Book 24 Chapter 11 - Dividing the Color of Spring Evenly
Under everybody's blank stare, An Long covered his chest with his left hand, while his right hand that was holding the Print Scroll was trembling slightly; his face was devoid of any blood, his eyes stared fixedly on the mother earth - resplendent under the bright moonlight - outside the hole, his face showed a hard-to-believe expression with a hint of deep fear in it.
Who could make this martial art master who ranked among the demonic way's hall of fame to lose his normal state in such a big way?
Shi Qingxuan, who was leaning against the wall, suddenly had her tender body shaking. Without a word she floated out of the hall via the hole on the wall, and disappeared without any trace.
With this sudden change, it was too late for Xu Ziling to stop her. After exchanging an eye signal, Xu Ziling and Hou Xibai made their move at the same time to pounce toward An Long. No matter who was forcing An Long back, they simply had to snatch the Print Scroll back from him before doing anything else.
Upon seeing this rapid and pressing change, Yang Xuyan's mind was bewildered and was at a loss of what to do; he shouted loudly, "An Shu [uncle], be careful!"
Hearing the shout, An Long looked like he had just woken up from a nightmare; he haphazardly tossed the Print Scroll upward and roared, "It's none of my business!" And then he fled in the opposite direction of the hole on the wall and smashed another big hole on the wall and ran away.
Hou Xibai and Yang Xuyan had no interest in paying him any attention; they both soared up to chase after the Print Scroll, which very soon would reach the roof of the hall.
Xu Ziling was afraid Wanwan might mount sneak attack, he did not move from where he was standing to keep watch over Wanwan's movement with full attention.
He noticed that the beauty did not move from where she was standing either, as if she already lost interest toward Hou and Yang, two men's fight over the scroll. Turning a blind eye and turning a deaf ear, she appeared to be deep in thought, while staring fixedly at the hole from which An Long was coming back.
Xu Ziling's heart was moved; he kind of had an idea who was outside the hole that An Long was forced to come back. In fact, it was not difficult to guess. Under the heavens, the person who could make An Long so panic and losing his mind, other than Ning Daoqi, Zhu Yuyan, Shi Zhixuan, and the likes, there were very few people. And among those people, the only one directly related to this matter was Shi Zhixuan; so most likely it was he.
Thinking about this 'Xie Wang' [demonic king] Shi Zhixuan, he could not help feeling the chill in the air.
A continuous ringing of the fan and the sword clashing against each other was heard from the roof of the hall, followed by Hou Xibai and Yang Xuyan separately landed on Xu Ziling's left and right sides, looking at each other with glaring eyes; unexpectedly each man had half of the Print Scroll in their hands.
Xu Ziling could not help but was dumbfounded.
Wanwan let out a faint sigh and spoke glibly, "This is perhaps the best solution. Nujia won't accompany you anymore!"
Suddenly flying backward, she floated out of the hall via the main entrance.
Yang Xuyan returned the sword into its scabbard; his eyes shone with flashes of lightning. After looking back and forth between Xu Ziling and Hou Xibai several times, he let out a cold humph and flew toward the hole on the wall and disappeared.
The main hall returned to its previously tranquil condition, with only the broken debris of the shattered statues remained on the floor.
Xu Ziling looked at Hou Xibai. The latter withdrew his stare from the remaining half of the scroll; smiling wryly, he said, "Xiaodi agree with Miss Wan a little bit; this is perhaps the only way to resolve this matter, everybody loses."
Xu Ziling asked, "The one who forced An Long to come back, was it your esteemed Master?"
Shaking his head, Hou Xibai replied, "It does not seem so. Although Shi Shi rarely makes his move, but once he does, somebody will lose his life. I think Yang Xuyan did not believe that it was Shi Shi either. As for who that actually was, if there is someone who knows everything under the heavens, Xiaodi also wish that that person could answer me."
Xu Ziling could not help asking, "How long has Hou Xiong not seen your esteemed Master?"
Playing it down, Hou Xibai replied, "I am afraid seven or eight years!"
It seemed to Xu Ziling that he did not want to talk about anything related to Shi Zhixuan; changing the subject, he said, "I am so glad I am able to make friends with an affectionate and true friend like Ziling tonight. Just now Xiaodi exerted my strength in desperate fight and received a bit of injury, I must find a place to recuperate. If in the next few days Ziling is going to stay in Chengdu, Xiaodi might look for you to drink wine and have a long talk."
Raising half of the scroll in his hand high, he smiled and said, "I am really grateful. Please!" Finished speaking, he went out through the hole, in a confident and at ease manner.
