Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan is a Webnovel produced by Huang Yi.
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Book 12 Chapter 7 – Chance Encounter with Stunning Beauty
Three shadows leaped down from a giant boulder about three zhang tall, none of them was lucky enough to escape falling into knee-deep gra.s.s, gasping for breath, and unable to get up.
Xu Ziling was exhausted from the bitter fight plus he suffered injuries; after running away for close to two sichen, he was approaching the dried-out-oil-lamp condition.
Ba Fenghan was seriously injured to begin with; after spending quite a bit of true qi, he was weary and unable to stand.
Kou Zhong’s condition was not any better. Earlier he was transmitting his internal energy to heal Ba Fenghan; when he heard Qu Ao’s laughter, in his anxiety he tried to increase his effort by rushing the flow of qi to open up Ba Fenghan’s blocked meridians. And then with excessive loss of energy he had to run for such a long distance; so now he was simply too tired.
Kou Zhong forced himself to roll so that he was facing the sky; scanning the area around, he saw under the moon light that they were surrounded by endless ups and downs silhouette of mountain tops and wild ridges. With a bitter laugh he said, “Are we lost? How come we still can’t see the shadow of the city of Luoyang?”
Gasping for breath, Ba Fenghan said, “I looked at the stars in the sky to navigate our way, I am sure we are not lost; we ought to at least reach the south bank of the Great River.”
Xu Ziling shouted in low voice, “Get up and train!”
“What?” Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan blurted together.
Setting up an example, Xu Ziling struggled as hard as he could to sit up; although he was swaying and staggering, his voice was full of determination, “Ol’ Ba was the one who said this: if what we are training is first-cla.s.s martial art, the thing we must avoid at all cost is that when we are weary we abandon everything as if we are paralyzed. Therefore, we must grasp this rare opportunity to withstand the exhaustion with iron will. Do you understand?”
Smiling ruefully, Ba Fenghan said, “Xu Shifu’s admonition is correct.” Copying Xu Ziling, he struggled to sit up.
Kou Zhong also struggled to get up, but raised his tiger-body even more; standing upright and unafraid, he said, “To me, standing up is a bit more natural.”
The other two did not have enough strength to pay him any attention; closing their eyes, they went into meditation.
They all understood that this was the only way to survive. If they could restore their spirit and physical strength, either fighting or escaping would be a lot more convenient.
In fact, it was a race of power and stamina.
Originally it was only people of Wanwan and Qu Ao’s caliber who could keep up with them, the others were left far behind. But they already wasted a lot of time by repeatedly stopping either to rest or to treat injuries, so the situation may have changed.
※ ※ ※
Just before dawn, Kou Zhong suddenly shouted loudly. When Xu Ziling and Ba Fenghan opened their eyes with a start, Kou Zhong was leaping in the air, the Moon in the Well struck down a strange bird flying overhead.
The two had just waked up from the deepest breathing exercise, so they did not know why Kou Zhong did what he did.
‘Squack!’ the strange bird cried out and flew sideways to evade toward the top of the spa.r.s.e wood on the left.
Kou Zhong sent out a burst of finger wind from his left hand to strike the strange bird.
As if it had eyes on its back, the bird flapped its wing to fly diagonally up, but the tip of its left wing was still swept by Kou Zhong’s finger wind. Uttering a sad cry, like a drunk it fell into the forest.
As if he was fighting an archenemy, Kou Zhong pursued into the forest.
Meeting Ba Fenghan’s questioning look, Xu Ziling said, “I remember now. That must be the feathered beast raised by Shen Luoyan especially for finding the enemy; it was extremely mystical.”
Ba Fenghan’s countenance changed, “That means Li Mi has more or less grasp our location, hence he released the strange bird in this area to look for us.”
Xu Ziling silently examined his condition, and found out that he has recovered about sixty, seventy-percent of his strength; the weariness has gone completely. “How’s your condition?” he asked.
