Lei Jiuzhi turned his head around to look at him; he said, "Turns out it's Gong Xiong. Gong Xiong ought to be a greatly famous character in Jianghu, but Xiaodi has never heard about you. Only by looking at how Wu Jiang Bang people were particularly deferential and respectful toward Gong Xiong, I know that Gong Xiong is someone 'with a head and a face' [i.e. someone important]. This is very strange."
Displeased, Xu Ziling let out a cold snort and said, "Evidently Lei Xiong has researched the roots and investigated the base of Jianghu's big names. Lei Xiong, please be careful with your words and actions."
Unexpectedly Lei Jiuzhi's thin face revealed a delighted expression; he said, "Gong Xiong must not take any offense. Just now I was just using words to sound you out. Gong Xiong's reaction has confirmed Xiaodi's opinion. Gong Xiong, please forgive Xiaodi for my irreverent remark."
Frowning, Xu Ziling asked, "What are you trying to sound out?"
With serious expression Lei Jiuzhi replied, "I want to see if Gong Xiong is really a chivalrous man? If Gong Xiong is a figure from the heretical way, what I said just now would bring Xiaodi the disaster of getting myself killed. Based on Gong Xiong's martial art skill, taking care of me should just be the exertion of lifting your hand."
Xu Ziing did not expect that this man was able to see through the depth of his martial art skill merely by observation; shivering inwardly, he spoke in heavy voice, "Lei Xiong might as well speak up clearly your purpose in coming, and please do as you wish, but do not waste Ol' Gong's time."
Smiling, Lei Jiuzhi said, "This matter is complicated and not easy to express succinctly. First of all, let me ask Gong Xiong, would Gong Xiong be willing stand up for the heavenly way, while at the same time make a great fortune?"
Remaining tranquil and calm, Xu Ziling said, "I am afraid Lei Xiong will have to find another candidate; simply because Ol' Gong has an important matter I have to attend to, hence it will be difficult for me to come to your aid."
And then he quizzically asked, "If Lei Xiong wanted to evade the pursuing troops, you can jump into the river to escape, then you would break the clues pursuers were tracking. In this time, where the world is in chaos, who would have the ability to go all over the world to search for you?"
Avoiding the question, Lei Jiuzhi said, "Since Gong Xiong have no intention to lend a hand, Xiaodi has no choice but to find another way. Excuse me, please!"
Song Yuzhi dejectedly said, "Just forget Yuzhi! With your, Kou Zhong's qualification, who among the beautiful women around the world would not greatly admire you? If you are really good to Yuzhi, hereafter please do not enter Lingnan even for half a step."
Finally Kou Zhong recovered his composure. With mouth wide open he gasped for breath for a moment, before shaking his head and said with a sigh, "Song Yuzhi, you are too heartless to me!"
Involuntarily he waved his hand to say goodbye, and then flew backward. In the blink of an eye he disappeared into the woods.
Song Yuzhi tightly bit her cherry lip; her pretty face was deathly white. Suddenly her cherry lips opened up and she vomited a mouthful of blood before collapsing backward.
Unexpectedly a shadow flashed across and caught her waist just before she fell to the ground, and then the shadow flew in the direction where Kou Zhong disappeared.
In one breath Kou Zhong rushed for about twenty li in the wilderness; his heart was filled to the brim with resentment and sorrow. In the land of love, he had been utterly defeated.
First it was Li Xiuning, and now it was Song Yuzhi.
When he came, he was brimming with hope, but now all his vision for the future and fantasies have been smashed to pieces by a few words from Song Yuzhi's mouth.
Suddenly he became aware that he was traveling along an official road. There were other vehicles and horses, as well as pedestrians. At this moment he did not want to think about anything; he just wanted to find a wine shop and drink until he pass out. He would think about making other plans after he woke up.
As far as Song Yuzhi was concerned, he had totally given up all hope.
While still in daze, he entered the county town, and unexpectedly it was the Yulin County that he was looking for.
After paying the tax to enter the city, he walked leisurely along the main street, looking for a wine shop. He entered in and bought wine to get himself drunk.
This wine shop was very unique; it had two elongated rectangular-shaped sections, inside and outside, joined in the middle with an open-air courtyard. There was an oval shaped fishpond in the middle of the courtyard, while potted plants were spread all over the place.
If it were during the peacetime, Kou Zhong would definitely enjoy the atmosphere. This moment, however, he simply walked to the end of the shop, and sat down on the table in the corner.
The waiter cordially greeted him, "This Daye must be from out of town. Our Jian Long Zhai's [lit. seeing dragon building] wine and dishes are second to none in Yulin; Daye really have good taste."
Kou Zhong swept his gaze around, and noticed that the shop was quite sparse, with only six or seven tables had customers on them, how could he believe his bragging? He was not interested in chitchat even more. "I don't want any dish, just wine," he said, "And I want your strongest wine."
Contrary to expectation, the waiter was quite astute; he left without saying anything.
Thinking about Song Yuzhi being so heartless, a tearing-the-heart, splitting-the-lungs pain burst in Kou Zhong's heart, he had difficulty breathing, and he felt like bawling his heart out, yet not even half a teardrop wanted to come out of his eyes. He began to realize the depth of his love to Song Yuzhi, which greatly beyond his own expectation.
