Chapter 79 - A Righteous and Loyal Comraderie
GongSun Yu let out another roar as he crawled on top of his body, "We must have been wrong, he definitely didn't ..."
His voice died out again.
Another spear had been plunged into GongSun Yu's back!
The spear was pulled out. Under the dim light from the lanterns on the walls, there appeared to be a hazy mist in the tunnel.
A light pink mist.
A mist of blood!
Where twenty six people originally stood, sixteen had already fallen.
This bloody massacre didn't seem to be over yet. The stronger and weaker sides seemed to be even further apart now.
A medicine peddler who had about six wounds on him said in a husky voice, "Tie ChuanJia is already dead, let us leave this place!"
There were only three of them left in this losing battle. There really was no way that they could hold off any longer.
One of them who wielded an axe in his hand, a 'Mt. Hua Splitting' axe, gritted his teeth and said, "Second brother, should we retreat?"
The blind man replied, "Retreat? The 'Eight Righteous Ones of the Central Plains' would rather die before retreating. I'll strike down whoever mentions the word 'retreat' again!"
One of the men in yellow laughed and said, "Good! You've got some guts! Then today let us deliver on your death wish ..."
His voice was suddenly cut short as well. His eyes bulged out like a dead fish.
He died rather quietly, only a *GAAK* *GAAK* sound came from his throat.
His breath hadn't stopped, but he just couldn't finish his sentence. He tried with all his strength but not a single word would come out. Because protruding from his throat was what appeared to be a dagger.
A dagger seven inches long:
Little Li's flying dagger!
All movement suddenly stopped, everyone's eyes were fixed on that dagger!
No one knew where in the world that dagger had come from, but every single one of them knew who had arrived.
Everyone in that underground tunnel had their mouths drop wide open.
Li XunHuan was standing right before them.
But no one dared to turn their head to look at him, they feared that once they turned their head, that soul-searching life-taking dagger would suddenly appear in their throats.
They were all the most loyal and accomplished members of the 'Gold Currency Union', not a single one of them was a coward that feared for his life. But by now, they were all exhausted and weak, they had seen too much death and too much bloodshed.
This had already sapped them of much of their courage, and in addition, 'Little Li's flying dagger' was renowned throughout the world not just as a dagger, but as an almost demonic entity!
Now those four words became even more closely tied with the meaning of death.
Or perhaps only now did they truly understand the meaning of death.
The dead body of one of their companions laid at their feet.
Just a blink of an eye ago, he was still a living breathing human being.
Then, that dreadful dagger instantly turned him into a dead corpse.
His life suddenly became completely meaningless, before he could ever realize it.
Nothing else was more terrifying than this suddden change, what they feared was not death, but this horrifying apprehension.
The blind man suddenly said, "Li TanHua?"
Although he couldn't see a single thing nor did he hear any sound whatsoever, he could somehow sense Li XunHuan's presence, he could sense a terrifying killer aura.
"Yes." Li XunHuan replied.
The blind man let out a long sigh and slowly sat down.
Jin FengBai and the woodcutter followed as he did and slowly sat down as well. They sat down right in the pool of blood where GongSun Yu and Tie ChuanJia's bodies laid. By the looks of their eyes, they had seemingly sat down in another world.
In that world, there was no vengeance and there was no suffering.
Li XunHuan slowly walked over in front of the men in yellow.
His hands were empty, no dagger was in sight.
But it seemed as if there was a dagger in his eyes.
He stared at them and asked, "Where is the person that they brought with them?"
The men in yellow were are staring at their own feet.
Li XunHuan sighed and slowly said, "I don't want to force you, but I hope you all won't force me to either."
One of the men in yellow who stood across from him, whose face was full of cold sweat and whose body was trembling, suddenly asked, "Are you looking for Hunchback Sun?"
"Yes." Li XunHuan responded.
That man in yellow suddenly had a weird smile on his face and said loudly, "Fine! I'll take you to find him, just follow me!"
