Thursday, 28 January 2016

Chapter 106 - Inquire


The whistling sound of the wind, the bleak and dreary ancient path, solitary stretched ahead.

Zhou YiXian and his granddaughter Xiao Huan had already left the death marsh and had been travelling towards the East for the past three days.

Right in the middle of this day, they were still walking on the ancient path, just that the originally flat wildness on both sides of the ancient path were gradually being replaced by forest hills.

Zhou YiXian looked ahead and saw a dilapidated stone pavilion, he was just feeling tired from all the walking so he turned around and spoke to Xiao Huan, “Let’s go over there to take a rest.”

Xiao Huan acknowledged and then turned back to look, her eyes brimming with smiles and said, “Priest, let’s go take a rest together!”

Wild Dog Taoist who was following behind them, smiled and nodded. Initially after leaving the death marsh, Wild Dog Taoist for some reasons, followed Zhou YiXian and Xiao Huan from afar and made Zhou YiXian uneasy in the beginning. But a few days ago, after the sudden meeting with that middle-aged man who called himself Wan RenWang, Xiao Huan spoke a few words to him and they became closer, these few days they became even closer and now he followed directly behind them.

Zhou YiXian walked into the pavilion and watched Wild Dog Taoist followed Xiao Huan in. He was not as polite as Xiao Huan to Wild Dog, he rolled his eyes and suddenly enigmatically said, “I say Wild Dog Taoist, why do you keep following the both of us? We are all paupers and there is nothing for you to rob.”

Wild Dog Taoist glared at Zhou YiXian and answered back sarcastically, “Stinky old fellow, pretending to be poor again, don’t assume I don’t know there is something strange with your that bamboo pole!”

Zhou YiXian and Xiao Huan were both stunned. Zhou YiXian, like his bottom being burned by fire, jumped up, his face flushed red and angrily said, “Good fellow, old man me knew it that you are not a good person and as expected you are coveting my money.”

Wild Dog Taoist rolled his eyes and before he could speak, he heard Xiao Huan beside him spoke in surprise, “Priest, how did you know?”

Once Xiao Huan spoke, Wild Dog Taoist for some reasons, he lowered his voice suddenly, hesitated for a moment and awkwardly spoke to Xiao Huan, “He is holding that bamboo pole everyday, even hugging it in his sleep. Putting that aside, he, after every while, will subconsciously caress the bamboo pole. Looking at that scene, an idiot will also know there is something strange with that bamboo pole.”

Xiao Huan [pu chi] laughed out. Zhou YiXian’s old face turned red, snorted and turned his head away, suddenly he felt that this was really too embarrassing, turned back and angrily said to Wild Dog Taoist, “Even if there is something strange with my bamboo pole, it is not for you to be concern about. So why don’t you say, why do you keep following us?”

Wild Dog Taoist was stunned and turned speechless.

Zhou YiXian immediately became conceited and a smile appeared on his face, he pointed at Wild Dog Taoist and said, “Ha, don’t think this old man doesn’t know, you little guy drooling over my money and our Xiao Huan’s beauty, all day long plotting…”

“Grandfather!” Xiao Huan turned red and loudly called out at Zhou YiXian.

Zhou YiXian then realized his words were inappropriate but his old face was unwilling to be pulled down, he stammered and said, “Say, right or not…”

Wild Dog Taoist sneaked a look at Xiao Huan, that young girl’s fair and white skin right now had a blush of red, with a faint shyness but her eyes were like stars, sparkling, a beauty of youthfulness like right in his face. Wild Dog suddenly felt an inexplicable inferiority and dipped his head down.

Xiao Huan glared at her grandfather, Zhou YiXian. Since young she had roamed the earth with Zhou YiXian and widened her knowledge, naturally she was more liberal than the other young girls, right now she turned and spoke to Wild Dog Taoist, “Priest, don’t listen to my grandfather babbles, his dog mouth will not spit out ivory…”

Zhou YiXian was enraged and said, “You dare to call your grandfather dog, clearly that fellow is then the wild dog!”

Xiao Huan stuck out her tongue, made a face at Wild Dog. A [weng] sound went off in Wild Dog’s head, he felt that his eyes were full of this beautiful face and would not take in any more colors, and did not even care that Zhou YiXian was mocking him.

Zhou YiXian angrily turned his head around and spoke to Wild Dog, “Hey, you still have not say why you are following us! If you give us a good reason, old man me will let you follow; if you can’t, then I will let you know my might!”

Wild Dog slowly turned away and was quiet for a long while, he said, “I also don’t know.”

