+ Reply to Thread
Page 4 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast
Results 61 to 80 of 119

Thread: Horizon, Bright Moon, Sabre(天涯, 明月, 刀)

  1. #61
    Member missouri.slim's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    127

    Default

    Hey, begging really does work!

    Missouri.slim

  2. #62
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    Too bad for FHX that the author wasn't Huang Yi. Otherwise he would have gotten to drink the milk directly...
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  3. #63
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 14: First Pay, Then Kill

    ONE

    Hu Kun stood next to the upper railing of the ‘Ascendant Immortal Teahouse’. He felt very satisfied with everything.

    This was a high class, elegant place. The decorations were beautiful, and the furnishings were exquisite, and every chair and table was made using excellent hardwood. The bowls and the cups were made from the famous Jingdezhen porcelain of Jiangnan.

    The clients who came here to drink tea and wine were, generally speaking, lofty and lordly people.

    Although the entrance fee here was at least twice as high as that of any other place, he knew that the customers here wouldn’t care, because that is the nature of ‘extravagance’.

    Normally, he always liked to stand here. He’d watched as these noble, lordly people walk about beneath him, always making him feel as though he were above all of them.

    Although he wasn’t even five feet tall, this gave him the feeling that he was a head taller than everybody else.

    Thus, he liked this sort of feeling.

    He also liked lofty, lordly matters, just like how he loved power.

    The only thing which irritated him slightly was that fearless Du Shiqi.

    When this person drank alcohol, he was fearless. When he was gambling, he was fearless. And when he was fighting, he was even more fearless, as though he really had nine lives.

    “Even if he does have nine lives, I definitely cannot allow him to live past the start of next month.”

    Unfortunately, he wasn’t really certain that he would be victorious.

    Whenever he thought of this, he would always feel a bit irritated. Fortunately, just at this moment, the person he was waiting for arrived.

    The person he was waiting for was named Tu Qing. He had spent over thirty thousand taels of silver to invite this man to come from the capital to kill Du Shiqi.

    The name ‘Tu Qing’ was not a very famous, well-recognized name in the martial world. This was because the things he did precluded him from becoming too famous.

    He didn’t want prestige. He wanted wealth.

    He specialized as an assassin-for-hire. The minimum price he accepted for any mission was at least thirty thousand taels of silver.

    This is an ancient, mysterious profession. A person in this profession being ostentatious or making a name for himself was a person who was breaking some cardinal rules.

    But within their own circle, Tu Qing was definitely a famous man, and the price he commanded was higher than that of others.

    Because he never failed to assassinate his target!

    Tu Qing was seven feet tall, dark-skinned and gaunt, with a bright pair of eyes that were as keen as a hawk’s.

    Although the clothes he wore were form-fitting and were made from the best of materials, they weren’t colorful at all.

    He had a cold, quiet attitude. In his hands, he carried a dark, grey bundle that was long and narrow.

    His hands were dry and steady.

    All of this was very much in keeping with his status, making others feel that no matter how high a price he charged, he was be worth it!

    Hu Kun appeared to be extremely satisfied as well.

    Tu Qing found a seat in a corner and sat down. He didn’t even raise his head up to take a single look.

    His movements needed to be clandestine and secretive. He definitely could not allow others to notice any hint of a relationship between himself and Hu Kun. Even less could he allow others to find out what he was here for.

    Hu Kun let out a breath. Just as he was about to return to the secret room behind him to drink two cups of celebratory wine, he suddenly saw a pale-faced man walk in. His walking posture was extremely bizarre and unusual, and he tightly gripped a sabre in his hand.

    A pitch-black sabre! The sabre was still sheathed, but he himself seemed like a naked blade, ruthless and sharp.

    His eyes were like the edges of a sabre as well. He glanced around the room, then his gaze fixed onto Tu Qing. Tu Qing lowered his head, drinking his tea.

    There was a cold sneer playing across the lips of this stranger. He found a seat nearby and sat down.

    Suddenly, with a cracking sound, an excellent wooden chair cracked underneath his weight.

    He wrinkled his forehead as he supported himself with one hand on the table. Again, with a sudden cracking sound, that wooden table, worth at least twenty silver taels, was shattered into many fragments.

    By now, anyone could tell that he came here to cause trouble!

    Hu Kun’s pupils were contracting.

    Can it be that this person had also been invited here from outside, except by Du Shiqi to deal with him?

    His bodyguards and hired thugs were just about to charge out, but with a gesture, Hu Kun stopped them.

    He could already tell that this stranger definitely could not be handled by the likes of them!

    Since Tu Qing had arrived, why not use this opportunity to display his skills?

    Hu Kun was a businessman, a very intelligent businessman. Whenever he spent even a single ingot of silver, he’d expect to earn itself back.

    In addition, perhaps this stranger hadn’t come here for him. Perhaps he had come here for Tu Qing.

    This stranger was, of course, Fu Hongxue.

    Tu Qing was still drinking tea, his head lowered.

    Fu Hongxue suddenly walked to him. He coldly said, “Stand up.”

    Tu Qing didn’t move. He didn’t speak either. But a majority of the other customers had already quietly slipped away by now.

    Fu Hongxue repeatedly himself. “Stand up.”

    Tu Qing finally lifted up his head. He seemed to have just noticed this man. “It’s more comfortable to sit than to stand. Why should I stand up?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because I like your chair.”

    Tu Qing looked at him. He slowly put down his tea, slowly stretched out his hand, picking up the bundle on the table.

    The bundle was, without a doubt, filled with his weapons.

    Hu Kun’s hands tightened. His heart rate suddenly sped up.

    He liked to watch people kill other people. He also liked to watch people bleed.

    Over the past five years, there hadn’t been many things that could excite him; not even women did the trick. Killing people was the very last thing which could stimulate him. But he was disappointed.

    Tu Qing rose to his feet. He picked up his bundle, then quietly stepped aside. He always acted in a very careful, prudent manner. Naturally, he wouldn’t make any moves in front of so many people.

    Hu Kun suddenly said, “Today, my humble shop will close early. Aside from those who have business with me, everyone else, please leave.” Thus, those who wanted to watch the fun had to leave. Suddenly, only two people were left in the main hall. Tu Qing continued to sip his tea, head lowered. Fu Hongxue’s head was raised, and he was staring at Hu Kun, stationed at the upper flowered railing.

    Hu Kun said, “You have business with me?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You are Hu Kun?”

    Hu Kun nodded. He smirked. “If Du Shiqi told you to come here to kill me, you’ve found the right person.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “If you are looking for someone to kill Du Shiqi, you’ve found the right person as well.”

    Hu Kun was obviously caught off guard. “You?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I don’t look like a killer?”

    Hu Kun said, “You two have a feud?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “It isn’t necessary to be feuding with someone to kill them.”

    Hu Kun said, “Why do you usually kill people?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “To make myself happy.”

    Hu Kun said, “What does it take to make you happy?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “A few tens of thousands of taels of silver usually make me happy.”

    Light shone in Hu Kun’s eyes. “I can make you happy. Will you go kill Du Shiqi for me today?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I’ve heard it said that you aren’t a very stingy person.”

    Hu Kun said, “Are you certain you can kill him?” Fu Hongxue said, “I can guarantee that he won’t live beyond the start of the next month.”

    Hu Kun laughed. “I am very happy to help my friends be happy as well. Only, I’m afraid you came a bit too late.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You already found someone else?”

    Hu Kun glanced at Tu Qing out of the corner of his eye, smiled, and nodded.

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “If he’s the man you found, then you found the wrong man.”

    Hu Kun said, “Oh?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Dead men can’t kill anybody.”

    Hu Kun said, “He’s a dead man?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “If he isn’t a dead man, he should have killed me by now.”

    Hu Kun said, “Why?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because if you can’t make me happy, I’ll definitely go seek out Du Shiqi.”

    Hu Kun said, “If you seek out Du Shiqi, you’ll tell him to be on guard against him.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I will help Du Shiqi kill him.”

    Hu Kun said, “First kill him, then kill me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “If Du Shiqi is alive, then you must die.”

    Hu Kun said, “Thus, he should kill you right now.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Unfortunately, a dead man can’t kill anybody!”

    Hu Kun let out a sigh, then turned towards Tu Qing. “Did you hear what he just said?”

    Tu Qing said, “I’m not deaf.”

    Hu Kun said, “Then why don’t you kill him?”

    Tu Qing said, “I’m not happy.”

    Hu Kun said, “What will it take to make you happy?”

    Tu Qing said, “Fifty thousand taels.”

    Hu Kun appeared startled. “Du Shiqi only costs thirty thousand taels, but he costs fifty thousand?”

    Tu Qing said, “Du Shiqi doesn’t know me. He knows me!”

    Hu Kun said, “Therefore, you can ambush Du Shiqi, but you cannot ambush him.”

    Tu Qing said, “In addition, he’s holding a sabre. So my risk is greater.”

    Hu Kun said, “But you are still certain that you can kill him.”

    Tu Qing coldly said, “I’ve never missed the mark on my target!”

    Hu Kun let out a sigh. “Fine. Kill him. I’ll give you fifty thousand taels.”

    Tu Qing said, “Pay first, then kill.”

    TWO

    Brand new thousand-tael bank notes, a total of fifty of them.

    Tu Qing counted them twice, as though he were a miser. He wet his fingers with his saliva as he counted, then wrapped them up in a square cloth and stored them in the money pouch hanging off his belt.

    Money which was earned through blood and sweat is always especially precious. Although he rarely sweated while earning money, he often shed blood.

    Blood is naturally more valuable than sweat!

    Fu Hongxue coldly watched him, no expression on his face at all. But Hu Kun smiled, and suddenly said, “You must be a very rich man already.”

    Tu Qing didn’t deny it.

    Hu Kun said, “You are married.”

    Tu Qing shook his head.

    Hu Kun’s smile became even more friendly. “Why don’t you store the money here with me? I’ll give you interest, three percent interest.”

    Tu Qing shook his head again.

    Hu Kun said, “You aren’t willing? Can it be that you distrust me?”

    Tu Qing coldly said, “The only person I trust is myself.”

    He patted his money pouch. “All of my money is here. There’s only one way it can be taken!”

    Hu Kun naturally did not dare to ask, but the look in his eyes as good as asked, “What way?”

    Tu Qing said, “By killing me!”

    He stared at Hu Kun. “This belongs to whoever kills me. Would you like to give it a try?”

    Hu Kun laughed. His laughter was very forced. “You know I won’t try, because…”

    Tu Qing coldly said, “Because you don’t have that much courage.”

    He suddenly turned towards Fu Hongxue. “How about you? If I kill you, is there anything which you will leave behind for me?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Only a lesson.”

    Tu Qing said, “What lesson?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Don’t keep the weapon with which you kill people wrapped inside a bundle. A person who intends to kill others, as well as a person who is about to be killed, is impatient. They won’t wait for you to unwrap your bundle.”

    Tu Qing said, “That is a very good lesson. I will keep it in my mind at all times.”

    He suddenly laughed. “Actually, I’m also an impatient sort of person. If I had to unwrap my bundle in order to kill people, I’d go crazy with impatience.”

    He finally stretched out his hands and unwrapped his bundle. What sort of weapon was in that bundle?

    Hu Kun really wanted to see what weapon he used. His gaze unconsciously affixed itself upon it.

    Who would have thought that before the bundle was unwrapped, Tu Qing already made his move. His weapons for killing weren’t hidden within the bundle. His entire body, from top to bottom, was covered with weapons. With a clinging sound, seven cold rays of light shot out from his waist and his clothes. From the back of his collar shot out three flowery crossbow bolts. Two iron lotus flowers flew out from his hands. Two sharp knives shot out from the tip of his boots as well.

    * [An iron lotus flower is an ancient Chinese weapon which looks like a flying claw; a flexible metal chain attached to an iron claw.]

    As soon as the hidden projectile weapons flew out, he jumped up into the air, both legs striking out in rapid succession. In the blink of an eye, he had used four different types of lethal weapons. That eye-grabbing bundle of his was still placed on the table. This was truly outside of other people’s expectations. Even Hu Kun was greatly shocked. This technique alone was worth him spending fifty thousand taels of silver for.

    He was certain that Tu Qing wouldn’t miss his mark this time either. But he was wrong, because he did not know that this pallid faced stranger was Fu Hongxue.

    Fu Hongxue had already pulled out his sabre.

    A sabre without equal in all the world. Unimaginable, unthinkable sabre techniques.

    No matter how vile the hidden projectile might be, or how devious the plot, once they met with this sabre, it was as though ice and snow had met the sunlight.

    A flash of sabre light. A series of light clinking sounds, like small golden bells being sounded. All the hidden projectiles in the air fell to the floor. Every single one of them had been cut in half, right down the middle. Even a master craftsman using a carving knife to slowly whittle away at them might not be able to make such neat, perfect cuts.

    Only after the sabre light disappeared could the blood be seen. Blood, flowing down from the face!

    Tu Qing’s face.

    A sabre cut had been left on his face, carving down from the middle of his eyebrows, all the way down to his nose. If thirty percent more force had been used in that chop, without question his head would have been split in two as well.

    The sabre was already sheathed again.

    Fresh blood flowed down from his nose. It entered his mouth, tasting hot, salty, and bitter. Every single muscle on Tu Qing’s face had become contorted with pain, but his body didn’t move. He knew that his career as an assassin had just come to an end.

    This was a secretive line of work. One must silently, invisibly kill his target, then silently, invisibly disappear.

    Nobody who had such a sabre wound on his face could be suited for this line of work.

    Fu Hongxue stared at the sabre wound. He suddenly waved his hand. “You, go.”

    Tu Qing’s lips were twitching as well. “Where shall I go?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “So long as you don’t kill others, you can go anywhere you wish.”

    Tu Qing said, “You…why aren’t you killing me?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You insisted on fifty thousand taels before you would kill me. For me to kill you, I would at least demand fifty thousand taels as well.”

    He coldly continued, “I’ve never killed for free either.”

    Tu Qing said, “But I have more than merely fifty thousand taels on me. If you killed me, they would belong to you.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “That’s another matter entirely. I adhere to the same rule; first get paid, then kill.”

    Rules are founded on principles.

    Regardless of the nature of one’s profession, if one wishes to be successful, one must follow their principles.

    Tu Qing no longer opened his mouth. He silently removed two stacks of bank notes from his money pouch, a total of fifty notes.

    Once again, he carefully counted the notes twice, then placed them on the table. Lifting his head up, he glanced at Hu Kun. “This is still yours.”

    Hu Kun was coughing.

    Tu Qing said, “You can give him fifty thousand taels and tell him to kill me.”

    Hu Kun suddenly stopped coughing. “How much more do you have on you?”

    Tu Qing closed his mouth.

    Hu Kun stared at him. Light shone in his eyes.

    Tu Qing had already lifted up the bundle on the table, and was slowly heading out!

    Hu Kun suddenly said loudly, “Kill him, I’ll pay fifty thousand taels.”

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “If you want to kill this person, you have to make the move yourself.”

    Hu Kun asked, “Why?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because he is already injured. He no longer has the capability to defend himself.”

    Hu Kun’s two hands tightened on the railing. With a thudding sound, three flying daggers slammed into the wooden railing.

    The flying daggers came from Tu Qing’s bundle. The bundle was filled with weapons as well.

    Tu Qing coldly said, “I never kill people for free, but for you, I am willing to break this rule and make an exception. Do you want to try me?”

    Hu Kun’s face had changed long ago.

    He really could not guess how many more weapons remained in the bundle, and how many more remained on Tu Qing’s person!

    But he could already tell that regardless of what type of hidden projectiles Tu Qing might use, all that Tu Qing needed was a single one in order to kill him.

    Tu Qing finally left. As he reached the doorway, he suddenly turned around and stared at Fu Hongxue, then stared at Fu Hongxue’s sabre. It was as though he had never seen a person like this, never seen a sabre like this.

    He suddenly asked, “Your honorable surname?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “My surname is Fu.”

    Tu Qing said, “Fu Hongxue.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Correct.”

    Tu Qing lightly sighed. “Actually, I should have thought of the possibility that it was you long ago.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “But you didn’t think?”

    Tu Qing said, “I didn’t dare to think.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Didn’t dare?”

    Tu Qing said, “If a person thinks too much, he won’t kill people anymore.”

    It was dark outside already. There were no stars, no moon. As soon as Tu Qing left, he disappeared into the darkness.

    Hu Kun let out a long sigh, then mumbled to himself, “Why didn’t you kill him? Aren’t you afraid that he will reveal your secret?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I have no secret.”

    Hu Kun said, “Are you no longer interested in killing Du Shiqi?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Killing people isn’t a secret.”

    Hu Kun let out a sigh. “There are eighty thousand taels worth of bank notes on the table. Kill Du Shiqi, and they will be yours.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “First pay, then kill.”

    Hu Kun forced out a laugh. “You can take them away now.”

    Fu Hongxue took the bank notes, also counting them twice, before slowly asking, “Do you know where Du Shiqi is right now?”

    Hu Kun naturally knew. “In order to discover his whereabouts, I’ve spent fifteen thousand taels.”

    Fu Hongxue lightly said, “Killing someone was always a very wasteful thing.”

    Hu Kun let out a sigh. He watched as he put the bank notes into his clothes, then suddenly asked, “Killing people isn’t a secret?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “No!”

    Hu Kun said, “You aren’t afraid of killing in front of a multitude of people?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Killing can be done at any place.”

    Hu Kun laughed, he really laughed. “Then you can go find him right now.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Where is he?”

    Hu Kun narrowed his eyes. “Going all out.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Going all out?”

    Hu Kun said, “Going all out, gambling-wise, alcohol-wise. I can only hope that he hasn’t yet lost everything, and that he hasn’t yet drunk himself to death.”

    THREE

    Not only was Du Shiqi winning, he was very sober as well.

    Whenever a person is winning, he is always very sober. Only losers will be muddle-headed.

    He was in the middle of shuffling the cards.

    Thirty two wooden domino cards. Each and every one, he seemed to control. Even the dice seemed to be obeying his commands.

    He wasn’t playing any tricks or using any sleight of hand. When a person’s gambling luck came upon him, there is no need at all to cheat.

    Earlier, he had used a ‘long thirteen’ card and taken money from everyone at the table. By now, it seemed as though he had won twenty thousand taels. Originally, he definitely could have won some more.

    Unfortunately, the people playing with him had gradually diminished, because everyone’s money-pouch was now empty.

    He hoped that one or two fresh faces would enter. Just at this moment, he saw a stranger with an ashen face walk in.

    Fu Hongxue was watching him shuffle the cards. His hands were enormous and very strong.

    Du Shiqi took the part of the bank again. Out of four hands, he won everybody’s money on two of them, but only made a total of two hundred or so taels.

    Everybody else at his table seemed to be without vitality already.

    In a casino, money is blood. How could people without blood have vitality?

    Did this stranger with such a pale face have a flourishing flow of blood in his veins?

    Du Shiqi suddenly raised up his head and smiled at him. “Friend, would you like to play a few rounds as well?”

    Fu Hongxue coldly stared at him. “Just one hand.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Only one hand? Victory or defeat, to be determined in one hand, then?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Right!”

    Du Shiqi laughed. “Great! Only this sort of gambling is really fun.”

    He straightened his waist. All of the joints in his body immediately cracked, and all of the muscles underneath his robe moved hither and to without stopping.

    This was the result of eighteen years of bitter training!

    He was eight feet, two inches tall. He had large shoulders, but a slender waist. Supposedly, he could snap a cow’s head with one head. Everyone who saw him couldn’t help but gaze upon him with awe and veneration, as though they were officials gazing upon the emperor.

    The eighty bank notes had already been taken out. Brand new bank notes, in a pale white hand.

    Du Shiqi said, “How much do you have?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Eighty thousand.”

    Du Shiqi let out a light breath. His eyes were so bright, it was as though two torches had been lit in them. “Eighty thousand taels on one hand?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Regardless of who wins, only one hand.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Unfortunately, I don’t have that much.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “No harm.”

    Du Shiqi said, “By no harm, do you mean that isn’t a problem?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Du Shiqi laughed. “Did you steal this money? Is that why you don’t care?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “They weren’t stolen. They were used to purchase a life!”

    Du Shiqi said, “Whose life?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Yours!”

    The smile on Du Shiqi’s face froze. Everybody nearby had clenched their fists. Some had clenched their sabres.

    But Fu Hongxue didn’t even glance at him. “If I lose, these eighty thousand taels are yours. If you lose, you must leave with me.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Why must I leave with you?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because I don’t want to kill you here.”

    Du Shiqi laughed again, but his laughter was very forced. “If you lose, are you still going to kill me?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “No matter what, I must kill you.”

    Du Shiqi said, “What you seem to be saying is that regardless of who wins, we’ll still stake our lives and fight each other. Only, there are too many people here, all of whom are my people, and so you want to fight elsewhere.”

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “I don’t want to kill too many people.”

    Du Shiqi laughed. “You seem to be certain that you can kill me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “If I wasn’t certain, why would I come?”

    Du Shiqi laughed loudly.

    Fu Hongxue said, “Eighty thousand taels of silver can be used for many things. After you die, your friends and brothers can use them!”

    Suddenly, a knife chopped out from behind them, aimed at the back of his head.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t leave, but Du Shiqi had already seized the hand wielding that knife.

    With a clanging sound, the knife dropped to the floor. With a cracking sound, the blade of the knife split.

    Du Shiqi’s face sunk. In a fierce voice, he said, “This affair has nothing to do with any of you. You are only allowed to watch, not to interfere.”

    No one dared to move.

    Du Shiqi laughed again. “You are all my good brothers. First watch me win these eighty thousand taels of silver.”

    With one pull, he tugged open his jacket, revealing his copper-like chest. “How shall we gamble?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You choose!”

    Du Shiqi said, “We’ll play Pai Gow. One flip of the cards, two eyes staring at it. This way is the best.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Fine.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Shall we still use this set of cards?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Du Shiqi blinked his eyes. “Do you know how many matches I’ve won with this set of domino cards?”

    Fu Hongxue shook his head.

    Du Shiqi said, “I’ve won over sixty hands. My luck is extremely good with this set of domino cards.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Even the best of luck will have to turn at some point.”

    Du Shiqi stared at him. “You are self-assured when it comes to killing. You are certain of winning in gambling as well?”

    Fu Hongxue lightly said, “If I wasn’t certain, why would I gamble?”

