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131 Yuan Mengzhis Plan

 "Fish Sea" was an uncommon huge lake in Gobi Desert. The waves were chopping and roiling up into a massive fog. Green grass and trees were scattered around. It was a hub south of Immensity Sea. With many routes converging, it was a place of great prosperity.

First time into Fish Sea, and after getting out of Gobi Desert, Meng Qi and others felt their skins nourished by the steam. Though it was still dry compared to the Central Plains, it was far more comfortable than the sand and rubble they met along the path!

"Gee! Each time I come to Fish Sea, I want to stay forever," said Zhong Yashe, pointing to the little stone city by the lake. Inside the city houses were established densely in order, and the population was large as they could tell from the din. Some were dressed as ones from the Central Plains, some as desert tramps, some were pretty West Region girls with colorful hats and shirts, and some were sexy exotic ladies in bold and sexy garments. The smell of mortal dust was intense, giving a feeling of returning to the "society" to each passenger, who suffered desolateness and dreariness in Gobi Desert. No wonder Zhong Yashe said he wanted to stay forever.

Meng Qi also had been crossing the Immensity Sea for days. There were only desolate views besides ferocious horse bandits. Now standing outside the Fish City and looking at the secular life within, he felt some desire deep within. If it had been the hell he went through before, now he was arriving at Pure Land of Buddha!

With his mind calmed down, he gained a new understanding of the intent of Peace Quietude Split and Mortal Dust Fall. No wonder the disciples of major sects think highly of peregrination. Without seeing secular things and gaining a broad knowledge of the mortal world, one could not forge his mind and will. It was okay for one still of enlightenment period, but after the Exterior level, there would be huge defects if he or she lacked an understanding of humanity, appreciating of nature, and mastering of Dharma and Logos.

Zhong Yashe "knew" that Meng Qi and Gu Changqing had not seen much the world since leaving their own tribes and they wanted to know how to "aggrandize a gang" in the Immensity Sea. He dismounted and waved the horse whip. "Bai Bazheng admires the likes of Central Plains. The architecture in Fish Sea emulates that of River East, so this place is also called the 'little River East'."

Bai Bazheng was the dominator of Fish Sea. He had opened Nine Apertures, had a lot of friends, and got along well with the leaders of other Horse Gangs. He must be strong enough to dominate a rich place like Fish Sea, for let alone the four or five leaders of Horse Bandits, Yuan Mengzhi was already hard for him to deal with. Besides, there were also other martial experts of Half-step to Exterior level who sought dominance among the Immensity Sea, such as Ze Luoju and other ambitious guys.

Meng Qi truly agreed with him, for the architecture here was not of the yellowish style as in other cities, but mainly comprised of numerous houses with white walls and black tiles. It was almost the same as in River East.

But Shaolin was in the north of Yangtze River, and Xuan Bei had never taken them to River East. They went westward all the way since departure. Meng Qi judged only by what he had heard and seen before.

Yet Meng Qi had indeed seen the difference. The city of Fish Sea, though not large, was as prosperous as other major cities they saw along the way.

Yuang Mengzhi and his host had already taken Zhen Hui inside the city, and other horse gangs were arriving one by one. Since there were too many horse bandits, they could not all enter the city, for it would be too flamboyant and not strategic: they would leave no hands outside the city to cooperate with those within. So they just picked dozens of martial pros and left others to camp at oases outside the city.

Zhong Yashe had no scruples like that. During the battle with Wang Hong they were allured into a trap and suffered a disastrous defeat. Now they had only no more than twenty hands including the five Keepers. It would do no harm that he let all his brothers enter the city. They could enjoy the prosperity of Fish Sea and vent their frustration from the defeat on women. Their morale needed to be resuscitated.

They dismounted and entered through the gate. The mortal dust was even thicker. The odor of fragranced robes, sweat, animals, and young girls all found their way into their nostrils at the same time.

Walking behind Zhong Yashe, Meng Qi meditated over this secular ambiance quietly for his practice, but his face assumed an air of that of a peasant boy, who for the first time saw a big city.

