Bordertown Wanderer 09 Print
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 05:57

Chapter 9 - Stable As A Giant Boulder


 
Yellow dusk.

The warm rays of the setting sun shined through the window and onto Fu HongXue's thighs, reminding him of those soft, warm, tender hands that caressed his thighs two nights before.

He lay on his bed, too tired to even remove his boots.

But just the thought of those hands, that woman, her skin as smooth as silk, the seductive way that her legs swayed back and forth ...

His heart would immediately fill with inexplicable sensation. He knew how to relieve himself of that tension. He had done so before.

But it was different now, he had a woman. A real woman.

He really shouldn't have been thinking of those things ... the training and upbringing that he endured was many times stricter and more difficult than any other in the world.

But he was a man, that ghostly setting sun shined down on him, he really didn't want to think about anything else ... he was too exhausted.

The rain died down.

Why was the setting sun particularly warmer after the rain falls?

He leapt off his bed and dashed towards the door!

He needed to vent, yet all he could do was refrain!

The street was very quiet. It was as if the villagers all sensed that something grave was about to happen, even the happiest of couples seemed to have all gone into hiding in their own homes.

Ye Kai stood under the corner of one of the buildings, staring at the mud on the streets, he looked like he was pondering arduously about something in his mind. That was when he saw Fu HongXue appear from the alley across the street. He smiled and waved at him but Fu HongXue seemed to take no notice. A red haze seemed to be hovering over his pale white face, his eyes focused solely on the narrow door across the street.

The lantern atop the door had been lit.

Like that lantern, Fu HongXue's eyes looked like they were ablaze.

With his hand still clenching firmly on to his sabre, he plodded slowly step by step towards the door.

Ye Kai felt that this youngster who was normally cold and aloof was acting unusually strange today.

A person who had been restraining himself for too long, suppressing himself for too long, will be unable to resist satiating himself, otherwise he would probably explode.

Ye Kai let out a sigh and mumbled to himself, "Looks like he's about to go drink himself unconscious."

It'd be best for him to get drunk beyond compare and fall oblivious to the world around him. That way, when he wakes, although his head will ache like it was about to split open, he'll feel much more relaxed and alert when the pain subsides.

It'd be even better if there was a woman to accompany him.

Ye Kai was quite perplexed, he wondered whether this youngster ever had a woman before. But on the other hand ... men who've never had a woman were like rigid dams, almost impossible to rupture. But when they finally do encounter a woman, it would be like small cracks opening up in the walls, you never know just when all that water would bursting out.

Fu HongXue slowly made his way across the street, his eyes still fixed on that door. The lantern flickered back and forth, signifying that they were now receiving guests.

Business probably wasn't going to be good on this night. Most of their usual patrons were the riders from the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' and travelers from afar. But it didn't look like any of the two would be visiting tonight.

FU HongXue pushed open the door, his Adam's apple rolled up and down.

The only people in the main hall were two men who looked like they had just gotten into arguments with their wives. Xiao BieLi had come down from his room and was sitting in his usual seat enjoying his 'breakfast', a small slice of roasted mutton, a small bowl of noodles in lamb stew, and a large cup of wine, probably grape wine imported from Persia. He was someone who knew how to indulge in the finer things in life.

Fu HongXue walked in slowly and sat down at the same seat as two nights before.

"What kind of wine would you like?"

Fu HongXue didn't answer for quite some time.

"I don't want wine."

"What would you like then?"

"Bring me anything, just not wine."

Xiao BieLi suddenly let out a smile, then turned and gave instructions to the workers.

"We have fresh sheep milk, bring young Mr. Fu a cup, compliments of the house."

Fu HongXue didn't bother to look at him and coldly replied, "No need, whatever I consume, I'll pay for with my own money."

Xiao BieLi smiled again, the last piece of mutton finally reaching his lips, a look of utter delight came over his face as he savored the taste of his meat. He was never one who enjoyed arguing with others, but he knew that someone who did had just arrived.

