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The Vast Desert Chapter 33


Chapter 33 – Something That Must Be Done

She chuckled, and then said, “Wudang Pai’s martial art is too light, just like a plate of green vegetables and tofu that someone forgot to add salt; although the color is not bad, but after taking a bit, it can no longer attract anybody’s appetite. Isn’t that right?”

Unexpectedly she reduced the martial arts of Shaolin and Wudang, two big schools and sects, which were considered to be as weighty as Mount Tai, as brilliant as the Big Dipper [idiom: a giant among men] of the Wulin under the heavens – to nothing. Her remark was indeed unusually haughty.

But the analogy she was using was indeed too clever; Hu Tiehua thought about Shaolin, Wudang’s martial arts, and then he thought about what she said, he nearly could not help laughing out loud.

He heard the Stone Guanyin said, “Although their martial arts are tough, yet they had to give them pretty names, like ‘Power Splitting the Mountain’, or ‘Vanquishing Dragons and Tigers’, while actually, based on they way they execute those styles, it ought to be called ‘Splitting Firewood’, or ‘vanquishing cats, subduing dogs’. But the name that I use, although it is not pleasant to hear at all, it is genuine goods at fair prices. I call it ‘should not be exposed to men’, so definitely no man can see it.”

Hu Tiehua sighed; he said, “If that’s so, then you created this move yourself?”

The Stone Guanyin said, “To create such move, not only I had to dip into the martial arts of all schools and all sects in the world, I also have to have deep understanding of men’s weak points. A move like this, other than me, who could possibly create it?”

Hu Tiehua was silent for half a day. Smiling wryly, he said, “That’s right! You really have deep understanding on men.”

“And now,” the Stone Guanyin said, “Do you guys still want to fight with me?”

As if agreed by chance, Hu Tiehua and Ji Bingyan sighed at the same time and said, “We don’t dare.”

As these three words, ‘we don’t dare’ [bu gan liao] came out, the King of Qiuci was immediately ashen-faced. The dagger inside Princess Pipa’s hand also fell off.

Who would have thought that right this moment, Hu Tiehua and Ji Bingyan’s shadows shot like arrows. Unexpectedly there was already a tacit understanding between the two men; not only they spoke at the same time, the timing of their movement had no-early-no-late either.

The two men’s move was inferior to the greenish-black-bearded man and Princess Pipa’s move. When the greenish-black-bearded man and Princess Pipa made their move, they saw greenish-black light and silver rain, the momentum appeared to be extremely strong. But this moment Hu Tiehua and Ji Bingyan made their move, nobody saw anything.

But they saw in the midst of flashing shadows, the two men already launched three moves. As for how they made their moves, what style they were using, practically nobody was able to see clearly.

But at least other people could see that in these three moves, their shadows were moving around. After these three moves, not even their shadows were distinguishable.

They only saw the wind filling the entire room, the wine and dishes on the table were clinking and rattling, Princess Pipa, the King of Qiuci, and the greenish-black-bearded man’s clothes and sleeves were rustling and fluttering in the wind. The King of Qiuci’s countenance turned pale, as if he might faint any moment.

Princess Pipa hurriedly came over to help him up, but her own hands were shaking.

The greenish-black-bearded man grabbed the hilt of his saber tightly. Although he could not see anything, he was still staring hard; so hard that even his eyeballs were about to pop out of his eye sockets.

In all his life, he did not know how many times he had fought desperate battles with anybody; he did not know how many saber-scars he had on his body. Even when others’ saber was chopping down on him, he was not afraid.

Now, however, he was more nervous than when he was fighting a desperate battle himself.

The space inside the tent naturally could not be too big, plus the shenfa of the three people fighting was very fast, yet the three combatants were only spinning around on a small area; they did not even touch the table.

Princess Pipa and the greenish-black-bearded man could not help sighing in their hearts; only now did they realize that compared to these people, their martial art skill was really far too inferior.

If it were they who fought, this moment not only the tables would have been knocked over, perhaps even all four sides of the tent would have been punctured seventeen, eighteen large holes.

