Chapter 12 – Running Amuck at the Pleasure House
Book 7 Chapter 12 – Running Amuck at the Pleasure House
When Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling went to Chun Zai Lou, they changed their appearance again; they now looked just like ordinary Wulin figures.
It was Yun Yuzhen’s idea, if anything bad should happen, they could return to their grain merchant identity, and nobody would know their identity.
Under Chan Laomou’s skillful hands, Kou Zhong became a thirty-five, thirty-six years old man with a moustache. Xu Ziling wore thick eyebrows and his skin was darkened considerably, to conceal his scholarly and handsome features. He also had five strands of beard, so that even old acquaintances would find it hard to recognize him.
Nobody knows how many ordinary-looking warriors like them were going in and out of brothels every day; therefore, when they appeared, the bouncer at the door [orig. turtle slave doorkeeper] did not pay the slightest attention. It was not until Kou Zhong stuffed a piece of gold into his hand that he realized the visitor was a big, rich man, and thus he busily bowed respectfully with clasped hands and respectfully welcomed them into the guest lounge.
Kou Zhong whispered in Xu Ziling’s ear, “I hope our luck this time is a bit better.”
Xu Ziling sighed, recalling that every time they visited a pleasure house, not once the outcome has been good.
Meanwhile the ‘turtle slave’ was pulling the bawd, Bai Niang [lit. white lady, I don’t know whether it is a term to call a female brothel keeper in general], a woman with fancy eyebrows and laughing eyes, to greet them. This time Kou Zhong was getting even more serious, he stuffed two pieces of gold into her hand before saying, “We came here because we admire Miss Huo Qi’s name, Bai Niang must not let us down!”
Bai Niang laughed cheerfully and said, “Two Daye are so generous, of course Nujia will do anything for you! But every night Qiqi is so busy and has no time to spare. Nujia has to think of a way that she could come down and sing you a song to satisfy Daye’s cherished desire.”
How could Kou Zhong accept that? Being more generous at the expense of Xiang Yushan, he stuffed another piece of gold into her hand and said, “Singing in a hurry is just too bland; how about Bai Niang arrange an appointment for me and Miss Huo Qi tomorrow night …”
“Aiyo!” Bai Niang cried out tenderly, cutting him off, “Tomorrow is even more out of the question, even Nujia is helpless. Ay! You don’t know how popular Qiqi is, if Nujia did not see how generous two Daye are, why would I be willing to receive a scolding to make arrangement for you?”
And then she went on, “Gentlemen please stay here and have some tea, let Nujia go into the inner courtyard on Daye’s behalf to find other courtyard ‘with face’, to select several beautiful women with excellent voice, face and skill for two Daye, and then I’ll come back here to take Daye in.”
The two boys were taken into the noisy parlor and were seated in a set of table and chairs. After taking a cup of fragrant tea offered by a young maid, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling stealthily looked around with great interest.
There were more than a dozen sets of table and chairs arranged along the wall of the parlor, all filled with people. Everybody seemed to be afraid that their voice was not loud enough, so they talked and quarreled so loud that the clamor shook the heavens, just like rowdy people at the marketplace.
Kou Zhong sipped his tea for a moment, and then he sighed and said, “Sitting here in this place, who would have thought that the fire of war is ravaging the Central Earth, and the people are in a terrible situation?”
Xu Ziling spoke in low voice, “You have to be careful, there are two guys by the door staring at us.”
Knitting his brows, Kou Zhong muttered, “There should be nothing in our appearances that give us away; what’s so good about looking at us, we are not popular ‘aunties’ of the brothel.”
Xu Ziling smiled wryly and said, “We will find out soon enough; one of them is heading our way.”
The two boys pretended not to notice, and then when that person sat across the table from them, they pretended to look up in surprise. But as soon as they did, their soul flew away and scattered; they nearly spring up and run away.
Because that person was the Dongming Princess Shan Wanjing, who disguised herself by wearing men’s clothing.
But this time her jade face was frosty, as she stared hatefully at the two boys and said, “Even turning into ashes I will still recognize you, two little thieves.”
Having just recovered from shock, Kou Zhong recalled that they had indeed stolen her belongings, so her scolding them as little thieves was really difficult to refute. Therefore, he awkwardly said, “Princess, how are you? Long time no see, I can’t believe you are not only getting more beautiful, you are getting more mature too.”
Dongming Princess Shan Wanjing’s eyes were full of murderous intent; she said in heavy voice, “Death is near at hand, you still dare to be loquacious. If I cry out either Kou Zhong or Xu Ziling, I guarantee you will never leave this brothel alive.”
And then, turning her gaze toward Xu Ziling, she said mockingly, “I can’t believe the haughty and conceited Xu Gongzi is not only a thief, but he is also a lecherous thief.”
