A Deadly Secret

Chapter 8: Feather Coat
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Chapter 8: Feather Coat

Shui Sheng and Hua Tiegan were expressionless, not knowing from where the blood sabre monk could unleash such remarkable martial arts.

Di Yun gasped for breath as his throat was let loose. He wanted to stay alive and jumped up at once, but his right leg was still broken and he let out an “Ayo!” before falling back down again. He supported himself with his right hand and got up with his left leg. He saw the Blood Sabre Elder with both legs facing the sky and his head sunk inside the snow. He did not understand what happened and rubbed his eyes to take a closer look. All he saw was that the Blood Sabre Elder was stuck head first in the snow without the slightest trace of movement.

When Di Yun jumped up, Shui Sheng was afraid that he would hurt her and brandished her sabre in front of her a few times and retreated a few steps. She fixed her gaze on him completely and watched his every move. All she saw was a confused expression stretched across his entire face as he scratched his head in perplexity.

All of a sudden, Hua Tiegan complimented: “This little monk’s divine martial arts are matchless, truly unrivalled in this world. You managed to kill that old perverted monk with one simple kick. Such a kick must have contained the power of at least a thousand pounds! This act of chivalry has really earned my utmost respect.”

As Shui Sheng heard up to this point she could not bear it anymore and scolded: “Stop blabbering nonsense, don’t you think people will feel disgusted when they hear it?”

Hua Tiegan said: “That blood sabre monk was vicious and cruel to the extreme, everyone wants to kill him. This little monk placed righteousness before family and rid the world of such a menace, truly a remarkable accomplishment. Such an act of greatness is hard to come by and is truly gratifying.” He saw that both legs of the blood sabre monk were stiff as a corpse and it was obvious that he was dead. At once he began to flatter and praise Di Yun.

Although his personality was somewhat shady, but in his life he had done many heroic deeds and had a sense of justice, never had he committed any act of evil. Otherwise, how could he have sworn brotherhood with Lu Tianshu, Liu Chengfeng, and Shui Dai for over a dozen years? However, today he accidentally killed one of his sworn brothers Liu Chengfeng and his state of mind suffered a surge; his normal heroic spirit disappeared in a flash. Furthermore, he was humiliated greatly by the blood sabre monk, causing his many years of repressed vile and repulsive character to suddenly emerge all at once. In only the span of a few hours, it was as if he had become a completely different person.

Di Yun said: “You said… you said I… I kicked him to death?”

Hua Tiegan said: “That is without a doubt. If little monk does not believe it, you can slice off his legs with the blood sabre and then lift him up to see if he’s really dead or not.” At this point, every scheme he considered was filled with malicious intents.

Di Yun gave a sideways glance at Shui Sheng. Shui Sheng knew that he wanted to take the blood sabre from her and retreated another step in fright. Di Yun shook his head and said: “You don’t have to be scared, I won’t hurt you. Just now you didn’t kill me along with the old monk, you have my gratitude.” Shui Sheng groaned but did not respond.

Hua Tiegan said: “Niece Shui, you are acting incorrectly. This little monk wants to express his gratitude, you should thank him in return. Earlier the old vicious monk wanted to kill you, if not for the little monk’s tenderness towards women, he would not have risked his life to save you, then how would you still be alive?”

When Shui Sheng and Di Yun both heard him say the words “tenderness towards women” they both gave him a glance. Although Shui Sheng was indeed a beautiful young lady, when Di Yun saved her, he was only concerned about “saving an innocent life”. The way Hua Tiegan spoke suggested that Di Yun actually harboured malicious intentions. Shui Sheng was already extremely suspicious around Di Yun, now upon hearing Hua Tiegan’s words, it only served to reinforce her hatred towards him. She could not tell whether she hated Hua Tiegan or Di Yun more, she only knew that they were both crafty and evil people. As she gazed upon her father’s corpse, she could not help but feel heartbroken and rushed towards the corpse and began to cry.

Hua Tiegan smiled and asked: “Little monk, may I ask for your religious name?”

Di Yun replied: “I am not a monk, do not call me one. I only wore this monk outfit to disguise myself, I had no other choice.”

Hua Tiegan was delighted and said: “That is wonderful. So little monk is actually not… no, no! Damn it! Damn it! May I ask for hero’s honourable name?”

Although Shui Sheng was crying, she heard their conversation very clearly. When she heard that Di Yun was actually not a monk, she became skeptical. She heard Di Yun reply: “My surname is Di, I am an unknown nonentity, a person who has many times narrowly escaped from the brink of death. How can you call me a hero?”

Hua Tiegan remarked: “Excellent! Excellent! Hero Di is brave and courageous, a perfect match for my talented Niece Shui. Looks like I will definitely have to play matchmaker. Wonderful! Wonderful! So it turns out that Hero Di is actually not a monk. Once your hair grows back and you change your clothes, then there will be no mistake about it, and we don’t have to worry about having you leave a monastic order.” He had already affirmed that Di Yun was a monk from the Blood Sabre Clan who only cared about Shui Sheng’s beauty without even realizing it.

Di Yun shook his head and replied: “Do not speak such nonsense. If we can get out of this valley, I will never see you again, nor will I ever see Lady Shui again.”

Hua Tiegan was stumped for words and did not understand his meaning. At once he changed his attitude and laughed: “Oh, I understand. I understand!”

Di Yun glared at him and asked: “You understand what?”

Hua Tiegan spoke softly: “Hero Di must be in an intimate relationship with another beauty from your monastery so you are unwilling to take Lady Shui as your wife. Hehe, you can still be man and wife for several days, why not?”

Shui Sheng found it hard to suppress her anger when she heard these words. Slap! Slap Slap! Slap! She ran over to Hua Tiegan and slapped him hard on the face four times. Di Yun watched blankly as he thought that all of this had nothing to do with him. After a while, the Blood Sabre Elder still did not move in the slightest.

Several times, Shui Sheng watched to go forward and cut off his legs with her sabre, but she did not dare to. She only watched as her father lied motionless on the ground, knowing that she would never feel his affection ever again, and cried softly: “Daddy! Daddy!” Obviously, Shui Dai did not reply. Shui Sheng’s tears dripped on the snow and melted it slightly, thereafter it merged with the snow and became ice.

Because Hua Tiegan’s acupoint was not yet released, he flattered Di Yun to get on his good side. The more he spoke, the more sappy his words became. Di Yun ignored him and lied down on the snow to rest. After Di Yun successfully interlinked his Ren and Du meridians, he felt very invigorated, a warm current passing through the insides of his body. From the front of his chest to his back, the energy kept on channelling in a continuous cycle. Every time it completed one cycle, he would feel energy all over his body. Although he was still in great pain from the injuries he received from Shui Sheng, because his internal energy increased greatly, he could repress it somewhat. He was afraid of such a strange occurrence, coming and going just like that. At once he lied down motionless and let the Ren and Du meridians channel its energy automatically.

Shui Sheng got up and slowly moved towards the Blood Sabre Elder and saw that the monk was completely lifeless. Gathering up her courage, she brandished the sabre and sliced off his left leg. A small slashing sound was heard as the leg promptly fell on the ground. However, what was strange was that it did not bleed at all. Shui Sheng looked closely and realized that the blood had clotted to ice. It turns out that the blood sabre monk really died some time ago.

Shui Sheng was both delighted and sad. She held on to the blood sabre around her leg and thought: “Now that my daddy is dead, I don’t want to live anymore! How will this vicious little monk torture me? If he wants to violate me in any way, I will kill myself at once.”

Hua Tiegan watched closely at their actions and was delighted as he thought: “Although this little monk is vicious, he currently has no intention of killing me. As soon as my acupoint is unsealed, I will take his life, even that little doll Shui Sheng will be mine.” All these despicable thoughts rushed to his head at once.

After an hour or so, Di Yun realized that his flow of energy still did not stop channelling, so he began to channel his energy according to the methods of the Heavenly Glow taught by Ding Dian. At once, the uncontrollable surges of energy inside his body were now in his control, it was as easy as nodding his head or raising his hand. He felt both surprised and delighted.

After channelling his energy for half a day, he stood up and with the support of a twig, walked towards the blood sabre monk. He saw that his body was completely in the snow while both legs were badly mutilated by Shui Sheng. It was without a doubt that he was dead. Di Yun thought that this person was wicked and evil and deserved to die, but after all he was benevolent towards him and he could not help but feel sorry. So he decided to pull out his corpse and place it firmly on the ground, then buried it with snow. Although it was hasty, it could still be considered a burial place. As for why the blood sabre monk suddenly died, Di Yun was perplexed without the slightest clue. This person’s martial arts was profound, there’s no way that he died from one simple kick.

Shui Sheng watched Di Yun’s actions closely. She saw several bald eagles spiralling in the sky with the intention of scavenging on her father’s corpse, so she imitated Di Yun and buried her father. At first, she wanted to bury Liu Chengfeng and Lu Tianshu as well, but one died on top of a cliff and the other died on the deepest parts of the valley; she realized she was incapable of retrieving them and did not bother.

Hua Tiegan said: “Little monk, the three of us must be really tired and hungry by now. Earlier I saw there was horse meat at the top, may I request that you bring it here. After we eat we can come up with a plan to get out of here.”

Di Yun knew of his personality and did not respond. Hua Tiegan pleaded repeatedly but to no avail. Shui Sheng said: “That meat belongs to my horse, it cannot be eaten by such a shameless person.” Di Yun nodded in approval and gave a glance at Hua Tiegan.

Hua Tiegan urged: “Little monk…”

Di Yun said: “I already told you that I am not a monk, stop calling me that.”

Hua Tiegan said: “Right, right. Hero Di. Hero Di has successfully killed the blood sabre monk with one kick, you will most certainly be renowned throughout the world. When I get out of this valley, the first thing I’ll do is announce to everyone everything that happened today: The great Hero Di dashed on bravely with no regard for his own personal safety, willing to rescue Lady Shui at any cost and killed the blood sabre monk. This is an act that will be top news across the martial world.”

Di Yun said: “I am a prisoner, nameless and without reputation, who would believe your words? You should really stop talking now.”

Hua Tiegan said: “My humble name has a little bit of reputation in the realm. If I speak out, people will believe me for sure. Hero Di, may I request that you retrieve the horse meat and give me a piece to eat.”

Di Yun became fed up and scoffed: “Why should I give you horse meat? In the future you will say how worthless I am. Who do you think I am? Can I be bestowed upon such a name?” As he thought of all the injustices and cruelty he suffered throughout the years, he could not supress his anger and resentment.

Hua Tiegan did not actually want to eat the piece of horse meat. Although he was indeed hungry, but what was it to go without food with a day or so? He was only afraid that the little evil monk would flare up and kill him. To ask for horse meat is pressing by retreating, attacking by defending. He did not expect that the monk would not get the meat for him. His heart began to feel apologetic and lost all of his murderous intent.

Di Yun saw that the sky was turning dark, the west wind blowing swiftly into the valley. He said to Shui Sheng: “Lady Shui, why don’t you take a rest inside the cave?”

