The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) Chapter 40 – Harmony


The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) Chapter 40

[The slipcover for the chair was embroidered with nine golden dragons surrounding a rising son from the ocean. On the edges, it was studded with many pearls, diamonds, and gems.]

Chapter 40 – Harmony

Linghu Chong went down the mountain in a drunken state and it wasn’t until midnight that he finally woke up. When he woke up, he discovered he was lying in the wilderness with the Heng-Shan’s disciples sitting far away to guard him and that he was also having a splitting headache. He was thinking that he wouldn’t be able to see Yingying ever again and his heart ache thinking about it. When their party finally arrived at Xianxing Peak on Mount Heng-Shan, they first went to Dingxian, Dingjing, and Dingyi Shi Tai’s altar to report they had taken their revenge.

They anticipated Sun Moon Sect would attack anytime whether it was dawn or dusk. After the fighting finished, Heng-Shan School would definitely be destroyed. They already foresaw this defeat a long time ago and instead of worrying, they instead felt relief. Monk No Commandment and his wife, along with Yilin and Tian Boguang, already met with them at the foot of Mount Huashan and they went back together to Mount Heng-Shan. Everyone was thinking that if they diligently practised their martial art, they still wouldn’t be able to kill that many more people from the Sun Moon Sect. So thinking that it was of no benefit to them, they simply didn’t practice their sword art at all. Some people would read the scripture diligently every day, while the rest would play around the mountain. Heng-Shan School originally had very strict commandments and they had lessons day and night without any idle time. But these days, they were very relaxed.

A few days had passed when they suddenly saw ten monks walking up towards the Xianxing Peak. They were headed by the Shaolin Temple’s Abbott, Great Master Fangzheng. Linghu Chong was in his living hut drinking wine and singing songs when he suddenly heard Great Master Fangzheng was coming. He couldn’t help feeling startled and happy at the same time, and he quickly came out to welcome him. Great Master Fangzheng saw both his feet were bare, and he didn’t even have time to put on his shoes. He smiled and said, “When the ancient people were in a hurry to welcome guests, they still had time to wear shoes. But Headmaster Linghu doesn’t wear shoes to welcome us. Your sincerity is even more than those ancient people.”

Linghu Chong bowed to give his propriety. “When Great Master Fangzheng comes, Linghu Chong has never welcomed you from far. So I’m actually very afraid. Great Master Fangsheng has also come.”

Fangsheng smiled.

Linghu Chong saw the remaining eight monks all had white beards floating on their chins. When he inquired their names, he found out they were all reverend monks of the ‘Fang’ generation. Linghu Chong welcomed all the reverend monks to enter his living hut and they sat on the putuan. This living hut was originally Dingxian Shi Tai’s place and it had no dust around. But when Linghu Chong lived here, the whole place was filled with jugs of wine, wine bowls, and everywhere was a mess. Linghu Chong’s face turned red and he said, “It’s messy, please don’t blame me.”

“I came today to pay respect to the mountain then to discuss an important matter,” said a smiling Fangzheng. “Headmaster Linghu, you don’t need to be so polite.” He waited for a tick before continuing, “I heard Headmaster Linghu didn’t accept the Vice Chief position in Sun Moon Sect in order to protect Heng-Shan School. You’ve also disregarded your own life by doing this and you were also willing to abandon Young Lady Ren, who’s such a good companion to you. Everyone from the orthodox path admires you very much for this.”

Linghu Chong was startled and he thought, “I wasn’t willing because of Heng-Shan School as well as not to implicate all of Wulin. I didn’t allow the school’s disciples to leak this matter out to prevent Shaolin and Wudang Schools from coming to help and getting involved in the big fight and increasing the number of deaths and injuries. I didn’t expect Great Master Fangzheng to still manage to get the news.” He then said, “Great Master absurdly praised me, making me very ashamed. Junior and Sun Moon Sect’s Chief Ren have a lot of grudges and disputes between us. I also lost Young Lady Ren’s love. There’s nothing I can do about this. Great Master, don’t wrongly praise me, I don’t deserve it.”

“Chief Ren wants to lead his men to give your honourable school trouble,” Great Master Fangzheng said. “Right now, Songshan, Taishan, Hengshan, and Huashan Schools have all deteriorated and Heng-Shan School is standing by itself without asking for help from outside. Headmaster Linghu, you didn’t send anyone to my humble temple to ask anyone to come. Could it be that all the monks in my Shaolin School are afraid of dying and want to preserve their lives? And they also don’t care about justice and righteousness in Wulin?”

Linghu Chong stood up and replied, “I don’t dare to assume that. In the past, Junior didn’t check myself and got to know many people from the Sun Moon Sect. Then all sorts of difficult matters came up because of this. Junior thinks a man must take responsibilities for what he has done. My heart is already restless since I’ve implicated the whole Heng-Shan School in this. How can I dare to startle Great Master and Priest Chongxu? If Shaolin and Wudang Schools came to help and lost a lot of people, then it’ll be Junior’s fault that even ten thousands death wouldn’t be able to repay.”

“Headmaster Linghu, what you said was wrong,” said a smiling Fangzheng. “The Devil Sect has wanted to destroy our Shaolin, Wudang, and five mountains sword schools since a hundred years ago. At that time, I wasn’t even born, so how does that have to do with Headmaster Linghu?”

Linghu Chong nodded. “My deceased master often taught me that the demonical and the orthodox can’t stand together. The Devil Sect and our orthodox schools have been fighting for years and the enmity between both is very deep. Junior’s understanding of this was shallow and I thought both parties were able to yield a step and change for the better. Junior never knew that even though Chief Ren and I have a deep origin, at the end, we must still bear arms at each other.”

“You said both parties yielding a step and change for the better. What you said is right,” Fangzheng said. “Sun Moon Sect and our orthodox schools have been fighting for years. Actually, the reason for this wasn’t something so great that we want them to all die or they want us to all die. The only reason was because the leaders of both parties want to control Wulin by himself and wished the other party to be destroyed because of it. That day, when Priest Chongxu, Headmaster Linghu, and I talked at the Hanging Temple, we were there because of the worry that Songshan’s Headmaster Zuo wanted to merge the five mountains sword schools into one. We were afraid of his wild ambition in ruling Wulin by himself.” He let out a long sigh when he spoke till here. He then continued, “I heard Sun Moon Sect’s Chief has a motto, something like ‘Long live to Chief, unify the Jianghu’. Since this is already in his heart, how can Wulin have a day of peace? In Jianghu, each clan and each school has its own purpose and they’re all very different. Unify the Jianghu, this will never happen.”

Linghu Chong agreed with this and nodded. “Great Master Abbott said it right.”

“Chief Ren said that within a month he won’t spare a dog or a bird on Mount Heng-Shan,” Fangzheng said. “His words are like the mountain and they couldn’t be altered. Right now, the master-hands from Shaolin, Wudang, Kunlun, Emei, and Kongtong Schools are already assembled at the foot of Mount Heng-Shan.”

“Ah!” Linghu Chong was startled and he jumped up. “Really? All the schools’ seniors have come to help, Junior didn’t know. I really should be punished.”

Since Heng-Shan School knew that the Devil Sect would one day attack, no one there was feeling lucky so they had not bothered putting up sentries and guards around the place. So much so that the sentries at the foot of the mountain had even been withdrawn.

Linghu Chong continued, “Reverend monks, please rest up here. Junior will lead my school’s disciples down the mountain to welcome them.”

Fangzheng shook his head. “All the schools are on the same boat in this and are helping each other to fight the enemy. There’s no need for small talk, we’ve arranged everything.”

“Yes,” Linghu Chong acknowledged, and he asked, “When did Great Master Abbott find out that Sun Moon Sect wants to attack Heng-Shan School?”

“I received a letter from a senior and found out everything,” Fangzheng replied.

“Senior?” Linghu Chong was thinking that Great Master Fangzheng’s position in Wulin was already very high, so how could there be someone even more senior than him?

Fangzheng smiled and answered, “This senior is a famous elder from Huashan School. He once taught sword art to Headmaster Linghu.”

“Grand martial uncle Feng!” Linghu Chong excitedly said.

“It is Senior Feng,” Fangzheng confirmed. “Senior Feng dispatched six friends to Shaolin Temple to reveal what Headmaster Linghu said on top of the Peak of Morning Sun. These six friends speak in somewhat a roundabout manner and aren’t very clear, so it’s a little troublesome, and they also like to dispute what each other say. But after talking to them for a few hours and patiently listening to them, I finally understood.” When he said till here, he couldn’t help smiling.

“They’re the Peach Valley Six Fairies?” a smiling Linghu Chong asked.

Fangzheng smiled. “They are the Peach Valley Six Fairies.”

“When Junior arrived at Huashan, I wanted to pay my respect to Grand martial uncle Feng,” Linghu Chong happily told Fangzheng. “But many things kept coming up until I finally went down the mountain. From beginning to the end, I didn’t manage to see him to kowtow. I never thought he’d know everything.”

“Senior Feng’s conduct is like a divine dragon, you can see his head but not his tail,” Fangzheng replied. “He already conceals himself living in Huashan, and when the Sun Moon Sect was at Huashan going around without any fear, how could he just not care? Peach Valley Six Fairies were at Huashan to play around and they were captured by Senior Feng and locked up for several days. Later, he ordered them to go to Shaolin Temple to deliver the letter.”

Linghu Chong thought, “Peach Valley Six Fairies were captured by Grand martial uncle Feng. They would definitely hide this matter and won’t talk about it. But if I just talk at random about things, they’ll finally reveal this.” Then he said, “What does Grand martial uncle Feng want us to do?”

“Senior Feng was very modest in his words, he only said that he heard something unusual that needs to be told to me,” Fangzheng told him. “He also said Headmaster Linghu is his beloved disciple and how you resisted the Devil Sect’s invitation on top of the Peak of Morning Sun. He really liked what he saw and wanted me to take care of you. Actually, Headmaster Linghu’s martial art is far above mine. This word ‘take care’, he was too serious.”

Linghu Chong felt appreciative and he bowed before saying, “Great Master Abbott has been taking care of Junior more than once.”

“You flatter me,” Fangzheng replied. “When I found out about this, don’t mention that Senior Feng ordered this, I would’ve done it myself solely relying on the deep origin between your honourable school and my school. Also, I couldn’t just put my hands in my sleeve on account of our friendship. Moreover, this matter concerns each school’s survival. Once the Devil Sect destroyed Heng-Shan, do you think he’d let go of Shaolin and Wudang Schools? That’s why I immediately sent out an epistle notifying each school to assemble at Heng-Shan and fight to the death together against the Devil Sect.”