“Ha!” Zhou YiXian [ha ha] laughed loudly, his face gleeful.

Xiao Huan instead looked at Wild Dog Taoist, she curiously asked, “Priest, what is it? Couldn’t it be that you are homeless?”

Wild Dog gave a wry laugh and said, “You are right.” Without knowing why, he seemed to be especially willing to speak in front of this young lady, once he started, without rhyme or reason he continued on: ”Since young, I have a strange appearance, after I was born, my parents, like I was a monster, threw me into the wilds, leaving me to my fate…”

“Ah!” Xiao Huan covered her mouth with her hand, shocked. Zhou YiXian instead rolled his eyes, his expression doubting.

Wild Dog Taoist continued on, “Later on I was found by a group of wild dogs, surprisingly they did not eat me and instead, brought food in their mouths to feed me. So ever since I grown up, I have always called myself Wild Dog.”

Zhou YiXian gave another sneer again but Xiao Huan was full of concentration, nodded slightly.

Wild Dog Taoist ignored Zhou YiXian, smiled to Xiao Huan and said, “Therefore since young I did not have a home, if I must name one then the dog kennel is my home. Later on a senior from the previous generation of Blood Forger Hall met me by chance and took pity on me, the senior accepted me into the sect and taught me skills, from then on, I regard Blood Forger Hall as my home.”

Zhou YiXian sneered and said, “Then you should return to Blood Forger Hall, why loiter around the whole day outside?”

Wild Dog Taoist lowered his head, his face solemn and after a long while he said, “Blood Forger Hall had already been extinguished by Ghost King sect, the one who led the extermination was the Ghost Li that you all had seen before.”

“What?” both Zhou YiXian and Xiao Huan were shocked. The internal fights within the Evil Sect were intensely cruel but it was not broadcast to the outside world therefore the fact that Ghost King Sect had swallowed up Blood Forger Hall, Zhou YiXian and the rest did not know. But although both were shocked at the same time, their reactions were different.

Zhou YiXian frowned and seemed like he thought of something, after a long while he shook his head, sighed and said, “A pity! When it was Elder BlackHeart’s time, how powerful the Blood Forger Hall was, sigh…”

But Xiao Huan did not dwell on it so much and after being shocked, she instead thought of something and said, “So it was that Ghost Li who led men to exterminate all of you, then why do you still follow him?”

The corner of Wild Dog Taoist’s mouth twitched once, slowly he briefly explained things to her.

Xiao Huan humphed after listening, said to Zhou YiXian, “Nian Leader those people, are really without any backbone.”

Zhou YiXian instead glared at her and said, “You being so young, what do you know about having backbone or not? If it’s life and death, not everyone has that backbone.”

Xiao Huan pouted and said, “Then isn’t Wild Dog Taoist rather die than surrender?”

Zhou YiXian glanced at Wild Dog, nodded and said, “I couldn’t tell in the past that you actually have this kind of backbone, not easy. But in these few years, that Ghost Li known as Xue GongZi, killed numerous people, why is it that only you were let off?”

Wild Dog Taoist shook his head and said, “I do not know too.”

Zhou YiXian pondered silently, his eyes reflecting his deep thoughts, the usual cheeky face gradually disappeared. Wild Dog Taoist saw that Zhou YiXian suddenly revealed such an expression which was greatly different from his usual self and could not help but be shocked. However Xiao Huan happened to speak up at this moment and his attention got pulled away.

Xiao Huan took a few glances at him and said in a low voice, “Then you just follow him all day long, don’t you feel terrible? He extinguished the Blood Forger Hall which you have great gratitude to, you must have hated him a lot?”

Wild Dog felt lost for a moment and then kept quiet, after a long time he slowly shook his head, bewilderedly said, “I also don’t know. Initially I abhorred that person but in this recent period, I came to slowly realize, actually what is the point of blaming him? Even if it was not him, not Ghost King Sect, Wan Du Clan and HeHuan Sect too will do the same thing, it’s just that Ghost King Sect came first that’s all.”

“Hmm?” Xiao Huan had not respond, Zhou YiXian instead sounded surprised, measured Wild Dog Taoist anew from top to bottom, looked as if he was looking at him in a different light and said, “You actually thought of that, I underestimate you.”

Wild Dog Taoist rolled his eyes at Zhou YiXian, obviously not interested in Zhou YiXian’s praise. Zhou YiXian was slighted, [he he] laughed and was not angry at all.

