一簑煙雨 5,1-7

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第五章:天來客
(一)背信(二)前塵(三)夜郎(四)負盟(五)提親(六)狼噬(七)琴劍

(一)背信
千千換回漢人衣裳,告別蒲類草原,坐上翠輦,跟隨張大人,在十數名武官護送下,踏上漫長的歸途。一路上,張大人待千千如上賓,夜宿官營,日坐輦車,像個官小姐般有僕役左右隨行,服侍每日起居飲食。車隊靜靜行經祁連山下,碧寒宮依然故我,兀立於半山腰上,幾頭禿鷹正盤旋於山谷之間,發出陣陣淒厲的嘶鳴。車隊平安度過,紮營於胭脂山驛館前。
大夏的官員在驛館設宴款待張福壽,張福壽邀請千千同行,千千不好推辭,唯有與他一同赴宴,宴席上,聽他們說能順利驅逐景教僧侶甚為欣喜,視為一大事功。千千獨個兒坐在一旁,自斟自飲,心裏更是愁煩。
忽然,他們似是沒有別的話題,就轉向千千,其中一名大夏官員,用流利的漢語問道:「這位姑娘不知祖籍何處?明天出了胭脂山,就回到大宋國土了。」
千千本就無心跟他們對話,但看在張大人的臉上,無奈回答道:「我家在巴蜀。」
張大人聽是巴蜀,自然地問道:「在巴蜀那一路?那一州呢?」
千千聽此一問,竟就愣住了,心想:松狐島就是松狐島,在那兒二百年了,從來不曾有人問過我那一路,那一州的?眼珠一轉,看十數對眼睛盯住自己,不答又不成,便坦然道:「我家在巴蜀松狐島,二百年都是如此,無路無州。」
「松狐島?」這些官爺們你看看我,我看看你,竟好像沒有人聽說過似,千千心想松狐島在江湖上聲威顯赫,卻原來在紅塵之中,只是個化外之物,不禁黯然歎息,便覺得與他們話不投機,站起身來,拱手長揖道:「小女子才疏學淺,有辱各位官爺雅興了。」然後轉向張大人道:「張大人,可否容我先回營休息。」
張福壽微笑道:「我大宋疆土遼闊,有些地方雖在版圖之內,卻失諸江湖之遠,未登入冊薄之內,也不足為奇,千千姑娘請不用介懷。」
千千頷首淺笑,拱手再揖,才轉身離去,心裏翳翳然,有預感這次返回中土,所有事情都不再一樣了。

翌日,由大夏的官員帶領,雖經官道便捷,也走至深夜才抵達秦風路蘭州城,蘭州知州早就在城門外躬迎張福壽,兩人一見面,即交頭接耳,神神秘秘不知說了些甚麼話,張福壽神情甚為詫愕,旋即便跟隨知州到城內衙府去了,眾將領入城後把千千安置在衙府的廂房,也就各自回營休息。
千千得張大人應允贈送駿馬一匹,明兒便自行返回松狐島去,千千想着將快回到家裏,心情很是興奮,但念到與月橋他們各奔東西,越分越遠,不知重逢何日,又是惆悵,眺望窗外蘭州古城,深夜危垣,樹影參差,殘月微茫,邊城離索,只有黃水滔滔,滾滾大江日夜呼號為伴,千千聽着河水奔騰而過,不知不覺蓋上眼皮就睡着了,彷彿才剛睡酣,便被一陣急劇的敲門聲吵醒,千千心裏怦怦地跳,暗道:三更半夜,到底發生何事?
便連忙披衣起床開門一看,站在門外是個兵哥兒,他神色甚為慌張,道:「千千姑娘,張大人請你立即過府相聚,有要事相議。」
千千奇道:「到底有何要事,要深夜相談?」
那兵哥兒猶豫一會,才答道:「聽說是抓到一名逃返中原的景僧,張大人請千千姑娘過府認人。」
「逃返中原的景僧?」千千心頭一震,就想起月橋,但仔細思量,月橋是萬萬不可能又逃返中原,這個人縱是景僧,也絕不可能是月橋,便冷靜下來。
那兵哥兒又催促道:「千千姑娘,請馬上跟小人走吧!」
千千暗裏納悶,想張大人千里迢迢把自己送回來,若再次拂逆他的意思總也說不過去,又想,若這個被抓的人不是景僧,把他認出來,還他一個清白也好。想到這裏,便答應跟隨兵哥兒深夜過府相聚。
那兵哥兒領着千千繞過縣衙,卻沒有直接到府堂去,反而悄悄穿過隱藏於城下的漆黑迴廊,到囚禁犯人的地下水牢去,千千走到水牢閘前,心中陡寒,停了腳步,那兵哥兒又道:「張大人正在審問那逃僧,聽說那逃僧十分口硬,甚麼都不肯說,非得要千千姑娘親自認人不可。」
千千總覺得事情不是那麼簡單,舉頭一看,只見繁星點點,暗歎道:「我孤身一人在此,若張大人要害我,就算我本事再大又能逃到那裏去?穆姑姑把我親手交托給他,他沒有理由加害於我吧!唉!我怎麼變得那樣疑心重重?」
想到此處,見兵哥兒神情甚是焦急,不欲再與他難為便隨他步下水牢去,沒想到在這乾旱的沙漠邊緣,水牢石壁竟還是濕漉漉的,走到石階盡頭,幽暗囚室內坐着一人,正是張福壽,見他垂頭耷耳的坐在桌前,除桌上燭臺燈影搖曳外,兩旁卻又不見甚麼逃僧,千千站在牢房前,霎時心頭抖震不已,舉步不前,面對此異常氛圍,頓感不妙,倏然轉身,便欲逃離牢房,可惜為時已晚,但見幾條人影眼前閃出,隨即一陣迷人花香撲鼻而來,千千兩眼瞪直,耳畔一陣狡黠笑聲,便不支昏倒地上。

昏迷之際,千千強撑眼皮,隱約見張福壽背對一錦袍漢子,道:「就算千千姑娘真是朝廷欽犯,也不過是個小姑娘吧了!犯不着如此對待她?」
千千心裏一驚,他們怎樣對待我了?豎起耳朵,驟聽那漢子厲聲道:「張大人,你是否還要再看一遍太皇太后的手諭?此女竊聽朝廷機密,是頭號欽犯,你還把她當上賓接待,你要保她,還是要保你頭上烏紗?我怕太皇太后一旦怪罪下來,你烏紗人頭兩不保?」
張福壽自問不過是個五品小官,今趟奉命秘密送返景僧,也不知是禍是福,還是無謂再多惹是非,長歎一聲,搖搖頭便把千千交在這漢子手上,轉身離去。他身影一旦移開,千千便見那漢子挨坐桌前,手裏正把玩着娘親遺物血染飄,此人不是誰人,就是那惡賊段魂鈴。
千千一顆心沉入大海,早知這惡賊不會放過自己,遲早要落在他手裏,只是不甘被那張福壽賣了,冷冷道:「段魂鈴,你都可算是卑鄙小人中的佼佼者,滿腦子有用不完的詭計。」
段魂鈴聽她說得沉着,不禁愕然,嘴角微牽,兩眉頓蹙,冷笑道:「江湖兇險,你定是苦頭吃得不夠多,嘴巴才會這麼硬,不過,你放心,這趟落在我手裏,我定教你吃足苦頭。」
說着一手抽出血染飄,匕首光芒閃爍,映耀他一雙冷眼,千千本欲站起奪他手中匕首,口道:「別碰我娘的遺物!」人卻登然跪倒地上,才發現雙腳不知何時已被扣上一對大鉛環,左右一個,各重百餘斤,不要說走路,就是站起也甚為吃力,千千此時才明白他說的苦頭是甚麼意思,厲眼盯着他,卻顛抖得說不出話來,段魂鈴站起身,昂首大笑道:「你終於知道害怕了嗎?我告訴你,丫頭,這才只是個開始罷了,我要看看是你的脖子硬,還是我的手段硬。」
說罷,揚手擺身又冷笑幾聲,才施施然步出囚室。水牢閘剛下,囚室頓時漆黑一片,四壁滲透着極端難聞的潮濕異味,千千站不起來,便乾脆躺下,緊握雙拳,死不甘願,竟又栽在這惡賊手中。

天剛亮,翁長鬚便來水牢領千千出去,千千拖着沉重的步伐,一步一艱辛才踏出水牢,七月早晨的陽光辣刺刺,千千舉臂擋住陽光才站了一會,翁長鬚在前頭便喊道:「喂!大小姐,還不走快一點!」
千千雙腿扣了兩個沉甸甸的鉛錘,舉步維艱,此人還說要走快一點?心裏好怨,但又不甘在這幾個奸賊面前低頭,便提氣挺胸,拚了命的抬腿踏步,也只能如蝸牛般的蠕動,翁長鬚看得又好笑,又難過,便把馬兒牽到她面前來道:「看你走得這副模樣,別走了,上馬罷!」千千瞟了這人一眼,暗想:這滿臉鬍子對我那麼好幹甚?猶疑一會,那白素面從後走來,便笑嘻嘻道:「要上馬麼?讓我代勞吧!」
說着便伸手要扶她,還未拈到她的衣服,已給千千揮掌擋開,這掌出手甚快,勁度也不弱,白素面沒想到她身子沉了兩塊巨鉛,仍有還手之力,失驚後退,呆呆地看着她,見她生氣的樣子,兩眼圓滾滾,赤腮紅唇,更覺嬌俏,便忍不住要把她調戲,伸手又想捏她下巴,怎料給她臂彎輕翻又掠開了,白素面即時氣上心頭,連環攻下十來招,都讓她赤手空拳輕易化解,回神見她站立原地,兩腳竟不曾動過。翁長鬚在旁看得過癮,便氣他道:「老四,你怎麼老鼠碰着烏龜了麼?」
白素面當然不甘心,想想攻她前面不成,攻她背後總可以吧!看她雙腳動彈不得,難道她的胳臂會往後拐的麼?想到這裏,暗暗冷笑,瞧此女滿臉傲岸不屈,竟一直沒瞧過自己一眼,更是不忿,便突地躥到她背後,本想先來個熊抱,然後一親香澤,看她到時還瞧不瞧我?誰料,千千見他從後偷襲,竟瞬間往後翻腰,因為雙腳墜了兩塊重鉛,下盤反如老樹盤根穩固,蠻腰不管怎樣翻擺,下身穩如泰山,雙手出拳舉掌反更有勁,白素面從後熊抱又不得逞,便老羞成怒,猛力揮拳往她各部位攻去,可是,千千運掌變化多端,不管他攻勢如何凌厲,就是未能碰她分毫,最後千千在翻腰之際,運功發掌,輕聲一呼,就把白素面彈開幾尺,白素面嚇了一大跳,險些跌倒地上。看此女回身挺腰,背對着他,腳跟還是沒移動半分,見她側影冷然,髮絮微掀,神閑氣定,分毫不亂。白素面暗中佩服,此女真不簡單,非一般柔弱女子可比,心裏更是又愛又恨。
翁長鬚想白素面胡鬧至此也夠了!便笑道:「老四,你還是別自討苦吃了,回京城到梨香苑去,體貼溫柔的姑娘多的是,為何定要碰這個燙手山芋呢?」
說着雙手抬起千千的左腳放在馬鐙上道:「丫頭,我抬你右腿時,你用力翻過馬鞍上去吧!」
翁長鬚正費盡九牛二虎之力推千千上馬,段魂鈴與張福壽便從衙府裏走出,聽那惡賊段魂鈴還笑嘿嘿道:「這欽犯就交由本官快馬送返京師,那張大人回京路上,就可不必再勞心了。」
千千好不容易才上了馬,見那張福壽還恭恭敬敬的向那惡賊鞠躬叩首,心裏痛恨萬分,便揚聲喊道:「張福壽,你出賣我!」
張福壽聽得如此喊叫,抬眼一瞥,便即低首搖頭,轉身快步離去,千千看他身影就要踏進衙府去了,想到一旦讓這三個奸賊帶走,還會有誰來救我?情急之下,哭着臉大叫道:「張大人,救我啊!張大人!救我啊!」
可是,不管怎樣喊叫,張福壽也聽而不聞,只更匆忙邁進衙府,砰一聲!把門緊緊拴上,剩下紅漆大門上一對獅口銅環,冷然相對,千千心底寒颯,便聽那段魂鈴喝令:「走!」千千的馬兒即被翁長鬚拉扯而去,她連忙抱緊馬頸,白素面跟隨在後,四匹駿馬,舉蹄疾飛,刮起漫天黃沙,衝出蘭州府城,奔向上京官道去。

出了蘭州府,沿渭水東行,傍晚時份便到了隴西驛館,驛館的驛卒見有官爺押解囚犯便即出門躬迎,看到太皇太后的手諭,更是戰兢惶恐,呼奴喝婢,張燈掛彩,準備佳餚美酒,侍候左右,唯恐不周。
千千和馬兒一同被帶到馬廄去,馬廄外站了兩名驛卒看守,其他人都在驛館彩樓裏高歌作樂,千千斜望樓上人影晃蕩,亂作一團,觥籌交錯,紅袖飄香,簫管琴弦,擊盤唱和,不禁恨道:「狐群狗黨,禍國殃民。太皇太后背信棄義在先,縱容這班奸賊在後,難道,師父所說的宋室之亡不遠矣?」
想到這裏,便歎氣道:「我自己命不久矣才真!還管他甚麼國之將亡?」但心念一轉,又瞪眼道:「豈能甘心就此命送在這奸賊手上,總得想個法子脫身。」突然記起今天擊退白素面那淫賊的掌力,果然比前大為精進,便想起妙音天君所教的吐納養功法,心想:這妙音老賊雖是陰險毒辣,但他所教的運功之法卻全是真的。想到這裏,不禁冷笑道:「他為了要探聽師父瀾滄三劍的劍法心得,不得已才以真的內功心法來交換,都算用心良苦?」
想到妙音天君,當不免也想起月橋,喃喃道:「他幾經艱辛才保住我這條性命,我怎可以輕易放棄?」便不再自怨自艾,即時舉掌提氣練功,她知道唯有加強自保能力,才能反敗為勝,擺脫這些卑鄙小人,便閉目冥思,想着妙音天君所教的內功心法,一句一句的照着運氣練功,口中不覺念念有詞:「心歸神中,定意專一,虛無入瞑,入死出生,吸精為納,吐垢為呼,納不盡藏,吐不為滅,以意守氣,氣守丹田,丹田不息,生死無間…」
念到這裏,千千不知不覺已進入胎息狀態,耳畔一切聲浪完全隔絕,整個人氣順神和,久久不呼一口氣,臉色還是一樣紅潤飽滿,心思本就單純的她,更覺清虛無欲,漸入化境。
忽然,像是好遠好遠有人在呼喚她,千千還是嘴角含笑,不願回應,突然身子給人用力搖晃了幾下,才斷了調息,回醒過來,睜開眼睛,便見翁長鬚蹲在跟前道:「你這丫頭,在練甚麼神功?練得那麼入神?」
千千讓他這樣半途搖醒,一時亂了氣息,若不是練得還淺,恐怕要走火入魔了,暗暗吃驚:「妙音天君這套吐納養功法,果然深奧。」手按丹田,調勻氣息,才敷衍道:「沒甚麼,你這樣大呼小叫的幹甚麼?」
翁長鬚細心打量她一眼,便道:「你這丫頭功夫日益精進,在西域時,一定有高人指點過,是麼?」看千千把臉甩開,沒有回應,便唬嚇她道:「不過,可惜,如今落在老大手上,一旦押返京師,定必斬首示眾,現在才練?太遲了。」
千千聽他說到一旦押返京師,定必斬首示眾,即時轉過頭來傻傻地盯着他,半信半疑,翁長鬚暗笑一聲,便把手中飯菜放在地上,千千看盤子裏有雞有魚,有肉有菜,十分豐富,不覺一陣饑腸轆轆,胃口大開,拿起筷子張口便狼吞虎嚥,翁長鬚看這丫頭也真單純得可愛,便笑道:「你慢慢吃吧!」忽地又抖出酒瓶,還有兩隻杯子,坐在地上,倒了兩杯酒才道:「我看你像個聰明人,怎麼老愛做笨事?」
千千乾了一杯,才問道:「你說的笨事就是得罪了像段魂鈴這種卑鄙小人,對麼?」
翁長鬚呵呵一笑,不禁讚歎道:「我說你聰明就真是聰明,但為甚麼脖子那麼硬?」
千千吞了滿口菜肴,才哼一聲道:「你跟他們是一夥的,今天為甚麼對我那麼好?你今天改邪歸正做好人了麼?」
翁長鬚搖搖頭,嗤一聲道:「你怎麼頭腦那麼簡單,我對你好就是好人,我老大對你不好,就是壞人了麼?」一頓才説:「這些飯菜也是老大叫我拿來給你吃的。」
千千一聽是那惡賊,立即停了嚼飯的嘴,翁長鬚便道:「怎了!要吐啊!」
千千這才強呑了口中菜餚放下筷子,不服氣道:「段魂鈴殺死曹叔叔,是我親眼所見,而且,他三番四次想置我於死地,又怎麼說呢?」
翁長鬚聽她提起曹鉤鐮便怒道:「哼!曹鉤鐮作惡多端時,你還未出生呢!段老大初入青龍幫之時,如何給曹鉤鐮欺負踐踏,你又看過麼?」
「那你又看過麼?」千千還是不服氣,馬上反駁道。翁長鬚仰天一笑,冷然道:「我當然看過。」見他眼眸一閃才接道:「段老大在江湖上全無裙帶關係,若不是靠點兒手段,他那來今天的地位?」
千千聽到這裏,才沉默下來,不再反駁,翁長鬚便悠然接道:「當年我是金陵一個走私官鹽的鹽梟,與青龍幫素有交易往來,那時曹鉤鐮初登三當家白虎頭之位,他為人囂張跋扈,好大喜功,一趟我拿着貨來到白虎頭堂口做買賣,當時的老大在青龍幫不過是個小嘍囉,他一心想引起曹鉤鐮的注意,便大膽獨自出來接貨,可是他不知道曹鉤鐮本就看不起他出身卑微,又無武功,見他竟想貪功邀寵,便存心為難他…」

(二)前塵
段魂鈴見曹鉤鐮帶着親信手下十餘人,前呼後擁的踏入白虎堂,便連忙躬身出迎,嘿嘿笑道:「三當家,這些貨我都試過,都是上等貨色,沒問題。」
曹鉤鐮坐上了白虎堂大殿的虎頭椅,腳踏白虎頭,才慢悠悠道:「你試過?你怎樣試?又怎麼知道沒有問題?」
段魂鈴把竹筒插在鹽包裏,才道:「我吃過啊!」
曹鉤鐮冷冷道:「你吃過?你吃過多少呢?」
段魂鈴即時感到他語氣之不尋常,便戰戰兢兢地回答道:「我吃過一撮。」
曹鉤鐮看看左右同伴,眾人都嗤嗤冷笑,神情很是不屑,才站起邁步,走到那些鹽包前,拔出金稻鉤鐮,嘎一聲便把麻包袋子刈開幾個大洞,雪白的鹽粒嘩拉嘩拉灑滿一地,才道:「就吃過一撮那麼多?是那一撮?這一撮吃過了沒有?」
段魂鈴此時才知道他是有意為難自己,無奈低頭道:「那倒是沒有。」
曹鉤鐮這才瞪眼怒道:「沒有?那你憑甚麼告訴我這批貨沒有問題?」
段魂鈴本想討好曹鉤鐮,沒想到竟遭他如此奚落,即時無話可說。
曹鉤鐮卻似意猶未盡,還想羞辱他,揮着手中金光燦爛的金稻鉤鐮,揚聲道:「你跟我把這裏的鹽通通都吃了,才告訴我有沒有問題吧!」說罷,大笑一聲,便坐回他的虎頭椅上,神情極是鄙夷。
段魂鈴愕然抬頭看着曹鉤鐮,見他一點都不像在開玩笑,而他身邊的人還齊聲和應,叫喊道:「吃啊!吃啊!不敢吃麼?」
「他不過是個挑夫罷了,這麼貴的官鹽,他吃得起麼?」
「這種鄉巴佬,那裏懂得鹽滋味,還敢說我吃過,沒問題!哈哈!」
一時,哄堂笑聲,人人都在看段老大是否真的會把這些鹽吃光,我站在一旁,替他很是難受。沒料到老大果真一把一把鹽塞進口裏吃,眾人見狀,更是興奮,一窩蜂把老大圍起來,拍手歡呼,高聲喝彩,老大面不改容,左手一抓,右手一把,不知吃了多少,直到當場嘔出白泡,昏倒地上才停下來。段老大是一條真漢子,但為了生存,在青龍幫,不得不忍辱負重,好不容易取得曹鉤鐮的信任,便伺機報復,陷害曹鉤鐮,取而代之,當上了三當家,只是好景不常,青龍幫裏爾虞我詐,爭權奪位,段老大最終也被人陷害,逐出青龍幫,流落到洛陽,剛巧與我、白素面和無言道人遇上,四人同是落魄江湖,窮途末路,便結拜為兄弟,歃血為盟,當天發誓,有福同享,有禍同當。
翁長鬚說到這裏,低頭又倒了兩杯酒,才接道:「後來段老大無意救了被新黨暗殺的皇太后,當時的皇太后就封他為殿前帶刀侍衛,出入禁宮,成了京中紅人,老大發跡後,並未忘本,馬上引薦我們兄弟三人,我們才從過街老鼠,搖身一變成了大內侍衛,過了幾年顯赫的日子,老大待我們恩重如山…」
聽到這裏,千千就再忍不住,插嘴道:「那又怎麼樣?他現在要對付的是我啊?」
翁長鬚捋捋長鬚,笑道:「老大若真要你的命,你想你還能活到現在麼?笨蛋!」
千千給翁長鬚喝罵一聲笨蛋,登時呆了半晌,又聽他接道:「老大有個幾十年的心結解不開,你不過才十幾歲一個丫頭,會懂麼?」
說着,舉杯對天自個兒乾了,便轉身離去。
千千這才記起,初遇段魂鈴時,他聽說娘親已死的那份表現,至今仍百思莫解,難道這卑鄙小人竟與娘親有甚麼解不開的結?想到這裏,憤然搖頭道:「不可能,娘親與爹爹是神仙眷侶,他們的愛情天長地久,段魂鈴只不過是一個玩弄權術的奸狡小人罷了!」
想到這裏,便不願再想下去,本欲靜心練功,卻已無法專志,躺下來,就呼呼睡去了。

行經太白山山腳時,段魂鈴不由自主放緩了馬步,四匹駿騎魚貫走在山谷之中,馬蹄答答,踏着百花荒徑,野花的芬芳引來幾隻白蝴蝶,逐舞於馬蹄邊。白素面看了那幾隻白蝴蝶,突然縱馬上前,走到千千座騎旁,嘴角含笑,側腮打量她一番,見她身穿對襟水綠綢緞,襟口上繡有柳條紋飾,頓然想起洞庭湖柳岸聞鶯,春色無限,沉醉了一會才問道:「你襟口那對雙飛蝴蝶呢?」
千千斜睨他一眼,一時聽不懂他話中含意,但見他色迷迷地盯着自己的衣襟領口,才猛然醒覺道:「那天…洞庭湖畔那個人原來是你!」
白素面見她如此驚愕,回想起當天的情形,不但不感羞恥,反倒十分得意道:「不就是我麼?你還以為是誰啊!」說罷雙眼一眯,抽動左臉眼角一塊肌肉,神情甚為詭異,呵呵一笑,回頭勒馬便揚鞭而去。
千千既急且怒,才知道原來一直以來都錯怪了滕寬柔,霎時腦際重現此人音容,心頭苦澀無奈,想不過才一年多的光景,人如風後,情似粘絮,抬眼遠望,白雲悠悠,青峰數點,不知身在何方,今夕何夕?突聽段魂鈴揚手朗聲道:「到太白山白雲寺去!」說着索轡引韁,就拐入道旁一條幽徑上,翁長鬚與白素面當即趕緊追隨,千千坐騎給翁長鬚猛力拉扯,險些翻側山坡上,她連忙執疆索繩,馬兒引頸長嘶,踉蹌一蹬,才踏上陡峭山徑去。時而晚風徐徐,日影疏疏,耳畔傳來一陣暮鼓梵音,白雲寺,古刹荒涼,就驟然出現在山間叢林裏。

四人來到白雲寺前,只見童僧在石階上灑掃,看他神態悠然得很,乍見段魂鈴四人階前勒馬,不慌不忙上前問道:「嗯!幾位施主,要到敝寺上香麼?」
段魂鈴下了馬,趨前屈身道:「不是,請問智通大師在麼?」
小童僧呵呵一笑,才道:「哦!原來是找我們住持麼?他上峨嵋山去了,至今還未有回來呢!」
段魂鈴略感失望,但仍恭問道:「在下與幾位弟妹趕路上京,來不及投棧,不知今夜可否在貴寺借宿一宵嗎?」
小童僧瞧了千千一眼,她雙腿上的鉛環被黑斗篷覆蓋住,小童僧只道是這位施主的妹子,便道:「本來出家人與人方便是很應該的,但幾位客官帶同女眷,在敝寺過夜就不太方便了。」
這女眷卻忽然對著小童僧喊道:「我不是她的妺妹!」
小童僧這才認真看了這女施主一眼,看她才不到二十歲,說是弟妹,確實有點不對。這時段等人面面相覷,怕惹起懷疑。白素面便道:「她是我女人,我大哥的弟婦了。」
小童僧看這白面書生與這女施主若是夫妻,倒是不奇,正呵呵一笑,豈料女施主又喊道:「不是,我不是他的女人,我是…」還未說完,翁長鬚即搶著道:「她是我女兒啦!是我大哥的姪女。」
小童僧給弄糊塗了,摸著光頭,楞楞的看著他們,這女施主似急出淚來,喊道:「我…我與他們毫無關係!我…」正要說出實情,但一想他們有御旨在身,我實情是個欽犯,這個小和尚,能幫我脫難嗎?說不定還害了他,便住了口。
段魂鈴卻一直態度平淡,見她不再胡言亂語,才又對小童僧恭謹地說:「出家人行個方便吧!」
小童僧搔搔光頭,怎樣想也搞不清他們是什麽關係,便道:「這位女施是怎樣都不能在寺中度宿的,不過..山上有間棄置了的客館,略為清理打掃,還是可以過夜的,幾位施主何不將就一下呢!」
段魂鈴忽爾想起,難道小童僧所說的就是隨雲居麼?沒想到當年客似雲來的隨雲居竟已荒廢。便問道:「白雲寺過去香火鼎盛,為何如今會變得如此冷清?」
小童僧笑嘻嘻答道:「我怎會知道?它要變就變囉?我能怎樣?它要倒要塌,我又能拿它怎樣?」
聽了他的回答,段魂鈴神情很是落寞,似對這山中一切有非比尋常的感情,見他又和藹地安慰這小童僧道:「白雲寺已有幾百年歷史,定必兀立不倒。」說罷踏鐙上馬,便帶頭往山上去了。小童僧連忙追前喊道:「晚課完了後,請施主回來領齋菜啊!」
段魂鈴舉手輕揚,也沒回頭,人馬已飛躍前去,在山徑裏顛簸一會,就看到一橦破陋樓房,昏暗暮色中,橫楣上隨雲居的匾額依稀可辨,但門窗一片荒頹,食堂裏的方桌和板凳歪歪斜斜,掌櫃旁通往閣樓的木梯還在,閣樓上有兩間廂房。段魂鈴下了馬,獨自踏上木梯,木梯即時吱吱作響,上到閣樓,推門便進了頭間廂房,廂房內紅窗白牆,脂零粉腿,青紗羅帳,半開半落,眼前一張矮桌,兩把圓椅,佈置一如往舊,段魂鈴進房推窗一望,半藏於叢林裏的白雲寺隱約可見…

十多年前,段魂鈴離開了青龍幫,流落在隴西一帶,來過隨雲居,就住在這間廂房。那天晚上,他叫了酒菜,命小二哥送到廂房來,小二哥才把酒菜放好,笑道:「客官請慢用!」廂房紗門半開半掩之際,有仕女身影驀然掠過,段魂鈴倉忙衝出,見一婦人背影正步下樓階,便喊道:「依依!」
那婦人霧鬢雲鬟,身穿淡彩衣裳,上有梅花數點,佇立階前,錚然回首,見她面如芙蓉,眉若新月,還是當年那個柳依依模樣,段魂鈴凝視不語,早已神飛魄蕩,十八載分離,怎料到,今日天涯倦旅,孑然一身,竟還有緣相遇,微笑道:「依…任夫人,久別重逢,何不到在下廂房一同用膳,稍叙離情?」
柳依依挽玉低笑,牽衣走回樓閣,段魂鈴大喜,馬上命小二哥多加一雙筷子,多取幾瓶高粱,小二哥連忙應聲,速去速回,擺好了酒杯和筷子,才靜靜離開廂房。段魂鈴把柳依依迎到房間來,故意半掩房門,兩人對面而坐,含笑相望片刻,段魂鈴不知從何說起,反是柳依依先問道:「聽一邨說你在金陵當上了青龍幫的三當家,為何忽然又來到太白山呢?」
段魂鈴知道柳依依成了松狐島島主夫人,在江湖上地位超然顯赫,說的每句話都很有份量,想想自己卻連青龍幫也混不下去,難免慚愧,道:「一年前,我已經離開了青龍幫。」
柳依依低歎一聲,見他未過五十,已兩鬢滄浪,滿面風霜,想他這些年日子一定不好過,段魂鈴見柳依依愁顏不展,就立即接道:「其實離開了青龍幫也好,做了那麼多傷天害理的事,也應該洗心革面,改邪歸正了。」
沒想到,這麼說來,柳依依更黯然無語,段魂鈴抬頭瞥了她一眼,便不忍看下去,連忙倒了酒,就自斟自飲起來。
柳依依瞧他一杯一杯的喝,也喝了十來杯吧!而依依眼前的酒杯仍是空的,段魂鈴沒有為她倒過一杯酒,只是問道:「松狐島的日子過得慣麼?」
柳依依忽焉又笑靨玲瓏道:「我有八個女兒。」
段魂鈴已有三分醉意,聽她說有八個女兒,便笑道:「那麼多?」抬眼認真打量她一番,見她盈盈秋水,粉臉菲菲,竟一如初邂逅時,才接道:「那不是很好麼?你最喜歡小孩子的了。」
柳依依想起八個女兒,打從心裏笑起來,可忽又臉色一沉,道:「只可惜,一直沒有生過兒子,所以今天特地來白雲寺祈福求子。」
段魂鈴知道松狐島武功傳子不傳女,也難怪她焦急,卻安慰她道:「女兒不好麼?都長得像你就好了?」
柳依依揚眉一笑道:「都不像,都像萬里去了。」
聽她提起任萬里,段魂鈴陡然一痛,倒了酒,又乾了幾杯,雙手微震,神情彷彿,良久才沉聲道:「他…對你好吧!」
柳依依瞧他英雄氣短,壯志消磨,心裏痛極無言,眼眶早已貯滿了淚水,不敢抬頭,只喃喃道:「好!很好。」
段魂鈴酒入愁腸,頃刻便醉眼惺忪,卻還左手斟酒,右手乾杯。忽見她佇立跟前,按着他握瓶的左手。段魂鈴側臉瞟她,見她早已淚濕絞衣,顛聲道:「夜郎!不要再喝了!」
段魂鈴還是喝完了右手那杯,才笑道:「不喝就不喝吧!」
話未說完,就伏倒桌上,不省人事。
第二天,段魂鈴酒醒時候,發現自己端端正正躺臥床上,和衣而睡,連靴子還是好好的穿着,他連忙掀起紗帳,見桌上菜肴原封不動,酒瓶卻東歪西倒,擱滿一桌,門還是半掩,而依依呢!早已人去樓空,而昨夜?仿似伊人在抱,香衾暖枕,難道又是巫山雲雨,好夢一場?

(三)夜郎
段魂鈴獨自沉浸在往事裏,直至夜幕低垂,驟聽翁長鬚喊道:「老大,斎菜已準備好了!」才醒過來,見閣樓下已亮起燈火,地方也收拾乾淨,桌上放了素菜清湯,翁長鬚、白素面和千千早已圍坐桌前,竟若一桌闔家團圓筵席。段魂鈴還是擺着那官架子來到桌前,橫眼掃了三人一遍,才坐下道:「吃罷!」三人才敢動筷。千千提着筷子,想起在松狐島,一年之中,就只有大年初一、娘親忌辰和爹的壽誕才會闔家團聚,圍在一起吃飯,眾姐妹總是盯着滿桌佳餚,倒吞胃液,不敢動箸,直到爹爹上坐,提筷說:「吃罷!」大家才飛舞起筷子來,情況就如今天一樣。看翁長鬚和白素面大口大口地吃,而段魂鈴卻似滿懷心事,未曾下過一箸,千千又想起每次與爹爹一起吃飯,她總是被安排坐在離他最遠的位子上,老遠瞧他,總是冷冷淡淡地吃,也不怎麼挾菜,因此千千一直有個心願,就是挾菜給他,可雖是那麼簡單,卻至今未償所願。這時瞧瞧段魂鈴,見他神情落寞,不似平時那般可惡,忽萌一個怪念頭,何不今天李代桃疆,一償素願呢?便即時挾了一個圓滾滾的芋頭,掉進段魂鈴的碗子裏,笑道:「這個芋頭給你,段…爺爺!」
此語一出,眾人無不愕然,翁長鬚更哈哈笑道:「好丫頭!我們老大還未有當爺爺那麼老!」
千千抿嘴一笑道:「是麼!我看他整天繃着臉,滿臉皺紋,吹鬚瞪眼,好像誰人殺了他全家似的…」
話說至此,段魂鈴忽的重掌怒拍桌面,那個芋頭便從碗中彈了起來,掉在桌上,千千見他又恨恨的瞪看自己,甚感莫名,鼓着腮兒便道:「你這個人犯了甚麼毛病,不管我怎樣對你,你還是那麼恨我?」
段魂鈴緊執拳頭,又使勁的往桌面一砸,竟砸出個大洞來,桌上盤碗即時零亂歪倒,翁長鬚和白素面連忙站起,翁長鬚看此情勢,想局外人不便久留,便拉着白素面退到外頭去。白素面回頭看兩人怒氣騰騰,反倒暗笑,不知又在打甚麼歪主意。
千千還是坐在桌前,斜眼側首,盯着段魂鈴,看他還有甚麼話說,段魂鈴怒目一收,抖出袖中血染飄,才道:「你要知道我為甚麼那麼恨你麼?好,今晚我就告訴你,讓你死也瞑目。」說着緩緩抽出血染飄,冷然問道:「這血染飄是你娘親遺物,你從不離身,一定很熟識吧!那鋒刃上刻有兩個小字,你又知道麼?」
千千揚眉一笑道:「當然知道,鋒刃上刻有夜郎兩個小字。」
段魂鈴輕撫刀背,低聲道:「夜郎,不錯!那夜郎是甚麼意思,你又知道麼?」
千千想也不用想就答道:「血染飄是南蠻匕首,古夜郎國地處南陲,就是鑄造這匕首的地方。」
段魂鈴嘴角微牽,道:「只答對一半,夜郎是一個地方,也是一個人名。」
「人名?誰啊?」看他的神情,千千便即猜到,驚道:「難道就是你?」
果然,見他舉起匕首一晃,刀脊上夜郎兩字乍現,才一字一字道:「不錯,夜郎就是我…」

