Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 29 - Bug Congealing Cold, Palm Shooting Frost

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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 3

XXIX - The despicable matchmaking with a freezing palm

Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 29 - Bug Congealing Cold, Palm Shooting Frost

Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 虫豸凝寒掌作冰
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by darksinz


Chapter 29: Bug Congealing Cold, Palm Shooting Frost

You TanZhi carried the gourd and travelled quickly back to Nanjing, he reported back to AhZi, saying that he had caught the Frost Silkworm.

AhZi was overjoyed, she ordered him to rear the silkworm in the clay urn, currently it is mid-summer, the weather is burning hot, but when the Frost Silkworm is being kept in the urn, the Palace gradually got colder and colder, not long after, even the teapots, cups and the tea water all turn into ice. During one night You TanZhi shivered in his bed, he was freezing and could not sleep, he thought: "This silkworm is really strange, it is rarely seen in this world. If Miss really let it suck my blood, even if I didn’t get poison, I will still freeze to death.”

AhZi caught several poisonous snakes and bugs to fight with the silkworm, the silkworm simply moved around and all the bugs froze to death, the silkworm feasted on their juice. This went on for ten days, not a single poisonous bug was able to resist. One day AhZi came into the main hall of the Palace and said: “Iron Clown, we will kill this silkworm today, go stick your hand into the urn and let the silkworm suck your blood!”

You TanZhi was dreading this day, when he was dreaming at night, he feared this exact moment. Eventually AhZi did not show any mercy and wanted to sacrifice him along with the Frost Silkworm. His heart was dejected, he gazed at AhZi, he did not move or reply.

AhZi pondered: "I acquired this treasure by accident, the poison palm skill I am training now, it might be even more powerful than my master’s." She said: “Stick your hand into the urn!” 

You TanZhi was tearful, he knelt and kowtowed, he said: "Miss, when you have mastered this poison palm, please don’t forget your subordinate who died for you. My surname is You, my name is TanZhi, I am not Iron Clown." 

AhZi smiled and said: “Fine, you are called You TanZhi, I will remember it, you are very loyal to me, very good, you are a loyal and devoted lackey!”

You TanZhi listened to her praise, he felt comforted, he gave another two kowtows and said: "Thank you Miss!" but he was not willing to give up without a fight. Immediately he flipped his body upside down, his head went between his legs, his left hand clutched his leg, right hand reached into the urn, in his mind he was thinking about the small arrowheads on the two words beside the monk in the book’s drawing. Suddenly he felt an itch on his index finger, a stream of cold energy shot out like an arrow; it started from his arm and swiftly went to his chest. You TanZhi kept thinking about the direction of the small arrowheads, the stream of cold energy followed the meridian path directed by his thoughts. It went from his finger to his arm, and from his chest to the top of his head, the cold energy chilled him to his bones wherever it went.

AhZi saw his strange posture, she found it funny. After a long time, he still maintained the posture, she became curious and approached his body. The Frost Silkworm was still biting his index finger. The Frost Silkworm’s body was transparent like crystal, she saw a thread of blood entering its mouth, it passed by its left body, made a U-turn, and pass by its right body and back to its mouth, flowing back into You TanZhi index finger.

After a while, a thin layer of frost formed on You TanZhi’s iron mask, clothes and limbs. AhZi pondered: "He must be dead. A living person will have body heat, how can frost form on him?" But she saw blood still circulating within the Frost Silkworm, apparently it was still sucking blood. Suddenly, wisps of hot steam issued from the Frost Silkworm.

In the midst of her surprise, there was a gentle clattering sound; the Frost Silkworm fell off You TanZhi index finger. AhZi had already prepared a stick, she rammed down hard. She thought this super natural Frost Silkworm would not die with this one stroke, but who knew that when it fell into the urn, its belly faced the sky, it just stayed there and did not turn around. The silkworm was pounded into pulp in one move.

AhZi rejoiced and quickly stuck her hand into the urn, she stuffed the silkworm’s fluid and blood onto both her palms, closed her eyes, circulated her energy and absorbed all the blood and fluids.

She channeled for half a day, stretched out her hands and stood up. She saw You TanZhi was still upside down, his head between his legs, his body covered with frost. She was extremely astonished, she reached out and touched his body, his 
hands emitted a strange coldness, his clothes frozen stiff. She was shocked but found it funny at the same time. She summoned the attendant and ordered him to bury You TanZhi.

The attendant led a few Khitan soldiers and they put You TanZhi’s corpse on a horse carriage; they went outside the city. AhZi did not instruct them to give him a proper burial, thus the attendant did not bother to dig a grave and simply threw the corpse into a small brook. They went back to the city.

This act of laziness from the attendant actually saved You TanZhi’s life. When You TanZhi was bitten by the silkworm, he immediately used the energy circulation method from the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’. The poison gas was neutralized; his blood was sucked by the Frost Silkworm and returned back into his finger and the deadly ‘Frost Poison’ of the silkworm was absorbed by him. Thus, the blood and fluids absorbed by AhZi were completely ineffective and she wasted her effort. If You TanZhi had completely mastered the energy circulation method of ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’, he would be able to slowly neutralize the ‘Frost Poison’ absorbed by him and greatly increase his internal energy; but he only learned one method, thus he couldn’t expel the poison. The strange ‘Frost Poison’ was the number one most Yin and cold element in the world; it immediately froze his body solid.

If the attendant really buried him in the soil, even after a few hundred years, he might not defrost and he might not actually die. Currently his body was submerged in water, it slowly flowed downwards. After around 10 li, the creek made a turn and his body was trapped by reeds at the side. After a while, the water surrounding his body all turned into ice, forming a crystal coffin. Water continued to rush and wash over him, bit by bit the cold air wash away, eventually the ice covering his body started to melt.

Luckily, he was wearing an iron mask on his head. Iron transfers heat and cold quickly, thus the ice covering his mask melted first. Water rushed onto his head and he started coughing, he was conscious and clear headed again. He climb out of the brook, “Ding Dang” sound came from his body; evidently he still carried a lot of ice on his body. Initially when his body froze, he did not lose consciousness, but he was stuck in the ice and could not move. After being frozen for a long period of time he lost consciousness. Now that he safely escaped, he felt as if he just woke up from a long dream.

He sat by the side of the brook, he thought about his loyalty and devotion to AhZi. He willingly risked his body to feed poisonous bugs to help her practice her skills, but when he died, AhZi did not even heave a sigh. Looking out from within the ice, he saw her beam with pleasure and take all the silkworm’s fluid and blood, spread it on her palms and practice her skills. She only looked sideways at him, thinking that he had died in a fun and strange way; there wasn’t the slightest bit of pity from her.

He considered: "This Frost Silkworm is exceptionally poisonous, it’s worth more than a thousand poisonous bugs and snakes, after absorbing the poison into her palm, Miss will naturally master her poison palm. If I go back and see her..." Suddenly, his body trembled, his heart grew cold and he thought: "Once she sees me, she will definitely test her poison on me. If she mastered the poison palm, she will naturally kill me with one stroke. If she has yet to master it, she will definitely ask me to catch more poisonous bugs and snakes until she mastered her palm, until she can kill me with a single palm stroke. I will die either way, why should I even go back?”

He stood up and jumped a few times, shaking off all the ice on his body, he thought: “Where should I go?”

He dared not seek Qiao Feng for revenge anymore. At the moment he was undecided; he wandered around the wilderness and mountains, picking wild berries and catching birds and small beasts for food. During the night of the second day, he felt bored; he took out the Sanskrit ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’, he thought of following the posture of the monk in the drawing.

The book was completely soaked, he flipped the pages cautiously for fear that he might damage them, but he was surprised as he saw drawings of the monk on every single page, their postures all different. After some deep contemplation, he finally understood- the drawings will only appear when wet; he was not saved by Buddha. Starting from the first page, he copied the posture, when he thought about the small red arrowhead on the strange words, he felt a faint thread of cold ice traveling around his limbs and bones, it was as if the Frost Silkworm was alive and crawling in his body. He became fearful and quickly stood up, the Frost Silkworm inside his body vanished immediately.

For four hours he kept thinking: "The Frost Silkworm inside my body, has it left?" But he couldn’t touch, feel or even track it. He couldn’t bear it anymore and started to imitate the odd posture and meditate on the small red arrowhead on the strange words. After a while, the Frost Silkworm started crawling inside his body again. He gave a loud cry and stopped meditating on the arrowhead; the Frost Silkworm vanished again. When he started to think about the arrowhead, the Frost Silkworm crawled again.

Every time, when the Frost Silkworm crawled, his body felt comfortable and unrestricted. The book contained many different postures of the naked monk; the small arrowhead on the strange words twisted and turned, its variations complicated. He followed the various different postures to activate the Frost Silkworm; his body felt cool yet warm, he was comfortable and at ease.
Time flew and a few month passed. When capturing beasts he felt his hands and feet becoming lighter and more nimble; he leapt and jumped further, his running speed greatly exceeded what he was capable of in the past.

On a certain evening, a hungry wolf came out to hunt for food, it pounced towards him. You TanZhi was shocked and fled quickly. The claws of the wolf had already reached his shoulders, it exposed its fangs and bit towards his throat. He panicked and randomly threw out a palm, hitting the wolf on the top of its head. The wolf rolled and twisted a few times and stopped moving. You TanZhi turned around and moved back a few zhang, he saw the wolf did not move at all. Feeling curious he picked up a stone and threw it; the stone hit the wolf’s body but it still did not move at all. He was pleasantly surprised and went over to inspect it, the wolf was dead. He never expected this effortless palm strike from him had this much power. He turned and inspected his palm repeatedly but did not see anything special, he could not help but cry out: “The spirit of Frost Silkworm has shown itself!”

He thought that when the Frost Silkworm died, its spirit resided within his body, resulting in his amazing feat. He did not realize it was purely due to his ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’. In addition the Frost Silkworm possessed one of the deadliest poisons in the world, this Yin-poison had been absorbed by him. Combined with the superior internal energy cultivated by the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’, his internal energy contained an extremely fierce Yin-strength.

The ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’ was the most treasured supreme manual of martial arts studies, but its cultivation method is extremely difficult. It required the dissolution of distinction between self and others; in addition, the practitioner must not have the slightest desire to learn the martial arts of the sutra. But only first-class martial monks would get the chance to practice the sutra, all of 
them were valiant and eager for success; who wouldn’t want to master the sutra as soon as possible and reap its benefits? Hence, it was extremely difficult for them to not have the slightest desire to learn the sutra. 

For several hundred years, many eminent Shaolin monks practiced the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’, but years after years of diligent practice yielded negligible results, thus all the monks thought the sutra was wholly ineffective. When the sutra was stolen by Azhu, although the eminent monks were extremely angry, they did not consider it to be a major loss. 

One hundred years ago, Shaolin Temple had a monk; this person had been a monk since childhood, he was dull-witted and crazy. His teacher could not master the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’ and threw it away in anger. The crazy monk picked up the book thrown by his teacher, he laughed and practiced the contents, eventually becomimg a top martial art expert of his generation. Although his martial arts were outstanding, until his death he did not know the exact reason; nobody knew it was due to the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’. You TanZhi did not have the desire to learn martial arts, he followed the methods in the sutra purely for the sake of activating the Frost Silkworm within his body as he found it fun and interesting, unwittingly his martial arts improved day by day. He followed the exact same path taken by the crazy monk many years ago.

Days after, he killed several more wild beasts, he knew his palm strength was exceedingly strong and he became bolder. He kept on travelling south, he feared that if he did not summon the Frost Silkworm spirit for a single day, the “silkworm spirit” would automatically leave him; thus he used his palm everyday and dared not stop. The “silkworm spirit” was marvelous and strange and always came when summoned.

You TanZhi drifted south, one day he reached the borders of Henan province in Central Plains. He knew his iron head would scare people off, thus during the day he rested in caves within wild forest. As night fell, he came out and stole food from homes. His body was exceptionally agile and nobody detected him.

One day, he was sleeping in a small, dilapidated temple beside the road. Suddenly, he heard the sound of footsteps, three people entered the temple.

He quickly hid behind a shrine, as he dared not let others see his appearance. When the trio entered the temple, they sat down immediately and start chatting. The trio rambled and talked about gossip in the martial world. Suddenly a person asked: “Where do you think Qiao Feng is hiding? One year has pass but we didn’t even hear a single bit of news about him.”

When You TanZhi heard the words "Qiao Feng", his heart grew cold; he immediately paid attention to their conversation. Another person replied: "He committed all sorts of evils, he felt guilty and hid himself. I guess we will never see him again." 

The first person said: "This might not be true. He is biding his time; once someone is down and out, he will strike immediately. Do your math, after the battle at Juxian manor, he killed how many people? Elder Xu, Grandpa and Grandma Tan, Zhao QianSun, Taishan’s Iron Faced Judge and his entire family, Tiantai Mountain’s Reverenced Zhiguang, Beggars Clan’s Madam Ma, Elder Bai ShiJing, sigh, countless lives!”

When You TanZhi heard the words “Battle at Juxian Manor", his heart ached and he lost his interest in the conversation. After a while, he heard a hoarse voice say: "Chief Qiao has always been benevolent and righteous, I never expect... sigh... I never expected, this is all predestined fate. Let us just go.” He finished speaking and stood up.

Another person said: "Old Wang, you said our Clan is recommending someone to be the new Clan Chief, who is it?" 

The hoarse voice replied: "I don’t know! We’ve been recommending numerous people for over a month, but we just can’t find a suitable hero that can gain the respect of the entire Clan, sigh, we can only wait and see." 

Another person said: "I can read your mind, you are hoping that Qiao Feng will come back and be our Chief again. You better abandon that idea and stop dreaming. If these words reach Hall Master Quan, your life cannot be guaranteed." 

Old Wang got anxious, he said: “Xiao Bi, you said these words yourself, when did I say I want Chief Qiao to be our Clan Chief again?" 