Wild Dog Taoist glanced at Xiao Huan, saw her bright-like-water eyes, shimmering like in motion, it was really soul-moving and for some unknown reasons, he did not dare to look longer, lowered his head and said, “That day when I came out from the death marsh, I was feeling extremely vex that I would be among those Ghost King Sect people the whole day, especially occasionally I would still encounter Nian Leader and the rest, just nice that I saw both of you and for reasons that I too do not know, I just followed along.”

Wild Dog Taoist seemed to recall something, he abruptly looked up and told Xiao Huan, “But I never have any intention to harm you all, I myself also do not know why, maybe I was just wandering around! If...if you are not willing then I will go right now.”

Xiao Huan smiled and said, “It’s alright! I don’t mind. Then you shall follow us from now! Anyway the world is so big, I think you don’t have anywhere to go too.”

Zhou YiXian got a shock, pulled Xiao Huan over and whispered, “Stupid girl, for what did you impetuously arranged to have this fellow follow us?”

Xiao Huan rolled her eyes at her grandfather, said, “What this fellow that fellow, he has a name alright. And to add on, he didn’t have bad intention and is just only following us, what is there to fear?”

Zhou YiXian angrily said, “You this young lady don’t know how high the sky and how deep the earth is, he is indeed a notorious person from the Evil Sect, heard that before…”

Zhou YiXian suddenly stopped, Xiao Huan stared at him, said, “How was he before? Why don’t you say what unpardonably wicked deeds of his that you have heard of?”

Zhou YiXian scratched his head, thought for half a day, embarrassedly said, “Seems like I have never heard of him doing anything…”

Xiao Huan [pu chi] laughed out, was about to turn around, Zhou YiXian grabbed her and said, “But if you allow this person to be around us, surely there isn’t any good benefit! Why are you doing this?”

Xiao Huan blandly said, “Seemed like yesterday night when we passed by a deserted post, a wild boar ran out from the side of the road, Grandfather you were hiding very far away, it was this priest who dashed up and chased the wild boar away, if not for me, this weak girl, would have to face a big wild boar by myself.”

Zhou YiXian turned red and said, “I, this old man, is aged and weak, how can I stop a big wild boar? Besides, are you sure you are considered a weak girl, don’t even mention wild boar, even if a tiger comes along you will still…”

Xiao Huan suddenly coughed, Zhou YiXian also did not continue.

Xiao Huan turned back, smiled sweetly at Wild Dog Taoist who was sitting by the side and said, “Priest, so in the future we will have to trouble you to take more care of us.”

Wild Dog stood up in a hurry and said, “No, no such thing, if there is any hard labour, just let me do it.”

Zhou YiXian humphed in a distance.

At this moment, a cold and calm voice was heard outside the pavilion, saying, “So there you are.”

Wild Dog Taoist’s body shook, he turned around to look, Xiao Huan beside him had already exclaimed, “Ah! It's you!”

On the ancient path outside the stone pavilion, a young man stood there, expressionless, a grey fur monkey crouching on his shoulder, it was Ghost Li.

This was just the beginning of fall, although it was noon but it was not as sweltering hot like summer, an occasional cool breeze blew past the stone pavilion from time to time.

Just that inside the stone pavilion, the ambience with the arrival of this uninvited guest, Ghost Li, suddenly turned quiet.

Wild Dog Taoist’s face turned red and then white while sitting by the side, his eyes staring on the ground, looking quite nervous. Ghost Li still expressionlessly stood at the other side, did not pay any more attention on Wild Dog Taoist and instead was looking at Zhou YiXian.

Xiao Huan glanced at Wild Dog Taoist then at Ghost Li, after a long time carefully said, “Hm, Zhang...Ghost Li GongZi, why, why have you come?”

Ghost Li looked at her and said, “I came to look for your grandfather.”

Zhou YiXian was stunned and said, “Looking for me?”

Ghost Li nodded and said, “Yes, I will like to consult senior on one question.”

Xiao Huan immediately was relieved, secretly smiled at Wild Dog and assured him then she curiously asked Ghost Li, “Ah! You are such a powerful person, what will you like to ask my grandfather?”

While conversing, she suddenly saw Xiao Hui who was on Ghost Li’s shoulder, a pair of eyes turning around and grinning right at her, she could not help but felt an instant fancy to it, she smiled and said, “Ha, I was the one who gave you the candied haws! Do you still remember me?”

“Zi zi, zi zi.” The monkey Xiao Hui called out, nodded incessantly and suddenly leapt from Ghost Li’s shoulder into Xiao Huan’s bosom. Seemed like this monkey had an extremely good impression of the candied haws.

