Part 5 - Life Outside The Valley

Xiao Yu’er looked at the entire scene from afar, his face lightened with excitement and his eyes flashed with enthusiasm, such an impressive scene…the world is an impressive place!

It was dusk now; the landscape was coloured dark blue. A fog gradually came up on the mountainside. The sky was grey; the greyness enwrapped the entire prairie. The wind was blowing through the grass and the cries of cows, sheep and horses were mixed in the wind producing a melancholic sound. Then great herds of horses, sheep and cows moved by, encircling the mountain. It was just a beautiful and grandiose picture, and the sound resembled a sad but yet touching love song. Black cows, yellow horses and white sheep marching greatly through the green grass, it was like an army of 100,000 pushing forward without fear.

Xiao Yu’er looked at the entire scene from afar, his face lightened with excitement and his eyes flashed with enthusiasm, such an impressive scene…the world is an impressive place!

He stood there dazzled till darkness came; he suddenly felt his heart had opened up.

The herds of animals disappeared into the distance, and Xiao Yu’er could hear singing from afar. The singing was clear and melodious, but Xiao Yu’er did not understand what these people sang. He could make out that every part began with the characters [Allah]; he did not know that [Allah] was the god the nomadic people in Xinjiang believed in. He walked towards the singing. The light of the stars illuminated the prairie, the moonlight made the grass resemble waves in a clear blue sea.

Xiao Yu’er did not know how long he walked, but after some time he saw several white tents in this boundless prairie. The contrast with the lights of the tents and the light emitted from the stars looked very small and insignificant, but it produced a very poetic ambiance.

Xiao Yu’er ran towards the tents, there was a campfire and several girls were singing. They wore long, colourful gowns with long sleeves. Their long beautiful hair was braided into little pigtails. They were petite and they wore numerous pendants, emitting a radiant glow of gold and silver and they wore exquisite small hats with bright colours.

Xiao Yu’er was mesmerized and walked over to the girls completely dazzled.

All those girls stopped singing when they saw him and swarmed towards him. They were touching him and talking to him in a language he did not understand.

The girls in Xinjiang were more naïve, sincere and full of affection.

Xiao Yu’er could help but smile and said: “What are you saying?”

The girl with the longest braids, the biggest eyes and the sweetest smile all of these girls said: “We speak Tibetan, are you…. A Han Chinese?”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said: “I think so.”

All the other girls giggled.

The girl with the sweetest smile asked: “What is your name?”

Xiao Yu’er replied: “Xiao Yu’….no! My family name is Jiang, I am Jiang Yu.”

The girl laughed: “Xiao Yu (little fish), I have heard that the fish in the rivers taste very good. Unfortunately, I have never tasted fish before.”

She translated what she said in Tibetan to the other girls and the girls started laughing.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Apart from you, don’t they know how to talk?”

The girl smiled: “They know how to talk, but do not know Han Chinese.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Why can’t they speak Han Chinese and why can you?”

The girl replied: “My father was a Han Chinese.”

She looked proudly now and smiled very confidently and said: “In the entire tribe, my Han Chinese is the best. That is why this time everyone asked me to represent them when doing business with all the Han Chinese.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “You’re not only pretty but also very capable.”

She blushed and the in light of the campfire she looked even more ravishing.

She said, still blushing: “You really know how to talk. Aren’t you travelling with them? Why have you arrived here first? They are….”

Xiao Yu’er interrupted her: “I came here on my own.”

The girl was surprised and her exclaimed with shock: “On…your own? You….you are very brave.”

Xiao Yu’er asked with a smile: “What is your name?”

The girl giggled sweetly and said: “If my name was translated to Han Chinese, I would be called Peach Blossom. And a lot of people say that my face….resembles a flower of a peach tree.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Peach Blossom? I have never seen that before, but I am sure you’re prettier.”

Peach Blossom giggled: “I’ve never had fish from the river before, but I am sure you taste sweeter.”

At this point a lot men walked about the tents, all of them stared at Xiao Yu’er. They were not very tall, but were all quite muscular.

Xiao Yu’er said: “I have to go now.”

Peach Blossom said: “Don’t be afraid! Although they are staring at you, they have no bad intentions.”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “I am not afraid, but I really have to leave now.”

Peach Blossom blinked a few times and bit her lip before saying softly: “Don’t leave, tomorrow morning many Han Chinese will arrive. There will be lots of fun and joy.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “A lot of people? On my way here, in total I haven’t seen even ten men.”

Peach Blossom said: “It’s true, I won’t lie to you.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “But, tonight…”

Peach Blossom lowered her head and smiled: “Tonight you can sleep in my tent, you can talk to me the entire night.” She was taller than Xiao Yu’er, the wind blew strands of her in his face, and her eyes were brighter than the stars.

The tent was warm and cosy and there was the aroma of milk.

When Xiao Yu’er took off his clothes, Peach Blossom stared at him.

She gently caressed his scars and said softly: “Poor you. How come you have so many injuries? But somehow those scars look good on you. You look more handsome with those scars.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Although I was injured, but the wolves and tigers that wounded are dead.”

Peach Blossom exclaimed with surprise: “You…. You killed tigers?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Not too many, just four or five.”

Peach Blossom looked at him completely mesmerized.

Xiao Yu’er said: “Don’t you believe me?”

Peach Blossom replied: “I believe you, why shouldn’t I believe you?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “But why should I believe what I say?”

