An Long did not get angry, he laughed instead. Gasping for breath, he said, “Such a good joke. Shizun’s death was due to him practicing the Tian Xin Lian Huan [Lotus Ring in the Center of the Sky] and suffered fire deviation, so much so that the blood passage in his entire body burst and he died. Just because his bones did not survive, what does it have to do with me, An Long? And now that I sit on the ‘Lian Zhu’ [lit. lotus master/lord] position, you are harboring hard feelings, sucking in blood and spewing people? Humph! I, An Long, in my capacity as the Tian Lian Zong’s Lianzhu, am going to clean up the school on behalf of the Heaven’s way.”
A gloomy, mournful voice came from the other end of the small bridge, “Now that is really a joke. Even if you mastered the Tian Xin Huan, this time don’t even think of leaving this place alive, much less raving about cleaning up your school.”
Xu Ziling did not have Shi Qingxuan’s skill of focusing voice into a thread and sending it into Kou Zhong’s ear, therefore, he had to resort to manually writing the character ‘Zuo’ on Kou Zhong’s back, so that the latter immediately knew that it was Zuo Youxian.
Surprisingly, An Long did not get angry, he acted surprised instead, and said, “If I am not mistaken, the two of you are passionate rivals, like fire and water; one time you even fought until the heaven falls and the earth rends; how come today you two seem to be venting your anger from the same nostril? What happened? Did the world really reverse its rotation?”
Fu Gongyou coldly said, “Other than fabricating crafty plots and machinations, offending Heaven and reason, you only know how to fart. Get lost! Killing you like this, it will be too convenient for you. I want to see you slowly wither and rot.”
Just by listening to the hatred in his voice, it was clear that even the entire water of the Great River would not be enough to wash away the enmity between he and An Long.
An Long let out a burst of ear-splitting long laughter, which sounded a little like a pig being slaughtered; extremely uncomfortable to hear, as if his laughter was creating waves and rising a storm that went straight into the listeners’ bones and marrows.
When the laughter stopped, An Long spoke indifferently, “Do you think by sticking yourself to Du Fuwei you would be able to call the wind and summon the rain? Jiang Huai Army’s good situation is just an illusion; it has reached the-sunset, the-end-of-the-road moment. If you don’t believe me, let’s just wait and see.”
With disdain in his voice, Zuo Youxian said, “Do you think we don’t know that you are secretly wooing Xiao Xian, Zhu Can and Cao Yinglong to deal with us?”
It was clear that An Long was stunned; momentarily he was dumbstruck.
Fu Gongyou let out a long laugh and said, “You have enjoyed good days for more than ten years, now you ought to have different taste. If you are not leaving, then you don’t need to leave.”
An Long resolutely spoke the word ‘Good!’ three times, and then his sleeves fluttered, he quickly went far away.
Immediately Rong Fengxiang’s voice rang out, “Such a good opportunity, why let him go?”
It was only then did the two boys realize that Rong Fengxiang has been snooping on the side all long; they groaned inwardly. By this time, dawn was not too far away; if their presence was detected, and the three major martial art masters of the demonic school intercepted and besieged them, escaping would not be easy at all.
Fu Gongyou spoke heavily, “He has mastered the Tian Xin Lian Huan. If we forced him to break our siege with hard fighting, it will bring us more harm than good. After Bai Ye General Assembly, even if he wanted to slip away, it will be very difficult.”
Zuo Youxian nodded and said, “If we kill him at this critical moment, the overall situation will be adversely affected.”
Rong Jiaojiao’s voice was heard, “Jiaojiao has a brazen thought: this time An Long came here to attend the meeting, he must have adequate preparation, so practically he is not afraid of us.”
Fu Gongyou said, “What you said is very reasonable; let’s go inside and talk about it.”
Inwardly Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling thanked the Heaven and thanked the Earth; after making sure that the four have left, they hurriedly left.
The sky has just turned pale; the two boys swaggered along the street. They looked to the east and gazed to the west; seeing the shocking, eye-catching large red letters written on the walls, a very strange feeling crept up in their hearts.
Clamoring noise started to come from a distance; turned out one of the restaurants has started to cater to the busy morning market. Kou Zhong laughed and said, “How about drinking a bowl of soy milk and stuffing our tummy with a couple of steam buns first?”
Xu Ziling nodded his agreement.
The restaurant actually has not started serving food yet, the two boys sat down in the corner, enjoying the hot soymilk.
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “I had never imagined that this his mother’s Bai Ye General Assembly actually involves struggle, gratitude and grudges of various demonic schools.”
Xu Ziling was frowning. There was something that he did not understand, “There are so many people doing business, the competition among themselves is intense, you profit much means I profit less, those in the same line of business are like enemy countries, I don’t understand why Rong Fengxiang wants to fight over the Bai Ye She Elder position. After obtaining it, what can he do? Would the business organizations, all the way down to traveling merchants and peddlers listen to his order like they were his subordinates?”
