Part 7 - Shock and Fear

“When you’ve heard this name, you should not forget it. He was the most famous swordsman of the realm, even till now nobody can match his swordsmanship.”

Tie Xinlan was seriously ill. When they arrived at Haiyan, Xiao Yu’er found the best inn and asked for the best room. The best room was already occupied by someone else, Xiao Yu’er just said: “If you leave, this ingot of gold is yours.” With that he put an ingot of gold on the table.

All he said were nine words; the occupant took the gold and left as soon as he could. Gold cannot speak, but it is more useful than saying a hundred or thousand words.

Because Tie Xinlan endured disappointment, fear, sorrow, anxiety and the cold wind of the prairie made normally very healthy and strong Tie Xinlan ill. She had a high fever and slept for an entire day.

When she woke up, she saw Xiao Yu’er boiling some herbal medicine. She tried to get up but Xiao Yu’er pushed her down. Tie Xinlan groaned: “Why? Why have…?”

Xiao Yu’er said loudly: “Don’t open your mouth!”

She saw bags under Xiao Yu’er’s eyes, it seemed he did not have a proper night of sleep for some time now. She started to cry again.

Xiao Yu’er walked over to her with a bowl of herbal medicine soup and said: “Don’t cry and drink this up! This is a very good prescription and this is best herbal soup. After drinking it, you will feel better again. Stop crying like a child, or else I will spank you.”

Tie Xinlan asked: “Who prescribed this?”

Xiao Yu’er answered: “I did.”

Tie Xinlan said: “You’re a physician too? Are there things you don’t know?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Keep your mouth shut and drink up!”

She smiled sweetly: “If I am not allowed to open my mouth, how I am going to drink your soup.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed; he suddenly noticed that girls could be very cute too. Especially, when they are smiling sweetly to you.

At dusk, Tie Xinlan was sleeping again.

Xiao Yu’er walked around in the inn aimlessly and muttered to himself: “Jiang Yu! Don’t forget, when girls smile to you they want to harm you! The gentler they are, the more dangerous your situation is. If you’re not careful, your life will be over.”

His white horse was in the stables eating grass.

Xiao Yu’er walked over and caressed his head and said: “White Cabbage, don’t worry! I won’t fall for their tricks, when she is better again I will leave at once.”

He suddenly heard horses coming this way from and stopping in front of the inn. The inn was small, but it had everything even a fine wine house.

Xiao Yu’er heard that these people came here in a hurry and decided to have a look.

From afar, he could see four, five muscular men entering the inn. They were not talking to each other and found a table and sat down. The proprietor was afraid to ask and immediately put a bottle of liquor and cups down at their table. These people just sat there, dumbfounded.

They wore expensive brocades and had swords hanging from their girdles, they looked quite impressive. But their cheeks were red and swollen, like they were slapped numerous times by someone.

After some time, two more men came in. They looked even worse, their cheeks were red and swollen too but they also had no ears. There was bloody bandage tied around where their ears supposed to be.

The first five men stared at the two newcomers totally surprised. When those two noticed the other five, they wanted to leave but it was too late. They had been seen.

Xiao Yu’er was amused and decided to hide and watch what was going on here.

Could the two groups be enemies? And they were so unfortunate to meet each other here and were going to fight each other. Xiao Yu’er did not want to go in and be involved in this.

But they were not fighting; they just looked at each other.

A muscular man of the group of five with pimples, although you could not see his red pimples clearly now due to the redness and swelling of his cheeks, he looked at those two men for a moment and laughed: “Protecting silver peacefully into Anxi…. I have heard that the two great escort guards of the Anxi guard agency never lose anything. How come you have lost your ears now? Most peculiar!”

When he laughed his cheeks hurt incredibly, but he could not help himself. Later on he covered his mouth with his hands and it looked like he was crying more than laughing.

The two men were fuming and their eyes were red now, the man on the left with a scar said coldly: “You should not laugh when your face has been slapped red and swollen. The pain will ruin the laughter.”

The man with pimples slammed his hand on the table and shouted: “What did you say?”

The man with the scar sneered: “We should make fun of each other, we’re both in the same predicament now.”

The man with the pimples jumped up and wanted to go over, the man with the scar stood up too. Xiao Yu’er thought: [They are going to fight now.]

But before they could fight, their companions to pulled them down.

The one who pulled down the man with pimples was an elderly man with a long beard. His face was not that red and swollen as the rest. He shook his hands and said with an enforced smile: “The Anxi and the Dingyuan guard agency have been rivals for a long time. Competing with each other and trying to snatch away each other’s businesses, but that is just business rivalry. We are all martial artists in the realm, let us not fight now and create more problems.”

The companion who pulled down the man with scar was a skinny man, he said with an enforced smile too: “Brother Ouyang is right. We’re all sent here to this forsaken place by our guard agencies, that is already very unfortunate. We should create even more problems now.”

The elder man with the surname Ouyang sighed: “Furthermore, we all suffered at the hands of the same person. We should unite ourselves instead of fighting each other.”

The skinny man said with surprise: “Were you assaulted by her too?”

The Ouyang elderly man smiled wryly: “Who else could it be? Who else could be that lethal and vicious? We really suffered terribly at her hands.”

With that he and the other six men sighed deeply and sat down again.

All seven of them had a different facial expression, but all had anger and hatred in their eyes.

