Starting from the feet, Kou Zhong looked at Cui Jixiu's without-the-least-bit-of-life-force face. A chill seeped along his spine.
Cui Jixiu's long sword was broken into two, both pieces were lying on the grass, but the body was actually hanging from a tree branch. Just like his men, there was no bruises on his entire body.
Although Kou Zhong was unclear about how brilliant Cui Jixiu's martial art skill was, but his shenfa was at least of a martial art master level; otherwise, he would not have been able to run away to this place in such a short period of time, and at least he was able to block the opponent's attack one strike longer.
It was only after witnessing the fact before his eyes that Kou Zhong deeply understood the saying 'there is a heaven beyond the heaven, there is person outside the person' [idiom: in the wider world there are people more talented than oneself].
The timing of this person making his move appeared to hide a profound meaning; that is, the moment Kou Zhong was about to overtake the enemy, he wiped out the scattering enemies one by one. It was ruthless and fast. Kou Zhong had to admit that he himself did not have that kind of ability.
Cui Jixiu's sword was hacked and broken by this terrifying expert's sharp weapon. Although the weapon would stop the body upon contact, but it was the invisible qi power that invaded the enemy's body and shocked and broke Cui Jixiu's heart meridian.
Such martial art skill was indeed horrifying.
Kou Zhong shook his head, inwardly called 'formidable', and walked away.
The newcomer was precisely the Da Dangjia of Chuan Bang [Sichuan Gang] Fan Zhuo's beautiful daughter Fan Caiqi. The colorful tight outfit that she was wearing making her looked even more like a peacock spreading its tail. Her feet were covered in small boots; the drum hanging on her waist the other night was replaced by a saber. She stormed in front of Xu Ziling, whose scalp went numb. With one hand on her waist, the youthfulness shone on her pretty face, she was smiling wholeheartedly; her beautiful eyes were flickering under her long, pointy eyelashes, she said, "Turns out it's the fellow surnamed Gong who lost his father the other night, but tonight came to San Hua Lou to fool around. Where the hell is that cheater who goes back on his word, Hou Xibai?"
It was only then did Xu Ziling remember that in order to get away that night, Hou Xibai made a promise to come to the Chuan Bang's headquarter to pay her a visit. Needless to say, Old Hou missed his appointment.
Having failed to obtain the other half of the 'Immortal Image Scroll', perhaps Hou Xibai would forget even his own name; how could he have leisure time to perfunctorily mind this crafty and unruly woman? It was only now did he gain heartfelt understanding of the worries of showing passion everywhere; perhaps for Hou Xibai it was as sweet as syrup [idiom from Book of Songs: to endure hardship gladly], but now it was up to him to bear it. Without any better option he forced a smile and said, "Xiaodi is also looking for him. Miss Fan, please forgive me."
Letting out a tender snort, Fan Caiqi said, "Did you not ask him to come here to be merry? Up to this point you are still lying?"
Xu Ziling's heart was still hanging on Zheng Shiru on the other side; he was groaning that he could not do two things at once like Ba Fenghan. Sighing, he said, "Last time Xiaodi was not lying; rather, I was being tactful. Fan Da Xiaojie, please note clearly."
Unexpectedly Fan Caiqi blurted out giggling tenderly. Taking a few steps back away from him, she sat down on the chair opposite his. Her elbow on the armrest, with her hand supporting her fragrant cheek, she smiled gracefully, and said, "Although you, this man, have scary outward appearance, your voice and speech are actually very pleasant to hear. I'll take you as my captive for the time being. Unless Hou kid showing himself here, or perhaps you hand him over to me, you are not allowed to go anywhere."
Taking advantage while she was speaking, Xu Ziling focused his attention on Zheng Shiru's situation over on the other side. A song happened to finish; it looked like Zheng Shiru would be leaving soon.
Xu Ziling hastily rose up to his full height. But before he had any chance to open his mouth, Fan Caiqi pulled her curved cavalry saber and swiftly put it on his neck; the momentum was abundant, the movement was deft and ruthless. Having taken a look at the brilliance of her saber technique, while he was under the limitation that he must not injure her, Xu Ziling knew that in order to get rid of her, he would have to go through a lot of trouble. Plus he would not be able to do it while he had to follow Zheng Shiru's trail. And right this moment, he could not make any fighting noise. Hastily raising his hand to express his surrender, he sat back into the chair.
Fan Caiqi brandished her blade about a cun away in front of the tip of his nose as a show of force, before retreating back into her chair and sitting down. Immensely proud of herself, she said, "Turns out your hands and feet are so disappointing. Just sit down nicely for me. Otherwise I'll make another scar on your thick face. Nujia is not kidding."
Listening to Zheng Shiru's footsteps gradually moving away, Xu Ziling could only sigh for his bad luck. Previously he thought his pleasure house luck has turned around, but now he realized that his pleasure house misfortune has not changed.
His plan for today was to wait for Zheng Shiru to leave some distance away, and then he would think of a way to get out, before thinking of what his next step would be. But this moment he could only stare at her helplessly.
Suddenly Fan Caiqi knitted her pretty eyebrows lightly; leaning forward, she said, "Why are you staring at me? Did something grow on my face that you need to look at horizontally and vertically?"
Xu Ziling rose up to his full height and spoke glibly, "Da Xiaojie, please forgive Ol' Gong for not accompanying you."
Fan Caiqi's big beautiful eyes grew wide; she was about to make her move, when someone on the outside shouted, "Hou Gongzi's letter has arrived."
Hearing the name 'Hou Gongzi', immediately Fan Caiqi completely forgot about Xu Ziling. Excited, she asked, "Where is the letter?"
