Shi Qingxuan slapped her pretty forehead, and exclaimed softly, "Right! The details are not important, but as far as I understand, afterwards Old Yue built his house outside the secluded forest of the small valley where we lived. From time to time I visited him there, listening to him telling the stories of Jianghu, hence I was very clear about his affairs. In his spare time, he wrote his saber technique, which he called 'seventy two seasons' [orig. 'hou' - a period of five days] into a book. If I pass on this book to you, you could even pretend that you know his martial art!"
Xu Ziling's heart was moved; he asked, "Do you know that Yue Shan and Zhu Yuyan have a daughter together?"
Shi Qingxuan replied, "That was the biggest regret Old Yue had in all his life. At first he thought that Zhu Yuyan was viewing him in a new light, that his feeling was reciprocated; who would have thought that Zhu Yuyan … ay! I don't want to talk about it."
"Is this your habit?" Xu Ziling protested, "You always stir up other people's curiosity, but then you don't want to continue."
Shi Qingxuan smiled teasingly; she said, "Finally you are willing to speak honestly. What I hate the most about you is your repulsive attitude of don't-care-about-everything, nothing-is-urgent. I'll let you off this time!"
After a short pause, she continued, "Often time Demonic Cult people's conduct violates social relationships and heaven's law. For instance: bearing and raising children, which are proper human relationships and follow heavenly law, they would see it as impediment. The reason Zhu Yuyan chose Yue Shan to be husband and wife for one night was simply because she loathed Yue Shan. Therefore, although they had man-woman relationship, she did not have to worry about falling in love with him, and would have difficulty extricate herself from it. Tell me, don't you think that was a perversion of heaven's law?"
Listening to that, Xu Ziling was stupefied, and was unable to answer.
Shi Qingxuan was silent for a moment, and then she spoke softly, "You kill You Niaojuan and Zhou Laotan for me, and I'll invite you to my little valley, and will play a tune for you wholeheartedly, with my true appearance. Don't you think this condition is satisfactory?"
※ ※ ※
Indeed Qiu Rong, who came to accompany Kou Zhong drinking, did not look bad at all; she was glowing with youthfulness, not in the least looked like a broken flower, withered willow [fig. fallen woman].
Seeing Kou Zhong's back of a tiger and waist of a bear [fig. tough and sturdy build], her smart countenance immediately rippled with amorous feeling; she clung to him like honey, doing everything she could to curry his favor.
Although on the surface Kou Zhong appeared to be engrossed in her ministration, his ears were focused on the next-door room, where the 'Little Lu Bu' Jiao Hongjin and Qiu Yue were having conversation.
This moment Qiu Yue won the finger-guessing game, so Jiao Hongjin had to drink as a punishment. Kou Zhong was thinking that this might be the best time. But as he was about to pay Jiao Hongjin a visit, suddenly he heard rapid footsteps coming near, with awe-inspiring momentum.
More than a dozen footsteps walked pass his door, and stopped in front of the next-door room.
Someone kicked the door open, followed by Jiao Hongjin's surprised voice called out, "Da Dangjia [first chief]!"
Kou Zhong's heart was shaken, knowing that Du Ren was coming, only he did not know what made him so angry that he did not give Jiao Hongjin any face at all.
A deep and low, hoarse and heavy guttural male voice shouted, "Other people get lost!"
Jiao Hongjin remained silent. Qiu Yue's footsteps left the room. The sound of her footsteps alternating between heavy and light; obviously she was terrified that her footsteps were unsteady.
The door closed.
Du Ren slapped the table and shouted, "Tell me, who leaked out our plan to attack Pengcheng?"
Listening to that, Kou Zhong was dumbfounded; he thought how could there be such a coincidence? At the same time he praised Shen Renfu inwardly, for the high efficiency with which he spread the rumors.
Displeased, Jiao Hongjin replied, "I don't understand what Da Dangjia is talking about."
Du Ren cursed furiously and said, "If you don't understand, then who does? The attack to Pengcheng, you know it, I know it, Ku Ge knows it, but no one else. But now rumors are springing everywhere outside, even our coalition forces' strategy, which one will attack Pengcheng first, which one later, are plainly in the open. If your mouth did not speak it out, do you think it was either me or Ku Ge? Tell me!"
Jiao Hongjin spoke in heavy voice, "I, Jiao Hongjin, have been with Da Dangjia for many years, when did I ever speak half a word of lie? I said I did not, that means I did not. Da Dangjia don't believe me, there is nothing that I can do."
After an unbearable silence, Du Ren suddenly stood up, and after saying 'Good!' three times in succession, he left just like he came: like the wind.
Several times Kou Zhong was thinking of making his move, but in the end he decided not to do it, because if he assassinated Du Ren just like that, it would be difficult to admit Luoma Bang people peacefully later.
He stood up suddenly.
Qiu Rong, who had just recovered from the shock, jumped in fright. Pulling his sleeve, she said, "Honored guest, where are you going?"
