Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 31 - Win or Lose, Success or Failure, Striving Against Calculation of Men

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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 4

XXXI - Victory or defeat, how can it be predicted!

Demi-Gods & Semi-Devils Chapter 31 - Win or Lose, Success or Failure, Striving Against Calculation of Men

Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 输赢成败 又争由人算
Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by darksinz


Chapter 31: Win or Lose, Success or Failure, Striving Against Calculation of Men

The wheels of the carriage rumbled, they travelled day and night without stopping. XuanNan, Deng BaiChuan, Kang GuangLing and the rest are great heroes in the martial arts fraternity, but now they lost all their martial arts and became normal prisoners and got bullied around by others. Everyone roughly felt they are travelling in the southeast direction.

They travelled for 8 days, on the 9th day they travelled on mountain path early in the morning. As they travelled till afternoon, the terrain became steeper and steeper, eventually the carriage can no longer move up the steep slope. The disciples of Xingxiu Sect ordered XuanNan and the rest to exit the carriage. They walk for an hour and came to a dense bamboo forest, the scenery is beautiful and serene, there’s a large bamboo pavilion beside a mountain stream, the pavilion is elegant, a lot of time and effort must have been spent to build it, the bamboo forest looks like the pavilion, the pavilion looks like the bamboo forest, unexpectedly its difficult to differentiate between the bamboo forest and pavilion. Feng ASan was greatly impressed; he kept looking to the left and right, his bewildered. 

Everyone had barely seated themselves properly in the pavilion when four people walked hurriedly up the mountain path. The front two men were Xingxiu disciples; when the carriage stopped they went on ahead to scout or deliver news. The other two young men behind them wore country peasant clothes; they walk towards Ding ChunQiu, bowed to pay their respect and presented a letter. 

Ding ChunQiu unsealed the letter and took a look. He sneered: “Very good, very good. You still have yet to admit defeat and wish to fight till death, I will play with you.”

The young man took a firework tube from his bosom, he ignited it, there was a ‘Peng’ sound and the fireworks flew up into the sky. An ordinary firework tube would have a ‘Peng’ sound, the firework would travel till midair and there would be a ‘Pai’ sound, the firework would explode and scatter; but when this firework travelled till midair, there were three ‘Pai’ sounds. Feng ASan whispered to Kang GuangLing: “Elder brother, this firework is made by our Sect.” 

Soon after, a group of people came up the mountain path; there were around thirty people, all of them wearing country peasant clothes and they seemed to be carrying long bladed weapons. As they got nearer, everyone saw they did not carry any weapons but merely bamboo poles. Between two bamboo poles was a rope net; it allowed someone to sit on it. 

Ding ChunQiu sneered: “The host is taking good care of visitors, everyone don’t be shy, please sit on it.” Immediately XuanNan and the rest sat on the rope net. Two men lifted each bamboo pole and they quickly ran up the mountain path. 

Ding ChunQiu took the lead, his big sleeves fluttering lightly as he travelled. Ding ChunQiu’s running speed was not hurried, but he seemed to be floating like the wind as he travelled up the precipitous mountain path, his feet did not touch the ground, in an instant he entered the bamboo forest up ahead. 

When Deng BaiChuan and the rest got hit by his ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, they were resentful, they felt this evil monster got lucky and injured them, they did not think they lost the fight, but when they saw his exquisite lightness martial art, it was really true skill and not some cheap trick. They could not help but gasp with admiration and figurred: “Even if he doesn’t use his evil demonic skills, I am still not his match.” 

Feng BoE praised: “The lightness martial art of this old devil is truly superb, respect, respect!” As he said this, the rest of the Xingxiu disciples all competed with each other to spout praise, they said Ding ChunQiu was peerless and without equal, a great master since ancient times and even Damo fall short against him. Their flattery was really intense and unprecedented. 

Bao BuTong said: “Hey you old chaps, the martial arts of Xingxiu Sect is indeed better any other sect or school, no one has ever achieved it in the past and no one will ever achieve it in the future.” 

The Xingxiu disciples were excited, one of them asked: “In your opinion, what is the best skill from our Sect?” 

Bao BuTong said: “There is more than one, at least three.” 

The Xingxiu disciples were even happier, they asked in unison: “Which three skills?” 

Bao BuTong said: “The first skill is boot-licking skill. If this skill is not well trained, I am afraid you won’t survive for more than one day in your Sect. The second skill is horn-tooting skill, if you don’t brag and exaggerate the martial arts of your Sect, not only would your Master despise you, your fellow apprentices would also despise you, you won’t have any status in the Sect. The third skill is shameless skill. If you don’t kill your own conscience and be shameless, how can you master the divine boot-licking skill and divine horn-tooting skill?” 

As he finished his words, he knew the Xingxiu disciples would be angry and indignant, they would all come and punch and kick him, but if he don’t say it out loud it was like having fish bone stuck in his throat, he was not happy unless he spit it out. Unexpectedly all the Xingxiu disciples nodded their head in silence. One disciple said: “Old chap you are extremely clever, you really understand the wonderful skills of our Sect. But this boot-licking, horn-tooting and shameless skills, it’s really difficult to train in them. Normal people are used to worldly life, they feel some things are good and some things are bad. If you harbor thoughts on good and evil, right and wrong, you would put in twice the effort but get half the result when training the shameless skill; you will fail at the most crucial moment. The foundation to these three divine skills is to distort the truth and be unable to distinguish right and wrong.”

Bao BuTong was originally mocking and ridiculing them, he did not expect these people to regard their wrongdoing with equanimity. He had some doubts and could not help but feel weird. He laughed and said: “The divine skills of your noble Sect are truly profound and matchless, I really admire them. I wish to invite great immortal to enlighten me.”

When the Xingxiu disciple heard Bao BuTong address him as ‘Great Immortal’, he felt elated and smug, he said: “You are not from our Sect, I cannot impart the secrets of these divine skills to you. But I have some superficial principles; there is no harm in sharing them with you. The most important principle is to praise your master as if he is a god. If he farts...” 

Bao BuTong interrupted and said: “then it must be fragrant. You have to inhale and exhale loudly, praise wholeheartedly...” 

The person said: “Generally speaking you are correct, but there are some minor flaws. You cannot inhale and exhale loudly; the correct way is to inhale loudly, exhale softly.” 

Bao BuTong said: “Correct, correct, great immortal is correct in pointing it out, if you exhale loudly it shows you dislike your master’s fart… that his fart is not too fragrant.” 

The person nodded his head and said: “Not bad, you are gifted and have the innate talent. If you enter our Sect you will have considerable achievements, it’s a pity that you took the wrong path and entered a heretical school. Although the skills of our Sect have infinite variations, the fundamental skills are not too complicated; you only need to remember, kill your own conscience and you will more or less achieve success. As for ‘distort the truth and be unable to distinguish right and wrong’ it’s difficult to maintain when you are alone in the outside world, but when you join our sect you will automatically know it’s the proper thing to do and you won’t find it difficult anymore.”

Bao BuTong nodded his head repeatedly and said: “Just one sentence from you, it’s better than studying for ten years. I am really interested in your sect, I can’t wait to join your noble sect, I wonder if great immortal can recommend me?” 

The person smiled and said: “If you want to join our sect, its really easier said than done. There are numerous challenging tests, I don’t think you can withstand it.” 

Another disciple said: “There’s too many people here, it’s not convenient to tell him. The one surnamed Bao, if you really intend to join our sect you have to wait until our Master is in a good mood, I can put in a few good words for you. Our sect recruits people from everywhere, your basics are not bad, if Master is benevolent and accepts you as his disciple, you will have some achievements in the future.” 

Bao BuTong said earnestly: “Many thanks, many thanks! The benevolence of great immortal, I will remember it for as long as I live.” 

Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan and the rest heard him making fun of these Xingxiu disciples, they could not help but feel happy and ridiculous. They thought: “There is really such a shameless and despicable person in this world, he takes pride in bullshitting and boot-licking, its truly rare.”

As they kept talking, the group entered a valley. The valley was full of pine trees, as the wind blew past, the trees sounded like big waves. They travelled a few li inside the forest and arrived at three wooden houses. In front of a house, under a big tree, two men sat opposite each other. For the man sitting on the left hand side, there were three men standing behind him. Ding ChunQiu stood far away. He raised his head and looked at the sky, his expression arrogant and haughty. 

As the group gradually got closer, Bao BuTong suddenly heard a ‘Gu’ sound coming from Li KuiLei’s throat, it seemed he wanted to speak but he forcibly endured it. Bao BuTonged turn his head to look at Li KuiLei, his complexion was snow white, expression extremely terrified. Bao BuTong said: “What are you disguising yourself as? The son of a ghost? Look at yourself, you’re so 
frightened!” Li KuiLei did not reply, apparently he did not hear Bao BuTong at all. 

As they moved closer, they saw a big stone slab between the two men. There was a chessboard on top of the stone slab, the two men were playing chess. Sitting on the right hand side was a short, thin and wizened old man; on the left hand side was a young gentleman. Bao BuTong recognized the young gentleman as Duan Yu, his interest waned and he considered: “I am always rude to this young chap. Today I met with a big misfortune and bump into him, he will surely ridicule and mock me.”

He saw the chessboard was engraved on a bluestone, the black and white chess-pieces were all translucent and sparkling, both side had made more than 100 moves. Ding ChunQiu slowly moved closer to observe the chess match. The short old man grasped a black piece and made a move, suddenly both his eyebrows narrowed, it seems he spotted the wonderful variation in the situation. Duan Yu grasped a white piece with his finger, he muttered to himself and did not make a move. Bao BuTong shouted: “Hello, the chap surnamed Duan, you already lost, you are in the same boat as me, just concede defeat.” The three men behind Duan Yu turned around and glared angrily at Bao BuTong. They were the three guards, Zhu DanChen, Gu DuCheng and Fu SiGui. 

Suddenly, Kang GuangLing, Fan BaiLing and the rest of ‘Eight Friends of Hangu’, all of them struggled to stand up from the rope net and they moved to within a zhang of the bluestone chessboard; they knelt down simultaneously. 

