Saturday, 16 January 2016

Chapter 87 - Old Places


Qing Yun Hill, Big Bamboo Valley.

Misty clouds between the mountains, like a gentle white silk sash, softly shifting. The early morning air with dew still in it, together with the fresh crisp breeze, passed through that stretch of green bamboo forest, brushing against the Big Bamboo Valley summit.

That area of architectures with Observed Silence Hall as its centre, quietly stood still in the dawn rays, everything appeared to be that tranquil……

Just that a sound of dog barking was heard suddenly, mixed with [Zi zi] cries, broke the silence. Da Huang, with its shiny fur, running over at a fast speed, Xiao Hui riding on its back, clutching tightly onto the fur on Da Huang’s neck to support itself, at the same time waving the other hand in the air, looking very excited.

Ten years ago, after Zhang Xiao Fan went to TongTian Peak from here, he had never came back. Initially, these two animals became depressed, especially Xiao Hui, who was usually active  was melancholy for a long time. DaHuang too did not have it easy, it mopped around the whole day and not knowing if it was because he loved the food that Zhang Xiao Fan cooked, during that period of time whenever Du BiShu, who was replacing Zhang Xiao Fan to cook, placed out food for them, would definitely suffer Da Huang and Xiao Hui’s howls and roars and after they had their meals, would most likely be looked upon with disdain and looking very unsatisfied. Poor Du BiShu also became depressed for some time because of this.

Just that time like water, leisurely passed, the memory of that moment also seemed to gradually fade. Without knowing from when, Xiao Hui and Da Huang again started to play at Big Bamboo Summit, having fun ceaselessly, just that even though it was so, in the deep nights whenever they were about to sleep, they always returned back to Zhang Xiao Fan’s room, as if awaiting something.

Although for so many years, this room had always been empty.

“Si!”

Da Huang suddenly stopped in its track, the great inertia almost caused Xiao Hui to roll down from its back, luckily Xiao Hui’s hand was holding on tightly and it managed to stabilize its body. Da Huang barked loudly, suddenly turned its head back but instead it opened its mouth and rolled out its old long tongue, to chase its own tail, its body turning round and round at the same spot.

Xiao Hui sat securely at its back, grinned and loudly, [Zi zi] laughed, looking very excited and happy. This boring game done endless times by Da Huang but to them, it was as if it was the most interesting game.

The faint dawn lights shone on their bodies, the Big Bamboo Valley reverberated with the two animals’ sounds, the humans were still deep asleep, this excellent timing seemed to be only for them.

Far away, at the back of the hill that verdant bamboo forest, indistinctly the sound of bamboo leaves being brushed by the mountain breeze [Hua hua] leisurely reverberated, even wind that was blowing from that direction, also carried faint scent of the bamboo leaves and the smell of that bamboo forest.

Suddenly!

Da Huang stopped chasing its own tail, Xiao Hui on its back also seemed to lift up its head at the same time, opened its mouth wide and looked towards that stretch of bamboo forest.

Green Hill, green bamboos, wind passing, like sea……

Rustle, rustle, rustle……

“Zi zi zi zi!” Xiao Hui suddenly shrieked, Da Huang’s reaction also seemed to be strange, just that its voice was much softer and barked a few times but after a while, the two animals seemed to know something, Xiao Hui grabbed tight of Da Huang and Da Huang immediately spread out its legs and swiftly ran towards that black bamboo forest at the back of the mountain.

The familiar small path at the back of the mountain, maybe it was because nobody came here to practised their homework for a long time, the trees and grasses had overgrown until the original small path was gradually fading but Da Huang as if it had natural intuitive, traversed through the forest, running faster and faster and very soon it had reached the front of that stretch of bamboo forest.

Inside the verdant bamboo forest, serene with a trace of mystery, Da Huang stopped outside the bamboo forest and softly called out [Wu wu] a few times, Xiao Hui jumped down from its back and squatted aside, looked at him and looked deep into the bamboo forest, at times using its hands to scratch its head, as if it had some hesitation.