The little bit of candlelight has just stopped burning, but soon afterwards the main hall was brightening up, because it was already dawn.
Thinking about last night's perilous experience has given him the feeling that the ability to see morning light was actually very precious.
By the time Xu Ziling stepped out of the wall, the sky was already bright.
Suddenly there was a crisp 'Ding Dong!' sound from the pagoda in the distance. Looking toward that direction, he vaguely saw a copper bell hanging from a corner of the pagoda's eaves. When the mountain breeze was blowing, the bell created a clear, beautiful sound, which chased away the anxiety of the earth from the people's heart.
There was a narrow street lined with walls next to the Luohan Hall, where flowers and trees were well-spaced, providing profound and unfathomable, dense shade; it was extremely enticing.
Thinking that since he had nothing to do anyway, he might as well pay a casual visit before leaving Sichuan and rushing over to meet with Kou Zhong, and then together they would go to Guanzhong on a treasure hunt.
After heaving a sigh, he slowly walked toward the pagoda. After passing through a bamboo grove, he saw the nearly fifteen zhang tall, separated into thirteen floors -pagoda towering majestically over a clearing in the forest, lofty and steep, high and standing out above the trees.
Under the splendor of the morning sun, the top of the pagoda, which was engraved with flying geese made of gold and copper - appeared even more brilliant and glorious, dazzling the far and near.
Each floor of the pagoda had its four sides embedded with twelve stone carving of Buddhist images; grand and magnificent, rich in texture.
"Xu Xiong seems to have a particular feeling toward this pagoda?"
Xu Ziling looked up at the pagoda with his hands behind his back; without even turning his head, he said indifferently, "Did Miss Shi arrive last night, or did you just get here?"
Shi Feixuan came behind him and said glibly, "What difference does it make? You just wanted to ask who forced An Long to come back into the Luohan Hall, am I right? This man is so repulsive; he desecrated a Buddhist's sacred place. Feixuan scared him so that after this, he won't be able to sleep, as well as to pass his days - peacefully. Doesn't Xu Xiong agree?"
Xu Ziling turned around to face this lucid and elegant, simple and graceful Shi Feixuan; smiling wryly, he said, "I stepped on one statue and destroyed it; how will Miss punish Xiaodi?"
Shi Feixuan smiled and said, "I did not see it, I did not know; Xu Xiong does not need to ask me."
Xu Ziling slapped his forehead and laughed charmingly and said, "Last night was like a dream; pretty much everything was so puzzling, so unclear. For instance, how in the world did Miss Shi startle An Long so that he came back, scaring him so that he even abandoned the 'Immortal Print Scroll', so much so that it was like he just saw a ghost that he covered his head and sneaked away like a rat?"
Shi Feixuan spoke gently, "Last time I went to Sichuan, it was under my Master's order to go to the secluded forest in the small valley to review the 'Immortal Print Scroll' all the way through. Although it's unlikely that I will be able to master the Immortal Print method, but to imitate to twenty, thirty-percent likeness would not be difficult at all. And plus being a thief, An Long already had a guilty conscience, so that a chance encounter like that was very effective. Did it explain one of the mysteries in Xu Xiong's heart?"
Xu Ziling understood, but a new question arose in his heart, "Miss Shi might as well bring the Print Scroll back to Jingzhai to be kept there, and then the dispute last night would not have happened," he said in astonishment.
Shi Feixuan calmly and indifferently said, "It was a legacy that Xiuxin Shibo passed on to Miss Qingxuan; moreover, it is the auspicious article that Shi Zhixuan wanted to use to kill people with borrowed blade. Without Miss Qingxuan's consent, nobody has the right to take it out of the secluded forest in the small valley. The most difficult thing to understand this time was that how did Yang Xuyan suddenly become aware of the scroll's existence?"
Xu Ziling was stunned, "Killing people with borrowed blade?" he said, "If Shi Zhixuan wanted to kill people, I don't understand why he did not make the move himself."
A hint of grief smeared Shi Feixuan's pretty eyebrows; she spoke in low voice, "Can we walk and talk?"
Xu Ziling did not dare to walk side by side with her; he fell about two steps behind her, as together they walked along the small alley winding through the bamboo forest.
Shi Feixuan suddenly stopped. Naturally Xu Ziling also stopped immediately. With a slight displeasure in her voice, the former said, "I don't know what is your, this person's brains made of? Why don't you dare to walk side by side with Feixuan? There is no distinction of senior and junior between us; there is no distinction between master-servants even more. Do you want Feixuan to storm off in a huff and no longer pay you any attention?"