Bao BuTong had a shock and said: “What are you people doing?” As he finished speaking the truth hit him, this short and wizened old man must be the Deaf Mute Old Man ‘Mr. Intelligent’; he was also the Master of the ‘Eight Friends of Hangu’. But he was the archenemy of the Old Freak of Xingxiu Ding ChunQiu, since his enemy was here how come he was still leisurely playing chess? Moreover, his chess opponent was not some important person but a bookworm who don’t know any martial arts. 

Kang GuangLing said: “Senior you are still healthy and strong, the eight of us are extremely happy to see you.” 

After being expelled by Mr. Intelligent Su XingHe, the eight of them dared not address him as Master. Fan BaiLing said: “Master XuanNan from Shaolin also came here to see you.” 

Su XingHe stood up, he greeted everyone by raising his clasped hands and said: “The arrival of Master XuanNan, please forgive old rotten man Su XingHe for failing to receive you properly, I am guilty, I am guilty!” He gave a glance at the crowd of people and then turned his head to look at the chess match. 

Everyone heard Xue MuHua narrate how their Master was forced to be deaf and mute, unexpectedly Su XingHe spoke, it seemed he was determined to risk his life and fight with Ding ChunQiu till death. Kang GuangLing, Xue MuHua and the rest could not help but turn their heads and look at Ding ChunQiu; they felt excited and worried. 

XuanNan said: “You are too kind, you are too kind!” He saw how Su XingHe valued this chess match, he pondered: “This person is bogged down by too much stuff, painting, calligraphy, music and chess; no wonder his martial arts fell short against his younger martial brother.” 

Suddenly Duan Yu said: “So be it, I will make this move!” As he finished he made a move and placed a white piece on the chessboard. Su XingHe was delighted, he nodded his head, his expression favorable, he made another move with his black piece. Duan Yu had already prepared the next ten moves, immediately he made a move with his white piece, Su XingHe made another move with his back piece, both of them made 10 moves each. Duan Yu gave a long sigh, shook his head and said: “Senior, your ‘Zhen Long’ chess formation is extremely profound and ingenious, junior cannot break it.” 

It seemed Su XingHe had won the chess match, but his expression was grieved and distressed, he said: “Gentleman, your thoughts are thorough and meticulous, these ten moves neared perfection, but you fail to think one step deeper, what a pity, what a pity. Alas, what a pity, what a pity!” He said ‘what a pity’ four times, it seemed his regret was truly heartfelt and genuine. Duan Yu took ten white pieces off the chessboard and placed them into a small wooden box. Su XingHe also took ten black pieces off the chessboard. The chessboard showed the original chess formation.

Duan Yu retreated to the side, he gazed at the chess formation, he was in a daze and thought: “This ‘Zhen Long’ is the same one I saw at Limitless (Wuliang) Cave. Mr. Intelligent must be related to that fairy sister. Later on I will secretly ask him, I cannot let anyone hear it else they will rush to see the fairy sister. Isn’t that blasphemous?” Fan BaiLing from ‘Eight Friends of Hangu’ was a chess fanatic, when he saw the chess formation, he knew his Master was not playing chess with the young gentleman. His Master deployed the ‘Zhen Long’ chess formation and this young gentleman tried to break it, but he failed. He could not see clearly while kneeling; he stood up and stretched his neck, trying to understand the situation.

Su XingHe said: “All of you stand up! BaiLing, this ‘Zhen Long’ is extremely important and significant, come over here and look at it properly. It will be wonderful if you can break it.” 

Fan BaiLing was excited, he said: “Yes!” He got up and stood beside the chessboard. He focused his attention on the chessboard. 

Deng BaiChuan whispered: “2nd brother, what is this ‘Zhen Long’?” 

GongYe Gan whispered: “’Zhen Long’ is a difficult chess problem. It’s a puzzle set by someone, it’s not a chess match between two people, thus it often difficult to calculate when to attack or defend. Ordinary ‘Zhen Long’ have at least 10 chess-pieces and at most 45 chess-pieces, but this one has 200 chess-pieces. The chess match is nearly over.” GongYe Gang had limited knowledge of chess, he observed for a while and could not understand it, thus he did not bother to look at it anymore.

Fan BaiLing researched chess intensively for over ten years, he was really an expert in the field. He saw this chess formation had opportunity to plunder, live, long life, counter-attack, endure attack, break out of encirclement; it was really extremely complex and complicated. His was roused mentally and concentrated, after a short time he felt dizzy and light-headed. He only calculated the probability of survival for one of the white chess-pieces at the lower right corner, but he felt his blood flow rolling and clashing in his chest. He composed himself and concentrated again, he calculated again. Originally he thought the white chess-piece at the lower right corner was dead but it actually had a chance to survive, but to do that he needed to kill the black chess-piece beside it, but it involved numerous moves, he re-calculated again. Suddenly all he saw was darkness, he stuck out his tongue and spurted a big mouthful of fresh blood.

Su XingHe looked at him coldly and said: “This chess formation is extremely difficult, your talent is limited. Although your chess skill is not bad, you will not be able to break the chess formation. Moreover there is this evil traitor Ding ChunQiu using his sorcery nearby, he is trying to enchant and tempt your soul, it is simply too dangerous. You still want to carry on thinking about how to break the formation?” 

Fan BaiLing said: “Life and death is pre-determined, disci... I... I... am determined to make an all-out effort.” 

Su XingHe nodded his head and said: “Then you carry on and slowly think it through.” Fan BaiLing gazed at the chess formation again, his body swayed and he spurted another big mouthful of fresh blood.

Ding ChunQiu sneered: “Desperately seeking your own death, why bother? This mechanism is made by that old thief, it was originally used for tormenting people, it killed and injured many people. Fan BaiLing you are walking into a trap.” 

Su XingHe looked askance, he glanced at Ding ChunQiu and said: “What do you address your Master as?” 

Ding ChunQiu said: “He is an old thief, I call him an old thief!” 

Su XingHe said: “Deaf Mute Old Man is no longer deaf and mute, you must have known the underlying reason.” 

Ding ChunQiu said: “Excellent! You break our pledge, you’re courting death, don’t you dare blame me.”

Su XingHe lifted a big rock by his side and placed it beside XuanNan, he said: “Great Master please sit.” 

XuanNan estimated this big rock weigh at least 200 catties. Su XingHe was a withered, short and thin old man, he might not even weigh 80 catties but he effortlessly lifted this giant stone. His internal energy must be remarkable. If he had not lost his internal energy naturally he would be able to achieve the same feat, but he might not be able to lift it so effortlessly and leisurely as if nothing had happened. He pressed his hands together and said: “Many thanks!” He sat on top of the stone. 

Su XingHe said: “This ‘Zhen Long’ chess formation is created by my deceased Master. Master spent three years of his lifeblood before completing this formation; he longed for a capable person in the present age to break the formation. I myself studied this formation meticulously for 30 years, but I cannot solve the mystery behind it.” As he finished speaking, his gaze swept across XuanNan, Duan Yu and Fan BaiLing, he continued: “Great Master XuanNan is proficient in Buddhism, the essence of Buddhism lies in enlightenment. Years of painstaking work and cultivation, you might not be equal to some fated intelligent person who has a flash of enlightenment. The art of chess was also the same; an 8-9 year old kid with overflowing talent can often beat a top-ranking expert in chess match. Although I cannot solve the mystery behind the chess formation, but there are so many talented individuals under Heaven, it cannot be that none is able to break it. My Master had a wish when he was still alive; if someone can break this chess formation it would fulfill his wish. Although Master is no longer in this world, his spirit would be gratified if he knows of it.”

XuanNan pondered: “This Mr. Intelligent and his disciples, their habits seem to pass down, zither, chess, calligraphy and painting, all of them became fanatics. They spent their lifetime of intelligence and wisdom on this irrelevant stuff, thus Ding ChunQiu ran amok without obstruction and no one can control him; this is regrettable.”

Su XingHe continued speaking: “My younger martial brother,” he pointed at Ding ChunQiu and continued; “he betrayed our sect, he caused our Master to drown in hate and regret and pass away. He injured me till I cannot retaliate. I should have killed myself to accompany Master, but I recalled that Master had an unfulfilled wish. If I cannot find someone to break the chess formation I cannot account to Master when I die, thus I endured humiliation and survived until now. All these years, I abided by the pact made by my martial brother, I cannot speak a single word. Not only did I become the Deaf Mute Old Man, I even forced my newly recruited disciples and followers to become deaf and mute. ‘Sigh’, thirty years, I achieved nothing, this chess formation still remains unbroken. This gentleman Duan, admittedly he is handsome, natural and unrestrained...”

Bao BuTong interrupted: “This gentleman Duan is not necessarily handsome; natural and unrestrained is even more unlikely. Moreover, how is handsome, natural and unrestrained related to playing chess? He is lacking, he is lacking!” 

Su XingHe said: “It’s related, very much related.” 

Bao BuTong said: “Old Mister your appearance, hei hei, I don’t think you are handsome.” Su XingHe fixed his gaze at him for a short period of time, he gave a faint smile. Bao BuTong said: “You must be thinking that Bao BuTong is even more ugly and queer compared to you....” 

Su XingHe ignored him and continued speaking: “The ten moves made by gentleman Duan, they are already exquisite to the extreme. I had enormous expectations, but he still lacked one move and eventually he lost.” 

Duan Yu’s expression was ashamed, he said: “My aptitude is low, I cannot repay the great kindness shown by senior sir, I am really ashamed...” 

Suddenly Fan BaiLing cried out loudly, he spurted fresh blood violently and collapsed backward. Su XingHe raised his left hand, there were three ‘Chi’ sounds, three chess-pieces flew out and hit the acupoints on Fan BaiLing’s chest; this stopped him from spurting blood.

Just as everyone was being startled, suddenly there was a slapping sound, a white grain flew in midair and hit the chessboard. Su XingHe looked at the chessboard, he saw a small pine nut, it was a freshly shelled pine nut and it landed on the 7th row, 9th column; this was the crucial point in breaking the ‘Zhen Long’ formation. Su XingHe raised his head, on the left hand side of a pine tree five zhang away, he saw the corner of a yellow robe; obviously someone was hiding there.