The sound of hoofbeats was heard suddenly stopping right outside of the doors.

*PENG*, the doors flung open, a giant of a man walked in. There was no hat on his head, his sleeves were open, a silver-hilted sabre hung from his waist. GongSun Duan!

Xiao BieLi greeted him with a smile, but he didn't notice.

But he did notice Fu HongXue.

His eyes were like that of a vulture that had just spotted a dead carcass.

The sheep milk had arrived, it really was fresh.

This beverage was something that only people from Bordertown enjoyed, and it was something that only people from Bordertown knew how to enjoy. Fu HongXue struggled to down a mouthful, his eyebrows slowly started to furrow.

GongSun Duan smiled coldly and said, "Only sheep enjoy sheep milk."

Fu HongXue didn't respond, he lifted his cup and drank another mouthful.

"No wonder this place smells of sheep, there's a stinking little goat here." GongSun Duan said loudly.

Fu HongXue still didn't respond, but the veins on the hand that was holding his sabre had started to rise.

GongSun Duan suddenly rushed over. With a *PENG*, he slammed his hand onto the table and said, "Get lost!"

Fu HongXue's eyes stared at the milk in his cup, as he slowly replied, "You want me to get lost?"

"This place is for humans. There is a pen for the sheep out back, which is where you belong." GongSun Duan said.

"I'm not a sheep." Fu HongXue replied.

GongSun Duan slammed his hand onto the table again and blasted, "I don't care what you are, you better get lost now. Your old man wants to sit at this table right here."

"Which old man?" Fu HongXue said.

"I'm your old man, your old man is me." GongSun Duan replied.

*PENG*, his cup shattered. Fu HongXue watched as sheep milk spilled all over the table, his body started to tremble.

GongSun Duan was staring right at him, his giant hands clutching onto the handle of his sabre. "Are you going to move by yourself, or do you want to be carried out?"

Fu HongXue kept trembling as he slowly stood up, exerting all his strength to control himself, trying not to cast a single glance at GongSun Duan.

GongSun Duan laughed and said, "Looks like this stinking little goat wants to return to his pen, why don't you lick the milk off the table before you leave?"

Fu HongXue suddenly lifted his head, his eyes stared straight at GongSun Duan. Those pair of eyes looked like coal that had just caught fire.

Red veins started to form in GongSun Duan's eyes as he viciously sneered, "What are you going to do? Pull out your sabre?"

Fu HongXue's hand clenched on to his sabre, clenched on hard.

"Only men know how to draw their sabres, it's not something that stinking goats are capable of. If you're a man, then pull out your sabre!" GongSun Duan provoked.

Fu HongXue stared at him, his whole body trembled violently.

The two men that had been drinking earlier had retreated into a corner, afraid that they would be seen.

Xiao BieLi slowly took a sip of wine from his cup, his hand was tense and stiff. The sound of breathing was all that could be heard.

Fu HongXue's breaths were short and quick, GongSun Duan's breaths were long and heavy.

Everyone else had stopped breathing.

Suddenly, Fu HongXue turned around and slowly walked towards the door. His left leg first, then his right leg dragged from behind.

GongSun Duan let out a long breath and snickered, "So the stinking little goat is a cripple."

Fu HongXue suddenly quickened his pace, he looked like he could barely keep his balance as he hobbled out.

GongSun Duan laughed and said, "Just crawl, start crawling back into your pen. If you let me see you again, be careful that your old man will break your other leg."

He pulled a chair, sat down, and slammed his hand onto the table, "Bring me some wine, the best you have!"

Suddenly, a voice at the door loudly shouted, "Bring me some wine, the best you have!"

Ye Kai walked in, pulling a sheep along next to him!

GongSun Duan gazed directly at him, but he seemingly didn't notice GongSun Duan at all as he found a table and took a seat. The seat he chose was directly across from GongSun Duan.

GongSun Duan shot him a cold glance, then slammed his hand onto the table again. "Where's the wine? Hurry it up!"

