Translator: Foxs' Wuxia
The warriors intercepting Xu Ziling tumbled to the east and collapsed to the west, no one was able to hold him back even for a short moment. Actually, Meiyan Furen’s men were not really so useless, rather, it was because momentarily they could not grasp what is true and what is false in him, and the strange skill and unusual method that he used, so that Xu Ziling was able to borrow the force to strike the force, attacking them that they had no time to deal with it.
All who were hit by Xu Ziling had their acupoint sealed, so that they were unable to crawl back up from the ground. From the main entrance he pursued Meiyan Furen straight to the hotel’s main hall. Behind him lay the five Meiyan Furen’s men, including Duan Xu [sic], their bodies marked the route that Xu Ziling took.
The other five warriors were chatting idly in the lobby, seeing their master was being chased and killed, greatly alarmed, they hurriedly drew their weapons and swarmed to intercept.
Meiyan Furen’s flower countenance lost its color, she shouted tenderly, “Stop him!”
This one sentence was enough to make Xu Ziling see through Meiyan Furen’s character; if she were willing to go through honor and disgrace, life and death together with her subordinates, this moment, no matter how she was afraid of Xu Ziling, she ought to change retreat into advance, to work together with her men to fight back against Xu Ziling, instead of wholeheartedly trying to escape.
Xu Ziling let out a cold snort, his right hand grabbed the empty space in front of him, immediately he generated a powerful suction force, which slowed down Meiyan Furen’s retreating momentum, and then his speed increased sharply, he pursued closely after Meiyan Furen, who was trying to slip away hurriedly, his palm turned into finger jab, he was still aiming at her pair of beautiful eyes.
His two fingers generated swift and fierce qi power, so that Meiyan Furen felt sharp pain on her pair of eyes, like being cut by a knife or pricked with a needle, her flower countenance lost its color, she had no choice but to transform her pair of hands into layer upon layer of palm shadows, in order to seal and block Xu Ziling’s pair of tricky hands, which appeared to be ruthlessly destroying the flower.
Xu Ziling’s robe swelled at the same time, so that the two sabers and three swords welcoming his body slipped away. This move was greatly beyond the expectation of the five warriors attacking him; he spun swiftly, his two hands changed as if he was turning into a thousand-hand-Guanyin, the five warriors were immediately toppling to the east and skewing to the west like dead leaves being swept by the gale, rolling around on the ground.
When Xu Ziling was facing Meiyan Furen again, the crafty beauty’s pair of jade hands split into top and bottom, two routes, to attack him, one took the pit of his stomach, the other swiftly chopped the vital part on his throat.
Xu Ziling laughed calmly, his leg flew up, it started later but arrived earlier, fast as lightning it kicked her lower abdomen, practically in total disregard of her swift and fierce move.
Meiyan Furen was shocked; unable to harm the enemy, she was only seeking to protect herself, by forcibly retracted her jade hand and evaded sideways.
Using his unique skill in changing his breathing, Xu Ziling withdrew his kick midway, it was something that was completely beyond the other party’s expectation, so how could she change her move to deal with it in time? Like a shadow attached to the form, Xu Ziling moved sideways in sync with her movement, his right hand swiftly stretched out, his two fingers were still pointing to her pair of beautiful eyes, acting as if he vowed not to rest before he crippled her pair of eyeballs.
The color of blood completely drained from Meiyan Furen’s pretty face, in total desperation, her two hands launched a strange trick to seal and block Xu Ziling’s two able-to-snatch-her-soul fingers.
Meiyan Furen’s hands heavily slapped Xu Ziling’s right arm five consecutive times, hands one after another, but just like a dragonfly trying to shake a rock, not only she could not shake it the least bit, or caused any damage, she could not slow down the speed of Xu Ziling’s move at all.
All movements ceased.
Finally, Xu Ziling’s hand squeezed Meiyan Furen’s touching silky neck. Sending out his true qi, in an instant he sealed a number of Meiyan Furen’s major acupoints, so that the beautiful woman’s two hands drooped down limply, her tender body lost its strength, she was completely under his control.
Fear appeared in Meiyan Furen’s pair of eyes.