Su XingHe was startled yet happy, he said: “Another capable person has arrived, old man is extremely happy.” As he was about to respond with his black chess-piece, suddenly he heard a gentle sound, a small black object flew from behind him and landed on the 8th row, 8th column. This happened to be the position which Su XingHe was about to place his chess piece. 

Everyone cried out in surprise, they turned around but could not spot the shadow of the person. The pine trees on the right hand side were not tall, if someone was hiding in the trees he would be spotted easily, no one knows where his hiding. Su XingHe saw the small black object was a small pice of bark off the pine tree. Its landing position was extremely accurate, he was secretly astonished. After the black object landed, another white grain flew out from the pine tree on the left hand side; it landed on the 5th row, 6th column.

Another ‘Chi’ sounded and a black grain hovered up in the sky. Immediately afterwards it dropped straight down and landed on the 4th row, 5th column. The black grain flew up in a spiral, no one knew where it originated from, the black grain zigzagged up in midair and yet it landed accurately. This skill in firing hidden projectile was truly astonishing. All the spectators could not help but admire it deeply and they cheered. 

The applause had yet stopped when a clear and bright voice resonated from between a branch and leaf of a pine tree: “Gentleman Murong, you came to break this ‘Zhen Long’, please forgive junior 
monk for being bold.” The branch and leaf 
rustled and there was a cool breeze, a monk stood beside the chessboard. The monk was wearing a gray cassock. His face seemed to be emanating light similar to that of gems; he was wearing a faint smile.

Duan Yu was startled, he thought: “The great devil Jiumozhi comes again!” He thought again: “Don’t tell me the white grains are fired by gentleman Murong? This gentleman Murong, I finally get to meet him today?” 

He saw Jiumozhi press his hands together; he bowed towards Su XingHe, Ding ChunQiu and XuanNan. He said: “Junior monk received Mr. Intelligent’s invitation card while en route travelling. I overestimated my capabilities and came here to meet experts from all over the world.” He said again: “Gentleman Murong, please reveal yourself!” 

There was clear and bright laughter, two people emerged from behind a pine tree. Duan Yu immediately felt his vision turn dark, his ears ringing, a bitter taste in his mouth, his entire body like an oven. The person’s figure was graceful, their steps unhurried, he yearned for this person day and night. It was Wang YuYan. 

Her face revealed admiration and love, she gaze longingly at the young gentleman beside her. Duan Yu followed her gaze and looked at the man: the person was around 27-28 years of age, wearing a light yellow robe, a long sword hanging by his waist. He floated over, his appearance handsome, natural, unrestrained and elegant. 

When Duan Yu saw him he felt half his body go cold, his eyes turned red, his tears nearly flowed down. He thought: “Everyone says gentleman Murong is a dragon among humans, it is really a well deserved reputation. No wonder Miss Wang adores him greatly. ‘Sigh’, I am destined to suffer hardship and calamity my entire life.” He felt remorseful, he sighed in despair, he was unwilling to raise his head to look at Wang YuYan’s expression, but he could not resist and secretly snuck a glance at her. Her face was radiant and glowing, it seemed as if her entire body is smiling; he had never seen her so happy before. The two of them walked near him but Wang YuYan ignored Duan Yu, she did not turn to greet him. Duan Yu pondered: “She never had me in her heart, previously when we were together, she only thought about her cousin.”

Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan, Bao BuTong, Feng BoE, all four of them rushed forward to welcome Murong Fu. GongYe Gan whispered and reported the origins of Su XingHe, Ding ChunQiu and XuanNan to Murong Fu. Bao BuTong said: “This bookworm is surnamed Duan, he doesn’t know martial arts, he lost when playing chess just now.” 

Murong Fu mingled and paid his respects to everyone, his speech modest and amiable, he made friends easily. The name ‘Gusu Murong’ shook the entire world, nobody expected him to be such an elegant and noble young man; everyone admired him, even Ding ChunQiu was polite and courteous towards him. 

Murong Fu met Duan Yu at the end, he said: “Brother Duan, how are you.” Duan Yu’s expression was distressed, he shook his head and said: “Your good, I... I am not good at all.” 

Wang YuYan cried out in surprise and said: “Gentleman Duan, your also here.” 

Duan Yu said: “Yes, I.... I...” 

Wang YuYan said: “Gentleman Duan, are you trying to find AhBi? My cousin already sent someone to escort her back to Suzhou. There is no one at home to take care of things and we really worry about it.” Duan Yu responded weakly.

Murong Fu glared at him a few times and ignored him. He stood beside the chessboard, grasped a white chess-piece and made a move on the chessboard. Jiumozhi gave a faint smile and said: “Gentleman Murong, although your martials arts are strong, I am afraid your chess skill is ordinary.” 

As he finished he made a move with the black chess-piece. Murong Fu said: “I might not lose to you.” As he finished he made a move with the white chess-piece. Jiumozhi responded with another move. 

Murong Fu had already thought about this chess formation for a long time, he was confident in breaking it. But this move from Jiumozhi was beyond his calculations; the moves he prepared beforehand were completely useless. He had to think of new moves again; after a long time he finally made another move. 

Jiumozhi was extremely quick, he immediately responded. The two of them, one is slow the other is quick, they made a total of 20 moves, suddenly Jiumozhi laughed out loudly and said: “Gentleman Murong, let us separate!” 

Murong Fu was furious: “You trying to stir things up! Why don’t you try to break this chess formation?” 

Jiumozhi smiled and said: “Nobody can break this chess formation, it’s used to trick people. Junior monk is aware of his own ability; I won’t waste my time and effort on such stuff. Gentleman Murong, you can’t even break away from my tangling around the borders, you still want to break through and attempt to seize the throne?” 

Murong Fu heart was shaken, all sorts of feelings well up in his heart, he kept thinking about the two phrase: “You can’t even break away from my siege around the borders, you still want to break through and attempt to seize the throne?” 

His vision gradually turned fuzzy, the white and black chess-pieces on the chessboard seemed to turn into generals and soldiers, men and horses to the east and west, you surround me, I surround you, hopelessly tangling with each other and killing. Murong Fu hopelessly saw how his own white troops got surrounded by enemy black troops, he dashed to the left and right but he couldn’t break through the encirclement, he felt more and more anxious and said: “My Murong family exhausted its destiny and wasted all planning and schemes. I put in my utmost effort my entire life but everything is just a dream! My life is over, what else can I say?” Suddenly he shouted loudly, he draw out his long sword and sliced across his neck.

During the time when Murong Fu was in a daze, Wang YuYan, Duan Yu, Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan and the rest all kept their eyes on him. When Murong Fu suddenly drew his sword to commit suicide, nobody expected this move from him. Deng BaiChuan and the rest immediately scrambled over to save him, but they had already lost their internal energy and were a step slower.

Duan Yu pointed his index finger and shouted: “You cannot do that!” Suddenly there was a ‘chi’ sound, the long sword held by Murong Fu flashed, there was a ‘dang’ sound and the sword dropped on the ground. 

Jiumozhi smiled and said: “Gentleman Duan, what a good move from the ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’!”

Murong Fu had a shock when his sword was taken away, his finally snapped out of his fantasy. Wang YuYan held onto his hand, she shook him repeatedly and said: “Cousin! You can’t break the chess formation, but why so tense? Why commit suicide?” Tears rolled down her cheek as she finished speaking. 

Murong Fu said blankly: “What’s going on?” 

Wang YuYan said: “Luckily gentleman Duan shot down your long sword, else... else....” 
GongYe Gan said: “Young Master, this chess formation enchants and enslaves your mind and soul, there must be some illusionary technique in it. Young Master please don’t think about it anymore.” 

Murong Fu turned his head and said to Duan Yu: “The move just now, is it really the sword move from ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’? A pity I never saw it, can you display another move and let me broaden my knowledge.” 

Duan Yu gave a glance at Jiumozhi, he was afraid that if he used another move from the ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’, Jiumozhi would come over and capture him. This sword play was unstable, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t work. If the evil monk really attacked he would have problems resisting, he was afraid and quickly moved three steps to the left and stayed far away from Jiumozhi, in between them is Zhu DanChen and the rest of his guards. Only now did he reply to Murong Fu: “I... I was hasty, it just happened by chance, it’s difficult for me to execute it again. You really didn’t see it just now?” 

Murong Fu expression was ashamed, he said: “My mind was muddled and half-conscious, similar to being possessed.” 

Bao BuTong shouted loudly: “Yes, it must be the Old Freak of Xingxiu using his sorcery, Young Master you have to be extremely careful!” 

Murong Fu gave a quick glance at Ding ChunQiu, he said to Duan Yu: “I fell prey to sorcery, I can’t thank you enough for saving me. Brother Duan, you know the ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’, are you from the Dali’s Duan family?” 

Suddenly a voice floated from a distant place: “Who’s from Dali’s Duan family? Is it Duan ZhengChun?” The voice is from ‘Overflowing with Evil’ Duan YanQing. 

Zhu DanChen and the rest’s countenances changed. They heard another voice, it was like metal grinding against metal, the voice shouted: “Our boss is the genuine Duan from Dali, the rest are all fake.” 

Duan Yu gave a faint smile, he mused: “Ah, my disciple is here.”

When the shouting of the ‘Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea’ ended, a person came up from the bottom of the mountain path with quick steps, his body movement was extremely fast. The person was Yun ZhongHe, he shouted: “The ‘Four Evils’ pay a visit to Mr. Intelligent, we sincerely come to attend your chess meet.” 

Su XingHe said: “Welcome.” As he finished speaking, Yun ZhongHe had already floated in front of them. 

After a while, Duan YanQing, Ye ErNiang, Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea, all three of them arrive together. Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea shouted loudly: “When our boss received the invitation card he was extremely delighted, he postponed all his current affairs and quickly came down here to the chess meet. His martials arts are unequalled under the heaven, he is even better than me, Yue LaoEr. If anyone of you is not convinced, come over here and play three moves of chess with him. You people want to fight one on one, or will everyone simply come at us together? How, why aren’t you taking out your weapons?” 

Ye ErNiang said: “LaoSan, don’t talk rubbish! We are playing chess, not using martial arts to fight, why the need for weapons?” 

Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea said: “You are talking rubbish, if we don’t use our martial arts to fight, then our boss rushed hurriedly over here for what?” 

Duan YanQing gazed steadily at the chess formation, he was in deep thought. After a long, long time, his left crutch extended into the small chess box and pressed lightly. The end of the crutch seemed to have some kind of suction force as it attracted the white chess-piece. He placed the white piece on the chessboard. 

XuanNan praised: “The martial arts of the Duan family from Dali is really unrivalled under the southern sky, your reputation is well deserved and not empty.” 

Duan Yu knew Duan YanQing from the day he played chess against the Yellow-Browed Monk. Duan YanQing’s internal energy was deep and profound and his chess skill was equally high; there was a possibility that he might actually break this ‘Zhen Long’. Zhu DanChen whispered to Duan Yu: “Young Master, let us go! Don’t waste this opportunity.” But firstly, Duan Yu was interested to find out if Duan YanQing could break the chess formation, secondly, he finally get to see Wang YuYan, even if the sky collapsed he would never leave her. He absentmindedly agreed to Zhu DanChen’s suggestion but he kept on walking nearer to the chessboard.

Su XingHe already know by heart all the countless changes and permutations to this chess formation, he immediately responded with a black chess-piece. Duan YanQing thought for a while and made another move. Su XingHe said: “Sir, you’re extremely brilliant, let us see if you can overcome this problem and find a way out.” He made a move with the black piece; it sealed off his path. Duan YanQing made another move. 

Shaolin monk XuZhu suddenly said: “I am afraid this move won’t work!” Previously he saw Murong Fu make the exact same move, afterwards he continued playing and eventually drew his sword to commit suicide. He feared Duan YanQing would follow the same path to his ruin; he could not bear it and spoke out to advise him.

Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea was furious, he shouted: “Hey you little monk, you are not fit to comment on my boss’s chess move!” He gripped XuZhu’s back and dragged him over. 
Duan Yu said: “Good disciple, don’t harm this little master!” 

When Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea arrived, he already saw Duan Yu, he felt really awkward and embarrassed, it was best if Duan Yu kept his mouth shut but eventually he still blurted it out, he said angrily: “So be it, I won’t harm him, why so anxious!” He dropped XuZhu on the floor. 

Everyone saw how this barbaric and ruthless Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea actually take orders from Duan Yu, he didn’t even refute when being addressed as ‘good disciple’; everyone felt really strange. Only Zhu DanChen and the rest knew the underlying reason, they laughed inwardly.

XuZhu sat down on the floor, he was having second thoughts: “My master often tells me, the cultivation method passed down by our founder is discipline, calmness and wisdom. The “Shurangama Sutra” says: ‘Assimilate discipline in your heart, discipline leads to calmness, calmness leads to wisdom.’ We are blunt people, it’s difficult for us to assimilate discipline in our heart, thus founder Damo passed down an easier method. He let us learn martial arts to discipline out heart, but you can also use chess to discipline your heart. Martial arts pay particular attention to victory and defeat, chess also focuses on victory and defeat, but both of them are contrary to teachings on Buddhism, thus whether you practice martial arts or play chess you must ensure that you do not focus on victory and defeat. Reciting scripture, eating, travelling, it’s easy to forget about victory and defeat, but competing in martial arts and playing chess it's extremely difficult to forget about victory and defeat. If you forget about victory and defeat while competing martial arts or playing chess, then the match is already over. The “Dharmapada Sutra” says: ‘The winner feels hatred, the loser feels ashamed. You will be agitated while pursuing victory, you will be calm if you don’t not compete.’ My martials arts are poor, my chess skill lousy, when I compete martial arts with my martial brothers or play chess, I will suffer more defeat than victory, but my master praised me as I was not angry and I did not complain. I don’t really care about victory or defeat. But how come when I saw this Benefactor Duan make a wrong chess move, I worried that he will suffer a defeat, I even spoke out and give advice? Moreover with my level of chess skill, how can I even advise him? Although his chess moves may be similar to gentleman Murong now, but afterwards it may be different, I don’t understand all this, instead I just blurted out and insisted it won’t work. Aren’t I overestimating myself?”

Duan YanQing made another move. He thought for a while, he made move after move, he was taking a long time to think. He made a total of twenty moves and the sun was sinking in the west. Suddenly XuanNan said: “Benefactor Duan, your first ten moves are correct and orthodox, but on the 11th move you started to deviate from the correct path. You strayed from your original path from that point onwards, and now its difficult to save.” The muscles on Duan YanQing’s face were stiff and rigid, his expression wooden and blank, a voice resonated from his throat: “Your Shaolin Temple is a famous orthodox school. Based on your orthodox method, how would you break this formation?” 

XuanNan sighed and said: “This chess formation seems to be orthodox yet unorthodox, it seems to be demonic yet not demonic. You cannot break it using pure orthodox method, but if you use pure unorthodox method it still won’t work!”

Duan YanQing’s left crutch hovered in midair, he trembled slightly, he dared not put down the chess piece; after a long time he said: “There is no path forward, the soldiers are pursuing at the rear, orthodox method won’t work, unorthodox method won’t work, this is really difficult!” The martial arts passed down by his family was the orthodox skill of Dali’s Duan family, but he eventually deviated and became evil and unorthodox. The words by XuanNan stirred up his emotions and mind; unexpectedly he became like Murong Fu, gradually he started to hallucinate. 

This ‘Zhen Long’ has many changes and fluctuates irregularly, its effect is dependent on the person: a greedy person will fear losing his possessions, an angry person will fear his anger interfering with his work. Duan Yu was defeated because he had too much compassion, he refused to abandon his troops. Murong Fu was defeated because he stubbornly held onto power and influence, he was able to abandon his troops but he simply refused to give up power and influence. The greatest regret and hate in Duan YanQing’s life was his deformity. He was forced to give up his orthodox martial arts, he had to change and practice unorthodox and demonic skills. He concentrated his attention completely and this made it easy for external demons to invade, thus his mind entered a demonic path and he could not control himself anymore. 

Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: “Yes! It’s easy for a person to enter the demonic path, but it’s extremely difficult to turn over a new leaf. Your entire life is doomed to failure, failure, failure! Alas, what a pity, one wrong step caused a thousand hatreds. If you want to turn back, I am afraid you can’t do it anymore!” His speech was filled with pity and tenderness. XuanNan and the other experts knew Ding ChunQiu harbored malicious intentions, he was trying to make Duan YanQing fire-deviate so that he could eliminate a powerful opponent. 

Sure enough, Duan YanQing was expressionless and motionless. He said in a distressed voice: “I am the crown price of Dali Kingdom, but today I wander around and have degenerated into such a state; I am really ashamed and cannot face my ancestors.” 

Ding ChunQiu said: “Even in the underworld, you still don’t have the face to see your Duan family’s ancestors. Since you are ashamed why don’t you commit suicide, it is the proper conduct of hero, alas, alas! It would be better to commit suicide, it would be better to commit suicide!” His voice was gentle and pleasant; those with low internal energy had already become drowsy and dazed when they heard his voice. 

Duan YanQing mumbled to himself: “Alas, it would be better to commit suicide!” He raised his steel crutch and slowly drove it towards his chest. But he had extremely deep cultivation, he faintly felt something was amiss. There seemed to be an inner voice within him that said: “Wrong, wrong, you will be in deep trouble if you continue to drive downwards!” However the steel crutch still slowly moved inch by inch towards his chest. When he was exiled from Dali Kingdom and suffered serious injuries, he thought of committing suicide, but he met a peculiar event and managed to pull himself together; but now his self-control faltered and his buried desire to commit suicide surfaced again.

There were many martial art experts around. XuanNan was merciful, he wanted to speak out and advise him, but to shock Duan YanQing out of his trance would require internal energy equivalent to his own. To be effective the voice had to be so loud that even the deaf could hear it, otherwise not only would it be not beneficial he could end up harming Duan YanQing. XuanNan was secretly anxious, his hands were tied and he could not do anything to help. Su XingHe was bound by the rules set by his Master; he could not assist him. Murong Fu knew Duan YanQing was an evil person, it was a good thing for him to fire-deviate and die and he would eliminate a great evil from the world. Jiumozhi rejoiced in other people’s misfortune, he smiled and looked on without lifting a finger. Duan Yu and You TanZhi both had deep and profound internal energy, but they don’t know what Duan YanQing was trying to do when he lifted his crutch. As for Wang YuYan, although she was knowledgeable about the martial arts of various sects and schools, but the evil technique employed by Ding ChunQiu to put Duan YanQing in a trance was not martial arts; thus she didn’t understand it at all. Ye ErNiang was frequently oppressed by Duan YanQing, he was extremely rude and bossy, she amassed her hatred for a long time and now she did not bother to save him. As for Deng BaiChuan, Kang GuangLing and the rest, they had lost all their internal energy; furthermore they did not want to interfere in the tussle between the Old Freak of Xingxiu and the ‘Number One Evil’. 

Thus, only the Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea was anxious. He saw the crutch was only a few inches away from his chest, in a few moments he would seal off his own death acupoint. Immediately he grabbed and lifted XuZhu and shouted: “Boss, catch this monk!” As he finished he threw XuZhu at Duan YanQing. 

Ding ChunQiu pushed out with his palm and said: “Go away! Don’t disturb this chess match!” The throwing force of Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea was extremely vigorous. XuZhu was shrouded by strong wind and he flew forward swiftly, but the palm by Ding ChunQiu was soft and flexible, XuZhu got redirected back and he bounced straight at the Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea. 

Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea caught XuZhu with both hands, he thought of throwing XuZhu at Duan YanQing again. Unexpectedly Ding ChunQiu’s palm contained three waves of hidden force. Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea suddenly opened his eyes fully, he was forced to retreat three steps, as he stabilized himself the second wave of force arrived. Both of his knees weakened and he sat down on the ground; he thought it was over. Who would have imagined the third wave of force crashing in? He could not help but somersault, but both his hands still held onto XuZhu, he pressed down on XuZhu and rolled over. He thought the palm by Old Freak Ding contained another fourth wave of force, thus he quickly pushed XuZhu forward to block the force.