Ye Kai slammed his hand onto the table as well. "Where's the wine? Hurry it up!"

In a situation such as this, the wine would definitely arrive quickly.

Ye Kai poured out a cup of wine but didn't take a sip. Instead he put the cup to the sheep's mouth and poured it down its throat.

GongSun Duan's thick eyebrows crossed, Xiao BieLi couldn't help but laugh.

"So it turns out that real men drink milk while the sheep drink wine." Ye Kai said with a smile.

GongSun Duan's face turned colors, he suddenly flew to his feet and berated, "What are you trying to say?"

Ye Kai smiled slightly and replied, "I was just talking to this sheep here, are you a sheep as well?"

"This place isn't an animal pen, why does it attract so many animals?" Xiao BieLi added with a smile.

GongSun Duan turned his head and stared at him.

"Brother GongSun, do you intend to break my legs as well? It's a pity though, both my legs have long been crippled already." Xiao BieLi said.

GongSun Duan clenched his fists and iterated each word slowly, "Good thing that there's someone else in this room whose legs seem perfectly fine."

"That's correct, my legs aren't crippled at all." Ye Kai said.

"Good, then stand up!" GongSun Duan shouted out.

"I rarely stand when I have the chance to sit." Ye Kai replied.

"I rarely sit when I have the chance to stand." Xiao BieLi said.

"I'm quite a lazy person." Ye Kai said.

"I'm a person without legs." Xiao BieLi replied.

Both of them suddenly broke out in laughter.

Ye Kai patted the sheep on its head while still looking at GongSun Duan out of the corner of his eyes. "Brother Sheep, brother Sheep, why is it that you enjoy standing so much?"

GongSun Duan, obviously, was standing up. Veins were bulging all over his forehead, his hand shot to his sabre as he cried out, "I can hack off your legs even if you stay sitting."

A sudden flash of silver, the sabre left its sheath.

With a *BU*, the sturdy table in front of Ye Kai was cut cleanly in half. But Ye Kai didn't move, his eyes didn't even blink.

"I would've never realized that your sabre is used for cutting tables." Ye Kai said with a smile.

GongSun Duan roared in anger and swung his blade around him in a crescent circle. Ye Kai's entire body was enveloped in a brilliant flash of silver, even his eyes looked like they were gleaming with silver light.

With a *DING*, sparks flew in all four directions as an iron cane intercepted the silver sabre, while another iron cane implanted itself into the floor some five inches deep.

The power behind that sabre was frightening. Yet Xiao BieLi stood firmly on the floor, the iron cane in his hand still looked very steady. Because the force behind that sabre had been shifted to the iron cane in his other hand and dissipated into the floor below.

GongSun Duan's face looked utterly pale. He stared at Xiao BieLi and said, "This is none of your business."

"This is not a place for killing." Xiao BieLi replied.

The veins and arteries in GongSun Duan's neck kept undulating up and down, but the sabre in his hand remained motionless.

The iron cane remained motionless as well.

Suddenly, the edge of the blade began to grind against the iron cane, emitting a deafening screech. The other iron cane slowly began to sink deeper and deeper into the ground.

But Xiao BieLi still looked firm and stable propped up on the cane, as stable as a giant boulder.

GongSun Duan suddenly stamped his feet and shattered the stone floor into countless pieces. In two giant steps he flew out of the building without saying another word.

Ye Kai let out a long sigh and exclaimed, "Mr. Xiao possesses incredibly deep and profound internal energy!"

"I embarass myself." Xiao BieLi replied humbly.

"If anyone is able to cultivate their internal energy to the level of 'Catching Lumber With Shifting Flowers', then there really would be no reason to be embarassed at all." Ye Kai said with a smile.

"Brother Ye has wondrous insight." Xiao BieLi returned with a smile.

"GongSun Duan's insight is probably just as sharp, why else would he leave?" Ye Kai said.

Xiao BieLi looked deep in thought as he replied, "It might be because you're not the one who he's really trying to kill."

