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Ysabel, spy, HPC, Sky, DongBin, you are welcome. Xiaohu, if I didn't have to translate, naturally I would enjoy the story too ... akolaw, are you saying that I am not the only one? Chua, Xu Xiong, perhaps he had a target of so many characters per part (Was it ever serialized like Jin Yong's work?).

Book 17 Chapter 7 - Long Dhyana Discussion on the Bridge

The two have not even stepped out of the Mansion's gate, Kou Zhong had briefly explained the reasons they must leave Luoyang immediately.

Xu Xingzhi pulled him into an empty side room and calmly said, "Kou Ye must not leave right now, otherwise you won't have any hope to strive for the world."

Smiling bitterly, Kou Zhong said, "How could I be the man who shrink back as the time for battle approaches? It's just that I am fully aware that if I do something that must not be done, I will only deliver our three little lives in vain."

Xu Xingzhi pondered for a moment; he spoke heavily, "Right now the situation is indeed very strange, on the surface it appears that we are holding the upper hand. But looking at the enemy's movement, they seem to be calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, as if they have a card up their sleeve. What do Dugu Feng and Yang Dong have that they still appear secure, as if they have a strong backing, in facing our superior military power?"

Kou Zhong was shaken. "You are right," he said, "If what they are thinking is assassination, success or failure is still unknown; could it be that Li Mi's main force has already arrived and are lying down in ambush, in preparation to launch coordinated attack into the city from inside and outside?"

Xu Xingzhi laughed and said, "If that's the case, Yang Dong and Dugu Feng are big idiots; while driving tiger at the front door, they allow the wolf to enter from the back door."

Kou Zhong thought hard, "So what kind of game are they playing?" he mused.

Xu Xingzhi's eyes were gleaming with intelligent light; he spoke in low voice, "This is called 'pushing self to reach others'. The reason we have fear in our heart is all because we cannot see through the enemy's unusual situation. On the other hand, the reason the enemy appears as if they have something to rely on, it ought to be because they are holding the pearl of wisdom concerning our real situation; they know us like the back of their hand, hence they are not afraid of us."

Kou Zhong's countenance changed, "Are you suggesting that there is a spy amongst us? Have you warned Wang Shichong?"

Xu Xingzhi shook his head and said, "This is purely speculation. Considering I am a new comer, and that there are many people who are jealous of me, how could I recklessly speak it out without strong evidence?"

Slightly out of his depth, Kou Zhong asked, "So what do we do now?"

Xu Xingzhi did not answer, but asked him instead, "Huang Gongcuo has arrived for many days; how come there is no sound of activity at all?"

Frowning, Kou Zhong replied, "He must be waiting for fortunate timing."

Xu Xingzhi shook his head and said, "Cannot seize the initiative, how could wise person like Shen Luoyan exist? This has confirmed my suspicions, which is the enemy is clearly aware of our plan to lure them into the trap tomorrow night, hence they are prepared to beat us at our game, and seize the opportunity to attack and kill Wang Shichong, and then we will be finished for real."

Kou Zhong sucked a deep breath and said, "I get it! Supposing by tomorrow night we still cannot identify the spy, we must cancel Wang Shichong's attending the party. And then we are going full strength to attack the Imperial Palace, and recover the previous standoff against Li Mi; only then will be leave the city. What will happen later, let Wang Shichong rely on his good luck."

And then he shook and said, "Oh, no! Wouldn't that mean the spy is aware about Zhai Jiao?"

"Kou Ye, don't worry," Xu Xingzhi calmly said, "Shen Luoyan will not beat the grass to scare the snake before the successful assassination of Wang Shichong. Therefore, as long as Kou Ye makes proper arrangement by tomorrow night, I guarantee nothing bad will happen."

Kou Zhong spoke with determination, "I am going to look for some help from the Qingshe Bang [green snake gang], and notify Zhai Jiao. You go back inside, or else people might be suspicious."

"Kou Ye, please be careful," Xu Xingzhi whispered.

Finished speaking he rushed back into the hall, while Kou Zhong urged his horse to gallop out of town.

※ ※ ※

Xu Xingzhi turned into the Heavenly Street. Looking for Kou Zhong in the midst the vast crowd, he had a slightly depressed feeling.

The matter between Susu and Xiang Yushan was a terrible mistake, they even had a child together; no how formidable he and Kou Zhong were, they did not have the strength to reverse the rotation of the sky.

He has never had good impression toward Yun Yuzhen, and now he detested her even more, and was feeling very low.

A fickle woman will always be fickle, she will never change.

Kou Zhong and he had never wronged her, but time and again, using the most despicable means, she plotted against them, and even implicated the innocent Susu.

At the bottom of it all, it all started from Li Jing having a change of heart.

Without realizing it, he had reached the top of the Tianjin Bridge.

Leaning against the railings, Xu Ziling peered down into the Luo River, in total disregard of the bustling atmosphere behind him, with vehicle, horses and pedestrians moving in steady stream.

He was debating whether he should go back to Baling immediately to check on Susu, but deep in his heart he was rather scared of going back. With contradicting thoughts in his mind, he really wanted to look up to the sky and cry his heart out, to wash away the depression and grief.

Why are there so many people in the world who bite the one that feeds them? Whether it was Xiang Yushan or Yun Yuzhen, they have both received favor from them without any enmity.

