Chapter 20: The Pleading Phoenix
Time passed and for how long, Zhan Bai did not know when he had awakened. When he opened his eyes, he found himself lying on a bed.
Even though the bed was not as serene as Young Master Lingfeng’s room but its grandeur surpassed it.
He felt his throat dry and husky and his internal organs were still burning. He unwittingly said, “Water…”
A young boy with outstanding bearing and an extremely beautiful little girl was happy that Zhan Bai had awakened. They are none other than Mingming and Lanlan.
They turned around and ran out, all the while yelling, “Aunt! Aunt! He has awakened!”
And a beautiful person in mild dress entered the room. She was none other than Jin Caifeng, the [Most Beautiful Maiden in Jiangnan].
Today, she worn simply with a green ribbon on top, her long hair breezed along her. She did not have a single accessory on her and there was not a trace of cosmetics on her. But all the more, it displayed her outstanding beauty.
Indeed, her divine fragrance beauty was unrivaled! No wonder she was regarded as Jiangnan most beautiful maiden! There was a common saying, that a real beauty had no need for cosmetics and beautiful accessories. It was all too true.
When she entered the room, she looked at Zhan Bai with her wide eyes. Her watery autumn eyes were soft and mysterious. Her teeth was lustrous when she smiled at him.
When he set sight on the ever beautiful Jin Caifeng, he could not helped praising her in his heart, “So beautiful!…”
Her smiles were like a hundred flowers blossoming and her voice like golden oriole as she said, “Alas, finally you have regained conscious! Xiaohong, hurry and serve the tea!”
Zhan Bai was really thirsty and he was feeling unbearable but even before he could say it, she knew what he needed.
That Xiaohong, was the maid that he had unwittingly pushed into the pool because he had thought she wanted to snatch his secret soul binding manual! But for now, he had no other concerns except to quench his thirst first.
He snatched the cup and finished it immediately but after drinking, he was still feeling very thirsty so he used his tongue to lick the cup…
Jin Caifeng laughed, “I guess that you must be really thirsty. Xiaohong, serve him another cup!”
She was extremely beautiful, her intellect was also in the extreme. What others were thinking, she would have thought of. It was like, there was no need to say it out for her…
Even before Xiaohong could turn her body, Mingming and Lanlan had barged in and they were shouting, “Come on! Bring the tea!” They had brought a hot pot of tea.
It caused Xiaohong to be panicky and she angrily said, “Alas! My young ancestors! It is not of consequences to smash the teapot but if it were to scald your legs, it would not be funny anymore!”
Mingming artfully said, “Sister Hong, don’t you look down on others! Even if I let the pot slipped out of my hands, the water will not splash out!”
When Mingming had said that, he started to toss the pot towards Xiaohong.
“Alas!” Xiaohong’s expression underwent a great change. If it were an incoming secret projectile, she would have used her palm to knock it down or dodged it. But this teapot was from the imperial palace and was extremely precious. In fact, it was bestowed by the present Emperor and now Mingming had tossed it.
If she did not catch it well, not only would her fingers be scalded, the teapot would be broken as well! Even though her martial finesse was excellent in level but still, she was startled enough to cry out.
Just when Xiaohong was spreading her hands and was at a loss how to salvage the situation, Jin Caifeng was smiling and scolding at the same time, “Mingming! You are so naughty!”
As she said, she waved and the windforce from her palms lifted the teapot in the air by three feet and with the handle facing towards Xiaohong.
Xiaohong managed to catch the teapot by the purple gold handle. Not a drop of tea spilled over but she was so startled that she burst into cold sweat.
Zhan Bai lamented on the bed after watching the scene. These women and weaker sex had such martial abilities. Indeed, he must not underestimate them.
Zhan Bai finished the tea served by Xiaohong. He seemed to feel better but still, his limbs felt soft and lifeless.
Just then, four maids in green entered in chorus into the room. One of the maids bowed and respectfully said to Jin Caifeng, “Regards to Mistress, Young Master is here!”
“Amazing! His news is so well-informed indeed!”
Even before she had finished, Young Master Qilin had marched in followed by [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] and the [Iron Wing Bird].
“Brother Zhan, you have awakened!” When Young Master Qilin marched in, he went directly to the side of Zhan Bai’s bed and he appeared to be extremely concerned about him.
But Zhan Bai purposely avoided him and looked instead at the ceiling, ignoring him completely.