Sneering, Ba Fenghan said, “Outside the Great Wall, I don’t know how many times I have been injured; at least it was ten times more serious than this. It’s nothing!”
This moment Kou Zhong came back, disgruntled and upset. “It slipped away,” he said hatefully, “But it won’t fly too far; that feathered beast relies on two wings to obtain balance, but since one side is wounded, it will be like us turning crippled. Ha!”
The two smiled without saying anything.
By dawn, the three felt their spirit rose, as if they had just regained their lives and felt wonderful.
Returning the saber to its scabbard, Kou Zhong said with a laugh, “Which way?”
Ba Fenghan’s eyes flashed with cold rays; turning his gaze to the north, he said, “We’ll go down to the Great River first, and then we’ll find a way to get a boat to save our leg muscles!”
※ ※ ※
The three men gave it all as they unleashed their qinggong, while using the hiding-their-track technique, to cover several dozen of li of distance to the north. The sun has not reached its zenith yet when they slowed down to preserve their physical strength and true qi, while looking around to examine their surroundings.
Pointing to the northwest, Ba Fenghan said, “Luoyang and Yanshi should be that direction, but if we ran along a straight line, it would be strange indeed if we did not enter into the enemy’s inescapable net.”
Kou Zhong was visibly moved; he said, “In that case, let’s go to Yanshi first!”
Naturally Xu Ziling knew that he wanted to go to Yanshi in search of w.a.n.g Shichong, in order to offer him advice on how to deal with Li Mi.
Ba Fenghan, on the other hand, was slightly surprised, “Didn’t you want to go to Luoyang in a hurry?”
A bit awkward, Kou Zhong replied, “One of the reasons I want to go to Luoyang is to look for w.a.n.g Shichong, but I heard Li Mi said that he was leading his troops to Yanshi city. Since we are on our way over there, I want to talk to him a little bit!”
Ba Fenghan laughed involuntarily, “Don’t invent crazy nonsense!” he said, “Do you think I don’t know that you, Zhong Shao, want to kill using borrowed knife? Just like Ziling, I don’t give a [email protected] about this vying-over-the-world business; but since we know each other, and I have nothing important to attend to, coming with you to join the fun is not a big deal.”
Kou Zhong was happy, “I didn’t know you are such a true friend.”
By this time the three of them were staring to climb on a hill; they saw a small village down below with several dozens of homes, but there was no liveliness, apparently it was an abandoned village.
In this age of chaos, abandon villages like this one could be seen anywhere, so nothing surprising here.
But Ba Fenghan suddenly halted his steps and spoke in low voice, “Somebody’s in the village!”
Following him, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling also stopped; concentrating their attention, they noticed that all doors and windows were shut tight, the buildings were dilapidated with the paint peeled off. There was really not much different to the abandoned villages they had seen previously.
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “I am having similar feeling, like something is not right. Ol’ Ba, what did you find?”
Ba Fenghan replied heavily, “I just saw a flicker from the crack of one of the windows; must be an eye reflecting the light. I am so sure about it.”
Grabbing his head, Kou Zhong said, “Who could it be?”
“Perhaps somebody who has nothing to do with us,” Xu Ziling tried to a.n.a.lyze, “If it were Shen Luoyan or Yin Gui Pai people, why so sneaky?”
“Xiao Ling is right,” Kou Zhong said, “So what are we going to do? Shall we make a detour?”
Ba Fenghan smiled and said, “Since he is contending for the hegemony over the world, Zhong Shao’s guts have become smaller. But being careful has its own pros and cons; if we take a detour and b.u.mp into the enemy instead, it is not worth it.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Enough thinking and bulls.h.1.tting, let’s go!”
Taking the lead, he ran down the slope.
Chapter 7 – Part 2
Adopting a relaxed att.i.tude, the three strolled over the village’s entrance.
To their left and right, rows of houses extended into the distance, but everything was as quiet as a ghost domain.
