Book 3 Chapter 9 – Dong Ming Princess
The fast boat left the shore and sped up toward the Dong Ming flagship anchored in the middle of the river. Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were sitting in the bow, the one rowing the boat was another Dong Ming Sect’s Law-protector Fairy, Shan Qing, who was sizing the two boys up with a smile on her face, but did not say anything.
After passing spreads of cattails near the shore and weaving through dense mooring ships and boats, the lanterns of Dong Ming flagship illuminated the boat.
Under the lantern light, they could see that although Shan Qing, whose sleeves were floating in the wind, was only thirty-percent beautiful, this kind of atmosphere kind of accentuate her mysterious side.
Trying to flatter her, Kou Zhong blurted out, “Xianzi Jiejie [fairy sister], you look so pretty!”
Naturally Shan Qing knew that he was kissing her @ss; she smiled and said, “Don’t be loquacious, Madame really hates kids who spout nonsense endlessly. If you provoke her, you won’t feel good at all.”
Displeased, Xu Ziling said, “Don’t think that since you saves us, you can treat us anyway you want … ow!” Kou Zhong elbowed his arm. Immediately he remembered their heavy responsibility toward Li Shimin, and shut his mouth at once.
Naturally Shan Qing did not know the twists and turns in this matter, she moored the boat onto the Dong Ming flagship. After leading the two boys to the ship, immediately she ordered her subordinates to get ready to set sail.
Greatly astounded, Kou Zhong asked, “It’s late, where are we going?”
At this time a young, handsome man in white, leading two middle age men, appeared in front of the three people to welcome the two boys.
The young man in white spoke indifferently, “Zaixia Shang Ming.” And then he introduced the two middle age men with majestic appearance, one was Shang Bang, the other Shang Kuitai.
Shan Qing calmly said, “Our women department have four great Law-Protector Fairies, the men also have four Sect-Protector Generals. The other two are Shang Ren and Shang Wannian, who presently are not here.”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling really wanted to ask Shang Ming’s capacity, but looking at Shang Ming’s cold and indifferent attitude, they quickly swallowed their question back.
Shan Qing ordered the two boys, “You’d better stay in your cabin. Yuwen Clan’s martial art masters have already caught wind of your whereabouts, the situation is extremely dangerous.”
Remembering their big enmity with Yuwen Huaji, the two boys jumped in fright, and obediently followed another man in white into their cabin.
The two boys followed the man toward the passenger deck. The familiar hallway appeared before their eyes. They were hoping the man would take them to the lower deck, but the man continued on to the room at the end of the hallway, pushed the door open and invited them to come in.
“Are two Gongzi hungry?” he asked.
Reminded by him, the two boys’ tummy immediately rumbled thunderously; they nodded their head vigorously.
The man laughed and said, “Two Gongzi please take a rest a bit, I will be back with two baskets of steamed stuffed buns.”
Xu Ziling gratefully asked, “How may we address Dashu [big uncle]?”
“Why don’t you just call me Uncle Liu?” the man replied.
After the man left, the two boys closed the door and went to the window. They could not even describe their feeling.
Xu Ziling said in low voice, “This Dong Ming Pai is so strange, the men all take the same surname, all the women are also surnamed Shan; apparently their organization is very tight. It also seems like they are trying to pull us to become a member; this is really hard to understand.”
With a soft chuckle Kou Zhong said, “Why do you care his mother’s that much? As long as we can steal the account book and jump into the river, we will all go our separate ways. But we must remember not to soak the account book and damage it, then perhaps we could use it to bring harm to Yuwen Huagu. One move, two gains; what can you have against it?”
Xu Ziling replied with a wry smile, “It’s easy for you to say. Anybody in here could beat us senseless at will.”
Sneering, Kou Zhong said, “I am telling you to steal, not to rob or fight. What are you afraid of?”
At this time a young maid came bringing some delicacies; she was not the beautiful maid who took them to see Madame Dong Ming the other day, in term of beauty, she was two notches below.
After the main left, the two boys bent over the table, munching busily. By the time they finished eating and the food still left a rich aftertaste, the huge ship shuddered and started to sail.
