Su Xing tenderly wiped the sweat from An Suwen’s forehead. The girl’s cheeks were crimson, her appearance gentle. “Little Sister, you’ve worked hard.”
An Suwen wore an empathetic smile. She shook her head, the light around her hands gradually receding. The Child And Mother Linked Hearts Needles’ light circulated out of Su Xing’s body and returned to the Efficacious Star’s palm. The Su Xing currently cut a very sorry figure that required An Suwen to expend her power to heal him was all thanks to Li Shishi.
Earth Rank Dance.
Feng Soars The Skies, Four Seas Seek Huang.1
It could even be called breathtaking. That beautiful phoenix that flew beyond the topmost clouds made Su Xing nearly believe he would be taken out of this world. Recalling it now, he still had lingering trepidation. If it was not for Lin Yingmei’s strong Innate Skill and self-improvement of martial arts, he honestly may have died to this dance. In the end, Su Xing used a Five Elements Flying Sword Array for the first time – “Five Elements Sword Array Reverses Yin And Yang” to finally barely get through this. However, the price was not small. For the sake of having leftover energy to listen to Li Shishi speak of the Star Duels’ secrets, An Suwen spared no effort in healing him.
“Big Brother, you must ask clearly why we Star Duel.” An Suwen softly commanded.
Su Xing’s gaze drifted to Li Shishi. The graceful and gorgeous woman’s figure was already fading, an indication she was about to return to Star World. And the cost of using a Heaven Rank once was severe. The next time they met would probably be after several months.
After several months.
Everything would already have been over then.
Su Xing pondered and walked over to Li Shishi.
A fascinating scene.
Su Xing and Li Shishi slowly walked to the lakeside. Perhaps the Splendid Star Flying General liked to be bright or perhaps she was solitary as Chai Ling suggested. In short, Su Xing wanted to know of Star World’s secrets, and she did not want people other than him around, not even Lin Yingmei and the others.
“Shouldn’t you tell me now just what the relationship between Star World and the Star Duels is?” Su Xing calmly inquired.
Li Shishi stifled a smile, “Can it be that Mister does not like a stroll with Shishi?”
Su Xing helplessly said, “Big Sis, you’re about to go back to Star World. Can you please stop with the playfulness. Please tell me about Star World and the Star Duels first. Then, once I climb the peak, you can teach me however you want, okay?”
Li Shishi covered her cherry lips, thinly smiling.
To be honest, to take a stroll with a beauty that truly could ruin a country was indeed a very delightful matter. Every movement and gesture of the Splendid Star was full of femininity and that sort of entirely innate gentle sense of beauty. Just from her classical and graceful temperament was what Su Xing liked the most, but the Star Duels were nearing their end. Currently, Su XIng was worrying about the ins and outs of the Star Duels. How could he even have the frame of mind to bother about delight.
Li Shishi slowed her elegant steps, her voice like a running brook, speaking steadily.
“Heaven has nine layers, there are three thousand worlds. Amongst these three thousand worlds, the sky of one world is full of trillions of stars whether it be daylight or nighttime, as if enshrouded in the Milky Way. Legend says, these Stars are the destinations of repute for the Three Thousand Worlds and Nine Heavens.”
“Destinations of repute?” Su Xing felt this phrasing was relatively fresh, so he listened with rapt attention.
The Splendid Star continued, “The masters of these destinations can be homogenous or quite varied from place to place. Some are brilliant in military service, some brimming with talent, some full of evil, and others the founders of immortal undertakings. Their reputations have been passed down. When this world gives birth to a girl, she can inherit this renown and even further develop it.”
Su Xing seemed to have a vague sense of scratching the surface, but there was something he did not understand: “They have to be girls? They can’t be boys? Hearing you speak of those reputes, shouldn’t they be heroes and the like? They ought to be men.”
“Only we women have the qualifications to produce these reputes.” Li Shishi cutely looked at Su Xing.
“Why? Men and women are equal.” Su Xing protested.
“Women can bear offspring. Can a man?” Li Shishi’s words left Su Xing speechless.
This was actually not very equal.
“So, wouldn’t this be the reason for the feminization, right…”2 Su Xing powerlessly said.
“Feminization?” Li Shishi did not understand this vocabulary.
