Chapter 13: Gongsun Manor
Nangong Le was looking pale as he walked in the streets. Even though Priest Ling Kongquan wanted to support him but Nangong Le refused.
Priest Ling Kongquan was surprised that Nangong Le could continue to walk so dignifiedly despite breaking his ribs.
He asked, “Are you really alright?”
Nangong Le smiled bitterly, “What do you think?”
Priest Ling Kongquan managed an awkward smile, “You really can smile. I have heard that you been practicing the Exuberant Divine Skill for more than ten years now. That is indeed a most extraordinary inner martial skill.”
Actually Nangong Le was feeling real awful and miserable now. But he had to maintain his refine mannerism and his dignity for the congregation. He did not want his enemies and opponents to know that he was injured.
All of a sudden, Nangong Le began to increase his walking pace much to the surprise of Priest Ling Kongquan. It was as though his injuries had suddenly vanished!
Nangong Le was heading towards a handsome young man and an alluring beautiful lady in white. In fact, it seemed that the entire street was also looking in their direction!
A handsome young man with a charismatic aura with a white long sword walked down the street. If anyone were to look into his face, it seemed to be glowing and untainted with malice. He was pleasing to look at and caused everyone to remember that there was still righteousness and goodness in the world.
As for the alluring maiden that was beside him, was like a fairy maiden that had descended upon the mortal realm. She was extremely beautiful and graceful. Even though she was very pale and white, she was filled with vitality. Her smiles were wondrous and piercing, everyone instantly thought she was amicable and intimate, an illusion that caused everyone to think that she alone was smiling and friendly to them alone.
They were indeed Yi Ping and Ji Lingfeng.
When Yi Tianxing had left the valley to visit the grave of his late wife Shui Yichi, he warned them not to look for Gongsun Bai and instead spent the time to practice hard on their martial skills until he was back.
Yi Ping and Ji Lingfeng knew that he would be away for at least six months.
So when Ji Lingfeng had said to him, “In a few days, there will be a huge gathering hosted by none other than Gongsun Bai himself. With so many people, there is no better time than this to sneak into the Gongsun Manor amidst the confusion. What more, we can take the opportunity to embarrass him in front of the heroes of the martial fraternity.”
He had asked her, “How did you know and what is your purpose of going there?”
She said, “I was already aware of it three months ago. Moreover, this gathering is not a secret and almost everyone in the fraternity knows about it. I want to attend the gathering and if possible, to disrupt it. However I am acting alone as my brother disapproves of it. The orthodox pugilists would probably fight for leadership and it is an excellent opportunity for me to witness their martial skills so that I can forewarn my brother.”
With that in mind, they had set off hurriedly for the Gongsun Manor.
He turned to ask her in a low voice, “You say that today is the day the Gongsun Clan will host a grand congregation that invites the majority of the orthodox fraternity. And it is the best time to infiltrate into the residency of the Gongsun Clan and to kill Gongsun Bai. Why is that as soon as we entered the town, we seem to be monitored? Have they already known of our plans or because they know who you are?”
Ji Lingfeng smiled and said endearingly, “I have never walked in the martial fraternity before. It is not possible for anyone to have ever seen or heard of me. Look at you, getting nervous even before we are there. To be honest, we don’t have any invitations. Even though the number of pugilists and renowned people that have been invited are numerous, the Gongsun Clan will be vigilant against strangers and will not allow any heretic and unorthodox exponents into the gathering.”
Yi Ping growled softly, “You are the one that says that there will be confusion with so many people and there is no better opportunity to sneak in than this.”
Ji Lingfeng was smiling at him endearingly, “I have thought that we may be able to sneak into the Gongsun Manor but look at all the attention we are getting. Now I don’t think it is possible now.”
Yi Ping asked, “Then how?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “We just have to try our luck and look for an opportunity.”
All of a sudden, Yi Ping halted his steps. It was because he suddenly saw a refine man approaching him. Behind him was a middle age priest in his fifties.
The refine man bowed respectfully with his hands and asked, “I apologize for interrupting. Are you going to the Gongsun Manor as well?”
Even though he was bowing respectfully, his eyes had never left Ji Lingfeng.
Yi Ping was forthright and he answered without hesitation, “That’s right.”
