Sword Stained With Royal Blood Chapter 5B / part 2


Sword Stained With Royal Blood English Translation Chapter 5A part 1

Sword Stained With Royal Blood English Translation

Novel by Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha)

Chapter 5 - Part 2

 Yuan Chengzhi pondered. The situation today couldn't be resolved peacefully, but he couldn't harm the respected elders of his sworn brothers. Facing this dilemma right after coming down the mountain, he didn't know how to handle it.

Wen Qing thought Chengzhi was afraid as he furrowed his brows without saying a word.

He said, "My Third Grandfather dotes on the younger generation and would never harm you." He said this partly for Wen Fangshan's benefit, indicating that he shouldn't be too ruthless. Wen Qing's mother said, "Qingqing, enough talking!" Wen Fangshan glanced at Wen Qing and said, "It depends on everyone's fate. Brother Yuan, what weapon do you choose?"

Observing the surroundings, Yuan Chengzhi saw a six or seven-year-old boy standing nearby, holding a brightly painted toy wooden sword. The sword was only half the length of an ordinary longsword. A thought flashed in his mind, and he walked over, saying, "Little brother, can you lend me this sword for a moment? Is that okay?" The boy smiled and handed him the sword. Chengzhi took it and said to Wen Fangshan, "I dare not use real weapons against esteemed seniors. I will use this wooden sword for a few moves to learn from you." These words seemed humble, but in fact, he didn't regard the opponent highly. He realized that there were many people on the other side, and if they kept fighting, it would be uncertain when a decision would be reached, and An Xiaohui would be trapped. He needed to display his superior martial arts as soon as possible to subdue the opponents, ensuring the timely rescue of An Xiaohui without jeopardizing his relationship with Wen Qing, who had shown him brotherhood. Previously, he had fought Wen Fangyi on the rooftop, so he had a clear understanding of his martial arts skills. If the martial arts of the five elders of the Wen family were relatively close, using a wooden sword wouldn't be considered a risky move.

Upon hearing these words, Wen Fangshan was infuriated, his hands trembling. He laughed aloud and said, "I have traveled the rivers and lakes for decades, yet I have never been underestimated like this regarding my Dragon Head Steel Cane. Hehe, today is truly an eye-opener. Very well, if you have the ability, use this wooden sword to break my steel cane." As soon as he finished speaking, he swung his cane horizontally, sweeping towards Chengzhi's waist.

The wind was fierce, and Chengzhi's body seemed to be lifted by the steel cane. Wen Qing exclaimed, but before his feet touched the ground, the tip of the wooden sword was already aimed at Wen Fangshan's face. Wen Fangshan reversed his steel cane, attempting to strike Chengzhi's vital acupoint in the back.

Yuan Chengzhi thought to himself, "So the cane can also be used for acupoint targeting, and Qingdi mentioned hidden weapons in it. I must be careful." He shifted his body, avoiding the cane's strike, and the wooden sword swiftly descended, executing the "Falling Willow Leaves" move, sliding along the cane with incredible speed.

Observing Chengzhi's sword technique, Wen Fangshan realized that even with a wooden sword, getting hit would result in injury, so in a critical moment, he loosened his grip with his right hand, allowing the cane to fall. Just before it touched the ground, his left hand, as quick as lightning, reached out and grabbed the end of the cane. With a sudden shake, the heavy steel cane rose up, ready to counter-attack. Chengzhi, witnessing his opponent's keen eyes and swift changes in technique, admired his skills.

As the fight escalated, the sound of Wen Fangshan's cane became increasingly fierce. Sometimes the cane struck the ground, shattering the bricks on impact, creating a truly astonishing spectacle. Chengzhi maneuvered through the gaps in the cane, his wooden sword nimble and every move targeting the opponent's vital points.

Within moments, they exchanged dozens of moves, and Wen Fangshan grew anxious. He thought to himself, "This Dragon Head Steel Cane, a symbol of authority and invincibility in Jiangnan, is being evenly matched by this young junior using a mere toy. Is my lifelong reputation about to be ruined?" His cane technique changed, sweeping and smashing, enveloping the enemy's entire body.

Onlookers felt the gusts of wind from the cane growing stronger and began to step back, their backs against the walls, to avoid being struck. The candlelight revealed the cane dancing in a bright circle.