Xu Ziling boldly returned her gaze. Focusing his eyes on her oval face, a hint of wry smile appeared on the corner of his eyes as he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Whatever Princess wants to do to me, just do it!”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Princess seems to have a particularly close relationship with this brother of mine so that your scolding to him was not as severe as to me, Xiaodi.”
Shan Wanjing was slightly taken aback; a complex, undecipherable emotion flashed through her beautiful eyes. And then, looking down, she said, “I indeed have close relationship with the two of you, with your two dogs’ life. Right now I am giving you two options: one, I will expose your true identity, two, you come with me to resolve the problems between us.”
Recovering his rascally character, Kou Zhong asked with a giggle, “Princess, how many attendants do you have this time?”
Shan Wanjing replied with a cold laugh, “To take care of you, two thieves, do I need any helpers?”
Kou Zhong stretched out and said with a smile, “Princess, why don’t you examine yourself: how do you fare compared to your Ba boyfriend?”
Shan Wanjing was greatly stunned. After staring blankly for a moment, she asked, “What Ba boyfriend? Oh … you …”
Xu Ziling said indifferently, “We have had confrontation with Ba Xiong. But may I ask Princess, this time you came to Jiujiang, what noble errand brings you here?”
Shan Wanjing was so angry that her seven orifices seemed to be spouting smoke. “My business has nothing to do with you!” she said, “You don’t even have the qualifications to ask.”
And then, glowering at Kou Zhong, she fumed, “Ba Fenghan is just a friend I can get along with, there is no private matters between man and woman involved; don’t you try to make others vomit blood.”
Kou Zhong spread out his hands and said, “How about that Li guy from the Li Clan? Is he also just a friend you can get along with? I am asking this on Xiao Ling’s behalf.”
Naturally Xu Ziling knew that Kou Zhong was exploiting his subtle relationship with Shan Wanjing in an attempt to cross this difficulty; since he did not think it was inappropriate, he remained silent.
Shan Wanjing’s tender body trembled slightly, her jade face turned ashen from anger; gnashing her teeth, she said, “Full of nonsense! I swear that if I don’t kill you today, I cannot conduct myself in the world.”
Laughing apologetically, Kou Zhong said, “Princess, please calm down; in everything we must consider the outcome. For instance, fighting is definitely not a good thing, but if after the fight we can turn the enemy into a friend, this is a good thing. I admit that stealing is not a good thing per se, but if the outcome is the death of that muddleheaded ruler so that your other good friend that Li guy can have a better chance in contending over the world, we have changed a bad thing into a good thing. Hee hee …! Princess, please be magnanimous, Xiao Ling and I apologize to you.”
Shan Wanjing was silent for half a day. Finally she said softly, “It doesn’t matter if your tongue can grow beautiful lotus flower, tonight don’t even think of escaping alive. Starting from now, within ten breaths, if you don’t come with me out of this place, I will immediately shout ‘Kou Zhong’ and ‘Xu Ziling’. I want to see what good thing will the outcome be.”
The two boys’ scalp went numb, but there was no way they would surrender to her will.
If the grandiose Dongming Princess did not bring any attendants, they did not believe she had the ability to kill them. But that was not the reason of their distress; their biggest headache was that in this fight, they could only take a beating, otherwise, how could they bite the hand that feeds them by injuring Dongming Pai people?
Seven breaths, eight breaths …
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling exchanged a glance with a determined look on their faces to win.
Nine breaths! Ten breaths.
Shan Wanjing’s eyes were flashing with sharp, bright gleam. Suddenly she cried out with her tender voice, “Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling are here.”
Her voice was backed by her inner power, the sound shook the main hall, penetrated every single ear.
The main hall suddenly turned so quiet that the sound of a falling needle could be heard, more than a hundred pairs of eyes were staring at the three of them.
Against all expectation, Kou Zhong suddenly laughed aloud. The entire length of his body rose up and he said, “Turns out Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, those two kids are hanging around in here, but why did Xiongtai think it was necessary for you to stretch your throat by shouting and yelling?”
He has not finished talking, Shan Wanjing’s palm struck from across the table, carrying an intense qi power, like an arrow it shot toward Kou Zhong’s broad chest.
Kou Zhong thought saving his life was more important. Unwilling to reveal his skill, he slipped behind Xu Ziling like a swimming fish.
The hall remained silent [orig. crow and peacock make no sound].
Nowadays, anybody who was moving about in Jianghu would more or less hear about these two boys; not only about the two separate hunt-and-kill decrees on their heads, but also because of the widely spread rumors of their knowledge of the ‘Duke Yang Treasure Trove’ secret.
Xu Ziling’s eyes shone with unprecedented divine light as he fixed his gaze on the Dongming Princess Shan Wanjing and spoke slowly word-by-word, “Do you know what you are doing?”
