Chapter 5 - Plum flower decoration on the pure white arm

Chapter 5 image

Zhang CuiShan obviously couldn’t stop asking now, yet he’s too far from the boat to jump on it. So he grabbed two thick branches from a nearby willow tree and threw them onto the river. With the branches as his stepping-stones, Zhang CuiShan jumped onto the head of the boat.

By the time Zhang CuiShan reached the river, it’s already dark. Only to see a boat with two bright lanterns on it, the same one he saw last night. Under the lantern lights a young woman sat on the edge, wearing a long, light-green robe, a lady’s outfit.

Zhang CuiShan originally planned on asking her about the events last night, but somehow held back upon seeing her in a lady’s dress. That young woman looked up in the sky and said, “Sitting on the edge of the boat, thinking of meeting a guest, the wind blows by, waking me up.” Zhang CuiShan said, “My name is Zhang CuiShan. I have some questions. I hope you won’t mind.” That young woman said, “Then please come on the boat.” Zhang CuiShan lightly sprung onto the head of the boat.

That young woman said, “Dark clouds hovered over last night’s sky, and covered the moon. The weather’s much nicer today, now that those clouds have dissipated.” Her voice beautiful and clear, spoken while watching the sky, without looking at him even once. Zhang CuiShan said, “May I ask for the young lady’s name?” That young woman suddenly turned her head around, her bright, stunning eyes shinned at him, but did not respond. Zhang CuiShan saw her indescribable beauty looking at him, and felt a bit awkward. Afraid to press further, he jumped back onto the land, and began to walk back.

After ten steps or so, his footsteps stopped. Zhang CuiShan thought to himself, “Zhang CuiShan, oh Zhang CuiShan. What happened to you? How can a man like you, so experienced in the martial world, be afraid of a young girl?” He turned around, only to see that young woman’s boat floated down the river, the jade lanterns lit up the river. Zhang CuiShan couldn’t make up his mind, so he simply followed the boat by the river edge.
One on the river, one on land, traveling in parallel fashion. That young lady remained at the head of the boat, her head aimed towards the moon in the night sky.

After walking a while, Zhang CuiShan unconsciously looked in the direction of her eyes, only to see dark clouds gathering in the distance. These clouds quickly covered the moon. Soon, the wind began to blow, and sleek rain came down. There’s only grassland by the lake, so Zhang CuiShan could not find any place to hide from the rain. Of course, he didn’t care much for the rain anyway. The rainfall was not heavy, but enough to totally soak his body after a while. Only to see that young woman still sitting on the head of the boat, also totally soaked.

Zhang CuiShan yelled, “Young lady, you should enter the cabin to avoid the rain.” That young woman immediately stood up and let out an ‘Oh!’ She quickly gathered herself, and then asked him, “Why are you not afraid of the rain?” As she spoke, she walked into the boat’s cabin. After a while, she came out again, this time holding an umbrella, which she threw to him.

Zhang CuiShan grabbed the umbrella, saw that it was made out of oilpaper, and opened it. He saw rivers in the foreground and mountains in the background, covered with willow trees, obviously a scenery painting. Along with the painting are seven characters, “No need to return simply due light wind and sleek rain [1] .” It’s not strange to see such paintings and writings on the umbrellas here in HangZhou, as it’s famous for such things. The painting came from a craftsman, so it carried a peculiar craftsman feel to it. What’s amazing is that a craftsman could paint in such an intricate and elegant way. The writing didn’t seem to live up to the standards of the painting, and looked like a rich young lady wrote it, yet at least the style carried a clear, beautiful, unworldly feel.

 
Zhang CuiShan did not slow down his steps as he examined the writing, and couldn’t see a ditch in his path. As his left foot came down, Zhang CuiShan felt it land in midair. Any normal person would’ve tripped and fell. But he quickly reacted, applied force to his right foot, jumped up, and landed on the other side of the ditch. Only to hear the young lady yell, “Great!” Zhang CuiShan turned around, saw that she has since put on a bamboo hat, and is standing there on the head of the boat. As her dress waved back and forth among the winds, she looked like a goddess from Heaven.

That young woman said, “Are the painting and writing worthy of Mr. Zhang’s eyes?” Zhang CuiShan never cared much for paintings, as he studied mainly on writings in his life. He said, “These words are written in the famous Mrs. Wei’s style. The characters separate but their meanings connect, the lines are short but their meanings are stretched, very charming with its rhyming.” That young woman felt very happy that Zhang CuiShan understood her writing style, and said, “Among the characters, I thought the character ‘No’ was the worst.” Zhang CuiShan examined that character, and said, “This ‘No’ is quite naturally written, but it lacked any deep meaning, unlike the other characters, which leave an aftertaste in the reader’s mind, making them hard to forget.” That young woman said, “I understand now. I’ve always thought that this character somehow didn’t belong, but couldn’t spot the reason. Thank you for enlightening me.”

Her boat continued to travel down the river, while Zhang CuiShan walked alongside it. The two people continued to talk about writing, until the sky became so dark they could not longer see each other. That young woman suddenly said, “Speaking with a scholar for just a short while beats reading books for ten years. Thank you for your help. Now let us part.” She pulled up the sail, and the boat started to move faster with the aid of the wind. Zhang CuiShan stood as he watched the boat travel further and further away, and felt saddened, his mind in a void. Only to hear the young woman yell from far away, “My surname is Yin… should we meet again, I’ll surely ask for more pointers…”

When Zhang CuiShan heard the words ‘My surname is Yin’, he suddenly remembered, “Wait a minute. Didn’t Du DaJin say that a handsome scholar, whose surname is Yin, asked for them to deliver Third Brother Yu? Could he be this young lady in man’s clothing?” Once he realized this, he forgot all about the tradition that man and woman should remain apart, and began to chase after the boat. Although the boat traveled very fast, it still could not beat out his lightness kung fu. Soon, he caught up with the boat and asked loudly, “Ms. Yin, do you know my third brother Yu DaiYan?”

That young woman turned around, but did not respond. Zhang CuiShan seemingly heard a sigh, but wasn’t sure due to their distance.

So Zhang CuiShan added, “I have this suspicion in my mind, which I hope you can help clear up.” That young woman said, “Do you really need to know?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Did you ask the Dragon Gate Escort Agency to take my third brother back to Wu Dang? If so, then I would surely repay your kindness.” That young woman said, “Sometimes, it’s so hard to distinguish generosity and cruelness.” Zhang CuiShan said, “My third brother was gravely wounded at the bottom of Wu Dang Mountain. Do you know about this?” That young woman said, “I was saddened too, and is really sorry.”

As they spoke, the wind picked up, and the boat sailed even faster. But Zhang CuiShan had no problem keeping up with the boat. As they traveled further, the river became wider, the light wind and sleek rain turned into heavy wind and heavy rainstorm.

Zhang CuiShan asked, “Do you know who killed the people in the Dragon Gate Escort agency?” That young woman said, “I made it clear to Du DaJin for him to take good care of Third Hero Yu. Should there be any problems…” Zhang CuiShan said, “You said you’d kill everyone in his agency.” That young woman said, “That’s correct. He didn’t protect Third Hero Yu, so it’s his fault. You can’t blame others.”

Those words sent a chill down Zhang CuiShan’s spine, and he said, “So you’re saying that everyone… everyone was killed by…” that young woman said, “Killed by me!” Zhang CuiShan’s ears trembled. He couldn’t believe that this incredibly beautiful young woman could be such cold-blooded killer. After a while, he said, “What about those two Shaolin monks?” That young woman said, “Also killed by me. I originally didn’t want to bother with them, but they used poisoned darts on me first, so I didn’t have a choice.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Then… then why did they say that I was the killer?” That young woman said, “Oh, I planned that.”
Zhang CuiShan fumed, and yelled, “You planned for them to wrong me like that?” That young woman laughed, and said, “That’s correct.” Zhang CuiShan yelled angrily, “Surely we’re not enemies. So why would you do that to me?”

That young woman waved her hand, and entered the cabin. Zhang CuiShan obviously couldn’t stop asking now, yet he’s too far from the boat to jump on it. So he grabbed two thick branches from a nearby willow tree and threw them onto the river. With the branches as his stepping-stones, Zhang CuiShan jumped onto the head of the boat. He then yelled, “How… how did you plan it?”

No sound came out from the dark cabin, so Zhang CuiShan planned to go in. But at the last moment he changed his mind, thinking, “It’s rude to barge into a young lady’s room like that.” As he pondered about what to do, he saw a light appearing in the cabin, as a candle lit up. That young woman said, “Please come in.”

Zhang CuiShan organized his robe, closed the umbrella, and walked inside. He immediately froze as he saw a young scholar inside, wearing a green robe, holding a fan, his expression quite colorful. For that young woman had taken this time to change into man’s clothing. At first glance, she looked quite like himself. Zhang CuiShan obviously needed no more words to answer his question. In dim conditions, anyone would mistake them to be the same person. No wonder Monk Hui Feng and Du DaJin were both so certain that he was the killer.

That young woman said, “Please sit, Fifth Hero Zhang.” She then picked up the teapot and poured some tea into a cup. Then she reached out to give him the cup. She said, “Sorry we don’t have wine here. Let me use tea instead of wine to serve my honored guest.”

After hearing such a mannerly speech, Zhang CuiShan could not find a way to release his anger. He finally said, “Thank you.” That young woman saw his whole body soaked wet, and said, “I have some clothing in the cabin here. Do you need one? You can change in the back.” Zhang CuiShan shook his head and said, “No need.” He immediately applied some inner power, and a wave of chi exited his body, releasing much body heat. The water on his robe quickly evaporated. That young woman said, “I forgot that Wu Dang’s inner power is one of the best in the martial world. It really was improper of me to ask you to change clothing.” Zhang CuiShan asked, “Would you mind telling me which sect you belong to?”

That young woman immediately turned towards the window when she heard the question, her face filled with worry.

When Zhang CuiShan saw this, he stopped pressing further. But after a while, he couldn’t help but ask again, “Who injured my third brother Yu? Can you tell me?” That young woman said, “Not only did they fool Du DaJin, they also fooled me. Actually, I should’ve realized that the seven heroes of Wu Dang would be very elegant and valiant, not crass and unmannerly.”

Zhang CuiShan realized that she didn’t answer the question, but when she said ‘elegant and valiant’, he felt his heart jumped, and his head a bit feverish. But he’s still not sure what her words meant.

That young woman sighed, and then suddenly lifted up her left sleeve, revealing an arm as white as white-jade. Zhang CuiShan quickly turned around to avoid her arm. That young woman said, “Do you recognize these hidden weapons?”

When Zhang CuiShan heard this, he finally turned around to look at her, only to see three needles on her left arm. Her arm’s white as snow, but the area by the needles are black as ink. The tails of all three needles are shaped like plum flowers. Zhang CuiShan immediately stood up, and yelled in shock, “These are Shaolin’s Plum Flower Darts. Why… why are they dark?” That woman said, “Exactly. These are Shaolin’s Plum Flower Darts. They are poisoned.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Shaolin’s a very reputable upright sect. Their darts would never have poisons on them. But other than Shaolin disciples, who else can use them? How long have you been poisoned? We need to remedy this immediately.”

