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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 4
XXXII - Carefree for now with no one supervising
Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 且自逍遥没谁管Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by darksinz
Chapter 32: Nobody Can Control My Carefree Self
When XuZhu stepped out of the wooden house he could not help but be startled. There was a huge pillar of fire on the ground, numerous pine trees had collapsed and been wildly scattered over the area. He had not stayed in the wooden house for long but the outside situation changed drastically. He assumed these pine trees must have been knocked down by someone while he fainted and he did not hear them while he was in the house.
Outside the house, the flaming pillar separated two groups of people. The Deaf Mute Old Man Su XingHe was standing on the right-hand side, XuanNan and the rest of Shaolin monks, Kang GuangLing, Xue MuHua, etc., all of them standing behind Su XingHe. The Old Freak of Xingxiu was standing on the left-hand side, iron-head man You TanZhi and the rest of Xingxiu disciples were standing behind Ding ChunQiu. Murong Fu, Wang YuYan, Duan Yu, Jiumozhi, Duan YanQing, Crocodile Deity of Southern Sea, etc., all of them were standing at a distant place; they did not help either side.
Su XingHe and Ding ChunQiu, both of them were waving their palms and pushing the column of fire towards each other. The column of fire was leaning to the right; evidently Ding ChunQiu had already gained a huge lead.
Everyone squinted and looked at the burning pillar, none of them paid any attention to XuZhu who had just come out of the house. Naturally, Wang YuYan was only worried about Murong Fu and Duan Yu was only worried about Wang YuYan, neither of them were looking at the fire pillar and they also paid no attention to XuZhu.
XuZhu moved past their backs and went to the right-hand side and stood beside his martial uncle HuiFang. He saw the column of fire moving closer and closer to the right, Su XingHe’s clothes seems to be inflated with air, it was as if he was only a boat and sailing rapidly against the wind; both his palms pushed forward continuously.
However, Ding ChunQiu’s expression remained cheerful, as if nothing had happened; he waved his sleeves lightly, seemingly indifferent. His disciples praised out loudly:
“Divine Elder of Xingxiu lifting heavy weights as if it is a feather, his divine skills unrivalled, he let you all broaden your horizons today.”
“My Master is trying to give lessons to bystanders, thus he slowly displays his divine skills, otherwise he would have exterminate this old man Su with a single palm.”
“Who is not convinced, come forward and have a taste of Divine Elder of Xingxiu’s divine skills.”
“All of you are timid and cowardly, there is no harm even if you join up and act together!”
“Since ancient times, no one can match Divine Elder of Xingxiu! You are a mantis blocking a cart, courting disaster and digging your own grave.”
Jiumozhi, Murong Fu, Duan YanQing, all of them thought: “If the few of us here join hands and attack Ding ChunQiu together, even though Ding ChunQiu is powerful, he still can’t resist the combined assault of numerous top experts.” But firstly, everyone valued their status and dignity, they would never join hands and gang up against a single person. Secondly, the battle between Deaf Mute Old Man and Old Freak of Xingxiu was an internal affair, it was not appropriate for outsiders to interfere. Thirdly, they were suspicious of each other, they were afraid of getting back-stabbed and taken advantage of if they joined up together and attacked. Hence even though the disciples of Xingxiu praised their master up till Heaven, Jiumozhi and the rest only smiled and ignored them.
Suddenly the column of fire moved forward and spit flames. They landed on Su XingHe, there was a burning stench, Su XingHe’s beard was completely burnt off. Su XingHe exerted himself and tried to resist, he managed to push back the column of fire but the flame was only two chi away from his body. The flame lengthened and rattled, it was like a large python opening its mouth and sticking out its tongue, trying to bite him. XuZhu is secretly alarmed: “I am afraid Benefactor Su is about to be burned alive by Benefactor Ding, what should I do?”
Suddenly there were drum noises, followed immediately by two thumping sounds, the gongs and drums rang out, It seemed the Xingxiu disciples concealed
their cymbals, gongs and drums in their bosoms. They took out these instruments and started playing songs to praise their Master’s awe-inspiring authority, some of them waved green, yellow, red and purple flags, they shouted loudly and rallied. Currently, two martial art experts were competing internal energy; unexpectedly there were bystanders cheering on with gongs and drums, such a weird event had never been seen before. Jiumozhi burst into loud laughter and said: “Old Freak of Xingxiu really has thick skin, he is really one of kind since ancient times!”
Amidst the gongs and drums, a Xingxiu disciple took out a sheet of paper, he recited loudly, it was a parallel prose titled: “Praising Divine Elder of Xingxiu Displaying His Might In Central Plains”. Nobody knew how he found some rotten scholar to compose such praises, the contents were really flattering to the extreme, the song and praises mixed in with the noises from the gongs and drums.
But these songs and praises were not completely useless, along with the internal energy of Old Freak of Xingxiu, it was like adding fuel to fire and aided his power. Amidst the songs and praises the column of fire intensified and moved forward another half chi.
Suddenly there were numerous footsteps, over twenty men rushed out from behind the house and they blocked in front of Su XingHe. These deaf and mute men were the ones that carried XuanNan and the rest up the mountain, they were the disciples of Su XingHe. Ding ChunQiu pressed on with his palm, the column of fire landed on the bodies of these twenty men. At once there was ‘Chi Chi’ sounds, these men had their skin and flesh charred. Su XingHe wanted to wave his palm to push these men away but they were too far away from him and he did not have sufficient palm strength. These twenty men stood upright, their bodies were burning but they never moved at all, but because they couldn’t speak the scene was even more tragic and moving.
When the rest of the spectators saw it they were emotionally moved, even Wang YuYan and Duan Yuan couldn’t help but turn their heads and look at them. The fire was raging and it wrapped around these twenty deaf and mute men. Duan Yu shouted: “You cannot be so cruel!” He extended his right hand, he was about to execute his ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’ to attack Ding ChunQiu, however he didn’t know the proper method to channel the sword. His abundant internal energy just moved around in circles inside his body and he couldn’t fire it out from his finger. Duan Yu perspired profusely, he shouted: “Young Master Murong, quickly stop him!”
Murong Fu said: “Brother Duan you are here, little brother doesn’t dare to display his lowly skills in front of an expert. Brother Duan, please display a move from you ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’!”
Duan YanQing arrived late for the chess meet, he did not see Duan Yu’s ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’ when he used it to save Murong Fu. When he heard the words from Murong Fu he could not help but feel excited, he looked askance at Duan Yu, trying to see if Duan Yu really knew this divine skill, but when he saw Duan Yu pointing and drawing with his right-hand finger, while the stance was correct and reasonable there was absolutely no internal energy at all. He pondered: “What ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’, it gave me a huge shock. It seems this young chap is only bluffing and swindling people. Although according to legend, my Duan family have this ‘Six Meridians Divine Sword’ skill, but who succeeded in learning it?”
Murong Fu saw Duan Yu did not attack, he knew it was intentional and he just stood aside and quietly observed the situation.
After a while, more than half of the twenty deaf and mute men got roasted to death by the column of fire, the rest were seriously injured; they collapsed one after another. Amidst the noise from gongs and drums, Ding ChunQiu waved his sleeve twice, the column of fire flew and rushed towards Su XingHe.
Xue MuHua shouted: “Don’t you dare harm my Master!” He threw his body in front of the column of fire. Su XingHe waved his palm and pushed him away, he said: “Its not beneficial for my disciple to die!” He gathered his remaining internal energy into his left hand and struck towards the column of fire. Currently, his internal energy was nearly exhausted, that palm strike from him only managed to obstruct the column of fire for a short while, he felt his entire body burning, he saw red everywhere, he was completely engulfed in flame. At this moment, his internal energy was on the verge of drying up, like a lantern extinguishing when it runs out of oil. He knew that when he died Ding ChunQiu would definitely rush into the wooden house. His Master faked death for thirty years but he still couldn’t run from Ding ChunQiu’s evil hands. He was being roasted by the column of fire on his body, he felt great sadness.
XuZhu saw Su XingHe was in extremely critical condition, but Su XingHe still stood rooted to the ground and refused to retreat a single step. XuZhu could not stand idly by and watch anymore, he quickly moved forward and grabbed Su XingHe’s back, he shouted: “Its not beneficial for my disciple to die! Quickly step aside!” At this moment, Su XingHe just so happened to wave his palm outward. This palm from Su XingHe was extremely weak and feeble, he did not expect any effect from it, however he refused to sit by and wait for death, he struggled and fought to the death. Unexpectedly, an incomparably deep and profound energy arrived from his back, the energy was exactly the same as his Master’s, as he pushed out with his palm the strength immediately multiplied. There was a ‘Hu’ sound, the column of fire moved from his body and went straight towards Ding ChunQiu. The force did not end there, even the Xingxiu disciples were drawn into the column of fire.
In a split second there were clanking sounds from the gongs and drums, everyone was thrown into confusion, the cymbals and instruments all dropped onto the ground and roll around randomly.
Amidst the chants of: “Xingxiu sect shaking Central Plains by force, my Master is unequalled in the present age.” Various cries of pain got mixed in:
“Aiyo, holy mother of god!”
“This is terrible, Xingxiu sect quickly run and save your life!”
“Xingxiu sect is flexible, we will come back next time to promote our prestige!”
Ding ChunQiu had a huge shock. In reality, even with XuZhu’s internal energy and the palm force from Su XingHe it might not actually beat him, but because Ding ChunQiu had thought he would achieve victory soon, he became relaxed and complacent. He did not have any defenses, thus he became flustered and lost control when the counter-attack came so suddenly. At the same time, Ding ChunQiu found that the internal energy in his opponent’s palm was well-rounded, experienced and ruthless, it was way beyond what his martial brother Su XingHe was capable of, but then again the energy clearly originated from the martial arts of his sect. Could it be the spirit of his dead Master? The spirit of his Master came back and seeks him for revenge? When he thought of this his mind became frantic, he couldn’t gather his internal energy at all, the column of fire landed on his body and unexpectedly he was powerless to repel it- his clothes, hair and beard all caught fire.
Amidst the shouting of “Divine Elder of Xingxiu is in big trouble!” from his disciples, Ding ChunQiu anxiously shouted: “My iron-head disciple, quickly use your palm!”
You TanZhi immediately waved his palm towards the column of fire. There was ‘Chi Chi Chi’ sounds, the column of fire met the strange coldness in his palm wind, the flame extinguished immediately, even the greenish black smoke faded away quickly. The only thing left was the charred pine wood.
