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

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    Default Adventures of Lu Xiao Feng, Book 2, Embroidery Thief

    {Yay for actual detective story! Unlike the first book, this book actually is much more of a whodunit than the first one, which kinda served as an expository for the characters instead being an all out detective story.}

    Chapter 1
    Scores of Heists

    Scolding heat. The sun rays was like heat carrying knives, beating down relentlessly upon the yellow dirt road. Even the knife scar on Chang Man Tian's face was roasted to a shade of red.

    To be precise, it was three scars, that and about 7 or 8 internal injuries had earned him his fame and position that he enjoyed on this day. Whenever the weather turns moist or rainy, his internal wounds would starts throbbing again, causing his joints ache, he would be reminded of the hard fought battles of his youth and feel an incredible amount of graditude!

    To have survived this long was not easy, to be able to be the Vice Master Escort earning 500 taels of silver every month was even harder, for that was truly earned with blood and sweat. Lately, he rarely ever escort any job himself. The Head Escort of "Enforcing Peace Escort Service" was a disciple of the same master as he. Between the two of them, the old men spent the last several years enjoying the tranquil and peaceful life, practicing a little martial arts in the morning, drinking some wine in the evening. Just merely the sight of their "Golden Spear Iron Sword Flag" was enough to keep most of the people in the Southeast away from the packages that "Enforcing Peace" had been entrusted with.

    But this particular package was just too important, the trustee insisted that the two martial brothers escort the entire delievery process. But since the Head Master was under the weather yet again, Chang Man Tian had little choice but to pick up that pair of huge iron sword of his that weighed more than 13 kilograms each and personally ride out once again.

    "Make way... Enforcing Peace... Keep clear...." The Henchman Old Man Zhao was out in front shouting the passage of the escort. He had been at this for 20 years now, even though he was no longer a young lad, he still had a booming voice, especially since he had just drank several jugs worth of Fire Sabres during lunch break that perked him up even more than usual.

    Chang Man Tian fished out a green piece of handkerchief and wiped the sweat off of his forehead. Time has no mercy, he suddenly realized that he is really getting old, after this escort mission, it is probably time to hang up the swords and go into retirement. The sun is really scorching down at the moment, if there is a place to catch a shade ahead, then it probably would not hurt to rest a bit before continuing farther.

    Chang Man Tian gave the reins a tug and gallopped to the front. He was just about to give the instructions to Old Man Zhao when he suddenly noticed that there was a person, busy sewing, sitting smack in the middle of the road. A huge, bearded man.

    Having made his way through the pugilistic world for some 30 years now, Chang Man Tian had yet see a man embroidering, much less someone doing so under such a scorching sun while sitting in the middle of the road.

    "Could he be insane?" For he really did look like a lunatic, the surface of the road was hot enough to fry an egg on, and yet he was wearing a reddish purple cotton overcoat.

    The strange thing was that, while all these men who were wearing a single layer of shirt was covered in sweat, there was nary a single bead of sweat to be seen on this man's face.

    Chang Man Tian frowned, brought his hand up to signal to the rest of the group to stop, and shot a look in Old Man Zhao's direction.

    Old Man Zhao had been a veteran of the martial world as well, he had been Chang Man Tian's henchman ever since Chang Man Tian's first escort job.

    Naturally, he understood exactly what his long time master wanted. So he lightly coughed a bit to clear his throat and walked up to the man.

    That bearded man was concentrating on sewing his flower, just like a newly in love girl sitting in her bedroom sewing up her own wedding dress, totally oblivious to the fact that a dozen or so carriages had been stopped because of him.

    The flower he was embroidering on the cloth was peony, a black peony, his embroidery was incredibly more delicate than anything that a girl would make.

    "My friend, your embroidery skill are quite remarkable, but pity this isn't a place for sewing." Old Man Zhao suddenly said loudly. His voice was booming to begin with, and now he was purposefully trying to give this man a scare. But unexpectedly not only did this man not look up, he did not even blink one bit.

    "Is he not only insane but deaf as well?" Old Man Zhao walked up even more and patted him on the shoulder.

    "Friend, could you let us go by? You see...." He suddenly stopped and his expression suddenly changed. When he had reached over to pat the man on his shoulders, the needle in the bearded man's hand just happened to lift up a bit and pricked him lightly on the back of his hand. What's a little needle prick to a man who barely flinches when slashed by a sabre?

    Old Man Zhao did not mind at first, but when he wanted to bring his arm back to his side, he discovered that he could not! That half of his body seemed to have went numb! What kind of evilness was on the tip of that needle?

    Old Man Zhao took three steps back and carefully inspected his hand. There was no swelling of any kind, but it just did not respond to his commands anymore. He was surprised and furious at the same time.

    Gracefully, Chang Man Tian floated down off his horse and quickly made his way to the bearded man.

    "Quite a beautiful peony that you has sewn there my friend." He said, cupping his fist together. The bearded man still did not look up, but suddenly laughed.

    "I can sew other things as well."

    "Really? What?"

    "Blind men."

    "Blind men aren't easy to sew." Chang Man Tian snickered.

    "On the contrary, blind men are the easiest, two pricks and you get one."

    "Oh really? How so?"

    "Like this." He suddenly reached out and pricked Old Man Zhao's face twice.

    Old Man Zhao let out a blood curdling scream and fell to the ground. Covering his face with his eyes, he was writhing on the ground in pain as blood squirted out from in between his fingers, blood from his eyes! Chang Man Tian's face dropped as he immediately grabbed his sword.

    But the big beard was still casually sitting there, seemingly minding his own business.

    "See? Two pricks, one blind man."

    "That some fast moves my friend." Chang Man Tian let out a little laugh and coldly observed.

    "Sewing blind men is what I'm best at, 72 pricks and I can give you 36 blind men." The big beard matter of factly answered.

    For this job, Chang Man Tian had taken with him, including himself, exactly 36 men. Those who were with him were all first rate masters themselves and have all rode forth and joined alongside him.

    "What are you doing here? Seeking revenge or robbing the package?" Even though he was shocked, Chang Man Tian was still managed to stay calm.

    "I'm here to sew."

    "What exactly are you planning to sew?"

    "First I'm going to sew myself 36 blind men, then I'm going to sew eight hundred thousand taels worth of caravans to go home with me."

    Chang Man Tian let out a long and drawn out laugh.

    "Funny, this sword of mine can sew something as well."

    "What?"

    "Dead men!" His laughter stopped, his sword was unsheathed.

    This huge iron sword might not be some incredibly heavy weapon, but it was still the very sword that the legendary "Mister Iron Sword" had used in times past.

    On this sword, Chang Man Tian had put in at least fourty years of hard work, how else could he have lived until now?

    The accompanying men all that revealed their weapons as well, an Eagle Wing Sabre, a Wise Son Lance, and a Gate of Hell Sword.

    When fighting bandits, these men in the escort business did not conform to any pugilistic world rules, and did not worry about fighting one on one.

    "Liang Qing Zi, let's go! Go for his eyes!" Chang Man Tian let out a shout.

    If you want to turn others into blind men, then others will obviously want to turn you into one as well! This is the law of their world. "A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye!" But the big beard was still embroidering as a sword of more than 13 kilograms howled towards him.

    The Wise Son Lance pulled a "Poisonous Dragon Drinking" and attacked the man's waist. Enforcing Peace's escort runners had all been trained by the master brothers in one shape or another. Therefore, when they fight, they always complement each other perfectly.

    "Finished!" The big beard suddenly laughed.

    He had finished his peony and the needle came flicking up sideways. In the sudden cold flash that surrounded him, Chang Man Tian suddenly realized that the flash was in front of his eyes.

    Nobody can describe this kind of speed, and almost nobody could dodge it. Chang Man Tian howled, the sword suddenly flew off of his hand, but his body had collapsed onto the ground.

    "Dong!" The iron sword was nailed almost half a meter into the trunk of a huge tree on the side of the road. By now the big beard had just finished sewing his fourth blind man.

    Seventy two pricks, thirty six blind men. Such speed, such savageness! A sheet of cloth fell onto Chang Man Tian's face. On it was embroidered a big red peony.

    ______________________________

    When Jiang Zhong Wei walked, it always jingled, as if he was a bell himself. Of course, he was not a bell. Jiang Zhong Wei was the Head Warden of the Southern Peace Royal Palace, a very dignified, and very powerful person.

    {Note: Historically, the Southern Peace Royal Palace (Ping Nan Wang Fu) is located in Nanjing. After the First Emperor of the Ming Dynasty died, he was succeeded by his grandson. However, his fourth son did not take kindly to this and conducted a successful coup, eventually ousting the young Emperor and becoming the Third Emperor himself while moving the capital up to Beijing, where his power base lied. But the Royal Palace in Nanjing was still an important place, second only to the Forbidden City in all of China.}

    Inside the Royal Palace there was, naturally, a great number of top secret places. And on the door leading to these places, there were, naturally, locks. And they were all under his supervision. Anybody with 30 or so chains of keys on him would jingle when they walk.

    He was truly a trustworthy man, not only was he calm and collected, and loyal to the bone, he also trained his body in the "Thirteen Guardians Brute Training", so even though he was not quite to the point where he was impenetrable to sabres and spears, it was nevertheless very difficult to hurt him. However, it was not difficult for him to hurt others.

    His Iron Sand Palm had reached about 90% of its highest level and could readily split boulders or turn smaller rocks into sand. Whenever the Prince entrusted him with another key, there was a sense of relief about him, knowing that the key was safe. At this moment he was just on his way to retrieve a stud of diamonds and a pair of flat jade with a hole in the center, which are traditionally used for ceremonial purposes in China, from the Royal Treasury Vault.

    Today was the birthday of the Prince's favorite concubine and the Prince had already promised her those things as birthday gifts.

    Like most men in the world, the Prince was always very generous towards the women he loves.

    The long hall way had a supressed peace about it, because this was so close to the Royal Treasury Vault, trespassing, by anyone, for any reason, will result in immediate death!

    After entering the restrict area, every 7 or 8 steps or so was a man who Jiang Zhong Wei had hand picked himself, standing guard like stones statues.

    These men had all been passed a harsh and rigid training procedure, not a fly landing on their face or a person stumping on their foot would make them move one bit. Not only was Jiang Zhong Wei hold enormous and popular influence over them, his orders were also clear and absolute. If anybody slacked off in his duty and let so much as a dog into the restricted area, what awaits them was also death! Even he has to say the password of the day before entering the area.

    Today's password was: "Sun and Moon both shine brightly." Because today was a very good day according to the almanacs.

    Even on that stern and serious face of Jiang Zhong Wei, a hint of happiness could be discerned. For he was an invited guest at the Prince's consort's birthday bash as well. After finishing this task, he would immediately change outfits and join the celebration. Therefore his steps were a little faster than normal as well.

    Eight personal guards dressed in silk and armed with a sabre at their side followed him. Silk robed guards were the best among the guards within the guard units, and on top of that, these eight men were hand picked from among over 100 of the silk robed guards. Jiang Zhong Wei had always been a prudent man.

    The heavy doors leading to the Royal Treasury Vault were heavily locked, there were 3 separate layers of doors, each more than half a meter thick, and the locks on them were all custom made by the best locksmiths.

    Jiang Zhong Wei finally opened the last door as a gust of cold and moist air hit him in the face.

    This place was just most treasure vaults in this world, cold, moist, dark, and sinister. Just like a tomb.

    The only difference was that tombs had at least dead people in them, this place did not even have a dead ant in it.

    Everytime Jiang Zhong Wei entered here, he was always struck with a strange thought: if a man could have all of the treasures inside of this vault, but only under the condition that he lived in here, what good would it be? Even if you give him all of the riches in the world, he would not want to stay in this place for just one day.

    This thought struck him again this time as well, when he pushed the door open and walked in, his only wish was to walk out as soon as possible. He could never have imagined that once he entered this time, he would never come out again!