When that young woman saw the deep concern in his face, she said, “I’ve been poisoned for over twenty days now, but I have temporarily stopped them from spreading with some medicine. However, I can’t pull them out either, since then the poison would spread.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “But if you don’t pull them out soon, your arm might… your arm might… be much harder to cure. It might leave a nasty mark.” Actually, he wanted to say that the arm might become useless.
That young woman began shed some tears, and said faintly, “But I’ve done all I can… Last night I couldn’t find the antidote from those monks… I can never use this arm again.” As she spoke, she covered up her arm again.

Zhang CuiShan felt a surge of warmth in his chest, and said, “Ms. Yin, do you trust me? Although my inner power is ordinary, I am still confident that I can cure your poison.” That young woman smiled innocently, and her cheeks turned pink, as if she’s incredibly happy. Yet she said, “Fifth Hero Zhang. I know you have many suspicions. If I don’t tell you everything, you might regret this decision later.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Saving people is what I’m suppose to do. Why would I regret it?”

That young woman said, “It’s already been over twenty days, so I won’t mind waiting a while longer. Here’s what happened. Once I gave Third Hero Yu to Du DaJin, I followed him from behind. There were quite a few people who wanted to take Third Hero Yu away, but I took care of them. Funny thing is, Du DaJin didn’t know any of this.” Zhang CuiShan said, “The disciples of Wu Dang will never forget your kindness, Ms. Yin.” That young woman said coldly, “Don’t thank me just yet. Soon, you’ll be hating me.” Zhang CuiShan doesn’t know what to make of that statement. That young woman continued, “I kept changing my clothing along the way, sometimes dressed as a farmer, sometimes a businessman, until I followed them to the bottom of the Wu Dang Mountain, where the incident occurred.” Zhang CuiShan bit his teeth and said, “You mean you saw those six beasts? Unfortunately, Du DaJin and his people do not know who they are.” That woman sighed again, and said, “Not only did I saw them, I also fought them. Unfortunately, I also could not tell you much about them either.” She picked up a cup of tea and drank some. Then she continued, “That day I saw these six people come down from the top of the mountain. Du DaJin kept calling them ‘Six Heroes of Wu Dang’, and those six people did not seem to mind. I watched from far away, and saw them take the carriage that carried Third Hero Yu. At first I was relieved to see him arrive safely, but after a while, I realized that things didn’t make sense. The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang treat each other as brothers. They should’ve all gone up to examine his injury, yet only one person took a look, and without any expression too.”

Zhang CuiShan nodded and said, “Ms. Yin, you really are attentive. Your suspicions are right on the mark.”

That young woman said, “The more I thought about it, the more things didn’t add up. So I turned back and caught up to them, then asked for their names. These people’s eyes were quite sharp, and immediately saw that I was a woman. I shouted at them for pretending to be Wu Dang disciples, and then attacked them. A thirty-some year old skinny man came out to fight me, while a Taoist priest stayed by to back him up. The rest of them went away. This skinny man was quite formidable, and I could not defeat him after thirty or so exchanges. At this moment, that Taoist priest waved his left hand, and my left arm became numb. That skinny man said some indecent words, then tried to capture me. I had to fire off three darts of my own so I could escape.” As she said this, her face turned red. Probably that skinny man sought after her beauty and wanted to rape her.

Zhang CuiShan asked, “Did you say he fired the darts with his left hand? How could Shaolin accept a priest as a disciple?” That young woman said with a smile, “A Taoist has to shave his head to look like a monk, but a monk just needs to put on a Taoist hat to look like a Taoist priest.” Zhang CuiShan nodded. That young woman continued, “I couldn’t beat that skinny man, and that Taoist’s kung fu is even better. So I had to let them go.” Zhang CuiShan wanted to say something, but refrained to do so.

That young woman said, “I know you want to ask why I never went to Wu Dang to explain everything, right? But I couldn’t go to Wu Dang. If I could’ve, why would I ask an escort agency to do it for me? Besides, I overheard Du DaJin talking on my way back. Once I knew that the other Wu Dang heroes have looked into this matter, I knew there was nothing I could do to help. Since I was also in a hurry to treat my poison, I left. What happened to Third Hero Yu anyway?”

Zhang CuiShan told her what happened afterwards. That young woman sighed, her eyelashes slightly flickered, and said, “Hopefully Third Hero Yu will get well, or… or…” Zhang CuiShan heard the sincerity in her voice, and was deeply moved. He said, “Thank you for you kindness.” As he spoke his eyes became wet. That young woman shook her head and said, “When I came back, someone told me that these darts are Shaolin’s unique Plum Flower Darts. Other than its own unique antidotes, the poison’s incurable. The only place with Shaolin disciples here is the Dragon Gate Escort Agency. So I went there, seeking the antidote. However, they tried to ambush me as I entered.”

Zhang CuiShan let out a ‘huh’ and said, “But didn’t you say you purposely planned for them to think it was me?” That young woman blushed, lowered her head, and said softly, “I saw you bought this clothes at the store, and looked very… very dashing, so I went ahead and bought one too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “That would explain it. It’s just that they’re not your mortal enemies, so you really shouldn’t kill them all. That’s just too cruel and merciless.”

The young woman’s face sank, and then spoke in a cold voice, “Are you trying to lecture me? Never in my nineteen years in life have I been lectured. I know Fifth Hero Zhang is righteous and kind. You don’t have to degrade yourself into associating with people like myself. Please feel free to leave.”

After getting scolded, Zhang CuiShan’s face turned bright red. He quickly stood up and began to storm out the cabin, but then realized that he promised to cure her poison wound. So he said, “Please lift up your sleeves.” That young woman raised her eyebrows, and said, “Since you like to lecture me so much, I don’t want you to cure me anymore.” Zhang CuiShan said, “If you leave the wound like that, the poison will eventually spread. By that time, it will be very difficult to cure you.”

That young woman said, “So what? If I die from this, it will be because of you.” Zhang CuiShan asked with surprise, “What does this have to do with me?” That young woman said, “If I hadn’t tried to sent your third brother back, then I would’ve never have met those six people. If I had decided not to interfere in that matter, I would’ve never been injured. Besides, had you gotten there sooner, and helped me fight them, how could they have injured me?”

While the last sentence was ludicrous, the previous statements were quite reasonable. Zhang CuiShan said, “You’re right. I’ll help you right now to repay your kindness.” That young woman said, “So do you admit that you’re wrong?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Wrong about what?” That young woman said, “You said that I was cruel and merciless. Of course you were wrong. Those monks and all those people in the escort agency deserved to die.” Zhang CuiShan shook his head and said, “Although you’ve been poisoned, you can be cured. My third brother is gravely injured, but probably won’t die. Even if we can’t cure him, at least we should find the main culprit, instead of killing so many innocents.”

That young woman said, “So you say that I killed the wrong people? Isn’t it true that it’s a Shaolin disciple who poisoned me? Isn’t it true that the Dragon Gate Escort Agency is part of Shaolin?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Shaolin disciples fill the world. Are you going to kill all of them with a wound on your arm?”

The young woman couldn’t win this argument. In anger, she suddenly lifted up her right hand, and pressed it hard into her left arm, directly over her wounds. With this, her injury magnified.

Zhang CuiShan never in his dreams expected her to do such a thing, that she’d hurt herself over a single argument. Considering how she treated herself, it’s hardly surprising that she didn’t value the lives of others. He wanted to stop her, but was unfortunately too late. He gasped with surprise, “Why… did you have to do this?” Only to see black blood staining her sleeves. Zhang CuiShan realized that it he doesn’t do something quick, her life would be in danger. He quickly grabbed her left hand with his left hand, and his right hand began to tear off her sleeve.

Suddenly, a voice came from behind him, “Hold it right there!” as that person attacked him from behind with a knife. Zhang CuiShan knew he was the boatman, but in this critical moment, he had no time for explanation. With a swift back kick, he kicked the boatmen back out the cabin.

That young woman said, “I don’t want you help. My life and death doesn’t concern you anyway.” As she said this, she promptly slapped him on the cheek. She slapped at lightning speed, and since Zhang CuiShan had not anticipated her attack, he immediately let go of her hand.

That young woman composed herself and said, “Get out of my boat. I never want to see you again!” Zhang CuiShan, ashamed and angry by her slap, said, “Fine! I’ve never seen such an insolent girl in my life!” And he immediately turned around to leave. That young woman said coldly, “Never seen one before? Well, you saw one today.”

Zhang CuiShan picked up a block of wood to help him get back to the banks. But at the last moment he thought, “If I leave now, she’s certainly going to die.” With that in mind, he suppressed his anger and went back to the cabin, said, “I’ll just forgive you for that slap. Roll up your sleeve quickly. Do you want to keep your life or not?”

That young woman said, “What does my life have to do with you?” Zhang CuiShan said, “I must repay you for sending my third brother back.” That young woman said coldly, “Oh, you’re just trying to repay a debt. Looks like if I hadn’t sent back your third brother, you would’ve just watched me die.”

Zhang CuiShan froze a second, and then said, “Not necessarily so.” Only to see her body began to shake, signs of the poison spreading. He quickly said, “Hurry! Roll up your sleeves. Do you really have a death wish?” That young woman said while biting her teeth, “If you don’t admit that you’re wrong, then I won’t let you help me.” Her face was naturally pale, and under such conditions she looked so very fragile, arousing Zhang CuiShan’s compassion.

He sighed, and then said, “Fine. Let’s just say I was wrong. Those people all deserved to die.” That young woman said, “Not good enough. What’s with this whole ‘let’s just say I’m wrong’ deal? And why did you sight? Wrong is wrong. Say it with some conviction.”

In this moment of life and death, Zhang CuiShan can’t possibly fuss over such small details. So he yelled, “With the Heaven above and River below listening, I, Zhang CuiShan today wholeheartedly apologize to Yin… Yin…” As he said this, he stuttered. That young woman said, “Yin SuSu.” Zhang CuiShan continued, “to Yin SuSu and seek her forgiveness.”

Yin SuSu, delighted at his apology, smiled gleefully. Suddenly, her legs gave out on her, and fell back onto a chair. Zhang CuiShan quickly took out a pill of ‘Heaven’s Heart Antidote’ for her to swallow. Then he grabbed her arm and asked, “How do you feel?” Yin SuSu said, “My chest is burning up inside. Why did it take you so long to apologize? If I die, it will be all your fault.”

In this circumstance, Zhang CuiShan could only sooth her with gentle words, “Everything’s fine. Don’t worry. Just relax your whole body, and don’t try to use any energy. Pretend as if you’re asleep.” Yin SuSu glanced at him and said, “I’ll just pretend as if I’m dead.”

Zhang CuiShan thought to himself, “My gosh, she’s so unruly even at this moment. I can’t imagine what kind of anguish her future husband would suffer in her hands.” As he thought this, he found his heartbeat quickened, and his head feverish. Afraid that Yin SuSu might see through his thoughts, Zhang CuiShan glanced at her, only to see her cheeks bright red, with bashfulness mixed with frailty. When their eyes met, both quickly turned their eyes away.