But after a while eventually Xiao Hui made up its mind, it [Zi zi] called out twice to Da Huang and took the lead to walk into the forest. To say it actually walked also did not seemed to be correct too but Xiao Hui strangely did not climb up the bamboos and instead used its front limbs as support on the ground, leap by leap slowly went in, looking at Xiao Hui, it seemed to be careful but yet full of anticipation.

Da Huang [Wu wu] called out twice and also started to stride out, following behind it and walked into this bamboo forest.

One monkey one dog, slowly traversing in this peaceful bamboo forest, very quickly their figures soon disappeared.

The morning rays were blocked by the thickly grown bamboo leaves but from in-between the slits, there were still streams of sunlight, channeling into light beams as big as fingers and shone down from the top of the bamboo forest, down onto the ground below.

Xiao Hui and Da Huang slowly walked along in the forest, walking along...unknowingly, they had reached a certain place in the deep of the bamboo forest, there was a small clearing which seemed familiar. Vaguely in the memory, it seemed to be the place that when Zhang Xiao Fan first came here, working hard to chop down the bamboos.

Xiao Hui stopped its steps, squatted at the clearing and using its hands to scratch its head, looked around.   

In the deep and serene bamboo forest, everywhere was quiet.

As if there was an unknown scent, lingering here.

Causing heartbeat to slowly increase……

“Pu!” a light footstep sound, stepped into this deep forest silence.

Xiao Hui and Da Huang both turned at the same time, that person’s figure, behind a thick bamboo, slowly appeared.

The bamboo forest suddenly quieted down again but after a moment, suddenly there were sounds of cheers, Xiao Hui jumped up, its body changed into a grey streak of light and dashed over, jumped into the mid-air and leaped into that person’s embrace!

It grabbed that person’s clothes tightly, laughing heartily loudly, without any care releasing all of its delight, [Zi zi zi zi] laughing ceaselessly.

That person encircled his hands, the once cruel aura right now had disappeared, on his forehead a long time not seen gentleness and smile, embracing Xiao Hui in his bosom. After a while, suddenly he felt another feeling, bending his head to take a look, a smile emerged at the corner of his mouth. He stooped his body, gently caressing the now rubbing against his body Da Huang’s head, smiling and saying, “Da Huang, have you been well?”

DaHuang naturally could not speak and only [Wu wu] softly called out, its tail ceaselessly wagging, using its head to rub against his palm.

At the corner of his eyes, as if a place where nobody could see, indistinctly reflecting the lights, “Only all of you, still treat me as before!”

He softly sighed and breathed in deeply, in this bamboo forest, the once missed familiar smell.

“Hua hua!”

Suddenly, again a flurry of footsteps sounds, it was instead Wild Dog Taoist who scuttled out from behind but looking at his worn robes being torn in a few places by brambles, one would have guessed he had lost his way.

Wild Dog Taoist’s entire face looked jinxed, he looked at the past Zhang Xiao Fan, the current Ghost Li and grumbled, “Hey, brat, are you mad, if you want to die also do not have to do this! Here is Qing Yun Sect, what if someone finds out, even if we have ten lives we will also surely be dead!”

Suddenly, Da Huang, who was extremely docile towards Ghost Li just only, turned its head, the furs on its neck were all bristling and it bared its teeth, showing its obvious extreme dislike towards Wild Dog Taoist. In a moment, Da Huang howled and actually pounced over.

Wild Dog Taoist was shocked but looking at this almost-the-height-of-half-a-man giant dog suddenly pouncing over, his heart first thumped and subconsciously he stretched his hand to grab hold of his own fang magical weapon.

Unexpectedly at this moment Ghost Li who was in front, indifferently said, “If you dare use magical weapon to hurt this dog, I will chop off all of your hands and legs. And then throw it in front of that Observed Silence Hall at the foot of the mountain.”

Wild Dog was stunned, he angrily said, “What did you say…..”

