Sword Stained with Royal Blood Chapter 3 - part 2


sword stained with royal blood chapter 3b

Sword Stained With Royal Blood English Translation 

Novel by Jin Yong

Chapter 3 - Part 2

"Chengzhi, deal with it!" Musang ordered. Yuan Chengzhi knew that his master was testing his martial arts skills, so he agreed and used his palms to lightly jump in front of the giant ape. The giant ape tried to run away, but Yuan Chengzhi used a heavy hand to hit it on the back, causing it to howl in pain and turn around to grab him. Yuan Chengzhi jumped away, but suddenly felt a gust of wind behind him, as if someone was attacking him from behind. He didn't have time to turn around, so he kicked the ground with his left foot and jumped into the air. He saw that it was another giant ape attacking him.

After years of practicing martial arts on the mountain, he had only practiced with his master and had never fought seriously with anyone else. Although the two giant apes were fierce, he was not afraid and used his " Tiger Subduing Palm" technique to fight them. The strength 
of his palm strikes at this moment was beyond comparison to when he on the Shengfeng Rdige years ago. 

Amidst the shouting, Mu Renqing also rushed out to see Yuan Chengzhi wrestling with two beasts. Everywhere his palm landed, the beasts cried out in pain, and Mu Renqing couldn't help but feel delighted, thinking to himself, "This child has not let me down."

The two beasts had suffered enough and dared not approach any closer, only darting around and waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Mu Renqing saw that Chengzhi's palm techniques were enough to control the two beasts, and he wanted to see his swordsmanship. So he ran over and took out his long sword, shouting, "Catch the sword!" and threw it into the air.

Chengzhi jumped up, his right hand snatching the hilt of the sword. With the sword in hand, he was like a tiger with wings added. Before he even landed, he used the "Thread the Needle" move and stabbed at one of the giant apes' shoulders. The giant ape quickly retreated.

Chengzhi then used his long sword to wrap up both giant apes in its light. Musang said, "Chengzhi, don't kill them." Chengzhi promised, and although he wielded his sword tighter, he didn't strike a fatal blow. Every strike was just a shallow wound.

The two giant apes were quite intelligent. At first, they wanted to flee for their lives, but they saw that as soon as they moved, the sword would follow. As long as they stopped, Chengzhi would stop too, showing that he didn't intend to kill them. Suddenly, they both cried out and crouched on the ground, holding their heads. They no longer attacked, their four eyes rolling as they looked at Yuan Chengzhi with a pleading expression.

Mute man was happy to see Yuan Chengzhi subduing the two giant apes. He ran over and took out a bundle of hemp rope, tying up the two giant apes. At first, the giant apess still growled and roared, but when mute man tightened the rope, their muscles and bones were in agony, and they dared not resist anymore. They could only whimper and grumble incessantly.

Musang and Mu Renqing's martial arts had improved greatly recently, which encouraged Yuan Chengzhi. He was very happy and applied some golden wound medicine to his wounds on both arms. He also collected some fruits and chestnuts for the two giant ape he was raising.

After being taken care of for seven or eight days, the wild nature of the ape gradually disappeared, and they became difficult to feed. However, after removing their ropes, they surprisingly did not run away. Yuan Chengzhi was overjoyed and named the male ox "Da Wei" and the female ox "Xiao Guai". Mu Renqing and Musang could not help laughing when they saw the furry and huge female ox being given such small and delicate names.

As they were raised, Da Wei and Xiao Guai became more and more tame. They immediately followed Yuan Chengzhi's commands. One day, the two giant ape climbed the western cliff to pick fruits. One side of the cliff was steep but climbable, while the other side was like a flat wall with no handholds. Xiao Guai suddenly lost her footing and fell from the tree, sliding down the steep side of the cliff. The cliff was more than forty zhang high, and falling would mean certain death. Da Wei was scared out of his wits and rushed to the cliff. When he arrived and looked down, he saw that Xiao Guai had luckily not fallen. Her two long arms were clinging to a hole in the cliff. This cave had been sealed by mud for many years, but when Xiao Guai fell and scrambled on the cliff, she accidentally broke the seal and hooked her fingers on the cave. However, her body was hanging in mid-air, unable to go up or down and in a very difficult position.

Da Wei was helpless, so he rushed down the mountain to ask for help. Yuan Chengzhi was practicing swordsmanship when he saw Da Wei covered in darts, with blood stains all over his body, looking panicked and jumping around and making anxious noises. He knew that something must have happened to Xiao Guai. He quickly signaled the mute man and went out with Da Wei. Da Wei pointed to the steep cliff and kept jumping and shouting. When Yuan Chengzhi and the mute man ran over, they saw Xiao Guai hanging in mid-air.

