Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 25 - Gray Journey Through the Snow

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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 3

XXV - A journey through the mist walking on snow

Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 25 - Gray Journey Through the Snow

Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 莽苍踏雪行
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by Xaari 


Chapter 25: Gray Journey Through the Snow

Xiao Feng traveled over ten li and saw a small temple by the roadside. He entered the hall, leaned against the wall, and napped for over four hours. His exhaustion gone, he continued heading north. After walking another forty li, he arrived at the northern crossroad, Changtai Pass. 

Naturally, the first thing to do was to find a wine shop. He ordered ten catties of white wine, two catties of beef, and a fat chicken. After pouring and drinking ten catties of wine, he ordered another five catties. As he was drinking, he heard the sound of footsteps, and a person walked in. It was precisely AhZi. Xiao Feng thought, “This little girl is here to ruin my passion for drinking.” He turned around and pretended that he hadn’t seen her.

AhZi smiled and sat down at the table opposite him. She called out, “Proprietor, proprietor, bring the wine.”

The bartender walked over, smiled, and said, “Little Miss, are you also going to drink wine?”

AhZi reprimanded, “Miss should just be Miss. Why do you need to add a “little” to it? Why wouldn’t I drink wine? Get me ten catties of white wine first. In addition, prepare another five catties to serve later. Get two catties of beef and a fat chicken. Hurry, hurry!”

The bartender stuck out his tongue and didn’t withdraw it for a long time. He cried out, “Aiyo, my goodness! Is Miss serious or joking? You’re so small. How can you eat this much?” As he said this, he looked sideways at Xiao Feng and thought, “She’s directing this at you! Whatever you drink, she’ll also drink; whatever you eat, she’ll also eat.”

AhZi said, “Who says I’m so small? You don’t have eyes, right? Are you afraid that after eating, I won’t have money to pay up?” As she said this, she took out a silver ingot from her bosom. With a “dang” sound, she tossed it onto the table and said, “If I can’t finish eating or drinking, then wouldn’t I feed it to the dogs? What do you need to worry about?” 

The bartender smiled and said, “Yes, yes!” He looked sideways at Xiao Feng again and thought, “She’s really getting at you now and beating around the bush cursing you.” 

A while later, the meat and wine were brought up. The bartender carried a large bowl and placed it in front of her. Smiling, he said, “Miss, I’ll pour wine for you now.” 

AhZi nodded and said, “Okay.”

The bartender poured a full bowl of wine for her and thought, “It’d be a wonder if you finish drinking this bowl and don’t roll around on the ground intoxicated.”

AhZi held the bowl in her hands, brought it to her lips, and licked a bit. She frowned and said, “So pungent, so pungent. This inferior wine tastes really bad. Were it not for a few big idiots in this world who are willing to drink it, how could your wine be sold?” 

The bartender casted another sidelong glance at Xiao Feng, saw that he had ignored her all along, and unconsciously laughed inwardly.

AhZi tore a chicken leg, took a bite, and said, “Pei, it’s smelly!” 

The bartender cried out, feeling wronged, “This delicious fat chicken was still making “ge ge ge” sounds this morning. It’s fresh and hot. How can it be smelly?” 

AhZi said, “Mm, maybe it’s because your body’s smelly, or else the other customer in your shop is smelly.” Snowflakes were drifting outside, there was no one traveling on the road, and Xiao Feng and she were the only two customers in the shop. 

The bartender smiled and said, “It’s my body that’s smelly, of course it’s my body that’s smelly. Miss, you should take care when you speak. Don’t accidentally offend another gentleman.”

AhZi said, “What? If I offend someone else, could he beat me to death with one palm?” As she said this, she picked up her chopsticks and held a piece of beef. She took a bite, didn’t even chew it, and spit it out. She cried out, “Aiyo, this beef is sour. It’s not beef, but human flesh. You people sell human flesh. What an evil shop, what an evil shop!”

The bartender panicked and said hurriedly, “Aiyo, Miss, be charitable and don’t stir up trouble. This is fresh yellow beef. How can you say it’s human flesh? How can human flesh have such a rough texture? How can it have such a splendid red color?”

AhZi said, “Okay, so you know the texture and color of human flesh. I’m asking you, how many people have your shop killed?”

The bartender smiled and said, “Miss, you really like to joke around. Changtai Pass is such a large city in Menyang prefecture, and we’re a sixty-year-old shop. Where’s the reasoning of killing people and selling human flesh?”

AhZi said, “Fine, even if it’s not human flesh, it’s still smelly, and only a fool would eat it. Aiyo, my boots have gotten so dirty from the snowy ground.” Saying this, she snatched a large piece of delicious simmer-fried beef from the plate and wiped it on her left boot. 

The outer layer of the boot had originally been splashed with mud. After the wiping, half the mud was removed while beef grease was smeared on, making the surface shine like a mirror. 

Upon seeing her use the beef that had been diligently cooked by the great chef to wipe her boot, the bartender felt his heart ache greatly. He stood to the side and sighed continuously.

AhZi asked, “Why are you sighing?”

The bartender said, “This shop’s simmer-fried beef has always been considered the best in the town of Changtai. If it’s mentioned to anyone within a hundred li, he’ll give a thumbs-up and swallow his saliva with “gu gu gu” sounds. Yet Miss uses it to wipe her leather boot. This...this...” 

AhZi glared at him and asked, “This what?”

The bartender said, “It seems too much of a grievance.”

AhZi said, “Are you saying it’s a grievance for my boot? Beef comes from cattle, and leather boots also come from cattle, so it can’t be considered a grievance. Hey, what other specialty dishes does your shop have? Name a few of them.”

The bartender said, “Naturally there are specialty dishes, but the prices aren’t so cheap.”

AhZi took out a silver ingot from her bosom, threw it on the table with a “dang” sound, and asked, “Is this enough?”

The bartender saw that this silver ingot weighed five taels, which was enough to buy two entire tables’ worth of food and wine. He smiled hurriedly and said, “It’s enough, excuse me, how could it not be enough? The shop’s specialty dishes include carp cooked in wine, sliced white lamb, pork marinated in soybean paste...”

AhZi said, “Very good, give me three portions of each kind.”

The bartender said, “If Miss wants to try the flavors, I think one portion of each kind is enough...”

AhZi said calmly, “I said I want three portions so it’s three portions. Is it any of your business?”

The bartender said, “Yes, yes!” He called out, lengthening his words, “Three portions of carp cooked in wine! Three portions of sliced white lamb...”

Xiao Feng watched from the side, knowing that this little girl was clearly stirring up trouble for the bartender when she was actually making fun of him. Presently he ignored her and minded his own business, drinking wine and appreciating the snow.

A while later, the sliced white lamb was brought up. AhZi said, “Leave one portion here, bring one portion over to that gentleman, and place one portion on that table. Place a bowl and chopsticks over there, and pour good wine.”

The bartender asked, “Is there another customer coming?”

AhZi glared at him and said, “You’re so talkative. Be careful or else I’ll cut off your tongue!”

The bartender stuck out his tongue, smiled, and said, “I’m afraid that Miss doesn’t have the ability to cut off my tongue.”

Xiao Feng’s heart jumped and he glared at him, thinking, “Aren’t you asking for death? How can you dare to say such words to this rebellious little devil?”

The bartender brought the lamb to Xiao Feng’s table. Xiao Feng said nothing, picked up his chopsticks, and ate it. A while later, the carp cooked in wine and pork marinated in soybean sauce were brought up in succession. There were still three portions, one for Xiao Feng, one for AhZi, and one was placed on another table. Xiao Feng refused nothing and ate them one after the other. 

AhZi only took one bite of each portion and said, “It’s smelly and only fit for pigs and dogs to eat.” She snatched the lamb, carp, and pork to wipe her boots. Although the bartender’s heart ached, he couldn’t do anything.

Xiao Feng gazed outside the window and thought, “This little devil is seriously hateful. Now that she’s following me around, there will be no end of trouble. Azhu entrusted me to take care of her, but this ghost spirit can take care of herself just fine, and I definitely don’t need to worry about her. I should just avoid her. Out of sight, out of mind.”

As he was thinking, a person in the distance suddenly walked over on the snowy ground. It was midwinter in the twelfth month, but this person only wore a garment of yellow hemp cloth, as if he didn’t feel the frigid cold at all. In a moment he was nearby and it could be seen that he was around forty years old, with shining yellow hoops hanging from his ears. He had a lion-like nose and a broad mouth. His appearance was rather vicious and strange, and clearly he wasn’t from the Central Plains. 

This person arrived at the wine shop, lifted the curtain, and entered. When he saw AhZi, he stared blankly, and then his face revealed a happy expression. He wanted to talk but restrained himself and sat down at a table.

AhZi said, “There’s wine and meat. Why won’t you eat it?”

That person saw the unoccupied table filled with food and wine and said, “Is that for me? Many thanks, younger martial sister.” As he said this, he walked over and sat down. He took out a small gold knife from his bosom, cut the beef, and used his hands to eat it. After eating a few pieces of meat, he drank a bowl of wine. His wine tolerance wasn’t bad.

Xiao Feng thought, “So he’s actually a disciple of the Old Freak of Xingxiu.” He originally didn’t like this person’s appearance or bearing, but upon seeing that his wine tolerance was quite good, he felt that he wasn’t actually extremely hateful. 

Upon seeing that he had finished drinking the wine, AhZi said to the bartender, “Bring this wine over and give it to that gentleman.” As she said this, she dipped her hands into the bowl of wine in front of her. She stirred a little and washed off the meat grease on her hands, then pushed forward the bowl of wine. 

The bartender thought, “Can this wine still be drunk?”

AhZi saw his hesitation and noticed that he hadn’t picked up the bowl of wine. She urged, “Hurry up and bring it over. He’s waiting for his wine.”

The bartender smiled and said, “Miss, you’re at it again. How can this bowl of wine still be drunk?” 

AhZi’s face hardened and she said, “Who says it can’t be drunk? Are you contemptuous that my hands are dirty? Let’s do this. You drink a mouthful of the wine, and I’ll give you a silver ingot.” Saying this, she took out a small silver ingot weighing one tael from her bosom and placed it on the table.

The bartender was delighted and said, “It’s great to get a tael of silver for drinking a mouthful of wine. To say nothing of Miss merely washing her hands, even if it’s water in which Miss washes her feet, I’ll still drink it. Saying this, he picked up the bowl of wine and drank a big mouthful.

Unexpectedly, when the wine entered his mouth, he felt like his tongue was being burned by red hot iron, and he was in acute pain. With a “wa” sound, the bartender opened his mouth and spouted out the wine. He was in so much pain that he bounced on his legs and shouted loudly, “My mother! Aiyo, my mother!” When Xiao Feng saw him like this, he was greatly alarmed. He heard his shouting become more and more indistinct. Clearly his tongue had swelled.

The wine shop’s shopkeeper, great chef, and other bartenders rushed over when they heard the shouting. “What’s going on? What’s going on?” The bartender tore at his face with his hands. He was already unable to speak and stuck out his tongue, which had swelled to three times its normal size and was entirely black.

Xiao Feng was alarmed again and thought, “He’s been acutely poisoned. This little devil soaked her fingers in the wine for a moment, poisoning the bowl of wine so terribly.”

When everyone saw the unusual condition of the bartender’s tongue, they all became frightened. They blurted out simultaneously, “What kind of poison did he come across?” “Was he pinched by a scorpion?” “Aiyo, this is disastrous. Hurry, hurry and ask for a physician!”

The bartender pointed a finger at AhZi. Suddenly he walked over and knelt down on the ground in front of her. He kowtowed, making “dong dong dong” sounds.

AhZi smiled and said, “Aiyo, I can’t afford this. What are you pleading with me for?” The bartender raised his head, pointed to his tongue, and kowtowed again.

AhZi smiled and said, “You want me to cure you, right?” The bartender was in so much pain that his brow beaded with sweat. He scratched his body everywhere with his hands, kowtowed, and cupped his hands in obeisance. 

AhZi reached into her bosom and took out a gold knife, exactly the same as the knife that the lion-nosed man had used. She grabbed the back of the bartender’s neck with her left hand and brandished the gold knife with her right hand. With a light “chi” sound, she cut off a small section of the tip of his tongue. All the spectators shouted loudly and saw that the cut tongue was gushing blood. The bartender was greatly startled, but as the blood flowed out, the poison was removed. The pain on his tongue immediately disappeared, and after a moment, the swelling also receded. AhZi took out a small bottle from her bosom, pulled out the stopper, used her pinky fingernail to gather some yellow medicinal powder, and flicked it onto his tongue. The blood flowing out of his tongue immediately slowed.

The bartender didn’t dare to be angry but was unwilling to give thanks. His expression was extremely awkward, and he said, “” Now that a section of his tongue had been cut off, naturally he couldn’t speak clearly.

