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Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain Chapter 6.2 Encounter

Chapter 6.2 Encounter 

Orchid smiled with delight, exclaiming, "Is this little dove not adorable?"

She moved closer with gentle steps, held up the bird in both hands and

stroked the plumes on its back. At once, she found fastened to the foot of the tiny bird a silken cord, trailing all the way to beyond the doorway.

Orchid started gathering in the thread. The longer she worked at it, the greater the length the tiny string seemed to assume. After pulling the cord in for some while, Orchid still could see no trace of the other end. Gripped by curiosity, Orchid started collecting the long silken cord crisscrossing her hands, but the cord still seemed to be infinitely long. Presently, Sign moved forward to assist her. After drawing in another several hundred yards, they began to feel the weight, which was growing heavier minute by minute, as if an object was attached at the other end. Thereupon, the steward lit up

with joy, crying out aloud, "We shall be saved!" "How?" asked the Company.

The steward then explained, "This white pigeon is kept by the eyrie for carrying messages up and down the mountain. Most probably, when our people at the foot of the mountain found the long hawser destroyed, they dispatched the bird up here, tying emergency equipment to the silk cord to enable us to descend the mountain."

These words threw Quad into a fury. Amid sounds of roaring, he surged forward, meaning to snap the thread. Fortune, standing next to him, immediately whirled round and blocked him. Then, concentrating all the force in his palms, he sent Quad sprawling to the ground.

Meanwhile, Sign warned Orchid, "Sister, be easy with the thread or you will break it." Orchid nodded her assent. Although the silk cord seemed very fine, it was of an extraordinary strength. The two ladies soon felt the

cord mounting in weight without its giving way. After a little while, Orchid began to feel a bit out of breath. Thereupon, Peace volunteered to help.

"Miss Miao, you rest. I will take over." He stepped forward and took over the thread from Orchid.

The sight of the silk thread sent the Company into another flurry of desperate activity. Valour, Curio, Hawk and the others immediately pushed their way outdoors, eager to discover what salvation was attached to the other end of the thread.

Peace and Sign had been some while collecting the thread. Suddenly the group which had gathered outdoors roared out in loud applause. Thereupon,

Peace and Sign slackened their grip on the cord, assuming that the article was already up the mountain. Those remaining inside the hall immediately rushed outside. Valour and Curio were standing on the edge of the cliff,

both pairs of hands feverishly engaged in pulling in the cord. Eventually the other end of the thread disclosed a slightly thicker silk cord and attached to the other end of that was a very heavy rope.

Immediately, the Company let out a loud cheer. Then they busily set to fastening the rope securely onto two large pines by the edge of the cliff.

"We should move!" shouted Hawk. "I shall descend first."

Just as Hawk was grabbing the rope with both hands, intending to slide down the slope, Century bawled out, "Wait a minute! Why is it that you are to be the first one to go down? Who knows what dirty tricks you will play on us once you get down there?"

"Well, I will accept whatever you say," snorted Hawk to Century, wrath in his voice.

Century was momentarily silenced, thinking to himself that they all distrusted each other, each harbouring ill-will against one another. It did not matter in the least who was the first to go down as the remaining party

would inevitably be unable to set their minds at rest. Century, when that question was posed, found himself at a loss for an answer.

Finally, Curio came up with a suggestion. "We shall let the ladies go down first. We men will then draw lots to establish the order in which we shall descend."

In a whispering voice Hawk put forward his idea, "I suggest that the Dragon Lodge, the Horse Spring Banditry and we, the Peking Overland

Convoy, take turns to send one of each of our people down the mountain. By checking and watching each other, we can certainly forestall any vile schemes."

Valour immediately agreed to Hawk's idea and said approvingly, "An excellent idea! Tree, the Great Master, would you kindly return the iron casket to us?" Having made this request, Valour stepped up one pace and reached out his hand, meaning to wrench it from Tree. Earlier on, the Company had set their minds only on matters concerning life and death. Now that the crisis was over, they shifted their minds back to the treasure. Before the secret was made known to them, the Company had taken the iron casket only to be a treasure of the Martial Brotherhood,

without the slightest idea of what the treasure was and where it was hidden.

Now that they had discovered that the poniard had once been the weapon

wielded by the Dashing King, they were quick to grasp that it was indeed an article of value. When they eventually learned from Quad that the poniard

somehow held a clue to finding the vast fortune hidden by the Dashing

King, the Company all became as greedy as a devouring soul. The ancients held that after the Dashing King had captured the capital, his army general Liu Zongmin inflicted torture on the royal households and ranking officials of the Ming Court, extorting from them ton upon ton of precious stones and articles. Soon after this, the Dashing King's armies were defeated. The fortune looted by him vanished from then on, along with all articles of value handed down from generation to generation to the Royal House

which were stored in the Imperial Treasury of the Ming Court at the time. If all this treasure could be retrieved by the clue provided by the poniard inside the iron casket, its value would certainly crown all other fortunes on earth.

Valour's request met with a scornful laugh now that he had broached the subject. Tree simply blurted out with a leer, "What right do you people of the Dragon Lodge have that makes you the sole possessor of the poniard? The blade has been in the safekeeping of the Dragon Lodge for over a hundred years, and it is time now for it to change ownership."

Valour was taken aback, his eyes darting fires of fury. Fortune, Curio and Radiant all advanced one step simultaneously, positioning themselves

alongside Valour.

Immediately, Tree laughed aloud, tossing back his head, remarking, "So the Brothers here want to make aggressive moves? You acquired the poniard a long time ago in a battle, but soon you will have to part with it in another battle. Does that seem fair?"

Valour and his contingent were put in a terrible rage, ready to pounce upon the old monk, wrestle the poniard from him and hack him to pieces. But they restrained themselves, fearing his prowess. They were also forced to retreat a few paces involuntarily by the piercing gaze of the old monk's eyes.

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