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Thread: Dagger Lee unabridged

  1. #61
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 59: Courage

    Following his eyes, she turned around and saw Li XunHuan. Then she dashed over to him, grabbing his waist tightly.

    She said with a big smile, “I knew you would come. I knew you wouldn’t forget me.”

    LingLing really did wait for him…

    Li XunHuan looked excited. He grabbed her hands and said, “You… you’ve been waiting all this time?”

    LingLing nodded. She bit her lips and said, “Why did you come so late? You had me so worried…”

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “You really were waiting for him?”

    Only now did LingLing notice Ah Fei. Her expression changed… Of course she knew Ah Fei, but Ah Fei had never seen her.

    LingLing blinked her eyes, before she finally said, “If I weren’t waiting for him, then what am I here for?”

    Ah Fei said coldly, “You can be here for many reasons. But if you were waiting for someone, your eyes should be gazing the front door. Anyone waiting for someone would not have his back turned against the door.”

    Li XunHuan didn’t expect Ah Fei to say this.

    Ah Fei never likes to hurt others’ feelings. Yet his words had become so sharp, so scary.

    Because he can’t tolerate anyone lying to his friend.

    Li XunHuan sighed inside.

    Ah Fei examines things deeper than most people in this world.

    So how did he become so blind in front of Lin XianEr?

    LingLing’s eyes turned red. Tears quickly came down her eyes, as she said, “If you had ever waited in the same place for over ten days, you’d know why my back’s toward the door.”

    She wiped away some tears, and continued, “At first, my heart would jump every time a customer came in, thinking he’s back. But after a while, I found that if the person you’re waiting for won’t come, watching the door is pointless. Watching would only make you more depressed.”

    Ah Fei did not respond.

    He found that he had spoke too much.

    LingLing lowered her head, and said, “If it weren’t for that brother Lu accompanying me, I’d probably go crazy.”

    Li XunHuan’s eyes turned towards the white-robed man, meeting his gaze.

    Li XunHuan walked over, and said, “Thank you…”

    The white-robed man cut him off, “No need to thank me. I stayed not to accompany her, but to wait for you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Wait for me?”

    The white-robed man said, “Right.”

    He smiled, and continued, “Not many people in the world are worthy enough for me to wait. Little Li Tan Hua is one of them.”

    Before Li XunHuan could respond, LingLing suddenly said, “I never told you who he is. How come you know him?”

    The white-robed man said, “If you want to travel in the martial world, and live a bit longer, you really should recognize a few people. Little Li Tan Hua is one of them.”

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “Who are the others?”

    The white-robed man glared at him, and said, “At the very least, you and I both count!”

    Ah Fei looked at his own hands, an indescribable dreariness appeared in his eyes. He sat down on a neighboring table, and said, “BaiGan Wine!”

    The waiter said, “What kind of dishes do you want to go with that?”

    Ah Fei said, “Wine, yellow wine.”

    Anyone who knows about drinking, knows that the fastest way to get drunk is by accompanying wine with wine, using yellow wine to accompany BaiGan wine.”

    But most people don’t use this combination. Because unless a person is incredibly miserable, he doesn’t really want to get drunk too fast.

    The white-robed man watched him intently.

    His penetrating eyes slowly relaxed, then seemingly looked disappointed. But when those eyes turned toward Li XunHuan, they immediately became alert again.

    Li XunHuan said, “May I ask for your name…”

    The white-robed man said, “Lu FengXian.”

    Li XunHuan didn’t seem surprised. He smiled, and said, “So you really are ‘Silver Halberd, Warm Throat’ Hero Lu.”

    Lu FengXian said coldly, “ ‘Silver Halberd, Warm Throat’ died ten years ago!”

    This time, Li XunHuan was shocked.

    But he didn’t ask further, because he knew that Lu FengXian would explain.

    Lu FengXian continued, “‘Silver Halberd, Warm Throat’ is dead, but Lu FengXian is not!”

    Li XunHuan pondered at these words’ meanings.

    Lu FengXian is a very proud man.

    Bai XiaoSheng ranked his Silver Marquis Halberd number five in the Book of Weapons. To others, this might be a glorious thing. To him, it’s an absolute shame.

    He can’t bear to be under anyone else, but also realized that Bai XiaoSheng can’t be wrong.

    So he must have destroyed his own twin Silver Marquis Halberd, and created an even deadlier type of kung fu!

    Li XunHuan slowly nodded, and said, “You’re right. I should’ve realized that ‘Silver Halberd, Warm Throat’ is already dead.”

    Lu FengXian then said coldly, “Lu FengXian was dead for ten years. Only now is he reborn.”

    Li XunHuan’s eyes glowed, and he said, “What revived Hero Lu?”

    Lu FengXian slowly raised a single hand, a right hand.

    He put this hand on the table, and said, “It’s this hand that revived me!”

    To others, this may seem like an ordinary hand.

    The fingers are long, but the nails are neatly trimmed. The surface is very smooth.

    This is very befitting of Lu FengXian’s stature.

    But if you look closely, you’ll realize what’s so special about it.

    The skin color of the index finger, middle finger, and ring finger is different from other places.

    The skin on these three fingers carried a special shine. They looked as if they’re made of metal, not skin.

    Yet these three fingers are nonetheless grown on his hands.

    How could a hand made of meat have three fingers made of metal?

    Lu FengXian looked at his own hand, and sighed deeply. He said, “Too bad Bai XiaoSheng’s already dead.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What if he wasn’t?”

    Lu FengXian said, “If he wasn’t, I’d ask him, ‘Can a hand be considered a weapon?’”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “I heard a person say something very interesting today.”

    Lu FengXian said, “What did he say?”

    Li XunHuan said, “He said that only something that can kill, can be considered a piercing weapon.”

    He continued, “Hands had always been weapons. But a hand that can kill, is not only a weapon, but a piercing weapon.”

    Lu FengXian did not respond, didn’t even seem to move.

    But his three fingers in the middle suddenly pierced through the table.

    They made no noise. The wine cups on the table didn’t shake at all. His fingers pierced through the table like it was made of tofu.

    Lu FengXian said, “If this hand can be considered a weapon, I wonder where it would rank on the Book of Weapons!”
    Li XunHuan said, “It’s hard to tell right now.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Why?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because a weapon is designed to attack humans, not tables.”

    Lu FengXian suddenly laughed.

    It’s a cold, sinister laugh. He then said, “But in my eyes, the people in this world are really no different from this table.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Lu FengXian said, “Of course, some people are exceptions.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Which people?”

    Lu FengXian said, “I thought there were six. But now there are only four.”

    He purposely glanced at Ah Fei, and continued, “Because Guo SongYang is already dead. And while another one’s alive, he’s not much different from a dead person.”

    Ah Fei’s back faced Lu FengXian, and didn’t notice his expression.

    But at this moment, Ah Fei’s face suddenly turned green.

    He realized what Lu FengXian had meant.

    Li XunHuan suddenly laughed, and said, “But that person will revive, and it won’t take ten years.”

    Lu FengXian said, “I doubt it.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If you can come back to life, why not him?”

    Lu FengXian said, “I’m different.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What’s the difference?”

    Lu FengXian said, “I didn’t ‘die’ in a woman’s hand. And my heart never died.”

    Crack, the wine cup in Ah Fei’s hand broke apart.

    Yet he still sat there quietly,

    Lu FengXian didn’t even look at him. His eyes remained on Li XunHuan, as he said, “The reason I came back into the martial world, is to find these four people. To prove whether my hand can be considered a piercing weapon. That’s why I waited here for you!”

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time, before he said, “You must prove this?”

    Lu FengXian said, “Yes.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Who are you proving to?”

    Lu FengXian said, “To myself.”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “That’s right. One can lie to everyone, but himself…”

    Lu FengXian suddenly got up, and said, “I’ll wait for you outside!”

    For some reason, all other restaurant patrons had already left.

    LingLing looked scared to death.

    Li XunHuan slowly got up.

    LingLing suddenly grabbed his robe, and whispered, “You… you are really going?”

    Li XunHuan said with a bitter smile, “There are some obligations in life you just can’t hide from.”

    He then looked at Ah Fei.

    Ah Fei did not turn around.

    Lu FengXian was just about to walk out the door.

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “Hold on.”

    Lu FengXian stopped, but didn’t turn around. He said, “Do you have something to say?”

    Ah Fei’s hand tightly clutched the cup he just broke.

    Blood dripped down his hand.

    He said, “I want to prove something. Prove whether I’m alive or dead!”

    Lu FengXian immediately turned around.

    It’s as if he just noticed the existence of Ah Fei.

    Then his pupils began to shrink, and a faint smile appeared on the side of his lips. He said, “Good. I’ll wait for you too!”


    There are many duels in the martial world every day. Different people duel in different ways, at different places.

    But there are only a few places for life and death duels.

    Empty grasslands, woods, graveyards…

    Life and death duels almost always take place in one of these places. Because these places carry stenches of death.

    It’s nearly dark. There’s fog.

    Lu FengXian’s robe is white as snow. He stood in front of a gray tombstone. In the fog, he looked like a messenger from the underworld, here to give letters to those about to die.

    LingLing stayed by Li XunHuan’s side. Her body kept shaking.

    Is she cold? Or scared?

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “Get out of here!”

    LingLing instinctively recoiled, and said, “Me?”

    Ah Fei said, “You.”

    LingLing bit her lips, and looked at Li XunHuan.

    Li XunHuan is staring into the distance.

    Is his heart far away? Or is the fog too thick?

    LingLing lowered her head, and murmured, “I can’t listen to your conversations?”

    Ah Fei said, “No. No one can hear.”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “He’s accompanied you for several days now. You should accompany him now.”

    LingLing thought for a moment, then stomped her feet, and yelled, “You didn’t want to come here, or stay here. You people are so stupid. All you know is kill… you kill me, I kill you. What’s the point of all this? You people don’t know why you do this either… If heroes are all like this, I wish all the heroes in the world would die!”

    Li XunHuan, Ah Fei, and Lu FengXian all just listened quietly.

    Then they quietly let her run away.

    Ah Fei didn’t even bother to look at her. After he heard the footsteps disappear, he said to Li XunHuan, “I’ve never requested anything from you, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “You never requested anything from anyone.”

    Ah Fei said, “But I need a favor from you now.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Go ahead.”

    Ah Fei grinded his teeth, and said, “I don’t want you to stop me. I must go. If you stop me, I’ll… I’ll die!”

    Li XunHuan’s face looked terrible. He said, “But, you really don’t need to do this.”

    Ah Fei said, “I must do this, because…”

    With a painful expression, he continued, “Because Lu FengXian is correct. If I keep this up, I’ll be no different from a dead person. I can’t let this chance get away.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Chance?”

    Ah Fei said, “If I want to revive, this is my last chance.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You mean there won’t be any more chances later?”

    Ah Fei shook his head, and said, “Perhaps there might be. But I… if I lose my confidence today, I’ll never have to courage to get back up again!”

    When a person has a huge setback, he’ll become depressed. Anyone who becomes too depressed, no matter how strong the person, would eventually lose his courage.

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time, and sighed. He said, “I know what you mean, but…”

    Ah Fei said, “I know I’m not as fast. Because I’ve found my reflexes becoming slower and slower these past two years.”

    Li XunHuan said tenderly, “As long as you have the will, everything will eventually be okay again. But now is not the right time.”

    Ah Fei said, “Now is exactly the right time.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Now? Why?”

    Ah Fei opened up his hand. There are still pieces of the cup stuck in his hand.

    Ah Fei said, “Because I suddenly realized something. Pain to the body not only can lessen pain to the mind, but also make a person more alert, more reactive.”

    He’s right. Pain can energize a person’s brain. This is just like when one rides a horse. If you smack it with a whip, and make it hurt, the horse will run faster.

    Li XunHuan thought for a while, and then said, “You’re confident?”

    Ah Fei said, “You don’t have confidence in me?”

    Li XunHuan suddenly laughed. He slapped Ah Fei on the shoulder, and said, “Fine. Go get him!”

    End of Chapter 59

  2. #62
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 60: Friendship

    Ah Fei remained there for a while, until he couldn’t help but ask, “That girl with you… who is she?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Her name is LingLing. She is a very unhappy child.”

    Ah Fei said, “I just know that she’s a liar.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Ah Fei said, “She wasn’t really waiting for you... And if she was, it’s for some other reason.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Really?”

    Ah Fei said, “If she was just there to wait for you, then she would obviously be very concerned about you.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps…”

    Ah Fei cut him off, “Looking at you, anyone would’ve realized just how much you had suffered. Yet she never asked how you turned out like this.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps she hasn’t had a chance.”

    Ah Fei said, “If she really cared about you, she wouldn’t need a ‘chance’ to ask about you.”

    Li XunHuan thought for a while, and then chuckled. He said, “You’re afraid that I might be tricked by this girl?”

    Ah Fei said, “I just know she’s not telling the truth.”

    Li XunHuan laughed, and said, “If you want to live a bit happier, then you should never expect women to tell you the truth.”

    Ah Fei said, “You think all women lie?”

    Li XunHuan seemingly didn’t want to answer this question. He said, “If you’re smart, never reveal to a woman that you’ve seen through her lies. Because no matter what you say, she’ll have a good explanation waiting. Even if you don’t believe her explanation, she still won’t admit that she’s lying.”

    He chuckled, and continued, “Therefore, if you meet a woman who lies, the best thing to do is to pretend that you believe her lies. Otherwise, you’re just asking for it.”

    Ah Fei stared at Li XunHuan, for a long, long time.

    Li XunHuan said, “Is there anything else you want to say?”

    Ah Fei suddenly laughed, and said, “Even if I do, there’s no need to say them. Because you already know everything I want to say.”

    Looking at Ah Fei’s back, Li XunHuan felt a great deal of happiness surging from his heart. This proud youngster did not falter.

    This time, he said many things, but never mentioned Lin XianEr.

    After all, love can’t truly control a man’s whole life.

    Ah Fei certainly is a true man.

    When a true man is being humiliated, he would rather never see the woman he loves, rather live a life of a loner, rather die.

    Because he wouldn’t be able to face her.

    But can Ah Fei really defeat Lu FengXian?

    If he loses, even if Lu FengXian doesn’t kill him, can he still live?

    Li XunHuan bent down, and began to cough.

    He coughed up blood.

    Lu FengXian stood there, waiting. He did not speak.

    This person is quite patient.

    A patient enemy is a deadly enemy.

    Ah Fei suddenly ripped off a piece of his shirt, and covered the wound on his hand.

    That piece of wine cup sunk further into his body.

    Blood, even in the dense fog, is still bright red!

    Only fresh blood can bring forth one’s primal strength from within. Other things, such as love or hate, can also accomplish such things. But blood is the most direct method.

    Ah Fei seemingly returned to the wilderness.

    ‘If you want to live, then your enemy must die.’

    Lu FengXian watched as Ah Fei came closer. He suddenly felt an indescribable force bearing down.

    He felt that the person coming closer isn’t really human, but rather a beast.

    A wounded beast!

    “The difference between a friend and an enemy, is like the difference between life and death.”

    “If someone wants you dead, then you must kill him first. There is no other option!”

    This is the law of the wilderness! It’s also the method for survival.

    ‘Mercy’ is never applicable in this environment.

    The blood dripped down, continuously. Ah Fei’s every muscle shook from the pain. Except his hand, which became more and more still.

    His gaze became colder and colder.

    Lu FengXian could never understand how this youngster could change so quickly.

    But he does understand Ah Fei’s sword art.

    The key to Ah Fei’s sword art is not ‘fast’ or ‘cruelty’, but rather ‘secretive’ and ‘accurate’.

    His first blow must be lethal, at the very least with 70% chance of success.

    That’s why he must ‘wait’!

    Wait until his opponent reveals his weakness, an opportunity for him to strike. Ah Fei can wait longer than most people in the world.

    However, Lu FengXian is determined not to give him this opportunity.

    Lu FengXian looked like he’s just standing there casually, as if his whole body is filled with weaknesses, open to attack. Ah Fei’s sword seemingly can strike every single part of his body.

    But when one has too many weaknesses, he actually has none.

    Because his whole body has become totally flexible.

    This ‘flexibility’ is the highest form of martial arts.

    Li XunHuan looked at him from afar, his eyes filled with anxiety.

    Lu FengXian has good reason to be arrogant.

    Li XunHuan was shocked to see how high his kung fu was. He couldn’t see how Ah Fei could beat him… because Ah Fei doesn’t have a chance to strike.

    Deeper into the night.

    Suddenly, a light appeared on the grassy plains, wildfire!

    The wind came from the west. Lu FengXian’s face just happened to be facing west.

    The wind blew by, carrying a bit of the fire towards Lu FengXian’s face.

    Lu FengXian’s eyes suddenly blinked, his left hand moved slightly, as if trying to brush off this bit of fire, but quickly stopped.

    In a duel of life and death, any unnecessary movement could be dangerous.

    But although his hand barely moved, his left arm’s muscles had already tensed from this ‘intention of moving’. Unable for him to maintain his total flexibility.

    Although this isn’t the best opportunity, it is still better than no opportunity.

    Ah Fei would never let an opportunity pass up.

    His sword came out!

    This attack is so extremely important.

    Ah Fei’s whole life depended on the success of this attack.

    If he succeeds, then he’ll return to his former self, cleansing himself of the terrible previous defeat.

    If this attack fails, then he’ll never again get his confidence back. Even if he’s alive, he’d probably be better off dead.

    He must succeed. He cannot fail.

    But can he really succeed?

    A streaking light flashed, then stopped!

    The sword broke.

    Ah Fei stepped back a step. Only a broken sword remained in his hand.

    The other piece of the sword rested between Lu FengXian’s fingers, but the sword tip had penetrated Lu FengXian’s shoulder.

    Although he managed to block Ah Fei’s sword, Lu FengXian was unfortunately, a little late.

    Blood poured down Lu FengXian’s shoulder.

    Ah Fei really did succeed.

    A strange glow seemingly appeared on Ah Fei’s face… the glow of victory.

    Lu FengXian’s face remained expressionless. He only glared at Ah Fei. The broken sword remained stuck on his shoulder, but he did not draw it out.

    Ah Fei stood there motionless. He seemingly does not care to attack again.

    For all his frustrations were dissipated after his first attack.

    He only wanted “victory”, not to “kill”.

    Lu FengXian looked like he’s still waiting for Ah Fei to attack again. After a long time, he finally said, “Good. Very good!”
    Anyone would feel happy, feel proud after hearing such a compliment from a man like Lu FengXian.

    But before he left, Lu FengXian suddenly added something else.

    “Li XunHuan really was telling the truth. He also did not misjudge you!”

    What did he mean? What did Li XunHuan say to him?

    Lu FengXian finally disappeared into the night.

    Li XunHuan smiled.

    He patted Ah Fei on the shoulders, and said with a smile, “See, you’re still you. I told you nothing could keep you down. Remember, everyone has his bad times. Do not let such things affect you.”

    He then added, “Now you can start anew. I have confidence in you…”

    Ah Fei suddenly cut him off, said, “You think I’ll never lose again?”

    Li XunHuan smiled, and said, “Lu FengXian’s abilities are second to none. If he can’t even dodge your sword, then who could?”

    Ah Fei said, “But… I felt like I didn’t really win.”

    Li XunHuan said, “What do you mean?”

    Ah Fei said, “I’m not as fast as I used to be.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Who told you this?”

    Ah Fei said, “No one needs to tell me. I can feel it myself…”

    His eyes still gazed at where Lu FengXian had disappeared, and continued, “I felt as if he could’ve beaten me. He shouldn’t have been so slow.”

    Li XunHuan said, “It’s possible that he’s actually more powerful than you. But you chose the best opportunity to strike. That’s where you’re better than him. That’s why you won!”

    He chuckled, and continued, “That’s why Lu FengXian lost, and did not complain. How could you still not have confidence after his compliments?”

    Ah Fei finally smiled.

    To a man who had gone through so much hardships, what’s more important than encouragements from a friend?

    Li XunHuan said, “No matter what, we should celebrate this event… What do you think we should do?”

    Ah Fei said, “We should drink, of course. What else can we do?”

    Li XunHuan laughed, and said, “You’re right. Of course we should drink. A celebration without wine is like an exquisite dish lacking salt…”

    Ah Fei said with a smile, “Actually, such a celebration would taste even worse than a dish lacking salt.”

    Ah Fei fell asleep.

    Wine, is a strange drink. Sometimes it makes a person happy, sometimes it makes them go to sleep.

    Ah Fei had barely slept the past few days. Yet he still woke up soon after falling asleep. He wondered why he could sleep for so long back at home.

    Once Ah Fei’s asleep, Li XunHuan left the inn.

    Soon he found another inn. He entered the yard of this inn.

    What’s he doing here in the middle of the night?

    It’s past midnight, yet one room still has a candle lit.

    Li XunHuan gently knocked on the door. A person inside immediately said, “Little Li Tan Hua?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    The door opened. Lu FengXian opened the door.

    Why is he here? How come Li XunHuan knew that he’d be here? What’s the purpose of this visit?

    Did they make some sort of secret arrangements?

    A distant and strange smile appeared on Lu FengXian’s face. He said coldly, “Li Tan Hua truly is a man of his word! You have come.”

    A little girl’s voice followed, “I told you that he’d keep any promise he made.”

    This little girl is none other than LingLing.

    Why is LingLing here with Lu FengXian?

    What did Li XunHuan promise?

    Li XunHuan slowly entered the room. He suddenly bowed in front of Lu FengXian, and said, “Thank you.”

    Lu FengXian said, “No need to thank me. Because this is just a deal between us.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But this is a deal that not all people would accept. So I still should thank you.”

    Lu FengXian said, “This really is a strange deal. I was shocked when you asked LingLing to tell me about it.”

    Li XunHuan said, “That’s why I asked her to explain it to you.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Actually, there was no need for explanation. You want me to lose to Ah Fei, because you want him to regain his confidence.”

    Li XunHuan said, “That was indeed my intent. I feel he is worthy.”

    Lu FengXian said, “That’s because you’re his friend. I’m not… I never thought anyone would ever ask me to do such a ridiculous thing.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But you still did it.”

    Lu FengXian stared at Li XunHuan intently, and said, “You were confident that I would agree to your deal?”

    Li XunHuan chuckled, and said, “At least I knew there was a chance, because I saw that you’re not an ordinary person. Only an extraordinary person can do such an extraordinary thing.”

    Lu FengXian continued to stare at Li XunHuan, and said, “You were also certain that Ah Fei would not kill me.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I knew that once he won, even just by an inch, he would not press further.”

    Lu FengXian suddenly sighed, and said, “You really did not misjudge him, nor me.”

    He suddenly snickered, “But I only agreed to let him win one exchange. Had he attacked again, I would’ve taken his life.”

    Li XunHuan’s eyes brightened, and said, “You are that confident?”

    Lu FengXian said, “You don’t believe me?”

    The two pair of eyes met each other. After a long time, Li XunHuan suddenly smiled, and said, “Perhaps you can now, but not in the future.”

    Lu FengXian said, “That’s why perhaps I should not have agreed to this deal. Leaving him alive is a threat to me.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But some people likes to feel threatened, because it gives them excitement, forcing them to improve. A person that’s truly ‘invincible’ would lead a very dull life.”

    Lu FengXian thought for a long time, before he said, “Perhaps… but I did not agree for this reason.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course not.”

    Lu FengXian said, “I agreed, because I like what you have to give me in return.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course.”

    Lu FengXian said, “You told me that as long as I do this, you’ll return any favor I ask.”

    Li XunHuan said, “That’s correct.”

    End of Chapter 60

  3. #63
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 61: Favor

    Lu FengXian suddenly let out an expression of loneliness… When someone’s lonely, then he must wish for friendship. Unfortunately, true friendship is not attainable by everyone.

    Lu FengXian said coldly, “What you’re saying is, you can die for him, and he can die for you, right?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Yes.”

    Lu FengXian said, “But you knew that I wouldn’t kill you. At least, I won’t kill you this way, right?”

    Li XunHuan remained silent.

    Lu FengXian glared at Li XunHuan, before he finally relaxed. He said, “I am indeed not going to kill you… Do you know why?”

    Li XunHuan still did not respond. Lu FengXian continued, “Because I want you to forever be indebted to me, forever feel like you owe me…”

    He actually smiled, and said, “Because if I want to kill you, there will be plenty of opportunities later. But I’ll never have this kind of chance again.”

    What does he mean? Is he trying to obtain Li XunHuan’s friendship?

    Li XunHuan thought for a long time, before he smiled. “Actually, you’ll have another chance.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Really?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I want to ask you to do something else.”

    Lu FengXian stared at him, as if he had never seen this person before. After a long time, Lu FengXian finally said, “You haven’t paid for the first deal yet. And you’re now asking me to do something else?”

    Li XunHuan said, “This isn’t another deal. I am asking for a favor.”

    Lu FengXian’s face looked gloomy, but his eyes shined. He said, “If it’s not a deal, why should I do it?”

    Li XunHuan smiled. It was a serene, honest smile.

    He looked at Lu FengXian intently, and said, “Because ‘I’ am asking for this favor.”

    This sentence seemed quite odd, not to mention quite arrogant.

    This is not something one would expect Li XunHuan to say.

    Yet Lu FengXian did not get mad. Instead, he felt a strange warmth in his heart. Because he realized that Li XunHuan’s extending out his friendship.

    Perhaps such friendship is the only brightness in a person’s lonely life.

    This brightness will never extinguish. For as long as humanity lives on, there will be endless supply of friendship.

    Lu FengXian said, “Everyone else said that Li XunHuan never ask for any favors, yet he just asked me a favor. Looks like I should be honored.

    Li XunHuan smiled, and said, “Since I already owe you, it’s no big deal to owe you some more.”

    Lu FengXian laughed. This time, a true laugh.

    He said, “Someone once said, the most important thing a businessman learns is how to obtain favors. Looks like you’d make a good businessman.”

    Li XunHuan said, “So you’ll do it?”

    Lu FengXian sighed, and said, “I can’t think of a reason to reject you. Better take this opportunity to quickly say your request.”

    Li XunHuan coughed a few times, and changed to a serious expression. He said, “Had you met Ah Fei a few years back, even without my request, he would’ve beaten you.”

    Lu FengXian did not speak. Does he agree to this statement?

    Li XunHuan said, “Had you met him back then, you would’ve seen a totally different person.”

    Lu FengXian said, “How could he change so quickly in two years?”

    Li XunHuan sighed, and said, “Because he met a person.”

    Lu FengXian said, “A woman?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course a woman. Only a woman can truly change a man.”

    Lu FengXian said, “He didn’t change. He’s just in a funk. Anyone who’s in a funk because of a woman shouldn’t be pitied. He should be laughed at.”

    Li XunHuan sighed again, and said, “Perhaps you are right. But you haven’t met this woman.”

    Lu FengXian said, “What difference does it make?”

    Li XunHuan said, “If you had met her, you might turn out just like Ah Fei.”

    Lu FengXian said, “You think I’m some little kid who has never seen a woman before?”

    Li XunHuan said, “You might’ve seen all sorts of woman. But she… she’s different from everyone else.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Really?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Someone used a very good phrase to describe her… She looks like a goddess, but she takes people down to Hell.”

    Lu FengXian’s eyes flickered. He suddenly said, “I know who you’re talking about.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You should’ve guessed. There’s only one such person like her in this world. Thankfully, just one, or I’d shudder to think what would happen to all the men in this world.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Regarding this person, I’ve heard many rumors about her.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Ah Fei has finally regained his form. I can’t bear to see him revert back. That’s why…”

    Lu FengXian said, “You want me to kill her?”

    Li XunHuan said, “I just want Ah Fei to never see her again. Because once he sees her, he wouldn’t be able to help himself.”

    Lu FengXian thought for a while, then said, “You can do this yourself.”

    Li XunHuan said, “I can’t.”

    Lu FengXian said, “Why not?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because if Ah Fei ever finds out, he’d hate me for the rest of his life.”

    Lu FengXian said, “But he should understand that this is for his benefit.” Li XunHuan said, “No matter how smart a person is, he’ll become an instant idiot when it comes to love.”

    Lu FengXian thought some more, before he said, “Why can’t you ask someone else to do this? Why me?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because even if someone else can defeat her, he probably wouldn’t have the heart to kill her. Because…”

    He raised his head, looked at Lu FengXian, and said, “Also, I have a hard time finding someone I can ask for favors.”

    The two pair of eyes met. Lu FengXian’s heart was suddenly filled with warmth.

    He could see from Li XunHuan’s eyes, his sadness and his loneliness.

    The loneliness and sadness that only heroes have.

    This is something only heroes can understand.

    Lu FengXian suddenly said, “Where is she?”

    Li XunHuan said, “LingLing knows where she is. But…”

    LingLing had passed out. She still hasn’t woken up yet.

    Li XunHuan glanced at her, and said, “You might not be able to get her to tell you the location.”

    Lu FengXian smiled, and said, “Don’t worry. I have my ways.”

    * * *

    Ah Fei woke up. Li XunHuan had gone to sleep.

    Even while sleeping, he kept coughing. Every time he coughed, his whole body shook in pain.

    The sun slowly rose outside the window.

    Ah Fei suddenly saw that he now has many more white hairs, many more wrinkles.

    Only his eyes are still young.

    Every time he sleeps, he would look very old, very fragile.

    His robe is very dirty.
    Who could imagine, that inside such a shell, exists extreme determination, a noble character, and an amazing spirit?

    Ah Fei looked at him. Tears came down Ah Fei’s eyes.

    He lives only to suffer through torment… different forms of torment, agony.

    But he did not fall! He also never felt that life is dark and gloomy.

    As long as he lives, there will be warmth, there will be light.

    He will always give happiness to others, leaving the sadness to himself.

    Ah Fei’s tears continue to fall.

    Li XunHuan continued to sleep soundly.

    To him, sleep has turned into a luxury.

    Ah Fei suddenly wants to go back home, in a hurry to see that beautiful face. But doesn’t want to wake him up. So Ah Fei quietly opened the door, and quietly walked out.

    It’s early in the morning. The sun just rose over the rooftops. Those traveling in a hurry had already left the inn, so the courtyard is very quiet. Only a parasol tree remains, standing alone amidst the cold late-autumn wind.

    Li XunHuan seems just like this tree. Despite knowing that autumn is over, and winter’s coming, they still wouldn’t give up, not until the last possible moment.

    Ah Fei sighed. He slowly walked out the courtyard.

    The leaves on the parasol tree had begun to wither. One by one, they fell to the ground. In front of his eyes, onto his body…

    * * *

    The fire is still burning. The soybean soup slowly simmered.

    Ah Fei never ate very fast. He allowed the soup to slowly enter his mouth, slowly flowing down into his stomach. When a person’s stomach is full, he’ll feel much more energized.

    He likes this feeling.

    The nightshift employee finally found some spare time. He sat down by the fire, drinking some wine slowly.

    This is just some leftover wine, already cold. Yet the employee found it quite satisfying.

    He’s happy, because he’s satisfied.

    Only someone truly satisfied can find real happiness.

    Ah Fei had always admired these people. He wanted to go drink with this person.

    But he controlled himself.

    “Perhaps, I might get to see her…”

    He doesn’t want her to smell any alcohol on his body.

    The majority of the people in this world live their lives for others… some for their loved ones, some for their enemies. Both types live agonizing lives.

    There are very few people in this world who are truly happy.

    The wind is blowing very hard. The dusts danced along with the wind. Not many people are walking on the street.

    Ah Fei raised his head, and looked out the door. Two people just happened to pass by.

    These two people didn’t walk very fast, but they looked to be in a hurry. Their minds are only on the road in front of them, and nothing else.

    The person walking in the front is a smallish, white-haired old man. He holds a pipe in one hand. His blue robe is now almost white.

    A little girl followed him. Her eyes are very big, her ponytails very long.

    Ah Fei recognize these two people. He saw them two years ago. They are the “old storyteller” and his granddaughter. He also remembered that their surname is Sun.

    But they did not see Ah Fei.

    Had they seen Ah Fei, perhaps everything would’ve turned out differently.

    Ah Fei finished his soup. He raised his head again, only to see another person walking by.

