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Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Chapter 19

 Chapter 19: I’ll go, despite a myriad of foes.
Qiao Feng channeled his internal energy for a long time. Suddenly, he heard two soft ‘ge-ge’ sounds high above in the northwest corner. He knew that there was a person in wulin walking on the roof. After that, there were also
2 sounds up in the southeast corner. When hearing the sounds in the northwest, Qiao Feng had still not paid any attention to them, but when there were 2 people gathering together like this, he knew it was likely they had come because of him. He lowered his voice and said to A'Zhu: ‘I go out for a while and will come back immediately, don’t be afraid.’ A'Zhu nodded. Qiao Feng did not blow out the candle. As the door of the room was half closed, he turned his body sideways and went out. He then went around to the window at the backyard and stood next to the wall.

He only heard someone say in a room in the east of the inn: ‘Is that 8th master Xiang? Please come down.’ The man on the northwest corner laughed and said: ‘Qi the Sixth of Guanxi has also arrived.’ The man in the room said: ‘Very good, very good! Please come in together.’ 2 people jumped down from the roof in succession and walked into the room.

Qiao Feng thought: ‘Qi the Sixth of Guanxi is called ‘Fast Saber Qi Liu’ (Liu = Six). He’s a famous brave man in Guanxi. That 8th master Xiang is most prolly Xiang Wanghai of Xiangdong. I’ve heard that these people are generous in aiding the needy and their martial arts are remarkable. These 2 people aren't the treacherous vicious type and have no dispute with me either. Definitely they've come here not because of me. It turns out I’ve had a silly suspicion. The voice of the man in the room sounds somewhat familiar, but who is he?’

He heard Xiang Wanghai say: ‘‘Yama’s Foe’ Divine doctor Xue suddenly sends out hero invitation cards to invite every fellow in jianghu, the situation is also very urgent because it says ‘To the hero who sees this card,
 
your esteemed presence is requested.’ Big brother Bao, do you know what this is for?’

When Qiao Feng heard the words ‘Yama’s Foe Divine doctor Xue’, he immediately had a mixed feeling of happiness and fright: ‘Divine doctor Xue is around here? I only knew that he was far away in Ganzhou. If he is around here, the little maid A'Zhu can be saved.’

He had heard that Divine doctor Xue was the number one wizard in medical circles nowadays. Because the 2 words ‘Divine doctor’ were too famous, everyone did not even know what his original real name was. The tales of him in jianghu were even more exaggerating, saying that he could even bring the dead back to life, as for the people who were alive, no matter how serious the injuries or illnesses they suffered were, he always had methods to cure them, and for this reason Yama of Hell also had a serious headache as every time he sent Wuchang little demons to capture people, Divine doctor Xue would often stay at the side and thwart them or block the way and snatch the people. Not only did Divine doctor Xue have godlike medical knowledge, his martial arts were also outstanding. He liked making friends with fellows in jianghu. When he cured a person of an illness, he often consulted them about 1 martial arts stance or two. The person involved felt grateful to him for saving their life therefore naturally they would not hold back anything when passing on their knowledge and only teach him their proudest skills.

He heard Fast Saber Qi Liu ask: ‘Shopkeeper Bao, recently have you bought or sold something good?’ Qiao Feng thought: ‘No wonder the voice of the man in the room sounds familiar. It turns out he’s ‘No Capital’ Bao Qianling. This man robs the rich to aid the poor. He has quite a heroic reputation. That year, when I assumed the Beggar Society’s Chief post, he also participated in the ceremony.’

Already knowing that there were 3 people Xiang Wanghai, Qi Liu and Bao Qianling in the room, he did not want to hear other people’s private matters and thought: ‘Tomorrow morning I’ll visit Bao Qianling’s room and ask him about where Divine doctor Xue is staying.’ When he was about to return to A’Zhu’s room, suddenly he heard Bao Qianling sighed and said: ‘Oh, for the past several days I’ve been in a very bad mood and uninterested
 
in buying or selling. Today, hearing that he killed his father, mother and master, I was even more furious.’ As he finished saying he stretched out his hand and gave the table a heavy slap.

When Qiao Feng heard the words ‘killed his father, mother, and master’, he was scared: ‘They’re talking about me.’

Xiang Wanghai said: ‘This Qiao Feng guy has always had a big reputation and been hypocritical. Not just a few people have been fooled by him. Who would have expected he could commit monstrous crimes like this?’ Bao Qianling said: ‘That year, when he assumed the Beggar Society’s Chief post, I and he also had a chance to meet each other. I’ve always totally admired the conduct of this man in the past. Hearing Zhao the Third say he belonged to the Khitan barbaric ethnic group, I still tried my best to argue that he didn’t, for this reason I and Zhao the Third quarreled to the point that we turned purple with rage and almost had a fight with each other. Oh, barbaric people really are the same as animals. He could hide it for a period of time, but later on, the ferocious character eventually broke open.’ Qi Liu said: ‘Who could have expected that he has roots in Shaolin Monastery? Xuan Ku dashi was his master.’ Bao Qianling said: ‘This matter at first was very secret. Even in Shaolin School, very few people knew about it. But Qiao Feng already killed his master so Shaolin School can no longer conceal the truth. This Qiao surnamed vicious traitor only thought that after killing his father, mother and master he’d be able to hide his origin and he’d rather die than admit it to anyone. But he couldn’t have expected that he would overreach himself and his sins would become more and more serious.’

Standing outside the door, hearing Bao Qianling assessing his mind like this, Qiao Feng thought: ‘‘No Capital’ Bao Qianling and I can be regarded as having some friendship. This man is definitely not the type to make irresponsible remarks. If even he is saying like this, of course other people’s words are even more unbearable. Oh, I, Qiao Feng, have suffered this unjustifiable injustice, why should I bother clearing myself of it? From now on I’ll just conceal my identity, more than 10 years later, friends in jianghu would all forget that there’s a person like me, that’s all.’ In an instant, he could not help but feeling utterly disheartened.
 
He heard Xiang Wanghai continue: ‘My guess is that Divine doctor Xue sends out hero invitation cards to confer with other people about how to deal with Qiao Feng. This ‘Yama’s Foe’ hates evil like an enemy, I’ve also heard that he and the 2 dashi Xuan Nan and Xuan Ji of Shaolin Monastery have a really deep friendship.’ Bao Qianling said: ‘Correct! I think recently in jianghu, besides Qiao Feng doing evil, there’s no other major affair. Brother Xiang, brother Qi, come on, come on, come on, let’s drink up several Jin (600 g) of white spirit, tonight we’re gonna have a long talk.’

Qiao Feng thought even if they talked till dawn, they would merely make an extra effort to angrily scold him hence he did not want to hear anymore and returned to A'Zhu’s room immediately.

Seeing that his face was pale and was having a very ugly expression, A'Zhu asked: ‘Great master Qiao, did you meet enemies?’ She was worried that he had suffered internal injuries. Qiao Feng shook his head. A'Zhu was still uneasy, she asked: ‘You’re not injured, right?’

Ever since Qiao Feng had started to step into jianghu, he had only been respected by friends and feared by enemies. He had never been despised and looked down upon like he had for the past several days. Hearing A'Zhu ask him so, he could not help but sense his pride rising. He said loudly: ‘No, I’m not. It’s not difficult for those ignorant narrow-minded lowlifes to defame and spread false rumors about me, but if they want to fight and injure me, it may not necessarily be easy.’ Suddenly, heroic and mettlesome feelings surged up in his heart. He said: ‘A'Zhu, tomorrow I’m gonna find the best doctor under heaven to treat the injury for you. Just relax and sleep.’

Seeing his proud expression, A'Zhu had a lot of respect and admiration for him but she was also scared. She felt that the man in front of her was totally different than Mr Murong but they also had very many similarities as both of them did not fear Heaven and Hell, and were both prideful and majestic. But Qiao Feng was straightforward and heroic like a mighty lion, while Mr Murong was refined and unaffected like a phoenix.

After making up his mind, Qiao Feng was no longer worried. He then fell asleep soon after sitting down on the chair.
 
A'Zhu saw the dim lamplight beaming on his face. After a while, she could hear him snoring. Suddenly, his facial muscles twitched slightly and he ground his teeth. The muscles on both sides of his square face stuck out. A'Zhu felt that the brawny man in front of her was very pitiable and really was much unhappier than she herself was.

Early in the morning of the next day, Qiao Feng transferred his internal energy to A'Zhu, paid the rent and asked the inn attendant to go hire a mule wagon. He helped A'Zhu take a sit in the wagon then went to the outside of Bao Qianling’s room and said loudly: ‘Brother Bao, this little brother Qiao Feng pays a visit.’

After cursing Qiao Feng for half a night, the 3 people Bao Qianling, Xiang Wanghai and Qi Liu had been very tired and fallen asleep. At this moment they had not yet waken up. Suddenly hearing the shout by Qiao Feng, they were all frightened and immediately jumped out of the earthen bed simultaneously, taking out the saber, drawing the sword, and touching the whip. As soon as the 3 people held weapons in their hands, they were dumbfounded because they saw that there was a small piece of white paper on which 4 small words ‘Qiao Feng paying respects’ were written sticking to the weapon of each of them. The 3 people looked at each other, gasping with astonishment. They knew that the previous night Qiao Feng had played a trick on them, had he wanted to take their lives, it would have been as easy as turning his hand over. Among them, Bao Qianling was even more embarrassed as his nickname was ‘No Capital’; he had gone to thousands of houses in the daytime and had broken through hundreds of doors at nighttime; leaping onto roofs, vaulting over walls and stealing other people’s money were his best skills, yet during the night he had been played a prank on by Qiao Feng without knowing anything about it until now.

Bao Qianling wound the flexible whip back around his waist, knowing that if Qiao Feng had wanted to harm them he would have done it the night before. He immediately ran to the door and said: ‘The head on Bao Qianling’s neck, brother Qiao can take it whenever you want to. I, Bao, specialize in doing business without capital, even if my entire home is lost at the hands of brother Qiao, it’s still nothing. You killed even your father, mother and master, and only have a nodding acquaintance with me, why
 
should you show mercy to me?’ As soon as he had seen the piece of paper on his flexible whip, he had already made a decision. He knew the situation today was very dangerous, if he himself argued insolently with Qiao Feng to the end, there would really be no way to flee for his life; therefore it would be better to hand over himself to him.

Qiao Feng cupped his fist in his hand and said: ‘Several years have flown by since the day we bid farewell to each other in Qingzhou prefecture in Shandong. Brother Bao’s demeanor is still the same as before. This is really pleasing and commendable.’ Bao Qianling ha-ha laughed and said: ‘I’ve just been dragging out an ignoble life. Until now, on the whole, I haven’t died yet.’ Qiao Feng said: ‘Hearing that ‘Yama’s Foe’ Divine doctor Xue has sent out hero invitation cards, I rather like to go to increase my knowledge. May I go with the 3 of you?’

Bao Qianling was astonished and thought: ‘Divine doctor Xue has sent out hero invitation cards only to deal with you. Having the nerve to go alone, you must be impatient not to live. In the end, what’s your intention? I’ve long heard that Chief Qiao of the Beggar Society is bold but cautious, and both brave and resourceful. If it’s not because he’s secure in the knowledge that he has strong backing, he definitely won’t hurl himself into the net. I mustn’t fall into his trap.’

Seeing that he was hesitant about replying, Qiao Feng said: ‘I have a matter to beg Divine doctor Xue. Hopefully, brother Bao will lead the way.’