段魂鈴姓段,本名夜郎,出生於黔南播州,即古夜郎國,十四歲父母雙亡,隨着一幫響馬來到峨嵋山,後因不願與響馬一般打家劫舍,為非作歹,便偷偷溜了出來,留在峨嵋山當了一名挑夫,每天扛着上百斤的貨物,行走於峨嵋崇山峻嶺之間,十年來,練得一身結實的肌肉,黝黑的皮膚,剛烈不屈的性格,幾年前偶然認識了峨嵋山腳富戶千金柳依依,兩人暗生情愫,卻礙於門戶之見,多年來,只是眉目傳情,竟未曾認真說過一句話,一年前,柳依依全家不幸遭賊人劫殺,僅柳依依與弟郎逃過大難,寄居在表舅父家中,兩人才開始往來,繼而私訂終身。
這一天,柳依依趁表舅父到墟裏買貨,便溜出來到涼風坳私會情郎,她老遠看見夜郎躺臥山坡上,便偷偷閃到他身後,本想唬嚇他,給他一個驚喜,卻半途讓夜郎一個翻身撲出,嚇了一大跳,依依嗔道:「你好壞啊!我還想送東西給你,現在不送了。」
這下夜郎焦急起來了,便搜她藏在身後的所謂禮物,原來不過是那南蠻匕首血染飄,道:「甚麼禮物?原來騙人!」
柳依依認真道:「不是騙你的,你拔出匕首來看看才知道。」
夜郎拔出匕首一看,見刀背上新刻了兩個小字,正是他的名字夜郎,心裏很是感動,抬頭看看依依,兩人並肩坐在山坡草地上,依依才接道:「這是我爹以前的鐵器老匠師幫我刻的,他定要我說出夜郎是誰,才肯替我刻。」
「那你說夜郎是誰啊!」夜郎故意問道,依依嫣然一笑,低頭道:「明知故問!」看夜郎把匕首珍而重之,才接道:「這匕首我送給你吧!」
夜郎笑道:「送給我?是定情信物麼?」
依依含羞答答,嗔道:「你說是就是吧!」突然又認真起來道:「夜郎,我如今無依無靠,寄人籬下,除了邨兒,就只有你了。」
夜郎拉起依依的手,正色道:「過幾天,我要去大理國一趟,如果事成,可賺到一筆大錢,到時,我們帶着邨兒馬上離開這裏,到金陵去,做點小買賣,過我們喜歡的日子。」
知道他要去大理國,依依很是不捨,但心裏明白這是兩人唯一的出路,緊握他的手道:「你去大理國,事事要小心,記得一定要回來!」
說到一定要回來,眼圈乍紅,淚珠兒吊在眼角,一眨眼就掉了下來。夜郎見她一個弱質女流,自己一旦遠去大理國,怎放得心下,便把匕首還給她,道:「這匕首你還是帶在身上吧!最近山裏不太平,有個利器傍身比較安全。」
依依抬頭道:「我最怕這些刀刀劍劍了,帶在身上,反時常有種不祥感受。」
夜郎舉起匕首,笑着哄她道:「你看!現在你把我的名字刻在這匕首上,就好像有我時刻陪伴在旁,還那會有甚麼不祥感受呢?」
依依偎在夜郎堅實的肩膀上,卻還是有種揮之不去的不祥預感,千叮萬囑他這趟遠赴大理國,事成也好,事不成也好,人一定要回來啊!
過幾天,夜郎便出發去大理國了,他此次孤注一擲,要做的大買賣就是走私一幫翡翠到金陵去。他出身卑微,若不是鋌而走險,又憑甚麼可以改變命運?
沒想到,他才走了不久,依依的表舅父就把依依送到峨嵋山的庵堂去交給雲谷師太,又把柳一邨送到太白山白雲寺去,依依面臨巨變,不知如何應對,死也不肯落髮為尼,在庵堂裏又哭又叫,雲谷師太看依依也真可憐,最後勸服眾師太讓她帶髮修行,先做一名俗家弟子,眾師太想想也對,出家之事,又豈能勉強呢!看這妮子這麼口硬,定有塵緣未了,也就作罷。
柳依依做了峨嵋派俗家弟子,還未學過甚麼武功,卻只惹來孽緣無數,那天在峨嵋半山叢林馬廄裏,被妙音天君所害,與任萬里一夕風流,毀了清白之身,本欲一死了之,卻被任萬里所救。任萬里彈下依依手中匕首,攬住她喊道:「柳姑娘,你千萬不要做傻事,我任萬里不是無情無義之輩,我所做的事,一定會負責,我立刻去找峨嵋師太,說要迎娶你到松狐島,她一定會答應,今天這裏所發生的事,就只要你和我知道…」
任萬里說到這裏,柳依依便搶着道:「不要!」
任萬里驟然愣住,冷靜下來才問道:「為甚麼?我…那麼討厭麼?」
柳依依連忙道:「不!」心裏卻想着夜郎!「夜郎!夜郎!如何是好?若是夜郎回來了,我卻已嫁到松狐島去,那…夜郎一定以為我貪圖富貴,毀信棄義,恨我一輩子,但是,他若回來了,我已非清白之身,我又如何面對他呢?」思前想後,不管怎樣決定都是極端痛苦,就瑟縮一角,低聲飲泣,任萬里見她哭起來,頓感萬分歉疚,又恨自己空有一身武藝,卻未能安慰自己心愛的女人,撿起地上匕首,捧在手裏,高舉頭上,負荊請罪道:「柳姑娘,若是不肯原諒我,就請賜我一死吧!」
柳依依詫異地看着他,見他眼神裏絕無半點嬉戲,暗道:任萬里是甚麼人物,是甚麼身份?竟為了我連命也不要?想着,見任萬里竟跪倒在自己跟前,不禁大驚,叫道:「任島主!這又何苦呢?」然後低聲接道:「這畢竟…不完全是你一個人的錯。」說罷已滿臉通紅,羞愧交加。任萬里還是跪在地上,卻看得神魂顛倒,又聽她說不完全是自己的錯,更有感她人格之高尚正直,便拱手長拜道:「柳姑娘,若不嫌我又老又醜,肯嫁與我為妻,我任萬里對天發誓,今生今世,只有柳姑娘,從一而終,絕無二心。」
柳依依見任萬里昂藏七尺,氣宇不凡,竟說自己又老又醜,見他對自己紓尊降貴,卑躬屈膝,我還能怎樣拒絕!但一念到夜郎,我又豈能就此背盟負約!可一直不說話,任萬里就一直跪在地上,反反復復,思量許久,心裏才打定主意,不管如何,非要再見夜郎一面,便設法拖延道:「任島主,你可否給我三個月時間。」
「三個月?」任萬里反問道。
柳依依接住血染飄道:「任島主,你請先起來吧!」
說着伸手欲扶任萬里,任萬里腳跟一點,就站起身來,那用她扶?柳依依見他倏然就站直眼前,跪了那麼久,膝蓋好像一點麻痹都沒有,抬頭見他眼如星月,眉如劍鋒,自有一股男兒氣概,不是一般凡夫俗子所能有的,暗暗長歎一聲,才答道:「不錯,是三個月,不知任島主可以三個月後才來向師太提親麼?」
任萬里不明白為何定要等三個月,還要再忍受三個月相思之苦,想到眼下就要跟柳依依分離,早已柔腸寸寸,便問道:「不知可有信物為憑,三個月後,我憑甚麼向師太提親呢?」
柳依依瞧瞧任萬里,聽他竟提出信物為憑,心中一陣哀慟,慨歎命運經已逆轉,不由得自己做主了,無奈把血染飄交上道:「就以此匕首為憑吧!三個月之後,任島主若是不來,今日誓言就當作廢。」
柳依依如此說法,任萬里竟覺得有點被羞辱的似,連忙揚聲道:「大丈夫一言九鼎,豈有作廢之理呢?柳姑娘這樣說未免小看我了。」
柳依依苦笑一聲,突然又道:「任島主,你還要答應我,在這三個月之內,今日你我之事,絕不可對第三人提起。」說罷,又低頭下去,好不靦腆。
任萬里看這柳依依費煞心思,這個不行,那個不好,到底她心裏頭在想些甚麼呢?難道我任萬里在她眼中是如斯不可負托終身的麼?不禁眉頭一皺,道:「柳姑娘,你放心,我任萬里不是長舌婦,又怎會搬弄自己的是非呢?」
柳依依聽他答來也妙,不覺眼角露出一絲笑意,但瞬間想起夜郎,又掩面長歎。

柳依依本欲等夜郎回來,便向他坦白說出事情的原委,若然他肯諒解,就與他遠走高飛,怎樣也不會嫁給任萬里,可是,事與原違,才過了一個月,有一天,她與雲谷師太正在打掃庵堂的時候,忽然從神臺上昏倒,險些摔了下來,幸好雲谷師太及時把她扶住,才沒有摔傷,雲谷師太喊道:「依依!你怎麼了?」見她昏迷不省,便連忙揉她陽白和人中幾處穴道,依依才漸蘇醒,眼睛一睜,頓見雲谷師太正在替自己診脈,失聲一驚,便迅速把手縮回,可是雲谷師太早已臉色大變,厲言道:「依依!你竟然…」
依依馬上跪倒地上,拉着雲谷師太的衣襟,哭道:「師太,弟子知錯了。」
雲谷師太與依依的父母原是同鄉,從小看着依依長大,對她最為疼愛。依依雖是帶髮修行,也是半個出家人,如今做出這種事情,若然讓住持冥心師太知道,定必逐出庵堂,一生名節盡毀,想到這裏,又驚又怒,便質問依依道:「是誰幹的好事?」
依依淚落汍瀾,卻一個字也不肯說,雲谷師太忽然想起有個當挑夫的傢夥時常與依依眉來眼去,便懷疑是他,又厲聲問道:「是不是那個叫夜郎的挑夫?」
依依聽師太提起夜郎,忙忙搖頭道:「不!不!不!不是他。」
雲谷師太見依依說不是他,反更焦急道:「那到底是誰?總得有個人吧!」
依依怕一旦說出了事實,師太會馬上把她送到松狐島去,那以後就別想再見夜郎了,故便矢口不說,雲谷師太拿她沒法,唯有盡量替她掩飾,但這種事情最終還是掩飾不了,冥心師太畢竟知道了。可是,不管眾峨嵋師太怎樣逼供,依依竟守口如瓶,不肯吐露半點風聲,又剛巧碰上峨嵋派百年壽誕,眾師太更不願在這個時候,把這種醜事宣揚出去,便決定把依依暫時禁錮在峨嵋金頂禪房裏,待過了百年壽誕再行處置。
壽誕前一天,剛巧也是柳依依與任萬里約定三個月期限的最後一天,而這一天,夜郎終於回來了。

(四)負盟
夜郎這趟走私翡翠到金陵僥倖成功了,高高興興領了酬勞,便趕返峨嵋山到依依表舅父家中去,豈料,那勢利刻薄的表舅父只隔着門嚷道:「你到峨嵋庵去找她吧!她當尼姑去了!」
「甚麼?依依當尼姑去了?」夜郎不敢相信自己的耳朵,便拚命地敲門,可屋子裏突然燈火全滅,對夜郎的叫喊,完全充耳不聞。夜郎急如熱鍋上的螞蟻,不管已經夜深,立刻奔跑到峨嵋庵去問過分明。來到峨嵋庵,奇怪雖然夜深,四周仍然燈火通明,到處張燈結綵,小尼姑們東奔西跑忙個不可開交,夜郎躲在矮牆後窺伺許久,也不見依依蹤影,反覺安心,心想:依依是不可能當尼姑去的,那可惡的表舅爺定是胡說八道,但依依如今又究竟在那兒?
正喃喃自語之際,背地抽了一陣陰風,猛然回首,見雲谷師太站在樹下冷冷地瞅住自己,連忙要溜就聽雲谷師太道:「你還要跑那兒去?你不是來找依依這丫頭的麼?」便即回頭問道:「你知道她在那裏?」
雲谷師太瞧瞧四周無人,便低聲道:「你跟我來吧!」雲谷師太趁眾人都在為明兒百年壽誕宴客的事忙個不停,把夜郎偷偷帶到峨嵋金頂禁地去,夜郎滿腹疑團,站在禁地之前,猶豫了一會,才問道:「為甚麼?依依會被囚禁在此?」
雲谷師太見他懵然不知,便老實告訴他道:「依依犯了峨嵋派清規戒律。」
夜郎似還不知她所指何事,又問道:「甚麼清規戒律?」
雲谷師太長歎一聲,才道:「她懷了身孕。」
先是說她當了尼姑,現在又說她懷了身孕,夜郎給弄糊塗了,才不到半年,怎會變成這個樣子?便不再管它禁地不禁地,一頭衝向峨嵋金頂。新月初上,夜郎穿過一莽叢林,乍見一石砌禪房倚在陡峭崖壁上,內裏暗透燈火,夜郎走到禪房前,見門上拴了一把大銅鎖,暗忖道:「難道依依就被鎖在這禪房裏?」細看這禪房的窗戶全是面向懸崖的,夜郎雖不懂武功,但膽色過人,便拉着崖邊的鐵索鏈,攀爬在峭壁上的石罅之間,夜郎身手敏捷,一會就攀到禪房的窗戶上,引頸一看,不禁失聲大叫:「依依!」
柳依依坐在禪房內蒲團上,迷迷糊糊耳畔響起一聲呼喚,那聲音明明就是夜郎,驚惶站起四處張望,才見夜郎抱住鐵窗欄杆道:「依依!我在這裏!」便衝前抓住他的手,緊緊不放道:「夜郎,真是你,你終於回來了。」
夜郎看她神色慌張,容顏憔悴,心裏疼痛,但念到雲谷師太說她有了身孕,又不得不把事情弄清楚,便柔聲問道:「依依,雲谷師太說你有了身孕,到底是不是真的?」
依依聽此一問,陡然鬆開了手,退後幾步,才吞聲道:「是真的。」
夜郎聽她親口說出,頃刻妒火中燒,雙手抖震,恨不得即時把那人碎屍萬段,咬咬牙齦,盯着依依,才冷然問道:「是誰的?」
依依從未見過夜郎如此憤怒,心裏惶恐,便改變主意,不敢告之以實情,支吾半天才無奈道:「夜郎,我已非清白之身,你把我忘了算!」
聽依依一語道來,夜郎連忙伸手隔窗道:「依依!不管是誰也好,我只想知道,是不是你甘願的?」
依依猛力摇頭,憤然道:「我怎會甘願呢?我千個萬個不甘願,我本一心等着你回來,誰料…」說着才緩步走回夜郎身邊。
夜郎雙手伸進窗欄,緊緊抓住依依胳臂,含淚道:「夠了,依依!有你這句話就夠了,我們一齊走吧!到金陵去,我現在有金子,我賺了一百両金子,你看!」正想伸手探進衣襟取出金子,突地衣領給人用力一揪,整個人飛身彈起,便被摔在禪房之前。黑夜中,一支亮鋥鋥的金捧已迎頭打下,夜郎舉臂一擋,幸好他素來體魄健壯,不然這棒已廢了他的左手了。抬頭便見峨嵋住持冥心師太和兩名老尼姑站在眼前,冥心師太大怒道:「原來是你這窩囊廢物,終於肯現身了麼?」說着又想再揮一棒。
卻聽依依在房門上一個小窺孔裏狂叫:「師太,不是他,不是他!」
夜郎跌倒地上,一時心灰意冷,隔着門向依依道:「依依,算了,就讓我認了吧!」
冥心師太聽他如此說,大感荒繆道:「甚麼叫讓我認了吧!是就是,不是就不是!你跟我聽清楚,是,我就馬上把你打死,不是,就立刻跟我滾!」
依依在門後拚命拍門哭叫道:「師太!不是他!不是他!」
可冥心師太好像一句也沒聽到,只是盯住夜郎,等着他的回答,夜郎耳畔都是依依的哭叫聲,一句句不是他!不是他!夜郎更覺難堪,心裏萬般妒恨,暗想:不是他,不是我,那是誰?你為甚麼還要護着他?想到憤恨痛心處,忽地抬頭厲眼一瞪,竟負氣說出一個「是」字,冥心師太一聽他說是,即舉棒揮打,狠狠地打,夜郎肩頭吃了一棍,卜倒地上,連衣服也打破,依依即時淚如湧泉,叫道:「我說了,我說了,那個人明天會來,他若然來了,你們就知道是誰了。」
此話一出,冥心師太和夜郎同時大驚,冥心師太聽了依依這樣說,才稍微滿意,冷笑道:「好,我今夜就饒過你,先看看那狗雜種是誰。」
說罷,命兩名尼姑把夜郎拖出金頂禁地,夜郎吃了冥心師太兩記金剛棒,依然硬朗,叫道:「依依,我一定會回來帶你走!」

翌日,破曉時份,峨嵋派眾弟子已齊集天罡堂裏,準備舉行百年祭祖大典。峨嵋派創立於大宋初年,聽說是由五代後周姓柴的一位亡國公主所創立,這位公主在國破家亡之後,隱居於峨嵋山裏,潛修苦練,自創峨嵋十二樁,晚年在峨嵋山建庵立派,只收立志出家,拋卻紅塵的女弟子,至今剛好一百年。
冥心師太是峨嵋派第六代住持,她雖出身寒微,但志氣頗大,出家後,祖師爺賜金剛無情棒,她為人面冷心狠,一點都不像個出家人,倒像個號令如山的女元帥,不過在她帶領下的峨嵋派才由一間庵堂發展成與當今八大門派齊名的武林後起之秀,冥心師太想借是次百年壽誕,邀請八大派來峨嵋觀摩,卻不好碰上柳依依這件棘手事,不得不嚴加查辦,便偷偷吩咐眾弟子,今日若見有陌生男子出現,馬上把他捆綁起來,留待今晚審問,免得這種醜事傳揚出去。
不久,八大門派的代表也陸續駕臨,雲谷師太、雲溪師太、雲河師太已在庵堂大殿躬迎,最早到場的竟是位居八大派之首的少林派,少林達摩堂方丈鏡不磨和尚摸着肚皮,帶着兩個童子,哈哈大笑的踏入庵堂道:「偷得浮生半日閑,峨嵋拜夀無愁煩。」
雲河師太見了鏡不磨和尚便高興道:「鏡不磨方丈!你還是那樣風趣呢!」
鏡不磨和尚抽抽手中葵扇道:「平生只願一杯酒,峨嵋山月半輪秋。」
這和尚如此語無論次,雲谷師太反倒合十低首,躬身道:「老方丈童顏鶴髮,反璞歸真,善哉!善哉!」
雲溪師太卻顯得有點拘謹,微笑道:「鏡不磨方丈,請到內堂用茶!」
鏡不磨和尚又哈哈大笑,便與兩童子步進庵堂去。
雲河師太轉身一望,跟着進來的就是青城派掌門郭尚天真人,看他長髯飄飄,頭上烏髻插有一支白玉簪,目光炯炯,精神霍霍,是當世一名劍術高手,幾年前才收了呂見南和于潛光做徒弟,而于潛光就是滕寬柔的師父。他今天親自帶同四名年輕弟子來見見世面,卻見各大門派都只是派弟子做代表,又比他遲到,心中早已不樂。
雲河師太頓首一拜道:「郭真人,今天氣色大好。」
郭尚天聽這師太還說他氣色大好,只道自己修養到家,喜怒不形於色吧!微微一笑,就領了眾弟子邁進內堂。
雲河師太回頭一看,雲溪師太正在與點蒼派大弟子沈英俠打招呼,而雲谷師太就迎了崆峒派的歐陽憐芳入了內堂。
才看着歐陽憐芳背影消失在長廊裏,華山派的瑞鶴形便出現眼前,瑞鶴形也曾教過滕寬柔武功,當年他不過是個二十來歲的小夥子,是華山派第六弟子,他為人頑皮搗蛋,資質卻是最好的,二十年後便當上了華山派掌門。看他調皮一笑道:「我不是最遲吧!」
雲谷師太笑道:「那倒不是,但也不早了,瑞大俠請快進內堂,青城派的郭真人早就到了,正在到處找你呢!」
瑞鶴形聽說郭尚天比他早到,眉頭大皺,便匆匆步進內堂。
繼而,衡山派的劉過龍,北岳派的武鳴雞,和海潮派的潘角蝸也都到了,八大門派雖已到齊,但還有一位貴客至今仍未現身。
雲谷師太看看天時,心裏不禁着急,暗道:「吉時快到了。」
雲溪師太和雲河師太都同時引頸張望,雲溪師太道:「每年峨嵋派壽誕,就是沒有請到八大門派,這個人都會來,今年百歲壽宴,請了八大門派,還是不能不請他,但難道,他反而不來了。」
雲谷師太回頭微笑道:「也很難說,這個人行事往往出人意表…」
說着,內堂裏驟然一陣哄動,三位師太便即快步返回內堂。

天罡堂前的庭院裏,聚集了各門派代表子弟,同時譁聲四起,瞧着庭院裏一棵老松樹,嗆咕嗆咕,指指點點,議論紛紛。雲谷師太三人卻一時愣住了,驚道:「奇怪!那裏來的松樹?這庭中本來無樹的,這老松樹盤根錯節,說不定已是千年古稀,怎會忽地在天罡堂前院長出來呢?」
眾人正自驚怪之際,屋簷上,一人身影快速掠過,劃然從天而降,豪聲朗笑道:「各位武林朋友,請恕我任某來遲了!」
此人是誰啊?功夫如此厲害,性情如此豪邁,這甚麼八大門派跟他一比,都顯得俗不可耐了,武林中人,若非有這種豪情,也枉稱江湖俠士了!夜郎混在挑夫的對伍裏,把八大派的禮物運送上峨嵋庵後,就偷偷躲在天罡堂前院圍牆下的樹叢裏,親眼看到任萬里如何手捧這幾百斤的千年松樹,飛身而至,如何一手把這盤根縱橫的松樹插進庭院泥土裏,看他飛來翻去,三兩道工夫便把這巨樹移種在地裏,然後倏然躍起,再飄然降下,夜郎從未見過如此精湛的武藝,一時看得瞠目結舌,心跳如雷,暗想:如果我也有這種武藝,現在便可馬上飛身到金頂把依依救出。想到這裏,又恨自己不過赤手空拳,捱不了幾棍冥心師太的無情金剛棒。
任萬里着地後,便拱手向主人家冥心師太和八大門派致歉,冥心師太和眾人欣賞過任萬里這招高空植樹後,無不嘖嘖稱奇,暗中歎為觀止,冥心師太卻還是沉着臉道:「任島主!這麼厚禮啊!」
任萬里這次除了應邀賀壽外,還有一件終身大事有求於冥心師太,素知她一向鐵面無私,不賣人情的,為免依依的事情節外生枝,便收起不羈性情,特別恭敬,答道:「師太言重了,我任某兩袖清風,松狐島四壁蕭條,就只有我書齋前這株金風玉露松最為珍貴,峨嵋派百年壽誕,送上千年古松,願峨嵋派老如松柏,千載長青!」
冥心師太冷面如常,卻早已聽得心花怒放,江湖上人人都知道這金風玉露松乃是松狐島所特有,這種松樹本與一般松樹無異,可是一旦長到千歲之年,便會日吐金風,夜生玉露,若是練武之人,每日吸風飲露,內力便可倍增,若是普通人,也可強身健體,延年益壽。聽說在松狐島裏,就只有兩三株罷了,任萬里今日竟拔下一株,還百里遙遙,親自送來峨嵋山,這份厚禮,實在非同小可,不明就裏的人,反倒覺得任萬里出手如此闊綽,難免有點阿諛奉承之嫌,不單讓松狐島搶盡風頭,也突顯出八大派送來的禮物太小氣了,有人竟因此暗暗懷恨。
一時眾人臉上表情各異,唯有鏡不磨和尚還是依然故我,又哈哈大笑,吟起詩來道:「金風玉露一相逢,便勝卻人間無數。」說罷搖着葵扇,大笑幾聲,眾人臉上才寬容一點。驟然天罡堂裏一聲鑼鼓,吉時已屆,雲谷師太等便迎了八大派和任萬里進入正殿,峨嵋百年祭祖大典就即將開始。
任萬里這時才抬眼四處張望,卻未見柳依依身影,心裏正自納悶,為何在峨嵋百年祭典這樣重要的場合,她身為峨嵋派弟子,竟不在場呢?後來見天罡堂裏喃喃頌經的全是尼姑,才想起柳依依仍是帶髮修行,故此不能參與祭典也未嘗不是道理!才放下心來,暗想:還是先公後私,待祭典完畢才向師太提親,來個雙喜臨門,也就不至於失禮柳姑娘了!
任萬里想到這裏,喜形於色,不自覺裂嘴露齒而笑,在如此莊嚴肅穆的場合裏,眾人莫不側目,竊竊私語,只道這任萬里空有一身絕世武藝,為人卻任性荒誕,不通庶務,松狐島在武林中,雖是聲威顯赫,仍被正派人士看成異類,平常甚少往來,只懾於他武功蓋世,當今武林,無與倫比,才忌憚三分罷了。
夜郎躲在樹叢裏噤若寒蟬,不敢做聲,見眾人都進了天罡堂正殿,本欲趁機往金頂看看依依,也不敢動身,心裏想:天罡堂內高手如雲,我就是稍一移位,也可能被他們發現,還是算了,萬一行藏暴露,冥心師太這趟定把我當場打死。依依說那個狗雜種今天會出現,到底是不是真的?今日峨嵋庵高手林立,這狗雜種幹了那種好事,還敢露面麼?想到這裏暗暗歎氣,又想:如果我與依依今次能逃離峨嵋山,我一定要拜師學藝,苦練一身武功,不然我憑甚麼保護依依呢?又看着任萬里俊朗不凡的背影,暗願道:「如果這位大俠肯收我為徒就好了!」

(五)提親
又一聲鑼鼓,峨嵋百年祭祖大典便告結束。
冥心師太盤膝坐於天罡堂正中央,祖師爺斷髮之下,天罡堂乃是晚唐建築,高聳的樓簷,以十二支黑檀圓木柱,每邊四支,牢牢頂住,中有橫樑,成井字形,堂中無柱,鋪上黑玄檀長條木板,峨嵋祖師爺百年前於此落髮為尼,把斷髮藏於鏡盒中,供奉於天罡堂上,自此以後,凡峨嵋女尼之斷髮全盤纏一起,歷百年之久,竟成了一條蟒蛇般粗大的髮繩,現供奉在祖師爺斷髮之下,暗喻斷情滅欲,法力無邊。
當峨嵋弟子恭謹地奉上斎菜之時,冥心師太已迫不急待介紹峨嵋絕學,道:「祖師爺始創峨嵋十二樁,天、地、之、心、龍、鶴、風、雲、大、小、幽、冥,十二大動功,近日已由本門弟子十二位得道師太練成,此十二樁配合十二種不同兵器,各有所長,又互補長短,既可獨自對敵,亦可聯成陣法,此十二樁…」
說到這裏,冥心師太停了下來,因為她看見任萬里突地站起身來,作為主人家,不得不理會他,便問道:「任島主不是要先行離去吧!除了峨嵋十二樁,還有天罡指穴功三十六式讓各大門派觀摩指教,任島主若然不在,就太掃大家的雅興了。」
說着,眾人看着主人家的面子,也點頭稱是,點蒼派的大弟子沈英俠更站起來,躬身道:「任島主武功蓋世,若然今日可以多露兩手,指教一下後輩,就不枉此行了。」
才說完,華山派的瑞鶴形也笑道:「不是麼?九大門派的武功都過於正路了,若沒有任島主松狐島的武功點石成金,推波助瀾,又怎夠精彩呢?」
瑞鶴形心直口快,沒想到他說九大派武功過於正路,卻含有貶意,其他門派代表只心裏嘀咕,但青城派的郭尚天與華山派世代相好,視瑞鶴形為自己子侄,見他說話如此冒失,免不了要提點他,便站起來道:「任島主請勿見怪,九大門派的武功過於正路,不代表松狐島的武功就過於邪路,瑞賢侄,你不是這個意思吧!」
瑞鶴形這才醒覺自己失言,但又覺得郭尚天為了討好八大門派,而故意把松狐島武功說成邪門左道,對任島主未免大為不敬,而自己原本又沒有這個意思,若任萬里怪罪起自己來,那就真是冤枉了。
眾人正各自忖度時,忽焉一陣如雷鼾聲,便不由自主往那鼾聲方向看去,原來少林派的鏡不磨和尚竟就躺身地上,呼呼入睡,兩童子在他身旁搖葵扇風,眾人只道少林得道高僧,游於物外,已入化境,只看了一眼,便不再理會,回頭卻見任萬里仍是站住,未曾說過一句話,反倒用奇異的眼光看着他。
任萬里本就不擅酬酢,聽他們客套話那麼多,只感厭煩,又至今未見柳依依現身,心裏就更是躁悶,那管得他們說松狐島的武功怎樣!他從來就不管,如今只心繫佳人,對武學之爭全無興趣,只怕他們擾擾攘攘,不知要到何時才休止,心想既承諾今天求親,就必須今天求親,便朗聲道:「請恕我任某今天不是來論武的。」
此語一出,眾人就更奇,都緊緊盯着他,看他怎麼說。
任萬里從懷中取出血染飄,雙手捧住,只向冥心師太一人道:「我此來峨嵋除了賀壽,就是來提親的。」
此語一出,眾人更是驚訝,衡山派的劉過龍和海潮派的潘角蝸還忍不住失聲一笑。而郭尚天即時流露出鄙夷的神色,暗道:「男子漢,大丈夫,應以功業為重,竟把兒女私情置於其上,此人空負一身好武藝。」
不過最吃驚的還是冥心師太,才見他手中的血染飄便即站起身來,厲聲道:「提親?提誰的親?」
任萬里立即上前躬身道:「就是貴派俗家弟子柳依依。」
冥心師太聽到果然是柳依依,臉色更是鐵青,原來柳依依所說的那人今天會來,若然來了,你們就知道是誰的那人就是任萬里。冥心師太素來就不甚欣賞任萬里,縱使松狐島與峨嵋派世代相交,冥心師太當了掌門後,也不甚與任萬里往來,只是雲谷和雲溪幾位師太與他特別投緣吧罷了!平時以為他只是不羈傲慢,沒想到他竟會淫辱本門弟子,一時氣憤填膺,瞧任萬里就更不順眼了。
雲谷師太見任萬里竟向依依提親,依依腹中塊肉想必就是他經手的,反而有點喜出望外,她瞭解任萬里是性情中人,他若是喜歡上依依,那依依就不會絕望了。但看冥心師太如此憤怒,要成其好事,恐怕還有一翻波折。
這時,躲在樹叢裏的夜郎也聽到他們提起依依名字,但樹叢與天罡堂正殿相隔十數丈之遥,除了依依兩字,其他前言後語就含糊不清,唯有豎起耳朵,聽他們怎樣說下去。
果然,冥心師太哼一聲道:「柳依依犯了本門清規戒律,已被囚禁起來。」
乍聽柳依依被囚禁起來,任萬里失驚道:「柳姑娘所犯何事?」
冥心師太冷笑道:「柳依依雖是俗家弟子,但她既入得本門,總有一天要削髮為尼,歸在本門之下,任島主還是另聘他人吧?」
任萬里手執血染飄,正色道:「柳姑娘不想做尼姑,冥心師太又何必強人所難?柳姑娘親手把這匕首交給我作為下聘的信物,到底柳姑娘想當尼姑,還是想嫁給我,冥心師太你大可請她出來,當面問清楚?」
任萬里這幾句話說得激昂跌宕,加上他內功深厚,聲音宏亮,處身十數丈外的夜郎也聽得清清楚楚,頓然又似被狠狠打了一棍無情金剛棒,不住搖頭,暗道:「不可能,那個狗雜種竟然就是這個武功蓋世的任萬里?依依的血染飄竟還落在他手上,此人武功高強,定是他以武力威脅依依就範…」想到這裏,猛然心頭一震,怒憤填胸,咬牙磨齒,覺得這個任萬里卑鄙下流,人格掃地,恨不得把他即場千刀萬剮。
眾人聽任萬里如此道來,覺得也頗有道理,但想到峨嵋派俗家弟子竟與人私訂終身,都難免掩嘴偷笑。冥心師太讓他當着八大門派如此質問,頓感峨嵋派顏面何存?幸好柳依依懷孕之事尚未涉露,但這任萬里咄咄逼人,喋喋不休,恐怕我不答應,他勢不作罷,此人武功如此了得,不好對付,總得設法拖延,便道:「任島主,今天是我派百年壽誕,你難道如此不知輕重麼?提親之事,日後再談吧!」
可是,任萬里又豈容她三言兩語就打發去?執意道:「百年壽誕和提親之事,孰輕孰重也是見人見智,況且我已送來千年古松,賀你壽誕,我對你有情,你為何對我不義?」
眾人聽到任萬里向冥心師太說我對你有情時,又忍不住偷笑,交頭接耳,低聲議論,冥心師太本想借百年壽宴揚威耀武,怎料反招來笑柄。心裏氣結難平,但既說不過他,最終唯有以武力解決,便高聲道:「好!若你能勝過本門峨嵋十二樁陣法,我就把柳依依交給你。」
論到武功,任萬里從未輸過,又那怕這小小的峨嵋十二樁陣法?任萬里便一口答應道:「好!一言為定。」
冥心師太見他回應如此爽快,真個完全沒把峨嵋派的功夫看在眼裏,心頭更是惱怒,這人不可一世,目中無人,若然讓他贏了,我十多年來苦心經營,為峨嵋派建立的聲望,就毀於一旦,想到這裏,不禁有點後悔邀他比武,但眾目睽睽下,又豈能頃刻反悔?唯有拚死迎敵,只許勝,不許敗。便揚聲一笑,以壯士氣道:「絕不食言。」
說罷,峨嵋十二樁主人便立即執起兵刃,平時和顏悅色的尼姑們霎時變了戰場上搖旗揮戈的女豪傑,個個杏眼睜圓,殺氣翻天。十二人瞬間便走到天罡堂外,排成隊形,嚴陣以待。天罡堂前院亦就是平日峨嵋弟子習武練功的場所,峨嵋十二樁在這裏就不知練過上千次了,對四周環境早已駕輕就熟,盡取主場之利,任萬里武功雖是高強,單打獨鬥或可穩操勝券,但若論闖陣,如不知破解陣法之玄機,就算武功再好,必終成困獸之鬥。
八大派代表看她們擺好陣勢,也都走到天罡堂外,各佔個好位置,準備看場好戲。冥心師太和任萬里齊步走到庭院當中,冥心師太便朗聲道:「今日八大派本是為賀壽而來,若然只為了任島主一點個人私事,而拖延太久,未免對八大派代表不恭,闖陣費時甚久,若不限時,恐怕永無休止,不若以三炷清香為限,時限一到,任島主若還未能破陣,就當輸了,如此約定,任島主可有膽色?可有異議?」
眾人都知道冥心師太如此說法,不過是以八大派為藉口,設定時限,為難任萬里,明眼人一看就看出冥心師太對任萬里十分忌憚,這倒顯出她對本門武功信心不足,相反任萬里眼眸裏沒有絲毫怯懼猶疑,坦然道:「沒有異議。」
看他果真持才傲物,還是天真無知呢?如此輕敵,若然輸了,也是活該,眾人冷眼旁觀,只抱着幸災樂禍的心態,根本不在乎誰勝誰負,誰對誰錯。在場人士當中,最在乎勝負的恐怕就是躲在樹叢裏的夜郎,現在所有人都來到前院,他們所說的話也清晰可聞,如今他與冥心師太站在同一陣線,等着看這自命不凡的任萬里一敗塗地,自取其辱。
冥心師太馬上命人燃起第一炷清香,便揚聲道:「任島主,請闖陣!」

任萬里負手站在陣前,先細心觀察其陣法的走勢分佈,見此陣分十二樁,各以不同的武器護樁,分別為刀槍劍戟,斧鉞鉤叉,鞕錘棍棒。各主一方,各守其位,先是四人一行,排成三行,擺成四方陣,見任萬里站住不動,忽爾又換了陣式,變成圓形陣,一會兒又變回四方陣,如此來回變化,誘敵入陣。本來在圓形陣時,中留空位,應是闖陣良機,但任萬里仍未移動半步,只見他眼珠隨着陣勢轉動,仿似一念之間已闖陣數十回,但人卻未動過一根指頭,這樣空想,不是白白浪費時間麼!眾人正看得心癢難當,瞧瞧案頭,清風一過,灰燼簌簌落下,頭一炷清香只餘半炷罷了。
兀然,看任萬里飛身一躍,便闖進了四方陣去,眾人失聲一叫,四方陣密不透風,這樣硬闖,豈不自投羅網?不禁覺得任萬里武功雖然厲害,原來對陣法一竅不通,可是唯有冥心師太暗暗叫苦,大喊不妙,說時遲,那時快,但見任萬里飛身入陣,從天降下四方陣裏十二樁主頭上,十二樁主即時向天揮動武器,但任萬里也瞬間連環施展聽松十三式,十三式都配合絕頂輕盈矯捷的身法,就像一條青龍在空中盤旋,十二樁各式兵器馬上向他雙腳掃去,但他身法奇快,各式兵器只能削到他衣角罷了,驟見他一腳踩住刀背,飛身翻騰,便又踏住長矛,借力一抖,已施展出聽松十三式的雪裏臥松眠,和月色冷青松兩招,四方陣陡然便掉了四樁,變了小長方陣,如是者,十三式才使了九式,十二樁陣勢已全被壓倒。四方陣一被打散,馬上又換回圓形陣,任萬里見陣式一變,心中大喜,即時縱身脫陣,站在陣外,眾人無不為他抹一額冷汗。冥心師太臉色一沉,任萬里卻雙眸閃亮,目光如炬,負手含笑。原來他剛才硬闖四方陣是抛磚引玉,險中求勝,他早就看出此十二樁陣法內裏乾坤不過是個天圓地方陣,天圓地方陣是由傳說中黃帝戰勝蚩尤的十干十二支陣演變而來的。十二支為地,方陣為地,十干為天,圓陣為天,此陣是以圓陣誘敵,使人誤以為有機可乘,卻原來是個陷阱,任萬里闖過方陣,知道原來不是牢不可破,便知是個假陣,陣勢一鬆,又急轉回圓陣,就肯定了自己的想法,如今若要破陣,就必須闖入圓陣,人定勝天就是破解天圓地方陣的門徑,任萬里想通了破陣之法,勝券在握,雖見第二炷清香已燒了一半,也不慌不忙道:「冥心師太,我這次來真的了。」說罷,正要再闖,冥心師太卻突然喝住,守香人馬上把清香熄滅,冥心師太也看出任萬里胸有成竹,已有勝算,但心念峨嵋百年聲威不可一朝盡喪,竟然還有後着,便向任萬里拱手道:「任島主果然神機妙算,竟看出了此陣的玄機,只是世事難料,任島主也未免太過自信了。」
冥心師太最後一着就是心理戰術,企圖打擊任萬里的信心,讓他懷疑自己的判斷,可是任萬里從來就不理會別人怎麼說,他這樣想,就這樣做,一向如此,率性而為,對冥心師太所言全不放在心上。冥心師太又道:「在任島主再闖陣之前,可否容我換人?」
任萬里聽她說要換人,也沒看她,只淡淡道:「有何不同!」
他說得沒錯,陣法不是個人比武,不管換了誰人,陣法的結構還是不變,的確沒有不同,但在冥心師太聽來卻十分逆耳,只道他氣焰凌人,便心頭冒火,也暫且忍住,道:「好,雲谷,你出來!」
雲谷師太馬上走出陣形,走到冥心師太旁邊,冥心師太在她耳邊咕嚕咕嚕說了好多話,像交待身後事一般的詳細,眾人又低聲竊笑,想峨嵋百年壽誕竟成了蒙羞之日,也暗暗替她難過。
冥心師太打發了雲谷師太去後,便立刻取出無情金剛棒,縱身躍進陣中,取代了雲谷的位置,眾女尼見住持師太親自押陣,一時士氣如虹,聲威大壯,任萬里雖勝券在握,也覺凜然,就更專心致意,全力以赴,不敢貿然輕敵了。
守香人把清香再次燃點,就只剩下一炷半香的時間。
八大派見冥心師太手握金剛棒,親自押陣,英姿颯爽,氣勢煥然一新,即時抖擻精神,心想:也許還有驚喜,說不定好戲還在後頭?
夜郎看到這裏還不知誰勝誰負,心裏輾轉忐忑,每念到這任萬里若一旦勝出,依依被他帶走之時,我該如何處置?冥心師太的金剛棒尚且無情,此人如狼似虎,我如何能從他手中把依依奪回?一時對任萬里這個人,又是害怕,又是痛恨。想到這裏,見那任萬里猛然躍起,赤手空拳又闖入陣中。
天圓地方陣奧妙全在一個圓字,闖陣之人若要破陣,必須要闖入圓心,可是一旦闖入圓心就再無出路。方陣雖破,但要破圓陣絕不輕易,人在圓圈之中,如在天羅地網之內,四面楚歌,平常人闖入陣中,即目不暇給,只顧忙於接招應對,完全處於被動地位,眼前雲動潮來,龍吟虎嘯,十二女尼刀纓橫掃,長鞭掦土,銀斧霍霍,金鉞爍爍,闖陣之人便如絲纏蜘蛛網,動彈不得。
可任萬里並非平常人,他心靜如明鏡,視之如無物。他入陣之後,並不忙於接招,反以極速身法,眩其目光,守陣出樁之人根本看到他的身影,只見風卷雲殘,月落星沉,任萬里不待出樁之人還擊,霎時飛身舞袖,半空不停翻騰打滾,捲起黃沙撲面,旋風陣陣,抖下金風玉露松不少針葉。眾女尼根本不見人影,又何以出招?彈指間手中兵刃盡都脫手,更是無從出招,只見任萬里翻了約三十個筋斗!剛好團團走了一圈,倏地飛出圓陣,嘎嚓嘎嚓就把手中奪來兵器擲於地上,眾女尼盡皆花容失色,呆呆訥訥,如若木雞。各大門派卻看到熱血沸騰,情緒高漲,瑞鶴形最按捺不住,馬上拍手叫道:「好招式,松狐島輕功當真名不虛傳,任島主,不知這招有沒有名堂呢?」
任萬里只隨意答道:「筋斗雲蹤腳。」
郭尚天卻暗暗不屑道:「甚麼筋斗雲蹤腳,這種輕飄飄的功夫欺負女流之輩還可。」心裏很想與任萬里一較高下,卻還是膽怯,想到萬一像峨嵋派那樣丢人現眼,當眾出醜,便就作罷。
任萬里一招就破了峨嵋十二樁陣,也沒半點得意神色,轉過身來向着冥心師太,眉額深鎖,正色道:「冥心師太,請你履行承諾,立即交出柳姑娘。」
冥心師太看看案上清香竟還有半截,仍然冒着嫋嫋白煙,又看看十二兵器盡皆脫落,峨嵋十二樁陣法潰不成軍,事實擺在眼前,不容抵賴,便朗聲道:「好!我峨嵋派技不如人,也無話可說,雲溪,你去告訴雲谷,叫她帶柳依依來!」
任萬里見冥心師太信守承諾,馬上放人,心中大喜,竟向冥心師太拱手一拜道:「多謝冥心師太,請恕小弟剛才魯莽,得罪了各位神尼了。」
眾人見這任萬里一提到這個柳依依便喜上眉梢,明明贏得乾淨俐落,反倒要賠罪,都覺得此人喜怒無常,荒誕不倫。想今日峨嵋派揚威立信不成,卻與松狐島結成姻親,也不失為一件風流韻事?更能一睹松狐島絕世武學,總也算不枉此行了。
鏡不磨和尚不知何時睡醒,又吟起詩來,道:「百里遙遙送客松,萬綠叢中一點紅。」眾人相看一笑,想這鏡不磨和尚吟念的詩句雖然狗屁不通,卻仿有弦外之音,耐人尋味,有人聽了歡喜,有人聽了生氣。
夜郎這時跌坐樹叢裏,早已面無血色。眾人正在等待柳依依之時,任萬里心情舒暢,耳根清靜,就立刻發現樹叢後有人躲藏,驀地往樹叢裏一看,就與夜郎四目相投,但只看了一眼。夜郎見他眼神甚是溫柔,如斗室裏的燭光,但任萬里看此人眼神裏卻閃爍着悲痛、恐懼、徬徨、仇恨,像秋山中的野火,燃燒在血紅的楓林裏。任萬里瞬即把目光移開,也沒有揚聲呼喊,就當作沒有看見他。
轉身回頭,柳依依倩影便浮現眼前,任萬里立即上前細心端詳一番,見她低首含愁,面有淚痕,衣帶寬鬆,長裙曳地,不禁痛心。眾人見這柳依依果然清麗脫俗,也難怪任萬里對她如此癡迷了。
冥心師太在入陣之前,在雲谷師太耳畔咕嚕咕嚕所說的話就是吩咐雲谷師太勸服柳依依,若然任萬里真的勝出,柳依依來到天罡堂時不要胡亂說話,只要她肯跟任萬里走,就前事不咎,就算輸了武功,也要保住峨嵋派的清白,免得人前人後,閒言閒語。
雲谷師太花了很多唇舌才勸服柳依依,她不管雲谷師太怎樣說任萬里是當今武林如何出色的人物,也不首肯,因為她知道一旦跟任萬里走了,與夜郎便從此天涯海角,但念到腹中塊肉,雲谷師太一句:「畢竟任島主才是父親,你難道要他骨肉永不相認嗎?」說到這裏,真不知是緣是孽,柳依依已別無選擇。冥心師太敗陣之後,垂頭喪志,見了柳依依更是生氣,便厲聲道:「任島主,你立刻把她帶走,以後不可再踏足峨嵋山半步。」
任萬里心想勝敗乃兵家常事,不明白冥心師太為何如此偏激,也不管了,轉頭對柳依依,柔聲道:「柳姑娘,那我們走吧!」
柳依依只是低聲啜泣,跪下向冥心師太叩頭謝恩,冥心師太也沒瞧她一眼,任萬里輕輕把她扶起來,抬頭一聲告辭!便摟着依依纖腰,倏然飛躍屋簷上,柳依依回首之際,乍見樹叢裏有人影晃動,原來就是夜郎,柳依依沒想到臨走前還可再見他一面,但見他昂首顧盼,眼有淚影,便淒然一笑,朱唇開合間,隱約吐出三個字:「忘了我!」
夜郎肝腸寸斷,魂離索落。自此以後,就不再叫夜郎了,改名段魂鈴,埋身於金陵醉鄉之中,散盡家財,潦倒街頭,最終赤膊紋身,投靠黑幫,混跡江湖,一生命運顛倒,身不由己。

