This old man was none other than Flying Doctor.
The two bearers were martial art masters in disguise. With lightning speed, the four swords lunged toward Flying Doctor from four directions - above, below, front, and behind, instantly trapping him in the center with no room for escape. It appeared no matter how he might try to dodge them, he would be stabbed by at least two swords.
Although Feng Siniang was a martial arts veteran, not even she had expected such a vicious attack. It was too late for her to come to the rescue. She was afraid Flying Doctor would be a dead doctor this time.
Surprisingly, in a split second, Flying Doctor leaned to one side, with two swords shaving past his body. The other two pierced his clothes but were clamped tightly by his two fingers. It was as if his fingers were cast in iron. Hard as the two bearers tried, they could not dislodge their swords.
With a heavy clang, the two blades were snapped in two.
Astonished, the bearers made a reverse somersault and landed several meters away.
Eyes closed, Flying Doctor waved his hands. He sent the two snapped blades flying like blue rays towards the fleeing bearers, who let out two screams of horror.
Blood spurted out like arrows. Though the bearers were dead, their bodies thrashed forward, leaving two streaks of blood on the ground.
Following the screams was a deathly silence.
Then came the crisp sound of clapping hands.
Flying Doctor called out angrily, "Who is it?"
Opening his eyes, he glanced fiercely at the cliff where Feng was looking on. He saw her beautiful face, her disarming smile.
He frowned. "It's you."
She smiled sweetly. "It has been many years since we last met. I'm surprised to see not only that you are as active as before, but also that you have made excellent progress in kung fu."
His eyes drew together in an even deeper frown. "Why are you being so courteous to me? What do you want?"
Feng sighed. "When I'm courteous, people say I'm up to something. When I'm not courteous, people say I'm rude. Oh! How difficult it is to act properly!"
Flying Doctor listened quietly, showing no emotion.
She said, "The truth is, I just dropped by to see you. We are old friends after all, aren't we?"
He remained silent.
Feng flew off the small cliff and patted her clothes. "Look! I'm neither injured nor offended by you. Why would I want to ask you for something?"
"Have you taken a good look at me?" he asked.
"Yes, I have.".
"Good, then. Goodbye!"
Feng blinked, then started giggling like the tinkle of a bell. "You are indeed an old fox. Nothing escapes you!"
Flying Doctor smiled too. "To match the Enchantress, I have to be an old fox."
She rolled her eyes and pointed at the corpses on the ground. "Do you know who they were and why they wanted to kill you?"
He replied nonchalantly, "I've been around for a long time and killed countless people. It's natural that someone would want to kill me. I won't bother to inquire about their backgrounds."
She grinned. "I know that you aren't afraid of death. But if you got killed by some young upstarts, wouldn't that be a great pity? Aren't you afraid that your thundering reputation would be ruined?"
He stared at her with bright eyes. After a long silence, he grunted, "What do you want from me?"
With her hands clasped behind her back, she said, "If you agree to do me a favor, I will help you find out who was behind the surprise attack. You know that gathering intelligence is my specialty."
Flying Doctor sighed and smiled bitterly. "I should have known that you wouldn't have come to me for a good cause."
Feng said seriously, "But it is for a good cause this time."
She squatted down in front of Flying Doctor's palanquin. "And it is a great cause. When the task is accomplished, both you and I will benefit from it."
After a period of silence, a weary smile flickered across his face. He said slowly, "I would like very much to help you. Unfortunately, you are too late."
She grimaced. "I am too late? Why?"
Flying Doctor flung off the blanket covering his legs, leaving Feng in shock, as if someone had just poured ice water over her head.
His legs had been chopped off from the knee!
Flying Doctor's Lightness Kung Fu had been unequalled. When he applied his "Swallow Thrice Skimming Over Water", he could capture flying birds barehanded. Yet now his legs had been chopped off.
The sight was even more astounding than Huaping's missing arm. Feng's voice quivered. "What happened?"
He smiled wryly. "They were chopped off."
He replied, one word at a time, "Xiao Shi-yi Lang!"
Xiao Shiyi Lang! It's Xiao Shiyi Lang again!
She held her breath for a long time. Suddenly she jumped up, stamping her feet. "I don't want to see him. Why do all of you want me to see him?"
"You should have turned to him in the first place. With his help, whatever you want to do can be easily achieved."
"What about you? You don't want to get even with him?"
He shook his head. "Although he injured me, I don't hate him."
Closing his eyes again, Flying Doctor became quiet.
After a long silence, Feng sighed. "Very well. Since you don't want to talk, I will take you back home."
"No, you don't have to."
"Why not? In your condition, how can you go uphill by yourself?"
"Men and women should not have physical contact. I don't want to trouble you. Please go."
She glared at him. "What's the big deal about men and women having physical contact? I have never considered myself a woman, and I never pay attention to these restrictions."
Ignoring his protest, she lifted him up and carried him on her back.
Flying Doctor smiled wryly. He didn't know what to do with such a woman.
In the shadow of evening, the tomb looked even more creepy, mysterious, and frightening then it had before. A dim light radiated from inside the tomb. From a distance it looked like a will-o'-the-wisp.
