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Thread: Dagger Lee unabridged

  1. #41
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 39: Ah Fei

    The moon is still in the sky.

    The waterfall under the moonlight look like sparkling strips of silver.

    Li XunHuan followed the water, walking slowly. He doesn’t want to reach Ah Fei’s home before morning, as to not disturb his sleep.

    He never liked to disturb people.

    But no matter who disturbed him, no matter the time, he wouldn’t care.

    That old lady could not have been Lin XianEr in disguise.

    So where is Lin XianEr?

    Li XunHuan rubbed his eyes, “Was I delusional?”

    The sun finally rose, the autumn almost gone, the plum flowers beginning to blossom.

    Li XunHuan smelled a faint fragrance, looked up, and saw a plum forest.

    Deep inside the forest is a wooden house.

    Li XunHuan stared at the forest like an idiot.

    By the plum forest is the source of the spring water for the river.

    The water flowed down from the mountain, by the forest. The scenery looked like it should be a painting.

    In the painting is a person.

    Li XunHuan couldn’t see this person’s face, only that he dressed very neatly, wearing a new, green robe, and combed his hair nicely.

    He carried a water bucket across the forest, into the wooden house.

    This person’s build is similar to Ah Fei’s, but Li XunHuan was certain that he’s not Ah Fei.

    So who is he?

    Li XunHuan can’t think of anyone like this who would live with Ah Fei.

    He rushed over to the house.

    The door is open, and there’s nothing luxurious inside, but everything is sparkly clean.

    There’s an old-fashioned square table made for eight people. That youngster with the new robe took out a towel from the bucket, and began to scrub the table.

    He scrubbed even more slowly, more carefully, than Hunchback Sun, as if there can’t be a tiny speck of dirt left.

    Li XunHuan walked up from behind, and found this person’s back look like Ah Fei’s.

    But he can’t possibly be Ah Fei.

    Li XunHuan can’t even picture Ah Fei cleaning tables, but he wanted to ask this person for Ah Fei’s location.

    Li XunHuan coughed lightly, hoping this person would turn around and notice to him.

    This person does not have fast reflexes, but he did eventually turn around.

    Li XunHuan stood there in shock.

    The person who cannot possibly be Ah Fei… is Ah Fei.

    Ah Fei’s face did not change. His eyes are still big, his nose still straight. He still looks handsome, even more handsome than he used to be.

    But his expression changed, changed a great deal.

    He had lost his past magnetism, the pride, and the loneliness. He now looked very gentle, almost like a stiff.

    He might look much better now, cleaner now, but he had lost his charisma.

    Is this really Ah Fei?

    Li XunHuan can’t accept it, can’t accept this neatly dressed youngster with a towel is the Ah Fei he used to know!

    Ah Fei also saw Li XunHuan.

    He didn’t seem to expect Li XunHuan, and his face straightened. Gradually, he began to smile… thankfully, his smile has not changed.

    Li XunHuan also smiled.

    Although he smiled on the surface, his heart sank.

    They simply stared at each other, both smiling. Neither person moved, nor spoke, but their eyes became moist, became red… After a while, Ah Fei finally said, “It’s you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “It’s me.”

    Ah Fei said, “You finally came.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I finally came.”

    Ah Fei said, “I knew you’d come.”

    They spoke slowly, in coarse voices. When they talked to here, both closed their mouths again.

    But just at this moment, Ah Fei rushed out from the house, and Li XunHuan rushed in. The two people met at the door, almost colliding with each other, and shook hands.

    They almost stopped breathing. After a while, Li XunHuan finally said, “How have you been these past two years?”

    Ah Fei slowly nodded his head, and said, “I… I’ve been great. How about you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Me? Still the same.”

    He picked up that bottle of wine, and said with a smile, “Look, I’m still drinking. Even my coughing problem seemed to have been washed away by my drinking. You…”

    Before he could continue, Li XunHuan began to cough again.

    Ah Fei looked at him quietly, a tiny bit of tears came out of his eyes.

    Suddenly they heard someone say, “Hey, why haven’t you offered a seat to brother Li yet? It’s rude to keep the guest at the door, you know.”

    Lin XianEr finally appeared.

    She hasn’t changed at all.

    She’s still that young, that beautiful. Her smile is still that alluring, that adorable. Her eyes still shine as brightly as the stars in the sky.

    She just stood there, looking warmly at Li XunHuan, and spoke in a gentle manner, “It’s been two years. How come you haven’t come earlier? Have you forgotten about us already?”

    Anyone who heard this sentence would’ve thought that Li XunHuan had long known about this place, that he simply haven’t had the time to visit them yet.

    Li XunHuan smiled, and said, “How can I come when you haven’t a carriage to take me here?”

    Lin XianEr blinked her eyes, and said, “Now that you’ve brought up carriages, I really would like to ride one someday, just to see how it feels.”

    Li XunHuan’s eyes brightened, and asked, “You’ve never ridden in a carriage before?”

    Lin XianEr lowered her head, and whispered, “How could a person like myself afford that type of luxury?”

    Li XunHuan said, “But I saw someone riding in a carriage last night. She looked just like you.”

    His eyes stared intently at Lin XianEr.

    But Lin XianEr did not show any signs of panic. She simply smiled, “Then that means I must’ve been sleepwalking… right?”

    That question was directed at Ah Fei.

    Ah Fei immediately said, “She always goes to sleep very early at night. She never leaves the house after dark.”

    Li XunHuan found his heart tying another knot.

    He knows that Ah Fei would never lie to him, but if Lin XianEr was at home, then who was that woman in the carriage?

    Lin XianEr went over to Ah Fei’s side, and straightened his robe. With infinite warmness she said softly, “Did you sleep well last night?”

    Ah Fei nodded.

    Lin XianEr said, “Why don’t you take brother Li for a walk, while I make some dishes.”

    She looked at Li XunHuan and said, “The plum flowers are blooming. I know plum is brother Li’s favorite type of flower, right?”

    Ah Fei’s walk has changed too.

    Before, he always stood straight, and his muscles were relaxed.

    Other people found walking to be a chore, but for him, it was rest.

    Now his body is no longer that straight, his thoughts seemingly on something else, making him nervous.

    So his muscles were obviously not relaxed.

    After walking for a long time, Li XunHuan still remained silent.

    He really doesn’t know what to say.

    He wanted to ask Ah Fei, “Why did you come here? Has Lin XianEr changed her from ways? What happened to her treasures?”

    But he did not ask any of those questions.

    He wanted to avoid bringing up Ah Fei’s past.

    After a long time, Ah Fei finally spoke, “I’m really sorry.”

    Li XunHuan sighed and said, “You pretended to the Plum Flower Bandit just to save me. You were willing to sacrifice your life for me. Why is there a need to apologize?”

    Ah Fei didn’t seem to hear these words. He continued, “I should’ve at least said goodbye when I left.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I know you had your reasons. I don’t blame you.”

    Ah Fei said, “I know I made a mistake, but I just couldn’t kill her. I… I can’t leave her.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Love is human nature. There’s nothing wrong with it. Why do you blame yourself for falling in love?”

    Ah Fei said, “But… but…”

    He suddenly became very emotional, yelling, “But I felt that I’ve wronged you, as well as all other victims of the Plum Flower Bandit.”

    Li XunHuan paused for a second, and then asked inquisitively, “But she has reformed, right?”

    Ah Fei said, “Before we left, she gave back all the stolen goods to their rightful owners.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Then what’s wrong? Everyone deserves a second chance.”

    He doesn’t want to keep talking about this so he changed the subject, “Look, the plum flowers have blossomed.”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Do you know how many are on that tree?”

    Ah Fei said, “Seventeen.”

    Li XunHuan’s heart sank, as did his face.

    Because he had also counted plum flowers before.

    Only a very lonely person would count plum flowers.

    Ah Fei raised his head and said, “Look, another one’s blossoming, but why do they bloom so early? The earlier they bloom, the earlier they wither.”

    The wooden house has five rooms, a living room, a storage room, a kitchen, and two rooms with beds.

    The bigger bedroom is delicately furnished, including a large makeup counter.

    Ah Fei said, “Lin XianEr sleeps here.”

    The smaller one is also very clean, but very simple.

    Ah Fei said, “This is my room.”

    Li XunHuan disheartened.

    Now he realized that Ah Fei and Lin XianEr had been sleeping in separate rooms for the pas two years. And Ah Fei’s still a young man.

    He was quite shocked, but also found himself admiring Ah Fei.

    Ah Fei smiled, and said, “You must find it strange that I’ve been sleeping a lot the past two years.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Ah Fei said, “I always go to sleep before dark, and then sleep soundly until the next morning. I never wake up at night.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “When your life becomes orderly, it’s quite natural to sleep well.”

    End of Chapter 39

  2. #42
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 40 Infidelity

    Ah Fei said, “I’ve been living quite peacefully these past two years… I’ve never been so peaceful before. She… she’s very nice to me.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “I’m happy to hear you say this. I’m very happy…”

    He doesn’t want Ah Fei to realize that his smile was quite unnatural, so he turned his head away while he spoke. After looking around, he asked, “Where’s your sword?”

    Ah Fei said, “I no longer use the sword.”

    Li XunHuan became really shocked, and asked, “Why?”

    Ah Fei said, “Sword is a weapon, and will bring back memories of the old days.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “Did she persuade you to do this?”

    Ah Fei said, “She’s also willing to leave everything behind, so we can start fresh together.”

    Li XunHuan nodded, and said, “Great. Great. Great…”

    He wanted to say more, but Lin XianEr cut him off, yelling from inside the house, “Lunch is ready. Why don’t you come back in to eat?”

    There aren’t many dishes, but they’re all exquisite.

    He couldn’t believe Lin XianEr could make such great dishes.

    Other than dishes, there is also a wine bottle, but inside the bottle is tea.

    Lin XianEr said, “In such a rural place, we don’t have wine. So we can only serve you tea instead.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “But thankfully, I brought my own wine…”

    He looked around, before he finally found that wine he brought. He first poured some in his cup, and then said to Ah Fei, “Here, I’ll pour you some.”

    Ah Fei did not respond.

    Ah Fei then suddenly said, “I quit drinking.”

    Li XunHuan was shocked yet again, and asked, “Quit? Why?”

    Ah Fei’s face was expressionless.

    Lin XianEr said, “Alcohol is bad for the body. Don’t you think so, brother Li?”

    Li XunHuan thought for a while before smiling, “That’s right. If you keep drinking, you’ll end up like me. If I could turn back time ten or twenty years, I’d probably quit drinking too.”

    Ah Fei lowered his head, and began to eat.

    He wasn’t focused on eating, because when he picked up a meatball, he dropped it on the table.

    Lin XianEr said to him, “Look at you, still like a little kid. So careless.”

    Ah Fei slowly picked up that meatball.

    Lin XianEr said to Ah Fei, “How can you still eat something that’s now on the table?”

    She picked up a meatball from the plate and put it in Ah Fei’s mouth.

    The dinner was even better than lunch. After that, it became dark.

    Li XunHuan slept in Ah Fei’s room, while Ah Fei slept in the living room.

    Lin XianEr personally gave Ah Fei some new, clean bed sheets, then put some clean clothing on Ah Fei’s bed.

    “I like for my Little Fei to change clothes everyday.”

    Before going to bed, she went to get some water, and watched Ah Fei clean his face. Afterwards, she took the towel and cleaned Ah Fei’s ears.

    When Ah Fei lied down to sleep, she made sure he’s covered tightly.

    “Today’s a bit cold, so make sure you don’t catch a cold.”

    She attended to Ah Fei in every single way imaginable. Even the best mothers might not be this considerate to her son.

    Ah Fei should be incredibly happy.

    But for some reason, Li XunHuan doesn’t know whether Ah Fei’s happy or miserable.

    He also doesn’t know if this whole thing is funny, or sad.

    Ah Fei really did fall asleep quickly.

    But Li XunHuan couldn’t sleep. He hasn’t gone to bed this early since three. He couldn’t sleep this early even if his life depended on it.

    Lin XianEr’s room is also quiet, as if she’s also asleep.

    Li XunHuan put on his robe and left the room.

    He wanted to chat with Ah Fei.

    But Ah Fei slept way too soundly. He can’t wake Ah Fei up even by pushing him.

    Even a pig can’t sleep this soundly, much less the vigilant Ah Fei.

    Li XunHuan stood by Ah Fei’s bed, and remembered something.

    “She goes to sleep early every night… she never leaves the house after dark.”

    “Everyday I sleep right after dark, and won’t wake up until the next morning.”

    Li XunHuan remembered that they had pork-rib soup tonight. It was very tasty, and Ah Fei had a lot of it. Lin XianEr also tried to persuade Li XunHuan to have a lot of the soup.

    Fortunately, there are bamboo shoots in the soup. Li XunHuan never eats bamboo shoots. But he’s also not someone who refuses other’s kindness.

    So although he didn’t reject Lin XianEr, he did give the soup to Ah Fei while Lin XianEr went into the kitchen to check on food.

    He remembered that when Lin XianEr came back, she smiled at Li XunHuan’s empty bowl.

    What kind of sleeping powder was in the soup?

    Obviously, Ah Fei slept soundly at night because of this sleeping powder.

    So he can’t possibly know what Lin XianEr do at night.

    But why doesn’t Lin XianEr simply put some poison in the bowl?

    Obviously because Ah Fei’s still useful to her.

    Li XunHuan became extremely angry. He turned around and knocked loudly on Lin XianEr’s door.

    There was no response.

    Li XunHuan had never kicked down someone’s door before.

    But today he made an exception.

    There was indeed no one in the room. So where did Lin XianEr went?

    Li XunHuan thought Lin XianEr must be at that other house.

    When he reached this house, he debated as to whether he should rush in or not.

    While he was thinking, the door opened.

    A person came out slowly, looking kind of like ShangGuan Fei, very happy, but a bit tired.

    The light inside the house shined on his face.

    Li XunHuan rarely gets shocked, but he felt another shock when he saw this person’s face.

    He never thought this person would be Guo SongYang!

    Only to see a hand inside held Guo SongYang’s hand.

    They seemingly were whispering goodbyes.

    After a while, Guo SongYang left.

    He left slowly, and kept looking back, as if he didn’t want to leave yet.

    The door is already closed.

    Does this door lead to Heaven, or Hell?

    Li XunHuan not only felt sad, but also angry. He’s sad because of Ah Fei, and also angry because of Ah Fei.

    He has never been so angry before in his life.

    He almost wanted to immediately appear and expose this whole sham, but he didn’t. Because Guo SongYang is his friend, and a true man.

    He doesn’t want to trouble Guo SongYang.

    Only to so see Guo SongYang stare into the sky, and sighed deeply.

    After walking a couple of more steps, he suddenly stopped, and yelled loudly, “Who’s hiding? Show yourself!”

    Guo SongYang really is a true elite martial artist. His alertness and reflexes are much better than ShangGuan Fei’s.

    No matter where he has been, he still keeps his mind clear, but even he couldn’t guess that the person in hiding was Li XunHuan.

    It’s not far from that house to the tavern at the bottom of the mountain. The two people did not speak much on the way, nor did they say anything they really wanted to.

    But some things must be said sooner or later.

    They sat on the roof of the tavern, and began to drink.

    Li XunHuan has drunk in a lot of places, but never on a roof. He found that this really is a great place to drink.

    Now, the jugs are only half full.

    Guo SongYang suddenly said, “You… you obviously know what I went to do in that house, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I know you’re a man.”

    Guo SongYang said, “You also must know who’s in that house, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Guo SongYang said, “I… don’t seek her often.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Guo SongYang said, “I only visit her when I’m unhappy.”

    Li XunHuan nodded.

    Guo SongYang said, “I know many women, but she’s the best.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Do you know what kind of a woman she is?”

    Guo SongYang took another sip and said, “I’ve known her for quite a while.”

    Li XunHuan said, “How does she treat you?”

    Guo SongYang said, “How does she treat me? Women like her treat every man the same. She only looks to see if that man is of value to her.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So you know she’s using you?”

    Guo SongYang said, “Of course. But I don’t mind, because I’m using her at the same time. So what if I have to pay a price for pleasure?”

    Li XunHuan said, “That is indeed quite fair. But… do you know that this might hurt someone else?”

    Guo SongYang asked, “Who?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Obviously the man who loves her.”

    Guo SongYang sighed, and said, “Sometimes I really don’t understand, why do women always hurt the one who loves them the most?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Probably because she can only hurt the man who loves her. If he didn’t love her, then he wouldn’t care no matter what she did.”

    Guo SongYang said with a smile, “You seem to know a lot about women.”

    Li XunHuan said, “No man really knows about women. If someone thinks that, than that person is bound to suffer more than others.

    Guo SongYang stayed silent for a long time before asking, “Ah Fei really loves her?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Guo SongYang said, “I know she’s Ah Fei’s friend, and that you are Ah Fei’s friend.”

    Li XunHuan did not respond.

    Guo SongYang said, “But I am not Ah Fei’s friend. I have never met him.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You don’t have to explain. This isn’t your fault.”

    Guo SongYang became silent again for a while, before asking, “Is Ah Fei still with her?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Li XunHuan sighed and added, “Although he loves her a lot more than you do, her relationship with him is actually less intimate than with you.”

    Guo SongYang said with surprise, “You mean they never…”

    Li XunHuan smiled bitterly, “She can do such a thing with any man, except for him.”

    Guo SongYang asked, “Why?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because he respects her, and never push her. She is a goddess to him. Lin XianEr obviously wishes to keep this image in his mind.”

    He added, “But women are born to be loved, not respected. If a man respects a woman who deserves no respect, than he will only receive pain and suffering.”

    Guo SongYang said, “So does this mean that Ah Fei has no idea what she’s doing?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Absolutely no idea.”

    Guo SongYang asked, “Why don’t you tell him?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Even if I tell him, he won’t believe me. When a man falls in love, his ears will become deaf, his eyes will become blind, and even a smart man would turn stupid.”

    Guo SongYang said, “You want me to tell him?”

    Li XunHuan said, “He’s a great youngster, and my friend. I don’t want him to throw away his life for a woman like her.”

    Guo SongYang did not respond.

    Li XunHuan said, “I have never asked anyone for a favor before, but this time…”

    Guo SongYang cut him off, and said, “But… will he believe me?”

    Li XunHuan said, “At least she can’t totally deny her relationship with you.”

    Guo SongYang stood up, and said, “Fine. I’ll go with you.”

    Li XunHuan shook his hands tightly, and said, “Thank you. I believe you will also become great friends with Ah Fei.”

    Guo SongYang said, “I only need one friend. I’m already very grateful to have a friend like you.”

    The wooden house is empty!

    Ah Fei’s bed last night is still in the living room. There are still leftover teas from last night. But the soup cauldron is now empty, and very clean.

    Lin XianEr’s room is still the same as last night, with wind blowing through the door Li XunHuan knocked down last night.

    End of Chapter 40

  3. #43
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 41: The Devilish Little Girl

    Ah Fei’s room looked just as it did last night, even that robe is still on his bed.

    But his person is gone, in a hurry too.

    Li XunHuan could not believe that Ah Fei would leave without saying goodbye to him. He coughed as he examined the surroundings.

    Guo SongYang held his hands behind his back, and looked at him quietly. He then said calmly, “You said that Ah Fei’s your friend.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Guo SongYang said, “But you don’t even know that he had already left.”

    Li XunHuan paused for a moment before forcing a smile. He said, “Perhaps he was in some sort of trouble. Perhaps…”

    Guo SongYang said, “Perhaps, he’s just very good at following the orders of a woman.”

    He didn’t give Li XunHuan a chance to respond, and followed up with another question, “Did he live here for a long time?’

    Li XunHuan said, “Almost two years.”

    Guo SongYang said, “But I have been meeting her in that small building for more than two years. This might be her old home.”

    Li XunHuan laughed bitterly, and said, “A devious person like her should have more than one hiding place.”

    Guo SongYang sighed, and said, “But unfortunately, I know of no other hiding place.”

    Li XunHuan did not respond. He simply walked into Lin XianEr’s room.

    In the room are a bed, a closet, and a table.

    There aren’t many clothes in the closet. The ones in there are rather plain. There’s a small makeup counter on the table, without any makeup powder on it.

    Obviously, she used the other house to dress herself up at night.

    Guo SongYang said, “When I came out, she was still in that other house. But she has certainly been here to take Ah Fei away, yet we saw no trail leading to this house on our way here.”

    Li XunHuan said solemnly, “That’s because she used another path.”

    Guo SongYang said, “Another path? But mountains surround this area. What other routes are there?”

    Li XunHuan suddenly flipped over the bed.

    There’s a secret path under the bed.

    Li XunHuan already knew where the path would lead.

    Guo SongYang asked, “Where do think this path lead to?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Under the bed in her other little building.”

    Guo SongYang said, “My thoughts exactly.”

    He snickered, “From one bed to the other. She really doesn’t waste any time.”

    Li XunHuan said casually, “She has a lot of appointments, so her time is obviously very precious.”

    Guo SongYang’s face changed… Although he had always known what she does, he still felt unsettled when it’s brought up.”

    Men always mock women for being petty, but men are usually just as petty, and probably a lot more selfish.

    Even if a man has thousands of women, he still wants every single one of them to just be with him. Even if he no longer loves a woman, he still wants that woman to be in love with him.

    The path can’t be too long.

    The exit is indeed the bed of that small building.

    This bed is much better than the one they crawled under; it’s very soft, furnished with very extravagant sheets and pillows.

    Obviously, Lin XianEr isn’t here, only that red-robed girl.

    She sat by the makeup counter, sewing a pillow with a picture of swans swimming on water.

    She did not look shocked upon seeing the two men coming out from under the bed.

    Looks like she knew they were going to appear.

    She looked at them out of the corner of her eyes, and said, “So you knew each other already.”

    Guo SongYang, with a stern look, said loudly, “Are the only person here?”

    The little girl said, “Why are you so mean to me? I made the bed and the sheets every time you came here. Did you forget those things?”

    Guo SongYang could not respond.

    She then switched her attention onto Li XunHuan, and said, “So you’re Li Tan Hua?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    The little girl said, “Everyone else say that Li XunHuan not only has incredible kung fu, he’s also very smart and very knowledgeable. I am quite shocked that even you can be fooled.”

    She then said sweetly, “I’m terribly sorry to have lied to you on your last visit.”

    Li XunHuan said, “No problem. It’s actually fun to be deceived by a kid once in a while. Since you fooled me last time, I felt a lot younger.”

    The little girl kept staring at him. From her look, she must be thinking that this man is quite interesting. Of course, it’s obviously rare for anyone meet someone like Li XunHuan.

    She said with a smile, “I think that you look quite young even if I hadn’t fooled you. If you get fooled a few more time, you’d probably turn into a kid.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But I must be more careful in the future. Otherwise, don’t you think a forty year old kid would be quite bizarre?”

    The little girl laughed, and said, “Don’t worry, I only lied to you last time because you were a stranger. My grandmother always told me to never tell the truth in front of a stranger, or I might get spirited away by them.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What about now?”

    The little girl said, “Now that I know you, I obviously won’t lie to you again.”

    Li XunHuan said, “In that case, let me ask you this. Have you seen anyone coming out of this bed recently?”

    The little girl said, “No.”

    She blinked her eyes, and added, “But I have seen someone passing by outside.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “Who?”

    The little girl said, “A man. I don’t know him.”

    She smiled brightly and added, “Other than you, I don’t know many man.”

    Li XunHuan pretended not have heard that last sentence, and asked, “What did he want?”

    The little girl said, “That man looked scary, with a thick beard and a large knife scar on his face. He asked as he came in, ‘Do you know Li XunHuan? Is he going to be here?”

    Li XunHuan said, “What did you say?”

    The little girl said, “Since I don’t know him, I simply lied. I said that I know you, and that you’ll be here soon.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “Then what did he say?”

    The little girl said, “Then he gave me a letter, asking me to give it to you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So you accepted the letter?”

    The little girl said, “Of course I did. Otherwise, wouldn’t it show that I was lying? This person was scary. If he knew that I had lied, he’d likely break my head.”

    She smiled, and added, “A little girl with her head broken would be in a lot pain, don’t you think?”

    Li XunHuan also smiled, and said, “A little boy with his head broken would also be in a lot pain.”

    This little girl has a special skill; she can make all her words sound like the truth.

    Anyone else would have asked her things like, “Where’s the man who delivered the letter? Why did he leave the letter here?”

    But Li XunHuan did not ask these questions.

    He also has a special skill. No matter what someone else says, he can always look as if he believes every single word. That’s why people always tend to think that they have fooled him.

    The little girl took out the letter, and it does indeed have his name written on the envelope. The letter is sealed, which meant that the girl did not know it’s content.

    The letter said, “I have always admired Mr. Li XunHuan. Let’s meet at the foot of this spring on the first day of the tenth month. Do not disappoint me.”

    The person who signed the letter was none other than ShangGuan JinHong!

    This letter is quite simple, and quite polite. But anyone who receives this letter would most likely start writing his will, or at least be scared to death.

    If ShangGuan JinHong challenged someone, then how long can that person live?

    Li XunHuan slowly put the letter back into the envelope, and put it in his robe.

    He’s still smiling.

    The little girl had been examining him this whole time. She couldn’t help asking, “What did the letter say?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Nothing important.”

    The little girl said, “Based on that big smile on your face, I bet it’s a woman who wrote you that letter.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You guessed right.”

    The little girl rolled her eyes, and said, “Does the letter say that she wants to meet you?’

    Li XunHuan said, “Right again.”

    The little girl smirked, “If I had known that a woman wrote it, I would have never told you about the letter.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But if you hadn’t given me the letter, she would be heartbroken.”

    The little girl glared at him, and asked, “What kind of a person is she? Is she beautiful?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course she is, or I’d have thrown this letter away. An ugly woman is even scarier than a stupid man.”

    The little girl said, “How old is she?”

    Li XunHuan said, “She’s not old.”

    The little girl forcibly stuck her sewing needle to the wooden edge of her embroidery hoop, and said angrily, “Since you have such a beautiful lady waiting to meet you, why aren’t you rushing out to meet her? Why are you still here?”

    Li XunHuan said, “You know, it’s not proper for the host to drive away the guests.”

    The little girl said coldly, “Even if I don’t ask you to go, you’d still leave.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What if I want to stay?”

    The little girl said, “If you want to stay, I’d obviously treat you as an honored guest.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    The little girl said, “Of course. I might not be very generous, but I’m not stingy either. If you stay for ten days, then I’ll take care of you for ten days. If you want to stay forever, I’ll… I’ll still let you.”

    As she spoke, her face became red.

    If a girl’s face could become red, it meant that she’s no longer little.

    Li XunHuan said, “Fine. Then I’ll stay…”

    Before he could finish, the little girl had already jumped up. She quickly asked, “You’re not lying?”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Of course I’m not lying. How could I leave when I have found such a good host like you?”

    The little girl said with a bright smile, “I know you like to drink. I’ll get you some wine. There might not be much of anything else here, but there are wines, enough to drown you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Other than wine, I’d also like some pieces of wood, the harder, the better.

    The little girl asked with a puzzled look on her face, “Wood? What do you need wood for? Do you actually eat wood while drinking wine? Your teeth must be amazing.”

    As she talked, she began to laugh, and then said, “But since you asked for wood, I’ll give you some. I can give you anything. Even if you want to grab the moon in the sky, I’ll give you a ladder.”

    Guo SongYang had been examining Li XunHuan’s face this whole time. He suddenly said, “I don’t eat wood. I eat eggs. Any kind of eggs, chicken eggs, duck eggs, sparrow eggs, salted eggs… as long as it’s eggs, it’s fine. The more, the better.”

    The little girl frowned. She glared at him and said, “You’re going to stay too?”

    Guo SongYang said, “With a host like you, how can I possibly leave?”

    The little girl scowled as she turned around and walked out. She muttered to herself, “Why are there so many people who can’t get a clue. Do they have nothing better to do than sticking their nose into places they don’t belong?”

    End of Chapter 41

  4. #44
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 42: Malice

    The room was big, the bed sheets were newly changed, very clean. The teapot wasn’t broken in any way, while the teacups were very clean.

    Lin XianEr sat on the bed, patching up a tear in a man’s robe. She’s not as good with the needle as she is with the sword, so she sometimes pricked her own hand.

    Ah Fei stood by the window, looking at the moon outside, thinking about something.

    Lin XianEr sewed a button unto the robe and shook her head. She said, “I really can’t get used to living in a hotel. Even the best hotel room seems like a cage to me. When I enter, I become queasy.”

    Ah Fei said, “Yeah.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I’ve always heard that there’s no place like home. Don’t you think so?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yeah.”

    Lin XianEr rolled her eyes and said, “You’re unhappy that I forced you to leave our home, right?”

    Ah Fei said, “No.”

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “I know Li XunHuan’s your friend. I also like for you to have a friend like him. But we have already decided to start over, so we must leave him. A person like him spreads trouble and misery to wherever he goes.”