The man with the pimples slammed his fist on the table and said angrily: “If we did something wrong and that little wretch would punish us, we would have nothing to say. But for no reason she just beat us up.”

The Ouyang elder sighed: “The weaker will be bullied by the strong, which is the universal rule of the realm. I am not looking down on us, but our martial arts are nowhere near the level of her. Even if we are unhappy, what can we do about it?”

The skinny man suddenly laughed: “But looking at that wretch it seems that she suffered a bit too at the hands of someone too. Her eyes were red; like she had been weeping bitterly and even her precious horse is gone. We just had the sheer luck of meeting her when she was furious, and she used us to vent her anger.”

The man with the pimples laughed: “Brother Xu is right. That little wretch must have met someone more formidable than her, or she could have met a handsome young fellow and lost her heart and horse to him.”

All of them laughed, even if their cheeks hurt a lot. But at least they felt a bit better and happy again.

Xiao Yu’er immediately understood that they met the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing. He too experienced her slapping methods at first hand. But these people suffered even harder than he did, she must have taken out her frustration and anger out on them.

Xiao Yu’er wanted to laugh too, but suddenly he noticed that the seven men stopped laughing. He took a look and saw that their faces were all frozen and their eyes gazed at the door, they broke out in a cold sweat.

Zhang Qing was standing at the door and slowly: “I told you to look for someone, why are you here drinking?”

Xiao Yu’er’s heart skipped a beat, he remained calm and slowly backed out. He knew very well, he was the person Zhang Qing was looking for.

Fortunately, it was dark now. Only lamps inside the rooms were lit and it was very dark outside. Xiao Yu’er drew back along the corner of a wall, he continued to back away to the stable.

He could not be seen by Zhang Qing, his horse could not be seen by her either. Unfortunately, his horse was a bit too white.

There was pool of mud near the stable, Xiao Yu’er grabbed some mud and smeared it on his horse. His horse wanted to neigh; he quickly stuffed his mouth with hay. He patted his horse and said softly: “White Cabbage, don’t make a sound! I am sorry, but it is your own fault for being so white. You’re even whiter than the skin of Tie Xinlan.”

While he was talking, his white horse was all dirty and muddy. Xiao Yu’er laughed when he saw this and wiped his hands on the tail. He quickly returned to the room.

The lamps were not lit and Tie Xinlan was awake. She looked at Xiao Yu’er with her pretty, shiny eyes, she immediately grabbed Xiao Yu’er arm and screamed: “Where are my boots?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Your boots? Those old boots of yours?”

Tie Xinlan panted: “Yes, that pair of boots.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “The soles were almost gone, so I threw them in the sewer canal.”

Tie Xinlan was trembling and repeated: “Threw away?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Even beggars won’t want those old, worn out boots of yours, why are you so anxious about them? I bought you a new pair, a hundred times better than the old ones.”

Tie Xinlan jumped off the bed and said with a shaky voice: “Where did you dump them? Take me there….”

Xiao Yu’er said pulled her arm and said: “You need not go.”

Tie Xinlan stamped her feet and said: “You, idiot! I want to look for those boots, I have hidden…”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and asked: “What have you hidden?”

Tie Xinlan said: “That item! That thing…. I almost list my life for it and now it is gone. I wish I was dead.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Didn’t you say that you did not have it?”

Tie Xinlan was weeping and said: “I lied to you.”

Xiao Yu’er sighed: “Who told you to lie to me? Now, you’ve done it. I just chucked it away and I don’t remember where I threw it away.”

Tie Xinlan fell on the bed and could not move anymore, she stuttered: “Everything is gone now….”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “It is just a piece of wrinkled, old paper. What is the fuss about it? Don’t let the anxiety make you ill again.”

Tie Xinlan immediately got up and asked: “How did you know it is a piece of paper?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “If you’re talking about that piece of paper, I already took it out of your boots. Not only is it old and wrinkle, it is smelly too. It smells like sweat.”

Tie Xinlan threw herself into his arms and hit him on the chest, she smiled and yelled: “You’re horrible! Why did you trick me?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “You lied to me first. I already guessed that it was hidden in your boots. But, I never thought you would hide it there, you are quite clever.”

Tie Xinlan said: “You’re the clever one, nothing can deceive you. You really scared the living daylights out of me.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Are you not afraid now? I have the map now.”

Tie Xinlan lowered her head and said: “Why should I be afraid when it is in your possession?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Are you not afraid I won’t return it to you?”

Tie Xinlan said: “I am not afraid.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Allright, I am not giving it back.”

Tie Xinlan said gently: “I am giving it to you.”

Xiao Yu’er looked at her with surprise and said: “But you were willing to die for it than seeing other people take it”

Tie Xinlan said: “You’re different from the rest.”

Xiao Yu’er did not understand why, but he felt happy and a sweet feeling overwhelmed him.

But immediately he convinced himself: [Jiang Yu, be careful! This sweet feeling is dangerous.]

He wanted to push her away, but he could not bear to do that.

Tie Xinlan slowly asked: “Where did you go earlier?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Outside and I saw someone.”

Tie Xinlan asked: “Who?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “You know her too, unfortunately I know her too.”

Tie Xinlan exclaimed with fear: “Zhang Qing?”

Xiao Yu’er nodded and said: “Yes, it’s her.”

Tie Xinlan said with a trembling voice: “Where is she now?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Open the window and you might see her.”