Wen Fangshan's martial arts far surpassed Rong Cai, the leader of the Youlong Gang. Chengzhi had only encountered opponents with inferior skills before descending the mountain. He didn't want to use the authentic sword techniques of the Huashan Sect, as it might expose his sect's identity to the five elders of the Wen family. Meanwhile, the imposing cane of his opponent prevented him from getting close, and his wooden sword couldn't clash with it. Chengzhi realized that without resorting to a decisive move, victory would be difficult to achieve. Suddenly, his footwork slowed for a moment.

Wen Fangshan was overjoyed and swept his staff horizontally. Yuan Chengzhi activated the "Mix element art" with his left hand, firmly grabbing the end of the staff. He exerted force and twisted it, while his right hand thrust forward with a wooden sword. With a "chih" sound, Wen Fangshan's shoulder clothes were pierced. This was just a deliberate warning, as otherwise the sword could have pierced his chest. Although it was a wooden sword, the internal strength behind it was fierce enough to cause a fatal injury.

Wen Fangshan was greatly surprised, feeling a sharp pain in his hand, and the steel staff had been snatched away from him.

Yuan Chengzhi thought to himself that he was Wen Qing's third grandfather, and he couldn't embarrass him. Immediately, he retrieved his wooden sword, and with a quick movement of his left hand, he returned the steel staff to Wen Fangshan. This all happened in an instant, and those with lower martial arts skills didn't notice the swift exchange of the staff. It had turned around in the blink of an eye, sparing Wen Fangshan from further humiliation, and preserving his dignity.

Unexpectedly, Wen Fangshan immediately swung his staff horizontally. Yuan Chengzhi thought, "I've already yielded, why is he being so unreasonable? Doesn't he uphold the reputation of a skilled martial artist?" He quickly moved to the left to avoid the attack. Suddenly, three steel nails shot out from the dragon mouth at the end of the staff, flying towards him in three different directions—upper, middle, and lower. The end of the staff was only a foot away from him, and the hidden weapons emerged abruptly. There was no way to dodge them.

Wen Qing couldn't help but exclaim, "Ah!" Seeing the situation becoming dangerous, her face turned pale.

But then Chengzhi's wooden sword spun around, and with three crisp sounds, he struck down all three steel nails to the ground. This move was called "Peacock Spreading Its Tail" in Huashan Swordsmanship, inspired by a peacock's display, with the tail gracefully wrapped around itself. With the sword's hilt outside and the tip inward, it was specifically designed to parry an opponent's weapon during critical moments. Yuan Chengzhi knocked down the hidden weapons, flipped the wooden sword, and pressed it against the dragon's head of the steel cane. Although the wooden sword was light, this pressing strike was precisely applied to the cane's weak point, fully utilizing the essence of martial arts known as "four ounces deflecting a thousand pounds."

Wen Fangshan felt a powerful force pushing the steel cane downward. He tried to resist, but he was a step too slow, and the cane struck the ground. Chengzhi, angered by Wen Fangshan's treacherous hidden weapon attack, firmly planted his left foot on the cane's head. Wen Fangshan forcefully pulled back the cane but failed to retrieve it. Chengzhi released his foot and leaped back more than a yard. Wen Fangshan retracted the steel cane, and everyone saw that the green bricks in the hall were deeply imprinted with half of the dragon's head, resembling its teeth and fangs. The onlookers were all astonished.

Wen Fangshan's face turned pale. With both hands, he forcefully threw the steel cane towards the roof, producing a loud bang as the cane pierced through the roof and flew away.

He shouted, "Since this wooden sword defeated you, what use do I have for it?"

Yuan Chengzhi saw the old man raging with anger, his beard blowing in the wind, and he silently laughed, thinking, "You lost to me, not the steel cane to the wooden sword!"

Amidst the falling debris of tiles and dust from the roof, Wen Fangshan leaped out and said, "Young man, your skill in hidden weapons isn't bad. How about you face my flying knives?" He casually removed a leather sheath from his waist and put it on.

Yuan Chengzhi saw that the sheath contained twenty-four shiny flying knives, each about a foot long. He realized that most hidden weapons were used when the opponent was unprepared, unexpectedly deployed. Sleeve arrows were concealed in the sleeves, and golden darts and iron lotus seeds were hidden in clothing pockets. However, Wen Fangshan's flying knives were openly displayed on his body, indicating exceptional skill. Understanding that modesty and retreat were now useless, Chengzhi nodded and said, "Senior, please go easy on me!" He returned the wooden sword to the child and turned around.