    This person is very tall. He wears a yellow robe, a large bamboo hat, tilted so low it’s hard to see his face. He walked in a very strange manner. He also seemed to be in a hurry, and didn’t turn around to look at Ah Fei.

    Ah Fei’s heart jumped.

    Jin WuMing!

    Jin WuMing’s eyes stared straight ahead, as if he’s following that old storyteller. He did not notice Ah Fei.

    However, Ah Fei noticed him, and the sword on his waist. But Ah Fei didn’t see that severed arm, the severed arm wrapped in cloth.

    Because once Ah Fei saw the sword, he could not see anything else.

    Because this sword gave him his first taste of defeat.

    Because this sword almost ruined him.

    Ah Fei clenched his fist. The wound on his palm reopened. Blood came out. His whole body tensed from the pain.

    He forgot about Jin WuMing’s severed arm.

    He only wants to challenge Jin WuMing again. That is his only wish.

    Jin WuMing quickly walked passed the door.

    Ah Fei stood up. He clenched his fist tighter.

    The more pain, the higher his awareness.

    The employee suddenly felt an indescribable coldness surrounding him. Turning around, he saw Ah Fei’s eyes.

    A pair of fiery eyes, but they make those who see them feel icy cold. The worker’s wine bowl fell out of his hand.

    But the bowl did not land on the ground. Ah Fei suddenly stretched out his hand, catching it in midair.

    No one could see how he caught the bowl.

    The worker was scared senseless.

    Ah Fei slowly put the wine bowl on the table. He poured out a cup of wine, and drank the whole cup.

    A great deal of confidence surged from within his heart.

    At this moment, another person passed by the door.

    This person also wears a yellow robe, and a bamboo hat, tilted very low in front. He also walked in a very strange manner.

    ShangGuan Fei!

    Ah Fei doesn’t know who ShangGuan Fei is. But he immediately realized that this person and Jin WuMing are close. And that he is secretly following Jin WuMing.

    ShangGuan Fei is a bit shorter than Jin WuMing, and a bit younger. Yet that cold expression, that walking style. It’s as if they’re brothers.

    Why is he following Jin WuMing?

    This is a pretty desolate place.

    Ah Fei walked very fast, but he remained a safe distance behind ShangGuan Fei.

    The old storyteller is long gone. Jin WuMing looked like a yellow shadow. But ShangGuan Fei still walked slowly, not in a hurry.

    Ah Fei realized that this youngster also knows how to follow someone.

    To follow someone in secret, one must have lots of patience.

    There’s a small hill in front. Jin WuMing had just walked halfway around it.

    ShangGuan Fei picked up his pace. As if he wants to catch up to Jin WuMing on the other side of the hill.

    When he disappeared over the hill, Ah Fei ran up the hill as fast as he could.

    He knew that once on the top of the hill, he’d see something very interesting.

    He wasn’t disappointed.

    Jin WuMing had never felt fear before… After all, what’s there to fear when you aren’t even afraid of death?

    But now, for some reason, Jin WuMing’s eyes carried a sense of fear.

    What’s he afraid of?

    End of Chapter 61

  4. #64
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 62: Major Secret

    Over the hill, is an even more desolate place. The autumn wind blows mercilessly.

    Jin WuMing’s hand suddenly touched the sword’s handle… but this is his right hand, not the hand he used to hold the sword with. In this hand, the sword cannot be considered a killing weapon.

    He touched the handle, then removed his hand from it.

    His steps slowed down, until they stopped. As if this is near the end of the road.

    At this moment, he heard the laughter of ShangGuan Fei.

    ShangGuan Fei caught up to him, snickered, and said, “Stop with this charade.”

    Jin WuMing turned his head. His eyes betrayed no emotions. They stared intently upon ShangGuan Fei. After a while, he finally said, “You think this is a charade?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Of course it’s all a charade. You purposely act like you’re following Old Man Sun, because there’s no point for you to truly follow them.”

    Jin WuMing said, “If so, then why am I following them?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Because of me.”

    Jin WuMing said, “You?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “You’ve known for a while that I was following you.”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “That’s because you are terrible at following people.”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Maybe so. But I’m good enough to kill you. Of course, you should know that I’m here to kill you.”

    Jin WuMing does know, which is why he wasn’t surprised.

    Ah Fei was the person surprised.

    These two are obviously from the same group. Why would they want to kill each other?

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Ten years ago, I’ve wanted to kill you. Do you know why?”

    Jin WuMing did not respond… He only asks questions, never responds to them.

    ShangGuan Fei suddenly became agitated. His eyes filled with venom, and yelled, “If you didn’t exist, then I would have led a better life. Not only did you take my place, but also took away my father. After you came, you took everything in my life.”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “You have only yourself to blame. I’ve always been better than you.”

    ShangGuan Fei clenched his teeth, and said, “You know, deep in your heart, that isn’t the true reason. The true reason is…”

    ShangGuan Fei tried to control himself, but failed. He yelled angrily, “Because you are my father’s bastard son. My mother died because of the anger your mother caused.”

    Jin WuMing’s cold, gray eyes suddenly shrunk, like two drops of blood.

    Two drops of dry blood that had changed color.

    On the hill, a painful expression also appeared on Ah Fei’s face. Seemingly the same kind as Jin WuMing’s, except perhaps even worse.

    ShangGuan Fei said, “You two had deceived me all these years. Do you really think I don’t know?”

    When he said ‘you two’, he obviously meant Jin WuMing and his father.

    When ShangGuan Fei said this, he did not hurt anyone else, just himself.

    He felt even more painful, which made him calmer. ShangGuan Fei continued, “I knew everything the day he took you in. Ever since that day, I’ve been waiting for a chance to kill you.”

    Jin WuMing said coldly, “You didn’t have many chances.”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Even if I had the opportunity back then, I couldn’t have kill you. You were still useful back then. But not anymore.”

    He snickered, and said, “At that time, you were a sword in my father’s eyes, a sword for killing. He would never forgive me if I destroyed his weapon. But now, you are nothing but scrap metal. He’ll never care about your life or death ever again.”

    Jin WuMing thought for a long time, and nodded. He said, “You’re right. Even I don’t care about my own life and death. Why should he?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Others might believe your lie, but I don’t.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I’m lying to you?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “If you really aren’t afraid of death, then why do you keep running away?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Running away?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Your little charade of trying to follow Old Man Sun. It’s obviously a cover up for trying to run away.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Really?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “If you had been following anyone else, I would’ve let you keep following them. To see if you want to know where they’re going, or waiting to kill them. Then I’d kill you afterwards.”

    He laughed, and continued, “Unfortunately, you picked the wrong person. Because you can’t possibly find out where he’s going, much less to kill him. You’re not worthy of following him, because you’re simply no match for him!”

    Jin WuMing suddenly smiled. He said, “Perhaps…”

    He smiled in a strange manner, as if he’s holding some little secret.

    ShangGuan Fei didn’t notice. He continued, “That’s why you’re just trying to cover up for something else. You wanted to delay me from killing you.”

    He then stared intently at Jin WuMing, and yelled, “Because you’re now afraid of death.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Afraid of death?”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “You weren’t afraid to die before, because no one could’ve killed you back then.”

    With a sound of ‘Ding’, a pair of Dragon & Phoenix Rings popped into his hands. ShangGuan Fei said coldly, “But now, I can kill you any time I wish.”

    Jin WuMing remained silent for a long time, before he said, “Looks like you seem to know everything.”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “At least I’m a lot smarter than you think I am.”

    Jin WuMing suddenly laughed. He said, “Unfortunately, there’s still one thing you don’t know.”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “What?”

    Jin WuMing said, “It really doesn’t matter whether or not you know anything else. But if you don’t know this, then you must die!”

    ShangGuan Fei said coldly, “If it’s this important, then I must know about it.”

    Jin WuMing said, “Ah, but you can’t know about this. Because this is my secret. I’ve never told anyone…”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “Are you preparing to tell me this secret?”

    Jin WuMing said, “Yes. I’m going to tell you right now. But under one condition.”

    ShangGuan Fei said, “What?”

    Jin WuMing said, “If I tell you, then you must die!”

    ShangGuan Fei stared at him, and suddenly began to laugh.

    Jin WuMing’s words really are something to laugh about.

    How could a cripple kill someone?

    ShangGuan Fei said in between his laughter, “What are you going to kill me with? Are you going to bite me to death?”

    Jin WuMing’s answer is very short, very sweet, just one word.


    ShangGuan Fei’s laughter subsided a little.

    With such a respond, Jin WuMing seemingly was not trying to scare anyone, nor kidding.

    Jin WuMing said, “When I kill, I use this hand!”

    His raised his hand, his right hand.

    ShangGuan Fei’s still laughing, but not as natural as earlier. He said, “This hand… can’t even kill a dog.”

    Jin WuMing said, “I only kill people, never dogs!”

    ShangGuan Fei suddenly stopped laughing. His Dragon & Phoenix Rings shot out of his hand.

    The saying goes, ‘An inch shorter, An inch more dangerous’, Dragon & Phoenix Rings is one of the dangerous weapons to use in the martial world. This move, “Dragon Encircles Phoenix Dances as Both Fly” is one of the most dangerous techniques for Dragon & Phoenix Rings users. Unless one is near defeat, or knows that his opponent cannot block the move, he should never use it.
    Once used, the opponent can almost never block it.

    At this moment, the beam of sword light flew out.

    The sword, in a flash, entered ShangGuan Fei’s throat.

    The sword tip penetrated seventy percent of the neck.

    ShangGuan Fei seemingly still has his breath. Veins appeared on his forehead. His eyeballs about to burst out, staring at Jin WuMing.

    Even in death, he couldn’t believe how Jin WuMing’s sword came out.

    Jin WuMing looked at him coldly, and said, “My right hand is even faster than my left hand. This is my secret!”

    The sword came out. Blood sprayed everywhere.

    ShangGuan Fei still stared at Jin WuMing, filled with disbelief, with sorrow, with shock….

    He still wouldn’t believe, not even in death.

    Yet he must believe.

    The Dragon & Phoenix Rings that came out of ShangGuan Fei’s hand landed on Jin WuMing’s left arm.

    The broken arm.

    He used this broken arm to block ShangGuan Fei’s rings, then followed up with an attack using the right hand. The sword immediately entered ShangGuan Fei’s throat.

    What a cunning attack.

    This strike is so accurate! So deadly! So fast! So ruthless!

    “My right hand is faster than my left hand. This is my secret!”

    He did not lie.

    Yet the truth is so unbelievable, so incredible.

    ShangGuan Fei had been with Jin WuMing for over ten years. Not once did ShangGuan Fei see him practice right-handed sword skills. That’s why even in death, he could not understand how Jin WuMing managed to learn his right-handed sword art.

    But he must believe, because ‘death’ has proven this truth.

    Jin WuMing looked at the body. He looked a bit disappointed.

    After a long time, he softly sighed, and said, “Why did you need to kill me? Why did I need to kill you? …”

    He turned around, and walked away.

    He still walked in that odd way, as if trying to synchronize with something.

    That pair of rings still stuck to his left arm.

    Doubt, shock, disbelief.

    These were Ah Fei’s feelings at this time.

    Jin WuMing’s sword art really is scary. It may not be faster than his, but certainly deadlier, more secretive.

    “Will I really never be able to defeat him?”

    Even if this is the truth, it’s something Ah Fei cannot tolerate!

    Looking at Jin WuMing’s back, Ah Fei suddenly felt a surge of adrenaline within his body. He desperately wanted to jump down the hill and catch up.

    But at this moment, a hand grabbed him from behind.

    This is a very firm hand, filled with strength.

    Ah Fei turned around, and immediately saw Li XunHuan’s gentle, friendly eyes.

    What really held Ah Fei back weren’t this hand, but these eyes.

    Ah Fei lowered his head, and sighed. He said, “Perhaps he really is simply better than me.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You’re only worse than him in one aspect.”

    Ah Fei said, “What?”

    Li XunHuan said, “In order to kill, Jin WuMing can do anything, even give up his own life. You cannot.”

    Ah Fei thought for a long time, and then said, “You’re right. I can’t.”

    Li XunHuan said, “You can’t, because you have emotions. Your sword art may be ruthless, but you are a sentimental person.”

    Ah Fei said, “That’s why… I can never defeat him?”

    Li XunHuan shook his head, said, “Wrong, you most definitely can defeat him.”

    Ah Fei did not cut in. He kept on listening.

    Li XunHuan continued, “With emotions, one can have life. With life, one can have a soul, can change.”

    Ah Fei thought for a while longer, before he slowly nodded. He said, “I understand now.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But this isn’t the most important thing.”

    Ah Fei said, “Then what is?”

    Li XunHuan said, “What’s important is that you don’t need to kill him. You can’t kill him.”

    Ah Fei said, “Why don’t I need to kill him?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because he’s already dead. Why kill him again?”

    Ah Fei said, “You’re right. His heart is already dead… so I don’t need to kill him. But how come I can’t kill him?”

    Li XunHuan did not answer. Instead he asked, “Do you know why he would practice such a sword art in secret?”

    Ah Fei said, “What do you think?”

    Li XunHuan said, “If I guessed correctly, it’s because of ShangGuan JinHong.”

    Ah Fei said, “He fought against ShangGuan Fei’s Dragon & Phoenix Rings head on. He wanted to find a way to defeat Dragon & Phoenix Rings.”

    Li XunHuan said, “My thoughts exactly.”

    Ah Fei said, “That way… should ShangGuan JinHong ever change his attitude towards Jin WuMing, Jin WuMing could use this to kill ShangGuan JinHong.”

    Li XunHuan said, “Perhaps he’ll fail. But at least he can try.”

    Ah Fei stopped talking. His eyes became more relaxed.

    He looked like he’s trying to hide something.

    Li XunHuan said, “The reason ShangGuan JinHong’s Dragon & Phoenix Rings can rank number two on the book of weapons, is not because of it’s deadliness, deception, but because of it’s ‘certainty’.

    Ah Fei said, “Certainty?”

    Li XunHuan said, “To be able to practice the world’s most dangerous weapon to the point of ‘certainty’, is what puts ShangGuan JinHong above others. ShangGuan Fei is not even close to his father’s ability.”

    Ah Fei said, “Really?”

    Li XunHuan said, “ShangGuan Fei hates Jin WuMing, mainly because ShangGuan Fei thought his dad didn’t teach him the top level secrets. And instead taught them to Jin WuMing.”

    Ah Fei said, “Hmm.”

    Li XunHuan said, “If ShangGuan JinHong won’t use the dangerous ‘Dragon Encircles Phoenix Dances as Both Fly’ technique, there’s very little chance that Jin WuMing can kill him.”

    Ah Fei said, “You’re right.”

    Li XunHuan said, “But ShangGuan JinHong just might use it, because he knows that Jin WuMing’s left arm is now broken. So there’s no need to be cautious. Therefore, Jin WuMing still has a chance to defeat him.”

    Ah Fei looked like he just woke up from a dream, and yelled, “But, no matter what, ShangGuan JinHong is Jin WuMing’s father.”

    Li XunHuan said, “There’s no such possibility.”

    Ah Fei said, “But didn’t ShangGuan Fei just…”

    Li XunHuan cut him off, said, “That’s just ShangGuan Fei’s guess. It’s a wrong guess.”

    Ah Fei said, “If so, then why did he say those things? Was he lying?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Of course he wasn’t lying. It’s just that he misinterpreted the events.”

    Ah Fei said, “Misinterpreted?”

    Li XunHuan said, “He said that after Jin WuMing arrived, his father became cold towards him. This is certainly true. But he doesn’t know that his father did this out of love.”

    Ah Fei said, “How can ShangGuan JinHong become cold to him out of love?”

    Li XunHuan said, “Because ShangGuan JinHong was intent on making Jin WuMing his murder weapon. You could say that Jin WuMing’s life died in his hands.”

    Ah Fei thought for a moment, then said, “You’re right. If a man only lives to kill, then he must lead a very miserable life.”

    Li XunHuan said, “That’s why Jin WuMing died the moment he met ShangGuan JinHong.”

    He continued, “But ShangGuan JinHong is also a person. Every person loves his son, and would not subject his son to this kind of torture. Therefore, ShangGuan JinHong did not teach his top kung fu to ShangGuan Fei.”

    He laughed, and said, “Too bad ShangGuan Fei never understood his father’s true intentions.”

    Ah Fei suddenly said, “Therefore ShangGuan Fei actually died in his father’s hands too.”

    Li XunHuan said, “When someone desires too much, he’s likely going to make many mistakes…”

    End of Chapter 62

  5. #65
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    (From this chapter on, Bliss has taken over the translation from Meh)

    Chapter 63 - A Severing of Relationships
    An autumn forest, a dried and withered forest.

    Just past this decayed forest lies a remote and secluded path. Ah Fei pointed at a light at the far end of the road and said, "That is my home."


    This word in the ears of Li XunHuan is a totally foreign and unfamiliar word.

    Ah Fei, with his eyes still focused on the light in the distance continued, "The lamps are still lit, she must not be asleep yet."

    In the small house, there was a bright lamp, a thick cotton dress, and the fluttering eyebrows of a beautiful woman. She sat diligently sewing clothes under the lamp light, patiently waiting for her most intimate person to return to her side.

    What an extremely beautiful picture.

    Just the though of this picture filled Ah Fei's heart with sweet longing and warmth, and those pair of razor sharp eyes became soft and gentle.

    He had always been a solitary and lonely person, but now, he knows that there is someone waiting for him ... the person he loves the most in the world is waiting for him.

    This feeling is definitely a joyous one, a feeling that is incomparable to any other, a feeling that can't be replaced by anything else in the world.

    Li XunHuan's heart sunk.

    Seeing the that look of happiness on Ah Fei's face, he coudln't help but feel guilty.

    He originally had not intended to disappoint Ah Fei. He couldn't imagine what Ah Fei's reaction would be when Ah Fei discovered that Lin XianEr wasn't there.

    Although what he was doing was for Ah Fei's own good, to allow him to live on happily and righteously like a true man, Li XunHuan still felt that in some way he was wronging his friend.

    "A long sadness cannot compare to a short one."

    Li XunHuan just hoped that Ah Fei would recover quickly from the sadness that was to come, and would quickly forget all about her as well. She wasn't worth his love and wasn't worth his moping over.

    Unfortunately, people always fall in love with those whom they shouldn't fall in love with. Because emotions are like an unbridled horse, completely uncontrollable and inescapable. This is one of the saddest truths of being human. And because of this, there is no end to the tragedies that befall us all.

    The lamp is bright, and the door is slightly opened. Light seeps through the crack and illuminates the path outside. The road was soaked with rain from the night before and under the lamp light were a track of disordered footprints. They were the footprints of a man.

    "Who has come here before?" Ah Fei said as he furrowed his brow, but slowly he became at ease again.

    He had always trusted Lin XianEr. He believed that she would never do anything to betray that trust.

    Li XunHuan followed him from a short distance as if he was afraid of stepping foot inside that house.

    Ah Fei turned around and said smilingly, "I hope the stew that she is cooking tonight doesn't have any bamboo shoots in it. You can try a little and you'll discover that her skills in the kitchen are even better than her skills with the blade."

    Li XunHuan smiled in response. Who would have known that this smile was full of so much grief?

    The big bowl of beef rib soup really didn't have bamboo shoots in it. Li XunHuan just couldn't figure out her secret. Perhaps what happens today will really be completely different.

    Li XunHuan simply couldn't imagine how a woman could use such cruel methods to deceive someone who loved and cared for her so much.

    "But how am I any different, I'm deceiving him as well." Li XunHuan thought to himself.

    "Why can't I just tell him honestly, that Lin XianEr is no longer here, and that it was all my idea." Li XunHuan bent down and let out an agonizing cough.

    Ah Fei looked back at him and said, "If only you were willing to live with me here for some time, that cough of yours would go away. Because there is no wine here, only soup."

    But he would never know just how damaging that "soup" was to his body, much more damaging than any wine could ever be.

    Not a single sound could be heard from inside the house.

    "She must be in the kitchen. Otherwise, she would have definitely come out to welcome you." Ah Fei said.

    Li XunHuan didn't answer him because he just didn't know what he should say.

    Finally the door was opened. The small living room was as clean as before. The lamp on the table wasn't lit but still emitted warmth.

    Ah Fei let out a long sigh of relief. He had finally returned home safe and sound. He didn't let her down. But where was she? Where could she be?

    There weren't any lights on in the kitchen, let alone warm soup waiting for him. The door of Lin XianEr's room was shut tightly.

    Ah Fei looked back at Li XunHuan who still stood in the doorway and said, "She must have already went to bed. She always falls asleep really early."

    Li XunHuan wanted to let out a smile but the muscles on his face tensed up. He heard faint moans from inside the room, they were the moans of a woman.

    The moans of a dying woman!

    The voice was definitely coming from inside Lin XianEr's room.

    Li XunHuan's face changed colors, he dashed towards the door and banged on it. "Are you alright? Please open the door!"

    There was no answer. The moaning stopped as well. Whoever was inside was obviously trying to respond but couldn't let out a single word.

    Ah Fei began sweating profusely and rammed the door open with his shoulder.

    Li XunHuan shut his eyes. He didn't want to see the look on Ah Fei's face right now. The look on the face of someone who is witnessing his lover in her dying breath, who would want to see such a thing?

    Not only did Li XunHuan not dare to look, nor could he bear to look, he simply didn't even want to entertain the thought of it.

    But when the door was opened, he didn't hear anything. Could it be that Ah Fei was so struck by the scene that he fainted?

    Li XunHuan opened his eyes and saw Ah Fei still standing in the doorway of Lin XianEr's room.

    But the strange thing was the look on Ah Fei's face was not one of sadness but one of bewilderment.

    What had just happened in that room? Li XunHuan just couldn't figure it out.


    The first thing Li XunHuan saw was blood. Then he saw the person lying over the pool of blood.

    But he never would have guessed that the person lying there in a pool of blood, breathing her last breath, was LingLing.

    Li XunHuan's blood froze. Ah Fei calmly looked over the body that lay on the floor. A strange expression came over his face. Did he just figure something out?

    He didn't ask "What is this young girl doing here?"

    Instead, he coldly asked, "This time, was she waiting for you here again?"

    Li XunHuan felt as if his heart was split open.

    He rushed over picking up the bloodsoaked LingLing in his arms, and tested her for a pulse and breath.

    He only hoped that it wasn't too late to save her life. He was desperate.

    LingLing finally opened her eyes and saw Li XunHuan. Tears fell from her eyes.

    These were tears of sorrow, yet they were also tears of joy.

    Before her death, she was able to see Li XunHuan one last time.

    Li XunHuan's eyes were overflowing with tears now, and said in a soft comforting voice, "You are so young, there's no way you will die."

    LingLing appeared as if she didn't hear his words at all, and said in a trembling voice,

    "This time you were wrong."

    "This time I was wrong" Li XunHuan said half-sobbingly.

    "You should have known, there isn't a man alive who would be willing to kill her." LingLing said.

    Li XunHuan's voice had almost become silent, "I've dragged you down into this, I have wronged you."

    LingLing struggled to take a hold of his hand. "You have always been good to me. You're not the one who has wronged me. It is him."


    "He tricked me, and I ... I've tricked you too."

    "You didn't ..."

    Her fingernails started to dig into his skin. "I've deceived you ... I had long lost my virginity to him. When I was here waiting for you ... I just hated myself for not telling you from the beginning."

    Her voice suddenly became much clearer, as if she was full of energy again. But Li XunHuan knew it was just an illusion. If it weren't for her youthfulness, there was no way she could have lived until now.

    "I tried my best to stay alive until moment, because I wanted to explain this to you, because if you can understand, then I can die with no regrets."

    "It was my fault to begin with, it was my fault for not protecting you ..."

    "Even though he deceived me, I don't hate him. Because I know he will definitely receive retribution, he will receive a punishment that is ten times worse ten mine."

    "It was him..."

    Before Li XunHuan could finish his sentence, Ah Fei forcefully pushed pushed him aside.

    He stared at LingLing and asked, "You lead Lu FengXian to this place?"

    LingLing bit down on her lip.

    "It was him that asked you to bring Lu FengXian here?"

    LingLing suddenly exhausted her remaining strength and shouted out all in one breath, "Yes, it was him, but do you know for what reason he is doing this? Do you know how much he has done for you? For you ..."

    Her voice abruptly cracked and she stopped breathing.

    Extremely serene, she died an extremely serene death.

    There was no further movement from her body, and there was no further sound from her mouth.

    Except for the wind that still blew, everything including the ground itself seemed to lose all of its vitality. Everything had seemingly transformed into a graveyard. A graveyard in which all life could be buried in.

    But even the sound of the wind seemed to weep in sorrow. Its cry could shatter one's heart.

    After who knows how long, Ah Fei finally stood straight up. But he didn't cast one glance at Li XunHuan. He just coldly asked, "Why did you do this for?"

    Normally Li XunHuan would've answered this question without hesitation. But at this moment he didn't say a single word.

    He knew that by saying anything he would not only cause himself pain, but it would be hard for others to endure as well.

    Ah Fei still didn't turn to face him, and slowly continued, "You thought she was the one who was causing me to fall into depression. That if she were to leave me, that I would regain my livelihood. But did you know that without her, there's no way I could live on?"

    Li XunHuan sullenly replied, "I only hoped that you would stop being deceived, that you could find someone who was worthy of your love and affection, and that, you could totally forget all this unhappiness in your life."

    Ah Fei seemed shocked and replied, "You think that she has been deceiving me? And that she isn't worth my affection?"

    "I only know this, that ever since you met her, she has brought nothing but misfortune."

    "And how do you know whether I am happy, or that I'm unhappy?"

    Ah Fei finally turned and stared at Li XunHuan and said angrily, "Who do you think you are? Trying to control my every thought and trying to control my destiny? You're nothing. You're just a fool who's lying to himself. You let the woman you love walk straight into hands of danger, and then you think of yourself as all high and noble."

    Every word he spoke was as sharp as a needle. No other words in the world could hurt Li XunHuan more.

    Ah Fei gritted his teeth and continued, "And even if all she brought to me was misfotune, what about you? What do you bring to those around you? Lin ShiYin's happiness was totally ruined by you. And you're still not satisfied, you still have to come and ruin mine?"

    Li XunHuan's hands began to tremble, and before he could even bend down, he was already coughing up blood.

    Ah Fei took a few long glances at him before turning around and began walking towards the door. Before Li XunHuan had even stopped coughing, he lunged towards the door and blocked the exit.

    "What do you still want?" Ah Fei said.

    Li XunHuan wiped the blood off his mouth with his sleeve and caught his breath.

    "You ... you're going to look for her?"


    "You can't go!"

    "Says who?"

    "I said so. Because even if you can find her and bring her back, it'll only be more painful. Sooner or later, the day will come when she will destroy you ... I can't bare to watch you suffer under the hands of this kind of woman."

    Ah Fei was already holding on very tightly, but with each word that Li XunHuan spoke, his grip tightened even more. His fingers started to turn white from all the pressure.

    His face started turning pale as well. The colors of his eyes had turned a bright fiery red.

    "You're being apart from her now will only cause you temporary pain. But if you stay together with her, that pain will last a lifetime. When you two separated, you should've seen clearly just what happenend ..."

    Ah Fei interrupted him, "You've always been my friend."


    "Up until now, you are still my friend."


    "But from now on, we are friends no longer!"

    A total look of shock came upon Li XunHuan's face. "Why?"

    "Because I can endure you insulting me, but I cannot forgive you for insulting her!"

    "You think I'm merely insulting her?"

    "I've put up with so much until now, because we've always been friends. But from this day forward, if you dare insult her one more time, that insult will have to be washed away with blood!" Ah Fei's body was shaking now as he spoke, "Whether it be mine or yours!"

    Li XunHuan appeared as if someone had punched him hard in the chest. He took two steps back towards the side of the door.

    He clenched his mouth closed but blood still dripped down from the sides of his cheek.

    "I'm going to go look for her now, and no matter what I will find her. I hope you are not planning to follow me. Because if you are, you will live to regret it!" Ah Fei said, while not even looking at Li XunHuan.

    After those words, he walked out of the house.

    Tears usually taste salty. But some tears tend to flow inwards back into our stomach.

    These tears not only taste salty, but incredibly bitter.

    Blood usually tastes salty as well. But the blood of a broken hearted person, that blood will taste even more bitter than tears.

    Li XunHuan had no idea how long he had been coughing up blood now, but his sleeves were already dyed red. He had no way of standing up straight either.

    The footprints on the floor were all stained with blood. Li XunHuan suddenly remembered the set of disordered footprints that he saw earlier outside and his heart turned freezing cold.

    Ah Fei would definitely find her. Because Lin XianEr will secretly leave traces along her path, so that he could find her.

    It didn't even have to be anything substantial, because Ah Fei was naturally gifted at tracking people down.

    His skills at tracking were probably even superior to trained dogs.

    But what happens when he does catch up?

    Its almost certain that Ah Fei will challenge Lu FengXian to fight to the death.

    Lin XianEr loved watching men fight to the death for her.

    Just thinking about the scenario made Li XunHuan break out in cold sweat.

    At the present, Ah Fei is no match for Lu FengXian. The only person who could save him now is Li XunHuan, however ...

    "I hope you are not planning to follow me. Because if you are, you will live to regret it!"

    And Li XunHuan knew that Ah Fei always meant every word he says!

    Furthermore, it was extremely dark outside now.

    Li XunHuan's ability at tracking people were nowhere near Ah Fei's level. Even if he wanted to chase after them, his chance of success was close to zero.

    Li XunHuan struggled to stand. He picked up LingLing's body, placed her on the bed, and covered her with a blanket.

    No matter the consequences, he would go after them. Li XunHuan had made up his mind.

    Even if Ah Fei no longer considers him to be a friend, Li XunHuan will always will always consider Ah Fei to be his friend.

    His friendship towards Ah Fei will never change.

    Its the same with his love. Even if the seas dry up and the mountains split, his heart would never change.

    "ShiYin, ShiYin, how have you been?"

    End Chapter 63

  6. #66
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 64 - The Source of Troubles
    Just the thought of Lin ShiYin brought a sharp pain to Li XunHuan's heart.

    But he didn't feel the need to go look for her. Because he knew that Long Xiao4Yun would definitely treat her well. Even though Long Xiao4Yun had changed, he knew that the way Long felt for Lin ShiYin remained the same.

    As long as he remained faithful to Lin ShiYin, Li XunHuan could forgive everything.

    At this moment, one really couldn't describe the joy in Long Xiao4Yun's mood.

    In a few days, he would have to take the position of Second-In-Command in the Gold Currency Union, becoming the sworn brother of the most influential and powerful person in the world.

    One could even see from his son's facial expression that his mood had gotten much better.

    But the only one who caused him to have regrets was his wife.

    "Why didn't she come along with me? Why didn't she come to share in my glory and success?"

    But he refused to let this drag down his mood.

    For some people, their greatest desire in life is wealth. For others, it is power.

    If one can obtain these two, pain and suffering in the matters of their personal lives will be lessened.

    Long Xiao3Yun was staring out the window, but his mind focused on nothing in particular.

    Long Xiao4Yun tapped his son on the shoulder and asked, "Do you think that ShangGuan JinHong will come in person this time to greet us?"

    Long Xiao3Yun turned around and replied, "Of course he will, and the ceremony will certainly be grand."

    Long Xiao4Yun nodded in agreement and said, "I thought the same thing, I'm already his sworn brother. By him giving me face, he is giving himself face."

    His voice dipped as he asked, "When he does arrive, do you think I should address him as Chief, or as Big Brother?"

    Long Xiao3Yun replied, "Of course address him as Big Brother. I'll have to change my habits too and remember to start calling him Uncle."

    Long Xiao4Yun let out a hearty laugh and said, "To have an Uncle such as him, you are really fortunate. But ..."

    His laughter stopped as he continued, "Li XunHuan is still alive. Do you think ShangGuan JinHong will go back on his word?"

    Long Xiao3Yun answered with a smile, "All the heroes of the world know about this event. The letters of invitation have already been sent outo. If he does go back on his word, he will lose all credibility and no one will believe anything he says ever again."

    A smile came back to Long Xiao4Yun's face. "You are correct. His reputation in the martial arts world is based on his word. His word cannot be retracted once it leaves his mouth. Even if ShangGuan JinHong wanted to change his mind, its too late now."


