Thanks for the comments. As fastclock noted, nothing kills translating motivation like feeling like there are no readers, or that readers don't appreciate their work :)
Thanks for the comments. As fastclock noted, nothing kills translating motivation like feeling like there are no readers, or that readers don't appreciate their work :)
I have been looking forward to read this through, please update soon.
I am not keeping up with this right now, but I hope to read it one day. Please continue.
Am patiently waiting for your update, please update soon :)
Just want to up this thread to motivate Ren to post the next update. :D
Waiting anxiously for the next update. Go Ren Go!
Thanks Kara, Ren and readers.
Chapter 32: A Card Up The Sleeve
Turning around, Tie Kaicheng said, “When my late father was still alive, this junior often heard him say that Hero Xie’s sword roamed the entire world without any equal.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Your swordsmanship is quite good as well.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “I wouldn’t dare agree.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Any sword technique which can kill, is a good technique.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “But when this junior kills, it isn’t for the purpose of establishing my reputation, nor is it for my own pleasure.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “What is the usual reason for which you kill!”
Tie Kaicheng said, “For the six words which my late father has ordered all of us to remember, ever since he founded the escort agency.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Six words!”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Responsibility. Discipline. Honoring Wife and Child.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Good. He truly was scrupulous and righteous, upright and noble. No wonder the fame of the Red Flag Escort Agency has never waned throughout the past twenty six years.”
Tie Kaicheng bowed in thanks, before saying solemnly, “My late father often admonished us that if we were to take the escort agency business as our business, we must always remember these six words. Otherwise, how would we be different from thieves and bandits!”
His bearing became even more solemn. “Thus, anyone who violates these six words must be killed without pardon!”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “What a well-spoken ‘killed without pardon’!”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Due to Zhang Shi’s negligence, he failed in his responsibility to guard our flag. Hu Fei allowed himself to wallow in his degeneracy, violating our laws against guarding one’s personal dignity. Thus, even though they were old followers of my late father, this junior couldn’t allow my private feelings to sway my judgment.
His eyes flashing, he watched Xie Xiaofeng intently. “The fame of the Manor of the Divine Sword overawes the world. Naturally, it has its own household laws as well.”
Xie Xiaofeng couldn’t deny this.
Tie Kaicheng said, “The internal laws of every family and sect all forbid their disciples from neglecting the code of righteousness and justice in the martial world, and from violating the laws of the martial world!”
His dagger-like gaze was even sharper than a blade’s edge. “Drinking excessively in a crowded city. Causing trouble for no reason. Not only wounding others, but also tearing an escort agency’s flag, which is valued and honored more than our own lives. Can this be considered violating the laws of the martial world!”
Xie Xiaofeng’s response was simple and direct. “It counts.”
Once again, a look of shock appeared in Tie Kaicheng’s eyes. He had already prepared a verbal noose to hang around the Kid’s neck. Xie Xiaofeng should understand his meaning. Why didn’t he block the noose for the Kid? But no matter what, he could not give up this opportunity. He immediately followed with another question. “To ignore the code of righteousness and justice, and to violate the laws of the martial world for no reason. What type of offense has such a person committed?”
Xie Xiaofeng’s response became even more direct. “A capital offense.”
Tie Kaicheng shut his mouth.
The noose had been laid around the Kid’s neck. And he understood Xie Xiaofeng’s meaning.
Although the Kid’s life was important, the prestige of the Manor of the Divine Sword was even more important. If Xie Xiaofeng could only choose one or the other, he could only sacrifice the Kid.
Zhang Shi and Hu Fei had already paid for their crimes with their deaths. Naturally, the Kid would have to die as well.
The leaders of the Red Flag Escort agency were all old, experienced hands of the martial world. Naturally, they could understand this point as well. Everyone tightly gripped the hilts of their sword, preparing to charge forward.
Tie Kaicheng waved his hand. “Stand down. Stand down, all of you.”
Nobody understood why he had issued such an order, but no one dared to disobey it either.
Tie Kaicheng calmly said, “The penalty was determined by Hero Xie yourself. With Hero Xie present, why would any of you be needed to act!”
The Kid suddenly roared, “None of you need to act!”
Staring at Xie Xiaofeng, he suddenly laughed loudly. “Xie Xiaofeng really is Xie Xiaofeng. You really have taken good care of me. I really feel extremely grateful in my heart.”
Laughing loudly, he jumped down from the carriage and rushed into the crowd. With a cracking sound, an escort chief’s arm was broken, and his sword was now in the Kid’s hands. Without even batting an eye towards Xie Xiaofeng, he raised the sword and slashed it towards his own throat....