All of a sudden, the wind stopped.

The three people’s shadows also stopped abruptly.

Both of Hu Tiehua’s fists were tightly clenched, his face was terrifyingly red. But Ji Bingyan’s face was turning even paler; both men were staring at the Stone Guanyin without blinking.

A hint of indifferent smile was hanging out of the Stone Guanyin’s mouth. She still appeared to be so beautiful and serene, even the strand of hair on her temples was not messy at all.

She looked as if she had just finished taking a bath in a hot spring, put on some makeup, and was ready to go out to see the guest. She did not look like a woman who had just fought a desperate, stake-it-all battle.

The three were standing on the spot, without moving, without speaking anything either. Princess Pipa and the others did not know why they suddenly stopped; even more, they did not know who won, who lost? Hu Tiehua and the others stood still, the King of Qiuci, Princess Pipa and greenish-black-bearded man were afraid to move even more, even their heartbeat seemed to be stopping.

Half a day later, they saw a wisp of blood. Out of the corner of Hu Tiehua’s mouth, blood was trickling out.

Although his body was still standing upright as straight as a spear, Princess Pipa felt her legs had turned into jelly; she could no longer stand, just because this moment she had seen who had lost.

This defeat was truly a crushing defeat, with no chance of recovery. Not only henceforth the lives of the six of them [I counted only five?] could not be guaranteed, the millions of Qiuci people would also be reduced to be under bloody hands.

They heard the Stone Guanyin took a long sigh and spoke leisurely, “You two were fully aware that you are not my match at all, why did you still want to humiliate yourselves?”

Clenching his teeth, Hu Tiehua sternly said, “For a real man, there are something that must not be done, but there are some things that must be done. Some things he knew he must not do, yet he simply has to do it.”

It should be noted that although the two-character ‘wuxia’ are always linked together, but there is a big difference between the two. To accomplish the ‘wu’ [martial arts] parts is not difficult at all; as long as the two upper arms have some strength, have a couple of skills, then that’s it. But the ‘xia’ [hero/chivalry] part is absolutely not easy.

Although these eight characters ‘some things must not be done, some things must be done’ [you suo bu wei, you suo bi wei] are simple, without extremely staunch determination, maximum courage, it is absolutely impossible to accomplish.

When one knows that by using one’s martial art skill [wu] one can show off by killing someone else with naked blade, then there is practically not much different between than person and a beast; how could one fit to speak about this chivalry [xia] thing?

Ji Bingyan suddenly said, “Just now you had two chances to take our lives, why didn’t you do it?”

Laughing indifferently, the Stone Guanyin said, “There has been nearly twenty years that I have not met anybody who dared to fight with me, and now with great difficulty I met you; how could I be willing to kill you that easily?”

As if agreeing by chance, Hu Tiehua and Ji Bingyan sighed inwardly; they both thought, “Why haven’t Chu Liuxiang come back? If he’s here to help us, with the combined power of the three of us, even if Shi Guanyin’s martial art is really number one in the world, without any rival since ancient times, she would be defeated in our hands.”

These words only revolved inside Ji Bingyan’s mind, but Hu Tiehua said it out loud.

He could not help heaving a deep sigh, and said, “Too bad Chu Liuxiang is not here; otherwise …”

Unexpectedly the Stone Guanyin also heaved a deep sigh and said, “Really too bad. I have long heard that Chu Xiang Shuai’s martial art, although ordinarily it does not seem to be too amazing, but the stronger the opponent he met, the more he would be able to display his formidable power. Unexpectedly I do not have any opportunity to fight with him; indeed this is the regret of a lifetime!”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “No need for you to feel bad; sooner or later he will come looking for you to decide who’s superior and who’s inferior.”

The Stone Guanyin said, “I am afraid there won’t be such an opportunity, you don’t need to wait for him either.”

Hu Tiehua laughed loudly and said, “You think that he went away this time, he will never come back? You think that relying on that kid Wu Juxuan, you can put him to death?”