Shui Sheng was startled and thought he harboured malicious intent. At once she retreated two steps and held tightly onto her blood sabre horizontally in a defensive position. She shouted: “Little vicious monk, if you take another step I will kill myself!”

Di Yun stared blankly and replied: “Please do not be mistaken, how would I harbour any evil intentions?”

Shui Sheng said: “You little monk have a face of a human but the heart of a beast, a dagger hidden in smiles. You are even more vicious than the old monk. I won’t fall for your tricks.”

Di Yun was unwilling to think further and thought: “As soon as the sky turns bright tomorrow I will get out of here. What Lady Shui or Hero Hua, I will never see either of them ever again.” At once he stationed himself far away and slept on a large rock.

Shui Sheng thought that the further the monk went, the craftier and evil he was. She thought that it was a scheme and that he intended to violate her in the middle of the night. She did not dare to rest inside the cave for fear that she would not have an escape route when the monk arrives. She was so frightened and felt as if she was in a battlefield as she held the blood sabre firmly on her right hand. Her eyelids began to droop down and she reminded herself: “I can’t fall asleep, this monk is extremely vicious.”

But she was both mentally and physically exhausted, how could she not sleep? Gradually, she grew hazy and drifted into a sleep.

When she was conscious again she felt the brightness of early morning sun irritate her eyes. She woke up at once and saw that the blood sabre was no longer in her hands. She became alarmed and looked around, but saw that the blood sabre remained untouched beside her leg.

Shui Sheng picked up the blood sabre at once. She raised her head and saw that Di Yun was moving in a faraway place, holding a twig in hand, slowly making his way out of the valley. Shui Sheng was delighted, and thanked heavens that he was going to leave.

Indeed, Di Yun was trying to find a way out of the valley. However, there were no paths out from the north or northeast direction, while the other three directions were surrounded by the walls of the cliff. It was evident that there was no way out, there was no point in trying. There was a small probability that there could be an exit in the southeast direction, but the accumulation of snow was over a hundred feet deep. There would be no hope to escape until the snow begins to melt and his leg begins to heal. He had been exhausted for over half a day, and upon staring blankly at the peaks of the valley, he felt dismayed.

Hua Tiegan asked, “Hero Di, how is it?”

Di Yun shook his head and replied, “There is no way out.”

Hua Tiegan thought: “You may not be able to get out, but how can I, Hua Tiegan, be compared with a little monk like you? Come afternoon when my acupoint unblocks itself, you will witness my power.” His expression did not change the slightest as he said: “Don’t worry, wait until my acupoint unblocks itself, I will be able to us out of here.”

Shui Sheng realized that Di Yun had never violated her in any way and her anger began to diminish. However, she still remained vigilant and kept a good distance away from him without even saying a word. Di Yun did not beseech her to understand him either, but when he saw how she was treating him, he felt resentful and only hoped that he could get out of here sooner. However, the snow covered the mountain completely and there was simply no way out. He could not help but become disappointed.

When afternoon came, Hua Tiegan suddenly laughed out loud and said: “Niece Shui, your uncle wants to eat a few pounds of your horse meat. After we get out of here, I will return the favour.” He got up at once and made his way to the roasted horse meat, took a piece and began eating it. It turns out that his acupoint automatically released itself after some time.

As soon as Hua Tiegan’s acupoint was released, he became more arrogant and overbearing. He thought that since the Blood Sabre Elder was already dead, even if Di Yun and Shui Sheng were to join forces to fight him, they would not be his match. However, it would still be best to get out of the valley as soon as possible, and when that time comes, he would first kill Di Yun and then deal with Shui Sheng. Even if he were to not kill her, he would still intimate her so that she would not speak out her mind. All the despicable deeds he did yesterday, how could he let it be revealed to the outside world?

He executed his lightness martial arts to examine his surroundings. He saw that the snow from the avalanche earlier sealed the valley completely. If he and the other members of Luohua Liushui did not rush in before the avalanche, they would have been trapped outside with no way in. At this point, all the paths out of the valley were covered by piles of snow which were over a hundred feet deep and stretched over a few kilometers wide. It is possible that he could travel under the snow up to a hundred feet or so, but how could he stay under for several kilometers? Besides, it would be difficult to distinguish direction beneath the snow and he would most likely be suffocated. It was only the beginning of November and it would take over half a year until the beginning of summer. The valley was completely surrounded by snow, how could they find anything to eat that will last five or six months?

Hua Tiegan returned outside the cave and his expression was extremely serious. He sat down for a long time and took out a piece of horse meat from his bosom, chewing slowly amidst his thoughts. After he finished his horse meat completely, he spoke softly: “By the time of next year’s Dragon Boat Festival, we should be able to get out of here.”

Di Yun and Shui Sheng were situated about three dozen feet away from him on each side. Although his words were quiet, they could both hear it as if it was roaring like thunder. The two of them gazed upon their surroundings at once and only saw that snow all around. It would be difficult to find even grass or tree bark to eat. Both wondered: “How will I last until next year?”

At this time, the sounds of eagles crying were heard as they soared in the air. The three of them looked up together and saw seven or eight eagles flying in the distance and thought: “Only if I could fly like an eagle would I be able to get out of here.”

Although Shui Sheng’s horse was fat and well built, but with the three of them eating away every day, it would not even last a full month. Come another seven or eight days, even the head and all its intestines would be eaten away completely.

Hua Tiegan, Di Yun, and Shui Sheng did not say a word to each other. Occasionally, they would look at each other, but when they made eye contact, they would immediately look away. Several times, Hua Tiegan had the intention of killing Di Yun and Shui Sheng, but thought that if he were to kill the two of them, the feeling of being all alone in the valley would be unbearable. Besides, he thought that the two of them were under his control and was not in a hurry to finish them off.

After some days, Shui Sheng’s suspicion and resentment for Di Yun decreased substantially, and she finally went inside the cave to sleep. When December came around, the temperature inside the valley was even colder than before, the north wind blew against them the entire night and they trembled to the bone. As Di Yun had completed the Heavenly Glow, he continued to practice and his internal energy would increase by a percent every day. However, his clothes were thin and in this world of ice and snow, he found it difficult to endure. Sometimes, Shui Sheng would look outside the cave and see him shiver without any intention of setting foot inside the cave. She thought that although this monk was vicious, he still had courtesy.

By now, Di Yun’s various injuries had healed completely; even his broken leg was reconnected and he could walk without trouble. Sometimes, he would remember that his leg was fixed by the Blood Sabre Elder, and could not help but feel sad.

Now that the horse meat was finished, finding food became a serious problem. In the past few days, Di Yun searched laboriously around for food which became increasingly scarce and only managed to find bits and pieces. The reserves of food he saved up were rudely taken away by Hua Tiegan. Shui Sheng thought: “When a renowned hero faces a calamity, he stoops even lower than a little vicious monk from the Blood Sabre Clan!”

That night, on the third watch, Shui Sheng was awoken as she heard the sound of dispute. Di Yun scolded: “You cannot touch Hero Di’s body!”

Hua Tiegan replied coldly: “In another few days, I will eat you alive! I am eating the dead first to allow you to live for a few more days!”

Di Yun said: “We would rather eat tree barks and grassroots than eat a person!”

Hua Tiegan scolded: “Out of my way! What does it matter to you? If you annoy me further I will kill you immediately.”

Shui Sheng rushed out of the cave at once and saw that Hua Tiegan and Di Yun were standing beside her father’s corpse. Shui Sheng yelled: “Don’t touch my daddy!” and rushed forward. She saw that the snow covering her father’s corpse was already brushed aside as Hua Tiegan grabbed Shui Dai firmly by the chest with his left hand. Di Yun shouted: “Drop him now!”

Shui Sheng could only utter: “You… you…”

A flash of cold light was seen as Hua Tiegan drew his short spear from his sleeve, slanting it in front of him in an offensive position. At once, he aimed to attack Di Yun’s chest. This stroke was executed remarkably fast. Although Di Yun’s internal energy had increased substantially, his external techniques were taught by Qi Zhangfa and were nothing impressive. Now that he was suddenly attacked by an expert like Hua Tiegan, how could he endure? In a moment of hesitation, the short spear had already pierced his chest. Shui Sheng cried out in alarm and did not know what to do.

Hua Tiegan had intended to pierce the spear through him completely from front to back, but unexpectedly, when the tip of the spear met his chest, it was obstructed and would not pierce through. Nevertheless, the power of the spear was remarkable, and Di Yun fell backwards from the force of the attack. He flipped over his left hand and hit the pole of the spear with his palm. With a loud crack, the web between Hua Tiegan’s forefinger and thumb cracked as the spear flew out of his hand and into the distance. This palm was so strong that it caused Hua Tiegan to do a somersault before he tumbled backwards. The short spear was tossed into the pile of snow without a trace.

Hua Tiegan was completely taken aback and thought: “This little monk’s martial arts is marvellous, he is not worse than the old monk!” He rolled backwards several times before he got up and ran away.

What Hua Tiegan did not know was that the reason his spear could not pierce through was because it was obstructed by Di Yun’s dark silkworm vest. However, his stance was executed with much power and caused Di Yun to suffocate slightly. When Di Yun’s air could not circulate properly he fainted on the ground. If not for the fact that he had already completed the Heavenly Glow, that spear would have took his life at once. Hua Tiegan’s martial arts, in comparison with Zhou Qi who also pierced Di Yun in the chest that day in Jingzhou; although Di Yun had the protection of the dark silkworm on both occasions, the difference between the power of these two attacks was over five-fold.

The moon illuminated in the night sky. When the two bald eagles saw Di Yun lying on the snow, they began to spiral around in circles. When Shui Sheng saw that Di Yun lied on the snow lifelessly, she thought that he was killed by Hua Tiegan. She was delighted as she thought: “The little monk is finally dead. From now on I don’t have to be afraid of anyone violating me.” But she thought further: “Hua Tiegan wanted to eat my daddy’s corpse and this little monk died as a result of trying to protect him. But this little monk most likely harbours malicious intentions, he wants to deceive me… deceive me… hmph, I will not fall for his tricks. But now that he is dead, if Hua Tiegan comes back for my daddy, what can I do? Even worse, he might violate me… no, he won’t… he is my uncle after all, he would not go so far as to… but this person is so obscene… completely shameless… he will do anything. Ai… hopefully, this little monk is not actually dead…”

She held the blood sabre on her hands and slowly walked to Di Yun. She saw that he did not move in the slightest and lied facing upward on the snow, but the muscles in his face twitched slightly, it was clear that he was still alive. Shui Sheng was delighted; she bent down and extended her finger to his nose to check for his breath and felt two surges of blazing hot air blowing on her finger.

Shui Sheng was startled and retracted her hand at once. She thought that even if Di Yun was not dead, he would still have very faint breathing. How would she know that he would exhale such hot air? She did not know that Di Yun’s internal energy was profound now; even though he was unconscious, his breathing was still strong. However, as he had only recently completed such a profound internal art, he could not yet remain calm and unflustered; he had not yet reached the stage of harmonizing his energy naturally.

