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The Flower Guarding Bell - Chapter 10

Chapter Ten - Where am I?

Nangong Ping opened his eyes. He did not see anything or hear anything.

All he could see was the darkness and all he could hear was quietness.

He sighed deeply and thought. “Am I dead?”

Death was not as frightening as he thought but it was certainly very lonely. “Although death takes everything away from me but did not take away my voice.”

So where was he now? In the Western Paradise or the Depths of Hell?

Suddenly he unwittingly forced a smile. “If there are really ghosts and the Judges of Hell are rumored to very strict in determining justice. Then I afraid I will be in Hell. But…” He sighed deeply.

“If it is the Western Paradise and it is so lonely. Then I rather to go Hell and not suffer this unbearable loneliness.”

When he thought of this eternal darkness, he suddenly saw an extremely beautiful yet pale face that appeared from the darkness and softly said to him. “No matter how long, I will wait for you…”

Now he felt a sense of hopelessness that numbed his entire body. Suddenly he heard a voice, accompanying by sorrowful music.

“Nan…Gong…Ping…” The voice sounded so far away yet so near his ears. His mind jolted and he could help it but broke into cold sweat. “Have…you…come…already…?”

Nangong Ping wiped away his cold sweat and shouted. “Who is you? Are you a ghost? I, Nangong Ping is not even afraid of ghost, will I be afraid of ghost?”

The voice seemed to drift off.

Nangong Ping was startled and loosened his fists. He had to admit that death was indeed very frightening.

Suddenly that sorrowful voice laughed and rung in his ears. “After you have died, you left behind your parents, therefore you are not filial. You did not contribute to your country or your countrymen therefore you are disloyal. And because of your death, you cause the death of a friend because his poison reacts. Therefore you are not righteous. Since you are not filial, not loyal, and not righteous. If you do not enter Hell, who will enter Hell?

Nangong Ping was startled and he thought with cold sweat breaking out. “Am I really such a not filial, not loyal, not righteous person?

The sorrowful voice asked again. “Nangong Ping, did you die in peace?” “If I really return your soul to you, will you listen to me?” There was a jolt in Nangong Ping’s mind as he got up and said aloud. “Who are you? Why are you pretending this act?”

From the darkness arose a laughing voice and then it became a hilarious laughter. “I am just trying to let you know the taste of dying and know that being dead is not easy to endure. Then you know that to live is actually precious.”

“Although it isn’t hell here but it is not far off. Although you have not died yet but I have more than ten chances to take your life. Even if I want to take your life now, it is a piece of cake. Since you have tasted the feeling of death, I am sure you know how scary it is to die…”

Nangong Ping suddenly laughed. “Therefore you want me to listen to you, is that right?”

The voice in the darkness said. “Indeed!”

Nangong Ping laughed. “Since I have already died once, even if I will to die a second time, what does it matter! To ask me to listen to such a pretentious coward like you, I will never do it!

After a while, the voice coldly asked. “Do you really want to be a unrighteous, not filial, disloyal person?”

But Nangong Ping did not bother with it anymore therefore he did not try to reply anymore. Because in his heart, was a strong sense of righteousness that not even threats would work, even wealth could not corrupt him and death could not stray his heart.

But a couple of things caused him unbearable pain but it still would not shake his determination. The longing of his parents, his Mentor Master last will, Di Yang life and death situation and Mei Yinxue who was waiting for him. All these caused him unbearable pain but in his innermost place, hid an unshakable principal.

Suddenly there was a sweet fragrant. It was the aroma of delicious food.

Nangong Ping thought. “It stupid to seduce me with food.” But the aroma was getting more and more tempting. He had to secretly agree in his heart. “Using this method to seduce others is indeed tempting.”

The voice asked. “Nangong Master, how is the feeling of hunger? Is it unbearable?”

There was a sound as the voice said. “In front of you are two plates of chicken, if you are hungry, you can take it.”

Nangong Ping laughed as he angrily retorted. “I have already made up my mind and nothing will ever change my mind. Why are you still here wasting your breath?”

The voice sighed. “A person such as you, if you do not join hands with me is really the regret of my life. Because I treat you as a hero, I cannot bear to kill you. I did not even drug you to cause you to lose your senses and play you around. Therefore I jail you here. If I were to let you go, would it be like releasing a tiger to the wilderness? There will be a day when my plans will be ruined by you.”

The voice sighed again. “I am really forced to jail you here. I hope that you will not blame me when you die. I will surely hold a grand burial for you.”

There was a ‘dang’ sound besides Nangong Ping. The voice said. “I have thrown a dagger besides you. If you cannot resist the feeling of loneliness or hunger, you can take the dagger to suicide. If you change your mind, you just need to shout loudly and I will release you. Iron walls six feet thick and five meters in height surround you. The only way out of here is up. You can try to escape if you want. If you do not have enough strength, the two chicken in front of you have no poison. If you eat it, you may regain some strength.”

Nangong Ping sighed deeply. “You treat me so respectful. Even if you will to kill me now, I will not blame you.”

Suddenly a woman captivating voice laughed. “The two of you are like good friends but you must know…” Suddenly the voice weakened and ceased.

This voice was very familiar in Nangong Ping’s ears as he was jolted. “Who? Who are you…”

The voice sighed. “If I have meet you ten years ago, I will surely be your buddy. But it a pity...alas. What is your dying wish? Say it loud, I will do my best to accomplish it.”

But Nangong Ping was only thinking about that captivating voice. “Who is the woman that is talking besides you? You only need to let me take a look at her will do.”

There was silence and the voice slowly said. “Only this matter?” Nangong Ping replied. “Indeed.”

The voice asked. “Is there no heirlooms, no last words to bring to your parents and friends. Do you really have no words of comfort to tell your girlfriend? Do you really have no unfinished wishes for me to accomplish for you? Are you not interested to see my face?”

Nangong Ping was startled. Now he realized that he had too many unfinished things left undone.

But he said. “You don’t have to worry about other matters.” The voice strangely said. “The person you want to see…” Nangong Ping said. “I don’t wish to look now.”