The Stone Guanyin slowly said, “If there is only one person on earth who could put Chu Liuxiang to death, then that person will be Wu Juxuan; just because he had conducted a thorough study on Chu Liuxiang, from head to foot, from the inside to the outside. There is no one on earth understands Chu Liuxiang’s martial arts and weak points better than he …”

She laughed indifferently before continuing, “Just think, if I think that Chu Liuxiang still have any hope of coming back alive, how could I waste my time with you here, playing around with you guys?”

Wiping the sweats from his head, Hu Tiehua suddenly laughed aloud and said, “There has never been anybody on earth who can really understand Chu Liuxiang; even he and I have been friends for twenty, thirty years, yet I am unable to understand him, let alone Wu Juxuan.”

The Stone Guanyin coldly said, “Naturally you do not understand him, just because between you and him, there is no such hatred; you practically do not need to understand him. If you understood someone too well, you would not make friends with him instead. Moreover, let me tell you this: the person who understand you the most in the world is definitely not your friend, he must be your enemy, because only your enemy will be willing to work hard to research your weak points.”

Although Hu Tiehua never stopped wiping his sweats, but he did not seem to be able to wipe the sweats dry. The sweat running down his face already washed the trace of blood on the corner of his mouth so that it was lighter than rouge. “What hatred does that man surnamed Wu have against Chu Liuxiang?” he rattled.

But the Stone Guanyin no longer paid any attention to him. She turned around and walked over to the King of Qiuci; holding a golden cup with both hands, the smile on her face seemed to be even more touching. Using the most gentle and soft voice, and a smile across her face, she said, “I advise the lord to take in a cup of wine; this will take you to the shady underworld where a lot of old friends are. Min Hongkui, Hong Xuehan, and An Deshan are all over there waiting for you, I am sure you won’t be lonely.”

The night in the desert was particularly long, and it came particularly early.

Now, although it was not even xu hour yet [7-9pm], the sky was very dark. Looking in the deep twilight, this dense purple smoke appeared to be like blood.

Chu Liuxiang’s countenance changed; but in the blink of an eye he laughed aloud and said, “Former skill is being used again; wouldn’t it be unwise? By the bank of Daming Lake, you have used it to escape once. Could it be that this time you want to escape again? Could it be that I do not have any way to deal with you?”

Amidst his laughter, his figure was rising upward along with the smoke.

He had indeed found the solution to break this secret escaping skill of ‘ren shu’ [method/technique of restraining oneself – see Book 1 Chapter 7 for more info]; as long as he could rise above the purple smoke, no matter which direction the opponent was going to run away, he could forget about escaping from his sight.

Although the purple smoke dissipated fairly quickly, but during this short period of his question, it has not spread too wide yet. When Chu Liuxiang’s body flew up, he saw outside the about three-zhang perimeter of the purple smoke, yellow sand was rolling, yet unexpectedly he did not see Wu Juxuan’s shadow. But from inside the thick purple fog, his laughter rang.

Chu Liuxiang’s strength seemed to suddenly disappear; his flying-bird like figure unexpectedly dropped down like a rock, and heavily landed on the ground. Only to hear Wu Juxuan’s hearty laughter, “Former skill is being used again, it is indeed unwise,” he said, “But insignificant Zaixia is not that stupid yet, especially in front of the extremely brilliant Chu Xiang Shuai, how could I use the same method twice?”

The strong breeze whistled past. Although the smoke was thick, it could not withstand the storm of the desert. In an instant, it had already dispersed by the wind. Amidst the faintly discernible fog, Wu Juxuan’s silhouette materialized slowly.

Chu Liuxiang sighed; he said, “That’s right; because last time your smoke was not poisonous, hence this time I did not guard against it. I really did not think that this time you unexpectedly used the nibbling-the-bones-melting-the-soul knockout fragrance inside the smoke.”

Wu Juxuan smiled and said, “Naturally you would never think about it, only because when one is already very familiar with something, he can’t possibly pay as much attention as before. This is precisely the weakness of human heart …”

He chuckled again, and then went on, “Everybody has weakness. Your weakness is that your self-confidence is too strong, and your heart is too soft, therefore, you are defeated in my hands. If that day you gave me a blade, how could I go back to live today?”

