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The Thrush Chapter 28


Life and Death Struggle

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji casually pointed at Hu Tiehua and said, “How about this one?”

Hu Tiehua glowered at Gong Nanyan; feeling pleased with himself, he mused, “If you know even the origin of my martial arts, then I will admire you.”

Gong Nanyan indeed pondered for half a day before slowly saying, “This person is like Chu Liuxiang, almost no one in Jianghu knows the origin of their martial arts; they only know that they are from family influential for generations, and they have been fond of martial arts since childhood, so their family invited not a few martial art teachers for them; however, their martial arts are by no means what these martial arts teachers can teach.”

Hu Tiehua nodded his head, he smiled and said, “Not wrong the slightest bit.”

Gong Nanyan said, “Therefore, at that time, many people suspected that there must be some windblown dust [hardships of travel/vicissitudes of life] talented individual whose tracks is hidden in Jianghu in their house teaching them martial arts in secret; some others suspected that they happened to obtain a martial art secret manual left by some Qianbei master.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “You know that much, it can already be considered not easy.”

Gong Nanyan did not pay him any attention, she continued, “However, although he and Chu Liuxiang grew up together, the path they take in the martial arts is not the same at all. His martial arts are hard and fierce, which seems to be somewhat similar to the martial arts of the ‘Tie Que Da Qi Men’ [lit. iron blood big banner school] of the past.”

Suddenly Hu Tiehua could not laugh anymore, his face could not help showing an astonished look.

Gong Nanyan did not even look at him, she continued slowly, “In the past, after Tie Zhongtang revived the ‘Tie Que Da Qi Men’, Ye Di [lit. night emperor], father and son and one Qianbei of the ‘Da Qi Men’ called Chizu Han [Barefoot Man] traveled far away overseas. Along the way, they passed through this person’s hometown. Disciple speculated that Chu Liuxiang’s martial arts might have been taught by Ye Di, but Chizu Han accepted this person as his disciple.”

Hu Tiehua sighed, he muttered, “This time, although your guess is not right on target, but it’s not too far off. No wonder that everyone in Jianghu is afraid of you guys, it seems that you really have real skill.”

Hearing the names ‘Ye Di’ and ‘Tie Que Da Qi Men’, even the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji could not help but was emotionally moved. After pondering for half a day, she said, “Why are these three people here?”

The Ninth Sister bowed and said, “They said they came looking for someone.”

The beautiful woman in white also bowed and said, “Disciple already told them that our valley absolutely has no outsider coming and going, but they still don’t believe.”

Laughing coldly, ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji said, “What do they want?”

Hu Tiehua rushed to reply, “Do you want us to tell the truth?”

“Speak,” Gong Nanyan said.

Hu Tiehua chuckled and said, “We came here looking for someone, but since someone is not here, we now want to leave.”

Laughing coldly, Gong Nanyan said, “You are actually a smart person, it’s a pity that our Palace has always been able to come not able to leave. You want to come in, no one will stop you. But if you want to leave, it will be as difficult as ascending to the sky.”

Shui Mu suddenly said again, “Tell them, no matter what method they use, as long as they can push this Palace [sic. I think it should be ‘Palace Master’] down from this holy water lotus pedestal, this Palace will let them go.”

Gong Nanyan said, “You just need to …”

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud and said, “We are not deaf. We have already heard what she said. You don’t need to repeat it.”

Dai Duxing said, “But I wonder if what she said counts?”

Her countenance sank, Gong Nanyan said, “Gongzhu’s [Palace Master] order is like a mountain! It will never change.”

Hu Tiehua and Dai Duxing looked at each other, they could not help revealing happy expression on their faces.

They saw this ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was sitting on the column of water, unexpectedly she was as secure as Mount Tai, they knew that not only this person’s qinggong [lightness/levitation skill] has reached the pinnacle, but her qigong [qi skill, modern: system of deep breathing exercises] was also deep and unmeasurable, indeed they were not necessarily her match. If she challenged them, based on their status, they could not decline, but they could not fight three against one either. Therefore, it was indeed difficult for them to walk out alive of this Divine Water Palace today. But now that Yin Ji was this proud of herself, the situation was very different.