Xiao Bi sneered: “You still address him at Chief Qiao, you dare say you don’t want him to be the Chief again?" 

Old Wang raged: “If you keep spewing nonsense I will beat you to death.” 

The third person step in and mediated: "Enough, enough, we are all brothers, let’s not spoil the relationship. How can Qiao Feng become our Chief again? He is a Khitan dog; everyone will fight till death if they see him again. Moreover, even if we invited him to be our Clan Chief, you think he will agree?" 

Old Wang sighed and said: “You are right.” As he finish the trio left the temple.

You TanZhi pondered: "The Beggars Clan is searching everywhere for Qiao Feng but they can’t find him. How would they know he is already the Lord of Southern Chancellery in Liao Empire? I will tell them this information. The Beggars Clan has overwhelming numbers; along with a 
few experts from Central Plains we might be able to kill that traitor. I will follow them and kill Qiao Feng.” When he thought about returning to Nanjing he thought of seeing AhZi again, his chest immediately heated up like an oven.

He tiptoed out of the temple. He saw the three Beggars Clan members walking on the road and heading west, he followed behind quietly. It was already dusk, there was no one around. He travelled for a few li and came to a low-lying area, he looked to the distance and saw a bonfire within the mountain valley. You TanZhi reflected: "My iron mask is very strange, they will make a mountain out of a molehill if they see me, I should hide within the vegetation and eavesdrop." He jumped into the grass bush and slowly crawled towards the bonfire. He crawled for a few zhang and stopped. He gradually crawled closer again, but he heard a huge commotion, a large number of people gathered at the bonfire. You TanZhi had experienced great sufferings recently, he dared not be careless. As he got closer to the bonfire he crawled even slower, he crawled behind a large rock and was separated but a few zhang from the bonfire. He dared not move any closer, he laid low and listen. 

Among the crowd by the bonfire, someone spoke. You TanZhi listened for a while, it seemed to be members from the Hall of Great Wisdom of the Beggars Clan. They had gathered here to discuss who to recommend as the next Clan Chief. Some pushed for Elder Song, some pushed for Elder Wu. Another person said: "Speaking of wits and courage, we should recommend Hall Master Quan. Unfortunately Hall Master Quan was expelled by Qiao Feng, we still haven’t settled how to let him rejoin the Clan again." 

Another person replied: “The treacherous affair of Qiao Feng was exposed by Hall Master Quan, he rendered a huge service to our Clan, it should be easy to let him rejoin. Once the General Assembly starts, we will first settle the matter of letting Hall Master Quan rejoin the Clan, we will bring up his great contribution and then recommend him as the next Clan leader.”

A cool and bright voice said: "It is possible for me to rejoin the Clan. But you cannot recommend me for the position of Clan Chief, people might gossip and say that I exposed Qiao Feng for the selfish reason of displacing him as the next Clan Chief." 

A person said loudly: “Hall Master Quan is a person who does not shirk responsibility. Although our Clan Elders have better martial arts, but when it comes to resourcefulness, no one can be compared to you. Against Qiao Feng, we can only pit our wits against him, not force, so Hall Master Quan..." 

Hall Master Quan replied: "Brother Shi, I have yet to officially rejoin the Clan, you can’t call me Hall Master Quan.”

Two hundred beggars around the bonfire chipped in: "Elder Song has instructed, temporarily, you are still Hall Master, so why can’t we call you Hall Master Quan? In the future when you become the Clan Chief, you no longer need to care about this Hall Master position." 

“Even if Hall Master Quan does not become the Clan Chief, at least you can be promoted to Clan Elder, and you can still continue to lead your former Hall.”

"Correct, even if Hall Master Quan becomes the Clan Chief, you can still take up additional responsibility as Great Wisdom Hall Master.” 

As the crowd was getting lively, a Clan member came from the entrance of the valley and said: “Reporting to Hall Master, Prince Duan from Dali Kingdom is requesting an audience.” 

Hall Master Quan immediately stood up and said: "Prince Duan from Dali Kingdom? Our Clan normally does not have dealings with Dali Kingdom. Brothers, the Duan family from Dali is well known for its martial arts, since Prince Duan is personally requesting an audience, everyone should go and greet him.” He led all the members to the valley’s entrance. 

A young man stood smiling at the entrance, he was accompanied by seven or eight people. This young man was Duan Yu. Both men cupped their hands and paid their respects, they had met each other before at the Apricot Forest in Wuxi. At that time, Quan GuanQing did not know Duan Yu’s identity, but his embarrassing affair of being expelled by Qiao Feng was seen by Duan Yu. He could not help but feel slightly embarrassed, but he immediately calmed down, saluted and said: "I didn’t expect Prince Duan to come visit, you came from such a far place, I ask for your forgiveness.”

Duan Yu smiled and said: "Its fine, its fine. Junior receives orders from my father to inform your honorable Clan of a certain matter, I hope it won’t be an inconvenience.”

Both of them exchanged a few pleasantries; Duan Yuan was accompanied by Gu DuCheng, Fu SiGui and Zhu DanChen. Quan GuanQing invited Duan Yu to sit down on a rock by the bonfire; Clan members brought and served wine.

Duan Yu took a drink and said: "A few months ago, my father was at the residence of Deputy-Chief Ma in Xinyang, he encountered a strange affair, he personally witnessed the death of Bai ShiJing from your honorable Clan. But my father had sustained some injuries, he is still recuperating. The movement of your Clan’s Elders is not fix and we did not have the opportunity to meet them, thus my father could not present the letter he wrote. A few days ago, we heard that your Hall is gathering here and I was ordered to come here quickly." He retrieved a letter from within his sleeve, quickly stood up and presented it.

Quan GuanQing also stood up immediately and received it with both hands, he said: "I am sorry to have troubled Gentleman Duan to personally deliver this letter, I thank Prince Duan for showing great concern to my humble Clan." He saw the letter was sealed, it bore the words: "To Be Personally Opened By Beggars Clan’s Elders", he knew that it was not appropriate for him to open the letter, he said: "Our Clan will be holding a General Assembly soon, all the old and young will be coming, I will then personally present Prince Duan’s letter to our Clan’s Elders." 

Duan Yu said: "I am sorry to trouble you, junior will take his leave now."

Quan GuanQing quickly said his thanks and added: "Our Clan’s Elder Bai and Madam Ma died under the treacherous hands of Qiao Feng, Prince Duan personally witnessed this matter?" 

Duan Yu shook his head and said: "Elder Bai and Madam Ma were not killed by my big brother Qiao, Deputy-Chief Ma was harmed by someone else. My father explained all these things in the letter, Hall Master Quan will know the full details in the future after reading the letter." 

Duan Yu thought: "This matter cannot be explained with just a few phrases, you are not a good person, I don’t need to waste time and explain it to you. I don’t think you have the guts to hide my father’s letter." He cupped his hands towards Quan GuanQing and said: "Till next time, you don’t have to see us off.”

He turned around and walk to the valley’s entrance, he met two Beggars Clan members and two men.

The two men gave each other a look, they moved a few steps forward and bowed towards Duan Yu; they presented a red invitation card.

Duan Yu took it and perused it. On the card were written the words:

"Su XingHe respectfully invites all the world’s most talented chess players, on the 8th day of the 2nd lunar month, to be at Henan’s LeiGu Mountain to play chess” 

Duan Yu said: "Excellent, junior is not burdened with any important matters, I will definitely be at the chess meet. But how did you two find out that I can play chess?” 

The expression of the two man was delighted, “Yi Yi Ya Ya” sounds came from their mouths. They made huge gestures, it seemed both of them were mute. Duan Yu could not understand their gestures, he smiled and asked Zhu DanChen: “LeiGu Mountain is not far from here right?” and he handed the invitation card to him.

Zhu DanChen took a look at the card, he cupped his hands towards the two men and said: "The son of the Souther Garrison (ZhenNan) Prince of Dali pays his respect to Mr. Intelligent. He expresses his gratitude and he will promptly visit at the appointed date.” He pointed his hand at Duan Yu and made a few gestures.

The two man bowed again to pay their respects to Duan Yu. They took out another red invitation card and presented it to Quan GuanQing.

Quan GuanQing took a look at the card, he respectfully gave it back to the man, he waved his hands and said: "Quan GuanQing from the Hall of Great Wisdom of the Beggars Clan pays his respects to Mr. Intelligent. My chess skill is inferior and laughable, I dare not go to the chess meet. I hope that Mr. Intelligent will be understanding." The two man bowed towards him, then bowed towards Duan Yu again and they left.

Only now did Zhu DanChen answer Duan Yu’s question: "LeiGu Mountain is to the south of Songxian, Northeast of Quyuan Ridge, it’s not far from here."

Duan Yuan took his leave from Quan GuanQing and exited the valley. He asked Zhu DanChen: “What kind of person is Mr. Intelligent Su XingHe? Is he the national Go (Chess) champion of the Central Plains?” 

Zhu DanChen replied: “Mr. Intelligent is also known as the ‘Deaf Mute Old Man’.”

Duan Yu gave an "Ah" sound, he had heard his father and uncle discussing the Deaf Mute Old Man before; he was a prestigious expert within the Central Plains. He was deaf and mute but his martial arts were exceedingly high. His uncle was extremely respectful when mentioning him. Zhu DanChen continued: "The Deaf Mute Old Man is disabled, but he insists on calling himself Mr. Intelligent. It seems he thinks his wits and penmanship will beat people’s hearing and debating skills.” 

Duan Yu nodded his head and said: “It seems reasonable.” After walking a few steps he gave a long sigh.

He listened to Zhu DanChen say that the Deaf Mute Old Man’s wits and penmanship will beat people’s hearing and debating skills; he could not help but thinking of Wang YuYan’s ‘Narration Martial Art’ beating people’s fist and weaponry skills. 

After rescuing the Beggars Clan members in Wuxi with Azhu, Bao BuTong and Feng BoE arrived and met up with them; the five of them headed north to search for their Young Master Murong. Duan Yu naturally wanted to follow them. Feng BoE was grateful towards him for sucking out the scorpion’s poison and he welcomed Duan Yu; but Bao BuTong was extremely unforgiving. He blamed Duan Yu for disguising himself as Young Master Murong and tarnishing his great reputation; later he even threatened to beat him up unless he scrammed. Wang YuYan was only interested in finding her cousin and discussed this endlessly with Feng BoE; she turned a blind eye to Duan Yu’s situation

Duan Yu was helpless and could only grudgingly part with Wang YuYan, but he still travelled north and thought: "You guys want to go to Henan to search for Murong Fu, it so happens that I am also going to Henan. Henan province does not belong to your Murong Family; if Murong Fu and Bao BuTong can go, why can’t Duan Yu go as well? If it so happens that I run into you guys again, then it must be fate and Mr. Bao cannot blame me.”

But fate did not want him to meet Wang YuYan so soon after their recent parting. During the entire month, Duan Yu wandered around Henan. He termed it a sightseeing tour but in actual fact he was just looking around in all directions, hoping to see a strand of hair from Wang YuYang, or just a corner of her clothes; as for the beautiful mountains and scenery he didn’t even give it a glance.

One day, Duan Yu was at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, he was discussing “Agama” with the abbot, they discussed about Buddhist teachings on “Seven Treasures of the Chakravartin”. Duan Yu was interested in the Jade Maiden Treasure that was said to be “Neither long nor short, neither black nor white, a body that is warm during winter and cool during summer”. The abbot shook his head repeatedly and said: “Buddhist Duan, this is an analogy in Buddhist teachings, moreover Buddha said that the seven treasures is in impermanence ... " But he did not finish as three men suddenly entered the temple; they were Fu SiGui, Gu DuCheng and Zhu DanChen.

When Duan ZhengChun left the Ma residence in Xinyang, he met up with Ruan XingZhu and recuperated under her care. When he thought about how Xiao Feng was wronged by the Beggars Clan for killing Ma DaYuan, he had to vindicate him; thus he wrote a letter and ordered the trio to deliver it to the Beggars Clan.

Fu SiGui and company came to Luoyang, they did not see any leading figures at the Beggars Clan’s Main Hall. They gathered information and knew that the Hall of Great Wisdom of the Beggars Clan was gathering nearby. They hoped to deliver the letter there but in a restaurant they heard another amusing bit of news about a daydreaming gentleman; the description of the appearance and behavior of the man seemed to be very similar to Duan Yu They asked the whereabouts of this gentleman and then they came searching in the White Horse Temple.

The four of them met up and were very happy. Duan Yu said: "I will accompany you to deliver the letter, after that quickly bring me to see my father." When he learned that his father was currently in Henan, naturally he was anxious to meet him, but all these days he hoped to hear the slightest news about Wang YuYan. He kept thinking about her day and night. He prayed that he might be able to meet her at the Beggars Clan’s gathering, but this hope eventually came to nothing.

Zhu DanChen saw him sighing, he assume his thinking about Mu WanQing but he could offer no consolation. He thought of diverting his attention and said: "That Mr. Intelligent is widely distributing these cards and inviting people to play chess, his chess skills must be extremely high. Young Master, after meeting Prince ZhenNan, why don’t you go and meet this Mr. Intelligent and play a few rounds with him?”

Duan Yu nodded: "Yes, playing chess can relieve your worries. But although she is familiar with all the martial arts and all the weaponries, she can’t play chess. She definitely won’t go to Mr. Intelligent’s chess meet.”

Zhu DanChen was baffled; he did not know who Duan Yu was referring to. Along the way Duan Yu was absent-minded, his speech incoherent, and he dared not inquire anymore.

The group travelled northwest. Duan Yu was frowning and suddenly he nodded 
and smiled, muttering: “There’s a saying in Buddhist scripture: Thinking about beauty, her body filled with blood, a hundred years later, turning into bone and dust', although the saying is true but even if she turns into bones after a hundred years, she’s still an incredibly beautiful bone." As he fantasized about Wang YuYan’s skeleton, he suddenly heard the sound of horse’s hooves behind him. Two people came galloping on horses, but he couldn’t see their appearance clearly in the darkness.