But then he immediately comforted himself. All these things would pass, just like that time he was dead drunk because of Li Xiuning. When he sobered up, he would strive his hardest to forget Song Yuzhi. This was also the only thing he could do. He really could not understand Song Yuzhi. And for the first time he realized it was impossible to fathom the real thought in her heart.
It was obvious that this naturally proud woman, who came from prestigious school and big clan - liked him; even if previously there was some gratitude and grudges between them, seeing him, Kou Zhong, as if he was making a pilgrimage, taking time out of his busy schedule, defying ten thousand rivers and a thousand mountains along distant road to come to seek her, she should have thrown all past disagreements and come to welcome him!
Who would have thought that the ending would be like this?
The wine came.
Kou Zhong suddenly felt something was not right. Looking up, he saw that the one bringing the wine to him was surprisingly the 'Silver Dragon' Song Lu. Startled, he hurriedly rose up.
Song Lu affectionately pressed down his shoulder and warmly said, "Sit down first, we'll talk later."
'Knock! Knock! Knock!'
Xu Ziling was studying the newly learned 'Zhenyan Shou Yin' when he heard knocks on his door.
It was Lin Lang. He said nervously, "They are here!"
Xu Ziing immediately knew that the Chuan Nan Casino men were renewing their pursuit, simply because only they had the ability to catch up with them in such a short period of time. "What does Lin Xiangzhu intend to do?" he asked.
Lin Lang indignantly said, "Everything must be handled according to Jianghu rules. This is our Wu Jiang Bang ship; if the other party wants to cause difficulties on the ship, that is, not giving us Wu Jiang Bang any face, how would we stand in Jianghu in the future? After arriving in Jiujiang, naturally we will not meddle in other people's business."
Xu Ziling praised him inwardly. No wonder Hou Xibai said that Wu Jiang Bang's prestige was outstanding, while at the same time his impression on Lin Lang greatly increased. This was what was called 'he who comes is surely ill-intentioned, no-one well-meaning will come' [idiom]; since the other party dared to hold on to their tail and pursue them, naturally they had enough power and confidence that they would be able to eat Wu Jiang Bang men.
Smiling, Xu Ziling said, "Do you know who the other party is?"
Lin Lang shook his head. "There is no identifying banner," he said, "There seem to be more than a hundred men. This is really strange. Most of the gangs and societies of the same way [principle] doing business along the Chang Jiang have had drinks with me and have good relationship with me; even if there is no good relationship, at least we nod and greet when we are passing each other. But this group of people looks very unfamiliar. I wonder what's their background."
Xu Ziling said, "I just received the information; the pursuers are likely to be the men from Chuan Nan Casino."
His countenance changed, Lin Lang asked, "Where did the information come from?"
"I heard it from one of the passengers on this ship," Xu Ziling replied.
Greatly worried, Lin Lang said, "If they are indeed from Chuan Nan Casino, it will be extremely thorny. Among the gambling establishments in Chengdu, Chuan Nan Casino is the largest in term of scale. Even Xie Hui has to give them a bit of face. No wonder they are this overbearing and did not give any consideration to us."
Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Xu Ziling asked, "Who has such a big face?"
Lin Lang replied, "The big boss of Chuan Nan Casino is the 'Golden Abacus' Huo Qingqiao; he could be ranked among the martial art masters of Bashu. His reputation is barely second only to Xie Hui, Fan Zhuo, Feng Zhen, and other regional overlords. His son Huo Jitong is well known for being a bully; very daring and ruthless. Their Huo Family also runs pleasure house business. I really don't understand how that Han Zenan could provoke this kind of man?"
Probing him, Xu Ziling asked, "Could it be that because the other party is Chuan Nan Casino that Lin Xiangzhu changed your attitude?"
Lin Lang sighed and said, "That depends on whether they have any reason to stand. Our Wu Jiang Bang is not that easy to provoke either. Our Laoda and Xie Baozhu [fort master] have always had friendly relations. Chuan Nan Casino men will have to follow compass and set square in their reasoning."
Xu Ziling smiled and said, "What Lin Xiangzhu just said is enough for me! If the other party is using their strength to mistreat others, being insolent and irrational, I will take the whole thing as my responsibility."
Stunned, Lin Lang said, "Gong Ye must not do that! If something happened to Gong Ye, how could our Sha Laoda answer Hou Gongzi?"
Xu Ziling knew that Lin Lang's trepidation was due to the opposite party was Chuan Nan Casino men; he was afraid that this matter would escalate. Thereupon he said, "Lin Xiangzhu need not worry. I, Gong Chenchun, have mingled in Jianghu for many years, what wicked men have I not seen? By the time I am done and leave, there won't be any pretext for the opponent to give you trouble."
Seeing how reasonable and understanding he was, Lin Lang delightedly said, "Gong Ye's righteousness reaches up to the sky; indeed you are our Wu Jiang Bang friend."
Rising up to his full height, Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, "Let me see whether Chuan Nan Casino men have three heads and six arms!"