"Why, isn't this Head Keeper Zhong? Why do you bring so few people?" A sarcastic voice came and alerted Meng Qi. He saw dozens of men surrounding a stout Tibetan, who had a huge saber around his waist. His chest was bared, showing thick dark savage hair.

Zhong Yashe ground his teeth. "Thanks to what you had done to us."

Meng Qi snickered and asked grimly, "Head Keeper, so he is Wang Hong?"

"Yeah." Zhong Yashe glared at Wang Hong and answered casually. If there were no rules in Fish Sea, he would fight him in no time without any doubt.

Zhong Yashe's voice hardly over, Meng Qi spurted out with the sword in his left hand. The stroke was like a swift snake. With a weird angle, it went straight toward the throat of Wang Hong.

Wang Hong had not expected this. It was hard to dodge. Fortunately, he had opened Six Apertures, and was sensitive to the killing intent. He managed to avert the long sword of Meng Qi and unsheathed his Horse-cutting Blade.

Yet after his throat was slashed slightly by the sword, blood could be seen with a line of scarlet red.

Even Zhong Yashe was astonished. He knew Brother Meng wanted to establish his fame as a new horse bandit and was disrespectful of rules, but this was too much! It was a martial pro having opened Six Apertures, and it was in Fish Sea!

After this incident, Meng Qi's character was clearly impressed upon Zhong Yashe and others.

"This guy should not be messed with. He was too insane!"

"Brother Meng, stop!" Zhong Yashe cried immediately. Slaughtering Wang Hong was indeed his desire, but there was no need to irritate the owner of Fish Sea, Bai Bazheng.

Meng Qi withdrew his sword and froze, while Wang Hong and his host took out their weapons, ready to jump into an open gang war.

Wang Hong did not want to offend the Dominator of Fish Sea either. He suppressed his anger and said, "Head Keeper Zhong, what's on your mind?"

Zhong Yashe actually gloated seeing him like that. He smiled and said, "This young brother has just joined our gang. He was not familiar with the rules. I wish Head Keeper Wang could forgive him."

"A newbie?"

Wang Hong and others seemed to have found out the reason. They started to worry that this unscrupulous guy might come at night and assassinate them. They needed to be more alert at night.

This small strife and sounds of blades unsheathing had stirred up people around. Up on a restaurant balcony, Yuan Mengzhi, who wore emerald eyes and beard yellowish, turned his head and saw the lane below.

"Boss, what happened?" asked a young man in confusion. He was wearing a white cloth around his forehead, his face deeply furrowed, his hand gripping at a saber.

Yuan Mengzhi smiled contemptuously. "A newbie in a gang has almost provoked a strife. An insolent rat."

He always showed a feeling of condescension and conceit, as if nothing in the world was out of his expectation.

"Boss, you were just like him decades ago," said and smiled a young man, his frown subsided.

Yuan Mengzhi was just one of the characterized roles of horse bandits Meng Qi was playing. He came out of his original tribes for wealth, women and power. Unscrupulous and ambitious, he soon became head of horse gangs. Yuan Mengzhi's first battle was exactly here at Fish Sea. He had slain a head bandit of Six Apertures level on the street and left without showing fear for the possible assassination order decreed by the Dominator of Fish Sea. Of course, there were assassins chasing after him, but they were all killed by him in the end.

In this way, Yuan Mengzhi meteorically became a famous bandit in the Immensity Sea and called for a host of hundreds of hands.

Now, despite the increase of his arrogance, he lost the guts he had before, for Ze Luoju had "taught" him the rules he should observe.

Yuan Mengzhi stared at Meng Qi down below, his mind thinking of the young guy he had been before. Then he turned back and said, "Du Mo, you were also about the same."

Du Mo was also a Seven Apertures level martial veteran under his command. He could not bring a large team escorting the hostage to Evil Ridge this time, so he had left several of his assistances and six or so martial pros back in Che Li to maintain the major business. Now there were only Du Mo and dozens of average martialists of enlightenment level with him. He was very confident of his strength.