[to be continued]
Thank you Ren and welcome back!
Chapter 32 continued:
Xie Xiaofeng’s deathly pale face showed no expression at all. It seemed as though his entire body was frozen stiff. Everyone only heard a ‘crack’, and suddenly, only a hilt remained in the Kid’s hands. The three-foot long blade had already been shattered, and something was falling down with the blade. Amazingly, it was a bright pearl.
The embroidered flower in Xie Xiaofeng’s hand was missing yet another pearl.
Although the Kid was still holding the hilt, his entire body was thrown backwards by two steps from the collision.
The three escort chiefs behind him exchanged glances. Their two sabres and one sword struck out in unison.
Two of them were especially close friends with the escort chief whose arm had just been broken. They were filled with anger to begin with. Now that Xie Xiaofeng had once more protected the Kid, their actions could not be considered a violation of Escort Leader Tie’s commands.
The three of them striking together, naturally were dealing lethal attacks!
But with another clicking finger from Xie Xiaofeng’s fingernails, and then another clanking sound, both sabres and the sword were instantly shattered as well. The three of them were shaken as well and thrown backwards five steps, unable to even grasp the hilts of their weapons.
Tie Kaicheng’s face sank. He coldly said, “What incredible strength. What deep internal energy!”
Xie Xiaofeng was silent.
Tie Kaicheng sneered, “Hero Xie’s prowess in martial arts has always been known by everyone in the martial world. But I’m afraid that very few people know that Hero Xie is unfaithful to his word!”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “I’m unfaithful to my word?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Just now, who determined the penalty.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Me.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “What penalty did you determine?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “The death penalty.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Since you determined the penalty should be death, why did you act to save him?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “I only determined one person’s penalty. That person is not him.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “If not him, then who?” Xie Xiaofeng said, “Myself.”
A look of shock appeared in Tie Kaicheng’s eyes a third time. He asked, “Why is it you?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Because I was the one who taught him to ignore the laws of the martial world, and to ignore justice and righteousness.”
His gaze once more revealed that look of unspeakable suffering and pain. He slowly continued, “If it wasn’t for me, he definitely wouldn’t have committed such acts. I admit to my crimes and will submit to punishment, but he definitely cannot be allowed to die for me.”
Tie Kaicheng stared at him. His pupils slowly contracting, he suddenly let out a long sigh. “At the Scholar’s House, you used a toothpick to defeat Cao Hanyu’s Wudang swordplay. Your skill in swordsmanship really is incomparable in the world.”
Only now did the Kid understand who the winner of the fight at the Scholar’s House had been.
Although he still didn’t so much as glance at Xie Xiaofeng, in his heart, he suddenly began to feel regret. He hated himself for not having stayed behind and witnessed the majesty of the Third Young Master of the Xie family defeating Wudang’s swordplay with a toothpick.
Tie Kaicheng continued, “From that, the Yuan brothers could tell that even if they joined forces, they wouldn’t be your match at all. Thus, knowing their own limitations, they retreated. I’m not blind. Naturally, I saw this as well. If I wasn’t forced to do so, I would definitely be unwilling to fight with you.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Very good.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “But for you to say such a thing, indicates that you have decided to use swordsmanship to determine life and victory in this matter.”
Sneering, he continued, “The rules of the martial world have always been discussed with sword and sabre alone. Otherwise, why would everyone train in martial arts? Highly skilled exponents can take an unreasonable position and change it into a reasonable position. That’s not considered strange at all!”
Xie Xiaofeng stared at him. After a long period of time, he let out a long sigh. “You are wrong.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Wrong about what?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Since I have admitted my guilt, there’s no need for you to act.”
Although Tie Kaicheng had always tightly disciplined himself, and was able to refrain from displaying his emotions when happy or angry, at this moment in time, he couldn’t help but display his shock on his face. In the martial world, he had seen many cases of people taking blows or stabs for their friends. But considering Xie Xiaofeng’s stature and martial prowess, why would he sacrifice his life so easily and cheaply? Xie Xiaofeng had already walked towards him. Patting the Kid on the shoulder, he said, “None of this has anything to do with you now. You can leave.”
The Kid didn’t move. He didn’t turn to look at him.
Xie Xiaofeng said, “I’ve never taken very good care of you. When you were young, you must have suffered from other’s cruelties and mockery. I only hope that you can be a good person. “Wine” and “sex”, these two words, you had best…” But the Kid couldn’t hear anything else that he had said.
When he thought about the suffering he had experienced as a child, when he thought about the Girl embracing him, the Kid could only feel an explosive anger rushing forth from his chest. He suddenly shouted, “Fine, I’ll leave! You were the one following me. I don’t owe you anything!”