Bao Qianling thought: ‘I’m worried about not being able to escape from his murderous hands. If I lead him to the hero banquet, extraordinary people will jointly attack him, even if he had 3 heads and 6 arms, he would be hopelessly outnumbered. But going with him is really like facing an almost certain death.’ Even though he was worried, he still thought that it would be good to lead Qiao Feng to the meeting of heroes, hence he said: ‘This great banquet for heroes will be held at Juxian Manor which is 70 li (0.5 km) away to the northeast of here. Brother Qiao wants to go there. This can’t be better. But I’m gonna make it clear that, in the first place, this meeting isn’t a nice meeting and this banquet isn’t a nice banquet. If brother Qiao goes there, it’ll bode ill rather than well for you. Please don’t blame Bao Qianling me for not telling you in advance.’
 
Qiao Feng smiled half-heartedly and said: ‘I appreciate brother Bao’s good intentions. The hero banquet will be held at Juxian Manor so the organizers are the You Clan’s 2 Heroes, aren’t they? It’s also easy to ask about the location of Juxian Manor so the 3 of you please go ahead. It won’t be late if this little brother slowly goes 2 hours later. This will also allow time for everyone to prepare.’

Bao Qianling turned around and looked at Qi Liu and Xiang Wanghai. The
2 of them slowly nodded. Bao Qianling said: ‘If so, the 3 of us will respectfully wait for brother Qiao’s arrival at Juxian Manor.’

The 3 people Bao, Qi and Xiang hurriedly paid the rent then got on their horses and whipped them towards Juxian Manor. They urged the horses on all the way and sometimes they turned their heads around to take a peep, fearing that Qiao Feng would suddenly ride a fast horse and catch up with them from the back. Fortunately, all along they did not see him. Bao Qianling was certainly a very clever person and Qi Liu and Xiang Wanghai were also extraordinary people in jianghu who had a lot of experience and extensive knowledge. But after the 3 of them discussed and made guesses on the way, they still could not understand what Qiao Feng's intentions were when he had said he would go to the hero banquet alone.

Qi Liu suddenly said: ‘Big brother Bao, did you see that big wagon beside Qiao Feng? I’m afraid there’s something strange in it.’ Xiang Wanghai said: ‘Could it be that there’s someone formidable hiding in the wagon?’ Bao Qianling said: ‘Even if the inside of the wagon was to be packed with people to the point that the air couldn’t pass through, it’d only be possible to shove 7 or 8 people into it. Adding Qiao Feng, there’d still be less than 10 people. If they went to the hero banquet, it’d be like a small boat going into the ocean. What would it be able to achieve?’

While they were talking, they gradually met more wulin fellows on the way, all of whom were rushing to Juxian Manor to attend the hero banquet. This time, the invitation to the hero banquet had been issued shortly before the opening and the invitation cards did not have the names of the guests, but whoever saw one of them would be welcomed as long as they were a person in wulin. The people who had received the invitation cards had used fast horses to forward them to their fellows in the same night, one person
 
forwarding to another, therefore within 1 day and 1 night the invitation cards had been spread very far. Because the time was too limited, most of the people who went to Juxian Manor were from within several hundreds of li of Shaolin Monastery. But Henan was a central region, hence besides local martial arts people, the well-known experts in wulin of the North and the South who had received the message all went to the meeting. The number of people was really not small.

This time, the invitation to the hero banquet was jointly issued by the You Clan’s 2 Heroes of Juxian Manor and ‘Yama’s Foe’ Divine doctor Xue. The You Clan’s 2 Heroes You Ji and You Ju were rich and powerful and had a wide circle of acquaintances, remarkable martial arts and resounding names, but they were not a formidable force in wulin; they could not be regarded as being people of noble character and high prestige to invite so many heroes and extraordinary people. But Divine doctor Xue was the person that everybody wanted to make friends with. Even though in general martial arts users were vainglorious, very few people were confident that they could fight without equal under heaven; even if they really flattered themselves that they were the #1 in martial arts nowadays, it was still difficult not to get sick or suffer injuries. If they could make friends with this Divine doctor Xue, they themselves would have an extra life because as long as they did not get killed on the spot and Divine doctor Xue was willing to treat them, they would narrowly escape death. Therefore, if the You Clan’s 2 Heroes invited guests, the people who received the invitation cards would only feel that they themselves were honored, but these were also the invitation cards by Divine doctor Xue, hence they were like a life saving talisman. They all thought, if today they got in touch and made friends with him, in the future, if they met unforeseen disasters or accidents he would not be able to ignore them; moreover, as people whose lives were put on the tip of the saber, who could be sure that they would not meet unforeseen disasters? The signatures on the invitation cards were 3 names ‘Xue Muhua, You Ji, You Ju’, followed by a line of small words: ‘You Ji and You Ju’s additional explanation: Mr Xue Muhua is addressed as ‘Divine doctor Xue’.’ If there had not been this line of small words, probably the receivers of the invitation cards would not have known what kind of highly able person Xue Muhua was, and hence the number of people going to
 
Juxian Manor would perhaps have been even less than 3/10th of what it was at the moment.

When the 3 people Bao Qianling, Qi Liu and Xiang Wanghai arrived at the manor, the 2nd brother You Ju personally came out to welcome. After entering the hall, they saw that there were already full of people sitting in the hall. Bao Qianling was not acquainted with all of them but as soon as he entered the hall, there were human voices all around, mostly saying: ‘Shopkeeper Bao, are you enjoying prosperity?’ ‘Old chap Bao, how has your business been doing?’ Bao Qianling continuously folded his hands in salute and greeted all the heroes. He really did not dare to be careless as even though many of these heroes in jianghu were generous and open- minded, there were also not just a few narrow-minded people. If he forgot to give someone a nod or a smile in return, he would possibly unconsciously displease them, thus causing endless future troubles; even if it led to a fatal disaster, this also would not be something strange.

You Ju led him to the top position in the east. Divine doctor Xue stood up and said: ‘Brother Bao, brother Qi, brother Xiang, the esteemed presence of the 3 of you here really makes me feel as if my face is covered in gold. I extremely appreciate it.’ Bao Qianling promptly returned the salute and said: ‘Once Master Xue has beckoned, even if Bao Qianling was so sick that I couldn’t move, I would still ask other people to carry me here.’ The big brother You Ji laughed and said: ‘If you were really bedridden, you’d wanna ask other people to take you here to meet Master Xue even more!’ The people around all laughed heartily. You Ju said: ‘The 3 of you have had a tiring journey, please go to the rear hall to have a snack.’

Bao Qianling said: ‘It won’t be late to have a snack later. May I ask a question? Is Qiao Feng among the guests that Master Xue and the 2 Masters You invite this time?’

When Divine doctor Xue and the You Clan’s 2 Heroes heard the 2 words ‘Qiao Feng’, their faces slightly changed colors. You Ji said: ‘This time we’ve sent out invitation cards without guest names. Whoever sees them is invited. Brother Bao has mentioned Qiao Feng, what’s your intention? Brother Bao and that Qiao Feng guy have quite a friendship, right?’
 
Bao Qianling said: ‘That Qiao Feng guy said he was going to Juxian Manor to attend the great banquet for heroes.’

As soon as he said so, the crowd was startled. At first everyone in the big hall had been talking noisily and in a high-flown way, but all of a sudden, everyone became quiet. The people who were standing far from Bao Qianling could not hear what he had just said, but suddenly finding that no one was saying anymore they themselves also stopped saying what they had not yet finished. The big hall fell silent instantly, but the distant sounds of people drinking wine in the rear hall and of people talking and laughing in the corridor could be heard.

Divine doctor Xue asked: ‘Brother Bao, how do you know that Qiao Feng guy is gonna come here?’

Bao Qianling said: ‘I, brother Qi and brother Xiang personally heard that. It’s a shame to say, but last night the 3 of us took a serious tumble.’ Xiang Wanghai continuously gave him signals with his eyes, wanting to tell him not to relate the shameful incident of the night before. But Bao Qianling knew Divine doctor Xue and the You Clan’s 2 Heroes were undoubtedly highly capable, there were also many intelligent people in the hero meeting, if he himself hid a bit, it would definitely cause other people to be suspicious. This matter was very important; he himself had become entangled in the maelstrom, if he dealt with it just a bit improperly, his status and reputation would instantly go out the window. He slowly took the flexible whip out from his waist. The piece of paper which had the 4 words ‘Qiao Feng paying respects’ was still sticking to it. He passed the flexible whip to Divine doctor Xue using both hands and said: ‘Qiao Feng ordered the 3 of us to pass on a message that today he was going to Juxian Manor.’ After that, he recounted things such as how they had met Qiao Feng and what he had said, not holding back even a single word. Xiang Wanghai continuously stamped, his whole face reddened with shame.

After Bao Qianling calmly recounted everything, he said: ‘This Qiao Feng guy is from the Khitan dog ethnicity, we should still eliminate him even if he was noble and righteous, let alone the fact that his evil has become obvious and he’s an increasingly intense danger. If he runs off to distant
 
parts, it’ll be hard to hunt him down. But Heaven really has its will, who could have expected that he would willingly hurl himself into the net?’

You Ju muttered: ‘I’ve usually heard that Qiao Feng is both brave and resourceful. His abilities are sufficient for him to successfully do evil. He’s not a reckless lout. Could it be that he really dares to go to this great banquet for heroes?’

Bao Qianling said: ‘I’m afraid he has other wicked plans. We mustn’t be without caution. The more people the more ideas. Let’s plan together, everyone.’

While he was saying, many more heroes and extraordinary people arrived at the outside, including ‘Impartial Judge’ Shan Zheng and his 5 sons, Grandpa Tan, Granny Tan and Zhao Qiansun. Before long, the 2 high-level monks of Shaolin School Xuan Nan and Xuan Ji also arrived. Divine doctor Xue and the You Clan’s brothers welcomed and sincerely received them one by one. When mentioning the evil of Qiao Feng, they all raged.

Suddenly, the housekeeper who received guests came in and reported: ‘Elder Xu of the Beggar Society has led the Elder of Merit Propagation, the Elder of Rule Enforcement and the 4 Elders Song, Xi, Chen and Wu to our Manor for a visit.’

Everyone shivered with fear. The Beggar Society was the number 1 large society in jianghu and could not be held in contempt. Xiang Wanghai said: ‘As expected, the Beggar Society has come here in great force to express support for Qiao Feng.’ Shan Zheng said: ‘Qiao Feng has already been expelled from the society. He’s no longer the Beggar Society’s Chief. I saw with my own eyes that they turned their backs on and became the enemies of one another.’ Xiang Wanghai said: ‘But at this point they haven’t necessarily forgotten all the old feelings.’ You Ji said: ‘All of the Beggar Society’s elders are proud brave men. How could they disregard rights and wrongs to protect their enemy? If they still helped Qiao Feng, wouldn’t they become Han traitors to the country?’ Everyone nodded in approval and said: ‘Definitely not even a good-for-nothing would wanna be a Han traitor to the country.’
 
Divine doctor Xue and the You Clan’s 2 Heroes went out of the manor to welcome. Seeing that there were only 12 or 13 people of the Beggar Society coming, they felt relaxed and thought: ‘Needless to say, these beggars are unlikely to protect Qiao Feng. Even if they were up to no good this time, with these 12 or 13 people, what would they be able to achieve?’ They greeted the people such as Elder Xu perfunctorily then invited them to enter the big hall. They could see a worried expression on the faces of all of the Beggar Society’s people. Obivously these people were bearing a very heavy load on their minds.

After splitting into hosts and guests, everyone sat down. Elder Xu started the conversation: ‘Brother Xue and the 2 laodi (younger male friend) of the You Family, today you invite all the heroes to gather here, is it because of the newly emerging cause of trouble in wulin Qiao Feng?’