Yuan Chengzhi went back to the stone house and took a few long ropes. Together with the mute man and Da Wei, they climbed the cliff from the slope and connected the three ropes together to hang them down. Xiao Guai was exhausted by this time and desperately held onto the rope with her hands and feet. The mute man and Da Wei pulled with all their strength and pulled her up.

Xiao Guai had been scratched in several places by the rocks, but her injuries were not serious. She kept making anxious noises and extended her right palm in front of Yuan Chengzhi. When he looked, he saw two strange dark weapons nailed to her palm, shaped like small snakes. When he tried to pull them out, he couldn't because they had barbs on them, causing Xiao Guai to jump around in pain.

Yuan Chengzhi was shocked and thought, "Did an enemy come?" He quickly gestured and asked Xiao Guai who had thrown the weapons. Xiao Guai gestured and indicated that she had been stabbed by them when she reached into the cave.

uan Chengzhi was puzzled. He thought to himself, "This cave on the cliff is invisible, and it is far from both the mountaintop and the ground. How could there be hidden weapons inside?" After thinking for a while, he couldn't figure it out and went to see his master and Musang Taoist.

After he explained the situation and showed them the hidden weapon on Xiao Guai's palm, both his master and Musang were amazed. Musang said, "I've always loved to use hidden weapons and have seen various types in the martial world, but this snake-shaped small dart is the first time I've seen it. Old Mu, it's really got me stumped." Mu Renqing was also secretly surprised and said, "Take it out and examine it."

Musang returned to his room, took out a sharp knife from his medicine bag, cut open XIao Guai's palm muscles, and dug out the two hidden weapons. XIao Guai knew it was being treated for its injuries and did not resist. Musang applied medicine to it and wrapped the wound with a cloth. After this great ordeal, XIao Guai was exhausted. Da Wei scratched it and caught lice for it, trying hard to please and comfort it.

The two hidden weapons were about two inches and eight points long, in the shape of a snake with its head raised and tongue sticking out. The tip of the snake's tongue was split into two forks, each with a spike. The snake body was dark and covered with moss and filth. Musang picked it up and carefully examined it, using a small knife to remove the dirt from all parts of the snake's body. The snake-shaped dart gradually shone and sparkled, it was actually made of gold. Musang said, "No wonder such a small hidden weapon is so heavy, it's actually made of gold. The person who uses this hidden weapon is so generous, every time they use it, it's worth a lot of gold."

Mu Renqing suddenly slapped his leg and said, "This is the Golden Snake Lord's." Musang said, "The Golden Snake Lord? Are you talking about Xia Xueyi? I heard that he has been dead for more than ten years!" Just as he finished speaking, he suddenly shouted, "Yes, it's him." Using the small knife to scrape off the dirt, the word "Xue" appeared on the belly of the snake dart. The other snake dart also had this word engraved on it.

Chengzhi asked, "Master, who is the Golden Snake Lord?" Mu Renqing said, "Let's talk about this later. Taoist friend, how could his hidden weapons be hidden in this cave?" Musang was lost in thought and remained silent, staring blankly.

Seeing the solemn expression on his master and Musang's faces, Chengzhi dared not ask any more questions. After dinner, Mu Renqing and Musang talked by candlelight and said many things that Chengzhi did not understand. They talked about revenge and retribution.

Musang suddenly asked, "So you're saying that the Golden Snake Lord came here to avoid revenge?" Mu Renqing replied, "With his martial arts and intelligence, he wouldn't need to flee all the way from Jiangnan to hide in these barren mountains." Musang asked, "So is this person not dead yet?" Mu Renqing said, "This person has always acted mysteriously. We've heard his name in the martial arts world for years, but we've never seen his face. It's said that he's already dead, but no one knows how he died." Musang sighed, "This person's behavior is really strange. Sometimes he's extremely evil, sometimes he's chivalrous and righteous. It's hard to tell whether he's good or bad. I've tried to find him several times, but couldn't." Mu Renqing said, "Let's not guess randomly. Let's go to the cave tomorrow and see for ourselves."

The next morning, Mu Renqing, Musang, Chengzhi, and mute man brought ropes and weapons and climbed to the top of the steep cliff. Musang said, "I'll go down." Mu Renqing nodded and said, "Be careful." He tied the rope around Musang's waist, and mute man and Chengzhi held on tightly and slowly lowered him down.