Kou Zhong caressed her face [and some gibberish], and said, "Listen, I want you to wait nicely here, don't go stealing other man."
※ ※ ※
Xu Ziling nodded and said, "I can only promise you that I'll do my best. Just think! That night, in the bat cave labyrinth, under such favorable situation, they still managed to escape; clearly these two are so formidable. Later on, Miss must also be more careful."
Shi Qingxuan's eyes were rippling with unusual luster. After looking at him for quite a while, she smiled, exposing two rows of snow white teeth, and said, "You are not able to accomplish something today does not mean that you are not going to accomplish it tomorrow. As long as you are willing to promise, that is enough."
This moment the vegetarian dishes arrived.
Raising up her chopsticks, Shi Qingxuan picked up some vegetarian dishes and put it in Xu Ziling's bowl; she said, "Consider this meal as a farewell dinner for you, it's Xiaomei's [little sister] treat. Oh! I am very happy. Ever since Niang became an immortal [fig. die], Qingxuan has never had such a good laugh."
Xu Ziling had no choice but to force a smile to reciprocate.
As if she had just remembered something, Shi Qingxuan said, "I almost forget to tell you how to find me in the middle of Sichuan, otherwise you'll look for ten thousand years and still won't find me. Hee …! I don't know why, but I find myself love to tease you, to see your embarrassed and awkward expression."
Xu Ziling did not know what to say.
The two 'you pick a chopsticks, I pick a chopsticks', very soon the vegetarian dishes on the table were wiped clean.
Looking at the empty dishes and bowls, they both were amused.
After Si Qingxuan scrambled to pay the bill, they went out to the street, she said, "Do you have anything you left at the inn?"
Xu Zilng shook his head to say negative.
Shi Qingxuan said, "It's late, the city gate should be closed by now, our only way out is to climb over the wall. Do you really want to send me off a while?"
Xu Ziling laughed and said, "That is affirmative!"
Shi Qingxuan blissfully said, "In that case, follow me!"
Turning around, she headed toward the western part of the city.
Xu Ziling ran after her, and said, "You have said a lot of things in half; shouldn't you finish everything clearly before we part company?"
Shi Qingxuan shook her head and said, "Those are all troublesome matters, once I start, I won't be able to finish it. How about later on when you come to see me? You are the first guest I have ever invited."
Knitting his brows, Xu Ziling said, "I am afraid it will be a long time before I can spare some time to go!"
Unconcerned, Shi Qingxuan slightly shrugged her fragrant shoulders and said, "Naturally you'll come when you have time."
Xu Ziling was about to talk, suddenly he heard a horse neighing wildly, on the street, a carriage stopped abruptly.
The carriage roof broke open, a flash of shadow shot out of the carriage, and landed behind the two; his momentum was astonishing to the extreme point.
Xu Ziling and Shi Qingxuan exchanged a glance; neither one knew what was going on.
"Ba Dao [overbearing saber] Yue Shan, it is you!"
Hearing that, Xu Ziling's scalp went numb, while inwardly he cried 'injustice'.
Shi Qingxuan's voice came into his ear, "Don't be afraid, it's your old friend Zuo Youxian. I speak a sentence, you speak a sentence; understand?" Finished speaking, she quickly walked aside.
Xu Ziling slowly turned around; following Shi Qingxuan's instruction, he spoke indifferently, "Since we parted at Changbai, in the blink of an eye more than forty years have passed. Youxian Xiong is as svelte as before; it is indeed worthy of celebration."
※ ※ ※
Kou Zhong pushed the door open and entered.
Jiao Hongjin's fierce gaze looked at him like lightning flashes, but his voice was extraordinarily tranquil. "Who are you?" he spoke indifferently.
This man was worthy to be called Little Lu Bu; his appearance was heroic, grand, and handsome, big and tall, well proportioned. Every movement exuded his full self-confidence.
Kou Zhong smiled indifferently, and sat down across the table from him. He said, "Xiaodi Kou Zhong. Jiao Xiong, how are you?"
Jiao Hongjin's tiger-body shook severely; his hand quickly reached out to grab the hilt of the broadsword still in its scabbard on the table.
"Hold on!" Kou Zhong shouted in low voice.
Jiao Hongjin's hand held the hilt tightly, but he did not pull it out. "Are you here just to accompany me drinking and playing finger-guessing game?" he spoke in low voice.
Kou Zhong spread out his hands, indicating that he did not have any intention to attack. Sneering, he said, "If I wanted to kill, your Da Dangjia just now would not leave this place alive. Am I right?"
Jiao Hongjin calmed down. Carefully sizing up the opposite party, he nodded and and said, "Why didn't you make your move?"
Kou Zhong replied, "Because I wanted to give Jiao Xiong some face."
While Jiao Hongjin was stumped for words, footsteps suddenly rose up from afar, but quickly came near. At least there were several dozen men, coming from either side of the corridor outside the room.
Kou Zhong unhurriedly said, "Du Ren wants to kill you!"
END OF BOOK 20