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The Vast Desert Chapter 26


Chapter 26 – Beautiful and Plain Character

The girl in yellow asked, “Do you know what kind of flower that is?”

Chu Liuxiang shook his head and said, “I have never seen this kind of flower before?”

Pleased with herself, the girl in yellow laughed and said, “Let me tell you, that flower is called poppy flower, the grass blade is called hemp grass [Cannabis sativa]. My Shifu transplanted them from Tianzhu [the Indian subcontinent (esp. in Tang or Buddhist context)]. They can only grow in this kind of warm and hot place.”

Inwardly Chu Liuxiang was shocked, but his mouth said, “Poppy hemp? What a strange name?”

The girl in yellow said, “The knockout drug that hit you was precisely extracted from this poppy flower and hemp grass. While admittedly if you consume a lot of this drug you will go mad, but if you consume just the right amount, you will practically float about and feel like an immortal; you will feel more comfortable than anything else.”

Chu Liuxiang pretended to be aghast, “Consuming a lot will go mad?” he asked.

The girl in yellow replied, “If you consume a lot, not only you will go mad, your eyes might see many illusions, you might see things that practically don’t exist.”

The girl in crimson also found that the wind behind her sail has been taken away by another person, she immediately snatched the opportunity to say, “On top of that, by that time their mind was already extremely confused and excited, therefore, oftentimes they would rise up and fight with some people who practically did not exist at all, all the way until their own spirit weary, their strength exhausted.”

She chuckled before continuing, “And the people who practically did not exist at all, nobody can fight. Therefore, even the number one martial art master in the world, if he was hit by this knockout drug, he can only withstand it for a short period of time; sooner or later he would collapse.”

The girl in yellow also snatched the opportunity to speak, “Therefore, if you could use this kind of drug, you will become like someone whom no one can bring down. Tell me, isn’t this a lot more formidable than any martial art in the world?”

Listening to this, inwardly Ji Bingyan was horrified, but Chu Liuxiang was laughing. He said, “But in Zaixia’s eyes in moment, there are only two beautiful and happy girls; I do not see any terrifying enemy … I just hope that the two ladies are not merely Zaixia’s illusion.”

The girl in crimson giggled happily and said, “It’s because the knockout drug hitting you was not much at all; therefore, right now you only feel no more than your body weakened.

The girl in yellow said, “The most mysterious part of this drug is precisely its effect, which varies according to the amount being use. When much is being used, the effect will be like deadly poison, but when it is used a little, it becomes magic potion that brings happiness.”

Chu Liuxiang heaved a deep, deep sigh. He said, “Two Guniang are indeed erudite and multi-talented.”

Suddenly they heard someone responded indifferently, “It’s a pity that they talk too much.”

Although this voice was extremely indifferent, but it was incredibly elegant. The charm of this kind of refined voice was far superior to the sweet, charming and coquettish voice.

When Chu Liuxiang, who was accustomed to hearing women’s coquettish voices – heard the voice, his spirit suddenly felt invigorated. However, when the two girls heard the voice, their faces immediately became devoid of any color.

They saw a slender figure wearing white clothes, walking slowly in – in the wake of the voice.

Her walking posture had nothing special at all, but it made people feel the beauty of her style and spirit. There were simply no words in the world that can describe it.

The clothes she wore were pure-white-in-color, untainted-by-even-a-speck-of-dust light muslin. Although the room was without any wind, the impression was that she could ride the wind and fly away at any moment.

Her face was also covered in light muslin. But although no one could see her face, there was the impression that she must be a divine fragrance, national grace, peerless in this generation.

Qu Wurong’s style was also extremely elegant; her figure was more or less comparable to hers, but even though Qu Wurong was wearing similar muslin dress, her face was also covered in light muslin, others could still be able to tell the difference in just one glance.

Only because her kind of charm, no one could imitate. It was some kind of special grace bestowed by the Heaven, the pure essence resulting from refinement over countless years. No one could have that many fantastic experiences like her; therefore, she would appear aloof and remote forever. No one could reach, nothing could compare.

In his heart, Chu Liuxiang took a deep, deep sigh and said, “Shi Guanyin, I finally see you! A man can see this kind of woman, the luck of his eyes is really not shallow. But I would rather there is no such person with your attractive looks in the world.”

