Xiao Jian’s eyes widened and he stared at her incredulously.
“Here’s your bottle back!” Feng Xi said as she threw the bottle at Xiao Jian and proceeded to pat her wet hands on his shoulders. “Let me borrow your clothes to dry my hands again!”
Xiao Jian immediately felt his shoulders dampen with two wet handprints.
“The roast duck’s mine!” Feng Xi claimed as she quickly dashed towards the carpet. With a stretch of her hand, she grabbed onto the leg of the roast duck and brought it to her lips. After a big bite, half of the meat had entered her belly.
“Ah!” Han Piao, who was still focused on Xiao Jian’s eyes, finally came back to his senses. He quickly ran over and sat down on the carpet with his hands out-stretched. “These two honey-glazed chicken thighs are mine(younger brother’s)!”
“This plate of soy glazed shrimp is mine!”
“This plate of fu rong cake is mine(younger brother’s)!”
“This box of Zi yun cookies is mine!”
And just like that, they divided up the food on the carpet, one by one. Each time they laid claim to a dish, they would glance up at Xiao Jian and were pleased to watch the faint shade of blue in his eyes darken until it became as blue as the clear skies.
“Jian, you seem to be very easily provoked today,” Huang Chao quietly observed as he took a seat on the side. Jian was calm and quiet by nature; rarely did he ever lose his temper. Yet unexpectedly, today he had gotten angry, time and time again. Huang Chao couldn’t help but sigh as he thought that these two(FX and HP) were truly something else.
Startled by Huang Chao’s remark, Xiao Jian got a hold of himself. He took a deep breath and tried to restore his composure. Slowly, the blue shade of his eyes grew dim until it finally disappeared without a trace.
“Oh! It’s.. gone!” With a mouthful of food, Han Piao’s words were unclearly spoken but his tone held a trace of disappointment at the disappearance of Xiao Jian’s blue eyes.
“Xiao Jian, do you have any other names?” Feng Xi suddenly asked as she looked at him, then squinted up towards the sky. “Like Xue Kong(Snowy Skies) or something. Your eyes resemble the blue skies above a snowy field, clear and pristine. Very beautiful, very beautiful!”
Caught off guard by her remark, Xiao Jian stared at Feng Xi for some time, then quietly replied, “Xue Kong is my courtesy name.”
“Sure enough.” Feng Xi nodded with a smile as she gazed at him. Then, she went back to devouring her food. “You shouldn’t wear these snow-white robes. They make you look as frosty as a snowman. It makes people dare not get too close to you in fear of becoming frozen or melting the snow. Hmm…. you’re more suited with the color blue, blue as the sky,” she commented as she pointed a greasy finger up at the sky.
This time, Xiao Jian did not reply and merely glanced up at the sky. In his eyes, the clear, blue skies were reflected along with the white clouds that occasionally passed by.
Huang Chao did not comment, just quietly observing the two devour food like two hungry tigers. Watching them, his eyes lit with amusement and contemplation.
Suddenly, Feng Xi paused and glanced to the right briefly before immediately directing her attention back to eating again.
At the same time, Huang Chao also glanced ahead and immediately his expression changed. The idle look in his eyes faded and his expression grew solemn.
On the other hand, Xiao Jian had already taken off. His figure had swiftly disappeared in a flash.
Only Han Piao was oblivious as he continued to eat and drink without reservations.
Moments later, Xiao Jian had returned, carrying a man on his back while 5 other men in blue followed behind him.
“Greetings to gongzi!”
As soon as the five men arrived, they knelt down and paid respects to Huang Chao. The man on Xiao Jian’s back also struggled down to the ground to do the same.
“All of you, rise,” Huang Chao lightly commanded as he swept his gaze over them. Several were injured, especially the person who had returned on Xiao Jian’s back. His blue clothes were dyed crimson red near his abdomen.
“Jian, take care of their wounds first,” Huang Chao instructed as he flourished his sleeve and the men kneeling on the ground couldn’t help but all stand.
“Yes.” Xiao Jian then gestured to the four men behind Huang Chao and they all stepped forward to help the six men sit down and bandage their wounds.
“Gongzi.” The man that was injured most severely however, regardless of the pain he was in, insisted on getting up and making his way over to Huang Chao. With trembling hands, he pulled out a blue brocade cloth-wrapped pouch from within his chest and knelt down on one knee as he presented it with both hands raised.
Huang Chao accepted the pouch but was not in any rush to unwrap it. He motioned to Xiao Jian to help the man up as he gazed at the pouch with eyes flashing with light. But then, as if he had recalled something very important, he directed his gaze at the man and questioned, “Where’s General Yan?”
The man’s hands were originally trembling, but now they were shaking violently. He lifted his head and faced Huang Chao with eyes welled with tears. Bearing with the pain, he answered in a shaky voice, “General Yan…. he’s….gone.”
