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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 3
XXVI - A journey through the mist walking on snow
Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 赤手屠熊搏虎Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by darksinz
Chapter 26: Killing Bear and Beating Tiger Barehanded
Xiao Feng was stunned, he thought: "I killed her again, I killed Azhu's sister. She... she implored me to take care of her sister on her deathbed, but... but... I killed her!" This shock should only have lasted for a moment, but he was in a trace-like state, and it seemed like an eternity to him. He shook his head, quickly placed his palm on AhZi back, and desperately channelled his internal energy into her. After a while, AhZi moved slightly. Xiao Feng was overjoyed and exclaimed: "AhZi, AhZi, don’t die. I will do whatever it takes to save you!"
But AhZi only ever moved so slightly, and she stopped moving again. Xiao Feng was extremely anxious, immediately he crossed his legs and sat on the snow. He lifted AhZi gently and placed her in front of him. Pressing both his palms on her vest, he slowly channelled his internal energy into her body. He knew that AhZi injury’s was severe, at the moment he could only keep her breathing, and stop her from dying temporarily, and so the energy had to be channelled slowly. After some time, traces of white smoke emerged from his head, and he was exerting himself fully.
After continuously channelling his energy for half hour, AhZi’s body moved slightly, she called out softly: "Brother-in-law!" Xiao Feng was overjoyed, but he continued to channel his energy and did not speak to her. Her body warmed up gradually, and her faint breathing could also be detected. Xiao Feng feared his effort might go to waste, and he did not stop his delivery of internal energy. Only when it reached noon, when AhZi was breathing uniformly again, did he lift her and trotted off quickly. However he found that her face did not have the slightest bit of color.
He opened up his steps, moving fast yet stably, his left hand still pressing on AhZi’s vest, as he continuously channelled his internal energy into her. After walking for a long time, he reached a small town, but there was no inn in the town. There was no choice and he could only travel further north. Only after rushing for over 20 li, did he find a humble inn. This inn did not have a waiter and was managed solely by its owner. Xiao Feng asked the owner to fetch a bowl of hot soup, and using a spoon, he slowly nursed it into AhZi’s mouth. But she only drank three mouthfuls before vomiting everything out, the soup laced with her fresh blood.
Xiao Feng was extremely anxious, and he thought that AhZi’s injury would most likely be incurable. The battle between Hades and Divine Physician Xue was unknown. Even if he had Divine Physician Xue by his side right now, he might not be able to cure her. When Azhu was injured by Shaolin Temple’s Head abbot, although he did not suffer the palm, the experience was no less frightening. Only by applying the mystical ointment from Taihang Mountain’s Elder Tan (Grandpa Tan), and receiving treatment from the Divine Physician, was her life preserved. Although he knew that he could not hope to preserve AhZi’s life, he refused to give in, and thought: “Even if I tire myself to the extreme, and deplete all my internal energy, I must preserve her life to the very end. I am not doing this for AhZi’s sake, but to live up to Azhu’s exhortations.”
He knew that AhZi had plotted against him earlier, and if he did not retaliate with his palm, he would have died by her hands. He had extremely high martial arts, and in the event of danger, he would instinctively strike out to neutralize the danger. He was forced to wound AhZi. Even if Azhu was present, she would never utter the slightest bit of blame, as AhZi created this mess and there was nothing an outsider could do. Nevertheless, since Azhu did not know about this, Xiao Feng could not help but feel that he let her down.
He did not sleep a wink that night. Until the next day, he was continuously using his internal energy to sustain AhZi’s life. The day Azhu was wounded, Xiao Feng only sent out his energy when he felt her breath weaken. However, currently, his palm was inseparable from AhZi, otherwise her breathing would cease immediately.
The second night was exactly the same situation. Although Xiao Feng had strong internal energy, after two-days and two-nights of channelling, he was extremely tired. The two pots of wine stored in the inn had been emptied, and he wanted the owner to go out and buy more of it, but he did not carry much silver with him. It did not matter if he did not eat for a day, however he would be depressed if he did not get to drink wine. He was getting physically and mentally exhausted, and he hoped to use the wine to perk up, he thought: "AhZi must have carried some money on her."
Untying her clothes’ bag, he saw three small gold ingots and a few broken silvers. He took a silver, tied up the clothes’ bag, and saw a purple ribbon connecting the bag to her waist. Xiao Feng thought: "This little girl is very careful, she feared losing her clothe bag. However, with all this stuff connected to her, it can be very uncomfortable.” He reach out and untied the ribbon from her waist. The ribbon was well tied and required one hand. With much effort, the ribbon was untied and upon tugging, he felt an object connected to the other end of the ribbon. However, the object was hidden in her skirt.
He let go of the ribbon, there was a “Pai” sound, and something fell out – it was a little yellow wooden tripod.
Xiao Feng sighed, bent over to pick it up and place it on the table. The carvings on the wooden tripod were extremely meticulous, the wood’s quality was akin to polished jade, and red threads seemed to be ingrained into the wood’s texture. Xiao Feng knew this object was used to practice the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill l’ of the Xingxiu Sect, he was disgusted and ignored the object after giving it two glances. He thought: "This little girl is really cunning, she kept saying that this ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ had been handed to me, but she kept it hidden in her skirt. Firstly, she knew that her sect members would believe that I took it, secondly, it is not convenient to search her skirt, and ultimately no one detected it. Sigh, she can hardly live right now, what is the use of such object?”
He summoned the inn owner, ordered him to take the silver to buy wine and meat, and continued to use his internal energy to keep AhZi alive.
By the morning of the fourth day, he really could not take it anymore, gripping AhZi’s palm with both hands, cradling her in his bosom, he channelled the energy through her palm, and after a while, he could no longer keep his eyes open and he finally drifted asleep. But he was constantly thinking about AhZi's life and death, and after a short nap, he snapped awake. Fortunately while he fell asleep,
his energy was flowing continuously into her. As long as their palms remained connected, her breathing would not stop.
This went on for another two days. Although her breath could be maintained, her injuries did not have the slightest bit of improvement, and so they had to keep staying in this small inn. So how can this problem be resolved? AhZi occasionally opened her eyes, her gaze hazy and lifeless, an obviously sign that she was still unconscious, and naturally she was in no condition to speak. Xiao Feng thought hard but could not come up with any ideas, he thought: "I can only carry her and continue travelling, try our luck along the way. I cannot stay in this inn and endure to no avail."
He hugged AhZi with his left hand, his right hand took her clothes’ bag and held it in his chest, seeing the wooden tripod on the table, he pondered: "Such a harmful object, it would be better to destroy it!” As he was about to strike with his palm, another thought came to him: "AhZi braved countless hardships to acquire this object. Seeing her injury is incurable, on her deathbed I will take it out and let her glance at it, so that she may die in peace of mind, rather than having a gnawing regret till the end."
He reach out for the wooden tripod, once in his hand, he felt something squirm and move inside the tripod. Feeling extremely curious, he examined the tripod. There were five coins-sized holes by the sides. The neck of the tripod had a fine slit, and it seemed to divide into two sections. Using his pinky and ring finger to grip the tripod’s body, the thumb and middle finger to grip the upper section of the wood tripod and giving it a left turn, the section could be spun. After turning a few rounds, the tripod’s cover opened. Peering into the interior, he could not help but be surprised, and somewhat nauseated. There were two poisonous bugs gnawing at each other, one a scorpion, and the other a centipede. The bugs were rolling around and duelling fiercely.
