Book 20 Chapter 10 - Demonic Emperor Shady Empress
Following close behind Shi Qingxuan, Xu Ziling's heart was full of questions.
Earlier he clearly heard she said that by sealing the exits, they would be buried with the dead, which clearly implied that the mechanism to control the gate must be located inside the cave. Once it was set in movement, even she herself would not have time to escape out, hence she would end up accompanying them in death.
But now Shi Qingxuan seemed to say that the switch was outside the gate, that closing the gate would be effortless and easy, which she would conveniently do as they were leaving.
The two statements were contradictory.
This moment Shi Qingxuan was crossing the entrance to the big cave where there was no bat in it; suddenly she looked back and signaled him with her eyes.
Xu Ziling was extremely smart; he understood immediately. It was all a ruse to lure the enemy.
He could not help feeling admiration. By playing down the situation, she wanted to lure the enemies intending to escape from the other exit to come back. Whether they would succeed, however, remained to be seen. Because in the din of the cave, although You Niaojuan had keen eyes and ears, he might not necessarily hear her.
The idea has not passed from his mind, he heard a swift gust of wind from behind.
Without even thinking, Xu Ziling twisted his body around and sent out a punch.
By the time he felt something was not right, he discovered that his punch has hit You Niaojuan's outer robe.
A flash of copper, You Niaojuan appeared on his left, the one-legged copper man swept toward him. It was extremely vicious, fierce, and overbearing.
Xu Ziling had nothing he could use, his only course of action was to sidestep, while crying 'Not good!' inwardly.
Shi Qingxuan floated like a breeze, her bamboo flute poked, struck, hacked and swept, her technique was exquisite, mysterious, obscure and amazing; she was able to hold You Niaojuan for a moment, so that Xu Ziling had the opportunity to strike back.
Knowing this was the critical moment, You Niaojuan unleashed the skill he had at the bottom of his chest; he threw the one-legged copper man toward Shi Qingxuan, while he took that opportunity to dash out of the cave.
When Shi Qingxuan dodged the steel man [Translator's note: perhaps it was a typo, but sometime it was 'copper', another time it was 'steel'], Xu Ziling already approached You Niaojuan's back, and sent out a long-distance palm strike.
You Niaojuan suddenly sped up. Without even looking he sent out a backhanded palm strike to meet Xu Ziling's palm, which was imbued with spiraling fierce energy.
You Niaojuan spurted another mouthful of blood. Injury on top of injury, yet he disappeared on the stone steps.
Only this moment did the one-legged copper man hit the wall, smashing the stone, creating a rain of crushed rocks. From this, it was clear the astonishing speed at which these fighting has been going on.
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Kou Zhong woke up; still lying in bed, he opened his eyes, but in his heart he missed Xu Ziling.
He was really not used to spend his days without that guy; he missed someone with whom he could talk vulgar language, or just pour out his heart's troubles.
What on earth was he doing? Did he hasten on with his journey without stopping to sleep?
Because of his ambition in vying over the world, would in the end Xu Ziling distance himself from Kou Zhong, and travel far outside the country to pursue the way of life that he loved?
It does not matter whether one was the emperor, general, prime minister, a hero or a towering figure, life would always flash past like a snap of the fingers. Several years will pass just like a dream, fast and easy. Life is just the consequences of countless choices and experience. Kou Zhong just hated that he and his best Xiongdi had chosen different path, so that one day they would have to go their separate way.
There was a knock on the door.
Kou Zhong sighed inwardly and sprang up from the bed.
Xuan Yong voice came from outside the door, "Sorry to disturb Shao Shuai, Qifei is back, and he has an urgent matter to report."
Kou Zhong immediately pushed everything out of his mind; he promptly shouted, "Come in quickly!"
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The morning sun rose to the top of a small hill on the eastern mountain.
Xu Ziling's palm left Shi Qingxuan's jade back. He rose up to his full height and walked out of the forest in which they were hiding, and came to a small creek at the edge of the forest.
The water of the creek was exceptionally clear, the sunlight came at an angle to the water surface, reflecting his appearance. It was only then did he realize that he was still wearing Yue Shan mask. Hastily he took it off and stuffed it inside his pocket, before squatting down the by creek to scoop the water and drank several mouthfuls, while washing the dust and dirt from his face. A cool, delightful feeling entered his heart, washing away the exhaustion of repeated hard battle of the previous night.
This moment he started to have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery all around him.
This small forest spanned between two small hills, on a plain some distance away east of the strange mountain with the hidden cave full of bats. Surrounded by the clouds, the waist of the mountain appeared to be wearing a belt of cloud, or like a beautiful woman covering up half of her face. The small hills on both sides were full of flowers and fruit trees.
While he was contemplating whether he should pick a couple of fruits to eat his fill or wait for Shi Qingxuan to finish circulating her breathing before making his move, another reflection appeared on the water next to his own.
Xu Ziling smiled at the reflection on the water and said, "Miss Shi recovered so fast, it is hard to believe."
Shi Qingxuan came to his side and carelessly kicked her shoes, revealing a pair of sparkling-and-translucent-like-jade delicate feet, and casually soaked the feet inside the ice-cold creek water, while putting her bamboo flute on the grass by her side. Gazing at the surface of the water, she spoke softly, "Last night, why did you say that I was beautiful? Can this be considered beautiful?"
Copying her, Xu Ziling gazed at his own reflection on the water; shrugging his shoulders, he spoke calmly, "I have never thought about what is considered beautiful, what is considered not beautiful, it's just that at that moment I saw Miss' face had a layer of divine radiance on it, a beauty that cannot be produced locally, thereupon I expressed what I felt, blurted out words that were offensive to you. Miss Shi, please don't take offense."
Shi Qingxuan was silent for half a day, before speaking gently, "Am I still that beautiful now?"
Nodding his head, Xu Ziling said, "The more I look, the more beautiful you are. This is a heartfelt word, not meant to fawn on you."
With slight anger in her voice, Shi Qingxuan said, "Don't lie; you just saw through that my nose is fixed, am I right?"
Xu Ziling smiled bitterly and said, "I found out about that later. Miss must no be overly sensitive, Zaixia do not have any improper thought toward Miss at all."
Shi Qingxuan smiled slightly and said, "I was thinking of letting you look at my appearance after I take off my fake nose, but since you say so, I am going to dispel this idea!"
Xu Ziling was still smiling bitterly, but he no longer spoke.
Yet Shi Qingxuan was unwilling to let him off; turning her head around, she stared at him and said, "Why are you smiling so ambiguously?"
Xu Ziling calmly replied, "Because I have just missed the opportunity to see with my own eyes the remarkably beautiful woman of the human world. Miss has incited great curiosity in my heart. Forget about other things, merely Miss' flute skill, which is unparalleled in the world, is enough for Xiaodi never to forget it for as long as I live, and made me feel that my life is not in vain."
Shi Qingxuan spoke with delight, "Your highest skill in coaxing a girl is what makes me never suspect your sincerity. What's more strange is that last night you encountered so many strange things, yet you did not open your mouth to ask Qingxuan even half a word of question. Ay! What kind of person are you?"
 Title chapter: shady, orig. 'Yin', as in Yin Gui Pai, Shady Empress (Yin Hou) being Zhu Yuyan's title.