He said he’d leave, and he did. He didn’t turn his head. Nobody barred his path. Everyone’s gaze was focused on Xie Xiaofeng.
It was raining heavily. Passing through his hair, it dripped down one drop at a time. It passed through his eyes, and became indistinguishable from tears. Was it rain water? Or was it teardrops?
He stood there without moving, as though nobody was left in this world besides him. Only after a long time did he turn around to face Tie Kaicheng.
Tie Kaicheng didn’t speak. He didn’t need to speak. With the Third Young Master of the Xie Family taking the penalty onto himself, what could anyone in the Red Flag Escort Agency possibly have to say?
Xie Xiaofeng suddenly said a very peculiar thing. “I heard that in recent years, the late Escort Leader Tie rarely appeared in the martial world, precisely because he wanted to teach you.”
Tie Kaicheng slowly nodded. “Sadly, he passed away over two months ago.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “But you have become a worthy successor.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “That is only because this junior never dares to forget his instructions to me.” Xie Xiaofeng also slowly nodded his head, before mumbling, “Very good…very good…very good…” He said these two words over and over again, his voice becoming lower and lower, his head sinking lower and lower as well.
But his hand had already tightened into a ball. The street had filled with people. Some belonged to the Red Flag Escort Agency, while others didn’t. Everyone could tell that this world-famous hero was filled with guilt and self-hatred, and was preparing to wash it all away with his own blood.
Just at this moment, someone from within the crowd shouted loudly, “Xie Xiaofeng, you are wrong! The one who should die is not you, but rather, Tie Kaicheng! Because…” Just at this moment, his voice suddenly disappeared, as though it had been cut away by a fast knife.
[to be continued]
Yup! It's high time that I try and finish this novel off!
This story is very interesting
Thanks for another nice update Ren. Glad to know you're going to finish this.
Chapter 32 (continued)
Someone charged out from the crowd, his eyes bulging outwards. Staring at Tie Kaicheng, what was it that he wanted to say? Before saying a single word, he fell to the ground, a blade sticking out of his back that had no hilt attached to it.
But someone from within the crowd finished his words for him. “Because the laws of the Red Flag Escort Agency had been sullied by him long ago, and became worth less than a cent! He…” At this point, his voice disappeared as well. Yet another person stumbled forward, covered in blood, collapsing and dying.
But there really were people who didn’t fear death in this world. Death held no fear for them.
Towards the west, someone shouted loudly, “He looks honest on the outside, but is crafty and vile on the inside. Not only did the late Escort Leader Tie die of suspicious causes, but…” This person was running away from the crowd as he shouted, but suddenly, a blade flashed and pierced through his throat.
From the north, someone immediately continued his words for him. “But that golden house at the western gate was purchased by him as well. The recent death of the late Escort Leader Tie has caused some suspicion to unavoidably fall on him, which is why he hasn’t gone there very often now. That’s why Hu Fei had the chance to move in.”
This time, the speaker clearly had a high level of skill in martial arts, as he had already dodged two deadly blows. Fleeting onto the roof, he continued, “Just then, Hu Fei feared that he would be killed if he had spoken, which is why he didn’t make things clear. He didn’t expect that despite not saying anything, he would still die!”
As he spoke, he hurriedly retreated. When he said the word ‘die’, a sword suddenly flew towards him, piercing up through his back and into his throat. Fresh blood spewed out of the wound, and the person collapsed, rolling down from the rooftop to the ground.
The long street was filled with a deathly stillness.
In the blink of an eye, four corpses had filled the streets with their blood, filling people’s hearts with fear. What’s more, they all died such miserable, terrifying deaths.
Tie Kaicheng remained emotionless and calm. He coldly said, “Tie Yi.”
A tall, strong-looking escort chief stepped forward and bowed. “Present.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Find out who ordered those four to act. They had the audacity to come here and invert white with black and to commit heinous slander.”
Tie Yi said, “Yes.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “If they were only committing slander, why did you have you to kill them to silence them!”
Tie Kaicheng sneered, “Did you see who it was who killed those people?” Xie Xiaofeng suddenly sprang forward and passed through the crowd. His body flickered throughout the crowd, and where it flickered, a man flew out. With a thudding sound, four men fell to the ground. Their clothes indicated that they were escort chiefs of the Red Flag Escort Agency.
Tie Kaicheng actually remained expressionless. He said, “Tie Yi.”
Tie Yi said, “Present.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Go and find out for me the backgrounds of these four people, and where their clothes came from.”
The clothes they wore were not precious heirlooms or treasures of the Red Flag Escort Society. The chiefs of the society could wear them. But so could others.
