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The Vast Desert Chapter 34


Chapter 34 – The Fair Sex Skeleton

She sighed contentedly and muttered to herself, “I am tired, I really am tired; do you know how much I have done today?

The Stone Guanyin in the mirror also looked very pleased, as if it was saying, “What you have done, it must be very extraordinary.”

The Stone Guanyin laughed and said, “Although that King of Qiuci is not as muddleheaded as I thought, but I still killed him; I also killed that daughter of his who thought she was very beautiful. The poison in the wine must already showed its effectiveness by now.”

“As for that Ji Bingyan and Hu Tiehua, I originally did not want to kill them too quickly; who would have thought that unexpectedly they grabbed the first cup of poisonous wine and drank it down.”

She sighed again, and then went on, “I also know that men like Hu Tiehua, they would rather die than receive humiliation from others, but I did not expect Ji Bingyan would do the same. This is really too bad, isn’t it?”

The person in the mirror also sighed, as if it was feeling very sorry too.

The Stone Guanyin was silent for half a day. And then her face broke into beautiful smile, she said, “But in any case, at long last my plan is accomplished; that thinking-too-much-of-himself Laotouzi [old man; often used deprecatingly] killed An Deshan and the others, it fits my intention well, I would have killed them sooner or later anyway.”

The person in the mirror was smiling as well, as if to say, “That’s right; it does not matter who died, you can’t possible care about it; on earth, there is practically no one that you really care about.

The Stone Guanyin giggled and said, “They killed all my people in the valley, thinking that it would be difficult for me to bear; they never thought that I already felt long ago that they are annoying. And now, I am about to change the situation; I am going to Qiuci to see what it feels like to be a Taihou [Empress Dowager]. If these people did not die, they would be nuisance to me. I really should be grateful to them instead.”

The person in the mirror also laughed aloud, as if it was saying, “They should have known, you can’t possibly be reluctant to part with anybody, with anything.”

The Stone Guanyin laughed and said, “Only you, my heart’s desire, only you know, only you understand me. When I am grieving, only you keep me company in my suffering. When I am happy, also only you keep me company in my joy.”

Her smile became indescribably tender; her pair of delicate and beautiful hands, gently and softly, as well as slowly, moved along her own body. Her usually cold and detached eyes also started to turn red-hot. As if talking in her sleep, she muttered, “On earth, it is also only you who can satisfy me. Those men … all those men simply disgust me.”

The person in the mirror also gently and softly caressed and stroked itself.

The Stone Guanyin looked at ‘her’ hand on her breasts, on her leg … lightly rubbing, gently moving. She looked at ‘her’ hand moving more urgently, it was moving faster.

Her eyes were burning like blazing fire, her throat emitted a series of intermittent moan, her beautiful naked body also started to convulse, to buckle. Moaning, she said, “You are really good, really good … no man on earth can compare with you, no man can ever compare with you …”

It was this moment that from outside the pearl curtain came the sound of sighing.

Although the sound was very light, it was like a crack of the whip, a whip lashing over and over on the Stone Guanyin’s naked body. The blush on her face faded immediately, her shudder and moan also immediately stopped. Her pair of curled legs also gradually relaxed and straightened out.

But her body was still sitting, unmoving, inside the chair. All of a sudden the burning desire turned into blazing rage. She clenched her fists tightly. It was only after this fury gradually passed that she sighed and said, “The person outside, is it Chu Xiang Shuai?”

Behind the curtain, someone also sighed and said, “Precisely Zaixia.”

Laughing indifferently, the Stone Guanyin said, “Since you are already here, why don’t you come in?”

Chu Liuxiang indeed walked in. His eyes were fixed on the Stone Guanyin in the mirror. The Stone Guanyin also fixed her eyes on his reflection in the mirror.

After a long, long time, Chu Liuxiang finally sighed and said, “I know that for as long as you live, you have been searching; you wanted to look for someone you could fall in love with. At first I was hoping that you would find him. But now I know that you will never find him.”

“Oh?” the Stone Guanyin replied.

Chu Liuxiang spoke word-by-word, “Because you already fell in love with yourself. The one you love is only yourself. Therefore, you can’t possibly care about anybody else, not even your husband or your kids.”

The Stone Guanyin suddenly sprang up from her chair and bellowed, “You … why did you spy on my secret?”

