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Thread: Adventures of Lu Xiao Feng, Book 2, Embroidery Thief

  1. #21

    Default Last half of Chapter 3

    Si Kong Zhai Xin was lying in bed, using his own arm as a pillow. He was focused on the cup of wine that was on his chest. Lu Xiao Feng always liked to drink wine like this, not only that, when Lu Xiao Feng drinks like this, he does not spill a single drop of wine. If it was something that Lu Xiao Feng could do, then Si Kong Zhai Xin must learn it, not just learn it but master it better than Lu Xiao Feng.

    He suddenly heard someone laughing outside of his door.

    "That's my trick and mine alone. You'll never learn it!" A man pushed open the door and walked in. Lu Xiao Feng, of course.

    Si Kong Zhai Xin did not turn at his comment but instead remained completely focused on that cup of wine on top of his chest.

    "What are you up to now?" He coldly demanded.

    "Up to? No, I'm only here to keep you company!"

    "You are leaving her alone to keep me company?"

    "Is the bet off now?" Instead of answering his question, Lu Xiao Feng laughed and asked a question of his own.

    "Uh huh!"

    "So we are still friends?"

    "Uh huh!"

    "Well, since we are friends, then why shouldn't I come and keep you company?"

    "Of course you could, but now I think I'm going to go and keep her company!" Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly inhaled deeply. The wine cup on his chest immediately flew onto his lips and the win inside of the cup flew into his mouth as well. Unfortunately, not all of the wine flew into his mouth, the other half of the wine spilled all over his entire body.

    "I told you," Lu Xiao Feng laughed heartily at his friend's misfortune. "You won't master that move even if you tried a life time!"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin gave Lu Xiao Feng a fierce glare before he started to get up. Suddenly, his complexion changed dramatically as his entire face tightened and began to twitch. His entire body was twitching, as if a thin blade had just been stabbed into his stomach.

    "What's the matter?" Even Lu Xiao Feng was shocked by this turn of events. Si Kong Zhai Xin opened his mouth, trying to speak, but nothing came out. Lu Xiao Feng immediately ran to his side and helped him sit up. Suddenly, he caught a whiff of a strange scent.

    He picked up that wine cup and sniffed. His expression changed dramatically.

    "There's poison in this cup!" By now Si Kong Zhai Xin's face was deathily pale and huge beads of sweat were collecting on his forehead.

    "Where did the wine come from? Was anybody here earlier?" Lu Xiao Feng inquired.

    Si Kong Zhai Xin bearly managed to shook his head a little and stared at the wine flask sitting on the table. There was still some wine in the flask.

    Lu Xiao Feng grabbed the flask and sniffed it, the wine in the flask was not poisonous.

    "The poison is on the cup!" The cup had probably always been in this room. Just then when Si Kong Zhai Xin was eavedropping on the roof, somebody must have came here and put something on the cup.

    "You were always such a careful guy!" Lu Xiao Feng stumped his feet in frustration. "Why are you so thoughtless now!"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin gritted his teeth and finally squeezed three words out of his mouth.

    "Still Dusk Convent!"

    "You know somebody there who can heal you? You want me to take you there?"

    "Quick... quickly...." Si Kong Zhai Xin struggled to nodded a little.

    "Alright, I'll go find Xue Bing, we'll take you there together!" Lu Xiao Feng picked Si Kong Zhai Xin up and charged out, looking for Xue Bing.

    But Xue Bing was no where to be found. That unfinished cup of wine that she was drinking earlier was still on the table, but she had disappeared into thin air. On the plate that used to have some chopped beef was now placed a pair of hands, a pair of severed hands! Lu Xiao Feng recognized that they were Sun Zhong's hands. Could he have organized some people and returned for revenge and actually took Xue Bing away with them? But how could they have not heard anything next door?

    Xue Bing was not an easy customer, how could she be taken away so easily? Lu Xiao Feng did not have time to think these things out in detail. At the moment, everything had to be put on hold, the most important thing was to save Si Kong Zhai Xin. Besides, this turn of events was too shocking, too unimaginable. No matter how much he tried, he would not be able to figure it out anyways. Fortunately, the carriage that they had rode in on was still here.

    Lu Xiao Feng woke up the driver and hopped onto the carriage with, by now, a seemingly completely immobile Si Kong Zhai Xin.

    "You can't die, you are not a good man, how can your life be so short?" He mumbled to him, and to himself.

    Miraculously, Si Kong Zhai Xin did not die and held on in this half dead state all the way to Still Dusk Convent.

    Still Dusk Convent was situated within a black bamboo forest, a black bamboo forest on the side of the mountain. The gate to the mountain was open, but human world was already left behind outside of the bamboo forest. It was impossible for the carriage to go up the mountain side, so Lu Xiao Feng, carrying the unconscious Si Kong Zhai Xin, made his way through the bamboo forest, stepping quietly over the fallen leaves. Along with the breeze came the last stroke of the night bell. But night had not fallen yet, the setting sun's color filled the entire sky, it was dusk.

    "You made it! It was hard but you made it!" Lu Xiao Feng mumbled as he looked down at the Si Kong Zhai Xin in his arms, trying to catch his breath. Si Kong Zhai Xin's body shuddered slightly and he gently groaned, as if he had heard Lu Xiao Feng's words.

    "How are you feeling?" Lu Xiao Feng immediately asked.

    "I'm starving!" Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly flung open his eyes.

    "You are starving?" Lu Xiao Feng was startled.

    "Yeah, these last two days you went off the carriage to eat and drink to your hearts content and all I could do was hide inside the carriage chewing through cold cookie dough. How could I not be starving?" Si Kong Zhai Xin winked at Lu Xiao Feng. Lu Xiao Feng was speechless. He looked like he had just swallowed 600 live worms.

    "Careful how you carry me, don't drop me ok?" Si Kong Zhai Xin instructed.

    "Oh I'll be careful, but I'm just afraid that it won't kill you!" Lu Xiao Feng winked. He suddenly lifted Si Kong Zhai Xin above his head and slammed his body down towards the ground. But before Si Kong Zhai Xin hit the ground, he suddenly flipped in mid air. In fact, he did 7 or 8 flips in a role and gently landed on the ground. He took one look at Lu Xiao Feng and began to laugh, laugh so hard that he doubled over.

    "I should have let you die right there!" Lu Xiao Feng bitterly declared.

    "Only the good die young, how could a man like me die?" Si Kong Zhai Xin was still laughing. He actually just admitted that he was not a good man.

    "You were not poisoned were you?"

    "Of course not, who could poison an immortal old fox like me?"

    "That poison on the wine cup was something you put there yourself?"

    "That was not poison to begin with!" Si Kong Zhai Xin laughed triumphantly. "It was just some scented herbs that smells like poison. But nothing will happen even if you ingest 1 kilogram of it."

    "You pretended to be poisoned so as to keep me busy and make me take you here."

    "If I don't do that, then how else could I get the thing out of that place?"

    "How did you get the thing out of there? This entire time you pretended to be on the verge of death and did not move a hair!"

    "I have my ways. Don't forget, not only am I the "King of Thieves", I'm an clever old fox too!"

    "But if it wasn't for a little fox, this job probably would not be anywhere near this easy!" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly snickered.

    "Little fox?" Si Kong Zhai Xin seemed to be surprised at the revalation. "Other than you, is there another little fox?"

    "Maybe not a little fox, but certainly a female fox!" Lu Xiao Feng sneered.

    "I knew I couldn't keep you in the dark forever!" Si Kong Zhai Xin burst out laughing again. "You are not that stupid after all!"

    "When did you make this arrangement with Xue Bing?"

    "When you went off to relieve yourself!"

    "Why would she go along with your plan?"

    "Maybe because she fallen for me!" Si Kong Zhai Xin matter of factly said.

    "She would fall for an old fox like you?"

    "I see you don't understand, all women love old foxes!" Si Kong Zhai Xin laughed at himself.