    The papers on his desk were numerous, in fact they seemed to pile up more and more each day.

    The scope of his responsibilities seemed to get broader and broader each day as well.

    The reason for this is because every single matter required his personal attention and judgment.

    He didn't trust anyone.

    ShangGuan JinHong was at his desk late into the morning, working without rest for quite some time. Not only was he not tired at all, but he was rather enjoying himself.

    The door opened.

    A person walked in.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn't even bother to turn his head to see who it was. Because he knew there was only one person who could walk right into his room.

    Jing WuMing.

    Jing WuMing did as he had always done, upon entering the room he walked right up behind ShangGuan JinHong.

    "Where is Li XunHuan?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "He has left." Jing WuMing answered.

    ShangGuan JinHong finally turned his head to face Jing WuMing.

    After just that one glance, his gaze fell towards Jing WuMing's broken arm. Then he went back to his business. He didn't say another word and didn't exude a single sense of emotion.

    There wasn't a trace of emotion on Jing WuMing's face either. His morbidly pale eyes were gazing into the distance.

    It was as if nothing had changed at all.

    He wasn't questioned, nor was he comforted.

    Whether his arms were broken or his legs were broken, it was of no concern to ShanGuan JinHong.

    After some time, there was a knock at the door.

    Another large pile of documents were brought in.

    All of them were yellow but there was a red one which stood out.

    ShangGuan JinHong opened this letter first and glanced over it quickly. It only contained these words: "Meet at the old place, Lu FengXian will be there waiting."

    ShangGuan JinHong quietly stood up and seemed deep in thought. Then he promptly made a decision.

    He slowly walked out.

    Jing WuMing followed him closely like his shadow.

    The two walked out the door, through a secret passage, past an open courtyard, past a guard who bowed respectfully, and out into the bright sunlight.

    The late autumn sun is like a woman in the later years of her life. She no longer has the power to move men's hearts.

    The two were still walking one in front of the other ... but suddenly, Jing WuMing noticed that the rhythm in ShangGuan JinHong's steps had slightly changed.

    Jing WuMing could no longer coordinate in unison with him.

    Although ShangGuan JinHong hadn't increased his pace, the distance between them was slowly getting larger and larger.

    Jing WuMing's steps became slower and slower and he eventually stopped altogether.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn't turn around. He merely saw JinWuMing's shadow gradually move further away.

    Those deathly grey eyes of his slowly revealed an indescribably and profoundly deep sorrow ...


    A dense pine forest.

    So thick that light barely shines through all year long.

    Although it was dark, the air wasn't humid. The winds carried the fresh smell of the evergreens.

    Lin XianEr was resting along the side of a tree, holding tightly onto Lu FengXian's hand. Her captivating and seductive eyes never left his face.

    Lu FengXian's face was pale, and wrinkles began to appear at the corners of his eyes.

    The autumn wind entered the forest and brought a gentle comforting aura with it.

    Lin XianEr asked in her gentle voice, "Do you have any regrets?"

    Lu FengXian shooked his head and replied, "Regrets? Why would I have any regrets? With you, no man in the world would ever feel any regets."

    She swooned into his arms and softly asked, "Am I really that special?"

    Lu FengXian embraced her by the waist and said with a smile, "Of course you are, you're better than I have ever dreamed of, better than anyone could ever imagine ..."

    His hands slowly made their way up and down her body.

    Lin XianEr started breathing heavily and let out a tender cry, "Not now ..."

    "Why?" Lu FengXian asked impatiently.

    Lin XianEr bit the side of her lips and said, "You have to save your strength to deal with ShangGuan JinHong."

    She twisted her body as if trying to avoid him but it seemed as if she was inviting him at the same time.

    Lu FengXian paused for a moment before he started caressing her again and said mischievously, "I can deal with you first and then deal with him later."

    "You musn't underestimate him. He isn't as easy to take care of as you think." she said.

    "You don't think I'm a match for him?" Lu FengXian asked.

    "No thats not what I mean, its just that ... " Lin XianEr replied.

    She started to nibble lightly on Lu FengXian's ear and gently whispered, "Once you kill ShangGuan JinHong, the entire world will be ours. We'll have plenty of time to be together in the future, why rush anything now?"

    Her sweet words in the autumn wind sound like a beautiful song.

    Lu FengXian's heart softened and he held on to her even tighter and said, "You really care this much about me ..."

    His voice suddenly stopped.

    Lin XianEr quickly pushed herself out of his embrace as well.

    A unique set of footsteps emanated throughout the dense forest. In actuality, there is nothing particularly sepcial about this set of footsteps. But for some reason each step sounded like one's own heart wass being trampled on.

    The sound of the footsteps stopped.

    ShangGuan JinHong stood under the shade of a pine tree in front of them. He stood there silently, not saying a single word, not moving a single muscle. He looked like a mountain of ice. An unscalable mountain of ice.

    Lu FengXian's beathing suddenly paused as these words came out of his mouth, "ShangGuan JinHong?"

    "Lu FengXian?" ShangGuan JinHong asked from behind a large bamboo hat that covered his eyes. Not only did he not answer him, he replied with his own question instead.

    "Yes" Lu FengXian finally answered.

    But right after he answered, Lu FengXian regretted that he had answered at all. Because he felt that he had lost the initiative and instead the initiative was now in ShangGuan JinHong's hands.

    ShangGuan JinHong let out a cold smile and said, "Very good, Lu FengXian is definitely worth me dealing with personally."

    Lu FengXian laughed coldly, "If you weren't ShangGuan JinHong, you wouldn't be worth killing either."

    After he finished his sentence, he regretted it again.

    Although his words were filled with killer intent, it seemed as if he was merely imitating ShangGuan JinHong.

    ShangGuan JinHong stood silently for some time, and suddenly shot a glance over at Lin XianEr under his bamboo hat.

    Lin XianEr was still standing by the tree, her eyes had slowly changed from soft and gentle to intensely hot.

    She knew blood would be spilled very soon.

    She adored seeing men spilling their blood for her!

    "Come over here." ShangGuan JinHong said to her.

    Lin XianEr feigned a look of distresss. She looked over at Lu FengXian, then glanced at ShangGuan JinHong.

    Lu FengXian laughed and said, "She won't come to you."

    She again exchanged glances between ShangGuan JinHong and Lu FengXian.

    Lin XianEr knew that she had to choose one of them now.

    She knew that whoever she chose had better be the victor.

    But who would be victorious?

    ShangGuan JinHong still stood there stoically, his eyes beaming with confidence.

    Lu FengXian's breathing had become irregular, and he started to look worried.

    Lin XianEr suddenly started laughing at him.

    Lu FengXian silently cursed under his breath as Lin XianEr fluttered towards ShangGuan JinHong like a swallow.

    She had made her choice. She knew that her choice would not be wrong!

    Lu FengXian's pupils began to shrink, and his heart began to shrink as well.

    This was the first time in his life that he tasted insult, and it was the first time that he tasted defeat. These two pains compounded together were twice as hard to endure!

    He also took another double hit. Both his self-respect and his self-confidence had been completely shattered.

    His hands started to tremble.

    ShangGuan JinHong looked at him coldly and said, "You've already lost!"

    Lu FengXian's hands began trembling violently.

    "I won't kill you, because you are not worth me killing anymore!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    ShangGuan JinHong turned around and started to walk away.

    Lin XianEr followed behind him. After a few steps, she turned to Lu FengXian and said with a giggle, "I think you'd be better off dead."

    Lu FengXian had lost this battle before even making a single move.

    In his mind, he knew that he had already lost.

    He had not bled a single drop of blood, but his soul and his livelihood had been crushed. His courage and his confidence had been destroyed.

    Seeing ShangGuan JinHong walking out of the forest, he no longer had any courage to pursue him.

    Even though ShangGuan JinHong hadn't attacked, he had already taken Lu FengXian's life.

    "I think you'd be better off dead."

    There really was no point in living anymore.

    Lu FengXian suddenly fell to the ground and started weeping bitterly.

    Lin XianEr ran off to ShangGuan JinHong's side and held him by the hand.

    "I only have eyes for you now!" she said sweetly.

    "Me?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "Although Jing WuMing kills with the swiftest of swords, you're even faster than him. Because ... because you can kill without even raising a finger!" she said.

    "That is because I have yet to meet a single person who is worthy of me lifting a finger." he replied.

    "The number of people in this world who are a match for you is certainly small ... I think there is only one," she said as her eyes gleamed with excitement.

    "Li XunHuan?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Lin XianEr let out a sigh and said, "This person is someone who can disappear at anytime, but is also someone who tends to never go away. Sometimes I just don't know what kind of person he is. Is he a gentleman? An idiot? Or a hero?"

    "It seems like you've always been quite interested in him." ShangGuan JinHong replied coldly.

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "Of course I have to show interest in him. Because I do not want to die under his hands."


    "Even towards a lover, over time a person's interest will slowly wane. But when it comes to an enemy, that is not the case." Lin XianEr responded.

    She stared up at ShangGuan JinHong and said, "I'm sure you understand this idea better than anyone."

    "There are many kinds of interest. Do you hate him? Are you scared of him? Or do you love him?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "You're slowly becoming jealous aren't you?"

    ShangGuan JinHong lowered his head and said, "What about Ah Fei?"

    "Of course he is jealous too." she replied.

    "I only want to know, why didn't you kill him?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "I want to know too, why didn't Jing WuMing kill him?" she asked back.

    "I originally intended for you to kill him, you couldn't bear to do it?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "Killing someone is easy. Making someone listen to your every word is much harder. Up until now, I've never seen someone as obedient as he is." Lin XianEr said.

    She threw herself into ShangGuan JinHong's chest and said, "I didn't come to look for you to argue. If you really want me to kill him, there are still plenty of opportunities to do so in the future. I'll do as you please."

    No one could be upset with her.

    She is like an extremely expensive cat. If she accidentally scratches you with her claws, even before you can feel the pain she is already lapping at you affectionately with her tongue.

    ShangGuan JinHong stared intently at her face.

    Under the setting sun, her face looked so delicate that even a gentle touch could ruin it. The gentle autumn wind cannot even compare with a single breath that left her mouth.

    ShangGuan JinHong slowly lowered his head.

    He pressed his lips against her. Lin XianEr suddenly lifted her head from his chest and fell to ground.

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes rolled backwards. But his posture didn't change. Even the tips of his fingers stayed perfectly still.

    He didn't cast a single glance at Lin XianEr but instead was staring at a patch of withered yellow grass.

    There was nothing on that patch of grass. But after some time, the image of a person gradually appeared.

    Someone had come!

    This person's shadow was dragged out by the evening sun.

    His footsteps did not make a sound. This person's footsteps were as light as a fox.

    ShangGuan JinHong still didn't turn his head. Lin XianEr who was still on the floor had started moaning.

    The person's shadow was much closer now. It stopped right behind ShangGuan JinHong.

    A voice started speaking, "I never kill a person from behind. But this time, I will have to make an exception!"

    This person's voice was normally cold and resolute, but because of anger and anxiety, it was shaky.

    This tone of voice was definitely what someone sounds like before they kill.

    But ShangGuan JinHong didn't move. He didn't even say a word.

    The shadow on the ground raised its hand.

    There was a sword in that hand, but it hadn't yet stabbed out. The voice again asked, "You're still not going to turn around?"

    ShangGuan JinHong responded casually, "I can still kill someone standing behind me. Why should I bother to turn around?"

    After he finished, the moaning stopped too.

    Lin XianEr's eyes dropped wide open, and let out a cry, "Ah Fei!"

    She got up from ShangGun JinHong's side and walked over. Her shadow intermingled with the shadow on the ground.

    ShangGuan JinHong gazed at the two shadows on the ground. Then, he started walking ahead slowly ... and stopped as he stepped over the two shadows on the ground.

    The sword in Ah Fei's hand had dropped to the floor.

    Lin XianEr held his hand was whispering repeatedly, "You really came, I knew you would come ..."

    She repeated that same line over and over, each time softer, gentler, and sweeter than the last.

    Her tender voice could melt mountains of ice.

    Ah Fei's heart was already starting to melt. His sense or urgency, resentment, and hatred had subsided.

    "I knew that when you didn't see me, you'd be very worried and would come looking for me." she said.

    Seeing the the color of Ah Fei's face turn palish green, her eyes suddenly turned red and she said weepingly, "In trying to find me, you must have suffered alot."

    "As long as I've found you, I'm already content." Ah Fei said.

    No matter what the consequence, he would risk it to find her.

    No matter what he had to suffer, he would endure it to find her.

    "As long as I've found you, I'm already content."

    Nine words. In just these nine words were an immeasurable amount of emotion. One probably can't express such emotion even with nine hundred thousand words.

    Suddenly, the sword flashed!

    The sword that was on the floor shot up, the flash of light was quick like the strike of a snake, and the sword entered into the person's hand.

    All of a sudden ShangGuan JinHong was standing in front of them.

    His emotionless gaze was focused at the tip of the sword. This sword was but an ordinary steel sword. A sword that Ah Fei had "borrowed" from a traveler along the way.

    But ShangGun JinHong seemed interested in this sword.

    With Lin XianEr at his side, there was nothing that could draw away Ah Fei's attention.

    But now, he finally realized that there was another person here. A person that he had intented to kill.

    Now, his sword was already in that person's hands.

    That ordinary sword had suddenly transformed into a sword that emitted an aura, a killing aura!

    "Who are you?" Ah Fei asked sharply.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn't answer. He didn't even look at him either. His cold emotionless gaze was still focused at the tip of the sword. A wry smile broke from the corner of his mouth. A smile full of disdain.

    "You were planning to kill with this sword?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "What about that sword?" Ah Fei replied.

    "This sword cannot kill me." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Any kind of sword can kill!" Ah Fei responded.

    ShangGuan JinHong laughed and replied, "But this is not your sword. If you are adamant about using this sword, the only person you will kill is yourself."

    The sword flashed again, and the blade spun around.

    ShangGuan JinHong held the tip of the sword between his fingers, and presented the handle to Ah Fei.

    "If you don't believe me, go ahead and try." ShangGun JinHong said with a grin.

    Before Ah Fei could even extend his arm out, his muscles had already tensed up.

    He discovered that in the presence of this person, he felt a certain sensation. It was a sensastion that no one else had ever evoked from him before. It was a sensation that caused him such anxiety that his stomach started to contract, that made him want to throw up.

    But how could he not grab that sword over?

    He finally reached out. But before his hand could touch the handle, the sword was snatched away by another person's hand. A soft, slender hand.

    Lin XianEr had a tear in her eyes as she looed at Ah Fei and said, "You intend to kill him? Do you know who he is?"

    Lin XianEr continued, "He is my savior."

    End of Chapter 64

  7. #67
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 65 - Manipulation
    "Savior?" Ah Fei asked.

    "Lu FengXian had been ... forcing me, torturing me. I wanted to die but I couldn't. If it weren't for him, I don't know what would've ..." Lin XianEr replied, as tears began streaming down her cheeks.

    Ah Fei was startled.

    Lin XianEr continued while sobbing, "I was hoping that you would repay his kindness for me, but now, now you're ..."

    "To kill someone, that can also be a method of repayment." ShangGuan JinHong suddenly interrupted.

    Lin XianEr turned around and said, "You ... you want him to kill for you?"

    "Since he owes me a life, why not let him repay that debt with another life?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "But I'm the one you saved, not him." Lin XianEr said.

    "Your debt is his debt, am I correct?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    Lin XianEr turned to face Ah Fei.

    He gritted his teeth and replied, "I will repay her debt!"

    "Do you owe debts to anyone?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Never!" Ah Fei responded.

    ShangGuan JinHong slightly grinned and said, "Whose life are you going to repay me with?"

    "Except for one person, anyone you want." Ah Fei replied.

    "Except for whom?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Li XunHuan!" Ah Fei said.

    ShangGuan JinHong snickered and said, "You're afraid of him?"

    Ah Fei's eyes filled with sadness as he replied, "I won't kill him, because I owe him even more."

    ShangGuan JinHong started laughing and said, "Very well. If you weren't bound to your debt to him, you wouldn't honor your debt to me either."

    "Who do you want me to kill?" Ah Fei asked.

    ShangGuan JinHong slowly turned around and said, "Follow me."

    The night drew near. Ah Fei wasn't holding on to Lin XianEr's hand because he felt a strange uneasiness inside his heart. He just couldn't make out what it was.

    ShangGuan JinHong who was in front of him never turned around.

    Yet somehow, Ah Fei felt as if he was under his careful gaze the entire time. And under this gaze, he felt an indescribable pressure bearing down on him.

    The further they walked, the heavier that pressure felt.

    Stars were beginning to dot the night sky. The open field was a vast emptiness. The winds had fallen silent.

    Not a single sound could be heard. Even the insects that normally buzzed with activity in the autumn night were quiet.

    It was as if the only sound in the whole world were that of their footsteps.

    Ah Fei suddenly realized that his normally silent footsteps were making noise. In addition, they were in unison with the sound of ShangGuan JinHong's steps. One after the other, their steps melded into a peculiar rhythm.

    A cricket that had leapt out from a dried thich patch of grass was seemingly frightened by the rhythm of their marching and leapt right back. Even the sound of their footsteps carried a killing aura.

    What could be the cause of this?

    Ah Fei never made a sound when he walked. But all of a sudden, why did his legs feel so heavy?

    And what could be the cause of this?

    Ah Fei looked downward and found out exactly why. Every single step he took was perfectly in between ShangGuan JinHong's every other step.

    When he would take a step, and ShangGuan JinHong would take a second step. When he took a third step, ShangGuan JinHong would take a fourth step. Each and every step was precise and without err.

    If he sped up his steps, ShangGuan JinHong would speed up as well. If he slowed down, ShangGuan JinHong would slow down as well.

    From the beginning, it was ShangGuan JinHong who was coordinating with his every step.

    But now, he suddenly realized that when ShangGuan JinHong increased his pace, his feet would involuntarily move faster. When ShangGuan JinHong decreased his pace, his own steps would slow down as well.

    It was as if ShangGuan JinHong were controlling his feet, and he had no way of shaking free!

    Ah Fei began to break out in cold sweat.

    But for some reason, he felt that walking in this manner was quite soothing. He felt every ounce of muscle in his body being relaxed.

    It was as if his mind and body were being hypnotized by this rhythm.

    This rhythm was able to rattle a person's soul.

    Lin XianEr was slowly becoming aware of this. Her beautiful eyes suddenly became alert and vigilant, emitting an apprehensive viciousness.

    Ah Fei was hers.

    Only she could control Ah Fei.

    She would definitely not allow someone to snatch him right out of her grasp!

    Jing WuMing was standing there. He was still standing exactly where his footsteps had stopped earlier.

    The sun started to set. The night drew near. Stars began dotting the night sky ...


    His body hadn't moved. His glance hadn't shifted either. But the shadow that ShangGuan JinHong had cast on the ground had forever vanished.

    But now, ShangGuan JinHong's image suddenly reappeared.

    Jing WuMing first saw the top of his bamboo hat, then his yellow robe, then his sword which shimmered under the reflection of the moonlight.

    Then, Jing WuMing saw Ah Fei.

    If anyone saw them from afar, they would immediately think the person with ShangGuan JinHong is Jing WuMing, because the rhythm in their steps was so unusual and unique.

    Who would have thought that Ah Fei had taken Jing WuMing's place?

    Jing WuMing's eyes appeared darker than ash. So dark that the moon and the stars themselves were blacked out. A darkness that absorbed the coming dawn into nothingness, lifelessness; such that even "death" had no meaning.

    Absolute nothingness.

    The expression on his face was even more empty than his eyes.

    ShangGuan JinHong slowly walked over and stopped in front of him.

    Ah Fei's footsteps stopped as well.

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were focused into the distance. He didn't cast a single glance at Jing WuMing. He suddenly reached towards Jing WuMing's waist and pulled his sword out.

    "You can no longer wield this sword." ShangGuan JinHong said coldly.

    "Yes." Jing WuMing replied.

    His voice was frightfully empty as well. Even he himself couldn't be certain that the words he heard came from his own mouth.

    ShangGuan JinHong was still holding that blue steel sword between his fingers. He presented the handle to Jing WuMing and said, "This sword is for you."

    Jing WuMing slowly reached over and took the sword.

    "It makes no difference what kind of sword you use now." ShangGuan JinHong said slowly.

    Even after walking over to him, he had yet to cast a single glance at Jing WuMing.

    Ah Fei had followed over as well, and he didn't cast a single glance at Jing WuMing either.

    Lin XianEr smiled playfully at him and said, "Is it even that difficult to die?"

    A patch of clouds covered the stars in the sky.

    Suddenly, the sound of thunder cracked the silence, and rain began to pour.

    Jing WuMing still didn't move and he stood in the rain.

    His whole body was soaked now. Beads of water gathered at the corners of his eyes. Was it rain? Or are they tears?

    But how could Jing WuMing shed tears?

    Those who never shed tears, normally only shed blood!

    The sword. Paper thin and razor sharp.

    The lamp light is extremely steady. Flashes of light from a sword. Blue flashes.


    The window is tightly shut. The rain outside is intense. The air inside the house is calm.

    Under the steady lamp light, Ah Fei was able to concentrate on the sword. His eyes hadn't moved for quite some time.

    ShangGuan JinHong looked at him intently and asked, "What do you think about this sword?"

    "Good, Very good." Ah Fei replied.

    "Compared to the sword you used to wield?" ShangGUan JinHong asked.

    "It feels lighter." Ah Fei said.

    Suddenly, ShangGuan JinHong grabbed the sword with two fingers and bent the tip back onto the blade to form a circle. The blade emanated a deep *WUNG* sound.

    The sound it made was like a dragon's roar.

    Ah Fei's cold eyes suddenly warmed up.

    ShangGuan JinHong asked again with a smile, "And in this regard how does it compare to the one you used to wield?"

    "My old sword would have snapped if it was bent like that." Ah Fei responded.

    Once ShangGUan JinHong let go with his fingers, the sword shot out.

    A tea cup that was on the table was split in half as if it was decayed wood.

    Ah Fei couldn't hold in his excitement and shouted out, "Excellent sword!"

    "It certainly is a fine sword. Extremely light but not dull. Extremely thin but not brittle. The blade is resilient yet flexible. Although its appearance is crude and simple, it is actually the masterpiece of the number one swordsmith in the world, Master Gu. In addition, it was specially made to accomodate Jing WuMing's style." ShangGuan JinHong explained.

    "This sword's conception is really similar to Jing WuMing's, isn't it?" ShangGuan JinHong added with a laugh.

    "It is quite similiar." Ah Fei responded.

    "Although his attacks are much more lethal and vicious, your attacks are much more precise and accurate. Because you are more patient than he is, perhaps this sword is better suited for you." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    After a long pause, Ah Fei replied, "This is not my sword."

    "Swords have no owners. Whoever is able, wields them." ShangGun JinHong said.

    He brought the sword over and with a sinister gleam in his eye and said, "And now, this sword has become yours."

    After another long pause, the same words came out of Ah Fei's mouth.

    "This is not my sword."

    "With this sword, any sword can be yours. Because with this sword, you could kill anyone." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Then he added with a smile, "You could even kill me."

    This time, Ah Fei kept silent for a while.

    "You are indebted to me. You have to kill for me. So I present you with a killing weapon. It is only fair." ShangGuan JinHong continued.

    Ah Fei reached out and took the sword.

    "Good! Very good! With this sword, your debt will be cleared by tomorrow!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Who do you want me to kill?" Ah Fei asked.

    "Don't worry, I won't ask you to kill a friend ... " ShangGuan JinHong slowly replied.

    Before his sentence was finished, ShangGuan JinHong walked out and shut the door behind him.

    They could hear him speaking from the outside, "The two people in this room are my guests. Before tomorrow morning, make sure no one disturbs them."

    Only Ah Fei and Lin XianEr were left in that room now.

    Lin XianEr who was sitting down had not yet looked up.

    ShangGuan JinHong who was in the room for quite some time had not glanced at her once.

    The entire time she hadn't spoken either. Except for when Ah Fei was reaching out to take the sword, her mouth slightly moved as if she was wanted to say something, but quickly held it back in.

    Now that only the two of them were in the room, she finally spoke, "You're really going to kill for him?"

    "I owe him, and I've already given him my word." Ah Fei said with a sigh.

    "Do you have any idea who he wants you to kill?" Lin XianEr asked.

    "He didn't say." Ah Fei replied.

    "You haven't guessed yet?" she asked.

    "You've already figured out who it is?" he answered.

    "If I'm not mistaken, the person who he wants you to kill is Long Xiao4Yun." she said slowly.

    "Long Xiao4Yun? Why?" Ah Fei asked.

    "Because Long Xiao4Yun plans on using him. But he only uses others." Lin XianEr said smiling.

    "Long Xiao4Yun should have been killed a long time ago." Ah Fei said.

    "But you mustn't make a move." she advised him.

    "Why?" he asked.

    She didn't answer but instead questioned, "Do you know why ShangGuan JinHong wants you to kill Long Xiao4Yun in his stead?"

    "It is easier to have someone kill for you than it is to do so yourself." Ah Fei said.

    "But if ShangGuan JinHong wants Long Xiao4Yun dead, it is but a mere formality to do so. Plus, the number of experts in the Gold Currency Union are as numerous as the clouds. Let alone one Long Xiao4Yun, even if it was a hundred or a thousand, it would still be easily taken care of by them. If ShangGuan JinHong didn't want to attack himself, all he has to do is to give the order to his minions." Lin XianEr explained.

    "You know the real reason?" Ah Fei asked.

    "I certainly do ... after two more days is the first of the month." she replied.

    "What about the first of the month?" Ah Fei asked.

    "Everyone in the Wulin community knows that at the first of the month, Long Xiao4Yun and ShangGuan JinHong are to become sworn brothers." she responded.

    Ah Fei looked perplexed and asked, "Has ShangGuan JinHong's vision gone bad?"

    "Of course he doesn't want to become sworn brothers with Long Xiao4Yun. But at the same time, he doesn't want to be known as someone who goes back on his word. His only solution is to have Long Xiao4Yun killed." she replied.

    She smiled and added, "The dead can't become sworn brothers with those who are still living, right?"

    Ah Fei didn't answer.

    "But because the two have publicly agreed to become sworn brothers, ShangGuan JinHong can't lay a hand on him. He can't order his people to kill him either. That's why he has to use you." Lin XianEr said.

    "To kill Long Xiao4Yun, you are more suitable than anyone else." she added with a grin.

    "Why is that?" Ah Fei said.

    "Because you are not tied with the Gold Currency Union in any way. And also because Li XunHuan is your friend. Long Xiao4Yun had betrayed Li XunHuan before, almost everyone knows that by now." she replied.

    Lin XianEr took a deep breath and continued, "Therefore, if you killed Long Xiao4Yun, everyone will think that it is because you did it for Li XunHuan. No one would suspect that ShangGuan JinHong had any part in it."

    "Even if it wasn't for anyone, I still wouldn't let this kind of person live any longer in this world." Ah Fei said coldly.

    "However, once you kill Long Xiao4Yun, ShangGuan JinHong will kill you." Lin XianEr said.

    Ah Fei fell silent.

    "Not only would he kill you to silence you, he would kill you so others would think that he did it to avenge his sworn brother. So that others would praise his loyalty." she said.

    Ah Fei's eyes shifted to the sword in his hand.

    "ShangGuan JinHong's martial arts are unfathomably deep and profound, you're ... you're not thinking of ..." Lin XianEr said.

    Before finishing that sentence, she threw herself into his chest and softly whispered, "Since he is not here, lets take this chance to escape."

    "Escape?" Ah Fei said.

    "I understand that you never run from anything, but just this once, can you make an exception for me?" she asked.

    "No." Ah Fei replied.

    "Not even for me?" Lin XianEr's voice became incredibly tender and tears started flowing from her eyes.

    She had unleashed her deadliest weapon.

    Ah Fei didn't look at her but appeared to be gazing off into the distance. He slowly answered, "It is because of you, that I can do no such thing."

    "Why?" she asked.

    "For your sake, I refuse to be a coward who goes back on his word." he replied.

    "But ... but ..." she said.

    Lin XianEr curled up into his chest and started weeping.

    "I care not whether you are a coward or a hero. The person I love is you, and I only want you to be alive and by my side."

    Ah Fei's resolute expression suddenly melted away again. He said to her softly, "Aren't I by your side right now?"

    Lin XianEr still crying, replied, "Sometimes I just don't understand what you're thinking inside."

    "My beliefs are very simple, that's why they will never change." he replied.

    The simpler they are, the less they will ever change.

    Lin XianEr looked up at him with tears in her eyes and asked, "Your beliefs will always remain the same?"


    His replies are very simple as well.

    Lin XianEr stood up and slowly made her way to the window. Not a sound could be heard from the outside. Not even the buzzing of insects of the cries of birds could be heard. Any kind of living thing that came to this place would suddenly feel that life was extremely worthless.

    The only certainty in this place was the feeling of "death". Whether you were sitting or standing. Whether you were inside or outside. You could always sense its foreboding presence.

    After some time, Lin XianEr sighed and said, "I suddenly realized that the relationship between you and Li XunHuan is very much like that of ShangGuan JinHong and Jing WuMing."

    "Hmm?" Ah Fei said.

    "The only reason Jing WuMing is alive is to do ShangGuan JinHong's bidding. So obviously, ShangGuan JinHong treats him very well, that is until now ..."

    There was a bitter smile on her lips as she continued, "Now, Jing WuMing is no longer of any use to him, so ShangGuan JinHong chased him out like a wild dog. I bet he never even dreamed that things would end like this."

    "He should have realized this long ago." Ah Fei said.

    "If he knew that this would happen long ago, would he still do the same thing?" Lin XianEr asked.

    "He would, because he doesn't have a choice." Ah Fei replied.

    "And what about you?" she asked.

    Ah Fei fell silent again.

    "Li XunHuan is kind to you because you are the only person in this world who can aid him. Besides you, he is completely alone. But when you are no longer of any use to him, will he do as ShangGuan JinHong did to Jing WuMing?" Lin XianEr said.

    After another long pause, Ah Fei suddenly said, "Turn your head around."

    He said this very slowly, but it was very stern and resolute.

    He had never spoken to Lin XianEr like this before.

    Lin XianEr whose hand was by the window sill suddenly held on tightly and asked, "Turn my head around? What for?"

    "Because I want to make two things clear to you." Ah Fei said.

    "I can hear perfectly fine from here." she said.

    "Because I want you to look at me. There are some words which you not only have to listen with your ears but also with your eyes. Otherwise, you will never understand their meaning." he said.

    She held on to the window sill even tighter before finally turning her head around.

    After she saw the look in Ah Fei's eyes, Lin XianEr understood what he meant.

    His eyes had suddenly become exactly like ShangGuan JinHong's.

    When a person's eyes looked like this, it meant that no matter what that person was saying, you had better listen and not disobey.

    Otherwise you would definitely regret it!

    At that moment, Lin XianEr realized that she had been wrong.

    She had thought that Ah Fei was completely under her control, that he would obey her every wish. Only now did she realize just how wrong she was.

    Ah Fei was obviously in love with her. Very much in love.

    But in a man's life, there are things which are much more important than "love", even much more important than life itself.

    Ah Fei had always listened to everything she said, because she had never brought this up before.

    She could ask him to die for her, but she still couldn't ignore the matter at hand.

    "What did you want to talk to me about? I'm listening?" Lin XianEr said smilingly.

    Even though her smile looked as sweet as ever, it seemed rather forced.

    "I want you to understand, that Li XunHuan is my friend. And I won't allow anyone to insult him ... ANYONE!" Ah Fei said.

    Lin XianEr lowered her head. "And ... "

    "What you said before ... not only have you underestimated me, but you've underestimated Jing WuMing as well." Ah Fei said.

    "Him?" Lin XianEr asked with a surprised look.

    "He left because he wanted to leave. Not because someone chased him away." Ah Fei replied.

    "Except, I don't understand ..." she said.

    "You don't need to understand. You just need to remember that." Ah Fei said.

    "I'll remember your every word. I just hope that you don't forget, that you once said ... that the way you feel about me will never change." Lin XianEr said quietly as she lowered her head.