“What?” Huang Chao responded, swaying slightly as if he had been sitting unsteadily. In the next moment, he stood and immediately went up and grabbed the man’s shoulder with his left hand. His gaze was blazing and sharp, like a blade forged in fire. He stated, “Say that again!”
“Gongzi, General Yan died in Mt. Xuan back in Bai Kingdom!” Enduring the gripping pain on his shoulder, he answered clearly as tears fell over and trickled down his face.
When Huang Chao heard this, he released the man. He stood upright, looking straight ahead with his lips tightly pressed and his face expressionless. Only his golden brown eyes moved as his pupils constricted.
The sound came from Xiao Jian’s sword. Bulging with blue veins, the hand holding the sword was shaking, making his wide sleeve tremble in concert. His head was hung low and his snow-white hair flickered though the wind was absent.
As for Feng Xi, when Huang Chao had asked about Yan Ying Zhou’s whereabouts, the roasted duck leg in her hand dropped to the ground. But she didn’t pick it back up, nor did she reach for anything else to eat. Her eyes were somewhat blurry, as if covered by a layer of mist.
At this time, Han Piao felt there was something amiss. He stopped eating and quietly inched closer to Feng Xi. Seeing her expression, he couldn’t help but worry and pulled anxiously at her sleeve as he inquired, “Sister?”
Feng Xi lifted her head to look at him and gave a faint smile of reassurance. But when Han Piao saw her smile, he felt as though it carried traces of weariness and sorrow, as if her smile had traveled through thousands of twists and turns of thousands of mountains and rivers.
“Ying Zhou!” Huang Chao finally spoke after a long silence. His hand could not help but grip the brocade cloth -wrapped pouch even tighter as his eyes rippled with waves and glimmered with light.
“Yes!” One of the four men who was helping with bandaging wounds stood and bowed his head.
“The four of you escort the six of them back,” Huang Chao ordered as he turned around.
“Yes!” Xiao Xi replied.
“Jian, you and I shall head to Mt. Xuan,” Huang Chao continued to order.
“Gongzi, since you’ve gotten the seal, you should let Xiao Xi and them escort you back home. As for Ying Zhou …..I will go on my own,” Xiao Jian dissuaded with his head bowed.
Huang Chao gazed at the cloth pouch in his hand as he smiled sadly. “Before he left, Ying Zhou vowed he would certainly return with the seal. Since he didn’t fail me, how can I fail him?”
“Gongzi, it’s dangerous to go now. You can’t take the risk…” Xiao Jian wanted to dissuade again but Huang Chao raised a hand to stop him.
“I’ve made up my mind. You don’t have to dissuade me any more! This trip to Mt. Xuan, I’d like to see who dares to steal the seal from my hands!” he said imperiously.
“Xiao Xi, you escort the six of them back. Once you return, send a message to Xiao Chi and his ten men so that they can come and join me quickly!” Xiao Jian instructed after realizing he couldn’t dissuade Huang Chao.
“Yes!” Xiao Xi responded. The four men then assisted the six that were injured and left.
Huang Chao sighed and turned around. He then walked over and stood in front of Feng Xi. Lifting the pouch in the hand, he asked, “Miss, do you know what this is?”
Feng Xi stood but spared no glance at the pouch and instead raised her head to look up at the sky. With a faint smile, she replied, “Isn’t this the Xuan Zun Seal that’s even filthier than me?”
“Filthy?” Huang Chao didn’t expect she would use such a word to describe the treasure that everyone in the world wanted to get their hands on.
“This has passed through countless hands, stained with endless blood. Is it not filthy?” Feng Xi asked as she turned to look at him with a complicated look in her eyes.
Ha ha….Miss is indeed an extraordinary person!”
With a smile, Huang Chao began to unwrap the cloth pouch. When the last layer was uncovered, a long black token was unveiled. Approximately 9 cun(unit of length) long, the token was bitingly cold to the touch. On the front, the four characters, Zhi Zhun Xuan Ling(Supreme Seal), were inscribed while on the back a dragon soaring through the clouds was engraved. Beneath the sunlight, the token gave off a lustrous black radiance.
“This is the Xuan Zun Seal crafted from the black iron ore collected from the bottom of the seafloor when the first Emperor extinguished the Beihai Kingdom?!” Huang Chao’s fingers gently glided over the token and his eyes glimmered with joy. “The Xuan Zun Seal that’s 9 cun(unit of length), 9 fen(unit of length) long, that weights 9 jiu(unit of weight) and 9 liang(unit of weight). The 99(eternal) supreme Xuan Zun Seal!”