Yin SuSu suddenly said quietly, “Fifth Brother Zhang, I was very rude, and even hit you. Please… please don’t be offended.”

When Zhang CuiShan heard her change from calling him ‘Fifth Hero Zhang’ to ‘Fifth Brother Zhang’, his heart began to beat quickly. After he took a deep breath, Zhang CuiShan composed himself, exerting his inner chi to his hands, which held Yin SuSu’s arm around the poisoned darts.

After a while, thick steam came from the top of his head, signs that he’s utilizing his full power. Yin SuSu was grateful in her heart, and knew that this is a critical juncture, refrained from speaking as to not break his concentration. Suddenly, a Plum Flower Dart from her arm shot out, and black blood sprung out from the wound, turning into red blood a while later. The second dart quickly followed.

At this moment, he heard someone yell from outside, “Is Miss Yin here? Red Sparrow Branch Leader requests a presence.” Zhang CuiShan needed to concentrate, and ignored him. He then heard the boatman yell, “There’s a thug on the boat. Leader Chang, please come here quick!” The first voice yelled, “Thug, if you hurt a single hair on Miss Yin’s head, you’ll die a painful death.” This person’s voice boomed across the river, its sound carried a threatening tone.

Yin SuSu opened her eyes and smiled weakly towards Zhang CuiShan, as if to express an apology. Since her right hand hit her arm at the location of the third Plum Flower Dart, it sank deeper than the other two. Even after three attempts, Zhang CuiShan could not get it out. He then felt another boat nearing, and someone walking onto this boat. But with all his concentration on this last dart, Zhang CuiShan ignored all this.

That person came into the cabin, and saw Zhang CuiShan’s hands holding tightly onto Yin SuSu’s arm. Obviously he would not believe that Zhang CuiShan’s actually trying to heal her. In his hastiness, that person’s palm shot out at Zhang CuiShan’s back, while yelling, “Still wouldn’t release your hands, thug?”

Zhang CuiShan didn’t have time to get away, so he simply took a deep breath, and with a loud pop, this palm hit squarely on his back. Zhang CuiShan knew the intricacies of Wu Dang inner power, so he simply stayed still, channeling the force of the blow through his body. Immediately, the third Plum Flower Dart popped out, landing on the floor nearby.

The person who hit Zhang CuiShan was about to follow up with a second blow, but when he saw the dart he immediately stopped, said, “Miss Yin, Are you… are you injured?” When he saw black blood pouring out her arm, he realized that he mistook this gentleman’s intentions, and felt guilty. Considering the power of his palm, he thought that Zhang CuiShan’s life was probably in danger. So he quickly took out some medicine for Zhang CuiShan to take.

Zhang CuiShan shook his head, and once the blood pouring out turned to red, released his hands. He turned around and smiled, “That was one powerful blow.” That person stood in shock. He thought of how he had killed so many powerful fighters with his palm. Yet this young gentleman could take the full brunt of his attack and act as if nothing happened. He said, “You… you…” He looked at Zhang CuiShan’s face, and immediately went to grab his wrist and check his condition. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Why don’t I play a joke on him?” Then proceeded to gather his chi and stopped his heartbeat. When that person checked his pulse and found none, he was simply appalled, not knowing what to think.

Zhang CuiShan took the handkerchief Yin SuSu just handed him, and used it to cover her wounds, then said, “Most of the poison had been flushed out. You should recover easily with the aid of common antidotes.” Yin SuSu said, “Thank you.” She then turned to that other person and said with a solemn expression, “Branch Leader Chang. Meet Fifth Hero Zhang of Wu Dang.” That person fell back a step, bowed, and said, “Oh, so it’s the fifth hero of the ‘Seven Heroes of Wu Dang’. No wonder your inner power is so amazing. My name is Chang JinPeng. Sorry for my rudeness.”

Zhang CuiShan looked at this fifty-some year old man, with tight muscles all over his body, looking very strong. He returned with a bow.

Chang JinPeng turned towards Yin SuSu and paid his respects. Yin SuSu nodded, but didn’t seem to care much for this man. Only to hear Chang JinPeng say, “Branch Leader Bai had already contacted the Sea Sand Sect, the Huge Whale Clan, and the Divine Fist Sect. The meeting time for showing the saber is tomorrow morning on QianTang river’s WangPan island. If my lady’s not feeling well, I can send you back home to Lin An. Branch Leader Bai alone should suffice taking care of these people.”

Yin SuSu said, “Humph… Sea Sand Sect, Huge Whale Clan, Divine Fist Sect… Is the head of the Divine Fish Sect Guo SanQuan going to be there too?” Chang JinPeng said, “I heard he personally led his twelve best students.” Yin SuSu said, “Although he’s quite famous, Guo SanQuan’s ability is nowhere near that of Branch Leader Bai. Anyone else important that I should be aware of?” Chang JinPeng said, “I heard two young swordsman from the Kun Lun sect will be there. They said that they want to see the Dragon… Dragon…” He paused here for a moment, and glanced at Zhang CuiShan. Yin SuSu said coldly, “They want to see the Dragon Saber, right? Their hands might become itchy…” When Zhang CuiShan heard the words ‘Dragon Saber’, his ears perked up. Only to hear Yin SuSu continue, “We can’t underestimate these Kun Lun swordsman. My injury’s no big deal. Let me see, how about we also go to the meeting. Perhaps Branch Leader Bai could use our help.” She turned around and said to Zhang CuiShan, “Fifth Hero Zhang. We should part now. I’ll go ahead on Branch Leader Chang’s boat. You can take my boat back to Lin An city. After all, there’s no reason for Wu Dang to get into all this.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “My third brother’s injury is seemingly related to the Dragon Saber. Can Miss Yin fill me in on everything?” Yin SuSu said, “I don’t know all the details either. Why don’t you go back and ask your third brother?”

Zhang CuiShan saw that she wouldn’t say, and decided against pressing further. He thought, “The people who hurt my third brother looked like they really wanted the Dragon Saber. From the tone of Branch Leader Chang, the Dragon Saber is in their hands. Should those people know about this, they’d surely come to this meeting.” So he said, “Do you think that Taoist priest who fired these darts would also go to WangPan Mountain?”

Yin SuSu showed a slight grin, but did not answer his question. Instead she said, “If you really want to go to this ceremony, then let’s go together.” She then turned towards Chang JinPeng and said, “Branch Leader Chang. Please lead the way.” Chang JinPeng answered, “Yes!” and retreated back out the cabin like servant in front of a master. Yin SuSu only nodded, but Zhang CuiShan respected this old man’s martial arts ability. So he personally sent Chang JinPeng out the door.

Yin SuSu looked at the tear on Zhang CuiShan’s clothes where Chang JinPeng had hit him. She said, “Take off your long robe. I’ll stitch it up for you.” Zhang CuiShan said, “No need!” Yin SuSu said, “You don’t trust my sewing ability?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “I wouldn’t dare.” And then remained silent as he thought about all those deaths in the Dragon Gate Escort Agency. He normally would have tried to kill anyone capable of such murder. Yet instead he saved this person’s life instead. Although he saved her because of her kindness to his third brother, he still realized that good and evil should not mix. Once this deal at WangPan Island is over, he’ll leave her immediately.

Yin SuSu saw the surly expression on Zhang CuiShan’s face, and immediately what he’s thinking. She said, “In addition to all those people in the Dragon Gate Escort Agency and those two Shaolin monks, I also killed Monk Hui Feng.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I thought that was you, except I wasn’t sure how you did it.” Yin SuSu said, “That was hardly difficult to do. I simply stayed by the river and listened in on your conversation. When that Hui Feng monk saw that you weren’t me, I simply gave him a needle in the mouth. You kept on searching for me on the ground and on trees, but I was on the boat the whole time. So of course you couldn’t find me.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Which means that Shaolin would continue to think that I’m the killer. Miss Yin, you are certainly very smart, very cunning.” Yin SuSu ignored his cynical tone, and simply responded with a smile, “Thank you for your compliment!”

Zhang CuiShan became even angrier, and yelled, “Why did you try to frame me? Since when did I ever do anything to you?”

Yin SuSu said with a smile, “I didn’t purposely want to hurt you. But since Shaolin and Wu Dang are known as the two most powerful institutions in the martial world. I really would like to see who would win in a battle.”
After getting over the initial shock, Zhang CuiShan found himself feeling less hatred towards Yin SuSu, but more wary towards her. He thought, “Looks like there’s a huge plan here, much bigger than just trying to hurt me. If Wu Dang and Shaolin really were to fight each other, the martial world would be much less peaceful.”

Yin SuSu remained quite calm, and said, “May I see the designs on your fan?”

Before Zhang CuiShan could respond, they heard someone on Chang JinPeng’s boat yell, “Is this Huge Whale Clan’s boat? Who’s there?” Another voice responded, “This boat carries the young leader of the Huge Whale Clan. We’re here for the meeting on the WangPan Island.” The man on Chang JinPeng’s boat yell, “The Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Miss Yin and Branch Leader Chang of the Red Sparrow Branch are here. Plus there’s an honored guest. Please get back behind us.” The other person yelled, “If your leader were here, we’d surely let you go first. But no one else is worthy.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “Heavenly Eagle Sect? What kind of evil sect is that? How come I’ve never heard of them? They look to be quite formidable based on what I’ve seen. This sect must’ve been established only recently, and stayed mostly in the southern area. Which is why I’ve never met them.” He opened the cabin window and looked outside, only to see a boat with a sculpture of whale carved to its head, and several curved sabers on its side, decorated as whale teeth. This boat had a huge mast, allowing it to sail much faster than Chang JinPeng and his boats.

Chang JinPeng yelled, “Young Leader Mai, Miss Yin’s here. How could you not give face to her?” A yellow-robed young man stepped to the front of the whale-boat gave a cold laugh and said, “On land the Heavenly Eagle Sect rules supreme, but on water you think you can compete with us? Why should we give you face on the river?” Zhang CuiShan thought, “This river is so wide hundreds of boats can travel simultaneously. Why do they have to make other boats travel behind them? This Heavenly Eagle Sect really is odd.”

By this time, the wind picked up, and the Huge Whale Clan’s boat is now way ahead of them. Chang JinPeng let out a ‘humph’, and said, “Huge Whale Clan… Dragon Saber… also… Dragon Saber…” It’s really hard to distinguish what he said with the huge wind and the distance between the boats.

When that Young Leader Mai heard him say ‘Dragon Saber’ twice, he became very interested, and ordered his man to sail back towards Chang JinPeng’s boat. Once nearly there, he asked, “Branch Leader Chang, what did you say?” Chang JinPeng said, “Young Leader Mai… our Branch Leader Bai… that Dragon Saber…” Zhang CuiShan thought, “That’s odd. Why does he speak in fragments?”

Only to see the two boats moving closer and closer together, until they’re only a few feet apart. Then suddenly, Chang JinPeng picked up an iron anchor on his boat and threw it onto the other boat, Amidst screaming from two sailors, the anchor swooped down onto the whale-boat.

