Both An Long and You Niaojuan were stunned. The former frowned and said, "Since you, Old Yue, confirmed it with your own mouth, I dare to believe the rumor; but how could Zhu Hou [Empress Zhu] be willing to let you off?"
Throwing his head back, Xu Ziling let out a long laughter and said, "She did not have any confidence that she would be able to kill me, naturally she had to let me go. Could it be that she had a sudden outburst of virtuous intentions? There will come a day when I will make her regret deeply." Xu Ziling cleverly borrowed Zhu Yuyan to confirm Yue Shan's identity.
If Zhu Yuyan thought that he was Yue Shan, how could outsiders have any suspicion?
You Niaojuan was Yin Gui Pai's archenemy, hearing that, his attitude relaxed considerably; he nodded his head, but did not say anything.
An Long said, "For the last few days I have been waiting respectfully for your honorable self's arrival. Since hearing that Yue Xiong is returning to Jianghu, I knew that because of Xi Ying, Yue Xiong may rush over to Bashu; hence early on I already left secret mark around the city gate, and now finally Yue Xiong appears!"
Again Xu Ziling cried inwardly, 'What a close call!' Originally he was thinking that he would have to find some good pretext to explain how he could find this place; fortunately he had not said it. From this, it appeared that the real Yue Shan had a rather close relationship with An long.
You Niaojuan spoke heavily, "How would Yue Xiong deal with Xi Ying?"
Instead of replying, Xu Ziling asked, "I wonder if you gentlemen, Laoxiong ['old chap'] knew whether Zhu Yaonu and Xi Ying have formed an alliance?"
An Long and You Niaojuan were shaken at the same time. You Niaojuan shook his head and said, "That's impossible. Xi Ying and Zhu Yaopo [demonic grandmother] are like water and fire; how could they mingle together?"
Letting out a cold laugh, Xu Ziling said, "That was the thing of the past. Currently they have a common goal, which gives rise to another situation. Don't forget that there is also Bian Bufu who's acting as a go-between."
This time, the manner in which he spoke was modeled on the words that Yue Shan left behind. Although he did not have a hundred-percent confidence, he had at least seventy, eighty-percent confidence; unless it was someone who had deep relationship with Yue Shan, others should get the impression that he was indeed Yue Shan.
Taken aback, An Long asked, "What is the goal?" His eyes welled up with deep hatred on the mention of Bian Bufu's name.
Xu Ziling indifferently replied, "Song Que, of course. Is there anyone else?"
An Long was dubious. "Zhu Hou and Song Que have always been like river water does not interfere with well water. How could she and Xi Ying suddenly do something with grievous consequences like that?"
Xu Ziling noticed a hint of eerie smile appearing on the corner of You Niaojuan's mouth, his heart was moved, he said, "Old You, don't play dumb! Don't tell me that you don't know Lin Shihong's background."
You Niaojuan spoke resolutely, "Zhu Yaopo's crafty scheme can deceive others, but she can't conceal it from me, You Niaojuan."
And then he turned to An Long and said, "If I am guessing correctly, Lin Shihong ought to be 'Yunyu Shuang Xiu' [cloud and rain double cultivation] Pi Shouxuan's proud disciple. I have exchanged blows with Lin Shihong before; I am confident that I can't possibly make an error of judgment. And now that I received Yue Xiong's pointer, I am even more certain of it."
Xu Ziling was convinced even more that this trip was not in vain; at least Lin Shihong's identity was verified by the mouth of the people from demonic school.
He also cried, 'Lucky!' inwardly, because it was the first time that he heard that Yin Gui Pai had such figure in their organization. If he talked big randomly, no doubt he would reveal the cloven hoof [i.e. unmask his true nature].
Showing a shocked expression, An Long was silent for quite a while, before saying to Xu Ziling, "Old Yue, you came to me, An Pangzi, what's in it for me?"
Xu Ziling smiled and said, "Bian Bufu is yours, Xi Ying is mine. What do you think?"
You Niaojuan spoke heavily, "Ba Dao [overbearing saber] Yue Shan has always been a loner, why do you need a helper this time?"
Xu Ziling spoke slowly, "Joined hands, we are strong; divided, we are weak. An Pangzi is Shi Zhixuan's good brother, naturally you are a thorn in Yin Yaofu's eyes. And due to Shengdi Sheli [holy emperor relics], Old You has tied unsolvable deep enmity with Zhu Yaofu. However, even if you are unwilling to participate directly, Ol' Yue will never blame you. All you need to do is just to reveal Xi Ying's hiding place to Ol' Yue."
You Niaojuan sighed dejectedly and said, "The problem is not on me, but on the new offense that An Long committed against Shi Zhixuan. Since he will be too busy to attend to this matter, he won't be in leisurely mood to take care of other matters."
