Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Chapter 147 - To Meet


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?  
      
Go where?

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...

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Chapter 146 - Chance Encounters


The great calamity started from that year spring summer, after thousand hundreds years later, the people still remembered it clearly, those terror and madness days.

The extreme south of the southern border, within the ten thousand great mountains, innumerable monsters and different races suddenly gushed out from it, the numbers were uncountable, each and every creature were blood-thirsty, regardless whether it was male, female, young or old, they killed anyone upon sight and many of them coveted for human meat, the places where they passed by, the scenes were appalling.

This calamity erupted from the southern border district nearest to the ten thousand great mountains, spread rapidly to the entire southern border, the five tribes, Miao, Zhuang, Tu, Li and GaoShan rose to fight.

However facing those innumerable monsters, especially when there were several strange demonic monsters with highly skilled shaman powers within them, the five tribes’ resistances were like a mantis trying to obstruct a chariot, destroyed in a blink of an eye, the southern border people in utter misery, a field littered with corpses.

The news shocked the world, words spread far and wide, the people in Central Plains were shocked by the news and for days in a constant state of anxiety, a few Central Plains commoners living near the southern border packed up their families and fled to the north, hoping to stay as far away as possible from this calamity.

Not one of the cultivated skilled martial artist was not appalled by the news, even the Good and Evil Factions which had always been fighting openly and covertly with each other, at that point in time also temporary cease fire, quietly watching the southern side movements and started to make strategies for themselves.

FenXiang Valley which was situated at the south, as the valley master, Yun YiLan, happened to lead a great number of disciples to pay a visit to Qing Yun Hill Reverend DaoXuan, fortunately escaped the disaster.

It was said that after the event, Yun YiLan valley master heard about the tragedy of the southern border people, beat his chest and stomp his feet, was so grieved that he wished he was dead and said that if he was around, he would never allow the evildoers to make trouble and torment the commoners. The reproval of himself and grief were apparent in his words and already had the intention to commit suicide in order to seek redress, fortunately his disciples grabbed him right and left and with the Qing Yun sect various elders leaders’ persuasions, Yun valley leader then calmed down, promised that with FenXiang Valley’s entire force, he would seek revenge for the southern border people!

Soon, Yun YiLan at Qing Yun Hill announced to all of the cultivated martial artists of the world, explained that the great calamity at present was raised by an evil beast, this demon was highly skilled and by nature cruel and savage, without the combined efforts of everyone the evil would not be defeated, as such, FenXiang Valley and Qing Yun sect together appealed to the cultivated skilled martial artists of the world, with the power of everyone’s combined forces, execute this hunt!

The next day, Tian Yin Temple after receiving the news, formally made a reply, agreed with Qing Yun, FenXiang’s appeal and within the next few days sent men over to convene with them.

The Good Faction feverishly raised money and discussed, dispatched batches of talented disciples to spy on those monsters’ backgrounds, after all, knowing yourself and your enemy and you would never be defeated.

And the Evil Faction three great powerful branches which had always been puffed up with pride, Ghost King sect, Wan Du Clan and HeHuan Sect instead became quiet, almost like watching each other and not in a hurry to make any move. And also with this situation, the Central Plains temporary entered into an unusual peacefulness.

This unusual peacefulness, a day before summer arrived, finally broke, the monsters which had trampled and devastated southern border had finally reached Central Plains.

But the initially, the number of casualties was not high, because a month ago, the commoners living near the southern border had all already fled. The number of monsters seemed to keep increasing and rapidly extending out, soon it would be entering the Central Plains hinterland, and that, would be the time when all of the people be plunged into misery and sufferings.

Uncertain whether it was the terrifying news or the hard-to-discern-truth-or-lie rumours but shocking news did in fact come one after another, the previous day was a village wiped out in bloodshed, today was an entire city reduced to ruins, no matter to whoever living each day in fear and terror, all would be that torturous and filled with trepidation.

However, to someone whose heart had died, even if the entire world was dead, it did not concern him. Ghost Li staying with Zhou YiXian, Xiao Huan and Wild Dog, had already been more than a month, even he himself did not know why he was following them, maybe he had long sensed that he had nowhere to go and just went along with the flow.