    She then added tenderly, “We promised to never to get into these troubles again, didn’t we?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Besides, although he’s a dependable friend, he’s still a drunkard. All drunkards have annoying problems, problems that they themselves may not even realize.”

    She sighed again and said, “That’s why he would break down my door, to try and make me…”

    Ah Fei suddenly turned around and stared at her. He said, “Please do not talk about this again, ok?”

    Lin XianEr smiled tenderly, and said, “I’ve already forgiven him, because he’s your friend.”

    Ah Fei’s face turned pale and miserable. He said, “I don’t have any friends… just you.”

    Lin XianEr stood up and put her hands on his, then pulled him to her side. She said tenderly, “You’re the only person in my life too.”

    Her face touched Ah Fei’s, and said, “I only need you. Other than you, I don’t need anything else.”

    Ah Fei opened his hands and arms, and grabbed her tightly.

    Lin XianEr said, “Why won’t you marry me openly, so everyone will know that I’m your wife? What are you afraid of? Can you not forgive me for my past? Do you not truly love me?”

    Agony appeared on Ah Fei’s face. His released his hands from her body.

    But Lin XianEr still held on to him tightly.

    Ah Fei now lied on the bed, about to fall apart.

    His heart filled with hatred, but also pain.

    He hated himself, because he should not be doing this, but he couldn’t help it. Sometimes he simply wished to die, but he just couldn’t leave her.

    Lin XianEr combed her hair in front of the mirror. He cheeks bright red, her big, shiny eyes looked blissful.

    She can do it with everyone else, but not with Ah Fei.

    A little smile appeared on the side of Lin XianEr’s lips. Her smile was very beautiful, but also very cruel. She absolutely loved to torture men, nothing else in the world could make her happier.

    At this moment, someone knocked loudly on the door.

    A voice yelled, “Open the door. I know you’re in there. I saw you.”

    Ah Fei quickly got up, and yelled, “Who is it?”

    Before he finished asking, someone broke into the room.

    He pointed to Lin XianEr, and said while laughing wildly, “Although you pretended to not see me, I did see you. Do you still think you can leave me behind?”

    No expression appeared on Lin XianEr’s face. She simply said, “Who are you? I don’t recognize you!”

    This youngster laughed, “You don’t recognize me? You really don’t recognize me? You mean you forgot that night? That’s just great, I spent all that time to send all those letters for you, yet now you don’t even know me?”

    He suddenly rushed towards Lin XianEr, wanting to grab Lin XianEr, and said, “But I still know you. I will never forget you…”

    Lin XianEr obviously won’t let herself be seized by this youngster, quickly evading to the side. She yelled in shock, “This person’s drunk. He’s mad.”

    He wanted to grab her again, but Ah Fei had already blocked his path. He said loudly, “Get out!”

    That youngster said, “Who are you? What right do you have to tell me to leave? You want to please her, don’t you. I’ll tell you something. One day she’s going to forget you too, just like she forgot about me.”

    He suddenly began to laugh loudly, and said, “Anyone who thinks that she could love him is an idiot, and idiot… She’s been with hundreds of men…”

    Before he could finish, Ah Fei’s fist shot out!

    ‘Bam’, the youngster flew out the window, and landed face up in the courtyard.

    Lin XianEr suddenly covered her face and began to cry. She said with tears, “What did I do wrong? Why would these people wrong me like this? Trying to hurt me so…”

    Ah Fei sighed, held her tightly and said, “You don’t have to be afraid as long as I’m by your side.”

    After a long time, Lin XianEr finally stopped crying. She whispered, “Thankfully, you’re still by my side. As long as you’re by my side, I don’t care how anyone else think of me.”

    Ah Fei, with fire burning in his eyes, said as he bit his teeth, “I won’t let anyone hurt you in the future!”

    Lin XianEr said, “Anyone?”

    Ah Fei said, “That’s right. Anyone.”

    Lin XianEr smiled, and grabbed him even more tightly.

    But her eyes are looking at someone else. There’s no pain in her eyes, but rather happiness.

    That person is also looking back at her.

    He stood right by the fallen youngster.

    He’s very tall, very thin, on his waist is a sword!

    Although there’s light in the courtyard, it’s dim. One could only see three scars on his face.

    Of course, the scariest part was his eyes.

    His eyes were gray, lacking any feelings, any life.

    He stared coldly at Lin XianEr and slowly nodded. Then he turned around and walked away, toward a set of rooms in the south.

    After a while, two people came by and took the youngster away.

    Lin XianEr finally stopped crying totally.

    It’s now later in the night.

    Ah Fei slept soundly on the bed. He fell asleep right after he drank the tea Lin XianEr gave him.

    The courtyard is very quiet, with only sounds of the wind.

    Then, the door opened.

    She left the room quietly, and made her way through the courtyard, towards the set of rooms in the south.

    There’s only one room here where the light’s still on.

    Lin XianEr knocked on that room’s door.

    A low, coarse voice said from the inside, “The door’s unlocked.”

    Lin XianEr gently pushed the door, and opened it.

    That person who stared at her earlier sat in the room, still as a statue.

    Lin XianEr saw his eyes clearly as she moved closer.

    His pupils were very big, so when he’s looking at you, he’s seemingly looking elsewhere. But when he’s looking elsewhere, he’s seemingly looking at you.

    These eyes were not bright, nor were they penetrating, but there’s some devilish attraction about them. Even Lin XianEr couldn’t help but shudder inside as she saw them.

    But on the outside, she still smiled innocently.

    The scarier the person she meets, the more innocently she smiles. This is her first weapon against men. She had perfected this art.

    She said with a smile, “So are you Mr. Jin?”

    Jin WuMing stared at her intently. He neither responded nor made any gesture.

    Lin XianEr smiled even more sweetly, and said, “I’ve heard about the famous Mr. Jin for a long time now.”

    Jin WuMing continued to stare at her coldly. In his eyes, the most beautiful woman in the world looked no different from a block of wood.

    Jin WuMing suddenly interrupted her, and said coldly, “You need to remember one rule when speaking with me.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Just tell me the rule, Mr. Jin. I’ll follow it.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I only ask questions, not answer them. Understand?”

    Lin XianEr said, “I understand.”

    Jin WuMing said, “But if I ask a question, then there must be an answer. A very clear and simple answer, as I don’t want to hear any junk.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I understand.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “So you are Lin XianEr?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “You asked to meet me here?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “You already found Li XunHuan for us?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “Why are you doing this?”

    Lin XianEr said, “I know Clan Leader ShangGuan wants to find Li XunHuan, because Li XunHuan likes to mind other people’s businesses too much.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “You want to help us?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing’s eyes narrowed, and asked loudly, “Why do you want to help us?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because I hate Li XunHuan. I want him to die!”

    Jin WuMing asked, “Why don’t you kill him yourself?”

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “Because I can’t. I can’t even think about it when I’m standing in front of him, because his eyes can see into other’s minds. His one dagger can take others’ lives.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “Is his dagger really that powerful?”

    Lin XianEr sighed again, and said, “His dagger is even scarier than the legend. Everyone who had wanted to kill him had died in his hands. Other than Mr. Jin and Clan Leader ShangGuan, there’s no one on this Earth who can kill him!”

    She raised her head and said gently, “Although I’ve never seen Mr. Jin’s sword art, I can imagine its power.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “How can you imagine such a thing?”

    Lin XianEr said, “By your composure and calm. Although I’m not a swordsman, I do know that when experts fight, speed and variations aren’t the most important factor in the battle. The most important factor is their composure.”

    Jin WuMing asked, “Why?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because there really isn’t really that much diversity between the different sword moves in the world. Nor is there much difference between the speeds of expert fighters. So the most important issue is who can remain calm during the battle, to see the weakness of the opponent. That is who the winner will be.”

    Lin XianEr really is amazing.

    This is her third weapon against men.

    She knows that all men like to be praised, especially praised by women. Praises can be incredibly useful in getting a man’s heart.

    Jin WuMing still did not show any expression on his face. He asked, “You set the appointment date on the first day of the tenth month?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes, because I know Mr. Jin and Clan Leader ShangGuan will be there by that date.”

    Jin WuMing said, “But how can you be sure that Li XunHuan will also be there?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because I know he has seen the letter. If he saw the letter, then he’ll be there.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You are certain?”

    Lin XianEr said, “He’s not afraid of death, because he can’t live for much longer anyway.”

    Her smiled disappeared, and added, “But because he’s about to die, Li XunHuan’s very dangerous. Although your kung fu might be better, you still have to watch out. He might fight as if he doesn’t care for his life.”

    Her gaze was filled with much compassion, her fourth weapon against men.

    If a beautiful woman can use these four weapons well, then she can make at least ninety-nine percent of men grovel at her feet.

    Unfortunately, this man proved to be an exception to the rule. Because not only is he not a man, he’s not even human!

    But thankfully, she has her most useful weapon left.

    This is her last one, and the most primitive one which women have. Sometimes this weapon is the only way to control a man.

    But would it work on Jin WuMing?”

    Lin XianEr hesitated.

    Unless she’s absolutely certain, she would never use this weapon.

    Jin WuMing said calmly, “Are you done speaking?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing slowly got up, walked to the side of the table, his face away from her.

    Lin XianEr let out a bitter smile, and said, “If Mr. Jin has no further orders, I shall leave now.”

    Jin WuMing ignored her. He took out a pill, and swallowed it with a cup of tea.

    Lin XianEr doesn’t see what else she can do here. She can only leave.

    But before she reached the door, Jin WuMing suddenly said, “You like to seduce men, don’t you.”

    Lin XianEr froze. Jin WuMing added, “You’ve been trying to seduce me ever since you came to this room, right?”

    Lin XianEr’s eyes brightened. She said with her head lowered, “I like men who have a lot of self control.”

    Jin WuMing turned around and said, “Then why did you give up?”

    Her cheeks fully flushed. Lin XianEr said, “Your heart seemed to be made of steel. I… I can’t…”

    Jin WuMing said, “But my body’s not made of steel.”

    He added, “If you want to seduce me, there’s only one method, the most direct method.”

    Lin XianEr said with her face all red, “Why don’t you teach me that method?”

    Jin WuMing slowly walked up to her, and said in a chilling voice, “You actually need me to teach you this method?”

    He raised his hand and slapped her on the face.

    Lin XianEr’s body flew up, and landed on the bed. While her body still suffered from the pain afflicted by the slap, fire of desire burnt in her eyes.

    By the time Lin XianEr walked out of the room, it’s nearly dawn.

    She looked very flustered, very tired, and her legs were so weak she almost couldn’t walk. But her heart felt very fulfilled, very calm.

    Every time she lit up the fire in Ah Fei’s heart, she’d also have a fire burnt within her own heart. That’s why she must find someone to release this desire, to put out the fire.

    She liked to be tortured, and liked to torture others.

    Lin XianEr looked up into the sky and said, “Today’s already the twenty-fifth. Five more days… Only five more days…”

    She smiled.

    Oh, Li XunHuan. You only have five more days to live!

    End of Chapter 42

  5. #45
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 43: Life and Death

    Li XunHuan carved on the wood. The girl in the red dress kept staring at him. Suddenly, she asked, “What are you carving?”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “You can’t tell?”

    The little girl said, “It looks like a carving of a person, but why won’t you finish the carving each time? If you did, then I would be able to see how pretty this person is.”

    Li XunHuan’s smile disappeared, and began to cough.

    He doesn’t want anyone to know whom he was carving, so he never finished any of them. Although he could try carving something else, his hand never obeyed. Even if he started off carving something else, it would eventually become her.

    Because he just can’t forget her.

    It’s getting dark.

    Li XunHuan slowly raised his hand, the dagger in his hand sparkled, but the sparkles kept moving.

    “Is my hand shaking?”

    Li XunHuan’s heart sank, because he dreaded this day, the day when his hand would shake even when he had not drunk. How could this hand release his deadly dagger?

    He gripped the dagger tighter, so tightly his fingers turned white.

    He then slowly loosened his grip, and looked out the window. He asked, “What day is today?”

    The little girl said, “It’s the thirtieth of the ninth month. Tomorrow would be the first.”

    Li XunHuan closed his eyes, and asked, “Where’s Mr. Guo?”

    The little girl said, “He said he would take a stroll in the streets.”

    Li XunHuan looked at the tip of his dagger, suddenly he struck it down onto the carving.

    He carved very fast, and the wood almost turned into a human carving, those big eyes, that straight nose, still looked so young.

    But what about the person? The person’s already old.

    When a person lived in the midst of sadness, she tends to age very fast.

    Li XunHuan stared aimlessly at this carving, not wanting to look away, because he knew that he would never see her again.

    Suddenly a voice said, “This person’s carving is so pretty. Who is she? Your lover?”

    The little girl came back to him. She carried a basket in her hand.

    Li XunHuan forced a smile and said, “I don’t know who she is either. Perhaps she’s just a goddess in Heaven…”

    The little girl blinked her eyes and shook her head. She said, “You’re lying. The goddesses in Heaven are all happy, but she looks so sad…”

    Li XunHuan said, “If there are happy people here on Earth, why can’t there be sad goddesses in Heaven?”

    The little girl said, “Yet you’re not happy at all, because you love her, yet can’t have her, right?”

    Li XunHuan’s complexion changed, his heart sank.

    The little girl said, “You can tell me what happened. I already know that I am right upon seeing your reaction.”

    Li XunHuan said, “It’s an old, old story.”

    The little girl said, “If it happened so long ago, why can’t you still not forget her?”

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time before answering, “Once you get to my age, you’ll realize that the person you want to forget the most, is the person you can never forget…”

    The little girl nodded, tried to absorb what Li XunHuan had just said, and then began drifting into her own thoughts. She even forgot to put down the basket.

    After a long time, she sighed deeply, and said, “Everyone else said that you’re cold, ruthless, yet you’re not like that at all.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What kind of a person do you think I am?”

    The little girl said, “I think you worry too much, care too much, basically a romantic. If you really fell in love with a woman, then that woman must be very lucky.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Maybe it’s because I haven’t been drinking. Once I start to drink, I’d fall into a stupor.”

    The little girl said with a smile, “Then I should really drink wine, because being in a stupor seems like a good idea. At least then I’ll have no more worries.”

    As she said this, she took out a wine bottle from the basket, and drank half the bottle.

    Young people tended to drink very fast, because drinking takes a bit of courage.

    The little girl’s face became flushed as a peach. Suddenly, she stared at Li XunHuan and asked, “I know your name is Li XunHuan, but do you know my name?”

    Li XunHuan said, “How could I know if you’ve never told me?”

    The little girl said, “Why should I tell you if you never asked me?”

    She bit her lips, and continued, “In addition, you also never asked me what kind of a person I am, why I am here, where’s everyone else. You didn’t ask anything. Is it because since you know you’re about to die, you stopped caring for everything else?”

    Li XunHuan said, “You’re drunk. When a little girl becomes drunk, she should go to sleep.”

    The little girl said, “You don’t want to hear? Then I’ll force you to listen. I have no father, no mother, so I don’t even know my own name. Five years ago, my lady bought me, which is why my surname is now Lin. My lady likes to call me LingLing*, so my name became Lin LingLing…”

    *Note: ‘Ling’ means ‘bell’.

    She laughed a bit, and continued, “Don’t you think that this is such a great name, Lin LingLing? Just like a doorbell, when someone shakes it, it will start to ring. When nobody rings the bell, then it just stays silent, doing nothing.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, because he realized that this little girl also had a sad past, and wasn’t nearly as happy as she looked.

    Why can’t I ever meet a truly happy person?

    LingLing said, “Do you know why I stayed here? It really doesn’t matter even if you know. My lady asked me to stay so I can take care of you, to keep giving you wine, to let your hand shake. She says that once your hand starts shaking, you’ll soon die.”

    She stared at Li XunHuan, as if waiting for him to get mad.

    But Li XunHuan simply smiled, and said, “Ten years ago, people had begun to say that I would soon die, yet I still lived till today. Pretty strange, don’t you think?”

    LingLing said, “I just told you that I had been hurting you, yet why aren’t you mad at me?”

    He sighed deeply and said, “Everyone in this world is someone else’s bell at one time or the other. You are someone else’s bell, why can’t I be one too? That person ringing the bell might also be a bell for yet another person.”

    LingLing said, “Now I finally know that you’re really a kind person. Why would my lady want to kill you?”

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, “People who want other people to die would sooner or later die themselves.”

    LingLing said, “But when some people die, everyone becomes happy. While when others die, everyone would be sad…”

    She looked at the floor and added, “If you die, I’ll likely shed tears for you.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Because we’re already friends… at least we’ve known each other for a few days now.”

    LingLing shook her head and said, “That doesn’t mean anything. I’ve known that Mr. Guo for much longer than you. But if he dies, I would not shed a single tear for him.”

    She smiled, and added, “Because if I die, he would not waste a tear on me either.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Do you think that he’s heartless?”

    LingLing said, “Of course not. Some people might look cruel on the outside, but are quite sentimental on the inside. When a person tends keeps his feelings to himself, then the compassion he does show are much more genuine.”

    Li XunHuan had been deeply in his thoughts during this time, so deeply that he didn’t notice Guo SongYang standing by the door… He really is someone who doesn’t show his emotions much.

    He still stood there quietly, not a single expression on his face.

    The sun rose very early today.

    Li XunHuan rose even earlier. He did not sleep much last night.

    Before dawn, he had already taken a bath, and then put on the new clothes he bought at the town earlier.

    He’s neither too fat nor too skinny, so although the robe wasn’t nicely tailored, it still fit him perfectly.

    Now, faced with the bright sky, he felt very energized.

    Because today’s a special day.

    By tonight, he could very well be dead. But since he had lived a clean life, he felt that he should die a clean death.

    The chance of him winning today is very slim, which meant that he’s most likely to die. But as long as there’s a chance, he would not give up!

    He’s not afraid of death, but doesn’t want to die in a pair of dirty hands.

    He tied his hair with a green strip, about to shave.

    Suddenly a voice said, “How can you go to an appointment with such disorganized hair? Here, let me brush it for you.”

    He wasn’t sure when LingLing had entered the room. Her eyes are red, as if she didn’t sleep much last night, or perhaps because she had secretly cried.”

    Li XunHuan smiled and nodded.

    Suddenly, a memory of the past appeared in his head.

    That day was more than ten years ago, the weather was just like today’s, the chrysanthemum bloomed outside the window. He sat in his room, while a person brushed his hair.

    Even now, he still remembered those soft and gentle pair of hands.

    He had planned to go on a long trip that day, which was why she brushed very slowly.

    As she brushed slowly, she wanted to keep him from going, even for at least for the moment. When she finally finished, a tear fell on his hair.

    It was on this trip where he met some powerful enemies, and almost lost his life. Thankfully, Long Xiao4Yun saved him. This was something else he never forgot.

    But he forgot that although Long Xiao4Yun saved him at that moment, he ruined the rest of Li XunHuan’s life…

    Why would some people only remember the kindness of others?

    Li XunHuan closed his eyes, and said with a bitter smile, “At least I made it back after that trip. Can I come back alive today? Would it have been better had I not returned that day?”

    He doesn’t want to keep thinking about it, and opened his eyes again. Suddenly, he felt that the hands brushing his hair right now are also soft and gentle.

    He turned around, only to see a tear dropping down LingLing’s eyes, finally landing on his hair.

    The same gentle hands, the same shiny tear.

    Li XunHuan felt as if it’s that day again, suddenly he grabbed her hands, and said softly, “You’re crying?”

    LingLing’s face turned red, and quick looked away upon meeting his gaze. She bit her teeth and said, “I know your appointment is today, which is why you’re all dressed up, right?”

    Li XunHuan did not respond, because he realized that these are not the same pair of hands that touched him years ago. The past can never come back.

    LingLing continued, “Since you’re going to meet your beautiful lady friend, of course I’m sad.”

    Li XunHuan put down her hands and forced a smile. He said, “You’re still a kid. You still don’t know what it is to be sad.”

    LingLing said, “I might not have known before, but I do now. I might not have known yesterday, but I do know today.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Do you think you’ve grown up in one day?”

    LingLing said, “Of course. Some people’s hairs can all turn white in one day, haven’t you heard this?’

    Li XunHuan said, “That’s because they’re too worried about their life and death. What about you?”

    LingLing lowered her head and said, “It’s because of you… Once you leave today, would you ever come back?”

    Li XunHuan thought for a while, and sighed deeply, “You already know whom I’m meeting today?”

    LingLing slowly nodded, then tied his hair together with that green strip, and said, “I know you’re going no matter what. I know that I can’t keep you.”

    Li XunHuan said gently, “You’ll know my reasons once you grow up. Sometimes, you have no choice in certain matters.”

    He remained silent for a long time, as agony appeared on his face. Finally, he said, “I didn’t stay because of her… I’ve never done anything for her, I…”

    He then quickly stood up, and said, “It’s getting late. I should go…”

    Before he could finish the sentence, Guo SongYang had entered the room. He interrupted loudly, “How could you leave just when I’m coming in?”

    He’s holding a bottle of wine, the odor of alcohol on his body entered the room even before he did.

    Li XunHuan said, “It looks like brother Guo had been drinking last night. Why didn’t you tell me?”

    Guo SongYang laughed, and said, “Sometimes it’s best to just drink in pairs, one more would be too many.”

    He suddenly lowered his voice, put his hands on Li XunHuan’s shoulders, and said, “You know what I like to do when I’m in a bad mood, right?”

    Li XunHuan smiled slyly, and said, “So that’s what you were…”

    Just as he spoke, Guo SongYang’s hands sealed seven of his pressure points with lightning quick speed.

    Li XunHuan fell down.

    LingLing screamed, and hurriedly picked up Li XunHuan. She asked, “What are you doing?”

    At this moment, Guo SongYang suddenly looked awake again. His face became cold and distant. Guo SongYang said, “When he wakes up, tell him that it’s not often a man gets to duel with ShanGuan JinHong. I don’t want to pass up this opportunity!”

    LingLing said, “You… you’re going with him?”

    Guo SongYang said, “I know he won’t let me go with him, and I don’t want him to go with me either.”

    Tears came down LingLing’s eyes. She said, “He’s right. You really are a good person.”

    Guo SongYang said, “Both in life and death, I would never want anyone to cry for me. It only disgusts me to see a woman’s tears. Save yours for someone else!”

    He quickly turned around and walked out.

    Although Li XunHuan couldn’t move or speak, he still could feel his surroundings. As he saw Guo SongYang walk out, tears came down his eyes.

    Li XunHuan closed his eyes, his heart ached terribly. He suddenly realized that some relationships are just hard to explain.

    He had done many things for many people. Some of them had since ignored him, some forgot about him, some even betrayed him.

    But he had never done anything for Guo SongYang, yet Guo SongYang was willing to die for him.

    This is true friendship.

    This type of friendship could not be bought, or exchanged. Perhaps it’s because of this friendship that people can exist in this world.

    The light from the window became dimmer.

    LingLing locked the door, shut the window, and then sat by Li XunHuan’s side. She looked at him silently.

    What time is it now?

    Had Guo SongYang started battling ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing yet?

    He’s in the battle for his life, yet I could only calmly lie here, doing nothing.

    When he thought about this, Li XunHuan’s heart began to break apart.

    Suddenly, he heard footsteps outside.

    Then, he heard knocks from the front door, “Bang, Bang Bang!”

    LingLing tensed up.

    Is Guo SongYang already dead? Are they looking for Li XunHuan now?

    Bang, Bang Bang!

    This time, the knocks got louder.

    Cold sweat poured down LingLing’s face. She quickly picked up Li XunHuan, and looked around for a place to hide him.

    The knocks continued, louder and louder each time. If she doesn’t go get the door right away, those people might just knock down the door.

    LingLing bit her lips and yelled, “I’m coming, what’s the hurry? You have to at least wait until I put on my clothes!”

    As she spoke, she kicked open the closet door, and put Li XunHuan inside. Then she covered him with some clothing.

    Although Li XunHuan doesn’t like to hide, he has no choice in this matter.

    Only to see LingLing stared at the mirror on the table, organized her hair and wiped the sweat off her head.

    Then she quickly shut the closet door, and put a lock over it.

    She said to herself, “I finally get a chance to get in an afternoon nap, and someone knocks on the door. Why do I always get such luck?”

    Then Li XunHuan heard the door open.

    The door opened, and all sounds stopped. LingLing must’ve looked shocked, for she had never met the two people standing outside.

    They’re not ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing!

    The visitors did not speak. After a moment, he heard LingLing ask, “Who are you looking for? Or do you just want a place to sleep?”

    The visitors still did not speak.

    Only to hear a loud thud, as if LingLing was pushed against the door, then two pairs of footsteps could be heard walked in.

    End of Chapter 43

  6. #46
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 44: Lucky to Escape from Death

    The closet’s dark and stuffy. Anyone else in this situation might go crazy from all the tension. The people who came are obviously up to no good, or they wouldn’t have pushed LingLing around.

    But Li XunHuan only felt serenity.

    He smiled in his heart.

    He remembered that day he first came here, when LingLing told him that he was a bandit. This girl might not have learned much else, but her lying skills are already on par with Lin XianEr.

    Yet these two people didn’t even take notice of her. They simply walked around the two outside rooms, as if searching for something. Then they came into the room he’s in.

    LingLing quickly blocked their way, and yelled, “This is my lady’s personal room. How can you barge in here like this?”

    A person said, “But we’re here to meet your lady.”

    This voice was very gentle, pleasing to the ears, and contained a smile.

    It’s a voice of a woman!

    Li XunHuan was certainly shocked.

    Only to hear LingLing say, “If so, do you actually know her?”

    That woman said, “Of course… we’re actually good friends.”

    LingLing said, “If that’s so, then why didn’t you tell me earlier. I thought you were bandits.”

    That woman chuckled, and said, “Do we really look like we’re bandits?”

    LingLing said, “I don’t know about you two, but bandits these days are different from the past. Some of them are even more mannerly and more dashing then you two. No one can tell who they are from appearance now.”

    Before that woman could respond, another voice said, “Where’s your lady? Can you ask her to come out?”

    This voice was low, and a little coarse, but also pleasing to the ears. Li XunHuan thought this voice seemed familiar, but couldn’t remember at this moment.

    LingLing said, “I’m terribly sorry, but my lady left here a few days ago, leaving just me to look after the house. I’ll be happy to take a message.”

    That woman said, “When will she come back?”

    LingLing said, “I don’t know… If she doesn’t tell me, I do not dare ask.”

    The other woman suddenly let out a snicker, and said, “How convenient. She’s here everyday except for the day we come. Is she hiding from us?”

    These words proved that they’re here to cause trouble.

    LingLing still smiled, and said, “If you two are my lady’s friends, then she would love to see you again. Why would she hide?”

    That woman said with a smile, “Some people would see anyone, except her friends. Don’t you think this odd?”

    The other woman said coldly, “Maybe it’s because she did too many terrible things to her friends.

    LingLing said with a smile, “You two really say some strange things. This is a pretty small place. Even if she wants to hide, there really is no place.”

    That woman said, “Really? Although I’m not familiar with this house, I just might be able to find secret room to hide in.”

    LingLing said, “Well, maybe if you can hide that closet over there.”

    She laughed, and added, “But if someone really did hide in this closet, she’d likely suffocate to death.”

    That woman also laughed, and said, “You’re right. Your lady is very mindful of her comfort. She’d never be able to stand staying in that closet...”

    Both woman laughed, and very slyly at that.

    After a long time, that woman added, “If your lady’s not in this closet, then who is in there right now?”

    LingLing said, “What? There’s someone in the closet? How come even I don’t know about it?”

    That woman said, “If there’s no one in the closet, then why are you blocking it? Are you afraid that I might see your lady’s dresses?”

    LingLing said, “What are you talking about? I’m not blocking anything…”

    That woman said, “Little sister, you really do know how to talk, but you’re simply too young. You’re still not old enough to fool old foxes like us.”

    A person hiding inside someone else’s closet is nothing to be proud of. He really doesn’t know how these two ladies would react upon seeing him.

    He also doesn’t know who they are.

    The first woman’s voice is soft and gentle, but her words pierce like needles. Needless to say, she’s very difficult to deal with.

    The other woman might not talk much, but she seemed to be looking for trouble with her few words. She likely has some resentment against Lin XianEr.

    Both of their martial arts are at least on par with Lin XianEr’s.

    Only to hear LingLing let out a gasp, the closet door opened.

    Li XunHuan closed his eyes, and hoped that the two ladies would not recognize him.

    That woman also could not believe that there’s a man in the closet, and froze.

    After a while, she said with a smile, “Little sister, who is this person? Is he asleep?”

    LingLing said, “He’… he’s my cousin.”

    That woman laughed, and said, “Oh, how delightful! You know, when I was young, I also hid a lot of lovers in my closet. One time someone found out, and I said he was my cousin too.”

    That woman added, “This little girl really is something. Even we aren’t as skillful as she is.”