However, Young Master Qilin did not seem to mind this haughty attitude from him and he continued to express warmly, “Brother Zhan you have mistakenly bath with the “Frosty Spring water’ and the frost from the water obstruct all your vital channels. The fiery effects of the three cups of wine forcefully pushed through your channels therefore you temporary lose consciousness. But do not panic, even though your muscle and tendons have been affected and temporary is unable to move but I do have the antidote to remove the frost poison. In three days, you will recover. And…”
But Zhan Bai interrupted and replied coldly, “It is too much of a coincidence!”
Zhan Bai was extremely sarcastic when he said that. Even an unflustered person like Young Master Qilin was taken aback. But he immediately he regained his composure to said, “No wonder Brother Zhan is suspicious. And it also so coincidence that [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] had told a bad joke at the same time. This caused Brother Zhan to think that the wine had been poisoned and you had collapsed on the spot in the company of everyone. Not only me, but I Xianglin, was also fooled. I had heard from Xiaohong that Brother Zhan had mentioned that you was not used to being attended to, therefore you went on your accord to release the bath water yourself. I guessed that you must have released the wrong one and misunderstood the frost spring water for the warm one. That was why the incident happened!”
And when Young Master Qilin had finished, he laughed but he was also apologetic.
Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] laughed as well, “But I am really impressed with you, young yellow! You actually have the courage to face death with equanimity! Impressive! Impressive!”
And this hunchback old man who was so renowned in the martial fraternity for his fighting skills burst into a thunderous laughter and gave Zhan Bai a thumb up.
However, Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] commented coldly, “You don’t have to be so suspicious. Young Master Qilin is a true wuxia hero. Not only is he respectful to others, he is also renowned throughout the entire fraternity. If he really wanted to create trouble for you, he need not have poisoned the wine. This is all a coincidence and you have no choice but to believed it as the truth!”
Both the [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] and the [Iron Wing Bird] was known as the Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence. Their status in the Jin Residence was highly exalted and everyone in the pugilist fraternity knew of that too. Since both of them had believed that it was a coincidence, surely there wasn’t a plot?
But still Zhan Bai refused to believe and icily replied, “It is true that I, Zhan Bai did not like to be attended upon. But the water from the bathroom is not released by me. That is the truth! I believed that both Old Seniors have always been high esteemed and words from your mouths are the golden truth. Moreover, The Jin Young Master is a true gentleman and he would not secretly plot to harm others. So then to say, I Zhan Bai, must have suffered a stroke on my own!? I would faint on my own then! Or is it because I can’t drink at all and three cups of wine is enough to drunk me?”
Even though Zhan Bai did not fault any but everyone would hear the contempt in his words.
One must imagine this. A person such as Young Master Qilin had such a high standing in the martial fraternity and allowed Zhan Bai to sullen his reputation and treat in contempt?
Even Jin Caifeng’s expressions had changed.
The [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] was even more aroused to anger. And their faces were seething with rage and at anytime, they would fly into a rage…
Young Master Qilin was surprising composed and he did not seem to have the intention to revile Zhan Bai. Instead, he turned his head around to Xiaohong and told her, “Lying to your Master, disrespect to our guest and by displaying arrogance, do you know you have committed a unforgivable mistake. What are you waiting for?
Xiaohong understood immediately and her face turned ashen. She was momentum stunned for awhile before she turned around and left the room without saying a word. Suddenly there was a loud knocking sound, similar to something crashing into a hard object that came from the outside.
From the sound, it had dawned upon Zhan Bai what had happened. He could not tell feeling stunned and he exclaimed to himself in a startled revelation, “Just because Young Master Qilin softly had said a few words, she would actually choose to commit suicide? The clan laws of the Jin Residence is really strict and severe!…”
While Zhan Bai was shocked by it but no one in the Jin Residence felt any remorse or moved by it. It was as though nothing had happened!
Young Master Qilin rose up to say, “Brother Zhan, in three days, I assured you that you would recover. Please recuperate and rest well!” When he had finished, he left with the [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] and the four maids without even turning his head back.
Mingming and lanlan had already gone out to play without anyone noticing.
Now only Zhan Bai and Jin Caifeng was left in the bedroom since everyone had left.
Jin Caifeng looked at Zhan Bai and said melancholy, “What my brother did, is considered flattering to others. But instead, you are irked by it!”
“Please be more specific!” He said.
Originally, Zhan Bai had already nursed the Jins. Now that he had seen such a cruel chapter in their lives, his hatred for them deepened. Therefore, his tone and mannerism was extremely icy and cold towards this Jiangnan beauty.
