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But she was not going to use her shuttles without good reason; Black Succubus' shuttles were not easy to make, why would she waste them on someone as inferior to her as Black Fox? She was just scaring him.

Black Succubus grabbed Wenchang and spirited him down from the steps and cried "Up!" and flew up to the roof of the eastern wing.

Snake Demon Alchemist, who was still on the roof of the main hall, shouted, "Hurry up, useless woman, you were late. I'm right behind you."

He flicked his sleeves vigorously and shot to his feet, let loose a big gust of wind as he roared, blowing roof tiles off like a storm had blown through, shooting them in all directions. Silver Sword was like a feather in the wind, blown about more than ten feet out before rolling to a stop near the overhang where he finally steadied himself and stood up. There was no one else on the roof.

On the east wing roof, the dark figure who had just sent him flying stood erect on the roof tiles, waiting for Black Fox and his men to come up. His maniacal laugh was deafening and made one's hair stand on end and one's stomach drop. "Muahahaha… Who's brave enough to try me?"

The first one up was Black Fox. He sent his meteor hammer flying from twelve feet away as soon as he stepped foot on the roof. He thundered, "Prepare to die! Who… Ah…"

Snake Demon Alchemist shot his hand out and caught the big hammer which was as big as a bowl and yelled "Away with you!" and tossed it nonchalantly.

Black Fox didn't have time to disconnect the chain from his armband and he was tossed violently, hammer and man all, thirty feet away where he crashed to the tiles, shaking the roof.

"Get down, get down!" Snake Demon Alchemist cried, and with another flick of his sleeve the ten men who had just clambered onto the roof lost their footing and fell off one after another.

Snake Demon Alchemist laughed maniacally. "It's a good thing this humble Daoist changed his temper over the past ten years he's whiled away with Hundred Tribulations Crippled Monk, otherwise you clods would all be dead meat right now."

Silver Sword arrived, frightened at once at the scene. He stood thirty feet away and shouted resentfully, "You're really incredible. I know when I'm beaten. But it's a small world. Leave your name and us heroes of Nine Palace Fortress will send you a thank you gift for your favor tonight."

Snake Demon Alchemist chuckled and boomed, "Get out of here and go tell your master henceforth not to disturb Cai Wenchang. If anything happens to Cai Wenchang, and this humble Daoist finds out it was you lot who did it, Nine Palace Fortress will be turned to ruins, a heap of rubble. Remember this, I, Snake Demon Alchemist, am cultivating in Gold Snake Cave on Sage Dragon Mountain. Any of you little cowards who still has a problem with me can go find me there. Now get the hell out of here now while you can, or else!"

Then he vanished. A deafening shriek was heard from the northwest corner.

Silver Sword, terror-stricken, sucked in a breath and ordered, "Give the order to withdraw!"

Wenchang had been hit by the hammer twice and was exhausted but still holding out. He held onto the nearly-dead Miss Tian as Black Succubus Gu Zhen pulled him along.

They leapt off the northwest corner of the roof and slipped into the wilderness where they ran into five men in black. Black Succubus tittered charmingly and brandished her sword.

"Come on, come on!" she tittered and yelled. "Get in my way and die."

The men in black had no idea she was the famed Black Succubus Gu Zhen, they just saw it was four against one. They came on one by one and charged them together.

Wenchang caught the last of the five men in black; he could handle the man even in his exhausted state, but it was a lot of effort. He defended more than he attacked.

Black Succubus killed four men in black and turned and shouted, "Wenchang, leave that traitor, there are four more ambush points. Why are you still carrying that little traitor around?"

Wenchang parried with his sword while saying, "Miss Tian is innocent, I can't leave her behind. You go on, don't worry about me."

Black Succubus shook her head and heaved a deep sigh. She stepped in and swung her sword twice and the man man screamed, his face split open by the tip of her sword and splitting into his skull/ He dropped his sabre and collapsed. She smiled wryly. "I misjudged you before. I didn't know you were such a righteous man. You're alright. I'll keep the girl safe. Go! Snake Demon Alchemist is behind us so we don't need to worry about the rear. We can charge on ahead. Are those third-rate good-for-nothings even worth mentioning? I'll escort you outside their zone so you can lie low for the time being while I slaughter the lot of them."

A roar like a tiger suddenly reverberated from nearby and someone said in a loud, clear voice, "You sons of bitch bastards, Papa Blackie will escort you to the gates of Hell."