Musang held a sharp steel chessboard in one hand and three chess pieces in the other as he slid down to the cave entrance. Looking down, he saw mist swirling around his feet, disappearing into the wind. Even though his lightness kung fu was superb, and the steep cliffs were like flat ground to him, he couldn't help but feel a little nervous. He turned his head to look into the cave, but it was too dark to see clearly. He felt that the cave was very deep. The cave entrance was very small, and a person couldn't fit inside. So he wrapped his hand in cloth, gently reached into the cave, touched several sharp objects inserted into the entrance, and found that they were the Golden Snake Darts. He gently pulled out fourteen of them and couldn't find any more when he reached in again, up to the point where his cheek was against the entrance. He shouted, "Pull me up!"

Mu Renqing slowly searched and pulled him up. When they were more than two zhang away from the top of the cliff, Musang used his right foot to push against the cliff and jumped up. He held a handful of Golden Snake Darts in the chessboard and laughed, "Old Mu, we've struck it rich. So much gold!"

Mu Renqing's face was heavy with concern. With furrowed brows, he said, "I wonder what this strange person means by leaving these things here. What else is in the cave? Let me go down and take a look." Musang replied, "You won't fit, the cave entrance is too small." Mu Renqing had a lot on his mind and remained silent, looking down.

Suddenly, Chengzhi spoke up and asked, "Master, can I go down there?" Musang happily replied, "You might be able to, but it's quite high. Are you sure you want to go?" Chengzhi replied, "I'm sure, Master. Can I go down there?"

Mu Renqing thought to himself, "This eccentric person from the Jianghu must have left his protective treasures here for a reason. It's right beside my dwelling, I must investigate and find out what's going on. But I'm afraid there might be dangers inside the cave. It's worrying to send this child alone." He said, "I'm afraid there might be dangers inside the cave." Chengzhi quickly replied, "Master, I'll be careful."

Seeing his excitement and eagerness, Mu Renqing nodded and said, "Alright, light a torch and stick it into the cave. If the flame goes out, do not go in." Chengzhi agreed and held a sword in his right hand and a torch in his left, descending down the rope. He followed his master's instructions and used the torch to probe the cave. Xiao Guai had broken through the mud seal outside the cave, and the strong wind blowing from the mountaintop had already blown away the foul air inside the cave overnight, so the torch did not extinguish.

Slowly, Chengzhi crawled into the cave and saw a narrow natural tunnel. In fact, it was a crack inside the mountain. After climbing for more than ten zhang, the tunnel gradually became higher, and after advancing for more than a zhang, he could stand up straight. He straightened his waist and walked forward. Suddenly, the tunnel turned a corner, and he became cautious. With his long sword held in front of him, he walked for two or three zhang before the tunnel suddenly opened up. A cavern appeared, like a stone chamber.

When he raised the torch to illuminate it, he was immediately taken aback. He saw a skeleton leaning against the opposite wall, with its clothing already rotten to the point where only seventy to eighty percent of it remained. The bones of the skeleton were still recognizable as human.

Upon seeing this scene, his heart started beating rapidly. Since there were no other terrifying things in the stone room, he carefully illuminated the area with his torch. In front of the skeleton lay a dozen or so golden snake darts, and on the stone walls were hundreds of crudely carved figures of people, each one unique and practicing martial arts movements. He examined them one by one, but the intricate layers of figures left him perplexed as to their significance.

At the end of the wall of figures, several lines of words appeared, also carved with a sharp tool. Upon closer inspection, he read the sixteen characters: "Precious secrets, bestowed upon the worthy. Enter my door and do not blame misfortune." The characters were crooked and shallow, indicating that the carver lacked strength. Beside these sixteen characters, a sword handle protruded from the wall, as if a sword had been thrust into the stone until only the handle remained.

Curiosity overtook him, and he grasped the handle and pulled outward. It loosened slightly, 
but he dared not pull any further. Just as he was about to examine the area further, he heard a faint calling from the entrance of the cave. He quickly rushed out, turned a corner, and found himself in a passageway where he heard Musang calling his name. He answered loudly and crawled out.

It turned out that Musang and Mu Renqing had been waiting on the mountaintop, watching the rope stretch longer and longer, and became anxious when they did not see anyone emerge. Musang went down to investigate but was unable to enter the cave, so he called out from the entrance.

When Yuan Chengzhi climbed out, he said to Musang, "There are many strange things in that cave." He tugged on the rope, and Mu Renqing and mute man quickly pulled them up. After calming down, Yuan Chengzhi recounted the situation in the cave.