Ding ChunQiu eyebrows were burnt, his clothes tattered, he cut a sorry figure. He was secretly afraid of his Master’s spirit harassing him again, he dared not linger and show off anymore. He shouted: “Let us leave!” His body flashed and in an instant his already 7-8 zhang away.
His Xingxiu disciples ran away desperately, they abandoned their gongs and drums, the disciple who was reciting the parallel prose: “Praising Divine Elder of Xingxiu Displaying His Might In Central Plains” had yet to finish but the a huge portion of the paper was burnt off and scattered by the wind.
But suddenly there was an “Ah!” scream from afar, a Xingxiu disciple was flying in midair and he landed on the ground; he was motionless. Everyone looked at each other in dismay. The Old Freak of Xingxiu had just suffered a crushing defeat, his shame led to anger, one of his disciple tried to console him with flattering words, but in his rage he killed him with a single palm strike.
XuanNan, Duan YanQing, Jiumozhi, etc, all of them assumed the Deaf Mute Old Man Su XingHe used his flesh to tempt his enemy into a trap, he let Ding ChunQiu waste his energy to burn the twenty deaf and mute disciples, afterwards he concentrated his energy and released an earth-shattering palm strike and Ding ChunQiu was unable to resist and was defeated. The Deaf Mute Old Man was famous for his wisdom and martial arts, just now he and the Old Freak of Xingxiu were engaged in a fierce battle. He easily struck down the thick and large pine tree, everyone was shaken to the core when they saw it, thus nobody found it strange when he finally displayed his divine skills and drove away the Old Freak of Xingxiu.
XuanNan said: “Mr. Su your divine skill is deep and profound, you drive away that old freak, he must be scared out of his wits after this battle and I think he won’t dare to set foot in the Central Plains anymore. Your actions benefit the people, it’s really not a small achievement.”
Su XingHe saw XuZhu wearing his Master’s gem ring, he knew the underlying reason, he felt both sadness and happiness. He saw that 18-19 of his own disciples were dead, the remaining 1-2 suffered serious injuries and would most probably not recover. He felt deep sorrow but he was also worried about the safety of his Master, he said a few parting words to XuanNan, Murong Fu, etc, then he dragged XuZhu’s hand and said: “Little master, please come with me.”
XuZhu looked towards XuanNan, waiting for his orders. XuanNan said: “Senior Su is a highly respected person in the martial arts fraternity, just follow whatever he asks of you.”
XuZhu replied: “Yes!” and he followed Su XingHe and entered the wooden house through the hole. Su XingHe picked up a wooden board and blocked the hole with it.
Everyone present were all experienced and knowledgeable martial art experts, they knew this action from Su XingHe meant that outsiders should not go in and pry into his private matters. Duan Yu was the only person who was neither experienced nor knowledgeable about such stuff. But currently, Duan Yu was concentrating his attention completely on Wang YuYan, he was not even aware that XuZhu and Su XingHe had entered the house. How would he have the mood to meddle in other people’s affair?
Su XingHe held onto XuZhu’s hand and they passed through the two wooden partitions. He saw his Master lying on the floor, he stretched out his hand to check; he had passed away. He long anticipated such an outcome but he still couldn’t hold back his grief, he knelt down and kowtowed a few times, he sobbed: “Master, Master, in the end you still leave disciple behind!”
XuZhu thought: “This old man is indeed Su XingHe’s Master.”
Su XingHe wiped away his tears and stood up. He supported the corpse and leaned him against the wooden partition so that he was seating properly. Afterwards he supported XuZhu and also made him lean against the wooden partition; XuZhu was sitting side by side with the corpse of the old man.
XuZhu contemplated: “His making me sit beside the corpse of the old man, what is he trying to do? Don’t tell me...don’t tell me.... he wants me to die together with his Master?” He could not help but feel a slight chill on his body, he wanted to stand up but he dared not.
Su XingHe arranged his tattered and burnt clothes, suddenly he knelt down in front of XuZhu, he kowtowed and said: “Carefree Sect’s unworthy disciple Su XingHe pays his respect to the new sect leader.”
This action from him frightened XuZhu so much that he was at a loss on what to do. XuZhu worried: “This person has gone insane from his rage! He is really insane!” XuZhu quickly knelt down and returned the kowtow, he said: “Old senior paying such courtesy, you will really shorten junior monk’s life.”
Su XingHe said sternly: “Martial brother, you are the last disciple of our Master, you are also the leader of our Sect. Although I am the senior martial brother but I still have to kowtow to you!”
XuZhu said: “This... this...” He finally realized that Su XingHe had not gone mad, but this made his situation even more awkward and embarrassing. He could only grumble secretly.
Su XingHe said: “Martial brother, you saved my life, you fulfilled Master’s wish, it is only rightful that you accept a few kowtow from me. Master officially took you in as his disciple, he asked you to kowtow nine times, did you kowtow?”
XuZhu said: “I did kowtow but at that time I don’t know I formally became his disciple. I am Shaolin disciple, I cannot join another sect.”
Su XingHe said: “Master obviously knew about it, he must have removed all your original martial arts and then passed on the skills of our sect. Master already passed on his entire lifetime of internal energy to you, correct?”
XuZhu had no choice but to nod his head and said: “Yes.”
Su XingHe said: “The symbol of our sect leader, this gem ring, Master removed it from his finger and personally put in on your finger, correct?”
XuZhu said: “Yes! But... but I really don’t know this is the symbol of sect leader.”
Su XingHe crossed his legs and sat down on the floor, he said: “Martial brother, you have extremely deep fortune. Ding ChunQiu and me, both of us longed for this gem ring for over ten years, but we never managed to gain possession of it. But you managed to gain Master’s favor within an hour.”
XuZhu quickly took of the ring and handed it over, he said: “Senior please take it, this gem ring, junior monk has absolutely no use for it.”
Su XingHe did not take it; his expression grave, he said: “Martial brother, Master entrusted you to do something before he died, how can you shirk your responsibility? Master gave this gem ring to you; he asked you to kill Ding ChunQiu, correct?”
XuZhu said: “Correct. But junior monk’s martials arts are superficial, how can I shoulder such heavy responsibility?”
Su XingHe sighed, he put the ring back onto XuZhu’s finger and said: “Martial brother, you don’t know the entire story, I will tell you briefly. Our sect is called Carefree Sect, as for the rules and regulations, the most senior disciple might not necessarily take up the post of Sect Leader. Whoever has the strongest martial arts will be the Sect Leader.”
XuZhu said: “Yes, yes, but junior monk’s martials arts are extremely disappointing.”
Su XingHe ignored him and continued: “There are three disciples from Master’s generation, Master is ranked number two, but his martial arts is better than our two martial uncles, thus he became the Sect Leader. Afterwards, Master accepted me and Ding ChunQiu as his disciples. Master set down a rule, all the miscellaneous skills he mastered, whoever wants to be Sect Leader has to compete in all these skills. Thus we have to compete martial arts, zither, chess, calligraphy and painting. Ding ChunQiu has absolutely no understandings of these miscellaneous skills, there is no hope for him to become Sect Leader. Unexpectedly he plotted against Master and pushed him into a deep ravine, he also inflicted serious injuries on me.”
XuZhu heard some of these details from Xue MuHua at the underground cave, but he didn’t expect this matter to eventually involve him; he grumbled secretly and said: “Unexpectedly Benefactor Ding did not kill you at that time.”
Su XingHe said: “Don’t think that he was humane and spared my life. Firstly, he can’t break through my ‘5 Element Trigram’, its a complex metaphysical formation. Secondly, I told him: ‘Ding ChunQiu, you plotted against Master, your martials arts are also better than mine, but you never learned the most profound martial arts of Carefree Sect,
the manual of ‘Divine Skill of the Northern Darkness’, you want to look at it or not? The lightness martial art ‘Graceful Steps Upon the Waves’, do you want to learn it or not? What about ‘Six Solar Palms Of Heavenly Mountain’? What about ‘Plum Breaking Hand Of Heavenly Mountain’? What about ‘Eternal Youth Never Ageing Skill’?’
‘All these skills are the high-level martial arts of our Sect, even our Master was bogged down by too many miscellaneous skills, he didn’t manage to learn all these skills.’ When Ding ChunQiu heard this, he was so excited that his body trembled, he said to me: ‘Hand over the manuals of these martial arts, I will spare your life today.’ I told him: ‘How can these manuals be with me? Only Master knows the hidden location of these manuals. Since you want to kill me, just do it.’ Ding ChunQiu told me: ‘The manuals must be near Xingxiu Sea, you think I don’t know?’ I told him: ‘Correct, they are indeed near Xingxiu Sea, go find them yourself if you have the ability.’ He muttered to himself for a long time, Xingxiu Sea spans several hundred li, it is really difficult to find these manuals. He told me: ‘Fine, I won’t kill you. But from now on you have to play deaf and mute, you cannot reveal the secrets of our Sect.’”
“Why didn’t he kill me? He just wanted to leave me alive so that he can extort a confession. If he killed me, nobody would ever know the location of these martial arts manuals. In reality, the manuals of these martial arts are not hidden at Xingxiu Sea; they have always been kept by our Master and our two martial uncles. Ding ChunQiu live at Xingxiu Sea, he must have searched through every single stone and pebble, naturally he didn’t find the manuals of these divine skills. He came to trouble me numerous times, but I evaded him using mechanisms, metaphysical arts, etc. This time he tried to ask me again, but seeing the hopeless prospects he tried to kill me to vent his anger.”
XuZhu said: “Fortunately senior...”
Su XingHe said: “You are the Sect Leader, why you keep calling me senior, you should call me senior martial brother.”
XuZhu considered: “This matter is extremely troublesome, I don’t know when I can finally clarify this mess.” He replied: “The matter on whether you are my senior martial brother or not, we will leave that aside first, even if you are my senior martial brother, you are still my senior.”
Su XingHe nodded his head and said: “This is quite true. Just now you mentioned, fortunately I am what?”
XuZhu said: “Fortunately senior exercised patience, you conserved your strength for that final push. Thus at the crucial moment you finally made a surprise attack, the Old Freak of Xingxiu suffered a huge defeat and left.”
Su XingHe waved his hands repeatedly and said: “Martial brother, you are wrong, it’s so obvious that you used the divine internal energy imparted by Master and assisted me. You saved my life, how come you are so modest and refuse to admit it? We are fellow apprentices, the position of Sect Leader is already decided, you saved my life, I will never covet after your Sect Leader position. From now on you cannot regard me as an outsider.”
XuZhu was very curious, he said: “When did I ever assist you? There’s no need to even talk about saving your life.”
