Bordertown Wanderer 14 Print
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 08:51

Chapter 14 - A Proud Horse's Long Neigh


 
Ma KongQun slowly took his seat. The long table stretched out before him like a lengthy expanse of road. From puddles of mud and pools of blood to where he was now, he had really come a long way.

But where did that road lead from here?

Did it really lead back to those puddles of mud and pools of blood?

Ma KongQun slowly extended his arms onto the table. The wrinkles on his face looked even more pronounced in the rays of the morning sun. Each wrinkle had been carved with countless years of blood and tears. Some of it was his own, and some were the blood and tears of others!

Hua MenTian and Yun ZaiTian had already arrived. They sat there waiting quietly but looked like they had much on their minds.

GongSun Duan hobbled in hurriedly, bringing with him a vomit inducing stench of alcohol.

Ma KongQun did not lift his head to look at him, nor did he say a word.

It was definitely not the time to be getting drunk.

He was already ashamed and angry -- angry at himself. He was itching to pull out his sabre and slash himself across the chest to let his alcohol-filled blood run dry.

The mood inside the grand hall was deep and heavy.

Breakfast had already been set, there were fresh vegetables and roasted calf meat.

Ma KongQun suddenly put on a smile and remarked, "The food looks delicious today."

Hua MenTian nodded his head, Yun ZaiTian nodded his head as well.

The dishes really were delicious, but who had the appetite to eat? The weather was beautiful as well, but the winds carried a pungent stench of blood.

Yun ZaiTian lowered his head and reported, "The first patrol that we sent out last night, they were all ..."

Ma KongQun cut him off and said, "Save those words for after we eat."

"Yes." Yun ZaiTian replied.

Thereupon, everyone else lowered their heads as well and quietly finished their meal. Even the taste of delicious roasted calf turned bitter and sour upon reaching their mouths. Only Ma KongQun seemed to be enjoying his food.

Perhaps what he was chewing on wasn't his food but his thoughts.

Everything had reached the point of necessary resolution. Some things couldn't be decided by might alone, careful thought was necessary. But there was so much on his mind, that's why he needed to slowly chew so that he could digest it all.

No one dared to lay down their chopsticks before Ma KongQun laid down his.

The windows were extremely high. Sunlight shined down so brightly that even the dust in the air could be seen.

He stared at the dust floating about the room and suddenly said, "How come this dust can only be seen in the sunlight?"

No one replied. No one dared to reply. This couldn't even be considered a question. This question was too nonsensical.

Ma KongQun's eyes slowly swept across the room at everyone's faces. He suddenly smiled and said, "You can only see this dust in the sunlight because otherwise, you would've never been aware that it existed in the first place."

He slowly continued, "Actually it doesn't really matter whether you can see it or not, the dust is still there no matter what."

An incredibly silly question, but an incredibly brilliant answer.

No one understood why he just uttered those words. So no one dared to open their mouths.

Ma KongQun continued himself, "Many things in this world are just the same. Many things in this world are just like the dust in the air. It's right in front of your face all along but you never knew. So you always assume that it never existed at all."

He looked towards Yun ZaiTian and Hua MenTian and said, "Fortunately sunlight always shines through, and sooner or later everything is revealed ..."

Hua MenTian hung his head and stared down at the leftovers on his plate. He did not say a word, nor did he show any reaction on his face. But having no reaction was a very strange reaction in itself.

He suddenly stood up and exclaimed, "More than half of the people on yesterday's patrol were my own subordinates. I will go now to ensure that they all receive proper burials."

"Wait a moment." Ma KongQun said.

"Does the Hall-Master have any other orders for me?" Hua MenTian asked.

"No."

"Then what should I be waiting for?"

"For someone to arrive."

"Who?"

"Someone who is bound to show up sooner or later."

Hua MenTian slowly took his seat, yet couldn't help but reply, "And if he doesn't show up?"

Ma KongQun's expression sunk, "Then we'll keep waiting."

