There was no sound, only the occasional firewood crackling in the fire. That strange young man and Ghost Li did not speak anymore, the flames leapt and flared, burning between them.
The lustre and colour of the roasted boar skin slowly turned a golden colour, in the air thick with its fragrance, a slight burn smell wafted out, the entire skin surface was covered by a clear faint layer of oil, Ghost Li lastly turned the roast boar a few times, said, “It is ready, help yourselves!”
He had just finished his sentence when Xiao Hui and the TaoTie pounced over at the same time, Xiao Hui [zhi zhi] shrieked, stretched one hand and first grabbed one of the hind leg of the roast boar, the steaming hot boar skin in its hand did not seem to have any effect on its hand. But that TaoTie was even more ferocious, without using its limbs or sharp claws, it opened its huge bloody mouth, disregarding the fact that the meat was still above the flames, stretched its head over and bit down in one mouthful.
This mouth of TaoTie, was already huge enough to terrify humans, such a big boar, the beast’s entire mouth swallowed the whole thing, leaving only that hind leg grabbed by Xiao Hui.
Xiao Hui was enraged, it’s monkey face displaying its anger, refusing to let go of the hind leg and at the same time jumped and shrieked loudly. But the ferocious beast TaoTie did not bother, that mouth full of sharp teeth [ga beng] crunched down, immediately like crushing dry weeds and smashing rotten wood, the delicious boar meat was bitten into two parts, Xiao Hui was caught unprepared, fell backwards and rolled twice on the ground, when it stood up, there was only the hind leg in its hand.
As for most of the delicacy roast boar, right now was in TaoTie’s mouth, it chewed loudly, the remnant bones seemed to be crushed and swallowed in too, like a strong wind scattering the last clouds, total annihilation, and especially that four eyes on its face, were pushed to the sides of its faces by its bulging big mouth but they still shone brightly, obviously it was eating very happily.
[Zhi zhi, zhi zhi…] Xiao Hui watched as the delicacy which belonged to him and now the greater part of it snatched away by this ferocious beast, how would it not be enraged but after shrieking a few times, it abruptly lowered its head and started to eat too, eating rapidly, in just a while the drumstick was eaten by half.
[Hou…] The low deep roar of the TaoTie once again sounded, it slowly turned to look at Xiao Hui, such a big roast boar, in such a short while it had already cleanly finished and swallowed it, not even leaving the bones. And very clearly, like it had not enough, its four eyes brightened, stared directly at the remaining portion in Xiao Hui’s hand.
Xiao Hui fiercely finished that last portion of meat, its three eyes glared widely at TaoTie. TaoTie’s mouth salivating, dripping down, one step by one step, walked towards Xiao Hui, Xiao Hui waved its hand suddenly, threw the last bone far away in one direction, at the same time its face gloated at what it had done. That TaoTie’s figure flashed, like lightning, leapt up and caught that flying bone with one bite, turned and flew back, landed beside that young man. However, the TaoTie seemed to know this was the last piece, did not swallow it all in one bite, instead lovingly, stuck out its tongue and licked incessantly on the bone.
Xiao Hui was stunned by the TaoTie, turned and faced Ghost Li, suddenly gestured and danced, calling out [zhi zhi] continuously, Ghost Li watched for a while, was surprised and said, “You said it is similar to Big Huang?”
Xiao Hui immediately nodded and then looked over at TaoTie, the angry expression on the monkey face slowly disappeared, replaced by an unfamiliar-yet-warm expression. It watched the TaoTie which was licking the bones for a while then carefully moved over, slowly stretched its hand, looking like it wanted to pat TaoTie that savage’s head. The fierce TaoTie’s head turned and growled warningly, Xiao Hui immediately jumped backwards but after it [zhi zhi] called out quietly a few times, once again approached TaoTie and TaoTie’s attention seemed to also temporarily leave the bone and focus on Xiao Hui.
After a moment, Xiao Hui’s hand again stretched over, TaoTie did not move but it’s four eyes were watching Xiao Hui’s hand, Ghost Li and that young man were both keeping still, especially that young man’s eyes had a strange glint, quietly watching the interaction between the two strange beasts.
Xiao Hui’s hand touched TaoTie’s head and gently stroked it, the TaoTie growled a few times quietly but it did not seem to object, its attention again back to that bone in front of it, Xiao Hui then slowly went near this beast, using its hands to gently stroke the TaoTie’s body, revealing a happy expression on its face.
