Chapter 20: The Thousand Year Ice Cavern
Just when Yi Ping was lamenting silently to himself as he clutched his excruciating chest as Ji Lingfeng vanished from his sight, he turned pale immediately!
It was because he had suddenly discovered that the goat skin that contained the Asper Invocations Intricate Recite Manual and the Divine Revelation Skill was missing!
The secret skill had been given to him by his father and was secretly embalmed in a goat skin.
Did he drop it?
Or did Ji Lingfeng steal it from him? She was the only one that knew that the secrets in the goat skin.
Or was it Xiao Youxue?
He turned and looked intently at Xiao Youxue who was standing in a regal manner.
He could tell that Xiao Youxue was a haughty lady and there was a forbidden aura around here but yet there was something else about her that he could not pinpoint yet.
The more he looked at her, he was sure she was not an old lady.
But she could not possibly be the one that stolen his family secret skills because she had just saved his life…
Could it be Ji Lingfeng then? Maybe it was her after all. Maybe she wanted him to go after her…
But he shook his head and said, “No matter if it is Maiden Ji or Xiao Youxue, they are both my saviors. If they really want my family secret skills, so be it. A hero should repay his benefactors with something that is dear to him.”
Just when he was about to ask Xiao Youxue by asking her to run in an opposite direction from him, he heard a shout and there seemed to be a group of people that were moving rapidly in their direction.
Panicking, he grabbed Xiao Youxue as they began to move rapidly away from where they were.
Xiao Youxue gasped softly when Yi Ping had suddenly grabbed her hand. She too, had noticed that there were pursuers but was at a loss what to do as she was not supposed to hear anything.
Xiao Youxue wanted to gasp out immediately, “Let go of my hand…” But in the end, she did not say a word and instead, she was blushing as she thought. “He is holding my hand now…”
When Yi Ping had touched her hand, he got the electrifying feeling again as he thought in alarm, “Her hand is so silky and smooth?”
He almost lost his grip on her hand due to her silky hand so he gripped her hand even tighter…
He had no idea why his heart had been beating so fast.
At this time, Yi Ping and Xiao Youxue did not know that besides being pursued by the majority of the orthodox fraternity and the Honor Manor, Xiao Shuai and Shui Yixian were also looking for them at the same time.
It seemed that in this vast fraternity, there were no places for them to hide and seek refuge.
They traveled through the forest in a seeming random direction. Yi Ping had no idea where he was taking Xiao Youxue. He felt sorry for her that she was being forced to be on the run with him. Many times, he stopped to check if she was good as he was worried if she could follow his pace and fearful that she might be too tired.
But the truth was, Yi Ping was also seriously injured and he was slow while Xiao Youxue had intentional kept a slower pace than him so that he would not feel hurried.
Xiao Youxue looked keenly at his back and could not believe that she would one day walk side by side with him…
All of a sudden, Yi Ping spotted a cave along the side of a cliff. That might be a good resting and hidden place. The cave was still far and was concealed by trees but Yi Ping could see it clearly.
So he paused and wrote on the ground quickly with a stick, “Senior, there is a well concealed cave in the direction of that cliff. I think that may be a good place to seek shelter and from our pursuers.”
Xiao Youxue paused in her tracks and looked at the direction that Yi Ping was pointing. Even though her translucent veil covered her eyes but she could see through it keenly. But no matter how focus she was, she could not see the concealed cave.
She thought, “His eyesight is that good?”
After Yi Ping had regained conscious, he was suddenly endowed with superior sight, hearing and perception. At first he was startled by it but he was slowly adapting to it.
Xiao Youxue nodded slowly to indicate that she was willing to follow him in that direction.
Yi Ping said to her even though she could not hear him, “Good. I am worried that we may need to do some climbing and you may not have the strength.”
Yi Ping began to sweep the words that he had written on the ground quickly with a tree branches and they took off immediately.
They soon reached the cave. When they first entered the cave, Yi Ping and Xiao Youxue was startled by it. It was because the inside of the cave was freezing cold and even had ice in it while the cave outside was warm! It was not yet winter and yet this cave was like an entrance to an ice world!
Yi Ping said, “Alas! Is this the legendary ‘Thousand Year Ice Cavern’ that never melts even in summer?”
He was now bewildered and unsure if they should enter this cave. It was too cold and that they did not have any winter clothes.
Just as he was hesitating, Xiao Youxue walked into the cave!
Yi Ping called out after her, “Lady Xiao, wait! This cave may be dangerous!”
Then he thought, “She can’t hear me. I am so silly!” But still when he ran after her, he was still calling out and waving his hands, “Lady Xiao, wait!”
Even though Xiao Youxue was walking, it took some time for him to catch up with her. He was astonished at her pace. They were now in a huge ice cavern and there was even a stream in the cave. And in the waters, there were even snow white fishes!