A blood-curdling scream followed and Wenchang exclaimed, "Let's go! That's my big brother."

Black Succubus didn't head in the direction of the roar, but turned down a different path. "No! I'm taking you safely outside their perimeter and hiding you temporarily, then I'm going back to slaughter them. You'll just get in the way if you're with me and I won't be able to go all out. Let's go!"

A serpent flame arrow exploded in the sky, the flickering flames still visible briefly before it burned out, and whistles were sounded one after another and people began withdrawing outward. Black Succubus stamped her foot. "Oh shoot! Snake Demon Alchemist has scared them off. He must have told them who he is."

They suddenly heard a loud guffaw behind them, then Snake Demon Alchemist's voice, "Damn woman, you're too ruthless. You really wanted to kill them all?"

Black Succubus flinched and spun around. She sheathed her sword and saluted. "Elder's actions here today are really perplexing to this junior…"

"Heheh! You mean scattering everyone so easily at Great Wild Goose Pagoda, then coming here tonight to lend you an unprecedented hand, all the while not killing a single one but just sending them packing? That's right, this humble Daoist has no more interest in killing."

Wenchang put Miss Tian down, stepped forward, and fell to his knees. "This junior has once again received Elder's kind help. I will remember this for as long as I live…"

Snake Demon Alchemist helped him to his feet and laughed. "No need to thank me. Stand up. When you used those three Magic Sword techniques, how terrible did it feel when you realized you weren't skilled enough yet? Remember, find a tranquil place and practice diligently for two or three years, and using your special Daoist qigong and these arcane Magic Sword techniques, you'll be able to run roughshod over the jianghu. But if you get ahead of yourself and act rashly, you'll just make things worse. They've all left, you can return home. I ought to be going myself. I still haven't finished my weiqi game with Crippled Monk. Take care of yourself."

Then he turned to a wisp of smoke, disappearing into the boundless night, gone in a flash.

Black Succubus Gu Zhen shook her head and mumbled, "If that old Daoist wanted to rule the jianghu, the martial fraternity would be completely different. I think one would be hard pressed to find someone in all the world who could subdue him!"

Wenchang took out a pill and helped Miss Tian swallow it. "I need to go help Big Brother Fan."

Black Succubus picked up Miss Tian and hurried along. "Come on, I'll go with you."

Sterling had led Black Iron Pagoda to come help Wenchang but they had been discovered by the enemy at the first ambush point and were assaulted by a dozen men in black from both sides on the narrow path. They were completely surrounded.

Black Iron Pagoda had been roaming the jianghu a long time. One look at the men in black under the starlight and he knew they were Black Flag Sovereign's men. He pushed Sterling into a ravine along the side of the path and took up his whip and charged ahead, roaring. There were many masters among the men in black, and there were a lot of enemies. The two sides set about an all-out assault and he found himself surrounded. Four dead bodies lay on the ground and Black Iron Pagoda had taken a dozen sabre slashes. Fortunately, his primordial qigong was extraordinary and only his clothes were torn, but none of the cuts had penetrated his skin. It was not easy for the enemy to attack any of his vital points either.

The signal to withdraw was sent out but they were becoming corpses before they had a chance to pull out, as Black Iron Pagoda was not one to just stop. Tied up, they would not be able to get away unless Black Iron Pagoda was killed; he was harassing them like grim death.

A signal indicating they could not withdraw was sent out and Black Fox, bringing up the rear, was shocked. He led twenty or so masters at top speed over and barked, "Brothers, withdraw! I'll take care of this son of a bitch."

His meteor hammer was like most meteor hammers, except the hammerhead was heavy and it had a one-foot, eight-inch handle at the end of the handle, so it could be used as a melee weapon, or it could be sent out on its chain sixteen feet out to hit its target. It was really formidable and intimidating. Faced with another long-range weapon, he roared and shot his hammer out with "Venomous Dragon Exits the Cave", attacking head on.

Black Iron Pagoda bellowed and attacked with "Monster Python Flips Over", his whip uncoiling forward, flicking, winding, pounding, reeling, and lashing.

Whip and hammer connected with a smack, sending out sparks. How could Black Fox let himself get entangled by the whip? He jerked his wrist and recalled the hammer. He roared and struck in between whip lashes, his meteor hammer bolting out like lightning, unstoppable.

