The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) Chapter 34 – Snatching the Leadership

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The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) Chapter 34

[Zuo Lengchan slowly raised his sword and pointed the sword at Yue Buqun’s chest. Yue Buqun crossed his arms in sleeves behind his back and gazed at the sword tip without a blink. Zuo Lengchan’s right sleeve started filling up just like a sail starting to gain wind.]

Chapter 34 – Snatching the Leadership

The crowd was commenting on what they had seen when a loud and clear voice said, “Huashan School, under the careful study of Mr. Yue has thoroughly understood the sword arts from Taishan, Hengshan, and Heng-Shan Schools. Not only has he understood them, he has actually perfected them and this really makes other people admire him. If Mr. Yue doesn’t take up this headmaster position of the Five Mountains School, then there’s no one else we can choose.” The person who spoke was wearing a ragged and soiled gown. He was the leader of Beggar Clan, Xie Feng. Fangzheng, Chongxu, and he had the same thought that harm would come upon Wulin once Zuo Lengchan merged the five mountains sword schools, and that sooner or later, trouble would come upon the Beggar Clan. He also thought that it was better for the refined gentleman Yue Buqun to be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster than the wildly ambitious Zuo Lengchan.

Ever since Beggar Clan existed in Jianghu, they had always been very powerful. Hearing what the Beggar Clan’s leader said, the common people didn’t dare to rashly object to his words. Suddenly, a deep and cold voice said, “Miss Yue is proficient in Taishan, Hengshan, and Heng-Shan Schools’ sword arts. This is really commendable. If you can use Songshan sword art to win against my sword, then the whole Songshan School will accept Mr. Yue as the headmaster.” The one who said this was of course Zuo Lengchan. As he talked, he had walked up to the middle of the courtyard with his left hand gripping his sword’s scabbard. With a ringing sound, his long sword jumped out of the scabbard, and with a flicker of light, the long sword hovered in mid air. He extended his right hand and grabbed the sword’s handle. This move was extremely pleasing to the eye. With a grip of his left hand, he used his internal energy to force the long sword out. This kind of deep internal energy was rarely seen or heard of. Of course the disciples of Songshan School cheered loudly, and the heroes from the other schools also applauded thunderously.

“I… I’ll only use thirteen moves. If within these thirteen moves I can’t win against martial uncle Zuo…” Yue Lingshan replied.

Zuo Lengchan angrily thought, “You little girl dare to openly receive my swordplay? How daring! You even put a limit of thirteen moves. So you regard me as if I’m nothing.” He then coldly said, “If you can’t best me within thirteen moves, then what?”

“How… How can I be martial uncle Zuo’s match? I’ve only learned thirteen moves of Songshan School’s sword art from my father. Martial uncle Zuo can verify this with your own hand.”

Zuo Lengchan snorted.

Yue Lingshan continued, “My father said that even though these thirteen moves are Songshan School’s brilliant sword art, when I use them, he’s afraid that in just one move my sword would be shaken out of my hands by martial uncle Zuo, and it’ll be impossible for me to even get to the second move.”

Zuo Lengchan again snorted and didn’t express his opinion. When Yue Lingshan first started talking, her voice was trembling. Whether it was because her strength was depleted or because she was facing such a big hero in Wulin and became afraid, no one knew. But as she continued talking, her voice gradually calmed. She went on, “I said to Dad: ‘Martial uncle Zuo is without question Songshan School’s number one master, but he’s not necessarily the number one master in our five mountains sword schools. His martial art is high, but he may not necessarily be proficient in all the five mountains sword schools sword arts like you, Dad.’ My dad then said: ‘This word proficient, it’s easier said than done. All I know is some basic skills only. If you don’t believe me, you can fight against martial uncle Zuo once you’ve learned this kind of three-legged cat skills of Songshan School sword art. If you can fight against martial uncle Zuo’s earth-shattering Songshan sword art for more than three moves, then I’ll praise you as my good daughter.’”

Zuo Lengchan laughed coldly and said, “If you defeat me within three moves, then you’ll become an even better daughter for Mr. Yue.”

“Martial uncle Zuo’s sword art is godly, and talent such as yours has rarely been seen in hundreds of years at the Songshan School. I had only learned a few moves of the Songshan sword art from my father and I just did that recently. How can I dare to think such wild thoughts? Father told me to receive three moves from martial uncle Zuo; but I am foolishly deluded to hope I can receive thirteen moves of martial uncle Zuo’s Songshan sword art. However I don’t know whether I can fulfil my wish or not.”

Zuo Lengchan thought, “Don’t say thirteen moves, if I let you go beyond three moves, then I already have no face to show anymore.” He lifted his left hand and extended his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger to grab the point of his sword. Holding the sword point, he then suddenly let go of the long sword from his right hand and like a string plucked, the sword handle shot forward and swayed. “Make your move!”

With this stunt, Zuo Lengchan created a sensation throughout the crowd. Not only was he using his unfavoured left hand to use the sword, but he was also holding the sword by gripping the sword point with three fingers while the sword handle faced the opponent. Compared to fighting a naked blade with bare hands, fighting with a sword gripped at sword point by three fingers was ten times more difficult. Receiving a slight shake to the sword might slash his fingers, and if this happened, how would he still be able to hold onto the sword and use it?

It was obvious that Zuo Lengchan was greatly indignant and was showing complete disdain towards Yue Lingshan by using such method. In addition, he deliberately shocked everyone with this marvellous skill. Seeing him holding his sword this way, Yue Lingshan trembled. She thought, “What kind of martial art is he using? Daddy didn’t teach me anything like this.” And fear started to grow in her heart. She also thought, “Since it has come to this, what’s the use of being afraid?” With this last thought, she quickly glanced towards the crowd of Heng-Shan School’s disciples. She saw they were still in a circle but she didn’t hear any crying. She guessed that although Linghu Chong’s injury was serious, his life wasn’t threatened.

She raised her long sword above her head and bowed. This was the move called ‘The Whole School Facing the Ancestors’, which was an original sword art from Songshan. The meaning of this sword move was to show respect. Songshan’s disciples burst into cheers feeling quite pleased. Whenever Songshan’s disciples were about to trade moves with the school’s seniors, they must use this move first. The meaning was they wouldn’t dare to fight with the senior but were instead asking for some pointers from the senior. Zuo Lengchan nodded slightly and thought, “How unexpected that you can use this move! Finally you’re being clever in showing me this move. I won’t let you be too shamed then.”

After Yue Lingshan had finished using the move ‘The Whole School Facing the Ancestors’, with a flash, her long sword changed into a white rainbow as it thrust towards Zuo Lengchan. This move looked really grand, and it was precisely the essence of Songshan School’s sword art. Even though Zuo Lengchan was well educated in the Songshan School’s sword art of ‘Inside Eight Groups, Outside Nine Groups’, and in these seventeen groups, he knew very well the length and speed of each sword art group, he had never seen this move before. He was greatly startled and thought, “What move is this? From my Songshan School’s seventeen sword art groups, it seemed none of them is higher in level than this move. This is strange.” Not only was he a great master in Songshan, he was also a great scholar of martial study of this generation. So once he saw his own school’s grand and mysterious sword move, he wanted to see it clearly. He saw Yue Lingshan’s attack was coming, but her internal energy wasn’t powerful, so once her sword came to a few inches from his body, he could just shook it out of her hand. But if he did that, he wouldn’t be able to see whether there were more strange changes in the moves after this one.