The two horses seemed to be out of control, they rushed towards the group. Fu SiGui and Gu DuCheng stretched out their hands and they each reined in one of the horses; the riders of the horses were motionless. Fu SiGui was slightly surprised, he leaned over to check. The first rider turned out to be the messenger of Mr. Intelligent, his face wore a faint smile but he had died long ago. Just a few moments ago, this man had personally delivered the invitation card to Duan Yu, how did he die for no reason? The other dead rider was also the messenger of Mr. Intelligent; he also died with a strange smile. When Fu SiGui and the rest saw this they knew these two men must have been killed by an extremely deadly poison. They quickly reined in their horses and moved back two steps, they dared not touch the corpses.

Duan Yu was furious: "That Hall Master Quan from Beggars Clan is really vicious, why did he harm these men? Let’s go and reason it out with him." He turned his horse around and was about to go find Quan GuanQing and interrogate him.

Suddenly a voice spoke out within the darkness: "Little boy you are ignorant, in the entire world except for the Divine Elder of Xingxiu and his sect, who has the ability to kill without leaving a trace? It will be fine if the Deaf Mute Old Man obediently hides himself, if he dares come out, Divine Elder of Xingxiu will never let him survive. Kid, this matter is none of your concern, it’s best if you leave quickly."

Zhu DanChen whispered: "Young Master, this is the affair of Xingxiu Sect, it does not concern us, let's go."

Duan Yu had already lost his interest when he couldn’t find Wang YuYan. If these messengers were in danger he would definitely step in and save them, but since they had already died he did not want to stir up more trouble. He sighed and said: "It’s not sufficient to be deaf, their eyes must not see anything, their nose can’t smell any scent, their mind incapable of any thought, only then can they break away from their trouble.”

His speech was referring to Wang YuYan. Since he had already heard her voice, seen her smile and movement, all these things were etched deeply into his mind; even if he was deaf and mute, he still couldn’t break away from thinking about her. Unexpectedly, the man laughed and applauded: "Yes, Yes! You are right, I should poke their eyes blind, cut off their noses, and beat them up so badly that they can’t even think.”

Duan Yu gave another sigh: "It’s useless to use external force. You need to cultivate your inner self, ‘Do not allow color, sound and smell to stir your heart', but if you can let go of all self, you already reached Buddhahood. I am only a layman, how can I reach such attainment? Resentment, hate, love, parting, powerless, the five evils, the great sufferings of life."

You TanZhi was hiding behind the vegetation, he saw Duan Yu and his entourage come and go. Someone was shouting in front, two Beggars Clan members quickly ran over and quietly reported to Quan GuanQing: “Hall Master Quan, the two mute men died for no apparent reason. The perpetrator claims he is from Xingxiu Sect and he is a subordinate of someone called Divine Elder of Xingxiu.”

Quan GuanQing got a huge shock, his expression changed instantly. He’d heard of Old Freak of Xingxiu, this person employed deadly poison, his martial art was also exceedingly high. He considered: "He killed the messenger of Deaf Mute Old Man, this matter does not concern us, its best if we don’t stir up any trouble.” He replied: “Ok, they are ghosts, fighting another ghost, we need not bother.”

Suddenly, someone spoke in front of him: "Scoundrel talking nonsense, how dare you curse me as ghost when you know I am the subordinate of Divine Elder of Xingxiu? You are tired of living." 

Quan GuanQing was surprised and he could not refrain from taking a step back. Under the light from the torch, he saw someone standing up right in front of him, but it was his own subordinate from Beggars Clan. He fixed his concentration and finally saw him, the person had a faint smile, his appearance strange; he was standing right behind another person. Quan GuanQing shouted: “Who are you, pretending to be a ghost, what are you doing here?”

The person behind the Beggars Clan member replied: "You are really bold, you said the word ghost again! I am the subordinate of Divine Elder of Xingxiu. Divine Elder of Xingxiu is arriving in the Central Plains, he needs 200 poison snakes and 100 poison bugs. Your Beggars Clan is always well-stocked with poison snakes and bugs, offer them immediately. Divine Elder of Xingxiu will spare you lot of beggars if you respectfully present the items to him. Otherwise, heng heng, you will become like this person!”

Bang, the Beggars Clan member in front of him immediately flew off and fell beside the bonfire. He was motionless, apparently he’d died long ago. When the Beggars Clan member flew off, a dwarf wearing a poplin shirt was revealed. Nobody knew how he killed the Beggars Clan member and then hid himself behind the Clan member.

Quan GuanQing was startled and angry; in a split second, many thoughts came into his mind: "Old Freak of Xingxiu messes with our Beggars Clan. If we don’t give in to their demands we have to fight it out. Although it’s dangerous, but if I cave in to his threats and offer the poison snakes and bugs, my Clan members will forever look down on me. My hopes of becoming Clan leader will be dashed; I couldn’t even maintain my current standings in the Clan. Luckily the Old Freak of Xingxiu has yet to arrive, this person is alone, I don’t need to be afraid of him.” Immediately he laughed and said: “So you are from Xingxiu Sect, may I know your name?”

The dwarf said: "I am called Tian LangZi. Quickly go and prepare the poisonous snakes and bugs.”

Quan GuanQing smiled and said: "It’s only poisonous snakes and bugs, a small matter, we don’t need any major preparation." He picked up a bag from the ground and said: "There’s a few snakes here, please check it, is it suitable for Divine Elder of Xingxiu?”

The dwarf heard Quan GuanQing said “Divine Elder of Xingxiu”, he was very pleased. Seeing his respectful expression he thought: "It’s said that Beggars Clan is the number one clan in the Central Plains, but when they heard my master’s name they immediately turn limp. I will take these poison snakes, master will definitely like it, he will surely praise me for being competent. Nevertheless, it’s all due to the fierce reputation of master.” He immediately stretched his neck to look into the bag.

Suddenly all he saw was darkness, the cloth bag had already covered his head. Tian LangZi was shocked, he immediately struck out with his palm but he hit nothing. But at this moment, his cheek and neck felt a slight pain, he was bitten by the poisonous bugs in the bag. Tian LangZi did not have time to remove the cloth bag; he ferociously sent out both his palms and retreated quickly. As his head was covered with the cloth bag he couldn’t see a thing, both his palms were attacking randomly. His face and head received another series of bites, he panicked, he extended his legs and fled, but his legs threaded on empty air, he lost his footing and rolled down the steep slope, with a splashing sound he fell into the river at the bottom of the mountain and got washed away by the current.

Quan GuanQing thought of killing him, he didn’t expect him to escape, but the person was stung by poisonous scorpion and subsequently fell into the river. He was mostly probably dead, but since members of Xingxiu sect were poison experts they might have special detoxification methods. Since they live at Xingxiu Sea they would also know how to swim, if the person managed to survive, Xingxiu sect would definitely come back and seek revenge. He said to everyone: “At this moment, we can only deploy the giant python formation and stake it out against Old Freak of Xingxiu. Could it be possible that we can’t fend for ourselves without Qiao Feng and have to be humiliated by others? Xingxiu Sect are experts in using deadly poison, we can’t use our weapons and fists against them, we have to use poison to counter their poison.”

The Beggars Clan members shouted out in agreement, immediately they dispersed. They arranged into their battle formation a few zhang away from the bonfire, everyone sat down and crossed their legs.

You TanZhi saw Quan GuanQing use the cloth bag to defeat Tian LangZi, he pondered: "There’s probably numerous poisonous bugs in the bag, they have so many bags here, are they all filled with poisonous bugs? It’s not surprising for the beggars to be proficient in catching poison bugs. If I can steal a few of these bags and present them to Miss AhZi, she will definitely like it very much.”

Once the Clan members sat down, they did not make any sound. Everyone had a few cloth bags beside them; some of the bags were extremely huge, some had creatures squirming and moving inside. You TanZhi’s hair stood on its end when he saw all these bags. The atmosphere was silent, if he moved now he would surely be detected by the crowd, he thought: "I won’t be afraid if they cover me with those bags, I have the protection of the iron mask, but if they stuff my entire body into the bag then I will be in trouble.”

After a few hours, nothing had happened; after a while the sun started to rise, covering the hills and vegetation with bright light. Birds were chirping on the trees, suddenly Quan GuanQing said softly: "They are here! Everyone be careful!" He was kneeling on a rock outside the formation, holding onto an iron flute.

Music came from the direction of the north, a group of people walked unhurriedly, they were playing their wood instruments and drums, the music was melodious and pleasant. You TanZhi wondered: “It is a wedding procession?”

The music got nearer and nearer, when it was ten zhang away it stopped. Several people said in unison: "Divine Elder of Xingxiu arriving in the Central Plains, Beggars Clan members, kneel down and greet him!” Once they finished, the drums startd thundering. After three rounds of drum rolls, there was a gong sound, the drums stopped. Ten people said in unison: “We respectfully invite Divine Elder of Xingxiu to display your great skills, subdue these demons and clowns from Beggars Clan!”

You TanZhi mused: "It’s quite similar to Taoist ritual." He quietly peered out from the rock, he saw twenty people lining up in the northwest corner, some holding percussion instruments, some armed with long streamers and banners, their red and green color pleasing to the eye. From afar the banners were embroidered with words such as, “Divine Elder of Xingxiu", "Almighty”, “Limitless Power”, “Inspiring 
Awe Throughout The World”, etc. As the music played out, an old man slowly strolled out. A dozen people arranged into two rows, they followed behind him, separated by a few zhang.

The old man was waving a goose feathered fan, sun shone on his face. His face was ruddy, his head full of white hair, three silver whiskers on his chin; he really looked like an immortal depicted in pictures. The old man walk towards the Beggars Clan crowd and stopped moving when he was three zhang away. Suddenly he issued a few sharp whistles, he flicked his fan and waved away the whistle sound. Four Beggars Clan members sitting on the ground immediately collapsed.

You TanZhi had a huge shock: "This Divine Elder of Xingxiu really has powerful magic!”

The old man’s face revealed a faint smile, with another “Zi” sound, he waved his feathered fan and another group of beggars collapsed. The old man’s whistle seemed to be hiding some kind of lethal poison, in an instant, another 6-7 beggars collapsed.

The crowd behind the old man cried out their praises: "Master’s skill will be remembered throughout all ages! These beggars pit themselves against us; it’s akin to a firefly pitting its light against the sun! Or a mantis blocking a cart! They vastly overrated themselves, laughable, laughable!" 

“Master you only need to laugh and chitchat and these demons and clowns will die immediately, such effortless crushing victory, disciple has never seen or heard such a thing before." 

"This is a great achievement never seen before in the world, if Master did not reveal it, the people from the Central Plains will never know such skills exists." They kept singing their praises, feeling very smug; they started playing their instruments again.

Suddenly there was a “Xu” sound, Quan GuanQing brought the iron flute to his mouth and started blowing. You TanZhi wondered: "What’s he playing the flute for? Supporting the Divine Elder of Xingxiu?" 

Suddenly noise came from the ground, a few brightly-colored large snakes slithered towards the old man. The group of disciples beside the old man shouted: "Snakes, there are poisonous snakes! Master, these snakes seems to be heading towards us!" Numerous poisonous snakes came slithering out of the cloth bags, some were big while others are small; all of them rushed towards the old man and his disciples. The crowd panicked and started screaming and howling randomly.

The disciples of Xingxiu sect raised their steel staffs, they pounded at the oncoming snakes. The old man’s expression was calm, he still carried on whistling and waving his fan to repel his enemies. Quan GuanQing did not stop blowing his flue, his clan members all shouted to show their support.

More and more snakes gathered, within moments, Xingxiu sect members were surrounded by a few hundred snakes, 5 or 6 of these snakes were giant pythons. A few giant pythons moved near, they coiled their tails and immediately trapped two people, another two men were trapped subsequently. If these Xingxiu members turned their backs and fled the snakes would not be able to catch them, but their Master was still fighting and they dared not leave. They could only brandish their weapons and pound randomly. They killed 8 or 10 snakes, but 7 or 8 of them were also bitten by the snakes. The giant pythons were even more dangerous, their skins were rough and their bodies thick, they behaved as if nothing had happened when stuck by the steel staffs. They coiled their bodies around the men and constricted, not letting them go. As the flute keep blowing, more giant pythons came out of the cloth bags, there was already 27 or 28 of them.

The old man saw the situation was unfavorable, he wanted to move back and attack Quan GuanQing, suddenly two small snakes bit towards his face. He shouted angrily: "How dare you!" He waved his fan and brought down the two snakes. Suddenly he felt something soft coiling around his ankle. He knew he was in trouble and quickly leapt into the air. He heard another “Xu” sound from the flute; four pythons raised their tails and coiled towards him. The old man was in midair, he struck out with both palms; they hit the snake in front and to his left. His body flew and he landed two zhang away. At this moment, the tail of the third and fourth giant pythons attacked him simultaneously. Under such pressing circumstances he exerted his strength and sent out another palm; the palm force struck its head and its brain turned into pulp.

The mass of snakes gushed in like a flowing river. The old man killed another three pythons, but his waist and right leg were trapped by two giant python. He gathered his internal energy and gave a loud cry; he clawed open the belly of the python on his waist, his body was splashed with blood. But the python was very resilient; even though its belly was split open it endured the pain and constricted even tighter. The old man’s pelvic bone was about to fracture under the pressure. He struggled to break free, but another two giant python wrapped themselves around his body, even his arm was trapped. He could not struggle anymore. Seeing such horrifying scene, You TanZhi was so shocked that he could hardly breathe.

Quan GuanQing was very happy, his enemies were all trapped and bound by the giant pythons. They could no longer resist and they cursed in rage. He stopped playing his flute, laughed and said: "Old Freak Of Xingxiu, your Xingxiu Sect and my Beggars Clan normally don’t mess with each other, why did you provoke us for no reason? How should we settle this?”