When Linghu Chong came down from the Peak of Morning Sun that day, he was already feeling dejected. He saw the Sun Moon Sect and felt that Heng-Shan School couldn’t match them. So he was only waiting for the day that Ren Woxing would attack them, then everyone from Heng-Shan School would exert themselves in resisting and fight to the death. Even though there were people who offered the idea to ask for help from Shaolin and Wudang Schools, Linghu Chong asked them, “Even if Shaolin and Wudang Schools come to help, can they stop the Devil Sect?” That person immediately shut up. Linghu Chong also said, “Since there’s no way to help Heng-Shan, why should we implicate Shaolin’s and Wudang’s disciples and make a lot of them lose their lives here?” In his heart, he actually didn’t want to fight with Ren Woxing and Xiang Wentian. Also, when his hope of marrying Yingying disappeared, he unwittingly tortured himself and felt his life in this world was no longer useful, and that it was better if he died first.

At this time, when he saw Fangzheng received Feng Qingyang’s trust and came here to help, his spirit was roused. But he still had no interest to really fight to the death against those people from the Sun Moon Sect.

Fangzheng also said, “Headmaster Linghu, Buddhists have mercy in their heart and I’m not a brave person who would fight violently. If this matter can be settled in a friendly manner, then of course it’s the best. But if we yield a step then Ren Woxing would advance a step. We can’t yield in this matter at all or Chief Ren will annihilate each school from the orthodox path. Only if each of us kowtow to him and praise him with ‘Long live to Sacred Chief, unify the Jianghu! Amituofo!’”

In his ‘Long live to Sacred Chief, unify the Jianghu’, he added the word ‘Amituofo’. It was really comical and Linghu Chong couldn’t refrain from smiling. “That’s right. Junior only has to hear of that ‘Sacred Chief’, that ‘Long live to Chief, unify the Jianghu’, and I had goose bumps all over my body. Junior doesn’t get drunk after drinking thirty bowls of wine but to hear a lot of this ‘Long live to Chief, unify the Jianghu’, I couldn’t help feeling dizzy and become drunk on the spot.”

Fangzheng smiled. “Their Sun Moon Sect’s incantation is definitely very formidable.” He paused for a tick before continuing, “When Senior Feng was at the Peak of Morning Sun, he saw Headmaster Linghu getting dizzy. So he especially ordered the Peach Valley Six Fairies to bring over a secret formula for an internal energy technique, and he wanted me to give this to Headmaster Linghu. The Peach Valley Six Fairies don’t speak clearly, but when it came to telling me the inner energy technique, they became clear. It was really rare. I think Senior Feng must’ve forced them to memorise this until they’re very familiar with it. Headmaster Linghu, please lead the way to the inner hall so I can impart you this technique.”

Linghu Chong respectfully led Great Master Fangzheng into a quiet room. This was the formula that Feng Qingyang had asked Fangzheng to impart to him so it was as if he had come personally to impart it to him. He immediately knelt in front of Fangzheng and said, “Grand martial uncle Feng treats disciple with so much kindness.”

Fangzheng didn’t decline his modesty and received his respect. “Senior Feng has a lot of expectation on Headmaster Linghu. He hopes you can practise diligently according to this technique.”

“Yes,” Linghu Chong replied. “Disciple will do as ordered.”

Fangzheng slowly read aloud the formula for the technique while Linghu Chong tried to memorise it. The formula wasn’t that long, from beginning to the end, there were only around one thousands words. When Fangzheng finished reciting it, he wanted Linghu Chong to remember it. After some time, he recited it again. In total, he recited it five times. Linghu Chong was able to memorise it and recited it from the beginning to the end without mistake.

“Even though there’s only around a thousand words in this internal energy formula that Senior Feng is passing on, it is actually very profound and it’s not a small matter,” Fangzheng said. “We’re good friends, please forgive me for speaking frankly. Headmaster Linghu’s sword art is profound, but it seems you’re not good at internal energy technique.”

“Junior only knows some trivial things about internal energy,” Linghu Chong replied. “If Great Master doesn’t mind, I’d still like to ask for some pointers.”

Fangzheng nodded. “Senior Feng’s inner energy technique and Shaolin School’s inner energy technique are quite different. But all martial arts in this world have the same goal but use different approaches. The basic essence doesn’t differ by too much. If Headmaster Linghu doesn’t mind me being meddlesome then I’ll try to explain it.”

Linghu Chong knew he was the current Wulin’s number one or two master. Obtaining his advice was no different than getting Grand Martial Uncle Feng’s advice. That was why Grand Martial Uncle Feng had imparted him this technique so his internal energy could also be profound. Linghu Chong quickly bowed and said, “Junior will respectfully listen to Great Master’s instructions.”

“You flatter me!” Fangzheng replied. Then he immediately started to analyze the inner energy technique sentence by sentence, and he also told him all kinds of different things like breathing, energy movement, tuna(a breathing method), and the method to move the energy. Linghu Chong had learned the formula by heart and he originally remembered it very well. But when Great Master Fangzheng was analyzing the formula, only then did he realise how each sentence contained numerous refined principles.

Linghu Chong had a high level of comprehension, but each sentence of this refined inner energy technique took him a long time to understand. It was good that Great Master Fangzheng was there to explain it to him in detail that he was able to take a peek into the marvellous realm of martial art study that he had never experienced before. He let out a long sigh and said, “Great Master Fangzheng, Junior has been fearlessly going around Jianghu for the last few years, it was because I didn’t know how shallow my knowledge is. I’m really ashamed when thinking about it. Junior doesn’t have much longer to live and unable to practise the wonderful inner energy technique passed down by Grand Martial Uncle Feng. But people in the old days had a saying, it’s something like hear the right way in the morning, then dying at night won’t be too serious. Is that saying right?”

“If a man in the morning hears the right way, he may die in the evening without regret!” Fangzheng corrected him.

“That’s right, that’s the saying,” Linghu Chong said. “I once heard master said it. Hearing Great Master’s advice today, it’s really like a blind man being able to see. Even if I don’t have any more time to practise it, I’m already happy.”

“Our orthodox schools have all assembled near Mount Heng-Shan, and they’re protecting all the important places,” Fangzheng said. “When the Devil Sect comes to attack, we’ll all work together and we won’t lose. Headmaster Linghu, why are you being so pessimistic? This inner energy technique requires a few years to finish practising it, but if you practise it for a day then you’ll get one day’s benefit, and if you practise it for a little bit then you’ll get a little bit’s benefit. These next few days, there’s no harm for Headmaster Linghu to start learning it. Take advantage of me disturbing your honourable mountain and we can also study it together.”

“Junior appreciates Great Master’s kindness.”

“Brother Chongxu should be arriving any moment now. Should we go out and take a look?”

Linghu Chong quickly stood up and said, “I’ve neglected Priest Chongxu and the others.”

He returned to the outside hall with Great Master Fangzheng, the hall was already lighted with candles. When the two of them were discussing martial art, more than six hours had passed and the sky had turned dark a long time ago. They saw three Taoist sitting on putuans talking with Great Master Fangsheng. One of these people was Priest Chongxu. When the three Taoist saw Fangzheng and Linghu Chong came out, they stood up together.

Linghu Chong paid his respects and said, “Heng-Shan is in trouble and we’ve received priests’ help. Everyone from my humble school really doesn’t know how to repay this.”

Priest Chongxu quickly helped him up and smilingly replied, “I arrived here some time ago. I learned that Great Master Abbott and little brother are inside studying inner energy technique so I didn’t dare to disturb you. Little brother has learned a wonderful inner energy technique, once you’ve learned how to use it then when Ren Woxing comes here, you can try it out on him and teach him a lesson.”

“This inner energy technique is very refined,” Linghu Chong said. “How can Junior learn it in just a few days? I heard the seniors from Emei, Kunlun, and Kongtong Schools have all arrived. I should invite them up and discuss our plan. What do seniors think of this?”

Chongxu replied, “They’re hiding in secret to guard against that demon Ren from finding out. If you ask everyone to come up the mountain, then I’m afraid the information will be leaked out. When we came up the mountain, we also disguised ourselves. Otherwise, why didn’t the disciples of my humble school announce us first?”

The moment when he first met Priest Chongxu appeared in Linghu Chong’s mind. At that time, Priest Chongxu disguised himself as an old man riding a donkey, and there were two other men following him. They were all actually masters from Wudang School. Right now, as he observed the other priests, he recognised them to be the other two elders who competed sword with him on the Hubei road.

Linghu Chong bowed and smilingly said, “Priests, your face changing technique is very good. If Priest Chongxu didn’t mention it, Junior wouldn’t have figured it out.”

Those two priests disguised themselves as farmers at that time, one was carrying firewood and the other carrying vegetables. Both were gasping for breath, seemed like they were sick. At this time, they looked very healthy and only their eyes could be recognised. Priest Chongxu pointed to the elder who carried the firewood, “This is martial brother Qingxu.” Then he pointed to the elder who carried the vegetable, “This is my martial nephew, his Taoist name is Chenggao.” The four of them smiled at each other.

Qingxu and Chenggao both said, “Headmaster Linghu’s sword art is very high.”

Linghu Chong replied, modestly, “I apologize for the offence!”

“My martial brother’s and martial nephew’s sword art aren’t very refined, but when they were young, they lived for more than ten years in the western region and learned one special skill,” Chongxu said. “One is an expert in hidden traps and the other is an expert in bombs.”

“Those skills are very rare,” Linghu Chong commented.

“Brother Linghu,” Chongxu said. “I brought them here because I have another purpose. I’m hoping they can help us in doing one big thing.”

Linghu Chong didn’t understand and blurted out, “To do one big thing?”

“I took the liberty to take one thing to your honourable mountain,” Chongxu answered. “Brother Linghu, please take a look.” He had a free and easy personality so he wasn’t as restrained as Fangzheng. That was why one called him ‘Brother Linghu’, and the other called him ‘Headmaster Linghu’. Linghu Chong felt it was quite odd and wanted to see what he took out from his bosom. Chongxu smiled and said, “This item is actually not small, it doesn’t fit in my bosom. Martial brother Qingxu, ask them to come in.”

Qingxu acknowledged the order and went out. Not long after, he led four farmer-looking men to come in. Each person was barefooted and each was carrying vegetables.

Qingxu said, “This is Headmaster Linghu and Shaolin Temple’s Abbott.” The four people bowed to give their respects.

Linghu Chong knew they must have high positions in Wudang. He quickly returned their propriety.

“Take it out and install it!” Qingxu ordered.

The four men took some wrapped bundles from inside the vegetables they were carrying. They opened the bundles revealing many wooden strips, ironware, nails, and springs. These four people worked really fast and they put those items together. A short time later, they finished making a grand chair. Linghu Chong was even more perplexed, pondering, “This grand chair has so many springs. I wonder what it’s used for? Could it be for practising internal energy?”