Peach Blossom was a bit surprised by that comment, but said sweetly: “Because you’re my young brother. When I first say you, I just wanted to have a younger brother just like you…”

Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily: “Having a brother like me is not a good thing.”

This night, Xiao Yu’er deliberately slept very tight. Normally he is a light sleeper, but tonight he would not be disturbed by any noises. When he woke up, Peach Blossom was gone, but she left a bottle of sheep’s milk next to his pillow.

Xiao Yu’er drank the milk and put on his clothes and walked out of the tent. He saw that eight metres away, new tents were set up. People from here walked to the new encampment.

From afar saw Peach Blossom standing between a group of Tibetans and Han Chinese, she was smiling sweetly and was chirping like a bird.

Her braids swayed in the wind, the sunlight shone on her pretty face. She really looked like a peach blossom, however no peach blossoms in the world could be prettier than her.

Every time after she spoke, a Tibetan and Han Chinese would shake their hands. A transaction was made and with each transaction she smiled even sweeter.

Xiao Yu’er walked over, but did not call her. He was looking about and saw that outside every tent all sorts of merchandise were displayed. A group of tall or short and fat or skinny men would stand next to the merchandise, and another group of tall or short and fat or skinny Tibetan merchants would look at the merchandise and select what they wanted.

Xiao Yu’er was interested what these people were doing, even though he thought they were quite ignorant. Suddenly he understood that most people in this world were ignorant.

A tall and skinny man pulled a spirited horse for a walk; the horse was as white as snow. The manes of the horse danced in the wind attracting Xiao Yu’er’s attention.

Xiao Yu’er could not help himself and asked: “Is this horse for sale?”

The tall and skinny man observed Xiao Yu’er carefully and said: “Do you want to buy? Tell your parents to come and we will talk.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Why should I call my parents? With money I am an adult.”

The tall and skinny man laughed: “Do you have money?”

Xiao Yu’er patted himself on his waist and said: “Not money, but I have plenty of gold.”

The skinny man laughed even louder now, he kept his eyes on the bundle around Xiao Yu’er waist. He gently stroked the manes of the horse and laughed: “This is a wonderful horse, it will cost you a lot.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I don’t care what it cost, name your price.”

The skinny man blinked his eyes and stuttered: “This horse is at least worth….a hundred…a hundred and ninety taels of silver.”

Xiao Yu’er thought for a moment before shaking his head and said: “The price you name is not correct.”

The smile on the skinny man’s face was gone and had made place for an earnest expression, he said: “Why is it incorrect? How would you know? This is a good horse, it is worth at least…”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “I know it’s fine horse, therefore I think the price should be 380 taels of silver. 190 taels of silver do not do the horse justice.”

The skinny man was puzzled at first; suddenly he burst out in anger: “What is the idea?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I never joke about gold, one tael of gold is worth 60 taels of silver. So seven of these leaves made of gold should cover it, here you are.”

The skinny man was stunned, and confusingly accepted the gold and dumbfounded handed over the horse. Fortunately he had tight grip, otherwise he would have dropped his gold.

Xiao Yu’er smilingly pulled the horse along and continued walking about.

He noticed that there were more dumb people than smart people in this world. He also observed that ugly people were also in the majority and good-looking people in the minority.

He saw a young man in white, who was very different than the rest.

That young man kept a distance from the rest, like he was too good to mingle with this lot.

He put his hands behind his back, and his white clothes swayed in the wind like floating from MountKunlun. His eyes were as bright as the stars last night.

Xiao Yu’er unintentionally observed that young man for a short while, the young man looked at Xiao Yu’er too. Xiao Yu’er smiled to him, but he did not respond. Subsequently, Xiao Yu’er made a funny face to him; the young man turned his face away from Xiao Yu’er.

Xiao Yu’er muttered to himself: “Aren’t we conceited? Since you ignore me, why should I pay attention to you? It is not like I crave for you attention.” He deliberately raised his voice, hoping that young man would hear him.

But the young man did not hear him.

Xiao Yu’er walked towards the nearest stall where that young man stood and looked at the merchandise and jewellery. The jewellery shone brightly, like it wanted to lure people to buy it.

He picked up a pearl ornament shaped like a flower looking at the young man; he said: “Is this for sale?”

The young man naturally would not respond, a short and fat man with a big hat replied with a warm smile: “This young master really has taste. A pearl ornament like this is very rare on the market.”

He was looking at the bundle hanging from Xiao Yu’er’s waist, he saw Xiao Yu’er buying that horse earlier.

Xiao Yu’er asked: “How much?”

The fat man replied: “Forty… Fifty….No, seventy taels of silver.”

Xiao Yu’er repeated: “Seventy taels of silver?”

The fat man was a bit flustered and said: “Seventy… seventy taels of silver is not expensive, right?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “The pearl is fake!”

The fat man said: “A fake? Who says that? It is….it’s an insult.”

When he is not laughing all the fat flesh on his face look like a lump of dead meat.

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “Since I was two years old, I have started to use real pearls as marbles. I just have to smell it and I can tell the difference between the real thing or not.”

The fat man exploded with anger and thought [How is possible that is brat has become smart now?], but he put on the face of being unjustly wronged and said: “How….how about 60 taels?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly: “You’re wrong again. Real pearls have to fish from the sea, while fake pearls have to be made with a lot effort. And you have to make them look real, so fake pearls are much more expensive.”

The fat man was confused and stuttered: “This…. That…”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Real pearls cost 70 taels of silver, but imitations should cost double. So, two taels of gold….”

He is hoping that the young man would look at him and smile to him.