A few days ago, the tripod was placed on the table and there were no poisonous insects. Naturally the centipede and scorpion came shortly after and climbed into the tripod. Xiao Feng knew that this was Xingxiu Sect’s weird technique of collecting poisonous bugs and creatures. Tipping the tripod, the centipede and scorpion fell to the ground. He stepped on the bugs and killed them, replaced the lid on the tripod and kept it in the clothes bag. After settling his bills, he hugged AhZi, running against the wind and snow he travelled northward.
His feud with the heroes of Central Plains was deep, but he did not think of disguising himself. As he travelled north, he got closer and closer to the Song Dynasty capital of Kaifeng. It was inevitable that he would meet with martial artists from the Central Plains. Firstly, he did not wish to kill them out of resentment. Secondly he was carrying AhZi and it was not convenient to fight with them. Thus he avoided the main road and chose desolate mountain routes. After travelling for a few hundred li, he was still safe and sound.
On this day, he reached a town, he saw a pharmacy with a wooden plaque “Generational Confucian Doctors Providing Treatment For Kings". He wondered: "There won’t be any famous doctor in this small town, but there is no harm in seeking diagnosis." Thus, holding onto AhZi, he entered to seek medical treatment. That Confucian doctor took AhZi’s pulse, glanced at Xiao Feng, took AhZi's pulse again, glanced at Xiao Feng again. The look on his face was strange, suddenly he stretched out a finger to take Xiao Feng pulse.
Xiao Feng was angered and said: "Doctor, the consultation is for my sister's illness, I am not seeking treatment".
The doctor shook his head and said: "I think you may be sick, distraught and confused, you are in need of some medical treatment."
Xiao Feng said: "I am distraught and confused?"
The doctor replied: "The girl’s pulse has stopped, she is dead, but the body had not yet stiff. You are seeking what kind of treatment for her? Aren’t you distraught and confused? Friend, the dead cannot be revived. You cannot be too sad, take your sister’s body and quickly bury her, let her rest peacefully."
Xiao Feng did not know whether to laugh or cry, but the doctor’s words were not completely unreasonable. AhZi was indeed dead, but she was totally reliant on his internal energy to maintain her chance of survival. How would a normal doctor understand this? He stood up and turned towards the door.
A housekeeper hurriedly tripped into the pharmacy and shouted: "Quick, quick, I want the best old mountain ginseng. Our venerable master suddenly suffered a stroke, he is on his last breath; he needs the ginseng to hang on to his life."
The pharmacy shopkeeper said: "Yes, Yes! We have the best old mountain ginseng."
Xiao Feng listened to the words “Old mountain ginseng, hang onto life". At once he remembered, as a person was on his last breath, if you feed him a few mouthfuls of ginseng broth, he will be able to hang on and live for a few more moments, long enough for him to say his last words, but he did not know he could also use it on AhZi. The owner took out a red wooden box, carefully pushing open the cover, revealing three finger-thick ginsengs. Xiao Feng heard people say, the thicker the ginseng the better; the deeper the wrinkle on the skin, the more valuable. If it was shaped like a person, head, hand and foot all intact, then iit was of the highest quality that came once in a blue moon. The three ginseng seemed to be common objects, not something remarkable. The housekeeper plucked one of them and hurried away quickly.
Xiao Feng took out one gold ingot and bought the remaining two ginsengs. The pharmacy has utensils for brewing medicine; the ginseng broth was brewed immediately, and slowly fed to AhZi. This time round, she did not vomit. After feeding a few more mouthfuls, Xiao Feng noticed her pulse strengthen slightly, and her breathing seemed a little smoother, and he could not help but feel delighted.
That Confucian doctor was watching at the sides, but shook his head repeatedly and said: "Buddy, this ginseng was not acquired easily; it’s a pity that it is wasted. The ginseng is not a fungus of immortality; if it can revive the dead,
For the past few days Xiao Feng could not leave AhZi for the slightest moment. He was bored and vexed. Hearing the endless nagging from the doctor, the cold snide remarks, he could not help but feel his anger rising. He wanted to strike out with his palm, but as his arm moved slightly, he immediately restrained himself: "Randomly attacking a person without martial arts, can one be
considered an honourable hero?” He promptly stayed his hand, picked up AhZi and rushed out of the pharmacy, he heard the doctor still sneering: "This guy is really confused, running around with a dead person, it seems that he will not live for long!" This doctor did not know that he had just came back from the gates of hell, if Xiao Feng had struck out in his fit of rage, even if ten imperial doctors were around, they would not be able to save him.
Once out of the pharmacy, Xiao Feng wondered: "There’s a saying that old mountain ginseng is produced in the Changbai Mountains along the bitter cold of the land. I should try my luck there. Although to revive AhZi is an extremely difficult task, but as long as I can make her live for an extra day, Azhu’s spirit will be gratified.”
Turning to the right, he headed on the north-east path. As he encountered a pharmacy along the way, he went in to buy the ginseng, and when he ran out of gold and silver, he just strode in and grabbed the ginseng. How could a few pharmacies’ attendants hope to stop him? After consuming large amounts of ginseng, AhZi occasionally opened her eyes, and gently cried out: "Brother-in-law!" During the night, even if he did not transmit his internal energy into her for a few hours, she could still carry on breathing on her own.
As the weather gradually grew cold, Xiao Feng, holding onto to AhZi, finally reached the Changbai Mountain. The Changbai Mountain produces a considerable amount of ginseng, but if one is not familiar with the terrain and the ginseng harvesting art, even if they search for years, they might not find even one ginseng. As Xiao Feng continued travelling north, travellers gradually thinned out. Eventually, all he could see
was forest and tall grass, snow piled high on a slope; he did not see a single soul around for a few days. He could not help but secretly cry out: "Oh no! Oh no! There is snow everywhere, but how to dig the ginseng? I should return to places where ginseng is sold, if I have money I will buy it, otherwise I will just rob." So, holding on to AhZi, he started trekking back again.
At that time the weather was freezing, and snow had accumulated several feet off the ground. It was extremely difficult to travel. If not for his unsurpassed martial arts, as one traveled while carrying another person, even if they didn’t freeze to death, they would get trapped in the snow and be unable to free themselves.
During the third day, the sky became gloomy, and it seemed that a blizzard would strike soon. As he observed the surroundings, he was surrounded by white snow, not to mention that there was no sign of footprints. There was also
no sign of footprints of wild beasts. Xiao Feng was at a loss. It was as if he was surrounded by boundless sea. The sound of the wind was sharp, and it came whistling in his ears.
Xiao Feng knew he was lost, he leapt several times up the trees and looked around. His surroundings were full of snow covered forest. How could he determine his bearings? Afraid that AhZi might catch a cold; he undid his robe and wrapped her in his bosom. Although he had never been afraid of anything, but in these vast surroundings, it seemed that he was the only one left in the world and he could not help but feel frightened. Even if he was the only one left in this world it would not bother him. The world may be vast but it could not trap him. However, in his arms he was carrying an unconscious, half-dead AhZi!
He had not eaten for three consecutive days now, and he wanted to hunt a chicken or wild hare, but he could not see the slightest shadow around. He wondered: “I can’t escape by rushing around randomly. I should rest a night in the forest. Once the storm has settled, the moon and stars would be visible and I will be able to identify the correct direction." He found a shelter in the forest, gathered some dried branches, and set a fire. As the fire burned brightly, he felt the warmth in his body. His belly growled from hunger. Seeing some fungus growing on the roots of a tree, gray coloured and seemingly non-toxic, he baked them over the fire and ate it to alleviate his hunger.