(六)狼噬
青燈冷焰,段魂鈴與千千對坐桌前,直至拂曉。
晨風蕩漾,吹滅了殘燭,段魂鈴訴說了半生情仇,貯滿了一腔怒火,盯着千千道:「任萬里自恃一身武藝,欺凌弱小,淫我所愛,我該不該恨他?」
千千不為所動,只冷冷回應:「你那麼恨他,大可到松狐島去找他報仇,你把對他的恨發洩在我頭上來,不也一樣欺凌弱小,那跟他有何不同?」
段魂鈴沒料到這任振衣還如此牙尖嘴利,對他一生不幸,竟無半點同情,更是暴跳如雷,盡數任萬里的不是,道:「他既得依依,卻為一己私欲,對依依並無半點憐愛,只逼她延續香火,直至她燈枯油盡,芳華早殞,他糟蹋了依依一生幸福,害我孤苦零丁,寂寞終老,他…可不可恨?」
千千斜睨冷笑,朗聲回答道:「我爹對娘親千依百順,溫柔體貼,愛護有加,夫妻倆水乳交融,感情不知多好,松狐島一段仙侶奇緣,江湖上誰不知道,難道跟着你在黑幫裏打混,做那些傷天害理的事,整天提心吊膽的好麼?」
段魂鈴給千千這段數白氣得七竅吹煙,彈了起來,全身發抖,道:「你…」見千千事事護着任萬里,把他看成完人,心頭妒火如焚,覺得任萬里此人活在世上,對自己是一個莫大的諷刺,沉聲恨道:「任萬里既然如此愛她,依依死後,他為何不自盡殉情?還留在世上作甚?」
千千念起自娘死後,爹爹終日鬱鬱寡歡,自囚於書齋中,再沒踏出松狐島半步,也沒續弦,一生守節,便歎氣道:「我爹自娘死後,活得像行屍走肉,這又與死何異?」瞧那段魂鈴還是全身抖索,怒目相對,竟再火上添油道:「你說得那麼愛我娘,在她嫁給我爹後,你也應該自盡殉情,那你又為何活到現在?」
在千千眼中,此人一生的不幸都是自己一手造成,見他被駁斥得無詞以對,更便放膽直言道:「你凡事只知其一,不知其二,卻又頑固偏激,自以為是,你一直以為是我爹姦汚我娘在先,其實你根本就不知道當天發生了甚麼事?」
聽此强辭狡辯,段魂鈴淒然冷笑道:「那個時候你在哪兒?你究竟知不知道自己在說些甚麼?」
千千正色接道:「我那時雖還未在人世,但在我被困碧寒宮時,是妙音天君親口告訴我,是他在茶裏放了團圓合歡散,他們才會失卻理性,情不自禁…」
千千天真地以為把實情說出,就可輕易化解段魂鈴對爹的幾十年仇恨,可是,當段魂鈴聽到情不自禁,對任萬里的妒恨更達至頂點,沸沸騰騰,不能自控,狂笑三聲,伸手往衣襟裏拿出散人逍遙香,在千千眼前晃了兩下,冷笑道:「甚麼團圓合歡茶?我也有散人逍遙香。」說着舉掌一擊,眼前桌子頓成碎屑,和逍遙香一同撒在地上,千千登時嚇得目瞪口呆,眼珠溜溜盯着段魂鈴,卻不敢再說一個字。段魂鈴神情痛苦地雙手揉臉,片刻才恨恨道:「任萬里武功蓋世,內功深厚,這點點散藥,算得甚麼?他明明是借醉行兇,欺負依依一介弱質女流…」說到這裏,俯身直厲千千,雙瞳突爆,血絲滿布,狀甚恐怖,壓着聲道:「你是未嘗過不知道吧!」
千千聽此一語,不由得打了個寒顛,雞皮疙瘩,全身戰慄。段魂鈴不復多言,含怒拂袖便踏出破樓,迎面卻撞上一人,正是白素面,他似站在那裏,等了許久,段魂鈴與他打了個眼色,便邁步離開。
千千瞪着眼,一時茫然無主,但見白素面步步迫近,像在籠裏抓小雞的專注,才猛然驚覺,素知此人對自己虎視眈眈,心懷不軌,正欲拔翅高飛,卻被腳上兩塊鉛錘絆倒,千千雙手按在地上,眼前一陣黃煙,便就昏倒。

段魂鈴離開了隨雲居,一口氣便跑下山坡,片刻就來到白雲寺門前,卻盲頭撞上一人,抬眼一看,那人便道:「原來是段施主!」
段魂鈴一瞧這人是個老和尚,禿頭長髯,身穿灰短袍,肩挑行囊,似是剛從遠地回來,段魂鈴靜心細看才認出他來,強笑道:「噢!原來是智通大師?」
白雲寺住持智通方丈常常為寺中事務奔走於峨嵋山各寺院中,早在柳依依雙親還在世時,便互有往來,那時柳依依父母時常遠道而來白雲寺上香,認為這裏的普薩靈驗,當時的夜郎就充當轎夫同來,只求一路上可以多看依依幾眼。十八年前,段魂鈴在隨雲居重遇柳依依,翌晨,依依不辭而別,也來過白雲寺向智通方丈問過依依的事,這老和尚記性很好,而且懂得相面,三十多年前他看見夜郎時,就曾經跟他相過面,他那時說:「你兩顴高聳,是個有權位的人,但下巴尖削,無兒女福份,注定一身孤獨。」
那時的夜郎年輕力壯,心想若是有了權位,還那怕沒有家室?有了家室,又那怕沒有兒女?對這和尚所說的話,不過一笑置之。事隔十多年,智通方丈一見面便就認得是他,那時段魂鈴欲打聽依依的所在,智通大師卻只吟了兩句詩,他說:「日暮孤帆泊何處,天涯一望斷人腸。」暗示他與柳依依情感坎坷,終以悲劇結束。
段魂鈴素來不信命運,卻一生被命運作弄。又過了十八年,這次智通方丈看見段魂鈴便高興道:「段施主,我等了你十六年,你今天終於重臨白雲寺了。」
段魂鈴奇道:「等了我十六年?智通大師此話怎解?」
智通方丈微笑道:「段施主請跟我到寺中來就會明白一切。」
說着,便領了段魂鈴到白雲寺內,觀音堂前那個大香爐鼎,往昔插滿了香燭,如今不過寥寥落落,幾縷青煙,智通方丈又把段魂鈴引到念經房,念經房內就只有蒲團木魚和習習山風,段魂鈴正惆悵智通大師所指何事,心裏隱隱忐忑不安,智通大師便從木魚底下抽出一封書信,笑道:「這信壓在這木魚下十六年了,每天就等着你來拿。」說着已把手中書函遞與段魂鈴。段魂鈴拿在手上,看那信封發黃,字跡模糊,彷彿寫着段夜郎親啟幾個字,段魂鈴馬上撕開信封,取出信函,紙張經褶疊多年,早成斷屑殘簡,勉強打開,抖落塵灰如煙,信中字跡撩亂,墨色消褪,卻一看就認出是柳依依親筆,段魂鈴雙眸乍亮,再看頭一句寫着夜郎愛鑒,不覺一陣目眩,依依信中如此親昵的稱呼,心底不禁悸動,提提氣,才靜心讀下去…
「念茲在遠,郎蹤無定,錦書難托,世態幻變,不一足陳,而今留彌之際,乞望憐恕,得不憾乎?隨雲一夕,淫雨霏霏,抱擁之間,能無怨乎?稚女何辜,生而無母,豈可無父?九女千千,乃汝骨肉,他朝相見,南蠻匕首,夜郎為記,汝當念之乎?淚下渫渫,清涕纍纍,不知所云,依依絕筆。」
段魂鈴讀到九女千千,乃汝骨肉,霎時眼前一黑,朝霞似劍,罡風如刀。

翁長鬚在馬廄裏一覺醒來,卻不見了白素面,便到破樓去找他,來到破樓,只見桌椅碎屑和盤碗菜肴散了一地,不見半個人影。這時晨光初露,萬物生輝,翁長鬚反感到一種黑壓壓的氣氛瀰漫,低頭暗忖道:「奇怪!人呢?都跑那兒去了,連那丫頭…」
才說到丫頭,乍見原本扣在千千腿上的兩塊鉛錘,鎖頭解了,擱在地上,翁長鬚知道原是白素面掌着鑰匙的,心裏一急,脫口道:「難道四弟他…」
驟然又見千千一雙繡花鞋子,一隻在東,一隻在西,翁長鬚連忙把鞋子撿起,臉色一沉,便知道出了岔子,突然閣樓上傳來幾聲呻吟,翁長鬚捧着千千的繡花鞋子,舉頭一望,但見閣樓廂房房門緊閉,斜暉裏微塵暗飛,一陣狂風刮起,段魂鈴飛身撲出便登上閣樓,見他舉掌就砸開房門,門一晃開,千千即雙臂擁着衣裳,亂髮披面的衝了出來,在段魂鈴身邊擦過,也沒看到他,段魂鈴伸手掠住她的臂彎,千千才回頭看了他一眼,兩人同時流露着極端惶恐驚慄的神情,半晌,段魂鈴才囁嚅道:「你…是我女兒!」
千千早已魂離魄散,聽此一說,以為他還要羞辱自己,更像見鬼的拚命掙脫,赤足披髮就衝下樓階,一片落葉似飄往白雲寺去。段魂鈴追了幾步,見翁長鬚拿着斗篷鞋子追了出去,才停下來。他此時滿心悔恨羞惱,悲憤莫名,轉身見白素面也是一般衣衫不整,兩手還提着褲管兒,段魂鈴滿身怒氣,衝前執起他的衣襟,正要揮拳,白素面一臉冤枉的叫道:「老大,你…我…她怎會變了是你的女兒?」
段魂鈴一拳砸爛土壁,把白素面狠狠的摔在地上,便衝下樓階,怔怔地俯瞰半隱於霞煙裏的白雲寺,霎時一片烏雲蓋頂,就下了一場驟雨。

翁長鬚冒雨追到山下白雲寺,驟雨中傳來幾聲鐘響,想必是白雲寺的和尚們開始早課了,頌經之聲挾在嘩拉嘩拉的雨聲中,叫人更是心煩意亂,翁長鬚驀見千千站在寺院山後的斜坡上,呆呆地看着山谷裏波瀾洶湧的流水,一任狂風橫雨打在身上,翁長鬚於心不忍,便上前把斗篷披在她的肩頭,千千微微瑟縮一抖,也沒回望,翁長鬚把她的鞋子放在地上,道:「丫頭,你回家去吧!回松狐島去吧!」
說罷,就轉身離去。
千千反復想着回松狐島去吧這句話,眼前浮起了月橋親切的面容,心頭一凜,便又有了生機,喃喃道:「回松狐島去吧!月橋不也這樣說嗎?我不能死在這裏,就算要死,也待我回到松狐島再死吧!」想到這裏,一眶淚水淌淌,始終沒有掉下來,霍然回頭,穿好了鞋子,即騎風乘雨,不畏狂瀾,穿越梭梭林徑,踏上歸家路上最後一程。

翁長鬚回到破樓裏,見段魂鈴和白素面各站一隅,神情甚為沮喪,翁長鬚長歎一聲,道:「老大!你是我老大,我一向對你十分敬重,但這次你們這樣做就確實不對。」
段魂鈴還是低頭無語,而白素面眼神閃縮,想事已至此,還有甚麼方法可以補救呢?突然靈機一觸,便笑道:「老三,你怪老大也沒用,如今之計,唯有我吃虧一點,把那丫頭娶了過來,老大麼?我改叫一聲岳父不就成了麼?」
這白素面真是無恥到極點,這種話說得一點都不臉紅,段魂鈴狠狠地瞪了他一眼,心裏怒火未熄,又燃起了火頭,可是,他心裏知道,現在他最恨的不是白素面,而是他自己,想到依依遺書中苦苦哀求,就求我顧念千千是我親生骨肉,而我竟親手糟蹋了她,心底反復向天問了千百次,為何不早一天讓我看到這信?
翁長鬚指着白素面的鼻子道:「你還說這種風涼話,唉!我看你們都忘記了我們四個人是怎樣結拜為兄弟的,當年,我們窮途潦倒,都只因為我們壞事做盡,我是一個見錢開眼的鹽梟,販賣私鹽,謀取暴利,欺壓老百姓。你老四,風流自命,是個採花大盜,一生也摧殘了不少良家婦女吧!」
白素面被翁長鬚翻起舊賬來,竟隱隱有點兒羞慚之色。翁長鬚又接道:「老二無言道人是個假道士,到處招搖撞騙,但在我們四人當中,算是害人最淺,卻又死得最早。」
數到段魂鈴,翁長鬚慎重地上下打量了段魂鈴一番,雖然素來敬重他為人剛毅不屈,渾身是膽,但今日目睹此人倫慘事,竟也正氣凜然道:「老大,你離開青龍幫時說過一句話,你還記得麼?」
見段魂鈴仍是低頭不語,便接道:「你說一將功成萬骨枯,才不過爬到三當家罷了,腳下已白骨纍纍,是你老大勸我們改邪歸正的,你為何今天自己反倒…」
翁長鬚說到這裏,段魂鈴突地抬頭轉身向他直直走去道:「老三,我今天做了甚麼事來了,你看到麼?你說吧!你看到甚麼?」
見段魂鈴忽然像失心瘋的胡亂說話,翁長鬚便即時封口,不敢再說,但段魂鈴還是一步步逼近翁長鬚,接道:「你為甚麼不說?老三,老四,這些年來我怎樣待你們?」說着回頭瞧了白素面一眼,眼神裏充滿怨憤,轉頭又對翁長鬚道:「你今天要算我的舊賬麼?我告訴你,你剛剛說得最對的就是老二不該比你們死得早…」
說到這裏,翁長鬚大感不妙,正欲拔腿而逃,才一動身,乍聞幾響噹噹鈴聲,段魂鈴竟已抽刀狂號,手起刀落便往翁長鬚背脊砍下,翁長鬚忙忙擲出赤鬚繩,纏住九孔彎刀刀背,段魂鈴馬上使出摧魂鬼手奪命刀,一掌打在翁長鬚肩頭,揮刀掙斷赤鬚繩,回刀便往他頸項狠狠砍下,翁長鬚立即血濺當場,倒在地上。白素面怎也料不到段魂鈴竟忽萌殺機,看翁長鬚猝死眼前,嚇得一時雙腳發軟,段魂鈴已回頭盯着他道:「唯有你們都死了,才可以洗清今天的罪孽。」
他話剛說完,白素面即飛身而逃,段魂鈴顯然已失理性,今天務要趕盡殺絕,奮然一躍擋在眼前,刀背一晃,鈴聲乍響,便削下他的人頭來,隨手撕下掛在掌櫃前的酒簾,把人頭接住,包裹起來便插身而去。
那時驟雨初竭,白雲寺早課完畢,又敲響一記鐘聲,咚!餘韻悠長,荒山寂滅,再沒一點兒人聲。

(七)琴劍
從太白山到松狐島一般只需三四天的腳程,千千悲痛之餘,歸心似箭,日夜不停,身法並用,竟不用兩天就回到松狐島千仞絕壁之下,千千舉頭一望,松狐九峰,峰峰峭立,夕嵐披戴,光影浮掠,虛無縹緲,遺世出塵。千千踏着晚霞,飛身穿洞過橋。落梅瀑垂掛天際,千千想著未見過面的母親。月松橋芳草離離,千千思念遠逝的愛情。過了銀狐道,跨越燕松橋,才上了九劍臺,九劍臺上九橋縱橫,引水成池,池中種有九種不同的花草,初夏正是粉荷盛放之際。這就是歷代島主試劍練劍的地方,但千千從未見過爹爹在此練劍,九劍也是只知其名,不知其法,而在江湖上也屬傳聞,傳說松狐島第七代島主,也就是任萬里的爺爺任停雲,曾經以此九劍分金斷玉,擊敗當年八大派的八位劍術名家,其中包括青城派郭尚天的師叔赤霞子真人,但自此以後,靈狐九劍便再沒有在江湖上出現過,而任萬里是從來不佩劍的,所以江湖中人就暗自猜測,以為靈狐九劍到了任萬里這一代經已失傳。
千千走上最後百級石階就到了懷玉峰絕頂,任萬里字懷玉,但他行走江湖以來,素稱任某,故知其字者不多,懷玉峰上就是任萬里的居所,他獨居書齋草廬十數年,有時閉關數月,不見人影,而千千與姐姐們就居住在石壁下的幾棟茅舍中,與書齋草廬對望,中隔石橋,名冷松,橋下飛瀑流泉,萬丈深淵。
茅舍中,柴扉虛掩,青燈一盞,千千慢步移至門前,輕輕把門推開,斗室昏暗,燭光下驟見一婦人身影,年約五十來歲,倚坐窗前,手拿針線,正在縫綴衣裳,乍見千千立於門前,便站起喊道:「是九妹麼?」
千千才聽她喊了句九妹,即撲倒上前,伏在她腳下,哇一聲就哭了起來,把這年多以來所受的一切委屈,化作滔滔淚流,拚湧而出,放聲淘嚎,盡情發洩,哭罷了還在抽噎,那婦人撥開她披面的秀髮,才緩緩道:「唉!你這丫頭,到底去那兒了?到現在才回來。」
千千卸下了黑斗篷,心裏有個疑問,不問不快,便擦乾眼淚,抬頭看着這婦人,正色地問道:「宓姨,你要老實告訴我…我到底是不是爹的女兒。」
宓姨,姓周,是千千的奶娘,從小把她帶大,疼愛如己出,但就是過於嬌縱了,養成她事事任性妄為,一意孤行的個性。
聽千千突然問出這樣的問題,宓姨馬上搖頭笑道:「你這傻丫頭,竟問這種話,你不是島主的女兒,還會是誰的女兒呢?你跟島主的性情一模一樣,都是外頭直,裏邊彎。」
千千聽了,才下眉頭,又問道:「那為甚麼我八個姐姐名字都有個惜字,而單單我沒有?」
聼此一問,宓姨即呵呵大笑起來道:「不是說你裏邊彎麼?總愛問這些刁鑽的問題,唉!說起來,你不要怪你爹啊!在你出生之前,島主以為這次定生個男兒,便先替你改了個男兒名字,叫千里,他說千里馬也不過日行千里,何必要萬里呢?他只願你能有他十分之一的成就便夠了,怎料,生來又是個女娃,穩婆問島主九千金名字叫甚麼,島主愣了一下,只說了一個千字,穩婆再問一次,他又說了一個千字,還是說不下去,穩婆就自作主張,把你的名字叫做千千了…」
聽到這裏,千千不禁哈哈大笑起來,道:「原來是這樣子!真虧得那穩婆!」一頓,又問:「那為何後來我又叫做任振衣呢?」
宓姨見她孜孜地問,便老實回答道:「是這樣子的,島主後來覺得還是應該給你正式定名,怎可任憑穩婆胡說八道,便翻查典籍,看到有一句甚麼振衣千仞崗,就是這樣,在你滿月時便正式更名任振衣。」宓姨這樣說是為逗千千歡喜,不過也是事實。
千千心裏想:原來如此,爹表面上雖然不喜歡我,還是悉心為我更名定姓,我又豈會不是他的女兒呢!
宓姨見她篷頭垢臉,一身酸臭,就迫不急待問這種事情,一定是在外頭聽了甚麼閑言冷語,便撫着她的臉道:「你現在回到松狐島,沒有人敢再欺負你了。」
聽宓姨如此說,千千心頭一抖,眼圈又紅起來,宓姨馬上道:「看你臭氣熏天的,我立刻去燒水給你洗澡,再弄幾個你喜歡吃的小菜,去年栗子收成很好,不如做個栗子燒子雞好不好,你最愛吃這道江南名菜了…」
宓姨說着說着,回頭見千千伏在地上,似哭似睡,便長歎一聲道:「唉!可憐的孩子。」

千千清晨醒來,發現自己睡在自己的房間,自己的床上,才敢確定是真的回到家了,看看房間的佈置一如往昔,四周一塵不染,几明窗淨,定是宓姨每天灑掃抹拭,又看看窗外流瀑淙淙,蒼松倒掛,幾聲猿啼,散落於雲海飄渺間。
千千坐在床上,猶自發呆,宓姨已捧着早點進來道:「嗯!你醒來了!不多睡一會?」
千千搔搔頭,看看自己髒得像隻泥鴨子,便笑道:「我怎會睡到床上來呢?我明明趴在地上就睡着了。」
宓姨笑道:「是島主抱你到房間來的,他說不要吵醒你,讓你睡吧。」
「是爹?」千千才聽到是爹,便興奮得彈起身來。
宓姨放好了早點,接道:「那當然,你現在那麼重,我怎移得動你?」
千千坐到桌子前,又問道:「那六姐、七姐和八姐呢?她們往哪兒去了?」
宓姨揚首一笑道:「還說呢?她們全出嫁去了。」
千千拿起筷子邊吃邊說道:「不是吧?那麼快都嫁出去了?我以後不是看不到她們了?」
宓姨笑道:「不快了,她們都快三十歲了,那有閨女那麼晚才出嫁的,恐怕就只有松狐島的千金吧了。」
千千聽宓姨說得那麼有趣,不禁噗哧一笑道:「你不是說千金麼?那當然要善價而沽,這有甚麼不對?」
宓姨看她還是那麼嘴刁,便正色道:「你別笑,下一個就輪到你了,你看!這些東西都是武林中各大派和世家送來的聘禮,就等着你回來挑吧了。」
千千這才看到墻邊窗邊都堆滿了大大小小的錦盒和布帛,千千隨意掃了一眼,猛然心頭一陣劇痛,想到一夜之間,貞操已為白素面所奪,頓時雙手發抖,筷子本來挾住一粒鳥蛋也悚然掉下,宓姨看她神情有異,便摸摸她的額,細聲問道:「你怎麼了?生病了麼?」
千千強笑抬頭,眼圈紅紅道:「沒有,我想念八姐她們吧了。」
宓姨歎氣道:「唉,女大不中留,以前松狐島多熱鬧!但自從夫人去世以後,你大姐惜陽就開始出嫁了,然後幾乎一年就嫁掉一個,若不是你六姐、七姐、八姐挑剔,也等不到這幾年了。」
千千看宓姨如此懷念往昔,便正色道:「宓姨,你放心好了,我不會嫁人的,我永遠留在松狐島。」
宓姨呵呵一笑道:「別胡說了,小心讓島主聽到,快吃過早點,沐浴更衣,便到書齋去向島主奉茶請安吧!」

千千捧着清茶,過了冷松橋,橋下雲煙浩瀚,露出幾點翠峰,真如海中小島,千千駐足遠望,想起小時候在這翠峰之間掛繩飛躍,練習輕功時的情景,每見爹在這書齋窗前窺看,就特別用心,希望搏得他一句讚賞,卻從來不得要領,又想到宓姨說他昨夜親手抱自己回房間去,心裏還是一陣激動,因為從小到大,不曾與他這樣親近過,想到這裏,已經走到書齋前,書齋上掛有望海堂木牌匾,千千略掃一眼,便敲門揚聲道:「爹,是我千千,來跟你請安!」
千千進了書齋前廳,四周打量一下,看佈置還是一樣,只有木桌一張,兩把籐椅,而他人呢!總是躲在書齋後堂,那個地方千千從來沒進去過。透過前廳的竹籬可隱約看到他的身影,坐在三面書架之中,低頭閱讀。
任萬里一說話,聲音雖沉,卻十分響亮,道:「你這不肖女,又到哪裏闖禍?弄到焦頭爛額才肯回家。」
千千知道他一說話就要罵人,心裏還是不忿,本想反駁,但只說了一個我字,便忍住,沒想到任萬里轉過身來,隔着竹籬,又厲聲道:「你以後不准再踏出松狐島一步,你的婚事我已經答應了南宮世家,你人一回來,他們就會盡快把你迎娶,你好好收拾心情吧!」
千千本想忍讓他,但聽他竟那樣兒戲就把自己的婚事答應了,很是氣憤,道:「甚麼南宮世家?我到底要嫁給誰啊?你還沒有告訴我!南宮世家裏人那麼多,難道我通通都嫁了麼?」
任萬里給千千這些話氣得跳起來道:「你說這種話,知不知道羞恥?」
聽他提到羞恥,千千即時淚眼盈眶,卻仍倔強道:「我不知羞恥?若不是因為你,我會弄到今天這個田地?都是你的仇家做的好事?」
說罷,把茶碗砸在桌上,轉身便衝出了書齋。
任萬里從後堂走出,見茶碗翻倒在桌上,想着她說的最後一句話,反問自己:「我的仇家?」
任萬里向來率性而為,與人結怨都不自覺,雖知道江湖上有人嫉妒松狐島,有人鄙視任萬里,但他從不把這些人放在心上,又因他武功蓋世,也從來沒有仇家真的找上門來,所以當他聽到自己有仇家,竟一時摸不着頭腦。

宓姨看見千千氣衝衝的回來,就知道她又跟島主爭吵了,便安慰她道:「其實島主很高興你回來了。」
千千一屁股坐下,還在生氣道:「是啊!可以馬上把我嫁掉算了,不是麼?」
宓姨看她還是那樣孩子氣,便笑道:「島主唯一的心願就是你們九姐妹都有個好歸宿。」看千千還是不理睬,便接道:「你不喜歡南宮世家,便挑過第二家吧!你看!來求親的人那麼多,總會挑到自己喜歡的吧!」
千千又斜睨那些禮物,驟見一柄長劍,零丁的擱在邊旁,猶自閃閃發光,千千慢慢站起,盯住那柄長劍,仿佛似曾相識,便一步一步走過去,才把那長劍看清楚,刹那怦然心動,執起劍來,眼神幽幽,竟有說不出的哀怨。
宓姨見她撿起那柄長劍,便笑道:「可惜那長劍不是聘物,是一個叫甚麼…巴陵姓滕的公子拿來的,這人來過松狐島兩次,第一次是你八姐接待他的,第二次他人來到懷玉峰,說要把這劍還給你,說完了轉身就走,我見他山長水遠而來就為了還劍,本欲請他進來喝杯清茶,誰料,他頭也不回便一縷煙的走了。」
宓姨嘮嘮叨叨說了那麼多,千千還是癡癡呆呆看着那寶劍不說話,就知此送劍人感情與她非比尋常,這妮子闖蕩江湖,卻闖出個情根來,正想問她,千千突然轉身,神采飛揚道:「宓姨,這些禮物你通通都給我丢了吧!」
說着手中拿着那寶劍便大步走出了房間。宓姨搖頭笑道:「要找個配得起我們九妹性情秉賦的人也真不容易,島主要把她嫁出去,可要費點心思呢!」

千千提着寶劍來到九劍臺,才把劍拔出,唰一聲,亮出了劍鋒,劍身輕靈秀挺,劍氣寒波淌漾,千千暗歎道:「果然是一把好劍!」突然眉梢一蹙,嘴角冷笑道:「君子為山,湘子為劍!原來這世上比這更謊繆的事情還多的呢!」
手執寶劍,頓時劍癮大發,揮劍空中一抖,嗖!一聲,瞬間便使出了洞庭旭日七絕的第一絕雲夢八方。九劍臺縱橫佈有九橋陣,九橋中有直橋、曲橋和拱橋,互相交疊,高低參差,而九橋之間又有池荷朵朵,散發着淡淡清香,千千在直橋上舞起劍式,但橋身狹窄,若沒有松狐島飄逸的身法,劍法怎樣好,不是掉到荷池裏,就是劍招不能伸展,這個九橋佈陣是專為靈狐九劍練劍之用而設計的,也難怪那麼刁鑽。
千千腳跟一蹬,踏上直橋欄杆,便飛身翻騰,躍上拱橋,才把雲夢八方的下半招耍完,正要使出第二絕朝霞綠波時,忽覺身後有一股人氣,千千便反手掠劍刺去,聽出此人有武功身法,本以為是任萬里,可當轉身挺劍横撇,乍見眼前那人,臉容鐵青,雙眸呆滯,竟是段魂鈴。
看他並未接招,便連忙收劍,大驚道:「你…來這兒幹甚麼?」
段魂鈴從來不曾踏足過松狐島,今天也不知道那來的勇氣,竟然一登就來到懷玉峰,如今看到千千,又一時百詞莫辯,恨悔難翻,道:「我是來求你原諒的。」
千千揮劍閃退,喝道:「我不要原諒你,你快跟我滾!」
段魂鈴大步踏前,狀似瘋顛道:「女兒,你不用怕,我已殺了白素面和翁長鬚,當天的事不會有人知道。」說着把手中包袱空中一甩,一個血跡淋漓的人頭便滾了出來,從拱橋的頂端滾了下去,被曲橋擋住才停下來,千千聽他又喊自己作女兒,心頭已是一震,見那人頭上一張血肉摸糊的臉果真就是白素面,不由得想起當天的遭遇,只感到悲憤和嘔心,舉頭瞪着段魂鈴,覺得此人真個不可理喻,竟然還把翁長鬚也殺了,對他的所作所為,既痛恨又震驚,搖頭苦笑道:「你竟一錯再錯,還不知悔改,我看你留在世上已一無用處,你何不也把自己殺掉?」
千千對此人恨貫肌骨,就算他真的死在眼前,也不會皺一下眉頭。可是沒想到那段魂鈴竟如此厚顏無恥,不單沒有馬上自刎謝罪,還踏步上前,靠近千千道:「你不肯原諒我也就罷了,但有一件事你一定要弄清楚。」
千千又閃退一步,見他竟淚眼汪汪的從衣襟裏取出一封書函,接道:「這是你娘親筆所寫,她說你才是我親生骨肉,你是我女兒,你看了這信就會明白…」
聽他又說自己是他女兒,千千又急又惱,便揮劍喊道:「你胡說!你再說我就殺了你!」說着心頭一扎,無力揮劍,劍尖下垂,就插到地上來,千千雙手撐着劍柄,眼前星光無數,耳根零亂,不知他所云何事?
段魂鈴縮身後退了幾步,又把那書函遞出,連忙道:「你要殺我何難?先把這信看了再殺吧!」
千千瞅了那書函一眼,頃刻怒氣翻飛,回手便把那書函挑往空中,騰劍亂刺,那書函瞬間便被削成碎屑,化作灰蛾紙蝶,振翅欲飛。段魂鈴環顧身前身後,依依的遺書竟就此化成飛灰,想着信中一字一句,一血一淚,不覺淒然淚下,哽咽無語。
忽爾,錚錚幾聲調弦之音從遠方飄來,段魂鈴驚遽抬頭,見懷玉峰上松樹林裏有一老者身影,白髮蒼髯,矍鑠而坐,低首撫琴,錝錝兩響,十指揚飛,就彈奏起一曲列子御風。
琴音如發青雲端,自遠而近,沛然回蕩於翠峰環抱間。
聽此清越的琴音,段魂鈴登時膽破心寒,顛聲道:「任萬里!」
便即倉惶倒退,抱頭躥跑。
千千放下長劍,在拱橋上盤膝打坐,眼前那白素面的頭顱還擱在橋端,千千睨視那頭顱,只感深惡痛絕,隨手撿起一粒石子,發狠的往那人頭一彈,人頭即飛了起來,掉進萬丈懸崖去了,良久,也沒一聲迴響。
千千閉目入定,靜聽琴音,時而霓裳輕曼舞,時若幽咽泉下流,忽又飛揚激蕩,凝絕不止,千千隨着琴音低昂興發,瞑目練功,驟然執劍翱翔,身影翩然,有若驚鴻,劍氣吟吟,有若游龍。任萬里見千千忽爾飛身舞劍,便更鼓氣撥弦,十指飛彈於七弦上,急急咄咄,嘈嘈切切,指起指落間,千千已翻騰飛刺數十招,招招渾然天成,不露斧痕,已分不出那一招是瀾滄三劍,那一招是洞庭七絕,那一招是還劍洞壁畫劍法,任萬里雖然數歷江湖,但除了瀾滄三劍之外,其他的劍招竟是不曾見過,而千千又能把所學之劍招渾為一體,隨意變化,不拘古法,任萬里竟一時看不出這些招式的來路,反倒越看越驚奇,越驚奇越歡喜,突然也劍興大發,一手按停琴音,一手抱琴在臂,縱身穿越疏林,落腳於千千劍鋒底下。千千未收劍勢,繼續刺撇,兩人飛躍於九橋陣上,高低迴旋,身影摇曳,兀的鏘一聲,千千劍尖擊中任萬里懷中古琴,絲弦震蕩回響,任萬里退身閃卻,千千一劍又來,任萬里連忙舉琴擋之,千千劍尖插在七弦之中,上下調撥,錚錚然發出的調子,竟也頗有韻致。任萬里一個翻身上了拱橋,千千緊隨在後,一劍刺來,又夾在琴弦之間,千千繼續以劍尖撥弦,琴音初時清幽哀怨,後來越撥越快,急起急落,如斷雁悲鳴,颯然刮刺一聲,弦斷,曲終,千千才回身收劍,兩眼瞪直,若離魂出竅,沌然無知。
任萬里瞧她一瞧,不屑一笑道:「劍招雜而不純,內功又顛倒逆行,我看你這樣下去,終會走火入魔。」
話未說完,千千兩眼一翻竟就暈倒,任萬里馬上飛身上前,左手抱琴,右手護腰,她才沒掉進荷池裏去,任萬里見她昏迷中挺鼻攏唇,一副誓不低頭模樣,不禁歎氣道:「此女不受羈絆,終非福氣。」

第五章完

故事到此暫停,他日再續。

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Going Home 5-5

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(5) Proposal
Another bangs of gong and drum, anounced the hundredth anniverary ancestral ceremony has just ended.
The Master Mingxin was sitting in the middle of Tiangang Hall. The Tiangang Hall was a late Tang architecture, with towering ceilings and twelve ebony round wooden columns, four on each side, firmly held against it. There was a beam in the shape of a well, but no column in the middle of the hall. There was a black sandalwood plank. The founder nun of Emei a hundred years ago, kept her hair in the mirror box and enshrined in the Tiangang Hall. Since then, All the followered nuns has been entangled their hairs with hers, to form a big roll of hair string, like a python. Now they were enshrined on the black sandalwood plank, as symbol of their determination of cutting off from the red dust.
When the disciples were graciously offering the vegetarian dishes, the master Mingxin couldn’t wait to introduce her new forms of martial arts, said: “The ancestor of Emei had begun to create the twelve piles. There were heaven, earth, heart, dragon, crane, wind, cloud, big, small, quiet and meditation. The twelve major dynamism have been practiced by the 12 disciples of Emei in recent days. These twelve piles cooperate with twelve different weapons, each with their own strengths and complementary lengths. It can be used alone against the enemy, or can join together to make the tactics formation, these twelve piles…”

Master Mingxin has to stop in the middle because she saw Ren Wanli suddenly stood up in front of her. As a host, she couldn’t pretend not seeing him. Then she asked: “The Island Master is not going to leave, right! The twelve piles, as well as the Tiangang thirty-six styles of the acupoints, have not yet introduced. If the Island Master was not here, it would be really disappointing.”
Saying that, everyone looked at Ren Wanli, and nodded. It seemed that they think he should stay too. The young disciple of the DianCang school, Shen Yingxia, stood up and said: “It was lucky for me to be here today. If Ren, the Senior, could reveal some of your peerless martial arts today, as a junior,  I will be honoured.”
Followed he, the Huashan School, Ruihexing also stood up and said: “Is it? The martial arts of the Eight schools are too positive. If there was no martial arts from the Island of Songhu, how could it be interesting?”
Ruihexing was quick-minded he said something improper. He did not expect that when he said the Eight martial arts school were too positive, it would also implied that they were boring. Some representatives were offended by his recklessness. But the Qingcheng School, Guo Shangtian understood  the charactar of Ruihexing whom he was takiing as his own son. He couldn’t help to teach him a lesson. He stood up and said: “Don’t you apologize to the Island Master? The martial arts of the Eight schools are too positive. It does not mean that the martial arts of Songhu Island is too nagative. Hexing, I believed you don’t mean that!”
Ruihexing finally was aware that what he meant. He thought that Guo Shangtian deliberately comment to Songhu Island as a sinister nagative evil side, in order to please the eight schools, that was greatly disrespectful to the Island Master, and he also did not mean that at the first place. He felt wronged and innocent.
When everyone looked embarrassed, suddenly a noise like thunder raised in the hall. They couldn’t help but searched around, and found that the Shaolin school, Jingbumo monk lying on the ground, sleeping sounded, and the two boy monks were still fanning beside him. Everyone felt released that his snoring took over the attention from the embrassment. They turned  back their faces and sat down pleasantly, but saw that Ren Wanli was still standing, but he never said a word, just stared at Master Mingxin.
Ren Wanli didn’t care what they said about Songhu Island. He only cared about her sweetheart Liu Yiyi. He was bored and disturbed to hear so many unnecessary and unimportant talking about nothing. He promised to propose today, and he must propose today. He couldn’t wait anymore longer, said: “Please forgive me, I am not coming to talk about martial arts today.”
Once he said, everyone was attracted again and stared at him to see what he was going to say next.
Ren Wanli took out the dagger and hold it with his both hands. He only looked forward to Master Mingxin, said: “I come here today to propose.”
When he said propose, everyone was so surprised. Guo Shangtian immediately looked contempt, and muttered: “Men, the husbands, should focus on work. How could he put the love affair above it. This person wasted his peerless martial arts.”
However, the most surprising one was the Master Mingxi. When she saw the dagger in his hands, she bounced up from her chair, asked severely: “Propose? propose what?”
Ren Wanli stepped forward and said: “Of course, marrage propose.”