Tie Xinlan felt cold all over and said: “She…she is outside. How can you joke at a time like this?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Even if she stood in front of me I would still joke.”

Tie Xinlan bit her lip and said: “You….What shall we do?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Now, the only thing we can do is run. We….”

Before he could finish, he heard a loud voice yelling: “Open up! When we tell you to open the door, you should open! Don’t ask questions about what we want!”

With that they heard a door being kicked open.

Xiao Yu’er sighed: “We can’t run anymore.”

Tie Xinlan looked pale and said in high voice: “It seems Zhang Qing is going to search every room. She must have found out that we were staying in the area. But they have not found us yet, let us run while we still can.”

She pulled Xiao Yu’er arm and wanted to jump out of the window.

Xiao Yu’er shook his head and said: “That won’t work, they will immediately know it is us. Zhang Qing will come after us and we can’t escape from her.”

Tie Xinlan broke out in a cold sweat and said: “What can we do?”

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “Don’t worry, I have a plan.”

Suddenly they heard a female voice shouting: “Get out! Get out now! How dare you barge in without knocking!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Perhaps that woman was taking a bath.”

He was not anxious at all, he was chuckling and too out small old bag.

Tie Xinlan asked: “What is that?”

Xiao Yu’er answered: “One of my treasures, I stole this from someone with someone with the surname Du.”

He took out a pack of things; sticky, soft. It looked like a combination of dried bean curd and human skin.

Tie Xinlan looked at it and suddenly said: “Is it human skin?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Good eyesight!”

He took out two pieces gently and said: “Take off your outer clothes, stuff them anywhere. And then put on this mantle….Good, now come here with your face.”

She close her eyes and felt her face was cool and her body got goose bumps all over. When she opened her eyes, Xiao Yu’er face had changed too.

He had wrinkles all over his face but he did not have a beard.

Tie Xinlan could not help herself but to laugh softly: “You really are something. You turned into a short old man.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “A short old man and an old woman.”

The footsteps and voices were nearing their room.

Xiao Yu’er was not flustered and took out a beard from the bag and attached it on his mouth. He took a bottle of silver powder and sprinkled on the hair of Tie Xinlan. Both of them had greyish hair, Xiao Yu’er then took out some pens of different sizes and began to draw something on Tie Xinlan’s face.

The footsteps were getting very close now; they were almost at their door.

Tie Xinlan was feeling cold and her limbs were weak.

Xiao Yu’er remained calm and kept saying softly: “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. My art of disguise is not perfect yet, but it is sufficient to deceive them.”

Now, the footsteps could be heard outside their door.

Xiao Yu’er cleaned everything up in a go and held Tie Xinlan’s arm and said: “We’re leaving now. We’re going to through the main door.”

Tie Xinlan exclaimed with fear: “The main door?”

But her voice had gone hoarse now; Xiao Yu’er calmly opened the door.

In front of them stood the men with the red and swollen cheeks, they had just arrived at their door. Zhang Qing stood behind them in her fiery red dress.

Xiao Yu’er did not lift his head and said: “Sirs, please make way. My wife has eaten something wrong and is terribly ill. If we don’t see a physician soon, I am afraid she will die.”

His voice sounded old and hoarse, he sounded like an old, anxious man. Tie Xinlan was trembling and looked like a sickly old woman.

All the men made way at once, they were afraid to infected by the old woman. The man with pimples covered his nose and frowned: “Suddenly falling ill in the 6th Month, it must be malaria. Why else would she tremble in cold?”

Xiao Yu’er sighed and walked slowly through them. Tie Xinlan almost fainted, she wished she had wings and could fly off now. She did not understand how Xiao Yu’er was able to keep calm at such a time.

When they finally passed Zhang Qing and were in the main courtyard, Zhang Qing carefully looked at them. It seems that she was not suspicious for a bit.

However, after a few more steps, they heard a clang sound. Zhang Qing drew a sabre from one of the men and hacked at the head of Xiao Yu’er.

Tie Xinlan was so shocked that she went numb, but Xiao Yu’er did notice that hack. He allowed it the sabre to reach his head and the possibility that his head could be split into two. He continued to walk slowly through the courtyard. The sabre halted a few centimetres from his head.

All those men sighed with relief and thought: [The little wretch is very paranoid, she even wanted to kill an old harmless man.]

Xiao Yu’er seemed to be unaware of everything, when he reached the stables he pulled out his disguised horse and stuttered: “I can’t leave you even if the old woman has fallen ill.”

Tie Xinlan was so tensed and her sight was blurred, her clothes were soaked with sweat. She wanted to pinch Xiao Yu’re very hard, for even going to get the horse instead of running off.

Now, Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinlan were on the main street. Tie Xinlan still did not realize how they escaped, it was like a dream. She let Xiao Yu’er help her mount the horse and Xiao Yu’er was stilling pulling the reins and slowly pulled the horse along.

Tie Xinlan said anxiously: “Please, I beg of you. Let us leave as fast as possible.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “No, we can’t do that. They might still be watching us. If we run, we will be uncovered. Look at this beautiful night, let us enjoy the scenery. It is most idyllic.”

Tie Xinlan sighed deeply; she was totally bemused by Xiao Yu’er. He wanted to enjoy the lovely night scenery now, it seemed there was no end to the street.

They reached the outskirts; they had left the lights of the lamps behind them.

