Zhou Botong is the junior of Wang Chongyang, the founder of the Quanzhen Sect. He is the most senior person in the Quanzhen Sect after Wang Chongyang's death. However, Zhou Botong neither accepts any apprentices nor remains in Quanzhen most of the time. Instead, he roams the jianghu to derive entertainment from anything of interest to him, including fights and toys. Despite so, he still maintains respect for Wang Chongyang's wishes and abides by Quanzhen's rules.
Zhou Botong was a longtime friend of Wang Chongyang, and grew to be a mighty wulin with his friend's guidance and tutelage. Zhou, however, practiced martial arts purely because of the fun and fascination he had with the endless arts and variations, and not for any personal improvement or enlargement of his spirit; Wang was disappointed and warned Zhou that without a noble heart, martial skills can't go past a certain level. Zhou had a romantic affair with Duan Zhixing's concubine, Liu Ying, but broke up with her after heeding his senior's advice. However, Liu Ying was already pregnant with his child and gave birth to a son later. The infant was mortally wounded by a masked assailant (later revealed to be Qiu Qianren) and died from his injuries. Duan Zhixing, who had the ability to save the boy, refused to do so out of anger of her betrayal and the fact that he would lose all his wugong if he did. Zhou Botong was unaware that he had had a son until he meets Liu Ying (renamed to Yinggu) several years later.
The Jiu Yin Zheng JingEdit
After Wang Chongyang's death, Zhou Botong followed the former's dying wish and took the coveted Nine Yin Manual elsewhere for safekeeping. He met Huang Yaoshi and his wife, Feng Heng, along the way. Huang Yaoshi tricked Zhou Botong into allowing his wife to read the manual after beating Zhou in a game of stone-throwing. Zhou Botong let Feng Heng read the second volume of the book and she memorised the text after reading it once.
Feng Heng lied to Zhou Botong that the manual was actually a copy of a book of childish rites and claimed that she knew the text by heart. She recited it verbatim to him without looking. Zhou Botong believed her and almost destroyed the second volume of the manual in anger before leaving. Some time later, Zhou Botong realized that he had been fooled so he traveled Peach Blossom Island to confront Huang Yaoshi and demand an explanation. Feng Heng had died recently after giving birth to Huang Yaoshi's daughter, and Huang Yaoshi was still grieving and irrationally blamed Zhou for her death. The two of them had a heated quarrel, in which Zhou Botong taunted Huang Yaoshi by saying that he could now practice martial arts better without distraction from his wife. Huang Yaoshi turned furious and fought with Zhou Botong, ultimately breaking the old man's legs.
Imprisonment on Peach Blossom IslandEdit
Botong retreated to a cave on the island and threatened to destroy the Jiu Yin Zheng Jing if Huang entered the cave. Huang Yaoshi swore he would attack Zhou Botong if he left that cave, and that he would take the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing were it left unguarded. Huang Yaoshi then sealed off all exit routes from the island so Zhou Botong was effectively imprisoned on the island for the next 15 years. Yaoshi played his flute every night, attacking Zhou's neigong by stirring up painful emotions and memories. Since this was a contest of wills, Huang Yaoshi made two concessions: Food was delivered every day so Botong would not starve, and Huang Yaoshi would not try to claim the manual when Zhou Botong left the cave to relieve himself. Zhou would use the excursions to stretch his legs and get some exercise, spending as long as two hours on the island.
Fifteen years later, Guo Jing sets foot on the island and meets Zhou Botong. They become sworn brothers even though Zhou Botong is older than Guo Jing by at least 40 years. He tells Guo Jing stories about the Nine Yin Manual and his conflict with Huang Yaoshi. He still has the first volume of the manual with him and he'd never learned the skills at the command of the deceased Wang Chongyang, but Zhou feels it would permissible for Guo Jing to learn the skills in the book--which would satisfy Zhou's curiosity about the arts while keeping within the bounds of his oath. Over a period of days and through much rote drilling, Guo Jing memorises the text and begins to incorporate its concepts into his martial arts. Zhou Botong also teaches him the 'Seventy-two Styles Vacant Fist' and the 'Technique of Ambidexterity', and Guo helps him polish these unorthodox techniques until Botong is confident that he could defeat Huang Yaoshi. Zhou didn't realize, though, that he, too, was learning the arts of the Nine Yin Manual as he was drilling and repeating it to Guo Jing. To his shame, he had absorbed the moves and nuances without realizing it, and the talented Zhou Botong was effortlessly including the improvements of the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing to his kung fu--meaning he had disobeyed Wang Chongyang's dying command to never learn and use the Nine Yin Manual's techniques, much to his chagrin.
