After bidding Song Shidao farewell, Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong returned to the hall and sat down; they were both overcome with heavy feeling that they wanted to talk, but no words came out.
After a long while, Ba Fenghan slowly shook his head and said with a sigh, "Only someone with deep feeling like Song Shidao worthy to have women all over the world fall in love with him; you and I are not worthy.”
Kou Zhong dejectedly said, "Song Er Gongzi makes me feel small and ashamed. Ay! In your frame of mind right now, how could you challenge Qu Ao into battle?”
Smiling wryly, Ba Fenghan replied, "That's why I came back here and shut myself up. Oh yeah, did you encounter any martial art experts on the demon ship?”
"All martial art masters in the whole nest came out,” Kou Zhong said, "After they left to play with you, the remaining several maids and servants did not even dare to come out to look at us. We also saw Shangguan Long, and nearly finish him up as well.”
In deep contemplation, Ba Fenghan said, "Yin Gui Pai's martial art masters are truly countless; we came across Wen Caiting, which is by all means not inferior to Bian Bufu. If we cannot annihilate Yin Gui Pai demons, I am returning to Tujue and might be forgotten, but you won't be able to sleep soundly.”
"It's easy for you to say,” Kou Zhong said, "Currently female demon Zhu, female demon Wan, and the others do not come to bother us, we can thank the gods for their kindness; how could we dare to provoke them?”
"A man must not be that unambitious, this is called ‘drifting and living without purpose',” Ba Fenghan said, "Right now the most important thing for us is to confront the powerful enemy with any fear, and unceasingly trying to find breakthrough from real combat experience. If we dodge to the left and run to the right, in the end we cannot be martial art masters like Ning Daoqi.”
Kou Zhong was aghast. "Are you suggesting that right now we swagger into the street and let others make us their target?” he asked.
Ba Fenghan laughed aloud and said, "You really know what I have in mind. Just think that we are doing this for Junyu. Only this way will we be able to attract Yin Gui Pai people, so that Song Er Gongzi will be able to safely carry the beauty out of here.”
Kou Zhong stared blankly for half a day. Eventually he understood what Ba Fenghan meant.
Yin Gui Pai has always intimidated Jianghu with their shock-and-awe style; therefore, no matter how powerful any school or sect, they would not dare to provoke them for no particular reason.
And now they were openly stroking Yin Gui Pai's tiger whiskers by snatching Fu Junyu away from the palm of their hands. If this matter spread out in Jianghu, it would mean a big blow to Yin Gui Pai's reputation, it might even be an extremely serious hit for them.
It could be imagined that when Zhu Yuyan received the news that Junyu was rescued out of their hands, she might toss any misgivings she had and make hunting and killing them as their top priority.
Under this situation, whether Song Shidao would be able to safely take Fu Junyu out, would be a really big question mark.
Without giving any regard to his own safety, Ba Fenghan wanted to contain Yin Gui Pai's main force within the city.
Kou Zhong suddenly rose up, tapped the Moon in the Well on his back, and shouted loudly, "There's no time to lose, let's go! But we must let them know first.”
※ ※ ※
Song Shidao and Xu Ziling hid in one of the boats moored on the dock by the Tianjin Bridge, quietly waiting for news from Ren En.
On the bed lay the sleeping-deeply Korean swordswoman Fu Junyu.
Song Shidao smiled and said, "For the last few years, today is the first time that my mind moved you're your Niang to somebody else; I feel my whole body is full of energy. Having the goal to reach and the direction to take, I am brimming with vitality.”
Xu Ziling nodded to indicate he understood, but he didn't know what to say.
And then Song Shidao asked about what happened to Fu Junchuo. Listening to Xu Ziling narrating how the boys got to know Fu Junchuo, he showed great interest and seemed to be listening with pleasure.
Along the way, he asked a lot of questions, forcing Xu Ziling to remember many details that he had already forgotten.
The more he listened, the more Song Shidao was excited; but the more Xu Ziling talked, the more his soul was broken, his heart ached.
This moment Ren En came back to report, "Currently the situation is very tense; from time to time there are unfamiliar looking women appeared in the market, as well as the banks of River Luo. In one glance we can readily tell that they are Yin Gui Pai's female demons.”
"Has the access hatch on the city wall been opened?” Song Shidao asked.
Ren En revealed a pained look on his face, "That is not the problem,” he said, "The problem is how to go out of the city unnoticed [orig. gods did not know, ghosts did not detect]? Maybe we'd better wait for the morning; as soon as the river gate is opened, we'll take a fishing boat sailing out of the city. This way I guarantee will be absolutely safe.”
Shaking his head, Song Shidao said, "Saving people is like putting out fire; how could we waste time?”
Ren En said, "Song Ye, is it possible for you to wait a bit longer? Ba Ye has just informed us that he and Kou Ye are trying to pin down Yin Gui Pai's main force, so that we will have a chance to leave.”
Immediately Xu Ziling and Song Shidao's countenance changed.
※ ※ ※
Upright and unafraid, Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong walked along the sparse street.
It was the beginning of hai hour [9-11 pm], but the decorated lanterns everywhere were still lighted up, another sign of bustling metropolis.
Ba Fenghan asked, "When's your appointment with Song Jingang?”
Kou Zhong replied, "Fu Qian and Qu Ao's showdown will be held at zi hour [11pm - 1am] tonight; he said that by hai hour he was going to the top floor of the western courtyard of Man Qing Yuan's Ting Liu Pavilion; when the time comes, we can find them there! Looks like we are not going to make it!”