Shui Sheng thought: “This little monk is unconscious, but when he wakes up and sees me standing beside him, that would not be good.” She turned her head and saw that Hua Tiegan was watching the two of them from afar.

When Hua Tiegan failed to kill Di Yun and was further attacked by his palm, he became startled and frightened. But now he saw that Di Yun was lying down on the ground motionless and did not know whether he was dead or alive. After some time, he saw that Di Yun still did not get up and began to move forward step by step. At this point his right arm was slightly numb and in pain, if Di Yun were to suddenly wake up he would run away at once.

Shui Sheng became alarmed and shouted: “Don’t come over here!”

Hua Tiegan laughed maliciously and said: “Why can’t I come here? A person who is alive tastes better than a person who is dead. We may be fortunate enough to split him into two shares, why not?” As he said this, he moved closer. Shui Sheng had no way of stopping him and began to shake Di Yun heavily and said: “He’s coming, he’s coming!”

Hua Tiegan saw that Di Yun was still unconscious and was thrilled. At once he leaped over and raised his right palm to strike him. Shui Sheng brandished her blood sabre and executed a stance of “Golden Needle Escapes Calamity” to attack Hua Tiegan. What she executed was a sword stance, but the edge of the blood sabre was exceptionally sharp and there was formidable power in this strike. Hua Tiegan had lost his short spear and was now fighting bare-handed, he was afraid that he would be cut by the sabre and did not dare to underestimate his opponent. At once he executed his martial arts of battling a weapon without a weapon with the intent of taking his opponent’s weapon away.

Di Yun semiconsciously heard Shui Sheng’s shout of “He’s coming, he’s coming!” and did not understand what she meant. After hearing some more shouts and disputes, he opened his eyes. The moonlight reflected the blood sabre that was brandishing against Hua Tiegan.

Although Shui Sheng had the advantage of a weapon, firstly she did not know how to use a sabre, and secondly her martial arts were far inferior. It was not long before she began to retreat in her attacks. She did not bother trying to wound her opponent and could only hope that the weapon in her hand would not be taken away. As she fought, she kept yelling “Hey! Wake up! He wants to kill you!”

Di Yun became alert and trembled as he thought: “That was close! She saved my life. If she did not resist Hua Tiegan, I would have died a long time ago. Although I have the protection of the dark silkworm vest, if he aimed for my head, I would have died for sure.” At once he jumped up and attacked Hua Tiegan with his palm. Hua Tiegan countered with his own palm. A loud clash was heard as both of them fell on the ground. Di Yun’s internal energy was profound while Hua Tiegan’s palm techniques were brilliant; the two palms were equally matched.

Hua Tiegan had a high level of martial arts and knew how to shift gears. Once he fell on the floor, he got back up again and attacked with a second palm. Di Yun could not get up in time and could only return a palm while sitting down. Although he was sitting down, his palm strength did not suffer. Another clash was heard as Di Yun was shocked and flipped two somersaults, while Hua Tiegan was rebounded three steps. The flow of blood and energy in his chest was circulating fast and he thought: “This little vicious monk actually has such profound internal energy!” However, when the two of them clashed palms, he knew that his opponent’s technique was nothing remarkable. At once he mustered up his courage and attacked with his palm a third time.

Di Yun was still sitting down as he countered again with his palm. However, he did not expect that Hua Tiegan’s palm was light and swift and swept past his face. Di Yun’s palm only hit thin air while Hua Tiegan’s palm hit Di Yun squarely on the chest. Fortunately, Di Yun had the protection of the dark silkworm vest and did not sustain any injuries. However he could not endure the impact of the blow. As soon as he wanted to get up he fell back down. Hua Tiegan saw that his attack succeeded and immediately followed with another palm. Although he became renowned through his proficient use of the Zhongping Spear and was even nicknamed “Zhongping Undefeated”, he was also proficient at attacking with his palms and legs. At this point he executed a stance of the “Yue Family Palm”. The palm was light and swift; a palm on the left and a palm on the right, in ten strokes, four or five successfully hit Di Yun. When Di Yun tried to counter with his own palm Hua Tiegan would dodge it cleverly. The gap between their martial arts was much too great. Even if Di Yun’s internal energy was greater, he could not find a good way to execute it.

Eventually, Di Yun could only cover his head and face with both hands. He could not defend at all against Hua Tiegan’s attacks. As soon as he tried to get up, he would fall back down. Hua Tiegan wanted to finish him off quickly and increased the ferocity of his attacks. Di Yun spat out blood three times and his movements became slow and sluggish.

At first when Shui Sheng saw the two of them in such an intense battle, she did not dare to interfere. But upon seeing Di Yun on the verge of death, at once she brandished her sabre and attacked Hua Tiegan from behind. Hua Tiegan evaded the attack and flipped his hand over to seize her weapon. Di Yun exerted all his strength and stroke out with his right palm, the remarkable force of the palm wind blew on Hua Tiegan as it approached. Hua Tiegan could not dodge in time and could only counter with his own palm. In terms of a pure internal energy competition, Hua Tiegan was not his match. All of a sudden, he began to see stars and felt numbness on half his body, he felt wobbly and could not balance himself.

Shui Sheng shouted: “Let’s go! Let’s go!” She pulled Di Yun inside the cave. The two of them quickly covered up the entrance with large rocks. Shui Sheng grasped the blood sabre firmly and guarded on the side. The entrance of the cave was narrow and some of the larger rocks could not obstruct it. But for Hua Tiegan to enter the cave, he would have to shift a few pieces of rock first, and as soon as he did so, Shui Sheng would brandish her sabre and cut off his hands.

After a while there was no more activity outside. Shui Sheng said: “Little vicious… little…” She was used to calling him “little vicious monk”, but at this point they had to join hands to oppose a common enemy, if she were to continue to call him “little vicious monk” it would be quite rude. She changed her words and said: “How are your injuries?”

Di Yun said: “I’ll manage…”

All of a sudden, they heard the sound of Hua Tiegan laughing outside the cave. “The two scoundrels are hiding together in a cave doing unmentionable deeds.” Shui Sheng felt a warm sensation on her face as she heard this. In truth, she was actually a bit scared, because she had already identified Di Yun as a “perverted monk” who was extremely dishonourable. To be stuck in the same cave as him was indeed a great risk, she could not help but move a few steps to the left, trying to distance herself from him as far as possible.

She heard Hua Tiegan continue: “If you don’t stop your illicit love affair, this old man will have to roast some meat. Haha! Haha!”

Shui Sheng was alarmed and said: “He wants to eat my daddy! What do we do?”

Di Yun had already suffered so much grief and injustice in the past few years. Upon hearing Hua Tiegan’s venomous slander, how could he repress his anger? At once he pushed the rocks aside and rushed out like a wild tiger and attacked Hua Tiegan. Hua Tiegan avoided two palms and drew an arc with his left palm while his right palm came from behind his back. Not even in his dreams would Di Yun expect him to attack in such a way, and with a loud crash he was hit firmly on his upper back. Di Yun spat out a mouthful of blood and felt dizzy. He felt as if the person in front of him transformed into Wan Zhenshan, Wan Gui, the magistrate of Jiangling county, the gaolers, Ling Tuisi, and Bao Xiang… the appearance of many vicious people who had insulted and abused him in the past. At once he spread out both arms and hugged Hua Tiegan tightly.

Hua Tiegan punched Di Yun squarely on the nose. At once his nose started bleeding profusely, but it was as if Di Yun could not feel the pain, and the two arms around Hua Tiegan became tighter and tighter. Hua Tiegan found it difficult to breathe and was actually a bit frightened. He also saw that Shui Sheng was approaching with the blood sabre. Hua Tiegan became alarmed and pounded Di Yun’s flank with both fists. Di Yun felt the pain and could not use any more strength in his arms. Hua Tiegan struggled and broke himself free from Di Yun’s grip. He did not dare to tangle with this lunatic anymore and leapt backwards continuously until he was over a hundred feet away.

Shui Sheng saw as Di Yun’s body swayed back and forth, unable to keep his balance. His entire face was covered in blood. She wanted to go forward and support him but she was afraid. She approached cautiously a few steps when Di Yun suddenly shouted: “I am a vicious and perverted monk, don’t come near me. I don’t want to tarnish the daughter of the great Hero Shui. Go away! Go away!” Shui Sheng listened as he spoke in such a harsh tone and his expression was vicious. She was intimidated and retreated a few steps.

Di Yun gasped for breath as he made his way to Hua Tiegan, barely able to keep his balance. He shouted: “All of you vicious people, Wan Zhenshan, Wan Gui… you can’t harm me… can’t kill me. Come over here and let’s fight… magistrate and prefect… come fight me now! You can only bully the benevolent, if you have any guts then let us fight to the death…”

Hua Tiegan thought: “This person has gone mad, he’s a lunatic!” He backed away as far as he could.

Di Yun faced upward at the sky and yelled: “All of you evil people, all the malicious people under heaven, come fight me. Di Yun is not scared of you! You have locked me in prison, pierced my scapula, sliced off my fingers, stolen my martial sister, poisoned my Brother Ding, trampled my leg, wronged me as a perverted monk… I am not scared! Even if you cut me into mincemeat, I am still not scared!”

Shui Sheng listened to his loud cries and felt both afraid and pitiful in her heart. She heard him say how they pierced his scapula, sliced off his fingers, stole his martial sister, and trampled his leg. She was moved and thought: “It turns out that this little vicious monk has actually suffered so much injustice. I was the one who trampled his leg with my horse.” She further heard him say that they wronged him as a perverted monk and thought: “Could it be that he isn’t… supposing that he is, he has not acted rudely towards me in these days, maybe he turned into a good person?”

Di Yun cried so hard that his voice became hoarse and he collapsed on the snow. Hua Tiegan did not dare to approach him. Shui Sheng did not dare to approach him either.

Two bald eagles continued to spiral around in the air. Di Yun collapsed on the ground and did not move. Suddenly, a bald eagle descended and pecked at his forehead. Di Yun was in a state of subconscious and dizziness. When the eagle pecked at him, he immediately awoke. The bald eagle saw that he moved and hurriedly fluttered its wings. Di Yun yelled: “Even a creature like you is picking on me!” At once he gathered up his strength and stroke out with his right palm. The bald eagle was only about a meter away from him and was completely shaken up by this attack. At once it stopped fluttering and dropped on the ground.

Di Yun grabbed the bald eagle and burst into laughter. Immediately he bit the bald eagle on the stomach. The bald eagle flapped its wings and tried its hardest to break free. Di Yun only felt a mouthful of eagle blood burst into his mouth as he continued biting the eagle, as if an influx of energy was flowing into his body. He danced around and gesticulated for joy, shouting: “You want to eat me? I will eat you first! I will eat you!”

Hua Tiegan and Shui Sheng saw as he ate the live eagle like a complete lunatic. Their faces changed colors as they were overwhelmed with shock and horror.

