and will die without a burial place!" 

Duan Yu thought to himself: "Even if I don't trespass into the restricted area, it's not like you'll let me go. Best I could hope for is dying with a burial place. Really not much difference between having a burial place and not having one." So he picked up his speed even more. 

Gan GuangHao shouted even louder: "Stop now! Don't you want to live? Just ahead is..."

Duan Yu laughed and replied back: "I want to live, that's why I'm runnin..." Before he could finish his sentence, his foot suddenly had nothing to step on. He doesn't know any kungfu and is in such a hurry, how could he possibly pull back from that? So he just fell. He screamed: "Ai-Yo!" But by now his body was already more than twenty meters below the top of the cliff where he lost his footing.

Duan Yu wildly waved his arms around, desperately hoping to be able to grab onto something. But as he was doing so, he fell another 200 meters or so. Suddenly his bottom hit something and his body was sprung back upwards. Turns out that he fell onto an old pine tree that was growing out of the face of the cliff. With a terrible rumble, the huge trunk of the pine snapped, but the force of Duan Yu's fall had been mostly cancelled out.

Duan Yu started to fall down again. This time he reached out with both his arms and grabbed onto another trunk of the pine tree. So there he was, hanging in midair, swinging back and forth. He looked down and did not see the bottom of the canyon, merely clouds. At this moment, his body had been swung against the cliff. He immediately reached out with his left hand and grabbed onto a shorter branch close to the face of the cliff and found a place for his foot to balance himself. Only now was he finally able to calm down and slowly move his body completely up against the face of the cliff. He looked up to the old pine tree and said: "Grandfather pine, thank you so much for your display of your abilities that saved my life. Back then your ancestor helped Qing ShiHuang (first emperor in Chinese history) get out of the rain and was granted the title of '5th Rank Senior Official'. But how can saving a life compare with protecting against the rain? I'm going to give you the position of '6th Rank Senior Official'. No, on second thought, definitely '7th' or '8th Rank Senior Official'!"

He looked around him carefully and saw that the cliff has a huge crack in it, one which he might be able to use to scale down. He took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself and thought: "Gan GuangHao and that Sister Ge of his surely would have thought that I am dead by now. No way in the world could they have guessed that I would be rescued by an '8th Ranked Senior Official'. They have probably already left the mountain to work on their 'merging of East and West Factions'. Who knows what kind of danger is at the bottom of this cliff, but my life is living on borrowed time anyway, doesn't really matter where I lose it again. But since Bodhisattva is protecting me, it's better not to lose it for her."

So he started to slowly descend along the crack. Inside the crack grew a lot of weeds and small plants, so there really is no danger of losing his footing and falling again. The only problem was that this cliff seemed to go on forever, after a while, his clothing was full of holes and rips from the plants along the crack, not to mention his hands and feet. After what seemed like forever, he still hadn't reached the bottom, but fortunately as the cliff gets to the bottom it became less and less steep, not straight down anymore. So by then Duan Yu was able to just half-roll and half-crawl down, which was much faster.

But the sound of water splashing just kept on getting louder and louder. Duan Yu started to worry again: "What if the bottom of this is white water rapids?" Large water pellets were hitting his face, which was actually kind of painful.

Before he had too much time to think all this over, and it wasn't like he had much choice in the matter, he had reached the bottom of the cliff. When he stood up, he could not help but to scream in astonishment. For on the cliff on the left side there was a waterfall falling from the sky like a jade dragon falling from the sky into a big and unusually clear lake. In spite of the waterfall, the lake was not filled up, meaning that there must be a way for the water to leave the valley. The water where the waterfall entered the lake was in turmoil; however, merely a little bit over twenty meters away from the waterfall the waters became calm and flat as a mirror. The moon shone down onto the lake, as there was also a moon shining back from the lake.

Facing this scene, Duan Yu was left gaping, not even able to sigh in astonishment. He looked over to the side and saw several bushes of camelias by the lake shore, looking as if they were alive under the moonlight. The camelias of Yunan were the best in the world and Duan Yu had always loved them. So now he actually stopped thinking about the predicament he is in and walked over to get a closer look at the flowers. All the while muttering to himself: "Even though there's lots of flowers here, there are only a couple of types really. And only these few 'Feathered Shirt, Rainbow Skirt' are better than the ones at my house. These 'Lotus Every Step' over here, on the other hand, aren't pure at all."

After enjoying the camelias for a while, he walked over to the lake and drank some water. The water felt clean and soothing on the tongue with an unusual sweetness as a cool and smooth string of water went all the way into his stomach. After recovering from the drink, he stood up and walked along side the lake shore hoping to find a way out.

The lake was oval in shape, and more than half of it was hidden underneath bushes of flowers and trees. He walked from west to east and then back again to circle the lake once, which was a trip of about one and a half kilometers. It turned out that the cliff surrounded the lake on all four sides with no paths out. The side that he fell from is the least steep portion of all, so it was impossible to climb on the others. Looking up, he saw that the cliff extended to above the clouds. Getting down from halfway was almost impossible, but climbing back up really was impossible. Duan Yu thought to himself: "Even someone with the best kungfu in the world won't be able to get up there, so it's obvious there is not much difference between knowing or not knowing kungfu."

By now it was getting close to dawn, but the entire place remained incredibly still. Not a single trace or sign of an animal, not to mention humans; the only thing that could be heard was a couple of birds chirping at each other. Duan Yu started to worry again: "It is no big deal if I starve to death here, but then that would mean that Miss Zong would die as well. I can't let her down like that. Not to mention my mom and dad are probably worried sick about me."

He sat down by the lake and worried in vain, unable to come up with a single idea as to what to do. In desperation, he started to imagine: "What if I can turn into a fish, then I could swim up the waterfall and get out of here." He turned to look at the waterfall more closely, suddenly he noticed that the cliff besides it is smooth like jade. He figured that this was probably due to the fact that a long time ago the flow of water was much more than it is now and wore the cliff to its present smooth state. Then the water flow decreased and exposed this smooth as glass and bright as a mirror part of the cliff.

Suddenly, the conversation between Gan GuangHao and that Sister Xin of his flashed in Duan Yu's mind: "So this must be the ' Limitless Jade Cliff' that they were talking about. They said that back then, when the moon is bright, the head of both East and West Factions often saw images of angels practicing swords on the cliff. This cliff is right besides the cliff, for the image to reflect onto it, they really have to be practicing in the middle of the lake. If I stand here on the east of the lake my image could reflect onto the cliff as well, but the cliff on this side is straight up and blocks out the moonlight, which would make that impossible. Ah! I get it! Must be because there are some waterfowls flying close to the surface of the lake so their images were reflected onto the cliff. From afar, then of course, the movements are incredible, fast, and strange. They have already assumed that it was angels practicing swords, so that is what they thought they saw everytime. Of course, they couldn't make anything out of the display of 'sword skills' and eventually went down the wrong path and became obsessed."

Once he figured all this out, he couldn't help but laugh a little. It had been 15 to 16 hours since the dinner at Sword Lake Palace and he was getting very hungry. So he walked over to some bushes that had greenish red wild fruits grown all over them. He picked one off and bit down, it tasted just as sour as can be. But as hungry as he was, he didn't care and ate ten or so in a row. After filling up somewhat, he suddenly felt tired and sore all over his body. So he lied down on the grassy knoll and had a great sleep.

This was one of the best sleeps that he has ever had. By the time he woke up, the sun was already slightly to the west. There was a rainbow in the middle of the lake, just as beautiful as can be. Duan Yu knew that rainbows in this place were common because of the waterfall so he thought to himself: "To be able to see such a scene before I die means that my fortune is not bad. And to think that I would die here among the flowers on the lakeside, not bad elegance there either. Such a beautiful lake, too bad the camelias aren't really of great standards."

After sleeping, his spirits had picked up greatly: "Maybe there is an exit in this place hidden behind the trees and the bushes. I was too much in a hurry last night and might have missed it." So he once again walked alongside the lake in search of an exit, all the while humming favorite tunes of his. He carefully searched everywhere with the greatest care but behind all the bushes and trees were still just faces of the cliff, going straight up into the clouds. He didn't even find a snake hole, not to mention a real exit.

The tunes that he was humming got quieter and quieter while his heart became heavier and heavier. When he got back to where he fell asleep his legs felt weak and he had to sit down. He thought: "Miss Zhong tried to save me, but ended up giving her life away as well."

Now that he was thinking about Zhong Ling, he took out her shoes from his shirt and looked them over. Remembering back to her small and smooth feet as well as her beautiful face, he had to bring the shoes up to his lips and kiss them several times. Putting the shoes back into his shirt, he thought to himself: "Seems like I don't have a chance, and that means neither does Miss Zhong. If she was here and the two of us could spend what's left of our lives together here on the shore of this lake, that would be great. Too bad she is with that goat beard SiKong Xuan, no fun there. I wonder if she's thinking about me right now as well?"

Nothing to do, so he went over to the fruit trees to eat more fruits. Suddenly, he realized: "I have searched everywhere but here! The cliff might pull a 'Far as the edge of the world, but close to be in front of my eyes'!" He pulled the fruit tree branches aside, but shook his head in disappointment. Behind the tree was another bare rock covered with vines, no exit whatsoever. But a closer look revealed that this rock was smooth to the point that it looked just like a copper mirror, only it was much smaller than the one by the waterfall. Duan Yu suddenly thought to himself: "Could this be the real 'Limitless Jade Cliff'?" So he pulled some of the vines off the rock. But besides being unusually smooth, there was nothing special about the rock.

Suddenly an idea popped into his head: "Nobody would ever know that I died here. No harm in carving a couple of words on this rock. Um, how about 'Duan Yu of Dali died at this place'. Could be quite fun."

So he pulled all the vines off the rock. Then he took off his robe, dipped it in the water in the lake, and wetted the rock. Then he used some grass to brush the rock a bit. By now the rock really did look like a piece of jade.