Like still water, Xu Ziling stared at her without any expression, he spoke indifferently, “Let’s play an interesting game. If Furen will not hand over the Five-Colored Stone, I will cripple your pair of beautiful but most-able-to-deceive-people big eyes. If I did not guess incorrectly, Furen fled to the Central Earth because Funantuo was killed, so no one could protect you. Therefore, in order to protect the Five-Colored Stone, you had no choice but to stay away from the prairie. Am I right?”
Meiyan Furen’s pair of eyes still emitted bitter expression, in Xu Ziling’s grasp, her silky neck trembled continuously, panting heavily, she said, “You are so ruthless!”
Xu Ziling knew that this was a critical moment, without revealing the real thought inside his heart, he spoke indifferently, without any expression, “This is your last chance. What I, Xu Ziling said, I never go back on it. In order to get the Five-Colored Stone back, I can kill all of you, and then spend, at most, the time needed for one stick of incense to burn to search your luggage thoroughly. Furen, what do you think?”
Meiyan Furen trembled again, like a defeated cock, she spoke dejectedly, “You win!”
Heavy snow covered the horizon.
Kou Zhong flew at full speed on the snowy plain, snowflakes as big as his fist pounced on him, covering his head, covering his face, and instantly turned into cold ice water, seeping into his neck, but his heart was burning.
No matter from which standpoint, no matter from what angle, he definitely should not miss Song Que and Ning Daoqi’s terrifying-heaven-and-earth, making-the-ghosts-and-the-deities-sobbing battle.
He was not worried that his sudden departure would leave the Shao Shuai Army like a thunder of dragons without a head, because there was Song Lu, who knew the inside story, who would take care of everything for him and placate Xu Xingzhi and the others.
Song Que’s majestic back appeared in the blurry distance of the wind and the snow ahead, and gradually became clear as he got closer.
Kou Zhong suddenly had the strange feeling of being trapped in a dreamland, the snowflakes filling the sky enhanced the strange feeling of whether it was an illusion or a real scene; or perhaps life was really nothing but a big dream, and most of the time he was lost inside this dreamland, only in certain special time, due to certain emotions, this moment of epiphany was evoked. But he also knew more clearly than at any other moment that if he turned back, he would be trapped in this lucid dream again.
He really hoped that everything before him was just a dream.
Song Que and Ning Daoqi were both men whom he respected, esteemed and admired, yet they had to fight a decisive battle of life and death. This move of Shi Feixuan’s was really too cruel.
Flying to Song Que’s side, this outstanding figure, who was acclaimed as the number one saber technique expert in the world looked at him without the least bit of surprise. Slowing down his steps, he smiled calmly and said, “Shaoshuai wants to see me off a little bit? Or do you want to be a spectator and witness the decisive battle?”
Kou Zhong promptly halted his steps; hanging his head down, he said, “This kid hopes that when Fazhu and Ning Daoqi are in a decisive battle, he can be a witness on the side.”
Song Que laughed aloud and said, “This means that you have no confidence, in which case you already lost this battle. This time Ning Daoqi won’t be like last time, only playing with you, but he will take advantage of your weak point, your lack of confidence, he will be completely unscrupulous to put you to death. After Shaoshuai returns to heaven, Ning Daoqi will still not let this matter drop, he will still challenge me, then wouldn’t it be that you are coming out to battle on my behalf will be superfluous, and the Shao Shuai Army will fall apart?”
Kou Zhong spoke frankly, “Does Fazhu have the confidence to win?”
Song Que spoke indifferently, “In terms of self-cultivation and skills, even if we are not almost on a par, the difference is hardly any. However, this battle is not an ordinary martial art competition, but a life-and-death decisive battle. In this regard, Ning Daoqi lacks my, Ol’ Song’s valuable experience of real combat on the battlefield. Therefore, in this battle, Ning Daoqi will undoubtedly lose. Song Que has a hundred-percent confidence.”
From the tone of his voice, Kou Zhong was certain that his every word evolved from his true heart, absolutely not empty words to pacify him; surprised, he said, “But when Fazhu was sitting alone in the inner hall just now, your appearance strange, you also said Ning Daoqi knows how to pick the time, making this kid mistakenly think that Fazhu is concerned about the outcome of this battle.”