Xiao Huan beamed with smiles, stretched her hands out to catch Xiao Hui, unexpectedly when she caught Xiao Hui, her hands sunk down, it was unexpectedly heavy and almost slipped through to the ground. Luckily her reaction was quick and she quickly increased her strength, that stabilized her body and she managed to hold Xiao Hui steadily but in her heart she felt astonished. Just only several days and Xiao Hui’s body too did not seem to grow much but somehow its body weight increased almost half or more, it was really odd!

Ghost Li watched Xiao Huan teased Xiao Hui, laughing [ge ge] non-stop, looking extremely delighted, deep inside his eyes a faint smile seemed to appear but after which it disappeared and he turned over and faced Zhou YiXian.

Zhou YiXian shrugged and said, “I this old man with literary talents of nine dou, have knowledge of six cartloads of books, there is nothing under the sky that I would not know. But you actually came to seek this old man’s advice, this is indeed strange. What is it, why don’t you say?”
[Translator’s note: the correct term is eight dou, it means endowed with unusual literary talents and for six cartloads, the correct term is five cartloads]

Ghost Li did not mind him blowing his own trumpet, indifferently said, “That day in the death marsh, there was a strange person with a fish head which sneaked up on your granddaughter, do you still remember?”

Zhou YiXian was surprised, Wild Dog Taoist and Xiao Huan who were beside, heard it and both looked over.

Xiao Huan while carrying Xiao Hui said, “Right! That monster was extremely ferocious, if not for Ghost Li GongZi and PingEr sister rendering their help in time, I would almost be killed by it.”

Ghost Li was still facing Zhou YiXian and said, “At that time you said that monster was one of the the human fish tribe from the sixty-three tribes of the Southern border, is that right?”

Zhou YiXian thought for a moment, said, “That is right.”

Ghost Li cupped his hands together and said, “I wonder what else does senior knows about this human fish tribe?”

Zhou YiXian glanced at Ghost Li and said, “Why are you suddenly interested in this?”

Ghost Li hesitated for a moment, nodded and said, “Since I have already consult senior, I need no longer hide the rest from you. After all of you left, my men was ambushed by a group that looked similar to that human fish, we had heavy casualties therefore I will like to understand more from senior.”

Zhou YiXian frowned, his body gradually straightened, his eyes reflecting his deep thoughts but he did not speak. Ghost Li was not impatient too and quietly stood by the side. After a long while, Zhou YiXian suddenly said, “Those men that were killed, was it a gruesome death, their bodies mutilated into pieces, too horrible to look at?”

“Ah!” this soft exclamation, was instead made by Xiao Huan, she looked frightened and obviously shocked.

Ghost Li unhurriedly nodded, his eyes looked deeply at this old man in front of him, said, “That’s right, it is indeed.”

Zhou YiXian nodded and said, “Then it will not be wrong, definitely done by the human fish tribe of the Southern Border ten thousand great mountains sixty-three different tribes. This strange tribe branch have weird appearances and already have fish-head-human-body when they were born, according to their tribe legend, they are the descendents of the union between the ancient fish God and a human girl and called themselves the descendents of the God of Fish. This tribe has always been cruel and bloodthirsty and they believe regardless whether it’s animal or human, after slaughtering, they have to chop the body up in order to destroy the soul too, so as to prevent future repercussion. Therefore those killed under their hands, regardless if it’s animal or human, most did not have a whole body remaining.”

Suddenly a strange sound was heard, both of them looked over, Xiao Huan’s face was pale, her eyebrows frowning tightly, looking slightly revolted.

Zhou YiXian shook his head slightly, looked at Xiao Huan, sighed and said, “The world is so huge, how many cruel things that are out there, you still don’t know!”

Ghost Li naturally was not like Xiao Huan but he too frowned his brows and said, “How is it that such savage and barbarian tribe was not heard before?”

Zhou YiXian indifferently said, “You have been staying in Central Plain all these while, naturally you won’t understand this type of wild tribes. Within Southern border ten thousand great mountains, treacherous rapids and barren mountains were everywhere, the people there devour raw meat and fowl, completely different from the civilized people of the Central Plain. But those tribes have always been staying at where their ancestors resided and between the Central Plains and Southern border, there resides one of the world’s three great Good Faction sect, ‘FenXiang Valley’. Occasionally a few of them ran out over here and they were all killed by FenXiang Valley’s disciples using their Taoist family skills, therefore the Central Plains never knew about the Southern border tribes. For me, it was because while I was roaming the world when I was young and had travelled to an area near the Southern border ten thousands great mountains, so I knew one or two things.”