As soon as Yue Lingshan’s attack came to a foot of his chest, she withdrew her sword, slanted her body, circled her long sword, and slashed down towards his left shoulder. This move looked like Songshan School’s sword art called ‘Wise Man Throughout the Ages’, but ‘Wise Man Throughout the Ages’ was faster even though it was not as grand. It also looked like the move ‘Floating Kingfisher’, but lighter and not as grand as ‘Floating Kingfisher’; It also looked a little bit like ‘Jade Well, Heaven Pond’, but ‘Jade Well, Heaven Pond’ looked more impressive and dignified. When this move was used by Yue Lingshan, it had an air of elegance about it.

Zuo Lengchan had keen eyesight and he had immersed himself in the study of Songshan School’s sword art for his whole life. The fineness and the advantages of every move and every stance, the smallest details of every complicated point, were all engraved in his mind. Now that he suddenly saw how Yue Lingshan’s move contained the strong points of the many big moves of the Songshan School’s sword art, while looking like it covered the weak points of those swordplays, he couldn’t help feeling excited, amazed, and happy, just as if he had seen a treasure falling down from the sky.

Years ago on Mount Huashan, the five mountains sword schools fought twice with ten elders from the Devil Sect and lost quite a number of masters. Many unique skills from the five schools’ sword arts also died together with these masters. Later, Zuo Lengchan had gathered all the surviving elders from the Songshan School and recorded the sword moves from their memories irrespective of their fineness and completed a sword manual. In the last dozens of years, at Wucunjing, he had altered and improved moves which weren’t fierce or grand enough to make the seventeen groups of sword moves perfect. Even though he didn’t create any new swordplay, he had rendered a great service by his arrangement of the Songshan sword arts.

Now, seeing that Yue Lingshan had used Songshan sword art that was not from the school’s sword manual and that seemed deeper compared to all the currently existing stances and moves of Songshan sword art, he couldn’t help being joyful and sighing in praise. If this sword art was being executed by a strong opponent like Ren Woxing or Linghu Chong, or even Great Master Fangzheng or Priest Chongxu, Zuo Lengchan would have to concentrate completely on fighting his opponent. Even if his opponent’s sword moves were wonderful, he would have to cope with it with all of his power that he would not have the leisure to look at the opponent’s sword art. On the other hand, Yue Lingshan’s shallow internal energy was nothing to be afraid of. In the event of a desperate situation, he could just shake the long sword out of her hand at any time and fight for real. For now, he continued observing the changes in her sword moves intently.

The crowd saw Yue Lingshan’s long sword dancing about, each move a foot away from her opponent, looking like she was deliberately giving way and looking as if she was afraid. Zuo Lengchan, though, just stood still while his face sometimes registered happiness and sometimes worry as if he had lost his mind. This kind of martial art fighting had never been seen before. The crowd looked at each other amazed. Only the disciples of the Songshan School were observing the fight intently fearing they would miss seeing half a stance.

Yue Lingshan has learned these few moves of Songshan sword art from the engravings on the cave wall on the Cliff of Contemplation. Altogether, there were around sixty to seventy moves engraved on the cave wall. After Yue Buqun had studied them, he guessed that around forty of them were most likely already known and used by Zuo Lengchan while the rest looked brilliant but seemed insufficient to move Zuo Lengchan’s heart. Only these thirteen moves were certain to awe him and make him want to see them no matter what. The stances engraved on the cave wall were definitely dead without possible variations and Yue Lingshan only used them according to the movements engraved on the wall. But when Zuo Lengchan saw them, he could imagine how all the moves could be used together, and as he thought more, the ways to use these moves seemed endless.

Yue Lingshan capably used up all thirteen moves and started from the beginning again for the fourteenth move. Zuo Lengchan thought, “Should I take a look again, or do I shake her long sword off?” These two matters were very easy for him to do. If he wanted to continue watching, even if the level of Yue Lingshan’s swordplay were higher, she still wouldn’t be able to hurt him. If he wanted to shake her long sword off then all he had to do was lift his hand to do it. But to choose between the two choices was not easy at all. All of a sudden, many things popped up in his head, “After this, I’m afraid there’d be no more chance to see these wonderful Songshan sword arts again. To kill this little girl is easy but where can I see these sword arts again? How can I ask Mr. Yue for a demonstration? If I let her continue, it’ll seem as if I can’t contend with this little girl from Huashan. How can I keep my face after that? Aiyo, she’s done more than thirteen moves!” As he thought of the words ‘thirteen moves’, the thought of becoming the leader of Wulin overpowered the idea of studying these martial arts. He flicked the three fingers on his left hand and his sword shot up and hit Yue Lingshan’s long sword generating a continuously cracking sound. Afterwards, Yue Lingshan was left only with a sword handle and an inch of her sword blade, while dozens of broken pieces lay on the ground.

Yue Lingshan jumped back and retreated for dozens of feet, then in a loud voice said, “Martial uncle Zuo, how many Songshan sword art moves did I use?”

Zuo Lengchan closed both of his eyes thinking about those sword moves Yue Lingshan used. He recalled each move one by one, then opened his eyes and said, “You used thirteen moves! Very good, it’s not easy.”

Yue Lingshan bowed and cupped her fist. “Martial uncle Zuo, thank you for your mercy in letting me show off my meagre skills in using thirteen sword moves of the Songshan sword art in front of you.”

The crowd sighed in admiration at the divine martial art Zuo Lengchan used to break Yue Lingshan’s long sword. But Yue Lingshan had declared before that she was going to use thirteen moves of Songshan sword art in front of Zuo Lengchan. The majority of the crowd thought it wouldn’t be an easy thing even to manage using three moves, let alone thirteen moves. But unexpectedly Zuo Lengchan had acted like a crazy person and let her execute up to the fourteenth move before striking out. Everyone was surprised, and there were people who thought wildly and believed Zuo Lengchan was a pervert because his mind seemed to have gone blank in front of such a beautiful young woman as an opponent.

From the Songshan School’s cluster, a thin old person walked out. He was ‘Crane Hands’ Lu Bai and he said in a clear voice, “Headmaster Zuo’s divine martial art is unrivalled. Everyone can see how elegant and open minded he is. How absurd of this Miss Yue to show off some basic skills of my Songshan School’s sword arts in front of him! Headmaster Zuo merely waited for her to exhaust her skills before subduing her. In the martial art study, it’s quality over quantity, so no matter which sect’s or which school’s martial art you’re using, you must practise them until you reach the pinnacle of that martial art and only then can you stand in Wulin…” He only said till here when the crowd started nodding their heads. These words had touched directly at the thoughts of each person there. These men of Jianghu, besides a few masters there, had actually only learned the martial art of one school. So when Lu Bai said it was quality over quantity in the study of martial art, they all approved of it. But whether these people actually had ‘quality’ enough in their own martial art, it was very difficult to say. On the other hand, it could certainly be said that these people did not know a large ‘quantity’ of martial arts.

