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Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain Chapter 9.3 Snare

 Chapter 9.3 Snare 

After Fan the Ringleader had expressed his appreciation for the service rendered by Phoenix, the latter immediately reciprocated his thanks by folding both hands and saying, "It is a mere trifle; not a word of thanks

should be mentioned." Turning round to Wish, Phoenix asked, "I wonder what sort of person Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain is, and what wrong he has done to invoke Brother Wish's anger."

Wish immediately reddened and spoke in a muddled manner, "I have never met this character. Somehow he heard from the others that I had

seized his family heirloom. He has approached me a number of times for it. Realizing that he is such an adept that I, being now advanced in years,

would never be his match, I therefore invited you all to journey up the mountain so that this matter could be sorted out in front of all present. If he chooses not to concede to our ruling but insists on pursuing the matter further, resorting to might with which he knows he is well endowed, we

shall then have to make this young chap learn his lesson."

"He claims that Brother Wish has in his possession his family heirloom, but what actually is the case?" asked Phoenix.

"There is nothing to this heirloom business," answered Wish. "He simply invented the whole thing."

Ever since Gully's death, a certain thought had been occupying Phoenix's mind. He therefore journeyed to Liaodong Peninsula, and visited Gully's family and friends to learn more of the life and heroic deeds of this bosom friend of his, the only one true friend that Phoenix had ever had in his life. After some reconnoitring, Phoenix found out that Wish and Gully had been acquainted. Hence Phoenix travelled up the Jadeite Pinnacle and presented himself at the eyrie. About the life of Gully, Wish spared but a few words. Yet he took it upon himself to shower Phoenix with an extremely cordial reception. Wish guided Phoenix to the old mansion that belonged to Gully in person, only to find a dilapidated shack standing deserted.

Out of love for Gully, Phoenix extended his affection even to Wish and counted him as an acquaintance of his. But that took place some twenty years before. Sensing the uncertainty now in his tone, Phoenix turned to advise Wish, "If the object in question does indeed have as its owner Fox

Volant of the Snowy Mountain, Brother Wish can perhaps deliver it to him when he comes up the mountain in a short while." But Wish defended himself, not without exasperation in his tone, "There was simply no treasure to start with. How can I produce something for him?"

Knowing Phoenix to be shrewd and nimble, Fan the Ringleader was

afraid that he would soon discover that enemies were lying in wait inside the building. Thereupon, he joined in to persuade Wish, "I also find truth in Master Phoenix's words. Each article claims its rightful owner, especially when a family heirloom is the treasure in question. Return the object to Fox and the case is closed. Why should you aggravate yourself by resorting to

arms and force?"

Thereupon, Wish grew desperate. He immediately countered, "You are taking the same attitude as Phoenix. Do you mean to imply that you do not believe me?"

Fan the Ringleader defended himself thus, "I do not know enough to judge. But as Master Phoenix has expressed it as he has, he cannot be

wrong. As I have cunningly survived the rough behaviour of the outlawry, I choose not to believe what people may have to say. Master Phoenix, the

Gilt-faced Buddha, of all humanity, is the only person to whom goes out my full respect."

While speaking thus, Fan the Ringleader had moved behind Phoenix's back, feverishly gesturing with his hands.

Seeing that Fan had sided with him in this talk, Phoenix thought to himself, "After all he is the Chieftain of an outlawry; he therefore can

explicate these facts." Suddenly terrible sensations crept over the paralytic points of the Gusty Mere behind his ear and of the Celestial Tract behind his back. Matters had suddenly gone wrong. Alerted, Phoenix swiftly thrust out his left arm, striking a blow. Alas, it was too late. His two principal paralytic points having been piqued by Fan the Ringleader practising the

Grappling Claws of the Dragon, Phoenix immediately felt sore and numbed all over. Even were he a divine incarnation, or a necromancer incarnate, Phoenix would have found himself completely unable to expedite any moves.

But bearing the sobriquet "the Invincible Under the Sky" and having weathered countless villainous and perilous crises, Phoenix would never allow himself to simply await death with bound hands. Thereupon, he roared out like thunder. Dipping his head and summoning reserves of

energy to his waist, he struck down with his head the towering figure of Fan the Ringleader. In a moment Sai and his contingent of followers were

crying uproariously, darting from different corners.