After eating over twenty fungi, he felt more energetic. He supported AhZi on his bosom to warm her with the fire. As he was about to close his eyes and fall asleep, he heard a fierce and loud hooting shout, but it was actually the roar of a tiger. Xiao Feng was overjoyed: "A large worm has arrived at the doorstep; we can eat tiger meat now!" He strained his ear and heard two tigers dashing on the snow covered ground, but he immediately heard someone calling out, it seemed that someone was chasing the tigers.
After hearing the shouts of people, he was overjoyed. He heard the two tigers dashing westward. Immediately he lay AhZi gently by the fire, using his qinggong (lightness martial arts), he pursued them on the slanting road. Currently it was snowing heavily, the northern wind blew strongly, churning and filling the sky with snow.
After rushing over ten li, he saw two brightly-coloured tigers come roaring, followed closely by a large man wearing a beast-hide and carrying a large iron fork. The two tigers were huge. After running for a while, one of the tigers turned around, roared and rushed towards the hunter. That man readied his tiger-hunting-fork, aimed and attacked the tiger’s throat. The tiger’s movement was nimble, in the blink of an eye, it avoided the fork, and the second tiger also sprang towards the hunter.
The hunter’s reaction was extremely fast; he reversed the fork and with a “Pai” sound, hit the tiger’s waist with the fork’s handle. The tiger roared out in pain, hanging out its tail, it turned around and ran. The other tiger did not want to fight anymore and followed suit. Xiao Feng saw the hunter was vigorous and skilful, had strong muscular strength, but it seemed that he did not know any martial arts, only that he was familiar with the habits of wild animal. When the tiger was about to attack, he directed the fork at the tiger’s vital spot, anticipating the movement of the enemy, but it would not be easy to kill two tigers with that one stroke.
Xiao Feng shouted: "Brother, I will help you hunt the tiger." He rushed out and blocked the path of the two tigers. Seeing Xiao Feng rush out suddenly, the hunter was shocked. He cheered and shouted loudly, but he was not speaking the language of Han people. Xiao Feng did not understand what he was saying, and he ignored it for the moment, he lifted his right hand, aimed and strike the forehead of the first tiger, with a “Bang” sound, the tiger somersaulted and fell down, and with a thundering roar, it pounced towards Xiao Feng again.
Xiao Feng used 70% of his power in that previous palm strike. Even for outstanding martial artists, their brain would burst immediately if they received that strike, but the tiger’s head was strong and its bones were thick. This once in a century rock-shattering palm strike only made the tiger somersault when struck on the head, and it even recovered and pounced back immediately. Xiao Feng praised: "Good fellow, hats off to you!” He turned sideways, his right hand slanting from top-to-bottom, and with a “Ca” sound, he chopped towards the tiger’s waist. With this chop, he added another 10% of his power. As the tiger rushed forward a few steps, its footsteps faltered. It knew that it might die and tried to flee desperately. Xiao Feng moved forward two steps. With a hold from his right hand, he caught the tiger’s
tail, with a loud shout, his left hand also gripped the tiger’s tail, and with his best effort, he strained both his hands and pulled back. The tiger was instinctively rushing forward, but because of this pull, the two forces collided and the tiger flew into midair.
The hunter armed with his fork, was currently fighting fiercely with the second tiger, suddenly seeing Xiao Feng fling the tiger into midair, he was shocked to the extreme. The tiger opened its big mouth in midair, stretched out it claws, and descended. Xiao Feng gave a grunt, and pushed out with both his palms. There was a muffled bang, as they landed on the tiger’s belly. The tiger’s belly is its soft spot, and this move "Twin Palm Parting Cloud" is one of Xiao Feng’s proudest moves. The tiger’s five internal organs were shattered. After rolling around for a while, it fell down on the snow and died.
The hunter admired Xiao Feng from the bottom of his heart, killing a tiger empty
handed. He had an iron fork, if he couldn’t even kill the tiger he was fighting, won’t he be looked down on? Immediately he jabbed his fork left, jabbed his fork right, and rained jab after jab on the tiger’s body. The tiger suffered numerous jabs, and became even more enraged; revealing a dense row of white teeth, it pounced towards the hunter.
The hunter dodged sideways, thrusting his iron fork, and with a “Pu” sound, buried it into the tiger’s forehead, lifting up with both hands, the tiger gave a miserable howl and collapsed onto the ground. Exerting his strength in both arms, the hunter firmly nailed the tiger onto the snow covered ground. But a “Ke-La-La” sound was heard, the back of his upper body clothing split, exposing his bare back; the muscles were well-built, and he looked very imposing. Xiao Feng saw him and secretly praised: "Good man!" The tiger’s belly was facing the sky, its four paws scratching and clawing randomly, after a while, it stopped moving altogether.
The hunter raised his fork, laughed, turned around, gave Xiao Feng the thumbs-up, and said a few words. Xiao Feng did not understand his words, but judging from his expression, he knew that the hunter was praising him as an amazing hero, and so he copied the hunter, giving two thumbs-up, he said: “Hero! Hero!”
The man was overjoyed, pointing to his nose tip, he said: "WanYan AguDa!”
Xiao Feng knew this was his name and thus he also pointed to the tip of his nose and said: "Xiao Feng!"
The man replied: "Xiao Feng? Khitan?"
Xiao Feng nodded, and said: "Khitan! You?" He stretches out his finger in inquiry.
The man replied: "WanYan AguDa! Jurchen!”
Xiao Feng knew that to the east of Liao Empire, north of Korea, there is a tribe called the Jurchen. The tribe was brave and skilful in battle, and so WanYan AguDa came from this Jurchen tribe. Although language was a barrier, but to meet a companion in this vast snow sea, Xiao Feng was naturally happy. He started gesturing, signalling that he had another companion, lifting the dead tiger, he walked to where AhZi is lying. Dragging his dead tiger, AguDa follow suit.
The tiger just died and its blood had not yet coagulated. Xiao Feng put down the tiger, cut open its throat, and poured the tiger’s blood into AhZi’s mouth. AhZi opened her mouth and was able to swallow the tiger’s blood. Only after drinking around ten mouthfuls did she stop. Xiao Feng was extremely happy. He tore off two sets of tiger’s legs and started roasting them over the fire. AguDa saw him bare-handed tearing of the tiger’s body, as if he was tearing a cooked chicken. Such hand-strength had never been seen before, and was completely unheard of. He stared at Xiao Feng’s hands blankly, and after a while, he stretched out his palm to gently stroke Xiao Feng’s wrist and arm, his face filled with the utmost admiration.
After the tiger meat was grilled, Xiao Feng and AguDa ate their fill. AguDa gestured and asked about his intentions. Xiao Feng gestured that he was digging ginseng for AhZi medical treatment, and he eventually got lost. AguDa laughed, and with a burst of gestures, said that ginseng is easy to acquire, as long as Xiao Feng follow him, he can have any amount of ginseng. Xiao Feng was overjoyed, stood up, picked up AhZi with his left hand, and his right hand held up the dead tiger. AguDa gave a thumb-up and praised: "Great strength!"
AguDa knew this area and was very familiar with the terrain. He would not get lost even in this heavy blizzard. They walked for two days. In the afternoon of the third day Xiao Feng saw many footprints in the snow. AguDa gestured in succession, saying that they are nearing the tribe. Sure enough, after crossing two hill-depressions, he saw a dense mass of skin tents on the slope of the south-east mountain. AguDa whistled with his mouth, and someone came out of the tent to welcome him.