    "Looks like she really has been hypnotized by one of your evil methods, so much so that she was actually capable of doing such a thing!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed but then suddenly asked another question. "If she went off to complete the job for you and give the thing to the owner, then what was that pair of severed hands doing there?"

    "Severed hands?" Si Kong Zhai Xin seemed to be caught off guard. "What severed hands?"

    "That hand that was cut off of Sun Zhong!"

    "Where was that hand?"

    "On the plate that had beef on it!"

    "I don't know anything about that!" Si Kong Zhai Xin frowned and shook his head.

    "You really don't know?"

    "When have I ever lied to you?" Si Kong Zhai Xin sighed.

    "You have always lied to me!" Lu Xiao Feng bittered replied.

    "A genius like you? How could I ever get you to believe in my lies?" Si Kong Zhai Xin blinked.

    "You shouldn't be able to," Lu Xiao Feng could not help himself and sighed again. Smiling meekly, he continued. "But pity that I am just too nice of a guy."

    "Is that nice man outside Lu Xiao Feng?" A person suddenly asked from behind the gate.

    The gate was half closed, inside the door was a small little yard with a person sitting in a bamboo chair underneath the white poplar trees in the yard. The dusk sun shoned down upon lonely white poplar tree, and also shoned upon his pale face. His nose was straight and his forehead pertruded out, anybody could see in one glace that he must be a powerful and dignified person. But where those bright and shining eyes of his used to be, now there were only two black holes.

    "Jiang Chong Wei!" Lu Xiao Feng shouted in surprise as he entered the yard. "How did you get here?"

    "If I'm here, then were else can I be?" Jiang Chong Wei smiled. His smile was melancholy and painful. "I'm nothing more than a blind man now, the Royal Palace would never use a blind man as warden, even if they didn't force me to leave, I would have left myself anyways!"

    As Lu Xiao Feng watched his face, his heart was filled with sadness as well. Jiang Chong Wei was a very talented man with a great future ahead of him. But a blind man....

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly turned his head back towards Si Kong Zhai Xin.

    "Do you recognize him?" He stared at Si Kong Zhai Xin. Si Kong Zhai Xin nodded.

    "Do you know how he became like this?" Si Kong Zhai Xin sighed. He did not feel all too well inside either.

    "Since you know, you should tell me who that person is now."

    "Who?"

    "The person who was sewed the thing, the same person who sent you to steal it from me!"

    "You think they are one and the same?"

    "Correct!"

    "Maybe that satin was that person's to begin with, why would that person want me to steal it back?"

    "Maybe there was some secret on it and the person was afraid of me finding them."

    "Haven't you already looked it over a lot of times?"

    "Not enough!"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin did not responde. He also looked very conflicted, very pained for trying to make this decision.

    "So you did owe this person, but if this person did do these things. If you still have a shred of humanity in you, then you shouldn't keep protecting this person!"

    "Must you make me say it?"

    "You have to tell me!"

    "Alright, I'll tell you." Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly sighed. "That person is her!"

    He suddenly pointed in front of him. Lu Xiao Feng instinctively turned to the direction of that he pointed and saw a person slowly walking out from inside the convent, head bowed. It was a Taoist nun with a purple robe, white stockings, and a purple hairpin made out of jade in her ebony black hair. Her complexion was pale as well. Within those pure water-like bright eyes of hers was filled with worry and sadness which gave her an even more indescribable, plain but not of this world beauty that was like a purple rays that now resided at the edge of the sky. With her head bowed, she slowly approached with a bowl of steaming hot medicine in her hands.

    As soon as Lu Xiao Feng saw her, he knew that Si Kong Zhai Xin was lying again. That person could never be her. He turned around with the intention of inquiring further, the Si Kong Zhai Xin had disappeared. In that instant that Lu Xiao Feng saw this purple robed nun, this old fox had shot out through the door like a meteor. In that instant, Lu Xiao Feng seemed to be a little bit mesmerized. In truth, anybody would hard pressed not to be mesmerized when seeing this kind of otherworldly beauty. But even if he tried to chase after him now, it would be futile. Si Kong Zhai Xin might not be the fastest man in the world, but he was not that far off. Lu Xiao Feng sighed and swore that he would one day catch this old fox and force him to swallow 680 worms, worms that he dug out himself.

    The setting sun's color faded, the breeze seemed colder. The cool breeze made the white poplar leaves rustle as it made its way through them. The purple robed nun slowly approached, still not picking her head up.

    "Qing Xia, is that you?" Jiang Chong Wei suddenly asked.

    "It's me, it's time for your medicine." Her voice was tender like the evening breeze.

    "Lu Xiao Feng, are you still here?" Jiang Chong Wei asked.

    "I'm here."

    "This is my younger sister, Qing Xia, she is also the hostess here. Now you should finally understand why I would be here!"

    "Jin Jiu Ling and Hua Man Lou are looking for you!" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly informed him.

    "I know!"

    "Do they know you are here?"

    "They have already came here!"

    "What did Hua Man Lou say to you?"

    A very strange expression suddenly appeared on Jiang Chong Wei's face.

    "He told me to not forget that he is blind as well; and furthermore, never forget that he's had a great life!" He slowly said.

    "Of course you didn't forget!"

    "And that's why I'm still alive!" A man like him, to be suddenly blinded was not an easy thing to have the courage to live with.

    "He is truly a remarkable man!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed in admiration.

    "He is not like anybody else," Jiang Chong Wei nodded and sighed as well. "He's unique. He's always looking for ways to let others live on!"

    "I should have known that his reason for finding you was to tell you those things!"

    "He asked me some other questions as well!"

    "What questions?"

    "About what happened that day in the Royal Treasure Vault!"

    "I wanted to ask you that too. Other than what you told Jin Jiu Ling, have you noticed anything else suspicious?"

    "No!" Jiang Chong Wei's face twitch as if out of horror once again.

    "Even if I did, I would not tell you!" He slowly declared.

    "Why not?"

    "Because I don't want you to find this person!"

    "Why not?" Lu Xiao Feng was quite confused.

    "Because I have never seen anyone with such terrifying martial arts, even if you find this person, you would not be able to match up!"

    His body was shaking now as well, as if he was thinking about that terrifying person again, and that even more terrifying needle. Blood was dripping off of the needle; fresh, red, blood....

    Lu Xiao Feng wanted to ask some more but Jiang Qing Xia suddenly and coldly interrupted him.

    "You have already asked too much, his wounds are not completely healed yet. I don't want him thinking back to what happened that day."

    "It's ok, I'll be completely healed very soon!" Jiang Chong Wei managed a forced laugh.

    "You'll completely heal very soon, I'm sure of it!" Lu Xiao Feng managed to force a little laugh as well. "I know you have always been one tough nut!"

    "Well, since you are here, then why don't you stay a couple of days?" Jiang Chong Wei's laugh was a bit more joyous and genuine now. "Maybe I'll be able to think of something in that time for you!"

    "How could he stay here?" Jiang Qing Xia frowned. "There has never been any man here!"

    "Aren't I a man?" Jiang Chong Wei laughed.

    "But you...."

    "If I can stay here, then he could too!" Jiang Chong Wei's expression darkened.

    "But I...." Lu Xiao Feng tried to cut in.

    "No matter what, you are staying here," Jiang Chong Wei cut him off too. "Hua Man Lou and Jin Jiu Ling might return in those couple of days, you never know. They are looking for you as well!"

    "But after you are going to bed after you take your medicine!" Jiang Qing Xia said.

    "I'll go to bed. Why don't you be a good host and lead him back and give him something to eat? You can't let a guest go hungry!"

    "Would this Alms Giver please follow me?" Expressionless, Jiang Qing Xia turned around and coldly instructed Lu Xiao Feng.