He found a rather sharp rock on the ground and started to carve on the rock. But this rock turned out to be unusually hard. After much work, he barely carved out "Duan", but the word was carved shallow and tilted, without the slightest trace of writing technique and skill. Duan Yu threw down the sharp rock and thought to himself: "If someone sees this later, they would think that this 'Duan Yu' doesn't even know how to write his own name. If I carve these eight words, what kind of stinking legacy is that to leave behind?" Besides, he wrist was very sore.

After it got dark again, he ate some more of the sour fruits and fell asleep. He dreamt that a pair of flowery shoes was flying around in front of his eyes. The shoes were green with yellow flowers, Zhong Ling's pair. He immediately tried to grab them, but the shoes kept on flying around like a pair of butterflies, he could never seem to catch them. After a while, the shoes flew higher and higher. Duan Yu anxiously shouted: "Shoes! Please don't fly off!" This shock woke him up. Finding out that it was all a dream, he rubbed his eyes, felt his shirt to make sure that the pair of shoes were still where they should be, and stood up. He looked up at the full moon, the silvery light shone down onto the lake making it look like a layer of silver. His eyes followed along the surface of the lake. 

Suddenly his whole body shook, for on the jade cliff opposite of him was an image of a person!

Needless to say, he was surprised beyond belief. Immediately he took a deep breath and shouted: "Angel! Save me! Angel, save me!" The image shook a bit, but did not reply. Duan Yu had by now calmed down a little and looked at the image more carefully. The image was very faint and hard to see clearly, but the person was wearing a robe and a scarf, obviously a man. He ran forward several steps to the lake's shore and shouted: "Angel! Save me!" The image shook somewhat and got bigger. When Duan Yu stopped, the image stopped moving as well.

After the initial puzzlement, he immediately understood: "It's my own reflection." He jumped to the left, the image on the cliff jumped to the left as well. He took a step right and so did the image. By now there was no doubt in his mind that it is his own image, but he was still puzzled: "The moon is in the southwest, how does it manage to shine my image on to the cliff?"

He turned around, only to see that on the rock on which he had carved "Duan" earlier in the day there was also an image of him. Only this image was a lot smaller, but much more pronounced. He immediately understood the whole situation: "So the moon shines my reflection onto this little rock, which in turn reflects my image onto the big cliff. It is as if I was standing between two mirrors; the big mirror would reflect my image in the small mirror as well."

Now that he had thought about this, he couldn't help but think there is nothing special about this "Mystery of the Angel Images" that had puzzled "Limitless Sword" for decades: "There really were someone standing here practicing swords and their image got reflected onto the cliff. There used to be a man and a woman, but later on something happened to the guy, either he left or died, and only the woman was left here. She lived here all alone and after about two years she died of loneliness." Thinking about a beautiful woman losing her love, living in this canyon all alone, and finally dying in sadness, he couldn't help but be a little depressed.

Figuring all of this out, his earlier excitement had now subsided. With nothing else to do, he started to wave his arm and legs wildly, pretending to be practicing kungfu: "Hopefully Zuo ZiMu and ShuangQing just so happen to be at the top of the cliff. When they see that 'Angel' suddenly appear on the cliff again, they would think that the angel is trying to teach them kungfu. Then they will try hard to learn this 'kungfu' that I'm showing them so they can pass it on to posterity. Hahaha!" The more he thought about it the funnier he felt, so he started laughing heartily.

Suddenly a thought popped in his head and he stopped laughing: "These two people only practice swords in this canyon once in a while. If they don't live here, then there must be a path in and out of here. Otherwise no matter how good their kungfu is, it is still way too much trouble to climb the cliff twice everytime they want to practice swords. Maybe once in a long while, certainly not 'often'." A ray of hope appeared to him: "I'll go and carefully look for a way out. Didn't Gan GuangHao say: 'Good things come to those with aspirations'? Hehe, he aspires to marry his Sister Ge, then I will aspire to get out of here."

So he sat down with his arms around his knees. Looking at the moon reflected in the lake, surrounded by all this quiet serenity, he started thinking: "'Good things come to those with aspirations'. That saying is true. But Confucious also said: 'Those who like are better off than those who know, those who are happy are better off than those who like.' That saying fits my style much better. Mom and dad sometimes call me 'obsessive' because I always got obsessed about stuff when I was little. Like when I was 7, I stared at that '18 Scholar' Camelia plant from dawn to dusk, even sneaking up in the middle of the night to stare at it. All I did was think about it, even while eating and learning. When the flower wilted, I cried for several days straight. Later, when I started to learn Go, it was the same, constantly forgetting about eating and sleeping. All day everyday, all I did was think about how to play the game. The time dad told me to learn kungfu, it just so happened I was interested in the 'Book of Changes'. Even when eating, I would wonder whether the chopsticks I'm using are 'Big Haves' or 'Colleague'. I don't want to learn kungfu, was it really because I don't want to learn how to beat and kill people? Or could it possibly because I didn't want to put down 'Book of Changes'? Dad said I was 'unreasonable', maybe I really was being very unreasonable. Mom knows best how I am, so she said to dad: 'One day when this kid gets interested in kungfu, you can't even force him to stop for a minute to eat. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. If he doesn't want to learn there is nothing you can do to make him.' Ah! It is almost impossible to make me aspire to do something. Hopefully one day I'll become obsessed with kungfu, that would make my mom, dad, and uncle all very happy. I just won't beat or kill anyone once I learn it, that's all. It's not like you have to kill to learn kungfu. My uncle's kungfu is so powerful, but he is so benevolent and merciful that I don't think he killed a single person in his life. Even if he wants to kill someone, it's not like he has to do it himself."

Sitting there by the lake, deep in thought, he lost all track of time. Suddenly, he noticed faint rainbow colors reflecting off of the smooth rock by his side. Looking at it closer, he saw an image of a sword underneath the "Duan" he carved on the rock. The image of the sword was unusually clear for a reflection, he could clearly make out the handle, hand guard, and sword point. The sword was pointing downwards, the reflection also emitted a rainbowlike aura, moving and flashing around.

He wondered: "Why is there extra colors in the reflection?" He looked up to look for the moon but couldn't see it. Turns out that the moon had dipped below the clff on the westside. That cliff face had a hole in it, the moonlight was shining through the hole. Inside the cave itself there were some colorful lights emitting out. Suddenly, he understood: "I get it! There's a sword hanging inside of the cave, on the sword there are many precious stones and gems. The moonlight shines on the sword and the gems making the jade reflect their image. No wonder it is so amazingly spectacular and colorful."

He thought some more: "One has to hollow out the sword body to inlay it with gems, only then can the moonlight shine through the gems and create such an image. If the sword is not hollowed out, then the moonlight can't shine through the gems. Obviously, creating this sword took alot of work." The hole that the sword in it is about twenty meters above the ground, no way for him to go and get a closer look. Looking at it from the bottom, only the various colored lights from the gems can be seen. But the reflection on the stone looked like a scene from a beautiful dream, as if something stolen from the gods.

Soon, the moon moved. The colors got lighter and lighter until they disappeared completely and the rock turned back to a gray color. Duan Yu thought: "That sword was probably placed there by that pair or masters. Such a steep and deep cliff, nobody in Limitless Sword would even dare to climb down to inspect the place. But if you stand on the top of the cliff, there is no way that you can see this hole and the sword. Even if Limitless Sword stood up there and stared at the cliff for another hundred years, they probably still won't know about this. Yet, even if you can get the sword, what's the big deal about that?" After thinking about it a bit more, he fell asleep.

In the middle of a dream, he suddenly jumped up: "To place a sword at that place, how much effort and work would it take? Even if you are a kungfu master, it would still be alot of trouble. To go through so much work, there must be something behind it. Maybe there are some secrets in that hole on the cliff, maybe some secret kungfu manual is hidden there." Once his thoughts went on to kungfu, some excitement went out of his sails: "Those kind of kungfu manuals, Limitless Sword treats them like treasures, but if you put them in front of me, I wouldn't even open them up to read."

The next day, he slowly walked around the lake and enjoyed the view. This was his third day inside this canyon. He figured in four more days the "Intestine Fragmenter" would take effect, by then there really was no point in looking for a way out anymore.

He woke up at midnight that night and waited for the moon to dip west. After three or four hours, the moonlight started coming through the hole in the cliff, once again displaying all the beautiful colors upon the little smooth rock. The image of the sword on the rock was tilted toward the north, pointing at another big rock. Duan Yu's mind lit up: "Maybe there's something about this rock." He walked over to the rock and pushed. The moss on the rock felt wet and soft, yet that rock seemed to have moved a little when he pushed. He pushed even harder, now it was obvious that the rock is rocking. This rock was chest high and weighed at least a ton if not two. Logically he could never be able to move it. He felt around the bottom of the rock. Turns out this giant rock was sitting on top of a small piece of rock, but unsure whether this situation was man-made or natural. His heart skipped a beat: "Something fishy is going on here!"

He placed his hands on the right side of the rock and pushed. The rock swayed out of place but then returned to its original position. There were some sounds of vines snapping coming out from underneath the rock, as if the two rocks were tied together by some vines. By now there was not enough moonlight to see clearly, so he thought: "Wait until day comes, then I'll come and figure it all out."

So he laid down beside the rock and took a little nap and when he woke up, the sun had come out. He stood up and inspected around the rock. Then he laid down and got rid of all the vines and tiny stones between the two rocks. Once again he pushed, this time the big rock slowly rotated like a door. After a quarter turn, a meter high cave appeared behind it.

In his excitement, he did not even check whether or not there were dangers inside the cave before lowering his head and entering. After more than ten steps, there was no longer any light in the cave. He held both of his hands out and felt around before every step. But the ground felt flat and smooth, as if he was walking on a stone path. It was as if the path was designed and made by humans, he could not help but get even more excited about this. Only thing was that the path continued to head downwards, obviously he was going lower and lower. Suddenly, his hands came in contact with some cold, ring-like object. As soon as he touched it, the object let out a loud and clear "Dang!" He touched it once more, turned out the object was a door ring.

