Book 25 Chapter 5 - Pirates Conspiracy
Not only did Kou Zhong lose his sense of time, he did not even know where he was, neither did he know which tribe inhabited this area. All he knew was that it was night, and he was rushing at full speed in the direction of the blazing fire emitting the thick smoke.
At first he thought it was only a few li away, but after running across an expanse of prairie and a river, and climbing over a small hill, he began to know that the fire was at least still ten li away.
Yet unexpectedly he was able to hear the cries. Evidently the feeling that his power was advancing was really not an illusion or his own wishful thinking.
A burst of faint battle cry, carried by the wind - entered his eardrums. The tragic scene of defeated Sui Army retreating while killing and burning, raping and looting - floated on the sea of Kou Zhong's mind. The murderous intent in his heart flared even higher. After sweeping down the slope and passing through a wide expanse of open field, he ran along a small trail by the winding creek that bore through the woods like a sheep's intestine.
Suddenly he heard the miserable scream of women mixed with the evil laugh from many men ahead, on the other side of the woods.
Anger exploded inside Kou Zhong, straight to the tip of his hair, which made him drawing the Moon in the Well and sweeping into the woods. But his state of mind returned to its bright and clear state, not contaminated by even half a shred of distracting thought.
Torchlight was visible from the other side of the woods; he could even see shadows of people. Before he was even out of the woods, two men, with torches in their hands, dressed in black tight warrior outfit - were walking into the woods.
One of them said with a laugh, "These two Liao women are really not bad; I hope we can find a few more over there as good as them, enough to make our brothers happy!"
The other one had just responded with a 'Ha!', when Kou Zhong stormed through the space between the two like a tornado before they had time to react, without even stopping for a moment - out of the forest.
The two men did not even have time to scream, their throat had been sliced open, and they slumped down to the ground, immediately died on the spot.
Outside the woods was a wide expanse of prairie, with thickets growing everywhere. The northern end of the prairie was where the smoke and fire originated.
Two naked female corpses were lying by a thicket, while more than twenty men in black, carrying flickering long saber in their hands, having not fully expressed themselves, were taking turn in continuing their deeds.
Kou Zhong thundered, "Give your life to me!"
In an instant he charged into the crowd of men, who did not have time to defend themselves, brandishing his saber and hacking down ferociously.
When the man who bore the brunt raised his saber to block, fast as lightning the Moon in the Well hacked down on the opposite party's face. The blocking saber immediately fell to the ground.
The crowd was dumbstruck with great alarm, while their vicious character was also aroused, so they swarmed to counterattack.
Kou Zhong hissed in anger, while also giving vent to his indignation that he arrived too late to save the innocent women. The treasured saber in his hand showed no mercy; he flashed forward toward two sharp blades coming to attack him. Swinging his saber backhandedly, he scored another victory.
That man clearly felt that he successfully blocked Kou Zhong's blade, yet the blade seemed to be able to slip through the gap, while he could only stare blankly as the terrifying enemy's saber meandered upward through the crack and entered his chest, as if he was delighted to deliver the pit of his stomach to feed the saber.
After killing four men in succession, Kou Zhong's true qi passed through his saber, while his waist sank down in a horse stance, and then using his right foot as the axis, he swept his saber in a circle, striking the attacking four sabers and sending them flying away into the distance. Not only the besieging men felt the palms of their hands were cracked, they also spewed out fresh blood from their mouth, and were thrown backward. They were shaken to their death just by his power alone.
Kou Zhong's murderous intent flaring out, his saber momentum whirled around swiftly, like a demon he weaved in and out of the crowd of men. Everywhere he went, everybody responding to his attack had his saber fell, his blood splashed, and his body fell down; unexpectedly not a single one was able to withstand.
When only one man remained alive, Kou Zhong hacked down the weapon in his hand. He reached out to grab the pit of the man's stomach, and lifted him entirely off the ground. Kou Zhong's qi power invaded his meridians, the man was so much in pain that his face twisted, bean-sized beads of sweat trickling down from his forehead.
Kou Zhong shouted coldly, "If you want to live, answer my questions. Otherwise, I'll pull your egg out. Understand?"
The man nodded in pain.
Kou Zhong's eyes were flickering with divine light, he asked in heavy voice, "Who are you? Which group do you belong? Let me tell you frankly, I am very clear of your ins and outs, I just want to test your honesty."
The man groaned and said, "Daye [big master], please spare my life, we are from Hai Sha Bang [sea sand gang, see Book 2 starting in Chapter 4]."
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "Obviously you don't want to keep your egg! Let me help you by taking your pants off first. I will only cut your egg, and definitely won't cut anywhere else."
The man was aghast, "Daye, spare my life," he said, "I am indeed from Hai Sha Bang."
Kou Zhong said with a sneer, "Still want to deceive me? Do you know who laozi [I, your father] is? The 'Mermaid' You Qiuyan is my old friend whose lips I have kissed, the 'Fat Assassin' You Gui and 'Charging General' Ling Zhigao have both had their buttocks kicked by me. The entire Hai Sha Bang, from top to bottom, all know me, you still dare to talk drivel? Last chance! Your Daye don't have time to waste on your eggs."
The man's face was devoid of any color; he said with trembling voice, "Xiaoren will talk! It was Lin Ye who sent us out."
"Which muddled egg [i.e. scoundrel/[email protected]] is Lin Ye?" Kou Zhong shouted.
The man busily said, "It's Lin Shihong Daye!"
Kou Zhong's heart was shaken. Now he understood what's going on with this pirates business.