The two girls already prostrated themselves in reverence and said, “We kowtow in salute to Shifu.”

The Stone Guanyin replied indifferently, “I have always treated everyone of you equally favorably, you yourselves said it just now, is that right?”

The girls remained prostrate, they responded in trembling voice, “This is your, the Senior’s mercy.”

“Very good,” the Stone Guanyin said.

She suddenly beckoned Qu Wurong to come over and spoke indifferently, “If you cannot kill them, then let them kill you!”

Unexpectedly she was using such an apathetic tone to determine other people’s life and death. In her eyes, other people’s life and death was practically not as good as a dog’s or a bird’s.

Qu Wurong slowly walked over, unexpectedly she was not showing any emotion either; she spoke coldly, “Why haven’t you stood up to fight?”

Chu Liuxiang could not help saying, “They only said a couple of sentences, Furen already wants their lives, don’t you think you are being too cruel?”

The Stone Guanyin responded indifferently, “I treated them equally favorably, this is a fair fight, how can it be considered too cruel?”

What she said was still so bland, but no one could ever dispute it.

Rubbing his nose, Chu Liuxiang said with a wry smile, “Whatever the case, I am still asking Furen to spare their lives!”

“Do you know why they themselves did not come to beg me?” the Stone Guanyin asked.

Indeed, the two girls were already standing up; indeed, they did not say any word anymore. Although their bodies were shaking, they were ready to fight.

Chu Liuxiang sighed. Before he even said anything, the Stone Guanyin already continued slowly, “This is because they know that whatever I said, I will never change it.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Since that’s the case, wouldn’t it mean that they will die for me?”

The Stone Guanyin spoke indifferently, “On this, you don’t have to feel bad. I want them to die, it really is not because they told you that secret. If I did not want you to hear this secret, I could have sealed their mouths early on.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “That’s right; when one is about to die anyway, whatever secret he hears, it does not matter anymore.”

“Exactly so,” the Stone Guanyin said.

“Since that’s the case,” Chu Liuxiang said, “Why does Furen want them dead?”

The Stone Guanyin coldly said, “It’s not that I want them dead at all, rather, they are the ones courting death.”

Stunned, Chu Liuxiang said, “They are the ones courting death?”

The Stone Guanyin no longer replied. But inwardly Ji Bingyan thought, “How come you suddenly become so dense? She already took a fancy to you, and these foolish girls had to hit on you first; isn’t that courting death?”

This moment the girl in yellow and the girl in crimson suddenly struck together.

Their skill level was not deep at all; hence Chu Liuxiang could already see that they had not joined the school for too long. But the move they were launching was strange and swift, totally beyond other people’s expectation.

It should be noted that to them, this battle was not for wealth at all, neither was it for fame, but for their own lives, so how could they not fight with all their might?

He saw the girl in crimson’s ten fingertips unexpectedly became like a pair of hungry wolf’s claws; gnashing her teeth she aimed for Qu Wurong’s throat.

As for the girl in yellow, even her eyes had turned red; her right fist like a blade, she desperately cut toward Qu Wurong’s flank, while her left fist was clenched so tight that her knuckles turned white, she sent out a punch toward the dantian [point two inches below the navel where one’s qi resides] on Qu Wurong’s lower abdomen.

Although this one-punch-one-palm-chop appeared not to have any changes, but the positioning of the attack was extremely weird; it was practically unclear from where her punch and her palm chop would strike.

Chu Liuxiang sighed inwardly, “Shi Guanyin’s martial art is indeed strange and marvelous; launched by this kind of people, it still has such a formidable power. If it was she herself, it would be desperately serious!”

He saw Qu Wurong’s body flashing, she easily dodged these two girls’ three attacks.

Although her martial art skill was much higher than the opponents, she appeared to be unwilling to meet such desperate moves head-on, with equal harshness. Therefore, she merely avoided direct contact and only focused on defense without offense.

The two girls’ styles, however, one move was more intense than the last, one move was weirder than the last; even a figure like Chu Liuxiang was unable to see the origin of their style.