    Unbelievably, inside of this cold, moist, dark, and sinister vault, there was a person. A live person.

    This person's face was covered with his beard, wore a reddish purple cotton overcoat, and was, amazingly, sitting on one of the treasure chests sewing.

    Jiang Zhong Wei could not even have imagined something like this in his dreams, he could barely believe his very own eyes.

    But in front of him was really a person, sitting there sewing, a real, live, man.

    "Could he be a ghost?" Other than ghosts, what else could get in here?

    Jiang Zhong Wei suddenly felt his spine shiver and shuddered despite of himself. The bearded man was concentrating on embroidering, just like girls do as they sit in their bedrooms thinking about their crush. He was sewing peony, black peony on a red piece of satin.

    "How did you get in here?" Jiang Zhong Wei collected himself and demanded.

    "I walked in here." The big beard did not even look up as he answered matter of factly.

    "Do you know what kind of place this is?"

    "It's a place for sewing!"

    "So you came here just to embroider?" Jiang Zhong Wei let out a cold laugh.

    "Because I can only sew what I want to sew here!" The big beard nodded.

    "And what's that?"

    "A blinded Jiang Zhong Wei!"

    Jiang Zhong Wei reared back and let out a maddening laugh. Only when he is furious and ready to kill does he laugh madly like this. With the laughter still echoing, his body lunged forward. His palms whistled through the air like tigers as he pulled out his boulder-smashing Iron Sand Palm. He suddenly felt the center of his palm temporarily go numb, as if he had just been stunned by a bee, but all the power behind his palm had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. At this moment, a flash of cold light arrived in front of his eyes.

    "Thirteen Guardians Brute Training" might be the most powerful skill in the world in hardening one's body, but it does not cover one's eyes.

    The guards outside suddenly heard a blood curdling yell and tried to scramble in, but the iron door had already been closed from the inside. By the time they pried open the door, an unconconscious Jiang Zhong Wei laid on the ground, a blood red piece of satin covered his face. On the satin was embroidered a black peony!

    ______________________________

    The incense had already been lit in meditation room. Hua Man Lou had already finished bathing and was quietly sitting there, waiting.

    If you want to get a taste of some of Father Bitter Gourd's cooking, not only do you have to wash yourself, but you have to be patient. Father Bitter Gourd was not a person who cooks often, not only did the guest have to be the right kind, but he also had to be in a good mood. The guests today were exceptionall right, other than Hua Man Lou, there was Ancient Pine Hermit and that man who claimed to be the number 1 in chess, number 2 in poetry and wine, and number 3 in sword skill: Wooden Taoist.

    Obviously, these people were not just any regular guests, therefore Father Bitter Gourd was especially happy today. In the vast and boundless sunset, the crisp and clear sounds of the late bell could be heard, finally signalling the coming of the night. By the time Hua Man Lou walked outside, Ancient Pine Hermit and Wooden Taoist were already waiting for him in the yard. The night breeze blew through the bamboo forest, the scorching day was already on the other side of the sunset.

    "To have two of my seniors waiting for me, I don't know how I can forgive myself." Hua Man Lou smiled and greeted them.

    The Wooden Taoist laughed. This never conforming, always different elder of the Wu Dang Sect had actually also changed his usual, patched thousand times over, Taoist robe for a clean and sparkling blue shirt.

    Precisely because he did not want to be held to other people's standards and expectations, he willing gave up being the Head Master of Wu Dang. But in order to taste some of Father Bitter Gourd's personal cooking, he was willing to suffer a little.

    Everybody knew about Father Bitter Gourd's strange temperament.

    "Looks like this old Taoist is right after all." Ancient Pine Hermit inexplicably let out a sigh.

    "What did Father say?" Hua Man Lou inquired.

    "I said that you would surely know that we were here, even if we hold absolutely still, you would still know!" The Wooden Taoist laughed.

    "But I can't figure out exactly how did you know that we were here." Ancient Pine Hermit sighed again.

    "Me neither." The Wooden Taoist conceded. "But I have a good point about me that you can't match."

    "And what's that?"

    "When I run into something that I can't figure out, I stop thinking about them!" The Wooden Taoist joked.

    "That's why I have always maintained that if you give up drinking, you would surely live until you are 300 years old!" Ancient Pine Hermit joking observed.

    "Why would I possibly want to live to 300 if I can't drink?"

    The bamboo curtains of the meditation room had been drawn. But from there permeated the indescribably delicous smell of food, delicious enough to lead any human to the table in hopes of food.

    "Father Bitter Gourd's vegetable cooking is truly peerless in this world." Ancient Pine Hermit sighed.

    "He had always maintained that his cooking was enough to even temp the Bodhisattva!" Wooden Taoist laughingly claimed.

    "Well, the food had already been placed on the table, what are we waiting for?" Ancient Pine Hermit commented.

    Drawing aside the bamboo curtain sheet, they walked in, and were all shocked. Not only had the food been already placed on the table, there was already a man there, eating to his heart's desire.

    This uninvited guest did not wait for them, nor he did not bath either. In reality, not only was his body covered in mud and dirt, his body emnated a stinking odor of sweat. But not only had Father Bitter Gourd not chased him away, incredibly, he was sitting at his side, constantly putting food into his bowl, as if he was afraid that this guest might not eat enough.

    "This monk is playing favorites." Wooden Taoist sighed.

    "We are the ones he invited, yet he lets someone else eat first." Ancient Pine Hermit grimly agreed.

    "And then he demanded that we wash up, but then this guy looked as if he had just came rolling out from a mud puddle." Wooden Taoist continued.

    Father Bitter Gourd laughed at their comments: "True, this monk is playing favorites, but only to this one person, so there's no point for you guys to get mad."

    "Why do you favor him anyways?" The Wooden Taoist demanded.

    "Because I have no idea what to do whenever I run into him."

    "I don't blame you," the Wooden Taoist laughed as well. "Last time, this guy stole two jugs of Virgin's Blush that I had sat for more than 50 years. And all I could do was stare angrily at him!"

    "Even the Bodhisattva run out of ideas when this guy shows up." Hua Man Lou ruefully smiled.

    Who else could this man be but Lu Xiao Feng.

    A plate of ham and another plate of tofu had already been cleaned off when Lu Xiao Feng finally stopped and shot a smile towards the three guests.

    "Go ahead and curse me if you want, I'll just keep on eating. You guys have a good time cursing, I just happen to be having a good time eating."

    "Others might fall for your tricks, but not I." Wooden Taoist burst out laughing and sat down. Instantly three pieces of ducks had disappeared into his belly as well.

    Hua Man Lou sat down along side Lu Xiao Feng, and immediately frowned.

    "You usually don't smell bad at all, how come you smell like a dog that just crawled out of an outhouse today?"

    "Because I haven't taken a bath in 10 days."

    "How many days?" Hua Man Lou was shocked at the answer.

    "Ten days."

    "Why haven't you taken a bath in 10 days?" Hua Man Lou frowned disapprovingly.

    "I have been busy."

    "Busy doing what?"

    "Busy holding up my end of a gamble."

    "Who did you lose a bet with?"

    "Other than that devil Si Kong Zhai Xin, who else could it be?" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    "How did you lose to him?"

    "Remember how I humiliated him last time we competed doing back flips?" Lu Xiao Feng laughed. "Well, this time he came up to me and wanted a rematch. How could I turn that down?"

    "Of course you accepted!"

    "But it turns out that this little bastard had been doing nothing but practicing back flips these days. In two hours he did six hundred and eighty back flips! What am I suppose to do after that?"

    "So what did you lose to him?"

    "We agreed that if I won, he would have to, from now on, get on his knees, kowtow to me, and yell at the top of his lungs: 'Uncle!' if he ever sees me again. And that if I lose, then I would dig out one earthworm for every back flip he did in the next 10 days."

    Hua Man Lou laughed.

    "No wonder you look like an earthworm yourself now."

    "Did you really dig out 680 worms for him?" The Wooden Taoist could not control himself anymore either and asked in between fits of laughter.

    "The first several days wasn't that bad, found alot of worms." Lu Xiao Feng sighed and put up a brave smile. "But later on, finding a worm got harder than a slacker finding his wife."

    "What does the King of Thieves need all those worms for?" The Ancient Pine Hermit had to ask.

    "He doesn't!" Lu Xiao Feng bitterly replied. "He just wanted to see me dig worms."

    "Who could have imagined that Lu Xiao Feng would have today!" Wooden Taoist was having a good laugh over this. "Makes you feel good all over!"

    "Do you want a bet with me as well?" Lu Xiao Feng proposed, after his eyes twirled about for a bit inside of their sockets.

    "A bet over what?"

    "Drinking."

    "I'm not going to fall for that." The Wooden Taoist told him with a smile.

    "You are admitting defeat already?" Lu Xiao Feng shot him a sideways look.

    "I admitted defeat a long time ago. When it comes to drinking I'm no match for you, when it comes to sword skills I'm no match for Xi Men Chui Xue and Yie Gu Xing. If you really want to get in a bet with me, then do it over chess!"

    "You think I'm going to fall for that?" Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

    "Other people know that I'm Number 1 in the world in chess, but they don't know that there is something else that nobody can match me in!" the Wooden Taoist proudly declared.

    "What's that?"

    "Eating, would you be willing to have an eating contest with me?"

    "I want to, but I'm not a rice barrel!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    {Note: the term "rice barrel", or "fan tong", is a general put down in Chinese.}

    "Who would have thought that the world famous Lu Xiao Feng would admit defeat. This is truly a rare occasion." The Wooden Taoist sighed as well.

    "In truth, recently he is no longer the most sensational guy in the martial world!" Father Bitter Gourd suddenly proclaimed.

    "Who else could it be?" Lu Xiao Feng asked.

    "Who do you think?"

    "Xi Men Chui Xue?"

    "Rumors say that he has been keeping that young Lady Sun of the Four Beauties of E'Mei recently and have not shown his face in the martial world for quite a while now!" Hua Man Lou answered for Father Bitter Gourd. Lu Xiao Feng smiled at that.

    "Who would have thought that he would have a day like today as well? I thought for sure he was going to turn into a monk eventually."

    "We don't want monks like that in Buddhism!" Father Bitter Gourd replied.

    "Well if it's not Xi Men Chui Xue, could it be Yie Gu Xing?" Lu Xiao Feng took another crack at it.

    "Not him either!"

    "Yie Gu Xing has been very sick recently!" The Wooden Taoist revealed.

    "He could get sick too?" Lu Xiao Feng was quite taken aback by the news. "What did he come down with?"

    "The same illness as me. Laziness." Wooden Taoist smiled. "Once you catch it, no matter who you are, you'll never cause a sensation again!"

    "Could it possibly be the Boss and the Boss's Wife?" Lu Xiao Feng asked after thinking it over for a bit.

    "The Boss is even lazier!" Hua Man Lou laughed and eliminated that choice.

    "The Honest Monk isn't big on causing a stiff, Abbot... no, can't be him...." Lu Xiao Feng thought out loud.

    "Could it be that female tiger over there at Mount Qi Xia?" He asked, after much deep thought.

    "No, all no. Not only do you not know this guy, I guarantee you haven't even heard of him before!" Father Bitter Gourd replied.

    "What kind of a person is he?"

    "A man that knows how to embroider!" Father Bitter Gourd answered. Lu Xiao Feng was taken aback momentarily before he laughed.

    "Actually there are quite a few men who knows how to embroider. Of the several taylors that I know of, a couple of them knows how to embroider!"

    "But not only does he know how to sew flowers, he can sew blind men!" Father Bitter Gourd responded. Lu Xiao Feng was taken aback yet again.

    "Sew blind men?"

    "Seems likehe had sewed at least 70 or 80 blind men in the last several days!"

    "How does he sew blind men?"

    "With a sewing needle, two pricks and you get one!"

    Lu Xiao Feng finally understood what he was saying.

