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Xiaohu, I was about to respond, but I noticed Jaya has beaten me to it. Kapok - Ceiba pentandra. Ysabel, Spy, DongBin, Chua, you are welcome.

Book 24 Chapter 7 - Meeting The Beauty Again

Xu Ziling heard Shi Qingxuan's voice first. Following the direction of her voice, he happened to see a flash of her powdery back, which quickly vanished.

He did not know why Shi Qingxuan was so sure that the 'scar-faced hero' was he, but she spoke by focusing her voice into a thread and transmitted it into his ear, making him feel greatly awkward, because what she said was, 'After casting Hou Xibai away, go immediately to the Da Shi Si [great stone temple] outside the city to see me!' It was that split second when he was hesitating that her trail was swiftly moving, like a fantasy which appeared real - this beauty [orig. jade person], whose flute skill was famous throughout the world, already disappeared into the stream of people.

It was a situation where both sides' inner feelings were in sincere cooperation. For Xu Ziling, abandoning Hou Xibai just like that was a difficult problem involving morality and justice. Not to mention Yang Xuyan and An Long's side had tremendous power, so losing Hou Xibai as powerful helper was really not a wise thing to do.

The most annoying thing was that if Da Shi Si was inside the city, he still needed to ask people for direction; if it was outside the city, he did not want to waste time. Either way, he still needed Hou Xibai's, this old horse who knows the way home - help.

'Dong dong ka ka', the sound of the drums pulled his mind back from Shi Qingxuan. Hastily he leaned over and spoke in Hou Xibai's ear, "I made contact with Shi Qingxuan; quickly slip away!"

Slightly startled, Hou Xibai turned toward one of the beauties, cupped his fist and sighed in admiration, "Drummer beauties are even more marvelous; regretfully Zaixia is burdened with an urgent matter. Would it be possible for Fan Da Xiaojie to allow Zaixia to come to your esteemed Gang's Zongtan [lit. head altar, i.e. headquarter] to apologize and pay my respect?"

Not only his movement was confident and at ease, pleasing to the eye, it also carried some kind of restoring-harmony feeling; immediately he excited the crowd of girls that they laughed like 'a stem of flower trembling randomly'.

The remaining six girls were still beating their drums and dancing, while the outstanding beauty stopped. Her right hand on the drum skin, her left hand gently rested on her small curvy waist, as she appeared to be staring longingly, appeared to be happy, while standing charmingly in front of the two men. Her beautiful eyes swept the scar-faced guest, Xu Ziling, first, and then, disinterested, she turned her gaze toward the elegant, graceful gentleman, Hou Xibai. Lightly stomping her tiny boot, she spoke tenderly, "You, this man, are really hateful, I don't know where to look for you. And this time you still want to find an excuse to slip away?"

Her voice was tender, soft, and sweet sounding, carrying some kind of attractive magnetism. Even though Xu Ziling was preoccupied, he still wanted to listen more of what she had to say. On top of that, her unrestrained, without suspicion, and bold style was able to make any man's heart unbearably itchy.

Perhaps, in all his life of showing passion to the fragrant and cherishing the flower, this was the first time that Hou Xibai felt regret; smiling wryly, he said, "Fan Da Xiaojie, please don't misunderstand! How could I, Hou Xibai, go back on my words? What's more, I am making an appointment with a beauty. It's just that this Xiongdi's father is critically ill; hence Zaixia must accompany him home. His Die is just like half a Die for Zaixia, Da Xiaojie, please be magnanimous."

The beauty's pair of wonderful eyes immediately turned toward Xu Ziling's face; skeptically she let out a tender humph and said, "If you want to lie to me, you ought to find a bit more pleasant-to-listen-to story. Your so-called Xiongdi does not look the least bit anxious or mournful; just now the two of you seemed to be strolling along the lantern market. Who would believe you?"

Xu Ziling had no choice but to press down the glum in his heart, and lie for Hou Xibai, who was actually the best in placating a beauty in a roundabout way; he spoke heavily, "Xiaodi has just received Hou Xiong's news, and only then did I understand about my humble father's life-threatening illness. Ay! One's time on earth is merely several dozen winters and summers; Xiaodi has always regarded life and death lightly, but to be able let him, the Senior, to have his son pay his last respects, is indeed our duty as sons and daughters to repay our parents' kindness. Ay!" Lying to this point, Xu Ziling was no longer able to continue; hence he had no choice but to sigh again.

The beauty rolled her wonderful eyes, and shouted in low voice, "Stop beating the drums! Listening to it makes my heart distracted, my thoughts in turmoil.

The group of girls evidently regarded her as their leader; hence they stopped immediately.

From disbelief, the beauty became half-believing, half-doubting. Her jet-black eyebrows frowning lightly, she said, "Are you from Chengdu? Where do you live?"

Like a quick sword cutting through tangled hemp, Hou Xibai decisively pulled Xu Ziling's arm and said, "No time to lose, we, two brothers must leave immediately. Excuse us!"

The beauty stuck out her pert, elegant silky breasts, while viciously said, "If I don't see you tomorrow, I, Fan Caiqi will cut your untrustworthy tongue for a snack to accompany the wine."

Finished speaking, she grudgingly stepped aside to make way.

Knock! Knock!

Chen Laomou's voice responded from inside the room, "Come in!"

