Read A Step into the Past Chapter 254, Please!
Book 23 Chapter 01 – She’s Married
Xiang Shaolong’s mind entered a psychic realm and became as still as water. His footsteps developed into a regular momentum, as if he is marching to an invisible rhythm. Concurrently, he can accurately sense the speed and distance of his approaching attacker.
Ever since he travelled to this period of the Warring States via the time machine, not a single day goes by without him using a weapon to some extent. As a result, he is acutely familiar with the different types of weapons in this era. Focusing on his hearing abilities, he instantly rejected his earlier hypothesis that his a.s.sailant is using a spear. Instead, he concluded that the enemy is wielding a long halberd.
A halberd is a combination weapon, as it can be used to stab like a spear or slash like a sabre. It is a piercing weapon that also allows for a hook attack. Thus, the swishing sound of the weapon is obviously unlike that of a spear.
Xiang Shaolong is dying to turn around and have a look but acknowledges that if he does that, he would fail to deploy his strategy of unpredictability. Moreover, it will only irk his opponent to increase his speed in a fierce a.s.sault.
A strong gust of wind came blowing and Xiang Shaolong nearly had to close his eyes because of the snow and rain peppering his face
The resonating of the halberd became m.u.f.fled against the noisy wind.
Presently, the rider is about seven metres behind him. If the a.s.sa.s.sin chooses to utilize his full strength, his crushing blow will land on Xiang Shaolong in the blink of an eye.
Out of the blue, like the sound of lightning striking the ground from behind, a voice reverberated: “Shen Liang, prepare to meet your maker!”
Xiang Shaolong instantaneously closed his eyes and took a step to his right, standing in the lane meant for horses and carriages. His right hand released its grip on the sword handle as his left hand simultaneously drew out his sword.
All along, he has been walking slowly on the pavement to the left and was clutching his sword with his right hand. Any potential aggressor attacking from the back would expect him to shift to the left side, increasing the distance between the two of them and using his right hand to draw out his sword to parry any incoming blows. Unexpectedly, Xiang Shaolong chose to do the exact opposite, stepping to his right onto the vehicle lane, resulting in the enemy’s long halberd stabbing in the wrong direction.
A miss is as good as a mile.
Furthermore, this is a life and death situation.
The man cried out in surprise and tried to alter the direction of the attack but it was too late.
Without turning his head back, Xiang Shaolong used a backhand move and stabbed the backside of the horse as it dashed past him.
The warhorse whinnied in pain and wildly sprinted ahead, nearly throwing the rider off.
Watching the single a.s.sailant disappear into the snow and rain as if he is running for his life, Xiang Shaolong was greatly humoured.
Winning this battle appears to be easy on the surface but it is requires courage, critical timing and perfect coordination between body movement and footwork.
The sudden gust of wind and snow is a blessing in disguise.
Although Xiang Shaolong himself is slightly blinded, his opponent who is riding against the wind would feel a much greater impact. Otherwise, it would be much more challenging for Xiang Shaolong to execute this strategy.
Returning his sword to its sheath, Xiang Shaolong tunneled through a horizontal alley and walked briskly for quite a distance in the direction towards Xie Residence. He got to his destination within an hour.
Reporting his name to the family warriors guarding the front gate, he was led into the property and told to wait at the external sitting room.
The serving maids were bearing strange expressions on their faces as they scrutinized him and whispered among themselves as if he is an eccentric creature who came out of nowhere.
Under their direct stares, Xiang Shaolong was feeling out of place when Xie Ziyuan suddenly appeared with an ashen face. After dismissing the servants, he sat down beside him and uttered in a soft voice: “This time round, we have picked a bad timing. Someone has reported to my wife about my visit to the brothel last night. She just threw a tantrum and nearly laid her hand on me. Brother Shen, you must leave while you can. She would not believe our words right now.”
Xiang Shaolong was sympathetic: “In this case, I will look for Brother Xie two days later.”
Pulling him to his feet, Xie Ziyuan hurried: “Quickly!”
As the two men hastily walked towards the main gate, a shrill voice screeched from behind: “Where do you think you are going!”
Xie Ziyuan’s entire body shook once and he froze on the spot as if his acupoints has been blocked
Filled with disbelief, Xiang Shaolong was badly shaken as well and was stunned on the spot.