This healthy old man is the most hated person in the Central Plains, the Old Freak of XingXiu Ding ChunQiu. One of the three treasures of his Sect, the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ was stolen by AhZi. He sent out numerous disciples to hunt her down, even his head-disciple Zhai XingZi was sent. But the returning news was always very discouraging. He last heard that AhZi had the backing of Qiao Feng and they had heavily injured Zhai XingZi; Ding ChunQiu was shocked and angry. Ding Chunqiu knew the Beggars Clan was the number one clan in the Central Plains and they were not easy to deal with. He also heard the Deaf Mute Old Man was particularly active around Xing Lake in recent years. The Deaf Mute Old Man was a thorn in his side and he could never rest in peace with him around. Thus he thought of retrieving the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ and then resolving all these matters once and for all. Hence he brought his disciples and personally travelled east to the Central Plains.

He practiced the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ and he frequently required poisonous fluids of poison creatures to be smeared on his palm and absorbed into his body. If he did not absorb any poison fluids for seven days, not only will his internal energy decrease, the poison accumulated in his body would also gradually flare up as its not suppressed by new poison. The repercussions were deadly. The ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ had a very special scent, coupled with the incense burnt, it would be able to immediately attract poisonous bugs; no poisonous creatures within a ten li radius would be able to resist being attracted by the fragrance. 

With this tripod, Ding ChunQiu could catch poisonous bugs without any effort. His ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ naturally became more and more profound. Previously, Ding ChunQiu had a 
very talented disciple, he imparteded his skills to him and taught him the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, but after some achievements in the skill the disciple became conceited and was very disrespectful towards him. Ding ChunQiu subdued the disciple, he did not torture him but merely imprisoned him within a stone house so that he couldn’t capture any poison bugs. Eventually the poison within his body flared up, it was extremely unbearable and he could not help but tear his own muscles off to relieve himself. He moaned and wailed and eventually died after forty days. Although Ding ChunQiu was delighted, he could not help but feel fear; he guarded himself and never imparted his ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ to anyone. Thus, Zhai XingZi and the rest of the disciples did not know the skill. AhZi wanted to learn the skill and she had to eavesdrop secretly and also steal the tripod.

AhZi was adept at scheming. When her master had finished absorbing fresh poison she bid him farewell and travelled east. When the Old Freak of Xingxiu realized the tripod was stolen, it was already seven days later and AhZi had escaped to a faraway place. She only travelled on remote routes. Even though the disciples pursuing her had higher martial arts, their resourcefulness was way inferior to hers and she managed to bluff her way through. She employed numerous decoy tactics and threw off all her pursuers.

The residence of the Old Freak of Xingxiu was a gloomy and damp ravine, the area is rich with poisonous bugs and snakes. Although the tripod was lost, it was still not too difficult to catch poisonous bugs and replenish his supply of poison. However he could only hope to catch common poison bugs; without the aid of the tripod he could no longer catch rare bugs which possess deadly poison. One matter caused him endless worries- he was afraid that experts from the Central Plains might discover the origin of the tripod and they would seek to destroy it; thus he hoped to resolve this matter quickly so that he could stop worrying.

He met a bunch of his disciples at the borders of Shanxi. His head-disciple Zhai XingZi was fortunate to preserve his life, but he lost all his martial arts. He was beaten and humiliated by his fellow martial-brothers. His second disciple, Shi BiRen, temporarily took over the post of head-disciple. All the disciples saw their master and were scared of being punished as they failed to complete their task. Fortunately, the Old Freak of Xingxiu needed all the help he could get and he postponed all punishments and hoped his disciples could redeem themselves by performing a good service.

Along the way, the group inquired about the Beggars Clan. But firstly, their appearance was strange and their behavior deplorable, no one was willing to reveal the information to them. Secondly, Xiao Feng was in the Liao Empire and became the Lord of Southern Chancellery, but people from the martial world did not know about this matter, thus they could not find any news about the Beggars Clan and they couldn’t even find the main branch of the clan. 

On this day, Tian LiangZi inadvertently found about the gathering of the Great Wisdom Hall of the Beggars Clan. He wanted to claim credit for this piece of information and he infiltrated the Beggars Clan alone, but he eventually fell prey to Quan GuanQing’s schemes. Luckily his body already contained essence of poison and the scorpion’s poison failed to kill him; he escaped and reported the matter to his master. Ding ChunQiu immediately rushed over, but he did not expect that with his deadly poison and profound martial arts, he would be subdued by a giant python and immobilized.

Ding Chunqiu did not answer Quan GuanQing’s question, he said coldly: "There’s a person called Qiao Feng in your Beggars Clan, where is he? Quickly ask him to come out and see me.” 
Quan GuanQing heart was shaken, he asked: "You want to see Qiao Feng, what for?” 

Ding ChunQiu said proudly: “Divine Elder of Xingxiu is asking you a question why aren’t you answering? You keep asking useless questions. Where is Qiao Feng?”

Quan GuanQing saw Ding ChunQiu was immobilized by the python, he had already lost the power to resist, but his manner was still arrogant and ferocious; such courage is really rare in this world. He said: "It’s said that the Old Freak of Xingxiu is all knowing, but I think it’s just an undeserved reputation, you can’t even handle a few small snakes. I am sorry, we have to help the world get rid of a great evil today.”

Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: "Old man is careless, I fell into the trap of these cold-blooded reptiles, I will die today, its really fate...”

But he did not finish as one of his disciple who was trapped by the python suddenly shouted: "Heroes of Beggars Clan, please release me, you will have great benefit. My master is proficient in trickery, you can never guard against him. Just a minor slip-up and you will fall into his trap.” 

Quan GuanQing said coldly: "And how do we benefit by releasing you?" 

The person replied: "There are three treasures in my Xingxiu Sect, they are called Xingxiu Three Treasures. Only the Old Freak of Xingxiu and me knows its hidden location. If you release me, I will help you kill the Old Freak of Xingxiu and offer you the treasures. If you kill me, you will never find the treasures.”

Another Xingxiu disciple cried out: "Great hero, great hero, don’t be fooled by him! One of the three treasures is already stolen. It’s better for you to release me. I am the loyal one, I will never lie to you.”

In an instant, numerous Xingxiu disciples clamored: "Heroes of Beggars Clan, it’s best if you spare me, neither of them are loyal, I will serve you wholeheartedly." 

"Great hero, I know most of the martial arts of Xingxiu Sect, I will tell you everything, I won’t hide them from you.” 

“There’s a great conspiracy surrounding our arrival in the Central Plains, the main purpose is to deal with Beggars Clan. Great heroes, do you want to know all the inside information?”

“Our Xingxiu Sea hides unlimited gold, silver and rare treasure, I know the hiding spot of every treasure. I will lead all of you there and dig it out. Heroes of Beggars Clan you no longer need to beg for food anymore.”

These people kept boot-licking and tried to pledge their loyalty; some tried to offer treasures, some tried to stir up curiosity by revealing secret plans, some of their words were outright lies and completely absurd. Some Xingxiu disciples were on the verge of death due to being poisoned and constricted by the snakes, they struggled for air to beg for forgiveness.

Members of Beggars Clan did not expect that the disciples of Xingxiu were so spineless, thus they despised them; but their sense of curiosity was aroused and they moved closer to listen attentively. Quan GuanQing said coldly: "You are not loyal to even your own master, how can you pledge loyalty to total strangers? Aren’t you ridiculous?”

A Xingxiu disciple replied: "No it’s different, very different. The Old Freak of Xingxiu has lousy skills, what’s the future prospect in following him? What the benefit in following him? How can the Old Freak of Xingxiu be a match for Beggars Clan?" 

“Yea, Beggars Clan taking in disciples of Xingxiu Sect, Western and Central Plains will be in shock. Who dares not admire the heroes of Beggars Clan?"

“The word ‘Hero’ is not sufficient to describe you, we have to refer you as ‘Chivalrous Hero’, ‘Saint’, ‘Savior of commoner’!” 

“I am articulate and good with words, I will travel to the four corners of the earth and spread the words about your great kindness. The chivalrous heroes of Beggars Clan will be renowned throughout the entire world.”

“Pei, the chivalrous heroes of Beggars Clan are already famous throughout the world, why do they even need you to advertise? I thought of the title of ‘Saint’ and ‘Savior of commoner’ for them. They bestow intelligence upon me.”

A five-pouch Beggars Clan disciple frowned and said: "You lot of scumbags, making so much racket, listening to you lot made us fed up. Old Freak of Xingxiu, you are really good for nothing, why did you accept these shameless people as disiples? I’ll send you to heaven first, and then I let these lot of scumbags follow you. I am going to slaughter you whole lot today!” As he finished, he gave a shout and sent his palm towards Ding ChunQiu.

This palm strike was accompanied by rapid wind, the strength behind it extremely strong and fierce, it landed on Ding ChunQiu’s chest. But Ding ChunQiu was completely unharmed, the beggar felt his knees weaken and he collapsed to the ground. He curled up and started twitching, after a while he was motionless. The crowd of Beggars Clan members were surprised, they shouted: “What happened?” Two beggars came out to help him up. When the two men touched his body, they started shaking and also collapsed after a while. Three nearby Beggars Clan disciples naturally stretched out their hands to support them, but when they touched the two men, they also collapsed. The rest of the crowd was stunned; they no longer dared to touch their fallen comrades.

Quan GuanQing shouted: "There’s poison on this old man’s body, we can’t touch his body, release the projectiles!”

Eighty nine 4 & 5 pouch disciples pulled out their hidden weapons- steel darts, flying knives, sleeve arrows, cobblestones- they threw all these weapons at Ding ChunQiu. Ding ChunQiu gave a loud shout and turned his head sharply. He swung his white hair out, his hairs were like soft whiskers and repelled ten of the projectiles thrown at him. There were multiple “Aiyo” cries, 6 or7 beggars were struck by hidden projectiles. These projectiles did not hit their vital spots, some was grazed on their flesh, but these men immediately collapsed and died.

Quan GuanQing shouted: "Move back, move back!” Suddenly there was a swishing sound, it was caused by the shooting of a steel dart. Ding ChunQiu used his hairs to grip the dart and shoot it towards Quan GuanQing. Quan GuanQing hastily used his Iron Flute to deflect it, there was a ringing sound and the dart was repelled far away. He thought this Old Freak of Xingxiu is really powerful, he could only rely on his giant python to kill him. He brought his flute to his mouth, as he was about to blow, his lips suddenly felt numb and he instantly became dizzy. He knew something was wrong and hastily threw away the Iron Flute; there was a thud sound and he collapsed. The Clan members were shocked, immediately two men moved forward to help him up. Quan GuanQing said drowsily: "I... I am poisoned, every... everyone... quick... quickly... leave” The Clan members were scared out of their wits, they carried him and fled, abandoning all the bodies, snakes and cloth bags.

You TanZhi was still squatting in the bushes; he was so shocked by the goings-on that he dared not move an inch. The surroundings were a tcompletely silent; a dozen poisoned Clan members curled into a ball like porcupines, apparently they had already died.

The remaining giant pythons were no long under the control of Quan GuanQing’s flute sound, they wiould not harm anyone and only immobilized Ding ChunQiu and his disciples. No one in the Xingxiu Sect dared to move or struggle for fear of provoking the vicious nature of the snakes and getting bitten.

The silence remained for a while, finally someone spoke: "Master, your divine skill is unrivalled throughout the world, you easily slaughtered all these evil and vicious beggars and drive them all away...”

Before he could finish another disciple interrupt him and said: "Master, don’t listen to his bullshit, his the one that praised the beggars as 'Chivalrous Heroes' and 'Saints'"

Another disciple said: "We followed Master for so many years, how can we not know his ability to split the Heaven and Earth? We spouted nonsense and fooled the beggars just now, to distract them, so that Master can display his unparalleled skills.”

Suddenly someone burst into tears and wailed: "Master, Master! Disciple deserves to die, disciple is confused, I was afraid of death and surrendered to the enemy, I sincerely regret it now and I am willingly to die with the poison snakes, I dare not ask Master for mercy anymore.”

The rest of the disciples immediately came to an understanding: Their Master hated people who explained away and whitewashed their mistakes. Only by condemning themselves and admitting to all sorts of mistakes could they hope to receive their Master’s mercy and forgiveness. In an instant, all the disciples started cursing themselves; they cursed their own evil intentions and howled how they deserved to die. You TanZhi eavesdropped from the bushes; he was utterly baffled by them.

Ding ChunQiu gathered his internal energy. He thought of bursting through the three giant pythons binding him by using pure force. Unfortunately, the python’s body was elastic and flexible. When Ding ChunQiu exerted his strength, the snakes only lengthened, their bodies did not break. Ding ChunQiu was covered with poison, his hair and clothes all contained deadly toxin. When the beggars attacked him with their weapons, all of them came into contact with his poison. However the python’s skin is thick, tough and slippery, his poison could not penetrate it. As he listened to his disciples endlessly babbling, he raged: “If someone can come up with an idea to drive away the snakes, I will spare him. You lot still don’t understand my temper? I will never kill people who are useful to me. You people only know how to talk nonsense and crap, what use is it?”

As he said this, the group of disciples immediately quieted down. After a while, someone said: "We need someone to use a torch and burn the bodies of these snakes, they will definitely run off." 

Ding ChunQiu scolded him: "You are farting! We are out here in the wilderness, there’s no village or shop nearby, who will come by? Even if someone did come by, once they see so many snakes, they will get scared and run off. Why would they even bother to bring a torch and burn them?"Tthe rest of the disciples kept suggesting ideas, but all the ideas were lousy and limited. Everyone just kept on talking, they hoped to curry favor with their master and show that they followed his orders and make themselves useful by suggesting ideas.

After a long time, a disciple was bound so tightly that he could not breathe anymore, in his dizzy state he randomly bit the snake. The python felt pain and retaliate by biting his throat, that disciple gave a tragic cry and died.

