The Tale Never Ends - Chapter 167

Published at 14th of February 2020 03:35:04 PM

Chapter 167: 167

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I leapt off the horse and hurried to Zhang Zhigui . He was overjoyed to see me, "GOD! SHIYAN?! Are you here to save me?" But just as quickly, his joy disippated when he saw Edelweiss, who was still on the horse .

"Release him, quick!" I bellowed to the two foxes . Despite their flabbergasted and unconvinced looks, my command as the lordling of their kind, were enough for them to trust me fully, as they untied Zhang Zhigui . He got up, flexing his arms, although he still had a skeptical and dull look . Still, he bowed to me, "It has been quite some time since we've met, Brother Shiyan . " "I'm sorry for all these, Zhigui," I muttered, with an embarrassed look myself, "Had I known that you are the help that the weasels have sought, I would have stayed my hand . " I gestured towards Edelweiss, "This is my girlfriend, Alatan Qiqige . Please forgive us for any dissatisfaction that you've felt . " Considering Edelweiss' propensity for aggression, I was almost certain that he must have had quite a beating, after being caught by Edelweiss earlier .

I almost burst into laughter when I saw Zhang Zhigui's dumbstruck look, when he heard me saying that the vehement female brute who had abducted him, was my girlfriend . I could have sworn that I saw a bead of sweat rolling down the side of his face, and I chuckled, "What an embarrassing farce this is . To think that the strife between the foxes and weasels involved even us . . . What a burlesque irony . . . " I could not bear to continue, but Zhang Zhigui remarked, grinning apologetically himself, "I was still seething with anger just now, fretting at my defeat . But now that I know it is you, that changes things! You are indeed a cut above all of us!"

What he had just said might have sounded fine . More so, since he had been taken captive by our side . But I honestly did not think so . "You're being modest, Zhigui . That was you earlier, is it not? Releasing the paper birds into the air just now? That regeneration magic you were using earlier; that alone is miles beyond what I am capable of . " Zhang Zhigui chuckled weakly . He said nothing, but merely pointed to the hill behind us . I immediately swirled around and looked . The hill, which formerly had lush and dense vegetation, as a result from Zhang Zhigui's magic earlier, had returned to normal, reverting to being barren and scraggy!

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Edelweiss and I exclaimed with surprise . Then Zhang Zhigui began to explain . "You have been too kind, Shiyan . I know nothing about any rejuvenation magic . This is only a little Zhuyou magic which temporarily accelerates the growth of plants and other fauna . " I could almost hear myself uttering a "Wow . " So there is definitely more than meets the eye with this Zhuyou magic, that it can even manipulate nature in such ways . Moreover, Old Man Xie had mentioned that Zhang Zhigui could hardly be considered a skilful user of the mysterious and yet wondrous shamanistic magic . But to be able to employ such quaint sorcery was enough to earn my admiration and respect .

As we spoke, we were joined by Lu Bugong, Chongxi and Lin Feng, and a little while later, Yan Jishi came huffing and puffing, as he had hiked up from the other side . With all seven of us together, the entire debacle had safely come to an end . But our talking and chatting together sent the foxes and weasels into fits of disbelief and shock . Even Lao Tao could not hide his confusion, when he came up the hill and saw us . Requesting from us an explanation of what was going on, we began a lengthy tale, beginning from how we knew each other . We watched with hilarity as the expressions on the faces of Lao Tao, the foxes, and the weasels shifted and changed like the four seasons . Feeling amused, I regarded the wizened, old weasel, "If only you had told me about them . It would have saved us all the trouble . " Seeing how friendly we were, the old weasel's head sank bashfully . At the same time, Zhang Zhigui was also exchanging courtesies with the leader of the foxes, whose head also hung over his shoulders shyly .

With a sit-down to talk everything out, the truth finally came to light: when the weasels just arrived from Yizhou City, it was the foxes of the Ridge, not they, who had first initiated hostilities . To made it worse, the foxes came to me for help, when their efforts to despotize the immigrant weasels failed miserably . What an awkward farce! I was so ashamed that I wanted to look for a hole to bury myself in! But as if on a cue, Zhang Zhigui saved me from dying from embarrassment, by snarling loudly at the old gnarly weasel, "AND YOU DID NOT TELL ME ABOUT THE PETTY CRIMES YOUR OFFSPRINGS ARE COMMITTING!" The weasel swallowed hard and began yammering incomprehensibly, all the while addressing Zhigui as a chief or some sort .