Lu Bai went on, “This Miss Yue is quite smart. When other schools were practising their swordplay, she secretly peeped in and stole some sword moves, then praised herself to be proficient in the five mountains sword schools’ sword arts. Actually, each school’s martial art has its own secret that’s passed down personally by the masters. If you only peeped into the moves of each stance, then how can you say that you’re ‘proficient’ in them?” The crowd again nodded their heads, and they all thought, “Stealing other schools’ martial art is Wulin’s biggest taboo. The consequence of this will definitely fall on Yue Buqun’s head.”

That old person continued, “How can you praise yourself to be proficient in other school’s martial art if all you did was peeked at other people’s wonderful stances and learned it yourself? Did you teach yourself that school’s martial art secret? If not, then how can that be a highly wonderful move? I steal yours, you steal mine, wouldn’t that be chaotic?” Right after he finished saying this, many people in the crowd burst into laughter.

Yue Lingshan had used Hengshan sword art to defeat Mr. Mo Da and used Heng-Shan sword art to defeat Linghu Chong. However, in both fights, it looked as if they had given way to her. But when she used Taishan sword art to defeat Yuqingzi and Yuyinzi, she truly used real skills. She was actually proficient in the sword moves she used to fight Yuqingzi and Yuyinzi, and yet because she had attacked them when they were unprepared, it could still be said that she used her fine sword art in an opportunistic way to gain triumph. Even though she only pretended to know the move ‘Daizong Way’, besides the masters of Taishan School, no one else knew of the sham. However, the crowd wasn’t willing to acknowledge that outsiders could be proficient in the martial art of another school. So when they heard what Lu Bai said, many people added their voice to the commotion created by the Songshan School’s disciples. When Lu Bai saw his speech had gained the acknowledgement of the crowd, he looked pleased with himself, and raised his voice to say, “So, for this position of headmaster of the Five Mountains School, there’s no one better than Headmaster Zuo to occupy it. Also it should be known, to learn one type of martial art to its pinnacle is much better than learning a lot of martial art shallowly.” When he said these words, they were clearly pointed at Yue Buqun. Dozens of young disciples of Songshan School cheered loudly at this. Lu Bai said, “Within the five mountains sword schools, if there’s anyone who’s confident of defeating Headmaster Zuo, then please come out and show us your skill.” He turned around but no one came up.

Originally, the Peach Valley Six Fairies would surely have come out to talk nonsense. But at this time, Yingying was worried about helping Linghu Chong, so she didn’t have time to direct the Peach Valley Six Fairies in making trouble for the Songshan School. Peachtree Root Fairy and his five brothers were looking at each other, but they couldn’t come up with an idea on what was best to do. ‘Tower Holding Palm’ Ding Mian shouted loudly, “Since no one wants to challenge Headmaster Zuo, Headmaster Zuo is favoured by everyone here. Then we’ll ask him to be our Five Mountains School’s headmaster.”

Zuo Lengchan feigned humility and said, “There’s an abundance of talented people in the Five Mountains School, I have no virtue and no ability, I don’t deserve to take up this heavy responsibility.”

Songshan School’s seventh protector Tang Yinge said clearly, “The position of headmaster of the Five Mountains School is a high position and has heavy responsibility, but we have to push Headmaster Zuo into taking this difficult job so that the thousands of Five Mountains School’s disciples have good fortune, and we can contribute greatly to the orthodox path in Jianghu. Headmaster Zuo, please become our leader!”

Suddenly, gongs and drums reverberated loudly, while firecrackers went off in succession. All these had been prepared beforehand by the Songshan School’s disciples. As the thunderous sound of firecrackers erupted, Songshan School’s disciples along with the invited friends of Zuo Lengchan cried out, “Headmaster Zuo, please ascend the throne! Headmaster Zuo, please ascend the throne!”

Zuo Lengchan leapt up and landed lightly on top of the place of worship. Just then, it was already dusk and the sun was about to go down the mountain. As the setting sun shone slantingly on Zuo Lengchan, the apricot yellow gown he was wearing glittered like gold and added to the grand atmosphere. He cupped his fist and turned his body around to greet the crowd below the place of worship. “Since everyone is pushing me into it, if I don’t agree to take on this difficult responsibility, it would seem like I was protecting my own reputation and was not willing to make a contribution to the orthodox path in Wulin.” Several hundred people from the Songshan School thunderously cheered and applauded.

Suddenly, a female voice interrupted, “Martial Uncle Zuo, you broke my long sword. But just by breaking my sword, how can you become the headmaster of the Five Mountains School?” The one who said this was Yue Lingshan.

“All the realm’s heroes are here. Everyone said before that it was a sword competition to take the leadership. If Miss Yue can break the long sword in my hand like that, then everyone will accept Miss Yue to be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster,” Zuo Lengchan said.

“Of course I can’t win over Martial Uncle Zuo. But within our Five Mountains School, it’s not necessarily true that there’s no one whose martial art is better than Martial Uncle Zuo,” Yue Lingshan replied.

From among the people in the Five Mountains School, Linghu Chong was the only one Zuo Lengchan was afraid of. Ever since Linghu Chong had gotten heavily injured after fighting against Yue Lingshan, Zuo Lengchan had felt relieved and confident. Now hearing Yue Lingshan’s reply, he retorted, “So according to Miss Yue’s opinion, within the Five Mountains, there’s someone whose martial art can defeat me? Is this person your father, your mother, or your husband?” Songshan School’s disciples exploded in laughter.

“My husband is of a lower generation, so he must yield to Martial Uncle Zuo if he were to fight. My mother’s sword art is well-matched with martial uncle Zuo’s. While my father, I think his skills are slightly higher than Martial Uncle Zuo’s,” Yue Lingshan said.

Songshan School’s disciples jeered at this. Some whistled loudly while some stomped their feet on the ground.

Zuo Lengchan said to Yue Buqun, “Mr. Yue, your daughter regards your martial art really highly.”

“My little daughter can’t stop her mouth blabbering. Brother Zuo doesn’t have to treat her seriously. My swordplay is nothing when compared to Shaolin School’s Great Master Fangzheng, Wudang School’s Priest Chongxu, and Beggar Clan’s Leader Xie,” Yue Buqun replied.

Zuo Lengchan’s face changed colour when he heard this. Yue Buqun had mentioned three names but his name was not one of them. Clearly, Yue Buqun was praising himself to be better than Zuo Lengchan in front of everyone.

Ding Mian said, “How about compared to Headmaster Zuo?”

Yue Buqun replied, “Brother Zuo and I have known each other for many years and we respect each other. Both Songshan and Huashan Schools’ sword arts are strong, and in the last hundreds of years there has been no distinction on which one is higher. So it’s very hard for me to answer Brother Ding’s question.”

“Judging from Mr. Yue’s tone, it sounded like you believe yourself to be stronger than Headmaster Zuo?” Ding Mian said.

“The master said: ‘A gentleman has nothing to fight about but if it must be, he will fight’. Since ancient times, it’s unavoidable to dispute over how high someone’s martial art is. I’ve long harboured a wish to ask Martial Brother Zuo for pointers. But today is our new Five Mountains School’s inauguration, and we haven’t selected a headmaster yet. If Brother Zuo and I have a sword fight, then it’ll look as if we’re having a fight for the position of the Five Mountains School’s headmaster. Then it’ll be unavoidable for people to gossip,” Yue Buqun said.