She commented, "I don't understand why you have to live in such a place. Aren't you afraid of ghosts?"
He replied, "Sometimes ghosts are easier to live with than living persons."
Feng said coldly, "That's right. At least ghosts won't chop off your legs."
Though there was a light in the chamber, no one was in. The peculiar-looking lad was nowhere to be found. What's more, the coffin had disappeared!
What burglars would be interested in such a place?
Feng couldn't help but laugh. "What a funny thief! He stole nothing else but the coffin. Even if someone in his family was dead, he didn't have to come all the way here."
She didn't finish the last sentence, for she noticed Flying Doctor's trembling body. Sweat was dripping from his brow.
Sensing something wrong, she asked, "Is there a secret hidden in your coffin?"
Flying Doctor nodded.
She said, "You're definitely not a miser, so you wouldn't have hidden money in the coffin. In that case."
Her eyes glistened. "Aha! You thought no one would come to steal your coffin, so you inscribed all the secrets of your medical skills and martial arts inside. You wanted those secrets to be buried along with you when you die."
Nodding his head again, Flying Doctor seemed paralyzed.
Feng sighed. "I don't understand. Why are people like you so selfish? Why aren't you willing to teach others what you have learned?"
Before she finished her words, they heard the sound of panting from outside. The eerie-looking lad stood at the doorway.
His whole body was soaked with blood, his right arm chopped off. He stared at Flying Doctor and uttered four words in a hoarse voice: "Xiao Shi-yi Lang!"
Having said this, he fell down, with his left hand clutching a boot. .
Xiao Shiyi Lang! It's Xiao Shiyi Lang again!
Feng stamped her feet and muttered with rage, "I didn't know he had become such a monster. It never occurred to me that he would do such a terrible thing."
Flying Doctor said, "I don't believe this is his doing. This is not like him."
Feng's eyes fell on the boot.
The boot was made of curried leather. The craftsmanship was elaborate. What struck her was that the surface was decorated with bright beads. Decent ordinary people wouldn't wear such shoes. Most martial artists wouldn't wear them, either.
She gave a deep sigh. "It's true that he never wore such shoes, but who knows what he has become?"
Flying Doctor said, "Xiao Shiyi Lang would never change."
Though she tried to keep a straight face, Feng's eyes showed a look of amusement. "This is odd. He chopped off your legs, yet you're leaping to his defense."
"He came to meet me in good faith. We had a duel, and he beat me squarely. I know he is an honorable man who wouldn't do anything underhanded."
She sighed faintly. "It sounds like you know him even better than I do. But why did this kid say his name before he died?"
Flying Doctor rolled his eyes. "The lad didn't know Xiao Shiyi Lang, but you do. If you track down the murderer, we will find out who did this."
She gave a laugh. "I see. You want me to catch the thief for you."
Flying Doctor hung his head, looking at his legs ruefully.
Feng's eyes showed a look of pity. "All right, I will hunt the thief for you. But I cannot guarantee that I will catch up with him. You know I'm not very good at Lightness Kung Fu."
"With a coffin on his back, that man couldn't have run very quickly. Otherwise, the boy wouldn't have been killed. The kid must have caught up with that man and held on to his leg."
She bit her lip and murmured, "Why did he assume Xiao Shiyi Lang's name? Why did he have to kill this boy? Otherwise, even if he had stolen eight hundred coffins, I wouldn't bother going after him."
The bright moon was cold, the mountain was desolate, and the wind was strong.
Feng had always hated to use her Lightness Kung Fun against the wind, as she was afraid that the wind blowing in her face would wrinkle her skin.
Yet now she was dashing and leaping facing the wind. Not because she wanted to catch the murderer, but because she wanted the cold wind to erase the image in her mind.
The first time she saw Xiao Shiyi Lang, he was just a teenager. Bare-chested, he was braving the rushing torrents trying to scramble up Longqiu Falls.
He tried again and again. Once he had almost made it only to be slammed down by the rushing water. His body landed on the rocks with a thump. His head was scratched, his body was bruised, and he was covered in blood.
Without stopping to tie up his wounds, he clenched his jaws and lunged forward again. This time he made it to the top of the Falls. He stood there clapping and laughing.
The image was branded on her memory.
No matter how fierce the winds, they could not dispel this image.
She bit her lip hard, and it hurt. She had tried not to think about him, but the saddest thing about humans is that they often cannot help thinking about the last thing they want to remember.
A shadow swayed with the wind.
Lost in thought, Feng didn't noticed anything unusual. She raced on, with her head hanging low until she came upon a face. The face was upside down, its bulging eyes growing bloodshot staring fixedly. The sight of it was terrifying beyond description.
No matter how bold, one would be shocked by the sight of this face. Feng backed away a few steps and lifted her head. The man hung upside down from the branch of a tree. She could not tell if he was still alive.
Just as she was going to check the man's breath, his eyes started rolling. His throat kept gurgling as if he wanted to talk.
"Were you ambushed?" she asked.
Unable to nod, he winked and said hoarsely, "It was a bandit, a bandit!"
He winked again.
