As for the accusation that I am a thief and that I infringe the original author's copyright, I want to clarify for all of your, my readers' benefit. This issue has been discussed at length here, where our moderator, Ren Wo Xing, as well as several senior members of our community participated. Unfortunately I do not remember in which thread or even when. (I know it was not during this project, so it was more than at least three years ago.) Spcnet administrators are well aware of this issue, i.e. I am not doing anything behind their back. However, if any of you have any concern, please feel free to raise it to the 'power that be'. If you think that what we are doing here is illegal and do not wish to be implicated, then please leave this forum immediately.
As for accuracy, I have stated time and again that although I am trying my best, at the end of the day, I am not a professional translator; I don't even speak Chinese ... (my parents do) I never reject any suggestion, as all of you can attest. However, I am asking that the suggestion be of substance rather than style.
Hopefully this will clarify things. Henceforth, I am not going to respond to any provocation, and will continue sharing my passion with whoever wishes to enjoy it.
New Book ...
Book 23 Chapter 1 - Startling-the-Heaven Secret
Xu Ziling silently stared at Cao Yinglong. It was quite half a day later that he said, "Cao Yinglong, you have always been vicious and merciless; dauntless and unafraid of death you intimidated Hubei, why do you suddenly become this greedy for life, afraid of death? Clearly there is deceit here. I won't be fooled."
Cao Yinglong revealed a hint of pained expression of someone whose ambitious and ruthless character had been cut short. "It's not surprising that Xu Xiong has that notion. Even if someone had told me earlier that I, Cao Yinglong, would seek survival by negotiating with someone else, I would be the first one not to believe. Ay! Xu Xiong, is it possible for you to temporarily dismiss your men so that we could talk a little bit?"
Xu Ziling hesitated for a moment, but in the end he ordered his men to disperse some distance away, but still maintained the siege to guard against Cao Yinglong escaping. Then he jumped down his horse and walked over toward Cao Yinglong.
With his efficacious acute perception, Xu Ziling did not sense the opponent raising his qi and circulating his energy to restore his dramatic loss in true power.
This once-going-on-the-rampage bandit chief suddenly looked like he aged more than ten years in just a short period of time, exposing his mentally-and-physically-exhausted, weary state. With a wry smile, he said, "Just now when I saw Xu Xiong pierced Jianding's back with a long stick, I had a feeling that Xu Xiong is the kind of person that will never be able to knock down the enemy's dispirited heart. In that instant, myriads of thoughts flitted in my mind, just like I was suddenly awakened from a nightmare, feeling that my hands are reeking of blood, my sins grievous. Afterwards I feel like every hope is turning into dust, being alive is not as good as dead."
Letting out a cold sneer, Xu Ziling said, "If being alive is really not as good as dead, you would not have negotiated your survival with Ol' Xu!"
Cao Yinglong nodded and said, "I am not surprised that I am provoking Xu Xiong's ridicule. The truth is that under that kind of circumstance, in my heart suddenly welled up an urge and longing, which I have tried to suppress for more than twenty years; I wish I could accomplish this desire, hence I am asking Xu Xiong to put me on a horse. If Xu Xiong is afraid of being cheated, I can disperse 90% of my own power first, retaining only a little bit for protection and self-defense. This way Xu Xiong won't have fears of trouble in the rear, and will be able to save Shi Qingxuan in time. If Xu Xiong still think that this is not feasible, please immediately take my life, I absolutely will not fight back."
It was as if Cao Yinglong had become another person altogether; there was some kind of sincerity in his voice that evolved from the depth of his heart. This, plus the substance of his speech, made others unable to doubt his sincerity.
Yet the contradiction in Xu Ziling's heart was exasperating.
Speaking about conduct, even if Cao Yinglong died ten thousand times, it would still be not enough to redeem his sins. Plus Xu Ziling had made up his mind early on; he swore that he would get rid of this big bandit chief. But for Shi Qingxuan's sake, should he make the deal?
Cao Yinglong calmly said, "If after listening to me Xu Xiong thinks it's not worth it, or perhaps you sense that my words are not completely honest, you may make your move at any time to take my life. I will neither resist nor resent it."
Astonished, Xu Ziling asked, "Cao Dangjia is really not afraid that whether I think you tell the truth or a lie I still take your life?"
Smiling bitterly, Cao Yinglong said, "If that's the case, I can only blame myself for at the death's door, I misjudge you, hence I will die with no complain."
Shi Qingxuan's image floated in the lake of Xu Ziling's heart. Whether it was a fantasy or a reality, he could not tell, as if he would never be able to pry into the complete picture of her jade countenance. An unspeakable feeling welling up in his heart, he nodded and said, "Very well! Ol' Xu will listen with respectful attention."