Zuo Lengchan said, “If Brother Yue can win against this sword in my hand, then Brother Yue will be the headmaster of the Five Mountains School.”

Yue Buqun waved his hand a few times and said, “It’s not necessarily true that a person with high martial arts will also have high moral behaviour. If I manage to win against Brother Zuo, it’ll not necessarily be true that I’d be able to win against the rest of the masters in the Five Mountains School.” The way he said these words was very modest, but each meticulously said word proclaimed that he was a level better than Zuo Lengchan. Zuo Lengchan got angrier the longer he listened. He coldly said, “Brother Yue’s reputation as ‘Gentleman Sword’ shakes the whole world. The word ‘Gentleman’ is well known to everyone. But this word ‘Sword’, we’ve heard of it a lot, but have rarely seen it. Today, as the entire world’s heroes have gathered here, I’ll have to ask Brother Yue to show your brilliant sword art so as to let everyone here open their eyes!”

Many people called out, “Go up and fight, go up and fight!” “All talk and no action, what kind of hero is that?” “Go and have a sword fight, decide which one is stronger, what’s the use of boasting?”

Yue Buqun put both of his hands behind his back and stayed silent. His expression was solemn and respectful, and there was a hint of worry in his face. When Zuo Lengchan was planning to merge the five mountains sword schools, he had already known the martial arts of each master from the other four schools, and was confident that no one from those four schools would be able to win against him. So he did his utmost to push this merger through. Otherwise if there was someone with a more powerful martial art than him, then after the merger of the five mountains sword schools, this position of headmaster might be snatched by other people. If that happened, wouldn’t that be benefiting other people instead? Yue Buqun’s swordplay was brilliant and his attainment of the ‘Divine Art of Violet Twilight’ was also not low; both of these things were well known to Zuo Lengchan.

Thus, Zuo Lengchan incited Feng Buping, Cheng Buyou, and other masters from the Sword Branch to go up Mount Huashan, and he also sent more than ten other good fighters from other schools to attack Yue Buqun at the God of Medicine Monastery. Although they failed, they managed to gather in detail the level of Yue Buqun’s martial art. After Zuo Lengchan personally saw Yue Buqun fighting against Linghu Chong at the Shaolin temple, he became even more at ease. Even though Yue Buqun’s sword art was wonderful, he was still not Zuo Lengchan’s match. When Yue Buqun kicked Linghu Chong, he even got his right leg broken. That showed his internal energy cultivation was just mediocre. But as for this little kid Linghu Chong, he seemed to have suddenly advanced greatly in his sword art, which was really beyond his expectation. But he couldn’t always be afraid of this loafer, and just give up this big matter that he had been planning for tens of years already. Moreover, Linghu Chong’s strong point was only in his swordplay, while his barehand martial art was very ordinary. If they were to fight for real and he couldn’t win by his swordplay, then he would use his fist and palm at the same time and he could immediately take Linghu Chong’s life then. However, all his anxiety left him completely when he saw Linghu Chong had gotten himself willingly injured under Yue Lingshan’s sword.

Now, hearing the Yue father and daughter speaking so boastfully, he thought, “I don’t know how you did it, but you’ve studied the lost unique skills of the five mountains sword schools, and now got yourself deluded over this. If you, Yue Buqun, were fighting me, and suddenly use these moves, you would’ve intimidated me. But it was the wrong move to let your daughter use them first. Now I’m already prepared for these moves, so what’s the use of using them again?” He also thought, “This person is very calculating and careful, if I can beat him up good and proper in front of all the heroes here then he won’t be cocky anymore. Otherwise, he’ll remain in my Five Mountains School and be a big trouble the future.” So he said, “Brother Yue, all the world heroes have already asked you to go up and show your skill, how can you not give them face?”

“Since Brother Zuo said it, I’ll have to respectfully obey your order,” Yue Buqun replied, and then step by step he walked up the place of worship.

Thinking there was a good show to be seen, the crowd cheered happily.

Yue Buqun folded his hands in salute and said, “Brother Zuo, we’re now under the same school. So we’ll just stop at skin-deep when comparing our skills. What do you think?”

“Brother, you must definitely be careful. I’ll do my best not injure Brother Yue,” Zuo Lengchan replied.

The people from the Songshan School called out, “You haven’t fought yet but you are already asking for mercy! It’s better not to fight then.” “The blade isn’t born with eyes. Once it moves, who can guarantee you won’t be harmed or killed?” “If you’re afraid, then be clever and accept defeat and descend from the fight courtyard. It’s not too late.”

Yue Buqun smiled and said clearly, “The blade isn’t born with eyes. Once it moves, it’s difficult to avoid death or injuries. These words are right.” He then turned his head toward Huashan School’s disciples and said, “Disciples of Huashan, listen to me: Martial Brother Zuo and I are going to compare skills. There’s no enmity in this. If Martial Brother Zuo slips and kills me, or heavily injures me, that’s just because the battle is too fierce and it’s not easy to stop an inch away. No one must hate Martial Uncle Zuo for this, and you must also not seek revenge on the people from Songshan School, so that you don’t ruin the loyalty within our Five Mountains School.” Yue Lingshan and everyone else acknowledged him loudly. Zuo Lengchan didn’t expect him to talk like this so he said, “Brother Yue understands about righteousness very deeply. The loyalty within our school is most important. That’s very good.”

Yue Buqun smiled and said, “The merger of our five schools into one was the most difficult thing to do. If the peace of the Five Mountains School is harmed because of the two of us comparing our sword techniques and inner fighting between martial brothers in the Five Mountains School occurred, then that’ll be counter to the original meaning of merging the schools.”

“Right!” Zuo Lengchan agreed, while he thought, “This person is very timid. I should take advantage of this and subdue him now.” When masters fight, internal strength and movements were very important, but winning and losing was often decided by the strength of will. Zuo Lengchan secretly felt happy that Yue Buqun was showing a weakness. With a ringing sound, he drew his long sword out. When the long sword cleared the scabbard, the sound unexpectedly reverberated throughout the whole valley. Zuo Lengchan had moved his inner energy in a unique way so that the edge of the sword struck the inner wall of the sheath continuously as it comes out of its sheath and emitted a thunderous ringing sound. The people who didn’t know the reason for this were astonished greatly. The people from Songshan School again cheered loudly.

On the other hand, Yue Buqun pulled out his long sword along with its scabbard from his waist. Then he freed the sword from its sheath, and slowly and silently pulled it out. Judging from the way these two people pulled their swords out, it could be said that this sword fight was between a master and a novice. It looked as if the outcome was already certain that there was no need for a fight.