Ghost Li slowly lowered his head down, vaguely remembered many years ago, on the Big Bamboo Valley, Xiao Hui and Big Huang, seemed to have gotten close like this too. Time flowed like water, so actually Xiao Hui still remembered the beginning…
That young man suddenly broke the silence, smiled and said, “Didn’t expect both of them to have an affinity for each other, isn’t it?”
Ghost Li glanced at both Xiao Hui and TaoTie, a trace of tenderness in his eyes, said, “That’s right.”
The young man turned his head over, added a thin small branch into the fire and became quiet again, after a long time he suddenly smiled and said, “This TaoTie has been with me for so many years, all along I thought I was taking care of it, unexpectedly today I then discovered, it is so much happier than me.” An indistinct bitterness obscured in his smile, he continued, “Other than having its fill, even though it is not his species, it is willing to make friends with that monkey of yours.”
Ghost Li lifted his eyes and watched this young man, saw his melancholy expression, as if he had some unspeakable loneliness, faintly said, “If you are lonely, just find a friend will do.”
That young man snorted, haughtily said, “In this whole wide world, who deserve to be my friend, and who dares to be my friend?”
Ghost Li frowned, this young man’s boastful talk was really exaggerated, in his heart he felt somehow disgusted but he saw that the young man seemed to be recollecting something, his expression downcasted, muttering to himself, “But, there was once a person, I truly trust her…”
Ghost Li watched him through the fire flames, faintly said, “What?”
That young man’s face suddenly turned cold, with a sneer said, “In the end, I discovered all along she was lying to me, not only that, she even caused me a lot of trouble, almost doomed me forever!”
Ghost LI was quiet, from that young man’s expression, he unexpectedly recalled that past buried deep in his heart ten years ago, that kindly and amiable monk’s face, once again appeared before his eyes…
He abruptly shook his head but the branch which he was about to add into the fire, emitted a light rough sound, turned into powder and scattered.
The young man glanced at his hand, suddenly asked, “You too have such a painful past?”
Ghost Li’s face was sombre and did not speak, that young man watched him, the glint in his eyes flashed and suddenly said, “If you were to die now, do you still have any unfulfilled wish?”
Ghost Li was stunned, his heart at a loss, at that instant a thousand thoughts crossed his mind, pouring in thick and fast, he had never once thought of this question and when it suddenly was placed before him, revenge, deep hatred, ten years of long-cherished wish, lingering white clothes, his whole life tossed about by the wind and rain but he had never thought about, deep inside his heart, what last wish did he have?
It should be to save BiYao, if he could revive her, he would even be willing to die! This thought, in the numerous nights in the past ten years, he had thought about it for countless of times. But that frost-like face, in the end he was unable to give it up, in a secluded corner of his heart, lightly fluttered…
For a moment he was dazed, the night breeze rustled by, not knowing how much time had passed, when he came out of his daze, that young man was already gone, the TaoTie on the ground had just flew up, merging into the night sky, it’s deep low roar was heard from afar.
Xiao Hui scurried up its shoulder, [zhi zhi] called out twice, Ghost Li slowly looked up to the sky, suddenly quietly said, “Xiao Hui, eventually I have to meet her, isn’t it?”
Xiao Hui did not seem to understand and did not bother too, it’s monkey head also looked at the sky, as if searching for the figure of TaoTie.
The remnants of the fire gradually died out, forming a spiral of light smoke, gently drifted, Ghost Li and Xiao Hui stood quietly deep inside this mountain, after a very long time, in the night breeze, an indistinct quiet voice was heard.
“...eventually have to meet her…”
This great calamity with the passing of time, the situation became more devastating, the monsters had already reached the Central Plains, the casualties were heavy and most of the Good Faction disciples which were sent out to investigate disappeared, a few of the higher-skilled disciples made it back but were also wounded, when they reported to the various elders, they described the extreme horrors of the monsters.
The people of the world were plunged into misery, the Good Faction people were helpless, at that moment the news that Qing Yun sect, Tian Yin Temple, FenXiang Valley the three big sects would convene at Qing Yun Hill and also invited the world’s Good Faction sects to come together and fight against this calamity, immediately the cultivated martial artists of the world started to head towards Qing Yun Hill. In just a few days, a never-before-seen masses and masses of people gathered around Qing Yun Hill and most of them were Central Plains refugees, to them, those celestial-like Taoist figures on Qing Yun Hill were all of their last hope.