Kou Zhong looked out the window and saw that the ship was heading toward the northern channel. “Hey! Why go north instead of west?” he exclaimed, “Going this way we will reach the Weishan Lake soon.”
Xu Ziling pulled him back, “Don’t shout and yell, alright?” he said, “That Madame Dong Ming is so formidable; even Ol’ Die cannot stand against her.”
Kou Zhong sat down on the seat by the window. He drank a cup of hot tea and voiced his agreement, “Since we set sail, naturally she, the Senior, has safely returned.”
Seeing Xu Ziling was still frowning hard, he asked in surprise, “What are you thinking?”
Xu Ziling dejectedly said, “Although we can brandish sabers and play with swords like an expert, our mental cultivation is actually very low. Remember when we were at the casino, only after that Shen woman pressed her hands on our shoulders, we, two fools, knew that she had arrived. How could genuine martial art masters be that useless?”
Kou Zhong agreed. He nodded and said, “We indeed don’t have enough mental cultivation, and don’t have enough Jianghu … hey! Not Jianghu, just don’t have enough martial art master’s experience. Our, two brothers’ days as martial art masters are just too short, most of the days we don’t even remember that we are martial art masters.”
While Xu Ziling was roaring in laughter, there was a knock on the door. The two boys were greatly embarrassed, because even when they were talking about it, they did not detect someone was already at the door.
Kou Zhong cleared his throat and said, “Come in!”
The door opened; a pretty face as beautiful as a flower appeared first to greet, “Gongzi, how are you?” before her beautiful body followed into the room. It was the beautiful maid who took them to see Madame Dong Ming the other day.
The two boys immediately stood up to greet her.
The beautiful maid’s elegant eyes brightened as she cheerfully said, “You have grown tall. Compared to the last time, your expressions are a lot better.”
A friendly feeling welled up in Kou Zhong’s heart; grinning, he said, “Is it because we are wearing rather decent clothes that we appear taller? Plus we now have a couple pennies in our possession, hence we are a bit prouder.”
The pretty maid covered her mouth as she said with a laugh, “Kou Gongzi loves to joke a lot, Xu Gongzi is a lot more proper than you are.”
Kou Zhong broke into laughter, “That is because he has yet to show you his true face!”
Xu Ziling asked in surprise, “Jiejie even know our names and surnames?”
The pretty maid acted as if she suddenly realized that she had talked too much; holding back her smile, she said softly, “Right now all levels of society have been turned upside-down by you. Only the deaf have not heard about your feat and your background. Alright! I am going to take you to see Madame.”
Suddenly she broke into giggle and said, “This time don’t reveal your greedy and corrupt true nature anymore.”
Kou Zhong came over and leaned his face brazenly close to her pretty face and asked, “What is Jiejie’s beautiful name?”
Surprised by this show of intimacy, the pretty maid’s face revealed an angry, but not quite angry, captivating expression. She spoke in low voice, “It’s not a big deal for you to talk flirtatiously like that, but when talking to Madame, you must never make an unreasonable scene. Ay! The one I am most worried about is Miss; her impression on you is down to the dirt.”
Xu Ziling knitted his sword-like eyebrows and said, “We are not going to ask any favor from them, why must we conduct ourselves according to their likes and dislikes?”
The pretty maid sighed and said, “Because I know you are people with true feeling and true nature, that’s why I told you this. In a lot of other things I am bound by our Sect’s rules and cannot tell you. As long as you are a bit more careful, you ought to be able to go through everything safely.”
“What exactly is the danger?” Kou Zhong wondered, “Hey! This time Madame rescued us and brought us back, is it because she want to select a husband for her daughter?”
The pretty maid was shocked, “How could you think that far?” she asked, “The candidate for Princess’ husband has been chosen long ago.”
Kou Zhong giggled and said, “In that case, it must be because she wanted to choose a husband for you, Jiejie.”
The pretty maid blushed beet red; she said angrily, “You keep blabbering nonsense; just see if I am going to ignore you or not.”
Xu Ziling also felt that Kou Zhong was a bit excessive; he frowned and said, “Kou Zhong, can’t you talk with a bit more propriety?”
