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Legend of the White Haired Maiden

Brief Description

The Legend of the White Haired Maiden by Liang Yusheng. With the character Yu Luo Sha, the author brings glory to female characters in Wuxia and gives readers an opportunity to enjoy a female character that is so strong and colorful, she overshadows everyone else including the male characters.

Unlike the typical beauty in wuxia, Yu Luo Sa does not need protection or help from anybody else. Nor is she a sweet, pacified, or innocent little girl. While being noble and heroic, she is also wild and vicious, beautiful and terrifying. To top it all off, she is a female bandit who is extremely well-trained in martial arts, but not at all very well-trained in the literary arts. To put it simply, Yu Luo Sha is definitely very different.

Legend of the White Hair Maiden


A solitary sword emerges from the West, amongst thousands of adjacent crags, the demonic shadow roams freely; they say that the mirror of clarity reflects not the stand, the Bodhi is achieved not by the tree, the conclusion arises from the heart, how is one to judge? Those who are demonic are not so? Those who are not demonic are indeed so? Let time be the judge! Let us now digress, and converse about the young and the heroic, while we are gathered together here.

Amongst tumultuous wars of leaden clouds and thunderous storms, exquisite elegance springs forth from the wintry frost. Pity the beauty of an era, a cloud of white hair hanging above her youthful face, still the sole vow that lasts a century does not yet disappoint the heart’s promise. The short shovel cultivates the flower, while long poems accompanies the wine. Memories of poems and swords are renewed by the mind year after year. On the summit of Tian Shan, watching the dance of dragons and serpents appear under the pen, the ink is tossed towards the Southern Seas.

It was a chilly autumn during the ninth month of the lunar year. Over the Northern grass plains trekked an assembly of people and their horses. They travailed along the undulating roads of the Dai Ba mountains near the Chuan-Shaan border. A few robust and steely looking martial art fighters were leading the crowd. In the midst of the crowd was a mule carriage with an open front. Looking through the open front and inside the carriage, a gentleman who looked to be approaching his sixties can be observed. He was draped with a leather cape and possessed a manner that is both elegant and poised. A youngster with brows shaped like swords and eyes as fierce as a tiger rode on top of a tall horse that was trotting beside the mule carriage. The charms tied to his sword emanating noises as they clanged against the sword sheath.

The gentleman sitting within the carriage was the currently retired Supreme Commander of Yun Nan and Gui Zhou Provinces. His name was Zhou Zhong Lian and even though he resided in a high governmental position, his character was as his name would suggest still relatively honest and scrupulous. Yet the common saying phrases it well, “Three years residing in the scrupulous office reaps tens of thousands in gold and silver.” Besides, Zhou was the Supreme Commander, he need not be a particularly avaricious corruptor and already the discounts given to him on his daily expenses and the presents delivered to him by his attendants will naturally amount to substantial proportions. Therefore even though he has already resigned his position to return to his native homeland, he had to hire a number of famous escorts to protect him along the way.

However, the youngster with the pronounced eyebrows and fierce eyes was not a bodyguard. His participation in this trip was a result of something else. Zhou Zhong Lian originated from Northern-Shaan(6) area and was borne of a wealthy family that had served the government for generations. Yet although the Zhou family was abundant in their wealth, they were not abundant in successors and many generations of their lineage were succeeded by only one male descendant. Zhou Zhong Lian had only one son and one grandson. His son was named Zhou Ji Xian, and he worked as a governmental official within the imperial city, residing in the position of the Vice-Minister of the Department of Revenue. Zhou Zhong Lian’s grandson Zhou Yi Hang had accompanied his father to the imperial capital from a very young age. By now, he should be around eighteen or nineteen years of age. Zhou Yi Hang has always been a very intelligent kid, far excelling his peers and hence his grandfather particularly misses him. Thus when he retired his position to return home, he simultaneously sent a letter to his son asking him to also send Zhou Yi Hang back to his ancestral home. Never would he have guessed that not only did his grandson not arrive, but instead a Geng Shao Nan would come in his place bearing with him a letter from Zhou’s son. The letter said that Zhou’s grandson was currently in the midst of his studies, preparing to write his exams and therefore could not return with his grandfather at present. This Geng Shao Nan was his grandson’s classmate and was well versed in martial arts. Coincidently, he also had something to attend to in Shaan Xi area, therefore Zhou Ji Xian asked Zhou Zhong Lian to kindly bring him along with him, benefiting both sides in the process.

When Zhou Zhong Lian engaged in casual conversation with Geng Shao Nan, he discovered that he was not at all well versed or well acquainted with the literary arts. Zhou thought to himself that a scholar who practices martial arts is unlikely to be very skilled. Thus he silently mused to himself that this Geng Shao Nan must be one of those youngsters who are of average potential, unable to excel in his studies and yet also failing to excel in his sword skills. But surprisingly, the famous escorts that Zhou had hired for the trip treated this youngster with supreme respect and courtesy, leaving Zhou Zhong Lian in a state of puzzled mystification.

It was the forty-third year of the Ming Emperor Wan Li’s reign and the Manchurians were uprising in the Northeast sphere, often invading into the country. Shen Zong had already increased the amount of “military support,” a total sum that was now approaching more than half of what the annual taxes yielded and a sum that was being completely sustained by the farmers’ taxes. Furthermore, upon the emancipated soil of the Northwest plains, the inhabitants were burdened by poverty and bandits ran rampant. Therefore even though Zhou Zong Lian already had a crowd of famous bodyguards as well as his own trusted troops accompanying him on this trip, he couldn’t help but be in a constant state of fear and paranoia.

That day they had just past through the Ba Yu Pass when suddenly a pair of extremely fast horses trampled by them. The countenance of the bodyguards who were leading the crowd all underwent a change of colour.

In a flash, Geng Shao Nan had already rushed to the front with his horse asking in a soft voice, “What is it?” The old head escort replied, “It was the Xi Chuan Twin Terrors.” Geng Shao Nan acknowledges, “Oh, so it’s the Pang brothers. They’ve spent a few years’ time on their iron-palms, we should be on our guards.”

The Twin Terrors’ pair of swift horses rushed past the crowd without even looking back. The old head escort said, “It doesn’t look like they’re preparing to commit a crime.” Geng Shao Nan smiled and pulled on his reins to halt his horse, waiting as the mule coach approached, and said to Zhou Zhong Lian in an offhanded manner, “Please be at ease old master. There is nothing to be alarmed of. It was merely two small crooks.” After a while, behind them approached three more riders with rapid horses, kicking up clouds of dust as they soared past the Zhou crowd without even batting an eye at the trunks of luggage belonging to the Zhou family. The old escort wondered, “Why would all 3 faction-leaders of the Dragon-gate clan all take action simultaneously? Can it be that within the Underground world, there arose some kind of emergency or important incident?” Geng Shao Nan said arrogantly, “Who cares about the so-called Underground world? If they dare to approach us and stir trouble, I need not budge the weapon in my hand as just this single arrow is already enough to send them crawling back to where they came from.” The various bodyguards all grudgingly mumbled amongst each other while continuing to heap words of exaltation upon Geng Shao Nan. However, Zhou Zhong Lian observing Geng Shao Nan’s arrogant demeanour became secretly very displeased as he thought to himself this youngster was simply too conceited.

The group continued their journey towards the west, and by the time the sun was starting to set they have almost arrived near the Qiang Ling town’s Qi Pan Pass. The mountain passageways were narrow and cramped as the Qi Pan Pass was Chuan-Shaan’s hazardous area. It reclines against the mountains and faces the river, the two cliffs reaching heights of over 1000 feet. Below, the river currents were constrained by the walls of the mountain crags as it is compressed into a fast rapid that spans a width of about 50 or 60 feet. Once the rapids gushes out of the valley, its force resembles the galloping stampede of a million horses, and its spray becomes a misty haze of vapour. Once the crowd of people exited out of the mountain’s entrance, they saw that slowly trotting about half a mile in front of them was a white horse. The person sitting on top of the horse was dressed in white, which when contrasting against the whiteness of the horse further accentuates his elegant serenity. Zhou Zhong Lian remarks, “That person looks liked a scholar. He seems to be travelling by himself – that is much too dangerous. Why don’t we run forward and offer to have him join us?” Geng Shao Nan shook his head, when suddenly the sounds of bell chimes rang crisply in the air as a horde of six or seven fast horses came rushing up from behind them, speeding past Zhou’s vehicle. The youngster walking ahead on the white horse had almost arrived at the opening of the mountain’s narrow entrance. The old escort said with alarm, “Hey! Quick! Get out of the way! They’re going to crash into you!” However, before he could finish his words, another huge gust of dirt and dust erupted from the mountain entranceway as another crowd of about 10 or so strong horses were rushing towards Zhou Zhong Lian’s direction. The two crowds of horses were both stampeding towards the youngster who was being flanked in the middle. There was no doubt that they were going to be crashing into each other. Zhou Zhong Lian opened his mouth to scream although no sound could come out, when suddenly the youngster also gave out a loud shout and the white horse jumped up high into the air. With the speed of a shooting comet, the youngster and his horse actually leapt over a fast rapid that spanned fifty or sixty feet, flying over the face of the river to land on the adjacent valley facing them. The riding skills of the two groups of horsemen were indeed extremely excellent as in the midst of their fast galloping, they suddenly halted their horses with force. The two groups of horsemen then mingled together to form one group and turned the heads of their horses around to block off the entranceway of the mountain.

Geng Shao Nan charged forward on his horse and brought his hands together to form a fist, addressing the man, “I’d like to ask you fellows to please step out of our way.” The man with a very long and lustrous beard shouts back, “And why should we move out of your way? A corrupt official’s dishonest money should be made available to anyone.” Geng Shao Nan replies, “But he is not a corrupt official.” Another ruffian shouts, “For us to move out of your way is not a problem. Just leave behind the trunks and you can go!” Geng Shao Nan did not even bother with uttering a single word in reply but instead brought the metal bow down from his back and shot out a succession of bullets, shooting down the people who came forward. The man with the lustrous beard just released a loud laugh. Geng Shao Nan exchanged the bullets for allows, and with a loud whoosh, shot an arrow towards the bandit’s black flag, snapping the handle into two pieces. Seeing this, the man with the long beard underwent a change of colour. He immediately charged forward a few dozen feet and shouted loudly, “Do you know what the rules of the Underground world are?” Geng Shao Nan did not reply and instead starts to shoot his bullets with the speed of a shooting star, and with the force of ice pellets they were hurtled towards the direction of the man.