Kou Zhong raised his large bowl, drank a mouthful, shook his head and said, “That’s impossible. In my opinion, there are two most important things: setting the price and controlling the supply of goods. As long as an elder gains the majority support, he can then setup the so-called business policy. For example, anybody who wants to buy wood from Longyou Bang, there will be different price for Bai Ye She members and outsiders, so much so that they would be allowed only to sell to Bai Ye She members. And then that Bai Ye She becomes a big conglomeration that enjoys market dominance of all trades ad businesses. Of course right now it is impossible, but in time, and add to it martial art force, what kind of situation it will become in the future, it is still very difficult to say.”
After a short pause, he continued, “But in the short term, the Elder position of Bai Ye She becomes the target that big forces want to rope in; the position rises rapidly, there will be endless benefit to be gained. It’s just that we are not businessmen at all, hence we do not understand it!”
Xu Ziling still did not understand, but just as he was about to speak, his heart was moved, he turned his gaze toward the entrance; unexpectedly it was Wanwan coming trippingly. Sitting in the chair opposite the two boys, she smiled and said, “You guys forgot to wear that knickknack on your face!”
While rearranging the bowl and chopsticks, Koi Zhong laughed and said, “When did Miss Wan arrive in Hefei? Why didn’t you look for us earlier, so that we could have a good and leisurely talk about what happened after we parted, and comfort the pain of the yearning heart?”
There was a hint of mocking smile on Wanwan’s tender and beautiful, flowery jade countenance, as she spoke indifferently, “Why would I want to look for you for no reason at all?”
Kou Zhong swept a fierce glance over at several restaurant attendants, who stopped what they were doing, intimidated by Wanwan’s radiant countenance, and were only staring at Wanwan. Immediately they came to their senses as if a bucket of cold water was poured down on their head; embarrassed, they continued their work.
Frowning, Xu Ziling asked, “Why are you looking for us now?”
Wanwan cast a sidelong glance at him and said, “Naturally it’s to deliver punishment to you. It is said that honest people do not do secretive things; you wanted to start a rumor or not, I don’t have time to mind you. But why did you drag our Yin Gui Pai along?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “This is called the implication of famous reputation, when gossip cease, it won’t be mentioned anymore. Since Miss Wan has graced us with your presence, I wonder if you’d allow me to ask a couple of questions.”
Even with Wanwan’s level of cultivation, dealing with him, she did not know whether she should laugh or cry. Slightly angry, she said, “If what I am saying is gossip, then what you are saying is complete rubbish. If you don’t give me a good confession, don’t even think that I would answer you even for half a word.”
Knowing how to read appearance, distinguish countenance, the two boys knew that Wanwan was not really angry; so pushing the matter further, they knew that Wanwan was not on Rong Fengxiang’s side.
It was rather strange, because so far, Yin Gui Pai and Jiang Huai Army had a cooperative relationship. The only explanation was that Du Fuwei and Fu Gongyou, this pair of sworn brothers, were not as united as the outsiders thought.
By this time, the number of pedestrians outside was growing; from time to time there were people spreading the news. Apparently the rumor walls have produced expected result: creating uproar in the city.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Shangguan Long was your Yin Gui Pai’s man; everybody in the world knows that. What is it to your honorable Sect if you have one person more or one person less? Sometimes you do me a favor, another time I do you a favor; this is a very common thing. At most I owe you an apology, Miss Wan, please calm down.”
“Pfft!” Wanwan broke into a giggle and said, “That’s not too bad!”
The two boys looked at each other; they both could see the helplessness in the opposite party’s heart.
Toward Wanwan, they really had deep enmity and big hatred. In order to control the current situation, they had no choice but to feign civility; otherwise, they might wreck the big plan of rescuing the Flying Horse Ranch, then they would save a little only to lose a lot.
Kou Zhong leaned back into his chair, to leisurely enjoy the scene on the street. He said, “Your Demonic Schools’ Eight Major Martial Art Masters, besides You Niaojuan, Pi Chen yaodao, Zuo Youxian, An Long and your honorable Master, who are the other three?”
Wanwan’s expression slightly moved, she said, “You are well-informed. What makes you think that I would tell you?”
Spreading his hands, Kou Zhong said, “This can’t be considered any extraordinary secret, someone bound to find out sooner or later, why not sell us a favor?”
Wanwan’s eyes turned to Xu Ziling’s face, and then she sighed faintly, dropped her gaze down, and said, “You two are always able to soften my heart. Very well! I might as well tell you in details. Have you heard about … Oh!”
Suddenly she left her seat and disappeared from the rear door.
The two boys turned their heads toward where Wanwan was looking just now, and saw Ze Yue sticking his head inside and making a ruckus, “Finally I found two gentlemen! Right now everybody is frightened, they are all scrambling away out of the city. Bai Ye General Assembly is finished!”