Linghu Chong’s shoulder blade was pierced by the long sword which penetrated all the way to the front and as a result, he suffered a really heavy injury. After witnessing Linghu Chong getting injured, Yingying became really worried and without caring about her disguise, she rushed forward with her long sword raised to protect him. Once the Heng-Shan School’s disciples had surrounded him, Yihe took out the ‘White Cloud Bear Gallbladder’ pill and nervously spilled out five to six pills and put them in Linghu Chong’s mouth. Yingying had already sealed the acupoints on his chest and on his back to stop the bleeding quite some time ago. Yiqing and Zheng E separately applied the ‘Heavenly Connecting Glue’ on his wound. When it was their headmaster who was injured, how could the disciples be stingy in using the medicine? They weren’t afraid to apply ample amounts of medicine. In fact, they regarded this priceless medicine like it was just mud as they applied it thickly on his wound. Even though Linghu Chong’s injury was serious, he was still clear-headed. When he saw how Yingying and the Heng-Shan School’s disciples were deeply concerned for him, he felt apologetic, “Just because I wanted to make little martial sister smile, I made Yingying and martial sisters from Heng-Shan School worried to death.” He immediately smiled and said, “I don’t know how, I got careless and got… got injured. Don’t… don’t worry. No need… no need…”

“Don’t say anything,” Yingying rebuked. Even though she tried her best to sound coarse, it was still very hard to cover up her feminine voice. All the disciples of the Heng-Shan School were stunned to hear this bearded man having a tender and soft voice.

Linghu Chong said, “Let me… have a look… have a look…”

“Yes,” Yiqing answered, and pulled her two martial sisters who were in front of his body to the side to let him watch Yue Lingshan’s fight with Zuo Lengchan. Linghu Chong saw Yue Lingshan using Songshan sword art; Zuo Lengchan breaking her sword, and finally Zuo Lengchan and Yue Buqun facing each other for a fight on top of the place of worship place. All these he observed vaguely.

With his long sword pointed to the ground, Yue Buqun turned around to face Zuo Lengchan with a smile on his face. At this time, they were around twenty feet away from each other. The crowd was holding their breath and the whole Songshan mountaintop was deathly quiet. But Linghu Chong heard a really faint voice reciting a scripture, “If fierce beasts surrounded you and you were frightened by their sharp teeth and claws, you could call Bodhisattva Guanyin’s name, and all the beasts would quickly leave. When you see venomous serpents and scorpions, you can call Bodhisattva Guanyin’s name and praise her holy power, then they will go back to their lairs. When lightening and thunders strike the ground and hail and heavy rain start pouring down, one can call Bodhisattva Guanyin’s name and praise her holy power so that the bad weather would stop and disappear. For all living creatures, there are so many difficulties, but the holy and wonderful power from Bodhisattva Guanyin will help us get through all of them….” The voice reading this scripture was very sincere and earnest. Linghu Chong knew straight away that it was Yilin who was praying to Guanyin for his well being. Many days ago, in the outskirts of Hengshan city, Yilin had once read this scripture to him. This time he didn’t turn his head around to have a look, but he remembered clearly how Yilin looked like on that day long ago when her eyes were full of love and her beautiful face looked soft and warm. A soft and warm feeling bubbled up inside his heart, “Not only Yingying, Martial Sister Yilin also regards me more important than their own lives. Even if my body were grounded to dust and all my bones were broken, it’d still be hard for me to repay their kindness.”

Zuo Lengchan saw Yue Buqun’s sword was across his chest while his left hand was in a sword-form poised for writing letters. Zuo Lengchan knew this move was a Huashan sword art called ‘Poetry Sword to Meet Friends’. It was the stance Huashan School used when having a friendly fight against people from the orthodox path. The meaning behind this move was when cultured men make friends, they combine sentences together to make poems, while when martial men make friends, they compare martial skills. When this move was used, it made it clear that there was no enmity between the opponents. So the sword fight should only decide the winner and loser, and mustn’t take each other’s lives. There was a smile on the corner of Zuo Lengchan’s mouth as he said, “No need to be polite,” while he thought, “Yue Buqun is praised as a gentleman, but I see he’s more of a hypocrite. It’s not necessarily because of his good heart that he’s not showing any kind of hostility towards me. One, he might be afraid. Second, he’s trying to make me bold and careless so that he can try to catch me off guard and kill me.” Zuo Lengchan pointed his left hand out to the side while his right hand aimed the long sword forward. This move was Songshan School’s sword art called ‘Opening the Gate to See the Mountain’. He used this sword move to say, if you want to fight then fight, there’s no need to be putting on air, and it also implied that his opponent was a hypocrite. Yue Buqun let out a sigh and thrust his long sword forward with the point of the sword continuously trembling. When the sword reached midway, it suddenly turned around and shot up changing into the Huashan sword art ‘Concealed Green Mountain’. The sword point was vague, like it was there and wasn’t there, as it fluctuated endlessly.

Zuo Lengchan slashed down powerfully in an earth-shaking imposing manner. Many of the spectators gasped and cried out. Originally, this move didn’t exist as part of the Songshan sword art. But Zuo Lengchan borrowed a stance from the barehanded martial art, and used his sword like it was his fist. This move ‘Split Huashan Open’ was very ordinary and was thoroughly understood by everyone who had ever studied barehanded martial art before. The five mountains sword schools had been communicating with each other for several hundred years already. So not only Songshan sword art didn’t have this move, even if it existed, with Huashan School’s name in its name, they probably wouldn’t have used it or maybe they would’ve changed its form. At this time, Zuo Lengchan had intentionally changed this existing barehanded martial art into a sword move to infuriate Yue Buqun. Songshan sword art always looked grand and when he used this ordinary move ‘Split Huashan Open’, it still looked like it could split mountain and still unleash the power of Songshan sword art. Yue Buqun leaned to a side to dodge it while thrusting his sword slantingly using the move ‘Forest of Ancient Pine’. Zuo Lengchan saw his movement was tight and cautious, like it wasn’t seeking for a result but to avoid making a mistake and it was precisely the method to use when having a long fight. It was obvious Yue Buqun wasn’t feeling angry from the two movements ‘Opening the Gate to See the Mountain’ and ‘Split Huashan Open’ that Zuo Lengchan used. Zuo Lengchan appraised his opponent was a strong enemy and if he kept on fighting him contemptuously, randomly using new moves, then he would’ve given him too much advantage. So he immediately slashed his long sword from left to right using Songshan School’s real sword art ‘Jade Dragon Outside of Heaven’.

Songshan’s disciples had all learned this move, but who could have used it in such a surging and grand manner? As Zuo Lengchan’s long sword traversed through the air, it looked bent and straight, like it was something alive, and the disciples all cheered loudly. From the moment the heroes of the other schools arrived at Mount Songshan, they had been watching the Songshan School’s people beating drums, releasing firecrackers, and applauding Zuo Lengchan no matter what he said. So everyone in the crowd felt at least some loathing in their heart. But this time, when they heard Songshan disciples cheering loudly, they felt that it was reasonable, so they also cheered. This move of ‘Jade Dragon Outside of Heaven’ executed by Zuo Lengchan looked as if a spirit snake or a divine dragon came to life. Regardless of whether they used sword or other weapons, the people in the crowd all sighed in praise. When the old masters of Taishan and Hengshan School saw this move, they all couldn’t help rejoicing, “Lucky the one he’s fighting up there is Yue Buqun, and not me!”

Zuo Lengchan and Yue Buqun were using their own school’s sword art to fight each other. Songshan’s sword behaved more like a halberd; its qi was very thick akin to a thousand soldiers and ten thousands horses rushing forth, scattering yellow dust from thousands of li away. Huashan’s sword was light and lively, like a pair of swallows flying amongst the willow during the spring time, going high and low, left and right, and flying around. In that moment, even though Yue Buqun didn’t look like he was going to lose, the Songshan sword qi from the sword art’s mostly offensive moves was slashing everywhere on top of the place of worship that Yue Buqun tried not to clash his long sword with his opponent’s sword the entire time. It was evident that even though his sword art was wonderful, it was only relying on ‘agility’ and therefore not a match for the powerful Songshan sword art.

