Regaining their composure, Xu Ziling and Ba Fenghan turned to look. Turned out it was the scholarly and distinguished ‘Passionate Prince' Hou Xibai.
This handsome master shook his Beautiful Women Fan [I have a hard time finding a good English term that will sound elegant, but concise and convey the original Chinese meaning. Any ideas?], with an immensely pleased-with-himself expression on his face. It was plain as day that he leaped onto the roof and vaulted over the wall rather than going through the proper way, yet he acted as if he was an honored guest who entered the room via the main door.
"Eh? Where did Kou Xiong go?”
Frowning, Ba Fenghan said, "Hou Xiong came here this time, I wonder for what purpose?”
Hou Xibai calmly sat down, looked at the two men, and smiled. "These two nights Xiaodi unceasingly tracked the Yin Gui Pai female demon, and have had some good results,” he said, "I wonder if two gentlemen are interested to know?”
Xu Ziling replied indifferently, "Hou Xiong, please speak up.”
Hou Xibai said, "Frankly speaking, I obtained a bit of success by accident. After Feixuan retreated to Jing Chanyuan [sic], I've been lingering outside the Dhyana Hall, and accidentally saw a Yin Gui Pai female demon came to poke her nose around; thereupon I trailed her secretly. Can you guess where she finally went?”
Ba Fenghan crossly said, "And how do you think we should guess?”
Hou Xibai laughed calmly and said, "It is difficult to guess. She went to Rong Fengxiang's mansion house. She came into the inner courtyard and has not come out since then.”
Xu Ziling said, "How could Hou Xiong be so sure that she is a Yin Gui Pai female demon?”
Hou Xibai replied, "If she was not Yin Gui Pai people, why would she check Feixuan's condition? Moreover, her qinggong is extremely sophisticated; I was nearly unable to keep up with her.”
"What did she look like?” Ba Fenghan asked.
Hou Xibai replied, "Her hood was covering her face, but looking at her figure, I know that not only she is young, she is also a first-class beauty.”
Ba Fenghan mused, "This man Rong Fengxiang is indeed not simple. He is closely related to Yang Xuyan, and her daughter Rong Jiaojiao is one of the Luoyang beauties, and now he is sitting on Luoyang Bang's Da Longtou [big boss] throne. He is in the limelight, and for the time being has no equal.”
Hou Xibai sighed and said, "If I met her, I would be able to recognize her in just one glance. Too bad even after waiting outside the Rong Mansion all day, I did not come across her at all.”
Xu Ziling said, "That's easy. The day after tomorrow is Rong Fengxiang's big birthday celebration. At that time, you could come to the Rong Mansion with the pretext of offering a birthday congratulations [to an elderly person], and try to recognize her. Question is: after you recognize her, and then what?”
Hou Xibai said, "Then we can try to abduct her to extort confession from her mouth. With her skill, her position within Yin Gui Pai can't be low. As long as we know where Wanwan is hiding, we can inflict her some heavy damage, and get rid of this great evil on behalf of Feixuan.”
Ba Fenghan laughed and said, "Even if you really have the heart to ruthlessly destroy a flower, it would work only if Wanwan did not have any intention to run away and risking her life to fight with all her might. Or else, even though the four of us join hands to surround her, we still do not have any confidence to hold her down. Moreover, Yin Gui Pai people are secretive; somebody like Wanwan, who is obviously a leader within the Sect, how could she let her subordinate to know where she is?”
Xu Ziling said, "Actually, there is one readily available female demon, and capturing her is very easy. She is Xiangyang Chengzhu [city master] Qian Duguan's beloved concubine Bai Qing'er. But we must not touch her, so as to avoid beating the grass to scare the snake, and thus breaking out the trail.”
Smiling wryly, Hou Xibai said, "Looks like you are not too enthusiastic toward Yin Gui Pai!”
Ba Fenghan laughed and said, "Yin Gui Pai's foundation is very deep, their strength is hard to fathom. Under present circumstances, we can only counter every move. Hou Xiong investigated Yin Gui Pai all over the place like this, you yourself must be a bit more careful.”
‘Zip!' Hou Xibai folded up his Beautiful Women Fan, and laughed proudly, "I really wish they [feminine] would come to me,” he said.
And then he added, "I have another information that seemingly has nothing to do with this matter; would two gentlemen be interested in knowing?”
Ba Fenghan said, "Hou Xiong, please speak up.”
Hou Xibai hesitated for half a day before finally saying, "I saw Luoyan secretly meeting Wang Bo.”
Both men were stunned.
Hou Xibai sighed and said, "Actually, no matter who Luoyan is seeing, I did not plan on saying anything. But Wang Bo had announced publicly that he did not want to be drawn into the struggle among the warlords vying for supremacy, yet he had a private meeting with Luoyan for the entire sichen [i.e. 2 hours]. The outside appearance differs from the inner reality, making me really suspicious.”
Ba Fenghan nodded and said, "This information is very useful. How did you find out about it?”
Hou Xibai said, "When I was waiting outside the Rong Mansion, I saw a carriage leaving. Although I could not see who's inside, but from the scent I picked, I knew it was Luoyan.”
Ba Fenghan sighed and said, "Your skill in recognizing the scent of a woman is indeed number one under the heavens.”
Hou Xibai was unwilling to pass on his responsibilities to others; he said, "I am afraid it has to be included in the list of ‘amazing skill and consummate art'. Anyway, at that time my heart was uneasy; Luoyan saw me, yet why didn't she greet me? Thereupon I tailed her along, and found out about this matter. Wang Bo appeared to be trying to win over Jing Nian Chanyuan, but in my opinion he is harboring unfathomable motives; perhaps it will bring harm to Feixuan?”
It was only then did the two realize why he was willing to betray her close female friend Shen Luoyan's secret.
Hou Xibai suddenly stood up and said, "I still need to say hello to someone else. Excuse me!”
The two looked at each other in bewilderment.
This handsome man came in a peculiar way, and he left in even more peculiar way.
※ ※ ※
As Kou Zhong was stepping down the stairs, someone called from behind in low voice, "Xiao Zhong!”
Kou Zhong swiftly turned around and looked up, his eyes flickered with cold light, he spoke heavily, "You still have the face to see me!”