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Anurman, Xiaohu. Ysabel. HPC, Jaya, you are welcome. Akolaw, if you put it that way, then yes, Huang Yi explicitly stated that Ning Daoqi, three men are at the top. However, he never suggested that so and so is at 1a level, while someone else is at 10k. Anyway, I have a feeling that we are talking about two different things here, and somehow I failed to put my point across. If you like to rank the characters, who am I to stop you? Sky, not yet. We are still in 'prelude' mode. Tail, welcome back!

Besides, Xi Ying should be aware that currently Chengdu's martial art masters have gathered here, yet he still openly fool around at the pleasure house with Bian Bufu; evidently he felt secure in the knowledge that he had strong backing, so that he disregarded even Xie Hui, Shi Feixuan, and the others.

He was wondering whether he was like a moth throwing itself into the flame, overestimating his own capabilities? Steeling himself, Xu Ziling asked, "Which room is he in?"

An Long replied, "West wing, second floor, the fourth room on the northern extremity. Ours is two rooms down, the second room on the same wing. The first room is the Chuan Bang's [Sichuan Gang] Fan Zhuo and Ba Meng's [Sichuan Alliance] 'Monkey King' Feng Zhen. In the third room are several younger generations of the famous and influential families in Chengdu. It is really lively tonight."

You Niaojuan spoke in low voice, "Did Fan Zhuo and Feng Zhen know that Bian Bufu and Xi Ying are in the room down the hall?"

An Long sighed and said, "You think I am the worm in their belly?"

But Xu Ziling cursed him inwardly; An Long practically had made up his mind to deal with Bian Bufu, hence he knew which room to book. Otherwise, even if Wen Gu wanted to curry his favor, she could not possibly coincidentally arrange a room just separated by another room from Bian Bufu's.

This moment the three men were following Wen Gu climbing the stairs toward the second floor. Hardening his heart, Xu Ziling said, "Let Ol' Yue say hello to the two old friends first."

Both An Long and You Niaojuan were from demonic school; since they were young they were accustomed to licking the blood from the saber blade. When things come to a head, they would automatically throw all apprehensions. They figured that if by using the ten-thousand-catty-thunderbolt tactic they were able to kill the two men in one move, it would be extremely ideal.

Nodding his head, An Long said, "It would be best to lure them to fight in the garden. This way it would be very difficult for other people to intervene. We will watch your back for you."

It should be noted that such a famous-throughout-the-country brothel like San Hua Lou, if it was not owned by great figures of Wulin like 'Qiang Ba' [spear overbearing] Fan Zuo or 'Hou Wang' [monkey king] Feng Zhen, then they must be doing business under their protection.

Supposing Xu Ziling disregarded the safety of the ladies accompanying them in the room by fighting inside the room, Fan Zhuo, Feng Zhen, and so on, definitely could not watch with folded arms, and thus they would tie an enmity with them.

After the event, naturally Xu Ziling and You Niaojuan could simply pat their butt and steal away, but An Long, who had painstakingly put down his roots in Bashu, would gain two additional formidable opponents, who separately held leadership position of the Chuan Bang and Ba Meng - for no reason at all.

If Xie Hui was added to the equation, how could An Long make a living in Bashu?

Being a Jianghu veteran, You Niaojuan leaned close to An Long and said, "Why don't you go say hello to Feng Zhen and the others first? They can't possibly have too good of an opinion on Xi Ying and Bian Bufu?"

Smiling wryly, An Long said, "Too bad they don't have too good of an opinion on me either."

Wen Gu just opened the door. With a smile on her face she welcomed them, saying, "Three Da Laoban, please come in."

Xu Ziling took a deep breath, and strode past Wen Gu toward the north wing.

While Wen Gu was stunned, An Long pulled her by the waist, and took her into the room in his embrace.