Kou Zhong shrugged his shoulders and said, “This is called curiosity. Jiejie is so pretty, and I am not yet married; can’t I ask the question?”
Even the pretty maid’s small ears were blushing through and through as she cast an angry glare toward Kou Zhong. But then she bowed her head and said, “I do not really blame him, but I already have a betrothed, it’s just that he has not passed through the doorway [i.e. marry into a family]!”
The two boys were shocked, “He has not passed through the doorway?”
The pretty maid clearly did not wish to continue this conversation. “Come!” she said in low voice, “Follow me to see Madame!” And she preceded them toward the door.
The two boys ran after her. When they got to the door, just before she pushed the door open, the pretty maid halted her steps and said softly, “Remember, my name is Shan Ruyin.”
The two boys went to the same big cabin where they met Madame Dong Ming the other day. The pretty maid Ruyin withdrew after she had them sit down on the chairs facing the bamboo curtain.
The two boys looked at each other while waiting painfully for half a day before Madame Dong Ming’s gentle voice came from the dark area behind the curtain, “We see each other again.”
The two boys respectfully replied, “Madame, how are you?”
Madame Dong Ming was quiet for a moment before speaking, “I was mistaken that day; turns out your skill is not bad at all.”
Kou Zhong modestly replied, “Madame praises us too much. Our skill is not even enough to defend ourselves; it can’t be considered anything.”
Madame Dong Ming spoke indifferently, “Toward such a martial art expert like Du Fuwei, how many people actually dare to speak up to defend themselves? It was only by exploiting all kinds of circumstances, and by deliberately forgetting my intention that I was lucky enough to snatch you from his hands. But time and again you were able to escape from his grip. Just by this fact alone is enough to have your name shook the Jianghu.”
Although hearing such praise, the two boys did not feel anything spectacular, because both times they escaped for their lives, they were relying on crafty tricks and their luck; it had nothing to do with actual skill.
Madame Dong Ming suddenly sighed gloomily and said, “I have a question, and I want you to answer me truthfully.”
“When people were going to attack us sneakily that night, why did you take the risk by sending us warning?” Madame Dong Ming asked.
“We couldn’t just standing by idly and watch,” Xu Ziling nonchalantly replied, “We need to teach those bad eggs a lesson! If we had known Madame is this skillful, we should have let Haisha Bang people fall head over heels.”
Madame Dong Ming spoke indifferently, “By what qualifications did Haisha Bang people dare to provoke us? But their backing is people with great background. The situation that night was actually very disadvantageous to us. Yuwen Clan’s third in command Yuwen Shi personally led their martial art masters to mingle among Haisha Bang people. If they managed to sink our ship, I really don’t know what the consequences would be. That’s why I am really grateful to you.”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were shocked to learn that there were martial art masters from the Yuwen Clan among those people that night.
Madame Dong Ming calmly said, “One question I wasn’t clear previously was since the two of you made looking for fame and looking for profit as your life objective, why would you want to so something as dangerous as to offend Yuwen Clan? But just now Ziling has given me the most sincere answer, which is that you couldn’t just standing by idly and watch. Hearing that my heart is very happy.”
Kou Zhong’s thick skin turned red as he said, “Madame praises us too much. There is actually another reason: we heard that guy Han Pudi said that they were under Yuwen Huagu’s order. And Yuwen Huagu happens to be our biggest enemy. Therefore, while we have the opportunity, why not try to inflict some harm on him?”
For the first time ever Madame Dong Ming lost her calm and broke into laughter, “Han Pudi, Yuwen Huagu, what an interesting name you could come up with. Incidentally, I want to warn you: after Yuwen Huagu was injured by Luocha woman, he went into hiding for a year to recuperate. My understanding is that his martial art skill has advanced by leaps and bounds instead; right now he is on par with the Clan leader Yuwen Shang. Therefore, if you are not sure, you must never provoke him.”
The two boys declined to comment, but they did not take her advice to heart either, simply because they knew that even if Yuwen Huagu’s martial art skill remained unchanged, they were still too far inferior from him.