As Xiao Feng approached with AguDa, he saw a campfire at the front of every tent unit. The campfire was surrounded by women, they were mending animal skins and pickling animal meat. AguDa led Xiao Feng to the largest tent in the middle; he raised the curtain and entered. Xiao Feng followed. The tent had more than ten people sitting around, drinking merrily, Upon seeing AguDa, the crowd cheered. AguDa, pointing to Xiao Feng, gestured and narrated, Xiao Feng watched his expression and knew that he was narrating how he killed a tiger empty-handed. The crowd gathered around Xiao Feng, gave thumb-ups, and praised him.
As the atmosphere was getting rowdy, a Han salesman selling cosmetics walked over, and said to Xiao Feng: "Sir, do you know Han language?"
Xiao Feng happily replied: "I know. I know."
Asking about the situation, he found out that this was the tent of the Jurchen’s chief. The black-bearded old man in the middle of the crowd was the tribe’s chief HeLiBu. He had eleven sons; all of them are competent heroes. AguDa is his second son. This Han salesman is called XuZhuocheng, and he came here every winter to stock up on ginsengs and animal furs, and he only left during the beginning of spring. XuZhuocheng knew the language of the Jurchen, and he became Xiao Feng’s interpreter. The Jurchen and Khitan are at war with each other, but they always admired good heroes. WanYan AguDa was intelligent and skilful, and he had the adoration of his father and fellow tribesmen, and he kept on praising Xiao Feng endlessly. Thus the tribesmen did not bear any grudge against Xiao Feng even though he was a Khitan, and they treated Xiao Feng as an honoured guest.
AguDa gave up his own tent for Xiao Feng and AhZi. Xiao Feng tried to decline his good intentions, but AguDa insisted. Seeing his sincerity Xiao Feng eventually accepted and lived in the tent. The Jurchen tribe held a large feast to welcome Xiao Feng. The meat of the two tigers also became the delicacy of the feast. Xiao Feng had not drank wine for over half a month now. As numerous bags of Jurchen’s wine were taken out, Xiao Feng drank bag after bag of wine, and he was totally unrestrained. The Jurchen’s wine is spicy, the taste is extremely strong, the alcohol content is fierce. Ordinary people would be drunk by drinking half a bag, Xiao Feng drank well over ten bags, and his complexion had not changed at all. The Jurchen tribe measured a true hero by his wine tolerance. The crowd did not see with their own eyes how Xiao Feng killed a tiger bare-handed, but such drinking prowess, even ten Jurchen warrior could not hope to compare; naturally everyone was in awe.
XuZhuocheng saw that Xiao Feng was well-respected, and he was flattering towards him. Xiao Feng had nothing to do while staying in the tent, thus he followed AguDa and went hunting during the day. At night, he followed XuZhuocheng and learned the Jurchen’s language. When he learnt 40-50% of the language, he thought: “I am a Khitan but I cannot speak Khitan’s language and this seemed unreasonabl,” and thus he also learned Khitan’s language. XuZhuocheng had travelled around the world, be it Khitan, Western Xia, or Jurchen, he could speak their language fluently. Xiao Feng was not gifted in learning languages, but Jurchen and Khitan languages were similar and easily comparable. After a long period of time, he could convey his intention correctly, and no longer required an interpreter.
After a few months, spring came, AhZi consumed ginseng every day, and her injury had some significant improvement. The ginsengs dug out by the Jurchen tribesmen were rare and of the highest quality. They were even more valuable than real gold. Every time Xiao Feng went hunting, he was able to hunt a lot of wild animals, and harvest some ginseng for AhZi to eat. Even for a wealthy family, if their young miss ate ginseng every day, the family would most probably go broke. Every day, Xiao Feng would still use his internal energy to help regulate her breathing. However he only had to do it once or twice - a huge improvement from previous situation where his palm was inseparable from her body. Sometimes, with much effort, AhZi could speak a few words, however her four limbs were still weak and she was unable to move. All her daily needs and necessities were taken care of by Xiao Feng. Mindful of Azhu 's devotion, Xiao Feng willingly committed to these tasks. The more he tended to AhZi, the more he felt that he fulfilled Azhu’s wish, and he felt gratified from the bottom of his heart.
On this day, AguDa led a dozen tribesmen to the North Mountains to hunt bears, and he invited Xiao Feng to accompany him, He said: “The bear has thick fur, lots of grease, its paws are delicious, and the bear’s gall is extremely effective in treating injuries.” Xiao Feng saw that AhZi was in much better shape, and so he could go hunting without worries, and he gladly joined the hunting party. Before the sun had risen, the party headed off towards north.
Actually, it was early summer now, the snow had melted, the ground was muddy and the forest was filled with rotten branches and leaves. It was extremely hard to travel, but the Jurchens were nimble, and could still travel fast. Come noon, an old hunter called out: "Bear! Bear!" Everybody looked to the direction he was pointing. There was a big footprint in the distant muddy ground, not far from the footprint, was the bear foot track. Everyone was excited, and they followed the foot tracks and started chasing.
The bear’s footprint was several inches deep in the mud, even a child could track it easily; everyone was cheering loudly and moved forward quickly.
The footprints went all the way west and eventually left the muddy forest, to a grassy plain. The crowd moved even faster on the plain.
As they were dashing forward, they suddenly heard the sound of horns. Dirt was rising at the front, and a large troop of people were galloping over. They saw a big black bear turn and run, 70 to 80 people on tall horses were chasing behind, cheering, and some of them were armed with spears, while some others had bows and arrows. Their expressions were brave and fierce.
AguDa cried out: "Khitan people! They have more men, retreat! Retreat!" Xiao Feng knew that it was his own tribesmen, and he had an intimate feeling in his heart. Seeing AguDa running away, he did not move at all. He stood there and tried to observe the situation.
The Khitan people cried out: "Jurchen barbarians! Shoot them! Shoot them!" There was a “SouSou” sound and endless arrows were shot towards them.
Xiao Feng was annoyed: “Why did they shoot for no reason upon meeting each other. They don’t even try to clarify the situation.” He reached out his hand and plucked the few arrows that were shot towards him. But an “Ah” sound was heard, the old Jurchen hunter screamed as he was shot in the back. He collapsed and died.
AguDa rallied his men to a slope, laying prone on the ground. Drawing their bows and arrows, they shot down two Khitans. Meanwhile, Xiao Feng did not know which side he should help.
The arrows shot by the Khitans were all smackd down by him, and they shouted: "What?"
They did not say anything more and started killing people! AguDa shouted from the slope: "Xiao Feng, Xiao Feng, come here they do not know you are a Khitan!"
At this moment, two Khitan armed with long spears, were riding horses and charging towards Xiao Feng, the two spears were raised and thrust towards his left and right.
Xiao Feng did not wish to harm his own tribesmen. He seized the spears with each of his hands and with a gentle flick, the two Khitan dismounted from their horses. Xiao Feng lifted both men with the spear’s shaft and tossed them. The two men gave an “Ah Ah” cry in midair, they flew back to their original position, fell down on the ground and took quite a while before climbing back up again. AguDa and the Jurchen tribesmen applauded loudly.
Among the Khitan troop, a red robed middle-aged man cried out loudly, giving commands. Several dozen Khitans spread out into two wings, and they came flanking, cutting off AguDa’s escape route. The Red Robed Man was still surrounded by ten people.
