Chapter 8: The Treachery of the Martial Fraternity
When Yi Ping got back with two jars of the best wine that he could purchase, tossed around his shoulder, it was nearly nightfall.
Yi Ping could not find Maiden Ji anywhere in the vicinity. His heart sunk. Had she lied to him? Not only was she not here, he had also lost his precious sword to her.
It was said that the pugilists of the martial fraternity were full of wiles and trickery. The first rule was always, never to trust anyone. Some pugilists meant no malice but would not hesitate to make a mockery out of others. And it seemed that Maiden Ji had helped him in order to trick him into giving her his precious sword on his own free will.
After shouting for some time for her, his heart sunk. He was crestfallen and cursed, “Her name….her name is probably not her real name! How foolish I am. This is an important lesson!”
He composed himself and after a while, he said to himself, “I have only lost a sword but has acquainted with an extraordinary lady. She has saved my life and I have yet to repay her. If she likes that sword, I would have given it to her even if she has not asked for it. She has asked me to go to the town to buy some wines. Isn’t that a good idea too? I can’t drink in peace in the town but now I can drink peacefully in this serene place!”
He started to uncork a jar of wine and began to appreciate the wine. The feeling was soothing and he was comforted.
But once again, he was interrupted.
“I have asked you to buy some wines for the old freak yet you have taken to drinking all by yourself? I have thought that you have the sincerity to find that old freak to be your martial master? Hmph, you are really…” A familiar voice could be heard scolding him gently.
Yi Ping had a skip in his heart. He looked up and saw Maiden Ji walking towards him. He rubbed his nose and was secretly overjoyed to see her again. He said, “I thought that you are gone and so I decide to drink alone.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled, “You thought that I am gone? Do you not miss me? If I am gone, why didn’t you search for me then?”
Yi Ping was speechless and said, “I didn’t think so far. If you want to leave, who am I to stop you?”
Ji Lingfeng smiled, “It seems that you are really a heartless fellow. Here, take this back!” She threw the White Emerald Phoenix precious sword at him.
Yi Ping caught the sword in mid-air and placed it on his side. He said, “I really thought that you are gone…”
Ji Lingfeng sighed, “It is your entire fault!”
Yi Ping asked, “My fault?”
Ji Lingfeng unhappily said, “I am waiting for you and playing by the waters. All of a sudden, two identical young beauties attacked me just because I had that sword of yours. They kept accusing me of stealing their sword. From their martial origins, it is obvious that they are from the Eternal Ice Palace.”
She added sarcastically, “So that is your assurances earlier that no one would be after this sword?”
Yi Ping was startled and he asked hurriedly, “They are twins? Are they alright? What did you do with them?”
Ji Lingfeng was clearly displeased and she replied coldly, “Shouldn’t you have asked if I am alright first before you ask of them? Or are you acquainted with them?”
Yi Ping said, “You are standing right in front of me now. It is obvious that you are unharmed. Hurry and tell me what happens to them?”
Ji Lingfeng hummed coldly, “I didn’t do anything to them. We duel for a while but their Divine Emerald Skill and swordplay are too unfathomable. They are even harder to deal with than that Jue Yuan. I didn’t want to waste my time fighting and messing with the protégés of the Eternal Ice Palace so I fled from them. I took a detour back here again and yet you are not worried about my safety?”
Yi Ping sighed solemnly, “They are my friends. You are my friend too. I don’t wish for anyone of you to be harmed.”
Ji Lingfeng said coldly, “The Eternal Ice Palace is a forbidden ground for men and they had strict rules on that. It is unlikely that they are your friends. It must be your wistful thoughts. They seem to care more about this sword. Did you steal it from them? Like all men, you are dishonest! I have thought that you are different but now, I know otherwise!”
Yi Ping panicked and said, “Maiden, I don’t want to lie to you. I am the new Master of the Eternal Ice Palace. As for the twin sisters, they are Yujian and Meijian.”