The voice said. “But since I have already promised you, why don’t you take a look up?”

The hatch above opened up and a ray of light shone through.

Although Nangong Ping suspected that the woman he had in mind was someone he knew and very close to, he did not want to lift his head now to look at her. Because he did not want to hate anyone after he had died.

The hatch closed and the voice said. “Farewell to the heroic Nangong Ping…” As the scores from the Distant Mountains that were tall and the Fragrant of the Wind and Rain were heard from the scores of the zenith as he left.

Nangong Ping sighed and muttered in a low voice. “Farewell…farewell…” He suddenly discovered he had wept. A hero’s tear was not easily wept unless he had reached the point of hopelessness and great sorrow.

During this sorrow, he developed courage, a courage that stemmed from life itself as he reached out to rub the hilt of the dagger.

Then he slowly walked to the side of the wall and used all his vital energies to hit against the wall. His hands vibrated. The walls were really made of iron.

He did not wish to destroy the body that his parents had given him but he could not endure this feeling of waiting for his death anymore. He leaned on the wall lost in hopelessness. After sometime he was startled for the wall behind him became soft and he fell behind the wall.

He turned around and saw an old man carrying a torch. He looked very solemn and he gripped Nangong Ping by his sleeve and pulled him inside and closed the secret door.

Nangong Ping was stunned and realized that he had escaped from the vicinity of the death. He did not know to feel happy or gratefulness. Therefore he stood on the ground, stoned.

The old man that was carrying a torch was the Master of the Mulong Manor, ‘Flying Rings’ Wei Qi! He looked very troubled and waved slightly for Nangong Ping to follow him. The secret passage was like a maze and extremely intricate.

There was dust all over; this passage seemingly was not used for a very long time.

Nangong Ping looked at his imposing back and he felt grateful. In all his life, he had never felt such a strong intense feeling of gratefulness for he had left ‘Death’ and the ‘Hopelessness’.

He tried to say something but found out his voice was marred as he slowly said. “Old Senior...”

Wei Qi did not turned his head but said in a low voice. “Shhh!” As he turned to another passage. Suddenly he pressed against the side of the wall and the wall in front moved. He muttered. “Seven Eagles haiz, Seven Eagles, do not blame me for unable to save you. I already did my very best…” Before he had finished, he entered through the secret door.

Nangong Ping was startled and soon came Wei Qi came out carrying a unconscious young man and solemnly said. “Carry him.”

Nangong Ping obeyed and carried the young man up although he was feeling puzzled.

After several turns, Wei Qi lead him to out to a forest.

Nangong Ping could not resist anymore and softly said. “Old…”

Wei Qi interrupted and he solemnly said. “You do not need to thank me in appreciation.”

Nangong Ping said. “But…this…”

Wei Qi sighed deeply and added. “There will be a sudden change in Pugilist very soon. The malicious stars from outside the Pass are now inside the Central Plains. The accomplishments that I have painstaking fought to have over the years will soon be gone.”

Nangong Ping was puzzled and about to ask him when Wei Qi continued. “This young man that you are carrying possess extraordinary martial skills and he is a Kunlun disciple. He is Zhan Donglai but at this moment he had been drugged. I don’t have any medicine for that but I believe that after awhile, he will soon awaken. The two of you are the young heroes and have a bright future. I hope that after the two of you escape and if you can, prevent that Demon to dominate the Pugilistic Fraternity.”

Nangong Ping furrowed and asked solemnly. “Who is that person? Is he…”

Wei Qi did not wait for him to reply and added. “Not only does this person possesses unfathomable martial skills but he also knew various use of drug and secret weapons. Among his henchmen that help him to do evil, are the Heavenly Piercing Life Stealing Twin Spears and the Four Swords of the Life Stealing Mystery Wind. These two men are very startling and very few men can hope to challenge them. You and me are definitely not their match.”

Nangong Ping asked. “Is this man Shuai Tianfan?”

Wei Qi was startled that Nangong Ping actually knew the name. Wei Qi slowly word by word replied. “Indeed, he is Shuai Tianfan!”

Wei Qi sighed. “At this moment, there are many other pugilists that are also trapped by him inside Mulong Manor. But with my limited strength, I can only save the two of you as only the two of you are placed in the secret rooms. Luckily for the both of you. You are young heroes while the other pugilists are old heroes. But I hope that you do not forget my words. This man is really unfathomable.

Please do not rush blindly into things!”

Nangong Ping was stunned and he asked. “Old Senior Wei, why did you…you not leave with us? We can wait for time to be ripe and in future return for revenge.”

‘Flying Ring’ Wei Qi sighed deeply. “I am old and I no longer have any wild ambitions…”

Nangong Ping worriedly exclaimed. “But Old Senior, if you remain here, you will be in danger!”

Wei Qi sighed, lowered his head and he forcefully smiled. “My achievements over the past forty years in the Northwest is still useful to them. Even if they knew that I am one that release the both of you, they will not harm me.”

He lifted his head and shouted. “I am the Master of Mulong, who will dare to ask me to go!” He turned around and said to Nangong Ping. “Go now!”

Nangong Ping was forcefully pushed out of the passage into the woods outside. He said. “Old Senior…”

Only to hear him solemnly said in the dark recedes of the passage. “The Dragon have nine sons, each sons are different. The same protégé disciples are like tigers and wolves…” And his voice disappeared.

Nangong Ping watched on with tears of appreciation. “Old Senior Wei, I hope you be living in comfort and everything will go smoothly for you…” He lowered his head and looked at the unconscious Zhan Donglai. “Zhan Donglai alas Zhan Donglai, I hope that you will not forget this kindness to live again and also not to forget the kind intention of Old Senior Wei.” He muttered.

His heart was suddenly very heavy again as he thought of Di Yang who had been poisoned and Mei Yinxue that told him that ‘she would always wait for him’.

If he entered Mulong Manor again to retrieve the antidote for Di Yang, he would once again lost his freedom and so would his life. Since he had regarded his life as minor to that of his friends but if he died, would he disappoint the hopes of ‘Flying Rings’ Wei Qi who had risked his life to save him?