When they saw his expression change, they knew that it probably had something to do with the question he just posed. Since there was no room for argument, all that everyone could do was sit and wait. Who were they waiting for?

At that time, they heard a row of hoofbeats coming from outside. A man clothed in white rushed in and reported, "Someone outside requests to see you."

"Who?" Ma KongQun asked.

"Ye Kai." the messenger replied.

"Is he by himself?" Ma KongQun said.

"He is by himself."

An odd smile came over Ma KongQun's face, "So he really came, and he arrived rather quickly." He stood up and walked outside.

"Hall-Master, he was the one you were waiting for?" Hua MenTian said.

Ma KongQun neither confirmed or denied it, he simply replied sternly, "It's best if all of you remain here and wait for me to return."

He snickered and continued, "But you probably won't have to wait long since I'm sure that I'll be back farily quickly."

When Ma KongQun said that it's best for everyone to stay, it meant that everyone had no choice but to stay. All of them understood this very well.

Yun ZaiTian stared at the sunlight shining in from the windows. He looked lost in thought as if he was still pondering over what Ma KongQun had just said previously.

GongSun Duan's fists were clenched and his eyes were bloodshot. Ma KongQun hadn't even cast a single glance at him today, what could be the reason?

Hua MenTian was wondering to himself why Ye Kai would suddenly show up this morning and how did Ma KongQun know that he would come?

Everyone had questions in their minds, but only one person could answer them. That was themselves.

Sunlight glistened in the sky. Ye Kai stood under the rays of the morning sun. It seemed that whenever the sun was out, he could be found basking in its radiant glow. He never stood in the darkness.

He was staring up at that grand flag that flapped in the wind, he didn't even seem to notice that Ma KongQun had come out. Ma KongQun walked up beside him and stared up at that flag as well.

Five majestic words adorned that flag in red: 'Guan Dong Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'.

Ye Kai let out a sigh and remarked, "What a grand majestic flag, does it have to be raised up each and every day?"

"Yes." Ma KongQun replied. He was gazing at Ye Kai the entire time, closely examining the expression on his face.

Ye Kai finally glanced back at him and said, "It must be difficult to have to raise that massive flag every single day."

Ma KongQun was silent for quite a while before he sighed and said, "It really isn't easy."

"Is there anything in this world that comes easily?" Ye Kai said.

"There is one thing." Ma KongQun replied.

"What's that?" Ye Kai asked.

"Deceiving yourself." Ma KongQun responded.

Ye Kai smiled.

Ma KongQun was not smiling as he continued, "It's rather difficult to deceive others, but relatively easy to deceive onself."

"But if someone really were able to deceive oneself, then his days would probably past by very happily." Ye Kai said, "What about you? Are you able to deceive yourself?"

"No." Ma KongQun replied.

"That's why your days won't past by happily." Ye Kai said.

Ma KongQun did not respond, he didn't have to.

A look of sympathy came over Ye Kai as he stared at the wrinkles on Ma KongQun's face. Every single one of those wrinkles were etched by the lashings of a whip, a whip hidden deep within his heart.

The courtyard encircled by the fence wasn't very large, but the wilderness outside seemed vast and endless. Why do people seem to choose to confine themselves in fences like these?

Unknowingly, the two of them turned at the same time and walked towards the large gates. The skies were clear, the grassy fields looked like undulating waves in the ocean. A thick gloomy sadness permeated through the air.

Ma KongQun looked around him and let out a long sigh, "Too many people have lost their lives."

"They really didn't deserve to die." Ye Kai added.

Ma KongQun suddenly turned and stared at him, "Then who does deserve to die?"

"There are some people who think that it should be me, and there are others who think that it should be you, that is why ..."

"That's why what?"

"That is why someone wanted me to come here and take your life!" Ye Kai exclaimed.

Ma KongQun's footsteps ceased, Ye Kai stared at him but there wasn't the slightest hint of shock or surprise on his face. It seemed that he had long anticipated this.