Yi Ping was startled at the sight of this huge ice cavern…
Xiao Youxue was astonished too. Even though she had circulated her vital energy to protect herself from the cold, she could still feel the cold. Had she lost too much of her vital strength when she treated Yi Ping or was this cave supernaturally cold?
All of a sudden, a monstrous snow white fish that was at least a hundred times bigger than the other fishes jumped out of the waters and attacked Yi Ping!
Its jaws were so big that it could snap his head.
Even though the fish was startling fast, Yi Ping and Xiao Youxue was even quicker. They reacted with a supernatural speed as both of them struck the forehead of the fish!
The monstrous fish was knocked sideway and crashed onto the floor of the cavern.
Yi Ping was surprised that the Lady Xiao was able to react so fast. If she was not there, the monstrous fish might not be knocked sideway with his strength alone!
He thought, “She has saved my life again. Why am I so unlucky that even a fish thought of bullying me? I almost become the first man to be killed by a fish in this unlikely manner.”
They took a look at the monstrous fish that was still flipping on the ground. It was still alive. It seemed that they had afflicted little damage to it.
All of a sudden, Lady Xiao took out the long sword that Yi Ping had given her and slashed the fish on its body!
There was a binding flash of light as the sword hacked across the body of the monstrous fish! But to the surprise of Yi Ping, the sword failed to cut the armor scales of the fish!
Once again, the Lady Xiao hacked at the fish again but this time at its tail.
Yi Ping was already saying, “Wait!” But it was already too late.
This time, she had succeeded in cutting off the tail of the fish!
Yi Ping sighed and said, “We should have release the fish back into the waters. Even though it had tried to harm me but it did not succeed.” But he knew that Lady Xiao could not possible hear him. Moreover with her internal strength foundation, she might be much older than him and it was only proper for him to address her as senior and abide by her wishes.
The Lady Xiao cut the monstrous fish expertly with the White Emerald Phoenix sword and skinned the monstrous fish from the inside. Then she took the giant fish scales and put it into a bundle.
Yi Ping was surprised that Lady Xiao was also highly accomplished in swordplay. He had never seen her type of swordplay before. It was swift, precise and beautiful to behold.
He thought, “But why is it when I hold her hand, her hand is so smooth like Yixian and Lingfeng? It is as though she has never been trained with an external weapon…”
When she was done, she wrote onto the ground with the White Emerald Phoenix Sword, “This fish is a thousand year old ice fish. If we eat it, we can resist the cold here and even receive a boast to our internal strength.”
When Yi Ping saw that, he immediately knew what he should do. He wrote, “I will go out and collect the firewood.”
It was not long that he was back and they were roasting the monstrous fish over the fire that they had made. Lady Xiao had made another fire to boil some water from the stream. She took out a bowl that she had taken out from her bundle and put it onto the fire.
Yi Ping was surprised that this monstrous fish had no fish stink and instead, it gave off a sweet aroma scent. He examined its abdomen and saw that it was virtually empty. This type of fish must have required little food in order to survive.
It was not too long when the fish was fully roasted. No sooner did Yi Ping have started eating the fish that he started to feel the warmth creeping in. In no time, the cold was fully dispelled and he was comfortable.
When they had eaten, Lady Xiao began to pound the bones of the fish and threw it into the boiling water that she had made. After some time, she wrote. “The essence of the fish lies in its bone. Take the soup.”
Yi Ping did as he was instructed and drunk from her bowl. As soon as he drunk from the soup, he could feel a surge of renew strength in his body and a surge of vital energy bursting forth. He quickly took a deep breath with the ‘Divine Revelation’ skill and closed his eyes. Even though he had not said it, he was immensely grateful to her but did not know how to express it.
Xiao Youxue looked at him keenly and thought, “This thousand year old ice fish is a rare catch that the exponents of the martial fraternity can only dream of but is unobtainable except by sheer luck. Miraculous herbs and pills that boast a person vital strength were so rare that its whereabouts can often move the entire martial fraternity to fight over it. Take the ‘Great Rejuvenate Golden Pills’ and the ‘Divine Dragon Pill’ for example, imagine the bloodshed that change hands over it.”
She asked herself, “Is it too simply a pure coincident? Consuming one miraculous pill is a rare occurrence already. Finding another is simply unheard of. And now, we are feasting upon another. Is he really so lucky?”
She continued to pound the rest of the fish bones into the bowl. After she had finished boiling the soup, she took a sniff before she took consume it. Afterwards, she took a vital breath and began to meditate. Indeed, she could feel her strength recovering slowly.
She could feel her Icy Heavenly Intricate Tears strengthening immediately as her vital energies became more refine than previously! Because the Icy heavenly Intricate Tears was a cold and negative energy skill, this fish was also of the same element and so it was like a powerful tonic! This thousand year old ice fish had saved her probably decades of hard work and wrong turns…
After some time, when she opened her eyes, she saw that Yi Ping was already standing at the corner of the cavern.