Song Que muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day, slightly slowing down his pace, he said, “Shaoshuai indeed misunderstood! At that time, only because of this decisive battle evoked memories of a person, furthermore, our relationship developed to this full-of-sorrow extent – that my expression was strange, not because I was worrying about not being able to overcome Ning Daoqi’s San Shou Ba Pu.”
Kou Zhong spoke softly, “Fan Qinghui?”
Song Que revealed a pained expression, but his tone was still calm without any ripple, as he spoke indifferently, “Ning Daoqi is one of the few people in the world who has won my, Song Que’s respect, otherwise I would have challenged him early on. Qinghui deliberately makes things difficult for me, she is testing my determination. Qinghui has always been known for her exhaustive plan, but this time she is gravely mistaken.”
Kou Zhong could not help asking, “I wonder if Fazhu’s saber will show mercy?”
Song Que laughed aloud and said, “This is another reason Ol’ Song absolutely not allow Shaoshuai to make your move. Apart from the saber, there is no other thing. When saber blades are facing each other, how could it allow the slightest degree of self-restraint? Oh, Qinghui! Is this the outcome you want to see?”
When speaking the last two sentences, Song Que sighed with myriad of sorrows, he could not help sighing.
Kou Zhong was dumbstruck and unable to reply.
Song Que halted his steps. With both hands behind his back, he looked up at the floating snow filling the sky.
Song Que looked at him, showing auspicious and peaceful smile, his manner returned to calm and leisurely, not at all looked like he was on the way to battle a formidable opponent. He spoke indifferently, “In this life, eight or nine out of ten – matters do not go according to our wishes. When I encountered Fan Qinghui in the past, it was late at night when the bright moon was coming right onto my face. At that time, I was about your age, Bi Xiuxin had not made her debut yet. I have never told anybody about this matter.”
Looking at the night sky again, he sighed lightly and said, “When Bi Xiuxin was disgraced by Shi Zhixuan, that crafty villain, Qinghui went down the mountain for the second time. I met her again in Jianghu, we have been separated for more than ten years. When I first met her, I was still a nameless person wandering alone, while the ‘Ba Dao’ [overbearing saber] Yue Shan’s reputation was like the sun at noon, hence Qinghui viewed me in a new light. She roamed around arm-in-arm with me, talking freely about the current situation of the world, the rise and fall of the ancient and modern governments.”
Speaking with difficulty, Kou Zhong stammered, “Why was Fazhu willing to let her go then?”
Song Que looked at him, the strange light in his pair of eyes flashing, he spoke as if he was deep in thought, “Let her go? Ha! I never thought that kind of wording, why would I be willing to let her go?”
Stepping into the wine shop, Xu Ziling saw Yin Xianhe, with wooden expression, sitting alone in a corner. On the table, other than a cup and a jar, there was nothing else, so he put down the load on his mind. He did not have the slightest confidence in destiny anymore. Due to Meiyan Furen‘s delay, he was unable to come quickly, furthermore, he was afraid that with such delay, Yin Xianhe might meet some accident; therefore, he had to see with his own eyes that Yin Xianhe was safe and sound, before he could come over with ease of mind.
He sat down on the other side of the table, grabbed the mouth of the wine jar, lifted it up and set it down again, and said with sigh, “Didn’t you promise me that you were going to drink only two cups? Now half a jar of wine has gone into your belly.”
Yin Xianhe looked at him, he spoke heavily, “Because I am scared.”
Xu Ziling was puzzled, “What are you afraid of?”
Yin Xianhe said dejectedly, “I’m scared to go to Chang’an. Back then, during soldiers mutiny and troops rebel in Yangzhou, such a group of little girls fled in panic, I don’t dare to imagine their prospect! Supposing Ji Qian was really Xiaoji’s escape partner, and she told me bad news about Xiaoji, ay! What should I do? Ay! Ziling! I am in so much pain!” He reached out to grab the wine jar again.