Several horses that had strayed from their groups suddenly sprinted towards them. Ma KongQun leapt upwards and mounted one of them. He beckoned towards Ye Kai and then rode off, as if he was expecting Ye Kai to follow.

Of course, Ye Kai really did follow him.

If the border regions could be considered the ends of the earth, then that small hillside was probably in another world of its own.

Ye Kai had been here before.

When Ma KongQun wanted to talk in secrecy, he always liked to bring people here. It seemed as if this was the only place in the world that he could remove the fence that encircled his heart.

The long gash in the stone tablet that GongSun Duan had made with his sabre was still there. Ma KongQun softly rubbed his hands against it, as if he was tending to a scar that was on his own body. Was it because this tomb brought back painful memories of the past?

After quite a while, he finally turned around.

The winds felt even more sorrowful and gloomy on that hill. His white head of hair had been blown into disarray making him look even older. But his eyes were still as sharp as an eagle's. He stared at Ye Kai and asked, "Someone wanted you to kill me?"

Ye Kai nodded his head.

"But you don't want to kill me?" Ma KongQun said.

"How do you know that." Ye Kai replied.

"Because if you were set on killing me, then you wouldn't have come just to announce it." Ma KongQun said.

Ye Kai let out a laugh, was he admitting it? Or was he denying it?

"You've probably realized that killing me will not be an easy task." Ma KongQun said.

"Why haven't you asked about who sent me to kill you?" Ye Kai said.

"I don't have to ask."

"Why's that?"

"Because I've never even bothered to consider those people a threat." Ma KongQun's expression sunk as he continued, "There are a lot of people who want me dead, but only one is really worth worrying about."

"Who?" Ye Kai asked.

"Originally, I wasn't certain whether that person was you or Fu HongXue." Ma KongQun replied.

"And now you're certain of who that person is?" Ye Kai said.

Ma KongQun nodded his head, his pupils contracted as he replied, "I should've figured out a long time ago."

Ye Kai's eyes flashed, "So you think that Fu HongXue was the one who murdered all those people?"

"No."

"If not him, then who?"

Resentment leaked out from Ma KongQun's eyes as he slowly turned to face the wilderness before them. He didn't answer Ye Kai's question. After quite a while, he remarked in a serious tone, "I've said it before, this empire was forged with my very own blood and sweat. I won't let anyone snatch it away from my hands."

That was not a reply. Ye Kai seemed to sense some peculiar meaning in those words, so he decided not to press any further.

The sky was blue, a deep blue. And in that blue sky were swirls of silvery gray, it very much resembled the ocean. From where they stood, that massive white flag looked minute and insignificant and the words on that flag were illegible.

Many things in this world are exactly the same way. You may think that a situation is grave and irreparable but if you were to look at it from another perspective, then you'd realize there wasn't much to worry about in the first place.

After a long while, Ma KongQun suddenly asked, "You know that I have a daughter?"

Ye Kai almost couldn't hold in his smile. Of course he knew that Ma KongQun had a daughter.

"You're acquainted with her?" Ma KongQun asked.

Ye Kai nodded his head and replied, "Yes!"

"What do you think of her?" Ma KongQun asked.

"She's great." Ye Kai replied. He really did think that she was great. She behaved like a spoiled brat now and then, but she was still a kind and caring person at heart.

Ma KongQun again fell silent for quite a while. Suddenly, he turned and stared at Ye Kai and asked, "Are you sincerely fond of her?"

Ye Kai was startled, he would've never imagined that Ma KongQun would ask him such a question.

"You're probably wondering why I'm asking you this." Ma KongQun said.

"Yes I do find it a bit strange." Ye Kai replied.

"I'm asking you because I only hope that you will bring her away with you." Ma KongQun said.

Ye Kai looked shocked, "Bring her away? To where?"

"To wherever you want to go, as long as you're willing to take her with you, you can take whatever you need." Ma KongQun said.