Tie Yi verbally replied, “Yes.” But he didn’t actually move at all.
Tie Kaicheng said, “Why haven’t you left!”
A very strange expression suddenly appeared on Tie Yi’s face. Suddenly, he ground his teeth and said in a loud voice, “I don’t need to go investigate, because I bought the clothes. The pearled flower in Hero Xie’s hands, I paid for as well.”
Tie Kaicheng’s expression abruptly changed. Naturally, he knew where the pearled flower in Xie Xiaofeng’s hands came from.
Xie Xiaofeng knew as well, of course.
He had plucked this pearl flower from the hair of the cat-like woman, and used it as a lethal weapon.
Tie Yi said in a loud voice, “The Escort Leader gave me three hundred taels of silver and sent me to the Heavenly Treasures store to buy this pearled flower and a pair of bracelets. He allowed me to keep the twenty or so remaining taels of silver.”
Why did Tie Kaicheng’s pearled flower appear on that cat-like woman’s head!
Xie Xiaofeng suddenly grabbed Tie Yi and lifted him up into the air. Like lifting a paper doll, he jumped up forty feet and landed on the rooftops.
Carrying the sound of the wind, over ten glittering points of cold light shot through the place where he had stood. If Xie Xiaofeng had been even slightly slower, he would have been killed and his mouth shut.
But the roof wasn’t safe either. Before he had even found his footing, another sword shot out from behind the roof.
It was aimed for Xie Xiaofeng’s throat.
The light from the sword shone like a rainbow. Clearly, the attacker was, without doubt, an elite expert, using a very good sword.
The person they wanted to kill was no longer Tie Yi. Rather, it was Xie Xiaofeng.
Xie Xiaofeng was holding a person with his right hand, and the pearled flower with his left. It appeared as though the sword was about to pierce his throat.
He suddenly lifted his left hand and used the stem of the pearled flower to block the sword. With a [click], a pearl shot out, flying six feet. Next, another pearl shot out as well, its speed even greater than that of the first. The first pearl shot out to the left, attacking the sword-wielding man in black on his left cheek.
The man hurriedly dodged simply by moving his head, but he didn’t expect that the second pearl would have a downwards dropping curve, striking him on the “Quchi” wrist acupoint of his sword hand. By the time his longsword fell down, Xie Xiaofeng was already far away.
The rain fell down like a torrent, and in the blink of an eye, no trace of Xie Xiaofeng could be seen. Tie Kaicheng stood beneath an oiled umbrella. Not only was he totally calm, his body was unmoved by the wind as well.
The escort chief who had been standing behind him this entire time, holding the umbrella, suddenly lowered his voice. “Should we chase?”
Tie Kaicheng coldly said, “If you can’t catch him, why chase him?” The escort chief said, “But if we don’t provide a clear explanation to this matter, I’m afraid it will be hard to placate the masses.”
Tie Kaicheng sneered. “If anyone objects, kill them without mercy!”
The rain continued to fall, and the sky grew dark.
The small shrine to the earth god was damp and moist. Tie Yi was lying on the ground, panting and vomiting.
As soon as he could speak, he immediately began revealing everything he knew.
“Those four assassinated men were all old colleagues of the deceased Escort Leader. The person who was murdered last, on the roof, was an escort chief. The others were all bodyguards.”
“Two months ago, there was a night like this, where thunder and lightning criss-crossed. The rain was even heavier.”
“That night, it seemed as though the late Escort Leader had some troubles on his mind. During dinner, he drank a few extra cups of wine, and went to bed very early. The next morning, I heard news that he had passed away during the night.”
“It normally isn’t a strange thing for an elderly person to grow ill after drinking too much. But that night, the guards on duty outside his place heard people arguing from within the late Escort Leader’s room. One of the two voices belonged to Tie Kaicheng.”
“Although Tie Kaicheng was the adopted son of the late Escort Leader, the late Escort Leader had always treated him even better than his own children. He normally was very prudent and filial, so it was an extremely strange thing for him to argue with the late Escort Leader, his superior.”
“What’s more, if the late Escort Leader really did die from sickness brought on by drinking too much, how could it be that he would still have the energy to argue and fight before his death?”
“What’s even stranger is that from that night onwards, up until the day of the funeral, Tie Kaicheng forbade anyone from getting close to the late Escort Leader’s corpse. Tie Kaicheng even personally garbed the late Escort Leader with funeral robes!”
“That’s why everyone suspects that there’s something fishy involved. But no one dares to say it out loud.”
Listening to everything, Xie Xiaofeng now asked, “The guards on duty that night. Was it the four of them?”