Young Leader Mai yelled, “What are you doing?” Chang JinPeng didn’t respond, instead picked up the second anchor on his boat and also threw it onto the whale-boat, killing three sailors in the process. Now the two boats are locked tightly together. Young Leader Mai tried to pick up the anchor to get it off the boat. Meanwhile, Chang JinPeng waved his right hand, and accompanied by the sound of chains, a dark green watermelon shot out, hitting the main cabin of the Huge Whale Clan’s boat. Only then did Zhang CuiShan realize that this watermelon is Chang JinPeng’s weapon. It seemed to be made out of steel, two of them total, connected by a long chain. Each one incredibly heavy, at least sixty to seventy pounds. Only someone with incredible strength can make them move with such ease.

After hearing a huge amount of noise, Zhang CuiShan saw that the watermelon had made a cut in the middle of the boat. While the sailors on the boat panicked, Chang JinPeng retracted his watermelon and then threw both onto the back end of the whale-boat. After a while, the boat began to split apart.

That young leader could only watch helplessly as his boat broke apart. He yelled some obscenities at Chang JinPeng, who retorted, “As long as Heavenly Eagle Sect’s here, we also rule the water!” As he spoke he threw out his watermelons again, this time he made a hole at the bottom of the ship, causing water to begin flooding in.

Young Leader Mai jumped up from his boat towards Chang JinPeng’s. Chang JinPeng waited till he’s right in the middle of his jump before sending out a watermelon with his left hand. While in midair, this young leader could not hope to dodge the oncoming weapon. He immediately blacked out upon impact and fell back to his own boat.

By now, there are already several holes in the Huge Whale Clan’s boat, and its sailors could only try to hold on for dear life. Without needing any orders from Branch Leader Chang, the sailors on his boat retracted their anchors and resumed sailing.

Zhang CuiShan was thoroughly impressed by Chang JinPeng, thinking, “Had my teacher not taught me the intricacies of borrowing force to release force, His attack on my back would’ve certainly killed me. Not only is this person’s kung fu amazing, he’s also devious and clever. Must be a powerful person among the evil sects.” He turned back and looked at Yin SuSu, only to see her expression calm and ordinary, as if she didn’t really care about any of this.

Although these sailors knew how to swim, it’s still impossible for them to swim all the way to the side of the river. Many of them cried out for help. Chang JinPeng and Yin SuSu’s boats did not bother to stop for any of them.

Zhang CuiShan looked out the window at the broken-down boat. He felt sorry for these sailors, but knew that considering Chang JinPeng and Yin SuSu’s merciless attitude, he could not persuade them to save those people.

Yin SuSu looked at his expression, smiled, and yelled out, “Branch Leader Chang. Our honored guest Fifth Hero Zhang wants to do a good deed. Why don’t you save these people?” Zhang CuiShan could not believe that she would speak such words. Only to hear Chang JinPeng say, “I will carry out the request of our guest.”

He then yelled, “Listen up people. Wu Dang’s Fifth Hero Zhang wants to save your lives. If you value your life, swim towards our boats!” The Huge Whale Clan people immediately swam towards the boats, most of them made it.

Zhang CuiShan’s heart warmed, and said happily, “Thank you!” Yin SuSu said coldly, “The Huge Whale Clan kill people like objects. None of them are compassionate people. Why did you want to save them?” Zhang CuiShan was taken aback. He knew that the Huge Whale Clan is one of the four most brutal water clans in the country. Yet for some reason, he actually tried to save them today. Only to hear Yin SuSu say, “Had I not saved them, I bet Fifth Hero Zhang would’ve scolded me, ‘You are such a malicious young woman. I really regret having saved your life.’” Being told exactly what he had been thinking, Zhang CuiShan’s face turned red. He said with a smile, “You’re so cunning, how can I hope to argue over you? Saving those people will only help you atone for your bad deeds. It has nothing to do with me.”

At this moment, the tide roared like thunder, shaking everyone’s ears. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu could hardly hear each other in this situation. Zhang CuiShan looked out the window, and realized that those people in the Huge Whale Clan who hasn’t been saved are likely all dead.

Yin SuSu walked over to the back room, closed the door, and came back out a bit later, this time in woman’s clothing. She then made a gesture for him to take off his robe. Zhang CuiShan didn’t want to refuse her, and did as he’s told. He thought Yin SuSu wanted to mend his robe; instead she actually wanted him to put the robe she just taken off. Afterwards, Yin SuSu took the torn robe into the back room.

With nothing else to wear, Zhang CuiShan could only put on the robe Yin SuSu handed him. This robe is quite big, and he had no problem fitting in it. A faint fragrance came from the robe. Zhang CuiShan’s mind shivered, and looked away from her. He simply sat in the cabin pretending to look at the paintings on the all. But with the huge tide rocking the boat, plus so many worries in his mind, Zhang CuiShan could not enjoy anything at the moment. Yin SuSu did not speak with him either.

Suddenly the boat rocked hard again, even the candle was blown out. Zhang CuiShan thought, “It’s bad image for Miss Yin if she and I continue to stay in a dark room like this together.” So he opened the cabin door and sat outside, only to see the boatman desperately trying to hold the tiller, rowing the boat under these extreme conditions.

After about an hour, the tidal waves dissipated. A while later, they’ve arrived at WangPan Island.

The WangPan Island is located right at the mouth of river, where it flowed into the Eastern Sea. The island is filled with stone mountains, seemingly without residents. Two boats docked by the beach. Only to hear a horn blowing in the distance, to see two people waving flags on the beach. As the boat got closer, Zhang CuiShan saw that the two boats both have a large eagle on their flags.

An old man stood on the shore between the two boats. Only to hear him say, “Black Valiant Branch’s Branch Leader Bai GuiShou welcomes Miss Yin.” His words long but clear, although not too loud, managed to show his impressive inner power. When Yin SuSu’s boat docked, he personally put up the plank. Yin SuSu asked Zhang CuiShan to go first, before she walked down to the shore to introduce them.

How nicely Yin SuSu treated Zhang CuiShan, who introduced him to be the fifth hero of Wu Dang, really startled Bai GuiShou. He said, “It really is a pleasure to meet one of the renowned heroes of Wu Dang.” Zhang CuiShan returned with some courteous words.

Yin SuSu said with a chuckle, “Your words are so insincere. One’s thinking, ‘Darn, Wu Dang’s also here. Yet another person who wants to steal the Dragon Saber.’ The other’s thinking, ‘Man of an evil sect, I could care less about associating with the likes of you.’ If you ask me, you really should just speak your minds.”

Bai GuiShou laughed, while Zhang CuiShan said, “I did not mean any disrespect. Branch Leader Bai’s kung fu is superb. I was amazed at your ability to stretch your sound across the water. I am only here with Miss Yin, not to take the Dragon Saber.”

Yin SuSu’s expression brightened considerably upon these words. Bai GuiShou knew of Yin SuSu’s icy personality, and was quite shocked that she would warm up to Zhang CuiShan. So one could imagine just how important he is to her. That plus the fact that Zhang CuiShan complimented on his own kung fu lessened Bai GuiShou’s enmity towards Zhang CuiShan. He said, “Miss Yin, Sea Sand Sect, Huge Whale Clan, and Divine Fist Sect’s people are all here. Plus two Kun Lun swordsmen came. These two kids are extremely arrogant, nowhere near as courteous as Fifth Hero Zhang…”

As he said to here, they heard someone yell from behind, “And just how courteous is it to speak foul of others behind the back?” Two men in long, green robes appeared, with swords on their back. Both looked like they were in their late twenties, with an expression as if they want to cause some trouble.

Bai GuiShou said with a smile, “Well, look who’s here. Come, let me introduce everyone.”

Those two started to complain, but stopped when they were captivated by Yin SuSu’s amazing beauty. One simply stared at her. The other turned away immediately after a glance, but kept her in the corner of his eyes.

Bai GuiShou pointed at the man staring at Yin SuSu and said, “This is Swordsman Gao ZeCheng.” Then he pointed to the other man and said, “This is Swordsman Jiang Tao. Both are prestigious members of the Kun Lun Sect. As this is their first visit to the central plains, I’m sure they can show us their incredible swordsmanship.”

His voice was filled with sarcasm and disdain. Zhang CuiShan thought these two people would have drawn their swords, or at least rebutted Bai GuiShou, immediately. Yet for some reason, neither did anything, as if they never heard those words. Then Zhang CuiShan looked at their expressions, and figured out that they were so enchanted by Yin SuSu that they forgot about everything else. Zhang CuiShan chuckled inside, thought, “I’ve always heard that Kun Lun’s a very prominent sect, and is famous for its incredible swordsmanship. Who’d have thought that its disciples would be so ill-disciplined?”

Bai GuiShou then added, “This is Wu Dang’s Mr. Zhang CuiShan. This is Miss Yin. This is Branch Leader Chang JinPeng.” He did not elaborate on these three people when he made the introduction. In fact, he even changed from calling Zhang CuiShan ‘Fifth Hero Zhang’ to ‘Mr. Zhang’, obviously to convey their closeness.

Yin SuSu, pleased at his words, turned to look at Zhang CuiShan with a bright smile.

Gao ZeCheng’s jealously immediately acted up, stared at Zhang CuiShan angrily, and said coldly, “Martial Brother Jiang, I thought I heard back in western regions that Wu Dang is one of the righteous sects in the central plains.” Jiang Tao said, “I believe I heard that too.” Gao ZeCheng said, “Guess the sayings weren’t all that accurate.” Jiang Tao said, “Really? Well, it wouldn’t be all that surprising, considering these rumors tend to be wrong most of the time. What’s this whole deal about Wu Dang anyway?” Gao ZeCheng said, “How could a disciple of a righteous sect mingle with the members of an evil sect? Guess he really likes to sink to their level.” They didn’t realize that Yin SuSu is also a member of the Heavenly Eagle Sect, and merely implied Bai GuiShou and Chang JinPeng when they said ‘evil sect’.

After hearing these words, Zhang CuiShan immediately became angry. He wanted to rebut, yet stopped himself at the last moment. He thought that since his purpose was to look for Yu DaiYan’s killers, there was no need to quarrel needlessly. Besides, the Heavenly Eagle Sect really does deserve the title of an ‘evil sect’, as Yin SuSu and Chang JinPeng both treat killing people like eating dinner. He certainly should try to associate as little as possible with them. Zhang CuiShan therefore smiled, and responded, “Like my two friends, I’m also just newly acquainted with the Heavenly Eagle Sect.”

These words really shocked everyone. Bai GuiShou originally thought that Yin SuSu and him were long time friends. He’d never imagine they’re newly acquaintances. Yin SuSu became angry immediately, as Zhang CuiShan’s words showed blatant disrespect towards the Heavenly Eagle Sect. Gao and Jiang laughed in their minds, thinking, “What a coward. He must be afraid of our Kun Lun Sect.”