The man with the beautiful beard moved with the speed of the soaring wind as he took out a thick copper sabre and started waving it around, blocking and deflecting the fleeting bullets that were speeding towards him, causing the bullets to ricochet off the blade and bounce off into all directions as if it was raining a storm of bullets. Geng Shao Nan gradually accelerated the speed of which he fired his bullets, as each bullet flashed by at a speed swifter than the last. The man with the beard was finding himself to be in an increasingly disadvantageous situation as he was gradually becoming inept at warding off the bullets. Amongst the crowd of bandits was a man with thick eyebrows and big eyes who sarcastically shouted, “Now allow us to return the favour!” as he also took out an arrow and discharged a few crossballs of blue flames, shooting them towards Geng Shao Nan in a crisscross fashion. Geng Shao Nan had only a solitary bow which could not be use for two purposes, thus even though he was able to strike down the “Blazing Serpent Arrow” flying towards him, he was unable to impede the arrows from impacting upon the luggage of the Zhou family. A “poom” sound could be heard as the thick sackcloth bag that was lying on top of the vehicle actually caught on fire and a cluster of silver nuggets came pouring out as the bag tore open. The man with the long beard shook his head and surprisingly, a look of disappointment came over his face. Geng Shao Nan executed his divine shooting skill called the “Hurricane from Eight Directions” where the bullets were catapulted at such an intense and tight speed that they were like a string of pearls, arriving one after another. Eventually, the man with the beard was unable to withstand the bullets anymore and a popping sound was heard as a bullet impacted against a joint on his left hand. Moving with the speed of a shooting star, the man stepped out of the circle of fighters and suddenly forming his fists in an act of reverence he said, “Wu tang sect’s divine shooting skills is most definitely a remarkable skill. My brothers and I were blind, please forgive us for daring to be a nuisance to you.” The man who fired the Blazing Serpent Arrow jumped up onto his horse and loudly exclaimed, “Please give our regards to Priest Purple Sun, and please tell him that ‘the Fire-Spirit Monkey’ and ‘Mountain-Roaming Tiger’ thanks elder him for not killing us many years ago.” After saying this, he gave out a whistle and his companions picked up their wounded members and then retreated out of the valley.

Geng Shao Nan put down his arrow and released a loud laugh when suddenly somebody said from behind him, “A very excellent shooting skill indeed!” Geng Shao Nan whipped his head around and discovered with surprise that it was the youngster with the white horse who had addressed him. During the chaos of the fight, nobody had noticed exactly when the youngster had jumped from the adjacent valley back to this valley. Geng Shao Nan replied, “It’s mere child’s play. I’m afraid it will only be the laughing stock of the elite class.” The youngster with the white horse laughed and said, “Elite? I am no elite class. Luckily this horse of mine can still be of some use, otherwise it would have been impossible for me to escape the danger.” Zhou Zhong Lian got off the horse cart and took a long and careful better look at the youngster. He noticed that there was no luggage whatsoever on his horse and the youngster’s manner of speech indicates that he has been well educated. From head to toe, this youngster very obviously looks the part of a young scholar. Therefore, Zhou asked, “May I ask whether you are engaged in an educational retreat? Please allow me to utter a word of caution though – in these times travelling long distances is much too risky.” The youngster bowed and replied, “Elder, I am a student from the Yan-An City, currently I am hastening home to take my examinations. Please forgive me for being rude, but may I ask how I should address elder you?” Zhou Zhong Lian smiles slightly and told him his name. Alarmed, the youngster exclaims, “Elder Zhou?! But you are the revered inhabitant of our town! Please excuse my poor manners!” The youngster then revealed to Zhou his name – it was Wang Zhao Xi.

The two fell into easy conversation, getting along very well. Wang Zhao Xi then says, “Since I am travelling alone by myself, I was hoping elder you would be so kind as to allow me to trail along with your party, under your guardianship. Geng Shao Nan quickly winked his eyes at Zhou a few times, but Zhou Zhong Lian was old and had a compassionate heart thus he immediately replied, “Travelling together can in no way cause any detriment to us, you need not express any gratitude.” Geng Shao Nan said coldly, “I find it strange for you to be riding such a powerful steed considering the fact that you are a scholar. That’s really quite remarkable.” Wang Zhao Xi replied, “This horse is of Turkestan breed and is named “Radiating Lion of the Night” and even though it is tough and sturdy, yet it is still relatively gentle.” The Northwest area was famous for their powerful horses and it is well known that even the common inhabitant is infused with great riding skills. Therefore although Zhou Zhong Lian felt this horse to be extraordinary to the point of disbelief, yet he nevertheless did not question nor suspect anything.

All throughout the trip, the group of famous escorts that were hired by the Zhou family had stayed close to the mule coach, guarding over it. But at this time, they suddenly gathered around Geng Shao Nan and waited until Zhou Zhong Lian finished his words before they started bowing down to Geng Shao Nan. The old head escort was particularly respectful as he kneels down on one knee and gave a bow of respect before saying, “Please forgive this useless old man for being so blind. I had already guessed that Hero Geng you are a grand master, but I never knew that Hero Geng you are actually a prized disciple of the Wu Tang sect. Hero Geng, will you be so kind as to allow this old bag of useless bones to treat you a meal?” Hearing the old escort’s words, Zhou Zhong Lian was baffled.

Geng Shao Nan smiles and helped the old head escort up on his feet before saying, “It’s all my fault. I started the fight and since the fight has been started, I might as well finish it. My mission on this trip is not to escort the trunks, I just wanted to do a favour for a friend and to help him I would gladly run the risk of having knives pierce both sides of my chest. Old escort, there’s no need for alarm.” Upon hearing this, Zhou Zhong Lian became even more perplexed.

Geng Shao Nan was not a scholar. He was actually a second-generation disciple of the Wu Tang Sect. The Wu Tang sect’s status of power was immense and they were analogous to the big dipper of the martial arts world. The head master of the Wu Tang sect was the Taoist Priest Zi Yang (Purple Sun). He has four apprentice brothers: Taoist Priest Huang Ye (Yellow Leaf), Priest Bai Shi (White Stone), Priest Hong Yun (Red Cloud), and Qing Suo (Green Palm). As a group, they were known as the “Five Elders of Wu Tang,” and the disciples under their sect reaches hundreds in numbers. Geng Shao Nan was the head disciple of Taoist Priest White Stone, and among the second-generation disciples he was an outstanding figure.

The man with the lustrous beard who had just blocked their way and started a fight with them was called Zhou Tong, also known as “Mountain-Roaming Tiger.” The man with the bushy eyebrows and big eyes was known as “Fire-Spirit Monkey,” his real name was Zhu Bao Chun. They were both bandits of the Chuan-Shaan area, and in terms of martial arts, they were above the likes of the Xi Chuan Twin Terrors. The Wu Tang sect was famed for being the divine centre of the martial arts world, therefore the sect established two rules: one being that all disciples must not become thieves or robbers. The second rule being that all disciples should not become escorts or bodyguards. Geng Shao Nan was a Wu Tang disciple, and a Wu Tang disciple escorting a big official with their luggage is not something that is commonly seen. The old head escort showered Geng Shao Nan with such praises because he was first of all afraid that the Fire Spirit Monkey and this group would come back to seek revenge and secondly, he was not sure what Geng Shao Nan’s purpose for coming on this trip was.

It was only at this moment that Zhou Zhong Lian realized this Geng Shao Nan was a skilled martial artist. He couldn’t understand why his grandson would make acquaintances with such an unusual person, so he could only express his gratitude to him once again. Geng Shao Nan’s face clearly expressed his pleasure and satisfaction at hearing these words and this attitude towards Zhou Zhong Lian was somewhat haughty and arrogant. While Zhou Zhong Lian continued to inquire about Geng’s relationship with his grandson, Geng would only change the topic or laugh, ignoring Zhou’s questions.

The white horse youngster Wang Zhao Xi was extremely quiet and reserved, but during the journey he was very respectful and courteous towards Zhou Zhong Lian and Geng Shao Nan. After two days, they had just past Qiang Ning and were approaching the Yang Ping Pass. All along the journey, there consistently appeared suspicious looking people appearing in crowds, horseback, as well as mule coaches. With just a glance and the old head escort knew that these were secret scouts from the underground world that were being sent over to keep an eye on them. Therefore during the last two days the escorts were all particularly fretful and anxious, yet luckily nothing happened. After they had passed the Yang-Ping Pass, those suspicious looking people suddenly disappeared without a trace. That night as they arrived in Dai An Yi, Zhou Zhong Lian said, “Tomorrow after we pass Ding Jun Mountain, the road ahead of us will be levelled and smooth.” Hearing this, the escorts all breathed a sigh of relief yet Geng Shao Nan became particularly uneasy, a completely different attitude compared to the cool composure and nonchalance that he bore throughout the journey.

The crowd of people all went to the town’s most luxurious inn to spend the night. Suddenly, the white horse youngster Wang Zhao Xi turned to Zhou Zhong Lian, gave a low bow with his hands folded in front of him and said in a clear voice, “Elder, I am much indebted to you for taking care of me during these past few days and I don’t want to conceal the truth from you anymore. I am currently being pursued by some very powerful enemies. If I can pass this night in peace, everything will be fine. But if there are indeed any traces of disturbances tonight, please do not be alarmed elder. As long as you hang up the lanterns that has the title Supreme Commander of the Yun Gui provinces emblazoned on it, and you should be not disturbed.” Zhou Zhong Lian almost jumped out of his seat when he heard this and suddenly remembered the old escort’s repeated warnings. He told Zhou that along their journey, he should only pretend to be a businessman of some kind but must never reveal that he is a government official for the reason that the Underground bandits enjoys robbing retired officials the most. Zhou had always thought that this youngster was just an ordinary scholar, how could he have known that this scholar was also part of the Jianghu crowd? This youngster was neither a friend nor family member of his and he couldn’t understand what this scholar wanted with him. As Zhou was fidgeting and faltering, Geng Shao Nan batted his eyes and rushed to say, “Since this is the case, why don’t we share each other’s dilemma and help each other through this predicament. Tonight if we support each other we will survive, but if we separate from each other we will both be exterminated. Master, you must listen and act accordingly to Wang Zhao Xi’s words. Let’s make a pact that tonight we should work as a team and help each other through tonight’s threats.”