The people of the Wen family knew that Fourth elder of Wen Family throwing knives were swift and lightning-fast. If the young man caught all of them, it would be acceptable, but if he dodged or retreated, the knives, without eyes, would be unstoppable. Apart from the Fourth Master, everyone else in the hall stepped out and gathered near the door to watch.

Wen Fangshi shouted, "Watch the knives!" With a wave of his hand, the cold light flashed, and a knife whizzed through the air. It turned out that the handle of his throwing knife had a hollowed-out design, so when it swiftly flew, the wind passing through the hole produced a whistling sound, like blowing a suona horn, a sharp and piercing noise. The high-pitched sound of the knife seemed like a warning to the enemy, making it appear honorable and upright, but it was also meant to intimidate and disturb their minds.

Yuan Chengzhi saw the formidable power of the throwing knives, different from other hidden weapons that relied on agility or treachery to gain an advantage. He thought, "If I catch the knives with my hands, it won't showcase my skills and won't deflate their arrogance. I need to make them lose in a way that they willingly admit defeat and release Xiaohui, returning the gold." Thus, he reached into his pocket and took out two copper coins, one in his left hand and one in his right, and simultaneously threw them towards the flying knife. The left coin arrived first, producing a crisp sound as it flattened the hollowed-out handle of the knife. The right coin followed, colliding with the flying knife and causing them both to fall. Despite the flying knife weighing over half a catty and the coin being light and small, they collided and fell together, demonstrating Chengzhi's strength, which was several times greater than Wen Fangshi's.

Wen Fangshi's face immediately changed, and he simultaneously launched two knives. Yuan Chengzhi responded with four copper coins, silencing the knives' sound and knocking them down.

Wen Fangshi sneered and said, "Impressive! Excellent skills!" While speaking, his hands continued without hesitation, throwing out six more flying knives. He already knew it would be difficult to hit his opponent, so he deliberately scattered the six knives in different directions, thinking, "Can you still knock down all my flying knives?" However, he heard a series of whistling and clashing sounds as all six knives were silenced and knocked away by twelve copper coins.

On the peak of Huashan, Chengzhi had played countless games of chess and experienced numerous encounters and challenges with Daoist Musang, not to mention the countless hours of training he had put in. Only then did he master this rarely seen technique of "Flowers Raining from the Sky" hidden weapon skill. If Daoist Musang were present, he might still criticize Chengzhi's technique as impure, but the Wen family members were already astounded.

Wen Fangshi shouted, "Good!" With both hands in action, he simultaneously threw six flying knives toward vital points. Just as the six knives were launched, another six knives flew out, which was his ultimate technique. No matter how skilled a person was at dodging the first six knives, they would be unable to avoid the subsequent six knives. The twelve flying knives whistled and flew towards Yuan Chengzhi from all directions.

Wen Fangda saw that Yuan Chengzhi's martial arts were extraordinary, likely that of a disciple of a high-level expert. Witnessing his fourth brother employing the most powerful knife technique, he was secretly amazed and shouted, "Fourth brother, don't harm him...". Before he could finish his words, he saw Yuan Chengzhi's hands scrambling in the air, grabbing six knives with his right hand and six knives with his left hand. Then, one after another, he continuously threw them towards the weapon rack.

The originally dazzling weapon rack was filled with swords and spears. But within the flickering white light, all the spearheads and sword tips were shattered. It turned out they had all been cut by the twelve throwing knives. The momentum of the throwing knives didn't diminish as they embedded into the walls.

Suddenly, all five elders stood up, encircling Chengzhi with fierce gazes, and simultaneously shouted, "Are you sent by the treacherous Golden Snake?"

Chengzhi's knife-catching technique in the air was indeed derived from the "Golden Snake Secret Book." Seeing the ferocious expressions of the five elders, as if they were about to pounce and bite him simultaneously, he couldn't help but feel panic. Just as he was about to answer, he caught a glimpse of three people walking outside the hall, one of them being An Xiaohui, who was being held captive by two big men. They had just been captured from the secret chamber beneath the trapdoor. In his eagerness to save her, Chengzhi rushed out of the hall. Wen Fangda and Wen Fangyi drew their weapons and followed closely behind.