Jaya, Ysabel, HPC, you are welcome. Yan, thank you for the kind words. I'll have to give it more thought. Sky, why do I have a feeling that this Princess will end up with Xu Ziling? I agree with your previous comment, it won't be fun if the two boys end up with 'damsel in distress'. Their partners have to be strong characters.
Madame Dong Ming continued, “I am so glad that in claiming the credit for yourselves you are not arrogant and are very forthcoming. When you were being chased by the mob at the pier by the city of Yuhang that day, I have already seen that your foundation is exceptional, indeed it is rarely seen in this age. Other than one person from the Li Clan, nobody else of your generation can compare to you. As a result I was moved by the love of talent and let you came aboard to meet in person.”
Kou Zhong replied with a bitter laugh, “But in the end we were driven out by Madame.”
Madame Dong Ming said, “It was not me who wanted you to leave, it was my daughter Wanjing. The people she hates the most are worldly disciples who are only after wealth and fame. Nowadays my duties within the Sect are gradually being taken over by her, I just assume the responsibility to give guidance; hence everything is decided by her.”
The two boys suddenly understood why Ruyin said that Dong Ming Princess’ impression on them was very bad.
Madame Dong Ming sighed and said, “This daughter of mine is stubborn; once she had a preconception about anything, it is very difficult to change her mind. But surprisingly this time it was she who found you; furthermore, she gave the order to give you assistance.”
She did not understand, naturally the two boys did not understand even more; they merely listened attentively.
Madame Dong Ming changed the subject, “Whether it’s Du Fuwei, Li Mi, and perhaps Yuwen Huaji, or even all gangs and societies who know your whereabouts, nobody is willing to give up on you. Do you have any plan for the future?”
The two boys shook their heads with blank expression on their face, indicating that they had no idea.
The two boys jumped in fright; they thought that if they could not stay, wouldn’t they lose the opportunity to carry out their trick ‘to imitate the dog and steal the chicken’?
But Madame Dong Ming continued, “By midday tomorrow, we will arrive at Weishan Lake. After taking care of some businesses, we can go up north along the canal. After Juye Wetlands, the water should be covered by mist for hundreds of li, we can easily shake off enemy’s pursuit; there we can arrange for you to slip away onto the shore. After that you will have to rely on your good luck.”
The two boys were relieved; within these next eight to ten days, they should be able to complete the heavy responsibility Li Shimin entrusted to them.
From a very deep slumber, Xu Ziling slowly, fen by fen [1 fen ~ 1/3cm, 1/8-in], cun by cun [1 cun ~ 1-in] regained his consciousness.
The feeling was like from the bottom of a deep, dark and quiet pool, gradually floating to the surface, and the instant he made contact with the water surface was the same instant he regained the perception of the outside world.
Every night when he slept peacefully was the good time he practiced the ‘Secret to Long Life’.
‘Thump!’ Kou Zhong, who was sleeping next to him, kicked the side of his thigh.
Xu Ziling was already accustomed to this. Whenever Kou Zhong kicked him, a burst of true qi immediately entered his channels, while at the same time he also returned a stream of true qi back to Kou Zhong.
This kind of feeling was really unspeakably comfortable.
When sleeping, Kou Zhong always kept moving, while Xu Ziling always stayed calm like a deep sea.
The sun outside penetrated the window, bathing the small empty space in front of the window with its light; everything seemed so peaceful, serene and beautiful.
Xu Ziling’s mind was a piece of peacefulness, just like a calm deep pool, mirroring everything before his eyes. He looked up at the rectangular-shaped mosquito net above the bed. The net was made of silk yarn weaved together into a mesh; abundant with some kind of principle that was hard to describe with words, rich with many patterns. What seemed to be identical square holes were actually myriads of different holes. Each small hole, each small square actually had subtle differences with each other. Light and darkness, big and small, they were all different. Yet all these different holes formed a whole entity that could not be broken; each hole was independent, yet they also affecting each other.
He had never thought that a mosquito net could be so engaging and interesting.
‘Buzz! Buzz!’ A buzzing noise came from the top of the net. A mosquito wanted to break into the net, but was thwarted by the mesh and was kept outside.