After installing the chair, the four men took out two more wrapped bundles. These bundles contained the chair cushion and the chair cover which they put on the grand chair. Inside the quiet hall, glitters from the yellow brocade of the chair cover suddenly dazzled their eyes. Nine golden dragons had been embroidered into the brocade with the sun in the middle rising from the ocean. On the left, writings of ‘Glory to Sacred Chief, To the Benefit of Common People’ were seen. On the right was the writing ‘Long Live the Chief, Unify the Jianghu’. Those nine dragons had their claws brandished and teeth snarling, looking very much alive. The caligraphy on the writings was strong and very pleasing to the eyes. Chains of pearls, diamonds, and all sorts of other precious stones surrounded the letters. This humble and plain hall was covered by the lights from the jewels.

Linghu Chong clapped to cheer as he thought of Chongxu saying that Qingxu was once in the western region learning to make hidden traps. He said, “When Chief Ren sees this precious chair, he’ll definitely sit in it. Then the traps in the chair will be sprung and take his life. Am I right?”

Chongxu whispered back, “Ren Woxing can respond really fast and his movement is like lightning. Even if the chair has a trap, he’ll feel something’s not right and jump up immediately. We won’t be able to injure him then. This bottom of this chair has been installed with a fuse and a pack of explosives.”

Once he said this, the faces of Linghu Chong and all the monks from Shaolin changed colour. Fangzheng prayed, “Amituofo!”

“The benefit of this trap is that anyone can sit on it without anything happening,” Chongxu explained. “You need to sit for a while before the fuse is triggered. That Ren Woxing is a sceptical person and he’s also very careful. When he sees this kind of chair on the Xianxing Peak, he definitely won’t sit in it straight away and will get one of his subordinate to sit on it first. The covering on this chair has those gold dragons around the sun, there’s also those ‘Long Live the Chief, Unify the Jianghu’ words, so anyone from the Devil Sect won’t sit on it for too long. But once Ren Woxing sit on it, he won’t give it up.”

“Priest has considered this very thoroughly,” Linghu Chong commented.

“Martial brother Qingxu has also prepared something else,” Chongxu said. “If Ren Woxing doesn’t sit and told people to take the cover and cushion off, and even tear the chair apart to have a look then the fuse will still be triggered. Martial nephew Chenggao has brought twenty thousands catties of explosives to this precious mountain. It seems we won’t be able to avoid ruining the scenery on this precious mountain.”

Linghu Chong felt dread in his heart, he thought, “Twenty thousands catties of explosives! So much gunpowder exploding, even jade will burn. If Chief Ren is blown up, Yingying and Brother Xiang will be too.”

Chongxu saw his face looked unusual. “The Devil Sect is saying they want to kill your honourable school. Once they’ve annihilated Heng-Shan School, they’ll attack Shaolin and Wudang. We’ll be ashes and this big disaster will be hard to fix. We’ve setup this treacherous plan to repay Ren Woxing. Although it’s very dangerous, we’ll get to do away with this head demon and get to save tens of thousands of lives in Wulin.”

Great Master Fangzheng joined both his palms together. “Amituofo! Our merciful Buddha must also defeat demons and slay devils to save our lives. Killing a man to save thousands of lives is path of compassion and sorrow.” When he said these words, he looked stately. All the monks and taoists there stood up and joined their palms together while lowering their heads. They said in unison, “Great Master Fangzheng is right.”

Linghu Chong also knew what Fangzheng said was very reasonable. Sun Moon Sect wanted to annihilate the Heng-Shan School that even dogs and birds wouldn’t be spared, while the schools from the orthodox path had planned to fry Ren Woxing to death. This was a matter of justice and righteousness and no one could say that it wasn’t, but his heart was quite unwilling to kill Ren Woxing. As to killing Xiang Wentian, he would rather die first; As to the life and death of Yingying, he wasn’t worried. He had always regarded their lives intertwined together and they will both die and live together so there was nothing to worry about. He saw all of them were looking at him. He hummed for a little while and said, “Since things have come to this, Sun Moon Sect has forced us with no other option. I think Priest Chongxu’s strategy will hurt the least people.”

“Brother Linghu said it right,” Chongxu praised. “‘It hurts the least people, it’s exactly what I was looking for.”

“Junior is young and my knowledge is shallow,” Linghu Chong replied. “The matter on Heng-Shan today, I’d like to ask Great Master Fangzheng and Priest Chongxu to preside over this big operation. Junior will lead my school’s disciples and follow the plan.”

Chongxu laughed. “I don’t deserve it. You’re the master on Heng-Shan. How can Brother Abbott and I, as guests, snatch the host position?”

“This is not Junior modestly stepping back,” Linghu Chong explained. “I honestly like the two of you to handle it.”

“Headmaster Linghu is very modest,” Fangzheng said. “Brother Priest, you don’t need to decline it either. The three of us will lead this big operation, but we’ll let Brother Priest to issue the order.”

Chongxu said a few more modest words before finally agreeing. “We’ve hidden people on all the passages going up Mount Heng-Shan. When the Devil Sect comes to attack the mountain, we’ll definitely hear of something. That day when Brother LInghu led people to attack Shaolin Temple, we followed Zuo Lengchan’s plan and left an empty city…”

Linghu Chong’s face turned slightly red. “Junior made a big disturbance. I’m still terrified by it.”

Chongxu laughed. “I never thought enemy from the past would become today’s friend. We can’t use that empty city plan again as it will raise Ren Woxing’s suspicion. From my humble view, the whole Heng-Shan School should defend on top of the mountain with dozens of people from Shaolin and Wudang Schools. You must understand that when Devil Sect attacks, and if they can’t see anyone from Shaolin and Wudang Schools coming to help, then it would go against reason. This bastard Ren Woxing would be able to guess something is up.”

“That’s right,” Fangzheng and Linghu Chong replied in unison.

“The rest of the schools like Kunlun, Emei, and Kongtong don’t need to reveal themselves,” Chongxu went on. “They will hide inside the mountain caves. When Devil Sect comes to attack, Heng-Shan, Shaolin, and Wudang Schools will fight back and the fight must look real. The people we send out must all be first class fighters and the more we kill the better while trying not to get harmed ourselves.”

Fangzheng sighed. “The master-hands from Devil Sect are like the cloud and they must have been preparing for this. This coming fight will have a lot of deaths and injuries from both sides.”

“We’ll look for some cliffs and prepare ropes. When we see we’re no longer their match, we’ll use the ropes to go down to the valley and make it hard for the enemy to chase us,” Chongxu said. “After Ren Woxing had gained his victory, then he’ll see this precious chair. Of course he’ll be complacent and sit on it. When the explosives is triggered, that old demon Ren will find it impossible to escape without wings. We’ll follow this with exploding the thirty two landmines along the eight routes going up Mount Heng-Shan. The Devil Sect will find no way to go down the mountain then.”

“Thirty two landmines?” Linghu Chong queried.

“That’s right,” Chongxu answered. “Martial nephew Chenggao will go early tomorrow morning and go to the important spots of the routes going up Mount Heng-Shan. At each route, he’s going to pick the four most important spots and bury the landmines there. When the landmines go off, there’ll be no route going up and down the mountain. There’ll be around ten thousands people from the Devil Sect going up Mount Heng-Shan, and all ten thousands of them will die of starvation; If twenty thousands go up the mountain then twenty thousands will die of starvation. We’ve learned Zuo Lengchan’s old plan, but this time we won’t let them escape from a tunnel.”

“That time we were really lucky to escape Shaolin Temple,” Linghu Chong chimed in. Then as he thought about it, he uttered an ‘oh’.

“Brother Linghu, now that you’ve learned of this plan, is there anything not right?” Chongxu asked.

“Junior thinks that when Chief Ren comes up Mount Heng-Shan and sees that precious chair, he’ll definitely be happy but he’ll be sure to suspect it,” Linghu Chong replied. “Why would Heng-Shan School make this kind of chair and embroider the words ‘Long Live the Chief, Unify the Jianghu’? If this matter isn’t made clear, then I think he probably won’t sit down on it.”

“I’ve also thought of this point,” Chongxu answered. “Actually, whether that demon head Ren sit or not on that chair isn’t crucial. The other fuse we’ve hidden on that chair will blow it also. When he’s being proud of himself, taking all the praises of long live the chief, unify the Jianghu, then this disaster will struck. Later on, this will only become a conversation topic in Wulin.”

Linghu Chong nodded his head. “Yes.”

“Martial Uncle,” Priest Chenggao interrupted. “Disciple has an idea, I’m not sure if it’s feasible?”

“Say it out,” Chongxu said, smiling. “Ask Great Master Abbott and Headmaster Linghu for their advice.”

“I heard Headmaster Linghu and Chief Ren’s daughter had a marriage agreement, but because the orthodox and the demonical can’t be on the same road, the marriage was hindered,” Chenggao said. “If Headmaster Linghu sends two Heng-Shan disciples to meet Chief Ren and says that on account of young lady Ren, you seek an especially skillful craftsman to make the precious chair for Chief Ren to sit on, and that you’re hoping the two parties would have a truce to discuss peace. It doesn’t matter if Chief Ren agrees or not, but once he comes up Mount Heng-Shan, he’ll see this precious chair and won’t suspect it anymore.”

Chongxu clapped excitedly and said, “This plan is wonderful. One…”

“No!” Linghu Chong shook his head.

Chongxu was startled and knew he had been embarrassed, so he asked, “What’s Brother Linghu’s opinion?”

“Chief Ren wants to kill my Heng-Shan School, and I’ll do my best to fight back and use wisdom to fight a strong enemy, everything can be done,” Linghu Chong replied. “He’s coming to kill us and we’re going to explode him, but I’ll never say false words to deceive him.”

“Good!” Chongxu praised. “Brother Linghu is frank, very admirable. Whatever we do, whether that demon head Ren suspects it or not, he only has the intention of harming people to come up Mount Heng-Shan, so we’re going to make him suffer.”

After that, they discussed the details on how to defend, how to fight, how to cover up their ambush, how to retreat, and how to blow up the landmines. Each of these points was decided on. Chongxu was very meticulous and he was afraid they might have underestimated the enemy, so he dispatched another person to back up the person responsible for blowing up the landmines.

On dawn the next day, Linghu Chong guided them to look at the lay of the land. Qingxu and Chenggao selected the places to bury the landmines, prepared the fuses, and hid sentries to guard these places. Chongxu and Linghu Chong chose four rugged spots to make their retreats. Fangzheng, Chongxu, Linghu Chong, and Fangsheng would each guard one spot and they wouldn’t let any enemy come near them. When the defenders were exhausted, they would be let down by ropes towards the valley down below. The last people to get to the valley below would use their swords to cut the ropes and not let the enemies to chase after them.