    "What kind of people are these blind men that he has sewn?"

    "There's at least 4 or 5 men that you know of in that group!"

    "Who?"

    "Chang Man Tian, Hua Yi Fan, Jiang Zhong Wei...."

    "The Jiang Zhong Wei of the Southeast Royal Palace?" He did not even finish before Lu Xiao Feng's expression changed drastically.

    "Is there another Jiang Zhong Wei?"

    "But ever since he entered the Royal Palace, he hasn't meddled in the affairs of the martial world, why would anybody go after him?" Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

    "Nobody went after him, but somebody did go after those 18 bushels of diamond studs in the Royal Palace!" Father Bitter Gourd answered.

    "This person didn't just blind Jiang Zhong Wei but made off with 18 bushels of diamond studs from the Royal Palace?"

    "On top of that, he also took with him 70 or so priceless pieces of art work and calligraphy that Hua Yu Gan has collected, 800 thousand taels of silver entrusted to escort to Enforcing Peace Escort Service, a covetted shipmen that Enforcing East insured, and some 90,000 taels of golden leaflets from Golden Sand River!" Father Bitter Gourd sighed to catch his breath and continued. "Within a space of about a month, this man has commited 60 some huge heists, and all by himself. Causing quite a stir wouldn't you say?"

    "How come I didn't hear anything about any of this?" Lu Xiao Feng asked, still a bit startled by the news.

    "You have been busy in the Northwest lately, these crimes happened in the Southeast. The news only got here in the last couple of days, only you were busy digging for worms!" Father Bitter Gourd.

    "This news had just got to here, and yet you know all about it!" Lu Xiao Feng observed.

    "Mmm!"

    "Since when did you become so well connected to all that's happening in the world?" Lu Xiao Feng wondered.

    "Don't forget, I have always had a most well connected younger martial brother." Father Bitter Gourd sighed.

    "Jin Jiu Ling?"

    "Luckily, I only have one martial brother like him!" Father Bitter Gourd let out an exasperrated smile.

    "Now I understand." Lu Xiao Feng let out a long, drawn out sigh.

    "What do you understand?"

    "Jin Jiu Ling was good friends with Jiang Zhong Wei, and not to mention he was once the Number One Bounty Hunter in the world. Even though he had washed his hands of the business, but he has to get in on this matter."

    Father Bitter Gourd conceded Lu Xiao Feng's point. Once someone has worked one day for the government, it was hard to get out.

    "To this day, I still don't understand why he decided to go into that line of work back then!" Father Bitter Gourd sighed.

    "What? You want him to be a monk instead?" Wooden Taoist interrupted.

    "A monk would at least not have as much trouble and worry!" Father Bitter Gourd replied.

    "But monks don't have wives either!" Wooden Taoist jabbed. Father Bitter Gourd did not reply anymore. Everybody in the martial world knew that the biggest flaw that Jin Jiu Ling has was that he fancied himself to be suave and charming. It had even been rumored that the reason he entered public service was because of a woman.

    "Jin Jiu Ling has been publically acknowledged as the best in the 300 year history of the Six Doors. Any and all cases, be it large or small, would be solved the moment he gets his hands on it." Lu Xiao Feng stated.

    "That's why I have always thought that his biggest problem is that he was too capable, too smart." Father Bitter Gourd sighed some more.

    "But even the smartest man would eventually come across something that he can't solve." Lu Xiao Feng hypothesized, and Father Bitter Gourd agreed.

    "Maybe this case is that very one that he could not solve, so he wants a helper." Again, Father Bitter Gourd agreed to that notion.

    "And since you only have one martial brother like him, you would naturally help him find a helper!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed and ruefully laughed. "The unlucky thing is, I just happen to be the perfect helper, whenever someone run into something they can't solve, they come to me, therefore...."

    "Therefore....?" Father Bitter Gourd asked.

    "Therefore when you invited me here to eat this meal, you probably did not do it out of the kindness of your heart."

    "Don't forget that it was you who barged in here, I didn't actually invite you."

    "Maybe I just happen to be unlucky to begin with." Lu Xiao Feng laughed at his own misery. "Why else would I just barge in here like that?"

    "You seem to be getting quite unlucky recently!" The Wooden Taoist laughed.

    "But this time I'm not having it, I don't care if he sews flowers or patches up pants, none of my business. I don't care how big this thing get, I want no part of it!"

    "He didn't want you get in on this anyways, what are you making a big fuss about anyways?" Father Bitter Gourd plainly told him.

    "He didn't?" Lu Xiao Feng was startled.

    "I truly did not!" A man replied, smiling.

    Of course, he was none other than Jin Jiu Ling.

    As quite a number of people in the martial world know, there was two things about Jin Jiu Ling that very few people could match. His cloths, and his eyes. Jin Jiu Ling's eyes were not especially big, nor were they exceptionally bright, but as long as he laid an eye on something, he would never forget it.

    The cloths that Jin Jiu Ling wore were always made of the finest of fabrics, in the latest of styles, and done with the most delicate of care. Even that fold out fan that he carried in his hand was a priceless object, when push comes to shove, it could even be used as a weapon. Jin Jiu Ling's skill at finding and hitting pressure points were first rate. In reality, everything about him was first rate.

    If the wine was not first class, he would never drink it, if the woman was not first rate, he would not even look at her, if the carriage was not first class, he would never get in it. But he was not a first rate rich man, luckily for him, he had many money earning abilities. He was an expert in appraising old paintings and calligraphy as well as having an uncanny ability to judge thoroughbreds. Those two abilities alone were enough to assure him a first rate life for the rest of his days.

    Besides, he was still a very handsome and attractive man, and did not look to be that old. This made it possible for him to spend very little money on what should be his biggest drain of cash. The beauties' smiles that other people might have to spend one thousand taels of gold to get usually came to him without him having to spent a penny.

    That was why he had always lived quite comfortably, and also had preserved himself very well, looking not a bit like the martial arts master that had criminals shivering at the mere mention of his name but instead like a poetry writing, horse riding playboy.

    "Have you found anything worthwhile lately?" Ancient Pine Hermit immediately asked upon seeing him walk in.

    The Ancient Pine Hermit's biggest hobby was collecting classic art work and calligraphy. His collection was definitely not any worse than that of Hua Yu Gan's.

    "All the good stuff that already been taken to Mount Huang by my dear hermit, what's left for me to find?" Jin Jiu Ling smiled.

    "Not even one painting?"

    Jin Jiu Ling paused for a moment before smiling again.

    "I have on me a recently created flower piece!"

    "Well? Come on, let's see it!" Ancient Pine Hermit asked. But Jin Jiu Ling was already in the middle of bringing it out. It was a blood red piece of satin, on it was sewn a black peony.

    "What is this?" Ancient Pine Hermit asked after being momentarily surprised by it.

    "Recently, there has been quite a demand for embroidery." Jin Jiu Ling smiled.

    "Could this be the personal work of Divine Needle, Madame Xue?" Ancient Pine Hermit asked.

    "No, a man sewed this."

    "That particular sewing man?" Ancient Pine Hermit's expression noticeably changed at the revelation.

    Jin Jiu Ling nodded.

    "This was the very one that he sewed inside the Royal Treasury Vault."

    "Was he really sitting there sewing?" Lu Xiao Feng asked.

    Jin Jiu Ling nodded again.

    "When Jiang Zhong Wei opened the door, he was sitting there sewing this very flower!"

    "The Royal Treasury Vault must be guarded inside out by a forest of men, how did he get in?" Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

    "Nobody knows how he got in, nobody even knows where to start." Jin Jiu Ling smiled rather tiredly.

    "And he did not leave any clues whatsoever?"

    "None."

    "What kind of a person was he?"

    "He was the kind of person that had a huge beard and still wore a huge cotton overcoat even on a scorching hot day."

    "And?"

    "And he's a man, and he knows how to embroider, and he's very good at that!"

    "That's all you know?"

    "That's all I know, and that's the same thing that everybody knows, nobody knows any more than I."

    "What type of kungfu did he use?"

    "Don't know!"

    "Even Jiang Zhong Wei couldn't tell?"

    "Even a veteran of the pugilistic world like Chang Man Tian couldn't tell, what hope does Jiang Zhong Wei have?" Jin Jiu Ling sighed.

    "Jiang Zhong Wei's Iron Palms is probably the best in the Southeast."

    "But he still did not even have a chance to make a move!" Jin Jiu Ling sighed again.

    "How could someone this powerful just suddenly pop out of thin air....?" Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

    "You said that you weren't going to get into this matter, why are you asking all these questions?" Master Bitter Gourd coldly inquired.

    "What's the harm in asking?"

    "Of course there isn't any harm." Jin Jiu Ling put up another tired smile. "It's just that everything I know, you know now as well."

    Lu Xiao Feng stared at him for a while.

    "Why did you tell me everything?" He suddenly asked.

    "Because you asked."

    "No other reason?"

    "No."

    "And you were not puposefully waiting here for me?"

    "How could I have known that you would come here?" Jin Jiu Ling could not help but put up another tired smile.

    "And you did not have any intentions of finding me?"

    "No."

    "Good, now I can relax and drink wine." Lu Xiao Feng smiled and proclaimed. Even though his mouth was saying "good", his smile was very awkward, very unatural, and it seemed like he did not want to drink anymore wine.

    But now it was Jin Jiu Ling's turn to suddenly smile.

    "But now that you are here, I do have something to ask you!" He declared. Lu Xiao Feng's eyes immediately lit up.

    "I knew it, I knew you must have something to ask of me!" He laughed and said.

    "To crack this case and find this Embroidery Thief, there's probably only one person in the entire world that is capable of that." Jin Jiu Ling said. Lu Xiao Feng's eyes shone even brighter, who else but him could solve this mystery?

    "Who is this person that you speak of?" But he purposefully asked nevertheless, wanting to hear Jin Jiu Ling say it.

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin!"

    "Who did you say?" Lu Xiao Feng asked after being rendered momentarily speechless.

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin." Jin Jiu Ling repeated. Lu Xiao Feng looked away, seemingly ignoring him totally.

    But Jin Jiu Ling somehow, did not seem to notice and continued.

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin is knowns as the King of Thieves, and he is truly a genius that comes along once every century. If there was anybody in the world that could figure out how the Embroidery Thief got into the Royal Treasury Vault, then that person is Si Kong Zhai Xin."

    Lu Xiao Feng had already began to drink, seemingly too disinterested to even listen anymore.

    But Jin Jiu Ling just kept on going.

    "If we want to crack this case, then we must find Si Kong Zhai Xin. But unfortunately, he's the type of person who's whereabouts and movements are always a mystery, so...."

    "So you want to ask me where you can find him?" Lu Xiao Feng could not contain himself anymore.

    "Correct."

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly, and quite forcibly, put the cup in his hand down onto the table.

    "So all that time that you wasted telling me all that garbage, was just for finding him?"

    "Who else could I go to besides him?" Jin Jiu Ling sighed.

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly jumped up and pointed at his own nose.

    "Me!" He was practically shouting. "Why can't you ask me?"

    Jin Jiu Ling laughed, laughed and shook his head.

    "You won't do!"

    "What do you mean I won't do?" Lu Xiao Feng seemed to jump even higher.

    "There's absolutely no way that you could do this." Jin Jiu Ling was actually still shaking his head.

    "Why can't I?"

    "Because this case is truly too dangerous," Jin Jiu Ling matter of factly answered. "Besides, you already said that you wanted no part of this!"

    "Who said that I wanted no part of this? I'm going to get into this just to show you that I can." By now, Lu Xiao Feng was way beyond screaming.

    "I'm still willing to bet that you won't solve this case!"

    "Alright!" Lu Xiao Feng slammed his hand onto the table. "Whatever you want to bet, I'm in!"