It seemed the two of them were masters of the martial study, so as they competed swords, there was no fixed path or structure that they followed. Zuo Lengchan used the seventeen sword paths of the Songshan sword art all mixed together. Yue Buqun used fewer sword stances but Huashan sword art had many complicated variations and the moves also came out one after another effortlessly. After trading more than twenty moves, Zuo Lengchan suddenly lifted the long sword in his right hand while his left palm fiercely struck out. This palm enveloped thirty six fatal acupoints on his opponent’s upper body, and if Yue Buqun were to dodge it, he would immediately be pierced by the sword. But Yue Buqun’s face turned purple as he gathered his qi and shot his left palm out to clash palms with Zuo Lengchan. With a thunderous sound, the two palms clashed. Yue Buqun flew back, but Zuo Lengchan just stood there motionless.

Yue Buqun called out, “Is that palm move Songshan’s martial art?”

Linghu Chong was deeply concerned when he saw the two of them had clashed palms. He knew Zuo Lengchan’s Polar Ice Energy was very formidable. Even Ren Woxing with his deep and abundant internal energy was in a very dangerous situation after being hit by it, and it unexpectedly made the four of them into snowmen. Even though Yue Buqun had been cultivating his qi for a long time, it still wasn’t as good as Ren Woxing. So if they were to clash palms a few more times, even if he didn’t turn into a frozen corpse, it was certain that he wouldn’t be able to endure it.

Zuo Lengchan smilingly said, “This is the palm move I created. I’ll pick a disciple from the Five Mountains School and impart this skill to him in the future.”

“I have to ask Brother Zuo for some pointers then,” Yue Buqun replied.

“Very good,” Zuo Lengchan replied while he thought, “His Huashan School’s ‘Divine Art of Violet Twilight’ is also very good. After he received my ‘Polar Ice Energy Palm’, he could speak without quivering.”

Zuo Lengchan immediately wielded his long sword and thrust it towards Yue Buqun. Yue Buqun counterattacked with his sword. After many moves, a crashing sound was heard as they again clashed palms. Yue Buqun’s long sword circled and slashed out at Zuo Lengchan’s waist. Zuo Lengchan blocked it with a vertical sword move, moved his qi into his left palm and struck out at the back of Yue Buqun’s body. This downwards palm strike had a powerful force and was wonderfully positioned. Yue Buqun turned his left palm around and with a light clapping sound, they clashed palms for the third time. Yue Buqun lowered his body to fly out. But Zuo Lengchan felt an aching pain in the middle of his left palm. He lifted his palm to have a look and saw there was a small hole there with black blood seeping out. Half startled and half angry, he scolded, “Crafty thief, shameless!”

He was thinking Yue Buqun must have concealed a poisonous needle in his palm and this had pierced the middle of his palm when they suddenly clashed. The blood seeping out of his palm had already turned black from poison. He never thought this person with the nickname ‘Gentleman Sword’ would actually have such a contemptible conduct. He inhaled a breath of air, and tapped three acupoints on his left shoulder with his right finger to stop the poison from going up. He thought, “Such a trivial poison needle, how can it stop me? But I must fight him quickly and mustn’t let him drag it along.” He promptly attacked with his sword like a blast of rain. Yue Buqun wielded his sword to counter attack, his sword moves had also changed into very violent moves. At this time, the evening had just set in, and the fight between these two people on the place of worship couldn’t be seen that clearly anymore. But it was still easy to see by everyone gathered around the place of worship that the fight had turned deadly. Great Master Fangzheng said, “Mercy, mercy! Why did you suddenly turn so violent?”

After more than ten moves, Zuo Lengchan felt the poison on his palm spreading up while his opponent’s defence remained very tight so he kept on increasing the force of his sword. Yue Buqun was finding it hard to keep up and seemed like he was unable to keep blocking anymore. Suddenly, Yue Buqun changed his swordplay. Now, his sword was suddenly extending and withdrawing, and the stances looked really strange and weird. The crowd below the place of worship was surprised and one by one whispered to each other, “What sword art is this?” The people being asked were asking back, and every one was just shaking their heads without being able to summon up an answer.

Linghu Chong had been leaning on Yingying. When he suddenly saw his master’s swordplay becoming both fast and weird, and very different from the sword art of Huashan School, he was surprised. Then he glanced around and saw that Zuo Lengchan’s swordplay had also changed. Now, Zuo Lengchan was using sword moves which were unexpectedly very similar to the ones his master were using. The two of them were attacking and defending very quickly, and the swordplay coordination between the two of them was seamless, as if they were martial brothers who had been practising this set of sword arts together for dozens of years already. In the next twenty moves, Zuo Lengchan kept on advancing with each of his move while Yue Buqun continuously retreated.

Linghu Chong was very good at looking at flaws in other people’s martial art. So he was getting really anxious when he saw the flaws in his master’s swordplay getting bigger and bigger while the situation was getting more and more dangerous. Seeing that Zuo Lengchan’s win was guaranteed, Songshan School’s disciples cried out in joy. Zuo Lengchan’s attacks were swift and continuous.

When he saw his opponent’s swordplay was disorderly and that within ten moves he would be able to disarm him, he became happy and he hurriedly increase the strength of his attack. Sure enough, as his sword slash was blocked by Yue Buqun, he felt the strength in Yue Buqun’s arm was quite weak. Zuo Lengchan twirled his sword quickly and Yue Buqun was unable to hold on to his sword as it was sent shooting up into the sky. Songshan School’s disciples cheered thunderously.

Suddenly, Yue Buqun rushed forward with his bare hands. Both of his hands attacked ruthlessly with seizing, stabbing, and slapping strikes. His body was floating like a ghost, shifting here and there. He shifted to the west, while his hand unthinkably attacked quickly and strangely. Zuo Lengchan was astonished and called out, “This… This… This…” and exerted himself to block.

Yue Buqun’s long sword had dropped straight onto the place of worship penetrating the ground, but no one paid any attention to it.

“Dongfang Bubai!” Yingying whispered.

Linghu Chong was also thinking of the same thing. The move his master used at that moment was the same martial art that Dongfang Bubai had used with the embroidering needle when fighting against the four of them. He was so astonished that he forgot about his injury and stood up. From besides him, a small hand extended itself to hold him underneath the armpit, but he was completely oblivious to it. A pair of startled tender eyes were looking at him but he didn’t notice that either. At that time, from among the thousands of people on the Songshan Mountaintop, there was only this pair of eyes that wasn’t looking at the fight between Zuo Lengchan and Yue Buqun. From the beginning of the fight, Yilin had never taken her eyes off Linghu Chong.

Zuo Lengchan cried out ferociously, and Yue Buqun flew out to stand on the southwest corner of the place of the worship. Yue Buqun was only about a foot away from the edge and his body was faltering looking like he was about to fall off the place of worship. The long sword in Zuo Lengchan’s right hand was still dancing and it was getting faster and faster. The moves he used were Songshan sword arts. Every single move was protecting the fatal acupoints on his whole body. His sword art was wonderful and its power ferocious and each slash of the sword reverberated with the sound of wind generated by it. A lot of people were exclaiming loudly in praise. After a time, they realized that Zuo Lengchan was just brandishing his sword around his own body and never advanced to attack Yue Buqun. Something wasn’t right.