Tie Xinlan sighed deeply and smiled wryly: “You…You…. I can never guess what is going on in your heart.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Heart? I don’t have a heart. I have everything else, but I don’t have a heart.”

Tie Xinlan bit her lip and smiled at him: “But when she did not stop that hack, you would be dead by now.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I knew all along that she only used that sabre to test me. If she really saw through my disguise, she would have drawn her own weapon and attacked me.”

Tie Xinlan sighed: “You’re right. You are really remarkable that you can think of that in such a dire situation. Are you never afraid?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Do you think I am not afraid? Let me tell you something, I am very afraid of dying. I think only madmen are not afraid of death.”

Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly: “Where are we going now?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “We can go anywhere, no one recognizes us. However, you’re still ill….”

Tie Xinlan smiled: “I broke out in a sweat when I was scared by them earlier. I think I am better now; I have some strength in my limbs now. Strange, isn’t it?”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Can you walk?”

Tie Xinlan said: “Yes, I can. If you don’t believe me I can dismount and walk a bit for you.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Very well, dismount. Because I have to go now.”

Tie Xinlan’s body shook and exclaimed: “What are you saying?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “We already parted earlier, didn’t we? It was because you were ill, I had to take care of you. Now you’re better, we should go our separate ways.”

Tie Xinlan’s face turned pale, even paler and scarier when she heard Zhang Qing came. She started to tremble again and tears welled up in her eyes, she screamed: “Are you…are you going to leave? Really….”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Of course. You already gave me the map and I saved your life. We’re even now.”

Tie Xinlan was crying and bit her lip: “Haven’t you got a heart? Have you really lost it? Did wild dogs ate your heart when you were young?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Yes, you’re right.”

Tie Xinlan said: “You….You….”

She raised her hand and slapped him very hard.

Xiao Yu’er did not dodge and looked at her, he said casually: “Fortunately, my heart was eaten by wild dogs. I should thank those dogs, if the hearts of men are captured by women they will suffer a fate worse than death.”

Tie Xinlan was weeping bitterly and fell down from the horse, she continued to cry: “You’re not a human! You’re awful!…”

Xiao Yu’er pulled her up and smiled: “Goodbye! It does not matter whether I am a human or not. At least I am not an idiot who will be moved by women’s tears.”

A cold voice from behind said: “You’re not an idiot, you’re very intelligent. Perhaps a bit too intelligent.”

The voice sounded both cold and beautiful, it was the voice of the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing.

Tie Xinlan immediately stopped crying, Xiao Yu’er trembled for a moment. But he did not turn around, he just sighed: “My good wife, why are you crying? You won’t die, let us see the physician first, if we’re too slow he close up.”

Zhang Qing coldly said: “Are you finished? Yes, your disguise is excellent. But it is too late for you to find a doctor, no doctor in this world can save you know.”

Xiao Yu’er stood there, not moving, Tie Xinlan did not move either.

Zhang Qing asked: “What do you have to say?”

Xiao Yu’er suddenly turned around and laughed: “Very good! You saw through my disguise, but how did you do that? Could you tell me?”

Zhang Qing sneered: “When I hacked at you, even if a deaf man can hear the whooshing sound of the blade. If you really were an old feeble man, you would roll on the ground out of fear. It was improbable for an ordinary old man to walk away that casually.”

Xiao Yu’er tilted his head and thought for a moment, he sighed: “You’re right! You’re smart too, smarter than I thought.”

Zhang Qing said: “You found that out a bit too late.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Don’t be conceited either! I deceived you at least for a while. You found out a bit too late too, if I wasn’t dragged behind I would have been gone a long time ago. And you would not have the chance to catch up with me now.”

Zhang Qing was not angered and scoffed: “If you are really that clever, you would be able to think of a plan to escape. If you can’t, your head is useless and you might as well cut if off.”

Xiao Yu’er chortled: “Why should I think of a plan? Do you really think I can’t defeat you? I was just lazy to fight you earlier on. People say that men should not fight with women, I….”

Before he could finish, Zhang Qing’s palm was almost in his face. It was a normal palm technique, but it was very fast. Incredibly fast, if you did not see it you won’t even believe that someone could be that swift.

Xiao Yu’er was watching her as he spoke, being on guard. But he could not avoid that palm, he twisted his body but he was still hit. Three fingertips hit him on the face and left three red imprints.

Zhang Qing had attacked now with her second stance.

Xiao Yu’er shouted: “Stop! Good men should not fight with women! Stop!”

Zhang Qing ignored his shouts, she hated to awful boy. Her face was white and in a matter of moments, she attacked him with 20, 30 stances.

Xiao Yu’er could not see the brilliance of her stances; Xiao Yu’er could easily every attacking technique.

But when her technique actually came, Xiao Yu’er had to avoid that attack most awkwardly. He changed a dozen movements, even groping the chest of the opponent. But he noticed that he could not retaliate in time. Every time he wanted to retaliate, Zhang Qing’s new stance had already come. With great difficulty he could avoid the attack, and when he wanted to counter-attack her third attack had begun. It was simply dodging and avoiding for Xiao Yu’er.

Tie Xinlan looked at the fight and all she saw was red flashy figure moving about. She could not see the stances, moves of Zhang Qing; she could only see a pair of hands that looked like a white line.

That while line zigzagged through that red flashy figure like a whip. Xiao Yu’er was dodging every whiplash, but wherever he went the whip would follow closely.