AguDa saw that the situation was disadvantageous, with a loud roar, he signaled his tribesmen and Xiao Feng to escape. The Khitans were raining arrows at them and they shot down a few more Jurchen tribesmen. With their bows and crossbows, the Jurchen hunters also shot down ten Khitan riders instantly, but they were too heavily outnumbered and could only shoot and run.
Xiao Feng saw that the Khitans were unreasonable. Although it was his own people, he did not care for them at this moment. He grabbed a bow, and “Sou Sou Sou Sou”, fired four arrows in succession. Each of the arrows hit a Khitan on their shoulder or their foot, four Khitan fell off their horses, but no one died.
The Red Robed Man gave a few cries, and the Khitans came charging with their horses, valiant and strong to the extreme.
Xiao Feng saw that from the original hunting party, only AguDa and five youths survived. They were still running and shooting, the rest of the tribesmen had been shot dead by the Khitans.
There was nowhere to hide on this great grass plain. If the fighting continued, even AguDa would be killed. During all this time, the Jurchen treated him like a distinguished guest, if he couldn’t protect his friends in times of danger, how could he still be considered an honourable hero?
If he went on a killing spree, he could slaughter the Khitan until they decide to retreat. However he would be killing countless people from his own tribe. Only by capturing the Red Robed Man, forcing him to issue an order to retreat, could he prevent both sides from killing each other.
His mind was set. He shouted in the Khitan language: "Hey, you better retreat! I am not going to hold back if you don’t pull back your troops." “Hu Hu Hu” sounds were heard, and three spears were thrown towards Xiao Feng. Xiao Feng thought: "You people really don’t know what is good for you!"
Lowering his body, he sprinted towards the Red Robed Man. AguDa saw him taking the risk, and cried: "It’s useless, Xiao Feng come back quickly!"
Xiao Feng ignored him. He summoned his vigour and burst forth quickly. The Khitans cried out, sending their spears and arrows to greet him. Xiao Feng caught a spear, split it into two. Taking half a spear and using it as a long sword, he pushed aside all the weapons thrown at him. His steps were akin to flying and he was right next to the Red Robed Man.
The Red Robed Man had a beard, his expression powerful. Seeing Xiao Feng arrive, he was not frightened at all. He got three javelins from his left and right guard, with a “Sou” sound a javelin was thrown at Xiao Feng. Xiao Feng reached out and caught the first javelin, anticipating the second javelin, he caught it again. Both his arm vibrated, and the two javelins surged and shot out. The left and right guard of the Red Robed Man were shot down from their horses. The Red Robed Man shouted: "Good skills!" The third javelin was already thrown. Xiao Feng extend his left palm, wheeling the spear head, he re-directed the javelin and shot it back like the wind, plunging it into the chest of the Red Robed Man’s horse.
The Red Robed Man call out "Ah Yo!" and jumped off the horse’s back. Xiao Feng flicked his body, stretched out his left arm, and seized the man’s right shoulder. He heard the sharp wind of a golden blade behind his back. With a single step, he shot forward a few feet, two “Tuo Tuo” sounds were heard, and two spears pierced into the ground. Xiao Feng held onto the Red Robed Man and leaped to the left, reaching the back of a Khitan rider. He knocked the rider off the horse’s back with a single palm, mounted the horse and sped away.
The Red Robed Man waved his fist and tried to punch Xiao Feng’s face. Xiao Feng held him under his left arm and the man could not move anymore. Xiao Feng shouted: "Ask your men to retreat, else I will crush you to death immediately."
The Red Robed Man was helpless, and he could only cry out: “Everyone retreat, stop fighting."
The Khitan surrounded Xiao Feng, wanting to save the man. Xiao Feng used the broken spear and held it against the Red Robed Man’s right cheek, and shouted: “Do you want me to kill him?"
An old Khitan warrior shouted: "Quickly release our leader, otherwise we will dismember you by five horses.”
Xiao Feng laughed, making a “Hu” sound with his palm. He split the air in front of the old Khitan. He intend to use this palm to display his power and intimidate the crowd, so as to avoid unnecessary killing, thus he used the full strength from his hand. However he heard a very loud bang. The old Khitan was caught by the palm force, he flew off his horse and fell several feet away, fresh blood spurting from him mouth. It seemed he would not survive.
The Khitan had never seen such display of air-splitting palm skill. The palm force came out of nowhere. It was akin to witchcraft, the Khitan simultaneously reined in their horses and backed-off, their expression unusually terrified, fearing that Xiao Feng might strike at them with his palm.
Xiao Feng shouted: "If you still don’t retreat, I’ll kill him with a single palm!" and he raised his palm, mimicking as if he was about to strike the head of the Red Robed Man.
The Red Robed Man cried: "You lot back away, everyone move back!" Everyone took their horses and moved back, but they still refused to leave.
Xiao Feng wondered: "This area is all flatland and wilderness, if I release their leader, these Khitan will chase with their horses and we will not be able to escape successfully." He said to the Red Robed Man: "You tell them to send eight horses over.” The Red Robed Man complied and conveyed the order. The Khitan pulled eight horses and handed them over to AguDa.
AguDa hated these Khitan for killing his companions and he punched them, “Bang. He flipped one of the Khitan riders off his horse. Although the Khitan had more people, they did not retaliate. Xiao Feng said: "You set another order. Ask your men to kill the horses they are mounting, they cannot keep even one horse”
The Red Robed Man was straightforward, he did not bicker and argue. He ordered loudly: "Everyone dismount, kill the horses." The men did not hesitate, they dismount and using their sword or spear, killed all the horses.
Xiao Feng did not expect the men to be so compliant. He secretly admired them, thinking: "It seems this Red Robed Man is really high ranking, any words coming from him, his troops did not even show any intention to disobey. The Khitan’s military is so firm, no wonder when they fought with the Song, they have more victories than defeats.” He said: "Ask your men to return, they are not allowed to pursue. If one of them pursue, I’ll cut off one of your hand; If two people pursue, I’ll cut off both your hands; If four people pursue, I’ll cut off your four limbs! "
The Red Robed Man was so furious that his beard flared, but as he was the hostage, there was nothing he could do, he could only order: "Everyone go back, gather our men and horses, and destroy the Jurchen nests!”
All the warriors said in unison: "Yes, sir! " and they bowed together.
Xiao Feng reined in the horse, waited for AguDa and the five men to mount their horses, and they sped off east and retrace their previous route. After riding for countless li, Xiao Feng saw that the Khitan really did not pursue. He jumped to another mount and let the Red Robed Man ride on a horse by himself.
The eight of them rode non-stop until they reached their big camp. AguDa reported to his father HeLiBu on how they met the enemy, how they got rescued by Xiao Feng, and how they captured the Khitan's leader. HeLiBu said happily: "Well done, bring forward that Khitan dog."
The Red Robed Man entered the tent, his expression still mighty and powerful, upright and unyielding. HeLiBu knew that he was a Khitan noble and asked: “What is your name? What is your position in Liao Kingdom?"
The man proudly said: "I am not captured by you, are you fit to ask me?" Khitan and Jurchen have the same practice, the enemy will be enslaved to his captor.
HeLiBu laughed and said: "Well said!"
The Red Robed Man walk towards Xiao Feng, bending his right knee he knelt down, prostrate before him and said: "Master, you really are an amazing hero, I cannot defeat you, even though I have more men, I still lost. Being captured by you, I have no complaints. If you let me go back, I will offer you 50 liang gold, 500 liang silver and 30 gallant horses."