Ji Lingfeng was equally startled and she asked, “How can it be? Isn’t the Eternal Ice Palace a forbidden ground for men? With your mediocre skills, you aren’t even fit to be their opponent!”
Yi Ping sighed and said, “It is a long story…”
Ji Lingfeng was saddened in her heart. It was because she did not want to be associated with a liar and the young man that she had saved was just a common thief. If Yi Ping had said that he had stolen the sword, she would not mind. But a liar was a person that could not be trusted.
Ji Lingfeng said coolly and there was mocking in her eyes, “I have the time. Go on, convince me.”
Even though she was beginning to distrust him but she had decided to give him a final chance to explain.
He began to relate to her what had happened to him during his sojourn to the Heavenly Mountains. How he had met Shui Yixian and how he had accidentally become the new leader of the Eternal Ice Palace.
After Ji Lingfeng had heard his accounts, her expression of disbelief did not go away.
Even though she had prided herself on her superb intellect, yet she could not tell if Yi Ping was telling the truth. When he was talking about Shui Yixian, his eyes were emotional and he seemed to be in a place far away. A liar would not possible display such sentiments unless he was really an experienced actor. She was deeply moved.
She sighed in her heart, “He must have taken a great deal of beating. That is why he is now delusional. What a pity…”
His accounts had too much inconsistency in it for her to believe. It was because his martial level was too weak to inherit the helm of the Eternal Ice Palace. That was as good as destroying the repute of the Eternal Ice Palace, something that a rational leader of the Eternal Ice Palace would never do.
Moreover, even though she knew nothing much about the Eternal Ice Palace, it was well known in the martial fraternity that there was currently no men in there and the Emerald Mistress Celestial Fairy sworn herself to celibacy a long time ago! And she was said to be a ninety year woman now if she was still alive.
Yi Ping virtually told her everything except the part where he had to leave the Eternal Ice Palace in a hurry.
Ji Lingfeng looked away and said, “No matter if you are telling the truth or not. Let’s us pay that old freak a visit. He is an erratic fellow. I dread to visit him so soon but because you are asking for it and I have no heart to say no to you, consider it my bad luck.”
She had never expected that the first man that she took a liking to was a broken down wanderer and was a delusion fellow that had lost his mind. She had not really expected her first possible romance to be so screwed up.
Yi Ping was overjoyed and he said, “Good, let us hurry now!” He immediately started to walk rapidly.
Ji Lingfeng looked at his back view and sighed in her heart.
She immediately said, “Hmph. That is the wrong way, you know…”
Yi Ping immediately froze in his tracks and he looked awkwardly, “If that is the case, may maiden lead the way.”
Ji Lingfeng said, “So I am your tour guide now?”
Yi Ping was stunned by her question. He fumbled and said, “I don’t know the way…”
Ji Lingfeng sighed, “Actually I don’t really remember the way very well too.”
Yi Ping was startled, “You don’t remember?”
Ji Lingfeng averted her eyes and said, “It somewhere in that direction. I don’t have a map and I was eager to travel to the main road. I didn’t really pause to observe my surroundings for any landmarks as I was traveling too rapidly.”
Yi Ping asked, “You really don’t remember? Surely you can’t have forgotten the paths that you have taken. We can just back track. It is really a simple matter. We can look for your old tracks once we are there.”
Yi Ping had been a wanderer for a long time. He was a superb pathfinder and had rarely lost his way even when he had no maps.
Ji Lingfeng pondered for a while, “I don’t think we can find an easy path.”
Yi Ping asked, “Explain?”
Ji Lingfeng sighed as she pointed to the stretches of mountainous hills in front of them, “I…crossed at least seven hills and had jumped down at least twenty times on those steep cliffs. Jumping down is easy but can we fly up? Can you fly up?”
Yi Ping blinked his eyes in astonishment. He finally said, “What can we do then?”
Ji Lingfeng asked him, “You asking me what to do? It is you that want to go to that accursed place. I don’t even want to go there.”