After the heroes heard him call Qiao Feng ‘the newly emerging cause of trouble in wulin’, they looked at each other, and without prior consultation they all let out a sigh of relief. You Ji said: ‘It’s exactly for this reason. Elder Xu and every elder of your noble society come here together. This is really a great luck to wulin. If we want to kill this foreign dog, we must get the nod from the elders of your noble society. Otherwise, it would provoke misunderstanding and damage the harmony, making everyone unavoidably regret.’

Elder Xu let out a deep sigh and said: ‘This man is extremely ruthless and vicious, and acts strangely. Originally, he achieved quite a few great feats for our society. Recently, when we made mistakes and were plotted against by crooks, it was also him who saved us. But when a dazhangfu (an ambitious or successful man) conducts himself he should attach most importance to the general situation, so we have no choice but to banish those few small kindnesses from our minds. He’s a mortal enemy of our Great Song. The Elders of our Society have been treated well by him, but we can’t abandon public righteousness because of personal gratitude. They say righteousness must be placed above family loyalty, let alone the fact that now he isn’t a relative of our Society’s people’s.’

As soon as he said that, everyone in the crowd applauded and cheered.
 
You Ji then mentioned that Qiao Feng also wanted to attend the great banquet for heroes. When the elders heard that, all of them were astonished. Having followed Qiao Feng for a long time, they knew that he always acted with both valor and strategy, if he really single-handedly came to Juxian Manor, it would be extremely unusual.

Xiang Wanghai suddenly said: ‘I think that Qiao Feng guy has deliberately created a diversionary front to make everyone kick their heels in here, but he has slipped away to somewhere no one knows. This is called the tactic of escaping by using crafty schemes.’ Elder Wu stretched out his hand, gave the table a heavy slap and scolded: ‘Escaping your mother by using crafty schemes! What kind of man is Qiao Feng? Once he says something, how could he not keep his words?’ Scolded by him, Xiang Wanghai’s face reddened. He said angrily: ‘You wanna appear in public to support Qiao Feng, right? I, Xiang, am the first to disapprove of it. Come here; come here; come here. Let’s have a fight.’

After hearing all kinds of news that Qiao Feng had killed his parents and master then caused a big disturbance at Shaolin Monastery, Elder Wu had been very depressed, his heart had been filled with resentment and rage and he did not know who he should vent his feelings on. Hence this Xiang Wanghai guy unreasonably challenging Elder Wu was really most welcomed by him. In a flash, he jumped into the courtyard in front of the big hall and said loudly: ‘Qiao Feng is from the Khitan dog ethnicity or is completely a Han man? At this moment it’s still unclear. If he’s really a Khitan barbarian I’ll be the 1st to fight him to the death. Wanna kill Qiao Feng? Even if counting to the person numbered 1000, it still wouldn’t be your turn, you stinking turtle egg (~ s.o.b). Who the heck are you to gab in here? Escaping your grandmother by using stinking crafty schemes! Come here, your father’s gonna teach you a lesson.’

Xiang Wanghai’s face had already turned livid. A ‘shua’ sound was heard, he had drawn the saber out of its sheath. As soon as he looked at the blade, he remembered the piece of paper which read ‘Qiao Feng paying respects’ and could not help feeling at a loss.

You Ji said: ‘The two of you are my honorable guests. Please have some consideration for my face. We cannot lose harmony.’ Elder Xu also said:
 
‘Brother Wu, you shouldn’t be rash in your actions. You must take into account the reputation of the whole Society’s.’

Suddenly someone in the crowd said in a soft voice: ‘Having produced such a person as Qiao Feng, the Beggar Society really has a very good reputation. You must take it into account and preserve it carefully!’

As soon as the Beggar Society’s extraordinary men heard that, they shouted furiously: ‘Who’s saying that?’ ‘Come out if you have skills. What kind of brave man would hide in the crowd to be a dwarf?’ ‘Which goddamn turtle egg is that?’

But after saying those sentences that person kept silent, hence no one knew who had just said those words. Being ridiculed with those 2 sentences, the extraordinary people from the Beggar Society were totally annoyed but because they could not find anyone who admitted saying so, they could not do anything either. Even though the Beggar Society was the number 1 large society in jianghu, the extraordinary men of the Society were all beggars. After all, they were not upper-class people who paid particular attention to formalities, hence some of them shouted and some even cursed other people’s 18 generations of ancestors.

Divine doctor Xue frowned and said: ‘All of you please calm down and hear this senile old man say a few words.’ The beggars gradually became quiet.

Suddenly, in the crowd, that cold voice said again: ‘Very good, very good, Qiao Feng has sent this many formidable guys to here to carry out undercover tasks. After a while, there’ll definitely be a good play to watch.’

As soon as the people such as Elder Wu heard that, they got even angrier. Shua-shua sounds were heard continuously; dazzling lights of sabers were seen; many people had taken out their weapons. The rest of the guests only thought that the Beggar Society’s people wanted to fight therefore many of them also took out their weapons. With a lot of shouting and cursing, the hall was plunged into disorder. Divine doctor Xue and the You Clan’s brothers advised everyone to calm down, but the shouts by the 3 of them only added to the uproar in the hall.
 
In this chaos, a servant hurriedly ran into the hall. He ran up to You Ji's side and whispered something to him. You Yi's face darkened as he asked the servant something. The servant, his face full of fear and surprise, pointed to the outside. You Ji turned and whispered something to Divine Doctor Xue, causing his face to drop as well. You Ju walked up to his older brother's side and You Ji told him as well. You Ju's face dropped immediately.

One man told 2, 2 men told 4, and just like that the word spread among the crowd. In an instant, the noisy and chaotic hall was in complete silence.

Because everyone had heard the words by now: "Qiao Feng is here!"

Divine Doctor Xue nodded towards the You brothers and shot a look towards Xuan Nan and Xuan Ju, the 2 ShaoLin representatives before declaring: "Let him in!"

The servant turned and walked out.

Everyone's heart was beating a mile a minute, despite of the fact that all of them knew that with their numeric advantage, they could overwhelm Qiao Feng and chop him into a million pieces in an instant. But this man was just too famous, and coming here all by himself like this, obviously he wasn't afraid, don't know what kind of devious plot he is pulling.

In the silence, the only sounds one can hear is the steady beat of horse hooves and the low rumble of wheels on stone-slabs as a donkey carriage approached the front door. But it didn't stop there and just walked in through the door. The You brothers were both frowning heavily, feeling that they have been slighted by this show of manners, or lack thereof. "Ge- Dong". "Ge-Dong". The wheels of the carriage hopped over the door sill. A huge man, with a whip in his hand, was sitting on the driver's seat. The curtains of the carriage were down, hiding something in the carriage. But everyone was staring at the driver.

Square-faced and tall with a wide chest and huge shoulders, his eyes weren't angry but demanded attention and instilled fear. Who else could it be but former leader of the Beggar Clan Qiao Feng?
 
Qiao Feng put the whip down besides him and hopped off the carriage. Cupping his fist, he said: "I heard that Divine Doctor Xue and the You Brothers were hosting a Gathering of Heroes here at JuXian Mansion. I can't consider myself a 'hero' and don't dare attend such a gathering. It's just that there's an emergency I have to ask of Divine Doctor Xue. I hope you will forgive me for such an intrusion."

He bowed deeply, looking very sincere.

The more polite Qiao Feng acted, the more convinced the rest of them were that he's got something up his sleeves. You Ju gave his left hand a slight flick and 4 of his disciples immediately snuck out from the sides to inspect the surrounding areas.

"What does Brother Qiao want of me?" Divine Doctor Xue cupped his fist back and asked.

Qiao Feng took 2 steps back, moved the carriage curtains aside and helped Ah-Zhu out.

"Because of my rash actions, this girl was hit by another's palm and was severely injured. In this world, nobody but Divine Doctor Xue could help her. That's why I was so rude to come here, to ask Divine Doctor Xue to save her life."

When everyone saw the carriage, they all got suspicious about what was inside. Some guessed that it was probably some poison or bomb, others thought it was some poisonous snakes or ferocious beasts, and still others guessed it was Divine Doctor Xue's parents or relatives that Qiao Feng was going to use to blackmail him. Nobody could have guessed that it would be a 16 or 17 year old girl that would be stepping out of the carriage asking Divine Doctor Xue for help. Everyone was surprised.

The girl was wearing a light yellow colored shirt and had a very pronounced forehead, making her look very unattractive. Turned out that Ah-Zhu decided that the MuRong family of GuSu had too many enemies out in the martial world and there was a chance if Divine Doctor Xue found out who she was that he would refuse to help her. So she went out and
 
bought a new set of clothes and put on a disguise in the carriage. However, since she was going to see the doctor, she couldn't disguise herself as a man or an old woman.

This turn of events caught Divine Doctor Xue off guard as well. In his life, he had seen plenty of people coming to him from faraway to seek his medical help, it happens almost every day. But presently, with everyone trying to figure out how to catch and kill Qiao Feng, this despicable and incorrigible villain would just walk up in here and trap himself. It was quite a hard pill to swallow.

Looking Ah-Zhu over, he decided that Qiao Feng could not possibly be doing this out of lust because of her unattractiveness and young age. Suddenly, an idea hit him: "Maybe this little gal is his younger sister? Um, not possible. This man killed his parents and his master as well, there's no way he would take such a risk over his younger sister. Maybe it's his daughter? I don't remember hearing that Qiao Feng got married." {Qiao Feng didn't do it, he was framed}

Being the great doctor he was, he could always tell the health of people with one glance as well as their bodily characteristics. Seeing Qiao Feng and Ah-Zhu standing side by side, with one big and strong, the other small and weak, the two of them had nothing in common. Therefore he decided that they were not related at all.

"What is this young miss's surname?" He said after humming a little while his thought worked itself out. "And what relation is she with you, sir?"

Qiao Feng was taken a back a bit. He had called Ah-Zhu nothing but "Ah- Zhu" ever since they met, but was her surname really "Zhu"? He didn't know. So he turned to Ah-Zhu and asked.

"Is your surname Zhu?"

"My surname is Wan," Ah-Zhu replied with a smile.

Qiao Feng nodded. "Divine Doctor Xue, her surname is actually Wan. I just found that out myself."
 
"So… this young miss and you aren't well acquainted?" Divine Doctor Xue found that this was getting stranger and stranger.

"She's a maid of a friend of mine." {Ah-Zhu is MuRong Fu's maid}

"Who is that friend of yours sir? Must be very important to you sir, or else how could you care so much for your friend's maid?"

"That friend is only my friend in spirit," Qiao Feng shook his head, "I have never met him before."

An audible gasp escaped from nearly everyone present when they heard this. Most of them didn't believe him, thinking that he must be carrying out some plan and was just using this as an excuse to get in. But still, a good number of them knew that Qiao Feng had always been a very straightforward man, no matter what kind of terrible things he might have done, he probably wouldn't lie in front of everyone because of the pride he had in who he was.

Divine Doctor Xue reached out and felt Ah-Zhu's pulse. Noticing that her pulse was indeed very weak but the life force {for lack of a better word} inside her was very strong, totally opposite of what one would expect. He switched and felt Ah-Zhu pulse through her left wrist. By then he had already figured out everything.

"Had this girl not been fed the incredible Elixir of Master Tan of Mount TaiHeng and not received your constant infusion of inner force, she would have died a long time ago from the Abbot Xuan Ci's Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm." He said to Qiao Feng. {That's what Da Jin Gang Zhang translates to}

This caused quite a stir from the crowd. Master Tan and Grandma Tan looked at each other, wondering: "How did she get fed our Elixir?" {Ah- Zhu stole it from them, I think, don't quite remember}

XuanNan and XuanJu was even more astonished: "When did our Abbot hit a girl with Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm? And if she really did get hit by it, how in the world could she have survived?"
 