And Qing Yun sect, who was responsible to receive them, was terribly busy, more and more fellow Faction artists and commoners arrived at Qing Yun and soon, Qing Yun sect TongTian Peak’s guest rooms were all filled up and the other branches also had to accommodate guests. Fortunately Qing Yun sect was after all a thousand-year great sect, deep rooted with huge property, in the end they were able to accommodate them. However only the Small Bamboo Valley among the seven branches which had always had female disciples, ShuiYue Master was also quite temperamental and so they did not open to the outsiders, that instead made many of the young guests who had long admired them, to feel extremely disappointed.
But after all, although the calamity was imminent, right now was still a never-before-seen large Good Faction assembly, Qing Yun sect honoured as the host, its fame increased even more, the world indirectly had already took Qing Yun as the leader, and Qing Yun sect head, Reverend DaoXuan, right now was firmly established as the world number one leader.
In the night, Qing Yun Hill mountain ranges various peaks were brightly lit, that was really something not seen before in a thousand hundred years, far below the foot of the mountain, accompanying the mountain breeze, the faint laughter and chatter of the people high up in the mountain could be heard, the people who were in fear because of the calamity, seemed to lighten up much. After all, even if the sky collapse, isn’t there still a Qing Yun Hill above their heads?
Right now the quietest place on Qing Yun Hill, most probably was Small Bamboo Valley. The various sects after Qing Yun sect’s sincere explanation, restricted themselves from going near Small Bamboo Valley, after all with the current situation, if there was to be any licentious scandal from their disciples, nobody would look good too.
Compared to the bustling noises of the other branches, Small Bamboo Valley obviously was quieter, two or three Small Bamboo pretty female disciples walked past occasionally on the mountain path, the breeze blew past, the Tears Bamboos which populated the entire mountain rustled together, making [sha sha] sounds.
This night the moon was clear and cold, illuminated the mountain path in Small Bamboo Valley, the bamboos’ shadows swayed, the shadows wavered on the mountain stairs. From far four or five female disciples walked over, in the fore was WenMin. Those female disciples together with WenMin, looked somber, their brows knitted, as if they were troubled.
The chilly wind blew past the bamboo forest, a dark shadow seemed to flash past.
The youngest girl beside WenMin looked to be only about thirteen years old, rather timid, she glanced sideways at the darkness, her face slightly pale, shifted near WenMin, pulled her clothes, softly said, “Big, big senior sister, there, there seemed to be someone!”
WenMin and the rest were shocked and looked over at the same time, after a moment, a hint of smile appeared on WenMin’s face, she patted that young girl’s face, said, “Xiao Shi, that was the bamboos swaying from the mountain breeze, the shadows caused by the bamboos moving, it is always like this every night, you have just come up the mountain, after some time you will know.”
That girl who was called Xiao Shi heaved a sigh of relief but was still afraid, however she suddenly seemed to think of something, turned around to look and said, “Big senior sister, that Full-Moon platform behind the mountain didn’t even have a single person there, everywhere are these, these gloomy dark things, we left XueQi senior sister alone there, will she be afraid?”
WenMin’s face was somber, sighed, said, “It was Sect Head teacher uncle who wanted your XueQi senior sister to do some soul-searching over there, we can’t do anything too but XueQi senior sister she most probably will not be afraid I guess!”
Another girl who was standing behind WenMin suddenly snorted, seemed aggrieved, said, “I really don’t understand, why must Sect Head teacher uncle treat XueQi this way, just because she refused to agree to FenXiang Valley’s marriage proposal?”
[Pa], deep inside the bamboo forest, there seemed to be a light soft sound, like some animal had stepped and broke a bamboo branch but the group of girls’ attentions were all right now distracted and did not hear it, only the youngest Xiao Shi seemed to be suspicious but when she looked into the deep forest, she only saw shadows moving and could not help but turn pale again and quickly turned back.
WenMin sighed again and said, “Actually that Li Xun fellow brother is really not bad, a man of striking appearance, his background is also good and in the future most likely the FenXiang Valley valley master’s position will be passed down to him, and also looking at his expression, he valued XueQi a lot but love this word, it really cannot be forced.”