His swordplay was only defending and there wasn’t even half a move attacking Yue Buqun. With this kind of swordplay, it looked like he was just practising his swordplay. How could he cope with an attack from a strong opponent? Suddenly, Zuo Lengchan’s sword pierced forward and stopped in mid air. He leaned his head slightly to one side, looking like he was trying to listen to some strange noise. The crowd saw a thin line of blood flowing from both of his eyes down to his cheeks and were dripping from his chin. From the crowd, someone exclaimed, “He’s blind!”

This voice wasn’t very loud, but Zuo Lengchan angrily shouted, “I’m not blind, I’m not blind! Which dog said I’m blind? Yue Buqun, Yue Buqun, you traitor! If you got guts, then come fight with your grandpa for three hundred more stances.” His voice was getting louder and louder, and his voice was full of anger, pain, and hopelessness. He was just like a beast that had been mortally wounded roaring loudly in its death throes.

Yue Buqun was smiling as he stood at the corner of the place of worship.

When everyone had seen clearly that both of Zuo Lengchan’s eyes had been blinded by Yue Buqun, they were all in utter disbelief. Only Linghu Chong and Yingying were not surprised by this. After Yue Buqun had lost his long sword, the technique he used afterwards was very similar to the one Dongfang Bubai used. That day on Dark Wood Cliff, Ren Woxing, Linghu Chong, Xiang Wentian, and Shangguan Yun cooperated together to fight Dongfang Bubai but they were still not his match. Only after Yingying turned around to attack Yang Lianting that they were luckily spared. Even then, at the end, Ren Woxing was still blinded in one eye. At that time, there was only a thin line difference between life and death for all of them. When Yue Buqun’s body started to float rapidly, even though he wasn’t as good as Dongfang Bubai, it became certain that Zuo Lengchan would still lose when fighting him one on one. As expected, not long after, both of Zuo Lengchan’s eyes were blinded by a needle.

Linghu Chong wasn’t happy at all to see his master won. Instead, he suddenly felt indescribable fear in his heart. Yue Buqun’s temper had always been peaceful and calm, and he had also treated Linghu Chong amiably. Linghu Chong had always regarded his master with affection and awe. Later on, when his master expelled him from the school, he knew it was because of his own faults. He felt it was a deserved punishment in reality because he liked to handle things eccentrically, unreasonably and do as he pleased. He was only hoping that Master and Master-Wife would be able to forgive him, and he had no anger towards them at all. But when he saw Master standing at the edge of the place of worship with his sleeves floating in the wind and his manner elegant and scholarly, without knowing why, an intense feeling of hatred rose up in his heart. Perhaps it was because the martial art Yue Buqun used had made him thought of Dongfang Bubai’s grotesqueness, or perhaps he felt Master had won in an extremely dishonourable and unscrupulous manner. He was at a loss for some time when his wound suddenly became painful and he sat down dejectedly.

Yingying and Yilin extended their hands at the same time to support him while asking, “What’s wrong?”

Linghu Chong shook his head and forced a smile. “Noth… Nothing.”

They again heard Zuo Lengchan cried out, “Yue Buqun, you traitor! If you got guts, come out and fight to the death. Running here and there, what a disgraceful bastard! You… come, come and fight!”

Tang Yinge from Songshan School said, “Go up there and help master come down.”

“Yes!” Two disciples, Shi Dengda and Di Xiuying, answered. They flew up the place of worship and said, “Master, let’s go down!”

“Yue Buqun, you’re afraid to come?” Zuo Lengchan shouted.

Shi Dengda extended his hand to help. “Mas…”

Suddenly, a light reflected. Zuo Lengchan slashed his long sword from Shi Dengda’s left shoulder to his right waist, and followed by slashing at Di Xiuying’s chest. These two attacks were very formidable, and the end was unthinkable. In a flash, the two Songshan School disciples had been chopped into four pieces. The crowd below gasped in fright, stunned.

Yue Buqun slowly walked towards the middle of the place of worship and said, “Brother Zuo, you’re already handicapped so I won’t fight you anymore. Are you still thinking of fighting me for the headmaster position of the Five Mountains School?”

Zuo Lengchan slowly lifted his long sword and pointed the sword at Yue Buqun’s chest. Yue Buqun had no weapon in his hand. His long sword which had fallen from mid-air was still penetrated on the floor of the place of worship and was now lightly swaying in the wind. Yue Buqun inserted both of his hands into his sleeves, while both of his eyes stared unblinkingly at the sword point just three feet away from his chest. The blood on the sword point was dripping onto the ground with a light ‘tap, tap, tap’ sound. The sleeve on Zuo Lengchan’s right hand started to puff up like a sail gathering up wind. The sleeve on his left hand drooped down and looked ordinary which indicated that he had concentrated his whole energy into his right arm. The stirring of his internal energy made his sleeve billowed. This was not a small thing at all. It signalled that this attack would be as powerful as a thunderbolt when released.

Suddenly, a white blur was seen as Yue Buqun slid back more than ten feet and in a blink had come back to where he was standing. This retreat and return was done with such speed that it took only an instant. He just stood there for a moment before sliding to the left and back for more than ten feet, and just like before swiftly returned to his original place to face Zuo Lengchan’s sword. Everyone had all seen it clearly. No matter how fierce or formidable Zuo Lengchan’s attack would be, he still wouldn’t be able to hit Yue Buqun.

Zuo Lengchan was confusedly thinking of many things. If his Qiankun Toss didn’t pierce Yue Buqun’s chest and Yue Buqun managed to avoid it, then with his two blind eyes, he would be prey to Yue Buqun without being able to fight back. He then thought of all the efforts he had put in into the planning of the merger of the five schools. He never expected that everything would have come to nothing. He had failed when success was just within his reach. Instead he had fallen into a plot. Suddenly, his heart turned sour and he felt warm blood rushing up. With a cry, fresh blood sprayed out from his mouth. Yue Buqun leaned slightly to one side and evaded the blood. His face was showing a smiling expression. Zuo Lengchan shook out his right hand, and the long sword broke in the middle. He immediately followed it by throwing it onto the ground. He looked up and laughed loudly, the sound of his laughter reverberating far throughout the valley. While still laughing, he turned his body around and strode purposefully off the place of worship. When he reached the edge of the place of worship, his left feet stepped in mid-air, but he was ready for this as his right leg kicked out and he flew down the place of worship.

A few disciples of Songshan School rushed forward and called out, “Master, we’ll go together and chop up everyone from Huashan School.”

Zuo Lengchan said in a clear voice, “Gentleman’s words must be believed! It’s already said it’s a sword fight to take the leadership, and it will only depend on martial art to gain victory. Mr. Yue’s martial art has gained him victory from me so everyone must now accept him as headmaster. How can you have thoughts of dissent?” When his eyes were first blinded, he was startled and angry, and couldn’t help hurling abuses. But after he calmed down a bit, he regained the aura of a master and was very firm, resembling a grand hero. The entire crowd really admired him for this. Otherwise, with countless number of Songshan School’s disciples here and their many helpers, along with the advantage they held here, if they actually fought with Huashan School’s people, no matter how high Yue Buqun’s martial art was, it would still be very hard to match the strength of Songshan School. Among the people who had come to Mount Songshan to mingle with the five mountains sword schools, many of them were there to curry favour with people higher than them. So when they heard what Zuo Lengchan said, they immediately cheered, “Let Mr. Yue be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster. Let Mr. Yue be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster!” The disciples of Huashan School exclaimed even louder. Actually, this outcome was really outside their expectations, and the disciples of Huashan School could hardly believe that this had happened.