Kou Zhong pushed the door and came in. Seeing Chen Laomou got up from his bed and scooted to sit at the edge of the bed, he apologetically said, "Sorry for waking Mou Gong up! But if you just take a look at this, I guarantee you won't blame me."

He handed over the book written by Lu Miaozi on mechanism and smart device to Chen Laomou.

Chen Laomou did not immediately look at the treasured rare book being stuffed in his hand; he stared at Kou Zhong, as if he was in daze, for half a day before he nodded his head and said, "Laofu is quite old, and I have seen with my own eyes I don't know how many persons who have changed. Take Yun Yuzhen, for example, she became so formidable that in the end Xiao Bu and me were forced to leave her. Although you, these two kids, are getting more and more formidable, you still maintain that kind of innate character; Xiao Ling is at home wherever he is, you are still cynical."

Laughing involuntarily, Kou Zhong said, "If you, Mou Gong, tell your evaluation on us to Li Mi, Xiao Xian, and the others, no one will agree with you."

Chen Laomou laughed aloud and said, "You are well aware of what I, Chen Laomou, said. Contending for hegemony over the world is also some kind cynicism. It means you are unwilling to bow under both the existing and conventional powers, to surrender your personal goal."

Grabbing his head, Kou Zhong said, "What is my goal? Frankly speaking, I don't think that becoming the emperor is an interesting matter. Therefore, even if I obtain the final victory, most probably I will ask someone else to sit on that scalding-butt seat."

Chen Laomou shook his head and said, "Your goal is absolutely not to become the emperor; rather, you want to be able to move unhindered over the world, to change impossible things to become possible."

Kou Zhong stared blankly for half a day. He sighed and said, "No one knows me like Mou Gong; how did you figure it out?"

Proud of himself, Chen Laomou said, "This is called the profound skill of observing people. Those who want to be the emperor must have enormous appetite for power, putting emphasis on the distinction between superior/subordinate. Take Xiao Xian for example; although he put up the appearance of a proper, virtuous person, the fact is that his words and actions, his bearings are brimming with royalty, feudal-aristocrats style. Not wearing the dragon robe is just one kind of trick. How can he be compared to you, who are casual in everything? Were it not for your subordinates, who are organizational and managerial experts, like Xuan Yong, Ren Meimei, Xu Xingzhi, and the others, your Shaoshuai Army would just be like a sheet of loose sand."

Kou Zhong delightedly patted his old shoulder and said with a smile, "You know what material I am made of, and I also know what material you are made of; why not flip over the thing in your hand to take a look?"

Chen Laomou looked down and saw the cover of the book had five characters written on it, 'Study of Mechanism and Smart Device'; a slight scorning smile appeared on his face. Opening the first page, he read the preface, which contained a disclaimer, 'The study of mechanism is a study attacking the heart of the underlying principles. A heart has the heart's character; an object has the object's character. In short, it is a study about the intrinsic order of the heaven and earth's nature, nothing is excluded, nothing is not contained. Knowing the first, not knowing the second, it is merely a small path, a small technique."

Chen Laomou was an expert in the study of smart device; he was emotionally moved immediately. "Who wrote this?" he asked.

Kou Zhong reached out to turn to the next page for him, at the end of the preface, there awe-inspiringly appeared Lu Miaozi's signature, three eye-catching characters.

Shaken, Chen Laomou exclaimed, "My Niang!" And then he turned back to the first page to continue reading.

Kou Zhong spoke in low voice, "I have read this ghost thing more than a dozen times, still I only know one and understand half [idiom: a smattering of knowledge]. Mou Gong, you …" Realizing Chen Laomou seemed to hear but not react to his words, Kou Zhong quietly left and lightly closed the door behind him.

The water of the river gently lapped the hull of the boat sailing in the night. The moon was hanging low on the horizon. Kou Zhong suddenly felt incomparably relaxed. Once again life was brimming with fascinating meaning.

Life was a constant struggle. Concerning him, would the end be a pain or happiness?

Hou Xibai climbed over a small hill and pointed ahead, "That is the Da Shi Temple."

Following his finger, Xu Ziling looked ahead, and saw among the ancient cypress covering the sky like bamboo cage to cultivate green onion, bathed by the bright light of the moon, surrounded by red walls, with the pagoda inside high up in the sky - was the majestic, towering multi-story temple.

Hou Xibai suddenly heaved a deep sigh and said, "Does Ziling Xiong also feel that Yang Xuyan's choice of this temple as the place where he, pretending to be Shi Shi, meet Qingxuan, is very strange?"

Astounded, Xu Ziling said, "Perhaps he anticipated that Miss Shi would meet me first, so he selected this location."

Shaking his head, Hou Xibai said, "I dare say that there must be a reason behind this, but I am not sure if I ought to tell you?"

At a loss, Xu Ziling said in bewilderment, "If Hou Xiong have secret trouble, there is no need to tell me."

Hou Xibai appeared to make up his mind. "Telling Ziling Xiong is a bit more appropriate," he spoke resolutely, "The reason of my hesitancy was because this matter involves Shi Shi's secret. Since childhood, I was an orphan, rarely did I tell others about the load on my mind; especially anything concerning Shi Shi and Hua Jian Pai, I never revealed it to anybody else."

Xu Ziling was silent, pondering inwardly whether this orphan was like Cao Yinglong, whom Shi Zhixuan skillfully trained into a master.

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