Another girl suddenly lowered her voice and complained, “Teacher is really too, she knows very well XueQi’s temperament, why did she not also help to intercede to Sect Head teacher uncle.”
The first girl shook her head and said, “I think something is not right, XueQi has always been most obedient to teacher and also reveres very much Sect Head DaoXuan teacher uncle but this time she actually contradicted them on TongTian Peak, I think…” she suddenly suppressed her voice and softly said, “Unless XueQi already has someone that she likes…”
“Stop it!” WenMin suddenly commanded in a low voice, everyone was taken aback, WenMin’s expression turned slightly relaxed but her tone was still stern, quietly said, “This kind of speculations, we must never speak of it carelessly, if not if this reaches Sect Head teacher uncle or teacher, the consequences would be unthinkable.”
The group was silent, the girl standing behind WenMin after being silent for a while, quietly said, “Senior sister, actually from what I see, what kind of figures are Sect Head teacher uncle and teacher, our conjectures, why wouldn’t they think of it? This time Sect Head and teacher deliberately consented to FenXiang Valley marriage proposal, most likely is because they know XueQi in her heart has…”
WenMin whipped her head around, glared at her, that girl’s expression changed, sighed and did not speak anymore. WenMin heard her sigh, she herself was silent for a moment, could not help also but sighed and said, “Lin junior sister, actually our thoughts are the same, XueQi with us all, although we joined the sect at different times but the past several years, we have long grown close like sisters and none of us wished to see her like this. But...ai, I too do not know what to say, anyway I think teacher doted most on XueQi and I guess ultimately will not be too hard on her.”
The rest of the female disciples nodded together, the group unhurriedly walked off, discussing quietly, indistinctly sighs were heard too and they gradually walked further away.
The shadows in the bamboo forest swayed, suddenly a dark figure from the deep darkness lightly drifted out, landed on the mountain path, it was Ghost Li. In this place where all of the surroundings were foes, his face was slightly pale, after staying quiet for a long while, he then slowly turned back and gazed towards the back of the mountain of Small Bamboo Valley. Behind that stretch of bamboo forest, the moonlight clear and bright like frost, it was heard that over there was one of the six scenic places of Qing Yun, Small Bamboo Valley Full-Moon platform.
A clift solitary suspended in the mid air, other than the rear part of it was connected to the mountain body, most of it was suspended high up in the air. This night the moon was clear and bright, hung high up in the horizon, watery moonbeams, like frost-snow it shone down onto the world, onto this viewing platform. Although it was not like what the legend had described when it was a full moon night where the moonlight brilliancy could flood the entire Small Bamboo Valley but the moonlight on the viewing platform was gentle, illuminating the entire clift like daylight, especially because of the different angles of the smooth rocks on the floor, reflected the moonbeams, made it seemed even more clear, cold and beautiful.
When Ghost Li stepped onto the Full-Moon platform, what was presented before him, was this picturesque scene. And in that frost-like moonlight, there was a white clothed-like snow girl, who was back-facing him, stood at the fore of the viewing platform, gazing upon the boundless black night, quietly.
Ghost Li’s face was indifferent but a pair of eyes as if reflecting this beautiful moonlight and appeared glimmering with brilliant rays, that white clothed figure, like a fairy standing in the moonlight, seemed not to have any slightest mortal aura.
As if sensing something, that figure moved, Lu XueQi’s cold and slightly tired voice said, “Senior sister, why did you all come back again…”
She slowly turned while speaking but her words halfway, suddenly disappeared, Lu XueQi’s usual detached cold face, suddenly revealed an inconceivable look, that man’s figure, quietly stood there, gazing at her.
“Zhang…” She opened her mouth slightly, before her words were out her voice was muffled, “...Xiao Fan.”
Ghost Li stood there, did not move, the moonlight shone onto Lu XueQi’s snow-white skin, almost like translucent and flawless, enhancing her that soul-stirring beauty. From far, he actually had that unapproachable feeling.
“You, still fine?” He had thousands of words but what he said, was only these words.
Lu XueQi gazed at this man, that man who stood between the moonlight and shadows, his expression was that complicated, as if something was tormenting him in his heart but that figure was clearly in front! That figure which had appeared countless of times in dreams!