Cao Yinglong muttered to himself irresolutely for a moment. It was quite some time later that he spoke in lowered voice, "If I don't tell the rise and fall of the terrain [idiom: the whole sequence of events] in details, it would be difficult to enter Xu Xiong's confidence. Fortunately it is still a couple of sichen before dawn, we have enough time. Have Xu Xiong ever heard about Two Sects and Six Ways?"
Xu Ziling understood his meaning; if Cao Yinglong really destroyed 90% of his martial art skill, then he must flee far away from the danger zone before daybreak, and then concealing his identity to avoid all his enemies who had hatred and desire for revenge and might pursue and search for him.
To say the least, Flying Horse Ranch people definitely would not let him go, and it would be difficult for Xu Ziling to stop them.
Xu Ziling replied, "I have only heard about the Eight Major Martial Art Masters of the Demonic Ways, but I have never heard about Two Sects and Six Ways. Yin Gui Pai ought to be one of the two sects, am I right?"
Cao Yinglong nodded and said, "Yin Gui Pai is indeed being regarded as the chief among the demonic schools, simply because they possess the demonic schools' treasured book 'Tian Mo Mi' [demonic/devil's secret], which, together with 'Ci Hang Jian Dian' [Sword Canon of Ci Hang (Jingzhai)], are the two supreme classics of the demonic and upright, two ways. The former grew into the Two Sects and Six Ways, the latter are Ci Hang Jingzhai and Jing Nian Chanyuan."
Stunned, Xu Ziling asked, "Is Cao Dangjia a demonic school's man?"
Smiling ruefully, Cao Yinglong replied, "If I was not a demonic school's man, how could I have any relationship with Yang Xuyan?"
Seeing a peculiar look flashed through Xu Ziling's face, he hastily said, "Although my body belongs to the demonic school, in my heart I hate my school to the bones. Simply because after I grew up, purely by accident I discovered that when my revered master received me as his disciple in the past, unexpectedly he mercilessly murdered my father and mother, brothers and sisters, in the name of 'severing karma with the secular world', so that my heart was brimming with hatred, yet I was clearly helpless to rebel, so I could only vent my hatred and desire for revenge someplace else. Only today I am awakened; the past is like a nightmare."
For the first time Xu Ziling felt a little bit of sympathy on him; he asked, "Who is your honorable master?"
Cao Yinglong's eyes spouted flames of hatred; he spoke heavily, "He is the 'Xie Wang' [demonic king] Shi Zhixuan, whom even Ci Hang Jingzhai is somewhat wary of!"
"Shi Zhixuan!" Xu Ziling blurted, "Isn't he Shi Qingxuan's biological father?"
Cao Yinglong looked up to the sky; for the sake of time, he changed the subject by saying, "In the past hundred years, the whole country is in rebellion, the demonic schools have emerged to meet a historic destiny by producing several outstanding characters. The most prominent would be Yin Hou [empress yin] Zhu Yuyan, Xie Di [demonic emperor] Xiang Yutian, and Xie Wang Shi Zhixuan. In term of reputation, Zhu Yuyan is the most famous, but in term of strength, the other two are definitely not inferior to her."
Xu Ziling blew out a mouthful of cold air; he said, "At the death's door, Xiang Yutian recovered his innate sense of right and wrong. Since Shi Zhixuan already had union with Bi Xiuxin, logically he should have mended his ways."
Cao Yinglong revealed dread, mixed with despicable, condescending expression on his face. 'Pei!' he spat, and said, "Shi Zhixuan's innate character is evil. The fall of the Sui dynasty, and the world turned from being unified back to numerous and disorderly, he is the person who bore the greatest responsibility."
Stunned, Xu Ziling said, "Unexpectedly there is such thing. What ability did Shi Zhixuan have that he managed to topple the Great Sui?"
Gnashing his teeth, Cao Yinglong said, "Shi Zhixuan's other identity was Yang Guang's most doted on and trusted minister Pei Ju, who was in charge of domestic and foreign commercial trade. Yang Guang sent out military expedition to Gaoli was precisely due to his instigation."
Xu Ziling's heart was severely shaken.
That day at Man Qing Yuan Xing Mofei mentioned this name to them [see Book 16 Chapter 5], saying that he wrote the 'Maps and Notes on the Western Regions' in three volumes, and an account on the profile of the forty-four states of the Western Region, which, at the end of the preface he wrote, from 'Hun' and so on will faint and be exterminated, which led to Yang Guang sending a large military expedition abroad. Fu Qian's visit to the east this time was precisely to find him to settle the account. This man was an expert in espionage and conspiracy. In the Western Region he stirred the wind and stirred the rain, implicating the Tujue that they split up and attack each other, filling the plains with the dead and injured. It was also because Yang Guang sent out three military expeditions to Gaoli that led the rebellions springing up everywhere, which ended up in the demise of the empire.
