Chapter 62: Hand It Over
Wenchang hated Curly Beard after what he had done to him more than ten years ago at Black Dragon Pond, and he had vowed to get revenge himself; he didn't want anyone else doing it for him. He was really afraid Curly Beard would die at Seven Spells' hands. But it was not the time for him to come out and get revenge. He was stronger and more skilled than before, and his conception and governing vessel meridians were cleared, but as far cultivation went, he was still only half there, far from sublimity. He would be thinking too highly of his abilities to think of taking on one of the Thirteen Greats. Seven Spells' appearance was terrifying. Wenchang wanted to withdraw, but he he wouldn't let himself. He wanted to go out there, but it'd be like smashing an egg against a stone, not worth it. He was in a dilemma. Best to just wait and see what happened. He got his concealed weapons ready so he'd be prepared if he had to fight. To tell the truth, he wasn't all that afraid of the Thirteen Greats. It would be easy to slip away in the night. Seven Spells had hit him for no good reason in Laozi Valley, nearly killing him. Hatred was carved into his bones and etched on his heart. He would not soon forget it. He truly believed the day of reckoning was close at hand. Seven Spells would not let him off easily either. Sooner or later the day would come when they would have a fight to the death. Unless he stopped wandering the jianghu, that day would definitely come.
Seven Spell's appearance didn't affect the fight currently raging. They were still going all out, neither of a mind to stop. Fact was, they were evenly matched. Neither would give up easily. Whoever gave up first would find his life at hazard and would be caught in a hopeless situation.
Seven Spells picked up the Book of the Immaculate Maiden from the floor and skimmed through it. "Haha! A fake. There's over a hundred different versions of this. The real one has long since been lost. This one was written by that old scoundrel of Dragon Tiger Mountain, Shao Yuanjie. It's not worth a copper. Hey! You two idiots stop it and get over here and listen to me."
His loud voice thundered through the main hall, the echo buzzing in everyone's ears and startling the two men fighting. They explosively separated from each other and jumped back ten feet or so and turned to look, startled looks on their faces.
Spectre wiped the sweat from his face. "You're… You're… Seven… Seven Spells White… White Crane Hermit?"
Seven Spells dropped the Book of the Immaculate Maiden and put on a smile as he folded his hands behind his back. "Yes, you have not forgotten my name."
Curly Beard grit his teeth and slowly backed away toward the rear doors. "I've done a lot of evil deeds, but I don't want have anything to do with someone like you, more despicable than I."
"Wu, you're thinking of leaving? Alright! Do as you like, if you don't care about living." Seven Spells was beaming. He had not yet moved. Actually, he didn't think anything of Curly Beard, his disdain difficult to put up with.
Curly Beard stood still, his bronze eyes flickering. He wasn't quite sure of himself, caught in a dilemma. "Priest, what is it you want?"
"A small matter. I want you to do something for me." Seven Spells spoke as it it were nothing, his voice even. He still smiled.
"I only look after myself. If you want me to do something for you, it's going to cost you."
"I only look after myself as well. Of course! I'm a businessman. I take cost seriously above all else. If I can trouble you to do something for me, of course there must be some benefit for you.
But I can't give you much. My magnificent temple has not yet been finished; I still need ten thousand taels of gold to complete it."
"Just say it!" Curly Beard said helplessly.
"Continue to keep a watch on the Wudang laymen and look out for information about the Autumn Mountain Mist painting's whereabouts. Take action if the opportunity arises. I will reward you with Arcane Empyreal Qigong. You must take note that a Wudang person found the painting in a small inn. As far as I know, half of the painting is in the hands of Mountain Demon Shan Tang. The other half was taken by Black Succubus Gu Zhen. I never go back on my word. Unless it's a fake. That would be a different matter."
"It's settled, then," Curly Beard said, spitting the words out one by one.
"Okay, it's settled. Once you have it you can find me among the jianghu."
"I'll take my leave."
"No! Wait. You can leave in a moment. Benefactor Sun. We also have a transaction."
Spectre had recovered from the fatigue of fighting. "I'm just jianghu vermin, but I don't want to purchase any drugs or medicines from you. There's no need to make any transactions."
"I forgive you for not being able to purchase those things. I sell those to experts. You're not one of my good customers. Where did you get those four large pearls?"
"From a jewelry store," Spectre said honestly.
"And that bastard Feng's real ones?"
"I was a step too late. They had already been stolen by someone else."
"They say some little ruffian named Cai Wenchang stole them at a tavern in Chang'an."
Curly Beard had never asked Wenchang for his name back then at Black Dragon Pond, so he had no reaction when Spectre said Cai Wenchang. Cai Wenchang, though, who was still hiding out, was jolted quite a bit.
"Has that been confirmed?" Seven Spells asked.
"It's confirmed. The news flying around Chang'an right now is all about how that unknown junior caused an uproar and made a mess of Northwest Escort Agency."
"And he? I mean Cai Wenchang?"
"Already fled south. I don't know where to."
"Benefactor Sun, do whatever it takes to find those pearls. Within those pearls is a treasure map placed inside by a skilled artisan. It's priceless. The original owner of those pearls was that treacherous villain of the current dynasty, Chen Youliang. Before he was defeated at Poyang Lake, he buried some treasure on the lakeside in Xingzi County in Nankang prefecture. It's rumored to be located near Luoxing Lake. A map to the treasure was placed inside the four pearls, but were lost after Chen Youliang's death, supposedly passing through many different hands over the years before finally ending up in the possession of Bloodsucker Feng. This information was passed on by a disgruntled bodyguard within Feng's estate by the name of Mao Xingbang. I don't know if it's true or not. I don't want to make any promises before verifying it, but once it's been verified, if they are real, we'll split the treasure we dig up fifty-fifty. Benefactor Sun is an honest man and will not think me too greedy. Yes?"