    He had not even finished his sentence before he noticed that other people were laughing. In fact, everyone was laughing. It was the kind of laugh that you get when you suddenly see someone step onto a pile of dog droppings. Lu Xiao Feng suddenly realized that he had just step onto a pile of dog droppings, a huge, stinking pile that he could not pull out of no matter how much he wanted to.

    "Inviting him is not as good as baiting him, so true that saying is." The Wooden Taoist sighed after having a good laugh.

    The dinner was over. Ancient Pine Hermit was someone who took very good care of himself, he gets up early, and goes to sleep early as well. The Wooden Taoist had that illness, laziness; and Father Bitter Gourd had a night session to attend to. There were only 3 people left in the guest room.

    Lu Xiao Feng stared at the black peony on the red satin.

    "When was the first time this man appeared?" He suddenly asked.

    "The third of June, the first person to run into him was Chang Man Tian." Jin Jiu Ling replied.

    "And the last time?"

    "The last that I know of was 13 days ago, whether or not there was any new heists these last several days, I know not!"

    "Thirteen days ago I was busy doing back flips with Si Kong Zhai Xin, obviously it wasn't him."

    "I didn't suspected him to begin with!"

    "And you didn't want to ask him to help either" Lu Xiao Feng coldly rebuked.

    Jin Jiu Ling laughed.

    "All I know is that you had just finished digging out over 600 worms for him, so you weren't exactly feeling gracious towards him!"

    "So you purposefully baited me?"

    "How else could I get you involved in this?" Jin Jiu Ling laughed and replied.

    "Looks like I really shouldn't try and make friends with people in your line of work!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    "Well no matter what, since we are all now knee deep in this, it's best to figure out a way to get out of this."

    "First, we have to figure out what kind of person this is." Lu Xiao Feng said after some deep thought.

    "Agreed."

    "From what I can tell, not only does this person do things fast and clean, his martial arts are also first rate, there's no way he's some new guy who just came onto the world."

    "That's what I think as well, he must be a very famous person in disguise. But I can't figure out who it could be."

    "He purposefully put on a big beard and a big cotton overcoat, and sat in the middle of the road sewing; all in order to distract poeple's attention so that nobody would notice some other things about him!"

    "Looks like you should be in my line of work." Jin Jiu Ling joked. "Even an old fox like me, who has spent ten years or so in Six Door could not analyze the situation any better than you."

    Lu Xiao Feng purposefully put up a stiff face.

    "You already dragged me into this, you can't stop kissing my *** now!"

    "One kiss, two kiss, nothing beats *** kissing! It's never wrong to kiss *** a couple more times than necessary!" Jin Jiu Ling loudly laughed.

    "No matter how good a disguise is, there will always be some flaw somewhere," Hua Man Lou suddenly spoke up. "Maybe Chang Man Tian and them didn't notice, maybe they noticed, but didn't think it was important."

    "Very possible!" Jin Jiu Ling agreed.

    "Therefore, if we ask them again, in detail; maybe we can find some new clues!" Hua Man Lou concluded.

    "We?" Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

    "We!"

    "Does 'we' include you?" Lu Xiao Feng wondered.

    "Don't forget, I'm blind." Hua Man Lou smiled. "How can I not get involved in other blind men's matters?"

    Lu Xiao Feng and Jin Jiu Ling shot a look at one another, both of them feeling a bit guilty. They had been going back and forth with "blind-this" and "blind-than" just a bit earlier, totally forgetting that there was a blind man sitting right beside them. It seemed as if nobody has ever really treated Hua Man Lou like a blind man!

    Lu Xiao Feng lightly coughed a couple of times.

    "Ok, let's split up so we can do this faster. The two of you go find Chang Man Tian and Jiang Zhong Wei!"

    "And you?" Jin Jiu Ling wondered.

    "I'm going to take this and find someone!" Lu Xiao Feng put the piece of red satin into his shirt.

    "Find who?"

    "A female tiger!"

    "Which one?"

    "The prettiest one, obviously." Lu Xiao Feng smiled. Jin Jiu Ling smiled as well.

    "Don't forget, the prettiest one is also the meaniest one. Careful not to get bit!"

    "Oh he'll be careful, you can be sure of that!" Hua Man Lou matter of factly reassured him.

    "How come?"

    "Because he's already been bitten quite a few times!" Hua Man Lou smiled.

    There were four female tigers in the martial world. Seemed like all four had taken a couple of bites out of Lu Xiao Feng.
    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. #2
    Junior Member boycetwc's Avatar
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    Moin,

    Wow! It seems that you're translating DGSD, LOCH and LXF all the same time. Perhaps someone can help you out here...

    I wish I could read chinese.... I would certainly volunteer to help translate.

    Thanks for all your effort in these translations, Moin.

    BTW, how are you prioritizing these titles? I bet LXF is highest priority for you.. right?

  3. #3
    Senior Member TigerWong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the translation, this is one of the LSF novels I'm not too familiar with.
    Last edited by TigerWong; 07-09-03 at 05:29 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    Lu cracked me up.

    Thanks Moin for the laughs...

    Somehow, I suspect that the thief in question is actually a female in disguise.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  5. #5
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Thanks Moin for all the hard work. This plot is starting even more earlier than the first.

    Originally posted by Goofy
    Somehow, I suspect that the thief in question is actually a female in disguise.
    Me too! Wonder what he/she is wearing under that cotton overcoat to keep so cool? Maybe he/she has something to do with the Divine Needle Madame Duen?

    Again, thanks Moin. Looking forward to your update.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  6. #6
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Originally posted by charbydis
    Thanks Moin for all the hard work. This plot is starting even more earlier than the first.



    Me too! Wonder what he/she is wearing under that cotton overcoat to keep so cool? Maybe he/she has something to do with the Divine Needle Madame Duen?

    Again, thanks Moin. Looking forward to your update.
    since all books of Lu seemed to connect with one another, I wonder if it was someone that connected w/ Shanguan Feiyin?

    how about that granny chestnut?



    thanks Moin.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  7. #7

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    We'll just have to wait and see about the speculations.

    God it's so hard not to give the story away!... hehehe.
    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.

  8. #8
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    Fun story, and thank you for a highly comprehensive translation.

  9. #9
    Member Acidbeastonfire's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Goofy
    [B]Lu cracked me up.

    Yeah...agree...He can be so slapstick sometimes

    Thanks Moin. Its nice to have sometime funny to balance the 'heavy' LOCH. I never thought i'd be saying this but i think i'm beginning to enjoy LXF more (GOSH!!!)
    "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."

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    I've read somewhere that LXF higung is much better than CLX? is that correct?

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    Originally posted by pjaya
    I've read somewhere that LXF higung is much better than CLX? is that correct?
    I don't know if they're comparable. Both of them are QingGong masters; I have a feeling that CLX is probably better because of his physique (he can't use his nose, so he "breathes" through his skin). WuGong-wise...well, CLX's way is fast, simple, to the vulnerable spot. He's the kind that picks up anything and deals with it. LXF is always going around snapping people's swords (that's the impression I get). In a fight, I think they would do similarly, but I still imagine CLX coming off easier because he's often smarter and more focused than LXF...

  12. #12

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    Due to the confusion over the rumors of revisions in LoCH. Only this for right now.

    Chapter 2
    Visiting Divine Needle Xue

    Hillside. Under the light of the dusk, the green hillside seemed to change into a strange and surreal deep purple. The time now was dusk, and the mountainside was covered with all different types of roses in full bloom. Two young girls with their hairs done in pig tails were picking flowers. From their mouths emanated the soft, sweet tunes of mountain hymns.

    Their song was softer and gentler than the warm summer breeze, they themselves were prettier than the flowers. When Lu Xiao Feng walked onto the side of the hillside, their song suddenly stopped as both of them stared at Lu Xiao Feng with their big, bright eyes. Luckily, Lu Xiao Feng was used to having women stare at him, so he did not blush but instead smiled.

    "Hey, what are you doing here?" This young lady had big eyes and some small hints of freckles on her nose, all of which made her look even more cute and adorable.

    "The flowers are so pretty here, can't I just be looking at the flowers?" Lu Xiao Feng replied, still smiling.

    "No!" The freckled girl's eyes got even bigger. "This place is ours, we don't welcome men!"

    "Little girls shouldn't have such short tempers," Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "Girls like that might not find a husband!"

    "That's why I'm never mean!" The other girl had a round face, and when she smiles two dimples appear, making her look sweet and tender, just like she says.

    "If you like flowers so much, how about I give you two?" She was still sweetly smiling.

    "Great!"

    The girl with the dimples walked up and, still smiling sweetly, reached into her flower basket. What she took out from the flower basket was not flowers, but scissors as she suddenly attacked Lu Xiao Feng. This sweet and tender little girl's moves were unbelievably quick, fierce, and vicious.

    Even Lu Xiao Feng was caught by the surprise. Lucky for him, this was not the first time that a woman tried to stab him with a pair of scissors and he even seemed to be expecting it. With a quick spin of his body, he quickly back off 5 or so meters.

    "This man doesn't look like anything better than scum, don't let him get away!" The freckled girl shouted. A pair of scissors appeared in her hand as well as she charged into the fray. Her moves were not slow either.

    "Scissors are for cutting flowers, since when did they start being used to cut people?" Lu Xiao Feng miserably joked. He had dodged the first couple of moves, but the girls' attacks became more and more vicious. He fought hard to fight off the urge to yank the scissors out of their hands, to have a huge hole poked onto your body was not exactly a fun idea.

    At this moment, another person suddenly appeared on the hillside.

    "If you want to cut him, only cut off those 2 little mustache of his, but make sure you don't actually cut him to death!" Smiling, the she instructed. Her cloths were snow white in color, the material looked light and soft. She stood elegantly and lightly on the top of the hill, as if at any moment she could be carried away by the wind. She was staring at Lu Xiao Feng with eyes that were overflowing with an indescribable warm and tenderness.

    The two girls suddenly stopped and somersaulted back to in front of her.

    "Miss know this person?"

    "Mmhmm!"

    "Who is this person?"

    "Can't you tell that he has four eye brows?"

    "Lu Xiao Feng? This person is Lu Xiao Feng?" Both of the girls started to giggle uncontrollably at the realization. "No wonder he looked like a criminal when he smiled!"

    "The Miss is a female tiger, but who would have thought that her servants are also that vicious." Lu Xiao Feng sighed and meekly smiled. "If I was a bit slower, there's probably already 17 or 18 holes on my body."

    "Well, who's fault is it that you took so long to come to see me?" The Miss bit her lip. "I'm really tempted to actually poke 18 holes in you. But..."

    She didn not finish her sentence, but her face was already red, red like the setting sun on of the faraway mountains. Incredibly, she was very shy.

    Lu Xiao Feng stared at her, seemingly mesmerized.

    The Miss blushed even more.

    "Why are you staring at me, it's not like a flower on my face." She lightly said.

    "Such a shy and proper little lady, who would have guessed that she's 'The Cold Ruskha', Xue Bing, the mere sight of whom would give everyone in the martial world a headache?" Lu Xiao Feng sighed again and mumbled to himself. "It's a strange world isn't it?"

    "Do you get a headache when you see me?" Xue Bing asked.

    "No, no head ache." Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "But my heart is beating three times faster than it normally does!"

    "This guy might have a pair of criminal eyes, but that mouth of his is sweeter than honey!" The dimpled girl laughed and whispered.

    "If his mouth wasn't sweet, how could he get Miss to think about him every second of everday?" The other girl whispered back.

    "Don't you girls know when to be quiet? Who said that I think about this heartless low life at all?" Xue Bing shot an angry look at the two girls and said, blushing. She was pouting but smiling, mad but embarrased, but the bright and vibrant sunset had seemed to have lost all of its color.

    "I really should have came earlier, why did I wait until today?" Lu Xiao Feng mumbled to himself again, and sighed.

    "I know why." Xue Bing elegantly replied.

    "You do?"

