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Demi Gods & Semi Devils Book 4
XXXIII - Enduring anarchy, or apocalypse
Chinese title: 天龍八部 - 奈天昏地暗 斗转星移Original novel written by Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
Wuxia Novel Fan Translation by darksinz
Chapter 33: Darkness Envelops Heaven and Earth, Star Shifting Movement
Murong Fu greeted Ding ChunQiu: “Pleased to meet you, life is really full of coincidences, we just parted for a short while and we meet each other again.”
Ding ChunQiu smiled and said: “Fate brought us together.” Ding ChunQiu pondered: “Although this man is my relative-in-law but I wounded a few of his important subordinates, would he let the matter rest easily? Gusu Murong family got hold of the collection of martial arts manuals which I took from Limitless (Wuliang) Cave, along with their own ancestral martial arts, their martial arts knowledge is extremely deep and profound, ‘Returning you with your own move’ they are famous far and wide. His hidden weapon skill in firing the chess-piece is really formidable. Previously he
entered into trance while playing chess, originally I wanted to seize the opportunity and eliminate him, but he was saved by someone else. Although this little boy’s martial arts are high, he doesn’t know sorcery.” He turned his head and said to AhZi: “Just now you said that if I strip you of all your martial arts, pick off all your tendons and veins, break your hands and feet, you would rather die than tell me the location of the object, correct?”
AhZi was extremely scared, her voice trembled: “Master is magnanimous and generous, there is no need... no need... to take disciple’s nonsense... serio... seriously.”
Murong Fu smiled and said: “Mr. Ding, you are so old already, why lower your level and bicker with a child? Come come come, I give you three toasts. We will discuss literature and martial arts, isn’t it good? Tidying your sect matter in front of an outsider, isn’t it too damaging to your reputation?” He knew that in terms of relations, he should address Ding ChunQiu as ‘Great Uncle in-law’, but he simply refused to address him as such.
Ding ChunQiu had yet to reply, a disciple shouted furiously: “You really have no respect for senior, my Master is the most revered supreme martial artist, how can he discuss literature and martial arts with a younger generation boy like you? Are qualified to discuss with my Master?”
Another person shouted: “Respectfully kowtow and ask for guidance, Divine Elder of Xingxiu always loves to help the underdeveloped, maybe he will give you a few pointers. But you want to discuss literature and martial arts with him, haha, aren’t you afraid that people will laugh until their mouth becomes slanted? Haha!” He laughed two times, but his expression was extremely odd. After a while, he laughed again once more, his voice was hoarse. After laughing his mouth was wide open and he did not make any more sound, his expression
was still odd and mysterious, his smile was really comical.
The rest of the disciples knew this person contracted their Master’s ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’. Everyone was overwhelmed with shock, this person was their fellow apprentice, they dared not breathe. They lowered their heads and dared not look at their Master, they thought: “I wonder how he offended Master with his words just now, Master used such violent method to kill him? I have to carefully think about his words and refine them, I cannot repeat the same mistakes!”
Ding ChunQiu was furious yet fearful. Just now while talking to AhZi, he waved his sleeve; he secretly channeled his internal energy and sent the ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ poison at Murong Fu. The poison is colorless and odorless, the poison powder extremely fine, moreover the sky was already dark, the restaurant is dark and hazy. Even with Murong Fu’s high level of martial arts he definitely could not detect it, but Ding ChunQiu didn’t know what kind of method Murong Fu employed as he managed to transfer the ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ onto his own disciple. It was not big deal losing one disciple, but Murong Fu did not move his hand or feet while talking and somehow he managed to transfer the poison powder onto another person, obviously the powder was not repelled by internal energy. Even with Ding ChunQiu’s extensive knowledge he still couldn’t figure out what kind of skills Murong Fu employed. Ding ChunQiu thought of the phrase: “Returning you with your own move!” The technique used by Murong Fu must be similar to ‘Catching and redirecting hidden weapons’, ‘Catching and redirecting darts’, ‘Catching and redirecting arrows’; Murong Fu must have caught the poison powder and redirected it back. But the powder is extremely fine, how could it not land on his body, and he immediately redirected it back?
Ding ChunQiu was having second thoughts: “But if we talk about ‘Returning
you with your own move’, this ‘Carefree Three Smile Powder’ should be returned back to me. Heng, it’s likely that this boy is afraid of Divine Elder, he doesn’t dare to pull the tiger’s whiskers.” When he thought of ‘pull the tiger’s whiskers’ he touched his beard, there was only 7-8 strands of burnt short-beard left. He felt vexed and angry: “Later when I have time I will shave off this beard so that I can appear younger. Even with Su XingHe and XuanNan’s martial arts and internal energy they still died by Divine Elder’s hand. Murong Fu is still wet behind the ears, how can he even fight with me?” He said: “Gentleman Murong, fate really brought us together.” As he finished speaking his body floated forward, he waved his palm and hacked down.
Murong Fu long heard of the evil reputation of Ding ChunQiu’s ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, he slanted his body and dodged. Ding ChunQiu chopped three times in succession. Murong Fu used his exquisite body movement to evade, he did not match palms with him.
Both of them fought faster and faster, the small restaurant was filled with tables and stools, the place was really cramped, there was simply no room for action, but both of them weaved and moved between the tables and chairs. Unexpectedly they did not make any sound at all, they did not match palms or fists, even the tables and chairs remained intact and did not move.
All the Xingxiu disciples stood plastered to the wall, nobody dared to step out of the door. Their Master was current fighting a formidable opponent, if anyone abandoned him then he was committing a huge offense and was not loyal to the sect. Everyone knew the situation was dangerous, if they get caught by the palm wind their life will be in danger. They prayed that their body could turn into a thin piece of paper as they desperately plastered themselves onto the wall. They saw Murong Fu was defending rather than attacking; although his palm move was wonderful, because he is unwilling to
match palms with Ding ChunQiu, his hands and feet seemed to be tied and he was at a disadvantage. The Xingxiu disciples secretly rejoiced.
After numerous moves, Ding ChunQiu became aware that Murong Fu was unwilling to match palm with him, obviously he was afraid of the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’. Since his opponent was afraid of the skill, it goes without saying that he must use this skill to subdue him, but Murong Fu’s body movement was swift and unpredictable, it was difficult to force him to match palm moves. After another few palm moves, Ding ChunQiu suddenly had an idea. His right palm waved horizontally and advanced, but he pretended that his left hand was not as agile, he deliberately made an effort to cover it up so that Murong Fu wouldn’t notice it.
Murong Fu’s martials arts are exquisite, how could he not notice the slightest weakness in his opponent moves? Murong Fu slanted his body and made a half turn, suddenly he sent out two palm strikes; the power was very fierce, he was targeting Ding ChunQiu left torso. Ding ChunQiu snorted softly and retreated one step; unexpectedly he did not use his left palm to meet the palm strike. Murong Fu pondered: “The left torso of this Old Freak seems to have sustained some internal injury.” Immediately he pressed on and did not give any leeway, although his attacks seemed to be focusing on the right side, but all his internal energy is completely focused on attacking the left side.
After fighting for 20 moves, Ding ChunQiu’s left hand withdrew into his sleeve, he flipped his right palm and formed a claw, he clawed at Murong Fu’s face. Murong Fu tilted his body and spun past him, he stuck out his fist and struck Ding ChunQiu’s left torso. Ding ChunQiu was waiting for this fist for a long time. His opponent finally struck out with his fist, he could not help but feel delighted. Immediately he flung his left sleeve at his opponent’s right arm.
Murong Fu reckoned: “Even if the wind from your sleeve is ten times more powerful, how can it even harm me?” He did not withdraw his fist, he channeled his internal energy to his arm and forcibly endure the sleeve’s attack. There was a ‘Chi’ sound, unexpectedly Murong Fu’s right sleeve was torn off. Murong Fu was shocked, suddenly something seemed to tighten around his fist. Ding ChunQiu had gripped his fist.
This move was beyond Murong Fu’s anticipation, he suddenly realized: “This Old Freak is pretending to be injured, he is trying to tempt me, I fallen into his trap!” He felt remorseful: “I was arrogant, I belittled this world famous Old Freak of Xingxiu.” Currently it was not possible for him to retreat, he poured his entire internal energy into his right fist and sent it out.