Cao Yinglong hatefully said, "Yang Guang's heartless and brutal regime, although it was related to his natural character, but were it not for Shi Zhixuan pushing the wave and adding to the billows, Yang Jian's [first Sui emperor] strong and solid familial property would not have failed that quickly."
Xu Ziling's scalp went numb; he said, "By doing this, what good would that bring him?"
Cao Yinglong sighed and said, "The problem is that whether it was Emperor Wen or Emperor Yang, they all vigorously advocated Buddhism. Establishing Buddhist temples across the whole nation, transcribing Buddhist scriptures, proclaiming the Buddhist doctrine, and so on, are like preaching the entire nation's power, which to the demonic school's belief system, acted in a way that defeats its purpose. How could Shi Zhixuan tolerate them messing up with their demonic ways? In the final analysis, the battle between Ci Hang Jingzhai and the demonic schools is the battle over tradition."
Listening to that, Xu Ziling was dumbstruck. Puzzled, he asked, "If they are really targeting Ci hang Jingzhai and Jing Nian Chanyuan, why not the sects of demonic school put their strength together, and wipe them out in one move? Why would they draw all the people into deep water and scorching fire? If they attracted foreign tribes to invade, wouldn't it be the gains do not make up for the losses?"
Sneering, Cao Yinglong replied, "Demonic schools emphasize 'without regard for others' feelings, without regard for characters'. Those practicing the highest technique could even be 'without regard for sons, without regard for grandsons'. Just like the Buddhists, they also look at life as a fleeting moment, illusory without ultimate meaning. It's just that they are adopting bewildering method, not for the salvation of the people; rather, they see morality and etiquette as simply trifling matter, something that they can use to achieve their purpose, by hook or by crook, unfettered by any constraint."
Xu Ziling sighed and said, "Cao Xiong's former conduct and deeds indeed deeply represented the demonic schools' objective."
Cao Yinglong dejectedly said, "Because I was adept in the demonic schools' influence, I only felt as if everything was as it should be by rights. Since Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty banned many schools of thought, and revered Confucianism as sole orthodoxy, the battle over tradition began, and the world started to have distinction between the righteous and the heretic. By the time demonic teaching 'Han Yi Hu Shu' [lit. Han (ethnic group) interpretation of Hu (barbarians/non-Han people) books] came from the east, things got more complicated so fast. For you, the strife for the world is a political battle; for us, this is a battle over tradition. While the other flourishes and grows, we sink and cannot rise. Even though right now my feeling is not the same as yesterday, toward those so-called Buddhism from the outside, I still feel deep pain and loathing. Humph! Buddhism is nothing more than evolution of demonic book, a fallacy of the demonic law, a cheat on the teaching of the ignorance. All those past sins, future karma, doctrine of Dana [Buddhist practice of giving], while hoping for ten thousand times the reward, holding a day of fasting, while hoping for a hundred days of grains, and thus the confused and the fools will have presumptuous demands of achievements and virtue. If they really want to achieve emptiness in ten thousand ways, why are they using greed and deceit even until now?"
It was the first time that Xu Ziling heard someone repelled Buddhism. Apparently this argument was hanging on the demonic school people's mouth quite often, hence Cao Yinglong was able to spit it out like surging tide, or like the flowing water of the Yangtze River.
Cao Yinglong continued, "As for the desire to wipe out Ci Hang Jingzhai, it is easier said than done. Yin Gui Pai has always been butting head with Jingzhai, but all along has always been in the disadvantageous position. Moreover, Jingzhai has already surpassed ordinary religion, and has become the supreme holy land of the two houses, Buddhist and Taoist. Whoever attacks them openly might provoke intervention from martial art masters like the Taoist School's Ning Daoqi, or perhaps the Buddhist School's Four Sects' [here the word is 'zong' - school/sect/ancestor/clan] holy monks, who, so far, have always disregarded the affairs of the human world."
Listening to this, Xu Ziling's hair stood up on its end. Emotionally moved, he asked, "Who are the Four Sects of the Buddhist School?"
Although he was dying to ask directly about Shi Qingxuan, he could not help being attracted to Cao Yinglong's explosive narrative of the demonic school's internal affairs. It was only then did he understand why Cao Yinglong was so confident that he would consider this intelligence to be valuable to some extent, so much so that it would be enough to trade for his life.