    "You see me and forget the others, but when you see others, you forget all about me." Xue Bing bit her lip again. "You are a heartless man without a bit of care through and through!"

    "If I knew I was going to get reprimanded, I probably shouldn't have came!" Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled.

    "You think I can't see through your little ideas? If you don't have some pressing need, would you have came?" Xue Bing coldly said.

    "I really do have a pressing need," Lu Xiao Feng confessed. "But not to for you!"

    "Well? Tell me! Who are you here to see?" Xue Bing put up a serious face.

    "For Madame!"

    "What are you trying to pull now?" Xue Bing found this all very strange. "Why do you want to see Madame?"

    "I have something to ask of her!"

    "I'm not going to allow you to trouble Madame. If you have a question, just ask me, it's the same."

    "But there's absolutely know way you could help with this!"

    "And what is that?"

    "Embroidery."

    "Embroidery? You want to learn to sew? When did you become a tailor?" This was getting stranger by the minute to Xue Bing.

    "Only tailors are allowed to learn to sew?"

    "Even if you kill me, I still won't believe that you actually want to learn to sew!"

    Once again, Lu Xiao Feng had to fess up.

    "But I really have something to ask Madame, could you take me to her?"

    "I'm still 'Divine Needle' Madame Xue's descendent, remember? Why don't you ask me?"

    "Because I know you never wanted to touch sewing needles at all." Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "You told me yourself, as soon as you pick one up, you fall asleep!"

    "You actually still remember that?"

    "I remember every word you have ever said to me. So it's best if you take me to Madame as soon as possible!"

    "Well, I'm not going to. What are you going to do about that?" Xue Bing mysteriously smiled.

    Madame Xue was already 77 years old this year, but nobody could ever tell that she was 77 years old. In certain not well lit situations, quite a number of people would actually mistake her for someone who was not a day over 38. Her manners and bearing are forever appropriate and perfect, her eyes were still as bright and moving as they were in days of old. This was especially true whenever she sees a young person that she liked, then a glimmer of maiden innocence could even be spotted in her eyes.

    Lu Xiao Feng just happens to be a young man that she liked. Lu Xiao Feng liked her very much as well. He had always wished that every woman could be as beautiful as her at her age - He always wished that the world would be more beautiful that it already was.

    "You should come and see me more often you know." Madame Xue smiled. "A woman as old as I am are no longer a danger to the likes of you now. At least you shouldn't be afraid of me trying to force you to marry me!"

    "I would come more often, but Xue Bing wouldn't let me!" Lu Xiao Feng purposefully exaggerated a sigh.

    "Oh?"

    "Just today, she wouldn't lead me here to you!"

    "Why?"

    "I don't know why either." Lu Xiao Feng blinked innocently. "If you ask me I think she must be jealous."

    Madame Xue laughed some more. Her eyes began to glow and the wrinkles on her face disappeared.

    "And could you please take a look at this?" Lu Xiao Feng took this opportunity to present the piece of red satin cloth to her.

    "What about it?" Madame Xue only needed to glance the satin out of the corner of her eyes for the look of disapproval appeared on her face. Shaking her head, she asked further. "I sewed better when I was just 6 years old!"

    "I'm not asking you to inspect the flower," Lu Xiao Feng smiled. "I'm requesting you to take a look at the satin and the thread."

    "I have seen millions of these things in my life, and you want me to look at some more?"

    "That's why I'm asking you to take a look at this, precisely because you have seen so many of these. Could you determine where the satin and the thread are from, and which shop sells it?"

    Madame Xue took the piece of satin into her hand and lightly touched it with her finger nail.

    "The satin is from Lucky Omen from the capital, the thread is bought from Lucky Symbol. Both of these shops are owned by the same boss, located at Sticky Partition Wall." She immediately concluded.

    "And only at their headquarters in the capital can you buy these goods right?"

    "Both of these shop only has one location, there aren't any other branches!"

    "Do they ship or sell to other shops?"

    "Even if other shops have these goods, they got it from personally going to these stores and buying them!" Madame Xue explained further. "These two stores make top quality stuff that they sell themselves. They don't make alot, nor do they advertise much. Their boss, Yan Ah Fu is a very modest person that's not trying to get rich in the business!"

    "Where is his shop at in the capital?"

    "In a very remote alleyway off the street behind the Cold Palace. All these years he has never advertised a bit. Other than real experts, very few people know about it!" Madame Xue suddenly smiled. "Be honest, did you fall for this girl here but couldn't find her because she's hiding from you? Is that why you want to find her using this?"

    {Note: The Cold Palace is the traditionally the palace where the wives and concubines of past Emperors reside until their deaths.}

    Lu Xiao Feng was already in shock, only after a long time did he snap out of it.

    "Woman? Did a woman sew this?" He finally uttered.

    "Of course a woman sewed this."

    "Are... are you sure?"

    "Would you make a mistake when looking at women? Would you mistake an old hag for a young girl?" Madame Xue straightened her face, seemingly a bit annoyed at the question.

    "No."

    "I am at least 10 times more of an expert of these things as you are with women. If I'm wrong, then I'll willingly lose my little baby over here to you."

    "Even if you really did lose her to me, I won't dare to collect my prize." Lu Xiao Feng played along.

    "Why not? Do you think she's ugly?" Madame Xue's eyes were wide in anger.

    "Oh no, not ugly at all." Lu Xiao Feng smiled. "Just a bit on the mean side. Last time she nearly bit my entire ear off."

    Xue Bing had been obediently standing there, not making the slightest sound. But now her face was flush red and her head bowed even deeper.

    "All of you say she's mean, but when I look at her, not only is she not mean, but is nice and obedient like an angel!" Madame Xue smiled as well. She took Xue Bing's hand in hers. "My child, your only problem is that you are way too shy. What's there to blush about? Women biting men is something that's natural and right!"

    Now even root of Xue Bing's ears were red with embarrasement.

    "Why would I want to bite him? He stinks!" She lightly replied.

    "If you didn't bite him, then how do you know he stinks?" Madame Xue laughed out loud.

    "Mmmm!" Xue Bing let out a spoiled pout before running off in embarrasement. But even then she did not forget to secretly shoot a look towards Lu Xiao Feng and whisper. "Careful!"

    Lu Xiao Feng watched her leave, seeminly mesmerized again.

    "You want to chase after her don't you?" Madame Xue was smiling so wide that her eyes were little slits. "Well go then! What's stopping ya?"

    Lu Xiao Feng hesitated, not taking his eyes off of that piece of red satin in her hand.

    "What are you staring for? Do you actually think that I would keep it?" She laughed at Lu Xiao Feng and tossed the cloth back to him. "If there were two pieces, then I would be able to make a pair of shoes for that girl there, but there's only one...."

    "What did you say you could make?" Lu Xiao Feng cut her off before she could finish.

    "Shoes, what else. That's actually the surface cloth of a shoe."

    Lu Xiao Feng seemed shocked again.

    "Could you make a pair of red shoes?" He mumbled.

    "Of course red shoes." Madame Xue laughed and shook her head in disbelief. "How could you make black shoes from red cloth? You look so smart, since when did you turn into an idiot?"

    "Just then," Lu Xiao Feng sighed, "got scared into one."

    "What are you scared of?"

    "I'm scared that she's waiting outside the door to bite me!"

    He really was bit as soon as he walked out of the door. Xue Bing was really waiting outside for him, and it was quite a bite.

    "I'm turning into a regular soothsayer, I'm getting way too good at predicting things." Lu Xiao Feng tiredly laughed, fervently rubbing his ear.

    "Well it's your fault you embarrased me just then. And what were you trying to do saying that I won't take you here?" She furiously stared at him and angrily reprimanded. "If it wasn't for me, then how did you end up here? You are lucky I didn't really bite that ear of yours completely off."

    All Lu Xiao Feng could do was keep his mouth shut. When a girl is fully intent on looking for trouble, the smart men would all keep their mouth shut tight.

    Suddenly, Xue Bing snatched the red satin out of his hand.

    "So tell me, who sewed this for you? Why are you treating it like some priceless treasure?"

    "Because it is a priceless treasure."

    "Priceless treasure my foot," Xue Bing sneered. "Looks to me like it's not even worth a single tael!"

    "Well, this time you are wrong. It's worht at least 18 bushels of diamond studs, 800 thousand tales of silver, and 9000 pieces of gold leafs!"

    "You have gone crazy!" Xue Bing stared at him with shock in her eyes.

    "I haven't."

    "If not, then why are you telling such preposterous lies?"

    Lu Xiao Feng sighed. He knew even if he did not tell her now, sooner or later she would find out herself. So he decided that it was probably best to tell her himself right now.

    Xue Bing silently listened to his story, her eyes began to glow as well as she listened.

    "Other than this little goodie, there isn't any other clue?" She asked after he had finished.

    "No."

    "And that's why you are planning to go to the capital and visit this Lucky Omen shop to inquire about when they sold this piece of cloth and to whom? Am I right?"

    "I'm just hoping that there hasn't been much red satin being sold recently."

    "Textile shops and maker do seem to keep track of these things for at least a year." Xue Bing blinked and offered.

    "That's why I must be on my way right now!"

    "Good, we'll leave tomorrow!"

    "We?" Lu Xiao Feng seemed surprised.

    "We."

    "And this 'we' includes you?"

    "Of course!"

    "Well, if this 'we' includes you, then it doesn't include me!" Lu Xiao Feng matter of factly told her.

    "You don't want to take me there?" Xue Bing incredulously stared at him.

    "No."

    Xue Bing stared at him for a long time before her eyes suddenly rolled around for a bit.

    "When Madame said something about red shoes just a bit earlier, you seemed to be surpirsed."

    "Mm!"

    "Did you see someone wearing red shoes?"

    "There's alot of people going around wearing red shoes!"

    "But in that group there are some people who are special. Like, for example, some people that shouldn't be wearing red shoes, but still do wear a pair red shoes." The expression on Lu Xiao Feng's face changed. He had still not forgotten that the fake Golden Roc Emperor, even in death, was clutching a red shoe tightly in his hand.

    "Do you know why these people wore red shoes?" Xue Bing casually asked, noticing the look on his face and knowing that she had him.

    "No."

    "Do you know who these people are who wear these red shoes? Do you know what kind of secret these red shoes have?"

    "No."

    "Well I do."

    Lu Xiao Feng took a deep breath, his heart began to pick up speed again. This "secret of the red shoes" had truly moved him. But he did not ask. Because he knew that even if he asked now, Xue Bing would never answer it.

    "Do you want to know these secrets?" Xue Bing casually asked, looking at him out the side of her eyes now.

    "Yes."

    "Well then, do you want to take me to the capital?"

    "Yes!" Lu Xiao Feng exasperratingly smiled. "Very much so!"

    ______________________________

    Lu Xiao Feng really dislikes riding in carriages, he would rather ride horses, or even walk. But at this moment he was sitting inside of a carriage, because Xue Bing likes it. Xue Bing had always been a very well mannered and shy girl, to the point where she would never take big steps while walking - at least she always liked to pretend to be like that.

    Luckily, the carriage was very steady, because the road was very smooth. Highways leading to the capital were all very smooth. Sitting in the coach, Lu Xiao Feng was massaging his chin, because his chin was very sore. He suddenly realized that he seemed to be smiling and laughing meekly and tirely way too often recently, so much so to the point where his chin was getting sore. Xue Bing was sitting on the other side, facing him, watching him; her eyes once again filled with that tenderness and joy that nobody could even hope to describe.

    "Well, can you tell me the secret now?" Lu Xiao Feng could not restrain himself anymore.

    "Secret? What secret?" Xue Bing amazingly looked like she had completely forgotten about this matter!

    "The secret of the red shoes of course, what else?"

    "Oh, that secret. It's not time to reveal that secret yet!!"

    "When will it get to be time to reveal it?"

    "When I'm happy, and I'm not very happy right now."

    "Why aren't you happy?"