This is called 'I don't offend people, but people offend me'. Actually, Kou Zhong's desire to take the initiative to strike first to contend over the world was not entirely unfounded. Presently it was clear that power was everything; there was practically no room for virtue and reason.

At this time, suddenly someone appeared next to him, and together they looked down into the Luo River. This person spoke in gentle voice, "Why does Xu Xiong worry about things that are hard to solve, so that your countenance is filled with grief and indignation?"

Just from the fragrant scent emanating from her immortal body, Xu Ziling knew that she was the simple and elegant as an immortal Shi Feixuan. This peerless beauty was still dressed in men's clothing; no words can be used to describe her scholarly elegance.

Without turning his head and look at her, Xu Ziling smiled ruefully and said, "I now understand why people leave their home [to become Buddhist monk/nun]. Because all living things suffer, once we are drawn into this world, it is impossible to unravel, the only way out is death. Only by cutting off the worldly affairs would we see that the four elements are vanity [idiom: this world is an illusion]. But currently Xiaodi's feet are deep in the mire; I wanted to stop, but I can't."

Shi Feixuan's jade countenance did not show the slightest bit of emotion; she spoke indifferently, "Would Xu Xiong be willing to listen to Feixuan's story?"

Xu Ziling remained silent.

Shi Feixuan smoothly said, "Cold mountain because of white cloud, silence by no means because of dust of the earth. There was a house on a grassy mountain, a lone lantern bright as the full moon. Stone bed overlooking green jade pond, deer and tiger live side by side. Envious of serene and happy residence, forever become a person outside of this world."

Her voice gentle and beautiful like the sound of nature, her intonation melodious like the sound of music, softly recited in this busy downtown, the poem carried an incomparable inspiration.

Poetry and literature constantly stirred up Xu Ziling's mental association, for instance cold mountain and white cloud, lone lantern and bright moon; just because they came from her fragrant lips, they seemed to carry new meanings, some kind of imagery that came out of this secular world and into a realm that transcended the secular world. It was such a breathtakingly beautiful perception.

Although the two people's gaze have not met, but because they were both focused on the endlessly flowing river underneath, there was a subtle connection between them.

Meanwhile the sun was sinking down, bathing the empty sky west of the city red with its twilight.

Xu Ziling muttered, "That does not sound like a story!"

A faint smile escaped from the corner of Shi Feixuan's lips; she spoke indifferently, "It was only the prelude of the story, meant to set Xu Xiong's state of mind to listen to the story. Otherwise, it would be like playing the lute to a cow, wasting my words."

Xu Ziling suddenly changed the subject, "Is there really such thing as afterlife retribution?"

Shi Feixuan replied, "Since Xu Xiong is not someone who cares about material things, why do you care about such matter like secular people?"

Xu Ziling was jolted and turned his gaze to her. "You seem to know me very well!" he spoke in amazement.

Shi Feixuan did not respond, neither did she meet his gaze; she kept her beautiful eyes on the flowing water down below.

The outline of her face viewed from the side was breathtakingly beautiful, ethereal like the essence of the heaven and the earth coming true, and everything came together in the perfect line of the profile of her face.

Although there were hundred knots of worry in Xu Ziling's intestines, he could not help feeling deeply attracted to her, as if in the midst of miserable world where the fire of war filled the whole sky, he was trying to find the Peach Blossom Spring, a hidden land of peace and prosperity to escape this mortal world.

Shi Feixuan did not seem to be bothered by his admiring stare less than two chi away; her jade countenance was as calm as still water. She spoke softly, "Someone was asking a monk, 'Heshang [Buddhist monk] cultivate the way, is it hard?' The monk replied, 'It's hard.' The man asked again, 'In what way?' The monk replied, 'Hunger came, eat, weary came, sleep.' Thereupon the asking man was surprised, 'Since that is the case, then it is the same as not hard?' he asked. The monk replied, 'Of course not the same. When it's time to eat, they are unwilling to eat, but think of a hundred thoughts, plot a thousand schemes. Therefore, it is not the same.'"

And then her limpid, bright and deep eyes looked up to meet his gaze. "Is this story interesting?" she asked softly.

Xu Ziling looked deep into her eyes. Sensing her untainted-by-even-a-speck-of-dust tranquil frame of mind, he nodded and said, "Miss' story contains a very deep meaning, but the primary condition is that one must extricate oneself completely from the miserable world of other people; only then will one attain this kind of no-desire, no-demand realm, and will be able to probe the question of human existence. This will be the extreme state of liberation and freedom, similar to Zhuang Zhou [same as Zhuangzi (369-286 BC), Daoist author] and Laozi's [Lao-tze (c. 500 BC), Chinese philosopher, the founder of Taoism] natural Daoist doctrine of inaction, the original pursuit of nothingness. But unless one can sever worldly affair like Miss, how can one reach the no-emotion state?"

A look of astonishment flashed across Shi Feixuan's pretty eyes, but she quickly reverted to her serenity, as she spoke gently, "Xu Xiong is indeed a man with great wisdom and knowledge, no wonder you are able to grasp the Secret to Long Life's key principle, and penetrate the Jade Annulus of He Clan's secret, which had been buried throughout all ages. Xu Xiong's question just now not only recognized the true knowledge of reality, it is also enough to reach 'the way'. Would Xu Xiong like to hear another story?"

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