Wang Zhao Xi smiles slightly and said, “Certainly.” He took over the inn’s banquet hall and sat down at a purple sandalwood table before telling the innkeeper to bring him two jugs of aged Hua Diao wine. Two oil wick candles burned brightly on the table, illuminating Wang Zhao Xi as he tossed his saddle and stirrups to the corner of a wall and then turned to Geng Shao Nan to say, “Take your crowd and hide within the two rooms behind me. If I don’t tell you to, do not come out.” The old escort and Geng Shao Nan had always thought this youngster’s appearance to be very unusual, and yet little could they have guessed that he would also turn out to be so knowledgeable and experienced. They became even more mystified by him.

The wind howls wildly while the stars and constellations shifts and realigns as the night gradually deepens and all becomes quieter, stiller. The solitary figure of Wang Zhao Xi sits within the room, concentrating all this attention to the entranceway, not moving, not stirring. Nobody from Zhou’s group, including Zhou Zhong Lian himself dared to go to sleep. The old escort asked, “Is he really going to sit like that until the morning?” Geng Shao Nan suddenly hisses, “Shut up! Someone’s coming.”

Continuing to sit upright, Wang Zhao Xi lifts up the wine jug and says loudly, “Welcome. You have all travelled far.” Four burly men stepped in through the front entrance. The one leading the crowd had sharp piercing eyes with a nonchalant gaze that projects the impression of cool indifference. He said with authoritative command. “Kid, stay out of any business that doesn’t concern you. Now Scram!” Wang Zhao Xi smiles and says, “What’s wrong?” The face of the steely man clouded over and just when his anger was about to erupt, he suddenly saw the Supreme Commander’s lanterns hanging above. Shocked he said, “What are you here for? Are you not …” Wang Zhao Xi continued to say, “I’m here to escort a patron. Can I ask you to please take pity on the fact that this is my first escorting trip and spare us? Please don’t make me lose my job brothers, why don’t you guys go somewhere else to make a fortune?” The burly man released an angry “humph” and shouted, “You’ve taken us for the wrong kind of people” and with a flex of his arms, he charged into the direction of the bedrooms.

Zhou Zhong Lian was hiding within the room and could barely croak out the words, “that man is an Imperial bodyguard!” Imperial bodyguards were actually special agents that worked for the imperial palace(14). The burly man’s name was Shi Hao and he was a commander of the Imperial bodyguards. When Zhou Zhong Lian was still residing in the position of the Supreme Commander over the Yun and Gui provinces, an official under his command had committed a felony, the imperial palace sent out imperial bodyguards to transport the offender back to the capital. It was Shi Hao who was in charge of the mission at that time, which was why Zhou knew who he was.

Words are often slower than actions, for in a moment’s time Shi Hao has already dashed like a shooting arrow into the bedroom. Geng Shao Nan came out and blocked the way with his right arm shouting, “Who are you? How dare you disturb the revered official?” As their two arms impacted against each other, both sides were knocked back a few steps. Zhou Zhong Lian quickly sputtered out the words, “Commander Shi, it is I, the revered Emperor’s unworthy servant. Has the Emperor brought an imperial edict detailing an order for his humble servant?” The Ming era was known for their Emperors’ tendency to inflict brutal torture and vindictive punishment on their officials. Often, they would over a very small offence use the method of “execution through measured lacerations”(15) to execute their officials. Although Zhou Zhong Lian had just resigned his position, yet he is still worried that the Emperor would for some reason want to bring him back to the capital in order to convict him. He was so terrified that even his voice was trembling. Shi Hao concentrated his gaze and seemed to vaguely recognize Zhou Zhong Lian, therefore he said, “So it is indeed our revered officer who rests here. Your humble servant I am in the midst of chasing after a dangerous criminal, please excuse me if I have disturbed you master.” He then smiled and continued, “Our revered Emperor misses you very much. He constantly mentions your name, saying how revered officer you are a very good official.” Only upon hearing this could Zhou Zhong Lian’s terrified spirits settle down a little, as he hurriedly bowed and invited Shi Hao to sit down and take a drink. Shi Hao said, “Master Zhou you are much too kind, I am not worthy. Besides, your humble servant I have a mission to complete so I dare not stay too long. Please excuse us for our bad manners Master.” Upon saying this, he signalled to the other three imperial bodyguards and retreated out of the room. Before he left, he took a good long look at Geng Shao Nan and Wang Zhao Xi, and said with a loud snicker, “Master Zhou, these two bodyguards that you have hired are indeed very tough!”

After Shi Hao left, Geng Shao Nan noticed that had Shi Hao left behind on the floor a number of footprints that were half an inch deep. Geng Shao Nan coldly snickered, “That lowly servant really likes to show off. How could he possibly compare with Brother Wang’s ability to put on appearances and conceal his true abilities?” Zhou Zhong Lian calls from inside his room, “Come inside quickly lad!”

Zhou Zhong Lian was an experienced veteran in the sphere of governmental politics and as soon as his terror passed, he immediately realized that if the imperial bodyguards had pursued an offender from the imperial palace to here, this white horse youngster must be some kind of violent criminal. Zhou realizes now that he’s been used as a shield by this youngster and if the Emperor was to find out about this in the future, his whole family will be in great trouble. Therefore, at this point he could no longer care about what degree or level their friendship was at, but quickly called in Geng Shao Nan and softly whispered this to him. Geng Shao Nan gave out a cold laugh and said, “This I had already realized” and before Zhou Zhong Lian could go on any further, Geng had already rushed outside.

Within the empty room the candles flickered around, casting shadows around the room. Wang Zhao Xi was sitting there, drinking cup after cup of wine. Geng Shao Nan’s face clouded over, as he suddenly laughed sarcastically, “Brother you really are an experienced professional of Jianghu world, your brother I can’t tell you how much admiration I have for you.” Wang Zhao Xi replied, “Brother Geng, please do not be angry. I really had no other choice.” Geng Shao Nan’s eyes flashed briefly as he suddenly struck out with his arms while saying in a low voice, “How dare you mess around with a Wu Tang disciple?” Wang Zhao Xi’s leans his shoulder slightly to the side as Geng Shao Nan reaches out his hand to impact on Wang’s chest. Wang Zhao Xi smiles slightly as his muscles immediately contracts causing Geng Shao Nan’s palm to suddenly slip over to one side. Wang Zhao Xi was still sitting calmly in his chair as if nothing had happened at all. Geng Shao Nan couldn’t help himself from becoming extremely alarmed. He had just executed one stance from the Wu Tang sect’s thirty-six formations of the grappling technique. Not only does this stance embody incredible force, but it can also be divided into two different uses by using the left hand to grasp opponents in a dead lock and then using the right hand to seal opponents’ acupoint. Wang Zhao Xi was sitting on the chair and it was unlikely that there could have been a way for him to escape. Yet how could anybody have guessed that as Geng Shao Nan’s left hand approached him, Wang’s elbow sweep it away and with the speed of lightning he dismantled Geng’s formation of the grappling technique. Wang’s right hand followed to lift up Geng Shao Nan’s right elbow, before saying in a soft whisper, “Brother Geng, let us stop fighting for the time being. A powerful opponent had already arrived. Remember: if we support each other we can survive, but if we separate from each other we will both be exterminated.” Geng Shao Nan concentrated his attention and heard that there were indeed traces of whistling sounds coming from afar. Geng’s face underwent a change of colour as he hissed, “What is this monkey business? One group just left and already another group is coming again?” Wang Zhao Xi smiled and said, “This group really will be bandits. I don’t want to conceal anything from you, the five most powerful clans of bandits in the Chuan-Shaan area will be coming here tonight.” Geng Shao Nan said angrily, “Elder Zhou does not have much money. There’s no need for you to create such a spectacle and play the undercover agent.” Wang Zhao Xi laughed, “you think I’m a spy? They want to rob me, and not your elder Zhou. But who knows? Maybe after they rob me they may rob you too just for the sake of it.” Geng Shao Nan could not decide whether he should believe him or not as he was thinking to himself: you have absolutely no luggage whatsoever and there’s nothing in your bare hands. What can they possibly rob from you? Wang Zhao Xi again spoke in a soft voice, “Hurry and returned to the bedrooms, immediately take down the Supreme Commander lanterns and maybe this incident won’t impinge upon your group.” Geng Shao Nan hesitated for a moment before Wang Zhao Xi stood up and whispered a few words in Geng’s ears. After hearing this, Geng automatically nodded his head and hurriedly retreated.

After a while, the whistling noises came closer and closer. Wang Zhao Xi opened the front doors and more than ten men immediately rushed into the room. The room suddenly filled up with a crowd of tall and sturdy men. Geng Shao Nan snuck a peak and found that the three faction leaders of the Dragon-Gate Clan were also within the crowd. The old head escort was scared beyond words, his face and lips completely drained of colour as he whispered, “Sh*it! Those are the three most dangerous groups of bandits. Aside from the Dragon-Gate clan, there’s also the Fang Brothers from Dai Ba Mountain’s Black Tiger Rock and the Mai Trio from the Ding Jun Mountain!” Geng Shao Nan said dryly, “There’s still two more groups that has yet to come. Just wait around and you’ll see.”

The head leader of Ding Jun Mountain’s Mai Trio was a man named Mai Feng Chun. He swept his eyes around the room and then cackled, “You really have a way. Now where did you hide the treasures? Did you hide them in the crooked official’s luggage? Get it out right now!” Wang Zhao Xi said loudly, “Now old bandit Mai, you’re considered a veteran in the Jianghu world, yet can you really not figure out where I put the treasures? I see you’re really not much despite whatever your fame may say about you. You need not fight and already you’ve lost a stance.” After saying this, Wang rips out into loud laughter.

Tu Jing Xiong, the head faction-leader of the Dragon Gate Clan laughed loudly and raised a thumb in praise before saying, “My boy, you really are something. Take it out so we can all have a look and then we can be good friends.” Wang Zhao Xi slowly stood up and lifted onto the table the horse saddle that was resting along the wall corner. Rattling sounds emanated from the wooden table. Wang took out a sword and lightly swiped the saddle with it. The horse saddle was originally a very ordinary black saddle, anybody laying eyes on it would have thought that it was just a lacquer wood saddle. Who would have guessed that with that one swipe of a sword, the glow of gold would suddenly come pouring out from within? Hidden within the black metal exterior was actually hard, solid gold. On the very top of the pile was about ten round emerald-coloured diamonds commonly known as “Cats Eye.” The heap of treasures emanated a strange and beautiful glow. The Mai brothers looked at each other and couldn’t utter a single sound.