AhZi held that small ingot of silver in her hand, smiled, and said, “I said that if you drank a mouthful of wine, I would give you a tael of silver. Just now you spat out the mouthful of wine, so that doesn’t count. Drink again.”

The bartender flapped his hands and said unclearly, “I...I don’t want it. I won’t drink.”

AhZi put the silver back in her bosom, smiled, and said, “What did you say a moment ago? It seemed as if you said, ‘You want to cut off my tongue? I’m afraid that Miss doesn’t have this ability.’ Right? But now you kowtowed and begged me to cut it. I was almost about to ask you, ‘Does Miss have this ability or not?’”

Only now did the bartender suddenly realize that this matter had occurred only because he had said one wrong sentence. His hatred and resentment reached their peak and he wanted to make a move immediately and ferociously beat her. But upon seeing that at both of the other two tables sat a tall and strong man who was clearly on her side, he felt timid.

AhZi asked, “Are you going to drink it or not?”

The bartender said angrily, “I...I, your father...” He recalled that if he spoke thoughtlessly and cursed at her, he would very likely suffer again at her hands. Both scared and angry, he ran quickly into the inner room and didn’t come out again.

The shopkeeper and everyone else discussed continuously and glared at AhZi. All of them returned to their original places and substituted another bartender to take care of the customers. After seeing the circumstances from a moment ago, the bartender trembled with fear and apprehension, and didn’t dare to say a single word.

Xiao Feng was extremely angry: “That bartender only cracked a joke and you punished him to be handicapped for the rest of his life. In the future he’ll never be able to speak clearly again. She’s so young, yet her behavior is so vicious.”

AhZi said, “Bartender, bring this bowl of wine to that gentleman’s table for him to drink.” Saying this, she pointed at the lion-nosed man. When the bartender saw her pointing at that bowl of wine, his entire body was already shaking. Upon hearing her ordering him to bring the wine to a customer, he became even more frightened. AhZi smiled and said, “Ah, right, since you’re unwilling to give the wine to the customer, then you must want to drink it yourself. That’s fine, just drink it yourself.”

The bartender was so scared that his complexion was an inhuman color. He said hurriedly, “No, no, this lowly person...this lowly person won’t drink it.”

AhZi said, “Then hurry and bring it over.”

The bartender said, “Yes, yes.” He firmly held the bowl of wine in his hands and moved with fear and trepidation to the lion-nosed man’s table. Out of fear that he would accidentally spill even half a drop, his hands trembled. When the bottom of the bowl hit the tabletop, it made “ta ta ta” sounds.

The lion-nosed man held the bowl of wine in his hands and stared at the wine within the bowl. He was approximately a foot away from the bowl, but he neither moved it closer nor placed it back onto the table. AhZi smiled and said, “Second Elder Martial Brother, what’s wrong? Little sister treats you to drink wine, but are you unwilling to give me face?”

Xiao Feng thought, “The acute poison in this bowl of wine is incomparable. Of course this person wouldn’t give into provocation and lose his life for nothing. Even a person with strong internal energy may not necessarily be able to withstand the acute poison within the wine.”

The lion-nosed man stared in thought for a long time before raising the bowl to his lips and directly drank it into his stomach with “gu du” sounds. Xiao Feng was alarmed and thought, “Could it be that this person actually has incomparably profound internal energy and can dissolve this kind of acute poison?” Amidst his bewilderment, he saw that he had already finished that large bowl of wine and placed it back onto the table. His thumbs were dripping wet with wine, and he casually wiped them on his lapel. Xiao Feng pondered for a while and understood: “That’s right, before drinking the wine he had inserted his thumbs into the wine and held the bowl for a long time without drinking. Most likely he had applied the antidote on his thumbs and dissolved the acute poison within the wine.”

Upon seeing that he had finished the bowl of poisoned wine, AhZi’s expression immediately became frightened. She forced a smile and said, “Second Elder Martial Brother, your ability to dissolve poison has greatly improved. Congratulations.” 

The lion-nosed man didn’t pay any attention to her. He swallowed and chewed fiercely, eating eighty to ninety percent of the dishes on the table. He patted his stomach, stood up, and said, “Let’s go.”

AhZi said, “Please do as you wish. I’m sure we’ll meet again someday.” 

The lion-nosed man stared at her with strange eyes and said, “What ‘I’m sure we’ll meet again someday’? You’re leaving with me.” 

AhZi shook her head and said, “I’m not going.” She walked over to Xiao Feng’s side and said, “I have an agreement with this big brother. We’re going to take a turn in Jiangnan.”

The lion-nosed man stared at Xiao Feng and asked, “Who’s this guy?”

AhZi said, “What guy? Speak more politely. He’s my brother-in-law and I’m his sister-in-law. The two of us are relatives.” 

The lion-nosed man said, “You gave me a problem and I solved it, so you should listen to me. Don’t tell me that you dare to violate the rules of our sect?”

Xiao Feng thought, “So actually AhZi told him to drink the poisoned wine in order to give him a difficult problem, but didn’t expect that this person actually solved it.”

AhZi said, “Who said I gave you a problem? Are you talking about drinking this bowl of wine? Haha, so funny, I gave this bowl of wine to the bartender. Who would’ve thought that you of the magnificent Xingxiu Sect would drink the leftover wine that the smelly bartender drank. The smelly bartender drank it and didn’t die either. What’s so extraordinary about you drinking it after him? Let me ask you, did the smelly bartender die? If even this kind of person can drink it, then how could I give such an easy problem?” These words were plausible but misleading, and it wasn’t easy to refute her.

The lion-nosed man restrained his anger and said, “Master has commanded me to take you back. Are you going to disobey master’s command?”

AhZi smiled and said, “Master dotes on me the most. Second Elder Martial Brother, please go back and report to master that I met my brother-in-law along the way and will go to Jiangnan with him to have fun. I’ll buy master some fun ancient jewels and then return.”

The lion-nosed man shook his head and said, “That won’t do. You took master’s...” When he said this, he looked askance at Xiao Feng, seemingly afraid of divulging a secret. He paused and then said, “Master is thundering with anger and wants you to quickly return.”

AhZi pleaded, “Second Elder Martial Brother, I’m fully aware that master is furious and forcing me to return. Isn’t he intentionally going to make me suffer? The next time master punishes you, I won’t plead for leniency for you.”

These words seemed to emotionally move the lion-nosed man. He became hesitant immediately and recalled that the Old Freak of Xingxiu rather doted on her and really took into consideration her words. He whispered, “Since you insist on not returning, then give that thing to me. I’ll bring it back to master so that I have something to account for. His anger will also subside a little.”

AhZi said, “What are you talking about? What thing? I don’t know anything.” 

The lion-nosed man’s face sunk, and he said, “Younger Martial Sister, I won’t make a move to offend you. Remember our friendship under the same sect. You should differentiate between good and bad.”

AhZi smiled and said, “Of course I can differentiate between good and bad. You kept me company and ate food and drank wine, which is good; you want to force me to return to master, which is bad.”

The lion-nosed man said, “What will you choose? If you don’t hand over that thing, then go back with me.”

AhZi said, “I’m not going back and I don’t know what you’re talking about. You want something that I have? Fine...” Saying this, she pulled out a pearl hairpin from her hair. She said, “If you want an identifying object to have something to account for to bring back to master, then take this pearl hairpin.”

The lion-nosed man said, “You really want to force me to have no choice but to make a move, right?” Saying this, he took a step forward.

AhZi saw that he had easily finished drinking the poisoned wine, which meant that his poison skills were far better than hers and that he also had internal energy, so she was absolutely not his match. The martial arts of the Xingxiu Sect were sinister and vicious, and not a single move gave any leeway. As soon as the enemy was hit, even if he didn’t die he would be seriously injured. After being injured, he would suffer all kinds of torment and die extremely miserably. Except when martial brothers fought with their lives for ranking within the sect, they never exchanged moves or practiced together. Because if they exchanged moves, they had to distinguish relative superiority, and once they distinguished relative superiority there would be casualties. The martial master and disciples never performed their martial arts. After the Old Freak of Xingxiu passed down his secret skills, everyone practiced separately. As for who was stronger or weaker, each person only knew his own level. Only upon confrontation would who was stronger or weaker be revealed.

In accordance with the rules of the Xingxiu Sect, her test using the poisoned wine was equivalent to comparing their skills under the same sect, so it was no small matter. If the lion-nosed man had acceded, he would be subjected to her control for the rest of his life. Now that he had drank the poisoned wine into his stomach without the slightest hesitation, unless AhZi had another way to turn the tide, she would have to obediently listen to him or else she would be killed immediately. Upon seeing that the situation was urgent, she pulled on Xiao Feng’s sleeve with her left hand and shouted, “Brother-in-law, he’s going to kill me.” “Brother-in-law,” yet another “brother-in-law.” Hearing this, his heart palpitated, and he remembered Azhu’s dying words of entrustment. He wanted to make a move to send the lion-nosed man away, but upon taking a glance at the pool of blood on the ground, he thought of AhZi’s vicious handling of that bartender. It would be good to let her suffer a little and receive some discipline, so he gazed out the window and ignored her.

The lion-nosed man didn’t want to kill AhZi just like that. He only wanted to show how formidable he was and make her afraid so that she would obediently return with him. Presently he extended his right hand and grabbed Xiao Feng’s left wrist.

Xiao Feng saw his right shoulder move slightly and knew that he would make a move against himself. But he took no notice of it and allowed him to grab his wrist. When the skin of his wrist came into contact with his palm, he felt extremely hot and knew that his opponent’s palm had accumulated acute poison. He transferred vital breath above his wrist, smiled, and said, “How about it? You want to drink a bowl of wine with me, right?” He extended his right hand, poured two large bowls of wine, and said, “Please!”

The lion-nosed man continuously transferred his internal energy, yet he saw that Xiao Feng was cool and collected as if he hadn’t felt anything at all. He thought, “Don’t be pleased with yourself. Later I’ll let you know how formidable my poison palm is.” He said, “Drinking wine is drinking wine. Why wouldn’t I dare?” He raised a bowl of wine and drank one big mouthful. When the wine reached his throat, counter-flowing internal breath rushed up from his chest. He couldn’t help but make a “wa” sound and spouted out the full mouthful of wine. His lapel was dripping wet with wine and he immediately coughed loudly, not stopping until a long time later.

Now he couldn’t help but pale in fright. This kind of counter-flowing internal breath had clearly been secretly transferred from his opponent’s vigorous internal energy into his own body. If he wanted to take his life, it would be as easy as flipping his hand. In this moment of fright, he hurriedly released his hold on Xiao Feng’s wrist. Unexpectedly, there was actually an extremely sticky force on Xiao Feng’s wrist, and his palm was stuck onto his wrist, unable to break away. The lion-nosed man was greatly alarmed and tried to shake him off forcefully. Xiao Feng didn’t budge. It was like shaking off from an obelisk. 

Xiao Feng poured another bowl of wine and said, “Old fellow, you didn’t get to drink the wine just now. After you finish drinking this bowl, how about we part ways?” The lion-nosed man struggled forcefully again but was still unable to break away. His left hand immediately struck violently at Xiao Feng’s face. The palm hadn’t arrived when Xiao Feng already smelled a rotten fishy odor as if emanating from a large pile of dead fish. Presently he struck out his right hand and lightly pushed. The lion-nosed man had used his full strength in this palm. When his palm arrived midway, it actually became crooked, but he was unable to retract it. Fully aware that his opponent had already made his palm crooked, he still involuntarily struck down and heavily hit his own right shoulder. With a “kala” sound, even his shoulder joint was struck.

AhZi laughed and said, “Second Elder Martial Brother, there’s no need to stand on ceremony. How come you hit yourself? This makes me too embarrassed.”

The lion-nosed man was extremely angry, but his right hand was stuck above Xiao Feng’s wrist and he was unable to break away. He didn’t dare strike with his left hand again. He struggled to break away for the third time but failed, so presently he summoned his internal energy, wanting to penetrate the acute poison accumulated in his palm into his enemy’s body. Who would’ve thought that once this internal energy hit his opponent’s wrist, it immediately bounced back, and moreover didn’t stop at his palm and didn’t even go upward. The lion-nosed man was greatly alarmed and hurriedly transferred his internal energy to resist. But this acute poison-infused internal energy was like the oceans and lakes flowing backward into the rivers. In an instant it passed his elbow joint, charged toward his armpit, and slowly rushed toward his chest. Naturally the lion-nosed man understood how formidable the toxicity of his own palm was. If it invaded his heart, he would immediately meet a violent death. He was so worried that his entire face was full of sweat that dripped down drop by drop.

AhZi laughed and said, “Second Elder Martial Brother, your internal energy is seriously superior. In such cold weather you can still be dripping with sweat. Little Sister truly admires you so much.”

