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The Thrush Chapter 26


Tiger Den Dragon Pool

The starlight has risen, under such a gentle and soft starlight, even the strongest woman will become weak, Gong Nanyan already snuggled into Xiong Niangzi’s arms.

Xiong Niangzi stroked her soft hair gently, he spoke softly, “You ought to know that we can never be together forever.”

Gong Nanyan said, “I know.”

Xiong Niangzi said, “You won’t regret it?”

Gong Nanyan said, “I definitely will not regret it. As long as there is one time, I can have a sweet memory in the future. Even if I have to die, I will be most willing.”

Xiong Niangzi did not speak anymore, his hand slipped into her clothes …

Although Chu Liuxiang was not a gentleman, he could not watch it any longer. He quietly turned around and looked up at the stars in the sky. The stars seemed to wink at him.

Unexpectedly Gong Nanyan was that kind of girl, he really had never expected it.

However, when a girl reaches her age, who doesn’t harbor spring in her heart [idiom: yearning for love]?

Chu Liuxiang sighed in his heart, he smiled wryly inwardly.

He seemed a bit regretful, why did he miss the opportunity?

Suddenly Gong Nanyan said, “You … where are you going?”

Chu Liuxiang could not help turning his head around to glance, only to see Xiong Niangzi suddenly sat up from the boat, he sighed softly and said, “I hate to go as well, but it’s getting late, I must go …”

Gong Nanyan said, “You are going to look for Xiao Jing’s …”

Xiong Niangzi sighed and said, “No matter what, I am, after all, her father, I should go to see her final destination.”

Gong Nanyan said, “You don’t have to worry, I will take you there, now …”

A milky, clear and tender arm stretched out from the small boat to pull Xiong Niangzi down again – he had been waiting for Gong Nanyan to say this.

Naturally Chu Liuxiang also knew that Xiong Niangzi was using her, but he could neither reveal it nor stop it, because Gong Nanyan was most willing to do this.

He knew that when a woman was determined to do this, no one could stop her, otherwise even if she did not kill you, she would hate you for the rest of her life.

The light boat suddenly shook violently, the breeze carried the sound of ecstatic moan, the starlight became more hazy.

Chu Liuxiang could only close his eyes.

But he could not cover his ears. Half a day later, he heard Gong Nanyan whisper as if she was talking in her sleep, “You are really … really … no wonder those women willingly die for you, no wonder she cannot forget you forever, I am afraid even if she died, she cannot forget you.”

Chu Liuxiang could not help but wonder.

Who was the ‘she’ that Gong Nanyan was talking about? Was she Xiong Niangzi’s lover?

Panting for breath in low voice, Xiong Niangzi said, “You are very good too.”

Gong Nanyan spoke slyly, “Am I better than her?”

Xiong Niangzi said, “Why do you always mention her, could it be that you and her  are also …”

Gong Nanyan suddenly tittered, she said, “Do you know why I am being nice to you?”

Apparently Xiong Niangzi was stunned, he said, “Could it be because she …”

“That’s right,” Gong Nanyan said, “Because she has you, so I must have you too.”

As soon as she finished speaking, Xiong Niangzi suddenly let out a scream.

Chu Liuxiang was shocked, he turned his head to look, only to see that Xiong Niangzi already stood up naked on the boat, he stood on the bow, trembling.

Under the starlight, in the dense fog, blood was constantly gushing out from his pale chest.

He heard Gong Nanyan tittered again and said, “Why should you be surprised, I just want to dig out your heart and take a look, that’s all.”

Xiong Niangzi pressed both hands tightly against the wound on his chest, he spoke in a trembling voice, “You … Why do you do this?”

Gong Nanyan said, “You still don’t know? Do you think I really like you?”

She did not stop laughing, suddenly she also stood up. Under the hazy starlight, her mature young woman’s naked body looked sparkling and translucent like jade.