All experienced bandits of the Underground world were known to be have the ability of ascertaining the amount of treasures hidden within a piece of luggage with just one look, and never would their guess misfire on them. The Chuan-Shaan area’s five major clans of bandits had already followed Wang Zhao Xi for several days and they observed how the dust flew out wildly wherever his horse trod, clearly indicating that it must be the result of a small but heavy cargo of treasures that Wang was carrying. Yet nobody could figure out exactly where he was hiding it because no one would have guessed that it was actually hidden within the horse saddle.

Wang Zhao Xi laughs loudly and lifting up a stirrup, he says loudly, “We are all in the same business. I don’t want to make any enemies. Please take this stirrup as my small gift to the brothers of the Chuan-Shaan area.” The fighters of the Underground world all turned to look at each other as Mai Feng Chun growled, “You are something kid. This time we admit to defeat. Let’s go guys!” They turned around and left without taking the stirrup.

Geng Shao Nan was watching all of this from within the room. When he heard Mai Feng Chun’s words, he let out a sigh of relief. Just as he watched Mai Feng Chun step out of the door, a strange cackling laughter coming from outside suddenly pierced the air. A shadow flashed by briefly and suddenly a pudgy old man appeared in the middle of the room, smoking on a long pipe that is releasing a trail of green smoke into the air. In a very strange voice he said, “What’s this? I haven’t even come yet and already you’re splitting the money?” Mai Feng Chun replied “Brother Shao, we’ve been defeated.” The pudgy old man pointed with his pipe and said, “Who said we were defeated? I knew all along that there was something inside his saddle. I heard everything you guys just said. I’m not a beggar, you think you can get rid of us by giving us that stirrup as if we were a charity case?! In your dreams kid!”

From within the room Geng Shao Nan was able to observe everything very clearly. Even though he has never met this pudgy old man before, yet he could tell from his fierce intenseness that this man was the Southern Shaan area’s famed bandit(16) Shao Xuan Yang. His pipe was a very rare and unorthodox weapon. Not only can it seal a person’s pressure points but it can also serve as a Five-Element Sword. Nevertheless, Shao Xuan Yang was still considered as a famed figure within the JiangHu world. Who knew that he would also be such a shameless scoundrel?

Wang Zhao Xi smiles lightly and said, “Old Shao, you’re considered as my elder and to present this horse saddle as a gift to you really shouldn’t be much of a problem. But unfortunately I have a friend here who won’t let me do that.” Shao Xuan Yang said, “Who is your friend? Ask him to come out and let us meet his acquaintance.” Before he could even finish his sentence, a person rushed out from the room and said, “Wu Tang’s Geng Shao Nan is please to meet the acquaintance of elders.”

Shao Xuan Yang’s eyes slid over to look at Geng Shao Nan and said, “You’re from the Wu Tang sect? It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Shao Xuan Yang then approached Geng Shao Nan while reaching out with his hands to greet him. He suddenly tugged on Geng’s hands using only three fingers to lock Geng Shao Nan’s hand in a deadly grasp. This was an extremely deadly move that has the power to separate tendons and crush bones. Geng Shao Nan pushed upwards with his palm, and with a twist of his wrist he executed one stance in the Wu Tang sect’s palm formations called the “Three rings covering the Moon” to dismantle Shao Xuan Yang’s move. Shao Xuan Yang’s left hand suddenly pushed on Geng’s shoulders and said, “Excellent!” Geng Shao Nan took a step back and with a pat to his Elixir Field,(17) his energy pulsed through in all directions as he wrapped his arms and lifted up his elbows, executing the stance, “Fisherman spreading his nets” blocking off Shao Xuan Yang’s grappling technique. Shao Xuan Yang laughed loudly and said, “You are indeed a Wu Tang disciple!”

Geng Shao Nan had to perform two famed stances of the Wu Tang sect in order to momentarily subjugate Shao Xuan Yang. However, in terms of martial arts Shao Xuan Yang was actually more skilled than Geng Shao Nan. It was just that at this time, the Wu Tang sect was considered as the central divinity of the martial arts world, its eminence spreading afar and there was nobody within the Underground world that did not take heed of their power. Shao Xuan Yang jumped back a step and said, “I don’t understand why you would also want to a share of this muddy mess?” Geng Shao Nan replied, “ I don’t know what you’re referring to. This young man and I belong to the same team. The gold means nothing, but Wu Tang sect’s name absolutely cannot be dishonoured.” Shao Xuan Yang dryly laughed twice and said, “Wu Tang’s disciples cannot take the job of an escort, and they are not allowed to become bandits. How is it that you ended up on the same side as him?” Geng Shao Nan replied, “All business of the JiangHu world can be anybody’s business. You’re ganging up upon a man to rob him. I’m acting out because I detest the way you act!” Shao Xuan Yang laughed and said, “Did your ShiFu tell you to come here and stick your nose into other people’s business? Why did he only send you?” Geng Shao Nan said, “If I happen to encounter injustice, I will naturally act out in order to help. Why would I need my teacher’s permission?” Wang Zhao Xi hastily batted his eyes at Geng Shao Nan before Geng finally understood and quickly added, “All second generation disciples of the Wu Tang sect have gathered here in Shaan-Xi, we were hoping to get the chance to meet such famed figures of the martial arts world such as yourself.” Shao Xuan Yang was alarmed, he originally thought that if Geng Shao Nan was by himself, he would just finish him off and thus eradicate all evidence right now and start worrying about the consequences later. But now hearing that the second generation of the Wu Tang disciples had all gathered together here, he imagined that there must be a big crowd of people. No matter how steely Shao Xuan Yang’s guts may be, he would never dare meddle with the heroes of Wu Tang. Therefore, he quickly retracted his pipe and said with a big smile, “There’s no need to be so upset. Since this man is your friend, how can we not do you this favour?”

Geng Shao Nan’s expression visibly relaxed as he unconsciously used his sleeve to wipe the sweat off from his forehead. After exchanging only two stances with this man, Geng already knew that he could not defeat him. It was only through using the prominent fame of the Wu Tang sect was Geng able to scare this man off. However, he was not completely lying when he said that the Wu Tang disciples had all planned to gather together here, as the Taoist Priest Purple Sun had indeed sent four disciples to Shaan-Xi area to complete various missions and including him there would be five people. The only problem was, they did not intend to meet up together.

Shao Xuan Yang caught Geng in the act of wiping his forehead with his sleeve and immediately stopped in his tracks as his eyes flared up. Wang Zhao Xi silently uttered a cry of dismay to himself. Shao Xuan Yang suddenly released three loud laughs and said loudly, “Brother Gui, you have come just at the right time. Listen to this kid’s words and tell me, do you think he’s lying?” Suddenly a gust of strong wind came into the room and left the room’s candles flickering wildly, threatening to be extinguished. A tall and sturdy red-faced old man suddenly appeared outside, descending from above and loudly laughed, “There are indeed four men who were captured by somebody else. Since others have the guts to mess with Wu Tang, why can’t we? This kid’s here by himself, if we kill him all we need to do is to just throw him out to the crowd of hungry wolves in the mountains. Even if the Wu Tang Five Elders come and find his corpse, this murder will still not be linked to us. There would be someone else to take the blame for us.” Geng Shao Nan couldn’t stop himself from being secretly alarmed as judging from this old man’s appearance, he must be Eastern Chuan(18) ’s famed bandit the Eagle Clawed King, Gui You Zhang. But how did he know that Wu Tang’s four men had arrived here and who could have had the ability to capture them all?

Shao Xuan Yang was simultaneously alarmed as he exclaims with bewilderment, “Brother Gui, are you saying that it was the Demoness’s work? Is this also her territory as well?” Gui You Zhang replied, “What are you being so chicken for? We are the clan of bandits that rules over the Chuan-Shaan area. How can we allow not only a youngster, but a young girl to squash us?” Even though he was speaking, his movements were not at all impeded and with a slight twitch of his shoulder he extended his hands that were as large as a quill-fan to execute a deadly grasp. Geng Shao Nan observed how red his palms were and dared not intercept this move. He moved back a step and kicked off with his right feet aiming for the “white-cloth” acupoint on Gui’s legs. Gui You Zhang emanated a strange cackle and dashed off to the side before extending the five fingers on his right hand that now glinted menacingly like hooks, grasping in the direction of Geng Shao Nan’s ankle.

Geng Shao Nan’s body flitted to a side, yet Gui You Zhang’s pair of large hands continues to execute his moves one after the other. Geng Shao Nan can only continually retreat, silently cursing Wang Zhao Xi for not lending out a helping hand. The force of power that emanated from Gui You Zhang’s palms were extremely forceful and Geng Shao Nan had already been forced into the corner of the wall with no place to go. Just as Gui You Zhang was about to execute his final obliterating move on Geng, Wang Zhao Xi’s voice was suddenly heard as he coldly remarks, “If you guys want my horse saddle, that’s not a problem. But have you men asked for Yu Luo Sha’s permission yet?” Shao Xuan Yang, the Feng Brothers and the Mai Trio presently had Wang surrounded, but when they heard these words, they suddenly became terrified. Shao Xuan Yang jumped out of the circle and approached Wang asking, “What do you mean by Yu Luo Sha?” Wang Zhao Xi replies, “The clans of the underground world would rather rob a thousand families rather than steal somebody else’s small gift. This pile of treasures is somebody else’s present to Yu Luo Sha. Do you really want one Black societal clan to demolish another clan?” Shao Xuan Yang’s face blanched a pale white as he shrilly shouts, “Brother! Stop now!” With a twist of his body, Gui You Zhang had returned to the centre and angrily shouted, “Kid, do you think you can scare us by bringing out Yu Luo Sha’s name?” Wang Zhao Xi replied, “Who’s scaring you?” and flipped over the horse saddle. Etched on the back were the words, “Presented to Madam Lian Ni Shang with our utmost respects.” Wang Zhao Xi said, “You all know that I didn’t etch these words onto the saddle just now.” Shao Xuan Yang pulled Gui You Zhang to the side and whispered, “Brother Gui, it’s safer to believe rather than to question his words. Your worthless brother I would like to make a suggestion, why don’t we just let the kid go?” Gui You Zhang gave out a snort of disgust and thought silently to himself for a while. The Mai trio and Dragon-Gate’s three faction leaders all gathered around Gui You Zhang as well. Only the Feng brothers were left in the middle of the room to watch over Wang.