How would the lion-nosed man have the leisure to pay attention to her ridicule? Fully aware that he was already so unfortunate, but unwilling to wait for death with hands tied, he desperately summoned his energy. If he could hold on for another moment, then all the better.

Xiao Feng thought, “This person has no enmity with me. Although he directly approached me with an evil scheme, why should I kill him?” Suddenly he retracted his internal energy.

The lion-nosed man suddenly felt that the sticky force on his palm was gone. The poison-infused internal energy that had nearly reached his heart rushed back into his palm. Surprised, he hurriedly retreated two steps, his face drained of blood. He panted for breath and didn’t dare go near Xiao Feng again. He had just narrowly escaped from mortal danger and returned from the gates of hell. The bartender was completely unaware and went over to pour wine for him.

The lion-nosed man raised his palm and struck him in the face. With an “ah” sound, the bartender collapsed face-up. The lion-nosed man rushed out the door and swiftly ran southwest. Only high-pitched whistling sounds could be heard from a distance. 

Xiao Feng looked at the bartender and saw that his face had become completely black and that he had instantly met a violent death. He couldn’t help but become extremely angry and said, “This guy is so abominable. I spared his life, yet how could he make a move to harm someone instead?” He pressed down on the table and wanted to chase after him.

AhZi said, “Brother-in-law, brother-in-law, sit down. I want to talk to you.”

If AhZi painstakingly called him by “hey,” “Chief Qiao,” or “Big Brother Qiao,” he definitely wouldn’t pay attention. But when she called him “brother-in-law” twice, he immediately thought of Azhu and his heart ached. “What?” he asked.

AhZi said, “Second Elder Martial Brother isn’t abominable. Because he couldn’t make a move to injure you, the poison couldn’t be discharged, so he had no choice but to kill someone else.”

Xiao Feng knew that among the martial arts of unorthodox sects was the “discharging poison” technique. After the poison was accumulated in the palm, if it couldn’t be used on the enemy’s body, it had to be struck on a cow or horse and kill a domestic animal or else the poison would return to the body. Xiao Feng said, “To discharge the poison, couldn’t he have struck an animal?” AhZi had explained it so casually as if the reason was only natural.

Xiao Feng’s heart turned cold. “This little girl’s temper is so vicious. Why should I pay attention to her?” Upon seeing that the wine shop’s shopkeeper and other staff were rushing out again, and unwilling to create more difficulties, he sidestepped out the shop door and headed north.

He heard AhZi following him soon afterward. Presently he accelerated his footsteps and after a few strides he had cast her far away. Suddenly he heard AhZi say delicately, “Brother-in-law, brother-in-law, wait for me, I...I can’t keep up.”

Xiao Feng had previously always spoken face-to-face with her, and when seeing her expression and bearing, loathing would arise in his heart. At this moment she was calling from behind him and actually sounded just like the delicate voice of Azhu when she was alive. These two sisters born of the same parents had lived separately since childhood, but they had the same father and mother, and even the tones of their voices were extremely similar. Xiao Feng’s heart quaked and he came to a stop and turned around. Through eyes blurred by tears, he saw a young maiden dashing over the snowy ground. It was truly as if Azhu had been revived. He spread his arms and called in a low voice, “Azhu, Azhu!”

In an instant, he thought in a daze of when he and Azhu had returned to the Central Plains from Yanmen Pass together. The journey’s atmosphere had been intimate, charming, and gentle. Suddenly, a soft body pounced onto his bosom and called, “Brother-in-law, why didn’t you wait for me?”

Xiao Feng was startled and returned to his senses. He lightly pushed her away and said, “Why are you following me?”

AhZi said, “You sent away my elder martial brother for me, so naturally I came to thank you.”

Xiao Feng said indifferently, “You don’t need to thank me. I didn’t deliberately help you. It was he who made a move on me, so I had to defend myself to avoid dying by his hand.” Saying this, he turned around and continued walking.

AhZi threw herself forward to grab his arm. Xiao Feng tilted his body slightly, so AhZi grabbed empty air and stumbled forward. With her martial arts, she could easily steady herself, but she seized the chance to act coquettishly and fell on the snowy ground. She shouted, “Aiyo! Aiyo! What a painful fall.”

Xiao Feng was fully aware that she was pretending, but upon hearing her delicate voice, the image of Azhu flooded his mind, and he couldn’t help but sense a moist fragrance. At once he turned around and pulled her up by grabbing the back of her neck, only to see AhZi laughing delicately. She said, “Brother-in-law, my older sister told you to take care of me. Why aren’t you obeying her? I’m a little girl, alone and helpless. So many people want to bully me, yet you take no notice of it.”

She said these words in a lovely and pitiful manner. Xiao Feng was fully aware that she was faking ninety percent of it, but his heart still softened. He said, “What’s so good about following me? I’m not in a good mood, so I won’t talk with you. If you commit outrages, I’ll discipline you.”

AhZi said, “If you’re not in a good mood, I can relieve your melancholy, so wouldn’t your mood slowly improve? When you drink wine, I’ll pour it for you. When you change your clothes, I’ll mend and wash them for you. If my conduct is wrong and you’re willing to discipline me, then there really isn’t anything better than that. Ever since childhood my father and mother didn’t want me and no one disciplined me, so I don’t understand anything...” Saying this, the rims of her eyes became red.

Xiao Feng thought, “The two sisters are both talented in acting. Their abilities to deceive people are extremely brilliant and have really reached perfection. Fortunately I’ve long since known of her vicious conduct and definitely won’t be fooled by her. What conspiracy is behind her determination to follow me? Did her martial master send her to harm me?” His heart shivered with cold. “Could it be that my great enemy is connected to the Old Freak of Xingxiu? Or could it even be the man himself?” But then he had second thoughts. “Xiao Feng is a magnificent man, so how can he be afraid of a little girl’s stealthy evil schemes? It would be better to beat her at her own game and allow her to come along with me. I’ll watch out for any sly tricks she has up her sleeve. Perhaps I can even find out some information about how to seek my revenge from her.” He said, “Since it’s like this, you can come along with me. Let’s make it clear first that if you injure or kill any more innocent people, I won’t spare you.”

AhZi stuck out her tongue and said, “What if other people try to harm me first? What if the person I injure or kill is bad?”

Xiao Feng thought, “This little girl is so cunning. If she makes a move and injures someone, she’ll use dishonest rhetoric and say it was the other person who made a move first. If it was clearly a good person, then she’ll say she made a mistake.” He said, “Don’t bother with people regardless of whether they’re good or bad. Since you’re traveling with me, naturally no one will harm you. In short, you’re not allowed to fight with other people.”

AhZi said happily, “Okay! I definitely won’t fight. You can take care of everything.” Immediately afterwards she sighed and said, “Ai, you’re merely my brother-in-law, yet you discipline me so strictly. If my older sister was still alive and had married you, she’d still be disciplined to death by you.”

Xiao Feng’s anger arose and he was about to loudly berate her, but sadness followed. He saw a spark of cunning flash in AhZi’s eyes. He thought, “Why is she so pleased with herself after I said those words?” He couldn’t figure it out at the time, so he chose to take no notice of it and strode onward. After walking a few li, he suddenly thought, “Aiyo, most likely she has a great enemy who wants to make things difficult for her, so she wants to trick me into protecting her. Actually, regardless of whether she’s right or wrong, even if I hadn’t said anything, as long as she’s with me I definitely won’t let her suffer.”

After they walked several more li, AhZi said, “Brother-in-law, I’ll sing a tune for you to hear, all right?” 

Xiao Feng made up his mind, “No matter what idea she comes up with, I won’t allow it. The more I interact with her, the more advantageous it is for her.” He said, “No.”

AhZi pouted and said, “You’re so imperious. I’ll tell you a joke then, all right?”

Xiao Feng said, “No.” 

AhZi said, “I’ll give you a riddle to guess, all right?”

Xiao Feng said, “No.”

AhZi said, “Then tell me a joke, all right?”

Xiao Feng said, “No.”

AhZi said, “Sing a tune for me, all right?”

Xiao Feng said, “No.”

She asked seventeen or eighteen things in a row, but Xiao Feng didn’t even think before flatly rejecting them.

AhZi said, “I won’t play the flute for you then, all right?”

Xiao Feng still said, “No!”

As soon as the word came out of his mouth, he realized he’d been fooled. Her question had been “I won’t play the flute for you,” and he had said “No,” which meant he wanted her to play the flute. Since the word had already come out of his mouth, he paid no more attention to it. He thought, “If you want to play the flute, then play.”

AhZi sighed and said, “You don’t want this, you don’t want that. You’re so difficult to serve. But you just had to want me to play the flute, so I can only obey you.” Saying this, she took out a jade flute from her bosom. 

This jade flute was strangely short, only about seven inches long, and was pure white, sparkling, and lovely. AhZi placed it on her lips and lightly blew into it. A sharp whistling sound came out. Originally the sound of the flute should be clear and loud, but the sound emitted by this white jade flute was extremely sad and shrill, completely lacking in a cheerful melody.

During this time, Xiao Feng’s heart changed slightly. He already knew her reason and sneered inwardly, “Right, so you’ve actually planned with comrades? An ambush is lying nearby to attack me. How could Xiao Feng fear you gang of rogues? I shouldn’t be careless, that’s all.” He knew that the martial arts of the Old Freak of Xingxiu’s sect were extremely insidious. If he was negligent, he would be plotted against. He heard the sound of AhZi’s flute getting higher, getting lower. Like the killing of a pig and the weeping of a ghost, it was extremely unpleasant to hear. Such a lively and beautiful little girl holding such a sparkling and lovely jade flute actually blew out such a sad and shrill sound. It showed even further how sinister the Xingxiu Sect was.

Xiao Feng ignored her and hastened on his journey. Before long he climbed a long mountain ridge. The mountain road was narrow and could only fit one person. He thought, “If an enemy were to lay an ambush, this would definitely be the place.” Sure enough, after he had made only one turn in the mountain ridge, he saw four people blocking the path in front of him. All four people wore garments of yellow hemp cloth, their apparel and adornment exactly the same as the lion-nosed man he had met in the wine shop. The four people couldn’t stand side by side, so they were lined up one in front of the other. Each person held a long steel rod. 

AhZi stopped playing her flute, halted her steps, and shouted, “Hello Third Elder Martial Brother, Fourth Elder Martial Brother, Seventh Elder Martial Brother, and Eighth Elder Martial Brother. What a coincidence that everyone is gathered here!”

Xiao Feng also halted his steps and leaned against the mountain wall. He thought, “How are they going to mystify and deceive?”

The foremost of the four people was a fat middle-aged man. He first sized Xiao Feng up and down for a long time before saying, “Hello, Little Martial Sister. How could you injure Second Elder Martial Brother?” 

Alarmed, AhZi asked, “Second Elder Martial Brother is injured? Who injured him? Is his injury serious?”

The person in the very back said loudly, “What are you being insincerely courteous for? He said it was you who ordered someone to injure him.” He was a dwarf, and furthermore in the very back, so his entire body was obstructed by the three people in front of him. Xiao Feng couldn’t see his appearance, but heard him speaking extremely fast, so he obviously had an impulsive temper. The steel rod this person held was actually the longest and largest, so it could be assumed that his bodily strength wasn’t weak. It was predestined that he was short, but he was outstanding in other areas. 

AhZi said, “Eighth Elder Martial Brother, what did you say? Second Elder Martial Brother said that it was you who ordered someone to injure him? Aiyo, how could you use such an evil scheme? If master finds out, how could he let you off? Don’t tell me you’re not afraid?” 

The dwarf flew into a rage and struck the mountain rocks with his steel rod, making “dang dang” sounds. He said loudly, “It was you who injured him, not me.”

AhZi said, “What ‘It was you who injured him, not me’? It seems like you’ve confessed. Third Elder Martial Brother, Fourth Elder Martial Brother, and Seventh Elder Martial Brother, you’ve heard this with your own ears. Eighth Elder Martial Brother said it was he who killed Second Elder Martial Brother. Right, he must have used the ‘Three Hidden Centipede Claws’ to kill Second Elder Martial Brother.”

The dwarf shouted, “Who said Second Elder Martial Brother is dead? He’s not dead, and his injury wasn’t from the ‘Three Hidden Centipede Claws’...”

AhZi interrupted, “It wasn’t the ‘Three Hidden Centipede Claws’? Then it must have been the ‘Marrow-Sucking Palm,’ your expert skill. Second Elder Martial Brother accidentally fell for your scheme. You’’re too ferocious.”

The dwarf stamped with fury and said angrily, “Third Elder Martial Brother, hurry and make a move. Take this little sl*t back and ask master to deal with her. She... she... she’s speaking nonsense, I don’t know what she’s saying, what things...” He had trouble speaking in the first place, and now that he was anxious, he spoke extremely fast and was even more unintelligible. 

The fat man said, “It’s not necessary to make a move. Little Martial Sister has always been well-behaved and obedient. Little Martial Sister, come with us.” This fat man spoke slowly and deliberately, and seemed extremely amiable. 

