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Ysabel, Xiaohu, Anh, Jaya, Spy, are welcome. Xu Xiong, Toasted, let me ask you first: why did my choice of word bother you so much? Was it so bad in a way that I practically violated English grammatical structure (or whatever the term that you, English experts, are using )? Again, being a layman in English (I am an engineer, not a language expert), I don't see anything wrong. Xu Ziling's attitude was repulsive to Shi Qingxuan. But to me, she did not hate him, she did not think he was a jerk (which, again to me, the word 'despicable' insinuates), she did not detest him, in a way that she thought he was a lowly (in character) person. And if my choice of word was so bad, how come you guys cannot even agree on which word to use to replace it? Paona, I did not disagree that martial art can be ranked. Any sport in the modern world has some kind of ranking system. All I was saying was that it's a waste of time trying to rank fictitious characters. Who's better: James Bond or Rambo? You see what I mean?

By this time the two men have killed their way less than twenty paces from the main gate of the courtyard. The tabletop rolled everywhere. Overwhelmed with shock, the enemies scattered in all directions to evade. Those who were slower were smashed and fell face up in such a sorry state.

Kou Zhong and Jiao Hongjin knew this was their only chance to escape. Fast as lightning the two ran after the swiftly rolling tabletop, rushing toward the gate of the outer courtyard.

Seeing the unfavorable turn of events, Du Ren and the others rushed over to intercept, but their own men avoiding the disaster swarmed at them like a tidal wave, forcing them to move aside, and thus wasted this good opportunity.


The tabletop slammed onto the closed outer courtyard main gate. Both the tabletop and the gate shattered.

Although Kou Zhong's true qi, which came from the 'Secret to Long Life', was able to cycle endlessly, to grow and multiply continuously, but due to excessive loss, each he exerted his strength he was going all out, he did not have time to recover. This moment he was like a lantern which oil has dried out. He could only raise the last mouthful of true qi to rush out the door.

Jiao Hongjin threw himself behind him. Seeing his footsteps were without strength, he was shocked. Hastily he rushed over to Kou Zhong's side and reached out to support him.

Right in this desperate situation, where life and death was only separated by a line, countless archers appeared on the roof of the building across the street.

While both men cried inwardly 'my life ends right here', continuous 'chi, chi' noise rang out across the deserted street, arrows were flying above, and to the left and right of them. But the target was the pursuing troops swarming out of the courtyard gate and the enemy archers squatting high on the wall.

About a dozen men wielding shields pounced onto the street to surround the two men, protecting them. One of them called out, "Er Dangjia, we are here!"

Jiao Hongjin heaved a sigh of relief. He turned to Kou Zhong and said, "They are my men."

※ ※ ※

The most annoying thing for Du Ren was not the alliance with Ku Ge, or his desire to put Jiao Hongjin to death, but because of Kou Zhong's intervention, he missed the opportunity to kill Jiao Hongjin.

Within the Luoma Bang, Jiao Hongjin was a figure receiving more love and respect form their people than Du Ren. Du Ren's alliance with Ku Ge further drove him from the heart of his people. In fact, Luoma Bang was on the verge of splitting up; hence the reason Du Ren decided to gain the initiative by striking first.

Kou Zhong spreading the 'true rumors' was like igniting fire to dry, withered leaves and firewood sticks. Luoma Bang was one of the secret societies that rose abruptly due to the situation surrounding the collapse of the old dynasty. Most of its members came from the lower strata of local people, hence it had a very strong local flavor. They would never allow themselves to connive with outsiders to harm their fellow citizens of their hometown.

Du Ren wanted to form an alliance with Ku Ge, he had his own difficulties.

No matter how conceited and foolish [Orig. Yelang thinks too highly of himself[1]] Du Ren was, he was well aware that he was not Kou Zhong's match. The only way was to take advantage while Kou Zhong has not had steady footings, to exploit Ku Ge's desire for revenge, to expand his power without restraint by capturing Liangdu, so that Kou Zhong's up-and-coming power would be pulled up by the roots.

In the end, it was just a wishful thinking, because he had never imagined that Kou Zhong would come to shake his foundation.

The first person to find out that Du Ren was going to take care Jiao Hongjin was the 'Ghost Shadow' Luo Qifei, who received Kou Zhong's order to spy on the side. This man was quite intelligent and insightful; he immediately notified Shen Renfu, who then contacted other Luoma Bang leaderships who had close relationship with Jiao Hongjin, which immediately incited surging emotion among the Luoma Bang crowd, driving them to rush over toward the pleasure house and surround it, so that Du Ren and his troop of personal guards were trapped inside.

This moment the situation was reversed; Kou Zhong and Jiao Hongjin, escorted by their men, went across the street, under the deafening cheers of their supporters, calling out Jiao Hongjin's name.