Hua Tiegan was really afraid that this lunatic would go crazy again and try to take his life. He thought that if the lunatic were to get a hold of him again he would be in trouble, so he wanted to get as far away as possible. He looked at the east side of the valley and thought that the way this lunatic captured the bald eagle was a good method. At once he lied supine on the ground and pretended to be dead. Indeed, the bald eagle did fall for this trick, but when it came to peck at him, he could not successfully knock down the eagle with his palm strike. His internal energy was much inferior to Di Yun; although his palm technique was remarkable, the eagle was quick-witted and dodged his attack, it was much faster than he was.

After Di Yun drank the eagle blood, the energy and blood in his chest and stomach began to circulate and he passed out again. When he woke up, the sky was already bright and he felt hungry again. He naturally grabbed the dead eagle beside him without thinking twice and took a bite. As he took a bite, he felt an aromatic fragrance, the taste was not bad! He looked at the eagle and was bewildered at what he saw—all the feathers on the eagle were pulled out cleanly and the eagle was actually roasted and warm. He recalled that he drank several mouthfuls of eagle blood before he slept. Who was the one who roasted the eagle for him? If it was not Shui Sheng, could it be the vicious Hua Tiegan?

Last night when he cried and cursed so heavily, a lot of the grief and indignation in his heart was released. Now that he woke up, he felt feel from worry. He saw that Shui Dai was once again buried properly in the snow. He looked inside the cave and saw Shui Sheng resting against a rock. Di Yun thought: “She has also been without food for a few days, but she roasted the eagle for me without saving any for herself. Such good conscience is hard to come by. Hmph, she believes herself to be an honorific daughter of a renowned hero and looks down on me. If you look down on me I will look down on you, so what?” After a while he thought: “She helped me roast the eagle; even if she looks down on me, I can’t let her starve to death.”

At once he lied down on the ground looking dead as a corpse. Within an hour, he managed to strike down four eagles with his palm attacks and gave two to Shui Sheng. Shui Sheng took and prepared the other two eagles as well. Then without saying a word, she gave the two roasted eagles back to him.

There were many bald eagles in this valley that depended on scavenging corpses and carrions for food. It was such a natural instinct that even upon seeing their various comrades fall victim to Di Yun, they nonetheless continued to fall for his trick every single time. Di Yun’s internal energy and the strength of his palm strikes was increasing by the day. Eventually, he did not even need to feign death; if an eagle would land on a branch to rest or fly past him, he would be able to shoot it down with one palm. There were often snow geese coming and going, pecking at various worms and insects buried in the snow, which served as another source of food for Di Yun and Shui Sheng.

December soon approached, but Di Yun had lost his sense of time. Every eight or ten days there would be a large snowstorm and the valley would be extremely cold for the entire day and night. Apart from gathering branches and roasting eagles, Shui Sheng would spend the remaining of her time inside the cave. Di Yun never said a single word to her, nor did he ever step foot inside the cave.

A large snowstorm approached one night. When Di Yun woke up the next morning, he felt a warm sensation around his body. He looked and saw that there was a black object covering his body. He was startled and pushed it aside. He saw it was an article of strange clothing. This clothing was made by threading bird feathers one by one; the black feathers were from the bald eagles while the white feathers were from the wild geese. The coat was long and covered up to his knees, it must have taken several thousand or tens of thousands of feathers to complete.

As Di Yun held on to the feather coat he felt his face flush red. He knew that it was Shui Sheng who made it for him, the effort of threading thousands upon thousands of feathers together was truly painstaking, not to mention that there were no scissors or needles and threads in the snow, how did she complete it? He spread out the feather coat to look at the feathers and saw that a small hole was pierced at the root of each feather and the thread was light yellow. He figured that she must have used her hairpin as a needle and her light yellow garment as a thread. “Heh, women are so strange. Isn’t she just causing trouble for herself?”

Then he remembered the incident at the Wan household several years ago. He was attacked and beaten into a pulp by the eight disciples of the Wan clan, even his new garment was torn apart. When his martial sister Qi Fang saw this, she sewed and mended the garment back together for him. The events of that day were still crystal clear in his mind: Qi Fang sat next to him while she mended his garment; her hair brushed against his chin and his face became tickly. He smelled the faint fragrance of her skin which caused ripples in his heart. Di Yun called “Martial sister” and Qi Fang said: “Water Spinach, don’t talk, don’t let others wrong you as a thief.”

As he thought up to this point, his throat became clogged as tears began to drop down his face. His vision became blurry and he thought: “Indeed, they have mistaken me for a thief. Is it because when martial sister mended the garment for me, I said something wrong?” But he had already suffered so many crises and injustices in the past few years, he no longer believed in such nonsense. “Hmph, if others have the intent to wrong me, even if I was born a mute, would they not still find a way? Martial sister is truly sincere to me, but the Wan family is wealthy and prestigious and Wan Gui is much more handsome than I, so who can I blame? Even worse, when I was injured that day and hid in the firewood room, she actually told her husband to capture me for a reward. Hah!”

Suddenly, he was again filled with grief and misery that he could not repress. He began to laugh wildly. He walked in front of the cave and threw the feather coat on the ground. Then he trampled over it several times and shouted: “I am a vicious monk, how am I deserving of wearing young lady’s clothing?” With a flying kick he sent the feather coat flying inside the cave, then he turned around and laughed wildly as he strode his way out.

Shui Sheng spent an entire month to complete this feather coat. She thought that this “little vicious monk” protected her father’s body unconditionally without a single word of complaint, and they had only survived to this day because of his ability to strike down birds. When she saw that he was enduring the cold weather outside the cave she could not bear it and sewed a feather coat for him to keep him warm. However, her good intentions were not appreciated; he actually kicked the feather coat inside the cave and she had to suffer his rude humiliation. She was both ashamed and furious. Unable to restrain her emotions, she began ripping apart the feather coat, her tears dripping on the feathers.

She would never have guessed that when Di Yun turned around and laughed, the front of his garment was actually filled with many drops of tears. However, he shed tears because he grieved at his own misfortune, because of his martial sister’s coldness towards him…

When afternoon came, Di Yun killed four birds as usual and placed them in front of the cave. Shui Sheng roasted the birds and gave half to him. The two of them did not exchange a word and did not even dare to make eye contact.

Di Yun and Shui Sheng were some distance apart and each ate at their own roasted bird when suddenly from the northeast direction footsteps could be heard. Both looked up into the distance and saw Hua Tiegan carrying a ghost head sabre on his right hand while his left hand was holding a long sword and laughed heartily. Di Yun and Shui Sheng both got up at once. Shui Sheng went back to the cave and took out her blood sabre. She hesitated for a moment before saying, “Catch!” and threw the sabre toward Di Yun.

Di Yun caught the sabre and wondered: “Why does she trust me so much that she is even willing to part with her sabre? Hmph, she wants me to risk my life to battle Hua Tiegan. Hmph! I, Di Yun, am not your slave.”

At this time, Hua Tiegan increased his pace and when he got closer he laughed and said: “Congratulations! Congratulations!”

Di Yun stared at him and said: “What is there to congratulate?”

Hua Tiegan said: “I congratulate that you and Lady Shui are happy together now. She is willing to give you her sabre. Would she even be willing to give you her body? Haha! Haha!”

Di Yun scolded: “You call yourself a hero of the Central Plains, yet you are a petty fellow who thinks of such despicable and filthy deeds!”

Hua Tiegan laughed: “In terms of being despicable and filthy, how can I compare with the various members of the Blood Sabre Clan?” As he said this he approached closer. He sniffed a few times and said: “Mmm, very fragrant! Very fragrant! I would like to take a bird, is that alright?”

Had Hua Tiegan asked nicely Di Yun would have agreed for sure, but when he saw how mischievous and frivolous he was, he became angry and said: “Your martial arts is much higher than mine, don’t you know how to catch your own birds?”

Hua Tiegan replied: “I am just lazy.”

As the two of them were speaking, Shui Sheng approached behind Di Yun and shouted: “Uncle Liu! Uncle Lu!” She saw Hua Tiegan holding the long sword of Liu Chengfeng and the ghost head sabre of Lu Tianshu. The north wind blew against Hua Tiegan and flipped over his garment, revealing that he had another two layers of clothes underneath; the Taoist vest of Liu Chengfeng and the copper coloured gown of Lu Tianshu.

Hua Tiegan was calm and collected as he asked: “What is it?”

Shui Sheng said: “Did you… did you… did you eat them?” She already figured that Hua Tiegan found their two bodies and ate them.

Hua Tiegan reprimanded: “What does it matter to you?”

Shui Sheng trembled: “Uncle Lu, Uncle Liu… they… they were your sworn brothers…”

If Hua Tiegan actually had the ability to hunt birds, he would not have eaten his sworn brothers’ corpses. He tried every possible means to catch them. At first, he was able to catch one or two eagles. But after a few days, the eagles no longer fell for his trick. He did not have the internal energy of the Heavenly Glow like Di Yun so he was unable to knock the eagles down with his palm. He had no other alternative but to eat the corpses of his two sworn brothers. Now that he was finished with them, he held sword in hand with the intent of killing Di Yun and Shui Sheng. That combined with the corpses of Shui Dai and the Blood Sabre Elder may barely last him until early summer when the snow melts.

When he heard Shui Sheng say such words, his face flushed red. He also began to salivate as he smelled the aroma of the roasted bird meat. At once he raised his ghost head sabre and rushed towards Di Yun, slashing left and right. Di Yun raised his blood sabre to counter. Ting! The two sabres clashed intensely and the ghost head sabre advanced upwards and swiped down. The ghost head sabre was a remarkable sabre but it could not compare to the sharpness of the blood sabre. However, its blade was massive and the blood sabre could not cut it down. That day when Lu Tianshu clashed his sabre with the Blood Sabre Elder, the ghost head sabre was slashed three times by the blood sabre leaving three jags. Today it would happen again, another jag was left on the sabre as the blood sabre cut it.

Although Hua Tiegan was not an expert of the sabre, his martial arts was high. When he brandished his sabre Di Yun found it hard to resist. In only a few stances Di Yun had no choice but to retreat. Hua Tiegan did not pursue; he bent down and picked up the remaining half of the roasted bird on the ground and ate it. He complimented: “Very good! Very good! The taste is amazing, simply amazing!”

Di Yun looked back at Shui Sheng and both of them trembled. The last time they fought, Hua Tiegan was empty-handed, but this time he had a sabre in hand. The first time they thought, even if Di Yun was hit by his punches or kicks he would only cough up blood and sustain injuries, it was not enough to take his life. But this time he had a weapon in hand, if Di Yun were to be careless he would lose his life at once. Furthermore, Hua Tiegan brought an extra weapon for backup, so he really did have an overwhelming advantage.

After Hua Tiegan finished eating the bird, he was still not satisfied. He saw that there was another inside the cave and fetched it. He wiped his mouth and said: “Very good. Your cooking skills are really first class.” He lazily turned around then suddenly jumped and slashed his sabre toward Di Yun. This stance was executed remarkably fast and Di Yun did not guard properly against it and his head was nearly cut in half. He hastily warded off the attack with his sabre. Hua Tiegan was afraid of his profound internal energy; he knew that if he were to clash swords with him, he would be at a disadvantage and his arms would be numb. At once he slanted his sabre and slashed sideways. Within three swipes, Di Yun was already flustered. Then his left arm was scraped by the ghost head sabre.