Where there's a door ring, there must be a door. His hands felt around, finding several door nails. In surprise and excitement he thought: "If there is someone living behind this door, wouldn't that be weird?" He found the door ring again and knocked three times. After waiting for a while, nobody came. He knocked the door ring three times more, still nobody. So he pushed the door. The door seemed to be made of iron and copper, heavy as can be, but it wasn't locked. So when he pushed, it slowly opened. He spoke up: "I am Duan Yu, please forgive me for showing up and barging in uninvited." No sound came from inside, so he stepped in.

No matter how hard he stared, he still could not see anything. The smell of mildew surrounded him, seemed like nobody had been living here for a very long time. He continued to walk forward. "Bang"! His head suddenly bumped into something. Luckily he was walking very slowly, so it didn't hurt much. He felt around with his hand, turns out it was another door. He slowly pushed this door open and some light hit his eyes.

He shut his eyes as his heart raced like crazy. Only after a bit did he slowly open his eyes and see a round shaped room. The light was coming from the left, but it was too dim and hazy to be sunlight.

He walked toward the window that was the source of light. Suddenly a shrimp swam by outside of the window. Surprised and curious, he took several more steps towards it and saw a colorful carp casually swim by the window as well. He looked at the window closely and saw it actually is a huge piece of crystal that was imbedded into the wall. The crystal is about size of a tray and the light was coming through it.

He put his head up against the crystal and looked out. Fishes and shrimps swam about without any bounds being seen. He suddenly figured out where he was, actually below the lake now. It must have taken a lot of effort and work to build this room so that the light from outside would come in, not to mention this tray-size crystal. After calming down some, he immediately started to worry: "Crap! I'm below the bottom of the lake now! I couldn't see a thing the entire way down, don't know how many twists and turns I took to end up here. How am I suppose to get out now?"

Turning around, he noticed that there was a stone table in the middle of the room with a stool by it. On top of the table was a copper mirror, beside the mirror were some combs and earrings type of things. It looked as if this was a beautiful woman's living place. The mirror was green with rust and the table was covered in inches of dust. He didn't know how long it had been since someone been here.

Seeing this scene, he became lost in his thoughts: "A girl must have lived here many years ago. Don't know what happened to her to make her want to leave the world like this. Hmm, most likely she's the girl whose image was reflected onto the cliff." Snapping out of his trance, he looked around some more. There were mirrors all over the room and embedded into the wall as well. He did a little count, there were more than thirty mirrors in total. He thought some more: "The girl probably was an unrivaled beauty. Her partner died, so she just lived here all by herself. Only thing to do was to sit and look at herself all day everyday. Such a story, how can one not be sad?"

Walking around in the room, once in a while he would click his tongue, then other times he would let out a long sigh, only thinking about the former master of this room. After a long while, he suddenly had a thought: "Ay! I'm so busy thinking about the sadness of the former owner that I forgot about my problems." He started to talk to himself: "I, Duan Yu, am a stinking male. If I die in this place, then I could very well offend the beautiful lady. It is best to die outside by the lake. Else if others come here in the future and find my body here and mistake it for the lady's body, then isn't that... isn't that...." Before he thought about what that really is or isn't, he suddenly noticed that a mirror on the east wall was reflecting the light onto what seemed like a crack on the southwest wall. He immediate ran over and pushed hard on that piece of rock. As expected, it really was a door. As it slowly opened, it revealed an entrance. Looking into the entrance, he saw another flight of stone stairs.

In excitement, he let out a yell and danced around for a while before moving on. After walking another ten or so steps downward, he faintly saw another door in front of him. He pushed the door open. Light hit his eyes as he let out a scream: "Ai-Yo!"

In front of him was a beautiful girl dressed in formal clothing holding a sword in her hand. The point of the sword pointed right at his chest.

After a long time, the girl did not move at all. He looked at the girl closely, noticing that even though her expression looked real, she did not seem to be alive. Summoning his courage he looked her over closely again. Only now did he see that she was a statue made from white jade. This statue was the same size as an actual human. The light yellow colored silk shirt she had on were lightly moving in the wind. The most interesting feature were her pupils, they were alive with spirit and expression. All Duan Yu could say was: "So sorry, so sorry. It is so rude to stare at miss like I am." He knew it was rude, but he still could not take his eyes off of her eyes. After staring for who knows how long, he finally figured out that the eyes were made from some kind of black gem. But the more he stared the deeper her pupils seemed to become. The fact that the statue looked so very human-like was mainly because of the spirit and delicacy of its eyes.

The white jade on the statue's face has a faint sign of redness, making it even more human like. Duan Yu stepped aside to look at the statue, but noticed that her eyes followed him as if she was alive. In shock, he leaned his head to the right, the eyes of the statue still followed him. No matter where he stands, the statue's eyes are always looking at him. The expression in her eyes was even harder to figure out, seemingly love and happiness but not really, seemingly sincerely in love, yet also seemed silently depressed.

He was spellbound for a long time. With a deep bow, he said: "Dear Goddess, Duan Yu was fortunate enough to see your beauty today, I can die without no regrets now. Goddess, you have separated yourself from the world to live here by yourself, hope it wasn't too lonely." The colors from the statue's eyes changed, as if she heard what he said and was truly touched.

By now Duan Yu was completely spellbound. It's almost as if he were possessed, as if he couldn't ever take his eyes off the statue again. He muttered: "Don't know how I should address Dear Goddess." He thought: "I should look around to see if she left her name around here."

Looking around, he saw a lot of writings on the wall to the east but he didn't really pay attention to them and immediately went back to staring at the statue. This time he noticed that the hair on the statue was actually real human hair, curled up in a bun. The hair around her temples was like a fog. By her temple was a jade hairpin. On the hairpin was two pinky sized crystals, shiny and colorful. The walls of the room were full of gems and crystals as well. On the wall on the west side, six large crystals were embedded into the walls. Beyond the crystals was the faint glow of water, making this room several times brighter than the previous room.

He stared blankly at the statue for a long time again before turning away. He noticed that the east wall had been smoothed out and several lines of words has been carved onto it. The lines were all taken from ZhuangZi (Toaist philosopher, contemporary of Mencius, a favorite of Oscar Wilde), mostly from the books of "Carefree Travels", "Principles of Nuturing", "Autumn Waters", and "Epitome of Happiness". The calligraphy was elegant and refined. The words seemed to be carved with a really sharp tool for every stroke was about half-an-inch deep. At the end was another line: "Dedicated to Dear QiuShui (Autumn Waters) from Carefree Man. No sun and moon in this cave, truly the Epitome of Happiness in the mortal world."

Duan Yu stared at these words for a while, thinking: "This 'Carefree Man' and 'Dear QiuShui' are probably the two masters that were practicing swords decades ago. And this statue is probably that 'Dear QiuShui' as well. Carefree Man was able to live with her here in this serene cave, that really is the epitome of happiness in the mortal world. Actually, who says it's merely the epitome of happiness in the mortal world, does heaven have such joys?"

His eyes moved onto the other lines on the wall: "Small and insignificant mountain, immortals dwell within, skin like ice and snow, graceful virgin, no need for foods, and shows joy in breeze." He turned to the statue and thought: "Using these words by ZhuangZi to describe Dear Goddess could not be anymore appropriate." He walked in front of the statue and stared. Seeing her ice-like skin, he did not dare to even lift a finger and touch her. It was as if his heart was possessed. He even faintly smelled some musk like incense fragrance. From love was born respect, from respect came obsession. {ZhuangZi needs to learn to write coherently, that's what I say. Hopefully my translation was not just out there.}

After who knows how long, he suddenly blurted out: "Dear Goddess, if you are willing to say even one word to me. Then I would happily and without regret die 1000, no, 10000 times." Suddenly he kneeled.

When he kneeled, he noticed that there were two mats in front of the statue, seemingly placed for people to kowtow to the statue. His knees were resting on the bigger mat while there is a much smaller one just in front of the statue, seeming made for people to kowtow. So he did. Suddenly he noticed that there seemed to be words sewn onto the inside portion of the statue's shoes. He looked harder and recognized that on the right shoe was sewn: "Kowtow one thousand times, then obey my orders", and the left shoe read: "Whoso follows my instructions, will never have regrets".

These sixteen words were literally smaller than the head of a fly. The shoes were green like the lake, and the sixteen words were sewn using a thin green line, only slightly darker than the shoes. Add in the hazy and confusing lighting of the room, there was no way these words could be seen without first kowtowing followed by a careful look. Duan Yu felt that kowtowing 1000 times was actually very natural of a thing, adding on top that he would be getting a chance to obey the statue, he really couldn't ask for anything more. As for following her instructions, he wouldn't mind jumping in boiling oil or burning seas, of course he would not regret it. So without a bit of hesitation, with his mind not all there, he started to really honestly kowtowing to the statue. All the while he counted out loud: "5, 10, 15, 20...."

When he got to 500, his waist was sore, his bones hurt, and his forehead felt numb. But he told himself that he would not stop until he gets to 1000, no matter what. Can't even accomplish the first instructions he got from Dear Goddess, then how does he get off saying "will never have regret"? By the time he got to 800, the smaller mat had been worn through, exposing something underneath. He didn't bother and still went on kowtowing one after another. When he finished, he stood up. Suddenly he felt his waist give out and fell flat on his back.

He just lied there, resting. Even though he was worn out and sore all over, he still felt great in his heart for he had done something that the statue asked of him. Only after a long while did he finally, and slowly, get up. He touched where the smaller mat was worn through. It felt smooth and soft to the touch, turned out there was a silk bundle underneath. He thought: "So Dear Goddess had this planned out a long time ago. If I didn't kowtow 1000 times, the mat wouldn't have been worn through, and the treasure that she has rewarded to me wouldn't have appeared." He never cared for jade, crystals, or pearls, but since this silk bundle was given to him by Dear Goddess, he would treasure it like no other even if it was only a pile of dried up leaves. He grabbed it with his right hand, but immediately put his left hand on it as well, and held it up to his chest.