    "Nobody would be happy if there's a huge idiot sitting across from them."

    "Who's the idiot?"

    "You."

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly realized that he was meekly laughing again.

    "So what am I? A heartless low life? Or a huge idiot?"

    "Both." Xue Bing leisurely laughed a little. "Because if you weren't a heartless low life, then there's no way you would treat me so terribly. And if you weren't a huge idiot, then you wouldn't waste a trip all the way to the capital!"

    "Why am I an idiot for going to the capital?" Lu Xiao Feng was confused.

    "Tell me, what do you plan on doing there?"

    "You know exactly what I'm planning on doing!"

    "To ask the vendors at Lucky Omen who bought this piece of satin right?"

    "Correct!"

    "Do you know how much pieces of cloth like this they sell every day? Even if somehow, they remember all of the sells, are you really planning on following up on every buyer?"

    "But there can't that many that buy only red satin and black threads."

    "And besides, this person had been doing all of these heists by himself. So he would naturally buy these commodities himself." Xue Bing added.

    "Yes, this matter is very secretive to begin with, so it's most wise not to let a second person in on this!"

    "But why do you think that she only bought black threads and red satin?" Xue Bing suddenly snickered.

    "Because she only used these!"

    "And that's why she could only purchase these 2 things and nothing else? Is there some law that's preventing her from buying more?"

    "But she only used these 2 things!"

    "And because she didn't use it, she couldn't buy it? Does she have to go and purchase huge amounts of black threads and red satin so as to attract other people's attention and make it easy for you?" Xue Bing coldly sneered. "Do you actually think that she's a huge idiot like you?"

    Even Lu Xiao Feng could not responde to that.

    "Because of how secretive and risky this matter is, then why would she leave such a huge and easy to follow clue for you to find? Even if she had left a miniscule clue there, by the time you make it to Lucky Omen you would probably find it burned to the ground."

    Only after a long pause did Lu Xiao Feng finally gather himself and sighed.

    "Well, it looks like I really am an idiot."

    "And a heatless jerk!"

    "And therefore it's pointless to go to the capital!"

    "It would be a wasted trip anyways."

    "If we are not going to the capital, then why did you want to get on this road earlier?"

    "Because I know that there's a place with some great wine up ahead. And I know that you have always been a very generous guy and would surely invite me to a drink or two." Xue Bing cutely answered.

    "Turns out not only am I an idiot and heartless, I have a good trait as well." Lu Xiao Feng laughed meekly. "At least I'm not miserly."

    "As long as a man have that going for him, there would always be alot of girls liking him."

    Pushing the curtains aside, a small river bank could be seen in the distance. In the willow forest, a green flag with the word "WINE" stuck out.

    "This is the wine place." Xue Bing's eyes lit up.

    "Pretty refined and elegant place!"

    "And the wine is really good too; great, in fact!"

    Looking at how her eyes lit up, Lu Xiao Feng could not help but smile.

    "Since when did you become an alcoholic?"

    "Recently."

    "Haven't been feeling well recently?"

    "Recently Madame would not allow me to drink, the more she forbids me, the more I want to, and besides...." She glanced toward Lu Xiao Feng and bitterly continued. "When we parted last time, I told you to come and visit, but you never did, so how could I be feeling well?"

    Lu Xiao Feng did not dare to reply, because he knew if he did, his ear would probably get bit again.

    He did not want to become a person who has only one ear. One ear really do not go well with four eye brows.

    The place turned out to be really quite elegant. The little river snaked through the landscape, the willow caged them in green. Espcially now, during dusk, when the green water of the river reflected the red glow of the sun onto people's faces, making them red like peach flowers. Beyond the willow trees were a couple of out houses. The wine tables were all placed outside on the sandy river bank with several bushes of cape jasmine planted nearby to further enhance the mood. Xue Bing suddenly discovered that this was not Lu Xiao Feng's first time here, he even knew where to go to relieve himself. Yet just a little while ago he pretended to have never even heard of this place.

    "This jerk seemed to have actually learned how to act stupid now. Now what I'm suppose to do? This could be trouble." Xue Bing sighed. She decided that he was just like a fish, almost impossible to catch. It was probably best to try and figure out a couple of new and better ideas to use against him.

    The waiter had walked up. He was a normal rural guy with vertical eye brows, horizontal eyes, and thick limbs.

    "First give us 500 grams of Bamboo Green with 4 dishes of cold dishes, 4 more dishes of hot stir-fry. Then go to the back and kill an old hen for a soup." Actually she did not eat that much at all, but she liked to watch - quite a number of people liked to look at all the food laid out in front of them when they drink, Miss Xue was one of them.

    "That much food for two people? Are you trying to stuff yourself to death?" The waiter shot a look at her and coldly said. Xue Bing was shocked, she certainly had never met a waiter like this before. The waiter snickered and continued on his rant. "A woman who eats too much would never get married, if you want to marry that little mustache over there, then it's best to not eat much. Or else he wouldn't be able to afford to feed you."

    "Who are you?" Xue Bing was even more shocked. "Do you recognize that little mustache over there?"

    That waiter's eyes rolled about for a while before he suddenly went down and whispered something in her ear. Xue Bing's eyes got bigger and bigger the more she listened to him until, finally, she could not control herself and let out a little laugh. Grabbing the waiter's arm, she whispered something back to him. The two of them looked quite friendly from the look of it. There were other costumers here besides her, and by now all of them were staring at her so much that their eyes were about to pop out of their sockets.

    A shy, well mannered, elegant, and refined beauty like her would actually act so intimate with this farmer looking waiter? Xue Bing did not seem to care how weird everyone else found this to be, the waiter seemed to care even less. Finally, after having cleared out the commodities in his belly, Lu Xiao Feng returned, seemingly very unhappy.

    "We are about to drink, why aren't you happy?" Xue Bing's eyes were vibrant with activity. Lu Xiao Feng responded with a cold snicker and a straight face.

    "When did you learn to get so friendly with men in public?" He had to ask.

    "Men?" Xue Bing blinked. "What men?"

    "That waiter just then was a man was he not?" Lu Xiao Feng kept a straight face. No man would be happy to see the girl that he was accompanying getting friendly with another man.

    "You really are an idiot aren't you?" Xue Bing laughed and whispered to him. "I act a little friendlier toward him now, and later on when he gives us the bill, it'll be a little bit cheaper. You understand that logic don't you?"

    But Lu Xiao Feng did not understand, Xue Bing was not this type of a girl.

    By now that waiter had returned with cups and chop sticks.

    "Bang!" He roughly placed the cups onto the table and shot a bitter look at Lu Xiao Feng.

    "Such a pretty flower, why is it wasted on this pile of bullshit?" He mumbled to himself. This time even Lu Xiao Feng was rendered speechless. Just what was this waiter on? Xue Bing was covering her mouth so as to not laugh out loud.

    Lu Xiao Feng watched that waiter walk off and suddenly laughed as well. He was just about to say something when he suddenly noticed a man walking drunkenly over, barely able to keep from falling over. He had a wine cup in one hand and patted Lu Xiao Feng on his shoulder with the other.

    "I recognize you, we have met before." He said with a silly smile on his face.

    All Lu Xiao Feng could do was smile along. He did actually meet this man, met him at somebody's banquet on some particular occasion. He still remembered that his name was Sun Zhong, heard he was pretty famous in the pugilistic world too. That time, like this time, he was intoxicated to the point that his tongue was swollen.

    Lu Xiao Feng had two principles. He does not go and bother sober people when he is drunk, and when he is sober he does not go and bother drunk people.

    But Sun Zhong wanted to bother him, so much so that he actually sat down.

    "I still even remember this mustache of yours, but I don't remember your name."

    It was probably for the best that he did not remember. But Lu Xiao Feng did not tell him that, of course.

    Sun Zhong suddenly turned his head and stared at Xue Bing.

    "This little lady that you have with you is quite something else you know, just like a narcissus flower, if you squeeze it water would come out." So it turned out that he came for Xue Bing. When he saw how friendly Xue Bing was with that waiter, he could not help but be tempted as well. Xue Bing blushed and bowed her head, seemingly too shy to even lift her eye lids.

    "My friend, you seem to drunk, why don't you get some rest?" Lu Xiao Feng sighed. He really did not want any trouble, for himself or Sun Zhong. Nobody has ever troubled "Cold Ruskha" and came out better for the wear. But it seemed as if Sun Zhong did not even hear him and continued to stare at Xue Bing. Suddenly he forcefully patted Lu Xiao Feng on his shoulder again.

    "My friend, I gotta give it to you. If you let me have this girl for today, then you could always come to me if you ever get in trouble in the martial world."

    Lu Xiao Feng, incredibly, was able to keep his cool.

    "I won't run into any problems," He replied matter of factly. "But it looks like you are about to have some, my advice to you is...."

    "I'm giving you face by asking you!" Sun Zhong did not even let him finish before shouting back in his face. "Are you going to yield?"

    "Why don't you ask her yourself?" Lu Xiao Feng gave up and sighed.

    "I don't need to ask, I know she likes me." Sun Zhong laughed loudly. "What do you have that I'm not better at?"

    Xue Bing's face turned even redder, her face bowed even lower, looking ever more beautiful and innocent.

    "Little miss, how about you and I have a little drink over there?" Sun Zhong was practically drooling. Blushing, all Xue Bing could do was shook her head.

    "Well you have to whether you want to or not!" Sun Zhong actually reached out and took Xue Bing's hand in his own.

    "Can you let go of my hand?" Xue Bing lowered her head even more and quietly asked.

    "No!" Sun Zong laughed and replied.

    "You absolutely won't?" Xue Bing asked, her face suddenly turning pale.

    "Even if you cut my hand off, I won't let go!"

    "Good!" She suddenly grabbed the sabre attached to Sun Zhong's waist. As soon as he saw her face turn pale, Lu Xiao Feng knew something was not right. He was just about to say something, but by that time the sabre had already been unsheathed. With a sabre flying through his view, Sun Zhong seemed to sober up a bit as well as he tried to snatch the sabre back. With a flash, his hand had been cut off and flopped onto the ground, dripped with blood.

    His pupil suddenly dialated and his eyes bulged out as he stared at his own cut off hand and looked back up at Xue Bing, seemingly not able to believe what had just taken place. And at the moment when he finally began to believe it, he collapsed onto the ground accompanied by a blood curdling scream. An intoxicated man always reacted a bit slower. Only now were his friends, who had been happily crousing on the other side of the place, charging furiously over.

    "Why did you cut off his hand?" Lu Xiao Feng frowned, purposefully not paying any attention to the men charging at him.

    "He told me to!" Xue Bing answered with an angry face.

    "But he's drunk!"

    "But he's still a person."

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly snatched the sabre from out of her hand and, gently putting the blade between two of his fingers, lightly flicked.

    "Beng!" The steel sabre snapped in two. He followed it up by doing it again.

    Using only those two fingers and a couple of light flicks, a sabre that had been made from steel that had been smelt and refined 100 times over was reduced to 10 small pieces.

    "Weird, how could trash like this cut off someone's hand?" He frowned. Those men who were charging at him had collectively came to stop, utterly shocked and not quite believing at the display that they just saw.

    "Friend, what's your name?" One of them finally asked.

    "My surname is Lu!"

    "Lu as in road?"

    "Lu as in Lu Xiao Feng!"

    "You... you are Lu Xiao Feng?" The dumbfounded faces had been replaced by sickly green faces. Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

    Nobody spoke another word as they picked up their man on the ground, turned around, and began to file out.

    "Not recognizing Lu Xiao Feng, you deserve to have both of your hand cut off!"

    "So it seems like the words Lu Xiao Feng could fend off evil as well, who knew?" Xue Bing sweetly laughed.

    "I knew you were trouble all along," Lu Xiao Feng was exasperated and sighed. "I shouldn't have brought you along!"

    "Was that his fault or mine?"