“To whom?”

“The disciple of Emei, Liu Yiyi.”

Master Mingxin heard that it was Liu Yiyi, her face turned blue instantly. The jerk that Liu Yiyi said he would come today, is him?Master Mingxin was not appreciated of Ren Wanli, even though the Songhu Island and the Emei Temple have been socialized for generations, but Master Mingxin was never close to him. They have nothing in common. She thought that he was just arrogant but she did not expect that he would did such a thing to her disciple. She was furious.
Yungu was also surprised he was actually the father of Yiyi’s unborn child. But she was not angry at all, instead she was happy for her. She understood that Ren Wanli was genuine and sentimental. If he really liked Yiyi, then Yiyi will not be despair. But the master abbot looked so angry now. It seemed good thing does not come so easily yet.
At this time, Yelang, who was hiding in the bush, also heard that someone mentioned about Yiyi. But since he was quite far away from the main hall, he couldn’t hear clearly. He was getting anxious but except wait, he could do nothing.
Of course, Master Mingxin would not promise his proposal. She said : “Liu Yiyi has violated the rule of Emei and has been imprisoned now.”
Hearing that Liu Yiyi was imprisoned, Ren Wali was so shocked and asked: “What happened to Liu, the girl?”
Master Mingxin just sneered: “Liu Yiyi is an intern disciple, but she has already entered the temple, she will be one day for sure, take the tonsure and become a nun.  The Island Master, she is not available for you. You better take another one?”
Ren Wanli was holding the dagger given by Liu Yiyi, he would not be so easily given up: “Liu, the girl does not want to be a nun.  You didn’t know that as a abbot? Liu, the girl personally handed this dagger to me as a token for proposal. Here is the prove you can see. Liu, the girl wanted to be a nun, or wanted to marry me, the master abbot should bring her here and ask herself personally, shouldn’t you?”
Ren Wanli was confident to make this pledge. And with his internal strength, his voice was heard even outside the hall. Yelang was like suddenly beaten with the ruthless cudgel of the master abbot. He kept shaking his head: Impossible, that jerk Yiyi said is actually this master…. he even has the dagger? How could it be? Yiyi would never give away this dagger to other man….. This man is a master of martial arts. Must be he threaten Yiyi with force. Thinking of that, he was trembled with agony and enmity.  He felt that this man whom he was just admired became enormouly disgusting.

The master abbot was questioned by Ren Wanli in front of the Seven Great Schools, She was abashed and flustered. Fortunately,  the pregnancy of Liu Yiyi has not been revealed yet, but this is disturbing enough for now. She was afraid if she did not agree, he would never give up. This person is so stubborn. It is difficult to deal with. Thus, she was trying to delay, said calmly: “Today is my hundredth anniverary. Is it a proper time to discuss these kind of personal? Let’s talk about it later. The Island Master, you are a senible man, aren’t you!”
However, Ren Wanli wasn’t so easily turned off by just a few words. He insisted: “For me, your hundredth annversary is personal too, why it is necessary more important than marrage that affected my life long. And I have sent you my golden wind jade dew pine tree to congratulate you on your anniversay. I am so affectionate to you. Why are you so ruthless to me?”
When everyone heard Ren Wanli said that he was affectionate to you, they couldn’t help but snickered and whispered. Master Mingxin wanted to use the hundredth anniversay as an excuse, but consequently to be humiliated. That was intolerable for her.  She instantly stood up, irritably said: “Well! If you have to be that forceful, Emei is not that easy to be bended either. You wanted to manage your personal right now right here. It is fine, as long as you could beat the twelve piles of Emei, I will hand you Liu Yiyi.”
When it came to talk about martial arts, Ren Wanli was never afraid of. Ren Wanli accepted without thinking: “Good! I take you word.”
Master Mingxin saw that he accepted the chanllege without even a click of hesitation. She was instead hesitated and thought: This man is too arrogant. But, if he won, I have worked so hard for more than ten years to assure the status of Emei would be lost in a day.  Once she thought of that. She was regret to invite him for competition. But in front of the seven great schools, how could she eat her words in an instant? She took a deep breath to inspirit herself, then said bravely: “Listen! the disciples of Emei, prepare the twelve piles.”
After her order was made, the twelve master nuns immediately took up the weapons. Those nuns usually calm and gentle were suddenly changed to be gallant and daring. Twelve of them jumped outside of the Tiangang Hall and lined up in a queue. The courtyard of Tiangang Hall was the place where the disciples practicing martial arts. The twelve piles have been practiced here thousand of times. They have already been familiar with the surrounding and take advantage of home. Although Ren Wanli was superb of his martial arts, but it was confined with single fight. In order to unravel a tactics formation, he has to know the method.
The representatives of the Eight Great Schools watched them setting up the tactics formation, they all went outside the Tiangang Hall, occupied a good position and prepared to watch the show. The Master Mingxin walked side by side with Ren Wanli to the courtyard in a manner of courtesy. The Master abbot declared: “Today, the Seven Great Schools are here for the sake of celebration. If it was becasue the personal of the Island Master, delayed the banquet for too long. As the host, it’s my responsibility to assure the satisfaction of my guests. If I didn’t set the time limit, I’m afraid that there will be taking forever. The Island Master, don’t you mind that? Three incenses, when the time is up, if the Island Master has not yet solved the formation, you will be lost. Do you agree? Any objection?”
Everyone knew that the Master Mingxin was using the seven great schools as an excuse to increase the difficulty for Ren Wanli. It showed that she was lack of confidence. On the contrary, there was no fear or hesitation in the eyes of Ren Wanli.  He quickly replied:  “No objection.”
He was appeared really arrogant in the eyes of others. If he lost, he deserved. Someone was expecting to see whoever to be humiliated. Indeed, no one actually cared for who win, who loss, like Jingbumo, he was still sleeping and Ruihexing was sitting eating. Among these people, who cared the most of the result was Yelang, who was hiding in the bush. Now everyone was coming to the courtyard. What they said was clearly audible. Now he was standing on the same side of the master abbot. He was glaring at this pretentious Ren Wanli, waitig for him to be defeated.
Master Mingxin immediately ordered a disciple to ignite the first incence, and said: “The Island Master, please!”

Ren Wanli stood in front of the formation, carefully observed the distribution and the trend of it, saw there were twelve persons, each with different weapons guarding the piles, like swords, axes, hooks, hammers and sticks.  Four in a roll, arranged with three rolls. When they saw Ren Wanli did not move, then they changed the formation into a circle,  later changed back to a square. They changed back and forth to lure the enemy into the whirl. Usually, a circular form has a space in the middle that should be easiler to start with. But Ren Wanli has not moved half a step. He only watched with his eyes like he has tested it a dozen times. Everybody was anxious for him. Isn’t it wasting of time! When they looked at the ashes on the incence blown by a gusty wind,  the first incence was only half left.
Suddenly, Ren Wanli leapt. He broke into the square formation. Everyone sighed. They thought it was hasty and foolish to start with the square. Doesn’t he throw himself into the net? They can’t believed that Ren Wanli as a peerless martial arts master, was actually ignorant for tactics formation.

Only the Master Mingxin knew that he was right. She was astonished. But saying was later than moving. Ren Wanli flew into the square formation, descending from the sky on the heads of the twelve piles. The twelve piles immediately waved their weapons to him. Ren Wanli implimented the series of Listening to the pine wave, the thirteen styles. The thirteen styles were matched with the light and flexible body movements, like a dragon hovering in the air. Twelve kinds of weapon immediately swept to his feet, but he was very fast, too fast that they could only trim the corner of his clothes. While he was running on the handles of their weapons, tumbling and swaying with the help of cloud jumps, he has already displayed all the thirteenth styles. The square formation suddenly fell off  two piles, changed into a small rectangular array. Once the square was broken up, they immediately switched back to the circle one. When Ren Wanli saw that, he was happy and immediately leapt out. Everyone was cold sweated for him when the master abbot looked so grim.  She realized that once he broke the square then he will lead the way to win. Ren Wanli released a smile of confidence. He had already seen that the twelve piles were tactical with a fake round array to lure the enemy, once you mistakenly thought that it was a flaw, you turned out to be trapped. Ren Wanli so attemped the square first. Once he smashed the square, and found that it was not unbreakable.  He knew that it was faked. When the piles hastily returned to the circle. He was affirmed. Becasue if the circle was fake, the square must be real. Reversed, the same. Now he had already broken two piles in the square, and found the weakest breach. Breaking the circle must be much easiler even it was real. Although there the second incence had been burned half, he was not hurried, said: “Master Mingxin, I am really doing this time.”

Master Mingxin looked critically, she suddenly shouted pause and immediately let someone extinguished the incence. She has already seen that Ren Wanli grasped the method of breaking her piles. She knew that he has quite a good chance to win. She has to prepare the aftermath if he really won.  She turned to Ren Wanli, composedly said: “The Island Master really incredibly sensible. But don’t be too confident, Not everything is under your estimation.”
The last time, she was using psychological tactics, trying to crack the confidence of Ren Wanli, let him doubt his own judgment. But Ren Wanli never care what others say. He does what he believes, always. He slightly smiled with his head tilted without response. The master abbot was actually desperate, but she never forget her manner as a leader, she requested calmly: “Can I change person before the Island Master start again?”
Ren Wanli heard that she wanted to change person, he was a bit surprised, but still did not look at her. He just simply said: “Does it matter!”
He was right, the formation was not a personal performance, no matter who did it, the structure of the formation stayed the same. It was indeed no different. But when master Mingxin heard that, she was offended. How could he said that in front of all the martial arts  friends.  Does he ever care other than himself. But she hold back her anger, said indifferently: “Well, Yungu, you come out!”
Yungu immediately walked out of the formation to the side of the master abbot. The master abbot talked a lot into her ear, like telling her last words in case. Everyone was whispering and some might be gloated.
After the master abbot sent Yungu away, she immediately took out her ruthless golden cudgel, jumped into formation to replace the position of her. The disciples of Emei were immediately encouraged. They cheered and clamored to scare the opponent.  Instantely, the morale was soared like rainbow.  Although Ren Wanli was in the grip to win, he felt that awkward.  He has to be more cautious and consentrated. He dare not rashly.
When a nun ignited the incence again, there was only one and a half left.
The Seven Great Schools saw the master abbot hold the golden cudgel standing sternly inside the formation, they were refreshed and inspirited. They thought: Maybe there will be surprised. The Island Master could really win?
Yelang was tortured by yet having no result. Everytime when he thought of Ren Wanli won and would take away Yiyi. What should he do at that time? He was terrified. This person was almost unbeatable. How can I stop him from taking away her? He loathed him.
The secret of this formation was inside the circle. If you wanted to win, you must break into the circle, but once you got into it, there was no way out. Even now only have ten piles left, but for the circle it doesn’t a matter. They just formed a smaller circle, with the same tactics. Normal people was eager to win, they would jumped inside without a clue, then they would be completely in a passive position. However, Ren Wanli was not a normal person. After he entered the circle, he was not busy with attacks. Instead, he speeded up to confuse whom guard the breach.  The person who was at the breach did not see his figure at all. He took her weapon away, and then whirled like the tide of  full moon. He didn’t wait until the other piles to fight back, he swung his sleeves, continued to roll like the whirlwind, shook down a lot of needles from the gold wind jade dew pine tree. The nuns have not seen him at all, but have already been taken the weapons in their hands. When Ren Wanli has tumbled about thirty times! He stopped and flapped himself out of the formation. In his hands were the weapons of those nuns, he just simple threw to the ground. All the nuns were eclipsed, and they were just standing like wooden chicks.

The seven great schools were exhilarating. They were driven up so high emotionally. Ruihexing couldn’t hold back. Immediately clapped his hands and shouted: “Good moves! Songhu Island is really worthy of her name, and the Island Master, I wonder if this moves had a name?”
Ren Wanli replied casually: “There is a cloud jump.”
Guo Shangtian secretly refuted: “What kind of cloud jump, this kind of fluttering martial arts can only bully the females.”
Ren Wanli broke the tactics formation, and there was no doubt of it. He turned his face to Master Mingxin. He looked very nervous with his eyebrows deeply locked, said seriously: “Master Mingxin, please fulfill your promise, immediately hand over Liu, the girl.”
Master Mingxin took a look at the mess of their weapons and the half burned incence. She couldn’t ignore the fact was he really won beautifully. She slightly smiled,  said: “Good! of course I will carry out my promise, Yunxi, you go tell Yungu, let her bring Liu Yiyi here!”
Ren Wanli heard that the master abbot really impliment her promise, he was elated.  He was too happy that he bowed to the  master abbot many times, and said: “Thank you for being so kind to me. Please forgive your younger brother offended you recklessly.” Everyone saw this Ren Wanli seemed like he could do whatever for this Liu, the girl.  They were wondering what a special girl she was.  Most of them were happy to see the result like this. Though Emei school was lost but they could be related a love affair with Songhu Island. It wasn’t a bad thing to see, other than the martial arts.
Nobody knows when Jingbumo monk woke up and sang again: “Thousands year away from when, a little red in the green grand.” Actually, nobody understood what he sang, but they just smiled and be happy to have someone like him lightened the hefty atmosphere.
When everyone was awaiting for Liu Yiyi, Ren Wanli was in a good mood so his ears were clear. He immediately found someone hiding behind the bushes. He looked inside and saw a man, but he only took a look and turned his face back. He didn’t make any note as if he has not seen anything. Yelang was so terrified at the moment he looked at him. He saw his eyes but was actually very gentle, like the candlelight in a dark room.  He was so baffled what kind of a man he was.

Liu Yiyi finally appeared in front of his eyes. Ren Wanli immediately went forward and carefully looked at her. She was faced down with tears mark, wearing loose clothes, and long skirts. Everyone saw that Liu Yiyi was so beautiful and delicate, no wonder Ren Wanli was enraptured by her.
Before,  Master Mingxin was talking to Yungu, that was telling Yungu to persuade Liu Yiyi. If Ren Wanli really won, Liu Yiyi should not talk nonsense when she comes to Tiangang Hall. She has to be willing to go with him and must not humilate the hundredth fame of Emei temple.
Yungu spent a lot of time to persuade Liu Yiyi. She doesn’t care how Yungu said that Ren Wanli is an outstanding figure in today’s martial arts world.  She was not convinced, because she knew that once she has gone with him, that will be the end for her and Yelang. However, when Yungu said: “After all, the Island Master is the father of the child. Do you want them never recognized each other?” When it came to this, Liu Yiyi realized that she has no choice.

Now she was already here. She fell her kneels in front of the master abbot, said:”Then Yiyi is going!” The master abbot was so exhausted. She had nothing to tell her anymore. She just turned to Ren Wanli, said resolutely: “Just take her away immediately, and will not stepped into the Emei Temple again.”
Ren Wanli thought winning and losing are common cases. He didn’t understand why Master Mingxin was so unhappy.  No matter what, for him, he was satisfied to have Liu Yiyi now.
He said to Liu Yiyi, softly: “Liu, the girl, let’s go!”
Liu Yiyi was still sobbing. She kneeled down to master Yungu. Yungu was sad to see her away, but she was pretty sure that Yiyi will be happy with Ren Wali. So she just smiled and see her off. Ren Wanli gently hold her waist, looked up to the Tiangang Hall,  said goodbye to the other martial arts friends! Then he leapt over the eaves with Liu yiyi . When Liu Yiyi looked back, she saw someone moving in the bush. It was Yelang. Liu Yiyi didn’t expect to see him again before leaving. She saw him longing with tears in his eyes. She could only uttered two words: “Forget me!”
Yelang was heart broken, and he lost his soul since then. He ceased to be called Yelang, renamed of hunling, meant bell of lost soul. He buried himself in the drunken town of Jinling, scattered all his gold, stumbled on the streets, and finally he tattooed, mixed with the gangs in the rivers and lakes.

The story is in her mid way, and it will be continue after A SHORT BREAK.  Thank you to be with me, see you soon!                —-yinyee

Going Home 5-4

 

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(4) The Pine tree
Yelang smuggled the jade to Jinling fortunately succeed. He happily received his share of gold, and rushed back to Yiyi’s uncle’s home in Emei. Unexpectedly, her snobbish and mean uncle only answered him through the gap of door: “You go find her in Emai Temple! She is a nun now!”
“What? Yiyi became a nun?” Yelang couldn’t believe his ears. He knocked on the door desperately, but suddenly the lights in the house were completely extinguished, and the yellings of him were ignored. Yelang was like an ant on a hot pot, he couldn’t be settled until he proved it, so he immediately rushed up to the temple to clarify despite it was already late at night. When he came to the gate of Emei Temple. It was strange that everywhere was lighted up and the nuns were bustled around. Yelang hid under the low wall and watched for a long time. He didn’t see Yiyi appeared at all. He thought: Yiyi can’t be a nun. The abominable uncle must have lied to me, but if she wasn’t here, where is she now?
While muttering to himself, a gusty wind slammed his back. He turned around, saw Yungu standing under the tree, coldly looking at him. He wanted to sneak away but Yungu talked to him: “Where do you still want to go? Aren’t you come here to see Yiyi?” When he heard her name, he walked back and asked, “Do you know where she is?”
Yungu was surrounded by no one, she whispered: “Come with me!” Yungu took the chance when everybody were busy for the banquet tomorrow, brought Yelang secretly to the Zen room of Jingdin. Yelang was full of doubts, standing before the forbidden area of Emei Temple. He realized that if he passed over this line and be discovered, he would be in big trouble. He hesitated for a while before asked: “Why? Yiyi is imprisoned here?”

Yungu sneered and said:”Are you afraid? That is how much you care about her?” Yelang sensed that she was testing him. Yungu was always good to Yiyi. Whatever her intention, she wouldn’t do harm to her. He believed, so he boldly stepped into the forbidden area. Once he did that, Yungu told him the truth: “Yiyi has broken the stipulation.”
Yelang seemed insensble for what she was pointing, asked: “What stipulation?”
Yungu sighed and said: “She is pregnant.”
First of all, she was said that became a nun, and now was pregnant. Yelang was overwhelming confused. It was only less than half a year, how could she become nun and pregnant at the same time? He was no longer controlled. He rushed to the top of the mountain. under the companion of a new moon, Yelang passed through a bush, saw a stone house leaning against the steep cliff. Inside was dim with swaying candle light. Yelang walked to door of the Zen room, saw a big copper lock on it. He murmured: “Is Yiyi locked in this Zen room?” The zen room has no window in the front. all the windows were facing the cliff. Although Yelang did not practice any martial arts, he was extraordinary bold. He hold the chain along the cliff, climbing againt the narrow stone eave. Yelang was agile, he reached the window of the Zen Room rapidly. When he looked inside, he couldn’t help but yelled: “Yiyi!”
Liu Yiyi sat on the futon in the Zen room, heard a voice calling her name. It was clearly Yelang. She stood up and looked around, found that he was hugging the iron bar by the window, called: “Yiyi! I am here. ”

Then she ran to the window, grabbed his hands and cried: “Yelang, it’s you, you are finally back.”
Yelang looked at her, she was so flustered with tears mark on her face. He was distressed, but he has to ask, gently:”Master Yungu said that you are… pregnant… is it true?”
Listened to this question, she suddenly let go of his hands and stepped back to the room before she whispered:”It is true.”
Yelang was heart broken when he heard that the answer was positive. He felt burning in bones with jealousy. He clenched his fists as if he was crashing the man. He gnashed and stared at Yiyi, coldly asked: “Who is he?”
Yiyi never saw that his expression was like that. She was afraid. She changed her mind of telling the truth, said feebly:”Yelang, I am not innocent, you forget me!”
Yelang instantly stretched his arm into the room between the iron bars, said: “Yiyi! No matter who he is, I just want to know, is it what you want?”
Yiyi shook her head desperately and said: “No, I don’t want it? I was not willing. I was waiting for you to come back, no matter what it is…” Then she walked slowly back to Yelang.
Yelang grabbed her hands through the window, pull her back to his arms, said with tears: “Enough, Yiyi! It is enough to have your words. Let’s forget about that. We can leave behind all these things to Jinling. I have gold now. I earned a hundred ingots, you see!” Just slipped his hand into collars to take out the gold, his collars was hooked by a force. He then was lifted up and thrown before the Zen room. In the dark night, a bright golden cudgel has been laid down on his shoulder. Yelang raised his arm to block. Fortunately, he was physically strong enough to bear the blow, otherwise, he already lost his left arm. When he looked up, he saw the abbot and the two old nuns standing in front of him. The abbot was furious, said: “Isn’t it you a loser? You are finally showing up?” While she was saying, she wanted to dash him another slam.
But Yiyi yelled from a small peephole on the door: “Abbot, master! it is not him, is not him!”
Yelang fell to the ground, listened word by word that Yiyi said through the door. He was disheartened, said: “Yiyi, forget it, let me admit it!”
Listened to what he said, the abbot felt ridiculous, said critically: “What do you mean let me admit it? Yes is yes, no is no. You hear it clearly with me. If it was yes, I will kill you right away. If it was no, just get out of here!”
Yiyi slammed behind the door and cried: “Master! Not him! Not him! It is not him!”
But the master abbot seemed has heard nothing. She just glared at Yelang, waiting for his answer. Yelang was hearing sharply with the cry of Yiyi. Each single word was drilling into his heart. Not him! Not me, then who is he? Why are you still protecting him? He was full of resentment and sadness. he suddenly looked up to the abbot with a sigh of relief, said :”Yes”. The Master abbot once heard that he said yes, she dashed her golden cudgel on his shoulder. Yelang took it silently as his clothes was torn instantely. Yiyi saw that from the peephole, she couldn’t help but poured tears and cried: “I said, I said, please don’t hit him anymore. That….that….that person will come tomorrow, if he came, you will know who he is.”
When her words finished, the master abbot and Yelang both were shocked. The master abbot was slightly satisfied for what Yiyi said. She sneered: “I will definitely want to see who is this jerk!” After that, the two nuns dragged Yelang out of the Jindin forbidden area. Yelang was tough enough to bear two dashes of her cudgel, he was yelling: “Yiyi! I will come back for you!”

At the dawn of the following day, the disciples of Emei Temple gathered in the Tiangang Hall to prepare the ancestral ceremony for the hundredth anniversary. The temple was founded in the early years of the Great Song. It was said that founded by a princess in Five Dynasties. After her country was subjugated, the princess fled into the mountains and became a nun. In the later years, she built a martial arts school with the temple, only accepted female disciples who made a oath to leave the red dust of reality. Today, was just a hundred years from then.
The master Mingxin was the sixth-generation abbot. Although she was impassive, she was very aggressive. After she became abbot, she determined to restore and promote the martial arts of Emei Temple. She led Emei to become one of the most famous martial arts school of the eight major schools today in the rivers and lakes. She wanted to take the oppunitity of hundredth anniversay, invited the seven other major schools to study and show off. Unexpectedly, encountered the thorny case of Liu Yiyi, she has to handle it strictly. she instructed the disciples that if anyone saw a strange man appeared today, immediately tie him up for grill tonight. This kind of scandal must not be released.
Soon, representatives of the Seven Great Schools arrived. Yungu, Yunxi, and Yunhe had already greeted them at the gate of the Tiangang hall. The earliest arrive was the Shaolin School, the leader of the Eight Great Schools, the Shaolin Dharma Hall’s abbot. Jingbumo abbot touched his big belly, with two boy monks, laughing while he stepped into the ancestral hall: “Stolen a half-day leisure, visited the Emei with pleasure.”
Yunhe greeted him and laughed: “Jingbumo abbot! You are still so funny!”
Jingbumo abbot swang his sunflower fan and said: “I only wanted a glass of wine, with the moon at the mountian high.”
This monk was talking like singing, no matter how nonsense he was, Yungu respected him as the master, said: “The master abbot rejuvenated, goodness! goodness!”
Yunxi was more cautious and smiled implicitly: “The master abbot, please go to the inner hall to enjoy tea!”
Jingbumo monk then laughed again, walked slackly with the two boy monks.
Yunhe turned around and saw followed by Jingbumo monk, was the head of the Qingcheng School, Guo Shangtian. He worn a fluttering taoist long robe, with a white jade pin on his hair bun. He looked magnificent. He was a well-known master of swordsmanship. A few years later, Lv Jiannan and Yu Qianguang were accepted as his apprentices. Yu Qianguang was also the master of Teng Kuanrou. For today, he himself brought four young disciples to attend the ceremony, but he saw that the other schools only sent disciples, and were later than him. He was unhappy about it.
Yunhe came to greet him: “Master Guo! You looked great today.”
Guo Shangtian listened to what she said, he thought he must have hid his feelings very well. He slightly smiled without answered, then led his disciples into the inner hall.
When Yunhe looked back, Yunxi was greeting the young disciple Shen Yingxia of Diancang school, and Yungu has greeted the Ouyang Lianfang of the Hungdong school.
As soon as they stepped into the courtyard, Ruihexing of the Huashan School appeared in front of them. Ruihexing also taught Teng Kuanrou martial arts. He was only a 20-year-old young man at that time. He was naughty but talented. He became the head of Huashan School 20 years later. He smirked: “I am not the latest, am I?”
Yungu smiled: “You are not, but later than master Guo. He is looking for you everywhere!”
Ruihexing heard that Guo Shangtian arrived earlier than him, he frowned, tongued out, hurriedly walked after the disciples of Hengshan and Haichao School. The Seven Great Schools have all arrived, but there was still a guest who has not yet appeared.
When Yungu checked the time with the sky, she was getting nervous, said: “It is about the time to start the cercmony, but….”
Yunxi and Yunhe were both longing. Yunxi said: “Every year, even we didn’t invite the seven Great Schools. This person also came. This year of hundredth anniversay, will he be absent?”
Yungu shook her head and said: “It is hard to say. This person often surprised you…”
As she said, there was a hustle of noise from inside. Three of them immediately returned to the inner hall.

In the courtyard of the Tiangang Hall, the representatives of the eight schools were gathering, making comments to an old pine tree. The three nun masters stopped at the courtyard, stunningly said: “Weird! where did this pine tree come from? There were no tree in this courtyard before. This pine tree looked very old with its crooked roots. How could it be suddenly came out from the soil?”
It was really unbelievable and controversial. The answer was on the eaves. A man standing on the eaves, swiftly passed through the courtyard beneath the sky, laughing while he landed in front of the pine tree: “My martial arts friends, please forgive me being late!”
Who is this man? His martial arts is so superb, and his temperament is so heroic, what the eight great schools compared to him, they all seemed to be vulgar. The people in the martial arts world, should have been like that! Yelang mixed in the porters, carrying the gifts of the seven schools, sneeked into the Taingang Hall. He hid in the bushes under the wall of the courtyard, and saw how Ren Wanli held these thousand pounds pine tree and insert it into soil all by himself. He watched him flying, leaping, floating. Yelang has never seen such a superb martial arts. He was astonished and fascinated with admiration. He thought: If I also have this kind of martial arts, I can immediately fly to Jingdin to rescue Yiyi. Thinking of that, he hate himself just have a pair of bare-hand, couldn’t save his beloved woman.
After Ren Wanli landed on the ground, he bowed and apologized to the other masters. All the masters of the eight schools, including the the master Mingxin, had just enjoyed the superb martial arts of planting tree. They were so amazed and stunned. But the master Mingxi still looked indifferent, said: “The island master! What a expensive gift!”
In addition of attending to the annivesary, Ren Wanli also has to propose today. He knew that Mingxin has always been difficult and apathethic. In order to be successfully propose without any obstacle, he intentionally hid his strange temper and was particularly respected to her, said: “Master Mingxin, you are very welcome! I have only two-sleeve of breeze, the most valuable thing in Songhu Island is this golden wind jade dew pine tree. In order to celebrate the hundredth annversary of Emei, I picked one of this thousand-year-old pine tree as a gift. I wish the Emei school as longlife and evergreen as this pine tree!”
The master Mingxin was looked cool as usual, but was already exultant in her heart. Everyone in the rivers and lakes knew that this golden wind jade dew pine tree was unique to Songhu Island. This pine tree was no different from ordinary pine trees, but once it reached the age of a thousand years, it would exhale special elements to boost the internal strength of martial arts practitionars. Even if was for ordinary people, could also prolong their lifespan. It was heard that even in Songhu Island, there were only two or three. Ren Wanli actually pulled out one today, brought from a hundred miles away. This gift was really emormous and precious. It was inevitable to be misundertood as flattering. It wasn’t only let Songhu Island stole the limelight, also highlighted the gifts of the other schools were too stingy. Some people might be already offended.
At that time, the Jingbumo monk suddenly laughed and said: “When the golden wind and the jade dew met, I slept without worried my fat.” Everyone turned face to looked at him, but he was already lying on the squeaking clear wooden floor of the Tiangang Hall, with his boy monks fanning for him. Suddenly a gong and a drum banged in the Tiangang Hall, to declare that the hundredth anniversary ancestral ceremony has just began. Yungu, Yunhe and Yunxi then led the Eight Great Schools and Ren Wanli entering the main hall.
At this time, Ren Wanli looked around, but did not see Liu Yiyi. He was wondering why as a disciple of Emei, didn’t show up in such an important occasion. Later, he saw all the disciples are nuns in the Tiangang Hall, he was reminded that Liu Yiyi was still a intern, so it was reasonable that she did not participate the ceremony! He then felt appeased, said to himself: I should wait until after the ceremony is completed. So I will not be rude and dishonored Liu the girl!
Ren Wanli was thinking, murmuring unconsciously that he could’t help but grinned and looked frisky in such a solemn occasion. Everyone was casting him a glance and frowned. This man is a peerless martial arts master, but was arrogant and ridiculous.
Yelang was hiding in the bushes. He didn’t dare to make a sound. He saw everyone entering the main hall. He wanted to go to the Jingdin to see Yiyi, but he didn’t dare to move. He thought: “The masters in Tiangang Hall are all elites, even if I moved a finger, would be discovered. If the master abbot saw me hiding here, she must kill me for sure. Yiyi said that jert will appear today, is it true? Today here are all outstanding masters. This coward has done such a good thing, would he has gut to show up? Looking at the back of Ren Wanli, he thought: If I and Yiyi can escape from here this time, I must learn some martial art, otherwise, how can I protect my wife and children ? He wished: “If this hero was willing to accept me as a disciple, that would be nice!”

Going Home 5-3

 

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(3) Yelang
Duan hunling was soaked in the past alone until the night fell, and then Weng shouted: “Brother, the dinner is ready!” He left the room and walked down to the dinning hall. He saw the place was clean, the table was set with vegetarian dishes and soup. Weng, Bai and Qianqian have already sat around the table as if a table of reunion. Duan Hunling came to the table with his official’s manner. He swept the three with his eagle’s eyes before he sat down and said: “Eat!” The three dare to move their chopsticks afterwards. Qianqian hold the chopsticks and thought of when she was in Songhu Island. During the year, only the New Year’s Day, and the birthdays of mother and father would be reunited for the dinner. The sisters always stared at the food on table but didn’t dare to eat until their father sat down, and said: “Eat!” The situation was as like it is today. She saw that Weng and Bai were gorging, but Duan Hunling seemed to be full of thoughts. He had never picked any. Qianqian remembered that every time they reunited for the dinner, she was always arranged to sit at the farthest from their father. She looked at him from a distance. He was always eating slow and cold and didn’t pick much dishes. So Qianqian always has a wish, that is, to pick dishes for him. Even though it was so simple, but it has not been fulfilled. Now, she looked at Duan hunling eating quietly. He wasn’t so bad as usual. Suddenly, Qianqian sprouted a strange thought. Why don’t I today complete my wish with him? She immediately picked up a potato, dropped into the bowl of him, smiled and said: “This is for you, … gramps!”
When the words came out, everyone was stunned. Weng laughed: “Good girl! but our brother has not been so old as gramps yet!”
Qianqian grinned: “Oh Yes! I saw him squinting, frowning, glowering all day, his face was wrinkled, as if an …”
Until there, Duan hunling was silent. Skrikingly, he slammed the table without alarm. The potato bounced and jumped out of his bowl. He looked so inexplicable infuriated. Qianqian was frustrated dealing with him, yelled: “What’s wrong with you? no matter how I treat you, you still hated me?”
Duan Hunling clenched his fist, slammed on the table to made a big hole. The dishes on the table were instantly meddled. Weng and Bai stood up quickly. Weng pull the sleeve of Bai, retreated with him outside the hall. Bai looked back before he disappeared in the dusk, with a smile of gloat.
Qianqian still sat at the table, squinting at him, see what else he would say. Duan hunling took out the dagger from his sleeve, said: “You want to know why I hate you so much? Well, I will tell you tonight, then you can die without regret.” He sat down and asked: “This dagger is your mother’s relic that you have never leave it. You must be very familiar with it! There are two small characters on the blade, do you know?”
Qianqian raised her chin and said: “Of course, I know that! There are two small characters written Yelang.”
Duan Hunling caressed the blade and whispered: “Yelang, good! What does that Yelang mean, do you know?”
Qianqian replied without thinking: “This dagger is from the ancient nation of Nanxun, which was the place casted this dagger.”
Duan hunling looked satisfied, said: “You only right half of it. Yelang is a name of a place and also a name of a person.”
“Name of a person? Who?” looking at his self-assured expression, Qianqian quickly guessed: “Is it you?”
Absolutely, he raised the dagger to show her the words of Yelang on the blade, and said: “Yes, Yelang is me…”

His real name is Duan Yelang, was born in Weinan Bozhou, in the ancient nation of Yelang. When he was fourteen, his parents died. He was once with a group of horse robbery, but soon he left for Lushan to become a porter. He carried hundreds pound of goods every day, walked between mountains for ten years. He trained himself to be strong and unyielding. A few years later, he accidentally met the girl from a wealthy family at the foothill. For many years, they had only looked at each other affectionately but had not really talked. A year ago, Liu Yiyi’s family was unfortunatly murdered by a group of robbery. Only Liu Yiyi and his brother ran through the catastrophe. They stayed in their uncle’s home, and then the two finally began dating.
On this day, Yiyi’s uncle went to the market to buy goods, so she slipped out to see him. She saw Yelang lying on the hillside, then she sneaked behind him, tried to scare him to give him a surprise, but she was actually scared by a sudden flap from him. Yiyi said: “You are so bad! I was bringing you a gift, but now I have to think about it.”
Yelang immediately searched behind her back for that so-called gift. It turned out was the dagger, he said disappointedly: “What gift? It was a lie!”
Liu Yiyi said seriously: “It is not a lie. You need to take a look at the dagger first.”
Yelang pulled out the dagger and saw two new characters on the blade. It was his name Yelang. He was very moved. He gazed at Yiyi and sat side by side on the grass with her. Yiyi said: “This is engraved by our old ironsmiths who used to work for my father. He has to know who is Yelang before he promised to engrave for me.”
“Then who you said Yelang is!” Yelang asked deliberately. Yiyi smiled and whispered: “You know who!” by saying that, she hid herself into the arm of him, said gently: “I will give you this dagger!”
Yelang smiled and said: “Give it to me? Is it a token of love?”
Yiyi shyly replied and said: “You said yes is yes!” She felt that his heart beat getting as fast as her, she earnestly said: “Yelang, I am now homeless, parentless. I have only you and Yicun.”
Yelang held her hands, said gravely, “In a few days, I am going to Dali. If it was lucky, I can make a big sum of money. Then we can leave here, go to Jinling, start a small business to live the way we like.”
Knowing that he was going to Dali, Yiyi was very reluctant, but she knew that this was the only way to set themself free. She clasped her hands, said: “You go to Dali, you must be careful, remember to come back!”
When it came to say remember to come back, her eyes were red, and tears hanging. Yelang was worried. Once he went to Dali, who else would protect her? Then he gave her back the dagger, said, “It is better you keep this dagger! Recently, it isn’t so safe around here. It is better to have a weapon with you.”
Yiyi looked at the dagger, said: “I am afraid of these sorts of weapon, you know that. They always suggested ominous feelings.”
Yelang raised the dagger and smiled: “Look! Now you have engraved my name on this dagger, as if I was with you. All the ominous feelings will be gone.”
Yiyi leaned on his sturdy shoulder, but still an unknown ominous premonition lingering in her heart. He has to be away for six months, too long that they have never been parted.
A few days later, Yelang set off to Dali. Unexpectedly, once he was away. Yiyi’s uncle sent her to the Emei temple and sent Yicun to the Baiyun Temple. Yiyi faced great change and did not know what to do. She was crying and crying in the temple, refused to take the tonsure. Yungu, the master nun, felt pity for her. She persuaded the abbot to let her practice nun without shaving hair. The abbot and other master nuns believed that Yiyi didn’t want to take the tonsure, must have something she could’t put down in the red dust. Therefore, they allowed her practice nun with her hair on temperorily.
Liu Yiyi then became a martial arts disciple, but she has not learned any martial arts. She has only provoked countless doomed romance. In the stable of the forest, she was set up by Miaoyin, drank the reunion tea and ruined her innocence with Ren Wanli. She wanted to kill herself, but saved by Ren Wanli. Ren Wanli gently bounced off the dagger and shouted: “Liu the girl, you must not do stupid things. I am not a ruthless person. I will be responsible for what I did. I will go immediately to your master, said that I want to marry you. She must promise…. and… what happened here today, will only you and I know…”

When Ren Wanli said that, Liu Yiyi was flustered, said: “No!”
Ren Wanli suddenly blanked, asked: “Why? am I… so annoying?”
Liu Yiyi quickly said: “No!” She was thinking about Yelang! Yelang! What should I do? If he was back, I have already married to Songhu Island, then… he must thought that I betrayed our oath and hated me for a lifetime. But if he came back and found out I have already on more innocent, how could I face to him?” After considering all the situations, she realized that no matter what she decided was extremely painful. Ren Wanli watched her restless and struggling, he was baffled but he could do nothing except offer to marry her. He hate himself though was superb at martial arts, but he can’t comfort his beloved woman. Hence, he picked up the dagger on the ground, place it on his own throat and said resolutely: “Liu the girl, if you refused to forgive me, please let me die in front to you!”

