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The Return of the Condor Heroes Chapter 6


Chapter 6 – The Jade Heart Manual
Xiao Long Nu’s pair of delicate hands flew out, checking and tapping; the eighty-one sparrows were all kept within a meter of her. Her arms were as if there were engaged in a flying dance, her palms formed a thousand hands and a thousand palms, no matter how hard the sparrows tried to fly away, they couldn’t escape from the boundary of her palms.

Xiao Longnu took out a container from her pocket and placed it in your Yang Guo’s hand and loudly said, “This is the antidote to the Jade Bee stings, give it to Zhao Zhijing.”

When Yang Guo saw Zhao Zhijing, he ground his teeth in fury, but he didn’t want to disobey Xiao Longnu so he quickly walked up to Zhao Zhijing and placed the bottle down heavily in front of him. When the Taoists heard that Xiao Longnu had returned to the palace, they thought that she had come back to avenge Grandma Sun, they put up their guard and quickly told Ma Yu, Qiu Chuji and the other elders the news, but they didn’t guess that she had come back to bring the antidote, they were startled and could not think of anything to say.

After Yang Guo put down the bottle, he looked at Zhao Zhijing, a vicious expression was on his face; he turned around and walked away.

When Lu Qingdu saw Yang Guo, his blood began to boil, and shouted out, “Little punk, you’ve been kicked out of our sect, why have you come back?”

The day the “Toad Stance” struck him, he lost his breath, but because Yang Guo’s internal energy was shallow, he wasn’t seriously hurt. After a few restoring palms by Qiu Chuji and a few days rest, he recovered. Now, he immediately dashed out, wanting to avenge that day’s push.

Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’Er, if you want, fight back.”

Yang Guo heard footsteps behind him, and heard the wind of a palm, someone was aiming for his neck. In the Tomb of the Living Dead he had slept on the Chilled Jade bed for eight days, and practiced eight days of sparrow catching techniques. Although Xiao Longnu only taught him how to catch sparrows, the Ancient Tomb’s lightness kung fu is outstanding, his skills today and that day in the arena were completely different. He didn’t move backwards or forwards, and waited for Lu Qingdu’s hand to arrive; he crouched down and darted out of the way, and tugged on the sleeve of that hand. Lu Qingdu could not believe that in just a few days, his lightness kung fu had increased dramatically. Influenced by anger he had acted without thinking about the enemy. He had quickly dashed out, his body inclined, his legs unsteady and after being tugged by Yang Guo, he fell down heavily onto the ground.

By the time he picked himself back up, Yang Guo had already hurried to Xiao Longnu’s side. Lu Qingdu shouted and cursed, and wanted to go after him. Suddenly a Taoist hurried out from the crowd, grabbed his arm, and pulled him back. When Lu Qingdu was grabbed, he froze, he looked up to see Martial Uncle Yin Zhiping; he cursed under his breath and retreated.

Yin Zhiping called out clearly; “Thank you Miss Long for the antidote.” He bowed down and greeted her.

Xiao Longnu didn’t take any notice and held Yang Guo’s hand and said, “Let’s go.”

Yin Zhiping said, “Miss Long, Yang Guo is a disciple of the Quanzhen and you insist on taking him away. How can we resolve this?”

Xiao Longnu was startled and said, “I don’t want to hear annoying words.” She held Yang Guo’s arm and went back into the forest. Yin Zhiping, Zhao Zhijing and the other Taoist stood there startled.

The two went back into the tomb. Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’Er, your kung fu has improved, but you tripping the fat Taoist was wrong.”

Yang Guo said, “That fat Taoist beat me up badly last time, it’s a pity that I wasn’t able to get some punches in. Gu Gu, why shouldn’t I trip him?”

Xiao Longnu said, “It’s not that you shouldn’t trip him, it’s the way you did it that was wrong. You shouldn’t have pulled him to the ground, you shouldn’t have raised your hands to make him fall, but let him fall by himself.”

Yang Guo was pleased, and said, “That’s a fun method, Gu Gu, teach me.”

Xiao Longnu said, “I’ll be Guo’Er, you’ll be the fat Taoist, come and catch me.” She then walked forward slowly.

Yang Guo laughed as he went to catch her. It was as if Xiao Longnu had eyes in the back of her head, when Yang Guo ran fast, her steps were fast, when he slowed down, she slowed down, the distance between she and Yang Guo stayed at around a meter.

Yang Guo said, “I’m going to catch you now!” He threw himself forward, Xiao Longnu didn’t move. Yang Guo saw that his hands were going to grab her shoulders, but his hands grasped thin air as Xiao Longnu darted backwards, escaping his clutches. Yang Guo quickly turned around to try to catch her, but this move was rushed, he used a force opposite to his momentum, his legs became unsteady, he looked at the ceiling as he fell to the floor and his back ached.

Xiao Longnu took him by the right hand and pulled him up. Yang Guo said, “How come you are so fast?”

Xiao Longnu said, “If you catch sparrows for a year, then you can do this as well.”

Yang Guo said, “I’ve caught them already.”

Xiao Longnu chuckled and said, “That counts as catching sparrows? How can our sect’s kung fu be learned so easily? Follow me.” She then led him to another room. This room was larger than the room where Yang Guo first practiced catching sparrows, at least twice the size. There were six sparrows in this room. This room was larger than before; catching the sparrows will be more difficult. Xiao Longnu passed on some more lightness kung fu and catching techniques to him, eight or nine days later Yang Guo was able to catch the six sparrows in one go.

After that, the stone chambers became larger and larger, the number of sparrows also increased, eventually he moved to the main hall, with eighty-one sparrows.

The Ancient Tomb sect’s formulae for internal energy were wondrous, the Chilled Jade Bed’s ability to enhance internal energy cultivation was incredible, in just three months, Yang Guo could catch all eighty-one sparrows in one go. Xiao Longnu was pleased with his rapid progress, and said, “We will now go outside and catch sparrows.”

Yang Guo had lived in the tomb for three months, and was becoming slightly restless, when he heard that he was going outside to practice, his expression changed to one of delight.

Xiao Longnu said, “What is there to be pleased about? This kung fu is hard to master. There are eighty-one sparrows, you must not let one go.”

The two arrived outside. It was March, on the eve of spring. In front of them was a deep green forest, Yang Guo breathed in deeply, and the fragrance of flowers and grasses flowed into his lungs, it was extremely relaxing.

Xiao Longnu opened the bag, the sparrows flew out, then, her pair of delicate hands flew out, checking to the west, and tapping in the east, and forced the sparrows that had flew out to return. The flock of sparrows suddenly got their freedom back, how come they didn’t all scatter everywhere? It was strange but Xiao Longnu was checking and tapping, the eighty-one sparrows were all kept within a meter of her. Her arms were as if they were engaged in a flying dance, her palms formed a thousand hands and a thousand palms, no matter how hard the sparrows tried to fly away, they couldn’t escape from the boundary of her palms.

Yang Guo looked on with his mouth open. He was startled and pleasantly surprised; he pulled himself together and thought, “Gu Gu is teaching me a wondrous palm technique. Quickly concentrate.” He studied her hand movements, how she attacked and how she took her palms back. Her palm technique was extremely quick, but each and every palm was clear, forming the different stances. Yang Guo studied them for over half an hour, although he didn’t understand completely the essence of the palms, he understood a bit more than he did at the start.

Xiao Longnu demonstrated the palms again, then she separated her palms and placed them behind her back, the sparrows suddenly flew up towards the sky. Xiao Longnu waved her long sleeves, the two gust of wind from the sleeve pushed out, the sparrows were all pushed back, after much screeching, they beat their wings again to fly away.

Yang Guo was delighted; he tugged her sleeve and said, “Gu Gu, I don’t think even Uncle Guo could do that.”

Xiao Longnu said, “This set of palms is called the “Force of Nets Above and Snares Below” (tian luo di wang shi), it is one of the Ancient Tomb sect’s foundation skills. Work hard and learn it!” She then taught him the stances of the palms; Yang Guo remembered all of them. Within ten days, Yang Guo learned all eighty-one stances of the “Force of Nets Above and Snares Below”, and made more progress in his skills.

Xiao Longnu caught a sparrow, and told Yang Guo to prevent its’ escape with his palms. At first he could only repel the escape two or three times before the sparrow escaped through the spaces in his hands. Xiao Longnu was standing to the side, she stretched out her hand and sent the sparrow back. Yang Guo continued with his palms, but because his palms weren’t fast enough, in just two or three stances again the sparrow flew away. Xiao Longnu again forced the sparrow back so Yang Guo could practice again.

He continued practicing, spring turned to summer, and he advanced his skills a little further. Yang Guo was naturally gifted, and he worked tirelessly, his palm skills kept on improving, by mid autumn, he had mastered this set of “Force of Nets Above and Snares Below”. When he used the palm skills he was now able to keep the eight-one sparrows under his control. However, because his internal energy wasn’t refined enough, there were times where there were gaps in his stances and he allowed the birds to escape and so he wasn’t able to do it all in one go.

That day Xiao Longnu said, “Now that you’ve completed this set of palms, when you meet that fat Taoist you’ll be able to trip him up a few times without using any effort.”

Yang Guo said, “What if I fight with Zhao Zhijing?”

Xiao Longnu didn’t reply and thought, “When Zhao Zhijing fought Grandma Sun, if he wasn’t poisoned, Grandma Sun may not have won. At the moment, your skills can not compare with his.”

Yang Guo knew what she was thinking when she didn’t reply and said, “It doesn’t matter if I can’t beat him now, in a few years I’ll be able to beat him. Gu Gu, our Ancient Tomb sect’s skills are better that Quanzhen’s, aren’t they?”

Xiao Longnu looked up at the ceiling and said, “On this earth, only you and I believe that. When I fought with that Quanzhen Taoist named Qiu, I couldn’t beat him, but this isn’t because our Ancient Tomb’s skills cannot compete with Quanzhen’s, it’s because I have yet to complete our sect’s most refined kung fu.”

Yang Guo had believed all along that Xiao Longnu’s skills exceeded Qiu Chuji’s, when he heard about this he was curious and said, “Gu Gu, what is this skill? Is it hard to learn? Why don’t you practice it again?”

Xiao Longnu said, “I’ll tell you a story, then you’ll understand our sect’s origins. Before you kowtowed to me as your Master, you also kowtowed to our Ancestor. Her surname was Lin, her first names Chaoying, years ago; the two most skilled fighters were our Ancestor and Wang Chongyang. Originally, it was hard to decide who was better, later on Wang Chongyang was busy fighting the Jin, he was occupied night and day; our Ancestor concentrated on her martial arts and eventually became a level higher than him. But our Ancestor did not meddle in the affairs of Wulin, she didn’t like showing off, and so hardly anyone in the world of Jianghu knew who she was. Eventually, Wang Chongyang failed in his quest to repel the Jin and resided in the Tomb of the Living Dead; he had nothing to do and refined his martial arts. Our Ancestor wasn’t feeling well, and had two serious illnesses, so by the time Wang Chongyang left the tomb our Ancestor was below him again. Eventually the two dueled and made a bet, Wang Chongyang admitted defeat to our Ancestor, and gave the tomb to her. Come, I’ll show the things that the two left behind.”

Yang Guo clapped and said, “So this stone tomb was taken out of Wang Chongyang’s hands by our Ancestor Grandma. If I had known earlier, I would have been even more pleased with living in the tomb.”