The silk bundle was about a foot long and on it were written these words: "You have already kowtowed 1000 times, meaning that you have admitted as my subject and will listen to my command without regrets. This volume is the essence of our Carefree Sect's kungfu (Xiao Yao Pai). From this day forth, you shall, from 5am to 7am, 11pm to 1am, and 5pm to 7pm, follow and practice the instructions within. Then you can rightfully read the collection and all the kungfu of every sect in the world will be yours to use. Learn what you can and want, afterwards leave, and kill all of the disciples and descendants of the Carefree Sect. If one fall through the holes, even the heavens will curse you." 

His hands that were holding up the bundle could not stop shaking violently as the thought ran across his mind: "What does she mean? I don't want to learn kungfu, as for killing all of the disciples of Carefree Sect, I have even less urge to do that. But how can I not obey Dear Goddess's instructions? I have already kowtowed to her 1000 times, which means I am now a willing subject of hers. But she wants me to learn kungfu and kill, what should I do?" 

His mind was a mess as he thought to himself: "She tells me to learn the kungfu of the Carefree Sect and kill all the disciples of the Carefree Sect, how strange. Hm, probably her martial brothers and sisters did something horrible to her, so she wants revenge. Yet she was not able to before her death, so she wants to have a disciple to finish this wish of hers. Those people did bad things to Dear Goddess, then without a doubt they are the most evil and sinister people in the world. When Confucius said: 'Revenge with righteousness', he was talking about this kind of stuff. Dad also said that even if I don't want to kill bad people, when they meet me they would want to kill me, so if I don't know any kungfu, then all I can do is wait to be killed. There is a lot of sense in what he said." When his father was forcing him to learn kungfu, he whipped out all kinds of philosophies and arguments of Confucius and Buddhism to say that it's not right to learn kungfu. His father's knowledge in this subject was not on par with him, so he could not argue with him. Yet at this moment, he is obsessed with the statue, so he naturally feels that there is some sense in what his father said.

He thought some more: "Dear Goddess has been gone for several decades now, I don't know if there still is a Carefree Sect in this world. As the saying goes: 'Evil only begets evil'. Maybe every single one of them has already got what's coming to them and there is no need for me to kill them anymore. If there are no more disciples of Carefree Sect, then Dear Goddess's wish has come to fruition and she need not be full of hate up in heaven where she resides."

Once he thought of this, his heart relaxed and he stopped worrying. He silently prayed: "Dear Goddess, whatever instructions you leave behind, Duan Yu will obey without a question. But hopefully your powers knows no bounds and the disciples of Carefree Sect have already met their ends." Nervously, he opened up the bundle. Inside was one single roll of silk scroll.

He unrolled the scroll. The first line read: "Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness" (Bei Ming Shen Gong). The handwriting was beautiful and elegant yet powerful, same as the words written on the outside of the silk bundle. After it was written:

"ZhuangZi's 'Carefree Travels' read: 'Beyond the northern boundaries is the sea of darkness, a sea of heaven. There are fishes within thousands of kilometers long, but no one known really how long.' It also read: 'If the accumulated water is not enough, then it is no matter that the boat's big. If the water from the overturned cup is more than that can be held by the depression, then even cabbage leaves can be a boat; set the cup inside and become as one, then if the water is little then the boat is big.' In our sect's kungfu, accumulating inner force is most important. Once inner force is strong, then all of the kungfu of all the sects are ours to use. Just like the northern darkness, able to hold all boats no matter the size, able to contain all fishes big or small. For this reason, inner force is most basic and first, while moves are last. Using the diagrams below and diligently learn inner force training and meditation."

{Note: The phrase that said "fishes within" in Chinese is "YuYan", Wang YuYan's name is a play off of this line. ZhuangZi's phrases need to make some sense, I tried to go for the literal meaning because they are supposed to be very meaningful quotes with many levels. It would be better if he had not used rare words and weird ways to say the simplest of concepts.}

Duan Yu praised: "Dear Goddess could not have made it any clearer with this passage!" He thought some more: "Since this 'Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness' is inner force kungfu, learning it should be no harm to anyone." So he unrolled some more of the scroll with his left hand. "Ah!" He suddenly screamed as his hearted raced a mile a minute. In an instant he blushed to the roots of his ears and his whole body felt like it was burning up.

For on the scroll there was a drawing of a naked female, not a single strand of clothing on her body, face exactly like that of the statue's. Duan Yu felt as if one glance would be disrespect and obscene towards Dear Goddess, so he immediately rolled up the scroll. Only after a long while did he think: "Dear Goddess instructed: 'Using the diagrams below and diligently learn.' I'm only following her instructions, can't be counted as disrespect."

His hands still shaking, he unrolled the scroll again. The face of the female was smiling beautifully and sweetly. The ends of her eyebrows, the corner of her eyes, and her rosy cheeks all exuded a seductive charm. When compared to that serious expression of the jade statue, although their looks were the same, the feeling they gave off was completely different. He could almost hear his heart beating heavily as his eyes moved onto the woman's body and saw a thin green line. The line started on her left shoulders, moved horizontally until below her chin, then slanted downwards to her right breast. When he saw a slight sign of the mound of her breast, his heart skipped at least five beats and he immediately shut his eyes. After a long wait, he slowly opened his eyes and looked down again. The green line passed underneath the armpits, followed her right arm, passing her wrist and finally came to a stop on her right thumb. The more he followed the line the more relaxed he became, figuring looking at Dear Goddess's arm and fingers was nothing bad. But even when just looking at her beautiful and shapely arm and legs, his heart could not help but start picking up again.

There was another green line that started at the base of the neck and went downwards, past the chest and stomach all the way until a few inches above the navel. Duan Yu dared not to look at that line very closely and turned his attention back to the green line on the arm. This time he noticed a lot of small words by the line, starting from "Cloudy Gate" all the way to "Less Merchant". He often listened in on his parents talking about kungfu, although he never really paid much attention to it, he had heard them talk about it too often. So he recognized these small words as names of pressure points on the body.

He unrolled the scroll a bit further and read: "Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness is about using other's inner strength as my own. The sea of the Northern Darkness did not create itself. It said: 'All the rivers empty into the ocean, the ocean is vast because it can contain the rivers.' The vast open seas were accumulated. So 'Scripture of the Lunar Hand and Lungs' is the first lesson of the Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness" followed by detailed instructions as to how to practice this kungfu.

It concludes the section with: "When others practice inner strength, the path that they take is from Cloudy Gate to Less Merchant. But our Carefree Sect's kungfu is from Less Merchant to Cloudy Gate, if the thumb comes in contact with others, then their inner force will gush into my body and be stored at Cloudy Gate as well as other pressure points. But if the opponent's inner force is stronger than mine, then the water of the sea will empty into the rivers and will lead to life threatening dangers, you have been forewarned. The other skills of our sect have not been developed fully and are only able to weaken the opponent's inner force but cannot make it available for your own use. It is as if stealing a fortune yet misplacing it, such a waste of something so precious."

Duan Yu let out a long sigh as some part of him felt that there was something not quite right with this skill. Using other's inner strength for your own use, isn't that just like stealing something precious from others? But then he also thought: "Dear Goddess could not have picked a better metaphor. Rivers empty into the sea because it is the rivers themselves doing the emptying, not because the sea is stealing the river's waters. My thinking about Dear Goddess stealing from others, how disrespectful is that? Punishment is called for. Definitely called for!"

So he lifted his hand up and slapped himself once on both cheeks. The first slap on his left cheek was rather hard and very painful, so naturally he took off a lot of force on the second slap on his right cheek. He thought to himself: "Bad, evil people came to make trouble to Dear Goddess, so Dear Goddess took their inner strength for herself. That's only taking away bad, evil people's ability to do bad, evil things. Like grabbing the butcher knife away from the butcher, not killing him. How could a person such as Dear Goddess ever do a single bad thing?"

So he unrolled some more of the scroll. There were many many more drawings of naked females on the scroll, some standing and some sitting, some showing her frontside while others show her back. Although the face remained the same, her expressions changed as well, sometimes happy and sometimes worried, sometimes full of loving tenderness while other times filled with jealous disdain; not a single expression was the same as another one. There were a total of 36 drawings in total, every one of them had several colorful lines with pressure points clearly labeled and training instructions.

At the very end of the scroll were the words: "Minute Ice Ripple Step" (Lin Buo Wei Bu), following it were countless numbers of foot prints, each labeled with position names from the Book of Changes. Only a few days ago, Duan Yu was still diligently reading and studying the Book of Changes for all his worth. So upon seeing these names, his spirit and interest immediately picked up, as if he was meeting an old friend. The footprints on the scroll were densely packed and numerous, not quite sure if there are thousands of them or just hundreds. There were green lines connecting every step with another, and on the lines were arrows as well. Obviously a very complicated foot skill. At the end were written: "If suddenly meeting a strong foe, this can be used for protection as well as accumulating inner strength. Then take the foe's life."

Duan Yu thought: "Dear Goddess left this step skill, so it will no doubt be perfect and refined. If I can use it to run away when I run into a strong foe, that would be great. Then there would be no need to 'take the foe's life'."

He rolled up the scroll, clasped his hands and bowed towards it. Only then did he carefully put it in his shirt. Turning to the statue, he said: "Dear Goddess, you have instructed me to train three times a day, Duan Yu dare not disobey. From this day forth I'll be sure to be extra polite and courteous to everyone I meet, then others won't come at me. Of course, then I wouldn't need to steal their inner strength. As for this 'Minute Ice Ripple Step', I will definitely work extra hard on it. If things do not seem right, I'm out of there, then there would be no need to steal inner strength." As for that section about "kill all disciples of the Carefree Sect", he dared not to even think about that.