Perhaps the refine man sensed that he was not being recognized or being look upon favorably by Yi Ping and Ji Lingfeng, so he quickly said, “Alas, what a coincident! I too, am going there. I apologize again for intruding all of a sudden. I, Nangong Le, enjoy making friends from all over the fraternity. May I have the honor of knowing your name and this maiden?”
Who had never heard of Nangong Le the Joyous from the Nangong Aristocracy Clan? He was one of the four most influential and renowned young masters of the martial fraternity and was destined for greater things in the future. Among the four young masters of the martial fraternity, he was said to be the richest and his wealth rivaled that of the imperial treasury.
Nangong Le pointed to Priest Ling Kongquan and said, “This is Priest Ling Kongquan. He is a prominent elder of the Tranquil City.”
Priest Ling Kongquan was startled at how spirited Nangong Le was. Just a moment ago, he was looking so pale and weak. He sighed to himself, “Is that how he got his nickname of Nangong Le the Joyous?”
Yi Ping simply said, “I am Yi Ping.” He did not introduce Ji Lingfeng or appeared to be interested in the conversation.
Nangong Le was slightly startled. Usually when he announced his name, everyone would be trying to flatter him and be acquainted with him. But this young man did not appear to be interested.
Nangong Le awkwardly said, “Young hero must be someone who comes from a renowned clan or an established orthodox clan to be invited to the Gongsun Manor. May I have the honor to know your illustrious background?”
Ji Lingfeng smiled and said, “My younger protégé brother Yi Ping is the son of the Yi Tianxing. We don’t have any invitations from the Gongsun Clan. But because Gongsun Bai was the sworn brother of our protégé master, we thought of paying him a visit. That is all.”
Nangong Le was startled that Yi Ping was the son of the Great hero Yi Tianxing who had seemingly disappeared from the martial fraternity twenty-five years ago. His exploits were many and till today, was often mentioned by many. He was even more startled that this maiden took the initiative to talk with him.
So he thought, “Is she also interested in me? That is excellent! So she is the older protégé sister of this Yi Ping. This must be their first time that they are traveling in the fraternity. They seem to lack caution.”
So he said amicably, “I have heard of the exploits of the Great Hero Yi Tianxing. In all my life, I have only admired him!”
When he noticed that Yi Ping’s eyes had shone, he quickly added, “Today I can be acquainted with his descendant, I am greatly honored! If I am born twenty years earlier, I might have the opportunity to be acquainted with this legendary hero…alas!”
Yi Ping said respectfully, “My father will be pleased to know that!”
Even Priest Ling Kongquan had heard of the renown of Yi Tianxing and he quickly said, “Young hero, you are the son of Great Hero Yi? I am Priest Ling Kongquan. I enjoying making friends and if young hero did not feel I am unworthy, we can be friends too.”
Yi Ping quickly said, “The Tranquil City is a renowned clan in the fraternity. It is my honor to be acquainted with you instead.”
Ling Kongquan smiled and said, “That is my honor as well. Is your father well? The martial fraternity has not heard of him for a long time.”
Yi Ping sighed, “It is a long story. Maybe I can share with you later.”
Ling Kongquan said, “I am not a nosy parker. If it is not convenient for Young Hero Yi to share, I understand.”
Ling Kongquan could sense his sorrows but he kept it to himself.
As for the maiden that was with him, he had never seen anyone as beautiful as her. Even though the twin sisters were extremely beautiful, they were icy cold. It was their coldness that reduced their attractiveness to him. But this maiden was personal and was smiling happily while they were talking. It was as though she was a close friend who was paying a great deal of attention to them.
Nangong Le said, “You must definitely come with me so that I can have the honor of befriending you. Since Brother Yi did not have any invitation and I have, I can easily invite you as my entourage and bring you into the Gongsun Manor!”
Yi Ping was surprised at his magnanimity, “Brother Nangong you are too kind to me. I apologize for my rudeness earlier!”
When Yi Ping knew that Nangong Le was his father’s admirer, his attitude towards him changed and he began to regard him as a friend!
Ji Lingfeng sighed in her heart, “He is so gullible! This Nangong Le has his eyes on me. He may have fooled Yi Ping but he cannot fool me.”
Indeed, Nangong Le quickly said, “I forget to ask for your older protégé sister’s name?”
Yi Ping replied, “Her name is Lingfeng.”