    Du Shiqi laughed loudly. “This time, you’re wrong. When it comes to gambling, not even divinities can be certain. In the past, I’ve also seen many people like you who were certain of winning. By now, they’ve all so lost so much that they’ve hung themselves.”

    The thirty two domino cards were divided into four rows, with eight cards in each row.

    Du Shiqi pushed out one row. “There’s only the two of us gambling, and both of us are starting with a blank slate.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I understand.”

    Du Shiqi said, “So we should gamble with four cards.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Fine.”

    Du Shiqi pushed forwards four cards with two fingers. “If the dice roll is odd, the first set of cards is yours.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You shuffled the cards. I’ll roll the dice.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Fine.”

    Fu Hongxue picked up the dice. Casually, he tossed them out.

    Seven. Odd.

    Du Shiqi said, “I’ll take the second set.”

    Two sets of wooden domino cards. With a cracking sound, they came together, then separated.

    Light shone in Du Shiqi’s eyes. A smile appeared on his lips. His friends all let out a breath as well.

    Everyone could tell that he had a very good set of cards.

    Fu Hongxue only coldly said, “You lose.”

    Du Shiqi said, “How do you know that I’ve lost? Do you know what cards I am holding?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You have a ‘heaven’ card, and a ‘human’ card, forming a ‘Heaven’s Bar’.”

    Astonished, Du Shiqi stared at him. “Did you look at your own cards?”

    Fu Hongxue shook his head. “I don’t need to look. My cards form a ‘Mixed Five’.”

    Du Shiqi couldn’t help but reveal his cards. He really did have a ‘Mixed Five’.

    ‘Mixed Five’ just so happened to defeat ‘Heaven’s Bar’.

    Du Shiqi was stunned. Everyone was stunned.

    And then, there was a commotion. “This brat must have cheated. He marked the cards.”

    Fu Hongxue smirked. “Who do these cards belong to?”

    Du Shiqi said, “Mine.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Have I touched the cards at all?”

    Du Shiqi said, “No.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Then how could I have cheated?”

    Du Shiqi let out a sigh. He smiled bitterly. “You didn’t cheat. I’ll go with you.”

    Another commotion.

    Those who gripped their daggers earlier wanted to use their sabres again. Those clenching their fists once more wanted to punch out.

    Du Shiqi said in a fearsome voice, “Although I’ve lost at gambling money, I haven’t lost yet in gambling lives. What are you guys kicking up a racket about?”

    The disturbance immediately calmed. No one dared to open their mouths.

    Du Shiqi laughed again, and his laughter was still very cheerful. “Actually, you should all know that I definitely won’t lose when it comes to gambling lives.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You are certain of yourself?”

    Du Shiqi smiled. “Even if I’m not certain, I have nine lives. At most, you can only take one away.”

    FOUR

    No stars. No moon. No lanterns.

    Du Shiqi suddenly let out a sigh. “Actually, I don’t have nine lives. I don’t have a single life at all.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    Du Shiqi said, “My life is already Yan Nanfei’s.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You know who I am?”

    Du Shiqi nodded. “I owe him a life, and he owes you a life. I’m willing to pay you back for him.”

    He stopped for a moment. His face was still carrying a smile. “I only hope you’ll let me know one thing.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “What is it?”

    Du Shiqi said, “How did you recognize the cards?”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t directly respond. Instead, he asked, “Do you know that every person has a fingerprint on their fingers?”

    Du Shiqi said, “Yes, I do. Some have ‘circle’ fingerprints, other have ‘whorl’ fingerprints.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Do you know that no two fingerprints are alike in all the world?”

    Du Shiqi did not know that.

    At that time, nobody knew things like that.

    He bitterly laughed, “I rarely look at people’s hands, especially men’s hands.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Even if you often look at other’s hands, you wouldn’t be able to tell. The differences are very minute.”

    Du Shiqi said, “But you can tell?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Even if two biscuits were made using the very exact same mould, I would be able to tell them apart.”

    Du Shiqi sighed. “That must be a natural talent.”

    Fu Hongxue dully said, “Right. It is a natural talent. Only, this is a natural talent that was practiced in a secret room without the slightest hint of light.”

    Du Shiqi said, “How long did you train for?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I only practiced for seventeen years, for only six to ten hours a day.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Did you train your sabre skills in the same way?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “When you are training your eyesight, you must always grip your sabre. Otherwise, you will fall asleep.”

    Du Shiqi forced out a laugh. “Only now do I realize the true meaning of the words ‘natural talent’.”

    The real meaning of ‘natural talent’ is ‘bitter training’. Bitter training without pause.

    Fu Hongxue said, “That set of dominoes was made using wood, and the wood had its own grainy patterns. Every single pattern was different. I watched you shuffle the cards twice. There isn’t a single one of those thirty two cards which I don’t recognize.”

    Du Shiqi said, “But if that set of dice came out odd, wouldn’t you have lost?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “That set of dice definitely wouldn’t have come out odd.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Why?”

    Fu Hongxue dully said, “Because I am a natural talent at casting dice as well.”

    They had already arrived at the end of the long alleyway. The streets outside were even darker.

    The night was now very deep.

    Fu Hongxue suddenly jumped onto a roof, the highest roof. Every dark nook and cranny was within his eyesight.

    He didn’t kill people for others to watch. This couldn’t be seen by others either.

    Du Shiqi finally caught up with him. “What, exactly, do you want me to do?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I want you to die!”

    Du Shiqi said, “You really want me to die?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You are already a dead man.”

    Du Shiqi didn’t understand.

    Fu Hongxue said, “Starting now, you need to be dead for at least a year.”

    Du Shiqi thought for a while. It seemed as though he somewhat understood, but still didn’t fully understand.

    Fu Hongxue said, “I’ve even prepared the coffin for you. It’s at the graveyard just outside of the city.”

    Du Shiqi blinked. “Are there some other things in the coffin?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “There’s three other people.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Three people?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “But many people don’t want for them to continue on living.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Are you going to make sure that they continue to live?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded. “So I must help them find a safe, secret place. I cannot let anyone find them.”

    Du Shiqi’s gaze slowly brightened. “And so I’ll take the coffin back and arrange a glorious funeral for myself.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You must die, because no one will think to ask a dead man about their whereabouts.”

    Du Shiqi said, “In addition, you’re the one who killed me. Everyone will believe that you made an arrangement with Hu Kun, that you will kill me in exchange for him protecting them.”

    By now, he finally understood. This was actually a simple matter. Only, Fu Hongxue was executing it in a very complicated way.

    Fu Hongxue said, “I must be extremely cautious. They are simply too sinister and evil.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Who, exactly, are ‘they’?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Yang Wuji, Xiao Siwu, Gongsun Tu, and a ‘Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch’.”

    He didn’t say Gongzi Yu’s name. He didn’t want to shock Du Shiqi too much.

    But the names of these four men was already more than enough to shock even someone with eight times as much courage as an ordinary ma.

    Du Shiqi gazed fixedly at him. “They want to deal with you. Naturally, you won’t let them off easy either.”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t deny that either.

    Du Shiqi suddenly let out a sigh. “I’m not afraid of them, because I’m already a dead man. A dead man need fear no one. But you…”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t deny it.

    Du Shiqi said, “After you handle the affairs here, are you going to go find them?”

    He looked at Fu Hongxue, then looked at that black sabre. He suddenly chuckled. “Perhaps the one who should be afraid isn’t you, but them. One year from today, perhaps they will all be dead men as well.”

    Fu Hongxue’s gaze was distant. His person seemed to be distant as well.

    All around them was darkness, far off into the distance.

    After a long time, he slowly said, “Sometimes, I wish I had nine lives as well. To deal with people like them, one life really is too few.”

    FIVE

    A bleak and desolate mountain valley. Barren and infertile soil.

    There were only ten or so households in the mountain village. At the base of the mountain there was a small house, with a bamboo and chrysanthemum garden.

    From far away, Du Shiqi looked at the chrysanthemums beneath the bamboo stand. His eyes seemed to be filled with tenderness.

    Once he arrived here, it seemed as though he had turned into one of the honest, unsophisticated farmers.

    It seemed as though Fu Hongxue’s heart was sighing with emotion as well.

    He just left the small house. Zhuo Yuzhen and the children were sleeping.

    Sleep peacefully. There’s definitely no one who will find you here.

    What about you? Are you leaving?

    I’m not leaving. I’ll be staying here a few days as well.

    He very rarely lied, but this time he really did lie.

    He couldn’t not lie, because he couldn’t not leave. Since he must leave, why cause unnecessary pain?

    Fu Hongxue lightly sighed. “This is a good place. A person who is able to peacefully live out his life here must be a person of great bliss indeed.”

    Du Shiqi squeezed out a smile. “I grew up here. Originally, I could have been a very blissful person as well.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Then, why did you leave?”

    Du Shiqi was silent. After a long time, he suddenly asked, “Did you see those chrysanthemums beneath that patch of bamboo?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Du Shiqi said, “A little girl planted it. A little girl with big eyes and long hair.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Where is she now?”

    Du Shiqi did not reply. He did not need to reply. The tears in his eyes spoke everything on his behalf.

    The chrysanthemums were still there, but the one who had planted them was gone.

    After another long period of time, he slowly said, “Actually, I should have come here to keep her company long ago. She must have been very lonely these past few years.”

    When people died, would they still be as lonely as before?

    Fu Hongxue took out that stack of bank notes. He gave them to Du Shiqi. “Hu Kun wanted to use these to purchase your life. No matter how you all use it, you need have no regrets.”

    Du Shiqi said, “Why don’t you give them to her personally? Are you leaving now?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Du Shiqi said, “Aren’t you going to bid her farewell?”

    Fu Hongxue dully said, “Since I am going to leave, why say farewell?”

    Du Shiqi said, “For you to have done so much for her, she must be very dear to you. At least, you should…”

    Fu Hongxue interrupted him. “You’ve done many things for me, but you aren’t a dear one to me.”

    Du Shiqi said, “But I am a friend.”

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “I have no dear ones, and I have no friends.”

    The sun was setting in the west. It was sunset again.

    Fu Hongxue strode beneath the setting sun. His footsteps did not stop, but grew slower, as though he had suddenly begun carrier a heavy burden on his shoulder.

    Did he really have no dear ones, no friends?

    Du Shiqi saw his solitary back disappear into the distance. He suddenly loudly said, “I forgot to tell you something. Hu Kun is dead already. He was hung to death by someone with a rope at the top banister of the ‘Ascendant Immortal Teahouse’.”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t turn his head. “Who killed him?”

    Du Shiqi said, “Don’t know. Nobody knows. I only know that the person who killed him left behind two sentences.”

    Those two sentences were left behind using fresh blood: “This is my first time killing someone for free. It is also the last time I kill someone.”

    The setting sun became even dimmer, but Fu Hongxue’s eyes suddenly shone with light.

    Tu Qing finally put down his knife. His butcher’s knife.

    If this sort of person made up his mind about something, he definitely would not change.

    But I…don’t I, too, hold a butcher’s knife in my hand? When can I put it down?

    Fu Hongxue tightly gripped his sabre. The light in his eyes dimmed.

    He couldn’t put down this sabre yet. If people such as Gongsun Tu were still alive in the world, he couldn’t put down this sabre!

    He definitely could not!
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  4. #64
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Minor note; could a mod change the 'Horzion' to 'Horizon'? It's been bugging me. And chowbeng, if you have a chance, could you add my translations to your first page? Thanks!
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  5. #65
    Moderator Han Solo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    5,562

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    Minor note; could a mod change the 'Horzion' to 'Horizon'? It's been bugging me. And chowbeng, if you have a chance, could you add my translations to your first page? Thanks!
    Done.

    Han Solo
    Wuxiapedia

    Quote Originally Posted by bliss
    I think they're probably at the same level as or one level below Ah Qing, which is about the level of a 2nd or 3rd generation Quan Zhen disciple.
    Troll Control

  6. #66
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    190

    Default

    [misquote]
    He couldnt put down this translation yet. If people such as Gongsun Tu were still alive in the world, he couldnt put down this translation!

    He definitely could not![/misquote]


  7. #67
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 15: The Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon

    ONE

    High noon. Sunlight filled the sky.

    When Fu Hongxue left the inn, he felt as though his spirit was reinvigorated, and that he was capable of dealing with any problems or dangers.

    He had slept for an entire day, then rested in a warm bath for an hour. His exhaustion, accumulated over many days, had been washed clean like the dirt and grime.

    Over the past few years, he had very rarely pulled out his sabre. He felt that using the sabre to solve problems wasn’t necessarily the best way to handle things.

    But now his thinking had changed, and so he had to stir himself to vigor.

    Because not only was killing very extravagant and wasteful, it was also something which required sufficient energy and vitality.

    Right now, although he didn’t know where those people were, he was confident that he would definitely find clues to their whereabouts.

    Zheng Jin was a woodcutter, twenty one years of age, unmarried, and lived in a small wooden cabin in the mountains. Every day, he only left the mountain once, to exchange dry firewood for salt, rice, fatty meat, and alcohol. Once in a while, he would also go to one of the dark alleyways of the city to find a cheap, low-cost girl.

    The firewood he cut was always sold to the teahouses by the major avenues. His firewood was both dry and cheap, and so the teahouse managers would always keep him for some tea before letting him leave. Sometimes he himself would buy a kettle of wine as well.

    Even when he drank, though, he rarely opened his mouth. He wasn’t a very talkative person.

    But on this rainy day, he was very fond of telling a story, the same story each time. He had told it at least twenty or thirty times.

    Every time he told the story, he would always emphasis this at the beginning: “This is an absolutely true story. I witnessed it myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it either.”

    The story happened three days ago, at noon. It started from the flash of sabre light which he saw within the forest.

    “Even in your dreams, you could never have imagined that there was such a sabre. With just a flash of sabre light, a vigorous and flourishing horse was suddenly chopped into two halves.”

    “I saw a young man who looked like he was a playboy from a rich family, with a sword as bright red as fresh blood. No matter who he touched with his sword, that person would immediately fall down.”

    “He also had a friend, with a pale face and black hair. His face was so white, it looked translucent.”

    “This man was even more fearsome…”

    Although he had told the same story over twenty or thirty times, he still told the story with gusto, and the listeners still heard the story with relish.

    But this time, he actually shut his mouth before he finished the story, because he suddenly realized that the ashen-faced man was standing right in front of him. A pair of eyes, as sharp as a knife blade, were staring at him.

    A pitch-black sabre. A pair of lightning-like eyes. A rain of blood which shot out like arrows…

    Zheng Jin only felt his stomach began to contract and twitch again, as though he was almost about to begin vomiting anew.

    He wanted to flee, but his two legs just so happened to go soft.

    Fu Hongxue watched him coldly. He suddenly said, “Continue.”

    Zheng Jin forced a smile to his face. “Continue…continue what?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “That day, what did you see happen after I left?”

    Zheng Jin wiped away his sweat. “I saw many things, but I didn’t see anything clearly.”

    He wasn’t totally lying. At the time, he really was so frightened that he almost fainted.

    Fu Hongxue only wanted to know one thing. “What happened to that man who wielded the red sword?”

    Zheng Jin replied very quickly this time. “He died.”

    Fu Hongxue’s hands tightened, and his heart sank. His entire body was already ice cold. Only after a long time did he open his mouth again. “How did he die? Who killed him?”

    Zheng Jin said, “Originally, he wasn’t going to die. After he sent the carriage off, he warded off three people for you. It seemed as though nobody else dared to face his sword, so he also found an opportunity to flee. He moved really quickly, as though he were a gust of wind.”

    As he retold the story, in his heart he was reliving that memory. His features went through many transformations as well.

    But he spoke very quickly, because he was very familiar with telling this story. “But just as he fled into the forest, that horse-butchering sabre light suddenly flew out again. Although he dodged the first chop, the man followed with a second chop, and each chop was faster than the previous.

    He didn’t continue, nor did he need to continue, because everyone already knew the end to this story!

    In front was the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch. Behind him was Gongsun Tu and Xiao Siwu. No matter who was caught in this situation, the result would be the same.

    Fu Hongxue was silent. Although he looked very tranquil, in his heart, he felt as though a thousand soldiers and ten thousand cavalry troops were stampeding about.

    The bright moon had sunk down. The swallow had flown away, never to be seen again as well.

    He was silent for a long time, before asking, “What type of person was he?”

    Zheng Jin said, “He really looked as though he were a divinity, like he was the prince of hell. He was at least a head taller than everybody present. He wore a golden hoop in his ears, and wore clothes made from animal skins. The sabre he wielded in his hands was at least seven or eight feet long.

    Fu Hongxue said, “Afterwards?”

    Zheng Jin said, “That ‘chef’ fellow originally wanted to chop your friend apart and boil him in the pot, but the man who was originally playing chess was totally opposed to this. Afterwards…”

    He let out a breath, then continued. “Afterwards, they gave your friend’s corpse to a monk from the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon.”

    Fu Hongxue immediately asked, “Where is the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon?”

    Zheng Jin said, “I hear it’s at the northern gate, but I’ve never gone before. Very few people go there!”

    Fu Hongxue said, “They gave him to which monk?”

    Zheng Jin said, “It seems that monastery only has one monk. He’s a crazy monk. I hear that he…”

    Fu Hongxue said, “What about him?”

    A pained look was on Zheng Jin’s face, as though he were about to vomit again. “I hear that not only is he crazy, he also likes to eat flesh. Human flesh.”

    TWO

    The sunlight was as scorching as fire, making the road as hot as a furnace.

    Fu Hongxue silently strode upon the furnace. He didn’t sweat a single drop of sweat. He didn’t shed a single tear.

    The only thing he had left was blood.

    “When I can ride a carriage, I will never walk. I hate walking!”

    He was just the opposite of Yan Nanfei. When he could walk, he would never ride a carriage!

    He seemed to want to intentionally torment his two legs, because these two legs brought him too much trouble and misery.

    “Sometimes I can even fall asleep while I’m walking.”

    Right now, he naturally wouldn’t fall asleep. There was a very strange look in his eyes. It wasn’t a look of grief, or of rage. It was a look of uncertainty and pondering.

    And then he suddenly turned around, heading back to where he came from!

    What did he suddenly think of?

    Could it be that there were things he still hadn’t thought through, and so he must go back and speak to that woodcutter again?

    But Zheng Jin was already no longer at the teahouse.

    “He just left.” The teahouse manager said, “Over the past two days, he was always here telling that story. He always stayed here until it was dark. But today, he left particularly early.”

    He clearly felt some dread towards this pale-faced stranger, and so he spoke very carefully and very precisely. “And he left in a big hurry, as though he had pressing business to attend to.”

    “What road did he take?”

    The manager pointed to a road up ahead. There was a flattering yet obscene smile on his face. “His old mistress seems to live on that street. I think her name is Peach. He must have gone to look for her.”

    A dark, dirty, and narrow alleyway. A foul stench emanated from the gutter. Trash was stacked everywhere.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t seem to notice at all.

    Light shone in his eyes. The blue veins on the hand with which he gripped his sabre were bulging out, as though he was very excited, very agitated.

    What, exactly, did he think of?

    From behind a tattered wooden door, a woman wearing a string of jasmine flowers suddenly walked out.

    The perfume and makeup were all cheap. They mixed together with the vile stench of the alleyway to form an evil, degrading lure.

    She intentionally brought her heavily made up face close to Fu Hongxue. Her hands had already quietly reached out, intentionally stroking a certain place on Fu Hongxue’s upper thigh.

    “There’s a bed inside. It’s both soft and comfortable. There’s also me and a basin of warm water. It only costs two silvers.”

    She narrowed her eyes, revealing lascivious laughter in them. “I’m only seventeen, but I am very skilled. I’m even better than Peach.”

    Her laughter was very cheerful. She felt that this transaction was already successful.

    Because a certain part of this man’s anatomy had already changed.

    Fu Hongxue’s pallid face suddenly turned red. Not only did he want to vomit, he was also furious. Even in front of such a base, cheap woman, he still wasn’t able to control his physiological reactions.

    Was this because it had been too long since he had been intimate with a woman, or because he was already very excited?

    No matter what type of excitement one might have, it easily leads to sexual arousal.

    The body of the woman wearing a jasmine flower moved even closer to him. Her two hands were moving more quickly as well.

    Fu Hongxue’s hand suddenly struck out, heavily striking her across the face. She collapsed, hitting the wooden door, falling face-up to the ground.

    The surprising thing was, there wasn’t a look of anger or surprise on her face. There was a look of exhaustion, sorrow, and despair.

    She had long since become accustomed to this sort of humiliation. Her anger had long since turned into numbness. What made her sorrowful was that once more, the transaction was not successful.

    Where would her dinner come from tonight? A strand of jasmine flowers wouldn’t fill her stomach.

    Fu Hongxue turned his head away, not bearing to look at her. He brought out all the silver on his body, forcefully casting them to her.

    “Tell me, where is Peach?”

    “She’s at the very last right-handed house.”

    The jasmine flowers had already fallen. She crawled about on the floor, picking up those silver pieces. She didn’t give Fu Hongxue another look.

    Fu Hongxue began to walk away. He only took a few steps before he bent his waist and vomited.

    In the entire alleyway, only this door appeared attractive and dignified. Not even the lacquer had peeled off.

    It seemed that not only was Peach very skilled, her business was very good as well.

    It was very quiet inside. There was no sound.

    A young, vigorous man and a woman with very brisk business who were together in a room shouldn’t be so quiet.

    Although the door was locked, it wasn’t latched too firmly. A woman in this line of work didn’t necessarily need to latch her door too tightly, just like how they definitely didn’t need a tight belt.

    He pushed open the door. The living room was in front of them. It was also their bedroom. The walls looked as though they had just been whitewashed as well. It was filled with all sorts of unimaginable pictures.

    A large bouquet of withered camellias were held within a teapot on the table. Next to the teapot was a bowl of half-eaten pork noodles.

    Aside from a large, embroidered bed, the most lavish thing in the room was an ancestral tablet placed at the head of the bed. The engravings were exquisite, and the yellow curtains were noble. It formed an extremely strong contrast with the lewd, lascivious paintings on the walls.

    Why would she put an ancestral tablet at the head of the bed.

    Did she want these spirits to personally witness how lowly and despicable humans were? Witness her sell herself? Witness her die?

    Peach was already dead. She lay dead on the bed, along with Zheng Jin. Their fresh blood dyed the embroidered red blankets even more crimson.

    The blood was flowing from the major arteries in the back of their necks. One chop took their lives.

    Not only did the killer have a quick sabre, he also had plentiful experiences.