But there was no fourth wave of force, Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea opened his eyes and cursed: “Damn your grandmother is powerful!” He put XuZhu on the floor.

When Ding ChunQiu pushed out with his palm, he got distracted and his attention slackened a little. Duan YanQing’s steel crutch stopped in midair and did not move anymore. Ding ChunQiu said: “It’s too late, it’s too late, Duan YanQing, I help you to commit suicide, just commit suicide!” 

Duan YanQing sighed and said: “Yes, what’s the point in living? It’s better to just commit suicide!” As he finished speaking his crutch moved closer by another two inches. 

XuZhu’s compassion flared up, in order to free Duan YanQing from Mara (demon of temptation in Buddhism), he knew he had to disrupt the chess formation, but his chess skill was really low, it was impossible for him to break this complex and complicated chess formation. He saw Duan YanQing stared stupidly at the chessboard, he was really in a crisis. Suddenly he had a bright idea: “I can’t break this chess formation, but it easy for me to intentionally mess it up, as long as his concentration gets diverted he can be saved. If there is no chess formation, where is the need for victory and defeat?” He quickly said: “I will break this chess formation.” He quickly moved forward and took a white chess-piece from the small wooden box. He closed his eyes and randomly put the chess-piece on the board.

His eyes had yet to open but he heard Su XingHe reprimand furiously: “Rubbish, rubbish, in your fit of anger you killed an entire group of white chess-piece, who plays chess like this?” XuZhu opened his eyes; he looked at the chessboard and blushed.

It seemed when he closed his eyes and made a random move, he put the chess-piece beside another white chess-piece, which was already encircled by black chess-pieces; there was no room at all for escape. Originally the white side and black side were mutually surrounding each other, both sides in a stalemate: if the black chess-pieces moved forward the white side can kill off all the black chess-pieces with a single move, if the white chess-piecse move forward the black side can kill off all the white chess-pieces with a single move. This is situation is called ‘live together’ or ‘two lives’, ‘I dare not move, my opponent dare not move’, both sides cannot move at all. XuZhu put his chess-piece within this big stalemate, he made the first move and offered a huge group of white-chess piece to his opponent; if his opponent didn’t take it, he would lose his black-chess pieces, thus the black side definitely have to take it. In the art of playing chess, no one had ever done this act of committing suicide. Now that the white chess-piece was dead, the white side was about to suffer complete defeat and be completely wiped out.

Jiumozhi, Murong Fu, Duan Yu and the rest, when they saw this they couldn't help but burst out into loud laughter. XuanNan shook his head and smiled. Although Fan BaiLing was feeble and weary from the blood loss, he could not help but said: “Are you joking?” 

Su XingHe said: “My Master’s order, anyone can enter and play this chess match. Although this chess move by little master was wild fantasy, it’s still a legitimate move.” He removed the white chess-piece, which XuZhu sacrificed, then he made a move with the black chess-piece. 

Duan YanQing gave a loud cry and snapped out of his trance; he stare at Ding ChunQiu and thought: “Old Freak of Xingxiu, you take advantage of my 
precarious position and employed your evil scheme, I won’t take things lying down.” 

Ding ChunQiu glared at XuZhu, his eyes filled with venomous rage, he cursed: “Little bald thief!” 

Duan YanQing looked at the changes in the chess formation, he knew he had escaped mortal danger all due to XuZhu assistance, he felt really grateful. He knew Ding ChunQiu resented XuZhu and was about to attack him, he considered: “Shaolin senior monk XuanNan is here, I don’t think the Old Freak of Xingxiu has the guts to trouble his disciple, but if this old rotten XuanNan is muddle-headed and fails to protect him properly I cannot simply let this little monk die because of me.”

Su XingHe said to XuZhu: “Little master, you killed your own chess piece, how will you respond if the black chess-piece moves one more step?”

XuZhu laughed and said: “Junior monk’s chess skill is lowly, I randomly made a move just to save someone. I really cannot play this chess match, I hope senior will excuse me.”

Su XingHe expression turned grave, he said solemnly: “My Master created this chess formation and respectfully invited all the experts under the heaven to try and break it. It doesn’t matter if it can’t be broken, even if you suffer calamity it is also your own doing. But if someone comes and intentionally messes up this chess match and taints the lifetime effort of my Master, although there are many people here, hei hei, even though old man is deaf and mute, I will pledge my life and fight till death.” He was know as ‘Deaf Mute Old Man’ but he was neither deaf nor mute, currently he was able to hear and even speak, but unexpectedly he still call himself deaf and mute; but when he was speaking his beard flared up, his expression fierce and ferocious, nobody dared to make fun of him.

XuZhu pressed his hands together and made a deep bow, he said: “Old senior...” 

Su XingHe shouted loudly: “Just play chess, why talk so much? My Master’s chess formation is for your random amusement?” As he finished speaking he waved his right hand and sent out a palm; there was a loud crashing sound, dust flew everywhere, a large crater appeared in front of XuZhu. The power in this palm was incomparably violent and fierce, if the palm had landed a few chi closer, the tendons and bones in XuZhu would’ve shattered and broken, he would’ve died a violent death. 

XuZhu was so frightened that his heart thumped randomly. He shifted his eyes towards XuanNan, he hoped his martial grandfather would take the initiative and save him from this predicament. 

XuanNan’s chess skill was not good, his internal energy all gone, what idea could he come up with? XuanNan stiffened his resolve and was about ask for leniency from Su XingHe; suddenly XuZhu took out a white chess-piece from the wooden box and placed it on the chessboard. The tile he placed it on was a new empty spot, which appeared when the group of white chess-piece was sacrificed. 

Unexpectedly, this move was logical and sensible. For the past 30 years, Su XingHe has seen the thousand variations and changes in the chess formation, he memorized all the counter-moves thoroughly; no matter what kind of moves his opponent makes, they cannot escape his foolproof counter. But XuZhu started the match by making a random move and killed a big group of white chess-pieces, it greatly violated the basic fundamental of chess, anyone who had the slightest bit of knowledge about chess would never make this move. The move was the same a drawing your own sword and committing suicide. But unexpectedly, when XuZhu killed a big group of white chess-pieces the situation actually became optimistic. Although the black chess-pieces occupied a dominant 
position, the white chess-pieces now had some leeway to maneuver, unlike previously when the chess pieces tangled with each other and had to guard against losses. Su XingHe never expected such a new situation in the chess formation. He was startled and contemplated deeply for a long time; he finally responded with a move. 

Previously, XuZhu was scared stiff by Su XingHe’s palm. His martial grandfather did not speak out to help him and he was at a loss. Suddenly a thin and soft voice entered his ear: “Put the chess piece on the 3rd row, 9th column!” XuZhu did not bother to search for the person who gave this advice, he didn’t care if the advice was correct or wrong, he simply took a white chess-piece, followed the directions given and placed it on the 3rd row, 9th column. When Su XingHe responded with a move, the same voice entered XuZhu’s ear again: “2nd row, 8th column.” XuZhu placed a white chess-piece on the 2nd row, 8th column. 

When he made this move, he heard Jiumozhi, Murong Fu, Duan Yu, all of them cried out in surprise. XuZhu raised his head, he saw looks of admiration and surprise on the faces of the crowd; it seemed this move was really exquisite. As for Su XingHe, his expression was joyous and full of admiration yet his also fretful and anxious, his long eyebrows kept moving up and down. 

XuZhu felt suspicious: “Why is he suddenly so happy? Don’t tell me I make a wrong move?” But he immediately had second thoughts: “Who cares whether its right or wrong, as long as I can respond with ten moves and above it shows that I played the chess match properly and did not recklessly mess up the chess formation and dishonor his Master, after that he won’t take offense anymore.” After Su XingHe responded with another move, he followed the instruction of the person who was secretly helping him and made another move. As he played chess, he kept a careful look out to see if his martial grandfather was secretly instructing him, but XuanNan expression was anxious, it really didn’t seem like him; moreover XuanNan never open his mouth to speak. 

The voice in his ear was obviously based on the ‘Transmitting Voice in Secret’ technique which required a high level of internal energy. The speaker would use his internal energy to send his speech into the ears of another person, even if there are bystanders nearby they could not hear the speech at all; but no matter how soft the voice was the speaker still had to open his mouth. XuZhu furtively looked at the lips of everyone, unexpectedly none of them were moving but he still heard the voice transmit clearly: “5th row, 6th column and take the three black chess-pieces!” 

XuZhu followed the instructions, he assumed: “This person can only be my martial grandfather, no one else. The rest of the crowd is not related to me, why would they help me? From among the experts, only martial grandfather did not take part, the rest of them took part and got defeated. Martial grandfather has divine skill; he did not move his lips and yet transmitted his voice. I wonder when I can reach his level.” 

Who would have imagined that the person guiding him was the number one evil under the heavens ‘Overflowing with Evil’ Duan YanQing? Previously, Duan YanQing was too engrossed in playing chess and Ding ChunQiu took advantage of him, influencing him to fire-deviate and commit suicide. Luckily XuZhu disrupted the chess match and saved his life. He saw Su XingHe was very stern when reprimanding XuZhu; it was very likely he had murderous intentions. Thus he immediately transmitted his voice and guided XuZhu to help him get out of trouble. Duan YanQing was skilled in ventriloquism, he don’t need to move his lips when speaking, he used his internal energy to transmit his voice to XuZhu’s ear. Although there were many experts around they did not suspect this underlying trick. 

However, after numerous moves, the situation changed greatly, Duan YanQing finally became aware that the secret to this ‘Zhen Long’ was to use your own white-piece to kill off a large group of white-pieces, afterwards this would give rise to power. The chess formation incorporated the principles of ‘Counter-attack and escape’, you have to deliberately sacrifice your own chess-pieces and let your opponent take them, afterwards you could achieve success. However, people will sacrifice at most 8-9 chess piece in a match, no one would sacrifice more than ten chess-pieces in a single move. This move ‘Squeeze yourself to death’ was really weird and never seen before throughout all ages; even the most brilliant chess expert would never dare think of using such a move. For humans, they always think about how to survive and live, nobody would deliberately think of how to die. If XuZhu had not closed his eyes and made this random move, even after a thousand years, this ‘Zhen Long’ would still remain unbroken. 

