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The Thrush Chapter 27

CSI

Water Matriarch Yin Ji

If it were someone else, hiding in such a beautiful and tranquil lake, one would think that one was absolutely safe.

But Chu Liuxiang always felt that there was something wrong with this place. It was not until he found a very secret hiding place among the huge stones that it could be said that his heartrate was starting to go down.

And then, he immediately remembered two strange things.

Since the secret passages here could only be exited, not entered, then what was ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s purpose in building these secret passages?

And now somebody intruded into Shen Shui Gong, who could it be?

His body happened to be between the two huge rocks, both of which had a section that protruded above the water, so Chu Liuxiang could not help sticking out his head as well.

He tilted his head, revealing only one eye. The shadow of the two boulders happened to shield him, he felt that this terrain was very good, he definitely would not be discovered.

He really wanted to see who was this person that had the courage to brave danger to infiltrate the Shen Shui Gong.

The valley was still very calm; looking at the valley with half of the face exposed from underwater, the feeling was different from when he himself was in the valley.

Everything seemed more distant, more hazy, completely unlike reality, just like a painting, a dream …

But Chu Liuxiang was not in the mood to appreciate this dreamlike beautiful scenery, he only focused his attention to those most hidden and secret places in the dark.

He still could not see anyone.

Right this moment, he noticed three shadows flew out like arrows from the entrance of the valley in the distant, the three people’s qinggong skills were all first-rate.

These three did not seem to want to hide their track at all. Upon entering the valley, they immediately unleashed their shenfa to dash towards the waterfall on this side.

Looking at their figures under the starlight, their faces flashed in the moonlight, Chu Liuxiang was suddenly so shocked that he nearly swallowed a mouthful of lake water.

The three were unexpectedly Huang Luzhi, Hu Tiehua and Dai Duxing.

Also right this moment, more than a dozen figures in white clothes suddenly appeared from all sides, some standing on the treetops, some floating in the wind, just like a group of specters in the dark night.

Hu Tiehua, Huang Luzhi and Dai Duxing also seemed to be shocked. Their figures rapidly descending from the air and landed together on a large rock by the lake.

The three stood with their backs against each other, waiting for the enemy with rapt attention.

But those people in white did not pounce on them, they just stood far away, quietly looking at them, a peculiar kind of quietness, so that it was suffocating.

In the end, Hu Tiehua could not hold back any longer, he said loudly, “Is this Shen Shui Gong?”

From a distance, unclear who, but someone spoke coldly, “Since you guys are here, how come you don’t know what this place is?”

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud, he said, “People who come to visit for the first time, naturally should ask if they are in the right place.”

Someone replied, “You are in the right place.”

Another one said, “Where did the three gentlemen come from? What advice do you have?”

This person’s voice was comparatively gentler, also comparatively more polite. Hearing her, Chu Liuxiang instantly recognized her as the beautiful woman in white who was covering him in the nunnery.

While Hu Tiehua seemed to still be hesitating, Huang Luzhi already spoke in clear and bright voice, “Zaixia Huang Luzhi of Liuzhou, this is gentleman is the Beggar Gang’s Qianbei, Dai Duxing, Dai Laoyezi [lit. old man, polite appellation for an elderly male], and the other gentleman is the world-famous Hu Tiehua.”

When he spoke, Chu Liuxiang smiled bitterly in secret, “This person really deserves to be called a gentleman, every sentence he spoke is honest.”

Huang Luzhi, Dai Duxing, Hu Tiehua, these three men could be said to be major figures rebuking-the-wind-and-the-wind-angrily, whose name shook Wulin; they could be called towering figures who ‘stomping their feet, four cities are thrown into chaos’.

But when the Shen Shui Gong disciples heard their names, they did not show the slightest bit of reaction. The beautiful woman in white just spoke heavily, “Oh,” and then said, “Very well, three gentlemen, please throw down your weapons and wait for punishment!”

Hu Tiehua threw his head back in loud laughter, he said, “Throw down our weapons and wait for punishment? What are you talking about? I am really unable to make sense of what I am hearing.”

The beautiful woman in white frowned, she sighed softly and said, “The mole cricket and ants [fig. tiny individuals with no power] are still alive, why should you wholeheartedly seek death?”

Huang Luzhi seemed to be afraid that Hu Tiehua would speak rudely, hence he quickly cupped his fist and said, “Zaixiamen [plural of Zaixia] coming here, there is no malicious intent at all, we are just looking for two friends.”