Accompanied by the sound of her tinkering accessories, Xie Ziyuan’s shrew wife came to the back of both men and coldly laughed: “Where are you going? Do you think I am in the dark about the conspiracy between the two of you?”
She shrieked: “Xie Quan, come here you 1diot. I want you to tell me everything that happened last night. EVERYTHING. I guarantee that nothing will happen to you.”
Xie Ziyuan felt like he was struck by lightning for even the last servant loyal to himself has switched sides.
Xie Quan suddenly appeared and kneeled down, confessing in a quivering voice: “Young Master! Your servant was forced to betray you.”
Turning around like robot, Xie Ziyuan looked as if he is going to burst out crying. He declared: “This is wholly my idea and has nothing to do with Brother Shen.”
With his back still facing Xie Ziyuan’s wife, Xiang Shaolong’s heart is intertwined in countless knots, for he recognized the voice of Xie Ziyuan’s wife to be Shan Rou whom he once deeply love.
She has finally given up her dream of leading a wandering lifestyle, returning back to her roots, becoming the Mistress of the Xie household and even giving birth to two sons.
His only wish right now is to leave the Xie Residence without looking back so that Shan Rou would never know that he did came by.
He could instinctively understand why Xie Ziyuan loved her and feared her simultaneously. Frankly speaking, that is the ‘kick’ Shan Rou gives to men.
Until today, he has fond memories of his dalliances with Shan Rou.
He is touched at Xie Ziyuan’s gesture of ‘brotherhood loyalty’ for shouldering all the blame upon himself.
His mind wanted to leave but he could not lift his foot to take a single step.
Turning his attention to Xiang Shaolong, Shan Rou scolded: “You are named Shen Liang right? You look so tall and muscular but you are acting like a coward. Do you lack the guts to turn around and face me?”
The crowd of servants began giggling among themselves
Xiang Shaolong calmly pleaded: “Would Mistress Xie please invite everyone else to leave the hall? Shen Liang (I) would like to talk to you privately on behalf of Brother Xie.”
Xie Ziyuan swiftly interrupted: “This matter does not concern Brother Shen. Dear wifey, can you let Brother Shen go? If you want to punish someone, let me be the one.”
To everyone’s astonishment, Shan Rou turned speechless and was fixated on the spot as if her acupoints are blocked.
Xiang Shaolong can feel Shan Rou’s piercing gaze on his back and his heart is filled with an indescribable feeling.
As everyone present is in a state of bewilderment, Shan Rou commanded: “Everyone get the he11 out of here.”
Xie Ziyuan was traumatized: “Does hubby (I) have to leave too?”
Shan Rou shouted: “Hubby my @rse, you better be the first to scram!”
In a split second, everyone has cleanly left, leaving only the two of them in the s.p.a.cious hall.
Shan Rou’s excited and fast breathing can be heard from behind as Xiang Shaolong gradually turned his body around. As the four eyes exchanged glances, both parties shuddered as if they were being electrocuted. Shan Rou has put on some weight but is far more enchanting than before.
Shan Rou took two steps towards him and stopped, excruciatingly trying to suppress the urge to throw herself into Xiang Shaolong’s arms.
Xiang Shaolong felt as if his throat is entangled. He has so many things to tell her but did not know where to start. Ultimately, he let out a long sigh, shaking his head with a bitter smile and strode towards the main door.
Shan Rou tried to catch up by taking two steps forward, softly calling: “Shaolong!”
Over ten pairs of eyes are now focused at him. Regardless whether they are servants or family warriors, every single person’s mouth is wide open with surprise that Xiang Shaolong managed to come out of the hall unscathed and with his clothes in a tidy manner.
Xie Ziyuan extracted himself from the crowd and put his hand around Xiang Shaolong’s shoulder as he led him towards the main gate. “What did Brother Shen tell her?” He asked excitedly.
Xiang Shaolong spouted nonsense: “Sister in law (polite way to address) is domineering to some extent but she can be quite understanding if you talk to her nicely. I explained to her the simile: The more she oppresses you, the more resistance she can expect in return. For example, if she allows Brother Xie to fool around, I guarantee Brother Xie will grow tired of it after some time.”
Xie Ziyuan wondered: “Why would I grow tired of fooling around? What is her reaction?”
Xiang Shaolong lied: “She says she wants to think it over.”