    The other woman remained silent for a long time, and then said, “Since Lin XianEr’s not here, why don’t we leave.”

    That woman said, “What’s the hurry? Since we’re already here, why don’t we stay for a while?”

    When the closet door opened, Li XunHuan smelled an attractive fragrance. Now that smell’s even thicker, meaning that woman must be very close to him.

    After a while, that woman said, “Little sister. You might be young, but you certainly have great vision when it comes to choosing men.”

    LingLing said, “There aren’t many men here, and my lady took all the good ones. So I had to settle for him.”

    That woman said, “You mean you’re not satisfied with him? Look at him, he’s neither skinny nor fat, his face looks pretty nice, and he seems quite experienced when it comes to women.”

    LingLing said, “He’s fairly ok in other regards, but his flaw is that he sleeps too much.”

    That woman said with a smile, “Maybe it’s because he’s too tired… After all, how could he not be after meeting a little devil like you?”

    LingLing said, “He’s also a bit too old.”

    That woman said, “You’re right. He is a little old for you, but perfect for me.”

    She then added, “If you don’t like him, little sister, you can give him to me. I promise I’ll get you a younger man in a couple of days.”

    This woman seemed quite mannerly before, but changed dramatically after seeing him. Even as she spoke, she picked up Li XunHuan.

    In this situation, Li XunHuan has to open his eyes.

    When he did so, he was in for a huge shock.

    This woman isn’t old, probably around twenty-five to twenty-six. Nor is she bad looking. Actually, if one would split her into three parts, you’d have three beautiful women.

    The only problem is that she also has three chins. Cradled in her bosom, Li XunHuan felt like sleeping on a pile of cotton.

    He could hardly believe that the woman with such a charming laughter and a sweet voice would be so obese.

    But even more shocking was the identity of the other woman.

    This woman is also beautiful. Her waist is very thin, wearing a fitting blue robe. Her sleeves are very big. Even while simply standing, she had a goddess-like aura.

    She is none other than the person Li XunHuan broke the wrist of, Blue Scorpion!

    But what’s odd is that Blue Scorpion doesn’t seem to recognize him. Her face looked very calm. She didn’t even look at him much.

    That fat woman kept on laughing, each laugh shook Li XunHuan like an earthquake.

    LingLing began to fluster, said, “This person’s very dirty. He usually goes months between baths. You really shouldn’t touch him, or you might get fleas.

    That fat woman said, “Dirty? Surely not. Besides, it doesn’t matter even if he has fleas. It only makes him seem more manly.”

    LingLing said, “But… in addition, he’s even a drunkard.”

    That fat woman said, “That’s even better. A man’s not true man unless he can drink.”

    She winked at Li XunHuan, and whispered to him, “You’ll soon know just how great I can be.”

    LingLing began to laugh again, and laughing extremely hard.

    That fat woman widened her eyes and asked, “What are you laughing about?”

    LingLing said, “I’m just laughing at your stupidity. I can’t believe you’d dare to touch him.”

    That fat woman said, “What’s so special about him?”

    LingLing said, “Do you know who he is?”

    That fat woman said, “Do you know who I am?”

    LingLing said, “Surely you’re not his cousin.”

    That fat woman said, “Have you heard the name Happy Lady Buddha? I’m her disciple Zhi ZunBao. I specialize in eating men.”

    LingLing said, “If you dare to eat him, he just might get stuck in your throat, and you can’t even cough him back out.”

    Zhi ZunBao said, “But I never cough out bones when I eat men.”

    LingLing blinked her eyes, and said, “Do you really not want to know who he is?”

    Zhi ZunBao said, “If I wanted to, I’d simply ask him. You don’t have to worry about this. Besides… as long as he’s a man, I’d be satisfied.”

    She turned around towards Blue Scorpion and smiled, said, “Help me out here and get rid of this girl. This is a nice place, and I want to borrow it for a while. Don’t peek.”
    Li XunHuan lost all senses in his body. He wanted to throw up, but couldn’t. He wanted to die, but couldn’t. His last hope is for Blue Scorpion to seek her revenge right now, and give him a quick death.”

    Yet how could Blue Scorpion act as if she’s never seen him? She just stood there, not even giving him a peek. But at this moment, she suddenly said, “I want this man too.”

    Zhi ZunBao’s face sunk, and asked loudly, “What? What did you say?”

    Blue Scorpion kept her solemn expression, and said, “I said I want this man too!”

    Zhi ZunBao stared at her with eyes filled with murderous rage. She said loudly, “You dare to take him away from me?”

    Blue Scorpion said, “Yes.”

    Zhi ZunBao’s face turned green, and then pale. She then smiled, and said, “If you really do want him, then we can certainly discuss this.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “I don’t want his body, I want his life!”

    Zhi ZunBao said with a smile, “Then this is much easier to discuss. Once I have his body, then you can take his life.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “After I take his life, then you can have his body.”

    Although she’s angry, Zhi ZunBao forced a smile and said, “I do like men a lot, but not dead men.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “But he seemingly doesn’t seem to be much different from a dead person right now.”

    Zhi ZunBao said, “The reason he can’t move is because someone sealed his pressure points. I obviously have a way to make him move again.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “Once he can move, then I’ll no longer be able to take his life.”

    LingLing said with a smile, “That’s true. Once he can move, all he needs to do is move his hand, and you’ll both be dead!”

    Zhi ZunBao asked, “Who is he?”

    LingLing said, “He’s ‘Little Li’s Flying Dagger’.”

    Zhi ZunBao froze. She shook her head and said, “I don’t believe you. If he really is Li XunHuan, then why would he love you?”

    LingLing said, “He doesn’t. It’s me who love him. That’s why I want you to kill him.”

    Zhi ZunBao asked, “Why?’

    LingLing said, “My lady told me, if I ever fall in love with someone, and he doesn’t love me back, then it’s better for me that he die, rather than to be with another woman.”

    Zhi ZunBao sighed, and said, “I can’t believe you’re even more venomous then I am.”

    LingLing said, “So do you still want his body? You still dare to?”

    Zhi ZunBao did not waver, and said, “If I could have a one night stand with a man like Li XunHuan, I would die happily.”

    She then turned to Blue Scorpion and added, “Don’t worry, I guarantee that you can take still take his life even after I get his body.”

    Blue Scorpion did not respond.

    Zhi ZunBao said, “Don’t forget. I originally came here so I could help you out. You really should give me some face.”

    Blue Scorpion paused a moment before saying, “Will you still be interested in a man with a hand chopped off?”

    Zhi ZunBao said, “A missing hand is nothing, as long as certain others parts are still there.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “Then I want one of his hands!”

    Zhi ZunBao thought for a while and said, “Which hand?”

    Blue Scorpion said, “He broke my right hand, so I want his right one.”

    Zhi ZunBao sighed, and said, “Fine then. Go ahead. Just don’t make a big mess.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “Good enough.”

    She slowly walked towards them, her eyes shined.

    LingLing yelled, “You really aren’t afraid of him?”

    Zhi ZunBao said tenderly, “Little sister, do you not want him to suffer?”

    She did not finish her words.

    A blue streak of light shot out from Blue Scorpion’s sleeve, aimed towards Li XunHuan’s right wrist.

    Only to hear a loud scream, which then stopped.

    Li XunHuan’s body dropped to the ground with a loud thud.

    No one could’ve thought that the scream came from Zhi ZunBao.

    During her scream, she dropped Li XunHuan, and turned to attack Blue Scorpion.

    Blue Scorpion twisted her waist and moved out of the way.

    Yet despite a waist thicker than a water tub, Zhi ZunBao had amazing flexibility. She quickly changed directions and caught Blue Scorpion’s hand.

    Blue Scorpion’s face turned pure white.

    Zhi ZunBao’s face turned green, her expression as ugly as can be. She said while biting her teeth, “You… you have the nerve to attack me? I will kill you!”

    With a loud cracking sound, she pulled off Blue Scorpion’s hand along with her sleeve.

    Blue Scorpion retreated a few more steps, and oddly showed no expression of pain.

    Zhi ZunBao tore off her right hand.

    Blue Scorpion began to laugh. She said, “Want to see what you’re holding in your hand?”

    Zhi ZunBao picked up the hand, and saw a small scorpion tail on the wrist of the hand, hidden behind those huge sleeves.

    Blue Scorpion said, “No one can walk more than seven steps after being poisoned by my scorpion tail. You are much bigger than most people, so the poison would not spread so quickly in you. But I seriously doubt you can walk more than three steps.

    Zhi ZunBao screamed, and tried to attack her.

    After three steps, she really did fell to the floor.

    Blue Scorpion didn’t even look at her, instead turned toward Li XunHuan. She looked at him with a blank face for a while, then said, “Yi Ku died because he went to see Lin XianEr. I originally came here to settle up with her. This has nothing to do with you.”

    LingLing cut in, “If you want him to speak, why don’t you unseal his pressure points?”

    Blue Scorpion ignored her and continued, “Although you made my right hand useless, at least you spared my life. I always return my favors. That’s why I can’t stand to watch you get mutilated by that pig.”

    Li XunHuan sighed in his heart. He never knew Blue Scorpion was this type of a person.

    Blue Scorpion said coldly, “Now that I’ve repaid your favor, it’s time for me to collect what’s rightfully mine. I don’t think it would be excessive for me to ask for your right hand, right?”

    Li XunHuan suddenly smiled, and slowly raised his right hand.

    Blue Scorpion froze, so did LingLing.

    Li XunHuan’s arm could move, but his Little Li’s Flying Dagger did not appear!

    Watching this hand, how could Blue Scorpion speak?

    Li XunHuan smiled bitterly and said, “I was attempting to unseal my pressure points through inner power. Unfortunately my ability’s not good enough to pass the last hurdle. Who’d have thought that drop to the ground helped me break through, allowing me to move again.”

    LingLing said, “Then why are you so obedient? Why did you hold out your hand when she asked for it? You could’ve given her the dagger.”

    Li XunHuan’s face sunk, ignored her, and said to Blue Scorpion, “Miss Blue, your request is indeed not excessive. Go ahead.”

    Blue Scorpion thought for a long time, and then sighed. She said, “There is actually someone like this in the world…”

    She repeated this sentence again. Then she quickly turned around, and began to walk out the door.

    But just at this moment, Li XunHuan somehow jumped out, blocked her path, and said, “Please wait a moment.”

    End of Chapter 44

  7. #47
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 45: Near Miss

    Blue Scorpion laughed and said, “What’s the need? You have returned my debt the moment you raised your hand. Although I’m a woman, I still have my morals.”

    LingLing blinked her eyes and cut in, “But women don’t have to be moral. It’s within our rights. Because men are naturally stronger than women, they have to give in a bit to us.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “Who said this?”

    LingLing said, “My lady.”

    Blue Scorpion said, “You listen to her a lot?”

    LingLing said, “Of course, because she speaks up for women.”

    Blue Scorpion suddenly walked over to her, and slapped on her cheeks ten times.

    LingLing froze.

    Blue Scorpion said coldly, “Like you two, I’m also not a good person. But I still have to hit you, to teach you a lesson. Do you know what that is?”

    LingLing bit her teeth and said, “Because you’re a… you’re a…”

    Before she could finish, she began to cry.

    Blue Scorpion said, “Because of women like you, men have always looked down upon us. Because they look down at us, I’ve always sought revenge, to have done those things I did.”

    Her voice became softer and softer, “But I did not know that when I was doing those things, I was not only destroying others, but also myself. This is how my life became destroyed.”

    Li XunHuan said caringly, “Let the past go away. You’re still young. You can start over.”

    Blue Scorpion sighed, and said, “Perhaps you can think this way, but what of others?”

    Li XunHuan said, “As long as your heart is content, why should you worry about how others feel? You should live for yourself, not others.”

    Blue Scorpion looked at him, and asked slowly, “Are you living for yourself?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I…”

    Blue Scorpion still stared at him, a smile appeared on the side of her mouth. She said, “No one would ever regret meeting someone like you. It’s a shame we did not meet ten years ago…”

    Then she left.

    Only to hear her voice from afar, “Just leave Zhi ZunBao’s body. I will take care of it. Don’t worry, No one else ever have to worry about anything I do.” She was long gone by the time she finished this sentence.

    LingLing had been crying all this time, but now she raised her head, and said, “She’s the one who made the mistakes, yet she had to take out her frustrations on me. Although she’s a bad person, she still wants to act all heroic and brave. I absolutely abhor people like her.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “Actually, she’s not like that at all.”

    LingLing said, “You think I don’t know the things she had done?”

    Li XunHuan said, “No matter what she has done, she is still a kind person at heart. As long as her heart is kind, then she’s not evil.”

    LingLing bit her lips and said, “You must think that I’m innately evil, right?”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “You’re still a child. How could you at your age clearly differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong? As long as someone can teach you the right ways from now on, you’ll turn out fine.”

    LingLing blinked her eyes and asked, “So can you teach me?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Later, if I ever get the chance…”

    LingLing said, “Later? What’s wrong with now?”

    Li XunHuan said, “You know I have to go look for Guo SongYang right now. If I can make it back alive…”

    LingLing cut him off, “Actually, I know that once you leave here, you’ll never return. I’m just a kid. Why would a person like you care about a little girl like me?”

    She rubbed her eyes and continued, “Besides, we’re strangers really. Even if I become bad, you still won’t have to worry about me. Even if I become ten times worse than Blue Scorpion, it’s still none of your business. Even if I die on the street, you still won’t bother to give me a burial.”

    As she spoke, her voice became sadder and sadder, as if should she turn out bad, the culprit would be Li XunHuan.

    Li XunHuan could only laugh bitterly. He said, “I promise I’ll return…”

    LingLing covered her eyes and said, “But you’re so busy. By the time you decide to actually come back, I might be long dead.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’ll be back very soon…”

    Before he could finish this sentence, LingLing stopped crying, said, “Really? When? I’ll wait for you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “As long as I am alive, I’ll come back immediately after I see Guo SongYang.”

    LingLing jumped up and smiled. She said, “You really are a good person. For you, I’ll become a good person too. But no matter what, you can’t lie to me. If you do, I might become bad again.”

    Li XunHuan’s burden was already heavy enough. It only became heavier.

    Making sure LingLing turn out good apparently became his obligation. He can’t possibly reject it now. Even he wasn’t sure just how this problem dropped into his lap.

    He could only laugh bitterly.

    He had faced way too many problems in his life.

    But there’s only one thing on his mind right now!

    He can only hope that Guo SongYang had not yet met ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing.

    He can only hope that he’s not too late.

    He’s not terribly late.

    * * *

    The autumn sun still had not descended below the mountain. The water glittered like gold under the sunlight.

    A piece of maple leaf floated in the golden-colored water, down the river, followed by a second one, and a third… until the river is filled with them.

    It’s still Autumn. Maple leaves should not be falling yet.

    Could these have come from sword streams of Jin WuMing and Guo SongYang?

    Li XunHuan’s heart sank, because the battle had begun!

    This must be an amazingly intense, heart-wrenching duel.

    Guo SongYang must be in the fight of his life, which is why these leaves have been so devastated by sword streams.

    How much longer can he last?

    Li XunHuan can’t wait to get there.

    About sixty percent of the leaves in the forest have fallen. The atmosphere full of death, the falling leaves danced in the autumn wind, as if filling the sky with blood.

    Is the battle over?

    Who won?

    There are no shadows within the forest. Even if the autumn wind could speak, it could not tell what Li XunHuan wanted to know. Only the flowing water cried out, as if mourning for the vanquished.

    If Guo SongYang lost, then where is his body?

    The leaves continued to flow down the river.

    The Sun finally descended behind the mountain. He suddenly saw a streak of red flowing down the river.

    Could it be the blood of the defeated?

    Li XunHuan raised his head, headed towards the end of the river, only to see a geyser blowing out water from the side of a mountain.

    By this geyser is a single person.

    Even though the geyser continuously spurted out water onto this person, it still could not dislodge him from his place.

    This person wore a black robe, laid there motionless.

    Li XunHuan gasped, “Guo SongYang… Brother Guo…”

    He flew towards the body, only to find water spraying all over his eyes.

    He jumped into the geyser, and grabbed that person’s hand.

    He’s right. This person is indeed Guo SongYang.

    His body is now nearly frozen from the cold water, but he still held on to his sword, not letting go even in death.

    That sword is the world famous Solar-Apex Iron Sword, its sheath had fallen into the river below, but the sword remained in the mountainside.

    Why did he do this?

    Li XunHuan moved the body to the ground nearby, only to hear someone yell from behind, “Why did he do this to himself?”

    He didn’t have to turn around to know that it was LingLing speaking. This girl, amazingly enough, actually followed him.

    LingLing asked, “Why did he hang himself like that? Was he afraid that you couldn’t find him? Did he want to give himself a shower?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, said, “If a person comes into the world cleanly, why should he not depart the same way?”

    LingLing asked, “What do you mean?”

    Li XunHuan said, “He didn’t want anyone to bury him, nor to take his body away.”

    LingLing said, “Why? Was he waiting for you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Exactly.”

    LingLing asked, “Why wait for you when he’s already dead?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because he has something to tell me.”

    LingLing froze. After a while, she said, “Did you… you say that he wants to tell you something?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Correct.”

    LingLing asked, “You mean you know what he wants to tell you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    LingLing asked, “He already told you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    LingLing said, “But… but when you arrived, he’s already dead.”

    End of Chapter 45

  8. #48
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 46: The Heroic and the Ambitious

    Li XunHuan looked at Guo SongYang’s body, sighed, and said, “You’re right. I was a step too late.”

    LingLing said, “If he’s already dead, then what can he tell you? …Are you saying that dead people can talk too?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Even though his message was not expressed in words, I can still hear him.”

    LingLing said, “But… but I can’t hear anything.”

    She’s totally lost, and became scared.

    People tend to be scared of things they don’t understand.

    Li XunHuan paused for a moment, then said, “You want to know what he said?”

    LingLing nodded.

    Li XunHuan said, “Actually he had given you the message too. It’s just that you weren’t listening. To be honest, the words of dead people tend to be the most precious ones, because these are words they used their lives to obtain. If you can learn to hear dead people’s words, you can learn a lot of things.”

    LingLing asked, “But how do I listen to dead people?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Obviously, it’s not easy to understand the words of a dead person. But if you want to live a few years longer, and live happily, you should learn.”

    His tone was very serious, with no hints of joking.

    LingLing said, “But how do I learn? Will you teach me?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Why don’t you listen more closely?”

    LingLing closed her eyes.

    She tried her best to listen, but could not hear anything.

    Li XunHuan said, “You should not only use your ears to listen, but also your eyes.”

    LingLing opened her eyes.

    Only to see Guo SongYang’s clothing filled with sword wounds, very apparent after being cleansed by water.

    His body is now gray, because all blood had left his body.

    After a long time, Li XunHuan asked, “So what did you see, what have you heard?”

    LingLing said, “I… I see that there are many wounds on his body, nineteen total.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “What else?”

    LingLing said, “Because his wounds are all very short, and very shallow, one can see that they’re made by the tip of a sharp sword.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “Why must it be a sword?”

    LingLing said, “Neither saber nor spear can make such delicate wounds with their tips.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Very good. You’ve learnt a lot already.”

    LingLing smiled, said, “Therefore, the person who killed him must be Jin WuMing, because ShangGuan JinHong uses Dragon & Phoenix Rings, not sword. ShangGuan JinHong perhaps didn’t even come.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps he was here, but did not attack.”

    LingLing nodded, said, “These wounds are all made diagonally, deeper on the bottom end, shallower on the top end.”

    Li XunHuan said, “That’s correct.”

    LingLing said, “Therefore, we can see that each sword stroke struck upward. This is indeed a strange style of sword art. I’ve often heard that Jin WuMing’s sword art is swift and tricky, a very rare style in the martial world. I finally believed this today.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You’re right. Not only is his sword art very mysterious, his strikes all come from awkward angles, so that his opponents could never tell where he was attacking from.”

    He pointed at one of the wounds on Guo SongYang’s body, said, “Look at this wound. It would have been ordinary had this attack came downward, but based on his wound, you can see that this strike came upward. His sword art is therefore the opposite of traditional sword moves.”

    LingLing said, “You’re right.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Therefore, Jin WuMing’s strikes all started from below the waist, utilizing much wrist power. If I hadn’t seen these wounds, I would’ve never expected anyone to attack in this manner.”

    LingLing nodded.

    Li XunHuan said, “You only saw his front side. There are seven more wounds on his back. Considering Guo SongYang’s martial arts, there is no way he should’ve been wounded from behind.”

    LingLing said, “That’s right. If I were to fight someone, I would never turn my back to him.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Therefore, these wounds must have been made when they passed by each other. Only if Jin WuMing struck from his flank could he have wounded his opponent.”

    He sighed, and continued, “Anyone who can attack from the flank practices a very unusual type of sword art. What’s even more extraordinary is, these attacks also were struck upward, which meant that Jin WuMing must’ve changed the way he held his sword at the moment their body passed each other. This ability alone makes him an incredibly dangerous fighter!”

    LingLing listened in a daze.

    After a long time, she sighed, and said, “So that’s what he wanted to tell you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Otherwise, there was no way he could’ve suffered so many wounds.”

    LingLing asked, “Why?”

    Li XunHuan said, “When top fighters fight, winning and losing almost always come down to a single exchange. For if one side showed even the slightest flaw in his move, his opponent would immediately take advantage of it.”

    LingLing said, “I understand.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Think about it. Solar-Apex Iron Sword has been renowned in the martial world for twenty years now. Guo SongYang is the top one or two sword user in the world. There’s absolutely no way he could’ve revealed twenty-six flaws, and be wounded twenty-six times.”

    LingLing said, “You mean he purposely revealed them… but is he not afraid that Jin WuMing would kill him?”

    Li XunHuan said, “But because he purposely revealed these flaws, he was able to dodge the killing blow each time. It’s also why his wounds are so superficial.”

    LingLing became totally lost. She asked, “Why would he do this?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, said, “He did this to tell me exactly what Jin WuMing’s sword art is like!”

    LingLing froze.

    After a while, tears came down her eyes. She said, “I’ve always thought that there are no kind people in this world, that friendship simply meant using each other for one’s own benefit. That’s why if someone wants to live well, one must learn to use others, trick others. Never should one be honorable or caring, or would suffer greatly.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I take it these ideals are taught to you by Lin XianEr.”

    LingLing nodded, said, “But now I know that there are good people in this world. There really are people who value honor and friendship above their own lives.”

    She suddenly kneeled in front of Guo SongYang and said, “Mr. Guo, although you died, you managed to help out your friend, and taught me a valuable lesson in life. Hopefully, you can rest peacefully now.”

    * * *

    On a dirt road outside the mountain, two people walked. The setting sun shined on their robes, which gave off a mysterious, golden glitter.

    They did not walk very fast nor very slow, but quite serenely. They did not speak, nor made any irregular gestures.

    But their body gave off an invisible aura of murder. Before they even entered the forest, all the birds inside the forest had flown away, scared off by this dark aura.

    Life is very important to them.

    They would not let any form of life lie on top of their heads!

    It’s very dim inside the forest.

    When they got here, the person walking in the front suddenly stopped. At almost the exact moment, the person behind him also stopped.

    The person in the front is ShangGuan JinHong. He asked, “How was Guo SongYang’s sword art?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Good!”

    ShangGuan JinHong asked, “Very good?”
    Jin WuMing said, “Very good, better than the leaders of the seven major sword sects.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “But when he fought you, he revealed over twenty-six flaws in his movements.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Twenty-nine. I did not attack the other three times.”

    ShangGuan JinHong nodded, said, “You’re right. You did not attack those three times. Why?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Because had I attacked at those three moments, I would’ve killed him!”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You saw that he revealed those flaws on purpose?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Correct, which is why I didn’t want him to die so quickly. I wanted to use him to practice my sword!”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “But do you know why he revealed all those weaknesses?”

    Jin WuMing said, “No. I never thought about that.”

    Other than killing people, he does not like to think about anything else.

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “He revealed those flaws so you could wound him.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Huh?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “He knew that he could not defeat us, which is why he did this, so Li XunHuan could see the location of your strikes from his wounds.”

    He raised his head, and continued, “Therefore, he must’ve known that Li XunHuan would follow him. If we return right now, we would surely find Li XunHuan there!”

    * * *

    Li XunHuan went to Ah Fei’s house to find a shovel, so he could make a grave. Most people in the martial world tends be buried at the place where they died.

    LingLing looked on this whole time. Li XunHuan didn’t want her to interfere. Digging this grave is his prerogative. No one else should get in the way.

    At this moment LingLing said, “Are you really going to bury him here?”

    Li XunHuan nodded.

    LingLing said, “If a man dies an honorable death, then it really doesn’t matter where he’s buried, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    LingLing said, “In that case, you should not bury him here.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If not here, then where?”

    LingLing said, “You should hang him at the geyser over there.”

    Li XunHuan did not respond.

    LingLing said, “ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing would surely realize Mr. Guo’s intentions after a while, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    LingLing said, “Jin WuMing obviously would not want you to know his sword art. So once he realize this, he’ll come back, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Right.”

    LingLing said, “If they found Mr. Guo’s body in a different place upon returning, they’d know that you’ve been here, right?”

    Li XunHuan nodded.

    LingLing said, “In that case, should you ever come into blows with them, Jin WuMing would change his sword style, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Correct.”

    LingLing said, “If that’s the case, then wouldn’t Mr. Guo’s message be useless?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’ve already thought about the things you’ve said.”

    LingLing said, “Then why do you still intend on burying him here?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I can’t do that, because he died for me, while I…”

    LingLing said, “Exactly because he died for you, you should return him to where you found him. Otherwise, wouldn’t his death be in vain?”

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time, before he said, “I’d bet anything that ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing would not return!”

    * * *

    Jin WuMing turned around.

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You want to return?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “I know you’ve long wanted to duel with Little Li’s Flying Dagger, but now is not the time!”

    Jin WuMing asked, “Why?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “If you return now, you will certainly lose!”

    Jin WuMing’s hand gripped his sword tightly, his voice turned a bit coarse, asked, “Why would I certainly lose?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You’ve already killed Guo SongYang. Your killer instinct has dissipated. Li XunHuan currently has extra strength from his sadness. If you return now, you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage.”

    Jin WuMing said, “But you…”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Together, we can surely kill him. But… how can you be so sure that Li XunHuan went alone? What if Old Man Sun is with him?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Even together, it’s not certain that…”

    ShangGuan JinHong cut him off, and said clearly, “I’ve already told you. During our visit to the martial world this time, we can only win, not lose. If we’re not a hundred and twenty percent certain of victory, then we will not engage the enemy!”

    Jin WuMing remained silent.

    ShangGuan JinHong, “Besides, sentimentality has crept into your mind.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Sentiment?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “The reason you can win is because you are utterly ruthless, but now that you’re a bit sentimental, your strength has decreased.”

    ShangGuan JinHong then said, “You’ve never been sentimental before, what happened? Who did this to you?”

    Jin WuMing suddenly turned away, and said, “No one.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “I don’t really want to ask who this person is. But if you want to win, want to defeat Li XunHuan, then you must return to your previous level of ruthlessness. If you want to return to that level, then you must kill the woman that moved your heart!”

    As he spoke, he turned around and entered the forest.

    * * *

    It’s the middle of the night.

    Li XunHuan’s heart is just as heavy as his footsteps.

    Guo SongYang’s finally buried. This famous swordsman’s final fate did not differ from anyone else, occupying just a small part of the ground.

    But did he die a more important death than most other people?

    Li XunHuan did not know the answer. He only knew that Guo SongYang did not have to die. If a person who did not have to die… died, then wasn’t his death a bit crazy?

    Perhaps all heroes throughout history had been somewhat crazy.

    Even he himself is quite crazy.

    LingLing followed him closely, suddenly asked, “How do you know ShangGuan JinHong and the others won’t be back?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because ShangGuan JinHong is incredibly ambitious. Ambitious people do not act like normal people.”

    LingLing asked, “What’s so different about them?”

    Li XunHuan said, “If they attack, no matter success or failure, they’d retreat safely afterwards, then wait for the next chance to attack. Ambitious people never do things that’s not safe.”

    He sighed, said, “Ambitious people are never silly, which is why they’re different from heroes.”

    LingLing asked, “So heroes are very crazy?”

    End of Chapter 46

  9. #49
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 47: Big Merriment Lady Buddha

    Li XunHuan said, “The idea of craziness is not humorous, for only those with extreme passions can learn how to be ‘crazy’.

    LingLing laughed, said, “You have to learn to be crazy?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course, not everyone can learn how to be crazy. Crazy is not the same as retarded. Only someone crazy about the sword can learn the best sword arts. Only those crazy about love can taste the real love of others. People who are not crazy would never understand these things.”

    LingLing lowered her head, trying to absorb these words.

    After a long time, she sighed softly, said, “I’ve learned so much from you. Unfortunately… unfortunately, you’ll be leaving, and you won’t be taking me with you.”