Mu Renqing said, "That skeleton must be Xia Xueyi, the Golden Snake Lord. I never thought such a generation of heroes would end up like this." Musang asked, "What does the meaning behind these sixteen characters?" Mu Renqing pondered for a moment and said, "It seems that he buried some treasure in the cave. The figures carved on the stone walls represent his martial arts skills. These sixteen characters are quite strange; it seems that whoever receives his inheritance will become his disciple, but they might also encounter misfortune." Musang said, "That is a possible interpretation based on the meaning of the characters, but we don't know what other tricks this strange person might have up his sleeve."

Mu Renqing let out a sigh and said, "We don't covet any of his treasures or secret techniques. Chengzhi, you can go in again tomorrow and bury the senior's remains. Light some incense and pay your respects to him, then you will have fulfilled your duty to him." Chengzhi agreed.

The next morning, Chengzhi took a shovel and the mute man climbed up the cliff with him. Mu Renqing and Musang knew there was no danger in the cave, so they did not go with them. Chengzhi and the mute man tied one end of the long rope tightly to a large tree on the other side of the cliff.

Chengzhi planned to bury the bones and knew it would take some time, so he brought three torches. After entering the cave, he dug a small hole in the ground with a shovel, inserted a torch, covered it with soil, and turned to look at the skeleton.

He thought to himself, "My master said that this man was a strange hero in his lifetime, but I don't know how he died in this secluded cave in the mountains. His bones were left unburied and it's a pity. I kneel before his bones and pay my respects to him, 'Disciple Yuan Chengzhi accidentally stumbled upon your remains, and today I will bury you, senior. Rest in peace in 
the ground!' After finishing his prayer, a cold wind blew into the cave, making him feel chilly and shudder.

He dared not delay in the cave and began digging in the ground with his shovel. He thought the ground was all hard rock, so if he couldn't dig down, he would have to pick up the bones and bury them outside the cave.

Unexpectedly, as soon as he dug down with his shovel, the ground gave way, revealing that the surrounding rock in the cave was quite soft, not much different from the soil, and easy to dig. After digging for a while, he suddenly heard a metallic sound as the shovel hit a metal object. Moving closer to the torch, he saw that there was an iron plate underneath, and after digging a few more times and clearing away the soil beside it, he found a large iron box that was about two feet square.

He lifted the iron box out and found that it was about a foot tall, but surprisingly light in his hands, as if there was nothing inside the box. He opened the lid and was surprised to find that the box was shallow, only an inch away from the bottom. How could a box that was over a foot tall be so shallow? He guessed that there must be a hidden layer.

There was an envelope in the box with words written on the cover: "The one who gets my box, open this letter." Opening the envelope, there was a yellowed sheet of paper inside. On it was written: "The contents of the box are a gift for those with fate. However, the one who gets the box must first bury my bones before opening it. This is very important." There were also two small envelopes inside the letter, one labeled "The Way to Open the Box" and the other labeled "The Way to Bury My Bones."

Chengzhi picked up the box and shook it, finding something inside. He thought to himself, "Master pities you for being buried in this desolate mountain, and only tasked me with burying you, not coveting your belongings."

He then opened the envelope that read " The Way to Bury My Bones.," and found another white sheet of paper inside. It read, "If you sincerely bury my bones, please dig three feet deeper into the pit and bury me there, so that I may dwell deep underground and be safe from insects."

Chengzhi thought to himself, "I'm a good person, so I might as well follow your instructions." He began digging again, and luckily the soil was soft and easy to dig. Just as he had dug three feet deeper, he suddenly heard a "ding" sound as his shovel hit something. He uncovered the object and found a small iron box, only one foot square. He thought to himself, "This strange 
hero is truly peculiar. I wonder what's in this box." When he opened it, he was shocked and broke out in a cold sweat.

Inside the box was a note that read, "You are an honest and kind person for burying my bones, so I will reward you with a valuable secret technique. Poison arrows will shoot out when the large iron box is opened, and the books and maps inside are fake and poisoned to punish greedy and evil people. The real items are in this small iron box."

Chengzhi didn't dare to look any further, so he put both iron boxes aside, put the Golden Snake Lord's bones into the pit one by one, covered them with soil, lit candles, bowed a few times, held the iron boxes, and walked out.

In the light of the fire, he saw that the entrance to the cave was made of stones, which the Golden Snake Lord must have used to seal it after entering. Otherwise, judging from the bones, how could such a tall person have entered the cave? But over time, the soil and vines had covered the outside of the cave, and weeds and moss had grown, making the entrance look small. Chengzhi dug away the stones to make a larger opening, so that his master and Musang Daoist could come in and take a look. As he was leaving the cave, the mute man pulled him up. Chengzhi took the two iron boxes and went to see his master.