    Ah Fei stared into her eyes. He kept staring and staring.

    Even if his heart really was like a mountain of ice, that mountain was rapidly melting.

    Ah Fei started walking slowly towards Lin XianEr. Her body seemed to emit some kind of force that pulled him closer and closer. Ah Fei felt like he couldn't control himself.

    Lin XianEr dodged to avoid his grasp and pretended to be apprehensive, and said, "Not today ..."

    Suddenly Ah Fei's body became stiff.

    Lin XianEr giggled and said, "Today you have to get a lot of rest, hurry to bed. I will look over you by your side."


    ShangGuan JinHong is standing still. His eyes are focused on the door. He is waiting.

    What is he waiting for?

    The guards outside the door had already withdrew because ShangGuan JinHong had given the order, "Someone is going to come today, I don't want anyone to disturb them."

    Who is he expecting to come?

    Why is ShangGuan JinHong that concerned with this person?

    ShangGuan JinHong has a objective in everything he does. What is his objective this time?


    Late into night. Even quiter still.

    Ah Fei eyes were closed. His breathing was even. He looked like he was deep asleep.

    In actuality, he is wide awake. He has never been so awake before in his life.

    He rarely had trouble falling asleep. Because if he wasn't completely exhausted, he would never try to sleep. But on those days that he was, once his head touched the pillow, he would immediately fall asleep.

    But now, he wasn't sleeping.

    Lin XianEr had fallen asleep beside him and was breathing very evenly as well.

    Ah Fei only had to turn sideways and he could embrace her warm, soft body.

    But Ah Fei tried his best to resist his urges. He didn't even look at her. He was afraid that once he saw her, his willpower would collapse.

    Lin XianEr had always trusted him completely, how could he do anything to her?

    He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her breath. He had to use all his concentration and focus just to control himself.

    It was definitely not a nice plight to have to endure.

    Desire is like a wave in the ocean. One second it is quiet and still, another second it comes rolling towards you again with all its might.

    He continued resisting that desire. He started to resemble a fish caught in a frying pan.

    How could he fall asleep?

    Lin XianEr's breathing seemed to get heavier. Yet her eyes began to slowly open.

    Those radiant eyes of hers in the darkness slowly started to focus on Ah Fei.

    His disheveled hair was spread all across his forehead. He looked like a sleeping child.

    Lin XianEr suddenly noticed that his eyelashes were very long. She wanted to reach out and lightly stroke them.

    In that single instant, if she really did reach her hand out, Ah Fei would forever be hers. He would willingly abandon everything just for her.

    In that single instant, her glance was soft,gentle, and kind. But that short instant quickly passed. She had retracted her hand. Her soft and gentle gaze had turned ice cold.

    She whispered, "Little Fei are you asleep yet?"

    Ah Fei didn't respond. He didn't open his eyes either.

    He didn't dare to.

    He was afraid that he would ...

    Lin XianEr waited for some time. Then suddenly she slipped herself out of the bed and picked up her shoes.

    With her shoes in hand, she quietly opened the door and snuck out.

    This late at night, where could she be off to?

    Ah Fei suddenly felt as if his heart had been pricked by a needle.

    "What you don't know won't bother you. It is actually better for us that certain things in life we never find out."

    Ah Fei understood this very well. Reality is always brutal, and painful.

    However, he could no longer control himself.


    The door opened.

    A smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face.

    He looks even more intimidating when he's smiling than when he's not.

    Lin XianEr lifted up the door, and stood on top. Her eyes were pointed at ShangGuan JinHong. *PU*, the shoes in her hand flopped to the floor.

    She let out a long sigh and said, "You already knew that I would come, didn't you?"

    "Yes." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    Lin XianEr bit her lip and said, "I don't even know why I came for."

    "I know why." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "You know why?" Lin XianEr asked.

    "You came because you've realized that Ah Fei is not as reliable as you had thought. If you want to live, the only person that you can rely on is me." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "And I ... I can rely on you?" she said.

    "You have to ask yourself that." ShangGuan JinHong said with a laugh.

    There are no completely reliable men in this world.

    A man is as reliable to the extent of just how well a woman treats him.

    Lin XianEr obviously understands this.

    She laughed and replied, "You will definitely be reliable then, because I will never disappoint you."

    She started laughing with her eyes.

    Then, her hands, her waist, her thighs ...

    She seemed to have made up her mind. No matter what the method, she would have this man.

    In the quickest instant, she used her most effective weapon.

    In the eyes of men, there is nothing more captivating than a woman in her bare skin. And this wasn't any woman, it was Lin XianEr.

    The strange thing was, ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were still focused on the door.

    It seemed that the door panel was much more attractive to him than she was.

    Lin XianEr stopped panting for a second and said, "Hold me, I ... I almost can't move anymore."

    ShangGuan JinHong picked her up in his arms, but his eyes were still focused on the door.

    With a *PENG*, the door suddenly burst open!

    A person barged into the room, like a ball of fire.

    Blazing fire!

    Ah Fei!

    No one knew the anger he felt right now, nor could anyone imagine.

    A smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face.

    Had he already predicted that Ah Fei would come?

    Ah Fei didn't even see him.

    He didn't see anyone at all, the only thing he saw before him was a nightmare.

    His entire body began to tremble.

    Lin XianEr didn't even blink. She was still hanging onto ShangGuan JinHong's neck.

    "The people who come here, don't they even knock?" she said coldly.

    Ah Fei suddenly made a fist, and struck at the door.

    An iron door!

    Blood started to drip from Ah Fei's fist, pain shot through his body and his lips turned pale.

    But what kind of pain in this world could compare to the pain he felt inside his heart?

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "So it turns out this person is crazy."

    Ah Fei finally erupted and roared, "So you really are this kind of woman."

    Lin XianEr answered casually, "You didn't realize? I've always been this kind of woman. I haven't changed at all. You never realized it before because you're too stupid."

    She laughed coldly and continued, "If you were a little smarter, you would've known not to come."

    "I'm already here." Ah Fei replied.

    "What good is it that you've come? So you can scold me? What relation do I have with you? That you think you can mind my business? That whatever I do, you have to watch over me." she asked mockingly.

    Tears seemed to be forming in Ah Fei's eyes, but those tears suddenly turned to ice.

    His eyes have turned deathly pale.

    A hopelessly and deathly pale color. The same color as the eyes of Jing WuMing.

    At that moment he seemed to have wept his last bloody tear. In that instant life itself had seemed to end.

    He was starting to turn into a dead person.

    "I shouldn't have come, I really shouldn't have come ..."

    If he knew he shouldn't have, then why didn he come for?

    People always tend to do the things that hurt themselves when they know that they shouldn't.

    End of Chapter 65

  8. #68
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 66 - Self Humiliation

    Ah Fei didn't know why he ran out of the room.

    The cold stare of ShangGuan JinHong on him the entire time, on him as he ran out.

    Lin XianEr said softly, "I'm completely devoted to only you, I take it that you believe me now?"

    "I believe you." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Before he had even finished speaking those three words, ShangGuan JinHong dropped Lin XianEr onto the bed and leapt out the door.

    Lin XianEr felt her whole body stiffen up.

    But the look on her face wasn't one of sorrow or worry, it was a look of fear.

    It was the same look of fear as when she realized that she hadn't truly conquered Ah Fei. But this fear didn't last very long.

    "What have I done? What have I gained?"

    "What is there in the world that is truly reliable?"

    She stood up and began picking her clothes off the floor. Then she started folding them, very slowly and very neatly.

    When her body loosened up, she lied down. An extremely sweet smile came across her face.

    She had decided that she was still going to try.


    The end of the passage led to a gate.

    Ah Fei was running past the doorway when stumbled over and fell.

    He just laid there on the floor. He didn't try to get up nor did he try to do anything at all.

    At a time like this, his mind suddenly went entirely blank.

    It was a strange site to behold ...

    Autumn had passed. The parched soil carried the fragrance of fallen leaves.

    Ah Fei gnawed at the ground and swallowed a mouthful of dirt.

    Rough, thick, parched dirt went through his throat and into his stomach.

    He looked like he was trying to satisfy his hunger with soil.

    He had become an empty shell of a person; he had no thoughts, no feelings, no flesh, and no soul. Twenty something years of living suddenly spiraled into a blank void.

    ShangGuan JinHong had caught up to him now. He glanced at Ah Fei before stepping over him and into the house nearby to retrieve the sword.

    *TI*, the sword plunged into the ground, right in front of Ah Fei's face.

    The cold tip of the sword drew blood as it glazed across Ah Fei's cheek. Warm blood trickled down from blade into the soil.

    ShangGuan JinHong's voice sounded even sharper than that blade. "This is your sword!"

    Ah Fei did not move.

    "If you were to die now, no one would mourn your loss. No one would feel any pity for you either. Within three days, your corpse will be rotting in some ditch like a wild dog." he said.

    ShangGuan JinHong snickered as he continued, "Because if a person were to die over a woman like that, then he's even lowlier than a wild dog."

    Ah Fei suddenly stood up and reached for the sword.

    His eyes were blood red. His mouth was still brimming with dirt and mud. He really did look like a wild beast.

    "You want to kill me, right? Why haven't you attacked yet?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei's hands started to tremble. Veins began to bulge out of his arms.

    "If you are planning to kill her, I won't stop you." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei suddenly turned around and stopped.

    "Have you lost the courage to kill as well?" ShangGuan JinHong asked mockingly.

    Ah Fei bent over and started to throw up.

    ShangGuan JinHong's gaze gradually became less fierce as he spoke, "I know living must feel more difficult than death right now. But if you die now, you're only running away. I know that you are not a coward."

    "In addition, you haven't done what you promised to do for me yet." ShangGuan JinHong added.

    Ah Fei had finished throwing up, but he was still heaving air.

    "If you still have the courage to live on, then follow me!" ShangGuan JinHong said, as he turned around.

    Ah Fei looked at what he had threw up before he turned around and followed ShangGuan JinHong.

    The entire time he hadn't shed a single tear.

    Those who don't shed tears, only shed blood!

    And he is already prepared to bleed.

    Past the doorway was a small courtyard.

    In the courtyard there was a single white willow tree sighing in the autumn breeze. It is sighing about how short life is, and about how foolish people can be, in not being able to realize just how precious life really is.

    The lamps are still lit.

    Light shined out from under the door and onto ShangGuan JinHong's feet.

    ShangGuan JinHong turned around to pat Ah Fei on the shoulder and said, "Lift up your chest. Go inside and cast away your gloomy mood."

    Ah Fei proceeded inside.

    What was waiting for him inside the house?

    Why did ShangGuan JinHong bring him here?

    Ah Fei didn't really care.

    When a person's heart is already dead, what else is there to fear?

    There were seven people inside that house.

    Seven incredibly beautiful maidens.

    Seven inviting smiles directed at him, seven seductive pairs of eyes staring at him.

    Ah Fei was caught by surprise.

    ShangGuan JinHong grinned and said, "She isn't the only beautiful girl in the world, is she?"

    The group of girls dragged him, giggling and laughing.

    Their fragrance carried a faint smell of wine.

    Several wooden chests were piled together in one corner of the room.

    ShangGuan JinHong opened one of the chests and bright gleaming light radiated out from it.

    The chest was filled with precious pearls and jewels.

    "With one of these chests, you could buy the hearts of a hundred women." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Our hearts already belong to him, we don't have to be bought." one of the girls said flirtingly.

    ShangGuan JinHong laughed and said, "Look, she isn't the only one who can feed sweet words into your ears either. All women are born with a mouth full of honey."

    "But we're telling the truth!" another of the girls said giggling.

    "Truths are lies, Lies are the truth. Truth and lies, there really is no difference." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    He slowly walked up to Ah Fei and asked, "Do you still want to die?"

    Ah Fei downed an entire jug of wine, and answered with a big smile, "Die? Who wants to die?"

    "Good. As long as you live on, everything here is yours!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei lifted one of the girls into his arms.

    He held on to her extremely tightly, almost as if he was trying to crush her.

    ShangGuan JinHong quietly made his way out and closed the door.

    The constant sound of laughter could be heard coming from inside the house.

    ShangGuan JinHong walked to the middle of the courtyard with his arms crossed. He stared up at the moon and mumbled to himself, "The weather will definitely be good tomorrow."

    ShangGun JinHong loves good weather.

    When the weather is better, blood flows faster, and people die even faster!

    Beautiful weather!


    Dust blowing in the wind. A long street.

    The sun's rays are fresh and full of energy.

    A single rider on horseback speeds out of the Cloudy Inn. He has thick eyebrows, curved eyes, and a valiant expression on his face. Across his body is draped a loose fitting yellow robe. His wide powerful chest gladly welcomes the dust in the wind and the warm rays of the sun.

    There is only one thing on his mind.

    "To bring Ah Fei so that he may kill the two people clothed in purple and red!"

    This was the direct order of ShangGuan JinHong!

    When members of the Gold Currency Union received an order from ShangGuan JinHong, they focus on nothing else.

    The color of Long Xiao4Yun's face was almost the same as the color of the clothes on his body, reddish purple.

    But he had not been drinking.

    Power can intoxicate people much more potently than wine can.

    ShangGuan JinHong was personally coming to greet and welcome him. It was definitely going to be a glorious event.

    He wished he could invite every single person in the Wulin community to see him today in all his glory and splendor.

    It was a pity that the number of people who came were few.

    No one liked to draw unnecessary trouble upon themselves.

    Three cups of wine went down his throat. Long Xiao4Yun's face is even redder now. He raised his cup and said, "Big Brother, your good intentions toward me are irrepayable. I will never forget your generosity. This cup is for you! Cheers!"

    "I never touch wine." ShangGuan JinHong said coldly.

    Long Xiao3Yun who was standing behind them poured a cup of tea and presented it to ShangGuan JinHong, saying, "If that is so, Uncle please accept this cup of tea instead."

    "I don't drink tea either." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao4Yun let out a laugh and asked, "So big brother, what do you normally drink then?"

    "Water." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "You only drink water?" Long Xiao4Yun exclaimed with a look of surprise.

    "Water is very calming. Those who drink water have clear minds." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao3Yun brought over another cup, this one filled with water and presented it to ShangGuan JinHong.

    "I only drink when I'm thirsty. Right now, I am not thirsty." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao4Yun looked a little bit uneasy.

    Long Xiao3Yun said calmly, "Since that is the case, what if I drink this cup for you?"

    "Since you poured it, you drink it." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao3Yun picked up the cup of wine, the cup of tea, the cup of water, and drank all three.

    "In the days of old, brothers would swear oaths by blood. Since uncle and father are educated and intelligent people, there is no need for such showy rituals. But the custom of paying respects with incense, that can't be overlooked." Long Xiao3Yun said.

    "Of what use is incense?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "To thank the heavens and the earth. To pay respects to the gods and the demons." Long Xiao3Yun replied.

    "Demons and gods don't come and pay their respects to me. Why should I do so for them?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Right, uncle is simply an other-worldly and celebrated hero. Even gods and demons must hold you in high regards." Long Xiao3Yun said.

    "I don't respect them, why would they respect me?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao3Yun was at a lost for words and coughed twice. Finally he said, "So uncle, you mean to say ..."

    "Was it your father who is becoming sworn brothers with me, or is it you?" ShangGuan asked with a straight face.

    "Of course it is father." Long Xiao3Yun replied.

    "Then stand aside and be quiet." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Yes." Long Xiao3Yun answered.

    He lowered his hands respectfully and retreated but the look on his face didn't change.

    Long Xiao4Yun had a look of concern on his face, and said sternly, "That useless son of mine has no manners. Big brother, please do not take any offense."

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly slammed the table and said sharply, "With a son like that, how can he be your successor?"

    He sighed and said, "It is a shame that he isn't my son."

    Long Xiao4Yun sat there flustered, not knowing what he should say.

    A person hastily made his way towards ShangGuan JinHong. He had thick eyebrows and curved eyes. When he finally was behind ShangGuan JinHong, he whispered, "The order has been given, but ..."

    "But what?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "He is drunk. Extremely drunk." the man replied.

    ShangGuan JinHong crossed his eyebrows and said, "Wake him with cold water. If he still doesn't wake, then use urine."

    "Yes." the man replied, with a look of utmost admiration.

    With the exception of dead people, any person can be woken up with urine.

    Long Xiao4Yun didn't hear what was being said and finally asked, "Brother are you waiting for someone?"

    "Who is worth me waiting for?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "Since everyone is already here, why don't we ..." Long Xiao4Yun said.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly interrupted him with a laugh and said, "Your age?"

    "Fifty-one." Long Xiao4Yun answered.

    "You're older than I am, looks like I'll have to start calling you big brother." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao4Yun had a look of urgency on his face as he immediately stood up and said, "It doesn't matter whether one is young or old, it only matters whether one is able or not. Big brother, please don't give me undeserved praise."

    "Then since I am the elder brother, you should listen to me." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Yes." Long Xiao4Yun answered.

    "Good, have a seat and drink ... first drink to our friends over here." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    If you're able to sit and drink at this table, you must be pretty well respected.

    ShangGuan JinHong hadn't yet moved his chopsticks, so everyone else's chopsticks felt like they weighed several hundred pounds. How could anyone eat?

    "The dishes have already been served. If we don' eat, the food will go to waste. There's nothing I hate more than waste. Everyone, please help yourself." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    After his last word, seven or eight chopsticks reached out.

    "The fish tastes wonderfully fresh. Big brother why don't you try some?" Long Xiao4Yun said.

    "I eat when I am hungry. Right now I am not hungry." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Eating when one isn't hungry is a waste as well." he added.

    After he said that, several pairs of chopsticks fell to the table.

    One of them had a pale face and a long body. On his hand was a jade ring that shined most exquisitely. A sword in sheathe that hung from his waist was also encrusted with several pieces of jade.

    Although this person had yet to say a word, the look on his face showed that he was extremely agitated.

    He had never before experienced this kind of agitation. Now, he regretted coming in the first place.

    He shouldn't have come at all.

    "Illustrious Jade Hin", that golden brand name. When people in the jewelry business hear the words "Illustrious Jade Hin", its like when people in the martial arts world hear the words "Little Li's Flying Dagger".

    The young master of "Illustrious Jade Hin", XiMen Yu had always been pampered and served upon since birth. When he wanted to go east, no one even dared to suggest going west.

    When he wanted to learn swordsmanship, many famous sword masters were summoned to teach him, and someone even went out to search for a suitable sword of legend for him.

    At the age of ten, XiMen Yu had used this sword to kill ...

    For no particular reason, except that he wanted to experience the thrill of killing someone. So someone was immediately found for him to kill.

    Put someone like him at a table and force him to endure such a temperament, he will undoubtedly become agitated.

    He also hadn't yet moved his chopsticks.

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes caught sight of XiMen Yu's eyes.

    XiMen Yu wanted to turn his head and look else where, but ShangGuan JinHong's eyes had a magentic presence to them and he just couldn't look away.

    If he wanted to gaze at someone, that someone could only let him do so.

    XiMen Yu felt his entire body slowly turning cold. Starting from the tips of his fingers, that cold spread to his back, into his bones, and into his heart.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly exclaimed, "Is their poison in this food?"

    "Why would there be poison?" XiMen Yu asked.

    "If there isn't any poison, why aren't you eating?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "I am not hungry either, I don't want to waste food." XiMen Yu replied.

    "You're really not hungry?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Real ... really." XiMen Yu said.

    "Wasting food is excuseable, but lying is not. Do you understand?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    XiMen Yu can barely hold in his anger any longer, and said, "Why would I lie about trivial matters such as this?"

    "Lying is lying. It doesn't matter whether what you're lying about is trivial or important." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "I already said I'm not hungry." XiMen Yu said.

    "It's already past the time for dinner. How could you not be hungry?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Because what I ate earlier hasn't digested yet." XiMen Yu answered.

    "You ate at the Fuiyun Restaurant in the south part of the city earlier, correct?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Correct." XiMen Yu said.

    "You ordered a plate of sesame chicken, a bowl of eel and noodle soup, and an order of meat buns. You ate two pieces of chicken, half the bowl of noodles, and seven meat buns, correct?" ShangGuan JinHong said meticulously.

    XiMen Yu laughed and exclaimed, "I can't believe that Chief ShangGuan has investigated my every move and action down to the very last detail."

    "Since you said that what you ate earlier hasn't been digested yet, it should all still be in your stomach then, right?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "I guess so." XiMen Yu responded.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly lowered his head and said, "Cut open his stomach and let us see whether it is still there or not."

    Although everyone had already realized he was purposely antagonizing XiMen Yu, they were surprised when it had escalated this far. No one dared to show any negative reaction or surprise to his words.

    ShangGuan JinHong's order was irretractable. Once it is given, it must be carried out.

    XiMen Yu's face turned pale. He said hesitatingly, "Chief, you are just kidding with me right?"

    ShangGuan JinHong ignored him completely. Four men dressed in yellow came over.

    XiMen Yu leapt up and drew his sword. His movements were refined and accurate. Even though no one had seen him make a move yet, they knew for sure that his swordsmanship wasn't weak.

    But before his sword could leave its sheathe, there was a *XIAO* sound as the two chopsticks in ShangGuan JinHong's hand suddenly found themselves lodged deep inside XiMen Yu's left and right shoulder.

    End of Chapter 66

  9. #69
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 67 - The Pinnacle of Martial Arts
    Everyone in the world knew that ShangGuan JinHong's skills were unfathomably deep and profound. However, no one had ever seen him attack. And now, everyone still hadn't seen him attack.

    His hands didn't appear to have moved at all. They only saw him lightly press down onto the table before the chopsticks shot through the air. Then, XiMen Yu fell limp and dropped to the floor.

    "Take him away and examine him carefully." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    The men in yellow came over and carried XiMen Yu's body with them.

    XiMen Yu's lips appeared to move slightly, but he was in so much fright that not a sound came out.

    "If that food is really still in your stomach, I'll pay with my own life so that you won't die without a reason." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    No one dared to speak. No one dared to move.

    Everyone looked like they were sitting on a cushion of nails. Each one of their clothes were soaked in cold sweat.

    One of the men in yellow finally walked over and said, "We have finished examining him."

    "What did you find?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Nothing. His stomach was empty." the man in yellow said.

    "Good." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    His eyes swept across the faces of everyone there and said, "If you lie in front of me, you will suffer the same fate as him, does everybody understand?"

    They all nodded their heads.

    "Is anyone else also not hungry?" he asked.

    "No, we're hungry ... we're hungry." everyone answered back.

    They all started fighting eagerly over the food on the table. No one even bothered to chew, piece after piece of food went straight into their stomachs.

    Suddenly, a person soaked from head to toe rushed in and stood by the doorway, his eyes were blood red and he looked disheveled and sluggish. He kept mumbling to himself, "A person clothed in purplish red, a person clothed in purplish red."

    Ah Fei!

    Long Xiao4Yun immediately stood up.

    Ah Fei's eyes made their way to him and he said, "So it is you."

    Although his eyes were dull and he looked drowsy and in disarray, there was a sword in his hand!

    As long as there was a sword in his hand, it was enough to make Long Xiao4Yun feel uneasy.

    Long Xiao4Yun started to take a few steps back.

    Ah Fei slowly made his way forward.

    The sword wobbled in his hand. His footsteps and the sword were both unsteady.

    But once Long Xiao4Yun saw his sword, he turned around and ran.

    Ah Fei leapt towards him. Before he reached them, everyone could already smell the stench of wine.

    Long Xiao3Yun's expression changed now. He hooked the chair that his father was sitting on and hurled it towards Ah Fei hoping to block his path.

    Ah Fei didn't see the chair at all and tripped. His entire body fell down and the sword flew out of his hands.

    He couldn't even hold on to his sword!

    Long Xiao4Yun was shocked but overjoyed. He turned around and picked up the sword. In a flash, the sword was pointed straight at the back of Ah Fei's head.

    But he didn't stab forward.

    Because in the corner of his eye he had caught glimpse of the expression on ShangGuan JinHong's face.

    ShangGuan JinHong's face was expressionless to the point of horror. He sat there like a statue, not moving a single inch.

    Because he didn't move, no one else dared to move either.

    "This person dares to cause a scene in front of Big Brother, he deserves to die!" Long Xiao4Yun said.

    ShangGuan JinHong was quite for a long while. He finally said, "There is a dog outside, have you seen it?"

    "Yes, I think I have." Long Xiao4Yun answered.

    "If you want to kill this person, then why not kill that dog instead." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Big brother, so what you're saying is, this person can't even be compared to a dog?" Long Xiao4Yun said.

    "And what about you?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Me ... ?" Long Xiao4Yun said, with a look of shock.

    "He can't compare to a dog, but you're even worse. When dogs see him, even they don't run away." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Long Xiao4Yun looked dumbfounded.

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes looked to the crowd and asked, "Would any of you be willing to become sworn brothers with a dog?"

    "Of course not!" everyone answered.

    "Even they're not willing. Let alone me ..." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    ShangGuan JinHong looked towards Long Xiao4Yun and said, "I think you and this dog would make the best of friends, why don't you two become sworn brothers instead?" His words were irretractable. But who could endure this kind of insult?

    Long Xiao4Yun's face was filled with sweat, and stuttered, "You ... you ..."

    Long Xiao3Yun suddenly ran over and took the sword in his hand, and said, "This was all my idea, I had no clue that it would cause so much shame to me and my father. I am already unable to wash away my misdeeds. Only when my blood is spilled onto the floor can I repay what my father has done for me. It is a pity that my mother is not present, for I can't decide life and death without her presence."

    He suddenly took the sword and cut off his own hand.

    No one dared to react to this.

    Long Xiao3Yun was in such pain that his entire body shook. Nonetheless, he bit down on his teeth and took his severed hand to ShangGuan JinHong and said, "Are you satisfied yet?"

    ShangGuan JinHong's expression didn't change as he looked at him coldly and said, "You want to exchange this hand for the lives of you and your father?"

    "I ..." Long Xiao3Yun said.

    Before he could finish, the pain became too much and he fainted.

    Even though Long Xiao4Yun felt extremely grieved inside, he dared not show it. He just stood there quietly.

    "On your son's behalf, I'll let you two live. Now leave and don't ever let me see you again." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei finally got up.

    He looked like he was completely oblivious to what just happened. He looked like he was completely oblivious to everyone around him as well. His eyes finally spotted a jug of wine on the table and he slowly made his way towards it and snatched it into his hands.

    He hugged the jug of wine in his arms extremely tightly as if it was his life.

    *DING*, the jug was suddenly shattered.

    Wine poured down.

    Ah Fei's hand was trembling as it still held on to a piece of the broken jug.

    "This wine is for humans. You're not worthy!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    He threw a piece of silver onto the floor and said, "If you still want to drink, go buy your own."

    Ah Fei lifted his head and looked at him. He slowly turned his body and walked.

    The piece of silver was by his feet.

    He stared at the piece of silver for quite a while, before finally bending down ...

    A smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face.

    He looked even more intimidating when he smiled than when he didn't.

    Suddenly, there was a cold flash of light.

    A dagger struck down like lightning and pinned the piece of silver to the ground.

    Ah Fei flinched and lifted his head up, his whole body suddenly froze.

    A person who stood at the doorway looked at him and said, "The wine here is better than outside. If you want to drink, I'll pour a cup for you."

    There was still one jug of wine left on the table.

    The person walked over, poured a cup, and presented it to Ah Fei.

    No one said a word. Even the sound of breathing could not be heard.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn't say a word either.

    He just silently stared at this person.

    This person wasn't tall, but wasn't very short either. His clothes were raggedy and old. He looked like a feeble and decrepit middle-aged man.

    But as ShangGuan JingHong watched him pour the wine, watched him give the cup to Ah Fei, not only did he not stop this person, he didn't show any reaction at all.

    No one had ever dared to disobey ShangGuan JinHong's orders!

    But this person took no heed in ShangGuan JinHong's orders whatsoever.

    The cup of wine had reached Ah Fei's hand.

    Ah Fei stared childishly into the cup. Two drops of tears slowly fell into the cup of wine.

    He had always only been willing to bleed, his tears were something that he held back.

    The middle-aged man's eyes began to water up as well, tears overflowed from the corners of his eyes. But on his mouth was still the same warm, friendly smile.

    That warm friendly smile seemingly changed the decrepit looking man into a bright and radiant person. No one had ever imagined that a smile could be so powerful.

    He didn't say a word either.

    The feelings behind his warm smile and brimming tears were something that no one in the world could ever express into words.

    Ah Fei's hand began to shake again uncontrollably. He suddenly let out a roar and smashed the cup of wine onto the floor. He turned around and ran towards the door.

    The middle-aged man looked like he was just about to chase after him.

    "Wait a moment!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    He kept walking for a second before stopping in place.

    "If you wanted to leave, then you shouldn't have come in the first place. Since you have come, then why would you leave?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    The middle-aged man stood silent for a while, before saying, "You're right. Since I am already here, why should I leave?"

    Before, he hadn't laid an eye on ShangGuan JinHong. Now, he slowly turned around.

    His gaze finally met the gaze of ShangGuan JinHong.

    A fiery blaze!

    The glances exchanged by the two of them seemed to ignite a fiery blaze.

    A silent, formless fiery blaze. Although none of them saw it with their own eyes, every single one of them felt it.

    Every single one of their hearts were thumping wildly.

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were like the hands of a demon, his gaze could suffocate any man's soul.

    That middle-aged person's eyes were like an endless sea, vast and refreshingly blue. A vastness that could entrap all the monsters and demons in the world.

    If ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were a blade, this person's eyes would be the sheathe!

    Seeing those pair of eyes, everyone knew that he wasn't just any ordinary middle-aged man.

    Some of them had already gussed who he was.

    ShangGuan JinHong's voice finally broke the silence. "Where is your weapon?"

    With a flicked of his wrist, a dagger appeared between his fingers!

    Little Li's flying dagger!

    After everyone saw the dagger, they knew that their guesses were correct!

    It was Li XunHuan!

    Li XunHuan had finally arrived!

    His hand was incredibly steady. As if it was frozen in midair.

    His fingers were long and slender, his fingernails neatly trimmed.

    This hand seemed more appropriate holding a pen than a dagger. But in the martial arts community, this hand was the most valuable, and the most frightening hand of all.

    The dagger was a very plain and ordinary dagger. But in this person's hand, that dagger became a terrifying weapon!

    ShangGuan JinHong slowly stood up and walked to face Li XunHuan.

    The distance between the two was no more than seven meters.

    Yet, his hands were still inside his sleeves.

    ShangGuan JinHong had dominated the world nearly twenty years ago with his "Dragon Phoenix Rings". In the "Book of Weapons", they were ranked second, which was one higher than "Little Li's Flying Dagger"!

    In the twenty years after, no one had ever seen him use his rings.

    Even though everyone knew that they were powerful, no one knew for sure just how powerful they were.

    Were the rings in his hands right now?

    Everyone's eyes shifted from Li XunHuan's dagger to ShangGuan JinHong's hands.

    ShangGuan JinHong's hands finally emerged from his sleeves.

    His hands were empty.

    "Where are your rings?" Li XunHuan asked him.

    "They are here." ShangGuan JinHong answered.

    "Where?" Li XunHuan asked again.

    "In my heart." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

    "Your heart?" Li XunHuan said.

    "The rings aren't in my hands, the rings are in my heart!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Li XunHuan's eyes suddenly shrunk.

    ShangGuan JinHong's rings, they could not be seen!

    Because they cannot be seen, they could be anywhere. They could be right before your eyes, right in front of your throat, or right next to your soul.

    Even when your entire being has been destroyed, you still wouldn't know from where they came!

    "The rings aren't in hand, but the rings are in the heart."

    This is the pinnacle or martial arts!

    This was the level of gods and immortals.

    But no one understood. That is, no one except Li XunHuan.

    Everyone else looked slighly disappointed.

    A good number of people had wanted to see those rings, so they could recognize what true power was. But who would have known, that it was what they could not see, that was truly powerful.

    In that moment, the radiance in ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were pressing down intensely on Li XunHuan.

    "Seven years ago, my hands had finally become formless." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "I'm in awe." Li XunHuan said.

    "You understand?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Subtle and exquisite, there are no rings, there is no self. No trace left to be found, and no barrier left that is unbreakable." Li XunHuan said.