Tie Xinlan could not see the brilliance of her techniques either; she had never seen such fast stances in her life. It was like a demon or a ghost was guiding the hands of Zhang Qing.

Xiao Yu’er felt that Zhang Qing had a dozen hands; whenever he avoided one hand another hand would follow.

In the end Xiao Yu could only see the white, flashy palm figures of her, he was feeling dizzy and shouted: “Stop! I poisoned you! You…”

He wanted to use this old trick again, but Zhang Qing did not even listen. Tie Xinlan was very anxious and became paler and paler, but she was still too weak to help and fight.

Xiao Yu’er was sweating heavily and said: “Don’t you believe it? Do you have any idea how powerful my poison is?”

Zhang Qing scoffed: “No one is capable of using poison when fighting with me! Especially, a little brat like you. You can’t trick me!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I am not lying, I….”

He suffered a hit on his face and flew away; he landed 2 metres away and rolled on the ground.

Tie Xinlan screamed: “Xiao Yu’er! Are you….”? Xiao Yu’er jumped up and wiped away the blood from the corners of his mouth, he grinned: “Don’t worry, she can’t kill me. As long as she is incapable of killing me, I have a chance to defeat her.”

Zhang Qing laughed coldly: “I would like to see how tough your body really is.”

With that she stormed forward and attacked with another seven stances.

Her stances were not exquisite nor were they vicious, but she was too fast for words. She did not give people the chance to recover. If her opponents cannot fight back, how can they defeat her?

Xiao Yu’er gritted his teeth, he was decided to be ruthless. No matter what, he had to hit her twice.

He saw a flaw in her palm techniques and decided to attack relentlessly.

But when he attacked, Zhang Qing had already covered up her flaw. His attack was only launched and already he suffered a palm in his stomach.

Tie Xinlan shouted sadly: “Stop, please stop! Just give her the map!”

Xiao Yu’er made two somersaults and jumped up again. His face hurt very much, but he gritted his teeth and laughed: “She will have to kill me first in order to….”

Zhang Qing angrily said: “Do you really think I can’t kill you?”

And she attacked with another five, six stances.

This time Xiao Yu’er would not allow himself to be hit, he changed strategy again. Forego attack, concentrate on the defence. He twirled his pair of small fists hoping it would block all coming attacks.

But Zhang Qing was able to punch through his defensive stances.

Stance after stance, like she was using an axe to chop wood, and finally she managed to chop her away through his defences.

Tie Xinlan called out: “Watch out!”

But Xiao Yu’er flew up again and rolled on the ground.

Tie Xinlan pleaded: “Stop! I beg of you, you can’t defeat her. She is too fast.”

But Xiao Yu’er stood up again and had a painful smile on his face and said: “Because she is too fast, she can’t kill me. If she is fast, she can’t use too much force. Don’t you understand?”

Zhang Qing’s face changed, she did not thought that this little brat would be that brave. He could still stand up, she knew herself that her palms were quite powerful.

Anyone else would be dead or seriously wounded after three palms, but this brat was able to get up and ready to fight again.

Zhang Qing bit her lip and said: “I know your body is tough, but let’s see how many attacks you can still endure.”

Her attacks became faster and faster, Xiao Yu’er stances became slower and slower. He fell and got, he fell and got up again….

Tie Xinlan with tears flowing from her eyes and pleaded: “Little Fairy, please spare him. He can’t take anymore.”

Xiao Yu’er shouted: “Shut up! She hit me seven times, I have to hit her back seven times too.”

Zhang Qing scoffed: “You’re dreaming.”

He jumped up for the seventh time, but soon he fell down again. However, he would crawl up every time he was thrown on the ground.

Zhang Qing looked at him, her facial expression was very strange. It looked like she was angry, hatred, pity or even pain.

She coldly said: “If you admit defeat, I will spare you.”

Xiao Yu’er said loudly: “Rubbish! Who needs to be spared by you? I want you to beg to me, I want to tear your clothes to shreds and hang you on a tree and hit you severely.”

He staggered somewhat before standing again.

Zhang Qing stormed over and kicked him down, Xiao Yu’er rolled over the ground.

Tie Xinlan closed her eyes; she could not watch it anymore. Her heart was broken; she did not know why she would care so much for this hated enemy.

Xiao Yu’er was panting on the ground and could not move anymore.

Zhang Qing’s chest moved up and down, she was breathing heavily too. She panted: “Little brat! You, rascal! You, little demon! Can you still stand up now? Can you still fight?”

Xiao Yu’er clutched the grass and slowly crawled up, he said with a shaky voice: “You’re the brat, rascal! You’re a thug….a thug!”

Zhang Qing angrily shouted: “How dare you to insult me!”

She rushed over and kicked Xiao Yu’er again, sending him rolling again. Tie Xinlan shouted: “You’re ruthless! How can you hit someone who is down?”

Zhang Qing said hatefully: “It is his own fault, he should not have insulted me.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I love to insult you! You’re a thief, you kill for riches! You’re a ruthless thug, you’re not a fairy you’re a shrew!”

His voice was very weak but he kept swearing at her. Zhang Qing was trembling with anger; she put a foot on his chest and said: “Continue to swear! Go on! I will make sure you will never be able to swear again. I didn’t want to kill you, but you’ve forced me to do this….”