Ignoring the pursuers, Yuan Chengzhi rushed straight toward An Xiaohui. The two big men raised their swords and swung them down. With a swift movement, Chengzhi dove under the blades. The two big men had just swung their weapons when Wen Fangda and Wen Fangyi arrived. With a sword and a knife respectively, they simultaneously struck at the heads of the big grandfather and the second grandfather.

Chengzhi grabbed the ropes binding An Xiaohui's hands without caring about the pursuing enemies. An Xiaohui was overjoyed and called out, "Brother Chengzhi!"

At that moment, the swords of the two men were falling from the air. Chengzhi swung the broken rope, entangling the hilt of the longsword, and pulled it back. He said to An Xiaohui, "Catch!" With a slackening of the rope, the sword's hilt faced her and flew into her hands. An Xiaohui reached out and caught it.

In the midst of all this, the action was slow in words, but fast in reality. Just as the longsword was thrown, Wen Fangda's two short halberds had already stabbed towards Yuan Chengzhi's chest. However, with a cry of "Ah!" and "Hmph!", the two big men, who were blocking the way, were kicked away by Wen Fangyi, opening up the path.

Yuan Chengzhi didn't move his feet and suddenly stepped back two feet. Wen Fangda's double halberds missed their target and were about to strike again, but before they could exert their force, they suddenly moved forward on their own. In the flickering candlelight, it could be seen that a broken rope had already entangled the halberds in the opponent's hands and was being pulled forward.

Wen Fangda took advantage of the situation and launched an attack with the "Jing Wei rivers merge" move, stabbing forward with the halberds. The halberd tips were sharp and shining. Yuan Chengzhi dodged to the side and forcefully pulled the rope, then suddenly let go. Caught off guard, Wen Fangda stumbled forward two steps and when he looked at Yuan Chengzhi, he had already taken An Xiaohui and rushed into the martial arts hall.

Wen Fangda was already furious, and now his face was even more filled with killing intent. He broke the short ropes on the halberds and stepped into the hall. The Wen family members also returned to the hall and stood behind the Five Elders.

Wen Fangda held the halberds in his left hand and pointed at Yuan Chengzhi with his right hand, angrily shouting, "Where is that treacherous Golden Snake? Speak up!"

Yuan Chengzhi said, "Senior, there's no need to get angry. Let's talk calmly." Wen Fangyi angrily said, "Who is golden snake lord, Xia Xueyi to you? Where is he? Did he send you?"

Yuan Chengzhi said, "I have never met Golden snake lord in person, how could he have sent me?" Wen Fangshan said, "Is that true?" Yuan Chengzhi replied, "Why would I lie to you? I had no intention of meeting this Brother Wen in Qujiang. He regarded me highly and we became friends. What does this have to do with the Golden Snake and Silver Snake?"

The faces of the Five Elders eased slightly, but they still remained skeptical. Wen Fangda said, "If you don't reveal the hiding place of the treacherous Golden Snake, don't expect to leave Jingyan today."

Yuan Chengzhi thought to himself, "With your limited skills, you won't be able to keep me here." Hearing them repeatedly calling Golden snake lord a "treacherous Golden Snake," he couldn't help but feel annoyed. In his heart, Golden snake lord was like a half-master, somewhat resembling Daoist Musang, but still respectful. He said, "I have no connection or reason with Golden snake lord. I have never even met him. But I do know where he is, it's just that I doubt anyone here dares to go see him."

The Five Elders were consumed with anger and said one after another, "Who says we don't dare?" "For more than ten years, we have been looking for him every day." "That treacherous thief is already a useless person, who would be afraid of him?" "Where is he?" "Tell us, tell us!"

Yuan Chengzhi smiled faintly and asked, "Do you really want to go see him?" Wen Fangda took a step forward and said, "Yes." Yuan Chengzhi laughed and said, "What's good about seeing him?" Wen Fangda angrily said, "Kid, who's joking with you? Tell me!" Yuan Chengzhi said, "You are all healthy and strong, but it will still be several years before you can meet him face to face. He has already passed away!"

As soon as these words came out, everyone was stunned. They heard Wen Qing anxiously calling, "Mother, mother, what's wrong with you?"

Yuan Chengzhi turned around and saw the middle-aged beautiful woman fainting in Wen Qing's arms, her face pale, her lips devoid of color.