    Fu Hongxue wasn’t startled. Could it be that he had already predicted all of this?

    Why would a man who normally didn’t speak too much, stay in a teahouse all day and tell stories without even chopping wood anymore?

    He drank, ate meat, and *****d. Naturally, he couldn’t have too many savings.

    Then after not working for two days, how could he afford to visit Peach?

    In addition, he was too familiar with that story, and told it too brilliantly, to the point where even the expressions on his face worked in concert with it, as though he had long since been used to it.

    The conclusion one should reach from these clues were very obvious!

    He intentionally stayed behind at the most populous teahouse to tell stories, for the sole purpose of Fu Hongxue seeking him out.

    Gongsun Tu and the rest gave him money to tell lies for Fu Hongxue to hear.

    So now, they killed him to shut his mouth.

    But even if these conclusions were totally accurate, a few problems still existed.

    Which parts of the story he told was true? Which parts were false? Why did they want him to tell those lies? Was it to cover up the identity of the true killer of Yan Nanfei? Or was it to get Fu Hongxue to go to the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon?

    Fu Hongxue couldn’t be sure. But he had already made his mind up. Even if the monastery was a deadly ambush, he had to go no matter what.

    Just at this moment, that naked woman lying in the middle of the puddle of the blood suddenly flew up. She withdrew a dagger from behind her pillow, thrusting it towards his chest.

    Someone scurried out from the closet behind him as well. He wielded a silver spear, and thrust it, serpent-like, towards his back.

    This was definitely a totally unexpected act.

    Zheng Jin was really dead. No one would have imagined that the dead girl by his side was actually alive.

    And even less might one imagine that her strikes were vicious and evil, and as quick as lightning.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t move, nor did he dodge her dagger. He didn’t need to dodge at all.

    Just at this moment, there was suddenly a dagger flash from outside. It flew past the right side of the neck of the silver-speared assassin, then nailed itself into the throat of the naked female.

    Fresh blood spewed forth like an arrow from the neck of the silver-speared assassin. Just as that woman’s body rose up, it fell back down again.

    With the single flash of a dagger, the lives and souls of two people were taken away.

    Fresh blood sprayed down like rain.

    Fu Hongxue slowly turned around. He saw Xiao Siwu.

    He had another dagger in his hands. This time, he wasn’t pruning his nails. He was just coldly staring at Fu Hongxue.

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “One dagger, two lives. Good dagger!”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Was it truly good?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Good!”

    Xiao Siwu turned around and took two steps away. He suddenly turned his head and said, “Naturally, you could tell that I didn’t want to kill you.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    Xiao Siwu said, “I just wanted you to look at my dagger again.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I already saw it just now!”

    Xiao Siwu said, “You’ve already seen me strike three times, and two of those times it was directed towards you. With regards to my attacks, there’s already nobody else in the world who can see my attacks more clearly.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Very probably.”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Ye Kai is your friend. Naturally, you’ve seen him strike as well.”

    Fu Hongxue admitted to it.

    He had naturally seen it, and not only once.

    Xiao Siwu said, “Right now, I only want to ask you one thing. If you won’t tell me, I won’t blame you.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Ask.”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Why, exactly, is my flying dagger inferior to Ye Kai’s?”

    Fu Hongxue was silent. Only after a long time did he speak. “You ambushed me twice with your dagger. The first time, you used all your strength, but before you struck, you gave me a warning. The second time, although there was no warning, you held back twenty percent of your strength.”

    Xiao Siwu did not deny it.

    Fu Hongxue said, “This is because in your heart, you know that you shouldn’t kill me. You simply do not have a reason which makes it absolutely necessary for you to kill me, and so when you strike, you lack a righteous, all-conquering air.”

    He slowly continued, “But the people whom Ye Kai killed, were all people who absolutely had to be killed. Therefore, he is superior to you!”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Is it this alone?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “This is enough. You will never be able to surpass him!”

    Xiao Siwu was silent for a long time as well. Suddenly, he turned around. Without even looking back, he departed.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t turn around.

    After walking for some time, Xiao Siwu suddenly turned around again. He loudly said, “Just wait. There will be a day when I am stronger than him. When that day comes, I will kill you.”

    Fu Hongxue lightly said, “I will definitely wait for you.”

    If you intend to kill someone, abstain from nothing at all.

    This time, should Fu Hongxue have killed Xiao Siwu?

    “This time, you did not kill him. I fear that next time, you will die to him.”

    This time, Fu Hongxue once again did not strike. But he didn’t regret it, because he had already laid down a seed within Xiao Siwu’s heart.

    The seed of righteousness.

    He knew that this type of seed would flower and bear fruit one day.

    He walked out of the alleyway. That seventeen year old girl had once more placed that strand of jasmine flowers in her hair. She stood at the door to her home, secretly looking at Fu Hongxue. She appeared both fearful and curious.

    No one had ever given her a few dozen taels of silver for no reason at all. This pale-faced cripple must be a true eccentric.

    Although Fu Hongxue didn’t want to see her again, it was difficult for him to not even spare her a glance.

    Just as he reached the exit, she suddenly said in a loud voice, “You hit me. That’s an indication that you like me. I know that you will definitely come back to find me.”

    Her voice became even louder. “I will definitely wait for you.”

    THREE

    The Ancient Monastery of the Heavenly Dragon was actually the Great Heavenly Dragon Monastery. It was originally a place of great splendor and burning incense. No one knew why it suddenly became cold and desolate. But there were many legends and myths as to why that was now the case.

    The most widespread legend said this: “This ancient temple which looked solemn and majestic on the outside, was actually a den of sin. The beautiful woman who came to this monastery to pray before the Buddha would often be kidnapped and taken to hidden rooms deep within the monastery. Those who resisted would be beaten to death.”

    Thus, whenever there was no moon or stars in the sky, their lonely, wronged spirits would appear.

    With regards to whether or not this temple actually had secret rooms, and exactly how many women from good families were raped and defiled, no one was sure, because no one had personally seen any of this!

    But ever since this story became widespread, the people who came to this temple to pay their respects slowly became fewer in number.

    The type of person who would actually believe that spending a little money on sesame oil would buy them four seasons worth of peace and prosperity naturally wouldn’t carefully consider the truth or falsehoods inherent in rumors.

    There was a dense forest outside of the ancient monastery. Although it was spring, the fallen leaves were very plentiful.

    The road which led to the monastery had long since been covered by fallen leaves. Even people who often came here might not be able to recognize the road from within the dark forest.

    Fu Hongxue hadn’t come here even once!

    From his current viewpoint, there were large trees all around which looked absolutely identical.

    He couldn’t tell which direction was the right one.

    Just as he was hesitating, the sound of footsteps could be heard on the fallen leaves. A monk with features as delicate and refined as a crane’s walked by on the leaves. There wasn’t a single speck of dust on his fluttering, moon-white robes.

    Although he wasn’t very old, he appeared to definitely be a monk of very high learning.

    Although Fu Hongxue wasn’t a pious follower of Buddhism, he still respected eminent monks and men of learning.

    “Master, where are you headed?”

    “I come from where I came from. Naturally, I am headed to the place I am going.”

    The monk’s features were very heavy, and his hands were clasped together. He didn’t even look at Fu Hongxue.

    But Fu Hongxue wasn’t willing to give up the chance of asking for directions. He didn’t have the time to go on a wrong road.

    “Master, do you know by which road one should travel to the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon?”

    “Come with me.”

    The monk’s footsteps were slow and peaceful. It seemed as though even if this road were headed to the Western Paradise, he wouldn’t hurry up even slightly.

    Fu Hongxue could only slowly follow him from behind!

    The night became even gloomier. They finally arrived before a six-pillared pavilion. The red paint on the banisters of the pavilion had already peeled off. Within the pavilion, there was a zither, a chessboard, a kettle of wine, and a set of ink and a quill. There was also a little stove made from red mud.

    To be stroking the zither and playing chess, chanting poems and boiling wine within such a secluded grove, this eminent monk was just like a scholar. Both were very aesthetic.

    Although Fu Hongxue had never experienced this sort of relaxed luxury, he still respected others enjoy this sort of refined pleasure.

    The eminent monk, as refined and elegant as a crane, had already entered the pavilion. He picked up a chess piece and stared at it. There was a look of great pondering in his eyes, as though he was considering how, exactly, he should make his next move.

    Afterwards, he slowly put the chess piece in his mouth. With a gurgle, he swallowed it.

    Next, he broke the zither apart and put the wooden pieces into the oven, and lit a fire. He poured the alcohol in the pot out and washed his feet with it, then poured the ink in the inkslab into wine kettle and boiled it on top of the fire. Then he lifted up the chessboard and rapped on it non-stop, revealing a satisfied smile on his face, as though this sound was much more beautiful than the sounds of zither playing.

    Fu Hongxue, watching, was stunned.

    This seemingly advanced, erudite monk was actually a crazy monk?

    Fu Hongxue was stunned yet again.

    That monk is not only crazy, he also likes to eat flesh. Human flesh.

    That monk was looking at him up and down, as though appraising how much flesh there was on his bones.

    But Fu Hongxue still couldn’t believe it.

    “You really are a crazy monk?”

    “Crazy is sane. Sane is crazy.” The monk giggled. “Perhaps the truly crazy one isn’t me, but you.”

    “Me?”

    “If you weren’t crazy, why would you court death?”

    Fu Hongxue tightened his hands. “You know who I am? Know where I am going?”

    The monk nodded, then shook his head. He suddenly raised his head to the sky, then mumbled, “It’s over, all over. A thousand-year old ancient monastery is about to collapse. A sea of people will become drenched with blood. Where do you want this monk to go?”

    He suddenly picked up the wine kettle on the fire, then poured its contents into his mouth. The ink overflowed, pouring out of the corners of his lips, dripping down and staining his moon-white robes.

    He suddenly fell to his knees and began to loudly weep. Pointing to the west, he loudly shouted, “If you want to die, hurry up and go die! Sometimes, living is a fate worse than death.”

    Just at this moment, the sound of a bell being struck suddenly came from the west.

    This was the thousand-year old copper bell of the ancient monastery. Only it could produce such a clear, loud, and melodious sound.

    If there was only a mad monk in this ancient monastery, who was ringing the bell?

    The bitterly crying monk suddenly jumped up. His eyes were suddenly filled with shock and terror.

    “This is a funeral bell.” He loudly cried out, “When a funeral bell sounds, then someone is surely about to die!”

    Rising to his feet, he threw the wine kettle at Fu Hongxue, then continued, “If you don’t die, others will die. Why don’t you hurry up and go die?”

    Fu Honxue looked at him. He dully said, “I go.”

    ________________

    Thank you, Han Solo.

    Gulong really is a master of the human condition when it comes to wuxia writing. That scene with the jasmine flower girl...it really got to me...
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 06-15-09 at 11:31 PM.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  8. #68
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    Muahahaha, more of the 'Righteousness conquering all' which I love. FHX planting seeds of righteousness. Thats new.

    I really like this story. It did not start off so interesting but it keeps getting better.

    Its different from the other GL stories because

    1) - FHX is not the usual hero.
    2) - The random '1-chapter-powerful-1st-class-fighters' who turn up don't feel as empty as those from the other Gu Long books.


    Has there been a single GL book which does not involve prostitutes or brothels in the plot?
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  9. #69
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 16: Funeral Bell

    ONE

    The bell had stopped ringing, but the echoes remained. Fu Hongxue had already arrived at the main gate of the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon.

    Although the dark grey monastery was constructed long ago, it still retained vestiges of its former glory and prestige. In the courtyard, there was an enormous thousand-jin copper cooking vessel, stained with rust. The stone steps were covered with moss as well. Although it did appear a bit gloomy and unfrequented, the grand, majestic main hall still towered like a mountain over the surroundings, and the pillars in the courtyard remained as strong and erect as a tiger’s spine.

    How could such a strong, vigorous monastery suddenly collapse?

    “The words of a crazy monk are naturally crazy words.”

    It had been a long time since the sacrificial altar in the main hall had enjoyed the scent of meat or burning joss sticks. But it was still lofty and high above, staring down at the ignorance and suffering of men. The corners of the hall were filled with cobwebs, and the old, shabby curtains fluttered hither and fro in the wind. There was neither sight nor sound of human being here.

    Where was the one who rang the funeral bell?

    Fu Hongxue silently stood in front of the statue of Buddha. In his heart, he suddenly felt an extremely strange feeling. He suddenly wanted to kneel down, kneel down before this Buddha, whose gilt skin had already begun to peel off. To beg for peace, peace for Zhuo Yuzhen and her children.

    This was the first time in his life he felt so pious. But he did not kneel down, because just at this time, a swishing sound came from outside of the main hall.

    When he turned his head, he saw a rainbow-colored, lightning-like flash of sabre light flickering outside. Where the sabre light flashed, those pillars in the courtyard, as strong and erect as a tiger’s spine, were severed. Swishing sounds continually entered the ear, and the mountain-like main hall began to tremble and way.

    He inclined his head upwards, and immediately saw that the pillars and beams supporting the ceiling were beginning to slide down.

    The words of that crazy monk weren’t just crazy words. After the dancing sabre light flashed across the main hall, this towering, millennia-old monastery truly did collapse!

    What type of sabre was that? How could it have such fearsome strength?

    Fu Hongxue tightly gripped his sabre!

    This sabre was a weapon beyond compare, but this sabre definitely didn’t have such a fearsome strength!

    With a thundering sound, one corner of the main hall collapsed.

    But Fu Hongxue did not collapse. The mountains might burst and the earth might split, but some people will never collapse.

    Another corner of the main hall collapsed. Rubble and debris flew about as though propelled by wind. The swallows on the roof beams had long since flown away.

    But Fu Hongxue continued to stand there without moving!

    Outside, not only was the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch, that weapon which could anger gods and aggrieve demons, waiting for him, but also innumerable murderous plots and tricks!

    He suddenly sneered.

    “Demon Decapitator Miao, you have a very fine sabre, but you yourself are a base creature. Why don’t you dare to stand face to face with me and fight to the death, and instead run around playing tricks?”

    The sabre light disappeared. Someone sneered from outside the main hall as well. “As long as you aren’t dead, come to the inner courtyard to meet me.”

    The laughter of the Heaven’s Monarch, the Demon Decapitator, sounded like the crying of ghosts. One word at a time, he continued, “I will definitely wait for you!”

    “I will definitely wait for you.”

    The exact phrase, the exact six words. But coming from two different mouths, they had two totally different meanings!

    At this moment in time, Fu Hongxue suddenly thought of that girl who wore the jasmine flowers. He thought of how she fell to the ground, and of her eyes, filled with pain, sorrow, and despair.

    She was also a person. No matter what type of person one was, they wouldn’t be willing to accept that sort of humiliation.

    Could it be that all her life, she was destined to live in that crumbling, swaying room, without any road to take, and no path of escape, until debris and dirt covered her body?

    Fu Hongxue’s hands tightened. He suddenly started walking out. He walked very slowly, and his gait still appeared painful and ugly. But since he began to walk, he definitely would not stop.

    The doorway had collapsed. The flying dust covered his eyes, as he slowly walked past the broken pieces of wood.

    Another sound, akin to giant earthquakes and massive landslides. The center of the main hall had collapsed as well.

    Debris and shattered pieces of wood collided into his back.

    He did not look back. He didn’t even blink. This required not only an astonishing degree of composure, it also required an unshakable, fearless degree of courage! Precisely because he was composed, precisely because he had courage, he avoided the first trap.

    Just as he stepped foot over the main hall’s doorway, at least fifty or so hidden projectiles shot out at him from outside.

    If he had looked back in surprise, if he had lost his composure, he would have collapsed.

    Collapsed, just like this majestic monastery.

    Courage and self-confidence are the pillars of a man, helping preserve humanity’s existence.

    So long as these two pillars do not fall, mankind shall never be extinguished!

    Just as these hidden projectiles were shot out, two rays of cold light shot out as well, intersecting. It was a sword and a hook!

    Fu Hongxue’s sabre had already left its sheath. With a slanted flash of sabre light, he scurried out.

    He didn’t dare to stop and look back. He didn’t know how many other deadly ambushes were there.

    The copper vessel in the courtyard was still there. His slender body shot out like a javelin, coming down just behind the copper vessel.

    A gust of wind blew towards him. He felt it was as cold as a sabre’s chop on his shoulders. After looking down, he realized that a four-inch long wound had been left on his shoulder. The sword and the hook had launched an extremely swift and deadly assault. If someone hadn’t personally experienced the attack, they wouldn’t be able to imagine it.

    Blood flowed from his shoulder. Blood flowed from his sabre as well. Whose blood was dripping from his sabre?

    That hook was naturally Gongsun Tu’s eagle-beak. But the sword was definitely not Yang Wuji’s ancient sword of Damascus steel.

    This sword was far faster, far more accurate, and far more fearful than Yang Wuji’s sword. In addition, Yang Wuji’s sword-arm had been cut off.

    The wound on Fu Hongxue’s shoulder was a sword wound. Who had his sabre harmed?

    The main hall seemed to have totally collapsed by now. Turning around, he didn’t see anybody at all.

    If the first strike does not land true, fully withdraw! This wasn’t just the rule of the Xingxiuhai sect. It was also the principle by which old veterans of the martial world followed without fail!

    But why didn’t that Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch appear again? With the first attack, he chopped the horse in half. With his second, he destroyed the great hall. Why didn’t he strike at Fu Hongxue? Was he really waiting for Fu Hongxue at the inner courtyard?

    TWO

    The inner courtyard was peaceful and secluded. But there wasn’t even a shadow here either. Within the verdant mulberry grove, there was someone singing light songs. The songs were soft and haunting, causing gloom and capable of extinguishing one’s soul.

    There were three lit verandas in the grove. The doors and the windows were all open.

    As soon as one entered the grove, one could see a giant who looked like a deity from heaven. He was squatting in front of a barbarian bed, his hair all tousled, tied together with a golden ribbon. On his body, he wore a golden embroidered robe. But beneath his waist, he wore a battle-kilt made from a tiger’s pelt. Light shone out of his panther-like eyes, and his bronze skin sparkled. He looked just like one of the titans, who existed when the heavens and the earth were first separated, or like an undefeatable god of war from the myths.

    Four women with coifed hair and light garments were wrapped around his body. One was holding a golden cup and sitting on his knee. Another was combing his hair. A third was taking off his boots. The other was sitting far away beneath the window, and singing in a low voice. They came from the cart on which the Ghostly Granny had arrived in. Although they were no longer young, they had their own mature, graceful, womanly elegance.

    If they weren’t mature women, how could they endure such a virile, healthy titan?

    A stove burned in one corner of the room. A sabre was placed on the table. The handle of the sabre was one foot, three inches long. The blade was seven feet, nine inches long. There were many dazzling pearls sewn onto the beautiful shark-skin sheath.

    This sabre was the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch? This man was Miao Tianwang, Heaven’s Monarch Miao?

    Fu Hongxue stepped onto the leaves. He slowly made his way over.

    He already saw this person. Although his features were still totally expressionless, every single nerve in his body had become taut.

    Strength great enough to destroy a hall, and to cut a galloping horse in half, originally could only be found in fairytales. But now, it just so happened to appear right in front of his eyes.

    The woman singing a song beneath the window only turned to glance at him. Her song did not change, but it sounded even more dreary now.

    The woman holding the golden cup suddenly let out a sigh. “Why would a perfect good person, insist on coming here to die?”

    The woman combing his hair coldly said, “Because even if he was alive, he wouldn’t be happy.”

    But the woman taking off his boots began to laugh. “I like to see people being killed.”

    The woman combing his hair said, “But it might not be good to see this person be killed.”

    The woman taking off his boots said, “Why?”

    The woman combing his hair said, “Judging from his face, this person probably doesn’t have a drop of blood in his veins.”

    The woman holding the golden cup said, “Even if he does, it’s probably cold.”

    The woman taking off his boots was still laughing. “Cold blood is better than no blood. I just want to see a little bit of blood. I’ve always been a very easily satisfied woman.”

    Fu Hongxue had already walked to the window. He stopped. It seemed as though he hadn’t heard a single word which they had said.

    He really hadn’t heard a single word.

    Because he had already poured all of his attention and focus into this godlike titan.

    He suddenly asked, “Miao Tianwang?”

    Miao Tianwang had already stretched out his massive hand, gripping the sabre on the table.

    Fu Hongxue said, “This is the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch?”

    Miao Tianwang coldly said, “Sometimes, it decapitates demons. Sometimes, it kills men. So long as the sabre leaves the sheath, no matter who the target is, he will die beneath its blade.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Very good.”

    Miao Tianwang’s panther-like eyes revealed a trace of surprise. “Very good?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Your sabre is already in your hand. My body is already beneath your sabre. Isn’t that very good?”

    Miao Tianwang laughed. “Very good. It truly is very good.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Unfortunately, I haven’t died yet.”

    Miao Tianwang said, “Life and death have always been things which pass in the twinkling of an eye. I’m not in a rush. Why are you in a hurry?”

    Fu Hongxue shut his mouth.

    The hilt of the sabre was wreathed in purple silk. It was the color of congealed blood.

    Miao Tianwang’s hand gently stroked the hilt of the sabre. He suddenly said, “Are you waiting for me to draw my sabre?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Miao Tianwang said, “The rumors of the martial world say that your sabre is a weapon which is fast beyond compare!”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t deny it.

    Miao Tianwang said, “Why don’t you draw first?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because I want to see your sabre.”

    If I pull out my sabre, I’m afraid that your sabre will never have a chance to leave the sheath again!

    Although he didn’t say those words, his meaning was very obvious.

    Miao Tianwang suddenly laughed loudly. He suddenly stood up, and the woman sitting on his knee immediately rolled off the bed.

    Standing, he towered at least nine feet high. His waist was so thick, it couldn’t be embraced. He looked all the more majestic and awe-inspiring.

    Only a person such as him was worthy of using a sabre such as this.

    Fu Hongxue stood in front of him, appearing like a black panther standing in front of a majestic lion.

    Although the majestic lion was awe-inspiring and terrifying, the panther would definitely not cower from it.

    Miao Tianwang’s laughter didn’t stop. “Do you insist on me drawing first?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    Miao Tianwang said, “You won’t regret it?”

    Fu Hongxue smirked.

    Just at this moment, a thunderbolt-like flash was charging downwards at him!

    Miao Tianwang’s hand was still gripping the hilt of the sabre. The blade was still hidden within the pearl-encrusted sheath. He hadn’t drawn his sabre! The sabre light flew out from behind Fu Hongxue, as though lightning had suddenly struck out from clear skies.