Liu Yiyi looked at him strangely. She saw no trace of playfulness in his eyes. She thought: How superb the status of him? everyone knows that Ren Wanli is peerless in the rivers and lakes. He would really die for me? While she was doubtfully looked at him, Ren Wanli suddenly kneeled in front of her, pushed the dragger closer to his throat. Liu Yiyi was frightened, she immediately kneeled and hold his arm, said: “No! Island Master! Why have you?” Then she tilted her face and said, “This is after all… not totally your fault.” She was blushed when she said that. Ren Wanli still kneeled, but he was fascinated and grateful for what she said. He felt that she was noble and honest. He loved her even more. He bowed and said: “Liu the girl, if you don’t mind that I am old and ugly, willing to marry me as my wife, I will swear to heaven, in my life, I only love you, till the end and forever.”
Liu Yiyi was thinking: Ren Wanli is tall and handsome, even he is much older than I am. By any means, he can’t be said old and ugly. He is actually extraordinary. It is me not worthy for him. How can I refused!? She was about to give in but once she thought of Yelang, she couldn’t just let go of him. She did’t say anything for a long time, then Ren Wanli kept kneeling on the ground. Yiyi finally made up her mind. Anyhow I have to see Yelang again. Thus, she tried to delay with an excuse. She turned back to him, said: “Island Master, can you give me three months.”
“Three months?” Ren Wanli asked.
Liu Yiyi took away the dagger from his hand, said: “Please, Island Master, stand up first!”
When she was trying to help him standing up, Ren Wanli suddenly bounced up by himself. Doesn’t he need any help? Liu Yiyi was surprised that he has been kneeling for such a long time, his knees seemed to have no paralysis. He looked up with his eyes like star and moon when his eyebrows like sword. He is spiritual, not a common man. After a long sigh, she replied: “Yes, three months. I wondered if the Island Master could come to Emei after three months.”
Ren Wanli did not understand why he has to wait for three months, and has to endure the pain of missing her for three more months. Three months could have changed dramatically, he was worried. Hence, he said: “After three months, when I go to Emei to propose, what is the token for me to be trusted?”
Liu Yiyi listened to him asking for a token of trust. She felt mournful in her heart and lamented that her fate has been out of her hands. She has no choice but gave him the dagger, said: “Take this dagger!” After three months, if the Island Master did not come, today’s pledge between us would be abolished.”
Ren Wanli felt humiliated when she said that, he quickly rejected: “A man’s word once spoken, cannot be overtaken, how could I abolish it? Liu the girl, has you looked down on me?”
Liu Yiyi smiled only without argued, said: “You should also promise me, the Island Master. Within these three months, you or I should never mention about what happened today to the third party.”
Ren Wanli was annoyed by this Liu Yiyi. She has too many things to worry. What is she thinking actually in her heart? Is it that I am not good enough for her? he frowned and said: “Liu the girl, you can be assured that I am not a big mouth gossip, how could I tell tales of my own?”
Liu Yiyi listened to what he answered. She couldn’t help but smiled. But instantly she remembered Yelang and sighed again.

Liu Yiyi wanted to wait for Yelang to return, and confessed to him of the truth. If he understood and forgave, she would run away with him and would never marry Ren Wanli. However, only one month has passed. One day, when she and master Yungu were cleaning the ancestral hall, she suddenly fainted and fell from the altar. Fortunately, Yungu caught her in time. Yungu shouted: ” Yiyi! What happened to you?” She was in a coma. When she gradually revived, she saw that Yungu was checking her pulse. She quickly retracted her hand, but Yungu has already changed her face, taken aback: “Yiyi! You …”
Yiyi immediately fell her kneel to the ground, took the corner of her clothes and cried: “Master, it is my fault.”
Yungu and Yiyi’s parents were originally fellows in the village. She has been watching Yiyi growing up. She loved her like her own child. Although Yiyi is a practitioner, she is still a half-timed nun. If the abbot found out, she will be evicted from the temple, and her life will be ruined. She was shocked and angry when she was thinking of it. She questioned gravely: “Who is he?”
Yiyi was crying, but said nothing. Yungu suddenly reminded that a guy who was a porter often came to see her. She suspected was him, so she said, “Is it the porter called Yelang? ”
Yiyi listened the name of Yelang, she hurriedly shook her head: “No! No! No! Not him.”
Yungu heard that it was not him, she was more anxious: “Who is then? There must be someone!”
Yiyi was afraid that once the fact were told, they would immediately send her to Songhu Island. She would never be able to see Yelang again. Therefore, she did not answer whatever Yungu asked. If she didn’t say who is the guy, Yungu could do nothing but tried to cover up for her. However, this kind of thing can’t be concealed forever. The abbot will found it out eventually. In addition, it happened to be the one hundredth anniversary of Emei temple. It was reallly the bad time to have such a scandal. She finally decided to imprison Yiyi in the Jinding Zen Room and will disposed her after the annverisary.
The day before the annversary, it also to be the last day of the three-months period that Yiyi was set for Ren Wanli, and on this day, Yelang finally came back.

Going Home 5-2

(2) The past

Cao Hook and his confidantes of more than ten people staring at Duan Hunling, when he stepped into the White Tiger Hall. He quickly went to the front to greet Cao Hook, smiled and said: “The third master, I have tried these goods, they are all fine. The goods are fine, no problem.” Cao Hook leaned against the chair with his one foot stepped on the tiger’s head, slowly said: “Have you tried? How do you try? How do you know that there is no problem?”
Duan Hunling kept smiling, put the bamboo tube into the salt bag and said: “I have eaten it!”
Cao Hook coldly said: “Have you eaten it? How much have you eaten?”
Duan hunling immediately felt awkward with his unusual tone, replied eagerly: “I have tasted it.”
Cao Hook looked around his companions. Everyone sneered disdainfully. He then stood up and walked to the salt bags, pull out his golden rice hook, slammed it in the puffed bag to make a large hole. The snow-white salt granules was flowing on the ground, while he said: “You have eaten it? Is this much? or that much?”
Duan Hunling now realized that he deliberately embarrassed him, he looked at the floor and said: “No, not that much.”
Cao Hook blinked and said: “No? Then why did you tell me that there is no problem?”
Duan Hunling wanted to please Cao Hook, but he didn’t expect that he was so malicious. He has nothing to say.
Cao Hook seemed to be not yet unfinished, he wanted to humiliate him. He waved his golden rice hook, jeered: “You have to eat all of the salt, before you told me there is no problem! You have to be responsible, this is a big business, don’t you know that!” Then he laughed loudly while walking back to sit on his tiger’s head chair, and his expression was extremely dispiteful.
Duan Hunling was shocked, he looked up at him abruptly, unlikely he was joking at all. The people around him were already screaming and shouting: “Eat! Eat! Don’t you dare to eat?”
“He is just a porter, so expensive these official salt, can he afford to eat?”
“You are just hayseed, you don’t know the taste of salt. How could you say you have eaten! No problem! Haha!”
For a moment, everyone was watching whether brother Duan really would eat these salt. I stood aside, felt very sorry for him. I didn’t expect he really ate those salt. He grabbed a handful of salt put into his mouth without frowning. Everyone saw it, and was excited. They swarmed, cheered and screamed. Brother Duan didn’t change his face, or slowed down. He even used both hands to grab the salt. Big scoop of it, one after one put into his mouth and chewed. I didn’t know how much he ate, until he vomited and fainted on the ground. Brother Duan is a true man. In order to survive in the Qinglong Gang, he had to bear the humiliation. Finally he managed to gain the trust of Cao Hook. He took the opportunity to retaliate, he set him up, and replaced him. But good time didn’t last very long. He was eventually pull down by other stronger competitor. He was expelled from the Qinglong Gang and drifted to Luoyang. He happened to meet with me, Bai and Wuyan. The four of us were same being stumbling in the rivers and lakes. We then became sworn brothers, sworn to share blessing, or misfortune.
Weng poured two cups of wine before he continued: “Brother Duan later happened to save the Empress who was assassinated by the New Party. The Empress assigned him as a guardian in front of the court of Forbidden Palace. He then became a honorable man in the capital. After brother Duan was successful, he did not forget us. He immediately introduced us to the Empress. We finally changed our destiny from a street rat to respectful court guards. Brother Duan was really an earnest, compassionate man… ”
When Qiaqian heard about this, she couldn’t help but opposed, “What? earnest, compassionate? Are you kidding? He is going to kill me? I can’t agree with you.”
Weng smiled. “If brother Duan really wanted to kill you, do you think you still can live until now? Stupid!”
He somewhat sounded reasonable. Qianqian was giving in. Weng picked up the cup, said gently. “Brother Duan has a secret love hidden for decades. You are only a young girl, you will not understand. ”
After saying that, he finished his last cup and left.
Qianqian remembered that when she first met Duan hunling, he acted crazily when she mentioned the death of her mother. Is that this despicable villain has some secret love with my mother? When she thought of it, she fiercely shook her head: “Impossible, mother and father were lovers of fairy tale. Their love lasts forever, and Duan hunling is just a slutty villain who bully the weak!”
Qianqian didn’t want to think about it. She wanted to practice internal breathing quietly, but she couldn’t concentrate on it any more.

When they were passing the foot of Taibai Mountain, Duan hunling slowed down. Four horses was riding into the valley of wildflowers field. The fragrance of wildflowers attracted a few white butterflies, flying above the horse’s shoes. Bai looked at the white butterflies, and suddenly rode straight to the side of Qianqian, looked at her with a sinister smile. He was watching her green satin coat, embroidered with a stripe of willow leaf on the collar, that reminded him the night of Dongting in spring. He was intoxicated for a while before asked: “What about your pair of flying butterflies?”
Qianqian squinted at him, couldn’t understand what he meant. He didn’t say anything more, but just staring obsessively at her collars with some suggestion. Qianqian suddenly realized: “The day…the man on the shore of Dongting Lake was you!”
When this thought came to her mind, she was so terrified. She recalled what had happen that day. She was still ashamed, but Bai seemed proud of it, said. “Isn’t me? Who else do you think?” He smirked, then pull his horse away.
Qianqian was shocked. She now realized that she has wronged Teng Kuanrou. Everything about this person abruptly came back to her mind. The bitterness and sweetness, the tears and the smiles. It was only a year or more. He was like spring flowers after storm, stuck on the damp muddy path. She looked up the white clouds, the green peaks, she didn’t know where she was.
Duan hunling suddenly lifted his arm and shouted: “Go to the Baiyun Temple!” Then he pull his horse onto a narrow path along the road. Weng and Bai immediately followed. Qianqian was pulling by Weng, of course she had no choice but followed as well. Four of them rode their horses on the steep mountain trail in the breeze of evening. The shadows of the sun were sparse, and a bang of drum echoed from the distance. The Baiyun Temple, an ancient temple in the deep mountain, suddenly appeared in front of them.

When the four came to the Baiyun Temple, they saw a boy monk sweeping the stone steps leisurely, appeared to he has forever to do so. When he saw this four persons, he stopped and asked: “Are you going to the Baiyun temple to worship Budda?”
Duan hunling jumped down the horse, leaned forward to asked: “No, but, is the Master Zhitong here?”
The boy monk smiled and answered: “Oh! You are looking for our abbot? He went to Mount Lushan and has not returned yet!”
Duan Hunling was slightly disappointed, but still courteously said: “There are my brothers and sister, we were on our way to Kaifeng. I wonder if we could spend a night at the temple?”
Before the boy monk answered, someone suddenly shouted: “I am not his sister!”
The boy monk then turned to looked at this female donor who wears a black long cloak in the hot summer day. She looked no more than twenty years old. It was indeed a bit too young to be that donor’s sister. He nodded and looked at Duan hunling again. Duan slightly smiled only without comment. Bai explaned for him: “She is my wife, so my brother called her sister.”
The boy monk looked at this white-faced scholar and the female donor carefully again. They are more likely husband and wife. He then smiled and nodded, but the female donor shouted again: “No, I am not his wife, I am…” before she finished, Weng quickly interrupted: “She is my daughter! the niece of my eldest brother.”
The boy monk now was really confused. He touched his bald head, didn’t know what to say. The female donor seemed almost crying. she resolutely denied: “I… I have nothing related to them! I…” Qianqian was about to tell the truth, but when she saw Duan hunling was looking at her, she hesitated. She knew that she was actually a prisoner of the court. This little monk has nothing to do with it. They might hurt him if I got him involved, so she hold back.
Duan hunling saw that she was no longer talking nonsense, he turned to the boy monk, asked politely again: “Please grant us a convenience to stay in the temple, it’s too late to look for other place!”
The boy monk disregarded the relationship between these people, just firmly said: “The female donor can not stay in the temple. This is for sure…. but there is an abandoned guesthouse up on the mountain. After slightly cleaned and swept, it is still available for your family to stay one night, why don’t you try this?”
Duan hunling of course, realized what this boy monk mentioned about. He was trying to avoid this place but seemed like he has no choice. As well, when he heard that the guesthouse was abandoned, he was surprised. He didn’t expect that the Please come guesthouse that was always full in the past was abandoned. Then he asked: “The Baiyun Temple used to be very prosper, why is it so quiet now?”
The boy monk smirked and replied, “How could I know? When it changed, it changed. What can I do about it?”
After listened to his answer, Duan Hunling looked very lonely. But he consoled him: “The Baiyun Temple has hundreds years of history, it is already unchangeable and timeless.” Then he got on the horse, took the lead up on the mountain. The boy monk quickly chased and shouted: “After the evening class is over, please come back to get the meals!”
Duan hunling raised his hand but did not look back. He had already leapt forward and bumped in the mountain trail. Soon, He saw a building on the front road. In the twilight, the building faintly discernible. The door, the stairway, the windows was almost demolished. Only several tables and benches left in the dining hall. Fortunately, the wooden ladder leading to the attic next to the shopkeeper was still here. There were two guest rooms in the attic, as he remembered. Duan hunling got off the horse, stepped on the ladder. The wooden ladder squeaked immediately, but it was still firm. He went up to the attic, pushed the door of the first room. The red painted windows, pale white wall, the half opened green curtains, a short table in front of the bed, two round chairs, arranged as same as before. Duan hunling entered the room, overlooked the Baiyun Temple half hidden in the dark forest, was faintly visible…

More than ten years ago, Duan Hunling left the Qinglong Gang and wandered into the area of Lonxi. He stayed in this Please come guesthouse with this room. That night, he ordered wine and food. The waiter brought to his room and put on the table. While he smiled and said: “My guest please enjoyed it slowly!” the gap between the half opened screen door was passing by a lady figure. Duan hunling immediately recognized her, he rushed out of the room, saw her stepping down the stairs, he called firmly: “Yiyi!”
The woman dressed in pink skirt with a few plum blossoms on it. She looked back. Her face like a hibiscus, like a new moon, exactly what the Liu Yiyi was. Duan has already been enraptured. They have been separated for 18 years. He never thought today when he felt so dejected, was grant a chance to see her again. He smiled and said: “Yi…. Mrs. Ren, have been a long time! why don’t you come up to raised a cup with me?”
Liu Yiyi smiled, lifted a bit her skirt and walked back without a moment hesitation. Duan hunling was overjoyed. Immediately, he asked the waiter to add a pair of chopsticks and bring few more bottles of wine. The waiter hurriedly set the table for them. Duan then greeted Yiyi to his room. He half-shut the door intentionaly and sat opposite to her to assure she felt comfortable with him. They smiled at each other for awhile without talking. Duan hunling didn’t know where to start, at last was Liu Yiyi asked first: “According to Yicun, he said you became the white head of Qinglong gang in Jinling. Why do you suddenly come to Taibai Mountain today?”
Duan hunling knew that Liu Yiyi is now the lady of Songhu Island. Her status is superb in the rivers and lakes. Every word she said was counted. On the contrary, he was just expelled by the Qinglong. He was inevitablely ashamed of himself. He avoided to look at her, said: “Years ago, I have left the Qinglong Gang already.”
Liu Yiyi sighed and noticed that he had not passed fifty, but was already full of white hair. She imagined that he must had passed through many hardships for these years. When he saw that Yiyi was silent, he tried to cheer her up, smiled and added : “In fact, it wasn’t a bad thing to leave Qinglong gang. I have been doing a lot of wrong things. It is time to change.”
Unexpectedly, Liu Yiyi was even more speechless after hearing that. Duan Hunling couldn’t bear to see her sorrowful face. He quickly poured the wine and sipped by himself.
He has drunk a dozen of cups! but the cup in front of Yiyi was still empty. Duan Hunling did not pour any wine for her. He just asked: “How was the days in Songhu Island?”
Liu Yiyi answered with a smile of contentment: “I have eight daughters.”
Duan Hunling was drunk almost. When he heard that she has eight daughters, he laughed: “So many?” he took a serious look at her with his drunken eyes. Her face was just like the first time he met, said: “Isn’t it very good? You like children very much.”
Thinking of her eight daughters, Liu yiyi smiled from heart, but suddenly her smile disappeared and said: “Unfortunately, I have never had a son, so I came to Baiyun Temple to pray for him today.”
Duan hunling knew that the Songhu Island martial arts did not pass to daughters, no wonder she was anxious. Thus, he comforted her: “Are the daughters not good? Are they just like you?”
Liu Yiyi smiled and said: “They don’t look like me, they all look like Wanli.”
Once mentioned Ren Wanli, Duan hunling was suddenly cracked. He poured wine, kept drinking without looking at her. His hands started shaking and looked really stoned, said: “He…is good to you!”
Liu Yiyi sighed. Thinking of he was ambitious, determined and enthusiastic when he was young. She was unbearable painful to see him so depressed now. She was already tearful, and dared not to look up, only muttered: “Good! Very good.”
Duan Hunling finished all the bottles. He instantly fuddled, but he was still holding the cup and pouring the bottles. He saw someone standing in front of him, pressing his hand on his bottle. Duan hunling glanced at her and saw her face was shinned with tears, said, “Ye Lang! Don’t drink any more!”
Duan Hunling drank the empty cup, and smirked: “Don’t drink, don’t drink, l listened to you, of course!”
Before the words has finished, he fell on the table unconsciously.
The next day, when he woke up, he found that he was lying on the bed, sleeping with clothes and boots. He quickly flipped over the bednet, saw the dishes on the table intact but the bottles were in a mess. The door was still half-shut, but Yiyi has already gone. Last night? It seemed that he was embracing her, the pillow was still warm and scented. Is this again his dream of spring? He was muddled.

Going Home 5-1

Chapter 5: Going home
(1) Breaching (2) The past (3) Yelang (4) The Pine tree (5) Proposal (6) The wolf (7) Home

(1)Breaching
Qianqian exchanged clothes of Han style, bid thee farewell to the grassland, followed Zhang Fushou, escorted by a dozen military officers, embarked a long return. On the way, Zhang Fushou treated Qianqian as an important guest. He let her accommodated in the official camp, and rode together with him in the carriage. She was also accompanied by a servant, serving her all the needs daily. The squadron quietly passed through the Qilian Mountain. The Icy Jade Palace was still on mid-level of it when the bald eagles were hovering between the valleys.
Daxia’s officials hosted a banquet for Zhang Fushou. He invited Qianqian to come. At the banquet, they were celebrating and proud of successfully expel the Jing Jiao monks. Qianqian was sitting among them. She couldn’t enjoy the feast at all. She was just drinking by herself and getting annoying.
Gradually, they seemed to have no other topics, they turned to Qianqian. One of the Daxia officials asked in fluent Chinese: “Where does the ancestral home of you? We will be back to the Great Song after going through the Yanzhi Mountain tomorrow.”
Qianqian has no intention to talk to them, but for just being polite, she answered: “My family is in the Bashu.”
Zhang Fushou heard that it was in the Bashu, naturally asked: “Which state is it of Bashu?”
Qianqian was baffled, thought: Songhu Island is Songhu Island. It has been there for two hundred years. Has anyone ever asked me which state it is in Bashu? She was rolling her eyes, when dozens of others were looking at her, waiting for her answer. She then said calmly: “My family is in the Bashu for two hundred years, but there is no state as I know.”
“Songhu Island?” These officials were looking at each other. It seemed that no one has heard of it. Qianqian now realized that even though Songhu Island is so famous in the rivers and lakes, but it is just an uncivilized outsider in the red dust of reality. She couldn’t help but sighed, and felt that she has nothing in common with them. She stood up and bowed, said courteously: “I am just too young and too ignorant to understand the official’ s interest.” Then she turned to Zhang Fushou, said: ” Officer Zhang, could I ask your permit to go back to the camp first.”
Zhang Fushou smiled and said: “There is too vast of the territories in the Great Song. Although some places are within the territories in the map, they lost in the rivers and lakes. It is not surprising that they are not in the record. Don’t you care too much!”
Qianqian smiled, curtsied, then turned and left. She was sorrowful with the absolute loneliness. She had a hunch that this time even she returned to the Central Plains, everything would be no longer the same.

On the following day, the squadron was led by officials of Daxia, taking the advantage of using the official road, though when they arrived at Lanzhou was already late at night. The prefect of Lanzhou greeted Zhang Fushou outside the city gate. When the two met, they whispered. After the prefect has said something, Zhang Fushou looked very embarrassed. He then followed the prefect to the government hall, and put Qianqian in the guest house.
Qianqian was promised of given a horse, and will return to Songhu Island on her own tomorrow. Thinking of soon she will be home, she was very excited. But when she thought of she will be father and farther apart with Yueqiao, and doesn’t know when they can ever reunite, she was feeling sad. Looking out the window of Lanzhou ancient city in the shadow of moon light, this remoted border town was haunted by the Yellow river day and night. Everything looked so absurd to Qianqian.
She has just fell asleep shallowly, but awakened by a sharp knocking on the door. Qianqian was slammed in her heart. In the middle of the night, what happened, why was so disturbing?
She quickly got up and opened the door. There stood outside was a soldier. He looked flustered, said :”Qianqian, the girl, Officer Zhang asked you to go immediately. He has something very important to discuss with you.”
Qianqian wondered: “What is the matter? Why must have to talk at this time?”
The soldier hesitated for a while before he replied: “I heard that they caught a Jing Jiao monk who returned to the Central Plains illegally. Officer Zhang urged Qianqian, the girl to the government hall to identify him.”
“Jing Jiao monk returned to the Central Plains?” Her heart was pounding. She immediately thought of Yueqiao, but soon she denied. She believed that Yueqiao was impossible to escape back to the Central Plains. This person they caught even is a Jing Jiao monk, it is impossible to be him.
The soldier urged again: “Qianqian, the girl, please go with me right away!”
Qianqian was wondering, but considered Officer Zhang sending her back from a thousand miles away. And he has been treating her so well. It would be too rude if she rejected to go. She thinks: If this person is not Jing Jiao monk, I identify him to set him free, it isn’t a bad thing to do. Then she followed the soldier out of her room in the middle of night.
The soldier led Qianqian walking around, but did not go directly to the government hall. Instead, he quietly passed through the dark corridor hidden under the city, went to the cellar where the prisoners were hold. Qianqian went down to the gate and abruptly felt cold sweated. She stopped, then the soldier said: “Officer Zhang is interrogating the escape. I heard that the escape is very tough. He didn’t say anything. Qianqian, the girl must to identify him.”
Qianqian has a feeling that the fact was not as simple as he said. But, what can she do? She looked up the sky, there were only stars. If officer Zhang really wanted to hurt me, where can I escape? Aunt Mu entrusted him to send me back. He has no reason to harm me! Why I became so suspicious now?
She noticed that the soldier was looking anxiously. He must be afraid that Officer Zhang would blamed him taking so long. Thus, she followed him walking down the stairs. She didn’t expect that on the edge of this arid desert, the walls of the cellar were so wet. At the end of the stone steps, the soldier opened the iron gate to let her in. Inside the cellar, Officer Zhang was sitting at the table with hands covered his face. The swaying candlelight illumated the cellar slowly while she was walking in, but except Officer Zhang, there was no any other people. Qianqian stopped moving, frightened. She felt something very unusual and bad. She suddenly turned around, wanted to escape. Unfortunately, it was too late. A few men flashed in front of her, and then a fascinating floral fragrance spread over. Qianqian before she fainted, heard a burst of laughters around her ears.

In the coma, Qianqian faintly saw Zhang Fushou standing before a man in a brocade robe, said: “Even if she was really wanted by the court, she is just a girl! Do you need to treat her like this?”
Qianqian was horrified, how did they treat me? She raised her ears to listen. The man said: “Zhang Fushou, do you want to watch the Empress’s order again? This woman eavesdropped on the court’s secret. She is the number one wanted by the court. And you treated her as a guest. You have to protect her or to keep your head? I am afraid that if the Empress once blamed, you will not be guaranteed?”
Zhang Fushou realized that he was only a lower level official. He was ordered to secretly return the Jing Jiao monks. His duty has just been completed, he really has no reason to provoke the Empress her majesty. He sighed and shook his head then handed Qianqian to this man. Once his figure was removed, Qianqian saw this man, sitting at the table, with his hands playing a daggar which was the relic from her mother. This man was not anyone, of course, was the evil thief Duan hunling.
Qianqian knew that this evil thief would not let go of her, sooner or later she will fall into his hands, but she was resented to be sold by Zhang Fushou. She said coldly: “Duan hunling! You are the best among those despicable villains, and you have never tired of being that.”
Duan hunling listened to the calmly statement she made, he couldn’t help but impressed. He pull his corner of mouth, lifted his eyebrows, sneered: “The rivers and lakes are treacherous, you must be not suffered enough for that you are still stiff neck. But you can be assured. This time you fell into my hands, I will let you suffer enough to learn to be good.”
While speaking, he was flipping the dagger. The blade reflected his eyes impassively. Qianqian wanted to stand up and seize the dagger from his hand, said: “Don’t touch my mother’s relics!” but she found that her feet have been buckled up with a pair of lead rings, one left and one right, each weighed more than a hundred pounds. Don’t say walking, it was difficult to just standing up. Qianqian realized now what the suffering he meant. She loathed him, but indeed, was terrified. Duan hunling stood up and laughed: “ You finally know that you are scared? I tell you! It’s just the beginning, I want to see if your neck harder, or my means.”
Hence, he laughed and sneered a few times before he stepped out the cellar. Once the gate was closed, the cellar was suddenly thrown into darkness with extremely unpleasant moist odor. Qianqian couldn’t stand up, so she kept lying down. She clenched her fists with hatred more than fear.

When the morning came, Weng went to the cellar to take Qianqian out. Qianqian dragged with her heavy lead rings, moving out the prison. The sun in the morning of July was sharp as thorns, Qianqian stopped at the gate, raised her arms to block the sun. Weng shouted immediately: “Hey! don’t you walk faster!”
Qianqian has been buckled up with two heavy plumbs, how could she walk faster? Does this man has any sympathy to me? She was spiteful, she would never beg to these kinds of evil. She tried very hard to walk fast, but she could only lift her legs once at a time. Weng looked at her and felt amusing, then he took the horse to her and said: “Look at you! Walked like a snail. Don’t walk anymore! Get on the horse!” Qianqian glimpsed at this long-beard man, doubted: For what you are nice to me? So she just stood in front of the horse without moving. Bai, the youngest brother came from behind and said: “Would you like to get on the horse? Let me help you!”
While speaking, he reached out his hand to grab Qianqian’s waist, but was driven away by her. Her palms was very fast though she couldn’t move her leg at all. Bai didn’t expect she was still able to defend after sunk with two giant lead. He was shocked and retreated. He looked at her, angrily wide opened eyes, but lips were tightened. He stood and enjoy watching her. More she resisted him, she seemed more desirable. He reached out his hand to pinch her chin. Qianqian bended gently her waist to avoid it. Bai failed again then turned furious, he immediately attacked her with palms continuously but all blocked by her bare hands. She remained still and composed. Her feet never had moved a bit. Weng watched by the side, teased: “Bai! What do you want to do with this turtle?”
Of course, Bai was not convinced. He was thinking if he couldn’t attack her in the front. he could grab her waist from the back. Her feet was locked up, wouldn’t she has eyes on the back. So, he sneered arrogantly, went behind Qianqian, trying to grab like a bear to kiss her cheek. When he just moved, unexpectedly, Qianqian bended her body backwards in an instant, with her palms to push him away. Because her feet were stabilized with heavy lead, her lower part of body became as firm as an old tree, and her hands were as free as wind. She was even more untouchable. Bai was really embarrassed and shameful, so he violently throw his fists to Qianqian. However, no matter how aggressively he attacked, he just couldn’t touch her anywhere. He finally exhausted, staring at her cold silhouette with hair fluttering in the breeze. Her heels were still locked on the ground, looked unconquerable. Bai was admired. Probably the first time in his life really admired a woman. He felt even more craving for her.
Weng thought that Bai should have enough vexing! He smirked and said: “You deserved it if you asked for this kind of trouble. After we go back to Kaifeng, there are much more girls, gentle and beautiful. Why do you have to pick this spiky thorny cactus?”
Speaking of that, he came to lift Qianqian’s left feet on the stirrup, said: “When I lifted your right leg, you push yourself over the saddle, can you!?”
While Weng was trying his best to push Qianqian up on the horse back, Duan hunling and Zhang Fushou was walking out from the government hall. They were talking and laughing so amiably: ”
Qianqian finally got on the horse. Looking back to Zhang Fushou respectfully bowing to Duan huling, she was not reconciled. She shouted: “Zhang Fushou, you sold me!”
Zhang Fushou listened to her shout, he just turned around and quickly walked away. Qianqian was desperate, thinking of once she was brought away by these villains, who else will save her? She turned to cry and plead: “Officer Zhang! save me! Officer Zhang! Save me! Please!”
However, no matter how she beg now, Zhang Fushou pretended he didn’t hear. He rushed behind the door, slammed it with the bar lock tightly. Qianqian could only see a pair of copper lion rings on the red painted door, insensibly. After Duan hunling got on the house, he yelled: “Go!” Qianqian was pulled by Weng abruptly. She hurriedly hold the horse’s neck. Bai followed after. Four horses cracked the road of yellow sand, rushed out of Lanzhou city, heading east to the captial.

Out of Lanzhou Prefecture, along the eastbound of river Wei, they arrived the courier station of Lonxi in the evening. The sergeant saw that they were transporting a prisoner of the court, he immediately served them with the best food and wine they could find in this remoted courier station.
Qianqian was taken along with the horses to the stable. Two guards were standing outside, while the others were enjoying their feast in the pavillion with singers and musicians. Qianqian looked up the swinging silhouettes cluttered with the fragrant red sleeves, loud music and drunk singing. She despised: “What a wolf and dog party! The Empress betrayed her oath first, and conniving this traitors after. Isn’t it the omen of being subjugated as master said before?”
She then sighed: “I will end my life before that probably! Why I care about that?” So she closed her eyes to mediate. She remembered the power the breathing method taught by Miaoyin. After she practiced, she felt much better control of her internal strength, she thought: Miaoyin is sinister for sure, but the method of breathing he taught seemed all real. In order to learn the Master’s three swords from me. He has to use the true method to exchange. He can do whatever for his martial arts, his love is true to it, at least.”
Then she thought about Yueqiao, she muttered, “How can I give up my life after many hardships with you? I have to live whatever, for you. ” Then she raised her arms to practice breathing. She has to fortify herself to survive, and get rid of these despicable villains. She closed eyes and started to practice the internal method taught by Maioyin. She practiced deeply, too deep that she has almost lost herself. She has entered the state of embryonic breath. All the sounds were completely isolated, and for a long time, she didn’t breath at all, but her face was still rosy, her mind was simple, pure with no desire and fear.
Suddenly, a voice from far away, calling her. Qianqian smiled without respond, then she was abruptly shook by someone. She broke the mediation and woke up. She opened eyes and saw Weng. He said: “What kind of mediation you are practicing? You looked so fascinated?”
Qianqian was awaken in the halfway, she sighed and muttered: If it wasn’t still shallow, I’m afraid I would be in deviation. She surprised: The method that Miaoyin taught was really profound. She pressed her hands on DanTian to soothe her breath, then said: “Nothing, what are you yelling for?”
Weng looked at her carefully and said: “Girl! You are looking more and more sophisticated. When you were in the Western Region, must have met someone special, have you?” saw her just opened mouth without responding, he then frightened her: “However, unfortunately, you are now in the hands of my brother. Once you are returned to the capital, you will be sentenced and beheaded in front Wumen.”
Qianqian was really frightened by what he said. She immediately turned her head and stared at him absurdly. Weng laughed and put the food on the ground. Qianqian saw there were chicken, fish and vegetables, looked so delicious. She felt hungry instead of frightened. She picked up the chopsticks and gorged without hesitation. Weng saw this girl was really cute and simple, he smiled and said: “You eat slowly!” then he shook out a bottle and two cups, sitting on the ground, poured two glasses of wine and said: “I see you a smart girl, how come you always do stupid things?”
Qianqian drank a cup of wine, asked: “The stupid thing you said is offending that despicable villain like Duan hunling, right?”
Weng sighed and said: “You are smart, I have no doubt, but why your neck is so stiff?”
Qianqian swallowed a mouthful of food, sneered: “You are one of them, why are you so good to me today? You wanted to be good person now?”
Weng shook his head and jeered: “You are simple empty fool head! I am good to you, then I am a good person. My brother is not good for you, then he is a bad person?”
Qianqian put down the chopsticks, couldn’t believe someone would say that Duan hunling is not a bad person. She wasn’t convinced: “He killed uncle Cao, I saw it with my own eyes, and he tried to put me to death many times, how can I deny it?”
When she mentioned Cao Hook, Weng was provoked: “When Cao Hook was doing evil, you were not even born yet! When my brother first entered the Qinglong Gangs, how did Cao Hook bully him, have you seen it?”
“Have you seen it?” Qianqian still refused to be convinced. Weng smiled and said: “Of course I have seen it….brother Duan has no nepotism in the rivers and lakes. If he didn’t have some means, how could he earned his status today?”
After hearing that, Qianqian was silent and no longer refuted. Weng then took his time to explained: “I was a salt smuggler in Jinling, and I had dealt with Qinglong Gangs. At that time, Cao Hook had just become the head of white tiger. In such a position, he was of course very arrogant. One day I took my goods to him for business. Brother Duan at that time was only a small potato in Qinglong. He wanted to attract the attention of Cao Hook. Boldly came out to pick up the goods alone, but he didn’t know that Cao Hook had looked down on his humble origins and had no martial arts background. When he knew that brother Duan wanted to please him, he purposely embarrassed him.