"But if it weren't for Mr. Xiao, I might well be dead already." Ye Kai said.

"If it weren't for me, then someone really might have died here today, but it definitely wouldn't have been you." Xiao BieLi said.

"Not me? Then who?" Ye Kai said.

"Him." Xiao BieLi said.

"Why would it have been him?" Ye Kai asked.

Xiao BieLi let out a long sigh and said, "He's nothing but a brute, he couldn't even tell that Brother Ye's level of martial arts exceeds his by at least tenfold."

Ye Kai let out a laugh, as if he had just heard the most laughable thing in the world. He shook his head and said, "I'm afraid that Mr. Xiao has estimated incorrectly this time."

"My two legs may be crippled, but my two eyes have yet to go blind. Otherwise, I wouldn't have acted today, having never lifted a hand in more than ten years." Xiao BieLi said.

Ye Kai waited for him to continue.

"I've never encountered a young hero of your caliber in all my years here, not only is your martial arts deep and unfathomable, but your origins are completely unknown, that's why ..."

His tongue suddenly stopped, as if he were waiting for Ye Kai to ask on.

"That's why what?" Ye Kai said.

"It's quite difficult for a cripple with no friends or relatives to survive out here in Bordertown. But if I were to have a friend such as Brother Ye ..." Xiao BieLi suggested.

Ye Kai suddenly interrupted him, "If you were to befriend a person such as myself, then your troubles in the future would be quite numerous."

Xiao BieLi smiled and replied, "And what if I don't mind the trouble?"

"Then we are friends." Ye Kai said.

Xiao BieLi's face completely lit up as he smiled and said, "Then please come over and have a drink with me!"

"Even if you didn't invite me, I'd still drink." Ye Kai said.

________________________________________

A man on horseback riding through the street was suddenly seized by a giant pair of hands and thrown hard to the floor. That rider wanted to scream out in anger, but he held it in. Because he saw that the person who pulled him off his horse was GongSun Duan, and he saw that the look on GongSun Duan's face was full of anger. No one dared to offend GongSun Duan when he was angry.

GongSun Duan flew onto that man's horse and rode away. Where was his own horse?

His horse was galloping widly through the grasslands, the person sitting on its back was Fu HongXue.

When he rushed out of the door before, the first thing he did was leap onto this horse. With the scabbard of his sabre, he smacked the horse, smacked it ever so hard. Almost as if he was pretending that the horse was GongSun Duan.

He needed to vent, otherwise he would've went mad.

The horse seemed like it was mad as well. It raced through the streets and into the grasslands, from sunset to twilight, into the endless, boundless night.

The stars hadn't yet risen into the sky. He would've rathered that the stars never rise, and for there to be no moon, for he much preferred the darkness.

Cold wind scraped at his face, drifting sand beat against his face, but he made no effort to avoid it. He rather welcomed it. If he could endure pain and suffering such as this, what else in this world could he not endure?

He gritted his teeth, his gums began to bleed. The blood tasted bitter, bitter and salty.

Suddenly, a bright light rose into the sky.

It was no star, it was the giant lantern that hung from the flagpole of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses', its light looked even brighter than the stars.

Stars eventually fade. But what about this light?

He grabbed onto the horse's mane and smacked its rear with his scabbard. He needed to vent, speed was certainly a kind of release. But the horse toppled over with a long neigh, its front legs buckling to the ground.

Fu HongXue was thrown from the horse's back and onto the ground. There was no grass on the ground, there was only sand. The rocky sand scraped against his face which started to bleed.

His mind started to bleed as well.

Perseverance! Perseverance! How long had he been persevering for already? Just how much longer would he have to persevere for?

Just who could empathize with the pain, suffering, and bitter toil that all these years of perseverance had wrought him?

His eyes started to water uncontrollaby - tears seeped in blood, blood-soaked tears.

Stars ascended into the night sky.

Under the starlight, a horse raced through the sand towards him. That rider's eyes were as brilliant as the stars, bells rang in musical harmony - Ma FangLing.