If he returned empty handed, would not his actions last night be meaningless? How could he watch Di Yang die of poisoning?

These hard choices caused him to be in extreme difficulties. It was even harder than the situation when he was doomed to die.

Suddenly from behind him in the darkness, a swift hand gently pressed against his Ling Tai accupoint. This Ling Tai accupoint consisted of twelve accupoints and every one of them was connected to the heart. Even if it was some one that did not know the intricate accupoint skill of the soft art, if a person will to receive a hard kick, it will very well be fatal.

He did not move because this coming death was a release to the hard choices that he had to make. But after awhile, that hand did not press forth.

Nangong Ping furrowed and coldly said. “Friend, why did you not make your move?” He was not even interested who was the surprise attacker and only interested to have a quick end.

A sweet voice sounded out from behind and softly said. “Fifth Brother, are you really not afraid to die?” This voice seemed to be the same as the voice he heard in the cell.

Nangong Ping was startled and he turned around. “Sister in law!”

Guo Yuxia was smiling captivating at him. “Guess what I have in my hands?”

There was a jolt in his head. “Antidote? Is this the antidote?”

Guo Yuxia laughed lovingly. “Fifth Brother you are indeed very intelligence. I am indeed holding the antidote.” She gently released her hand and a red color pill was seen under the starlight.

She melancholy sighed. “I know that because of this antidote you have risked your life. But still, you did not get it, right?”

Nangong Ping sighed and lowered his head.

Guo Yuxia continued. “In this world, there is many things that cannot be solved by martial skills alone. Do you know?”

Nangong Ping wanted to say something but he kept quiet.

Guo Yuxia continued. “When I reached Mulong Manor and heard your situation, I was very upset. But no matter how you treat me, you are still my protégé brother. How would I not try to protect you?” She was filled with concern but her eyes were analyzing but Nangong Ping did not notice.

Nangong Ping sighed and was guilty.

Guo Yuxia looked at his face and slowly added. “Therefore because of you, I am forced to co-operate with that Ren Fengping and finally managed to get his antidote. I even tricked him to take me to the place where you are imprisoned so that I can secretly come to rescue you. But I did not expect that you have escaped. I was really very happy for you but at the same time, frustrated. For knowing your temper, I know that you will not escape even if you will to die therefore I take the risk to come after you.”

Nangong Ping felt even more guilty and grateful. “Sister in law is indeed still my Sister in law. I have wronged her!” He thought. “She is doing all this for us protégé disciples.” He lifted his glance and looked into her beautiful eyes and thought. “Big Brother is really a lucky man.”

Guo Yuxia smiled but she sighed soon after. “I do not know what happen to Big Brother and Fourth Sister. Adding to it are the sorrows and anxieties…alas! Fifth Brother, you will not be able to understand.”

Nangong Ping felt even heart wrenching inside him. After awhile, he said. “Sister in law…I think that Big Brother is already back at Zhijiao Manor. After I…finish everything. I will go back to Zhijiao Manor.”

Guo Yuxia melancholy sighed. “I am after all just a woman. And your Third Brother doesn’t know any tact. If you were to accompany us, we can take care of one another but…” Nangong Ping said in a clear voice. “Although I cannot take care of Sister in law but…” He took out a Han Jade and placed it into Guo Yuxia’s hands. “With this jade Sister in law, no matter where you go, you will always be taken care of in the proprieties of my family business.”

He did not look directly in her eyes therefore he did not saw the expression of Guo Yuxia who looked on proudly. He could only feel that her hands were on his hands.

Nangong Ping was startled and moved back but as he moved back, he noticed that Guo Yuxia had placed the red pill into his hands and softly said. “Fifth Brother, after you finish all your things, do not forget to come back and visit your Sister in law. If you see your Big Brother, remember to ask him to hurry home.”

Nangong Ping all the more did not dare to lift his head.

She sighed and said. “Sister in law have done so many things for you, I wonder if you can help Sister in law to do three task?”

Nangong Ping was startled and he said firmly. “Even if Sister in law did not do anything for me, I will also do my best for Sister in law. This is the right thing.”

Guo Yuxia said. “This man that you are carrying is a Kunlun disciple and he and us have some misunderstanding. His martial skills are extremely high and I afraid that even if the five of us together are not his match. For the sake of uprooting this source of trouble, help Sister in law by hitting him on his death accupoint.”

Nangong Ping widened his eyes and was startled. He said in a clear voice. “If this man is rude to Sister in law, when he has wakened, I will challenge him to a life and death duel. Even if I have to die, I do it without regrets. Now that he is still unconscious and moreover he was handed over to me by someone therefore I cannot touch him now.”

Guo Yuxia said sunk her countenance and coldly said. “You have taken the antidote from me and now you won’t listen to Sister in law anymore. I wonder what will you do in the future.”

Nangong Ping turned ashen and said. “I…I…” He suddenly returned the antidote to her hands and said solemnly. “I rather not take this antidote than do something that goes against the conscious.”

Guo Yuxia suddenly lovingly laughed. “Sister in law is only testing you to see if you have forget the teachings of Mentor Master. How can you be serious with your Sister in law.” She returned the antidote to Nangong Ping.

Nangong Ping flashed his eyes and saw that she had a upset look in her eyes.

So he said. “As long as it is not this matter, I will undergo the tribulation of fire and accomplish any task for Sister in law.”

Guo Yuxia asked, “Do you treat Big Brother and Sister in law the same? If you treat Big Brother and Sister in law exactly the same, then Sister in law will be very happy.” She extended her hand and added. “I want you to hold Sister in law hand to show that you will not forget what you think today.”

Nangong Ping lowered his head and in the darkness saw her beautiful hand that was like jade. Somehow he became guarded and said. “I…I…”

Guo Yuxia asked. “Do you feel that Sister in law hand is too dirty?”

Nangong Ping sighed and extended his hand only to feel her soft hands suddenly tightened around him and a gentle and sweet feeling was felt in his heart from his hand.