“It’s just a filthy seal, but has enticed the souls of countless heroes,” Feng Xi remarked as she directed a cold, mocking glance at this Xuan Zun Seal which had taken the lives of countless people.
“You have a point. It’s really filthy, but…” Huang Chao said as he raised the seal which radiated with a brilliant light. “But on a different aspect, this seal is also regarded as the most sacred, most revered object in the world!”
“Haha…you also believe that this seal can command the world? ” Feng Xi sneered.
“Command the world? Ha ha… ” Huang Chao looked up to the sky and laughed, “This seal can’t command the world, only people can command the world! This seal is merely a symbol! Xuan Zun seal is a symbol that represents the Emperor; Xuan Mo seal is a symbol that represents the kings of the seven kingdoms! With the seal in my hands, I’m Mandated by Heaven to become Emperor. As for whether I’m able to command the world or not, that depends all on my ability! Me, Hoang Chao!”
Feng Xi silently stared at Huang Chao who was smiling proudly. At this time, he radiated a kind of peerless aura, like a giant capable of swallowing the whole sky with his mouth and shaking the whole earth with the stomp of his foot, incomparably commanding.
Xiao Jian gazed at his master with eyes full of reverence. Only such a great, majestic person could make him a willing subordinate. Only such a person was fitted to command the world!
Han Piao was also gazing at Huang Chao with wide eyes. His little heart was filled with admiration. This domineering man wanted to hold the whole world in the palm of his hands; this was a man that was hard to come by.
“In the future, whether you’re able to command the world or not, you’ll certainly become a person well-known throughout history!” Feng Xi said with a voice that held a rare sense of admiration.
“That is without a doubt!” Huang Chao replied with conviction.
“Oh, how confident!” Feng Xi laughed softly. “But in my opinion, you only hold a fifty percent chance.”
“Why only fifty percent?” Huang Chao asked with brows raised.
“I heard there’s an unfinished game of chess at the summit of Mt. Cang Mang. Have you heard of it before?” Feng Xi asked as she gazed into the far distance. “Accompanying that unfinished game of chess are two verses engraved on the board, “An outcome awaits on Cang Mang; heroes gather in conquest of supreme rule.” Legend has it that the unfinished game of chess and those two verses were left behind by the heavens which foretells of two peerless heroes who shall contend for the world. If Shizi(heir of a noble family) is one of them, that means that the other person contending with you must be of rivaling ability. If that’s the case, isn’t it only fifty percent?”
“What’s more, heroes emerge during troubled times. Judging from the current situation, there’s not just one person who can play this game of chess with Shizi!” Feng Xi said as she turned around and gazed directly at Huang Chao. Though a lazy smile lingered on her lips, her eyes were bright, gleaming with insight and wisdom, as if the whole world was reflected in her eyes. “There’s also Princess Xi Yun with the Feng Yun troops, King Hua with his Jin Yi troops, and Prince Lan Xi with the Mo Yu troops. All are outstanding talents in the world. Can you say that they don’t have the ability to contend with you? Moreover, the world is so big, there are countless hidden dragons and crouching tigers. There’s a myriad of heroes who can fight against you, shizi.”
“Hahaha… If it’s as you say, then I don’t even hold a fifty percent chance. Perhaps the two who shall contend on the summit of Mt. Cang Mang may not have me at all!” Listening to her, Huang Chao was not discouraged in the least. He avidly held out his arms as if embracing heaven and earth and stated, “I will certainly visit Mt. Cang Mang and see that game of chess. But I don’t believe in any messages left by the heavens. I only believe in myself! Things that I, Huang Chao, want to accomplish, will certainly get accomplished! I will hold the world in my hands!”
“Then I look forward to seeing who will be the winner on the summit of Mt. Cang Mang!” Feng Xi said with a languid smile.
“The one standing at the summit of Mt. Cang Mang will be me, Huang Chao!” he said with a lofty look in his gaze as he exuded with heroic spirit.
“Haha…I’ve wandered the Jianghu for ten years but you are the most arrogant and confident person I have ever seen!” Feng Xi said. She then gave a lazy yawn and went over to hold onto Han Piao. She then turned to face Huang Chao with a bright smile as her feet grew light and their figures floated backwards. “I look forward to seeing you at the summit of Mt. Cang Mang and not your tomb on Mt. Xuan!”
In a flash, their two figures had disappeared.
“Thanks for your concern, Miss.” Huang Chao said in a loud voice, “What I desire, no one, nor thing in this world can stop me! I will level a path leading to Mt. Cang Mang!”
“I will level a path leading to Mt. Cang Mang!”
Echoing in the desolate mountains, this sentence could be heard for the longest time.
- the number 9 is usually regarded as a lucky number in Asia. And in China, the number 9 is usually associated with longevity and everlasting. Thus, that’s probably why the seal is 9 in length, width, and weight.