"I was lucky to have met you, Boss, or I don't know where my dead body would be now," said Du Mo sincerely. Those unscrupulous guys always led arduous lives, unless they finally found a much stronger patron with a huge gang behind him.

He paused and then asked, "Boss, will we leave Fish Sea tomorrow?"

"Nay, some days later." Yuan Mengzhi said calmly, "After Fish Sea, it's Tan Han, where the landscapes are complicated. It'll be easy for them to escape. Let's wait here for another five days. Then we'll leave and slaughter the little monk. And we'll hide back in Che Li."

It was because of the simplicity of landscape that made him choose the course, from Guan Yue, to Fish Sea, and to Tan Han. It would be hard for Meng Qi and others to escape, for Gobi desert was vast and empty. There were no places to hide. But in Tan Han there were too many valleys and gullies. It would be harder to find them and easy to be ambushed. Let alone that there was a dangerous place around Tan Han where even he was afraid to enter.

Though he was too conceited, he was well aware of that he was weaker than An Guoxie, who was killed by Meng Qi. No matter whether it was an accident, he should still prepare for the worst. It was likely that he could not kill him clean or capture him in a single battle.

Besides, since he was below the Exterior level, an expected ambush could inflict great damage. For example when crossing through the valley, if there were boulders falling from up the cliff, they would be in danger.

Yuan Mengzhi was always imperious, and Du Mo had no guts to defy. He smiled, cringing, "Boss, should we create a chance for them to rescue the little monk?"

Yuan Mengzhi thought for a moment. "Now that we're here, I should certainly visit Castellan Baiba. We shall ask him to invite all the brothers of other gangs nearby, and have fun together."

The more confused the party would be, the more likely they would make a move. And those guys of other gangs having followed them along the way should not assume that he was ignorant of this. After the

party

they should know better their own strength, and leave them

along

and get out of the Fish Sea!

"Aye, Boss, I'll see to it now." Du Mo accepted the mission immediately for fear of showing any reluctance.

Yuan Mengzhi nodded. Then he suddenly though of something. "Is the little monk still as usual?"

"Aye, he drinks and eats and sleeps without any worry or fear. I worry that perhaps he was a lure... " said Du Mo, frowning, "But sometimes he stares at the air like a dumb, or cries that he needs to find his master and senior brother. Only at these moments does he look like a hostage."

Yuan Mengzhi pondered a moment and said, "No problem. There is a piece of news from Bo Mi that they're still fighting and they're deep in the Immensity Sea now."

For he had plenty of hands, Zhong Yashe rented a courtyard. He let his brothers out for fun with the money they had earned through reaving.

Meng Qi was staying in his room quietly and digesting the experience he had just been intoxicated with after seeing the secular life.

"Dong-dong-dong," Gu Changqing knocked at the door.

"Come in. Why in a hurry?" Meng Qi said, bantering.

Gu Changqing said helplessly, "It's the two female bandits. They're too insistent and harassing. I can't stand it."

There were not many female horse bandits. The reaving days for them were very hazardous. The stronger ones could aspire for a future, but the weaker ones expected nothing from life but fleeting enjoyment at present. They were satisfied with today's wine for it let them forget tomorrow. Thus the females were quite open about sex. They would die anyway, so there was no need to inhibit their desire.

There were three women in Zhong Yashe's gang. Gong Shayue was exclusively his and no one dared to touch her. But the other two were quite easy with sex, and often sought manhood for gaiety. Elder sisters often preferred handsome little brothers, so Meng Qi and Gu Changqing were naturally more popular than those savage bandits.

"You just don't have the will to resist. Why don't you take it if you really want it." Meng Qi jeered.

Gu Changqing turned and looked out of the room. He was like defending his virginity. "Here they come. Let me hide here. You be careful."

"Don't worry. Methodists have methods, so have I." Meng Qi retorted casually.