Mu Renqing and Musang were playing chess, but when they saw Chengzhi approaching, they stopped playing. After he explained what had happened and showed them the letters, they were both secretly frightened. They then opened the envelope in the large iron box that read "The Way to Oen the Box," and found a piece of paper that read, "There are mechanisms on either side of the iron box. Hold the box with both hands and lift it with force simultaneously to open it."

Musang stuck his tongue out at Mu Renqing and said, "Chengzhi's life was almost lost in the mountain cave today. If he had been a bit greedy and opened the box without burying the bones first, he would probably not have escaped the poison arrows."

Mute man brought a large wooden barrel and drilled two opposing holes near the bottom of the barrel. They opened an iron box and placed it inside the barrel, covered the barrel with a wooden board, and inserted two small sticks into the holes, with mute man and Yuan Chengzhi each holding one. They pushed the sticks with force and heard a sound, indicating that the second layer of the iron box had opened, followed by a series of rustling and clunking sounds, causing the barrel to sway slightly.

When Chengzhi heard the sound of the arrows ceasing, he was about to remove the board to take a look, but Musang stopped him and said, "Wait a minute!" As expected, there were several more rustling sounds.

After a long time, there was no more sound. Musang removed the wooden board and revealed dozens of short arrows nailed to it, with different directions and depths, some flying diagonally, some straight. Musang took a pair of pliers and gently removed them, placing them aside, sighing, "This person is too crafty. He was afraid that if he shot them all at once, someone would dodge them, so he split the poisoned arrows into two shots."

Mu Renqing shook his head and said, "If one's curiosity is aroused, it's only natural to take a look at what's in the iron box. Even if we don't bury his bones, it doesn't mean he deserves to die. This person is very cunning, but not without talent. Chengzhi is still a child at heart, but he managed to resist the temptation to open the box. It's fortunate."

They took the iron box out of the wooden barrel and saw that the second layer of the box was covered with tangled steel wires, which were the spring-loaded mechanisms for shooting poisoned arrows. Musang removed the wires with pliers and found a book underneath with the words "Golden Snake Secret Manual" written on it, filled with dense small characters and many drawings, including maps, martial arts postures, and diagrams of weapons and traps.

When they opened the small iron box, there was also a book inside, varying in shape, size, font, and binding, but after a brief comparison, they found that the contents of the two books were vastly different.

Mu Renqing said, "This person went to great lengths to create a fake book and set up many poisoned arrows to deal with those who refused to bury his bones. But he's already dead, and there's no need to fuss over whether others are good or bad to you." Musang said, "This fake book and iron box were probably made a long time ago to deal with enemies. At the time of his death, he probably didn't have the time or tools to engage in such evil deeds in the cave."

Mu Renqing nodded and sighed, telling Chengzhi to collect the two iron boxes, saying, "This person's behavior is abnormal, and his books are of no benefit. The fake book is even more poisonous and cannot be touched." Yuan Chengzhi agreed.

After that, they practiced martial arts and played chess for several years, during which time Musang had taught them the essence of lightness skills and hidden weapons.

Yuan Chengzhi's chess skills were improving day by day. When he played against Musang, Musang had to give up two pieces in order to gain an advantage, but Yuan Chengzhi deliberately made moves that seemed like concessions, making it increasingly difficult to 
conceal his true strength. Musang lost interest and felt ashamed of his title as the "Master of a Thousand Changes," as he believed that Yuan Chengzhi's skills were only average. However, he always seemed to lose to him for some reason. Perhaps his own skills were not as superior as he thought, but he couldn't admit it. After a big loss one day, Musang got up and apologized while Yuan Chengzhi tried to make amends. Musang just smiled and left the mountain.

During these years, Yuan Chengzhi had grown taller and stronger, and his martial arts and internal skills in Huashan Sect had deepened. However, the world was constantly changing, with endless disasters affecting the people. There were floods, droughts, locust plagues, and the Manchu people from outside the Great Wall constantly invading. The court was powerless to defend against the enemy, and the people were suffering from hunger and cold, with many becoming refugees and even resorting to cannibalism. The government, however, increased its efforts to collect taxes, levy additional fees, and train soldiers, causing uprisings to occur all over the country. Rebellion leaders such as Wang Ziyong and Gao Yingxiang died in battle, and Li Zicheng, who led the Taiping Rebellion, had his share of victories and defeats. However, he was skilled in strategy and often turned defeat into victory, winning the hearts of many followers.

During this time, Mu Renqing would often visit Yuan Chengzhi on the mountain and talk about the suffering of the people. He mentioned that he had become friends with Li Zicheng and was respected by him. After Yuan Chengzhi had become proficient in his art, he should use his skills to help those in need. He also emphasized the importance of diligent martial arts practice, as it was crucial to achieving this goal. Yuan Chengzhi always followed his instructions diligently.