Suddenly the sound of hoof beats was heard from the other side of the village, and was coming very fast.
c.o.c.king his ear, Ba Fenghan frowned and said, “If we continued walking like this, we will meet with the incoming riders just outside the village. Do you want to find a building to hide and see what is going on?”
Out of curiosity, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling nodded in agreement. Thereupon the trio quickened their pace into the village, and after peeking into a house and made sure there was no one inside, they twisted and broke the door lock, pushed the door and went in.
Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan separately picked two windows facing the street, and pushed the windows a crack to peek outside.
This moment the sound of hoof beats was getting louder and clearer; it sounded like in the time required to drink a cup of hot tea, the riders would arrive here.
Frowning, Ba Fenghan said, “It sounds like there are forty to fifty riders, all are expert equestrians, the hoof beats are orderly and even. Only those who are well-trained through long-time cooperation will have this kind of momentum.”
Kou Zhong said, “The strangest thing is that the hooves started suddenly, like they had waited some place and then suddenly moved together, straight toward this direction. I wonder, are they coming for us?”
Meanwhile Xu Ziling was walking toward the back door. Pushing the door open, he saw a big courtyard, and beyond that were the bedrooms. Hearing Kou Zhong’s remark, his heart was moved; he said, “Could it be that ahead is the place where the Great River flows through, and these men had just disembarked from a boat?”
Both Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong felt that that was a reasonable explanation. The former spoke in heavy voice, “If that is so, then in case we get separated during escape later, let’s make a secret mark on the south back of the River to indicate where to meet, and then we’ll go to Yanshi together to see the Old w.a.n.g.”
The two boys nodded their agreement.
Right this moment, Xu Ziling heard a barely detectable sound of breathing from the last room on the back. His curiosity was piqued, he said, “I am going to the back to take a look!”
Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong’s attention was fixed on the situation at the front of the house; they simply nodded slightly. Xu Ziling crossed over the threshold and stepped into the courtyard.
Relying on what he heard just now, Xu Ziling tried pushing the door to the side room on the left. The wooden door opened easily. Xu Ziling looked inside and was startled.
He saw a healthy and beautiful young woman clad in black warrior outfit, sprawling on the bed under gauzed bed screen; her eyes were closed, and she lay still.
Through the gauze curtain, he could see that the woman’s jade skin was unusually white like snow. Black outfit, white skin, the contrast was eye-catching. Her black eyebrows curved up into her temples, her jet-black hair was tied on the top into a beautiful bun, with a tuft of bangs gently cascaded on her forehead. The corners of her eyes curved upward. The one feature giving the deepest impression on others was her straight nose, which matched impeccably with her slightly high cheekbones, giving her the haughty air without compromising her charm and elegance.
Her rosy lips curled into a touching expression of like a smile, but not quite a smile, as if she was in the middle of a sweet dream.
Xu Ziling’s first thought was Wanwan; but then he decided that this pretty girl before his eyes did not appear to be a female demon from Yin Gui Pai, because this woman carried some kind of cheerful personality, which was vastly different from Wanwan, Dan Mei, or Bai Qing’er, with their seducing but chilling beauty.
After staring blankly for half a day, Xu Ziling finally stepped into the room, walked over to the bed, and opened the gauzed curtain.
Even with his strong mental power against women’s charms, he could not help sighing in admiration in his heart.
In tight outfit, her slim figure with all the exquisite curves were in full display, so that he was lost in reverie.
With no curtain separating them, her facial lines looked even more distinct that he was shaken to the core. Her beautiful eyes were deep under her handsome eyebrows. Her two fragrant lips, br.i.m.m.i.n.g with an air of aristocracy were tightly closed, her breathing was as light and gentle as the brushing wind after sunrise during an early spring day.
Even though she was fast asleep, Xu Ziling’s gut feeling was telling him that she was a playful, lively and charming girl.
Her beauty was not inferior to the sleeping Wanwan.
In that moment, Xu Ziling has completely forgotten about the thundering hooves about to enter the north entrance to the village.