Wen Fangshan's face changed drastically and he cursed, "Injustice!" Wen Fangyi said to Wen Qing, "Qingqing, quickly take your mother inside, don't embarrass us and let others laugh." Wen Qing burst into tears and said, "What's embarrassing? My mother naturally feels sad when she hears that my father has died."

Yuan Chengzhi was greatly surprised, "His mother is Golden snake lord's wife? Wen Qing is his son?"

Wen Fangyi heard Wen Qing's impulsive words and revealed the great humiliation of the Wen family in front of outsiders. His teeth gritted as he said to Wen Fangshan, "Third brother, if you keep spoiling this brat, I'll take care of him." Wen Fangshan scolded Wen Qing, "Who is your father? You're just a child blabbering nonsense. Go inside quickly!"

Wen Qing supported her mother and slowly entered the house. The beautiful woman gradually regained consciousness and whispered, "Please ask Master Yuan to come and see me tomorrow night, I have something to ask him." Wen Qing nodded and turned to Yuan Chengzhi, "One more day, come back tomorrow night and sneak in again. You're helping someone, you... your vows are all lies!" He gave a hateful glance at An Xiaohui and supported his mother inside.

Yuan Chengzhi said to An Xiaohui, "Let's go!" The two of them walked out. Wen Fangwu stood at the door, blocking their way with his hands, and said sternly, "Slow down, I have something to ask you." Yuan Chengzhi clasped his hands and said, "It's already late today, I'll come to visit tomorrow, senior." Wen Fangwu said, "Where did the treacherous Golden Snake die? Who saw him when he died?"

Yuan Chengzhi remembered the tragic scene when Zhang Chunjiu stabbed his bald-headed junior brother to death that night and thought, "Your Qixian Sect is so cunning and dangerous. That night on Mount Hua, I almost died at your hands. Why should I tell you the truth? Moreover, you covet the belongings of the Golden Snake, so I can't say." He said, "I also heard from friends that Golden snake lord died on a deserted island overseas in Guangdong." Then a thought occurred to him and he said, "Your sect has a skinny guy named Zhang Chunjiu, and there's also a bald-headed one, right? They know exactly what happened to Golden snake lord. Just bring those two and ask them, then everything will be clear. There's no need to ask me."

The Five Elders of the Wen family looked at each other, filled with astonishment. Wen Fangyi said, "Zhang Chunjiu and bald guy Jiang? These two guys have disappeared without a trace. Damn it, if they come back, I'll flay their skin."

Yuan Chengzhi thought to himself, "Go and search meticulously on the thousands of deserted islands overseas in Guangdong! Otherwise, go personally and ask Zhang Chunjiu and that bald guy." He bowed to the crowd and said, "I apologize for my departure." 

Wen Fangwu said, "What's the rush?" He wanted to ask clearly and extended his arm to block Yuan Chengzhi. Yuan Chengzhi gently pushed his palm towards Wen Fangwu's arm. Wen Fangwu hooked his wrist, intending to use his grappling technique to seize Yuan Chengzhi's wrist. Little did he know that Yuan Chengzhi didn't want to fight anymore, and this move was actually a feint. As the opponent's hand moved, a gap appeared on the left side, and Yuan Chengzhi grabbed An Xiaohui's hand and swiftly passed through the gap, without even touching Wen Fangwu's clothes.

Wen Fangwu became furious and swiftly shook his right hand, untangling a bullhide whip from his waist and lashed it towards Yuan Chengzhi's back. Some soft whips in the martial world were made of refined steel, and the more exquisite ones were even woven with gold threads. However, Wen Fangwu had exceptional internal strength, so the weapon he used was just an ordinary leather whip. The whip was both flexible and soft, and in his hands, it moved like an extension of his limbs, with internal strength flowing throughout, surpassing even the golden whips made of metal.

Yuan Chengzhi heard the wind behind him, pulled An Xiaohui forward, and the whip missed its target. With a swooshing sound, a powerful force approached, indicating that it was a formidable soft weapon. Without looking back, Yuan Chengzhi swiftly leaped over the wall. 

Wen Fangwu, who had spent decades practicing with this whip, couldn't believe that it was so easily avoided. How could he give up? He swung his right hand, forming a whip flower, and it curled towards An Xiaohui's feet. This move was a solid one, knowing that the girl's skills were not high, and she wouldn't be able to dodge it. If he pulled her down, it would be equivalent to capturing Yuan Chengzhi.