Su XingHe pondered for a while and said: “Maybe you did it unintentionally, nobody knows. To cut the long story short, you placed your palm behind my back, the divine internal energy of our sect was transmitted into me and turned defeat into victory.”
XuZhu said: “Oh, so it is. Then it’ss your Master who saved you, I didn’t save you.”
Su XingHe said: “I say Master borrowed your hand and saved me, you should at least admit this much?”
XuZhu couldn’t refute anymore, he nodded his head and said: “This is just a simple favor, since you insist then I will just admit it.”
Su XingHe said: “Just now your divine internal energy unexpectedly burst forth and caught Ding ChunQiu off guard and frightened him off. If it was a real fight, even if both of us teamed up together we are still not his match. To kill Ding ChunQiu, firstly your internal energy must be stronger than his, secondly you must be proficient in the high-level martial arts of our sect such as ‘Six Solar Palms Of Heavenly Mountain’, ‘Plum Breaking Hand Of Heavenly Mountain’, etc. The martial arts combined with the internal energy will give rise to enormous power. I got distracted by numerous miscellaneous skills, I did not concentrate on learning martial arts, thus my martial arts cannot be compared against Ding ChunQiu; if not, Master need only pass on his internal energy into my body and I can simply punish that traitor. Moreover, I have a martial aunt, her internal energy and martial arts are equally formidable, but I don’t know what happen to her. Unexpectedly, she was hoodwinked by Ding ChunQiu and they joined hands to attack my Master. This martial aunt is fond of handsome young men, previously Ding ChunQiu was an elegant young man and he managed to gain the love of this martial aunt. Some of Ding ChunQiu martial arts, like ‘Minor Formless Skill’, were taught by this martial aunt. If we go and trouble Ding ChunQiu, this martial aunt will assist him and it will be difficult to get rid of him. For the past thirty years, Master and I thought of numerous methods but we simply couldn’t find a suitable person to inherit Master’s martial arts. Master’s health deteriorated with each passing day, this disciple is even more difficult to find; not only must he have extremely high comprehension, he must also be a handsome youngster, natural and unrestrained...”
XuZhu said: “Junior monk is ugly, I am definitely not qualified to be the last disciple of your revered master. Old senior, please go find a handsome, natural and unstrained youngster, I will pass on your revered master’s divine internal energy to him.”
Su XingHe was startled, he said: “The divine internal energy of our sect is interlinked with heart, arteries, qi and blood, if the energy is intact the person is intact, if the energy disappears the person will die. When Master transferred his divine internal energy into you he died soon after; don’t tell me you didn’t see it?”
XuZhu stomped his feet repeatedly and said: “What should I do? I really messed up the big plan of senior and your revered master.”
Su XingHe said: “Martial brother, this is the burden you carry. Master arranged this chess formation; its purpose is to test the comprehension of a person. This ‘Zhen Long’ is simply too difficult, I painstakingly researched it for over ten years but I never managed to break it, only you, martial brother, managed to break it. Your ‘comprehension is extremely high’, this phrase it really fitting.”
XuZhu laughed bitterly and said: “It’s not fitting. I did not break this ‘Zhen Long’.” Thereafter he narrated how his martial grandfather XuanNan transmitted his voice into him and secretly guided him.
Su XingHe was skeptical and said: “I looked at the expression of XuanNan, he’d already fallen under the evil hands of Ding ChunQiu, his internal energy had long be sealed, its not likely that he can use the ‘Transmitting Voice in Secret’ technique.” Su XingHe paused and considered again. He said: “But Shaolin is the number one orthodox school of martial arts, maybe XuanNan is deliberately trying to make things complicated. I am only a frog at the bottom of the well, it’s not possible for me to see through his exact thoughts. Martial brother, I sent my people to dispatch invitation cards everywhere. I invited all the top experts under the heavens to come and break this ‘Zhen Long’. For all those who love playing chess, once they know there is such a chess meet they will definitely come. But for those who are too old, appearance... this... appearance not too handsome, or they are not part of the martial arts fraternity, then they are not invited. Young gentleman Gusu Murong’s appearance is fine as jade, he has vast knowledge of many martial arts techniques under the heavens, he is the most ideal candidate, unfortunately he can’t break the chess formation.”
XuZhu said: “Yes, gentleman Murong is 100 times better than me. There is also gentleman Duan from Dali’s Duan family, his also a fine elegant gentleman.”
Su XingHe said: “’Sigh’, there is no need to mention this matter. I heard that Dali’s Southern Garrison Prince Duan ZhengChun excelled in ‘Yiyang Finger’ [Solitary Solar Finger], even rarer is
that he is romantic and elegant; countless maidens, virgins, middle-age pretty women, once they see him they cannot help but become infatuated and head over heels in love. I sent quite a few of my disciples to Dali to invite him, unexpectedly he is not at Dali and I don’t know his last whereabouts, but his foolish and clumsy son came instead.”
XuZhu gave a faint smile, he said: “This gentleman Duan, both his eyes are always staring at Miss Wang.”
Su XingHe shook his head and said: “Regrettable, regrettable! Duan ZhengChun is frivolous and philandering, he is known as ‘Number One Romantic In Martial Arts Fraternity’, but his son is not like him at all; extremely unworthy, he is a disgrace to his father’s reputation. He goes all out and fawns upon that Miss Wang, but Miss Wang paid no attention to him at all, this is really infuriating!”
XuZhu said: “Gentleman Duan is devoted, he should be considered better than romantic loafers. Senior, how can you say it’s regrettable?”
Su XingHe said: “He looks smart but he is foolish and clumsy, he doesn’t know how to handle women. We don’t need him.”
XuZhu said: “Yes!” He was secretly happy and thought: “So you want to find a handsome youngster to deal with women, this is good. Then you will have no use for me, an ugly little monk.”
Su XingHe asked: “Martial brother, did Master ask you to find someone? Or did he give you any map and so on?”
XuZhu was stumped for words, he felt this matter was somewhat wrong. He wanted to deny it, but he was instructed by eminent monks at Shaolin since childhood, he must not lie, moreover Buddhist monks are forbidden to lie, to do so is to break a huge rule. Thus he stammered: “This...this...”
Su XingHe said: “You are the Sect Leader, anything you ask me I must answer, otherwise you can immediately put me to death. But if I ask you anything, you can choose whether or not to answer, if you don’t like to answer you can simply ask me to shut up and not ask random questions.”
Since Su XingHe said it, XuZhu felt it was not appropriate to cover up the truth. He waved his hands repeatedly and said: “How can I be arrogant in front of you? Senior, your Master gave this to me.” As he finished speaking he took out a scroll from his bosom. He saw Su XingHe withdraw his body, his expression extremely respectful. He dared not extend his hands to receive the scroll, thus XuZhu opened up the scroll himself.
As the scroll unfolded, both of them stared blankly at it. They simultaneously cried out in surprise, it seemed the scroll was not a map, it was also not a drawing of landscape or scenery, but a drawing of a pretty young maiden dressed in palace clothing.
XuZhu said: “Its turns out to be Miss Wang.”
But the quality of the scroll’s silk fabric was old and yellowing, it was at least 30-40 years old. The ink on the painting had also faded, clearly this painting was old and had been stored for many years. The painting was several times older than Wang YuYan, yet unexpectedly the painter was able to draw her appearance 10 years or even 100 years ago; this was simply unbelievable. The brush strokes on the painting were neat and lively, the figure was vivid and lifelike; it was as if Wang YuYan was miniaturized and put into the painting.
XuZhu clicked his tongue in surprise, but he saw Su XingHe extending his right finger and tracing the brush strokes of the painting. He gasped in admiration for a long time, suddenly he seem to rouse from his dream-like state and said: “Martial brother, please don’t take offense, elder brother's bad habit flared up again. When I see this ingenious painting of our Master, I suddenly had the urge to follow and learn it. ‘Sigh’, I am biting off more than I can chew. I want to learn everything but in the end I achieved nothing. I suffered a pathetic defeat against Ding ChunQiu.” As he said this, he quickly rolled up the scroll and handed it back to XuZhu. He was afraid that if he looked at the painting again he would be hopelessly mesmerized by the brush strokes of the painting. Su XingHe closed his eyes and calmed down. He shook his head forcefully, it seemed he was trying to forget the brush strokes in the painting. After a while he finally opened his eyes and said: “When Master gave this scroll to you, what did he say?”
XuZhu said: “He said my internal energy already exceeds Ding ChunQiu, but my martials arts are insufficient. I cannot subdue Ding ChunQiu, thus I should take
this scroll and go to Dali’s Limitless (Wuliang) Cave and find his huge collection of martial art manuals and learn them. But most likely I can’t master them and I have to find someone to guide me. He said this scroll shows his residence where he lives in ease and comfort, then it should be some famous mountains or great rivers, or some secluded and beautiful place, but how come its a portrait of Miss Wang? Could it be that he took the wrong scroll?”
Su XingHe said: “Master’s actions are hard to fathom, you will understand it when the time comes. You have to obey Master’s order, try to improve your martial arts and then get rid of Ding ChunQiu.”
XuZhu stammered: “This... this... junior monk is a Shaolin disciple. I have to go back to Shaolin Temple and report my mission. When I go back to the Temple, I will meditate and study scriptures, I will never come out again.”
Su XingHe had a huge shock, he jumped up and burst into tears and cried loudly. There was a ‘Pu’ sound, he knelt down in front of XuZhu, he kowtowed as if he was pounding garlic. He said: “Sect Leader, if you don’t obey Master’s order, then he died for no reason?”
XuZhu also knelt down and returned his salute, he said: “Junior monk is a Buddhist, I am forbidden to be angry and to kill. Previously I promised your revered master to get rid of Ding ChunQiu, but now I think it is not appropriate. The rules of Shaolin are very strict, no matter what junior monk cannot change sects, or run amok and commit crimes.” But regardless of how Su XingHe cried and pleaded, or tried to enlighten, or even threaten and compel, XuZhu simply refused to accept.
There was nothing Su XingHe could do, he felt dejected and hopeless. He said to his Master’s corpse: “Master, Sect Leader refuses to obey your orders, disciple is powerless, I will follow you in death.” As he finished speaking he leapt up and flipped upside down; he dove down from midair headfirst, the top of his head smashing towards the stone floor.
XuZhu cried out in fear: “You cannot do that!” He quickly hugged him. Currently, XuZhu’s internal energy was deep and profound, his movements sharp and nimble, his abilities greatly exceeded his past self, Su XingHe could not move an inch when hugged by XuZhu.
Su XingHe said: “Why don’t you allow me to commit suicide?”