This woman, who was eternally so graceful, her speech and laughter were forever so tender, now unexpectedly suddenly became a shrew, became a beast. Her beautiful and clear eyes emitted vicious light as she stared at Chu Liuxiang, as she walked step-by-step forward toward him, as if she was going to swallow Chu Liuxiang whole, skin, bones and all.

Chu Liuxiang could not help tensing up; he retreated step-by-step backward.

Who would have thought that the Stone Guanyin suddenly halted her steps? Her face also immediately revealed a tender and moving smile; she looked at Chu Liuxiang and spoke softly, “You should forgive my losing self-control; I did not mean to be like this. You should also know that when someone has his secret uncovered, it would be hard to avoid flying into rage out of humiliation, right?”

Chu Liuxiang was stunned for half a day. Smiling wryly, he said, “I did not have any intention to spy on your secret either; I should hope that you will forgive me.”

The Stone Guanyin smiled and said, “You could make that remark, I really am very happy, simply because …”

She sat back down, and continued in soft voice, “Whether it is you who want to kill me, or it is me who want to kill you, we ought to leave good impression on each other. Even at the time of your death, I do not wish you to see me as a vicious and evil malicious woman. Therefore, even if you want to kill me, you should at least sit down and chat with me.”

She suddenly became gentle and beautiful and polite hostess. Toward a request from such a hostess, no one could refuse.

Chu Liuxiang could only sit down, smiled and said, “You have something to ask me?”

“That’s right,” the Stone Guanyin replied, “Naturally you also have some things you want to ask me. But because you are a gentleman who is always gentle and soft, as well as courteous toward women, you will let me ask you first.”

She smiled sweetly, and then said, “So, I will ask you: did you see Wu Hua?”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled; he said, “I did. He was really good to me; he insisted on finding a way to repay me.”

She seemed to be a bit baffled, “Repay you?” she blurted out, “How did he want to repay you?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “He wanted to use ‘Yingfeng Yi Dao Zhan’ technique, to chop my head with one saber strike.”

The Stone Guanyin giggled and said, “That kind of repaying method is indeed very special; it is also very interesting.”

“That’s right,” Chu Liuxiang said, “Indeed very interesting. It’s a pity that Zaixia’s head is really not too many; therefore, I had to tactfully refuse politely.”

The Stone Guanyin gasped, she said, “In that case, wouldn’t he be very disappointed?”

Chu Liuxiang asked, “Furen, aren’t you disappointed as well?”

The Stone Guanyin rolled her fluid glance on him, she chuckled and said, “I am not too disappointed, just a bit confused, that’s all.”

“Confused?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

The Stone Guanyin pointed at a green-jade bottle on the small table by the mirror. She slowly said, “Do you see that bottle? The content is that bottle is some kind of colorless, odorless, snowflake-like knockout drops. It also has a very beautiful name, which is ‘Eye Charmer’, just because when it hit the victim, it is as easy as young women throwing amorous glances; furthermore, the victim will feel light and airy, no longer able to exert the least bit of strength.”

“Did Wu Hua Xiong use it to deal with Zaixia?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

“That’s right,” the Stone Guanyin replied, “This kind of drug has always been effective, but why was it useless against you?”

Rubbing his nose, Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “In all my life, Zaixia has had not a few knockout drugs being thrown at me, but never had fallen victim to any.”

It seemed that the Stone Guanyin was a bit amazed; she could not help asking, “Why?”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “Did Furen notice that Zaixia often rub my nose?”

The Stone Guanyin spoke sweetly, “The way you rub your nose looks very adorable, I believe there were many girls who are fascinated by your action; but what does it have to do with the knockout drug?”

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Only because Zaixia rubbing my nose is not to act adorably at all; rather, Zaixia’s nose has always been faulty. It is said that the paranasal sinuses grew somewhat differently from other people. Therefore, no matter how, it could not be cured, so much so that even the most famous Shen Yi [Divine Doctor] of Jiangnan, the ‘Jinzhen Du Wei’ [lit. golden (acupuncture) needles crossing (or passing through) danger] Ye Tianzhi said that this nose of mine is beyond any medicine can save …”

He sighed, and then continued, “When one cannot breathe through the nose, he will feel dizzy and light-headed all day long; indeed it is more unbearable than any illness. Therefore, Zaixia swore an oath to master one kind of special inner power method. This kind of power has no special benefit; but after mastering it, the skin pores can breathe. After a long time, it became a habit. The nose then became a superfluous, useless feature. It’s just that I feel that without a nose I would look too unsightly, hence I did not cut it off.”