    She did not even seem to look Lu Xiao Feng in his eyes. She was truly a cold woman, colder even than ice.
    春花秋月几时了,
    往事知多少?
    小楼昨夜又东风,
    故国不堪回首明月中.
    雕栏玉砌应犹在,
    只是朱颜改.
    问君能有几多愁,
    恰似一江春水向东流.
    --南唐后主,李煜.

  2. #22

    Default A couple of points.

    That "pair of hands" thing was confusing for me too. Xue Bing only cut off one of Sun Zhong's hands, and Lu Xiao Feng repeated that the hand was the one that Xue Bing cut off of Sun Zhong (who had it coming, btw), he also recognized that hand. But I'm not sure how that turned into a pair of hands either.

    Hua Man Lou is like the greatest guy ever isn't he? If ever there was a role model for anyone in wuxia, it's not GJ, it's not YG, it's not ZWJ, DY, XF, XZ, LHC, WXB, LXF, or CLX. It's not any of those guys. It's Hua Man Lou. At least, that's my opinion. (Which is never wrong )
    春花秋月几时了,
    往事知多少?
    小楼昨夜又东风,
    故国不堪回首明月中.
    雕栏玉砌应犹在,
    只是朱颜改.
    问君能有几多愁,
    恰似一江春水向东流.
    --南唐后主,李煜.

  3. #23
    Member Acidbeastonfire's Avatar
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    Default Re: A couple of points.

    Originally posted by Moinllieon


    Hua Man Lou is like the greatest guy ever isn't he? If ever there was a role model for anyone in wuxia, it's not GJ, it's not YG, it's not ZWJ, DY, XF, XZ, LHC, WXB, LXF, or CLX. It's not any of those guys. It's Hua Man Lou. At least, that's my opinion. (Which is never wrong )
    Agree 100% !
    He is so at peace with himself. All those so called Taoists (Wudang & Emei) & Buddhists (ShaoLin) can learn a thing or two about spiritual cultivation from him!
    "Man is his own star; and the soul that can
    Render an honest and a perfect man,
    Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
    Nothing to him falls early or too late.
    Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."

  4. #24
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    could you tell me more about his life?

    He is really a unique man.

    Moin, I usually read your story at least twice, here or at JY's and then at your site.

    I am forever your fan.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  5. #25
    Junior Member
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    Default

    Just a short note to say thank you, Moinllieon
    my for you.

  6. #26

    Default

    Thanks Goofy and pjaya, we translators live off of compliments like yours.

    As for your question Goofy, what you have read so far is pretty much all Gu Long ever said about Hua Man Lou. Gu Long never really delved back into Hua Man Lou's past again.

    All we know is that:
    1) He has been blind since birth.
    2) He's the 7th son of the Hua family, the richest family in the area immediately south of the Yangtze, which includes Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. Traditionally, this place is filled with unbelievably rich gentry families and merchants. (In Chinese history, when the Western Jin dynasty (the one that emerged from the 3 Kingdoms, not the Jurchen one in LoCH) collasped, many of the wealthiest and most influential families moved to that region along with the Emperors of the Eastern Jin dynasty. So Hua Man Lou is RICH.
    3) Despite his richness, he did not like flaunting it or relying on it. Which was why he moved into that house where we first find him along with Shang Guan Fei Yan. When that happened, he had just moved into the house not so long ago.
    4) Lu Xiao Feng and him go way back. So much so that Lu Xiao Feng taught Hua Man Lou some moves.

    And that's about it. I wish there's more too.
    春花秋月几时了,
    往事知多少?
    小楼昨夜又东风,
    故国不堪回首明月中.
    雕栏玉砌应犹在,
    只是朱颜改.
    问君能有几多愁,
    恰似一江春水向东流.
    --南唐后主,李煜.

  7. #27
    Senior Member ProtoM's Avatar
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    a woman cold as ice....well usually girl like that falls in love easily if the right situation arise. lol

  8. #28
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    this book is more action-packed and just has more twists than the first one. it's getting good.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  9. #29
    Senior Member Melanie's Avatar
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    Talking Yay, this story is so exciting!

    You've got another reader, Moin. I am waiting anxiously for the next installment.

  10. #30
    Senior Member Yang Guo's Avatar
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    Default

    Are you the same Melanie that used to stalk the wuxiaworld board?

  11. #31
    Senior Member junny's Avatar
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    Just a nitpick, Moin

    Sikong Zhaixing (has a "g" at the end of "xing").

    Otherwise, the translation looks good.
    玉木宏

  12. #32
    Senior Member Melanie's Avatar
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    Talking LOL

    Originally posted by Yang Guo
    Are you the same Melanie that used to stalk the wuxiaworld board?
    I hardly go to that board, so I don't think I qualify as a stalker there. I was only minding my own business and reading some of the posts there and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Anyway, I didn't realize that you have signed up with spcnet. Welcome. How do you like it here so far? Isn't the wuxia section here great? I just recently discovered all these novel translations at spcnet.

  13. #33
    Senior Member Yang Guo's Avatar
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    Default

    That board was the first board I ever went to and it was great... until somethings/people got out of hand *coughs*

    I knew about this board for a long time but with the overwhelming amount of members I tried to stay away until that board died.

    But I'm happy here! so many translations!!!
    The people here are very into wuxia stuff too
    and did I mention how great the translations and translaters are?

    Thanks for welcoming (although I've been here for a month now) you're the first one to welcome me actually

    When I found out about all the translations and how I've been kept in the dark since they were all in the forums instead I went crazy and was mentally smacking myself for not joining sooner

  14. #34
    Senior Member Melanie's Avatar
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    Talking

    LOL, I am glad to hear that you are happy here, Guo-er. I am sorry to hear that wuxiaworld closed. Zchen really did a good job there. Since nobody has officially welcomed you yet, let me welcome you again. WELCOME! I would love to stay and chat, but my eyelids are drooping. Time for me to go to sleep. Good night.

  15. #35
    Senior Member Yang Guo's Avatar
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    hahah g'nite kiddo

    Sweet Dreams~

  16. #36
    Member kraal's Avatar
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    Talking Thanks for the translations!

    Moinllieon,

    I registered with SPCNET Forums for only ONE reason: I wanted to thank you for translating LXF. I sent email through SPCNET and your homepage but since I never got a reply, I wanted to make sure you got received my thanks.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the next translated installment.

    I know you said you'd only translate the first 3 books because they're the only ones worth translating, but could I request synopses of the other books? Mostly I'm wanting to know what happened to my favorite character, Hua Man Lou.

    Btw, is there any reason you're not including links on the main SPCNET Gu Long translations page to the rest of your LXF pages?

  17. #37

    Default

    1000th post.

    First of all, kraal, thank you for your kind words. I assure you, the reason behind my lack of a reply is because for some reason, I am having difficulty accessing my emails from that account beyond a certain date (in early July). If I had received your email, I would have sure replied.

    About summarizing the other stories. I am definitely considering it, since more than one person has asked me to do so. So stay tuned.

    As for the lack of a link from the SPCNet page, I do not know, since it is SC who is in charge of that and I have little to nothing to do with it. I'm just honoured that she's put my translations up at all.


    Chapter 4
    A Pair of Red Shoes

    Dusk colors were darker, the laterns in the meditation room was not yet lit. The last burst of brilliance from the setting sun fell upon the walk way leading up to the guest room behind the meditation room. It fell upon those old and decaying wooden columns, making them shine like they did in the days long past. In the gentle July night breeze, there came with it a gentle fragrance from the far away mountains and trees that just fills one's heart with joy and comfort. Jiang Qing Xia was walking very slowly, Lu Xiao Feng was also walking very slowly. Jiang Qing Xia did not say a word, Lu Xiao Feng did not open his mouth either. He seemed to have realized that he was an unwelcomed guest. Unwelcomed guests should all be at least wise enough to keep their mouth shut. The yard next to them was deserted, not a person could be seen nor heard. This entire place was a lonely place to began with, lonely people are used to the quiet.