XuZhu said: “Monks have to be compassionate, I cannot bear to see you die.”
Su XingHe said: “Release me, I definitely don’t want to live anymore.”
XuZhu said: “I won’t release you!”
Su XingHe said: “Don’t tell me you will hold on and never release me for a lifetime?”
XuZhu thought his words were quite true, he flipped Su XingHe upright and put him down, he said: “Fine, I will release you, but I forbid you to commit suicide.”
Su XingHe suddenly had a bright idea, he said: “You forbid me to commit suicide? Yes, I should follow Sect Leader’s orders. Wonderful! Sect Leader, you finally agree to be our Sect Leader!”
XuZhu shakes his head and said: “I never agreed. When did I ever agree?”
Su XingHe laughed out loudly and said: “Sect Leader, it’s useless for you to back out. You already gave an order and I already followed your order, from now on I will never commit suicide again. Who do you think Mr. Intelligent Su XingHe is? Other than my Sect Leader, who dares to order me around? You can ask Shaolin’s Master XuanNan, or even Abbot XuanCi, both of them don’t dare to order me around.”
While en route, XuZhu had already listened to XuanNan narrate the impressive standings of Deaf Mute Old Man in the martial arts fraternity. It was definitely not empty words when Su XingHe said no one dared to order him around. XuZhu said: “I don’t dare to order you around, but I am merely advising you to cherish your life. It’s purely out of good intentions.”
Su XingHe said: “I don’t dare to question your intentions. If you ask me to die, I will die immediately. If you ask me to live, I don’t dare to not live. This life and death order is the most powerful authority. If you are not my Sect Leader, how can you randomly order me to die or live?”
XuZhu couldn’t dispute it, he said: “Even if so, then assume that I said the wrong words just now, I withdraw it.”
Su XingHe said: “You withdraw the order that forbid me to commit suicide, then you are asking me to commit suicide. Affirmative, I will immediately commit suicide.” His method of committing suicide was really unusual; he leapt up again, flip upside down, head smashing towards the stone floor.
XuZhu again quickly hugged him firmly. He said: “You cannot do that, you cannot do that! I am not asking you to commit suicide!”
Su XingHe said: “En, you forbid me to commit suicide again. I will respectfully comply with Sect Leader’s order!” XuZhu put him down, he scratched his bald head, he really didn’t know what to say.
Su XingHe was nicknamed Mr. Intelligent; this nickname was not for fun, he was naturally eloquent, although he never spoke a single word for the past thirty years, now that he started speaking again he was still eloquent. XuZhu was still young, he was simple and unsophisticated. He never disputed or argued with his martial brothers at Shaolin Temple, how could he be a match against Su XingHe? XuZhu pondered: “Withdrawing the order that forbid him to commit suicide is not equivalent to asking him to commit suicide. Not asking him to commit suicide is not equivalent to forbidding him to commit suicide.” But Su XingHe had the gift of the gab, he forestalled him with every phrase and sentence, XuZhu had no way to defend himself. He stared blankly for quite some time, he sighed and said: “Senior, I can never win this debate against you. But you want me to join your sect, I really cannot comply.”
Su XingHe said: “Before we came in here, what did XuanNan instruct you? The words of Master XuanNan, you will comply or not?”
XuZhu was startled, he said: “Martial grandfather ask me... ask me... ask me to listen to you.”
Su XingHe is very pleased, he said: “Yes, Master XuanNan asked you to listen to me. I am telling you: ‘You should comply
with our Master’s order, become our Sect Leader.’ But since you are the Sect Leader already then you don’t have to listen to senior monks from Shaolin anymore. Thus, if you comply with Master XuanNan’s order, then you are our Sect Leader; if you don’t comply with Master XuanNan’s order, you are still our Sect Leader. Only by becoming our Sect Leader can you ignore Master XuanNan’s order, or else how can you disobey your martial grandfather’s instruction?” When XuZhu listen to this line of reasoning he thought it made sense, his rendered speechless for a while.
Su XingHe said: “Martial brother, Master XuanNan and the rest of the Shaolin monks, all of them are poisoned by Ding ChunQiu, their life will be in danger if we don’t save them quickly, currently only you alone are capable of saving them. Whether or not to save them is entirely dependent on you.”
XuZhu said: “My martial grandfather is certainly poisoned by Ding ChunQiu, as for the rest they are injured, but...but my ability is lowly, how can I save them?”
Su XingHe smiled and said: “Martial brother, our sect’s forte is not just restricted to martial arts, medicine, divination, music, chess, calligraphy, painting, our skills are all encompassing. You have a martial nephew called Xue MuHua, he only has superficial medical knowledge, but everyone calls him Divine Physician Xue, he is nicknamed ‘Enemy of King of Hell’, isn’t it laughable? XuanNan is injured by Ding ChunQiu’s ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, the square-faced monk is injured by that iron-head man’s ‘Frost Silkworm Palm’, the thin and tall monk is kicked by Ding ChunQiu on the left side of his torso around three inch below, he injured his meridians...”
Su XingHe kept talking non-stop; he narrated all the ailments and the origin of the injuries of everyone. XuZhu was very impressed, he said: “Senior, I saw you concentrating on the chess match, you didn’t even look carefully at them or even diagnose them, how come you know so many details?”
Su XingHe said: “The injuries inflicted by martial arts are so obvious that you can easily tell them from just one glance. Only those who are naturally weak and poor in health, or those that suffer cold and heat diseases, they are much harder to diagnose. Martial brother, you have our Master’s 70 years of divine internal energy, it is greatly beneficial for treating injuries and illnesses. Great Master XuanNan’s meridians contain poison, it’s a bit difficult to restore his internal energy, but it’s effortless to treat his injuries and save his life.” At once he taught XuZhu how to channel his energy to massage the acupoints, and the method to expel the ‘Frost Poison’. He also gave detailed guidance on the techniques involved in treating XuanNan, and the techniques involved in treating Feng BoE. Since both their poisonings were different, the techniques involved were also different.
XuZhu remembered all the techniques taught by Su XingHe, but he only knew how to apply them but not the reasoning behind them.
Su XingHe saw XuZhu’s demonstration of the techniques, there were no mistakes. His face revealed a smile and he praised: “Sect Leader’s memory is excellent, you understand everything at once.”
XuZhu saw his smile was rather furtive, it seemed as if he harbored malicious intentions. He could not help but ask: “Why are you smiling?”
Su XingHe immediately became solemn, he bowed respectfully and said: “Elder brother doesn’t dare to laugh or smile. Sect Leader, please forgive me if I am not respectful enough.”
XuZhu was anxious to treat everyone’s injuries, thus he did not pursue this matter anymore. He said: “Let us go outside and take a look!”
Su XingHe said: “Yes!” He followed behind XuZhu and they went outside the house.
They saw a bunch of injured people sitting cross-legged on the ground. Murong Fu was channeling his internal energy to help relieve the suffering of Bao BuTong and Feng BoE. Wang YuYan was attending to GongYe Gan's injuries. Xue MuHua was sweating profusely, he was constantly on the move. Whoever was in critical condition he would immediately go over and try to save him, but once one patient quieted down another patient started shouting again. Xue MuHua saw Su XingHe coming out of the house, he felt great relief; he quickly rushed towards him and said: “Master, please think of a method.”
XuZhu walked towards XuanNan, his eyes were closed and he was channeling his internal energy. XuZhu simply stood beside and dared not open his mouth to speak. XuanNan slowly opened his eyes, he gave a sigh and said: “I am really
incompetent, I suffered under the poisonous hands of Ding ChunQiu and tainted Shaolin’s reputation, I am really ashamed. Go back and report to the Abbot and tell him... and tell him that I and martial brother XuanTong cannot return back to Shaolin Temple anymore.”
In the past, when XuZhu met this martial grandfather before, he was always stately, charismatic and reliable, but now his expression was sullen, an attitude of desolation, his speech hinted at his intentions to commit suicide. XuZhu quickly said: “Martial grandfather, please don’t be too upset, as practitioners of martial arts, our heart must not have anger, no eagerness to compete, no desire in victory and defeat, no desire in gains and losses...” He kept reciting non-stop, unexpectedly these words were the exact same words used by XuanNan to admonish him and now he recited them back to XuanNan, but suddenly he realized that it didn’t seem right and he immediately shut up, but he had already said quite a few sentences.
XuanNan gave a slight smile and sighed: “Your words are correct, but your martial grandfather lost all his internal energy, I don’t even have the strength to concentrate on Buddhism anymore.”
XuZhu said: “Yes, yes, disciple is naive, I am talking rubbish.” As he was about to try and treat XuanNan’s injuries, he suddenly recalled the suspicious smile on Su XingHe; he was was worried: “He asked me to use my palm and smack my martial grandfather’s acupoint of the top of his head, how would I know he is not trying to harm me? If I really smack down with my palm and unexpectedly kill my martial grandfather, then what should I do?”
XuanNan said: “Go report back to the Abbot: our Shaolin Temple will meet great catastrophe in the future, he should take extra precautions against it. Be careful when travelling back, you are pure and honest, I am not worried about your Buddhist prohibition and Buddhist devotion, but from now on you must put in more effort on ‘intelligence and wisdom’. You should study attentively the four scrolls of “Lankavatara Sutra”. ‘Sigh’, its a pity that I can no longer guide you.”
XuZhu said: “Yes, yes.” He saw how XuanNan was still concerned about him, he felt really grateful. He said: “Martial grandfather, since our Temple will have great catastrophe, we need you to take care of yourself and go back to assist the Abbot, together we will drive away the enemy.”
XuanNan forced a bitter smile and said: “I... I am hit by Ding ChunQiu ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, I am already a handicapped person. How can I assist the Abbot and drive away the enemy?”
XuZhu said: “Martial grandfather, Mr. Intelligent taught me a set of healing methods, disciple is overestimating his ability but I wish to try it on martial uncle HuiFang, I ask martial grandfather for permission.”
XuanNan was flabbergasted, he knew the Deaf Mute Old Man is the Master of Divine Physician Xue. The healing method imparted by him must be sensible, but he didn’t understand why Su XingHe or even Xue MuHua didn’t come forth personally and provide the treatment. He said: “The method imparted by Mr. Intelligent is obviously ingenious.” He gave a glance at Su XingHe and said to XuZhu: “Go and try it.”
XuZhu walked towards HuiFang, he bowed and said: “Martial uncle, nephew received orders from martial grandfather, I will treat your injury, please don’t be offended.” HuiFang smile and nodded his head. XuZhu acted according to the method taught by Su XingHe, he carefully aimed the spot below the left side torso, he waved his right palm and struck the spot.