She lowered her head slightly, did not speak. After a long while, she softly said, “Since you are here, why don’t you come over?”
Ghost Li’s body shook, Xiao Hui who was with him, had ran off somewhere, hesitation flashed past in his eyes, to him, these few short steps seemed to require a lot of courage.
Lu XueQi was still standing there, quietly like that, the mountain breeze blew over, her white clothes gently fluttered.
Stepping out, walking in the moonlight, the bamboo forest making rustling sounds behind, the girl in front slightly lifted her head to look, Ghost Li stood in front of her.
Lu XueQi looked at him, the initial panic and emotions slowly disappeared, she suddenly spoke, “Still remember the words I once said to you, the next time we meet, we will be irreconcilable foes, you, “ She looked at him, slowly spoke, “Why did you still come to see me?”
Ghost Li’s lips moved, his eyes glimmered, suddenly looked away from Lu XueQi, just when Lu XueQi’s expression gradually became dejected, that man in front of her again slowly turned his head back, as if hesitating, as if struggling, finally softly said, “You, seemed to lose weight…”
Lu XueQi’s body shook, astonishment once again flashed past her face but what followed, was joy. Her snow-like fair face, for the first time in her life, flushed with faint redness, like sparkling ruby, boundless tenderness and lingering shyness.
Even if there was no tomorrow, even if ahead was still darkness, but if the heart was warm, maybe one would not be afraid…
This beautiful clear cold girl, suddenly smiled, like the most delicate and charming lily in the night, soundlessly smiled in the wind, her white figure was that dazzling presence in the moonlight. Ghost Li held his breath.
Lu XueQi suddenly spoke, spoke each word by each word, “I am really happy!” then, she was still smiling, her eyes gentle like lingering water ripples.
The night turned deeper, the moon set.
Standing side by side on the platform, gazing together at that blanket of darkness ahead, the mountain breeze blew past, both persons’ clothes fluttered at the same time, their figures within the clear bright moonlight.
Gentle, was the feeling when the wind blew onto the face!
In the bottomless and dark firmament, there was still spots of stars, quietly twinkling.
“FenXiang Valley proposed marriage to you?”
After remaining silent for a long while, Lu XueQi calmly said, “Yes, teacher and sect head teacher uncle both have agreed.”
Ghost Li’s voice did not appear different, indifferently said, “When I was on the way, I heard your senior sisters’ conversations, heard that you are not willing?”
Lu XueQi smiled and said, “Yes, I am not willing.”
Ghost Li turned and looked at her, what reflected in his eyes was instead Lu XueQi’s cool expression and a hint of smile in her eyes. He suddenly had an impulsion, it seemed to leap up from deep within his heart, even his body also trembled, he burst out, “Come with me!”
Lu XueQi’s body trembled, looked at him, saw Ghost Li, no, right now in her eyes, it was clearly the Zhang Xiao Fan from the past! Was it that determined and persevering man?
Anywhere! To the ends of the earth!
Her lips smiled but crystal ripples seemed to move in her eyes, as if hesitating about something but after a moment, she finally still softly said, “Then BiYao?...”
Like a basin of cold water pouring down, Ghost Li’s entire body was rigid, from deep in his heart from the deepest recesses a chill seeped out and instantly turned him into ice. Light green figure, serene smile, that beautiful figure lying on that cold stone platform, instantly knocked him down.
He quietly bend his head, remained quiet for a long time, then, when he again raised his head, the agitation on his face was gone, replacing it was detachment. Lu XueQi stare blankly at his change, that clarity feeling of this man in front of her, from the lingering warmness, slowly departed, hiding into the cold darkness.
She inhaled deeply, a smile revealed on her lips but who could see, the tears at the corner of her eyes, that moment of soul-stirring beauty!
“Next time, “ Ghost Li turned around, slowly leaving, “When we meet again, use your sword!”
He left without turning back, like a determined lover severing affection, the moonlight followed after him, like a gentle hand feebly tried to get involved but in the end unable to stop his figure.
He disappeared into the darkness, that was his way in, that was also the direction he left!
Lu XueQi’s pale face, still had a frozen faint smile, snow-like clothes danced in the wind, under the moonlight, until, she soundlessly shedded a drop of tear.
The tears bamboos which covered the entire mountain, under the moonlight, in such a cool night, rustled...