Geng Shao Nan was standing amongst the middle of the room, shocked and baffled. He thought to himself silently, “Who is Yu Lou Sha? I’ve never heard this name before, why would this clan of bandits be so terrified of her?”

After a while, Gui You Zhang suddenly lifted his hand and with a flash of his eyes, he said with hard determination, “So what if it is Yu Luo Sha’s? Even if it is Yu Luo Sha’s, we will still take it!” Shao Xuan Yang jumped up and stuttered, “Brother … Brother …” Gui You Zhang brought his hand down on the sandalwood table, chipping off the corner of the table and said loudly, “During the last year we have taken enough of this little doll’s crap. We might as well take this opportunity to go out to have a good battle with her.” Shao Xuan Yang stepped back and trembled, “But … But …” Gui You Zhang severed reprimanded him, “And you call yourself a man? Look at how terrified you look. They say she’s powerful, but we’ve only heard of her powers and have never witnessed them with our own eyes. Hey! If you guys have any guts, then follow me. Today I am determined to take this kid’s horse saddle.” The Mai Trio and the Dragon-Gate’s three Faction leaders all stepped back and did not dare to stir. Only the Feng brothers said, “We are willing to follow Brother Gui’s commands.” Gui You Zhang diverted his eyes to Shao Xuan Yang and bitterly said, “I can’t believe that a few decades of brotherhood bond can only be this strong. Fine! Forget that we’ve ever met!” Shao Xuan Yang smiled sadly, “If Brother you are determined to go, your unworthy brother can only listen to you and be at your command.” Gui You Zhang unleashed a lion-like roar and extended his grasp towards Wang despite the table situated between them. Wang Zhao Xi’s body flitted to one side, escaping his attack. The Feng brothers flanked him from the left and right sides, yet Wang Zhao Xi’s body glides around as he executes the stance “Left-Right Extending the bow” and blocked off the Feng brothers. Gui You Zhang flicked his wrist and raised his middle and index fingers to suddenly strike out at Wang Zhao Xi’s eyes. Wang Zhao Xi warded off the stab with a “Phoenix Dipping her Head” and jumped off to a side, laughing coldly, “Old Gui, you’ve fallen into my “attack hindrance” trap! If you want to take the saddle you better hurry up and take it now, otherwise it’ll be too late! Listen! What sound do you hear outside?” Gui You Zhang concentrated his attention to the noises of the time gong clanging five times, announcing the time. The long night passes by quickly. It was already the fifth hour. Wang Zhao Xi laughed and said, “Do you hear the time? It’s Five! Yu Luo Sha will be here momentarily. Old Gui, if you don’t stop now you’ll die without even a decent burial spot!” Gui You Zhang angrily shouted, “You’re just trying to kill more time. Let me send you to hell first!” and with a forceful palm, he brought it down upon Wang’s head.

Wang Zhao Xi moved with the speed of thunder while laughing heartily all the while, and with two sweeping movements he extinguished the oil-wick lamp that was lighting up the room. The room suddenly becomes a mass of darkness. Geng Shao Nan backed up and hugged the walls, not daring to even breathe. Even though the large crowd of bandits far outnumbered Wang and Geng, yet during this moment of darkness nobody dared to move. Gui You Zhang listened silently, concentrating, and just at the moment when he decided to attack he suddenly heard a sound of crystal clear laughter. The laughter originally sounded very far, but in the split of a second it has already arrived outside the door. Suddenly everyone’s eyes lighted up as a troop of beautiful young women entered in the room. There were four girls leading the pack, each carrying lanterns made of jade coloured silk. There were four more girls standing at the rear of the crowd, four girls in total were on the left and four stood on the right side, surrounding a girl in the middle. This young girl was as beautiful as a heavenly immortal, wearing an almond coloured dress with a white sash tied to her waist. Her expression invoked the aura of the autumn springs, her eyebrows were so long and elegant, they extended into her hairline. Bearing an astounding smile, she entered into the room one step at a time. The clan of bandits within the room all froze over as if they had suddenly been transformed into wooden dolls, a few of them changed the colour of aged dust, shrinking against one side not daring to move a single muscle.

Wang Zhao Xi exclaimed with delight, “Heroine Lian, my father delivers his utmost respects, asking that elder you are well.” The young girl nods her head slightly and replied, “That is kind of him.” Wang Zhao Xi said, “Father told me to bring this horse saddle to you, but they …” The young girl lowered her brow as she smiled and said, “I already knew about the purpose of your trip. Are these men interested in the horse saddle?” She surveyed the room with the eye of a phoenix, Shao Xuan Yang hurriedly exclaimed, “I didn’t know this saddle belonged to you elder.” Geng Shao Nan laughed to himself silently, thinking that judging from looks this girl was merely around twenty years of age whereas Shao Xuan Yang was already an old man. He found it pure ludicrousness to see Shao actually call a young girl “elder”.

The young girl raised her eyebrows and said with a chilling laugh, “Those who didn’t know cannot be blamed. Leave this mountain now.” She paused for a while before saying with a laugh, “Old Gui, you’re here as well? I still haven’t received any tributes from you this month. Have you forgotten about it?” Gui You Zhang slowed his breathing and calmed down a little before suddenly shrieking out, “Yu Luo Sha, others may be scared of you. But I’m not. This isn’t your territory! That horse saddle is mine! What are you going to do about it?” With the speed of an arrow, he rushed towards her. The young girl whom they called Yu Luo Sha calmly asked, “Is there anybody else who wants a share of this horse saddle?” The Mai Trio and the three faction leaders from the Dragon-Gate clan all shrivelled up against a corner and stammered, “We dare not!” Shao Xuan Yang was as pale as a ghost and just stood there trembling, unable to utter a single sound. The Fang brothers were standing behind Gui You Zhang, they remained silent. Yu Luo Sha gave out a long laugh and said, “Old Gui, Who needs you to be afraid of me?” Gui You Zhang had just arrived in front of Yu Luo Sha as he extended those quill-fan sized hands of his into a grasp. Yu Luo Sha did not even seem to acknowledge his presence, and by the time Gui You Zhang clamped down she had already disappeared. Before Gui You Zhang can even begin to retreat, it had already become too late. A searing pain erupted in his back and he fell to the floor. The Fang brothers weren’t even able to register anything before Yu Luo Sha also sent out a palm to each one of them. They fell to the floor, rolling back and forth, screaming wildly in pain.

Yu Luo Sha had consecutively executed three deadly moves with the speed of a lighting bolt. Yet despite having just sent three powerful bandits sprawling across the floor, she remains composed and unruffled, smiling all the while as if nothing had happened. All of the bandits in the room were dumbfounded into a complete state of respect and submission. Yu Luo Sha turns to the Mai Trio and the faction leaders of the Dragon-Gate Clan saying, “This has nothing to do with all of you. Now get up!” Shao Xuan Yang continues to beg for mercy, but Yu Luo Sha only continues to wear her chilling smile and does not reply.

Among the three people lying on the floor, Gui Yao Zhang’s martial arts was the most proficient. Therefore when he was hit, he generated his inner energy to withstand the pain, which was why initially he wasn’t shrieking in pain like the Fang brothers. But little did he know that as soon as he started generating his inner energies, it was like millions of poisonous snakes were coursing through his body and biting chunks out of his flesh. All his vital organs were shaken up and traumatized. Even though he wanted to scream out in pain, he couldn’t. The bystanders watched how emissions of heat waves started to radiate from the top of his head and sweat beads the size of beans emanated one drop after another. The muscles of his face were severely contorting with pain, completely warping his face. It was indeed a most excruciating method of torment.

The Fang brothers pleaded, “We beg of you elder. Please have mercy on us and kill us quickly!” Gui You Zhang’s widened his eyes in agreement although he wasn’t unable to utter a single sound. Yu Luo Sha smiles and said, “Fang brothers, since you guys were just accomplices, I can therefore lighten your sentence and relieve you of your suffering.” She jumped up and with a flex of her slender legs unleashed a flying kick to each man. They both screamed out in pain and then laid unmoving on the ground. Geng Shao Nan was horrified. He couldn’t believe that such a beautiful young girl could actually turn out to be such a cruel killer.

After Yu Luo Sha had finished off the Fang brothers, she turned to Shao Xuan Yang and beckoned with her hands saying, “Come over here!” Shao Xuan Yang held on to the wall for support with both his hands and approached Yu Luo Sha one step at time, his body trembling all over during every step of the way. Yu Lou Sha says to him gently, “You and Old Gui have been friends for more than ten years now and are as close as brothers right?” Shao Xuan Yang’s heart was pounding so hard he thought it was going to burst as he hurriedly said, “Heroine! You are a most fair judge. You must know that this has nothing to do with me.” Yu Luo Sha’s face suddenly clouded over as she said in a severe tone, “And you call yourself an experienced veteran bandit. You don’t even know about the taboos of being a bandit! And you have absolutely no observational ability. I can’t believe you still hang around the Underground world and dare to crown yourself ruler and lord. Look at him, he’s a solitary youngster carrying a bunch of precious jewels, do you think he would dare to do such a thing if he did not have a powerful backup? I’ll be honest with you, if he didn’t offer these jewels to me as a gift, even I wouldn’t dare rob him. How much do you know about his background? You don’t even check him out carefully and already you listen to other people’s commands to gather around together and rob him en masse? You are absolutely blind!” As Shao Xuan Yang listened Yu Luo Sha’s scolding words become more and more severe and her attitude becoming more and more angry, his heart actually became more and more calm. After she finished her angry lecture, he had already completely calmed down. He knows what Yu Luo Sha’s temper was like, if she treats you in a sweet and gentle manner after something significant has happened, her next step would undoubtedly be to execute some kind of malicious and lethal move. But if she very severely lectures you, then she most likely won’t do much to you. After she finishes scolding him, Shao Xuan Yang spreads open his left and right arms and slapped himself hard twice before saying loudly, “I am blind! I have no right to be a bandit anymore. I await elder’s lecture and reprimanding.” Yu Lou Sha crossly says, “Since you admit to your wrong doings, I will relieve you of your punishments. Come over here now and kill your brother.” Shao Xuan Yang’s face paled. Gui You Zhang was nevertheless his good brother for many years, how could he possibly execute the act? Gui You Zhang was still rolling around on the floor, gradually rolling over to Shao Xuan Yang’s side. There was a painful look in his pleading eyes that seems to be begging Shao to kill him off right away.