However, the young man did not look at him and had walked away.

Xiao Yu’er hurriedly threw down the gold and said: “Here are three taels of gold.”

He did not even bother to look at the fat man, who was flabbergasted. He quickly gave chase, but the young man was gone.

Xiao Yu’er was a bit disappointed and bit his lip thinking. Suddenly a hand pulled him away and started to run, the hand was delicate and warm. It was Peach Blossom, who pulled him away.

They ran back to Peach Blossom’s tent hand in hand, her face was red and she was panting. She stamped her feet lightly and pouted: “You, little fool. If you wanted to buy things, come to me. Those merchants have tricked you. That is horse is not even worth 80 taels of silver and that pearl ornament is not even…”

Xiao Yu’er interrupted her and said: “It’s not even worth 10 taels, is it?”

Peach Blossom was surprised and said: “You know this?”

Xiao Yu’er replied: “How would an intelligent person like me not know?”

Peach Blossom asked: “But how come you were swindled by them?”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled: “Being swindled is sometimes gaining an advantage.”

Peach Blossom looked at him, like she saw some strange creature, she never saw such a strange boy before in her life.

Xiao Yu’er put the pearl ornament in the hair of Peach Blossom and laughed: “Good sister, don’t be angry! Look, with that pearl, you look just like a princess. Unfortunately, there isn’t a prince to match the princess.”

Peach Blossom laughed and said: “Aren’t you that silly prince?”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said: “You’re saying that I am silly? Well, you’ll soon find out that I am not silly. Furthermore, I get even with those merchants who swindled me.”

Peach Blossom asked with surprise: “Are you planning on tricking them?”

Xiao Yu’er shook his head and smiled, he just patted the head of his horse. He said: “Good horse! Just stand here and attract those who want to swindle me.”

The horse neighed softly and went outside the tent, Xiao Yu’er pulled his tail making sure it would not run off too far.

Peach Blossom sighed softly: “You are one strange boy. Everything you say or do is so confusing. Nobody understands what you’re planning.”

Before Xiao Yu’er could answer, he heard a group of people calling.

A hoarse voice sighed: “Is the young master who purchased the horse in here?”

Xiao Yu’er made a funny face and laughed softly: “The fools have arrived.”

He suddenly pushed Peach Blossom over and used the blankets to cover her up, he said: “Stay there! Don’t move or talk.”

Peach Blossom was full of doubt but before she could say anything, Xiao Yu’er said loudly: “Yes, I am here. Come in.”

Ten men came in, the leader of this bunch was the skinny man who sold Xiao Yu’er the horse.

All ten of them had parcels big or small, the one with the biggest parcel was the fat man of earlier. He looked even fatter now, with that big bundle in his hands.

Xiao Yu’er deliberately frowned and asked: “What do you want? You have brought a lot of goods with you…”

The skinny man bowed respectfully and smiled: “Fine goods should only be sold to a true connoisseur. All of them heard that young master is a true connoisseur. So they came over to show their goods to you.”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “Do you want me to be deceived again?”

The skinny man quickly said: “No such thing! No such thing. Come, show your products to this young master.”

Before he finished everyone had already opened their packages.

There were many nice goods, like jewellery and other treasures. But some even had animal hides, antlers and musk. They just bought these goods from the Tibetans.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I like everything here, I will buy everything.”

All the ten men laughed happily and said simultaneously: “Young master, it is wonderful that you want to buy everything.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Please wrap it up for me.”

A few of those men wrapped everything up into one big bundle, the bundle was even bigger than Xiao Yu’er. No ordinary man can lift that.

The fat man cautiously asked: “But how about the….”
Xiao Yu’er interrupted him: “You want to be paid now? That is very easy, just tell me how much you are asking?”

Seven, eight men spoke at the same time revealing the price of their products, somehow everything cost 7, 8 times more expensive than normal.

Peach Blossom could not take it anymore and wanted to come out, but Xiao Yu’er pushed her head down and she could not get up.

She heard him say: “How much in total?”

The skinny man was the best in arithmetic and said: “A total of 6600 taels of silver.”

Xiao Yu’er shook his head and said: “That is not right.”

The skinny and the fat man heard Xiao Yu’er say something like that before and knew he had the habit of raising the price himself. The others had of course heard of this marvellous habit.

All of them smiled and said: “Yes, the price is incorrect. Young master, would you be so kind to tell us what the correct price is.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Me? Are you sure? Won’t you object?”

A few immediately replied: “We won’t have any objections. We will abide by your wishes.”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “If that’s the case, let’s see how much I am going to give you….”

He opened the bundle tied around his waist again, and the merchants had their eyes fixed on that bundle of gold.

Xiao Yu’er took out one leave and smiled: “This is all I will give.”

A few of those men were dumbfounded, the skinny man stuttered: “Young…. Master, are you joking?”

Xiao Yu’er looked very seriously and said: “I told you before that I never joke about gold. Furthermore, you said that you will abide by my wishes. Do you wish to go back on your words?”

He threw the leave of gold on the ground and picked up the bundle of goods, although the bundle was bigger than him but he had no problems lifting it.

Peach Blossom could not hold back her smile anymore, and she saw that all of those men were looking furiously and gave chase.

She could hear some of them yelling: “The little swindler, return our goods!”

She heard Xiao Yu’er saying: “Who is a swindler? You’re the swindlers!”

Afterwards she could hear some painful moans and cries for help, and some loud thud sounds.