But he had not finished his words when Da Huang had already pounced over, the moment Wild Dog was distracted he was immediately pounced on by this giant dog. Immediately the sounds of dog barking and human’s angry cursing shouts were heard incessantly, human and dog somersaulted together, staggering and in complete disorder! Wild Dog Taoist and Da Huang both rolled to the back of a bramble far away, human and dog’s figures could not be seen but angry cries could be heard at times.

“Aiya! Damned dog, you still bite….hey, brat, you this bastard, still not calling this dog to let go, no, let go, ah…...damned dog, this is human thigh, not chicken thigh! quickly let go, don’t bite anymore…...ah ah ah……”

Ghost Li turned a deaf ear to Wild Dog’s miserable cries, turned his head to look at Xiao Hui in his bosom, his face was all smiles. After checking carefully, after not seen for ten years, Xiao Hui seemed to have slightly grown again, the feeling of carrying it in his embrace also seemed to be heavier by quite a lot, even that scar in-between its eyes also seemed to have expanded much.

And Xiao Hui, after the initial excitement had passed, was still grinning and like in the past, climbed on to his shoulder and habitually stretched out its hand to play with his hair.

Ghost Li quietly stood there and slowly walked outside, till the fringe of the bamboo forest and  gazed out far. The place that was in front of the mountain was covered by the clouds, it was once his warmest home.

Lost in his thoughts, gazing deeply.

Not knowing how much time had passed, Da Huang proudly ran out from the depth of the bamboo forest, looked very pleased with itself, its tail could not stop wagging. It leaped beside Ghost Li, [Wang wang wang] called out a few times.

Ghost Li smiled, stretched out his hand and patted its head.

After a short while, Wild Dog Taoist staggered out from the black bamboo forest, his robe was again ripped in several more places and even a few more scratches also appeared on his dog face, as for the wounds on his legs, indistinctly it could be seen.

Right now he saw Da Huang lying beside Ghost Li, he felt a bit afraid and actually did not dare to go over, standing far away he angrily scolded, “Damned dog, don't think there is someone backing you, sooner or later one day I will butcher you!”

Da Huang suddenly turned its head over, dashed towards Wild Dog Taoist and howled, Wild Dog was scared out of his wits and immediately took a few steps back but Da Huang looked to be scaring him only and did not chase over, it instead turned its head. Wild Dog was then relieved but no matter what he did not dare to scold again.

Looking down at the foot of the mountain for half a day, the day’s first thread of sunlight had already quietly landed, covering this stretch of green mountain with a blanket of light golden cloth.

Ghost Li closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

After a while, he turned around, stretched his hand to bring Xiao Hui down into his embrace, looked at Wild Dog and said, “Let’s go!”

Wild Dog could not wait to hear him say those words, quickly walked over while muttering, “Isn’t this asking for trouble! Just for one monkey, risking lives……”

Da Huang seemed to sense something, stood up and looked at Ghost Li, Ghost Li patted Da Huang’s head, smiled and waved his left hand, a black stick flashing strange green light appeared, it was indeed that “Firestick”, supporting his body, straight up to the sky.

Wild Dog was dumbfounded and complained, “Brat, where do you think this is! Has to be that arrogant even when leaving……”

He was grumbling to himself when suddenly Da Huang howled loudly, Wild Dog was shocked and quickly steered his magical weapon, following Ghost Li.

In front of the black bamboo forest, Da Huang’s solitude figure, barking loudly, unceasingly, unceasingly barking……

Its mad barking, reverberated within the mountain, barking incessantly until a fair white hand stroked its neck, gently asked, “Da Huang, what happened? Why did you run here today, and even keep on barking?”

Da Huang seemed to be slightly agitated and breathless, it turned around to look at Tian LingEr, who had already became a young married woman and turned its head back again, barked loudly towards the sky.

[Wang wang, wang wang, wang wang wang wang……]

Tian LingEr frowned, looked around at the surroundings and feeling a bit strange, said, “What happened, Da Huang? Oh right, where is Xiao Hui? How come it is not together with you?”