Geng Shao Nan couldn’t stand it any more as he suddenly stepped out and said in a loud voice, “Gui You Zhang is indeed a malevolent villain, you can kill him and nobody would say that you are doing the wrong thing because you would only be eradicating a bully in the Underground world. But telling the brothers to kill each other – that is not the style of the good orthodox sects.” Yu Luo Sha’s face suddenly changed colour as she continued to smile and say, “Which sect are you from?” Geng Shao Nan said arrogantly, “I am the second generation disciple of the Wu Tang sect!” Yu Luo Sha said, “Oh … so it’s the Wu Tang sect. A honour indeed.” An expression like the waves of the autumn springs passed over her face as she suddenly said, “Shao Xuan Yang, I was just testing the nature of your conscience and character. Though you are part of Gui You Zhang’s group, yet you’re not as riotous and unruly as he is. When I told you to kill him, you didn’t just follow my orders and killed a friend in order to protect yourself. Alright, because of these two things, I will spare you from any punishment” and in the space between uttering these words, she kicked out with her slim legs and with a light tap, ended Gui You Zhang’s life.

During the midst of Yu Luo Sha’s light conversation and dazzling smiles, she had already annihilated three powerful bandits. She signalled with her hands and said, “All of you, go and wait for me at the Ding Jun mountain.” With a smile she pointed to Geng Shao Nan and said, “Where are you going? Wanted to go back and protect your Master Zhou? Take your Master Zhou and his luggage, then follow me to the mountain as well.”

Geng Shao Nan was taken back as he thought to himself, who does this Yu Luo Sha think she is? How dare she hassle our Wu Tang sect as well? It should be known that the Wu Tang sect was claimed as the centre divinity of the martial arts world therefore many disciples within the sect would undoubtedly cultivate a very arrogant and haughty attitude, especially Geng Shao Nan. But observing at how incredibly vicious Yu Luo Sha’s methods were, he was afraid that he would not be her match. Yet though he knew that he must obey her orders, he wasn’t able to forsake his pride. Just as he was hesitating, he suddenly saw Wang Zhao Xi gave him a look as he said, “Brother Geng also holds Heroine Lian you in extreme reverence. All along the journey he said to me that he hopes he could get the chance to show reverence to senior you!” Geng Shao Nan knew that Wang Zhao Xi was worried that he will act impetuously and thus get himself into great trouble, which was why he was trying to say a few good words on his behalf. Though Geng was displeased about this, yet he was nevertheless grateful for Wang’s efforts as he thought to himself: a true man should not allow himself to fall into an evident trap. I’ll follow her for now and see what she dares to do. If I don’t give her some face this time, she might then rob the Zhou family and I would then have done a disservice to my fellow martial art brother. Fighting with her will at least allow me to pay back tonight’s humiliation.

Geng Shao Nan then returned to the bedroom and told Zhou Zhong Lian about Yu Luo Sha’s orders. The old head escort had been observing through the crack in the door all along, scared out of his wits. While still shaking, he hurriedly tried to convince Zhou Zhong Lian to abide by her words. Zhou Zhong Lian was a relatively forgiving and magnanimous person, therefore he only sighed and said “as long as she spares our lives, then let them take these materialistic things.”

After a whole night of commotion, traces of the dawn’s early morning rays were already beginning to appear in the skies. Yu Luo Sha along with the eight young girls commanded the crowd of bandits to bring the Zhou family’s luggage up to Ding Jun Mountain, a branch belonging to the Dai Ba Mountain. The watch stations on the mountain were all equipped with tight security. All along the trail, from the foot of the mountain to the very peak, Yu Luo Sha’s female bandits were there to welcome them. Women of the South typically carries a sort of masculine flair to them and after being trained by Yu Luo Sha, they even more greatly exemplified an ideal balance between masculine toughness and curvaceous femininity. They truly epitomized a powerful and orderly Female Troop. Wang Zhao Xi couldn’t help himself from being truly impressed by them as he thought to himself, “these women are much more stronger than my father’s troops.”

As they arrived at the mountain fortress, Yu Luo Sha commanded her servants to direct the Zhou family to the biggest guest room and bring their luggage towards the back of the fortress. Wang Zhao Xi was shown to another guest inn. After Yu Luo Sha left, Geng Shao Nan asked the head escort softly, “Old escort, you have been an escort within the Southwest area for a long time, exactly who is this Yu Luo Sha?” The old escort replied, “This Yu Luo Sha is a female bandit that has become a powerful figure during the last two years. Her name is Lian Ni Shang. Nobody knows about her history, where she came from and where she learned her incredible martial art skills. Legend has it that she made her first appearance two years ago and used her two palms and the solitary sword in her hand to consecutively beat 18 powerful bandits. When she was battling these bandits, Li Er Fu, the famed fighter of the Western Shaan area was there watching the fight and he said afterwards that Yu Luo Sha’s sword and palm skills belonged to a completely different realm than the style of the other major sects. The mystifying and malicious nature of her skills was nothing like he has ever seen before. He also said that within ten years, the world’s number one fighter would have to give way to this young doll.” Geng Shao Nan gave a snort of disgust and the old escort immediately stopped talking as he realized that his words were out of place. During the last ten years, everybody knew that it was Wu Tang’s sect’s Purple Sun Taoist Priest who was the number one fighter in the martial arts world. If Li Er Fu’s words were correct, then that would mean that Wu Tang’s leader status within the martial arts world would be unstable? Thus the old escort nervously laughed and immediately said, “Though old hero Li is a much respected and famed figure with worldly experience, but it is obvious that he has exaggerated Yu Luo Sha’s abilities. Your Wu Tang sect’s Nine Palace Heavenly Palms and the 72 styles of the Sequential Chain-linking Swords are the epitome of the authentic and orthodox martial arts. How can these debauched and unorthodox palm or sword tricks ever compare?” Hearing these words Geng Shao Nan finally gave out a laugh of relief, his discontent having been greatly mitigated.

Geng Shao Nan and the rest of his group remained in their rooms for the whole day, nobody daring to take a single unauthorized step. When night came around, two female bandits suddenly came in and said, “Our fortress master would like to invite Master Zhou and Hero Geng to come and attend the banquet.”

The mountain fortress was brightly lit and there were two tables filled with food and drinks. Aside from the young girl called Yu Luo Sha who was sitting uprightly and looking as beautiful as the heavenly immortals, the rest of the guests were all rough and masculine looking men, all were great bandits of the Underground world. The bandits that the Zhou crowd encountered along the road such as the “Xi-Chuan Two Terrors”, “Mountain Roaming Tiger” Zhou Tong and “Fire Spirit Monkey” Zhu Bao Chun were also included in the feast. Around the tables stood 12 young female attendants pouring wine, presenting the dishes and keeping watch – they were all female bandits that belonged to the fortress. Amongst the crowd of coarse and burly men there interspersed smartly groomed, elegant and tidy females. The two genders facing and contrasting against each other presented an amusing sight indeed. The Underground bandits were all as still as winter cicadas, acting terrified and nervous like a timid girl. Whereas the group of young women were all brave, self-assured, distinguished and outstanding. As they surveyed the crowd of bandits with an amused smile playing around their lips, it further brought out their noble beauty. Geng Shao Nan thought to himself: the women were commanding, the men were effeminate. This was indeed the strangest banquet in the world. Yet nevertheless, secretly within his heart he couldn’t help but be truly impressed by Yu Luo Sha.

After three round of drinks, Yu Luo Sha stood up and made a sweeping motion with her hands before commanding, “bring out lord Wang’s presents!” Immediately female attendants brought up five basins made of gold, each one covered with a red cloth. Yu Luo Sha revealed the contents within the two basins on her left hand side. Zhou Zhong Lian unleashed a scream of terror when he saw that sitting within the basins were two severed human heads, dripping with blood. Yu Luo Sha smiles slightly and turns to Wang Zhao Xi to say, “This is what your father wants.” Then she unveiled the remaining three basins to reveal that within them were also three bloody heads. Yu Luo Sha took out each one of the heads and displayed them around for all to see, smiling faintly once again and said, “These three people dared to show disrespect to lord Wang you, therefore I decided to take their heads and present them to you as a small gift. There was still one more accomplice who has been severely punished, I’m sure that he would not dare to bother young master you again.” Zhou Zhong Lian having seen the last three decapitated heads became even more terrified as the three heads were actually last night’s three imperial bodyguards that were commanded by Shi Hao. Never could he have guessed that within the span of a night, they would have all have died under Yu Luo Sha’s hands.

Wang Zhao Xi also stood up and with a bow he said, “I am most grateful for such valued gifts. However, at the present moment I have no intentions of returning home.” Yu Luo Sha replied, “I know that you must have other things to attend to and will have a long journey ahead of you. Naturally I would not bother you with such a small gift, I will command someone to deliver it to your father along with the alliance treaty,” Wang Zhao Xi expressed his gratitude in reply. Yu Luo Sha turned to the crowd of bandits and smiled, “You guys can be said to have become acquaintances through a good fight. Let me now resolve this conflict for you guys. His father is Northern Shaan’s Wang Jia Yin.” The crowd of bandits all gave out forced laughter and said, “Oh! Then it was truly stupid of us! It’s like the river that floods the Dragon-King’s temple!(20) We were fighting our own people! If we knew that this was Brother Wang, we most definitely would not have dared to trail and touch him!”

Wang Jia Yin was actually the renowned head of the bandits in the Northern Shaan area. Under his command was a crowd of famed bandits, including Gao Ying Xiang, Wang Zuo Gua, Mountain-Soaring Tiger(21) , Crimson Wolf and the likes. Although Wang’s power was securely backed up and his name was renowned and feared, yet he was never able to extend his power beyond Southern Shaan area. During the Ming dynasty’s Wan Li era of reign, there were thirteen major clans of bandits belonging to the Western Shaan area and they were all rivalling against each other. This Wang Jia Yin had quite ambitious goals and ideals, therefore after he became sworn brothers with Northern Shaan’s famed bandit Gao Ying Xiang, within ten years of time he has already become the master of bandits within the Northern Shaan area. He strategized to unite all the bandits within the whole Shaan area hoping that together, they can do something truly shocking. But the bandits of the Mid-Shaan and Southern Shaan areas would not listen to his commands. During the last two years Yu Luo Sha established her name amongst the bandits in the Southern Shaan area and two big rivals of Wang Jia Yin were also active in Southern Shaan. Therefore Wang Jia Yin gathered together valuable presents and told his son Wang Zhao Xi to personally travel to the Southern Shaan area to contact Yu Luo Sha. According to the rules of the Underground world, the boundaries of territories have to be strictly respected. Therefore Wang Zhao Xi must not take too many people along with him on this mission and could only travel into the dangerous zones by himself. Yet little could he have guessed that the imperial bodyguards dispersed throughout the various provinces were actually very competent, for as soon as Wang Zhao Xi took off they immediately sent out Shi Hao and his troop, these four skilled fighters to secretly trail after him. At the same time, the Chuan-Shaan area’s five major clans of bandits were all after the treasures Wang was carrying and therefore they also secretly trailed along.