“Meaning that Star Generals are girls.” Su Xing said.
“So as to not allow all reputes in the Three Thousand Worlds to continue existing, those who inherit these ‘stars’ are indeed called Star Maidens.”
Su Xing could tell from Li Shishi’s proud and arrogant manner that the men in Star World apparently held very little status.
“However, this is only a legend in Star World. Whether it is true or not, no one knows.”
“You’re not making this up, right. And what does this have to do with the Star Duels?” Su Xing saw that Li Shishi’s figure was increasingly fading, and he grew a bit anxious.
“The story is quite long…”
Li Shishi played with a lock of her black hair beside her ear. She extended a hand and plucked a willow branch.
Zhang Yuqi was currently swimming the backstroke in the lake, just like a snow-white mermaid. She gracefully drifted from wave to wave in the lake. Although she was absentminded, her gaze nevertheless drifted to Su Xing from time to time. “Our Young Su really can flirt. Even a woman who has descended from Star World has personally come to his door.”
The Damage Star’s words made all of the girls very speechless.
“Little Sis Yuqi, didn’t you come to his door.” Zhang Feiyu ruthlessly reminded her.
“Who let Me see Young Su and Little Sister Shi Yuan’s nice show, so I could only devote myself to him.”
“Hey, hey, don’t involve This Young Lady.” Shi Yuan objected.
While that side was in a hubbub, Lin Yingmei, Wu Siyou, Wu Xinjie, and the other girls were very grim.
“Your Concubine sees that this Li Shishi seems to have advised that Empress.” Wu Siyou stared at that wandering figure, her brow slightly wrinkled.
“Just what is with Star World, to surprisingly send Young Lord an adviser.” Wu Xinjie ruminated.
“Is Young Master in danger?” Lin Yingmei did not dare be careless.
“We can be relieved about this. Li Shishi is Little Yi’s Heaven Rank Incarnation. In other words, Little Yi also knows.” Wu Xinjie shook her head.
“Just what are the secrets of these Star Duels.” Hu Niangzi’s pupils were filled with hazy worry. She had no desire for her Dear Husband to be roped into Star Duel’s issues.
The girls smiled.
“Right, did Shaqing not comprehend the mystery of the Star Duels through Buddhism? What did you discover?” Hua Wanyue pondered.
The Lu Shaqing who was like a stone Buddha faced the curious gazes of the Sisters and shook her head. She was on the verge of breakthrough but did not understand in the end.
“Now I realize I am what I am…”
Gongsun Huang softly uttered.
“Sounds a bit ominous.” Zhao Hanyan thought over the meaning of this verse.
This time, there was silence.
Having gone through endless blabbering, Li Shishi finally spoke about the crux of the Star Duels.
“At the very beginning, Star World did not have many Star Generals at all. Legend says there were only one hundred and eight Heavenly Spirits and Earthly Fiends. Star World calls this the origin of Star Generals, and they were split into three ranks including Earthly Fiend and Heavenly Spirit. And the leader of these one hundred and eight Stars is also a leader fully worthy of all of Star World’s Star Generals. Legend says the the Leader Star has a Destined Star Weapon, ‘Justice On Heaven’s Behalf Uprising Stars Banner,’ that is capable of compelling a Star World Star General into obedience.”
“What rank is higher than the Heavenly Spirits and Earthly Fiends?” Su XIng asked in surprise.
“The Emperor Stars.3 The legendary Star of the Son of Heaven. Only a Star General that can surpass the Star Name they inherited can possibly reach this Realm. Across the entire Star World, Star Generals that are Emperor Star are as rare as phoenix feathers. This is also why the Empress commenced the Star Duels.”
“Because the Empress has an enemy that others respectfully refer to as ‘No Matter The Time, Any Place Is Home,’ Her Highness Fang La. She happens to be among Star World’s Emperor Star Star Generals that can be counted on fingers.”
“No Matter The Time, Any Place Is Home…Fang Moujia?” Su Xing took a deep breath. He recalled that girl with dark blue eyes.
“En?” Li Shishi did not know that Su Xing had seen Fang Moujia at all. She said: “She is one of the few people in Star World who reached Emperor Star Realm. We named her the Purple Slumber Star ‘Dream In A Millennium.’4 She has existed in Star World already for tens of thousands of years. She is but the oldest Star General. However, most of the time, she likes to sleep. This is why she is able to live for so long…” Li Shishi covered her smile.