    "Wonderful! You really do understand!" ShangGuan JinHong exclaimed.

    "To comprehend is to not comprehend, to not understand is to understand.

    The two of them were like two Zen masters engaged in a duel of rhetoric.

    Except for the two of them, no one else understood a word.

    They did not understand, that's why it was so terrifying ...

    All of them slowly stood up and retreated to a corner of the room.

    ShangGuan JinHong stared at Li XunHuan and said, "Li XunHuan, really is Li XunHuan."

    Li XunHuan responded, "And ShangGuan JinHong can only be ShangGuan JinHong."

    ShangGuan JinHong spoke, "You were originally a third generation Tan Hua, worldy and educated, illustrious and famous, the envy of the entire world. Why have you ended up as a wanderer in the underworld of the martial arts community?"

    "I come as I please, I go as I please." Li XunHuan replied.

    "You can still leave?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Li XunHuan paused for a second and responded, "I can't leave, nor do I want to leave!"

    "Very well, make your move!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "My moves are already here!" Li XunHuan said.

    ShangGuan JinHong looked a little confused and asked, "Where?"

    "In the heart. The moves are not in this dagger, the moves are in my heart."

    ShangGuan JinHong's eyes suddenly shrunk as well!

    Those who couldn't see where ShangGuan JinHong's rings resided, couldn't see where Li XuHuan's moves were either.

    But when the rings arrive, the moves would emerge!

    Everyone thought they could feel their presence.

    Even though they all stood there quietly, they all felt as if they were in a struggle for life and death. Life and death that could be decided in a single breath!

    Even though they had all retreated into a corner of the room, they all still felt a dreadful aura.

    Every single one of them felt their hearts contract!


    The blood in Ah Fei's body was beginning to bubble!

    When he ran out frantically, he didn't know what he was thinking, nor did he know what he was doing.

    He was running from the truth.

    But where could he run to? And how long could he hide for?

    He couldn't run forever, because what he was running away from, was himself.


    Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong were staring at each other. Neither made a sound, neither made a move.

    The only thing anyone could hear was the beating of their own hearts. The only thing anyone could feel was the sweat dripping from the hairs on their own arms.

    Because once one of them made a move, it was bound to be a move that shook the heavens and earth.

    This standoff could erupt at any second. This standoff could break at any moment.

    And it could end in the exact same moment.

    Because in that moment, one of them would definitely fall!

    But who would be the one to fall?

    "Little Li's flying dagger, never leaves the hand unless it hits!"

    In these twenty years, no one has ever evaded Li TanHua's dagger!

    But since ShangGuan JinHong's dual rings were ranked higher, were they more formidable?

    The two of them were frozen in place.

    The two of them were gleaming with confidence.

    Was there anyone in the world who could guess the outcome of this battle?


    Ah Fei had fallen to the ground, he was panting heavily. After a while, he lifted his head and looked around. He had no idea where he was.

    He was in a small courtyard.

    In the middle of the courtyard was a lonely willow tree shaking in the autumn wind.

    On top of the porch was a half curled banner. The door was shut tight. Everything was silent inside the building.

    This was where he had spent the night in a drunken stupor.

    He had no idea how he wound up back here.

    The door suddenly opened. A beatiful face peeked out of the door. As soon as waves of desire shot through his body, the face withdrew back into the house.

    This was one of the people who had accompanied him.

    End of Chapter 67

  10. #70
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 68 - Between Gods and Demons
    Chapter 68 - Between Gods and Demons

    Ah Fei rose up and walked towards the door.

    *PENG*, the door was shut and one could hear the lock slip into place.

    Ah Fei pounded with all his might.

    After a while, a voice from inside asked, "Who is it?"

    "Me." Ah Fei responded.

    "Who are you?" the voice asked.

    "I am me."

    A giggle came from inside and said, "This person is insane."

    "From his tone of voice, he sounds like he's the owner of this place."

    "But who recognizes him?"

    "Who knows what kind of person he is? He looks like he's just seen a ghost."

    Those voices sounded very familiar. Just last night, the same voices kept speaking sweet and seductive words into his ears. Why were they totally different now?

    Ah Fei suddenly felt a gush of anger sweep through him. In a fit of rage he rammed the door open.

    Seven pairs of beautiful eyes were staring straight at him.

    When he spent the night here, those seven pairs of eyes looked as soft as water and as sweet as honey.

    But now, that sweetness had evaporated into smoke, and that water had frozen into ice.

    Ah Fei stumbled in and snatched a jug of wine. It was empty.

    "Where's the wine?"

    "There isn't any!"

    "Go fetch some!"

    "Why should we? This isn't a winery."

    Ah Fei staggered towards her, stared at her collar and shouted, "All of you really don't recognize me?"

    One pair of beautiful yet cold looking eyes looked at him and said, "And you recognize me? And you know who I am?"

    "I really didn't spend the night here?" Ah Fei said.

    Another voice answered him, "This is definitely a place where you spend the night. But you're not the same person who spent the night here."

    That sweet voice sounded extremely familiar.

    Ah Fei's entire body began to tremble again.

    He shut his eyes tightly. He didn't want to see her. He didn't dare to see her.

    She was the one who even in his dreams he couldn't forget. He would willingly sacrifice anything and everything, just to see her for an instant.

    But now, he would much rather die than cast an eye on her.

    She was the same as she had always been.

    But he, he was no longer the same person!


    Everyone was still silent, everything was still motionless.

    Dust from the ceiling started drifting towards the floor.

    Was it being blown by the wind? Or by the frightening aura in the air?

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly took one step forward!

    But Li XunHuan remained motionless!

    A voice suddenly broke the silence, "To move is to not move, to not move is to move. Do you understand this?"

    The voice sounded old and wise. Everyone in the room heard it very clearly.

    But no one could see from where it came.

    Another voice broke into laughter and said, "If that's the case, then to fight is to not fight, and to not fight is to fight. What's the purpose in fighting at all then?"

    That voice was young, lively and sweet.

    But no one saw from where it came either.

    "The two of them fight because they do not understand the true nature of martial arts." the old voice said.

    "You say that the two of them don't understand, but they both believe that they understand very clearly." the voice of the young girl giggled.

    After those two sentences were spoken, except for Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong, the look on everyone's face had changed.

    Someone actually said that the two of them didn't understand martial arts.

    If the two of them did not understand, then who in the world could claim that they did?

    "They think that 'the weapon is not in hand, but in the heart', that this is the highest level of martial arts. But the truth is that they are off by a lot." the old voice said.

    "Off by a lot?" the little voice giggled.

    "By at least a hundred and eight thousand li." the old voice replied.

    "So what then is the highest level of martial arts?" the young girl asked.

    "When the hands are empty and the heart is empty, the weapon and the self become one. If they can comprehend this much, then they won't be off by far." the old man said.

    "They won't be off by far? You mean that level isn't the highest either?" the young girl exclaimed.

    "Yes, there is still one level higher." the old man said.

    "The ultimate level of martial arts is when everything arises from nothing. There is no weapon and no self. Weapon and self are both forgotten. This is true formlessness, this is true omnipotence." the old man said explained.

    At this point, neither Li XunHuan or ShangGuan JinHong dared to change the look on their faces.

    "After hearing your explanation, I suddenly remembered a story." the little girl said.

    "Hmm?" the old man replied.

    "There is a story in Zen Buddhism, when the head student of the Fifth Patriarch, Shen-Hsiu, recited a verse:

    'The body is like the Bodhi Tree,
    the mind is like a mirror bright.
    Every moment we work to keep it clean,
    and let no dust alight.'

    This was already an extremely high level of Enlightenment." the young girl said.

    "Yes, this is similar to the idea of 'the weapon is not in hand, but in the heart'. Reaching this level is not easy at all." the old man said.

    "But the future Six Patriarch Hui Neng answered with an even deeper verse:

    'There is no Bodhi tree, nor is there a mirror bright.
    There is nothing and nothing will be,
    where would the dust alight?'
    And thus he became the most revered figure of Zen Buddhism." the little girl said.

    "Correct, that really is the highest level of Enlightenment. If one can reach that level, then one is in the company of gods and immortals." the old man said.

    "If that is so, then the theories you are teaching me are the same as Zen Buddhism?" she asked.

    "In all matters of the world, when one reaches the highest level, the theories are not much different than from everything else." the old man replied.

    "So in everything we do, we must strive for 'No object, no self', because only then can we reach the pinnacle of perfection." she said.

    "Exactly." the old man said.

    "I finally understand now!" the young girl said.

    "It is a pity that other people upon reaching the stage of 'no weapon in hand, weapon in heart', become overly ecstatic and conceited. Yet little do they know that that is only the surface of something much deeper." the old man said.

    "So when a person at that level already thinks they've reached the peak, then they will never be able to venture further." the little girl said.

    "You're entirely correct." the old man said.

    At that point, neither Li XunHuan or ShangGuan JinHong dared to break out in cold sweat.

    "The venerable Mr. Sun?" ShangGuan JinHong suddenly said.

    There was no reply.

    "Since Mr. Sun has arrived, why does he not show himself?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    There was still no reply.

    The wind blew in from the windows and made the curtains stand straight on their side.

    If Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong were to fight, there was not a person in the world who could hinder them.

    Yet, the conversation between the old man and the little girl had completely sapped the competitive atmosphere from the room.

    Both of them were still facing each other, both were still in the exact same stance as before. But everyone else in the room felt that they could breathe now. The dreadful intensity in the room had dissipated.

    The terrifying aura of death had disappeared from the air!

    Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and said, "Dragons show their heads but never their tails. Mr. Sun was definitely in our presence."

    "Anybody can boast grand theories, the question is whether they can back up their words." ShangGuan JinHong said coldly.

    "Its that not easy to even come up with a theory such as that." Li XunHuan said with a laugh.

    Before he could finish that sentence, there came a noisy rumbling from the outside.

    Four people carrying a coffin walked into the courtyard.

    It was a brand new coffin, the paint on its surface looked like it hadn't even dried yet.

    The four people carried the coffin all the way into the reception hall.

    One of the guards in yellow walked up to them and said, "You people have walked into the wrong place, leave now!"

    One of the men carrying the coffin answered, "Is there a master ShangGuan here?"

    "What business do you have with master ShangGuan?" the guard said.

    "Then we haven't come to the wrong place. This coffin is for master ShangGuan." the man said.

    The guard in yellow glared at them menacingly and said, "If you've come looking for trouble, then I think this coffin is better suited for the four of you."

    "This coffin is made of precious Nanmu lumber. We aren't worthy of such a coffin." he said.

    The guard in yellow's fist was already about to strike one of them in the face.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly said, "Who ordered you to bring the coffin here?"

    Once the guard heard his voice, his hand stopped in mid-air.

    The man looked extremely frightened now, and said hesistantly, "It was a master Sung who gave us four silver liangs and ordered us to deliver this coffin to the grand reception hall of the Cloudy Inn. He specifically ordered us to deliver it to master ShangGuan in person."

    "Surnamed Sung? What kind of person was he?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "A man, he didn't seem too old, nor did he seem very young. He was extremely generous but we didn't catch a glimpse of his face." one of them answered.

    "He came to us in the middle of the night yesterday and even blew out the candles first. There was no way for us to see what he looked like." Another one of them added.

    ShangGuan JinHong lowered his head in thought and didn't question them further.

    He already knew that he couldn't get an answer out of them.

    "This coffin is quite heavy ... it feels like there is someone inside." One of the men exclaimed.

    "Open the coffin." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    The lid hadn't been nailed shut. It was easily opened.

    It was in this moment that the cold look on ShangGuan JinHong's face finally changed.

    There was still no expression on his face. Even his eyebrows and lips stayed still.

    But the look on his face had definitely changed.

    So much so that he looked like a completely different person. Like someone who was wearing a mask.

    He didn't want anyone to see the expression on his face right now.

    There are a lot of people in the world who wore such masks. Normally you could never tell, but in times of urgency, that mask will definitely come on.

    Some use it to hide their sadness, some use it to conceal their anger, some use it to force on a false smile, and some to feign an intimidating presence.

    And there are some who use it to hide their fear!

    What was ShangGuan JinHong's reason?

    There really was a dead body inside the coffin!

    The dead body was none other than ShangGuan JinHon's only son, ShangGuan Fei!

    When ShangGuan Fei was killed, Li XunHuan had witnessed it.

    Not only had he seen Jing WuMing kill ShangGuan Fei, he had also seen him bury the corpse.

    How did the body end up here?

    Who dug up the corpse?

    Who sent it here? And for what reason?

    Li XunHuan's eyes flashed with movement, he seemed deep in thought.

    The mask on ShangGuan JinHong's face seemed to get thicker by the moment. He was silent for a long while before turning to Li XunHuan.

    "You've seen this person before?"

    "Yes." Li XunHuan replied.

    "And what are you thinking now that you see him?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    The corpse looked like it was thoroughly cleaned. It didn't look like it was dug out of the ground at all. It had on a brand new robe, not a speck of dirt could be found, not a drop of blood could be seen.

    Except for a single wound.

    The wound was on his throat, about seven tenths of the way through.

    "I think ... that he died a rather painless death." Li XunHuan said.

    "You're saying that his death was extremely quick?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Death is not painful. It is the agony of waiting for death that is painful. I am certain that he did not have to endure this." Li XunHuan replied.

    ShangGuan Fei's face looked like it was at peace, as if he was merely sleeping.

    Someone had completely erased the frightened look he had on his face when he was killed.

    Although ShangGuan JinHong wore a mask upon his face, that mask could not cover his eyes.

    His eyes were burning with rage. They were directed at Li XunHuan.

    "The number of people in the world who can kill him that quickly are very few." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Very few indeed. That number should be no more than five." Li XunHuan replied.

    "And you are one of those five." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Li XunHuan nodded his head and said, "Right, I am one of those five. And so are you."

    "And why would I kill him?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Of course you wouldn't. I just wanted you to understand, that the people who are able to kill him are not necessarily the ones who would want to kill him. And that the people who did kill him, are not necessarily the ones who can kill him." Li XunHuan said.

    "There are a lot of things that happen in this world that we just can't control, that we just could never imagine happening." Li XunHuan added.

    ShangGUan JinHong had stopped talking now. But his eyes were still set on Li XunHuan.

    The look in Li XunHuan's eyes had become soft, it almost appeared to be sympathy. As if he had seen right through ShangGuan JinHong's mask and saw the shock and sadness in his heart.

    He had always been the one who terrorized and tormented others.

    Now he was the one who was being antagonized, and he knew not from who or where it came.

    Blood is thicker than water. Once a son, always a son.

    No matter who you are, the shock of losing a child was not a small one.

    ShangGuan JinHong looked slightly uneasy. His cold emotionless appearance was gradually fading.

    The sympathy in Li XunHuan's eyes was like a sledgehammer, slowly chipping away at ShangGuan Jing Hong's iron mask.

    He couldn't bear it any longer and suddenly shouted, "The confrontation between you and I is inevitable."

    Li XunHuan nodded in agreement and said, "It is inevitable."

    "Today ..." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    End of Chapter 68

  11. #71
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 69 - A True Gentleman
    Because ShangGuan JingHon's only son had been killed, he was swept with uncontrollable rage. He wanted to fight Li XunHuan to the death. And he wanted to do so today ...

    Li XunHuan cut off ShangGuan JinHong before he could finish and said, "If you want to duel to the death, I would gladly accept at any time. Except for today."

    "Why?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    "Today ... I only want to drink today." Li XunHuan answered sullenly.

    His eyes looked at the corpse inside the coffin, and said, "There are certain times that are just not suitable for fighting, that are just not suitable for doing anything, except perhaps for drinking. Todays is one of those times."

    His words were very moving. Perhaps everyone else just didn't understand.

    But ShangGuan JinHong understood him perfectly.

    Because he understood perfectly well how he himself was feeling. Because with such a burden on his mind, to duel now would be like fighting with one hand tied.

    He would be surrendering a huge advantage to his opponent!

    Li XunHuan could have used this opportunity to his advantage but he didn't, even though he knew that opportunities like this were extremely rare. Perhaps, there would never be another opportunity such as this!

    ShangGuan JinHong fell silent for a while before asking, "Then, when is a good time?"

    "I've already said, anytime you wish." Li XunHuan replied.

    "Where shall I go to find for you." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "You don't have to look. Just give the word and I will be there." Li XunHuan responded.

    "When I give the word, you will hear me." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "When Chief ShangGuan speaks, the whole world listens. It won't be very hard to hear you." Li XunHuan said with a laugh.

    ShangGuan JinHong was silent again. He finally spoke again, "If you want to drink, there is wine here."

    "I'm worthy of drinking this wine?" Li XunHuan said with a laugh.

    "If you aren't worthy, then there isn't a person in the world who is." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    He turned around and poured two large cups of wine, and said, "This cup, I drink to you."

    Li XunHuan downed the cup in a single gulp. A large smile lit up across his face as he exclaimed, "Excellent wine! A delightful cup of wine!"

    ShangGuan JinHong's cup was empty now as well. He stared into the cup and said, "This is my first cup of wine in twenty years."

    *PENG*, the cup shattered as it hit the floor.

    ShangGuan JinHong walked over to the coffin, lifted up his son's body, and made his way out.

    Li XunHuan watched silently as he walked out of the door. He let out a long sigh as he said to himself, "Although, only ShangGuan JinHong can be ShangGuan JinHong, but why can't he also be a friend?"

    He poured another cup of wine, finished it, then shouted, "The lover of a gentleman, why must she betray his intentions?"

    *PENG* his cup fell to the floor and shattered as well!

    Everyone in the room already looked like they were made of wood. As soon as Li XunHuan walked out of the door, they all let out a huge sigh of relief.

    Some of them were quietly talking amongst each other.

    "Li XunHuan really is Li XunHuan. In the entire world, I think only he can get ShangGuan JinHong to toast to him."

    "It is a pity that the two of them didn't attack."

    "For some reason I feel that these two people are somewhat similar."

    "Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong similar? ... Are you crazy?"

    "Although their auras and actions are completely different, the two of them ... the two of them both aren't human. The things that they do, humans are just not capable of doing."

    "Yes, there is some sense in your words, the two of them really are inhuman, except ... one of them is a saint, while the other one is a demon."

    The line between kindness and evil is thin, the difference between a saint and a demon lies in between.

    "Right, if Li XunHuan was not Li XunHuan, then he could very well be ShangGuan JinHong."


    Ah Fei did not turn around.

    Lin XianEr moved her chair and sat directly behind him, blocking the path to the door.

    She sat for quite some time.

    Ah Fei's posture stayed exactly the same.

    The way he was standing looked somewhat funny.

    Lin XianEr giggled and said, "Isn't it a little painful standing up like that? Why not sit down and relax. There is a chair right next to me."

    "You're not willing to sit? I knew you wouldn't be able to sit down here, it just isn't your taste."

    "Then why don't you leave?"

    "Although I'm blocking the door, you can always knock me aside. If not, there is a window over there. You can jump out like a little thief."

    "You're afraid, aren't you? I know that although you want me dead, you wouldn't dare to lift a finger. You're scared to even bump into me. Because in your heart, you know that you're still in love with me. Isn't that correct?"

    Her voice was as gentle and caring as ever.

    Her laugh sounded even more charming and sweeter than before.

    Because she loved to see people suffer, she wanted every single person to suffer from her.

    It is a pity that the only people who suffer are those who love her.

    Although she couldn't see the look of pain on Ah Fei's face, she could clearly see the veins on the back of his neck tense as if they were about to explode.

    To her, this was one type of enjoyment, so she sat comfortably and watched. She even felt like pouring herself a cup of wine.

    Suddenly, the chair was kicked over and she fell with it!

    ShangGuan JinHong had returned with his son in his arms!

    When the chair you're sitting on is kicked out from under, your heart feels like its been flipped over.

    But Lin XianEr didn't say a word and didn't move a muscle. She knew that no matter what she did now, she would still look foolish.

    ShangGuan JinHong was staring at Ah Fei's neck as well.

    "Turn your head around and see who this person is!" he said.

    Ah Fei still didn't move. But the veins on his neck were almost jumping out of his skin. Finally, he slowly turned his head around and looked at the person in ShangGuan JinHong's arms.

    Now his eyes looked like they were about to jump too.

    "You recognize him, don't you?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei nodded his head.

    "He was alive several days ago, very much alive, am I correct?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    Ah Fei nodded his head again.

    "And now that you see him dead before you, you aren't startled a bit, because you he was dead already, didn't you?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Ah Fei paused for a while, then said, "Correct, I already knew that he was dead."

    "How did you know this?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Because the person who killed him, is me." Ah Fei replied.

    He said this sentence extremely casually. His eyes didn't even blink once. As if he had no idea the terrible consequences that those words could bring.

    The girls inside the house were scared stiff.

    Even Lin XianEr jumped a bit from the shock. In that instant, she felt a strange sensation in her heart. It almost seemed like sadness, like sympathy.

    She had no idea why she would feel those things for Ah Fei.

    But she knew that once ShangGuan JinHong made a move, Ah Fei would definitely not be spared.

    ShangGuan JinHong could strike out at any moment.

    She saw the look in Ah Fei's eyes, it was the same look as that of a dead person.

    An extremely foolish dead person.

    "Not only was this person extremely foolish, he also must be incredibly drunk. Why else would someone admit to something like that? He is totally hopeless, why should I care whether he lives or dies?"

    She turned away and stopped looking at him.

    She hoped that ShangGuan JinHong would kill him quickly, the faster the better, so it would stop bothering her.

    But she didn't dare ask herself, "If I really didn't care about his life, then is something like this bothering me?"

    ShangGuan JinHong still didn't make a move.

    He was still staring intently into Ah Fei's eyes. As if he was trying to figure something out that he didn't understand.

    But he couldn't see anything.

    Ah Fei's eyes were completely empty.

    These were not the eyes of a living person.

    ShangGuan JinHong suddenly realized that the look in his eyes were somewhat familiar, like he had seen them before.

    He had definitely seen them before.

    When he took Jing WuMing's sword away and gave it to Ah Fei, Jing WuMing had the exact same look in his eyes.

    When he took a person's life, the empty look in their eyes was exactly the same - completely void of feelings, completely void of life, completely oblivious to everything.

    Ah Fei was waiting, silently waiting.

    "You're waiting to die?" ShangGuan JinHong suddenly asked.

    Ah Fei did not respond.

    "You admitted to killing him only because you hoped that I would kill you, didn't you?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

    Ah Fei did not respond.

    A vicious smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face, and he said, "Taskmaster Lu."

    After he said those words, another person suddenly appeared.

    No one knew that this person had been hiding here the entire time. Nor did anyone know whether anyone else could be hiding here as well. No one would have guessed that this person would be hiding this close to ShangGuan JinHong. Because if that was the case, then there would be countless people hiding here as well.

    A person who no one else could see, this was a ghost.

    Wherever ShangGuan JinHong went, this ghost would be following close behind.

    His order was like an incantation. Only he could summon this ghost!

    If Taskmaster Lu really was a ghost, he was definitely not a starving ghost.

    Starving ghosts were never this obese.

    He almost looked like a round ball, but his movements were agile. Out of nowhere he rolled out and said, "Your subordinate is here."

    ShangGuan JinHong was still staring at Ah Fei.

    "He wants to die, we won't let him." ShangGuan JinHong said slowly.

    "Understood!" Taskmaster Lu replied.

    "We will give him something else." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Understood!" Taskmaster Lu replied.

    "We will give him wine, we will give him women. The more he wants, the more we will give him." ShangGuan JinHong said.

    "Understood!" Taskmaster Lu replied.

    ShangGuan JinHong paused for a moment then continued, "No matter what he wants, we will give it to him!"

    "Understood!" Taskmaster Lu replied.

    He answered each time without thinking. His eyes suddenly wandered to Lin XianEr and he asked, "No matter who?"

    "No matter who he wants, even if its an old lady, if he wants it, then give it to him!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

    Taskmaster Lu smiled and said, "I understand now. I will go and bring an old lady for him immediately."

    Lin XianEr bit down on her lips very hard. She finally couldn't hold it in anymore and said, "And what if he wants me?"

    "I already said, anyone he wants." ShangGuan JinHong answered coldly.

    "But ... but I am different, I am yours, besides you, no one may ..."

    She walked over to ShangGuan JinHong's side with a smile on her lips.

    Her smile was particular sweet, her movements were extremely enticing.

    ShangGuan JinHong didn't even cast an eye on her. He suddenly slapped her across the face, and said, "Anyone can have you, why can't he?"

    Lin XianEr's entire body was knocked back by his slap and she tumbled out into the courtyard.

    "The reason I want to give him anything he wants is because I don't want to let him leave. I want to see what he is like in three months." ShangGUan JinHong said.

    "Understood!" Taskmaster Lu replied.

    ShangGuan JinHong turned around and walked out.

    Ah Fei bit down extremely hard and grinded his teeth.

    "I killed your son, why haven't you killed me yet?" he said in a husky voice.

    ShangGuan JinHong had already walked out the door. He didn't turn his head around and said coldly, "Because I want you to live in pain. So that you won't even have the courage to die!"

    "Anyone can have you, why can't he?"

    "To live in pain, so that you won't even have the courage to die!"

    Ah Fei curled up, curled up into a ball, as if he was trying to avoid an invisible whip.

    That whip was unceasingly snapping at him.

    Taskmaster Lu walked up to him grinning and said, "When your cup in life is empty, why bother holding it up to the moon? This is just how life is, no need to take it to heart."

    He turned to the group of girls with a grimacing face and shouted, "Why don't you pour the young master some wine?"

    This person had one face when he was talking with ShangGuan JinHong and another face when he was talking to Ah Fei.

    Now as he spoke to the group of girls he had on yet another face.

    Most people in this world have many different faces. When they want to switch faces, its like switching masks in a theatre. Its probably even easier than switching masks.

    The more they switched, the faster they forgot what they really looked like in the first place.

    The longer they kept their masks on, the harder it was to ever take them off.

    Because they figured the more masks they have, the less disappointments they had to face up to.

    But fortunately there are also those who don't have any masks, they have only one face, their own!

    No matter what situations arise, no matter what failures occur along the way, their face will never change!

    When they want to cry, they'll cry. When they want to laugh, they'll laugh. When they want to live, they'll live. And when they want to die, they'll die!

    Even in the face of death, they would never compromise who they were!

    That is the nature of a true man!

    If these kind of people didn't exist, then life would really be nothing but one huge disappointment.

    And who knows what would become of the world then.

    The wine has arrived.

    Taskmaster Lu poured a cup and said, "Drink up! The more wine you drink, the more you'll realize that all the women in this world are the same. No need to take them so seriously."

    Ah Fei bit down on his teeth and said, "They're all not the same."

    "Then who do you want?" Taskmaster Lu said with a laugh.

    Ah Fei's eyes lit up with anger as he slowly said, "I want your wife!"



    The night market.

    The night market is always full of life. You are bound to meet all sorts of different people here.

    But Li XunHuan felt as if he was the last person left in the world. That not another soul existed.

    Because the people he cared for had become distant, very distant. They had changed into people he no longer even recognized, almost unreal, such that he didn't feel that they existed anymore.

    He had already heard that Long Xiao4Yun and his son had disappeared from sight for quite some time, but ...

    What about Lin ShiYin?

    Without a trace, without a single word. All that remains is longing, forever persistent memories.

    "Even until the very end of time, Some wounds still refuse to heal."

    Although the meaning behind these two lines of poetry are quite simple, the emotions and feelings that they encompass are deeper than the ocean.

    But except for those who have actually have felt such a thing, would anyone know just how bitter and painful that feeling tastes?

    In the distance the sounds of a flute accompany a sorrowful song.

    The lonely flute seems to be talking to the night sky.

    "Why are we so passionate?

    Why are we so love stricken?

    When flowers are passionate, they wither and die.

    When people are love stricken, they become emaciated ...

    He is at the edge of existence, why wouldn't he be emaciated?

    A man and his golden jar of wine, why wouldn't he be inebriated?

    The drunken eye watches in opposition as others become pairs.

    But it surpasses memories of tears in a dark and lonely place ..."

    "That flute player is lonely enough by himself, why must he peddle his tears and sadness to others as well?"

    Li XunHuan downed his cup of wine in a single gulp. He suddenly started to strike a beat on the cup with his chopsticks and softly sang.

    "Flowers raised without emotion,

    Sooner or later will still wither and die,

    People without passion, will still end up tired and emaciated,

    Without love,

    Where would life find its flavor?

    Memories of tears in a dark and lonely place, are still better than not being able to shed tears at all."

    The sounds of the flute slowly started to dwindle. Suddenly the sounds of laughter emerged.

    And just what kind of flavor did this laughter have?

    What about Ah Fei?

    For half the day Li XunHuan had been tirelessly searching, scouring for news.

    But no one knew where he ran off to, no one had ever seen such a person.

    Li XunHuan had no idea that Ah Fei had wound up at the headquarters of the Gold Currency Union.

    But even if he did know, he would have had no idea where such a place was.

    Lanterns are swaying in the wind. Wine is wavering in his cup.

    Thick and murky wine. Dark and gloomy lanterns.

    He was drinking at a small noodle stand.

    The entire street was filled with small stands. The people who came here were all normal people. No one recognized him and he didn't recognize anyone else.

    He enjoyed this kind of atmosphere. Although it was dreary and desolate, he felt that it was a nice escape.

    Success and failure in the world, happiness and sadness in life, these things meant nothing to the people here. As long as there was a cup of wine, that was more than enough.

    In a place such as this, there was no such thing as amorous laughter, nor were there regretful songs of grief.

    The night is this peaceful, the night is this tasteless ...

    Suddenly, this quiet stillness was disturbed.

    Someone is shouting and cursing.

    "No good drunkard! You're shameless! Drinking without paying! Even if that wine's already down your throat I want you to cough it all up!"

    Li XunHuan couldn't help but turn around.

    He turned around so quickly only because he heard the words 'drunkard'.

    He saw a person clinging on to a jug of wine. Even though he had been beaten to the floor, that person seemingly cared not for his life but only for taking another sip from the jar.

    An old man with a grease cloth wrapped around his waist kept shouting and cursing as his hands kept beating down on the drunkard.

    Li XunHuan let out a sigh as he walked over, and said, "Let him drink, I'll pay for it."

    The cursing stopped, the beating stopped as well.

    Money can tie a person's hands and money can seal a person's mouth.

    The person on the floor could barely stand up. He raised the wine to his mouth and poured as his head and body was totally drenched. But he seemed not to care one bit.

    He looked like he was trying to drown himself in alcohol.

    "If it weren't for some sad memories, how could a person end up like this?"

    "If that person was not passionate, how would sad memories come to be?"

    Li XunHuan suddenly felt very sympathetic and said, "It is very unappetizing to eat alone, I still have some dishes and wine at my table over there. How would you like to come over and join me?"

    That person finished another gulp of wine, suddenly jumped to his feet and shouted, "Who do you think you are? You think you're worthy of drinking with me? Even if you bought me another three hundred cases of wine, I still wouldn't drink with you ..."

    At this point that person's scolding stopped and his two hands suddenly wrapped around his own neck.

    Li XunHuan appeared a little bit shocked and said, "You ... it's you?"

    That person suddenly smashed the jar onto the floor, turned around and fled.

    Li XunHuan ran after him, "Wait a moment, wait a moment, friend, you don't recognize me at all?"

    The person ran even faster, "I don't recognize you, and I don't want to drink your wine ..."

    The two of them, one chasing, one fleeing, in the blink of an eye, had ran out of sight.

    Anyone who saw this would think that there was something wrong with them.

    "That person who was stealing wine turns out to be crazy. Even knowing that he would be beaten he still comes to drink. Then, when someone offers to pay for his wine, he turns and flees."

    "The person who was offering to buy him wine is crazy as well. Even after his money has been taken, and he is being scolded and cursed at, he still calls the drunkard a friend. This kind of person I've never seen before."

    Of course he has never seen this kind of person before, because there are very few in this world.

    Who was the person running away?

    Why did he start running as soon as he saw Li XunHuan?

    Other people obviously would not know the reason. But Li XunHuan himself would have never imagined that in a place like this, in a surrounding such as this, that he would run into that person.