After Geng Shao Nan heard about Wang Zhao Xi’s background, he started to silently curse to himself: This scoundrel has actually set a meeting with Yu Luo Sha all along. How dare he use my Wu Tang sect’s great name to help him ward off the pursuers until Yu Luo Sha arrives? Now it’s caused both me and the Zhou family to become this wench’s prisoners.

Yu Luo Sha paused briefly before raising her cup of wine and saying, “From now on, the whole of the Underground clans will be like a big family. I have already made an alliance pact with Brother Wang. We hope that you can all join us, and from now on we will all look out for each other. If nobody has any objections to this, then empty your glasses with me” and with a big gulp, Yu Luo Sha emptied her whole glass. How could any of the bandits at the banquet dare not to follow her orders? They all got up and lifted their glasses to each other. Yu Luo Sha gave out a hearty laugh before gesturing to a female attendant and spoke a few words to her. The female bandit went inside and after a while she brought out four people. Geng Shao Nan was startled when he saw them, for the four men were his four fellow martial art brothers who were in the Shaan area to complete their missions as according to the command of their elder. Why would they suddenly appear here in the fortress? Can it really be as Gui You Zhang said, that they were abducted by Yu Luo Sha? Yet the situation does not seem to be so. Yu Luo Sha made a motion with her hands and a table set up with a whole feast was brought out from inside. Yu Luo Sha asked the four men to sit down then took up a cup of wine and approached Geng Shao Nan with a dazzling smile and graciously said, “Why don’t we go sit over at that table so that I can get a chance to make a closer acquaintance with Wu Tang sect’s distinguished masters?” A pang of fear suddenly struck Geng Shao Nan’s heart, yet he still couldn’t help but notice how charming her smile was. He thought to himself that considering Wu Tang sect’s great fame and status, it is only natural that everybody will respect and admire them. Although this female bandit was indeed cruel and vicious, yet undoubtedly she must hold our sect’s disciples in great respect and fear. Now she’s purposely venerating us in order to express her desire to make acquaintances with us. Having thought of this, he noticed how Yu Luo Sha’s smile was becoming sweeter and sweeter by the moment, and couldn’t stop himself from being completely dazzled and struck by it, increasingly believing that his predictions must be absolutely correct.

Having sat awhile, Geng Shao Nan started to greet his fellow sect members, but he found them all to be extremely cautious. Not only did they not dare to freely converse, but there was even one or two who continued to wear a bitter and forced smile on their faces. Geng Shao Nan had absolutely no idea why they were acting so strange. After a while, Yu Luo Sha commanded another female bandit to come forward as she spoke a few words to her. Geng Shao Nan didn’t know what she was up to now and could therefore only hold his breath in anticipation. Yu Luo Sha after having toasted the crowd a few more times have already started to feel the effects of the alcohol. Her almond shaped face flushed a most beautiful shade, much resembling the clouds that are composed of the various hues of radiance, making her even more beautiful and stunning. Suddenly from the back of the fortress came noises of vehicles’ moving. A few dozen attendants brought out the Zhou family’s carts of luggage then lined them all up. Yu Luo Sha suddenly got up and said in a clear voice, “Official Zhou, I’d like to settle some scores with you.” Struck with terror, Zhou Zhong Lian immediately sputtered out, “I would like to beg fortress master to please accept these meagre coins as my gift to you. There are still some humble property left in my family and we need not rely on this governmental salary.” Yu Luo Sha’s countenance clouded over as she loudly said, “I, Lian Ni Shang may be a bandit, but I have my own principles. You can ask the people here tonight whether Lian Ni Shang has ever taken anybody’s money without good reason. If they are good officials, I will never touch their money. But if they are corrupt officials? Ha! Then I’m afraid I’ll have to be a nuisance to them as not only will I take their money, but I will take their heads as well. Do you hear what I’m saying?” Zhou Zhong Lian was so terrified that a sweat broke out all over a body that was already shaking uncontrollably as he thought to himself, “It’s over, it’s all over. I can’t believe that my old life would be ending here.”

After Yu Luo Sha finished reprimanding Zhou, she then slowly said, “Listen Zhou Zhong Lian, you have been an official for more than ten years. During this time you have received a total of seventy-six thousand and seven hundred taels from your attendants and the various wealthy lords of different areas. This is considered as unmerited and unearned wealth, I will take it all away from you. As for the discounts you got from your daily expenses, they add up to thirty two thousand and five hundred taels. Although this sum is a result of the governmental regulations, yet it is still taken from the ordinary citizen, I will also be deducting his sum away from you and will return it to the common people on your behalf. Finally, you also have sixteen thousand and eight hundred taels remaining. This is your deserved earnings so I will return this to you. You have been an official for more than ten years now and have amassed an unmerited fortune of more than tens of thousands of taels. You can’t be considered as a just or honest official, yet you don’t necessarily qualify as a corrupt official. You can only be considered as a high official who conventionally follows the rules. I’ve finished with you now, do you think you’ve been wronged in any way?” Zhou Zhong Lian was still shaken, but nevertheless, he was still very glad. Surprisingly, Yu Luo Sha was able to calculate the wealth of governmental officials with such an alarming accuracy that it was as if she was merely counting her own wealth. Nobody could figure out exactly where she could have procured this information. After Yu Luo Sha had finished taking care of business, she sat down next to Geng Shao Nan and flashed yet another dazzling smile, saying “My most respected senior of the Wu Tang sect, if this little girl did not handle that incident very well due to her young age and lack of experience, please do tell me.” Geng Shao Nan was indeed very impressed by her actions as he raised his thumb and said “No wonder Heroine Lian can command and dominate the Underground world. You are indeed very just – punishing and rewarding with impartial objectivity, it indeed gives everyone good cause for true respect.”

Yu Luo Sha brought out a fresh round of warm wine and engaged in light conversation with Geng Shao Nan, her smile still as pretty was ever. By that time, Geng Shao Nan was already beginning to feel the effects of the wine, and he only felt that Yu Luo Sha seems to be exhaling gusts of sweet aroma, striking to the core of one’s heart. He couldn’t help but think to himself: this Yu Luo Sha is really very likeable, it’s too bad that despite being the beauty of her era, she is actually willing to become a bandit. If she could only change her ways and return to the good path, the number of young heroes and swordsmen who would fall under her charms would be un-calculable. His ears were warming up from the sweet wine as he suddenly asked, “Heroine Lian’s martial arts far exceeds the ability of the crowds, may I ask who your teacher is? If Geng Shao Nan can ever have the chance to exchange a few tips with heroine you, that would be most wonderful indeed. It is too bad that though red flowers and green leaves both originate from one class, yet a spoiled tangerine and fresh tangerine are nevertheless at two completely different poles, sweet and sour will always be different(22) . I’m afraid that there wouldn’t be such a chance in the future!” His words expressed two messages – one being his intentions of confessing admiration for Yu Luo Sha, and on another hand he was also expressing feelings of disappointment and pity by pointing to Yu Luo Sha as the “spoiled tangerine of the foreign land.” What was originally a pretty good idea suddenly turned incredibly and terribly bad. Upon hearing Geng’s offensive words, Wang Zhao Xi immediately spoke out saying, “Brother Geng must have drank too much. Don’t drink any more brother.” Geng Shao Nan shook his head, slightly swaggering and insisted, “I’m not drunk! Who said I was drunk?” Yu Luo Sha’s face had already undergone a change of colour, yet her smile continued to be as beautiful as the blooming flowers. She raises her cup and said, “Hero Geng’s words are too kind. I am a father-less and mother-less wild child, these few stances of unremarkable abilities is just something I learned by myself. How could it possibly compare with the disciples of the great famed sects and their orthodox martial arts?” She ran her exquisite hand lightly through her beautiful hair before continuing, “I would also like to find a chance to ask Hero Geng for some advice on martial arts, but there will be plenty of chances. There’s no need to be impatient Hero Geng.” After saying this, she sat down and swept her eyes over Geng Shao Nan, her smile becoming sweeter and sweeter by the moment. Goosebumps erupted all over Wang Zhao Xi’s body as he secret condemned Geng Shao Nan not only because he was such an idiot, but because he didn’t even realize that he was acting like such an idiot. Wang quickly stood up and said, “Thank you very much fortress master for this wonderful banquet. Brother Geng is drunk and I myself not being a very good drinker am also starting to feel its effects. We would like to retreat, please kindly excuse us fortress master.” Yu Luo Sha’s face clouded over with an expression of discontent as she said coldly, “You really are very kind towards him.” Wang Zhao Xi gathered his courage and softly replied, “Brother Geng and I are merely strangers, but along the trip he has helped me ward off a crowd of enemies and treated me as a friend. Therefore I also want to treat him as a friend.” Yu Luo Sha murmured an “oh” in acknowledgement and then waved her hands announcing, “the banquet is over” before whispering to Geng Shao Nan, “Tomorrow at sunrise, please meet me at canyon near the foot of the mountain. Hero Geng, I hope you will not forget this.” Geng Shao Nan’s face filled with delighted elation and his eyebrows were raised so high, they almost reached the top of his forehead as he excitingly repeats, “How can I possibly dare to forget fortress master’s orders?” Yu Luo Sha ordered her attendants to clear away the tables and to personally see Geng Shao Nan, Wang Zhao Xi and the other four Wu Tang disciples to their separate rooms. Therefore, although Wang Zhao Xi wanted to say a few more words to Geng in secret, he was in the end prevented.