She was shocked for awhile, finally she could not help herself and ran outside to have a look. All ten of those fellows were lying on the ground. Xiao Yu’er had easily defeated the entire lot, they had bruises and some even had broken legs and they could not get up.

Peach Blossom was surprised, she knew that these merchants were quite strong and had learnt martial arts. She never thought a boy like Xiao Yu’er could defeat them.

She was flabbergasted for a few moments, when she turned her head around…. The sun shone very brightly today, but the strange boy and the horse were gone.

The horse carried the big parcel and Xiao Yu’er pulled the horse. Both man and horse ran about 2,5 kilometres, Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily every time he thought of the expressions of those merchants.

Around noon, the sun was getting hotter and hotter. Although Xiao Yu’er was not unaffected by but his horse was feeling tired. In the prairie there was hardly anything, let alone a cool, shady spot.

Xiao Yu’er thought about something for a moment and then opened the big parcel, he took out the antler’s of antelope and watched for awhile. He laughed and then threw the antler away as far as possible.

While he was walking he threw this and that away, every item was worth a fortune but he did not care. He was laughing happily and throwing everything away.

When almost everything was chucked away, he patiently packed the items in smaller bundles and threw the bundles in the long grass. When he was done, he clapped his hands and shouted: “That felt good!”

Suddenly a sweet voice yelled: “Xiao Yu’er! Jiang Yu, don’t go! Wait for me!”

A horse swiftly galloped towards him, the rider wore a beautiful, colourful gown. The girl had beautiful, dark hair in braids and her face was all red now. It was Peach Blossom.

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and praised: “Excellent riding! And most pretty!”

When the horse was almost near Xiao Yu’er, Peach Blossom stood on the back of the horse and made a somersault. Xiao Yu’er was shocked and before he knew it, Peach Blossom was standing in front of him.

She bit her lip and stamped her feet gently, her eyes were watery. It seems that she just cried or she was about to cry. She was panting and pouted: “Why did you leave without saying anything to me?”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “I made a mess of things, I did not want to implicate you.”

Peach Blossom pouted: “But why did you have to deceive those men?”

Xiao Yu’er answered: “They deceived me in the first place, why shouldn’t I return the favour?”

Peach Blossom was a bit shocked and asked: “Where are the goods?”

Xiao Yu’er answered: “I threw them away.”

Peach Blossom was really shocked now and exclaimed: “Threw away? Why did you do that?”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “I let those things ride the horse and I had to walk the entire way in the burning sun. I was such a fool, so I decided to throw those things away.”

Peach Blossom was dumbfounded and said: “Those things cost a fortune, don’t you care?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Why should I care? Those things were not the only valuables in the world, and if I really wanted those things I can get anytime I want.”

Peach Blossom exclaimed with shock: “You are really a little idiot.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily and said after awhile: “I threw those things away, someone is bound to find sometime. If the finders are good people, they will be very happy. And I will be happy too, when I imagine their faces finding all those treasures. Even happier than when I am cracking my head open on how to spend those valuables.”

Peach Blossom asked: “If bad men would find it?”

Xiao Yu’er replied: “If bad men would find it, they would fight over how to divide it and kill each other over it.”

Peach Blossom asked: “Will you be happy about that?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Why shouldn’t I be happy about that? In fact I will be ecstatic if that happens.”

Peach Blossom said: “You’re really wicked.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Furthermore, if lazy people would find one parcel or one item, they would stop doing anything else and will want to find more treasures. They will search and search till they drop dead from starvation.”

He added with laughter: “You see, by just throwing away a few items I might change the fates of I don’t know how many people. I think this is very funny.”

Peach Blossom stood there not knowing what to say or what to do, finally she sighed softly: “You are really a little demon king.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Fine, earlier you called me a fool, now I am an idiot, a wicked person and a little demon king. If I am all of the things you say I am, why do you come after me?”

Peach Blossom lowered her head and said softly: “I just… I just wanted to ask you something…Why did you leave without saying goodbye.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Since I am set on going, why should I say goodbye? What is the use? If I said goodbye and you can forget about me, I will gladly say it. But I am afraid you won’t be able to forget about me.”

Peach Blossom raised her head defiantly and said loudly: “Why can’t I forget about you?”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “Anyone who meets me cannot forget about me.”

Peach Blossom just looked at him and tears were running over her cheeks.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Why are you crying? Besides I am too young, I can’t be your husband. And you’re pretty, so you should not worry about not finding a husband.”

Peach Blossom screamed: “You’re…..You’re a…..”

She could not think of any terms to name this [monster], she turned around and mounted her horse and rode away. She used whipped her horse maliciously.

Xiao Yu’er sighed and shook his head: “Women….(sigh*). They’re all mad.”

He stroked the manes of his horse and said to himself: “Horsy, if you’re as smart as I am, you should get close to women. And never let women ride you, otherwise you’ll only have bad luck. If they are angry, they will vent their anger at you and your behind. The behind of her horse must be red and swollen beyond recognition.”

He mounted his horse and wanted to ride away, but suddenly he was blocked by someone.

Under the sun, he saw a man in white clothes looking sternly and his face was filled with anger. But somehow he did not look angry but cute.

Xiao Yu’er recognized him as the conceited young man in white, he was surprised and asked with a smile: “Oh, it’s you, are you enjoying the sun?”

The young man answered coldly: “I am here to waiting for you.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Waiting for me? You just ignored me earlier, why….”

The young man rudely interrupted: “Enough nonsense! Hand it over!”

Xiao Yu’er was surprised and asked: “Hand what over?”