    The first time Li XunHuan saw this person was under the balcony of a house on a long street. There were a lot of people on this street.

    His clothes were as white as snow. Among the multitude of people, he was like a crane among chickens.

    Even if all the gold in the world were piled up in front of his face, he would not be willing to say a single word to those whom he despised.

    But now, for a measly bottle of wine, he not only endured other people's ridicule and insults, but also was beaten like a pig upon the muddy ground.

    Li XunHuan couldn't believe that these two were the same person. He simply didn't want to believe.

    But he couldn't deny the truth.

    The person who laid sprawled in mud in front of him was none other than the once high and mighty Lu FengXian!

    What had caused such a change? Such a quick, drastic, and frightening change!

    The street lights faded into the distance as the stars seemed to be getting closer.

    Lu FengXian suddenly stopped running.

    Because he was in the same position as Ah Fei, the only person he was running from was himself.

    There are a lot of people who try to run away from themselves in this world, but not a single one has ever escaped!

    Li XunHuan stopped a good distance behind him. He bent over and started to cough. He noticed that he wasn't coughing as frequently but when his cough did arise, he had a hard time making it stop.

    Isn't it the same case for lovesickness?

    When you reminisce less and less about someone, it doesn't mean that you've forgotten them. It only means that these memories have become ingrained into you.

    When Li XunHuan finished coughing, Lu FengXian asked him, "Why didn't you let me run away?"

    He tried to gather his poise as he spoke, but was very successful.

    His voice trembled like a little rabbit after being plucked from a frozen river.

    Li XunHuan didn't respond, because he didn't want his words to hurt him.

    Because any response he gave would have hurt him.

    "I didn't owe you anything, and didn't have to do anything for you, why did you have to force me?" Lu FengXian asked.

    Li XunHuan finally let out a long sigh and said, "I am the one who is indebted to you."

    "Even if so, I don't need you to repay me." Lu FengXian said.

    "There is no way for me to repay what I owe to you, but at least you can let me buy you a cup of wine." Li XunHuan said.

    Lu FengXian let out a slight laugh and said, "I haven't forgotten, you've asked me before."

    Lu FengXian's hand kept shaking, shaking so much that he couldn't even hold his cup steady.

    He held the cup with two hands but still couldn't stop the wine from spilling from the bowl and from his mouth.

    Only several days ago, this pair of hands were lethal killing weapons!

    No matter what had happened to cause such a change, the shock that it caused him was just frightening.

    Li XunHuan couldn't imagine what it could it be.

    Lu FengXian reached out and poured more wine.

    *PENG*, his hand accidentally knocked over the jar.

    His eyes turned and stared at his hand, for a good while he didn't blink once. Then he suddenly let out a roar and shoved his hand into his mouth.

    He kept shoving and he kept biting.

    Blood spilled out from the corners of his mouth.

    Li XunHuan originally didn't want to stop him from whatever he did. But now he couldn't help but try to pull his hand from his mouth.

    Lu FengXian shouted madly, "Let go of me, I want to bite if off, bite it off with my own mouth, and swallow it whole."

    This hand was once his most proud and precious possession. But when a person is stricken with grief, they always want to destroy that which is most precious to them.

    Because the only way to lessen the pain is by destruction!

    Thorough destruction!

    "If someone has wronged you, the person who should die is them. Why are you torturing yourself for?" Li XunHuan said sullenly.

    "I'm the one who deserves to die, I'm the one ..." Lu FengXian shouted.

    He tried with all his might to push away Li XunHaun's hand, but ended up falling off his chair and onto the ground.

    He didn't try to get back up. He just laid on the floor and started to cry.

    He finally told his entire story to Li XunHuan.

    The story he heard in his ears was his story, the person he saw in his eyes was Lu FengXian, but the one who came to his mind was Ah Fei!

    Li XunHuan's heart suddenly turned cold.

    Did Ah Fei suffer the same kind of shock?

    Did Ah Fei change and end up the same way?

    Li XunHuan had planned not to say anything more to Lu FengXian, but suddenly he couldn't help but utter, "Why do you still stay in this place for?"

    "If I don't stay here, where else would I go?" Lu FengXian answered.

    "Go back, back to your family." Li XunHuan said.

    "Family ..." Lu FengXian said.

    "It's like you're living through an illness right now, and there is only two cures for this illness." Li XunHuan said.

    "Two cures." Lu FengXian said.

    "The first is family, the second is time. As long as you return home ..." Li XunHuan said.

    "I won't return home." Lu FengXian said.

    "Why?" Li XunHuan asked.

    "Because ... because it's no longer my home anymore." Lu FengXian replied.

    "Family is family, that can never change. That's why family is so valuable." Li XunHuan said.

    "Even if family never changes, I have changed. I am no longer who I once was." Lu FengXian said.

    "If you're willing to stay at home and rest peacefully for some time, you'll definitely be able to return to who you once were." Li XunHuan said.

    He wanted to continue, but someone behind him interrupted and said, "And for those who have no family, is this illness uncurable then?"

    End of Chapter 69

  12. #72
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 70 - The Venomous Heart of a Woman
    A sweet and gentle voice that could urge people to murder.

    Li XunHuan didn't turn around. Lu FengXian abruptly stood up and ran out in a fit of madness.

    It was like he had just seen a ghost.

    Li XunHuan didn't need to turn around to figure out who it was.

    He already understood the meaning behind what the person just said.

    "Ah Fei is the one who has no family."

    Li XunHuan's heart sank. He clenched his fist and said, "I would have never imagined that I would run into you here, that you would come to such a place."

    That person was obviously Lin XianEr.

    She laughed and said, "I don't usually come to a place like this, but I knew that I would be able to find you here. In order to find you, I'd be willing to go anywhere."

    "You shouldn't have come looking for me, because now you're going to regret it!" Li XunHuan said coldly.

    "Regret it? Why would I? We are old friends. Since I knew you were around, how could I not stop by to see how you were doing?" Lin XianEr said.

    Her voice became more alluring as she continued, "You should know that all this time I've always thought about you."

    "And you should know that I'm aware of how you treated Lu FengXian and Ah Fei." Li XunHuan answered.

    He didn't continue on.

    He never liked to make threatening remarks. Because he felt that he never had to.

    "So if I threw away Ah Fei like I threw away Lu FengXian, what will you do, kill me?" Lin XianEr said.

    "You understand what I mean." Li XunHuan said.

    "All I know is that you've always tried to convice him to let go of me. Since I've let go of him first, haven't I done you a favor?" Lin XianEr said.

    "It's not the same." Li XunHuan said.

    "How is it any different?" Lin XianEr said.

    "I only wanted you to leave him, I never wanted you to destroy him." Li XunHuan said.

    "And what if I've already destroyed him?" Lin XianEr said.

    Li XunHuan turned around and stared into her eyes and said, "Then you will definitely regret coming here today."

    His expression was still very serene. But for some reason Lin XianEr felt an incredible pressure being forced down upon her such that she couldn't even let out a smile.

    It was very rare for her to not be able to smile.

    Her smile was always one of her most formidable weapons. Except for the time when she encountered ShangGuan JinHong, this was the only other instance when her smile was totally ineffective.

    She felt exactly the same now that Li XunHuan was in front of her. When a person's confidence is completely sapped, then it will show in that their smile.

    After a long while, she slowly started to shake her head and said, "I know that you won't do anything to me."

    "You're that certain?" Li XunHuan said.

    "Yes." Li XianEr said.

    "Not even I'm that certain, sometimes I do things that even I would never imagine myself doing." Li XunHuan said.

    "But if you're really going to make me regret it, you're going to regret it even more." Lin XianEr said.

    "How so?" Li XunHuan said.

    "If you ever want to see Ah Fei again ..." Lin XianEr said.

    "You know where he is?" Li XunHuan said excitedly.

    "Of course I know." Lin XianEr said.

    Lin XianEr started to regain her smile again as she spoke, "I'm afraid that I am the only person in this world who can lead you to him. I'm also the only person who can save him ... since I can destroy him, I can obviously save him as well!"

    Li XunHuan's expression changed.

    Because he realized that she wasn't lying this time.

    Lin XianEr can be a very scary person when she lied, but she was ever scarier when she told the truth. Because for someone like her, to get her to speak the truth, the price you had to pay was definitely going to be high.

    Li XunHuan started to rub his fingers together because his fingertips suddenly started to feel cold. Finally he asked her, "Fine, what do you want?"

    Lin XianEr just stared at him and didn't say a word.

    "Just what exactly do you want?" Li XunHuan said.

    Lin XianEr smiled and said, "There used to be a lot of things that I wanted in this world ... but now, all I want is to stare at you for a little longer."

    She bit on her lips and continued with a smile, "Because I've never seen you angry before. I've always wondered what Li XunHuan would look like when he became angy. And since this moment is before me now, I simply can't let it slip away."

    Li XunHuan fell silent for a while and sat down. He pulled one of the candles on the table towards his face and then poured himself a cup of wine.

    Since she wanted to see, he would let her see. He wanted to make sure that she saw nice and clearly as well.

    "When women want something, its best to let them have it. They'll soon realize that what they wanted isn't really as spectacular as they had in mind."

    "Because a woman's interest in a particular thing can never last very long. But if you were to deny her what she wanted, then that would just increase her interest even more."

    This is one of the problems that women have. Thousands of years ago they had this problem. Thousands of years later, they will still have this problem.

    But the strange thing is, over these many years, only very few men have understood this problem that women have.

    Li XunHuan sat there slowly sipping his wine.

    Lin XianEr smiled at him and said, "You're a really strange person. Not only are your words strange, and your actions strange, even the way you drink is strange. Every time that I see you drinking wine, I suddenly want to become the cup in your hands. Because I am dying to know if you treat women as gently as you treat the wine cup in your hands."

    Li XUnHuan only listened.

    "Actually, the way you deal with women is even more strange, you always seem to know what they're thinking, and you always do exactly what they hope you to do ... even at times when you do nothing, they still manage to fall for your bait." Lin XianEr said.

    She sighed and continued, "So even with the most venomous women, once they encounter you, there is no way they'll ever escape."

    Li XunHuan still sat there listening.

    "Everytime I run into you, I always feel that it has been an interesting day. But afterwards when I carefully think about it, I realize that I've been had, that you haven't said a single word." Lin XianEr said.

    Sometimes the people who are most capable at talking are those who don't talk at all.

    It is a pity that not many people understand this either.

    "But this time I'm not going to fall for it, this time I want to hear you speak." Lin XianEr said.

    "Once you're done staring at me, then I'll talk." Li XunHuan said.

    "I've already seen enough." Lin XianEr said.

    "Then, what else do you want?" Li XunHuan asked.

    Lin XianEr stared intently at him. If her eyes had teeth and a mouth, she would have swallowed him whole by now.

    When a woman such as her is staring at you, although very enjoyable, there is something very intolerable about it. Its as if she was purposely trying to drive you crazy.

    Only Li XunHuan could endure something like this.

    "I don't want anything at all, I only want you!" Lin XianEr said.

    "You want me?" Li XunHuan said.

    "Giving yourself in exchange for Ah Fei, don't you think that is fair?" Lin XianEr said.

    "No." Li XunHuan said.

    "What's so unfair about it? You don't think that he's mine anymore?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Yes, since you've already crushed him ... " Li XunHuan said.

    "It's because I've crushed his heart, that he will be mine forever. But if I go and save him, then he will no longer be mine anymore." Lin XianEr said.

    Of course Li XunHuan understood this. Its because he understood this that he is in pain.

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "So if you want me to go and rescue him, you'll have to replace him with yourself. If you won't agree to this, then you can forget about ever seeing him again."

    Li XunHuan slowly finished his wine before walking up to her and said, "Looks like all I can do is agree, am I right?"

    Lin XianEr laughed even more seductively and said, "I promise that you won't regret this ..."

    Her voice suddenly stopped.

    Li XunHuan's hand slapped her right across the face.

    But now only did she not avoid it, she let out a seductive whimper and fell into his chest and panted.

    "If you want to hit me, then hit me. As long as you agree, I'll willingly let you hit me every day and every night."

    Suddenly someone clapped their hands and said, "Very well. Since she said that, then why don't you hit her once more?"

    End of Chapter 70
    Last edited by Mojo Jojo; 03-15-05 at 08:57 AM.

  13. #73
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 71 - A Battle of Wits
    The lantern hanging from the awning of the noodle stand had already been stained black by candle smoke.

    Under the dim light stood a person with big eyes and long pigtails.

    "Miss Sun!" Li XunHuan exclaimed.

    "I've always hated seeing women being hit by men. But this time, I'm rather happy seeing such a thing." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I'm happy too, I enjoy being hit by him." Lin XianEr said.

    She hung onto Li XunHuan's arm and said with a smile, "If you're jealous, you can come over and have a cup of wine with us. Alcohol can relieve jealousy."

    Sun XiaoHong really walked over. She poured wine into Li XunHuan's cup and finished it in a single gulp.

    She stuck out her tongue, knitted her brow and said with a smile, "Although cheap wine is really indistinguishable from good wine if you drink a lot, the first gulp is really hard to swallow."

    Lin XianEr smiled and replied, "The next time Miss Sun visits our house, we'll treat her to the best wine we have!"

    She smiled at Li XunHuan and asked, "Isn't that correct?"

    Before Li XunHuan could answer, Sun XiaoHong said, "Your smile is really beautiful. Even though I'm a woman, I just can't help but keep staring."

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "Little girl, you're not a woman yet. You're still just a little child."

    "You might as well laugh it up now, because very soon you won't be able to laught at all." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Hmm?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Because there is no way that he will promise anything to you." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Hmm?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Because anything that you are capable of, I can do the same." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "And what can you do? Little children will be little children. Even though they don't understand anything, they act like they know it all."

    Lin XianEr giggled as she continued, "There are some things that you can do as long as you're a woman, but whether you do it well or not depends on the person ... do you understand what I mean?"

    Sun XiaoHong blushed slightly, bit her lips and said, "What I can do is take him to Ah Fei."

    "You know where he is?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Of course, and I know how to save Ah Fei as well" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Hmm?" Lin XianEr said.

    "In order to save him, there's only one way." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And what is that?" Lin XianEr said.

    "By killing you! In order to save him, then we have to kill you. As long as you no longer exist in this world, then he will be freed from his pain and suffering." Sun XiaoHong replied.

    Li XunHuan drank down another cup of wine, let out a big laugh and said, "Well said!"

    Lin XianEr let out a sigh and said, "I can't believe you're the same as Ah Fei. Don't you know that the words that come out of most women's mouths can't be trusted? You really believe that she can bring you to find Ah Fei?"

    "Even all the men who lie in this world raise women who are honest." Li XunHuan said.

    "That's right. Don't think that all the women in this world are like you." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Fine, then let me ask you. Where is Ah Fei right now?" Lin XianEr asked.

    "He is with my grandfather right now. My grandfather has already taken him away from ShangGuan JinHong's hands." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr laughed and looked at Li XunHuan and said, "And you believe this sort of lie? Who in the world could possibly rescue Ah Fei out of ShangGuan JinHong's hands?"

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "In this world, there is only one. And that is her grandfather, the Venerable Mr. Sun."

    Lin XianEr's expression changed, and said, "Fine, if that's the case, then I want to come along and see for myself."

    "That can't be done! He doesn't want to see you." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And anyway, we have no reason to let you live anymore." Sun XiaoHong added coldly.

    "You want me to die?" Lin XianEr said.

    "You should have been dead a long time ago." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "But have you thought about who could ever bear to kill me?" Lin XianEr said.

    "You think I can't find someone who will kill you?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "In this world, there's only one man who could bear to kill me. But even he wouldn't dare make a move." Lin XianEr said.

    Her eyes moved to Li XunHuan and said, "Because he knows that if he does kill me, Ah Fei will still hate him."

    "You seem to have forgotten that I'm neither a man nor do I care whether Ah Fei hates me or not." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr burst into laughter and said, "Little girl, don't tell me that this is going to be the location of a duel, and that you want to challenge me?"

    "You're totally correct." Sun XiaoHong said. "You can choose the place, but I will choose the time."

    "And when did you have in mind?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Right now." Sun XiaoHong replied.

    Men aren't the only ones who have duels, sometimes women have duels as well.

    But do women duel in the same manner that men do?

    "I've chosen a time, now you choose a place." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr seemed to think for a while and said, "No need to select the place, right here is fine, except ..."

    "Except for what?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "How will we compete in this duel?" Lin XianEr said.

    "A duel is a duel, how many other ways are there?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Of course there are many, there are scholarly duels, martial duels, weapon duels, lightness duels, poison duels, and so forth. And since we are women, the way in which we duel should be a little more refined and elegant." Lin XianEr said.

    "Then how do you propose that we duel?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You want me to decide how we duel as well?" Lin XianEr said.

    "She might suggest a poison duel." Li XunHuan suddenly said.

    Sun XiaoHong smiled at him and said, "A poison duel is not a problem, my seventh uncle is a master at using poison. His abilities are definitely not below that of the Five-Poisons Child. Except that he only uses poison to save people, never to kill people."

    "If he is able to use poison to save people, then his skills must be miraculous. Because using poison to cure people is definitely much harder than using it to kill." Lin XianEr said.

    Lin XianEr let out a sigh and said, "It looks like I really can't compete with you in using poison."

    "Choose whatever you want." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Since she seemed that confident in her skills, Li XunHuan didn't say another word. A student of the Venerable Mr. Sun's martial arts, he really wanted to witness her skills.

    Lin XianEr looked over at Li XunHuan, then said, "In front of master like Li TanHua, it'll be pointless for us to compete in martial arts. We'd only be making fools out of ourselves."

    "Then what do you suggest?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Since we are women, then we should compete as women do." Lin XianEr said.

    "There is a special way in which women compete?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Of course." Lin XianEr said.

    "What is it." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Men will always be physically stronger than women, but there are certain things women are much more capable in, that most men would struggle to do at all."

    "Such as?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "For example, having babies ..." Lin XianEr said.

    "Having babies?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Correct, having babies is every woman's specialty. It is also every woman's glory. Women who are incapable of giving birth are looked down upon by everyone, don't you agree?" Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong blushed again and said, "Don't tell me ... "

    "We can compete to see who can have more babies, and who is faster." Lin XianEr said.

    "You're crazy! How can we compete in such a way?" Sun XiaoHong shouted.

    "Who says we can't? You're not able to have babies or something?" Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong's entire face was red now. She could neither admit or deny it.

    "If you think that this will take too long, then we can think of something else." Lin XianEr said.

    "Of course we should compete in something else." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "There is something that all men are willing to do, that even the most able women would be hesitant in doing." Lin XianEr said.

    She let out a laugh and continued, "Since you don't want to compete in something in which all women can do, then how about we compete that only a few women dare to do?"

    "Let me hear what it is first." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "We can take off our clothes ... it'll be a contest to see who can strip entirely naked first. If I lose to you, I'll willingly give you my head." Lin XianEr said.

    They were in a night market. Although the people here usually didn't bother with other people's business, if there were two women taking off their clothes here, they would definitely not be able to keep away even if they wanted to.

    Sun XiaoHong, her face entirely red, bit her lips and said, "No wonder even the smartest men are afraid to gamble with women. Because of women like you that always find a way to weasel out of losing."

    "Taking advantage of men is every woman's right. Any woman who can't take advantage of men is either very stupid or very ugly." Lin XianEr said.

    "I'm not a man," Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And I never tried to take advantage of you. You're the one who said that I could choose how we competed." Lin XianEr.

    "But how would I have known that you would choose such shameless things?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Then you can only blame yourself. If you wanted to kill me, then why didn't you just attack? Who told you to have such a big mouth and suggest dueling this and competing that." Lin XianEr said.

    Lin XianEr laughed and continued, "But it's not your fault, I've rarely met any women who didn't have big mouths."

    So it turns dueling is much better suited for men.

    Because duels are settled with fists not words. The more one talks, the lower one's confidence and competitiveness drops.

    Whenever you see two people about to fight get into a shouting match before hand, most likely that fight will never happen.

    But there is a saying that gentlemen fight with their words and not their hands.

    The autumn wind is blowing, the evening sun setting in the west. Two women stand facing each other not saying a single word, waiting for some decision to be made concerning life and death.

    Who had ever seen a setting such as this?

    No one would have even heard of such a thing.

    "Women will be women."

    Although men and women are equal, there are some things in this world which women will never do.

    And when women try to do these things anyway, it will always be in vain.

    "Women will be women."

    No one can ever understand them.

    The smile on Lin XianEr's face was extremely cute and sweet.

    Seeing the smile on her face, Li XunHuan suddenly thought of Blue Scorpion.

    Although Blue Scorpion was somewhat looked down upon as a woman, there still was something extraordinary about her character.

    He suddenly felt that it was a pity that Blue Scorpion had died.

    Sun XiaoHong's blushed red face suddenly turned green.

    "We've set the time, place, and method for this duel. So whether you want to go ahead is all up to you." Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong shook her head.

    "Since you don't want to duel, then I'm going to leave." Lin XianEr said.

    "Just leave then." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She sighed and added, "Just blame it on your bad luck."

    "Do you mean your bad luck? Or my bad luck?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Yours." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr couldn't help but ask, "Why is my luck bad?"

    "Although the words coming out of my mouth are vicious, if I actually had to attack I don't think I would be as vicious. I never really intended on killing you, maybe just injuring you slightly to teach you a lesson." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr said, "Then don't you mean my luck is rather good then?"

    "If I had injured you, and another person came to kill you, then there's no way that I would let them, correct?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    She laughed and continued, "But if someone came to kill you now, then I wouldn't care a single bit."

    Before she was even finished, Lin XianEr had turned around.

    In certain situations, Lin XianEr's reaction time is not slower than Li XunHuan or Ah Fei.

    She looked all around her and in every direction and in every dark corner.

    But she didn't see anyone.

    Sun XiaoHong grabbed Li XunHuan's hand and said, "Let's go, I don't like watching people get killed."

    "You're saying someone is here to kill me?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Did I ever say that?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Where is the person, did you see them?" Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong didn't respond to her.

    Lin XianEr was starting to panic now and said, "I don't see anyone here at all."

    "Of course you don't see anyone. Once you see someone, it'll already be too late." Sun XiaoHong said coldly.

    "If I can't see them, then how come you can?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Because the person they want to kill isn't me." Sun XiaoHong replied.

    She smiled and continued, "Of course they wouldn't want to see you if they were trying to kill you. Because once they see you, they won't be able to kill you."

    "Who ... who are they?" Lin XianEr asked.

    "How should I know who is after you? You should know better than I do." Sun XiaoHong.

    Lin XianEr was still glancing around her in all four directions, her eyes starting to panic with fear.

    She rarely felt any fear.

    Because she always felt confident that she could convince any person trying to kill her to do

    But now she couldn't see her assailant, and her assailant didn't want to see her. Her only weapon had been taken away.

    "Don't tell me even you can't think of who is trying to kill you? Is it because that there are way too many people who want you dead?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr was in disarray and started wiping away her sweat.

    Her every action and her every movement was always seductive and enticing.

    But the way she was wiping her sweat right now looked very silly.

    When you try to frighten someone, the best way is to let them invoke fear in themselves. That way, without even moving a finger, you can scare them out of their minds.

    Li XunHuan looked at Sun XiaoHong and almost couldn't hold in his laughter.

    He suddenly realized that Sun XiaoHong was no longer a child. In every respect, she was now a mature woman.

    Only a mature woman can deal with another mature woman.

    End of Chapter 71

  14. #74
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 72 - Human Nature is Neither Good nor Evil

    Although neither of them had raised a single finger, Lin XianEr and Sun XiaoHong had already went through two exchanges.

    This was a battle of wits, not a battle of brawn.

    Lin XianEr had won the first exchange.

    Because she understood the weaknesses of women and she knew how to take advantage of them as well.

    In the second exchange, Sun XiaoHong was the victor.

    She won because of the very same reason.

    She knew that women are always suspicious, and suspicious of everything.

    Because this suspicion exists, fear will come to be.

    If Sun XiaoHong was a man, she would have just killed Lin XianEr.

    If Lin XianEr was a man, despite anything that Sun XiaoHong said, she would have left a long time ago.

    It is because the two of them are women that the situation had come to where it was at now.

    When men and women attempt to do the same thing, no matter what it is, their methods will always be different, and the results will always be different.

    The same case applies to duels.

    When women duel, it will never be as heavy, intense, or exciting as when men duel. But compared to men, their duels are far more subtle, complex, and interesting.

    Because there are bound to be many surprises and variations.

    The changes and variations in their duels are not like those in martial arts. In fact, compared to martial arts, they happen much faster and are much more complicated.

    It is a pity that their variations cannot be seen by the naked eye.

    If someone could actually see the subtle and complex variations in a women's mind, they would realize that duels among women are much more interesting than duels among men.

    Women will be women, they will always be different than men.

    Anyone who denies this is a fool.

    The idea is not only logical but simple as well.

    The strange thing is, there are still people in this world who don't comprehend this.

    Sun XiaoHong pulled Li XunHuan ahead.

    Lin XianEr followed them from behind.

    "We're going our way, you go yours, why are you following us for?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I ... I want to go see Ah Fei too." Lin XianEr said.

    "What do you still want to see him for? You still haven't hurt him enough?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I just want to ... " Lin XianEr said.

    "We won't let you see him, it's pointless for you to come." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I'll look at him from afar, whether he is willing to see me or not is up to him." Lin XianEr said.

    "The decision is yours, if you are really set on following us, there's nothing we can do. Except ... since you chose to follow us, just don't regret it later." Sun XiaoHong said coldly.

    "I never regret anything I do." Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong suddenly laughed and said, "Look, didn't I tell you that she would follow us, my guesses were exeactly correct."

    This was directed at Li XunHuan.

    "You wanted her to follow us all along." Li XunHuan said with a smile.

    "Of course." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Why?" Li XunHuan said.

    "I didn't have a way to deal with her before, all I can do is to wait for another chance. If she doesn't follow along with us, how will I have that chance?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You didn't have to wait, you should have just attacked her before. No matter what she said you could've ignored her." Li XunHuan said.

    "Men have a saying, 'A promise is worth thousands in gold', you think women can just break promises like they pass gas?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "But how did you know that she would follow us?" Li XunHuan said.

    "Because she wants our protection. She knows that by following Li TanHua, no matter who it is that wants to kill her would have to think twice." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Sun XiaoHong smiled and continued, "This is what they call, 'A fox pretending to be a tiger', or another way of saying it is 'dogs hiding behind humans'."

    "None of those two phrases sound very pleasant." Li XunHuan said.

    "If you chose to do something like this, no matter how bad it sounds, all you can do is listen." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Obviously Lin XianEr heard everything they said.

    Sun XiaoHong purposely ler her hear them.

    But Lin XianEr pretended to not have heard anything at all. She didn't say anything either.

    It was as if she suddenly went deaf and dumb.

    Pretending to be deaf and dumb is definitely not an easy thing to do.

    Sun XiaoHong suddenly changed the subject and said, "Do you know about what happened between Long Xiao4Yun and ShangGuan JinHong?"

    "I've heard about it ... you and your grandfather came because of that incident." Li XunHuan said.

    "Right, because we knew that we would be able to see a lot of people there." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She turned to look at Li XunHuan and said, "But most importantly, I knew that you would show up."

    Li XunHuan looked back at her. He suddenly felt a warmth in his heart, like he had just drank a cup of wine.

    He had never felt this way in a very long time.

    Sun XiaoHong felt like she was in paradise knowing that Li XunHuan was staring back into her eyes.

    After a while, Li XunHuan said, "If it weren't for you and you grandfather, I might've already ..."

    She cut him off and said, "ShangGuan JinHong would've ended up inside that casket."

    Li XunHuan let out a laugh and didn't continue on.

    He knew that sooner or later he would have to face ShangGuan JinHong, but he didn't like to talk about it.

    He didn't like to think about it too much, because if he did, he'd have worries, if he had worries, he'd be distracted, and his chances of winning would be very slim.

    "When dealing with people like ShangGuan JinHong, there's no need to be concerned with honor. If you had attacked him when he saw ShangGuan Fei's corpse, then you definitely could have killed him." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Not definitely." Li XunHuan said.

    "No? You don't think that he'd be distracted by seeing his own dead son?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Blood is thicker than water. ShangGuan JinHong definitely still has a shred of humanity in him." Li XunHuan said.

    "Then why didn't you make a move? You should know that he won't necessarily repay your honor and fairness." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Him and I already can't coexist in this world, of course there's no need for honor between the two of us." Li XunHuan said.

    "Then you ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan interrupted her with a laugh, "I didn't attack because I was still waiting for the right opportunity."

    "I think that was the best opportunity that you could ever want." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You're wrong." Li XunHuan said.

    "Huh?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Even though seeing your own son dead can be a great distraction, you will still feel a surge of incredible sadness and anger. If I had attacked, he would have released all that anger and sadness on me!" Li XUnHuan said.

    He sighed and continued, "When someone is in deep sadness, not only will their strength be greater than normal, their courage will be greater than normal as well. If ShangGuan JinHong would've struck at me then, I don't have confidence at all that I could have blocked his attack."

    Sun XiaoHong smiled at him and said, "So you're not as honorable as I had thought. You can even be quite schemy."

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "If I really was as noble and honorable as everyone thinks, I would've died at least eighty times already."

    "If ShangGuan JinHong knew of your intentions back then, he would've regretted drinking that cup of wine with you." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He would never regret it." Li XunHuan said.

    "Why?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because he understood my intentions perfectly well." Li XunHuan said.

    "Then why did he still drink to you?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He drank to me not because of honor or fairness, in his eyes honorable and just people are idiots." Li XunHuan said.

    "Then what was his reason?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because he understood my intentions, he knew that I wasn't an idiot." Li XunHuan said.

    "He knew that you were like him, in that you could wait, wait for the right chance, and wait for the perfect opportune moment. That's why he drank to you?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Yes." Li XunHuan said.

    "He felt that you two were the same kind of people, so he admired you. We admire most the people who resemble ourselves, because deep down inside, we admire ourselves the most." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Very well said. I'm amazed that you can understand something like this at your age." Li XunHuan said.

    "But are you and him really the same kind of person?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "In certain ways, yes we are. Its because we grew up in different environments, and we encountered different people and events, that we ended up as two different people." Li XunHuan said.

    He sighed and continued, "Some people say that human nature is good, others say that human nature is evil. I say that we aren't born good nor evil. Who we are and whether we are good or evil depends only on what we do in our lives."

    "It looks like you not only understand others very well, you understand yourself very well also." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "To fully understand oneself is not an easy thing to do at all." Li XunHuan said.

    His expression turned slightly gloomy and a glimmer of pain and sadness filled his eyes.

    Sun XiaoHong sighed and said, "If someone wants to truly understand themself, they must first go through a lot of sadness and suffering, don't they?"

    "That is correct." Li XunHuan said.

    "If that is the case, then I don't ever want to understand myself. The more I understand myself, the more pain I'd have to go through. If I didn't understand myself at all, then I'd be the happiest." Sun XiaoHong said.

    This time Li XunHuan was the one who changed the subject.

    "When ShangGuan JinHong toasted to me, you and your grandfather were still around?" Li XunHuan asked.

    "No we had already left. I heard about it from other people." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She smiled and continued, "You and ShangGuan JinHong are incredibly famous people now. Your every move and action is considered big news. In this city alone, I bet there are about a hundred thousand people discussing you right now, would you believe me?"

    "This is why I admire your grandfather. His actions are like drifting clouds and his thoughts are like flowing water. He is free to do whatever he wishes and never has any worries to burden him. This type of person is truly incredible." Li XunHuan said.

    "He really can see past everything." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She changed the subject again and asked, "Do you know who sent that casket?"

    "I can't really guess who it is." Li XunHuan said.

    "Do you think it was the same person who killed ShangGuan Fei?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    She was aware of who had killed ShangGuan Fei.

    But Lin XianEr had no idea who this person was. She kept quiet the entire time but was attentively listening to their conversation, hoping that one of them would say the killer's name.

    "It is probably the same person, because only a few people knew where ShangGuan Fei's corpse was buried." Li XunHuan said.

    "Why do you think that person did this for ... ?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because that person wants to scare ShangGuan JinHong." Li XunHuan said.

