Chapter 30: A Bitter Lie
Yi Ping had suddenly dropped the wine flask that he was holding. His hand had suddenly trembled all of a sudden. He thought, “Is that an omen?”
Qiu Wufeng said to Yi Ping, “Brother, you must be drunk now.”
Yi Ping bitterly said, “I wish I am drunk and never wake up.”
It was because he could not believe that Xiao Youxue was the mysterious yellow dressed maiden that had killed his wife. He could not believe that a quiet maiden like her would have the tenacity to travel alone to the Heavenly Mountains with that purpose alone.
He realized that he had known too little of her past even though they had spent three months together, a period that was even longer than Shui Yixian and Ji Lingfeng.
Why was that when she had departed, his heart had been so sorrowful? He had the exact feelings when Ji Lingfeng had departed.
Had he fallen for Xiao Youxue?
He mused, “Yi Ping, Yi Ping. You are either such a rascal or a sentimental person. How could you like a maiden after another maiden? If you have affection for Lingfeng, why are you longing after Youxue? Youxue is the one that killed my wife. You should hate her…I don’t want ever to see her again!”
Qiu Wufeng looked at Gongsun Jing as he said, “Yi Ping I can understand but you…”
Gongsun Jing was drinking heavily too. What was he thinking? Like Yi Ping, he was also musing, “Yunzi has a hand in my father’s death too. Why is that I am unable to forget her? If we are normal friends, that would be more bearable but I see her every day. If she won’t come back anymore, should I be glad? Zuo Tianyi is now your brother and it is obvious that he likes Yunzi. Gongsun Jing, Gongsun Jing, don’t forget you are now a down and out person.”
Qiu Wufeng shook his head as he said, “It seems that both of you are not even drinking to appreciate wines but are drowning your sorrows.”
All of a sudden, he began to pick a flask of wine and poured it into his mouth.
Gongsun Jing asked, “What comes after you?”
Qiu Wufeng said wryly, “If I am the only somber person around, then I be the one who has to pawn my precious sword to pay for the bills.”
Gongsun Jing said, “Who would want your scrap metal?”
All of a sudden, Yi Ping said. “Our enemies are here.”
All of a sudden, the inn was crowded with more than thirty swordsmen as they charged up the chairs and barged through their private room! Leading the charge was Long Wudi, the Clan Chief of the Six Rivers!
Yi Ping, Gongsun Jing and Qiu Wufeng had recognized him immediately.
Long Wudi said, “What have we here? It seems that the three most wanted men in the fraternity will come to my place.”
Gongsun Jing said, “Surely you are not thinking of turning us in for the bounty?”
Long Wudi said, “Even though I may not want to but the Honor Manor is influential. We are just a small martial clan in the fraternity. I hope that the three of you will come with me quietly or don’t blame me for being merciless!”
Gongsun Jing said coldly, “So these men are your martial clan best fighters?”
Long Wudi said, “Indeed. In this confine space, don’t blame our swords for being blind and merciless! You have better surrender. I will treat you respectfully on behalf of your late father.”
Gongsun Jing said, “As soon as my father is gone, all of you have revolted. Have you forgotten that I am still the Master of the Gongsun Martial Clan?”
Long Wudi spat, “I am talking to you in a nice manner and yet you do not appreciate it. The Gongsun Martial Clan is long history. You are the only survivor now!”
Gongsun Jing was startled, “The Gongsun Martial Clan is no more?”
Long Wudi said, “As soon as Gongsun Bai was dead, the enemies of Gongsun Bai began to attack the Gongsun Martial Clan and there were no survivors.”
Gongsun Jing was stunned. He began to tremble as he said, “Gu Tianle, Gu Tianle, how vicious are you! First you framed me. Next you redeployed the best fighters of the Honor Manor away or else given the strength of the Gongsun Martial Clan, it is impossible for it to be demolished just like that…”
Qiu Wufeng said coolly, “Surely you have heard of my renown as the Windless Swordsman. If you don’t want to die tonight, you have better leave. I don’t want to dirty my hands!”
Long Wudi laughed aloud, “Do you think we be so foolish? Ever since you have entered this city, we have been monitoring your movements. It is a little tricky to attack you while Zuo Tianyi is still around. We didn’t want to make enemies of the Infinity Sword Clan yet. But I have sent a messenger to the Honor Manor that Zuo Tianyi is in cahoots with you.”
Qiu Wufeng said, “The three of us are more than enough to send you all to hell.”
Long Wudi laughed, “Don’t be too sure. The last few flasks of wines that you have been drinking from contain a slow reacting poison. If you were to exercise your internal strength, the poison will immediately attack your heart, hastening your death!”