On the same day that afternoon, ten people from the Wudang School disguised themselves as farmers and wood gatherers. Under Qingxu’s and Chenggao’s directions, they planted the explosives. Heng-Shan School’s disciples guarded each entrance to the mountain to prevent idler from going up the mountain, to protect against Sun Moon Sect from scouting the area and finding out all the secrets. After three busy days, everything was ready and they were now just waiting for Sun Moon Sect to come and attack. Counting the days, it had nearly been one month since they left Ren Woxing on the Peak of the Morning Sun. What that person said was certain to be fulfilled and there would be no error in his decided time. In these last few days, Chongxu, Chenggao and the other people had been busy, while Linghu Chong had been idle instead. Every day he silently went through the inner energy technique Fangzheng had imparted to him and practised it. Every time he met something he didn’t understand, he’d consult with Fangzheng about it.

On the afternoon of that day, Yihe, Yiqing, Yilin, Zheng E, Qin Juan, and other female disciples were practising sword at the sword training hall, while Linghu Chong was at side giving advices. He saw that even though Qin Juan was still young, she quite understood the essence of the sword art. He praised, “Martial sister Qin is very bright. You already have the knack for this move, but…” He hadn’t finished saying the words when he suddenly felt a wave of pain in his dantian region and immediately sat down. The disciples were all startled and they quickly rushed forward to help him up, they said in unison, “What happened?”

Linghu Chong knew the different types of internal energies in his bodies were coming out again, and the pain was so unbearable that he couldn’t even speak. The disciples were in confusion when suddenly a flapping sound and two pigeons came flying in from the window.

“Aiyo!” they cried out in unison.

Heng-Shan School kept many letter pigeon. When Dingjing Shi Tai was at Fujian and when Dingxian and Dingjing Shi Tai were surrounded at the Dragon Spring Sword-Forging Valley, they had dispatched these letter pigeon to ask for help. Now, the two letter pigeons flying through the window were from the school’s disciples who were guarding at the bottom of the mountain, and there were red paint daubed at their backs. With a glance, they knew the assault from the Sun Moon Sect had arrived. Since Great Master Fangzheng and Priest Chongxu arrived at Mount Heng-Shan, the disciples had seen strong helpers had arrived and everything was already prepared, and they were relieved. But unexpectedly during this urgent time, Linghu Chong had fallen sick.

Yiqing called out, “Yizhi, Yiwen, martial sisters, go report to Great Master Fangzheng and Priest Chongxu.”

Both of them acknowledged the order and went.

Yiqing also said, “Martial sister Yihe, please ring the bell.” Yihe nodded her heads a few times before flying out of the hall to go towards the bell tower.

Sounds of ‘tang, tang, tang’, ‘tang, tang’, ‘tang, tang, tang’, ‘tang, tang’ was heard. Three long ringing followed by two short ringing was heard coming from the bell tower, the sound traversing throughout the peak. Shortly after that, the bells from Tong Yuan Valley, Hanging Temple, Black Dragon Pass, and other big bells from the other temples were also heard. Great Master Fangzheng had left an order before hand on the method to alert the coming of the enemy, the bell was supposed to be rung with three long ringing followed by two short ringing. But the ringing of the bell must be slow and leisurely, and must not appear panicked and frightened. However, with Yihe being completely worried, and even though there’s the word ‘peace*’ in her Buddhist name, her behaviour was anything but peaceful and the sound of the bell still showed her worry and impatient.

(*Translator’s note: Yihe – ‘he’ means peace)

Heng-Shan School, Shaolin School, and Wudang School quickly moved according to the pre-arranged plan. Each of them moved to their spots to prepare in welcoming the enemy. In order to lower the casualties, no guard was placed in the passages between the foot of the mountain and the top of the Xianxing Peak, and the gate was opened wide to let the enemy come through. Once the enemy arrived at the top of the peak then the fighting will be joined.

After the bell sounds stopped, the chirpings of birds had become quiet around the peak. The experts from Kunlun, Emei, and Kongtong Schools all hid below the peak waiting for the Devil Sect people to all go up the peak. Once they received the order, they will cut off the retreat of the Devil Sect. To protect the secret plan, Chongxu didn’t tell everyone of the landmines buried on the mountain passages. Devil Sect had a vast influence and for them to have spies within the disciples of Kunlun or the other schools would not be too surprising.

Linghu Chong heard the bells and he knew the Sun Moon Sect had come to attack them, but his stomach was like being slashed and stabbed by millions of sabres. The pain was enveloping his belly and it was churning underneath. Yilin and Qin Juan were frightened till their faces were colourless, and they didn’t know what to do.

“We’ll help Headmaster to go to Wuse Convent,” Yiqing ordered. “Then we’ll carry out Shaolin Abbott’s and Priest Chongxu’s plan.”

Yu Sao and another old nun put their hands underneath him. Half supporting half lifting, they carried him to Wuse Convent.

They had just arrived at the convent’s door when they heard the thundering sound of firecrackers going off, followed by the cries of the horns, and the booming of the drums. As expected, Sun Moon Sect had grandly carried out the operation to attack the mountain.

Fangzheng and Chongxu had found out of Linghu Chong’s illness and they rushed out of the convent.

Chongxu said, “Brother Linghu, don’t worry. I’ve already ordered Martial brother Qingxu to cover Wudang School’s retreat. I’ll be covering your honourable school’s retreat.”

Linghu Chong nodded his thanks.

Fangzheng said, “Headmaster Linghu, retreat down the valley first to avoid any negligence.”

“No… Absolutely not!” Linghu Chong hastily replied. “Bring.. Bring my sword!”

Chongxu advised him further but Linghu Chong was unmoved. Suddenly, the sound of drums and horns ceased, followed by thundering voices calling out, “Long Live the Sacred Chief, Unify the Jianghu!” From this sound, it can be gathered there was at least four to five thousands people. Fangzheng, Chongxu, and Linghu Chong looked at each other and smiled.

Qin Juan brought Linghu Chong’s sword over to him and presented it. Linghu Chong extended his hand wishing to take it but his right hand was continuously shaking and he couldn’t hold it. Qin Juan hung the sword on his waist.

Suddenly they heard a very pleasing suona* sound rose up, it was definitely not the sound of battle.

(*Translator’s note: suona is a chinese wind instrument.)

In unison, a few people said in bright clear voices, “Sun Moon Sect’s Sacred Chief wishes to go up Xianxing Peak to meet Heng-Shan School’s Headmaster Linghu.” These words had been spoken by the Sun Moon Sect’s elders.

“Sun Moon Sect is giving their propriety first before fighting,” Fangzheng said. “We also can’t be too petty. Headmaster Linghu, what do you think of letting them come up to the peak?”

Linghu Chong nodded his head a few times. At this time, a wave of pain had again assaulted his stomach. Fangzheng saw his face full of cold perspiration, he said, “Headmaster Linghu, the pain in your dantian is already excruciating, there’s no harm in using the inner energy method that Senior Feng imparted. Add it and revolve it, see what happens.”

The different types of inner energies in Linghu Chong’s body were conflicting and clashing about, if he add more to it and revolve it, that would be no different than using a sabre to injure himself. It would be like adding pain on top of pain, but the pain was already to the extreme and there was no thought of the consequence of doing this. He moved the energy according to the method and revolved it. As expected the energies clashed and the pain was even more excruciating than before, but after revolving it for a few times, those inner energies were back flowing like before. They flowed and converged like there was a track to flow. Even though the pain was like the old time, it wasn’t clashing and striking chaotically anymore. He knew the place where the clashes happened now.

Fangzheng said slowly, “Heng-Shan School Headmaster Linghu, Wudang School Headmaster Priest Chongxu, Shaolin School Headmaster Fangzheng, we await respectfully for the Sun Moon Sect honourable Chief Ren’s arrival.” His voice wasn’t loud and it was said slowly, but it still travelled very far.

Linghu Chong was effective in moving his inner energy. He now sat cross-legged, eyes observing the nose, the nose observing the heart, his left hand touched his chest, his right hand embraced his stomach, following the method that Fangzheng had imparted to him which he had practiced earlier. He had only learned this technique for a few days only, and even though Fangzheng had spoken to him everyday in details about it, his practice of it was still very shallow. But under the guidance of this method right now, these different inner energies were unexpectedly able to gradually merge. He didn’t dare to be negligent, so with rapt attention, he revolved his inner energy. In the beginning, he was still able to hear the sound of drums and horns, but at the end, he couldn’t even hear anything.

Fangzheng smiled seeing Linghu Chong was concentrating on practising martial art. He heard the drums were thundering, and the Sun Moon Sect people shouted, “Sun Moon Sect cultured and kind warrior, benefiting the common people, the honourable Sacred Chief is going up Heng-Shan!” After some time, the sound of drums gradually got nearer.

The path coming up to Xianxing Peak was very long and although the Sun Moon Sect people walked really fast, after some time, the sound of drums had only arrived at the middle of the mountain. The orthodox sect warriors hiding around the Mount Heng-Shan were all secretly scolding, “Rotten honourable chief, still not dead yet, what the heck are you doing making lots of noise around here?”

The people who were to welcome the enemy all had their hearts bouncing wildly. Each of them had originally predicted the Devil Sect people would kill their way up and they would immediately engage in a fierce battle. After killing a score of the sect’s people, and waiting for more enemies to arrive on top and becoming even stronger, they would then escape down the valley. But they never expected Ren Woxing to act like an emperor going on a tour and making a lot of noise as he came up to the peak. It was inappropriate for them to start their operation, but they had to detain their hearts harder from doing so.

After a long time, Linghu Chong felt the various inner energies in his dantian region had slowly been pushed down and the pain was gradually decreasing. His heart calmed and he immediately thought, “Chief Ren wants to come up to the peak?”

“Ah!” Linghu Chong gasped, and he jumped up.

“Feeling better?” Fangzheng asked, smiling.

“Fighting yet?” Linghu Chong queried.

“Not yet!”

“Very good!” Linghu Chong said. With a hiss, he drew his sword.

But he saw Fangzheng and Chongxu were not holding any weapons. While Yihe, Yiqing, and the other disciples were lining up in rows in front of Wuse Convent quietly in Heng-Shan school formation, with their swords still sheathed and hanging on their waists. He guessed that Ren Woxing hadn’t arrived on the mountain top yet and that he had been too anxious, so he laughed aloud and put his sword back in the scabbard. He then heard sounds of suona and drums ceased, and the sounds of flute and huqin rose up. He thought, “Chief Ren is so pretentious, coming up the mountain personally accompanied with live music.” The more pretentious he was, the funnier Linghu Chong thought it was.