The beauty’s eyelashes fluttered for a moment, and then her eyes opened. Looking at him, she broke into a sweet smile, revealing a row of neat, white and beautiful teeth.
※ ※ ※
Outside, Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong sensed that Xu Ziling must have had encountered something unusual, but since they did not hear any sound of fighting, plus the riders have already entered the village, their attention was still focused on the street outside the window.
Amid the thunderous hooves, more than 40 riders galloped into the village; each and every one of them wore tight warrior outfit, and each one carried some sort of weapon.
The leader was big fierce-looking man, with a double-saber hanging across his back, his pair of eyes was flickering with spirit; evidently he was a martial art master adept in inside and outside skills.
None of the others did not look tough. They all moved in a precise, almost uniform, way; apparently they were used to working together.
As the leader reined his horse to a stop, the others quickly scattered to the four winds to guard all paths within the village.
Ba Fenghan moved to Kou Zhong’s side and while looking outside, he said in a low voice, “This man is called ‘Double Sabers’ Du Ganmu. I’ve met him once in Luoyang. I think he is a great general under King Dong of Yue’s chancellor Yuan Wendu, the most prominent martial art master of present day Luliang Pai. His mastery of the double sabers is indeed not bad.”
Kou Zhong thought that if even the proud and arrogant Ba Fenghan could say that this man was ‘not bad’, then he must really knew a thing or two. He also felt that this name Luliang Pai sounded familiar. After thinking about it for a moment, he remembered the sweetheart Qin Shubao secretly in love with, which was the daughter of Luliang Pai’s Master [see Book 3 Chapter 3], and thought what a coincidence.
King Dong of Yue was the self-proclaimed emperor of Luoyang, and w.a.n.g Shichong was merely his minister.
Du Ganmu made a signal, the riders dismounted and began to search the entire village.
※ ※ ※
As Xu Ziling’s eyes met the pair of beautiful and bright eyes that was br.i.m.m.i.n.g with challenge, his heart was slightly shaken. The woman suddenly stretched out her spotless and delicate lily-white hand, and said with a smile, “How about helping me up?”
Xu Ziling hesitated for half a day before grabbing her dainty, slender jade palm; immediately a warm, soft and tender feeling penetrated the bottom of his heart; his mind was swept away.
Helped by him, the woman pulled her tender body up. Lowering her head, she giggled tenderly and said, “Thank you,” and then she scooted to the edge of the bed, patted the empty s.p.a.ce next to her and said, “Can you sit down? Let’s talk!”
Frowning, Xu Ziling said, “Aren’t those people outside looking for you? And you still have time to chat?”
The beauty c.o.c.ked her head to listen, her demeanor was enchanting; looking startled, she said, “Those wicked people are coming to capture nujia! You must help me; other than qinggong, my martial art skills are sloppy and very ordinary.”
Her eyes were like a pair of stars rippling in a vast and deep autumn pool; extremely appealing. Especially when she spoke, her eyes and facial expression were changing continuously, just like a series of ripples, so that those who look at her could not help having his heart shaken and his spirit moved.
Xu Ziling could not refrain from asking, “Miss, who are you? Who are those wicked people outside?”
The beauty rose up to her full height. Turned out she was only about two cun shorter than the tall, straight as a ramrod Xu Ziling; her figure was graceful, slender and tall.
Without any trace of politeness she sat at the chair at the corner of the room; leaning her small cicada head against the back of the air, she closed her eyes and blew out a mouthful of fragrant breath. “I am dead tired!” she said.
And then she opened her beautiful eyes again and cheerfully said, “I saw you when you entered the village; you appeared to be heroes with lofty quality, so I knew you must be chivalrous heroes and would never harm this weak and helpless woman, am I right? Oh! I almost forget to tell you, my name is Dong Shuni. w.a.n.g Shichong is my [older maternal] uncle.”
Hearing that, Xu Ziling was dumbfounded; turned out the woman before his eyes was the Luoyang beauty that Ba Fenghan mentioned earlier, Dong Shuni.
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