Xie Ziyuan was overjoyed: “It is a miraculous 180 degrees turn! Can Brother Shen stay and accompany me for a chat?”
Right now, Xiang Shaolong is feeling depressed as if his intestines are all entangled together. Therefore he is certainly not in the mood for idle chatter. He intentionally threatened: “The first thing you should do now is to obediently spend more time accompanying Sister in Law. Otherwise, she may have the impression that you are still up to no good and would not even consider letting you fool around.”
Xie Ziyuan was thunderstruck and hastily withdrew his hand from Xiang Shaolong’s arm. His expression is priceless.
Waving his goodbye, Xiang Shaolong walked to the main road. The sky is filled with falling rain and snow.
He felt lost.
Ever since he came to Lin Zi, he has been trying ways and means to locate Shan Rou. He did not antic.i.p.ate meeting her under such circ.u.mstances and moreover, she is the wife of another man.
Xie Ziyuan should be a good husband. Aye!
In the past, when Mei Canniang got married to another man, he did not undergo any emotional turmoil, as their love has no depth.
But he did love Shan Rou intensely.
He respects Shan Rou’s decision. Furthermore, he himself has a fulfilling marriage and a complete family. The only issue is he is now far away in Qi, a foreign territory, and it is easy for feelings of loneliness and the desire for companionship to arise. As a result, he is feeling disheartened as he could not continue his previous relationship with Shan Rou.
As the wind and snow a.s.sault his face in a cold and hurting manner, he felt as if he had just woken up from a dream.
After heaving another breath, Xiang Shaolong started making his way back to his accommodation.
Let bygones be bygones!
He sincerely wished Shan Rou happiness and is relieved that she has given up her plan for revenge.
Back at the guesthouse, Xiao Yuetan has been waiting for him for some time. Observing his early return, he was astonished: “I heard your men saying that you would be back late in the night and was about to take my leave. Eek. Why are you wearing such an ugly expression on your face?”
Pulling Xiao Yuetan into his room and after they both sat down, Xiang Shaolong began: “You should have heard of Shan Rou, right? She is (Zhao Zhi) Zhi Zhi’s blood sister and we used to be lovers. She is presently married to Xie Ziyuan.”
Xiao Yuetan was stupefied: “Another coincidence!”
Not wishing to dwell on this matter, Xiang Shaolong changed the topic and enquired about Zou Yan. With a puzzled expression, Xiao Yuetan revealed: “Grandmaster Zou has wandered off looking for a suitable burial plot for himself. He hasn’t been home for several days.”
Xiang Shaolong can feel his heart throbbing with pain and did not know what to reply to that.
Xiao Yuetan lowered his voice: “Lu Buwei has arrived this afternoon by ship. He is accompanied by Han Jie and Xu Shang.”
Xiang Shaolong was mystified: “Isn’t Han Jie working for Lao Ai?”
Xiao Yuetan articulated: “From this gesture, we can conclude that Lu Buwei and Lao Ai are in cahoots with each other. Han Jie is one of the four top disciples of Qixia Sword Saint. With him paving the way, the swordsmen of Qixia may align themselves with Lu Buwei and Tian Dan. This could potentially tip the balance in power.”
Pausing for a while, he continued: “Based on Lu Buwei’s method of scheming, he would definitely try to give the King of Qi the impression that appointing Tian Jian as the next Crown Prince will be detrimental to the relationship between Qin and Qi. If Cao Cuidao were to side with First Prince Tian Sheng and Tian Dan, it would not be unexpected if Tian Jian is the loser in this power tussle.”
Xiang Shaolong could not be bothered: “Whoever wins or lose is Qi’s internal affairs. My utmost concern is how to a.s.sist these beauties of the Song & Dance Troupe to realize their dreams. Lu Buwei can do whatever he wants to.”
Xiao Yuetan was taken aback: “It is indeed rare to see Shaolong so despondent. Don’t you find any meaning in tripping Lu Buwei up? Please have a good night’s rest, for you may change your mindset when you wake up tomorrow.”
Xiang Shaolong bitterly laughed: Unless I can reappear as Xiang Shaolong, otherwise, it would be impossible to exert influence over the King of Qi. But if I do so, it would be openly inviting Lu Buwei to scheme against myself. Oh! I forgot to tell you. Both Li Yuan and Lord Longyang have seen through my disguise.”