She gritted her teeth and was about to strike out her palm, Tie Xinlan screamed with fear and crawled over. But at this point Xiao Yu’er held embraced Zhang Qing’s legs. He did not know where he got the strength, but he held her slender body up now and kicked her in the waist. Zhang Qing did not expect a dying person capable of fighting. Her legs felt numb and her head span, before she understood what went on she was kicked in the waist and fell on the ground.

Xiao Yu’er immediately dropped himself on her and quickly sealed all major her acupoints. Tie Xinlan was surprised and happy, she said with a shaky voice: “Xiao Yu’er, what just happened?”

Xiao Yu’er panted and laughed: “I told you before, she can’t kill me….I bathed in herbal medicinal water when I was a child. When other children drank milk, I was drinking herbal soups instead. Even people who use ten times more force than her can’t keep me down from getting up.”

Tie Xinlan said: “But you were…..earlier….”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I was putting up a show, hoping she would drop her guard. I deliberately sweat at her, making her mad. When she is fuming with anger, I will have the last laugh.”

Tie Xinlan broke out in tears of happiness but was still a bit worried, she asked: “Are you alright?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I am tougher than iron and bronze. How can she injure me with those white delicate hands of her? Her fists feel like cotton.”

Although it was cotton, it must have been heavy cotton. He felt pain almost everywhere, every bone felt dislocated.

He looked resentfully at Zhang Qing and said: “What do you have to say now?”

Zhang Qing kept her mouth shut, but tears welled up in her eyes.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Tears won’t do you any good. I have said that I will return the blows you dealt on me…..”

With that he dealt a blow at her, in one go he used his fists to deal four blows. Four heavy blows.

Zhang Qing closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, she did not make a sound.

Xiao Yu’er said: “Beg and I might forget a few blows.”

Zhang Qing shouted: “You despicable fiend! Kill me!”

Xiao Yu’er slapped her face. Tie Xinlan pleaded: “Let her be.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Let her be? Why should I spare her? Did she show mercy earlier? I said I would tear her clothes to pieces and hang her on a tree…..”

Zhang Qing yelled: “You dare?!? If you do that, I will come back to haunt you even when I am dead.”

Xiao Yu’er grinned: “I was not afraid of you when you were alive, why should I fear you when you’re dead.”

He pulled her up by her hair and he slapped her four times in her face. He laughed: “Now, we are even. The interest will follow in awhile.”

Tears ran from Zhang Qing’s cheeks, she said: “You’re ruthless…..”

Xiao Yu’er said with indignation: “Me, ruthless? Aren’t you ruthless too? You perceive what others do to you as ruthless. But, have you forgotten how merciless you are when you’re dealing with your adversaries.”

He was getting angrier with every word he said, he tore her clothes apart revealing her white shoulders.

She shouted: “Demon, monster! Bastard………..!”

She cursed with every word she thought of.

Xiao Yu’er just grinned and listened, he shook his head and said: “If you knew how to swear, I might even listen and be amused. But your cursing methods are really crude, I see no other alternative but to shut you up.”

He took some mud from the ground and wanted to stuff it into her mouth.

Zhang Qing now showed signs of fear and wept: “Please, spare me….Please, spare me….”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Good, you finally know to beg for forgiveness. Don’t you forget that.”

Zhang Qing wept bitterly, she was still a girl. She was still very young and for the first time in her life she knew how it felt when you’re bullied and she finally knew fear.

Xiao Yu’er laughed and threw her on the ground, he said: “Good, I will spare you.”

He did not look at Zhang Qing again; he turned around and helped Tie Xinlan up. He whistled and yelled: “White Cabbage, White Cabbage….”

That white horse really liked him and came immediately.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “White Cabbage, sorry to trouble you but you have to take us both on your backs. If we have put some distance, I will let you rest a very long time and let you drink.”

He helped Tie Xinlan mount the horse and he leapt up too, although the horse was small he was quite strong. It neighed and galloped forward.

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Little Fairy, goodbye! I hope we will never meet again.”

With that he left, leaving behind a Little Fairy who could not move and was just lying there on the ground. The only thing she could do was cry, but Xiao Yu’er did not hear that.

They sat closely together; Tie Xinlan felt her body was light and soft. She thought she was floating in the clouds and would not move nor talk.

After some time, they could not hear the crying of the Little Fairy anymore.

Tie Xinlan sighed softly: “You are really the bane of the Little Fairy.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “It’s her bad luck that she should run into me.”

Tie Xinlan remained quiet for a while, she said casually: “I did not expect that you could fight that fiercely and savage. You were totally oblivious to death….”

Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly: “I may be a rascal, but I am definitely not a coward. You can expect a lot from me, but don’t expect me to beg for my life.”

Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly and said gently: “You’re right, you may be a rascal but you are a real man.”

After another long silent moment, Tie Xinlan said: “Do you know why Zhang Qing is after the treasure map?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “She is probably greedy.”

Tie Xinlan said: “You’re wrong there, she might be cruel but she is not an evil person.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “She doesn’t look like a good one either. A good person tried to kill you, but an evil person saved your life. That is very strange.”

Tie Xinlan said: “I am serious now. She wants the treasure map, because her mother has a very close relationship to the owner of the treasure.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Hmm, she is quite fierce, her mother was be an old shrew.”

Tie Xinlan smiled: “Her mother is not an old shrew at all, she was once a beautiful maiden in the realm. Any men who saw her would be mesmerized by her.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I would like to meet someone like that.”