Ghost Li slowly nodded but his eyes gradually brightened and said, “Then according to what senior has said, it is reasonable that occasionally one of them will come running here but such a big group of tribe people quietly entering Central Plains and even till the extent of the death marsh which is at least thousand of miles away from Southern border, is definitely impossible. Unless FenXiang Valley which has been keeping watch on the Southern border, something has happened to it…”

Zhou YiXian suddenly stretched and lazily said, “Then that is your problem, I can’t be bothered.”

Ghost Li pondered for a while and said, “Thank you senior.”

After speaking, he turned over and saw Xiao Huan was hugging Xiao Hui and playing with it.

Xiao Huan saw Ghost Li turning over and could not help but smiled, “This monkey of yours is so adorable! Oh right, why did it gain so much weight suddenly? And, look at this deep grey scar on its forehead, it seems like another eye. He he, isn’t it ah! Monkey?”

Xiao Huan made a face at Xiao Hui, Xiao Hui, [Zi zi, zi zi] grinned, its tail swishing widely behind.

Ghost Li was disconcerted. Ever since that day at the Celestial Emperor Treasury where Xiao Hui had drunk that mysterious liquid and in addition, swallowed that strange stone, it, like being drunk, had slept fully for two days and two nights. After waking up it did not seem to eat much but its weight suddenly increased a lot and its appearance started to alter gradually, its fur turned shiny and glossy, especially that grey scar on its forehead, became more and more defined.

But other then that, Xiao Hui did not seem to change and was still mischievous and greedy. Initially Ghost Li had some worries but as Xiao Hui did not exhibit any strange behaviour, he was not so worried anymore.

Ghost Li paused for a while and turned to look at Wild Dog Taoist. Wild Dog Taoist looked at him, fear showed in his eyes.

Ghost Li indifferently said, “You intend to follow them in the future?”

Wild Dog Taoist hesitated for a moment, said, “Yes.”

Ghost Li said, “What I have said to you before, do you still remember, Nian Leader and those people will come and look for you anytime.”

Wild Dog Taoist’s face became sombre but he glanced at Xiao Huan and said, “I know, I don’t care too, it was them who betrayed the sect and still have the cheek to look for me?”
  
Ghost Li intentionally or unintentionally glanced at Xiao Huan then looked away and said, “Since you want it this way then just do what you like.”

Wild Dog Taoist was stunned, he raised his head and seemed like he did not expect that Ghost Li was so easy-going. Ghost Li ignored him instead and walked to the side, gestured to Xiao Hui. Xiao Hui, with a [sou] sound, scurried out of Xiao Huan’s embrace, in two three jumps went up to Ghost Li’s shoulder.

Xiao Huan was startled and looked reluctant, said, “You are leaving now?”

Ghost Li nodded, cupped his hands together towards Zhou YiXian and then black-green light drifted out below his body, in an instant became a brilliant light, dashed straight up to the sky and in a moment disappeared into the horizon.

Watching Ghost Li’s figure disappearing, Wild Dog Taoist suddenly heaved a long sigh, seemed like when Ghost Li was here, there was an invisible pressure, pressing him breathless.

Xiao Huan saw it and was about to tease him with a few words, suddenly a movement of wind behind her, a gentle voice softly rang out, “Sister, we have meet again.”

Xiao Huan was startled but before she turned around, she was already smiling and said, “PingEr sister.”

Turning around to look, it was indeed the amorous, captivating Jin PingEr, smiling behind her.

Wild Dog Taoist was after all an Evil Sect member and disposed to feeling fear towards Jin PingEr, his expression showed discomfit. But Xiao Huan was very close to Jin PingEr and looked extremely pleased to see her, held her hand and kept smiling.

Jin PingEr like an elder sister, caressed Xiao Huan’s head lovingly, and then intentionally or unintentionally glanced up at the sky and said, “Xiao Huan sister, actually I came to ask your grandfather a few questions.”

Xiao Huan, Zhou YiXian including Wild Dog were all surprised.

Jin PingEr indifferently spoke to Zhou YiXian, “Regarding the Southern border human fish tribe, I still have a few more questions to consult you!”

Zhou YiXian was speechless and frowned, Jin PingEr’s eyes instead before she started asking, again briefly glanced up towards the horizon.

High up within the white clouds, an indistinct light traversing in the clouds, heading towards the south.

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