Murong Fu did not expect the toxicity of the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ to act immediately, the internal energy he sent through his meridians couldn’t be gathered in his right fist, it seemed to have been dissolved by his opponent. Murong Fu secretly cried out: “Aiyo!” He was fighting Ding ChunQiu for the first time, he concentrated his attention and did not give any chance to Ding ChunQiu to use his ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, unexpectedly he still couldn’t avoid it. Murong Fu was trapped with no way out. If he channeled his internal energy to resist, no matter how strong his internal energy it would all be dissolved and he would lose all his internal energy; but if he defended and withdrew his internal energy, all kinds of poison from Ding ChunQiu would also follow his internal energy pathway and enter his inner organs.
As he hesitated, suddenly someone shouted behind him: “Master set up this clever trick, this stinky boy trapped himself in a desperate situation.” Murong Fu quickly retreated two steps, he stretched out his left palm and grabbed the chest of the Xingxiu disciple.
The supreme consummate skill of Gusu Murong family is a technique that borrows force and redirects it back, it is known as ‘Star Shifting Movement’. Outsiders are unaware of this technique, they only know about the brilliant skills of Murong family’s ‘Returning you with your own move’. When dealing the killing blow the Murong family would always use the opponent’s signature move or unique consummate skills, the Murong family knew everything and was proficient in all of them. In reality, there were tens of thousands of moves and unique consummate skills, no matter how smart you are you could never master every single technique. Moreover, for unique consummate skills, you definitely could not learn it within a short period of time. The Murong family had this incomparably ingenious technique, ‘Star Shifting Movement’, regardless of the martial arts used, all the force can be shifted and redirected back at the opponent.
For those adept in ‘Throat Sealing Sword’, if they thrust their sword at Murong Fu’s throat, Murong Fu wiould use ‘Star Shifting Movement’ and the sword would end up thrusting their own throat, the weapon, the force, the technique, all of them come from their own move. For those adept in ‘Gate Breaking Knife’, they would chop down with their knife but end up chopping their own arm; the weapon is their own, the technique and move is their own. As long as no one witnessed how Murong Fu used this ‘Star Shifting Movement’, no one will suspect that these people died due to suicide. Murong Fu inherited the technique from his father, both father and son trained painstakingly and secretly in the cellar of Canhe Manor, outsiders were completely ignorant about it. Gusu Murong family shakes the martial arts fraternity by force, but nobody knew their true martial arts.
The opponent’s weapons, fists, kicks, they act and suffer for it, the sole reason was due to redirection. It was the same logic as punching a stonewall, the harder the
force exerted, the harder the counter-force by the stonewall. However, it was easy to redirect tangible objects such as weapons, fists and kicks, but it was extremely difficult to redirect internal energy attacks. Although Murong Fu practiced this set of skills for many years, he was limited by his young age and he had yet to reach the pinnacle of this skill, thus he could not use ‘Star Shifting Movement’ on top experts like Ding ChunQiu to redirect the attacks back at him. However he made use of this good opportunity and displayed his ‘Star Shifting Movement’ on the Xingxiu disciple. He shifted and redirected, but it was targeted at the Xingxiu disciple.
Currently, Murong Fu was trapped by the ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’, he tried to redirect his opponent’s finishing blow. Luckily the Xingxiu disciple was eager to fawn upon Ding ChunQiu, he shouted and revealed his exact position. In an act of desperation, Murong Fu did not have time to think and he simply grabbed the Xingxiu disciple and immediately shifted and redirected, he swapped position with him. This risky maneuver unexpectedly worked, Ding ChunQiu intended to ‘dissolve’ Murong Fu’s internal energy, but as he transmitted his poison he actually ‘dissolved’ the energy of his own disciple.
Murong Fu succeeded in a single attempt and escaped mortal danger. He quickly made use of this good opportunity and did not give Ding ChunQiu any chance to think, he pushed the Xingxiu disciple onto another Xingxiu disciple. The internal energy of this second disciple was immediately sealed by the poison of Ding ChunQiu’s ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’.
Ding ChunQiu saw Murong Fu redirecting his force and harming his own disciples, he was extremely angry, but he considered: “If I protect these worthless disciples and release his fist, then it will be extremely difficult to grab hold of him again. My Xingxiu Sect will suffer a huge defeat and Divine Elder of Xingxiu cannot establish his might in the Central Plains.” Immediately he increase pressure in his fingers, no matter what happen he won’t release Murong Fu’s fist, poison transmit endlessly from his palm.
Murong Fu retreated a few steps, he quickly grabbed another Xingxiu disciple and diverted the poison of ‘Great Energy-Dissolving Skill’ onto the disciple’s body. In no time three Xingxiu disciples had their internal energy sealed, they lie down on the floor paralyzed. Everyone was greatly astonished, they saw Murong Fu retreat towards them, all of them cried out in alarm and fled for their lives. Murong Fu shook his arm, the three poisoned Xingxiu disciples stuck together and flew up, one of them bumped against another disciple. The person cried out in alarm and his body instantly turned weak.
The remaining disciples could see it clearly, as long as their Master refused to release Murong Fu he would just keep on borrowing force to harm others, inevitably their internal energy would be ‘dissolved’ by their Master and they might be the next victim. They panicked but no one dared to escape and step out of the door; they scurried around like rats to avoid suffering from their Master’s poison hands.
But the restaurant was simply too small, Murong Fu waved his arm and he managed to hit three or four Xingxiu disciples. Ding ChunQiu saw his disciples dodging pathetically, no one had the time to praise him. He was angry yet ashamed, he pondered: “If I defeat Gusu Murong it will be a famous event that shakes the entire world. By then, won’t it be easy to find disciples who can boast and boot-lick?” Ding ChunQiu surveyed his surroundings, of all his disciples only two did not run around. One of them was You TanZhi, he was squatting in a corner with his iron-head between his arms; obviously he was very scared. The other person was AhZi, her complexion was pale, she was squatting in another corner and observing the fight.
Ding ChunQiu shouted: “AhZi!” AhZi was currently in a daze, unexpectedly her Master shouted at her. She stared stupidly for a while and said: “Master, Divine Junior of Xingxiu displaying his immortal power...” She only complete half her sentence as she found it awkward, she laughed and could not carry on talking. Her Master was indeed displaying his immortal power, but he was injuring his own disciples, thus she didn’t know how to praise him.
Ding ChunQiu could not control Murong Fu, he was feeling extremely vexed. AhZi addressed him as “Divine Junior of Xingxiu”, although this name was pretty good, her smiling expression is obviously ridiculing him. He could not help but feel angry and his lust for violence burst forth. He waved his left sleeve and brushed away two chopsticks on the table, the chopsticks flew swiftly towards AhZi’s eyes.
AhZi cried out: “Aiyo!” She quickly extended her hands to smack down the chopsticks, however she was slower by one step, the chopsticks touched both her eyes. She felt itchy and numb, she quickly used her sleeve to rub her eyes. She opened her eyes, all she saw were white shadows swaying; after a short period of time the white shadows gradually disappear and it was completely pitch-black.
She was scared out of her wits, she shouted loudly: “My.... my eyes...my eyes.... I can’t see anything!”
Suddenly a burst of cold air entered her body, immediately after an arm wrap around her waist, someone hugged her and ran out of the restaurant. AhZi shouted: “My.... my eyes....” There was a crashing sound behind her, it seemed to be the clashing of palms. AhZi felt as if she was soaring on cloud and she flew up, she was in a daze and vaguely heard Murong Fu shout: “I cannot accompany you anymore. Old Freak of Xingxiu, see you...”
AhZi felt the cold chilling her to the bone, the wind was rushing beside her ears, someone who was colder than ice was hugging her and running madly. She was so cold that her jaws hit each other, she moaned: “So cold.... my eyes.... cold, so cold.”
The person said: “Yes, yes. We will flee to that forest, Divine Elder of Xingxiu won’t be able to find us.” He kept talking and running at the same time. After a while, AhZi felt his footsteps stop, he put her down lightly. There was a rustling sound underneath her body, she was put onto of a pile of dried leaves. The person said: “Miss, how.... how are your eyes?”
AhZi felt sharp pain in her eyes, she opened her eyes fully but she can’t see anything at all, everything had turned into black. She realized her eyes had been blinded by Ding ChunQiu’s poison, she burst into tears: “I.... I am blind!”
The person comforted her softly: “Maybe it can be treated.”
AhZi said furiously: “The poison of Old Freak Ding is so powerful, how can it be treated? You are lying! I am blind, I am blind!” and she continue to cry loudly.
The person said: “There is a brook nearby, let us go over there and wash off the poison in your eyes.” As he finished speaking, he pulled her right hand and supported her up.
