Chapter 19: Poisoned Wine
Zhan Bai was shocked that the four maidens had started to undress themselves in front of a stranger. What more, they did it under his watchful eyes as they stripped to nothing! Except for an extremely short underwear and a red cloth in front of their chest, there were practically nothing else.
Zhan Bai eyes were wide-opened at this suddenly display and he was dazzled by it. He could not even mutter anything.
The four maidens acted as if it were a routine chore for them. They had already prepared the towels but when they saw that Zhan Bai still did not take off his clothes but stared at them, they laughed and their eyes looked at him, “If you want to shower, why did you not take off your clothes?”
Everyone had something that they ought to be ashamed for. As a man that stared at unknown girls undressing themselves in front of him, unless he was crazy, no one would have the guts to do it so broadly.
Even if you were a courageous hero, if you were to be in this situation, you too would feel awkward; even though Zhan Bai had once torn off his clothing in front of a girl. But that was caused due to the effects of the ‘Enchanting Lyrical Soul Devourer Flute Play’ by [The Soul Snatching Silver Flute] Zhang Shipeng, thus causing him to lose his conscious and self-awareness.
But now he was conscious and all too aware. So how could he muster the courage to take off his clothing in the presence of four partial naked maidens? Moreover, they were looking at him.
At the same time, from beyond the bathroom door, echoed a swallow voice, “The feast has been laid, please notified our honor guest that the feast can start!”
The four naked maidens began to laugh together, “He…has not yet begin to wash yet!” When they finished, they began to laugh in chorus for several moments.
“What is the matter? After ages, the four of you have not even begun to serve…” The person stopped when she barged in through the door. When she saw that Zhan Bai was still fully clothed, she stood stunned in the center of the bathroom.
But soon after she began to laugh merrily, “Look at the four of you! Even before you have helped our guest to undress, you have helped yourself to undress first! Really! All of you are not doing any work anymore!”
Zhan Bai saw a maid dressed like the other four entered the bathroom. She was about twenty, slightly older than the other four maidens, had an elegant bearing and was graceful. Even her dress and accessories were more exquisite than the others. He supposed she must be a maid of higher position.
What shocked him was that she began to untie and loosen his clothing immediately, which made him extremely awkward and embarrassed.
In his startled posture, he tried to dodge away when the maid tried to untie his clothing on his body. But this maid was clever; it was as though she had already guessed that Zhan Bai would attempt to cower away therefore, she twisted her fingers slightly and when he cowered away, his clothing would be loosened.
She giggled and said, “Honor guest, it is the first time you have visited the Jin Residence therefore you may be unused to being attended upon. Please allowed us to attend to your needs!” And she had already removed his outer garments.
Zhan Bai was even more startled. Never did he expect a maid from the Jin Residence would possess such remarkable martial finesse.
Even though he would have easily protest with his martial skills but he would never bring his heart to injure the maid even though the owner of this residence, Jin Jiu, was his hatred enemy.
Therefore, he could only brushed in embarrassment and told her off, “Maidens! All of you go out. I can do it on my own…”
But before he could finish, something dropped on the ground from his garments. It was the colorful book…
“Yo, what is this pornographic book that it will held your attention?!” She asked and bent down to pick.
Zhan Bai was alarmed and startled at the same time! He knew that he was now in his foe’s home. Here is a place of hidden dragons and crouching tigers, everywhere there was people of extreme talents and highly accomplished martial masters.
And this Soul Binding Book was the number one book that everyone in the martial fraternity would die to have! So how could he allow others to view it?
In his panicky state, he pushed the maiden away on her shoulders and she was knocked back five to six steps and into the pool.
And this maiden came out of the pool with her silk dress all wet and translucent.
The other four maidens clapped their hands and burst into merry laughter.
“Why are you four wrenches laughing at?” The maid stared a Zhan Bai with a vicious look. Since she was unable to scold Zhan Bai, she turned around to scold the young maids, “Hurry and lift me up, change the water and attend to our guest and help him to shower!”
The four naked maids seemed rather scared of her and they immediately stopped laughing and lifted her up from the pool. They drained the water from the pool and replaced it with fresh water.
Suddenly she said, “This guest is our Young Master’s honor guest. Pouring the “Jade Spring” is not respectful enough. Use that “Gentle Home Return” instead!”