“Even though Xiaohong is just a maid, her position is not low at all. Because on purpose, she is negligent towards the guest therefore my brother bestowed death upon her. In most pugilist clans, isn’t this considered to be a reward already? In order for my brother to win the friendship and fellowship of the people, it is considered to be justified. Only then would they faithfully render their services to our family. But you are different…”
Jin Caifeng was about to go on when Zhan Bai interrupted her with a cold laugh, “I am not a cold blooded person. I would never use another person’s life so as to win the fellowship of the pugilists in the fraternity. Your brother wishes to use the life of another to win over my fellowship so that I would feel grateful and repay him for his special favor. But I can tell you this: Dream on! I feel especially irked by it.”
Jin Caifeng answered, “But my brother did this in a fair manner and address it according to the circumstances. He has no intention to buy your fellowship on purpose. Xiaohong lied to her lord and cannot be forgiven. Not only is she negligent to our guest, she even plotted against our guest. It is considered to be disrespectful. Since she is disloyal and disloyal and her veil is exposed, she has no face to carry on. Since she is willing to die as a penance for her deeds to purge her name, it is considered a good way for penance. There is nothing wrong with it and it is not my brother blame as well. Why did you want to view my brother with such hatred? Unless you have another reason for that or else it is hard to explain!”
The way Jin Caifeng analyzed things was way too uncomfortable for Zhan Bai. Therefore he did not want to talk too much with her and feared that even before he could unravel the opposition first, his own purpose would be discovered first. It would bring great inconvenient to his vengeance plan in the future.
But suddenly he was startled by a thought that dawned suddenly upon him and he asked, “If that frost spring water has a frost poison in it, why then is it connected to the bath? Unless, it is…”
Jin Caifeng laughed gracefully, “Even if the Jin Residence would want to set a secret mechanism to harm another, there is no need for it to be put inside the bath pools. That is for purpose of my father’s martial practice use!”
“Your father!” Zhan Bai eyes were wide-opened as he asked. “Why then did I not seen your father? Is he not at home?”
“My father is right at home now!” Jin Caifeng replied curiously and was puzzled at the question. “It is because it is not convenient for him to move around therefore he did not want to meet any guests. That’s all!”
“Then at which part of the residence is he now?” Suddenly Zhan Bai regretted asking too hastily.
“Huh?” Jin Caifeng was even more surprised, “Does Young Hero Zhan knows my father?”
Zhan Bai had a bitter smile as he tried to explain, “Who doesn’t know Jin Jiu the [Heavenly Bronze Coin]? Everyone in the pugilist fraternity has heard of his resounding name!”
Jin Caifeng smiled as well and said, “So you have heard but not seen him personally?”
Zhan Bai could only nodded his head as a reply to her statement.
Jin Caifeng said, “This is more like it. My father has not been out for more than ten years. From your age, it is not likely that you could have met my father before!”
Zhan Bai asked curiously, “Why is that so?”
Jin Caifeng shot a suspicious eye upon him and asked astonishing, “Young Hero Zhan, you seem to be extremely concerned about my father?”
Zhan Bai turned red immediately and knew that his question had been too thinly veiled and careless. Now he had aroused her suspicious. He shook his head to deny, “I am just being curious. With your father’s prestige and renown in the pugilist fraternity, I wonder why did he stay at home for more than ten years?”
It immediately put a rest to Jin Caifeng’s suspicious and her beautiful face once again regained her serenity and composure. “The reason why my father did not go out for many years is because he has a strange illness that cause both his legs to be useless. Since he can’t move, he has to stay at the ‘Harmony Court’ to recuperate.”
Now he understood the reason, he was determined in his heart not to ask further in order not to arouse any suspicious.
Since then, he had been recuperating at the Jin Residence and Jin Caifeng visited him often to take care of him. As for Young Master Qilin, he had frequent visits from the heroes of the pugilist fraternity, he did not come that often.
In a twinkle of an eye, it was now the evening of the third day. By now, Zhan Bai had totally recovered his health and body. And he had decided to leave now.
Because Young Master Qilin was not home, he could not bide farewell to him. Even though Jin Caifeng tried a hundred reasons to retain him but he had already made up his mind to say goodbye.
From her reluctant for him not to leave and from her expressions, the striking beautiful Jin Caifeng the [Jiangnan Most Beautiful Maiden] seemed to have fallen for him over the past two days.
Towards this uniquely beautiful maiden that everyone else envied and admired, Zhan Bai was not bothered in his heart. As for Jin Caifeng’s soft whispering words, her million affections and sentiments, he was unwilling to even look.
But the more Zhan Bai was not bothered and unmoved, the more Jin Caifeng thought of him as an exceptional above all the others and the more she loved him so.
“Very well. Are you really in a rush to leave here?” Jin Caifeng eyed him with a mystified eyes, “Can’t you just wait in my house for a few more days?”