Tie Xinlan bit her lip and said: “If you were born at least ten years earlier you might have seen her when she was young. She is old now but the elder generation of the realm will still be flustered when they hear the name of the [Jade Maiden] Zhang Sanniang.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Why didn’t you say that she was born ten years too early, and could not have met me? Who is the father of Zhang Qing?”

Tie Xinlan said: “This….I don’t know.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “True! The children of a beautiful woman have a lot of missing fathers. One of the reasons could be that there are too many possible fathers in the game.”

Tie Xinlan laughed when she heard this and continued: “Don’t be that rude. That Jade Maiden was very pretty but she was a cold and strict woman. She attracted a lot of suitors, but she did not even look at them. She only had eyes for one.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Who is the lucky man?”

Tie Xinlan said: “The owner of the treasure, Yan Nantian.”

Xiao Yu’er’s body shook and exclaimed: “Yan Nantian?”

Tie Xinlan asked: “Have you heard of this name before?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I…I think I’ve heard it once, but I can’t remember.”

Tie Xinlan said: “When you’ve heard this name, you should not forget it. He was the most famous swordsman of the realm, even till now nobody can match his swordsmanship.”

Xiao Yu’er only said: “Hmm.”

Tie Xinlan said slowly: “Although he was not very handsome, he really looked heroic and valiant. Unfortunately I was born too late too, so I will never have the chance to meet him.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Do you want my help to look for him?”

Tie Xinlan sighed: “You can’t find him anymore, no one can. According to the stories of the realm, he entered the Valley of Evil for some reason more than ten years ago and never came back. His swordplay might be invincible, but there are so many evil men in there. How could he survive?”

Xiao Yu’er stayed silent for some time, he just said: “Hmm.”

Tie Xinlan said: “It is said that before he entered the valley, he knew he would not survive. So that is why he hid his numerous treasures and his manual of invincible swordsmanship in secret place. Without the map, you can’t find it.”

Xiao Yu’er nodded his head in agreement: “Those riches are not the driving factor, but that manual is. Whoever obtains that manual can become invincible. No wonder so many people want to claim it.”

Tie Xinlan said: “The Little Fairy does not want the manual, she just wants to comfort her mother….”

She turned around and she swiftly glanced at the ground, her entire body shook and exclaimed: “Did you…Did you see that? This….”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I have noticed that some time ago, there is an extra shadow.”

If you looked at the ground, you would notice there was an extra shadow. It seems that someone was standing on the rear of the horse. But the horse continued to gallop forward, totally oblivious to the extra passenger.

Xiao Yu’er stayed calm, but Tie Xinlan was flustered. She held on to a hand of Xiao Yu’er. She pulled the reins of the horse, the horse neighed and Tie Xinlan almost fell down.

The voice said coldly: “Why are you afraid? If I really wanted to kill you, you would be dead by now.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I was afraid, I would have leapt off the horse by now.”

The voice laughed too: “You’re a funny person. I immediately saw that you are an interesting person, I came here to make friends.”

The voice sounded clear but hoarse, you could say that his voice sounded metallic and cold. However, you could hear that the voice belonged to a young man. Tie Xinlan was afraid; she looked around and saw a short but skinny person dressed in black. He stood there like he was glued to the horse nevertheless he seem to be able to float away at any time.

He wore tight shining clothes and he had used a black mask to cover his face. You could only see his pair of eyes, his pupils were as dark as ink and his irises were as white as paper. In the night, it looked very scary whenever he blinked.

Tie Xinlan was startled and exclaimed: “Are you the Black Spider?”

That strange person laughed: “Yes, I am. I am surprised that you recognize me.”

Tie Xinlan said: “Why…Why are you here?”

The Black Spider said: “I am not here because of you, when I saw that boy I was quite amused by him. He is even more interesting than the treasure map, I want to make friends so I have to forget about the map.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “I never imagined that I would be more important than a treasure map. I want to make friends with you too. Black Spider, what is your real name?”

The Black Spider coldly said: “You are really ill-informed, almost everyone in the realm has heard of me. How can you roam the realm if you do not have sufficient information.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “When did you start to follow us?”

The Black Spider said: “When I saw you colouring your own horse.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “That is strange, why didn’t I see you?”

The black spider laughed coldly: “When I want to follow someone for the rest of his life, he won’t even feel my presence. If I don’t reveal myself, no one can see my shadow.”

Xiao Yu’er turned around to look at the Black Spider and laughed: “You look young, but you sound arrogant.”

The Black Spider angrily said: “Who said I was young!”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I can tell from your voice. Can’t you hear it yourself?”

The Black Spider stayed silent for a while and grinned: “I may be young, but I am still old enough to be your uncle. I just came here to make friends and not to impose my age on you. You can call me, older brother.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Older brother? You’re shorter than me, I should be the older brother.”

The Black Spider looked at him angrily and said: “I don’t know how many people in realm would beg for a chance to call me older brother, but I just ignore those people. I want you to call me older brother, and you are refusing.”

Tie Xinlan gave Xiao Yu’er a look not to antagonize the Black Spider.

Xiao Yu’er pretended not to see it and laughed: “Very good, younger brother Black Spider. You’re very capable….”

The Black Spider angrily shouted: “What did you call me?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Younger brother, shall we go for a drink?”