He was not old, but his chin was covered with unshaved blue stubs. Though dressed gaudily, he had a mean face.
Feng gave a chuckle. "In my opinion, you look more like a bandit yourself. If I save you, perhaps I will become your next victim."
Though his eyes showed a malignant look, he grinned nervously. "If you help me out of this, I will pay you back generously."
"Since you have been robbed, what can you pay me with?" she asked.
The man was struck dumb, his face oozing cold sweat.
She smiled again. "I really don't think you look like a decent man, but I cannot bear to leave you dying, either."
He was relieved. "Thank you. Thank you very much."
She grinned, "I don't need you to thank me. I just hope that after I save you, you won't take an indecent interest in me."
The man repeated his thanks, but his eyes were fixed on her chest. The curves of her firm breasts were vaguely visible under her clothes. Feng wasn't really offended, as she knew most men were like that.
She leaped onto the branch of the tree. Just as she was going to unravel the tangled rope, she noticed that his tied foot was wearing a sock, but no shoe. The sock was stained with blood.
Turning to the other foot, she found that it was wearing a boot, made of curried leather and decorated with elaborate beads!
Feng was stunned.
After a while the man said, "Ma'am! You said you would help me. What are you waiting for?"
She rolled her eyes. "I still think it's inappropriate."
"Why is it inappropriate?"
"As I'm just a woman, I have to be particularly cautious. It's midnight, and there is no one else around. After I save you, what if you want to hurt me? What am I going to do?"
The man forced a smile, "Ma'am, please don't worry. I'm not an evil man. Besides, judging from the way you leaped onto the branch, you don't seem to get harmed easily."
"But I should still be careful. I've got to ask you some questions first."
Obviously a little impatient, he replied hoarsely, "What questions would you like to ask?"
"I wonder what your surname is and where you are from."
He replied hesitantly, "My surname is Xiao, and I'm from the north."
"What did the man who robbed you look like?" she asked.
He sighed. "To tell you the truth, I was hung up before I could even see his face."
She frowned. "How about the coffin? Was it snatched away too?"
With his face turning pale, the man gave a sheepish grin. "What coffin? Ma'am, I have no idea what you're talking about."
Without warning Feng bounded off the branch and gave him seven or eight quick slaps, leaving his face swollen and some of his teeth falling out. With a trickle of blood around the corners of his mouth, he flew into a rage. "Who are you? Why did you hit me?"
Feng smiled faintly. "That's exactly what I'm going to ask you. Who are you? Why did you steal Flying Doctor's coffin? Who sent you here? Why did you assume Xiao Shiyi Lang's name?"
His head jerked with each question. His face started twisting and his eyes showed a malicious look. He glared at her, his teeth chattering loudly.
She said coldly, "You don't want to talk, do you? All right, let me tell you. I'm Feng Siniang. Whoever is at my mercy will have to confess everything."
A look of horror flickered across his face. "Feng Siniang? So you are Feng Siniang!"
"Since you have heard my name, you should know that what I just said is true."
The man drew a long sigh and muttered, "I never imagined that I would ever meet the real Feng Siniang, the Enchantress. Well, well, well, well."
At the fourth "well", he suddenly bit down.
Seeing this, she immediately rushed over to unclamp his lower jaw. Yet it was too late. His eyes were turned up and his face turned black, with his lips curled in a cryptic sneer and his eyes bulging nearly out of their sockets. The man stared at Feng and said hoarsely, "Can you make me talk now?"
This man would rather swallow poison than tell the truth about himself. Obviously, he had been afraid that if he survived and went back, the punishment waiting for him would be worse than death.
Stamping her feet, Feng sneered, "It's just as well that you killed yourself. Whether you talked or not has nothing to do with me anyway."
Who hung this murderer upside down? And where did the coffin go?
To her amazement, the coffin had returned to Flying Doctor's tomb.
Could the coffin have walked home by itself?
Feng couldn't believe her eyes. She darted across the floor. "How did this coffin come back?" she demanded.
Flying Doctor's face beamed. "Someone sent it back."
With a mysterious smile, Flying Doctor said slowly, "Xiao Shiyi Lang!"
Stamping her feet, Feng was annoyed. "Xiao Shiyi Lang? It's him again! It was he who hung the man upside down. I wonder why he didn't interrogate the man about his motives."
"He knew that there is no use in interrogating certain types of people."
She said angrily, "Then why did he leave the man dangling? Did he intend to leave the man to me?"
Flying Doctor grinned but did not answer.
Her eyes swept around the room. "Where is he?"
She stared at Flying Doctor. "Since he knew I was here, why didn't he wait for me?"
"I said you didn't want to see him, so he had no choice but to leave."
Her lips curled in a sneer. "That's right. Every time I see this man, I get upset. Where did he go?"
He smirked. "Since you don't want to see him, what's the point in asking?"
Left speechless, Feng jumped up and kicked the table over, shouting, "You old Fox! I wish he would come again and chop off your hands!"
She stormed out of the chamber.
Flying Doctor gave a deep sigh and murmured, "Why is a woman in her thirties still acting like a child? This is odd."