As the music played on, two lines of Sun Moon Sect people were seen coming up the peak pair by pair. Their eyes were dazzled seeing the sect’s people wearing brand new dark green full-bodied gowns and white belts around their waists. The forty people in front were each carrying a tray with a satin cloth on top which held something. Unexpectedly, these forty people weren’t carrying any sabre or sword on their waists. Once these forty people reached the peak, they stopped far away. They were followed by a group of two hundred people musicians who were also wearing full-bodied gowns and continuously playing their flutes. The ones coming up after them were trumpeters, drummers, big and small gongs, cymbals and bells, and all other types of musicians. Linghu Chong found this interesting and he thought, “When we fight, there’ll be gongs and drums to accompany us. Isn’t this just like fighting on a stage play?”

The music continued to play as groups after groups of Sun Moon Sect people came up. These people seemed to be arranged according to the halls they belonged to, with the different coloured gowns that they were wearing. Yellow gown, green gown, blue gown, black gown, white gown, each group was beautifully dressed like they were competing in a show. Their gowns were still new and each person was wearing a white belt tied to their waists. The people who had come up to the peak numbered at around three to four thousands.

Chongxu thought, “They’re not organised yet, we can take advantage of this and start killing them. This will be to our advantage. But they’re playing trick, wanting to give propriety first before fighting. If we move now, we will be very rude.” He then saw Linghu Chong was chuckling without care and Fangzheng was staring but not looking and maintaining his composure, he thought, “If I seem frightened, it’s because my meditation isn’t enough.”

After the sect’s people stood at their places, ten elders came up. With five to each side, they stood to the left and right. The music suddenly stopped and the ten elders said in unison, “Sun Moon Sect cultured and kind warrior, benefiting the common people, the Sacred Chief has arrived!”

A big blue sedan chair was carried up the peak. This sedan chair was being carried by sixteen porters, its movement fast and steady. The whole sedan chair looked like as if it was a master of qinggong as it floated up to the peak, and the sixteen porters carrying it didn’t look weak in martial arts. Linghu Chong took a look and saw Zu Qianqiu, Huang Boliu, and Ji Wushi were among the porters. He was thinking if it wasn’t for the fact that Old Man was too short then he would’ve been carrying the sedan chair with Zu Qianqiu and be one of the porters. Linghu Chong’s anger surged up and he thought, “Zu Qianqiu is a hero from this generation, but Chief Ren forced him to do such a lowly thing. Treating the world’s heroes like slaves, of course people will be angry.”

There was a person on the left and right sides of the blue sedan chair. On the left side was Xiang Wentian, while on the right was an old man. This old man looked very familiar. Linghu Chong started as he recognised that person to be the elder who taught him how to play qin in Luoyang City, he was Elder Bamboo-Green. This person called Yingying as ‘auntie’, causing him to mistakenly take Yingying to be an old granny. After he left Luoyang, he hadn’t seen him again, but today he was following Ren Woxing up Xianxing Peak. His heart was thumping as he thought, “Why don’t I see Yingying?” Suddenly he thought of something and saw the white belts tied around the Sun Moon Sect people like they were in mourning. Could Yingying have seen her father leading his men to attack Heng-Shan and after painstakingly admonished him not to do so, finally killed herself? Linghu Chong felt blood rushing up in his chest and his dantian felt painful. All he wanted to do right now was to rush forward and ask Xiang Wentian. But thinking of Ren Woxing inside the sedan chair, he stopped.

Even though there were thousands of people gathered on Xianxing Peak, there was no noise from the birds. That sedan chair finally stopped and everyone shot a look at it waiting for Ren Woxing to come out. All of a sudden they heard laughter coming from inside Wuse Convent. A person in a big voice said, “Quickly make way, give me a sit!” Another person said, “Don’t fight, from biggest to smallest, we’ll take turns in sitting on this nine dragons chair!” They were the Peachtree Flower Fairy’s and Peachtree Branch Fairy’s voices.

Fangzheng, Chongxu, and Linghu Chong were startled till their faces changed colour. They didn’t know when the Peach Valley Six Fairies broke into Wuse Convent, and they were now fighting to sit on the nine dragon chair. If they sit for too long, the fuse would be triggered and wouldn’t that be very bad? Chongxu quickly rushed into the convent.

“Quickly get up!” Chongxu shouted. “This precious chair belongs to Sun Moon Sect’s Sacred Chief Ren! You can’t sit on it!”

Peach Valley Six Fairies’ voices bellowed out from inside the convent, “Why can’t we sit on it? We want to sit!” “Quickly get up, let me sit!” “This chair is very comfortable, very soft, it’s like sitting on a fatso’s buttocks!” “You’ve sit on a fatso’s buttocks before?”

Linghu Chong knew the Peach Valley Six Fairies were fighting to sit on the nine dragon precious chair. One sat for a while, then another one would sit for a while. At the end, they would trigger the fuse and explode the tens of thousands catties of explosives buried underneath Wuse Convent. Then the Sun Moon Sect people, Shaolin, Wudang, and Heng-Shan School heroes on the Xianxing Peak would all be burnt.

In the beginning, he wanted to rush inside to put a stop to them, but he didn’t know how to do it and it seemed his heart was hoping that the explosives would explode. Since Yingying had died, he didn’t want to live anymore. If everyone could die in a wink of an eye, how could it not be a clean death? With a glance, he suddenly saw Yilin’s pair of smart eyes were looking at him. But as soon as their eyes connected, she immediately avoided her gaze. Linghu Chong thought, “Little martial sister Yilin is still so young, but she’ll also be burnt to dust. Wouldn’t that be a pity? But in this world, who doesn’t die? Even if everyone today is being peaceful and has no enmity with each other, wouldn’t everyone here still turn to bones a hundred years from now?”

Then he heard Peach Valley Six Fairies were still quarrelling continuously, “You’ve already sit twice, I haven’t even sit once on it yet.” “The first time I sat on it, I was pulled down so it doesn’t count.” “I have an idea, we’ll all sit on it. See if it fits or not?” “Wonderful, wonderful! Crowd together, haha!” “You sit first!” “You sit first, I’ll sit on top.” “The oldest sit on the top, the youngest sit at the bottom!” “No, the oldest sit first! The younger you are, the higher you should sit!”

Great Master Fangzheng saw the crisis was going to happen soon, but he also couldn’t say anything that would reveal the trap. He quickly walked inside the hall and loudly said, “Honourable guests are outside, don’t quarrel, be quiet!” These two words ‘be quiet’ were said with the backing of Shaolin School’s paramount internal energy martial art called ‘Roar of the Iron Lion’, and it was aimed at the Peach Valley Six Fairies. Priest Chongxu felt dizzy and was dangerously close to falling down. The Peach Valley Six Fairies lost consciousness at the same time. Chongxu was happy and his hands moved like the wind to lift the two people sitting on the chair. This was followed by sealing the acupoints of those six people and throwing them beneath the Guanyin’s offering table. He then stooped down besides the chair and heard no unusual noise. His hands and legs felt weak, and his head was perspiring heavily. If Fangzheng had come in just a bit later, then the fuse would’ve been triggered and everyone would have died.

Chongxu and Fangzheng walked back out shoulder to shoulder, and said, “Chief Ren, please come in for some tea!”

But the screen on that sedan chair remained motionless and there was no movement from inside the sedan chair as well. Chongxu was indignant as he thought, “This old demon head thinks himself so highly! Great Master Fangzheng, Headmaster Linghu, and I currently have the highest positions in Wulin. We’re standing here waiting but you don’t even pay attention to us!” If not for that nine dragon chair having a trap in it, he would have unsheathed his sword, opened up the sedan chair’s curtain, and fought with Ren Woxing. He said it again one more time, but there was still no answer coming from inside the sedan chair.

Xiang Wentian bent his waist and put his ear beside the sedan chair. He nodded a few times listening to the directions from the person inside the sedan chair. Standing back up, he said, “My humble sect Chief Ren said, Shaolin Temple Great Master Fangzheng and Wudang Priest Chongxu are seniors in Wulin, and that he doesn’t deserve for the two seniors to be waiting here for him. Later, he will personally go to Shaolin and Wudang to express his thanks and apology.”

Xiang Wentian also said, “Chief Ren said he has come to Mount Heng-Shan today especially to meet Headmaster Linghu. He’d like to ask only Headmaster Linghu to be in the convent to meet him.” When he finished speaking, he gestured with his hand and the sixteen porters carried the sedan chair into the convent and put it down inside the Guanyin Hall. Xiang Wentian and Elder Bamboo Green accompanied the sedan chair inside, but they came back out with the porters, leaving the sedan chair alone inside the convent.

Chongxu thought, “Something’s up here, I wonder what kind of trap is inside that sedan chair.” He looked at Fangzheng and Linghu Chong. Fangzheng wasn’t sure what to do and his face was looking bewildered.

“Since Chief Ren only wants to meet Junior alone, then please wait here,” Linghu Chong said.

Chongxu whispered, “Be careful.”

Linghu Chong nodded and strode inside the convent. That Wuse Convent was just a little room and if someone spoke loudly in the Guanyin Hall then people outside would be able to hear them clearly.

“Junior Linghu Chong pays my respect to Chief Ren,” Linghu Chong greeted, but he didn’t hear Ren Woxing saying anything. Linghu Chong suddenly gasped in surprise.

Chongxu was startled as he was afraid Linghu Chong had fallen under Ren Woxing’s violent hands. He took a step wanting to enter the convent and help, but he thought, “Brother Linghu’s sword art is excellent and unmatched in this world. He entered the convent with a sword so that demon head Ren couldn’t have possibly killed him with a stab. If he had really fallen under his violent hands, I would still be too late coming in to help. If that old demon head Ren hasn’t killed Brother Linghu, that’ll be best. But if Brother Linghu has fallen under his violent hands, then this demon head will be alone inside the Guanyin Hall and he’ll definitely sit on that nine dragon chair, and if I go inside then I’d ruin everything.” In that moment, he felt agitated and pondered, “That old demon head Ren might be sitting on that chair right now. In just a moment, the fuse will be triggered and this Xianxing Peak will be destroyed. If I quickly run away at this time like a coward, Xiang Wentian will see it and will immediately alert him, then we’ll be defeated. But if it explodes now, no matter how fast I move, I still won’t be able to escape. So what should I do?” He had originally calculated everything in detail. When the Sun Moon Sect came up the peak to attack, how they would fight, how to retreat, everything had been predicted that when Ren Woxing sit down on the nine dragons chair, everyone from Shaolin, Wudang, and Heng-Shan Schools would’ve retreated down to the valley. They never expected the Sun Moon Sect would come up without fighting and instead give their propriety first before fighting. Moreover, Ren Woxing wanted to meet Linghu Chong alone inside the convent. Everything that he had predicted had now changed. Even though he was very smart, he was at a lost for ideas at the moment.