Bai GuiShou said, “Looks like everyone’s here. We’re only missing the young master of the Huge Whale Clan, but let’s not wait on him. Everyone can relax for a while, as we’ll gather at noon to show the saber.” Chang JinPeng said with a smile, “Young Master Mai’s boat had some trouble, but Mr. Zhang helped him out. He’s currently on my boat, and will make it to the ceremony.”

Zhang CuiShan saw that these two branch leaders had treated him with great respect, while Yin SuSu’s gaze revealed much tenderness. But on further thought, he felt necessary to stay as far away from these people as possible. So he said, “I want to take a stroll alone.” Before anyone could respond, he turned around and started walking into a nearby forest.

Although he felt extremely angry at Yin SuSu’s vicious behavior, there’s always much warmness in his heart whenever he thought about her. He thought, “This Miss Yin’s place in the Heavenly Eagle Sect is very high, but she’s not the leader. These two branch leaders treated her like a princess. I wonder what position does she hold?” Then he thought some more, “The Heavenly Eagle Sect obviously want to show off the Dragon Saber, yet they only sent two branch leaders to guard against these other sects. Obviously they felt no need for extra security. Bai GuiShou’s kung fu looks to be even higher than Chang JinPeng. From this I can deduce that the Heavenly Eagle Sect is indeed a very powerful group. I really should know more about them, in case they ever become enemies with Wu Dang.”

As he was thinking, he began to hear weapons clashing in the distance. Out of curiosity, Zhang CuiShan walked towards the sound, only to see Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao practicing swords with each other in the distance, while Yin SuSu watched on the side. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Master always said that Kun Lun sword art is very unique. When he was young, he even fought against a famous Kun Lun Swordsman called the ‘Sword Saint’. It really is an amazing opportunity to see their sword art.” But it’s a big no-no to secretly watch others practice their kung fu, so although Zhang CuiShan really wish to keep watching, he turned away.
However, Yin SuSu had discovered him by now and yelled out, “Come here, Fifth Brother Zhang.” If Zhang CuiShan began to leave now, he’d look like he was peeking. So he had no choice but to walk towards her. Zhang CuiShan said to Yin SuSu, “Since they’re practicing swords, we really should go away as to not distract them.” Before Yin SuSu could respond, a streak of light shined, as Jiang Tao’s sword made a cut on Gao ZeCheng’s left arm, blood came out. Zhang CuiShan froze, thought that Jiang Tao only accidentally injured Gao ZeCheng. Yet Gao ZeCheng didn’t even let out a sound. He simply continued to fight, each sword attack deadlier than the previous one. Zhang CuiShan was shocked to see them actually fighting for real.

Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Looks like the older martial brother is worse than the younger one. Brother Jiang’s sword art is more exquisite.”

When Gao ZeCheng heard these words, he bit his teeth, his fast sword stretched down at a slanted angle, using the move ‘Hundred Meters of Blazing Wind’, came slicing down from midair. Zhang CuiShan couldn’t help but yell, “Great sword technique!” Jiang Tao immediately evaded, but Gao ZeCheng’s just too experienced. In the middle of the technique, he immediately switched to a different technique. The sword tip trembled, piercing into Jiang Tao’s left leg. Yin SuSu clapped her hands and said, “Wow, looks like the elder martial brother has a few tricks up his sleeves. Guess he’s better after all.” Jiang Tao said, “Don’t be so sure.” And used the technique ‘Rain Poured on Flying Flowers’. This technique is very tricky. A real attack hides among seven or eight elegant deceptions to fool the enemy. But since Gao ZeCheng is very familiar with this technique, he was not fooled and blocked every attack. By now, both people are wounded. Although the wounds were not severe, one can still see blood spluttering out from the cuts. Their attacks became more and more ruthless, until near the end they seemingly wanted to take each other’s lives. Yin SuSu kept on encouraging them, complimenting a bit on Gao ZeCheng, then a bit on Jiang Tao. The two martial brothers became fueled to the point where they fought as if their lives depended on it.

By now Zhang CuiShan realized that their fight was initiated by Yin SuSu, as revenge for their words against the Heavenly Eagle Sect. Although their techniques are intricate, Zhang CuiShan saw that the two martial brothers lacked experience and inner power. So their amazing sword art could only be exerted at about ten to twenty percent capacity.

Yin SuSu clapped her hands and smiled brightly, as if she’s very happy. She said, “Fifth Brother Zhang, what do you think of their Kun Lun sword arts?” Before he could respond, she had turned her head around. When she saw the disgusted look on Zhang CuiShan’s face, she added, “Actually, their techniques are all crap. Let’s go watch the scenery over there at the beach.” Without waiting for his response, Yin SuSu grabbed Zhang CuiShan’s hand and began to leave.

Zhang CuiShan’s heart stirred as her soft hand gripped his own. Although he knew she was using him to further ridicule Gao and Jiang, he still could not bring himself to break himself apart, willingly followed her to the beach.

Yin SuSu stared into the distant sea, then suddenly said, “In the chapter ‘Water in Autumn’ of the book Zhuang Zi, there’s a passage which says, ‘All the waters in the world, none more than in the sea, thousands rivers flow here, not knowing when they could stop but not overflow.’ But the sea is not proud. It says, ‘I belong between the sky and the earth, just like small rocks and small plants are between the sky and the earth.’ Zhuang Zi really is an incredible book. Its philosophies are so deep and so overwhelming.”

Zhang CuiShan had been quite mad at her for inciting Gao and Jiang into fighting, but could not help but froze at these words. Zhuang Zi is a must-read for all Taoists. When Zhang CuiShan was at Wu Dang Mountain, Zhang SanFeng had used it often to explain philosophies to his students. He could not imagine this devilish lady could recite such words. After he regained his composure, Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes, ‘walking a thousand miles, would not match its immensity, climb up a thousand steps, would not match its depth.’ ”

As Yin SuSu heard his quoted description of the sea from ‘Water in Autumn’, she saw a deep admiration on his face. She said, “Are you thinking of your master?”

Deeply shocked, Zhang CuiShan unknowingly reached out with his right hand and grabbed hers. He asked, “How do you know?” Years before, when he and his martial brothers were reading this book, Yu DaiYan commented on this exact passage. He said at the time, “As we learn more and more, it appears as if we’re moving backward. The more we learn, the more apart we seem to be from master. These words described master’s bottomless, unparalleled martial arts perfectly.” Both Song YuanQiao and Zhang CuiShan nodded in agreement. So when he recited those words just now, Zhang CuiShan immediately thought of his master Zhang SanFeng.

Yin SuSu said, “Based on your expression, you must be either thinking of your parents, or a Wu Dang elder. But other than Taoist Zhang SanFeng, who else on this world can be described as ‘walking a thousand miles, would not match its immensity’?” Zhang CuiShan said happily, “You’re really smart.” But then quickly realized that it was not courteous to have grabbed her hands.

Yin SuSu said, “Just how good is your master’s martial arts anyway? Can you tell me?” Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “It’s not just martial arts. His knowledge is so broad and so deep that I can’t even begin to describe.” Yin SuSu smiled, said, “ ‘The scholar walks, the scholar moves faster, the scholar dashes, the scholar like a spirit flies into the distance, disappearing just as I look up.’” This quote was made by Yan Hui in Zhuang Zi to compliment his master, Confucius. After hearing her describe his master this way, especially as Zhang CuiShan himself felt this towards Zhang SanFeng, he said, “My master doesn’t even have to fly. He simply needs to walk for me to fall behind.”

With Yin SuSu’s cleverness, plus her wish to get on Zhang CuiShan’s good side, they had no trouble carrying on an excellent conversation. Sitting side by side on a large stone, the two forgot the outside world as they conversed.

After a while, loud footsteps came from faraway, followed by someone clearing his throat, and said, “Mr. Zhang, Miss Yin, it’s noon now. Please follow me to the place where we’ll hold the ceremony.” Zhang CuiShan turned around, and saw Chang JinPeng standing ten paces behind them. Although his expression is in a very respectful manner, there’s a slightly grin on his face, looking like an old man being happy to see a lovely young couple together. Although Yin SuSu had always viewed him as a subordinate, she still could not help but blush at this moment, and turn away. Zhang CuiShan’s cheek turned red upon seeing them, even if he’s sure of his own integrity.

Chang JinPeng turned around to lead them. Yin SuSu whispered to him, “Let me go first, so they won’t see us together.” Zhang CuiShan thought, “Since when did this young woman became so shy?” But he nodded anyway. Yin SuSu caught up with Chang JinPeng, asked, “What happened to those two Kun Lun idiots anyway?” Zhang CuiShan’s thoughts were filled with mixed emotions as he watched them disappear into the trees. Then he followed them into the mountain valley.

Upon entering the valley, he saw a grassy plain filled with several tables. Other than an elegant table to the east, all others were filled. When Chang JinPeng saw him walking near, he yelled, “Here comes Wu Dang’s Fifth Hero Zhang!” He spoke these words clearly and loudly, his voice vibrated between the mountains. After the introduction, Chang JinPeng and Bai GuiShou came up to greet him. Bai GuiShou said, “Branch Leader Bai GuiShou and Chang JinPeng, under Sect Leader Yin, welcome Fifth Hero Zhang to our ceremony.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “Ah, so the their leader’s surname really is ‘Yin’!” He responded, “Thank your for welcoming me here.” As he walked passed by the other tables, Zhang CuiShan saw everyone staring at him strangely, but didn’t thought much of it. He did not know that none of the other people here were so seriously greeted as he had been, with both branch leaders and all their sub-leaders welcoming him personally. For the other groups, only one or two sub-leaders had greeted them.

Bai GuiShou showed him to the table that wasn’t taken, on the east side. This table only has one chair, but nonetheless the most elegant one. Zhang CuiShan looked around, and saw around six or seven people at each other table. Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao sat at the sixth table. Zhang CuiShan said, “I really don’t deserve such a seat. Brother Bai, please move me somewhere else.” Bai GuiShou said, “Wu Dang is one of the most highly respected institutions in the martial world. That plus Fifth Hero Zhang’s fame, you’re more than qualified for this seat.” Zhang CuiShan remembered his master’s lesson on modesty, thought, “If big brother or master were here, they could certainly sit here. But I certainly do not deserve it.” So he once again refused the seat.

Gao ZeCheng gave Jiang Tao a glance. Then Jiang Tao picked up his chair and threw it at Zhang CuiShan’s table, over five other tables. It landed perfectly in place, demonstrating his exquisite palm ability and inner power. Gao ZeCheng yelled, “Humph, ‘most highly respected institution’? I wonder if Wu Dang’s really worthy of the title. If you, Mr. Zhang, refuse to sit there, then let us brothers take your place.” The two flew like the wind over to Zhang CuiShan’s table, next to the chairs.

For you see, Yin SuSu had told them earlier that she wanted to learn some Kun Lun sword art. Both brothers immediately pulled out their swords and began to show her their sword techniques. At first, they simply wished to get the upper hand and gain her favor. But with Yin SuSu adding fuel to fire with her words, the duel quickly got out of hand. Only when Yin SuSu left with Zhang CuiShan did the two realize that they had been duped. Obviously, the two were extremely angry, but neither could act up towards Yin SuSu. So they tried to take Zhang CuiShan’s seat in an effort to make him fight them, then they can make him look bad here in public.