Tie Yi said, “It was them.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “What about the late Escort Leader’s wife?”
Tie Yi said, “Many years ago, they began to sleep in separate rooms.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “No one else heard the two of them arguing?”
Tie Yi said, “That night, it was raining too heavily. Aside from the on-duty guards who didn’t dare to wander about, everyone had gone drinking and then went to bed early.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “After the event occurred, since there were so many murmurings of discontent within the agency, Tie Kaicheng naturally would have heard of it as well. Naturally, he would know from who the murmurings were coming.”
Tie Yi said, “Naturally.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Can it be that nothing was ever done to the four of them?”
Tie Yi said, “There was no incriminating evidence against him. If he were to suddenly act against the four of them, it would only raise suspicions even further. Although he is young, he is shrewd and very subtle. Naturally, he wouldn’t act lightly. But within three days of the funeral, he found an excuse to expel the four of them from the agency.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “What excuse did he find!”
Tie Yi said, “Becoming drunk and causing trouble during the mourning period.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Did that really happen?”
Tie Yi said, “They had all received great benevolence from the late Escort Leader, while in their hearts, they felt a great injustice had been done, which they could not voice. It’s hard for them to avoid drinking a little too much wine.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Why didn’t he use this as an excuse to kill them and shut their mouths?”
Tie Yi said, “Because he didn’t want to kill them personally. As soon as they left the agency, he found someone to go and secretly murder all of them.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Who did he find!”
Tie Yi said, “Me.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “But you didn’t do so?”
Tie Yi sadly said, “I couldn’t bear to. I only took their four bloody clothes back to claim success.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “He told you to buy the pearled flower and deliver it to his room, then told you to act on his behalf to kill those men and shut their mouths. Naturally, he considers you to be the closest of confidantes.”
Tie Yi said, “Originally, I was his secretary. I grew up by his side. But…” His face twisted. “But the late Escort Leader was filled with righteousness and had treated me with great kindness. I…I simply couldn’t stand to watch as this injustice against him sink to the bottom of the sea. Originally, I didn’t dare to betray Tie Kaicheng either, but when I saw how miserably the four of them died, I…I simply…” Swallowing his voice, he suddenly knelt down and kowtowed. [Dong], [Dong], [Dong], he knocked his head against the floor three times. “Today, they dared to reveal themselves and step forward, openly exposing Tie Kaicheng’s crimes. This was because they saw that Hero Xie was present, and knew that Hero Xie definitely wouldn’t let them simply die like that, without rhyme or reason, while they were calling out for justice. If Hero Xie would be willing to intervene, I…I would not begrudge my own life being sacrificed.”
He had already rammed his head against the ground several times, and his face was covered in blood. Suddenly, he drew a dagger out and pierced it towards his own heart.
But this dagger suddenly somehow disappeared from his hand and reappeared in Xie Xiaofeng’s.
Staring at him, Xie Xiaofeng said, “Regardless of whether or not I agree, there’s no need for you to die.”
Tie Yi said, “I…I was afraid that Hero Xie wouldn’t believe my words, and would have to die to demonstrate my sincerity.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “I believe you.”
Thanks Ren. (another reader here :))
Ren dun forget your resolution to see this thru. Waiting patiently as usual ......
Chapter 33: Bathing the Red Flag in Blood
The gloomy temple. The silent idol. No matter what sort of terrible stories they heard, they would not speak.
But in the netherworld, there’s still naturally a pair of eyes which coldly behold all of mankind’s sorrows and sins, sincerities and hypocrisies. It wouldn’t speak, of course, nor would it interfere, but it would naturally borrow another pair of hands to execute its will and carry out its law. This pair of hands would of course be a pair of powerful hands, and would of course belong to an intelligent, upright person.
Tie Yi suddenly continued, “But Hero Xie, you must be especially careful. Tie Kaicheng definitely isn’t a person who is easily dealt with. His sword is far faster and far more frightening than that of the late Escort Leader’s, even at his best during his prime.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Can it be that his martial arts was not taught to him by the late Escort Leader Tie?”
Tie Yi said, “Most of it was, but his swordplay exceeds that of the late Escort Leader by a total of thirteen strokes.”
A look of terror gradually appeared in his eyes. “It’s said that there is no longer anyone in the entire world who can defend against the viciousness and power of these thirteen strokes.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Do you know who taught him those thirteen strokes?”
Tie Yi said, “I know.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Who?”
Tie Yi said, “Yan Shisan.”
Dusk. The rain stopped.
A rainbow appeared beneath the setting sun. After a ferocious rainstorm, it appeared all the more indescribably beautiful and peaceful.