Shui Sheng shouted: “Don’t fight! Don’t fight! Uncle Hua, I will give you some of my roasted meat.”

Hua Tiegan saw that Di Yun’s sabre techniques were extremely mediocre and could not even compare to third class fighters in the martial world. He decided that he would kill him now to save himself the trouble later. At once he intensified his attacks as he said: “Niece Shui, you love him dearly, don’t you? Have you forgotten about your cousin surnamed Wang?” Shua! Shua! Shua! He cut Di Yun three times on the right shoulder. Fortunately, he had the protection of the dark silkworm vest else his entire arm would have been cut off.

Shui Sheng shouted: “Uncle Hua, don’t fight!”

Di Yun scolded: “What are you shouting for? If I can’t fight him, then he can kill me.” In extreme anger he raised his sabre and slashed randomly. Suddenly, he passed the blood sabre from his right hand to his left hand, then flipped his hand over to attack.

Hua Tiegan did not expect that this little monk would actually be capable of such a technique. This attack came as an unexpected coincidence; Hua Tiegan turned his head to evade the blow, but with a loud slap, he was hit hard on the neck. This attack was so powerful that it shook and numbed half his body. Di Yun was startled and thought: “This is the “Slap-in-the-face Stance” that the old beggar taught me!” He realized this technique worked and executed the “Piercing Shoulder Stance” and “Releasing Sword Stance” in succession.

Hua Tiegan exclaimed: “Liancheng Swordplay! Liancheng Swordplay!”

Di Yun was startled by his words. That day when he fought the eight disciples of Wan Zhenshan in Jingzhou, he executed these three stances and Wan Zhenshan also called it “Liancheng Swordplay”. At that time he said Wan Zhenshan was speaking nonsense, but Hua Tiegan is a renowned figure in the Central Plains and is experienced and knowledgeable, yet he also said it was Liancheng Swordplay. Could it be that the three stances that the old beggar taught him was really the Liancheng Swordplay?”

He brandished the sabre like a sword and executed the same three stances numerous times. But how could the martial arts of Hua Tiegan be compared to the likes of Wan Zhenshan’s disciples? Besides the element of surprise that came with the first stance, the stances were no longer of any use against him. By the time Di Yun executed the “Releasing Sword Stance” for the fourth time in an attempt to swipe away the ghost sabre, Hua Tiegan was fully prepared for the attack, and with a flying kick he hit Di Yun on the wrist. At once Di Yun lost his grip on the blood sabre. Hua Tiegan continued with a “Push the Boat with the Current” and attacked Di Yun with both weapons.

The sabre and sword both stabbed into his chest, but the edge and tip of both weapons were obstructed by the dark silkworm vest and could not pierce through. Shui Sheng grabbed a rock and camped on the side for an opportunity. When she saw that Di Yun was in danger she threw the rock at the back of Hua Tiegan’s head. Last time when Hua Tiegan failed to pierce through Di Yun with his short spear he already felt strange and could not figure out why. He thought that he must have had a bronze or steel medal placed on his bosom that coincidentally blocked the spear head. However, this time both the sabre and sword pierced his chest and it was definitely not a coincidence. He was dumbfounded for a moment and Di Yun took the opportunity to strike back with his palm while Shui Sheng attacked from behind.

Hua Tiegan shouted: “There’s a ghost! There’s a ghost!” He started to get goose bumps as he thought: “Could it be that the spirits of Eldest Brother Lu and Brother Liu have come back to reprimand me for eating their bodies?” He began sweat coldly and retreated several steps back.

Di Yun and Shui Sheng retreated to the cave at once and shifted several pieces of large rocks to cover up the entrance. The two of them had already stuffed the entrance quite tightly before, now with the addition of more rocks the entrance was completely sealed.

The two of them had just escaped from the brink of death and their hearts were beating at an alarming rate. They heard Hua Tiegan shout: “Come out turtle bastard! You think you can hide in that cave forever? Can you catch birds from inside the cave? Haha! Haha!’ Although he laughed heartily, he was actually very scared and did not dare to dig up Shui Dai’s corpse and eat it.

Di Yun and Shui Sheng made eye contact and both had the same thought: “He’s right, what are we going to eat in here? But if we come out we will be killed at once, what can we do?”

If Hua Tiegan really wanted to pursue them, he could have easily gone in the cave. Di Yun had lost his blood sabre and would have no way of defending. However, as he could not pierce through Di Yun’s body he thought there was some otherworldly spirit causing mischief. He was trembling so hard that he did not dare approach.

Di Yun and Shui Sheng guarded the cave entrance for a while. They saw that Hua Tiegan did not attack and felt more relieved. Di Yun inspected the wound on his left arm and saw that it was bleeding. Shui Sheng ripped off a piece of her lapel and bandaged the wound for him. Di Yun had long parted with the ragged and oversized monk garment he used to wear; he covered up his chest so Shui Sheng would not have to see his bare skin. As he pulled his shirt close together a little booklet fell from his bosom. It was the “Blood Sabre Sutra” that he got from Bao Xiang.

He had just had an intense battle with Hua Tiegan. Although the fight did not last long and he did not exert much strength, he was still extremely nervous. After resting for a while, he felt extremely exhausted. He recalled the day when he encountered the Blood Sabre Sutra, how he practiced its cultivation methods by following the diagrams of the male in the booklet, and how it invigorated him. He thought that Hua Tiegan would not let the matter drop; although he would most certainly die if they were to fight, he would at least want to land a few heavy palms on his opponent, but how could he do so if he was so tired? So he flipped to a random page in the booklet and saw a diagram of a man standing upside down, his hands in an extremely awkward position. At once he followed the position of the diagram and stood on his head.

Shui Sheng saw him in such a weird posture and thought that he was going crazy again. She thought that outside was a powerful enemy but inside was a lunatic, what could she do? She could not refrain herself from crying.

Di Yun practiced for about an hour and felt his entire body was warm as if he was next to a fire, he felt an indescribable comfort. He turned to the next page and saw a diagram of a man who stood on his left hand; his body was straight while his legs were hooked against his neck. This position was originally extremely difficult, but after Di Yun completed the Heavenly Glow, he found that he had complete flexibility in his four limbs. At once he followed the position on the diagram, his internal followed the red and green pathways labeled on the diagram and channelled through various acupoints in his body.

This Blood Sabre Sutra consisted of the secrets of both internal and external techniques of the Blood Sabre Clan. The diagram in every page would take an ordinary person a year or so to learn. However, Di Yun had his Ren and Du meridians interlinked and had the matchless internal techniques of the Heavenly Glow as a foundation, even if the martial arts were harder he would still be able to learn it. It did not take him very long to get through each diagram, and he continued to follow the positions page by page. The more he practiced, the more exuberant he felt.

Shui Sheng watched as he practiced martial arts according to the manual. She was frightened when she saw how strange his positions were, and found it both funny and ridiculous. At the same time, she was astonished as she thought: “Could there actually be such a martial art under heaven?” She moved forward two steps and took a look at the Blood Sabre Sutra. When she saw that every page had a diagram of a naked man in various positions, her face flushed red. Her heart pounded as she thought: “If the little vicious monk keeps practising, will he take off his clothes too?”

Fortunately, this never happened.

Di Yun continued practising. He turned another page and saw a diagram of a man holding a curved sabre in an offensive position. Di Yun was shocked and blurted out, “Blood Sabre Art!” At once he picked up a twig and practiced according to the diagrams.

This Blood Sabre Art was truly a strange phenomenon. In every stance the sabre was brandished in an unimaginable way. Di Yun only learned three stances before he understood. It turns out that every stance was a result of various strange positions from both front and back. There were diagrams of the man turning upside-down, horizontally, extending his leg to his neck, or flipping over his hand to grab his ear. At once Di Yun picked four stances and practiced them until he was completely familiar. He thought: “I will continue practicing without rest. If I finish practicing these 20 or 30 stances, in four or five days I will be able to have a rematch with the one surnamed Hua. Alas, it is unfortunate that I did not learn these stances sooner.”

However, Hua Tiegan would not even give him half a day’s rest. Di Yun was focused on practicing the sabre arts when Hua Tiegan shouted from outside the cave, “Little monk, do you think your father-in-law’s heart and liver taste any good? It really tastes great!”

Shui Sheng was startled by his words. She pushed aside the rocks and saw Hua Tiegan digging her father’s grave with the ghost head sabre. He had not yet completely uncovered the body but it would only be a matter of time. Shui Sheng shouted: “Uncle Hua, you… do you not care about your sworn brotherhood?” She rushed outside.

Hua Tiegan had intended to lure her outside. The plan was to first knock her out and then deal with Di Yun, lest the two of them join forces in battle. Hua Tiegan’s movements were quick as lightning; in an instant, he had seized her wrist with his left hand. Shui Sheng cried, “Ayo!” and countered with her left hand. Hua Tiegan evaded to the side and with one finger he sealed her acupoint by the waist and she fell unconscious.

Di Yun still holding the twig in hand rushed out. Hua Tiegan laughed: “Little monk must be tired of living, trying to fight me with a little twig. Very well, since you are a vicious monk from the Blood Sabre Clan, I will send you to your death with your clan’s very own weapon.” As he said this he drew the blood sabre from his waist and dropped the ghost sabre on the ground. In an instant, he rushed forward and attacked Di Yun three times. This blood sabre was thin as a sheet of paper but made intense slashing sounds. Hua Tiegan thought inwardly, “This sabre is remarkable!”

Di Yun saw that the blood sabre was remarkably fast and began to tremble. He clenched his teeth and thought, “We will die together then!” and brandished the twig with his right hand and attacked from behind. With a loud clap, the twig hit Hua Tiegan firmly on the back of his neck. This stance was incredibly strange, if he had a sharp weapon instead of a branch, Hua Tiegan would have been beheaded already.

In truth, the martial arts between Hua Tiegan and the Blood Sabre Elder were just about on par. Even the Blood Sabre Elder who had practiced the blood sabre techniques thoroughly would not be able to kill him in a single stance, much less Di Yun. However, Hua Tiegan greatly underestimated his enemy and treated his opponent as someone who had no foundation of external techniques. He intended to defeat his opponent with ease; when he raised his sabre to slash downward, Di Yun counterattacked with the twig that was as fierce as the wind in a rainstorm. He brandished his weapon disorderly and occasionally he would be able to execute a stance of the Blood Sabre Art and would be able to hit him from behind. Hua Tiegan turned around and shouted: “There is a ghost! There is a ghost!” He turned around to look and he was so scared that his arms and legs became so numb and weak that he dropped the blood sabre and ran into the distance.