AhZi smiled and said, “Okay, I’ll do whatever Third Elder Martial Brother tells me to do. I’ve always obeyed you.”

The fat man laughed and said, “Then there’s nothing better. Let’s go.”

AhZi said, “Okay, please do as you wish.”

The dwarf in the back shouted, “Hey, hey, what please do as you wish? We want you to come with us.”

AhZi smiled and said, “You can go first and I’ll come soon after.”

The dwarf said, “Won’t do, won’t do! You have to come with us.”

AhZi said, “That’s fine, but unfortunately my brother-in-law won’t agree.” Saying this, she pointed at Xiao Feng.

Xiao Feng thought, “Here it comes, here it comes. This act is nearly over.” He leaned lazily against the mountain wall, hands folded over his chest, as if he didn’t care about anything happening in front of him.

The dwarf said, “Who’s your brother-in-law? How come I can’t see him?”

AhZi smiled and said, “You’re too tall, so he can’t see you either.”

With a “dang” sound, the dwarf plopped his steel rod on the ground and flew over. Both his body and his rod rose above the heads of his three elder martial brothers. He landed in front of AhZi and said, “Hurry and go back with us!” Saying this, he grabbed at AhZi’s shoulder. Although this person’s stature was short, he had a thick waist and broad arms. He looked rather imposing from the side and his movements were extremely nimble. AhZi didn’t dodge and allowed him to grab her. The dwarf’s large hand was just about to touch her shoulder when he suddenly hesitated and stopped. He asked, “Have you already used it?”

AhZi asked, “Used what?”

The dwarf said, “The Divine Wood King Cauldron, of course...” 

As soon as he said ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron,’ the other three people shouted loudly in unison, “Eighth Younger Martial Brother, what are you saying?” Their voices were extremely strict and severe. The dwarf took a step back, fear showing on his face.

Xiao Feng pondered, “What’s the ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’? These four people’s expressions are extremely solemn. They’re definitely not acting. They lay an ambush here, but why didn’t they make a move, but instead they argue among themselves? Could it be that they’re worried they can’t defeat me, so they’re waiting for reinforcements?”

The dwarf said, “It’s the Divine...Divine...that thing.” 

AhZi pointed and said, “I gave it to my brother-in-law.” As soon as she said this, the four people’s gazes simultaneously fell on Xiao Feng, and all of their faces showed anger.

Xiao Feng said, “These people are seriously troublesome. I’m disinclined to pay attention to them any longer.” He stood up straight slowly, suddenly spread his arms and legs, and leaped up over the four people’s heads, vertically flying past them. This was both marvelous and rapid, and the four people neither saw him running before leaping nor bending his knees. Their vision had blurred and the wind rustled above their heads when Xiao Feng was already behind the four people. The four people shouted loudly and gave chase soon after, but in an instant Xiao Feng was already tens of feet away. 

Suddenly with a fierce “hu” sound, a heavy weapon was thrown at his back. Xiao Feng didn’t need to turn his head to know that someone had thrown a steel rod at him. He stretched his left hand behind his back and caught the steel rod. The four people shouted loudly and angrily, and another two steel rods landed in his hand. The weight was already a hundred and sixty or seventy catties, but Xiao Feng didn’t slow down in the slightest. With a “hu” sound, another steel rod was thrown at him. The sound of this steel rod flying was the loudest, so obviously it was the heaviest and probably thrown by the dwarf. Xiao Feng thought, “These barbarians can’t tell good from bad. I must show them what’s formidable.”

As he heard the steel rod flying toward the back of his head at a distance of no more than two feet away, he stretched his left hand behind his back and lightly caught it again.

It was already extremely difficult for the enemy to dodge and avoid the four people’s steel rods. It was expected that out of the four rods, one or two would definitely hit him. Otherwise, how could they rashly dispose of their weapons? But how could they have known that Xiao Feng would catch one after another like they were nothing? Everyone was both alarmed and angry, and hurriedly rushed over while shouting loudly. Xiao Feng let them chase him for a while and then suddenly halted his steps. The four people were running spontaneously and had trouble slowing down. They nearly collided into his body and stopped hastily, panting for breath.

Judging from how they hurled their steel rods and ran, Xiao Feng had already estimated that the martial arts of the four people were only average. He smiled slightly and asked, “What might be the reason behind all of you chasing me?”

The dwarf said, “ are you? Your...your martial arts are very formidable.”

Xiao Feng laughed and said, “It’s not really formidable.” As he said this, he transferred his energy to his palm and noiselessly pressed a steel rod into the snowy ground. The earth on the mountain road was extremely firm and hard, yet the steel rod was gradually shortening. Before it was two feet from the ground, Xiao Feng released his hand, lowered his right foot, and pressed the steel rod down to the very bottom flat surface. 

Of the four people, some of them had opened their eyes wide, and some of them had opened their mouths wide, unable to close them again.

One after the other, Xiao Feng pressed two more steel rods into the snowy ground. When he was about to insert the fourth steel rod, the dwarf leaped forward and shouted, “Don’t touch my weapon!”

Xiao Feng laughed and said, “Fine, I’ll return it to you!” He raised the steel rod in his right hand, aimed at the mountain wall, and thrust with force. With a “dang” sound, it was inserted straight into the mountain wall. The steel rod was about eight feet long, and five feet had been inserted into the rock. The steel rod had been inserted into extremely firm and hard black rock.

After transferring his energy and actually throwing so deeply into the rock, Xiao Feng felt happy and thought, “These past few months I’ve experienced so many worries and hardships. My martial arts didn’t decline, but actually improved. Half a year ago, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to insert it so deeply.” 

The four people shouted loudly in alarm simultaneously, their faces showing admiration.

AhZi hurried over and shouted, “Brother-in-law, your martial arts of the hands are so great. Hurry and teach me.”

The dwarf said angrily, “You’re a disciple of the Xingxiu Sect. How could you ask an outsider to teach you skills?” 

AhZi said, “He’s my brother-in-law, so how could he be an outsider?”

The dwarf was anxious to get his weapon back and leaped, stretching his hand to grab his steel rod. How would he have known that Xiao Feng had already estimated the limit of his qinggong skills long ago? The steel rod was inserted horizontally into the mountain wall, about fourteen or fifteen feet above the ground. The dwarf’s fingers fell short by a few feet, and he was unable to touch the steel rod.

AhZi clapped, laughed, and said, “All right, Eighth Elder Martial Brother, as long as you can pull out your weapon, I’ll go with you to meet master. Otherwise, you don’t even need to think about it.”

With that leap, the dwarf had used all of his energy, so it was the limit of his qinggong. Even leaping another inch higher would be extremely challenging. When he heard AhZi saying such provoking words, he became enraged and leaped with force. Unexpectedly, the tips of his fingers actually touched the steel rod.

AhZi laughed and said, “Touching it doesn’t count. You have to pull it out.”

In his anger, the dwarf’s martial arts had unexpectedly improved greatly. His legs pushed off the ground with force, and his short and broad body swiftly ascended. His hands actually grabbed ahold of the steel rod. But now his body was suspended in midair, shaking and dangling and unable to get down. He used force to shake the steel rod, but five feet of this eight-foot-long steel rod had sunk into the firm rock. Even if he shook for three days and nights, he wouldn’t necessarily be able to get it out. His appearance was extremely comical and ridiculous.

Xiao Feng laughed and said, “I’ll be leaving now!” Saying this, he turned around and walked away.

The dwarf wasn’t willing to let go no matter what. He was perfectly aware of his level of martial arts. When he had leaped and pulled himself up onto the steel rod just now, he was really just lucky. If he released his hands, landed, and leaped up for a second time, most likely he wouldn’t be able to pull up. This steel rod was his cherished weapon. Its weight suited his hands, and it would be difficult to forge another one. He shook it with force several times again, but the steel rod still didn’t move in the slightest. He shouted, “Hey, you’d better leave behind the ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’. Otherwise, it’ll cause no end of trouble.”

Xiao Feng said, “’Divine Wood King Cauldron’, what kind of thing is that?”

The third disciple of the Xingxiu Sect took a step forward and said, “Your martial arts have reached perfection, and we’re all full of admiration. As for that little cauldron, our sect regards it highly, but it’s useless to outsiders who obtain it, so please return it. We will certainly thank you with a gift.”

Upon seeing that they didn’t seem to be faking it and didn’t seem likely to be laying in ambush to attack him, Xiao Feng said, “AhZi, take out that ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’ and let me take a look and see just what kind of thing it is.”

AhZi said, “Aiyo, I already gave it to you. It’s entirely up to you whether or not to hand it over. Brother-in-law, you should still keep it.”

Hearing this, Xiao Feng had already guessed that she had stolen a treasure of her sect. Clearly, she said that she had already given it to him in order to get him to obstruct calamity for her. Presently he decided to beat her at her own game. Laughing, he said, “You’ve given me too many objects. I can’t figure out which one’s called ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron.’” 

The dwarf, hanging in midair, answered at once, “It’s a tiny wooden cauldron about six inches in height and has a dark yellow color.”

Xiao Feng said, “Mm, isn’t it just a thing? I’ve seen it before, but it’s just a tiny thing. What kind of usefulness can it have?”

The dwarf said, “What do you know? How can it be just a tiny thing? This Divine Wood...” 

He was going to continue, but the fat man shouted loudly, “Younger Martial Brother, don’t talk nonsense.” He turned toward Xiao Feng and said, “Although it’s a useless thing, our master...our master received it from his father, so he can’t lose it. Please return it. We can’t thank you enough.”

Xiao Feng said, “I put it aside in passing, and don’t know where I put it. I don’t know if it can still be found. If it’s a really important object, then I’ll return to Xinyang to search for it. It’s just that the distance is too far, and backtracking is too troublesome.”

The dwarf rushed to say, “It’s very important. How could it not be important? Let’s quickly...quickly return to Xinyang to get it.” Saying this, he leaped down, not even bothering with his own weapon.

Xiao Feng stretched his hand and lightly struck his own forehead. He said, “Ai, I haven’t drunk enough wine these last few days, so my memory isn’t very good. As for this wooden cauldron, I don’t know if I left it in Xinyang or in Dali. Mm, or else it’s in Jinyang...”

The dwarf shouted loudly, “Hey, hey, what are you saying? Is it Dali or is it Jinyang? You talk about this place and that, but this isn’t for fun.”

The fat man knew that Xiao Feng was deliberately making things difficult. He said, “You don’t need to amuse yourself. Just return the cauldron intact and we’ll certainly thank you heavily with a gift. We definitely won’t go back on our words.”

Xiao Feng suddenly said in alarm, “Aiyo, this isn’t good. I’ve remembered.” 

The four people asked in alarm simultaneously, “What is it?”

Xiao Feng said, “That wooden cauldron had been in Madam Ma’s home. Just now I set it on fire, burning the house down to the extent that the roof tiles no longer exist. As for this wooden cauldron, after being burned in the great fire, would it break?”

The dwarf said loudly, “How would it not break? This...this...Third Elder Martial Brother, Fourth Elder Martial Brother, what’s there to be done? I don’t care. If master blames someone, it’s none of my business. Little Martial Sister, go tell master yourself. I don’t care.”

AhZi laughed and said, “I remember that it didn’t seem to be in Madam Ma’s home. Elder Martial Brothers, Little Sister takes her leave. You can discuss with my brother-in-law.” Saying this, she tilted her body, and in a flash she rushed in front of Xiao Feng.

Xiao Feng turned around and spread his arms to block the four people. He said, “If you tell me clearly the uses and origins of the ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’, maybe I can help you search for it. Otherwise, forgive me for not accompanying you.”

The dwarf continuously rubbed his hands and said, “Third Senior Martial Brother, we have no choice and can only tell him, right?”

The fat man said, “Fine, I’ll tell you...”

Xiao Feng’s figure suddenly flashed, and he leaped to the dwarf’s side. He reached and propped his hand below his internal organs and said, “Let’s talk up there. I’ll only listen to you and not to him.” He knew that the fat man appeared to be honest and considerate, but he was actually extremely cunning and wouldn’t say half a sentence of truth. On the contrary, the dwarf had a straightforward heart and a fast mouth, and wouldn’t lie. He grabbed the dwarf’s body and ran up the mountain wall. The mountain wall was extremely precipitous, and originally it wouldn’t have been possible to climb up. But Xiao Feng summoned his qi and climbed straight up, rushing up more than a hundred feet in one breath. He saw a protruding rock and placed the dwarf on the rock. Pressing one foot on the rock and one foot high in the air, he said, “Tell me!”

The dwarf’s body was in midair, and when he looked downward, he couldn’t help but feel dizzy. He said hurriedly, “Hurry...hurry and put me down.”

Xiao Feng smiled and said, “Jump down yourself.”