AhZi felt his palm was strangely cold, she could not help but withdraw; the person released his grip. AhZi moved two steps, she stumbled and almost fell down. The person said: “Careful!” and he gripped her hand again. This time AhZi did not withdraw her hand and she allowed him to guide her to the brook. The person said: “Don’t be scared, we are at the brook already.”
AhZi knelt down and scooped the water with her hands to wash her eyes. The cool
water touched her eyes and her pain gradually diminished, but her vision is still completely black, she couldn’t see any light. In a split second she felt hopelessness, grief, anger, helplessness, all kinds of emotions surged forth. She sat down and burst into tears, both her legs moved up and down and beat the brook, she cried: “You are lying, you are lying, I am blind, I am blind!”
The person said: “Miss, don’t be sad. I won’t leave you...you.... rest assured.”
AhZi felt somewhat comforted, she asked: “You.... who are you?”
The person said: “I.... I....”
AhZi said: “Sorry! Many thanks for saving me. What is your honorable name?”
The person said: “I.... I.... Miss you don’t know me.”
AhZi said: “You are unwilling to even tell me your name, still lie to me that you won’t leave me, I.... I am blind, its.... it’s better for me to just die.” She started crying again.
The person said: “Miss you definitely must not die. I.... I will never leave you. If Miss allows me to accompany you, I will always...I will always be at your side.”
AhZi said: “I don’t believe you! You are lying; you are trying to trick me not to seek death. I want to die, I am blind, what the point in living?”
The person said: “I will never lie to you, if I leave you then I will die a horrible death.” His tone was anxious, obviously he was sincere.
AhZi said: “Then who are you?”
The person said: “I...I am Juxian Manor.... no, no, my surname is Zhuang, named JuXian.”
The person who saved AhZi was the young master of Juxian Manor, You TanZhi.
AhZi said: “So you are Zhuang.... senior Zhuang, many thanks for saving me.”
You TanZhi said: “I am very happy to be able to save you from the poisonous hands of Ding ChunQiu, there is no need to thank me. I am not a senior, I am only older than you by a few years.”
AhZi said: “En, then I will call you elder brother Zhuang.”
You TanZhi felt boundless joy, he voice trembled: “This... this... I don’t deserve it.”
AhZi said: “Elder brother Zhuang, I need to request something from you.”
You TanZhi said: “You don’t need to request, Miss, just give your instruction, I will disregard my life and do my best to fulfill it.”
AhZi smiled and said: “You and I are total strangers, why you treat me so well?”
You TanZhi said: “Yes, yes, yes we are total strangers, I have never see you before, you, you also never see me before. We... we are seeing each other for the first time.”
AhZi said dimly: “Seeing each other? I will never be able to see you.” As she said this she cannot help it and her tears rolled down.
You TanZhi quickly said: “It’s not important. It’s best that you can’t see me.”
AhZi ask: “Why?”
You TanZhi said: “My...my appearance is very ugly, if Miss sees me you will definitely be unhappy.”
AhZi smiled sweetly and said: “You are lying again, I have seen all the weirdest people in the world. I have a slave, he is wearing an iron mask, he can never take it off, he is truly ugly. If you see him I guarantee you will laugh for three days and three nights. You want to look at him?”
You TanZhi was trembling: “No, no! I don’t want to see.” He could not help but retreat two steps.
AhZi said: “Your martials arts are good, when you carried me and ran your speed is almost as fast as my brother-in-law, but you are a coward, you don’t even dare to see an iron-head man. Elder brother Zhuang, that iron-head man is very amusing, I’ll ask him to do cartwheel for you, I’ll ask him to stick his head inside a tiger cage and let the beast bite his head. Then I’ll ask someone to fly him like a kite, it’s really fun and interesting.”
You TanZhi could not help but shiver, he said: “I don’t want to see, I really don’t want to see.”
AhZi sigh and said: “Fine. Just now you claim that you will fulfill whatever request that I have, it seems you are lying.”
You TanZhi said: “No, no! I won’t lie to you. Miss what you want me to do?”
AhZi said: “I want to return to my brother-in-law, he is at Nanjing in the Liao Empire. Elder brother Zhuang, please escort me there.”
You TanZhi was stunned, he did not reply.
AhZi said: “Why? You’re unwilling?”
You TanZhi said: “No... It’s not that I am unwilling, but... but I don’t want... I don’t want to go to the Liao Empire.”
AhZi said: “I ask you to go look at the amusing iron-head man and you refuse. Now I ask you to escort me to my brother-in-law and you also refuse. Then I just have to travel alone.” She slowly stood up, she extended her hands and moved forward to find a path.
You TanZhi said: “I will accompany you! How can you go alone.... how can you succeed like this?”
You TanZhi held onto AhZi’s soft and smooth hand and guided her out of the forest. He mused: “If I can hold onto her hand like this and walk slowly, even if we are walking to the 18th level of hell I will also be happy.”
They reached the main road and came face to face with a group of beggars. The leader of the group was tall and thin, his appearance refined. You TanZhi recognize him as Great Wisdom Hall Master Quan GuanQing. You TanZhi considered: “My Master injure these people, unexpectedly they did not die.” He did not want to meet them and he quickly dragged AhZi to get off the main road and walked towards wasteland.
AhZi felt the terrain was uneven and bumpy, she asked: “What happened?”
You TanZhi had yet to reply as Quan GuanQing spotted them, he quickly rushed over to block them and shouted in a stern voice: “Your behavior is secretive, what you trying to do? You.... you are so strange-looking, what is that?”
You TanZhi was very anxious, he thought: “If he shouts out ‘iron-head man’ then AhZi will immediately know who I am, she will not pay attention to me anymore. She won’t let me hold onto her hand and accompany her to Nanjing.” He quickly made some hand gestures to warn Quan GuanQing not to reveal his appearance.
Quan GuanQing did not understand the meaning of his hand gestures, he asked curiously: “What you doing?” You TanZhi pointed at AhZi, he wave his hands, he pointed at his mouth and wave his hands again, after that he cupped his fists as a sign of respect. Quan GuanQing could tell that AhZi was blind, he vaguely understands that the iron-head man was asking him not to speak, as he was
thinking about what to do the rest of the beggars had rush to his side.
One of the beggars pointed at You TanZhi’s head and burst into loud laughter, he shouted: “This is so strange, this iron...” You TanZhi threw himself forward and struck out with his palm. The beggar raised his hands to block, there were a few ‘Kala Kala’ sounds, the beggar’s arm bone and ribs broke simultaneously, his body flew up a few zhang and landed on the floor; he died violently.
The rest of the beggars were shocked and furious, five of them attacked You TanZhi together. You TanZhi waved both his palms, he struck and slapped randomly. His martials arts were lousy, they could not be compared with these beggars, but his palm moved everywhere and with sounds of ‘Kala’, ‘Kala’, ‘Aiyo’, ‘Aiyo’, ‘Peng Peng Peng’, ‘Pu Pu’, the five beggars all flew up and landed on the ground, they died one after another. Everyone was terrified, after surrounding You TanZhi and AhZi they dared not step forward to attack.
You TanZhi suddenly cupped his fists and saluted Quan GuanQing, he pointed at AhZi and at his iron-head, he waved his hands.
Quan GuanQing saw him kill six beggars with just a few wave of his hands, his internal energy was extremely profound, such power was rarely seen. He could simply step forward and attack but he made a salute. Quan GuanQing didn’t understand his intentions, he copied You TanZhi and made hand gestures. He pointed at AhZi, pointed at You TanZhi’s head, pointed at his own mouth and wave his hands. You TanZhi was overjoyed and nodded his head repeatedly. Quan GuanQing had an idea: “This person's internal energy is strangely profound, but he is scared that I will leak out his secret, it seems I can use this matter to control him and make use of him.” At once he said to the rest of the beggars: “Everyone please keep quiet, nobody is allowed to speak.” You TanZhi was very happy, he cupped his fists at Quan GuanQing again.
AhZi ask: “Elder brother Zhuang, who is it? Did you kill someone?”
You TanZhi said: “Its some friends from Beggars Clan, we had some misunderstandings. Great Wisdom Hall Master Quan is benevolent and righteous, he is a good person, I respect him a lot. I.... I accidently harmed a few of his brothers, I feel very apologetic.” As he finished speaking he bowed to the rest of the beggars.
AhZi said: “Is there good people in Beggars Clan? Elder brother Zhuang, your martial arts are so high, why don’t you simply kill them all and help my brother-in-law vent his resentment.”
You TanZhi quickly said: “No, no, this a misunderstanding. Hall Master Quan is my good friend, just wait there, I will clarify the matter with Hall Master Quan.” As he finished speaking he beckoned Quan GuanQing over.