And then his palm struck the table. The entire solid Chinese cedar wood table immediately shattered into cun-long fragments, wood pieces sprinkled down all over the floor.
Chapter 12, Part 2
Xu Ziling shouted loudly, “Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling are here. Whoever wants to get the head above our neck may come here to make your move; otherwise, please get out of here, so that we, brothers, won’t accidentally hurt bystanders.”
With the crashing sound of the table as it broke into pieces, three persons involved, including Xu Ziling himself, jumped in fright.
Xu Ziling was so shocked because he only wanted to slap the table to vent out the resentment in his heart. Because by doing what she did, not only Shan Wanjing put them in a dangerous spot, the most insufferable thing was that she seemed to wreck their entire assassination plot, while the two boys obviously could not do anything to her to teach her a lesson. Who would have thought that his palm was so formidable that such a hard Chinese cedar wood table would disintegrate into pieces?
Kou Zhong was so shocked, first of all because Xu Ziling’s palm strength seemed to increase all of a sudden, secondly, because he had never seen Xu Ziling that angry. Momentarily he threw all kinds of problem arising from the revealing of their identity to the back of his mind; inwardly he was comparing Xu Ziling to Du Fuwei, who shattered a rosewood table with his palm power the other day.
Dongming Princess Shan Wanjing’s tender heart was severely shaken; other than she had never thought Xu Ziling’s skill has reached such state, she was deeply shocked by Xu Ziling’s display of power and his unfriendliness. Besides, having provoked Xu Ziling so that his reaction was that intense, she could not help feeling a bit of regret.
Momentarily the three of them were staring blankly at the wood fragments on the floor. Xu Ziling and Shan Wanjing were still sitting on their chairs, separated by the debris. It was an extremely strange scene.
Most people remaining in the hall were Wulin characters who came from various part of the country. At first some of them were itching to get their hands to capture or kill these two boys, but after Xu Ziling’s display of earth-shattering skill, they instantly grew quiet out of fear. One after another those sitting in several tables in the three people’s vicinity started to move away in fear.
Kou Zhong was the first one to regain his wits. Pointing to Shan Wanjing, he laughed aloud and said, “Gentlemen! This is a woman who dresses as a man, the Dongming Princess Shan Wanjing. This time she came to Jiujiang to assassinate the ‘Green Dragon’ Ren Shaoming.”
Shan Wanjing was furious; pointing her halberd-like finger she said, “What nonsense are you talking about?”
Kou Zhong winked at her and said in low voice, “You can talk nonsense, we can also talk nonsense; it’s only fair. Ha! If we don’t drag you down to suffer inconvenience together with us, we are idiots!”
When the people in the hall heard the sentence ‘assassinate Ren Shaoming’, not a single one of them had his countenance unchanged. Timid merchants and maids and servants were the first to scramble out to escape, followed by the Jianghu people. Nobody knew what would happen next, but either way, nobody wanted to be implicated.
After quite a while, the noisy ‘chicken flew dogs ran away’ hall became ‘people left the hall empty’.
Except for one person, who was sitting on the table near the door.
This person’s build was as majestic as the mountain, his countenance handsome and grand, he wore a blue-green powerful-looking outer cloak; there was an unspeakable terrifying charm aura around him. It was none other than the young Tujue martial art who recently caused sensation in the Wulin world, Ba Fenghan.
It suddenly dawned on Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling that the other day Fu Junyu and Ba Fenghan were talking about meeting Shan Wanjing, turned out the meeting place was this ups and downs city of Jiujiang.
Ba Fenghan rose up to his full height, laughed aloud, and said, “We are separated for only three days, I already have a whole new level of respect for you; I have never thought Xu Xiong’s palm power could be this terrifying. Tonight I am brought by fate to meet with two Xiongtai, the Ol’ Ba is indeed very happy.”
‘Qiang!’ Kou Zhong pulled the fine-steel saber Yun Yuzhen gave him and pointed the blade toward Ba Fenghan. Heroically and loftily he said, “Mutual desire to meet is better than chance encounter, even more importantly, Ba Xiong is in such a good spirit. Let us, two brothers, send you off on your journey first!”
A strange expression flashed through Shan Wanjing’s eyes. With her tender voice she scolded, “Little thief Kou, you think I am nonexistent? Deal with me first and then you can do whatever you want.”
Ba Fenghan’s murderous intention was greatly aroused, but his face was still wearing a smile. He spoke indifferently, “Right now Wanjing is not the only one who wants to kill you, even Ol’ Ba can’t stop my hands from itching. How about Wanjing let Xiaodi beat the ‘head of the [troops] formation’?”
Xu Ziling rose up suddenly. “Princess’ business, we will deal with it in a moment,” he said coldly, “But Ba Xiong is just pushing us too far …”
Shan Wanjing sneered and said, “He is pushing you too far, but you take advantage of superior number to gang up with him, one person. What kind of hero is that?”
