Book 15 Chapter 2 - The Immortal By The Bank Of River Luo
Xu Ziling's tiger-body shook. "Qin Chuan?” he called out in low voice.
Actually, without he mentioning the other party's name, Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan also instinctively knew that the person ahead was Shi Feixuan, who was using the name Qin Chuan as an alias, gracing their presence with her fragrant self.
When they were stepping out of the wine shop door earlier, the three had naturally thought about whom they might encounter first.
The biggest possibility was of course Reverend Liao Kong, accompanied by the Four Great Protector Vajra and a bunch of Buddhist monks, big and small, who emptied their temple to come here looking to give them bad luck.
Next would be the whip-bearer old friend, Wang Bo.
And then schools and sects who had good relationship with Ci Hang Jing Zhai, or perhaps the dragon-bearded Prince Fu Qian who had just arrived in the Central Plains. [Translator's note: the word ‘dragon' here is 虬 (qiu), young dragon with horns.]
But they had never imagined that their first encounter would be with the most esteemed martial art master after Ning Daoqi, unmatched in her generation, Shi Feixuan.
She was so young.
Caressed by the night breeze of the Luo River, dressed in light greenish blue gown fluttering in the wind, in indescribably relaxed and graceful manner, leaning forward to gaze into the clear water down below, so calm and natural. An antique-looking, elegant sword was hanging on her back, increasing her heroic aura to some degree, while also reminding others that she possessed matchless swordsmanship in the world.
From the three men's angle of view, looking up at the highest point of the center of the Tianjin Bridge arch, they saw the half-moon in the night sky happened to appear right next to her face, bathing her in the gentle and soft moonlight, emphasizing her beautiful - as if it was born of, and received spiritual influence from, the heaven and the earth, silhouette against the outside world, just like distinct undulating contours of the river against the mountain.
Even though the three were accustomed to see rare beauties, they could not refrain the overwhelming feeling that took their breath away.
But her ‘beauty' was different from Wanwan's. It was some kind of ‘clear water out of cotton rose [hibiscus mutabilis], carved out of the Heaven' kind of natural. The innate, natural beauty that was incomparably pure and simple.
Like the beautiful goddess that has been resided in the River Luo forever suddenly made her appearance by the riverbank.
Even in the middle of this bustling metropolis, her ‘arrival' immediately turned everything else into a superior land of empty mountain and spirit rain, as if it was really a fantasy, an extremely moving place.
Although she appeared mortal, there seemed to be no way that she would place herself in the midst of dusty, vulgar earth, which did not match her identity.
Her beautiful, lucid and elegant eyes looked like the sun appearing from behind the red clouds, and yet able to always maintain some mysterious, immeasurable serenity.
It was only this moment that the three men realized that Hou Xibai's praise of her was not an exaggeration at all.
Shi Feixuan's extraordinary beauty, the kind of beauty that takes one's breath away, was not something that an ordinary brush of the mundane earth could capture and control.
The three were staring blankly at her. Not only they have completely lost their will to fight, they could not even squeak any noise.
The very moment that their heartstrings were being shaken, the bright and beautiful, the beauty standing proudly like lotus in the middle of clear water, spoke softly using her completely-free-from-impurity, sweet voice, "Feixuan really did not wish to meet three gentlemen under this circumstance.”
Due to her appearance, the entire heaven and earth seemed to be shrouded by layer upon layer of intensely sweet-smelling immortal fragrance, which surrounded them and rendered them unable to get away, neither did they want to get away.
Beneath the calm and cold outward appearance, her eyes revealed strong determination like fresh flowers blooming in a dark place, far above the passion of love and secular pursuits.
Compared to Wanwan, with her exotic appearance and devious gorgeousness, demonic tenderness and slinky beauty, who looked like the faintly discernible bright moon that was hiding behind light cloud, she looked like a burst of sunshine splitting the empty valley and secluded forest, sprinkling the mother earth with its light, brilliant, bright and graceful. Even with Kou Zhong's cynicism, Xu Ziling's indifference of life, and Ba Fenghan's callousness, in an instant they were awed by her beyond-the-world immortal beauty and elegant appearance, so that they nearly forgot that ‘He who comes is surely ill-intentioned, no-one well-meaning will come' [i.e. Be careful not to trust strangers].
The Heavenly Street was as quiet as a ghost domain; only the rustling noise of gentle waves lapping the dike of the river and the foot of the bridge was heard.
Under the slanting moonlight, the four buildings towering on either side of the River forming a square with the Bridge in the middle, cast their magnificent shadows on the street and the surface of the water, adding the intensity of the already dreadful atmosphere.
Ba Fenghan was the first to come to his senses; taking a deep breath, he said, "Miss Shi has graced us with your immortal good self, naturally it is for the Jade Annulus of He Clan. I was wondering: what are you going to do?”
Shi Feixuan basically did not even look at them; a thin, indifferent smile floated on the corner of her cinnabar red lips, her sandalwood-colored mouth opened slightly as she said, "After Feixuan left the Monastery [orig. ‘zhai' from Ci Hang Jing Zhai], I have never fought with anybody, but tonight, quite possibly because of three reasons, I will have no choice but to break this oath [orig. Buddhist monastic discipline]. Do you want to hear it?”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "To be able to make you, Miss Shi, violate your religious precept and make your move, it is our, three men's greatest honor. But Xiaodi [little brother] is untalented; even after thinking until my brains split I can only think about the Jade Annulus of He Clan, one reason for you to make your move. I wonder what the other two are.”
Shi Feixuan's voice turned cold, as she spoke icily, "One of the reasons is that the three of you have stirred up the alertness in Feixuan's heart.”