    Fu Hongxue had already focused all of his attention on the titan in front of him. How could he imagine that the sabre light would come from behind him? Although the woman outside had not ceased her song, she had secretly closed her eyes.

    She had already seen this thunderbolt-like sabre flash’s power. Where the sabre appeared, flesh and blood would fly.

    She had seen it too many times. She couldn’t bear to watch! She clearly didn’t really like to watch people being killed.

    But this time, after the sabre flash chopped down, flesh and blood didn’t fly about.

    Fu Hongxue’s body suddenly shot out at an incline, just perfectly managing to flit by the sabre flash. His sabre had already left the sheath as well, and with a backwards chop, he counter-attacked to the rear.

    He had already calculated the position. This sabre attack of his should’ve landed right above the knees of the sabre-wielding man behind him. He never miscalculated. And his sabre had never missed its mark!

    But after his sabre shot out, he didn’t see blood. He only heard a swishing sound. It wasn’t the sound of bones being snapped. It was the sound of bamboo being chopped.

    The nine-foot long Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch flew out into the air. The tip of the sabre sliced into the ground, emanating a startling rainbow sabre light. From within the startling rainbow sabre light, it seemed as though there was a very small human shadow. With a sad and shrill laugh, it flew into the mulberry grove!

    The laughter disappeared with the shadow. But two shattered wooden sticks had suddenly appeared on the ground.

    Could it be that these were the two legs of that person?

    Can it be that he came while walking on stilts?

    Fu Hongxue turned around. His sabre was already sheathed.

    The godlike deity had already fallen down on top of the barbarian bed. All of his earlier majesty and aura had totally disappeared. Could it be that the undefeatable god of war was nothing more than a paper puppet?

    Staring at him, Fu Hongxue said, “Who was that person?”

    The titan said, “Miao Tianwang. He is the real Miao Tianwang.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “And you?”

    The titan said, “I am only his puppet, a puppet for the attention of others to be drawn to. Just like this sabre.”

    He drew the sabre.

    From within the magnificent, pearl-embroidered sheath, he drew out a wooden sabre with a layer of silver paint on top of it. This really was totally preposterous. Only a madman would do something like this.

    Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but ask, “What type of person is he, exactly? Why did he do something like this?”

    The giant bowed his head.

    The woman holding the golden cup was pouring alcohol into it nonstop. She poured for herself and drank it herself.

    The song of the woman underneath the window suddenly stopped. In a loud voice, she said, “They don’t dare tell you. I’ll tell you.”

    Her song was gentle and beautiful. However, her voice was now grief and hoarse with pain. “He isn’t a man at all, but he is desperate to believe in the illusion that he is a husband who can satisfy four women at once. He is only three feet, eight inches tall, but is desperate to believe in the illusion that he is a godlike giant. He does all of these things, simply because he is a madman.”

    The woman holding the golden cup suddenly clapped her hands and laughed loudly. “Great! Great cursing! Such wonderful cursing!”

    She was laughing, but her face had already become contorted with pain. “Why don’t you straight-forwardly show this man surnamed Fu, how our mighty husband ‘satisfies’ us?”

    The woman who was taking off his shoes suddenly tore her clothes apart. Her snow-white chest was filled with traces of lash marks.

    “This is how he ‘satisfies’ us!” Her laughter was even more miserable than sobs. “I’ve always been an easily satisfied woman. I am simply so satisfied that I could die.”

    Fu Hongxue silently turned around. He silently walked away. He couldn’t bear to look, and couldn’t bear to listen.

    He suddenly thought of that girl who wore the jasmine flowers once more. They were all the same. They had been wreaked, had been devastated.

    In the eyes of men, they were all women without face.

    Were they shameless because they were enduring the depredations of men?

    No matter how frenzied the depredations, they couldn’t help but endure it. Because they simply couldn’t resist, and had no place to run to. Is this what being ‘without face’ really meant? Is this ‘shamelessness’?

    The women were shouting, “Why don’t you rescue us? Why won’t you take us away?”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t look back.

    It wasn’t that he didn’t want to rescue them. But he didn’t have the ability to whatsoever. There simply was nobody who could solve their problem.

    So long as men who ‘really wanted face’ existed in the world, there would definitely be ‘shameless’ women such as them in the world.

    This is the real problem. This problem could never, ever be solved.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t look back, because he almost wasn’t able to resist from vomiting. He knew that the only way he could save them, wasn’t by taking them away. Only by killing Miao Tianwang could he truly free them.

    THREE

    Freshly broken twigs were on the ground. They had been shattered by a sabre. It was the sabre of the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch.

    He chased down the path of these tracks.

    Perhaps Miao Tianwang had long since fled far away. He wasn’t really chasing Miao Tianwang, but an objective. He knew that so long as breath remained in his body, he would never give up this objective!

    By now he realized why Yan Nanfei absolutely had to kill Gongzi Yu.

    What they were killing wasn’t actually the person, but the evil and tyranny which that person represented. He passed by the mulberry forest and entered the inner courtyard. A person was standing in the middle of the rubble of the courtyard, laughing stupidly at him.

    “Even a millennia-old monastery has collapsed. Why haven’t you died? What are you waiting for?”

    On his moon-white monastic robes, ink dribbled here and there. But in his hands, he held a freshly blooming flower.

    A fresh, new, pure flower.

    A tiny yellow flower.

    At the foot of a mountain, there was a cabin which not only had bamboo growing outside of it, but also a few yellow flowers.

    It was planted by a young girl. A girl with big eyes and long hair.

    Fu Hongxue’s heart sunk. His pupils suddenly contracted, and the hand with which he gripped the sabre clenched even tighter.

    “Where did this flower come from?”

    “People come from their origins. Flowers naturally come from their origins as well!”

    The crazy monk was still laughing stupidly. He suddenly tossed the flower in his hand to Fu Hongxue.

    “First look and see what type of flower this is.”

    “I cannot tell.”

    “This is a flower of grief and farewell.”

    “There’s no such flower in the world.” Fu Hongxue’s flower-holding hand was ice cold.

    “There is. Since there is grief in the world and farewells in the world, why wouldn’t there be a flower of grief and farewell?”

    The crazy monk was no longer laughing. In his eyes, there was a look of indescribable pain. “Since there is such a thing as a flower of grief and farewell, the person who picked it would naturally be grieved and about to bid farewell.”

    Fu Hongxue held the flower with his two hands. His hands did not move, and there was no wind here.

    But the petals of the flower suddenly began to fall, and the stem of the flower began to wither.

    These two hands were originally used to draw his sabre. The force in these two hands was more than enough to destroy all life.

    The crazy monk’s sadness became even greater. “The flower came from its origins, and has gone to its departure point. What about the person? Why hasn’t the person gone back yet?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Go back where?”

    The crazy monk said, “From whence one came, is where one should return. If you go back now, perhaps you’ll make it in time.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “In time to do what?”

    The crazy monk said, “How should I know what you are going to do?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Who, exactly, are you?”

    The crazy monk said, “I am only a crazy monk. I only happened to pick up a little flower, is all!”

    He suddenly waved his hands and shouted loudly, “Go, hurry up and leave and do what you need to do! Don’t come here and bother this monk! Monks want tranquility!”

    The monk had already sat down, in the midst of the rubble. In the blink of an eye, he became still.

    Although the main hall of the monastery had been wrecked, the main hall in his heart was still perfect and untarnished. That was like the shell of a snail. When the wind and the rain arrived, he could immediately hide inside it.

    Was he able to tell that the wind and the rain had arrived now?

    The setting sun shone across the sky. There was no rain or wind. Wind and rain are in the hearts of man. In the heart of Fu Hongxue.

    Did this flower come from near the bamboo patch? Why was it called the flower of grief and farewell?

    Who was grieved? Who was departing?

    Fu Hongxue didn’t ask. He didn’t dare ask. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t get it out.

    If he wanted to know the answer, he had only one method.

    He used all of his energy to rush back.

    If you go back now, perhaps you’ll make it in time.

    But by the time he got back, it was already too late.

    FOUR

    The yellow flowers beneath the bamboo patch had totally disappeared. Not a single petal remained. The people had disappeared as well.

    On the table, there was still three vegetable dishes, a pot of porridge, and two sets of chopsticks. The porridge was still warm!

    The children’s urine on the bed hadn’t dried yet either.

    Where were they?

    “Zhuo Yuzhen! Du Shiqi!”

    Fu Hongxue howled loudly, but there was no reply.

    Did Zhuo Yuzhen desert him? Or did Du Shiqi betray them?

    Fu Hongxue raised his head to the heavens. He asked the sky, but the sky did not respond. He asked the stars, but they were silent. He asked the bright moon, but the bright moon had long since sunk down. Where would he have to go in order to find them? Where could he go, to hide from this wind and rain?

    The night was gloomy and dark. From within the darkness, there were suddenly three popping sounds, and then a lightning bolt appeared!

    It wasn’t a lightning bolt. It was sabre light. From within the sabre light, the shadow of a person taller than a tree could be seen.

    The shadow flew out at the same time as the sabre light. It was a deformed dwarf. He walked on a three foot long bamboo pole, and in his hands, he wielded a nine foot long sabre.

    The Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch.

    A flash of sabre light. It chopped apart the bamboo patch, then rushed towards Fu Hongxue.

    Fu Hongxue retreated eight feet.

    The sabre light chopped again. The eaves of the house split apart. The power of the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch was like that of a thunderbolt or a thunderclap. The vertical sabre once more chopped at Fu Hongxue. In the blink of an eye, over seven chops had been launched.

    Fu Hongxue continued to retreat. He could only retreat, because he could neither block nor counterattack. He had to leap three feet into the air before his sabre could hit Miao Tianwang, who was standing on those bamboo poles. But his entire body had been surrounded by the power of the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch.

    Miao Tianwang was gripping the sabre with both hands. One chop followed after another, not even giving him the chance to pant!

    But even true thunderbolts and thunderclaps had an interval time. Even a real god of war would eventually exhaust his strength.

    Fu Hongxue dodged over forty nine sabre chops in a row. His body suddenly shot out from within the sabre light.

    His sabre had shot out as well.

    The Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch was too long. A foot longer, a foot stronger, as the saying goes…but the blade could only strike from afar. When the enemy rushed into close combat, there was no one way to save oneself.

    He saw this fatal flaw of Miao Tianwang’s. His sabre had already pierced towards Miao Tianwang’s heart.

    Who would have imagined that just at this moment, Miao Tianwang’s stilts suddenly shattered into many pieces!

    He suddenly fell down from the sky, and released the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch as well. With a backhand, he drew out a different sabre.

    A short sabre, radiating cold light in all directions. Carrying his body’s downward force, it pierced towards Fu Hongxue’s chest.

    Fu Hongxue’s sure-fire attack had instead become his own fatal weakness.

    When a brave panther charged towards a person, an experienced hunter would often dodge from beneath them and use a knife to split them open.

    Right now, Fu Hongxue’s mid-air body was like that of a leaping panther. The hunter’s knife had already reached his chest.

    He could even sense that the ice-cold sabre had split apart his clothes.

    Miao Tianwang had already calculated that he definitely could not dodge this slash. This wasn’t the Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch, but it was still a sabre for killing people.

    He had already concentrated all of his strength into that sabre, but his strength suddenly disappeared. All strength suddenly disappeared. It was as though all of the air in a balloon had suddenly escaped through a hole. His sabre clearly could have pierced Fu Hongxue’s chest, but he had no power left to stab with.

    What had happened? He didn’t understand. Even in death, he didn’t understand!

    He saw blood, but it wasn’t Fu Hongxue’s blood. Where did the blood come from? He didn’t understand this either!

    Only now did he suddenly feel an indescribably cold feeling in his throat, as though it had already been cut open.

    But he couldn’t believe it.

    He definitely could not believe that when the sabre light had flashed earlier, it had already cut open his throat. Even in death, he wouldn’t believe that there could be such a fast sabre in the world.

    He didn’t even see that sabre.

    Fu Hongxue fell down as well. He fell into the middle of the bamboo patch. Heaven and earth reverted to its earlier peacefulness and silence.

    He suddenly felt very tired. Although the earlier events had passed in the blink of an eye, in that blink of an eye, he had exhausted all of his strength.

    The distance between life and death is such a very fine line.

    Only now did he truly understand the meaning of this phrase. Just then, he really was too close to dying. This battle really was a vicious battle the likes of which he had never fought before.

    Stars filled the sky. The blood had already dried. Miao Tianwang’s blood. Not his!

    But he too had a type of feeling, as though all of his blood had dried up as well. Right now, if Miao Tianwang could brandish his sabre, he definitely would not be able to resist.

    He even felt as though if a child with a rusty knife came here, he would still die.

    Fortunately, dead men couldn’t wield sabres. And so late at night, nobody would come to this mountain village.

    He closed his eyes, hoping to be able to take a nap. Only with a clear mind could one think about moving.

    Who would have imagined that somebody would come, right at this moment.

    Suddenly, an patter of footsteps could suddenly be heard in the darkness. Within the slow, unhurried footsteps, there seemed to be a strange rhythym.

    Only a person who was totally confident in what he was doing had such a rhythm while walking.

    Who was this person? Why did he come here? What did he come here for?

    Fu Hongxue listened silently. In his heart, he suddenly felt a strange feeling as well.

    The rhythym of these footsteps seemed to be exactly the same as the rhythym of that bell within the ancient monastery.

    That was a funeral bell.

    The rhythym of these footsteps seemed to be filled with a murderous air as well.

    ____________

    I agree, CC. This may very well be the best wuxia novel I have ever read.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 06-16-09 at 08:25 PM.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  10. #70
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    These sabre flashes flying out from a far forest to split a horse and chopping down an entire monastery hall from outside makes Jiumozhi's Flaming Blade Hand and Duan Yu's Liu Mai Shen Jian look tame.

    It brings to mind images from those HK kung fu comics.
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  11. #71
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 17: Despair

    ONE

    The sound of the footsteps slowly drew near. From within the darkness, a man finally appeared. In his hands, he held a flower.

    A tiny yellow flower.

    The one who came was the crazy monk.

    He was still wearing that ink-splattered robe. He slowly walked over, placing the yellow flower within the midst of the bamboo patch.

    “People return to their origins. Flowers return to their origins as well.”

    That dense sadness remained in his eyes. “But although the yellow flower is the same as it ever was, the features of this place have totally changed.”

    Fu Hongxue was also stupidly staring at the yellow flower beneath the bamboo patch. “You know where I came from. You also knew where the flower came from. Thus, you came.”

    The crazy monk said, “What do you know?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I know nothing.”

    The crazy monk said, “You don’t know who plucked the flower. Do you also not know who I am?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Who are you?”

    The crazy monk suddenly pointed at the ink splatters on his robes. “Can you tell what this is?”

    Fu Hongxue shook his head.

    The crazy monk let out a sigh. He suddenly sat down in front of Fu Hongxue. “Take another look. You must look at it whole heartedly.”

    Fu Hongxue hesitated, but finally sat as well.

    The faint starlight gleamed down upon this originally-spotless white monk’s robe, upon the messy ink.

    He quietly looked, as though he were staring at tiny bit of light from a burning joss stick in that hidden room.

    If you felt as though this joss stick was no longer flickering, and was in fact as bright as a torch, then you had succeeded halfways.

    And then, you would even able to see the smoke rising above the joss very clearly, as clear as the white clouds above a high mountain.

    He wholeheartedly stared. He suddenly felt as though the messy ink splatters were no longer messy, as though there was a strange rhythym to them.

    And then, he realized these messy ink splatters formed a painting. Within it, it seemed as though there were high mountains, flowing rivers, and sabre light which danced without ceasing, as well as tears on the face of children.

    “What, exactly, did you paint?”

    “That which is in your heart, is what I have painted.”

    Paintings were always given birth from the heart.

    This wasn’t merely just any painting. It was a superb masterpiece of art.

    Light shone out of Fu Hongxue’s eyes. “I know who you are now. You must be Gongzi Yu’s subordinate, Wu Hua.”

    The crazy monk laughed loudly. “There clearly is a painting. Why must you say that there is no painting? If there was no painting, how could there be a person?” [The pronunciation of the name ‘Wu Hua’ sounds exactly like the words for ‘no painting’.]

    “What person?”

    “Naturally, the person in the painting.”

    Within the picture, there were tears on the face of children. Naturally, they were the people he was thinking of. “Where did they go?”

    The crazy monk said, “There clearly is a person, but you still insist on asking. It seems the crazy one isn’t the monk, but you.”

    Laughing loudly, he pointed with a finger. “Take another look. Aren’t the people right there?”

    He was pointing at that small room.

    The doors and the windows of the small house were always open. But at some point in time, lights were lit as well.

    Fu Hongxue stared along his pointing finger. He was instantly stunned.

    The room really did have two people. Du Shiqi and Zhuo Yuzhen were there, eating gruel.

    The bowl of gruel which had turned cold, suddenly was steaming warm again.

    Fu Hongxue’s entire body had become ice cold.

    Could it be that they were the same as the ink painting on the monk’s clothes; that they were totally imaginary?

    They were not!

    There really were two living people in the room. They really were Du Shiqi and Zhuo Yuzhen.

    After seeing the ink on the monk’s clothes, it seemed as though he could clearly see every single wrinkle on their faces, as though he could even see the pores on their faces open and close, their muscles jumping about.

    But they didn’t pay him any attention at all.

    Most people, in a situation like this, would jump up, rush over, or shout loudly.

    Fu Hongxue wasn’t most people.

    Although he had already stood up, he only quietly stood there, not even moving.

    Because he not only saw them, he saw even more deeply, saw even further. In the blink of an eye, he saw the entire truth to the whole affair.

    The crazy monk said, “Are the people you are looking for here?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Yes.”

    The crazy monk said, “Why don’t you go over there?”

    Fu Hongxue slowly turned his head. He fixed him with his gaze. His eyes, which had turned red with sorrow and exhaustion earlier, suddenly became clear and grim. He gazed at him with dagger-sharp eyes for a long time, before slowly saying, “I only hope you understand one thing.”

    The crazy monk said, “Speak.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “If I were to pull out my sabre right now, you will certainly die. In heaven or on earth, there is definitely no one who can save you.”

    The crazy monk laughed again, but his laughter seemed a bit forced. “I’ve already let you see the people you are looking for, but you want me to die!”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Looking at them isn’t enough.”

    The crazy monk said, “What else do you want?”

    Fu Hongxue coldly said, “I want you to quietly sit here. I want you to tell the people who are hiding behind the door and in the corners of the room to come out. If they so much as harm a hair on Zhuo Yuzhen or Du Shiqi’s head, I will immediately cut your throat.”

    The crazy monk no longer laughed. His eyes, which always happily stared at others with a stupid expression, suddenly became clear and ruthless. After a long period of time, he slowly said, “You didn’t see wrongly. There truly are people hiding behind the door and in the corners of the room. But they definitely won’t come out.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You don’t believe that I will kill you?”

    The crazy monk said, “I do believe.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You don’t care?”

    The crazy monk said, “I care very much. Unfortunately, they don’t care. Killing and bleeding have long ago become common sights to them. Even if you chop me into ground meat, I guarantee that they won’t even frown.”

    Fu Hongxue shut his mouth.

    He knew that these words were true words, because he already saw a face appear in the window. He already saw the sabre scars and hideous grin.

    The person hiding in the corner of the room was Gongsun Tu.

    The crazy monk dully said, “You should understand this person very well. Even if you chopped his own son into ground meat, I’m afraid he still wouldn’t even frown.”

    Fu Hongxue couldn’t deny it.

    The crazy monk said, “Right now, I only want to understand one thing.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Speak.”

    The crazy monk said, “If they chopped Zhuo Yuzhen and Du Shiqi into ground meat, would you care?”

    Fu Hongxue’s hands tightened, but his heart sunk.

    Gongsun Tu suddenly laughed loudly. “Great! Great question! I can also guarantee that if Fu Hongxue so much as harms a hair on your head, I will immediately cut their throats.”

    Fu Hongxue’s pale face had already been twisted with rage and pain.

    The crazy monk said, “Do you believe the words he said?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I believe. And I care very much. I want them to keep on living, but I don’t know what you want?”

    The crazy monk said, “Will you give us whatever we want?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded. “So long as they live. So long as I have it.”

    The crazy monk laughed again. “I just want you to take off your clothes. Take everything off.”

    Fu Hongxue’s pallid face suddenly turned red. Every single vein on his body had suddenly bulged out. He would rather die than accept this sort of humiliation. However, right now he simply could not resist.

    The crazy monk said, “I want you to strip right now. Strip everything off.”

    Fu Hongxue lifted his hand up.

    But he didn’t pull his clothes off. He drew out his sabre!

    Sabre light flashed like lightning.

    His body seemed even quicker than the sabre light.

    During that flash of light, his body had already entered the wooden room, and his sabre had pierced into the wooden door.

    A miserable wail within the room. Someone inside fell down. It was ‘If he intends to kill somebody, he abstains from nothing at all’, Yang Wuji.

    He only had one hand left.

    He never would have imagined that a sabre would pierce into his chest from through the door.

    Stunned, he looked at Fu Hongxue, as though to say, “So you killed me just like this?”

    Fu Hongxue coldly glanced at him, as though he were saying, “If you intend to kill someone, abstain from nothing at all. I learned this from you.”

    None of these words were said, because before Yang Wuji could say even a single word, he stopped breathing.

    Fu Hongxue only glanced at him once. When he glanced at him, his sabre turned towards Gongsun Tu.

    Gongsun Tu’s somersaulted backwards, jumping out the window.

    He actually avoided the chop.

    Because this chop was not intended to kill. Fu Hongxue used that chop to protect Zhuo Yuzhen.

    With a flash of sabre light, the sabre entered the sheath again.

    Gongsun Tu stood within the bamboo patch far away. Cold sweat poured down from his scarred face like rain.

    Zhuo Yuzhen put down the gruel. Her tears immediately fell down her face like pearls. Du Shiqi stared at her. There was a strange look in his eyes.

    The crazy monk sighed again. “Good. What a very fearsome person. What a quick sabre!”

    Although there was no expression on Fu Hongxue’s face, his heart was still thumping like mad.

    He wasn’t totally certain of success in the attack he had just launched. Only, all the trump cards seemed to be held in the enemy’s hands, and he had no other choice but to make a risky, last-ditch assault.

    Gongsun Tu suddenly laughed coldly. “Although this gamble of yours paid off very well, you still haven’t won this game.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    Gongsun Tu said, “Because the very last trump card is still in our hands.”