After trying several times, the mosquito flew toward a corner. Immediately it attracted the attention of a house lizard that was crouching on the patterned ceiling above. The lizard rapidly traversed several cun across, and lay prostrate again, motionless.
The lizard’s movement was both steady and nimble, there was dynamic within the static, and there was static within the dynamic.
Xu Ziling’s heart was filled with indescribable feeling; somehow he indistinctly captured the true meaning of the blend between static and dynamic.
Suddenly this incomparably rich and moving moment was broken by light footsteps from a distance coming near. The footsteps stopped in front of the door, and then the door was pushed open.
Kou Zhong instantly reacted; he opened his eyes and sat up.
The two boys focused their attention, and saw that it as a big and tall maid. She looked quite ugly, but the saddest thing about her was the ‘thousand-li distant’ expression on her face, icy-cold and wooden, as if everybody in the world owed her money and has not paid her back.
As soon as she came in, her gaze swept the boys behind the net, and then she looked away as if she lost interest already. She brought along a basin of water, a towel, a comb, and other things, which she then placed on a small table by the window. And then, without any trace of politeness she barked with her hoarse voice, “Quickly get up! Commander Ming [orig. shuai – commander-in-chief] is waiting for you for breakfast.”
Kou Zhong crawled out of the net and went over to the ugly maid. Cupping his fist in respect he inquired, “How may I address this Jiejie?”
The ugly maid spoke with disdain, “I am not your Jiejie, and you don’t need to pay attention to my name.”
Meanwhile Xu Ziling pushed the net aside and sat on the bedside; he was stooping down to look for his boots. Hearing what was said, he said, “If we made any mistakes, Jiejie is welcome to scold us or curse us, so that we can make it right.”
The ugly maid did not expect the two boys would still be modest and polite even after her mean treatment to them. She stared blankly for a moment before finally walking toward the door. “I’ll wait for you outside,” she said. Her tone was a little gentler.
The two boys hurriedly wore their clothes and washed their faces.
By the time they walked out the door, the ugly maid impatiently said, “Hurry up and follow me!”
Kou Zhong giggled and ran after her. In the most respectful manner he said, “May I ask Jiejie, who is Commander Ming?”
The ugly maid led them to the end of the hallway where the stairs leading to the upper deck was located. She appeared to be ignoring Kou Zhong, but then she suddenly said in cold manner, “Didn’t you see him yesterday?”
Kou Zhong, and Xu Ziling who was running behind him, suddenly came to realization that the Commander Ming she was talking about was Shang Ming. Since they had ‘generals’, it was only natural that they also had ‘Commander-in-chief’. It seemed that this young, handsome Shang Ming’s status in Dong Ming Sect was, by no means, low.
Climbing to the upper deck, they found out that it was actually a spacious cabin, almost like a hall. Shang Ming, accompanied by Shang Bang and Shang Kuitai, two men, sat around a round table, where an assortment of light breakfast food was served, talking in low voice.
Seeing the two boys’ arrival, Shang Ming did not stand up or show any sign of welcoming gesture at all; he simply smiled unenthusiastically and said, “Two Xiao Xiongdi, please have a seat.”
After the two boys took their seats, the ugly maid left the hall.
The cabin was decorated with over a dozen big windows on both sides, adorned with hanging curtains, but did not affect their view at all. They could still enjoy the panoramic view of the green mountains and verdant pastures scenery on both banks of the river.
“Did the two gentlemen sleep well last night?” Shang Bang asked.
The two boys had already stuffed their mouth full with food, so they could only nod their head.
Shang Kuitai said, “There are two sichen more [i.e. 4 hours] before we reach Weishan Lake. Once we get there, we have no fear of being tracked.”
Shang Ming said, “The weapons that you use, where did you buy them? The material and craftsmanship are quite good.”
Of course Kou Zhong could not tell him the truth, he randomly replied, “It’s Shen Luoyan, that woman [derogatory] who gave them to us.”
How could Shang Ming be able to distinguish whether he was telling the truth or a lie? He could not help laughing, “There are not many people in Jianghu who dare to call her ‘woman’. The two of you can be considered having enough skill that there are a lot of Jianghu characters, that many people would be scared at the mere mention of their names [orig. turn pale at the mention of a tiger], are hunting you down, yet time and again you were able to escape with your lives. ‘Being fugitives for thousand li’, it can also be considered ‘anecdote passed on with approbation’ in Jianghu.”