The beautiful woman in white spoke sternly, “Friend? Do you know what place is this? How can your friends be here?”

Huang Luzhi said, “Naturally they are not your honorable Palace’s disciples, only …”

The beautiful woman in white’s countenance changed again, she cut him off, saying, “There are absolutely no outsiders here. In the whole world, no one has the guts like you, dare to take advantage of the night to enter Shen Shui Gong.”

Huang Luzhi and Hu Tiehua looked at each other, their expression was heavy.

Huang Lu spoke heavily, “Perhaps they did not come.”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “Do you think they are all gentlemen like you, all they say are the truth?”

The girl who was patrolling by the lake just now suddenly rushed out and spoke sternly, “You can be considered dead already, we practically do not need to talk to you.”

Before Huang Luzhi had a chance to open his mouth, Dai Duxing already shouted angrily, “We, the Seniors, are disinclined to talk to you either, go quickly to call ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji out!”

That girl spoke coldly, “All right, as soon as you die, I’ll take you to see her, the Senior.”

Before she even finished speaking, Chu Liuxiang already knew that the fight was inevitable, because others might be intimidated by the name ‘Shen Shui Gong’, but Hu Tiehua would definitely not be intimidated by anybody.

Sure enough, she had just finished speaking, there were two angry shouts.

Hu Tiehua and Dai Duxing rushed out like arrows.

The weapon in Dai Duxing’s palm was just a short darkish stick. When the Beggar Gang disciples walk around Jianghu, other than dog-beating stick, they were absolutely not allowed to bring any other weapons.

This was the Beggar Gang rules passed down from generation to generation.

Hu Tiehua considered his pair of palms unequalled, in all his life, when facing an enemy, he had never used any bladed weapon, but at this moment, it was unclear where it came from, bur he had a folding iron saber.

He had been hiding the saber behind his elbow, but at this moment, the saber light flashed, the ‘Ba Fang Feng Yu’ [lit. eight-direction wind and rain] unexpectedly produced powerful ‘Whoosh! Whoosh!’ noise, definitely not inferior to any famous saber wielder in Wulin.

Chu Liuxiang knew that he intentionally used the fierce, hard and violent saber technique to restrain the Divine Water Palace’s like-moving-clouds-and-flowing-water [idiom: natural and unforced] excelled soft [or feminine] martial arts.

The beautiful woman in white shouted angrily, “In the past 20 years, no one has ever dared to use force here, your guts are not small,”

Amidst her shout, seven, eight women in white separately came up to meet Hu Tiehua and Dai Duxing. As expected, none of their shenfa was not soft and graceful, surpassing the ordinary.

Huang Luzhi shouted loudly, “Let’s talk it over, no need to fight.”

But before he even finished speaking, three, four people already surrounded him. Their palm shadows flipped over and flew like butterflies, striking toward him from four sides, eight directions.

Huang Luzhi heaved a sigh, reaching backhandedly, ‘Qiang!’, with a dragon roar a dazzling-the-eye long sword came out of its sheath and turned into a flying rainbow.

Although his sword technique was heavy, steady, and profound, it did not lose the air of a ‘gentleman’, but his style was ruthless, his power deep, indeed worthy to be called a master swordsman of this generation.

The music in the distance turned urgent again, it seemed to realize that these three men were not easy to deal with. Amidst the rapid music, sword qi and saber light pervaded the entire valley.

Obviously the four persons dealing with Hu Tiehua found it to be the most strenuous, because Huang Luzhi and Dai Duxing, realizing their age and status, were unwilling to fight too ruthlessly.

But Hu Tiehua was worried about Chu Liuxiang’s safety, he wholeheartedly wanted to overthrow all Shen Shui Gong disciples, how could he still be willing to show mercy?

They saw his saber going out like a flying dragon, going in like a crouching tiger. Although the Shen Shui Gong disciples’ palm technique was ever-changing, mysterious and unpredictable, it could not occupy the upper hand in the slightest.

It should be noted that even though these women in white have received the teaching of the walking-alone-in-the-world [unparalleled] ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji’s xinfa, it’s a pity that their experience in facing the enemy in hand-to-had combat was insufficient.

Therefore, they often missed the opportunity.