Xiao Longnu smiled slightly, and took him to another chamber. Yang Guo saw that the room was extremely strange, it was narrow at the front and wide at the back, the east side was a semi circle, the west side was triangular, and he asked, “Gu Gu, why is this room so strange looking?”

Xiao Longnu said, “This is the room where Wang Chongyang refined his skills, at the front he practiced his palms, at the back he practiced his fists, at the east side he practiced with swords and the west side he practiced projectiles.”

Yang Guo looked around the room but didn’t find anything special about it.

Xiao Longnu stretched out her hand and pointed upwards and said, “The essence and core of Wang Chongyang’s skills is up here.”

Yang Guo looked up, but all he saw were some markings and scribbles, they were made by projectiles, some were deep and some were shallow, how could you pick up the essence from that?

Xiao Longnu went over to the east side and pushed an arc a few times, a large stone slowly moved across, revealing a door. She held a wax candle and told Yang Guo to enter. It was another room. It looked like the previous room but it was the complete opposite. The front was wide and the back was narrow, the west side was round and the east triangular. Yang Guo looked up, and again the ceiling was marked in carvings and symbols.

Xiao Longnu said, “Those are the kung fu left by our Ancestor. She used her intelligence to win the tomb, had she used her martial arts, she would have lost to Wang Chongyang. After she moved into the tomb, she discovered the martial arts skills left by Wang Chongyang. Then she painstakingly developed a set of skills to counter all the skills left by Wang Chongyang. It’s all marked down here.”

Yang Guo was delighted and said, “That’s great. Even if Qiu Chuji, Hao Datong and the rest of them have high skills, they could not be better than Wang Chongyang. All you’ve got to do is practice the skills left by our Ancestor and you’ll be able to beat all the Taoists.”

Xiao Longnu said, “You are correct, but it’s a pity that there isn’t anyone to help me.”

Yang Guo said, “I’ll help you.”

Xiao Longnu glanced at him and said, “It’s a pity that your skills aren’t good enough.” Yang Guo blushed and was embarrassed.

Xiao Longnu said, “The skill that Ancestor Grandma left is called the “Jade Heart Manual”, it requires two people to practice it, mutually helping each other. Back then, Ancestor Grandma practiced it with my teacher. Ancestor Grandma had not practiced for long before she passed away, my master did not complete it.”

Yang Guo suddenly became delighted again and said, “I’m your disciple, we could learn it together.”

Xiao Longnu said, “Yes! Let’s take a look. The first step, you have to learn our sect’s skills. The second step is to learn the skills of Quanzhen sect. The third step is to learn the skill that counters Quanzhen sect’s skills, the “Jade Heart Manual”. When my master passed away, I was fourteen years old. I have learned all our sect’s skills, and had just started to practice Quanzhen’s martial arts; there is no need to talk about the “Jade Heart Manual”. The first step I can teach you, the second and third steps we’ll study and practice together.”

From that day on, Xiao Longnu passed on all the martial arts of the Ancient Tomb sect to him; palm skills, fist techniques, projectile throwing and weapon stances. After two years, Yang Guo learned it all, plus with the help of the Chilled Jade Bed, his progress was amazing, but his internal energy was not developed as much. A woman developed the Ancient Tomb sect’s skills, and the three generations have been women, it was unavoidable that the skills were of a soft nature, the hardness was inadequate. Yang Guo was impatient and rash; the way his skills developed reflected this.

Xiao Longnu had grown slightly older, and became even more beautiful. That year, Yang Guo was sixteen, he became taller, his voice broke, and was now a teenager. He was completely different from boy that first entered the tomb, but Xiao Longnu still looked upon him as the child that first came here. Yang Guo was becoming more and more respectful of his master. In these two years he had curbed his rebellious nature. Before Xiao Longnu opened her mouth to tell him what to do, he had already completed it. But Xiao Longnu’s cold and emotionless persona did not change, she didn’t casually smile at him, she was detached, she did not show any sign of caring for a loved one. Yang Guo did not mind though. Sometimes Xiao Longnu would play the zither, the music from it was peaceful and serene. Yang Guo would listen quietly by her side.

One day Xiao Longnu said, “You have already learned all of the Ancient Tomb’s kung fu, tomorrow we’ll learn Quanzhen’s kung fu. It will not be easy, back then, even my master did not understand it all, and I of course understood even less. We’ll learn from the beginning again, feel free to comment whenever you like.”

The next day, the two of them went to the strange shaped room, and practiced according to the markings and symbols that Wang Chongyang left. Because Yang Guo’s foundation was now strong, he was able to understand most of the points, and made rapid progress. But after the first ten days, though he practiced for many days instead of making progress he felt that he was going backwards, the more he practiced the worse it got. Xiao Longnu and he discussed this, and both felt there were some difficulties. Yang Guo was impatient and got in a blue mood.

Xiao Longnu said, “When my master and I learned Quanzhen’s kung fu, after practicing for a while, we found it was difficult to make any sort of progress, and because Ancestor Grandma had passed away, we could not ask anyone. We didn’t know the formulae to accompany it, and so we couldn’t solve this problem. I once wanted to go and steal the formula from Quanzhen, and give it to master to study. This is all there is of this skill, it’s only Quanzhen’s skills, it’s not too important if we can’t learn it now. There is no need to be angry, there is a solution, all we got to do is go and capture a Quanzhen Taoist and force the formulae out of him, and then our problems will be solved. Let’s leave.”

These words suddenly awakened something in Yang Guo, and he remembered that Zhao Zhijing had taught him ‘The Quanzhen Taoist Song’. ‘When first practicing one must open the nine openings. The first originating from the back (wei luu) pressure point. First the spring flows from the bottom of the feet to the knee. Past the knee up to the back, the back’s intent quickly reaching the peak. The Gold Lock passes under the Magpie Bridge, twelve palaces topple as it goes.” He then recited those words out loud.

Xiao Longnu listened to the meaning of the song and said, “It does sound like the important aspects of practicing Quanzhen’s kung fu. If you know more, that’ll be good.” So Yang Guo recited all the formulae that Zhao Zhijing had taught him. The formulae that Zhao Zhijing had taught him was the basics of Quanzhen’s advanced internal energy cultivation, but because he wasn’t taught how to use it, the ‘spring flows’, ‘twelve palaces’ and ‘backs intent’ were all words to him and he didn’t understand, so he just remembered it and didn’t use it.

Xiao Longnu was more experienced and pointed out the key points, and then Yang Guo understood immediately. Within a few months, the two managed to understand and grasp the essence of the skills that Wang Chongyang left on the ceiling.

One day, the two were in the room sparring with swords when Xiao Longnu sighed and said, “At first when I heard that Quanzhen’s martial arts were the most orthodox in the world, I didn’t think too much of it, but today, I know now Quanzhen’s kung fu is actually very profound. Although we have grasped the essence of these skills, if we wanted to learn it to a state where body and mind becomes one, I don’t know how many years and months it is going to take.”

Yang Guo said, “Although the skills of Quanzhen sect are refined, Ancestor Grandma did leave a way to counter their skills, the ability to beat them. That’s called each mountain has its own peak.”

Xiao Longnu said, “From tomorrow onwards, we will learn the “Jade Heart Manual”.

The next day, the two went to the second strange room, and practiced according to the markings left on the ceiling. It was much easier to learn than Quanzhen’s skills, since the techniques were used to counter Wang Chongyang’s and originated from her own kung fu. A few months passed, and the two had learned the external skills of the “Jade Heart Manual”. Sometimes, Yang Guo would use Quanzhen Sword skills; Xiao Longnu would then use the Jade Sword skills to counter it. When Xiao Longnu used Quanzhen Sword techniques, he would use the Jade Sword techniques to neutralize it. The Jade Sword technique was indeed the Black Star (the neutralizing opposite) to Quanzhen’s Sword techniques, every stance was designed to stop the attack of Quanzhen’s Sword techniques, every step matched the other, every move restricted the opponent and predicted their next move, no matter what the user of Quanzhen Sword skills did, it could not break the confinement of the Jade Sword technique.

The external skills had now been learned; it was time to advance into learning the internal techniques. Quanzhen’s internal energies were deep and profound, to invent a method to defeat Quanzhen’s internal energies, how easy could that be?

Lin Chaoying’s intelligence was unbeatable; she actually did find a way using unorthodox techniques. Xiao Longnu raised her head and looked at the symbols on the ceilings, she was deep in thought and didn’t speak; she looked at it for days on end without saying a single word.

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu, is it hard to learn?”

Xiao Longnu said, “I heard from master that the manual’s internal energy requires two people to practice at the same time, but I know I will not be able to practice it with you.”

Yang Guo was shocked and quickly said, “Why not?”

Xiao Longnu said, “If you were a girl, then we could.”

Yang Guo said, “What is the difference? Aren’t a boy and girl the same?”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “No, not the same; look up at the ceiling, what kind of shapes are they?”

Yang Guo looked in the direction she pointed, and saw the ceiling was marked with countless forms of body shapes, there were about seventy or eighty of them, a closer look revealed that they were the shape of women, the bodies had lines going away from them. Yang Guo didn’t understand and turned around to look at Xiao Longnu.

Xiao Longnu said, “The manual states, when practicing the whole body will emit heat, a spacious and deserted place is required; the body will need to be free of clothes to practice, this will enable the heat to disperse immediately. There mustn’t be any obstructions, otherwise it will return to the body; a small consequence will be a serious illness, at worst the body will be destroyed.”

Yang Guo said, “We’ll take off our clothes to practice.”

Xiao Long said, “Eventually, the two people will need to use their internal energy to protect the other, you are a boy and I am a girl, how can we do that with decency?”

Yang Guo had concentrated on practicing his kung fu for the last two years, and didn’t take any notice of the difference in sex between him and his master. He felt there was nothing wrong with taking off their clothes and facing each other to practice the manual; he couldn’t see what exactly was wrong with this. Xiao Longnu was now twenty years old and has lived in the tomb ever since she was small; she didn’t know anything about the outside world. One of the important points of her sect’s kung fu is to purge your emotions. Although the two were of different sexes and faced each other night and day, one was cold and emotionless, the other was honest and respectful, so there weren’t any formalities between them. But now when they were talking about taking their clothes off to practice, she felt awkward and didn’t agree with his viewpoint.

Yang Guo suddenly said, “I’ve got it! We could practice on the Chilled Jade Bed.”

Xiao Longnu said, “We mustn’t. The heat will be drawn back by the coolness of the bed, after practicing for a few days, we both would be dead.”

Yang Guo thought for half an hour and asked, “Why do you need two people to practice it? We could practice it by ourselves, if I don’t understand anything, can’t I ask you later?”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “It won’t work. With this type of internal energy, every step is extremely dangerous and you will go wrong at certain points. If there isn’t anyone to help you, you will fire deviate; only if we mutually aid each other can we pass the dangerous phases.”

Yang Guo said, “Learning this type of internal energy is indeed troublesome.”

Xiao Longnu said, “If we master the external techniques, we will be able to beat the Taoists. We aren’t really going to fight with the Taoists, so even if we can’t beat them, so what?”

Yang Guo heard his master’s words and agreed, and didn’t keep the matter to heart.