Duan YanQing had extremely high chess skill. Previously he played chess with the Yellow-Browed Monk at Dali, he dominated the match and the Yellow-Browed Monk was unable to ward him off. Currently, after removing a large group of white chess-pieces the situation reversed, he no longer needed to worry about the life and death of that large group of white chess-pieces. He was no long blocked by his own troops, instead he could move around freely which was vastly different from the previous situation which he got trapped in. 

Jiumozhi, Murong Fu and the rest were unaware that Duan YanQing was secretly assisting. XuZhu’s chess moves were wonderful and brilliant, he captured two small groups of black chess-pieces in succession; everyone could not help but cheer. 

XuanNan muttered to himself: “Originally, this chess match wass tangled in gains and losses, victory and defeat; thus no one could break it. When XuZhu made his move he didn’t care about life or death, he didn’t care about victory or defeat, unexpectedly he managed to break through this life and death situation and finally free himself...” XuanNan comprehended the principles faintly, however he was still hesitant and unsure. He spent his entire life studying martial arts; however, this was different from the martial arts prescribed by Buddhism. Suddenly he considered: “Deaf Mute Old Man and the Eight Friends of Hangu indulged in miscellaneous skills, in the end their martial arts fell short against Ding ChunQiu. Previously I made fun of them and said they deviated from their original path. But I spent my entire life practicing martial arts, I was not diligent in practicing Buddhist meditation, I am anxious about life and death. I am even worse and also deviated from my original path.” As he thought of this, his entire body broke out in cold sweat. 

Initially, Duan Yu paid close attention to the chess match, but afterwards he just stared at Wang YuYan. He became even more dejected as he looked at her; Wang YuYan’s gaze never left Murong Fu. Duan Yu pondered: “It’s better for me to simply leave, it’s better for me to simply leave! I will only suffer more misery if I stay here, maybe I will even vomit blood.” But how could he willingly take his gaze off Wang YuYan? He was in deep thought: “I will wait for Miss Wang to turn her head over to me, then I will tell her: ‘Miss Wang, congratulations in meeting your cousin, today fate brought us together and we see each other again. I will be leaving now!’ If she replies: ‘Ok, please leave!’ then I will simply leave. But if she replies: ‘There is no hurry, I still have something to say to you’ then I will stay and wait for her instruction.”

However in reality, Duan Yu was fully aware that Wang YuYan would never turn around and look at him, she would never say: ‘There is no hurry, I still have something to say to you’. Suddenly, Wang YuYan’s head started moving slightly. Duan Yu’s heart started thumping 
madly: “She is turning her head over!” 

But she only gave a soft sigh and call out softly: “Cousin!”

Murong Fu’s attention was focused on the chess match. He saw the white chess-pieces had gained the upper hand, they were currently advancing forward and pressing. He thought: “I can come up with these few moves easily. But the first move is always difficult. The first move is simply too weird, I would never be able to think of it.” Unexpectedly he did not hear Wang YuYan calling him. 

Wang YuYan gave another soft sigh and she slowly turned her head.

Duan Yu’s heart started jumping madly: “She is turning her head over! She is turning her head over!” 

Sure enough, the pretty face of Wang YuYan turned and faced him. Duan Yu saw she was slightly depressed; there was hidden bitterness in her eyes. He contemplated: “After arriving with Murong Fu, her expression was always happy and joyous, how come she is not happy now? Don’t tell me... don’t tell me she worries about me a little?” Her gaze moved to the right and interlocked with his. Duan Yu took a step forward, he was about to say: “Miss Wang, you have something to say?” But Wang YuYan’s gaze slowly moved away and looked at a distant place, once again her gaze returned back to Murong Fu. 

Duan Yu’s heart plunged, he felt endless agony: “She did look at me, but it is ten times worse than if she didn’t look at me at all. She looked at me but she still ignored me. She looked at me but I never registered in her heart. She is only thinking about the affairs of her cousin, why would she even care about Duan Yu. ‘Sigh’, it’s better to simply leave, it’s better to simply leave!”

As for XuZhu, he followed the instructions of Duan YanQing and made another move. Looking at the current situation, no matter how the black chess-piece responds it would definitely be taken by the white chess-piece; but if the black chess-piece takes a step back then the white chess-piece can rush out of this encirclement, at that time the white chess-piece would have the entire field and the black chess-piece would not be able to keep up anymore. 

Su XingHe deliberated for a long time. He smiled and made a move. Duan YanQing transmitted his voice: “7th row, 8th column!” 

XuZhu followed his instruction. Although XuZhu chess skill was poor, he still knew enough, and he was aware that the ‘Zhen Long’ was already broken. He clapped his hands and smiled: “It seems its over?” 

Su XingHe was smiling, he cupped his hands and said: “Little divine monk is talented and brave, congratulations.” 

XuZhu quickly returned the courtesy and said: “I don’t dare, I didn’t make this...” 

He was about to say that he received guidance from his martial grandfather, when the voice transmitted into his ear again: “You cannot reveal this secret between us. You are still in danger, you have to be extra cautious.” 

XuZhu thought it was another instruction from XuanNan. He immediately said: “Yes, yes!” 

Su XingHe stood up and said: “My Master arranged this chess formation, for over ten years no one was able to break it. Little divine monk finally broke this ‘Zhen Long’, I really can’t thank you enough.” 

XuZhu didn’t understand the underlying reason, he said modestly: “It’s just an accident, it’s all thanks to the elders here, old senior you really flatter me, I don’t deserve your praise.”

Su XingHe walked to the front of the three wooden houses, he held out his hand to respectfully welcome the guest and said: “Little divine monk, please enter!” 

XuZhu saw these three houses were really odd, there were no doors. He didn’t know how to enter or what he was supposed to do when he entered. He stood at his location and was undecided. Suddenly the voice transmitted into his ear again: “You finally opened up a path in the chess match, it was all due to a hard and painful battle. There is no door on the wooden house, just use your Shaolin martial arts to forcibly create a path.” 

XuZhu said: “Please pardon my offense!” He entered into horse stance, he raised his right hand and struck his palm on the wooden board. 

His martials arts were limited. Previously Ding ChunQiu waved his sleeve and he immediately collapsed, the Xingxiu disciples captured him easily. His situation was really lucky and he managed to preserve his internal energy. But in front of so many martial arts experts, his palm strength was really insignificant and not worth mentioning. Luckily the wooden board was not strong, there was a ‘KaLa’ sound and the wooden board split open to reveal a small crack. XuZhu struck his palm two more times and finally managed to cleave open the wooden board, but his palm already felt painful.

Divine Crocodile of The Southern Sea burst into loud laughter and said: “The hard and strong skill of Shaolin is really sloppy and ordinary.” 

XuZhu turned his head and said: “Junior monk is the most useless disciple from Shaolin, my martials arts are superficial, but it doesn’t mean the martial arts of Shaolin is lousy.” 

Suddenly the voice transmitted into his ear: “Quickly enter, don’t turn your head back, ignore the bystanders!” 

XuZhu said: “Yes!” He move forward and quickly entered the house. 

He heard Ding ChunQiu shout: “This is the house of my sect, little monk how can you enter without permission?” Immediately there were two loud slamming sounds, XuZhu felt a burst of strong wind coming at him, they were trying to drag him back out, but immediately after he felt two violent forces bumping his back and buttocks, he could not help but somersault straight into the house.

XuZhu narrowly escaped death, just now Ding ChunQiu sent out his palm and made a sneak attack; he was trying to kill him. Jiumozhi used his ‘Controlling Crane Skill’ to try and drag him out, but Duan YanQing used his crutch to block the palm from Ding ChunQiu. Su XingHe stood between XuZhu and Jiumozhi, his left hand dissipated the ‘Controlling Crane Skill’, his right palm smacedk two times and sent XuZhu into the house. 

The power in the two palms was strong and violent, XuZhu’s body smashed through a wooden partition and his forehead smashed through another wooden partition again; he became dizzy and disorientated, he fainted. After a long time he finally stood up and touched his forehead, it was already swollen and there was a huge lump. He looked around, the house was deserted and empty. He tried to look for a door but the house did not have any windows or doors; there was only a hole made when he smashed through the wooden partition. He stood around stupidly and finally thought of crawling out through the hole.

But suddenly he heard a deep and low voice of an old man coming from a wooden partition: “Since your here, why you still wish to go out?” 

XuZhu turned his body around and said: “I invite old senior to give direction and point out the path.” 

The voice said: “You create your own path, nobody can teach you. My chess formation, no one could break it for over ten years, you finally broke it today. What are you waiting for? Come over here!” 

When XuZhu heard the words ‘my chess formation’ his hairs stood up and he could not help but be terrified. He trembled and said: “You.... you...” 

He had heard Su XingHe narrate how the chess formation was created by his ‘deceased master’, but this voice, was it human or ghost? The voice said again: “Opportunity is fleeting, I waited for thirty years, I don’t have much time to wait for you anymore, good child, quickly come here!” 

The voice was kind and benevolent, evidently he did not have any evil intention. XuZhu immediately used his left shoulder to bang the wooden partition, ‘KaLa KaLa’, the wooden board had long decayed and rotted, a hole opened up immediately. 

XuZhu gave a quick glance and entered, he was startled; it was yet another deserted room, however, a person was sitting in midair. The first thought that came to his mind was: “Ghost!” He was so frightened that he wanted to turn around and escape, but he heard the person say: “’Sigh’, it’s a little monk! ‘Sigh’, it’s an ugly little monk, difficult, difficult, difficult! ‘Sigh’, difficult, difficult, difficult!” 

XuZhu heard him sigh three times and say ‘difficult’ six times. He concentrated and looked at the man, he finally saw clearly. It seemed there was a black rope around the body of the man, the rope was attached to a beam and he was suspended in midair. But the wooden partition is cultured black, the rope is also black, thus he can’t differentiate the rope immediately and he assumed the man is sitting in midair. 