This time, listening to this, the Stone Guanyin was really stumped for words. After half a day, she could not help smiling wryly and said, “Since your nose is useless, naturally there is no knockout incense on earth that can affect you. Your skin pores can breathe, you practically do not need to take a breath, naturally your qinggong is much stronger than anybody else’s. No wonder some people say that a blind person’s heart is especially keen; it looks like some things on earth, often times one can indeed profit from a disaster.”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “Now I have revealed a secret to Furen that no one had ever known. Does Furen have any other question you want to ask me?”

The Stone Guanyin was silent for half a day. She said, “In that case, where’s Wu Hua? Did you use the way he was using to repay you to repay him back?”

Without waiting for Chu Liuxiang’s answer, she chuckled and said, “Naturally you did not. Everybody in Jianghu knows, Chu Xiang Shuai’s pair of hands has never been stained by the reek of blood; isn’t that right?”

Chu Liuxiang’s expression suddenly turned solemn; he said, “Precisely so. Human life is bestowed by the Heaven, nobody has the authority to take anybody else’s life. Naturally Wu Hua Xiong is not dead. This moment he is in the vicinity. Would Furen like to see him?”

The Stone Guanyin stared at his nose; she said, “If I want to see him, naturally there are conditions, right?”

“There are no special conditions at all,” Chu Liuxiang replied, “It’s just that Zaixia also wants to see some people; that’s all.”

The Stone Guanyin said, “Are they happen to be Hu Tiehua, Ji Bingyan, and the King of Qiuci, father and daughter?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Also Liu Yanfei, two brothers, Qu Wurong Guniang, and Yidian Hong.”

The Stone Guanyin said, “Qu Wurong and Yidian Hong’s fate is not bad; when I left, they were already gone. They even left a letter for you. Although I know that I shouldn’t read other people’s letter, but I still could not help taking a look.”

Holding his temper in check, Chu Liuxiang said, “And after reading, naturally you tore it up?”

The Stone Guanyin said, “But the content of the letter, I still remember.”

She chuckled, and then went on, “The letter was naturally written by Qu Wurong. She said, although they are already handicapped, they do not want to ask for your protection at all. Later on, if they have the opportunity, they wish to protect you.”

Chu Liuxiang knew that it must be what Ji Bingyan had said that had inadvertently hurt their feelings; he could not help sighing, but he could not help smiling either as he said, “These two are equally stubborn, equally haughty. They can be together, it is indeed pearls-joined-walls-fit-together; certainly we need to congratulate them and be happy for them. Furen ought to be happy for Qu Guniang.”

The Stone Guanyin said, “As for Liu Yanfei, two brothers that you are talking about, I practically did not see them at all. Presumably they have left.”

Secretly heaving a sigh of relief, Chu Liuxiang said, “But what about Hu Tiehua and the others?”

The Stone Guanyin spoke indifferently, “They are still in the vicinity, but I am afraid you are a step too late.”

The blood was drained from Chu Liuxiang’s face, he said, “They … are you saying they are already …”

Apparently the muscle in his throat suddenly tightened that his voice could not even come out.

The Stone Guanyin unhurriedly said, “I usually don’t like to use poison too much, because I still have so many different ways to kill people, which are a lot simpler than using poison. Therefore, speaking strictly about using poison, I really can’t compare with Qiu Lingsu. If you had come one step earlier, perhaps you could still save their lives. But now … but now no one can do anything about it.”

She was sketching it in light shades, but Chu Liuxiang’s heart was like it was just strung up and suddenly hurled down. Chu Liuxiang was scared out of his wits, hot blood was rushing up into his head.

But he also knew that in front of this kind of opponent, he absolutely must not be impulsive. Once he acted on impulse, he would immediately die. He only did his utmost to hold back.

It was indeed not easy. His fists were clenched tight, the fingernails dug into his flesh. He clenched his teeth so hard that the teeth in his mouth were nearly crushed. This was precisely the biggest defeat in Chu Liuxiang’s life, the biggest blow!

Even if he killed the Stone Guanyin, it would still be difficult to avoid eternal regret for the rest of his life.

Besides, he did not even the slightest confidence that he could overcome the Stone Guanyin.

The lantern light was still so gentle and soft.

Under this kind of lantern light, even an ordinary woman could be seductive and arousing, to say nothing of a stunning beauty like the Stone Guanyin, to say nothing of her body did not have even a strand of light muslin on it.