One day after finishing practicing his kung fu, he went out of the tomb to forage for food. After a while, he chased after a grey rabbit; the rabbit dodged west and darted east, its agility was not like a normal rabbit’s. Yang Guo’s lightness kung fu was proficient, but he couldn’t catch it. He was surprised but he didn’t want to use a projectile to hit it; he wanted to chase after it with his lightness kung fu until the rabbit couldn’t run anymore. The boy and rabbit ran faster and further away. As they went on, the rabbit turned into a treed enclosure in the mountain, and suddenly darted into a thicket of red flowers. The thickets were tens of feet wide, the layers close together; a fragrant scent was produced from them. He went around the thickets, but the rabbit had long disappeared. Yang Guo had chased the rabbit for half a day; but he liked living things, if he had caught up with it he would have let it go, so if he didn’t catch it, it didn’t matter. Yang Guo looked at the thickets; they had red flowers and green branches, and were beautiful to look at. Surrounding them were low hanging branches that hid them, forming a natural room made of flowers and a house made of trees. Yang Guo thought for while, and quickly hurried back and got Xiao Longnu to take a look.

Xiao Longnu calmly said, “I don’t like flowers, if you like it, you can play here.”

Yang Guo said, “No, Gu Gu this is a good place to practice martial arts, you go on one side, I’ll be on the other. When we take off our clothes, we won’t be able to see each other. Isn’t that a good idea?”

Xiao Longnu heard this and thought it made sense. She leaped up onto a tree and looked around, all she could hear was the sound of a spring flowing and birds chirping; it was peaceful and serene all around, and there wasn’t any trace of human activity. It was a good place to practice martial arts, and so she said, “It was lucky that you found this place, we’ll come here tonight and practice.”

That night, the two of them delved deep into the enclosure. In the still of the night, the flowers were even more fragrant. Xiao Longnu then recited the formulae to practice the internal energy of the “Jade Heart Manual”. Yang Guo made sure he understood the intricacies of the manual, and the two went either side of the thickets and took their clothes off, and started practicing. Yang Guo’s left arm went through the thicket, and met with Xiao Longnu’s right palm, if either came up with difficulties during the practice; the other will notice and immediately circulate their chi to help them.

The two then used the night for work, and the day for rest. It was summer; the night was cool when they practiced; after two months of practicing there were no problems. The “Jade Heart Manual” was divided into nine sections, one night, Xiao long Nu had reached the seventh level, and Yang Guo the sixth. That night, the two were practicing their own levels, their body emitted great heat, and the scent of the flowers was carried in the heat, and was even more aromatic. Gradually the moon moved into the middle of the sky, another half an hour and the two will have finished completing their respective levels. Suddenly the sound of footsteps and people talking came from some distance away; two people were talking and coming closer.

On the odd levels of the “Jade Heart Manual” the practitioner has to ‘Yin Jin’ (forcing yin to the limit), the person on the even levels has to ‘Yang Tui’ (Drawing back the yang). Yang Guo was practicing the ‘Yang Tui’ techniques, and could rest at any time, but Xiao Longnu was practicing the ‘Yin Jin’ technique, which had to be completed in one go without the slightest pause. Right now she was at the most important phase of the technique, and ignored the sounds of speaking and footsteps.

Yang Guo heard this clearly, he was alarmed, and forced the chi that was in his ‘dan tian’ out of his body, and breathed in three times and stopped practicing. He heard the two people gradually getting closer, their voices seemed familiar; one of them was his previous master Zhao Zhijing, the other Yin Zhiping. The voices became louder as they went on, the two were arguing.

He heard Zhao Zhijing say, “Apprentice brother Yin, there is no point in denying it. I’ll go and tell Martial Uncle Qiu, and let him judge.”

Yin Zhiping said, “You keep on pressing me, what do you want? You think I don’t know? You want to become the head of the third generation students, so in the future you can become the sect’s leader.”

Zhao Zhijing chuckled and said, “You don’t keep to the rules. Now that you’ve broken one of sect’s rules, how can you be the head of the third generation disciples?”

Yin Zhiping said, “What have I done wrong?”

Zhao Zhijing scolded, “The fourth rule of Quanzhen sect, wanton!”

Yang Guo hid in the thicket and peeped out, and saw the two Taoists standing facing each other. Yin Zhiping’s face was pale, under the moonlight it was colorless, and he said deeply, “What wanton crime?” As he said these words he reached for the handle of his sword.

Zhao Zhijing said, “Ever since you saw that Xiao Longnu from the Tomb of the Living Dead, you daydream all the time. You have thought about taking Xiao Longnu many, many times and doing unspeakable things to her. Our sect aims to bring enlightenment, but with these thoughts, how have you not broken the ‘wanton’ rule?”

Yang Guo respected his master very much, when he heard those words from Zhao Zhijing, he was furious, and hated the two Taoists even more.

He heard Yin Zhiping tremulously saying, “What rubbish; just how could you know what I think?”

Zhao Zhijing chuckled and said, “The thoughts in your heart, of course I don’t know them, but when you mumble in your sleep, is there anyone to hear it? When you write Xiao Longnu’s name repeatedly, is there anyone to see it?”

Yin Zhiping shuddered twice, and didn’t say anything.

Zhao Zhijing looked smug, and took out a piece of paper from his sleeve and waved it around and said, “Isn’t this your handwriting? I’ll show this to our leader Martial Uncle Ma and your master Martial Uncle Qiu.”

Yin Zhiping couldn’t endure this anymore, and drew out his sword with a shout and thrust out. Zhao Zhijing leaned to the side to avoid it, and put the piece of paper in his sleeve and laughed, “You want to kill me and shut my mouth? I’m afraid it won’t be easy.”

Yin Zhiping didn’t say a word and thrust out his sword three times, but each thrust was avoided. By the fourth thrust, a sound was made as Zhao Zhijing drew out his own sword, and fought with him by the thicket of red flowers. The two of them were the highest skilled fighters of Quanzhen’s third generation, one, Yin Zhiping, was Qiu Chuji’s finest disciple, and the other, Zhao Zhijing, was the head disciple of Wang Chuyi. Yin Zhiping clenched his teeth and fought with his life, within the exchange of moves, Zhao Zhijing would say a few sarcastic words, angering his opponent into making mistakes. Yin Zhiping had the highest martial arts amongst Qiu Chuji’s disciples, however in the recent years Yin Zhiping has placed Taoist cultivation above martial arts. Hence, his younger martial arts brother Yin Zhiping and Wang Chuyi’s head disciple, Zhao Zhijing, have surpassed Yin Zhiping in the field of martial arts. Yin Zhiping often retreated to contemplate Taoist philosophies and meditation and had expressed no interest in leadership. Zhao Zhijing had the highest martial arts of the entire third generation disciples. The Six Masters of Quanzhen intended to appoint him as the leading disciple of the third generation. However, he made two enormous errors; one was leading the Big Dipper Formation against Guo Jing instead of Huo Du and his men. As result a portion of the Chongyang Palace was burnt down. His second error was mistreating Yang Guo, which angered the six masters. As result they felt that Zhao Zhijing’s martial arts may be good, but he does not have the talent to lead. So after much deliberating the Six Masters agreed to appoint Yin Zhiping as the leading disciple of the third generation.

Yang Guo had learned all the stances of Quanzhen’s Sword skills, and saw them fight, attacking and defending, though the stances were quick and changes numerous, he saw through all of it and thought how his Gu Gu had indeed taught him correctly. He saw them struggle for tens of stances; Yin Zhiping had used all his attacking stances as Zhao Zhijing kept on moving. He chuckled, “I have learned all that you have learned, and you have learned all that I have learned. You want to kill me? You’re dreaming.” He defended smoothly, Yin Zhiping had used all his strength but each stance was blocked. After a while, he saw that the two was getting closer to Xiao Longnu, Yang Guo was alarmed and thought, “If they two fight until they get to Gu Gu, it would be terrible!”

Suddenly Zhao Zhijing counterattacked, and forced Yin Zhiping back. He quickly sent out three stances, Yin Zhiping moved back three steps. When Yang Guo saw the two getting further away from his master, he was pleased, but suddenly Yin Zhiping handed his sword over to his left hand and sent out a palm, aiming for the chest.

Zhao Zhijing laughed and said, “Even if you’ve got three hands, you’ve only got the ability to be a petty thief, you can’t kill me.” He then sent out his left palm to meet it. The two exchanged sword stances and palms, and the struggle became fiercer.

Xiao Longnu was concentrating, and ignored everything that was around her. When the two took a few steps closer, Yang Guo became worried; when they took a few steps further away he relaxed a bit.

After a while, Yin Zhiping suddenly called out and attacked, he ignored the opponent’s sword and just rushed forward. Zhao Zhijing thought about it, and knew that he had nothing to lose, if he killed him, then he wouldn’t be able to blackmail him. Although the two weren’t on friendly terms, he had no intent in killing him, and after a while, he was on the way to losing. After a number of moves, Yin Zhiping then thrust out his sword, threw out a palm and his left leg swept out, it was Quanzhen’s “Three Circulations”. Zhao Zhijing leapt up ten feet, and swung his sword down. Yin Zhiping threw his sword away, and threw himself at his opponent, a ‘hei’ sound was made by him as he threw out his two palms. Yang Guo saw that the last few stances were ruthless, it wasn’t how he knew them to be, he broke out in a cold sweat, he saw Zhao Zhijing’s body in midair, one was yielding, one was firm, it looked like the two palms were aiming to break his bones. How it could be that in this urgent and dangerous situation, Zhao Zhijing managed to flip himself in midair, fly back a few meters and lightly land.

From the way he was going to land, it looked like he was going to land right in front of Xiao Longnu, Yang Guo was alarmed and had not time to think, he stood up, his left palm shot out from below his right palm, and pushed the back of Zhao Zhijing, a stance of “Bright Building Flinging the Ball” (cai lou pao qiu), he pushed out with strength, and hit him away about seven meters. Right now his internal energy wasn’t developed enough, he had used an enormous amount of strength in this attack, all concentrated in his left arm, his lower body was weak, he could not stand up properly and his left foot stepped on a branch. The branch quickly rebounded back to its original position, and touched Xiao Longnu in the face. It was only a slight touch, but Xiao Longnu was greatly disturbed, she broke out in a sweat, at that time she was in the middle of rapidly circulating her chi and holding it in her ‘dan tian’, it didn’t disperse and she fainted.

All of a sudden Yin Zhiping saw Yang Guo jump out, and saw the woman he has been thinking about hiding in the thicket, he froze, and didn’t know whether this was real or an illusion. Zhao Zhijing had steadied himself by this time, and under the moonlight he was able to recognize Xiao Longnu’s face. He said, “Ah, so she’s here; and with a man!”

Yang Guo was alarmed and shouted out, “Don’t go anywhere you two rotten Taoists, I’ll come back and finish this.” He saw Xiao Longnu had fallen onto the ground and was not moving. He remembered that he was told that when they were practicing they must stay together to help each other, if there where any disturbances a disaster would happen. Now Xiao Longnu had experienced a shock, she would have serious injuries; he was extremely frightened and touched her forehead. It was cold as ice; he quickly grabbed her clothes and covered her up. He picked her up and said, “Gu Gu, are you alright?” Xiao Longnu moaned but didn’t say anything.

Yang Guo was slightly more relaxed and said, “Gu Gu, we’ll go back to the tomb first, then I’ll come back and kill the two Taoists.” Xiao Longnu had no strength and lay limp in his arms. Yang Guo advanced in large steps, and went past the two Taoists. Yin Zhiping stood there like a statue.