But her face carried a demon-incarnate like sinister appearance, and her beautiful eyes were full of bitter resentment and murderous intent even more. She glowered at Xiong Niangzi and said, “To tell you the truth, I have wanted to kill you for a long time. I can’t stand her mentioning you in front of me, saying how much I look like you. As soon as she mentioned you, it was so unbearable for me that I go crazy.”

Xiong Niangzi spoke hoarsely, “You … you are jealous? Could it be that you unexpectedly fall in love with her?”

Gong Nanyan spoke loudly, “Why can’t I fall in love with her? Why can’t I?”

Xiong Niangzi looked at her in shock, yet his person collapsed.

Now, Chu Liuxiang did not know whether the ‘she’ that Gong Nanyan was talking about was a man or a woman.

If ‘she’ was a man, how could she be Xiong Niangzi’s lover?

If ‘she’ was a woman, how could Gong Nanyan fall in love with her?

[Translator’s note: in Chinese, although the characters for ‘he’ and ‘she’ are different, the pronunciation is exactly the same. However, in the original text, the character used was ‘she’.]

Chu Liuxiang really could not guess what exactly was the relationship between the three of them [here, the ‘them’ was feminine], the relationship between these three people was too complicated.

Only to hear ‘Splosh!’, Xiong Niangzi had already fallen into the running water. After twenty years of ascetic repentance [Buddhism], he was still unable to wash away his sins.

In the end, he still died at the hands of a woman.

Gong Nanyan stood on the bow of the boat, staring in a daze at the flowing water under the starlight.

And then she also jumped into the water and washed every fen and every cun of her body clean. By the time she was dressed again, she looked so pure and holy again.

The night was dark, but the thick fog was somewhat lighter instead.

Creating a soft noise, the light boat floated into the dense night again.

Chu Liuxiang did not even think about it, he also dived into the water. Others said that his qinggong was number one, but he himself believed that his water skill was much better than his qinggong.

Even a fish jumping into the water might not necessarily be as agile as him.

The light boat was sailing ahead, he lurked underwater, following its trail secretly. He believed that at this moment, Gong Nanyan would definitely not detect that someone was following behind her.

No matter who, after doing that kind of thing, inevitably one’s senses would become somewhat dulled.

In the starry and foggy night, the scenery by the creek must be very beautiful. Although Chu Liuxiang could not see it, he could imagine. And imagination is always much more beautiful than the reality.

After traveling no one knows how long, he found out that the small boat had floated into a mountain crevice. There were many aquatic plants at the bottom of the water, moreover, it carried some kind of a gloomy, sinister aura.

He also wanted to stick his head out to take a look, but he did not do so. After half a day, he heard the sound of the small boat coming to shore.

He still did not stick his head out. He had never tried how long he could hide underwater. Song Tian’er always thought he could sleep underwater.

The underwater world was much quieter than above the water.

He waited again for a long time, but still could not hear any sound, thereupon, using a pile of water plants to cover his head, he quietly exposed his eyes from under the water.

He finally saw Shen Shui Gong.

This was the valley of the human world, it was simply a scroll of exquisite painting.

Chu Liuxiang recalled that Su Rongrong once said that there were thousands of birds of all kinds in the valley, but now the birds were asleep, yet the people seemed to be still awake.

In the picturesque mountains and forests, dots of light were still lit, reflecting the layers of pavilions [small, booth], balconies, multi-story buildings and two-storied pavilions, bamboo and rattan cottages, but also reflecting the waterfall.

The waterfall was dropping from the sky [idiom: arising abruptly], flying beads [of pearls] and splashing jade, brilliant like silver. The amazing thing was that such a large waterfall hung upside down midair and spilled into the lake. The sound of the water was not ear-splitting at all, instead, it was like the sound of qin and music of jade. Listening to it, one would feel full of vitality [idiom], obviously the water power has been ingeniously drained a lot.

Amidst the sound of the wind, there seemed to be a faint sound of bamboo instruments, against the sound of precious-stone-and-jade-like running water, making this picturesque valley appeared to be more peaceful and serene.

But Chu Liuxiang remembered that Su Rongrong’s [paternal] aunt once warned her, “If you walk randomly around in the valley, there might be terrible disasters immediately.” In such a peaceful and serene place, how can there be terrible disasters?

Chu Liuxiang already discovered that this place was not as peaceful as it seems on the surface, and ‘Shen Shui Gong’ was not as pure and holy place as the legends say.

There must be many astonishing and terrifying secrets hidden here.

Now he not only had to explain the misunderstanding to the ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji, but was also determined to investigate the secrets here, therefore, he had to act even more carefully.

The light boat was still on the shore, but Gong Nanyan was nowhere to be seen. The valley was extremely quiet without any sign of human, Chu Liuxiang really did not know where to start.

He pondered for half a day, and suddenly remembered Wuhua’s encounter – everything started in a tiny nunnery.

As far as the eye could see, there was indeed a nunnery at the foot of the mountain. Could it be that ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was in this nunnery? Chu Liuxiang made up his mind that no matter what, he would go to this nunnery first to get to the bottom of it.

The lights in the nunnery were dim, it flickered like a ghost fire.

It took Chu Liuxiang almost half a sichen to sneak quietly from the shore to this place, he was certain that he never made a noise louder than a mosquito.

Although this journey was not far, in the world, apart from Chu Liuxiang, perhaps there was not a second person who could travel it.

The nunnery was quiet with no one in sight, untainted by even a speck of dust, but the several dozens of stone steps in front of the nunnery were flat and smooth and clean like a mirror. The light could be seen in front of the low-hanging curtain behind the idol, a bean-sized lamp. Chu Liuxiang examined everything around for a long time. After he ascertained that there was absolutely no one here, he flew in.

He knew that there was a secret passage in this nunnery, which might lead to ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s residence, but where exactly was this secret passage?

In front of the idol’s altar, there were three putuan [praying mat made of woven cattail], could it be that the secret passage was under the putuan?

Chu Liuxiang removed all three putuan, under the putuan was a flat stone floor. He sighed in disappointment, and moved his eyes to the curtain behind the idol.

He could not help reaching out to lift the curtain.

However, right this moment, he suddenly heard a sigh.

The sigh was so soft, but the moment Chu Liuxiang heard it, it was no different from thunderbolt from a clear blue sky. He wanted to retreat, but knew that it was too late.

Under the ghost-fire-like light, he had already seen a figure in white. She suddenly appeared from the ground like a ghost, and was quietly looking at Chu Liuxiang.

He heard her sighing and said, “There has not been any bloodshed here for twenty years, why do you insist on dying here?”

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang rubbed his nose and said, “To be honest, I really don’t want to die here.”

He discovered that this was a very beautiful woman, but the ruthless years have left some cruel marks on her face.

Although her gaze was also completely cold and detached, there was no murderous intent at all.

Could this be the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji that people all over the world fear like a tiger?

The beautiful middle-aged woman in white was still looking at him quietly.

Chu Liuxiang forced a laughter and said, “Wanbei is coming here this time, only wanted to pay my respects to Gongzhu [palace master] …”

The beautiful woman in white shook her head and said, “I’m not the person you want to meet, otherwise do you think you are still alive by now?”

Chu Liuxiang’s eyes flashed, he said, “Then Qianbei is …”

The beautiful woman in white said, “You’re about to die, why do you need to ask other people’s names?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “If Qianbei wanted to kill me, why haven’t you made your move?”

The beautiful woman in white said sadly, “I can’t make my move, in this world, I only have one relative, how can I kill her beloved?”

Emotionally moved, Chu Liuxiang said, “Qianbei knows that I am …”

The beautiful woman in white laughed indifferently, she said, “In the world, apart from Chu Liuxiang, who else can get here? Who else has such big guts?”

Chu Liuxiang bowed deeply and said, “Wanbei has already heard Rong’er talking about you, the Senior. Today Wanbei can see you, the Senior, it is indeed a gargantuan good luck.”

The beautiful woman in white said, “I’ve also heard Rong’er talking about you. If it wasn’t for you, Rong’er would have wandered about destitute I don’t know to what degree. It is precisely to repay your kindness, that I cannot make things difficult for you.”

She glanced around and went on, “Luckily, I am on duty today, others won’t come here. Quickly go!”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Since Wanbei is already here, good or bad I must see Yin Gongzhu.”

The beautiful woman in white’s countenance sank, she spoke sternly, “You will never see her, unless you insist on dying here.”

Chu Liuxiang bowed and said, “Begging you, the Senior to point out the bright way, Wanbei would be extremely grateful, as for other things, Wanbei will definitely not dare to inconvenient you, the Senior.”

The beautiful woman in white practically did not pay him any attention, she simply waved her hand and said, “Quickly go, otherwise it will be too late. Hurry.”

Chu Liuxiang also appeared to not understanding what she said, he still bowed and said, “Wanbei knows that there is a secret passage in this place …”

The beautiful woman in white’s countenance changed, she said, “Secret passage? What secret passage?”

Chu Liuxiang saw that when she heard ‘secret passage’, two words, immediately her expression changed greatly. From this, it could be seen that she must have a very close relationship with this secret passage. He did not want to leave even more. Smiling apologetically, he said, “If there is no secret passage here, where did you, the Senior come from?”

The beautiful woman in white spoke angrily, “Could it be that you are really tired of living?”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled, he said, “If you, the Senior areunwilling to speak, Wanbei will have no choice but to die here.”

The beautiful woman in white glared at him, she really had never seen a man like this before. She never expected even more that there were such people in the world who could still laugh at time like this.

Chu Liuxiang also really suppressed his qi, she did not speak, he simply waited quietly. Right this moment, the melodious music that seemed to be there but also appeared not to be there – suddenly became urgent, like the rain hitting banana leaves, like beads of pearl falling on a jade plate, clanging and tinkling unendingly.

The beautiful woman in white’s countenance suddenly changed, she spoke heavily, “Who else came with you?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “It’s just Wanbei one person, there is no …”

The beautiful woman in white had a look of panic on her face, she cut him off, saying, “That sound of music is a warning sign that there’s an outsider coming into the valley. If they are not your companion, who could it be?”

Inwardly Chu Liuxiang was also shocked, it was only then did he know that this Divine Water Palace was indeed strictly guarded, unexpectedly even the fairy-sounding music was a way to sound the alarm.

The beautiful woman in white dashed to the door, glanced around, and withdrew again. She spoke sternly, “Although the people have not arrived, but once the alarm is sounded, the disciples in the valley are already in their respective positions. No matter who, anybody who takes one step into the valley, once coming, there will be no return. Why haven’t you gone quickly but stayed here? Could it be that you simply must implicate me?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Since this valley has become a valley of death, I am afraid that even a bird will find it difficult to fly across. But which direction do you want Wanbei to go?”

The beautiful woman in white’s countenance changed, she said, “You … you might as well find a place to hide first, when things are over, I’ll try to take you out.”

Chu Liuxiang rolled his eyes. Stroking his nose, he said, “If Wanbei walks around randomly, maybe there will be danger at every step, Wanbei doesn’t know where to hide unless Qianbei shows the secret passage and lets Wanbei hide inside.”

The beautiful woman in white stomped her feet and said, “Secret passage, secret passage, you know that there is a secret passage here, but you don’t know that the hub of this secret passage is inside Gongzhu’s bedroom. You can only come out from the inside, people from the outside simply can’t go in.”

Chu Liuxiang was stunned. His heart could not help sinking straight down.

This moment, the rapid music was slowing down again, but Chu Liuxiang already knew that in this slow rhythm, murderous intent was lurking in every beat.

He also knew that this beautiful woman in white’s panic was by no means faked. If the Master of the Divine Water Palace knew that she was cooperating with the enemy, the consequences would be too horrible to contemplate.

Thereupon Chu Liuxiang did not say anything anymore, he simply bowed with cupped fist and said, “Thank you Qianbei for giving advice.” Even before his words were finished, he already turned around and flew out.

The beautiful woman in white appeared to be wanting to run after him, but she halted her steps. Her beautiful eyes were brimming with pain, she spoke sadly, “Rong’er, don’t blame me, it’s not that I don’t want to save him, I really am powerless.”

She knew that as soon as he was out of this nunnery, Chu Liuxiang had already entered death.

The night was very dark, every place seemed to be a perfect hiding place, but Chu Liuxiang knew that everywhere in the dark, there could be a hidden murderous aura. Every seemingly secret hiding place could be a lure to a trap. As long as he rashly took one step, he might die.

But he simply must not stand still like this; this beautiful and quiet valley, there was simply no place for him to stand.

The wind blew the leaves. There seemed to be the sound of fluttering sleeves in the wind. Chu Liuxiang suddenly discovered white shadow flashing in the distance, coming right this direction.

If he hesitated somewhat, he would be discovered immediately.

Under the starlight, the calm water of the lake was glittering like silver.

Chu Liuxiang suddenly slid into the lake water.

The calm lake water was only stirred up by a tiny whirlpool, before the whirlpool disappeared, a shadow of someone in white flew over.

She was almost as beautiful as Gong Nanyan, her flying posture was so touching. Her bright fluid glance rolling around, she frowned and called out in soft voice, “San Jie [third (older) sister].”

The beautiful woman in white immediately came out of the nunnery to meet her, she said, “What’s the matter?”

The girl said, “I just saw there seemed to be a shadow here, did San Jie hear anything?”

The beautiful woman in white said, “I did not!”

She chuckled and said, “When the music alarm went off, people must have not entered the valley, how could they get here?”

The girl’s eyes flashing, she muttered, “Could it be I misinterpret what I see? This is strange.”

Laughing coldly, the beautiful woman in white said, “Jiu Mei [ninth (younger) sister], although your pair of night eyes are formidable, I’m neither blind nor deaf. If there were people here, how could I not know anything?”

Smiling apologetically, the girl said, “San Jie, no need to get angry, I was just asking casually.”

It was only then did the beautiful woman in white break into a smile and said, “It’s always better to be careful, but if there were people here, where are they going now? Could it be that he knows the art of invisibility [referring to the immortals]?”

The girl laughed and said, “Right; unless he jumped into the Shen Hu [divine lake], no matter where he hides, he will trigger a warning, but if he really dares to jump into Shen Hu, he will inevitably make some noise, unless he is a carp spirit.”

She laughed and waved to the beautiful woman in white, and said, “I’m afraid the guests are coming soon, let’s go to another place to see. San Jie, you should also be prepared! Since people dare to come here, we must not let them down.”

Only to see her flying like a fairy over the silvery lake, and disappeared in the blink of an eye.

The beautiful woman in white looked at the lake with blank expression for half a day, she muttered, “Mortal danger, escape alive [idiom: narrow escape], consider yourself lucky. The danger is still there, be careful.”

Chu Liuxiang dived to the bottom of the lake, but his heart was still beating very fast.

In that instant, the distance between his life and death was nearly nonexistent, but now he was safe, at least for the time being.

The lake water was surprisingly clear, like a large piece of transparent crystal, the stars and the moon in the sky could almost shine their light straight to the bottom of the lake.

The bottom of the lake was covered in snow-white sand, which was also glittering.

Chu Liuxiang was just as free underwater as he was in the air.

Oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, and even salt water lakes of Qinghai, and turbid streams of Jiangnan, all kinds of water properties, he was as familiar as looking at his own hands and fingers.

The wonderful world underwater was what he loved with all his heart.

Every creature underwater was like his good friend, he could call out their names at any time.

But at this moment, he felt a sense of uneasiness in his heart.

This beautiful small lake was unexpectedly a dead lake, under the surface of the water, unexpectedly there were no creatures; no fish or shrimp, no clams or toad, so much so that there was no water plant.

Chu Liuxiang felt as if he had arrived in a completely unfamiliar city. Although the city was neat and clean, yet there was not even a single person in it.

All around the small lake, there were piles of huge and beautiful blue and white stones. The waterfall falling on the surface of the water stirred up strings of pearls underwater.

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