Guo Yuxia softly said. “Fifth Brother, hope you do not forget what happen tonight…”

Nangong Ping felt a shiver in his heart. Before she could finish, he had loosened from her hands and sped away.

Guo Yuxia rolled her eyes and saw him disappeared into the darkness. She was smiling in a strange way. Suddenly a man speeded towards her in the darkness and caught her hand. He loudly said. “What are you holding in your hand?”

The man that suddenly appeared was Shi Chen. Not only was he upset but jealous too.

Guo Yuxia sunk her countenance and loosened her hand from him. “Who are you to me? That you can involve in my matter?”

Shi Chen turned ashen and angrily said. “You…you…you are a…” Suddenly he sighed and said. “After what you have done to Big Brother, I…but how can you be so…towards him…”

Guo Yuxia coldly laughed awhile and opened her hand. “This is what Fifth Brother had given me. With this jade, in a single day, I can withdraw tens of hundreds of thousands of silver. Can you do it?”

Shi Chen was startled and the rage on his face became torturous. He clenched his fists tightly.

Guo Yuxia looked at him coldly and turned around.

Shi Chen suddenly cried out and caught hold of her shoulders tightly. He seemed to want to tear her apart and to spill her cold blood out of her body.

Guo Yuxia expression changed and her right hand suddenly reached out and hit him in his Jiang Tai accupoint. But she could only touch his sleeve and not hit him. Her malevolent air that flashed suddenly was gone in the same instant as she attacked.

Now she was smiling most lovingly and softly said. “What are you doing? I am feeling so painful.” This captivating voice was much more painful to bear than when she had tried to hit him on his accupoint just a moment ago.

Shi Chen sighed and let go of his hands while she was gently rubbed her shoulders.

Guo Yuxia said. “It so painful, hurry and help me to rub.”

Shi Chen extended his hands unwittingly and began to help her to rub her shoulders.

Guo Yuxia looked lovingly at Shi Chen and said. “That is right…This is it…be gentle…”

Following her seductive fragrant, Shi Chen began to increase the speed of his rubbing…his eyes slowly betrayed a tinge of a desire of a beast…

Guo Yuxia dreamily said. “You silly. What do you think I will do with Fifth Brother? (En, no)…I just want to help them by contributing a little…(En, be gentle) … (Here)… (You… cannot)…

Suddenly she slipped out like a fish from Shi Chen’s hold and Shi Chen gave a cry out!

Guo Yuxia loving laughed. “I told you cannot. If you do not listen, you will have to suffer a little!” She brushed her long hair as she giggled for awhile. This laughter caused Shi Chen to forget his pain, his reasoning and once again plunged on her.

But suddenly her smiles and laughing ceased as she coldly said. “What are you doing?” She became as serious and inviolable as a sacred maiden was.

Shi Chen was startled and freezes in his track. It was like suddenly doused by a pail of cold water on his head.

When Guo Yuxia looked at him, she felt very proud within. She knew that this young man had totally fallen into her trap and became her slave. She was secretly delighted that all she had to do was to show some flesh and she could gain such a huge reward.

Therefore she softly sighed and said. “Chen…Chen, you know how much I feel toward you but why do you always want to let me feel upset and angry?”

Shi Chen stood upright on the ground but painfully looked down.

Guo Yuxia rolled her eyes and slowly said. “If you follow me, I will never allow others to take advantage of you. As long as you are obedience and not let me angry, how will I not like you?” She was solemn as she added. “But you must know although I like you but I cannot elope with you. There is going to be many changes in the Pugilist that will soon occur and it will be beyond our understanding. But for the sake of our future, I am forced to do many things. Do you know?”

Shi Chen nodded and Guo Yuxia explained, “Therefore no matter what is going to happen, you must not interfere. If you agree, you can be with me forever or else…”

She did not continued but slowly turned away to walk away. Shi Chen bit his teeth and used his hands to cover his face. He felt angry yet painful. He felt like killing her with a blow from his fist and ate her piece by piece inside him.

But Guo Yuxia turned around and softly said, “Why are you still standing here? Let us go. It is windy tonight.”

Shi Chen could not resist the urge to follow her sweet charming voice.

Although he had a thousand thoughts, he cast it aside.

Nangong Ping ran in the darkness carrying Zhan Donglai. Although this darkness hid many secrets and guilt that some people wished to conceal but now, in his eyes, the world was so beautiful and kind. Although there were a lot of evil men but those who were kind far exceeded the evil.

He had placed the red pill into a small sack and it was more precious to him than hundreds and even thousands of precious pearls. For no matter how valuable those pearls were, how could it compare to the life of a good friend?

It was not before long that he finally reached the areas outside Xian City. He remembered the same place where he shared with her. But now his eyes swept the area. The place was desolate of any people and there were only the wind, tree and grass. He increased his pace to comb the area. His eyes looked carefully around but still he could not see Mei Yinxue.

“Did she forsake her promise and have left already?” His heart sunk at this thought as he said aloud. “Maiden…Mei, Maiden Mei…” This was the place where she supposed to be. As long as she did not leave this area, how would she not have heard him?

Nangong Ping could only feel his breathing becoming as cold as the cold breeze as he thought. “She did not wait for me, why did she have to lie to me? What about Di Yang, is he still all right? Did she bring him away as well? Then all my efforts to bring this antidote…”

He sighed heavily and did not want to think over it anymore. Suddenly the dark cloud moved and the Moon was seen. A ray of light shone down and when he followed this ray of light, it was shone on Mei Yinxue’s face.

His heart jumped with exuberant joy as he shouted. “You are here!” He increased his pace and was besides her in an instant. But Mei Yinxue’s pale face and her exquisite beauty were cold and frosty and she looked idiocy. The only hint that she was aware was the light in her watery eyes. Other than that, there was totally no expression on her face. It was as though her accupoints had been hit and she temporary lost her strength. But then it also looked like someone used magic on her and now she was sitting idiocy beside a broken wall. Nangong Ping began to have a heart wrenching feeling in his heart, as he knew that something had befall her. “What happen to you…”

Even before he had finished, her eyes moved and glance in front of her in idiocy. She did not even glance at Nangong Ping.