When the four maids heard what she said, they were all startled for a moment but after seeing her staring at them in a strict manner, they bowed their heads low and walked away to press a button at the other side of the bathroom door. And a gush of fresh crystal clear water came forth from the vase of the half nude statue.
But Zhan Bai did not pay attention to her. He was distracted by her white flesh and figure as she was lifted up of the pool. She was beautiful enough but now she looked miserable.
Unable to bear to see her in this state, he apologized to her, “I really can’t have you looking at the book. In my hastiness, I was too rough. Maiden, please forgive me for being rude!”
She replied icily, “We are all meant to be servants of you Masters. If our service is not to expectations, we deserve to be scolded and beaten as you wish. We can only blame our parents for giving us a life of servitude!”
But Zhan Bai knew that she had her difficulties and she must have felt wronged.
Therefore he did not mind at all and with all sincerity said to her, “I am born in poverty since young and never have anyone waiting on me before. I would like to ask everyone to go out and I will bath on my own.”
She looked in suspicious for awhile before she replied, “Your wish is my command. Since guest is afraid that our services are not as good as expected, we have to leave then.”
Then she turned around and said to the four other maids, “Dress up and then we will go!”
The four maids did not hesitated against her orders and immediately dressed up.
Just before she left, she said to Zhan Bai, “I hope that sir would hurry up and shower so as not to allow our Young Master to wait for you at the feast!”
Zhan Bai bathed hurriedly and he did not even wear the new garments that the Jin Residence had prepared for him. He wore his old clothing and left the bathroom.
Once again, he saw the four maids; they were waiting for him outside the door. Therefore he followed them to the grand hall.
Even before Zhan Bai had entered the hall, he could hear the loud merry voices of the pugilists. When he paid heed to these voices, he noticed that they were discussing about him. One said, “Although I could not tell his martial history but this young rascal is really something. Who would expect that Liang You the [River Dragon] could not even take one hit from him!”
Another continued, “His strokes are too mixed. I wonder how someone so young like him would have mastered all that?”
Then there were a series of praises.
When Zhan Bai heard that someone was praising him, he couldn’t help but feel comforted and be gratified. But then suddenly, someone in a loud voice interrupted over, “Stop blowing his trumpet! He could not even hold against one stance from our Master Ba Tianhe the [Iron Wing Bird]!…”
Just then, Zhan Bai had entered the hall and tens of watchful glances were upon him. There was a glow in their eyes. Who would have expected that the messy young man with unkempt hair that they had known earlier would emerge now with such jaded and polished face? What was more, he radiated a heroic spirit and remarkable handsome to look upon!
Even though he was still in that old clothing but there was no mistaking who he was.
Everyone was enthralled by Zhan Bai unearthly bearing and was staring wide-eyed at him, especially Jin Caifeng the [Most beautiful Maiden in Jiangnan]. Her beautiful watery eyes were looking at him and blinking from time to time at him. There was a strange and mystified look in her eyes…
Young Master Qilin was already on his feet and he bowed with his hands to invite Zhan Bai to the feast as well as introduced him to everyone present.
Zhan Bai glanced around and he saw many pugilists. All of them looked spirited and their piercing eyes were extremely intimidating. He knew instantly they were all the top martial exponents of the fraternity.
He bowed to them with his hands and heard Young Master Qilin making introduction for him,“This is Senior Master Gongsun Chu the [Crouching Iron Back Dragon]!”
Zhan Bai saw that this old man mannerism was bold and powerful, his glances were like lightning. He knew that he was definitely an extremely powerful martial exponent. He bowed with his hands and said, “Old Senior Gongsun, I have long heard of your fame!”
[Crouching Iron Back Dragon] began to laugh aloud and his voice thundered the hall, “Good fellow, do not be too polite!”
“And this is Senior Master Ba Tianhe the [Iron Wing Bird]!” When Young Master Qilin mentioned his name, he was especially polite and he was extra respectful. “Just now, Brother Zhan you have met him and as the saying goes, “Only through fighting, does one makes acquaintances”! I hope in future, the two of them will be extra close to one another.” He laughed jokingly.
Zhan Bai could feel his face flushing red as he recalled feelings of humiliation and resentments. He suppressed his emotions and did not let it surface.