Yue Buqun walked to the edge of the place of worship and folded his hands in salute. “When Brother Zuo and I were comparing our skills, we originally weren’t going to hurt each other. But Martial Brother Zuo’s martial art was just too high and he shook out the long sword out of my hand. So in desperation, I was just trying to protect myself and lost my discretion and resulted in harming Martial Brother Zuo’s eyes. My heart feels very uneasy about this. Let’s look for a good doctor to treat Martial Brother Zuo.”

Someone below said, “The blade has no eyes. How can it prevent injuries?”

Another person said, “You didn’t keep going and kill him. That’s very righteous.”

“I don’t deserve it!” Yue Buqun humbly replied. He was still cupping his hand in salute without talking, and he also didn’t have any intention of going down the place of worship.

Someone below shouted, “Whoever wants to become the Five Mountains School’s headmaster, go up and fight.”

Another person said, “Anyone with too bright of eyes, go up and ask Mr. Yue to dig it out. That will be alright.”

Hundreds of people called out in unison, “Mr. Yue be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster, Mr. Yue be the Five Mountains School’s headmaster!”

Yue Buqun waited for the clamour to calm down slightly before saying in a clear voice, “Since it’s everyone’s wish, I don’t dare to decline. Today is the inauguration of the Five Mountains School so there’s no set rules yet. I’ll just follow the existing hierarchy. The matters in Hengshan, I’d like to ask Mr. Mo Da to preside over them. The affairs in Heng-Shan will still be managed by Brother Linghu Chong. The matters of Taishan, I’d like to ask Priest Yuqing and Priest Yuyin to get together with one of the foundation disciple of Martial Brother Tianmen to preside over the school. For the affairs of Songshan School, Martial Brother Zuo’s eyes are an inconvenience, but it must be considered…” Yue Buqun paused for a while as his eyes ranged over the cluster of Songshan School’s people. Then he slowly said, “In my opinion, I’d like to ask Martial Brother Tang Yinge and Martial Brother Lu Bai to preside over the daily matters of Songshan together with Martial Brother Zuo for the time being.”

This was really beyond Lu Bai’s expectation, and he stammered, “This… This…” The people of Songshan School along with the people from the other schools were surprised to hear this.

Tang Yinge had been Zuo Lengchan’s second-in-command for a long time so it was expected. But Lu Bai had just made things difficult for Yue Buqun by coldly ridiculing and hotly satirising him. He never expected Yue Buqun to forget all he did and appoint him to be one of the people to preside over Songshan School’s affairs. The disciples of Songshan School were originally furious over the blinding of Zuo Lengchan’s eyes, and many of them wished for an opportunity to arise to repay him in kind. But hearing Yue Buqun sending Tang Yinge, Lu Bai, and Zuo Lengchan to preside over Songshan’s matters just as it were in its original state, they felt that Yue Buqun was not imposing his will on them by force and their anger somewhat cooled.

Yue Buqun said, “Today, our five mountains sword schools have merged. If we don’t get along well, then this merger of the five schools will just be in words and will only be an empty name. From today onwards, everyone is in the same school and must get along well with each other. I have no virtue and no ability, and only temporarily hold the headmaster position of the Five Mountains School. So I must discuss with all the brothers here on all sorts of things. I don’t dare to do it on my own. It’s already night now and everyone is exhausted. Let us all go to Songshan’s courtyard to rest, drink wine, and have some meals!” The crowd cheered and one by one went down from the mountaintop.

As Yue Buqun descended from the place of worship, Great Master Fangzheng, Priest Chongxu, and the other masters came over to congratulate him. Fangzheng and Chongxu were originally worried that once Zuo Lengchan had merged the five schools, his wild ambition would continue and he would want to annex Shaolin and Wudang, and brought disaster upon Wulin. Everyone knew Yue Buqun was a modest gentleman, so they were relieved that he was wielding the power of the merged schools and their congratulations to him were sincere.

Great Master Fangzheng whispered, “Mr. Yue, at this moment, the intentions of the disciples of Songshan School are unpredictable and they’re not favourable towards Shizhu. As the saying goes, we must not harbour ill intention towards other people, but we must guard ourselves. Shizu must be careful while you’re on Mount Songshan.”

“Yes, thank you for Great Master Abbot’s advice,” Yue Buqun replied.

“Mount Shaoshi is just a doorstep away from here, and it’s very easy to answer to your call,” Fangzheng said.

Yue Buqun saluted deeply by cupping his hands and said, “I’ll remember Great Master’s kind intention with gratitude.” Then he spoke a few words with Priest Chongxu and Beggar Clan’s leader Xie, before quickly going over to Linghu Chong and asking, “Chong’er, is your wound alright?”

Since the moment he expelled Linghu Chong from Huashan, this was the first time he had called him ‘Chong’er’ in such a pleased and warm manner. But Linghu Chong’s heart was cold and he tremblingly said, “It’s… It’s not serious.”

“Why don’t you come back to Huashan with me to take care of your injury and get together with your Master-Wife again?” Yue Buqun asked. If Yue Buqun had asked this a few hours earlier, Linghu Chong would’ve been madly happy and would have agreed immediately. But now, he hesitated and was rather quite afraid to go up Huashan.

“So?” Yue Buqun asked.

“Heng-Shan School has good medicine, once disciple… disciple’s injury is better, I’ll come and visit Master and Master-Wife,” Linghu Chong answered.

Yue Buqun turned his head slightly and gazed at his face, looking like he wanted to discover his real intention. After some time, he said, “That’s also good! Set your mind at ease and take care of your injury. I hope you can visit Huashan soon.”

“Yes!” Linghu Chong responded as he struggled to stand up to give his propriety.

Yue Buqun extended his hand to hold Linghu Chong’s right hand and warmly said, “There’s no need!” Linghu Chong contracted his body away from Yue Buqun’s hand while his face couldn’t help showing his fear. Yue Buqun snorted and scowled angrily, but then immediately smiled and sighed, “Your little martial sister is still like before. She still doesn’t know how soft or hard to be when she attacks. Luckily you didn’t get stabbed on your fatal acupoint!” He then nodded towards Yihe and Yiqing, who were the two most senior disciples, and slowly turned around. He walked towards a group of hundreds of people waiting for him. As he neared, those people surrounded him and praised his high martial art, his righteousness, and his appropriate handling of the matters. Crowding around him and flattering him continuously, they all went down from the mountaintop.

Linghu Chong kept an eye on the back of his master’s body until he disappeared from his view. The people from each school had also gone down from the mountaintop. Suddenly, he heard a female voice at his back uttered, “Hypocrite!” Linghu Chong faltered as his wound pained sharply and this word ‘Hypocrite’ was like a big hammer pounding on his chest. All of a sudden, he felt he couldn’t draw his breath anymore.

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