On the contrary, Hu Tiehua and Dai Duxing, none was not a battlefield old general, veteran of a hundred battles [idiom]. Not only they would never miss any opportunity, but their judgments on every move were correct, each one knew what style to use at certain moment, a move that would attack one of the opponent’s weakest links.

Based on the current situation, they seemed to have occupied the upper hand.

However, even if they could prevail, what good would that bring?

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji has not yet appeared, the beautiful woman in white, Gong Nanyan, these main forces of the Shen Shui Gong have not yet made their move.

Sooner or later Hu Tiehua and the others would undoubtedly be defeated.

Chu Liuxiang was so nervous that he almost pulled half of his body out of the water. Only now did he realize that watching others fighting was really much more nerve-wrecking than fighting himself.

He really wished he could rush out and join the battle, but he also knew that if he did that, they, four men might inevitably be buried here.

‘Pull the bow and take the strong, to catch the thief one must catch the king first.’ His only hope was to find out ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s weakness, and then in one move control her seven cun [referring to ‘to subdue a snake, hold it seven cun from the head’].

He predicted accurately that the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji’s would show up sooner or later.

As long as she showed up, he would have a chance.

Although Chu Liuxiang was anxious, the Shen Shui Gong disciples were even more anxious.

They viewed themselves extremely high, they had never considered others worthy in their eyes. They always thought that as soon as they make their move, they could immediately stretch a hand and grab the opponent.

But they did not know that these three were actually the top martial art experts under the heavens today, so the fault was not in Shen Shui Gong; if it were another place, no matter what kind of place, they would have already flattened by them by now. These three men fighting together, perhaps there would not be any stronger troop arrangement in the world.

Suddenly a tender cry was heard, a woman in white flew out, her left hand covered her right arm with her left hand, blood was oozing out from the crack between her fingers.

Hu Tiehua roared in laughter, “If I did not consider you being a woman, this saber strike would have killed you.”

The girl, the ‘Jiu Mei’ [ninth (younger) sister] laughed coldly and said, “The saber is ferocious but without any strength, the qi is irritable but not condensed; with such a martial art you dare to come and show off your violence.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “In that case, your martial arts must be not bad at all; I want to see it.”

The Ninth Sister shouted, “Indeed I want you to see it.”

Amidst the shout, she pounced back into the battle arena, the other three women in white had already launched their attack, but her pair of slender lily-white hands were already in front of Hu Tiehua eyes.

Hu Tiehua raised the back of the saber, but suddenly he flipped the blade outwards. If the Ninth Sister did not withdraw this move, her spring scallion lily-white hand would be destroyed on the blade.

But the change of her moves was really fast; she flipped her wrist to grabbed Hu Tiehua’s left jaw.

This move change was natural, without the slightest hint of smoke and fire smell, but also because her change was too logical, Hu Tiehua, who has had long experience in facing big enemy, had already calculated her move.

His blade was already there waiting for her.

The Ninth Sister did not know that it was because she had too little experience so that her judgment in making the move was incorrect, she thought that the opponent had already seen through the martial art style she was using.

Shocked inwardly, the changes of her moves were not as swift and fierce and as flowing as before.

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud, he said, “The move is fast but without any strength, the qi is timid without any courage; with such a martial art you dare to come and show off your violence in front of me. Were it not for me having a tender, protective feelings for the fairer sex [idiom], your spring scallion like little hand would have turned into chopped onion early on.”

The way he used these two characters ‘chopped onion’ was so apt that listening to it, Chu Liuxiang nearly could not help laughing, but he also knew that Hu Tiehua was not eating tofu [taking liberties with a woman] or making fun of her, but deliberately infuriating the other side. This ‘psychological attack’ was a common method used by Jianghu veterans.

The Ninth Sister was not a Jianghu veteran, naturally it was inevitable that she was taken in; she was so angry that her face turned red. She decided to achieve victory with all her heart, as a result, she could no longer maintain the cool-headed state of mind in her movements.

Using a pair of fours [sic. I have no idea, must be a typo, but cannot figure out what it is], saber light was like the refined [as in tempering metal] cloud, surprisingly Hu Tiehua managed to gain the upper hand.

Suddenly, there was another cry of alarm, another person retreated.