It has been said since ancient times that when a rainbow appears, it would bring with it joy and peace. But why did the setting sun continue to emanate blood red rays?
The red flags also remained as red as blood.
Thirteen red banners, thirteen carriages. The carriages had already come to a stop in front of an inn’s courtyard.
Tie Kaicheng stood beneath the dripping eaves. As he stared at the flags on the carriages, he suddenly said, “Take them down.”
The escort chief’s hesitated. Nobody moved.
Tie Kaicheng said, “Someone tore down one of our flags. This is the same as though all of our thousands of flags have been torn down. If we do not avenge this dishonor, if we do not wash away this humiliation, then our flags will never again be seen in the martial world.”
His face remained totally expressionless, but his voice was filled with conviction. His words remained commands.
Thirteen people walked over. Thirteen pairs of hands simultaneously reached out to take down the flags. But before they had pulled them down, all thirteen pairs of hands suddenly paused in mid-air, as thirteen pairs of eyes suddenly fixed upon one person.
A man who travelled alone, who appeared different from everyone else. When you insisted on him staying, he would leave, but when you never would’ve imagined that he would return, he would insist on coming back.
This person’s hair had been tousled long ago, and his rain-soaked clothes had not had enough time to dry. He looked very tired and cut a rather sorry figure. But nobody paid any mind to his clothes or to his hair, nor did anyone think that he looked tired or pathetic. Because this person was Xie Xiaofeng.
Tie Yi was a big, strong, stalwart young man, with thick brows, large eyes, and a heroic spirit, but standing behind this man, he seemed to be an autumn firefly standing beneath the moon, or a candle flame flickering beneath the sun. Because this person was Xie Xiaofeng.
Tie Kaicheng watched as they approached, watched as they drew near. “You came back.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “You should’ve known that I would.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Because you must have been told many things.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Yes.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Whether these tales were true or false, you surely would be able to differentiate quite clearly.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Yes.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “You have no sword in your hands.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Yes.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “The sword is in your heart.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Whether or not the sword is in my heart is something you should be able to tell quite clearly.”
Tie Kaicheng gazed at him. He slowly said, “If there were a sword in one’s heart, a killing intent would appear in the eyes and the brows.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Yes.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “You have no sword in your hands, nor do you have a sword in your heart. Where is your sword.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “In your hands.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “My sword is your sword.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Yes.”
Tie Kaicheng suddenly drew his sword.
He himself wore no sword, because a filial son whose father had just died definitely could not wear any sort of weapon. But the people who followed him all wore swords. The swords were simple and plain, but an experienced eye could easily tell that every single sword was a sharp weapon.
This sword wasn’t aimed at Xie Xiaofeng. Everyone saw the sword flash like lightning, and it seemed as though it had left Tie Kaicheng’s hands, but in actuality, he continued to hold it. Only, it had been reversed, and the tip of the sword was now pointing at Tie Kaicheng himself.
With two fingers, he gripped the tip of the sword, and he slowly delivered the sword towards Xie Xiaofeng.
Everyone’s heart clenched, as cold sweat filled their palms. Acting in this manner was the same as committing suicide. If Xie Xiaofeng was to push the sword forward even slightly, how could he possibly dodge? Who could possibly block it?
Xie Xiaofeng stared at him. Finally, he slowly reached out to take the hilt of the sword. Tie Kaicheng’s fingers loosened, and his hand dropped to his side.
The two men stared at each other, a very strange look in their eyes.
All of a sudden, the sword flashed, like the spring wind blowing across the earth, like a bolt of lightning descending from the heavens. Nobody could dodge such a strike, and Tie Kaicheng did not attempt to. But this strike wasn’t aimed at him. With a sword flash, the sword suddenly appeared at Tie Yi’s throat. Tie Yi’s face had already changed. Everyone’s face had.
Only Tie Kaicheng’s expression remained unchanged. It was as though he had long ago foreseen this shocking development.
Tie Kaicheng’s throat clenched. After a long moment, he finally managed to speak.
In a quavering voice, he said, “Hero Xie, what…what do you mean by this?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “You don’t understand?”
Tie Yi said, “I don’t.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Then you really are quite foolish and muddle-headed.”
Tie Yi said, “I’ve always been a foolish person.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Why must a foolish man insist on telling lies, then?”
Tie Yi said, “Who…who told lies?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “You spun a fine tale, and put on a very moving performance. Every single aspect of the play was executed to perfection, and the plot was very tightly knit as well. But unfortunately, there were one or two loopholes.”