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “I also know my weakness, which is I really considered you too heavy! Therefore, although I know that there are some shameless cowards in the world, who, in order to escape, do not have any scruple in feigning his own death, but I really never thought that the distinguished and accomplished, confident and at ease, the matchless talent ‘Wonder Monk’ Wu Hua could also do such thing.”

‘Wu Juxuan’ laughed and said, “I know that in your heart you feel very bad, because the crisscrossing-the-world-unrivalled Chu Xiang Shuai is failed and wiped over the floor today. To repay the kindness that you have shown me in the olden days, I must let you curse me to your heart’s delight today, to vent out your resentment. No matter what you are cursing me, I will listen with respectful attention. Before you finish scolding, I definitely will not make my move.”

While speaking, he removed his hat, and extremely carefully he also peeled off his hair. Along with the hair, there was also a sheet of very thin human skin mask. And so the divined-style, handsome and bright Wonder Monk Wu Hua once again appeared in Chu Liuxiang’s presence.

Chu Liuxiang just looked at him quietly, he did not say a single word.

Wu Hua proudly laughed and said, “Although cannot be compared with Chu Xiang Shuai’s million-incarnation, looks like my disguising skill is not too bad, is it?”

Chu Liuxiang replied indifferently, “You are still far too inferior!”

Wu Hua said, “If it was far too inferior, how come I could conceal it from you?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “You did not conceal it from me at all; I knew early on that Wu Juxuan was a disguise, it’s just that momentarily I did not think it was you, that’s all.”

Wu Hua also sighed and said, “I thought you would never suspect me, just because I really spent not a few painstaking effort. I had Yidian Hong come over, it was so that you would think that Hei Zhenzhu was the mastermind behind this. This way, not only you would refrain from shooting at the rat for fear of breaking the vases, you would also not dare to act blindly without thinking. Moreover, it would also make you feel that the more you think about it, the more complicated it was, so that unwittingly you would walk into the side path diverging from the main road, and would never find a clue.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Your method was really not bad. I did walk into the side path diverging from the main road, and nearly missed the clues. Until I found out that Shi Tuo is unexpectedly one of the former Seven Swords of Huashan, and then I remembered that Shi Guanyin was originally Li Guniang of Huangshan Family.”

And now Wu Hua countenance sank. It sank so low that no smile would ever appear again.

Chu Liuxiang said, “In the old days, Huashan Jian Pai and Huangshan Family fought a decisive battle, from the Huangshan Family, only one Li Guniang managed to escape. In mortal danger, she escaped alive, but she was unable to establish a foothold in the Central Plains, thereupon she crossed the eastern sea to Fusang [mythical island of ancient literature, often interpreted as Japan].”

“Over there, she met the Tianfeng Shisi Lang, who was devotedly in love with her; she even gave birth to two boys for him. But after she learned a mysterious martial art, she abandoned them, returned to the Central Earth, killed Huashan Qi Jian to avenge the Huangshan Family blood debt, which was as deep as the ocean.”

“And then, this Li Guniang mysteriously disappeared. No one in Jianghu knew her whereabouts. At that time, although there was female demon-head Shi Guanyin, whose track secretive, whose martial art skill unparalleled – suddenly appeared in Wulin, but no one ever thought about linking the loyal and dependable, lonely and bitter Li Guniang with this female demon.”

“Originally this secret could not possibly be uncovered; too bad Li Guniang left one person of the Seven Swords of Huashan alive …”

Speaking to this point, Chu Liuxiang chuckled, before continuing, “This is perhaps because he was too unyielding; no matter how severe the torture he received, he simply refused to grovel under Li Guniang’s skirt. Plus whenever Li Guniang took a fancy to someone, she wanted to take possession of that person, no matter what. Therefore, all along she did not kill him, yet she never thought that he would escape.”

Wu Hua’s face already looked like it was covered in a layer of cold frost. “Go on,” he coldly said.