After Hua Tiegan ate the corpses of his sworn brothers, he felt a sense of guilt and always hallucinated that the spirits of Liu Chengfeng and Lu Tianshu were coming back to haunt him. When the blood sabre could not pierce through Di Yun he thought that it must be otherworldly spirits supporting his enemy. At that time it was obvious that Di Yun was fighting in front of him and Shui Sheng had her acupoint sealed and was unconscious, yet he was still hit from the back of his body and neck several times. How would there be another person besides the three of them? When he turned around to look, no matter what he saw he would not have been scared. But he actually saw nothing at all and was completely spooked out of his mind, how could he dare to stay any longer?

Although Di Yun hit Hua Tiegan twice from behind, the latter ran away without actually sustaining any injuries, which was much beyond anyone’s expectations.

Di Yun picked up the blood sabre and saw Shui Sheng lying on the ground. He asked, “Did he seal your acupoint?”

Shui Sheng replied, “Yes.”

Di Yun said: “I do not know how to unseal your acupoint. I can’t help you.”

Shui Sheng said: “You just have to find the spot on my waist and leg…” She wanted to tell him where her acupoint was sealed so he could release it, but when she mentioned her legs she thought of him being a “little vicious monk”, who although did not violate him recently, was nonetheless improper in the past.

Di Yun saw the fear in her eyes and thought: “Hua Tiegan is already gone, what are you afraid of?” Then he realized that she was afraid of him, and a surge of anger rushed to his heart. He yelled: “You are afraid I’ll violate you, you think I will… I will… hmph! From now on, I will never look at you again.” He was so angry he started kicking the snow as he walked away. He picked up the Blood Sabre Sutra from inside the cave and walked away without looking at Shui Sheng.

Shui Sheng felt embarrassed and thought: “Could it be that I am actually too suspicious and misunderstood his intentions?”

She lied on the floor for over two hours. A bald eagle descended from the air and began pecking at her face. She screamed in alarm when suddenly, she saw a red flash, the blood sabre flew across the air and sliced the bald eagle in half and dropped beside her.

Although Di Yun resented her suspicions, he was worried that Hua Tiegan would return and harm her. Hence he did not go very far away and kept a watch on her while practicing the blood sabre techniques. When he tossed the blood sabre across the air, it sliced the bald eagle in half and flew another hundred feet or so before landing on the ground. He had completed the blood sabre stance of “Shooting Star in Heaven”.

Shui Sheng shouted: “Di Dage, Di Dage, it is my fault. I am sorry one hundred times.” Di Yun pretended not to hear it and ignored her. Shui Sheng continued: “Di Dage, please forgive me. I lost my daddy and I feel lonely. My thoughts are inconsiderate. Please don’t be mad at me anymore, okay?” Di Yun continued to ignore her, although a lot of his anger had dissipated.

It was not until the second day when Shui Sheng’s acupoint released itself. She knew that Di Yun would not say a word to her, yet he still remained close by her side for the entire night. She felt really grateful in her heart. When she could move again, she immediately roasted the bald eagle and gave half of it to Di Yun. Di Yun waited until she got close before he closed his eyes and repeated his words inwardly, “I will never look at you again.”

Shui Sheng placed the roasted eagle on the ground and began to walk away. Di Yun waited for her to walk some distance before opening his eyes again. All of a sudden, he heard her scream “Ah!” followed by another “Ayo!” and collapsed on the ground. Di Yun immediately got up and rushed beside her.

Shui Sheng smiled sweetly as she got up and said: “I deceived you. You said you would never look at me again, yet aren’t you looking at me right now? You do not have to keep your promise anymore.”

Di Yun glared at her and thought: “All the women in this world are sly and crafty. Besides Brother Ding’s Lady Ling, any women are capable of deception. From now on, I will no longer fall for your tricks.”

Shui Sheng laughed delicately and said: “Di Dage, you rushed forward to save me, thank you!”

Di Yun gave her a sideways glance then turned around and walked away.

Hua Tiegan was so scared of ghosts that he did not dare to cause any more trouble. He could do no more than eat tree bark and grass roots in such bitter hardship. Sometimes he would throw rocks and would be lucky to hit one or two snow geese. Di Yun practised one or two stances of the Blood Sabre Art every day, both his internal energy and external arts grew with each passing day.

Winter passed and spring came. The temperature gradually grew warmer and the accumulation of snow in the valley did not thicken. Eventually, the snow started to melt to water.

In these days, Di Yun had fully practiced all of the various external fist and feet and sabre arts in the Blood Sabre Sutra. At this point he possessed both orthodox and unorthodox martial arts. Although he was still lacking experience, and he did not yet completely grasp the essence of both the unorthodox and unorthodox arts, in terms of martial arts, he had already surpassed Ding Dian. However, he only practiced the profound internal arts of the Heavenly Glow, but in terms of external arts, he had no one to give him pointers; besides the Blood Sabre Art, his fist and feet arts were extremely shallow. However, he was nimble and understood the fundamentals of fist arts, he would not be inferior to any second class fighter.

Whenever Shui Sheng spoke, Di Yun would ignore her in fear of falling for her tricks. He pretended to be mute and did not answer her even once. Apart from being together during meal times, Di Yun distanced himself as far away as he could and practiced his martial arts. After he leaves the valley, there were three desires he had to fulfill: first, he would look for his teacher in Xiangxi; second, he would return to Jingzhou and bury his Brother Ding together with Lady Ling; third, revenge!

He saw as the snow gradually melted into a creek of water constantly flowing out of the valley. The pile of snow blocking the entrance became less and less each day. He did not know how many days it was before the Dragon Boat Festival, he only knew that it would not be long before he could get out of here.

One afternoon, he picked up two roasted eagles from Shui Sheng. As he was about to turn and leave, Shui Sheng called out: “Di Dage, after a few more days, we will be able to go outside?”

Di Yun nodded in agreement.

Shui Sheng continued: “Thanks for taking care of me all these days. If not for you, I would have died by the hands of the evil Hua Tiegan.”

Di Yun shook his head and replied, “It’s no big deal,” then turned around and walked away. Then he heard the sounds of sobbing from behind. He turned around and saw Shui Sheng leaning against a rock; her back was twitching as if she was about to cry. Di Yun was perplexed: “We will be able to leave soon, she should be happy. What is there to cry about? The thoughts of a woman are really strange, I will never understand.”

In truth, even Shui Sheng did not know why she cried. She only felt unworthy and broken-hearted, she could not restrain herself from crying.

That night, Di Yun practiced a bit of martial arts before he slept on the large rock just like any other night. This large rock was not distanced too far away from the cave so he could guard against Hua Tiegan from either eating the corpse or violating Shui Sheng. However in these past many days Hua Tiegan never appeared. Di Yun presumed that all was well and no longer remained vigilant, he went into a deep sleep.

Amidst his dreams, he suddenly heard the sounds of footsteps approaching. At this point his internal energy was incredibly profound and his senses were improved, much different from the past. As the sounds of footsteps got closer, he awoke at once. He listened closely and heard the sounds of numerous people, at least 50 or 60, rushing towards the valley.

Di Yun was startled. “How can anyone get in the valley?” He did not know that the valley was a lot colder than the outside world because it was covered by peaks. In truth, the snow had already completely melted outside, but it would still take another month for the snow inside the valley to melt. Di Yun thought: “These people must be from the Central Plains. Now that the Blood Sabre Elder is dead, any desire for vengeance has been fulfilled. Sigh, Lady Shui’s cousin will come to pick her up, that would be great. However, they believe that I am a vicious monk from the Blood Sabre Clan, there is no way I can explain myself. It’s best if I don’t see them at all. I will let them take Lady Shui first, then I will get out at a later time.”

He made his way to the side of the cave and hid behind a rock. The sounds of footsteps approached closer. In an instant there was a brightness before his eyes, the group had passed through the depression. There were about 50 people or so and each of them held a torch on one hand and a weapon on the other. There was one person at the front of the pack who did not hold a torch. Instead, he held a sword and a sabre—it was Hua Tiegan.

Di Yun watched as he approached with the group. He was astonished and soon realized, “These people came from Hubei and Sichuan. Hua Tiegan is their leader, naturally he would join them. I wonder what he is saying?” He watched as the group entered the cave and at once he climbed several dozen feet closer and hid in a pile of snow. He was still some distance away from the group, but his internal energy had advanced by leaps and bounds and he could clearly hear what they were saying.

He heard a coarse voice say: “So it turns out that it was Brother Hua who killed the blood sabre monk. That is truly venerable. Brother Hua has done us all a great service. From now on he will naturally be the leader of the Central Plains, we will be ready to risk our lives for you upon your command!”

Another said: “Alas, Hero Lu, Taoist Liu, and Hero Shui has perished in such a violent way. It is truly depressing.”

Another said: “The old vicious monk is dead, but the little vicious monk has not been executed. We will search at once. We must cut the weeds and eliminate the roots to prevent future misfortunes. Hero Hua, what do you say?”

Hua Tiegan answered: “Correct, Brother Zhang speaks true words. This little vicious monk has demonic martial arts and is definitely not inferior to the older monk. He must have hid himself somewhere when he saw that we were entering the valley. My brothers, do not be afraid of trouble. We must kill this little vicious monk at any cost so that he doesn’t talk rubbish and spread rumors tarnish the reputations of the three Heroes Lu, Liu, and Shui, and Heroine Shui.”

Di Yun was alarmed. “The one surnamed Hua speaks rubbish, he is incredibly vicious. Fortunately I did not reveal myself, else if they all attack me at once, how can I defend?”

All of a sudden, a feminine voice was heard saying: “He… he is not a little vicious monk. He is an honourable and upright gentleman. Hua Tiegan is the villain!” It was Shui Sheng.

As Di Yun heard these words, he felt comfort in his heart. It was the first time he heard her call him an “honourable and upright gentleman”. In these days, even though Shui Sheng was no longer suspicious of him, but for her to call him a gentleman in front of all these people was beyond all expectations. Then tears began to from his eyes as he thought inwardly, “She called me a gentleman… she called me a gentleman!”

When Shui Sheng said these words, people in the group looked at each other in perplexity. Nobody dared to speak out. Di Yun looked afar and the illumination of the torch revealed expressions of contempt. Some were sneering as if they were taking joy in such a calamity.

After a long while, an old man spoke out: “Niece Shui, I have been friends with your father for many years. I cannot help but reprimand you… this little vicious monk was responsible for your father’s death.”

Shui Sheng said, “No… no…”

“Your father was not killed by the little monk? Then who killed him?”

“He… he…” she was at a loss for words.

“Hero Hua said that during an intense battle that day, your father was completely exhausted; the little monk killed your father by cracking his head with a twig. Am I right?”

“Right, but… but…”

“But what?”

“It was my daddy himself who… who asked to be killed!”

As she said this, many people from the group began to laugh. The laughter was so loud that it even caused the snow on top of the branches to rustle and fall. Amongst the laughs some voices were heard saying, “He asked for his own death, haha! Haha! Your lies are very comical.”

“So it turns out that Hero Shui was tired of living; stuck his head out and asked his future son-in-law to crack it open!”