Great Master Fangzheng also knew the situation was urgent, and he was also worried for Linghu Chong’s safety. But his cultivation was already very deep and his mind was very clear. He felt life and death, glory and disgrace, bad and good luck, victory and defeat were not that big a thing. People strive to do things but whether it succeeds or not, it is all decided by heaven. Whatever the conclusion would be, it all depends on each person’s fate and can’t be forced.

That was why even though his heart didn’t feel right, he looked indifferent. If the explosives really exploded and his bone was to turn to dust, only this leather sack would be lost, so what was there to be afraid of? The explosives buried underneath the nine dragons chair was a secret. Besides Fangzheng, Chongxu, and Linghu Chong, the people who buried the explosives like Qingxu and Chenggao were all at the waist of the mountain waiting for the explosives at the peak to explode before they explode the landmines. No one else on the Xianxing Peak knew of the situation. Shaolin, Wudang, and Heng-Shan Schools were all waiting for Ren Woxing and Linghu Chong inside Wuse Convent to finish speaking before they would move and fight against the people from the Sun Moon Sect.

Chongxu abided his time. He saw no movement inside the convent, and there was no noise coming out from there as well. Moving his internal energy, he tried listening to any noise. Indistinctly, he heard like Linghu Chong was whispering something. He felt happy and thought, “So Brother Linghu is safe and sound.” As his mind was divided, his internal energy wasn’t as pure anymore and he couldn’t hear anything temporarily. But he was worried what he heard was just his own wishful thinking and that his ears had heard what he wanted to hear, and that the voice wasn’t necessarily Linghu Chong’s. Otherwise, why couldn’t he hear what Linghu Chong was saying?

After some more time had passed, he heard Linghu Chong calling out, “Brother Xiang, please come in and accompany Chief Ren to exit the convent.”

“Yes!” Xiang Wentian answered. With Elder Bamboo Green, they led the sixteens porters going into Wuse Convent and carried that blue sedan chair out of there. The Sun Moon Sect people standing outside the convent bowed, and said, “Respectfully welcoming the honourable Sacred Chief.” That sedan chair was brought to its previous stopping place and was put down.

“Presenting Sacred Chief’s gift to Shaolin Temple’s Abbott,” Xiang Wentian said.

Two men carrying trays walked up to Fangzheng, and bowed to him presenting the trays. Fangzheng saw the first tray contained a very old and fragrant strand of prayer beads, while the other tray contained a handwritten ancient scripture which had sanskrit written on the cover. The sanskrit written was ‘Jingang Scripture’. Fangzheng couldn’t help feeling rapt. In his research on Buddhism, there was more knowledge to gain from the ‘Jingang Scripture’. The ‘Jingang Scripture’ he had studied was from the Eastern Jin where a reverend monk translated it into chinese. But there were some places in the scripture where it was difficult to understand and he had always wanted to see the original sanskrit scripture to verify, but there was nowhere to find it. When he saw the scripture right now, he was enraptured. He joined his palms and said, “Amituofo, to receive this precious scripture, my appreciation is boundless!” He extended both of his hands respectfully and lifted that ‘Jingang Scripture’, then he lifted the prayer beads and said, “Thank you Chief Ren for your generous gift. I don’t know how I can ever repay this.”

“My humble sect’s chief said that my humble sect has treated the world’s heroes rudely,” Xiang Wentian replied. “We are deeply ashamed of this. Great Master Fangzheng, don’t add more blames on us and my humble sect will appreciate it very much.” He leaned his head to a side and continued, “Presenting Chief Ren’s gift to Wudang School’s Headmaster Priest.”

Two men from the sect acknowledged the order and walked up to Priest Chongxu. They bowed offering the trays. Those two people hadn’t come close yet but Chongxu could already see one tray was holding a long sword. When those two people came near him, he saw the long sword’s scabbard was multi-coloured greenish copper. On the copper was inlaid two characters: ‘Zhen Wu’. Chongxu gasped in surprise. When Wudang School was first created by the Grandmaster Zhang Sanfeng, he was using a sword called ‘Zhen Wu Sword’ which had always been a treasure of the Wudang School. More than eighty years ago, a few elders from the Sun Moon Sect raided Mount Wudang at night and stole the precious sword along with Zhang Sanfeng’s handwritten book of ‘Taiji Manuscript’. Then a ferocious fight followed, in which three first class masters of Wudang died. Even though they also managed to kill four Sun Moon Sect elders, they couldn’t snatch back the manuscript and sword. This was Wudang School’s biggest shame, and over the last eighty years, before each headmaster passed away, their last instructions would be to snatch the sword and manuscript back. But Dark Wood Cliff was heavily fortified and Wudang School had tried a few times to snatch them back, but they had always failed and had instead lost a few lives on top of Dark Wood Cliff. Unexpectedly, this sword had appeared on Xianxing Peak. When he took a look at the other tray, it contained a handwritten book with its pages turned yellow a long time ago. On the cover was written ‘Taiji Manuscript’. Priest Chongxu had seen plenty of Zhang Sanfeng’s handwritten book on Mount Wudang, so once he saw this ‘Taiji Manuscript’, he knew it was genuine.

Both his hands trembled as he took the long sword. His right hand gripped the handle of the sword and lightly drew it out halfway. He felt a rush of cold air coming from the sword. He knew Grandmaster Sanfeng had a godly sword art in his late years and he could easily not use a sword to fight, but if he was forced to fight with someone then he usually used an iron sword or a wooden sword. This ‘Zhen Wu Sword’ was the sword he used during his middle age to annihilate the demonical and shake the Jianghu. It was a very sharp instrument. Chongxu was afraid he might be fooled by Ren Woxing so he flipped open the ‘Taiji Manuscript’ to take a look. It really was Grandmaster Sanfeng’s book. He returned the manuscript onto the tray and kneeled on the ground, then he kowtowed eight times towards the manuscript and the sword.

Standing back up, he said, “Chief Ren has a very broad mind for returning the remnants of Wudang Grandmaster back to Zhen Wu Monastery. Even if my body is reduced to dust, it will be hard to repay your benevolence.” Once he had taken the manuscript and sword, his heart was so excited that both his hands couldn’t stop shaking.

“My humble sect’s Chief said my humble sect had offended Wudang School in the past and we’re very ashamed,” Xiang Wentian said. “Today, everything is settled, and we hope that Wudang School will forgive us.”

“Chief Ren is being too polite,” Chongxu replied.

Xiang Wentian then said, “Prensenting Sacred Chief’s gift to Heng-Shan School’s Headmaster Linghu.”

Fangzheng and Chongxu both thought, “I wonder what he’s going to give Headmaster Linghu. What kind of precious gifts are they going to be?” They now saw twenty men coming up, and each of them was carrying a tray as they walked up to Linghu Chong. On the trays were only gown, hat, shoes, wine pot, wine cup, tea cup, and many other everyday items. Even though each of them was fine, they were clearly not some magnificent items. Only one tray held a jade flute and another tray held an ancient qin, which were clearly treasures. But compared to the presents given to Fangzheng and Chongxu, they were not even close in value.

Linghu Chong folded his hands in salute and said, “Many thanks.” He then ordered Yu Sao and the others to receive the gifts.

“My humble sect’s Chief said that we’ve been inappropriate to come to Mount Heng-Shan this time and cause a big disturbance,” Xiang Wentian said. “For all the Shi Tai from the Heng-Shan School, we’re giving them each a set of gowns and a long sword. For all the secular martial sisters, we’re giving them each a set of jewelries and a long sword. Please kindly accept them. My humble sect has also purchased five hundred acres of farm at the foot of Mount Heng-Shan to give to Wuse Convent. We’ll take our leave now.”

After he said this, he folded his hands in salute to Fangzheng, Chongxu, and Linghu Chong, then turned around to walk away.

“Mr. Xiang!” Chongxu called out.

Xiang Wentian turned around and said, smiling, “What’s Priest’s order?”

“We’re indebted to your noble sect Chief’s generosity and have received rewards without doing anything. So we don’t feel comfortable,” Chongxu said. “I don’t know… don’t know…” He just said these words when he couldn’t say anymore. He wanted to ask ‘I don’t know what’s the idea behind this?’, but at the end, he couldn’t say it out loud.

Xiang Wentian laughed and folded his hands. “The items have returned to their original owners, this is naturally right. Why’s Priest feeling uncomfortable about it?” He turned around and shouted, “Chief is going!”

The sound of music rose up and ten elders opened up the way, while the sixteen porters lifted the big blue sedan chair and started going down the peak. They were followed by the group of horn players and drum players. At the end of the line was the sect people from the different halls. They went down the peak in a line.

Chongxu and Fangzheng looked at Linghu Chong and both thought, “Why did Chief Ren change his mind? Only you know his reasons.” They couldn’t gather anything from looking at Linghu Chong, but he seemed to be happy and also a little sad. After they heard the Sun Moon Sect walking down for a while and the music sound had ceased, the cries of ‘Long Live the Chief, Unify the Jianghu’ had also stopped. With bluffs and bluster they came, and now everything was quiet.

Chongxu couldn’t hold back any longer and he asked, “Brother Linghu, Chief Ren suddenly became generous, this must be because of your enormous reputation. I’m not sure… not sure…” He wanted to ask ‘I’m not sure what you said’, but he thought that if Linghu Chong was willing to say it then he’d of course tell them. But if he didn’t want to say it, then asking too much would be inappropriate. That’s why after saying ‘not sure’, he stopped himself.

“Please forgive me seniors,” Linghu Chong replied. “Junior has promised Chief Ren. The reason for this is unsuitable to be let out for the moment, but there’s no big secrets among the reasons. Seniors will know of the reasons yourself in days gone by.”

Fangzheng laughed aloud and replied, “A big disaster has disappeared, this is really the good fortune of Wulin. Looking at Chief Ren today, he doesn’t have any enmity towards our orhodox sects and schools and has changed his murderous way. This is very encouraging and a happy moment.”

Not knowing the reason made Chongxu’s heart itched. Hearing what Fangzheng said, he also felt that it was reasonable. “I’m not being overly anxious, but Sun Moon Sect is very sly and crafty. We should still be very careful. Maybe Chief Ren found out that we’re prepared and he’s afraid of being blown up, so he pretended to be nice today. Then when we’re not on our guard, he’d do a sneak attack. According to the two of you, can this happen?”

“This… person is hard to predict,” Fangzheng hesitated. “We must be on our guard.”

Linghu Chong shook his head. “No, it won’t happen.”

“Headmaster Linghu firmly believes this won’t happen, that’s very good then,” Chongxu said, but he was actually thinking otherwise in his heart.