Chu Liuxiang said, “But with only this one clue, I was still unable to uncover Shi Guanyin’s secret. Too bad that twenty years later, the world clearly has a meddlesome Chu Liuxiang, and Chu Liuxiang clearly got along well with Li Guniang’s two boys. Furthermore, it was unfortunate that from friends, they became enemies. Unexpectedly, this Wulin secret that has been gradually forgotten was resurrected again. Naturally Li Guniang would never imagined these things would happen.”

“Go on,” Wu Hua said.

Chu Liuxiang said, “Although Chu Liuxiang knew the story of Tianfeng Shisi Lang, father and sons’ story, he has not thought that they were related to Shi Guanyin. These two different clues seemed to be completely unrelated to each other, until the Huashan disciple, who has been missing for a long time, suddenly reappeared, and revealed Shi Guanyin’s secret. Only then did these two threads of clues come together.”

He fixed his gaze on Wu Hua, and then smiled and said, “After these two clues came together, how could there be anything that I still don’t understand?”

Wu Hua was silent for half a day. He spoke slowly, “That’s right. You already knew that Shi Guanyin is my, Wu Hua’s mother, hence you recalled that after Wu Hua suffered a crushing defeat in the Central Plains, he went out of the Pass to seek shelter from his mother. Wu Hua’s conspiracy to dominate the Central Plains was destroyed by you, he failed and wiped over the floor. His only choice was to go out of the Pass to plan another large scale endeavor.”

Suddenly his eyes were flashing with brilliant rays, the corner of his mouth also revealed a smile; he said, “But how did Wu Hua know that Shi Guanyin was his mother? This matter, perhaps even Wu Hua himself did not know; Chu Xiang Shuai should also be unable to guess it?”

Who would have thought that Chu Liuxiang did not even need to think, he immediately replied, “This is because of Ren Furen [Madame Ren] Qiu Lingsu.”

Frowning, Wu Hua said, “Qiu Lingsu? What does she have to do with this matter?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Shi Guanyin cannot endure any woman who is more beautiful than she is; therefore, she destroyed Qiu Lingsu’s face, to make Qiu Lingsu’s life not any better than death, to make her suffer throughout her life.”

“Who would have thought that Ren Bangzhu [gang leader] was unexpectedly deeply attached to Qiu Lingsu; not only he did not change because her appearance was destroyed, he even married her and took her as his wife. Shi Guanyin wanted to destroy her, yet plainly Ren Bangzhu wanted to rescue her. Naturally Shi Guanyin could not bear it, naturally she would not let him off.”

“Who would have thought that Tianfeng Shisi Lang was unexpectedly one step ahead of her; he found Ren Ci first, and by the time she discovered that Tianfeng Shisi Lang already entrusted her child to Ren Ci, she immediately dispelled her idea of killing Ren Ci, because she already thought about a better way than killing him. Not only she wanted him dead, she also wanted to destroy his root.”

Speaking to this point, Chu Liuxiang could not help heaving a deep sigh before continuing, “Other women would not be able to wait that long, but in order to destroy one person, unexpectedly she did not hesitate to wait more than a dozen years, waiting until her two children are growing up, before she went to look for them.”

Wu Hua also could not help heaving a deep sigh; he said, “These matters, how could you think about them?”

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Just think, if it were not she telling NanGong Ling, telling him that Ren Ci was not his benefactor at all, but the personal enemy who killed his father, how could NanGong Ling be that heartless toward Ren Ci? After you entered Shaolin Temple, already you are very intelligent, but that that time NanGong Ling was still a kid. Even if his innate tendency was cold and unkind, but Ren Ci raised him to adulthood, to some extent he ought to receive some good influence; how could he do such a malicious thing? I have long felt very strange about this matter, from beginning to end I could not figure out the reason behind it.”

“But now you have figured it out, haven’t you?” Wu Hua asked.

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Now naturally I have figured it out, just because she told the two of you your lives experience; therefore, you knew that you were brothers, therefore, you also started to detest your benefactors. So when you did what you did, not only because you wanted to dominate Wulin, but also because you wanted revenge.”