The Black Spider laughed: “You don’t know that calamity will fall upon you soon. Only I can save you, if you would call me older brother, it will be of great help to you.”

Tie Xinlan was very anxious and could strangle Xiao Yu’er now, how hard can it be just call him [older brother] and be done with it? However, Xiao Yu’er grinned: “Younger brother, what can I trouble will I run into? Tell me a bit about it.”

The Black Spider looked at him for some time and scoffed: “Fine, I wanted to help you but since you want to be the older brother I will have nothing to do with you anymore.”

With that he waved his hand, in the moonlight you could see a silver line of some sort shooting out of his sleeve.

Xiao Yu’er wanted to see what that was, but when he blinked his eyes the Black Spider shook his hand and flew away.

And then he disappeared and his silver line too.

Xiao Yu’er was a bit stunned and sighed: “No wonder he sounded arrogant, his lightness martial arts is quite good.”

Tie Xinlan sighed: “Not just quite good, his personal secretive lightness martial arts [The Flying Celestial Spider] is unmatched in the realm.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “What is so special about this skill?”

Tie Xinlan said: “He has hidden some special lanyard made from the silk spun by a thousand year old rare spider in Nanhai. It is very strong, not even swords and sabres can sever it. The lanyard is put in a mechanized tube, when he waves his hand the lanyard will shoot out. It can reach about 40 metres and at the end of the cord there is a sharp silver needle that can puncture anything. He will go with the line and that is why he is so swift, he also makes him very secretive.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “He is not only strange and funny, but his martial arts are funny and strange too. But I wonder how old he really is, why is he so fixated on being other people’s seniors.”

Tie Xinlan said: “No one has ever seen his real face and nobody knows his true age. He hates when people call him young. Whoever makes that mistake will suffer dearly.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Why am I not suffering?”

Tie Xinlan laughed sweetly: “That is strange, he really likes you. If not he might have cut out your tongue for calling him younger brother.”

After laughing some time, she sighed: “But he never lies, so there could be trouble ahead. I am afraid that we will really have a calamity at our hands.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Don’t listen to him! How many calamities could there be?”

His voice became softer and softer, almost like a whisper. He looked at the rear of the horse like he saw something. Tie Xinlan wanted to look too, but Xiao Yu’er said: “Let’s go!”

Tie Xinlan asked: “What did you see?”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Nothing….Hahahaha! What could there be?”

Tie Xinlan lowered her head and stayed quiet, she then said sadly: “Every time you laugh, you are lying.”

Xiao Yu’er was a bit taken back, he laughed: “You saw through me, I took up this bad habit from one of my guardians. I can’t shake this habit.”

Tie Xinlan did not know that the guardian Xiao Yu’er mentioned was the ever-lying Ha Ha’er. She did not want to ask, she only anxiously asked: “What did you see?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Nothing special, there is no need for you to look too.”

Tie Xinlan laughed: “I know you don’t want me to worry. But if you won’t let me have a look I will be even more worried.”

Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly and shook his head: “Women…Women… Well, have a look.”

Someone managed to print a small snake figure on the croup. The snake figure was printed on with blue ink; under the moonlight it looked greenish and ugly. It looked like it could move and was about to bite.

Xiao Yu’er knew it could not move, but he felt uneasy when he saw it. He got goose bumps all over.

Tie Xinlan’s face changed and stuttered with fear: “Snake….The Blue phosphorous snake….The spirit of Qinghai…..The Deer Eating Celestial Lord….”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and laughed: “What are you saying?”

Tie Xinlan was pale again and said with a trembling voice: “You don’t understand….you don’t understand…”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Just a little snake, what is all the fuss about?”

Tie Xinlan said: “This is a great disaster!”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Why?”

Tie Xinlan took a deep breath and said: “The blue phosphorous snake is the sign of the spirit of Qinghai, the deer eating celestial lord. If you can see his symbol that means his is in the area. With him around, disaster will come.”

Xiao Yu’er frowned: “What is this dear eating celestial lord?”

Tie Xinlan asked: “Have you ever heard of the 12 Zodiacs?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “I think so, but I am not sure.”

Tie Xinlan said: “The 12 Zodiacs are the most diabolical, evil and ruthless robbers of the realm for the last 30 years. Normally, they keep a low profile. But when they have their sights on something or someone, no one and nothing can escape them. In the past 30 years, they only failed once.”

Xiao Yu’er said: “That snake is one of the 12 Zodiacs.”

Tie Xinlan said: “Yes, that deer eating celestial lord is the most vicious and diabolical one of the 12 zodiacs. He always dwells near Qinghai. I should have guessed that he would want me and my map.”

Xiao Yu’er asked: “Why do you say that?”

Tie Xinlan said: “The only time the 12 Zodiacs failed was when they encountered Yan Nantian. How can they not want to have the treasure and manual of Yan Nantian?”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled: “You’re very knowledgeable for your age.”

Tie Xinlan said sadly: “I had to roam about on my own when I was very young. It is not strange that I would know a bit more about the realm. When you start to roam the realm, you will learn these things too.”

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “The more you know, the more you fear. Ignorance is a bliss, no matter who we encounter we will fight him with everything we have.”

Tie Xinlan smiled: “But we already know now, what shall we do now?”

Xiao Yu’er said: “Since we can’t overcome him, we might as well run.”

Tie Xinlan muttered: “Run? Where can we run to?”