Gongsun Jing intercepted, “You….are so despicable!”
Yi Ping looked at Long Wudi and gulped another flask of wine!
Long Wudi looked at Yi Ping and stammered, “You…”
Yi Ping patted Qiu Wufeng and Gongsun Jing on their shoulders as he got up with unsteady steps. Even though, it appeared that he was using their shoulders as a support, it was actually more than meet the eyes!
Qiu Wufeng and Gongsun Jing could feel a strong soothing internal strength flowing through their body as it rejuvenates them. They could feel the enormous stress of the poison effect lifting away and dissolving in their bodies. Indeed, Yi Ping had used the Aspire Invocations internal strength to neutralize all the poisons into nothingness!
The depth of Yi Ping’s internal strength astonished even Qiu Wufeng and Gongsun Jing!
Long Wudi smiled, “Now, if you all surrender now, it will save you unnecessary pain and is also good for me. After all, if you are alive when I send you to the Honor Manor, your bounties will worth even more.”
“What if I say, they should stay as they are while your men and you should be the one that scram from here?”
Everyone was startled because the enchanting sweet voice did not come from this room!
Long Wudi shouted, “Who is that?”
Yi Ping was stunned. It was because this voice was so familiar even though he had not heard it for a long time…
A maiden of an extraordinary beauty passed through the window and into the middle of the room. Her movements were so graceful and her steps were so light that everyone was startled at her extraordinary display of her lightness swiftness skill!
In just a quick movement, she was already standing serenely in the middle of the room as she looked at everyone with a smile.
When she looked at everyone with a smile, everyone else was thinking of the same time. “Is she looking at me intentional? Can it be that she takes a liking to me?”
Everyone begun to gasped at this heavenly maiden in white that had just appeared. She was stroking her long hair as she said, “Do I need to repeat myself?”
Qiu Wufeng, Gongsun Jing and Long Wudi recognized her immediately as the maiden that had barged into the Honor Manor with Yi Ping!
Yi Ping looked at her with stunned expression as he muttered, “Lingfeng…it is really you. Why are you here?”
Ji Lingfeng sighed softly, “Do I need to explain to you?” She began to pour the wine from a flask to a cup.
Yi Ping quickly gasped out, “Lingfeng, that is poisonous. Don’t drink it!”
But before Yi Ping could take a step forward, she had already drunk from the cup as she said, “Good wine. Too bad, it is tainted with the unsavory taste of poison.”
She said to Long Wudi, “Since you are the one that adds the poison into the wines, why don’t you taste it too if it is savory? Or else you may think I am lying to you.”
Long Wudi smiled bitterly, “No need. I believe it.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled, “If even you will not drink it, do you think the three of them will really drink it? Of course, unless they are all a bunch of drunkards.”
Yi Ping smiled bitterly as he thought, “She has not changed at all after so many months. She is scolding us indirectly as drunkards.”
Gongsun Jing and Qiu Wufeng were guilty-stricken. With their experiences, they should have detected that the wines had been tampered with.
Ji Lingfeng said, “If they are not idiots, I am an idiot? If I am not an idiot, why should I drink your tampered wine?”
Long Wudi began to hesitate and had doubts as he thought, “The wines have already been switched? That is impossible…”
Ji Lingfeng smiled at Gongsun Jing and Qiu Wufeng as she said sarcastically, “So what do you think of the feeling of being a fugitive wanted by the majority of the orthodox fraternity?”
Gongsun Jing said coolly, “It isn’t a good feeling after all.”
Qiu Wufeng smiled bitterly, “You never know if your enemies would appear at any time, even your food and drinks can be poisoned at any time. It is not pleasure at all.”
Yi Ping really could not resist withholding anymore as he interrupted, “Lingfeng, why are you here?”
Ji Lingfeng glanced mysteriously at him as she said, “Why? You are suddenly so concern about? I am here to look for my husband of course!”
Many in the room were disappointed at this news and wondered who her husband was.
Yi Ping was stunned as he took a step backward as his entire expressions had changed!
After quickly regaining his composure, he quickly said. “You are married?! Congrats then…”
Ji Lingfeng smiled at him as she said, “You don’t sound and look at all pleased?”
Yi Ping said with stoned expressions, “Of course I am happy for you…”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Really? But why is that you don’t sound and look too happy?”
Yi Ping replied gloomily, “I am always like this. Surely you know.”
Ji Lingfeng said, “I really do not know. I am not the worm in your stomach, how should I know? Don’t you want to know who my new husband is?”