Zhao Zhijing laughed and said, “Apprentice brother Yin, your dream lover and that man over there have just done dirty things; you want to kill me, you should kill him!” Yin Zhiping didn’t take any notice and didn’t reply.

Yang Guo heard the words ‘done dirty things’, although he didn’t know exactly what he meant, he knew it was an insult and he was furious. He lightly put Xiao Longnu down and rested her against a tree and took a branch in his hand, and pointed to Zhao Zhijing and shouted, “What rubbish are you talking about?”

Two years had passed, Yang Guo had changed from a small child to a tall young man, at first Zhao Zhijing didn’t know who he was, when he heard him a second time and saw his face under the moonlight, he recognized it was his disciple. He had been made to fall by him and was angry, he saw his body was exposed and shouted, “Yang Guo, so it’s you, you little bastard!”

Yang Guo said, “You can insult me, but why are you insulting my Gu Gu?”

Zhao Zhijing laughed and said, “Everyone knows the Ancient Tomb sect is a female sect, skills are only passed on to women and not men, all of them are pure and untouched virgins, but it’s a filthy sect, secretly hiding a man, doing these things in the open!”

Xiao Longnu had just wakened up and heard what he said, and was alarmed. Her chi had begun to flow normally but now it flowed the opposite way, her chi and air were both stimulated and she knew that she was suffering from internal injuries. She could only shout “You talk rubbish, we have not…” before she spat out blood violently from her mouth.

Yin Zhiping and Yang Guo were worried when they saw this, and both of them rushed closer.

Yin Zhiping said, “How are you?” and bent down to take a closer look at her injuries.

Yang Guo knew that he wanted to harm her and pushed him in the chest with his left hand. Yin Zhiping moved his palm to block it. Yang Guo was familiar with every stance of Quanzhen’s kung fu, he turned his palm over and grabbed his wrist, he first pulled and then let go, and tossed him away.

At present, Yang Guo’s kung fu could not actually compare with that of Yin Zhiping, and if Yang Guo fought with other sect’s fighters who were of the same ability as Yin Zhiping he would definitely have lost. But years ago Lin Chaoying had invented techniques to counter Quanzhen’s, every stance matched every stance. Since she invented these techniques they had never been used in practice, so Quanzhen’s disciples do not know that there is a kung fu which is the ‘Black Star’ of theirs. Yang Guo now used it. Yin Zhiping was not prepared and wasn’t concentrating, and didn’t have any way to respond; although he didn’t fall, he was flung over six meters and was standing next to Zhao Zhijing.

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu, ignore them, I’ll take you back to the tomb first.”

Xiao Longnu struggled for air as she said, “No; kill those two so they can’t…can’t talk about me outside.”

Yang Guo said, “Fine.” He leapt out at them, his branch pointing at Zhao Zhijing’s chest. Zhao Zhijing didn’t care about Yang Guo and waved his sword, cutting down at his branch. He didn’t know that Yang Guo was using the ‘Black Star’ of Quanzhen’s sword skills; the branch swiveled past and struck the pressure point on Zhao Zhijing’s wrist. Zhao Zhijing’s wrist went numb, and he secretly cursed. Yang Guo’s left hand chopped across, aiming for his left cheek, this was an extremely strange move, and it was the most unexpected. If Zhao Zhijing wanted to keep his sword, he would have to straighten his head and suffer the chop, if he wanted to avoid the chop, the sword will definitely be lost.

Zhao Zhijing was skilled, although he was in a precarious situation he kept calm, he let go of his sword and ducked his head, if he followed it with a left palm, he will be able to get his sword back in the blink of an eye. He could not have guessed that years ago Lin Chaoying had thought of how the enemy would react, and developed techniques to counter any changes, no matter how good, clever or lethal, any of highly skilled Quanzhen fighters were. Zhao Zhijing felt that he made the best decision possible, and would allow him to definitely gain victory from the jaws of defeat. But he didn’t know that Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo had learned all the techniques that would counter their changes.

Yang Guo removed the enemy’s weapon and saw his left palm move, and knew what he was going to do; he pushed the sword forward, aiming to pierce the opponent’s wrist. Zhao Zhijing was alarmed and quickly moved his arm back. Yang Guo pointed the sword tip at his chest and shouted, “Get down!” as his left leg hooked out. Zhao Zhijing was afraid of being pierced and had to move, he was hooked and fell backwards. Yang Guo raised the sword, wanting to thrust at his stomach.

Suddenly, a wind came from behind him, a sword was approaching and someone shouted out, “You dare to kill your master?” That stance was to attack first and then allow him to rescue Zhao Zhijing, Yang Guo was in the middle of an angry attack but could still see what was happening, and he immediately parried it with his sword, the two swords clashed. Yin Zhiping saw that the sword was extremely fast and couldn’t help from secretly praising it, and suddenly felt his sword going out of his control, sticking to the opponent’s sword. Alarmed, he quickly circulated his chi to get it back. His internal energy was profound, the two competed, and Yang Guo’s sword was lead along. He didn’t know that Yang Guo lured him into doing this, he held the sword for a split second before letting go, his arms straightened and he attacked the enemy’s chest. At that point the sword handle rebounded up, two palms and a sword, the three of them with the same intent, even if Yin Zhiping’s skills were higher, he would not be able to block this extremely strange attack.

At this time, Yin Zhiping could only throw away his sword and send out his own palms, he quickly put his hands across his chest to block this move, but because his arms were too bent, he could not put any strength in them. Yang Guo’s internal energy wasn’t high enough and wasn’t able to break his arms with this move, but was still able to strike his chest painfully. Yin Zhiping’s arms became numb; he moved back three steps and circulated his chi to protect the important pressure points in his chest. Zhao Zhijing got up. The two swords were in Yang Guo’s hand, and he attacked both of them.

In just a few moves, the two of them were made to hurry around and scamper by a teenager; they were both afraid and angry and didn’t dare be careless. The two of them stood up, and used their palms skills; they only defended and didn’t attack. They wanted to find out more about their opponent’s techniques before doing anything. Although Yang Guo had weapons to fight against his empty handed opponents, the two defended tightly, and weren’t being beaten as badly as they were at the start. The “Jade Heart Manual’s” sword techniques did not have any stances that countered Quanzhen’s fists and kicks. Lin Chaoying wanted to defeat Wang Chongyang’s techniques completely, she felt that using weapons to defeat his hand to hand combat techniques was unfair and below her so she did not give it any thought. That, plus the fact that the Taoists internal energy was well above Yang Guo’s, and since all they cared about was to remain undefeated, Yang Guo’s swipes and chops did not have much effect, and eventually he began to lose.

Zhao Zhijing’s internal energy was profound; he kept incessantly producing palm winds that aimed at Yang Guo’s sword.

Yin Zhiping stopped, and secretly thought that here they were, two seniors attacking a young boy, how ridiculous did they look? He saw that victory was in sight but worried about the safety of Xiao Longnu so he shouted, “Yang Guo, quickly take your Gu Gu away, what are you doing tangling with the two of us?”

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu hates you for talking rubbish, and told me that I must kill you.”

Yin Zhiping sent out a palm that shook Yang Guo’s sword in his left hand and then jumped left three steps and said, “Leave!”

Yang Guo said, “You want to escape?”

Yin Zhiping said, “Yang Guo, you want to kill us but that will not be possible; but your Gu Gu can relax, if the one named Yin reveals a single word about what happened today, I will immediately kill myself to apologize. If I don’t do this” as he said this, he suddenly leapt towards Yang Guo and took the sword in his left hand and said, “then I’ll be like these fingers!” He spread his left hand and cut down with his right, and cut the last two fingers off his hand.

Those few moves happened extremely quickly and Yang Guo wasn’t prepared. He stopped and knew that he was sincere and thought, “It is indeed difficult to kill them both; why don’t I first kill the one named Zhao and then come back and kill him.”

He then shouted, “The one called Yin, what use is cutting off your fingers? If you cut off your head, then I’ll believe you.”

Yin Zhiping smiled and said, “If you want my life, all I need is a word from your Gu Gu, then why not?”

Yang Guo said, “Go!” He leapt forward two steps and suddenly thrust out behind him, straight at Zhao Zhijing’s chest.

The move “Orchid Shoots Back” (mu lan hui she) was extremely ruthless, Zhao Zhijing was listening to what they were saying and never thought that he would suddenly ambush him, he was frightened. The tip of the sword pierced his stomach. Zhao Zhijing felt a slight pain, and immediately circulated his chi throughout his ‘dan tian’, and his stomach pulled back half an inch, he raised his right leg and kicked Yang Guo’s sword out of his hand. Yang Guo didn’t wait for his leg to come and down, and extended his finger and pointed at the pressure point on his knee. Although Zhao Zhijing had escaped with his life, he couldn’t stand up, his right knee kneeling down in front of Yang Guo.

Yang Guo caught the descending sword and pointed at Zhao Zhijing and said, “I once kowtowed eight times to you as you were my master, now you are not my master anymore, give the eight kowtows back.”

Zhao Zhijing had completed circulating his chi, his face became purple, almost becoming black. Yang Guo pressed the sword tip into his throat.

Zhao Zhijing shouted, “If you want to kill me, kill me, why are you talking so much?”

Yang Guo was about to thrust the sword forward when suddenly he heard Xiao Longnu say, “Guo’Er, killing your master is not auspicious, tell him to swear that he won’t reveal today’s events and let him go!” Yang Guo regarded Xiao Longnu’s commands above all else, and after hearing what she said, he said, “Swear it.”

Zhao Zhijing was angry, but his life was more important and said, “I won’t say anything, what need is there to swear it?”

Yang Guo said, “That won’t do. You must swear a venomous oath.”

Zhao Zhijing said, “Fine, today’s events will be kept between the four of us, if I reveal it to a fifth person, then let my name be in ruins, be expelled from my sect, everyone in Wulin will be against me, and I’ll have a terrible death.”

Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo did not know much about the world’s matters and thought that he was really swearing a venomous oath.”

Yin Zhiping heard that there was a hidden meaning in his oath and wanted to warn Yang Guo but felt that it wasn’t right to help outsiders; he watched Yang Guo carrying Xiao Longnu, his steps extremely quick, and they disappeared around a bend in the mountain. His fingers hadn’t stopped bleeding; he stood up bemused without stopping it.

Yang Guo carried Xiao Longnu back to the tomb and placed her on the Chilled Jade Bed.

Xiao Longnu sighed and said, “I’m seriously injured, how can I oppose the Chilled Jade Bed?”

Yang Guo said ‘ah’ and was alarmed, he secretly thought, “So Gu Gu’s injury is very serious.” He then carried her to her room. When she first let Yang Guo sleep on the Chilled Jade Bed, she slept in the same room as him; after about a year she moved into the next room. As soon as she arrived in her room, she spat out another pool of blood, and covered Yang Guo’s exposed body. Yang Guo was so frightened that he couldn’t move his arms and legs, and started to cry.

Xiao Longnu calmly laughed and said, “Now that I’ve spat out this blood, I won’t throw up anymore, what is there to be sad about?”

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu, don’t die.”

Xiao Longnu said, “You are afraid of dying aren’t you?”

Yang Guo was startled and said, “Me?”

Xiao Longnu said, “Before I die, I will kill you first.”