Bearing both the superior martial arts skills of the two factions, Chengzhi was already a rare figure in the martial arts world. However, during these years, he never left the mountain, so he was unaware that a young hero had emerged from the Huashan Sect.

It was early spring and Chengzhi was practicing martial arts when mute man came out of the house and made a gesture to summon him. Chengzhi knew it was his master calling, so he went inside and saw two big men standing next to his master. Apart from Musang, no outsiders had ever come to the top of Mount Hua. He was very surprised to see these two men.

Mu Renqing said, "This is Brother Wang and Brother Gao. Come and meet them." When Yuan Chengzhi saw that they were his master's friends, he went forward to bow and said, "Uncle Wang, Uncle Gao." The two men immediately knelt down and said, "Please don't, Uncle Yuan, please get up." Yuan Chengzhi was surprised to hear them call him uncle.

Mu Renqing laughed and said, "Get up, everyone." Chengzhi stood up and saw that the two 
men were dressed as peasants but had a heroic and upright demeanor.

Mu Renqing smiled at Chengzhi and said, "You've never come down the mountain with me before, so you don't know how old you are. Don't be too polite! Don't call each other uncle, just call each other brothers according to your age." It turned out that the two surnamed Wang and Gao were senior and junior brothers. Their master called Mu Renqing uncle, but they didn't really have any martial arts affiliations, they just called him that out of respect for him as an elder. In this way, the two of them were actually one generation younger than Yuan Chengzhi.

Mu Renqing said, "These two big brothers came here on the orders of the Prince of Yan from Shanxi and want me to discuss something with them. I'm going down the mountain tomorrow."
Chengzhi said, "Master, can I go with you to see Uncle Cui this time?" He was really bored on the mountain and had asked his master several times to go down the mountain, but he had never been allowed to. This time, he begged again.

Mu Renqing smiled slightly. Wang and Gao knew that their master and disciple had something to discuss, so they left.

Mu Renqing said, "The rebel army is gaining momentum and the provinces of Qin and Jin are within reach. This is the perfect opportunity for you to avenge your father. You have asked me several times to take you to assassinate Emperor Chongzhen, but I have always refused. Do you know why?" Chengzhi replied, "It must be because I haven't learned enough martial arts." Mu Renqing said, "That is certainly a reason, but there is a more important one. Sit down and listen to me." Chengzhi obeyed and sat down.

Mu Renqing continued, "In recent years, the military situation in the northern border has been urgent, and the Manchu people have ambitious designs and are trying their best to invade the interior. Although Chongzhen is suspicious and vacillating in his actions, when it comes to resisting the Manchu, he is doing his best compared to the foolish emperors of the previous dynasties, Wanli and Tianqi. If you were to assassinate him for personal revenge, the young crown prince would inherit the throne and the power would fall into the hands of eunuchs and treacherous ministers. Our Han Chinese dynasty would be at risk of collapsing. Wouldn't you become a criminal of the world? Your father's lifelong aspiration was to resist the Qing army and pacify Liaodong. If he knew about your disloyalty and unfilial act, he would be furious, wouldn't he?" Chengzhi was frightened by his master's words.

Mu Renqing said, "National affairs are more important than personal grudges. I don't allow you to assassinate for revenge because of this reason. But the situation is different now. The 
Taiping Rebellion is gaining victory after victory, and Luoyang has been taken. Within one or two years, they can conquer Beijing. If the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom comes to power, with the wise and valiant leadership of the king, how could they fear the invasion of the Manchus from Liaodong?" Yuan Chengzhi's blood boiled with excitement upon hearing this.

Mu Renqing said, "Your martial arts foundation is already quite solid. Although martial arts have no limit, I have passed on all my knowledge and skills to you. From now on, it's up to you to practice diligently. I will go down the mountain tomorrow to handle a few matters with Gao and Wang. You only have the final hurdle left for your Hunyuan Gong. It will take at least ten days or up to a month to become proficient. It's not peaceful on the mountain, and your training will be disrupted by the distractions. Once you have achieved the complete Hunyuan Gong and your movements are smooth, you can come down the mountain and find me in the Taiping army. If you encounter any injustice along the way, you must lend a hand. Upholding justice and chivalry is our responsibility. Even if it is extremely difficult and dangerous, we cannot sit idly by." Chengzhi promised to follow his master's instructions and was overjoyed when he was allowed to leave the mountain.