Xu Ziling was curious, “What kind of place is Ryukyu?” he asked.
Shang Ming proudly replied, “It’s the world’s most beautiful and mysterious place. It’s a big island suspended over emptiness of the vast body of water. The climate is pleasant, large part of it remains uncultivated fertile land, wonderful birds and different animals can be seen everywhere.
The two boys listened with their minds wandering far away.
Shan Kuitai asked, “Was your martial art skill taught by the Luocha female?”
Kou Zhong nodded, “That is correct!”
“If that is the case,” Shang Bang seriously commented, “It can clearly be seen that Gaoli’s Yi Jian Dashi [see Book 1 Chapter 3] Fu Cailin really possesses inscrutable, supernatural skill.”
Shang Ming said, “People have name, trees have shadow. Since Fu Cailin was able to make his name alongside Wu Zun Bi Xuan and Shan Ren Ning Daoqi [all these names were mentioned back in Book 1 Chapter 6], and still enduring for the last few decades, they must have earth-shatteringly ultimate skill. Just look at how he sent one of his disciples over, and she had the Central Plains’ Wulin world in complete confusion [orig. sky and earth turning upside down]; even Yuwen Huaji was injured and forced to return. Clearly he has real talent and is a solid material.”
Remembering Fu Junchuo, the two boys’ throat choked and they did not feel like eating anymore.
This moment the ugly maid returned. Shang Ming and the others, all three people revealed a disgusted look on their faces.
The ugly maid saluted, and then hoarsely and crudely said, “Princess wants to see Xu Ziling.”
Kou Zhong was baffled, “What about me?” he asked.
The ugly maid shook her head coldly, but did not say anything.
Shang Ming and the others also showed a surprised look; especially Shang Ming, his expression looked quite unnatural.
“Why haven’t you followed me?” the ugly maid urged.
Having no other choice, Xu Ziling shrugged his shoulders.
Finally Xu Ziling set his foot on the cabin deck below the main deck. On the surface there did not seem to be any differences; there was also a long corridor, with more than a dozen doors lining both sides of the hallway, but the decoration was a lot more exquisite. From the ceiling of the hallway hung down more than a dozen delicate chandeliers, shining their lights on decorative pattern carved subtly along the wall of the hallways. Underneath his feet was plain green carpet embroidered with geometric patterns like moss on grass, like uninhabited, calm and quiet meadows.
The ugly maid led the way silently, until they arrived at the door at the end of the hallway, where she turned around and said, “You wait here. When Princess is ready to see you, she will call you.”
Finished speaking, she left.
Xu Ziling thought in his heart that this Dong Ming Princess really had a big ego; if she did not have time to talk, she could always summon him a bit later.
Up to this moment he still did not understand why Dong Ming Princess wanted to see him alone. But just as quick his mind turned to the account book.
If this account book really did exist, would it be kept in this room?
The door and the walls of this cabin were extremely solid; breaking in would not be easy at all.
While he was indulging himself in flights of fancy, a sweet, tender, but icy-cold voice sounded in his ears, “Come in!”
Ysabel, Anh, Jaya, Faerro, HPC, you are welcome. Sky, since neither of us have read the story, we'll have to wait. But just by reading this part, I am convinced that Princess likes Xu Ziling.
With curious mind Xu Ziling pushed the door and walked in. His eyes lit up instantly, for this room was unusually spacious, with adequate illumination, and all four walls were lined up with bookshelves and bookcases. There was also a large desk by the window.
A young woman, in the prime of her youth, wearing purple-red clothes, was sitting on the desk with her back facing him, leaning over the desk as if she was hard at work. Her long, shiny, jet-black hair hung down to her back, giving him a soft, delicate and charming feeling.
Xu Ziling bowed to salute and said, “Xu Ziling pays his respect to Princess!”
Turning her head slightly, the woman only gave him a quick, cold glance, before turning her attention back to the desk and continued writing fine and dense characters on the file in front of her.