Ba Fenghan raised his arm and stretched out his muscles and bones; he said with a laugh, "Oftentimes the things of the world are not what we expect. Before the hai hour comes, you don't know what's going to happen.”
Kou Zhong spoke heavily, "I am not afraid at all; it's just that the present situation is different. Shi Feixuan is retreating to a quiet place to heal, Yin Gui Pai does not have any misgivings anymore. If this time they are willing to let us off, that means the sun will rise from beyond the western hills.”
Ba Fenghan knew he was speaking the truth; smiling, he said, "That is precisely the joy of life. If you knew that you could beat the opponent easily, where's the excitement? Only by going through various deaths and coming out alive, achieving victory under impossible situations, would it leave a rich aftertaste.”
Kou Zhong delightedly said, "That is the aspect Xiao Ling and I most appreciate and admire of you. Perhaps because we were so accustomed to run for our lives that every time we encountered difficult situation, the first thing that came to our mind was how to escape. After you came along, this mindset gradually changed.”
And then, changing the subject, he said, "Which one do you think is more beautiful, Wanwan or Shi Feixuan?”
Ba Fenghan sneered and said, "Unexpectedly you still have time to think things like that.”
After a short pause, he muttered irresolutely, "I have never met beautiful women more touching than they. But Shi Feixuan definitely has a bit more immortal aura in her, like an unattainable celestial goddess, plus in term of gracefulness Wanwan cannot compare to her.”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, "This is called great minds think alike [orig. ‘heroes usually of the same mind'].”
Ba Fenghan spoke indifferently, "But you must never have any feeling toward either one of them. Their mind can't possibly be on feeling of love or desire between men and women. Falling in love with them will end up in despair.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "Who do you think I, Kou Zhong, am? Men born in troubled times, affairs of the nation and people's welfare should prevail; other matters can't be considered anything.”
Ba Fenghan stared at him ferociously. "Remember what you promised to Er Gongzi,” he reminded him, "It would be best if he is not coming to you to settle the account.”
Kou Zhong could not help thinking about Susu; he said dejectedly, "My natural character is that I would never be heartless toward women. Haisha Bang has a woman called ‘the Mermaid' You Qiuyan [first mention was Book 2 Chapter 7, her name was changed to You Qiuyan in Book 6 Chapter 10]. Time and again she was trying to harm me, but I let her go, so you can see how I treat the others.”
With meaningful and heartfelt words Ba Fenghan said, "Some people, no matter how you treat them, not only they won't be grateful, they would forget your kindness and relentlessly bully and humiliate you, so much so that they would make false charges against you.”
And then he frowned and said, "I seem to remember Dong Ming Princess mentioned this woman, You Qiuyan. After the ‘Dragon King' Han Gaitian was injured by you [Book 7 Chapter 1], he was unable to manage the Gang, so this woman took the responsibility of managing the Haisha Bang. If you go back to the south, you'd better be careful. When a woman hates a man, it is more difficult to deal with compared to dealing with a man.”
Kou Zhong recalled what Song Jingang told him; he wondered when Du Fuwei and Shen Faxing join hands to deal with Li Zitong, whether Haisha Bang would take part in this matter.
This moment the two men were turning into the Heavenly Street. A thousand or so more steps, they would reach the Tianjin Bridge spanning across the Luo River.
Suddenly there are a lot more pedestrians, vehicles and horses. Most of them were heroic looking Wulin characters; none of them did not steal a glance or two toward the duo.
Along the street, restaurants and pleasure houses stood in great numbers, music and song filled the air, vehicles and horses came and went, hanging lanterns shone their glorious light, painting the long street white.
Kou Zhong laughed and said, "Yin Gui Pai has always been unwilling to see the light. And now that we appear on the main street in the most prosperous marketplace area; I wonder what they are going to do?” [Again, the ‘they' here is feminine.]
Keeping his eyes looking forward, Ba Fenghan slyly said, "I still cannot forget the moving scene last night where Shi Feixuan appeared silently on the bridge; only an immortal descending into the mundane world can be compared to it. Will we have another fortuitous meeting tonight?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, "Throughout history, guarding a tree-stump, waiting for rabbits only happened once. Huh? My Niang!”
The two looked at the Tianjin Bridge simultaneously, where the peerless beauty Wanwan stood gracefully like a specter.
Even among the tide of people she looked so out-of-the-world; although she was physically standing there, it looked as if she has come from another dimension.
The passers-by were intimidated by her exotic beauty and overturning-the-kingdom kind of glamor; everybody kept stealing glances at her.
Her bare feet, which had no single speck of dust, were even more bewildering.
Her deep, serene gaze, were locked onto the two men, who were coming toward her.
Ba Fenghan stepped away from Kou Zhong a little; throwing his head back, he let out a long laughter and said, "People, get lost for me, Ba Fenghan. I want to fight Yin Gui Pai's female demon to the death.”
His majestic voice rang far and wide; it resonated loud and clear along both sides of the Bridge.
Turning to Kou Zhong, Ba Fenghan said, "Let me have a go first!”
The Beheading Mystery Sword left its sheath.
Ba Fenghan stepped onto the Bridge in large strides, pressing on toward Wanwan.
Passers-by scattered in all direction.
Momentarily murderous aura filled the whole sky. The battle could happen at any moment.
END OF BOOK 15