Ding ChunQiu was getting more and more anxious. If he was surrounded by numerous enemies, he could employ devious tricks and schemes, but these snakes were completely immune to tricks and schemes. He feared the snakes might get hungry and eventually swallow him.

His fear was indeed accurate. After not being influenced by the flute sound for a long time, a giant python was extremely hungry, it opened its mouth and bit a Xingxiu disciple. The disciples cried out: "Master save me, Master save me!" His two legs had already been swallowed by the snake. His body was also swallowed; his waist entered first and it slowly moved to his chest. As he was still not yet dead, he cried out loudly; his cry shook the wilderness.

Everyone knew the same thing was about to happen to them, the sight frightened them greatly. One disciple saw the Old Freak of Xingxiu was also at his wits end. His resentment rose and he openly derided him, he blamed Ding ChunQiu for implicating him. He was originally a shepherd at Xingxiu Sea but was threatened and coerced into joining Xingxiu Sect. Since he was to die, he poured out all his resentment and dissatisfaction against Ding ChunQiu.

As he began cursing, the rest of the disciples also joined in. All the disciples suffered regular ill-treatment under Ding ChunQiu; they held the grudge in their heart and dared not voice it out. Since everyone was about to die together, they started to scold him to vent their frustrations. One disciple was cursing loudly and his body stirred, this provoked the python and it retaliated by biting him on the shoulder. The man scream: "Aiyo, Aiyo! Save me, save me!”

You TanZhi saw these people were completely immobilized by the pythons. His heart did not have any more misgivings and he stood up, this place was not suitable for staying and he wanted to leave quickly.

The Xingxiu disciples suddenly saw his iron mask, they had a shock, but then someone remembered that he could help save them. He exclaimed: “Great hero, chivalrous man, please gather some dried leaves and light a fire to drive away these snakes, I immediately give you... give you 1000 taels of silver." 

Another person said: "1000 taels is insufficient, we have to give 10,000 taels” 

And another person said: "This gentleman is a chivalrous person, his conscience is the best, he will definitely carry out a righteous act. Moreover there’s nothing dangerous about lighting a fire to burn the snakes." In an instant their praise got louder and louder, the previous rewards quickly increased to one million taels of gold.

The cursing ability of these disciples is first class; their flattering and bootlicking ability was even better and well honed. You TanZhi had never heard anyone call him "Hero", "Chivalrous", "Benevolent and Righteous", "Peerless Hero”. Under their praise, his body felt light, as if he were floating. He suddenly felt he possessed the spirit of “Great Hero” and “Chivalrous Person”. He did not care for the gold, he only felt regret that AhZi did not hear these people immortalize him.

At once he set off and start picking up dried leaves, but he saw there were many fierce pythons; he was scared of accidentally provoking these snakes and getting trapped by them. After thinking for a while, he gathered dried twigs and made a huge fire in front of him. He picked up one burning twig and threw it at the nearest python. He hid behind the fire, his body tensed; if the snake rushed towards him, he would immediately run and escape. Whatever “Great Hero” or "Chivalrous Person", he didn’t care about it anymore.

The python was indeed afraid of fire. Once it saw the fire burning, it released the Xingxiu people and slithered into the bushes. You TanZhi saw his initial attempt was successful, along with the cheering of the Xingxiu disciples. He lit several more 
twigs and threw them at the pythons. All the snakes started to flee. Even the giant pythons couldn’t withstand the fire, they released their captives and slithered away. Moments later, hundreds of snakes and giant pythons had all fled the scene, not a single one remained.

The Xingxiu disciples celebrated and cheered loudly: "Master is extreme wise. Master has great foresight, the fire method is indeed the most effective."

"Master has great fortune, he turned ill luck into good!”

“It was all due to Master’s graceful manner, he directed with perfect ease. He saved out insignificant lives!”

They kept praising and piling credits on Ding ChunQiu. They did not mention anything about You TanZhi’s effort in freeing them.

You TanZhi stood rooted to the ground, he felt strange. He pondered: “Just a few moments ago you people cursed your Master, but now you praised him to the heavens, and now you completely forgotten about me, what happen to the ‘Great Hero’ and ‘Chivalrous Person’?”

Ding ChunQiu waved his hand to beckon him over and said: “Iron-head guy, come over here, what’s your name?” 

You TanZhi was used to being humiliated, even though Ding ChunQiu was rude he did not care and replied: “My name is You TanZhi.” And he walked a few steps towards him. 

Ding ChunQiu said: “Are those beggars dead? Go check to see if they are still breathing.”

You TanZhi said: “Ok.” He bent over his body and stretched out his hand to check the breath of a beggar. He didn’t feel any breath, the person was long dead. He tried another beggar, his breath also stopped long ago. He said: “All of them are dead, they are not breathing.” He saw the expressions of the Xingxiu disciples were strange; they seem to be gloating at his misfortune. He did not understand the reason behind it, he repeated his words: “All of them are dead, they are not breathing.” After a while the smug look on their faces slowly died off, replaced by expression of shock and disbelief.

Ding ChunQiu said: “Go examine every single beggar, see if any one of them can be saved.” 

You TanZhi said: “Ok.” He examined all the beggars, he shook his head and said: “All of them are dead. Elder’s skill is indeed formidable.” 

Ding ChunQiu smiled sarcastically and said: “Your poison-resisting skill is also formidable.” 

You TanZhi felt curious and said: “My... what… poison resisting skill?”

He was very puzzled; he did not understand the meaning of Ding ChunQiu’s words. He did not realize that when he checked the beggars for breath, it was the same as going to the gates of hell. When Ding ChunQiu was immobilized by the python, he could not escape and had to be rescued by You TanZhi. If news of this spread out he would definitely lose face, thus when the snakes left he immediately thought of silencing You TanZhi. Unexpectedly, for the past few months, You TanZhi kept on practicing the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’. The poison of the Frost Silkworm had also merged flawlessly within his body, thus the poison on the beggars could not harm him at all.

Ding ChunQiu pondered: “Looking at his skin and listening to his voice, he is extremely young. He definitely won’t have any real skill or ability. Most likely he is carrying an anti-poison pearl or some other treasures that repel poison, or he had previously consumed some miracle antidote.” He said: “Brother You, come over here, I have something to say.”

You TanZhi saw his speech was sincere, but he personally witnessed how he viciously killed all the beggars. His disciples also cursed and flattered randomly. He felt these people were extremely difficult to deal with and it was best to stay far away from them. He said: “Junior has something to do, I can’t stay, I have to go now.” He cupped his fists and walk away.

He only walked a few steps, a light breeze swept past his body, both his wrists were caught by someone. You TanZhi raised his head, he saw the person was a large man from the Xingxiu Sect. He did not know his intention, but saw him laugh grimly. He knew he was in trouble and cried: "Let me go!" and he gave a tug.

There was a whooshing sound over his head, a large body flew over his head. With a loud bang the body slammed onto the opposite cliff, the skull was crushed immediately, the brain and skull mixed into a slurry.

You TanZhi saw the person slam into the cliff with an extremely violent force, he found it hard to believe. He was even more astounded that the person was the one holding his wrist moments ago. He was puzzled: "This man is perfectly fine, why did he bang his head on the cliff and commit suicide? Is he mad?" He never suspected that when he gave a tug, his fierce strength threw the large man out onto the cliff.

The group of Xingxiu disciples gave an “Ah” sound, their faces changed color.

Ding ChunQiu saw the way You TanZhi threw his disciple, it was flimsy, not first-class skill, but the physical strength was highly unusual. He thought You TanZhi must be gifted with innate superhuman strength, but his martial arts were mediocre. His body flashed and he extended his hand to push down on You TanZhi’s head. You TanZhi was caught off guard, he was forced to kneel on the ground. He tried to straighten his body to stand up but he felt as if a ten thousand 
pound stone mountain was sitting on his head. He could not move at all. He pleaded: “Elder please spare my life."

Ding ChunQiu heard him plead for mercy, he felt assured and ask: "Who is your teacher? You are really bold, how dare you kill my disciple?” 

You TanZhi said: "I... I have no master, I dare not kill Elder’s disciple."

Ding ChunQiu did not want to waste time talking to him, it would be easier to simply kill him. He released his hand to let You TanZhi stand up. Immediately he waved his palm and struck towards You TanZhi’s chest. You TanZhi had a huge shock and he hastily extended his right hand to deflect the palm. Ding ChunQiu’s palm was slow, You TanZhi extended his right hand and both their palms met. Ding ChunQiu wanted their palms to meet, he gathered his internal energy and sent it out together with the poison in his hand. This was his famous ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’; the victim would either contract deadly poison, or sustain damage to his meridians and become incapable of exerting internal energy. The victim would feel as if all his internal energy was dissolved, the outcome was completely controlled by Ding ChunQiu. Ding ChunQiu killed countless people with this skill. When martial artists hear the words ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, they would feel great loathing and fear.

Both their palms clashed, You TanZhi’s body shook and he retreated 6 or 7 steps. He tried to stand his ground but was forced to sit down. But the opponent’s force did not dissipate, his arm hit the ground and his back also followed, his head also hit the ground and he somersaulted three times. He finally managed to stabilize himself and he kowtowed and said: “Elder please spare my life.”

When Ding ChunQiu clashed palms with him, he felt his internal energy was extremely strong, the energy possessed a strange coldness which also contained deadly poison. Although You TanZhi fell down pathetically, but the poison palm from Ding ChunQiu couldn’t harm his opponent meridians, he couldn’t stop him from exerting internal energy. In terms of internal energy and poison, You TanZhi was not at a disadvantage; why the need to beg for mercy? Could it be that he deliberately ridiculed him? He walked a few steps towards You TanZhi and asked: “You are asking me to spare you life, is it the truth or your faking it?”

You TanZhi kowtowed and said: "Junior is sincere, I beg Elder to spare my life."

Ding ChunQiu pondered: "I don’t know what strange encounter this man met, he accumulated more poison than me, he is a rare treasure. I need to recruit this man find out how he how he practiced his skills, and then absorb all the poison from his body, and then kill him. Won’t it be a waste if I just kill him like this?" He pressed his palm on You TanZhi’s iron head, channeled his internal energy and said: "Unless you accept me as your Master, otherwise why should I spare your life?”

You TanZhi felt as if his head was being roasted, his face felt extremely hot, he was very scared. After being tortured by AhZi, he had long resigned himself to adversity, whatever good or evil, unyielding integrity, he forgotten all about them. He only hoped to preserve his life, he quickly said: "Master, You TanZhi is willing to be your disciple, I beg Master to accept me.”

Ding ChunQiu was overjoyed and said: "You want me to be your Master, why not. But our Sect has many rules and regulations; can you abide all of them? Do you wholeheartedly accept my orders and never dare to defy me?" 

You TanZhi said: "Disciple is willing to abide by the rules and follow Master." 

Ding ChunQiu said: "If I want to take your life, you are willing to give it up?" 
You TanZhi said: "This... this..." 
Ding ChunQiu said: “Think through it properly, if you are willing just say you are willing, if you are not willing just say so.”

You TanZhi pondered: "You want to take my life, of course I am not willing. If it really reaches such a state, then I will simply escape. If I fail to escape then even if I am not willing there’s nothing I can do about it." He replied: “Disciple is willing to die for Master." 

Ding ChunQiu laughed and said: "Very Good, very good. Tell me all about your life experiences."

You TanZhi did not wish to talk about his life experiences or recent misfortune. He said he was a farm boy, he was captured by the Liao during their raid and they put an iron mask on his head. Ding ChunQiu inquired about the strange poison in his body, You TanZhi only revealed how he met the Frost Silkworm and Monk HuiJing, how he stole the Frost Silkworm. He lied, saying that he was accidentally bitten by the silkworm, thus his body was frozen solid and the silkworm just died. He did not mention about AhZi or how she used him to train her poison palm. Ding ChunQiu pressed for more details about the appearance and shape of the Frost Silkworm, his face revealed envy and admiration. You TanZhi considered: "If I talk about the book with strange drawings, he will definitely snatch it and not return it.” Ding ChunQiu asked him about his strange martial arts but he did not reveal the truth.

Ding ChunQiu did not know about the martial arts of the ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’. He saw You TanZhi’s martial arts were only mediocre, but his Yin-Frost internal energy was purely due to the miraculous effect of the Frost Silkworm. He cursed in his heart: "This divine silkworm, to think it was absorbed by some strange coincidence, its really a pity.” After thinking for a while, he asked: “The monk who captured this Frost Silkworm, he is from MinZhong Temple in Nanjing?” 
You TanZhi said: “Yes.”

Ding ChunQiu said: "This monk HuiJing said the Frost Silkworm originated from the summit of Kunlun Mountains. Very good, since one Frost Silkworm came from there, there must be two or three more. But Kunlun Mountain’s radius is a few thousand li, without an experienced guide to point the way it would be difficult to catch the Frost Silkworm." He personally experienced the divine effect of the Frost Silkworm, he felt it was even more valuable than the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’. The prime task was to first capture Monk HuiJing and ask him to lead the way to Kunlun Mountain to capture the Frost Silkworm. Monk HuiJing is from Shaolin, originally it’s a messy affair to mess with him but luckily he was currently based in Nanjing and this makes it easier to capture him. At once he ordered You TanZhi to perform the rites and formally took him in as his disciple.

The rest of the disciples saw their Master especially attentive towards You TanZhi; naturally they heaped tons of praises and tried to get into his good books. This bunch of disciples had openly cursed their Master and surrendered to the enemy. Ding ChunQiu still have uses for them and thus he pretended to forget about their betrayal, moreover, he had foreseen their betrayal and he was not too angry about it.

The group travelled northeast. You TanZhi followed behind Ding ChunQiu; he saw his sleeves fluttering in the wind, his footsteps light, he looked like a god. He felt his admiration rising: "I have such an incredible Master, it’s really due to the good fortune accumulated by my previous life.”

They travelled for three days, on this afternoon, the group rested and quenched their thirst at a pavilion. Suddenly they heard the sound of horses, four people came riding on horses.