Xu Ziling, on the other hand, was shaken to his core. Not only because her beauty was extremely startling, but also because she invoked a familiar feeling, as if he had seen her not too long ago.
The glance she was giving him just a moment ago exuding some kind of loathing look, which made Xu Ziling felt even more that something was not quite right.
This moment he was standing behind her back, staring blankly; he felt that speaking was inappropriate, leaving was even more not appropriate; he was in a very awkward situation.
Dong Ming Princess’ voice was heard, “Why switch from arrogance to deference? Just based on this fact alone, it is clear to me that you are a despicable man.”
Xu Ziling was startled, “Have I really met Princess?” he asked.
Dong Ming Princess Shan Wanjing suddenly stood up and turned around. Her beautiful and elegant eyes were shooting deep hatred as she stared mercilessly at him, “Aren’t you Zhang San or Li Si? How come you have forgotten this easily?”
Xu Ziling was shaken. “My Niang, so it is you!” he exclaimed.
Yesterday the two boys had just arrived at Pengcheng, they went to a restaurant to have a meal, and came across a woman who disguised herself as a man. They thought she was an enemy sent by Shen Luoyan to swindle them, hence they treated her without any trace of politeness at all. How could they know that unexpectedly she was the Dong Ming Princess in his presence right now?
Involuntarily Xu Ziling’s eyes wandered toward her pair of long legs, which evoked his memory.
“What are you looking at?” Shan Wanjing angrily said.
Agape and tongue-tied, Xu Ziling stammered, “I … hey! The other day we thought …”
Shan Wanjing regained her calm instead; she said indifferently, “No need to explain; even if you do, I won’t listen to you. I called you to come here this time, is because I want to tell you in person that even though you have given our Sect a huge favor, but we have also saved you, the two little kids, from Du Fuwei’s hands. Tit for tat, let’s consider we are even.”
Seeing that she treated him as the enemy, and was unwilling to listen to explanation, Xu Ziling was rather put off by her capricious muleheadedness. Yet looking at her poetry-like, sunshine-like, graceful and alluring jade countenance, he simply could not get angry with her. He could only waved his hand in a ‘not-a-big-deal’ way and said, “It is best that we consider it even, then we all go our separate ways; hereafter clear gratitude and absolute justice have nothing to do with each other. Ha!”
The last ‘ha!’ exclamation was because he recalled that the last sentence was Kou Zhong’s pet phrase.
But Shan Wanjing’s jade countenance turned cold; she spoke furiously, “Gratitude is considered done, now is the time we ought to consider the grudges.”
Xu Ziling was shocked, “What grudges to consider?” he asked.
Shan Wanjing took a deep breath and said, “I really don’t understand why Niang thinks so highly of you, two kids who are covered all over with vulgarity. The first time I saw you, I already loathe you.”
Xu Ziling smiled wryly and said, “If elegance and vulgarity became the criteria, we certainly don’t have any qualifications to be measured by Princess’ elegant eyes. But if Princess uses elegance and vulgarity to determine gratitude and grudges, I am afraid Princess would have grudges against most people walking down the street.”
Actually, even Shan Wanjing herself did not understand why she had so much hatred toward the dignified young man in front of her. “Don’t blather!” she angrily said, “I am referring to the insulting remark you hurled at me the other day. Others greeted you politely with good intention, yet you unexpectedly could be that rude.”
Xu Ziling breathed a sigh of relief, “This will be easier to deal with,” he said, “That day was just a misunderstanding. We thought …” His gaze landed on the desktop, immediately he was shaken and shut his mouth.
Heavens! Isn’t that the account book we are supposed to steal?
But Dong Ming Princess thought that he was unable to put forward any convincing arguments, so it was hard for him to continue. Her face turned as cold as water as she said, “You have nothing to say then don’t say it! Now I am going to strike you with one palm, the target will be the pit of your stomach. If you cannot evade it, you’ll pay for it with your life.”
Xu Ziling came to his senses. Terrified, he said, “We did not have past enmity, we do not have current hatred, Princess must not use violence.”
Shan Wanjing calmed down. She said indifferently, “I am about to strike.”