"Doctor Xue," XuanNan had to speak up, "our Abbot had not left the premise of our humble temple for years now. And women aren't allowed into ShaoLin Temple. So this Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm could not have come from my elder martial brother."

Divine Doctor Xue frowned: "Is there anyone else in the world who knows this Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm?"

That question quieted both XuanNan and XuanJu. They have been at ShaoLin for several decades now and were taught by the same master as XuanCi, they worked as hard as possible and tried as hard as they might. But this Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm still required some natural born talent and neither was able to master it. But neither one was bitter nor regret trying, for they knew that only once several centuries in the history of ShaoLin does someone with enough martial arts genius come along to master this palm skill. There were times when nobody among the hundreds of monks in the temple knew it, but it was never lost because of the great pains that the monks of the past generations took to to record down the details of training for such a skill.

"Did she really get hit by Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm?" XuanJu wanted to ask. But he stopped himself before he did. For asking such a question would be questioning the skills of Divine Doctor Xue, which would have been incredibly rude and unseemly. So instead he turned to Qiao Feng.

"Last night you snuck into ShaoLin and killed my martial brother XuanKu. At that time you had been hit once by Abbot's Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm. Had that palm hit this girl, how could she have survived?" He inquired accusingly.

"Father XuanKu is my master and I am indebted to him forever." Qiao Feng shook his head in response. "Until I repay him for everything he has done for me, I would rather die than harm him one bit."

"Still won't own up to it?" XuanJu angrily replied. "Then what about that ShaoLin disciple that you kidnapped? Did you not do that either?"
 
"The 'ShaoLin disciple' I took with me is right in front of you at this moment." Qiao Feng thought to himself. Instead he replied: "If Father insist on accusing me of kidnapping a ShaoLin disciple, then could you please tell me what is the name of the ShaoLin disciple that I have kidnapped."

XuanJu and XuanNan looked at each other, again, in stunned silence as neither one of them could say a thing. Last night, along with XuanCi, they had quite clearly saw Qiao Feng take a ShaoLin disciple with him as he was escaping. Yet when they checked afterwards, nobody was missing. This was one riddle that they could not figure out for the life of them.

"Brother Qiao, all by himself, snuck into and out of ShaoLin last night without a single injury and still was able to kidnap a ShaoLin disciple with him. That's rather hard to believe." Divine Doctor Xue cut in. "There must be something going on here that you are not telling us about."

"I didn't kill Father XuanKu, and I certainly did not kidnap a ShaoLin disciple last night either. There's a lot of things that you guys don't understand, and there's a lot of things that I don't understand either." Qiao Feng replied.

"No matter what," XuanNan declared, "this young miss could not have been injured by my martial brother, the Abbot. The Abbot is a respected and enlightened leader of a sect. How could he possibly bring himself to hit a young miss such as her? No matter what this young miss is guilty of, my martial brother would not stoop to her level and hit her." {This is sort of a put down, but not really. Etiquette and protocol calls for the leader of a sect to ignore the misgivings of youths and people in a lower position}

Qiao Feng figured: "It's probably better that they insist that Ah-Zhu wasn't injured by Abbot XuanCi. Otherwise Divine Doctor Xue might, because of ShaoLin, refuse to heal her." So he decided to just push the boat down the river and go along with it.

"Of course, Abbot XuanCi is forever benevolent and would never hurt a girl like her so. Most likely it's somebody disguising as a ShaoLin master causing trouble, hurting people, and spreading rumors." Qiao Feng said.
 
XuanJu and XuanNan looked at each other, again, and slowly nodded: "This bastard Qiao Feng may be villainous, but these couple of words are very reasonable."

Ah-Zhu was giggling inside: "What Master Qiao said is completely true, there really was somebody disguised as a ShaoLin monk, causing trouble and spreading rumors. Only the person who the pretender was trying to be wasn't Abbot XuanCi but Monk ZhiQing."

But how could XuanJu, XuanNan, Divine Doctor Xue, and the rest of them figure out the real meaning behind Qiao Feng's words?

Seeing XuanJu and XuanNan's reaction, Divine Doctor Xue decided that it was ok to move on. "So, it seems that there's actually another person in the world that knows Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm," He continued his diagnoses. "When this person made his move, something was in the way and much of the power of his strike was dissipated. That's how Miss Wan was able to survive the strike. That person's strike power is probably on par with that of Abbot XuanCi's"

Qiao Feng had to admire the doctor: "Much Abbot XuanCi's strike's power was indeed blocked with my bronze shield. Divine Doctor Xue is truly amazing to be able to describe all of this just by simply measuring Ah-Zhu's pulse. Looks like there's hope that he would heal Ah-Zhu."

Smiling, he said: "If this young girl would die from Buddha's Great Attendant Palm, then it would cause ShaoLin to lose some face. So I beg Divine Doctor Xue to cure her." He bowed as he finished.

"Who hit you? Where were you when you got hurt? Where is that person now?" XuanJu asked Ah-Zhu before Divine Doctor Xue could reply. He was worried over the reputation of ShaoLin and decided that he must get to the bottom of this.

Ah-Zhu, unlike the serious and measured Qiao Feng, was a fun loving girl who tells harmless lies and makes stuff up all the time. So at this point, she figured: "These monks are all afraid of master, so why don't I just bring him
 
into this and scare them a little?" {Ah-Zhu is really just Huang Rong without any knowledge of kungfu}

"That person is a young gentleman, very handsome and suave looking, around 28 or 29 years old. This Master Qiao and I was just talking about how amazing Divine Doctor Xue is. He's not just the best in the world, he's just about the best there ever was and ever will be. There's nobody like him before and almost surely nobody as good will come in the future. Even the gods and goddesses in the heavens aren't as great."

There isn't a single person in this world who doesn't like hearing his own praise. Divine Doctor Xue had heard so many praise like this in his life time that he had lost count a long time ago. But this is the first time that he had ever heard praise from an articulate young girl. Plus the fact that she was exaggerating shamelessly. He could not help but stroke his beard and smile at the praise.

Qiao Feng, however, was frowning: "What is she talking about? This gal is making stuff up like crazy."

"That's when I said: 'With Divine Doctor Xue in the world, we don't have to bother learning kungfu anymore.'" Ah-Zhu continued. "Master Qiao asked: 'Why not?' I said: 'Divine Doctor Xue could even resurrect a dead person, then what's the point of learning kungfu? You kill one, he cures one; you kill 2, he heals a pair. Aren't we just wasting our efforts for nothing?'"

She was articulate and her voice was easy on the ear. And even though she's injured, and was imitating the QingCheng Sect disciples in their SiChuan dialect, this spiel sounded like marbles rolling around in a jade bowl and was a pleasure to listen to.

Everyone smiled at her talk, some even laughed out loud.

But Ah-Zhu didn't smile at all as she continued: "There was this young gentleman sitting by us listening to us talk. He suddenly snickered and said: 'The strike powers of people in this world are mostly weak and completely devoid of inner force. That doctor named Xue is not worthy of such a lofty of status. Let's see if he can't heal this palm strike of mine.' As he said that,
 
he struck out towards me through air. I thought he was joking with me because he was so far way. But Master Qiao was shock…."

"And he stuck his arm out to block it?" XuanJu interrupted.

"No!" Ah-Zhu shook her head and continued. "Had Master Qiao stuck his arm out to block, then I wouldn't have been hurt. But Master Qiao was too far away from me to do that, so instead he picked up a chair and threw it over. His timing was just right and with a huge crack, the chair was smashed into pieces by the force of that young gentleman's palm strength. That young gentleman spoke is such a soft SuZhou dialect, but there was nothing soft about his kungfu. I immediately felt as if I was weightless, as if I had flown into the clouds, without a single ounce of strength left in my body. Then I heard that he say: 'Go and tell that Divine Doctor Xue of yours to go flip a couple more medical books and get a little practice. That way when he has to do the same thing for Abbot XuanCi in the future he would know what to do.'"

"What did he mean by that?" XuanNan frowned.

"He seemed to say that he would use this Buddha's Great Warrior Attendant Palm on Abbot XuanCi in the future." Ah-Zhu replied.

"Ooooh!" Almost everyone in the crowd uttered in unison. Several more people simultaneously added: "Using your own method, back onto yourself!"

"So it is GuSu MuRong!" A couple of other people chimed in, making sure to add the "so it is" part in so as to tell everyone else that they suspected as much a long time ago.

Nobody knew that Ah-Zhu was doing because of ShaoLin's wrongful accusation of her Master MuRong. Figuring that sooner of later he and ShaoLin's misunderstanding was going to come to a head, she figured that she might as well make something up to boast her Master MuRong a bit and scare ShaoLin at the same time.
 
Suddenly, You Ju cut in: "Brother Qiao just said a while ago that it was somebody disguised as a ShaoLin master in order to cause trouble who injured this young miss. But this young miss said it was a young gentleman who injured her instead. Who's telling the truth here?" "There's also some people disguised as ShaoLin monks as well." Ah-Zhu immediately replied. "I saw 2 monks who claimed they were from ShaoLin, but they stole black dog from a family, killed it, and ate it."

She knew she had made a mistake in her lies, so she immediately went off on a tangent and changed the subject.

Knowing that she wasn't really telling the truth, Divine Doctor Xue couldn't make up her mind whether or not to try and treat her. He looked over at XuanJu and XuanNan before turning towards You Ji and You Ju, and then finally turned his eyes towards Qiao Feng and Ah-Zhu.

"Divine Doctor Xue," Qiao Feng spoke up, "if you save this girl today. I, Qiao Feng, would be forever indebted to you."

"Forever indebted to me?" Divine Doctor Xue sneered. "Do you actually plan on walking out of JuXian Mansion alive today?"

"Dead or alive, it doesn't really matter. But this young girl's injuries had to be treated by you, doctor."

"Why should I save her?" Divine Doctor Xue casually asked.

"Save one life, 7 steps closer to Paradise. Divine Doctor Xue is a respected member of the martial world and surely could not bare to let an innocent girl like her die needlessly."

"If anyone else asked me, I would treat this girl. Hmph. But if you asked me, then I wouldn't."

Qiao Feng's face immediately stiffened as he sincerely declared: "The heroes are gathered today at JuXian Mansion to discuss how to get me, I know that."
 
"Ai-yo!" Ah-Zhu cut in. "Master Qiao, if that's the case, then you shouldn't have taken such a risk for me."

"I thought that since everyone here is a real man and know the difference between right and wrong." Qiao Feng continued. "The person you want to kill is me and me alone. This young girl has nothing to do with this. Divine Doctor Xue would actually move his hatred of me onto this young Miss Wan. How could that be right?"

Divine Doctor Xue had no comeback for what he said. Only after a long pause did he finally say: "Whether or not to treat a person is my decision and mine alone, others can't force me to do it. Qiao Feng, with your terrible crimes, we were just talking about how to catch you, chop you into a million pieces so as to avenge your parents and master. But instead you came walking in instead. That's better than anything we could hope for. Why don't you just end it yourself right here?"

He flicked his right hand a little. Everyone in the crowd gave a shout and unsheathed their weapons. The hall shimmered in the almost blinding reflected light of the weapons. There were countless amounts of sabres and daggers, axes and whips. This was followed by another loud cheer from up above as the ceiling was suddenly filled with people as well, guarding every piece of the room.

Qiao Feng had been in plenty of huge battles and fights in his life. But he was usually leading the Beggar Clan into to battle and hence usually had the numerical superiority over his foes. Never had he ever been trapped in such a predicament all by himself, not to mention there's a severely injured girl at his side. How exact does he get out of this? He had no idea and his heart began to pound.