Ji Lingfeng glanced fiercely at him but in a blink of an eye later she was smiling again.
She had almost fainted from incredulity! How could he have given her name to anyone just like that? Normally, when the pugilists roamed the fraternity, they would use a fraternity name to hide their clan of origin or identities.
It was not that Yi Ping was not aware of this pugilist practice especially with a dubious background like Maiden Ji. But when she had intentional introduced him as her younger protégé brother and even revealed his father name, he was none too pleased about it even though he knew that she was trying to get an invitation from Nangong Le to enter the Gongsun Manor.
He did not want to make use of anyone to enter the Gongsun Manor. Even if he had to barge into the Gongsun Manor to confront Gongsun Bai, he would do it.
Nangong Le remarked to Ji Lingfeng, “What an enchanting name! I have also never seen anyone as beautiful as you. May I know if maiden is married?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Even though I want to but unfortunately I am not.”
Nangong Le pretended to be disappointed and said, “Why is that so? With your wondrous beauty, I can imagine you surely have hordes of suitors and admirers?”
Ji Lingfeng sighed and she was instantly sad, “I hate to mention this but none of my suitors ever lived long enough for us to get started. They all died of mishaps after they had sent the engagement gifts. It is like a deadly curse to me.”
Her sad countenance caused everyone to feel sad too. It was as though her emotions could affect everyone and the first thought was to comfort her.
Nangong Le was secretly pleased that she was still unmarried and he said, “Even if there is a curse, it is my privilege to die for you.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled alluringly, “We have just met and yet you are willing to die for me?”
Nangong Le laughed, “What I say is the truth!”
All of a sudden, Yi Ping could feel a boiling jealousy in his heart. He gritted his teeth and thought, “Maiden Ji has the right to choose her suitor. I cannot stop her. Moreover, my first priority is to avenge my parents and Yixian! Moreover, Nangong Le is rich and is compatible with her… ”
Yi Ping thoughts were disrupted when Nangong Lei said, “Brother Yi. Then, let us settle it. We shall go to the Gongsun Manor together! I am sure to be given a good seating position in the hall!”
Yi Ping bowed with his hands and said, “Let’s us go then!”
Priest Ling Kongquan whispered, “Brother Nangong, are you sure that in your current state, you can still go to the Gongsun Manor?”
Nangong Le laughed it off, “Do I look like I am injured to you?”
Yi Ping asked, “Brother Nangong, you are injured?”
Ji Lingfeng looked concerned at the same time as she asked, “You are injured?”
Nangong Le said, “Earlier I had a fight with someone. It is just a small ruffle and I sustain a slight injury.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled, “For that someone to pick a fight with the renowned Young Master Nangong of the Four Martial Young Masters fame, his injuries may be even worse.”
Nangong Le laughed merrily, “Of course, of course! It is a one side victory for me!”
Priest Ling Kongquan could not believe his ears as he sighed deeply, “He does anything to impress…”
When he looked at Nangong Le again, he was back to chatting merrily with Maiden Lingfeng and Yi Ping.
The Gongsun Manor was not an ordinary residence. It was located in the middle of the town and it had high walls around it. It was more like a fortress and there was a large moat at the entrance.
The Gongsun Clan ruled this town. This town had been built by the Gongsun Clan over the centuries. Most of the people in the town were actually associated with the Gongsun Clan.
There were guards everywhere, from the steps of the Gongsun Manor and to the top of the castle walls.
Because Yi Ping and Ji Lingfeng were the guests of Nangong Le, they made it through the gates of the Gongsun Manor without any hassle.
As they went through the gates and into the manor, one of the guards said to the other, “That Nangong Le is really something. I have never seen such a beautiful maiden in my life and probably never will. He is famous as a womanizer and it is said that everywhere that he goes, he will be always be companied by beautiful ladies. Now I truly believe!”
The other guard said, “Look at us. When we saw that maiden, we have actually forgotten to record Young Master Nangong Le’s guests’ names.”
The steward also sighed, “I too, have forgotten about it. I can recognize Priest Ling Kongquan. As for that young man and young maiden, I do not know.”
The first guard that spoke earlier said, “Surely, the guests of Nangong Le will not be troublemakers and none would be from the unorthodox clans. Let’s close an eye and get over it. There are still many more guests that are waiting.”
The steward nodded and signaled for the next group of guests to be brought in.