When Yi Ping saw the Lady Xiao walking towards him, he began to exclaim, “I found a secret passage! It is really unexpected that this cave has a secret passage and it is man-made!”
Yi Ping sighed. He kept forgetting that the Lady Xiao could not hear him.
All of a sudden, Xiao Youxue cried out panicky…
Yi Ping was stunned. Was she not supposed to be a mute person?
Yi Ping looked at her and she was cowered to a corner at the sight of several rats.
Yi Ping said, “You can talk?”
Xiao Youxue nodded slowly as she removed her straw veiled hat.
All of a sudden, his eyes were wide opened. That was because the old lady that he had imagined had taken off her veiled straw hat and she was in fact, a ravishing young beauty. Her eyes were very beautiful but had a woeful expression.
What really stunned him was that she seemed even younger than him…
Yi Ping stammered, “Senior…Youxue, why did you pretend to be mute and deaf?”
She replied softly, “No reason…”
Yi Ping was puzzled, “No reason?”
Xiao Youxue averted her eyes, “There must be many maidens that like you. I don’t want to be one of them.”
Even though this was a lame reason but was also a reasonable one.
Yi Ping could only nod as he said, “If Lingfeng knows you are not an old lady and can even hear, I wonder what she will say.”
Xiao Youxue shifted her captivating eyes and said, “You seem to care a lot for her and even mind what she will say.”
Yi Ping was speechless. He said, “I only treating her like a sister…”
Xiao Youxue said, “But she may not think of you as just a sister…”
Yi Ping said, “A captivating maiden like her will surely have many good suitors for her to choose. Moreover, I am just a poor and out of luck wanderer…”
Xiao Youxue asked, “Did you ask her?”
Yi Ping said, “I don’t have to ask her to know. She has told me she dislike me on many occasions. Moreover, she is like a sister to me.”
Yi Ping had only said that because he was shy but when he named Ji Lingfeng as his sister, his heart was aching…
Xiao Youxue said, “How do you not know she did not mean the opposite what she is saying? Or else why did a lofty maiden like her talks so much to someone she dislikes?”
Yi Ping said, “We are friends…”
Xiao Youxue said, “So now you are calling her your friend instead of sister. How heartless. You are nothing but a flirt.”
Yi Ping stammered, “I…I…” He was confused himself.
All of a sudden, Xiao Youxue turned eerily cold and said, “What if I ask you not to see her again?”
She raised the White Emerald Phoenix Sword in front of her as she said coolly, “Don’t forget that you have personally told me you will do anything for me. I want you to not to see her ever again.”
Yi Ping was speechless. It was true. He had promised her…a hero that went back on his words did not have honor and was to be despised!
But Yi Ping replied firmly, “Anything but that!”
Xiao Youxue said coldly, “What a hero.”
All of a sudden, Xiao Youxue smiled and her eyes softened, “Don’t you worry. I am only teasing you. I won’t ask you not to see Lingfeng. That is because we are friends…”
Yi Ping was confused as he asked, “The two of you are friends?”
Xiao Youxue smiled, “That’s right. Therefore you don’t have to worry what she will say when she ‘discovers’ that I am not a deaf and mute person. That is because she already knows.”
Yi Ping was startled as he began to rub his nose. That was because he had not expected Ji Lingfeng to lie to him about this as she was the one that told him that Xiao Youxue was a deaf and mute person.
Xiao Youxue looked at him with her mesmerizing eyes and said, “What are you thinking? Didn’t you just say that you have found a man-made secret passage? What are we waiting for?”
Yi Ping could only smiled bitterly as he said, “I am still trying to adapt to someone whom I have been addressing as a senior and now becomes my junior.”
Xiao Youxue walked past him quickly as she said alluring, “Who…is your junior! Since you have already addressed me as your senior and I have saved your life, you have to listen to me. Let us go now.”
Yi Ping was startled. He was not startled by her words but when he saw her walking away, her mannerism and back view looked like the mysterious yellow dressed maiden. Even her voice bears some resemblance.
If she was the mysterious yellow dressed maiden, why would she save him? Surely she would have recognized him and killed him…
But Yi Ping thought, “No. That is not her. I recognized her voice and her mannerism…”
Yi Ping remembered that the mysterious dressed maiden was always very cold and gave off a cold forbidding aura. He could always remember her cold stinging words…but Youxue was affectionate and gave him a comfortable feeling.
Yi Ping did not know how wrong he had been! Xiao Youxue had been suppressing her affections. When it was suddenly released, she became the most gentle, most affectionate and most captivating person. Moreover, after she had killed Shui Yixian, the torments that she had been suppressing was also lifted.
So if Yi Ping thought that he could identify the yellow dressed maiden by her cold forbidding tone and mannerism, he would never find her! But of course, he would never know as he had never seen her face before…