The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 13

Wanyan Kang wanted to cuddle and sweet-talk with her a while, half hoping that she would change her mind and agree to take the golden seal to Prime Minister Shi but he felt her body shaking and her breathing was hard, signaling that she was worked up. He did not expect her to say anything like that and was in shock for a moment but Mu Nianci had already stood up and walked out of the door.

After she came out, Huang Rong again guided her and Mu Nianci ran till she saw a wall leading to the outskirts of the manor. Before she left, she called out softly, “ Since senior does not want to show himself or herself, junior here will just have to look into the sky and express my gratitude.”

With that, she kneeled on the ground and kowtowed three times. She heard a gentle giggle and a clear voice spoke out, “ Ah, I cannot accept this!”

When she raised her head, she only saw stars in the sky and the surroundings were deserted. Mu Nianci was puzzled and thought that the voice sounded like Huang Rong’s but how can she be here and how would she know the way through this confusing place? She pondered on this matter as she walked on but was not able to come up with an explanation. After walking about ten miles from the manor, she decided to rest under a large tree and wait for the boat to bring her to Suzhou the next day.

Suzhou is a busy Southeast district and although it isnt’t comparable to the capital of Hangzhou, it is still a prosperous and booming city. The Song officials in the South were also given rule over the territory of Jiangnan, and had almost forgotten about the sufferings of the people under the Jins in the North since the cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou were rich and prosperous. There was a saying ‘Heaven above, Su Hang below’ indicating the importance and grandeur of these two cities. Actually, the River Huai is the source of wealth and also a symbol of beauty for these two cities in the south. Mu Nianci admired the colorful scenes in the city before settling down in an inn. She then started to carefully carve the words Wanyan kang told her to do so on his belt. She thought how recent the belt had left its owner and prayed for Wanyan kang’s safety, hoping that the belt will return back to its owner once more. She secretly wished that Wanyan Kang would come to his senses and marry her and that she would personally wear the belt for him.

After dreaming awhile, she wore the belt beneath her robe and couldn’t help thinking, “ This belt is like his arm, wrapping around my waist.” She immediately blushed and didn’t dare think more. After eating a quick bowl of noodles, she saw the sun heading to the west and she hurriedly travel towards the north, following Wanyan Kang’s instructions to find his teacher.

The road to the hill was deserted, Mu Nianci felt uneasy when she heard weird sounds made by the birds and the sun had started to set. She left the main path and went to the back valley of the hill to search for the skulls, which Wanyan Kang had asked her to search for, but it had slowly turned to nightfall and she was still unable to find them. She mulled over the matter and decided to continue the search the next day. With that, she went nearby to see if there was any place in which she could seek shelter for the night. She ran up a mound and looked out in the distance; it was then that she spotted a manor towards the west. She was relieved and immediately rushed there.

As she approached the place, she realised that the manor was actually a run downed temple and there was a signboard above the door, which read ‘Temple Earth’. She pushed open the door gently and the door gave a creak before dropping down, fluffing up a pile of dust. It was then that Mu Nianci realized that it was an abandoned temple where no one lived in. She walked into the hall and saw cobwebs on the statutes of mother and father earth. She pressed on a table and gave a blow but found that the table was still steady and did not break. Thus, she found some hay to clean the table and went on to place the broken door back into position. She ate some dried snacks before lying on the table and slept with her bag as her pillow. She could not help but feel heartbroken and ashamed when she thought about Wanyan Kang’s personality and tears rowed down her cheeks. But when she thought about his gentleness and honey words, she felt a tint of sweetness in her heart. She thought about many things and tossed a million times before she finally able to fall asleep.

In the middle of the night, Mu Nianci heard a funny noise; she was alarmed and sat upright as the noise grew louder. She hurried to the door and peered out. It was then that she got a shock of her life as the moonlight shone onto the ground, revealing thousands of snakes gliding throughout the floor; a stench came in from the main door. After a long while, the snakes began to lessen when she suddenly heard some footsteps as three men in white appeared with long poles in their hands, subsiding the snakes. Mu Nianci was afraid that she would be discovered and hid behind the hall door, not daring to look anymore. She heard a few footsteps and peered out again. The snakes were gone and the surrounding was quiet and deserted; she thought was dreaming, as she couldn’t believe what she just saw.

She pushed open the main door gently and peered out. She walked a little towards the direction, which the snakes had gone but could not find those men in white. She was somewhat relieved and was about to return to the temple when she saw the moonlight revealing a weird pile of white stuff from afar. She went closer for a look and let out a low gasp; it was a pile of skulls neatly arranged in the form of a pyramid, with five skulls as the base, three in the middle and one on top. Mu Nianci had been searching for these skulls the whole day and who would have thought that it would suddenly appear in front of her in the middle of the night? She thought the skull formation scary but her heart beat fast as she was happy. She approached the skulls slowly and took out Wanyan Kang’s belt. With hands shivering, she stretched out to take the skull stacked on top. She touched the skull and felt five holes on it, which fitted her five fingers; it was as if the skull had formed mouths, which swallowed her fingers. Mu Nianci was astonished and screamed before turning about to run. She had run awhile when she stopped again and realised that she was just scaring herself. She giggled nervously and went back to put the belt on top of the three skulls before placing the skull in her hands back onto the top of the formation.

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