The four of them rode their horses near the pavilion. The person on the lead horse shouted: "Elder brother, second brother, there’s water in the pavilion, let drink a few bowls and let the horses regain their stamina." He dismounted from the horse and walked into the pavilion; the other three also dismounted. The four of them saw Ding ChunQiu and his group of disciples, they nodded their head to show courtesy and walked to the vat of water. They used the clay bowl and scooped the water.

You TanZhi saw the first person dressd in black, his figure thin and small, he had a moustache and he looked agile and brave. The second person was dressed in a yellow robe, his figure was thin but his stature tall, both his eyebrow slanted downwards. He looked sickly and had a vicious expression. The third person was dressed in a red robe, his figure tall and sturdy, his ears big; he had a thick white beard, he looked like a rich merchant. The last person was dressd in a green scholar’s robe, he look around fifty years of age, his eyes were narrow perhaps due to studying too much. He did not scoop the water but drank from his own wine gourd.

At this moment, a monk came walking with big strides on the road. He stopped outside the pavilion, joined both his hands together and respectfully said: "Benefactors, junior monk is thirsty, I wish to rest in the pavilion and drink a bowl of water." 

The black-robe person smiled and said: "Master doesn’t need to be so courteous. We are all passers-by, this pavilion is not built by us. Come in and drink some water." 

The monk replied: "Amituofo, thank you very much." He entered the pavilion.

The monk was around twenty-five years of age, dense eyebrows and big eyes; a big sinking flat nose, his appearance was rather ugly. His monk’s robe had numerous cloth patches and was extremely clean. He waited for the three men to finish drinking before approaching 
the water vat. He scooped a bowl of water, pressed both his hands together and lowered his head. He respectfully said: "When Buddha gazes upon a bowl of water, he sees 84 thousand bugs. If I don’t chant this mantra I will be breaking my oath of abstinence from meat" 

He chanted the mantra: “Yan Fu Xi Bo Luo Mo Ni Sha He”. After he finished chanting, he drank the water.

The black-robed man felt curious when he saw this, he asked: "Little master, why are you chanting?" 

The monk said: "Junior monk is chanting the mantra for drinking water. When Buddha gazes upon a bowl of water, he sees 84 thousand bugs. Monks are forbidden to kill, thus I have to chant this mantra before drinking the water." 

The black-robe man laughed and said: “Little master you really like to joke, this water is very clean, there’s no bugs" 

The monk replied: "Benefactor you don’t understand. With our mortal eyes, you can’t see any bugs in the water; but with the divine eye of Buddha, he can see thousands of bugs in the water." 

The black-robe man laughed: "After chanting the mantra, you drink all the 84 thousand bugs into your stomach, the bugs won’t die anymore?" 

The monk hesitated and said: "This.... this... my master didn’t teach me. Most probably they won’t die.”

The yellow-robed man interrupted and said: “Not true, not true! The bug still has to die, but when little master chanted the mantra, the 84 thousand bugs will all go to heaven. Little master drinks a bowl of water and help 84 thousand souls find peace. Great achievement, great achievement!”

The monk did not know whether his words were true or false. Both his hands held onto the bowl of water, he stared blankly and muttered: “Drink a bowl of water and help 84 thousand soul find peace? I don’t have such great powers.”

The yellow-robed man stood beside the monk and took the bowl from his hand. He inspected the bowl and counted: "One, two, three, four, five, six, thousand, two thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand ... Not true, not true! Little master, the bowl has 83,999 bugs, you counted one extra.”

The monk said: "Namo Amituofo. Benefactor you must be joking. You are a mortal, how can you possess the divine eye?" 

The yellow-robed man said: "So you have divine eyes?" 

The monk said: "I don’t have them." 

The yellow-robed man replied: "Not true, not true! I think you have divine eyes, or else how would you know I am a mortal and not Bodhisattva?” 

The monk looked at him, left and right, his expression utterly perplexed.

The big red-robed man walked over, took the clay bowl and returned it to the monk, laughing: “Master please drink the water! This brother of mine is only pulling your leg, don’t take it seriously.” 

The monk accepted the bowl and said respectfully: “Many thanks, many thanks.” But his heart felt uncertain and he did not drink the water. 

The big man said: “I saw little master footstep is sturdy, you possess martial arts, how should I address you, where did you become a monk?”

The monk put the bowl on top of the cover of the water vat, he bowed and said: "Junior monk is XuZhu, I am from Shaolin Temple.”

The black-robed man shouted: "Terrific, terrific! So you turn out to be an expert from Shaolin, come, come, come! You and I will spar!” 

XuZhu waved his hand repeatedly and said: “Junior monk’s martial arts are lowly, how would I dare to fight with sir?” 

The black-robed man said: “I didn’t get into fights for many days, my hands are itchy. We are only sparing, it’s not a real fight, why are you so scared?” 

XuZhu retreated two steps and said: “Although junior monk practiced martial arts for a few years, but it was purely for strengthening my body, I really can’t fight.” 

The black-robed man said: “All the monks from Shaolin are experts in martial arts. Monks who just started learning martial arts are forbidden to leave the temple. Since little master is able to leave the temple, then you must be a top expert. Come, come! We will only spar for 100 moves, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses.”

XuZhu retreated another two steps and said: “Benefactor you don’t understand, junior monk is able to leave the temple, not because of my martial arts, but because the temple currently lacks people to deliver letters. Junior monk is forced to help out in delivering the letters. Junior monk is to deliver ten ‘Heroes Invitation Card’. My master ordered me to return immediately once they have been delivered. I am forbidden to fight. I have delivered four of the cards, I still have six cards with me. Benefactor you martial arts are superb, please accept this invitation card.” He retrieved an oilcloth bag from within his bosom; he opened the bag and took out a big red card. He respectfully presented it and said: “May I ask for your name so that I can account for it when I report back to my master.”

The black-robed man did not take the card, he said: “You did not fight with me, how you know I am a hero or coward? Let’s spar for a few moves, I will accept this card after I beat you.” He took two 
steps forward, his left fist made a false move, his right fist swung towards XuZhu. As he fist was about to reach XuZhu, he immediately held it back and shouted: “Quick retaliate!”

The burly red-robed man heard XuZhu mentioned about ‘Heroes Invitation Card’, his interest was piqued and he said: "Fourth younger brother, there’s no hurry to compete, let’s take a look at what is on the invitation card." He took the card from XuZhu and saw the words written: “Shaolin Temple’s abbot XuanCi, respectfully invites heroes from all over the world to gather on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, the Chongyang Festival, at Songshan Shaolin Temple to challenge the reputation of Gusu’s Murong’s ‘Returning you with your own move’.”

The burly man gave an “Ah” cry. He gave the card to the scholar beside him and said to XuZhu: “So Shaolin is holding this ‘Heroes Meet’ to challenge Gusu Murong family...” 
The black-robed man shouted: “Excellent, excellent, I am called ‘Gust of Wind’ Feng BoE, I am the subordinate of Gusu’s Murong family. You don’t need any ‘Heroes Meet’, I will personally ask for advice from a Shaolin expert now.”

XuZhu retreated another two steps, his left foot was outside the pavilion, he said: “So you are Benefactor Feng. My master told me, Shaolin Temple is requesting Mr. Murong’s esteem presence at the temple, but we dare not offend him. It’s only that rumors have been spreading around and many people have died in recent years under Gusu Murong’s divine skill in ‘Returning you with your own move’. My martial grandfather Master XuanBei died in Dali, we don’t know if it’s related to the Murong family, except for our Abbot, everyone had suspicion in their heart, thus he....”

The black-robed man interrupted and said: “This matter is not related to our Gusu Murong family, but you will most probably not believe me even if I tell you. Since we can’t fully explain the goings-on of this matter, we will settle it through martial arts. Let’s do it this way. Both of us will spar right now, it’s like drumming up support and setting the stage for the main show. On Chongyang Festival, I will then visit Shaolin Temple and fight every single challenger, joyful, joyful! But after going through 17 or 18 challengers I will most probably be heavily injured and immobile and won’t have the chance to fight with your abbot XuanCi. “sigh” I don’t have the fate, pity, pity!” As he finished he rubbed his fists to get redy for the fight.

The burly man said: “Fourth younger brother, hold on, we will clarify first, it’s not too late to fight afterwards.”

The yellow-robed man said: “Not true, not true. If we clarify the matter then there’s no need to fight. Fourth younger brother, this is a good opportunity, if you want to fight you cannot clarify the matter.”

The tall and sturdy man ignored both his brothers and said to XuZhu: “I am Deng BaiChuan, the person over there is my second younger brother GongYe Gan.” As he finished he pointed at the scholar. Then he pointed at the yellow-robed man and said: “This is my third younger brother Bao BuTong. We are all followers of Young Master Murong.”

XuZhu paid tribute to all four men, he said: “Benefactor Deng, Benefactor Gong...” 

Bao BuTong interrupted: “Not true, not true. My second brother surname is GongYe, you call him Benefactor Gong, that is wrong.” 

XuZhu quickly said: “Pardon me, pardon me! Junior monk is poorly educated, Benefactor GongYe please don’t be offended. Benefactor Bao....” 

Bao BuTong interrupted again: “Wrong again. Although my surname is Bao, but I have never given alms to monks or nuns in my entire life, thus you cannot address me as Benefactor.” 

XuZhu said: “Yes, yes. 3rd Senior Bao, 4th Master Feng.” 

Bao BuTong said: “Wrong again. My younger brother Feng will fight with you later, no matter who win or lose, you will gain some experience, your martial arts will definitely have some progress, isn’t he making a donation to you?” 

XuZhu said: “Yes, yes. Benefactor Feng, junior monk really cannot fight. Monks should focus primarily on cultivating the inner-self, martial arts are secondary, it doesn’t matter if my martial arts are lousy.”

Feng BoE sighed: “You don’t take martial arts seriously, your skill is most likely ordinary, there’s no need to fight anymore.” As he finished, he shook his head repeatedly, his enthusiasm dulled. 

XuZhu breathed a sigh of relief, his expression joyful and said: “Yes, yes.”

Deng BaiChuan said: “Master XuZhu, this invitation card, I will accept it on behalf of my Young Master. My Young Master should have already visited your temple a few months ago. Could it be that he never came?”

XuZhu replied: “He didn’t visit. The abbot longed for his arrival but he didn’t come. Twice we sent our people to visit your residence, but we only heard that senior elder Murong had died and your Young Master had left the residence. This time, the abbot requested the Head-Monk of Damo Hall to visit your residence in Suzhou to deliver the invitation card. He’s afraid that your Young Master is still not at home and he could only try to widely circulate the invitation card within the martial arts fraternity. I hope you can explain this indiscretion to your Young Master. When Benefactor Murong visits our temple next year, our Abbot will personally offer his apology.”

Deng BaiChuan said: “Little master doesn’t need to be so polite. The appointed date is still a long time away, my Young Master will definitely visit Shaolin Temple at the appointed date and pay his respects to the Abbot.” 

XuZhu join his hands together and bow, he said: “Our Abbot greatly welcomes Young Master Murong and all of you to visit Shaolin Temple.”

Feng BoE saw XuZhu is outdated and overly formal, he didn’t have the least bit of the passionate straightforward behavior of martial artists. He may be a monk, but he doesn’t look like a world renowned “Shaolin Monk”. He could no longer tolerate him and ignored him. He turned and looked at Ding ChunQiu and his group of disciples. The Xingxiu disciples all carried weapons, obviously they are martial artists. Feng BoE should be able to select a few and fight with them.

When You TanZhi saw Feng BoE and the rest entered the pavilion, he immediately hid behind his master. Ding ChunQiu was tall and large and was able to hide him. Deng BaiChuan and the rest did not see his weird iron head. Feng BoE saw Ding ChunQiu was healthy in old age, he had an immortal aura about him and look like a top master. Feng BoE felt his admiration rising, but he still stepped forward and challenged him: “May I know the name of this elder?” 

Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: “My surname is Ding”

At this moment, XuZhu suddenly gave an “Ah” sound, he shouted: “Martial grandfather, you are here!” 

Feng BoE turned his head, he saw 7 or 8 monks travelling on the road. Leading the group were two elder monks. Two monks at the rear carried a stretcher and someone was lying on it. XuZhu quickly stepped out of the pavilion and paid his respects to the two elder monks. He also reported about Deng BaiChuan and his group.

The monk on the right nodded his head, he entered the pavilion and said to Deng BaiChuan: “Old monk is XuanNan” He pointed to another elder monk and said: “This is my junior martial brother XuanTong. It’s fortunate that we get to meet four great virtuous people from Gusu’s Murong family.”

Deng BaiChuan and the rest had long heard of XuanNan’s reputation. His face was full of wrinkles, his gaze deep and clear. They quickly paid their respects. Feng BoE said: “Great Master is Head-Monk of Shaolin’s Damo-Hall. I have long heard of your divine skills, I wish to ask for some advice.”

XuanNan gave a slight smile and said: “Old monk and junior XuanTong receive the orders of our Abbot to travel to Jiangnan’s Basin of Swallows, the residence of the Murong family, to deliver the invitation card. This is the third time our temple has sent someone to the Basin of Swallows. But unexpectedly we meet here by chance; our fate is really deep.” As he finished he took out a red invitation card from his bosom.

Deng BaiChuan accepted the card with both hands, he saw the words on the card: “Respectfully inviting Benefactor Murong from Gusu’s Basin of Swallows”. He knew the contents must be similar to the card delivered by XuZhu, he said: “Both of you are eminent monks of Shaolin Temple, you enjoy great reputation in the martial arts fraternity. It’s a great honor for our Murong family to have you personally deliver the card. We have already gotten the invitation card from that little master, we should have responded quickly. On Chongyang Festival, my Young Master Murong will definitely pay his respects at Shaolin Temple. He will personally express his thanks to all eminent monks of Shaolin and clarify all misunderstandings.”