“Who is his ‘future’ son-in-law? After Hero Shui passed away, that little monk already had an affair with the lady! Haha!”

“There is actually such a shameless woman in the world who would rather have a wild man than her own father. However, to tell her tramp to kill her own father is pretty horrifying.”

“I have only heard of the phrase ‘consensual adultery causes the death of the husband’, but today it is much different; there is actually a case of ‘consensual adultery causes the death of the father’!”

The group had first heard the words of Hua Tiegan and had the impression that Shui Sheng and Di Yun had a secret affair. When she defended her ‘lover’, they gave her more and more harsh words. However, in terms of words in the realm, what is really too filthy to be said?

Shui Sheng’s face flushed red and she yelled: “What… what are you guys talking about? Have you no shame?”

The group continued to laugh. One said: “So it turns out that we’re the ones who have no shame, that is really funny!”

“Alright, alright. Lady Shui, it is we who are shameless. But what about you and the little monk making love inside the cave without a care to avenge your own father, how is that for being shameless?”

Another straightforward fellow reprimanded: “Damn it! Your daddy I have travelled from Hubei all the way down here without rest, only to save a whóre like you? You are a shameless little b?tch. Your daddy I should chop your head off!”

Another urged: “That’s not good. Brother Zhao, don’t act rashly!”

An old voice said: “Everybody please restrain yourselves. Lady Shui is still young and inexperienced. Hero Shui has unfortunately passed away, now she is lonely with no one to care for her. You do not need to feel sad for her. From now on she will be taken care of and instructed by Hero Hua. He will lead her to a path of righteousness. Everybody please do not speak out so harshly anymore, the events that took place in this valley must not spread into the realm. Hero Shui was a renowned and honourable fellow during his life, else why would we all spare no effort to save her daughter? Let us show Hero Shui some respect and not mention this incident anymore. Let us capture the little monk and cut open his heart and liver and offer it as a sacrifice to Hero Shui.”

The one who spoke was a very well-respected man with great dignity. The majority agreed with his words and said, “Right, right. Old Hero Zhang speaks true words. We will find this little monk and dismember his body into ten thousand pieces!”

Amidst the noisy clamours and hoots of the group, Shui Sheng began to cry.

Suddenly, a voice was heard from the distance, calling out, “Biaomei! Biaomei, where are you?”

Shui Sheng heard this voice and knew that it was her cousin Wang Xiaofeng. However, she had suffered injustice and was humiliated greatly, if her cousin were to hear of this, how would he react? She could not help but cry and run back inside the cave.

Someone said: “If the infatuated Wang Xiaofeng realizes the truth, he will go crazy!”

The old man surnamed Zhang replied: “Everybody, please do not panic and listen to me. The young man of the Wang family loves Lady Shui deeply. The snow had not even melted yet and he went into the valley two days before we did. However, the road was difficult and he must have been stuck in some remote place, such is more haste resulting in less speed. In fact, he even fell behind our group. This person is really unfortunate. Everybody should do a good deed and not speak to him about the scandal between Lady Shui and the little monk.”

An honourable person from the group added, “That is correct! Lady Shui took a misstep in life, she deserves a second chance to start anew. Besides, she had no other choice. In an ordinary situation, how would the daughter of a renowned hero affiliate herself with the monk of an evil sect?”

Another said: “Wang Xiaofeng is such a good fellow, but now he is forced to wear a green hat! It is really unfortunate for him! Haha!”

“One is willing to fight while the other is willing to suffer. Brother Qian, you have left your lonely wife at home for quite some time now. It might be the case that the hat on your head is turning a lush green color?”

“Damn it! Only your wife is lonely!”

“That is right, my wife is lonely. But your wife has a partner now in a romantic relationship, she is not lonely in the least bit…” He did not even finish speaking when he was hit hard on the shoulder by a fist. The group burst into laughter.

Then the sound of Wang Xiaofeng was heard shouting, “Biaomei! Biaomei!” and became more and more distant. He was separated from the rest of the group and did not know where they were.

Shui Sheng rushed out of the cave and shouted: “Biaoge! Biaoge! I am over here! I am over here!”

Wang Xiaofeng shouted again, “Biaomei! Where are you?”

Shui Sheng yelled: “I am over here!”

A shadow was seen approaching from the northeast corner. This person ran while calling out, “Biaomei!” and suddenly he slipped and fell on the wet ground. Shui Sheng let out an “ah” and was deeply concerned. She rushed forward to welcome him. It turns out that when Wang Xiaofeng heard Shui Sheng’s voice, he was so delighted that he paid no attention to the hole in the ground and fell in the depression. He got up as fast as he could and ran forward again. Shui Sheng also ran forward to meet him.

The two ran up to each other and laughed joyously. Then they embraced each other.

When Di Yun saw the affectionate and joyous circumstances of their union, he felt a slightly sour in his heart and did not know why. He still could not forget his martial sister Qi Fang, but after all he spent over half a year together with Shui Sheng; even though it could not be said that he felt an intimate relationship with her, for them to part ways after being together for so long, he could not help but feel reluctant to let go. He thought: “It is best that she leaves with her cousin. Hopefully she will be free of disasters and calamities, marry her cousin, and live the rest of her life happily ever after.”

All of a sudden, he heard Wang Xiaofeng let go and cry, he thought it must be that he figured out the news of Shui Dai’s death. After a while, he saw Wang Xiaofeng holding Shui Sheng’s hand walking towards him.

Wang Xiaofeng sobbed: “Uncle has run into misfortune. I… I was brought up by him since I was small. He treated me like his very own son.”

Shui Sheng listened to her speak of his father in such a way and could not help but cry as well.

Wang Xiaofeng said: “Biamoei, from now on I will never leave you again. Don’t be sad, I will take care of you for the rest of your life.”

Shui Sheng had always adored and admired her cousin greatly since she was young, now upon hearing him say these words, her face blushed red and felt a sense of sweetness in her heart.

The two of them gradually walked closer to the cave. Then Shui Sheng stopped abruptly and said, “Biaoge, we should leave at once. I don’t want to see anyone else.”

Wang Xiaofeng was curious and asked, “Why? So many people have risked hardships and perils to come and save you. They have waited outside the valley for over half a year and could be said to be honourable and loyal. Should we not go and express our gratitude?”

Shui Sheng lowered her head and said: “I have already thanked them.”

Wang Xiaofeng said: “The group travelled here all the way from Hubei for you. We should come and go together, is that not right? Besides, Uncle’s remains have to be taken back home. Even if you wish to bury him here, you should still seek the permission of various elders. And what about Uncle Liu, Uncle Hua, and Uncle Lu?”

Shui Sheng said: “We should leave first. I will explain to you later. Uncle Hua is an evil person, don’t listen to his nonsense!”

Wang Xiaofeng had never disobeyed her in the past and saw her grace and charm despite the darkness of the situation. When he heard her sweet and tender voice he was completely fascinated and agreed to her commands to leave first.

All of a sudden someone from near the cave shouted: “Nephew Wang, come over here!” It was the voice of Hua Tiegan.

Wang Xiaofeng replied, “Yes, Uncle Hua!”

Shui Sheng stomped her foot and interrupted urgently, “Will you not listen to what I say?”

Wang Xiaofeng thought: “Uncle Hua is the sworn brother of my teacher. How can I refuse the commands of an honourable elder? There are so many friends who have come to rescue Biaomei without fear of being laboured or vexed. If we just leave after the task is done without saying anything to the others, no matter what such an action could not be justified. My reputation will be tarnished, how can I ever step foot in the realm again? Biaomei is just throwing a little girl’s temper tantrum. I will just apologize and make it up to her later.” At once he let go of her hand and walked towards the cave.

Shui Sheng knew that Hua Tiegan was going to speak poorly of her, but she thought: “I am innocent with a clear conscience, no matter what he says, what can he do to implicate me?” At once she followed Wang Xiaofeng, her face colorless.

The two walked in front of the cave. Hua Tiegan said: “Nephew Wang, I’m glad you’re here. I have killed the vicious blood sabre monk, but there is still a little monk hiding somewhere, we have to capture and kill him at any cost. This little monk is responsible for killing your teacher.”

Wang Xiaofeng shouted in alarm. At once he unsheathed his sword and turned his head to look at Shui Sheng. Under the light of the fire he saw that her face was wan and sallow with tears coming out from her eyes. Wang Xiaofeng felt tenderness and saw her slowly shake her head and asked, “What is it?”

Shui Sheng replied: “Daddy was not… not killed by that person.”

When the rest of the group heard her utter these words, they were extremely angry and all thought: “We thought you would become a good person from now on. For the sake of Hero Shui we did not expose your scandal with the little perverted monk. But now you are siding with the little monk, this matter certainly cannot be forgiven. You don’t even dare to call him a ‘little monk’, you only call him ‘that person’, truly shameless and despicable!”

Wang Xiaofeng saw that the various people in the group scowled and revealed expressions of hate and he felt really strange. He thought the reason that his cousin did not want to meet with the rest of the group must have something to do with their hate, there must be an ulterior motive. He asked: “Biaomei, we should listen to Uncle Hua’s orders and capture the little monk. We will cut him into ten thousand pieces and honour him as a sacrifice to my uncle. Any other matter can be discussed at a later time.”

Shui Sheng said: “He… he is not a little monk.”

Wang Xiaofeng was startled. He saw that the people in the group appeared to despise her greatly and his heart shivered with cold. He had the distinct feeling that something wasn’t right. However, he was unwilling to pursue the matter further. He put his sword back in its sheath and declared: “To the various elders here today, I thank you for your efforts. This matter has now been put to rest. I surnamed Wang would like to once again express my gratitude for your good kindness and virtue.” As he said this he clasped his hands together in greeting.

The group replied: “Correct, the most important task now is to capture the little monk. We can’t let him escape the valley!” At once everyone rushed outside the cave entrance.

Someone accidentally left their torch behind in the cave. The fire fluttered against the wind in the valley. It illuminated the faces of the Twin Knights of Bell Sword, the two looked at each other intensely. They had thousands of words they wanted to say but did not know where to begin.

Di Yun thought: “The two of them must have many words they want to say to each other. I should take my leave now.”

He was about to leave when he heard the sounds of footsteps, two people were fast approaching. One said: “I will search over here, you will search over there! We will circle the area and meet up again.”

The other person said, “Good idea. This place is filled with uncoordinated footprints. It could be the case that the little perverted monk is hiding nearby.”

The first speaker lowered his voice and grinned: “Hey, Old Song, this Lady Shui is as pretty as a flower. That little perverted monk must have been blessed with good fortune over this half year, hehe.”

Another person laughed out loud and said: “Right, ah, it is not surprising that the one surnamed Wang is willing to wear a green headband.” The two of them laughed in conversation and then moved separate ways to search for Di Yun.

Di Yun listened closely from the side and felt really sorry for Wang Xiaofeng and Shui Sheng. He thought: “Hua Tiegan is really evil to an extreme. He fabricated such a shameless rumour and tarnished the reputation of Lady Shui. What good does that do for him?” He did not know that Hua Tiegan was afraid that Shui Sheng would tell everyone of his evil deeds, so he made the first move and ruined her reputation, thereafter even if she were to reveal the truth, nobody would believe her words.