Xu Ziling pressed down the wine jar, not allowing him take the wine and drink again, feeling great pity in his heart. Yin Xianhe’s usual cold and lonely haughty appearance was just a guise under extreme depression. When the wine entered the anxiety, it would shatter his strong shell, exposing his fragile and helpless side. The only solution was to find Yin Xiaoji for him so that he could live a happy life as a normal person.
Yin Xianhe was obviously quite drunk, he looked at Xu Ziling in surprise, frowned and said, “No need to trouble you, I know how to pour wine by myself.”
Helpless, Xu Ziling poured a cup full for him, he declared, “This is the last cup before Chang’an, we can’t afford to lose sight in finding Xiaoji.” Finished pouring, he put the wine jar on his side of the table.
Yin Xianhe cast his gaze to the strong wine rippling under the lantern light inside the cup, he spoke monotonously, “Why don’t Ziling drink? I think you also have a lot on your mind. After leaving Chengdu, I haven’t seen you showing the least bit of joy.”
Xu Ziling really wanted to show him a smiling expression, but found that his facial muscles were stiff, he sighed and said, “Because my heart is also in a lot of pain.”
Shi Feixuan’s immortal trail’s sudden appearance made him caught in the no room to advance or to retreat situation, not only in term of his relationship with either Kou Zhong and her, but also in term of his feelings for Shi Feixuan. If Shi Feixuan had never set foot in the mortal world, then naturally his relationship with Shi Feixuan started in Longquan and ended in Longquan. Also, precisely under this kind of frame of mind that he fought for Shi Qingxuan with all his strength. However, Shi Feixuan’s appearance threw the foot his troop disposition into a mess. Rationally, he knew what to choose, but knowing was one thing, whether he would be able to do it was another thing. Human emotions are just like a ferocious beast that can never be completely tamed.
He has not completely gotten over Shi Feixuan yet, so how could Shi Feixuan be unmoved by him? Both of them worked hard to restrain themselves and to build embankment between them.
Yin Xianhe raised his cup and drank it in one gulp, patting the table, he said, “The best way is to drink until you are unconscious, hey! Give me another cup.”
Smiling bitterly, Xu Ziling said, “You know, I have just fought with someone, and I have the Five-Colored Stone in my pocket.”
Yin Xianhe’s thin body was shaken, “Meiyan Furen?” he blurted out.
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “It was precisely taken from her hand. She wanted to flee from beyond the Great Wall to here, it was to hide from the enemies who are scheming to get the Five-Colored Stone from her. Now this hot potato has come into our hands, if we turn into a couple of dead-drunk-like-mud drunkards, the consequences are unimaginable.”
Yin Xianhe picked up the wine cup, placed it in the center of the table, and said, “How about letting me have a few more sips? I promised this is the last cup.”
Xu Ziling was helpless against him, he poured another cup full for him, his mind turned back to Shi Feixuan again, recalling every single one of her expressions when she was talking outside the City of Chengdu earlier. According to her standards, she was unable to restrain her emotions toward him, and she could not conceal it either, hence the reason she said that she cared about what Xu Ziling thought of her. This has made him to be more on guard, so that after parting company with her, he couldn’t help thinking about her constantly, and this has made him feel deeply guilty toward Shi Qingxuan. Heavens! What is this all about!
The strong wine was poured into his throat and into his belly.
It was only then that Xu Ziling realized he was holding the jar with both hands and was taking a big mouthful of wine.
When he put down the wine jar, Yin Xianhe was staring blankly at him, the full cup in front of him was surprisingly untouched.
When the wine entered the sorrow, drunken feeling welled up in Xu Ziling’s heart; still a bit embarrassed, he said, “Good wine!”
Long laughter rang out, someone spoke behind him, “Turns out Ziling is also a good drinker.”
Stunned, Xu Ziling looked up, the Tuyuhun Prince Fu Qian, whom he had not seen for a long time, accompanied by his number-one man Xing Mofei, was coming towards his table with dragon walk and tiger step.
Xu Ziling stood up in a hurry, greatly delighted, he said, “I was just about to look for you.”