The young man answered: “The thing you swindled!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Oh that! Well, if I knew you wanted those goods, I would have left them for you. But now…. (*Sigh), I have thrown them away.”

The young man angrily said: “Thrown away! Are you trying to deceive me?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Why should I lie to you? And why should I keep those useless objects in the first place?”

Xiao Yu’er added with a laugh: “Hey! Did you know that when you’re angry your face is all red? You look very pretty; you look just like a girl. I met a girl earlier, whose face would also turn red when she is angry and she is very pretty too. You and her really look like a couple, should I introduce her to you?”

The young man’s face was even redder now, he wanted to look even angry but he could not. He was just staring at Xiao Yu’er and said sternly: “If you really lost those goods, you have to pay.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Do you really want me to pay?”

The young man answered: “Of course!”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “And the reason why you came after me is because of those goods?”

The young man loudly answered: “Yes, of course!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I don’t think so. You don’t care whether those foolish merchants are alive or dead, why would you be concerned if they’re deceived. Furthermore, they deserved to be tricked. So I think you’re not here for those items, but you’re here because of me.”

The face of the young man was even redder now and he shouted: “Indeed! I am here because of you; I have noticed that you’re the troublemaker at such young age. I fear what will happen what you grow older.”

Xiao Yu’er touched his own head and laughed: “Do you want to kill me?”

The young man scoffed: “Killing you wouldn’t be injustice. However, you’re still young, you could be saved. The first thing you have to do is become my disciple. I will teach you the right way and you might be saved.”

Xiao Yu’er looked at him for a while before bursting out in laughter, he was laughing so hard that he could not stand straight and said: “You want me to become your pupil?”

The young man angrily said: “What is so funny about that?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “There is nothing wrong of having a handsome teacher like you, but what can you teach me? Are you really stronger than me? I think…..You should become my pupil.”

The young man sneered: “Do you wish to learn martial arts?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly: “Do you really think your martial arts are better than mine?”

The young man angrily said: “I am the best expert of the entire Sichuan province.”

Xiao Yu’er calmly said: “If you’re really the number one expert of Sichuan province, you would not flee to these parts, would you? You’re not here to do business or to have fun, so you must have come here to flee from your adversaries?”

The expression of the young man changed, it seems that Xiao Yu’er had perceived his actions. He looked hostile and roared: “Who are you? Where do you come from?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Don’t ask who I am and don’t you mind where I came from. If you think that you are stronger than me, let us have a small duel. Whoever loses shall have to become the pupil of the victor.”

The young man scorned: “Very well, I would like to see where you learnt your martial arts.”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “Whoever loses shall have to become the pupil of the victor, you agreed to this, so no backing out later on….”

Before he finished, he dismounted from his horse and kicked towards the eyes of the young man in midair.

The young man did not expect that Xiao Yu’er would attack that fast and was taken by surprise. But the martial arts of this young man were not bad, it seems he had a lot of fighting experience too.

Although flustered he did not back away, instead he advanced forward and manoeuvred behind Xiao Yu’er’s back. Without turned his head around, he struck his palm out, that attack was both swift and beautiful, he could also accurately recognize the acupoints of his adversary without looking.

Originally, Xiao Yu’er thought he would gain the upper hand if he could attack first, however now the tables have turned. He made a somersault forward and landed 1,5 metres away. He laughed: “Wait a moment!”

The young man stopped his advancement and asked: “Wait for what?”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Can you really see who my teacher is?”

The young man scoffed: “Within ten stances.”

Xiao Yu’er shook his head and smiled: “I don’t believe you.”

His smile became even more enchanting now, and suddenly he made two fists and attacked without notice. His smile was most charming and friendly, but his hands were lethal. This was a typical trait of Ha Ha’er.

Xiao Yu’er tricked the young man now, the advantage he had earlier was lost now. He even backed away a few steps.

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “I think you….”

Before he finished the young man advanced forward, risking being hit by the two fists of Xiao Yu’er but his elbow was aimed at the chest of his opponent.

This time Xiao Yu’er was shocked, he did not want to be struck at the chest, he waved arms and fell over and avoided that blow. The young man would not leave it at that and followed tightly, his fists attacked fiercely and the stances were very lethal.

Xiao Yu’er retaliated his hands would turn into fists and palms randomly. The stances he used were suddenly dangerous or strange, powerful and suddenly soft. Neither Yin nor Yang, neither aggressive nor calm.

He was integrating the lethalness of Du Sha’s, the treacherousness of Yin Jiuyou, the aggressiveness of Li Dazui, the softness of Du Qiaoqiao and Ha Ha’er’s aspects into one.

With martial arts like that, he was able to roam the realm without facing too much opponents, but the fist style of that young man was similar to a violent storm. He attack ferociously and Xiao Yu’er was panting now.

The young man was also shocked; he never imagined that this boy’s martial arts would have so many changes. He could not tell whom his teacher(s) was/were.

Suddenly Xiao Yu’er yelled: “Stop!”

The young man said: “Fine, I will stop.”

While he was talking he attacked with six fists.

Xiao Yu’er shunned and dodged and managed to retaliate with three palms and called out loudly: “This is called stopping!”

The young man scoffed: “I won’t be deceived this time.”

Xiao Yu’er was both fighting and talking: “Ten stances have already passed. Can you tell me what school I belong to? If not, hear me out.”

The young man slowed down a bit, giving Xiao Yu’er the chance to back away and he laughed: “Well, can you tell me?”