She had the sweetest smile on her face, her eyes looked full of joy, she seemed more beautiful than she had ever been before. It wasn't because of the vivid starlit sky, nor was it because of the bewitching charm of the night, rather it was because her heart was filled with love.

Love had the ability to make the most ordinary of girls charming and attractive, it could turn the ugliest of girls beautiful.

"He must be waiting for me, when he sees me show up unexpectedly, his heart will definitely fill with joy."

She should have never came out. But love filled her with courage, a courage that knew no fear.

She only wanted to see him, nothing else mattered to her as long as she got to see him for just one moment.

The wind was cold, cold and cutting like a blade. But to her, even these cold winds felt warm and soothing. It was then that she heard the sound of silent sobs drifting in the wind.

Who in the world would be crying in the middle of this barren wasteland?

She had already passed by, but decided to turn around. Not only did love make her appearance more beautiful, it made her heart more beautiful as well. She suddenly changed into an extremely kind, gentle, benevolent, and compassionate person.

She spotted the horse that had fallen from exhaustion, and then she saw Fu HongXue.

Fu HongXue was curled up on the ground, his whole body trembling incessantly. He didn't seem like he heard her horse's hoofbeats approaching at all, nor did he notice her dismounting and walking towards him.

He was trying to endure through indescribable pain, he was trying to persevere through unimaginable torture.

Under the starlight, his face looked paler than paper. Blood-soaked tears trickled down his pale face.

Ma FangLing finally saw his face clearly, her eyes widened as she was slightly startled, "It's you?"

She remembered this mysterious youngster, she remembered leaving a small red mark on his face with her whip.

Fu HongXue finally saw her as well, his eyes looked confused and in disarray, like a wild horse in the wilderness. He struggled with all his might to stand up but kept falling back down, it felt as if an invisible hand was pressing down on him.

"Are you sick?" Ma FangLing asked with knitted brows.

Fu HongXue gritted his teeth, white froth had started foaming from the corners of his mouth, it looked exactly like the dead horse's mouth. He really was sick.

This frightening illness had been torturing him for more than ten years. Whenever he was pushed to his limit and could endure no longer, this illness would surface.

He never wanted to be seen when he was sick. He would rather die, he would rather descend to the depths of hell, than be seen when he was sick. Yet, now he couldn't help it.

He bit down on his teeth and started to beat himself with his scabbard. He despised himself. Why did the heavens forsake someone as strong and proud as himself with such a frightening illness? How cruel of a punishment was this?

Ma FangLing recognized his illness, she let out a sigh and said, "Why bother hitting yourself for? This type of illness is not life-threatening. Very soon, it'll ..."

Suddenly, Fu HongXue exerted all the energy in his body to pull out his sabre and screamed, "Leave, or else I'll kill you!"

It was the first time that he drew his sabre. What a brilliant sabre it was!

The brigtness of the blade reflected off of his face, his blood-soaked face. In the blade's reflection, he appeared mad and insane, he appeared bloodthirsty and ferocious.

Ma FangLing took two steps back involuntarily, she look startled and frightened. She wanted to run, but this youngster's four limbs suddenly convulsed, as he fell to the floor once again. As he struggled on the ground, he resembled a horse that had fallen into frozen water, lonely, hopeless, and helpless.

The sabre was still in his hand, the sabre had left its sheathe.

He suddenly twisted his wrist and stabbed the sabre deep into his thigh. Blood gushed forth along the blade of his sabre. His convulsions slowly and gradually subsided. But his entire body was still trembling, trembling so violently that he had curled up into a ball. He looked like a frightened child.

The fear and apprehension in Ma FangLing's eyes changed into pity and sympathy.

A child completely alone in this cold vast darkness ...

She couldn't help but sigh lightly. She walked over and gently held his head, whispering, "This is not your fault, why do you torture yourself so?"

Her voice was soft and tender like a caring mother's. This lonely, helpless youngster had arisen her motherly instincts.