    "But you shouldn't have cut his hand off."

    "He told me to!"

    "He was drunk!"

    "And does being drunk give him the right to bully others around?"

    "Drunk people are still people," The waiter just happened to be coming with the food and wine and commented. "This kind of people deserves to be cut at least 180 times."

    "That's right, at least you are reasonable!" Xue Bing sweetly replied.

    "Hmph!" The waiter, once again, roughly placed the tray carrying the food and wine onto the table and walked off, not even looking in Lu Xiao Feng's direction at all.

    "And a person like you deserves to be cut at least 360 times." Lu Xiao Feng coldly declared. His face darkened as he suddenly attacked. He picked up a section of the blade with two of his fingers and sent it howling towards the back of the waiter. The waiter did not even turn around but instead took off, as if he had suddenly grew a pair of wings. How could a waiter at a wine place like this have such great martial arts ability?

    "I knew you didn't look like a good guy, turns out you are a flying criminal!" Lu Xiao Feng snickered. He flicked his hand and another section of the blade flew like lightning towards the waiter's waist. The waiter was in midair with nothing around him to avoid or deflect the attack. Lu Xiao Feng's attack was truly too fast, it looked as if there was no way he could get out of the way.

    "Are you really going to kill him?" Xue Bing asked despite of herself.

    "Don't worry, he won't die." Lu Xiao Feng coldly replied. Before he even finished that reply, the waiter had already somersaulted three times in midair, caught the section of the sabre, and gently floated back down onto the ground.

    Xue Bing stared at him, then stared at Lu Xiao Feng, and then burst out with a bright smile.

    "So you already knew who he is!"

    "I only know he's criminal!" Lu Xiao Feng put up a serious face.

    "If I'm criminal, then what are you?" The waiter suddenly laughed.

    "A particular criminal's daddy!"

    This waiter did not even go and bring any more dishes, but instead sat down.

    "Shame that you are not law breaking material, the most you could do was dig up a couple of earth worms!"

    "Digging worms?" Xue Bing blinked.

    "Oh you didn't know?" The waiter laughed. "He's not very good at other things, but is an expert at earth worm excavation. In 10 days he actually dug up 680 worms for me!"

    "What did you need all those worms for?" Xue Bing could not help but wonder.

    "I did not need one single worm, I just liked watching him dig for worms." Xue Bing laughed.

    "Have you seen him dig for worms?"

    "No!"

    "Oh had I known that earlier I would have invited you to have a look as well." The waiter sighed. "When he dig for worms, that pose and style is just too perfect. Graceful and elegant you know, puts even the best opera singers to shame. It's really quite a shame you missed out on it."

    "No worries, there's always next time." Xue Bing managed to stop laughing long enough to reply.

    "There's a next time?" The waiter wondered.

    "Of course!" Xue Bing answered with a straight face. "Earth worm excavation is like drinking wine: addictive! Once a person dig worms once, you can't stop him from digging more even if you want to!"

    "The next time I dig up some worms, I'll be sure to stuff all of them in your mouth!" Lu Xiao Feng coldly interrupted.

    That waiter that was on something was, of course, none other than Si Kong Zhai Xin.

    The other customers had long been frightened away. So the three of them actually ended up with quite a peaceful little place for chat. The only one who was suffering was the boss that ran this little wine shop.

    "You were having such a good time being a thief, why are you changing into the wine selling line of work?" Xue Bing inquired while pouring a cup of wine for Si Kong Zhai Xin.

    "Because he'a addicted too!" Lu Xiao Feng answered instead. He still had not forgotten the last time when Si Kong Zhai Xin disguised himself as Pot Face Zhao. That kind of thing was not something that one forgets.

    "Last time I fooled you, but doesn't seem like I did this time." Si Kong Zhai Xin laughed.

    "Doesn't seem like you were really trying to fool me this time either." Lu Xiao Feng stared directly into Si Kong Zhai Xin's eyes. No waiter in the world could have such a huge attitude problem. If he was not purposefully trying to get Lu Xiao Feng's attention, then why would he act like that?

    "Ever since last time when you charged into a raging inferno to save Pot Face Zhao, I suddenly discovered that you are quite a nice friend to have!" Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly sighed.

    "But yet you still made me go and dig worms for you."

    "What are you? Afraid that others don't know about that?" Si Kong Zhai Xin laughed again. "Everywhere you go, everyone you meet, you have to bring that up!"

    "So you have already met Hua Man Lou and Jin Jiu Ling?" Lu Xiao Feng's eyes lit up.

    "Mm!"

    "And they told you that I would was going to look for Xue Bing?"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin nodded.

    "So you figured that we must past through this place and stop here for a drink?"

    "So I waited here!"

    "Waited here just to drink some wine?"

    "You know that's not it, and I don't want to lie to you!" Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly sighed.

    "I only know that we are friends."

    "Weird thing is, there just happen to be alot of people who want me to steal something of yours!" Si Kong Zhai Xin sighed.

    "What is it now?"

    "Do you have a piece of red satin on you?"

    "You know I have it, and I don't want to lie to you." Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

    "And is there a black peony embroidered on that red piece of satin?"

    "Is this piece of cloth what you are here to steal?"

    "Correct."

    "You have already admitted we are friends, and yet you are still going to rob me?"

    "Because I have already promised someone!"

    "Why did you make that promise?"

    "I had to!"

    "Why?"

    "Because I owed this person a favor!"

    "Who is this person?"

    "You know I won't tell you, why ask?" Si Kong Zhai Xin let out a tired smile.

    "You seem to owe me a favor too." Lu Xiao Feng laughed. "Not only did I save you, I dug up 680 worms for you as well."

    "And that's why I'm being honest and telling you this right now!"

    "But even though you told me, you are still going to steal from me?"

    "A piece of red satin like that is not worth much of anything."

    "And you never steal anything that's worth anything anyways!"

    "Since you havea already seen it, you don't have much use for it anymore do you?"

    "Do you actually want me to just hand it over to you?"

    "That's exactly what I'm trying to say!"

    Lu Xiao Feng blinked.

    "Why don't we make a deal?"

    "What kind of deal?" Si Kong Zhai Xin asked.

    "As long as you tell me who asked you to steal it from me, I'll let you steal it!"

    "No can do on that deal!"

    "Well, if we can't make a deal, then all that's left to do is to bet." Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    "How do we bet?"

    "Do you know how many guest rooms there are in the back?"

    "Six."

    "I'll stay the night here tonight and wait for you to come and steal it from me!"

    "If you know I'm coming to steal it, how can I possibly succeed?" Si Kong Zhai Xin frowned.

    "You are the King of Thieves, remember?" Lu Xiao Feng laughed. "Never failed trying to steal anything. I'm sure you'll come up with something."

    "And what if I really do have a plan to steal it away?" Si Kong Zhai Xin's eyes suddenly began to glow.

    "The thing is with me right now, if you can steal it away, then I'll be perfectly willing to dig up another 680 worms for you!"

    "I can use whatever method I want?"

    "Of course. Whatever you want!"

    "Some methods I would rather not use on a friend!"

    "Well, for tonight only, you can stop considering me as your friend!"

    "Alright! The bet is one!" Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly picked up a cup and finished its contents in one gulp. "And if I lose, I'll be perfectly willing to dig up worms for you as well!"

    "I don't want you to dig worms!"

    "Do you still want me to kneel down and call you 'Uncle!' everytime I see you?"

    "This time, the ante is upped to 'Daddy!'" Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

    "Alright! It's a deal!"

    "And whoever backs out is a son of a turtle!"

    "Well, looks like no matter who wins, I'm in for a treat!" Xue Bing laughed and happily observed.

    "But it's not night yet." Si Kong Zhai Xin observed.

    "So we are still friends!"

    "So I'm going to invite you to a drink!"

    "I only hope that you didn't put any poison in the drinks." Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

    "And I only hope that you don't get me smashed!" Si Kong Zhai Xin smiled in return.
    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.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JigSta's Avatar
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    thanks for the translation Moinllieon. I must say I've always enjoyed the interplay between Lu Xiao Feng and he's close friends (especially Hua Man Lou) cant wait for more, keep up the awesome work.
    All that's needed to say have been said, why say anything more? The man is drunk, why stay any longer?....
    Quote Originally Posted by Question
    if CarMAN Lee hair is green, then am sure carMAN #$%@ a dog to give birth to you.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    don't want to look like too crazy a fan.

    But you are close to my idol.

    thanks Moin for good work.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  15. #15

    Default

    Chapter 3
    You Cheat I Lie

    Night. But night yet deep. Si Kong Zhai Xin was not smashed, and already left. Lu Xiao Feng, of course, was not poisoned, Si Kong Zhai Xin was not the type to put poison in wine. Besides, even if he did use poison, Lu Xiao Feng would not have drank it.

    But there were the hints of a smile on Xue Bing's face.

    "He lost for sure this time!" She suddenly sighed.

    "He lost for sure?"

    "The object is on you, and you know that he's coming to steal it. How could he steal it?"

    "He's the King of Thieves, and a King of Thieves would surely have all kinds of strange and bizarre ways to steal things!"

    "Are you really not sure that you'll be able to beat him?" Xue Bing asked.

    Lu Xiao Feng laughed a little and poured himself a drink. But he did not drink it, he only stared at it, as if fascinated by it.

    "What are you thinking about? The person that wanted him to steal it from you?" Xue Bing asked.

    Lu Xiao Feng did not deny this.

    "Could the person that wanted him to steal this be the same person that sewed it?" Xue Bing asked.

    "Very possible."

    "If I was you, I would rack my brain to try and come up with ways to make him tell you!"

    "You are not me!"

    "Good thing too," Xue Bing sweetly smiled. "I don't have all that worries and troubles that you have!"

    "And that's why are you very happy!"

    "Yes, very happy!"

    "Well, since you are happy, you are going to tell me right?" Lu Xiao Feng suddenly smiled.

    "Tell you what?" Xue Bing seemed to have forgotten about it again.

    "About red shoes, of course!"

    Xue Bing blinked a couple of times, and figured that she could not put off this anymore.

    "Do you know about Green Shirt Mansion?" She suddenly asked.

    Lu Xiao Feng nodded. Of course he knew.

    "Well Red Shoes is like Green Shirt Mansion, a very secretive organization. The only place where it's different from Green Shirt Mansion is that there are no men in the organization. So it's more vicious and more powerful than Green Shirt Mansion!"

    "Why?"

    "Because woman are more powerful than man to begin with." Xue Bing laughed and cleverly answered.

    "And?"

    "And nothing, that's it."

    "That's it?" Lu Xiao Feng almost jumped out of his skin. "What do you mean that's it?"

    "That's it means that's all I know." Xue Bing casually replied. "It means that even if you put a knife up to my neck, I can't tell you anymore."

    Lu Xiao Feng was speechless and just looked at her stupidly for a while.

    "Women are more powerful than men," he sighed, "they don't play fair!"

    "Since when have been playing unfair?" Xue Bing glared at him. "Did I not just tell you what all these people who wear red shoes are? Did I not also tell you that Red Shoes is a very secretive organization? Are you not satisfied?"

    "Turns out not only do they play unfair, they are self-righetous." Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled.

    "Well, you know that this big bearded embroider is actually a woman in disguise right?" Xue Bing seemed a bit embarrased about it as well and blinked a couple of times. "And you also know that she wears red shoes. You know quite a bit actually!"

    "And that's why I'm satisfied." Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "Very satisfied!"

    "Well, since you are satisfied, why don't you pour me a drink?" Xue Bing smiled.

    "Your face is redder than those red shoes that they wear," Lu Xiao Feng coldly replied. "And you still want more?"

    "I want to get drunk tonight anyways," Xue Bing bit her lip. "Besides, there's a bed here, if I get smashed I'll just go and lie on the bed."

    "Don't forget that I'm in this room as well!"

    "So what if you are in the room?" Xue Bing glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes. "Am I suppose to be scared of you?"