Chang JinPeng put up a hand to stop them, said, “Hold on!” Gao ZeCheng was about to object, when Zhang CuiShan said, “If the two honored guests wish to sit here, then go ahead. I’ll switch seats with you!” As he spoke he began to walk towards the sixth table where the Kun Lun brothers were sitting. Yin SuSu suddenly waved her hand at him, yelled, “Fifth Brother Zhang, come here”

Zhang CuiShan wasn’t sure what she wanted to say, so he went to her side. Yin SuSu pulled up a chair and put it by her seat, said, “Why don’t you sit here?” Zhang CuiShan never imagined that she would say such a thing. Under the stares of others, he could not decide what to do. Agreeing would make it seem as if they have an intimate relationship, while refusing would make her look very bad. Yin SuSu whispered, “I need to speak to you about several matters.” Zhang CuiShan saw a hint of begging in her gaze, softened his heard, and sat down on the chair. Yin SuSu, euphoric at his decision, poured a cup of wine for him to drink.
Although they managed to grab the main table, Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao now felt even angrier, but could not act up in public. Bai GuiShou swept some dust off the chairs and said with a smile, “If the Kun Lun guests wish to sit here, then be my guest. Please, sit!” As he spoke the people from the Heavenly Eagle Sect returned to their seats. Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao thought, “This worthless fellow is too scared to sit here. So obviously his Wu Dang sect is lesser than our Kun Lun sect.” The two looked at each other, and sat down.

Only to hear a loud cracking noise, the chairs broke under them, and the two brothers stumbled to the ground, looking very awkward. But with their solid martial arts, the two quickly regained composure and got back up. Even so, everyone at the ceremony began to laugh wildly. Gao and Jiang realized that Bai GuiShou did something to the chair while dusting it. They both suddenly become conscious of just how powerful Bai GuiShou’s inner power was, much more powerful than either could’ve imagined.

Only to hear Bai GuiShou said coldly, “We all know that the Kun Lun martial arts is amazing. You don’t have to beat up on two chairs to prove it. Besides, everyone can do this simple chair-breaking kung fu anyway, right?” He waved his right hand and spoke to the ten sub-leaders under his command, “Why don’t you all try it out?”

Only to hear numerous cracking sounds, as ten chairs immediately broke apart. Those ten sub-leaders remained upright throughout the whole process, not moving a tiny bit while their chairs crumbled. Obviously this made them look much better than Gao and Jiang. Everyone here realized that Bai GuiShou was purposely making Gao and Jiang look bad. But the scene really was very entertaining, so they could not hold back their laughter.

Amidst the laughter, two sub-leaders each carried a large rock towards the main table, kicked away the scraps of the broken chairs. One said, “I’m sorry that our wooden chairs could not support the two honored guests. How about sitting on this rock instead?” These two people are renowned strongmen in the Heavenly Eagle Sect. So although their martial arts are plain, they still have the innate strength to carry these two huge rocks, each no less than four hundred pounds. They walked in front of the two Kun Lun brothers, seeking to hand the rocks to them.

The exquisite Kun Lun sword skills, unfortunately, would not be of any help to Gao and Jiang when it comes to catching rocks. Gao ZeCheng yelled, “Put that down!” The two strongmen did not listen, instead they raised the rocks above their heads and yelled, “Take it!”

When they said this, Gao and Jiang immediately retreated a few steps. They were afraid that the two strongmen did not have enough strength, and might accidentally drop the rocks onto them. Although extremely angry, Gao and Jiang did not dare attack the two strongmen.

Bai GuiShou said, “If the two Kun Lun guests do not want to sit down, perhaps we should give these chairs to Mr. Zhang!”

Zhang CuiShan had been sitting by Yin SuSu, taking in her fragrance, feeling heavenly in his heart, without a care for the outside world. When Bai GuiShou yelled out his name, Zhang CuiShan quickly returned to reality, and thought, “I can’t fall into this demonic trap, and be so closely associated with this evil sect’s lady demon.” So he immediately got up and walked over.

Although he had heard Chang JinPeng compliment Zhang CuiShan’s ability, Bai GuiShou had never seen anything himself. At this moment, he wanted to try Zhang CuiShan out. So he gave the two strongmen a meaningful glance.

The two strongmen understood his intentions, walked over to Zhang CuiShan, and yelled together, “Be careful, Mr. Zhang. Please take it!” The two people bent their knees, then used their legs’ power to help throw the rocks upward and forward, aimed towards Zhang CuiShan.

When the crowd saw this, they unwittingly all stood up to look.

Bai GuiShou originally planned to simply test Zhang CuiShan’s martial arts, and not out of malevolence. One reason is out of curiosity, as ‘Wu Dang’s Seven Heroes’ are too famous in the martial world. Another is because Bai GuiShou could not believe the famous Zhang CuiShan is actually a scholarly looking person. Finally, he saw that the icy cold Yin SuSu, who don’t seem to care for anyone, was extremely thoughtful and gentle towards this ‘Fifth Hero Zhang’. This meant that Zhang CuiShan would likely be an important character for the Heavenly Eagle Sect later on. But now as he watched the two stones headed towards Zhang CuiShan, Bai GuiShou began to regret his decision. Being a renowned Wu Dang disciple, Zhang CuiShan could surely dodge the rocks, but doing so would make him look bad. Zhang CuiShan and surely Yin SuSu would both be extremely angry. He instantly made up his mind, that should something go wrong, he would immediately put the blame on the two sub-leaders. Better execute them than face the wrath of Miss Yin.

Zhang CuiShan was very shocked to see two rocks about to fall on top of him. He couldn’t get out of the way, for then he’d look no better than the Gao and Jiang, making Wu Dang look bad. So without much thought, Zhang CuiShan called upon all his powers at this critical moment. His left hand wrote the right-hook in the character ‘martial’, redirecting the movement of the left rock. His right hand wrote the left-slant in the character ‘saber’, bringing along the right rock. The force of the two huge rocks falling down is quite enormous. Zhang CuiShan’s strong point is certainly not his arm strength. So for him to even catch one rock would be impossible. Fortunately, he has learnt the techniques Zhang SanFeng created from characters, which are some of the deepest martial arts philosophies in the world. The basis of Wu Dang’s martial arts lies not with speed, nor with power. Rather, it is all about the intricacies of using force. If one can apply the right amount of power at the right time, he can ‘move thousands of pounds using ounces of force’. Through years of learning and experience, Zhang CuiShan can use this concept readily. Borrowing the innate force of the throw, Zhang CuiShan easily redirected the directions of the two rocks directly upward.

As his long sleeves danced, the hands hidden inside the sleeves, from onlookers’ view, seemingly had caught the rocks, only to hurl them up once again. The two rocks went up one after the other, then began to descent. Zhang CuiShan floated up, until he sat down upon the higher of the two rocks.

Only to hear a loud thud, as the bottom rock hit the ground, making a huge dent in the ground. Immediately afterwards, the top rock fell on top of the bottom one, with Zhang CuiShan sitting calmly on top. He said with a smile, “The two sub-leaders’ strengths are astounding. You have my admiration.”

Those two sub-leaders could only stare at him in silence, unable to get over the shock of what had happened.

For a while, the whole place remained silent. Then everyone started to applaud, which lasted for a long time.

Yin SuSu glanced at Bai GuiShou, her expression positively delightful. Bai GuiShou was thrilled that his ‘mistake’ now turned into a big favor for Miss Yin. He picked up a cup of wine, walked towards Zhang CuiShan’s table and said, “I’ve long heard of Fifth Hero Zhang’s fame, but only today was I able to personally see your amazing kung fu. Here’s a toast for you.” As he spoke he drank the wine. Zhang CuiShan said, “You’re too flattering!” and drank a cup of wine in turn.

Bai GuiShou walked to the middle of the gathering, yelled, “My sect has recently acquired a new saber, called the Dragon Saber. Some have said, ‘Martial world’s most venerable, Prized saber dragon slaying, Controlling all under Heaven, None dares to not follow!’” He paused slightly here, his eyes swept through the entire field, letting the words sink in. Then he added, “Our Leader Yin originally planned for heroes everywhere to meet on Heavenly Eagle Mountain, so they can see our Dragon Saber. However, that would take too long to plan. We want some of our close friends to see the saber first, and spread the good word for us.” He waved his hands, and eight disciples walked into a nearby cave.

Everyone looked at these eight disciples, thinking they went in to grab the saber. Instead, they came out carrying a huge iron pot. They used poles to lift the pot, as to avoid the giant fire burnt within. The eight disciples put the pot in the middle of the gathering. Everyone sitting immediately felt the warmth of the fire. After those eight people left, four more came, carrying a large iron anvil, while two others carried two heavy hammers.
Bai GuiShou said, “Branch Leader Chang, please show us the Dragon Saber!”

Chang JinPeng said, “As you wish!” He turned around and yelled, “Get me the saber!”

The two strongmen walked into the cave. When they reappeared, one carried a yellow package, while the other guarded him. That sub-leader handed the package to Chang JinPeng, and retreated to his side. Chang JinPeng opened the package to reveal a single saber. Under the gaze of the audience, he unsheathed the saber, said, “This is the famous Dragon Saber. Watch closely!” He held the saber above his head, as if showing great respect.

Everyone here had long known about the Dragon Saber, but saw that this black saber looked quite plain. They all wondered whether this saber was real or not. Only to see Chang JinPeng give the saber to the strongman on the left, and said, “Test the hammer!”

That strongman grabbed the saber and put it on the anvil, the sharp edge facing up. The other strongman raised the iron hammer, brought it down upon the saber. Only to hear a soft scratching sound, the hammer split in half, one side stuck to the anvil, the other fell to the ground. Everyone gasped, stood up, and thought, “It’s not incredibly rare to see precious swords cut through gold or jade. But to cut through an iron hammer like tofu, without making much of a sound, is simply unheard of.

Two people from the Huge Whale Clan and the Divine Fist Sect went up to examine the broken hammer, saw that the cut was clean and shiny, meaning that it was recently made.

That strongman grabbed another large hammer, and once again brought it down up the saber, with the same result.

Zhang CuiShan thought, “I can’t believe there exist a saber as sharp as this one.”

Chang JinPeng grabbed the saber and with a seemingly light stroke cut the anvil in half. He then went to the nearby forest, and in a single swoop, used the saber to cut through eighteen trees. But oddly enough, none of the trees even moved. Just as the crowd was wondering, Chang JinPeng pushed one of the trees slightly, and the top part came down. The saber did indeed sliced through all the trees. But since it was so sharp, and Chang JinPeng’s slice was horizontal, the trunks did not fall down upon cut. Heavy wind came at this moment, the rest of the trees fell.

Chang JinPeng let out a hearty laugh, waved his hand, and threw the Dragon Saber into the iron pot.

Suddenly, loud cracking noises came from afar, as if someone else is also cutting down trees. Bai GuiShou and Chang JinPeng looked at each other, then stared into the distance, only to see the ships’ masts all falling down one after another. Not knowing what’s going on, each sect sent some people to the dock to see what’s going on.