The young man stopped too and sneered: “Of course not, you belong to no school.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “It is not that I do not belong to any school, but I just belong to too many schools. That is why you cannot recognize my style.”

The young man asked: “To what schools do you belong?”

Xiao Yu’er answered: “Well, to tell you the truth. I learnt martial arts from five different persons. And the martial arts of them consist of a lot of schools too, each of their style is complex and strange….”

The young man interrupted: “I am familiar to all the martial arts styles of all the famous martial artists of entire China. You do not belong to any of those styles and schools, I think your teachers were just ordinary practitioners of martial arts who sell their lowly skills on markets hoping people will buy their medicine.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Ordinary practitioners of martial arts! The names of those five you scare the living daylights out of you. But it is that when the five of them retired you were still in your nappies.”

The young man angrily said: “How can compare the martial arts of heretics with mine!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Your martial arts are quite good too, I never thought that someone so refined looking would use the martial arts of a madman.”

The young man retorted: “What do you know? My 108 Frenetic stances are ranked very high in the various boxing styles of all martial arts schools.”

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed: “108 Frenetic Stances? All the madmen would use martial arts like that; it’s a shame that you’re too handsome. It is such waste that you learnt something like that.”

The young man said: “It seems to be a shame, but those suffering from a hit will know the real power behind it.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I don’t want to learn it, but I also don’t want to suffer a hit….”

After he finished he threw himself towards the young man, his palms made a whooshing sound.

The young man had anticipated that and struck out with two fist attacks to block the two palms of Xiao Yu’er.

Xiao Yu’er did not engage the young man head on; he kept changing positions and would strike out a palm and fist.

This set of 108 Frenetic Stances was quite powerful, frenetic was the word here. It proved to be more effective than the lethalness, treachery, aggressiveness and softness of Du Sha, Yin Jiuyou, Li Dazui and Du Qiaoqiao. Xiao Yu’er was really quite tired out by it.

After another ten bouts, Xiao Yu’er shouted: “Stop! Your boxing style is quite good, I am willing to learn.”

The young man twirled away for a metre or so and was panting; he thought that this boy was not easy to deal with.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “No wonder people say that sane people should never fight with madmen. You can never defeat insane people. Now, I know why.”

The young man asked: “Have you finally realised how good I am?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “It’s a shame that you’re not insane. Otherwise, your boxing style would be even more impressive. However, I do fear the longer your practice this style, the chances are big that you will end up being mad.”

The young man frowned and said: “Since you’re willing to become my pupil, you should not be rude.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I only want to learn your boxing style, I never said I would become your pupil. Teachers can also learn styles from their disciples, don’t you agree?”

The young man angrily said: “Do you want to fight again?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “No, of course not. If you launch another attack, you will cough up blood and die. I am telling for your own good, you must believe me.”

The young man was furious but laughed coldly: “You little brat! Do you really think I will fall for your lies!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Why should I lie to you? I won’t lie to you, haven’t you heard of a secret skill in the realm called the [Icy wind palms of seven steps]. In other words anyone who has suffered a blow from this palm style will die after walking seven steps.”

The young man said: “Rubbish! There is no such martial arts in the realm.”

Although he said he did not believe Xiao Yu’er, he was feeling weak in his legs now.

Xiao Yu’er looked at him and said: “Although this style has vanished for over a hundred years, however I had the luck to learn this palm technique. And I….”

The young man scoffed: “And you used it on me?”

Although he said he did not believe Xiao Yu’er, but he would not move another step now. No matter who asked him to walk, the name was quite scary already.

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and said: “You’re right. I gently patted you with this technique, if you will become my student I can save you.”

The young man sneered: “If you think I will be tricked by you that easily, you are dead wrong.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “You don’t believe me? Touch the third rib on your left side, if it hurts that means you suffered a blow from the Icy wind palms of seven steps.”

The young man just scoffed.

During his sneering, he touched his third rib on his left side and suddenly his face changed.

Xiao Yu’er looked at his own shadow and asked: “Does it hurt?”

The young man’s hand was trembling and said loudly: “Of course it hurts, that is because that particular spot is easily hurt.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “This pain is different, this pain is greater. Like being pierced by needles and burnt by fire. The pain feels like burning.”

He looked at the hand of the young man and said: “Touch this spot, not there…… A bit more to the left, lower.”

The young man did what he was asked.

Suddenly Xiao Yu’er said loudly: “Yes, that is the spot. Press it.”

The young man did what he was instructed.

Suddenly he felt numb and fell down and could not get up.

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed: “Well, even if you’re as cunning as a fox, now you are mine. Finally, you have fallen for my trap, do you know how you were subdued?”

The young man looked at him hatefully but did not speak.

Xiao Yu’er said: “I will tell you, there is no such thing as Icy wind palms of seven steps. Even if there was I would not know of it. However, there is a secretive skill that does exist and it is called Sealing blood and Arteries technique.”

He ran off to pull his horse back, which had ran off quite far by now. The young man carefully observed Xiao Yu’er and it seemed he wanted to hear the further explanation.

Xiao Yu’er continued: “Sealing blood and sealing acupoints are practically the same concept. But with sealing acupoints is sealing fixed positions on someone’s body, but sealing blood is different.”

He casually sealed the Qimen and Qixue nong acupoints of the young man, he laughed: “You see what I mean.”

After demonstrating that, he patted the young man beneath his ribs and said: “Sealing blood means stopping your blood from circulating, when your blood doesn’t circulate, you can’t move and will fall over. With sealing blood you have to seal off the right arteries, veins at the right moment. Do you understand the basic difference now?”