Da Huang, not knowing if it understood her words but it still faced the sky, barking itself hoarse.

Tian LingEr looked towards the sky but saw only blue sky and white clouds, the blue sky stretched endlessly and vaguely there was a piece of cloud stroked out from the cloud layers, galloping through the firmament, such a magnificent sight. Not knowing why, her heart suddenly felt lost, for a moment she stared foolishly.

With Qing Yun Hill as south, several ten thousands miles away in a desolated place, there was a high mountain, its name was “Majestic Fox Mountain”, it was the Evil Faction Ghost King Sect headquarters location.

In these ten years, the Evil Faction’s power was flourishing day by day, highly skilled fighters were numerous but the internal fights within were also becoming severe as the days passed, it was even more intense than the fight with the Good Faction. The Ghost King Sect was originally one of the powerful branch among the Evil Faction four great branches, for the past ten years Ghost King leader had exerted himself to make his sect prosperous, using great skill and strategy and made Ghost King Sect grew in strength day by day, indistinctly it gave the impression that it would replace Wan Du Clan as the Evil Faction’s biggest branch.

The Ghost King Sect as of now, for the earlier generations of highly skilled fighters, other than the mysterious four holy envoys appearing, there was also a mysterious figure, “Mr Ghost” appearing beside Ghost King, usually only human voice was heard but nobody was seen. But the attention that was most placed on, was the younger generations of the Ghost King Sect, especially the one that was regarded much by Ghost King, Ghost Li, was the most outstanding among them, Ghost King even did not hesitate to make an exception by making him vice leader, regarding him as his own child. Now everyone under the sky knew, Ghost Li would definitely be the next leader of Ghost King Sect.

In the Evil Faction, the internal fights were not only intense but they would go to any lengths, so many people had tried to sow discord between Ghost King and his this number one beloved fighter but all had failed.

And only for those mere number of people who understood that period of past, in their hearts, towards these two people’s firm and almost unbreakable relationship, all instead felt sorrow.

The black veil gently covered her face, that mysterious black-attired lady-YouJi, right now quietly sitting in the most important room in Ghost King Sect. The room was not very big but very cold, the reason for it was because in the middle of the room, a crystal-clear sparkling white ice platform was placed, vapours of cold air floated up from the almost transparent ice platform.

A beautiful girl, wearing her favourite green robe, lying quietly on top, among the threads of white cold air that was floating out, her face looked to be slightly pale, almost like transparent, cold and beautiful! Both of her hands crossed and placed in front of her body, in her palm, as if already joined to her body, was a small gold bell, flashing with strange light rays, as if it was gazing at this world.

At this moment, a low deep rumble was heard from the back, this room’s thick and heavy stone door was pushed open by someone and shortly closed up again.

Footsteps sound was heard, someone walked and stopped beside YouJi.

YouJi unhurriedly raised her head, to be able to enter this room, there would not be more than four people in the entire Ghost King Sect.

Ghost Li’s pale face appeared in front of her, her heart behind her black veil, slightly palpitated, vaguely she recalled, every time this man entered this room, his face would turn more and more pale.

Just that in this man’s eyes, YouJi totally did not exist, that beautiful girl lying there peacefully, right now, had already occupied all of his heart and body.

The stone room suddenly became very quiet, as quiet as death.

YouJi stood up lightly and retreated but her eyes still lingered on him. His figure appeared to be lonelier. As for the horrible bloody scent that frequently appeared around him in that outside world, it was totally undetected here.

Who knows, maybe this was the only place where he could have peace.

She took one last look at this man and walked out, taking care to close the stone door but then was shocked to see that Qing Long, wearing all white, was standing beside.

“What is it?” After being silent for a while, YouJi, indifferently asked.

Qing Long looked towards that stone door and said, “He is back?”

YouJi’s black veil shifted, as if she was nodding slightly, said, “Yes, he is in there talking to BiYao.”