    "Alm-giver, please enter!" Jiang Qing Xia pushed open a door and turned to Lu Xiao Feng with a serious face.

    "Many thanks!" Lu Xiao Feng replied with a serious face. The lamps in the room was not lit either, even the light from the setting sun could not penetrate its walls. Lu Xiao Feng slowly walked into the room, as if he was somehow scared to enter the room. Could he possibly have been afraid that this ice cold woman would lock him insde of this ice cold room?

    "The devil isn't in the room, what are you scared of?" Jiang Qing Xia coldly said.

    "The devil isn't in the room alright," Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled, "but he is in the mind!"

    "Who's mind?"

    "Yours!"

    "You are the devil yourself!" Jiang Qing Xia bit her lip. Instantly, this ice cold taoist nun had changed, changed almost to an entirely different person. She forcefully pushed Lu Xiao Feng inside, pushed him down onto a chair, placed both her hands on his shoulder to keep him down, and bit his ear.

    "Now that's more like a female tiger," Lu Xiao Feng actually laughed. "Just then, you were acting like...."

    "What was I acting like?" Jiang Qing Xia glared at him.

    "Like a dead tigeress!" Jiang Qing Xia did not even wait until Lu Xiao Feng had finished before giving his ear another bite.

    Lu Xiao Feng almost yelped from the pain.

    "Are you all trained by the same master or something? What's with ear biting?" He managed to force out a smile.

    "'You all'? Who are 'you all'?" Jiang Qing Xia glared at him again. Lu Xiao Feng did not reply, suddenly realizing that he had made a mistake again.

    "Do you often get your ear bitten?" Jiang Qing Xia would not let it go.

    "It's not like I'm surrounded by dogs or anything, why would my ear get bitten?"

    But Jiang Qing Xia's eyes got even bigger as her glare became even angrier.

    "So are you calling me a dog? Is that what you are saying?" Lu Xiao Feng found himself in a corner again and was at a lost as to what to say.

    "Tell me the truth, how many people have bit your ear?" Jiang Qing Xia angrily demanded, still viciously glaring at Lu Xiao Feng.

    "Just... just you.!"

    "Is that the truth?"

    "Who else would have the guts to bite me?"

    "What about Xue Bing? Does she have enough guts?"

    "She's too scared to even touch me, she's lucky I don't bite her!"

    "Sure you talk a good one now, but when you face her in person, I bet you are too scared to say anything!" Jiang Qing Xia pouted.

    "Why would I be scared?" Lu Xiao Feng laughed. "Am I suppose to be scared of her?"

    Jiang Qing Xia suddenly laughed as well, laughing somewhat like how a cunning little fox would.

    "Alright, go ahead! I'm here, let's see what you got!" At this moment, someone outside of the door coldly declared.

    Lu Xiao Feng's heart sank. He did not even need to look to know that it was Xue Bing. Running into one female tiger was already bad enough.

    The only thing worse than running into one female tiger is running into two tigeresses at the same time. Lu Xiao Feng's head suddenly felt three time bigger. Jiang Qing Xia giggled as she lit the lamp. The light shone upon Xue Bing's face. Her face was red again, red as a pepper, but this time it was from anger.

    "Grabbing the initiative." Of course Lu Xiao Feng knew full well why this was important.

    "I just happen to be looking for you! Didn't figure you would actually dare to come looking for me!" He suddenly jumped up and coldly told Xue Bing, all the while giving her the meanest glare he could muster.

    "Why... why wouldn't I come dare come looking for you?" Seeing him so angry, Xue Bing went soft.

    "What are you doing here?"

    "We have always been old friends," Jiang Qing Xia cut in and answered for Xue Bing. "And we are also taught by the same master, specializing in ear biting, why wouldn't she be here?"

    "I'm asking you, what are you doing here?" Lu Xiao Feng held his glare at Xue Bing, completely ignoring Jiang Qing Xia.

    "You know full well that I'm here to deliever something!" Amazingly, she casually admitted to all of this, there was not even the slightest hesitation on her face. "Of course, it was that piece of red satin!"

    "You are not denying it?" It was Lu Xiao Feng's turn to be a little taken aback.

    "It's not like something shameful, why would I deny it?"

    "You helped someone else trick me!" Lu Xiao Feng almost shouted. "Is that suppose to be something to be proud of?"

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin isn't just someone else, he's your friend, you said that yourself!" Even Lu Xiao Feng had to concede that point. Xue Bing let out a little laugh and continued rather smugly. "I helped your friend, you should be grateful!"

    "You helped him sell me out, and yet I should be grateful?" Lu Xiao Feng was taken aback again.

    "That piece of satin was of no use to you anymore but was very useful for him. All I did was help him take it here, how is that selling you out?" She seemed angrier than Lu Xiao Feng and ten times more righteous than Lu Xiao Feng. "Besides, isn't he your friend? Did you not lie to him as well? And afterwards you were all proud and pleased with yourself. So why can't I lie to you?"

    "But you... you... you should be helping me!"

    "Well whose fault is it that you were so full of yourself? As if there was nobody in the world that's better than you. Well I can't stand that attitude of yours!" Xue Bing smirked.

    Lu Xiao Feng had no reply. He suddenly discovered that when a man ran into a woman, it was like a scholar running into a group of soldiers: reasoning is just futile. Inside of a woman's heart seemed completely devoid of the words "right" and "wrong". Everything she does would inevitably be based on her whim and if you ever tried to argue reasons with her, she would always have 10 times as many reasons as you do.

    "I haven't even dealt with you talking about me behind my back and you try to pin this on me?" The smirk disappeared from Xue Bing's face.

    "This is called capturing the initiative, all the men in the world does it!" Jiang Qing Xia snickered.

    "And what do you have to say for yourself now?" Xue Bing teased.

    "I only have one thing to say." Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled.

    "Well? Spit it out!" Xue Bing commanded.

    "Who did you give the red satin to?"

    "Lu Dong Bin!"

    "Who the hell is Lu Dong Bin?" Lu Xiao Feng was taken aback once again.

    "You don't even know who Lu Dong Bin is? How did you ever live to be 30?" Xue Bing wondered out loud.

    "Lu Dong Bin is Lu Chun Yang, the very same Chun Yang Taoist master who sang and flew his way over the Lake Dong Ting. Don't you know?" Jiang Qing Xia explained matter of factly.

    {Note: Lu Dong Bin is one of the most famous legendary Taoists in Chinese folk lore. The tales of his deeds are wide and varied. He is to some Taoists what Buddha is to some Buddhists.}

    "I thought that Lu Dong Bin wanted white peonys, since when did he want black peonys embroidered on red satin?" Lu Xiao Feng smiled weakly.

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin did not tell me to give the satin to any person," Xue Bing finally explained. "He only wanted me to place it in front of Lu Dong Bin's altar."

    "And where is the altar?"

    "In that little temple out back."

    "How long have you been here?"

    "Not too long, but long enough to hear you talking badly about me!" Xue Bing coldly answered.

    ______________________________

    In the bamboo woods behind the convent there was a homely little temple. Inside the temple was lit up by an ever-lit lamp, whose light fell upon Chun Yang Taoist Master's ever smiling face. Even though he might not be able to enjoy the meat and incense offered up in the altar in the front of the convent, but he was still very satisfied. Lu Dong Bin was a smart deity, smart deities are like smart people, they all understand how to be satisfied and happy. Lu Xiao Feng did not wait for Xue Bing to finish before rushing out here to find that there really was a piece of red satin with a black peony sewn on it at the foot of the altar. By the time he picked up the satin, Jiang Qing Xia and Xue Bing had both arrived as well.

    "It's still here!" Lu Xiao Feng mumbled to himself as he flipped the satin over in his hand in deep thought.

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin must not have thought that Xue Bing would tell you the truth so soon and so have not gotten around to picking it up." Jiang Qing Xia proposed.

    "Maybe he wasn't suppose to pick it up!" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly looked up and said, looking straight into her eyes.