Among them, Zhou YiXian vehemently objected to Ghost Li coming along, not to mention they had to feed one more person for free but this person was not like Wild Dog Taoist, who carried their luggage and did the trivial chores, the entire day he was either drinking or sleeping and instead needed others to care for him frequently.

And talking about free loaders, Ghost Li only drank a little wine and that was all, Zhou YiXian’s biggest eyesore was that three-eyed monkey, Xiao Hui, not only it had an astonishing appetite, even its alcohol tolerance far exceeded Ghost Li who passed out once he drank, a big bag of wine downed and the monkey’s face did not even turn red, if not for Xiao Huan who insisted on bringing this man and monkey, Zhou YiXian would have run as far as he can get.

As for Wild Dog Taoist, ever since he tried to attack Ghost Li and was stopped by Xiao Hui, and eventually pardoned by Ghost Li, from then onwards, Wild Dog Taoist became taciturn, not speaking a word for days frequently.

But in the past few days, no matter whether it was Zhou YiXian who was constantly grumbling or Xiao Huan, including the taciturn Wild Dog Taoist, started to notice some changes in Ghost Li, although it was hard for them to describe what exactly but Ghost Li indeed was slowly turning sober, the most obvious was the number of times he was drunk had started to reduce and at times remaining sober for the whole night. But his behaviour was still eccentric - Ghost Li often sat with Xiao Hui, facing north and staring blankly, as if he had something on his mind.

The news of the great calamity in the south, following the mass migration of the common people fleeing to the north, started to spread, Zhou YiXian and the rest also came to know about this.

Within the group, Zhou YiXian was first to be stunned after hearing the news, after which he contemplated for long, shook his head and then heaved sighs the whole day, muttering where should he flee to?

The others were not as worried as him, Ghost Li and Wild Dog Taoist looked like they had something on their minds, Xiao Huan did not seem to give a care about the danger which seemed still far away, to her, playing with Xiao Hui and occasionally chatting with Ghost Li, these kind of days were fulfilling.

However, under the insistence of Zhou YiXian, eventually they still headed north, according to Zhou YiXian, the further away from the south, it would at least be easier for them to live their lives. But as the refugees from the south increased along the way, the situations described turned worse and worse.  Like splitting a bamboo, the demonic monsters and tribes devoured maniacally and had already forced their way into the Central Plains hinterland.

A few days before, among the news there was one which said the monsters had already reached the city wall and moat several hundred miles behind them, scaring Zhou YiXiang and the rest into rushing their journey, although not long after they got to know that the news was just a rumour but the fear and trepidation of the people could clearly be seen.

Deep in the night, the group of them camped outdoors for the night, made a campfire at one of the small mountain top, they sat around the fire, only Ghost Li sat in a distance.

Xiao Hui jumped out from the darkness, carrying a number of wild fruits in its hands plucked from somewhere, scurried up Ghost Li’s shoulder, after settling down, started to munch with big mouthfuls.

Zhou YiXian glanced sideways over, hesitated for a while, looked over to Xiao Huan and Wild Dog Taoist, said, “I have something that I need to speak to all of you.”

Xiao Huan felt puzzled, looked over to Zhou YiXian and said, “Grandfather, what is it?”

Zhou YiXian was about to speak when suddenly Xiao Hui sitting at Ghost Li’s shoulder seemed to discover something, loudly [zhi zhi] shouted. Everyone was startled and started to stand up, walk over to Xiao Hui and glanced in the direction of its gesturing. In the dim skylight, on the ancient path below the small mountain, a group of people was walking over, young, old, men and women, each one of them looked fatigued but still trudged forward.

Zhou YiXian after looking for a while, sighed and said, “It is the refugees from the south.”

Nobody said a word, Zhou YiXian after a while, said, “Actually what I wanted to say was this, now we do not know what is the situation in the south but with such sudden huge numbers of demonic monsters rampaging killing people, this cannot be wrong. These few days we have seen many people fleeing to the north, I think we have to increase our speed and make haste to the north.”

