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Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain Chapter 9.4 Snare

 Chapter 9.4 Snare 

Hiding behind the gauze curtain, Fox had been listening attentively to all the goings-on. He argued with himself, "Even though Phoenix is a deadly foe who slew my father, he still is a great knight-errant of the age. How can he die at the hands of these ruffians?" Suddenly, with a thunderous roar, Fox leapt out from behind the curtain, snapping out his hand and smiting a blow on a guardsman, plunging his victim headlong into Sai. Strange and unpredictable was this move, taking the Commissioner wholly by surprise. Sai immediately flung his weapon to the ground, arresting the trajectory of the moving body.

By now, Fox had already seized two guardsmen, smashing their two heads together. The scalps crashed together, killing their owners instantaneously. Fox flung out both hands, raining blows furiously on the two bodies. And in the confusion which ensued, a countless number of

adversaries dashed to the scene. The omnipotent might embodied in Fox

struck his assailants with awe, deterring each with a sense of apprehension.

On the head of one guardsman Fox dealt a stroke with his fist, dispatching him instantly. While Fox was thrusting out his left hand, his

enemy, unseen, tugged at him, slipping away from his palm. A chill smote his heart. Fox's dazed eyes immediately spotted an opponent with a healthy and hearty look, and his grey beard reaching over his stomach. Though a new face, he proclaimed himself to be an adept in Inner School. In

executing his esoteric feat Primordial Unity, he wove offensive moves into his defense, blending all moves harmoniously. This assailant could be none other than Jiang the Senior Mentor in Pugilism of the Absolute Lodge.

By now, more enemies were closing round Fox, many of whom undoubtedly were adept fighters. An idea suddenly struck Fox. Snapping up his leg, Fox whipped it out at Spirituality the Buddhist Devotee, lunging at his chest. A martial artist specializing in Outer School, Spirituality the

Buddhist Devotee at once slashed out his arm, slicing Fox's sole with the edge of his palm. In a flash Fox made an impromptu duck, and followed through, thrusting out his forelimbs and sinking his nails into a body. The space in the room was already cluttered. In the commotion which ensued, no one found a way to escape. Amidst uproarious cries, shrieking and

shouting, Fox had already seized Wish by the front of his jacket and grasped Profundity by his midriff. Wielding these two captives as weapons, Fox at once slashed out fiercely and ferociously at the remaining group. In the face of this dangerous onslaught, the remaining adept fighters resorted to huddling helplessly together, fearing that their captured comrades might receive lethal blows from their own hands. None dared to attempt a counter- attack. The ten or so fearful souls were huddled in a corner. And a terrible

situation they had finally landed themselves in.

Seeing that the situation had got out of hand, Sai the Commissioner leapt from the crowd, gripping Fox's scalp with his ten hook-like fingers. Fox had been encouraging Sai into making such a move. Exploding with a sudden

clear laugh, Fox at once bounded back a few paces, crying aloud, "You, Master Sai, being a veteran fighter, are now losing all face!" His words struck Sai with frightful dread, causing him to retort, "Who is losing all face?"

In his hands Fox was still gripping both Wish and Profundity, laying hold on their major paralytic points. Accomplished fighters though they were, the poor captives could not bring themselves to expedite a single move, but resigned themselves to being pulled about like limp puppets in their captor's hands. In no time Fox turned sternly at Sai, "Only by mustering the forces of ten or so fighters and by scheming devilry could you manage to make Phoenix a captive. Is this worthy of the champion fighter of Manchuria?"

The Commissioner reddened to the tips of his ears. Thereupon, he held out his left hand, commanding his contingent to plant themselves in all

corners to close in on the provoker. Boiling with rage, Sai cried out, "I presume you are the so-called Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain?"

Smiling complacently, Fox retorted, "Undeserving of the honour though I am, that is precisely who I am. I have also heard that in Peking, there is a Sai, a so called Commissioner. He is counted as a somebody, but it turns out he is a villainous character. Such a cowardly ragamuffin, and yet he has the nerve to claim a title. Do me the favour of taking an early retirement and go home to look after your baby!"

Commissioner Sai had always thought very highly of himself and he was not prepared to swallow this humiliating insult. He tried to convince himself that, although Fox was thickly bearded, he was after all a young

chap. He was sure that the might of Fox's martial arts could never rival the strength of his feats. But the sight of Fox grabbing Wish and Profundity

with measured ease and lifting them up like feathers threw Sai once again into frightful apprehension, dampening his aggression and preventing him from declaring an open challenge to Fox.

While Sai was thus pondering, a voice was heard coming from Fox:

"Come on, come on, come on. Let us test out our feats. If I fail to beat you within three tricks, the one bearing the family name Hu will concede and kowtow to you!"

Still torn by his own personal dilemma, Fox's blatant challenge speedily fired a thought through Sai's mind: "I never possessed the confidence and prowess to overpower you initially. But now even if you are a divine incarnation of martial ability, you will never stand a chance of beating me within three tricks, unless I am a corpse."

Thereupon, Sai's extreme anger transformed itself instantly into a mirthful smile, and he remarked good-humouredly, "Fine. The person bearing the surname Sai will oblige himself to take this feeble exercise."

At length, Fox posed Sai another question, "If you were outmanoeuvred within the next three tricks, how should I deal with you?"