HuiFang groaned, his body swayed, he felt as if there was a hole on his torso. All his blood and vital energy seemed to flow
out from this hole, his entire body felt empty. He couldn’t control it at all, but the itch and pain caused by You TanZhi's ‘Frost Poison’ instantly vanished. XuZhu did not use his internal energy to expel the ‘Frost Poison’, rather, he use his 70 years of ‘Pure Energy of Northern Darkness’ to strike at the torso and open up a hole to drain off the ‘Frost Poison’. It was the same as someone who is bitten by a poisonous snake, he would cut open his wound and try to squeeze out the venom. With this technique ‘Cutting Body With Energy Blade’, obviously you cannot hit the wrong spot, but if your internal energy is insufficient and you cannot penetrate the meridians with a single strike, then not only will the poison not drain out, instead the poison will be forced into the inner organs and the patient will suffer a violent death immediately.
XuZhu felt unsure when he sent out his palm strike. HuiFang swayed and slowly stabilized, his frown and expression of pain gradually changed into relaxed happiness. These changes occurred within a short period of time but to XuZhu it seemed like a few hours.
After a while, HuiFang exhaled, he smiled and said: “Good martial nephew, the power in that palm strike is not small.”
XuZhu is excited and said: “I don’t dare.” He turned back and said to XuanNan: “Martial grandfather, is it ok if I go treat the rest of the martial uncles?”
Currently, XuanNan expression was extremely happy, but he shook his head and said: “No! Go treat the other seniors first, after that we treat our own people.”
XuZhu shivered in his heart, he quickly said: “Yes!” He contemplated: “Others before self, this is the great compassion of Buddhism, the heart to save all living things.” He saw Bao BuTong was in severe pain, his teeth clattering, he immediately walked towards him and said: “Mr. Bao, Mr. Intelligent taught junior monk a method to treat this ‘Frost Poison’. Junior monk only learned it today, I am not proficient, but I will treat Mr. Bao. Please forgive my offense.” As he finished speaking he extended his hand and touched Bao BuTong’s chest.
Bao BuTong laughed and said: “What’re you trying to do?”
XuZhu raised his right palm, there was a ‘Peng’ sound and he landed the palm on Bao BuTong’s chest. Bao BuTong was furious, he cursed: “Smelly mo...” But he did not complete the word ‘monk’. The ‘Frost Poison’, which had tortured him for so long, unexpectedly flowed rapidly out of his chest. He swallowed his words and dared not curse anymore.
XuZhu helped the rest of the injured people to drain off You TanZhi’s ‘Frost Poison’, afterwards he went to treat those injured by Ding ChunQiu. Some of these people had poison in their meridians due to Ding ChunQiu ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, XuZhu struck his palm at either the ‘Baihui acupoint’ on the top of their head or the ‘Lingtai acupoint’ at their solar plexus, their energy returned back to normal and they could use it to slowly neutralize the poison themselves. Some of them suffered internal energy injuries, XuZhu used his finger to prick their acupoints and dissolve the energy of Xingxiu Sect. Luckily his memory was extremely good, Su XingHe taught him various different kinds of medical treatment methods and techniques, unexpectedly he remembered all of them clearly, he implemented them accordingly and within the time taken to eat a meal he removed everyone’s pain and ailments. The patients were all very grateful towards him, as for spectators they greatly admired the divine technique of the Deaf Mute Old Man, but when they thought about the fact that he was the Master of Divine Physician Xue, they did not think that it was odd.
Finally, XuZhu walked towards XuanNan, he bowed and said: “Martial grandfather, disciple is bold, I want strike my palm on your ‘Baihui acupoint’ on the top of your head.”
XuanNan smiled and said: “You gained the favor of Mr. Intelligent, unexpectedly you managed to learn ingenious healing techniques, your affinity with fortune is really not small, go ahead and strike my ‘Baihui acupoint’.”
XuZhu bow and said: “Please forgive my boldness!” When he was at Shaolin Temple, his always looked at XuanNan from afar. When XuanNan gathered the monks to explain martial arts theories, XuZhu would just stand together with the rest and he never got much chance to talk with him, but now he actually had to strike XuanNan’s head. Although it was for the purpose of medical treatment, he still could not help but feel worried. He also notice that XuanNan’s smile was rather unusual, he didn’t understand his intention. He composed himself and said: “Disciple have to offend you, martial grandfather please forgive me!” He took a step forward, his palm targeting XuanNan’s ‘Baihui acupoint’, the force was neither hard nor soft, neither slow nor fast, he wave his palm and struck downwards.
Just as XuZhu’s palm touched XuanNan’s forehead, XuanNan suddenly gave a very odd smile, immediately after he gave a long cry and his body suddenly went limp. His body twitced a few times and he lie prostrate on the ground and was motionless.
All the spectators cried out in alarm, XuZhu was so frightened that his heart thumped madly; he hastily rushed forward and supported XuanNan. HuiFang and the rest of the monks also rushed beside him. When they saw XuanNan, his face revealed a smile but his breathing had stopped, he was already dead. XuZhu cried out in fear: “Martial grandfather, martial grandfather! What happen to you?”
Suddenly Su XingHe shouted: “Who is it? Stop there!” He arrive swiftly from the southeast corner and said: “Someone made a sneak attack behind, but his movement as very fast, unexpectedly I couldn’t see him properly!” He grabbed XuanNan’s wrist, he frowned and said: “Master XuanNan already lost his internal energy, when someone made a sneak attack he was completely defenseless and died.” Suddenly he smiled; his expression was very odd.
XuZhu 's mind was in turmoil, he cried and shouted: “Martial grandfather, martial grandfather, you...you why...” Suddenly he remembered the furtive smile by Su XingHe when they were inside the wooden house. He said furiously: “Mr. Intelligent, tell me the truth, how did my martial grandfather die? Did you intentionally try to harm him?”
Su XingHe knelt down and said: “Reporting to Sect Leader, Su XingHe dares not try to plot against Sect Leader. Master XuanNan unexpectedly passing away, it was certainly due to sneak attack.”
XuZhu said: “Just now in the wooden house, you gave a weird smile, what is the reason?”
Su XingHe was startled and said: “Did I smile? Did I smile? Sect Leader you have to be extremely careful, someone...” He did not complete his sentence as he abruptly stop talking, his face revealed an extremely odd smile.
Xue MuHua cry out loudly: “Master!” He hurriedly took out a bottle of antidote from his bosom, he quickly took off the bottle stopper and pourd three pills onto his hand and stuffed them into Su XingHe’s mouth. But Su XingHe had already stopped breathing; he did not swallow the pills. Xue MuHua burst into tears: “Master is poisoned by Ding ChunQiu and died, Ding ChunQiu this evil traitor...” He was crying so badly that he couldn’t speak anymore.
Kang GuangLing threw himself at Su XingHe’s body, Xue MuHua quickly grabbed his back and forcefully pull him back. He wept: “There is poison on Master’s body.” Fan BaiLing, Gou Du, Wu LingJun, Feng ASan, Li KuiLei, Shi QingFeng, all eight disciples stood beside Su XingHe, they felt anger and sadness.
Kang GuangLing had followed Su XingHe for a long time, he knew all the sect’s rules and regulations. When he saw his Master kneel down in front of XuZhu and refer him as ‘Sect Leader’, he already knew 80-90% of what was going on. He closely examined XuZhu’s finger, he was indeed wearing a gem ring. Kang GuangLing said: “All fellow martial brothers, follow me and pay our respects to the new Sect Leader.” As he finished speaking he knelt down in front of XuZhu and kowtowed. Fan BaiLing and the rest were startled; they suddenly realized the truth and also followed suit and kowtowed.
XuZhu was disconcerted, he said: “Ding.... Ding ChunQiu that treacherous Benefactor, he killed my martial grandfather and also killed your Master.”
Kang GuangLing said: “Kill that wicked traitor to avenge them. We ask Sect Leader to take charge of this important matter.”
XuZhu was just a little monk without any worldly experience; as for his martial arts knowledge, fame and prestige, everyone present here were all superior to him. He thought: “I have to take revenge for martial grandfather, I have to take revenge for Mr. Intelligent, I have to take revenge for that old man in the wooden house!” He shouted loudly: “I will definitely kill Ding ChunQiu.... Ding ChunQiu, this evil person...this treacherous Benefactor.”
Kang GuangLing kowtowed again and said: “Martial uncle Sect Leader agreed to deal with that traitor and avenge my Master, nephew is extremely grateful towards Martial uncle Sect Leader.”
Fan BaiLing, Xue MuHua and the rest, all of them kowtowed. XuZhu quickly knelt down to return the courtesy and said: “I don’t deserve it, I don’t deserve it, everyone please get up.”
Kang GuangLing said: “Martial uncle, nephew has another thing to report, but there are too many people here. I invite you into the wooden house so that I can personally tell you.”
XuZhu said: “Ok!”
XuZhu followed Kang GuangLing and they were about to enter the wooden house, suddenly Fan BaiLing said: “Wait! Our Master contracted that old traitor’s poison inside that house, Martial uncle Sect Leader and senior martial brother, its best that you don’t go in, that old traitor is full of tricks, you cannot guard against him.”
Kang GuangLing nodded his head and said: “You words are reasonable! Martial uncle Sect Leader’s body is very precious, we cannot let him take the risk.”
Xue MuHua said: “The two of you just speak here. We will keep watch and guard against that old traitor's schemes.” As he finished speaking he walked somewhere else. Feng ASan, Wu LingJun and the rest, all walked out to around ten zhang away.
Murong Fu, Deng BaiChuan and the rest, all of them saw the sect members move away. Although Jiumozhi, Duan YanQing and the rest found it odd, the matter did not concern them and they also left the area without consulting anyone.
Kang GuangLing said: “Martial uncle...”
XuZhu said: “I am not your martial uncle, I am also not your Sect Leader, I am a monk from Shaolin, I am not related to your Carefree Sect.”
Kang GuangLing said: “Martial uncle, how can you not acknowledge it? The name ‘Carefree Sect’, outsiders will never know this name. If outsiders accidentally or deliberately hear it, then based on our sect rules, they will be killed without fail.”
XuZhu shivered, he thought: “This rule is too evil. If I don’t agree to join their sect then it means they will kill me?”