AguDa's uncle PoLaSu said: "You are a Khitan noble, this kind of ransom is insufficient. Brother Xiao Feng, you ask him to send 500 liang gold, 5000 liang silver and three hundred gallant horses to redeem himself." This PoLaSu was intelligent and capable, he increased the original ransom tenfold. It was clear he was making an outrageous demand. Based on the Jurchen’s crude lifestyle, the original ransom of 50 liang gold, 500 liang silver and 30 gallant horses was already a huge amount of wealth. The Jurchen and Khitan had fought for decades, and they had never heard of such high ransom. If this Red Robed Man refused to increase the ransom, then they would just accept the original amount which was already considered a large fortune.
Unexpectedly, the Red Robed Man did not hesitate, he promised: "Fine, so be it!"
One of the store keepers got a huge shock, he could hardly believe his ears. Khitan and Jurchen, there would of course be tribesmen who lie and deceive others, but for a business transaction or when making a vow, one will always honour his words, they will never take it back. Moreover this was a ransom, if the Khitan did not have sufficient money, or he regretted his words, this Red Robed Man will not be able to return to his tribe. Thus empty promises were totally ineffective. PoLaSu was afraid that after being captured he got shocked to the extreme and was in a confused state, he said: "Hello, did you listen clearly? I am talking about 500 liang gold, 5000 liang silver and three hundred gallant horses?"
The Red Robed Man had an air of arrogance, and he coldly said: "500 liang gold, 5000 liang silver and three hundred gallant horse. How is this significant? My great Liao Kingdom is wealthier than the rest of the world, this meagre sum means nothing in our eyes.” He turned to Xiao Feng, his expression became respectful and said: "Master, I will only listen to your bidding, I will no longer care about the words of others."
PoLaSu said: "Brother Xiao Feng, you ask him, what is his official position in Liao Kingdom?"
Before Xiao Feng could ask, the person replied: "Master, if you are determined to ask my origin, I will fabricate something to cheat you, you will not be able to separate the truth from the lies. However, you are an honourable hero, I am also an honourable hero, I do not want to lie to you, and thus you need not ask anymore."
Xiao Feng reversed his left hand, took out the blade from his waist, his right palm strike the back of the blade, with a “Pai” sound, one section of the blade immediately bent down, he shouted in a stern voice: "You dare not say? If I strike my palm on the back of your head, what do you think will happen?"
The Red Robed Man did not panic, he gave a thumb-up with his right hand and said: "Good skills, good martial art! Today I really saw the number one hero in this world, this is worthwhile. Hero Xiao Feng, it’s impossible to coerce me against my will with your physical strength. Just kill me if you wish. Although the Khitan cannot beat you, but our moral integrity is no less sturdy than yours."
Xiao Feng laughed, and said: "Good, Good! I will not kill you here. If I killed you with one chop of my blade, you will not be convinced, lets go far far away, we will battle each other again."
HeLiBu and PoLaSu chorused: "Brother Xiao Feng, it’s a pity to kill this man, it’s better to keep him and collect the ransom. If you are angry, we can beat him severely with a stick or whip."
Xiao Feng said: "No! He wants to pretend to be a brave man, I won’t allow him to pretend." He borrowed two spears and two bows from the Jurchen, took the Red Robed Man by the wrist, walk out of the tent, mounted a horse and said: "Mount the horse!" The Red Robed Man did not cower. He had no doubt that he would die during their battle. Xiao Feng said that he wants to duel him again, but it’s akin to a cat which caught a rat. It just wanted to tease the rat one last time before killing. However he was not frightened, he mounted a horse and rode north.
Xiao Feng followed on his horse, both of them rode for a few li. Xiao Feng said: "Turn and travel westward!”
The Red Robed Man replied: "The scenery here is extremely beautiful, I choose to die here."
Xiao Feng said: "Catch!” as he threw the spear and bow over.
The man caught it, and shouted loudly: "Hero Xiao Feng, I know I am not your match, but the Khitan people rather die than surrender! I will attack now!"
Xiao Feng said: "Wait, catch!" He threw his own spear and bow over, being empty-handed, he gave a smile.
The Red Robed Man was furious and shouted: "You are fighting me with your bare hands, aren’t you insulting me a bit too much!"
Xiao Feng shook his head and said: "No! In his life, Xiao Feng respects heroes, values brave men. Although your martials arts are inferior to mine, you are a brave hero, Xiao Feng will befriend you! You can return to your tribe now."
The Red Robed Man got a huge shock and asked: "What ... what?"
Xiao Feng smiled slightly: "I said Xiao Feng will treat you like a good friend, I will let you return home safely!"
The Red Robed Man just returned from the gates of hell, naturally he was overjoyed and asked: "You will really release me? You... what is your intention? When I return home, I will multiple the ransom tenfold again and deliver it to you."
Xiao Feng was angered and said: "I treat you as a friend, why are you not treating me as a friend? Xiao Feng is a dignified man, why would I hanker after material wealth? "
The Red Robed Man said: "Yes, yes!" He threw down the weaponry, dismounted, fell to his knees, head bowed and worshipped: "Expressing my gratitude towards benefactor for sparing my life."
Xiao Feng knelt down and returned the salute: "Xiao Feng never kills a friend, and he will not accept worship from a friend. If he is a slave, after receiving his worship, Xiao Feng will not spare his life"
The Red Robed Man was even more excited, stood up and said: “Hero Xiao, you claim that you treat me as a friend, but I want to be your sworn brother, what say you?”
After becoming an accomplished martial artist, Xiao Feng joined the Beggars Clan immediately. Seniority and rankings were observed strictly, after the Clan-Chief and Vice Clan Chief, there was the Skill Instructing Elder, Law Enforcing Elder, Four Protector Elders, various Incense-chiefs, Eight-pouch disciples, Seven-pouch disciples, and other disciples in descending order. He could only amass his clan contributions. He did not have anyone to swear brotherhood with, only in Wuxi where he competed in wine drinking with Duan Yu and due to mutual admiration, had he finally sworn brotherhood. As he listened to the Red Robed Man, he recalled that he was formerly associated with heroes all over the Central Plains, till now where he did not even have a proper place to live. He had really become down-and-out. He could not help but sigh, but as he saw the heroic aura of this Red Robed Man, who could also be considered a good brave man, he replied: "Very good, very good, Xiao Feng is 31 years old this year. Respected brother, how old are you?"
The man laughed: "I am called YeLu Ji. Benefactor, I am older than you by 13-years."
Xiao Feng said: “Elder Brother, how can you address your little brother as benefactor? You are the elder brother, please accept my respect." As he said this, he paid his respect. YeLu Ji quickly returned the courtesy.
Both of them inserted three arrows into the ground, lit the arrow tail feathers to represent incense, worshipped eight times to heaven, and they became sworn brothers.
Yelu Ji was extremely happy and said: "Brother, you surname is Xiao, it may be similar to our Khitan people."
Xiao Feng said: "I will not hide the truth from elder brother, little brother is a Khitan." As he said this, he undid his robes, revealing the green wolf-head tattoo on his chest.
Yelu Ji saw it and rejoiced: "Really good, you descended from the previous generation of our Khitan tribe. Brother, the Jurchen land is cold and harsh, why don’t you follow me and return to our capital, we will enjoy the riches together."