Guan GuanQing was baffled as this iron-head man recognized him, but it seemed he did not have any evil intention; he followed and they moved away ten zhang.
You TanZhi saw that AhZi was far away from him. She definitely could not hear him speak, but he was afraid that the Beggars Clan’s members would hurt her, he dared not move further anymore and stopped. He cupped his hands and said: “Hall Master Quan, I hope you can help me cover up the truth, I will never forget your great kindness and virtue.”
Quan GuanQing said: “The particulars of this matter, I really can’t make heads or tails of it. May I know the honorable name of respected brother?”
You TanZhi said: “My surname is Zhuang, named JuXian, I met some unfortunate incident and this iron mask ended up on my head, you cannot let that lady know of this matter.”
Quan GuanQing noticed that You TanZhi kept looking at AhZi while speaking, he was very caring and passionate. Quan GuanQing had already deduced 70-80% of this matter, he pondered: “This young lady is pretty and elegant, this iron-head man must be in love with her, he is afraid of letting her know about his grotesque appearance.” He asked: “Brother Zhuang, how come you recognize me?”
You TanZhi said: “Your Great Wisdom Hall had a gathering to discuss who to nominate as Clan Leader, I happened to be nearby and heard someone address you as Hall Master Quan. I accidentally injured some of your brothers today, really.... it’s really my fault, I hope Hall Master Quan can forgive me.”
Quan GuanQing said: “It’s just some misunderstanding, there is no need to take offense. Brother Zhuang, this object on your head, I will never speak about it, later I will inform my subordinates and they will also not speak about it.”
You TanZhi was so grateful that he was nearly in tears, he cupped his hands repeatedly and said: “Many thanks, many thanks.”
Quan GuanQing said: “But Brother Zhuang, if you walk hand in hand with this lady its unavoidable that you will meet some people, they will definitely make a huge fuss and shout it out, even if Brother Zhuang kills all of them it will be too late.”
You TanZhi said: “Yes, yes.” After saving AhZi his mind was wandering, he never considered such matters. After hearing Quan GuanQing’s logical deduction he did not have any idea on what to do, he stammered: “I...I will hide with her in some deserted mountain.”
Quan GuanQing smiled and said: “I am afraid that the lady will be suspicious,
Moreover, if both of you become husband and wife, sooner or later she will know.”
You TanZhi felt his chest heating up, he said: “Become husba... husband and wife, I didn’t think of that, its not possible, how am I... worthy? But.... but.... that is really difficult.”
Quan GuanQing said: “Brother Zhuang, you didn’t abandon me and say that I am your good friend. Since I am your good friend, I will think of an idea for you. Let’s do this, we will travel to the small town ahead and rent a carriage, you and that lady will sit in the carriage, just lower the curtains and no one can see you anymore.”
You TanZhi was very excited, if he was able to sit together with AhZi in a carriage, it was even better than being an immortal, he quickly said: “Correct, correct! Hall Master Quan’s idea is great.”
Quan GuanQing said: “After that we will think of an idea to remove this iron mask from Brother Zhuang, I assure you the lady will never know about this awkward matter. What do you think?”
There was a ‘Pu’ sound, You TanZhi knelt down and kowtowed to Quan GuanQing, his iron-head knocked on the ground and made a ‘Dong Dong’ sound.
Quan GuanQing also knelt down and returned the courtesy, he said: “Brother Zhuang you pay such respect to me, how can I accept it? If Brother Zhuang doesn’t mind why don’t both of us become sworn brothers?”
You TanZhi said happily: “Wonderful, wonderful! I don’t understand anything, if I have such a resourceful elder brother like you to guide me then it couldn’t be much better.”
Quan GuanQing burst into loud laughter and said: “Elder brother is older than you by a few years, I will be blunt and address you as younger brother from now on.”
During the earth shattering battle between Ding ChunQiu and Su XingHe, Duan Yu’s gaze never left Wang YuYan’s body at all. As for Wang YuYan she was always gazing tenderly at her cousin Murong Fu. Both their gazes never met each other.
After Ding ChunQiu suffered a defeat and escaped, XuZhu and the rest of the Carefree Sect members had their own private meeting, Murong Fu and the rest left by themselves, thus Duan Yu involuntarily followed behind Wang YuYan.
As they travelled down the mountain, Murong Fu cupped his hands towards Duan Yu and said: “Brother Duan, it’s fortunate that we get to meet today, we will part now, hope to see you again.”
Duan Yu said: “Yes, yes. Its really a fortunate meeting today, we will part
now, hope to see you again.” But he still kept on staring at Wang YuYan. Murong Fu felt disgruntled, he snorted, turned around and walk away. Duan Yu was reluctant to part and also followed them.
Bao BuTong raised his hands and stepped in front of Duan Yu, he said: “Gentleman Duan, today you save my young master, many thanks.”
Duan Yu said: “No need to be so formal.”
Bao BuTong said: “We already offered out thanks, there is no more gratitude or debt. You keep staring at our Miss Wang, it’s really rude. Now you still want to follow us, it’s extremely rude. You are an educated person, you should understand: ‘Do not look at something contrary to courtesy, do not do something contrary to courtesy’, you understand the meaning? I don’t have any muscular strength on me now but I still have strength to curse people.”
Duan Yu heaved a sigh, he shook his head and said: “Since this is the case then its best that Brother Bao do not say something contrary to courtesy, I will not look at something contrary to courtesy.”
Bao BuTong burst into loud laughter and said: “Now you are correct!” He turned around and followed Murong Fu. Wang YuYan was engrossed in chatting with Murong Fu, she completely ignored Duan Yu.
Duan Yu kept staring at Wang YuYan until her shadow disappeared from the forest; he was still entranced. Zhu DanChen said: “Young master, let us go!”
Duan Yu said: “Yes, its time to leave.” But he still did not move, Zhu DanChen had to urge him three more times before he finally mounted the horse brought by Gu DuCheng. Duan Yu was riding on the horse but his eyes were still looking at the path taken by Wang YuYan.
After handing over the letter to Quan GuanQing, Duan Yu hurried back to report to Duan ZhengChu. As the chess meet was nearing, Duan Yu got permission from his father and Zhu DanChen and the rest of the guards accompanied him to the chess meet. Sure enough, he finally got to meet his sweetheart at the chess meet, but now he was distressed and anxious; he really didn’t know whether meeting her was good or bad.
The group travelled for 20 li. On the main road a dust cloud was gathering as ten riders gallopped over; they were the three ministers of Dali, Hua HeGen, Fan Hua and Ba TianShi, as well as Cui BaiQuan, Guo YanZhi and the rest. The party gallopped near them and they dismounted and saluted Duan Yu. It seems the martial nephew of Cui BaiQuan had obtained some insiders’ information at Funiu Mountain; they knew that Prince ZhenNan was in Henan province and was nursing his injuries nearby at Funiu Mountain, thus they immediately came to visit. It so happened that Hua HeGen and the rest received orders from Duan ZhengChun to protect Duan Yu as he was afraid that Duan Yu might meet some danger at the chess meet, thus everyone met up and followed along. The group heard that Duan YanQing also attended the chess meet, but luckily he did not harm Duan Yu and everyone was relieved.
Zhu DanChen secretly reported to Fan Hua and the other two minister on how Duan Yu met the pretty lady from Gusu Murong family, how he kept staring at her, how he seemed to have lost his soul and tried to follow them; luckily the other party rejected Duan Yu. Fan Hua and the rest looked at each other and smiled, they mused: “Young Prince inherited from his family and is also philandering by nature. If he can forget about his passion towards his own sister, Miss Mu, then it’s a good thing.”
At nightfall, the party had their dinner at an inn. Fan Hua narrated their journey in Jiangnan, he said: “Young master, the Murong family is very secretive, in the future if you meet them you have to be very careful.”
Duan Yu said: “Why?”
Fan Hua said: “The three of us received orders from the Prince, we went to Suzhou’s Basin of Swallows and investigated the house of Murong family. We were looking for hints or clues as to whether Shaolin Master XuanBei was killed by the Murong family.”
Cui BaiQuan and Guo YanZhi were deeply concerned, they asked in unison: “Did the three of you find anything?”
Fan Hua said: “The three of us did not openly seek an audience, we investigated secretly. There is no male or female owner at the Murong house, only a few servants and maids. There are quite a few large manors there, but there is only one young lady called AhBi tending to the housework.”
Duan Yu nodded his head and said: “En, this Miss AhBi is a very good person. You didn’t harm her, correct?”