Unexpectedly this kind of style was entirely different from various schools and various sects of the world. The girl in crimson’s style appeared to be somewhat based on eagle-claw technique, but it also appeared to be somewhat based on qin na [grab and capture, grappling] technique. Upon more careful inspection, it also had some similarity with Mongolian wrestling techniques, although without its tyrannical, overbearing characteristic.

The palm technique that the girl in yellow used seemed to be based on ‘cut [as in cut off a length], slice [as in cutting at an angle], hack’ three-character formula of the palm technique of inner-power school, but the execution appeared to be completely different. Unexpectedly the technique put emphasis on the ‘chop [as in chopping someone’s head]’. However, within the Wulin of the Central Earth, any palm technique if various schools and sects, none was using this ‘chop’ formula. Only when using a blade would they use this ‘chop’ formula.

Secretly shocked, Chu Liuxiang mused, “Looking at their technique, could it be that Shi Guanyin’s martial art came from a foreign country?”

He had not finished musing, Qu Wurong already sent out a backhand strike. Once the strike was launched, already he saw great difference from the two girls’ move.

Naturally the girl in yellow did not dare to meet this palm strike head-on; twisting her waist, she spun around sideways. Naturally her left shoulder slid outward; but when she slid behind her, the edge of her palm chopped straight to her back.

Her footsteps were quick and nimble, her shenfa natural. When the two persons’ figure intersected, the footwork was fast and accurate, as soon as she stepped behind Qu Wurong’s back, the edge of her palm already chopped seamlessly [orig. where water flows, a canal is formed (idiom: when conditions are right, success will follow naturally)], without the slightest degree of either harshness or awkwardness. Speaking about this move alone, it indeed carried the air of a renowned expert.

It should be noted that when martial art was executed, the main objective was ‘natural amazing execution’, four characters [miao zao zi ran]; otherwise, the style would look strange, and the execution would appear somewhat forced, then the practitioner could not be considered a master.

Unexpectedly, this ordinary-looking, dull-speech girl suddenly executed this brilliant move. Watching this, Chu Liuxiang could not help cheering silently.

The Stone Guanyin also slightly nodded her head and said, “To be able to execute this move, your three years or martial art training indeed was not in vain.”

But by the time she finished speaking, the girl in yellow already fell to the ground.

Turned out when the girl in yellow’s palm was slicing, Qu Wurong’s left palm was still slashing on the girl in crimson’s wrist, forcing her to pull back her move and to retreat, but her right palm suddenly passed through under her ribs, and then when it reached her back, five fingers bending slightly, the palm changed into a claw. When the girl in yellow’s palm chop arrived, she happened to hook it, as if she was deliberately letting herself to be caught by her.

And then they heard a ‘Crack!’ as her arm was broken, and she screamed as she fell to the ground.

Unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang could not help cheering loudly, “Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant …”

Any Wulin character in the world, if they saw Qu Wurong’s backhand claw, nobody would be able to resist cheering. The palm strike had to slip through under the ribs, originally it was extremely difficult, it was an extremely challenging move, but Qu Wurong casually executed the move, her arm unexpectedly appeared to have no bones, it made a sharp turn with ease, without the slightest amount of awkwardness.

Yidian Hong’s eyes flickered, his cold and detached face unexpectedly lit up.

But the girl in crimson’s countenance changed; suddenly she roared and pounced forward. Although her move was not exquisite, the momentum was enough to intimidate people.

Qu Wurong slightly leaned forward and lightly leaped over, her palm chopped straight down.

The top of her head was actually the most protected part of the girl in crimson; who would have thought that as Qu Wurong’s palm chopped down, it still chopped the top of her head? What happened was that Qu Wurong was able to see accurately the instant she was pulling back her move and changing her style, the gap when the pair of palms intersected, and exploited it for her palm to chop down. Both the timing and positioning were very accurate, unexpectedly it did not miss even a fraction of a hairsbreadth.

She actually used the girl in crimson’s technique to kill the girl in yellow, and used the girl in yellow’s technique to kill the girl in crimson. Moreover, her every movement has achieved perfection. It appeared that if she wanted to, before the girl in crimson and the girl in yellow launched a single move, she could have destroyed them first.

Yidian Hong and Ji Bingyan looked at each other, they could not help being emotionally moved, only Chu Liuxiang slightly knitted his brows, as if he was thinking about something.