After some time, reports from below the mountain came. The Sun Moon Sect party had gone past the waist of the mountain, and the people guarding the road didn’t receive the signal so they didn’t fight or explode the landmines. Chongxu ordered someone to inform Qingxu, Chenggao, and the people responsible for the nine dragons chair and the landmines to cut the fuses.

Linghu Chong asked Fangzheng and Chongxu to enter Wuse Convent and rest inside Guanyin Hall. Fangzheng perused the sanskrit ‘Jingang Manuscript’. Chongxu touched the ‘Zhen Wu Sword’ and studied the ‘Taiji Manuscript’, his joy was undescribably and gradually all his doubts and worries were forgotten.

All of a sudden, someone from underneath the offering table said, “Ah, Yingying, it’s you!”

Another person said, “Brother Chong, You… you… you…” They were the voices of the Peach Valley Six Fairies.

Linghu Chong gasped in surprise and jumped up from his chair.

But then he heard voices kept coming from underneath the offering table, “Brother Chong, my dad, he’s… he’s passed away.”

“What happened?”

“That day on Mount Huashan’s Peak of the Morning Sun, not long after you went down the mountain, my dad suddenly fell down from the Deity’s Palm. Brother Xiang and I caught him, not long after, he stopped breathing.”

“Then… then… someone plotted against him!”

“No. Brother Xiang said, he’s already old and had been suffering for many years under the West Lake. For the past few years, he had been completely engrossed in suppressing the various internal energies in his body, and it has actually taken a lot of energies out of him. This time, in order to destroy the five mountains sword schools, his mind has been occupied by this. His time is up.”

“I never thought this would happen.”

“That day on the Peak of the Morning Sun, Brother Xiang and ten elders discussed this and they unanimously elected me to be the Sun Moon Sect’s Chief.”

“So Chief Ren is actually Young lady Ren, not Mr. Ren.”

Just then when the Peach Valley Six Fairies were fighting to sit on the nine dragons chair, Fangzheng used the ‘Lion Roar’ backed by unsurpassed internal energy to shake them up. Chongxu was afraid they might let out the secret so he sealed their acupoints and put them under the offering altar. Unexpectedly, these six people’s inner energies were quite deep that they woke up not long after and heard the dialogue between Linghu Chong and ‘Chief Ren’. Now, they had revealed the words that were supposed to be kept secret.

When Fangzheng and Chongxu heard Ren Woxing had died and Yingying had taken up the Chief position, they were startled but happy at the same time. Yingying had given both of them precious gifts but she had given Linghu Chong some gown and shoes to wear, which were actually the wedding presents for their marriage. They still heard the Peach Valley Six Fairies talking one after another: “Brother Chong, I’ve come to Mount Heng-Shan today to see you. If the people from the orthodox path find out, they’ll jest about it.”

“Why’s that important? You can only become bashful.”

“No, I don’t want others to know.”

“Alright, I promise you not to say anything.”

“I ordered them to called out those cultured and kind warrior, benefiting the common people, what long live the chief, unify the Jianghu, so other people wouldn’t find out. I wasn’t being rude to your Heng-Shan School and Great Master Fangzheng and Priest Chongxu.”

“Don’t worry about that, Great Master and Priest won’t find out.”

“Also, Sun Moon Sect and Heng-Shan School, Shaolin School, Wudang School are turning from enemies into friends. I also don’t want others to say that it’s my idea. In Jianghu, people will definitely say that it’s because me… and you… and you is the reason, also the big fight was not fought, so I’ll be really embarassed.”

“Hehe, I’m not afraid.”

“Your skin is thick, so of course you’re not afraid. The news of dad passing away has been kept a secret by the Sun Moon Sect. Other people will only know my dad has come to Mount Heng-Shan and talked to you and reconciled with each other. This way my dad’s reputation will be increased. When I get back to Dark Wood Cliff, I’ll announce the death.”

“Right, then as son-in-law I’ll come to kowtow to him.”

“You can come, that’ll be best. That day at Mount Huashan on the Peak of the Morning Sun, my dad has personally agreed to our marriage, but… but after I agree…….”

Linghu Chong heard the six of them were gradually revealing Yingying and his wedding arrangement so he quickly shouted, “Peach Valley Six Fairies, you’re still not coming out, talking nonsense under there. I’m going to peel your skin and strip your flesh.”

But he still heard Peachtree Trunk Fairy sighed quietly and mimicking Yingying’s speech, “But I’m still worried about you. Dad hasn’t given you the method on how to harmonize the different internal energies. Actually, even if he had imparted it to you, it’s no use. Dad himself, sigh!” Peachtree Trunk Fairy pinched his throat and he sounded grieved. When Fangzheng, Chongxu, and Linghu Chong heard him, they couldn’t help becoming sad too. Ren Woxing was a strange warrior of this era, and even though he had done bad things all his life, it was still very sad for his life to have ended this way.

Linghu Chong’s feelings towards Ren Woxing was particularly strange. Even though he detested the way Ren Woxing handled his power and his overbearing behaviour, he still couldn’t help admiring his ability, especially his unscrupulous and independent nature which was quite like his own. The only difference was that he didn’t have the ambition of ‘unifying the Jianghu’.

At that moment, in the three people’s hearts, they all thought, “From time past, all the emperors, ministers, warriors, even bandits and murderers, they all die at the end.”

Peachtree Fruit Fairy squeezed his throat and said, “Brother Chong, I’m… ”

Chongxu felt that if they continued to talk then Linghu Chong would be embarassed. He laughed and said, “Peach Valley six brothers, sorry for the offence before. But enough with your talking, if you provoke Headmaster Linghu, he’ll seal your ‘lifelong mute acupoint’. I don’t think it’ll be worthwhile.”

Peach Valley Six Fairies were greatly startled. They asked in unison, “What’s a ‘lifelong mute acupoint’?”

“Once that ‘lifelong mute acupoint’ is sealed, you’ll be mute for the rest of your life and can’t speak anymore,” Chongxu answered. “But you’ll still be able to eat and drink.”

The Peach Valley Six Fairies shouted together, “Speaking is number one, eating and drinking are number two.”

“The words you said just before, you mustn’t say them again,” Chongxu advised. “Headmaster Linghu, on accord of Great Master Fangzheng and I, please don’t seal their ‘lifelong mute acupoint’. Great Master Fangzheng and I will vouch for them. The conversation between you and Young lady Ren that the six of them eavesdropped from underneath the offering altar, they won’t reveal a single word of it.”

Peachtree Flower Fairy said, “Injustice, injustice! We weren’t eavesdropping, the sound entered our ears so what can we do?”

“You’ve already heard it, no one cares about anything else,” Chongxu said. “But talking about it after hearing them, that you can’t do.”

Peach Valley Six Fairies said in unison, “Ok, ok! We won’t say it, we won’t say it.”

Peachtree Root Fairy said, “But Sun Moon Sect Sacred Chief, those two sentences that were changed, can we say it?”

“You can’t say it, definitely not!” Linghu Chong shouted.

Peachtree Branch Fairy mumbled, “Can’t say it then can’t say it. Only you and young lady Ren can say it, we can’t say it.”

Chongxu pondered, “Two sentences that were changed by Sun Moon Sect? Those sentences must be ‘Long live the Chief, unify the Jianghu’. Young lady Ren is the chief now, and she doesn’t want to unify Jianghu. But I wonder what they’ve been changed to?”

Three years later, at the Plum Manor on Mount Gu at the West Lake of Hangzhou, bright lanterns were hung and there was a gathering of beautifully dressed people. This day was the day Linghu Chong and Yingying were to be married. At this time, Linghu Chong had already given the Heng-Shan School’s headmaster position to Yiqing. Yiqing made every effort to give it to Yilin, saying Yilin had avenged Heng-Shan’s big enmity. For avenging their masters, she should get the headmaster position. But Yilin said she would never agree and cried. When all is said and done, they followed Linghu Chong’s idea and Yiqing was handed the headmaster position.

Yingying also resigned from being the Sun Moon Sect’s chief and gave it to Xiang Wentian. Even though Xiang Wentian was a stubborn person, he didn’t have any ambition to annex the orthodox sects. So over the last few years, Jianghu was peaceful.

Today, many Jianghu warriors had come to Plum Manor to congratulate them. After going through the ritual and finishing the banquet, it was time to have fun in the newlywed’s house. The crowd wanted the bride and groom to perform a swordplay. In this world, everyone knew Linghu Chong’s sword art was wonderful, and there were a lot of guests there who had not seen it yet.

Linghu Chong said, smiling, “Today, it’ll ruin the atmosphere if we use sabres and swords. The bride and I will play a song, how about that?”

The crowd cheered.

Linghu Chong took a yaoqin and gave Yingying a jade flute. Yingying didn’t lift her red cover, and extended her delicate hand to take the jade flute. She started playing a song with Linghu Chong. The tune they were playing was the ‘Smiling Proud Wanderer’. In these three years, Linghu Chong was under Yingying’s guidance in studying the qin and he was already quite good in playing this tune. Linghu Chong remembered of that day outside of Hengshan City out in the wilderness, he listened to Hengshan School Liu Zhengfeng and Sun Moon Sect elder Qu Yang playing this tune. The two of them were very friendly even though they were from different sects and both of them were finally killed. Today, he himself had married Yingying and no sect could stop them. Compared to the people who composed this tune, he was more fortunate. He also thought when Liu and Qu composed this tune together, they must’ve been doing it because of their sects’ separation and to erase the years of enmity between the sects. This time, the tune was being played by husband and wife, at last their wishes had been fulfilled. As he thought till here, the qin and flute became even more harmonious.

Most of the people in the crowd didn’t understand music, but they were very pleased to hear it. When the song was finished, they all clapped and cheered, and happily led the married couple to the newlywed room. Once the couple were in the room, they closed the door to the room.

Suddenly, a sad huqin sound rose from outside the wall. Linghu Chong happily said, “Martial uncle Mo Da…”

“Don’t make any noise,” Yingying whispered.

They heard the huqin sound playing the tune ‘Courtship*’ softly, but the mournful air of the song could be felt from start to finish. Linghu Chong were feeling very happy as he thought, “Martial uncle Mo Da really didn’t die. Today, he’s come to play this tune to congratulate Yingying and I getting married.”

(*Translator’s note: the chinese characters literally means ‘Male Phoenix seeking female Phoenix’. )

The huqin sound gradually went far until finally it couldn’t be heard anymore.

Linghu Chong turned around and gently lifted up Yingying’s red face cover. Yingying smiled captivatingly, with the red candles shining on her face, she looked beautiful as jade. She suddenly shouted, “Come out!”