Kou Zhong groaned inwardly. The only way they could deal with Ba Fenghan was precisely by joining hands. If Shan Wanjing insisted on interfering, not to mention she was herself a first-class martial art master, in dealing with her, they must not harm her or kill her; this was the most annoying thing and would definitely assure their defeat.
Completely calm, Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “If that’s the case, let me and Ba Xiong have a one-on-one combat, let’s see who is taking advantage of whom.”
Shan Wanjing was completely helpless to conceal the slight change in her jade countenance. “Do you want to die?” she said angrily.
Since his beautiful dream of assassinating Ren Shaoming was shattered by her, Kou Zhong has been dying to lie her down on his knees and spank her bottom really good. Given this golden opportunity, he pretended to be surprised, “Isn’t that what Princess has in your mind all along?” he asked.
And then, turning to Xu Ziling he said, “Xiao Ling! Didn’t I tell you that although on the surface Princess hates you, her heart has always been leaning toward you? Ah!”
Shan Wanjing’s sword left its sheathe, bypassed Xu Ziling, and turned into dots of cold rays shooting toward Kou Zhong in raging temper.
Seeing her outstandingly exquisite swordsmanship, and her extremely swift and fierce move, Kou Zhong did not dare to be negligence at all; he withdrew abruptly.
Shan Wanjing rounded behind Xu Ziling, forcing Kou Zhong to withdraw to the other side of the hall. She scolded, “Little thief Xu, since you don’t know the immensity of heaven and earth, then go to hell for this Princess!”
Ba Fenghan suddenly drew his sword. Immediately a burst of powerful, without equal, sword qi shot toward Xu Ziling, who was standing about two zhang away, enveloping him completely in the sword qi, so that even if the opponent wanted to shrink back, it would be impossible to do so.
However, Xu Ziling’s mind was as clear as the moon in the well; there was no anxiety over victory or defeat, there was no distracting thoughts whatsoever. Raising the true qi inside his body to its extreme, he withstood Ba Fenghan’s astonishing power.
Two young martial art masters, finally brought together into a life and death situation.
Shan Wanjing bit her lip and tightly clenched her silvery teeth; with great difficulty she resisted the urge to look back. Her only hope was that this matter would be over soon, and henceforth she would try her best to forget it all.
Even she herself did not understand what kind of place Xu Ziling held in her tender heart.
On the other hand, Kou Zhong’s mind was churning at the speed of light. He was trying to find a way to take advantage of the long whip around his waist, to gain control over Shan Wanjing in one move, and then together with Xu Ziling, they would have a chance to get rid of Ba Fenghan, this formidable opponent.
Ba Fenghan’s mind was focused on Xu Ziling; without the slightest bit of hesitation the sword in his hand unceasingly sending out sword qi, no hole left unpenetrated as he tried to look for Xu Ziling’s weak point.
Nonetheless, under this intense pressure, the opponent was still standing as stable as the mountain, who automatically exuding ‘swallowing-river-and-high-mountain’-kind of qi, with the imposing manner that no gap can be penetrated. Unexpectedly Ba Fenghan did not dare to act recklessly.
While he did not dare to make his move, Kou Zhong did not dare even more. Momentarily four people fought separately in two groups.
All of a sudden there was the sound of gushing wind from all directions, a clear sign that a large number of martial art masters was rushing over to this place.
Ba Fenghan was about to take advantage of this window of opportunity to go all-out and take Xu Ziling’s little life, but in a strange turn of events Shan Wanjing abandoned Kou Zhong and rushed over to Ba Fenghan, while shouting tenderly, “We have to go!”
Kou Zhong was greatly delighted; he rushed over to Xu Ziling and called out loudly, “We must also leave!”
Ba Fenghan grudgingly withdrew his qi. Since he had the initiative, he was able to send and retract his qi at will.
Shadows of people flashed through the windows and doors, martial art masters from Tieqi Hui have arrived.
The four people, in two separate groups, soared to the air and broke through the roof, and landed on the roof tile outside. They saw torches everywhere, with countless people surrounding the area.
Kou Zhong laughed heartily and said, “Princess and your Ba boyfriend, I’m sure we will meet again someday.”
Winking to Xu Ziling, he traversed the air. The two boys, one after another, flew toward the rear courtyard.
They knew Chun Zai Lou situation like the back of their palm, naturally they were able to escape quite easily.
On the other side, Ba Fenghan and Shan Wanjing knew that if they did not seize the opportunity to escape while the enemy has not yet in position, while their besieging formation was still incomplete, they would have to fight with all their might and might end up dead.
Not daring to be negligent, they ran to the opposite direction and killed their way out, and escaped to the wilderness.
Sound of clashing weapons was ringing continuously, followed by the clamor of people pursuing vigorously. But the noise gradually went far away.