Nangong Ping followed her glance and turned his head and suddenly discovered that five meters away on the opposite under a poplar tree was also another person sitting in a similar position. Only her eyes shone brightly in the darkness.

He focused his eyes and got a shock of his life. He exclaimed. “Maiden Ye, how come you are here!” He had not expected the person that was sitting under that poplar tree would be Danfeng Ye Qiubai disciple, the exquisite beautiful but cold yet noble Ye Manqing!

But Ye Manqing appeared not to hear or see after hearing him called out after her. She remained sitting motionless on the ground.

Nangong Ping was very puzzled and he put Zhan Donglai down. He looked intensely at the two extremely beautiful beauties that sat like rocks opposite one another and seemingly afflicted by magic.

He was stunned beyond words for awhile before he walked to Ye Manqing and asked. “Maiden Ye, did some one hit your accupoints?”

There was a tinge of mocking from the eyes of Ye Manqing yet she sat unmoving and refused to reply him. Nangong Ping looked at her carefully at her for a while and noticed that she was sitting in a noble and cold exquisite manner but shown no signs of being hit in her accupoints.

Nangong Ping was even more puzzled as he walked to Mei Yinxue who looked hatefully at him, seeming blaming him why did he show so much concern to someone else. He was very startled and he asked. “What is going on around here?” But she did not reply as well and became as dumb and deaf. He was startled and feeling anxious as he looked around. He asked aloud. “Where is Di Yang?

Where is he?”

Mei Yinxue stared without blinking at Ye Manqing. Ye Manqing stared without blinking at Mei Yinxue. Both of them did not even look at him and seemed like they had never even saw him.

For a moment, Nangong Ping looked at Ye Manqing who was on his left and then on Mei Yinxue who was on his right. He was so confused inside him that he could not tell what had happened.

Suddenly from the grass was a long green snake. The snake hissed and was just besides the knee of Ye Manqing. Although Ye Manqing looked extremely frightened but she did not move.

In the wilderness, most snakes were poisonous. In a panicky, Nangong Ping rushed to Ye Manqing and tried to catch the snake. He tried to catch hold of it but the snake moved like lightning speed to bite his exposed fresh.

Although Nangong Ping possessed martial ability but he was totally inexperience with snakes. With a startled cry, he flipped his hands and the snake slipped from his hand. Following his glance, he was startled to see the green snake had landed on Mei Yinxue body and it was now climbing onto her neck.

Mei Yinxue totally turned white with fright. And she had broke into a cold sweat yet she did not move.

Women were naturally afraid of snakes. No matter how brave a woman was when she saw snakes and rats, she would feel frightened. But why did she rather let a snake crawl over her, rather let herself be frightened till she turned white, rather let the snake bit her, rather than move her body. Why was it so?

Nangong Ping moved hurriedly to Mei Yinxue and extended his fingers to catch the snake. Now that he had some experience, he was prepared to grip it and crushed the snake to death.

But before he could do it, someone said from behind him. “Wait.” He turned around, startled by the voice. “You…”

It was Wan Da who had spoken and he was looking intensely at the green snake while pulling him behind his back.

Wan Da waved for to keep quiet while he walked gently but slowly towards Mei Yinxue. His face was very solemn and was like a pugilist fighter that was facing a life and death duel.

When Nangong Ping saw his solemn face, he knew instantly that he had been right. That snake was extremely poisonous. If he had failed to catch it, then Mei Yinxue would have to lose her life. When he thought of this, he broke into a cold sweat.

There was silence all around and he could only hear the sound of his beating

heart.

The ugly scaly snake had by now slipped up to Mei Yinxue shoulder. Its

tongue was constantly hissing out and hissing against Mei Yinxue’s face. Even Ye Manqing who was sitting opposite could not help but felt frightened in her eyes.

Wan Da footstep became even more lighter, slower…

Nangong Ping clenched his fists tightly as Wan Da hands moved lightning speed to catch hold of the snake and he threw it away seven feet away and took a dagger and threw it. It pierced the snake and after a soon, the snake did not move.

Finally Wan Da breath a sign of relief and Nangong Ping hands was covered with cold sweat.

But Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing was still sitting rigidly and did not move.

It was like that the scary situation did not happen at all. After Nangong Ping calm himself down, he heard Wan Da muttering. “It so close…so close…”

Nangong Ping could not resist but asked. “What is going on around here?” Wan Da replied, “This type of green snake is not commonly seen in the

Central Plains. But it is greatly feared outside the Pass. The poison of this snake is extremely venomous. Even if you had straggle it to death, from its poisonous fangs; it can even spit a poisonous liquid. I really never expect to see such a poisonous snake here.

Nangong Ping sighed and he felt very lucky within. If it was not for this old pugilist, the worse could have happened. And he turned his glance to the dead snake.

“But I am not asking about the snake. I ask you…this…” He pointed at Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing gently and asked. “What is going on here and where is Brother Di?”

Wan Da sighed as he retrieved his dagger and cleaned it with a white cloth. “Maiden Mei and I had been waiting for you all day and Di Yang poison was worrying us. Maiden Mei wanted to seal off his accupoints but I am afraid that the poison will enter deeper into his bloodstream and endangering him even more.”

He glanced at Mei Yinxue for awhile before saying. “Therefore I try to find a cool place for Di Yang to rest and to await you. But Maiden Mei refused and that since she had promised to wait for you here. Even if she has to wait till the heaven collapsed, the ground give way, the ocean dried up and everything crumble into dust, she will not move a single step away.”

Nangong Ping felt a warm feeling in his heart and could not resist giving Mei Yinxue a look. Mei Yinxue happened to glance at him with her frightened eyes and they looked at one another and his heart jumped. “And then?” He asked.

Wan Da replied. “Until dusk, I have to go and find some food and water. But Mei Yinxue refused to eat and only drink two mouthful of water and keep looking in the direction that you have gone. Although she never said but I knew why she was feeling anxious about. Actually how could I not be anxious for you as well?