    Li XunHuan paused, then said, “At least I’ll take you back home.”

    LingLing said, “Then why don’t we take the secret passage? It’s a lot easier that way.”

    He laughed, then said tenderly, “Only those afraid of the light uses secret passages. Unless one absolutely has to, he really should not be using them.”

    Although his heart is gloomy, Li XunHuan still tried to make others happier.

    LingLing chuckled, said, “Fine. I’ll do what you say. In the future, I’ll never act like a rat.”

    Li Xun looked up at the sky, sighed, and said, “Look at this place. Cool breeze, bright moon in the sky, and clear water flowing… How can a person who walks underground enjoy such things?”

    LingLing said, “Yet I prefer a bright mooncake in the sky, and wine flowing on the ground…”

    She sighed, and added, “To be honest, I’m really hungry. When we get back, the first thing I’m doing is to make some food…”

    She suddenly stopped talking, because she smelled food and wine in the distance, carried here by the wind. Obviously, such a smell would carry quite far in the forest.

    Li XunHuan said, “Fried chicken, Pork hot pot, peppers… and very fine wine.”

    LingLing said, “You also smelled these things?”

    Li XunHuan said, “When a man grows old, his ears might go deaf, his eyes might go blind, but his nose will always remain effective.”

    LingLing said, “Do you know where the smell is coming from?”

    Li XunHuan shook his head, said, “I only know that the little shop here does not have such great wine. Nor can they can they make such great tasting food.”

    LingLing said, “Besides, that shop is now closed.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps there’s a family who’s cooking late-night dinner.”

    LingLing said, “That’s not possible. I know every single family in this town. None of them are rich. Even if they do have a late-night meal, it would be at most a bowl of noodles.”

    Li XunHuan muttered, “Perhaps they had relatives visiting. So they are cooking something special…”

    LingLing said, “That’s not possible either. None of the wives in these families could cook such great food.”

    She smiled, and continued, “Only one person here can cook such food.”

    Li XunHuan smiled, said, “Who?”

    LingLing pointed at her own nose, and said with a smile, “Me.”

    She thought for a moment, then said, “That’s why I’m so surprised. If I’m not cooking, then where’s the smell coming from?”

    Li XunHuan said, “The smell is coming from your home.”

    * * *

    The road is silent.

    Everyone in the town sleeps early. All the candles are blown out. Yet when they arrived in the maple forest, bright light came from LingLing’s home.

    Not only did the scent of wine and food came from LingLing’s home, but also sounds of chatting.

    LingLing froze.

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps your lady’s back?”

    LingLing said, “No. She said she’d be away for at least three months.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Well, you often have guests there anyway. Perhaps the guests couldn’t find the host, and decided to cook themselves.”

    LingLing said, “I’ll take a look first. You…”

    Li XunHuan said, “Actually, I should go first.”

    LingLing said, “Why? These people are drinking, dining, and causing a huge racket. Surely they’re not hostile. I won’t be in any trouble.”

    Li XunHuan said, “It’s just that I’m quite hungry too.”

    He stepped in front of LingLing, and walked very cautiously. He seemingly sensed a trap in the house, waiting for him to fall in.

    The door’s open.

    When Li XunHuan walked through the door, he froze.

    He’s never seen so many fat women ever.

    There are twice as many fat women inside, than he had seen his whole life.

    Over ten women sat in the room. They all sat on the floor, because they won’t fit on any chair. If they try to sit on one, that chair would break apart.

    No one can claim that they’re as fat as pigs, because not even pigs are this fat. And pigs would never eat as much as they.

    When Li XunHuan walked in, they were serving a large bowl of fried chicken. These fat women sat around the table eating.

    There’s a large silk quilt by the table. The fattest woman sat on it. Six men surrounded her.

    Every single one of them wore colorful robes. They’re all quite young, and fairly handsome. Some even have makeup on their faces.

    None of them are skinny. But compared to this woman, they look like little monkeys.

    One man massaged her feet. One massaged her shoulders. One waved a fan for her, One held a cup, and fed her wine.

    Two men curled by her feet. She held a large fried chicken in her hand. When she’s happy, she’d feed a piece or two.

    Thankfully, Li XunHuan had not eaten in a while. Otherwise, he’d throw up right now. Li XunHuan had never seen anything so appalling in his whole life.

    But he did not leave. Instead walked in calmly.

    All sound stopped. All eyes looked at him.

    At this moment, anyone else would feel uncomfortable, nervous.

    But not Li XunHuan.

    Even if he were nervous, it would not appear on his face.

    He still walked calmly. Even if he walked through the imperial palace, it would still be in this fashion. Li XunHuan is simply this type of a person.

    The fattest woman squinted her eyes.

    Her eyes are pretty big, but looked like a thin line when surrounded by so much meat. Her neck might be naturally wide, but it’s almost nonexistent with so much meat on it.

    Sitting there, she looked like a mountain, a mountain of meat.

    Li XunHuan walked in front of her, smiled, and said, “Big Merriment Lady Buddha?”

    This woman’s eyes brightened. She said, “You know who I am?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’ve heard of you for quite a while.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Yet you didn’t run away.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Why would I run away?”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha laughed.

    At first, the laugh seemed normal. But suddenly, her whole body started to shake.

    Everyone in the room shook with her. There was originally a man on her back. But her tremble sprung him off.

    The plates on the table started to vibrate, as if there was an earthquake.

    Thankfully, her laughter stopped quickly. She stared at Li XunHuan, said, “Although I don’t know who you are, I do know your intention.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “You’re here because of Blue Scorpion, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes!”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “She killed one of my favorite disciple. Was it because of you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “You want to save her?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha smiled. She said, “Looks like you’re a pretty decent man. At least it was worth her while to kill my disciple.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha raised her thumb and said, “Blue Scorpion is a remarkable woman. She’s honorable and brave. After killing my disciple, instead of running away, she actually came to see me. I’ve never seen a woman like her. You two really are a match made in heaven.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If you consent to this match, I’d be forever grateful.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “You want to take her away?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “What if I already killed her?”

    Li XunHuan said, “If so… I just might have to avenge her death!”
    Big Merriment Lady Buddha began to laugh again. She said, “You’re not just a decent man, but also quite brave. I truly do not want to kill you.”

    She stretched her leg, and a man sitting on it sprung up. She said to him, “Go, give some wine to this guest.”

    This man wore a colorful purple robe. He’s quite tall, and has heavy makeup on.

    Looking at his stature, and eyes, one can tell that he used to be quite handsome.

    Only to see his hands holding a cup, giving it to Li XunHuan with a smile. He said, “Here’s your wine.”

    Under this circumstance, he can actually smile.

    Li XunHuan sighed in his heart, took the wine, and said, “Thank you.”

    He’s courteous to everyone. For he feels that a person is a person regardless of anythings else. He never likes to harm another person, even if that person’s harming him.

    The cup is very big, bigger than most bowls.

    Li XunHuan drank it in one gulp.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Excellent! A man who can drink wine is a good man. None of my men can match you in drinking ability.”

    That purple-robed man brought another cup to Li XunHuan. He said, “Li Tan Hua can drink thousands of cups without getting drunk. How about another one?”

    Li XunHuan froze.

    This man actually recognized him.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha raised her eyebrows, and said, “You called him ‘Li Tan Hua’? Which ‘Li Tan Hua’ is he?”

    That man said, “There’s only one Li Tan Hua. He is obviously the ‘Little Li’s Flying Dagger’ Li XunHuan.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha froze.

    Everyone’s eyes brightened.

    Little Li’s Flying Dagger!

    In the recent years, few names are more renowned.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha laughed again. She said, “Great. I’ve always heard that Li Tan Hua’s not only brave, but also an excellent drinker. You did not disappoint me. Other than you, I doubt anyone else would dare come here.”

    That man said, “Little Li’s Flying Dagger never misses. Powerful people tend to be brave.”

    Li XunHuan stared at this man’s face. He said, “And you are…”

    That man smiled, said, “Li Tan Hua’s memory is really getting bad. Do you not even recognize your old friend?”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “He might not recognize you, but he should recognize your sword techniques.”

    That man said with a smile, “My sword techniques… I doubt even I can remember my sword techniques.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “You didn’t forget them. Now hurry up and grab your sword.”

    That man’s quite obedient. He went to the back room immediately.

    Although this man’s a bit chubby, he walked pretty fast. In a few seconds, he came back with a sword.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Show him one of your moves.”

    She then threw the half-eaten chicken at this man.

    Only to hear ‘Ding’ sound, the sword sparkled.

    This man shifted his body, the sword came out, flashing through the air.

    The chicken turned into four pieces, all became strung to the sword.

    Li XunHuan said in shock, “Incredible!”

    He never expected this man to pull off such an incredible sword technique, with such incredible speed. The odd thing is, this sword technique looked familiar. As if it had been used against him before.

    This man walked over and said with a smile, “This chicken is quite delicious. Li Tan Hua should taste it.”

    The pieces of chicken rested on a dark jade sword, looked quite appetizing.

    The dark, jade sword shined like a pool of water.

    Li XunHuan gasped. He couldn’t help but let out a yell.

    “Love-Snatching Sword!”

    This man is holding the Love-Snatching Sword!

    Li XunHuan shuddered as he looked at this man. He said, “You LongSheng? Are you really Hidden Sword Mansion’s Young Master You?”

    This man laughed, and said, “We really are old friends. You still haven’t forgotten me.”

    He must’ve laughed too hard, for his makeup began to come off.

    This really is You LongSheng? The same handsome young man just two years ago?

    Li XunHuan couldn’t help but tremble throughout the body. He felt much pity for this young man.

    Yet You LongSheng himself doesn’t seem to care a bit.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Can the chefs at Hidden Sword Mansion make chicken like this?”

    You LongSheng said, “Their chicken taste like wood.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Without me, would you ever get to taste chicken like this?”

    You LongSheng said, “Of course not.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Do you like living with me?”

    You LongSheng said, “I love it.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “If you had a choice, who would you choose, Blue Scorpion, or me?”

    You LongSheng almost crawled to her feet. He said with a bright smile, “Of course my lovely Lady Buddha.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha laughed heartily. She said, “Very good. You really are a smart young man.”

    She suddenly pointed at her own throat, and said, “Come. Let’s give Li XunHuan a demonstration. Stab me right here.”

    You LongSheng said, “I can’t do that. What if I accidentally hurt Lady Buddha. My heart would be broken.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha scolded with a smile, “Little twerp, do you really think you can hurt me? Just stab me.”

    She raised her head, and waited for You LongSheng.

    You LongSheng paused for a moment, his eyes rolled left and right. When suddenly, he said, “Alright!”

    The dark, jade light sparkled, quick as lightning.

    You LongSheng doesn’t have Ah Fei’s speed, but he’s still one of the top swordsmen in the world. Li XunHuan is certainly knowledgeable on his skills.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha just sat there, didn’t move at all. If she were a man, she’d look like a Buddha statue.

    The lightning-quick sword struck her throat!

    End of Chapter 47

  10. #50
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 48: Female Giant

    Not only is You LongSheng’s sword technique very fast, his sword is one of the sharpest weapons in the world.

    Li XunHuan doesn’t believe that any flesh could withstand this attack!

    Only to hear a shout, as You LongSheng bounced back, and landed on a fat woman beside Li XunHuan.

    This woman laughed, and took him into her arms.

    That sword remained on Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s throat.

    Yet Big Merriment Lady Buddha still sat there, still watching Li XunHuan with a big smile.

    Li XunHuan was at a loss for words.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha actually squeezed the sword using the fat on her neck!

    Not only had no one ever saw this type of kung fu, no one had even heard of it.

    Only to hear her say with a smile, “Fat women have their advantages too, don’t you think?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “Normal people certainly cannot match Lady Buddha’s amazing ability.”

    His statement was quite sincere, for no one has much fat as she does.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “I’ve also heard that your flying dagger never misses. Not even my godson could escape it. You must be pretty confident in your dagger, right?”

    Li XunHuan did not respond.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “Because of your dagger, you dared to come in, right?”

    She smiled, and added, “But do you still think you can kill me?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, said, “No.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha laughed. She said, “Do you still want to take Blue Scorpion away?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha frowned, but quickly regained her smile again. She said, “Interesting. You are a very interesting person. How exactly do you plan on taking Blue Scorpion away?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’ll think of a way. I’ll eventually come up with something.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha started laughing again. She said, “Great. Then why don’t you stay here with me, and think.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Since there are so much wine here, I wouldn’t mind staying a while longer.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “But my wine isn’t free.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “What do you want me to do?”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said with a smile, “Before, I thought you looked too old. But the more I look at you, the more I like you. So let’s make a deal. You stay by my side for a few days, and then I’ll let you take Blue Scorpion away.”

    Li XunHuan smiled, and said, “I might not be too old for you, but are certainly too fat for me. If you can shave off a few hundred pounds, I wouldn’t mind accompanying you for a few months. But in your current state…”

    He shook his head, and continued, “I have absolutely no appetite.”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s expression changed greatly. She said coldly, “So you won’t take me on my offer. Fine.”

    She suddenly waved her hand.

    The four women sitting next to Li XunHuan got up.

    Although they’re fat, they’re still nimble. The four quickly surrounded Li XunHuan.

    The ceiling’s fairly low, so Li XunHuan couldn’t jump over them. Nor could he go past them. Looking at these women’s fat, Li XunHuan felt revolted.

    Yet these women are getting closer and closer, as if trying to squeeze him. If he threw the dagger, he could kill one of them, but would not affect the rest.

    If they really squeezed him, Li XunHuan doesn’t even want to know how he’d feel.

    Only to hear Big Merriment Lady Buddha say, “Li XunHuan, I know you can even escape Shaolin’s Luohan Formation, but if you can escape my Meat Formation, then it would really be an accomplishment.

    Her laughter became louder and louder, until the columns holding up the building began to shake.

    Li XunHuan’s eyes brightened, for he suddenly remembered LingLing.

    LingLing did not come up with him.

    She obviously wouldn’t see him die. She must be thinking of a plan…

    At this moment, with a loud crack, the whole building broke apart. Everyone began to fall down with it.

    A small hole appeared in the ceiling at this time.

    Li XunHuan jumped up, and flew out of the hole.

    He thought Big Merriment Lady Buddha would surely fall down. Considering her weight, she’d need quite some time to get up again.

    Who’d have thought that this Big Merriment Lady Buddha has amazing reflex, and first-rate lightness kung fu. As Li XunHuan jumped out, he heard a loud tremble.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha made a bigger hole in the ceiling, and came out like a big balloon, shutting out even the moon’s light.

    Li XunHuan did not look back as he landed in the forest outside,

    Only to hear Big Merriment Lady Buddha laughed, and said, “Li XunHuan. Since I’ve taken a fancy to you, don’t think you can escape.”

    Amidst the laughter, she charged toward Li XunHuan. Li XunHuan felt a huge force from her direction, as if a whole mountain’s falling on top of him.

    His hand suddenly shot out behind him, as a cold streak of light sparkled. Little Li’s Flying Dagger finally came out!

    When the dagger leaves his hand, it will never miss!

    Blood came out of Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s face.

    Li XunHuan did not aim for her throat this time, but rather her right eye. He knew that once the dagger leaves his hand, it would reach its target.

    He’s confident of this.

    Yet Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s laughter did not pause. Her laughter made Li XunHuan’s skin crawl. He couldn’t help but turn around, only to see Big Merriment Lady Buddha still walking towards him. Her face is covered with blood. The dagger remained in her right eye.

    Yet she felt no pain, and was actually laughing. She said, “Don’t think you can escape, Li XunHuan. How many more daggers do you have? Throw them all out. Daggers this tiny, I wouldn’t care if you threw a hundred at me.” She suddenly pulled out that dagger, and began to chew on it with her mouth.

    A dagger made of iron, chewed up into pieces.

    Li XunHuan froze.

    This woman is not human. She is a monster.

    Yet just at this moment, Big Merriment Lady Buddha let out a colossal scream, one that shook the entire forest.

    Li XunHuan saw a dark, jade sword tip appearing from her chest. Afterwards, blood spurted out like a heavy storm.

    Afterwards, he saw You LongSheng holding the Love-Snatching Sword with both hands. The ten-feet sword pierced through Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s back.

    The sword went in from the back, through the heart, and came out of the chest.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha fell to the ground, right on top of You LongSheng.

    Only to hear numerous bones cracking, as You LongSheng’s whole body broke under her. Yet he bit his teeth, not making any sound.

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha breathed heavily, and said, “You… It’s you!”

    You LongSheng said, “You didn’t think it would be me, right?”

    Big Merriment Lady Buddha said, “I treated you quite well, why did you do this to me?”

    Sweat came down You LongSheng’s face, as he spoke while biting his teeth, “The reason I haven’t died, is because I was waiting for this day…”
    He couldn’t speak further, as he could no longer breathe from the weight of her body. Just as darkness crept over his eyes, he felt Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s body rolling off of him.

    Afterwards, he saw those solemn eyes of Li XunHuan. He also felt two hands wiping away the sweat off his face.

    Although these two hands can take a person’s life at any moment, it can also help a person at any moment. Although this hand can hold a lethal dagger, it can also hold a fistful of compassion.

    You LongSheng tried to smile, but failed. He gathered his strength to say, “I’m not You LongSheng.”

    Li XunHuan paused for a moment, then nodded. He said, “You’re not.”

    You LongSheng said, “You LongSheng’s already dead.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I understand.”

    You LongSheng said, “You did not see You LongSheng today.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I just know that he’s my friend. Other than that, I know nothing.”

    You LongSheng finally smiled on the corner of his mouth. He said, “I’m quite honored to have a friend like you. Unfortunately…

    He tried to gather his last breath, and then shouted, “Unfortunately, I could not die in your hands!”

    * * *


    Three new graves appeared in the wood. One is You LongSheng’s. One is Blue Scorpion’s. One is Big Merriment Lady Buddha’s. Her disciples made these graves.

    Her disciples didn’t seem to care much for her death. This Lady Buddha clearly didn’t have the heart of Buddha. She apparently wasn’t loved while alive.

    It was indeed LingLing who crashed the house.

    She was quite proud of herself, “I just loosened a single column, and the whole thing fell apart. Without my quick-thinking, you’d be crushed by now.”

    When she saw that all of Big Merriment’s disciples gone, LingLing was very surprised.

    Why didn’t they try to avenge their master?

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps, while this Lady Buddha tried to fill up their stomachs, she didn’t take the time to care for their hearts.”

    LingLing said, “You’re right. If a person’s too full, he’d be too lazy to care for other things.”

    LingLing pouted, said, “I know you only have Blue Scorpion in your heart. Her waist’s thinner than mine.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You think my heart is only filled with Blue Scorpion?”

    LingLing said, “Of course. You were willing to risk your life for her. Actually, she was long dead. You didn’t have to worry about her.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If she were my friend in life, she’d still be my friend in death.”

    LingLing said, “So… am I your friend?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course.”

    LingLing said, “If you can risk your life for a dead friend, then why haven’t you thought about your live friend?”

    As she spoke, her eyes became redder and redder, and continued, “I have no relatives. Now I don’t even have a home. Are you really going to let me beg for food everyday?”

    Li XunHuan could only laugh in bitterness.

    He found that this little girl’s is getting better at speaking.

    LingLing glanced at him between the cracks in her fingers, said, “Besides, if you don’t take me, how are you going to find my lady? How are you going to find your friend Ah Fei?”

    * * *

    Ah Fei’s drinking soup.

    Beef soup. Very savory, very hot.

    Ah Fei held the bowl with both hands, and sipped it slowly. His eyes stared at the soup, without any expression. As if he can’t even distinguish the soup’s taste.

    Lin XianEr sat beside him, resting her cheek on her hand. She said, “You don’t look too happy these past few days. Drink more soup. This soup is very nutritious, and it won’t taste good when cold.”

    Ah Fei quickly drank the whole bowl.

    Lin XianEr wiped his chin, and said, “Does it taste good?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Do you want another bowl?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    Lin XianEr said, “See, there’s my good boy. You’ve been eating less and less recently. You need more food.”

    The room is quite plain, but the walls were recently painted. Even the kitchen is clean, because they’ve only been living here for two days.

    Lin XianEr got another bowl of soup, and put it in front of Ah Fei. She said with a smile, “Although this place is small, the market’s quite big. Too bad the meat seller bullies the new people. One pound of meat cost me ten coins.”

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “Let’s stop having beef soup tomorrow.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Why? You don’t like it?”

    Ah Fei said, “I love the soup, but we can’t afford it.”

    Lin XianEr smiled. She said gently, “Don’t worry about money. Fox skin is quite popular these days. I got more than twenty-seven taels of silver from your fox hunts last month.

    Ah Fei said, “But those money will be gone. There are no foxes to hunt here.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Let’s not worry about that. Besides, I still have some money saved.”

    Ah Fei said, “I can’t use your money.”

    Lin XianEr’s face turned red. She lowered her head and said, “Why not? I didn’t steal or seize this money. I earned it all by mending other people’s clothes.”

    End of Chapter 48

  11. #51
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 49: Each Person's Own Plan
    As she spoke, tears came down Lin XianEr’s eyes. She said faintly, “You know, I gave away those money from before, just like you asked. You don’t believe me?”

    Ah Fei sighed deeply, and said, “It’s not that I don’t believe you. It’s just that… I should be taking care of you. I can’t let you work.”

    Lin XianEr said in tears, “But we are already so in love. There’s no ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ in our relationship. Even my heart is yours. Don’t you know?”

    Ah Fei closed his eyes, and held her hands tightly in his. If he can only hold onto these hands forever, Ah Fei would never ask for anything else.

    Ah Fei finally went to sleep.

    Lin XianEr removed her hands from his grasp.

    She then walked back to her room. Then from her chest, took out a small jar.

    She poured herself a cup of tea. Then she took out some powder from the jar, and swallowed it. She never forgets to eat this powder everyday.

    Because this powder was made from crushed pearls. A woman supposedly could keep her beauty by eating them.

    Holding the jar in her hand, Lin XianEr chuckled.

    If Ah Fei knew how much this jar of powder is worth, he’d get a good scare.

    She found that men are so easily fooled, especially by the woman they love. That’s why she always found men pitiful, and amusing.

    She has never seen a man who can’t be tricked.

    Perhaps only one… Li XunHuan.

    When she thought of Li XunHuan, Lin XianEr’s mood sank.

    Today should be the fifth day of the tenth month.

    Is Li XunHuan dead yet? Why is there no news?

    Suddenly, footsteps came from afar. Two youngsters, carrying a carriage, walked briskly toward the house. They stopped in front of the front door.

    After a while, Lin XianEr came out quietly. She locked the door and got on the carriage. Then she pulled down the blinds. The blinds aren’t very tight. So she can see outside, but no one could see her.

    The carriage rose from the ground, and sped away.

    By her house is a thick forest, where the leaves still had not fallen. A small temple resided next to the forest. On the right side of it is a barren graveyard.

    The carriage stopped here. The youngster in the front took out a lantern from the bottom of the carriage. He lit the lantern, and held it high above his head. There’s a bright red plum flower sewn on the lantern.

    After the lantern was raised, four shadows, from four different directions, came towards the light.

    All of these four people moved briskly, as if they’re very excited. But they found that they’re not alone, their steps slowed down. Each glanced at one another, their gaze showed caution, as well as some enmity.

    The one who came from the forest is a round-faced middle-aged man. He wore very extravagantly, like a rich merchant.

    But his movement showed powerful inner power.

    Two people came from the graveyard. The one on the right is a small man He looks like a suspicious thief, but his lightness kung fu is definitely first class.

    The one on the left is neither tall nor short, neither fat nor skinny. His clothing is also very ordinary, just like every other part of his appearance.

    But his lightness kung fu is a notch higher than the short man besides him.

    The man who came out of the temple is the youngest, but also looked the most distinguished. Despite utilizing lightness kung fu, he kept his steps heavy. This person certainly has the best kung fu among the four.

    Lin XianEr knew it these four people would come. She didn’t even look out, much less get off the carriage. Lin XianEr only smiled and said, “The four of you have had a long journey. I’m sorry there’s no wine to welcome everyone.”

    When the four heard her voice, they unconsciously began to smile. All wanted to say something first, but after looking at one another, none spoke up.

    Lin XianEr said, “I know all four of you want to speak. Who wants to go first?”

    The plain-looking person had no expression. He seemed to be afraid of going first.

    The blue-robed youngster raised his eyebrows, put his hands behind his back, and turned around. He didn’t think these people are worthy to be next to him. Therefore, he didn’t care to speak first.

    The round-faced middle-aged man smiled, and said to the black-robed man, “Why don’t you go first?”

    That black-robed man didn’t seem to mind, and stepped in front of the carriage.

    Lin XianEr said with a smile, “Since seeing you two months ago, your lightness kung fu has improved greatly. Congratulations.”

    The black-robe man’s nasty-looking face beamed with pride. He said, “Thank you, my lady.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I asked you to do two things. Surely you’ve done both, right?”

    The black-robed man took out a stack of bank notes. He handed them over submissively and said, “I was able to collect on all the accounts. The total is nine thousand eight hundred and fifty taels. The notes are from Shang Xi province’s ‘Double Fortune’ Bank.”

    Lin XianEr’s tender arm reached out of her carriage, and took the bank notes. She seemingly counted the notes first, before speaking in a smile, “I’m really sorry to have troubled you. I wonder how I should repay you.”

    The black-robed man had been staring blankly at the spot Lin XianEr’s arm came out. Only now did he force a laugh and said, “Oh, you don’t need to thank me. Just as long as you can remember me.”

    Lin XianEr said, “What about that storyteller Old Man Sun, and his granddaughter? You must have found their location, right?”

    The black-robed man lowered his head and said, “I had been following them. But after a while, they suddenly disappeared. It’s as if… as if they vanished into thin air.”

    Lin XianEr did not speak.

    The black-robed man smiled lightly and said, “These two people’s movements are quite mysterious. They pretend not to know any kung fu, but that is definitely not the case. If my lady could give me more time, I’ll surely find their whereabouts.”

    Lin XianEr thought for a moment, sighed, and said, “Don’t bother. I didn’t believe you could follow them either. So even though you failed, I don’t blame you. Afterwards I have more things for you to do.”

    The black-robed man let out a sigh of relief, and backed out to the side.

    That round-faced man put his fists together and bowed to the other two people. He said, “My apologies. My apologies.”

    As he spoke, he walked in front of Lin XianEr’s carriage.

    Lin XianEr said with a smile, “Businessmen really do have great manners. You now look like a big boss.”

    This person smiled brightly, and said, “I’m just an underling for my lady. Without my lady’s grace, I am nothing. I do not deserve to be called a boss.”

    Lin XianEr said tenderly, “Worker, boss, what’s the difference? My business is your business. If you keep up the good work, this business will be yours soon.”

    This middle-aged man’s face turned bright red.

    He thanked Lin XianEr over and over, before taking out the bank notes in his pockets, and handed over submissively. He said, “This is last year’s earnings, also in ‘Double Fortune’ Bank’s notes.”

    Lin XianEr said, “You’ve done so much. I’ve always known that you are both honest and hardworking…”

    She had long taken the bank notes, and counted them while she spoke. At this moment, her voice suddenly changed. Without a hint of smile, she said, “How come there’s only six thousand taels?”

    The middle-aged man said, “Six thousand three hundred taels.”

    Lin XianEr said, “What about last year?”

    The middle-aged man said, “Nine thousand four hundred taels.”

    Lin XianEr said, “And the year before last?”

    The middle-aged man wiped away some sweat, and said, “I think it’s… it’s over ten thousand.”

    Lin XianEr snickered, and said, “You really are amazing. You can turn the business smaller and smaller. After a few more years, I can just go ahead and close the shops.”

    The middle-aged man sweated profusely. He stuttered, “In the past two years, satin robes became unpopular. Poplin cloth earnings weren’t great either. But next year will surely be much better.”

    Lin XianEr thought for a while, and then said tenderly, “I know you’ve been through a lot the past two years. You really should go back to your hometown and rest.”

    The middle-aged man’s expression changed dramatically. He said, “But… but the business…”

    Lin XianEr said, “Don’t worry, I’ll put someone else in charge.”

    The middle-aged man’s face was filled with shock and rage. He retreated step by step. Then suddenly, he flew into midair, headed towards the forest.

    After a few steps, a cold light sparkled.

    In the midst of a loud scream, blood splattered on the ground. His body fell to the ground!

    A green, steel sword appeared in the hands of that blue-robed youngster. Blood trickled down the tip.

    That gray-robed man glanced at him, but did not change his expression. He only said, “Good sword move.”

    The blue-robed youngster didn’t even look at him. He cleaned the blood under the bottom of his shoes. Then he did a sword-flower*, before returning the sword to its sheath.

    *Note: Sword-Flower is when the user spins around the sword for show.