一簑煙雨4,1-7

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第四章:黑風川
(一)患難(二)大秦(三)蒲類(四)十字(五)團圓(六)懺悔(七)歸依

(一)患難
葡萄架下,暴雨滂瀾,洪水混着黃沙快掩沒半個莊園。趙丹鳳自十五年前硬闖碧寒宮之後,就再沒見過此人,如今矍然站在眼前,難免多打量一眼,只見他氣焰如昔,但兩鬢蒼蒼,長鬚冉冉,已然一老者,難怪他如斯渴望長生不老,就算武功再高,人終須一死,想到這裏,不禁嘴角微牽,不屑地笑。
妙音天君見趙丹鳳這副神情,瞳孔一縮,便伸手捏她咽喉,雖身在一丈開外,五爪一伸就到,趙丹鳳素知他手段卑劣,往往不動聲息就攻人不備,舉起蜜桃籃子便向他擲去,妙音天君五指只抓到幾個水蜜桃,趙丹鳳已一縷青煙的溜了。妙音天君狠狠地把水蜜桃揉得糜爛,見趙丹鳳身影躥入了土樓,縱身飛躍,一到樓前,便舉掌砸破樓門,趙丹鳳竟未逃走,反氣昂昂地站在一端牆垣下,像在恭候他進來,這時洪水已淹到兩人膝蓋。
妙音天君那怕她耍花樣,大步跨進去,才踏入土樓,只聽吱吱兩聲,舉頭一看,吳道才從樓上潑出一盤滑潸潸的東西,竟全是張口獠牙的青尾小蛇。趙丹鳳知道與他為敵二十年,總有一天他會找上門來,這些青尾小蛇為他準備已久,就是要他再嘗嘗被青尾蛇咬傷的滋味。
妙音天君眼看百多條青尾小蛇撲面而來,竟也不怎麼躲避,只是振臂一揮,全身抖擻,大數青尾小蛇就讓他音波振落,只有數條掉在他襟領上還來得及咬他一口,可是,妙音天君早已今非昔比,伸手點了自己頸項上大椎等幾處穴道,暫且鎮住蛇毒。一手撩起肩上那幾條青尾蛇,盯着趙丹鳳,怒不可遏。
趙丹鳳見他手抓青尾小蛇,一步一步走近,竟也一點都不退縮,妙音天君憤憤地把青尾小蛇摔死在她跟前,兩眼怒火熊熊,道:「趙丹鳳,你以為我還是當年的拓跋晉材麼!」然後搖頭續道:「你怎麼幾十年都不變?」
趙丹鳳冷冷道:「誰是當年的拓跋晉材?我根本從不認識此人。」
妙音天君仰天一笑道:「幾十年來你不斷與我為敵,如今又收留我碧寒宮的叛徒,你以為我真的不敢殺你麼?」
趙丹鳳哼一聲道:「你要殺就殺吧!反正你欠我們姓趙的也不只一條命?」
妙音天君振臂高呼道:「趙百嘗是病死的,他能醫不自醫,這跟我有甚麼關係?這筆賬竟也算到我頭上來?」
趙丹鳳聽他提起趙百嘗,心裏更恨,搶着道:「若不是你逼我爹給你長生不老藥的配方,還把他打傷,他怎會一病不起,你難道一點人性也沒有?」
妙音天君聽罷,大笑一聲,冷然道:「哦!是這樣,那你到現在還嫁不出去,我是否也要負責?」
趙丹鳳聽他冷言嘲諷,全不顧念恩情,頓感自己三十年執意留在大夏,耗費半生青春,不知所爲何故?
妙音天君見她眼中閃着淚光,竟也毫不憐惜,一爪伸前便插住她咽喉道:「我不殺你,你是否就不會死心!」趙丹鳳被他插着咽喉,說不出話,兩眼泫然,痛心絕望。
突然,吳道才從後高舉沙鏟,大聲喝道:「妙音老賊,你…快放了她!」
他雖一點武功也不懂,但也不能眼睜睜看着趙丹鳳讓人欺負,妙音天君轉頭瞧他一瞧,不屑道:「你就是那個呼之則來,揮之則去的小丈夫麼?丹鳳,我今天就替你們做媒,你們到地府陰曹裏去拜堂成親吧!」說完,狂笑一聲,回手往趙丹鳳肩膀一推,就舉掌擊去,趙丹鳳連忙屏氣運功,以畢生精力迎接這一掌,啪!兩掌相碰,也不管洪水已淹到腰間。
妙音天君被青尾蛇咬傷,片時不能施展妙音心波功,只能跟她以一般內力比拚,趙丹鳳精通醫術脈理,熟諳運功吐納之法,為了對付妙音天君,奮力練就一身內功掌法,可若跟妙音相比,還是如何勝不了,吳道才在旁看得牙關打顛,卻無能為力,但心裏立定主意,若丹鳳一死,他也不要活了,但見丹鳳內力不繼,汗流披面,嘴角竟已滲着鮮血,此時,三人半身早已泡在洪水中,土樓外,仍是狂風橫雨,雷電交加,洪水正從四方八面奔湧而至,就在趙丹鳳生死關頭,吳道才膽顛心寒之際,一股巨大洪流猛地衝毁土樓牆壁,紅土磚即時轟然倒塌,洪水混着大量沙土,一時滅頂而至,衝開了趙丹鳳和妙音兩人,三人登時泡浸在滔天濁浪中,眼見樓蓋就要坍下,妙音天君竟還能浪裏翻身,幾個筋斗便飛出了土樓,消失在暴雨當中。趙丹鳳和吳道才浸在水裏,埋在瓦礫當中,卻然不知死活。
瞬息間,辛苦經營了十多年的莊園就在這荒漠洪流中毀於一旦。

黎明終於降臨,刮了整晚的沙漠暴風雨,溘然而止。紅日從東方升起,照亮眼前一片沼澤汪洋,連根拔起的枯木浮沉於滾滾濁浪中,洪水拌着流沙,沖積在沙漠的低窪處,形成湖泊,煙波浩瀚,茫無際涯,一群白鷺棲息在湖泊兩岸,排雲逐浪,低飛覓食,終年死寂無聲的荒漠頓成雲夢水鄉。
月橋停馬遠望,見通往回鶻的唯一隘道黑風川也被洪水淹沒,要洪水完全退卻,恐怕要等上好幾天,再看懷裏的千千,見她軟溜溜如一攤泥巴,已全無自保能力,若是此時讓妙音追上,就只有死路一條,回頭眺望天山東麓,有一險道隱約埋於萋萋芳草間,環視四周,想已別無他法,唯有往山裏闖,或許還有一線生機。
山徑崎嶇,荒蕪險峻,月橋與千千騎着瘦馬,顛簸前進,一時路彎,一時路直,走了好幾百里,頓時兩旁青峰峭立,環巒擁翠,古木參天,鬱鬱蒼蒼,雨後雲杉,淡淡清香,盎然灑滿山間。千千嗅到陣陣松露芬芳,以為回了松狐島,驀地醒來,失聲叫道:「爹,我回來了!」
睜開眼睛,但見關山重重,才知道自己還置身於迢迢千里之外,忽聽月橋在耳後低聲問道:「那到底松狐島有幾峰幾澗幾橋幾道?」
千千不禁悠然神往,松狐島的種種風情,如歷眼前,抖抖精神,答道:「松狐島有九峰九瀑,三十六橋,十八道。」
月橋笑道:「哇!那麼多嗎?」
千千抬頷一笑,接道:「當然,松狐島苦心經營二百年,才有今天的氣象,除了峰瀑橋道,還有溪谷泉澗,洞石台棧,數不勝數啊!又豈止十八三十六那麼簡單?傳到我爹已經是第九代,九峰就是以每一代島主的名字命名的,而九瀑就是以每一位島主夫人的名字命名的,就像落梅瀑就是取我娘小名一個梅字命名的。」
月橋聽得津津有味,又問道:「那!三十六橋中,有沒有月橋呢?」
千千嫣然一笑,正色道:「當然沒有,不過月松橋倒是有一條。三十六橋是以松狐島六種武功絕學三十六式來命名的,就好像月松橋,枯松橋就是以聽松十三式的明月松間照和枯松倚絕壁兩招來命名的。」
月橋認真點頭道:「松狐島武功絕學那麼多,難怪我師父死心不息了。」
千千接道:「對啊!就是因為這樣,我爹為了對付那些貿然闖島求藝的人,便在月松橋邊立有石碑,寫上『於此回頭』四個字,就是要提醒那些闖島的人及早回頭,爹說,松狐島的武功以回頭最為精絕,他說那些看到回頭碑就回頭的人,已經學會了松狐島最上乘的功夫了,那就是謙虛無欲,反省悔過。」
月橋聽罷,點頭稱是,暗想:這些事師父從來沒有提過,仇恨竟可把人如此蒙蔽。又問:「那麼…」
還沒說完,千千便笑着接道:「而十八道就是以你說的那些只有母,沒有公的靈狐命名的。」
月橋聽她提起靈狐,想到自己曾出言耻笑她,便低聲道:「靈狐果然是靈物,與牛馬羊這等傻呼呼的動物不同,才能獨立自存於天地間吧!」月橋在她耳邊吞吐着霧氣,千千陣陣暖意擁上心頭,眼梢瞟了他,他便不再說話,這時瘦馬踏進了一片廣袤的草原,草原當中躺着一個水色湛藍的湖泊,湖泊一旁豎着三兩穹廬,幾縷炊煙,和數圈傻呼呼的牛羊。千千與月橋精神為之一振,沒料到在這深山之中竟有此世外桃源。月橋下了馬,發足狂奔,走到湖畔,便縱身跳到湖裏去,湖水雖然冰冷,但清澈見底,湖岸長滿了蘆葦,白日晃晃,湖水閃着藍色的粼光,如幻似真。
千千也下了馬,站在湖邊,聽月橋在湖中喊道:「喂!你怕水的麼?難怪那天在青草湖畔,你只瞪大眼看,又不敢跳。」
說着已游回岸上,見千千蹲在湖畔,手裏抓起一把浪裏細沙,默然無語,月橋側頸窺探她的表情,四目相投之際,正要扮個鬼臉,千千便一把泥沙往他臉上撒去,月橋閃得好快,閃到千千身後,一手把她抱住,便舉起掉到湖水裏去,噗嗵一聲,千千沉在水裏,水深剛好沒頂,登然想起兩度遇溺的險況,滕寬柔的影像刹那在腦海閃出。千千睜着圓溜溜的眼珠,嘴裏不斷吐出氣泡,忽而臂彎被人抓起,便倏的拖至湖心,月橋把千千臂彎繞到自己肩上去道:「你看!水是那麼好玩的,你怕她甚麼呢?」
說罷便背着千千破浪翻騰,放聲呼號,甚是忘形,千千伏在他肩上,也就不覺得害怕,兩人嬉戲於綠波當中,漸漸,千千鬆開了手,一人在水中暢泳,時浮時沉,樂而忘憂。
不知過了多少時候,兩人便累極游返湖畔,才一上岸,岸上竟站着十來個人,看他們男男女女都穿厚實皮襖,頭戴毯帽,身材矮少,圓臉細眼,緊盯着月橋和千千,臉上表情不甚友善。月橋一時也不知要說些甚麼,只能卑身鞠躬,表示友好。但那些人卻忽然伸手指着千千,又喊又叫,其中兩個漢子還取出羯鼓敲打,其他人便紛紛撲向千千,正要抓她起來,月橋連忙上前衝開他們,喊道:「別碰她!」
眾人見月橋攔阻,便一窩湧上,又拿出棍子,毫不客氣便往兩人身上打,月橋拉着千千的手,幾下翻騰便衝出重圍,跑上了山坡,回頭見他們只在湖畔喧譁,沒有再追來,才停下喘氣。
月橋邊喘氣邊罵道:「真個莫名其妙,那裏得罪他們了?不問情由,喊打喊殺!」回頭見千千坐在地上,全身抖索,心頭一緊,便知道第二層七層極樂散的毒就要發作了。

月橋背着千千爬上半山腰,幸好找到一個洞穴,洞裏頗為寬大,地上還殘留着一堆堆動物骸骨,此洞該曾是大型猛獸的洞穴。月橋放下千千,撿起一根骨頭細看,見骨頭已枯乾發黃,相信這洞穴已被棄置許久,但願那離去的猛獸不再折返。
見千千如此痛苦,月橋束手無策,六神無主。突地,千千感到全身痕癢難當,便伸手到處亂搔,邊搔邊喊道:「好癢啊!好癢啊!」月橋看她越搔越癢,不一會,細嫩肌膚竟已抓出點點紅斑,這樣搔下去,恐怕不用片刻便會全身皮破血流,月橋看得心慌意亂,暗想若是這樣下去,怎捱過四十九天?她那樣嬌生慣養,怎受得了這些苦楚?
想到此處,千千不自覺已抓破一層皮,還繼續抓,想必痛的感覺已比不上癢的難受。月橋眼巴巴盯着她肘上破口淌流鮮血,不禁咬咬牙關,衝前握着她的雙手,哀求道:「不要再抓了。」
千千讓他握住雙手,一刻不能搔癢,便瞪大眼睛大喊道:「放開我!」喊着,又拚命掙扎,力量竟比平時大好幾倍。月橋跟她拉扯了半天,還是不能把她勸服,不得已拉下她的腰帶,把她雙手捆綁。千千見自己雙手被綁,更瘋狂叫喊,喊聲轟天:「快放開我!你好狠心!讓我抓,月橋!求求你,放開我啊!放開我啊!」
月橋不管她怎樣叫喊,只是站在一旁,捂着耳朵,不聞不問,千千手不能搔,便倒在地上,不停在地上打滾,情況狼狽不堪。月橋斜眼瞧她,忽然把心一横,揪起千千往上一提,便掛在岩壁突石之上,千千被掛在石頭上,連擦背也不成,全身痛癢,無處發洩,就尖聲呼叫,痛駡月橋:「你…好狠心,你冷血,無良,禽獸不如,你乾脆殺了我吧!殺了我吧!我死了算了!」
月橋給她罵得心亂如麻,又怕她真個求死,咬舌自盡,便撿起地上那條絹帕,往她嘴裏一塞。千千登時罵不出聲,口不能言,手不能搔,鼓起滾大的眼珠,極度痛恨地盯着月橋,從骨裏發出的痛癢感覺,竟逼出滿眶淚水,潸然滑下。
月橋椎心痛裂,雙唇戰抖,兩眼茫然,卻說不出一句話來,頭一摔,便倉皇撲出了山洞。

過了大半天,月橋還是不敢回到洞裏,直至再聽不到任何喊聲,才回洞查看,發覺千千不再掙扎叫喊,腦袋靠着手臂,不知是昏了還是睡了。月橋悄悄走到她身邊,探探她的氣息和體溫,看來並無異狀,才感安心,輕輕抽出她口中絹帕,跑到湖裏蘸了水,匆匆又回到洞裏,把水澆在她乾澀的唇上,千千才醒過來,明明知道月橋這樣做是為自己好,但一旦癢勁發作,又來狂呼狂叫,月橋不得已再用絹帕塞住她的嘴巴,如是者,重複無數次,直至四十九天期限届滿。
時候一到,月橋馬上為她鬆綁,小心地把她解下,讓她枕在自己的腿上,連忙取出她口中絹帕,細心瞧瞧她的臉,看她雙目緊閉,似永遠不要睜開,再看她朱唇爆裂,臉如稿灰,憔悴不堪,心裏痛惜萬分,又恨自己無能為力,不覺竟掉下淚來,淚珠正好落在千千臉頬,千千才睜開眼睛,月橋含淚笑道:「對不起!」
千千見他這樣淚眼汪汪,反低聲問道:「你怎麼哭了?傻瓜頭。」
月橋站起身來,擦掉眼淚,拉着千千的手,走出洞外,指着天空那銀盤似的月亮,道:「你看!今夜的月好圓啊!」
「難道今天是中秋?」千千喃喃道。月橋又指着地上一個草籃,道:「你看!這是甚麼?有乳酪、葡萄、羊奶和燒餅,都是山下的人拿來的。」
千千奇道:「嗯!是麼?他們不是要趕我們走的麼?」
月橋笑道:「管它那麼多?吃吧!你幾十天沒吃過甚麼東西了。」
千千拿起一塊燒餅,仰望高掛的明月,照得叢林裏淡淡綠光,仿有精靈閃動,心裏感到異常平安,想道:甚麼地獄,甚麼極樂,竟全在我的感受裏,我痛麼,我在地獄,我不痛麼,我在極樂。回頭看看月橋坐在地上,一個人吃得高興,又想道:「原來這七層極樂散,全在一個忍字,若能忍人所不能忍,這人心中就沒有地獄,若不能忍人所能忍,就處處都是地獄。」
回頭見月橋吃飽躺在月光下,竟便呼呼入睡,千千上前瞧瞧他的臉,喃喃自語道:「這傻瓜頭,定是累透了。」

第三層是圓滿極寒之地,月橋把獵到的鹿皮鋪在地上,讓千千躺下,又到樹林裏砍柴生火,希望可以令她感覺暖和些,可是,爐火烘烘,千千還是瑟縮一團,全身顛抖不已。月橋坐在火堆旁,早已汗流浹背,恨不得分她一點溫暖。
他蹲在千千身旁,看她牙關打顛,閉上眼,咬着唇,努力忍耐極寒之苦,月橋眼神幽幽,不禁問道:「我抱着你好不好?」
千千微微睜眼,點點頭,月橋便坐在鹿皮上,把她移到胸前,雙臂緊緊擁着她的肩膀,輕聲問道:「有沒有好一點?」
千千還是繼續發抖,搖頭道:「沒有。」
月橋苦笑道:「但我卻覺得好多了,我可以繼續抱麼?」
千千嘴角微牽,眼簾垂下,在他懷裏,雖不能分享他的溫暖,卻深深體會到這份情意,迷迷糊糊見洞口光芒耀目,定是個陽光燦爛的日子,耳畔又傳來陣陣胡琴樂韻夾雜歌聲與笑聲,想必是在慶祝秋收了吧!
月橋到洞外破柴時,發現又有一草籃食物放在洞口,遙望山裏人圍着野火,翩翩起舞,歡樂的笑聲回蕩於草原曠野上,月橋抬眼仰望,昊昊蒼穹,滿懷感恩。

第四層乃是彼岸極熱之煎熬。
淡淡秋雲,山麓的樹木開始轉黃,草原上,短草也漸枯萎,湖水也不再亮麗,四野一片蕭瑟。
可是在洞穴裏的千千卻像吞了一個熱沙太陽在肚子裏,全身發燙,汗流披面,夜夜反側,不能成眠,漸漸頹靡萎瘁,與珊珊白骨無異。
月橋剛從湖裏取水回來,籃子有疏罅,水已差不多漏了大半,月橋俯身摸摸千千身子,竟燙得像火爐裏的煉鋼,馬上摔掉籃子,把她抱起,連忙跑到湖裏去,輕輕把她泡浸在湖水中,湖水那麼冷,月橋半身泡在水裏,也漸發抖,但千千身子還一樣灼燙,此時,湖畔站着兩個小孩,約三四歲,全身緊包着厚厚的皮襖,眼珠溜溜地盯着月橋和千千,格格地笑,甚感奇怪。
月橋明知不管做甚麼都不可能減輕她的痛楚,因為這七層極樂,她必須獨自承受。月橋發覺千千越來越堅強,越是煎熬,越默然忍受,她越是默然,月橋心裏就越是痛楚,越是內疚。
這天早上,月橋走出山洞,竟看見白茫茫一片,原來昨夜下了場大雪,月橋站在山腰一棵杉樹下,眺望草原,空冥遼闊,偶陣冷風吹過,雪粉玉塵,簌簌墜下,天地滄浪,萬籟無聲,自有一種空靈寂滅,心隨物化,物我兩忘的超然境界。

(二)大秦
話說回頭,穆倫與曹鉤鐮一等人離開了洞庭湖,便往長安方向進發,一路上眾人惦記着月橋的安危,但到碧寒宮路途遙遠,一時三刻也不能得知月橋的生死狀況,穆倫心裏也着實焦急,可是她此次長途跋涉來到中土,除了要向皇太后獻上七彩琉璃杯外,還有一件很重要的事要辦,父親臨終前將復教大任交付於她,這些年來,好不容易才與潛匿於中原的八大助法聯絡上,又尋回曹鉤鐮,復教之事漸有眉目,若然現在因為月橋而得罪了大夏國的碧寒宮,那將來從回鶻到中土的道路必定受阻,穆倫想到這裏,深深歎氣道:「月橋雖非我教中人,但見死不救,也違反我教宗旨,必受天尊譴責。」即時便立定主意,月橋之事,不能就此作罷,轉頭就對若鮮齊曼道:「我還有一事必到長安去辦,你倆不若快馬趕往碧寒宮查探月橋的消息,然後飛雁傳書回報,隨後再作打算吧!」
若鮮齊曼接了任務,立刻勒馬應命道:「是,大法王。」即告別眾人,揚鞭疾騎而去。穆倫這才回頭看看曹鉤鐮,見他眉頭深鎖,鬱結難抒,便安慰他道:「曹叔叔,你暫且不用擔心,若鮮齊曼人急馬快,對碧寒宮附近地形又十分熟悉,而最重要的,她倆是胡人,出入大夏國也比較暢通無阻,你也素知碧寒宮主一向仇視漢人,只怕我們未打聽到月橋的消息,反倒給他趕盡殺絕!」
曹鉤鐮聽罷穆倫一番解釋,覺得也合乎情理,便笑道:「你處事謹慎,觀察入微,大有乃父之風,天馬士大法王得女如此,確是天尊庇佑。」
穆倫略笑,打量了曹鉤鐮一眼,才接道:「曹叔叔,其實你與月橋不過萍水相逢,為何對他的安危如此費心呢?」
曹鉤鐮還未回答,端午便嚷着道:「穆阿姨,你為甚麼這樣說呢?你不也一樣很掛心月橋麼?」
曹鉤鐮還是沒有回答,穆倫又問:「曹叔叔,當年你帶着妻兒,不遲而別,離開回鶻,之後到底發生甚麼事?我起初以為你與中土的妻女團聚,也就不敢多問,但後來知道端午是你養女,那麼,愛林和班迪他們又在那裏呢?」
曹鉤鐮乍然低頭握腕,覺得自己所作所為十分自私,既對不起中土的妻女,又辜負了回鶻的妻兒,如今被穆倫咄咄逼來,不禁長歎一聲道:「在回鶻八年,因為耐不住寂寞,才與愛林成親,但又一直不能忘情於中土,天馬士大法王待我親如手足,可是我確實不願牽涉在他的復教大業當中,才逼着愛林與我逃返中原,愛林竟義無反顧,一口應承,那天晚上,春霜骨滑,我們便帶着才只由四歲的班迪,偷偷離開了回鶻…」

曹鉤鐮左手抱着班迪,右手握着愛林,來到黑風川前,已聽到川口內暴風怒號,像有數百狂獅齊聲吼叫,曹鉤鐮早知黑風川在春夏交替間,常有暴風沙作祟,瞬息掩沒行人牲口,十數尺的沙層裏時常發現被活埋的乾屍,但壯年時的曹鉤鐮,任性魯莽,一心只想盡快返回中原,以為可以僥倖避過風暴,穿越黑風川。
可是才一進入黑風川,狂沙撲面而來,小班迪把臉埋在媽媽愛林的胸口,兩人躲在曹鉤鐮身後,三人艱辛地向前蠕行,像在穿越層層沙牆,而沙牆卻越來越厚,沙粒以極速打在三人身上,別說眼睜不開,就是耳孔鼻孔裏都是沙粒,最後三人堵塞在從四方八面傾倒下來的沙牆裏,一步都不能前進,忽焉三人就被一陣旋風卷起,小班迪瞬間鬆脫了媽媽的手,曹鉤鐮看着妻兒被風團卷走,而他自己也迷失在浩瀚沙煙之中。
「當我醒來時,已身在大夏的興慶府,救我的那些駱駝商人說,發現我時就只我一人,並未見我妻兒蹤影,我後來潛返中土,也尋不到我中土的妻女,自此到處飄泊流浪,心裏無時無刻不惦記着他們。」曹鉤鐮說到此處,早已老淚縱橫,泣不成聲。端午聽罷,才知老爹原有這一段傷心往事,十多年來,父女倆相依為命,卻從來隻字不提,想必是悔恨萬分,痛不能言。
穆倫不得已逼他說出這段往事,心裏也很難過,但是,為了解開他心裏的謎團,又不得不問,道:「曹叔叔,我當初看到月橋時,就覺得他那雙深藍色的眼睛很熟識。」
曹鉤鐮聽此一語,馬上和應道:「不錯,我在洞庭湖渡頭看到他時,就立刻想起愛林來,愛林是大秦人士,高鼻深眼,班迪長得像極他媽媽了,卻一點都不像我。」
穆倫點頭道:「但是黑風川和碧寒宮相距也有幾百里,班迪就是活下來,也難以走到碧寒宮?」
曹鉤鐮卻道:「但是碧寒宮爪牙遍佈大夏和回鶻,而且,聽說妙音天君收留了很多在沙漠迷途的孩子,穆倫,如果月橋真的是班迪,我又豈能棄他於不顧呢?」
穆倫把手放在曹鉤鐮肩上,堅定道:「我們一定會找到月橋,到時便會水落石出。」
三人上了馬,心情很是沉重,便日夜兼程,策馬古道,趕往長安。

到了長安,三人牽馬走進承天門,城門兩旁古槐陰森,只剩香爐碑石,煙火繚繞,回想盛唐景況,頓感桃花依舊,人面全非。唐末黃巢作亂,叛軍放火燒城,至今承天門樑柱上還有被烈火燒過的痕跡,而梁代唐後,又强遷帝京的居民到西京洛陽,千年古都便自此荒廢。今日大宋在舊長安城上設京兆府,住民大都是漢化了胡人,而其中又以曾助唐平定安史之亂的回鶻人為數最多。
三人繫馬槐樹之下,便到處打聽長安大街義寧坊的所在,沒料到一問就問到了,看那個穿着漢服的回鶻人,用一口流利的漢語回答道:「義寧坊麼?就在長安大街西側,你往長安大街一直往西走就是了。」
穆倫三人高興的頷首道謝便轉身牽馬出發,才上了馬,那回鶻人卻又突然問道:「你們去義寧坊幹甚麼呢?」
穆倫三人一時面面相覷,不知如何作答,反而端午爽快地回答,笑道:「那當然是去看古跡啦!難道去賣大包麼?」
原來那個回鶻人是個路邊賣包子的老頭,聽端午這樣說,竟也不生氣,笑笑口道:「是啊!去看看吧!義寧坊有個古大秦寺,兀立風雨中,幾百年不倒,值得一看,值得一看!」說罷,便撫鬚含笑而去。
穆倫與曹鉤鐮對看一眼,都感到此人話中有話,似有弦外之音,一時不知是敵是友,是禍是福,暫也不管,先到義寧坊去吧!出了承天門,拐入古長安大街,兩旁酒肆招旗,秦樓楚館,胡樂笙歌,竟還飄蕩着絲絲遺唐風味,令人不禁發思古之幽情。

三人沿着長安大街往西策騎,越行越見荒蕪,大宋的長安城範圍比起盛唐時期已大大縮小,當年車如流水馬如龍,法流十道,寺滿百城的繁華鼎盛景象已不復再見。穆倫策馬在前,忽焉放緩了馬步,靜心細聽,耳畔傳來陣陣孩童笑語歌聲,歌聲輕快,悅耳動聽,但唱的是回鶻語,穆倫自幼跟隨父親到處游歷,對西域各民族語言也略懂一二,在回鶻還生活了十多年,比大秦語更為熟悉,細聽其中意味,微笑點頭,這時馬兒緩緩停下,三人舉目一看,一棟白石青瓦的建築物就擋在眼前,雖樓簷破落,牆垣斑駁,埋沒在百草當中,隱藏於紅塵煙雨裏,但歷百年戰火無數,仍然兀立不倒。
三人牽馬徐行,走上樓前石階,石階兩旁長滿了紫蘿青藤,樓前蟠繞着朝生夕殞的木槿花,穆倫駐足細看,見圓形寺頂的琉璃青瓦多已剝落,兩扇拱形紅漆大門,亦斧痕斑斑,銅環破裂,穆倫推門而進,裏面斗大寬敞,卻空無一物,圓頂無梁,只有六根滑石圓柱半身藏於牆壁裏,柱上殘留着蓮花和雲彩的文飾,除此之外,只剩沙石、塵土,和從天頂照射下來的斜暉罷了。
穆倫長歎一聲,唏噓不已,心想找得到大秦寺,卻尋不回過往的光輝燦爛,更無片言隻字讓人去追撫這段煙沒了的歷史。端午倒覺得這棟樓房很是奇特,圓形的天頂,中間空出一個大洞,便笑道:「人說屋漏更兼逢夜雨,這個房子那麼結實,卻又偏偏在天頂開個窟窿,不是自相矛盾麼?」
穆倫笑道:「端午,這是傳說中的大秦胡寺,建於大唐盛世,是我教曾興盛於中土的見證。」
端午點點頭,又問道:「那麼,為何現在又這樣荒廢?」
穆倫繼續解釋道:「據我爸爸所說,唐代末年,曾有一次滅法之禍,寺門被廢,僧侶被譴返大秦,我的先祖輩在返鄉途中,遇到吐蕃與回鶻的戰事,關防被鎖,逼於無奈,流落在高昌回鶻,竟一住就住了幾百年,後來吐蕃赞普和回鶻可汗都接納了我教經義,我們才能生存下來,一代接一代,把祖先的經典存留下去,但就只剩下吐蕃文和回鶻文的譯本罷了,所以我爸爸臨終囑咐,要我到中土尋找殘留的漢文譯本,或許可以推動復教大業。」
曹鉤鐮聽到這裏,不禁撫心折服,道:「天馬士大法王不畏艱難,滿腔熱誠,我卻多翻推搪,置其恩情不顧,真枉他稱我為弟兄。」
穆倫見曹鉤鐮如此內疚,正欲出言安慰,端午又問道:「你左一句我教,右一句我教,那這我教到底是甚麼東西嘛?」
穆倫聽此一問,低頭歎氣,頃刻才道:「我教典籍在中土散佚已久,再加禁教二百多年,就算有人知道也無人敢提起,就算現在說出來,恐怕也無人知道是甚麼一回事了。」
曹鉤鐮乍然想起一件事,便問道:「那麼?太皇太后為何看到七彩琉璃杯會重開大秦寺呢?」
穆倫一聽此語,馬上拉着曹鉤鐮的衣袖,壓着嗓門道:「曹叔叔,這事牽涉到太皇太后與我教的密切關係,此時不便明言。」
驟然,耳畔又傳來那兒童歌聲,三人便穿過大殿,走出後庭,但見草色青青,遮空蔽日,一望無際,卻無人跡,那兒童歌聲,又從何而來?
三人舉目張望,忽見草叢當中有人頭攢動,那人才站起身來,竟是承天門那個賣包子的回鶻人,正向穆倫三人微笑,一時又低頭抱起一個小孩,小孩笑容親切,向着他們招手。
穆倫雖覺事有可疑,但深信這個人正是解開謎團的鑰匙,便撥草尋路,往那人方向走去,曹鉤鐮和端午見狀,當也緊隨其後。
三人來到那老者面前,老者竟向他們躬身合十行禮,道:「大秦古寺,荒棄已久,今日得蒙貴客到訪,可否讓我一盡地主之誼,請!」
說罷,領着穆倫三人走進一排樹林,樹林裏竟有一間土地廟,乃土木建築,十分簡陋,進了土地廟,即見土地公公塑像,眉彎臉慈,笑容可掬,身披紅斗篷,座前香火寥寥,那老者領着三人走到塑像後,卷起地上一塊紅地毯,拉開了地板,露出一條甬道,竟然還有個地下室。這時兒童歌聲清晰可聞,那老者便微笑道:「請進!」
三人走到地下室,但見四壁蕭條,泥裏拌着沙石,露出土木架構,室內放有幾張長條木板凳,幾個小孩正圍着一名婦人,搖頭擺腦在歌唱,那婦人年約四十,也是一般胡人相貌,道:「陋室簡破,待慢貴客了。」老者眸光乍閃,對穆倫說:「陋室雖是簡破,但有一物,看了之後,準你不枉此行。」
說罷,婦人就帶着小孩出去,老者便掀開土壁前一塊黑布,三人立刻上前一看,各人無不大驚,尤以穆倫最為震驚。
眼前赫赫,竟是一塊古石碑,高約十來尺,闊約三四尺,石質堅黑發亮,碑額邊緣刻有吉祥雲,下緣有佛教蓮花瓣,中有十字紋,紋飾下三字一行,共三行,寫有『大秦景教流行中國碑』九個大字。
穆倫趨前輕撫石碑,喃喃道:「我教在中土的名稱果然叫做景教。」
那老者點頭道:「自大宋立國以來,禁絕一切夷教,中土縱仍有信徒,也無人敢再提起,景教名稱,只知不說,已成慣例。」
穆倫雖通漢語,但對漢文卻不甚了解,面對石碑上密密麻麻千多個漢字,竟一時眼花繚亂,不知從何念起,轉頭看看曹鉤鐮,道:「曹叔叔,你可以念來聽聽麼?」
曹鉤鐮上前一看,肅立凝神,一字一字的念來,道:「粵若,常然真寂,先先而無元,窅然靈虛……十字以定四方,鼓元風而生二氣,暗空易而天地開,日月運而晝夜作,匠成萬物然立初人……大秦國有上德,曰阿羅本,占青雲而載真經,望風律以馳艱險,貞觀九祀至於長安,帝使宰臣房公玄齡總仗西郊賓迎入內,翻經書殿,問道禁闈……仍崇阿羅本為鎮國大法主,法流十道,國富元休,寺滿百城,家殷景福……白衣景士,今見其人,願刻洪碑,以揚休烈……」
讀到這裏,穆倫深深讚歎道:「法流十道,寺滿百城,原來真有其事。」
曹鉤鐮正要再念,穆倫忽然迫不急待向那老者問道:「不知目下可有紙墨,我能否把拓本帶返回鶻去呢?」
老者正要回答,突然一聲巨響,秘室甬道上蓋喀喇喇像被甚麼東西砸爛,即時木頭碎屑灑滿一地,眾人悚然回首,見一錦衣漢子大搖大擺步下梯階,大笑道:「哈哈哈!你這班反賊,原來是景教餘孽,還想將拓本帶返回鶻去,真個完全沒把大宋律例放在眼裏。」
此人鷹視狼步,盛氣凌人,正是九孔彎刀段魂鈴。四大士衛奉太皇太后之命,秘密跟蹤穆倫一干人由洞庭湖一直來到京兆府,其間又得到官府的通風報訊,一入京兆府,三人已在段魂鈴的監視之下,穆倫等人過於專注在大秦寺和石碑上,對被人監視竟毫不察覺,這時段魂鈴的出現,三人頓感震愕,曹鉤鐮更是又驚又恨,道:「段魂鈴,過往我待你不薄,你為何這樣陰魂不散?定要逼到我走投無路?」
穆倫心想若被此人阻撓,未能取得拓片,實太可惜,便也上前道:「七彩琉璃杯不已送返京師麼?你為何還要跟蹤我們?」
段魂鈴冷笑道:「甚麼琉璃杯,太皇太后口諭,要我一路跟蹤你們,若有異心,就格殺勿論,你還懵然不知。」
穆倫一聽,心裏沉了大半,不知是真是假。
段魂鈴又轉向曹鉤鐮道:「曹鉤鐮,你滿手血腥,信甚麼也沒用了,讓我段魂鈴今日替天行道,送你歸西,免得你再為害人間!」
說着,拔出九孔彎刀,劈頭便向曹鉤鐮砍下去,曹鉤鐮空手接招,急忙推掌,用內力握制段魂鈴肘上三寸,使得他未能盡全力揮砍,可段魂鈴彎刀鈴聲乍響,换了左手揮刀,右手出拳,一長一短,配合得天衣無縫,這招式叫做催魂鬼手奪命刀,並非傳自青龍頭,與曹鉤鐮所學的門路有異,段魂鈴平時也不輕易使出,今日立心要取曹鉤鐮性命才會用。老者見情勢危急,便連忙打開牆上一堵暗門,此暗門想必是為防官兵突擊而造的,他趕緊拉着穆倫和端午,匆匆道:「你們快跟我來,走吧!」
段魂鈴見兩人要從暗門脫身,便撲前阻擋,看來今天他要來個趕盡殺絕,曹鉤鐮從後抓着段魂鈴的臂膀,喝道:「你們還不走!」端午見老爹空手對敵,不知能否勝過惡賊彎刀,一時情急,衝前喊道:「他媽的!爹!你一定要殺了這狗娘養的!」說罷,段魂鈴右手一掌擊向曹鉤鐮,左手彎刀一揮,便狠狠劈向端午,端午凜然怒視,竟還不知閃避,穆倫見狀,倉忙拉她一把,便轉身衝出暗門。
段魂鈴一刀劈不到端午,卻劈在那塊石碑上,十多尺高的石碑巍巍乎,晃了幾下就塌倒,砸毀斗室一面牆壁,正好就是支撐土地廟的基牆,兩人聽到隆隆數聲,土地廟顯然已傾倒一側,壓住一邊地基,泥土轟然滑下。那塊大秦景教石碑雖然倒下,卻絲毫無損,也不見刀痕。曹鉤鐮見段魂鈴稍停不動,便趁機快步衝出暗道,追着端午她們去了。
穆倫與端午穿過狹隘的甬道,衝出了秘室,卻盲頭撞上一人,那人長拂一揮,便向穆倫臉上掃去,穆倫急忙退後,只覺淡淡花香撲鼻,原來這人塵拂中竟藏有迷魂香,穆倫即時感到天旋地轉,便連忙探手封住自己陽白、印堂、迎香和人中四個穴道,阻擋迷魂香流進血液之內,但一時手腳麻痹,竟也動彈不得,那人手拈白毫塵拂,一身道士打扮,就是無言道人,看他嘴角含笑,兩眼一眯,暗道:「此夷女中了我的散人逍遙香,竟不即時昏倒,現在若不將她拿下,還待何時。」便欲上前捕拿穆倫,驟然背後連聲吆喝,無言道人轉身一看,端午正手抱一根大樹幹對着他猛衝過來,怎料這一點武功都不會的小丫頭竟有這般力氣,無言道人一時閃避不及,讓她撞個正着,跌倒地上。站在一旁的白素面和翁長鬚,正拿着從秘道出來的婦人和小孩,見無言道人竟一下就被這丫頭撞倒,便哈哈大笑,翁長鬚還打趣道:「無言老道!你小心這丫頭,聽說她嘴下不饒人。」
說罷,端午便罵道:「死臭道士,狗娘養的不知羞恥,竟用那他媽的迷魂香,下流賤貨,我要你吃不完,兜着走!」說着用盡全力揮動起那根大樹幹。無言道人吃了一記悶棍,又給她如此辱駡,暗暗生恨,一身躍起,躍到那根樹幹上,塵拂一撒,就纏住端午的脖子,她即時喘不過氣,鬆手掉下樹幹,跪倒地上,無言道人凶光一閃,竟暗動殺機,要勒緊塵拂置她於死地,忽的一人從秘道裏飛出,躍到半空,一掌擊向無言道人,無言道人冷然受了一掌,塵拂脫手,滾倒地上,嘴角已滲着鮮血,顛聲道:「你…」
說出他有生以來第一個字,曹鉤鐮舉掌怒道:「你是甚麼道士,竟連不懂武功的小孩也不放過?」
白素面和翁長鬚見曹鉤鐮如此盛怒,眼看一掌就要打死無言道人,便連忙放開手中婦人和小孩,躍前要救那無言道人,可是,此刻穆倫也運氣調息完畢,一身站起擋在兩人前面,三人便交手起來,說時遲,那時快,曹鉤鐮已舉掌擊向無言道人印堂,無言道人即時應聲倒地,與此同時,一聲巨響,眾人驚遽回頭,那搖搖晃晃的土地廟猛地塌毀眼前。曹鉤鐮與穆倫趁機扶起端午飛身躍進樹林逃了。
翁長鬚和白素面回頭再看,人影全渺,只見無言道人倒在地上,眉心、嘴角都滲着鮮血,翁長鬚和白素面搖晃着他的身子,喊道:「老二!老二!」無言道人兩眼翻白,顯然早已氣絕身亡。
翁長鬚和白素面跪在地上,咬牙切齒,悲憤填胸,翁長鬚仰天呼叫道:「曹鉤鐮!你竟殺我義兄,我要你血債血償。」
驟然,瓦礫中傳來喀嚓喀嚓之聲,一個人頭便破瓦躍出,正是段魂鈴。白素面一看是段魂鈴,一則以喜,一則以悲,喊道:「老大!老二給曹鉤鐮那老賊打死了。」
段魂鈴一時走避不及,被埋在瓦礫中,已很氣憤,如今又見義弟無言道人死在仇人曹鉤鐮手上,更是怒火沖天,緊握雙拳,回頭看着土地廟一攤瓦礫,想起若不是那塊石碑擋住去路,就不會讓曹鉤鐮逃脫,義弟也不會死在他手上,視今日之事為奇恥大辱。眼裏閃著仇火,憤然叫道:「命人挖個十尺大洞,把這土地廟連那塊石碑都埋了,我要這碑永不見天日。」說到最後幾個字,更振臂狂號,聲震天宇。
自此大秦景教流行中國碑埋在古長安城西地下五百三十八年,在明天啟三年才被一個農民挖出來,碑石仍然完好無缺,藏於長安金勝寺中,直至清末。