"Why do you want me to take her away?" Ye Kai couldn't help but ask.

"Because ... because I know that she is really fond of you." Ma KongQun said.

Ye Kai's eyes flashed, "If she is fond of me, then why can't we stay right here?"

A shadow glanced past Ma KongQun's face, he slowly replied, "Many things are about to happen around here, I don't want her to be involved in any of it, because she really is innocent."

Ye Kai stared back at him and let out a long sigh, "You really are a good father."

"Will you promise me then?" Ma KongQun asked.

A strange expression came over Ye Kai's face. He slowly turned to face the vast wilderness.

He did not answer Ma KongQun either, after quite a while he finally replied, "I've said this before as well, this is my home. And since I have returned, I don't plan on leaving."

"Then you won't promise me?" Ma KongQun said.

"I can't take her away. But I can promise that no matter what happens here, she won't be implicated in any of it." Ye Kai said.

A soft glow emitted from his eyes as he continued, "Because she really is innocent in all of this."

Ma KongQun's eyes started to glow as well, he patted Ye Kai on his shoulder and said, "Let's go, I want to drink a cup of wine with you."

________________________________________

Wine was on the table.

Wine couldn't solve the pain and suffering in our lives, but wine could help us deceive ourselves.

GongSun Duan grasped tightly on to his golden cup. He didn't know why he was drinking right now, it really wasn't the time to be getting drunk. But this was already his fifth cup of the morning.

Hua MenTian and Yun ZaiTian watched him as he drank. But they didn't try to stop him, nor did they choose to join him. There always seemed to be a distance between them.

And now that distance seemed to be getting even larger.

GongSun Duan stared at the wine in his cup and suddenly felt an indescribable loneliness. All the battles he fought, the blood, the sweat, what did it all amount to? All the rewards went to someone else.

Self-deception comes in two forms: arrogance and self-pity.

A young child wearing bright red garments and a jet black pigtail quietly walked into the main hall.

Although that child wasn't his own, GongSun Duan had always been very fond of him. Because this child liked him as well - perhaps this child was the only person in the entire world who truly liked him.

He reached out and grabbed the child by the shoulders and said with a smile, "Little devil, did you come to steal a sip of wine?"

The child shook his head, then suddenly asked softly, "Why ... why did you hit Third Auntie for?"

"Who told you that?" GongSun Duan exclaimed.

"Third Auntie said so herself. And she even told father all about it, you'd better be careful." the child replied.

GongSun Duan's expression sunk, his heart sunk as well. He finally understood why Ma KongQun was acting so differently towards him earlier that morning. Maybe that really wasn't the reason, but that was the conclusion he came to. This was actually much worse than not understanding anything at all.

He let go of the child and asked, "Where is Third Aunt now?"

"She went out." the child replied.

GongSun Duan did not say another word, he leapt to his feet and rushed out the door. He looked like a wounded beast.

Yun ZaiTian and Hua MenTian didn't say a word either, they were still sitting there quietly. Because Ma KongQun had ordered that they stay put.

________________________________________

Wild grass and weeds rustled in the wind, the grand flag of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' was still flapping majestically.

The dirt and sand on the floor was burning hot, Fu HongXue bent down and scooped a handful into his hands. Snow could be burning hot as well -- snow that was soaked in hot blood. He squeezed down hard as the particles of sand dug deep into his skin.

It was then that Third Madame Shen and Cui Nong rode by, but to him they were just two beautiful strangers. They were on horseback and looked to be in a hurry.

Fu HongXue lowered his head, he had a habit of never staring at women. He had never even seen Third Madame Shen's face before. The two horses came to a sudden stop right in front of him, but he kept on walking. His left foot took a step forward, then his right leg dragged along from behind.

The rays of the sun shined down onto his face, he looked as pale as cold snow from a faraway mountain. An icy cold snow that could never melt.

The two women dismounted from their horses and blocked his path. Although he could choose not to look, he couldn't ignore their voices.