The dwarf said, “I’m Chuchenzi.”

Xiao Feng smiled slightly and thought, “This name is quite elegant, but what a pity that your stature doesn’t seem to be very well-matched with that of your martial brothers.” He said, “I’ll be leaving now. I’m sure we’ll meet again someday.”

Chuchenzi said loudly, “You can’t, you can’t, aiyo, I’ll...I’ll fall to my death.” He pressed his hands against the mountain wall and secretly circulated his internal energy, wanting to grab onto the rock. But his hands were slippery, so how could he hold on? Although his martial arts weren’t weak, he was at high elevation and surrounded by air on three sides, so he couldn’t help being alarmed.

Xiao Feng said, “Hurry and tell me what’s the usefulness of the ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron!’ If you don’t tell me, then I’ll descend.” 

Chuchenzi said hurriedly, “Do I have no choice but to say it?”

Xiao Feng said, “It’s fine if you don’t say it. Goodbye then.”

Chuchenzi pulled on his sleeve and said, “I’ll say it, I’ll say it. This ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’ is one of the three treasures of my sect and is used to practice the “Great Transformation Skill.” Master said that as soon as any pugilists from the Central Plains hear of our ‘Great Transformation Skill’,” they would be so scared that their souls would scatter. If they ever see this ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’, they would smash it to pieces. This...this is a rare treasure and extremely important...”

Xiao Feng had long heard of the ‘Great Transformation Skill’, and knew that it was nasty and sinister sorcery. Upon hearing that this was the usefulness of the ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’, he didn’t bother asking further. He propped his hand under Chuchenzi’s armpit and ran straight down the mountain. 

Swiftly charging down this precipitous mountain wall was even more rapid and dangerous than going up. Chuchenzi was so scared that he shouted loudly. He hadn’t even finished one shout when his legs already touched the ground. He was so scared that his face was the color of dirt and his knees were shaking.

The fat man asked, “Eighth Junior Martial Brother, did you say it?” Chuchenzi’s teeth chattered with “gege” sounds, but he still didn’t speak.

Xiao Feng said to AhZi, “Hand it over.”

AhZi asked, “Hand what over?”

Xiao Feng said, “The Divine Wood King Cauldron!”

AhZi said, “Didn’t you say you left it at Madam Ma’s home? How come you’re asking me for it?” 

Xiao Feng assessed her and saw that her waist was slender and her clothes were extremely thin. She didn’t seem to be hiding a large cauldron that was six inches in height. He thought, “This girl is extremely cunning. She follows me like a ghost and is extremely annoying.” He said, “This kind of thing is useless to me. I definitely wouldn’t take it and not return it. It doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. I’ll be leaving now.” Saying this, he took large strides and left the five people far behind.

The four people quaked from his divine might. They hadn’t even decided whether or not to pursue him when Xiao Feng had already gone so far that his whereabouts were unknown. 

Xiao Feng ran over seventy li in one stretch. He found a restaurant and drank wine and ate a meal. That night, he lodged at the Zhou Wang Inn, circulated his energy for a while, and fell asleep. At midnight, as he was dreaming, he suddenly heard several sharp whistles and woke up at once. After a short while he heard several whistles from the southwest, followed by several answering whistles from the northeast. The whistles were sharp, sad, and shrill, and precisely came from the jade flutes played by people of the sect from Xingxiu Sect. Xiao Feng thought, “These people are nearby. I don’t need to pay attention to them.”

Suddenly, two “jiji” flute sounds could be heard from an extremely close distance within the small inn. Immediately afterward, someone said, “Hurry and get up. Great Senior Martial Brother has arrived, most likely having already captured Little Martial Sister.” 

Another person said, “Once captured, do you think she’ll be able to live?”

The previous person said, “Who knows? Hurry and leave, hurry and leave!” The two opened the window and leaped out of the room.

Xiao Feng thought, “Yet another two disciples of the Xingxiu Sect. I didn’t expect that even this small inn concealed these kinds of people. They probably arrived before me and made no noise, so I wasn’t aware of them. Those two people said they didn’t know if AhZi would live. Although this little girl is wicked, I still can’t let her die violently. Otherwise, how could I face Azhu?” Presently he also leaped out the window.

He heard the incessant flute sounds answering one another and gradually moving in a southwest direction. He followed the sounds and soon caught up with the two people who had left the inn. He followed the two people from over a hundred feet away, neither too close nor too far. He climbed over two mountain peaks and saw a pile of flames in the valley ahead. Approximately a foot above the flames, the color was pure jade green, ghostly and eerie, and extremely different from ordinary flames. The two people ran directly toward the flames and prostrated themselves on the ground before it.

Xiao Feng quietly approached and hid himself behind a rock. He saw over ten people gathered beside the flames, all of them wearing hemp garments of the same color. Illuminated under the green flames was AhZi, her hands bound in iron shackles. The green fire shining on her snow-white face made her look extremely strange. Everyone gazed at the flames in silence, placed their left palms on their chests, and mumbled indecipherably. Xiao Feng knew that every evil, unorthodox sect had their own strange ceremonies, so he didn’t pay any attention. He had heard that Xingxiu disciple saying a moment ago that “Great Senior Martial Brother has arrived, most likely having already captured Little Martial Sister.” He saw that there were old and young among the more than ten people who wore identical apparel. Considering their actions and expressions, none of them in particular seemed to exhibit an arrogant manner. 

Suddenly, several gentle “wuwuwu” flute sounds drifted from the northeast. Everyone turned around, and facing the direction of the flute sounds, simultaneously bowed in greeting. AhZi’s small mouth tilted up slightly, but she didn’t turn around. Xiao Feng looked in the direction of the flute sounds, but only saw the shadow of a person clothed in white drifting over. His feet were extremely fast and nimble, and soon he walked up to the flames and blew at it. The flames were suddenly extinguished, then immediately brightened, and with a “peng” sound, soared tens of feet into midair before slowly descending. Everyone shouted loudly, “Great Senior Martial Brother’s miraculous abilities allow us to expand our horizons.”

When Xiao Feng looked at that “Great Senior Martial Brother,” he felt slightly astonished that this person was everyone’s great senior martial brother. He thought it should have been a fifty- or sixty-year-old elder, but it was actually a twenty-seven or twenty-eight-year-old youth. He was tall and thin, and his green face was suffused with yellow, but his facial features were rather handsome. Upon seeing his qinggong that enabled him to drift over and his fire-blowing skill a moment ago, Xiao Feng knew that his internal energy wasn’t weak. But blowing out this green fire, then igniting it again, wasn’t internal energy. He presumed that a unique fire-kindling powder had been hidden within the flute.

He heard him saying to AhZi, “Little Martial Sister, you have quite some face. So many people have been mobilized because of you, having hurried thousands of li from Xingxiuhai to the Central Plains.”

AhZi said, “Since even Great Senior Martial Brother has set out, Junior Martial Sister naturally has quite some face. But considering my patron, I’m afraid your numbers still aren’t enough.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother snorted and said, “Ever since you were little, Junior Martial Sister, you were raised by our master. You have no father or mother, so where did so many relatives come from?”

AhZi said, “It’s just that the names of my daddy and mommy are a big secret, so I can’t just casually let people know.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Then who is Junior Martial Sister’s father?”

AhZi said, “I’d scare you if I said it. If you want me to say it, then hurry and open my shackles.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Opening your shackles isn’t a problem. Hand over the Divine Wood King Cauldron first.” 

AhZi said, “The Divine Wood King Cauldron is with my brother-in-law. Third Senior Martial Brother, Fourth Senior Martial Brother, Seventh Senior Martial Brother, and Eighth Senior Martial Brother weren’t willing to demand it from my brother-in-law, so what could I have done?”

The Great Senior Martial Brother looked over at the four people Xiao Feng had encountered earlier that day. His face showed a smile and his expression was gentle, but the four people’s complexions changed greatly, and they seemed extremely frightened.

Chuchenzi said, “Great... Great... Great Senior Martial Brother, this has nothing to do with me. Her... her brother-in-law’s abilities were too great. We... we couldn’t catch up to him.” 

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Third Junior Martial Brother, you speak.”

The fat man said, “Yes, yes!” He spoke of how they had encountered Xiao Feng, how he had caught the four people’s steel rods, how he had carried Chuchenzi up the mountain wall and forcibly interrogated him, and everything else. Indeed he concealed nothing. He usually spoke very slowly and in a cool and collected manner, but when facing the Great Senior Martial Brother at this moment, his voice trembled, as if a great calamity was ahead.

The Great Senior Martial Brother waited for him to finish, nodded his head, and said to Chuchenzi, “What did you tell him?”

Chuchenzi said, “I... I...”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “What did you say? Tell me.”

Chuchenzi said, “I said...I said...that this ‘Divine Wood King Cauldron’ is one of the three treasures of our sect, and that it’’s...for practicing that great skill. I also said that Master stated that as soon as martial artists of the Central Plains hear of our ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, they would be so scared that their souls would fly away and scatter. If they saw this Divine Wood King Cauldron, they would definitely smash it to pieces. I said that this was a rare treasure and extremely important, thus...thus I asked him to return it.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Very good. What did he say?”

Chuchenzi said, “He...he said nothing and just brought me down.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “You’re very good. You told him that this Divine Wood King Cauldron is used for practicing our ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’.’ I’m afraid he doesn’t know what the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ is. When knowledgeable martial artists hear this name, they would be so scared that their souls would fly away and scatter. Wonderful, wonderful. Is he a martial artist from the Central Plains?”

Chuchenzi said, “I...don’t know...know.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Do you know or not know?” His voice was gentle, but such an unyielding and irascible person like Chuchenzi was so scared that it seemed as if his soul had left his body. 

Teeth chattering with “gege” sounds, he said, “I... gege... I... gege... don’t... don’t... know... gege... know... gege... know.” These “gege” sounds were from his upper teeth and lower teeth striking against each other, and it was difficult for him to prevent it.

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “So was he so scared that his soul flew away and scattered? Or was he not scared at all?”

Chuchenzi said, “It seemed like he...he...gege...was fine...and didn’t be afraid.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Can you guess why he wasn’t afraid?”

Chuchenzi said, “I can’t figure it out. Please...inform me, Great...Senior Martial Brother.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “Martial artists of the Central Plains are most afraid of our ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’. The Divine Wood King Cauldron is necessary in order to practice this ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’. Since this king cauldron has fallen into his hands, then we can’t practice our ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, so therefore he’s not afraid.”

Chuchenzi said, “Yes, Great Senior Martial Brother is brilliant at understanding the enemy. Junior Martial Brother... Junior Martial Brother can’t compare.”

When Xiao Feng had encountered the  Xingxiu Sect disciples earlier that day, he had felt that this Chuchenzi was the most straightforward and honest, so he had a fairly good opinion of him. When he saw him tremendously frightened of this Great Senior Martial Brother, he was quite inclined to rescue him. But who would’ve thought that the more he listened, the more he became unreasonable. This dwarf’s words were contemptible as he desperately fawned and flattered. Xiao Feng thought, “This person isn’t a good man. His life or death isn’t important to me.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother turned toward AhZi and asked, “Who is Little Sister’s brother-in-law?”

AhZi said, “Oh, him? I’m afraid if I say it, you’ll get scared.”

The Great Senior Martial Brother said, “But there’s no harm in saying it. If he’s really a famous hero, then I, Zhaixingzi, will just keep him in mind.”

When Xiao Feng heard him announcing his own name, he thought, “Zhaixingzi! How boastful! Judging from his motion of floating over a moment ago, his qinggong is extremely good, but he can’t surpass Ba Tianshi of the Dali Kingdom or Yun Zhonghe of the ‘Four Evils’.”

AhZi said, “Oh, him? Great Senior Martial Brother, who are the best martial artists of the Central Plains?”

The Great Senior Martial Brother Zhaixingzi said, “Everyone says, ‘Northern Qiao Feng, Southern Murong.’ Don’t tell me that both of them are your brothers-in-law?”

Xiao Feng’s anger surged. He thought, “You’re babbling nonsense, fellow. See if I don’t make you know what’s good and bad.”

AhZi laughed and said, “Great Senior Martial Brother, your words are really amusing. I only have one older sister, so how could I have two brother-in-laws?”

Zhaixingzi smiled and said, “I didn’t know you only have one older sister. Mm, even if you only have one older sister, it’s not strange if you have two brothers-in-law.”

AhZi said, “My brother-in-law has a huge temper. Next time I see him, I’ll tell him these words, and you’ll be in for some suffering. I’m telling you, my brother-in-law is the Chief of the Beggars Clan, ‘Northern Qiao Feng’ whose might shakes the Central Plains.”

As soon as she said this, people of the Xingxiu Sect who had seen Xiao Feng were all alarmed and couldn’t help but say “oh” in unison. The lion-nosed Second Senior Martial Brother said, “No wonder, no wonder. I accept my defeat at his hands.”