Kang GuangLing said again: “Martial uncle, just now the techniques you displayed to treat everyone, they were precisely based on the internal energy of our sect. Nephew doesn’t dare to ask martial uncle how you joined the sect and inherited the energy from Grand Master. But maybe martial uncle managed to break Grand-Master’s chess formation, my Master acted according to the orders of Grand-Master and accepted you and passed on the Sect Leader position to you. To cut a long story short, the ‘Carefree Immortal Ring’ is on martial uncle’s finger. When our Master died he kowtowed to you and also address you as Sect Leader. Martial uncle you don’t have to give excuses anymore. It is pointless for you to evade responsibility.”
XuZhu looked to the left and right, he saw HuiFang and the rest carrying the corpse of XuanNan to the side. He also saw the corpse of Su XingHe still kneeling on the ground and his face still revealed an odd smile. His heart ached and said: “I can’t fully explain the situation now, now my martial grandfather is dead, I really don’t know what to do, old senior...”
Kang GuangLing hastily knelt down and said: “Martial uncle you definitely cannot address me like this, you will really shorten nephew’s life!”
XuZhu frowned and said: “Fine, please get up.” Kang GuangLing got up. XuZhu said: “Old senior...” He just said these words; Kang GuangLing immediately knelt down again with a ‘Pu’ sound.
XuZhu said: “Sorry, I forgot, I can’t address you like this. Please get up.” He took out the scroll given to him by the old man and open it, he said: “Your Master asked me to rely on this scroll to try and learn martial arts and then punish Benefactor Ding.”
Kang GuangLing look at the pretty lady in the painting, he shook his head and said: “Nephew don’t understand the underlying meaning; martial uncle, you should keep this painting properly and don’t let outsiders see it. Since my Master said it, then I invite martial uncle to take his view into consideration and act accordingly. Nephew wants to report about the poison contracted by our Master; it is called ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’. This poison is formless and invisible. Initially after contracting the poison, the victim’s face will reveal an odd smile but the victim doesn’t know it; after smiling three times the victim will die.”
XuZhu lowered his head and said: “I am really ashamed, when your revered master contracted the poison, his face revealed an odd smile, but I gauged others with my own lowly character, I suspected he had bad intentions. If at that time I had candidly asked him about his smile, your revered master would have applied medical treatment immediately and it wouldn’t reach this stage.”
Kang GuangLing shook his head and said: “Once you contract this ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ it’s difficult to be saved. This ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ is one of the reasons why Old Traitor Ding can go on a rampage without fear. Everyone knows about the famous ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, but you will only lose your internal energy temporarily, you will still survive; once the poison is cleared from your meridians you can channel your internal energy again. But if you contract this ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’, you will close your eyes and never open them again.”
XuZhu shook his head and said: “This is really vicious! At the time I was standing beside your master, I did not know how Ding ChunQiu managed to use his poison. My martial arts are poor, my experience low; how come Ding ChunQiu never poisoned me and spared my life?”
Kang GuangLing said: “Maybe he thinks your ability is lowly, not worth the effort to poison. Martial uncle Sect Leader, you are so young, how great can you be? Although the techniques you use to treat poison are good, but they are taught by my Master; it’s really nothing. Ding ChunQiu won’t bother about you.” As he finished speaking he suddenly realized that his speech was really rude. He quickly said: “Martial uncle Sect Leader, I spoke frankly just now, you might feel offended, but even if you are offended I still feel your martials arts are not good.”
XuZhu said: “You are absolutely correct, my martials arts are extremely poor. Old Traitor Ding...sin, sin, junior monk spoke foul language, I violated the prohibition against foul language, its really unbecoming behavior of a Buddhist… that Ding ChunQiu Benefactor Ding really finds me not worth killing.”
XuZhu was simple and unsophisticated; Kang GuangLing was not familiar with worldly affairs. Ding ChunQiu snuck into the wooden house and eavesdropped on Su XingHe imparting techniques to treat injuries and poison; why would he not plot against XuZhu? Why would he spare XuZhu just because his Martials arts are lowly? The ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ was transmitted using internal energy, the poison was shot onto the body of the victim. When Ding ChunQiu was in the wooden house, he had already used his internal energy to flick the ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ onto Su XingHe and XuZhu; afterwards he also flick the poison on XuanNan. Su XingHe was weary and exhausted after the fierce battle, XuanNan had lost his internal energy, both of them contracted the poison. But XuZhu was equipped with 70 years of divine internal energy; the internal energy of Ding ChunQiu had not even reached his body and got repelled back, all the deadly poison reflected onto Su XingHe, XuZhu did not contract the slightest bit of poison. When fighting face to face with another opponent, Ding ChunQiu didn’t dare to use ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ because he feared his opponent’s internal energy might be formidable and reflect the poison back at him.
Kang GuangLin said: “Martial uncle, you are not right. Carefree Sect is the most sacred; we keep to ourselves and operate alone. Aren’t we free and leisurely? You are our Sect Leader; no one can control you in this world. You should shed your kasaya (robe of an ordained Buddhist monk) as soon as possible, grow your hair and take 17-18 young ladies as wives. Why do you even care about Buddha or not? What prohibition against foul language, or prohibition against good language?”
As he spoke, XuZhu kept on reciting “Amituofo”. XuZhu said: “In front of me, don’t you ever say such blasphemous words against Buddha again. You said you have something to report to me, what is it?”
Kang GuangLing said: “Aiyo, I am really old and muddle-headed, I didn’t talk about the main point after talking for so long. Martial uncle Sect Leader, don’t follow in my footsteps when you grow up. Terrible, terrible, I diverted from the main topic again, I didn’t talk about the main point, damn it! Martial uncle Sect Leader, I request a very important thing from you, I hope you can approve.”
XuZhu said: “What is this big thing that needs my approval, I am really not worthy.”
Kang GuangLing said: “Alas! This is an important sect matter, if I don’t seek approval from Sect Leader then who I ask for approval? The eight of us fellow apprentices, we were expelled by our Master, its not really our fault, it’s just that Master feared that Ding ChunQiu would try to harm us and he couldn’t bear to cut out our tongues or pierce our eardrums; thus he expelled us. Today, Master took back his orders and let us rejoin the sect but he did not report this matter to Sect Leader, we have yet to formally pay our respects and become his disciples, thus we can’t be considered as part of the sect. Hence we hope to get permission from Sect Leader otherwise we will still be lonely ghosts without any sect till the day we die. We have no standing at all in the martial arts fraternity; it’s really unpleasant!”
XuZhu pondered: “This ‘Sect Leader of Carefree Sect’ I definitely cannot take this position, but if I refuse their request they will definitely nag and tangle with me. I will just allow it and see how it goes.” He said: “Since your Master already permitted it, naturally you all are part of the sect, why worry?”
Kang GuangLing rejoiced, he turned his head and shouted: “Martial brothers, the Sect Leader has allowed us to rejoin the sect!”
When the rest of the ‘Eight Friends of Hangu’ heard it, all of them were excited. 2nd brother ‘Chess Fanatic’ Fang BaiLing, 3rd brother ‘Bookworm’ Gou Du, 4th brother ‘Painting Expert’ Wu LingJun, 5th brother ‘Enemy of King of Hell’ Xue MuHua, 6th brother ‘Marvelous Craftsman’ Feng ASan, 7th sister ‘Flower Married Woman’ Shi QingFeng, 8th brother ‘Love Singing Opera’ Li KuiLei, all of them rushed over to kowtow and give thanks to the Sect Leader. But when they thought about their Master who couldn’t witness them rejoin the sect, they cried bitterly.
XuZhu felt really embarrassed, every single matter he handled further solidify his “Sect Leader” status; it was getting harder and harder for him to break away from the responsibility. He was a disciple of a famous orthodox school, Shaolin, but he ended up as the Sect Leader of some demonic sect; wasn’t it absurd? He saw Fan BaiLing and the rest were so happy that they were in tears. If he objected to being the Sect Leader now it would really spoil the mood, thus he had no choice but to shake his head and force a smile. As he turned his head, Murong Fu, Duan Yu, Wang YuYan, the six ‘Hui-generation’ monks, as well as the corpse of XuanNan, all of them disappeared; only the nine of them from Carefree Sect were left in the pine forest. XuZhu was surprised: “Yi, where did everyone go?”
Wu LingJun said: “Gentleman Murong and the senior monks from Shaolin saw us talking endlessly, they parted and left!”
XuZhu shouted: “Aiyo!” He extended his legs and chased after them. He wanted to find HuiFang and the rest and return back to Shaolin to report back to the Abbot and his own Master. At the same time, he also had the intention to slip away and break away from the disciples of Carefree Sect.
He travelled swiftly for an hour, running faster and faster but he never saw the six ‘Hui-generation’ monks. He was equipped with 70 years of Carefree Sect’s divine energy, his running speed was as fast as a fine horse. Actually when he ran down the mountain ridge he had already overtook the six ‘Hui-generation’ monks; he thought he was lagging behind and he kept on chasing. In his haste he did not notice the six monks around a corner of the mountain, after a few turns he had already outpaced them and left them far behind.
XuZhu kept on chasing until dusk, but he still did not see his martial uncles. He found it really strange and suspected that he must have taken the wrong fork in the road and he backtracked 20 li and inquired for information from passers-by, but nobody saw the six monks. Running back and forth, unexpectedly he did not feel tired at all, but it was getting dark and he was getting hungry. He arrived at a restaurant on the outskirts of a small town, he found a seat and ordered two bowls of vegetarian noodles.
The vegetarian noodles did not arrive immediately and XuZhu glanced around in all directions. Suddenly he heard a clear and bright voice beside him: “Monk, are you waiting for someone?” XuZhu turned his head, he saw a youngster wearing a green robe sitting in the west seat beside a window. The youngster’s skin was fair and clear, his appearance very beautiful, around 17-18 years of age; the youngster was grinning at him.
XuZhu said: “Yes! I want to ask little gentleman, did you see six monks?”
The youngster said: “I didn’t see six monks, but I did see one monk.”
XuZhu said: “En, one monk, may I ask little gentleman where you saw him?”
The youngster replied: “I saw him right here in this restaurant.”
XuZhu pondered: “One monk, then its not martial uncle HuiFang and the rest of the group. But I can still find out some information about this monk.” He said: “Gentleman, may I ask about the appearance of the monk? How old is he? He is headed in which direction?”
The youngster smiled and said: “This monk has high forehead and big ears, his mouth is broad and his lips thick, his nostrils tilting upwards, he is around 23-24 years old. He is currently waiting for two bowls of vegetarian noodles in this restaurant, he has yet to leave.”
XuZhu laughed out loudly and said: “Little gentleman is referring to me.”
The youngster said: “Gentleman is just gentleman, why the need to add the word ‘little’? I called you monk, I didn’t call you little monk.” This youngster’s voice was tender and delicate; it was melodious and pleasant to the ears.