Dai Duxing also laughed aloud and said, “Be careful, were it not for Laofu [this old man] not willing to use the big to suppress the small, your spring scallion like little hand would have turned into scallion pancake early on.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Wonderful! Wonderful! The saber chopping green onions, the stick beating scallion pancakes. Only lacking Huang Laoyezi’s sword to pick chrysanthemum oil chicken.”

Huang Luzhi spoke heavily, “You girls are too young, your experience in confronting the enemy insufficient, and your heart is impetuous. If you continue to fight, there will be injuries and deaths. You’d better hurry to invite your Gongzhu to come out!”

Chu Liuxiang sighed in secret, “This person is indeed a warm and kind gentleman, truthful, don’t want to take unfair advantage. Looks like these three characters ‘Jun Zi Jian’ [gentleman sword], indeed the name matches with reality.”

Inwardly he was even more anxious because he knew that the ‘Divine Water Palace’ reigned supreme in the world, they must not have a false reputation. These disciples’ martial art skill could already be considered first-class, the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji must have even more astonishing pinnacle skill. As soon as she showed herself, the situation would definitely undergo great changes, perhaps it would be everything bodes ill, no positive signs [idiom: everything points to disaster].

But why hasn’t the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji appeared yet?

Right this moment, Chu Liuxiang suddenly felt that there seemed to be a rush of current in the calm lake, his two feet felt some kind of pressure.

This kind of feeling was very subtle, if it were someone else, no one would notice it, but Chu Liuxiang could breathe through his body pores, his acute sense was not something that anybody could match.

He immediately dived into the water and squeezed his body into the gap behind the huge rock on his left, shrinking the bones in his entire body that he was at least one-third smaller than his usual volume.

From the cradle to the grave, in all his life, he took more risks than a hundred people combined. If it weren’t for his quick reaction and even faster response, he would have died no one knew how many times.

This time, his superhuman ability to meet a contingency saved him again.

He found that the boulder just to his right was moving, the pressure he felt on his leg was caused by the movement of the boulder pushing the water.

If he had not hid in this gap, the boulders on both sides would have crushed him in between.

Since the boulders were moving, obviously there was a secret passage at the bottom of the lake. The ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji’s secret passage obviously was at the bottom of the lake. Chu Liuxiang’s excitement at this moment was really hard to describe.

The two boulders had not completely closed, there was still a gap between them.

Chu Liuxiang turned his head sideways to look out from the gap, he saw a stream of bubbles rushing out from behind the rock, and then, two persons appeared.

These two persons were wearing white robes. Even underwater, their robes did not get wet and stick to their bodies, on the contrary, they fluttered as if in the wind.

Chu Liuxiang already recognized one of them to be Gong Nanyan. Underwater, her eyes looked hazier, deeper, and more beautiful.

She pulled the other person’s hand and walked out slowly. Moving in the water, they were almost as serene and natural as they were on dry land.

Chu Liuxiang could not see the other person’s face, he only felt that she was a very tall woman, almost a head taller than Gong Nanyan.

Could this person be the mysterious and terrifying ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji?

He saw Gong Nanyan leading her along, suddenly she put her hand on her cheek and stroke it hard, her eyes showed some kind of intense love and desire.

This person used her other hand to gently caress her hair, they looked like a pair of very loving couples, absolutely not like a proper behavior between a master and disciple.

Could it be that this person was not Yin Ji, but a man?

Looking at this, Chu Liuxiang was confused again.

This moment, Gong Nanyan finally let go of her hand, but her pair of eyes, full of love and desire, remained fixed on this person’s face.

The person turned around, Chu Liuxiang finally saw her face.

She had a pair of very big eyes, very thick shoulders, her nose was even more firm and upright, and huge. Her thin mouth was tightly closed, showing that she was a person with great perseverance and determination.

This was a very unusual face, her firm and upright nose gave her some kind of intimidating dignity, her expression showed that she had always revered herself as sole orthodoxy, there has never been anybody who dared to rebel against her. Other than the Master of the Divine Water Palace, the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji, absolutely no one else deserved such a face.

But it did not look like a woman’s face. If not for her figure clearly a woman’s, Chu Liuxiang would almost think that ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji was a man.

The strange thing was, she did not rise out of the surface of the lake, but walked slowly to the center of the lake instead. Only then did Chu Liuxiang realize that there was a white stone at the center of the lake, and she sat down cross-legged on the white stone.

What did she want?

The uproar above had turned the sky and the earth upside down, yet she was still sitting here?