Yi Ping said, “You can tell us if you want.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled mysteriously, “He is young and handsome. He knows that I am in trouble and have not forgotten about me. He comes all the way to a distant and forsaken place just to look for me. If he’s not my husband-to-be, who is he then?”
Yi Ping asked, “Who?”
Ji Lingfeng gave him a gentle kick all of a sudden as she flushes, “Why are you so stupid? He is standing in front of me of course!”
Yi Ping’s expressions lit up as he said, “Who…?”
Ji Lingfeng gave him another small kick and tried to slap him but he avoided it.
They seemed to have forgotten that there were others in this room and their little affections were enviable!
Long Wudi coughed and interrupted, “You are the Holy Maiden of the Holy Hex Sect? Almost the entire orthodox clans are attacking the Holy Hex Sect now and you dare to appear here? You are really bold. Good, I am so lucky to take all four of you in one fell scoop!”
Ji Lingfeng said coldly all of a sudden, “Since you know that I am the Holy Maiden of the Holy Hex Sect, surely you must have heard of our ‘Consecrated Meteor Shower’ and ‘Meteor Rain Needles’ secret projectile skills. If I am not confident, would I be in this room?”
As her eyes swept from one person to another, she added. “This is a confined room. Do you think my secret projectiles would be faster or your swords would be swifter? Are you willing to take a bet? And how do you know that I am not alone?”
Long Wudi turned ashen immediately. It was because she was right. At this point blank distance, it was almost impossible for them to dodge the ‘Consecrated Meteor Shower’, a secret projectile technique that was renowned for launching more than one hundred secret projectiles!
Quite a few of the swordsmen and even Long Wudi was looking at the closest exit!
Ji Lingfeng words had already shaken their fighting spirit!
Ji Lingfeng was already saying to Yi Ping, Qiu Wufeng and Gongsun Jing, “Stand behind me.”
Yi Ping said, “There is no need for you to be involved. The three of us are more than enough…”
Long Wudi sighed, “Even though it appears that we have the superior numbers but I have seen this Yi Ping’s skills in the Honor Manor and the Heavenly Mountains. Moreover there is Young Master Qiu and Young Master Gongsun Jing too. Their martial skills are among the best in the fraternity. As long as they are not poisoned, this attack is doomed to fail. From the looks of it, none of them looked as though they are poisoned…how is it possible? But if I were to retreat now, I will lose a lot of honor and face. If the Holy Maiden is here, then surely there must be clan protégés of the Holy Hex Sect nearby too…”
Ji Lingfeng said, “If you back off now, I will ensure that you can continue to carry on your daily business in this city.”
She softened her tone, “I know that the Six Rivers Clan is a neutral clan that did not go on the westward expedition with the Honor Manor or else you won’t be here. Even though this is not the Western Fraternity yet, the Holy Hex Sect has a base here. Because we know that your clan had not officially joined the Honor Manor yet but if you were to make an enemy of the Holy Hex Sect today, we will make sure you are in our enemy list and your business will be soured immediately. Surely you have heard of what happened to the Belle Clan that was in this city that had joined hands with the Honor Manor. So choose what you want. Business or destruction.”
Long Wudi bowed his hands respectfully as he said, “Holy Maiden, we will take our leave and we will also give our promise that we will not harass them while they are still here.”
He then shouted, “Let’s go!”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Hold!”
Long Wudi turned ashen as he asked, “Is there anything else?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Since these gentlemen are guests in your city and is their first time here, do you think that you should at least buy the tabs for them?”
Long Wudi looked at the private room and the feast on the table. He sighed weakly and put down three silvers on the table.
Three silvers were more than enough.
Ji Lingfeng said coolly, “That is very generous of you. You can go now.”
Long Wudi and his men quickly exited the room and the inn!
Qiu Wufeng said wryly, “So we solve our tabs.”
Gongsun Jing said, “I didn’t expect that you are really the Holy Maiden of the Holy Hex Sect. How is that you know that we have no money?”
Ji Lingfeng smiled, “I didn’t want to know but the three of you were incessantly talking about it.”
Yi Ping asked, “You are here for some time?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Not really. I just arrive too.”
Yi Ping said, “You haven’t really tell me yet, why are you in this place? You are supposed to be in the Western Fraternity now.”
Ji Lingfeng smiled sweetly, “I have told you. I am here to look for my husband.”
Yi Ping said, “You can still joke about this. Why are you here in this place?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “I am here to make contacts with a branch of my clan here to strengthen the resolve of fighting against the orthodox clans and to find out more information of the other clans activities. I didn’t expect to find you here too. Do you know that the Honor Manor and the Virtuous Palace have formed an alliance already?”