The young man had never heard of this before and listened attentively and replied: “Yes, now I understand.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “You can’t seal someone’s blood off too long or else he will die. So that is why I allowed your circulation to continue and that is why you can talk now.”

Although the young man was still fuming, he could not help himself to ask: “So that is why you were looking at your shadow, you were calculating where and when my blood was circulating and told me to press that particular spot.”

Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed: “Very smart! You starting to learn.”

The young man gritted his teeth and said: “Although you have learnt that method, but you just know the basic. If not you would not trick me into sealing my own blood circulation, you could have done it yourself.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly and said: “Very true! You’re absolutely right. Because the teacher, who taught me this, is the best physician alive. But his martial arts are quite low, he knows the entire human physiology like the back of his hand and can calculate the blood circulation of anyone. Unfortunately, he does know how to seal blood. That is also the reason why I asked you to do it for me.”

He paused for a moment and continued: “Because you were ready to fight at any time, so your internal energy was flowing through the tips of your fingers. And when I told you to use force, your energy flowed out through your fingers. Naturally, I would not ask you to seal your own acupoints and that is why even asked to press a region with no acupoints at all. That is why you did not notice anything wrong.”

The young man angrily said: “That is just underhanded trickery!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Do you even realise how much knowledge and insight is needed to perform such trickery? First, I have to make sure you are on your guard; otherwise your energy will flow out of your fingers by itself. Secondly, I have to come up with something icy wind palms of seven steps to confuse you.”

The young man sighed: “Those two steps alone were enough.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Not enough, I had to some basics on sealing blood and so. I had calculate your blood flow and take into account that you would not be suspicious too.”

Xiao Yu’er patted himself on the chest and said: “This is the perfect combination of martial arts and intelligence. If my martial arts weren’t high, you would not be on your guard. And if I weren’t smarter, you would not be that cautious either. I had to make sure you would first be on your guard and later on I had to make sure you would drop your guard. So, you see I am superior to you in everything. You should be happy to have a teacher like me.”

The young man shouted: “You will never be my teacher!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “We both agreed to the terms before we fought, how can you go back on your words.”

The young man’s face became red and said: “Just kill me!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Why should I kill you? If you won’t keep your word, I will just cut off your noise, poke out your eyes and cut off your tongue. And then….”

The young man yelled: “I am not even afraid of dying, why should I be afraid of that.”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said: “Are you really not afraid?”

The young man scoffed.

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “Allright, since you’re not afraid I will change tactics.”

The young man said loudly: “I am not afraid of anything!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I will hang you on a tree remove your trousers and spank your buttocks. Are you afraid?”

He knew that some people are not afraid of death and pain, but when they are faced with the fact their trousers will be removed and being spanked they will simply die.

The face of the young man changed, first from white to red.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “You’re finally afraid, call me [master] now!”

The young man was trembling and shouted: “You’re a monster!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “You’re not calling me [master], but you’re calling me a monster. Fine.”

He moved forward to pull the girdle of the young man.

Suddenly the young man shouted: “Master, master!”

After calling two times [master], tears were running over his cheeks.

Xiao Yu’er immediately wiped away the tears and said softly: “Why are you crying? With a teacher like me you should feel proud. Since you have acknowledged me as your teacher, there is really no point in crying…you’re still crying, if you don’t stop I will still have to spank you.”

The young man bit his lip and tried his best to stop crying in a few moments, he stopped.

Xiao Yu’er said: “That’s a good boy! Right, tell me your name.”

The young man said: “I am Tie Xinnan.”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled: “Sorry, Tie Xinlan was it? The character [lan] (orchid *) as in flower?”

The young man said loudly: “No, the nan character as in man.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Allright, Tie Xinnan, it is. A good name! Although you have some feminine features, but you really have a name of a true man.”

Tie Xinnan lifted his head and said: “You!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Although I am tougher than you are, my name is not that tough. My name is Jiang Yu. Someone told me that the fishes of the river are very good, have you ever had some?”

Tie Xinnan said hatefully: “Yes, I really would like to eat some.”

She wanted to eat something, but not fish but the flesh of Xiao Yu’er.

Xiao Yu’er laughed and put his arm near his mouth and said: “If you want to, you can have a bite.”

Tie Xinnan was stunned.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Do you want to have a bite? To tell you the truth, I know every thought of yours.”

Tie Xinnan sighed; he did not know what to do except sighing.

Xiao Yu’er asked: “How old are you?”

Tie Xinnan replied: “At least two years older than you.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Say, that is true, but you can still learn from someone younger than you.”

Suddenly Xiao Yu’er was interrupted and he heard someone calling: “Xiao Yu’er! Xiao Yu’er!”

A horse sped by and the rider was Peach Blossom, but her face was not red but pale. It was like she had seen a ghost. She quickly dismounted and hugged Xiao Yu’er and panted: “Thank you Allah, I have finally found him.”

Xiao Yu’er was a bit surprised.

Peach Blossom said: “Please come with me now! You can do with whatever you want when this is over.”

She was crying as she spoke.

Xiao Yu’er sighed: “Another one in tears, how troublesome.”

He used his sleeve to wipe away her tears and said: “Don’t cry. Your eyes are all swollen. If you don’t stop crying you have to change your name into Peach, because your eyes will look like peaches.”

Peach Blossom smiled, Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Crying and smiling….”