Jiao Hongjin did not know what to do, so Kou Zhong whispered in his ear, "Enumerate the charges against him first!"

Grabbing his head, Jiao Hongjin said, "What charges?"

This moment Du Ren appeared at the main entrance, about to rush out to the street.

Kou Zhong hastily shouted, "Release the arrows!"

Their men were eager to make their move, only they lacked the leadership to give them the command, plus they were still a bit afraid of Du Ren's influence. But as soon as they heard the order, immediately a thousand arrows were shot, sending Du Ren and his cronies to cover their heads and sneak away like a rat, back into the courtyard.

Another burst of cheers shook the heavens as they vented their dissatisfaction toward Du Ren.

Du Ren's frightened voice came out from inside, "Jiao Hongjin commits treason against our Gang, you …"

"Shut up!" Kou Zhong shouted, "Little kid Du Ren, you clearly knew you have committed three major crimes, you are no longer worthy to be our Gang's Bangzhu."

"Who the hell are you?" Du Ren angrily shouted, "You dare to infiltrate our Gang to stir up trouble [orig. fan and light up the fire]."

Kou Zhong secretly kicked Jiao Hongjin, who was standing by his side; the latter busily shouted, "Du Ren, don't try to change the subject. Your first major crime is colluding with Khitan group of horse-mounted bandits, harming our compatriots."

More than a thousand Luoma Bang men present immediately shouted and cursed; Du Ren could not even refute the accusation.

The mood of the crowd was extremely intense; Jiao Hongjin could not think of anything else to say, Kou Zhong hurriedly prompted him.

Jiao Hongjin's spirit was greatly aroused; his imposing manner rose up like a rainbow, he shouted, "The second major crime is your inability to discern black and white, you conspired to murder our Gang's Xiongdi."

The crowd broke into another shaking-the-heavens shout, completely drowning Du Ren's feeble shout.

Jiao Hongjin whispered in Kou Zhong's ear, "What is the third major crime?"

This time it was Kou Zhong's turn to grab his head; he was simply blurting out about the three major crimes, just because the number three sounded appropriate, but he had not thought about which three.

All around them, it was as if the Gang member took the urgency of the two men upon themselves, as if it had happened to themselves, but the more the level of anxiety grew, the more Kou Zhong was unable to think. Until the shouting gradually subsided, suddenly Shen Renfu's head appeared from among the crowd, and said, "The third major crime is damaging the reputation of our Gang! How about that?"

While Jiao Hongjin was thinking that this did not sound to be a serious crime, an idea flashed in Kou Zhong's mind; he thundered, "The third major crime is carrying out a scheme for personal gain, unexpectedly he wanted to set fire to Xiao Chuan Guang and burn the ladies and the guests to death. This is irrefutable evidence; would the victims please raise your voices, otherwise, we are … Hey! Never mind!"

He was going to say, 'Otherwise, we are not going to save you'; fortunately he reined in the horse at the edge of the precipice, and did not turn into a vile creature who saw death but refuse to help.

The 'victims' on Xiao Chun Guang main building immediately shouted their accusations on Du Ren.

Seeing the time was ripe, Kou Zhoung shouted loudly, "Brothers! From today onwards, Jiao Hongjin is our Bangzhu. Long live [orig. ten thousand years] Jiao Bangzhu!"

Immediately the cry 'Long live Jiao Bangzhu!' resonated the skies.

Kou Zhong shouted again, "Men in the courtyard, listen! If you abandon your weapons and surrender, Jiao Bangzhu is not going to investigate, we are all still good brothers!"

As soon as he stopped, the courtyard and the street immediately quieted down, leaving only the crackling noise of the torches and the sound of the breathing.

No one knew who started throwing their weapons, but then there was unending noise of 'Ding! Ding! Dang! Dang!', so everybody knew Du Ren's influence was gone, his position would be difficult to protect.

Letting out a long laughter, Kou Zhong said, "Du Ren kid! Get out here and receive your death!"

Du Ren roared wildly and rushed out with a spear in his hands, straight toward where Jiao Hongjin was standing.

Unending 'Chi! Chi!' noise was heard, as hundreds of arrows rained down on him.

No one knew how many arrows hit Du Ren. He slumped down in the middle of the street, and died on the spot.
[1] According to the story the king of Yelang (c. 120 BC), convinced that his kingdom was the greatest in all the world, inquired rhetorically of the Han emperor's envoy, "Which is greater, Yelang or Han?" This gave rise to the Chinese idiom, "Yelang thinks too highly of itself" (夜郎自大). Other sources suggest that Yelang's king was simply copying an earlier statement by a ruler of the adjacent Kingdom of Dian. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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