    The gray-robed man did not speak further, simply stood there quietly.

    He waited for a long time, until he’s sure the blue-robed youngster would not speak up. Then he walked slowly towards the carriage.

    Perhaps Lin XianEr knew this person couldn’t be moved by sweet words. So she got directly to the point, said, “Is Long Xiao4Yun back at Happy Cloud Manor?”

    The gray-robed man said, “Yes, for almost two weeks now. Not only did Hu BuGui go with him, so did a man with the surname ‘Lu’. I heard he’s a half-brother of Lu FengXian. He also uses double halberd, and should have first-rate kung fu.

    Lin XianEr said, “What about that Hunchback Sun?”

    The gray-robed man said, “He’s still in his shop. This guy really hid his identity well. No one knows anything about him.”
    Li XianEr said, “But I know that you’ll find out eventually. Nothing escapes your eyes.” The gray-robed man smiled, and said, “If my guess is correct, that hunchback is related that storyteller Old Man Sun. Perhaps he’s the ‘A Mountain on his Back, A Mountain He can Crush’ Second Sun from days back.”

    Lin XianEr was at least a bit shocked by this. After thinking some more, she said, “Try to get some more information. Tomorrow…”

    Her voice became softer and softer. The gray-robed man had to get close to hear. After a few sentences, his normally expressionless face beamed brightly. As he left, his steps became livelier.

    Lin XianEr really knows how to command a man around.

    Then, Lin XianEr’s arm came out of the carriage again, and gestured the black-robed man to get closer.

    The black-robed man stood there in a trance.

    Lin XianEr said tenderly, “Come here. I need to say something to you. Tomorrow night…”

    She spoke softly into the black-robed man’s ears.

    The black-robed man smiled brightly, as he nodded, and responded, “Yes… yes… yes… I understand… How can I forget?”

    When he left, he looked three feet taller.

    After he disappeared, that blue-robed youngster walked over, and said coldly, “Miss Lin. You certainly are a busy person.”

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “But what else can I do? They’re not like you. I have to be careful with them.”

    She reached out her hand, and grabbed this youngster’s hand. She said tenderly, “Are you still mad at me?”

    The blue-robed youngster kept his stern face, said, “Ah huh.”
    Lin XianEr chuckled, and said, “Look at you. Just like a little kid. Come onto the carriage. I’ll calm your anger.”

    The blue-robed youngster still wanted to keep his stern face, but couldn’t help smiling.

    At this moment, they suddenly heard a loud scream…

    The scream came from the forest.

    The gray-robed man had already entered the forest, but he backed out at this moment, step by step. As he retreated, blood followed.

    The black-robed man had planned to enter the forest, but he suddenly stopped upon this sight. The gray-robed man fell down by his feet.

    Could he have seen a ghost in the forest?

    A ghost that can kill?

    The black-robed man stuttered a bit, and took out the dagger on his leg. He stared into the dense forest, and asked, “Who are you?”

    No human sound came from the forest. After a while, a person came out.

    This person’s very tall. He wore a large bamboo hat, which covered most of his face. He walked very strangely, and positioned his sword differently from most people. His sword is only leisurely strapped to his waist.

    The sword isn’t long, and isn’t unsheathed.

    This person also doesn’t look very menacing. But when the black-robed man saw this person, his body shook for some unknown reason. Cold sweat came out of his hands.

    This person carried a killer aura.

    Jin WuMing.

    Since Jin WuMing’s still alive, Li XunHuan’s obviously dead.

    Lin XianEr smiled.

    But she only smiled inside. Her face looked incredibly scared. She grabbed onto that youngster tightly, and said, “This person looks really scary. Do you know who he is?”

    The blue-robed youngster forced a smile, said, “It doesn’t matter who he is. As long as I’m here, you don’t need to be scared.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I’m not scared. I know you’ll protect me. As long as I’m by your side, nothing can hurt me.”

    The blue-robed youngster raised his chest and said, “Right. No matter who he is, if he dares to come, I’ll take his life!”

    Actually, he’s incredibly afraid of Jin WuMing’s killer aura. But he’s still young, unwilling to look weak in front of the woman he loves.”

    Jin WuMing walked in front of the black-robed man.

    The black-robed man held his dagger. This dagger had killed countless people before. But at this moment, the dagger could not attack.

    He saw the empty eyes on Jin WuMing’s face.

    Jin WuMing didn’t even seem to notice him. He said coldly, “Can the dagger in your hand kill?”

    The black-robed man froze.

    This question sounded so incredibly stupid. But since someone asked, he had to answer. So he said, “Of course it can kill.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Good. Now come kill me.”

    The black-robed man hesitated for a moment, then said, “We’re not enemies. Why should I kill you?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Because if you don’t kill me, I’ll kill you.”

    The black-robed man backed off a few steps. When suddenly he bit his teeth, and the dagger dashed forward like lightning.

    Right when his dagger came out, a sword sparkled across the darkness.

    Then a loud scream followed. Looking at Jin WuMing again, his sword in its natural position. As if it never moved at all.

    What an incredibly fast sword!

    The blue-robed youngster is famous swordsman. He always felt that his own sword is already very fast. Never did he think that someone else would be faster.

    Until now.

    Lin XianEr saw the tension in the youngster’s muscles. She suddenly let go of her hand, and said, “This person’s sword is too fast. You… you need to run away quickly. Don’t worry about me.”

    If the blue-robed youngster was forty or fifty years old, he’d immediately take Lin XianEr’s advice. If a person lived to be that old, he would know that life is more important than face. Should someone ever say, ‘Life is precious, but love is more precious.’ Then that person must be a young person.

    Anyone who says this phrase would never live till fifty.

    The blue-robed youngster bit his teeth, and yelled, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him!”

    There’s not much determination in his words. So he didn’t attack.

    Lin XianEr said, “No… you can’t die. You have your parents, wife, and children to think about. Get away while you can. I’ll shield you as much as I can. I have no relatives. So no one would care if I die.”

    The blue-robed youngster let out a loud roar, and dashed forward.

    Lin XianEr smiled.

    If a woman wants a man to risk his life for her, the best way is to let him know that she loves him. That she would risk her life for him.

    Lin XianEr used this method countless times. It never failed.

    This time, not only is she smiling inside, but also on her face.

    Because she knew that this blue-robed youngster would never see the smile again.

    This youngster not only has incredible sword skills, but also an incredible sword.

    In an instant, he attacked Jin WuMing five times. But he said no words, realizing that words are pointless against this man.

    Jin WuMing did not attack.

    Each of these five strikes aimed at Jin WuMing’s vital spots. But all missed.

    Jin WuMing suddenly said, “You are in the Dian Cang Sect?”

    The blue-robed youngster froze. The sixth strike would not come out.

    He doesn’t know how this person could see through his master’s unique sword art.

    Jin WuMing said, “What’s your relationship with Xie TianLing?”

    The blue-robed youngster said, “He’s… he’s my master.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I already killed Guo SongYang.”

    This sentence seemingly came out of the thin air. As it did not appear related to this conversation.

    But this blue-robed youngster knew exactly what he meant.

    End of Chapter 49

  12. #52
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 50: Trap of Tenderness

    Xie TianLing is the head of the Dian Cang Sect. He’s called the ‘First Sword South of Heaven’. He has never met a match in life, except losing three times to Guo SongYang. And he lost every time without argument.

    If this person could kill Guo SongYang, then he’s obviously also better than Xie TianLing. A disciple of Xie TianLing surely would not be his match.

    The blue-robed youngster’s face sunk.

    Anyone could see that Jin WuMing is not one who exaggerates.

    Jin WuMing said, “I can kill you in one blow. Do you believe me?”

    The blue-eyed youngster bit his lips, but did not respond.

    Only to see the sparkle of a sword flash by, Jin WuMing’s sword came out of nowhere.

    The cold sword tip reached the blue-robed youngster’s throat.

    Jin WuMing said, “I can kill you in one blow. Do you believe me?”

    Sweat poured down the blue-robed youngster’s face. He bit his lips so hard blood came out. But he yelled, “Why don’t you just kill me?”

    Jin WuMing said, “You want to die?”

    The blue-robed youngster yelled, “A true man’s not afraid of death. Go ahead and kill me.”

    Jin WuMing said, “If I didn’t want to kill you, would you still want to die?”

    The blue-robed youngster froze.

    If he didn’t have to, who would possibly want to die?

    Jin WuMing said, “I know you want to die for her. So she would think that you’re a hero. But if you do die, would she really still like you?”

    He continued coldly, “If she died, would you still love her?”

    The blue-robed youngster couldn’t answer.

    He felt the cold tip of the sword leaving his throat.

    He felt like an idiot.

    Jin WuMing said, “In a woman’s eyes, a hundred dead heroes, wouldn’t compare to a live coward. Just as in your eyes, a hundred dead beautiful women, wouldn’t compare to a live woman… Do you not understand this?”

    The blue-robed youngster wiped some sweat off his face. He said, “I understand.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Do you still want to die?”

    The blue-robed youngster said with a red face, “Living isn’t a bad thing.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Good. You finally understand.”

    He continued, “I usually never like to be wordy. Yet I talked a great deal today, just so you can understand this… Only after you understand this, can I kill you.”

    The blue-robed youngster suddenly asked, “You want to kill me?”

    Jin WuMing said, “My rule is that I only ask questions, not answer them. But I do make an exception to those about to die.”

    The blue-robed youngster said, “But… but if you want to kill me, then why say all those things?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Because I never kill those who wants to die… If you wanted to die, then I would feel no pleasure in killing you.”

    The blue-robed youngster let out a loud roar, he attacked with his sword.

    His roar was incredibly short. Because just as he raised his hand, Jin WuMing’s sword had already entered his mouth. The icy cold tip passed by his tongue.

    It’s a bit salty.

    He finally tasted death.

    The sword reentered its sheath.

    Jin WuMing has a very good habit. He also puts his sword back into the sheath immediately after use. As if he doesn’t plan on using it in the near future.

    Because he knew that when people see his sword in a sheath, they’d be more careless.

    He likes careless people. They tend to die faster.

    Lin XianEr stared at him this whole time, examining his every move. Her face carried a tender smile, like a young girl looking at her lover.

    Jin WuMing never even looked at her.

    Lin XianEr put on her sexiest pose, yet he still didn’t look at her.

    Although Lin XianEr’s still smiling, she began to feel uneasy.

    She felt that something’s wrong.

    Everyone she’s slept with would stare her at every opportunity. But this person’s eyes seemed to be avoiding her like poison.

    The two people holding the carriages stared at her like their eyes are about to pop. They didn’t even notice the lightning quick sword flash by.

    As the two screamed, Jin WuMing’s sword had returned to the sheath.

    He’s now standing in front Lin XianEr.

    But his cold, dead eyes still gazed into the distance.

    There’s only darkness in the distance.

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “Why won’t you look at me. Are you afraid that after seeing me, you won’t be able to kill me?”

    Jin WuMing’s muscles by his lips twitched. After a long time, he finally said, “You know that I’m here to kill you?”

    Lin XianEr nodded and said, “I know… No matter how cold, how ruthless a person. When he has to kill the person he loves, his expression would seem different.

    She smiled, and continued, “I just want to ask you one question. Since I’m about to die, surely you would answer my question, right?”

    Jin WuMing remained silent for a long time, before he finally said, “Ask. In front of those about to die, I never lie.”

    Lin XianEr stared into his expressionless face, and asked, “I just want to ask you one thing. Who asked you to kill me? And why?”

    Jin WuMing tightened his fist, and said loudly, “No one else. No reason.”

    Lin XianEr said, “There must be someone else… because you can’t possibly want to kill me.” She laughed, in a very cold manner. Afterwards, she said faintly, “I know you love me, and would never want to hurt me.”

    Jin WuMing tightened his fist even more. One can almost hear the bone cracking.

    But his face remained expressionless. Jin WuMing asked, “You really know? You are certain?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes. I’m certain. If you don’t love me, then you wouldn’t have killed these people.”

    Jin WuMing actually didn’t cut her off. He let her continue.

    Lin XianEr said, “You killed them… because you are jealous of them.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Jealous?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Anyone who touched me, or even saw me, you want to kill. That’s jealousy. If you didn’t love me, why would you be jealous?”

    Jin WuMing’s face turned pure white. He said coldly, “I just know that I want to kill you. If I want to kill someone, then that person will not live!”

    Lin XianEr said, “If you really want to kill me, then why won’t you look at me? You’re afraid?”

    Jin WuMing’s hand held his sword tightly. Even with the dim moonlight, one can see sweat coming down his forehead.

    Cold sweat.

    Lin XianEr stared at his face. She then said slowly, “If you can’t even look at me, even if you kill me, you’ll regret it.”

    She reached out her hand, testing his reaction.

    Jin WuMing did not move.

    Lin XianEr’s hand finally grabbed his. Then she threw herself into his chest, and said, “If you can’t make up your mind, then take me to him.”

    Her hands are very soothing, and know when to stop.

    Jin WuMing’s breathing was very fast, obviously quite nervous. He said, “Who… who do you want to see?”

    Lin XianEr said, “The person who asked you to kill me. I know I can change his mind…”
    She bit his ear softly and said, “Don’t worry, you won’t regret this decision.”

    Jin WuMing still didn’t look at her. But he did turn his head, towards the dark forest.

    Lin XianEr rolled her eyes and whispered, “He’s in that forest?”

    Jin WuMing did not respond. He didn’t have to.

    Lin XianEr said tenderly, “Alright. I’ll go see him now. If he still won’t let me go, then you can kill me.”

    Only after she turned around, did he finally see her back. In the midst of those gray, dead eyes, for the first time, was emotion.

    But what kind of emotion? Happiness? Sadness? Hatred?

    He doesn’t even know himself.

    There’s no light within the forest.

    Although Lin XianEr did not walk very fast, she still almost bumped into someone.

    This person just stood there, like a mountain, an ice mountain.

    Lin XianEr could’ve avoided him, but she didn’t do this. Her whole body fell into his chest.

    This person did not try to help her up.

    Lin XianEr caught her breath, and regained her balance. She said, “It’s really dark here… terribly sorry.”

    She’s only about a feet from this person. She believes that this person can smell her breath. She believes that it will move this person’s heart.

    But this person simply said calmly, “Did you use this method to make Jin WuMing not kill you?”

    Lin XianEr said, “So you’re the one who wants to kill me? You are Clan Leader ShangGuan?”

    This person said, “Yes. I can also tell you, that this method doesn’t work on me.”

    His tone was not cold, nor vicious, but simply very even, without any emotion. All his words sound like he’s reading a book.

    Lin XianEr said, “Then what method does work against you?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “If you have more techniques, feel free to try them all.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I know you’re not someone who’s easily moved by women. But why do you want Jin WuMing to kill me?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “A trained killer cannot have emotions. It’s not easy to train an absolutely ruthless killer. I don’t want him ruined because of you.”

    Lin XianEr laughed. She said, “But if you have him kill me, then your losses would be even bigger.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Really?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because I’m much more useful than Jin WuMing.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Really?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Jin WuMing only knows how to kill. I know how to kill too. He has to kill with a sword, and cause blood to drip. I can kill without a weapon, and without blood.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “But he can kill faster than you.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Sometimes it’s better to kill slowly, don’t you think?”

    ShangGuan JinHong thought for a long time, before asking, “Other thank killing, what else are you good for?”

    Lin XianEr said, “I also have money. So much money I can’t even count. Too much for me to ever spend.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “This is indeed a very good thing.”

    There seem to be a hint of a smile within his words, because he knows very well the usefulness of money.

    Lin XianEr said, “I’m also very smart. I can help you with a lot of things.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You’re right. A dumb person could never be rich.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Other than those things, I can also offer you something else…”

    Her voice suddenly lowered to a whisper, as she said with a smile, “As long as you are a man. You can find out very quickly that I’m right.”

    After thinking for a moment, ShangGuan JinHong said, “I am a man.”

    A fog appeared in the forest.

    Jin WuMing’s whole body was covered by this fog.

    He still stood there motionless. As if he’s just a piece of wood.

    The fog was very thick. So one can’t see anything.

    What’s that noise? Moaning? Or gasping for breath?

    Lin XianEr said, “It’s almost dawn. I need to get back.”

    ShangGuan JinHong asked, “Why?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Someone is waiting for me.”

    ShangGuan JinHong asked, “Who?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Ah Fei. Surely you’ve heard of him.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “I’m just surprised that you haven’t killed him yet. You take way too much time.”

    Lin XianEr said, “I can’t kill him, nor dare to.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Why?”

    Lin XianEr said, “If I kill him, then Li XunHuan would surely kill me.”

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly stopped talking.

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “I know you didn’t kill you Li XunHuan, or you wouldn’t have Jin WuMing kill me. Because you need Jin WuMing against Li XunHuan, you need him in peak condition.”

    ShangGuan JinHong thought for a long time, before he said, “You really fear Li XunHuan that much?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Oh, I am terrified of him.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Do you fear him more than me?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Yes. He’s worse than you. Because I have ways to move your heart, but not his.”

    She sighed, and added, “He doesn’t want anything. That’s what makes him so dangerous.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “He’s also human. He must have a weakness.”

    Lin XianEr said, “His only weakness is Lin ShiYin. But I can’t use Lin ShiYin to threaten him.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Why?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because I have no confidence of success. Whenever I see him holding the dagger, I’d lose all confidence in myself.”

    She took a deep breath, and said, “As long as he’s alive, I can’t do anything to Ah Fei.”

    ShangGuan JinHong thought for a long time, before he said, “Don’t worry. He won’t live for long.”

    End of Chapter 50

  13. #53
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 51: Peculiar Scene

    The fog disappeared.

    Jin WuMing still stood there motionless. His dead, gray eyes focused on a dew falling off the side of his hat.

    He didn’t seem to notice ShangGuan JinHong walking out the forest alone.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn’t look at him either. He just walked casually past Jin WuMing, and said leisurely, “There’s fog today. It must be a good day.”

    Jin WuMing hesitated for a moment, then said, “There’s fog today. It must be a good day.”

    He finally turned around, and walked in sync behind ShangGuan JinHong. One in the front, one in the back, both disappeared into the fog.

    * * *

    The street is very crowded, almost as much as the Sky Bridge* in the capital city. There are all sorts of things to buy here. It’s still not noon yet, but vendors have already setup booths all over the street. There are all sorts of snacks, all sorts of circus acts, and all sorts of customers.

    *Note: Sky Bridge is a location in old Beijing famous for its circus atmosphere.

    LingLing was almost blinded by the sight. She has never been this happy before.

    After all, she is still a kid.

    She never expected Li XunHuan to take her to this place.

    So there is an inner child in his heart.

    Seeing Li XunHuan holding a candy gourd*, LingLing wanted to laugh.

    *Note: This is a popular Chinese snack. I don’t know the exact process for making it, but I think gourd is first hardened, then dipped into molasses, and lastly stacked onto a stick.

    They just bought these candy gourds, quite a few sticks of them. Shiny red gourds stuck on a stick, like big, red jewels.

    All girls love jewels. LingLing bought every single one the seller had. Too bad she only has two hands, and couldn’t carry all of them.

    A girl would never feel that she has bought too much of something.

    Li XunHuan had to carry some for her.

    Actually, he has also bought candy gourds himself. But that was a long time ago. At that time, he still didn’t know about grief, about worry.

    What about now?

    He is certainly worried about something. He has been staring at a person, staring for a long time.

    This person walked in front of him. He wore a dirty robe, a pair of straw sandals. On his head is a straw hat. This person never looked up, as if he didn’t want to see anyone.

    He walked like a hunchback, but has wide shoulders. Should he straighten up, this man would look quite imposing.

    Even so, this person doesn’t look all that extraordinary. At best he’s a destitute martial arts practitioner. Possibly he’s just a beggar.

    Yet Li XunHuan noticed him with the first gaze.

    No matter where he went, Li XunHuan followed. That’s why they are now on this street.

    Oddly enough, Li XunHuan isn’t the only person following this man.

    Li XunHuan originally planned to catch up, to see this man’s face. When suddenly, he saw another person following behind the beggar.

    This person’s very skinny, very tall, and has light steps. Despite his ordinary clothing, the man’s eyes shined brightly, full of energy.

    Li XunHuan knew this man’s no ordinary person.

    He didn’t seem to notice Li XunHuan, though. He concentrated fully on the beggar. When the beggar walked faster, he would walk faster. When the beggar slowed down, he would slow down. When the beggar stopped, he would stop. And pretend to straighten his clothes, or adjust his shoes. But his eyes would never leave the beggar.

    He certainly is an expert at spying.

    So why would he spy on a beggar?

    What’s the point? What’s his relationship with the beggar?

    The beggar didn’t seem to notice that he’s being followed. He continued to walk slowly, without ever turning around.

    If someone gives him some money, he’d take it. Otherwise, he never bothered to beg for any.

    LingLing’s eyeballs moved continuously. She suddenly grabbed Li XunHuan’s sleeves and asked, “Are we following that beggar?”

    This little girl really is clever.

    Li XunHuan nodded, and whispered, “That’s why we must speak quietly.”

    LingLing said, “Who is he? Why are we following him?”

    Li XunHuan said, “This doesn’t concern you.”

    LingLing said, “That’s why I have to ask you. If you won’t tell me, I’ll ask loudly again.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “He looks like an old friend of mine.”

    LingLing was surprised. She said, “Your old friend? Is he a member of the Beggar’s Clan?”

    Li XunHuan said, “No.”

    LingLing said, “Then who is he?”

    Li XunHuan said with a sullen face, “You wouldn’t know his name even if I told you.”

    LingLing remained silent for a while, when she suddenly said, “There’s someone else following the beggar too. Do you see him?”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “You are quite observant.”

    LingLing also chuckled, and said, “So who is he? Is he also one of your friends?”

    Li XunHuan said, “No.”

    LingLing said, “Really? So is he your friend’s enemy?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps…”

    LingLing said, “Then why don’t you warn your friend?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “My friend’s quite strange. He never likes for anyone to help him.”

    LingLing said, “But…”

    She didn’t finish this sentence.

    Because she was busy looking at something, looking very intently.

    This street is quite long. They’ve only walked about half its length.

    The beggar walked in front of a wonton seller.

    Near them, a person was selling wine carried on his shoulder-pole. Several people were drinking by the wine seller. One is a blind fortune-teller, his face quite pale.

    On the opposite end of the street stood a burly green-robed man.

    A person, carrying two cases of smelly-tofu on his shoulder-pole, walked over there.

    There’s also a very tall married-woman. She had been examining makeup and sewing items. But at this moment, she looked up. One of her eyes has been blinded.

    When the beggar walked close…

    The wine seller suddenly lowered his shoulder-pole.

    The blind fortune-teller lowered his wine cup.

    The burly green-robed man walked out from where he stood.

    The one-eyed woman turned around abruptly, almost knocking down the makeup items besides her.

    In addition to that tall, skinny follower, these people surrounded the beggar.

    The smelly-tofu seller suddenly walked in front of the beggar, blocking his path!

    There are many other people on the street. But these few people are quite noticeable. Even LingLing realized that something’s wrong. Li XunHuan’s face sank. He had long thought that the beggar was Tie ChuanJia. Now there’s no doubt.

    He must be very careful.

    He knew that these people harbored deep hatred for Tie ChuanJia. They must’ve planned this ambush in detail. Leaving no chance for Tie ChuanJia to escape. If they knew someone could help Tie ChuanJia, they might decide to kill him immediately.

    Even if it costs him his life, Li XunHuan would not let any harm come towards Tie ChuanJia. He doesn’t owe favors to many people in this world. Tie ChuanJia is one of the few.

    Li XunHuan cannot lose a friend like him.

    At this moment, those people had surrounded the beggar.

    In a flash, three sharp daggers leaned on the beggar’s body. The people besides them realized what’s going on, and dispersed.

    No one wants to get involved in these sorts of things.

    Only to hear the blind fortune-teller say coldly, “Come with us. Don’t say a single word. Understand?”
    The burly green-robed man said, “Follow orders, and you might live a bit longer. Do something rash, and you just might die immediately.

    The beggar responded quite slowly. Only now did he nod.

    The one-eyed married-woman gave him a push from behind. She said, “Start walking. What are you waiting for?”

    With this push, the straw hat on the beggar came off, showing his face.

    The face looked quite yellow, as if he just recovered from a serious illness. His nose was red and crooked. His mouth widened, smiling foolishly at these people.

    This person is Tie ChuanJia? Of course not. He looked more like a retard.

    Li XunHuan wanted to laugh.

    The one-eyed married-woman was absolutely fuming. She yelled, “Fifth brother. How did this happen?”

    The tall, skinny man’s face turned pale. He said, “But… I was sure he’s Tie ChuanJia. I never let him out of my sight. How could… this have happened?”

    The burly green-robed man slapped the beggar across the face, and yelled, “Who are you?”

    The beggar still smiled foolishly. He said, “I’m me. You’re you. Why did you hit me?”

    The wine seller said, “Perhaps he’s Tie ChuanJia in disguise. Let’s try to peel off his mask.”

    The blind fortune-teller suddenly said, “No need. This person is not Tie ChuanJia.”

    Only this blind man’s face remained calm and cold.

    The burly green-robed man said, “Second brother, did you recognize his voice?”

    The blind man said, “Tie ChuanJia would rather die than let you slap him.”

    The tall, thin man said, “This person must’ve been in cahoots with Tie ChuanJia. They switched places somehow, so Tie ChuanJia could escape.”

    The one-eyed married-woman yelled angrily, “How could you let him get away like that?”

    The tall, thin man lowered his head, and said, “Perhaps… when he was at the restroom. After all, I can’t exactly…”

    The burly green-robed man yelled, “So you’re a buddy of Tie ChuanJia. I’m going to kill you.”

    He raised a shoulder-pole, about to strike down upon the beggar.

    At this moment, Li XunHuan absolutely has to interfere.

    This beggar may or may not be a real retard. He may or may not be Tie ChuanJia’s friend. But even so, he at least helped out Tie ChuanJia. So Li XunHuan can’t let him die.

    Besides, Li XunHuan also wanted Tie ChuanJia’s information from this man.

    Li XunHuan’s body dashed forward.

    But immediately afterward, he stopped. This start-and-stop motion was quick as a flash. No one could actually tell that he had moved.

    He no longer needed to interfere.

    With a loud crack, the green-robed man’s shoulder-pole broke in two. He almost lost his balance, and stuttered.

    No one saw what exactly broke the shoulder-pole. Everyone’s expression changed. They all yelled, “Who dares to interfere?”

    A person standing by the edge of a store said calmly, “Me.”

    Everyone turned their heads toward him, only to see a man wearing a robe white as jade. His hands together behind his back. As he examined a birdcage at the front of the store.

    The birds in the cage chirped.

    This white-robed man seemed to find birds more amusing than people. He didn’t even look towards these vengeful people.

    There’s a bit of wrinkle by his eyes. But with his dashing eyebrows, his jade-white face, this man is very much a handsome gentleman. No one can tell his age.

    The burly green-robed man yelled, “So you broke my shoulder-pole?”

    This time, the white-robed man didn’t even bother to respond.

    The burly green-robed man and the one-eyed married-woman were both furious. They wanted to attack this gentleman.

    Suddenly, that blind fortune-teller said, “Stop.”

    He then picked up an ingot of silver from the ground, and said coldly, “Although this gentleman broke your shoulder-pole, his ingot can buy you hundreds of these shoulder-poles. You should thank him for his generosity, rather than get angry.”

    The burly green-robed man looked at the shoulder-pole in his hand, then at the ingot in the blind man’s hand. He didn’t seem to believe that the tiny ingot could break his shoulder-pole.

    The white-robed man suddenly began to laugh. He said, “Good. Looks like you’re wiser than those who can actually see. You can keep the silver.”

    The blind fortune-teller said coldly, “My eyes may be blind, but not my heart. I don’t take anything that’s not rightfully mine.”

    He rubbed the ingot in his hands, and said, “A penny worth of silver is enough to buy a new shoulder-pole. This ingot weighs at least ten taels. Surely you don’t need to give us this much money.”

    As he spoke, he rubbed the ingot into a tiny little stick. With a twist from his left hand, a small piece came off. The blind fortune-teller said coldly, “Thanks for this penny’s worth of silver. You can keep the rest.”

    His hand waved, a silver light streaked through the air. The tiny silver stick shot towards the white-robed man. Amazingly, this throw incorporated Wu Dang’s ‘Double-Virtue Sword Art’.

    As the light streaked, it aimed at five different pressure points in front of the white-robed man’s chest.

    Just as the silver stick reached the white-robed man’s chest, he suddenly nipped the stick with his right hand. The two fingers that caught it then calmly came together, and cut off a piece of the stick.

    The white-robed man said calmly, “Your sword art is quite good. But just a bit too slow.”

    With each word, he took another cut at the stick. After he finished this sentence, fourteen pieces of silver dropped to the ground.

    LingLing had been watching from far away. She couldn’t help but gasp, and said, “Is this man’s hand really made of meat?”