XuZhu’s appearance was quite ugly, he had thick eyebrows and big eyes, his nostrils tilted upwards, his ears fanned out, his lips were very thick; moreover he had sustained injuries on his face when he smashed through the wooden partition and this made him even more unsightly. He lost both his parents in childhood, the monks at Shaolin Temple were merciful and they adopted him. At the temple he was either studying or practicing martial arts, nobody cared about his appearance. There was a Buddhist saying: “The body is merely mortal flesh, whether this mortal flesh is good looking or not has no relation to Buddhist cultivation.” Nevertheless, this was his first time hearing someone call him an ‘ugly monk’. 

He raised his head slightly and looked at the man. His beard was three chi long, but none of it grizzled. His face was like jade and without any wrinkles. Although he was quite old, he glowed with heath and vigor; he was elegant and poised. XuZhu felt ashamed: “Comparing appearances, we are heaven and earth apart.” Currently he had no more fear, he bowed to pay his respects and said: “Junior monk is XuZhu, I pay my respects to senior.” 

The man nodded his head and said: “What is your surname?” 

XuZhu was startled and said: “There is no surname for a person who enters monkhood.” 

The man said: “Before you entered monkhood, what was your surname?” 

XuZhu said: “Junior monk became a monk in childhood, I don’t have a surname.”

The man starde at him for a long time, he sighed and said: “You can break my chess formation, your intelligence and wisdom is obviously no small matter, but you appearance really cannot make it, ‘sigh’, very difficult. In the end I wasted my efforts and even sacrificed your life in vain. Little master, I will present you with a gift, just take it and go!”

XuZhu listened to the tone of the old man, it seemed he had an extremely important and difficult problem and he worried because no one could help him. The  “Mahayana Sutra” says: ‘Save all living things from suffering’, XuZhu immediately said: “Junior monk’s chess skill is really superficial, I did not break senior’s chess formation. But if senior has any difficult problems to settle, although my skills are lowly I am willing to try my best and help you. As for the gift, I don’t dare to accept.” 

The old man said: “You have such a  chivalrous heart, not bad. Your chess skill is low, martial arts superficial, all these are irrelevant. Fate brought us together and you are able to come here. But... but.... your appearance is simply too ugly.” As he said this he shook his head repeatedly. 

XuZhu gave a faint smile and said: “I can’t control my appearance, even my parents can’t control it. Junior monk is ugly and made senior unhappy, I will take my leave immediately.” As he finished speaking he retreated two steps.

As XuZhu was about to turn his body, the old man said: “Wait!” His sleeves rose up and landed on XuZhu’s right shoulder. XuZhu felt his body sink, the sleeve felt like an arm, it was pulling his body. The old man asked: “Those who came here to break the chess formation, who are they?” XuZhu reported their identities to him. The old man muttered to himself for a long time, and said: “6-7 out of 10 martial art experts under the heaven are here. Great Master KuRong from Dali’s Heavenly Dragon Monastery, he didn’t come?” 

XuZhu replied: “Other than the monks from my Shaolin, the only other monk is Great Master Jiumozhi.” 

The old man asked again: “For the past few years I heard there is someone called Qiao Feng in the martial arts fraternity, his truly capable, he didn’t come?” 

XuZhu said: “No.” 

The old man gave another sigh and mumbled to himself: “I waited for so many years, even if I carry on waiting I might not be able to meet a well-rounded person with perfect qualities. In life things don’t always go as planned, I just have to make do with it.” He mumbled for a short while, he finally seem to come to a decision, he said: “Just now you said you did not break the chess formation, then how come Su XingHe sent you in here?” 

XuZhu said: “Junior monk is ignorant, I closed my eyes and randomly made the first move, afterwards my martial grandfather XuanNan used his internal energy to transmit his voice to me and secretly help me to play chess.” Immediately he narrated all the details on how he managed to break the chess formation. 

The old man sighed and said: “Its fated, its fated!” Suddenly his frown went away and he smiled: “Its fated, you close your eyes and accidentally break my chess formation, this shows that your affinity for fortune is deep, maybe you can handle my big problem. Very well, very well, good child, keel down and kowtow!”

XuZhu had grown up in Shaolin Temple since childhood. Everyday he met his master, martial grandfather, great martial uncle, etc., all of them his elders. Even among his peers, there were countless monks who were older than him or had better martial arts; thus he was used to obeying orders. As a disciple of Buddhism, he had to be modest, when the old man asked him to kowtow although he don’t know the reason but he was still a senior in the martial arts fraternity, it was natural to give a few kowtows. Immediately he respectfully knelt down and kowtowed four times. As he was about to stand up ,the old man smiled and said: “Give another five kowtows, this is the rule of our sect.” 

XuZhu replied: “Yes!” and he gave another five kowtows. 

The old man said: “Good child, good child, come over here!” XuZhu stood up and walked towards him.

The old man grabbed his wrist, he examined him from top to bottom. Suddenly XuZhu felt his arteries warm up, a burst of internal energy rose up from his arm and rapidly rushed to his chest. He could not help it and immediately use the energy cultivation method of Shaolin to try and resist. The internal energy of the old man made contact with his own energy and withdrew immediately, nothing happened to him. XuZhu knew the old man was trying to test his level of internal energy, his ears turned red and he laughed bitterly: “Junior monk normally studies Buddhist scriptures, in my free time I love to play around, I never properly practice the internal energy cultivation method imparted by my master, old senior you must have found it laughable.” 

Unexpectedly the old man was very happy, he laughed and said: “Very good, very good, your Shaolin internal energy is shallow, it really saves me a great deal of trouble.” While he was speaking, XuZhu felt his entire body turn weak, it was as if he was submerged in a hot bath tub, the pores on his body all seemed to be emitting heat, he felt relaxed and free. 

The old man released his wrist, he laughed and said: “It’s done, I used my sect’s ‘Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness’ and absorbed all your Shaolin internal energy!” 

XuZhu had a huge shock, he shouted: “Wh....what?” He jumped up, as he landed his knees weakened and he sat down on the floor. He felt his four limbs and all the bones turn completely limp and painful, he was dizzy, it was as if the world was spinning. He knew this old man had not bluffed him, grief and sorrow burst forth and tears streamed down his eyes. He cried: “I... I... have no quarrels or enmity with you, I didn’t offend you, why must you harm me like this?” 

The old man smiled and said: “How can you be so rude? You didn’t address me as Master, still using words like ‘you’, how can you not have any manners?” 

XuZhu was frightened and said: “What? How can you be my Master?” 

The old man said: “Just now you kowtowed nine times, you formally became my apprentice and paid your respects.” 

XuZhu said: “No, no! I am a Shaolin disciple, how can I take you as my Master? You use evil sorcery to harm other people, I definitely won’t learn it.” He finished speaking and struggled to stand up. 

The old man laughed and said: “You really don’t want to learn?” He waved both his hands; his sleeves flew out and landed on XuZhu’s shoulder. XuZhu felt his shoulder was incomparably heavy, he could not stand up anymore. His knees softened and he immediately sat down, he said: “Even if you kill me I still won’t learn.”

The old man laughed out loudly, suddenly his figure rose up, he somersaulted in midair; he landed and sat down, both his hands gripping onto XuZhu’s wrist.

XuZhu was alarmed and said: “You... what are you trying to do?” He felt two burning heat streams; it was as if boiling water was rushing into his ‘Huizong acupoint’ at both of his hands. He could not help but shout loudly: “Aiyo!” and he struggled furiously, but the two heat streams were like the Yangtze river and they surged forth. He could not resist at all. It flowed from his arm to his chest; it gathered at his ‘Shanzhong acupoint’.

XuZhu was extremely terrified, he swung his hands, trying to fling off the person holding onto his wrist. When he swung, he felt his arm turned soft, he didn’t have 
the slightest bit of strength, he felt really anxious: “After getting hit by his demonic sorcery, I lost all my martial arts and now I don’t even have strength to wear clothes or eat a meal, from now on I am handicapped, what should I do?” He was at a loss, he cried out loudly, suddenly he felt the heat gathered in his ‘Shanzhong acupoint’ all separated into 100 thin strands of heat and scattered to the rest of his acupoints throughout his body. He couldn’t even make a sound from his mouth, he pondered: “Not good, I am going to die!” But he felt his four limbs getting hotter and hotter, instantly he felt his head spin, his underbelly and skull were about to explode, after a while he could not hold it anymore and fainted.

He felt his entire body become as light as a feather, it seemed as if he was soaring on cloud and riding on mist, he was roaming freely in heaven. Suddenly his body felt ice-cold, it seemed as if he was submerged in the deepest sea, he was having fun with playing with fish. Suddenly he was in a temple studying, and then he was practicing martial arts diligently, but no matter how hard he practiced he could never master it. As he started to feel anxious, suddenly it rained heavily. The raindrops landed on his body, but the raindrops felt hot. 

Gradually his head started to clear and he became sober, he opened his eyes, he was lying down on the floor. The old man had released his wrist and was sitting beside him. The old man was covered entirely with sweat and the sweat dripped continuously onto his body; the old man’s cheek, head, neck, hairs, sweat seeped out everywhere.

XuZhu sat up and said: “You...” He only managed to say one word, as he was startled. The old man seemed to have completely changed into a different person. Originally his face was spotlessly white and handsome, but now his face was covered with countless deep wrinkles that intersected with each other. His thick crop of hair had all fallen off, his long, black beard turned white. XuZhu’s first thought was: “I fainted for how many years? 30 years? 50 years? How come this person aged over 10 years?” The man in front of him look extremely old, if he was not 120 years old, he was at least 100 years old.

The old man squinted, he smiled weakly at him and said: “Success! Good child, you have deep fortune, you far surpass my expectations, go on try it out, smack your palm at that wooden partition!” 

XuZhu didn’t understand the reason, he followed his orders and sent out a palm, there was a ‘Ka La La” sound, half of the wooden partition collapsed. It was even more powerful than bumping the wall ten times using his full strength. XuZhu was scared stiff, he said: “What... what is the reason?” 

The old man was smiling broadly, he was really happy. He also said: “What... what is the reason?” 

XuZhu said: “How come... how come I am so powerful?” 