Xiao Yuetan speedily pressed for details and after Xiang Shaolong finished telling his story, Xiao Yuetan gleefully cheered: “In this case, the situation is far from bleak. For the time being, the greatest fear of Qi is an alliance between Chu and the Three States (Han Zhao Wei), suppressing their ambitions towards Yan. As long as Tian Dan do not directly confront you, our job would be much easier!”
Xiang Shaolong was in a dilemma: “Whenever there are gains, some losses would inevitable be incurred. As Xiang Shaolong, Lu Buwei, Tian Dan or even Guo Kai would start to plot against me. If I continue to masquerade as Shen Liang, I would have to contend against the likes of Zongsun Long as well as the swordsmen of Qi. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
The sound of knocking can be heard. It turned out to be Little Ping’er who is here on Feng Fei’s orders, inviting Xiang Shaolong for a meeting. After Xiao Yuetan whispered ‘see you tomorrow’ and took his leave, Xiang Shaolong followed Little Ping’er to see Feng Fei.
Feng Fei is playing a zither on the second storey of the main block with full concentration, filling the air with subtle, divine music as if it came from the nine heavens itself. Until Xiang Shaolong sat down opposite her, she did not show any signs of knowing that he has arrived.
After Little Ping’er excused herself to the lower floor, Xiang Shaolong half-slouched, half-sat on a soft cushion, feasting his eyes on this beauty’s attractiveness and immersing himself in the celestial music. His disenchantment over Shan Rou decreased by about 30%.
Strumming the zither strings, Feng Fei let loose another series of melodies before stopping in an instant. Lifting her pretty head to meet his gaze, she quizzed with her eyes shining: “Does Mister Shen recognise this part?”
Xiang Shaolong was in a daze and shook his head in a flabbergasted manner.
Feng Fei sweetly chirped: “This is a combination of melodies I extracted and edited from snippets of your songs. You ah! How can you miss it?”
Xiang Shaolong awkwardly scratched his head: “I really cannot distinguish my songs from your melodies. Why is this so?”
Feng Fei gently cooed: “I obviously cannot religiously follow your original tune. After several modifications, this is the final outcome! Do you like it?”
This is the first time Feng Fei is cajoling Xiang Shaolong, surprising him. He praised: “Mistress is truly talented. Have you a.s.sign new song tunes for the Birthday routine? ”
Her lovely eyes gazing at the snowy night outside her window, Feng Fei sighed: “Do you know I just realized that it has been snowing heavily outside? After listening to your bizarre tunes, Feng Fei (I) felt as if I am possessed, churning out one new song after another. It is unbelievably easy.”
Xiang Shaolong was ecstatic: “My heartiest congratulations to Mistress.”
Shifting her gaze back his face, she sharpened her stare and mused: “What kind of man are you, seriously?”
Xiang Shaolong snorted: “I have arms, legs, eyes, ears, a mouth and a nose, just like everybody else.”
Feng Fei observed: “But in my eyes, you are like an immortal from heaven, coming down to earth to help those in need. Aye! If immortals truly exist, that would be so wonderful. There are too many frustrating issues plaguing humans. Sometimes, I would even hate myself.”
After some contemplation, Xiang Shaolong nodded: “It is true that certain things in life are rather annoying but in the eyes of many others, Mistress is regarded as an unreachable sacred being, light years away from themselves. Being able fall beneath your skirt is already an unmatchable honour.”
Feng Fei shifted her body to lean on a cushion, giggling: “Your descriptive proverbs are really weird. What is ‘unreachable sacred being, light years, fall beneath my skirt’? Aye! Feng Fei is only an ordinary person too. I only feel superior to others when it comes to creating music and performing.”
Following her statement, she glanced at him with her starry eyes and pleaded: “Would you please stay for the night and accompany me for a night of chit-chatting? Every time I have a new composition, I would have difficulty sleeping and moreover, I usually lack a friend I can confide in.”
Xiang Shaolong had quite a scare at her suggestion and he warily cautioned: “Ultimately, I am a lowly servant. Wouldn’t it invite rumours if I spend the night in Mistress’s bedroom?”
Feng Fei grumbled: “Where was the same display of courage two nights ago? If it was another man in your shoes under the present circ.u.mstances, he would not leave even if I try to chase him out.”