Seeing that there was a door on the left, he slowly walked through it. Inside was another stone room with a stone bed. By the bed was a small wooden cradle. He stared blankly at the cradle: "Could it be possible that Dear Goddess had a baby? No way, no way! Such a beautiful girl, how could she have a baby?" Just the very thought that this "graceful as a virgin" Dear Goddess of his actually might have a baby put him on the verge of tears because of the disappointment. But his thoughts immediately turned: "Ah! That's right! This is the cradle that Dear Goddess used when she was a baby, her mom and dad made it for her. That Carefree Man and Dear QiuShui were probably her parents. Yes, that must be it." Not willing to think about this anymore and find holes in his assumption, he immediately cheered up.

There were no quilts, pillows, or clothing in the room. There was only a seven stringed zither hanging on a wall in this room. The strings ware all broken. Left of the bed was a stone table, on which were carved a 19 x 19 squares of the Go board. On the board there are about 200 or so stones. Both sides were well placed for the match, obviously this game had not ended. The zither is here, the game is not over, yet the beauty is gone. Duan Yu silently stood there in the room. Before he knew it, two streaks of tears ran down his cheeks.

Suddenly his heart turned cold: "Ai-Yo! If there is a match, then there must have been two people playing. Then Dear Goddess would most likely be that "Dear QiuShui" and she would be playing against her husband Carefree Man here. Ay! This is... This is.... Ah! I got it, this game was not played by two people. Dear Goddess was here all by herself and played against herself out of boredom and loneliness. Dear Goddess, why didn't you call out several times then? Duan Yu would have heard your voice and naturally jumped down here to play the game with you." He walked closer and looked the game over carefully. The more he looked the more surprised he became.

The changes and turns in this game were incredible and complex, almost as if it is what a Go player would call a puzzle, traps within traps, and can lead to many different outcomes. Duan Yu had been working hard on the game of Go for years. Back when he was obsessed, he spent entire days playing against a Mr. Huo from accounting. He was born smart and in merely a year's time, he had turned a four stone handicap on himself to a three stone handicap on Mr. Huo. His skills were among the best in all of Dali. Yet he cannot figure out how this match would turn out, it seemed like the black side has the game in hand, but there was still some chance for the whites to come back. He stared for a long time as the board got blurrier and blurrier. Seeing there was two candle-holders on the table, each with half a candle remaining in it, he grabbed the fire knife and fire stone off the tray on the candle shelf and lit the candles so he could look at the match some more. He looked and thought about the match so much that he began to feel dizzy and nauseous.

He stood up and yawned. Astounded, he thought: "This match is really something. Even if I take seven or eight more days I 

still may not be able to figure it out. By then my life would be gone and Miss Zhong would have long been buried alive by the Divine Farmer Clan." Knowing that if he looked at the table again, who knows how long it would be before he could move on again. So he turned around and reached behind him to take a hold of a candle-holder so as to make sure that he does not lay another glance on the board. Suddenly excitement shot through his heart: "That's right! Such a complicated game, must be a puzzle laid down by Dear Goddess herself and cannot be done by two people playing. Wonderful!"

He lifted his head up and saw that there was another cave entrance at the end of the stone bed. By the entrance were written: "Blessed Reading Ground". Remembering what Dear Goddess wrote on the outside of the silk bundle, he thought: "So the 'Blessed Reading Ground' is here. Dear Goddess told me that the collection of every kungfu of every sect would belong to me. I don't want to learn kungfu, so it's no big deal if I don't look through this collection but it's an order from Dear Goddess, I can't disobey." So he walked through the door with the candle.

Once he had the chance to look around, he immediately let out a long sigh and felt a lot better. Turns out that this "Blessed Reading Ground" is a huge room, several times bigger than the room outside. Inside the room was filled with rows and rows of book shelves, but there was not a single book on the shelves. He held up the candle and walked closer. Labels dotted the shelves, all of them saying things such as: "Kunlun", "Shaolin", "QingCheng of SiChuan", "Penglai of ShanDong", etc. There is even a "Duan's of Dali" label. But under "Shaolin" there was a note: "Missing Sutra of Changing Nerves", under " Beggars Clan " was a note: "Missing 18 Dragon Subduing Palms", and the "Duan's of Dali" was noted with: "Regrettably Missing ‘Yiyang Finger’ [Solitary Solar Finger], Six Meridian Divine Sword".

A long time ago these shelves were undoubtedly filled with diagrams and instructions on all of the kungfus of every sect but someone has moved the books away a long time ago. A burden that Duan Yu has been carrying in his heart lifted as he could not be any happier: "Now that the books aren't here anymore, I can't learn any of them. This doesn't count as disobeying Dear Goddess." But then he felt ashamed: "Duan Yu my good man, you are happy because you can't follow the instructions left by Dear Goddess, that is not being loyal to her. Not seeing the kungfu books, you should be sad, frustrated, and mad, not happy. Dear Goddess in heaven, please forgive me."

Seeing no other ways out of this "Blessed Reading Ground", he returned back to the room of the jade statue. He just barely looked at the eyes of the jade statue and became spellbound once again. He stared blankly for a long time before finally clasping his hands and bowing deeply, almost to the ground. He said: "Dear Goddess, I have important matters that I must attend to, so I have to temporarily leave. After I have saved Miss Zhong, then I will come back to be with you again."

With great effort and struggle, he walked out of the room with a candle in hand looking for another exit. There was another flight of steps heading upwards on the side that he did not notice before because as soon as he entered the room his attention fell onto the statue. He quickly walked to the end of the steps. There was a door that was barely large enough to fit a head through. He stuck his head out and took a look around. What he saw sent his heart racing out with fear.

What he saw was fearsome rapids as water roared passed him with great speed and noise, for he had came upon a river. The towering and jagged cliff stood by the bank of the river. From the looks of it he had reached the LanCang River. Excited and surprised, he slowly climbed out of the hole. Looking around him, he saw that he is more than thirty meters above the rapids. So no matter how high up the water gets, it would never reach the hole and flood the cave. But to get to the river banks was no easy task either. So he put his hands and legs to full use as he awkwardly and pathetically started climbing up. All the while he was taking care to remember all the details of his surroundings, so as to be able to return here once he finished saving lives. He thought: "Every year from now on, I have got to spend several months in this cave to keep Dear Goddess company."

The banks of the river are covered by rocks, not even a small path could be found. He walked like this for about four kilometers when he came upon a wild peach tree. Peaches were all over this tree; he picked them and had himself a good meal. Once his stomach filled up, his spirit did as well and he walked another five kilometers when he came upon a small trail. Following this trail until it was almost dusk, he finally came upon an iron chained bridge. On a rock by the bridge were carved: "Well-Doer's Crossing".

He could not be happier, for "Well-Doer's Crossing" was one of the places that he had to pass according to Zhong Ling. He had made it onto the right path! So he grabbed the iron chains for support as he stepped onto to a plank of wood. This bridge is comprised of four iron chains, the two at the bottom have planks of wood laid on top to walk on while the two on the side are for support. As soon as he stepped onto the bridge, the chains started to shake. When he got to the middle, the shaking got even worse. Glancing down, the river was rushing by like stampeding horses below his feet. One bad step could lead to falling into the river, then no matter how good of a swimmer you are, you would not survive. He dared not to take another look down. Staring straight ahead, he nervously and shakily began to pray: "Amida Buddha! Amida Buddha!" One step at a time, he finally made it to the other end.

Only after sitting down and resting by the bridge for a while did he continue on as Zhong Ling had directed him. After walking quickly for more than an hour, he came upon a huge and dark forest. He knew he had arrived at the entrance of Valley of Ten Thousand Calamities, Zhong Ling's home. Walking up a little closer, he came upon nine huge pine trees lined up on the left. He counted to the fourth tree from the right. Following Zhong Ling's directions, he went around, behind the pine tree, pulling away the tall grass, and as expected, an hole appeared before him. He thought: "This Valley of Ten Thousand Calamities is really well hidden indeed. Had I not been told by Miss Zhong, who could have figured out that the entrance is actually inside a pine tree?"

He walked into the hole, while keeping the grass out of the way with his left hand, his right hand found a big iron ring. With a mighty pull, he lifted up the block of wood, revealing a series of steps. He walked down several steps, turned around, used both hands to gently let the wooden block fall back into place, and continued on down the steps. After thirty or so steps the path took a turn to the right, and then after several meters it turned upwards. He thought to himself: "Building stone steps in a place like this is not easy at all but when compared with the steps at Dear Goddess's place, these come up way short." After about thirty steps upwards, he reached level ground.

In front of him was a great field of grass, at the other end was another collection of pine trees. He walked over the field of grass and saw that one of the pines had a three meter long, one meter wide section pared off and a layer of white paint was painted on. On it was written: "Those with the Surname of Duan will die without exception". Nine of the words were black, the word "die", however, was blood red.

Duan Yu thought: "Wonder why the master of this valley hate us Duan's so much? Even if a guy with the surname of Duan wronged him, there are thousands of Duan's in the world, is he going to kill them all?" At this time the light is dark, these ten words looked fearsome and threatening, especially that red "die", for it looked as if it was written in blood. He thought some more: "So this is why Miss Zhong told me not to say that my surname is Duan. She told me to bang on the sixth word three times, meaning banging on this 'Duan' word. She didn't say 'Duan' because she was afraid that I would get mad. If I have to bang on it I'll bang on it, what's the big deal? She saved my life, not only is it ok to bang on that 'Duan' word three times, even if I have to bang Duan Yu's head three times I would do it."

Noticing there is nail nailed on the tree with a small iron hammer hanging from it, he grabbed it and banged on that 'Duan' word. "Zheng"! A loud sound of metal meeting metal came when the hammer fell. Taking Duan Yu by surprise, he was momentarily startled before realizing that behind the 'Duan' was a iron board and behind that was hollow. Because the outside was painted white, he didn't notice it. He banged the hammer twice more and hung it back up.

After a while, a young girl's voice came from behind the pine: "Miss, you are back!" Her voice was full of happiness and excitement.

Duan Yu replied: "I'm here because Miss Zhong asked me to come here to meet with the master of this valley." 

The girl let out a surprised "Yi!" Then she asked: "You... You are an outsider? Where's miss?" 

Duan Yu did not see her body, but he answered: "Miss Zhong is in danger, I came here especially to report that." 