The old man smiled and said: “You have yet to practice the palm moves of our sect, at the moment, you can’t even utilize 10% of your internal energy. Your Master practiced diligently and painstakingly for 70 years, how can it be ordinary?” 

XuZhu suddenly jumped up; he knew something bad had happened. He shouted: “You... you... what 70 years of diligent and painstaking practice?” 

The old man smiled and said: “You still don’t understand? You really haven’t realized it yet?”

XuZhu vaguely knew what the old man was referring to, but this matter was simply too sudden and inconceivable, it was really hard to accept it. He said: “Old senior imparted a set of divine arts... a set of divine arts to junior monk, correct?” 

The old man smiled and said: “You still refuse to address me as Master?” 

XuZhu lowered his head and said: “Junior monk is a Shaolin disciple, I cannot deceive my ancestors and join another sect.” 

The old man said: “You don’t have any trace of Shaolin martial arts in you anymore. You still claim you are a Shaolin disciple? Your body contains 70 years of Carefree Sect’s divine skill, how can you not be the disciple of our sect?” 

XuZhu never heard of ‘Carefree Sect’ before, he said: “Carefree Sect?” 

The old man smiled and said: “Riding on Heaven and Earth, governing the six elements, roaming endlessly, that is carefree. Try jumping up and test it out!”

XuZhu felt really curious, he bent his knees and exerted force in his legs; he jumped up lightly. Suddenly there was a crashing sound, he felt sharp pain on top of his head, light shone into his eyes; half his body had penetrated through the roof and he was still rising up. He quickly stretched out his hands to grab the roof and landed back on the floor. He jumped up and down a few times before stopping. This kind of lightness martial arts (qinggong) was simply unimaginable. At the moment he was not happy at all, instead he felt really scared. 

The old man said: “How was it?” 

XuZhu said: “I... I became a devil?” 

The old man said: “Sit down here quietly and listen to my explanation. There is not much time left, I can only talk about the most important stuff. Since you refuse to address me as Master and are unwilling to change sects, I won’t force you anymore. Little master, I beg you to help me on a big matter, you have to do something for me, can you promise me?” 

XuZhu liked to help people. There were six Paramita in Buddhism, Dana was ranked first. When people meet with problems he should put in his best effort and help. He said: “Senior’s order, I will do my utmost to fulfill it.” When he said the words suddenly he remembered that the martial arts of this old man seemed to be some top ranking unorthodox evil skill. He quickly said: “But if senior orders junior monk to break the law and commit crimes, then I won’t comply.” 

The old man laughed bitterly and asked: “What is break the law and commit crimes?” 

XuZhu stared blankly, he said: “Junior monk is a follower of Buddhism, harming others or inflicting sufferings, I will never agree to do such stuff.” 

The old man said: “If there is someone in this world that specializes in harming people, breaking the law and committing crimes, killing countless people, I order you to go kill this person, will you agree?” 

XuZhu said: “Junior monk will persuade him and give advice, ask him to turn over a new leaf and do good.” 

The old man said: “What if he persists in his wrong doings?” 

XuZhu straightened his body and said: “Subdue the demon and eliminate the evil. But junior monk’s ability is limited, I am afraid I can’t shoulder this heavy responsibility.”

The old man said: “Then you agree to it?” 

XuZhu nodded his head and said: “I agree!” 

The old man’s expression was joyous, he said: “Very good, very good! I want you to kill someone, he is a great evil, he is my disciple Ding ChunQiu, currently he is known as Old Freak of Xingxiu.” 

XuZhu gave a sigh, such a heavy burden, he personally witnessed how the Old Freak of Xingxiu only needed to say one sentence and killed ten carriage drivers. He was truly a great evil; even his martial grandfather XuanNan had all his internal energy dissolved by Ding ChunQiu’s sorcery. He said: “Getting rid of Old Freak of Xingxiu is a great achievement, but junior monk’s martials arts are superficial, how can I...” As he said this, his gaze interlocked with the old man, the old man’s expression was mocking, at once he remembered, the phrase ‘martials arts are superficial’ seemed incorrect. He immediately stop talking.

The old man said: “Currently, with your superficial martial arts, you are not beneath the Old Freak of Xingxiu, but you don’t have someone to guide you, you can’t use this energy properly. To exterminate him completely it is indeed still not enough, but don’t worry, old man already made arrangements.” 

XuZhu said: “Junior monk heard from Benefactor Xue MuHua, Xingxiu Sea Ding... Benefactor Ding’s evil conduct, I only know senior was killed by him, but senior is still alive, then... then its very good, very good.”

The old man sighed and said: “This rebellious disciple is in cahoots with my martial sister, they suddenly revolteded. I was beaten into a deep ravine, old man was caught off guard and almost died by their hands. Luckily my martial sister was troubled by her conscience, she stopped him from dealing the final blow, and my eldest disciple Su XingHe played deaf-mute. He tempted Ding ChunQiu with various secret skills of our sect, old man struggled at death’s door and survived for another 30 years. XingHe’s aptitude is pretty good, but it’s a pity he was led astray by me. He got distracted and learned zither, chess, calligraphy, painting, etc., all these trivial skills. It’s impossible for him to learn my upper-level martial arts. For the past 30 years, I longed to find a smart disciple who can concentrate, I will then impart my lifetime of martial arts to him and send him to exterminate Ding ChunQiu. But opportunity is fleeting, those who are smart had bad character, it’s like raising a tiger and bringing future disaster, but those with good character had insufficient comprehension. I am nearing my natural life span, I cannot wait anymore, thus I publicly displayed the ‘Zhen Long’, which I created years ago to look for a handsome and talented person. I already reach the limits of my lifespan, there is no time for me to teach martial arts, thus this last disciple of mine must be a handsome and smart youngster.”

XuZhu listened to him mention ‘handsome and smart’, he knew he was not smart, as for ‘handsome’ it was completely out of the question. He lowered his head and said: “There are quite a few handsome people in this world, there are two individual just outside, the first one is gentleman Murong, the other is gentleman Duan. Junior monk will invite them in to see you, how is it?” 

The old man laughed and said: “I use my ‘Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness’ and poured my 70 years of internal energy cultivation into your body, how can I accept another disciple?” 

XuZhu was alarmed, he said: “Senior.... senior you really pass on your lifetime of energy cultivation to junior monk? Then...        then....” 

The old man said: “Currently, its really hard to say if this is a blessing or disaster. Superior martials arts are not necessarily a good thing. In this world, there are people who don’t know any martial arts, they are carefree and without worries, they don’t compete and struggle, they have less worries because they have very little? In the past, if I learned zither and chess, learned literature and painting, but didn’t learn any martial arts, then my life will be much happier.” As he finished speaking he gave another long sigh. He raised his head and looked at the hole in the roof made by XuZhu, he seemed to be 
thinking about past events. After a long time he finally said: “Good child, Ding ChunQiu only knows I have long died by his hands, thus he acts without restraint. I have a painting here, it shows my former residence where I lived in ease and comfort, the place is at Dali Kingdom’s Limitless (Wuliang) Cave. Go there and find the martial arts manuals which I have hidden, follow them and practice, your martial arts will be on par with Ding ChunQiu. But your aptitude is not very good, if you practice the martial arts of our sect I am afraid you will meet many obstructions and your progress will be sluggish, maybe you will meet numerous disasters and dangers as well. You should beg that woman staying in the cave and ask her to guide you. But if she sees your appearance, most likely she will refuse to teach you. You should request her help on my account... ‘cough’... ‘cough’.” As he said this he kept coughing repeatedly, he was gasping for breath. He took out a small scroll from his bosom and stuffed it into XuZhu’s hands. 

XuZhu felt really awkward, he said: “Junior monk has yet to complete my training, I received my master’s order to deliver letters, I should go back to the temple and report. In the future I also have to act according to my master’s orders. If my master or Abbot forbid, then I cannot follow the wishes of senior.” 

The old man laughed bitterly and said: “If this is the will of Heaven, allowing a evil person to run amuck, then there is nothing I can do,” As he said ‘you’ two times, suddenly his entire body trembled. He slowly slumped down, his hands pushing against the ground; it seemed he was about to collapse. 

XuZhu was shocked, he quickly extended his hands and supported him. He said: “Old.... old senior, what happened to you?” 

The old person said: “I already pass on my 70 years of energy cultivation to you, I’ve reached the end of my natural lifespan, child, you still refuse to call me Master?” As he said this he was already 
gasping for breath.

XuZhu saw the old man’s expression was pitiful and his gaze pleading, his heart softened and he blurted out ‘Master’. 

The old man was jubilant, he forcefully took off a gem ring from his left finger and tried to put in to XuZhu’s finger, but he had exhausted all his strength and couldn’t grip XuZhu’s wrist. XuZhu called out: “Master!” and he wore the ring on his finger. 

The old man said: “Good... good! You are my third disciple, when you see Su XingHe, should call him senior martial brother. What is your surname?” 

XuZhu said: “I really don’t know.” 

The old man said: “It’s a pity your appearance is ugly, there might be some awkward or embarrassing moments, but you are the leader of Carefree Sect, by right the woman should not disobey your orders, very good, very good...” His voice became softer and softer. When he said the second ‘very good’ it seemed as if he was whispering. Suddenly he laughed heartily, his body tilted forward; there was a crashing sound as his forehead hit the floor. He was motionless.

XuZhu quickly supported the old man, he checked his breath, he was already dead. He quickly pressed his hands together and chanted: “Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo, I beseech Amituofo, Guanyin Bodhisattva, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, please guide this old man to his afterlife in Sukhavati.” 

He met this old man for no more than one hour, there wasn’t much of a relationship, but his body contained 70 years of the old man’s internal energy cultivation. He faintly felt this old man was his closest kin. It could also be said that a part of this old man became him. Suddenly sorrow and grief overwhelmed him and he burst into tears and sobbed loudly.
After crying for a while, he knelt on the floor and paid his respects to the remains of the old man. He prayed in silence: “Old senior, I called you Master, that was fake, please don’t take it seriously. You are not aware of it but please don’t blame me.” He completed his prayer; he turned around and went out through the hole in the wooden partition. He lightly leapt; he immediately flew past two wooden partitions and arrived outside the house.

- End of Chapter 31 -

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