Gongsun Jing, Qiu Wufeng and Yi Ping were stunned.
Yi Ping said, “Not counting the dozens of martial clans under the banner of the Honor Manor, just the Virtuous Palace alone is a big headache. Just how did Gu Tianle persuade the Virtuous Palace to join him for the westward expedition?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Do you think that it is somewhat overkilling? Even though the Holy Hex Sect is the number one unorthodox clan in recent years, we are still unable to compete headlong with the Honor Manor and the various major orthodox clans.”
Gongsun Jing asked, “Meaning?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Someone else must have instigated him or forced him to do so. Someone powerful and we don’t know who he is yet that can even persuade the wily Xiao Shuai to join him.”
Yi Ping was startled, “I wonder who he is…”
Qiu Wufeng said, “I am afraid his aim isn’t about destroying the Holy Hex Sect but to dominate the entire martial fraternity!”
Gongsun Jing said, “Even though my late father wants to destroy the Holy Hex Sect a long time ago, he didn’t want to do so yet because such a clash would bring cause a double fatalities and may give his enemies an opportunity to cause havoc or to undermine his strength.”
Ji Lingfeng said, “I am afraid his real target is the Celestial Palace.”
Yi Ping was startled, “The Celestial Palace?! It does exist?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “Of course it does. It is just that no one has ever survived a trip there. Anyway, we are all just speculating.”
She paused for a while before she asked, “Where is Maiden Xiao Youxue? Have you finally found out that she isn’t a deaf and mute person?”
Yi Ping was suddenly unhappy, “You already know that she is not a deaf and mute person yet you play such a prank on me before you left. Don’t ever mention her again.”
Ji Lingfeng was surprised as she continued to smile gleefully, “Why can’t I mention her? Is it because you just got rejected by her that you cannot get over it?”
Yi Ping was solemn as he said gravely, “Do you know that she is the one that has killed my wife?”
Ji Lingfeng said calmly, “So what?”
Yi Ping was stunned at her reply as he said slowly, “You…you already know?!”
Ji Lingfeng said coolly, “I have already said, so what.”
Yi Ping was really upset at her reply as he said angrily, “I treat you as a friend. You have already known and did not tell me. And you can even tell me so what?!”
Ji Lingfeng blinked at Yi Ping as she repeated again, “So what?”
Yi Ping said, “She is my wife’s killer and you know very well, I have been looking for her all this time!”
Ji Lingfeng said, “So what if you know if she is the one that you are looking for? Have you forgotten that she is the one that have saved your life that day? Have you ever asks her what difficulties she has and why did she have to do it? So what if you know who she is? Will you have the heart to kill her? If she really treats you as an enemy, she would have killed you and not saved you!”
All of a sudden, Yi Ping was jolted.
He had suddenly remembered her first encounter with her. She was the very first maiden that he had ever met on the Heavenly Mountains and she had even warned him not to go up there. If he had not disregarded her advice, maybe they would not be foes now.
He had also remembered how he was badly injured after the battle at the Honor Manor with Gu Tianle and it was actually Xiao Youxue who had saved him. She had also saved him from the giant Thousand Year Icy Fish and the wild boar attack. She had also almost got herself killed while trying to fight Xiao Yuanjia while with him…
All of a sudden, he realized how terribly wrong he had been as he muttered, “Youxue, Youxue, I shouldn’t have scolded you. I should at least listen to what you have to say first…I am such a heartless person…”
Ji Lingfeng softened her alluring voice, “The reason why I did not tell you is because I owe my life to Xiao Youxue too and I have not yet repaid her this heavy debt. You are a person that knows how to differentiate feuds and debts. So what if Youxue is here now? What will you do?”
Yi Ping muttered, “I do not know. I do not know…”
Ji Lingfeng said to him, “You don’t even dare to look at me in the eyes since earlier. That is so unlike you in the past. Have you fallen in love with another maiden?”
Yi Ping was startled by her questioning. He looked panicky at Gongsun Jing and Qiu Wufeng who had kept silent.
While traveling together, everyone could tell that Xiao Youxue was always cold towards all the others except for Ding Yunzi and Yi Ping. Even Lie Qing, who always chatted with her were often left in the cold.
Indeed, he was guilty and that was why he dared not look into Ji Lingfeng’s eyes. It was because over the past several months, he had indeed developed affections for Xiao Youxue.