He only felt that the move that Qu Wurong was using seemed to be very familiar, but recalling all the martial arts of various schools and various sects throughout the world, he could not remember such a move.

They saw Qu Wurong’s expression was cold; her face was devoid of any expression, as if she had not done anything at all. She slowly walked over to the Stone Guanyin, bowed, and said, “Do you, Senior, have any other instruction?”

But the Stone Guanyin was silent for a long, long time. Suddenly she chuckled and said, “I have not seen you making your move for a long time, I can’t believe your martial art skill has progressed this much; it is indeed hard to come by.”

Hanging her head low, Qu Wurong said, “It’s not that disciple’s martial art skill is making any progress, it’s just that in normal times the two of them did not train diligently.”

The Stone Guanyin laughed indifferently and said, “Even the world famous Chu Xiang Shuai cheered for you, what are you being modest for?”

Qu Wurong said, “This is also because you, Senior, instructed me using the correct method.”

The Stone Guanyin was silent for a long time again. Suddenly she laughed again and said, “You call me over and over again ‘Senior’; are you saying I am already very old?” [Translator’s note: ‘Senior’, orig. Laorenjia, lit. old person, a polite way of addressing a superior, not necessarily older in age.]

Qu Wurong hung down her head; she did not dare to speak.

The Stone Guanyin sighed. She said, “That’s right, I am already very old; I already ought to die. A few more years, then you can kill me, is that right?”

“Disciple does not dare,” Qu Wurong said.

The Stone Guanyin said, “What are you afraid of? Speaking about your current martial art skill, even Zhangsun Hong won’t be able to take three hundred moves of yours. In a few years, won’t killing me be the exertion of lifting one’s hand?”

Qu Wurong was silent for a long time. Suddenly she pulled out from her sleeve a silver knife, which was identical to Zhangsun Hong’s, and then in one stroke she cut her own right wrist.

Blood shot out like arrows. But Qu Wurong’s face was still expressionless. She slowly said, “Now Shifu, you … you should always believe … believe disciple?”

Before she finished speaking, tears already flowed down her cheeks, but her cheeks were already pale without the slightest color of blood; finally she slowly collapsed and fainted on the ground.

Chu Liuxiang and Ji Bingyan sighed; they closed their eyes, unable to bear to watch. But Yidian Hong, with eyes opened wide, was staring at the Stone Guanyin.

The Stone Guanyin unhurriedly said, “This foolish girl chopped her own hand herself, why are you staring at me? Do you think I am pushing her?”

“Humph!” Yidian Hong responded.

The Stone Guanyin laughed and said, “I never imagined that the One Red Dot of the Central Plains, who kills people like scything flax, unexpectedly was moved by compassion today. Could it be that you have some interest toward this foolish girl of mine?”

Yidian Hong spoke word-by-word, “I only have some interest in you; the interest to kill you.”

The Stone Guanyin laughed and said, “Too bad you will never be able to fulfill this desire.”

She no longer paid Yidian Hong any attention. Turning her head, she said, “Chu Xiang Shuai, can you still walk?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “If Furen wanted me to walk, even if I cannot move, I will still move to walk.”

The Stone Guanyin said, “In that case, would Xiang Shuai please move your good self to come with me?”

She gracefully walked out the door, but suddenly looked back at Yidian Hong and said with a laugh, “Do you have any cut-wound medicine on you?”

Yidian Hong only stared at her without saying anything.

The Stone Guanyin said, “People who kill people for a living should always guard against being killed by others, presumably they would always bring cut-wound medicine on them. Since you have some interest on this foolish girl of mine, why don’t you apply your medicine on her, take care of her?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “That’s right. Now she will never be stronger than you are, keeping her here will always be useful for you.”

The Stone Guanyin laughed and said, “Chu Xiang Shuai is indeed very understanding, no wonder there are so many women toppling over you endlessly.”

Yidian Hong really applied the medicine to Qu Wurong. Ordinarily he killed people without expending a great deal of effort, and now, doing such a trivial thing, he felt it entailed strenuous effort.

Heaving a deep sigh, Ji Bingyan said, “Poppy flower … poppy flower … I never thought that such a beautiful fresh flower is actually penetrating-intestines-eroding-bones poison; unexpected it can suck bone marrow without the victim realizing it.”