Linghu Chong was perplexed. He thought, “What come out?”

Yingying laughed and shouted, “Still not coming out, I’m going to drench you!”

From under the bed, six people came out. They were the Peach Valley Six Fairies. They were hiding underneath the bed to hear to the newlywed’s conversation. Then they’d go back to the hall and relate to the crowd what the newlyweds were talking about. Linghu Chong’s mind was already drunk so he didn’t realise anything. Yingying was still careful and she was able to hear their breathing under the bed.

Linghu Chong laughed aloud and said, “Six Peach brothers, I almost got trapped by your ambush!”

Peach Valley Six Fairies walked out of the room and started shouting, “Long Live, husband and wife forever! Long Live, husband and wife forever!”

Chongxu was at the Flower Hall chatting to Fangzheng. When he heard the cries of the Peach Valley Six Fairies, he couldn’t help smiling. They had been keeping this a secret for three years and it was finally revealed now. This was the oath that Linghu Chong and Yingying had sword to that day in the Guanyin Hall. The oath that came from changing the two sentences of the Sun Moon Sect.

Four months later, it was evening during springtime. Grass was long and flowers were blossoming. Linghu Chong and Yingying were newlyweds, holding hands as they went to Mount Huashan. Linghu Chong wanted to bring his wife pay his respect to Grand martial uncle Feng Qingyang, and to kowtow to him for teaching him the sword art. But they had been going around Mount Huashan’s five peaks and three mountain ranges, searched every dell, but they didn’t find a single trace of Feng Qingyang’s track.

Linghu Chong was displeased.

“Grand martial uncle is a highly skillful person who’s out of this world, like a divine dragon that we can only see its head but unable to see its tail, so we don’t know where he’s gone to,” Yingying said.

Linghu Chong sighed. “Grand martial uncle definitely has a godly sword art. His internal energy cultivation can also be regarded as unmatched in this world. In the last three and a half years, I’ve been practising the inner energy he imparted to me. Those different types of energies are almost all gone.”

“Then we can thank Shaolin Temple Great Master Fangzheng,” Yingying replied. “Since we can’t find Grand martial uncle Feng, we’ll go to Shaolin Temple tomorrow and kowtow to Great Master Fangzheng to thank him.”

“Great Master Fangzheng brought the divine martial art and guided me in learning it, so he’s like a half master to me. We should give thanks to him.”

Yingying pursed her lips smiling. “Brother Chong, you still don’t understand. That skill you learned, it’s Shaolin School’s ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’ inner energy.”

“Ah!” Linghu Chong gasped and jumped up. “It’s… it’s ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’? How do you know?”

“That day I heard you said that the inner energy was given orally by Grand Martial uncle Feng to Peach Valley Six Fairies for them to bring to Great Master Fangzheng,” Yingying explained. “I had my doubts on this. That internal energy method is so profound and mysterious that when you’re practising it, nothing can go wrong in the slightest. If something goes wrong then you’ll fire deviate and lose your life. How is it possible to ask the Peach Valley Six Fairies to bring this and pass it on orally? The Peach Valley Six Fairies speak in a tangle, and how can they also talk clearly? Even though Great Master Fangzheng said it and it’s likely that grand martial uncle Feng forced them to memorise it, it’s still very dangerous. Later on, I asked these six brothers and they all said it’s true. But when I told them to recite a few sentences, one said they’ve forgotten it long ago, one said they can only tell Monk Fangzheng and can’t tell other people. The six of them said a few more words, but their words don’t match head to tail, and there were hundreds of discrepancies. Later, they revealed this by denying it, they said in order for Great Master Fangzheng to save your life, he didn’t want you to know and pretended Grand martial uncle Feng was the one who imparted this martial art. If you ask them about it, he asked them to keep it a secret.”

Linghu Chong’s mouth gaped wide open and he didn’t make any noise for a long time. Yingying continued, “But Grand martial uncle Feng calling them was true. But he called them to tell Great Master Fangzheng that the Sun Moon Sect was going to attack Heng-Shan, and he asked Shaolin and Wudang Schools to help.”

“You’re so bad,” Linghu Chong complained. “You knew about this a long time ago but you only said about this today.”

Yingying smiled. “That day in Shaolin Temple, you were very stubborn. Great Master Fangzheng wanted you to join Shaolin and make him your master, then he’d impart you with the ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’, but you said you wouldn’t agree. You brushed him away and walked out the door. If Great Master Fangzheng again mentioned this matter of imparting you with ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’, then he’s afraid your old stubborness would come out again, rather dying then learning it. Wouldn’t that be a waste? That’s why he was forced to use Grand martial uncle Feng’s name to make you think it was Huashan School’s inner energy method, and you’d learn it willingly.”

“Ah,” Linghu Chong understood now. “I know, you didn’t want to tell me this because you’re also afraid I’ll become stubborn and suddenly stop learning it? Since now you know the various inner energies is my body are almost gone, you told me everything.”

Yingying again pursed her lips smiling. “Your stubborness, everyone knows it mustn’t be provoked.”

Linghu Chong let out a long sigh and pulled on her hand. “Yingying, back then you gave up your life at Shaolin Temple so Great Master Fangzheng would impart me with ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’. Even though you didn’t die, Great Master Fangzheng had already agreed to you to do this. He’s a senior in Wulin and his words carry a lot of weight, so finally he gave me this divine martial art. This was the martial art that you used your life to trade with, even if I don’t care whether I live or die, how can I… how can I not care about you and stop practising?”

Yingying whispered, “I also thought of this before, but I was still afraid.”

“We’ll go down the mountain tomorrow and go to Shaolin Temple. Since I’ve already learned the ‘Tendon Altering Sutra’, it’s best if I go to Shaolin Temple and become a monk.”

Yingying knew he was joking. “A wild monk like you, the big temples won’t accept and the little temples don’t want you. Shaolin Temple’s rules and commandments are very strict, a monk who drinks wine and eats meat like you, they’ll drive out of there within half a day.”

They walked hand in hand, chatting leisurely. Linghu Chong saw Yingying was continuously looking left and right, looking like she was looking for something.

“What are you looking for?” Linghu Chong asked.

“Not telling, you’ll know when we find it. This time coming to Mount Huashan, we didn’t manage to pay our respects to grand martial uncle Feng and it’s a regret. But if we also can’t see that person, it’ll be a pity.”

Linghu Chong was confused. “We’re seeing another person? Who is it?”

Yingying smiled and didn’t answer. She said, “You locked Lin Pingzhi up in that jail underneath Plum Manor. It’s actually a brilliant idea. You promised your little martial sister to take care of Lin Pingzhi for the rest of his life. While he’s inside that jail, he has food to eat, clothes to wear, and no one can harm him. It’s really looking after him for the rest of his life. I’ve also given your other friend a special treatment.”

Linghu Chong was even more perplexed, he thought, “My other friend? Who’s he?” He knew his wife’s behaviour was often outside people’s expectation. Since she wasn’t willing to say it then there was no use asking. That night, they stayed in Linghu Chong’s old room and drank wine. Even though Linghu Chong was looking at his lovable wife, he still thought of many past events and couldn’t help feeling sad. After drinking more than ten cups of wine, he was rather intoxicated. Yingying suddenly looked happy and put down the wine cup. She whispered, “I think he’s coming, let’s have a look.”

Linghu Chong heard sound of monkey’s cries coming from the mountain in front. He didn’t know who Yingying was talking about but he followed her out of the room.

Yingying followed the monkey’s cry and walked quickly towards the mountainside in front. Linghu Chong followed behind her. Under the moonlight, he saw seven to eight monkeys gathered. There were a lot of monkeys on Mount Huashan. Linghu Chong didn’t know what was going on but surprisingly he saw a person surroundeded by those monkeys. Squinting his eyes, he saw that person was Lao Denuo. Delight and anger mixed together inside him, he turned around wanting to take a sword from inside the room. Yingying pulled his arm and whispered, “We’ll go closer and see clearer.”

They went a hundred feet closer and saw Lao Denuo was held between two enormous monkeys, and was being dragged around here and there by them. He wasn’t in control of his body at all. The martial art he had learned was all useless to resist against these two big monkeys.

Linghu Chong was perplexed. “What happened to him?”

“Have a look, I’ll tell you slowly,” said a smiling Yingying.

The monkeys were impatient, jumping up and down, and there wasn’t a moment of respite at all. Lao Denuo was being pulled to the left and right, and he occasionally let out a roar which prompted the two monkeys to scratch his face. At this time, Linghu Chong had finally understood what was going on. Lao Denuo’s right hand and right side were linked to the monkey on the left, while his left hand and left side were linked to the monkey on the right. It was obvious he had been shackled with iron manacles.

He had understood most of it as he asked, “You did this?”

“What do you think?” Yingying asked.

“You destroyed Lao Denuo’s martial art?”

“No, he did it himself to atone for his sin.”

When the monkeys heard the sound of people speaking, they became noisy and took Lao Denuo away with them to go back into the mountain. Linghu Chong wanted to kill Lao Denuo in the beginning to take revenge for Lu Dayou, but seeing him suffering so much, to behead him with a sword was natural, but his heart felt it would be too fast. So he thought, “This traitor has been very sly and his evil is much higher than martial brother Lin. I should let him suffer more.” Then he said, “So these last few days, you’ve been looking for him to give me a look.”

“That day when my father came to the Peak of the Morning Sun, that bastard came offering his flattery. He said he’d obtained the sword manual for the ‘Evil Resisting Sword Art’, and that he’d come to present it to daddy. Dad asked him what for and he said he wanted to become one of the elders for the Sun Moon Sect. Dad didn’t have any free time to talk to him so he told someone to look after him. Later, dad passed away and everyone was busy so no one cared about him and we just took him to the Dark Wood Cliff. After around ten days, I thought about this again and told him to come to ask him some questions. I found out he learned the ‘Evil Resisting Sword Art’ himself and accidentally crippled his martial art instead. This person is your sixth martial brother’s murderer, and since your sixth martial brother loved monkeys, I told people to find two big monkeys and lock him up with them and set him free on Mount Huashan.”

When she said till there, she gripped Linghu Chong’s wrist and continued, “Never thought that I, Ren Yingying, would also finally be locked up with a big monkey, and never part ever again.” She smiled tenderly, her smile soft and loving.

butterfly-left Ling butterfly-right
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One thought on “SPW Chapter 40”
John Shumsays:
October 1, 2022 at 4:54 am
Having the opportunity to read this book is a great joy. Thank you for compiling the translation. Although I had enjoyed the movies, it did not do justice to the story, but l did like the SPW song that was sung by Sam Hui. These 40 chapters captivated me and transported me to the Wulin world envisaged by Jin Yong. Keep up this good work!
My thanks With sincere appreciation.

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