These same words were spoken two years ago, Yang Guo had forgotten them long ago, and didn’t expect that she would bring it up again now.

Xiao Longnu saw that Yang Guo was astounded and said, “If I don’t kill you, how will I be able to see Grandma Sun? Who will look after you if you are alone in the world?”

Yang Guo’s mind was scrambled, and didn’t know what to say.

Xiao Longnu had thrown up blood, but she looked fine as if nothing was wrong. Yang Guo thought of something, he quickly went to find a jar of Jade Bee honey and gave it to her to drink. The honey did have healing properties; after a while she slept on her bed. Yang Guo was able to relax, but he was worn down with worry, and wasn’t able to endure anymore, he sat down and slept against the wall.

After some time, he felt someone cold against his throat, and was awakened. He has lived for a long time in the tomb, although he wasn’t able to see things in the dark as clearly as Xiao Longnu could, he could still see things without the aid of candlelight. He opened his eyes, and saw Xiao Longnu sitting forward on the bed holding a sword, pointing at his throat. He was alarmed and said, “Gu Gu! You…”

Xiao Longnu calmly said, “Guo’Er, my injury won’t get better, after I kill you we’ll both see Grandma Sun together!”

Yang Guo quickly replied, “Gu Gu!”

Xiao Longnu said, “You are afraid, aren’t you? It will be quick, one slash and that’s it.”

Yang Guo saw Xiao Longnu’s eyes light up, and knew that she wanted to kill him immediately. He wanted to live, and didn’t consider what will happen later, he rolled around and kicked out at Xiao Longnu’s sword. Though Xiao Longnu’s internal injuries were serious, she was still very swift, not slower than normal; she avoided his kick and pointed the sword at his throat again. Yang Guo used many different stances, but each one of them had been taught by Xiao Longnu so how would she not know what he would do? The sword moved swiftly, not leaving him by more than three inches.

Yang Guo was frightened; his body was covered with sweat. He thought, “If I don’t want to die today, then I must kill Gu Gu.”

In this urgent situation he pushed out his two palms, he took advantage of her not having any strength after her injury, her stances were refined but she did not have the internal energy to clash palms with him. Xiao Longnu knew what he was thinking, she slanted her body slightly and let his palms’ power skim over her shoulders and called out, “Guo’Er, don’t fight anymore!” Her sword extended out, the tip quivered a little, an incomparable stance in terms of mastery and exquisiteness was used, “Separating Flower Splitting Willow”, shimmering to the left but moving to the right, and the sword pointed at Yang Guo’s throat. She then circulated her remaining energy wanting to pierce his throat; but she saw his pleading eyes, and felt pain in her heart. At that instant, her eyes went blank, her body went limp, a ‘dang lang’ sound was made as the sword dropped to the floor, as Xiao Longnu fainted.

Had the sword been thrust forwards, Yang Guo would have died; he didn’t know that she would faint at the most vital point. He stopped, wondering if he’d really escaped death, and quickly ran out of the tomb. The sun dazzled in his eyes, the light breeze blew his clothes, the scent of flowers was around him, birds sang in the trees, isn’t this better than living in the tomb?

Yang Guo made his decision; he utilized his lightness kung fu and ran down the mountain, he became quicker as he ran, and by midday he was at the foot of the mountain. When he knew Xiao Longnu had not chased after him, he relaxed, and slowed his pace. After a while, his stomach growled. He had wandered the world of Jianghu ever since he was little; his ability to search for food was brilliant. He looked all around, and on the western slope, he saw a large field of corn, went over, and then picked five stalks. The corn wasn’t ripe but it was still edible. He had a match and was about to light a fire to smoke the corn, when he suddenly heard footsteps behind him, someone was approaching.

Yang Guo first hid the corn in case a farmer had caught him in the act of stealing, and then peaked out. It was a Taoist priestess, dressed in apricot yellow, her steps were light and she was slowly advancing. A pair of swords hung on her back, a blood red tassel was tied to the handles, floating in the breeze. Yang Guo thought that this person must be a member of the Quanzhen sect, and was likely to be a disciple of Sun Bu’Er. Yang Guo was still slightly afraid and didn’t want to cause any trouble so he looked down at a branch.

The Taoist priestess went up to him and asked, “Hey, point the way to Chongyang Palace?”

Yang Guo secretly thought, “If this girl is a disciple of Quanzhen, then how come she does not know the way up there? Something was wrong here.” He then pointed to the mountain without looking around and said, “Just follow that main road.”

The Taoist priestess saw that Yang Guo’s upper body was uncovered, he was wearing a pair of old and worn trousers, and was here picking up firewood, and assumed that he was just a villager. She regarded herself as an attractive woman; any man that looked at her would stare at her without blinking for half an hour. This young boy just took a glance at her and didn’t look back again, like if he was blind. She couldn’t refrain from getting angry and suddenly thought, “What does a stupid villager like him know?” She then said, “Stand up; I have something to ask you.”

Yang Guo hated everyone in the Quanzhen sect, so he pretended to be blind and dumb, and pretended not to hear.

The Taoist priestess said, “Foolish boy, you didn’t hear what I said?”

Yang Guo said, “I heard, it’s just that I don’t want to stand.”

When the Taoist priestess heard him she laughed and said, “Look at me, I told you to stand up!” Her voice in the last two sentences was soft, enchanting and sweet. Yang Guo shivered and thought, “Why does she speak so strangely.” He looked up and saw her skin was smooth and white, her cheeks were red, her eyes were like staring into a pool of water, there didn’t seem to be any evil intent; after looking at her again, he lowered his head.

The Taoist priestess saw that his expression had a childish air, though he did look at her for a second time, he wasn’t moved. Instead of being angry she laughed, and thought, “It’s just a kid who doesn’t know anything.” She took out two silver ingots [small boat/shoe shaped silver castings of a few ounces known as Yinzi] from her pockets, two ‘ting’ noises were heard as they collided with each other, she said, “Little brother, if you follow my instructions then I’ll give these ingots to you.”

Yang Guo originally didn’t want to have anything do with her, but he heard that her words were suspicious and wanted to find out what she wanted so he pretended to be stupid, and looked at the ingots and said, “What use do those shiny rocks have?”

The Taoist priestess smiled and said, “It’s money. If you want new clothes, chickens, rice, you could buy them with this.”

Yang Guo put on a baffled expression and said, “You want to lie to me, I don’t believe you.”

The Taoist priestess laughed and said, “When have I lied to you? Hey, little kid, what is your name?”

Yang Guo said, “Everyone calls me ‘Sha Dan’ (Dumb Egg), don’t you know that? What’s your name?”

The Taoist priestess laughed and said, “Sha Dan, you can call me Angelic Priestess, where’s your mother?”

Yang Guo said, “My mum just scolded me, and went over to the other side of the mountain to chop firewood.”

The Taoist priestess said, “I need a hatchet, go to your home and get one, and then lend it to me.”

Yang Guo was curious, he opened his eyes wide, drooled and made himself look even more like a stupid person, he shook his head incessantly and said, “I can’t; I can’t lend my family’s hatchet. If dad finds out I’ll be punished.”

The Taoist priestess smiled and said, “When your parents see the money, they’ll be too pleased to punish you.” As she said this she passed an ingot in his direction. Yang Guo extended his hand to catch it, and then pretended to miss it, and let the ingot hit his shoulder and when it came down it hit his right foot, he held his right foot with his hands and hopped on his left foot and called out, “Ah, ah, you hit me! I’m going to tell mother!” He called and shouted; he ignored the ingot and ran forward.

The Taoist priestess thought that he was interesting, and smiled. She took off her belt, and waved it at his right foot. Yang Guo heard the wind sound and turned his head around, he was alarmed, and thought, “That’s our Ancient Tomb sect’s kung fu! Isn’t she a disciple of Quanzhen?” He didn’t dodge and let her belt wrap around his right leg, he fell on the ground and relaxed his body, letting her pull him towards her, and secretly feared, “Is she going up the mountain to attack Gu Gu?”

He thought about Xiao Longnu, he didn’t know whether she was dead or alive, he was extremely worried about her. He made up his mind, even if he was going to die by her hand he needed to see her. As he was thinking he was pulled up to the Taoist priestess, she saw that although his face was covered with dirt, he was handsome, and thought, “This country hick is handsome, it’s a pity that although the top is like a beautiful flower, the lower part is a pile of grass.” She heard him shouting and calling out, making a commotion; she smiled and said, “Sha Dan, do you want to die or do you want to live?” She took out her sword and pointed at his chest.

Yang Guo saw that she used the stance “Flower from the Embroidery Pen” (jin bi sheng hua), it was a sword stance of the Ancient Tomb sect, he was perplexed, “This person is probably a disciple of Martial Uncle Li Mochou, and has come to find Gu Gu, she must have ill intentions, from her belt and sword stances her kung fu is good, I’ll keep on pretending to be dumb so she’ll be off guard.”

He put on a frightened expression and begged, “Xian Gu (Angelic Priestess), don’t…don’t kill me, I’ll listen to you.”

The Taoist priestess laughed and said, “Good, if you don’t listen to me I’ll kill you with one sword stroke.”

Yang Guo called out, “I’ll listen…I’ll listen.” The Taoist priestess waved her belt, and it returned to her waist, her expression was leisurely. Yang Guo quietly said, “Great!” but his face still had a blank expression. The Taoist priestess thought, “How could the stupid boy appreciate this skill? I might as well show it off in front of a blind man.” She said, “Quickly go home and get the hatchet.”

Yang Guo hurried to a nearby farmer’s house, he pretended to limp; his footsteps were heavy, strutting and staggering, appearing clumsy. The Taoist priestess saw he wasn’t a pleasant sight and shouted, “Don’t tell anyone, hurry.”

Yang Guo replied, “Okay!”

He quietly opened the door to the farmer’s house, and saw no one was inside, and assumed that they were working in the fields; from the wall he picked up a short hatchet that was used to chop firewood. He also took an old shirt from a rack and wore it, and then returned still carrying the dumb expression.

Although he was trying making a fool out of the Taoist priestess, he was worried about the safety of Xiao Longnu, and couldn’t stop from having a burdened look on his face.

The Taoist priestess angrily said, “What’s with the crying face? Quickly smile for me.”

Yang Guo opened his mouth and laughed foolishly.

The Taoist priestess wrinkled her brows and said, “Follow me up the mountain.”

Yang Guo quickly said, “I can’t…I can’t, mother told me not to run around.”

The Taoist priestess shouted, “If you don’t listen then I’ll kill you immediately.” She stretched out her left hand and held his ear, while her right hand raised her sword, as if she was about to slash down.

Yang Guo quickly blurted out, “I’ll go…I’ll go!”

The Taoist priestess thought, “That person is as stupid as a pig, just what I need.” She then pulled on his sleeve and started up the mountain. Her lightness kung fu was not weak so naturally her steps were quick. Yang Guo kept on stumbling about, his left foot high, right foot low, he was far behind her and after a while he sat on a rock by the roadside, incessantly wiping away his sweat and was out of breath. The Taoist priestess ran on ahead.

Yang Guo said, “You run like a rabbit, how can I keep up?”

The Taoist priestess saw that the sun was in the west, she was troubled and impatient, she returned and grabbed his arm, and hurriedly went up the mountain.

Yang Guo couldn’t keep up, his arms and legs were everywhere, and soon kicked her in the back of the leg.