That girl asked anxiously: "What kind of danger?" 

Duan Yu answered: "She is captured and it may be life-threatening." 

That girl replied: "Ai-Yo! You... You... You wait here for a little bit, I'm going to report to the Madame." 

Duan Yu replied: "That would be great." 

He thought to himself: "Miss Zhong told me to see her mother first anyway."

After waiting for a while, he heard hurried footsteps come from behind the tree. The girl from before said: "Madame requests your presence." She came out from behind the tree. She was about 16 or 17 and was dressed like a servant. She spoke up again: "Honored guest... sir, please follow me." 

Duan Yu asked: "How do I address you?" The servant girl shook her head, meaning that she can't talk anymore. Seeing fear on her face, Duan Yu dared not say anymore.

The servant girl led him through the woods, followed a small trail toward the left, and arrived in front of a house. She pushed the door open, waved her hands at Duan Yu, and stepped to the side to let him in first. Walking in, Duan Yu noticed that he had entered a small lounge with a huge candle lit on the table in the middle of the room. Even though the room was rather small, it was very elegantly decorated. After he sat down, the servant girl came with a cup: "Sir, please try the tea. Madame will be out very soon."

He took two sips of the tea when he noticed that there were four hanging scrolls on the east wall. On them were drawings of plum, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum (Mei Lan Zhu Ju). But they were hung in the order of: orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and plum. On the west wall was four scrolls of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter; but their order was wrong as well: Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn. He mused: "Miss Zhong's parents are both martial type of people. No surprise there if they don't know much about books, paintings, and things such as those."

Hearing sounds of jewelry clanking, the mistress had walked out from the back. She was wearing a silk shirt that was of a light green color and looked about 36 or 37 years old. Seeing that her face was pretty and delicate with a faint resemblance of Zhong Ling between her eyebrows, Duan Yu knew that this was Madame Zhong. So he stood up, clasped his hands, and bowed: "Humble Duan Yu respectfully salutes to Madame." As soon as he said it he grimaced: "Ai-Yo! Why did you blurt out your real name? I was concentrating entirely on how much she looked like Zhong Ling and completely forgot about making up a fake name."

Madame Zhong was a bit taken aback, but she bowed in return nevertheless: "Many fortunes to you!" 

She followed with: "You... your surname is Duan?" 

There was surprise in her expression. Duan Yu figured that since he had already blurted out his own name, it is too late to lie about that, so he replied: "Yes, my humble surname is Duan." Madame Zhong continued with her questions: "Don't know where your hometown is or what your father is known as?"

Duan Yu thought: "Got to tell two big lies here, or else she might guess who I am." 

So he replied: "I am from the city of Linan in Henan province. My father's given name is 'Long'." 

There were some traces of suspicion on Madame Zhong's face: "But you are speaking in the Dali dialect." 

Duan Yu replied: "I moved to Dali three years ago and learned the local dialect. I'm afraid it is not very good, please excuse my bad accent."

Madame Zhong took a deep breath and replied: "Very convincing dialect, not the least bit different from the locals. Please sit down."

The two of them sat down. Miss Zhong kept on looking up and down nonstop, sizing him up. All this attention made Duan Yu very uncomfortable, so he spoke up: "I ran into some troubles on the way here, causing my clothing to get torn. Your daughter is in danger, that is why I came here. Only that the news was very urgent, so I had no chance to switch into something more clean and appropriate, please forgive my rudeness."

Madame Zhong seemed to have suddenly been snapped out of a trance by his words. She anxiously asked: "What's happened to my daughter?"

Duan Yu took out the pair of shoes from his shirt and said: "Miss Zhong told me to come here with these as proof and see you." 

Madame Zhong took the shoes over into her hand and replied: "Thank you so much, I don't know what kind of trouble my daughter has run into?" So Duan Yu told her everything that had happened from Sword Lake Palace to now, leaving out only the section regarding Dear Goddess.

Madame Zhong was quiet the entire time, but her face got darker and darker. When Duan Yu finished, she sighed and said: "As soon as she leaves the house she runs into trouble." 

Duan Yu replied: "All of this started because of me, Miss Zhong has no fault in this matter."

Madame Zhong looked at him and then quietly said: "Yes, that's right. Not really that surprising really, back then... back then I was the same...." 

Duan Yu asked: "What?" 

Surprised, Madame Zhong's cheeks suddenly turned red. Even though she's almost at middle age, when she gets bashful and shy she looks just like a young girl. She bashfully replied: "I... I just remembered something else." After saying that, her face turned even redder, so she immediately tried to change the subject: "I... I think this matter... is a bit... a bit troublesome."

Seeing how bashful she is, Duan Yu thought: "Of course this matter is rather troublesome, but you don't need to blush like this. Compared to you, your daughter is much more natural about these things."

Suddenly, a burly male voice came from outside the door: "Everything was going well, how did JinXi-Er get killed?"

This startled Madame Zhong, she turned and whispered: "My husband is here, he... he is always suspicious. Mr. Duan, could you go hide for a bit." 

Duan Yu replied: "I still should really meet his acquaintance, wouldn't it be better..." 

Madame Zhong covered his mouth with her left hand and grabbed his arm with her right. She pulled him to the east winged room and whispered: "Stay here, don't make a sound no matter what. My husband's temper is short and violent. Just a little bit of misunderstanding could cost you your life, then even I can't help you."

Even though she looked weak and bashful, her kungfu was first rate. This little push-pull left Duan Yu no chance to refuse as he obediently followed her into the room. But he was secretly angry with her: "I came this far to tell you about your daughter, for better or worse I'm still a guest. Making me hide and sneak around like this, isn't that making me out to be a thief?" Madame Zhong smiled at him tenderly. As soon as Duan Yu saw the smile, all his rage disappeared as he nodded in agreement. Madame Zhong turned around, walked out, and shut the door on her way out.

Soon he heard two people walk in followed by a man calling out: "Wife!" 

Duan Yu peeked out from the crack between the door and the wall. He saw a man of around 30 dressed in servant’s clothing, face full of panic and terror; there was another tall and thin man, he was wearing black and facing outwards so Duan Yu cannot make out his face. But he could see his fan-sized hands at his side, the back of the hand was covered with veins. Duan Yu thought: "Wah! Miss Zhong's dad has got some big hands!"

Madame Zhong asked: "JinXi-Er died? How?" 

The servant replied: "Master sent me and JinXi-Er to the north manor to welcome the guests. Master told us there would be four of them. At noon today one of them arrived, said his surname was Yue. Master instructed to call the one whose name is Yue as 'Third Sir'. But the man immediately went into a rage and shouted: 'I'm Yue Number Two, why are you calling me 'Third'? Trying to degrade me?" face so hard he fell over bleeding." Madame Zhong frowned: "Such flagrant violence! Since when did good ol' third Yue turn to second?"

Master Zhong replied: "Yue Number Three always had a weird and short temper, not to mention his deranged personality." As he replied, he turned around.

Peeking through the crack, Duan Yu was in for a shock. For his face was stretched out long like a horse. His eyes were unusually high with his huge, round nose and mouth squeezed closed to one another. So between his eyes and nose, there was a huge area of nothing. With Zhong Ling being as pretty and enchanting as she was, who could have guessed that her father would be this ugly? Duan Yu mused: "Thank goodness she resembles her mother and not in the least bit like her father."

Master Zhong's face was full of worry and concern, but as soon as he turned around and faced his wife, his face turned happy and tender, adding a bit of appeal to that horrid face of his. He continued on: "Yue Number Three's temperament is exactly what I thought might offend and frighten you. That's why I didn't let him enter this valley. This is a small matter, no need to fret about it too much."

This is all very strange to Duan Yu: "Just a bit ago, Madame Zhong was very frightened when she heard that her husband was coming. But from how he is treating her, it seemed like he had nothing but love and respect for her."

Madame Zhong replied: "Small matter? JinXi-Er has loyally and whole heartedly served us for all these years and now is killed by that pig of a friend of yours. My heart can't take it as well as yours can." 

Master Zhong smiled at her in an attempt to make her feel better: "Yes, yes. You sympathize with the servants, that's because of your kind heart."

Madame Zhong asked that servant: "LaiFu-Er, what happened after that?"

LaiFu-Er answered: "When JinXi-Er was hit onto the floor, he hadn't died yet. I immediately started to yell: 'Second Sir, Second Sir! Please don't get mad at us ignorant fools.' He laughed and seemed very happy. I helped JinXi-Er up and started setting up the table for that man named Yue. He asked: 'How come Zhong... Zhong... isn't here to see me?' I replied: 'Master hasn't found out about Second Sir's honored arrival, or else he would have came here much earlier to welcome you. I'm going to report this to him right now.' He nodded, then he saw that JinXi-Er was standing there shaking, so he asked: 'I just slapped you, I bet you are cursing me deep down inside aren't you?' JinXi-Er replied: 'No, no! I wouldn't dare, never ever dare!' That man said: 'Deep down inside, you are probably calling me an evil person, so evil that I can't get any more evil, right? Hahaha.' JinXi-Er replied: 'No, no! Second Sir is a great person, not at all evil.' That man's eyebrows turned sideways and he shouted: 'You are saying I'm not evil at all?' JinXi-Er was so scared that his whole body was shaking: 'You... Second Sir... are not evil at all, not... not a trace of evilness.' That guys screamed in rage, suddenly he grabbed JinXi-Er, and snapped his neck..." His voice was shaking, obviously still shocked by what he saw.

Madame Zhong sighed and waved her hand: "You have had enough shock for one day, why don't you go and get some rest." LaiFu-Er bowed: "Yes ma'am." And walked out.

Madame Zhong shook her head and let out a long sigh: "I'm not feeling very well and would like a little bit of peace and quiet." Master Zhong replied: "Alright, I'm going to go see Yue Number 3 to make sure he doesn't cause more trouble." Madame Zhong observed: "I say it's best if you call him 'Yue Number 2' instead." Master Zhong replied: "Hmph, Yue Number 3 might be vicious, but I'm not scared of him at all. I'm not fussing over JinXi-Er's murder only because he is giving me a lot of face by coming all this way to help me."