"It will be up to you to punish me," Sai responded. "I, who bear the

surname Sai and rank among celebrities, would never again have the face to appear before the public. No more jawing now. Let us begin!"

Thrusting his fists straight out with lightning speed, Sai aimed true and fast at Fox's chest, pummelling blow after blow. As Fox had not yet loosened his grip on Wish and Profundity, Sai feared that his opponent might parry his blows with them. Thereupon, he advanced towards the side of his assailant, commanding him to release the two victims and to guard

against himself suffering his own strokes.

When the punch came driving fast into his front, Fox surprised the onlookers by attempting neither a dodge nor a parry. Suddenly his chest tucked inwards, dissolving the impending blow instantaneously into thin air. Sai was shocked at finding such prowess in one so young. A chill smote his heart. He instantly sprang backward, lest his enemy mobilize his strength for a counter-blow. Loud applause at once broke from the enthusiastic

audience: "Trick One!" In the previous trick, Sai had been the sole

combatant staging an attack. No counter-attack had yet been launched by Fox. Apparently the on-lookers were siding with the Commissioner, and they assessed that last move as one trick. Fox exploded in a little laugh. Suddenly he hawked up phlegm. A gob of spittle darted from his throat, straight at the face of the Commissioner.

Simultaneously displaying the move Multiple Encircling, Fox whipped out his legs in front.

The Commissioner felt a sudden chill run through him and clutch at his heart. Dodging the flying discharge demanded either leaping upward or ducking with a bowed head. But leaping upward would certainly invite a blow to his midriff by his opponent snapping up his left leg. As to ducking, it would mean proffering his jowl to the right leg of his enemy, attracting

another blow. Shooting up presented just as difficult an alternative as

slipping down. Sai finally resorted to parrying with the edges of his palms, guarding his vulnerable parts. The phlegm landed with a plop, nuzzling neatly between Sai's brows. This sordid matter would have been shunned by a child of seven. But under the belief that his adversary had more savage moves in store for him, the crestfallen and out-manoeuvred Sai had to

accept the slaver with the heroic courage befitting a commissioner.

The snivel plastering with a smack on the Commissioner's face put all his comrades on the alert. Afraid they might be the next targets of a similar

clandestine attack, none could muster enough courage to lift his finger to wipe the gluey slime from the face of the assaulted. Amidst such dreadful embarrassment exploded the decree "Trick Two", sounding far less

authoritative than the previous acclaim.

Sai the Commissioner then told himself, "Though I have been humiliated, as long as I can maintain my guard against the opponent's offensive moves, meeting him head-on in another trick could be done more easily than said. I shall see what he has to say about that afterwards." Thereupon, Sai bawled out his command, "One trick left. Fall to, quick!"

With smiling briskness, Fox strode one step forward. Suddenly plucking up Wish and Profundity, he thrust them straight into his adversary. Already perceiving such an onslaught, Sai had designed some devilry to fall back onto: A common saying goes that ruthlessness is the mark of a truly great man. In a precarious and dangerous situation like this, one has no

alternative but sorely to hurt his friends. Sai whipped up his arms just as the two bodies came sweeping in his face, pummeling blows fierce and furious on his comrades. Just as the two miserable captives started to hurl their trunks into Sai,

stopping short of making direct contact, Fox suddenly loosened his grip on their principal paralytic points, switching abruptly to clutching their sinews peripheral to the paralytic points.

For a while Wish and Profundity went whirling in mid air as if reeling and tottering in a void. Suddenly the senses in their paralytic points woke up and their limbs regained their normal functions. Whipping out their hands instantaneously, they brought every muscle of their bodies into play and directed all force in their fists, intending to wrestle themselves free of the grapple of their enemy. Each fell to expediting his esoteric killer trick learned over a life-time, smiting blows with the utmost savagery. A

thunderous roar escaped Commissioner Sai instantly. The deadly, deafening strokes caught his sternum, heart, midriff and axilla, causing his feet to

collapse and forcing his knees to crumple and his body to tumble backwards. By merely relaxing his hold and immediately tightening his grip, Fox once again piqued Wish and Profundity at their damoclean points. "Trick Three!" exploded the victor.

Heralding his own triumph, Fox doubled the power in his blows. Wish and Profundity passed out without even the time to let out a sound. Fox's pique proved stunning. The recovery of the two injured would take at least two weeks, even in the hands of adepts. Finally, Fox hauled up the victims and hurled them head-on at two enemies in front. Awe and fear fell upon

them, and they immediately dodged the impending onslaught lest Wish and Profundity should defeat them as they had done the poor Commissioner.

Immediately Fox bounded forward, seizing them both, whilst their limbs

were still smarting, in mid-air before they touched the ground. Holding both captives in his hands, Fox turned round and addressed Sai, "What say you now?"

Utterly crushed, Commissioner Sai felt all his bright, ambitious hopes for the future turn into dust and ashes. Completely devoid of ambition and hope, he was heard to mumble, "It is entirely up to you what to do with me. Why do you bother to ask me?"

Fox put forward his terms, "Set Phoenix the Knight-errant free immediately."

The Commissioner motioned to two of his guardsmen with his hand to free Phoenix. The two subordinates at once unfettered the chains on the captive.

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