Zhaixingzi knitted his brows slightly and said, “It’ll be difficult now that the Divine Wood King Cauldron has fallen into the Beggars Clan’s hands.”

Although Chuchenzi was afraid, his talkative temperament didn’t change. He said, “Great Senior Martial Brother, this Qiao Feng has long ceased to be the Chief of the Beggars Clan. You’ve just arrived from the west, so it may be assumed that you haven’t heard of this recent major event in the Central Plains and Wulin. That Qiao Feng, that Qiao Feng, has already been expelled from the clan by everyone in the Beggars Clan!” Since this matter didn’t concern himself, he spoke much more smoothly.

Zhaixingzi exhaled, and his taut face immediately relaxed. He asked, “So Qiao Feng was expelled from the Beggars Clan? Is this true?”

The fat third disciple said, “Everyone in Jianghu says so, and they also say that he’s not a Han but a Khitan. All the heroes of the Central Plains want to kill him to be satisfied. It’s said that this person killed his father, mother, martial master, and friends. He’s despicable and lowly, and doesn’t shrink from any crime.”

Behind the mountain rock, Xiao Feng heard him recount his unfortunate experiences these past few months, and his heart couldn’t help but ache. Although his martial arts were unparalleled in the world and his courage and insight were outstanding, his reputation in Jianghu was so unpleasant. It was an extremely tasteless feeling to be despised by all the heroes in the land.

Zhaixingzi asked AhZi, “How could your older sister marry this kind of person? Don’t tell me that all the people in the land have died off? Or was she first raped and then married, forced into becoming his wife?”

AhZi laughed softly and said, “I don’t know how she married him, but my older sister was struck by him with one palm.”

Everyone said “oh.” These people were hard-hearted and malicious in conduct, but upon hearing that Qiao Feng had not only killed his father, mother, martial master, and friends but also his wife with vicious methods rare in the land, they couldn’t help but feel ashamed for being inferior, and conceded defeat.

Zhaixingzi said, “The Beggars Clan is strong in numbers and indeed difficult to deal with. Since Qiao Feng has already been expelled from the clan, why should we be afraid of him? Haha!” He sneered, “What ‘Northern Qiao Feng, Southern Murong’? That’s just the flaunting speech of martial artists in the Central Plains. I don’t believe these two fellows can withstand the remarkable feats and marvelous techniques of our Xingxiu Sect!”

The fat man said, “Precisely, precisely, we junior martial brothers all agree. Great Senior Martial Brother’s martial arts are as good as divine. Now that we’ve arrived in the Central Plains, we’ll slaughter ‘Northern Qiao Feng, Southern Murong’ together. We’ll demoralize the morale of martial artists in the Central Plains and let them know how formidable our Xingxiu Sect is.”

Zhaixingzi asked, “Where’s Qiao Feng?”

AhZi said, “He said he’s leaving through Yanmen Gate. Let’s pursue and find him.”

Zhaixingzi said, “Right! Second, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth junior martial brothers, you five failed to overcome the enemy. What punishment do you deserve?”

The five people bowed and said, “We respectfully receive Great Senior Martial Brother’s punishment.”

Zhaixingzi said, “Now that we’ve arrived in the Central Plains, we have many matters to take care of. If I punish you for your mistakes, our power will inevitably weaken. Mm, let me see, how about this...” Before he finished speaking, he raised his left hand and five blue fire sparks flew out of his sleeve, making “chi chi” sounds.

Xiao Feng’s nose caught a whiff of the smell of burned flesh. He thought, “Good fellow, are you not burning people?” The flames subsided, but the expressions of pain on the five people’s faces became more and more terrible. Xiao Feng thought, “This person threw out fire bullets made of sulfur and phosphorous, and I expect they contained poison. So after the flames were extinguished, the poison seeped into their flesh, causing them to be in even more pain.”

Zhaixingzi said, “These are ‘Heart-Melting Bullets.’ After you undergo some practice, your endurance will increase. The next time you encounter a powerful enemy, you won’t immediately surrender and make our Xingxiu Sect lose face.”

The lion-nosed man and fat man said, “Yes, yes, many thanks for Great Senior Martial Brother’s discipline.” The other three people circulated their internal energy to resist the pain and were unable to speak. After the time it took for an incense stick to burn passed, the low groans and gasps of the five people gradually ceased. During this time, the disciples of the Xingxiu Sect looked at the five people gnashing their teeth and resisting the pain with great difficulty. All of them trembled with fear and apprehension.

Zhaixingzi’s gaze slowly turned toward Chuchenzi. He said, “Eighth Junior Martial Brother, you divulged our sect’s great secret and made our sect’s great treasures vulnerable to destruction. What punishment do you deserve to suffer?”

Chuchenzi’s complexion changed greatly, and he suddenly dropped to his knees on the ground. He pleaded, “Great Senior... Great Senior Martial Brother, at that time I... I spoke out recklessly... if you...  spare me, in the the future I’ll work like an ox and horse without daring to complain... without... without daring to think of complaining.” Saying this, he repeatedly kowtowed.

Zhaixingzi sighed and said, “Eighth Junior Martial Brother, you and I are under the same sect. If it was within my power, I originally wanted to spare you. It’s just, if I spare you this time, then who will be willing to obey Master’s orders in the future? Make the first move! You know the rules of our sect. As long as you can defeat the enforcer, all of your wrongdoings will be exempted. I’m ready. Make your move!”

How would Chuchenzi dare to oppose him? He repeatedly kowtowed, making thudding sounds.

Zhaixingzi said, “If you’re unwilling to make the first move, then receive my move!”

Chuchenzi shouted loudly, stooped to pick up two big rocks, and threw them forcefully at Zhaixingzi. He shouted, “Great Senior Martial Brother, excuse my offense!” Immediately afterward, he picked up and threw two more rocks. He leaped eastward with “hu hu” sounds and threw two more rocks. Like a ball of flesh, his body vertically rose a great distance. He knew that his martial arts were far inferior to Zhaixingzi’s, but he hoped that he would block these six rocks so that he would have a chance to escape. He waved his sleeve and blocked the first rock and sent it in the opposite direction, toward Chuchenzi’s back.

Xiao Feng thought, “This skill of borrowing energy is quite impressive. This is real skill, not an evil technique.” Chuchenzi heard the wind behind his back changing from light to rapid, so he slanted his body and dodged by leaping to the left. But the second rock that Zhaixingzi had brushed away followed immediately afterward, so he didn’t even have the chance to catch his breath. 

Chuchenzi’s left foot had just landed on the ground when a light wind attacked his back. The third rock had already been pushed over. Every rock that had been thrown over forced Chuchenzi to take a large jump. After taking six large jumps, he returned to being beside the flames.

With a fierce smashing sound, the sixth rock fell far away. Chuchenzi’s face was pale. He flipped his hand, retrieved a dagger from his bosom, and thrust it toward his own chest. Zhaixingzi lightly waved his sleeve and a blue fire spark flew toward his wrist. With “chi chi” sounds, it burned the acupoint on his wrist. Chuchenzi’s hand loosened and the dagger fell to the ground. Everyone shouted loudly, “Great Senior Martial Brother is merciful! Great Senior Martial Brother is merciful!” Zhaixingzi waved his sleeve and a light breeze flew out toward Chuchenzi’s body. His body burned upon contact. His clothes and hair ignited first. He rolled around on the ground, shrieking miserably. But he didn’t die immediately, and the burned stench overflowed in all directions. The situation was horrific. Everyone in the Xingxiu Sect was so afraid that they didn’t even dare to take large breaths. 

Zhaixingzi said, “No one’s talking, mm. You all think that I was too cruel and that Chuchenzi died unjustly, right?”

Everyone immediately scrambled to say, “Chuchenzi’s death can’t even wipe out his crimes. It was extremely benevolent of Great Senior Martial Brother to help him melt his body and bones.”

“Great Senior Martial Brother is wise and resolute, and handled it extremely appropriately without being too lenient or too harsh. We admire you very much.” 

“This fellow divulged the secret of our sect, and caused calamity for Master’s treasures for practicing martial arts. He should’ve died by a thousand cuts and suffered for seven days and nights before being killed. Great Senior Martial Brother gave consideration to our sect’s code of brotherhood. Even upon becoming a ghost, this fellow will be grateful for Great Senior Martial Brother’s kindness.”

“We’ve all committed wrongs. Please forgive us, Great Senior Martial Brother.”

Countless shameless words mingled with Chuchenzi’s wild shrieks. Xiao Feng felt indescribable loathing and detestation. He turned his body, leaped from his right foot, and quietly landed twenty feet away. Even with such martial arts, Zhaixingzi didn’t notice. Xiao Feng was just about to leave when he heard Zhaixingzi asking softly, “Little Martial Sister, you stole Master’s precious cauldron and handed it over to someone else. What punishment do you deserve to receive?”

Xiao Feng was alarmed and thought, “I’m afraid that the punishment AhZi receives will be ten times more wretched than Chuchenzi’s. If I wave my sleeve and leave, how can I be at ease?” At once he turned around and quietly returned to his original hiding place.

AhZi said, “It’s true that I’ve violated Master’s rules. Great Senior Martial Brother, do you want the precious cauldron back?” 

Zhaixingzi said, “This is one of the three treasures of our sect, so of course it must be reclaimed. How can it fall into the hands of an outsider?”

AhZi said, “My brother-in-law doesn’t have a very good temper. I gave the precious cauldron to him, so if I ask him to give it back, he’ll definitely return it to me intact. If an outsider asks him for it, do you think he’ll give it back?”

Zhaixingzi made an “mm” sound and said, “That’s hard to say. If the precious cauldron is damaged, then your wrongdoings will increase.” 

AhZi said, “If you ask him for it, he won’t give it back no matter what. No matter how good Great Senior Martial Brother’s martial arts are, at most you can only kill him. Reclaiming the precious cauldron is a million times harder.”

Zhaixingzi muttered, “Then what do you have in mind?”

AhZi said, “Release me and let me leave through Yanmen Gate alone to get the precious cauldron back from my brother-in-law. This is called using an achievement to atone for a wrongdoing. But I need to be promised that I won’t be punished in the future.”

Zhaixingzi said, “This sounds reasonable. But Little Martial Sister, wouldn’t Great Senior Martial Brother’s face be completely peeled by you? Afterward, I’d never be able to remain as the Xingxiu Sect’s Great Senior Martial Brother. If I set you free to escape without a trace with your brother-in-law, where would I find you? We must have this precious cauldron, but as long as the secret isn’t divulged, the one surnamed Qiao won’t necessarily destroy it hastily. Little Martial Sister, make your move. As long as you can defeat me, you’ll become the Xingxiu Sect’s Great Senior Martial Sister, and I’ll have to listen to your orders and receive your discipline.” 

Only now did Xiao Feng realize, “So actually their ranking is determined by their martial arts, not their order of joining the sect. Thus he’s the Great Senior Martial Brother even though he’s so young. Many people who are older than him are his junior disciple brothers. In that case, these people must frequently fight and kill each other. What code of brotherhood under the same sect can possibly exist?”

But he didn’t know that this rule was precisely responsible for the Xingxiu Sect’s martial arts becoming stronger with each generation. The Great Senior Martial Brother had enormous power. If a junior martial brother refused to obey, he could use martial arts to rebel, and martial arts would determine who was superior and who was inferior. If the Great Senior Martial Brother triumphed, then naturally the junior martial brother would be killed or punished without resistance. If the junior martial brother triumphed, he would be promoted to Great Senior Martial Brother immediately and execute the former Great Senior Martial Brother. The master would watch with his hands in his sleeves and definitely wouldn’t intervene. Under this rule, everyone strived to improve for self-preservation. On the surface, they had to remain calm and collected in order to make it seem like their martial arts were weak. This would prevent provoking the Great Senior Martial Brother’s suspicion and jealousy. Chuchenzi’s bodily strength was formidable. His steel rod was long, thick, and extremely heavy. Although he ranked eighth, he had provoked the Great Senior Martial Brother’s jealousy long ago. Thus he had found an excuse to exterminate him. Members of other sects often practiced to a certain level and then ceased to improve, while members of the Xingxiu Sect didn’t dare to be lazy for even half a day, and were always diligently practicing. Naturally the Great Senior Martial Brother was always anxious and apprehensive, fearful that every junior martial brother would challenge him. On the other hand, the junior martial brothers were always worried that the Great Senior Martial Brother would target them. However, as long as their martial arts were strong enough and the Great Senior Martial Brother wasn’t certain of victory, he wouldn’t rashly initiate a dispute.

AhZi had originally thought that Zhaixingzi wouldn’t harm her on account of the precious cauldron. Unexpectedly, he wasn’t fooled and wanted to make a move immediately. She was now so scared that her pretty face had lost color. Fate had dropped down on her in the blink of an eye. She said in a trembling voice, “My hands and feet have been shackled by them, so how can I make moves or return your moves? You want to harm me but don’t do it openly and honestly, and instead use such a crafty scheme.”