She was like one of those long-lived sea turtles.
“Dream In A Millennium” Fang Moujia?!
“Doesn’t she sound really friendly?” Su Xing was hesitant.
“This Girl is not very clear about Her Highness Moujia. But the troops under her believe that the Fang Moujia that possesses the Star of the Son of Heaven should inherit the Great Song, even rule all of Star World. For this reason, she has waged war with the Great Song for several thousand years. She has one subordinate named Shi Xian, nicknamed the ‘Smiling Killing Immortal’ who wields the ‘Phoenix Splitter Saber,’ Star World’s most terrifying Destined Weapon. This saber is said to be able to subdue and restrain True Phoenix Realm martial generals. True Phoenix Realm Star Generals are no match for her.”
“So for the sake of confronting this Smiling Killing Immortal and Dream In A Millennium, we should think of borrowing Song Jiang’s Star Weapon?”
“But it can’t be summoned directly. Why arrange the Star Duels?” Su Xing still did not understand.
“This Girl hears that Mister wants to end the Star Duels. Then This Girl shall tell Mister how to end the Star Duels…” Li Shishi softly said, profoundly staring at Su Xing. “So long as Song Jiang scales Maiden Mountain, the Star Duels will naturally end. But to make Song Jiang’s Destined Star Weapon manifest will require another method entirely…”5
“What method, mutual slaughter?” Su Xing was unashamed.
“Even This Girl does not dare go ask Her Majesty about this mystery. However, it is possible that this is the case…” Li Shishi spoke then stopped. Clearly, she was hiding something. She stopped walking and cast a sidelong glance. “This Girl hears that you had some special sensations when you make love to your wives…”
“How do you know?” Su Xing’s eyes widened.
“I am Little Yi’s Incarnation. Everything she knows, Shishi naturally knows as well.” Li Shishi matter-of-factly replied.
“…I also wanted to ask you, what is the reason for that illusory feeling…” Su Xing remembered the dream of golden millet line from Jiang Shushui, his heart somewhat anxious.
“The reason is very simple…With Mister’s mind, there is no way you have not thought of it before…” Li Shishi was about to reply when she suddenly wrinkled her brow, “This Girl should leave now. If you want to end the Star Duels, you must protect Song Jiang’s ascent up the mountain. Otherwise, even if you climb Maiden Mountain, you will be the same as the others. You will only become a puppet of the Empress. Only Leader Star Song Jiang can help you…Otherwise, your wish to end the Star Duels, your wish to help those wives of yours, is nothing but a dream of golden millet…”6
Before she could finish, a resplendent light like a phoenix began to morph Splendid Star Li Shishi.
In a split second.
She had already become Little Yi.
The maid was completely powerless. Su Xing stepped forward and gently caught Yan Yizhen.
“Master…” Yan Yizhen’s crimson, apathetic pupils could not stay open for long, leaking much regret.
Su Xing kissed her forehead, tenderly saying: “Rest well, this time, you should let me service you.”
Yan Yizhen’s cheeks flushed, as if she was drunk, as if red clouds were flying across her face. She grunted and shut her eyes.
She slept against Su Xing’s chest with an unprecedented feeling of satisfaction.
- 鳳飛翱翔，四海求凰 ↩
- Meaning how characters who were originally male in the Water Margin are now female here in Liangshan. ↩
- 紫微星. A couple of notes here: Up until now, I’ve translated 紫微 as “Purple Star,” which I’ve done up until here, but there are some other valid interpretations: “Ziwei,” “bramble rose”, “crepe myrtle.” On the other hand, the complete phrase used here has been translated as “Emperor Star” in astrology. ↩
- 紫眠星’一夢千年’ ↩
- So this is what Li Shishi meant by saying Su Xing “lacked destiny.” His role was never to end the Star Duels, no matter how much he wished for it. It is and has always been Song Jiang’s job. ↩
- So what I’m getting out of this is that the Star Duels is nothing more than a drawn-out job interview, an audition process for Star World’s Empress to select the next candidate to add to her forces against Fang Moujia. ↩