Focusing his power in his ears, immediately Xu Ziling was able to hear everything in the four rooms of the west wing. Recognizing Bian Bufu's laughter, he would be lying if he said that he was not nervous. The previous night, when he refused Shi Feixuan's offer for assistance, and resolutely decided to go with single spear and horse [idiom: single-handedly] to deal with Xi Ying, he was actually letting his emotions affecting his decisions a little bit. However, recalling Ba Fenghan's heroic passion and powerful air in challenging Qu Ao for battle, his heart felt relieved.

If he did not put himself in that kind of 'nine deaths and still alive' [idiom: narrow escape] situation, how could he make a breakthrough in the martial way?

Xu Ziling stopped and stood in front of the north room's door. Before he knocked on the door, a gentle and sweet-sounding, deep and low, pleasant to listen to - male voice came from inside the room, "Which friend has come here?"

Inside the room suddenly grew so quiet that even the sound of falling pin could be heard, but the neighboring room seemed to grow warmer and noisier.

Xu Ziling shivered inwardly.

While walking here, he was certain that he did not make any sound, yet this person, who ought to be Xi Ying - was still able to sense his presence. From this, he knew how superior Xi Ying's martial art skill was.

Just as he was about to push the door, the door opened automatically; greeting him was a pair of severely fierce eyes, flashing with demonic light. Xi Ying was wearing scholar-style black clothes from head to toe. He was tall and thin, his face looked refined in manner, his bearing elegant. There was a smile hanging on his fair-skinned, lean face, without any sign of excitement of seeing 'Yue Shan' suddenly appeared before his eyes.

Uninformed people might regard him as a weak middle-aged scholar; but if they looked clearly at the pair of distinct eyes under his thick eyebrows, they would see the sinister and cruel, fierce rays of light. The pupil of his eyes even emitted a ring of purple light, eerie and terrifying.

Bian Bufu was sitting on the other side; each man had their arm around a woman sitting on their lap, teasing and having fun with each other. Xu Ziling's eyes swept pass Bian Bufu before returning to Xi Ying. With his hands behind his back, he laughed coldly and said, "Xi Ying, you are not dead yet?"

At first the two women thought that Xi and Bian, two men's old friend has come to visit, so their faces were full of smile; but when they looked clearly, they saw Yue Shan's serious countenance and gloomy and cold expression, and then listened to his remark, which was brimming with challenging overtone, they knew it was not a peaceful situation. They were so frightened that they suddenly went quiet; their flowery countenance lost its color.

In the adjacent room, the warm, noisy atmosphere subsided. Evidently they became aware of the unusual situation happening over here. Naturally there was no sound coming from An Long's room either. And then, even Feng Zhen and Fan Zhuo, two men also ceased their conversation, so that the entire west wing was immediately filled with an unusually quiet atmosphere.

Xi Ying laughed calmly and said, "Old Yue, didn't you say you wanted to see Xiaodi at the third watch of the night [11pm-1am]? And now you came like this disrupting Xiaodi's keen interest; aren't you being impatient to live a couple of sichen longer?"

Xu Ziling casually stepped into the room and walked straight toward the big window on Xi Ying's left, to face the evening breeze, brimming with the taste of autumn. Gazing at the spacious wooded garden full of flowers and plants below, he smiled and said, "Ol' Yue is not impatient at all, rather, I have been painfully thinking about you. Since we parted forty years ago at Longxi [county in Dingxi, Gansu], I have had no opportunity to reminisce with Xi Xiong. This time we meet again, I just hope that Xi Xiong's Ziqi Tian Luo will not disappoint Ol' Yue. Otherwise, Ol' Yue's Huan Ri Da Fa would have been mastered in vain!"

Bian Bufu shook his head and said with a laugh, "Even though you, Yue Lao'er [lit. old kid] mastered Huan Ri Da Fa, your dead character still has not changed; you only love to brag. Anybody knows that Huan Ri Da Fa is just a small plaything of Tianzhu's dissenting religious sect. Perhaps it could heal your injury, but because you always take vastly different approach in your walk, it would make your power decline substantially. Were it not for Zhangmen Shijie [martial art (older) sister, head of a sect] saw through this point, how could she let you leave Luoyang alive?"

Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Xi Ying lightly slapped the girl, who was sitting on his lap, on her plump buttocks, indicating he wanted her to leave, before stretching his muscle and bones and said with a laugh, "Remembering your, Old Yue's painstaking effort, let me send you off tonight, so that you can meet your wife and child soon."

Xu Ziling looked up at the night sky; a righteous indignation was welling up in his heart, out of sympathy toward the real Yue Shan. The little bit of trepidation in his heart vanished without any shadow, without any trace.

Speaking about age, Yue Shan ought to be more than ten years Xi Ying's senior. When he made his name, Xi Ying had just made his debut. Because his school was having a little bit of grudge against Yue Shan, he paid Yue Shan a visit and challenged him to a battle, and was barely defeated by just one move. Harboring resentment in his heart, unexpectedly he took the opportunity while Yue Shan was away from home to kill his family with brutal means, thereupon sowing deep enmity between them.

Taking a deep breath, Xu Ziling slowly said, "Tonight, if you don't die, then I perish. Let Ol' Yue see whether your purple eye and fiery eyeballs' heavenly mesh demonic skill have been trained so that you can preserve your two little lives."

Before Xi Ying and Bian Bufu had any chance to retort, from the southern end of the wing came a deep and heroic voice, saying, "This is untalented [me (humble)] Chuan Bang's Fan Zhuo. May I ask whether speaking over there are Yue Bazhu [overlord/hegemon, or simply overbearing master] Yue Shan and the 'Heavenly Lord' Xi Ying Xianxiong [virtuous brother]?"

Another voice continued, "The other friend, if Feng Zhen did not guess incorrectly, ought to be Bian Bufu, Bian Xiong? We are honored by your presence in Chengdu, but why didn't you say hello to us? At least let us do the honors to act as the host."

Fan Zhuo and Feng Zhen were both awe-inspiringly-resounding-across-eight-directions-around-Bashu-Wulin names; but to Xi Ying and Bian Bufu, demonic school's martial art masters whose name shook the world, other than Xie Hui, they did not care about anybody else in Bashu. They just looked at each other, and broke into a disdainful laugh.

Xu Ziling responded, "Two gentlemen's guess is not incorrect; please forgive Yue Shan for being rude, tonight is about personal gratitude and grudges, two gentlemen please stay out of it, Ol' Yue will be extremely grateful."

Letting out a cold sneer, Xi Ying said, "Yue Laotou, since when did you become this polite and courteous?"

Fan Zhuo's voice laughed coldly and said, "Yue Bazhu, please don't worry, Bashu Wulin still have a little bit of patience left."

An Long's voice rang out, "Xi Xiong, Bian Xiong, how are you? Xiaodi An Long sincerely paying my respects."

His countenance did not change, Bian Bufu laughed aloud and said, "Turns out An Long Dage also came to enjoy the excitement; you want to see with your own eyes the tragic end of our generation saber overbearing [Dao Ba] Yue Lao'er? I thought you were shrinking back into your fat shell, like a turtle shrinking its head without saying a word."

You Niaojuan has been stalling for time, and now, with his trademark gloomy voice and delicate breathing he responded, "It is Bian Xiong's dead character that has not changed. This time Yue Xiong reentered the Jianghu, how could he without the slightest bit of confidence? Which one is boasting shamelessly, we'll find out as soon as you fight. Ha! Not only Bian Xiong is pitiful, you are ridiculous as well."

The purple light in Xi Ying's pair of eyes flared out, but for the first time that night Bian Bufu revealed a grave expression. Pushing the trembling-in-fear-from-head-to-toe pretty lady in his embrace away, he signaled Xi Ying with his eyes.

Xi Ying slightly nodded his head. Looking at the standing-across-one-table-and-one-chair Yue Shan, who was looking outside the window, he spoke indifferently, "Where does Yue Xiong want to fight?"

Throwing his head back, Xu Ziling let out a long laughter, and leaped out of the window, and landed on a piece of grassy land in the middle of San Hua Luo's garden.

"Xi Xiong, please!" he spoke unhurriedly.

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