Yuan Chengzhi heard the wind, lifted his left hand, caught the tip of the whip, and utilized his mix element art to launch a sudden upward leap. With a strong pull from his left hand, he lifted Wen Fangwu. The Wen family members were all astonished.

Wen Fangshi desperately tried to save his fifth brother. He raised his right hand, and two flying knives whizzed towards Yuan Chengzhi's back. Yuan Chengzhi let go of the whip with his left hand, pulled An Xiaohui towards the outside of the wall, and ignored the sound of the flying knives. He lightly blocked the blades with the soles of his feet, causing them to reverse instantly.

As Wen Fangwu's feet touched the ground, the two flying knives descended upon him. Before he could get up, he flicked his whip, attempting to open the flying knives. However, to his surprise, the whip suddenly broke inch by inch. It turned out that when Yuan Chengzhi lifted Wen Fangwu in mid-air, he had already utilized the superior internal energy of the mix element art. Otherwise, how could he lift a big man weighing over a hundred jin in mid-air? The internal energy was transmitted to the whip, causing it to break. Wen Fangwu was greatly shocked and rolled away, narrowly avoiding the flying knives. But one of the knives tore his clothes. When he stood up, he was covered in cold sweat and couldn't speak for a while.

Wen Fangda couldn't help but shake his head. All five elders were secretly amazed. Wen Fangyi said, "This kid is only about twenty years old. Even if he started practicing martial arts in his mother's womb, he has only been training for twenty years. How can his skills be so impressive?" Wen Fangshan said, "Even the formidable treacherous Golden Snake fell into our hands. This kid will come again tomorrow night, and we'll deal with him properly."

Yuan Chengzhi and An Xiaohui returned to the farmhouse where they were staying. An Xiaohui praised Yuan Chengzhi wholeheartedly, greatly admiring him. She said, "Senior Brother Cui always praises how great his master is, but I think his master can't compare to you." Yuan Chengzhi asked, "What's Senior Brother Cui's name, and who is his master?" An Xiaohui replied, "His name is Cui Ximin, and his nickname is 'Tiger Guardian Warrior.' His master is the disciple of Master Mu from the Huashan Sect, nicknamed 'copper pen and iron abacus.' Whenever I hear this nickname, I can't help but laugh. I've never asked Senior Brother Cui about his master's real name."

Yuan Chengzhi nodded and thought to himself, "So he's Senior Huang Zhen's disciple. He should call me 'Shishu' then." Without revealing his knowledge, they both went to rest.

On the next evening, Yuan Chengzhi told An Xiaohui to wait for him at the farmhouse and not to accompany him. An Xiaohui knew that her skills were inferior and would only be a hindrance, distracting him from focusing. Although she was reluctant, she agreed.

Yuan Chengzhi waited until the middle of the night and went to the Wen residence. He noticed that everywhere was pitch dark, without any light from lamps. Just as he was about to enter, he suddenly heard three faint sounds of a flute coming from a distance. The melodious flute stopped as soon as it started playing, and after a moment, three more sounds followed. Yuan Chengzhi's mind stirred, knowing that it was Wen Qing using the flute to signal him. He thought it would be best to persuade her to return the gold without resorting to violence, as five elders were extremely fierce but Wen Qing still had some feelings of brotherhood towards him. Following the sound of the flute, he rushed towards the slope of Rose Mountain.

When he reached the slope and looked into the distance, he saw two figures sitting in a pavilion. Under the moonlight, he could see their beautiful faces, both of them women. He immediately halted his steps, thinking, "Qingdi isn't here!" One of the women raised the flute to play and greeted him softly, "Big Brother!" Yuan Chengzhi was greatly astonished. In the moonlight, he clearly saw a charming face—it was indeed Wen Qing. He was dumbfounded for a while before finally saying, "You... you..."

Wen Qingqing smiled gently and said, "Actually, I'm a woman. I've been hiding it from Big Brother, please don't blame me!" She then bowed deeply. Yuan Chengzhi also returned the gesture. Many of his doubts were suddenly resolved, and he thought to himself, "I've always criticized her for wearing excessive makeup and acting too childish, lacking the demeanor of a husband. It turns out she's a woman. Ah, I've unknowingly paid my respects to a girl, how can I explain this?"

Wen Qingqing said, "My name is Wen Qingqing. I missed mentioning the 'Qing' character when I told you last time." She pursed her lips and smiled, adding, "Actually, I should be called Xia Qingqing."