    "Well then who was suppose to if not him?" Jiang Qing Xia asked.

    "You!"

    "Are you crazy?" Jiang Qing Xia laughed. "What would I need this God forsaken piece of satin for?"

    "I'm about to ask you that myself!"

    "Do you actually think that I'm the one who told him to steal this from you?" Jiang Qing Xia's expression changed.

    Incredibly, Lu Xiao Feng silently conceded the point.

    "Well if I did ask him to steal it, then why would he lead you here?"

    "Maybe he had to finish the deal in person but could not shake me off of his tail; or maybe he suddenly found his conscious and felt that he had wronged me; or maybe he led me here on purpose so that I would not suspect you!"

    "So what you are telling me is that you think that I am that Embroidery Thief?" Jiang Qing Xia's face was red with rage.

    Lu Xiao Feng did not deny this.

    "Maybe you are not that stupid," Jiang Qing Xia suddenly laughed again. "But you forgot one thing!"

    "Oh?"

    "You forgot that Jiang Chong Wei is my elder brother! Why would I blind my brother?" As soon as she finished, she turned around to leave, as if she was done trying to reason with this kind of an idiot.

    "Wait!" But Lu Xiao Feng blocked her way.

    "What are you going to say now?" Jiang Qing Xia sneered.

    "Only one thing!"

    "Ok, I'll listen to you say one more thing!"

    "Jiang Chong Wei don't have any sisters, and you don't have any brothers. Your surname was not originally Jiang!"

    All of the colors disappeared from Jiang Qing Xia's face as her face turned deathly pale.

    "How... how... how did you know that?"

    "I didn't want to know either." Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "But I can't help it if fate just want me to find out some things that I should not know!"

    "What else do you know?" Jiang Qing Xia viciously stared at him with her piercing eyes.

    "Do you really want me to say it?"

    "Say it!"

    "You are Jiang Chong Wei's unwedded wife, but for some reason you became a nun instead. You pretended not to know me in front of him because you didn't want to disturb him, didn't want him to know...."

    "Shut up!" Jiang Qing Xia suddenly yelled. Her whole body was shaking.

    "I didn't want to say those things either!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    "That's right, Jiang Chong Wei and I were arranged to marry each other when we were little." Jiang Qing Xia's body was still shaking uncontrollably, but she still replied through her tightly clenched teeth. "But when we grew up and met each other, we discovered that there ws no way that we could be together so...."

    "So you became a nun?" Lu Xiao Feng finished for her.

    Jiang Qing Xia nodded.

    "Other than becoming a nun, what else could I do?" Tears fell from her eyes.

    A girl like her, becoming a nun at such an age must have been coupled with a tragic and painful story.

    "You shouldn't have forced her to say those things!" Xue Bing bit her lips and reprimanded Lu Xiao Feng, those eyes that glared at Lu Xiao Feng were filled with tears as well.

    "It's ok, I want to say it!" Jiang Qing Xia suddenly shouted. She gently wiped her tears away with her sleeve and held her head high. "Even though I was a nun, I was still young and can't stand this type of quiet and loneliness. So I wanted to go out and have an adventure or two in the world out there. So I came to know quite a number of men, and came to know you!"

    Lu Xiao Feng quietly sighed -- even when a woman becomes a nun, it does not mean that she is dead, she still had the right to her own life and had the right to live how she sees fit.

    "If you think that I did not want Jiang Chong Wei to know, then you are wrong. And if you think that I blinded him because I did not want to marry him, then you are even more wrong, he...."

    She suddenly stopped as she stared out of the window in shock.

    Jiang Chong Wei had already walked in from the darkness outside, walking in with his hands feeling and leading the way. His face was also deathly pale.

    "It wasn't because she did not want to marry me, it was because I can't take her as my wife!" He quietly revealed.

    "Why?" Xue Bing had to ask.

    "Because I...."

    "You don't have to tell them," Jiang Qing Xia shouted desperately once again. "You don't have to tell anyone!"

    Jiang Chong Wei smiled, it was a sad and lonely smile.

    "It's ok, I want to say it too." His face was covered with pain. "I can't take her as my wife, because I have long ago turned into a disabled person, I can't be someone's husband, and can never be anyone's father!"

    Xue Bing finally understood, but now she regretted asking. Why did she have to know? Aren't other people's suffering painful for oneself as well?

    "All of the things that Qing Xia did, I knew about all of them." Jiang Chong Wei continued. "No matter what she did, I don't blame her one bit. Besides, I know that even though she don't look it on the outside, she's not a loose woman at all!"

    Jiang Qing Xia's head bowed down as tears rolled down her cheeks. For a young and vibrant woman like her, fighting off the feelings and emotions of youths was almost impossible, no matter what she did, it was all forgiveable by anyone's standards. But she could not forgive herself one bit.

    "No matter what you say, I can guarantee that she is absolutely not the person who blinded me!" Jiang Chong Wei concluded.

    "Are you sure? Did you get enough of a good look at the person to know it's not her?" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly asked. His heart was filled with empathy as well, but this matter was just too important, so he had little choice but to swallow his feelings and make sure.

    "Of course I got a good look!" Jiang Chong Wei immediately answered without the slightest hesitation.

    "What did you see that made you so sure it was not her?"

    "I... I just know, don't forget that when we first met, she was still just a kid!"

    "But you two had not seen each other for many years, right?"

    "What are you trying to say?" Jiang Chong Wei's face dropped as he coldly demanded. "Are you insinuating that I'm lying for her?"

    Lu Xiao Feng sighed. He had truly run out of ways to probe further.

    "As long as we have no regrets and no doubts in our hearts, it doesn't matter what he thinks!" Jiang Qing Xia coldly declared.

    Jiang Chong Wei nodded. Jiang Qing Xia had already walked up to his side and put his arm over her shoulers to support him.

    "Let's go!" He said.

    All Lu Xiao Feng could do was bow his head and let them walk by. The light from the lamp was faint, the floor was made from green stone slabs. Jiang Qing Xia was wearing a pear of green colored shoes which did not match with her purple robe at all. She had always been a very picky woman.

    "Wait!" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly said again.

    "Are you not finished yet?" Jiang Qing Xia was intent on ignoring him, but suddenly noticed that he was staring at her feet, so she sneered.

    "I'm only finding it a bit strange!"

    "What's so strange?"

    Lu Xiao Feng's eyes still had not left her feet.

    "Why is there a red edge inside of your green colored shoes?" He slowly asked.

    Jiang Qing Xia's expressioned changed again as she instinctively tried to hide her feet below her robe.

    "Your Taoist robe isn't long enough to hid your feet," Lu Xiao Feng matter of factly told her. "Inside of those green shoes, you shouldn't have worn those red shoes!"

    Red shoes! Jiang Chong Wei's expression seemed to change was well.

    "What eyes you have!" Jiang Qing Xia suddenly coldly laughed. Before the sound of her laughter went away, she had already struck. She actually tried to used two of those beautiful and orchid like fingers of hers to dig out Lu Xiao Feng's eyes! Her moves were quick and accurate!

    "You should only try to bite ears, you should not try to dig my eyes out!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed. As he said those 16 words, Jiang Qing Xia had already attacked 11 times. Such quick moves! Such swift attacks! Jiang Qing Xia was one of the famouse four scariest women in all of the martial world. They were all incredible beauties, but they were all female tigers. Countless men had already been injured under their claws.

    When women attack, most of the time their moves would be faster and more vicious than men's attacks. Because they know that their strength could not match the men's, so they did not want to be boggled down in a prolonged fight with men! So most of the time, their moves were all aimed to take the man's life! But Lu Xiao Feng was not like any other men, incredibly, he was actually even faster than Jiang Qing Xia. He easily dodged Jiang Qing Xia's 11 strikes without even fighting back. It looked as if he did not want to fight back, but if he had fought back, Jiang Qing Xia probably would not have been able to get out of the way.