A woman's voice suddenly caught his ear, "Didn't you always want to see what I looked like?"

Fu HongXue's entire body suddenly froze. He had never seen Third Madame Shen's face, but he recognized the sound of her voice. That voice sounded just as warm and tender in the warm sun as it did in the darkness of the night.

Those soft and delicate hands, those warm and moist lips, that mysterious and irrestible lust ... they always seemed as far and distant as an empty dream. In that single instant, everything suddenly turned into a reality.

Fu HongXue clenched his hands tightly, his entire body started to shake and quiver from excitement and nervousness, he still didn't dare to lift his head. But he really did want to see what she looked like, so he finally looked up. He saw a pair of soft, gentle eyes and an incredibly touching smile.

But the person he was looking at was Cui Nong.

She smiled and stared back at him affectionately. Third Madame Shen stood there silently as if she was just a stranger.

"Now you've finally seen what I look like." Cui Nong said enticingly.

"Now I've finally seen what you look like." Fu HongXue replied.

A burning fire filled his usually cold and lonely eyes. In that moment, he placed all the feelings and emotions he felt into the woman who stood before him, because she was the first woman he had.

Third Madame Shen stood there watching them quietly without a single expression on her face. She just didn't feel the same way that he did. She only did what was necessary. For revenge, she was willing to do anything.

But everything was different now, she no longer had to go on like this. She couldn't let anyone know about what happened between her and Fu HongXue. More importantly, she couldn't let Fu HongXue know. Third Madame Shen suddenly felt sick with herself.

Fu HongXue was still staring at Cui Nong, staring with all his heart. Shades of red started to surface on his pale white face.

"Very well, I'll let you stare at me for as long as you want." Cui Nong giggled. Women like her had a way with words when talking to men. The icy cold snow on that faraway mountain seemed like it was starting to melt.

Third Madame Shen suddenly interrupted her and said, "Don't forget about what I just told you."

Cui Nong nodded her head, then sighed and said, "I'm letting you see me now because the circumstances have changed."

"The circumstances have changed?" Fu HongXue asked.

"Ma KongQun already ..." Cui Nong said.

Suddenly the sound of hoofbeats cut her off. A horse dashed towards them, the rider strong and majestic as a mountain peak, yet still agile and nimble as a rabbit.

The proud horse let out a long neigh, the rider leapt off.

Third Madame Shen's expression changed as she quickly darted behind Cui Nong.

GongSun Duan rushed over and swung his hand towards Cui Nong's face as he yelled, "Out of the way!"

But his voice suddenly stopped. His hand didn't each Cui Nong either.

A sabre suddenly shot out and blocked his hand. The sheathe was pitch black, the hilt was pitch black. But the hand that held the sabre was as pale as snow.

Green veins emerged all over GongSun Duan's forehead as he turned and stared at Fu HongXue.

"It's you again."

"It's me."

"I don't want to kill you today."

"I don't want to kill you either."

"Then you'd better get as far away from here as possible."

"I'm think I'll stand right where I am."

GongSun Duan looked him over, then glanced at Cui Nong. With a look of mocking disbelief he said, "Is she your woman or something?"

"Yes." Fu HongXue replied.

GongSun Duan suddenly started to laugh, "Don't you know that she's a *****?"

Fu HongXue's entire body froze. He took two steps back and stared at GongSun Duan. His pale white face looked almost transparent.

GongSun Duan was still laughing, as if he had never seen a more laughable thing in his entire life.

Fu HongXue stood still. The hand that held his sabre was so pale that it looked almost transparent as well. Every single vein and artery could be seen bulging out.

When GongSun Duan finally stopped laughing, Fu HongXue spoke four words.

"Pull out your blade."

Four simple words, spoken ever so softly, almost in a whisper. A ghastly demonic whisper.

He spoke very slowly, so slowly that his words sounded like a foreign tongue from hell.