The Taoist priestess shouted “Ai ya!” and angrily said, “Do you want to die?” But she saw that he was out of breath and extremely tired, so she stretched out her left hand and grabbed his waist and said, “Let’s go!” She seized his body and headed up the mountain, she utilized her lightness kung fu, and in a few moments she had passed over many li.

As Yang Guo was being carried by her, he felt her soft body and smelled her feminine scent, he didn’t waste an ounce of energy and let her carry him up the mountain. She hurried for a while and then looked down and saw a smile creep upon his face. He was looking very comfortable; she couldn’t stop from being angry, loosened her arm, and tossed him on the ground and angrily shouted, “Are you feeling happy?”

Yang Guo rubbed his backside and called out, “Ai yo, ai yo, the Xian Gu hurt Sha Dan’s backside.”

The Taoist priestess was angry but was amused at the same time and said, “Why is your surname Sha (Foolish/Dumb)?”

Yang Guo said, “Yes, I’m called Sha Dan. Xian Gu, mother said my surname is not Sha; it’s Zhang. Why is your surname Xian (Angel/Immortal)?”

The Taoist priestess said, “Just call me Xian Gu, and don’t worry about my surname.” She was the ‘Scarlet Serpent Deity’ Li Mochou’s disciple Hong Lingbo. She was the young Taoist priestess who was sent to kill the Lu couple and Madam Wu. Yang Guo wanted to know her surname but she didn’t reveal it. The Taoist priestess sat on a rock, the wind scattered her hair. Yang Guo secretly glanced at her and thought, “That priestess is quite pretty, but can’t compare with Peach Blossom Island’s Auntie Guo, and of course cannot compare with my Gu Gu.”

Hong Lingbo glanced at Yang Guo, smiled and said; “Sha Dan, why are you staring at me?”

Yang Guo said, “I’m just looking what reason is there? If you don’t let me look, I won’t look, what’s so special?”

Hong Lingbo said, “Look then! Hey, am I nice to look at?” She then took out a comb from her pocket, and slowly combed her hair.

Yang Guo said, “You are nice to look at, but…but…”

Hong Lingbo said, “But what?”

Yang Guo said, “But you are not white enough.”

She had always regarded her skin as white and smooth as gems, when she heard him say this; she couldn’t refrain from getting angry, she stood up and shouted, “Sha Dan, do you want to die? Saying I’m not white enough…humph!”

Yang Guo shook his head and said, “Not white enough.”

Hong Lingbo said, “Who’s whiter than me?”

Yang Guo said, “The one that slept by my side last night is much whiter than you.”

Hong Lingbo said, “Who? Is it one of your family members?” The thought of killing the woman who had whiter skin than her crossed her mind.

Yang Guo said, “Nope, it’s my family’s white lamb.”

Hong Lingbo turned her anger into laughter and said, “You really are stupid, how can you compare a person with an animal? Let’s go!” She took his upper arm and hurried up the mountain. Straight ahead was the road to Chongyang Palace, but Hong Lingbo headed west, in the direction of the Tomb of the Living Dead.

Yang Guo thought, “Indeed she is trying to find my Gu Gu.”

Hong Lingbo ran for a while and then took out a map from her pocket, looking for her destination.

Yang Guo said, “Xian Gu, we can’t go ahead, there are ghosts in the forest.”

Hong Lingbo said, “How do you know this?”

Yang Guo said, “The forest has a large tomb, the tomb has evil spirits, no one dares to go near it.”

Hong Lingbo was delighted and thought, “True enough, the Tomb of the Living Dead is around here.”

In the past few years, she has been under the tutelage of Li Mochou, and her martial arts had made good progress. In Shanxi, she helped her master to defeat many people of the Wulin world, and pleased her master. She heard her master mention the matter of dueling with the Quanzhen Elders, and said if she’d mastered the “Jade Heart Manual”, she wouldn’t have feared the Quanzhen Taoists. She said that there was a pile of manuals and scriptures of their sect’s skills in the tomb. Hong Lingbo asked why she didn’t go to the tomb and study their sect’s skills. Li Mochou ambiguously replied, saying that she had conceded the place to her younger apprentice sister, there wasn’t much friendly feeling between the two, and were not in contact with each other. Li Mochou was extremely proud, the many times she tried to enter the tomb, being found out and being sent scurrying away were not mentioned to her disciple. Instead she said that her apprentice sister was young, her martial arts were ordinary, and being the elder apprentice sister it wasn’t right to bully the younger one. She then encouraged her master to enter the tomb and take the manuals. In reality, there wasn’t a day that Li Mochou didn’t think about this, but she wasn’t familiar with the booby traps in the tomb, and so did not dare to do anything. When she heard her disciple talking about this she just smiled and did not reply.

Hong Lingbo mentioned this many times, but when she saw that her master did not care one way or another, she secretly decided to be more attentive, and asked her about the way to Mount Zhongnan’s tomb. She managed to draw a map, but she didn’t know that Li Mochou had not revealed everything to her. At this time, Li Mochou had sent her on a mission to kill one of their enemies; after she finished, she went to Mount Zhongnan by herself, and by coincidence met Yang Guo; she now ordered Yang Guo to chop down the pine trees that were blocking the way to the tomb.

Yang Guo thought that even with a year and a half of pine chopping, they would not be anywhere near the tomb; but he pretended to be dumb and followed her orders. More than half an hour later, the sky became dark, they had not even traveled a few li, and they were still very far from the tomb. He was becoming more and more anxious about Xiao Longnu. He thought, why not lead her forward to the tomb and see what she has planned; so he raised his hatchet and hacked down a few times, and then hacked a rock, sparks flew and the edge of the hatchet rolled up.

He loudly shouted, “Ai ya, ai yo, there’s a rock here. The hatchet is ruined; father is going to beat me. I…I need to go back home.”

Hong Lingbo was extremely anxious, she looked for the way to the tomb, she must enter the tomb tonight, and shouted out, “Sha Dan, stay here!”

Yang Guo said, “Xian Gu, aren’t you scared of ghosts?”

Hong Lingbo said, “If ghosts try to scare me then I’ll chop them in half with my sword.”

Yang Guo was happy and said, “You aren’t lying to me?”

Hong Lingbo said, “Why should I lie to you?”

Yang Guo said, “Since ghosts are scared of you, I’ll take you to the large tomb. If ghosts come out, you must scare them away!”

Hong Lingbo delightedly said, “You know the way to the tomb? Quickly take me there.” Yang Guo was afraid that she was going to become suspicious and so made her promise three times that she must kill the evil ghosts. Hong Lingbo comforted him, and told him to relax, and promised him that even if ten ghosts come out she will kill them all.

Yang Guo said, “A few years ago, I was grazing my lambs near the tomb and fell asleep, when I woke up it was the middle of the night. I saw a female ghost dressed in white exiting the tomb, it scared me to death, and I tripped while I was trying to run away and cracked my head, look there’s a scar here.” He then walked up to her, wanting her to feel his forehead. She had carried him all along the way, and he felt that she had the scent of orchids around her, leaning against her was quite relaxing. He continued with his plan, and put his forehead in front of her face.

Hong Lingbo laughed and said, “Sha Dan!” and just felt his forehead, she didn’t feel any scars but didn’t really notice and said, “Take me there quickly.”

Yang Guo took her hand and lead her out of the forest, and took her to the secret path leading to the tomb. It was nearing the middle of the night; there was no light from the stars or moon. Yang Guo took her hand, and felt a warm and soft hand and wondered, “Gu Gu and her are girls, why is it Gu Gu’s hands are as cold as ice and hers are warm.” He took her hand and pulled it. If anyone from the Wulin world treated Hong Lingbo with any disrespect, she would have killed them, but she knew that Yang Guo was just a simple fool, and she wanted his help. She thought that he was handsome, she was secretly quite pleased and quietly said, “That Sha Dan is not completely stupid; he knows that I’m good looking.”

Very soon, Yang Guo had led Hong Lingbo to the tomb. When he’d left the tomb he was confused and flustered, he didn’t close the tomb’s door; now he saw the large stone slab that was used as the door was still to the side. His heart jumped around and he prayed, “I hope Gu Gu is not dead so I’ll be able to see her again.” He decided that he couldn’t mess around with Hong Lingbo, and said, “Xian Gu, I’ll lead you forward, if a ghost eats me up and I become a ghost, I’ll haunt you forever.” They then entered.

Hong Lingbo thought, “That Sha Dan is strangely brave.” She didn’t give it any more thought, and followed closely in the dark, she had heard from her master that the paths in the Tomb of the Living Dead were complicated, all you need to do is take one wrong step and you’ll be lost. She watched Yang Guo moving without delaying for the slightest second, turning to the east and then twisting to the west, opening a door there, and pushing a stone over here, like he knew the way.

Hong Lingbo thought, “What’s so hard about the paths in the tomb? Could it be that master lied to me, in case I entered alone?” In just a few moments, Yang Guo had led her deep into the tomb, outside Xiao Longnu’s room.

He opened the door lightly, and listened carefully, he couldn’t hear anything and wanted to call out “Gu Gu!” but remembered that Hong Lingbo was right behind him so he quietly said, “We’re here!”

Hong Lingbo was now deep within the tomb, although she was skilled in martial arts and daring, she felt uneasy. When she heard Yang Guo say this, she quickly entered and took out a match, and lit the candle on the table. She saw a girl in white lying on a bed. She knew she would meet her Martial Uncle in the tomb, but she didn’t know that she would find her lying down peacefully, not knowing whether she was sleeping or ignoring her. She held her sword across her chest and said, “Disciple Hong Lingbo greets Martial Uncle.”

Yang Guo opened his mouth, it felt as if his heart jumped out of it, he concentrated on the Xiao Longnu’s movements, but she didn’t move an inch. After a while, she gave out a quiet ‘en’ sound. From when Hong Lingbo first said something to Xiao Longnu up to Xiao long Nu’s reply, Yang Guo was extremely anxious and worried, he wanted to throw himself on Xiao Longnu to hold her and cry. When he heard her reply he was very relieved; he was also extremely delighted and wasn’t able to hold in his tears and cried loudly.

Hong Lingbo asked, “Sha Dan, what’s wrong with you?”

Yang Guo said, “I’m…I’m scared.”

Xiao Longnu slowly turned around and quietly said, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve just died once, it wasn’t painful at all.”

Hong Lingbo saw that she had an extremely beautiful face, and was startled. She thought, “Such a beautiful girl living on this earth!” She couldn’t but feel inferior, and said, “Disciple Hong Lingbo greets Martial Uncle.”

Xiao Longnu quietly said, “My apprentice sister? Is she here?”

Hong Lingbo said, “My master told me to come here first, and asked about Martial Uncle’s well being.”

Xiao Longnu said, “Just leave, this place is not for you, even your master can’t come here.”

Hong Lingbo saw that her face looked unwell, there were bloodstains on her chest, she was short of breath when talking, it looked like she had a serious injury. She then let down her guard slightly and asked, “Where’s Grandma Sun?”

Xiao Longnu said, “She died a long time ago…just leave now.”

Hong Lingbo became even more relaxed and thought; “It’s fate; who would have thought that I, Hong Lingbo, would become the heir to the tomb.” She saw that Xiao Longnu seemed to be on death’s doorsteps, and was afraid that if she died, no one would know the whereabouts of the “Jade Heart Manual”. She quickly said, “Martial Uncle, Master ordered me to obtain the “Jade Heart manual”. If you give it to me, then I’ll immediately help you cure your injury.”