Yidian Hong coldly said, “What I never thought was that unexpectedly he really followed Shi Guanyin.”

“You think he is really gutless?” Ji Bingyan asked.

“Humph!” Yidian Hong responded.

Ji Bingyan said, “If it were you, even if she killed you, you can’t possibly follow Shi Guanyin, am I right?”

“Humph!” Yidian Hong responded.

Ji Bingyan sighed. He said, “A man like you will never understand Chu Liuxiang. But there is one thing that I can tell you: there is no one on earth who can force him to do something that he is not willing to do.”

Yidian Hong did not talk anymore.

Ji Bingyan said, “I can also tell you: although he seems to be very casual, but all his life, he has never done anything that might make his friends lose face. If anybody can have this kind of friend, it is indeed an enormous luck.”

Suddenly they heard Qu Wurong’s moan; she slowly woke up.

Although when she was unconscious her face showed great pain, but as soon as she woke up, her face immediately became cold and indifferent again, completely without any emotion.

Yidian Hong asked, “You … are you still in pain?”

To a seriously injured person, this question was a bit too cold and too harsh; but for Yidian Hong, it was the most tender thing that he had ever spoken in his life. Who would have thought that Qu Wurong was actually colder than him? She said, “I am in pain or not, what is it to you? Go a bit farther away!”

Yidian Hong was silent for half a day. He really moved away.

Qu Wurong struggled to stand up. Suddenly she saw the plain white cloth bandaging her wound. “Did you bind up my wound?” she spoke sternly.

“Yes,” Yidian Hong replied.

“Who told you to be meddlesome?”

“No one,” Yidian Hong replied.

Qu Wurong suddenly tore the entire bandage and pulled it down. She also wiped the medicine completely from her cut wrist. This moment her would has not closed yet, so blood was gushing out again. Although she was in so much pain that her head was wet with cold sweat, her face was still cold and indifferent. She tossed the white cloth bandage heavily on the floor, and then staring at Yidian Hong, she said, “My business, I never need anybody else to care for me.”

Finished speaking, she no longer look at Yidian Hong, not even a glance. She struggled up and rushed out.

Ji Bingyan said, “Such a stubborn woman, it is indeed very rare.”

Yidian Hong was silent for half a day. He spoke coldly, “She is very good.”

“Very good?” Ji Bingyan asked, “In what way?”

Yidian Hong still spoke coldly, “She is very good.”

Ji Bingyan said, “Whatever the case, you are showing kindness to her; even if she is not grateful, she shouldn’t be that vicious to you.”

Yidian Hong closed his eyes, he no longer spoke.

Ji Bingyan stared at him for half a day. Finally he chuckled and mused inwardly, “If these two can be together, they will be a real couple who were made for each other.”

No makeup table, no embroidered quilt, no brocade bed curtain with tassels, and there was no luxurious furnishings at all; there were only ordinary knickknacks and dazzling jewelry.

The elegance of this room was precisely its beautiful and plain character; if any cosmetics were added into it, it would be defiled instead.

Sitting in here, Chu Liuxiang only felt unspeakable comfort; he has practically never been in such a comfortable room in his life. Inwardly, he could not help sighing.

Whatever the case, the Stone Guanyin was indeed an out-of-the-ordinary person.

Right now, Chu Liuxiang only wanted to see the Stone Guanyin’s face. Right now, he still could not imagine how beautiful this amazing woman really was.

But by the time he saw her, he still could not imagine.

The Stone Guanyin’s beauty was unexpectedly unimaginable. Because her beauty simply occupied people’s entire imagination.

A lot of people used the phrase ‘star eyes’ to describe a woman’s beauty. But how could the starlight compare to the brightness and the tenderness of her pair of eyes?

A lot of people used the phrase ‘spring mountain’ to describe a beauty’s eyebrows. But even a spring mountain amidst the hazy mist still could not compare to her graceful and subdued beautiful eyebrows.

Chu Liuxiang could not help heaving a deep, deep sigh.

The Stone Guanyin smiled and said, “Didn’t Xiang Shuai always want to see my face? Now that you’ve seen it, why sigh?”

Her voice was graceful and touching to begin with, now that he had seen her face, listening to her such gentle and beautiful voice made his mind to be intoxicated even more.

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