    Looking at the small piece of silver in the blind man’s hand, everyone’s face turned gray. No one could speak up.

    The white-robed man said coldly, “Once I threw out the ingot, it was yours. How come you won’t pick it up?”

    The blind fortune-teller suddenly bent down, and picked up the pieces of silver. Then without a single word, he turned around and left.

    His companions left with him.

    LingLing said with a smile, “At least they know when to leave.”

    Li XunHuan remained sullen. He suddenly said, “Do you see that dumpling restaurant?”

    LingLing said, “Of course. I’ve wanted to taste their dumplings for a while now.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Good. Wait for me over there.”

    LingLing hesitated for a moment, then said, “You’re chasing after that beggar?”

    That beggar began to walk forward again. He did not thank the white-robed man, nor looked at anyone else.

    It’s as if nothing had happened.

    Li XunHuan nodded, and said, “I need to ask him something.”

    LingLing lowered her head, and said, “I can’t come with you?”

    Li XunHuan said, “No.”

    LingLing was on the verge of tears. She said, “I know what you’re doing. You’re going to leave me here alone.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said tenderly, “I want to taste their dumplings too. Why would I not come back?”

    LingLing said, “Alright. I trust you. If you lie, I’ll wait for you here forever.”

    The beggar didn’t walk very fast.

    But Li XunHuan isn’t in a hurry to catch him, either. There are way too many people on this street.

    It’s never convenient to talk with so many people around. Besides, he realized that the white-robed man had been examining him. As if he’s more interesting than those birds.

    Li XunHuan also wanted to meet this white-robed man. The whole cutting of silver with his fingers really caught Li XunHuan’s attention.

    Not many people have this type of ability.

    Actually, Li XunHuan had never seen such power with any person’s hands. LingLing’s description is very apt.

    This person’s hand does not look like it’s made of meat.

    Any martial arts expert, upon meeting someone like him, would want to do two things. Either challenge him, or have a drink with him.

    On an ordinary day, Li XunHuan would be no exception.

    But not today. He has been looking for Tie ChuanJia for a while now. He cannot pass up this lead.

    The white-robed man walked toward Li XunHuan. As if wishing to block his path.

    Thankfully, the dispersed crowd came to gather around the white-robed man. They wanted to meet this amazing person. Li XunHuan took this opportunity to sneak away.

    When he looked up again, that beggar had reached the end of the street. He turned left.

    This new road has a lot less people. And is a lot shorter.

    Li XunHuan hurried forward, but couldn’t see the beggar as he turned. Li XunHuan searched the street following this one. Again, he saw no one.

    How could the beggar disappear?

    Li XunHuan slowed down, and began to search carefully.

    On this street are only back doors of households. A man seemed to be sitting in front of a door. He’s rubbing something on his chest.

    Before Li XunHuan could see the face, he saw the straw hat.

    So that’s where the beggar went.

    What’s he doing?

    Li XunHuan didn’t want to scare the beggar. So he walked over slowly.

    But that beggar was still scared. He quickly tried to hide the item in his hand.

    Too bad Li XunHuan’s eyes are faster than his hands. He saw that the beggar held a piece of silver. One of the pieces the white-robed man cut off.

    Li XunHuan smiled, and said, “May I ask for the name of this friend?”

    The beggar stared at him for a moment, then said, “I’m not your friend. You’re not my friend. I don’t know you. You don’t know me.”

    Li XunHuan still smiled. He said, “I want to ask you about someone. I’m sure you would know him.”

    End of Chapter 51

  14. #54
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 52: Trap

    That beggar shook his head and said, “I don’t know anyone. Anyone don’t know me. I don’t know a single person. Not a single person knows me.”

    This person must be a bit retarded. Otherwise, why would he make a simple response so wordy?

    Just when Li XunHuan wanted to ask him something else, the beggar suddenly ran away.

    He ran quite fast, but doesn’t look like he knows lightness kung fu. It seems that all beggars can run really fast. It’s like an innate skill for them.

    Obviously, Li XunHuan could run faster.

    As the beggar ran, he said, “What do you want? Do you want to take my silver?”

    That beggar then yelled, “Help! Help! A bandit is trying to take my money!”

    Thankfully, this is a deserted street. Or Li XunHuan would not know what to do. After all, if one would take money from a beggar, then what would he be? An eighth-rate bandit?

    Li XunHuan said, “I’m not going to take your money. But if you can answer some of my questions, you can get an even bigger ingot of silver.”

    That beggar contemplated for a while, then nodded. He said, “Fine. What do you want to know?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Do you know a person called Tie ChuanJia?”

    The beggar shook his head and said, “I don’t know anyone. Why would a beggar have friends?”

    Li XunHuan said, “If so, why did you help him?”

    The beggar shook his head again, and said, “I’ve never helped anyone. No one has ever helped me.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So you’ve never met a tall, muscular man today, with dark skin and a long beard?”

    The beggar thought for a while, then said, “I might have.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Where?”

    The beggar said, “In the restroom.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Restroom?”

    The beggar said, “The restroom is where you go take a poop. I was in the middle of a poop, when he suddenly walked in. He asked if I wanted some wine money.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Who wouldn’t want some wine money?”

    The beggar said, “But I saw that his clothing looked worse than mine. How could he have money to give me?”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “The richer a person is, the more he wants to act poor. Don’t you know this?”

    The beggar also smiled. He said, “You’re right. That guy really did have money. Once he showed me his ingot of silver, I asked how I could earn it.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So what did he say?”

    The beggar said, “I thought he’d ask me to do something difficult. But he only wanted to exchange clothes. Then I would lower my head and walk forward. No matter what, I’m supposed to keep my head down.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “This really is an easy way to make money.”

    This time he smiled within his heart too. It’s nice to know that Tie ChuanJia could now come up with such a nice scheme.

    That beggar was even happier. He said, “I know. That’s why I figured that guy’s brain must have some problems.”

    Li XunHuan said, “My brain also has some problems. It’s even easier to get my silver.”

    The beggar said, “Really?”

    Li XunHuan took out all the silver in his robe. When he left his home, Tie ChuanJia purposely left him some money for basic needs. This is how Li XunHuan managed to live for all these years.

    The beggar’s eyes brightened considerably at the sight of the money.

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “If you can lead me to that man with brain problems, I’ll give you all these silver.”

    The beggar immediately said, “Ok. I’ll take you to him. But you have to give me the money first.”

    Li XunHuan held out his hand to give the silver.

    He’ll give his heart to find Tie ChuanJia.

    That beggar was literally drooling at the silver. He reached out, while chuckling, “You must’ve stole these silver. Why else would you give them away so easily?”

    When he took the money, he obviously got to touch Li XunHuan’s hands.

    Just as his hands touched Li XunHuan’s, his five fingers suddenly reached out, and bent down…

    Li XunHuan felt a pair of iron hoops entangle his wrist.

    Then, he landed face up on the ground.

    This beggar’s speed is amazing. His simple movements also utilized four powerful martial arts in the process.

    Just as his fingers touched Li XunHuan’s, he used a powerful orthodox absorption inner power. Anyone caught would never leave his grasp.

    Afterwards, he used Wu Dang’s seventy-two road Hand-Snatch, snatching one of Li XunHuan’s main artery. Anyone snatched this way would lose all his strength.

    Then, he used Bone-Separation-Hand to separate Li XunHuan’s bones.

    Finally, he used a wrestling technique from China’s outer regions. Anyone who got picked up, then slammed down, would never be able to get up.

    The beggar used all four techniques flawlessly, at peak power.

    Even if Li XunHuan realized that he’s no ordinary beggar, he wouldn’t have believed that the beggar’s kung fu would be so amazing. Even if Li XunHuan could figure out that he’s a top-level fighter, Li XunHuan would never expect this man to attack without warning.

    Li XunHuan had never been this shocked before.

    Li XunHuan lied on the ground like a dead fish. He was so dizzy he almost lost consciousness. By the time he finally figured out what’s going on, the beggar came to his side. He reached out with one hand and grabbed Li XunHuan’s throat. With a big smile on his face.

    Who is he? Why did he do this to me?”

    Had he long known who I am?

    What’s his relationship with Tie ChuanJia?

    Li XunHuan had so many questions in his mind. But he asked none of them.

    In this situation, he figured that it would be better to stay quiet.

    But the beggar spoke. He said with a smile, “Why don’t you speak?”

    Li XunHuan also smiled, and said, “If your neck was grabbed, what could you possibly say?”

    The beggar said, “If someone ambushed me like this, then grabbed my neck like this, I’d curse eighteen generations of his ancestors.”

    Li XunHuan said, “My eyes are not blind, yet could not see that your martial arts are incredible. Even if I were to curse, I’d first curse myself.”

    That beggar chuckled, shook his head, and said, “You really are an odd fellow. I’ve never seen anyone like you. If you speak some more, I’d probably blush!”

    He suddenly yelled, “This person’s not only honorable, but also good person. This type of person annoys me the most. If don’t scram out here now, I’m going to leave.”

    So he had helpers.

    Li XunHuan couldn’t figure out who his helpers are. Then, the door besides them opened. Seven people came out. Li XunHuan was really shocked to see who they were.

    He never thought these people are actually the beggar’s helpers.

    The first person was the blind fortune-teller.

    Then, the one-eyed woman, the burly green-robed man, the guy selling smelly-tofu…

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “Great plan, great plan. I’m very impressed.”

    The blind man said coldly, “You’re too kind.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So this had absolutely nothing to do with Tie ChuanJia.”

    The blind man said, “That’s not totally true, except…”

    The beggar cut in, “Except I never saw Tie ChuanJia, nor know who he is. That show we just put up was for you.”

    Li XunHuan smiled bitterly, and said, “And an excellent show it was.”
    The blind man said, “Otherwise, how could we have fooled Li Tan Hua?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Oh, so you knew who I am, and knew that I came into this city.”

    The blind man said, “Someone saw you even before you entered this city.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But how come you would recognize me?”

    The blind man said, “We might not recognize you, but someone else did.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If you all don’t know me, then why put on this show for me?”

    The blind man said, “Because of Tie ChuanJia!”

    His expression suddenly turned very venomous, as he continued, “We’ve been searching him for a while now. But we couldn’t find him. However, if he knew that Li Tan Hua is with us, he’ll come looking for us.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “What if he doesn’t come?”

    The blind man said coldly, “You’ll never ignore him in time of need, just as he won’t ignore you in time of need. We’re certain that he’ll arrive, or we wouldn’t have used this plan.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I must applaud you for this brilliant plan.”

    The blind man said, “If I were clever enough to come up with this plan, then perhaps I wouldn’t be blind today.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You didn’t come up with this plan?”

    The blind man said, “No.”

    The beggar said, “I didn’t come up with this plan either. I have a strange problem. Every time I think about hurting others, my head starts to hurt.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So someone else is behind all this…”

    The blind man said, “You don’t have to ask for his name. Because you’ll see him soon enough.”

    He sealed Li XunHuan’s pressure point with his staff, and added coldly, “Once you see him, you might feel that living in this world is pointless, and that death might be a better alternative.”

    * * *

    The door is quite small. The wall is quite high.

    No sound came from inside the courtyard.

    Then came a hearty laugh, as someone said, “So have you already managed to invite my brother here?”

    Li XunHuan froze upon hearing this voice.

    This is Long Xiao4Yun’s voice.

    So he was the mastermind.

    The blind man said coldly, “Yes, we’ve managed to invite Li Tan Hua here.”

    Before he finished, a man stepped through the door. He is none other than Long Xiao4Yun.

    When he came out, he immediately grabbed Li XunHuan’s hands, and said, “It has been two years, brother. I’ve been thinking of you everyday.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “If big brother wants to see me, why didn’t you just say so? No need to go through this hassle.”

    The beggar suddenly began to laugh. He said, “Great! Great! I am awed by your composure. I can’t believe you can still keep calm in this situation.”

    Long Xiao4Yun seemingly turned deaf, as if he didn’t hear anything these people said. Long Xiao4Yun still held on to Li XunHuan’s hands, and said, “I knew you were going to come. So I prepared some excellent wine for you.”

    He helped Li XunHuan up, then said to the others, “Come, please join us in this reunion of sworn brothers.”

    The blind man did not move.

    None of his brothers moved either.

    Long Xiao4Yun said with a smile, “Oh, so you can’t join us?” The blind man said, “We only did all this for Tie ChuanJia. Now we’ve now done our part. When Tie ChuanJia shows up, be sure to tell us.”

    His face then sank, and said coldly, “As for Fourth Master Long’s wine, I would not dare touch. After all, I’m certainly not worthy to be Fourth Master Long’s friend.”

    Without further words, he walked away.

    The table in the courtyard is full of wine.

    The wine-dishes are exquisite. The wines are all famous brands.

    That beggar didn’t seem to care for courtesy. He immediately sat in a chair and said, “To be honest, I wanted to leave too. But I can’t let these good food and wine go to waste.”

    He raised a cup of wine towards Li XunHuan and said, “You should drink some too. No point in not drinking this guy’s wine. Of course, not much point in drinking his wine either.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “This is Hero Hu. Brother, I do not believe you have met…”

    Li XunHuan said, “Hero Hu? Is your given name ‘BuGui’?”

    That beggar said with a smile, “That’s right. Hu BuGui is I! You might call me a hero, but in your heart, I’m sure you must be thinking, ‘So this is Crazy Hu. No wonder he acts like a lunatic.’ Am I right?”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “You’re right.”

    Hu BuGui laughed, and said, “You really are an odd person, probably a lunatic too. If you weren’t crazy, how could you become friends with someone like Long Xiao4Yun?”

    Li XunHuan just smiled.

    Hu BuGui said, “But don’t think I’m his friend too. I only helped him because I owe him a favor. After this task, I’ll never have anything to do with him again.”

    He suddenly slapped the table, and added, “But this task was way too devious, really lacks virtue. So embarrassing, so shameful, so not right, so despicable…”

    As he spoke, he slapped himself on the cheek seventeen or eighteen times. Then he began to cry on the table. Long Xiao4Yun seemed to be familiar with his antics, and wasn’t bothered.

    But Li XunHuan felt a bit remorseful. He said, “No matter what, even if I were fully alert, I couldn’t have dodged Brother Hu’s last move.”

    Hu BuGui slapped the table again, and said angrily, “That’s a bunch of crap! Without any tricks, how could I manage to touch you? I harmed you, yet you try to comfort me. What’s this all about?”

    Li XunHuan didn’t know how to respond.

    Hu BuGui said, “I have lots of mood swings, get angry for no reason, doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, always doing things backward, cry when I want, laugh when I want… I’m really just a load of crap.”

    He suddenly glared at Long Xiao4Yun and said, “But you’re a bigger piece of crap than I am. And your son is an even bigger piece of crap than you. He has two feet, yet has to act like a dog, crawling under a table. Does he want to pick bones down there?”

    Long Xiao4Yun blushed. He looked down, only to find Long Xiao3Yun crawling by the table. He held a dagger, and had crawled next to Li XunHuan.

    Long Xiao4Yun grabbed him and held him up. Then said with a sullen face, “What do you think you’re doing?”

    Long Xiao3Yun’s face was very calm. He said, “You’ve once said that a man should know who his friends and enemies are, right?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Isn’t it also true in the martial world, that one must try to obtain revenge, and must repay gratitude? He destroyed my kung fu, so I’m forever crippled. Asking for his two legs is certainly not too much.”

    Long Xiao4Yun’s face turned pale. He said, “So you want revenge?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Yes.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said loudly, “Do you know who he is?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I just know that he is my enemy…”

    Before he could finish this sentence, Long Xiao4Yun gave him a slap on the face, and yelled angrily, “But do you know that he’s also your dad’s sworn brother? He has the right to teach you a lesson. How could you even think about revenge? How could you be so discourteous to him?”

    After getting scolded, Long Xiao3Yun suddenly got on his knees in front of Li XunHuan. He said, “I’m sorry. I’ve learned my lesson. Uncle Li, please forgive your nephew.”

    Li XunHuan didn’t know what to say. But Hu BuGui had already jumped up, yelling, “Oh lord, I can’t stand these two. Oh, how I wish to vomit right now.”

    As he yelled, he ran out the door.

    End of Chapter 52

  15. #55
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 53: Deceit

    Long Xiao4Yun forced a chuckle, and said, “A person might have a wrong name, but never a wrong nickname. A person might be dumb as an ox, but have a name called ‘bright’. But if a person’s nickname is ‘crazy’, then he must be crazy.”

    Li XunHuan originally didn’t want to say anything. But he couldn’t help but comment, “But if someone is too intelligent, knows too much, then he might also slowly turn into a lunatic.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Really?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because by that time, he might find that life is better as a lunatic. So for some people, their biggest agony is that they want to be crazy, but can’t.”

    Long Xiao4Yun smiled. He said, “Thankfully, I’m not that smart. So I’ll never have this sort of agony.”

    Of course he’ll never have this type of agony. He’d never agonize over anything.

    Because he’d give his agony to others.

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time. Then he lowered his head, sipping the wine slowly.

    Long Xiao4Yun watched, waiting.

    He knew that when Li XunHuan drank slowly, he must have something important to say.

    After a long time, Li XunHuan raised his head again, and said, “Big brother…”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes?”

    Li XunHuan said, “There’s something in my heart, that I want to say. But I don’t know if I should say it.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Go ahead.”

    Li XunHuan said, “No matter what, we’ve been friends for many years.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Not friends, sworn brothers.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’m sure you know what type of a person I am.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes…”

    Although he only said a single word, Long Xiao4Yun said it very slowly. The word also carried a hint of shame.

    He is, after all, still a person.

    Any person would at least have some humanity in him.

    Li XunHuan said, “Therefore, if you wanted me to do something, you should simply tell me. If its something I can do, I’ll certainly do it.”

    Long Xiao4Yun slowly raised his wine cup, as if wishing to block his own face.

    Li XunHuan has done way too much for him.

    After a long time, he let out a deep sigh, and said, “I know what you mean. But… time can change many things.”

    Li XunHuan’s face looked more and more gloomy. He said, “I know there’s some misunderstanding between us…”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Misunderstanding?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Right, misunderstanding. But on some matters, big brother, you should not have misunderstood me.”

    Long Xiao4Yun’s face turned incredibly pale. After a long time, he finally said, “But on one single matter, there’s absolutely no misunderstanding involved.”

    Li XunHuan asked, “Which matter?”

    Right after he spoke, Li XunHuan already regretted these words.

    He should already know the answer. Even worse, Long Xiao3Yun seemed to know that his father’s about to speak something important. He quietly left.

    Long Xiao4Yun stayed silent for a long time, before he said, “I know you’ve been in agony these past years.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Most people lives in agony.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “But your agony is worse than most people’s.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Huh?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Because you gave away the woman you love the most. To another man, to be his wife.”

    Some wine spilled out, because Li XunHuan’s hands were shaking.

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “But your agony isn’t deep enough. Because when someone felt that he has sacrificed himself for another, he would feel very bighearted. This will lessen his agony.”

    These words are very sharp, but also sort of reasonable.

    Of course, this doesn’t apply to every situation.

    Long Xiao4Yun’s hands are also shaking. He said, “Perhaps, you still don’t know the real meaning of agony.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps…”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “When a man finds out that his wife was given to him by someone else, and his wife still loves that person… That is the most painful agony in the world!”

    This is true.

    Not only is this great agony, but it’s also great humiliation.

    Normally, men would rather die than say something like this. Because it’s too painful to say such a thing!

    No one would want to hurt himself, humiliate himself, this badly.

    Yet Long Xiao4Yun just said it. He said it to Li XunHuan.

    Li XunHuan’s heart sunk.

    He realized two things from these words. First: Long Xiao4Yun is also in a great deal of agony. That’s why he changed, changed so dramatically. Put someone else in his shoes, and that person would probably also change.

    Li XunHuan suddenly felt pity for Long Xiao4Yun.

    Second: Since Long Xiao4Yun said these to him, he’s not likely going to live long!

    Li XunHuan had never cared much about life and death.

    But can he afford to die now?

    They did not speak much.
    But each word had come out slowly, after much thinking, much pause.

    It’s a cloudy day. It’s getting late.

    So although it’s not night yet, the sky is already very dark.

    Long Xiao4Yun’s expression is darker than the sky.

    He lifted the wine cup, then up it down. Lifted it up again, and then put it down…

    It’s not that he can’t drink wine. Rather, he doesn’t want to drink the wine. Because he found that when a person drinks, he becomes more impulsive. Even the calmest person, when he becomes impulsive, would make decisions based on feelings.

    After a long time, Long Xiao4Yun finally said, “I should not have said these words today.”

    Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Everyone has said things they did not want to say. It’s part of being human.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “I didn’t invite you here to say these things.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I know.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Do you know why I invited you here?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    For the first time, Long Xiao4Yun was surprised. He said, “You really know?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I do.”

    Li XunHuan didn’t wait for Long Xiao4Yun to ask again, and continued, “Do you really think there’s treasure in Happy Cloud Manor?”

    Long Xiao4Yun thought for a long time, before responding, “Yes.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Where do you think it’s at?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “You should know the place.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’ve always had this odd problem.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “What problem?”

    Li XunHuan said, “My problem is, I know all the things I shouldn’t know. Yet I don’t know anything that I should know.”

    Long Xiao4Yun’s mouth closed.

    Li XunHuan said, “Actually, you should’ve already figured it out. That this whole treasure thing is a charade…”

    Long Xiao4Yun cut him off, and said, “I trust you. Because you would not lie to me.”

    He looked at Li XunHuan intently, and added, “If there’s one person I can trust in this world, it’s you. If I still have one friend left in this world, it’s you! Everything else I’ve said might be a lie. But this time, I’m definitely speaking the truth.”

    Li XunHuan also looked at Long Xiao4Yun intently. He sighed deeply, and said, “I believe you, because…”

    He stopped talking, because he began to cough.

    When he stopped coughing, Long Xiao4Yun continued his sentence, said, “You believe me, because you realize that you are no longer useful to me. So I have no reason to mislead you. Right?”

    Li XunHuan answered this question with his silence.

    Long Xiao4Yun stood up, and paced around the table.

    There’s no other sound in the courtyard. His footsteps became heavier and heavier. As if he felt uneasy… Or perhaps he only wants Li XunHuan to think this.

    Then, he stopped. He stopped in front of Li XunHuan, and said, “You must think that I’m going to kill you.”

    Li XunHuan’s expression is still of total calm, unbelievable calm. He said calmly, “No matter what you do to me, I won’t blame you.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “But I won’t kill you.”

    Li XunHuan, “I know.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Of course you do. You understand me quite well.”

    He suddenly became very excited, as he continued, “Because even if I kill you, I still cannot capture her heart. I can only make her hate me more.”

    Li XunHuan took a deep breath, and said, “There are many things in life that’s beyond one’s control.”

    Beyond one’s control.

    Such a simple phrase. Yet it’s one of the most painful things in life.

    When you meet it, you can’t fight it, can’t struggle against it. No matter what you do, what you try, it’s still beyond your control.

    Long Xiao4Yun tightened his fist, and said, “I can’t kill you, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting you go.”

    Li XunHuan nodded.

    Because I’m still useful to you alive.

    But he didn’t say these words.

    No matter how Long Xiao4Yun hurt him, betray him, he still would not say a single word that would hurt Long Xiao4Yun.

    Long Xiao4Yun tightened his fists even more. Because only in front of Li XunHuan, could he feel so insignificant, so minute.

    That’s why Li XunHuan’s magnificent friendship not only didn’t soften his heart, but rather angered him further.

    He glared at Li XunHuan, and said, “I’m taking you to see someone. This person had wanted to see you for some time now. Perhaps… you would like to see him too.

    * * *

    It’s a big room.

    Despite its size, the room has only one window. A very small window, very high up.

    The window is open. Yet you cannot see the scenery outside.

    The door is small. If a person has wide shoulders, then he had to walk through the door sideways.

    The door is also open.

    There’s white paint on the wall. The paint is very thick. As if so no one could see if this is a stone wall, a dirt wall, or an iron wall.

    There are two beds in the corner.

    Wooden beds.

    The bed sheets are very clean, but very simple.

    In addition to the beds, there’s only a big table in the room.

    The table is filled with different account books, files, dossiers.

    One person stood in front of the table. Occasionally, he’d make some marks on the account books with his brush. Sometimes, a smile would appear on the corner of his mouth.

    He’s standing!

    He felt that if someone sits down, he’d become relaxed. If a person becomes relaxed, then he would be too prone to error.

    He’s never relaxed.

    He’s never made an error.

    He had never lost.

    There’s someone else behind him.

    This person stood even straighter, like a spear.

    He just stood there. No one knew for how long. He didn’t so much as lift a finger.

    A mosquito came in somehow. It flew around.

    His eyes didn’t even blink.

    The mosquito landed on his nose, and began to suck blood.

    He still didn’t move.

    It’s as if he has no feelings. He feels no pain, no joy.

    He might not even know why he’s alive.

    End of Chapter 53

  16. #56
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 54: The Deal

    Obviously, these two people are Jin WuMing and ShangGuan JinHong. One might never find a third person like them.

    To think, the richest, most famous, most powerful Golden Money Clan’s leader, would live in such a simple place. No one could possibly imagine this.

    Because in their eyes, money is just a tool. Women are also tools. Every single luxury in the world is a tool for them. They don’t care for any of that. They only care about power. Power. Other than power, they need nothing. They live for power, and just might die for power.

    It’s very quiet. Other than sounds of flipping books, there’s only silence. The candlelight shined. No one knows how long they’ve been working here, standing here. One can only see light turn into dark, and dark turn back into light. It seems as if they’re never tired, never hungry. At this moment, someone knocked by the door. It’s just one knock, and very light.

    ShangGuan JinHong’s hands did not stop moving, nor did he raise his head.

    Jin WuMing said, “Who?”

    The man outside said, “One seventy-nine.”

    Jin WuMing said, “What do you want?”

    The man outside said, “Someone wants to see the clan leader.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Who?”

    The man outside said, “He won’t say his name.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Why does he want to see the clan leader?”

    The man outside said, “He said he’ll tell the clan leader upon seeing him.”

    Jin WuMing stopped talking.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly said, “Where is he?”

    The man outside said, “In the front courtyard.”

    ShangGuan JinHong’s hands still turned the pages. He didn’t even raise his head when he said, “Kill him!”

    The man outside said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly asked, “Who escorted him here?”

    The man outside said, “The eighth helmsman, Xiang Song.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Kill Xiang Song too!”

    The man outside said, “Yes.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I’ll go!”

    When he spoke these words, his foot is already out the door, and left in a flash. When it comes to killing, Jin WuMing is always enthusiastic. Besides, Xiang Song’s nickname is ‘Wind and Rain Meteors’. His pair of Meteor Hammer ranks number nineteenth on the Book of Weapons. It’s not easy to kill him.

    Who did he escort to see ShangGuan JinHong? What this person’s reason for coming? Apparently, ShangGuan JinHong didn’t seem to be curious at all.

    This man really has no humanity in him.

    His head never rose. His hand never stopped moving.

    The door opened. Jin WuMing returned.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn’t ask him “Did he die?”

    Because Jin WuMing never fails when it comes to killing.

    ShangGuan JinHong only said, “Go! If Xiang Song did not retaliate, give his family ten thousand taels of gold. If he did retaliate, kill his whole family.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I didn’t kill him.”

    ShangGuan JinHong finally raised his head, and glared at Jin WuMing.

    Jin WuMing’s face is still without an expression. He said, “Because the person he escorted, I can’t kill.”

    ShangGuan JinHong yelled, “Anyone can be killed. Why not him?”

    Jin WuMing said, “I don’t kill children.”

    ShangGuan JinHong froze for a moment. He slowly lowered his brush, and said, “Are you telling me, that a child wants to see me?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “What kind of a child?”

    Jin WuMing said, “A crippled child.”

    Rays shot out of ShangGuan JinHong’s eyes. He thought for a while, before he said, “Bring him in!”

    A child would dare come see ShangGuan JinHong? Not even ShangGuan JinHong himself would believe it. This child isn’t just fearless, he must be crazy.

    Yet this person really is a child.

    His face is pure white, without a hint of life.

    He didn’t carry the glow of a child either, but rather the sullenness of an adult.

    He walked very slowly, his back a bit bent.

    This child looks like an old man.

    This child is none other than Long Xiao3Yun.

    Anyone who saw Long Xiao3Yun would examine him in detail.

    ShangGuan JinHong is no exception.

    His eyes glared at Long Xiao3Yun’s face.

    Everyone ShangGuan JinHong had glared this way, either began to shake. Or at least feel their legs giving out.

    Long Xiao3Yun is an exception.