Xiao Longnu had practiced the tomb’s martial arts for a long time, she didn’t have any emotions, nothing was able to affect her; but now she was suffering a serious internal injury and lost her self control. When she heard what she said, she was alarmed, and fainted again. Hong Lingbo dashed over and searched her body, Xiao Longnu woke up and said, “Where’s my apprentice sister? Get her here; I have something to say to her.”

Hong Lingbo saw that their sect’s highest arts were within her grasp, she couldn’t wait, she chuckled and took out silver needles from her pocket, and said, “Martial Uncle, you recognize these needles, if you don’t give the “Jade Heart Manual” to me then don’t blame me for being impolite.”

Yang Guo had experienced the poison of the “Soul Freezing Silver Needles” before; he had only held one in his hand and he felt the effects. If one pierced the body, what’s going to happen then? He saw the danger and quickly called out, “Xian Gu, there’s a ghost, I’m scared.” He threw himself over her, hugging her back, and used his finger to press down on the ‘Chaste Shoulder’ (jian zhen) and ‘Main Entrance’ (jing men) pressure points. Hong Lingbo could not have dreamed that ‘Sha Dan’ would possess such advanced martial art skills, her whole body became numb and she stood there paralyzed. Yang Guo was afraid she had the ability to unblock her pressure points so he heavily pressed down on ‘Large Bone’ (ju gu) pressure point, and said, “Gu Gu, this girl is really evil, should I prick her a few times with these needles?” He wrapped his hand with his garment and picked up the needles.

Hong Lingbo wasn’t able to move an inch and she heard what he said clearly. He saw him pick up the needles and laughing ‘ha-ha’ towards her, she was frightened out of her wits. She wanted to plead but couldn’t open her mouth, her eyes revealed the state of mind she was in.

Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’Er, close the door to the tomb in case my apprentice sister arrives.”

Yang Guo said, “Yes!”

He was about to turn around when he heard an enchanting female voice from behind saying, “Apprentice sister, how are you? I arrived a long time ago.”

Yang Guo turned around alarmed, under the candlelight, he saw a beautiful Taoist priestess standing at the door, her cheeks peach, her mouth seemed to form a smile but it did not, it was the ‘Scarlet Serpent Deity’ Li Mochou.

When Hong Lingbo first started to ask about the whereabouts of the Tomb of the Living Dead, she knew that Hong Lingbo would go to the tomb herself to steal the “Jade Heart Manual”. When she sent Hong Lingbo to Changnan to kill, she had really planned it all. She secretly followed all along; she saw how Hong Lingbo met Yang Guo, how they entered the tomb, how she tried to force Xiao Longnu to hand over the manual and how she lost. Because she was extremely quick and her steps extremely light, Hong Lingbo and Yang Guo did not notice her. Now she revealed herself.

Xiao Longnu got up and called out, “Apprentice sister!” then coughed incessantly.

Li Mochou coldly pointed at Yang Guo and said, “Who is he? Ancestor Grandma’s rule, no man is allowed to take one step into the tomb, and you allow him here?” Xiao Longnu was coughing violently, and had no way to reply. Yang Guo stood in front of Xiao Longnu protecting her and clearly said, “She’s my Gu Gu, this is none of your business.”

Li Mochou chuckled and said, “Good Sha Dan, you’re very brave!” She waved her fly whisk three times, making three ‘fu’ sounds. Although the three moves were done one after the other, they arrived at the same time. It was one of the lethal stances of the Ancient Tomb sect; other sect’s fighters do not know the essence of the stance and would have their bones broken as soon as she used it. Yang Guo was familiar with all the skills of the Ancient Tomb sect, though his internal energy wasn’t as profound as Li Mochou’s he was still able to dodge the three moves in one “Three Swallows in the Forest”. Li Mochou’s fly whisk returned, she was secretly alarmed, she saw that his dodging techniques were from their sect, she sternly said, “Apprentice sister, who is this little scoundrel?”

Xiao Longnu was afraid that she was going to throw up blood again and didn’t dare raise her voice, and quietly said, “Guo’Er, greet your Martial Uncle.”

Yang Guo gave a ‘humph’ sound and said, “She counts as my Martial Uncle?”

Xiao Longnu said, “Bend your ear over, I’ve got something to say to you.”

Yang Guo knew that she wanted him to kowtow to Li Mochou, but he didn’t want to, so he still lowered his ear.

Xiao Longnu quietly said, “On the corner of the bed by my leg, there is a stone panel, turn it to the right and quickly leap up onto the bed.”

Li Mochou thought that she was ordering her disciple to apologize to her; in front of her was a seriously injured person, the other was a youngster, why would she care about them? She was thinking of a way to torture them and force her apprentice sister to hand over the “Jade Heart Manual”.

Yang Guo nodded his head, and clearly said, “Disciple greets Martial Uncle!” He slowly stretched out his hand towards the part of the bed near Xiao Longnu’s leg, indeed there was a stone panel, so he turned it with all his strength and quickly leaped onto the bed.

Li Mochou was shocked, and remembered there were booby traps everywhere in the tomb. Her master was biased; she concealed them from her and taught her apprentice sister where they were and how to use them; she immediately dashed over to grab Xiao Longnu.

Xiao Longnu had no strength to retaliate at present. The bed was heavy, Li Mochou had spotted this earlier, and she was extremely quick in her movements and was about to grab Xiao Longnu off the bed. Yang Guo was alarmed, and with all his strength pushed out a palm to repel her hand away. He suddenly saw darkness in front of him, two thudding sounds, and the bed had dropped into a lower level. The stone slab on the ceiling automatically pushed back up; Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo were separated from Li Mochou and her disciple.

Yang Guo could make out that there was a table and some chairs in the room, he made his way to the table and took out a match and lit a half burned candle.

Xiao Longnu sighed and said, “There isn’t enough blood in my body, I am unable to circulate my internal energy to heal myself. Even if I wasn’t hurt, the two of us would not be able to beat my apprentice sister”. When Yang Guo heard her say there wasn’t enough blood in her body, he raised his left arm, and singled out his vein on his wrist and bit down on it as hard as he could; blood came flowing out. He placed his wound by Xiao Longnu’s mouth, and his blood dripped in.

Xiao Longnu’s body was ice cold, when the warm blood entered her, her body started to warm up, she knew this wasn’t right and wanted to struggle, but Yang Guo knew what she was thinking and pressed down on a pressure point on her waist, stopping her from moving. After a while, the wound started to dry up, Yang Guo bit on it again, and then bit his right wrist. After donating blood several times, Yang Guo felt faint and dizzy, he sat up straight and unsealed her pressure point. Xiao Longnu looked at him for a while and didn’t say anything then started to heal herself. Yang Guo saw that the candle was about to burn out, and replaced it.

That night the two of them meditated together. Yang Guo was recovering from his lost of blood. After taking in Yang Guo’s blood, Xiao Longnu strengthened, and knew that her life was saved. She opened her eyes and smiled slightly towards Yang Guo. Her cheeks were normally white, but Yang Guo now saw that they were red, like rouge on white jade; he was delighted and said, “Gu Gu, you’ve recovered.” Xiao Longnu nodded her head. Yang Guo was happy but didn’t know what to say.

Xiao Longnu said, “We’ll go to Grandma Sun’s room, I have something to say to you.”

Yang Guo said, “Aren’t you tired?”

Xiao Longnu said, “I’m fine.” She stretched out her hand and pulled on a bracket on the wall, a stone slab moved and revealed a path. Yang Guo had never seen this path before. Xiao Longnu led him in the darkness and eventually arrived at Grandma Sun’s room.

She lit a candle, and turned Yang Guo’s garment into a bag, and placed her gold silk gloves in it. Yang Guo stood there looking at her and asked, “Gu Gu, what are you doing?”

Xiao Longnu didn’t reply, and placed two jars of Jade Bee honey into the bag.

Yang Guo delightedly said, “Gu Gu, we are leaving, aren’t we? That will be great.”

Xiao Longnu said, “You go by yourself, I know you are a good boy, you treat me very well.”

Yang Guo was shocked and said, “What about you?”

Xiao Longnu said, “I made an oath to my master, I must stay in the tomb and never leave. Unless…unless…I won’t leave.” She shook her head as she said this.

He saw that her face was stern, her voice still, she wasn’t going to allow any back chat from him so he didn’t say anything. But this was an important matter; he eventually plucked up the courage and said, “Gu Gu, if you don’t go, I won’t go. I want to stay with you.”

Xiao Longnu said, “Right now, my apprentice sister is probably guarding the paths out of the tomb, she wants to force me to hand over the “Jade Heart Manual”. My kung fu is not near hers, and I’m hurt, I won’t be able to beat her, will I?”

Yang Guo said, “No.”

Xiao Longnu said, “The food we’ve got left will only last twenty days if we stretch it, if we also eat the Jade Bee honey, we’ll last a month. After the month passes, then what?”

Yang Guo stood there for a while and said, “We’ll rush out, although we won’t beat Martial Uncle, it may be possible to escape with our lives.”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “You know your Martial Uncle’s martial arts and temper, and should know that we won’t be able to escape. Not only will she torture us, but our deaths will be unbearable.”

Yang Guo said, “If this is the case, it will be even harder for me to escape by myself.”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “No! I’ll fight with her and lure her deep within the tomb; this will give you a chance to escape. When you get to the entrance, shift the large stone on the left, and pull on the brackets, two large stones weighing ten tonnes will drop down, sealing off the tomb forever.”

Yang Guo became even more startled as he heard this, and said, “Gu Gu, you’ll be able to open the stones, won’t you?”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “No. Years ago when Wang Chongyang was rebelling against the Jin, he made a plan; this stone tomb was his storage place for money, supplies and weapons. It is heavily booby trapped, the layout a secret, and he set up two large ten tonne stone slabs at the entrance, called the “Dragon Snapping Stones” (duan long shi). In case they failed against the Jin and the Jin found out about this place and came to attack, it would be a few against many. In that case he would lower the stone, sealing off the tomb; the attackers of the tomb would not be able to leave with their lives. Once the stone drops, it will not open again. You know how narrow the path leading into the tomb is; it only allows for one person at a time to pass. Even if there were thousands of the enemy that entered the tomb, they could only form a long line; only one person could touch the large stone and that one person will not be able to lift the stone. With this plan, that old Taoist was saying that even in death he will not give in, and he wanted to perish with the enemy. After he failed against the Jin, he lived by himself in the tomb. The Jin emperor knew where he was, and sent tens of martial artists to kill him; in the end they were all captured or killed by Wang Chongyang. Not one returned. Later, that Jin emperor died suddenly, a new emperor was appointed, and left him alone, and so the two ‘Dragon Snapping Stones’ were never used. When Wang Chongyang left the tomb, he told Ancestor Grandma about all of the tomb’s booby traps.

The more Yang Guo listened the more startled he became, with tears in his eyes he said, “Gu Gu, I’ll follow you in life and death.”

Xiao Longnu said, “What use is there in following me? You said the outside world was a great place to play, just go and play. With your standard of martial arts, the Quanzhen Taoists will not be able to do much to you. You managed to trick Hong Lingbo, you are much cleverer than me; there is no need for me to look after you.”

Yang Guo rushed up to her and hugged her, crying, “Gu Gu, if I’m not able to leave with you, I won’t be able to enjoy my life.”