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"Wait a minute," I stopped them, "Zhigui? What 'chief' is this? Are you the chief of a tribe or a clan now?" Zhang Zhigui smiled . "I'm afraid much has happened since we last met, Shiyan . But this is hardly a suitable place for a lengthy conversation . Let's go somewhere for a drink . My treat . I should buy you all a drink . "

"Not this again," I chuckled, "You are all guests here . Let this also be a gesture of reparation for what my girlfriend has done . " But Zhigui immediately rambled on about his morals forbidding him from accepting a treat from me, and I shot a knowing look at Lao Tao, who quickly caught my gist, and bowed to Zhang Zhigui . "Please, Master Zhang . More so, since Master Shiyan had already insisted . Let this also be a gesture of apology from me too . I should admit that I have been too lenient with the foxes of the Ridge, and have been biased in my judgments . " Lao Tao's voice bore not only the authority of sound common sense, but also his clout as the Mountain Deity here, obliging Zhigui to relent . "Very well, Lord Mountain Deity . It shall be as you command, and I humbly accept your hospitality . "

We adjourned to a lavish tavern in the subterranean village, and Zhang Zhigui, with his companions, had nothing but wondrous compliments for this exotic drinking hole which was constructed and established to resemble a true tavern from the bygone age of the Qing Dynasty, something that clearly appealed greatly to Zhigui's tastes . He was agape with amazement when he stepped through the doors of the tavern, extremely pleased to be here .

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Everything, even the tableware, were modeled after articles of antiquity from the ancient years, and this was beginning to turn out as a tremendous delight for him . But by contrast, the four of us were hardly flustered by the authenticity of the furnishings of the tavern; we had been here the day before . Lao Tao got up, raising his glass like a host receiving his guests . "Everyone . Please accept my apology for the lack of hospitality and the troubles that everyone had to endure . Please, cheers . " We emptied our cups and refilled them with liquor again, and we began toasting each other . After a few rounds, Zhang Zhigui began his tale on what happened .

Just before we last parted, Old Man Xie appeared at our meal with Zhang Zhigui, to hand him a letter . A letter from his home . After reading it, Zhigui was aghast with shock and apprehension . As it turned out, the letter was to let him know about the passing of his grandfather, the former chief of Clan Zhang of Yizhou City . The letter also contained the summons from his family, bidding him to return quickly to assume the leadership of the family affairs as the new Chief . This made me confused . "Why was he the new Chief, instead of his father following the death of his grandfather? " But I stayed my lips and refrained from encroaching into what seemed to be a private family matter .

Zhigui then explained that he too, believed that he was too young for a role so important and significant, him being a mere novice shamanic healer in a small village . But Old Man Xie, who was also his uncle, insisted that he go with him to his home . He nominated Zhigui as the head of the clan, a notion which was especially taken with contempt by the rest of Zhigui's family . But in the old ways, the suggestion was only a right and sound one, for Zhigui was the direct heir in the primogeniture of the leadership of the clan . This claim was especially substantiated by Old Man Xie's appearance, who immediately silenced any detractors . Clearly, Old Man Xie was a greatly respected figure among Clan Zhang of Yizhou City .

With that, the transition of power ensued smoothly enough for Zhang Zhigui to be appointed the new Chief of Clan Zhang, where he then became privy to a great many secrets he never knew before . One of those included the mysterious cult, the Order of Pain's purpose in targeting Zhang Zhigui, and by extension his family, while also including the weasel colony in Yizhou City, who was allied to Zhang Zhigui and his clan .

The bond between Clan Zhang and the weasels began centuries ago, when an ancestor of Clan Zhang rescued a weasel who was on the brink of drowning, at the site of Yishui River . Weasels are not known to love water, although they can swim . But that weasel was on the verge of drowning due to a predestined tribulation, and the ancestor's timely appearance saved it . This forged a tie of friendship between their kind and Clan Zhang; an alliance that would endure forever . Hence in their need, the weasels came to Clan Zhang for help, and likewise, Zhang Zhigui was obliged to heed their call .

Finally, the curtains finally closed on the whole debacle of the Battle of the Yellow Soil Ridge . Like us, Zhang Zhigui and his friends were oblivious to our involvement in this matter . But it was hardly surprising, considering that the whole Yellow Soil Ridge falls under the municipal jurisdiction of Zunhua City, which was considerably farther from Wu Zhong . Zhang Zhigui ended his tale and looked at me, tacitly hoping for a tale from me this time about what happened .

I took a mouthful of liquor and began . "Well, after we've parted, we went to Inner Mongolia . . . " And we recounted our adventures in Mongolia to Zhang Zhigui and his companions, with emphasis on the parts of Ha'ri Naohai . Zhang Zhigui nodded grimly, agreeing to our cautions that he needed to be careful . Then I went on, "Then later, Edelweiss – that is, Ala here – and I was . . . "

When my story ended, I said, "Everything here actually begun when a few of the weasels – naive and impulsive, I might add – stole some chickens from some farmers . . . " I embarked on a lengthy but concise version of the prologue of this whole fracas . I felt it better that some facts were omitted so that Zhang Zhigui can retain his dignity .

Zhigui was silent when our side of the story ended . He did not know what else to say . But Yan Jishi broke the awkwardness, saying, "Errr . . . Wait up, Shiyan . We seem to have missed the part where you became the lordling of these foxes?"