Before he could finish, she started to weep again; she pulled the sleeve of Xiao Yu’er to wipe away her tears and said while crying: “When I was angered by you, I did not want to go back immediately. So rode around for some time, when I decided to return I saw that something had happened at home.”

Xiao Yu’er asked with a smile: “Someone smeared tears on your new clothes?”

Peach Blossom did not hear him and said: “I heard the men shouting frantically and the women crying. I could also hear whipping sounds and several hoarse voices shouting to form a row or else he would kill.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Good imitations!”

Peach Blossom said: “Originally I intended to go over, but I decided to dismount and crawl over to observe what they were doing. Fortunately, the grass was long and they could not see me. But I noticed that a group of men had surrounded us. They had whips in their hands and looked very mean, they looked like robbers.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Interesting, robbers have come.”

Peach Blossom continued: “These robbers rounded up our people and the Han Chinese, I saw them using whips to hit my people. I was heartbroken.”

Xiao Yu’er commented: “The robbers in the prairie are quite nasty.”

Peach Blossom said: “The prairie has robbers too, but this is a different group.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “How would you know? Do they usual robbers know you?”

Peach Blossom said: “The robbers of the prairie are Han Chinese too, but out of habit they wear clothes similar to ours. These robbers wore different clothes and their horses are not from Tibet. Tibetan horses have longer legs, they were riding horses from Sichuan, those horses have shorter legs.”

Xiao Yu’er stopped laughing now, he frowned and said: “These people travelled 100 of kilometres and more, it is only natural to assume they are not here for simple cattle and goods.”

Peach Blossom said: “They are not here from goods, but for people.”

Xiao Yu’er looked at her and said: “For people? For who? You?”

Peach Blossom bit her lip and said: “Han Chinese girls are prettier than me and Tibetan girls…. They are looking for a Han Chinese, they followed him here. According to their spies, they saw him walking about near our tents. Now, they are forcing us to hand over that man.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Did your people hand him out?”

Peach Blossom said: “Who don’t even know who he is. And they have searched the tents themselves and found nothing. So they said we must have hidden him and they gave us one hour to hand him out…..Or else they would rape the women and kill the men.”

When she finished her story, she was in tears again.

She was crying out on Xiao Yu’er’s shoulder: “I am begging you to rescue them, I know you are very capable. You even killed tigers, although those robbers are mean they are still humans and cannot be fiercer than tigers.”

Xiao Yu’er sighed: “You’re wrong there, men can be fiercer than tigers.”

Peach Blossom said: “But you have to go back and save them…..You have to!”

Xiao Yu’er asked slowly: “Do you have any idea who they want?”

Peach Blossom said: “Initially, I thought they were after you. However, afterwards I heard them saying that they were after a boy with the family name Tie. Do you know who that is?”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “Family name is Tie….I haven’t heard of him….I.”

Tie Xinnan heard the entire story and loudly said: “My family name is Tie, they are after me.”

Peach Blossom stared at him with shock.

Xiao Yu’er touched his head and smiled wryly: “Little fool, why did you have to talk.”

Tie Xinnan ignored him and asked loudly: “Is there a girl amongst those robbers?”

Peach Blossom stuttered: “No…No…”

She never imagined that those mean robbers were after a handsome and elegant young man; she was surprised and stopped crying.

Tie Xinnan said loudly: “Fine! Since they’ve found me, I will go back with you.”

Peach Blossom said: “No, you can’t go back.”

Tie Xinnan said: “I am going back and that is the only way I can rescue your people.”

Peach Blossom lowered her head and said melancholically: “But you will be killed if you go back, I can’t stand by to see you get killed. Please run away now.”

Tie Xinnan sneered: “Do you think I am afraid of them? Even if there are a hundred of those fools, they are no match for me.”

Peach Blossom asked: “But if you’re not afraid, why have fled all the way to Tibet?”

Tie Xinnan said a bit taken by that remark and stuttered: “I….I…”

Peach Blossom said: “It is because you’re only afraid of that woman. When you heard there were only men, you’re not afraid anymore.”

Tie Xinnan’s face turned red and said: “Never you mind!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly: “You’re not afraid of men, but only afraid of women! That is a trait I have too, every time I see a woman my head hurts.”

Tie Xinnan said: “Release me and I will go.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “If you get killed, I will lose my pupil.”

Tie Xinnan said: “I can promise you, I will return.”

Xiao Yu’er tilted his head a bit and thought for a moment, he laughed: “Peach Blossom, do you think this student of mine is a hero?”

Peach Blossom just gazed at Tie Xinnan full of admiration and folded her palms together and said: “May Allah protect you.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “A hero saving a beautiful maiden, it will be a wonderful tale. I won’t be in your way. Fine, you can go.”

He patted her twice on her body and Tie Xinnan jumped up.

Peach Blossom said: “You….”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “You already found your hero. I will wait for you here.”

Peach Blossom said hatefully: “People who are unwilling to help others, cannot expect help themselves.”

She did not look at Xiao Yu’er and leapt up on her horse, she said: “Tie….Climb on!”

Tie Xinnan looked at Xiao Yu’er and said: “I…I…”

In the end he said nothing and mounted the horse, they rode off with great speed.

Xiao Yu’er stared at the dust cloud the horse was making and said softly: “Girls full of love won’t love the same boy for too long. Well, she is in Tie Xinnan’s hands now, I wonder how long Tie Xinnan will be stuck with her.”

He gently patted his white horse and said: “Horsy, let us go back and watch the fun. But if you see an attractive young mare, you must keep your distance. We are still young, if we are caught by women we will never be able to get away from them.”