“No!” Zhan Bai replied cruelly. “This is because I have important matters to attend to!”
“Is it because my house is not that pleasing and comforting or it is…” Jin Caifeng cried.
“I did not say anything of that sort.” Zhan Bai said, “But I cannot allow myself to be delayed in your distinguished residence for long, that’s all.” His tone remained icily cold.
“Can’t you stay for just one more night?…” When Jin Caifeng had said to this point, her beautiful eyes were now glittering with tears.
When Zhan Bai saw her beautiful facial became distorted and her tears were so alluring and touching, he could not but feel his heart softened. He sighed and said, “Alas! This…this is truly impossible!”
At this moment, he had finally understood. It was not because he did not love this [Jiangnan Most Beautiful Maiden]. Everyone adored beauties and moreover she was deeply in love with him! But the vengeance in his heart forced him not to accept her love.
That was why under this innumerable emotions, he had said that even though it made no sense other than to himself.
When he had finished speaking, he saddled the Heartless Precious Sword onto his back and walked with great strides and never to look back again.
It was because his heart understood that could he stay for any moment longer, he would never have the heart to leave the Jin Residence again. Should he fell in love with the daughter of his father’s killer, what a dilemma he would be in! He could not avenge for his father and if he could not avenge for his father, his conscious would never be at peace. All these would be too unthinkable for him!
But after Zhan Bai took two steps, Jin Caifeng had suddenly caught hold of his arm and cried out in sorrow, “Wait a while. Can you wait for me to say something first?…”
Before Zhan Bai could reply, a shadow came through the window like a flurry breeze!
When the shadow had lands, both Zhan Bai and Jin Caifeng would see that it was the [Heavenly Bronze Coin] favored disciple and who also grown up together with the Jin Brother and Sister – Meng Ruping the [Junior Money Jade Face]!
He was all dressed up in deep black and his handsome face was haughty. He said solemnly, “Protégé Sister, let go of him!”
“Who needs you to interfere in my affairs!” Jin Caifeng voiced out unhappily. “Hurry and get out of here!”
Meng Ruping was stunned. He had never expected that the little protégé sister that he had grown up with would tell him off rudely! Therefore it aroused his fury and he said viciously, “Older Protégé Brother is not at home and I don’t care a hoot who is to disciple you. Do you really want to cast the Jin Residence in utter disgrace…”
There was a loud pang and Jin Caifeng had slapped him tightly on the side of his face but her voice was serene as she said, “In what way am I being disgraceful? Even my brother will never dare to tell me off in this manner!…”
Meng Ruping never expected her to hit him and he stood there in stunned silence. When he had finally realized it, five red finger marks were seen on his face.
Now he turned green with envy and anger. He stared viciously at her for awhile before turning around to stare at Zhan Bai, “Little rascal, if you do not leave the Jin Residence today, I will make sure you die in the wilderness and your body scattered all over the places!”
When he had finished, he stormed out of the door.
“So it seems then,” Zhan Bai replied with a bitter smile. “That I, Zhan Bai could no longer stay in the residence today!”
But Meng Ruping had already walked off and there was no sight of him.
But Jin Caifeng said to him by his side, “Young Hero Zhan, please rest assured that with me around, he will never dare to touch even a single hair of yours!”
Zhan Bai coldly mocked, “Without young mistress flattering help, I have faith that I can still handle this on my own!”
There was a strange glow in Jin Caifeng’s beautiful big eyes and she looked at him for awhile before she shook her head to sigh, “I am not trying to praise myself. Those that have looked upon me, will all praise me for being beautiful and they will all flock to me to heap praises upon me or to curry favors upon me. Moreover, countless young men have tried to get near to me but I have never before love alone.”
She paused for awhile, “But ever since I have seen Young Hero Zhan, I do not know why, I…”
Even Jin Caifeng was from a martial aristocracy clan, a daughter of the pugilists. Her boldness and grace exceeded would naturally surpassed that of an ordinary young mistress from a rich or noble family.
But still, she was flushing with red and could not continued.
When Zhan Bai saw her coyness and shyness, it was like so beautiful like a blossoming flower. She was indeed the most beautiful girl that he had seen among all the others. What more, her heart was for him and only. It was something that even a million gold could not buy and a wishful fate that one would only hope for but not has!
He suddenly recalled from an old man in the escort agency that he once worked, telling him, “In a person lifetime, he would meet a lot of people and have a lot of friends. A blossom friend is difficult to find. And an intimate girlfriend that understands you is even more difficult to find. If a exceedingly beautiful maiden is also one that understands you, do you know how many cycles of good karma that one have to undergo so as to have that!”