    "Projectiles!" Jiang Qing Xia clenched her teeth and yelled. Lu Xiao Feng immediately backed up two meters or so, but Jiang Qing Xia did not let loose any projectiles. Instead her body flipped in midair and shot toward the outside. At this moment, Lu Xiao Feng suddenly reached out and, with lightning like quickness, grabbed her shoes. And only grabbed her shoes, not her. Inside those plain green colored cloth shoes, there was really a pair of red shoes - embroidered red satin shoes. But she was already enveloped by the darkness and disappeared instantly.

    Lu Xiao Feng did not chase after her. Xue Bing, of course, did not either, she was still shocked.

    Jiang Chong Wei stood there motionlessly, his complexion a deathly gray.

    "Is she gone?" He suddenly asked.

    "She's gone!" Lu Xiao Feng answered.

    Jiang Chong Wei's fists were clench tightly and the corner of his eyes twitched uncontrollably, making those dark and cave like eyes of his look even more indescribably terrifying.

    "Did that Embroidery Thief wore red shoes too?" Lu Xiao Feng asked.

    Jiang Chong Wei's expression became even more tortured. Finally, slowly, he nodded.

    "Why didn't you say something earlier?"

    "I didn't really remember either, only when you just said something did I recall it!" Only at that instant when the flash of the needle point arrived in front of his eyes did he see that pair of red shoes. Red like blood.

    "What kind of eyes do you have?" Xue Bing finally let out a sigh. "I couldn't spot the red lining around her shoes at all."

    "Neither could I!"

    Xue Bing was startled.

    "I only thought that the color of her shoes did not match her clothing at all, and it seemed a little too big too, as if it was something that was temporarily and hastily put on!"

    "So you tested her?"

    Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

    "To be around a person like you is truly quite dangerous!" Xue Bing sighed again, despite of herself.

    "Sun Zhong would probably disagree adamantly," Lu Xiao Feng smiled. "He's probably certain that you are more dangerous than me!"

    "I should have chopped his two legs off too!" Xue Bing joked.

    "Did he come and trouble you again?" Lu Xiao Feng wondered.

    "He wouldn't dare!"

    "But then how did his severed hand end up on that plate on your table?"

    "What hand?" Xue Bing was startled at that question as well.

    "You didn't see that hand?"

    "No!"

    "No way that hand crawled onto the plate by itself could it?" Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled. He could not figure that out for the life of him!

    "There's another thing that I can't figure out," said Xue Bing. "Si Kong Zhai Xin wanted me to take this here, then why did he bring you here as well?"

    "Nobody can figure out why a person like him do what he does," sighed Lu Xiao Feng. "So it's best to not even think about it."

    "I can't understand something either, why would Qing Xia do something like this?" Jiang Chong Wei gloomily asked.

    "You can stop thinking about it too!" Lu Xiao Feng answered.

    "Why?"

    "Because she didn't do it." Lu Xiao Feng smiled again.

    "She didn't?" Jiang Chong Wei was surprised at the revelation. "She's not the Embroidery Thief?"

    "No way. Her kungfu is not bad, but is still quite a long way before she could even hope to blind masters like Chang Man Tian and Hua Yi Fan in one move!"

    "You can tell that she wasn't purposefully holding back?"

    "I can!"

    "And that's why you let her go!" Jiang Chong Wei sighed deeply.

    Lu Xiao Feng did not deny this. If he could grab a person's shoes, then he could grab that person's feet. Once a person's feet have been captured, then there was no way that person could go anywhere.

    "If she had nothing to do with this, then why did she run" Jiang Chong Wei frowned after some deep thought.

    "Because she has another secret that she does not want others to know about!" Lu Xiao Feng concluded.

    "What secret?"

    "The secret of the red shoes!"

    "The Embroidery Thief was wearing red shoes too," Jiang Chong Wei nodded. "Could they be in the same organization?"

    "Maybe, maybe not." Lu Xiao Feng replied, knowing full well that what he just said was completely useless, but he still had to say it. "That Embroidery Thief is an incredibly skilled and powerful, beard wearing, but red shoes wearing woman."

    That was the only thing they know, but they could not be sure of this, and was even further from proving it.

    "She was such a simple, innocent, and kind girl," Jiang Chong Wei's expression became even more melancholy. "She could have been a perfect spouse for a man, could she have really changed?"

    "How long has it been since you seen her?" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly asked.

    "Not long, she would come to see me my birthday every year!"

    "When is your birthday?"

    "The 14th of May!"

    "On what day did the heist take place?"

    "The 11th of June."

    Lu Xiao Feng did not say another word. Jiang Chong Wei seemed to want to say something, but for some reason he held it back and instead just let out a long and exhausted sigh. Head bowed, he turned and felt his way out.

    Watching his lonesome shadow disappear in the darkness, Xue Bing could not help herself and sighed as well.

    "He must feel terrible inside right now!"

    Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

    "Jiang Qing Xia visited him on May 14th, and not even a month later, the heist took place!"

    "It could just be nothing more than a coincidence!"

    "But the security of the Royal Treasury Vault is so tight that even a fly couldn't get in, how could the Embroidery Thief have gotten in?"

    "Any ideas?"

    "I think, maybe somebody had already went into the Royal Palace and check out the lay out of the place for her as well as made an imprint of the key to the Vault with wax." Xue Bing's eyes lit up as she explained her hypothesis.

    "And you are saying that person is none other than Jiang Qing Xia!"

    Xue Bing did not deny this claim and sighed. "Only she could get close to Jiang Chong Wei, and only Jiang Chong Wei had the key to that Vault!"

    "You are saying that she secretly made a imprint of the key, made a copy from the imprint and gave it to that Embroidery Thief?"

    "Correct!"

    "And that the Embroidery Thief got in the Vault by using that key to open the Vault doors."

    "I think that has to be what happened!"

    "Your scenario isn't too far fetched, but you forgot two things!"

    "What?"

    "The Vault doors are guarded all day and night by guards, how could someone with a huge beard just open the Vault doors and walk in without the guard noticing? He had to have been invisible." Xue Bing had no explanation for this.

    "Not only that, when Jiang Chong Wei went into the Vault that day, he door was still locked from the outside. How could the Embroidery Thief lock the door from the outside after he had entered the Vault?"

    "Well, if my idea is so wrong, then how do you think she did it?" Xue Bing was blushing again.

    "She must have used a very unique method, it might not even have anything to do with Jiang Qing Xia!"

    "Pity even you can't figure exactly what is that very unique method of hers." Xue Bing coldly replied.

    "That's why I have to give it a try!"

    "Give what a try?"

    "Try to see if I can find a way to get in!"

    Xue Bing's eyes were wide in amazement as she looked at him in shock.

    "Are you drunk again?"

    "I haven't drank one drop of wine today!"

    "Well if you are not drunk, then you must be insane! A normal and sober person would never even think of doing such a thing!"

    "Oh?"

    "Do you know how many guards there are inside the Royal Palace?"

    "Over 800!"

    "And you know that every guard carries with him a very powerful Zhu Ge Bow? That as soon as anyone has been caught, they would instantly be turned into a hedgehog?"

    "I know!"

    "And you know how many other kungfu masters are in the Royal Palace besides those guards?"

    "Like the number of stars in the sky!"

    "And you know that the Young Prince's personal sword skills were taught to him by none other than the Master of White Cloud Castle?"

    "Rumors say that he's actually the best fighter in the Royal Palace!"

    "And you know that the restricted areas of the Royal Palace all carry with them a certain death for anybody caught within them, no questions asked?"

    "I know!"

    "But you are still going to try to break in?"

    "Yes!"

    "Do you want to die?"

    "No!"

    "What makes you think that you could try to break in and make it out alive?"

    "Nothing!"

    "Then why are you willing to take this risk?" Xue Bing bit her lip. "Just to prove Jiang Qing Xia's innocence?"

    "I only want to find out whether or not she really had anything to do with this whole thing."