Madame Zhong shook her head and said: "We have been living here in peace and quiet for ten years now. In these ten years, I have not left the valley at all, are you still not satisfied? Why must you go invite ‘Four Evils' here to make a mess of everything? You... you give me all that sweet talk all the time when in reality you don't care about me at all!" Master Zhong immediately replied: "I... Since when did I not care about you? I invited the four of them here for you." 

Madame Zhong humphed: "For me? Well let me thank you. If you really care about me, then listen to me and send these ‘Four Evils'  on their way."

Duan Yu was just feeling rather odd about this whole situation in the neighboring room: "That Yue Number Three killed for no reason at all, he really is downright evil. Could there really be three more people who are as evil as he is?"

Master Zhong was pacing back and forth in the hall. He spoke up with a bit of anger in his voice: "That guy named Duan disgraced me too much, if I don't avenge this wrong, then how can I, Zhong WanChou, have face to live in this world?"

Duan Yu mused: "So your name is Zhong WanChou? Ten-Thousand Calamities? This name seems rather inappropriate. As the saying goes: 'Enemies are easy to make and hard to make up to.' Holding one enmity already is not a good thing, much less 10,000 enmities. No wonder your face got pulled that long. The fact that you were able to marry such a flowery and goddess-like wife with your looks means that you have about all the luck in the world. You should change your name to 'Ten-Thousand Fortunes', Zhong WanXin."

Madame Zhong frowned and coldly replied: "Actually, the one you really hate is me and not that other person. If you really wanted to cause trouble for him, why don't you go to their house and fight it out with him? Asking for help like this, there won't be much glory in it even if you win." 

The veins on Zhong WanChou's forehead were all clearly visible as he shouted: "He has all kinds of dogs and sidekicks under him, you know that! I wanted to duel it out with him, but he never shows his face, what can I do?" Madame Zhong lowered her head as drops of tear quietly landed on her sleeves.

Zhong WanChou panicked: "I'm so sorry, Ah-Bao. Ah-Bao, please don't get mad, I was wrong to yell at you like that." Madame Zhong did not reply, but even more tears were appearing. Zhong WanChou scratched his head in distress: "Ah-Bao, please don't get mad at me. I couldn't control myself, I'm so sorry."

Madame Zhong quietly replied: "You still can't forget that matter no matter what. What's the point of me going on like this? Why don't you just kill me and end all of this. That way, you don't have to keep on getting mad about this. Then just go marry another pretty wife and that'll be that."

Zhong WanChou lifted his hands up and slapped himself twice: "I was wrong, I need to be punished!"

Seeing the big hand of his hitting that long horse-like face, Duan Yu could not help but laugh at this comical scene. Even before he stopped laughing, he knew that he had really done it this time and hoped against hope that Zhong WanChou did not hear him. But Zhong WanChou immediately shouted: "Who's there?" "Peng!" Someone had kicked open the door and jumped into the room. Duan Yu felt suddenly felt someone grab the back of his neck and threw him into the middle of the outside room. His eyes went black from the fall as he felt as if every bone in his body had just snapped.

Zhong WanChou grabbed the back of his neck with his left hand and lifted him up: "Who are you? What are you doing in my wife's room?" Seeing Duan Yu's handsome face, he immediately became suspicious. He turned to Madame Zhong and said: "Ah-Bao, you... you... again... again...."

Madame Zhong rebuked: "'Again' this, 'again' that, 'again' what? Put him down, he is here to report an emergency." 

Zhong WanChou asked: "What kind of emergency?" He still had Duan Yu in midair and turned to him: "Stinking bastard, I can tell from your appearence that you are not a good person. What are you doing secretly hiding in my wife's room? Tell me, tell me now! If you even tell half a lie, I'll make sure your head end up like this table!" He brought his fist down hard onto a pear wood table, smashing half of it to bits.

After being painfully thrown on the floor, lifted up in the air, and hearing from Zhong WanChou's tone of voice that he suspected that there maybe something indecent going on between him and Madame Zhong, Duan Yu got mad instead of scared. He shouted back: "My surname is Duan! If you want to kill me then hurry it up! I don't know what kind of rubbish you are talking about!"

Zhong WanChou lifted his right fist up and shouted in rage: "Your name is Duan too? Another one named Duan, a... another one named Duan." By now, the rage in him has turned to sadness and disappointment, and tears were filling those big, rounded eyes of his.

Suddenly, Duan Yu felt very sorry for this man; figuring that he knows that his appearance does not match his wife's, and that is the reason why he gets jealous and mad for no reason whatsoever, actually a very pathetic situation for him. Unexpectedly, even though his life is in the other man's hands, he started to console him: "My surname is Duan, but I have never seen Madame Zhong before in my life. You have no need to be suspicious or sad."

Happiness returned to Zhong WanChou's face as he asked in a crackled voice: "Really? You've never seen... never seen Ah-Bao before?" 

Duan Yu replied: "I only came here for the first time not an hour ago." 

Zhong WanChou laughed sillily a couple of times and said: "Yes, of course! Ah-Bao hasn't left the valley in ten years. Ten years ago, your were only 8 or 9, of course you can't... can't... cant...." But he still had Duan Yu up in the air.

A shade of red appeared on Madame Zhong's face as she spoke up: "Aren't you going to put Mr. Duan down?" 

Zhong WanChou immediately replied: "Yes, of course." He gently put Duan Yu down, but suddenly a look of suspicion appeared on his face again: "Mr. Duan? Mr. Duan? Who... Who's your father?"

Duan Yu figured: "If I lie about it this time, it would actually seem like I have something to hide or whatever." So he said in an earnest tone: "Back then I did not tell Madame Zhong the truth when I shouldn't have. My name is Duan Yu, styled HeYu. I'm from Dali. My father's given name is first-Zheng-then-Chun."

Zhong WanChou hadn't really figured out what "First-Zheng-then-Chun" meant when Madame Wang asked with her voice shaking: "Your father is... is Duan... Duan ZhengChun?" 

Duan Yu nodded: "Yes!"

Zhong WanChou screamed: "Duan ZhengChun!" His scream was so loud that it seemed like the whole world was trembling. His face was red with rage and his entire body was shaking as he yelled: "You... You are the son of that dog, Duan ZhengChun?"

Duan Yu was furious and shouted back: "How dare you insult my father?"

Zhong WanChou shouted back: "Why wouldn't I dare? Duan ZhengChun, you are a dog, a bastard, a turtle egg!"

Suddenly, Duan Yu pieced it together: "That's why he wrote outside: 'Those who enter with the surname of Duan will die.' Must be because he hates my dad so much that he hates everyone named Duan." So he calmly and coldly replied: "Master Zhong, if you have a grudge or hatred for my father, then you should get it over with once and for all in the view of the world. If you got guts then go and insult my father to his face. Insulting him behind his back is not the way of a real man. My father is in Dali, if you want to find him then you'll find him easily. What's the point in putting up a sign in front of your house saying 'Those who enter with the surname of Duan will die'?"

Zhong WanChou's face turned many different shades in a row, as if every single word of what Duan Yu just said went straight into his heart. Rage shot out from his eyes as he looked like he was about to kill. After staying motionless for a while, he suddenly threw out two punches and smashed two chairs to pieces. He followed by throwing a kick at the wall, instantly creating a huge hole in the wall. All the while he screamed: "I'm not afraid of not being able to beat your father, I... I'm scared... scared that your father would find out that Ah-Bao is here...." When he got to here, there were faint traces of sobs in his voice. He covered his face with his hands and screamed: "I'm a coward, I'm a coward!" Suddenly he ran out of the room, but smashing noises kept on coming from outside as he kept on running into fences, flower pots, chairs, and such.

Duan Yu was in shock for a long time, he thought: "So what if my dad knows that your wife lives here? Would he come here and kill her?" He thought that he was way too harsh with what he said, hurting Zhong WanChou like that. Regretting what he said and feeling bad about the whole situation, he turned around and saw that Madame Zhong was staring at him.

As soon as their eyes met, Madame Zhong immediated turned her eyes away. Her pale face suddenly turned a shade of pink. After a little silence, she asked in a faint voice: "Mr. Duan, how has you father been? Is he doing ok?"

Since she was inquiring about his father, Duan Yu stood up and answered very politely and formally: "Father has been very good and healthy, he is doing great."

Madame Zhong replied: "That's great. I.. I also…"

Once again, Duan Yu saw that there were little tear droplets on her long eye lashes. She didn't even finish the sentence before having to turn away to wipe away the tears with her sleeve. Duan Yu felt sorry for her and tried to console: "Auntie, even though Master Zhong has quite a temper, he has nothing but love and respect for you. The two of you have a full and beautiful marriage; this is a little disagreement, no need for Auntie to be sad like this."

Madame Zhong turned around and gave him a little smile: "At such a little age, what do you know about whether or not a marriage is full or beautiful?"

Seeing the faint traces of innocence and tenderness in her smile, Duan Yu's heart shook a bit as he was immediately reminded of Zhong Ling. He turned his eyes toward Zhong Ling's pair of flower shoes on the table and thought: "Miss Zhong with that Goat Beard, she's probably suffering every moment of it. Got to get her out of there as soon as possible." He spoke up: "I was just very rude to Master Zhong, could Auntie please go on my behalf and ask Master Zhong for forgiveness. And also ask him to leave and save his beloved daughter at once."

Madame Zhong replied: "My husband is busy taking care of some friends that had just arrived from very far away. It is truly very hard for him to leave right now. I'm sure you just heard as well how peculiar these friends are, killing at the slightest provocation. If we aren't polite enough too them, who knows what kind of troubles that would bring to us? Hm. The way things are now, let me go with you instead." 

Excited, Duan Yu replied: "If Auntie herself can go, then there is nothing more that could be asked for." Remembering something that Zhong Ling told him, he asked: "Can Auntie cure that marten, Lightning's poison?" 