His weapon was a tiger-head hook, after that sentence was finished, his hand raised up. The tip of the hook penetrated into his own throat.
He could no longer withstand that horrifying apprehension. Death became his quickest way of escape.
As Li XunHuan watched his body fall to the floor, he slowly clenched his fists.
"Hunchback Sun was already dead!"
The death of that man in yellow was his reply!
But what about Lin ShiYin?
A hint of fear suddenly appeared in Li XunHuan's eyes. His eyes slowly moved up from the corpse as his pupils contracted.
Then, he suddenly heard Tie ChuanJia's voice. Sweat and blood was all over his face and covered his eyes. He could barely see and panted heavily and said, "Yi MingTang, Second Brother Yi ..."
The blind man whose expression was usually like stone started to twinge, he bit down on his teeth and answered, "I am here."
"Has ... has my debt been repaid?" Tie ChuanJia said.
"Your debt has been repaid." Yi MingTang said.
"There is one more thing that I want to say." Tie ChuanJia said.
"Speak." Yi MingTang said.
"Although I have wronged Brother Weng, I never betrayed him, I only ..." Tie ChuanJia said.
Yi MingTang interrupted him and said, "You don't have to say anymore, I understand."
He really did understand.
A person who betrayed his friends would never sacrifice his own life in such a situation.
Not only did Yi MingTang understand this, Jin FengBai and the woodcutter understood this as well.
It was a pity that they all realized too late.
Tears started to form in Yi MingTang's eyes, eys that had been blind for so many years.
Li XunHuan saw it, he saw it very clearly.
It was the first time that he realized that blind people were able to shed tears as well.
Warm tears were already flowing from his eyes.
Warm tears that fell onto the cold face of Tie ChuanJia. He knelt down and lightly wiped off the blood and sweat from Tie ChuanJia's face.
Tie ChuanJia finally opened his eyes, as soon as he saw Li XunHuan, he exclaimed, "Young master! Young master ... you really came!"
He was overcome with joy, he struggled to stand but kept collapsing back to the floor.
Li XunHuan knelt down beside him and said, "I have come, we will have plenty of time to talk later."
Tie ChuanJia struggled to shake his head as he said with a painful smile, "I can die now with no regrets, there is nothing else left for me to say."
Li XunHuan said with tears in his eyes, "But there are still things that you must say. The fact that you hadn't betrayed Brother Weng, why don't you clear everything up? Why did you avoid it for so long?"
"I avoided it not for my own sake." Tie ChuanJia said.
"Then for whom?" Li XunHuan asked.
Tie ChuanJia slowly shook his head from side to side.
His arms and legs were convulsing in pain, but the expression on his face remained calm and at ease, a gleeful smile formed from the corner of his lips.
His death was very peaceful.
One of the most difficult things to do in life is to die a peaceful death!
Li XunHuan knelt motionlessly beside him, his entire body fell numb.
He obviously knew who Tie ChuanJia had died for.
He had most likely arrived at Happy Cloud Manor before Li XunHuan and discovered ShangGuan JinHong's plans to ambush him and had followed them to this underground tunnel. If for any reason he knew that Li XunHuan was in danger, there wasn't a place that Tie ChuanJia wouldn't go to help him.
But how did he uncover ShangGuan JinHong's plot?
And what were the secrets between him and Weng TianJie, Brother Weng? That even in death he was unwilling to disclose?
"Just what are you hiding? Although you can die with no regrets, how can I ever rest peacefully not knowing how you came to this end?" Li XunHuan said sullenly.
"I think I know what he was hiding." Jin FengBai suddenly shouted.
"You ... you know?" Li XunHuan said.
Jin FengBai's face had always been dark and foreboding but now it was sickly green.
He gritted his teeth and said, "The friendship and loyalty that Brother Weng showed towards others was widely known, I'm sure you've heard about this as well."
"I have." Li XunHuan said.
"As long as it was from a friend, there wasn't a single request that he'd deny. And because of this, his expenses were always very great. But he wasn't like you, he didn't have a father who was an Imperial Magistrate." Jin FengBai said.