When it was dark, I went to gather some wood to build a fire…”

He paused again and looked at Ye Manqing awhile. “At this moment, Maiden Ye after hearing the cries of Di Yang found us…” He looked around and said in a even lower voice. “This Maiden Ye seemed to be looking for you too. When she saw Maiden Mei, there was a change in her countenance. And she asked. ‘Nangong Ping, are you injured?’ She must have guessed who is Maiden Mei and have deducted that the one with her must be you.”

Nangong Ping unwittingly sighed and did not know whether should he be happy or feel warm. He tried his best not to look at Maiden Ye, yet he could not resist and glanced at her. Therefore two glances met and Nangong Ping’s heart jumped again. He quickly asked. “And then?”

“And then…” Wan Da sighed and softly replied. “Mei Yinxue asked her sarcastically who was she? Then the two of them…haiz, haiz…they seemed to instantly clashed with words…haiz, haiz…” He cold not help sighing because it was so hard to explain in words. How could he say that they quarrel only because of Nangong Ping?

Nangong Ping sighed and asked. “After…then…what…happen…” He had guessed the meaning in Wan Da speech.

Wan Da said. “The two maidens were talking there, naturally I did not dare to interrupt and did not try to listen to their conversations. I only heard the last part…haiz, haiz…” He looked sheepishly around him.

Nangong Ping could not resist interrupting. “What did they say?”

Wan Da replied. “I only heard Maiden Mei sarcastically laughed. ‘That is right. I am already thirty-four years old. Naturally I am fit to be your Old Senior. Now I want to teach you this Junior for your rudeness.’”

Nangong Ping was perplexed and secretly puzzled. “So it seemed that Ye Manqing had addressed her as Old Senior. Why then did she say that Ye Manqing is rude?”

Although he had exceptional intelligence but he could never guess what a woman was thinking. Ye Manqing was reminding Mei Yinxue of her age that she could only be fit to be Nangong Ping ‘Old Senior’. So how could Mei Yinxue not be angry?

Wan Da interrupted his thoughts. “Therefore Maiden Ye is naturally…becomes angry. At this moment, Di Yang was crying out in pain so I hurried to attend him. They quarrel a few more lines of words before I heard Maiden Ye coldly said. “The people in Pugilist has nicked you as the Cold Blood Concubine. I guess that it was because you are extremely composed and calm. You and me will have a challenge on mediation. No matter under which circumstances, whoever moves first, it is considered a defeat.”

Nangong Ping was startled and thought. “That Ye Manqing is really extremely bright. She and that Danfeng Ye Qiubai trained under that chilling cold environment on Huashan for ten years. Not to mention her other martial abilities but just this ‘Sit’ martial principle, she is stronger than everyone else.”

He could not resist glancing at Mei Yinxue and then asked. “Did she agree?” Wan Da slowly said. “How could Maiden Mei possibly not agree to it?…” Before he had finished, Nangong Ping suddenly remembered that Mei

Yinxue could bear even ten years of loneliness and heartache in a coffin. The willpower to do so is not possible for anyone to endure. Therefore, would mediation prove to be hard for her?

Nangong Ping sighed deeply. And glanced at both Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing. And he thought. “In the training of inner strength, ‘Sit’ is a superior technique. If it were other girls, the challenge will soon be over for hunger, cold, darkness, terror, loneliness…excluding these factors, just based on this eerie woods where any disturbances would occur, it will be extremely hard for other girls to be as composed. But these two women have a different experience from the rest, and their behaviors are also different too. Therefore it is impossible for them to move within a day or two.”

Wan Da saw Nangong Ping startled look and he did not know whether to feel sorry, worry, admire or happy for him. Although he was curious, he did not ask.

Nangong Ping sighed deeply. “They…I wonder in what year, which month will their challenge end.”

Wan Da softly said. “Let not talk about this first. But no matter who win, what will you do?”

Nangong Ping was stunned and he slowly asked. “Then what shall I do?” Wan Da sighed. “What you going to do?”

Suddenly Nangong Ping shouted aloud. “Then what happen to Brother Di Yang?”

Wan Da sighed deeply. “The poison on 'Fragrance of a Thousand Miles' Ren Fengping mace not only kill but it could also a person’s senses to be disorientated. Di Yang had been behaving in a wild manner for a day now and when the first starlight was seen, he became crazed all of a sudden. As I was observing Maiden Mei movements and also I had to take of him, I was momentarily distracted when Maiden Mei and Maiden Ye made that challenge. At the same time Di Yang suddenly broke free of my hold in my lapse and ran off in the darkness.”

Nangong Ping expression changed. “Did you all not go after him?”

Wan Da said. “Maiden Mei and Maiden Ye had began their challenge on the mediation technique and will not move. Naturally they will not go after him.”

Nangong Ping expression changed. “What about you?”

Wan Da sighed. “I immediately go after him but that friend Di Yang although he was afflicted by a powerful poison but his movements are so shocking. I have never seen such a display before. I don’t know if it was because his swiftness movement skill was originally extremely good or the poison caused such an effect. No matter how hard I tried to chase after him, not even awhile, I can’t even see his figure anymore.”

Nangong Ping clenched his fists and looked hatefully at Mei Yinxue. “You did not manage to find him therefore you have returned, am I right?” Wan Da sighed. “I did not manage to find him. After shouting in several places and lost for ideas, I returned and saw that green snake.”

Nangong Ping said aloud. “Which direction did he go?”

Wan Da pointed to the west and Nangong Ping said. “Take me there.” He extended his hand to grip Wan Da and the two of them ran across the

field.

Wan Da could only feel a strong force holding him and he was lifted up. He

thought. “After a period of separation, his martial abilities have indeed tremendous improved but…alas! But who will expect that although he is composed and calm but still he is ever so rush in matters of emotions. It is just like before.”

Therefore the night became even quieter. Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing unwittingly took a glance to the direction at which Nangong Ping had gone. But their eyes were instantly staring at one another once again…

The semi-conscious Zhan Donglai had began to wake. He looked at his surrounding in a daze. Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing did not know who this young man in cotton clothing was. Was he sick? Was he injured? Was he Nangong Ping’s enemy? Or was he a friend of Nangong Ping?