Zhaixingzi said, “Fine! I’ll release you first.” Saying this, he waved his sleeve and a gust of strong energy shot into the flames. A fine spark of green fire separated from the flames like a liquid thread and shot toward the iron shackles on AhZi’s hands.

Xiao Feng saw extremely clearly that this thread of fire wasn’t directed at AhZi’s body. After two “chi chi” sounds, AhZi’s hands parted, and the iron shackles broke. But the two iron rings were still bound around her hands. The green fire suddenly withdrew and then shot forward again, this time aiming for the iron shackles on her feet. After just a moment, the iron shackles burned and broke. The first time Xiao Feng saw the green fire melting the iron shackles, he couldn’t help feeling amazed at Zhaixingzi’s impressive internal energy. When he saw the green fire burning the iron shackles on her feet, this time he saw clearly that wherever the green fire went, the iron shackles would immediately change color. It seemed that there was something eccentric about the flames, and it wasn’t purely related to internal energy.

Members of the Xingxiu Sect praised unceasingly, “Great Senior Martial Brother’s internal energy is seriously exceptional.”

“We’ve never seen or even heard of such prowess. At present, apart from Master, Great Senior Martial Brother is certainly unrivalled in the world.”

“What ‘Qiao Feng in the North, Murong in the South’? They’re not even fit to wipe Great Senior Martial Brother’s boots.”

“Little Martial Sister, now you know who’s formidable, right? What a pity that it’s too late for regret.”

They clambered to continuously make such remarks, which made Zhaixingzi smile. He nodded slightly and looked sideways at AhZi. Although AhZi was clever, she couldn’t think of any brilliant schemes to help her escape from the difficult situation before her. She only hoped that they would speak endlessly and Zhaixingzi would delay in making his move. But the repetitive remarks had been tossed about for a long time, and when they couldn’t think of anything new to say, their voices gradually lowered.

Zhaixingzi said slowly, “Little Martial Sister, just make your move!”

AhZi said in a trembling voice, “I won’t make a move.”

Zhaixingzi said, “Why? I think it’s better if you make a move.”

AhZi said, “I won’t fight with you. I know clearly that I can’t defeat you, so why should I waste my energy? If you want to kill me, then don’t hesitate.”

Zhaixingzi sighed and said, “I don’t actually want to kill you. It would be a pity to kill such a cute and pretty little girl like you. But I have no choice but to carry it out. Little Martial Sister, just make your move. If you kill me, you can become the Great Senior Martial Sister. In the Xingxiu Sect, apart from Master, everyone must obey your orders.”

AhZi said, “A little girl like me will never, ever be able to surpass you. You don’t need to be jealous of me.”

Zhaixingzi sighed and said, “If you didn’t commit such a huge crime, naturally I would never make things difficult for you. much I would like to help you, I can’t. Little Martial Sister, receive my move!” Saying this, he waved his sleeve, and a gust of strong wind rushed toward the flames. A green fire spark shot out at AhZi, as if he didn’t want to kill her immediately, but instead wanted to use the flames to do it extremely slowly.

AhZi cried out in fear and jumped two steps to the right. The flames followed her. AhZi retreated another step, her back already leaning against the large rock that Xiao Feng was hiding behind. Zhaixingzi circulated his internal energy and the flames pressed upon her. AhZi had nowhere left to retreat and was just about to jump sideways. Zhaixingzi waved his sleeve and two gusts of strong wind attacked the left and right sides separately. This caused her to be unable to dodge while the green flames closed in on her.

Xiao Feng saw that the green fire was only two feet away from her face. It came closer by an inch, then another inch. He said in a low voice, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll help you.” Saying this, he reached out from behind the large rock and pressed his hands against her back. He said, “Circulate your energy and strike at the flames.”

AhZi had been so scared that her soul might as well have scattered. Upon suddenly hearing Xiao Feng’s voice, she was really overjoyed, and sent out her palm without even thinking. By that time, Xiao Feng’s internal energy had already poured into her body, so the strength of her palm was vigorous. The green flames suddenly withdrew two feet. 

Zhaixingzi was shocked. AhZi had been meat at the altar, ready to be sacrificed, so he wanted to show off his martial arts and make the green fire hover around her face. He wanted her to loudly cry out in fear and take her life only after displaying enough of his might in front of the sect members. Who would’ve thought that at such a young age, she had such formidable internal energy? It was really beyond his expectations. After Master imparted the Xingxiu Sect’s martial arts, everyone practiced alone. What level they reached couldn’t be known unless they fought enemies together or destroyed each other. Thus, when AhZi sent out her palm and forced back the green fire, everyone said “oh” in astonishment, but no one suspected that someone was secretly helping her. They only thought that AhZi was naturally intelligent and had secretly practiced her martial arts to a profound level.

Zhaixingzi circulated his energy and shot the green fire back at AhZi’s face again. This time, the energy he used was extremely ferocious, and the green fire’s speed was extremely fast. AhZi squeaked, not knowing how the energy that had supported her had already disappeared. She dodged and the green fire shot at the rock, making “chi chi” sounds. 

Xiao Feng said in a low voice, “Send out your left palm to partition the flames!” 

AhZi thought, “This technique is quite marvelous!” She raised her left hand, and with the force of her palm pushed toward the middle of the flames. The green fire immediately broke into two sections. The front half of the flames, lacking energy close behind it, burned on the rock for a while and gradually weakened. 

Zhaixingzi thought, “If these flames are extinguished, then I would be showing a loss in front of all these sect members. How can I prevent this?”

At once he circulated his palm energy and shot the green fire at the rock again, intending to revive the green fire that had lost its roots.

AhZi felt the abundant internal energy from Xiao Feng’s palms pouring into her back. If she didn’t expel it, her own body could even explode. She waved her right hand hurriedly and struck directly. Xiao Feng’s internal energy was incomparably profound, so even though the power in AhZi’s body decreased, if she was good at making use of it and could catch Zhaixingzi off-guard, she could very likely secure victory in one strike. But she was extremely alarmed and the palm she sent out was too rushed. With a “hu” sound, the thin thread of green fire was extinguished, but although she had won, she hadn’t been able to harm Zhaixingzi at all.

Zhaixingzi was startled, he slanted his left palm and slapped, a stream of green flame rise up from the bonfire and shoot towards AhZi. However the flame was much thicker this time, its power relentless, it shined jade green light on AhZi's head and face. AhZi sent out her palm force to resist the green flame and prevent it from coming closer. At once the green flame stopped in midair and remained motionless, the flame advanced 1-2 inches but retreated 1-2 inches. Amid the darkness, the flame was like a green snake reclining in the air, it swayed lightly, its color bright and weird, the ray of light flickered indefinitely.

Zhaixingzi shouted out in a stern voice, his palm force is even more vigorous, two 'chi chi' sound emitted from the green 
flame, two streams of fire burst out from the flame and attacked the left and right of AhZi. The green flame was made of saltpeter sulfur, muscovite and various substances. The mixture was then ignited, it was nothing unusual; under the influence of internal energy it can be turned into flame and used to injure others, its power extremely fierce. Xiao Feng made a tiny movement with his left palm, a burst of palm force pushed out lightly. Two ends of AhZi's belt rose up, one floating and one brushing. The two streams of fire were reflected and shot incomparably fast towards Zhaixingzi.

Zhaixingzi was so frightened that he became stupefied. While staring blankly the two flames had already reached the front of his body. He hastily leapt up, a stream of flame flew under his feet. Two younger martial brothers cheered: "Excellent skill, senior martial brother is amazing!" They had yet to finish their applause as the second flame shot towards his abdomen. Zhaixingzi was in midair, how can he rise up further? There was a 'chi' sound, the flame burnt his belly. With an "Ah" sound Zhaixingzi cried out loudly and fell down. The stream of green flame also returned back into the bonfire.

The crowd of disciples gazed at AhZi, their faces showed reverence, they had the same thoughts: "It seems junior martial sister's power is not weak, senior martial brother might not be able to score a victory. It's best if I don't cheer so loudly." After their Master imparted the martial arts of XingXiu Sect, everyone would train by themselves. Nobody knows each other's attainment until they fight against the enemy or against each other. Unexpectedly AhZi was able to reverse the flame and use it to injure senior martial brother. Although everyone was in awe, but nobody suspected someone was hiding nearby and providing assistance. They assumed AhZi was gifted with innate talent and secretly trained her skills to an extremely profound level.

Zhaixingzi's expression was gloomy. He bit the tip of his tongue forcefully and sprayed a mouthful of blood at the bonfire. The bonfire suddenly became dark. Immediately after it became very bright; the light was so bright that everyone could hardly open their eyes. The crowd of disciples could not help but cheer loudly: "Senior martial brother's internal energy is truly powerful, it broadens our horizons." Zhaixingzi spun his body violently like a spinning top and revolved around ten times. He brushed out his sleeves, the entire bonfire rose up off the ground, a mountain of firewall pressed down towards AhZi.

Xiao Feng knew that Zhaixingzi employed an extremely powerful heterodox skill as he condensed his entire lifetime of internal energy into this attack. The green flame arrived rapidly, it was about to land on AhZi's body. Xiao Feng had no alternative but to send out both of his palm. He smacked two bursts of strong wind towards AhZi's sleeves. Under the  reflection of the green flame, the purple colored sleeves of AhZi floated up and moved outward. The force delivered by Xiao Feng pushed towards the green flame wall.

The green wall of fire was at a standstill in the air, little by little it moved towards Zhaixingzi. Zhaixingzi was greatly alarmed, he bit down the tip of his tongue again and sprayed another mouthful of blood at the flame. The flame expanded and reversed back; however it advanced only two chi before being reversed back again by Xiao Feng's internal energy. Zhaixingzi's face did not have the slightest bit of color. He repeatedly spit mouthful after mouthful of blood at the flame. For every mouthful of blood he sprayed, his internal energy would decrease by a small portion. However before the vigorous internal energy of Xiao Feng how could the green flame advance another half chi?

Xiao Feng detected the opposing internal energy was getting weaker and weaker. It was akin to an oil lamp on the verge of drying up. He gathered his energy and said to AhZi: "Ask him to admit defeat, there is no need to fight anymore."

AhZi shouted out: "Senior martial brother, quickly kneel down and beg for forgiveness, I may spare your life. Admit defeat!"

Zhaixingzi was abnormally frightened, he knew his life would end in an instant. After listening to AhZi's words he quickly nodded his head. AhZi said: "Why don't you open your mouth to speak? You refuse to admit defeat?" Zhaixingzi nodded his head again and again, but he did not open his mouth to speak. He was focusing all his strength to resist the opposing palm force. If he opened his mouth his energy would halt and the green flame would sweep towards him and burn him to death immediately.

The crowd of disciples started mocking and abusing him: "Zhaixingzi, you lost in a fight! why don't you kneel down and kowtow?!"

"Little martial sister is magnanimous and spared your life, are you still afraid of losing face? Open your mouth and speak!"

"Little martial sister tidied up Sect matters today, such a glorious achievement, it’s truly the great restoration of our Xingxiu Sect.

"You conspired against our revered Master and aligned yourself with Shaolin, fortunately little martial sister exposed your deceit. Such a disgraceful bastard, utterly shameless!"

"Zhaixingzi, you stole the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’, yet you made a false counter-charge and accused little martial sister, you must be tired of living."

This bunch of disciples acted pragmatically and took advantage of the situation. They flattered the strong and took advantage of the weak. Once they saw Zhaixingzi occupied a disadvantaged position they immediately became hostile. Just a few moments ago, these people praised their senior martial brother as a great hero, unrivalled through all ages, but now they curse and berate him, as worse than pigs and dogs.

Xiao Feng thought to himself: "The disciples of Old Freak Of Xingxiu have such low moral quality. AhZi has associated with them since childhood, naturally her conduct will be improper as well." Seeing Zhaixingzi’s extremely sorrowful state, at once he refrained from meting out harsh punishment. He withdrew his internal energy and AhZi's sleeves hung down.

Zhaixingzi's expression was meek. His body swayed about, suddenly both his knees softened and he sat down on the ground. AhZi said: "Senior martial brother, how are you? Convinced of my ability?" 

Zhaixingzi said softly: "I admit defeat. You.... don't.... don't call me senior martial brother, you are our senior martial sister!"

The crowd of disciples cheered: "Wonderful, wonderful! Senior martial sister's martials arts are unrivalled, Xingxiu Sect have such a head-disciple, our Xingxiu Sect will be even more renowned under the heaven."

AhZi beamed and said to Zhaixingzi: "The rules of our Sect, the head-disciple has changed, how should the previous head-disciple be taken care of?" 

Cold sweat rain down Zhaixingzi's forehead, his voice trembled: "Senior... senior martial sister, I beg you.... beg you...." 