    What was his last card?

    Gongsun Tu said, “Actually, you yourself should be able to think of it. If nobody guided us here, how could we have found this place?”

    Fu Hongxue’s hand tightened again.

    Who, exactly, had sold him out?

    He suddenly heard a cry of alarm. Du Shiqi suddenly reached out, seizing Zhuo Yuzhen’s arm, grabbing her over and placing her before him.

    Fu Hongxue suddenly turned around. “It was you!”

    Du Shiqi looked at him. There was still a very strange look in his eyes, as though he wanted to speak, but couldn’t bear to.

    Fu Hongxue said, “Originally, you were a bold man. How could you do something like this?”

    Du Shiqi finally couldn’t resist saying, “You…”

    He only said that one word, but his eyes suddenly bulged out. Fresh blood suddenly flowed out at the same time from his eyes, his nose, and the corners of his mouth.

    Zhuo Yuzhen hit him with her arms, and he fell down. A sharp knife stuck out from between his ribs. A foot-long blade without a handle. His face was skewed with pain, and his lips were spasmodically jerking, as though he were still saying, “I was wrong, wrong…”

    It would be difficult for any human being to avoid making a mistake. Nobody was an exception to the rule.

    As soon as Zhuo Yuzhen’s hands released the knife, she immediately retreated. She suddenly turned around and hugged Fu Hongxue tightly. She cried out, “I killed someone…I killed someone!”

    To her, it seemed as though killing someone was worse than being killed.

    This clearly was the first time she killed someone.

    Fu Hongxue had this sort of experience before. The first time he killed someone, he vomited out all the contents of his stomach.

    He understood this feeling.

    It was definitely not easy to forget this sort of feeling.

    But people continued to kill other people. Only people would kill other people, because some people would force others to kill.

    This sort of affair sometimes became like a pestilence. Nobody was able to avoid it, because if you don’t kill him, he will kill you.

    The one who was killed would have peace. The killer would be embroiled in torment.

    Isn’t this another satirical tragedy?

    TWO

    Everything became peaceful again.

    Too peaceful.

    The blood had already stopped flowing. The foe was far away now. The world was now dark, and no sound at all could be heard.

    Even the wailing cries of the children had stopped.

    “The children?”

    Fu Hongxue’s entire body became cold. “Did the children fall into their hands?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen suppressed her pain and instead comforted him. “The children will be fine. They don’t want the children.”

    Fu Hongxue immediately asked, “What do they want?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen hesitated. “What they want is…”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Is it the Peacock Plume?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen could only admit it. “They believe that Qiu Shuiqing has already given the Peacock Plume to me. As long as I am willing to give them the Peacock Plume, they will return the children to me.”

    Her tears began to drip again. “But I do not have the Peacock Plume. I’ve never even seen that damn thing.”

    Fu Hongxue’s hands were so cold. So cold, it was frightening.

    Zhuo Yuzhen clenched his hands. She gloomily said, “I didn’t want to tell you this at first. I know that there is no one in the world who can go and get the children back for me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “They are my children as well.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “But you don’t have the Peacock Plume. Even if you can kill them all, you still won’t be able to get my children back.”

    Fu Hongxue shut his mouth.

    He couldn’t deny that he himself couldn’t solve this problem. He felt as though there were a dagger slicing his heart.

    Zhuo Yuzhen consoled him again, “They won’t harm the children for now. But you…”

    She gently held Fu Hongxue’s pale white face. “You are already too tired, and you are injured as well. You must rest well, and think of a way to temporarily forget about these worries.”

    Fu Hongxue did not open his mouth, nor did he move.

    He was totally numb, because he did not have the Peacock Plume, and he could not rescue his children.

    He had personally delivered them into this world, but now he could only watch and do nothing as they suffered. Watch as they die.

    Zhuo Yuzhen naturally could see his pain. Crying, she pulled him onto the bed. Pressing his shoulders, she said in a soft voice, “Right now, you must do your best to relax. Don’t think about anything. Let me treat your wound.”

    She gently caressed his face, then forcefully sealed seven of his acupoints.

    No one could think of this change. Even if everyone in the world could have thought of this, Fu Hongxue definitely could not have thought of it.

    Shocked, he looked at her. But his surprise was far inferior to his pain.

    When you truly have treated someone whole heartedly, only to have that person to sell you out…this sort of pain is indescribable.

    Zhuo Yuzhen laughed. Her laughter was very soft and gentle, very sweet.

    “It seems you are very unhappy. Is it your wound which hurts, or your heart which hurts?”

    Her laughter became even more cheerful. “Regardless of which place is hurting, it won’t hurt very shortly.”

    Because dead people can’t feel pain.

    Smiling, she asked, “Originally, I thought you had the Peacock Plume, but now it seems that I was wrong. So, I will kill you immediately. By then, you won’t have any troubles or worries at all.”

    Fu Hongxue’s lips were chapped. He couldn’t even say a single word.

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “I know you must want to ask me why I have treated you like this, but I refuse to tell you.”

    She looked at his sabre. “You said that nobody is allowed to touch your sabre, but right now, I insist on touching it.”

    She stretched her hand out and pulled out the sabre. “Not only am I going to touch it, I am going to use this sabre to kill you.”

    Her hand was only an inch away from the sabre.

    Fu Hongxue suddenly said, “It’s still best if you don’t touch it!”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “Why?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because I still don’t want to kill you.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen laughed loudly. “I insist on touching it, and I want to see what sort of method you will use to kill me.”

    She finally touched that sabre!

    His sabre suddenly flipped up, striking the back of her hand. The pitch-black scabbard felt like a piece of extremely hot metal.

    A red mark immediately appeared on her hand. It was so painful, her tears almost immediately came out, but her terror was far greater than her pain.

    She clearly remembered forcefully sealing seven of his acupoints, and her movements had always been very accurate.

    Fu Hongxue said, “Unfortunately, there’s something which you never could have imagined.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen forced herself to ask, “What?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Every single acupoint on my body has already been moved aside by one inch.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen was stunned.

    She hadn’t left any room for error in her calculations at all, and her acupoint sealing techniques were correct. The person who was wrong was Fu Hongxue. But even in her dreams, she wouldn’t have imagined that his acupoints were in the wrong place as well. This one-inch difference caused her entire plan to fall apart.

    She was annoyed and bitterly remorseful, blaming everything and everyone but herself. But she forgot to think about where this one-inch difference came form.

    Twenty years of bitter training. An inexhaustible amount of blood and sweat. A steadfast, unsurpassable determination. A teeth-grinding restraint.

    This is what he had traded for that one-inch difference. There is no such thing as ‘luck’ in the world.

    She didn’t think of any of this. She only thought of one thing. After this defeat, she definitely wouldn’t have a second opportunity.

    She had totally fallen apart as well.

    But Fu Hongxue had already risen to his feet. He coldly stared at her, then suddenly said, “I know you are hurt as well.” Zhuo Yuzhen said, “You know?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Your injury is beneath your ribs, between your first and third bones. The wound is four inches long and seven tenths of an inch deep.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “How did you know?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Because that was my sabre.”

    Outside the main hall of the Ancient Monastery of the Heavenly Dragon, blood dripped from the tip of his sabre.

    Fu Hongxue said, “The person who ambushed me outside the main hall of the Ancient Monastery of the Heavenly Dragon with Gongsun Tu was you.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen actually managed to restrain herself. “Right. It was me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Your sword skills are very good.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “Not bad.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “After I went to the monastery, you immediately followed after me.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “You didn’t move too quickly.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “The reason why Gongsun Tu and the others were able to find this place, naturally was not because Du Shiqi gave away the secret.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “Naturally, it wasn’t him. It was me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “So you killed him to silence him.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “Naturally, I could not let him expose my secret.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “They were able to find Mingyue Xin. Naturally, this was because of you as well.”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “If it wasn’t me, how could they have discovered that Mingyue Xin had returned to the secret room within the Peacock Manor?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You admit to all of this?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “Why wouldn’t I admit to it?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Why did you do these things?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen suddenly removed a pearl flower from her clothes. It was the same pearl flower which he had taken off the body of ‘Forefinger’ Zhao Ping then given to her in the Peacock Manor.

    Looking at this flower, she said, “You certainly must remember where this came from.”

    Fu Hongxue remembered.

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “That day, I didn’t want anything. All I wanted was this pearl flower. You must have thought that I was like other women; once I saw pearls, I forgot everything else.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You aren’t?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “I insisted on taking this pearl flower, because I was afraid that you would see the Peacock Insignia on it.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Peacock?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen said, “This pearl flower was a token of love from Qiu Shuiqing to Zhuo Yuzhen. Up to her death, she was still wearing it.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Zhuo Yuzhen is already dead?”

    Zhuo Yuzhen coldly said, “If she didn’t die, how could this pearl flower be on Zhao Ping’s body?”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly fell silent, because he had to control himself.

    After a long time, he lightly let out a sigh. “You really aren’t Zhuo Yuzhen. Who are you?”

    She laughed again. Her laughter was ruthless and sly. “You ask me who I am? Have you forgotten that I am your wife?”

    Fu Hongxue’s hand went ice cold.

    “I married you. Although it was only because I wanted to give you a burden and hang on to you, to tire you to death, to fight others to the death for me at any place and any time, anybody would have to admit that I still married you.”

    “…..”

    “I caused Mingyue Xin’s death. I caused Yan Nanfei’s death. I killed Du Shiqi. I wanted to kill you. But I am your wife.” Her laughter was very brutal. “I just want you to remember this. If you kill me, then go ahead and make your move now!”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly charged outside. Without even looking back, he charged into the darkness.

    He could no longer look back.

    THREE

    Darkness. A darkness which caused one to lose all hope and fall into despair.

    Fu Hongxue charged like a madman. He couldn’t stop, because as soon as he stopped, he would fall down.

    He didn’t think about anything, because he couldn’t think.

    The Peacock Manor was destroyed, but Qiu Shuiqing did not complain at all. He only begged one thing of him, only begged him to protect the very last heir to the Qiu family bloodline.

    But now, Zhuo Yuzhen was already dead.

    ‘She’ knew that the Peacock Insignia was on the pearl flower, and so ‘she’ was definitely one of the killers.

    But he was wholeheartedly taking care of her, protecting her, and had even taken her as his wife.

    If it weren’t for her, how could Mingyue Xin have died?

    If it weren’t for him protecting her, how could Yan Nanfei have died?

    But he always thought that what he had done was correct. Only now did he know how horrible were the things he had done.

    But now, it was too late. Unless a miracle happened, dead people would never come back to life.

    He never believed in miracles.

    So aside from running about in the darkness like a wild dog, what else could he do right now?

    Even if he killed ‘her’, so what?

    He didn’t dare think about this, couldn’t think about this. His mind had slowly become chaotic, a chaos which approached insanity.

    After he used up all of his energy running, he collapsed. When he collapsed, he began to twitch and spasm.

    That invisible whip once again began to rain blows on him without stopping. Now, not only all the deities of heaven and demons of hell were punishing him and making him suffer, he himself was tormenting himself as well.

    This, at least, he could still do.

    The small room was silent.

    It seemed as though there was someone speaking outside, but the voice seemed to come from far away. Everything seemed very blurry, very distant. Even he himself seemed to be very far away. But he clearly was here, in this narrow, cramped, stuffy, vulgar little room.

    What place, exactly, was this?

    Whose room was this?

    All he seemed to remember was that before he collapsed, he charged into a narrow alleyway.

    He seemed to have come here before. But his memory was very blurred, very distant.

    The voices outside suddenly became louder. It was a man talking to a woman.

    “Don’t forget that we are old lovers. How can you give me the cold shoulder like this?” This was the man’s voice.

    “I told you, today we can’t. I beg you to come again another day, okay?” Although the female voice was imploring, she sounded very adamant.

    “Why isn’t today suitable?”

    “Because…because today, I’m on my period.”

    “Blow your mother’s *******.” The man suddenly became furious. “Even if your period really came, you’d still have to take your pants off and show me.”

    When a man was at a point where he couldn’t give vent to his lust, his temper usually became very bad.

    “Aren’t you afraid of the smell?”

    “I’m not afraid! I ****ing have money. I’m not afraid of anything! Here’s five silver coins. Why don’t you take it first, then take your pants off!”

    Five silver coins could solve lust?

    Five silver coins could humiliate a girl?

    What place was this? What type of world was this?

    Fu Hongxue’s entire body went cold, as though he had suddenly been sunk into cold water, all the way to the bottom.

    He finally remembered what place this was. Finally saw that small ancestral shrine in front of the bed. Finally remembered that girl with the jasmine flowers.

    Why did he come here? Was it because she had said to him, “I will wait for you!”

    Was it because he was now just like her, without any place to go?

    Was it because he had restrained his lust for too long, and this place could let him give vent to it?

    Only he himself could answer these questions. But the answers were hidden in the deepest, most secretive recesses in his heart. Perhaps no one would ever be able to pull them out.

    Perhaps even he himself could not. He no longer thought about it, because at this moment, a large, drunken fellow charged into the room.

    “Ha! I ****ing knew you were hiding a man in here. I ****ing caught you!”

    His large hand had already reached towards Fu Hongxue’s bed, but the one he grabbed was not Fu Hongxue, but the girl wearing jasmine flowers.

    She had already rushed forward, standing guard in front of the bed. She loudly said, “I won’t let you touch him. He’s sick.”

    The big fellow laughed loudly. “Out of all the men you could find, you had to find a sick sot?”

    The girl wearing jasmine flowers ground her teeth. “If you insist, I can go somewhere else with you, and I won’t even charge you those five silvers. I’ll do it for free this time.”

    The big fellow looked at her, appearing very surprised. “You’ve always demanded payment first. Why are you willing to do it for free this time?”

    She loudly said, “Because I am happy.”

    The big fellow was suddenly angry again. “Why the **** should I care about if you are happy or not? If you’re happy, I’m not ****ing happy.”

    He exerted his strength. Like a large eagle snatching a little chicklet, he carried her entire person off.

    She did not resist. Because she could not resist, would not resist. She had long since become accustomed to being humiliated by men.

    Fu Hongxue finally stood up. “Release her.”

    The big fellow stared at him in astonishment. “Was it you who spoke?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded.

    The big fellow said, “You diseased sot, did you actually ****ing tell me to release her?”

    Fu Hongxue nodded. “If I ****ing refuse to put her down, what is a diseased sot like you going to do?”

    He finally saw the sabre in Fu Hongxue’s hand. “Punk, so you have a sabre? Do you dare to kill me?”

    Killing. More killing!

    Why must men force other men to kill?

    Fu Hongxue quietly sat down. He felt as though his stomach was contracting. He almost couldn’t resist the urge to vomit.

    The big fellow laughed loudly. He was tall, large, and robust. Muscles bulged from his arms. With a light movement, he tossed the girl onto the bed. And then, he gripped Fu Hongxue’s clothes, loudly laughing, “Sick bastard, do you think you can be a prostitute’s bodyguard? I want to see how many ****ing bones you have!”

    The girl wearing jasmine flowers shrunk away on the bed, shouting in alarm.

    The big fellow was preparing to lift Fu Hongxue up and throw him outside the door.

    With a thudding sound, someone was heavily thrown to the ground outside, but it wasn’t Fu Hongxue. It was the big fellow who wanted to throw him.

    He clambered to his feet, then charged towards him again, slamming his fist towards Fu Hongxue’s face.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t move.

    The big fellow clutched his hand, bending his waist in pain so great that cold sweat began to flow. Shouting loudly, he rushed out.

    Fu Hongxue closed his eyes.

    But the eyes of the girl wearing jasmine flowers were wide open. Shocked, she looked at him, appearing both amazed and admiring.

    Fu Hongxue slowly stood up, then slowly walked out. His clothes had already been soaked through with cold sweat.

    Restraint wasn’t an easy thing.

    Restraint is pain. A pain which very few people can understand.

    Outside the door, the sunlight was dazzlingly bright. Underneath the light of the sun, his face seemed almost translucent.

    Underneath this fresh, brilliant sunlight, what could a person like him do? Where could he go?

    He suddenly felt as though there was an unspeakable feeling of dread in his heart. The one he feared wasn’t another person. It was himself.

    He also feared the sunlight, because he didn’t dare to face this dazzling, fresh sunlight. Nor did he dare to face himself.

    He collapsed once more.

    __________________

    I quite agree. And yet, people like Li Xunhuan are certainly way above the likes of a guy who can chop off an entire monastery hall...
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  12. #72
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    Heh, the Miao and Fu sabre fight must be one of the longest ones ever in GL's latter books.

    I love it, human psyche + total bloodbath. Classic New Deadly Villian per Chapter GL but these villians are more interesting than those in his other books.
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  13. #73
    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    17,996

    Default

    Supposedly, this was the novel that Gu Long invested the most of his heart & soul in. It crushed him emotionally afterwards. I think he said so in his biography.
    TC to Ken: "You need to watch the ending of ROCH 83."

  14. #74
    Senior Member kyss of the sword's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    currently in malaysia
    Posts
    1,729

    Default

    gu long based a lot of himself in his characters depending on the period of his life he wrote the novels in. i think this novel came during a sad time of his life. from to somethings i read about him.
    THE KYSS OF THE SWORD IS DEADLY BUT EXQUSITE
    he's the strongest in history but he's the disciple.
    http://www.mangafox.com/manga/histor...ciple_kenichi/

  15. #75
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 18: When Affection Begins to Thickens, Affection Turns Flimsy

    ONE

    Fresh, warm, and sweet fluid flowed into his mouth. His convulsing, spasming stomach immediately relaxed and smoothed out, as though it were dry dirt which had gained nourishing water.

    Fu Hongxue opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was a very white, very small hand. A very white, very small hand, holding a very white, very small soupspoon. One spoonful at a time, it was feeding him a bowl of thick, warm, fragrant, and refreshing soup.

    Upon seeing him awaken, a look of pleasure immediately appeared on her face. “This is the chicken broth which I especially requested from the old lady who washes clothes next door. It’s dark boned chicken. I hear that it’s very effective in replenishing the body. Looks like it really does have a little effect.”

    Fu Hongxue wanted to shut his mouth, but another spoonful of thick chicken broth once again arrived at his mouth. He simply couldn’t resist.

    She was still laughing. “Don’t you think this is strange? All my life, I’ve never taken care of anyone else, nor has anyone ever taken care of me.”

    There was a tiny window in the room. Outside, the sunlight was still as glorious and as bright.

    Her eyes had already left Fu Hongxue’s face, and she stared foolishly at the sunlight outside.

    Although the sunlight was very bright, her eyes were very dark and gloomy. Did she remember all those long-distant memories of times when there was nobody to take care of her?

    Those times clearly did not pass underneath the sunlight. Perhaps her entire life, she had never spent a single day underneath the sun.

    After a long time, she slowly continued. “Only now do I know that taking care of others or being taken care of is such…such a good thing.”

    She wasn’t a girl who understood many things. She had to think a long time before coming up with the word ‘good’ to describe her current feelings.

    Fu Hongxue understood her feelings. It definitely couldn’t be described with the word ‘good’. It also included the words ‘content’, ‘peaceful’, and ‘happy’, because she felt as though she was no longer lonely.

    She didn’t necessarily demand that others take care of her. So long as she had someone to take care of, she would be satisfied.

    Fu Hongxue suddenly asked, “What is your name? Your real name.”

    She laughed again. She liked it when others asked her name. At the very least, this signified that they were treating her as a person.

    A real person, an independent person, not someone’s tool, nor someone’s toy.

    Laughing, she said, “My surname is Zhou. I’m called Zhou Ting. In the past, everyone called me Xiao Ting [Little Ting].”

    For the first time, Fu Hongxue noticed how pure and sincere her laughter was, because she had already washed off that thick layer of rouge and powder, revealing her own face.

    She knew he was looking at her. “When I don’t have make up on, do I look like an old granny?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “No.”

    Xiao Ting’s laughter became even happier. “You really are a weird guy. I didn’t think you’d come and find me.”

    She wrinkled her forehead. “When you arrived, you looked so scary. I thought you were already dead at first. No matter what I asked you, you didn’t seem to notice, but as soon as I touched your sabre, you began to hit.”

    She looked at the pitch-black sabre in his hand.

    Fu Hongxue was silent.

    She no longer asked questions either. She had long since become accustomed to others refusing her. She didn’t hold any high hopes towards anything. She no longer held any extravagant wishes or made any demands from this unfeeling, cruel world. She didn’t even ask his name, because…

    “I know that you are a good person, because even though you lightly hit me, you didn’t humiliate me like any of the others. You even gave me that much money for no reason.”

    To her, those things were already a great show of benevolence. It was already enough to make her forever grateful.

    “I didn’t use any of the money you gave me. Even if I were to buy a chicken every day, it would last a long time, so you must stay here. You have to wait until you are no longer sick before you can leave.”

    She held his hand. “If you were to leave now, I would be extremely, extremely miserable.”

    In the eyes of others, she was a base, contemptible woman. For five silver coins, she was willing to sell herself.

    But she asked nothing from him at all, only that he allow her to take care of him. That was enough to satisfy her. Compared to those self-styled ‘noble’ women, who was truly noble? Who was truly base?

    She sold herself only because she needed to keep on living. Who didn’t want to keep on living?

    Fu Hongxue closed his eyes. He suddenly asked, “Do you have any wine here?”

    Xiao Ting said, “There’s none here, but I can go buy it for you.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Fine, go buy some. I won’t leave.”

    Sick people shouldn’t drink alcohol.

    Why was he going to drink? Was it because there was an irreconcilable pain and worry in his heart?

    But alcohol wouldn’t solve these problems. What good would wine do him?

    She didn’t think about any of this.

    She rarely thought about many things, nor did she ask for much. As long as he was willing to stay, no matter what he asked her to do, she would do it.

    “So long as a person is alive, they should strive with all their might and work as hard as they can. They definitely cannot give themselves up and be hopeless and wallow in vice.”

    She didn’t understand any of these words. She had lived for too long in the morass, and no one had ever given her the chance to crawl out from it.

    To her, life wasn’t as noble or as complex as others made it out to be.

    Life didn’t bring much that was good to her. How could it expect too much from her?

    Fu Hongxue was drunk. He didn’t know for how many days he had been drunk.

    When a person is drunk, he would naturally do some unreasonable, bizarre things, but she didn’t resent him in the slightest.