Qing Long frowned and gently sighed. Actually all of them knew in their hearts, the so-called chat, was just Ghost Li talking quietly to himself, as for BiYao, whether or not she could hear, that was another matter. Just that this matter was too heartbreaking and none of them wished to talk about it.

YouJi stood quietly for a while and suddenly said, “Zhang Xiao Fan every time he comes back, the first moment he will come here……”

Qing Long’s countenance slightly changed and cut in, “Third sister, as of now he has already been bestowed the name Ghost Li by Sect Head Ghost King, I have told you many times not to use this name to call him.”

YouJi, behind the black veil, not knowing what her expression was but there was not a slightest change in the tone of her voice and continued to say, “......but Sect Head instead has not been here for a very long time.”

Qing Long looked at her and eventually gave a long sigh and said, “These ten years, the white hairs on Sect Head’s temples, how much has it increased, I guess you should at least seen it? It is not that he does not miss his only daughter, just that he hide the pain in his heart.”

YouJi remained silent for a while again, after which she seemed to recall something and raised her head, she said, “The matter of looking for the black shaman tribe, how is it going?”

Qing Long shook his head and said,”The black shaman tribe was only transitory a thousand years ago, now we don’t even have a single clue to where do we go to search.”

YouJi slowly turned around and walked out.

This stone room that BiYao was slumbering in, naturally was in a extremely secluded place within Ghost King Sect, on normal days rarely anyone would come and right now in the corridor outside the stone room, there were only the two of them.

Qing Long watched the back of YouJi’s leaving figure and suddenly spoke, “You better stay a distance away from Ghost Li.”

YouJi’s body suddenly shook, immediately she stopped her steps, her whole body seemed to tighten but after which she slowly relaxed, turned around and stared at Qing Long through the black veil, word by word she spoke, “What do you mean?”

Qing Long instead did not look at her, turned his eyes to look that stone room’s door, indifferently said, “I know you feel guilty towards BiYao, feel that you did not protect her well but your unspoken concern towards that man seemed to have cross the line.”

YouJi did not speak but this corridor suddenly turned even more icy-cold than that stone room, unseen murderous aura seemed to emit ceaselessly from that black-attired lady.

“Are you saying, I actually have feelings towards this young man?” word by word she spitted out.

Qing Long seemed not to feel any of the murderous aura in front of him, his expression also never changed and only slowly said, “Third sister, I did not say that, I only wanted to remind you, because of BiYao, the relationship between Ghost King Sect Head and this man has always been delicate. I have followed Ghost King Sect Head for many years and know that even though he treats Ghost Li like his own child but at times when he is grieved that BiYao turned out this way, I’m afraid he also feels some bitterness.”

When he spoke until here, he turned his head back and looked deeply at YouJi, softly said, “Third sister, you better look out for yourself.”

YouJi from afar, coldly snorted and suddenly said, “I don’t know what you are talking about!”  turned around and walked off.

Qing Long gave a bitter laugh, shook his head and sighed softly.

Inside the stone room.

Ghost Li sat beside BiYao, gazed at that beautiful yet slightly pale face and softly said, “I am back, BiYao.”

……

“During this trip, I helped your father eliminated another branch, it was that Blood Forger Hall that we met in the beginning, you should still remember right?”

……

“I don’t know why but when it was down to the last man, I suddenly thought of you, remembered that we met there and I could not do it. BiYao, will you blame me?”

…...

 “A few days ago, I sneaked past the sentry and secretly went up the Big Bamboo Valley summit, at the same time I brought Xiao Hui back. Have you seen Xiao Hui? It is that monkey that I raised since young……”

……

“I went to the Black Bamboo Forest, you guess what did I see?”

……

“Actually that piece of black bamboo that had fell onto the ground was still lying there. BiYao, do you still remember? That piece of bamboo that both of us sat together……”

……

“Actually, nothing has changed, BiYao.”

……

“BiYao……” He softly chanted, in a voice that indistinctly choked with sobs, resounded in this stone room.

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