    "Are you actually trying to get drunk so you can summon up enough courage to seduce me?" Lu Xiao Feng glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes as well.

    Xue Bing blushed again, but this time she did not bow her head but instead stared straight into his eyes.

    "Do you actually not want me to seduce you?"

    "Have you been planning to seduce me from the beginning?"

    "Who do you think you are? Fan An? Song Yu?"

    {Note: Fan An and Song Yu are notorious lady's men and playboys in stories.}

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly stood up.

    "What do you think you are doing?" Xue Bing demanded.

    "I stood up, so it naturally follows that I'm going to leave!"

    "Do you really want to leave?"

    "Well since you aren't going to seduce me, then what's the point of my staying here?"

    "Pch!" Xue Bing let out a little laugh.

    "You are such a dummy. I'm not seducing you, but couldn't you seduce me?"

    "Too bad I'm not use to seducing others, it's always been others seducing me!"

    "Can't you make an exception for me?" Xue Bing said barely above an whisper. Her face became even redder, redder even than the peach flowers in Spring, red just like honey peaches. Lu Xiao Feng suddenly sighed and slowly sat back down.

    "What are you scared of?" Xue Bing looked at him and teased. "You haven't even began enticing me yet and you are already sweating up a storm!"

    "Because I feel very hot!"

    "I seem to be feeling pretty hot too!"

    "But you are snow and ice, how could you be feeling hot?" Lu Xiao Feng joked.

    {Note: Lu Xiao Feng makes a joke on Xue Bing's name here. "Xue" is a homophone of snow and "Bing" means ice in English.}

    "I'm confused as well, why do I feel hot?" She blinked a couple of times and suddenly clapped her hands in realization. "I got it!"

    "What do you get?"

    "Si Kong Zhai Xin might not have put poison into the win, but did put in a type of drug that heats us up to try and make you feel as if you are baking!"

    "And if we feel hot, then we would have to take our clothes off."

    "The object is on you, and if you take your cloth off, that would give him the chance that he needs!"

    "I'm just wondering how in the world could the King of Thieves use such an idiotic method!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    "It might be idiotic, but it's very effective!"

    "Too bad that the object was not on me at all," Lu Xiao Feng laughed and matter of factly said. "So he couldn't steal it away anyways!"

    "Did you already hide that thing somewhere else?" Xue Bing asked after being startled by the revelation.

    "Hid it at a place that he would never think of in a million years." Lu Xiao Feng laughed. "Even if he had 30 hands, all he could steal from me here is a couple piece of my crappy clothes."

    "You are so bad!" Xue Bing giggled.

    "Always been."

    There was a person perched at the top of the roof across the way. Of course, he was none other than Si Kong Zhai Xin. At this moment, he was cursing Lu Xiao Feng in his mind.

    "This little jerk really is a bastard!" He had amazingly forgotten that he himself was a bastard as well, someone who was not a bastard would never hide on roof tops and eavedrop on other people.

    "Where did this little bastard hide it?" Si Kong Zhai Xin began going over the places where Lu Xiao Feng went today. They had began drinking outside and, when it got to be about time, they moved inside. Other than these 2 places, Lu Xiao Feng only went to relieve himself once!

    "Could he have hid it in the out house?" That was a very good possibility, this Lu Xiao Feng bastard was capable of anything.

    "Or maybe he hid it in the wine jug, somewhere that he thinks I would never expect!"

    By now Lu Xiao Feng had already taken off his outer robe and casually laid it on the back of the chair by the window. The window was not closed. The thing would obviously not be in that robe, or else he would never be so careless with it!

    Lu Xiao Feng was not a careless person, and digging out 680 worms was not exactly fun either. Si Kong Zhai Xin had decided to leave. He was just about to stand up but he stopped and his eyes lit up. If Lu Xiao Feng had actually hid the thing inside the robe, then is it not a place that he would expect even less? Did he purposefully say those words for Si Kong Zhai Xin to hear?

    "This little bastard is a little fox!" Si Kong Zhai Xin laughed to himself. "But too bad that today you ran into an old fox!"

    His smile was making him look quite a bit like an old fox.

    The robe was just hanging there on the back of the chair, he could see it, but not touch it. So what was he to do? Of course this old fox had his ways. "King of Thieves" was not a title that he stole. Sounds of laughter emnated from within the room, what are they feeling so giddy about?

    "Are they laughing at an idiot outside tasting the wind, watching them drink wine?"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin suddenly jumped off of the roof, pushed open the door, and walked in. Xue Bing's eyes were about to pop out of their sockets as she looked at him in surprise, as if she could not even imagine in her dreams that this person would suddenly appear. Lu Xiao Feng would not be able to either.

    But Si Kong Zhai Xin just ignored them, sat down, and helped himself to a cup of wine.

    "Well, drinking wine definitely feels better than tasting the wind." He mumbled to himself.

    "Who made you go out into the wind?" Xue Bing smiled.

    "Myself!"

    "Are you a big idiot just like him?" Xue Bing blinked and laughed.

    "Even if I'm not an idiot, I'm at least an air head."

    "You admit that you are an air head?" Xue Bing trying to contain her laughter.

    "Well if I'm not an air head, then why would I get into this bet with him?" Si Kong Zhai Xin sighed.

    "You don't think it's worth it?"

    Si Kong Zhai Xin nodded.

    "And that's why the bet is off!"

    "The bet is off?" Lu Xiao Feng almost screamed. "What do you mean the bet is off?"

    "The bet is off means that the bet is off!"

    "But we had an agreement!"

    "Lots of agreement are went back upon later. And alot of spoken words could be treated like farts!"

    "I don't get it," Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled after staring at him dumbfounded for a while. "Why are you suddenly calling the bet off?"

    "You don't think I know what kind of shit you are trying to pull?" Si Kong Zhai Xin sneered.

    "What kind of shit am I trying to pull?"

    "You are going to let me steal the thing and then follow me to see how I give this thing to." Si Kong Zhai Xin sneered. "That way, even though I win, I still come out on the short end!"

    "How did you come up with that notion?" Lu Xiao Feng looked like an innocent kid. "I don't get it."

    "You get it, you get it better than anyone!"

    "Why would I let you win on purpose?" Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "Do you actually think that I like digging for worms?"

    "Because you really want to find out who want me to steal the thing off of you. And to do that, this is the only way. To get what you want, you'll resort to anything!"

    "Do you really think I'm that kind of a person?" Lu Xiao Feng meekly smiled.

    "I don't care what kind of person you are, I'm not going through with this bet with you anymore. Because I have made up my mind that I'm not going to fall for your ploy!" He poured another cup and downed it in one gulp. Afterwards, he reared back and loudly laughed 3 times. "Excellent wine! Taste much better than wind!"

    He was not even finished speaking those words by the time he made his way out of the door.

    Lu Xiao Feng watched him leave, and sat dumbfounded for a while before suddenly breaking out into a smile.

    "This guy really is an old fox!"

    "Were you really going to let him win?" Xue Bing had to ask.

    "The old fox was right, this really is the only way that I can find out who gave him this job!" Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

    "And all those things you said earlier was to precisely tell him where the thing is?"

    "Exactamundo!"

    "But I still can't figure out exactly where you hid it!" Xue Bing sighed.

    "The thing was hid in my clothes!"

    "In this robe on the chair?" Xue Bing was quite taken aback.

    "Had been all along!"

    "But you just said earlier...."

    "I said that because I know that sooner or later he would figure out that I was hoping to distract his attention!"

    "I still don't get it."

    "I purposefully just casually laid my robe there, of course others won't suspect that the thing was in there. But he's not just anybody, he's the 'King of Thieves'!"

    "So you figured that he sooner or later he would figure out that the thing was in there!"

    "I put it there for him to steal to begin with!"

    "So it turns out that you had a trick inside of another trick." Xue Bing finally understood. "After all of that, you were still trying to let him steal it!"

    "Yes, I wanted him to steal it, but I can't make it too easy for him because I can't allow him to get suspicious!"

    "But he still got suspicious and did not fall for it!"

    "That's why I say he's really truly an old fox," Lu Xiao Feng sighed. "Too bad though...."

    "What's too bad?"

    Lu Xiao Feng suddenly let out a little laugh.

    "Too bad he still fell for it in the end!"

    Xue Bing was taken aback for a moment before smiling meekly.

    "I don't get it again."

    "He still stole the thing!"

    "When did he steal it?"

    "Just now!"

    Xue Bing could not help but to take that robe in her hand and shook it a bit. A piece of red satin fell from within its folds, on it was sewn a black peony.

    "Isn't it still here?"

    "But this piece of satin is not the original one anymore!"

    "You are telling me that he switched this piece of satin with that piece of yours?"

    "Look at it carefully, isn't there some differences between the 2?"

    The differences were not obvious, but they were still there.

    "He probably already found out from Jin Jiu Ling what the piece of satin and the embroidery looked like, then he found someone to make sew one just like it to switch it with me!"

    "He was so quick, no wonder he's the 'King of Thieves'!" Xue Bing sighed. "I was watching him the entire time just now and did not see how he did it."

    "He probably thinks I didn't see it either." Lu Xiao Feng smiled. "He probably figures that I still don't know!"

    "You have already inspected this satin countless number of time. And now since it hasn't been stolen, you would surely hide it somewhere. Either way, you definitely would not be taking it out any time soon!"

    "That's why he figures that I would not realize that this was a fake any time soon!"

    "And now, since he's gotten what he wanted, he would surely try and give it to his benefactor!"

    "He has to finish his job, after all!"

    "Then why aren't you following him right now?"

    "Because I know that there's no way he'll leave right now!"

    "Why not?"

    "Because he's afraid that I might get suspicious as well!"

    Xue Bing thought about it for a bit.

    "It's not like you are going to find out about the switch any time soon, so he might as well take this opportunity and relax some!"

    "The more relaxed he is, the less likely I'm going to get suspicous!"

    "And once we leave tomorrow morning, he could actually send us out on our way and then gingerly go back and finish his job!"

    "Looks like if you hang around us anymore, you'll end up being a little fox as well!" Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

    Xue Bing's eyes rolled around for a bit and an expression that was sort of a smile but not really a smile appeared on her face.

    "So what do you want to do now?" She asked him in a voice barely above whisper.

    "Well, naturally, I'm going to keep him company!" Lu Xiao Feng purposefully ignored her expression.

    "You are going to leave me here to keep him company!" Xue Bing looked as if she was about to jump up once again.

    "He won't try to seduce me, I won't try to seduce him either." Lu Xiao Feng matter of factly replied. "I'm much safer in his company!"

    Xue Bing bit her lip and bitterly glared at him. Suddenly, she broke out in a teasing smile.

    "At last, I figured out what you are!"

    "Oh? What am I?"

    "You are a dog!"

    "How am I a dog?" Lu Xiao Feng asked with an incredulous smile.

    "If Si Kong Zhai Xin is an old fox, then doesn't that make you a fox-biting dog?" Xue Bing teased.
    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.

  16. #16

    Default

    Just a side note, if you thought these two guys are playing mind games now... hehe, the rest of the chapter will shocked you.
    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.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    so did GL say anything about the fate of Green Shirt Mansion? or would it come up later?

    Green shirt
    Red shoes
    next could be Yellow Socks.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  18. #18

    Default

    Originally posted by Goofy
    so did GL say anything about the fate of Green Shirt Mansion? or would it come up later?
    Actually he doesn't much need to. The organization lost its leader, its headquarters, and its financial backing. There's not much to speak of about it.


    Green shirt
    Red shoes
    next could be Yellow Socks.


    Not telling....
    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.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Cool

    or Black Cape
    White Underclothes?
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  20. #20
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default

    Originally posted by Goofy
    or Black Cape
    White Underclothes?
    If I remember correctly, there is a _______ ______ organisation (involving the Honest Monk i think). You'll have to wait Goofy!
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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