Xiao Feng said: "I thank elder brother for his good intentions, but younger brother has always been poor and lowly, the rich life does not suit me. Little brother is currently residing with the Jurchen, hunting and drinking wine, I am carefree and happy. In the future, if I miss brother, I will naturally go to Liao Kingdom and pay you a visit." He and AhZi have been separated for a long time, he was worried about her injuries, and said: “Brother, please go back early to avoid worrying your family and subordinates." Both of them paid their respect and parted with each other.
Xiao Feng turned his horse around, and he was greeted by a dozen tribesmen led by AguDa. AguDa saw that Xiao Feng had not returned after going out for a long time. Fearing a devious trick of the Red Robed Man, he brought his men and came to assist. Xiao Feng narrated that he had released him back to Liao Kingdom. AguDa was also a great and wise hero, seeing Xiao Feng valued human ties more than material wealth and also being open-minded and generous, he could only marvel at Xiao Feng’s character.
One day, Xiao Feng, AhZi and AguDa were engaged in idle chat, they talked about the origins of AhZi’s injury. Xiao Feng knew that the injury was mistakenly inflicted by his palm force, although her life was sustained by ginseng, her injury still did not recover after such a long time and this was extremely worrying. AguDa said: “Brother Xiao, it seems your sister suffered external injuries, for bruises and falls, we Jurchen have always been using a medicine mixture of tiger tendon, tiger bones and bear gall, and it is efficacious, why don’t we try it?"
Xiao Feng was extremely happy and said: "We do not have anything, but for tiger tendon and tiger bone, we have the most. As for bear gall, I can try to kill a bear for it." Immediately he asked about the medicine formula. He mixed the tiger tendon and tiger bone into a cream, and fed it to AhZi.
One early morning, Xiao Feng went alone into the remote mountains to hunt bears. As he was hunting alone, he could freely execute his lightness martial arts (qinggong), and this was much more convenient than following a hunting party. During the first day, he did not spot any black bear but he hunted one on the second day. He removed the bear gall, ran back to camp, and fed it to AhZI. Tiger tendons, tiger bones, bear gall, all these ingredients are hard to find. Although Divine Physician Xue possessed amazing medical knowledge, there was a limit to how much medicine he could prescribe. It was really beyond his financial ability to prescribe old mountain ginseng to be eaten for meals, and to be like Xiao Feng, finding one or two bear galls everyday to feed AhZi; it was really difficult to accomplish.
This day, Xiao Feng was at the tent’s entrance concocting the tiger bone paste, a Jurchen hurriedly came over and said: "Brother Xiao, a dozen Khitan came bearing gifts for you." Xiao Feng nodded, he knew it was gifted by his sworn brother Yelu Ji. He heard the trampling of horses hooves, one line of horses slowly came over, the horsebacks packed full of items.
The Khitan captain listened to Yelu Ji’s description of Xiao Feng's appearance. As soon as he saw Xiao Feng, he leaped off the horse and knelt down before him and said: "After parting with Master Xiao, my Lord missed you terribly. He ordered subordinate to deliver these gifts, and he invites Master Xiao to stay in Liao capital" He gave a few kowtows, presented the gift list with both hands, looking extremely respectful.
Xiao Feng received the gift list, smiled and said: "Thank you for the effort, please rise!" He opened the gift list, only to see Khitan text, he said: "I don’t understand the writing, I don’t want to peruse it anymore.”
The attendant said: "This meagre gift is 5000 liang gold, 50 000 liang silver, 2000 roll of brocade, 1000 dan of high-quality wheat, 1000 fat cows, 5000 fat sheep, 3000 gallant horses, in addition there is an assortment of accessories and jewelleries."
Xiao Feng was startled when he heard it. There were so many gifts, it was ten times more than what PoLaSu asked for in ransom. He had seen just over ten horses carrying these items, but the gift amount was simply too great. Based on his estimate, it would require countless horse carriages to store them.
The attendant bowed and said: "My master feared the animals might lose their way during the journey, thus we prepared extra cattle, sheep and horses. Relying on my Lord’s and Master Xiao’s good fortune, subordinate did not meet any disaster or wild beasts, the losses are minimal.”
Xiao Feng sighed: "Such thoughtfulness from Brother Yelu Ji, if I refuse to accept, I will be letting down his good intentions, but if I accept, it wouldn’t really seem right "
The attendant replied: "My Lord repeatedly reminded me, if Master Xiao refused the gift, I will be heavily punished when I return."
Suddenly he heard the blowing of trumpets, the Jurchens in the encampment took out their blades and bows, all of them rush out of their tents. Someone shouted: "The enemy is striking, prepare to engage them."
Xiao Feng look towards the direction where the trumpet sound came from, he saw dust cloud gathering. It seemed there were countless cavalry coming towards them.
The attendant shouted: "Everyone please do not panic, all these are Master Xiao’s sheep, cattle and horses." He was using Jurchen’s language to shout repeatedly, but none of the Jurchens believed him. HeLiBu, PoLaSu and AguDa organized the tribesmen, they formed a contingent to the west of the camp.
For the first time, Xiao Feng saw the Jurchens arranging their formation to prepare for war. He thought: "The Jurchens are few in number, but all of them are ferocious and agile. Although Brother YeLu Ji’s men are amazing, they cannot compare against these brave and agile Jurchens, as for the Song troops, there is no need to even compare."
The attendant said: "I will go and greet my subordinates and ask them to stop
advancing, so as to avoid any misunderstanding." He turned around and mounted his horse and travelled west ward. AguDa waved his hand and four Jurchen hunters mounted their horses, they tailed the attendant. As the five men slowly advanced with their horses, they reached the vicinity, but they saw only cattle, sheep and horses blanketing the mountains and plains. 100 Khitan herdsmen were herding the animals with sticks, there were no soldiers.
The four the Jurchen hunters smiled and turned around to report to HeLiBu. After a while, the livestock came near. The cows mooed and the horses neighed, they were making a huge racket that drowned out the voices of every one. That night Xiao Feng invited the Jurchens to slaughter the sheep and cattle in honour of the foreign guests. The next day he gifted a lot of gold, silver and satin to the group of travellers. When the Khitans left, he gifted all the gold, silver, brocade, cattle, sheep and horses to AguDa, and asked him to redistribute them to the tribesmen. The Jurchens lived together as a tribe. They did not own any private property. Whatever an individual owns it is equivalent to the tribe owning it. Even though Xiao Feng was generous, no body found it strange, but acquiring so much wealth out of the blue, everyone was naturally happy. The tribe threw huge banquets for several days, everyone was grateful to Xiao Feng.
Summer passed and autumn arrived. AhZi’s injury had shown some improvement again. As she regained full consciousness, she became bored having to lie in the tent every day, and she often asked Xiao Feng to take her on horse riding trips to relieve her boredom. Both of them rode on the same horse, and she leaned on Xiao Feng’s chest It did not require any effort on her part. Xiao Feng was always accommodating towards her. In the course of this few months, except during a blizzard, the two of them were always out roaming about. Eventually they got bored roaming the vicinity. They took a tent and camped far out and did not return to the tribe for a few days. Xiao Feng took this opportunity to hunt tigers and bears, and dig for ginseng. Due to AhZi’s sneak attack on Xiao Feng with a poison needle, the bear and tiger population of Changbai Mountain suffered a big misfortune. Countless animals had to die by Xiao Feng’s palm for her treatment.
In order to dig for ginseng easily, Xiao Feng had to travel east or north. On this day, AhZi said they had seen all the scenery in the east and north, and she wanted to travel to the west. Xiao Feng said: "There is only big grass plains in the west, there is no scenery."