Stark naked, she displayed her body in front of Chu Liuxiang’s eyes in full glory, as if she was afraid that he would miss some things that he should not miss; therefore, she also changed her posture from time to time.

But Chu Liuxiang was only staring blankly; unexpectedly he did not seem to see anything.

Finally the Stone Guanyin sighed lightly and said, “I know that right now you must be thinking about avenging them. But I advise you to dismiss this idea, only because although your martial art is good, but I can, within a hundred moves – take your life away. Do you believe it?”

“I believe you,” Chu Liuxiang replied.

“But I don’t want you to die at all,” the Stone Guanyin said, “As long as you don’t force me, I will never want to kill you. Now, I really do not have anybody close to me. If you are willing, not only I could support you to the Qiuci throne at any moment, I could also let you …”

Her hands moved gently along her naked body, replacing words with silent action. It was indeed a lot more arousing than any words. Beauty, honor and glory, power, wealth … any one of these was enough to be an irresistible temptation for men, much less all four added together.

The Stone Guanyin said, “If you agree, you will obtain a lifelong of pleasure. If you don’t agree, death will be your only share. Could it be that these choices are not easy to make? Could it be that it is difficult for you to make up your mind?”

Chu Liuxiang suddenly laughed. He said, “I originally really wanted to agree. Too bad you are really too old. Even if you are very good in making a display of seductive feelings, but as soon as I remember that your son is more or less of the same age as me, it is enough to turn me off.”

To a woman whose beauty was already past her prime, who did everything she could to retrieve her youthfulness, all the most vicious words in the world added together would not be as hurtful as this remark.

This sentence like a nail hammer, heavily striking at the Stone Guanyin’s hurting foot. She strived to maintain her graceful good looks, her moving smile, but all of a sudden everything disappeared without any trace. Her whole body started to shake, she hissed, “You really want me to kill you?”

“That’s right,” Chu Liuxiang replied indifferently, “I would rather die than sleeping with you, this Laotaipo [old woman (often used contemptuously, counterpart of Laotouzi)]. You’d better wear some clothes; naked, you make me even more sick.”

He was afraid the Stone Guanyin would not be provoked, so every remark he made was more malicious than the previous one, because he knew that only by making the Stone Guanyin mad like crazy would he have a sliver of chance of success.

Indeed his objective was achieved.

The Stone Guanyin was so angry that even her breasts turned red. Although she was fully aware that Chu Liuxiang was deliberately trying to anger her, but she was unable to control herself.

When Chu Liuxiang was speaking the last sentence, she was still sitting in the chair, trembling; but when Chu Liuxiang finished speaking the last ten characters, she already sprang up from the chair, fast as lightning she launched seven different moves.

A person only has two hands, but this instant, it was as if she grew five more hands. These seven moves unexpectedly appeared to be launched at the same time.

In this instant, Chu Liuxiang’s throat, pair or eyes, chest, lower abdomen, all vital parts on a human body, were shrouded within the wind from the Stone Guanyin’s palms.

Chu Liuxiang had met not a few Wulin martial art masters, whose movement was extremely fast. Some people were able to catch a teacup falling from the table before the cup reached the floor, the cup was brimming with tea, yet unexpectedly not a single drop of tea was spilled. Some people were able to catch a housefly with a pair of chopsticks, or use a fishbone to nail the tail of a clear slug.

But compared to the Stone Guanyin’s movement, these people were practically as slow as old women weaving some patterns. Chu Liuxiang simply could not think of anybody who, in the blink of an eye, could launch seven moves at the same time; and among these seven moves, there did not seem to be a single empty move.

Chu Liuxiang rolled his eyes; he might as well not evading, not flashing away. Suddenly he shouted loudly, “Hold on!”

Such a fierce and severe offensive style, actually it was absolutely impossible to withdraw, but Chu Liuxiang had calculated accurately that the Stone Guanyin would definitely be able to hold back; furthermore, that she would definitely withdraw.

Indeed the Stone Guanyin, just by a hair’s breadth from striking, she miraculously disappeared. It was as if the Stone Guanyin had not made any move at all. Staring at Chu Liuxiang, she said, “What else do you have to say? Could it be that you are changing your mind?”

The back of Chu Liuxiang’s clothes was drenched in cold sweats. At this point the stake was really too high. If the Stone Guanyin was unwilling to listen to what he had to say, he would definitely lose his life.