Li XunHuan smiled.
"So he was always in poverty. Somone who lived in poverty, but had many friends, and also demanded respect, would be forced to think up other ways to repay his debts." Jin FengBai said.
"Are you saying ... that Brother Weng engaged in illegal businesses?" the woodcutter said.
"Right, I had accidentally overheard about this. But I could never bear to reveal the truth, because everything that Brother Weng had done was out of necessity." Jin FengBai said.
He suddenly continued loudly, "But everyone who Brother Weng had taken advantage of must have had it coming to them and probably deserved it! Although what he did was take advantage and rip people off, it was never anything that went against his morals or his conscience."
"And what relation does Tie ChuanJia have with this matter?" Yi MingTang asked.
"After many deals, people had started investigating his business dealings. One of Tie ChuanJia's close friends turned out to be the inspector that was given this case. The two of them had long suspected Brother Weng, but weren't certain of his guilt.
"So that's probably why Tie ChuanJia befriended Brother Weng, so that he could investigate further and act upon finding evidence." the woodcutter said.
"I think that's what most likely happened." Jin FengBai said.
He continued, "Tie ChuanJia was unwilling to reveal this because Brother Weng had always been good to him. He soon came to regard Brother Weng as a good friend, there was no way that he'd reveal this to ruin Brother Weng's reputation after his death. So he took all the blame and false accusations upon himself. He really wasn't running away this whole time for his own sake."
"But why haven't you ever told us about this?" Yi MingTang said.
"Me ... ? How would you expect me to reveal this to everyone? Brother Weng had always been so generous and kind towards me. Even Tie ChuanJia was unwilling to reveal this, how could I ever bear to do it?" Jin FengBai said.
"Great! You really are a true friend of Brother Weng's. A true friend!" Yi MingTang said.
There was a cold smile on his face but his entire body was trembling.
"I know that it was really unfair to Tie ChuanJia but I had no other choice, I really had no other choice ..." Jin FengBai said.
His voice kept lowering as he spoke, he suddenly picked up a sabre, it was the same sabre that had just taken Tie ChuanJia's life. He turned it towards himself and plunged it into his chest at exactly the same place that the sabre had stabbed into Tie ChuanJia.
Although he was writhing in pain, he had the same type of smile on his face that Tie ChuanJia had earlier, "I really owed him too much, but now, at least that debt has been repaid in full!"
He died very peacefully as well ...
One of the most difficult things to do in life is to die a peaceful death.
Yi MingTang suddenly started laughing madly, "Excellent! You were brave enough to reveal the truth, and brave enough to repay this debt, you really are a true friend of mine! At least we 'Eight Righteous Ones of the Central Plains' never do anything that would disgrace ourselves!"
His laughter started to sound like a weeping cry.
The woodcutter suddenly knelt in front of Tie ChuanJia's body and bowed once, then he turned to Yi MingTang and said, "Second brother, I will go ahead first."
Yi MingTang's laughter abruptly stopped as he changed immediately to a cold and calm demeanor and said, "Okay, go on ahead."
"I'll be waiting for you." the woodcutter said.
His axe rose up, blood sprayed across the floor, he died even faster, and even more peacefully.
If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, Li XunHuan would've never believed that there people who were this unafraid of death.
There wasn't a trace of emotion on Yi MingTang's face as he turned to Li XunHuan and said, "I haven't left yet, because there is still something I must tell you."
Li XunHuan could only nod his head.
"You should've figured out by now that we had been hiding out here for a very long time, because we expected Tie ChuanJia to return here sooner or later, so there is much that we know about what happened." Yi MingTang said.
He slowly continued, "We knew about ShangGuan JinHong's plot from the very beginning. Long Xiao4Yun knew about it as well. I had always found it weird why you would befriend such a person."
Of course Li XunHuan had nothing to say to that either.
"Tie ChuanJia found out about this trap from Long Xiao4Yun, he had purposely leaked this information to him because he wanted to send Tie ChuanJia to his death. But he didn't anticipate that we would have followed him here because there was no way that we would allow Tie ChuanJia to die in the hands of someone else." Yi MingTang said.