Only to hear loud noises continue, as if the boats were all sailing within a thunderstorm. One after the other, the boats sank. Everyone gathered froze, not knowing what to say. At first, they thought it was some trick by the Heavenly Eagle Sect. But once they saw the Heavenly Eagle Sect ships sinking, they felt something else is going on.

The sects sent a second group of people to check on things. Again, no one came back.

Bai GuiShou said to one of the sub-leader, “Go check it out.” That sub-leader did as told. Bai GuiShou then turned to the audience, said with a smile, “Looks like there’s something odd going on at the beach. Don’t worry. Even if the boats are ruined, we can always make more. Come, let’s drink!” Although everyone’s uneasy about the situation, none wants to show weakness in front of others. So they all picked up their cups for a drink. Suddenly a loud scream came from afar.

Chang JinPeng and Bai GuiShou both realize that this was the scream of the sub-leader they sent out. Then, heavy footsteps could be heard, followed by the appearance of a heavily wounded man, indeed the sub-leader they sent out.

He held his hand over his eyes, as blood poured out the numerous heavy scratchs on his body. He yelled, “Golden-Haired Lion King! Golden-Haired Lion King!” Bai GuiShou asked, “Did you say it’s a lion?” He calmed down a bit hearing it was just an animal. That sub-leader said, “No! No! He was a person. He clawed to death all the people. He sank all the boats!” At this moment, his body fell to the ground, dead.

Bai GuiShou said, “Let me go see what happened.” Chang JinPeng said, “I’ll go with you.” Bai GuiShou said, “You should stay and protect Miss Yin.” He knew that the dead sub-leader’s kung fu is quite formidable. Anyone capable of decapitating him like that must be very powerful. Chang JinPeng nodded and said, “Yes!”

Suddenly they heard a voice, “Golden-Haired Lion King is already here!” Everyone gasped, only to see a man appear from behind the trees. He was tall and massive, with yellow hair over his head, his eyes shined, in his hand is a three-meter long mace. The way he stood and looked gave off the aura of a war god from Heaven.

Zhang CuiShan thought, “Golden-Haired Lion King? He must’ve gotten the nickname from his yellow hair. But who is he? Master never mentioned someone like him.”

Bai GuiShou went up to him and asked, “May I have your name?” That person said, “My surname is ‘Xie’, given name is ‘Xun’. I also have a nickname called ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’.” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, thought, “This person looks very coarse, but his name is quite elegant. His nickname is much more fitting.” Hearing him very mannerly, Bai GuiShou said, “So it is Mr. Xie. I do not believe that we have met. So why did you come to this island and start killing people?”

Xie Xun smiled, showing bright white teeth. He looked around and said, “Why did everyone else come here?”

Bai GuiShou thought, “There’s no reason to hide the truth from him. Although his kung fu is formidable, he still can’t possibly defeat Chang JinPeng and myself combined, with the help of Fifth Hero Zhang and Miss Yin.” He said, “The Heavenly Eagle Sect recently acquired a precious saber. We simply asked our friends to come take a look.”

Xie Xun examined the saber currently lying inside the huge iron pot. Its ability to keep its natural color under so much heat certainly demonstrated the saber’s value. He began to walk towards the pot.

Chang JinPeng saw his intentions, blocked the way, yelled, “Stop!” Xie Xun chuckled, said, “What do you want?” Chang JinPeng said, “This saber belongs to the Heavenly Eagle Sect. You can certainly examine it, but you cannot take it.” Xie Xun said, “Did you make the sword? Or bought it?” Chang JinPeng could not respond. Xie Xun continued, “You also took it from someone else. So if I take it from you, it’s hardly unfair. So why can’t I do it?” As he spoke he went to grab the saber.

Chang JinPeng took out the watermelons from his waist, yelled, “Mr. Xie, if you don’t stop right now, I shall be obligated to use force.” Even as he spoke his warning, his watermelon had shot out. Xie Xun did not even turn around. He simply waved his mace behind him, blocked the watermelon and redirected it back towards Chang JinPeng. Chang JinPeng gasped, quickly threw out his other watermelon to block the one headed towards him. Unfortunately, Xie Xun’s power is just too strong. Upon impact, the second watermelons changed its directions too, and both now came back towards him. In an instant, they hit Chang JinPeng directly on the chest, killing him instantly.

This sudden change of events shocked Chang JinPeng’s five sub-leaders. They immediately attacked Xie Xun. Xie Xun’s left hand grabbed the Dragon Saber, and then tipped over the iron pot with his mace. The fallen pot immediately hit three sub-leaders. Then it began to roll on the ground, hitting the other two. Four sub-leaders died immediately, while the fifth caught fire, and rolled on the ground in extreme pain.

Everyone’s gasped at what has happened. Zhang CuiShan had seen many powerful fighters in the martial world, but never someone of Xie Xun’s caliber. He knew that he has no chance against Xie Xun. Even his big brother and second brother would not likely defeat him either. Other than his master, Zhang CuiShan could not think of a second person that is this man’s match.

Only to see Xie Xun examine the saber, lightly flicked it with his fingers. He nodded, said, “Amazing, amazing saber!” He raised his head, looked at sheath besides Bai GuiShou, said, “Is this the Dragon Saber’s sheath? Give it to me.”

Bai GuiShou realized that in this situation, he’s pretty much likely to be dead no matter what. If he handed Xie Xun the sheath, his fame would go down the drain, and will likely die a terrible death when the sect leader finds out. But of course, to disobey this man would mean certain death right now. So he said, “If want to kill me, just go ahead. Do you think I am afraid of death?”

Xie Xun let out a smile, said, “Oh, a tough guy! Looks like there are some characters in the Heavenly Eagle Sect.” Suddenly he threw the Dragon Saber towards Bai GuiShou. With the Dragon Saber coming at him, Bai GuiShou wouldn’t dare block it with a weapon, nor try to catch it. He quickly evaded to the side. In a flash, ‘swoosh’, the saber entered the sheath on the table. It continued to fly forward with the momentum, until Xie Xun grabbed the saber with one of the spikes on his mace, causing it to fly backward, until it entered his hand again. Everyone was astonished by this strange way of sheathing a saber.

Xie Xun looked left and right, said, “Is there anyone else who object to me taking this saber?” He asked this question twice, without getting a single response.

Suddenly, a person from the Sea Sand Sect table rose, said, “Elder Xie is famous throughout the world. Of course, this saber should belong to Elder Xie. None of us would dare object.” Xie Xun said, “You are the chief helmsman of the Sea Sand Sect Yuan ChangBuo, right?” That person said, “Yes.” He was both happy and terrified that Xie Xun knew his name.

Xie Xun said, “Do you know who my teacher was? Which sect I belong to?” Yuan ChangBuo stuttered, “Well… Elder Xie…” Actually, he knows nothing about Xie Xun. Xie Xun said coldly, “If you don’t know anything about me, then why do you say that I am famous throughout the world? I absolutely abhor people like you. Get out here!” His last sentence roared like thunder in everyone’s ears. Yuan ChangBuo, scared of his power, obediently got up and stepped forward with his head down.

Xie Xun said, “The martial arts of the Sea Sand Sect is mediocre, but specializes in harming people using poisonous salt. Last year you killed Zhang DengYun’s family in the town of Yu Tao. Just this last month you killed Sea Gate Sect’s OYang Qin. Am I correct?” Yuan ChangBuo gasped, thought that considering how secretive these two cases were, how could Xie Xun have known about them? Xie Xun said, “Get your subordinate to bring out two large bowls of your salt. I want to see what it is.” Everyone in the Sea Sand Sect carries poisonous salts with him. Yuan ChangBuo wouldn’t dare disobey, so he could only ask his subordinates to bring out the salts, filling two large bowls.

Xie Xun picked up one bowl and smelled it, then said, “We’ll each eat a bowl.” He put the mace on the ground, picked up Yuan ChangBuo, held down his chin, and stuffed an entire bowl of the salt down his throat.
The deaths of the Zhang DengYuan family and OYang Qin were two unsolvable cases of the martial world in recent years. Both Zhang and OYang’s reputations were quite good. No one knew that the Sea Sand Sect’s Yuan ChangBuo killed them. Zhang CuiShan was actually happy to see him being force-fed poisonous salt.

Xie Xun picked up the other bowl, said, “I’ve always been a fair person. If you eat bowl, so will I.” He opened his mouth and poured the whole bowl into his mouth.

No one expected this turn of events. Zhang CuiShan saw that although he’s quite vicious, Xie Xun had quite a bit of righteousness in him. Besides, the people he’s been killing were all terrible people anyway. Overall, Xie Xun left a favorable impression in Zhang CuiShan’s mind. At this moment, Zhang CuiShan couldn’t help but yell, “Elder Xie, this person deserves to die. You don’t need to be fair with him.” Xie Xun turned to look at him, asked, “Who are you?” Zhang CuiShan said, “I am Wu Dang’s Zhang CuiShan.” Xie Xun said, “Oh, Fifth Hero Zhang of Wu Dang. Are you also here to take the Dragon Saber?” Zhang CuiShan shook his head, said, “I came to look for more information regarding my third brother’s injury. If you know something about this, please tell me.”

Before Xie Xun could respond, Yuan ChangBuo screamed in pain, held his stomach tightly while rolling back and forth on the ground. After a while, he stopped struggling, and died. Zhang CuiShan quickly said, “Elder Xie. Hurry up and take an antidote.”

Xie Xun said, “What’s the need? Give me some wine!” The Heavenly Eagle Sect member responsible for taking care of guests quickly brought a bottle of wine over. Xie Xun said, “Is the Heavenly Eagle Sect this stingy? Give me a big bowl!” That person then brought a big bowl and courteously put it in front of Xie Xun, but thought, “Drinking wine right after being poisoned, are you afraid that you won’t die quickly enough?”

Only to see Xie Xun chug the whole bowl down his throat. This bowl held at least twenty-some pounds of wine, yet he managed to drink it all up in one gulp. He patted his stomach, opened his mouth, and a streak of liquid came out, hitting Bai GuiShou’s chest. Bai GuiShou felt like being hit by continuous streaks of iron pellets. Despite his high inner power, Bai GuiShou eventually began to falter, and then fell to the ground, unconscious.

Xie Xun then turned upward, as the wine shot up and came down like rain over the Huge Whale Clan’s people. They all felt an unbearable odor coming from the water. Those without good inner power fainted. When the wine had entered Xie Xun’s stomach, it cleansed the stomach of the poisonous salt, turning the wine into poisonous wine. Then Xie Xun released it back out using his inner power, leaving very little in his stomach. Considering his inner power, this amount of poison could not hurt him at all.

The leader of the Huge Whale Clan, upon seeing Xie Xun mock his clan this way, stood up in anger. But then thought better of it, and sat back down.