During daybreak of the second day, Geng Shao Nan was still not over the effects of the alcohol. A female attendant came to wake him up and said, “Hero Geng, our fortress master has a meeting with you.” Geng Shao Nan quickly got up and hastily cleaned himself up before following the female attendant down the mountain, entering into the narrow valley that lies at the bottom of the two peaks. He was surprised to see that his four fellow sect members were also waiting there. Wang Zhao Xi was sitting on one side and even Zhou Zhong Lian was there, sitting on the top of a gigantic boulder and accompanied by two female attendants. Yu Luo Sha appeared from behind a cluster of rocks. She was wearing her dazzling smile again. Her hair was tied by golden rings and a long sword was tied to her waist, fully emphasizing her elegance that exceeds the mortal crowd. Observing such a strange situation, Geng Shao Nan was perplexed and baffled.

Geng Shao Nan was full of questions as he had originally thought that Yu Luo Sha was intending to meet with him on a private basis, but never could he have guessed that she would ask a whole crowd to come as well. Yu Luo Sha approached with light steps, her clothes lightly billowing in the wind as she slowly said, “Good morning Hero Geng. Did you sleep very well last night?” The tone of her voice seemed to be incredibly concerned. Geng Shao Nan blushed and shyly said, “Yes.” Yu Luo Sha laughed and said, “I was so worried that you didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night, because tonight you won’t be getting a good sleep and so if you didn’t sleep well last night either, then you poor thing that would really be a shame.” Geng Shao Nan was confused as he thought to himself: how can she possibly ascertain whether I will be getting a good night’s sleep tonight? Isn’t this crazy talk?” Yu Luo Sha continued, “If you suffer some kind of serious injury or if you happen to somehow loose a body part, then how can you possibly sleep well tonight?” Geng Shao Nan gave a nervous chortle as he replied, “Just as the rains and storms are unpredictable, so will life’s calamities and providence come unannounced. If I really am destined for a sudden misfortune, what can I do about it? But that would only be so if fortress master you intend to give me a hard time, otherwise why would I suddenly experienced any calamities?” Yu Luo Sha suddenly replied, “You really are an easygoing and good-natured fellow. How could I possibly dare to give you a hard time? I was only hoping to pick up a few tips from you. I heard that Wu Tang sect has the world’s most powerful sword skill, I really hope I can have the opportunity to witness a bit of its brilliance with my own eyes.” Geng Shao Nan couldn’t help himself from flaring up in anger as he loudly shouted, “Oh! So fortress master wants to test my martial arts skills? Fine! A true man would rather die than yield. I’ll stake the chances and even if I have to sustain three slashes and six gougings, or even if you break every bone in my body and sever all of my limbs, I will never allow the name of my Wu Tang sect to lose its distinction!” Yu Luo Sha smiles gaily and said, “Alright, then you better pay attention because here I come.” Taking out her sword, she nimbly approaches. Geng Shao Nan noticed that her sword was approaching at an incredibly slow pace and her attitude was not at all serious. It was almost as if she was just goofing around. Geng Shao Nan could not be sure whether she really was serious or whether she was just playing around with him. Nevertheless, he raised his sword to counterattack. Surprisingly, with just a light twist of her wrist, the tip of Yu Luo Sha’s sword had already arrived at Geng Shao Nan’s throat, as she released a charming laugh and said, “I’m afraid that your stance isn’t good enough. Come, try again!” Instead of killing with the sword, Yu Luo Sha uses her cruel teasing insults to wound him instead. To Geng Shao Nan, that was even more tortuous than having to suffer a painful sword wound. With a twist of his body, Geng Shao Nan executed the three steps of the sequential chain-linking swords, the first stance being “Threading the Gold Needle” where the tip of the sword lightly pierces out and with a quick turn of the body, the stance suddenly turns into the “Sequential Slashing” stance to pierce towards the opponent’s throat and drape across the two arms, a movement that is as fast as the gusting wind. How could he have guessed that as soon as he executed these two stances, he would feel the cool and chilling air emanated from the cold metal of Yu Luo Sha’s sword arriving at the back of his heart? He did not even get the chance to execute the third successive stance. The three stances were unable to be carried out sequentially, therefore he could only suddenly change stances to hastily execute “Plucking the Scallion in Dry Land” in order to lift himself up from the ground. Suddenly the light breeze glided over the tip of his head as Yu Luo Sha’s sword grazed over it lightly, snipping off a strand of his hair. After Geng Shao Nan’s feet landed on the floor, Yu Luo Sha was already smiling sweetly saying, “I told you to pay attention, now why didn’t you listen to me?” as she hugs her sword and gestures with her hands saying, “So, Wu Tang’s other masters, are you just going to stand there and watch your fellow sect member make a fool of himself?” How could Geng Shao Nan’s four other martial art brothers possibly tolerate this ridicule any longer? Four swords appeared at the same time, grouping together to form a straight line to simultaneously execute their attack. Yu Luo Sha smiled and said, “That’s much better.” In the midst of all the swords’ reflection and under the surrounding attack of the Wu Tang’s five swords, swords were appearing from the north, south, east and west. Seeing that the situation was not optimistic for the Wu Tang disciples, Wang Zhao Xi immediately jumped up to say, “Heroine Lian, please have mercy!” However, before he could even finish these words, he heard a loud bang that resembles the sound of gold shattering and jade fracturing, followed by a series of anguished screams. The swords of the five Wu Tang disciples had all been broken. Geng Shao Nan had lost his left hand’s two fingers while the other four disciples had each lost one finger. Yu Luo Sha’s expression was as cold as the wintry frost as she fiercely says, “This is to show you that there will always be another level of heaven beyond this one, and to never think that you can depend solely on your sect’s fame! Geng Shao Nan, last night you were extremely offensive and I had originally intended to chop off your arm and take out your two eyes. But seeing that you still have a few ounces of manly courage, I’ll lessen your punishment by three ranks, now immediately get out of my sight!”

Hearing Yu Luo Sha start her angry scolding, Wang Zhao Xi’s anxiety was immediately relieved. Wang jumped forward and saw that Geng Shao Nan’s face was as pale as a ghost. Geng remained silent and did not say a single word before he turned around and ran off. The other four Wu Tang disciples wrapped up their fists in an act of reverence and said, “Thank you fortress master for showing mercy. Such a kind act of grace, we will never dare to forget!” Yu Luo Sha just gave a cool sneer and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be waiting for you here when you come back and seek your revenge.” Wang Zhao Xi immediately flashed them a look with his eyes warning them to not say any more. Amongst them was a middle age man who seemed to be their leader, he suddenly turned towards to Wang Zhao Xi and raised his joined hands in an act of greeting before saying, “Young master Wang, thank you for taking care of our martial brother along the journey. It is too bad we were not able to encounter you earlier. I have a letter that is addressed to you from Master Meng, now I can finally transfer it to you.” The man took out a letter that was tightly sealed with hot wax. Wang Zhao Xi was suddenly taken back as he quickly took a sneak peak at Yu Luo Sha to observe her reaction. Yu Luo Sha said with curiosity, “They travelled thousands of miles to bring you this letter, the least you can do is to thank them.” Having observed that she did not at all seem angry or displeased, Wang Zhao Xi immediately took the letter and expressed his gratitude. The four Wu Tang disciples all wore a cold sneer on their faces, and without even bothering to reply to Wang’s expression of gratitude, they retreated immediately with quick steps. Wang Zhao Xi couldn’t help but feel sad and dejected within his heart as he felt that he has really done the Wu Tang sect a great disservice.

After the last traces of the Wu Tang disciples had finally disappeared from view, Yu Luo Sha turned to Wang Zhao Xi and coolly said, “Brother Wang, I’m afraid that you’re reproaching me for being overly harsh on them.” Wang Zhao Xi replied, “I dare not” though inwardly he was indeed reprimanding her. Yu Luo Sha slowly said, “My temper is such that I can’t stand it when some people expect the right to dominate others based solely on their name and fame. Wu Tang sect may have many disciples, but there are numerous incompetent and unruly disciples in their sect. Many of them rely on their sect’s fame and develop such a haughty attitude that in their eyes, they belittle everything and everyone else. Amongst the Wu Tang five elders, aside for Taoist Priest Purple Sun, the other four people all have the bad habit of covering up their weaknesses and ineptness, therefore spoiling their disciples to be extremely egotistical and conceited. Even though they won’t commit any acts of vice, yet just their attitudes are repulsive to behold. Today I purposely made a fool of them in order to suppress their arrogance and teach them a lesson.” Wang Zhao Xi did not dare to say anything else. Yu Luo Sha paused a while before finally asking, “I’ve heard that the Martial art master Meng Can of the Imperial City is the sworn brother of your father, is that true?” Wang Zhao Xi replied, “He is also my father in law.” Yu Luo Sha said, “Oh! So they are also in-laws, that is indeed a very wonderful and beneficial thing. I once had the chance to meet young Miss Meng, her martial arts and character is of an extremely top grade. Has she married into your household yet?” Wang Zhao Xi blushed and replied, “Not yet. My father said that after I come to pay my respects to Heroine you, I was to immediately travel to the imperial city to bring Master Meng and his daughter home.” Yu Luo Sha replied, “Yes, you should bring them to your home. What’s so great about being a Martial arts instructor and serving the aristocrats? Oh. I’ve always been blunt with my words, please don’t mind me Brother Wang.” Wang Zhao Xi replies, “Not at all. My father also shares your sentiments.” Yu Luo Sha said, “If I didn’t see Master Meng’s letter, I’m afraid those four people will have to experience some more hardships. They were all dressed as fur merchants and caught the attention of Fire Spirit Monkey, Zhu Bao Chun’s men who then attempted to rob them along the journey. Actually, the Wu tang disciples only had to reveal their identity and they would have had no more problems. But they refused to do so and continued to show off instead, injuring Fire Spirit Monkey’s four men. I couldn’t stand their ways so I chased after them on horse by myself and then used my soft palms to obliterate rocks into dust in order to silence and intimidate them. Then I invited them to come up to the mountain and exchange tips on sword skills with me.” Wang Zhao Xi secretly gave out a cry of distress as he thought to himself: I’m afraid this method of “exchanging tips” will bring about a great storm of turmoil within the martial arts world in the future.”

Wang Zhao Xi originally wanted to offer a few more words of warning but he was cut off as Yu Luo Sha suddenly said, “Hey! Where is that Official Zhou?” She called out twice but having received no response, she started to search around. Zhou Zhong Lian was forced by Yu Luo Sha to come here and witness the fight, but when he was watching the fight he became so terrified that he fainted amongst the cluster of stones.

Such is: Smilingly conversing with gentle words amidst deadly execution, roadside lies a fainted Marquis of Jincheng.

Written by Liang Yusheng
Translated by Translated by Faerie Queene
Edited and proofread by audiowuxia.

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