GongSun Duan froze still, a fire started to burn in his eyes. He gazed at Fu HongXue and asked, "What did you say?"

"Pull out your blade."

Scorching sun.

Yellow sand curled up into the air, the grassy fields appeared golden.

Although the land bathed in the warm golden rays of the sun shined splendidly, a suffocating aura of death filled the air around them. Everything seemed ruthlessly morbid, not the slightest trace of serenity could be found.

GongSun Duan's hand was wrapped around the handle of his silver curved sabre. That icy cold silver blade looked like it was glowing hot. His palms were sweating, his forehead was sweating, his entire body looked like it was baking under the blistering sun.

"Pull out your blade!"

The alcohol in his warm blood started to boil. It really was sweltering, to the point where it was intolerable.

Fu HongXue stood motionlessly across from him, like a slab of ice that could never melt. A transparent slab of ice. That ruthless blazing sun seemed to have no effect on him whatsoever. No matter where he stood, it was as if he was standing on the snow filled peak of a faraway mountain.

GongSun Duan looked uneasy and started to gasp for air, he could even hear himself panting.

A lizard crawled out from its nest and slowly drudged past his feet.

"Pull out your blade!"

That massive flag wavered majestically in the distance. The sounds of horses neighing floated in the wind.

"Pull out your blade!"

Beads of sweat dripped past his eyes into his beard and soaked the garments that hung tightly onto his body.

Could it be that Fu HongXue didn't sweat? His hand was still holding on to the hilt of his sabre.

GongSun suddenly let out a ferocious roar and pulled out his blade!

His blade flashed like silver lightning as it curved in an arc. That arc of silver light slashed towards the back of Fu HongXue's neck.

Fu HongXue made no attempt to dodge. Instead he dashed forward, the scabbard in his left hand caught GongSun Duan's curved blade. At the same time, he drew his blade as well.

*PU*, no one could describe what kind of sound that was.

GongSun Duan did not feel any pain, he only felt his stomach suddenly contract as he began to heave.
Then, he looked down and saw the hilt of Fu HongXue's sabre protruding from his stomach.

All his strength suddenly disappeared, his entire body started to lose sensation, he could no longer stay on his feet.

His eyes stared at that hilt as he slowly collapsed to the floor.

All he saw was the hilt. He hadn't even seen the blade of Fu HongXue's sabre.

Yellow sand, warm blood.

GongSun Duan was crouched over a pile of blood.

His life had ended. His misfortunes and hardships had ended.

But everyone else's troubles had just begun.

________________________________________

High noon, blazing heat.

No matter how hot the weather was, blood always started to solidify once it left the body. But sweat never froze.

Yun ZaiTian was sweating profusely, he wiped his sweat with one hand, and drank water with the other. He was not used to suffering hardship. Hua MenTian was far better at this sort of thing.

A lone horse slowly trotted into the pen. There was a person slouched over the horse's back.

A lizard licked at his blood, but his blood had already coagulated.

A brilliant silver sabre hung from his waist. The scorching sun shined down onto his disheveled hair, but he could no longer sweat.

Suddenly, a loud clang of thunder rang out. Rain started to pour down unrelentingly. The 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' fell dark. The drops of rain were as big as beads of pearl. The expressions on Hua MenTian's and Yun ZaiTian's faces looked as somber as the dark sky.

Two men whose clothes were soaked lifted GongSun Duan's body onto the long table and then quietly retreated from the hall. They were afraid to see the look on Ma KongQun's face.

He stood quietly behind the giant cloth screen. Only when the lightning flashed could you see his face. But no one really dared to look.

He slowly sat down and took GongSun Duan's hand.

That hand was coarse, cold, and stiff.

He didn't shed tears, but the expression on his face looked more sorrowful than even tears could show.

GongSun Duan's eyes stuck out, they still looked full of the pain and fear he felt before his last breath. He seemed to live his entire life in pain and fear, that's why he was never at ease. Sadly, all that anyone ever saw was his anger.