(三)蒲類
曹鉤鐮抱着端午和穆倫衝出樹林,來到一處溪水旁,見端午仍然昏迷不醒,便停下來查探她的氣息,看她氣若游絲,奄奄一息,剛才若不是及早發覺,恐怕今已返魂乏術,曹鉤鐮妻離子散,老來孤清,就只得端午一個養女,斷不能讓她死去,連忙把她扶正,運功衝開她壅塞的氣門,使她回復知覺,過了片刻,端午漸漸蘇醒,張開眼睛便喊道:「爹!」
曹鉤鐮聽她還會喊爹,才鬆一口氣,又馬上愁眉深鎖,乍見穆倫一臉無奈的看着自己,便站起身道:「自隨你父親到回鶻之後,我再沒殺過一人,今日破戒,非不得已,你又何必這樣看我。」說罷便獨自一人走到溪水旁,默坐無語。
穆倫低頭歎氣,端午才道:「像無言道人這種假道士,為非作歹,死有餘辜,穆阿姨,你又何必責備我爹呢?」
穆倫搖搖頭道:「我又憑甚麼責備曹叔叔呢?只是人皆有孽,殺戮越多,罪孽越深,終究自食其果,就算再壞的人,在天尊眼中,一律平等,無人有權取其性命。」
端午聽得大感繆然,站起身道:「這就是說等天來修理他們了吧!到時候恐怕所有好人都死光了,人若不能自保,還可以靠誰呢?我爹不教我武功,以為我就不為武功所害,結果我不是差點死在武功之下,穆阿姨,如果我爹不救我,你那天尊會救我麼?」
穆倫給她一口氣問得無詞以對,只能合十低首歎道:「罪過!罪過!」
端午自幼在弱肉強食的環境中掙扎長大,穆倫這番平等博愛的大道理又豈能體會?
三人暫時不敢回到長安城,就在荒郊野外隨便找了間棄廟度宿。翌日,三人正想折返長安城,卻發現城內外加添了許多官兵,正向進出城門的百姓搜身查問,一不高興,就揮鞭亂打,鎖人扣貨,如狼似虎,穆倫三人明知是那段魂鈴惡賊的所作所為,卻又一時莫他奈何,只是連累無辜百姓,深感不安。穆倫暗想:若不能進城,不如繞道往大夏國去。但想到馬糧被扣,徒步經山路往大夏也不是良策,三人唯有又折返棄廟再作打算。三人潛匿在棄廟,躲躲藏藏一段時間,一天,穆倫聽有飛雁長嘶,知道是若鮮齊曼有傳書回報,馬上一聲哨子,飛雁便俯衝低掠,停在穆倫手上,果然雁爪上繫有傳書,穆倫看了立即回到棄廟報訊,道:「曹叔叔,終於有月橋消息了。」
曹鉤鐮與端午眼睛一亮,迎上前去,穆倫已道:「月橋逃離碧寒宮,不知去向,但相信還是活的,若鮮齊曼正趕回來,助我們離開此地。」
若鮮與齊曼知道穆倫等被困長安城郊,便買了兩匹駱駝,假扮商旅,把三人藏在貨物中,再略施美人計,竟順利把他們偷運出城,才出了安化門,三人又喬裝成胡人混在其他駝隊中,如此小心奕奕,處處留神,才通關過了大夏,與其他駝隊一行十數人緩緩穿越沙漠,度焉枝山,過祁連山,避過碧寒宮的耳目,邁向回鶻。

月橋與千千衣單袖薄,瑟縮於山洞之內,眼前熊熊柴火,自個劈啪在響,忽爾,一陣狂風吹起冷焰殘星,擻滿一洞,月橋連忙把松枝堆在洞口兩旁擋風遮雪,回頭再看千千,見她不痛不癢,只是鎮日無語,懨懨倦懶,月橋想她如此安靜,也不是壞事,就不管她,獨自倚坐岩壁,把連月來獵到的獸皮,用乾腸子縫製起來,竟做了一件短披風,抖起來一看,甚感得意,忽覺洞外陽光刺目,想必是雪後新晴,便推着千千肩膀道:「喂!出去走走吧!」
千千懒洋洋站起,也沒看月橋一眼,月橋把新造的披風覆在她肩上,半推半哄拉着她的手走出了山洞,洞外陽春白雪,鴻泥新爪,月橋驟見山邊一株梅樹,竟已青蕾吐露,在皚皚白雪中我見猶憐,月橋一時興奮,便走到梅樹下,欲攀折一枝,梅枝才折下,回頭一瞥,驚見千千手中拿着血染飄,高高舉起,正要刺向自己胸膛,月橋大駭,本欲飛身撲救,卻發現自己武功輕功全失,千千雖不過身在咫尺,卻有如海角天涯,情急之下,竟卜倒地上,壓斷手中新折的梅枝,眼睜睜看着血染飄就要刺下,兀的噹一聲,血染飄被甚麼暗器擊中,才脫手跌落。
月橋才吐一口氣,見山腰小徑,站着三人,正是穆倫、曹鉤鐮和端午,月橋連忙站起叫道:「穆姑姑!」眾人久別重逢,大感幸甚之時,豈料千千俯身拾起血染飄,竟又企圖自刺,曹鉤鐮馬上躍起,飛身奪她手中匕首,千千瞬眼反手一掃,便往曹鉤鐮咽喉刺去,眾人同聲大叫,幸得曹鉤鐮江湖老練,深諳冷箭之道,迴身一避,鋒刃才斜斜劃過,千千又再刺來,看她兩眼茫然,木無表情,好像看不見人,中了邪一般,曹鉤鐮怕誤傷了她,只得小心閃避,未敢貿然進招,穆倫在旁觀察,暗道:「她定是中了甚麼邪門毒藥,失了理性,要將她制服,不能封她穴道,毒性倒流,反害性命,或可先點她眼部的穴道…」想到此處,見情勢危急,不容細想,便縱身飛躍,與曹鉤鐮前後夾攻,穆倫趁曹鉤鐮推掌打她右肩,震脫血染飄時,便趕緊點她外明、魚腰眼部兩處穴道,令她一時目盲,千千頓覺眼前一片漆黑,便更發狂呼叫,奔走在山坡險徑上,最後竟要合四人之力才把她制服,帶回山洞去。

才回到山洞,千千因為掙扎過度而昏厥,穆倫馬上問道:「她是否吃了七層極樂散?」
月橋點頭稱是,穆倫長歎一聲,又問道:「這丫頭竟捱到第五層無量絕境。」
聽穆倫口氣,好像對七層極樂散十分瞭解,月橋便追問道:「那她為何會如此失常?」
穆倫接道:「七層極樂散最後三層,不痛不癢,卻令中毒之人性情大變,大悲大喜,大嗔大怒,情緒波濤起伏,動不動就萌輕生之念,最後一層,還夢魘連連,有人往往在夢遊之際猝死,此乃最危險關頭,要捱過這一百四十七天,別無他法,只有晝夜不停把她看守,若不然,把她捆綁起來,也是一個辦法。」
聽到又要把千千捆綁起來,月橋即嚷道:「不要,千萬不要把她綁起來,我會把她緊緊看守。」
這時穆倫三人才留意到這洞穴裏殘骸滿布,柴灰飛揚,塵土結霜,如此不堪,兩人竟在這洞中生活了半年,還要每天掙扎於生死存亡之間,不免搖頭歎息,於心不忍。曹鉤鐮見臘月天寒,月橋還是單衣薄履,心裏更是疼惜,便脫下自己的毛皮衣,披在月橋身上,可月橋卻一肩甩開,退避一旁,瞪眼看他,奇道:「你幹甚麼了?」
曹鉤鐮即時一臉赧紅,感到萬分尷尬,回頭看看穆倫,穆倫便笑道:「月橋,你跟千千搬到我們氈包來吧!」
月橋搖搖頭道:「山裏的人看見千千就要打,也不知為甚麼?」
穆倫失聲一笑道:「他們不是要打千千,他們在山中生活了百多年,從未見過漢人,突然看見千千一個漢族姑娘才會有此反應。」
這時端午也搭嘴道:「是啊!穆阿姨跟他們用蒙古語溝通才知道,這些人原是屬於北方一個蒙古部族,因為逃避部族間的互相殺戮,才來到這裏,而他們的遠祖竟是幾百年前在這片草原生活過的甚麼…」
端午說到這裏,便接不上去,穆倫才微笑接道:「蒲類國的遺民。」
端午馬上應道:「是啊!蒲類國的遺民,蒲類就是水和草的意思,這裏曾經是個古戰場,當時可說是屍橫遍野,鬼哭神嚎…」
穆倫見端午說得那麼陶醉,就由她說下去,她停下來,才接道:「你也許沒有留意到這裏到處都是漢唐時候的石碑,記述當年的事蹟…」
穆倫稍頓,端午又接下去:「說到當年,有一段可歌可泣的愛情故事,月橋你一定要聽,當漢人打到這裡來,其中有個漢將的姬妾竟愛上了一個蒲類國的士兵,他們當然沒有終成眷屬…後來…」
穆倫見她短話長說,不知說到何時,便搶先接道:「其實是因為他們以為你倆是那對殉愛情侶的鬼魂才敲鑼打鼓趕走,完全沒有惡意的。」
聽到這裏,月橋才明白為何這些山裏人既要把千千趕走,又送食物來,想想那些食物原來是祭品,偷偷一笑,穆倫又接道:「我已跟他們解釋清楚,你大可放心。」
這時,端午看着山洞外草原上,幾個蒙古哥兒正在搭建一個新氈包,便叫道:「嗯!月橋,他們要為你建新居了,你大可不必擔心與我共處一室,吃虧給我了!」
說罷!穆倫揚聲大笑,曹鉤鐮也笑道:「你這丫頭,是不是女子人家,不害臊麼?」說着瞧瞧月橋,月橋反倒有點靦腆,只是傻傻地站着,回想這段與千千孤軍作戰,同遊地獄的日子,如今眼前這三人桃花笑臉,如沐春風,又仿似置身於人間天堂,再瞧瞧仍然昏迷的千千,不免唏噓。

千千被移到湖畔氈包,躺臥在鋪滿毛氈和羊皮的暖窩裏,穆倫輕輕為她蓋上毛毯,便對端午說:「你要小心把她看緊,稍不對勁,就猛力擊鼓,不要打瞌睡喲!」
端午笑道:「你少囉嗦吧!穆阿姨!她的匕首也讓你沒收了,就算醒來,頂多插我脖子,死不了的。」
穆倫一笑便拉着月橋走到另一個氈包去,月橋才走進氈包,見曹鉤鐮已坐在那裏,還是用那種奇異的眼光在看自己,便問道:「穆姑姑,你們是怎樣找到我們的?」
穆倫答道:「我們回到高昌回鶻其實已有三個月了,一直都沒有你們音訊,不久前我偶然聽得兩個蒙古人在談論山洞裏一男一女,一個漢人,一個大夏人,就立即向他們打聽,後來冒着風雪,跟他們來到這裏,果然不出我所料,那匿藏在山洞裏的人就是你們。」
月橋聽罷,打從心裏感激道:「穆姑姑,你多番救我性命,我恐怕此生不能回報了。」
穆倫和曹鉤鐮聽此一語,不禁愕然,穆倫又問道:「你的毒?」
月橋苦笑道:「早已無礙。」
穆倫眉頭一皺道:「是麼?你剛才明明武功盡失,你還要瞞騙我麼?」說着把月橋拉過來探探他的脈息,然後點點頭,淡然道:「原來九經被封,難怪武功全失,你說毒已無礙,這也不錯,但毒性一旦入了五臟六腑,最終會取你性命,你又知道不知道?」
月橋當然知道,最近胸口不時疼痛,知道時日無多,心裏一直掛念,若然自己一旦死去,千千身中奇毒,一個人怎活得下去!如今見到穆倫,便欲托孤道:「穆姑姑,你可否答應我一件事?」
穆倫早知他所托何事,微笑道:「照顧千千?」見月橋默然不語,便接道:「這我一定會,你放心好了,但你也不能就此輕易放棄。」
聽到這裏,曹鉤鐮再憋不住,搶着道:「月橋,我用內功替你將毒逼出。」
月橋轉頭瞧他一眼,站起來,冷然道:「這位大叔,與我不過萍水相逢,怎能受你這般恩惠?」
曹鉤鐮聽到萍水相逢,不覺一陣難堪,一陣迷惘,看看月橋那張長得和愛林一個模樣的臉,幾乎已認定這就是失散多年的親生兒子,正欲問他身世,但見他態度冷淡,仿似生下來就恨自己,便吞吞吐吐,欲言又止。月橋瞧他再沒話說,轉身掀簾便步出氈包,氈包外,冰湖上,白鷺點點。

(四)十字
跟着的日子,千千的情況十分反複,毒性一發,人就瘋狂,幸好四人日夜輪流看守,大都被安撫下去,穆倫每隔幾天就點她臉上不同穴位,希望可以減緩她對毒性的反應,讓她可以安靜地昏睡。
一天早上,月橋走過山邊那株梅樹下,驟見那天的青蕾已綻放出朵朵紅梅,紅梅藏在皎潔白雪裏,像在告訴月橋,這個冬天將快過去。一陣冷香撲鼻,月橋禁不住又要攀折一枝,拿回氈包,隨便找了個土瓶,供在案頭,心裏在想:千千不是說過她娘親愛穿紅梅衣裳麼?一心在回憶千千講述松狐島時的那種陶醉戀慕,竟沒留意到氈包中原來還有一人,忽聽那人問道:「你喜歡千千姐姐,是麼?」
月橋驀然回身,就見端午倚坐氈包的火撐上,正笑眯眯地看着自己,便雙手交叉胸前,揚眉道:「你這小鬼懂甚麼?」
端午嗤一聲,不屑道:「你若不是喜歡千千姐姐,那為甚麼只送花給她呢?又不曾見你送花給我?」
月橋湊前盯着端午鼻子,厲色道:「你吃了七層極樂散了麼?」
端午擠眉一笑道:「那倒沒有。」
月橋眼簾一垂,才正色道:「千千好像是我唯一的親人。」
端午點點頭,認真道:「哦!原來如此。」眼珠一轉,突地站起又問道:「嗯!月橋,我叫你大哥,好嗎?」
月橋聽罷,動也不動,站在原地,淡淡道:「為甚麼?我跟你非親非故。」
端午昂首冷笑道:「那千千姐姐跟你不更風馬牛屁不相及麼! 她反倒成了你唯一親人,我卻不配叫你一聲大哥?」
月橋聽罷臉色一沉,不想再跟她囉嗦,便轉了話題道:「你好好看守着她吧!我砍了柴就回來接替你。」
才說罷,端午又道:「你上山砍柴一定要看看那對情侶殉情的古泉,我想他們的鬼魂雖然在此不散,心裡其實好想念他們的家人的。」
月橋聽罷,想了片刻,伸手摸摸她的毛頭,正色道:「你突然長大了!」端午讓他一摸,又聽了這句話,竟眼泛淚光,不知如何是好。月橋便大步踏出氈包,可才掀起簾幕,就見曹鉤鐮傻傻的站在氈包外,似已站了很久,月橋瞥他一眼,見他神情甚是落寞,兩眼焦慮地盯着自己,月橋把眸光一晃,大步踏前,與他擦身而過。

月橋拔出雪地上的斧頭,獨個兒往山上去,他明明知道曹鉤鐮一直緊隨在後,卻未有回頭看他一眼,走到半山,站在一棵枯萎了的巨樹前,揮起利斧,便使勁地砍,曹鉤鐮就站在身後一丈許,月橋隱約還聽到他沉重的呼吸聲、歎氣聲,卻又良久不語。月橋發狠地砍着那棵樹,那棵樹早就斧痕鑿鑿,就是不倒,月橋心內一股莫名的怒氣騰升,猛然把斧頭摔入地裏,厚厚的積雪軟如綿絮,這麼重的一把斧頭砍下去,竟無一點聲音,月橋指着曹鉤鐮,怒道:「你…看夠了沒有?」
曹鉤鐮連忙踏前,急道:「月橋,你為甚麼那樣生我的氣,你是不是認得我?」
月橋聽此一說,反倒冷靜下來,道:「這位大叔,我認得你甚麼?你整天這樣盯着人,不覺得難受的麼?」
曹鉤鐮頓感心灰,卻不放棄,心想:難得他今天願意跟我說話,我何不把事情問過明白呢?便低聲問道:「月橋,我可以問你幾個問題麼?」
月橋把頭撇開,沒有回答,曹鉤鐮眉眼一抬,乾脆撇脫道:「只要你老老實實回答我幾個問題,我以後就不再煩你。」
月橋撿起雪地裏的斧頭,又往那砍不倒的巨樹砍下去,才負氣道:「你問吧!」
曹鉤鐮緊緊貼在月橋背後,問道:「你到碧寒宮時有幾歲了?」
月橋利斧往後一揮,差點砍到曹鉤鐮,曹鉤鐮竟也不閃不避,月橋便不客氣道:「嗯!這位大叔,你站我遠一點去,好麼?」
曹鉤鐮連忙賠笑點頭,道:「是的。」便往後移了幾步,月橋即又舉斧砍樹,過了一會,才回答道:「大概四五歲吧!」
曹鉤鐮見他據實回答,心裏歡喜,又問道:「你在那兒跟家人失散的?」
月橋把斧頭放下,呆了半晌,才一字一字地答:「黑風川。」
曹鉤鐮一聽是黑風川,即時熱淚盈眶,搶身走到月橋面前,抖着嗓子,戰戰兢兢地問:「那…你當時身上是否配戴一條羊皮項鏈,穿有一個黑色十字架?」
月橋縱使强裝冷漠,但面對這白髮老人,淚眼模糊一身抖索的站在眼前,竟一時不知如何作答,猶豫了許久,才連忙轉身掩飾道:「沒有,甚麼黑色十字架,我從來就沒見過。」
說畢,匆匆拿起斧頭,便奔往山上去,只剩下曹鉤鐮和那滿布斧痕卻又怎麼砍也砍不斷的枯木,對立於寒風之中。

果然自那天開始,曹鉤鐮就再沒有理會月橋,既沒有常常盯着他,甚至不怎麼跟他說話,那天月橋到氈包接替曹鉤鐮看守千千,曹鉤鐮看月橋進來,只頷首淺笑,便側身閃出了氈包,竟沒抬眼看過月橋,月橋心裏冷瑟瑟的,竟不知是何滋味。
穆倫說今天點了千千的聾穴,她聽不到一點聲音,月橋瞧她安然躺睡,便蹲在她的身旁,驟覺心裏好多話兒要說,便從衣襟裏取出那個大師姐留給他的小錦囊,拿到千千面前,伸指往錦囊裏抽出一條羊皮項鏈,羊皮項鏈繫着兩塊黑色長方形木頭,一塊橫的,一塊縱的,月橋把那塊橫的貫穿那塊縱的,表面看來好像兩塊零丁的木頭,竟就成了一個所謂黑色十字架了。
月橋拿着那黑色十字架在千千眼前晃了幾下,笑道:「你看!黑色十字架,自從我去了碧寒宮就再沒見過它,原來大師姐替我收藏起來,十多年來,我幾乎把它完全忘了,但那天在黑風川的事,我沒有一刻忘記,媽媽被埋在暴沙之中,我只找到她的一隻手,她手中就緊緊攥着這個十字架。」
月橋細看千千沉睡的臉蛋,如此紅潤,微微一笑,隨即又斂眉道:「媽媽死在黑風川裏,都是因為他,千千!我恨他,但他現在不理睬我,我心裏又難受,千千!你甚麼時候才好起來,跟我說說話兒?」
呆看千千一回,見她沒有反應,便把羊皮項鏈掛在胸前,藏在衣襟裏,倚着氈包木杆閉目養神,忽兒,一陣暖流淌過手背,睜眼一看,千千赫然坐在眼前,拉着他的手,笑容燦爛,神采焯然,一手拉着月橋就衝出了氈包,衝出了冰湖,兩人在冰湖上順勢一溜,竟就溜到湖心去,湖心透着藍光的冰塊,與碧空白雲相輝映,霜雪高高堆在一旁,有幾個小孩在砌冰屋,看到千千和月橋突地滾了出來,倒在冰上,孩子們格格地笑,又學他們滾在冰上,滑來溜去,這時端午正與曹鉤鐮在修理牛欄,見月橋和千千在湖心與小孩們玩耍作樂,便呱呱叫跳起來,衝到湖心大叫道:「我也來了!」幾個大孩與小孩便扭作一團,互相牽手,跌跌碰碰,嘻哈大笑,一時歡樂之聲傳遍整個草原。
曹鉤鐮、穆倫和孩子們的爸爸媽媽都站出來,看着他們玩耍,臉上流露着美滿幸福的笑容。
嚴冬仿似過去了,春潮正破浪而來。
忽焉一聲驚呼,眾人笑臉凝住了,但見月橋抱着千千急急忙忙走回氈包,穆倫便知道千千已進入最後緊張關頭,與月橋等人回到氈包,就馬上替她診脈,沉吟一會,嘴角微牽,才道:「好消息是她已通過了第六層西方幻境,壞消息是她已進入最後一層極樂世界,大家用心把她看緊,相信千千一定可以走出極樂,回到人間的。」說罷,穆倫便跪下,握着她冰冷的手,為她禱告,跟着月橋,端午和曹鉤鐮也都跪下,默默為千千勝過這七層苦難而祈禱。

自從進入第七層極樂世界,千千便日夜不停作噩夢,連日來滴水不沾,也不曾進食,月橋和端午伏在床頭,一人抓住她一隻手,只見她輾轉反側,冷汗淋漓,腦袋不停搖晃,口中夢囈咄咄,不時又咬牙磨齒。端午看得眉頭大皺,不禁問道:「千千姐姐到底夢見甚麼妖魔鬼怪,神情如此恐怖?」
忽然,千千竭聲嘶叫,整個人彈了起來,雙眸陷沒,瞪着兩個黑邃的大洞,月橋緊執她的臂彎,顛聲無語。這時穆倫與曹鉤鐮也走進來,穆倫手中拿着一個繡荷包,向月橋道:「你放在她嘴中讓她銜住,免得她咬斷了舌頭。」
月橋連忙照做,把她安撫一番,見她躺下,稍為平靜了點,穆倫又道:「端午、月橋,你們去休息一會!讓我跟曹叔叔看守就好了。」
端午應了一聲就站起,月橋卻沒瞧他們一眼,冷冷道:「不用了,我一個人就好了,你們都回去吧!」
穆倫三人面面相覷,知道沒有人比他更難受,所以也沒有責怪他這樣說,三人靜靜地離開了氈包,留下月橋一人獨自守着千千直至初更。
夜色迷矇,氈包天穹外露出半輪明月,月光傾瀉而入,注滿了整個氈包,月橋伸手把殘燈撚滅,看千千嘴裏銜着繡荷包,不停翻側呻吟,不自覺伏在她手上失聲啜泣,這時穆倫正掀簾進來,月橋連忙擦掉眼淚,低頭無語,穆倫輕輕移坐他身旁,柔聲問道:「你很愛她麼!」
月橋聽此一問,反倒苦笑道:「我不知道。我只知道,每當看她受苦,我就心如刀割。」
穆倫點點頭,才接道:「月橋,你知道這世上有比愛更大的東西麼?」
月橋抬眼一望,氈包裏銀光蕩漾。穆倫便接道:「那就是憐憫,憐憫比愛大,因為那裏面沒有欲望,所以就沒有恐懼,也就沒有痛苦。」
月橋聽罷,轉頭對穆倫微笑道:「穆姑姑,難怪從不見你為甚麼事情愁苦過。」穆倫回報一笑,也就不再說話,斗室頓然一片漆黑,穆倫連忙重點燭火,兩人就一直守到天亮。

(五)團圓
四人衣不解帶,悉心照料,好不容易終於到了第七層第四十九天了,穆倫說:「最後一天,最為重要,稍一不慎,可能前功盡棄,我跟端午看守前六個時辰,月橋和曹叔叔打最後一場仗,看守後六個時辰,你們先回去休息,養精蓄銳,今天晚上,一刻都不能疏忽。」
月橋躺在床上,怎樣都不能入睡,看看天色,快到酉時,便站起走出氈包,曹鉤鐮看他不眠不休,怕他累壞身子,又不敢出言相勸,搖頭長歎一聲,但想到這孩子將來成家立室,娶了千千做媳婦,生了寶寶,曹家後繼有人,便馬上追着月橋走出氈包,可是,才出了氈包,舉目一看,月橋竟伏倒地上,連忙衝前把他扶起,見他臉色蒼白,嘴角衣襟都滲有血跡,不禁大駭,叫道:「月橋!月橋!你醒醒啊!」
叫聲驚動了在千千氈包的穆倫和端午,穆倫心頭一亂,喃喃道:「難道月橋竟在此時毒發?」便衝出氈包,見曹鉤鐮正搖晃着月橋叫喊,穆倫連忙飛身上前執起他的右手,為他診脈後即點了他陽白和人中幾處穴道,月橋才回復知覺,穆倫鬆一口氣,回頭再看,見端午也站在氈包外,兩方遙遙相望,穆倫想所有人都出來了,那誰在看守千千?即慌忙叫道:「端午,千千呢?」端午這才驚覺,掀簾一看,竟就呆住,半晌才喊道:「穆阿姨,不好了,千千姐姐不見了!」
穆倫和曹鉤鐮一時愣住,不知如何是好,方才蘇醒的月橋聽千千不見了,馬上撐着身子站起道:「她定走得不遠,我們快去找她回來。」說罷,抖抖精神便一股勁的奔往山上去。
穆倫拍拍端午的肩膀道:「我們分頭找吧!」
穆倫去東,端午去西,而曹鉤鐮因為掛心月橋傷勢,便跟隨他往山上去。

月橋沿着山徑行走,心裏早就亂如麻絮,也不知道方向,只是摸黑前進,不知不覺走進了樹林,樹林裏月影凋零,樹影陰森,雪霜濕滑,夜寒侵骨,月橋腳步顛浮,不慎一腳踩到一塊春冰,便循着山坡滑了下來,跌倒在山溝裏,月橋掩着疼痛的胸口,竟忽然不想再去尋找千千了,心裏想:如果千千死了,我恐怕也活不長,就算傷心難過,也不用很久。但心念一轉:千千若是死在這裏,那她就永遠不能再回松狐島去了,她這麼愛那個地方,我不能讓她死在這裏。便馬上又有了生機,連忙站起,又爬回了斜坡,順着山徑繼續尋找。
曹鉤鐮跟在後面,盡量不讓他發覺,兩人在樹林裏兜兜轉轉,竟就走了好幾個時辰,卻一點發現都沒有,而且越走越不對勁,好像在原地踏步的,月橋停了下來,歎氣道:「曹叔叔,我們是不是迷路了?」
曹鉤鐮暗驚原來他早就知道自己跟隨在後,便從樹叢裏走出來道:「月橋,我們一定會把千千找回來的。」月橋深情地瞧了曹鉤鐮一眼,才問道:「曹叔叔,如果你永遠也找不到你的兒子,你會怎麼樣?」
曹鉤鐮經此一問,心中凜然,正色道:「那我…希望他快樂地活着。」
月橋聽罷,鄭重地點頭道:「他一定會的。」
驟然一陣冷風吹來,吹開了山邊一條幽徑,幽徑外忽見衣袂翩翩,倩影浮動,赫然就是千千,曹鉤鐮和月橋立刻撥草前去,果然就見千千站在崖邊一塊突出的懸石上,但見她如夢遊般彷彿地站着,腳跟輕浮,搖搖晃晃,甚為驚險。月橋正欲揚聲叫她,即被曹鉤鐮截道:「別喊醒她,你忘了穆倫怎麼說嗎?她若在夢遊之際被喊醒,那她永遠都不會從噩夢中醒來了。」舉頭察看天色,又接道:「時候差不多了,再忍耐一會吧!」
月橋點點頭,暗中慶倖得他及時提醒,兩人便緩步移至她的身旁,躲在附近的石塊後,緊緊地盯着她,一刻也不敢放鬆。
過了不久,天邊漸露曙色,一抹晨光照亮了千千的身影,山風徐徐,吹拂着她長長秀髮,縈繞在臉上,一陣疾風抖開了掛在她腰間的絹帕,月橋眼看那絹帕被風卷起,就要飄走,一時衝動竟想把它抓回來,就飛身騰出,伸手去掠,曹鉤鐮被他突如其來的撲出嚇壞了,馬上衝前抓住他的雙腳,兩人同時卜倒地上,月橋雖一手掠回絹帕,人卻半身飛出了懸崖,若不是曹鉤鐮及時把他抱住,他縱使撿回了絹帕,人也恐怕要掉進斷崖去了。
曹鉤鐮見他竟是如此癡心,又驚又惱,還未回過氣來,千千就軟軟的倒在地上,不知她是好了還是壞了,這時穆倫和端午也尋到這兒來,穆倫連忙扶起千千,探她鼻息,又聼她脈搏,然後微笑道:「好了,她終於回來了。」
月橋手執那條絹帕,正要上前好好看她一眼,卻突然屈身吐血,就昏厥過去,穆倫深深歎氣道:「唉!真是苦命鴛鴦。」
曹鉤鐮背着月橋,穆倫背着千千,和端午一同尋路下山回到氈包去,穆倫不禁舒氣道:「天尊保佑,但願最壞的都已經過去。」

穆倫把千千安置好,想她也要休養一段日子才會完全康復,見有端午陪伴照顧,便又過來這邊氈包看看月橋,見他還是不省人事,又歎氣道:「怎麼一個才好了,一個又壞了。」
曹鉤鐮正在盤膝打坐運功,見穆倫進來,便提氣道:「穆倫,我要運功替月橋逼毒,若是可以,我想同時打通他被封死的奇經八脈,但是,這樣做會耗費大量真氣,也費時甚久,而我…其實也沒有把握。」一頓,低頭思量半晌,又看看月橋,便義無反顧地接道:「穆倫,妙音天君內功深不可測,他親手封死的穴道,天下間恐怕無人能解,但月橋命繫一線,沒有把握,我也要一試,其間若有任何差遲,穆倫,你要答應我,以月橋生死為重。」
穆倫老老實實把他要說的話聽完,完全明白他的意思,冷靜地點頭道:「好!曹叔叔,我答應你。」然後把月橋扶起,用銀針揉一下他額前幾處穴道,回復他一點知覺,見他眼皮稍微掀起,便在他耳邊輕聲道:「月橋,曹叔叔現在要運功替你逼毒,你要忍耐住。」見他又把眼皮蓋上,也不知他聽到沒有。曹鉤鐮雙膝盤踞,正襟閉目,兩臂高舉,一提起,雙掌往丹田一壓,半空擺一個雲手式,雙掌對合,又再提氣,把畢生真氣聚於丹田,丹田內聚之氣頓時化為雲煙,嫋嫋上升,發而為雨,但見曹鉤鐮清汗涔涔,驟然雙掌往前一推,便打在月橋背上,月橋頹萎的身驅馬上挺直,一股暖暖真氣才緩緩輸入,月橋蒼白的臉即回復了一點血色,穆倫雙拳緊握,坐在一旁,口中念念有詞,想必是在為他倆禱告吧!
不知不覺,曹鉤鐮屏氣運功竟有一個時辰了,穆倫瞧他雙目緊閉,雙唇發抖,氣色已見疲憊,突地,見他反手一收,高舉半空,長呼一聲,然後兩手交叉上下一翻,挺一挺丹田,口中竟吐出白蒙蒙一縷真煙,兩掌一合,便又往月橋背上打去,可是,這一掌打下去,還未完全貼身,便被月橋體內一股勁力反彈開來,曹鉤鐮即時磐石倒退,震開了丈許,曹鉤鐮眼睛一睜,竟就吐了口血,雙掌不停抖震,神情甚是恐慌。穆倫大驚,叫道:「曹叔叔,不要勉強!」
曹鉤鐮一時淚眼潸然,看着月橋又倒下去,想自己耗盡一生真氣還是不能救他,顛危危的走到月橋身邊,穆倫邊參扶着曹鉤鐮,邊讓月橋躺身下來,忽的一條羊皮項鏈就從月橋衣襟裏滑了出來,正正就掛着一個黑色十字架,曹鉤鐮連忙拿起一看,翻到十字架的底部再看,果然還刻有一個小十字,不錯就是班迪當年所繫帶的黑色十字架。曹鉤鐮頓時百感交雜,茫然跌坐地上,看着月橋,點頭微笑道:「果然是我的孩子。」

千千與月橋各自躺臥一個氈包裏,不知又過了多少時日,才漸漸回復知覺。這天早上,月橋矍然睜眼,便覺精神爽利,馬上站起,就看見穆姑姑,月橋摸摸自己身子,奇道:「我怎麼還未死?」
穆倫笑道:「曹叔叔把畢生真氣都輸給你了,你才能活下來,但是,你若想好好的繼續活下去,總得想個法子解開你被封死的奇經八脈,對麼?」
月橋伸伸懶腰,打個呵欠,才道:「現在還活着不是已經很好了麼?」
穆倫歎氣道:「真不明白你這小子怎麼想的,千千現在好了,難道你不想跟她永遠在一起麼?」
聽穆倫提起千千,月橋竟一時愣住,穆倫又接道:「這世上唯一能替你解封九經的人就是妙音天君,我跟曹叔叔打算到碧寒宮走一趟,也許…」
月橋還沒待她說完,便狂笑起來道:「穆姑姑,別傻了,妙音天君是個怎麼樣的人,我最清楚,你們這樣去,只會白白多送兩條人命。」
穆倫還想勸他,月橋卻一口拒絕道:「好了,別再說了,我今天心情大好,不要再提這些事,好嗎?」說到最後好嗎兩個字,語氣才緩和下來。轉身見床頭端端正正放了一件衣服,便問道:「嗯!這是甚麼東西?」
穆倫見他對自己生死大事毫不緊張,反倒關心起一件衣服來,不得好氣,只有笑道:「這是族長阿爸送來的皮襖,你跟千千都有一件,他知道你們都勝過惡魔,死裏逃生,今天晚上還在營地設宴,要好好款待你們呢!」
月橋拿起那皮襖一看,果然是新簇簇,暖烘烘,擁在懷裏很是高興,連忙把它穿起來,襟口還未翻好,便急着問穆倫道:「穆姑姑,好不好看!」心裏想:千千也有一件,她穿起來,不曉得會是個甚麼模樣?
正想着,曹鉤鐮便掀簾跨檻進來,邊走邊笑道:「是麼?那我真的要去松狐島見識見識。」
月橋抬眼一看,見跟着曹鉤鐮進來的就是千千,她身穿一件簇新的雪白皮襖,襟領和袖口都繡有傳統回紋圖案,長袍及地,腰束黃緞帶,看這丫頭烏溜溜的腦後還垂下兩條麻繩般粗的長辮子,兩頰紅暈,圓嘟嘟的像個娃兒,月橋看得傻呼呼的,心裏想:這丫頭長肉長得還蠻快的嘛!
看千千明豔照人,欠身向穆姑姑行了禮,才轉過頭來看看月橋,月橋還未接觸到她的眼神,便連忙上前笑道:「哇!你今天終於像個人模樣了。」
穆倫和曹鉤鐮聽月橋這樣調笑千千,不禁揚首哈哈地笑起來,看千千假意鼓着腮兒,但眼珠子靈靈活活,瞧着月橋,只笑不語。
這時端午也衝進了氈包,眾人看她手裏捧着一個木盤子,盤子上放了幾個茶杯,還冒着茶煙,茶香撲鼻,令人神清氣朗。端午搶着說:「千千姐姐,你現在好起來了,是不是應該謝謝我爹跟穆阿姨呢?要你斟茶叩頭也不為過吧!」
端午這樣說無非是為了償還曹鉤鐮一直想喝千千一杯兒媳婦茶的心頭願,而且也想暗中撮合月橋和千千兩人的好事,真是人細鬼大,心思一籮筐。
曹鉤鐮和穆倫聽端午如此說,都在互相推讓,而千千明知端午這樣做是別有用心,但細想自己這條小命也的確是他們撿回來的,向恩公奉茶叩首也是應該的,便欣然拈起茶杯子,嘴含淺笑走到曹鉤鐮面前,曹鉤鐮馬上笑得合不攏嘴,端午連忙道:「爹!你快坐下來吧!」
曹鉤鐮呵呵大笑便盤膝坐在毛氈上,見千千果真就跪下叩頭奉茶道:「曹叔叔,救命之恩,無以為報,就請喝了我這杯粗茶吧!」
曹鉤鐮接過茶杯,輕輕啜了一口,心滿意足地點頭,笑道:「快起來!」
雖然這杯不是兒媳婦茶,但也喝得甜入心頭,抬眼望望月橋,但見他雙手交叉胸前,皺着眉,歪着嘴,表情很是古怪。
千千起來又向穆姑姑奉了茶,穆姑姑只站着受了,喝了茶,微妙地笑道:「還有呢?」
千千看木盤上還有一杯茶,就知道穆姑姑的意思,便又拈起那杯茶轉向月橋,恭恭敬敬地含笑道:「月橋,這杯茶我敬你。」
月橋眼珠一轉,站着不動,端午便取笑道:「嗯!月橋,你怕甚麼?又不是合巹酒?」話未說完,月橋早已滿臉通紅,看看眼前這手捧清茶的千千,一副溫柔端莊的小媳婦模樣,這是連做夢也不曾想過,回想這段日子怎樣與她相依為命,共度患難,心裏竟亂七雜八,甜酸苦辣霎時擁上心頭,兩眼一陣迷煙,便假意生氣道:「你…怎麼也跟他們一起胡鬧!」說畢,一摔袖子,便溜出了氈包,眾人見他竟像個女兒家的羞答答,便大笑起來。千千回看穆倫和端午他們,覺得都好像是自己家裏人一樣,反倒不覺害羞,胸中坦蕩蕩,只想他們快樂。