When Zheng Shiru saw Xu Ziling, who was disguised as Yue Shan, his countenance changed slightly and he halted his steps.
When the others looked at him in amazement, Xu Ziling stopped in the middle of the street and spoke coldly, "Zheng Shiru stays here, the rest take a hike for Laofu."
Immediately those several people appeared to be angry. But when they were about to vent out their anger, Zheng Shiru promptly curbed it by saying, "Gentlemen, please give Xiaodi a bit of face. Hey! This is Xiaodi's senior. Please go first, in a moment Xiaodi will go to San Hua Lou [lit. dispersing flowers building (reminder: lou is a multi-story building)] to apologize to everybody."
Those several young master were dressed like influential Wulin family's younger generations. Half believing half doubting, they sized Xu Ziling up and down several times before - under Zheng Shiru's urging - leaving unhappily.
Zheng Shiru saluted and said, "I did not know Qianbei [Senior] has graced us with your presence; please forgive Shiru for being negligent."
Xu Ziling snorted a stifled grunt from his nostrils. "Come with me!" he spoke heavily.
Helplessly shrugging his shoulders, Zheng Shiru followed behind him into a deserted alley.
Afraid that Zheng Shiru might recognize his back, Xu Ziling turned around and spoke indifferently, "Xiaozi, what is your actual duty within Yin Gui Pai? Which color do you belong to?"
Zheng Shiru's barely-there suspicion vanished immediately; he sighed and said, "Not concealing anything from Qianbei; strictly speaking, Shiru really is not Yin Gui Pai disciple."
Actually, Yin Gui Pai heavily observed the distinction between seniors and juniors. The Sect was divided into three levels: 'Heaven, Earth, and Man', and the martial art taught to these three levels were also entirely different. White Sky, Black Earth, Yellow Man, were the three colors: White, Black, and Yellow. Only disciples of White grade would have the opportunity to take a peek into the demonic secret manual. Within Yin Gui Pai, other than Zhu Yuyan's personal disciples, only people like Bian Bufu, Wen Caiting, and the like, elder-level martial art masters, would have this distinction. The number could not exceed nine. Nine was precisely the highest level of Heaven.
Figures like Amorous Nun, Evil Monk, and so on, who had quite a bit of head and face [i.e. some prestige/reputation] in Jianghu, were just in 'field agent' level.
He learned all these things from the scroll that Yue Shan left behind, hence when he talked, he looked like he knew what he was talking about.
Xu Ziling laughed coldly and said, "Nonsense! If you are an outsider, how could Zhu Yuyan trust you?"
Zheng Shiru smiled bitterly and said, "It's complicated and not easy to express succinctly. But if Qianbei wanted me to communicate a message, there is absolutely no problem."
Nodding his head, Xu Ziling said, "Xiaozi is quite astute, you knew that I wanted you to communicate a message for me."
Zheng Shiru calmly said, "This time Qianbei is returning to the fray after a period of inactivity. Let's not say about Song Que and Xi Ying, two men, rushing in, this moment Qianbei suddenly appearing in Chengdu, you must have heard the rumor concerning Xi Ying. Is Wanbei [junior] wrong?"
"Where is Xi Ying?" Xu Ziling asked.
Frowning, Zheng Shiru said, "Qianbei should know Xi Ying's character better than Wanbei; he can't possibly disclose his whereabouts to anybody."
With a card up his sleeve, Xu Ziling laughed and said, "Perhaps Bian Bufu is the only exception?"
From Yue Shan's legacy scroll, he knew that for a period of time, Xi Ying had a close contact with Bian Bufu, together, with all the majesty of an emperor [i.e. recklessly] they roamed the pleasure quarters and cluster of flowers [this is literal translation, but I believe you guys understand what it means, right?]. Villains collude together, hence he made that remark.
Stunned, Zheng Shiru replied, "I am not too clear about that; Qianbei ought to know that I am Zheng Hantang's son."
Xu Ziling groaned inwardly; naturally Yue Shan could not possibly put all the names of the people he had had a dealing with in the scroll. But listening to the tone of Zheng Shiru's voice, obviously his late father had some connection with the real Yue Shan. Without any choice he thickened his face and asked, "Is Hantang still alive?"
Zheng Shiru sadly said, "My humble father passed away ten years ago. Qianbei naturally understand why he, the Senior, could not have a good ending."
Xu Ziling remembered Xiang Yushan's father, Xiang Gui's bitter experience, who, because he inadvertently heard some gossip about Yin Gui Pai from a certain Yin Gui Pai elder in an idle chat after drinking together - was nearly killed. His heart moved, he said, "Must be because Hantang wanted to quit! Am I right?"
Zheng Shiru dejectedly said, "That's exactly right. Otherwise, how could Die's death be so shady? Not to conceal anything from Qianbei, right now Xiaozhi [little nephew] is merely feigning civility, quietly waiting for the opportunity. The thought in the bottom of my heart, this is the first time that Xiaozhi divulge it to anybody, simply because in the past Qianbei has done a great favor for Die. Xiaozhi really cannot bear to see Qianbei fall into the trap and nurse a grievance in Chengdu. I am asking Yue Lao's [old Yue] understanding!"
Although Xu Ziling was finally able to verify Zheng Shiru's real identity, but inwardly he was groaning. If Zheng Shiru persisted in not willing to communicate a message for him, would he have to go everywhere to shout, 'Yue Shan is here!', or perhaps write these four-word mantra on the walls and street corners?