Fan Hua smiled and said: “We didn’t. We investigated for a few nights, we searched every single corner of Murong family’s manor, we didn’t find anything unusual. Brother Ba suddenly thought of something, that foreign monk Jiumozhi kidnapped Young Master from Dali to Jiangnan, he said he wanted to offer sacrifice at Mr. Murong’s grave...”
Cui BaiQuan interrupted and said: “Ya, that little servant girl at the manor, she refused to lead the foreign monk to the grave, luckily she acted that way and Young Master managed to escape from the evil hands of the monk.”
Duan Yu nodded his head and said: “Azhu and AhBi, the two of them are really good people. I wonder what happen to them? Is AhBi still healthy and well?”
Ba TianShi smiled and said: “For three nights, we hung around outside the window and saw Miss AhBi sewing a man’s robe. Young Master, she is sewing it for you correct?”
Duan Yu quickly said: “No, no. Mostly probably its for her Young Master Murong.”
Ba TianShi said: “Ya, I notice that little servant girl is infatuated and head over heels in love, always thinking about her Young Master Murong, the three of us entered the house and she didn’t notice it at all. She kept mumbling to herself: ‘Its useless, its useless, he won’t care about me the least bit, what’s the point in thinking about him?’” Bai TianShi’s speech was directed at Duan Yu, reminding him not to follow in his father’s footsteps, spreading his love everywhere. Bai TianShi emphasized AhBi’s concern toward her Young Master Murong, thus Duan Yu should not think too much about AhBi.
In reality, although Duan Yu had a good impression of AhBi but it was not passion, Duan Yu sighed: “Correct, AhBi is correct, ‘Its useless, its useless, she won’t care about me the least bit, what’s the point in thinking about her?’” AhBi longed for her Young Master Murong, but Duan Yu misunderstood it and thought AhBi was advising him not to think about Wang YuYan, Duan Yu said: “Gentleman Murong’s elegance is without equal, no wonder! Moreover they are cousins, they are childhood sweethearts who grew up together...”
Fan Hua, Ba TianShi and the rest looked at each other in dismay, they pondered: “It’s possible for the little servant girl and her Young Master to be childhood sweethearts, but how come they are cousins?” They did not expect Duan Yu to mix Wang YuYan into the issue.
Cui BaiQuan asked: “Minister Fan and Minister Ba mentioned that the foreign monk wanted to visit Mr. Murong’s grave, what is the reasoning behind it? How is it related to the death of my martial brother?”
Fan Hua said: “I mentioned this matter so that everyone can analyze it together. When elder brother Hua heard the word ‘grave’, his hands immediately became itchy and said: ‘Maybe there is something strange in that old man’s grave, let us go dig it up and check it out.’ Brother Ba and I did not support his idea, Gusu Murong's family is world famous, our Duan family digging up their grave, it’s really a bit too much. But elder brother Hua said: ‘We will go in secretly by digging an underground tunnel; who will know about it?’ Neither of us could dissuade him and thus we just followed his idea. The grave is located at the rear of the manor, it’s very well hidden and secluded; it is really not easy to find. The three of us dug our way into the grave and we opened the coffin. Brother Cui, guess what we saw?”
Cui BaiQuan and Guo YanZhi stood up at the same time and ask: “What is inside?”
Fan Hua said: “The coffin is empty, there is no corpse.”
Cui BaiQuan and Guo YanZhi opened their mouths widely, they were speechless for quite some time. After a long time, Cui BaiQuan smacked his thigh and said: “Murong Bo did not die. He asked his son to appear in public in the Central Plains, while he is several thousand li away and committing murder; he deliberately complicated the matter. My martial brother.... my martial brother must have been killed by that evil Murong Bo!”
Fan Hua shook his head and said: “Brother Cui you once told me that Murong Bo’s martials arts are immeasurably deep and profound. If he really wants to kill someone he can use other methods, why must he purposely use ‘Returning you with your own move’ and let other people suspect he is from the Murong family? If he really wants the martial arts fraternity to know his power why the need to feign death? If not for elder brother Hua, who else can uncover this secret?”
Cui BaiQuan sat down, he was disappointed; he thought he knew the truth but the matter was still a complete mystery.
Duan Yu said: “There are thousands and tens of thousands of techniques from the various sects and schools, to master and understand the essence of every single skill, it is really the same as flying to heaven, but he somehow had enough intelligence and wisdom, he understood all the martial arts thoroughly...”
Cui BaiQuan said: “Ya, my martial brother’s move, ‘Splitting Heaven Soul Into Thousand’, its a secret move of my Funiu Sect not passed on to outsider, how come he knows it, how did he use this move to kill my martial brother?”
Duan Yu shook his head and said: “Naturally she knows it, but she does not even have the strength to kill a chicken,
even though she knows the martial arts of various sects and schools but she cannot use them. She is kind and virtuous, she will never kill people.”
Everyone looked at each other in dismay, after a while, they slowly shook their heads at the same time.
When AhZi was blinded by Ding ChunQiu, You TanZhi bravely dashed in without concern for his own safety and escaped with her. Ding ChunQiu was slightly distracted, the strength in his fingers slackened a little. Murong Fu made use of the opportunity and immediately executed his ‘Star Shifting Movement’, Ding ChunQiu’s five fingers gripped his own disciple. Murong Fu’s fist was released, he quickly leapt out and laughed heartily and shouted: “I cannot accompany you anymore. Old Freak of Xingxiu, hope to see you again.” He executed his lightness martial art (qinggong); he did not turn his head back and left quickly.
He managed to injure around ten Xingxiu disciples, he had achieved overwhelming victory, he avenged his four henchmen who were poisoned by Xingxiu sect. In the end he was even able to escape, he was really lucky, however his meridians still sustained minor injury. After meeting up with Wang YuYan, Deng BaiChuan and the rest, they stayed in a small inn and recuperated from their injuries.
After a few days, Bao BuTong and Feng BoE regained their strength; Murong Fu, Deng BaiChuan and GongYe Gan also recovered from their injuries. The six of them did not know the whereabouts of AhZhu, they missed her a lot, thus they discussed it and decided to go to Luoyang to find information about her whereabouts. Previously, Bao BuTong, AhZhu and Xiao Feng had a brief encounter, after that Xiao Feng mistakenly injured AhZhu but none of them found out about this matter.
They did not find the slightest bit of information at Luoyang. Murong Fu felt it was not worth his time to spend so much effort on a little servant girl, thus he headed west to find out about the recent developments in the martial arts fraternity. He also thought about gathering more henchmen so as to expand his plans in reviving his dynasty. On this day, the six of them travelled hastily, they missed the place where they could lodge for the night and they kept travelling till dark. However they were still on the mountain path, the road was rugged and the wild grass was getting longer. Feng BoE said: “I am afraid we took the wrong path, most likely we took a wrong turn.”
Deng BaiChuan said: “Let us find a cave or abandoned temple and rest for the night.”
Feng BoE quickly dashed forward to scout for a safe shelter. He surveyed the surroundings; the mountain path was precipitous, the terrain rugged. Feng BoE could lay down anywhere and sleep soundly, but he had to find some place suitable for Wang YuYan and the task was really not easy. He ran for a few li and rounded a hillside, suddenly he saw a light at the right-hand side of a valley. Feng BoE was excited, he turned back and shouted: “There is someone living here.”
Murong Fu and the rest followed his voice and rushed over. GongYe Gan said happily: “It seems to be a hunting family, they definitely should have at least a place for Miss Wang to sleep soundly.” The six of them followed the light and walked quickly. The light was very far away from them, after walking for a while the light was still flickering, they couldn’t see the house clearly. Feng BoE mumbled and cursed: “Damn his grandmother, this light is a little odd.”
Suddenly Deng BaiChuan said in a low voice: “Wait, Young Master look, this is a green lamp.” Murong Fu focused his eyes,
it was indeed emitting a green ray; it was vastly different from common light, which was either dark red or pale yellow. The six of them hastened their footsteps and rushed towards the green light; the light became even more distinct.
Bao BuTong said loudly: “Demonic people are gathering here!”
For the five of them, based on their intelligence and martial arts they were not afraid of any sects or schools, but they immediately thought: “Today we are together with Miss Wang, it is best not to stir up trouble.” Bao BuTong and Feng BoE had not fought for quite some time, now that their internal energy was restored, their hands were itchy and they eager to fight; however they still manage to restrain themselves.
Feng BoE said: “We travelled for an entire day, we are a bit tired, this stinky place is not good, let us just retreat and go back!”