AhZi replied: "Big grass plain is good, it is like the ocean. I have never seen a real ocean. Although our Xingxiu Sea can be considered a sea, but it has a border and shores"
Xiao Feng heard her mention the three words " Xingxiu Sea", and his heart grew cold. After living with the Jurchen for all these years, he gradually forgot all the events in the martial world. When AhZi was immobilized, there was no one to mess things up, and he focused only on saving her life. But now that she recovered, her viciousness flared up again. How should he resolve this?
He turned around and glanced at AhZi. Her snow-white face still did not have the slightest bit of colour, her cheeks slightly pinched, her pair of large eyes sunken. Her appearance was extremely haggard and her body emaciated. Xiao Feng could not help but feel guilty: "She survived but became a walking skeleton, why do I only remember her flaws?” He laughed and said: "Since you like to travel west, let us travel west. AhZi, once there is great improvement in your injuries, I'll take you to the Korean borders to look at the ocean, the boundless clear water as far as the eye can see, the scenery will truly be amazing.”
AhZi clapped and grinned: "Of course, of course, actually we don’t have to wait until I recover completely, we can go now."
Xiao Feng gave a “Yi” sound, he was shocked and happy: "AhZi, your hand can move again."
AhZi smiled and said: "I could move my hands fourteen days ago, and today they became much more nimble."
Xiao Feng said happily: "Wonderful! You naughty girl, how long did you intend to keep it from me?"
AhZi flashed a sly look in her eyes, smiled and said: "I would rather not move forever, only then will you accompany me like this every day. Once I recovered, you will naturally chase me away again."
Xiao Feng listened to her speak her sincere feelings, his sense of pity rose spontaneously, and he said: "I am a boorish man, I accidentally injured you and you ended up in this sorry state. What good will it do for you to accompany me every day?"
AhZi did not reply, after a long pause, she whispered: "Brother-in-law, why did you exert so much strength when you hit me with your palm that day?"
Xiao Feng did not wish to bring up the past, he shook his head and said: "The incident had long passed, why bring it up again? AhZi, I injure you to such a state, I feel terribly apologetic, do you hate me?”
AhZi said: "I do not hate you. Why would I hate you? I originally wanted you to accompany me, aren’t you accompanying me now? I am very happy."
As Xiao Feng listened to her. He thought that her intentions were bizarre, but her recent conduct was excellent, and thus it must be due to his attentive care which got rid of her vicious temperament, and he went back to the tribe to prepared the horses, carriage, tents, dried rations and other things for their journey west.
The next morning, the two of them headed west. After travelling about 10 li, AhZi asked: "Brother-in-law, have you guessed it?"
Xiao Feng said: "Guess what?"
AhZi said: "Do you know the reason why I attacked you with the poison needle that day?"
Xiao Feng shook his head and said: "Your thoughts are difficult to pin down, how can I guess?"
AhZi sighed and said: "Since you can’t guess then just forget it. Brother-in-law, there are so many geese here, why do they arrange in formation and fly south? "
Xiao Feng looked up. He saw two formation of geese, and they lined up to form an arrowhead and they flew south. He said: "The weather is getting cold, geese are afraid of the cold. They are flying south to take refuge against the cold.”
AhZi said: "Then why do they fly back during spring? Flying back and forth yearly, isn’t it tiring? If they are cold, just stay in the south permanently and don’t come back."
Xiao Feng devoted himself to the study of martial arts, he never gave a thought about the habits of animals and pests. Under her questioning he did not know how to reply. He shook his head and laughed: "I do not know why they are not afraid of hardships. I guess these wild geese are born in the north, they are nostalgic and return home."
AhZi nodded: "It must be true. Look at the last goose, its body is not large, but it is also flying south. Eventually, when its father, mother, sister and brother-in-law all return north, it will naturally follow them back.”
Xiao Feng heard her say "Sister, Brother-in-law". At these four words, his heart was moved, and he turned his head to look at her, only to see her staring blanking at the geese formation. Apparently her words were unintentional. He wondered: "With a casual word, she associated me with her parents, it seems that in her heart, she treats me as her closest relative. I cannot abandon her casually. When she has recovered, I have to escort her to Dali and hand her over to her parents, only then will I complete the task I have been entrusted with."
The two of them gossiped along the way. When AhZi got tired, Xiao Feng immediately carried her off the horse and let her rest in the carriage. At dusk, he set up the camp in the woods. As they travelled for a few days, they finally reached the borders of the grass plains.
AhZi gazed into the distance. The grassy plain was boundless and vast, she said happily: "The borders only cannot be seen in the west, but to be truly like an ocean, the borders must not be seen in all four direction." Xiao Feng knew that she wanted to travel to the center of the grass plain, not wanting to go against her wish, he whipped the horse and travelled west.
Travelling west on the grass plain for a few days, when you look to all four directions, the borders of the grass plain really cannot be seen anymore. The weather was currently crisp autumn. Along with the smell of the green grass, it was really refreshing and carefree. Many small beasts resided in the grass, Xiao Feng could hunt them for food easily and he felt carefree.
After a few days, in the afternoon, countless tents could be seen in the far distance. There were also banners and flags, it seemed like a military camp, or it may be a tribal gathering. Xiao Feng said: "There’s alot of people at the front, I don’t know what they are doing, let's just go back, we don’t want to stir up trouble."
AhZi said: "No! No! I want to go and watch. I can’t move my legs, how can I stir up trouble for you?"
Xiao Feng smiled and said: "Trouble will definitely come, it does not have to be caused by you. Sometimes people just want to provoke you and you can never avoid such a thing.
AhZi laughed and replied: “Let’s just go and take a look, there is no harm.”
Xiao Feng knew her child-like disposition. She just loved to watch rowdy spectacles. He guided the horse over slowly. The terrain of the grass plain was flat. Although the tents could be spotted far away, the route to it was quite far. After travelling for seven li, the “Wu Wu” call of a bugle could be heard loudly, followed closely by a gathering of dust clouds. Two cavalry ranks scattered off, one troop went north, and the other galloped south.
Xiao Feng was slightly surprised, and said: “Not good, it is the Khitan cavalry!" AhZi said: "It’s your own people, it can’t be better. Why did you say it’s not good?”
Xiao Feng said: "I don’t know them, let’s just go back.” He turned the horse and headed back. After travelling a few steps, they heard the “Peng Peng” sound of the drums, and several troops of cavalry rushed forward.
Xiao Feng pondered: "It doesn’t seem like there are any enemy around, are they practising their tactical deployment?”
Suddenly he heard a loud cry: “Shoot the dear, shoot the deer!” West, north, south, the call to shoot the dear was shouted from all three directions.
Xiao Feng said: "They are hunting in the vicinity, their numbers are really not small.”
He lifted AhZi onto the horse’s back immediately, reined in the horse, and observed afar on the eastern road.
The Khitan horsemen are wearing brocade robes, coupled with metal armour. The robes came in various colored teams. Red team, green team, yellow team, purple team, the flag of the team was of the same color. The cavalry galloped back and forth, displaying a strong military presence. It was truly a magnificent sight. Xiao Feng and AhZi secretly applauded. The soldiers advanced and retreated according to military orders. Armed with spears they cornered the deer, they only gave a glace when they spotted Xiao Feng and AhZi, and subsequently ignored them.
Four troops of cavalry surrounded from all four sides and trapped ten deer in the middle. Occasionally, a deer would escape from a gap in the cavalry rank, and a small squad would break off to chase and force the deer back into the encirclement.
- End of Chapter 26 -