Freedom and later yearsEdit
Zhou Botong finally settles his feud with Huang Yaoshi with the help of Guo Jing and Huang Rong. He leaves the island with them and follows them on their adventures on the mainland. He participates in the second martial arts contest held on Mount Hua but leaves halfway when Yinggu appears and tells him to kill Qiu Qianren to avenge their son.
Later, Zhou Botong accepted Yelü Qi as his secret apprentice and imparted some of his skills to him. He also teaches Xiaolongnü the 'Technique of Ambidexterity' when both of them are trapped in a cave by Jinlun Guoshi. In return, Xiaolongnü teaches him how to use the jade bees and helps to cure him after he is poisoned by Jinlun's ice spiders.
Zhou Botong then lives alone for a few years in the Hundred Blossoms Valley, where he spends his time keeping bees as his pets and practising how to control and direct them with the skill he learnt from Xiaolongnü. He meets Yinggu and Duan Zhixing (now known as Reverend Yideng) again with Yang Guo's help. He forgives Qiu Qianren for his misdeeds and Qiu dies in peace. Zhou Botong also participates briefly in defending the city of Xiangyang from Mongol invaders.
Martial Arts and Skills Edit
Quanzhen Arts Edit
Zhou Botong was taught by Wang Chongyang and knew their martial arts and practices. When he first realizes the potential of the Technique of Ambidexterity, he experiments with using his Vacant Fist alongside a Quanzhen palm form.
Vacant fist Edit
Zhou Botong created this skill when he was trapped on Peach Blossom Island by Huang Yaoshi. It was meant to be a counter-move against hard-striking styles like the "18 Dragon-Subduing Palms" of the Beggars' Sect. He teaches this skill to Guo Jing later.
Jade bees Edit
Zhou Botong is trapped in a cave together with Xiaolongnü by Jinlun Guoshi. Jinlun uses his poisonous creatures to attack them without entering the cave. Zhou Botong is poisoned after being stung by Jinlun's icy spiders and Xiaolongnü uses her jade bees to cure him since the bees' poison helps to neutralise the spider venom. Zhou Botong is fascinated and asks Xiaolongnü to teach him how to use the bees. In return, he teaches her the 'Technique of Ambidexterity'. He learns how to direct the bees to attack enemies and keeps bees as pets when he stays in Hundred Blossoms Valley.
Technique of Ambidexterity Edit
Zhou Botong created this skill when he was trapped on Huang Yaoshi's island. He was bored and decided to fight with himself to keep himself occupied. After many years of practice and effort, Zhou was able to split his focus and control each hand independently. Once he achieved this, he could use different styles and attacks with each hand at the same time. This made him seem as though he was watching a fight between two opponents, and he mastered the art of ambidexterity as a result. In actual fights, he uses this skill to simultaneously attack and defend against multiple opponents and is even able to create doppelgänger illusions purely from the blazing speed and confusing movements of two styles used simultaneously. The skill's weakness, such as it is, is its extreme difficulty to learn, and neither hand can have to the full force of the user's internal energy behind it--but at the level of Zhou Botong and the other martial greats a clean hit, even without the user's complete strength behind it, could be deadly. He teaches this skill to Guo Jing and Xiaolongnü later.
Zhou Botong is lost while sailing on Wanyan Honglie's ship. He wagers with Ouyang Feng and challenges the latter to kill all the sharks in the sea. Ouyang Feng uses his venom to poison and kill all sharks within sight. Zhou Botong is presumed dead after falling into the sea, but he reappears several days later and returns to the ship, riding on a shark in the waves. He finds shark-riding an extremely fun sport and claims that Ouyang Feng has lost the bet since he failed to kill all the sharks (the one he is riding).