Ji Lingfeng said, “I…do you think that I am a person that can get jealous easily? If you are with Xiao Youxue, I can still accept it but not the others. She has after all, saved my life. The right thing for you to do now is to find her back and apologize to her. Not just a simple sorry, you have to bow down on your knees and begged her for forgiveness.”
Actually Yi Ping had already known that Xiao Youxue had taken a liking for him but he dare not reciprocate her affections. How could he not known? He was not entirely stupid but he tried to avoid her whenever he could because he could not forget Ji Lingfeng either.
He said to himself, “Sometimes, it is better for feelings to be buried inside or else you only be hurting her more. Eventually she will get over it and find a more suitable match.” Even though that was what he had in mind but that was not what his heart was really feeling.
Finally he had made a decision. Yi Ping regained his spirits again as he said with conviction, “I am going to look for Youxue now.”
“You don’t have to look for her anymore.”
Yi Ping was startled as he saw Ding Yunzi walking into the private room. From her expressions, she looked terribly tired.
Yi Ping went to her, “What happens?”
Ji Lingfeng was startled for she had recognized Ding Yunzi as the super exponent from the Virtuous Palace and she also had an annoying look on her face as she thought, “Yi Ping, Yi Ping, it seems that that you are attracting unwanted attention. I should really help you to chase them all away.”
She was even more startled when she saw Zuo Tianyi and Nangong Le walking into the private room.
Nangong Le immediately recognized her as he said, “Maiden Lingfeng! What a pleasant surprise. You are here?”
Ji Lingfeng just smiled weakly.
All of a sudden, Yi Ping saw Shui Yujian and Shui Meijian holding Lie Qing into the room. He was stunned as he said, “Yu’Er and Mei’Er, why are you here?”
All of a sudden, Shui Yujian and Shui Meijian drew their long precious swords when they saw Ji Lingfeng as they gasped together, “It is you!”
Shui Yujian said to Ji Lingfeng, “How vicious are you! You…”
Yi Ping was startled as he looked at Ji Lingfeng, “What did you do?”
Ji Lingfeng said, “I merely teach them a little lesson. They are the ones that had attacked me first that day.”
She pointed at Shui Yujian, Shui Meijian and Lie Qing as she said. “Just who are they?”
But Yi Ping did not seem to hear as he reached out for Lie Qing, “Qing’Er, are you alright? Who is the one that has injured you into this state?!”
Lie Qing looked softly into his eyes as she smiled faintly, “I’m really alright. Don’t you worry about me, alright?”
Ji Lingfeng nearly fainted from anger. Shui Meijian, Shui Yujian, Lie Qing and Ding Yunzi were all extraordinary beauties, who were all alluring and enchanting in their own ways. Together, they were such a moving sight. But seeing them now was like seeing them as rivals to be eliminated or else it would be so hard to quell her anger!
Lie Qing looked at Ji Lingfeng, “Who are you?”
Ji Lingfeng was indignant as she said, “I am the one that should be asking you who are you. You are like a temptress with your vixen looks. I don’t like you at all.”
Yi Ping was stunned at what she had just said so he quickly said, “They are all my friends. You are all my friends.”
Lie Qing smiled weakly as she answered coldly, “Right. I am a temptress. How do you know? I am going to steal your Yi Ping. So what? I don’t need you to like me at all.”
Yi Ping ignored them all as he turned to Ding Yunzi and asked, “Yunzi, where is Youxue?”
Ding Yunzi suppressed her tears as she said slowly, “She is not coming back anymore.”
Yi Ping was startled, “Quickly, let’s go and find her again. I…I don’t mean what I say…”
Ding Yunzi said coldly, “You have already said that you don’t ever wish to see her again and she thinks the same too. She has just one last message for you.”
Yi Ping was overcome with emotions as he thought, “She don’t ever want to see me again? Maybe that is not a bad thing after all…”
He asked, “What is her message?”
Ding Yunzi said coldly, “She hates you. The next time, she sees you she will surely kill you with her own hands. So don’t ever look for her ever again if you value your life.”
Ji Lingfeng was startled as she thought, “Xiao Youxue really says that?”
Yi Ping turned ashen immediately as he fell onto the chair as he muttered, “She really hates me so much? I should be the one that hates her but do I?”
Shui Meijian turned around discreetly as she really could not hold back her tears anymore while Shui Yujian did not dare to look into Yi Ping’s eyes.
Lie Qing was trembling as though she wanted to say something.
Yi Ping did not notice that everyone had a grim expression. Even Ji Lingfeng, Gongsun Jing and Qiu Wufeng had sensed something was amiss in the atmosphere.