Suddenly he rose up and he looked very startled yet very puzzled. He looked around and saw Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing and he looked even more weird. And his eyes widened and he asked. “Where is this place? And why am I here?”

Now he discovered that sitting in front of him were two extremely beautiful women that even if he had walked across the entire fraternity, he would not be able to find such peerless beauties. Their expressions were like stones and although their glances were on him but it seemed that none of them had heard it.

Although he was usually a brave person, he could not help feeling startled.

He looked stunned for awhile before he shouted loudly. “Yu Er, Dan Er…”

Suddenly he turned around and said loudly. “What is this place? How did I reach here?”

Zhan Donglai heart shivered as he looked at these two extremely beautiful women who remained motionless and they were not even looking at him now. He thought. “Did I encounter ghosts? Or else how can I be here? I suppose to be at Mulong Manor.” Suddenly he moved away like a meteor after he sighed.

Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing could not help but feel a shiver within them as they thought. “This young man has such a terrifying swiftness skill.” Both of them were quietly praising yet when they thought of his expressions, they could not help feeling funny.

But after awhile, this young man in cotton clothing with his hands behind, was back. He walked slowly and looked carefully at Mei Yinxue awhile and then looked carefully at Ye Manqing for awhile. He walked back to Mei Yinxue and with his head lowered and said. “Hello, hello, hello…Can you hear me?”

Mei Yinxue did not move her head or her eyes. Zhan Donglai looked at her from up and down with his hands behind and then walked to Ye Manqing. He lowered his head and said. “Hello, hello, hello…” But Ye Manqing did not move too.

But in her eyes and Mei Yinxue, flashed a tinge of anger. How could this young man be so arrogant and rude in his gesture?

Suddenly he shouted. “Hello!” This shout was very loud and reached to the heavens. Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing was startled. Although their composure were extraordinary but their eyelids unwittingly moved.

Zhan Donglai laughed. “I see that the two of you are not deaf. Haha…I am original feeling sorry for the two of you. Young and beautiful but if you are deaf or mute, it will be such a pity!” Suddenly he became solemn. “If the two of them are not deaf or mute, why did you not reply me? Are you trying to ignore me? Or looking down on me?

Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing felt that this young man although possessed very high martial abilities, handsome yet his attitude was really arrogant to the point of hateful. Therefore the two of them were even angrier but still, they did not move.

Zhan Donglai looked at Mei Yinxue and then at Ye Manqing before he laughed aloud. “Very good. I know it. It must be that Heaven is afraid I be too lonely and send me two beautiful maidens.” He looked at Mei Yinxue and asked. “Am I right?” And he looked at Ye Manqing. “Am I right?” And laughed again. “I think it is right. Silence is consent.”

Mei Yinxue tried to suppress her anger and hope that Ye Manqing would be the first to move. So that she could get up and teach this arrogant heretic a lesson.

Ye Manqing looked at Mei Yinxue and wished for her to move. Her desire was no less than Mei Yinxue was.

The two of them stared at one another and were really anger to the bursting point. But none of them moved.

Zhan Donglai clapped his hands and sighed. He looked very perplexed as he said. “Alas Heaven, Heaven. You are so kind to me but also a little playful. These two are both so beautiful. What shall I do then? I have only one body and one of them have to be the wife and the another a concubine. One first, one last haiz!

Then who shall be the wife? Who shall be the concubine? Who shall be the first? Who shall be the last?”

He was muttering and then he slowly walked over to Ye Manqing and touched her on her cheeks and sighed. “This one is so young, so beautiful. How can I bear to let you be the concubine? How can I bear to let you wait awhile for me?” He was play-acting and muttering as he walked over to Mei Yinxue and touched her on her cheeks. “But, this is not as worse as the other?”

Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing glances almost spat fire. The two of them did not look at Zhan Donglai but viciously at one another and hoping to see which among them would make the first move.

Although he was angry, he was also feeling afraid and worry. As Wan Da and he ran around, he hatefully said. “How can she be so muddle-headed and let Di Yang ran off. It obvious that she knew that Di Yang was severely poisoned and obviously she knew that I had risked my life to get the antidote, alas! If I cannot find Di Yang…alas! Di Yang’s life will be as good as losing in their hands.”

Wan Da asked. “Master, these two maidens who are sitting there, I afraid…afraid that they may be in danger.”

Nangong Ping stopped for awhile and he suddenly hatefully replied. “Then what about the life of Brother Di?”

Wan Da sighed. “But no matter what. If he had once befriend a friend such as you, it really a blissful thing.”

Nangong Ping explained. “Brother Di was poisoned because of me and

…now …he …he …he …alas! Can I still be considered a friend of his? I…I simple…” Now his voice was in a state of turmoil and could not form words. Although he could risk his life but when he thought of the sacrifice made by another, he could not help feeling anxious and his tears dropped.

Wan Da was silenced for awhile and he said. “In every ten hundred thousand people, if there is anyone that thinks like you, this world will be more peaceful and joyous.”

Nangong Ping was shouting. “Brother Di, Brother Di, can you hear me?” Wan Da sighed. “His senses are now confused. Even if you shout in his ears,

he would not hear you.”

Nangong Ping sighed. “Then what should I do? Do we…”

Wan Da said. “Now it is very dark. If you want to search for anyone, it is really as hard as ascending the sky. Although he is deeply poisoned but I have already protected his heart. With a day and a half, his life will not in a danger. Now you and me, we should go back and ask these two maidens to stop their challenge. They have no vendetta against one another therefore they would listen to you.

When it is dawn, the four of us will go in four directions to search.”

Nangong Ping legs had not touched the ground after running for a long time as he sprang in great haste on the grasses. And he was extremely tired therefore when he tried to talk; he was breathless as well.

Nangong Ping sighed deeply as he slowed down. “But…but…” Suddenly there was a “Hello” loud coming from faraway. Although this shout came from far, but it was very clear due to the strong internal strength of the person shouting it.