Fu HongXue's tears started to flow. No matter how strong or proud he was, he couldn't help but be deeply affected at that moment.

"I am at fault. I should've never been born. I should've never existed in this world." Fu HongXue exclaimed. His voice was filled with grief and hopelessness.

A sharp pain shot through Ma FangLing's chest. Pity and sympathy can prick like a needle at times. She couldn't help herself and wrapped her arms around him, holding him against her chest, as she said softly, "Don't be too harsh on yourself, you'll feel better soon enough ..."

She didn't finish her sentence because her tears had started to fall as well.

The winds were howling, the fields were howling. The vast grasslands around them looked like an unending ocean of waves. With just the slightest mistake, you could be swallowed whole. But aren't human emotions even more frightening and dangerous than all the waves in the ocean?

Fu HongXue had stopped trembling by now, but his breathing had quickened. Ma FangLing began to feel his warm breath blowing through her clothes. She felt her chest slowly starting to heat up.

A completely blind and selfless sympathy and compassion had made her forget that the person in her arms was a man. It was the greatest act of kindness possible, but it could make people forget many things. But now, another strange feeling suddenly arose in her heart. That feeling was so strong that she almost pushed him away, but just couldn't bear to.

"Who are you?" Fu HongXue suddenly asked.

"My surname is Ma ..." she said. Her voice suddenly cut short, because she felt this youngster's breath suddenly stop. But she just couldn't figure out why. Because no one could've imagined that the power of vengeance was this strong, that it was much more stronger than love.

Because love was warm and gentle, like the breeze on a Spring day. While vengeance was as sharp as a blade, it could penetrate your soul in a single instant.

Fu HongXue didn't ask any further. He suddenly held her down tightly and tore off her clothes.

This change was too sudden, and too frightening. Ma FangLing was so completely shocked that it didn't even cross her mind to dodge out of the way or to resist or fight back.

Fu HongXue's icy cold hands slipped into her top and seized her warm, tender breasts ...

That strange, unusual feeling was also like a blade. And Ma FangLing's heart had been pierced by it. Nervous, frightened, ashamed, infuriated, she felt all those things at once.

She leapt up and slapped Fu HongXue hard across the face. He didn't bother to move out of the way but his hand were still holding on to her.

She was in such pain that her tears started to fall, she clenched her fists and struck towards his nose. One of his hands let go of her while the other one caught her fist. Her breasts fell out of her shirt and were exposed to the cold, chilling winds, firm and pointed straight.

His eyes were bloodshot as he leapt on top of her again. She curled up her knees and kicked away at him. For some reason, not one of them said a word, and not one of them cried out. Crying out in a situation like this was useless.

The two of them rolled around the ground like animals, ripping, tearing, gnawing and biting at each other. More and more of her body became exposed.

She was almost on the verge of madness as she fought and clawed, but her strength had slowly waned.

Suddenly she cried out, "Let go of me, let go of me ... why are you treating me like this? Why ...?" In her mind, she knew that nobody would come to save her, and she knew that he wouldn't let her go. She was really pleading to the heavens.

"This is what you wanted. I know this is what you want." Fu HongXue panted.

Ma FangLing looked like she was about to give up. Upon hearing those words, she suddenly gathered all of the strength in her body and bit down hard on his shoulders. His entire body contracted in pain, but he was still pressing down hard on her, as if he was trying to crush the life out of her body.

Her mouth left his shoulders, filled with his blood and flesh ...

She suddenly started to heave. She couldn't avoid it and took a long, deep breath.

"I beg of you, I beg of you, you mustn't do this." she pleaded.

He looked at her interrogatively, "Why mustn't I? Who said so?"

Suddenly, another voice rang out.

"I said so!"

That voice was extremely calm. Terrifyingly calm.

When driven to the extreme, sometimes anger can turn into calmness.

That person's voice was like a blade in Fu HongXue's ears.

He finally appeared, it was Ye Kai!