Yuan Chengzhi saw her dressed as a woman, with delicate eyebrows, phoenix-like eyes, rosy cheeks, and cherry lips. She was an astonishingly beautiful woman. He cursed himself for being confused. Anyone could see such a beauty, yet he had been so oblivious, deceived by her disguise for so many days. Throughout his life, except for his infancy, he had only spent a few days with Madam An and An Xiaohui. After that, he spent over ten years cultivating martial arts at the peak of Mount Hua and had never seen a woman. Later, he encountered Hong Niangzi, the wife of Li Yan, in the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom army. That female warrior was bold and spirited, no different from a man. Therefore, when it came to distinguishing between men and women, he was completely clueless and failed to recognize Wen Qingqing disguised as a man.

Wen Qingqing said, "My mother is here. She has something to ask you." Yuan Chengzhi entered the pavilion, bowed, and greeted, "Auntie, your nephew Yuan Chengzhi pays his respects." The middle-aged beauty stood up and returned the gesture, saying repeatedly, "No need for formalities."

Yuan Chengzhi saw her swollen eyes and haggard complexion. He knew she was heartbroken and in pain. He silently sat down, thinking, "According to what Qingqing said, her mother was forced into an unwanted encounter, resulting in her birth. That person must be the Golden Snake Lord. The five elders despise the Golden Snake Lord, and when Qingqing refers to him as her father, her second grandfather scolds and berates her. But her mother fainted upon hearing the news of the Golden Snake Lord's death and became heartbroken. It's clear that she had deep feelings for him, indicating there might be another story behind it."

After a moment of silence, Qingqing's mother asked softly, "Is he... Is he really dead? Did Mister Yuan witness it with his own eyes?" Yuan Chengzhi nodded. She continued, "Mister Yuan has been very kind to my Qingqing. I know that. I will never treat you as an enemy like my father and uncles do. Please... Please tell me about his death. Who killed him? Did he... Did he suffer greatly?" Her voice trembled, and tears streamed down her face.

Yuan Chengzhi didn't fully understand his feelings towards the Golden Snake Lord. According to his master and Doaist Musang, the man had a peculiar temperament, was cunning, and fell somewhere between righteousness and evil. His deliberate use of the iron box crossbow and poisonous techniques showed his ruthlessness and lack of moral principles. However, since he started studying the martial arts from the "Golden Snake Secret Book," he couldn't help but secretly admire this extraordinary genius. Deep down, he unconsciously regarded him as a quasi-master. Last night, when he heard the five elders of the Wen family angrily denounce the Golden Snake Lord as a " treacherous," he felt an indescribable anger. Upon reflection, he found it strange. When Wen Qingqing's mother asked about it, he responded, "I haven't met the Golden Snake Lord in person. But it can be said that he and I have a master-disciple relationship. I learned many martial arts from him. As for the circumstances of his death, I apologize for not being able to tell Auntie. I fear that there are people who would desecrate his remains."

Wen Qingqing's mother staggered and fell backward. Qingqing quickly caught her and called out, "Mom, don't be upset."

After a while, Wen Qingqing's mother slowly regained consciousness and cried, "I waited bitterly for eighteen years, hoping that he would come to take us away from this place. Who knew he would go alone? Qingqing can't even see her father."

Yuan Chengzhi reassured her, "Auntie, please don't be sad. Senior Xia is now peacefully resting in eternal sleep. His remains have been properly buried." He added, "Before Senior Xia passed away, he sat upright and made various arrangements. It was not a hasty death caused by someone."

Wen Qingqing's mother said, "So it was Mister Yuan who buried him. It's a great kindness. I don't know how to repay it." She stood up, bowed, and said, "Qingqing, quickly kowtow to Mister Yuan." Qingqing prostrated herself, and Yuan Chengzhi hurriedly knelt down in return. Wen Qingqing's mother asked, "I wonder if he left any letters for us?"