    "That person hates ShangGuan JinHong too?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan fell silent for a while, then said, "It's possible that the person doesn't hate ShangGuan JinHong. The person probably only did so to come to ShangGuan JinHong's aid after he has fallen."

    "I don't understand, if the person wants to help ShangGuan JinHong, why scare him in the first place?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Or it could be that the person wants ShangGuan JinHong to regret his decision." Li XunHuan said.

    Sun XiaoHong sighed and said, "People's motivations are harder to comprehend than anything else in this world."

    "Right. People's minds and human nature are the two most complicated things in this world, much more complicated than even the most powerful martial arts." Li XunHuan said.

    He suddenly added, "But if you don't understand human nature, you can never reach the pinnacle of martial arts. Because everything is related to human nature in one way or another, even martial arts."

    These wise words were far too deep for Sun XiaoHong to really grasp.

    It wasn't clear whether she understood much of what he said, but she was quiet for some time, before finally saying, "I don't care if I can't understand anything at all, I only want to understand you."

    Her eyes were stuck on him. In her eyes were not only the looks of appreciation but also trust and faith, as if trying to tell him that he was the only person she could ever open her heart to.

    Li XunHuan suddenly felt his heart swell up with warmth again. He couldn't resist reaching out to caress her adorable face.

    But of course he didn't do such a thing.

    He just couldn't.

    He slowly turned his head away, and started coughing lightly.

    Sun XiaoHong was staring at him, waiting for a reply, but slowly seemed to lose the look of hope in her eyes. She said, "But it seems like you're scared of letting anyone understand you, so you're constantly trying to prevent it from happening."

    "Scared? Scared of what?" Li XunHuan said.

    "Scared of having someone else fall in love with you." Sun XiaoHong said. "Because anyone who truly understood you would not be able to help but fall in love with you. You would rather someone hate you than fall in love with you, isn't that right?"

    "The times have really changed. Young girls back then would never say the word 'love'." Li XunHuan said with a laugh.

    "And perhaps young girls now don't either. But I don't care what time period I was born into, whether its several hundred years ago or whatever. If I feel something in my heart, I won't restrain myself from saying it with my mouth." Sun XiaoHong said.

    No matter what time period, there will always be people just like her.

    These people aren't afraid to speak, to act, to love, and to hate.

    Maybe because they are ahead of their time that everyone else thinks of them as a little bit crazy and a little bit strange.

    But they would never be bothered by it at all. No matter what anyone thinks of them, they would never take it to heart.

    It is a foggy night.

    Although it is still Winter, the foggy mist makes it look like Spring.

    Sun XiaoHong hoped that this foggy path would never end.

    Li XunHuan was originally very anxious to see Ah Fei, but now it didn't seem as urgent.

    These couple of years his mood had become very heavy, as if there were invisible shackles locking down on him, such that he couldn't even breathe.

    It was only the several days that he was with Sun XiaoHong that he felt at ease.

    He began to realize that she really understood him, much more than he could ever imagine.

    To be able to spend time with someone who truly understands you, these are definitely the times in our lives that we treasure the most.

    But Li XunHuan already wanted to run away.

    "You would rather someone hate you than fall in love with you, isn't that right?"

    Li XunHuan's heart started to ache.

    It wasn't that he would rather not, it was that he simply could not.

    Everyone has their own emotional barriers. No one can help them get over it except themselves.

    Such is the case for Li XunHuan. And such is the case for Ah Fei.

    Will those emotional barriers stay up forever? Will they carry those painful memories forver even into the grave?

    Sun XiaoHong suddenly stopped waling and said, "We are here."

    The road let to the middle of nowhere. There was a small hut at the side of the road. Lantern light shown through a small window from the inside.

    The light that shown through was exceptionally brilliant. Such a small house normally would never have such bright lanterns.

    Sun XiaoHong turned to Lin XianEr and said, "You recognize this place, right?"

    Of course she recognized this house, this was her and Ah Fei's 'home'.

    She bit her lip, nodded her head, and walked timidly down the road.

    "Ah Fei has returned here?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Do you still want to go inside and see him?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Can ... can I go in?" Lin XianEr said.

    "This was your house, if you wanted to go in, you don't need to ask anyone." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Lin XianEr lowered her head and said, "But now ..."

    "But now of course its not the same. You should know yourself whose fault it is that things are as they are now." Sun XiaoHong smiled coldly and continued, "You could have lived a peaceful and happy life here, but you weren't willing. This home wasn't good enough for you, and that person wasn't good enough for you."

    Lin XianEr hung her head and said, "I know now that I was wrong. The only reason I was able to survive was because he protected me for so long. If it weren't for him I would've been killed long ago."

    "Do you think he will still protect you like before?" Sun XiaoHong said coldly.

    Lin XianEr started tearing, and said, "I don't know, I wouldn't blame him ..."

    She raised her head and said boldly, "I only want to see him and say two things and then I'll leave. This isn't too much too ask, can you two promise me this?"

    "It's not that I don't want to promise you, its just that your words are very hard to trust." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "If I don't leave after my two sentences, you can chase me away." Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong fell silent, then looked At Li XunHuan.

    Li XunHuan had been standing quietly the whole time, with not a single expression on his face.

    But his mind was in total disarray.

    His biggest weakness was that he was always too forgiving. Although sometimes he is certain that he shouldn't give in, he can't help but feel sympathetic inside.

    A lot of people know of this weakness. And a lot of people take advantage of him because of this weakness.

    He even knows this himself, but for some reason he can't change.

    Even if someone wrongs him ten thousand times, he is still unwilling to do even one wrong thing back. Sometimes he even knows that a person is deceiving him, yet he still lets himself be deceived.

    Because he believes that if just once, someone is truthful to him, then his sacrifice will be worth it.

    Li XunHuan is that kind of a person. You can call him a true gentleman, or you can call him an idiot. At the very least you have to admit that he is one of a kind.

    At the very least, you should realize that he never has had any regrets.

    He rarely causes people to sweat, and rarely causes people to bleed. He would rather the sweat and blood be his own.

    But the things he does always causes people to shed tears.

    They are tears of admiration and tears of gratitude.

    Sun XiaoHong sighed on the inside.

    She knew that he couldn't bear to turn her down. He has probably never turned down anyone before in his life.

    "This is the last time I'll ever see him. If he finds out that you two won't even let me see him one last time, he'll hate you for the rest of his life." Lin XianEr said.

    Sun XiaoHong bit down on her lips and said, "You're only going to say two sentences to him? Once you're down you'll leave immediately?"

    "Would I really overstay my welcome? Would I really want you two to chase me out? Please just promise me this and I can die without any regrets." Lin XianEr said with a smile.

    Li XunHuan suddenly sighed and said, "Just let her in, two sentences can't harm him."

    End of Chapter 72

  15. #75
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 73 - Cage and Shackles

    It was very hot inside the house, unusually hot. Four pots of fire were burning furiously.

    The raging flames lit up the walls and the ceilings into a bright red.

    Ah Fei's face was red as well. His whole body was red.

    He was in between the four pots of fire. He was bare chested and wore only a pair of worn trousers.

    His trousers were drenched with water.

    He was sweating profusely and breathing heavily.

    His entire body looked exhausted and on the verge of collapse.

    A white-haired old man sat in one corner of the house puffing on his pipe.

    Streams of smoke puffed out from his nose as he filled that corner of the house with a hazy fog.

    He was indeed a peculiar person.

    No one knew from where he came, and no one knew to where he would go.

    In fact, nobody knows who he is exactly. Perhaps he is just a poor old story teller.

    Or perhaps, he really is the incomparable 'Sage of Heaven'!

    But no matter what, he is definitely the first thing that will catch your eye when you step foot into this house.

    Ah Fei's eyes were shut and he didn't notice the people that had entered.

    Sun XiaoHong looked shocked and exclaimed, "Grandpa, what are you doing?"

    Mr. Sun's eyes were still closed. He puffed on his pipe and a cloud of smoke came from his mouth.

    "I am steaming him." Mr. Sun replied.

    Sun XiaoHong's eyes opened wide and asked, "Steaming him? He isn't a bun or a crab, why are you steaming him for?"

    Ah Fei really looked like a crab that was being steamed alive.

    Mr. Sun smiled and said, "I'm steaming him because I'm trying to force the alcohol to evaporate from his body so that he can sober up."

    His eyes shifted to Li XunHuan as he continued, "I'm also trying to force the courage up from his blood so that he can become a whole new man again."

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "If that's the case, I think I have to take a turn at being steamed as well. But I'm afraid that if all the alcohol is steamed out of my body, I'll end up as an empty shell."

    "So besides wine, there's nothing else in that body of yours?" Mr. Sun said.

    Li XunHuan let out a sigh and said, "Perhaps, also a belly full of inopportunity."

    Mr. Sun laughed and said, "Well said! If that belly wasn't full of knowledge, how would such insightful words come out of your mouth."

    He suddenly stopped laughing and said, "Actually I've always wanted to steam you. I want to see what else is in that body of yours besides wine and knowledge. I want to know what Old Man Heaven used to create a person like you."

    "And then what?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And afterwards I want to gather up the entire world and stuff their stomachs full of whatever I find in there." Mr. Sun said.

    "So they'll all be a bit like him?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Not just a bit, the more the better." Mr. Sun said.

    "Then won't everyone in the world will be exactly like him." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And what's wrong with everyone in the world becoming exactly like him?" Mr. Sun said.

    "There would be something wrong." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And what's that?" Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong lowered her head and fell silent.

    This grandfather and granddaughter pair always spoke in a back and forth manner. One would ask, and the other would answer. Any other person would find it impossible to interrupt them.

    It was only now that Li XunHuan had an opportunity to speak.

    "Elder if you are suggesting that the entire world become exactly like me, I'm afraid that there's only one type of person who would agree." Li XunHuan said.

    "What type is that?" Mr. Sun said.

    "Wine vendors." Li XunHuan replied.

    Mr. Sun smiled and said, "The way I see it, there's only one type of person who wouldn't agree to this."

    "Who?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    But as soon as that word left her mouth she wanted to take it back.

    She already knew what her grandfather was going to say.

    Her grandfather smiled at her and said, "You."

    Sun XiaoHong's face blushed red as she lowered her head and said, "Why ... why wouldn't I agree?"

    "If everyone in the world was exactly like him, then you wouldn't know which one you would want." Mr. Sun said with a smile.

    Sun XiaoHong immediately turned around, trying to hide her face which was as red as fire.

    Was her heart also on fire?

    The spring flame of a young maiden. Mr. Sun let out a hearty laugh and began taking another puff from his pipe.

    He didn't seem to notice Lin XianEr in the room at all. Perhaps he was ignoring her because he didn't even glance at her once. He also didn't notice that his pipe had went out.

    The house suddenly fell silent. The only sound that could be heard was the crackling of the burning embers from the fire.

    Lin XianEr walked over in front of Ah Fei.

    Other than Ah Fei, she didn't look at anyone else.

    The raging fire reflected on her. Her face was half white and half red. When it was red she looked like a mischievous angel. When it glowed white she looked like a lonely ghost.

    People have two faces as well. At times we are beautiful and at times we are repulsive.

    Except in her case, she always remained beautiful.

    If she was an angel, she would undoubtedly be the prettiest angel in all the heavens. If she was a lonely spirit, she would definitely be the most beautiful ghost in the underworld.

    But Ah Fei had seemingly made up his mind. No matter who she was, he would never look at her again.

    Lin XianEr let out a sigh and said, "I came all the way here because I wanted to tell you two things. Whether you want to listen is up to you."

    Ah Fei didn't seem like he was listening at all.

    But why did it look like his entire body had frozen solid?

    "That day, I know I hurt you a lot, but there's nothing else that I could've done. I didn't want to see you die in ShangGuan JinHong's hands. It was the only way I that I could've convinced ShangGuan JinHong to spare your life." Lin XianEr said.

    Ah Fei still didn't look like he was listening.

    But why were his fists clenched?

    "I came here today not to beg of you to understand or to beg of you to forgive me. I already know that we're through ..." Lin XianEr said.

    She let out a long sigh before continuing, "I'm telling you this because I want your heart to feel at ease. All along I've wanted nothing more than for you to live on happily. But as for me ..."

    "You've said enough." Sun XiaoHong interrupted.

    Lin XianEr smiled bitterly and said, "You're right. I've said too much."

    She really didn't say another word. Lin XianEr turned around and started to walk out.

    She didn't walk fast but she didn't turn around either.

    Ah Fei was still silent, his eyes still shut tightly.

    Lin XianEr's eyes had turned towards the door.

    Li XunHuan held his breath.

    He knew that if Lin XianEr really did walk out that door, Ah Fei would never see her again.

    As long as Ah Fei never saw her again, he could start over.

    Lin XianEr understood very well herself that if she walked out of that door, she'd be walking out of the world.

    Her steps didn't slow down, but there was a slight hint of fear in her eyes. While it was as bright as day inside the house, it was a pitch black night outside of the door.

    Although the stars still shined brightly, she never bothered to look up at the night sky.

    She only adored the dizzying brightness of this material world.

    She adored praise, flattery, and applause. She enjoyed extravagance, excess, and luxury. She loved to be loved and she loved to be hated.

    She lived for these things only.

    Without these things, even if she did live on, it would be like a living grave.

    The darkness was drawing closer and closer.

    That look of fear in her eyes had slowly turned into resentment and hatred.

    At that moment, she wanted to kill every single person alive.

    But at that moment, Ah Fei suddenly stood up and said loudly, "Wait one second."

    "Wait one second!"

    Who knew that these three simple words could change many a life?

    At that moment, Lin XianEr completely changed as well.

    Her eyes filled with charm, confidence, and pride. She suddenly changed back into an incredible beauty.

    In fact, she had never been so beautiful before in her life.

    Pride and confidence is a woman's best makeup.

    A woman without pride and confidence, no matter how beautiful she is, still will not have that magnetic attractiveness to them.

    This is analogous to how women will always assume that as long as a man is successful then he will be attractive.

    Success is a man's best makeup.

    Lin XianEr stopped, she didn't turn her head but sighed lightly.

    Her sigh was extremely low, but it carried an extremely sad and distressful tone.

    One would never expect such a bittersweet sigh to come from her mouth, especially considering how magnificently beautiful she appeared right now.

    Li XunHuan's heart sunk.

    He knew that there was no music or sound in this world that was more effective than her sad helpess sigh in touching a man's heart. Not the sound of crumpling autumn leaves nor the sound of flowing rivers; not the desolate lyre under the bright moon nor the midnight flute singing to the wind was a match for her desperate whimper.

    He hoped that Ah Fei would look at him for a moment and hear him out.

    But Ah Fei's eyes were set on Lin XianEr, and his ears could only hear her voice.

    "I've finished saying what I had to say. I can't stay any longer." Lin XianEr said.

    "Why not?" Ah Fei said.

    "Because I made a promise that I would only say two sentences and then would leave immediately." Lin XianEr said.

    "You want to leave?" Ah Fei said.

    "Even if I didn't want to leave, someone will chase me out." Lin XianEr said.

    "Who? Who would chase you out?" Ah Fei said.

    His eyes suddenly lit up with strength as he proclaimed loudly, "Why are you letting anyone chase you out, this is your home."

    Lin XianEr turned around and looked straight at Ah Fei.

    There already were tears in her eyes, those eyes that were as soft and delicate as droplets of water.

    After a long while, she sighed again and said, "Is this still my home?"

    "Of course. As long as you are willing, this will be your home." Ah Fei said.

    Lin XianEr's feet started to move again. She seemed as if she was about to throw herself into Ah Fei's embrace, but suddenly stopped and said, "Of course I am willing, but I'm afraid others aren't."

    Ah Fei gritted his teeth and said, "Whoever objects can leave."

    He seemed like he was avoiding Li XunHuan's eyes and didn't care what anyone thought.

    Mr. Sun really did succeed in getting his blood to boil, forcing his courage back up. Not only that but he also steamed all the emotions in his heart right to the surface.

    When a person's body is at its weakest, emotions are at their most abundant.

    His eyes never left Lin XianEr as he said, "In this house, no one can chase you out, only you can chase others out."

    "I really want to be together with you, but, they are your friends too ..." Lin XianEr said with a smile as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    "Anyone who is unwilling to be your friend is no friend of mine." Ah Fei said.

    She threw her arms around Ah Fei and said, "Hearing you say that, I am satisfied. I don't mind what anyone thinks about me, I won't mind how anyone treats me, I won't let any of that bother me."

    The door was still open.

    Li XunHuan slowly walked towards the door and out into the darkness of the night.

    Sun XiaoHong followed him out. She bit her lips and said, "Are we going to leave just like that?"

    Li XunHuan didn't say a word. No words would come out.

    She staggered along angrily and said, "I can't believe that he is that kind of a person! He would actually still treat her that well ... he is totally ungrateful! He cares only for love and betrays his friends!"

    Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and said, "You've misjudged him."

    "How so? You're saying he really isn't that type of person?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He isn't." Li XunHuan said.

    "If he isn't then why would he do what he just did?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan's voice dropped, "Because ... because ..."

    He just didn't know how to say it so Mr. Sun continued for him.

    "He did that because he just can't control himself right now." Mr. Sun said with a sigh.

    "Why can't he control himself? Its not like someone is forcing him under knife-point. No one is tying him down." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You're correct that no one is forcing him, but he is shackling himself up." Mr. Sun said.

    Mr. Sun sighed as he continued, "In fact, everyone in this world has their own shackles and cage."

    "Well I don't." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You think you don't because you're still a child and you don't understand it yet." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong's voice rose, "Even if I am a child, fine! Then what about him?"

    She was pointing at Li XunHuan, and continued, "He's not a child, yet he doesn't have any shackles or a cage either."

    "Of course he does." Mr. Sun said.

    She looked over at Li XunHuan and asked, "Do you?"

    Li XunHuan smiled and replied, "I admit that I do."

    "He never takes anything to heart. Even if people insult him or wrong him, he would never be upset by it. Such that people would start to think that he reacts that way because his courage has disappeared." Mr. Sun said.

    Li XunHuan smiled.

    "But once he finds out that his friends are in danger, he will abandon all else in order to save them. Whether its enduring boiling water or walking through fire, or having blades pierced through his chest, he would do it all in an instant ..." Mr. Sun said.

    He sighed and continued, "Because 'friendship' is his cage. Only this type of cage can steam his vivacity to the surface! Only this type of cage can have his blood bubbling with courage!"

    "Then what about a person like Long Xiao4Yun, does he have a cage as well?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Of course." Mr. Sun said.

    "And what is his cage?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Wealth and power!" Mr. Sun said.

    "But the reason he wants to kill Li XunHuan can't be for wealth and power. He knows that Li XunHuan is not the type of person who would fight over wealth and power with him." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "The only reason he wants to kill Li XunHuan is because his heart has shackles." Mr. Sun said.

    "What shackles?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    Mr. Sun looked over at Li XunHuan and then stopped talking.

    The expression on Li XunHuan's face was gloomier than the night itself.

    Sun XiaoHong suddenly realized the answer.

    Long Xiao4Yun despises Li XunHuan because he is suspicious, and envious.

    He is suspecting that Li XunHuan will avenge all that he has ever done to him.

    And he is envious of Li XunHuan's honor and generosity, because he can never be like that.

    Suspicion and envy are his shackles.

    Most people in this world have these shackles as well.

    What are Ah Fei's shackles?

    Mr. Sun looked up into the bright night sky and sighed, "Ah Fei's shackles are completely different from Long Xiao4Yun's. Ah Fei is chained down by love."

    "Love can be considered shackles as well?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Of course, in fact they are much heavier than any other kind." Mr. Sun said.

    "But does he really love Lin XianEr? It seems like he only loves her because he cannot have her." Sun XiaoHong said.

    No one replied.

    Because no one can truly answer her question.

    She sighed and looked at Li XunHuan and said, "He is your friend. You better figure out a way to help free him of his shackles."

    Li XunHuan slowly turned to look back ...

    The light from the window in the house had gone out. The lonely hut sat in the western winds under the dark night. It seemed to resemble the type of person that Ah Fei was: stubborn yet resilient, but lonesome.

    Li XunHuan bent over and started coughing again.

    He knew that no one could help free Ah Fei from his shackles.

    The only person who could free him was himself.

    End of Chapter 73

  16. #76
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 74 - The Most Generous Person

    The lights are out.

    A different type of flame is being ignited inside the house.

    A long, slender pair of legs hung down from the side of the bed, accentuated beautifully by the pale moonlight.

    Her legs bent as his body shivered.

    Ah Fei was as tense as an outstretched bow.

    The arrow was set on the bow, as it sought out its quiver.

    An experienced person knows that that intense sense of urgency is most difficult to endure.

    Lin XianEr was, of course, an experienced person.

    She kept slipping out reach and pushing him away, silently whimpering, "Wait ... wait ..."

    Ah Fei didn't respond with words, but with action.

    He couldn't wait any longer.

    She bit down on her lips and stared into his bulging red eyes.

    "How ... how come you've never asked me before?"

    "Ask you what?"

    "Whether ShangGuan JinHong and I had ..."

    Ah Fei's movements suddenly stopped, as if someone had just kicked him down.

    "Is it because it doesn't bother you anymore?"

    Ah Fei began to sweat, sweat that signaled a person's weakness.

    Lin XianEr had began to notice that weakness.

    "I know that it bothers you, because I know that you love me."

    She sounded sad and distressed, but her eyes carried a sadistic glee. She was like a cat who had a mouse under her paws. She was like ShangGuan JinHong looking down at her when she was in the same situation.

    "Did you or didn't you?" Ah Fei asked in a coarse voice.

    She sighed and answered, "A poor mouse in the grasp of a vicious cat, you don't have to ask to know the outcome."

    Ah Fei suddenly fell over, so full of anger that he couldn't move a muscle.

    Lin XianEr looked down over his face, like her tears were about to drop.

    "I knew it would make you angry, but I couldn't keep it from you. I had wanted to give myself to you pure and chaste, but ..."

    She crawled up into Ah Fei's chest with tears in her eyes and said, "Now I regret waiting for so long, although it was all for you, now I ..."

    Ah Fei suddenly cried out, "I know it was for my sake, that is why I promise I will return your chastity to you."

    "But this is something that can't ever be recovered!" Lin XianEr said.

    "It can, I have a way." Ah Fei said.

    He clenched his hands and said menacingly, "As long as I kill ShangGuan JinHong, as long as I kill the person who has defiled you, then you will be pure once again ..."

    His voice suddenly stopped because he heard a cold shrill laugh coming from the window.

    "If that's the case, then you better be ready to kill a whole lot of people!"

    Another voice chimed in, "That b-i-t-c-h's body has never been clean before! With the exception of you, every man who's ever laid eyes on her has slept with her!"

    A third voice added, "If you really wanted to kill every single person who's been with her before, even if you killed eighty a day until the day you're old, you'd still be far from done!"

    The house had three windows, and there was a person outside each of them.

    The three voices were different, but there was an eerie similarity between them.

    Shrill and forged, anyone who heard them would want to throw up.

    Ah Fei bolted up and covered Lin XianEr with a blanket. He kicked a pillow that knocked over a candle that was on the table. In a sharp voice he asked, "Who's there?"

    He had wanted to rush out but once he got up he decided to stay by Lin XianEr's side instead.

    The three people outside the windows burst out in laughter.

    "Don't tell me you're afraid that one of us will see her naked body!"

    "She's used to people staring at her body! In fact, she feels uncomfortable when people aren't staring at her!"

    *PENG*, all three windows were forced open.

    Three beams of light poured into the room directly at Lin XianEr.

    They were Kongming lanterns.

    You could only see their brightness, you couldn't see from where they came, or who has holding them.

    They were so bright that you could barely keep your eyes open.

    Lin XianEr shielded her eyes with her hands. The cotton blanket covering her body slowly slid off revealing her legs, and then her thighs ...

    She never bothered to pull the blanket up. She really wasn't afraid of being seen.

    Ah Fei gritted his teeth, pulled off his clothes, passed them to Lin XianEr and said, "Put these on."

    Lin XianEr rolled her eyes and snickered,"Why? Are you ashamed of how I look?"

    Even though she was entirely nude she could still smile that frivolously.

    She had used her two deadliest weapons.

    Ah Fei broke a chair on the floor, grabbed its legs, and said, "Whoever steps one foot inside this house will die!"

    The three voices could be heard laughing again, but this time they were coming from outside the door.

    "He still wants to take people's lives."

    "In his current condition he can forget about killing anyone."

    "He can still take one person's life ... his own!"

    With another *PENG*, the thick wooden door was shattered instantly.

    Shards of wood were sent flying, three people slowly walked in.

    Three people clothed in yellow.

    Three people with bamboo hats strapped tightly to their heads covering their faces.

    This was the distinguishing appearance of members of the 'Gold Currency Union'.

    The first one had a golden chain wrapped around his hands, the chain whip had two parts connected by a large iron hammer.

    The second and third used sabre and sword.

    A demon-headed sabre and a funeral-gate sword.

    Their three weapons were at ready, as if in fear of missing the opportunity to kill.

    Ah Fei suddenly stood still. He was like a starved wolf that had just smelled fresh meat.

    Although his reactions had slowed and his strength had lowered, his natural instincts had not diminished.

    He had already drawn the scent of blood.

    Lin XianEr was giggling even more as she said, "So it is the famous 'Twin Meteors of Wind and Rain' Branch-Master Xiang Song. I am honored, I am honored."

    The twin meteor hammer in his hands lightly swung back and forth, he looked as steady and formidable as a mountain.

    "Has Branch-Master Xiang come under the orders of ShangGuan JinHong to kill me today?" Lin XianEr said.

    "You've guessed correctly." Xiang Song replied.

    Lin XianEr sighed and said, "I can't believe ShangGUan JinHong wants to take my life this urgently."

    "People who have run out of their usefulness have to die." Xiang Song replied.

    "You're wrong. He doesn't to kill me for that reason." Lin XianEr replied.

    "Hmm?" Xiang Song replied.

    "He wants me dead because he is afraid that I will find another man and stain his reputation." Lin XianEr said.

    "Chief ShangGuan's orders never required explanantion, they only need to be carried out." Xiang Song replied coldly.

    Lin XianEr glanced over at Ah Fei for a second and said, "You three just barged in here to kill me, because you assume that he isn't capable of protecting me anymore."

    "He can try." Xiang Song said.

    "There's no need for him to try." the one wielding the sabre laughed coldly.

    "Hmm?" Lin XianEr said.

    "Since you can admit that in front of him, then you know yourself that he isn't capable of protecting you. Since we all know this now, what's the point in him trying?"

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "You're right, he can barely protect himself right now. I'm just making it harder for him, except ..."

    She slowly stood up, her bare body fully exposed to the light, and continued, "Do you think that I can't protect myself either anymore?"

    Her breasts stood haughtily, her legs fully straight.

    Under the lantern light, her skin looked like milky white satin.

    Her body was definitely worth being proud of.

    Ah Fei's face was twisting with pain, his cold sweat, almost the size of peas, slowly dripped down.

    Lin XianEr's hands slowly crept along her own body, as she said in a sultry voice, "Wouldn't it be a pity if you three were to kill me?"

    Xiang Song sighed and said, "There are women who use their bodies in order to pay for certain things. When they're looking at perfumes, or when they're trying on exquisite dresses, they'll never be shy about it. But you're entirely different."

    "Of course I'm different." Lin XianEr said.

    "You're even much more generous than they are. You use your body to pay for even the smallest things. As long as you're in a good mood you'd even satisfy a lowly servant who opened the door for you." Xiang Song said.

    "Do you want to ask me for a fee as well?" Lin XianEr said.

    She slowly walked over to him, "Come and collect, because if I decided to pay a small fee to you, no one would argue that it'd be too much."

    Xiang Song stood as still as a tree.

    Lin XianEr walked over in front of him and wanted to nibble on his neck.

    Xiang Song suddenly attacked, his hammer struck her chest.

    Lin XianEr was sent flying, her body flipped over onto the bed!

    The bamboo hat fell from Xiang Song's head and revealed his face.

    A pale white face, full of wrinkles, but without a single trace of facial hair.

    Lin XianEr suddenly started laughing and said, "No wonder ShangGuan JinHong sent you here to kill me, you're neither male nor female! You're a half-man, half-woman freak!"

    Xiang Song stared at her coldly, not a single hint of expression on his face. After a long while, he turned to Ah Fei and said, "It's best for you to leave."

    "Leave?" Ah Fei said.

    "Don't tell me you still want to protect this b-i-t-c-h." Xiang Song said.

    Ah Fei slowly lowered his hands.

    "So you should leave, its best that you're not by her side when I kill her." Xiang Song said.

    "Why?" Ah Fei said.

    "Because I'm afraid you'd throw up." Xiang Song said ferociously.

    Ah Fei fell silent, then lowered his head as well.

    Lin XianEr stopped laughing as well. At this point, not even her laughter would come out.

    It was then that Ah Fei struck out!

    Ah Fei's instincts were still sharp.

    He really did pick the best opportunity to attack.

    Unfortunately his reactions had slowed, and his strength had diminished.

    A golden flash of light, twin meteors shot out.

    Shards of wood were sent flying, the legs of the chair in Ah Fei's hands had been shattered.

    "My order was to kill her, not you. You're still alive because I don't like getting too involved." Xiang Song said coldly.

    Ah Fei clenched tightly onto the two wooden stubs in his hands, like a dying person grasping onto one last glimpse of hope.

    But what kind of hope was this?

    He used to be a slayer of men.

    But now, he couldn't kill anybody. To others, he wasn't even worth killing.

    This showed that he was practically useless in their eyes. Whether he was alive or dead made no difference.

    "It is very difficult for a person to crawl back up, but very easy for a person to fall down."

    Ah Fei suddenly remembered when he had went to save Li XunHuan, when he first crossed swords with Jing WuMing ...

    At that time no one dared to take him lightly.

    But what about now?

    That happened only several days ago, yet it seemed like such a far and distant memory.

    Xiang Song's voice sounded far and distant now as well.

    "You can stay here and watch if you prefer. I'll show you how a real slayer kills people."

    Suddenly another voice slowly penetrated the room, "And you're supposed to be adept at killing? I'm afraid you're not worthy."

    End of Chapter 74

  17. #77
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 75 - Between Life and Death

    That slow monotonous voice sounded neither high or low and completely void of emotion. Xiang Song was familiar with this voice, the only person who sounded like this was Jing WuMing!

    Jing WuMing!

    Xiang Song was terrified as he slowly turned his head ... it really was Jing WuMing!

    His clothes were worn out and he looked tired and weary, but his eyes ...

    Those deathly pale eyes were as chillingly cold as ever. They could cause a person's blood to freeze over.

    Xiang Song looked away from his eyes and towards his hands.

    His left hand was suspended by cloth. Its color was as pale as ash as if it was a hand that had reached out from the grave.

    This used to be a hand that could kill, but now it was a hand that could only cause people to vomit.

    Xiang Song laughed casually and said, "Although I might not understand how to kill people, at least I can still kill. Mr. Jing may understand fully how to kill people but unfortunately killing isn't done with the mouth but with the hands."

    Jing WuMing's pupils contracted. He stared at Xiang Song and said slowly, "You can't see my hand?"

    "There are many kinds of hands. What I see is not the kind of hand that can kill." Xiang Song said.

    "You don't think my right hand can kill?" Jing WuMing said.

    "There are many kinds of people as well. Some are easy to kill while others are not." Xiang Song said.

    "Which kind are you?" Jing WuMing said.

    Xiang Song lowered his head and said coldly, "The kind that you can't kill."

    His eyes filled with hatred as if he was trying to lure Jing WuMing into attacking. As if he was looking for a reason to kill him.

    Jing WuMing suddenly broke out in laughter.

    He was the same as ShangGuan JinHong, he looked much more formidable and frightening when he was laughing than when he wasn't.

    Xiang Song unknowingly took a single step back.

    "So you've always hated me?" Jing WuMing said.

    Xiang Song gritted his teeth and said, "I'm afraid there aren't many people in this world who don't hate you."

    "You want to kill me?" Jing WuMing said.

    "I'm not the only one either." Xiang Song replied.

    "But did you wait until now?" Jing WuMing said.

    "You have to wait for the right opportunity to kill, you should understand this better than anyone." Xiang Song said.