But now, although by mere luck he won this hand, but his heart was nearly jumping out of his chest cavity. It’s just that he was born as a natural gambler; although in his heart he was terribly nervous, his face would never show it. Instead, he looked at the Stone Guanyin, chuckled, and then spoke indifferently, “Even if you want to make your move, shouldn’t you wear something first? If you must know, right now your appearance is like a cooked shrimp, your whole body is all red.”

Even if the Stone Guanyin really wanted to get dressed, it was already too late.

Chu Liuxiang practically did not wait for his words to finish, he already made his move.

Everybody in Jianghu knew that when the Fragrant Commander Xiang was making his move, it would be shocking. Just like when the fastest sword in the Central Plains, Yidian Hong was fighting against him, every seven-move attack, he retaliated with ten moves.

However, this time, only after he scrambled to launch three moves that the Stone Guanyin started to make her move. By the time he finished launching the tenth move, the Stone Guanyin unexpectedly also returned ten moves to him.

He heard the Stone Guanyin laughed coldly and said, “No wonder people say that you are full of devilish tricks and cunning stratagems. Looking at you now, indeed you are not bad. But you need not be pleased with yourself. You could deceive me once, can you deceive me the second time?”

By the time these words were finished, Chu Liuxiang’s whole body has already fallen into her control. She launched ten-move attack, unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang could not even return with seven moves.

It was only now that he was convinced that the Stone Guanyin’s martial art was indeed unmatched by anybody. In the whole world, no matter which school, which sect, which individual’s martial art, Chu Liuxiang, more or less, knew some. But the Stone Guanyin’s martial art practically did not look like anything on earth. In the whole world, when anybody made his move, Chu Liuxiang would, more or less, be able to see the rise and fall or the terrain, to see the change and direction – somewhat.

But the Stone Guanyin’s move was like the antelope’s hanging antlers; there was no trace to find.

Out of the strongest martial artists in the world today, Chu Liuxiang knew at least four or five. Some people said that Shaolin South Branch Zhang Men [abbot/head master] Tianfeng Dashi was the number one martial art master in the world. Some said that it was Kunlun Zongzhu [head of a clan/school] Leiting [(sound of) thunder] Shangren’s [lit. upper person, a title for Buddhist monk] martial art skill that was unequalled under the heavens. Still some said that the swordsmanship of the mysterious knight-errant ‘Xueyi Ren’ [lit. bloody garment man] was much more powerful than anyone. Naturally there were also people who said that the reason ‘Xueyi Ren’ could crisscross the world unchallenged was merely because he had not met Xiang Shuai.

But Chu Liuxiang knew that if these so-called number one Wulin martial art master in the world fight against the Stone Guanyin, no one would be able to withstand three hundred moves.

Chu Liuxiang also knew that fifty more moves, he himself would definitely die.

This moment the Stone Guanyin’s movement was slowing down.

If someone else’s movement was as slow as hers, in just one glance Chu Liuxiang would know which part of him she was going to attack, and would be able to easily evade it.

But although the Stone Guanyin’s move was slow, others would still be unable to see the target of her attack. Unexpectedly the slower her move was, the more dangerous it was. The slower her move was, the more terrifying it was.

Only because after launching a move, even if she already used nine-tenth of her strength, she could still make changes, plus the remaining one-tenth of her strength was still enough to be fatal.

After she launched an attack, unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang did not seem to dare to parry, he did not dare to evade. Only because after he parried or evaded, his strength would be exhausted, and then if at that time the Stone Guanyin’s style changed again, he would not be able to dodge anymore.

A fight like this, naturally it was unbearably strenuous. Not even in his dreams would Chu Liuxiang think that he would ever be in such a difficult situation.

Laughing coldly, the Stone Guanyin said, “Chu Liuxiang, do you think you can parry twenty more moves?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed. “I can’t,” he replied.

The Stone Guanyin said, “Do you think there’s anybody who can save you now?”

Heaving a long sigh, Chu Liuxiang replied, “No one.”

Now, the Stone Guanyin could put him to death at any moment. Even if those seven headmasters, great swordsmen all came here, they would not be able to save him.

Even if someone could, in an instant, assemble troops and horses from each prefecture, each way, from all over the world – in here, to tread on the Stone Guanyin until she became mincemeat, she would still be able to kill Chu Liuxiang first, Chu Liuxiang still would not be able to live.

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