Black Iron Pagoda felt a strange jolt coming down his whip, vibrating and numbing the crook of his thumb where he held the whip. He felt a chill in his heart. Both of them had used extraordinarily proficient internal force. This might be bad. They fought two rounds before he sensed this person was Black Fox Linghu Chao of Nine Palace Fortress, and a shiver went up his spine. He cursed inwardly, "Shit! If Black Fox is here, Brother Wenchang is finished."

He was flustered. He was in quite the predicament. He received five hammer blows and his movements started to get sloppy. The other men had taken this opportunity to carry the dead bodies away and were now standing around the perimeter of the fight circle, waiting for a chance to strike, their eyes looking on greedily like a tiger. It was too late to run away, but Black Iron Pagoda had no intention of doing that anyway. Wenchang's predicament had him worried. He had to break inside, and for the sake of his friend he gave no thought to his own life.

The hammer thudded lightly off his left shoulder, luckily just grazing him, otherwise it would have been bad. The massive for of just that glancing blow forced him back five steps before he could steady his feet, and then the hammer was coming again.

"I don't believe your bones are made of iron," Black Fox bellowed. "Take this!" The hammer was there in an instant, blasting toward Black Iron Pagoda's head, coming at him incredibly fast.

Black Iron Pagoda had just steadied himself so he couldn't return blow for blow. He jerked his right hand up and used the whip to push the hammerhead away. The whip deflected the hammer up three inches while he ducked and pulled back, so that only his turban was knocked off.

Both their weapons were good for long-range attacks, and neither wanted to get in close, but the end of the whip had caught the hammer chain. Black Fox was quick of eye and deft of hand. He snatched the end of the whip and jerked it with all his might. "Let go!" At the same time, he sent his hammer sailing downward, aiming for the top of Black Iron Pagoda's head. If it connected, Black Iron Pagoda's primordial qigong would probably not be able to withstand the full force of the blow and he would be seriously hurt if not outright killed.

At this critical moment, Black Succubus and Wenchang arrived. Black Succubus held the girl with one hand while flourishing her sword in the other. She shouted charmingly and stabbed three men in black standing along the perimeter.

Wenchang mustered his courage and energy and broke through. "Cai Wenchang is here. Get in my way and die!" Black Succubus' shout frightened Black Fox. Needless to say, Snake Demon Alchemist was also here. He couldn't even take on Black Succubus, so how could he not get out of there? In his hurry he had no time to worry about killing Black Iron Pagoda. His own life was more important. He suddenly let go of the whip in his left hand and recalled his meteor hammer.

Black Iron Pagoda was not yet fated to die. He righted himself and twisted his body to avoid the hammer and pulled back his whip with all his might. Black Fox let go of the whip, so Black Iron Pagoda was unable to stop himself from falling backward, but he managed to turn to the side as he fell and the hammer sailed past him and then shot back. He broke out in a cold sweat as the hammer narrowly missed him.

"Ah…" a blood-curdling scream sounded. Wenchang neared the circle and one of his throwing knives caught a man in black in the chest. He took that opportunity and broke through. "Big Brother, watch out."

He was not capable of putting much strength into his sword so he had to rely on his concealed weapons to launch a surprise attack. There men all around Black Iron Pagoda, so he shouted for the latter to step back.

Black Succubus was there too, her charming voice deafening. "Everyone make way and let this old granny send them to King Yama."

Black Fox gnashed his teeth, but there was nothing he could do. He bellowed in rage and swept out thirty feet away and ordered his men to withdraw and they all dispersed noisily.

Black Iron Pagoda regained his footing and was all worked up. "Brother, are you alright?"

Wenchang threw down his sword and ran over and said with feeling, "Big Brother, thank you!"

They embraced, and then Black Succubus, off to the side, said, "Let's go. Why not go back first, then talk?"

Black Iron Pagoda called for Sterling and Wenchang led the way back. Most likely no one else would come to disturb them tonight.

Wen Estate was calm and quiet, the stench of blood filling the air. All the servants had been killed except for Sterling. They hastily took care of the bodies, then the five of them talked in the main hall. The nine-cycle elixir pill Miss Tian had been given had revived her from the brink of death, and she was now seated, exhausted, in a big chair, still shaken.

Wenchang had just built this place but already such a tragic incident had transpired. He knew this was no longer a safe place. Sooner or later, someone else would come looking to give him trouble. He decided to let Sterling take care of the house and the left over money and have the deceased servants given proper burials. As for himself, he planned to roam the jianghu and continue on living his outlaw, exiled life.

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