Based on their, three first-class Wulin masters, if they could not force her down from this column of water, which was not stable at all – it would be very strange indeed.

Hu Tiehua was afraid that she would change her mind again, he deliberately laughed coldly and said, “Since we [orig. ‘other people’] simply have to do this, we have no choice, right?”

Dai Duxing said, “This is called the guest complies with the host’s wish.”

Rolling his eyes, Hu Tiehua said, “But we still have to discuss this, not sure if it’s okay?”

Shui Mu just waved her hand, while Gong Nanyan spoke coldly, “In any case, discussion is useless, just go!”

Pulling Huang Luzhi and Dai Duxing aside, Hu Tiehua could not help laughing and said, “Looks like this time ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s fight is decided.”

But knitting his brows, Huang Luzhi said, “However, she dares to do this, perhaps she has the certainty of winning.”

Dai Duxing laughed and said, “You don’t have to hold other’s spirit too high and destroy our own mighty power. Relying on our, three men’s strength, we charge together, even if she, the column and the person are made of iron, inevitably it will be crashed down by us.”

Huang Luzhi thought about it, but he really could not think of any way Yin Ji could be so confident of victory, but he had always been cautious, plus he was a little worried, he said, “Iron man is dead, but she is alive. The three of us rushed over with all our strength together, if she evades, at that time, above you won’t have any force to borrow, below there won’t be any place to stand on, I am afraid it will be hard to avoid falling into the lake. Even if we don’t get caught by them, we won’t have the face to try the second time.”

Dai Duxing could not help knitting his brows as well, he said, “That makes sense.”

Huang Luzhi said, “Therefore, in Zaixia’s humble opinion, the three of us absolutely must not make our move together, just because the three of us charging together, although the power is stronger, but once the strike misses, we won’t have any chance to continue …”

Dai Duxing said, “But if the three of us make our move separately, wouldn’t the power be even more insufficient?”

Huang Luzhi said, “I will use the Rainbow Piercing Through the Sun shenfa first to charge towards her, to see how she will parry and dodge. Hu Xiong will follow me closely. Once my strike fails, Hu Xiong will attack her. This time, her shenfa already changes once, her strength must have been used up, the change will slow down somewhat. Even if Hu Xiong’s strike still fails, by the time Dai Laoyezi launch the third strike, she must have become like an arrow at the end of its flight, it won’t be difficult for Dai Laoyezi’s one strike to achieve result.”

Slapping his palms, Dai Duxing said, “That’s right, this method is much more appropriate.”

But Hu Tiehua shook his head and said, “This method is not good either.”

“Why?” Dai Duxing asked.

Hu Tiehua said, “Her real power is clearly above ours, plus when we attack her, our bodies are high up in the air, completely without any place to exert our strength. She is sitting on the column of water, no matter what, she is more stable than us, so if the three of us making our move separately, it will be very likely that she will use her palm to shock us that we will fall one by one.”

Turning pale, Huang Luzhi said, “That’s right, her shenfa practically does not need to change, as long as she sits quietly on the top, if she strikes us with her innate palm strength, we absolutely won’t be able to withstand.”

But Dai Zhuxing looked at Hu Tiehua and said with a laugh, “Since you say that, presumably you have a better idea.”

Lowering his voice, Hu Tiehua said, “The best way is to have the three of us charging together, but we won’t attack her at all. When we are high up in the air, I will change direction to chop the column of water under her seat. You two might as well feign an attack to cover for me, no need to really put an effort to fight her.”

He chuckled, and then continued, “If the water column splatter, will she still be able to sit on it?”

Once he explained this method, even Huang Luzhi could not help his countenance to show delight.

Dai Duxing pulled Hu Tiehua’s hand, he laughed and said, “I’ve roamed the Jianghu for several decades, who could have thought that unexpectedly I am inferior to you, this young guy.”

Huang Luzhi said, “Hu Xiong is indeed both smart and brave, no one can compete.”

Dai Duxing said, “This is called: shooting a man, shoot the horse first, if the horse falls, can the man still sit still?”

The more they thought about this method, the more they felt that it was impossible to fault, it was too wonderful for words. Even if ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji had the ability to go through the heavens, this time she would undoubtedly be defeated.

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “These bad ideas, originally I could not come up by myself, only for the past two months being with that old stinky bug every day, I have been gradually corrupted by him.”

Huang Luzhi was stunned, he said, “Old stinky bug, who’s that?”

Blurted out laughing, Dai Duxing said, “I wonder if this person is very smelly that he gained such a nickname.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Other stinky bugs are very smelly, but this old stinky bug is fragrant.”

Chu Liuxiang waited until Gong Nanyan also flew out to the lake. He waited for a long time before he slowly pushed the rock on the right sideways a little and stuck out half of his body.

Only to see there was indeed a secret water passage before the rock. The flowing water in the secret passage was connected with the lake water, it was also as clear as a mirror. As far as the eye could see, he could not see any human shadow.

Although Chu Liuxiang was extremely worried about Hu Tiehua and the others’ safety, this opportunity definitely could not be missed. As long as he could find out Yin Ji’s secret, he would be able to save them.

Otherwise, even if he went out, it would be useless.

Both sides of the waterway were covered with white jade-like marble slabs, the flowing water seemed to be sparkling as well. Chu Liuxiang slipped in like a swimming fish, immediately he knew that something was wrong.

He remembered that Gong Nanyan waved her hand this direction, and then the underground spring water spurted out. In which case, behind the gate of this waterway, obviously someone must be operating the hub of the fountain.

By the time Chu Liuxiang thought of this, it was already too late.

A fen shui ci [lit. splitting (or dividing) the water thorn (or sting), no idea, some kind of a weapon, I imagine it was some kind of harpoon] already stabbed at him.

Naturally, this strike could not hurt him, but the bad thing was that as soon as his track was discovered by Shen Shui Gong people, not only all his plans would fail to be implemented, but the woman in white would also be implicated. Even if he could kill the attacker, his whereabouts would inevitably be leaked.

He had always acted carefully, not wanting to make a mistake — a fatal mistake — at the last moment, when he was so close to success.

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was still sitting upright on the column of water without moving, as if even if she had to to sit on it for three or five days, she would still be as steady as Mount Tai.

Yet Gong Nanyan was a bit losing her patience, knitting her brows, she said, “Have you finished your discussion?”

Hu Tiehua chuckled and said, “We’re finished.”

Gong Nanyan’s eyes flashing, she laughed coldly and said, “Relying on the three of you alone, could it be that you still can discuss some good plan?” She said this while looking at Huang Luzhi.

Sure enough, Huang Luzhi said, “Zaixia [plural] have agreed to …”

Suprisingly, he seemed to be going to tell the truth again. As if agreeing by chance, Dai Duxing and Hu Tiehua spoke loudly, “We’ve said enough, let’s move!”

They already agreed on the signal. This moment, Hu Tiehua waved his hand, the three men immediately flew side by side. Saber light and sword shadow already turned into flying rainbow, traversing the surface of the lake.

It should be noted that the column of water under which ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was sitting was already three zhang high. The water column was at the center of the lake, the distance from the lake shore was more than six zhang. Even if Dai Duxing and the others’ qinggong was extremely high, it would still be difficult to fly six zhang in one go.

But they flew over from the rock by the lake, this rock protruded into the lake water, the distance from ‘Shui Mu’ was only about three zhang. To fly three zhang away, it was really not difficult for them.

At this time, they had a good chance of success, their essence and spirit grew a hundredfold even more, each one unleashed their martial arts to the peak. Looking from a distance, they saw the three men were like three immortals from the Milky Way, flying up to the sky with a long rainbow, so that when the Shen Shui Gong disciple saw it, they could not help their eyes from being moved, their spirit from being shifted.

Shui Mu was still sitting upright, unmoving. When the three men were less than eight chi away from her, Hu Tiehua suddenly let out a long whistle, his figure changed suddenly, he swung his saber towards the column of water under Shui Mu’s seat.

Also, right this moment, Shui Mu’s body suddenly sank, both hands pressed down on the column of water, immediately three separate springs formed on the column of water, shooting straight out.

The force of the water fountain was already very strong, and this moment, coupled with Shui Mu’s astonishing palm power, water arrow flew out, its speed and power were not something that even thunder and lightning could compare.

Hu Tiehua and the others were pouncing forward with all their strength, how could they still have the time to evade? They saw a streak of silvery light coming directly towards them, immediately they felt an unprecedented, incomparable impact force on their chests, as if the mountain peaks on all sides, all pressed down on them.

They only felt sweet taste on their throats, their eyes went dark, they immediately passed out.

Chu Liuxiang’s body was more agile in water than on land, with only a slight slip, he already evaded the fen shui ci which momentum did not slow down the least bit.

The girl’s skill was not weak at all, Shen Shui Gong’s disciples have practiced some kind of unique style of fighting underwater, fen shui ci was also a unique weapon to fight underwater.

Her wrist only sank, fantastically the fen shui ci already changed direction.

But this time, her move had not yet stabbed out, she already felt a burst of numbness spread across her entire body from the quchi [bent/crooked pond] acupoint on her elbow.

She never thought that the opponent could seal acupoints underwater, moreover, his movement could be this powerful. Greatly shocked, she cried out in alarm, but as soon as she opened her mouth, a mouthful of water was pouring in.

Chu Liuxiang supported her body using both hands, while paddling the water using both feet, swimming into the middle of the waterway. If the girl suddenly disappeared, when ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji came back, she would definitely find out. She would immediately think that an enemy had sneaked into the forbidden palace. Chu Liuxiang’s track would be discovered immediately.

However, even though Chu Liuxiang was fully aware of this, he could only take his chances, this opportunity he absolutely must not miss. Besides, he practically had no other choice.

Before ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji returned, he must find out her secrets and weaknesses. Also, he could only hope that Hu Tiehua and the others could stall her for a while longer.

Under this kind of circumstances, he really should not waste the slightest bit of time.

Although the waterway was not short, Chu Liuxiang very quickly rounded three turns and reached the end, where he could see faint flickers of a lantern above the water.

Chu Liuxiang calculated accurately that there shouldn’t be anybody left behind to take care of things above. He did not have time to think too much, and brought the girl’s body in the palm of his hands above the water.

People in Jianghu had all kinds of imaginations about Water Matriarch’s forbidden palace, simply because no one has ever been to this place, so it felt even more mysterious.

Some people even imagined this place to be like the heavenly palace, while in reality, it was just an underground room made of marble, there were no extremely ornate furnishings.

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was obviously not a person who paid attention to enjoyment. She just kept the place absolutely clean, there was not a single speck of dust anywhere.

Therefore, the marble on all sides looked like sparking and translucent, emitting-light white jade.

The exit of the waterway was a small pool with stone steps, the stones by the pool did not have any elaborate carvings either, only the simple lines that seemed to be bright and pleasing to the eye.

At this time, there were two beautiful girls by the pool straightening gauze threads. It did not look like silk, it did not look like silvery thread either. The texture was soft but tough and durable, precisely the material from which they made their clothes.

When they saw the body of their fellow disciple suddenly emerged from the pool, their faces showed surprise, immediately they jumped down to pull her up.

They were accustomed to a monotonous, lonely, and tranquil life, so they did not know how to deal with any unexpected events, they never thought that there was someone else underwater even more.

Very easily Chu Liuxiang tapped their acupoints, and then lifted them all out of the pool, only to see their three beautiful faces were thick with horror.

Unconsciously Chu Liuxiang smiled apologetically to them, and spoke softly, “I absolutely have no intention of hurting you, you just need to rest obediently for a moment and then you’ll be fine.”

His smile was so kind and gentle. If there is only one person’s smile in the world that can make a frightened girl feels at ease, that person must be Chu Liuxiang.

Although the girls’ faces were still pale, their eyes gradually calmed down. Although they did not know who this handsome man was, they felt that every word he said could be trusted — Chu Liuxiang had some kind of strange charm, it could always make girls feel that he was a very trustworthy man.

But he never let them down either.

In the stone room, there was only a bed and a small table, plus a wardrobe that was not too big at all, and some cushions on the floor. Other than these bare necessities of life, there was almost nothing in this room that was superfluous. From this, it could clearly be seen that the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji not only had a very deep obsession with cleanliness, but also her life was simple, her self-discipline was extremely strict. It was completely different from the ‘Water Matriarch’ Yin Ji that the Jianghu people imagined.

Such a person, how could she possibly have any secrets and weaknesses?

Chu Liuxiang could not find a place to hide these three girls. He pondered for half a day, suddenly he unsealed one of the girls’ acupoint and said with a smile, “Do you know where I can hide you?”

If it was someone else asking this question, even if she died, the girl would not answer.

But Chu Liuxiang’s manner was so sincere, so cordial, that she felt like an old friend was enquiring solicitously about her well-being.

It made her feel that he was asking this only because he was concerned about her wellbeing, that it was for her good. This is indeed something that any girl would not be able to refuse.

Looking at his smile, she could not help replying, “Did you see that lamp on the opposite wall?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Is it the one next to the wardrobe?”

“That’s right,” the girl replied, “Just pull the lamp to the left and a door will appear. If you hide us there, no one will find out.”

Chu Liuxiang pondered deeply, he spoke softly, “I wonder if that place is safe?”

The girl said, “Very few people will go there.”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled, he said, “Thank you. In the future, if you leave Shen Shui Gong, there is no harm in looking for me, I will definitely take you to many interesting places.”

The girl could not help breaking out into a smile, her face blushing, she said, “Thank you.”

As soon as she said, ‘thank you’, her acupoint was sealed again.

Sure enough, Chu Liuxiang found the door and hid them inside.

He could have asked them a lot more, but he knew that if they talked too much, if one in ten thousand chance Shui Mu found out, the consequences would be too horrible to contemplate.

He could never bear to hurt someone who trusted him so much.

What’s more, he also knew that if he asked too many questions, inevitably they would be more on guard, and thus would no longer trust him this much.

He also never wanted to destroy a girl’s good impression of him.

A short table with simple contours, only one white jade tea cup, the seat cushions were made of white horsetail grass. Although many women like to hide some personal secrets under the pillow or inside the mattress, but ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji could not possibly like any woman, her bedsheet did not even have a single wrinkle on it.

Therefore, the only place inside this room where she could keep secrets was the wardrobe.

Chu Liuxiang muttered, “I’m awfully sorry, I did not mean to pry on your secrets at all, I just wanted to save my life. I just hope you don’t have anything in your wardrobe that would make me blush.”

Everything in the wardrobe was simple enough to be worn publicly on the road.

Apart from some simple clothes, there was nothing peculiar inside, the strange thing was that unexpectedly there was a set of man’s clothing.

Chu Liuxiang lifted up a pair of linen shorts. He could not imagine that there would be women wearing such short pants in the world. These shorts were almost exactly identical to the ones he was wearing.

Could it be that unexpectedly there a man hidden inside Shen Shui Gong?

Could this be ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s secret?

Chu Liuxiang really did not dare to believe, yet he had no choice but to believe.

But who could this man be? And where could he be?

While Chu Liuxiang was bewildered, he suddenly saw ripples in the water of the pond over there. Under any circumstances, he would never miss anything that happened around him.

He immediately concluded that this must be ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji coming back. At this time, there was no other place to hide. He could only dodge and hide inside the wardrobe.

But it was too late for him to close the wardrobe tightly.

‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji already appeared from the pool water; as if someone was propping her under her feet, she was slowly rising from the pool water. This kind of skill, when he saw that, even Chu Liuxiang was shocked …

Merely on this alone, Chu Liuxiang already knew that ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji’s martial art skill was still above Shi Guanyin, he himself was absolutely not her match.

At this moment, as soon as she discovered that three people were missing here, she would immediately start to search. In any case, she could not possibly miss this wardrobe.

Because there was practically no other hiding place in this place.

As soon as she discovered Chu Liuxiang, Chu Liuxiang would surely die, because perhaps Chu Liuxiang’s chances of being able to prevail over her was not even one in ten thousand.

Chu Liuxiang’s heartbeat nearly stopped.

Who would have thought that ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was unexpectedly completely oblivious that three people were missing in this place. She seemed to have a very heavy heart and did not notice anything else.

Looking out from the crack of the closed wardrobe door, he saw her eyebrows were tightly knitted, there was an angry look on her face, but her eyes looked somewhat melancholy.

As soon as she walked into the room, she lay down on the bed and stared at the roof, it was unclear what she was thinking, she practically did not even cast a glance at the wardrobe.

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