Murong Fu smiled faintly, he thought: “Unexpectedly 4th brother Feng changed his temper, it's really rare.” He said: “Cousin, that place is filthy, let us turn back.” Wang YuYan didn’t understand the underlying reason, but since her cousin said it, she happily complied.
They six of them turned around, they walked a few steps, but suddenly a faint voice emerged from the ground: “Since you know demonic people are gathering here, you people are a bunch of lousy demons and ghosts, why don’t you join in the fun?” The voice was suddenly high-pitched and suddenly low-pitched, it seemed to break yet was continuous; it was extremely uncomfortable when they heard it, but they heard every single word clearly.
Murong Fu snorted, the other party had already overheard Bao BuTong when he said ‘Demonic people are gathering here’. From the way voice transmitted, the internal energy of the person was not shallow, but it was also not first-class
martial arts. Murong Fu waved his left hand and said: “No time to tangle with him just ignore him!” He retraced the route that they took to get here.
The voice said: “Little bastard, you dare to spout nonsense! You think you can simply wag your tail and run away!? If you really want to run away you still have to kowtow 300 times before your ancestor before leaving.”
Feng BoE could not restrain himself anymore, he halted and said in a low voice: “Young Master, let me go teach that wild person a lesson.”
Murong Fu shook his head and said: “They don’t know who we are, just ignore them!”
Feng BoE said: “Yes!”
The six of them walked another ten steps, the voice said again: “It doesn’t matter if the male wants to run away, but this young chick has to stay and accompany your ancestor and relieve my boredom.”
Unexpectedly the person dared to humiliate Wang YuYan; their countenance changed, they stopped moving and turned around.
The voice said again: “Why? Obediently offer that chick to avoid your ancestor...” As he said the word ‘ancestor’, Deng BaiChuan gathered his energy into his dantian and shouted: “Ancestor!” Both their voices intermixed and shook the valley. Everyone felt their eardrums humming, but they heard a miserable cry, it came from around the green light. The night was quiet, Deng BaiChuan’s voice still lingered and did not disappear and intermixed with the miserable cry, everyone felt absolutely horrified.
This shout from Deng BaiChuan used high-level internal energy to injure the other party. From the person’s miserable cry, the injury was not minor; maybe he was about to die. The miserable cry stopped, but they heard a ‘Chi’ sound, a green fire rocket flew to the sky and exploded, half the sky turned dark green.
Feng BoE said: “Since we started it, we must carry it through, let us wipe out the nest of demons and ghosts!”
Murong Fu nodded his head and said: “Originally we wanted to maintain peace by yielding to them. But since we started it, let us just finish it till the end.” The six of them rushed towards the green light.
Murong Fu was worried that Wang YuYan might be at a disadvantage, he slowed down and stayed beside her. He heard Bao BuTong and Feng BoE shouting and cursing, both of them started fighting with the other party. Immediately after, under the glimmer of the green light, three shadows flew up, ‘Pai Pai Pai’ three sounds, and the shadow smashed against the mountain wall; apparently they had been finished off by Bao BuTong and Feng BoE.
Murong Fu rushed towards the green light, he saw Deng BaiChuan and GongYe Gan standing beside a huge bronze cauldron, their expression solemn. An elderly man was lying beside the bronze cauldron, smoke was rising from the cauldron; the smoke was fine like a line but straight like an arrow. Wang YuYan said: “Its Western Sichuan Jade Rock Cave, the sect of Mulberry Soil Elder.”
Deng BaiChuan nodded his head and said: “Miss you are indeed extremely knowledgeable.”
Bao BuTong turned around and said: “How do you know? This burning of fire to transmit information, it existed several thousand years ago, it might not be Western Sichuan Jade Rock Cave....” He did not finish as GongYe Gan pointed at the base of the bronze cauldron, hinting for him to look closer.
Bao BuTong bent his waist and looked. The legs of the cauldron were emblazoned with the word ‘Mulberry’; the word was formed by the shape of a few snakes and centipedes. The bronze was brightly colored; it seemed to be an ancient artifact. Bao BuTong knew that Wang YuYan was correct, but he still wanted to debate: “Even if this bronze cauldron is from Mulberry Soil Elder and his sect, how do you know they didn’t borrow it or steal it? Moreover there is a common saying: ‘False cauldron, counterfeit and fake’, nine out of ten cauldrons are fake.”
Murong Fu and the rest thought: “This place is very far from Western Sichuan, don’t tell me this is the territory of Mulberry Soil Elder and his sect?” They knew that Western Sichuan Jade Rock Cave Mulberry Soil Elder and his sect were mostly Miao and Qiang ethnic people, their conduct was different from martial artists of the Central Plains; they were experts at poison and everyone was rather afraid of them. Luckily they were detached from worldly affairs, as long as one did not intrude upon the borders of Sichuan they would not rashly offend people. Murong Fu, Deng BaiChuan and the rest were not afraid of the Mulberry Soil Elder, they just find that it was boring to feud with demonic and poisonous freaks, moreover it was very troublesome to tangle with them.
Murong Fu muttered softly to himself: “This is a wrong place to be in, its best to leave as soon as possible.” The elderly man lying beside cauldron was breathing faintly but his eyes were staring angrily at them. This man was the person who taunted them. Murong Fu nodded his head towards Bao BuTong, the corner of his mouth signaling at the elderly man. Bao BuTong understood his intentions, he grabbed the bamboo pole with the green lamp, he flipped the pole, with a ‘Pu’ sound he thrust the pole and lamp into the chest of the old man; the green light die out immediately. Wang YuYan cried out in alarm.
GongYe Gan said: “The nobleman does not care about trivial matter, a great man has to be ruthless! This is called silencing a person to avoid future disaster.” His right foot flew out and toppled the cauldron with a kick. Murong Fu held onto Wang YuYan’s hand, he dashed to the left.
They ran around 10 zhang, suddenly there were two ‘Chi Chi’ sounds, a golden blade split the air, a knife and a sword came out from the bushes and chopped towards them. Murong Fu waved his sleeves, he borrowed and redirected the force: the knife held by the person on the left chopped towards the head of the person on the right, the sword held by the person on the right pierced the heart of the person on the left. In a split second Murong Fu finished off the two people who made the sneak attack, his footsteps did not slow down the slightest bit. GongYe Gan praised: “Young master, excellent skill!”
Murong Fu smiled and continued travelling, he waved his right palm and hit an enemy head-on and sent him rolling down the hill. He struck out with his left palm, the enemy on his left cried out loudly and spurted fresh blood. Murong Fu suddenly detected a fishy smell, immediately after, a fierce wind assaulted him. Murong Fu quickly generated his palm wind and reflected two unknown hidden projectiles, he heard an ‘Ah’ cry, his enemies had been hit by their own vicious hidden projectiles.
They were heavily surrounded in the darkness, they didn’t know the number of enemies and they simply killed a few people. When they had killed the sixth person, Murong Fu was secretly fearful, he thought: “The first three people are most likely from Western Sichuan’s Mulberry Soil Elder’s Sect, but afterwards the other three people came from three different sects. We are making more and more enemies, this is really not good.”
He heard Deng BaiChuan shout: “Everyone rush towards the ‘Listening Perfume Pavilion’!” The ‘Listening Perfume Pavilion’ is a manor at Gusu Murong’s Basin of Swallows, it is located at the west and is the residence of Azhu. Deng BaiChuan asking them to rush towards the ‘Listening Perfume Pavilion’, it was the same as asking them to retreat west. He coded the message to avoid letting the enemy know about their movement.
When Murong Fu listened to his words he immediately understood the meaning, but the surroundings were pitch-black and there was no light from the moon and stars, it was difficult to determine direction. He focused his attention, he heard Deng BaiChuan’s heavy palm wind ringing twice behind him to the right-hand side, immediately he held onto Wang YuYan’s hand and retreated three steps and leaned against Deng BaiChuan. He heard another two ‘Pa Pa’ sounds, Deng BaiChuan clashed palm twice with the enemy again. From the sound generated by the clashing of palms, the enemy was an expert. Immediately afterward, Deng BaiChuan exhaled and shouted ‘Hei’. Murong Fu knew Deng BaiChuan was using the move ‘Earth Shattering Shock’; the enemy would not be able to resist it. Sure enough, the person cried out in surprise, their voice sharp, but the cry seemed to be sinking downwards underground. Immediately afterward stones rolled around and branches snapped. Murong Fu was slightly alarmed: “This person tripped and fell into deep ravine. Luckily elder brother Deng hit the person into the ravine, otherwise if we stepped into empty air in this darkness it would be disastrous.”