XuanNan pondered: “You said to clarify all misunderstandings, could it be that senior martial brother XuanBei was not killed by your Murong family?” 

Suddenly he heard someone shout behind him: “Ah, Master, its him!” XuanNan turned his head, he saw a weird looking man point his finger at the stretcher. The man whispered something to the white-hair old man.

You TanZhi whispered to Ding ChunQiu: “The fat monk on the stretcher, he is the one who captured the Frost Silkworm, but I don’t know how he ended up being stretchered away by Shaolin.”

Ding ChunQiu heard that this fat monk was the original owner of the Frost Silkworm, he was overjoyed and whispered: “You didn’t mistake him for someone else?” 

You TanZhi said: “No, he is called HuiJing. Master look, his body is fat and his belly round.” 

Ding ChunQiu saw HuiJing’s belly was even larger than a pregnant woman; with such a large belly, no one ouldl ever forget it once they see it. They wouldn’t mistake him for someone else. Ding ChunQiu said to XuanNan: “Great Master, I am a friend of this monk HuiJing, is he sick?”

XuanNan press edboth his hands together and said: “May I ask the name of Benefactor, how did you know my martial nephew?”

Ding ChunQiu considered: “This HuiJing is with a group of Shaolin monks, this is very troublesome. Luckily we met him here, we can kidnap or seize him, much easier than trying to infiltrate Shaolin to capture him.” As he thought about the miraculous effect of the Frost Silkworm, he chest felt hot, he said: “I am Ding ChunQiu.”

As he said the word “Ding ChunQiu”, XuanNan, XuanTong, Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan, Bao BuTong, Feng BoE, all six of them simultaneously gave an “Ah” sound, their expressions became grave. The evil reputation of the ‘Old Freak of Xingxiu’ is renowned throughout the world; they did not expect him to be a person with such graceful manner and elegance. Even more unexpected was to be able to meet him at this pavilion. The six of them immediately became alert to guard against him.

XuanNan calmed down in an instant, he said: “So its Mr. Ding from Xingxiu Sea. I have long heard of your name, it’s really well known.” He did not say “it’s fortunate to meet you” or other pleasantries, XuanNan thought: “Whoever meets you, it really their great misfortune.”

Ding ChunQiu said: “I don’t dare, Head-Monk of Shaolin’s Damo-Hall ‘Shifting Heaven and Earth Within His Sleeves’, is renowned all over the world; truly well known and respected. This monk HuiJing, I am looking all over for him, to think we can meet here, excellent, excellent!”

XuanNan’s eyebrows slightly narrowed, he said: “It’s unfortunate, martial nephew HuiJing did not obey the teachings of Shaolin Temple; he broke numerous rules. A year ago, he left the temple without permission and committed numerous evils. The Abbot dispatched several people to look for him. After much effort they finally found him and now we are bringing him back to the temple. Mr. Ding, you have met him before?” 

Ding ChunQiu said: “So his not sick, he was injured by you people.Are his injuries serious?” 

XuanNan did not reply immediately, after a while he said: “He refused to accept the orders of the Abbot, he even injured others.” XuanNan pondered: “If he associated with evil demons like you, he broke another great commandment.”

Ding ChunQiu said: “I was at Kunlun Mountain, I spent a lot of effort before capturing a Frost Silkworm; it’s an extremely important object, but it got stolen by monk HuiJing. I travelled from Xingxiu Sea to the Central Plains just to retrieve the Frost Silkworm...”

He had not finished his words as HuiJing shouted: “Where is my Frost Silkworm? You’ve seen my Frost Silkworm? I found the silkworm after much painstaking effort at Kunlun Mountain.... you... you... you stole it?”

Ever since You TanZhi revealed himself by shouting out, Feng BoE kept looking and examining his iron mask. He did not bother about the conversation between XuanNan, Ding ChunQiu and HuiJing. He walked a few circles around You TanZhi. He saw the iron mask was very well made, it could not be remove from his head. He wanted to stretch out his hands to knock on the mask, after examining it a while he said: “Hello friend, how are you!”

You TanZhi replied: “I.... I am fine!” He saw Feng BoE was very energetic, jumping and moving around; he was scared. Feng BoE said: “Friend, this iron mask, how did you put it on? I have travelled all over the world but I have never seen such face mask before.” 

You TanZhi felt ashamed, he lowered his head and said: “This... my... this was not under my control. I did not put it on myself.”

Feng BoE listened to his pitiful plight, he was angered: “Who played this kind of joke on you? I will personally pay him a visit.” He stared at Ding ChunQiu, thinking that it must be the doings of the old man. 

You TanZhi quickly said: “ it’s not my master.” 

Feng BoE said: “You are a proper man, what’s the big idea in putting on this iron mask? Come, I’ll remove it for you.” He retrieved a dagger from his boots, the blade glimmered brightly; obviously it was extremely sharp. He was about to 
use it to remove the mask.

You TanZhi knew the mask was stuck onto his face and the back of his head; it was interlinked with his flesh and blood. His life would be in great danger if it was forcibly removed. He quickly said: “No, no, you cannot remove it!” 

Feng BoE said: “Don’t be scared, this dagger of mine can cut through iron as if it was made of mud, I won’t harm your skin and flesh when I remove the mask.” 

You TanZhi shouted: “No, you cannot do it.” 

Feng BoE said: “You are scared of the person who put this mask on you, correct? When you see him next time, just say that Mr. Feng forcibly removed it and it is beyond your control. Ask the evil person to come find me.” As he finished speaking, he held onto You TanZhi’s left wrist.

You TanZhi saw the dagger flash brightly, he was extremely shock and shouted: “Master, master!” He turned his head to seek help from Ding ChunQiu. Ding ChunQiu was standing beside the stretcher, his attention focused solely on HuiJing; he did not hear his pleas for help. Feng BoE raised his dagger, he scraped the iron mask with it. You TanZhi panicked and waved his right palm, he wanted to push him away. There was a “Pai” sound, he hit Feng BoE right in the middle of his left shoulder.

Feng BoE was preoccupied with shearing the iron mask, he feared he might slip and injure You TanZhi’s face, he did not guard against the palm. The strength in the palm was exceptional, Feng BoE groaned and fell down. He used his left hand to push off the ground and got back up, with a “Wa” sound, he vomited a mouthful of fresh blood.

Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan, Bao BuTong, the three of them saw You TanZhi’s sneak attack. Their 4th younger brother had a huge disadvantage, they were extremely shocked. When they saw Feng BoE deathly pale face they became even more worried. GongYe Gan took his pulse, the pulse was rapid and irregular, there seemed to be a faint trace of poisoning. He pointed at You TanZhi and cursed: “Good kid, top disciple of the Old Freak of Xingxiu, requite kindness with ingratitude. You use such a vicious method to injure people.” He took out a small bottle from his bosom, removed the bottle cap and took out a detoxification pill; he fed it to Feng BoE.

Deng BaiChuan and Bao BuTong bodies flashed; they blocked You TanZhi and Ding ChunQiu. Bao BuTong secretly gathered internal energy into his left hand; his fingers formed a claw, he was about to grab You TanZhi’s chest. Deng BaiChuan said: “3rd younger brother, stay your hand!” Bao BuTong did not attack, his eyes shifted towards his elder brother. Deng BaiChuan said: “Our Gusu Murong family has no feud with Xingxiu Sect, our 4th younger brother has good intentions in removing the iron mask, why did your Xingxiu Sect injure him? I want to seek Mr. Ding for clarification.”

Ding ChunQiu saw his new disciple only need one palm stroke to injure a good fighter from Gusu Murong family; Xingxiu Sect thus commanded awe-inspiring authority. He was secretly pleased and admired the miraculous effect of the Frost Silkworm even more. He smiled and said: “Master Feng is brave and relentless, but he also likes to poke his nose into other’s business. This disciple of mine likes to wear an iron mask, how did it obstruct your Gusu Murong family?”

GongYe Gan had supported Feng BoE into a sitting position, but his whole body was shivering, his teeth chattering and grinding; it was as if his in a freezer. After a while, his lips turned purple, his face also gradually turned from white to green. GongYe Gan’s detoxification pill had miraculous effects, but after being consumed by Feng BoE, it seemed to vanish without a trace and had absolutely no effect at all.

GongYe Gan was desperate, he placed his hands near Feng BoE to check his breathing. Suddenly a burst of cold air entered his palm, the chill penetrated into his bones. GongYe Gan quickly withdraw his hands and said: “Not good, why is the cold so powerful?” Even the air exhaled by Feng BoE was so cold, the ‘Frost Poison’ in him must be very serious. The situation was very dangerous, there was no time to debate who’s right or wrong. He turned around and said to Ding ChunQiu: “My younger brother is poisoned by your disciple, please give us the antidote.”

The poison contracted by Feng BoE is the deadly poison of the Frost Silkworm, forced out by the internal energy of You TanZhi’s ‘Tendon-Changing Sutra’, not to mention that Ding ChunQiu did not have the antidote for it, even if he did have it why would he surrender it? Ding ChunQiu raised his head and laughed towards the Heavens and shouted: “Ah Wu Liu Lu Gong! Ah Wu Liu Lu Gong!” and flicked his sleeves, generating a burst of wind. Suddenly the Xingxiu disciples all rushed out of the pavilion and quickly ran away.

Deng BaiChuan and the rest of the Shaolin monks felt this gust of wind irritated their eyes. It was really hard to bear and their tears rolled down endlessly; they could not open their eyes. They secretly cursed: “Not good!” They knew Ding ChunQiu’s sleeve contained poison powder, with this flick of his sleeves, all the poison got scattered. Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan, Bao BuTong, all three of them blocked in front of Feng BoE; they were afraid the enemy might harm him. XuanNan shut his eyes and push out with his palm, it happen to hit the pillar of the pavilion. The pillar immediately snapped and half of the pavilion collapsed and came crashing down; roof tiles and mud rained down. Everyone struggled to open their eyes, Ding ChunQiu and You TanZhi had disappeared.

A few Shaolin monks shouted: “Where is HuiJing? Where is HuiJing?” It seemed during the confusion, HuiJing was abducted by Ding ChunQiu. The empty stretcher covered the head of one Shaolin monk. XuanTong was furious: “Give chase!” and he rushed out of the pavilion. Deng BaiChuan and Bao BuTong followed him and gave chase as well. XuanNan waved his left hand and led the rest of the Shaolin monks to follow and provide assistance.

GongYe Gan was taking care of Feng BoE, both of them resting at the other intact half of the pavilion. GongYe Gan felt stinging pain in his eye, tears kept on flowing. He saw cold sweat seeping through Feng BoE’s forehead, after a while it became frost. As he was getting scared and anxious, he heard the sound of footsteps. GongYe Gan raised his head, he saw Deng BaiChuan supporting Bao BuTong, they walked quickly. GongYe Gan had a huge shock, he said: “Big brother, 3rd younger brother is injured?” 

Deng BaiChuan said: “He got poisoned by that iron-head man.” After a while XuanNan and the rest of the monks also returned to the pavilion. XuanTong was leaning on XuZhu’s back, his teeth were making chattering sounds. XuanNan, Deng BaiChuan and GongYe Gan looked at each other in fear; they were at a loss on what to do.

Deng BaiChuan said: “That iron-head man and 3rd younger brother clashed palms, after that he also clash palm with Master XuanTong. We didn’t expect.... didn’t expect the poison of Xingxiu Sect to be so powerful.”

XuanNan took out a small box from his bosom, he said: “Our school’s ‘Six Solar Energy Pill’ is effective in countering ‘Frost Poison’.” He remove the lid of the box and took out 3 blood-red pills, he gave 2 of them to Deng BaiChuan and fed the 3rd pill to XuanTong.

Using the time required to eat a meal, XuanTong and the other two men slowly combated the chill until it stopped. Bao BuTong cursed loudly: “This iron-head man, da.... damn it, what kind of palm strength is that?” 

Deng BaiChuan said: “3rd younger brother, curse later, focus on channeling your energy.” 

Bao BuTong said: “Not true, not true! If I don’t curse now, once I die, I can’t curse anymore.” 

Deng BaiChuan smiled and said: “Don’t worry, you won’t die!” As he said this he pressed his palm on Bao BuTong’s back, on his ‘ZhiYan’ acupoint. He used his internal energy to help him drive out the ‘Frost Poison’. GongYe Gan and XuanNan also used their internal energy to assist Feng BoE and XuanTong to drive out the poison.

XuanNan and XuanTong had deep internal energy. After a while, XuanTong gave a long sigh and said: “Its done!” and he stood up. He continued: “Such power!” XuanNan wanted to assist Bao BuTong and Feng BoE to drive out the poison, but the other party did not request his help. If he carelessly tried to offer his help it might be seen as looking down upon their internal energy; this was seen as breaking a taboo in the martial arts fraternity.

Suddenly, XuanTong’s body swayed, his teeth started chattering again. He immediately sat down and channeled his internal energy and said: “Martial.... martial brother, this frost... ‘Frost Poison’ very odd....” XuanNan quickly channeled his internal energy to assist him. The three of them circulated their internal energy continuously; the ‘Frost Poison’ felt better for a moment, but it flared up again immediately. This went on until dusk, the three of them had already consume three ‘Six Solar Energy Pills’, but the ‘Frost Poison’ was not expelled at all. XuanNan brought ten pills with him and he was left with one: he divided it into three parts and gave the three of them one each. Bao BuTong refused to take it, he said: “Even if I consume 100 pills, it.... it won’t....”

XuanNan was at his wits end, he said: “Benefactor Bao is correct, this ‘Six Solar Energy Pill’ is not the correct remedy, our internal energy also can’t suppress this Yin-poison. In my opinion, we have to invite Divine Physician Xue, nicknamed ‘Enemy of King of Hell’, he can cure whatever difficult illness.” 

Bao BuTong said: “Great Master, you know the whereabouts of this Divine Physician?” 