Tie Yi said, “Loopholes? What loopholes?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Three days after late Escort Leader Tie’s funeral, Tie Kaicheng kicked those four escort chief’s out of the agency, then ordered you to kill them, right?”
Tie Yi said, “Right.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “But you couldn’t bear to do so, and so simply took their bloody clothes back as proof of their demise.”
Tie Yi said, “Right.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Tie Kaicheng believed you!”
Tie Yi said, “He’s always trusted me.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “But the four people you killed suddenly appeared today, perfectly alive and hale. Tie Kaicheng personally witnessed them being alive, but continued to trust you, to the point of ordering you to uncover their identities. Could it be that he’s an utter idiot? But why is it that he really doesn’t look like an utter idiot?”
Tie Yi couldn’t speak. Sweat flowed down his head like rain.
Xie Xiaofeng sighed. “If you wanted to use me to eliminate Tie Kaicheng, wanted for the two of us to struggle against each other and let you profit from it, you should’ve come up with a better story. At the very least, you should also have investigated clearly. A pearl flower like that definitely couldn’t be purchased for just three hundred taels of silver.
He suddenly flipped the sword around. Holding the tip of the sword with his fingers, he offered the hilt to Tie Yi.
And then he turned around to face Tie Kaicheng. He said in a dull voice, “This man is yours, now.”
He didn’t spare a single glance for Tie Yi, but Tie Yi stared at him, at his throat and his neck. A killing intent suddenly flooded his eyes, and he suddenly struck forward with the sword.
Xie Xiaofeng neither looked back, nor did he dodge. But with a flash, a sword suddenly flew past his shoulder and pierced into Tie Yi’s throat. Its excess force not yet spent, it actually drove Tie Yi back seven or eight feet before it nailed itself and him into one of the carriages nearby.
The red flag on the carriage waved mournfully in the wind.
At this point in time, the setting sun had already gradually darkened. The rainbow had also disappeared.
In the courtyard, someone lit a lantern, a red lantern. The lantern light turned even Tie Kaicheng’s pale face red.
Xie Xiaofeng looked at him. “You knew all along that I would return.”
Tie Kaicheng admitted to it.
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Because I had heard many things, you knew I would definitely spot a weakness in the story.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Because you are Xie Xiaofeng.”
His face was still totally expressionless, but when he said the words “Xie Xiaofeng”, his voie was filled with respect.
A look of amusement appeared in Xie Xiaofeng’s eyes. “Are you going to invite me to drink a cup or two of wine?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “I’ve always abstained from drinking so much as a drop of wine.”
Xie Xiaofeng let out a sigh. “Drinking alone is boring. Looks like I’d better go.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “You can’t go yet.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Why?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “You need to leave two things behind.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “What do you want me to leave behind?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Leave behind that pearl flower.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Pearl flower?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “I bought it for the price of three hundred taels of silver. It was meant as a gift for someone else. I can’t give it to you.”
Xie Xiaofeng’s pupils contracted. “You really bought it? You really ordered Tie Yi to buy it?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Absolutely true.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “But a pearl flower like that must be worth at least eight hundred taels. How could you buy it for just three hundred?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “The proprietor of the “Heavenly Treasures” shop used to be the cashier of the Red Flag Escort Agency, which is why the price was particularly cheap. What’s more, the pearl business has one of the highest profit margins of any business. Even at this low price, he still turned a profit.”
Xie Xiaofeng’s heart sank, but he could feel a cold air rising from his stomach.
Could it be that he had wrongly suspected Tie Yi?
Tie Kaicheng ordered him to investigate the backgrounds of those four people. Could that be a scheme as well?
He suddenly realized that his judgment had been made without firm, incontrovertible proof. Cold sweat trickled down his back.
Tie Kaicheng said, “Aside from the pearl flower, you need to leave behind your blood, to wash our flag with.” One word at a time, he continued, “Our flag was torn. Only blood can wash out the stain of this dishonor. If it isn’t your blood, then it must be mine!”
The cold wind blew across the world, filling the entire world with a killing aura.
Xie Xiaofeng finally let out a long sigh. “You are a smart man, truly a very smart man.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Smart people are as common as copper coins.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “I really didn’t want to have to kill you.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “But I must kill you no matter what.”
Xie Xiaofeng stared at him. “There’s something which I really must understand.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “What?”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “The late Escort Leader, Tie Zhongqi. Was he your biological father?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “He was not.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “How did he die?”
Tie Kaicheng’s stone-like face suddenly clenched. “It doesn’t matter how he died. This is none of your business!”
He suddenly drew another sword, two swords. Flipping his hand, he stuck them in the ground. The swords sank all the way into the ground, revealing only the hilts.