AhZi smiled delicately and said: "I really want to spare you, but it's a pity, I cannot break the rules of our Sect. Please make a move!"

Zhaixingzi knew his fate had been decided, he pleaded no longer. He gathered his energy to both his palms and pushed out towards the bonfire, but he had exhausted his internal energy. The fire trembled faintly and remain motionless.

AhZi smiled and said: "Amusing, amusing, really amusing! Senior martial brother, where did your internal energy go?" She move forward two steps and sent out both her palms, a stream of green flame spit out and shot towards Zhaixingzi. AhZi's internal energy was mediocre. This stream of green flame was slow and unhurried, it was also extremely loose and weak, but at this moment Zhaixingzi did not have the slightest bit of power to resist. He did not even have energy to stand up and run away. The green flame landed on his body, in a split second his hair and clothes caught fire, amid his wretched cries his entire body was engulfed by the raging flames.

The crowd of disciples praised loudly. They praised senior martial sister's superb power and skill. She got rid of a scum that had plagued Xingxiu Sect for many years. She followed revered Master's decree and rendered great service.

Although Xiao Feng had seen quite a few savage acts in the martial arts fraternity, but AhZi was a young, pretty, innocent and adorable maiden. Unexpectedly she was capable of such sinister action. He felt an indescribable sense of loathing and disgust. He sighed softly and walk away.

AhZi shouted out: "Brother-in-law, brother-in-law, don't go, wait for me." The disciples of Xingxiu Sect saw someone suddenly appear from behind the rock. The 2nd and 3rd disciple recognized the person as Xiao Feng. They turned pale in shock.

AhZi shouted again: "Brother-in-law, wait for me." She rushed towards Xiao Feng's side. At this moment, Zhaixingzi's blood-curdling screech was getting louder and louder, his voice sharp and intense, adding the echoes from the ravine it's even more unpleasant. 

Xiaog Feng frowned and said: "Follow me for what? You’ve become the head-disciple of Xingxiu Sect and become the senior martial sister of this group of people, aren't you contented?" 

AhZi smiled and said: "It won't do." She lowered her voice and continued: "This senior martial sister position is faked, why would I cherish it? Brother-in-law, let me follow you to YanMen Pass." 

Xiao Feng listen to Zhaixingzi's wretched wail. He was unwilling to remain in this place any longer. He quickened his steps and headed northwards.

AhZi turned her head and shouted out: "Second martial brother, I have some matters to attend to in the north. All of you stay nearby here and wait for me to return, nobody is allowed to leave without permission, do you understand?" 

The group of disciples rush forward a few steps, they bowed respectfully and said: "We solemnly adhere to the decree of senior martial sister. Disciples don't dare to disobey." 

Immediately after they praise in succession: "We wish senior martial sister to have a pleasant journey."

"Senior martial sister will achieve victory in a single move."

"Senior martial sister possess divine martial arts, is there anything she can't achieve in this world? Our best wishes are simply unnecessary."

AhZi dismissed them with a few waves of her hand. She could not help but reveal a smiling expression on her face.

Xiao Feng gazed into the distance. The great stretch of land, mountain and river, a vast expanse of whiteness, in a distant place a mountain peak had yet to be covered by white snow. He felt a sense 
of desolation. He pondered: "This place, once I leave, I will never come back again." He took large strides, with a screeching noise, his movement on the snow was extremely fast. He saw AhZi doing her utmost to keep up, she wanted to travel side-by-side with him. Under the reflection of the white snow, her pretty face was filled with innocence and lovely smiles. It was like receiving some new fascinating doll or some delicious candy. If he did not personally witness the scene just now, who would believe she could kill her own senior martial brother and obtain the title of head-disciple of the number one demonic sect under heaven. Xiao Feng sighed softly, he felt everything was dull and tasteless in this mundane world.

AhZi ask: "Brother-in-law, many thanks for your help just now! Why did you sigh? I am too naughty?" 

Xiao Feng said: "You are not naughty, you are simply too ruthless and frightening. Even for adult man, this kind of act is unthinkable, you are just a young girl, you should not commit such a merciless act." 

AhZi said in surprise: "Why ask a question when you already know the answer, or are you really not aware of it?" She inclined her head and looked at Xiao Feng, a curious expression written on her face. 

Xiao Feng said: "Aware of what?"

AhZi said: "This is really strange, how come you are not aware? My senior martial sister position is fake, you earned it for me. They simply can't discern the truth. If I don't kill him, eventually he will see through the guise. At that time you might not be at my side, I will surely die by his hands. Since I want to survive, I must kill him."

Xiao Feng said: "Fine! Then why are you so determined to follow me to Yanmen Pass?" 

AhZi said: "Brother-in-law, let me be honest with you, ok? Will you hear me out?" 

Xiao Feng pondered: "Oh, so you have not been honest with me all this time, now you finally admit it." He said: "Good, I was afraid that you are not honest with me." 

AhZi chuckled a few times, she held onto his arm and said: "You are afraid of me?" 

Xiao Feng sighed and said: "There are many things I am afraid of from you- afraid you might get into trouble, afraid that you harm others casually, afraid you commit some weird stuff...." 

AhZi said: "Are you afraid that I might be bullied by others, or killed by others?"

Xiao Feng said: "Your sister entrusted you to me. Naturally I have to take care of you." 

AhZi said: "What if my sister did not entrust me to you? What if I am not Azhu's sister?" 

Xiao Feng snorted and said: "Then why would I even bother about you?"

AhZi said: "My sister is really that good? In your heart you really don't have the slightest bit of regard for me?" 

Xiao Feng said: "I don't look down on you. But your sister is a thousand times better than you, AhZi, you simply can't be compared with her." As he said it, the rim of his eyes turn red, his voice rather sore.

AhZi pouted, she said angrily: "Since Azhu is better than me in every aspect, then you ask her to accompany you. I won't accompany you anymore." She turned around and walked away.

Xiao Feng paid no heed to her, he continued moving forward. However he could not help but feel sadness in his heart: "If Azhu can accompany me and walk on this snowy ground, if she suddenly gets angry and walks away, naturally I will immediately chase after her and apologise to her nicely. No, I won't even make her angry in the first place. I will simply adhere to her wishes. Sigh, Azhu is so yielding and considerate towards me, would she even get angry at me?"

Suddenly he heard the sound of footsteps, AhZi hurriedly ran back and said: "Brother-in-law you are really heartless, you really did not wait for me at all, you don't have the slightest bit of kindness." 

Xiao Feng smiled and said: "You can even talk about kindness. AhZi, who told you about the word 'kindness'?" 

AhZi said: "I heard it from mother, she said we should not be cruel and overbearing toward others, we must be kind and benevolent." 

Xiao Feng said: "Your mother is correct. It's a pity you were not by her side from childhood. You followed your Master and learned a belly full of evil thoughts." 

AhZi smiled and said: "Fine! Brother-in-law, from now on I will follow you. I will learn something good from you."

Xiao Feng had a huge fright, he waved his hands repeatedly and said hurriedly: "Won't do, won't do! What good can you learn from a crude man like me? AhZi, just go! If you follow me, I will be distraught with anxiety. I can never calm down and think through things properly." 

AhZi said: "What kind of things you want to think about? Why don't you tell me? I can help you think. Your character is too good, you will be easily tricked by others." 

Xiao Feng found it vexing yet funny. He said: "You are just a little girl, what do you know? Don't tell me you can understand things I don't know about?" 

AhZi said: "Naturally, there are many things you will never be able to think of."

She grabbed a handful of snow from the ground and kneaded it into a ball. She tossed it out to a distant place and said: "What will you do when you go to Yanmen Pass?" 

Xiao Feng shook his head and said: "Nothing. Hunting and shepherding throughout my entire life, that's all." 

AhZi said: "Who will cook for you? Who will make clothes for you?" 

Xiao Feng was stumped for words. He never thought of such matters before. He blurted out: "Eating and wearing clothes, isn't that easy? We Khitans eat mutton and beef, wear sheepskin and cowhide, everywhere is our home. We are flexible and adaptable, there is nothing to worry about." 

AhZi said: "When you are lonely, who will talk with you?" 

Xiao Feng said: "I will return to my own clan. Naturally I will get to know friends from the same clan." 

AhZi said: "They will only talk about hunting, riding, slaughtering cow and sheep. How can it be interesting?"

Xiao Feng sighed. He knew her words were correct. He remained silent and did not reply.

AhZi said: "You definitely have to go to the Liao Empire? Why don't you stay here, drink wine, get into fights, live or die, isn't that more enjoyable?"

When Xiao Feng heard her words, his chest warmed up, his heroic spirit soared. He lifted his head and gave a long whistle and said: "Your words are correct!"

AhZi pull his arm and said: "Brother-in-law, then please don't leave. I also won't go back to Xingxiu Sea anymore. I will follow you, drink wine and get into fights." 

Xiao Feng laughed and said: "You are the senior martial sister of Xingxiu Sect. If they lose their head-disciple, lose their senior martial sister, then what will they do?" 

AhZi said: "This senior martial sister's position is fake. My life will end immediately once they uncover the truth. Although its fun but its nothing amazing. It’s more interesting to follow you and drink wine and get into fights." 

Xiao Feng gave a slight smile and said: "Talking about drinking wine, your wine capacity is too weak. I am afraid you will be intoxicated just after one bowl of wine. Your fighting ability is also out of the question. You won't be able to help me, instead I’ll have to help you."

AhZi is depressed. She locked her brows and paced around a few time. Suddenly she sat down on the ground and burst into tears. 

Xiao Feng was frightened by her, he inquired hurriedly: "You... you... what are you doing?" AhZi ignored him, she cried loudly, it was really sorrowful.

Xiao Feng knew she always occupied the upper hand when dealing with others. Even when captured by Xingxiu Sect she was still stubborn and unyielding. He did not expect her to cry like a common girl. He could not help but be at a loss and ask: "Hey, hey, AhZi, what happened?" 

AhZi sobbed and sniffled: "Go away, don't talk to me, let me cry to death here, only then you will be happy." 

Xiao Feng laughed and said: "You are perfectly fine. You won't die by crying." 

AhZi wept and said: "I must cry to death. I will cry to death and let you see!"

Xiao Feng laughed and said: "Slowly sit here and cry. I cannot accompany you anymore." He stretched his legs and moved away. He only moved a few steps when her crying stop suddenly, there was no sound at all. Xiao Feng was somewhat baffled. He turned around and saw her laying prostrate on the snowy ground. She was motionless. Xiao Feng sniggered inwardly: "Little girl throwing a tantrum, there is no reason for me to bother about her." At once he left without a backward glance.

He moved for a few li, he turned his head and look back again. The terrain was flat and vast, there were no trees or hills obstructing his view. AhZi was still lying on the ground motionless. Xiao Feng hesitated: "This girl's temper is extremely odd, maybe she will really lie down there and never get up again." He pondered: "I killed her elder sister, even if I disobey Azhu's words, I won't take care of her or protect her, but I cannot anger her to death." As he thought about Azhu, he could not help but feel his chest warm up. At once he turned back and travelled with quick steps.

He rushed towards AhZi's side. She still lie prostrate on the ground, maintaining the exact same position as before. She did not move the slightest bit. Xiao Feng moved forward two steps, he was stumped for words. She was embedded inside the thick snow cover. Unexpectedly the snow surrounding her body did not melt at all. Could it be that she really died? He was startled. He extended his hands and touch her cheek, her flesh was ice-cold. He checked her breath, she was not breathing. Xiao Feng saw her feign death before to deceive her parents. He knew her Xingxiu Sect had a skill known as ‘Turtle Breath Skill’, it can be used to shut off breathing. He did not panic. He extended his finger and touched the side of her torso twice. His internal energy penetrated through her acupoints.

AhZi cried out softly and opened her eyes slowly. Suddenly she opened up her cherry lips and a shimmering blue needle shot out towards Xiao Feng's eyebrows.

Xiao Feng was separated from her by merely a few chi. He never expect her to launch such sneak attack. The poison needle was exceptionally swift and fierce. No matter how high his martial arts, it was impossible for him to evade it at such a hurried moment. He did not waste time thinking, he wave his right hand and generated an extremely concentrated and strong palm wind and chopped back.

This palm contained his entire lifetime of internal energy. The steel needle arrived swiftly within a few chi. In order to use a formless and shapeless palm wind to deflect the needle, the palm force must naturally be shockingly huge. As he slapped out his palm, he spared no effort and slanted his body to the right at the same time. He detected a faint fishy stench. The poison needle flew past the side of his cheek, the distance apart was merely an inch. The danger was simply beyond compare.

At the same time, AhZi's body was pushed away by his palm. She did not groan as her body flew horizontally, with a 'Pa' sound she landed around ten feet away. After landing, her body slid on the snowy ground for another ten feet before coming to a stop.

- End of Chapter 25 -

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