After being thrown to the ground by Phoenix tossing his head, Fan, bringing off his Grappling Claws of the Dragon, speedily spun around, throwing his arms around his assailant from the front, sticking to his body like a leech. Fan's claws continued to pique fast the paralytic points on Phoenix's back. On finding foes suddenly springing from all corners, Phoenix confided to himself, "All my life I have been watching the behaviour of the outlawry and yet I am overcome in one instant, due to the foul trickery of villains." Suddenly a guardsman leapt forward, encircling his arms around Phoenix's neck.

Phoenix now stood vulnerable to attack from all sides. He tossed his forehead backward and speedily thrust it forward, pounding his forehead

suddenly on his enemy. By now he had localized all his immanent force in his scalp. His crown thrust squarely between the eyes of his adversary, dispatching him instantaneously. The remainder had the fright of their lives, as they intended also to rush forward. But all stopped themselves on a

sudden, a mere few feet from Phoenix.

All strength had left his limbs, but Phoenix could still move his head.

After scoring success with his forehead, Phoenix tilted his head sideward, thrusting it violently against Fan. Terrified, the Ringleader suddenly hit upon an idea: ducking, Fan clasped Phoenix about the waist and pounded his head at his midriff. Suddenly Phoenix found life in his limbs. He

snapped up his foot, stopping a whisker from the side of a guardsman nearby. Phoenix at once flung out his hand, ready to smite a blow on Fan's back. Just as Phoenix was about to start thrusting down his upper arm to

strike, a sudden feeling of soreness and numbness gripped his limbs. His blows stayed frozen in mid air. Fan the Ringleader had once again piqued his paralytic points at the waist.

The battle raged fast and furious, with the strong and ferocious strokes of one combatant equalled by fierce and furious blows from his opponent.

Move after move was unfolded within moments. The Commissioner knew that Fan's clandestine attack could only succeed for a short while, after

which Phoenix would certainly dissolve his moves. Thereupon, Sai dashed forward and stuck out a finger, piquing Phoenix twice at the Chortling

Midriff. Though his move fell short on speed, its might was unsurpassedly strong. Phoenix at once let out a cry of pain, dropping to the ground in a

swoon: he was paralysed all over.

Still burying himself in Phoenix's bosom and oblivious to all events

around him, Fan the Ringleader was intent on sinking his nails deep into Phoenix's paralytic points. With smiling briskness, Sai beckoned, "Ringleader, you have already emerged with flying colors. Now let go!" Only when this command was repeated the third time did it produce an effect on Fan. He lifted his head, pondered a long while, still lacking the courage to free his captive.

Presently, one of the guardsmen extracted from his clothing a pair of exquisitely forged chains, binding Phoenix hand and foot. Only after

Phoenix had been thus fettered would the Ringleader consider loosening his grip on his prey.

Holding Phoenix's feats still in aweful dread and fearing also that the

captive in manacles might outmanoeuvre the guards by breaking free, thus creating menace later on, Commissioner Sai took a knife from the guardsman and addressed the prisoner condescendingly, "Phoenix, do not blame me who bears the surname Sai for denying you a sense of

comradeship. Your prowess fundamentally prevents this possibility. Only after we have nipped your tendons can we both afford to take our meals in the day and sleep at night unperturbed in mind." Having delivered himself, the Commissioner seized Phoenix's right arm, raising his own right arm to

smite a maiming stroke. Four hefty blows on the sinews of his limbs would be sufficient to reduce Phoenix to an insensate being.

At the critical juncture, Fan the Ringleader jumped in to intercept the lethal stroke, parrying Sai's striking limb by thrusting out his own, crying out, "Do not hurt him! You promised me you would not. On that you have taken a solemn vow." The scheming protagonist let out an icy sneer, musing silently to himself, "So you seriously assume that I am not of your quality.

If I do not show you my true colours, you will just remain an arrogantly ignorant dog for the rest of your life." Sinking his palm and collecting his strength at the midriff, Sai suddenly plunged his right shoulder into Fan. Catching his victim completely off guard, Sai's violent blow threw Fan's body straight at the wall, breaking a hole through the partition and causing

Fan to plunge to the ground on the other side of the wall. Commissioner Sai roared with laughter. Brandishing his keen blade, the victor raised it, ready to hurl down a hacking blow on Phoenix's right arm.

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