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Hua Hui stared at her, his brows tightly furrowed. He pondered over her proposal countless times, and was unable to come to a decision. She pulled the poisoned needle off the head of his staff, and handed it to him, saying, “Let me see the scar on your back. If you see that I have evil intentions, then you can use the poisoned needle to prick me!” Hua Hui replied, “Good!” He undressed and revealed his back. When she looked at it, she could not help be give a low gasp. On his back were spots and blotches. Who knew how many hundreds or thousands of scars were there? Hua Hui said, “I’ve tried countless means and ways to dig the poisoned needle out, but to no avail.” Some of these scars seemed to be have been made by hitting against sharp rocks. Others seemed to be made by sharp fingernails. As Li Wenxiu looked at these scars, she realised the amount of pain he must have suffered these twelve years. Her heart was filled with sorrow, and she asked, “Where is the poisoned needle located?” Hua Hui said, “There are three in total. One is at the Po Hu Acupoint, one is at the Zhi Shi Acupoint, and one is at the Zhi Yang Acupoint.” As he spoke, he twisted his hand backwards to point out the location of each poisoned needle. Since a long time had passed, coupled with the numerous scars on his back, it was impossible to see the holes made by the needles.
Li Wenxiu gasped, “There are three needles in all? Didn’t you say you were hit by only one?” Angrily, he said, “Previously, you did not say that you were going to remove the needles for me, so why would I tell you the truth?” Li Wenxiu knew that his heart was heavy with suspicion. The truth was that he had lost all his martial arts skills after being hit by the three poisoned needles. Afraid that she would try to harm him, he lied that he had vowed that he would not use his martial arts skills easily. As for the number of poisoned needles which had hit him, he had declared two less than the true number. He could thus protect himself if she had the intention to harm him. She did not like his lies and suspicions, but since she had decided to help him, she would help him to the end. This old man was certainly pitiful. Thus, she put down all her misgivings, and pondered on how she was going to remove the poisoned needles which had sunk deep into his flesh.
Hua Hui queried, “Can you see clearly?” Li Wenxiu replied, “I cannot see the ends of the needles, so how do you think I should go about removing them?” Hua Hui said, “You must use a sharp object to cut open the flesh, and only then can you see them. They have sunk deep inside, and are hard to find.” As he spoke, his voice began to tremble. Li Wenxiu answered, “It’s a pity that I did not bring my small knife.” Hua Hui said, “I don’t have a knife either.” Suddenly, he pointed to the long sabre which had fallen to the ground, saying, “Use this sabre!” That long sabre gleamed with a green light, and was very sharp. It lay next to the body of the bandit surnamed Yun. At this point, the owner was dead, but the sabre remained. It struck terror in those who saw it.
Li Wenxiu was extremely hesitant to use such a long sabre to cut open his back. Hua Hui guessed what she was feeling. His tone becoming gentle, he said, “Miss Li, if you help me remove the poisoned needles, I will give you lots of gold and jewels. I’m not lying to you; I will really give you lots of gold and jewels.” Li Wenxiu answered, “I don’t need those treasures, neither do I want your thanks. As long as you don’t suffer from any more pain, that is good enough for me.” Hua Hui said, “All right, please do it quickly then.” Li Wenxiu went over and picked up the long sabre. She then cut off about ten strips of cloth from the bandit’s clothes to be used for stopping the bleeding and bandaging the wound. She said, “Uncle, I will do all that I can. Please bear with the pain.” She gritted her teeth, and aimed the tip of the sabre near the Po Hu Acupoint which he had previously pointed out to her. Then she cut his flesh gently.
The sabre entered his flesh, and blood spurted out. Astonishingly, Hua Hui did not even make a sound. He asked, “Can you see it?” Since he had managed to bear with the pain for twelve years, being cut by a sharp blade did not really affect him. Li Wenxiu pulled a hairpin off her hair, and used it to probe the wound. She found a thin needle nailed tightly to the bone.
