- Chinese title: 笑傲江湖
English title: Smiling Proud Wanderer
- Episodes: 40
The plot’s initial development revolves around a coveted martial arts manual known as the “Bixie Swordplay Manual”. The manual is an heirloom of the Lin family, who run the Fuwei Escort Agency, a private security service, in Fuzhou. Yu Canghai, the leader of the Qingcheng Sect, leads his followers to massacre the Lins and attempts to seize the manual for himself but does not find it. Lin Pingzhi, the sole survivor from the Lin family, is saved by Yue Buqun, the head of the Mount Hua Sect, which is a member of the Five Mountains Sword Sects Alliance. Yue Buqun accepts Lin Pingzhi as an apprentice and trains him in swordplay.
The novel’s protagonist is Yue Buqun’s most senior apprentice, Linghu Chong, an orphaned, happy-go-lucky but honorable swordsman who has a penchant for alcoholic drinks. He befriends the notorious bandit Tian Boguang and saves Yilin, a nun from the (North) Mount Heng Sect, from Tian’s lecherous advances. In the meantime, Liu Zhengfeng of the (South) Mount Heng Sect announces his decision to leave the jianghu (martial artists’ community) and invites his fellow martial artists to witness his retirement ceremony. The event turns into a bloodbath when Zuo Lengshan, the chief of the Mount Song Sect, and other orthodox sects accuse Liu Zhengfeng of being unfaithful to their code by befriending Qu Yang, an elder of the “evil” Sun Moon Holy Cult. Liu and Qu are cornered by Zuo and his men and eventually commit suicide. Before dying, Liu and Qu give Linghu Chong the score of Xiaoao Jianghu, a musical piece they composed together.