Nangong Ping asked. “Who is this person?” Da Wan asked as well. “Who is this person?”

The two of them asked at the same time and ended at the same time.

Suddenly they turned back and ran.

Wan Da looked troubled while Nangong Ping exclaimed. “It is exactly as you said. In this dark recess of the night, if something happens to the two women…”

Wan Da asked. “These two maidens possess extraordinary techniques. If they really meet with an accident, will they really remained motionless just because they want to fight for their pride?”

Nangong Ping sighed. “These two people’s norm, sometimes you can never use normal deduction to analyze…”

Before he could finish, there was another wave of laughter as Nangong Ping loosened his hand and said. “Let me go ahead first!”

He increased the flow of vital energies as he speeded hastily in front. After some time he finally reached the place where Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing was.

He glanced around and saw Zhan Donglai who he had rescued from Mulong Manor was now touching Mei Yinxue’s hair and laughing. “What a soft and beautiful hair. It just like as smooth as a sculpture. It must be my karma from my previous lives…”

Nangong Ping was angry as he shouted. “Come here Zhan Donglai, stop!”

Zhan Donglai was feeling strange and only thought that the angry eyes of the two maidens only increased their charm. For he thought that if they really disliked him why then did they not struggle and instead suffered in silence?

This shout jolted him to his senses and he turned around to see a handsome young man. He was startled, angry and strange that he would know his name. So he said aloud. “Who is you? How did you know my name?”

Nangong Ping said solemnly. “I carried you from Mulong Manor, naturally I know your name.”

Zhan Donglai was startled “You carried me…”

Nangong Ping said. “You had been drugged and had been unconscious. If it wasn't Wei Qi that has saved you. Now you would be probably be dead.”

Zhan Donglai muttered. “I was drugged…Wei Qi saved me…”

Nangong Ping angrily said. “Indeed! You just escaped from a dire situation and how could you be so rude to a woman who you did not know?”

Zhan Donglai waved his hand slightly. “Wait, wait. I really can’t get it now.

So you mean, these two maidens are your friends?” Nangong Ping replied, “Indeed they are!”

Zhan Donglai laughed and said. “No wonder you are so anxious. But…don’t you worry. I always have been very generous. And moreover you have help me and these two maidens are your friends. Therefore I will share with you one of them, other matters can slowly wait.”

This man speech was really arrogant, shameless and hateful!

Nangong Ping could not believe that such words would come out from the mouth of this handsome young man. He clenched his fists and angrily exclaimed. “Is this the word of a human being? Do you feel any shame at all by saying such words?”

Zhan Donglai looked solemn and said aloud. “What did you say?”

Nangong Ping solemnly said. “I want to punish you in the place of you parents and elders. You heretic disciple.”

Zhan Donglai laughed and said. “You want to teach me a lesson? Oh good…”

Nangong Ping shouted. “What oh good?” As he struck toward Zhan Donglai. This attack had no strokes; it was simply that of a father disciplining his child or a strict teacher disciplining his protégés. “Base on this…”

Zhan Donglai laughed. How could he take much notice of such a simple attack? In his eyes, such an attack was puny. He knocked aside Nangong Ping wrist and there was a strong invisible force that seemed to extend from his hands.

Nangong Ping would never expect that Zhan Donglai would be capable of using such strong vital strength as he felt he felt his body getting numbed and he backed off several steps.

Because of the wishes of Wei Qi, Nangong Ping did not want to hurt anyone but because he could not tolerate Zhan Donglai egoistic ways, he wanted to teach him a lesson.

Nangong Ping attacked seven times at Zhan Donglai who was using just his right hand. Although he had blocked all of Nangong Ping’s attacks but his right hands felt numbed.

By now Wan Da had reached the scene and was surprised to see the two men fighting. Wan Da could not separate the two figures that were fighting for they were simple too fast. Although his martial abilities were not high but he had roamed the Pugilist and was knowledgeable. After a hundred blows flew by, he could not help wondering about the intricate of both their attacks. He really could not tell who had the upper hand. Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing both looked on solemnly as their eyes followed Nangong Ping. Suddenly Zhan Donglai yelled and he began to use both his hands now. The power of both of his hands were not to be underestimated as his strokes got more and more ingenious and fast.

Wan Da looked at Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing and was startled. He thought. “Their expressions have turned ashen. Is Nangong Ping losing?”

Now he hoped that one of them would lend a helping hand to Nangong Ping.

He thought. “If one of them will lend a helping hand, then surely she has placed Nangong Ping’s safety above that of herself. But these two cold and frosty maidens, would they be so warm hearted?”

Suddenly he was interrupted by a shout from Nangong Ping who spread his hands and jumped up!”

Wan Da was delighted in his heart. “He is going to use his benevolent teacher secret technique and soon in an instant, he will overturn the table and become the victor.”

But Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing countenance underwent a great change as the two of them cried out together as they flashed like lightning towards Zhan Donglai.

Because Nangong Ping had been exerting a lot these few days and his vital strength was not at his peak. Therefore his strokes and changes were also slower. When he used this stroke ‘The Dragon Ascending’, was really under pressure and rage. He wanted to sacrifice himself so he could hit his opponent as well.

But Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing who was observing by the side knew instantly that with his present vital strength and stamina, this stroke once it was used, was really suicidal.

Zhan Donglai coldly laughed and he just dodged. When he was about six inches from Nangong Ping and was about to use his killer strokes, he senses two windforces behind him. Startled, he withdrawn his hands and back off seven feet in an instant.

Nangong Ping fell to the ground like a meteor. After he had used the ‘The Dragon Ascending’ Stance, he had no more strength and when Zhan Donglai suddenly retreated, he could not withdrawn his stance in time.

But suddenly two soft and gentle hands held him by his arms as it supported him down. He only saw Mei Yinxue and Ye Manqing watery eyes looking at him. Their eyes were filled with concern and a deep appreciation. Then all of a sudden, together they rushed toward the direction of Zhan Donglai.