    "Do you really care that much about her?"

    "Because I like her!"

    Xue Bing suddenly jumped up and viciously glared at him.

    "Alright, go ahead and die!" She loudly declared.

    The wind was gentler, the lonely yard was even more lonesome. Lu Xiao Feng came walking out, and Xue Bing followed him.

    "Are we heading to the Southeast now?"

    "We? Again?" Lu Xiao Feng looked like someone had just stuffed his mouth full of sour tangerines.

    "Of course us!" said Xue Bing with a straight face. "Did you think you could just leave me here by myself?"

    Lu Xiao Feng really did, but even he knew that once this kind of women made up her mind to follow you, you cannot get rid of her no matter what you tried.

    "What are you going with me for? Planning to keep me company when I die?"

    "No!" Xue Bing was biting her lip again. "I just want to see what you look like after you died!"

    ______________________________

    The streets were mostly paved with green stone slabs, red cotton trees that were redder than maple leaves lined the streets, the colors were bright and splendid like the dusk.

    "This is Wang Ping City?"

    "Mmhmm!"

    "I heard that the food here is the best!"

    "Have you had some?"

    "No, but I have heard a couple of things that are the best!"

    "Well tell me."

    "Big Wings of Three Big Rings, Wen Yuan's Hundred Colored Chicken, Xi Yuan's Lake Vegetables, Nan Yuan's Scorched Snail Shells...."

    Xue Bing only listed these things before she had to stop, because she discovered that she was almost drooling.

    "They are not that big of a deal, the best eats here you probably have never even heard of before!" Lu Xiao Feng nonchalantly told her.

    "Are you going to take me to eat it now?" Xue Bing's eyes lit up.

    "As long as you behave like a good girl, I guarantee that you'll have something good to eat!"

    He had obviously been here before as he put on the look of an old horse that knew his way around. With Xue Bing following behind him, he twisted and turned through the street and made his way into a very narrow alley. The alley was very poorly lit, and its ground still had spots of mud from the rain a couple of days ago. There were all types of little vendors on both sides, but all of their doors were very narrow as well. The people making their way in and out of the doors all looked like the seedy types.

    "There are good eats at a place like this?" Xue Bing was mumbling to herself under her breath. But she did not dare to ask out loud. This place was like a foreign country to her, she did not understand a single word that the locals were saying. She was really a little afraid that Lu Xiao Feng might just leave her here all by herself.

    It was at this moment that she realized that there was an indescribably delicious smell that had floated over with the breeze. She had never smelled anything so sweet. Looks like Lu Xiao Feng did not lie to her at all, there really was something good to eat here.

    "What is this smell?" She had to ask.

    "The smell of the most delicious thing in the world, you'll agree after you had some too!" Lu Xiao Feng matter of factly told her.

    At the very back of the alley was a very small little shop, by its front door was a huge stove. On the stove there stewed a huge pot of food, the smell had originated from this stove. But the inside of the shop was very dirty. The walls, chairs, tables, were all an oily blacked from the fumes, even the sign above the door was darkened so much that it was impossible to make out any words. But this smell was truly too alluring. They had just sat down when a waiter scouped up two big bowls of some kind of grinded meat for them.

    It seemed like this place served nothing else. The meat was still steaming, not only did it smell delicious, it looked good too.

    Lu Xiao Feng immediately picked up a spoon and handed it to Xue Bing.

    "Eat it while it's hot, it's not nearly as good if it gets cold!"

    Xue Bing tried a scoup, then helped herself to another. It tasted amazing.

    "What's in here anyways?" She had to ask. "Other than meat, there seemed to be alot of other stuff!"

    "Do you like it?"

    "It's delicious!"

    "If it's delicious, then eat more and talk less!"

    Lu Xiao Feng finished one bowl and added another. Suddenly, he made a strange gesture toward that waiter. That waiter had carried himself as if he could not careless about this type of out of towners.

    But as soon as he saw Lu Xiao Feng's gesture, his entire demeanor immediately changed.

    "Wha'cha wang?" He came running over with a wide smile.

    "Ima 'ere 'oo'in fo some'un!" Lu Xiao Feng replied.

    "Who aria 'oo'in fo?"

    "The Snake King."

    The waiter's expression changed a little.

    "Wha'cha wang 'im fo?"

    "Ma surname's Lu, ja tell 'im dat, 'e'll know!"

    The waiter hesitated a little before finally nodding a bit.

    "'ait 'ere!"

    Xue Bing was in shock this entire time. Finally, after the waiter had exited through another narrow door in the back did she could not restrain herself anymore and asked.

    "What were you two talking about just then?"

    "I asked him to help me find someone!"

    "Someone in this kind place? Who?"

    "The Snake King!"

    "The Snake King? And who might the Snake King be?"

    "On the street leading to here, what did you see?" Lu Xiao Feng did not answer but asked her a question instead.

    "It's not a street, it's just a small and dirty alleyway."

    "This is a street, and it could very well be the most famous street in this city!"

    "Oh?"

    "Do you know what this street has?"

    "Some terribly unkempted and downtrodden vendors, and a host of terribly seedy individuals!"

    "Can't you tell what those individuals do?"

    "I don't even want to look at them, much less think about them!"

    "Well you should!"

    "Why?"

    "Because within them, there's at least 10 fugitives with prices on their heads, at least 20 of the quickest thieves, at least 30 or so fighters for highers. If you get on their bad side, it's almost impossible to accomplish anything in this city!"

    "I get it now, this is a gang street!"

    "The Snake King is the king of this street, he's also the leader of all of them. Just one word from him and all of them would be perfectly willing to do anything you ask of them!"

    "You are not planning on asking these people to fight for you are you?"

    "If I need help for a fight, I already have as an excellent helper as you, why would I need anyone else?" Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

    "Then what are you asking the Snake King for?"

    "I want to ask him to help me...."

    He had not finished when the waiter hurried came running back in. His demeanor towards Lu Xiao Feng changed once again, to something warmer and more respectful.

    "Sa ya ar'a 'ld fri'nds, Sa ya shalda'old ma'rlia!"

    "'e 'till remamba ma?" Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

    "'orsa 'e does! Boss sa' yar ha'da bes'goongfu'n da wirl, and'a grit frind. 'e tol'ma ta br'n ya quigly!"

    Behind that narrow door in the back was yet another, even smaller, alley. From the dark ditches there enmanated a terrible stench, flies were buzzing all around. At the end of the alley, there was another small door.

    Pushing open that door, they came upon a very large yard. About ten or so strong shirtless men were busy playing dice in the yard, so involved were they that they were all covered in sweat. At the corner was several scores of cages, some of the cages had poisonous snakes in them, others had in them wild cats and wild dogs. A person was just in the middle of grabbing a yellow dog out from a cage and, in one swift motion, pushed it down into a huge bath tub so that it was entirely submerged in the water and drowned the dog right then and there. Xue Bing almost puked when she saw that.

    But Lu Xiao Feng seemed unwavered.

    "Now that's a real expert at killing dogs," He casually observed. "That way not a single blood is lost. That kind of dog meat really taste good!"

    Xue Bing did not reply, she was afraid that if she did then all that meat that she had just ate would be coming back up.

    Two big men who were occupied with watching others playing dice suddenly came walking up.

    "Yar 'ere fo Snake King?" They glared at Lu Xiao Feng.

    Lu Xiao Feng nodded. The two men shot each other a look before suddenly attacking, trying to grab ahold of Lu Xiao Feng.

    Lu Xiao Feng did not move, the two men had just touched him when they themselves was sent flying off.

    The waiter cheered in joy.

    "I sad 'at yar goongfu's grit, dem di'nt beliva ma an' lesee 'f 'newon els wan'a tra?"

    All of the men in the yard had turned and looked at Lu Xiao Feng in awe as they slowly backed up to make a path of him.

    The waiter led him into another little vendor place and up a very narrow staircase to a very narrow door. On the door hung a curtain made of black and prayer beads.