The number of martial arts families was disclosed to him. At this point, his master added a reminder, saying, "You are cautious and upright, and I am relieved. However, you are hot-blooded, so you must be careful with the word 'women'. Many great heroes have lost their feet in this matter, ending up with ruined reputation and broken bodies. You must remember this sentence from your master." Yuan Chengzhi received the instruction with solemnity.

The next day, when Yuan Chengzhi got up, he helped mute man to boil water and cook as usual, and then went to his master's room to pay his respects after everything was done. However, he found that Mu Renqing and the two guests had already left. Yuan Chengzhi looked at the empty bed of his master for a while, thinking that he would soon be able to leave the mountain. He made a gesture to mute man to indicate this, but mute man looked unhappy and left.

Yuan Chengzhi had been with mute man for more than ten years, and they were already as close as brothers. He knew that mute man was reluctant to part with him, and he felt a bit melancholic in his heart.

Suddenly, after about seventeen or eighteen days, Yuan Chengzhi practiced martial arts as usual. He couldn't help but cherish every plant and tree on the mountain, knowing that he would soon leave. After dinner that day, he sat on the bed and practiced Hunyuan Gong again. He felt that his internal energy was flowing smoothly through his meridians, and he was extremely pleased to know that he had finally passed the last hurdle that his master had mentioned. Just as he was about to go to bed, mute man came into the room and gestured that there seemed to be strangers in the mountain. Yuan Chengzhi wanted to go out to investigate, but mute man gestured that he had already checked front and back and found nothing wrong.

Yuan Chengzhi was still worried, so he brought two apes and checked the front and back of the mountain. However, he found nothing unusual, so he went back to sleep.

In the middle of the night, he suddenly heard loud noises and small cries coming from the outer room. He sat up and listened carefully, but suddenly smelled a sweet fragrance and thought to himself, "This is bad!" He held his breath and leaped out of bed, but unexpectedly his feet suddenly became weak, and he stumbled, almost falling down. This had never happened to him before, and he was surprised. Just then, the door was kicked open with a bang, and a black figure rushed out. The knife wind in the darkness was fierce, and it hacked down towards him. Yuan Chengzhi felt dizzy, his head spinning, and he struggled to keep his balance. He leaned to the left and struck back with his right hand. The person swung the knife down and cut his arm.

Yuan Chengzhi encountered a strong enemy unexpectedly, and there was no time for the other party to hesitate. In the darkness, he listened for the sound to identify the shape of the person, and then he advanced one step, hitting the person's shoulder with his left palm. However, his arm was weak, and he couldn't exert his full strength. Even so, the person still dropped the knife and flew out uncontrollably. Someone outside caught him and asked, "Is your trick still strong?"

Yuan Chengzhi wanted to chase the enemy, but suddenly felt dizzy and fell to the ground.

After an unknown amount of time, he finally woke up and felt sore all over his body. When he tried to move his limbs, he was surprised to find that he was tied up with a rope. The room was brightly lit, and two people were rummaging through everything.

He knew he had been ambushed, and regretted that it was useless. His master had only been away for a few days and he had been captured. They said something about avenging their father's death. He was still dizzy, so he quietly used his inner strength to calm down.

Pretending to still be unconscious, he opened his eyes a crack and saw a skinny guy in his forties with a withered face, and another bald and tall man who seemed to be the one he had just fought with. He wondered, "What valuable things are there on the mountain that are worth stealing? There's only fifty taels of silver that my master left for me. But these two are not ordinary thieves. The bald one has good martial arts, and the thin one is also skilled. If they came to seek revenge for my master, why didn't they kill me and just search for things?" He secretly used his strength to try to break the rope on his hands. However, the enemy knew that he had strong martial arts and had already placed a hollow bamboo tube between his hands. If he used too much force, the bamboo would break and make a sound. Yuan Chengzhi sensed it and stopped struggling, thinking of a way to escape.

The bald guy suddenly exclaimed, "Here it is!" and pulled out a large iron box from under the bed. It was the legacy of the Golden Snake Lord. The skinny guy was overjoyed and sat with the bald guy at the table, opening the iron box and taking out a book with the words "Golden Snake Secret Book" on the cover.

The bald guy laughed and said, "It's really here, Zhang Shige, our 18 years of hard work have not been in vain." They opened the secret book and saw many illustrations and small characters on the pages. They were so happy that they were almost delirious.

The skinny guy suddenly shouted, "Hey, that person is trying to escape!" and pointed at Chengzhi. Yuan Chengzhi was startled. The bald guy turned his head, and when the skinny guy flipped his wrist, a dagger pierced the bald guy's back and went all the way through. Then he jumped back a few feet, drew his long sword, and guarded the door.