    He slowly came in, bowed courteously, and said, “My name is Long Xiao3Yun, here to pay respects to Clan Leader.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Long Xiao3Yun? Who is Long Xiao4Yun to you?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “He’s my father.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Did your father tell you to come?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Why didn’t he come himself.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If he had come, it’s uncertain if he’d get to meet clan leader. Instead, there’s a good chance he’d die instead.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said loudly, “You think I won’t kill you?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I’m just a child. My life is already within your hands. It’s not that you won’t kill me, but rather I’m not worth your time to kill.”

    ShangGuan JinHong’s face actually turned more pleasant. He said, “You might be young, might be sick. But you are quite brave.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “When someone needs to ask for something, he would naturally become a lot braver.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Great words.”

    He suddenly chuckled at Jin WuMing, and said, “If you only heard him speak, would you be able to tell if he’s child?”

    Although his head is facing down, Long Xiao3Yun was very observant of these two people. He found their relationship very interesting.

    ShangGuan JinHong finally said, “Your biggest strength is that you never speak. But your biggest weakness is that you never hear others speak.”

    Jin WuMing didn’t even care to respond.

    After a long time, ShangGuan JinHong finally said, “What do you want?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “There are many ways to say everything. I can say my request in a roundabout way. But clan leader’s time is precious. So I should speak in the most direct manner, the shortest way.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Great. To those who are too wordy, I only have one way to cure their problems. That is by cutting off their throats.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I came to make a deal.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “A deal?”

    His face turned cold again, and said, “Others have tried to make deals with me. Do you know what I did to them?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I am listening.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “I used only one way to take care of them. That’s by killing them!”

    Long Xiao3Yun’s expression did not change. He said calmly, “But this deal is different. Or I would not dare come.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “A deal is a deal. What’s so different about this one?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “This deal can only benefit clan leader.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Really?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Clan leader is world-renowned. You have unlimited wealth. You can get anything you want in the world.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Exactly. Which is why I don’t make deals.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “But there is one thing in this world, that clan leader might not be able to obtain.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Really?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “This item isn’t really worth all that much. But his value for clan leader is different.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “What item are you talking about?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “The life of Li XunHuan!”

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly became quite passionate. He asked, “What did you say?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “We have control of Li XunHuan’s life. If clan leader agrees to the deal, I can bring him anytime you wish.”

    ShangGuan JinHong began to think.

    After a long time, until his face turned cold again, he said, “Li XunHuan’s worth nothing. I do not care for him at all.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If so, I shall take my leave.”

    He didn’t say another word, turned around, and began to walk away.

    Long Xiao3Yun slowly walked to the door. He opened it.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly said, “Hold on.”
    A smug smile appeared on Long Xiao3Yun’s face. But by the time he turned around, his face only contained respect and submissiveness. He bowed and said, “What else does clan leader ask of me?”

    ShangGuan JinHong did not look at him. He only looked at the candlelight on the table, and said, “What do you want to exchange for Li XunHuan’s life?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Father has long heard of clan leader’s fame. He felt sad never to have met clan leader.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “This is useless crap. Get to the point.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Father only wishes, in front of the heroes in the world, to become your sworn brother.”

    Rage shot out of ShangGuan JinHong’s eyes, but it quickly disappeared. He said calmly, “It seems as if Long Xiao4Yun is quite a clever person. Too bad he would make such a stupid request.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Maybe so, but sometimes the stupidest ways are the most effective ways.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You’re certain that I will accept this deal?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If I weren’t, why risk my life to come here?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You’re Long Xiao4Yun’s only child, right?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “If so, he should not have sent you.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “But if he chose anyone else, that person would not have met clan leader.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “This was originally just a deal. But now that you’re here, the situation has changed.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “You think you use me to compel father to give you Li XunHuan, right?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Exactly.”

    Long Xiao3Yun suddenly chuckled, and said, “Clan leader might be all-knowing, but you’re wrong about father.”

    ShangGuan JinHong snickered, and said, “You mean he’d rather see me kill you, than to give me Li XunHuan?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Exactly.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You mean he’s not human?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “He is human. But there are many different types of humans.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Which type is he?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “The same as you. Anything can be used, be sacrificed, to achieve a goal.”

    ShangGuan JinHong closed his mouth.

    After a long time, he finally said, “For the past twenty years, no one has ever spoke to me this way.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Because of this, I can speak such words in front of you. To move you with these words.”

    ShangGuan JinHong glared at him, and said, “If you don’t agree, would you actually let Li XunHuan go?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong let out a cold laugh, and said, “You’re not afraid that he might seek revenge?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “He’s a different type of a person. He’d never do such a thing.”

    He laughed, and continued, “If he were, he’d never be in his current situation.”

    ShangGuan JinHong yelled, “Even if you let him go, do you really think I can’t kill him myself?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said calmly, “Little Li’s Flying Dagger never misses.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You think I can’t dodge his dagger?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “At least you’re not certain, right?”

    ShangGuan JinHong let out a humph.

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Considering clan leader’s position and achievements, why take such a needless risk?”

    ShangGuan JinHong did not respond.

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Besides, although father’s martial arts and fame are only mediocre, he’s one of the cleverest person in the world. Clan leader will surely benefit from having such a sworn brother.”

    ShangGuan JinHong pondered for a while, when he suddenly asked, “Li XunHuan is his sworn brother, right?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “If he can betray Li XunHuan, why can’t he betray me?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Because clan leader is not Li XunHuan.”

    ShangGuan JinHong laughed. He said, “You’re right. Even if Long Xiao4Yun has the guts to betray me, he doesn’t have the means.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Does this mean that clan leader has agreed?”

    ShangGuan JinHong stopped his laughter, and said, “How do I know that you have Li XunHuan?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If clan leader would just send out notices to heroes of the world, inviting them to come to watch father and clan leader become sworn brothers…”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You think they have the courage to come?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “That doesn’t matter. Just as long as everyone knows about it.”

    ShangGuan JinHong smirked, and said, “Very nice plan.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I know clan leader would need more time to think. I’ll be living at the ‘Lucky Cloud Hotel’, waiting for clan leader’s response.”

    He then added, “Once the notices are sent, and are received, I’ll escort Li XunHuan here.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Escort him here… Humph, you and your father probably don’t have this ability.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Of course I realize this. If Shaolin’s Reverend XinMei and Seventh Master Tian can’t do something, what chance do I have? However…”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Keep going.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If Mr. Jin could help with the escort, then there would be no problems.”

    ShangGuan JinHong did not respond.

    Jin WuMing suddenly said, “I’ll go.”

    For the first time, a smile appeared on Long Xiao3Yun’s face. He got on his knees and said, “Thank you.”

    ShangGuan JinHong remained silent for a long time, before he suddenly asked, “Is your kung fu forever destroyed? The person who did this is Li XunHuan?”

    Long Xiao3Yun’s face turned livid. He lowered his head further and said, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong looked at his face, and asked, “You hate him?”

    Long Xiao3Yun thought for a long time, before he finally answered, “Yes.”

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “Actually, not only should you not hate him, you should thank him.”

    Long Xiao3Yun raised his head a tiny bit. He said, “Thank him?”

    ShangGuan JinHong said coldly, “If he hadn’t destroyed your kung fu, you would’ve died today in this room.”

    Long Xiao3Yun’s head lowered further back down.

    ShangGuan JinHong said, “You already so devious at such a young age. In twenty years, you can actually be a match for me. How can let you live if you weren’t crippled?”

    Long Xiao3Yun bit his teeth hard. So hard his gums began to bleed.

    But his head remained lowered.

    End of Chapter 54

  17. #57
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 55: ****


    In the darkness there's heavy breathing, moaning...

    Then there's simply silence.

    After a long, long time, a woman's voice can be heard. She whispered, "You know, I’ve always wanted to ask you this one question."

    This woman's voice is sweet and seductive. If a man doesn't want to be seduced by this voice, he'd have to turn deaf.

    A man spoke, "Why haven't you asked?"

    This man's voice is very peculiar. If you're near him, his voice seems to come far away. If you're far away, his voice seems to be next to you.

    The woman said, "Are you really a man? Or made out of iron?"

    The man said, "You can't tell?"

    The woman's voice became even sweeter. She said, "If you're a man, then why won't you ever get tired?"

    The man said, "You need to rest?"

    The woman couldn't help but chuckle. She said, "You think I can't keep up? Why don't we try again?"

    The man said, "Not now!"

    The woman said, "Why?"

    The man said, "Because I need you to do something for me."

    The woman said, "I'll do anything you ask."

    The man said, "Good. Now go kill Ah Fei."

    The woman seemingly froze. After a moment, she sighed, and said, "I told you already. It's not time to kill him yet."

    The man said, "Now is the time."

    The woman said, "Why? Is Li XunHuan dead?"

    The man said, "Not yet, but he will be very soon."

    The woman said, "Where... where is he?"

    The man said, "In the palms of my hands."

    The woman smiled and said, "I've been with you every single night the past nights. How did you manage to catch him? Can you split in two?"

    The man said, "If I want something, I don't have to get it myself. Someone will bring it to me."

    The woman said, "Who brought him to you? Who can possibly capture Li XunHuan?"

    The man said, "Long Xiao4Yun."

    The woman gasped, then smiled. She said, "Of course he must be Long Xiao4Yun. Only Li XunHuan's best friend can hurt him. He's seemingly impervious to all weapons, except emotion.

    The man said coldly, “You seem to understand him quite well.”

    The woman laughed, and said, “I tend to know my enemies much better than my friends. For example, I don’t understand you at all.”

    She quickly changed the subject, and continued, “I know Long Xiao4Yun. There’s no way he would give Li XunHuan to you for no reason.”

    The man said, “Really?”

    The woman said, “He doesn’t want to kill Li XunHuan himself. So he’s using you to do the deed.”

    The man said, “You think that’s his only goal?”

    The woman said, “What else would he want?”

    The man said, “He wants to be my sworn brother.”

    The woman sighed, and said, “Well, he certainly knows how to bargain. So you agreed to his request?”

    The man said, “Yes.”

    The woman said, “You haven’t figured out that he’s just using you?”

    The man snickered.

    He suddenly let out a cold laugh, and said, “Too bad his plan is too na´ve.”

    The woman said, “Too na´ve?”

    The man said, “He thinks that if he’s my sworn brother, then I won’t hurt him. Humph, even if he were my blood brother, it still would make no difference.”

    The woman chuckled, and said, “You’re right. If he can betray Li XunHuan, surely you can betray him.”

    The man said, “Although Long Xiao4Yun is worth nothing in my eyes. His son is quite a character.”

    The woman said, “You’ve seen that little devil?”

    The man said, “Long Xiao4Yun didn’t come to meet me. His son came.”

    The woman sighed, and said, “You’re right. His son really is mature little devil.”

    The man thought for a moment, then suddenly said, “You can go now.”

    The woman said, “You don’t want to keep my a while longer?”

    The man said, “No.”

    The woman said tenderly, “All other men hesitates when they have to part with me. They want to be with me for as long as possible. Only you. Only you would immediately send me away after we finish our task.”

    The man said coldly, “That’s because I’m not these other men. Nor am I your friend. We’re just using each other. Since we both know this, why put on the pretense of being friendly?”

    The room is very dark. But there’s light outside.

    Dim, starlight.

    Under the starlight stood a person. He stood outside the room. His dead, gray eyes looked into the distance. His body looked like a statue.

    Yet now, there’s an agony in those dead, gray eyes.

    He couldn’t tolerate standing here.

    He couldn’t tolerate the sounds in that room.

    Yet he must tolerate.

    In this life, he’s only faithful to one person… ShangGuan JinHong.

    His life, even his soul, belongs to ShangGuan JinHong.

    The door opened.

    A shadow appeared behind him.

    Starlight shined on her face. Beauty, splendor, innocence… no matter who saw her, would not believe what she had just done.

    A goddess on the outside, a devil on the inside… Who else but Lin XianEr?

    Jin WuMing did not turn around.

    Lin XianEr circled in front of him, staring at him.

    Her eyes are as tender as the light from the star.

    Jin WuMing’s gaze remained on the distant darkness, as if she doesn’t even exist.

    Lin XianEr’s hands reached up onto his shoulders, caressing his body.

    Jin WuMing did not respond. It’s as if his whole body’s numb.

    Lin XianEr smiled. She said tenderly, “Thank you for guarding the door for us. When I know that you’re outside, I feel so safe, feel so much more excited to do anything.”

    She then put her mouth next to his ear, and suddenly whispered, “I’ll also tell you a secret. He might be a bit old, but still great in bed. Perhaps this is because he has more experience than others.”

    She then walked away, with a bright smile on her face.

    Jin WuMing still did not move. But every single one of his muscles shook.

    * * *

    Lucky Cloud Hotel is the biggest hotel in the city. It’s where the rich lavishes their money.

    If a guest has enough money, he can enjoy all the luxuries he wants without ever leaving his room.

    Here, if you simply ask, someone will bring you the best dishes, the best singers and dancers, and the best prostitute to your room.

    Here, all the rooms are closed in the daytime, as if the whole place is deserted.

    But at night, all the doors open.

    First you’ll hear the sound of rinsing water. Then there’s the yelling of the busboys, the words of thanks from the waiters, the laughter of woman and tender greetings like ‘Master Zhang’, or ‘Third Master Wang’.

    Then you’d hear sounds of people’s cups clashing for toasts, girls singing and sweet laughter, sounds of bragging by men…

    This place, in the late night, you’ll hear all sorts of inappropriate sounds.

    Except one room, where there’s no sound.

    Rarely, there would be one or two short moans, painful screams.

    This room’s door is always closed.

    At every night at dusk, a girl would be sent in. These girls are all very beautiful, very young, and very tender.

    When they enter the room, they all had dressed up beautifully, cleanly. There would be big smiles on their faces. Although these smiles are artificial, they are still very stimulating.

    But when they leave the next morning, everything’s different.

    The clean and organized hair, would become shriveled, some even yanked off. The bright, shiny eyes, would become dim and expressionless.

    The dazzling, colorful faces, would crumple, with tears coming down.

    Seven days. The same thing for the past seven days.

    At first, no one noticed. But then people started to become aware of it.

    At a place where people seek happiness, they notice this sort of things.

    So people began to chatter.
    Everyone was surprised at the answer.

    “The person in that room, is actually a not fully matured boy!”

    When asked about it, the girls would begin to shake. Tears would fall from their eyes, unwilling to give any information.

    When pressured, they would only say, “He’s not human… he’s not human.”

    It’s dusk again.

    The door for this room is still closed.

    To the opposite of the door is a window. A pale boy sat by the window, looking at the scenery outside. For a long, long time, he did not move.

    Occasionally, a venomous glow would appear in his eyes.

    Long Xiao3Yun.

    The dishes on the table are virtually untouched.

    He eats very little. He’s waiting. Waiting for bigger enjoyments. He’s never cared much for eating. He felt that if a person eats too much, his head would get stuffed.

    Finally, there’s a knock on the door.

    Long Xiao3Yun did not turn. He only said coldly, “The door’s unlocked. Come in.”

    The door opened. The footsteps are light, slow.

    Another weak, young girl, and a bit shy too.

    This is Long Xiao3Yun’s favorite type of girl.

    Because he’s so weak physically, he wants to act ‘strong’. Only in front of these girls can he act ‘strong’.

    The footstep stopped by the table.

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Has the person who brought you here told you the price?”

    That girl answered, “Yes.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “This price is three times the normal price, right?”

    That girl answered, “Yes.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “So you’re going to listen to me. You won’t put up any resistance, right?”

    That girl said, “Right.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Good. Now take off your clothes. All of them.”

    That girl did not move. After a while, she suddenly said, “You’re not going to watch me take off my clothes?”

    This voice was very sweet, surprisingly sweet.

    Long Xiao3Yun seemingly froze.

    That girl laughed sweetly, and said, “You know, it’s very enjoyable to watch girls take off their clothes. Why don’t you try it?”

    Long Xiao3Yun realized that something’s wrong. He turned around.

    Then he froze.

    This ‘girl’ is actually Lin XianEr!

    Lin XianEr carried her goddess-like smile.

    Long Xiao3Yun seemingly turned into a statue.

    But that lasted for only a moment. He then quickly laughed, and stood up, said, “So Auntie Lin’s here to joke with me.”

    Lin XianEr said seductively, “You’re still calling me auntie?”

    Long Xiao3Yun said with a smile, “Auntie is always auntie.”

    Lin XianEr said, “But you’re an adult now, right?”

    She sighed lightly, and scolded, “I just left for three years, and you’ve grown up so fast.”

    Long Xiao3Yun quickly evaded this topic, and said, “We never were able to find Auntie Lin these past three years.”

    Lin XianEr said, “But I know a lot about you. I heard… that towards girls, you’re much better than even those much older than you.”

    Long Xiao3Yun shyly lowered his head and said, “But in front of Auntie Lin, I’m still a kid.”

    Lin XianEr raised her eyebrows. She pouted, “You still call me auntie? Am I really that old?”

    Lin XianEr stood right in front of him, very leisurely. But that grace, that expression, that unspeakable seductiveness, you won’t find in any other woman.

    Long Xiao3Yun’s eyes glowed.

    Lin XianEr bit her lips, and said, “I heard you like little girls. But I… I’m just an old hag.”

    Long Xiao3Yun felt his heart beating rapidly. He couldn’t help but say, “You’re not old at all.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Really?’

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “If someone said you’re old, he must be an idiot, or blind.”

    Lin XianEr chuckled, and said, “Are you an idiot? Are you blind?”

    Long Xiao3Yun’s obviously not an idiot, nor blind.

    When Lin XianEr left him, she felt quite painful.

    This ‘child’ is neither a child, nor an idiot, because he’s a lunatic!

    A scary lunatic.

    Even Lin XianEr had never seen such a lunatic.

    Yet in her eyes, one can see a satisfied glow.

    She finally got the information she’s seeking.

    When it comes to men, she has never failed. Whether that man’s an idiot, a gentleman, or a lunatic!

    Although it’s nearly dawn, there are still people drinking.

    A man was yelling, “If you’re going to drink, drink until dawn, until you fall on the ground…” It seems that before he could finish this sentence, he already fell to the ground.

    Upon hearing these words, Lin XianEr suddenly remembered a person.

    She could almost hear his cough.

    When she thinks about this person, she’d be filled with rage.

    Because she knew that she could conquer all the man in the world, but never him.

    Because she could not have him, she must destroy him!

    If she can’t have someone, no one else can.

    She bit her teeth, and thought, “Although I want you dead, I can’t let you die now. Especially can’t let you die in ShangGuan JinHong’s hands. Otherwise, there’s nothing in this world that can stop him.

    “But one day, you’ll die in my hands. Die slowly… oh very slowly…”

    End of Chapter 55

  18. #58
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 56: Sword out of the Sheath


    A very thin sword. Very light. Even the handle is made out of the lightest wood.

    Any weapon can easily break this sword.

    Yet when he attacks with this sword, no one can block it.

    This is a very unique sword. Perhaps only one person in the world can use this sword, dare to use this sword.

    Sword, rested right by the table, with some clean clothing.

    When Ah Fei woke up, the first thing he noticed is this sword.

    His eyes shined.

    When he sees this sword, it’s like seeing a long-lost lover, an old best friend. Blood surged from his heart.

    He slowly reached out with his hand, and grabbed the sword.

    His hand began to shake. But once it held the sword’s handle, the hand calmed.

    He held the sword, but his eyes gazed far… far… away…

    His mind wandered into the distance.

    He remembered when he first used a sword. The first time blood dripped off the point. All those people who died under his sword… those terrible people.

    His blood began to boil.

    That was a time of much grief and disaster, but also much splendor and excitement!

    But that time has passed, passed for a long time now.

    He already promised the woman he love, to forget all about the past!

    Although he now lives a peaceful life, it’s also a lonely life. But what’s wrong with that? Isn’t it most people’s wish to live a serene life?

    No footstep could be heard. Lin XianEr is already at the front door.

    Although she looks a bit tired, her smile remained just as alluring.

    No matter what he gave up, that smile could fully compensate.

    Ah Fei immediately let go of the sword, and said with a smile, “You woke up earlier than me today. Looks like I’m getting lazier.”

    Lin XianEr did not answer his question. She instead asked, “Do you like this sword?”

    Ah Fei did not answer her question either. Because he doesn’t want to say the truth, but can’t lie.

    Lin XianEr said, “Do you know where this sword came from?”

    Ah Fei said, “No.”

    Lin XianEr slowly walked up to him, and sat by his side. She said, “I asked someone to forge it last night.”

    Ah Fei was shocked, and said, “You?”

    Lin XianEr lifted the sword, and said, “Is this sword like the one you used to have?”

    Ah Fei did not respond.

    Lin XianEr said, “You don’t like it?”

    Ah Fei thought for a long time, before he asked, “Why did you make this sword for me?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because you’ll need to use it.”

    Ah Fei froze. He said, “You… you want me to kill?”

    Lin XianEr said, “No. I want you to save someone.”

    Ah Fei said, “Save someone? Who?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Your best friend…”

    Before she finished this sentence, Ah Fei jumped up and yelled, “Li XunHuan?”

    Lin XianEr nodded. Ah Fei’s faced turned pure red, and said, “Where is he? What happened?”

    Lin XianEr grabbed his hand, and said tenderly, “Sit down first. You have to be patient. Let me tell you the whole story.”

    Ah Fei took several deep breaths, and finally sat down.

    Lin XianEr said, “Other than you, there are four top level fighters in the world today. Do you know who they are?”

    Ah Fei said, “Tell me.”

    Lin XianEr said, “Number one is obviously the ‘Mysterious Old Man’, number two is ShangGuan JinHong. Of course, Li XunHuan, brother Li, is also at their level.”

    Ah Fei said, “And the last person?”

    Lin XianEr sighed, and said, “This one is called Jin WuMing. He’s the youngest, but also the scariest.”

    Ah Fei said, “Scariest?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Because he’s not human. He has no humanity. His biggest goal in life is to kill. His biggest pleasure comes from killing. Other than killing, he knows nothing, cares nothing.

    There’s a glow in Ah Fei’s eyes. He said, “What weapon does he use?”

    Lin XianEr put down that sword and said, “Sword!”

    Ah Fei’s hand unconsciously picked up that sword, squeezing it tightly.

    Lin XianEr said, “I heard that his sword art is as ruthless as yours, and also as fast.”

    Ah Fei said, “I don’t know any sword art. I just know how to use the sword to strike my enemy’s throat.”

    Lin XianEr said, “This is your type of sword art. The point of any sword art is the same.”

    Ah Fei said, “So what you mean is… Li XunHuan’s in this person’s hand?”

    Lin XianEr said, “Not just him, but also ShangGuan JinHong… But ShangGuan JinHong might not be there, just him.”

    She won’t let Ah Fei respond, and quickly continued, “If you had never seen this man, you’d never know how scary he is! Your sword might be faster, but your person…”

    Ah Fei bit his teeth, and said, “I just want to know where he is.”

    Lin XianEr gently held his hand, and said, “I didn’t want you using a sword again, killing again, getting into danger again. But for brother Li… I… I have to let you go. I can’t be so selfish.”

    Ah Fei looked at her. His face full of gratitude.

    Tears poured down Lin XianEr’s face. She said, “I can tell you where he is. But you… you have to promise me one thing.”

    Ah Fei said, “Promise what?”

    Lin XianEr squeezed his hand, and said with tears, “You must promise me, that you’ll come back. I’ll wait for you forever…”

    * * *

    The carriage is very big.

    Long Xiao3Yun sat in the corner, looking at the person before him.

    This person stood.

    Even while inside a carriage, this person stood.

    No matter how bumpy the road is, he remained straight as a statue.

    Long Xiao3Yun had never seen such a person. He couldn’t even imagine such a person.

    He felt that most people in the world are idiots, people he can play around with.

    But for someone reason, in front of this person, he felt a little scared.

    As long as this person is here, he would fell a killing aura surrounding him.

    But he’s also very pleased.

    ShangGuan JinHong agreed to everything he asked.

    The notice has been sent. Most people have seen them. The ceremony is set for next month.

    Now, with Jin WuMing with him, Li XunHuan is certainly dead.

    He can’t think of a single reason how Li XunHuan could survive.

    He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. A beautiful face appeared in his mind, lying in his lap, telling him sweetly, “You really aren’t a kid anymore. You know so much more than most people. I really can’t figure out where you learn these things.”
    Long Xiao3Yun couldn’t help but smile at this point.

    “Some things don’t have to be learnt. You just know when you’re ready.”

    He felt that he’s already an adult.

    This feeling is bound to make most young boys feel delighted.

    Young boys do their best to be like adults. Old men do their best to be like little kids… This is certainly one of the oddities of life.

    Anyone else, at this point, would stop thinking.

    But Long Xiao3Yun thought deeper, “Why did she come to me?”

    “Does she want to know about Li XunHuan’s location?”

    When he thought of this, Long Xiao3Yun became more awake. “Why would she want to know where Li XunHuan is?”

    “Does she want to save Li XunHuan?”

    Of course this can’t be the case. Long Xiao3Yun knew how much Lin XianEr hates Li XunHuan. He also knew that she once tried to use ShangGuan JinHong to kill Li XunHuan.

    “Then why?”

    He couldn’t think further, because he can’t come up with a reason.

    He didn’t know that the situation has changed. At that time, Lin XianEr did want ShangGuan JinHong to kill Li XunHuan. But now, it’s very different.

    If she wants to keep a deadlocked situation with ShangGuan JinHong, then she must not let Li XunHuan and Ah Fei die!

    Or ShangGuan JinHong would crush her, because ShangGuan JinHong had already let slip, “I am me. I’m neither Ah Fei, nor Jin WuMing. We’re just using each other. When we no longer need each other, we can say goodbye!”

    The directions of winds in the martial world, changes no less than the heart of a woman. No one can guess which way it will blow.

    The carriage stopped at busiest spot in the city, in front of a very large and showy silk store.

    Is Li XunHuan hidden here?

    Long Xiao4Yun and his son really are geniuses. They know that crowded places make for the best hiding places.

    Long Xiao3Yun stood up, and said, “After you.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You go first.”

    This is the first time he ever spoke to Long Xiao3Yun.

    He doesn’t want to walk in front of anyone. Wants even less to have someone walk behind him.

    They walked across the store.

    In the back is the storage room.

    Is Li XunHuan hidden here? This is certainly a good spot.

    But Long Xiao3Yun kept going, past the storage room.

    They went past the back door.

    There’s a horse carriage past the back door.

    Long Xiao3Yun didn’t say anything this time. He bowed courteously towards Jin WuMing, and got on the carriage.

    So Li XunHuan’s not here.

    Long Xiao3Yun only came here to escape potential followers.

    This father and son pair really is quite sneaky.

    The horse carriage headed out the city.

    Then they stopped at a rice storage house outside the city. But this isn’t where Li XunHuan’s hidden either.

    Here, they got off the carriage, and went on a cow-cart for carrying rice.

    This new cart took them back into the city. It’s quite crowded to hide inside. Long Xiao3Yun said, “Sorry about this.”

    Jin WuMing did not say anything.

    Their plan was flawless. Their movements were quick, the change in direction was sharp, and sudden.

    Even the best followers would not be able to keep up.

    Long Xiao3Yun knew Jin WuMing won’t praise him. He just hoped Jin WuMing would show some sort of smile on the face.

    If someone does something he’s very proud of, but doesn’t get praised. It’s like a woman wearing her sexiest dress to see her lover, and her lover doesn’t even look at her dress.

    Besides, Long Xiao3Yun is still, after all, a kid.

    Kids and women’s minds work in similar ways.

    Yet Jin WuMing was expressionless.

    The carriage entered a quiet street. This street only has seven households.

    All seven households are either royal relatives or big officials.

    Suddenly, one of the doors opened.

    The carriage entered the door.

    Everyone knew that this is mayor Fan LinQuan’s house.

    How could people in the martial world get involved with someone like him?

    No one would believe this.

    But waiting in the main hall, is none other than Long Xiao4Yun.

    When Jin WuMing exited the carriage, Long Xiao4Yun walked toward him, and said with a smile, “I’ve long heard of Mr. Jin’s name. It’s amazing that I got to see you today.”

    Jin WuMing just gazed at his own sword. He didn’t even look at Long Xiao4Yun.

    Long Xiao4Yun still kept his smile, said, “I’ve already prepared food and wine. Please help yourself.”

    Jin WuMing still stood there motionless. He said coldly, “Li XunHuan is here?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “This is Official Fan’s home. Official Fan wanted a vacation a few days back. The Emperor allowed him a three-month break.”

    When he got here, a smug expression appeared on Long Xiao4Yun’s face. He continued, “Elder Fan does not have any relatives. And his governor is a good friend of mine. So after he left, I borrowed it for a while.”

    Actually, the way he got this place is quite simple, because money can get one in into many places. Yet most people would never think of this trick.

    No wonder Long Xiao4Yun would feel smug.

    Jin WuMing still stared at his own hand. He suddenly said, “You think no one could possibly follow us here?”

    Long Xiao4Yun’s expression changed, but he still smiled, “If someone can follow you here, I’ll kowtow to him, in admiration.”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “Then be prepared to kowtow.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said with a smile, “But if…”

    After these two words, he stopped speaking. His smile quickly disappeared.