Ah-Zhu was even more frightened as she began to cry. "Master Qiao, just get out of here. Don't worry about me. They have no issues with me and wouldn't hurt me." "That's right, these people are all good people. They would never harm her for no reason. It's probably best for me to get out of here as soon as possible." Qiao Feng thought. "A real man should treat other's life like his own. Divine Doctor Xue hasn't promised to treat her yet.
 
Her life is not saved yet, how could I be so afraid to die and leave her like this?"

Looking around, he could see that there was several famous martial arts masters present, quite a number of them he knew personally, all of them possessing great skills. But with this, the blood in his veins began to warm up: "So what if I died here? Real men should live joylessly and die fearlessly."

He let out a hearty laugh: "You all say that I am Khitan and want to get rid of this stone from your shoes. Hehe, am I Han or am I Khitan? Even I don't know."

"That's right, you are a mutt, a bastard! Only that even you yourself don't know what kind of bastard you are!" A thin and squeaky voice suddenly said from amidst the crowd. This was the same person who had made fun of the Beggar Clan earlier. But since he just says a couple of words at a time, nobody knew who it was. Everyone looked to where the voice came from, but saw no lips moving. If you say that it came from a short person, there was no short person present either.

Hearing those words, Qiao Feng quietly observed for a long time before nodding a bit and moving on. Turning around to Divine Doctor Xue: "If I was Han, how could I forgive you for your insult today? If I really am a Khitan, the sworn enemy of everything that is of the Great Song, the first person I would kill would be you, so to avoid me killing one hero of the Great Song and you saving one patriot of Great Song. Right?"

"That's right." Divine Doctor Xue replied. "No matter what happens, you are going to kill me."

"I ask you to save this girl today and exchange one life for another. If you save her, I would never even touch your hair."

"In all my life, I have only listened to other beg, not threats." Divine Doctor Xue coldly sneered.
 
"A life for another. It is as fair of an exchange as you can get, it's not threat."

"Aren't you the least bit ashamed?" That squeaky voice suddenly said. "You are going to become meat sauce under everyone's lives and you are still talking about showing mercy and letting others live? You…."

"Get the hell out of here!" Qiao Feng suddenly screamed at the top of his lungs, causing the roof tiles to shake and the dust to come falling off of the ceiling bars. Everyone's ears were buzzing from the scream and their hearts pounding.

A man stumbled out from the crowd as if he was drunk. He was wearing a green robe and his face was deathly gray. Nobody recognized him.

"Ah!" Master Tan suddenly shouted. "That's Tan Qing, the Soul Chasing Cane! That's right, he's "Overflowing Evil" Duan YanQing's disciple."

The Beggar Clan members, upon hearing that he's Wan YanQing's disciple, began cursing at him furiously. Turned out that soon after the West Xia martial arts master were captured using their own "Gentle Breeze of Sadness," Duan YanQing arrived. Nobody within the Beggar Clan was able to stand up to him as he cured those West Xia kungfu masters using an extremely bad smelling antidote and turned them towards the Beggar Clan, causing the Beggar Clan to take on huge losses. Everyone in the clan hates and fear Duan YanQing, knowing that without Qiao Feng, there's nobody in the clan that could stand up to this "World's Evilest Man" in the future. {If you read that part of the book, you don't feel sorry for the Beggar Clan after all, they deserved to be defeated and taught a lesson the way they treated Qiao Feng.}

Tan Qing's face was contorted almost beyond recognition, as if he was in great pain. His hands kept on grasping his chest as a voice came emanating from within his body: "I… I don't owe you anything and you not me, why… why did you have to do that?"

His voice was squeaky and sharp, but was staggered as if he couldn't catch his breath. But his lips did not move at all, to the amazement to most
 
everyone present. A few of the people present knew that he was using a skill to talk out of his stomach which, when used in conjunction with a high level of inner strength, could be used as a depressant which would confuse and even kill whoever that hears him. But when up against a person with stronger inner force, this skill would not only not work, but would backfire and hurt the practitioner.

"You are Duan YanQing's disciple?" Divine Doctor Xue angrily shouted at him. "This is a gathering of heroes, only the heroes of the world are allowed. How did such a low-life scum like you get in?"

"Gathering of heroes my * !" A voice suddenly said. "Looks more like a gathering of zeroes to me!"

When he said the first word, he was still far away, on top of the tall walls outside. But by the time he said the word "me," he had arrived with his voice. Jumping off of the tall wall, one could see that he unusually tall and incredibly fast. The people stationed on the roof tried to stop him by throwing their swords or hitting him through the air with their palm strikes, but all for naught as they were too slow and he was able to dodge out of the way. Quite a number of people in the hall recognized that he was "Evil Extreme" Yun ZhongHe. With a flick of his body, Yun ZhongHe had arrived inside of the hall. Grabbing a hold to Tan Qing, he shot directly towards Divine Doctor Xue. Fearing that he would kill Divine Doctor Xue, everyone in the hall immediately rushed up to protect him. But Yun ZhongHe had expected this and played a trick with them, feigning attack so as to retreat. Seeing everyone rush up to protect Divine Doctor Xue, he immediately jumped back and hopped onto the wall again.

There's plenty of martial arts masters in the room, and those whose kungfu are better than Yun ZhongHe number in the 40s if not the 50s. But because he had grabbed the initiative and caught everyone off guard, plus his superiors lightness kungfu, nobody was able to catch up to him once he had hopped onto the wall. Several people reached into their shirts for projectiles and those people on the roof tried to stop him again, but all looked too late.

"Stay here!" Qiao Feng shouted and struck out a palm strike through air. The force of the strike was like a formless blade, flying through air and hit
 
Yun ZhongHe squarely in his back.

Yun ZhongHe let out a suppressed moan as he fell flatly onto the ground, blood spilling out of his mouth like a fountain. Tan Qing was still standing though, just that he would stumble left a bit and then jump to the right, all the while humming a little tune. Quite a comic scene, only that nobody was laughing. Everyone was shocked by the horror that was playing out in front of their eyes.

Divine Doctor Xue knew that even though Yun ZhongHe was hurt badly, he could still be saved. But Tan Qing had already lost his soul and no amount of medicine of miracle cures in this world could save him anymore. Reflecting how Qiao Feng, with a casual scream and a palm strike, would inflict such incredible damage, he realized that if Qiao Feng want to take his life, there probably isn't anyone that could stop him. While he was reflecting, Tan Qing had stopped stumbling around and just stood there. The humming had seized as well and his eyes were wide open, but he wasn't breezing anymore.

Back when Tan Qing had insulted the Beggar Clan, the clan members were furious but had nobody to take it out on, so they were forced to swallow all that anger. But now, seeing how Qiao Feng took care of him, all of them cheered on the inside. The more straightforward ones like Elder Song and Elder Wu almost let out a shout of praise but held back, realizing that Qiao Feng was from Khitan.

But deep inside every one of their heart they thought: "If he was our leader, the Beggar Clan would never lose. Otherwise… Ay! The going is going get really tough from here on out, the Beggar Clan would never be return to its former glories."

Yun ZhongHe struggled up and stumbled out of the door. He took a couple of steps before throwing up another mouthful of blood. Seeing how badly he's injured, nobody felt like troubling him anymore as everyone thought: "He called this the 'Gathering of Zeroes', yet none of us could do anything about him. Ironically it was Qiao Feng who struck and made him pay for such an insult."
 
"Honorable Brothers You, I have met up with many friends here today who, after today, will be friends no longer." Qiao Feng turned towards the You Brothers. "I could not but feel sad, so I would like to ask you for some wine."

Everyone was caught off guard by his request. "Let's see what the hell he's going to do here." You Ju thought to himself as he instructed the servants to go fetch some wine. Because this was a planned gathering at JuXian Mansion, there was plenty of wine in stock and soon the servants came in with flasks of wine and cups to drink as well.

"These cups are just too small. Could you get something big to drink out of?" Qiao Feng replied.

Two servants went off and returned with several huge bowls and a newly opened jug of white wine. They placed them on the table in front of Qiao Feng and filled one bowl up with wine.

"Fill them all up!" Qiao Feng commanded and the 2 servants obeyed.

Lifting up one bowl in his hand, Qiao Feng turned towards the crowd: "Of the many heroes gathered here today, there are many who are old friends of mine. But since you are suspicious of me, I propose we drink our friendship away. If any friend wishes to take Qiao Feng's life, then come up and have a drink with me. Afterwards, our old friendship will history. If you kill me it's not betrayal, if I kill you it's not cross. Let the heroes of the world be our witness."

A coldness shot through everyone as the hall was completely silent. "If I go up and drink with him, he would undoubtedly try a sneak attack on me," each of them thought. "That close, how can I block that strike power of his?"

In this stunned silence, a woman dressed in funeral clothing suddenly walked out. It was Ma DaYuan's widow Madame Ma. "My husband died in your hands, this friendship that you spoke off ended a long time ago." she said in a grave voice as she lifted the bowl up to her lips and took a sip.
 
"I cannot drink the entire bowl. But the vengeance of my husband will be like this wine." She said as she slowly poured the wine that was left in the bowl onto the ground.

Qiao Feng looked her straight in the face and couldn't help but notice how beautiful and elegant she looked. It was dark that night in the apricot woods and the firelight was flickering, so he didn't get a chance to get a good look at her. Never could he had guessed that such a formidable woman would look so fragile and delicate. Without a word he picked up another bowl, drank its entire content in one breath, and signalled the servant at his side to fill the bowls again.

After Madame Ma walked back into the crowd. Elder Xu walked up and, without saying a word, drank an entire bowl of wine with Qiao Feng doing the same. Then came the Scribe Elder, after whom Enforcer Elder Bai ShiJing walked up. Just as he lifted up his bowl and was about to drink, Qiao Feng stopped him.

"Hold on!" "Brother Qiao, do you have something you want to say?" Bai ShiJing had always admired Qiao Feng and treated him with the utmost respect, and even now he was still the same, just that now he doesn't refer to Qiao Feng as "chief" anymore.

"We have been like brothers for so long now. Who could have known that we would end up being enemies?" Qiao Feng sighed.

"Brother Qiao's birth, I had heard rumors about it for a long time." Bai ShiJing replied, fighting back tears. "Back then I would not have believed it even if it meant my life. But now… now it really is true. If it wasn't because our country is at war, Bai ShiJing I would rather die than be Brother Qiao's enemy."

"I understand." Qiao Feng nodded. "Soon we will be friends no more and be enemies in battle. But I have a favor to ask."

"If it doesn't hurt my country, I would give my all."
 
Qiao Feng smiled and pointed to Ah-Zhu: "All brothers of the Beggar Clan, if you still feel the slightest beholden to me for what happened in the past, then all I ask of you is to insure this young miss's safety."

Everyone got the sense that it was almost as if he was asking others to take care of his orphan. For after drinking with his friend one-by-one, he would fight. Being surrounded by so many masters, even if he kills a good number of his foes, it was highly unlikely he was going to survive. Even though everyone in the crowd hates him for being Khitan and for committing such heinous crimes, they couldn't help but admire the courage in his actions.

Bai ShiJing had always had a good relationship with Qiao Feng, and upon hearing what is equivalent to his last wishes, he had to reply: "Don't worry Brother Qiao. Bai ShiJing I would personally beg Divine Doctor Xue to treat her. If anything should happen to Miss Wan, then I would kill myself so as to as for repent for Brother Qiao."

{Hate to give the story away, but LIES, ALL LIES!!}

He brought the bowl to his lips and drank the strong wine down in one breath. Qiao Feng did the same.

Elder Song, Elder Xi, and the rest of the Beggar Clan all came up and drank the wine with him. After the everyone in the Beggar Clan finished, the heroes and masters from other sects all walked up and drank.

The longer this spectacle went on, the more amazed everyone became. Qiao Feng had already drank at least 40 or 50 bowls of wine by now. The hug jug of strong wine had long since been killed and the servants had to go and fetch another jug. But Qiao Feng still looked sober and alert, other than the fact his belly was protruded a bit, there was no sign of anything different about him.

"Forget the fight, at this rate, he would drink to death," everyone thought.

But Qiao Feng was one of those people who grows more alert the more he drinks. These last couple of days all the frustrations from the false
 
accusations had been bottled up inside him, finally he just decided to just let it all out and drink to satisfaction before ending it all with a fight.

After even Bao QianLin and Fast Sabre Qi Liu had drank with him, Xiang WangHai walked up and picked a bowl up. "Hey you! I'm going to drink a bowl with you," he said in a rude tone.

Feeling the effects of the wine, Qiao Feng looked at him out of the corner of his eye and replied: "I'm drinking this friendship-ending drink with the heroes of the world to say that our friendships are a thing of the past. What have you done to deserve this drink? What friendship did I have with you?"

Not waiting for an answer, Qiao Feng took a step forward and grabbed his chest with his right hand. With a simple wave of his arm, Qiao Feng threw him out of the hall. Xiang WanHai hit the marble walls outside with a loud "bang" and instantly fainted.

At this, the hall descended into chaos.

Qiao Feng jumped out of the hall and into the yard before turning around to face the crowd. "Who want to come out here and fight to the death first?" He shouted at the top of his lungs. Seeing him standing there in all his glory, nobody dared to ran forth and challenge him.

"If you guys aren't going to start this off, then I'm going to!" Qiao Feng shouted.

"Bang!" "Bang!" Two men were already hit by his palm through the air and fell to the ground. Going along with his own momentum, he charged back into the hall and, with a flurry of fists and kicks mixed with palms and elbows, instantly took down several other fighters.

"Everyone, back up against the wall, don't get into a melee!" You Ji shouted.

There were more than 300 fighters within the hall. If they all charged up at once, there was no way Qiao Feng could fend them off no matter how good he was. It was just that when everyone was stuck together pushing against
 
one another, only 5 or 6 men was at Qiao Feng's side and could truly fight him. And even then, with all the weapons waving around, a lot of people were actually trying to protect themselves instead of attacking. But with You Ji's shout, the middle of the hall immediately emptied.

"Let's see how great the You Brothers of JuXian Mansion are!" Qiao Feng shouted as he lifted his left palm and sent a huge wine jug flying towards You Ji's face. You Ji put up both hands and was about to conjure up some inner force to bat the jug away. But unexpectedly Qiao Feng followed up with a right fist, which, with a loud bang, smashed the wine jug in a million pieces in mid-air. The sharp broken pieces and shards of the jug, pushed by the force of Qiao Feng's palm, were like hundreds of metal darts or daggers. Three pieces hit You Ji in the face, which was soon covered in blood. Several people at his sides were hit as well. The shouting and cursing of pain and warnings were deafening.

"Daddy! Daddy!" Suddenly a boy's cry could be heard coming from a corner of the hall. You Ji recognized the voice as that of his only son, You DanZhi's. Despite his predicament, he still found time to look over and see that You DanZhi's left cheek was covered in blood, having been hit by one of the piece of the jug.

"What are you doing here? Get back inside!" You Ji yelled.

"Yes sir!" You DanZhi replied and snuck back behind a column but still stuck out his head to watch the fight.

{He was introduced as a wounded character, is there any doubt that Jin Yong created YDZ to suffer?}

Qiao Feng kicked with his left foot and another jug flew off. Just as he was about to add another palm strike to smash it, he suddenly felt a soft and gentle palm force approaching him from behind. Even those the force of the strike was gentle and soft, it was very powerful and backed up with a quite strong inner force. Knowing that it had came from a strong foe, Qiao Fend did not dare to wait any longer and immediately returned a palm strike back in response.
 
The 2 forces met and both sides were slightly taken aback and needed a moment to collect themselves. When Qiao Feng took a good look at who his foe was, he saw a weird looking ugly man. It was none other than Zhao QianSun. "He has a tremendous inner force, got to be careful of him." Qiao Feng told himself as he drew in another breath and unleashed a second, mountain-splitting palm strike out at him.

Knowing that he could not stand up to this strike with just one palm, Zhao QianSun brought up both of his palm in an effort to block the incoming strike.

{Yet even more evidence that having 2 hands is a huge advantage to only one hand, are you paying attention those of you who maintain Yang Guo can beat Guo Jing?}

"Don't you want to live anymore?" A female voice came from the side as he was suddenly pulled over to the side and just avoided Qiao Feng's strike.

But the force of the Qiao Feng's palm still came rolling in, hitting the 3 men behind Zhao QianSun head on and sent them flying into the wall, kicking up a huge amount of dust and knocking loose a couple pieces of the wall.

Turning around, Zhao QianSun saw that it was Grandma Tan who had pulled him away. He was overjoyed: "Xiao Juan, you saved me!"

{Their relationship, or lack there of, was the source of quite a bit of comedy earlier in the book. Anyhoot, Juan means beautiful and graceful and Xiao means little. It is quite an affectionate term, too affectionate for a man to use on another man's wife.}

"I'll attack his left and you attack his right." Grandma Tan said.

Just as Zhao QianSun nodded his head and said "ok," a short and skinny old man charged toward Qiao Feng. It was Grandpa Tan.

Even though he had quite a small built, his kungfu was quite formidable. As his left palm struck out, his right palm immediately followed, at which he pulled back his left hand and struck out with it again. Three palm strikes in
 
a row, just like 3 consecutive waves, one after another, each building on the other until it was released all at once with a force 3 times more powerful than his normal palm strike.

"Wonderful! 'Three Rolling Waves of the Yangtze!'" Qiao Feng shouted as he waved out his left palm.

The 2 forces collided violently, pushing many spectators on the side away. At this time, Zhao QianSun and Grandma Tan's attacks arrived as well. They were soon followed by the Beggar Clan as Elder Xu, Elder Cheng, and many other elders joined the foray.

"Brother Qiao, Khitan is the sworn nemesis of our Great Song. We are only doing this for our country, forgive us!" Scribe Elder shouted.

"We have already drank our friendship away, why so polite? En guarde!" Qiao Feng replied with a laugh as he stuck his left foot out at him.

Despite what he said, because of what they went through together, not only could he not bring himself to take away the lives of his Beggar Clan brothers, he did not want to make them look back in front of others. So as he stuck his foot half way out, he suddenly switched directions.

Fast Sabre Qi Liu let out an unusual yelp and took off. He didn't jump, but was kicked by Qiao Feng in his stomach. He was prepared to slash down with his sabre onto Qiao Feng's head, but because his body took off, this slash went astray. With a loud thud, his sabre came down upon one of the support beams on the ceiling. With the force he put into the chop, the cut was several centimeters deep and his sabre actually got stuck within the cut. This particular sabre was the prized weapon of Fast Sabre Qi Liu, it was the weapon that made him famous. So, facing such a formidable foe, he could not bring himself to let go of the sabre as he grasped the handle of the sabre tightly as he could with his right hand. In doing this, he doomed himself to hang in the air. It was quite an unusual situation, but everyone down in the hall was staring death in the face and nobody dared to even spare a moment to even take a look at him, much less laugh at his predicament.
 
Ever since he joined the martial world, Qiao Feng had never lost a single one of his hundreds of battles. Not only that, even though he had fought against many a martial arts masters, he had never been in much danger. By now the effects of the wine, with the help of his huge exertion of inner force, had really taken hold. As his palms danced around the air, none of the master present was able get close to him.

Despite his astonishing medical skills, Divine Doctor Xue's kungfu left something to be desired. He was a true genius when it came to medicine, it was as if he knew it all without even being taught. Even so, he had been interested in martial arts as a small kid and his master was an even more amazing and knowledgeable master. However, a number of years ago, Divine Doctor Xue and all 7 of his martial brothers were all kicked out by his master at the same time. Not willing to find another master, he instead took to another route, exchanging his medical services of kungfu. Picking up a move here, a skill here, rarely would you find a person with more knowledge in kungfu as he. But unfortunately, the broadness of his knowledge was also his downfall. In essence, he bit off more than he could chew and never really mastered any single kungfu. But because of his renowned medicinal skills, whenever he asked others about kungfu advice and such, people, not really being serious, would always add a couple of words of praise along with their critique so as to get on his good side. So he couldn't help but be a little arrogant, figuring that he had mastered most of all the martial arts in the world. But watching this fight, he realized that the speed with which Qiao Feng strikes and the force with which the strikes land were beyond anything he could have imagined before. His faced turned deathly pale and his heart were just about to leap out of his throat, he was not even able to utter a sound, much less join in on the fight.

Flattening himself against the wall, he wanted to quietly sneak out for the life of him. But he could not bring himself to do it. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw XuanNan standing at his side. He suddenly remembered something and felt terrible about it.

"I was incredibly rude before, I ask for Father's forgiveness," he turned toward XuanNan.
 
XuanNan's attention was entirely fixated upon Qiao Feng and didn't hear Divine Doctor Xue at all. Only after he had repeated it twice did XuanNan finally snapped out of his trance.

"How were you rude?"

"I had said: 'Qiao Feng, all by himself, snuck into and out of ShaoLin last night without a single injury and still was able to kidnap a ShaoLin disciple with him. That's rather hard to believe.'" Divine Doctor Xue replied.

"What's wrong with that?"

"Well, with such amazing skills, Qiao Feng is indeed practically unmatched in the world. Only now do I realize that if he wanted to enter ShaoLin and to cause trouble, it is almost impossible to stop him." Divine Doctor Xue said in sincere voice.

He meant to be apologetic, but in XuanNan's ears, they sounded caustic.

"Hmph, Divine Doctor Xue want to see exactly what ShaoLin kungfu is all about?" XuanNan replied.

Not waiting for an answer, he slowly stepped forward and twirled his sleeves up. Underneath the sleeves, the sound of a fist strike could be heard shooting out. This was one of the 72 Supreme Skills of ShaoLin, "Heaven Within the Sleeve," in which even though the sleeves are twirled up in a knot, the force of the fist would still shoot out from inside the sleeves. ShaoLin monks had always been based strictly to Buddhist teachings to learn and practice martial arts for self improvement. Even getting angry was forbidden, much less striking someone. But ShaoLin Sect had been the leader of martial arts in the world for centuries now, how could it not join in the fight? With the fist hidden within the sleeve, this "Heaven Within the Sleeve" was a very graceful move. The sleeve served as a screen for the force of the fist so the foe could not see where the fists were coming from, therefore making it easier to catch him off guard. But few people knew that the sleeves contain a huge variety of viciously strong moves. If the foe concentrate solely upon figuring out the moves of the fist behind the
 
sleeves, then he would turn the diversion into the real thing and attack with the sleeve.

Qiao Feng was watching his attack as two sleeves flew up with the wind as if they were 2 huge sails. The force of the attack was truly amazing.

"'Heaven Within the Sleeve'! Incredible!" Qiao Feng shouted as he, with a swoosh, swatted at the sleeves. The force of XuanNan's sleeves were applied over a large area while Qiao Feng's strike was concentrated. With a string of loud tearing sounds, the 2 forces met. Suddenly the hall seemed to be filled with gray colored butterflies.

Caught by surprise, everyone paused to collect themselves. Turned out that the gray butterflies was actually what used to be XuanNan's sleeves. When one turned one's gaze to XuanNan, one could see that his incredibly skinny arms were now completely exposed. When those 2 forces met head on, how could XuanNan's sleeves possibly take that kind of pressure? Thus they instantaneously torn to shreds. Now that he lost his sleeves, his sleeves naturally lost their "Heavens". In his fury, his face turned a metallic green color. With a simple palm strike, Qiao Feng was able to defeat the very skill that had made him famous. Not able to stand such humiliation, waving his arms wildly, he charged without abandoned. Everyone recognized that what he was using was "Founder's Long Fist." It was this fist skill, along with a cane skill, that was used by the Founder of Song dynasty, Song TaiZu Zhao KuangYin to conquer and unite all of China under the Great Song. None of the Emperors since then had been as fierce or brave as Song TaiZu. These set of "Founder's Long Fist" and "Founder's Cane" was the most popular skills in the martial world, even if one didn't practice it, one was familiar with it. Seeing such a famous ShaoLin monk, whose kungfu prowess was world famous, use such a plain, everyday skill surprised everyone. But after he had gone through 3 moves, everyone couldn't help but praise: "ShaoLin Sect's fame and acclaim is indeed well merited. The same 'Crossing Thousand Kilometers' would be so powerful when he uses it."

Because of their admiration, none of them seemed to mind how strange XuanNan looked without any sleeves.
 
Qiao Feng was surrounded by several scores of people, but as soon as XuanNan struck, the others, feeling that they were merely getting in the way, temporarily backed off. They still surrounded him in the middle of several rings, so as to not let escape. But everyone was completely mesmerized by the fight between XuanNan and him.

Noticing that others have backed off, an idea suddenly popped into Qiao Feng's head. With a loud swoosh, he struck out with his palm with a "Charging the Formation and Killing the General", yet another move from "Founder's Long Fist". The move was looked completely natural and poised. There was a hint of give within the unyielding force of the strike as well as a hint of firmness within its softness. The state of perfection in mastery that all kungfu practitioner wish for had been clearly exemplified by this move. Of all the people gathered here in this "Gathering of Heroes", even if their kungfu skill weren't good, they were at least extremely knowledgeable, so everyone knew and understood the essence of "Founder's Long Fist." Upon seeing Qiao Feng's move, quite a number of them could not help but cheer in admiration!

{Ok, I'm convinced, Qiao Feng is the better than Duan Yu and Xu Zhu, by a mile!}

Many people immediately regretted the cheer, for it was in praise and support of their sworn enemy. But now that the sound had left their mouth, they couldn't take it back. Qiao Feng followed with a "New Moon's Majesty", which was just as refined, it was hard to tell whether this move was better or worse than his last move. Another cheer went up in the hall as a number people still couldn't hold it back in, but because several people realized the paradox the cheering created and held back, the cheer this time was quieter than last. Nevertheless, there were still quite a number of "oohs" and "ahhs" uttered in admiration. Everyone had been too involved in battle with Qiao Feng to worry about anything else, but now that they were an outside observer, they finally realized how amazing his kungfu really was.

After Qiao Feng and XuanNan exchanged 7 or 8 moves, it had became obvious who was better. Despite the fact that both were using the same simple fist techniques, every one of Qiao Feng's moves came after
 
XuanNan's move. As soon as XuanNan made a move, Qiao Feng would follow it up, but for some reason, maybe it was his youth or maybe he was just quicker, every one of Qiao Feng's moves would arrive at its objective before XuanNan's move. There's only 64 moves in "Founder's Long Fist," but each one of them could effectively counter another. Qiao Feng would recognize his opponent's move before countering with the move that would cancel it. In this situation, how could XuanNan not lose? Everyone present understood the reason behind this, but to be able to "move later but arrive faster", especially when facing such a master such as XuanNan, had they not witnessed it themselves, none of them could have imagined it was possible.

Seeing XuanNan in trouble, Xuan Ju shouted: "You barbaric Khitan dog! How dare you use such despicable methods?" "I'm using our country's founder's fist, how dare you call me 'despicable'?" Qiao Feng answered righteously.

Everyone immediately understood why he was using "Founder's Long Fist." If he had used other fist styles to defeat "Founder's Long Fist", then others would not say that it was because of his superior skills but rather accuse him of humiliating the founder of their country by using the skills of another race or country, which would only add to the hatred towards him. But now that everyone's using "Founder's Long Fist", the only thing that made difference was each person's skills and nothing else.

Seeing that XuanNan was moments away from being in mortal danger, XuanJu didn't bother to reply and just simply pointed his finger at Qiao Feng's Whirled-Pearl Point and attacked using ShaoLin Sect's acclaimed pressure point hitting skill, "Tangutan Buddha Finger."

{Whirled Pearl Point is the part of the scalp where your hair goes into a whirl.}

Hearing the sound of his finger slashing through the air, Qiao Feng stepped aside to dodge the move.

"I have heard of the power of 'Tangutan Buddha Finger' for a long time, and it really is as powerful as the rumors say. You are using the kungfus of those
 
Tangut barbarians against the martial arts of our Founder that I'm using. If you defeat me, then aren't you selling out to those barbarians and bringing shame to our great China?" Qiao Feng said.

XuanJu was quite taken aback by this. ShaoLin Sect's founder Bodhidarma was indeed a Tangut. Today everyone was teaming up against Qiao Feng for being of Khitan birth, yet because ShaoLin kungfu had been established in China for so long that every single sect or style of kungfu had at least a little bit of relationship with ShaoLin Sect. So much so that everyone had forgot the close relationship ShaoLin has with the barbarians. But now, reminded by Qiao Feng's words, everyone remembered.

Some of the wiser people among the crowd wondered: "We treat Bodhidarma with reverence like a divinity, yet why do we hate the Khitan people so much? They are all people of different races than us. Hmm, these 2 races are obviously different. The Tangut people do not slaughter us fellow Chinamen while the Khitan people are despicable and vicious. But in this sense, it doesn't mean that everyone of a different race is evil, there are good and bad people within them as well. But does that mean there are some good people within the Khitan?"

In reality, with such a huge fight at full swing, there were plenty of brutes who never thought such thoughts. Even though all of the more thoughtful people had thought such thoughts, they didn't have time to dwell it over, only feeling a little bit at the bottom of their hearts that: "Qiao Feng may not have to be killed, and we may not be as in the right."

Fighting 2 against 1, XuanNan and XuanJu still had to defend more than they attacked. Frustrated by the fact that whatever he did was always countered by his foe, XuanNan changed his style as soon as XuanJu joined him in the fight, switching instead to ShaoLin's "Arhat Fist".

"So you are going to use the martial arts of the Tangut? Let's see which is better, your foreign kungfu better or that of our Great Song!" Qiao Feng coldly snickered as his fist were loudly swung about in the style of "Founder's Long Fist."
 
Everybody present had a sick feeling in their stomach. They were attacking Qiao Feng because he was a foreigner, yet instead they were using foreign kungfu while he was using the fist of the founder of their country.

"Who cares about fist style? This man killed his father, his mother, and his master. He deserves to die!" Zhao QianSun suddenly shouted as he charged into the fight, followed closely by Grandpa Tan, Grandma Tan, Elder Xu, Elder Cheng, and scores of others.

Everyone of them were kungfu masters, and despite the great number of them, they attack was well organized, essentially taking turns one after another attacking Qiao Feng.

Fighting them off, Qiao Feng declared: "You say that I am Khitan, but then Grandpa Qiao SanKui and Grandma Qiao can't be my father or mother anymore. Forget the fact that they always treated me with great love and care without the slightest intention of harm, even if I did kill them, how could I be guilty of 'killing my father and mother'? Father XuanKu is my savior and master, if ShaoLin Sect admits that he's my master, then I would be a ShaoLin disciple. How could you gang up on a ShaoLin disciple like this?"

"Hmph! How could you stoop so low as to resort to such sophistry and equivocation?" XuanJu replied.

"If it justified and consistent, then it isn't sophistry or equivocation. If you guys don't regard me as a ShaoLin disciple, then don't accuse me of killing my master. As the saying goes, 'One could always trump up charges if one's out to condemn me' (yu jia zhi zui, he huan wu ci). If you guys want to kill me, then just do it like a man. Why bother accusing me of all these inconsistent and deceitful charges?"

Even as he was debating, he never stopped fighting: fist hitting Dan ShuShan, kick landing on Zhao QianSun, elbowing a green clothed man that he didn't see the face of, and palm striking a white bearded old man that he didn't know the name of. While arguing, he knocked down 4 people in a row. Knowing that these people weren't bad people, he held back with his strikes, of the 18 or so people that he had knocked down, none had lost their
 
life. As for his brothers in the Beggar Clan, he didn't even touch them, when Elder Xu attacked him, he just ducked out of the way.

But with so many people at the gathering, as soon as he knocked 10 people down, another 10 people took their place. "If this keeps up, I'll eventually die of exhaustion. It's probably the best to find a place to escape first." Qiao Feng figured as he carefully surveyed for an escape route as he fought.

Zhao QianSun was lying on the ground, unable to move. But he was still able to see that Qiao Feng was looking to escape.

"Everyone, attack him! Don't let this despicable dog bastard get away!" He shouted.

Adrenaline pumping, Qiao Feng could feel his fury gradually taking over, hearing Zhao QianSun's words finally sent him over the edge.

"This dog bastard is going to start off his killing spree with you!" He howled as his palm came screaming down upon Zhao QianSun.

"No!" XuanNan and XuanJu simultaneously shouted as both of them stuck out with their right hand, trying to save Zhao QianSun's life.

Suddenly a human form appeared in mid air as a sickening scream reverberated around the hall. XuanNan and XuanJu's blows landed on the person's chest as Qiao Feng's palm landed squarely in the middle of the back. Caught in the middle of those 3 powerful and violent forces, the person's ribs immediately shattered and internal organs collapsed. Blood gushing out of the person's mouth, the body collapsed onto the ground like a pile of mud.

Not only was XuanNan and XuanJu shocked, Qiao Feng was caught by surprise as well. Turned out that this person was Fast Sabre Qi Liu. He had been hanging in midair for quite some time now. Rattling back and forth, he was finally able to pry loose his sabre and fall. Quite unfortunately, he just happened to fall in between those 3 strikes, it was as if 2 gigantic steel slabs came slamming together on him. There was no chance of him surviving.
 
"Amida Buddha," XuanNan was first to say something. "Qiao Feng, have you not sinned enough?"

"I only half responsible! You 2 are just as responsible as I for his death, why are you guys dumping it all on me?" Qiao Feng screamed in fury.

"Amida Buddha. Amida Budda. Had you not sinned first, would there have even been a fight today?" XuanNan replied.

"Alright, ok, it's all my fault. So what!" Qiao Feng screamed back as he finally let his anger take over, which instantly turned him into a wild beast.

He grabbed somebody with his right hand, who happened to be Chan Zheng's second son Chan ZhongShan. Snatching his sabre with his left hand, he let go of his body and immediately slammed down with his right hand, caving in the top of Chan ZhongShan's head. The rest of the people gasped in horror and anger.

Now that the killing started, Qiao Feng's fighting became even more desperate and violent. Slashing ferociously with the sabre in his left hand and switching periodically between palm and fist with his right, he was not to be stopped. Slowly but surely, the white walls was becoming more and more covered with small droplets of blood as the hall began to fill up with corpses. By now he did not worry about past friendships anymore, even that of the Beggar Clan. Not even waiting to make out his foe's faces anymore, his eyes were blood-shot as he killed whoever that he happens into. It was like this that Elder Xi died under his sabre.

Of the people that were at the gathering, 9 out 10 of them had killed before. After all, to become known in the martial world required more than just making friends and talking a good show. And those who had not killed before had witnessed such events many times before. But none of them had ever seen such a violent and horrifying battle as the one that was unfolding in front of their eyes. There was only one foe, but he was like a crazed tiger, a possessed demon, charging back and forth, attacking and chopping left and right indiscriminately. Many a master had stepped up to challenge him, but all were mowed down by his faster, stronger, fiercer, better moves. Nobody present was a coward who was afraid to die, but in front of them
 
was an crazed opponent whose kungfu skills nobody could stand against as their eyes were filled with images of blood and flesh were flying across the hall, of human heads were rolling on the floor and their ears were filled with the desperate and stunned screams of death, most of them wanted to run away as soon and as quickly as possible. Was Qiao Feng guilty or wasn't he? They did not care for it anymore.

Seeing the situation quickly deteriorate, the Brothers You each brought up their circular shield with their left hand and a weapon in their right hand, one had a short spear while the other had a sabre. With a whistle, the 2 of them attacked Qiao Feng from 2 sides with the shields protecting their body.

Even though Qiao Feng was letting it all out for the fight, he was still completely coherent and not a least bit panicked as he easily and quickly picked apart every opponent's move, hence why he still hadn't been wounded. Noticing that the You Brothers were charging in, he immediately chopped down the 2 men by his side and, trying to grab the initiative, attacked You Ji. You Ji brought his shield up at the last moment. With a loud clang, Qiao Feng's sabre bounced back. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that the blade of the sabre had curled up, rendering it completely useless. The shields in the You Brothers' hands were melded using the finest of metals that had been melted and reshaped over hundreds of times, even priceless swords could not penetrate them, much less that ordinary iron sabre that Qiao Feng grabbed out of Chan ZhungShan's hands.

Immediately after deflecting his foe's attack away, You Ji immediately struck the short spear in his right hand from underneath the shield, like a snake striking out of its hole, aiming towards Qiao Feng's stomach. At this precise a moment, there was a cold flash as the shield that was in You Ju's hand came flying in at Qiao Feng's torso.

With one glance, Qiao Feng could tell that the edges of the shield were incredibly sharp, like those of an ax. If it hit him, it would surely slice him in two. A truly vicious move.

"Excellent!" Qiao Feng shouted as he threw down the sabre in his hand and punched out with his left fist.
 
With a tremendous bang, his fist landed squarely in the middle of You Ji's shield. He then shot out his right fist, which was followed by an equally deafening bang as it hit You Ju's shield directly at its center.

The You Brothers felt half of their bodies go numb as Qiao Feng's overwhelming power shook them to their very core. Stars appeared in their eyes as they, losing all their strength in their arms, dropped their shields and weapons onto the floor. The place where the base of their thumb and index finger came together bursted and split open, covering their hands in blood.

"Great, thanks for lending me 2 weapons!" Qiao Feng chuckled. He bent down, picked up the shields, and gave each a twirl. The shields were truly amazing devices that could be used to attack or defend. Several dying screams went up as 5 people fell by the shields. The You Brothers' faces looked shamed and defeated.

"Brother, remember what master said? 'Shield lives, we live. Shield dies, we die!'" You Ji shouted.

"After such humiliation, how could us brothers have any face left to live on this world?" You Ju replied.

With a slight nod toward each other, both of them picked up their weapons and stabbed them into their hearts, dying instantly.

"No!" Everyone shouted in dismay. But with Qiao Feng waving his shields around as he was, who had enough courage to venture to within 10 meters of him to drag the bodies out. Who could have ventured within 10 meters him?

The screams of a young man could be heard above the chaos: "Daddy! Daddy!" It was that of You Ju's son, You DanZhi.

Qiao Feng paused in shock, never expecting that the You Brothers, the Masters of JuXian Mansion would commit suicide. His back felt cold as he suddenly sobered up a great deal.
 
"Why did you do that, Brothers You? Here, let me return these shields back to you." Qiao Feng said with regret as he bent down and laid the shields at the You Brother's side.

He hadn't quite straightened himself back up yet when a girl suddenly shouted: "Watch out!"

Qiao Feng immediately side-stepped to the left letting a green flash shoot by as a sword barely missed him. Had it not been for Ah-Zhu's timely warning, even though he probably would not have been hit, he would have been at a very disadvantageous position. The perpetrator of the sneak attack was Grandpa Tan, who, as soon as he missed, dashed away to safety.

As everyone was concentrated on fighting Qiao Feng, Ah-Zhu curled up in a corner as she became weaker and weaker. Seeing everyone ganging up on Qiao Feng, remembering that it was because he was trying to save her that he put himself into such great danger, she could not but be greatly moved and worried. Noticing Grandpa Tan sneaking up from behind Qiao Feng as he laid down the shields, she had to call out and warn him.

"Oh is that it you little devil you!" Grandma Tan was furious. "We don't bother you so you go and help him?" With a flash, her palm came crashing down at the top of Ah-Zhu's head.

Just as her palm was about to hit Ah-Zhu, Qiao Feng arrived. Grabbing Grandma Tan by her collar from behind, he forcefully pulled Grandma Tan to a stop and tossed her aside, sending her crashing onto a priceless carved pear wood chair. Even though she was not hit, Ah-Zhu was severely frightened and her body just gave out.

"The life force in her body is about to be completely drained." Qiao Feng thought to himself. "But at this moment, how could I help her?"

"Her life force is about to run out, are you going to prolong her life with your own inner force?" Divine Doctor Xue coldly spoke out. "If she stops breathing, then even real divine goddesses couldn't bring her back to life."
 
Qiao Feng was in a bind, he knew that what Divine Doctor Xue said was the truth, but if he help Ah-Zhu, the people around him would immediately bear down upon him. Some of the people lost sons, others lost friends, so none of them would be the least bit hesitant at finishing him off. But was he supposed to just watch her die and do nothing?

He had taken such a risk to get her here to Gathering Virtue Mansion and it would a shame if it was all for naught if she died because she ran out of life force before Divine Doctor Xue could treat her. However, if he was going to keep her alive by transferring his inner force into her, it would be the equivalent of exchanging his own life for hers. For all she was, Ah-Zhu was still just merely a maid that he met in his travels. He had no real feelings toward her, just that helping people out and saving people were something that he'd normally do. But to exchange his life for hers was too much to ask.

"She's not a relative of mine, and I am not beholden to her at all. I had tried my best to get to here and done all that I could. I got to get out of here as soon as possible. Whether or not Divine Doctor Xue could save her would be just depend on fate and her luck." Qiao Feng thought.

So he picked the 2 shields up from the floor and continuously performed "Roc Spreading Wings" several times, creating 2 rings of white light around him that rolled towards the exit as he charged.

Despite the numerical advantage, Qiao Feng's moves were too vicious and those 2 shields too great of weapons. So nobody was able to get within several meters of Qiao Feng's body to stop him.

Having made it to the exit in several steps, Qiao Feng had just stepped over the threshold with his left foot, he suddenly heard a raspy old man shout defiantly: "Kill the girl first, then let's worry about getting him for revenge!"

It was Iron Faced Judge Chan Zheng that said that. His eldest son Chan BoShan immediately responded with a "yes" and lifted up his sabre in preparation to bring it down upon Ah-Zhu's head. In the heat of the moment, Qiao Feng didn't have to think and just threw the shield in his left hand out. It whirled violently as it exploded through the air.
 
"Watch out!" Seven or eight different people shouted at the same time. Chan BoShan immediately brought his sabre around in an attempt to parry. Qiao Feng's toss was too forceful and the edge of the shield too sharp.

"Crash!" Chan BoShan's body and sabre were cut in half. Still going strong, the shield kept on flying. "Zeng!" It cut through one of the huge columns that supported the hall, sending dust and roof tiles into the air and onto the ground.

{Chan Zheng had 5 sons, they were introduced earlier in the book.} Chan Zheng and the 3 of his sons who were still alive screamed in sadness and fury. But with Qiao Feng standing there in all his menace and glory, they did not dare to go up to him. Instead, they, along with 6 or 7 others, charged toward Ah-Zhu.

"Have you know shame!" Qiao Feng cursed at them and let loose 4 straight palm strikes, which shook those people enough to stop them.

Quickly flying to her side, Qiao Feng picked Ah-Zhu up with his left arm and shielded from the others her with the shield he had left.

"Master Qiao, I'm not going to make it." Ah-Zhu pleaded. "Don't worry about me, just… leave!"

Seeing so many "heroes" stooping so low as to pick on Ah-Zhu, a defenseless and dying girl, aroused Qiao Feng's indomitable sense of pride.

"Now that it has come to this, they would never let you live. Let's die together!" He replied in a booming voice.

Reaching out with his right hand, he snatched a sword from someone and began slicing and dicing his way towards the door. Carrying Ah-Zhu, his movements were slowed on top of the fact that he had now one less hand to fight with, putting him in a very disadvantageous position. But he had long put his life on the backburner as he made the sword dance around him. He had only taken 2 steps before a pain shot up from his back, someone had slashed his back with a sabre.
 
{Ok, even more evidence that fighting with one arm stinks, JY explicitly stated so here. Qiao Feng was not even touched, now he got hurt after only 2 steps.}

He lifted his leg and kicked back, sending that man flying for almost 100 meters before crashing into another person, killing both of them instantly. At that moment, a spear stabbed Qiao Feng on his right shoulder, which was soon followed by a sword thrusting into his right chest.

Qiao Feng let out a thunderous howl and screamed: "Qiao Feng would rather kill himself than to die in the hands of you low lives!"

But the other fighters were, by now, so completely absorbed in the fight that there was no way that they were going to allow him the luxury of ending his own life. A dozen or so people charged up together. Gathering his strength and spirit, Qiao Feng suddenly reached out with his right hand, grabbed XuanJu by the "Mid-Chest Pressure Point", and lifted his body up in the air. Everyone involuntarily gasped in shock and instinctively took a couple of steps back.

His pressure point being hit, XuanJu was completely paralyzed and could not move despite his incredible kungfu skills. Looking down, he saw that his neck was only centimeters away from the edge of the the shield, Qiao Feng only needs to lift his left arm a little or give his right arm a push and his head would have been chopped off. Resigning himself to his fate, XuanJu sighed and closed his eyes, awaiting death.

The incredible pain on his back, his chest, and his right shoulder felt like someone had poured acid on the wounds. Qiao Feng gritted his teeth and said: "All the martial arts in my body had originally come from ShaoLin. How can I kill a high monk of ShaoLin? Qiao Feng is doomed to die today anyway, what's the good in killing one more?"

Gently, he put XuanJu down onto the ground and let go. "Well? Come on! Finish this!" He said at the top of his lungs.

The fighters looked at each other, all moved by his courage and spirit. Nobody could bring himself to take his life. Still some more thought: "He
 
wouldn't even harm XuanJu, how could he possibly take the life of his master Father XuanKu?"

However, Iron Faced Judge Chan Zheng, heartbroken and furious over the death of 2 of his sons, did not hesitate. With a loud yell, he charged up and thrust his sabre directly at Qiao Feng's heart.

Qiao Feng knew that with his severe wounds, he could not possibly fight his way out anymore, so he just stood there motionlessly. In that instant, an infinite amount of thoughts flashed through his mind: "Am I really Han or am I Khitan? Who killed my parents and master? I have always lived honorably and tried to the do the right thing in my life, why did I kill all these heroes and good men today for no good reason? I wanted to save Ah- Zhu, but ended up giving my own life away, would all the heroes in the world laugh at me for such stupid actions?"

Seeing Chan Zheng's dark and contorted face, eyes bugging out and charging at him with a sabre aimed at his heart, Qiao Feng's heart was suddenly overwhelmed by sadness and anger. Not able to hold it back anymore, he suddenly snapped out and howled up into the heavens like a proud and dying beast.

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