After introducing Yin Xianhe to the two men, the four of them sat around the table, the waiter set up cups, bowls and chopsticks again, Fu Qian randomly ordered several dishes of snacks to accompany the wine. Xing Mofei raised his cup to toast everybody, the atmosphere suddenly grew warm.
After two rounds of wine, Fu Qian laughed and said, “I have been sending my men to watch and monitor the inn where Meiyan, that little girl is staying, but I never thought I found Ziling instead. This is indeed a pleasant surprise.” Finished speaking, he cast a glance toward Yin Xianhe.
Xu Ziling hurriedly said, “Xianhe is one of our own, no need to have any misgivings.”
Lowering his voice, Xing Mofei said, “Xu Ye should know that since you guys left, the situation beyond the Great Wall has undergone sky-and-the-earth-turning-upside-down [idiom: complete confusion] changes.”
Fu Qian added, “It was not until we looked into the Central that we learned that the situation in the Central Plains had reversed. The rise of the Shao Shuai Army made the Li Tang lost its domination; this has also disrupted our plans, on the further development of the situation inside and outside the Great Wall, we no longer have the slightest bit of certainty.”
Xu Ziling swept his gaze around, inside the wine shop, only two tables near the door were occupied, more than a dozen tables around them were empty, there was no risk of anybody eavesdropping their conversation. He asked, “This time Fu Xiong is coming to the Central Earth, what grand plan do you have?”
Smiling wryly, Fu Qian replied, “What grand plan? Isn’t it to deal with the Tujue? Did you know that the Western Tujue’s Tongyehu, by way of Yun Shuai, secretly formed an alliance with Li Jiancheng? This matter is related to the flourish or decline, rise or fall of my Tuyuhun, so I have no choice but to go to the Central Plains again, we were supposed to discuss it with Qin Wang, who would have thought that the situation is totally different, so that the foot our troop disposition is thrown into chaos.”
Obtaining sudden understanding, Xu Ziling said, “Turns out the news was coming from Fu Xiong.”
Xing Mofei proposed a toast to Yin Xianhe, “Yin Xiong?” he asked.
Yin Xianhe covered the mouth of the cup with his hand, preventing Xing Mofei from adding wine for him, he spoke apologetically, “I promised Ziling that that was the last cup.”
Xu Ziling nodded in response to Xing Mofei’s questioning look, indicating that this was indeed the case. He continued asking Fu Qian, “How is the current situation outside the Great Wall?”
Fu Qian spoke with heavy voice, “The current situation outside the Great Wall is history’s inevitable development. Since the Tujue’s Asina Tumen [or Bumin Khan] became the tribal chief, the Tujue has become stronger with each passing day. After defeating Tiele and Rouran, he became the overlord of the prairie. Since then, following the ambitions of the tribal chiefs of various tribes, the Wolf Army continuously expanded its power to the four directions. Their ultimate goal is your Central Earth, this piece of big fatty meat. Yang Jian’s success in proclaiming himself hegemon has brought the Great Sui’s national power to its peak. But it was also due to the rich and strong national power that incited Yang Guang to abuse of national power, which led to the defeat and perish of the country. When Yang Guang first sent military campaign to Gaoli, the once-considered-themselves-unexcelled-in-the-world Eastern and Western Tujue both acknowledged allegiance to the Great Sui, but the failure of the three campaigns to Gaoli exhausted the Great Sui’s national power. The Central Earth split up, it paves the way for the re-emergence of the Wolf Army. It is indeed once in a thousand years opportunity for the Tujue to invade the Central Plains. If I were Xieli, I would definitely not miss this opportunity.”
Reaching out and raised his cup, he laughed aloud and said, “We rarely raise our cups and have a heart-to-heart chat like this. I wonder Ziling and Xianhe are interested in listening to the tragic past written in blood and tears of the people inside and outside the Great Wall’s soldiers? It will give you a deeper understanding of the current situation and the possibility of future development.”
Emotionally moved, Xu Ziling said, “I would love to hear the details!”
He knew Fu Qian’s style of conduct, he would not speak falsehood, let alone nonsense; if he was willing to recount the whole story like this, he must have a purpose behind it, hence he agreed without the slightest hesitation.