He continued, "But concerning Madame ... Miss Lin ShiYin, she did not fall into harm's way, nor did she fall into ShangGuan JinHong's hands. If you pay a visit to Happy Cloud Manor, you will definitely be able to see her there."
Li XunHuan felt a warm surging feeling in his chest, was it gratitude? Or was it happiness?
"And now all enmities concerning us eight have been settled, I can only hope that you will bury all of us together. And if anyone should ask about the 'Eight Righteous Ones of the Central Plains', I only hope that you will tell them that although we had made mistakes during our lives, that we tried our best to right our wrongs in death." Yi MingTang said.
The remaining men in yellow had already quietly slipped away. Although Li XunHuan had seen them leave, he didn't bother to stop them.
Nor did he bother to stop Yi MingTang.
Because he knew that Yi MingTang really would not be able to live on.
As long as a person could die with his mind at ease, what else could he ask for?
Death meant nothing to them.
But now as Li XunHuan looked at the floor that was littered with corpses, he couldn't help but start shuddering, because he realized the brutality and horror of 'vengeance'.
No matter how deep that vengeance was, it had all been settled now.
Yi MingTang was perfectly correct, although they had made mistakes during their lives, they were able to die with honor, dignity, and a clear conscience.
There are few people in this world who are able to die as they did.
Li XunHuan's arms and legs were cold to the point of trembling now, the burning in his chest felt like fire.
He fell to his knees in a pool of their blood.
It was the blood of true men!
He calmly knelt there, he preferred the company of these dead men much more than the devious smiles of the living.
"A real man is unshaken by joy in life and unshaken by fear in death!" If a person can really die without regrets, then what is so frightening about death?
But it really is hard to die in such a way!
Sun XiaoHong hadn't stepped foot inside that place the entire time. It wasn't that she was afraid, but she couldn't bear to witness such a gory scene. She realized that men really were different from women.
She realized that being a woman was a blessing in its own way.
In the small shop, there was a single light and two people.
The light was very dim, their mood was even dimmer ...
The light lay in front of Li XunHuan. Wine also lay in front of Li XunHuan. But it seemed like he didn't even have the strength to lift his cup, all he could do was stare idly into it.
The flame danced and flickered.
After who knows how long, Li XunHuan finally let out a sigh and said, "Let's go."
"I ... am I coming with you?" Sun XiaoHong asked.
"We came together so of course we'll leave together." Li XunHuan responded.
"We're leaving? But aren't you going to pay a visit to Happy Cloud Manor?" Sun XiaoHong asked.
Li XunHuan shook his head.
"But wasn't the whole reason we came for was to go to Happy Cloud Manor?" Sun XiaoHong asked.
"There's no need to now." Li XunHuan replied.
"Why not?" Sun XiaoHong said.
He stared into the light and said, "Yi MingTang assured me that she is safe, that is enough for me."
"And you're relieved by simply hearing his words?" Sun XiaoHong said.
"He is the type of person who is definitely trustworthy." Li XunHuan said.
She blinked and asked, "But ... don't you want to see her?"
Li XunHuan fell silent and then slowly answered, "Seeing her will be like not seeing her. Since she is safe, there's no need for me to go."
"But since you're already here, would it hurt to just see her?" Sun XiaoHong said.
He fell silent again, then suddenly smiled and said, "I suddenly feel happy again. Since my mood has come back, it makes no difference whether I see her or not."
Sun XiaoHong sighed and smiled, "You really are a strange person, other people can never understand the things that you do."
"You'll understand sooner or later." Li XunHuan replied.
She stared dumbly at him for a few moments before saying, "But you should at least stay to ensure that they get a proper burial."
"They can wait, but ShangGuan JinHong can't." Li XunHuan said.
He smiled a very bittersweet smile and continued, "Dead people are much more patient than the living, wouldn't you say?"
End of Chapter 79