“Right, just as I expected,” Huang Rong said in a low voice. She pulled Guo Jing’s sleeve and hastened to the east. Guo Jing was baffled, but he did not ask any questions, he simply followed her obediently.
The town of Taoyuan was not big; in a short moment they had arrived at the eastern gate. Huang Rong turned around to the south. After passing the southern gate they turned again to the west.
“Are we following that priestess?” Guo Jing asked in a low voice, “Don’t play a joke on me.”
Huang Rong laughed, “What joke?” she said, “The priestess is so beautiful like an angel; if you don’t pursue her you will regret it later.”
Guo Jing anxiously halted his steps, “Rong’er, if you keep making this kind of talk I will be angry,” he said.
“I am not afraid,” Huang Rong said, “I want to see you mad.”
Guo Jing was dumbfounded; he had no choice but to continue walking. Approximately five, six ‘li’s later they saw in the distant that priestess was sitting underneath a locust tree. As soon as the priestess saw Jing and Rong arrive, she stood up and walked along a small pathway leading to a hill. Huang Rong pulled Guo Jing’s hand and they walked toward the pathway.
“Rong’er,” Guo Jing anxiously said, “If you deliberately want to create trouble, then I’ll have to hold you and drag you back.”
“I am really tired of walking,” Huang Rong said, “I think you’d better follow her by yourself.”
Guo Jing’s face showed a deep concern; he squatted and said, “If you are tired then let me carry you on my back.”
Huang Rong giggled and said, “I am going to pull her veil away so you can take a look at her face.” She sped up her footsteps to pursue the priestess. The priestess turned around, waiting for them. Huang Rong grabbed her veil and uncovered her face.
Guo Jing followed behind, he called out, “Rong’er, don’t create trouble!” But as he saw the priestess’ face he was stunned and was at a loss of words. He saw a deep crease between her beautiful eyebrows, her eyes brimming with tears, her face had a pitiful look; obviously she was in distress. She was none other than Mu Nianci.
Huang Rong hugged her waist, “Mu Jiejie [elder sister Mu], what happened? Did that kid Yang Kang bully you?” she asked. Mu Nianci hang down her head without saying anything.
Guo Jing came near and greeted her, Sister.” Mu Nianci uttered a soft ‘mmm’ sound.
Huang Rong pulled Mu Nianci’s hand toward a weeping willow by a small creek; they sat down underneath the tree. “Sister, how did he bully you?” Huang Rong asked, “We’ll find him to settle the score. Brother Jing and I also suffered and our two lives were almost gone under his hands.” Mu Nianci lowered her head, still did not say anything. Huang Rong and her images were reflected on the clear creek water. Petals of flowers fell down on the water and slowly floated by, disrupting the reflections.
Guo Jing sat on a rock a few feet apart from the two, his mind was filled with questions: why did Sister Mu dressed as a priestess? Why didn’t she greet them at the restaurant? Where did Yang Kang go?
Seeing Mu Nianci’s grieving look Huang Rong did not ask anymore questions; she quietly held her hands tight.
After a quite while Mu Nianci opened her mouth, “Meizi [younger sister, term of endearment], Brother Guo, the boat you hired belongs to the Iron Palm Clan. They are setting up a trap to harm you.”
Jing and Rong two people were startled; “That mute boatman?” they asked with uneven voices.
“Exactly,” Mu Nianci said, “But he is not mute. He is one of the Iron Palm Clan’s henchmen, his voice is so loud that he is afraid if he opens his mouth he will rouse your suspicion; hence he pretends to be mute.”
Huang Rong was secretly alarmed, “If you did not say I wouldn’t see through his disguise,” she said, “No wonder this fellow’s sign language is very good; he has often disguised himself as a mute many times.”
Guo Jing leaped up the willow tree; he swept his gaze around, but other than two, three farmers in the field he did not see anybody else. He thought, “If not because of Rong’er and Sister Mu walked in circle I am afraid the Iron Palm Clan people would be here by now.”
Mu Nianci heaved a long sigh and slowly said, “You have already known my affair with Yang Kang. Later on I brought adoptive father’s and mother’s coffin to the south. I met him again on a desolate place in the Ox Village of Lin’an.”
Huang Rong opened her mouth, “That, we also knew; we even saw him killing Ouyang Ke with our own eyes.” Mu Nianci looked at her with eyes wide open, Huang Rong’s words were hard to believed. Thereupon Huang Rong told her briefly how Guo Jing and she were hiding in the secret room to treat his internal injury, also how Yang Kang had assumed false identity as the Beggar Clan Leader, how two people narrowly escaped danger and so on. It was a long story with all its takes and turns, but Huang Rong was eager to know Mu Nianci’s experience, so she only raised the important parts.
Gritting her teeth Mu Nianci said, “This man did all kinds of evil, someday he will not have a good end. I regretted myself to have eyes but failed to see, that I will have to go through all these calamities by unexpectedly meeting him.”
Huang Rong groped her pocket for a handkerchief and gently wiped the tears on her cheeks. Mu Nianci’s heart was troubled; all kinds of bad things had come her way that in a moment she did not know where to start. She tried to gather her thoughts and slowly calmed herself down; only then did she open her mouth to tell her story.