The rain had dimmed a little but the skies looked even darker.

"He was my brother, only he was worthy to be my brother." Ma KongQun said. Who knew whether he was talking to himself or to Hua MenTian and Yun ZaiTian.

"If it weren't for his words, I would've never survived until this day."

Yun ZaiTian couldn't keep silent any longer. He let out a long sigh and said, "We all knew that he was a good man."

"He really was a good man. No one was more loyal than he was, no one was more courageous. Yet he himself never had the luxury of enjoying a single day of his life." Ma KongQun said.

Yun ZaiTian could only listen, he could only sigh.

"He didn't deserve to die, but now he's dead." Ma KongQUn said.

"It must have been Fu HongXue." Yun ZaiTian said.

Ma KongQun nodded his head and exclaimed, "I have wronged him. I should've heeded his words earlier and killed them all."

"But now ..." Yun ZaiTian said.

"But now it's too late, but now it's too late ..." Ma KongQun said solemnly.

He suddenly lifted his head and said sharply, "But before we seek revenge, there is one thing that I want to do."

Yun ZaiTian's eyes flashed as he asked, "What is that?"

"Come over here and I'll tell you." Ma KongQun replied.

Of course Yun ZaiTian immediately walked over.

"I want you to do something for me." Ma KongQun said.

"Please give your orders, Hall-Master." Yun ZaiTian replied.

"I want you to die!"

Ma KongQun's hand turned over and pulled GongSun Duan's curved sabre from its sheath. The blade hacked down towards Yun ZaiTian. The speed of that one move was incredible, no one would've expected him to suddenly attack Yun ZaiTian.

The strange thing was that Yun ZaiTian seemed to be expecting it the whole time. As soon as the blade flashed, Yun ZaiTian flew backwards with his 'Opening the Window to Look at the Moon Soaring Clouds' stance.

Streaks of blood flew backwards as well. Although he was fast, he still couldn't outrun the speed of Ma KongQun's sabre. The blade slashed open his right wrist, his entire right hand fell to the floor. But Yun ZaiTian didn't fall. A martial expert who had survived countless battles didn't fall so easily.

His back was thrown against the wall. His face looked colorless. His eyes were filled with fear.

Ma KongQun did not give chase. He stood where he was, staring at the drops of blood slowly dripping down from the edge of his blade.

Hua MenTian actually stood motionlessly to the side, not a single expression was on his face either. As long as that blade was not directed at him, he could not be bothered to move.

After a long while, Yun ZaiTian finally opened his mouth. He bit down on his teeth and said, "I don't understand ... I really don't understand."

"You should understand." Ma KongQun replied coldly. He slowly lifted his head and stared at the mural of galloping horses on the wall.

"This empire is mine! Anyone who dares to try and snatch it from my hands will die!"

Yun ZaiTian's expression sunk, he let out a sigh and said, "So you know everything."

"I've long known about everything."

"Seems like I've underestimated you." Yun ZaiTian sneered.

"Like I said earlier, many things in this world are like dust. It can be right by your side but you still wouldn't be able to see it -- you've evaded my eyes for a very long time."

Yun ZaiTian started to sweat profusely, he gritted his teeth and said with a smile, "But the sunlight will always shine through."

Although he was smiling, that expression was more painful than tears.

"So now do you understand?"

"Now I do."

Ma KongQun let out a sigh and remarked, "You shouldn't have betrayed me. You should've understood how a person like me felt."

A strange smile suddenly came over Yun ZaiTian's face as he replied, "Yes, I have betrayeed you, but ..."

Before he could finish his words, his eyes turned towards Hua MenTian. But it was too late, Hua MenTian's sword had already plunged into his chest, pinning his body against the wall.

He would never be able to finish that sentence.

Hua MenTian slowly pulled out his sword. Yun ZaiTian's body slid to the floor.

Everyone falls sooner or later. No matter how great someone is, we all look the same when we fall.


- END CHAPTER 14 -