Spectre nodded over and over. "It's a deal."
"Benefactor Sun answers right away. Is there some other…"
"The master is too suspicious. To tell the truth, if I obtain the secret map I will still need help acquiring the treasure. The news has leaked out, now and there are many greedy people among the jianghu. I'm incapable of doing it alone, but what could be better than having you in charge?"
Benefactor has not disappointed me. I wish that we will pull it off so that I won't have to go to a lot of trouble to acquire funding for my temple so I can settle down. Benefactor, you may go. We'll be in touch later on."
"Until next time." Spectre saluted and withdrew and ran out through the main gates.
Seven Spells approached Curly Beard with his hands behind his back, then spread his hands out. "Benefactor Wu, I must ask you for a few things."
Curly Beard started and backed up two paces. "What is it you want, Priest?"
"Benefactor was once poisoned by Outcast Androgyne, yet survived, and managed to harass Androgyne all over the place, finding his secret hideouts, but with limited results. As far as I know, you once hid out at Qingcheng for six months and stole a bottle of Arcane Nine-Cycle Elixir from Divine Immortal Pinewind and that's how you survived. That nine-cycle elixir must be incredible. I would like to give it a try. I wonder if you can expand my horizons?"
Curly Beard's face changed as he backed up another two paces. "It's been over a decade. The pills were used up a long time ago."
"Nonsense!" Seven Spells' face darkened. "They are miraculous, sacred supplements. You cannot take too many, or else they will had adverse effects and you would die for sure. The nine-cycle elixir took Priest Pinewind thirty years of painstaking concocting to make. One pill can rejuvenate a person and bring them back from the brink of death. There are eighty-one pills in a bottle. Even if you took three pills every year you would still have half remaining. Benefactor Wu, a man who understands the times is a great person. You don't want to have to pay the price do you?"
Curly Beard shook his head. "I wouldn't lie to you, priest. I took them all in order to counteract the effects of Outcast Androgyne's rare poison."
"I don't believe you."
"If you don't believe me, then I don't know how to explain it so you will."
"I want to search," Seven Spells said sternly.
"What? You want to search me?" Curly Beard was angry.
"Yes, this is an honor for you."
Curly Beard was boiling with rage. He was about to go off when he saw the strange look in Seven Spells' eyes, like they were shooting lightning. His heart froze and he hesitated. Then blurted, "Alright, it would be my honor to trouble Priest to personally search me. This is really a rare opportunity." He removed his travel bag and handed it over. "Please, have a look."
Seven Spells' electric eyes never left Curly Beard as he reached for the travel bag. He smiled. "Pardon me, Benefactor Wu…… You're asking for it!"
Just as Curly Beard extended his hand to offer the bag, three throwing knives shot out from his sleeve, becoming three rays of lightning bolting toward Seven Spell's chest. At such a short distance they would be very difficult to dodge.
But Seven Spells had been ready; he had seen Curly Beard's intention in his eyes. He ducked right and swept his sleeve to the left and a blast of air screamed out and knocked the throwing knives fifty feet away where they fell harmlessly to the ground.
Wenchang, hiding in the shadows, clenched his teeth and cursed inwardly in pity. Too bad! That guy is so greedy, but those three things were in vain. They all missed.
He didn't want Curly Beard to die at Seven Spell's hands. He was about ready to step in.
Curly Beard bellowed and cut in with his cudgel and struck with the tip of his foot like lighting. But he was half a step too slow.
Seven Spells' palm slammed into the dragon-head cudgel and rocked Curly Beard backward and to the left eight feet, nearly dropping his cudgel. When he landed he still skid backward three steps before finding his footing. Seven Spells' power was shocking.
"You should go to Hell!" Seven Spells shouted happily as he closed in on him.
Curly Beard couldn't escape. His courage left him. Even if Seven Spells didn't draw a sword and just attacked barehanded it would still be enough to kill him. He gasped for breath. His life very well might end right here. He was really helpless, there was no way out, and it was too late for regrets.
He forced his fear down. He no longer defended head-on but moved this way and that, looking for a chance to get through the rear doors. He wasn't about to go out the main gates; there would be no way to escape over that open land.
Two more rounds, then Seven Spells' sleeves rolled and a blast of air shot out with his hands and a roil of thunder, like being hit with massive ten-thousand-catty hammers, churning Curly Beard's blood and qi to the point where he could barely stand.
Seven Spells shouted and raised his left sleeve and knocked away the dragon-head cudgel, then he threw his right out at Curly Beard.
Curly Beard was busy defending himself, but when that big sleeve touched his left hand he felt a jolt of lightning and he thought it was broken. He cried out as an irresistible force sent him flying back ten feet and at the same time overturning the long table with a crash.
Seven Spells roared with laughter and closed in with big strides. "You're a goner, and everything you have on you is mine."
He neared and brought his foot down as CUrly Beard tried to crawl to his feet.
The candlelight suddenly snuffed out. At the same time, a pale silver ball of light bolted toward the old Daoist from the left as a drawn-out laugh reverberated through the hall. "Old bastard, I've come to get even. Take this!"