    Long Xiao3Yun followed his father’s gaze. His white face turned green.

    A person stood in the corner of the room.

    No one knew when he came, or how.

    End of Chapter 56

  19. #59
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 57: Fireworks

    He wore an ordinary green robe. It was very clean when he first put it on, but now it’s filled with mud and sweat. The pants are torn at the knees.

    His body is quite dirty, his hair messed up.

    But while this person stood there, Long Xiao4Yun could feel a killing aura bearing down on him.

    This person looked just like the sword on his waist.

    A sword without a sheath!

    Ah Fei!

    Ah Fei did come after all.

    Perhaps only Ah Fei could follow them here!

    The trickiest, most evasive animal is the fox.

    Even the smartest, best-trained dog might not be able to catch a fox.

    But Ah Fei caught a fox with his bear hands at the age of eleven.

    It was a grueling task to follow them, which is why he’s so dirty.

    But this is the real Ah Fei.

    Only like this, can he exude his courage, his coldness, and his intimidating savageness!

    A calm type of savageness! An extraordinary type of savageness!

    Long Xiao4Yun quickly regained his composure. He said, “So it’s brother Ah Fei. Nice to meet you.”

    Ah Fei glared at him coldly.

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “I really admire you for making it here.”

    Ah Fei still glared at him coldly. His eyes were bright and sharp. After two days of following, his eyes regained part of its original intensity.

    An intensity that rivaled Jin WuMing’s.

    Long Xiao4Yun smiled, and said, “Although you are a great tracker, Mr. Jin was still able to discover you.”

    Ah Fei looked at Jin WuMing.

    Their eyes met, like a sharp sword striking a cold, dark hard rock.

    No one knows if the sword is sharper? Or the stone is harder?

    Although neither person spoke, sparks came out of their gazes.

    Long Xiao4Yun looked at Jin WuMing, then at Ah Fei. He said, “Although Mr. Jin discovered you, he never said anything. Do you know why?”

    Ah Fei was seemingly drawn to Jin WuMing. His head never turned.

    Long Xiao4Yun chuckled, and said, “Because Mr. Jin wants you to be here.”

    He then turned towards Jin WuMing and said, “Am I right, Mr. Jin?”

    Jin WuMing’s also seemingly drawn to Ah Fei’s gaze. He didn’t move either.

    After a long time, Long Xiao4Yun began to laugh, and said, “There’s only one reason why Mr. Jin wanted you here. Because he wants to kill you!”

    Finally, Ah Fei’s gaze moved toward Jin WuMing’s sword.

    Jin WuMing’s gaze seemingly also moved towards Ah Fei’s sword.

    These might be the most similar swords in the world!

    Neither sword could be considered incredible weapons, made by top weapon smiths.

    Although both swords are sharp, they are too thin, too fragile! Too easily broken.

    Although the swords are similar, they are positioned differently.

    Ah Fei’s sword is located at the front of his waist, the handle tilted towards the right.

    Jin WuMing’s sword is located on the right side, the handle tilted towards the left.

    But in between these two swords, there seems to an unusual magnetic attraction.

    The two men’s eyes gazed intently at each other’s sword. They walked toward each other, but their eyes never left the swords.

    By the time they’re about two meters from each other, both suddenly stopped!

    Then, both stood as still as statues.

    Jin WuMing wore a simple and short yellow robe. The robe only goes to his knees. His cuffs are very tight. His fingers thin and long, but the bones stick out, showing incredible strength.

    Ah Fei’s robe is even shorter. His fingers are also very thin and long, but they are very strong, as if made of stone.

    Neither grooms much, but their nails are both very short.

    They don’t want anything to affect their speed of pulling out swords.

    These might be the two most similar people in the world!

    Now they’ve finally met.

    Only when the two are standing together, and you get to examine them closely, can you see beyond their superficial similarities, and see their differences.

    Jin WuMing’s face looks like a mask. His expression never changes.

    Although Ah Fei’s face is also serious, cold. But at any time, a fire could burn from within those eyes at any time, so much fire it could even burn his own body and soul.

    But Jin WuMing’s whole body is dead.

    Perhaps before his life even begun, his body had died.

    Ah Fei is amazingly patient, can wait, yet will not endure anyone.

    Jin WuMing can kill someone for a single word, perhaps even a single glance. Yet when necessary, he could endure anything.

    Both are unusual, but very scary.

    No one knew why Heaven would make such two people, why make them meet.

    It’s late autumn.

    The leaves are withered.

    The wind is not blowing heavily, but yellow leaves continuously float down. Could it be because of the killing auras?

    An unspeakable chill rose into the air.

    Although the two swords are still at their waists. Although the two people have not even moved their hands. But Long Xiao4Yun and his son are already gasping for air.

    Suddenly, cold lights shined!

    Ten flashes of light streaked across the air, towards Ah Fei!

    Long Xiao4Yun had attacked.

    Obviously, he didn’t expect these darts to actually hit Ah Fei. But if Ah Fei has to deal with these darts, Jin WuMing’s sword can penetrate his throat!

    The sword flashed in the air!

    A streak of ‘ding ding’ sounds could be heard. The cold flashes fell to the ground.

    Jin WuMing’s sword came out. The point of his sword streaked by Ah Fei’s ear.

    Ah Fei’s hand had held his sword, but the sword remained in his waist.

    The darts were cut down by Jin WuMing.

    The Long father and son’s faces sank.

    Jin WuMing and Ah Fei stared at each other. No expressions appeared on their faces.

    Then, Jin WuMing slowly put his sword back into his sheath.

    Ah Fei’s hand loosened the grip on his sword.

    After a long time, Jin WuMing suddenly said, “You realized that my sword aimed at those darts, and not at you?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    When the darts came, Jin WuMing’s sword came out. Other than reaching for his sword, Ah Fei showed no movement.

    Before Ah Fei could respond, Jin WuMing added, “But your reactionary speed has slowed dpwm.”

    Ah Fei thought for a long time. A gloomy expression appeared on his face, as he said, “You’re right!”

    Jin WuMing said, “I can kill you!”
    Ah Fei didn’t even have to think, “Yes.”

    Long Xiao4Yun and his son looked at each other. Both let out a sigh of relief.

    Jin WuMing suddenly said, “But I won’t kill you!”

    The Long father and son’s expression changed again.

    Ah Fei examined Jin WuMing’s dead, gray eyes carefully. After a long time, he said, “You won’t kill me?”

    Jin WuMing said, “I won’t kill you, because you are Ah Fei!”

    His eyes let out an indescribable painful expression. His eyes are even gloomier than Ah Fei’s.

    His mind wandered into the distance, and saw a person.

    A mixture of a goddess and a devil.

    After a long time, he continued, “If I were you, you could kill me today.”

    Perhaps not even Ah Fei could understand this. Only Jin WuMing would know.

    Anyone who lived two years like Ah Fei, would have worse reactionary speed. Besides, he had been taking sleeping drugs every night for the past two years.

    These drugs can certainly make anyone react more slowly.

    The reason Jin WuMing isn’t going to kill Ah Fei, is obviously not because of sympathy. It’s just that he understands Ah Fei’s pain, because he’s also experiencing that type of pain.

    Perhaps he wants Ah Fei to live, so someone could share his pain.

    When a lovesick person knew that someone else has also been discarded, his pain would lessen. When a man who lost money sees others losing even more money, he’d feel better.

    Ah Fei just stood there, as if trying to absorb Jin WuMing’s words.

    Jin WuMing said, “You can go now.”

    Ah Fei raised his head, and said emphatically, “I’m not leaving.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You won’t leave? You want me to kill you?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes!”

    Long Xiao3Yun suddenly yelled, “What about Lin XianEr? You’re willing to leave her behind?”

    These words struck Ah Fei like needles sticking into his heart. His body slumped.

    Jin WuMing turned toward Long Xiao4Yun, and said slowly, “I like to kill people. I like to kill them myself. Understand?”

    Long Xiao4Yun forced a smile, and said, “I understand.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You better understand, or I will kill you.”

    He looked away from Long Xiao4Yun, and said, “Where’s Li XunHuan? Take me to him.”

    Long Xiao4Yun glanced at Ah Fei, and said, “What about him…”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “I can kill him anytime I want to!”

    Ah Fei only felt his stomach churning. He suddenly bent down and began to vomit.

    He vomited bitter saliva, only bitter saliva.

    Because he hadn’t eaten anything the past two days.

    “You must promise me, that you’ll come back. I’ll wait for you forever…”

    These are the words of the woman he loves.

    For these words, he can’t die.

    But Li XunHuan…

    Li XunHuan’s not just his best friend, but also the his idol. How could he stand here, watching someone else kill Li XunHuan?

    He continued to vomit.

    Now, he’s coughing out blood.

    * * *

    Li XunHuan doesn’t know where he is. He doesn’t care.

    He can’t tell night from day.

    He can’t even move, because all his main pressure points are sealed.

    No food, no water.

    He’s been here for over ten days.

    Even if his pressure points weren’t sealed, the hunger was enough to immobilize him.

    Jin WuMing glared at him

    He lied at the corner of the room.

    The room is quite dim. No one could see his expression. They could only see his dirty, ragged shirt, thin, weak face, and those miserable eyes.

    Jin WuMing suddenly said, “So this is Li XunHuan?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes!”

    Jin WuMing looked seemingly disappointed, and doesn’t quite believe Long Xiao4Yun. He said, “This is the famous Little Li Tan Hua?”

    Long Xiao4Yun sighed, and said, “I didn’t want to do this to him. But… ‘Men may not want to hurt tigers, but tigers want to hurt men.’ Circumstances dictated that I must do this.”

    Jin WuMing remained silent for a while, then said, “Where’s his dagger?”

    Long Xiao4Yun thought for a moment, and then said, “Does Mr. Jin wants to see his dagger?”

    Jin WuMing did not respond, because this question is pointless.

    Long Xiao4Yun finally took out a dagger.

    The dagger is very light, very short, very thin, like a piece of leaf.

    Jin WuMing held the dagger tightly, as if he doesn’t want to let it go.

    Long Xiao4Yun said with a smile, “Actually, this is a very ordinary dagger. It’s hardly a piercing weapon.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Piercing weapon? Are you even qualified to say what a piercing weapon is?”

    His eyes suddenly glanced at Long Xiao4Yun, and said, “Do you even know what a piercing weapon is?”

    His eyes are still the dead, gray color they always were. But there’s something insidious about them, as if they are the devil’s eyes in your nightmares. So frightening you feel scared even after waking up.”

    Long Xiao4Yun found that he began to have trouble breathing. He forced a smile, and said, “Please enlighten me.”

    Jin WuMing’s eyes returned to the dagger. He said, “If it can kill, then it’s a piercing weapon. Otherwise, even the most prized and the sharpest weapons, when they fall into the hands of people like you, are just junk.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes, yes. Mr. Jin is quite correct. I understand…”

    Jin WuMing didn’t even listen to him. He suddenly said, “Do you know how many people died under this type of dagger?”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Probably… probably too many to count.”

    Jin WuMing said, “It’s countable!”

    Although the Golden Money Clan has only been around for two years, they’ve already done vast amounts of research on all the details of the martial world. ShangGuan JinHong’s mottos are

    “Every detail is important. Don’t overlook anything.”

    “A piece of tillage, a piece of harvest.’

    It’s not luck that the Golden Money Clan has become so dominant.

    Long Xiao4Yun had also heard, that even before the clan appeared, ShangGuan JinHong had already studied every single famous person in the martial world.

    How much effort did it take to do this?

    Long Xiao4Yun doesn’t seem to believe him, and couldn’t help asking, “If so, how many?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Sixty-seven.”
    He then added coldly, “Among these sixty-seven, none of them had lower kung fu than you.”

    Long Xiao4Yun could only smile along. His gaze turned toward Li XunHuan, as if asking him to confirm this.

    But Li XunHuan doesn’t seem to have the energy to do anything.

    Long Xiao3Yun suddenly said with a smile, “If Li XunHuan died from this type of dagger, hehe. Wouldn’t that be something?”

    Before he finished speaking, the dagger shined, streaking towards Li XunHuan.

    Long Xiao3Yun almost jumped in excitement.

    But the dagger did not land in Li XunHuan’s throat, but rather in a stone besides Li XunHuan.

    So Jin WuMing is an expert on hidden weapons too.

    Jin WuMing suddenly said, “Unseal his pressure points.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “But…”

    Jin WuMing didn’t give him a chance to respond. He said coldly, “I said, unseal his pressure points.”

    Long Xiao4Yun and his son looked at each other. They realized Jin WuMing’s intentions.

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Clan Leader ShangGuan only wants Li XunHuan’s person. He doesn’t have to be alive.”

    Long Xaio3Yun said, “Old Uncle ShangGuan doesn’t drink. So he obviously hates drunkards. Only a dead drunkard is a drunkard that can’t drink, and won’t look so loathsome.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Besides, it’s certainly easier to escort a dead person than a live one.”

    Long Xiao3Yun said, “Of course, Mr. Jin would surely not kill a person who can’t defend himself. So…”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “You are talking way too much.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “Yes, yes. I’ll go unseal his pressure points now.”

    He was the one who sealed Li XunHuan’s pressure points. So this wasn’t a difficult task for him.

    Long Xiao4Yun patted Li XunHuan on the shoulders, and said tenderly, “Brother, looks like Mr. Jin wants to duel with you. Mr. Jin’s swordsmanship is world-renowned. You should be very careful.”

    At this moment, he could actually call Li XunHuan ‘brother’. And say it in a caring manner.

    How could you not be in awe of him?

    Li XunHuan did not say anything.

    There’s nothing else to say. He just smiled weakly, and slowly pulled out the dagger by his side.

    He stared at the dagger. Tears seemingly came down his eyes.

    This is the world-famous dagger that has never missed.

    Now, the dagger is in his hand.

    But does he have the energy to still release it?

    A woman losing her beauty, a hero reaching the end of the road. Both are tragedies of life.

    One can’t help but pity them.

    But at this moment, no one pitied him.

    Long Xiao3Yun’s eyes glowed. He said with a smile, “Little Li’s Flying Dagger never misses. But I wonder if it will still work this time.”

    Li XunHuan raised his head and looked at Long Xiao3Yun. Then he lowered it back down again.

    Jin WuMing said, “When I’m about to kill someone, I have to give my opponent a chance. This is your last chance, understand?”

    Li XunHuan smiled, a very pitiful smile.

    Jin WuMing said, “Ok. You can get up now.”

    Li XunHuan began to cough.

    Long Xiao3Yun said tenderly, “If Uncle Li can’t get up, I can help you.”

    He blinked his eyes, and quickly continued with a smile, “But I don’t think that’ll be necessary. I heard that Uncle Li could release his dagger even while lying down.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and seemingly wanted to speak.

    But before he could do so, a person came in.

    Ah Fei!

    There’s seemingly no blood on Ah Fei’s face. But there is a bit on the side of his mouth.

    At this moment, he looked a lot older.

    He flew in at lightning speed. But once he entered the room, he became still as a statue.

    Jin WuMing said, “You still won’t give up?”

    Li XunHuan raised his head. Tears came out the side of his eyes.

    Ah Fei only glanced at him, just a glance. Then he turned toward Jin WuMing, and said, “Before killing him, you must kill me!”

    He said this very calmly, very seriously. There’s no sign of excitement in his voice.

    This showed his resolve.

    Jin WuMing’s eyes changed into a different type of expression. He said, “You don’t care about her anymore?”

    Ah Fei said, “Even if I die, she can still live on.”

    He said this calmly. But a hint of sadness appeared on his face. His breathing quickened.

    Jin WuMing saw this.

    He seemingly became more content upon hearing these words, and said, “You don’t care that she’ll be sad?”

    Ah Fei said, “If I can’t live contently, then it’s better to die. If I don’t die, she will be sadder.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You think she’s that kind of a person?”

    Ah Fei said, “Of course!”

    In Ah Fei’s mind, Lin XianEr’s not just a goddess, but also a saint.

    A faint smile appeared on the side of Jin WuMing’s mouth.

    No one had ever seen him smile. Even he himself doesn’t remember when he first smiled.

    He smiled very awkwardly, because his muscles don’t seem to know how to smile.

    He has never wanted to smile, because a smile and soften a person’s heart.

    But this is a different type of a smile… this smile is sharp as a sword. Except swords hurt people’s body, this smile hurts their feelings.

    Ah Fei doesn’t understand this smile at all. He said coldly, “You don’t have to smile. Although there’s an eight percent chance that you’ll kill me, there’s also a twenty percent chance that I’ll kill you.”

    Jin WuMing’s smile disappeared. He said, “Since I told you that I won’t kill you, I’m not going to spare your life.”

    Ah Fei said, “No need.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I want to see you alive, so I can see…”

    Before he finished this sentence, swords flashed.

    The sword lights shined past each other, streaking fast as lightening.

    But another flash streaked even faster than the swords. What is it?

    In the next moment, all the flashes disappeared.

    All movements stopped.

    End of Chapter 57

  20. #60
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 58: Hero

    Jin WuMing’s sword had penetrated Ah Fei’s right shoulder. But the sword only went in an inch.

    Ah Fei’s sword is still a few inches from Jin WuMing’s throat.

    Blood flowed down Ah Fei’s shoulder, turning his shirt red.

    Why did Jin WuMing’s sword stop?

    On the back of Jin WuMing’s shoulder, sticks a dagger!

    Little Li’s Flying Dagger!

    What kind of force allowed Li XunHuan to release this dagger?

    Long Xiao4Yun and Long Xiao3Yun’s faces turned white. Their hands shook, as they slowly backed off. Both wondered where Li XunHuan got his energy.

    Li XunHuan got up!

    Jin WuMing turned around, and examined Li XunHuan. There’s still no expression on his face. After a long time, he finally said, “Great dagger!”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “Not really. It’s just that you took me too lightly. Or I might not have been able to hurt you!”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “By being able to trick me, you’ve shown to be superior.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I didn’t trick you, nor said that I have no power to release the dagger. You simply thought this way. Your eyes lied to you.”

    Jin WuMing thought for a moment, then said, “You’re right. I made the mistake. It had nothing to do with you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Good. You might be a killer, but at least not a conniving person.”

    Jin WuMing glanced at Long Xiao4Yun and his son, then said coldly, “Conniving people aren’t qualified to be killers.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You can go now.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Why didn’t you kill me?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because you didn’t plan on killing my friend.”

    Jin WuMing lowered his head, and looked at the dagger on his shoulder. He said, “But I wanted to cripple his arm with my strike.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I know.”

    Jin WuMing said, “But my dagger wound is very light.”

    Li XunHuan said, “ ‘Someone grants me one penny, I repay him three pennies back.’ ”

    Jin WuMing raised his head, and looked at Li XunHuan closely. Although he spoke no words, a strange change occurred in Jin WuMing’s eyes. He looked at Li XunHuan similar to how he looked at ShangGuan JinHong.

    Li XunHuan said, “I also want to tell you two more things.”

    Jin WuMing said, “What?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Although I’ve injured sixty-seven people, twenty-eight of them did not die. Those who died deserved it.”

    Jin WuMing did not speak.

    Li XunHuan coughed a few times lightly, then continued, “I’ve never wrongly killed anyone in my life! That’s why… I hope that you’ll think twice before you kill.”

    Jin WuMing thought for a long time, then said, “I also want to tell you something.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I’m listening.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I never accept anyone’s kindness, nor accept anyone’s lecture!”

    At this moment, he suddenly slapped the dagger down with his hand.

    The dagger pierced through his body, coming out on the other side.

    Blood came out!

    ‘Dang’, the sword also dropped to the ground.

    Jin WuMing’s body shook for a moment, but his face remained expressionless. He showed no signs of pain, neither on his face, nor his body.

    He didn’t say a single word, nor looked at anyone. He simply walked out the room!

    Hero? … What’s a hero like? Is he a hero?

    A hero usually represents: Coldness! Brutality! Loneliness! Ruthless!

    Someone has said this about heroes:

    Kill people as if they were grass, gamble like there’s no tomorrow, always drink good wine, and a lecher with no regret!

    Of course, not all heroes are like this. Some are different.

    But how many heroes are there like Li XunHuan?

    There might be only one thing in common among heroes. That is, all heroes lead depressing lives.

    Ah Fei sighed deeply, and said, “He probably can never use a sword again in his life.”

    Li XunHuan said, “He still has his right hand.”

    Ah Fei said, “But he’s used to using the left hand. His right hand would be much slower.”

    He sighed again, and continued, “For a swordsman, ‘slow’ means ‘death’.”

    He almost never sighs.

    But now, he not only sighed for Jin WuMing, but also himself.

    Li XunHuan examined him, and then said, “If a person has the willpower, even if he has no hand, he would still be able to use a fast sword held by his mouth. If one’s dejected, even if he has the use of both hands, would still find both hands useless.”

    He chuckled, and continued, “Many people in the world has two perfectly healthy hands. But how many of those hands have blazing speed?”

    Ah Fei listened carefully. After a while, a bright glow appeared in his eyes.

    He suddenly rushed over to Li XunHuan’s side, grabbed his arms, and said, “I understand what you mean.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I knew you’d understand.”

    When he finished these words, tears came down both of their faces. If a third person could watch this, he’d certainly be moved.

    Too bad Long Xiao4Yun and his son are not this type of people. They were quietly trying to get away.

    Li XunHuan’s back was toward them. He didn’t seem to notice.

    Ah Fei seemingly glanced at them, but didn’t say anything.

    Only after till they were out the door, did Ah Fei sigh, and said, “I knew you were going to let them go.”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “He once saved me.”

    Ah Fei said, “He saved you once, but he had hurt you many times.”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “It’s not that I forgot about them. But rather, I never remember these things, because he has his worries too.”

    Ah Fei thought for a while, then suddenly smiled. He said, “I finally realized, that there are many things in this world which are not fair.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Not fair?”

    Ah Fei said, “Not fair. For example, some people might be virtuous their whole life, but only made one mistake. Yet this one mistake would follow them their whole lives. Not only could others not forgive them, not even they could forgive themselves.”

    Li XunHuan did not respond.

    He realized that Ah Fei’s words are true.

    Ah Fei continued, “Yet there are people like Long Xiao4Yun. He might’ve done only one good thing in life, and that is by saving you. So you’d never think that he’s too bad a person.”

    Li XunHuan suddenly realized why Ah Fei’s saying all this.

    He’s trying to argue for Lin XianEr.

    He feels that Lin XianEr has only done one thing wrong in life, yet Li XunHuan would never forgive her.

    ‘Love’ really is amazing. Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s bitter, sometimes it’s very scary… It can turn people into idiots, and turn people’s eyes blind.

    When Long Xiao4Yun and his son escaped, both felt very pleased with themselves.

    Long Xiao4Yun couldn’t help but smile and said, “Remember. All take advantage of other people’s weaknesses. If you can take advantage of your opponents, you’ll never lose.”
    Long Xiao3Yun said, “I now know all of Li XunHuan’s weaknesses.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “So we’re bound to get him sooner or later.”

    He suddenly heard someone laugh.

    Li XunHuan laughed quite strangely. He said, “Some memories are forgotten quickly, but others will stay with you forever.”

    Ah Fei sighed, and said, “That’s because you refuse to remember some memories.”

    He might be only a young man, but his views on certain things in life are deeper than most grown man.

    Li XunHuan said, “While you may refuse to remember certain things, your mind can’t help but think about them. A person can never choose what he remembers. Perhaps this is one of the sadness of life.”

    Ah Fei said, “What about you? Can you honestly just remember that he had once saved you? That you had forgotten about everything else?”

    The laughter came from the opposite rooftop.

    A person sat on the rooftop, eating a piece of chicken. He’s none other than Crazy Hu.

    His eyes looked only at the chicken, and not at Long Xiao4Yun or his son. He seemingly finds the chicken much more pleasing to the eyes.

    He said, “You don’t have to run away so quickly. Li XunHuan won’t come after you. Or he wouldn’t have let you out the door in the first place.”

    Long Xiao4Yun’s face suddenly turned very nasty.

    He just realized where Li XunHuan got his strength.

    But he can’t offend Crazy Hu.

    Long Xiao4Yun suddenly chuckled, and said, “I’m quite apologetic that you have to take care of my brother these past days.”

    Crazy Hu said, “It’s not a big deal. Li XunHuan doesn’t eat much. He only needs two chicken legs and a piece of bread a day. Besides, you have an idiot guarding the door. I just sealed his sleeping pressure points twice a day, and he actually thought that he naturally dozed off.”

    Long Xiao4Yun grinded his teeth. He wished to see that guard sleep forever right now.

    Crazy Hu continued, “Obviously, I repay all my debts. But now we’re even. And I never care to speak to the likes of you anyway.”

    Long Xiao4Yun could only pretend to smile along.

    Crazy Hu said, “But I do have to tell you one last thing before I leave.”

    Long Xiao4Yun said, “I’m listening.”

    Crazy Hu said, “You might be a load of crap, but ShangGuan JinHong is a bigger load of crap. If you want to be his sworn brother, I suggest you find a rope to hang yourself instead.”

    This really is the last thing he said. When he finished talking, he left in a flash.

    Long Xiao4Yun smiled, and said, “Never thought so many people would know about ShangGuan JinHong and I becoming sworn brothers.”

    * * *

    They walked slowly.

    Li XunHuan and Ah Fei did not talk.

    They knew that silence can sometimes be more precious than words.


    A person is blowing a flute. The music also carried a rustle of the autumn air.

    This type of music tends to bring back one’s memories, and make them think of loved ones.

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “I need to get back.”

    Li XunHuan said, “She’s waiting for you?”

    Ah Fei said, “Yes.”

    Li XunHuan did not respond. After a while, he couldn’t help but ask, “You’re certain that she’s going to wait for you?”

    Ah Fei’s face turned white. After a long time, he finally said, “She asked me to come rescue you.”

    Li XunHuan’s at a loss for words.

    He understood Lin XianEr’s mind quiet well. But can’t figure out why she would do this.

    Ah Fei said, “There are two most important people in my life. I hope… you can become friends.”

    He spoke this very slowly, in fragments, very painfully.

    Upon seeing his pain, Li XunHuan couldn’t help but feel for him.

    Only someone who has loved, knows just how powerful and scary love is.

    Li XunHuan suddenly said, “I want to see her too.”

    Ah Fei’s lips closed tightly.

    Li XunHuan said, “If it’s inconvenient, you can just tell her that I said thanks.”

    Ah Fei finally said, “I… I just hope that you won’t hurt her.”

    Ah Fei really shouldn’t have said these words. Because he knew that Li XunHuan never hurts anyone else… just himself.

    He only said this because of Lin XianEr.

    Raising their heads, a sea of candlelight greeted their eyes.

    For some reason, they’ve managed to return to that busy street.

    This street is livelier at night than the day. There are all kinds of little shops here, each with many bright candles lighting up the merchandises.

    A row of candy gourds sparkled under the lights.

    Li XunHuan suddenly stopped.

    A face seemingly appeared on the surface of each candy gourd.

    A face of a young girl wearing a red dress, with big eyes and a bright smile.

    Then, he saw that dumpling restaurant.

    “Is LingLing still there?”

    Li XunHuan felt very ashamed, because he totally forgot about her.

    He saw that Ah Fei has the same expression LingLing had when she came… Ah Fei had never been to this type of place before.

    Li XunHuan laughed.

    He’s happy that his friend hasn’t lost touch with his inner child.

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “It’s been a long time since we last drank together.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You want a drink?”

    Ah Fei said, “For some reason, only when I’m with you, do I feel like drinking.”

    Then Ah Fei also laughed.

    Li XunHuan’s mood also brightened up. He said, “How about we go to that dumpling house over there?”

    Ah Fei said with a smile, “Sure. I can’t afford anything more expensive anyway.”

    Some things in life really are strange.

    For example:

    The uglier the woman, the more likely she is to do strange things. The poorer the person, the more he is to treat others to meals.

    It really is quite enjoyable to treat others to a meal. Too bad not many people know how to enjoy such a thing.

    In a corner table, sat a white-robed man.

    Li XunHuan saw him immediately upon entering.

    Anyone would be attracted by this man.

    Although this place is filled with smoke and oil, his clothing looked bright and clean. The robe looked seemingly just washed.

    The robe looks very simple, but also very luxurious.

    But the most striking part about him is his mannerism.

    He has an indescribable charisma about him.

    All the tables around him are empty. Because everyone would feel unworthy of sitting next to him.

    He is the same person who used a silver nugget to break the green-robed burly man’s pole. The same person who broke the silver nugget into pieces with his hand.

    Why is he still here? Is he waiting for someone?

    He just picked up his cup. But when Li XunHuan came in, he stopped. His eyes moved towards Li XunHuan’s face.

    To the opposite of him sat another person. She’s a young girl in a red dress, with long ponytails.

    End of Chapter 58

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