Just by listening to the tone of his voice, Xu Ziling knew that You Niaojuan has also come to plead with An Long to help him dealing with Yin Gui Pai people, but he was refused.
Naturally Xu Ziling could not tell An Long that the one making the move at the Da Shi Temple was Shi Feixuan, and not Shi Zhixuan at all; he even had to pretend to be surprised and asked for the details.
Naturally An Long would not tell Xu Ziling what really happened to him; frowning, he said, "Old You, don't exaggerate. Come to think about it, it must be a case of 'seeing a bow reflected in a cup as a snake' [idiom: overly fearful]. However, the person attacking me in the dark surely had an extremely brilliant skill. The reason I do not wish to be drawn into this matter is simply because of my deteriorating relationship with Xie Hui, and I can't afford to have the not-to-be-trifled-with Zhu Hou to personally come to deal with me. The leaving monks unable to leave the Temple, many years of hard work in doing business may go down the drain, and you …"
You Niaojuan impatiently cut him off, "How can you choose to shrinking your head and take the beating? Now that we have Yue Ba [overbearing] joining us, it will increase our chance of success. Who does not know that Yue Shan's one word worth nine sacred tripods, and he had never broken faith by abandoning his promise?"
Greatly moved, An Long muttered to himself irresolutely, "Of course I trust Old Yue, but you, You Niaojuan, have never been known as one who keep promises and value loyalty; so how could I dare to trust you?"
You Niaojuan blurted out laughing and said, "So that's how it is. But it seems like I have never deceived you, An Daye. What if I swear by demonic school's curse and make an oath?"
Shaking his head, An Long said, "Still not enough."
Xu Ziling and You Niaojuan looked at each other in astonishment.
An Long's eyes shone with sharp light; he met Xu Ziling's eyes, and spoke slowly, word-by-word, "Except you, Old Yue, can prove that your 'Great Method of Changing the Sun' can surpass Xi Ying's 'Purple Cloud Heavenly Mesh'. Only then will we have something to discuss."
Suddenly it dawned on Xu Ziling.
The fact was that early on An Long had openly offended Wanwan, so his desperate battle against Yin Gui Pai was already like an arrow leaving the bow. The momentum must be released, yet he was putting up a pretense that he was the virtuous person here, only wanted You Niaojuan to guarantee that he would fight to the end together with him, creating the situation where 'the emperor was not anxious, but the anxiety was driving the eunuch crazy'.
And Xu Ziling, this fake Yue Shan who had just dropped in, was a good helper. That was the reason he left secret markings that only the real Yue Shan would recognize, hoping that Yue Shan would find him here. As a result, the dream became real, An Long naturally wanted to go one step further by verifying clearly how much value would Yue Shan, who was just returning to the fray after a period of inactivity - bring to the table?
An Long was indeed an old, good, tremendously cunning man!
Laughing coldly, Xu Ziling said, "I'll just sit here, I'll take your, LaoGe's two moves of Lotus Ring at the Center of the Sky, and we'll see!"
Stunned, You Niaojuan said, "Old Yue, you must be joking! Even Zhu Yaofu and Shi Zhixuan will not dare to take An Long's Lotus Ring at the Center of the Sky sitting down."
Xu Ziling knew that he had brought suffering to himself. Relying on his understanding of the Luohan hand image, plus the 'Nine-character Incantation Hand Image' taught by Reverend Zhen Yan, he had at least seventy, eighty-percent confidence that he could receive An Long's Lotus Ring at the Center of the Sky.
But if it were real fight with proper style, Lotus Ring combined with Lotus Step, there was great possibility that he might reveal his true identity. Therefore, he simply must take this risk. His heart was scared, but his face showed an air of arrogance brimming with confidence. "If I don't do that," he spoke calmly, "How could I show that Ol' Yue's Huan Ri Da Fa is definitely not inferior to Shi Zhixuan's Bu Si Yin or Zhu Yaofu's Tianmo Gong?"
He was well aware that the previous night, due to the wear and tear in his true power, An Long would not want to risk his life in desperate combat; at most he would only send out one move to start and the second move of Lotus Ring at the Center of the Sky to stop. Relying on his wonderfully effective recovery of his true qi, even if he received injury, he could pretend that nothing had happened, and then quietly restored his qi speedily.
An Long also showed a hard-to-believe look; half-believing, half-doubting, he asked, "Yue Xiong is sure you are going to receive it sitting down?"
Throwing his head back and roared in laughter, Xu Ziling said, "Come! When did Ol' Yue ever say anything that did not count?"
An Long sprang out from his chair and shouted, "In that case, Yue Xiong, watch out!"
Carrying out strange footwork, his fat hands folded like a lotus, in an instant he sent out three clumps of Lotus power, separately attacking Xu Ziling's left and right jianjing [shoulder well] acupoints and his face.
Hot qi filled the air.