Xu Ziling mused that if he did not leave right now, what was he waiting for? Thereupon brushed past Wen Gu, who was there to deliver the letter, and swaggered out.
Kou Zhong went back to the burned-down-until-the-wall-crumbling-the-roof-collapsing village. The battle has ended, the three 'pirate ships' moored on the shore have fled far away as well. Ouyang Qian's Li Liao warriors were just clearing up the mess.
To avoid social niceties, he made a detour to go back to his small village, to return to the little thatched cottage, and climbed up to the clay bed and lay down. The Li ethnic villagers who were fleeing to avoid disaster have not returned, and he was happy to be alone and enjoy the peace and quiet, but myriads of thoughts were surging through his mind.
Who exactly killed Cui Jixiu and his men?
This martial art master, who had not shown his face, had a hand that was as hard as Zhu Yuyan's. The most baffling thing was that he seemed to show off to Kou Zhong; he rushed to be one step ahead of Kou Zhong to wipe out Cui Jixiu and the others, yet he did not seem to show any hostility toward Kou Zhong.
He really had never thought that he would encounter such a strange thing in such a desolate place.
In the south, other than the 'Heavenly Saber' Song Que, who else would be as superior as this?
Thinking back and forth, Kou Zhong fell asleep.
He had just stepped out of San Hua Lou's outer courtyard, someone flashed out from the small alley, pulled Xu Ziling aside and said with a laugh, "Ziling Xiong, how are you?"
Smiling ruefully, Xu Ziling said, "With Hou Xiong's blessing, not so good. Did you see Zheng Shiru?"
Hou Xibai apologetically said, "He was walking in great hurry, as if he was afraid someone might follow him. Come! This place is too unpleasant; if we get entangled by that crafty and unruly girl, it will get even worse."
Following him, Xu Ziling turned to the south and entered a small alley. They leaped onto a roof and flew from house to house. A moment later they came to the roof ridge of a magnificent building. Under the bright moon casting its light at an angle, all the trees inside the courtyard, surrounded by walls, cast long shadows on the ground.
Xu Ziling asked in surprise, "This is not like regular folks' home; there is no lantern and the fire is dark."
Revealing a strange smile, Hou Xibai spoke in low voice, "I don't even know myself why I took Ziling Xiong to this place. This is the Li Family's shrine. Since I was young, I love to come here at night to think, but I've never brought anybody else here; perhaps it's because I consider you as a member of my circle of friends!"
Xu Ziling has already cast Zheng Shiru's affair out of his mind; laughing, he said, "Don't you have to study that half of the 'Immortal Image Scroll'? Why did you come to San Hua Lou?"
Hou Xibai sat down on the roof ridge, and beckoned Xu Ziling to sit down as well. Sweeping his gaze around at the dots of light outside the Li Family shrine extending in all directions all the way to the city wall, he smiled wryly and said, "It was because my head nearly burst open that I went to San Hua Lou to sniff the girls' fragrance, hoping to get some spirited ideas. Ay! Xiaodi right now has a terrible headache, all sentences are only the lower halves; I seem to understand yet do not really understand, it seems to be clear, but it is not really clear. I just know that it is definitely Shi Shi's handwriting."
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Xu Ziling said, "Looking at the remaining scroll, isn't your esteemed master's Immortal Image Method using Buddhism's supreme gongfa to unify Bu Tian and Hua Jian, two different kinds of supreme xinfa into one?"
Full of admiration, Hou Xibai said, "Ziling Xiong is extremely brilliant; although your guess did not hit the target, it did not miss too far either. Supposing Bu Tian and Hua Jian's xinfa are two wheels, the Buddhism xinfa is precisely the axle connecting the wheels together; in this way, the carriage will be able to move."
Frowning, Xu Ziling said, "Didn't you say that Hua Jian and Bu Tian, two Sects' martial art are heading to two extremes? Using wheel analogy does not seem to be too appropriate, because in terms of structure and function, wheels have no differences."
Hou Xibai solemnly said, "This is the analogy that Shi Shi wrote in the scroll. Inherently, wheels are the same, but because of different position, they can become diametrically opposite things. Just like life and death; although on the surface they seem to be opposite of each other, the fact is that both come from living beings, only one signifies the beginning, the other signifies the end; only then do they become opposites. Hua Jian Pai focuses on talking about opportunity to live, Bu Tian Pai puts emphasis on death qi. But if life is concealed within the death, and death is contained within the life, the two Sects can be unified, and the crucial point is precisely the image method that Shi Shi collated and examined carefully from Buddhism."
Listening to this, Xu Ziling's head grew big. He started to understand a little bit why after looking at it, Bi Xiuxin's life force was reduced.
Pushing this problem aside, he said, "Looks like Xiaodi cannot help you in this matter, Hou Xiong must not force yourself either; I still have something to do."
Hou Xibai resolutely said, "It must have something to do with Zheng Shiru; I can't simply dismiss responsibility. If Ziling Xiong won't let me help, my heart will feel very uncomfortable."
Xu Ziling hastily said, "Hou Xiong's kind intention is already enough! Hou Xiong still has …"
Cutting him off, Hou Xibai spoke with a smile on his face, "If Ziling Xiong declined, you don't consider me a friend. Xu Ziling can pursue justice with no second thoughts in helping Hou Xibai seizing the Image Scroll, could it be that seeing you have something on your mind, Hou Xibai simply watches with folded arms?"
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, "I want to eliminate the 'Heavenly Lord' Xi Ying. Does Hou Xiong think it is possible?"
"What?" Hou Xibai blurted out.