Instead, he blamed himself, “Oh Zhan Bai, Zhan Bai! You can’t even defeat a guest from their residency, how could you hope to seek vengeance on their Master?…”
Zhan Bai was upset emotionally and Young Master Qilin continued to make several introductions. The people that Young Master Qilin introduced, any one of them could rampage and startled the martial fraternity with their names.
But he did not pay heed and stood in stunned expressions. It was because his heart was boiling with raging, heart wrenching emotions. Therefore he even forgot to pay the due etiquette as required of him.
Suddenly, there was a deep hum and even though the voice was too loud but it was icy cold. It came from a handsome young man in black. “He did not possess true martial knowledge and skills, did not even know the proper etiquette of the pugilist fraternity, yet he dare to sit in high statute here!
The young handsome man was no more than twenty but judging from his bearing and that he could sit among the top exponents here, his martial foundation was definitely not weak!
It was because this handsome young man was Jin Jiu favorite disciple. Meng Ruping is his formal name. He had grown up in the Jin Residency since he was little. The love that Jin Jiu showered him was no less than his only son, Jin Xianglin. Moreover, he handed his most powerful martial knowledge to him. Even though he was young but he was already highly accomplished in martial skills. He was thoroughly versed in Jin Jiu’s secret projectile skill and could execute it to perfection. What was lacking was his internal power maturity. But among the young martial experts in the martial fraternity, he was already well known and he was given a nick, [Junior Money Jade Face]!
He was similar in age to both the Jin Brother and Sister. In fact, he was younger than Young Master Qilin by two years and older than Jin Caifeng by a year. He grown up with both siblings and he had developed feelings and affections for Jin Caifeng who was as beautiful as a fairy, therefore he had eyed her as his other pair.
Jin Caifeng was also affectionate towards him, often calling him, “Big Brother Ping” nonstop. But still he could not feel satisfied for he could tell that the affections that Jin Caifeng had showered him were that of a sisterly relationship and was that of a lover.
Moreover, as Jin Jiu’s youngest child, she was also the favorite of her father and was allowed to do freely whatever things she had wished. And she would travel to and forth among the people in the pugilist fraternity and was eager to recruit young and excellent fighters to their cause.
But in his eyes, it was a cause of jealousy and concern to him.
And today, he noticed that she was looking at Zhan Bai with interest. Even though all the young competitors in the past did not snatch the [Most beautiful Maiden in Jiangnan] from his hands, this down and crestfallen newcomer was giving him an uneasy feeling.
And when he saw that everyone was praising Zhan Bai, he could not help but said loudly earlier, “He could not even hold against one stance from our Master Ba Tianhe the [Iron Wing Bird]!”
Now that Zhan Bai was led to the most honored seat in the feast and he did not adhere to protocol and stepped down, this gave him an opportunity to use his hand sword to remove this needle once and for all!
Zhan Bai was already feeling ill at ease here, even though he did not show it. But when he heard those strongly worded sentences from Meng Ruping, he could not suppressed his ill feelings any longer.
He bowed with his hands and said, “It is not my intention to come to this esteemed residency. Since I am not welcome, I take my leave now!”
And he slipped his robes and turned around to leave…
But Young Master Qilin hurriedly attempted to stop him. He had a smile on his face as he tried to say, “Brother Zhan, is it because I am not sincere enough? Now that the feast is ready, no matter what, I would like to offer Brother Zhan a few cups of wine and water. Please allow me to fulfill my responsibilities as a host!”
Upon seeing that Young Master Qilin was sincere towards him and he was instantly sorry in his heart. He thought, “The [Ever Hospitable Xianglin] is sincere and this comes from his heart. It is not nothing that a hypocrite could be capable of!”
But still, he said, “Brother Jin, I’m really appreciative of you! But really, I have important matters to attend to. Allow me to pay you a visit in the future!” And he continued to walk away.
But even before Young Master Qilin could speak, Meng Ruping exclaimed coldly, “If you want to leave, please leave. Why make so many fake formalities! Do you think the Jin Residence would miss one esteem guest like you?”
“Senior protégé brother!” Jin Caifeng could not resist speaking. “What are you trying to do? My brother is trying to retain our guest, yet you are driving our guest away!”