Xiao Huan frowned and said, “Grandfather, heading to the north is right and anyways we have always been wandering but the north is so huge, heard that those monsters’ movements are especially fast, do you have any good place to hide?”

Zhou YiXian glared at her, said, “Didn’t you hear the rumours spreading these days? There are skilled among the monsters, some are sharp-nosed, some have superb hearing, no matter where you are, hiding in the trees, in underground cellar or even deep inside the mountains, they would find you and eat you up. With such goddamn monsters, where do I go to find places where we can hide?”

Xiao Huan made a bitter face, said, “Then what do we do, don’t tell me sooner or later we all have to be eaten by those monsters?”

Zhou YiXian snorted, said, “Rubbish, I, Zhou Great Celestial, have superb strategy and wonderful foresight, how would I die by those beasts’ mouths. I have long figured out, in the whole world now, there is only one place where it is the safest.”

Xiao Huan was surprised, Wild Dog Taoist and even Ghost Li’s body also moved, turned to look at Zhou YiXian, Zhou YiXian could not help but feel conceited, [He he] laughed twice. Xiao Huan was both delighted and surprised, said, “Grandfather, there is actually such a place, quickly tell!”

Zhou YiXian coughed twice then solemnly said, “Qing Yun Hill.”

Wild Dog Taoist’s face changed, Ghost Li turned his head back, only Xiao Huan curiously said, “I know Qing Yun Hill is where Qing Yun sect is, mostly cultivated Taoists but after all it is only one sect, facing those monsters, if they are able to defend themselves it is already very good, much less care about us?”

Zhou YiXian [ha ha] laughed, said, “This you don’t know, although the news have not spread over but I am convinced that FenXiang Valley and Tian Yin Temple will definitely convene at Qing Yun, because Yun YiLan that old fellow right now is at Qing Yun, including the Qing Yun battle ten years ago, Qing Yun sect’s ‘Zhu Xian Sword Formation’...”

Ghost Li heard the four words, his body shook violently.

But Zhou YiXian did not notice him, continued to speak excitedly, “Qing Yun sect’s Zhu Xian Sword Formation has attracted much attention, everyone knows that sword formation truly has earth-shaking celestial powers, therefore if they convene at Qing Yun, at least they have another layer of protection. I guess the world’s Good Faction martial artists most likely in the next few days will head to Qing Yun and come together to fight against this unheralded catastrophe, if we go to Qing Yun then naturally we will be at the safest place. With so many highly skilled martial artists, I don't think they will just watch us commoners die right!” After speaking, he felt more and more conceited, could not help but laughed out.

A cold snort was heard suddenly in-between his laughter, Zhou YiXian was surprised and with Xiao Huan, Wild Dog Taoist together looked over, Ghost Li slowly stood up from the shadows but did not turn, coldly said, “Only that those Good Faction experts, not only will they leave you to die, they will also give you a kick behind your back.”

Zhou YiXian was mocked straight in his face, he felt a loss of face and angrily said, “Pei, anyway you are crooked devil in evil ways, even if you go you will also be kicked out…”

Xiao Huan suddenly shouted, “Grandfather!”

Zhou YiXian glanced at Xiao Huan, knew his words were too much, bitterly stopped, Xiao Huan turned and looked at Ghost Li, had some hesitation but eventually still said, “You, you don’t listen to my grandfather, he is like this, shooting his mouth off…”

Zhou YiXian was furious, broke in and said, “You dared to say your own grandfather is shooting his mouth off!”

Xiao Huan ignored him, still facing Ghost Li said, “But right now the situation is really bad, you better come with us, after all that place will be safer than the others…”

Before Xiao Huan could finish, Ghost Li indifferently said, “Don’t need to, the world is so big, I will have places to go.”

After speaking, his body moved and walked ahead.

Xiao Huan was stunned, anxiousness appeared on her face, she hurriedly said, “Zhang...where, where are you going?”

Ghost Li did not answer, his figure walking ahead increased in speed, Xiao Hui on his shoulder turned back, watching Xiao Huan who was staring blankly on the small mountain top, grinned and waved its hands.