    He wanted wine, so she bought wine for him, time after time again. Sometimes, she would go knock on the doors of winehouses at midnight. Not only had she never refused him, she didn’t ever even look unhappy.

    Only, sometimes she left for very long periods of time, even though the alcohol selling places were nearby.

    Fu Hongxue naturally was sober from time to time, but he never asked her why she had been gone for so long.

    That day, he had only given her a few broken bits of silver, because that is all he had on him. He had always been poor, just like how he had always been lonely.

    But he never asked her where she got the money for his alcohol. He couldn’t ask. He didn’t dare ask.

    She never asked him about anything either, but she said something which he would never forget. One night, when she was a bit tipsy as well, she spoke these words.

    “Although I don’t understand anything, I know you are definitely in great pain.”

    Great pain? How could his feelings be summarized with those two words, ‘great pain’?

    One day, she was exceptionally happy, because it was her birthday. She bought some extra things, and even the extremely rare old hen’s meat. But when she returned, he had already gone. He hadn’t say a single word before leaving.

    The wine bottle lay fallen on the table. It had shattered into many pieces. She stupidly stood in front of the bed, until day turned into night, without even moving.

    His hair still remained on the pillow. She picked it up, carefully wrapped it up, tucked it into her bosom, then went out to buy more wine.

    Today was her birthday. How many birthdays can one have?

    Why couldn’t she go and get drunk?

    TWO

    Fu Hongxue wasn’t drunk. He hadn’t been drunk for the past two days. He had been walking forward nonstop the entire time, without any objective or direction. He only wanted to leave her far behind, the farther the better.

    Perhaps they had already sunken into vice, but he couldn’t bear to drag her down with him.

    Although parting is always painful, she was still young. No matter how deep the pain, she would soon forget it. Young people always had a comparatively higher tolerance for pain. If he stayed there, he might never be able to leave again.

    After he was tired, he randomly found a place to lie down for a bit, and then he began walking again. He didn’t eat a single grain of rice. All he did was drink a little water. His beard had grown long and straggly, and his foul stench could be smelled from far away.

    He was punishing himself, punishing himself for all he was worth. He was all but no longer thinking of her, up until the point in time when he noticed that there was a small white handkerchief on his body.

    An embroidered handkerchief of pure silk. It was one of her very few luxury items. Inside the handkerchief there was a few silver banknotes worth a not inconsiderable amount of money, and a few pieces of gold. These were also items which had been recovered from the corpse of ‘Forefinger’. He had casually put it in his bosom and had long since forgotten about them. During his illness, when he was writhing on the floor, they had fallen out. She had seen them, and so she had wrapped them for him in her most treasured handkerchief. She was willing to sell herself for five silver coins. She was even willing to sell herself for a bottle of wine. But she had never even touched these things. She would rather sell herself than touch his things.

    Fu Hongxue’s heart was writhing in pain. He suddenly stood up and furiously ran back to her little room.

    But she was no longer there.

    In front of the house there were many people, all sorts of people. There was even an officer in a red hat.

    “What happened here?”

    He asked others, but no one paid any attention to him. Fortunately, a drunken beggar took him for one of their own.

    “A little ***** used to live here, but last night, she ran away, so the officer came to arrest her.”

    “Why did he come to arrest her? Why did she run?”

    “Because she killed someone.”

    Killed someone? How could that kind, pitiable girl have killed someone?

    “Who did she kill?”

    “She killed the owner of that little bar down the street.” The beggar waved a fist. “That fat pig should’ve died long ago.”

    “Why did she kill him?”

    “She often went there to buy alcohol. At first, she gave money, but she drank too much, to the point where for whatever reason, she didn’t even do business. When she had cravings for alcohol, she had to buy on credit. That fat pig actually sold to her on credit.”

    The beggar was laughing. “Because that fat pig didn’t know what she did, he had designs on her. Last night, for whatever reason, she actually ran to that place to drink alcohol by herself. She drank too much. That fat pig naturally was delighted. He thought it was an incredible opportunity. When she was drunk, he tried to force himself on her. No one would have imagined that although she ‘sold smiles’, she simply refused to let that fat pig touch her. She actually pulled out a butcher’s knife on the counter and cut that fat pig’s head in half with one blow.

    He still wanted to keep talking, but the listener had disappeared.

    The beggar could only bitterly laugh while mumbling to himself, “There’s a bunch of weird stuff in this day and age. A ***** who would rather kill someone than take off her pants. Isn’t this ridiculously amusing?”

    Naturally, he thought this was extremely funny. But if he knew the truth of the matter, he too most likely would have cried his eyes out on the ground.

    Fu Hongxue did not cry, did not shed tears.

    The winestore across the street was preparing a funeral. He rushed in, grabbed a pot of wine, wrecked the store, then drank all of the alcohol in one gulp before collapsing in one of the gutters of the alleyway.

    For whatever reason, she didn’t even do business.

    For whatever reason, she actually ran to that place to drink alcohol by herself, but simply refused to let that fat pig touch her.

    Why did she do all of this? Who knows?

    Fu Hongxue suddenly loudly screamed, “I know…I know…”

    But so what if he knew?

    Knowing only made it more painful!

    She had already run away, but where could she run off to? At most, she could run from this bog to the next bog. An even filthier bog!

    Fu Hongxue wanted to drink even more. He wasn’t drunk yet, because he could still think about this.

    Who did Mingyue Xin and Yan Nanfei die for?

    Who did Xiao Ting run away because of?

    He forced himself to crawl to his feet, rushed out of the alleyway, charging out just as a horse galloped by. The horse neighed in shock, and the horseman cursed him out. A whip struck down at him like a poisonous snake.

    Fu Hongxue grabbed the whip with the flip of his hand. He was wildly drunk, stinking drunk. He had already tortured himself until he no longer bore any resemblance to a human. But he was still Fu Hongxue.

    The rider tugged on the whip with force. No one could seize anything from Fu Hongxue’s hand. With a puffing sound, the whip snapped.

    Fu Hongxue was still standing, but the rider fell down from his saddle. But his reflexes weren’t slow, and so as he fell down, he somersaulted in mid air. The galloping horse continued to charge forward, but he himself had already landed on his feet on the ground. He stared at Fu Hongxue in shock.

    Fu Hongxue didn’t look at him. He didn’t even glance at him. Right now, the only thing he wanted to look at was a pot of wine. A pot of strong wine which would help him forget everything.

    And so he passed by in front of this man. His gait appeared clumsy and strange. A strange look suddenly appeared in this mans’ eyes, as though he had suddenly seen a ghost.

    He immediately shouted loudly, “Wait!”

    Fu Hongxue ignored him.

    That man asked again, “You are Fu Hongxue?” Fu Hongxue still ignored him.

    That man suddenly pulled his sword out, then pierced at Fu Hongxue with it. His attack was swift and clever. Clearly, he was one of the faster swordsmen of the martial world. But when his sword was still seven inches away from Fu Hongxue, Fu Hongxue’s sabre had already left its sheath.

    A flash of sabre light. A splatter of fresh blood. A perfectly good head was split in two.

    The man fell. The sabre was sheathed anew. Fu Hongxue didn’t even stop his steps, didn’t even look at that person.

    THREE

    It was already very late at night, but there were still plenty of people in this small winehouse, because anyone who came inside was not allowed to leave.

    Because Fu Hongxue had spoken. “My treat. All of you drink with me. None of you may leave.”

    He was carrying the stench of blood on him, and had a large fistful of banknotes and gold. His stench nauseated them, the blood terrified them, but the money made them respect him. So no one dared to leave.

    After he drank a cup, everyone present had to drink a cup with him. Two more people entered from outside. He didn’t notice in the slightest what type of people they were, but they stared at him. One of them suddenly walked in front of him, then sat down.

    “Bottom’s up.”

    He proposed a toast, then drank it in one gulp. Unexpectedly, he still was not looking at this person, not even a glance.

    The man suddenly laughed. “Nice alcohol tolerance.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Yeah, nice alcohol tolerance.”

    The man said, “Nice alcohol tolerance, but even better sabre techniques.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Nice sabre techniques.”

    The man said, “You seemed to have once said that any sabre technique which can kill is a good sabre technique.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Did I say that?”

    The man nodded, then suddenly asked, “Do you know who you just killed?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Did I kill someone just then? Who did I kill?”

    The man looked at him, eyes filled with laughter, a laughter which could cause someone to wake up in the middle of the night. “You killed your elder brother-in-law.”

    Fu Hongxue wrinkled his forehead, as though trying as hard as he could to remember how he might have an elder brother-in-law.

    This man immediately reminded him, “Have you forgotten that you are already a married man? Your wife’s elder brother is your elder brother-in-law.”

    Fu Hongxue thought for a long time again, then nodded, then shook his head. He seemed to understand, and yet not understand.

    The man suddenly pointed at the person he had come in with. “Do you know who she is?”

    It was a woman. She was standing far away at the bar counter, coldly staring at Fu Hongxue.

    She was very young and very beautiful, with raven-like hair, and shining eyes. She was the type of daughter which every parent dreamed of having, the type of little sister every man wanted, the type of lover every yong man dreamed of. But when she stared at Fu Hongxue, her eyes were filled with hatred and enmity.

    Fu Hongxue finally raised his head to look at her. He seemed to recognize her, and yet not recognize her.

    The man laughed. “She’s your younger sister-in-law.”

    He was afraid that Fu Hongxue wouldn’t understand, and so explained, “Your younger sister-in-law would be your wife’s younger sister, and your elder brother-in-law’s younger sister.”

    Fu Hongxue began to drink again, as though he had become confused by those words, and had to drink a cup of wine before becoming sober.

    That man asked again, “Do you know what she wants to do right now?”

    Fu Hongxue shook his head.

    The man said, “She wants to kill you.”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly let out a sigh. He mumbled, “Why does everybody want to kill me?”

    The man laughed again. “Your words are totally correct. There are thirteen people in this room. At least seven are here to kill you. They want to make their move after you are drunk.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Want to wait until I am drunk? How can I get drunk? I can drink for another three days and three nights without getting drunk.”

    The man smiled. “Since there’s no point in waiting for another three days and three nights, it seems they are about to make their move right now.”

    Just at this moment, with a clanging sound, a pot of wine fell to the floor and smashed to smithereens. A man who was originally holding a wine-cup, now held in his hands a ‘mountain-splitting cleaver’, with a thick spine and a narrow blade. When he charged towards Fu Hongxue, a white, silk-tasseled spear, a ‘goose plume’ sabre, a bamboo-linked whip, and a ‘funeral door’ sabre all rushed out as well.

    The young man wielding a sword growled out in a low roar, “Gang members are taking vengeance. Friends from the martial world, don’t interfere!”

    Just as he finished these words, he froze with shock. His four friends froze as well. The five of them stood there like stone statues, because the weapons in their hands had…disappeared? Their five weapons were all now in the hands of the person sitting in front of Fu Hongxue.

    When they started to move, he had moved as well. With his left hand, he had clapped their shoulders. With his right, he wrested away their weapons. The five of them only felt their vision go blurry, only saw a flicker of a shadow, and the weapons in their hands had disappeared.

    The man had already returned to his original seat, gently placing the five weapons on his table. Then, smiling, he said, “I’m not a friend from the martial world, so I can interfere.”

    The young swordsman angrily said, “Who are you?”

    The man said, “I never tell my name to dead people.”

    The young man said, “Who are the dead people?”

    The man said, “You!”

    At first, they had been standing there, perfectly fine. But as soon as the man said that word, their five faces turned ghastly pale, feeling as though all of their blood and flesh had suddenly dried. Five vigorous, strong men had suddenly turned withered and thin. Suddenly, they all collapsed.

    But Fu Hongxue didn’t seem to have seen anything at all.

    The man let out a sigh. “I killed these people on your behalf. Even if you aren’t grateful towards me, you should at least offer me a few words of praise.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Praise you for what?”

    The man said, “Can’t you tell what type of martial arts I used?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “I can’t tell.”

    The man said, “This was one of the sole two types of martial arts from the ‘Sorrowful Book of Yin and Yang and of Heaven and Hell Mingling’ which still remain in the world.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    The man said, “This is the ‘Great Soul-Searching Hand of Severing Heaven and Shattering Earth.’”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    That man said, “The other remaining technique, is one you have already learned: the ‘Great Acupoint Changing Technique of Shifting Heaven and Moving Earth.’”

    He chuckled, then said, “For you to be able to shift your acupoints by an inch, you must have mastered at least ninety percent of this technique.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “And you? Who are you?”

    That man said, “I am Duo Qingzi, of the Western Region’s Xingxiuhai sect. I’m even more full of affection than you are.” [As mentioned in a previous chapter, ‘Duo Qingzi’ literally means, ‘man of great tenderness and affection’.]

    Fu Hongxue finally lifted up his head. He looked at him, seeming to only just now know who the person seated before him was.

    This man’s smile was very warm, very gentle. His eyebrows were delicate and pretty. He really did appear to be a man of great tenderness and affection.

    “Even men of great tenderness and affection kill people?”

    “When affection begins to thicken, affection turns flimsy. It is precisely because I am so filled with affection that it has become flimsier than paper.”

    Smiling, Duo Qingzi continued, “However, I have never killed somebody for no reason at all before either.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”

    Duo Qingzi said, “The only reason I killed these people was because I didn’t want you to die to them.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Why?”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Because I want you to die to me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You really want to?”

    Duo Qingzi said, “I want to so much, I would die for it.”

    The girl who was standing far away by the counter suddenly said, “Because if he kills you, I will marry him.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Look, I’m already thirty five years old, but I still haven’t taken a wife. Naturally, I have no children either. There are three ways one can be unfilial; to not produce an heir is the greatest. You can’t expect me to be an unfilial person, can you?”

    That young woman interjected, “He won’t.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “How do you know?”

    The young woman said, “I’ve seen him strike on three separate occasions. His sabre originally really did seem to be possessed by ghosts.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “How about now?”

    The young woman said, “Now, the ghosts in his sabre have instead entered his heart.”

    Duo Qingzi asked intentionally, “Why did they go there?”

    The young woman said, “Two things.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Wine and women?”

    The young woman nodded. “Because of these two things, he had all but died once in the past as well.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “But he didn’t die.”

    The young woman said, “Because he has a good friend!”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Ye Kai?”

    The young woman let out a sigh. “Unfortunately, no one knows where Ye Kai has gone.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Then right now, he’s definitely in a perilous situation?”

    The young woman said, “Extremely perilous.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Do you think I can receive his sabre blows?”

    The young woman chuckled. “You can even capture real ghosts with your ‘Great Soul-Searching Hand’, much less a sabre which no longer has ghosts in it.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Even if I can catch his sabre, wouldn’t my hand break?”

    The young woman said, “It won’t.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Why won’t it?”

    The young woman said, “Because your catching techniques are very clever. Your hand won’t even touch the blade of the sabre, and your other hand will have caught his soul.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “So what you are saying is, this man is doomed?”

    The young woman said, “He still has a little bit of hope.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “What hope?”

    The young woman said, “So long as he tells us two things, we won’t even touch him.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Which two things?”

    The young woman said, “Where is the Peacock Plume? Where is the Sorrowful Book of Yin and Yang and of Heaven and Hell Mingling?”

    Duo Qingzi said, “If he had the Peacock Plume, or if he had mastered the arts in the Sorrowful Book, we would be doomed.”

    The young woman said, “Perhaps his hands are no longer steady enough, and he is no longer able to use the Peacock Plume. Perhaps, despite him learning the ‘Great Acupoint Changing Technique of Shifting Heaven and Moving Earth’, he is not able to learn the other skills.”

    Duo Qingzi laughed. “Judging by the look of things, he really doesn’t seem to be capable of learning other martial arts.”

    The young woman laughed as well. “Now, the only skill he can train in is drinking.”

    Duo Qingzi laughed. “But he seems to have trained this skill quite well.”

    The young woman said, “Unfortunately, the only thing this type of martial arts can do is to turn him into an alcoholic, a dead alcoholic.”

    Every single word they said was like a needle. They wanted to pierce his heart with every single one of these needles, to make him suffer, to make him weak, to make him collapse. Unfortunately, it seemed as though all of these needles had pierced a stone, because Fu Hongxue didn’t react at all. He was already totally numb.

    The distance between being numb and collapsing is not great. The distance between collapsing and death is not great either.

    Duo Qingzi let out a sigh. “From the looks of it, it seems he’s made up his mind not to talk.”

    The young maiden let out a sigh as well. “Perhaps he is determined to wait until the point of death to speak.”

    Duo Qingzi said, “Hasn’t that point arrived yet?”

    The young maiden said, “As soon as you strike, it will have arrived.”

    Duo Qingzi had already made his move. His hand was both white and delicate, like a woman’s hand. His hand movements were soft and graceful, as though he were plucking a flower, a very fragile and tender flower.

    No matter how tough and vigorous the opponent, underneath his hands, they would turn as fragile and as tender as a flower.

    It seemed as though his hand didn’t move very quickly. In fact, it was like a very gentle light. By the time you saw it, it was there.

    But this time, before his hand arrived, the sabre left the sheath.

    When the sabre light flashed, his hands opened just like a flower. It really did seize that sabre. Was his other hand going to seek out Fu Hongxue’s soul? Just like how he had withered the flesh and the blood of those five people earlier!

    A flower-petal like hand. A soul-searching hand.

    The sabre which no one could catch was actually caught by his hand. Unfortunately, no matter how fearsome the hand, when it came underneath this sabre, it would become as tender and fragile as a flower petal.

    Sabre light flashed. Blood sprayed about.

    His hand had already been chopped in half. His head had also been chopped in half.

    The young woman’s eyes widened, but her pupils contracted.

    She didn’t see the sabre at all. The sabre was already sheathed. It was like how lightning flashed across the dark firmament of the sky. No one could see it afterwards. She could only see Fu Hongxue’s deathly pale face.

    Fu Hongxue had already stood up and walked over. His gait was still very clumsy and awkward, so clumsy it was terrifying.

    He walked very slowly. He was already drunk. So drunk, it was terrifying.

    In her eyes, every single place on his body and his every single movement had become unspeakably terrifying. She was so frightened, she felt as though her blood had coagulated. But she suddenly laughed. “Can it be that you no longer recognize me? I am the second young miss of the Ni family, Ni Hui. We are friends.”

    Fu Hongxue ignored her.

    She watched as he walked past her, her eyes still filled with dread. She definitely couldn’t let this person stay alive. If he were to live, she would die. Die in his hands.

    This conclusion wasn’t perhaps correct. Originally, she was an extremely intelligent person, but right now, terror had stolen away her mind. But she hadn’t forgotten her ‘Celestial Maiden Flowers’. Aside from her, it seemed as though there was no one else in the martial world who could use this vile type of hidden projectile.

    Once the hidden projectiles left her hand, not only could the flower petals shoot out and wound, there were lethal poisons hidden within the petals as well.

    She only carried thirteen ‘Celestial Maiden Flowers’ on her, because she simply didn’t need to carry too many.

    She had only used this hidden projectile a total of three times. Each time, she had only used one petal. One petal is enough to take a man’s life.

    But right now, she actually shot out all thirteen of the petals, and then her body immediately flew backwards. Even if this strike didn’t land, she could at least retreat with her body intact. She always had a great deal of faith in her lightness kungfu.

    But at this moment, the sabre had already left its sheath!

    _______________

    I know I am sounding like a broken record, but this is the best, most moving wuxia story I have ever seen.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  16. #76
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    How sad for Xiao Ting!


    Most repeated line the in the novel - "The Sabre had already left its shealth!"


    Bah! This Duo Qingzi is a letdown. Not because of his 'lousy' martial arts (thats what these GL goon-of-the-day characters were for) but because his part had no lesson on the human psyche. Plain sabre fodder.
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  17. #77
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 19: Executioner

    ONE

    A flash of sabre light. A splash of blood.

    She saw the flash of sabre light. She even saw the splashing blood.

    The pearls of blood seemed to splash out from between her eyes. When she saw these pearls of blood, it was as though she had seen her own ghost, or seen her two legs leave her body and then give her a kick.

    She even felt as though her left eye could now see her right eye.

    Who can truly understand her feelings?

    Nobody. Only living people can understand other people’s feelings. A dead person’s head definitely can’t hold these thoughts, because it has already been chopped in half. A person whose head had been chopped in half originally shouldn’t be able to see anything, unless the sabre was simply too fast. When the sabre blade chopped down, the sense of vision hadn’t died yet. She could still see what happened in that split second.

    This very last split second.

    How long is a split second?

    There are sixty split seconds in the snap of a finger. The strange thing was, the last split second before a person dies, they can think of some things which they normally wouldn’t think through in an entire day and night.

    Right now, nobody knew what she was thinking, and she naturally would never be able to say it.

    TWO

    Ni Ping. Thirty three years of age.

    The second son of Ni Baofeng, ‘Master of the Pavilion of Hidden Treasure’, he wielded a long sword. He was one of the more famous quick swordsmen of the next generation of martial artists.

    He was single and had never wed.

    After the Ni Family Garden had been destroyed, he often stayed with the famous prostitute, Bai Ruyu, in her ‘Courtyard of Jade Fragrance’.

    On April 19th, Fu Hongxue killed Ni Ping.

    Ni Hui, twenty years old.

    The second daughter of the ‘Master of the Pavilion of Hidden Treasure’, intelligent and resourceful, with extremely high skills in lightness kungfu. She alone practiced the overpowering hidden projectile skill, ‘Celestial Maiden Flowers’. She had killed three people.

    She was single and had never wed.

    On April 19th, Fu Hongxue killed Ni Hui.

    Duo Qingzi, thirty five years old.

    Originally, his surname was ‘Hu’. His background was unclear, but he entered the Xingxiuhai sect in his infancy. Even as a youth, his martial arts proficiency was very high, and the ‘Great Soul-Searching Hand of Severing Heaven and Shattering Earth’ was one of the seven great secret skills of the martial world. He had killed an innumerable number of people.

    He was single and had never wed.

    Before March had ended, he had evilly killed six married women.

    On the night of April 19th, Fu Hongxue killed Duo Qingzi.

    Luo Xiaohu, forty years old.

    He had robbed and plundered the lands west of the river. He wielded a sabre and thought very highly of himself. He considered himself the best sabre-wielder in the world.

    He was single and had never wed.

    On April 21st, Fu Hongxue killed Luo Xiaohu.

    Yang Wulu, forty four years old.