She stretched two fingers into the wound, and grasped the end of the needle. She gave a strong pull, but her fingers slipped, and she was unable to pull the poisoned needle out. She managed the pull the needle out only in her fourth try. Hua Hui gave a loud shriek. The pain he felt was so immense that he fainted. Li Wenxiu thought, “At least he will not feel the pain, seeing that he has lost consciousness.” She cut open his flesh to remove the other needles. After she had removed the remaining two needles, she used the strips of cloth to bandage the wounds.
After quite a while, Hua Hui slowly regained consciousness. He opened his eyes and saw the three pitch-black poisoned needles placed in front of him. Hatefully, he said, “Damnable needles, wicked needles! You’ve stayed in my flesh for twelve years, and today, you have finally come out.” To Li Wenxiu, he said, “Miss Li, you saved my life but I have nothing to give you in return. I’ll give you these three poisoned needles as a gift. Although they were lodged in my flesh for twelve years, their toxicity still remains.” Li Wenxiu shook her head, saying, “I don’t want them.” Hua Hui was amazed: “You have witnessed the formability of these poisoned needles with your own eyes. With these needles, everyone will fear you.” In a low voice, she said, “I don’t want other people to fear me.” In her heart she thought, “I only want other people to like me. These poisoned needles would be useless then.”
After the poisoned needles had been removed, Hua Hui was extremely weak due to an excessive loss of blood. But he was in high spirits and full of vitality. He shut his eyes and slept for more than two hours. In his dreams, he heard someone cursing loudly. Startled, he woke up. He heard the bandit surnamed Song, standing outside the cave, cursing with filthy expletives. Every word he said was extremely vicious. He obviously did not dare to enter, but wanted to taunt his enemies into coming out. As he listened, he became more furious. He stood up and said, “Since the poisoned needles in my body are gone, how can ‘One Finger Shakes Jiangnan’ be afraid of two insignificant crooks?” He tried to channel his energy up, but was unable to do so. He sighed, “The poisoned needles were lodged in my body for too long a time, it seems that I will not be able to regain my martial arts skills until after three or four months.” Hearing the bandit scold “A thousand crooks, ten thousand crooks” viciously, he said angrily, “Must I wait many months before killing you, while you curse me in the meantime?” Then he thought, “If they don’t enter the cave, and this deadlock continues, they’ll probably go back and return with a large contingent of men. That would be dreadful. So what shall we do?”
Realisation hit him, and he said, “Miss Li, let me teach you a martial arts sequence, and you can settle those two crooks outside.” Li Wenxiu asked, “How long will I take to master it? It won’t be that soon, will it?” Hua Hui said, “If I teach you how to seal acupoints, swordfighting and fistfighting, you’ll need at least half a year to master them. You have to master something quickly, an unorthodox weapon which you can see immediate results after some practicing, and can use to defeat your opponent in one or two moves. But where can we find an unorthodox weapon in this cave?” He lifted his head, and joyfully cried, “Got it! Pick two of the bottle gourds over there. They must be linked by vines. We’ll practice the meteor hammer.” In the area where sunlight shone into the cave, Li Wenxiu saw about ten bottle gourds hanging there. They had withered a long time ago, and she could not tell when they had first grown there. Using the sabre, she cut down two gourds with the vines still attached. Hua Hui said, “Excellent! Use your sabre to dig a small cavity on the gourds, and pour sand into them. Then stuff the cavities with the vines. Li Wenxiu obeyed his instructions. Both gourds were completely filled with sand, and each weighed about seven to eight jin. It looked exactly like a meteorite hammer. Hua Hui received it, and said, “I’ll teach you the stroke ‘Stars and Moon Vying for Splendour.’” He lifted the meteor hammer up, and demonstrated the movement. In this stroke, the left hammer would hit the enemy’s Shang Qu Acupoint located between the chest and the belly. Meanwhile, the right hammer would swing out, then back again, curving around to hit the enemy’s Ling Tai Acupoint located on his back. Although it was only one stroke, it included various skills like arm strength, good judgment, being able to use the hammer to hit the correct acupoints. At the same time, the user had to be on guard against the enemy’s dodging, and borrowing power to strike back. Thus, Li Wenxiu practiced for more than two hours, before she could wield the hammer with accuracy.
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