    "Snake King's 'nsi' ples!"

    How could the leader capable of controlling all of those city low lives live in such a downtrodden place? Xue Bing thought it was all very strange, until she walked through the door. Inside the door was like an entirely different world from the one outside. Even a spoilt girl like Xue Bing who had been brought up in the richest of rich families had never seen any room that was so immaculately and expensively decorated. Everything, every object in the room was a priceless masterpiece, from the tea cups made from the whole pieces of white jade to the fruit bowl made from crystals from Persia to even the paintings on the wall. Two of them she recognized were Wu Dao Zi's portraits, another was a horse drawn by Han Gan, and another was incredibly the work of the Emperor himself.

    A person was leaning back onto a padded rocking chair. Smiling, he extended his hands towards Lu Xiao Feng. There was hardly any meat on those hands at all. Xue Bing had never seen anybody so thin in her entire life. Not only was there no meat on his hand, his pale face seemed nothing more than a piece of skin hanging off of bare bones.

    Despite it being a scorching day outside, the chair had on it a layer of tiger fur, and on top of that, he was wearing a huge coat. Xue Bing could not have dreamed that the leader of all those city dwellers would be like this. Lu Xiao Feng had already walked over and tightly took his hand into his own.

    "I didn't think that you would actually remember a disabled person like me and would actually come to visit me!" The Snake King smiled.

    Xue Bing sighed in relief, finally someone speaking words that she could actually understand.

    "I had wanted to visit you for a long time, but this... this time I'm not here just to see you!" Lu Xiao Feng replied.

    "It doesn't matter, what matters is that you are here, and I'm already overjoyed about that!"

    "I have something to ask of you!"

    "You came here, of course it's to ask me for something, the fact that you can think of coming to me is proof to me that you still think of me as a friend, that's more than enough!" He laughed heartily and turned toward Xue Bing. "Besides, you brought such a beautiful lady with you, it's been forever since I have seen anything nearly as beautiful!"

    Xue Bing blushed.

    "My surname is Xue, full name Xue Bing!" She shyly replied. She suddenly discovered that even though the Snake King was physically weak, he was still a very bold and straightforward person, and a great loyal friend as well. He suddenly discovered that her impression of him was a very good one.

    "Xue Bing? Are you the Xue Bing from Divine Needle Xue's family?"

    Xue Bing blushingly nodded.

    "Who knew that I would get to see the most famous beauty in all of the martial world?" The Snake King laughed and declared loudly. Holding tightly onto Lu Xiao Feng's hands he said. "Looks like not only are your taste top notch, your luck is pretty good too. If I were you, I would buy myself a huge drink right about now."

    This time Lu Xiao Feng seemed very obedient as he immediately poured himself a drink and rank it. There was a horn shaped golden cup on the table, and the wine was amber colored.

    The wine was about gone when the Snake King finally spoke up again.

    "What do you want? If I have it, you can take it. If I don't have it, I'll find it for you!"

    "I want a map!"

    "What map?"

    "A map of the lay out of the Royal Palace, with where the guards and the traps are located on them as well as their shift times!"

    This was, of course, not an easy thing to accomplish. But the Snake King did not look troubled, nor did he bother to ask what a map like this was used for.

    His answer was very simple.

    "Ok!"

    Lu Xiao Feng did not thank him, their friendship was beyond that word.

    The Snake King looked into his eyes with satisfaction in his own eyes. He understood how Lu Xiao Feng felt. He only asked one question.

    "Where are you planning to stay tonight?"

    "As You Wish Inn!"

    "Before sunset tomorrow, I'll send someone with the map to you."

    ______________________________

    The breeze on the river shore is forever cool and refreshing. The night was cool like the water. There was the moon, there were the stars, and there were hundreds of star like fires on the fish boats. With joy in their hearts, they slowly strode on the shore of the rive. This was truly a beautiful city, they liked this city, and also liked the people of this city.

    "I finally understood something!" Xue Bing suddenly gently sighed.

    "What's that?" Lu Xiao Feng inquired.

    "You really do have alot of great friends!"

    "Especially a friend like the Snake King," Lu Xiao Feng concurred. "Anybody who could have a friend like him is lucky!"

    Xue Bing stopped and watched the light on the fishing bloats flicker on the river and the moonlit waves. Her heart was filled with joy and happiness.

    Sorry for the interruption, but I am totally spellbound by this city

    "I like this place, in the future I might settle down here!"

    "Not only are the people here great, the weather is great, and there's alot of good stuff to eat here!"

    "Especially that grinded meat that you took me to eat," Xue Bing shyly declared. "I'll never forget it!"

    "If you knew what it was made of, then you would really never forget it!" Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

    "What was it made of?"

    "Snake and cat meat."

    ______________________________

    Xue Bing was still puking. She had already puked 5 times, when she made it back to the inn, she found a washing bowl and hid over in the corner of the room, puking. She was puking out the excess water in her stomach by this point. Lu Xiao Feng just smiled as he stood watching on the side.

    Finally, Xue Bing finished puking and turned around. She gave him the meanest glare.

    "There must be something wrong with you, you like seeing others suffer." She bitterly whined through her clenched teeth.

    "I don't like seeing others suffer," Lu Xiao Feng was still smiling. "I just like seeing you suffer a little!"

    "What did I ever do to you?" Xue Bing jumped up. "Why are you torturing me like this?"

    "Don't this type of person have a heart?" Lu Xiao Feng shook his head and sighed. "I took her to eat such delicious food, and yet she's accusing me of torturing her!"

    "So you are saying that I should be grateful to you?"

    "Exactly!"

    "I'm very grateful, so grateful in fact that I want to bite you to death!"

    She suddenly reached over and grabbed him. She bit his ear. It was not a hard bite....

    ______________________________

    The breeze was so gentle, the night was so quiet. Two young and passionate people in a strange but beautiful city - if you are man, don't you wish you are Lu Xiao Feng? If you are a woman, don't you wish you are Xue Bing?

    ______________________________

    Dusk, dusk again. Hand in hand, they returned from the city. There was a huge envelope resting on the table.

    There was only 4 words on the envelope.

    "Fortunate to Not Disappoint!"

    Underneath the star light, the street made of green stone slabs was glowing like a mirror.

    "Must you go?" Xue Bing held onto Lu Xiao Feng's hand as tightly as possible. Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

    "And you won't allow me to go with you?" Lu Xiao Feng nodded again.

    She turned away, because there were tear in her eyes, tears that she did not want him to see.

    "If the two of us go, then the chances of us surviving is cut in half!" He explained.

    "But... how do you expect to live waiting for you outside all by myself?"

    "You could always go find someone to chat or drink!"

    "Who do you expect me to go find?"

    "Whoever, as long as they have tongues that talk and mouths that drink!" Lu Xiao Feng joked.

    Xue Bing snapped her head back around and glared at him. She gave him a rather hard kick in the shin.

    "Ok fine! I'll go and find some other man, you just go ahead and die!" She loudly proclaimed.

    春花秋月几时了,
    往事知多少?
    小楼昨夜又东风,
    故国不堪回首明月中.
    雕栏玉砌应犹在,
    只是朱颜改.
    问君能有几多愁,
    恰似一江春水向东流.
    --南唐后主,李煜.

  18. #38
    Senior Member Yang Guo's Avatar
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    Default

    wooo long translation
    nice dialect

  19. #39
    Member Acidbeastonfire's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
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    wow....this is a bumper issue!
    thanks moin.
    "Man is his own star; and the soul that can
    Render an honest and a perfect man,
    Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
    Nothing to him falls early or too late.
    Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."

  20. #40
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    I suspect Xue Bing.
    but hopefully, she was the innocent one.

    The LXF, CLH chronicles reminded me of those classic detective stories where criminals were usually in the same circle and least expected.

    Moin, do you think that Lu really liked Xue Bing? He seemed so, didn't he?
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

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