While Chu Liuxiang was bewildered, ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji waved to Gong Nanyan, and Gong Nanyan also made a signal to this side of the rock.

In an instant, he saw a burst of strong current rushing up from under the white stone at the center of the lake, forming a jet of water that lifted Yin Ji straight up.

On the calm lake, a column of water suddenly rose into the sky. After it rose for three zhang, it splashed everywhere. At the top of the column of water, unexpectedly someone in white was sitting upright, cross-legged.

The stars were shining brightly, and the column of water was also shining brightly.

From a distance, it looked like the white-robed Guanyin [Bodhisattva] was rising from the bottom of the lake and sat upright on a seven-treasure glazed lotus seat, her Dharma countenance dignified, making people not daring to look up.

The music in the distance also became gentle and solemn.

All the women in white retreated, between the heaven and earth, there seemed to be only this mirror-like silver lake, the lotus seat on the lake, and the Dharma appearance on the seat.

Hu Tiehua, Huang Luzhi, and Dai Duxing raised their head to look. Although they had seen many things, this moment they could not help holding their breath and shivering with fear, their spirit and soul flew over.

At this time, Gong Nanyan also soared like a flying fairy from the center of the lake to the lake shore, her eyes were like lightning, her face was covered in autumn frost, her lightning-like gaze swept around, she spoke coldly, “Gongzhu’s Dharma-self has appeared, you still haven’t knelt down and worshipped three times?”

Hu Tiehua suddenly laughed.

He actually dared to laugh at such a time, his guts were indeed not small, even Gong Nanyan could not help showing a hint of astonishment in her eyes.

They heard Hu Tiehua laughed aloud and said, “Dharma self? Worship three times? Do you really think you are an immortal?”

Knitted her brows, Gong Nanyan said, “Who is this madman?”

The Ninth Sister was the first to prostrate herself and said, “This man calls himself Hu Tiehua, coming with him are the ‘Gentleman Sword’ Huang Luzhi, and the Beggar Gang’s Dai Duxing.”

Laughing coldly, Gong Nanyan said, “So you three feel that your martial arts are not weak, unexpectedly you dare to come here?”

Dai Zhuxing threw his head back, howling with laughter, he said, “Although Zaixiamen’s martial art skill is not astonishing, it’s still decent.”

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji suddenly said, “Whose disciple is this person?”

This question was not addressed to Dai Duxing himself, but to Gong Nanyan, as if she did not want to talk to a man at all.

Dai Duxing could not help laughing again and said, “When I, this old man, made my debut, she was still I don’t know where? You ask her, how could she know my, this old man’s origin?”

Gong Nanyan waited for him to finish laughing before speaking coldly, “This person was originally a lone robber who ran amuck in the two rivers [areas north and south of the Yellow River] region. At the age of thirty, he mended his ways and joined the Beggar Gang. Officially, he was a disciple of the Bangzhu at the time, Lu Nan, but in reality it was Lu Nan’s head disciple, Zhu Ming, who imparted the martial arts to him. Therefore, although he entered the school quite late, his position within the Gang is very senior.”

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji said, “Is his martial arts obtained from Zhu Ming’s direct teaching?”

Gong Nanyan said, “Zhu Ming was known as the steel fist, iron palm, his inner power strong, his palm power profound, it could be said that within the Beggar Gang, it was unprecedented and never to be duplicated, so how could he be compared to him? However, he was originally a solo robber, hence his qinggong seems to be a notch higher than Zhu Ming’s, and because he originally used a sword, so he blended the changes of the ‘seven by seven, forty-nine hands of circling wind and dancing willow sword’ into his stick technique. Within the Beggar Gang today, he could be regarded as the number one person.”

To everybody’s surprise, she narrated Dai Duxing’s origin and martial art skill like enumerating her family valuables [idiom: very familiar]. This time Dai Duxing could not laugh. He mused inwardly, “Shen Shui Gong disciples have never had any dealings with outsiders, who would have thought that they are fine talents who don’t go out, unexpectedly they know the world’s affairs. It appears that Shen Shui Gong is indeed somewhat more than meets the eye.”

Only to hear the ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji laughing coldly and said, “Even Zhu Ming, in all his life, has never dared to rashly enter our Palace for even one step. I never thought that this man’s guts are unexpectedly bigger than Zhu Ming’s.”]

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