XuanNan said: “Divine Physician Xue lives in Ancestor-Willow Town at YangZhiXi, it’s not far from here. Old monk has met him many times before, if we go to him and ask for treatment he mostly probably won’t reject us. Gusu Murong family is renowned throughout the world, Divine Physician Xue long admires you, he will definitely be gratified if he can become friends with the four of you.”

Bao BuTong said: “Not true, not true. If Divine Physician Xue sees us all, he might not be gratified. Nevertheless, everyone is afraid of my Young Master’s ‘Returning you with your own move’, but Divine Physician Xue is not afraid. In the future, if the Divine Physician is dying, he only has to find my Young Master and with his ‘Returning you with your own move’, his... his... his old life can be saved.”

Everyone laughed out loud, they left the pavilion. They reached a small town and hired three carriages to let the three injured men rest and recuperate. Deng BaiChuan also bought a few horses and gave them to Shaolin monks to ride.

After travelling for 4-6 hours, they group had to stop and assist XuanTong and the other injured men to combat the ‘Frost Poison’. Eventually, XuanNan did not have any inhibition and he used the divine skills of Shaolin to help Bao BuTong and 
Feng BoE to combat the poison. Although the route to Ancestor-Willow Town was not too far, it passed through a rugged mountain path and they had numerous delays. They finally reach the town at dusk on the fourtth day. Divine Physician Xue lived within the remote mountain 30 li north of the Ancestor-Willow Town. Luckily the Divine Physician had explained the route in detail to XuanNan when they met at Juxian Manor. The group did not spend too much effort searching and they arrived outside the home of Divine Physician Xue.

XuanNan saw several large houses erected beside the river, there was a huge medicine garden in front of the houses. He knew he had arrived at the home of Divine Physician Xue. He dismounted and stepped forward, he saw two large white lanterns hanging by the door. He was surprised: “The Xue family has a sick family member?” He rushed forwards a few zhang, he saw a few sackcloths hanging over the door, a paper streamer to call back the spirit of the dead was inserted beside the door. It seemed the family is holding a funeral. He saw two rows of words written on the paper lanterns: “The funeral of Xue MuHua, died at the age of 55.” XuanNan had a huge shock: “Divine Physician Xue can’t cure himself and hence he passed away, this is terrible.” As he thought about the passing of this old friend, from now on they were separated by the nether world, he could not help but feel sentimental and sorrowful.

Following behind him was Deng BaiChuan and GongYe Gan, they came riding on horses, both of them gasped in unison: “Ah Ya!”

Suddenly they heard cries from within the house; it was the widow: “My husband, you have divine medical skills, who would have expected you to contract this acute disease. You abandoned me and left me alone. Husband, although you are called ‘Enemy of King of Hell’, you still can’t beat the King of Hell. When you go to the nether world, the King of Hell will settle this score with you. You are in for a hard time!”

After a while, the three carriages and six Shaolin monks arrived. Deng BaiChuan dismounted and said loudly: “Master XuanNan from Shaolin Temple, along with some friends, we have some matters and seek the help of Divine Physician Xue.” His voice rang out like a large bell, the cries from within the house stopped.

After a while, an elder stepped out of the house. He was dressed like a servant, tears flowing down his face, he was very sad. He beat his chest and said: “Old master died yesterday afternoon, you all... you all can’t see him anymore.”

XuanNan pressed his hands together and asked: “What is the illness contracted by Mr. Xue?” 

The old servant replied: “I don’t know, he just suddenly stop breathing. Old master provides treatment for others, whatever medicine he prescribes the illness will be cured... but... but... for himself...” 

XuanNan ask again: “Is there anyone left in Mr. Xue’s family?” 

The old servant replied: “None, no one.” 

Deng BaiChuan and GongYe Gan gave each other a glance; they felt the servant’s tone did not contain any sadness when he said this. Moreover, they had heard the cries of the widow just now. XuanNan sighed and said: “Life and death is predestined, please lead us to his coffin and let us pay our last respect.” 

The old servant said: “This... this... ok.” He led the group and entered the house.

GongYe Gan was one step behind, he whispered to Deng BaiChuan: “Big brother, I think there’s something odd about this incident, that old servant’s behavior is suspicious.” Deng BaiChuan nodded his head and followed the old servant to the mourning hall.

The furnishings in the mourning hall were crude, some items were not placed correctly. The spirit tablet contained the words: “Memorial tablet of Xue MuHua”, the words were strong and forceful, obviously it was written by someone with deep learning; it was definitely not written by the old servant. Deng BaiChuan noted all these details but he did not comment. All of them paid their respects before the memorial tablet. GongYe Gan turned his head, he saw more than ten sets of clothes hanging on a bamboo pole in the courtyard. There were clothes for married woman and a few clothes for children. He thought: “Divine Physician Xue obviously had a wife and children, why did that old servant say there’s no one in the family?”

XuanNan said: “We came from afar to seek treatment from Divine Physician Xue, we never expected Mr. Xue to pass away. This is really sad. It’s getting late now, we wish to stay for the night in your esteemed home.” 

The old servant looked very reluctant, he said: “This... this... en, fine! I invite all of you rest in the hall, I will go prepare the meals.” 

XuanNan said: “Housekeeper you don’t have to spend too much effort, simple rice and vegetables is enough.” 

The old servant replied: “Yes, yes! Everyone please sit down and rest.” He led the group to the outer hall; he then entered the inner hall.

After a long time, the old servant had not come out to serve tea. XuanNan considered: “This old servant just experience the death of his master, it is unavoidable that he is confused. ‘Sigh’, my martial brother XuanTong contracted this ‘Frost Poison’, how should we deal with it?” 

The group waited for over an hour, but the old servant still did not appear. Bao BuTong felt restless, he said: “I will go find some water to drink” 

XuZhu said: “Mr. Bao, please sit down and rest. I will go help the old servant to boil the water.” He stood up and entered the inner hall. 

GongYe Gan wanted to examine the goings-on around the house, he said: “I will accompany you.”

Both of them entered the inner hall. The Xue residence was quite large, threre were five halls, but they did not see the slightest trace of a person’s presence. Both of them entered the kitchen, but the old servant could not be found anywhere.

GongYe Gan knew something was not right. He quickly went back to the outer hall and said: “Something is not right in this house, I think Divine Physician Xue might be faking his death.” 

XuanNan stood up and asked: “What should we do about this?” 

GongYe Gan said: “Great Master, I want to examine the coffin.” The group rushed to the mourning hall. He extended his hand to lift the coffin, suddenly he had a strange thought, he quickly withdraw his hand. he took a shirt hanging on the bamboo pole and wrapped it around his hands. He gathered his internal energy and lifted the coffin, he felt it was very heavy; the coffin definitely did not contain a corpse. He said: “Divine Physician Xue really faked his death.”

Feng BoE took out his blade and said: “Pry open the coffin lid and look inside.” 

GongYe Gan said: “This person is known as Divine Physician, he is definitely an expert in poison, 4th younger brother, you have to be careful.” 

Feng BoE said: “I will keep that in mind.” He inserted the tip of the blade between the lid and the coffin, he pushed upward, there was a creaking sound and the coffin lid was slowly lifted. Feng BoE held his breath; he was afraid poison powder might come out of the coffin.

Bao BuTong walk to the courtyard and caught two chickens. He returned to the mourning hall, he raised his hands and threw the two chickens. The chickens crowed loudly and moved pass the coffin and landed in front of the memorial tablet. The chickens moved towards the direction of the courtyard, but after a few steps they collapsed; their feet twitched a few times and they stopped moving and died. The wind blew from the corridor, the feathers on the chickens all scattered and flew up in the air. Everyone was dumbstruck when they saw this. The chickens had just died of poisoning and all their feathers immediately dropped off; it could clearly be said that the poison was really violent. No one dared to go near the coffin.

XuanNan said: “Benefactor Deng, what is the reason behind this? Why did Divine Physician Xue fake his own death?” As he finished he leapt upward, his left hand grabbed the crossbeam. He look inside the coffin, the coffin was filled with rocks; with the rocks was a big bowl, the bowl was filled with clear water. This bowl of clear water was obviously the poison. XuanNan shook his head and jumped down. He said: “Even if Benefactor Xue refuses to provide treatment, there’s no need to lay such elaborate trap to harm us. Shaolin had no grievance with him, this kind of behavior, isn’t it unjustifiable? Could it be... could it be...” He said ‘could it be’ twice and shut his mouth. He thought: “Could it be he has some huge grievances with Gusu’s Murong family?”

Bao BuTong said: “There’s no need for you to guess, my Young Master Murong has never met Divine Physician Xue, there’s no need to even mention hatred or vengeance. If he is our enemy, even if our poison is ten times more unbearable, we would never come here and beg him for treatment. You think the ones surnamed Bao and surnamed Feng are garbage?” 

XuanNan placed his hands together and said: “Benefactor Bao is correct, old monk guessed wrongly.” He was an eminent monk, since his heart did suspect them, even if he did not say it out loud, he should still shoulder the blame.

Deng BaiChuan said: “Poison gas is filling the entire area, it’s not convenient to stay here, let’s go back to the inner hall.” The group went to the inner hall, they discussed it with each other but still could not guess why Divine Physician Xue faked his own death and lay down the poison trap. 

Bao BuTong said: “This Divine Physician Xue is so vicious, let’s just use fire and torch this entire place down.” 

Deng BaiChuan said: “We can’t do that, Divine Physician Xue is still considered to be a friend of Shaolin, since Master XuanNan is here we cannot act rashly.”

Currently, the surroundings were pitch black, there was no light in the hall. Everyone was thirsty and hungry but they dare not drink the tea and water found in the house. XuanNan said: “Let’s go to a nearby farmhouse to ask for some water and food. Benefactors what do you think of this idea?” 

Deng BaiChuan said: “Yes. But it's best that we don’t eat any food or drink within three li radius. This Divine Physician Xue put a lot of effort in his schemes, he won’t stop at just putting a coffin, we will feel terribly apologetic if great master gets implicated again.” Although he and GongYe Gan knew the trouble was not caused by them, but the reputation of Gusu Murong’s ‘Returning you with your own move’ was simply too great. They made quite a lot of enemies in the martial arts fraternity, some relatives of Divine Physician Xue might have been accidentally killed and this blood-debt was placed on Gusu Murong’s family.

All of them stood up and walked towards the front door. Suddenly they saw bright light flashing in the west, a stream of flame dispersed and turned into a green color. It covered the entire sky and came raining down, it was magnificent and beautiful. Feng BoE said: “Yi, who released this firework? Now is not the Lantern festival or the Mid-autumn festival, why are people releasing fireworks?” After a while, orange-yellow fireworks rose up in the sky; it looked like thousands of flying stars colliding with each other.

GongYe Gan thought about it and said: “This is not fireworks, it’s the signal from the enemy to execute a surprise attack.” 

Feng BoE shouted: “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Let’s fight to our hearts content!”

Deng BaiChuan said: “3rd brother and 4th brother, go wait in the hall, I will block the entrance, 2nd brother will block the rear. Master XuanNan, this matter does not concern Shaolin, please just stand aside and watch, there’s no need to help, our Murong family. Thank you for your great kindness.” 

XuanNan said: “Benefactor Deng why are you saying this? Even if the enemy has some hatred towards you, there must be some truth and falsehood or misunderstanding. We have to be impartial, we cannot allow them to take advantage of your misfortune and rely on their numbers to win. If it’s the gang of people dispatched by Divine Physician Xue, they lay down this trap and tried to poison us, we share a common enemy; how can we stand by and do nothing? Everyone, prepare yourself to meet the enemy!” 

HuiFang, XuZhu and the rest of the monks agreed in unison. XuanTong said: “Benefactor Deng, I and your two brothers share the same poison, we should collaborate and repel the enemy.”

As they were talking, another two fireworks rose up into the sky, this time they was much closer. After a while, 
another two fireworks appeared; a total of six fireworks had been fired. The shape and color of the fireworks were different, some looked like a large pen, some looked a chessboard, some looked like an axe, some looked like a large peony. After the fireworks had been fired, the sky was pitch black again.

XuanNan ordered the six Shaolin disciples to guard all four sides of the house. But after a long time, they did not hear any movement from the enemy. 

Everyone held their breath and focused their attention, after the time taken to eat a meal, they suddenly heard a female voice singing to the east: “For days my eyebrows are unpainted, and my handkerchief soaked in tears. Since your Majesty cares nothing for me, why should I care for my looks? How can a mere chest of pearls bring solace to my lonely existence?”

When the voice finished singing the song, immediately it turned into the voice of a man and said: “Aiyo, Lady Jiang, I have not seen you for a long time, I miss you very much, I bestow on you a string of pearls, Lady Jiang please accept it.” 

After finishing, the voice turn into a female and said: “Your Majesty already has Consort Yang as your companion, you even abandoned your court sessions. When did you ever place this ill-fated woman in your heart, ‘sigh’…?” As she said this, she starting crying.

XuZhu and the rest of the monks were unfamiliar with worldly affairs, the person suddenly became male and female, not knowing what kind of trick it is, they felt miserable. Deng BaiChuan and the rest knew the person was acting out the story between Emperor Ming of Tang and the Plum Consort, suddenly becoming Plum Consort, suddenly becoming the Emperor, the voice and tone remarkably accurate. But this person suddenly appearing at this juncture, they had some misgivings and were unsure about the person’s intentions.

The person said: “My lady, don’t cry, quickly prepare a feast, you will play the flute and I will personally sing a tune for you to relieve your worries.” The person’s voice change to a female and said: “Lowly concubine washes her face with tears every evening, I only hope to see your Majesty again, now that I get to see you again, I will die contented, goodbye, *cough*...*cough*...”

Bao BuTong shouted loudly: “I am An Lushan! Tang Emperor Li Longji, you are a muddleheaded emperor, quickly hand over Yang Yuhuan!”

The person stopped crying immediately and gave an “Ah” sound, apparently he had a huge shock.

The surroundings were silent again.

= End of Chapter 29 -

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