Xiao Huan watched that swiftly diminishing and disappearing figure, for some reasons, she felt an inexplicable emptiness in her heart, she felt a lump in her throat and tears almost flowed out.

[Si!]

The light sound pierced through the air, Ghost Li’s figure swept past the night sky. The dark clouds heavy in the sky, not a single trace of starlight, the night sky seemed to be affected by the calamity in the south, looked sinisterly dark, not offering the people any hope.

Leaving Zhou YiXian and the rest, Ghost Li flew towards the south alone for some time, under this night sky, under the dark clouds, everywhere was black and heavy, the undulating wild mountains underneath the sky, cold and in solitude, the person in the air also felt empty, lost as to where to head to.

Xiao Hui crouching at his shoulder suddenly called out twice, Ghost Li glanced at it, the three eyes before him, Xiao Hui grinning, to it, most of the time it was happy. It was rare that Ghost Li’s face revealed a hint of smile and tenderness, gently patted the monkey’s head, his figure dropped down, headed for ground.

Where he landed was a wild mountain overgrown with thick dense forest, the grasses and trees exuberant, shrubs densely packed together, it was hard to find a place to land in the forest, most likely in this wilderness remote place, no one had yet came to this mountain and this forest. Ghost Li, before he landed, his right hand shook, Soul-absorbing stick flew out from his sleeve, rotated one round below his feet, he did not hear any unusual sounds, the next moment, a radius of six feet from this place, all of the trees, shrubs, brambles suddenly withered down and turned into deadwood.

After the Soul-absorbing stick flew back to his hand, Ghost Li clearly felt thin strands of cold air travelling along the black stick. Xiao Hui delightfully called out once and jumped down from his shoulder, ran deep into the forest. Ghost Li raised his head and watched Xiao Hui’s back figure, ever since from the southern border, especially after Xiao Hui evolved, its appetite became bigger and was constantly looking for things to eat.

The late night, the night breeze blew over from the open country, blew past this mountain, the trees making waves sounds, numerous shadows danced at the same time. Ghost Li slowly sat down on the ground and closed his eyes, the surrounding shadows brushed past his face, in the darkness, he was as silent as a spirit.

After some time, a low roar was heard indistinctly from afar and then disappeared, Ghost Li frowned slightly, opened his eyes but he did not move, and as expected the next moment, a movement from within the shrubs, Xiao Hui had ran back.

The sharp annoying brambles to Xiao Hui, was never an issue, many times it had just directly stepped over it, when it came near, Ghost Li saw one of Xiao Hui’s hands was placed at its chest, hugging several wild fruits but the other hand it was dragging behind it, like it was pulling something.

Ghost Li felt puzzled, looked behind it and got a shock. In the shadows, Xiao Hui seemed to be dragging something that looked like an animal, the size of it was not small, larger than Xiao Hui by a lot but Xiao Hui was dragging it easily. The next moment Xiao Hui had already ran to him, [he he] laughed and first put the fruits down, then flung its hands and [pong], a large thing slammed in front of it.

That was an adult boar, with a huge head, if it was standing, it would even be taller than Xiao Hui, the wild boar’s head had a wound, blood flowing from its body and already dead. Ghost Li looked at the wound, saw that it was fresh, paused for a moment in shock and asked Xiao Hui, “You caught it?”

Xiao Hui grinned and at the same time pointed to the boar and then pointed at Ghost Li.

Ghost Li sighed, smiled and said, “I am not hungry.”

Xiao Hui scratched its head, its three eyes blinked and then pointed to the wild boar and then at itself. Ghost Li could not help but laughed, for a moment the heaviness in his heart lifted, he smiled and said, “Alright, I’ll help you.”

Xiao Hui immediately grinned in delight, obviously it knew Ghost Li’s excellent cooking skills and its favourite. Ghost Li pulled back his sleeves, his finger like knife, gently sliced on the boar’s stomach and instantly the boar’s thick skin slashed opened, his actions skilled, in a few movements he had skinned the boar, flew up to find a stream and cleaned the meat, made a fire and started to roast.