XuZhu said: “Yes, I should address you as gentleman.”
While they were talking, the waiter had delivered the two bowls of vegetarian noodles. XuZhu said: “Gentleman, junior monk will start eating the noodles.”
The youngster said: “Green vegetables and mushroom, no oil and grease, how can it be tasty? Come, come over here, I will let you eat some boiled pork and roasted chicken.”
XuZhu said: “Sin, sin. Junior monk has never touched meat and fish in his entire life, gentleman please help yourself.” As he finished speaking, he turned his body around and started eating the noodles. He was unwilling to look at the how the youngster ate the chicken and meat.
XuZhu wa very hungry, in a short period of time he finished more than half a bowl of noodles. Suddenly he heard the youngster shout: “Yi, what is this?” XuZhu turned his head and saw the youngster holding a spoon with his right hand, the youngster scooped some soup and was about to drink it when he suddenly found some bizarre object. The spoon stopped around half a chi from his mouth, his left hand grasping something. The youngster stood up, his right hand pinching the object and he walk towards XuZhu and said: “Monk, look at this bug, isn’t it strange?”
XuZhu saw him pinching a small black beetle, this kind of beetle could be found everywhere, definitely not some strange object. XuZhu ask: “How is it strange?”
The youngster said: “The shell of this beetle is hard and stiff, bright and glossy, it seems to be coated with a layer of oil.”
XuZhu said: “En, ordinary beetles are like this.”
The youngster said: “Really?” He dropped the beetle on the floor, crushed it with his feet and walked back to his seat.
XuZhu sighed and said: “Sin, sin!” He lowered his head and resume eating his noodles.
He had not eaten for an entire day, these noodles seemed to be very fragrant and sweet; he even drank all the noodle broth. He took his second bowl of noodles and ate it. Suddenly the youngster burst into loud laughter and said: “Monk, I thought you are a good monk with strict discipline, but you are really just a hypocrite!”
XuZhu said: “I am a hypocrite?”
The youngster said: “You said you never touch any meat and fish your entire life, but this bowl of chicken broth noodle, how come you ate it with gusto?”
XuZhu said: “Gentleman you must be joking. This is obviously green vegetables and mushroom noodles, where is the chicken broth? I specially reminded the waiter, he couldn’t add the slightest bit of lard.”
The youngster smiled and said: “You said you never eat meat and fish, but when you drank the chicken broth you savored it with relish. Monk, let me add another spoonful of chicken broth to that noodle!” As he finish speaking he scoop the soup from the roasted chicken and stood up.
XuZhu had a huge shock, he said: “You.... you...just now you.... already....”
The youngster smiled and said: “Yes, just now I added a spoonful of chicken broth in those noodles; don’t tell me you didn’t see it? Aiyo, monk, quickly close your eyes, pretend you didn’t see it, I will add a spoonful of chicken broth to you noodles, guaranteed to enhance the flavor of the noodle. Anyway you didn’t add it yourself, Buddha won’t blame you.”
XuZhu was shocked and angry, he realized the beetle just now was meant to misdirect him and divert his gaze. The youngster used this opportunity to add a spoonful of chicken broth into the noodles. When he drank the noodle broth it was indeed exceptionally tasty, but because he never drank chicken broth before he don’t know the taste. Now that
the chicken broth is already in his stomach, what should he do? Should he try to vomit it out? He really didn’t know what to do for the moment.
The youngster suddenly said: “Monk, the six monks you are looking for, see they arrive here!” He pointed at the door.
XuZhu was excited he quickly rushed to the door and looked at the street, but there were no monks at all. He knew he got cheated by the youngster again. He felt really unhappy, but monks cannot be angry and he forcefully repressed his anger, he kept silent and returned back to eat his noodles.
XuZhu pondered: “This little gentleman is so young, but he likes to play pranks on me.” He picked up his chopsticks and quickly ate another half bowl of noodles. Suddenly his teeth bit into a smooth and greasy object, he was startled and quickly look at his bowl. There was a big piece of fatty meat within his noodles, but half of it was gone; obviously he ate it already. XuZhu slammed his chopsticks on the table, he shouted: “Suffering, suffering!”
The youngster laughed and said: “Monk, this fatty meat is not nice? Why are you complaining?”
XuZhu said furiously: “You tricked me to go to the door, but you put a piece of fatty meat at the bottom of the bowl. My.... in my 23 years of life, I never touched meat and fish, but.... all this is destroyed by you!”
The youngster gave a faint smile and said: “The taste of this fatty meat, isn’t it ten times better than vegetables and tofu? You are really foolish not to eat it.”
XuZhu frowned and stood up. He stuck his right hand into his throat, he tried hard to vomit out the fatty meat but he couldn’t do it, his thoughts were in a whirl. Suddenly he heard a disturbance outside, a lot of people entered the restaurant.
He gave a quick glance, among these people were Xingxiu disciples, he secretly cried out: “Aiyo, not good, I will die if I get caught by Old Freak of Xingxiu!” He quickly rushed to the rear door, trying to escape the restaurant, but when he open the door and entered its actually a bedroom. As XuZhu was about to step out of the room, he heard someone shout behind him: “Shop owner, shop owner, quickly bring some wine and meat!” The Xingxiu disciples already entered the parlor.
XuZhu dared not step out of the room, he closed the door lightly. Suddenly he heard someone say: “Find some place for this big belly monk to rest.” The voice was from Ding ChunQiu.
A Xingxiu disciple said: “Yes!” His footsteps heavy, he walked towards the bedroom. XuZhu was alarmed, he was at his wits end. He lowered his body and squeezed under the bed. His head went under the bed and bumped into something, a voice cried out softly: “Ah!”
It seemed someone was hiding under the bed. XuZhu was even more frightened. As he was about to withdraw, the Xingxiu disciple carried HuiJing and entered the bedroom; he put HuiJing on the bed and went out.
XuZhu heard someone whispering in his ear: “Monk, is the fatty meat tasty? What are you scared of?”
It was the youngster. XuZhu pondered: “You movement is quite nimble, you are even faster than me and hid yourself under the bed.” He spoke softly: “There’s a group of evil people outside, gentleman you definitely cannot make any sound.”
The youngster said: “How you know they are evil people?”
XuZhu said: “I recognize them. They murder people without blinking an eye, they are not playing around.”
The youngster was about to ask XuZhu to keep quiet, suddenly, HuiJing shouted: “There is someone under the bed, there is someone under the bed!”
XuZhu and the youngster were alarmed, both of them crawled out from under the bed. They saw Ding ChunQiu standing by the door, he was sneering at them, his expression very proud and yet malicious.
The youngster was so frightened that his face lost color, immediately he knelt down and shouted: “Master!”
Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: “Very good, very good! Hand it over.”
The youngster said: “Its not with disciple!”
Ding ChunQiu said: “Then where is it?”
The youngster said: “It’s at Liao Empire’s Nanjing city.”
Ding ChunQiu revealed an ominous glint, he said in a deep and low voice: “You still trying to deceive me at this moment? I will make you life so miserable that you will be begging for death.”
The youngster said: “Disciple doesn’t dare to lie to Master.”
Ding ChunQiu gaze swept across to XuZhu, he ask the youngster: “How come your together with him?”
The youngster said: “I met him just now at this restaurant.”
Ding ChunQiu snorted: “Lies!” He stared ferociously at both of them and walked back out. Four Xingxiu disciples rush into the bedroom and surrounded the two of them.
XuZhu was frightened and angry, he said: “So you are a Xingxiu disciple!”
The youngster stomped his feet and said fiercely: “Stinky monk, it’s your fault. You still dare comment on me!”
One of the Xingxiu disciples said: “Senior martial sister, how are you?” His tone was giddy, his expression rejoicing in other people’s misfortune.
XuZhu ask curiously: “How come... you... you...?”
The youngster spit in contempt and said: “Stupid monk, stinky monk, obviously I am a woman, don’t tell me you can’t tell from a single glance?”
XuZhu considered: “So this little gentleman is a woman, and she is also a Xingxiu disciple. Not only that, she is also their Senior martial sister. Oh my goodness, this is bad! She made me drink chicken broth and eat fatty meat, I am afraid she poisoned them.”
This youngster was AhZi in disguise. Although she had endlessly glory and wealth in Liao Empire, her natural disposition was active and restless. After living there for a long time she started to feel bored, Xiao Feng was often busy with
official business and could not accompany her to go hunting or play. One day, she felt moody and left the Palace alone to play. Initially she planned to return by evening but she met someone along the way. Unexpectedly this person provoked her with words, he said that although she was pretty, she did not have any male companions; it was unavoidable that she would be lonely. AhZi recalled her tender sentiments towards Xiao Feng, but he never reciprocate them. She felt indignant and immediately thought of killing the person to vent her anger. The person fled quickly and AhZi pursued him for a long distance, finally she managed to kill the person with poison, but she was very far from Nanjing. Thus she made use of this opportunity and explored the Central Plains. She wandered around everywhere; it was really a chance coincidence that she managed to meet XuZhu and Ding ChunQiu at the same time. She played a prank on XuZhu and made him violate his religious precept; it was purely on the spur of the moment and she did not have any other evil intentions.
AhZi thought her Master was living comfortably at Xingxiu Sea, he would never come to the Central Plains. Unexpectedly, her Master personally came to the Central Plains to get back the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ and they so happened to meet at this small restaurant. She was scared out of her wits. She berated XuZhu loudly to try to force herself to calm down but that was useless as her voice trembled endlessly. She quickly tried to think of an idea to escape: “The only option is to trick Master to go to Nanjing. I will let brother-in-law kill Master, this is the only way out for me. Other than brother-in-law, no one else can defeat my Master. Luckily I left the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ at Nanjing, Master will definitely try to get back this rare treasure.”
As she thought of this idea she calmed down a little, but she was having second thoughts: “But what if Master gets rid of all my martial arts and makes me a cripple, then after that he drags me to Nanjing. I am afraid this kind of torture is worse than death.” In a split second her face lost all its color again.
A Xingxiu disciple walked towards the door, he smiled happily and said: “Senior martial sister, Master is summoning you.”
When AhZi heard the summons from her Master, it was as if a mouse heard the purr of a cat, she was so frightened that her bones turned limp. She know that she could not run away and followed the Xingxiu disciple to the lobby.
Ding ChunQiu was seated alone at a table. There were food and wine on the table. The rest of the disciples stood far away with their hands straight down, their expressions reverent and respectful; they dared not breathe heavily. AhZi step forward and called out: “Master!” She knelt down.