Madame Zhong shook her head: "No, I can't." Duan Yu hesitated: "Then... this...."

Madame Zhong walked back into her room, left a brief little note, hurriedly tied a belt around her waist, and hung a sword off of it. Returning to the hall, she said: "Let's go!" And she immediately started to walk out.

Duan Yu casually and naturally picked up the flowery shoes and put it inside his shirt. Madame Zhong shook her head in silence, as if she wanted to say something. But she finally decided against it and kept on walking.

Once the two of them got outside of the hole in the tree, Madame Zhong picked up her speed. Even though she looked delicate and frail, she was walking much faster than Duan Yu.

Duan Yu still did't feel assured: "Auntie, since you don't know how to cure, I'm afraid that Divine Farmer Clan might not let your beloved daughter off so easily."

Madame Zhong casually replied: "Who said we are asking them to let her go? Divine Farmer Clan dared to detain my daughter and threaten me, they must have grown tired of living. I don't know how to save someone, but that doesn't mean that I don't know how to kill someone."

Duan Yu involuntarily shuddered as he felt that the disregard for human life in these last several casual sentences were as prevalent as the actions of that Yue Number Three.

Madame Zhong asked: "How many concubines does your father keep?" 

Duan Yu answered: "None, he doesn't keep any. My mom won't allow it." 

Madame Zhong asked: "Is your father really scared of your mother?" 

Duan Yu laughed and replied: "Not really afraid. It is mostly love and respect, much like how Master Zhong is like to Auntie." 

Madame Zhong replied: "Um, does your father practice kungfu everyday? In these years, has his kungfu gotten much better again?" 

Duan Yu replied: "Dad practices everyday. But as for how good he is, I haven't the slightest clue." 

Madame Zhong commented: "He hasn't slacked off on his kungfu, then I... I can set my mind to rest. How come you don't know any kungfu at all?"

Amidst the conversation, the two of them had walked another half a kilometer or so. Duan Yu was just about to answer when he heard a man screaming: "Ah-Bao! Where... Where are you going?" Duan Yu turned around and saw Zhong WanChou chasing up from behind with blinding speed.

Madame Zhong grabbed Duan Yu's arm and shouted: "Hurry up!" She started to run forward with great speed. Duan Yu's foot was off the ground as he was almost being carried by Madame Zhong. The three of them covered 50 meters or so in a flash. Athough Madame Zhong's Qing Gong was not weaker than her husband, she was nevertheless dragging another person and Zhong WanChou gradually began to gain ground on her. After another 50 meters or so Duan Yu could have swore he can feel Zhong WanChou's breath on the back of his neck. Suddenly there was a ripping sound and he felt cold air blowing on his back. Part of the back of his shirt was torn off by Zhong WanChou.

Madame Zhong directed some inner force into her left arm and threw Duan Yu up over ten meters ahead while shouting: "Get out of here!" Her right hand had already stabbed back with the the sword. Considering Zhong WanChou's kungfu, this move naturally shouldn't hit him. Besides, Madame Zhong had no intentions of injuring her husband, she just wanted to stop his pursuit. But when she struck out with her sword, she suddenly felt some slight resistance on the sword as it had stabbed her husband in the chest.

Turns out that Zhong WanChou did not dodge nor parry, but instead leaned forward and ran onto the sword.

Madame Zhong was shocked and immediately turned around. Her husband was staring at her with a furious face but with tears in his eyes. With blood gushing out where he had been stabbed, he said in a shaking voice: "Ah-Bao, you...... are finally going to leave me?"

Even though her sword missed her husband's heart, it nevertheless was several inches deep in his chest and life-threatening. In panic, Madame Zhong immediately pulled the sword out and jumped forth to press hard on his wound. But blood was gushing out so much that they were shooting out through the little spaces between her fingers.

Madame Zhong angrily said: "I didn't want to harm you, why didn't you get out of the way!"

Zhong WanChou forced a wry smile and said: "You... You... are leaving me, I... might as well die." He then broke into a coughing fit. 

Madame Zhong replied: "Who said I was leaving you? I'm just going out for a couple of days and then I'll be back. I'm going to save our daughter. Didn't I explain everything in that note that I left?" 

Master Zhong replied: "What note?" 

Madame Zhong scoffed: "Ay! You are just too careless for your own good." So she briefly explained Zhong Ling's capture by the Divine Farmer Clan.

Duan Yu had been scared out of his wit by what he saw. When he had recovered from the shock, he immediately tore off a piece of clothing and tried to bandage up the wound for Zhong WanChou. Suddenly, Zhong WanChou's left foot came flying in and sent him rolling along the ground. Zhong WanChou shouted: "Little bastard! I don't want to see you ever again!" He turned to Madame Zhong: "You are lying, I don't believe you. He obviously came... came to get you. This little bastard is his son... he also insulted me...." He began coughing again, causing the blood to gush out of his chest even more. He pointed at Duan Yu and shouted: "Come on! Even though I'm wounded, I'm still not afraid of your ‘Yiyang Finger’! Come on!"

Duan Yu's left cheek had hit a particularly sharp rock when he fell down. So when he pitifully got back up, half of his face was covered in blood. He replied: "I don't know ‘Yiyang Finger’. And even if I could, I wouldn't use it on you." 

Zhong WanChou coughed some more before angrily replying: "Little bastard, what are you pretending to be? Go... Go get your old man here!" His coughing got even worse now that he is mad.

Madame Zhong spoke up: "You are always suspicious about everything. Since you can't trust me, then I might as well die right in front of you and end it all." She picked up the sword on the ground and brought it up to her throat.

Zhong WanChou grabbed the sword out of her hand, but happiness filled his face as he said in a shaking voice: "Ah-Bao, you really weren't running off with this little bastard?"

Madame Zhong angrily replied: "He is Mr. Duan, would you stop with the little bastard, big bastard talk? I was going with Mr. Duan to get rid of Divine Farmer Clan and save our daughter." 

Hearing that she wasn't leaving him, Zhong WanChou was happy beyond belief, add that on top the slightly angry expression on her face, and immediately his love and affection returned: "If that's the case, then it's all my fault. But... But since I have already chased all this way, why didn't you just stop and tell me all this?" 

Madame Zhong's face turned just a little redder as she replied: "I didn't want you to see Mr. Duan again." 

Zhong WanChou's suspicion was suddenly aroused again: "This little.... This Mr. Duan isn't your son is he?"

Angry and embarrased, Madame Zhong replied: "Pei! Why are you just talking nonsense? First he's my lover, now he's my son. To tell you the truth, he's my old man, your father-in-law." After saying that, she laughed despite of herself.

Zhong WanChou was taken aback for a moment before he realized that his wife was joking. That sent him into a wild laughter, which caused the blood to flow out even faster out of his wound.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Madame Zhong said: "What... What should I do?" 

This made Zhong WanChou even happier as he put his arm around her waist and said: "Ah-Bao, with you worrying so much about me. Even if I die right now I would not feel wronged." 

Madame Zhong's cheeks were burning red as she lightly pushed him away: "Mr. Duan is here, how can you still act like that?" Zhong WanChou heartily laughed. After several laughs, he coughed several times.

Seeing the pale and exhausted expression on her husband's face, Madame Zhong was deeply worried and said: "I can't go save Ling-Er now, she caused the trouble herself, she'll just have to see what fate she is dealt." She helped her husband up and then turned to Duan Yu: "Mr. Duan, go tell SiKong Xuan: my husband is that 'Divine Horse King' Zhong WanChou who shocked the martial world years a go. I'm Gan BaoBao and have a rather unpleasant nickname: 'Lovely Yaksha’ [Pretty Medicine Fork]. If he dares to even touch a single strand of hair on our daughter, remind him that the two of us are tough and merciless." 

For every sentence she said, Zhong WanChou would add after it an "Yes, that's right!"

Duan Yu had figured that Zhong WanChou could not go himself and that Madame Zhong cannot leave her husband to save her daughter after witnessing what he saw. Just using Divine Horse King Zhong WanChou’s and Lovely Yaksha [Pretty Medicine Fork] Chan BaoBao's name probably could not scare SiKong Xuan into submission. So it seems that the "Intestine Fragmenter" in his belly would not be cured. He figured: "Since things are like this, then there is no point and nothing good will come in saying anymore." So he replied: "Alright, I will go and tell them immediately."

Seeing how he just naturally and suavely got up to leave as soon as he said he would, Madame Zhong was once again reminded of someone in her mind, she cried out: "Mr. Duan, I have one more sentence to say to you." She gently put her husband down and ran up to Duan Yu. She took an object out of her shirt, stuffed it in Duan Yu's hand, and whispered: "Take this to your father and ask him to please save our daughter."

Duan Yu replied: "If my dad would come out, then of course Miss Zhong would be saved. But the journey to Dali is not a short one, I'm afraid that I might not make it in time." 

Madame Zhong said: "Then I'll lend you a good horse, please wait here for a bit. Please don't forget to tell your dad exactly: "'Please save our daughter'." She did not wait for Duan Yu to reply before running to her husband's side, helping him up, and starting to walk back the way they came.

Duan Yu held his hand up and saw that what Madame Zhong stuffed in his hand was a delicately made golden box. He opened it and saw that there was a piece of paper inside. The paper was faintly yellow, obviously very old, with several faint traces of spilled blood on it. On it was written: "Girl born between 1 and 3am, February 5th, year of Geng-Shen". The calligraphy was soft and weak, obviously written by a female, and the style was rather lacking, other than that there was nothing in the box. Duan Yu wondered: "Who's birth certificate is this? Madame Zhong wants me to give this to my dad, what for? The year of Geng-Shen, Geng-Shen...." He did a bit of counting backwards with his fingers, that was exactly 16 years ago, ".... Could it be Miss Zhong's? Madame Zhong wants to marry her daughter off to me so that my dad would go save his daughter-in-law?"

Deep in his thoughts, he was suddenly interrupted by a man's voice: "Mr. Duan!"


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