Wu Hua heaved a deep, deep sigh. He spoke unhurriedly, “You are indeed an intelligent person, only too bad you are a bit too intelligent.”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “I have heard that sentence many times.”

Wu Hua coldly said, “But this time, it is your last time.”

Chu Liuxiang eyes were flashing, he spoke in heavy voice, “Now I was hit by your drugged incense, I don’t even have any power to fight back; are you really going to make your move against someone who does not have the slightest bit of strength to resist?

Wu Hua laughed; he said, “I originally could not bear to kill you either, but I learned something from you.”

“What is it?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

Wu Hua replied word-by-word, “That one person’s heart cannot be too soft; otherwise he would die under someone else’s hands. It is precisely because your heart is too soft that today you will die under my hands.”

Heaving a deep sigh, Chu Liuxiang sadly said, “Wu Hua, oh Wu Hua, I really misjudged you; all along I have misjudged you.”

Only to hear ‘Qiang!’ a long saber suddenly appeared in Wu Hua’s hand. The saber light was like snow. Wu Hua’s eyes were fixed on the bright-as-snow long blade, he spoke slowly, “Do you remember that ‘Yingfeng Yi Dao Zhan’ [One Saber Chop in The Wind – see Book 1, Chapter 17]?”

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang responded, “How can I forget?”

Wu Hua said, “When this saber kills, there will absolutely be no pain, you won’t feel the blade chopping down on you. I can guarantee that there is absolutely no death on earth more delightful than this …”

He sighed, and then went on, “This is the last thing that I can do for you. There’s no harm in you considering it as my way of repaying you.”

Then, the bright-as-snow blade, fast like lightning, chopped down on Chu Liuxiang.

There was not a single living human being in the valley. Even those pitiful men, who might never do anything else but sweeping the ground, Huamei Niao [the thrush] did not let them get away either.

Now, although all the dead bodies have been covered with cloth by Chu Liuxiang and the others, the valley was still full of sickening smell of the reek of blood.

Only the Stone Guanyin’s exquisite and elegant secret room was still as beautiful and warm as before. Under the illumination of the faint lantern light, the intoxicating sweet smelling fragrant was still pervading the air.

Now, the Stone Guanyin has returned here. It seemed like she was also still as serene and beautiful as before, as if no matter what happened, nothing could change her the slightest.

A piece of sky-blue-green cloth was hanging in the corner. Pulling the cloth down, a sparkling and translucent, huge mirror appeared. The frame was studded full with jadeite and precious stones.

But even these priceless jewels could not take away the splendor of the mirror. In itself, the mirror was like carrying some kind of mysterious magic power.

Anybody who came to this mirror would nearly be unable to bear not to worship it.

The Stone Guanyin was standing in front of this mirror. No one knew how long she has been standing there. She was staring blankly at her own reflection in the mirror. A lovely blush gradually appeared on her pale face.

And then, she suddenly took off every single piece of clothing from her body. As a result, her perfect, practically without any blemish body also appeared in the mirror.

The lantern light cast its gentle and soft light on her naked body. Her skin was glossy like satin. Her white-jade like breasts were standing proudly in the warm and dry air of the desert. On her pair of perfectly round and slender legs, the lines were gentle; so gentle that they were like the spring breeze in Jiangnan [general area south of Changjiang (Yangtze) River].

The Stone Guanyin was standing bolt upright, staring blankly at her own reflection, the lust in her eyes were even stronger than a lecherous man’s; she was unwilling to miss even the most secretive place.

At last she sighed with satisfaction and spoke unhurriedly, “A woman of my age can still keep her figure so well, other than me, I am afraid there can’t possibly be the second person in the world!”

The Stone Guanyin in the mirror was smiling too, as if it was saying, “There will never be the second person in the world.”

The Stone Guanyin sat down in a spacious and comfortable chair directly in front of the mirror. It seemed that even though she was a bit tired, but her expression looked very happy.

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