Yuan Chengzhi remembered the map and inscription inside the cover of the secret book: "To the one who obtains the treasure, please go to Jingyan in Quzhou, Zhejiang, and seek Wen Yi. Bestow upon her a hundred thousand taels of gold." When he saw this "map of great treasure," he didn't covet it and casually stuffed it into his baggage. He hadn't paid much attention to it since then. He had thought that the Golden Snake Lord, with his unparalleled martial arts and exceptional intelligence, had met his demise in the desolate mountains, almost leaving his remains unattended. It was likely that he had been harmed because of this great treasure. Extraordinary treasures often bring great calamities, a notion his master often mentioned. Therefore, he harbored a certain aversion towards this remnant map. But now, prompted by Wen Qingqing's mother, he recalled it and said, "I apologize for my impoliteness. May I ask, Auntie, does your given name contain the character 'Yi'?"

Wen Qingqing's mother was taken aback and asked, "That's correct. How did you know?" Then she said, "It must be him... him... it must be written in the letter. Mister Yuan... Did you bring it with you?" Her expression was filled with hope and anxiety.

Before Yuan Chengzhi could answer, his right foot suddenly tapped, and he leaped diagonally from the railing of the pavilion. Wen Yi and her daughter were startled, only to see Yuan Chengzhi grabbing a man from the rose bushes and returning to the pavilion. The man had been struck by an acupoint and his limbs went limp, unable to move.

Qingqing exclaimed, "It's Seventh uncle!" Wen Yi let out a sigh and said, "Mister Yuan, please release him. In the Wen family, there isn't anyone who treats us as family."

Yuan Chengzhi reached out and patted the man a few times, releasing his acupoint. It turned out to be Wen Nanyang, the seventh son of Wen Fangyi among his brothers.

Wen Qingqing angrily said, "Seventh uncle, why did you come here to eavesdrop on our conversation? You don't show any respect for your elders."

Upon hearing this, Wen Nanyang became furious. However, he was completely defenseless against Yuan Chengzhi's capture and had suffered under his hands the previous night. He glared at the three of them and then turned to leave. After a few steps, he viciously said, "Shameless woman, not only did you engage in an affair, but you also taught your daughter to do the same."

Wen Yi felt bitter and tears streamed down her cheeks. Qingqing couldn't bear to see him insulted like that and chased after him, shouting, "Hey, Seventh uncle, what impure words are coming out of your mouth?" Wen Nanyang turned around and cursed, "Are you trying to rebel, you wretched girl? It was the grandfathers who sent me here. What can you do?" Wen Qingqing retorted, "If you want to lecture me, do it openly and face-to-face. Why did you come to eavesdrop on our conversation?" Wen Nanyang sneered, "Our conversation? Where did this wild man suddenly come from, daring to include himself with us? The faces of the eighteen generations of the Wen family have all been disgraced because of you!" Qingqing's face flushed with anger, and she turned to her mother, saying, "Mom, listen to the things he's saying."

Wen Yi whispered, "Seventh brother, please come over. I have something to say." After a moment of hesitation, Wen Nanyang took a big stride and walked into the pavilion, standing far away from Yuan Chengzhi, guarding against any sudden attacks.

Wen Yi said, "We, mother and daughter, have suffered unfortunate circumstances and have been taken care of by the five grandfathers and our brothers in the Wen family for more than ten years. I never told Qingqing about the matter concerning Xia's surname. Now that he is no longer in this world, there is no need to hide it anymore. Seventh brother, you know the whole story very well. Please tell Mister Yuan and Qingqing."

Wen Nanyang grumbled, "Why should I say it? You should speak for yourself. As long as you're not afraid of being ugly." Wen Yi sighed lightly and said in a low voice, "Alright, I thought he saved your life, and you would at least feel a bit grateful, but it seems that the people of the Wen family have all forgotten... forgotten... sigh!" Wen Nanyang angrily said, "He saved my life, that's true. But why did he do it? Fine, I'll just say it straightforwardly, so you won't come up with all sorts of lies when you speak. Qingqing angrily said, "How could my mother lie?" Wen Yi pulled her and said, "Let Seventh uncle speak."

Wen Nanyang sat down and said, "Yuan, Qingqing, let me tell you how I came to recognize that treacherous Golden Snake. I will tell you exactly so that you know how cunning his intentions were." Qingqing said, "I won't listen to you badmouthing him," covering her ears with her hands.

Wen Yi said, "Qingqing, listen carefully. Your late father, although not a good person, had more benefits than the entire Wen family combined."

Wen Nanyang sneered, "You seem to have forgotten that you also carry the Wen surname."

Wen Yi looked up and gazed into the distance, whispering, "I... I... no longer bear the surname Wen."

Continue to Chapter 6 >
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