The bald guy was extremely shocked and suddenly laughed bitterly, saying, "Twenty or so senior brothers searched for 18 years, and only you and I got this treasure today, Zhang Shige, you want to keep it all to yourself, so you poisoned me...Ha ha...Ha ha...You...you have certainly betrayed the Chess Immortal Sect. But if you want to deceive the five old masters, I'm afraid it won't be that easy. Let's see what your fate will be...Ha ha..." Yuan Chengzhi heard the terrifying laughter in the quiet night, and his whole body shuddered.

The bald guy tried to take out the dagger from his back but couldn't reach it. Suddenly, he let out a long, miserable cry, fell to the ground, twitched a few times, and then stopped moving.

The skinny guy was afraid that the other guy wasn't really dead, so he stabbed him twice in the back, snorted, and said, "I don't kill you because I'm afraid you won't kill me. What's the point of being polite?" He then kicked the dead body of the bald guy hard and said, "You said I couldn't fool those five old geezers? Look at me now!"

Unbeknownst to him, Yuan Chengzhi had already woken up and was watching him with a sinister smile. The skinny guy flicked off the flower on the candle, opened the secret book, and started to read. He swayed slightly and had a happy expression on his face. After flipping a few pages, he found that some pages were stuck and he couldn't turn them. He licked his finger and turned the pages again. After flipping through a few more pages, Yuan Chengzhi suddenly remembered that the book was poisonous and that he was likely to be poisoned from flipping through it. He couldn't help but exclaim.

The skinny guy heard him and turned his head. He saw the panic on Yuan Chengzhi's face and 
slowly stood up. He pulled out his knife from the bald guy's back and walked two steps closer, saying, "I have no grudge against you, but today I can't spare your life." He showed a fierce expression and raised the knife while grinning, "If I kill you now, you may not even know why you're dead when you reach the underworld. Let me be honest with you, I'm Zhang Chunjiu from the Qizhen sect in Quzhou, Zhejiang. Our sect and the Golden Snake Lord are mortal enemies. He violated our junior sister and escaped without a trace. We've been searching for him for over ten years, but we never thought his belongings would end up in your hands. Where is the Golden Snake Lord?" He glanced out the window and involuntarily showed a look of fear, as if he was afraid that the Golden Snake Lord would suddenly appear.

If Yuan Chengzhi had some experience in the martial arts world, he would have threatened the skinny guy with words. Even if he couldn't scare him away, he could make him hesitate and not dare to harm him easily. But at this moment, he was at a loss and didn't expect to be deceived. He said, "The Golden Snake Lord has been dead for a long time. His...his bones were buried by me." Zhang Chunjiu was overjoyed and asked again, "So the Golden Snake Lord is really dead?" Yuan Chengzhi nodded. Zhang Chunjiu shouted, "How did he die?" Yuan Chengzhi said, "I don't know, really don't know."

Zhang Chunjiu's face was twisted with ferocity as he said menacingly, "You live on Mount Hua, which means you're no good person. You're probably in cahoots with the Golden Snake Lord's gang of snakes and rats. Killing you wouldn't be wrong. If you become a ghost and want revenge, come find me, Zhang Chunjiu, in Jingyan, Quzhou. Haha, but I'll never return to Quzhou again. Even if you become a ghost, you won't be able to find me...haha..." Before he finished laughing, he suddenly stumbled and fell.

Yuan Chengzhi knew that the danger was imminent. He put all his strength into his arms, shouted loudly, and snapped the bamboo toy in half with a bang. Then he swung his hand to strike, but Zhang Chunjiu suddenly fell backward and looked up at the sky.

Yuan Chengzhi was afraid that it was a trick, so he held the broken rope in his hand and swung it in front of him, making a whistling sound. He saw that Zhang Chunjiu's feet didn't move, and black blood flowed from his eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. He realized that he had been poisoned to death. He bent down to untie the rope under his feet and ran to the outer room. He saw that mute man had also been tied up and couldn't move, so he quickly untied him. He also saw Da Wei and Xiao Guai lying unconscious on the ground. He was shocked and poured a basin of cold water over their heads to wake them up.

Yuan Chengzhi gestured to mute man and told him what had happened. The next day, they carried the two corpses to the back mountain. Yuan Chengzhi thought that the big iron box was a harmful thing, so he threw it into the pit with the poisonous book, burying them together with the two corpses. Thinking of the events of the night, he couldn't help but feel a sense of fear: "The reason why they tied me and mute man up instead of killing us with one stroke was probably to torture us to find out the whereabouts of the Golden Snake Lord. If they didn't have other motives, then the corpses in this pit would be me and mute man."

- End of Chapter 3 -

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