(六)懺悔
沒想到月橋這一出去竟就去了大半天,眾人都在等他,等到傍晚,才見他施施然的走回來,千千一看他這模樣便生氣,匆匆上前,帶點責備的口吻道:「你一溜煙的就溜了大半天,你有沒有想過別人的感受?」
月橋慣了自來自往,那會想到忽然之間有那麼多人掛心自己,便老老實實道:「那倒是真的沒有。」千千心頭好氣,暗道:此人竟馬上就回復了本來面目,難道他定要看着人受苦,才會好好的對人麼?月橋看她只是傻傻的盯着人,又不說話,便舉頭看看大家,笑道:「是我不好,讓你們等我了。」見眾人都還是站着不動,便又奇道:「那…還不走?」
族長的僕人已經久候多時了,便笑笑口,躬身帶路。穆倫和曹鉤鐮見已耽誤了不少時候,也不再囉嗦,一個搖頭,一個歎息便馬上跟着那僕人走。
端午上前攬着千千的肩膀,兩人竊竊私語,小聲說,大聲笑,一身便搶在月橋前面,月橋給擠在後頭,心裏卻回蕩着一種從來不曾有過的充實感,默默看着這幾人的身影,嘴角浮着淺笑,暗暗道:「這是爸爸,這是妹妹,穆姑姑…」數到千千,不禁踟躕…「這是…這是…」想了很久還是說不出來,忽兒哈一聲笑道:「傻瓜頭!」
族長看見穆倫他們來了,甚是高興,一手拉着穆倫和曹鉤鐮坐在上賓席,媽媽們馬上哄着穆倫說話,族長又趨前看看月橋和千千,拍拍他們的手,擁擁他們的肩,大笑幾聲,跟穆倫說了一大堆蒙古語,穆倫才示意他們與族長的孫兒孫女們坐在一起,說罷,三數年輕哥兒便拉着月橋坐在他們那裏,幾個姑娘也拉着千千和端午坐在她們中間,他們才一坐定,音樂又揚起,有的拉三弦,有的彈胡琴,有的吹笛子,有的打皮鼓,樂韻爽朗豪邁,自然奔放,席中男女連忙拉着手,圍着火堆,翩翩起舞,舉手投足之間,盡顯草原兒女那片廣闊熱情的心胸。
月橋和千千各在一隅,隔着野火烈焰和舞者長袖凝視着對方,良久未有動靜,曹鉤鐮坐在穆倫身旁,卻又聽不懂她們的對話,便把主意力轉回月橋和千千身上,想今天喝了千千一杯茶,她若不是對月橋有意,漢族女子,怎樣說也不會如此不知自重,但兩人相隔那麼遠,要等到何時才喝到一杯真正的兒媳婦茶?想到這裏,便揮手叫端午過來,端午看老爹神情有異,便偷偷走到他身邊蹲下,曹鉤鐮往她耳朵裏說了幾句話,端午裂嘴一笑,連連點頭,然後一骨碌便溜開了。曹鉤鐮看端午走了,按不住臉上的笑意,暗想道:「就趁今夜那麼熱鬧,替他們倆定了這頭親事,那我就算死,也死得安心。」

過了許久,端午還未有回來,族長的孫兒孫女正分別簇擁着月橋和千千走到火篝旁,拉着他倆的手隨着樂韻起舞,千千表情有點靦腆,暗想:叫我舞刀弄劍還可以,在人前手舞足蹈的不像個大傻瓜麼?才這麼想,見月橋那大傻瓜竟就翻手摔頭,抬腰擺腿與那些哥兒們長袖翩翩,陶醉在樂韻當中,千千禁不住笑彎了腰,隨着姐妹們的推擁,千千也不自覺地擺起手來跳起舞。
曹鉤鐮看兩人混在這群哥兒姐兒當中歡欣歌舞,心中暗想:能夠找回班迪,總算對得起愛林。又過一回,奇怪端午這丫頭怎麼去了那麼久還不回來,不覺四處張望,還不見人影,便站起身來,偷偷溜回氈包去找她。
曹鉤鐮獨自沿着蒲類湖邊走,營地的樂聲漸漸沉寂下來,六月天時,深夜走在曠野上,也沒有寒意,回到氈包,怎麼烏燈黑火?端午這丫頭跑那兒去呢?翻簾一看,氈包裏也沒人!曹鉤鐮喊了兩聲:「端午!端午!」驟然,他的江湖經驗告訴他,大事不好了!
果然,腳尖突地踢到甚麼東西,昏暗中看來像一隻鞋子,俯身撿來細看,竟是端午的牛皮鞋,心中一陣悸動,舉目張望,山坡樹叢裏驀然有黑影閃過,曹鉤鐮不假思索便飛身追去,追進樹叢,翻上山坡,又撿到端午另一隻鞋子,心中暗忖:這是誘敵之計,端午一定是落入歹徒手中。
山坡上除了風吹林葉,沙沙作響外,並無一點兒動靜,暗恨道:「此人鬼鬼祟祟,並非英雄好漢,我平生最討厭這種鼠輩,哼!怕他甚麼?」便大步踏出樹林,走進山坳裏,赫見山坳淙淙流水之上,一個黑影左手按住端午,右手捂着她的嘴巴,站在那裏動也不動,曹鉤鐮見端午被挾持,憤然飛躍便欲搶救,半空中猛地躥出兩團黑影,一個鷹爪往曹鉤鐮肩頭一掠,一個拋出赤鬚繩纏他脖子,曹鉤鐮左手一扭,搭在那鷹爪之上,兩人空中互瞪一眼,果然就是那卑鄙狡猾的段魂鈴,翻手一推,段魂鈴才閃開,翁長鬚的赤鬚繩便繞到脖子來,曹鉤鐮右手才扯着赤鬚繩,翁長鬚便在他頭頂來回翻騰數圈,霎那便把他脖子緊緊纏住,這赤鬚繩乃是用大理國的赤蠶所吐的赤絲製成,柔韌無比,曹鉤鐮怎麼扯也扯不斷,暗歎道:「如果我不是內力耗盡,這區區赤鬚繩綁得住我麼?」
段魂鈴看他與那赤鬚繩拉扯許久,心中正奇道:「以這老賊的內力,這赤鬚繩怎可不斷?難道…」
想到這裏,段魂鈴眼皮一縮,便飛身蹬腿踢他背脊,見曹鉤鐮卜倒地上,還意猶未盡,又再擊他數掌,看他全無還手之力,才停下來,漠然負手看着他强撐身子坐起,一手抓住赤鬚繩,一手掠前放於丹田上,正要運功,豈料一提氣,竟就噴血。段魂鈴見狀即時大笑道:「曹鉤鐮!你怎麼竟耗盡內力?原來我費那麼多心思都是多餘的,老二的散人逍遙香也用不着了,看來今夜你若不死在我姓段的手中,我就跟你姓曹。」話畢!皮笑肉不笑的抽了幾聲,便拔出彎刀,指向曹鉤鐮,正要砍下去,曹鉤鐮突地舉目厲厲地瞪他一眼,沉聲道:「你的下場也不會比我好多少。」
段魂鈴聽此一語,臉色驟變,兩眼空洞,無半點情感,隨手一掃,九個鈴環叮叮響了幾聲,唰!刀鋒便滑了下來,斜斜從曹鉤鐮的前額劃到左胸,刹那,他就倒了下去。
段魂鈴把彎刀掛回腰間,頭也不回就走了,翁長鬚見曹鉤鐮死得那麼痛快,便收起赤鬚繩,此時白素面也放了端午,跟段魂鈴、翁長鬚三人走在一起,都不說話,但往樹林那方向走去。
營地裏依然野火紅紅,清風陣陣,月橋見端午和曹鉤鐮先後都離開了營地,去了那麼久還不見回頭,隱隱感到異樣,便甩了哥兒們的手,回氈包去看,千千看連月橋也離開了,也即躥出人群,跟隨在後,見月橋步履越走越急,暗暗也有不祥預兆,才回到氈包,月橋正從氈包裏揭簾而出,看他舉目四顧,眼神甚是慌張。
隨着山風,冷然傳來一串清脆的鈴聲,千千眉宇一掀,就想起一個人來,還來不及說話,山裏又傳來一聲哭叫,竟是端午,千千與月橋便發足狂奔往樹叢裏去。
奔走了一回,千千便施展身法,瞬間飛出樹叢,翻上山坡,驚見端午伏在一人身上啕哭,眼前不遠三條黑影正揚長而去,千千腳跟一蹬,施展筋斗雲蹤腳,數個翻騰便越過三人,擋在前頭,一看竟真是段魂鈴那三個惡賊,便叱喝道:「曹叔叔與你們何怨何仇,為何定要置他於死地?」
段魂鈴橫眉冷笑,道:「哼!憑你這丫頭,也配問我這問題麼?」
千千明知不是這三人對手,也不能就白白讓他們逃之夭夭,從袖中滑出血染飄,便先往白素面劃過去,白素面鐵筆一揮,格開一招,一招又來,招招不斷,出手甚速,白素面鐵筆鐵扇同時格擋,也有點兒招駕不住,便怒道:「你這丫頭凶甚麼?我們今夜是為報殺義兄之仇而來,殺人填命,天公地道。」
說到這裏,段魂鈴突然出手拆開他們,捉住千千握刀的右腕,用力一扭,千千一時痛得差點跪下,但血染飄還是握得緊緊,死不放手,段魂鈴看着血染飄銀光燦燦,眼神不覺柔和下來,放了千千右手,推掌打她左肩,勁度也不重,千千彈退了幾步,段魂鈴便厲聲道:「今天我不跟你計較,下遭若是再讓我看到你,就別怪我心狠手辣。」
語罷,三人縱身一躍,便飛出了樹林,如流星跌入黑夜般。
月橋拼命狂奔,終於翻上了山坡,端午的哭聲越是清晰,就越是凄委,顯然已成了啜泣,月橋狠狠地喘氣,一步一步走到端午身旁,果然看見曹鉤鐮仰面躺身草地上,兩臂張開,雙目緊閉,從眉到心一條長長血痕,清晰可見,血跡卻早已凝固。月橋跪倒地上,全身顛慄,卻哭不出聲,衣襟裏的黑色十字架晃了出來,在他胸前擺來擺去。端午漸漸停了哭泣,兩人守住他的屍身,遽然如在夢寤。

翌日,穆倫按景教儀式為曹鉤鐮做了一場簡單的法事,族長命僕人送來兩張簇新的毛氈,把曹鉤鐮的屍體包裹好,埋在草原凍土裏,月橋一鏟子,一鏟子把泥土往墓穴裏翻,千千拿着血染飄在石碑上刻上先考曹公鉤鐮之墓,端午在旁看着,提點道:「我爹是姑蘇吳縣人士。」千千便在石碑旁又刻上姑蘇吳縣四個字,看看覺得還是太簡單了一點,便再刻上卒年大宋元祐二年,刻完舉頭看看端午,端午才黯然道:「生年不詳。」千千聽了生年不詳,眼圈一紅,竟就再刻不下去了。
此時曹叔叔的墓穴裏已填滿了泥土,月橋伸手取了千千懷中碑石,端端正正的立在墳頭,然後三人並肩在墳前跪下叩首,叩首完畢,月橋才問道:「他…有沒有話留下?」
端午肯定道:「有。」然後一口氣憤然道:「他說我一生多行不義,這是遲早的事,你們不用為我報仇,我知道我要去那裏。」
端午說罷,一眶熱淚,汍汍落下。月橋聽了,站起身來,恍恍惚惚也不知要往哪兒去。千千這時才看到墳頭後,零星散佈了許多漢唐時候的殘碑,伴着曹叔叔,心裏暗願:「希望曹叔叔在九泉之下,不會太寂寞吧!」
微風輕拂,湖畔葦浪起伏,突然,地裏發出轟轟響聲,如內藏千軍萬馬,眾人颼然站起,面面相覷,豎起耳朵,留神聽着,山谷裏便衝出一匹快馬,疾馳掠過草原,馬上騎士一身戎裝,手執高昌回鶻旗幟,伏身策騎,勒馬停在族長營前,連忙遞上一封書函,族長讀後,立刻與家眷上前躬身俯伏,此時,車轔轔,馬蕭蕭,一列馬車隊便從山谷悠然邁進,兩名回鶻將令走在前頭,數名漢人,文官打扮,坐在紗輦隨後,跟着數十名武官,皆正襟巍然,策騎於駿馬上,護着中間一大隊人馬,前面百人騎馬,後面百人徒步,盡是身披雪白斗篷,黯然低首,搖晃飄忽。眾人還在驚怪,這些人如斯陣勢,到底所爲何來?穆倫卻驟然撲身衝前,喊道:「八大助法?」
眾人聽穆倫一聲喊叫,才留意到走在前頭的幾名白袍騎士,正向穆倫舉目眺望,赫然就是在洞庭湖助穆倫奪回七彩琉璃杯的八大助法,他們不是返京去了麼?又怎會與這隊人馬出現在蒲類草原之上呢?穆倫瞥見八大助法臉上那倉皇的神色,已猜中八九,心裏一沉,卻不驚懼,舉掌合十,低頭不語,沒想到八大助法和他們身後的百多名白袍景士,都同時屈身合十,向穆倫還禮,一時氣氛如此悲涼肅穆,令人屏氣凝神。千千、端午、月橋都站在一旁,不敢移動半步。
大隊車馬終於全數邁進了草原,停在蒲類湖畔,其中坐在紗輦裏的一名漢人文官,手捧一卷錦軸,在幾名回鶻武官帶領下走到穆倫面前,穆倫謹慎地低首合十,那文官橫眉豎目,看了穆倫一眼,便打開手中卷軸,朗聲道:「你就是穆大法王吧!請你立即領眾景僧下跪接旨。」
說罷,眾白衣景僧已列站穆倫身後,竟有二百多人,穆倫領他們俯身下跪,那漢人文官便揚聲頌讀聖旨,道:「奉天乘運,太皇太后昭曰,君子大居正,王者大一統,正者所以正天下之不正,統者所以統天下之不一。重開大秦寺,引夷教以亂法綱,此乃居天下於不正,合天下於不一,禮失於野,道浮於海,不容於道統綱常。故特遣使送還聖物七彩琉璃杯,贈良馬百匹並景士白袍,敕令匿藏於京白衣社內,景僧二百二十七人,還天山以西,去秦塞之遠,歸九夷於四方,棄祖廟於中土,奉詔執行,不得有誤,欽此。」
聖旨讀罷,穆倫便領眾景僧齊聲喊道:「謝太皇太后隆恩。」
穆倫剛站起來,那文官便雙手躬身交上聖旨,又奉還七彩琉璃杯,才道:「本官乃大宋主客司郎中張福壽,與四方館同僚,奉命護送景教僧侶一行人西出天山,本官設營於蒲類湖北,穆大法王若有任何需要,大可過營相議,本官定當盡力效勞。」說罷,輕輕歎了口氣才接道:「三日之後,穆大法王可否成行?」
穆倫手捧七彩琉璃杯,淡然道:「那有勞張大人了。」
張福壽頷首淺笑,便領着眾文武官到湖北紮營,一時,草原上,人呼馬擁,轆轆車痕,處處帳棚,星星野火,人頭攢動,好不熱鬧。

千千見眾人散去,便回頭尋找月橋蹤影,舉目四處張望,也搜不到他的影兒,心裏正自嘀咕,忽見一人躥進了樹林,便施展身法,瞬間移到林邊,見月橋索索然一人走在幽徑上,便翻身躍到他面前,才一着地,月橋便瞪眼怒道:「你很行吧!輕功了得,也不用在我面前耍。」
千千這才想到他已武功全失,實在不應在他面前施展身法,正欲上前拍拍他的肩,安慰他,卻讓他振臂一擋,喝道:「別碰我!」千千登時縮手,停在半空中,兩眼水靈靈,一臉無辜的表情盯着他,月橋讓她盯得難受,唯有低頭歎息,再抬頭時,便揚眉朗笑道:「一齊走吧!」
兩人慢步幽徑上,經過那株紅梅樹,紅梅樹早已長出青蔥綠葉,又路過那個匿藏了半年的山洞,山洞裏殘骨灰燼,狼藉不堪,千千皺起了眉頭,還感到有點嘔心,月橋見狀,連忙說:「那不要看了。」便拉着她走進了樹林,不知不覺走到懸崖邊那塊懸石上去。兩人並肩坐在石上,對望一屏青峰,掛着兩串泠泠瀑布,涓涓流水瀉到溪谷裏去。
月橋這才問道:「他…我爸爸是壞人麼?他為甚麼臨死前也要這樣說他自己呢?」
千千知道曹叔叔的猝死對他打擊很大,心頭定有很多疑問,便謹慎地答,道:「曹叔叔當然不是壞人,不過,有時好人也會做了些壞事。」
月橋又像孩子般的問道:「他做了那些壞事?」
千千聽聞過曹鉤鐮在青龍幫的事蹟,雖略帶猶豫,也據實回答:「…他曾經殺過一些無辜的人。」月橋沉吟一會,冷然道:「那我也不是好人。」
千千乍然抬眼看着月橋,心裏想:如果他也不是好人,那世間再沒有好人了。但只笑而不語,月橋又接道:「我十三歲就跟隨三師兄替師父辦事,所謂辦事就是對付師父的仇家,殺死那些得罪師父的人,那些人當中總有些是無辜的吧!記得我殺的第一個人是個滿臉鬍子的突厥人,那還不覺得怎樣,但有時師父要我們殺一些手無寸鐵的婦孺,我三師兄總是把那些惡形惡相的留給我,他就一手包辦那些窩囊事,有一次,我在對付一個臉上有刀疤的漢子,三師兄就追殺他四個老婆和八個子女,看他一劍一個,眨眼間就把她們全殺清光,那天,我好生我三師兄的氣,幾天沒跟他說話。三師兄說,就算我不殺他們,師父也會找別人去殺,若是落在風橋、雷橋手上,恐怕會死得更慘。」
月橋停下来看看千千的神色,才又接道:「每當殺人之後,我跟三師兄就到葡萄溝去找大姑娘…」
說到這裏,千千陡然睁眼盯着月橋,臉上一股不可置信的表情,月橋偷嘴一笑,便更正道:「是…我…三師兄去葡萄溝找大姑娘,而我就跟那些姐姐們猜拳、拚酒,誰輸了就脫… 」說到這裏又故意停下來,偷看千千表情,見她鼓大眼睛,留心在聽,月橋才神神秘秘地接道:「脫…襪子,搔對方的腳板底。」話未說完,千千便格格地仰天大笑,月橋逗得她那麼樂,自己反倒愁懷滿載,凝住了笑容,眼泛淚光,千千瞧他如此神傷,便即收起了笑意,正色道:「月橋,你跟我回松狐島去吧!我爹他武功蓋世,說不定他老人家可以幫你打通妙音天君所封的穴道呢?」
月橋聽罷,對千千這翻心意很是感激,卻決然道:「你怎麼跟穆姑姑一樣天真,任島主又怎肯耗費畢生精力救妙音天君的弟子呢?」
千千也真的跟穆倫一樣,不放棄道:「還未試過,你又怎知他不肯呢?」
月橋心中一凜,他很清楚,雖武功全失,但傲骨猶存,不過怎麼說呢?她們都不會明白,便故意胡扯道:「我萬水千山跟你回松狐島,也是不知他肯不肯,我倒不如西出天山,也許會碰上一兩個世外高人,神醫聖醫之類,救我小命一條,還用跑那麼遠?」
千千聽他說罷,覺得這也不失為絕望中的一點希望,因為她瞭解父親的性格,他素來不管江湖中的恩怨情仇,他是絕不肯牽涉入妙音天君的師徒恩怨當中。便點頭笑道:「那也好!我們就跟穆姑姑一起西出天山,也許真的會遇到甚麼世外高人呢?」
千千這一派天真,月橋又感激,又生氣,一身站起,不得好氣道:「誰跟你我們一起?你…」千千也站起,肅然看着月橋,看他還要胡說些甚麼。
月橋便道:「你回松狐島去。」
千千盯着月橋,明知他這樣說全是為自己好,但想到一個去東,一個去西,怎忍分離,一時竟已淚眼盈眶,月橋馬上收起凌厲目光,低下頭去,伸手進衣襟取出那條絹帕,側身還給千千,道:「這東西我早就想還你。」
千千一看竟是那條絹帕,她以為早就掉失,此時拿在手上,只覺冷澀,沒甚麼味兒,道:「掉了就算了,你又何必替我撿回來呢?」
月橋苦笑道:「你把它看得比命還重要,怎可算呢?以後不要再掉了,我可不能整天跟着你屁股,替你撿這個撿那個。」說罷,轉身就走,才沒走幾步,便聽千千朗聲呼喚:「月橋!」
月橋無奈回頭,見千千手拈那絹帕高舉風中,才鬆手,絹帕隨風飆前,正好從他鬢邊拂過,便落到身後懸崖去了。
深山崖壁,暮靄岑寂,月橋見千千笑靨燦然,立於風中,即時滿腔熱情湧上心頭,大步踏前一手便把她攬入懷裏,良久良久才平靜下來。月橋終於鬆開了手,輕輕抓住她的肩膀,兩人深情對望的瞬間,他一開口竟還是那句:「你回松狐島去吧!」
說完,便轉身離去,千千眸光閃動,看着他的背影,跟隨他的腳步,心裏溫存猶在,冷風卻夾在兩人之間,相隔幾尺,一同下了山來。

(七)歸依
穆倫在張大人的營房裏相議二百多名景僧西出天山的事宜,直至深夜,才踏着疲憊的步伐,沿湖信步走回氈包,途中見湖底殘月黯淡,風吹漣漪,化作一抹霞光,穆倫彷彿看見父親天馬士的容貌,他慈祥地微笑:「穆倫,不用怕!你繼續去吧!天尊在你右邊,我在你左邊啊!」
穆倫心裏一陣激蕩,低頭合十,對前路又充滿了希望,不再流連,便急步回到氈包去。
才回到氈包,月橋竟站在氈包外踱來踱去,看見穆倫回來,便拉着她道:「穆姑姑,我有事要跟你商量。」
穆姑姑站在氈包前問道:「甚麼事那麼要緊,不能等到明天麼?」
月橋急切地點頭道:「是!不能等,穆姑姑,你帶我一起出天山吧!」
穆倫先微笑,後正色道:「你不是景教中人,我不能帶你一齊走,你還是跟千千和端午回中土去吧!」語畢,正欲掀簾跨檻入內,月橋又道:「那我做了景僧不就行了嗎?」
穆倫聽此一語,更不知是好氣還是好笑,回頭肅然看着月橋道:「你若是為了逃避你人生的抉擇而出家當景僧,我是絕不會依你的。」說完,月橋便正色道:「我不是為了逃避,出家是我從來的心願。」
穆倫禁不住回頭細心打量他一眼,才微笑道:「我累透了,明兒再談好麼?」
月橋見穆姑姑也真的一臉倦容,就不再勉強,一字道:「好!」便走了。
穆倫迷迷糊糊也不怎麼睡得好,不到幾個時辰便醒來,忙忙洗了臉,便趕着去與八大助法商議事情,誰知才掀簾,那月橋竟已站在氈包外,看他精神飽滿,一堆笑容的負手而立,穆倫搖搖頭,只道:「我回來再跟你談。」便大步走去,怎料月橋一手抓她肩膀,怒道:「穆姑姑,你說過的話不算數!」
穆倫嘴角牽動,有意氣他,伸手抓他的胳臂,旋即蹲身前彎,瞬間便把他從肩上摔了下來,月橋狠狠地給她摔在地上,也不叫喊,手掌一撐,便彈了起來,又去抓穆倫的右肩,穆倫縮身往一邊閃開,月橋抓人的手隨即滑到她的左肩,穆倫趁月橋重心往左邊一移,馬上俯身抽他左腿,月橋即時仰面翻倒,月橋拍拍屁股,立刻站起,如是者,站起,摔倒,不下十次,都不放棄,反倒穆倫沒耐性再跟他糾纏下去,縱身一躍,越過月橋便飛走了,月橋攔她不住,唯有大叫道:「你不答應我,我就永遠跪在這裏。」說罷,便憤然跪下,滿臉不甘的樣子。
驟然發現千千就站在遠處看他,這時帳棚外都是人,來來往往,他也不管,閉上眼睛,當作看不見就是了。忽兒感到鼻孔癢癢的,打了一個噴嚏,睜眼一看,就見端午拿着一根葦草在搔他鼻孔,即罵道:「你這小鬼頭,又胡鬧甚麼呢?」
端午蹲下身來,嘆氣道:「你這大笨蛋,大傻瓜,你甚麼不好幹?竟幹和尚去了?我老子才埋在地裏,你別想了,我老子還想你傳宗接代,生兒育女…」
月橋聽到這裏,忍不住搶道:「端午,你也可以傳宗接代,生兒育女啊!」
此語一出,端午給他氣得站起身道:「你知道爹死的那天,他原本想幹甚麼麼?」月橋傻傻地反問道:「幹甚麼?」
端午從衣襟裏取出一隻銀鐲子,拿到月橋眼前晃着道:「這是你娘的遺物,爹本來是要給千千姐姐作下聘之禮,你說,你怎可以轉頭就當和尚去呢?」
月橋一聽那銀鐲子竟是媽媽的遺物,便拿過來子細觀看,見這手鐲雕工精緻,薄薄的鐲子上竟浮雕了一隻山羊,一隻綿羊,都是屈膝俯伏,神態很是安詳,一時竟看得出神。
端午之後說甚麼千千姐姐也不知怎麽搞的,這個時候還在學甚麼編馬氈,諸如此類的話…都聽不進耳。
月橋抬頭盯着端午嘴巴不停在動,心裏突地有個主意,驟然抓住她的手,把那銀鐲子一溜便套進她手腕裏,笑道:「我媽媽的遺物當然是留給女兒當嫁妝啦!傻丫頭!」
端午乍然看着手腕上的銀鐲子,又聽月橋這般說來,竟霎時鼻頭一酸,兩眼迷煙,頃刻感動得說不出話來,心裏又氣,又亂,正要罵他狗娘養的,才說了一個狗子,便住了口,他娘不就是我娘了嘛!怎可以罵他狗娘養的呢?正要罵句他媽的,那還不是一樣,想來想去,想不出一句話兒來罵,唯有站起身,嘿一聲,便悻悻然摔袖走了。

三天期限,過了第一天了,穆倫領着八大助法來到氈包前,看月橋不在,心想難道這小子那麼快便放棄了,可是,才掀起簾來,卻發現月橋原來跪到氈包裏面來了,不禁又氣又笑,其中一名年邁長鬚助法笑道:「這哥兒,不是一整天跪在氈包外的麼?怎麼現在跪到裏面來呢?定是怕被人取笑了吧!」
月橋沒有回答,只問穆姑姑道:「我只跪着,不妨礙你們,可以嗎?」
穆倫淺笑道:「可以,但請你把臉轉向裏面,免得大家分心。」
月橋應了一聲,便乖乖的照做,馬上跪向氈包的木杆子,穆倫與眾助法相視一笑,都覺得這小夥子老老實實挺可愛。眾僧見穆倫從枕底取出一卷布帛,便馬上圍着她坐下,穆倫把布帛打開,道:「這是我與曹施主苦苦追憶所默記的大秦景教流行中國碑的前半部,各位助法請過目。」眾助法傳閱了一遍,便都齊聲讚歎道:「果真是法流十道,寺滿百城,鼎盛一時啊!」
其中一名年輕助法看罷,掩卷長歎道:「只可惜太皇太后背信棄義,暗中把我們出賣了。」
另一名女助法也和應道:「真是今非昔比,當今天朝竟視我們如賊子亂黨,危害社稷,不容於道統綱常。」
一名漢人助法反認為是皇恩浩蕩,慶幸道:「太皇太后派主客司郎中護送我們離去,並不加罪於我們,已算仁至義盡了。」
穆倫和那年老助法聽眾人如此心灰意冷,不禁低頭歎息,突地,那面壁的小夥子卻說起話來,道:「你們怎麼老愛懷緬過去,為甚麼不想想也許西出天山後,會有更好的日子呢?」
眾僧聽月橋如此說,就奇怪這小夥子竟有這樣的信心,那年邁助法便問道:「你何以知道西出天山後,會有更好的日子呢?」
月橋先問穆倫道:「穆姑姑,我可以把頭轉回來才說麼?」
穆倫失聲一笑道:「當然可以。」
月橋便連忙轉過頭來,先來個燦爛的笑容,才接道:「我倒不是知道,只是相信會更好。中土的皇帝,皇太后若是不要聽,你們硬要說,那不是惹人反感麼?倒不如找那些愛聽你們的人去,穆姑姑不是常常說,在天尊眼中人人平等?正所謂此地不留人,自有留人處,又何必定要死賴着不走呢?倒頭來說的道理沒人聽,自己反把自己捆綁起來,不是麼?」
眾僧聽罷竟一時無語,面面相覷,片刻便低頭合十道:「善哉!善哉!」
那年邁助法撫鬚笑道:「這位小施主,果真靈心慧性,別豎一眼。」
月橋聽了這助法的讚美,反覺得與其讚美,不如實際行動,便微笑接道:「若要立志行善,隨時隨地都可以,又何必一定分西域和中土呢?天尊眼中有領土疆界之分麼?有漢人胡人之分麼?有強者弱者之分麼?」
眾僧被月橋問得無詞以對之同時,忽然對被逼遣往西域,不再那麼懼怕。當天晚上,眾僧與月橋一問一答,竟就談至深夜才散去。
穆倫看着眾人離去,才好好的再打量月橋一番,見他眼眸裏閃爍着空前的自信,便道:「月橋,你知道太皇太后也曾是一名景教信徒麼?她小名叫高滔滔,她十四歲時跟隨父親出使西域,遇上我爸爸,她聽道後即時受戒,歸依景教,並立下誓言,他朝有日,大權在握,就恢復景教在中土的地位,後來她被選入宮,貴為皇后,卻背信棄義,反過來驅趕景教僧侶,月橋,你要明白,今日你信誓旦旦,不思其反,來日後悔,為時已晚。」
月橋留神聽着穆倫說的每一句話,知道她每一句話都是為自己而說,不想他因一時衝動,做了錯誤決定。為着穆倫月橋又再三考慮,再三思量,卻發覺內心平靜如鏡,明澈透底,並無一點塵跡,這是發自內心長久以來的訴求,不是逃避,也沒有矛盾衝突,心裏很肯定,如果我還有一年的生命,也就全豁出去吧!
想了很久,才抬頭看着穆倫,見她神情肅穆,態度從容,等待着他的回答,月橋站起身來,微笑點頭道:「我決定了。」見穆倫眼眸一閃,又接道:「我不會後悔。」

第二天早上,穆倫便集合了所有景教僧侶在蒲類湖南端,為月橋舉行剃度大典,湖畔一時白袍飄揚,像片片白雲從天而降,半浮在蒲類水草旁,燦爛的六月朝陽,反照白衣如雪,眾僧侶皆盤膝而坐,低頭合十,喃喃頌經。八大助法手提香籠,站在祭壇前,閉目凝神,一切準備就緒。草場上,人人肅穆以待,張大人的營房外也齊集了文武官員數十人,隔岸遙望,觀看這一場莊嚴的宗教儀式。
眾人默守静待之時,倏然一條人影快速躥過草原,原來是端午,看她氣匆匆跑到族長的氈包裏,大喊道:「不好了,月橋真的要落髮當和尚去了。」
乍看氈包裏幾個婆婆圍着千千,地上放滿了毛毯和毛線,端午看千千若無其事的還在織她的馬氈,不禁嚷道:「千千姐姐!你有沒有聽到我說甚麼?月橋要當和尚去了,頭髮一剃掉,就來不及了。」
千千這才抬頭瞧瞧端午,臉上沒甚麼表情,驀然頌經聲外,又傳來一噹一噹清脆的鈴聲,才敲醒了她的心扉,臉上流露出一絲淡淡哀愁,悚然站起,衝出了氈包,端午看她一直走的湖邊,雙腳泡在湖水裏也不察覺,舉目眺望,彷彿見一人身披白袍,跪在祭壇前,穆姑姑手拈剃刀往他頭頂一刀一刀地刮,不多久,烏卒卒的頭顱便成了個香瓜腦袋子,閃閃發亮,穆姑姑又雙手捧着七彩琉璃杯,敬慎地遞過那人,那人低頭啜了一口,眾僧便都站起身來,哦哦頌經之聲更是響徹雲霄,這時才見那人轉過身來,遙遙相對,不是月橋,還會是誰呢?看他由兩名景僧陪伴,一同走進湖水裏,月橋仰面全身泡在水中,起來以後,就正式成為一名景僧了。

三天期限到了最後一天,這天眾人忙個不停,穆倫與張大人穿梭於各帳棚中,安撫眾僧侶,有些景僧年紀老邁,有些不良於行,有些殘弱病患,一時人人涕淚漣漣,遙念中土水暖脂溶,不知西出天山之後,寒川冰塞,到底是何光景?
千千躲在婆婆們的氈包裏趕緊把那馬氈織好,要送給月橋,自那天從山裏回來,就再沒有跟他說過一句話,想起明天他就要走了,心頭一急,梭子又掉到地上,撿起來,舉頭一看,便見穆倫和那位張大人站在眼前,千千連忙欠身向那張大人行禮,穆倫便道:「千千,明天我們走了之後,你就隨張大人一行人返回中土去吧!有張大人沿途照應,路上定無閃失,你事事小心,不要以我們為念。」
千千聽到不要以我們為念,眼圈一紅,低頭下去,那張大人瞧了千千一眼,奇怪她一個年輕女子怎會流落在這塞外荒嶺,便道:「穆大法王,你儘管放心,這千千姑娘是我大宋子民,我定當盡力護送她平安返回中土。」說罷,兩人踏步向前,去跟族長道別。
千千又坐下來,趕快把馬氈織好,縫了最後一針,才鬆了口氣,想想自己從來不曾做過這種女兒家的事,而今要送的這個人,竟要馬上離自己而去。婆婆們見千千終於做成了一張馬氈,都圍過來讚賞,千千看她們滿臉皺紋,笑容可掬,雖聽不懂她們說甚麼,還是感到溫情洋溢。
忽爾,耳畔微聞一聲低呼:「千千!」悠然回首,果然就是月橋,千千拿起那馬氈,慢騰騰地走過去,甚麼都不看,先看看他那光禿禿的頭殼,皺着眉道:「真的連一條小黃毛也沒有了。」
說着竟想伸手去摸,月橋即時閃開,厲色道:「嗯!這位施主,請你莊重一點!」
千千手一縮,暗裏嘮叨道:「竟喊我施主?當個和尚吧了,那麼了不起。」一手把那馬氈塞進他懷裏,便跨檻走出了氈包,月橋拿着那馬氈追出去,問道:「這是甚麼?」
千千知道實在沒有理由生這種氣,便回過頭來,好模好樣地說道:「這是馬氈,我親手做的,送給你路上用。」
月橋攬着那馬氈,甚是感動,柔聲道:「謝謝你,但我用不着,我們馬匹不夠,都讓給年老的爸爸坐,我那麼年輕力壯,當然是走路啦!」看千千眼神有點兒失望,便接道:「我會帶在身邊的。」
忽然閃過一個念頭,也許我也該送她甚麼東西,但一轉念,還是作罷,明天一別,恨不得她立刻把自己忘掉,還送她東西叫她睹物思人麼?見千千良久不語,便轉了話題道:「你知道我現在不叫月橋了嗎?」
千千奇道:「不叫月橋?那叫甚麼?」
月橋得意洋洋,鬆鬆眉笑道:「不錯,我現在叫伊斯哈克,大秦語就是歡笑的意思。」
千千聽得眉頭大皺,嗔道:「甚麼…咳?這麼難記?怎麼叫?」
看月橋臉色一沉,千千才接道:「我…還可以繼續叫你做月橋麼?」
月橋含情淺笑,眨眨眼,鄭重道:「單單你可以。」
千千眼角才重露笑意,那裏又來一聲喊叫:「月橋!」
月橋回頭見端午鼓衝衝的跑過來,便膛眉道:「跟你說過,不要再叫我月橋了!」
端午搔首道:「那叫你甚麼?禿頭驢,還是大和尚?」
月橋敲敲端午的腦袋,不得好氣道:「你當然叫我大哥啦!」
聽月橋這般說,端午即時想起老爹,又看月橋竟已出家當了和尚,內心反反復復,也不知是悲是喜,舉起手中酒瓶,便豪笑道:「千千姐姐!我好不容易又騙又哄才跟張大人拿到這瓶薔薇露,今天晚上,我們不醉無歸!」
轉頭又對月橋說:「大哥,你也來吧!」
月橋愣了半晌,繃起臉來,與千千相看一眼,才淡然道:「我以後都不喝酒了,只吃素菜。」千千明白這是他的選擇,只點頭微笑,不強其所難。三人默對片時,月橋才動作生澀地舉掌合十,低聲道:「兩位施主,請了!」便慢慢後退,轉身離去。
看千千癡癡地站住不動,端午便拍拍她的肩膊笑道:「不要管他,我們有酒有肉,來!咱們喝過痛快。」端午與千千回到氈包裏,舉起酒來,便一大碗一大碗的敬千千,刻意把她灌醉,希望她沉沉的一睡,那明兒他們走的時候,大家都不會太難過。
清晨,低迷的霧色籠罩着整個草場,眾僧侶早已起來,默默地整裝出發,雖然沒有人說過一句話,但兩百多人一齊活動,難免有點兒聲音,千千雖讓端午灌醉,卻竟一夜未睡,她躺在氈包裏,一直留心聽着荒原上每一點兒聲響,第一個人醒來掀簾的聲音,到現在馬匹齊集,蹄聲噠噠,偶爾還有一兩聲馬嘶,但終究沒聽過一點兒人聲。千千伏在繡枕上,想道:「他們竟然要這樣靜悄悄的溜了麼?就裝作從來不曾來過麼?」
終於大隊人馬出發邁向山谷,漸行漸遠,漸遠漸模糊,最後只剩下晨風吹動帳篷的響聲,千千坐起來,感到無比孤單,兩行淚珠,悠然墜下,便撲身翻簾而出,氈包外煙霧蒼茫,水鷺橫飛,只有張大人的帳篷孤零零的立於湖水對岸。千千這才感到難捨難棄,情到深處,怎生割斷,便拚死地翻上山頭,一口氣衝奔到山邊懸崖去,俯身一看,果然還看到一列人馬緩緩在溪谷裏前進,千千瞥見帶在前頭,騎在馬上的就是穆姑姑和端午,便大聲喊道:「穆姑姑!端午!」
山谷傳音,穆姑姑聽得清清楚楚,回頭向千千揮手微笑,端午也揮手喊道:「千千姐姐,你保重了!」
千千一直攀爬在崖邊,與列隊並時前進,見列隊後頭盡是白袍景僧,個個一模一樣,低首徐行,縱目遠望,搜來搜去,還是搜不出月橋的影兒,心裏很是焦急,邊走邊哭,邊哭邊叫:「月橋!月橋!」
喊了數聲,沒有回應,便跪在懸崖邊,低聲飲泣,茫茫人海中,忽見一白袍僧停了腳步,悠然顧望,果然就是月橋,千千攀崖遙盼,見他扮了個鬼臉,登時破啼為笑,抹去淚痕,相望於寂滅無聲,月橋終究把臉轉回,瞬息又跌入溶溶袍海間。黑色森林,白衣景士,最終消失於群山抱擁中,歷史塵緣裏。

第四章完