At this moment, a voice floated down from a high slope to the left: “Which experts came to disturb the Assembly of Ten Thousand Immortals? You really don’t respect the Cave-Lords of 36 Caves and Island-Lords of 72 Islands?”
Murong Fu and the rest gasped softly. They know about ‘Cave-Lords of 36 Caves and Island Lords of 72 Islands’, but all these ‘Cave-Lords’ and ‘Island-Lords’ were just some heretical groups that didn’t belong to any sect or school. Some of their martial arts were high, some were low, some were good while some were evil, they kept to themselves and did whatever they pleased. They didn’t communicate with each other and thus they couldn’t do anything great; nobody thought they were important. Some of them were scattered around the Eastern Sea, some at islands around the Yellow Sea, some at Kunlun and living in seclusion in deep mountains in Qilian; they laid low and did not have any accomplishments, nobody paid any attention to them; unexpectedly they had gathered at this place.
Murong Fu said brightly: “There are six of us here, we are friends, we are travelling at night and unaware of people gathering here, thus we accidentally offended you, we offer our apologies. In this darkness it is easy to have misunderstandings; let us just dismiss it with a laugh. Please grant us passage.” His words were neither haughty nor humble; he did not reveal his origin. As for the killings, he also offered his apologies.
Suddenly, ‘Haha’, ‘Hehe’, ‘Heng heng’, laughter surrounded them in all directions, more and more people joined in the laughter. Initially only ten people laughed, but eventually more people joined in and there were around 500-600 people laughing, some are nearby while some were a few li away.
Murong Feng listened to their laughter, they had vast numbers. They also mentioned about the ‘Assembly of Ten Thousand Immortals’. He considered: “We are really unlucky tonight, we accidentally gate-crashed their gathering. I have yet to reveal my name, it’s best to walk away quickly so as to avoid irreparable damage. Moreover we are heavily outnumbered; how can the six of us handle several hundreds of them?”
Amidst the laughter, the person on the slope said: “You paint the picture in light shades, you dismiss the matter too easily. The six of you injured quite a few of our brothers, if we simply let you walk away, then what about the reputation of ’36 Caves and 72 Islands’?”
Murong Fu calmed down and looked around, to his front and rear, left and right, the hillside, the mountain peak, the mountain cavity, the mountain ridge, there were shadows of people everywhere, in the darkness he could not see their appearance clearly. Originally he didn’t know where they were, but they seemed to suddenly emerge out from underground. At this moment the four of them-Deng BaiChuan, GongYe Gan, Bao BuTong, Feng BoE-gathered beside Murong Fu and Wang YuYan and guarded them, but they were surrounded by several hundred people. They were nothing more than a small boat in the vast sea.
Murong Fu, Deng BaiChuan and the rest, they had encountered countless great battles and fights, but after seeing such a situation they could not help but be scared, they considered: “These people are very weird, 8 or 10 of them are not a problem, but several hundreds of them gathering together is really not easy to deal with.”
Murong Fu gathered his energy into his dantian, he said brightly: “There is a common saying: ‘The one who does not know is not guilty’. Cave-Lords of 36 Caves, Island-Lords of 72 Islands, I have heard of your great reputation, I definitely don’t dare to offend you deliberately. Western Sichuan Jade Rock Cave Mulberry Soil Elder, Gansu Young Dragon Cave Xuan HuangZi, Eastern Sea Mysterious Dark Island Island-Lord Mr. Zhang DaRen, I presume that you all are here. I am Murong Fu and I wish to make friends with you; it is not my intention to offend you.”
The surrounding crowd of people gasped in surprise, obviously they were shaken by the name ‘Murong Fu’. The voice replied: “Are you the Murong Fu who specializes in ‘Returning you with your own move’?”
Murong Fu said: “I don’t deserve it, yes it’s my insignificant self.”
The person said: “Gusu Murong family is not insignificant. Light the lamp! Everyone let us meet him!”
When he finished speaking, a yellow lamp suddenly rose up in the southeast corner, immediately after a red lamp rose up at the west and northwest corners. In a split second, light rise up in all directions, some were lanterns, some were torches, some were Kongming lanterns, some were firewood. The light brought by the various Cave-Lords and Island-Lords were different, some were simple, some were intricate. Originally nobody knew their hiding place, but now light shone upon everyone’s face, it was truly a strange sight.
There were male, female, handsome people, ugly people, monks, priests, some wore long sleeves, some wore short sleeves, some were old man with long beards, some were women with their hair rolled up. Their clothing came in all shape and sizes, different from those from the Central Plains. A lot of them were carrying weapons, but their weapons were shaped oddly, it was difficult to identify them. Murong Fu clasped his hands and greeted in four directions, he said brightly: “Welcome, Gusu Murong Fu greets you.” Some of the crowd returned his greetings, some ignored him.
A person to the west said: “Murong Fu, your Gusu Murong family likes to show off its prestige in the Central Plains, so be it. But you come to this Assembly of Ten Thousand Immortals and run amuck without restraint, you really don’t respect us at all? You claim to specialize in ‘Returning you with your own move’, then let me ask you, how are you going to return my move?”
Murong Fu looked towards the voice, a big-head old man was sitting cross-legged on a rock to the west, his big head bald and shiny, with not a single strand of hair at all; his face was filled with blood, when gazing from afar he looked just like a big red ball. Murong Fu cupped his fist and said: “Welcome! May I ask your great name?”
The person hold onto his belly and laughed, he said: “Old man is testing you, I want to see if the Murong family is genuine talent or just someone with false reputation. I ask you a question just now: How are you going to return my move. As long as you answer it correctly, I don’t care how others react, but old man will never trouble you again. Wherever you like to go, you can simply go!”
Murong Fu considered the current situation, he knew he cannot resolve the matter by talking out of it, he must display a few of his moves, he said: “Since this is the case, I will trade a few moves, senior please make you move!”
The person rolled on the floor and laughed, he said: “I am the one testing you, I am not asking you to test me. If you cannot answer, then quickly take back your ‘Returning you with your own move’ reputation!”
Murong Fu knit his brows, he considered: “You just sit there motionless, I don’t know your sect, I don’t know your name, how would I know your most proficient move? How can I return it when I don’t know your move?”
As he was muttering and thinking, the big-headed old man sneered: “My friends from 36 Caves and 72 Islands are scattered all over the world, they don’t interfere with affairs in the Central Plains. There is a fierce tiger hidden in the mountain but the little monkey dares claim to be king. You are a boy still wet behind the ears, unexpectedly you go so far as to be some ‘Northern Qiao Feng, Southern Murong’, hehe! Laughable, laughable, shameless, shameless! Let me tell you, it’s not difficult for you to escape today, you just have to kowtow ten times to every single Cave-Lord and Island-Lord from 36 Caves and 72 Islands, a total of
1080; kowtow and we will let you baby dolls walk away.”
Bao BuTong suppressed his anger for a long time, he could no long hold it in, he shouted loudly: “You invite my Young Master to return you with your own move and then ask him to kowtow. Your consummate skill, my Young Master can’t learn it, hey hey, laughable, laughable, shameless, shameless!” Unexpectedly, he copied the big-headed old man’s speech pattern and tone perfectly.
The big-headed old man coughed and spit a mouthful of phlegm; it flew towards Bao BuTong’s face. Bao BuTong leaned his body to avoid it, the phlegm flew past his left ear. Suddenly it turned around in midair and shot towards Bao BuTong’s forehead. The force in this phlegm was not light, Bao BuTong hastily sidestepped. He realized that the phlegm was targeting his ‘Yangbai acupoint’ between his eyebrows.
Murong Fu was shocked: “It’s not strange that this old man’s phlegm contained internal energy and targeted acupoints. The strange thing is that after firing the phlegm, unexpectedly it can turn around in midair.”
The big-headed old man chuckled: “Murong Fu, old man don’t want you to ‘return me with my own move’. If you can tell me the origin of this phlegm then old man will be convinced of your ability.”
Murong Fu contemplated quickly, ideas flew at lightning speed, but he simply couldn’t recall it. Suddenly he heard Wang YuYan’s gentle and soft voice: “Island-Lord DuanMu, you completely mastered this ‘Going and Coming, Five Rice Divine Skill’, it’s really not easy. But you must have killed quite a few living things in the process. My Young Master knows that its not easy to train, thus he is unwilling to reveal the origin in order to avoid incurring the jealousy of your friends. Don’t tell me my Young Master will use this skill to deal with you?”