    The cousin of Yang Wuji, ‘Master of the White Clouds Temple.’ A disciple of the Kunlun sect. He had a very high attainment in the ‘Eighteen Stances of the Flying Dragon’. He was very narrow minded, and would definitely take vengeance when slighted. He really rather had Yang Wuji’s attitude of ‘abstain from nothing when killing’.

    He became a Taoist priest when young, and was single.

    On April 22nd, Fu Hongxue killed Yang Wulu.

    Yin Rudi, thirty years old.

    Jin Rumu, thirty three years old.

    The two worked together and had killed people without number. They were nicknamed the ‘Twin Killers of the Five Elements’. Their martial arts techniques were extremely secretive.

    They had very unkind temperaments and were very stingy. By this year, they were fabulously wealthy.

    Yin Rudi was a lecher.

    Jin Rumu was castrated at birth.

    On April 23rd, Fu Hongxue killed Yin Rudi, Jin Rumu.

    Zhuge Duan, fifty years old.

    He was the Buddhist disciple of Guanxi’s ‘One Sabred Luo’. He was unfeeling and skeptical, and loved to kill people.

    He had long since become a widower.

    He had married three times, but all three of his wives had died to his sabre.

    No children.

    On April 24th, Fu Hongxue killed Zhuge Duan.

    ‘A Flower Branch’, Qian Lixiang. Twenty nine years old.

    A rapist and an expert in using knockout drugs.

    He was single and had never wed.

    On April 25th, Fu Hongxue killed Qian Lixiang.


    There was a great deal of material left in the thick folder in front of him. It had all been obtained from various places by the two men in front of him.

    He only flipped a few pages. Then he no longer read.

    One of the two standing in front of him was Gu Qi, him of the black shirt and white socks. The other wore a moon-white monk’s robe that was totally spotless. It was the crazy monk from the Ancient Monastery of the Celestial Dragon.

    Right now, he didn’t seem crazy in the slightest.

    His attitude towards the two was very gentle and mild. They, on the other hand, were very respectful towards him, just like how loyal ministers would act towards their monarch.

    Although they were standing facing him, there was a very large, very broad table between them.

    Regardless of the time or place, he would always keep an appropriate distance between himself and others.

    Although his smiling face was very amiable, no one ever dared to annoy him, because he was the most legendary figure in the martial world of this day and age.

    He was Gongzi Yu.

    The room was tasteful and secluded. Every single item had been selected with the greatest care and placed in the most suitable place. But there weren’t many things on the table. Aside from that folder, there was only a long sword wrapped in yellow silk.

    From outside the window, the shadows of flowers flickered about. No voices could be heard, and there were only the three of them inside.

    When he wasn’t speaking, they didn’t even dare to breathe too loudly. They all knew that Gongzi Yu liked silence.

    The folder was shut.

    Gongzi Yu finally let out a sigh. “Why do you always want me to look at these things?”

    With two fingers, he gently flicked the folder back to them, as though he were afraid of being contaminated by the bloody acts and murderous aura described within.

    Only then did he continue, “Why don’t you directly tell me, how many people has he killed over these past few days?”

    Wu Hua looked at Gu Qi.

    Gu Qi said, “Twenty three.”

    Gongzi Yu wrinkled his forehead. “Seventeen days, twenty three people?”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu sighed. “Hasn’t he killed just a little too many people?”

    Gu Qi said, “It is too many.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “I hear that your chess buddy, Yang Wuji, also had his hand chopped off by him.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu chuckled. “Fortunately, one can still play chess with his left hand.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Did Yang Wulu seek out Fu Hongxue in order to get revenge for his cousin?”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Luo Xiaohu naturally fought in order to compete to see whose sabre was faster.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Why did Zhuge Duan kill all three of his wives?”

    Gu Qi said, “Because they smiled once at other men.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Out of these two people, one thought too highly of himself, and the other was too skeptical of others. Those types of people can do more harm than good. From now on, you must not accept those sorts of people into our organization.”

    Gu Qi and Wu Hua simultaneously said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu’s countenance became mild again. “But I know that their sabre techniques weren’t weak.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “The Great Soul-Searching Hand of the Xingxiuhai sect can also be considered a very powerful martial arts technique.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “I hear that Fu Hongxue has always been depressed recently, and has drowned himself in alcohol.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “And yet, none of these experts you sought out were able to block even a single sabre chop of his.”

    Gu Qi did not dare to open his mouth. He didn’t dare to say ‘yes’ again.

    But Gongzi Yu was waiting for him to respond. When he asked a question, the answer must be concise, but there must be an answer. A lack of an answer would be an indication that his question was not worth being taken seriously.

    Anyone who didn’t take him seriously was guaranteed to receive a suitable punishment.

    Gu Qi finally said, “Although he drinks a great deal, his hand is still very steady.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Alcohol has no effect on him?”

    Gu Qi said, “It has a little effect.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “What effect?”

    Gu Qi said, “When he strikes, he becomes even more vicious than before.”

    Gongzi Yu was silent, then slowly said, “I imagine he must be very angry. Thus, his sabre has become even more fearsome.”

    Gu Qi did not ask why. In front of Gongzi Yu, he only answered, never asked.

    But Gongzi Yu continued. “Because rage is also a type of power. A power which can compel someone to do many things.”

    Looking at him, Gu Qi’s eyes were filled with admiration and respect.

    He never looked down upon his opponents. His analyses and judgements were always correct. His understanding of his opponents was perhaps even deeper than they themselves had.

    Thus, he was successful. His success definitely was not due to luck.

    Gongzi Yu suddenly asked, “He still waits for others to attack first before drawing?”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu let out another sigh. “This is the most fearsome point of all. A man who can gain mastery after his opponent launches the first strike is definitely much more fearsome than a man who gains the advantage after taking the initiative.”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Do you know why?”

    Gu Qi said, “Because when one launches an attack, right at the point when he is about to attack but hasn’t yet, his power is at the softest point. His sabre severs the opponent’s life at precisely that moment.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Can anyone else do this?”

    Gu Qi said, “They cannot.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Why?”

    Gu Qi said, “Very few people besides him are capable of seizing that brief, transient moment.”

    Gongzi Yu smiled. “It seems your martial arts have improved.”

    Gu Qi said, “Just a bit.”

    He didn’t dare to be too modest. His words were honest. In front of Gongzi Yu, no matter who you are, you must speak the truth.

    Gongzi Yu’s smile became jubilant. “Do you want to test his sabre and see how fast it is?”

    Gu Qi said, “No I don’t.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “You know you aren’t his match?”

    Gu Qi said, “To my understanding, there are only two people who can stop him.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “One of them is Ye Kai?”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “The other one is me?”

    Gu Qi said, “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu slowly stood up. He walked to the window and pushed the screen open, causing the fragrance of the garden to rush towards his face. He stood there quietly, not moving, not speaking.

    Gu Qi and Tu Hua didn’t dare to move either.

    After a long, long time, he slowly said, “I’m afraid there’s something you don’t know.”

    Gu Qi still didn’t dare to ask.

    Gongzi Yu said, “I don’t like killing people. In my entire life, I have never personally killed anyone before.”

    Gu Qi wasn’t surprised. Some people didn’t need to personally kill.

    Gongzi Yu said, “Nobody can stop him. At most, I can kill him.”

    Because he himself was like a sabre, a steel sabre. You can break him, but you definitely can’t make him bend.

    Gongzi Yu said, “But right now, I don’t want to make an exception and kill him.”

    Because he still had misgivings. His incomparably noble, just, and heroic reputation wasn’t easily obtained. So he couldn’t kill people, and even less could he kill Fu Hongxue.

    Because Fu Hongxue wasn’t a person whom everybody felt deserved to die.

    Gongzi Yu said, “So now, I can only let him kill people. The more he kills, the better.”

    Let him kill? Until when? Until everybody wanted to kill him, until he went mad.

    Gongzi Yu said, “So now, we can still give him some more provocations, and let him kill a few more people.”

    Turning around, he looked at them. “We can even give him some people to kill.”

    Gu Qi said, “I will make arrangements.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “What type of people do you plan to arrange for him to kill?”

    Gu Qi said, “The first is Xiao Siwu.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “Why have you chosen this person?”

    Gu Qi said, “Because this person has already changed.”

    Gongzi Yu said, “I think you can definitely arrange for some more interesting people for him to kill.”

    Smiling, he slowly continued, “Right now, I’ve already thought of the most interesting person.”

    The scent of flowers filled the garden.

    His two hands resting on his back, Gongzi Yu strolled about the garden. He was in a very good mood. He believed that his subordinates would definitely complete the task he had given them, a task to kill people.

    But he himself never killed people. Never.

    THREE

    A peaceful night. A deep night.

    Fu Hongxue couldn’t sleep. Although staying awake was painful, falling asleep was even more painful.

    When a person is sleeping on a cold, hard wooden bed, with the room filled with the foul, cheap scent unique to all cheap inns, while staring at the shabby, broken down ceiling, he would start to think of those past events which he should not think about.

    Wanderers without roots, who can understand your sorrow and your pain?

    He would rather have his spirit roam around in the darkness.

    Some windows were still lit.

    What were the people inside doing? Why hadn’t they slept yet? Had a husband and wife awoken from their happy exhaustion, and were making boiled rice stews from leftover dishes from last night’s dinner? Was it, perhaps, that the child had awoken in the middle of the night, and so the parents could only light a lamp and help him change his diapers?

    Although this lifestyle is simple and dull, the pleasure within it was something which a type of person like Fu Hongxue would never enjoy. Hearing the cries of the child, his heart once again began to ache.

    He wanted to drink again.

    Although alcohol couldn’t solve any problems, it could at least make one temporarily forget them.

    A dim light flickered in the alleyway ahead of him.

    A tired, depressed old man was drinking alcohol by himself underneath the dim light.

    He had already owned a stall here for thirty five years. He was busy very early each morning, purchasing the cheapest of bones to boil stew with, stewing some vegetable dishes which everyone could eat with the alcohol. He would set up his stall at dusk, and keep it open all the way until early morning, before dawn.

    In the past thirty five years, his lifestyle had never changed. His sole pleasure was waiting until late night, when the customers were fewest, and then drinking a little wine by himself. Only after drinking a little wine could he enter a world which totally belonged to himself. A peaceful, beautiful world, a world where there definitely wasn’t people who devoured other people. Although this world only existed in his imagination, he thought it was pretty decent. If a man can at least preserve a few illusions, then that would be pretty decent.

    Fu Hongxue arrived beneath the dim light.

    “Give me two jin of wine.”

    So long as it would make him drunk, any type of alcohol was fine.

    In front of the stall, there were only three shabby, worn-out tables. Only after seating himself did he notice that he wasn’t the only customer. There was another, a big, burly fellow who was originally eating a large bowl of noodles and drinking large bowls of wine. But at this moment, he stopped and stared in surprise at Fu Hongxue.

    He recognized this pale-faced ‘diseased sot’. He once ate some suffering from this diseased sot, in the small room of the girl who wore jasmine flowers.

    Feeling a bit tipsy, he actually walked over. Smiling, he said, “I didn’t imagine that you liked alcohol as well. For you to be coming out here this late at night and drinking by yourself, you must have really good alcohol tolerance.”

    Fu Hongxue ignored him.

    The big fellow said, “I know that you detest me, but I admire you. You look like a diseased sot, but you are actually a real man.”

    Fu Hongxue still ignored him. Even if he had thicker skin, he still couldn’t not leave, but unexpectedly, Fu Hongxue suddenly said, “Sit!”

    Even if a person has long since become accustomed to being alone, sometimes he will still feel very miserable. He suddenly wished that someone could keep him company. Any type of person would do. In fact, the more vulgar, the more ignorant the person, the better, because that sort of person couldn’t touch the pain in his inner heart.

    But the big fellow looked absolutely delighted, immediately sitting down and calling for alcohol in a loud voice. “Chop another pig’s tail and two more duck heads!”

    He laughed again. “Too bad the duck heads have already been chopped in half by someone long ago. If I had the chance to do the chopping, I would definitely have done it more neatly and tidier.”

    The old noodle seller was also a bit tipsy. He glanced sideways at the big fellow. “You often chop off duck heads?”

    The big fellow said, “Duck heads, human heads. I often chop off both.”

    Clapping himself on the chest, he said, “I’m not boasting when I say that my skill at chopping off heads is the best for hundreds of li around.”

    The old man said, “What is your job?”

    The big fellow said, “I am an executioner. My prefecture is county thirteen, and I am the number one executioner. If someone wants me to chop off their head, they at least have to give me a hundred or so taels.”

    The old man said, “You are going to chop someone’s head off, and yet they are going to give you silver?”

    The big fellow said, “If they don’t give enough, I won’t do it.”

    The old man said, “Based on what?”

    The big fellow stretched out his giant palm. “Based on these two hands of mine, and that extremely heavy demon-faced sabre of mine.”

    He pantomimed chopping someone’s head off. “When I chop downwards, sometimes the executed doesn’t even know that his head has fallen off.”

    The old man said, “If they stretch their neck off, they get the axe. If they shrink, they still get the axe. Why should people pay you?”

    The big fellow said, “Because a short period of pain is better than a long period of pain. If I am the chopper, they will die cleanly!”

    The old man said, “What, so other people aren’t able to come up with a way chop heads off with a sabre?”

    The big fellow said, “Do you still remember the young fellow I came here with last time?”

    The old man said, “How is he?”

    The big fellow said, “He’s also an executioner. In order to train in this line of work, he used watermelons as heads for practice. He practiced for many years before finally feeling confident. When he came, he didn’t think much of me at all.”

    The old man said, “Afterwards?”

    The big fellow said, “It wasn’t until the first time he went to the execution ground that he realized something was wrong.”

    The old man said, “What was wrong?”

    The big fellow said, “I’m afraid that even in your dreams, you won’t be able to imagine the power, prestige, and killing aura emanated by the execution ground. As soon as he stepped foot on to the execution ground, his two legs went soft. He launched seventeen or eighteen chops, but that prisoner’s head was still connected to his neck. He was in such pain, he was rolling around on the floor, screaming as miserably as a butchered pig.

    While sighing, he said, “Imagine what it must feel like to have been chopped at seventeen or eighteen times, yet still be alive.”

    The old man’s face had already turned pale. “If you are the chopper, only one chop is needed?”

    The big fellow said, “I guarantee that I will do it in one chop. Clean and straightforward.”

    The old man said, “Can it be that there is a type of learning needed to chop heads?”

    The big fellow said, “The learning inherent in this sort of business is very great indeed.”

    The old man couldn’t resist bringing his own alcohol over as well, sitting down to one side. “Tell me. I’ll listen.”

    The big fellow says, “Not only is a deft hand and a quick eye required, you also need to figure out what type of person is being executed.”

    The old man said, “Why?”

    The big fellow said, “Because some people were born with great courage. When the sabre draws near, their spines are still stiff and straight. They won’t shrink their neck in either. Chopping this sort of person is the easiest.”

    With an audience, his words became an even more willing narrator. “But the bones of some people go limp as soon as they step foot into the execution ground. The crotch of their pants is filled with piss and shit, and you can’t even pull them up.”

    The old man said, “Can it be that you can’t chop off their heads while they are lying on the ground?”

    The big fellow said, “I can’t chop.”

    The old man said, “Why not?”

    The big fellow said, “Because the bones at the back of ones neck are very hard. You need to carefully see the joints before you can chop off the head at one blow.”

    He continued, “If I know that the prisoner being executed is a coward, I need to make preparations first.”

    The old man said, “Prepare what?”

    The big fellow said, “Usually, I’ll pour him a few cups of wine first to stir up his courage. But I can’t actually get them drunk, so first I need to find out how good his alcohol tolerance is.”

    The old man said, “And then?”

    The big fellow said, “After arriving at the execution ground, if he still doesn’t dare to stretch his neck out, I’ll give him a kick on his waist. As soon as he stretches his head out, I’ll give him the chop, and I’ll also need to pull out my long-prepared steamed buns as well, as quickly as possible.”

    The old man said, “What do you want a steamed bun for?”

    The big fellow said, “As soon as his head falls down, I’ll stick the steamed bun into his throat.”

    The old man said, “Why?”

    The big fellow said, “Because I can’t let the blood which spurts out get onto my body. The size of the steamed bun is perfectly suited for absorbing blood. Even after everyone in the execution ground has left, that steamed bun is still warm. I’ll then eat the steamed bun while it is still warm.”

    The old man wrinkled his forehead. “Why would you eat that steamed bun?”

    The big fellow said, “Because eating it can boost one’s courage.”

    He drank another cup of alcohol, then laughed again. “People in our line of business will become terrified after killing too many people as well. At the beginning, we’ll only be unable to sleep at night. Towards the end, we might even go crazy.”

    The old man said, “Truly insane?”

    The old fellow said, “My teacher is crazy now. He went crazy after only twenty years of being an executioner. He always says that there are wronged ghosts who seek him for their lives back, who want to chop his head off. One day, he actually stuffed his own head into a furnace.”

    Looking at him, the old man sighed. “Today, all the alcohol you drank is on the house.”

    The big fellow said, “Why?”

    The old man said, “Because it isn’t easy for you to earn money in this way. In the future, you definitely will go crazy as well.”

    The big fellow laughed loudly. “If you want to treat me, then I might as well drink, but I definitely won’t go crazy.”

    The old man said, “Why not?”

    The big fellow said, “Because I like this line of work.”

    The old man wrinkled his forehead. “You really like it?”

    The big fellow laughed. “Other people are violating the law when they kill people. But when I kill people, I earn money. Where can you possibly find such a great bargain as this?”

    He suddenly turned his head and asked Fu Hongxue, “How about you? What do you do?”

    Fu Hongxue did not respond. His stomach was contracting again, as though he were about to vomit again.

    From within the darkness, a cold voice said, “He’s the same as you. He’s also an executioner.”

    The long night was almost over.

    It is always the darkest before the dawn. This person was standing in the darkest spot.

    The big fellow was shocked. “You said that he’s also an executioner?”

    The shadow within the darkness nodded. “Only, he can’t compare to you.”

    The big fellow said, “In what way can’t he compare to me?”

    The shadow within the darkness said, “To you, not only is killing somebody very easy, but it’s also a very cheerful thing.”

    The big fellow said, “And him?”

    The shadow within the darkness said, “But he feels bitter pain when he kills. He is already no longer able to sleep at night.”

    At the beginning, we’ll be unable to sleep at night. Towards the end, we go crazy.

    The big fellow said, “He’s already killed many people?”

    The shadow within the darkness said, “Not counting those in the past, he’s already killed twenty three people in the past seventeen days.”

    The big fellow said, “When he kills people, does he get paid for it?”

    The shadow within the darkness said, “None.”

    The big fellow said, “Even though he isn’t getting paid, and even though he’s miserable doing it, he still kills people?”

    The shadow within the darkness said, “Yes.”

    The big fellow said, “Will he keep on killing people in the future?”

    The shadow in the darkness said, “Not only will he kill people in the future, he’ll kill right now as well.”

    The big fellow suddenly became tense. “Who is he going to kill right now?”

    The shadow in the darkness said, “Me!”

    ___________________

    CC, you are my most faithful commentator, and so I did a double chapter just for you

    Yes, the part with Xiao Ting actually made me depressed for a while; I stopped translating for a few hours because of it.

    Although Duo Qingzi didn't provide any insight, he was actually referenced earlier in the novel, when he ambushed Yan Nanfei at the Peacock Manor. And, of course, he provided an excellent 'example' for part two of this chapter. That list may very well be one of the better examples of badassness in wuxia.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 06-17-09 at 10:47 PM.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  18. #78
    Senior Member CC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    4,672

    Default

    Ni Ping, twenty years old.

    You need to edit that one back to Ni Hui.

    And yeah, she was another 'blank and shallow' goon. No insight on her motivations and background at all.


    Hahaha! A bad-arsed crippled drunk going round splitting heads with his sabre. I love the bloodfest. His silent drunken bad-arsery is a nice contrast to Xiao Feng's loud un-drunk bad-arsery. These 2 would make an incredible pair.


    p.s. Dammit. GL better bring Xiao Ting back in the story! I'd drink an XO shot in his memory if he does.
    Last edited by CC; 06-17-09 at 10:46 PM.
    Its BIxie Jianfa Gawdammit you guys!!!!

  19. #79
    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,799

    Default

    Chapter 20: The Grandmaster and the Zither-Playing Servant

    ONE

    The world became even darker. The man slowly walked out from the darkness, into the light.

    His face was also pale, just like Fu Hongxue’s. So white, it was translucent. So white, it was terrifying.

    His eyes were very bright, but they carried an indescribable sort of emptiness and melancholy.

    The big fellow stared at him in shock. He couldn’t help but ask, “If you know he is going to kill you, why did you come?”

    The man said, “I must come.”

    The big fellow said, “Why?”

    The man said, “Because I also want to kill him.”

    The big fellow said, “You must kill him, no matter what?”

    The man nodded. “In every person’s life, there are a few things he must do which he doesn’t wish to, because he simply doesn’t have any room for choosing.”

    The big fellow looked at him, and then looked at Fu Hongxue. He seemed both surprised and perplexed. This sort of affair was something which a person like him would never understand. But he already felt a murderous aura. The few square feet of this stall seemed to have suddenly become an execution ground. In fact, the killing aura was even stronger, even more fearful than that of the execution ground.

    The gaze of the man who walked out from the darkness turned to Fu Hongxue. His gaze became even more melancholic.

    Men without emotion shouldn’t feel this sort of melancholy.

    Xiao Siwu used to be a man without emotion.

    He suddenly let out a sigh. “You should know that I originally didn’t want to come.”

    Fu Hongxue was still silent. He seemed to have become drunk long ago, numb long ago. Even the hand with which he gripped his sabre seemed to have lost that boulder-like stability it once had. But he still gripped his sabre in his hand, and his sabre had not changed.

    Xiao Siwu looked at his sabre. “I believe that sooner or later, there will be a day when I can defeat your sabre.”

    Fu Hongxue had said long ago, “I will wait for you.”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Originally, I wanted to wait until that day came before I sought you out.”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly said, “Then you shouldn’t have come now.”

    Xiao Siwu said, “But I am already here.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “You knew that you shouldn’t have come. Why did you still come?”

    Xiao Siwu suddenly chuckled. His chuckle was filled with cynicism. “Haven’t you done things which you know you shouldn’t have done?”

    Fu Hongxue closed his mouth.

    He had.

    There were some things which he knew he shouldn’t have done, and yet insisted on doing them. Even he couldn’t control himself.

    These things had a sort of irrestible lure to them to begin with.