The two hilts were wrapped in black ribbon. Clumsy-looking and simple.
Tie Kaicheng said, “Although these two swords were forged in the same furnace, there are differences in their weight.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Which one do you prefer?”
Tie Kaicheng said, “This furnace produced seven swords. I’m very familiar with all seven of them. We can consider this as me having taken a slight advantage over you.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “No matter.”
Tie Kaicheng said, “Although my sword skills focus on using speed to attain victory, when experts fight, power and weight are the most important.”
Xie Xiaofeng said, “Understood.”
Of course he understood. At their levels of martial arts, the weight of a weapon no longer mattered; no matter how heavy it was, any sword in their hands would be used naturally and easily. But in comparing two swords which were identical in shape and size, if one sword was slightly heavier than the other, then it naturally must have been slightly better in terms of quality.
If the sword was a fraction heavier, then its power would be a fraction greater. But when experts fought, they couldn’t make even a fraction of a mistake.
Tie Kaicheng said, “I neither want to give you the heavier sword, nor do I want to take any advantage over you. So, we’ll just have to rely on luck.”
As Xie Xiaofeng stared at him, he began to question himself once more.
Just who was this young man? Facing the world-renowned, invincible Xie Xiaofeng, he wasn’t willing to take the slightest bit of advantage. How could such a proud man possibly carry out such a base, despicable deed?
Tie Kaicheng said, “Please select your sword.”
The swords appeared absolutely identical. The blades had totally sunken into the earth. Nobody could tell at a glance which sword was heavier and which was lighter. But so what if he could not?
So what if he had a sword? So what if he did not?
Xie Xiaofeng slowly bent down, gripping a sword by the hilt. But he didn’t pull it out.
He was waiting for Tie Kaicheng. The sword remained in the ground, but he had already gripped it by the hilt. The aura of the sword seemed to have exploded forth from the ground. Although his waist was bent and his body bowed, his posture remained fluid and graceful, with no flaws to be exploited.
Tie Kaicheng watched him. In front of his eyes, another man’s shadow seemed to have emerged, another man who was also worthy of being esteemed.
The desolate mountains were empty. Sometimes, the moon would be as bright as a mirror. Sometimes, the wind would be cold, and the rain would be bitter. This man had imparted his soul-chasing, life-taking sword skills to him, and had often told him stories of Xie Xiaofeng. Although this man had never even seen Xie Xiaofeng’s face, he understood Xie Xiaofeng more deeply than any other man in the world. Because his greatest goal in life was to defeat Xie Xiaofeng.
The words he had spoken, Tie Kaicheng had never forgotten.
Only a sincere, upright man whose heart was totally unburdened from guilt could possibly master the most incomparable sword skills in the world.
Xie Xiaofeng was such a man.
He never underestimated his opponents, which is why when he struck, he always did so with maximum force.
Based on this point alone, all practitioners of the sword should take him as their exemplar.
Although Tie Kaicheng’s hands were icy cold, his heart was raging hot. This opportunity he had now, to exchange blows with Xie Xiaofeng, was the proudest, most glorious moment of his life. He hoped that he would be able to achieve victory, to become famous world-wide, and to use Xie Xiaofeng’s blood to wash away the shame brought upon the Red Flag Escort Agency. But why was it that in the innermost depths of his heart, he was filled with respect and esteemed towards this man?
“Please.” Once this word was spoken, Tie Kaicheng’s sword had been pulled forth from the earth, striking forward with practiced skill. Naturally, he definitely would not dare to underestimate this opponent. He used all of his power with this strike.
The “Iron Banner’s Swift Blade” of the Tie family was famous all throughout the world. It consisted of a hundred and thirty two chain strikes, each strike more fierce than the last. With that single strike, he had immediately executed twenty one blows. This was precisely the first chain strike of the “Iron Banner’s Swift Blade”, the “Wild Bowstring Style”. Because when he executed these twenty one strikes, his opponent absolutely must use his sword to block.
When their swords met, the sound of it would be as though bowstrings snapped wildly. That is why this stance was known as the “Wild Bowstring Style.”
But now, when he struck out twenty one times, no sound could be heard at all. Because the opponent didn’t wield a sword at all. Only a black ribbon, which flashed brightly in the night.
A black ribbon which had originally been wrapped around the sword in the ground.
Xie Xiaofeng hadn’t drawn out the sword at all. He had only removed the black ribbon surrounding the sword’s hilt.
Hello! I hadn't read this novel of Gu Long because I thought no one will continue translating it. But I guess I was wrong.
Thank you to Kara for the original intend to translate this and Ren for continuing through this project! I will now read from chapter 1, lol.