Ding ChunQiu said: “Where exactly is it?”
AhZi said: “I dare not lie to Master. It is indeed at Liao Empire’s Nanjing city.”
Ding ChunQiu said: “Where is it located at Nanjing city?”
AhZi said: “The official residence of Lord Xiao, Lord of Southern Chancellery.”
Ding ChunQiu frown and said: “How come it fell into the hands of a Khitan dog?”
AhZi said: “It didn’t. When disciple reached the north, I feared losing Master’s treasure or accidentally damaging it, thus I secretly buried it in the rear garden of Lord Xiao’s residence. The hiding spot is extremely secluded, the garden is around 400 hectares. Other than disciple, no one else can find this ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’. Master you can put your heart at ease.”
Ding ChunQiu sneered: “Only you can find it? Heng, little trash, you are really difficult to deal with, you trying to stop me from killing you! After killing you, I can’t find the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ correct?”
AhZi shivered, her voice trembled with fear: “If Master refuses to forgive disciples act of willfulness and strips all my martial arts, picks off all my tendon and veins, breaks my hand and feet, then disciple would rather die immediately and will never reveal the Divine Tripod...the Divine Tripod.... the location of the Divine Tripod.” As she reached the end of her speech, she was so frightened that she couldn’t even articulate properly.
Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: “You little trash, you even dare to haggle with me. My Xingxiu Sect has such a powerful figure like you, I did not guard against you beforehand. It’s really an oversight for Divine Elder of Xingxiu!”
One of the Xingxiu disciples suddenly shouted: “Divine Elder of Xingxiu sees the past and future, you know the ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ would be stolen, thus you made use of AhZi and let the treasure undergo hardships so that it can be further refined and increase the magic power of the Divine Tripod.”
Another disciple said: “All the things in this world, which one of them is not within the divine calculation of Divine Elder of Xingxiu? Divine Elder is modest and dismissed his achievements, all disciples you cannot take it seriously!”
Another disciple said: “Divine Elder of Xingxiu displayed his little trick and killed XuanNan, a top expert from Shaolin. He also exterminated the Deaf Mute Old Man and his disciples, since ancient times, where can you find such person who achieves overwhelming victory? Little AhZi, no matter how crafty and scheming you are, you can never escape from the palm of Divine Elder of Xingxiu. Stop trying to be stubborn and plead guilty.” Ding ChunQiu smiled and nodded his head, he twirled his fingers and listen.
XuZhu was standing in the bedroom and he heard everything clearly, he pondered: “Martial grandfather and Mr. Intelligent were indeed killed by Benefactor Ding. Alas, there is no need to even talk about revenge, I can’t even save my own small life.”
The crowd of Xingxiu disciples all gave their remarks, they kept urging AhZi to quickly surrender and confess honestly. While they were threatening her, more than half of the speeches were praising the prestige of Divine Elder of Xingxiu. For every sentence that was directed at AhZi, they had to add another three sentences to heap praises on Ding ChunQiu.
The greatest passion in Ding ChunQiu’s entire life was to listen to other people flatter him; the cornier and sappier the speech, the happier he was. He was already flattered by his disciples for over ten years, he firmly believed their speech and felt that their praises were true. If a disciple did not exaggerate the praise, he would feel the disciple was not loyal enough. All the disciples were fully aware
of Ding ChunQiu’s temper. Whenever there was an opportunity, they would do their utmost and make a huge fanfare in their praises; they knew their life will be in danger if their praises are lacking. In reality, these Xingxiu disciples were not born shameless, they were merely shaped by their circumstances. If they didn’t behave in a certain way they could not survive, thus after a long time their habits became natural and they no longer felt any shame when flattering or singing praises.
Ding ChunQiu twirled his fingers in delight, his eyes were shut yet appeared to be open. He was feeling smug and revelled in the praises of his disciples. While fighting with Su XingHe, a huge portion of Ding ChunQiu’s long beard got burned off, now only a few hairs remained. Afterwards he secretly deployed his deadly poison the ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ and poisoned Su XingHe to death, thus he could be considered to be the victor in his battle with Su XingHe. Now that he has less beard he appeared younger by ten years.
He plotted secretly: “AhZi that little girl, it’s difficult for her to escape the control of Divine Elder, tomorrow I will accept her back as a maid. But that little monk in that bedroom, I need to deal with him carefully. Unexpectedly he did not die from my ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’, later I will use my ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ and kill his dog life. I will then be able to get my hands on the Sect Leader’s ‘Carefree Immortal Ring’, wonderful, wonderful!”
After the time taken to eat a meal, the praises gradually died down, however there were still some who delved deep into open discussion and kept on praising. Ding ChunQiu raised his left hand and the praises stopped immediately. The disciples said in unison: “The achievements and virtue of Divine Elder of Xingxiu cover heaven and earth. Disciples are simple minded, we are not worthy to convey your greatness.” Ding ChunQiu smiled and nod his head, he said to AhZi: “AhZi, what else you have to say?”
AhZi suddenly had an idea: “In the past, I was my Master’s favorite. It was because my flattering and boot-licking skill stands out from the masses, I am different from this bunch of stupid people, 100 years later and they still keep on saying these clichés.” She said: “Master, disciple secretly took your ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ to play, there is a reason behind it.”
Ding ChunQiu rolled his eyes and asked: “What reason?”
AhZi said: “Master, previously you looked older, your power isn’t as great as your current younger self, you gained power with the help of the Divine Tripod and use it to practice your skills. But in recent years, anyone who comes across Master will witness your peerless magical powers, this Divine Tripod is merely an object that gathers poison, compared to the achievements of Master, it’s like comparing a firefly with the sun; they cannot be mentioned in the same breath. If Master is unwilling to discard this Divine Tripod its only because of past sentiments, nothing more. All these disciples make a big fuss, they claim this Divine Tripod is some important treasure, it will delay important matters if its lost. They are really silly and stupid, they really look down on Master’s remarkable magical powers.”
Ding ChunQiu nodded his head repeatedly and said: “En, en, your words are logical, your words are logical!”
AhZi continued: “Disciple thought, the martial arts of Xingxiu Sect is so strong, the other sects all cannot be compared to us, but Master is gracious and magnanimous, you don’t want to argue with the lesser informed. It is beneath your dignity to personally travel to the Central Plains and teach these ill-informed people a lesson. But some of the people in the martial arts fraternity are arrogant, they knew Master won’t bicker with them and they started boasting and flaunting; they claimed they are some kind of top expert or famous martial arts family. But no matter how they boast they still don’t dare to come to Xingxiu Sea to receive a few moves from Master. Master’s appearance and mine are similar, they thought you are some newly recruited disciple, but they didn’t expect you to be the great founding father with unrivalled martial arts and peerless divine power. Everyone who practices martial arts all knows Master’s skill is deep and unfathomable, but it’s just ‘deep and unfathomable’, nobody can describe how ‘deep’ it is.”
Her voice was melodious, every single word registered deeply in Ding ChunQiu’s heart; it really is much better than the loud and tasteless praise from the rest of the disciples. Ding ChunQiu was getting more and more cheerful, he was smiling so broadly that his eyes became a single line; he could not help but nod repeatedly, feeling very pleased with himself.
AhZi continued: “Disciple had a childish thought: Master has such remarkable magic powers, if you don’t go to the Central Plains and display a few moves, these ill-informed people will never broaden their horizon, they will never know there is someone even better than them. Thus I had an idea, I wanted to invite Master to the Central Plains and teach them some lessons. But if I just simply invite Master then its too ordinary, it’s not suited to the status of Master as the number one expert. Hence, disciple borrowed your Divine Tripod, the purpose is to urge Master to come to the Central Plains and let everyone see you, the handsome youngster. Master is so young and handsome; you look like my younger brother. Everyone calls you ‘Divine Elder of Xingxiu’, it is simply unreasonable. Xingxiu Sect has such a handsome youngster like you, don’t tell me they have no eyes?” AhZi was naturally smart and intelligent, moreover all females have keen eye on ‘everlasting youth and good looks’, she long noticed that her Master was worried about the effectiveness of the ‘Eternal Youth Never Ageing Skill’, the more he worries about everlasting youth, the more she has to compliment that he is youthful. Thus she says that calling him ‘Handsome Youngster of Xingxiu’ is much better than ‘Divine Elder of Xingxiu’. After she finished speaking, she noticed her Master’s expression is favorable and delighted, it seems her words hit the correct main points.
Ding ChunQiu chuckled and said: “So you are saying that you took the Divine Tripod purely out of filial piety and obedience.”
AhZi said: “Of course. But other than filial piety and obedience, disciple also had a selfish motive.”
Ding ChunQiu frowned and said: “What selfish motive?”
AhZi smiled and said: “Master please don’t blame me, since I am a Xingxiu disciple naturally I wish that my sect can dominate the entire world. Isn’t it impressive to walk on the street and gain everyone’s respect and reverence? This is my selfish motive.”
Ding ChunQiu laughed out loudly and said: “Well said, well said! I have many disciples in my sect; none of them can match your quick-witted mind. So it turns out that stealing my ‘Divine Wooden King Tripod’ is to display my might and prestige. Hei hei, you really have the gift of the gab, its a pity to just kill you, I will then have one less person who can talk to me and relieve my boredom, but if I simply just let the matter rest then...”
AhZi quickly interrupted: “Although it may seem that disciple got off too lightly, but who isn’t grateful to Master’s great magnanimous spirit? From now on we will spare no effort and do our utmost, even if we have to get our bodies torn and bones crushed.”
Ding ChunQiu said: “This kind of word is useful for fooling others, but you try this on me; you really think I am old and muddle-headed? You harbor evil intentions.”
AhZi quickly said: “To me, Master is a young urchin, ‘old and muddle-headed’ are the words used by the rest of the disciples to slander Master...”
As she spoke, suddenly there was a clear and bright voice: “Shop owner, prepare a seat!”
Ding ChunQiu looked from the side of his eyes, he saw a young gentleman wearing yellow robe, a long sword hanging by his waist, he was sitting at the edge of a table. Ding ChunQiu did not know when this young gentleman entered the restaurant. The young man was Murong Fu. Ding ChunQiu was listening to AhZi, he was feeling extremely happy, but at the same time he also kept his focus on the movements of XuZhu who is in the rear bedroom. He was afraid that XuZhu might climb out the window and escape, thus he did not notice that another person suddenly appeared in the restaurant. If Murong Fu had made a sneak attack Ding ChunQiu would have suffered a major loss. Ding ChunQiu trembled with fear at this thought, his countenance changed but he calm down immediately.
- End of Chapter 32 -