Xiao Longnu was cold and loveless, her words were cold and harsh, but right now for some reason she felt a rush of warm blood to her chest, her eyes ached, she wanted to cry. She was startled and remembered what her master had told her before she died, “The kung fu you are practicing is an emotionless type of advanced martial arts, if, later on, you cry and reveal your true feelings, not will only your martial arts suffer, your life will be in danger. Remember this.” Then she pushed Yang Guo away and coldly said, “Whatever I say, you have to listen.”

Yang Guo saw that she was still strict and stern, and didn’t dare to say another word. Xiao Longnu put the bag on his back and took a long sword off the wall, and gave it to him and then sternly said, “When I tell you to go, you must immediately go, once you are outside, immediately lower the stone to close off the tomb. Your Martial Uncle is extremely ruthless, the chance will be gone very quick, are you going to obey me?”

Yang Guo choked, “Yes.”

Xiao Longnu said, “If you don’t do as I have told you, when I’m dead in hell, I’ll hate you forever. Go!” She took hold of his hand, opened the door and left. Whenever Yang Guo touched her hand, it always felt like ice, but now in her grasp, he felt her palm was sometimes cold, sometimes warm, and completely different from normal. But right now he was too emotional; he had no time to think about such trivial things, and followed her out. After traveling for a while, Xiao Longnu touched a stone slab and quietly said, “They are just in front. I’ll lure my apprentice sister away, and you’ll leave by rushing to the exit in the northwest corner. If Hong Lingbo chases you, attack her with ‘Jade Bee Needles’.” Yang Guo’s heart was fluttering all over the place, and just nodded.

The “Jade Bee Needles” are a skill of the Ancient Tomb sect; years ago Lin Chaoying had two lethal projectiles, one was the “Soul Freezing Needles”, the other was the “Jade Bee Needles”. The “Jade Bee Needle” was a gold needle that was as thin as a hair, sixty percent was made of gold, the other forty percent consists of steel, and had a drop of poison from the Jade Bees on it. Although it was small, the gold was heavy and allowed it to be thrown over a long distance. This projectile was too venomous, Lin Chaoying rarely used it; after her middle age, her kung fu had reached the acme of perfection, and so there wasn’t a need to use them at all. Because Li Mochou had not agreed to swear an oath that she would remain in the tomb forever, when her master passed on the skill of the “Soul Freezing Needles” she did not teach her the “Jade Bee Needles”.

Xiao Longnu waited, and then rotated the brackets on the wall, two ‘zha’ ‘zha’ sounds were made as the wall slowly opened to the left. Her pair of silk belts immediately flew out, the left heading for Li Mochou, the right heading for Hong Lingbo, her body flying extremely swiftly forwards. Li Mochou had long ago unblocked Hong Lingbo’s pressure points and she had shouted at her for a little while. They were in the room trying to figure out where they were and looking for a way out when suddenly they saw Xiao Longnu attacking, the both of them were startled.

Li Mochou’s fly whisk flew out to block Xiao Longnu’s belt. The fly whisk and the silk belt were soft objects, soft against soft, but Li Mochou’s internal energy was superior to that of Xiao Longnu’s, the two weapons clashed, and Xiao Longnu’s weapon was sent back. The belt in her left hand returned, the right was sent out, in just a short while many stances were exchanged, the two silk belts were gentle and swift. Li Mochou was startled and angry, thinking, “So master was biased, she did not teach me these skills!” But she was able to defend against it, but didn’t want to try to kill her, firstly the “Jade Heart Manual” wasn’t yet in her hands, if she killed her it would be difficult to find the manual in this large stone tomb, and secondly, she wanted to see what other great skills that her master had bestowed on Xiao Longnu.

Hong Lingbo had always regarded herself as intelligent, but today she was tricked by a boy, she was fooled into thinking he was dumb for over half a day and wasn’t able to see through it. She was furious with him, she saw that her master and Xiao Longnu were fighting heatedly, and said, “Sha Dan, your little scoundrel’s trickery isn’t bad.” She took out her swords, and took half a step and called out, “See if I can cut your nose off.” Her swords chopped and slashed, ‘chi’ ‘chi’ ‘chi’ as several stances were unleashed. Yang Guo saw that she was advancing fiercely and could only raise his sword to block. In normal circumstances, Yang Guo would make some sarcastic comments and joke around with her, but now he was thinking about having to part with Xiao Longnu, warm tears were in his eyes, everything was blurry in front of him, he made a few stances, but there wasn’t any intention of attacking.

Hong Lingbo had used many stances; although she wasn’t able to hurt him, she saw that there was no strength in his stances. She thought that he must possess average skills. She became even more careless, and didn’t even consider the fact that he had sealed her pressure points before.

Li Mochou and Xiao Longnu fought for another ten moves, Li Mochou’s fly whisk flipped up wrapping around her left silk belt and said, “Apprentice sister, take a look at my skills.” She dispersed her chi into her weapon and the belt was cut into two pieces. In normal duels with weapons, it was difficult for one person’s weapon to shatter the enemy’s weapon. The fly whisk and the silk belts were extremely soft objects, she had just used her fly whisk to split the belt in half, and this was ten times more difficult than using a sword to shatter another sword. Li Mochou demonstrated her skills and her face swelled with pride.

Xiao Longnu didn’t react, and said, “How good are your skills?” Her half belt shot out and wrapped itself around the thread end of the fly whisk, the belt in her right hand shot out and tangled the handle, one pulled to the left and one to the right, and the fly whisk snapped in half. In terms of power, this move was lower than when Li Mochou had snapped the belt in half, but it was extremely fast and the technique of dispersing her chi into the belts was exquisite, Li Mochou’s move cannot compare with Xiao Longnu in this department. She was slightly alarmed and threw down her weapon; she snatched the belts, gradually forcing Xiao Longnu back. Another ten moves passed and Xiao Longnu was forced to the eastern wall, and saw that she had nowhere else to go. She suddenly touched the wall and called out, “Guo’Er, escape quickly!” A ‘ka’ sound was heard as an exit appeared in the northwest corner.

Li Mochou was shocked and quickly turned around, wanting to stop Yang Guo. Xiao Longnu threw down her belts and threw out two palms with the intent to kill. Li Mochou had to turn around to block it.

Xiao Longnu shouted, “Guo’Er, why aren’t you leaving?”

Yang Guo looked at Xiao Longnu and saw that there was no over turning of this decision and shouted, “Gu Gu, I’m going now!” He quickly threw out three stances, the sword tip pointing towards Hong Lingbo.

Hong Lingbo had seen Yang Guo’s sword stances were weak, but of a sudden it had strengthened so much, she could only jump back from the danger. Yang Guo darted out of the door, he turned around, wanting to look at Xiao Longnu for one last time.

Xiao Longnu and her apprentice sister were fighting bare handed, after practicing the “Jade Heart Manual” her variation of stances had greatly increased, although she was seriously wounded, she managed to hold her own after tens of moves. She saw the image of Yang Guo’s back at the door, and thought how they would never meet each other again, her chest heated up, her eyes ached, wanting to cry. She has never shown her true emotions before; today she wanted to cry twice. She was frightened.

When clashing palms with a highly skilled fighter, how can one allow oneself to be slow? Li Mochou saw Xiao Longnu standing there and took the opportunity to advance; she grabbed her wrist and sealed the ‘Returning Orthodox’ (hui zong) pressure point, and hooked out a leg. Xiao Longnu wasn’t able to stand upright and fell onto the floor.

Yang Guo turned his head around, only to see Xiao Longnu hooked onto the floor by her apprentice sister. He then saw Li Mochou was about to harm his master, blood rushed through his chest and he called out, “Don’t harm my master!” He darted back into the room, then leapt over to her and grabbed Li Mochou by the waist. This move didn’t belong to the stances of any school or sect; it was just an urgent reaction from Yang Guo in this dangerous situation.

Li Mochou was preoccupied with wanting to pick up Xiao Longnu, and wasn’t prepared for Yang Guo coming back and grabbing her, for the time being she wasn’t able to escape. She was ruthless and violent, not restrained by the practice of religion like she should be, but she guarded her body like a treasure. After spending many years wandering the world of Jianghu, she was still a virgin, and now suddenly she was held tightly by Yang Guo. All she felt now was the warmth of a man spreading from her back into her heart, her heart stirred, her whole body softened, her face was red, and there was no strength in her hands. Xiao Longnu took the chance to unblock her pressure point, but Hong Lingbo was now pointing her sword towards Yang Guo’s back. Xiao Longnu was looking up from the ground, when she saw the sword coming she rolled to the left, and moved Yang Guo and Li Mochou at the same time, Hong Lingbo’s sword pierced thin air.

Xiao Longnu leapt up and shouted, “Guo’Er, get out quickly!”

Yang Guo held tightly onto Li Mochou’s waist and called out, “Gu Gu, get out quickly, I’m holding her down, she won’t be able to move.” During this time, Li Mochou’s head was filled with thoughts, she knew that this was a urgent situation where there is only a hair separating life and death, but being held by Yang Guo caused her heart to be enchanted, and didn’t think of escaping.

Xiao Longnu was curious and wondered, “With my apprentice sister’s martial arts, how could she be held down by Guo’Er, not moving an inch? Could it be that her pressure points have been blocked?”

She saw that Hong Lingbo’s left hand was about to try to pierce Yang Guo again, so she stretched out two fingers and pushed the flat side of the sword in her right hand, the sword leaped up, heading for the sword in Hong Lingbo’s left hand. A clashing sound, Hong Lingbo’s hands became numb, the handles of the swords dropped on the floor. She jumped back in shock.

When the swords clashed, sparks flew, it was during this time when Li Mochou noticed that Xiao Longnu had looked at her strangely; she couldn’t stop from being furious and shouted, “Little punk, do you want to die?” She generated chi into her arms and escaped from Yang Guo’s hold, she leapt up and was about to throw out a palm towards Xiao Longnu.

Xiao Longnu was busy concentrating on Yang Guo’s movements when she suddenly felt Li Mochou’s palm arriving, there was no time to use stances to neutralize the palm, she could only return a palm to block, but she felt her apprentice sister’s profound internal energy, she felt pain in her chest. She saw Yang Guo had picked himself up, and was coming to help her, she shouted, “Guo’Er, you aren’t going to listen to me, are you?”

Yang Guo said, “I’ll listen to whatever you say, but I won’t listen to what you are saying now. Gu Gu, I’ll follow you in life and death.”

Xiao Longnu heard his sincerity in his words, and was touched again, she saw that Li Mochou was about to throw out another palm, she knew right now that with her serious internal injuries, she would not be able to take this palm, so she ducked and darted to the side and picked up Yang Guo, and hurried out of the room through the stone door. Li Mochou followed the blur, and stretched out her hand to grab her back and shouted, “Don’t go!”

Xiao Longnu waved her hand back, ten or so “Jade Bee Needles” were shot back. Li Mochou suddenly smelled the sweet scent of honey, and knew that this projectile was lethal. She was startled and quickly bent back, she knocked into Hong Lingbo and both of them dropped onto the floor.

They heard extremely quiet ‘ding’ ‘ding’ ‘ding’ sounds, as the needles struck the wall, then they heard two ‘zha’ ‘zha’ sounds, it was Xiao Longnu who had taken Yang Guo out of the room, turned the switch, and closed the door.

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