The fire gradually grew stronger, Xiao Hui and Ghost Li’s faces were reflected red by the fire, by then Xiao Hui had already ate finished the wild fruits, its eyes staring at the roasted boar slowly emitting fragrant smell. Ghost Li slowly took out different self-made seasonings from his waist and added to the meat, and again found a small bottle of sesame oil, started to drip it slightly on the meat. The oil flowed slowly along the boar meat, stimulated by the fire grilling the meat, seeped into it. Very soon, a faint golden colour appeared on the meat surface, clear oil droplets oozed out from the meat, inviting fragrant smell wafted out.

The firelight gently wavered, illuminating the monkey and human’s faces and also the surrounding tiny empty ground and trees. The tall forest trees’ shadows wavered, as if there was wind. Ghost Li watched the fire in front of him and slowly went off into a trance and Xiao Hui, who was salivating while watching the roasted meat, touched its ears and grasped its cheeks, at times ran off nearby to get wood to add into the fire.

The still air, permeated with strange and inviting fragrance.

Deep inside the forest, a low cry was suddenly heard, [Hou!].

That cry was deep and forceful, seemed to be very far but still clearly heard from here, a murderous air swiftly pervaded over. Ghost Li abruptly shook awake from his reverie, his brows frowning, he did not move but his gaze slowly turned deep, watching the direction from where the cry came from. Xiao Hui leapt up Ghost Li’s shoulder, its face did not display any fear, also turned to look.

[Pi pa] sound from the fire, a branch burst, the wild boar’s fragrance intensitfied.

Three chi away was the dark forest, the wind above the forest suddenly became stronger, making [hu hu] sounds, after that cry there was no more sounds but that cold chill seemed to be making its way swiftly over.

Ghost Li’s pupils slightly shrank, his brows knitting tighter.

[Pi pa] the other branch also finally burst.

Suddenly, the howling wind lost its voice, the entire forest instantly turned silent and not a single sound made, ahead in the darkness, the dense forest entangled with the brambles, suddenly fell apart to the sides, making a narrow path for one person.

A young man wearing brightly-coloured silk clothes, with a handsome face and almost looking seductive, walked out one step at a time from the darkness. In the dark, he was so dazzling, as if the surroundings were illuminated because of him. Ghost Li did not stand up nor make any movements, he still sat on the ground, watching this young man.

That young man looked at Ghost Li and then at Xiao Hui, was slightly astonished, “Yi” a sound, said, “Three-eyed spiritual monkey!”    

Ghost Li did not speak, Xiao Hui suddenly [zhi zhi] called out, looking like it was furious.

Almost at the same time Xiao Hui called out, that deep roar once again cried out, the only difference was, this time the roar seemed to come directly from behind that young man.

[Hou…] following this deep and powerful roar, behind that composed young man’s back, from his shoulder a hideous strange head rose up slowly, four eyes, two pairs above and below on two sides of its face, as thick as bronze bell. Its mouth was huge, almost as wide as its face, when it opened its mouth, it revealed a mouthful of sharp teeth, especially six sharp fangs protruding out, was even more horrible, under the faint light from the fire, indistinctly saliva could be seen dripping from its fangs and onto its grey-black thick skin full of lumps.

Ghost Li’s expression finally changed, he unhurriedly stood up, coldly said, “TaoTie?”

Before that young man replied, he assessed Ghost Li and then like he sensed something, turned and looked at TaoTie (note 1) and was stunned, that ferocious beast’s vicious stare right now had greed but its stare was not at Ghost Li or Xiao Hui, instead it was at that roasting boar.

The air was filled with wafting roasted meat fragrance.

The young man suddenly laughed, spoke to Ghost Li, “Your skills are not bad! I was thinking why TaoTie was being restless, didn’t expect it was being lured by you.”

Ghost Li indifferently said, “TaoTie although is an ancient ferocious beast, swift and fierce but has always been greedy, what is one roasted boar.”

The young man shook his head, said, “Not so, this TaoTie of mine is different from the rest, it has long disregards the usual delicacies, didn’t think that it would actually be this ravenous for this crude-looking grilled meat of yours.”     
Like what the young man said, TaoTie seemed to especially favour this roasted boar, saliva flowed constantly from its mouth, dripping from the fangs, suddenly a howl, it jumped out from the young man’s shoulder, turned into a black figure and leapt towards the fire. Unexpectedly a grey figure flashed, [zhi zhi] angry cries were heard, it was Xiao Hui who had leapt over, blocked in front of the roasted boar.