    In addition to that, there were things which you know you should not do, and yet the circumstances force you to do them. Even if you wanted to escape, you could not.

    Xiao Siwu said, “I’ve already sought you out three times. All three times, I wanted to kill you, but all three times, you let me go.”

    Fu Hongxue was silent again.

    Xiao Siwu said, “I know that you never wanted to kill me.”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly asked, “Do you also know why I don’t want to kill you?”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Because it has been a long time since you faced a true match. You, as well, want to wait for that day and see whether or not I can defeat your sabre.”

    Fu Hongxue admitted to it.

    To be invincible and unconquerable isn’t as pleasant a thing as some might imagine. When a man reaches the point of being without an equal opponent, he is even more lonely than being without friends.

    Xiao Siwu said, “But I know that you will no longer wait anymore. This time, you will definitely kill me.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Why?”

    Xiao Siwu said, “Because you are already incapable of controlling yourself.”

    His eyes were dull and empty. He looked just like a dead man, but his smile was still filled with cynicism. “Because you already are no longer the Fu Hongxue of bygone days.”

    Now, all you are is an executioner.

    He didn’t say those words. His dagger had already flown out; fast, accurate, and deadly!

    Although he knew that this dagger of his would definitely be defeated by Fu Hongxue, when he struck, he still used all of his strength.

    Because he was ‘sincere’. At least, his dagger was ‘sincere’.

    The significance of the word ‘sincere’ lies in professionalism and precision. The energy to work unflinchingly with perseverance, to not give up any opportunity until the point where all hope is lost, to never abandon the last bit of strength.

    It wasn’t easy to do this.

    Anybody who was capable of doing this would be successful at whatever they do. Unfortunately, he no longer had any opportunities left, because he took a path he should not have taken.

    Because Fu Hongxue had already drawn his sabre!

    A flash of sabre light. A human head falling to the ground.

    Fresh blood sprayed out like a red mist underneath the dim yellow light.

    The light turned red, but his face was still pale.

    All the blood in that big fellow’s body had frozen. Even his breathing seemed to have stopped.

    He also used a sabre. He also killed. But now, he had seen Fu Hongxue’s sabre. Now, he knew that what he used, couldn’t be really be considered a sabre at all.

    He even felt that he himself couldn’t really be considered to have killed someone before.

    The light turned a dim yellow again.

    He lifted his head up, and suddenly realized that Fu Hongxue was no longer underneath the light.

    The place where there was no light, naturally was the darkness.

    “Originally, I really could have spared him. Why did I still kill him?”

    Fu Hongxue stared at the sabre in his hand. He suddenly understood why Xiao Siwu had to come!

    Because he knew that Fu Hongxue could no longer control himself, he believed he had a chance to defeat Fu Hongxue.

    He was impatient to give it a try, so he was already unable to wait for that day.

    Waiting was, after all, a very painful thing. He was, after all, still young.

    Fu Hongxue’s judgement wasn’t wrong. He himself knew that he wasn’t wrong.

    Who was wrong?

    Regardless of who was wrong, the pressure and burden in his heart had already become incapable of being lightened, because the person he killed was someone which he definitely would not have killed in the past.

    “Can it be that I truly am no longer capable of controlling myself?”

    “Can it be that I truly have become an executioner?”

    “Can it be that I will go crazy, sooner or later?”

    TWO

    Not a speck of dust alighted on the table. Not a hint of sound was in the room. Gongzi Yu was deep in thought.

    “Xiao Siwu has already gone?” He had just asked that question.

    “Yes.”

    “What method did you use to induce him to go?”

    “We made him believe that he had a chance to kill Fu Hongxue.”

    “And the result?”

    “And the result was that Fu Hongxue killed him.”

    “Xiao Siwu was also the first to strike?”

    “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu was deep in thought. The person he was pondering was definitely Fu Hongxue. Only Fu Hongxue was worthy of him deeply pondering.

    Aside from Fu Hongxue, there was no one else who was capable of arousing his interest.

    Outside the window, it was already deep dusk. The scent of flowers quietly blew about in the night wind. He suddenly chuckled. “He is still killing, still taking lives in one sabre. But he’s almost finished.”

    He asked again, “Do you know why he is almost finished?”

    He wasn’t looking at Gu Qi, but rather someone standing behind him.

    Nobody would notice this person, because he was simply too silent, too peaceful, too ordinary, just like Gongzi Yu’s shadow.

    Nobody would pay attention to his shadow, but this question of Gongzi Yu’s wasn’t directed towards Gu Qi. It was directed to him.

    Can it be that Gu Qi was not capable of explaining this, but he was? Could it be that he knew more than even Gu Qi?

    “When someone is almost finished, they will reveal openings.”

    “Openings?”

    “Just like the openings which appear when a dam bursts.” Although the example he used was very strange, it was simple and correct.

    “Fu Hongxue already has openings?” Gongzi Yu asked again.

    “He originally didn’t want to kill Xiao Siwu. He already spared Xiao Siwu three times, but this time he was unable to control himself.”

    “This is his opening?”

    “Yes.”

    Gongzi Yu’s laughter became all the more joyful. “Do we now no longer need to send him people to kill?”

    “We can send him one more.”

    “Who?”

    “Himself.”

    The shadow used an even queerer expression. “In all the world, the only person who can kill him is Fu Hongxue, and only Fu Hongxue can kill himself.”

    What was even more ruthless than killing?

    Forcing someone to kill himself was more ruthless, because the experiences before that are longer and more painful.

    A long night. So long, it was frightening.

    The long night was already almost over.

    Fu Hongxue halted. He looked at the milky white morning fog rise amidst the bamboo and the flowers.

    He finally had endured this rather long night. How much longer could he endure?

    He was exhausted. Thirsty. Hungry. His head was about to split. His lips were so chapped, they were splitting as well. He didn’t know where he was right now, much less whose bamboo patch this was, whose flowers these were.

    He had walked for too long. He stopped here only because there was the sound of zither music.

    Empty, ghost-like zither music. It seemed to have arisen out of nowhere, just like the morning fog.

    He didn’t want to stop here. He didn’t know why he stopped here either.

    The illusory zither music sounded like a faraway call from a dear one.

    He had no dear ones, but he could hear this zither music. His spirit immediately was filled with a strange feeling, and then his entire person merged with the zither music. The bloody affairs of killing suddenly became distant and far away.

    This was the first time he felt totally relaxed since he had killed the brother and sister of the Ni family.

    Suddenly, with a clanging sound, the zither music ended. From within the small garden, a voice said, “I didn’t expect that there would be a good friend appreciating my music outside. Why don’t you come in and sit?”

    Without even thinking, Fu Hongxue pushed the door open and walked in.

    The small garden was filled with luxurious, beautiful flowers and trees. There are three or five humble sheds, and a white-haired old man wearing a grey garment that had already come out to welcome his guest.

    Fu Hongxue actually paid him formal respects. “I am an uninvited guest. How dare I trouble you, old sir, to personally welcome me?”

    The old man smiled. “It’s easy to find an honored guest, but hard to find a friend who appreciates one’s talents. If I don’t personally welcome you, wouldn’t I be a disrespectful person? In that case, how could I study the zither?”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Yes.”

    The old man said, “Please enter.”

    The room was tall and refined. A zither was on the table.

    It was a classically elegant zither, appearing to be at least a thousand-year old antique. But part of the zither strings had been scorched.

    Fu Hongxue’s face changed. “Can this be the legendary zither which has been said since antiquity to be the number one zither in the world, the ‘Scorched String’ zither?”

    The old man smiled. “Sir, you have a fine eye.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Then, old sir, would you be Grandmaster Zhong?”

    The old man said, “This useless old man truly is surnamed Zhong.”

    Fu Hongxue bowed deeply yet again. This was the first time he had ever paid such respect to someone. He wasn’t actually paying his respects to this person, but to his unparalleled, best-in-the-world zither skills. A lofty, unique skill with the fine arts; a lofty, unique character. All of these should receive the same respect.

    The wooden couch didn’t have a speck of dust on it. Grandmaster Zhong took off his shoes and walked onto the couch, sitting down on his knees. “You sit as well.”

    Fu Hongxue did not sit. The blood and filth on his body hadn’t been washed off for a long, long time.

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Although this useless old man has only one zither and one table in this house, the people who can come in aren’t many.”

    He stared at Fu Hongxue. “Do you know why I invited you in?”

    Fu Hongxue shook his head.

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Because I can tell that although your clothes are not tidy, your heart and soul are like a bright mirror. Why should you, then, feel a sense of inadequacy or inferiority?”

    Fu Hongxue sat down as well.

    Grandmaster Zhong smiled. He stroked the zither strings with his hand. With a sweet sound, the ghostly zither melody once more seized Fu Hongxue’s soul.

    He was still gripping his sabre in his hand, but he suddenly felt as though this sabre was unneeded. This was also the first time he had this feeling. The zither melody seemed to have taken him into an entirely different world, a world without sabres, a world without sin.

    Why must men kill men? Not only did they themselves kill people, they forced others to kill people as well.

    The hand with which Fu Hongxue gripped his sabre had already loosened. Originally, he really had almost collapsed, but within the zither melody, he freed himself.

    Although the sound came from far away, it entered the ears clearly. Just at this moment, a clanging sound suddenly came from far away. It also seemed to be a zither melody.

    The hand with which Grandmaster Zhong was playing the zither suddenly trembled. All five of the strings suddenly snapped.

    Fu Hongxue’s face changed as well. The world suddenly became deathly still. Grandmaster Zhong sat there without moving, seeming totally dejected. He appeared to have suddenly aged ten years.

    Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but ask, “Grandmaster, did you hear an evil omen?”

    Grandmaster Zhong neither heard nor asked. Zither music came from far away again. Cold sweat actually poured down from his forehead. When the zither melody came again, this noble, elegant, lofty old man suddenly jumped to his feet, then rushed out wearing only a set of white socks.

    A gust of wind blew by the door. The broken zither strings danced in the wind, as though the spirit of the zither had come to life and wanted to leave with him and see who was playing the zither from afar.

    Fu Hongxue left with him as well.

    The zither strings snapped. The man aged. It seemed as though even the flowers in this garden had suddenly turned wan and pallid.

    Why was this?

    THREE

    At the end of the long alley was a long street. At the end of the long street was a marketplace.

    Right now, it was the morning market. The marketplace was filled with all sorts of people, filled with all sorts of sounds.

    The people were all common people. The sounds were all common sounds. What did this refined grandmaster Zhong come here to look for? The previously spotless white socks he was wearing was already covered with mud and grime. He stupidly stood there, gazing hither and to, looking as though he were a young housewife who had lost her purse.

    Why would a world-famous zither-god suddenly become like this?

    Fu Hongxue originally wasn’t a man of many words, but at this moment, he couldn’t help but ask, “Grandmaster, what are you looking for?”

    Grandmaster Zhong was silent, a strange expression on his face. Only after a long time did he respond, “I am looking for a person, I must find this person.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Who?”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “An incomparably elite person.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “What area is he an elite in?”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Zither.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “His zither skills are higher than your own?”

    Grandmaster Zhong let out a long sigh. Gloomily, he said, “One sound from him is enough to make me never again dare to touch the zither.”

    Fu Hongxue’s features couldn’t help but change. “Grandmaster, do you already know where he is?”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “The zither sound came from here. He should be here as well.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “This is only a marketplace.”

    Grandmaster Zhong sighed. “It is precisely because this is a marketplace that he is able to display his real abilities.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Why?”

    Grandmaster Zhong’s gaze was far away, as though he had lost something but also gained something. “Because although he himself is in a vulgar, common place, his heart is far away amongst the clouds. The tens of thousands of vulgar, common things in the world can no longer stir his clear, water-like heart.”

    Fu Hongxue was silent. He slowly raised his head, then suddenly said in a loud voice, “Grandmaster, can he be the person you are speaking of?”

    There was a butcher’s stall in the marketplace.

    No matter what type of marketplace it was, there would be a butcher’s stall.

    Where there was a butcher’s stall, there would be a butcher.

    All butchers feel themselves to be out of the ordinary, believing themselves to be nobler than the other street peddlers.

    Because they can kill. Because they aren’t afraid to bleed.

    This butcher was in the middle of chopping meat. There was a very large butcher’s block next to the meat, and beneath the block there was a man resting.

    A lazy-looking man in white.

    The ground was both wet and filthy. Many married women bought vegetables here while wearing spiked shoes. But this person didn’t care. He lazily rested in the middle of the muddy ground. On his knee, there was a zither.

    He seemed to be playing the zither, but the zither produced no sound.

    Grandmaster Zhong had already walked over to him. He respectfully stood in front of him, then bowed to the ground.

    But this man was looking at his hand. He didn’t even lift his head.

    Grandmaster Zhong’s expression became even more solemn and respectful. He actually referred to himself as a ‘student’. “This student is named Zhong Li.”

    The man in white dully said, “Can it be the god of zither music, Grandmaster Zhong?”

    Cold sweat suddenly emanated from Grandmaster Zhong’s face. He haltingly said, “Noble sir, when you touched the strings of your zither, you shocked and overawed the world. Why have you stopped playing?”

    The man in white said, “I am afraid.”

    Grandmaster Zhong was astonished. “Afraid? Afraid of what?”

    The man in white said, “I am afraid that you will commit suicide by ramming your head against that ‘Scorched String’ zither of yours.”

    Grandmaster Zhong’s head sunk. Sweat fell down like rain, but he couldn’t help but ask, “Noble sir, do you come from afar?”

    The man in white said, “I come from afar, but know not where I go.”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Dare I ask for your honorable name?”

    The man in white said, “No need to ask me. I’m just a zither-playing servant.”

    A zither-playing servant? A man like this would be a zither-playing servant to someone else? Who was worthy of having an apprentice such as this?

    Grandmaster Zhong couldn’t believe it. This truly was unbelievable for him. He couldn’t help but ask, “Based on your great talent, noble sir, how could you place yourself beneath another?”

    The man in white dully said, “Because I’ve always been inferior to him.”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly said, “Who is he?”

    The man in white chuckled. “Since I know who you are, you should know who he is.”

    Fu Hongxue gripped his sabre tightly again. “Gongzi Yu.”

    The man in white laughed. “You really do know.”

    Fu Hongxue suddenly struck out like lightning, seizing his hand. Who would have imagined that Grandmaster Zhong would rush forward and tightly grasp Fu Hongxue’s arm. He loudly shouted, “No matter what, don’t hurt his hands! This is an incomparable national treasure, the hands of a true grandmaster!”

    The man in white laughed loudly. The butcher chopping the meat suddenly chopped his knife at the crown of Fu Hongxue’s head.

    A vegetable peddler by the side of the butcher also used a weightbeam as an acupoint sealing device to attack, striking at Fu Hongxue’s ‘Qimen’, ‘Jiangtai’, and ‘Xuanyang’ acupoints.

    The housewife carrying a vegetable basket also attacked, using the vegetable basket to cover Fu Hongxue’s head.

    From behind, a peddler carrying two chickens on a carrying pole walked over as well. He actually pulled off his pole and used it to strike at Fu Hongxue’s waist.

    Suddenly, a flash of sabre light. With a swishing sound, the pole was shattered, the vegetable basket disintegrated, the weightbeam was cut in half, and a butcher’s knife suddenly flew out, with a bloody hand attached to it.

    The chickens and the ducks in the cage flew out. The marketplace became as chaotic as a pot of freshly made gruel.

    The man in white beneath the chopping board had already disappeared.

    A crowd of people gathered. The butcher, the vegetable peddler, the housewife, and the chicken seller had all disappeared into the crowd. But the zither melody could still be heard from far away.

    Fu Hongxue parted the crowd and walked out. Outside of the crowd, there was still more people, but none of the ones he was looking for. However, he had already heard the zither melody.

    Where the zither melody was coming from was where he was going. He didn’t walk very quickly. This seemingly entirely imaginary zither melody couldn’t be caught by anyone. What’s the point of walking quickly?

    But he didn’t give up. So long as the zither melody was ahead of him, he would keep walking forward. Grandmaster Zhong actually followed from behind. His snow-white stockings were ruined now. Even his two feet seemed to be ruined. No one knew how long they had been walking.

    The sun began to rise. They had long since left the market, left the city. The gentle spring wind blew across the lush seedlings in the fields. From far away, the mountains rose and undulated, and the earth was as gentle and warm as a virgin’s chest. They had entered ‘her’ embrace.

    There were green hills in all directions and water everywhere. The zither melody seemed to come from the deep mountains and the watery depths.

    The mountains were now deep, and the flowing water had stilled. There was a small log cabin next to a small lake.

    There was a zither and a table in the cabin, but nobody there.

    The zither strings still seemed to be quivering, and beneath the zither there was a short letter:

    The sabre reveals openings, the zither strings snap,
    The moon has fallen, the flowers have withered.
    The young master [Gongzi] is like a dragon,
    Hovering above the nine heavens.”


    FOUR

    The empty hills were silent.

    Grandmaster Zhong faced the faraway mountains. He was silent for a long, long time, before slowly saying, “This really is a good place. Those who don’t want to leave can stay. Those who cannot leave, why leave?”

    Fu Hongxue looked at him from far away, waiting for him to continue.

    Grandmaster Zhong was silent for another long period of time. “I no longer intend to leave.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Do you not wish to go, or are you unable to go?”

    Grandmaster Zhong didn’t reply. Instead, he turned to look at him. Facing him, he asked, “How old do you think I am?”

    His head was filled with white hair, and his face was filled with the marks and scars of having lived an exhausting life. He looked weary and old, older than when Fu Hongxue had first seen him.

    He answered his own question. “I was famous when I was young. This year, I’m only thirty five years old.”

    Fu Hongxue looked at his tired face and his white hair. Although he did not speak, he couldn’t help but appear shocked.

    Grandmaster Zhong chuckled. “I know I look very old. I’ve had white hair for many years now.”

    His chuckle was filled with agony. “Because I have already exhausted all of my life’s energy. Although I have gained an amount of comfort and fame from the zither which others cannot even imagine, the zither has also swallowed up all of my marrow and my blood.”

    Fu Hongxue understood his meaning. If a person became totally involved in one thing, it was as though he had made a pact with demons.

    Everything you want, I will give you. But you must give me everything you have as well, including your life and your soul.

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Originally, this was a fair trade. I didn’t have any cause for complaint. But now…”

    He stared at Fu Hongxue. “You study the sabre. If you were like me, and had given up everything for your sabre, but then suddenly discovered that someone could defeat you using a single flick of the finger, how would you feel?”

    Fu Hongxue didn’t answer.

    Grandmaster Zhong let out a sigh, then slowly said, “Naturally, you won’t understand this. To you, a sabre is only a sabre. It doesn’t have any other meanings.”

    Fu Hongxue wanted to laugh, laugh loudly. But he naturally couldn’t laugh.

    A sabre is only a sabre? Who could imagine the meaning which this sabre held for him? Hadn’t he also made a pact with demons, hadn’t he also given up everything? What did he get in return?

    Aside from him, perhaps there was nobody else in the world who understood this better. But he didn’t speak. His suffering had entered his very bones. He couldn’t even vomit it out.

    Grandmaster Zhong chuckled again. “But no matter what, since we can meet each other, it must be destiny. I want to play another song for you.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “And then?”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “And then, if you want to leave, you can leave.”

    Fu Hongxue said, “Won’t you leave?”

    Grandmaster Zhong said, “Leave? Where can I leave to?”

    Fu Hongxue finally fully understood his meaning. This was a good place. He had already intended to be buried here. To him, life was no longer a glorious thing. It was shame. He already had no purpose in life.

    With a strumming sound, the zither music started again.

    It was already dark outside. The darkness was like a fine gauze covering the mountain valley.

    The zither melody was mournful, as though an ancient, beautiful white palace was telling a story of the misery of mankind.

    Although in life, there would always be joy, it was always just momentary and fleeting. Only tragedy was eternal.

    A person’s life was a very short thing to begin with. Regardless of who you are, you wouldn’t be able to avoid death eventually.

    For what purpose did people live?

    Why must they struggle and fight? Why must they be miserable and unhappy? Why is death the only eternal, peaceful answer to unanswerable questions?

    And then, the zither began to speak of the beauty and peace of death, a beauty and peace which no one could ever describe using words. Only his zither music could express it.

    Because he himself had sunk into a beautiful dream of death.

    The death god’s hand seemed to be guiding his in playing the zither, coaxing men to give up everything and be forever peaceful in the dreamlands of death.

    There, there was neither pain nor struggles against other men.

    There, not only was there no killing, there was also no men forcing other men to kill.

    This definitely was something which no one could resist.

    Fu Hongxue’s hand was already starting to tremble. His clothes had already been soaked with sweat as well. Since life was so tragic, why must a man continue to live?

    The hand with which he gripped his sabre became even tighter. Was he preparing to draw his sabre? Who was he going to kill with the sabre?

    The only person who can kill him is Fu Hongxue, and only Fu Hongxue can kill himself.

    The zither music became even more tragic. The mountain valley became even darker.

    There was no light. There was no hope.

    The zither music seemed to be calling out to him. And he seemed to see Yan Nanfei and Mingyue Xin, their faces filled with smiles and laughter.

    Were they already at peace? Were they advising him to accept that peace and beauty? Fu Hongxue finally drew his sabre!

    _______________

    I know, I want Xiao Ting back in the story as well. Fingers crossed!

    The Ni Ping/Ni Hui thing was fixed. Thanks!
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

  20. #80
    Moderator Han Solo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    5,562

    Default

    RWX- I'm reading as well

    FHX's love relationships are forever more tangled and realistic than that of Yip Hooi and Li Tan Hua.

    Han Solo
    Wuxiapedia

    Quote Originally Posted by bliss
    I think they're probably at the same level as or one level below Ah Qing, which is about the level of a 2nd or 3rd generation Quan Zhen disciple.
    Troll Control

Similar Threads

  1. 圆月弯刀 Against the Blade of Honor EP Guide
    By Suet Seung in forum Episode Guides
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 05-27-11, 05:19 PM
  2. The Last Breakthrough 《天涯俠醫》
    By maymoo in forum TVB Series
    Replies: 1755
    Last Post: 10-12-06, 01:57 AM
  3. 天涯海角 (The Legend of Heaven's Edge)
    By vanillaskye in forum Fan Fictions
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 08-16-06, 05:56 PM
  4. Horizon, Bright Moon, Sabre By GL
    By metwin1 in forum Wuxia Translations
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 04-03-06, 09:36 PM
  5. Replies: 32
    Last Post: 01-04-05, 07:14 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts