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The Vast Desert Chapter 13

CSI

Chapter 13 – The Late Bodyguard

The King of Qiuci turned pale with fright, he said, “You … what are you doing?”

Laughing nastily, Wu Qingtian said, “Nothing. I just want your head.”

Greatly shocked, the King of Qiuci said, “With a huge sum of money Xiao Wang hired two gentlemen from Zhangjiakou [prefecture, Hebei], how could two gentlemen pull your blade against me instead?”

“Huge sum of money?” Wu Qingtian said, “How much silver did you give us?”

“Wasn’t it ten thousand taels of silver?” the King of Qiuci replied.

Showing his teeth, Wu Qingtian laughed and said, “But your opponent gave us twenty thousand.”

The King of Qiuci said, “Two gentlemen already have reputation as chivalrous heroes [xiashi – knight-errant], how could … how could you unexpectedly see-profit-and-forget-righteousness?”

Wu Qingtian laughed aloud and said, “Chivalrous heroes? How much does chivalry worth per catty?”

He laughed and went on, “Since you are going to die soon, there is no harm in me giving you a lesson. Men who can be bought by money are not chivalrous heroes at all; if you can move someone with money, other people can do the same.”

Smiling bitterly, the King of Qiuci said, “In that case, it was Xiao Wang who was blind.”

“You are indeed blind,” Wu Qingtian said, “To tell you the truth, just now you mentioned about the information you received, it was not quite accurate; this time we are coming here, there are not four of us, but six.”

The King of Qiuci said, “There are still … still four more?”

Wu Qingtian said, “Naturally now all of us are here. Can you guess who went to look for them?”

Princess Pipa suddenly interjected, “Could it be Du Huan?”

Wu Qingtian laughed aloud and said, “That’s right! You are indeed smarter than your Laozi [old man]; I really am somewhat reluctant to kill you.”

Frowning, Wu Baiyun said, “Time is pressing, what are you babbling about? If the others rushed in, won’t we have to divide the credit with them?”

Wu Qingtian chuckled, “You’re right,” he said, “I also forgot to mention that your head is worth fifty-thousand taels!”

His hand shook, the sword light, in one well-trained move – went straight to take the King of Qiuci’s head.

Unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang still did not make his move. He was extremely confident that without him needing to make his move, the King of Qiuci’s head would definitely not be removed.

A ‘Ding!’ was heard. The sword in Wu Qingtian’s hand was jolted up and nearly flew off his hand, while Princess Pipa has also raised the bent-neck pipa in her hands and spoke with a cold laugh, “If relying on your skill you dare to take Fu Wang’s [father king] head, your predecessors would have succeeded early on.”

Agitated, Wu Baiyun said, “This girl’s [orig. yatou (used deprecatingly)] martial art skill is not weak; those men ahead of us must have fallen head first in her hands.”

Clenching his teeth, Wu Qingtian shouted, “Stay at the door, I will deal with her.”

His sword light flashed, he pounced again.

Princess Pipa broke into a wide smile and said, “Can you really deal with me?”

The pipa in her hands did not move at all, but before she finished speaking, suddenly, from inside the pipa’s bent head – burst of silver needles were shooting out like rain; nobody could see clearly how many needles.

In his great shock, Wu Qingtian’s sword light turned back to protect his whole body.

The ‘Eight-by-eight Sixty-four-hand Longyou Sword’ has always been widely known in the world as agile and tight. Yet although his sword momentum was dense, the silver needles were denser.

They heard a miserable scream, the long sword flew up into the air, Wu Qingtian covered his face with both hands, blood was gushing out like spring from the cracks between his fingers. “What … what vicious secret projectiles!” he cried out.

As soon as the sentence was finished, the person fell face down on the ground.

Princess Pipa sighed; she spoke unhurriedly, “Ruthless secret projectiles are to be used to deal with ruthless people like you.”

While she was still speaking, Wu Baiyun grabbed a brocade pillow, his eyes turned red, he pounced over. Unexpectedly he used the brocade pillow as a shield, while the sword in his right hand stabbed seven times in the blink of an eye.

Unexpectedly Princess Pipa was overwhelmed and was forced to retreat side-by-step.

Cackling, Wu Baiyun said, “Stinky girl [yatou, see above], what other vicious trick do you have? Why not use them all out?”

Unexpectedly Princess Pipa was forced to withdraw to the edge of the tent, so that she could not retreat further, yet on her face she was still showing a sweet smile, without the slightest bit of anxiety or panic.

The King of Qiuci had already shrunk into the corner, while calling out loudly, “Quick, quickly make your move! You have big guts, but your Laozi is very timid.”

Laughing like a silver bell, Princess Pipa said, “I just want to gain first-hand knowledge of their Longyou Sword. You, Senior, want me to make my move, then I’ll make my move!”

Using both hands she lifted the pipa upward to block.

‘Zheng!’ Sparks flew everywhere, the long sword was jolted that it nearly flew.

Laughing nastily, Wu Baiyun said, “Good kid! Unexpectedly it’s an iron pipa.”

Surprisingly, the pipa was cast from refined steel; it was very heavy, it would be difficult for even a man with enormous strength to move it as in a dance with ease, Princess Pipa had to use both hands to hold it up.

Wu Baiyun accurately predicted that brandishing such weapon, her style could not possibly be nimble; therefore, he had nothing to fear, his long sword moved freely, he pounced again, except that he did not dare to meet the pipa head-on.

They saw Princess Pipa, holding the pipa with both hands – blocked, cut, touched, knocked, and pound; her style was strange and mysterious, plus it was not slow either.

Only because the pipa was so big that with slight movement of her hands, the pipa changed a lot. The strange thing was that all her moves were purely defensive. With both hands holding the pipa, injuring the opponent was naturally not easy.

Although Chu Liuxiang was experienced and knowledgeable, he had never thought there was such weapon on earth that needed to be held with both hands to face the enemy; furthermore, he had never seen such style – both of her hands were trapped dead; although her defensive position was good, but wouldn’t she simply put herself in the ‘not-winning’ situation early on?

Wu Baiyun also felt strange. After a few moves, he was emboldened even more to launch more pressing offensives, until later on unexpectedly he took the chance to enter the opponent’s defensive line, wanting to seize victory by taking the risk.

Who would have thought that right this moment, there was a sudden silvery-flash?

Princess Pipa hands separated. The bent-neck of the pipa unexpectedly followed her hand, the frost-like naked blade on the pipa’s neck, fast as lightning – stabbed into Wu Baiyun’s belly.

Wu Baiyun’s long sword fell off his hand, he staggered back, his face was full of bewildered expression. Unexpectedly until the moment of his death he still did not know how he was killed by the opponent.

Princess Pipa watched as he slowly collapsed to the ground; sighing quietly, she said, “My weapon is indeed strange and vicious; why did you two force me to use it?”

Watching this, Chu Liuxiang smiled wryly in his heart. This Princess Pipa’s power did not seem to be deep, the styles that she knew did not seem to be too many either, but each move was sharp, succinct, vicious, yet effective. He really could not figure out where she learned such style from. A young girl learning such style, it was not a good thing at all.

The King of Qiuci already stood up. While looking for a wine cup, he called out loudly, “Quick! Get someone to take these two dead bodies out! I am scared of dead people.”

Princess Pipa sighed and said, “After killing people, my hands went weak too.”

She was still standing with her back against the tent. Right this moment, suddenly there were two hands piercing through the tent, fast as lightning entered in on either side of her and caught Princess Pipa’s two arms.

Greatly shocked, the wine cup that the King of Qiuci had just picked up fell to the ground again.

And then a couple of ‘Pop! Pop!’ was heard, as two men were crashing through the tent and came in.

Both men had pale face, and wore pitch-black clothes.

The man on the right was unexpectedly the ‘Merciless Killer’ Du Huan. His left hand was grabbing Princess Pipa’s arm tightly, but his right hand was inside a plain white cloth sling that was hung from his neck.

The man on the left was dry and thin, his head also seemed to have shrunk into his neck, but his pair of eyes was flickering with golden light, looking exactly like the piercing eyes of a big monkey.

Princess Pipa felt like her arms was gripped in iron hoops, the pain practically nearly made her cry, but she bit her teeth tightly, not even wanting to utter a humph.

The King of Qiuci spoke in trembling voice, “You … you want Xiao Wang’s head, go ahead, but let my daughter go!”

Du Huan giggled and said, “Don’t tell me you haven’t heard Laozi’s [‘I, your father’] evil reputation? When Laozi is able to kill two people, I will definitely not kill one.”

Frowning, the skinny-and-shriveled-like-a-monkey man in black said, “If you want to kill then kill; what are you babbling about?”

Unexpectedly Du Huan appeared to be somewhat afraid of this man; he laughed and said, “Would Sun Xiong like to do it? Or you want Xiaodi to do it?”

The man in black coldly said, “You think killing will satisfy your craving, then I’ll let you satisfy your craving!”

Du Huan laughed heartily and said, “Thank you! Thank you very much …”

Suddenly they heard someone spoke slowly, “These two people, you are not allowed to kill.”

Amidst the voice, someone was dropping down from the top of the tent. He did not show any stance or strike a posture, but when he landed on the ground, it looked like half a tael of cotton; not even the slightest bit of noise was heard.

Other than Chu Liuxiang, who else would have such a brilliant qinggong?

The man in black was originally acting high and mighty, with considering-everyone-else-beneath-him appearance across his face, but now he seemed to be petrified, even his grip was loosened.

Looking at him, Chu Liuxiang smiled slightly and said, “Sun Houzi [lit. monkey], do you still recognize me?”

This man in black was precisely the sole direct disciple of the ‘Changbai Hou Qun’ [lit. pack of monkeys of the Changbai (mountain)], the ‘Black Monkey’ Sun Kong, the number one strong-hand between the Baishan and Heishui [lit. white mountain, black water (river), in northeast China], who, even the entire Changbai Jian Pai [lit. sword sect of Changbai] would have headache when dealing with him.

But now the one having a headache was him; unexpectedly he was stunned speechless.

Du Huan originally wanted to show off, but seeing him like this, he could only shut his mouth.

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “A man like you also become an assassin; aren’t you going to lose face?”

The ‘Black Monkey’ Sun Kong suddenly stomped his feet and cackled, “If I had known earlier that you are here, even if I were killed, I would not have come.”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “You can be considered still have some conscience.”

Sun Kong stared blankly for half a day. Looking up, he sighed, and then turned on his heels.

The ‘Merciless Killer’ Du Huan called out loudly, “Are you going to leave just like that?”

Sun Kong suddenly turned around and coldly said, “Are you saying I cannot leave?”

“Who is this kid?” Du Huan asked, “Why is Sun Xiong so afraid of him?”

Sun Kong stared at him for half a day; laughing nastily, he said, “Based on who you are, you think you are worthy to call him ‘kid’? Based on who you are, you think you are worthy to ask who he is? Humph!”

When the ‘humph’ went out of his mouth, a metallic dark hand shot out as fast as lightning. Du Huan unexpectedly was unable to dodge. With a blood-curdling screech he staggered back.

Unexpectedly the hand clawed his chest, creating a bloody hole.

Sun Kong wiped his drenched-with-blood hand on his clothes, and then his leg flew, he kicked Du Huan’s body out of the tent. As if nothing had happened, he rubbed his hands and said to Chu Liuxiang with a grin, “I know you don’t kill people, but keeping him alive will only bring trouble, so I simply did it on your behalf.”

He did not wait until he finished speaking; already he walked away without even looking back.

Originally the King of Qiuci wanted to call his men to arrest him, but now he was so scared that his face was devoid of any blood. Waiting for them to go out, ‘Wah!’ suddenly the King of Qiuci threw up. Closing his eyes, he said, “Quick … quickly get the dead bodies out of here.”

He had not finished speaking, Sun Kong suddenly peeked inside again and said, “I forgot to tell you, although I owe you a favor and I must walk away immediately when I see you, but someone who is ten times more formidable than I am will be coming here soon. You must, by all means, be a bit more careful.”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “I am always very careful; but … who is this formidable person?”

Sun Kong grinned and said, “Whenever I said his name, my head hurts; I’d better not say it. Too bad I have to go now; otherwise, watching you two in a desperate battle will be very interesting.”

This time he left even faster; by the time he spoke the last word, he was already more than ten zhang away.

Princess Pipa suddenly rushed toward Chu Liuxiang, pulled his hand, and asked, “Who are you, really? You don’t want to tell even me?”

Freeing himself from her grab, Chu Liuxiang laughed indifferently and said, “I am a nobody, just an old stinky bug.”

Right this moment, Hu Tiehua’s shout was heard from the outside, he called out from far away, “Old Stinky Bug, are you all right in there?”

Princess Pipa was still entangling Chu Liuxiang; laughing tenderly, she said, “Oh, that’s right, I still have to ask, why did he call you Old Stinky Bug?”

Chu Liuxiang really did not want to pull his face away when he was talking to a girl, but now he simply had to pull away; otherwise, he felt that he would let Hu Tiehua down. Pulling his face away, he said, “It was your future husband who called me that nickname, why don’t you ask him?”

Princess Pipa seemed to be stunned, but this moment Hu Tiehua and Ji Bingyan have both flown in. Ji Bingyan’s eyes swept around, unexpectedly he smiled and said, “What do you think? Was it a good show?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “The two of you had it easy, chasing the thieves around outside, yet you let some thieves slipping into the house …”

Before he finished speaking, Hu Tiehua already roared in laughter.

Knitting his brows, Chu Liuxiang said, “You still think it’s funny?”

Hu Tiehua replied with a big laugh, “This time you fell into the Dead Rooster’s trick.”

Stunned, Chu Liuxiang said, “Trick?”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “You think we did not see those two men?”

“If you did, why did you still let them slip in?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

Hu Tiehua replied with a laugh, “Dead Rooster recognized Sun Kong; he knew that all his life, this monkey obeys you the most, plus he is afraid that you’d have too much free time in here, hence he reserved them for you. I wanted to go over to fight, but he stopped me.”

Chu Liuxiang could not help smiling, which turned into laughter; shaking his head, he said, “I was wondering about that; although Sun Houzi’s qinggong is not weak, how could he sneak in under your, two men’s nose. Unexpectedly you are scheming against me.”

Ji Bingyan talked and laughed indifferently, “However, if in the way he conduct himself Sun Houzi did not have any redeeming quality, I would not have set him aside for you. If I let this drunkard and that monkey fight, you think that monkey could still walk away?”

Only this moment did the King of Qiuci calm down. He suddenly rushed forward and said, “He … they are coming here, six of them. Does that mean that there are still two more?”

Ji Bingyan spoke indifferently, “Does Wangye want to see them?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Those two have been unlucky to come across them; I am afraid they won’t be able to come here, ever.”

Looking at him, Princess Pipa said, “What if they came across you?”

Chu Liuxiang pretended not to hear her; he even did not pay her any attention.

But Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Coming across him could be considered very lucky. That guy Sun Houzi offended him three times before, unexpectedly he let him off three times. Therefore, when he sees him now, Sun Houzi immediately walk away without even dare to fart.”

He chuckled, and then continued, “Actually, Sun Houzi’s martial art skill is very high; the other five men combined together still can’t compare with him.”

The King of Qiuci immediately tensed again, he said, “But this Sun Houzi did say that there is someone who is ten times more formidable than him is going to come soon.”

Frowning, Ji Bingyan said, “Oh?”

But Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “On earth, people who are ten times more formidable than the ‘Black Monkey’ Sun Kong, probably there are not many; but, is it possible that that monkey was pulling our leg?”

Ji Bingyan said, “Sun Houzi never tells lie.”

Hu Tiehua could not help frowning as well; he said, “In that case, who do you think he is talking about?”

Ji Bingyan coldly said, “No matter who this person is, it won’t be too late to talk about it when he comes. If gentlemen are not in the habit of sleeping, then Zaixia is going to bed by myself.”

Before he even finished speaking, he already turned around and left. Hu Tiehua looked around. It looked like he still wanted to drink two more cups, but suddenly he noticed Princess Pipa’s countenance unexpectedly had become extremely unsightly; he could not even drink the wine in his cup anymore. Wiping the corner of his mouth, he laughed aloud and turned on his heels and left.

Naturally Chu Liuxiang did not wish to stay even more. Cupping his fist, he was about to take his leave when suddenly he heard Princess Pipa called loudly, “Hold on!”

The King of Qiuci also called, “Please stay.”

Even if Princess Pipa called louder, he could pretend not to hear her, but since the King of Qiuci also called him to stay, Chu Liuxiang had no choice but to turn around and asked, “What other instruction does Wangye have?”

The King of Qiuci was silent for half a day before he smiled apologetically and said, “About my daughter and your esteemed friend’s wedding day, which day do you think is best?”

Muttering to himself irresolutely, Chu Liuxiang said, “Wangye means …”

Who would have thought that the King of Qiuci has not spoken, Princess Pipa already said, “Naturally the sooner the better.”

In all his life, Chu Liuxiang has seen not a few gutsy, thick-skinned women, but someone who was in a hurry to get married like her, he really had not seen any.

Stunned, he could only smile wryly and said, “The engagement has already been decided, whether the wedding day is sooner or later, it does not matter.”

Princess Pipa’s eyes flashing with light, she said, “In that case, it will be tomorrow!”

Chu Liuxiang walked back in large strides; inwardly he was upset, but was amused at the same time. “Turns out there is a bride who is anxious to get married on earth,” he muttered to himself, “It is indeed rarely seen.”

As soon as he stepped into the tent, he saw Hu Tiehua was gulping the wine from the wine pot in his arms; in one breath, more than half a pot entered his belly, and then he sighed and said, “Just now you nearly drove me to the death, waiting anxiously at the two of you drinking one cup to the left, drinking one cup to the right. The feeling was more unbearable than Sun Wukong [the Monkey King of the Journey to the West] with a cursed gold band on his head.”

Ji Bingyan unhurriedly said, “Isn’t the skin on your face always very thick?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “The days that will drive you to death will only start tomorrow; the bride anxiously wanted to get married, urging me to set the wedding date to tomorrow.”

Hu Tiehua sprang up and blurted out, “Tomorrow?”

“Hmm,” Chu Liuxiang replied.

Grabbing Chu Liuxiang, Hu Tiehua loudly said, “You … and you said yes?”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “In any case, you being this Fuma Ye has already been decided, what harm is there in being late a few days or being early a few days?”

Ji Bingyan laughed and said, “To be a bridegroom, you don’t need to prepare anything. If you don’t know how to do it, Chu Liuxiang and I could teach you.”

Hu Tiehua threw a pillow at him. Barefooted, he jumped out of bed – looking for wine everywhere, while continuously muttering, “Where’s that wine? Unexpectedly there’s not a single drop of d@mned wine when you need it. If I don’t have two mouthful of wine to suppress it, my heart is going to jump out of my throat.”

Looking at Ji Bingyan, Chu Liuxiang spoke in heavy voice, “Can you think about why they are so anxious to set the wedding date to tomorrow?”

Laughing indifferently, Ji Bingyan said, “After what happened today, the King of Qiuci appears to be like a bird startled by the mere twang of a bow, he does not dare to trust anybody, so he has to find a son-in-law as his bodyguard as soon as possible; otherwise …”

Suddenly Hu Tiehua cried out in alarm, “Come here quick, what do you think is this?”

He was flipping things left and right, and suddenly found a piece of paper pressed under the flower vase.

Written on the paper, with graceful characters and lines – were these words, “Gentlemen have come from afar, you have no time to look after yourselves, why meddle in other people’s business? While the sky is not yet brightened, leaving this place as quickly is possible is the best policy, otherwise regret will be too late. If you are willing to listen to my advice, Qie [I, your servant] shall wash my hands to prepare some soup to wish gentlemen long life. The person of the shrine pays her respects again.”

Grabbing the piece of paper in his hands, unconsciously Chu Liuxiang was dumbfounded.

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