Di Yun raised his head to look inside the cave, he saw Shui Sheng retreat two steps. Her face was deathly pale and she shivered and said: “Biaoge, you must not believe these rumours.”

Wang Xiaofeng did not answer, his face twitched slightly. Obviously, what the two people said earlier felt like a poisonous snake biting away at his heart. In this past half-year, outside the valley, every day and every night he had one thought in mind: “Biaomei has fallen into the hands of two perverted monks, how can she protect her chastity? But as long as she is alive and well, I will thank the heaven and earth.” However, after all a person’s desires can never be satisfied. Now that she is alive and well, he also wished that she would have preserved her integrity. When he heard the two folks say such things, he thought: “I Wang Xiaofeng can be considered a gentleman. If the people in the realm hear of these things, how can I prevent their ridicule?” But when he saw Shui Sheng’s pitiful expression, his heart softened and he sighed deeply. He shook his head and said: “Biaomei, let’s go now.”

Shui Sheng asked: “Do you believe their words or not?”

Wang Xiaofeng replied: “What people want to say is their business, how much can I care?”

Shui Sheng bit her lips and declared: “So, does that mean you actually believe it?”

Wang Xiaofeng lowered his head dimly. After a while, he answered: “Alright, I don’t believe it then.”

Shui Sheng said: “In your heart you have already believed their side of the story.” She paused for a moment and continued, “You should never see me again. Just pretend that I died inside the valley.”

Wang Xiaofeng said: “It does not have to be like this.”

Shui Sheng grieved deeply in her heart, her tears rushed down her eyes. She did not care even if everyone else in the world slandered or mistreated her, but now even her very own cousin treats her as a cheap whóre. She wanted to leave the valley and run away from all these people. She wanted to go to a place where no one knew who she was and never see any of these people again. She thought: “It turns out that in this world, the only one who believes me is that person…”

She rushed outward as far away as she could, but when she neared the exit she could not help but look back at the cave. That was the place where she felt the safest over this half-year. Every night she would sleep in that cave peacefully. She was a neat and tidy person and her fingers were clever, she weaved various mattresses with tree barks and bird feathers and sat on it as a cushion. At this point she had to leave, she had to part with the various items that had stayed with her for all this time, and could not help but feel reluctant. When she saw the feather coat that she weaved for Di Yun, she recalled the events of that day when Di Yun threw it at her. Thereafter she used it as a blanket to resist the cold. At this point she was moved and thought: “Everyone here thinks he is a perverted monk and wants to do him harm. If they find him, how can he handle all these people by himself?” At once she came to a halt and fixed her gaze at the feather coat. She was hesitant and wasn’t sure what to do. “If they actually want to kill him, should I help him or not?”

Wang Xiaofeng saw the feather coat placed on top of her mattress. This coat was large and wide, it was evidently made for a man. He could not help but become suspicious and asked: “What… what is this?”

Shui Sheng replied, “I made it.”

Wang Xiaofeng repeated, “You made it?”

Shui Sheng wanted to answer “It is not mine,” but knew it was inappropriate and did not answer.

Wang Xiaofeng questioned: “It is a man’s clothing?” His voice became more harsh and rough. Shui Sheng only nodded in reply.

Wang Xiaofeng asked: “You weaved this for him?” Shui Sheng nodded again.

Wang Xiaofeng picked up the feather coat and looked at it attentively. After a moment, he spoke coldly, “This is very well made.”

Shui Sheng corrected: “Biaoge, don’t misunderstand. We did not…” But she saw that his eyes were filled with hatred and indignance, she did not dare to speak further.

Wang Xiaofeng pulled out the mattress and asked: “His clothes were placed on your mattress…”

Shui Sheng’s heart felt ice cold. She felt that her normally gentle and understanding cousin now became a vulgar and detestable character. She did not want to explain herself further and thought: “If you want to be suspicious, if you want to misunderstand, then that is up to you.”

Di Yun watched from the outside the cave. He saw that she was misunderstood and his face was filled with extreme desolation. He thought: “I am a lowly peasant, even if I have been wronged in the past it’s nothing worth mentioning. But she is a respected and honourable lady, how can she suffer such injustice?” When he thought up to this point, he felt morally inclined to help out. He saw that outside the cave were several dozen experts searching around, everybody wanted to kill him. However, he could not overcome his dissonance and at once he stepped leapt in front of the cave and said: “Young Hero Wang, you have misunderstood her completely.”

When Wang Xiaofeng and Shui Sheng saw him abruptly appear in front of the cave, they were both startled. At this point Di Yun had grew his hair back and no longer had the appearance of a little monk. Wang Xiaofeng had to look closely to recognize him. At once he drew his sword, pushed Shui Sheng aside and aimed it at his chest. His eyes were filled with fiery hatred and his long sword relentlessly pushed forward. He only wished to cut this person into ten thousand pieces.

Di Yun said: “I am not here to fight you, I only wish to speak. Lady Shui is clear as ice and clean as jade. If you wish to take her as your wife that would be your good fortune. Do not let your imagination run wild, don’t listen to the fabrications of these villains.”

Shui Sheng would never have guessed that Di Yun would suddenly step forward so bravely. And the only reason why he did so was to prove her innocence. She was both grateful and worried, and hurriedly said: “You… you should leave. There are many people here who want to kill you, it’s much too dangerous.”

Di Yun replied: “I know, but I have to explain to Hero Wang at any cost. I cannot let you suffer injustice. Hero Wang, Lady Shui is really a good lady, you… you must not wrong her.” Di Yun was clumsy with words; even in normal times he would find it difficult to say something clearly, much less something so subtle and disturbing, he stammered seven or eight times in succession and only made Wang Xiaofeng even more suspicious.

Shui Sheng urged: “You… you must leave now! Thank you for your kindness. I can only repay you in my next life, go now! There are so many people here… they want to kill you…”

Wang Xiaofeng heard Shui Sheng’s words and saw that her face was filled with worry and concern. He became extremely jealous and yelled: “I will kill you!” He brandished his sword to pierce Di Yun’s chest.

Although this stance was executed remarkably, how could it be compared with Di Yun at this point? He had simultaneously completed the ultimate arts of the Heavenly Glow and the Blood Sabre Clan, when he saw Wang Xiaofeng approach, he evaded the attack with ease. He said: “I will not fight with you. I am asking you to marry Lady Shui, you should not be suspicious. She… she is a good lady.”

As he spoke, Wang Xiaofeng had already stroke out five times with his sword. Di Yun dodged all of these attacks without the slightest difficulty. He was perplexed and thought: “This person’s martial arts used to be formidable, but after not seeing him for over half a year, how come his swordplay is so pathetic?”

Wang Xiaofeng urgently pressed on with his attack. However, every stance was dodged by his opponent with incredible ease. He became even more enraged and violent and executed his stances even faster.

Di Yun said: “Hero Wang, if you promise not to suspect Lady Shui anymore I will take my leave. All of your friends want to kill me, I can’t stay here for very long.” Wang Xiaofeng increased the pace of his attacks; Di Yun had remarkable internal energy but his lightness martial arts was average. Although internal energy is the foundation and lightness martial arts is inessential, he further did not receive any pointers from anyone, so he found it increasingly difficult to handle the speed of his opponent’s attacks. At once he extended his fingers and with a gentle crack he flicked the sword away with his finger.

Wang Xiaofeng felt an excruciating pain on the web of his finger and his sword fell on the ground. He urgently bent over to pick it up. Di Yun extended his palm to Wang Xiaofeng’s shoulder and pushed slightly. Although there was not much energy behind this push, surprisingly, his opponent could not even withstand it and was sent flying backwards with a somersault before falling on the ground. With a loud crash, he bumped against the cave wall. Shui Sheng saw his pitiful state and immediately went over to assist.

Di Yun was shocked at what happened. He did not want to push Wang Xiaofeng, he only wanted to prevent him from picking up the sword and continue the battle. He did not expect that his opponent would fall so greatly, it was definitely beyond his expectations. He walked forward two steps and wanted to help him up and said: “Sorry, I really… I really did not mean to do that.”

Shui Sheng helped Wang Xiaofeng up by the right arm and said: “Biaoge, are you alright?” Wang Xiaofeng felt jealousy and resentment in his heart that he could not restrain. He believed that Shui Sheng was partial towards Di Yun and that after the two of them joined hands to defeat him, she came forward to ridicule him. At once he moved his left palm horizontally and slapped Shui Sheng hard on the face, yelling, “Go away!” Shui Sheng was completely startled that her cousin would actually hit her like this. It had never happened before. She extended her hands to feel her face and was expressionless.

Wang Xiaofeng followed through with another smack on her left cheek. Under extreme urgency, Shui Sheng pounced herself against Di Yun’s shoulders, knowing that at this point he was the only one who had the power to protect her.

Di Yun extended his left arm to embrace her, then he turned to face Wang Xiaofeng and said: “Why… why did you hit her?”

Then he heard the sounds of several people approaching who said: “There is some ruckus in the cave, quickly go and take a look! Could it be that the little perverted monk is hiding inside?”

Shui Sheng backed away two steps and said to Di Yun: “You should go… I… I thank you for your good kindness.”

Di Yun glanced at Wang Xiaofeng then glanced back at Shui Sheng and said: “I will leave now!” and turned around to leave.

Wang Xiaofeng shouted: “The little perverted monk is here! The little perverted monk is here! Seal the exit, don’t let him escape!”

Shui Sheng urged: “Biaoge, are you not victimizing him?”

Wang Xiaofeng continued shouting: “Seal the exit! Seal the exit!”

Seven or eight people outside the cave heard Wang Xiaofeng’s shouts and at once headed towards the entrance. Di Yun increased his pace when someone shouted: “Where do you think you’re going?” At once this person brandished his sabre to strike his head. Di Yun extended his hand and pushed against his opponent’s chest. The person fell at once. He collided with three or four people and they all fell in succession. Amidst the chaos of shouts reverberating around the valley, Di Yun quickened his pace to leave.

When the rest of the group heard the ruckus, they came from all directions, but Di Yun had ran away a long time ago. At least ten people pursued him in great haste. Di Yun was frightened and hid himself behind some bushes. He knew that in the darkness of the night, it would be impossible for anyone to discover him. The group thought that he had escaped from the valley and pursued vigorously.

After a while, Di Yun saw that Wang Xiaofeng and Shui Sheng left as well. Wang Xiaofeng was in front while Shui Sheng followed behind, the distanced themselves over a dozen feet. Their figures were soon obstructed by the hillside as they moved farther and farther away.

Just a moment ago the cave was filled with chaos and disturbances, but now it was completely quiet and at peace.

The various heroes of the Central Plains had left. Hua Tiegan had left. Shui Sheng had left. All that remained was Di Yun. Even the bald eagles that spiralled across the skies were nowhere to be seen.

It was truly lonely and isolated. The only thing left was the melting snow gently flowing out of the valley…

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