Xie Xun said, “Clan Leader Mai, you plundered a seagoing ship this May, didn’t you?” Mai Jing’s face turned pale, said, “That’s correct.” Xie Xun said, “I know you are pirates. If you don’t plunder ships, then there’s no way for you to make a living. I don’t blame you for that. But to throw tens of innocent passengers overboard, raping and killing seven women aboard the ship… don’t you think that is way too cruel?” Mai Jing said, “Well… well… these are done by my subordinates. I… I didn’t participate.” Xie Xun said, “Your subordinates are a vicious lot, yet you do not discipline them. Isn’t that just as bad as you yourself doing these deeds?”
Mai Jing thought of his situation, wished only for his own survival, took out his saber, said, “Cai Si, Hua QingShan, HaiMa HuLiu, I remembered that you three participated in that day’s events!” In three flashes, he cut down three people. These blows came so quick those three people had no chance to retaliate, all died immediately.

Xie Xun said, “Good! Except it came too late, and against your own will. Had you killed these people at the time, I wouldn’t be here to duel with you today. Leader Mai, what is your most accomplished martial art?”
Mai Jing thought, “I probably can’t last even three exchanges if I fight him on land. But on water, he’s no match against me. Even if I can’t beat him, at least I can swim away. Or could he swim faster than me too?” He said, “I want to see the elder’s underwater kung fu.”

Xie Xun said, “Fine, let’s duel underwater.” He walked a few steps, suddenly stopped, said, “Hold on. If I leave, these people here might escape!”

Everyone quivered, thought, “He’s afraid that we’ll escape? Does that mean he wants to kill us all?”

Mai Jing said in a hurry, “Actually, I’m no match for Elder Xie underwater either. I’ll admit defeat.” Xie Xun said, “Really? Well, that saves me some time. Go ahead and kill yourself and be done with all this.” Mai Jing was taken aback, said, “But… but it’s just a duel. There’s no reason for the loser to commit suicide upon defeat…”

Xie Xun yelled, “Don’t give me that crap! You think you’re worthy of dueling me? I’m here to take your life. For people like us who practice martial arts, it’s not a big deal for us to shed some blood. But I only kill people who knows kung fu, and despise those who oppress the weak, kill innocent civilians. I will not let anyone who have done these things get away.”

When Zhang CuiShan heard this, he couldn’t help but glance at Yin SuSu, thought that she did indeed kill many innocents at the Dragon Gate Escort Agency. If Xie Xun knew about that, he would have to kill her too. Only to see Yin SuSu’s face pure white, her lips shivering. Zhang CuiShan thought again, “If Xie Xun really tried to take her life, would I protect her? If I did, then I would surely die. Besides, she would deserve it, but… but… can I really stand and watch him kill everyone like this?”

Only to hear Xie Xun said, “Except I want you to die without regret, which is why I challenge you to your best martial arts skills. If you know of any skill you can best me at, I’ll let you go.”

As he spoke, he grabbed two piles of dirt from the ground and mixed them with some wine, making two piles of mud. He said to Mai Jing, “Let’s see how long you can last without breathing. Let both of us cover our noses and mouths with these mud. Whoever couldn’t stand the lack of air first kills himself.” Without even asking for Mai Jing’s approval, he put one pile of mud over his nose and mouth, while slapping the other pile over Mai Jing’s.

Although everyone thought this scene is pretty funny, no one could laugh out loud.

Mai Jing took a deep breath right before the mud covered him. Then he sat down in a meditating position, motionless. He’s been catching fish under water since he was seven, and has amazing marine skills. Therefore, he was quite certain that there’s no way he could lose this duel, waited peacefully on the ground.

Xie Xun, though, could not sit peacefully. He walked in front of the Divine Fist Sect’s table, stared at its leader Guo SanQuan.

Guo SanQuan  [2] felt very uneasy under Xie Xun’s gaze. He stood up and said, “How are you, Elder Xie. I am Guo SanQuan.”

Xie Xun could not speak, but held out his right hand, dipped it into some wine, then wrote three characters on the table.” Guo SanQuan’s face turned gray immediately, looking like he just saw a ghost. His disciples all looked at the words, saw them to be ‘Cui Fei Yan’. His disciples thought, “ ‘Cui FeiYan’ is a woman’s name. Why would the master be so afraid of these characters?”

Guo SanQuan himself obviously knew, for Cui FeiYan was the wife of a relative. He wasn’t able to rape her, and killed her instead. He thought, “Looks like he’s going to kill me too. I really should attack right now, while he couldn’t breathe. This way, he’s bound to lose to Mai Jing.” He yelled, “I would like to challenge you to a duel.” Before Xie Xun could respond, his fist shot up, aimed at Xie Xun’s lower abdomen. The second fist immediately followed the first one. His ‘three fist’ name came from his amazing power in the fist. One fist can knock down a bull. Most martial artists could last at most three fists from him. He knew at the moment that he better hurry, for once Mai Jing could no longer hold out, Xie Xun would take off his pile of mud and be able to breath again. Anyone who can’t breathe while fighting would be at a severe disadvantage.

When he attacked twice, Xie Xun could block them, but with much less power than when he had fought Chang JinPeng. Guo SanQuan yelled, “The third fist is coming!” This third fist has a name, called ‘One Sweep Across Thousands of Soldiers, One Blow to Knock Down Ten Thousand Horses’. It’s his best technique. He had won many fights using this move.

By this time, Mai Jing’s face had turned red, with sweat pouring down his head, obviously unable to hold out much longer. Young Leader Mai, seeing his father in such a critical condition and Xie Xun fighting elsewhere, came up with an idea. He grabbed a hairpin from a lady sect member, and tried to stick it into his father’s mouth. Although it might hurt his father’s lips, at least the hole made by the hairpin would ensure air going in.
At this moment, a pebble came in his direction, breaking the hairpin into two pieces. The tip flew up, Young Leader Mai let out a loud scream, clutched his right eye, only to see blood coming down from his right eye, pierced by the hairpin tip.

Mai Jing raised his hands to wipe the mud off, but Xie Xun threw out two more pebbles, breaking the joints on his shoulders, preventing his arms to move.

At this exact moment, Guo SanQuan’s third fist came directly at Xie Xun’s lower abdomen. He thought Xie Xun would obviously try to evade, but for some reason Xie Xun did not move at all. The punch landed perfectly. But upon impact, Guo SanQuan realized that something was wrong, for that part of the body should’ve been very soft, while his fist felt like it hit a stone wall. But it was too late, as the impact reverberated back into his body, and he fell back, dead.

Xie Xun turned around, only to see Mai Jing now lay on the ground dead. He first wiped away the mud on Mai Jing’s face, checked his breath, then wiped the mud off his own face. He faced the sky and yelled, “These two people had been terrorizing society for too long now. Considering that they were able to live till today, the punishment came too late.” Then he quickly turned towards the two Kun Lun swordsmen, first at Gao ZeCheng, then at Jiang Tao, but did not speak for a long time.

Gao and Jiang’s faces turned white, put their hands on their swords, stared back at Xie Xun. Zhang CuiShan knew that they are Xie Xun’s next targets, stood up, and said, “Elder Xie, the people you had killed all deserved to die. But if you kill without justification, then what makes you so different from them?”

Xie Xun smirked, said, “What’s the difference? My kung fu is excellent, their’s are mediocre. The strong prevails over the weak. That is the difference.” Zhang CuiShan said, “The difference between humans and animals is that we can tell the difference between right and wrong. If the strong always oppress the weak, then how are we different from animals?”

Xie Xun laughed out loud, said, “Do you think humans really knows right from wrong? Today, our Emperor is Mongolian. He can kill as many Hans as he wished. Are you going to discuss right and wrong with him? If the Mongolians want Han people’s children and property, they simply take them. If anyone resists, the Mongols kill him. Are you going to discuss right and wrong with them?”

Zhang CuiShan pondered for a moment, then said, “The Mongolians’ actions are no better than animals. That’s why all proud Hans detestat them, hoping that one day we shall drive them off our lands.”

Xie Xun said, “Before the Mongols came, we had Han emperors. Do you think they care about right and wrong? Yue Fei was a loyal court official, yet Sun GaoZong executed him. Qin Gui was a treacherous court official, yet he lived a prosperous life, enjoying unlimited riches.” Zhang CuiShan said, “The Southern Song’s emperor was indeed a terrible one, making use of wrong court officials, finally gave our land over to the Mongolians. His wrongdoings had terrible consequences. That’s why we must be righteous, to avoid regretful consequences.” Xie Xun said, “You’re right, the emperor was indeed terrible. However, most of the people these Mongolians killed were civilians. Tell me, what evils have these innocent civilians done to deserve such fate?”

Zhang CuiShan paused.

Yin SuSu suddenly answered, “The civilians have no power to retaliate. So it’s quite normal that they’d be slaughtered.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “The reason we practice martial arts is to help those in need, defend the weak who can’t protect themselves. Elder Xie’s martial arts is unparalleled. If you use your skills for the good of the people, many will benefit.”

Xie Xun said, “What’s so good about being righteous? What’s my benefit for doing righteous things?”

Zhang CuiShan was lost for words. Since he was a child, Zhang CuiShan had been taught that one learns martial arts for righteousness. Yet he never really thought of the benefits of being righteous, only felt like it’s just simply the right thing to do. After a while, he said, “Well, if you do good deeds, then you’re on the side of justice. Doing good deeds will lead to good fortune. Doing bad deeds leads to bad fortune.”
Xie Xun laughed wildly, said, “What a load of crap! Do you really believe that?”

Zhang CuiShan thought of Yu DaiYan. His third brother had only done righteous things in his life, yet for no reason at all, he was gravely injured. Even he himself now isn’t so sure he believed these words. Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Sometimes its hard to understand the workings of Heaven. We can only try to be true to our hearts. Whether this results in good fortune or bad fortune, is not something we can control.”

Xie Xun looked at him, said, “I’ve long heard that your teacher Zhang SanFeng’s martial arts is unmatched in the world, but unfortunately never had the chance to meet him. You are one of his top disciples, yet you are so mediocre. Guess there’s no reason to visit him after all.”

Zhang CuiShan, fuming at these words that belittled his master, said angrily, “Do you think you’re worthy to judge my master’s abilities? Your kung fu is extremely high, but still nowhere near my master’s level.”
Yin SuSu hurriedly pulled on the back of Zhang CuiShan’s robe, telling him to bear with Xie Xun for the moment. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Life and death is not big of a deal, but I can’t let down the Wu Dang name.”
Oddly enough, Xie Xun did not become angry. He said calmly, “Zhang SanFeng started the Wu Dang Sect. So there must be something extraordinary about him. The philosophy of martial arts is unlimited and boundless. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s much superior to myself. Perhaps one day I will visit Wu Dang just to meet him. Fifth Hero Zhang, what is your best kung fu? I’m quite interested to see.”

 

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[1] The seven characters themselves are ‘Xie2 Feng1 Xi4 Yu3 Bu4 Xu1 Gui1’. Translated literally ‘Tilted Wind Sleek Rain No Need Return’.

[2] ‘San’ means ‘three’ and ‘Quan’ means ‘fist’. Guo San Quan means "Cannot last three fists". This is his nickname, praising his fist technique, meaning that his opponent will not last more than 3 fists.