But now that Zhan Bai had finally known an intimate girlfriend but she was also the daughter of his father’s killer! Therefore he could not accept her affections. This is such a woeful fate!”
Zhan Bai was left in stunned silence for a while, not knowing what to say, would be the best…
Just when both were left wordless and was embarrassed alone with one another, there was a loud laughter that caused the windows to vibrate that came from outside the door.
“Virtuous niece, I have heard that you have disgraced our Jin Residence! That little rascal…”
When Jin Caifeng and Zhan Bai heard that voice, they almost turned ashen at the same time and bolted out of the door.
“Meng Ruping!” Jin Caifeng was so angry that she turned white. She rebuked him in a shrieking voice, “How dare you slander me! From now, I, Jin Caifeng will not recognize you anymore as my older protégé brother!”
Zhan Bai laughed aloud. “I thought that you have some great means to get back at me but all you know is to slander and tell tales! And you have to ask for accompany to help you!…”
When Meng Ruping had heard Jin Caifeng scolded him in such an unforgiving manner and Zhan Bai further aggravated him further. He was so aroused to anger fit that he felt he was bursting. So he shouted loudly, “I have invited the two old seniors to bear witness! You filthy rascal Zhan, do you think the Jin Residence is a place for you to display your atrocious ways? Just me alone can take away your filthy life!”
And he drawn out his sword from his sheath and displayed a stance, ‘Displaying the Water Divine Dragon’ and attacked Zhan Bai.
Zhan Bai was no less slow and he tried to take his Heartless Precious Sword from behind his back.
But Meng Ruping did not wait for him to fully drawn out his sword and continued with ‘Dark Clouds over the Moon’, ‘Smiling Finger Southern Sky’ and ‘Punitive Bird Attack’ and attacked Zhan Bai in a lightning flash in three of his most vulnerable positions!
For a momentum, Zhan Bai lost an upper opportunity and he had to evade, block, parry and dodge all at the same time. Finally on the last stroke was he able to sprang a yard back but still he was still slower and a piece of cloth was sliced from his robe and he almost lost his leg!
Zhan Bai broke into beans of cold sweat as he narrowly avoided losing his leg and now the Heartless Precious Sword was now in his hand but it was still sheathed.
Jin Caifeng turned white with startled fright when she saw Meng Ruping almost hacked off Zhan Bai’s right leg but when she saw that Zhan Bai had just managed to avoid it narrowly, she told him off, “Are you trying on purpose to shame and disgrace the Jin Residence?”
“In what way did I shame the Jin Residence?” Meng Ruping replied defiantly, “Unlike you, you have really shamed and disgrace the Jin Residence!”
Jin Caifeng was so upset by his remarks that her jade face flustered and she hatefully replied, “You have no right to meddle into my own affairs! But when you fight with the other, even before he has drawn his weapon, you have launched such fiery pre-emptive attacks! Even my father will feel extremely ashamed of you!”
“Shut up!” Meng Ruping shouted thunderously, “He has only to blame for his poor martial skills. When fighting with others, he can’t even draw his sword out properly. Do you expect others to put a sword on his hand first instead?”
As they continued to bicker, Zhan Bai made use of this breathing space and unsheathed his Heartless Precious Sword from the scabbard.
As it was now evening, the darkness had already descended on the place. The servants of the Jin Residence had hung many lanterns to light the place. And they had also gathered around to watch with great interest as well. They did not seem the least surprised or startled by this latest commotion. It was a common thing that frequently happened in the Jin Residence.
A cold piercing light unsheathed from Zhan Bai’s Heartless Precious Sword as he yelled, “Young Mistress Jin, please move aside! Tonight, I, Zhan Bai will like to meet this so call expert!”
“How wonderful!” Not only did the [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] not stop the fight, they were eager to witness the fight as they shouted.
[Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was shouting, “Young fellow! That is the right spirit! Go on and fight!”
Not waiting for Jin Caifeng to say a word more, Meng Ruping quickly thundered, “Now you have a sword in your hand, you have nothing more to add. Now filthy rascal, prepare to surrender your life!”
Suddenly as he said, he sprang into mid-air and a green glow of light emitted from his sword as he prepared to hack right into Zhan Bai’s head!
When Zhan Bai had seen his agile movements, his vicious swordplay and even before his stroke was bore to fruition, he could feel the icy cold sword energy on his face. He immediately recited the ‘Calming Meditation’ verse and executed a stance with his Heartless Precious Sword, ‘Reversing Heaven and Earth’.
Now the Heartless Precious Sword was indeed a divine weapon. And it immediately halted the advances of Meng Ruping glaring swordplay and stopped the incoming glow!