Xu Ziling was so scared he took two steps back; waving his hand he said, “Any problem we can talk it over slowly. Ah!”
Shan Wanjing’s body suddenly shot forward with raised right palm; lightly it floated indeterminately toward the pit of his stomach.
Xu Ziling did not have time to think; focusing his attention to the palm, he saw that this jade palm, which appeared, soft and powerless, without raising any gust of wind at all, as if she only wanted to touch him, was actually following certain subtle striking trajectory toward him, yet it continuously changed, so that it was very difficult to pin down.
The strange thing was that he seemed to be able to clearly grasp her changes, so much so that he could grasp her next move.
But he also knew that if he let her hit the pit of his stomach, he might really die, finished, met his worst fate.
Right in this moment between life and death, he did not dare to be careless. His broadsword left its scabbard and lightning fast it chopped toward her jade palm.
Shan Wanjing let out a cold sneer and darted faster forward, while raising her left hand high, the back of her hand swept across the blade of the saber; it was indeed a very ruthless move in close-combat.
Who would have thought that Xu Ziling’s saber suddenly changed direction? He abruptly pulled out the back of the saber to slice the opening on the wrist of her right palm, which has not changed its attacking direction.
Shan Wanjing did not expect him to be able to use the saber with such agility. If she wanted to evade, it would be as easy as a hand’s turn; but she already said that she would only send one palm strike, how could she fail to hold on to her words? Clenching her silver teeth, her left hand changed, now she wanted to grab and snatch the blade of the saber, while at the same time she leaned sideways to butt herself against Xu Ziling’s chest. Her right hand magically changed into millions of palm shadows; she was unleashing her real skill to the fullest.
Although earlier she said that she had malicious intention, the reality was that she only wanted to beat him up that he would fall with all four limbs facing the sky; hence she could vent the resentment in her heart. But now that she was forced to go all-out, it was hard to attack and defend as she wished.
Xu Ziling recalled the house lizard he saw as he woke up this morning, instinctively he evaded by sliding sideways. Not only Shan Wanjing’s left hand grabbed an empty air, his saber actually sliced the millions of her right palm shadows, which filled the air.
Shan Wanjing had never expected that his response was so brilliant and quick; it was even harder for her to hold back. Exerting her most refined, outstanding technique, first, her palm slapped the blade of Xu Ziling’s saber and attached itself on it, like a shadow the palm followed wherever Xu Ziling moved his saber; while the back of her other palm struck Xu Ziling on the pit of his stomach.
Xu Ziling let out a miserable scream as he was thrown backward and crashed through the door, until finally he landed on the hallway outside. While he was still on the air he already spurted a mouthful of fresh blood, all the way until he fell heavily on the carpet outside the door.
Shan Wanjing was shocked.
As she was about to run out to see the outcome, Madame Dong Ming’s voice already arrived, “What happened?”
Shan Wanjing halted her steps and coldly said, “This man had offended daughter; even he’s dead he deserves it.”
Madame Dong Ming appeared on the door; she wore a lake-green colored beautiful gown, her beautiful, thick hair was rolled up in a bun high on her head, her overall appearance was graceful and elegant, but her face was covered with a layer of thin gauze, like a dense fog concealing her countenance.
From the other side of the hallway came more voices; apparently the sound of fighting had alerted the others.
After staring at Shan Wanjing for quite a while, Madame Dong Ming looked down to examine Xu Ziling.
After his qi was blocked, Xu Ziling slowly regained his consciousness. When he was struck by her palm a moment ago, he felt as if all the channels in his entire body were about to burst open, the pain was like ‘one Buddha came into being, two Buddha ascending the heaven’ [not sure what it means], but after sprouting a mouthful of blood, the qi at the sole of his feet was unimpeded, the pain lessened considerably.
Hurriedly he crawled up and while massaging the pit of his stomach, he said with a bitter smile, “I am alright, Princess is indeed formidable. Ha!”
Unexpectedly he laughed and staggered away. The only thing in his mind was that tempting account book lying around on her desk.
At first he did not feel comfortable in this stealing-the-account-book matter, but now he the mental barrier was no longer there.