Murong Fu was shocked yet happy, He had never heard of this ‘Five Rice Divine Skill’ before, unexpectedly his cousin was aware of it; but he don’t know if it was correct or wrong.
Originally, the old man had a blood-red face, but in an instant his face lost all its color, however it turned back to red again immediately, he laughed and said: “Baby doll talking rubbish, how can you understand it? ‘Five Rice Divine Skill’ harms other for one’s personal benefit, it is vicious and dangerous, why would I even train it? But unexpectedly you know of old man’s name, this is really not easy.”
Wang YuYan heard his reply. She knew she had guessed correctly, he merely refused to admit it. She said: “Hainan Island Five Finger Mountain Scarlet Flame Cave Cave-Lord DuanMu, in the martial arts fraternity who don’t know about you? Cave-Lord DuanMu, if that skill is not ‘Five Rice Divine Skill’, then it must be some other wonderful skill derived from ‘Ground Fire Skill’.”
The ‘Ground Fire Skill’ is the elementary skill of Scarlet Flame Cave. The sect leader of Scarlet Flame Cave had always been surnamed DuanMu, this big-headed old man was called DuanMu Yuan. When he heard Wang YuYan reveal his personal history and she glossed over the ‘Five Rice Divine Skill’, he had a favorable impression of her. Moreover his Scarlet Flame Cave was just some small obscure sect, but unexpectedly she claimed ‘who don’t know about you’, he was even happier. He smiled and said: “Correct, correct, this is just some insignificant skill derived from ‘Ground Fire Skill’. Old man said in advance, since young lady identified my origin then I will not trouble you anymore.”
Suddenly someone shouted from afar: “Gusu Murong, your reputation is really well deserved!”
Murong Fu raised his hands and said: “A novice is making a fool of himself before experts, I don’t deserve your praise!” At this moment, a ray of golden light and silver light shot out from the ground on the left-hand side; the sound was sharp and pure as it split the air. Murong Fu dared not be negligent, he generated a blast of wind with his sleeves and clashed with it. There was a loud crashing sound, the ray of golden light and silver light rolled back and retreated. Murong Fu finally saw it clearly, it was two long belts, one of them was gold in color, the other was silver in color.
Two old men were standing at the end of the belt, the one wielding the golden belt was wearing a silver robe, the one wielding the silver belt was wearing a golden robe. The gold and silver sparkled brilliantly, it was extremely gorgeous, ordinary people definitely don’t wear these gold and silver robes, they must be some stage actors. The old man wearing the silver robe said: “Admirable, admirable, receive another move from us brothers!” Golden light flickered, the golden belt arrived from the left, however the silver belt flew towards the sky and then dropped down, directly attacking the top of Murong Fu’s head.
Murong Fu said: “Both seniors....” He had only managed to say these words. Suddenly there was the sound of rushing wind, three sabers swept up from the ground. Three men used their ground-fighting skill and they attacked Murong Fu’s lower body.
Murong Fu’s top, front, left, he was being attacked in all three directions simultaneously. He considered: “My opponent call themselves Cave-Lords of 36 Caves, Islands-masters of 72 Islands, they have many men, if they carry on tangling with me and I don’t show them my power, I wonder when will this end?” He saw three sabers sweeping towards him, immediately he kicked three times, every kick landed on his opponent’s wrist, white light flickered and the three sabers flew up into the air. Murong Fu slanted his body to the side, his right hand brushed horizontally and he executed his ‘Star Shifting Movement’ skill and prodded the golden belt; there was a ‘Pa’ sound, the golden belt and silver belt coiled together.
The three men who displayed their ground-fighting saber skills lost their sabers, they did not retreat, they shouted ‘Hehe’, they opened their arms and hugged Murong Fu’s leg. Murong Fu’s foot flew up, he moved like the wind and kicked the three men’s chest acupoints in quick succession. Suddenly, a black-robed man with long arms and long legs jumped forward, he spread out his fan-like hand and smacked towards Murong Fu. Murong Fu saw the move was steady and ruthless, obviously this man’s martial arts were much stronger than the others, he reckoned: “This man must be the chief of the group, I must subdue him first to make it easier to negotiate.”
Murong Fu leapt up, he vaulted over the three men who were sprawling on the ground, he struckk out his right palm, directly attacking the black-robed man. The black-robed man sneered, he raised a blade horizontally and blocked in front of his chest; a green light sparkled in front of him, it was an exceptionally sharp serrated-saber, the edge of the blade was facing outward. If Murong Fu really landed his palm, he would be severing his own wrist. Murong Fu did not withdraw his palm move. When his palm was two inches away from the blade, he suddenly changed his slapping move to a sweeping move, his palm followed along the edge of the blade and swiped downward, he scraped the black-robed man’s fingers.
The edge of his palm was filled with internal energy, its sharpness was no less than the serrated-saber, the force in it was sufficient to slice off fingers or break an arm. The black-robed man was caught off-guard, he cried out in surprise and hastily released the saber. He flipped his palm and met it head-on; there was a ‘Pa’ sound, the two men clashed palms. The black-robed man cried out in surprise again, his body swayed and he leapt one zhang backward. Murong Fu turned his palm and grabbed the serrated-saber; a burst of fishy smell assaulted his nose, he nearly vomited. He knew the blade was smeared with deadly poison; it was extremely sinister and demonic.
Although he seized his opponent’s weapon in a single move, he saw 7-8 people raising their weapons, they blocked in front of the black-robed man and protected him. When he clashed palms with the black-robed man, although the man’s internal energy was inferior to his own, it was also quite strange. As for the seizing of his weapon the man was merely caught off-guard, if they really fought for real he would not be able to secure victory in just a few moves.
Under such circumstances, he could only show off his skills to display his might and then request to walk away freely. He shouted, brandished the serrated-saber and rushed towards the crowd of people. Everyone shouted:
“Everyone be careful! This person is wielding the ‘Verdant Wave Fragrant Dew Saber’, don’t let him cut you.”
“Aiyo, Wu LaoDa’s ‘Verdant Wave Fragrant Dew Saber’ got taken away by this young fellow, this is terrible!”
Murong Fu waved the saber and moved forward, the monks, priests, ugly men, pretty women, all of them scattered and ran, their expressions extremely fearful. Murong Fu presumed this serrated-saber must have some great history, but it was simply too smelly. It was known as ‘Fragrant Dew Saber’ which was ridiculous, he considered: “If I wield this poison-saber, it’s not difficult to kill 8 or 10 Cave-Lords or Island-Lords, but I have no animosity or hatred with them, why the need to take their lives?” Although he brandished and waved the saber around, he never injured anyone, he pushed down one person and kick down two.
Initially, everyone was extremely frightened, but they saw the power of the saber was not formidable, they calmed down. In a split second, long sword and short halberd, soft whip and hard tablet, everyone attacked from all four sides. Around ten people surrounded Murong Fu at the boundary, outside the boundary 300-400 people encircled layer upon layer.
After fighting for a short period of time, Murong Fu pondered: “When will it ever end if I carry on fighting like this? It seems I must start killing people.” His saber move was very tight, there were two ‘Peng Peng’ sounds, he used the saber’s shaft to knock two people unconscious.
Suddenly Deng BaiChuan shouted: “Shameless pervert, don’t you dare alarm the lady!” Murong Fu shot a glance, he saw two people leaping up and attacking Wang YuYan, who was on top of a pine tree. Deng BaiChuan flew forward to rescue her, he waved his palm to
intercept them. Murong Fu was somewhat relaxed, but another three people leapt at the pine tree, at once he understood their intentions: “They cannot beat me, thus they want to capture my cousin and coerce me, it’s really shameless to the extreme.” But he was surrounded by an entire group of people, he could not get away. He saw two women grabbing Wang YuYan’s arm and jumping down from the tree. A long-haired Toutuo (an ethnicity?) with a golden ring on his head stuck out his Buddhist monk’s knife and placed it horizontally across Wang YuYan’s neck. He shouted: “Murong chap, if you don’t surrender, I will chop your good friend!”
Murong Fu was stunned, he pondered: “These people are incomparably vicious, they will really injure my cousin, what should I do? My Murong family move around unhindered in the martial arts fraternity, how can we surrender? If we surrender, then how can we conduct ourselves with dignity in the future?” He hesitated, but his hands did not slow down the slightest bit, he smacked out his left palm twice, two people got hit and flew out a zhang.
The Toutuo shouted again: “You really won’t surrender, I will slice off this precious and pretty head off!” His Buddhist monk’s knife swayed, the cutting edge of the knife glinted with green light.
- End of Chapter 33 -