The TaoTie with a [hou] low cry, landed down and revealed itself, its body looked to be bigger than that boar by at least four times, four feet with sharp claws and the strangest thing was its neck was extremely long, rising up, it seemed raise its body up by one fold.

Xiao Hui compared to it now was really pathetic but for some reasons, TaoTie seemed to have some fear towards Xiao Hui and did not dare to negligent, just that it did not want to part with the delicacy in front of it, roared in a low sound, it expression slowly turning hideous.

Ghost Li saw the two beasts facing off each other over the roasted boar, suddenly said, “This boar is still not ready, its flavour also has not reached the optimal heat, what are you two fighting for?”

His words seemed somehow baffling, even the young man could not help but took a few more glances at him, however the two beasts facing each other reacted, the TaoTie’s four eyes stared at Xiao Hui, Xiao Hui with its three eyes stared wide opened, the two beasts’ seven eyes stared widely at each other, the next moment, Xiao Hui [zhi zhi] called out to the TaoTie, bared its teeth and then ran back a few steps, sat down on its bottom beside Ghost Li, eyes staring at the boar.  

The TaoTie’s four eyes following Xiao Hui, when Xiao Hui sat down, this ferocious beast [hou hou] cried out twice, inconceivably slowly came to the other side of the fire, tucked its back legs, lightly placed it front legs and actually also lay down in front of the fire, just that it could not help but still salivated, it looked very horrible but also somehow comical.

That young man saw the TaoTie sat down, slowly walked over, disregarding the dirty ground, sat beside the TaoTie, watching Ghost Li, he smiled and said, “Which master is your distinguished self, didn’t expect you have such tactic, could make TaoTie temporary suppress its savage nature?”

Ghost Li did not look at him, sat down, his eyes back to the fire, said, “You and me is a chance encounter in the mountains, why do we have to know each other’s name, just a roasted boar, only to fill the stomach.”

The young man watched Ghost Li a while, suddenly laughed out, his laughter bright and clear, startled numerous nocturnal birds.

“Well said, well said.” He lightly beat his leg, an unexpected appreciation look on his face, said, “What a good fill-the-stomach. To say all the living things in the world, working hard for endless days, isn’t just to only fill their stomachs. As such, the so-called ‘human’ that you said, isn’t the same as me and this TaoTie and has no diference?”

Ghost Li gently rotated the boar, the fragrance smell on the boar immediately intensified, tempting the TaoTie to move restlessly again but not sure if it was because it wanted to taste the delicious food, this beast known for being greedy other than ferocious endured it and at the same time, Xiao Hui glared fiercely at it.

The fire quietly burned, reflecting on Ghost Li’s face, he slowly said, “Humans still has a difference.”

The young man said, “What?”

Ghost Li said, “Love, hate, affection, revenge, human has feelings.”

The young man laughed, said, “Why wouldn’t the beasts have feelings, you killed this boar, you would have known the pain and fear of it, if I kill you, you are like the boar. All living things are originally equal, why would there be difference between human and beasts?”

Ghost Li looked up, looked at the young man, said, “There is difference.”

The young man’s eyes were stern, said, “What difference?”

Ghost Li said, “My whole life I have one big regret, day and night it is engraved on my heart, living like I’m dead but yet I cannot not live. Live and yet still will have hope, dead and is like turning your back to affections, a timid and weak-willed person. Such affection revenge, how would a boar have it?”
[Translator’s note: Sorry I’m not capturing the meaning well here but it’s too hard for me.]

The young man was stunned, the stern look in his eyes slowly receded, following which a strange look appeared on his face.

[Note 1: TaoTie: <Divine and Evil . Strange Beast Chapter> :the Divine Land extreme south has ferocious beast, long neck with four legs, its nature violent, gluttonous. It moves swiftly like the wind, becoming a calamity to the other party.