Even with the three men's intelligence and wisdom, they still failed to understand; their brains went blank.
Ever since Shi Feixuan made her appearance, Xu Ziling remained silent and did not say a single word.
Frowning, Ba Fenghan said, "Could Miss Shi speak more clearly?”
Shi Feixuan did not wear the least bit of cosmetics, but her brilliance was like the glow of the sun rising over the red clouds, as a helpless smile flitted across her jade countenance. Sighing lightly, she said, "How could Feixuan be one who loves to use weapons of war? Only because the opportunity to unify the world, to cross over the suffering of all the people, that in fear and trepidation, not daring to be negligent, I bear the mandate that my Master entrusted in me.”
Kou Zhong shivered inwardly, but on the surface he pretended to be surprised as he probed further, "What does it have to do with whether Miss is going to deal with us or not?”
Shi Feixuan lightly twisted her long, beautiful and elegant neck, turning to face the three men for the first time. Her beautiful eyes rippled, she looked extremely enchanting.
And then she even turned her tender body around to face them.
Obtaining the full view of her was like she threw a stone in the lake of their hearts; it created countless undulating ripples.
Under her long and naturally curved eyebrows, her bright and deep eyes appeared even more beautiful, in perfect harmony with the dimples embedded onto her jade cheeks, which seemed to carry perpetually smiling expression. Her shoulders were like they were carved with blade, her twisting waist so fine, delicate, yet full, so that others could not help having their soul snatched away. Under the illumination of the moon, her skin was sparkling and translucent like jade, so that her figure appeared even more lithe, her posture extremely exquisite, free from the vulgarity of the dust of the earth.
This moment, her beautiful eyes, which had turned the three men's spirit and soul upside down, were shooting sharp light that seemed to be able to penetrate the bottom of other people's heart. After sweeping the three men's faces with her gaze several times, her eyes stopped at Kou Zhong, and then with a tranquil, indifferent tone she said, "If Kou Xiong agrees to immediately hand over the Jade Annulus of He Clan, and possibly from now on withdraw from Jianghu, everything between us may be written off in one stroke, and hereafter we have nothing to do with each other.”
Kou Zhong did not expect she would suddenly become so direct and plainspoken like this, without any trace of politeness at all. Stunned, he said, "Did I hear it correctly? Did Miss say that if I agree to withdraw from Jianghu, the Jade Annulus of He Clan does not even need to be handed out?”
Ignoring him, Shi Feixuan's gaze turned toward Ba Fenghan. She sighed faintly and said, "Is the Central Plains not chaotic enough? Why don't Ba Xiong return to the outside?”
Ba Fenghan's eyes shot sharp, flashing light, as he returned her gaze unyieldingly. Without blinking the least bit, he spoke heavily, "Miss is wrong. Wherever Ol' Ba wants to go, I have never let anybody tell me whether I should turn left or right.”
A hint of pained smiled escaped from the corner of Shi Feixuan's lips, but her voice turned gentle, "This is precisely the reason you are stirring up the alertness in Feixuan's heart. All three of you are extremely daring, nobody's willing to submit easily. Since the moment you set foot in Luoyang, you immediately broke the balance of forces in the Eastern Capital. Just from this point alone, nobody dares to lightly neglect you.”
And then her gaze turned toward the standing silently Xu Ziling; she said indifferently, "May I ask why did Xu Xiong steal the Jade Annulus of He Clan?”
All three cried out, ‘Formidable!' in their heart.
Ever since her appearance on the Bridge, she had all initiatives in the palm of her hands. They could only be in the disadvantageous position of reacting to her every move. Her speech was deeper than the way of the sword; it was like a heavenly steed soaring across the skies, totally hard to pin down, impossible to defend effectively.
After silently staring at each other for half a day, Xu Ziling calmly laughed and said, "Listening to the tone of Miss Shi's voice, it seems to me that even though the Jade Annulus of He Clan is not in our hands, you would still refuse to let us off!”
Both Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan silently heaved a sigh of relief. They felt that Xu Ziling was launching his counterattack; moreover, it struck the only weak point in Shi Feixuan's words.
Ever since encountering Shi Feixuan, they felt as if they were half their original height and were overwhelmed with thief-lacking-in-confidence feeling. But if Shi Feixuan felt that even though the Jade Annulus of He Clan was not in their hands she still wanted to deal with them, it would put them in a completely different set of frame of mind.
Focusing her attention, Shi Feixuan sized Xu Ziling up and down for a while before sighing lightly and said, "Using the sword to rule the world is, of course, must not be allowed. But using the sword to obtain the world seems to be the only way since times immemorial. Feixuan has no choice but to ask for advice of Xu Xiong's consummate art. I want to see what's so mysterious about the amazing skill from the ‘Secret to Long Life'.”
The three did not expect she would take this abrupt turn and chose Xu Ziling to be their representative.
Throwing his head back, Ba Fenghan gave out a long laughter; his heroism reaching the clouds, he spoke boldly, "Who would want to experience Miss Shi's swordsmanship more than the Ol' Ba? Miss, please enlighten me first!”
A sharp and clear ring of the bell came from behind, resonated along the desolate, illuminated by the moonlight, street. The sound lingered in their ears for a very long time.
And then a gentle, thick and deep male voice invoking the names of Buddha spoke in tranquil tone, "Pinseng [impoverished monk] Liao Kong, wishing to represent Feixuan in fighting Ba Shizhu [benefactor].”
Hearing that, the three looked at each other. Reverend Liao Kong unexpectedly opened his golden mouth to speak.