Xiang Shaolong bitterly laughed: “Ever since I know that Mistress’s secret admirer is Xiang Shaolong, I have become more and more jittery. In the near future when we arrive at Xianyang and if he learns that I did spend a night in Mistress’s bedroom, even if nothing happened between us, my life would be in jeopardy. Mistress, do you agree with me?”
Feng Fei was speechless and did not know how to reply to that.
Xiang Shaolong was amused. This is called: Using your words against yourself. It is indeed preposterous to use her ‘Xiang Shaolong’ to suppress himself, the authentic ‘Xiang Shaolong’.
After some time, Feng Fei lamented: “All along, I have the impression that men are fearless when it concerns matters of the fairer s.e.x. Why are you such a bold character on other issues but is acting like a coward in this field.”
Pretending to be surprised, Xiang Shaolong wondered: “Judging from the tone of Mistress, it seems like we would be doing much more than idle chatter by the candlelight.”
With a girly chortle ‘Pu Ci’, Feng Fei enticingly batted her eyes at him, cheerfully stating: “Talking to you is so meaningful. For the longest time, only I, Feng Fei, get to tease other men. To think that now, you are the one teasing me instead. Bring it on!”
Xiang Shaolong was astounded: “Bring what on?”
Feng Fei’s mouth curled up seductively and suggested: “My dear manager, please help me take off my shoes first? ”
Xiang Shaolong glanced at her for a short spell and whispered: “Mistress, are you serious about this? Once we start the ball rolling it would be difficult to stop. By then, it would be impossible even if Mistress wants to back out.”
He is not kidding. With a beautiful disposition to match Ji Yanran and Qin Qing, together with her strong intention to seduce, even a meditating monk would be tempted by her, not to mention him, Xiang Shaolong.
Out of the blue, the wind and snow outside, coupled with the lantern-covered candle light, on top of the warm feeling from the burning firepot strengthened the already romantic and inviting atmosphere in the room by several times.
Scanning her blossoming beauty, refined brows, seducing aura, protruding b.r.e.a.s.t.s and slender waists, the temptation is simply irresistible.
Feng Fei shot him a look, clarifying: “Manager Shen is thinking too much. Before climbing onto my bed and going to sleep, I would need to take off my shoes first. Since Little Ping’er is not around, I shall have to trouble you instead!”
Xiang Shaolong was so angry he nearly burst his arteries. Gnashing his teeth, he shifted forward, using his hand to support her right foot.
Feng Fei let out a surprise wail, frowning: “Manager Shen, can you please be more gentle?”
Xiang Shaolong can feel his own breathing quickening. Using his left hand to support her foot, his right hand slithered north, softly caressing her flawless calf, sighing: “A shining example of: as smooth and white as jade.”
Feng Fei’s body shuddered in response to his touch. Closing her eyes halfway, she lightly approved: “As long as your hand do not move any further up, I don’t mind letting you take advantage of me like this. Take it that I am rewarding you for helping me solve this problem.”
Xiang Shaolong was infuriated: “Judging from Mistress’s words, are you instigating me to progress further?” As he spoke, he vulgarly shifted his hand further up her leg.
As Feng Fei felt Xiang Shaolong’s hand slide past her kneecaps, exploring her out-of-bounds thigh, she let out a squeal and pressed down his hand underneath the fabric of her dress.
Xiang Shaolong withdrew his hand in a flash and gingerly took off her two cotton shoes with an official expression. He then proceeded to ma.s.sage her feet, causing Feng Fei’s body to turn into jelly and her pupils began to dilate.
In one swift movement, Xiang Shaolong lifted her in his arms and strode towards her bedroom.
Feng Fei tightly embraced his neck, fragrantly puffing beside his ear, hissing: “You are going to land Feng Fei in hot soup!”
Xiang Shaolong was confused: “How is that possible?”
Feng Fei protested: “If you make me fall in love with you, wouldn’t that land me in hot soup?”
Xiang Shaolong came to his senses and secretly gave thanks for this close shave. He should not have a physical relationship with this beauty whose heart belonged to another man. Otherwise, it would only complicate matters and result in unbearable consequences.
After tucking her in, Xiang Shaolong lowered his head and gave her a kiss on the lips before warmly rea.s.suring: “Mistress can put your mind at ease! Whenever I remind myself you are Xiang Shaolong’s woman, even if I have ten times more guts, I would not dare to lay a finger on you.”
After speaking, he quickly left as if he is running for his life.