Young Master Qilin too stared at Meng Ruping for a second before he pulled Zhan Bai with all sincerity and said, “My younger protégé brother is hot tempered by nature and therefore rude. Please do forgive him for that! Brother Zhan, even if you have urgent matters to attend to, please do drink a cup or two of drinks before you leave. Or else, I would think that Brother Zhan is looking down on me, Xianglin!”
Even though Zhan Bai wanted to leave but he could not find the heart to say so. Moreover by now, several senior martial masters had also spoken up for him to stay. But he did reply just yet.
[Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was a famous drunkard. When he saw that the wine was not about to be serve and he could not lay his hands onto it, he was getting impatience, “A young man shouldn’t be such a puss! It is not straightforward at all! Are you worried that this feast is actually a Hongmen Banquet (A banquet that is setup with the aim of murdering the guest) and that the wine is poisoned? Therefore you did not dare to drink from it!”
Zhan Bai was infuriated by him and he replied, “Old Senior Gongsun meant to say that I am given no choice but to drink three cups. But I must make it very clear. After drinking three cups, I will immediately leave. I don’t want anyone to laugh and think that I, Zhan Bai is someone that is afraid to die and is a coward!”
When he had finished, he lifted the wine cup and raised his hands to everyone, “Come on everyone! As a junior before everyone, I respectfully offered all the seniors a toast!” And he gulped the drink.
Jin Caifeng giggled and said, “Am I considered to be an old senior too?” With that, she too drank a cup.
Zhan Bai flushed with redness. When he had taken a drink, he felt as though his stomach was toasting in flames. He felt a warm and burning sensation rippling inside. He suddenly had a thought, “Is this wine really spiked with a powerful poison?”
But he suddenly thought that it was highly impossible. Young Master Qilin did not know of his true identity and he did not have reason to kill him. Moreover, as one of the Four Young Masters of the Martial Fraternity and in the presence of many top notch fighters, would he still use such a despicable method?
When he came to this and under the roars and praises from the crowd, once again, he lifted a second cup and said, “I, Zhan Bai, is still a greenhorn and did not display proper etiquette just now. The first cup is for the seniors. The second cup is for those of my seniority!”
Jin Caifeng smiled delicately and said lovingly, “Now, it is closer to the truth!” When the eyes of this [Most Beautiful Maiden in Jiangnan] looked at Zhan Bai, there were a million affections in her expressions.
However, Zhan Bai did not notice it and continued to gulpe the second drink down hastily.
But it was noticed by Meng Ruping and he was filled with hatred for Zhan Bai. He really would want to beat him to a pulp.
How could Zhan Bai have known that Jin Caifeng’s million affectionate eyes would ignite upon him a fire of jealousy?
But after drinking this second cup, Zhan Bai could feel like he was burning on fire and throughout his five organs. An indescribable feeling of rush and lusts began to arouse in him….
But Zhan Bai thought that this Young Master would never in the presence of everyone attempted to secretly plot against him, therefore he did not mind at all. It must be because he tried to drink wine on an empty stomach…
But Jin Caifeng had already seen that something was not wrong here. She too, had drunk two cups and knew that these wine was the family best graded “Nǚ’érHóng” that was stored in the residency. The alcohol was not strong. Even if Zhan Bai were to drink eight to ten cups, it would not matter. So why did he just drink two small cups, his face would turn instantly as red as a red cloth? Moreover his eyes were emitting a strange glow and his body was unstable now.
“Ayah…” Even before she could ask for the reason, Zhan Bai had already lifted the third cup up and gulped it down his throat. She was left alarmed and frightened.
“Excellent wine!” Zhan Bai exclaimed. His body was now like charcoal and his fever caused him to be in a semi-dazed condition.
He had already felt something was not right here and he felt pain all over. Immediately, he knew he had fallen into a trap. Who would expect that Young Master Qilin, a person of such commanding high status in the martial fraternity would use such a despicable underhand undertaking on him?
When he mused over that he had fallen alone into his enemy’s hands and the results were disastrous! — He had died, his family line was also cut off, he could not avenge for his father, he could not help but scolded in resentment and rage, “What excellent wine from the Jin Residence! Three cups are enough to break the intestines and to kill! What a pity that…”
Before he could finished, he had flipped over, collapsed and lost consciousness!…