    "You think that your opportunity has come now?" Jing WuMing said.

    "Correct." Xiang Song said.

    Jing WuMing sighed as he said, "It's a pity that I have a secret that you aren't aware of."

    "What secret?" Xiang Song couldn't help but ask.

    Jing WuMing's morbid eyes stared directly at his throat as he slowly spoke.

    "My right hand can kill as well. In fact, compared to my left hand it kills even faster!"

    As soon as his last word came out, his sword had already pierced through Xiang Song's throat!

    No one saw where his sword had come from, and no one saw how his sword had pierced into Xiang Song's throat.

    The only thing anyone saw a flash of light and a spray of blood. With a *GE* Xiang Song's breath had stopped. His eyes looked like they were hanging out from their sockets.

    'Demon-Head Sabre' and 'Funeral-Gate Sword' looked like their eyes were about to drop from their sockets as well.

    The two of them slowly retreated backwards towards the door.

    Jing WuMing didn't turn his head and coldly said, "You two still think that you can leave after you've seen my secret?"

    Another cold flash of light!

    Blood splashed across the floor. Under the lantern light it looked like a strand of glistening red pearls.

    Potent medicines taste bitter while venemous poisons are always irresistably sweet.

    Some things in life are just that peculiar ... even the most repulsive, disgusting things, if looked at in a certain way can appear to be priceless and beautiful.

    That is why the sword that kills always appears particularly bright and the blood that is spilled appears particularly radiant.

    That is why there is a saying that, "Beauty, fades within the blink of an eye. Only true skill lasts forever."

    'True skill' is never beautiful.

    The sword that kills people is also the same as the knife that cuts vegetables, both are nothing but steel. The question is whether you look deep enough or not.

    But there are others who say, "Let me grasp only that single moment of beauty. Let those things that last forever lie in wait forever, they are of no use to me."

    In those moments right before, Xiang Song was still the heralded 'Twin Meteors of Wind and Rain', Branch-Leader of the Eighth Branch of the Golden Currency Union.

    But now, he was just another dead person, not much different from any other dead person.

    Jing WuMing looked down at his corpse. The expression on his face changed rather strangely, as if this was the first time that he had ever seen a dead person.

    Was it because this was the first time that he felt 'death'?

    Was it because that only when a person was truly desolate that he could feel 'death'?

    Lin XianEr let out a long sigh.

    She had been holding it in for quite some time but was finally able to exhale.

    She smiled at Jing WuMing and said, "I can't believe that you would come to save me."

    Jing WuMing didn't raise his head and coldly replied, "You think I came here to save you?"

    She nodded her head and said, "I know your intentions."

    Jing WuMing slowly lifted his head and said, "What do you know?"

    "You saved me because ShangGuan JinHong wanted to kill me." Lin XianEr said.

    Jing WuMing stared at her.

    "You despise him. So anything that he plans to do, you'll try to ruin." Lin XianEr said.

    Jing WuMing still stared at her.

    "Even until now, I had always understood what kind of person you are, and I also know that ShangGuan Fei died under your hands." Lin XianEr said.

    Jing WuMing's eyes suddenly shifted to his sword.

    "You know too much." he said.

    Lin XianEr laughed and said, "I know that you won't kill me either. Because if you did, that would be exactly what ShangGuan JinHong wanted."

    She smiled sweetly and continued, "Not only will you let me live, you'll take me along with you as well, correct?"

    "Take you with me?" Jing WuMing said.

    "Because if you don't want me to die under ShangGuan JinHong's hands, and you don't want me to leak out your secret, you have no choice but to take me with you." Lin XianEr said.

    Her voice became gentle and alluring, "I'm whole-heartedly willing to go with you, wherever you will go I'll follow."

    Jing WuMing fell silent for a while, and then glanced at Ah Fei.

    It was like he had just realized that Ah Fei was there.

    Even Ah Fei had forgotten that he was there himself.

    Lin XianEr glanced at him as well. She walked over and kissed him on his cheeks.

    She didn't say another word.

    She didn't have to say anything else.

    Lin XianEr finally followed Jing WuMing out.

    Ah Fei didn't move.

    His mouth dried up.

    Ah Fei didn't move.

    Light poured in from the windows, it was already morning.

    Ah Fei still hadn't moved.

    He laid on the floor soaked in blood next to the bodies.

    He hung between life and death by a single thread ...


    "X X Day, ten li outside the western wall, under the tree near the pavilion."

    "ShangGuan JinHong."

    Winter had finally arrived. The western winds swept away the last withered leaves from the trees.

    The letter was the same color as the dried yellow leaves. But it was a shade of yellow that brought with it a grim sense of decay. A shade of yellow that was lifeless and frightening.

    The letter had only those nineteen words. Simple and clear. It was exactly like the way ShangGuan JinHong killed, never superfluous.

    The letter was delivered by one of the workers at the inn. After he read it, his hands couldn't stop trembling.

    Sun XiaoHong grabbed hold of the letter, and as she read it, a cold aura of death shivered through her spine and to her hands. Her fignertips suddenly felt extremely cold.

    "Tomorrow, it is tomorrow."

    "Looking at the calendar, tomorrow is not a good day. Several things aren't right." Sun XiaoHong mumbled.

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "Why would you need to select an appropriate day to kill?"

    Sun XiaoHong's gaze was fixed on him. After a while, she asked loudly, "Can you kill him?"

    Li XunHuan's mouth stayed shut. The smile on his face slowly vanished.

    Sun XiaoHong suddenly stood up and walked out of the room. Li XunHuan couldn't figure out what she was up to. She ran back in with brush, ink, and paper in hand.

    A finely polished brush, and premium quality paper.

    She didn't look at Li XunHuan but merely said, "You speak, I'll write."

    Li XunHuan was a little surprised, "What do you want me to say?"

    "Do you have any unfulfilled wishes? Or any unfinished business?"

    Her voice was extremely calm, but the brush in her hand shook slightly.

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "You want me to tell you now? I'm not dead yet."

    "After you're dead you won't be able to tell me anything." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Her head was lowered the entire time, her eyes staring the the brush in her hands. But she still couldn't avoid Li XunHuan's gaze.

    Her eyes began to water, she bit her lips and said, "You can name anything. Ah Fei for example, is there anything you want me to tell him, or is there anything you want me to do for him?"

    There was a certain pain in Li XunHuan's eyes as he sighed and said, "Nothing."

    "Nothing? There really is nothing?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I can urge him not to kill someone, but I can't stop him from loving someone." Li XunHuan replied.

    "What if someone else wanted to kill him?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan laughed bitterly and said, "Who would want to kill him now?"

    "ShangGuan JinHong ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "If ShangGuan JinHong was willing to let him go, then he won't want to kill him again. Otherwise he'd already be dead by now." Li XunHuan said.

    "But what about in the future?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan stared out the window into the distance and slowly said, "The moment of awakening will come even after the longest of dreams. Once that time arrives, he will understand everything for himself. Anything I say to him now is of no use."

    Sun XiaoHong was quiet for some time before saying, "What about her?"

    It appeared as if she had to muster all of her strength to say those words.

    Of course Li XunHuan realized who she was referring to.

    The pain in his eyes seemed to deepen. He suddenly walked over and pushed open the windows.

    Sun XiaoHong, her head still lowered, said, "If you ... you have any words, anything ..."

    Li XunHuan cut her off and said, "Nothing, absolutely nothing."

    "But you ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "While she's alive, there will always be someone to look after her. When he passes away, there will be someone to oversee her burial. She has no need of me. She will only benefit from my death." Li XunHuan said.

    His voice sounded very calm as well, but he didn't turn his head.

    Why was he afraid to turn around?

    Sun XiaoHong looked at his thin, emaciated figure from behind. A single drop of tear fell onto the piece of paper.

    She quietly wiped away the tear and said, "But you must have something you want to say. How come you're unwilling to tell me?"

    "Why do you want me to speak for." Li XunHuan said.

    "Once you tell me, I'll forever remember. Then after you die, I'll carry them out one by one, then afterwards ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan quickly turned around and asked, "Then what afterwards?"

    "Then afterwards I will die!" Sun XiaoHong replied.

    She stood straight up and looked directly at Li XunHuan. She didn't glance away and she didn't try to conceal anything.

    "Why ... why do you want to die for?" Li XunHuan said.

    "I can't avoid dying, because after you're gone, living will be even worse than death." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She was still staring right into Li XunHuan's eyes, not even blinking once.

    Her sentiment suddenly became very calm and resolute. It was obvious that she had already made up her mind. No one could convince her otherwise.

    Li XunHuan felt a sharp twinge of pain in his chest. He bent down and started to cough excessively.

    After his coughing has subsided, Sun XiaoHong sighed and said quietly, "If you want me to live on, then you mustn't die ... ShangGuan JinHong didn't necessarily seek you out to duel. Even he is somewhat intimidated by you."

    She suddenly ran over and held his hand and said, "We can run away, run away as far as we can. We'll forget about everything, I ... I can bring you back to my home. No one knows of that place, even if ShangGuan JinHong wanted to seek you out he would never be able to find you there."

    Li XunHuan didn't respond, he didn't say a single word.

    He just stared at her silently.

    A cold wind blew through. A cloud of smoke swirled into the room and muddled his sight.

    Mr. Sun's wise old voice filled the room, "No matter what you say, he won't run away."

    Sun XiaoHong stamped her foot and said, "How do you know he won't leave?"

    "If he was the kind of person who would run away, then you wouldn't feel how you do towards him." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong was silent for a moment, then turned around and covered her head.

    Li XunHuan sighed and said, "Elder ..."

    Mr. Sun interrupted him and said, "I know what you're thinking, but ... I can only urge her not to kill someone, I can't force her not to love someone."

    Love, this is one thing in life that can't be forced.

    Li XunHuan started to cough again, even harder than before.


    "Ten li outside the western wall, under the tree near the pavilion."

    It was an eight sided pavilion. It stood at the foot of a mountain right outside of a forest.

    The forest had withered. The paint on the pillars of the pavilion had started to peel off.

    The western winds were blistering. The vast plains stood silently.

    Li XunHuan walked back and forth along the forest. He had seemingly walked on every stretch of earth along that path.

    "Tomorrow, it is tomorrow."

    The sun started to set in the west. Another day had passed.

    The next day, under the same setting sun, all enmity between Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong would be settled.

    This would be one of the most amazing battles in history!

    Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and lifted his head. The setting sun filled the entire sky with its beauty and magnificence.

    But in the eyes of a dead person, was this eternal sun just as majestic?

    Mr. Sun and Sun XiaoHong sat quietly inside the pavilion. Sun XiaoHong suddenly asked, "The time of the duel hasn't arrived yet, why has he come here beforehand?"

    "In a duel between experts, not only must you take into account the strengths and weaknesses of a peron's martial arts, but you also consider the weather, surroundings, and people. Since ShangGuan JinHong chose this place for the duel, he must have his reasons." Mr. Sun replied.

    "What reason is that?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He must be very familiar with the terrain here, he might have even come here earlier to set up traps." Mr. Sun said.

    "So Li XunHuan must come here beforehand to look around and inspect whether ShangGuan JinHong had set up traps and where they could be." SUn XiaoHong said.

    "Exactly. The generals of old would always patrol the site before an important battle. No matter what kind of battle, as long as one first observes the surroundings, one will ensure an advantage." Mr. Sun said.

    "But why is he strolling back and forth at that spot?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    "That back and forth stroll has its purpose as well." Mr. Sun said with a laugh.

    "Huh?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He wants to walk over every inch of dirt here and see how the surface is. He wants to know whether it's soft, whether it's parched, or whether it's damp." Mr. Sun replied.

    "And what use is that?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because the dirt can be different at different spots, it can affect one's lightness. If when using seven-tenths of your strength you are able to leap seven meters on wet dirt, on solid dirt you can leap ten meters." Mr. Sun said.

    "The difference isn't that much." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Mr. Sun sighed and said, "When experts clash, their margin of error can't be more than a single inch!"

    Li XunHuan suddenly walked over and stood outside of the pavilion. He faced the evening sun as it set over the withered forest. It brought forth a surge of emotion but no one could really tell what was on his mind.

    Sun XiaoHong couldn't help but ask quietly, "And what is he doing just standing there?"

    End of Chapter 75

  18. #78
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 76 - A Brilliant Tactic

    "ShangGuan JinHong will definitely arrive early the day after tomorrow." Mr. Sun said in a deep tone of voice.

    "Why is that?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because whoever arrives first has the advantage of being able to choose the best position on this field. There's no way that ShangGuan JinHong will give up this opportunity." Mr. Sun said.

    "Why doesn't Li XunHuan just show up even earlier than him then?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    "It could be that he doesn't like competing over who arrives first ... or perhaps he has another reason altogether." Mr. Sun said.

    Mr. Sun let out a little chuckle and added, "Li TanHua is not your average person. Sometimes even I have trouble figuring out his intentions."

    "Well the way I see it, all the terrain here looks pretty much the same. I really can't tell which spot would be the most advantageous." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "It's where he is standing at right now." Mr. Sun said.

    "What's so special about where he is standing at right now?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "If ShangGuan JinHong were to stand here, Li XunHuan would be directly across from him." Mr. Sun said.

    "Mm hmm." Sun XiaoHong nodded.

    "The time of the duel is exactly when the sun will set." Mr. Sun said.

    "Ahh I understand now. If someone were to stand over there, their back will be to the setting sun so its rays wouldn't affect them at all. However, standing across from that spot would mean that you are facing the sun, and even if you blink once, your opponent will have the perfect chance to attack." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Exactly." Mr. Sun said.

    "But why then would ShangGuan JinHong choose to stand at this spot?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Well only by standing here would he discover the disadvantage of this spot. He would then be able to find another spot to take." Mr. Sun said. "If you look at that forest over there, the evening sun is reflecting off the frozen dew on its leaves. So even by standing there you may be slightly blinded."

    By now Li XunHuan walked to another tree that was across from them.

    Sun XiaoHong's eyes followed his every move. Suddenly a flash of light blinded her ... that tree had the most frost on its leaves and the reflected light from the sun was at its greatest.

    "Now do you understand?" Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong didn't say a word. Li XunHuan suddenly darted up the tree, his body shot upwards and he dashed around almost every single branch on the tree.

    "Everybody knows about 'Little Li's Flying Dagger, never leaves the hand unless it hits'. But his lightness skill is also incredible, not many people in this world are his match." Mr. Sun exclaimed.

    "What is he doing in that tree though?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He is testing every limb and branch in that tree to see how sturdy it is. There are two reasons for this." Mr. Sun said.

    "Two reasons?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    "Firstly, he wants to make sure the tree hadn't been tampered with by ShangGuan JinHong." Mr. Sun said.

    "Tampered with?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "When he is facing ShangGuan JinHong, what would happen if the branches suddenly snapped in that tree?" Mr. Sun said.

    "If the branches snapped, then of course they'd come crashing down." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Where would they land?" Mr. Sun said.

    "Well on the floor." Sun XiaoHong suddenly realized what he meant and continued, "Or in front of his view, or maybe even on top of his head. It would definitely cause a distraction, and even the slightest distraction would give the upper hand to ShangGuan JinHong."

    "In addition, if he had no other choice, he could choose to run up the tree. What would happen then is that the tree would turn into their battlefield." Mr. Sun said.

    "So he needs to carefully examine and observe every last inch of that tree, just like he's doing with the surrounding area here now." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You finally understand." Mr. Sun said.

    "I finally understand, who would've known that there is so much behind preparing for a duel." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "No matter what you do, when you reach the highest levels, it will always be this involved and complicated. Even if its embroidery or cooking." Mr. Sun said.

    Mr. Sun glanced over at Li XunHuan and continued, "Although their duel is set for tomorrow, it really started since the first time they met. What was being tested was their attention to detail, patience, and knowledge. Their chances of victory were set during that time, but the victor will only be revealed the day after tomorrow during their duel."

    "Yet all that anyone would ever see is what happens in that instant. There is a saying that goes 'A battle between experts is decided by a single move', but who would've known that there was so much preparation and work behind that single move." Sun XiaoHong said.

    A sullen look came over the eyes of Mr. Sun. He struck a flint and lit his pipe, with his eyes focused at the flame he said, "A true expert in the martial arts definitely leads a lonely life. People only see them in their glory and success but no one ever sees how much they sacrifice, and because of that no one can ever truly understand them."

    Sun XiaoHong lowered her head and fiddled with her sleeves as she said, "But don't they need other people to understand them?"

    Li XunHuan tucked in his garments and with a gentle push off his legs he vaulted to the top of the pavilion.

    Mr. Sun blew out a puff of smoke and said, "Everyone always sees Li XunHuan as a careless and reckless person, but who has ever seen this meticulous side of him? When it comes to important matters, he really doesn't leave any details out."

    Sun XiaoHong sighed and said, "That may be because he has already let go of so much ..."

    She suddenly lifted up her head and asked, "Since this battle had started a long time ago, in your opinion who is currently winning?"

    "I don't think anyone can answer that." Mr. Sun said.

    She started to bite down on her lips again.

    Whenever her mind was in disarray she would bite her lips, the more in disaray, the harder she bit down.

    Right now she was about to bite through her own lips.

    "What do you think?" Mr. Sun asked.

    "Well ... ShangGuan JinHong seems extremely confident in himself." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Correct, this is because in recent years he has succeeded in everything he's ever attempted. Except, the death of his son could be a distraction for him." Mr. Sun said.

    "Also there's Jing WuMing, his leaving can also be considered a heavy loss to ShangGuan JinHong." SUn XiaoHong said.

    "This is why he immediately sought out Li XunHuan to duel, because he was afraid that his confidence would slowly begin to waver." Mr. Sun said.

    Mr. Sun sighed and continued, "That is why this duel affects not only the lives of Li XunHuan and ShangGuan JinHong, but also the well being of the entire martial arts world."

    "Are the implications of this battle really that great?" Sun XiaoHong asked.

    "Firstly, if ShangGuan JinHong really were to win, then his confidence would soar even higher. His actions would become even more bold and I'm afraid by then that there would be no one that could stop him." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong's eyes suddenly flickered, "Actually, I think that there is no way that ShangGuan JinHong can win this battle."

    "Why is that?" Mr. Sun said.

    "Little Li's flying dagger, never released unless it hits! His dagger has never failed before!" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "ShangGuan JinHong has never failed before either!" Mr. Sun said with a sigh.

    Sun XiaoHong let out a laugh and interrupted him, "Have you forgotten grandpa? ShangGuan JinHong has failed once before."

    "Oh?" Mr. Sun said.

    "That day, in a pavilion outside of Luoyang, hadn't he already lost to you?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Mr. Sun didn't say a word.

    "I have never asked for anything from you before, grandpa. But now I want to ask just one favor." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "What is it." Mr. Sun said as he took another puff from his pipe and engulfed himself in a cloud of smoke.

    "I want you to make sure that Li XunHuan stays alive at all costs..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She suddenly knelt down in front of her grandpa and said, "Grandpa is the only one in this world who is able to deal with ShangGuan JinHong, and Grandpa is the only one who can save Li XunHuan. Grandpa should know better than anyone that if he were to die, I really wouldn't be able to live on without him."

    The cloud of smoke had dispersed.

    But a cloud of smoke appears to have remained in Mr. Sun's eyes.

    An autumn mist, sullen and gloomy ...

    But a slowly smile appeared on his face.

    His eyes gazed into the distance, he slowly stroked Sun XiaoHong's hair and said, "Out of all my granddaughters, you're the most mischievous one. If you were to die, who would there be to pluck my beard and pull at my hair?"

    Sun XiaoHong slowly got up and said, "So you'll promise?"

    Mr. Sun nodded his head and said, "You were just waiting to hear these words come out of my mouth the whole time weren't you?"

    Sun XiaoHong started to blush and replied, "Grandpa should know that as a girl grows up, she can't stay at home. Her heart must turn elsewhere."

    Mr. Sun laughed and said, "But your skin is still as thick, whether anyone will want you or not, I can not say."

    Sun XiaoHong crawled over to her grandpa's ear and whispered, "I know, but even if he doesn't want me I have ways to make him want me."

    Mr. Sun embraced her in his arms as if she was a little girl again and said softly, "You're my favorite granddaughter, but you really are mischievous and way too bold. I was always afraid that you'd never find a family to marry into, but at least you've found someone who you truly like. I can only be happy for you."

    "I really am fortunate to have found him, but he is just as fortunate to have found me. In this world, there really aren't many people like me." Sun XiaoHong said giggling.

    "I'm sure you're one of a kind in this world." Mr. Sun said with a smile.

    She sat on her grandpa's lap and felt extremely lighthearted and happy.

    Because not only did she have an extremely admirable grandfather, she also had an incredibly praiseworthy person in her heart.

    Family, romance, she had both. What else could a girl possibly ask for?

    She felt that she was the happiest person in the entire world.

    She felt that the future was incredibly bright.

    The day was starting to fall to night as darkness swallowed up the bright sun.

    But she didn't seem to take notice at all.

    "Love can blind a person's eyes."

    Although this saying is very old-fashioned, the truth behind it will never change.

    If Sun XiaoHong could open her eyes right now, she would realize a deep sadness and pain in her grandfather's eyes. Even if others could see that sadness they could never guess from where it came.

    Night approaches, a cold wind blows.

    It was completely silent except for the sounds of branches and leaves dancing in the wind.

    Where was Li XunHuan?

    Sun XiaoHong couldn't help but walk out and shout, "What are you doing up there? Why haven't you come down yet?"

    There was no response.

    Where had Li XunHuan gone to?

    Was there really some malicious trap set up on top of the pavilion? Had Li XunHuan already fallen victim to it?

    The roof of the pavilion was laid out with red tiles while a golden peak sat at the top.

    On top of the peak was a small iron box.

    It was a very ordinary iron box, not decorated in any way. There weren't any elaborate mechanisms inside of it that would fire arrows at whoever opened it.

    "But what would that iron box be doing atop the pavilion?"

    Inside the iron box was a strand of hair.

    A long, black strand of hair that didn't seem out of the ordinary.

    But Li XunHuan had been staring at this strand of hair mindlessly for quite some time. When Sun XiaoHong was shouting out to him, he seemed like he didn't even hear her.

    What was so out of the ordinary about this strand of hair?

    Sun XiaoHong just couldn't figure it out.

    No one could really figure it out.

    Li XunHuan's expression was very heavy, and there was a hint of red in his eyes.

    Sun XiaoHong had never seen him like this before. Even when they were drinking wine, Li XunHuan's eyes were always fresh and clear.

    What had caused such an abrupt change in him?

    They placed the strand of hair on a stone table inside the pavilion.

    Sun XiaoHong couldn't hold it in and asked, "Whose hair is this?"

    No one answered. No one could answer.

    It looked the same as everyone else's hair in the world.

    "A strand of hair that is this long, it must be a woman's." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She knew that what she said wasn't entirely accurate, because men could have long hair as well.

    Because there is a saying that goes 'One's body is a gift from one's parents and should always be treaured.'

    If you were to cut your hair, you'd be considered unfilial towards your parents.

    There are always stories about girls dressing up as boys but are discovered as soon as their long hair is exposed.

    But these stories can only trick little children ... yet strangely enough these stories are still being told today.

    Sun XiaoHong stamped her feet and said, "No matter what, its still just a strand of hair. Whats so strange about it?"

    "There is." Mr. Sun said.

    "There is what?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "There is something strange about it, something very strange." Mr. Sun said.

    "What's so strange about it?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Everything about it is strange." Mr. Sun said. "What would a strand of hair be doing inside an iron box? How did that box wind up on top of the pavilion? Who put it up there? And for what reason?"

    Sun XiaoHong froze still.

    Mr. Sun sighed and said, "If my guesses are correct, this must be the work of ShangGuan JinHong."

    "ShangGuan JinHong? Why would he do such a thing?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because he wanted Li XunHuan to see that strand of hair." Mr. Sun said.

    "But ... but he ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He had probably guessed that Li XunHuan would come beforehand to inspect the area, and probably guessed that he would search the top of the pavilion, so he purposely placed this iron box there ahead of time." Mr. Sun said.

    "But what is the significance behind this particular strand of hair? So what if Li XunHuan sees it? Isn't it kind of silly?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    But even as she spoke those words, she felt that there was something wrong, something very wrong.

    ShangGuan JinHong was not the type of person who did silly pointless things.

    Mr. Sun's eyes were focused on Li XunHuan and asked him, "Do you know who this strand of hair belongs to?"

    Li XunHuan was quiet for a long while, he finally sighed and said, "I know."

    "But are you totally cetain?" Mr. Sun asked.

    His tone of voice was sharp and stern, Li XunHuan could only reply saying, "I ..."

    "You can't be certain, correct?" Mr. Sun said.

    He didn't wait for Li XunHuan to respond before continuing, "ShangGuan JinHong did this because he wants you to believe that the strand of hair belongs to Lin ShiYin, and that she has fallen into his hands. He wants you to be distracted so that he can have the opportunity to kill you. Why fall for his trick?"

    "Right, if Ms. Lin really did fall into his hands, why wouldn't he bring her out here in person to threaten you with?" Sun XiaoHong added.

    "Because he can't do such a thing ... others can, but he can't." Li XunHuan said.

    "Why not?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Because if anyone found out that he used such petty and lowly methods to beat Li XunHuan, then he would be the laughingstock of the entire world." Li XUnHuan said.

    "But he hasn't said a single word, all he has done is let you see a strand of hair." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "This is why his tactic is so brilliant." Li XunHuan said.

    "This strand of hair could very well not be hers." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Perhaps it could, perhaps it couldn't ... no one can be certain." Li XunHuan said.

    "Well then why don't you just forget about it and pretend that you never saw that strand of hair. Then his plan would be completely foiled." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "But its too bad that I have already seen it." Li XunHuan said.

    "It is because he didn't say a single word that would make you suspicious, and because he guessed that you would be suspicious that he would lay out his plan like this. Even though you're completely aware of his intentions, you still chose to fall into this trap of his." Sun XiaoHong said.

    He let out a long sigh, smiled and said, "Why do I always run into these kinds of situations?"

    End of Chapter 76

  19. #79
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 77 - The Secret of Happy Cloud Manor

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "That's just the way life is. Sometimes even when you know that you're walking right into a trap, you have to keep walking anyway."

    "Right, if it was someone who I cared for deeply, I would walk into the same trap as well." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong stamped her feet, looked at the two of them and said, "Even if you're both willing to be deceived, there's no way that I will be."

    "But you've already fallen for his ploy. Even you had suspected that the strand of hair belonged to Ms. Lin. You're already distracted, if you were to duel with someone right now, even if the other person is not your match, you would still lose at their hands." Mr. Sun said.

    "But ... but ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    If she were in the same situation, she really didn't know what she would do either.

    ShangGuan JinHong's intention was to put Li XunHuan's mind in disarray. Whether Li XunHuan believed it was Lin ShiYin's hair or not, just by him thinking about it, ShangGuan JinHong had succeeded.

    How could it not be on Li XunHuan's mind?

    She was the one who haunted his every dream, how could he ever forget her?

    Even if he knew that it wasn't her hair, he still couldn't help but feel uneasy and his mind would still be in a mess. Because ShangGuan JinHong had already made him think about her.

    The problem wasn't whether the strand of hair was hers or not, but what kind of person Li XunHuan was.

    This was the only way to deal with Li XunHuan. If you had tried the same on any other person, it might not work at all, because any other person wouldn't think so much and so deeply.

    This is why ShangGuan JinHong was so formidable.

    He knew how exactly to deal with every single opponent. Although his methods might seem questionable or even silly, their effectiveness was always guaranteed.

    Because he understood the most profound rule of military strategy: 'Always attack the opponent's mind'.

    Li XunHuan sat down on the floor and stretched out his four limbs.

    Even though he didn't say a word, Mr. Sun and Sun XiaoHong knew what exactly was on his mind: to go to Happy Cloud Manor to see whether Lin ShiYin was still there.

    Before embarking on this journey, he must first rid himself of his weariness.

    Everytime after he made an important decision, he always had to relax his entire body and mind.

    This was one of his habits.

    It was a very good habit.

    Sun XiaoHong stared at him very hard.

    "So he hasn't forgotten her, in fact she's more important to him than anything else, no one could ever take her place in his heart ... not even me."

    Sun XiaoHong's eyes started to turn red, she couldn't help but ask, "Do you have to go?"

    Li XunHuan didn't answer her.

    Sometimes not answering is the best answer one could ever give.

    "He must go, only by going can he calm his mind." Mr. Sun said.

    "But ... what if she really isn't there?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan's eyes almost fell as dark as the night. "No matter what I still have to go. Whatever happens afterwards, I'll decide when that time comes."

    "If you go, you'll really be falling into ShangGuan JinHong's trap." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Hmm?" Li XunHuan said.

    "ShangGuan JinHong's biggest goal in his plan is to make you go to Happy Cloud Manor. The duel is already set for the day after tomorrow. Happy Cloud Manor is not close to here at all. Even if you can make it there and back in time you'll be completely exhausted while he is most likely resting and saving up his energy." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "There are some things that you know you shouldn't do, but can't help but do nonetheless." Li XunHuan said.

    "But if you go, you'll be handing over your life without a fight. Is she really that important to you? Is she even more important than your own life?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan was silent for a while. He then looked up and stared at her.

    Sun XiaoHong's eyes were already watery, she turned her head to avoid his eyes.

    "I just want you to understand, if you were in my situation you would do the exact same thing. And if you were in her situation, I would do the exact same thing for you as well." Li XunHuan said.

    Sun XiaoHong didn't show any reaction as if she had completely missed what he had just said.

    But her tears had already started to flow.

    When a woman loves a man, she wants to be the only one in his life. She can't have another person in the picture.

    But whatever the case may be, Lin ShiYin was already in his heart.

    She just stood there idly. What was she feeling right now? Was it sweet? Was it sour? Or was it bitter?

    Mr. Sun let out a long sigh and said, "This is something that he must do, just let him go."

    Sun XiaoHong slowly nodded her head and a smile slowly formed on her face. Even though it was a bitter smile, it was a smile nonethelesss.

    With a tear in her eye, she smiled and said, "I suddenly feel incredibly stupid. He knew her long before he ever met me, and they had a history long before I was ever a part of the picture. If anyone should be upset, it should be her and not me."

    "When a person can admit that they are stupid, it really shows how smart they've become." Mr. Sun said with a laugh.

    "But there is something that I also must do." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "What is that?" Mr. Sun said.

    "I have to go along with him, I just have to." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "That is fine, except ..." Mr. Sun said as he turned to face Li XunHuan.

    Li XunHuan smiled and said, "Since she said that she just has to go, then I guess that she must go."

    "It took me almost sixty years before I learned not to argue with women. It seems that you've caught on much more quickly." Mr. Sun said with a laugh.

    Li XunHuan stood up and said, "Since we have to go, let us get ready immediately. You..."

    "Don't assume that all women are slow and indecisive. Some women are just as to the point as men are. Once they've said that they'll go then they'll go." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "When you've arrived there, don't forget to visit your second uncle and see what the situation is like." Mr. Sun said.

    "I will ..." Sun XiaoHong said. She caught a glance at Li XunHuan and said, "If he doesn't want me to go inside with him, then I'll wait for him with second uncle."

    "Second Hero Sun has been living outside Happy Cloud Manor for over twelve years, do you know why?" Li XUnHuan asked.

    He always thought that this was somewhat strange.

    Twelve years ago was about the same time that he had decided to leave his house forever. This was about the same time as when Hunchback Sun had decided to take up residence across the street. No matter how much he thought about it, Li XunHuan just couldn't figure out the connection.

    Hunchback Sun had no relations with the Li family, nor did he have any relations with Long Xiao4Yun. Lin ShiYin was an orphan since birth and was taken in by the Li family at an early age.

    She was an extremely introverted person. She had probably never left that manor in her entire life, much less have any relations with prominent figures in the martial arts world.

    If Hunchback Sun was acting on the order of others, who exactly had instructed him to stand guard outside Happy Cloud Manor?

    What exactly was Hunchback Sun trying to protect?

    There was probably only one person in the entire world who knew the answers to all this, and that person was old Mr. Sun.

    He only hoped that Mr. Sun would reveal this secret to him.

    But he was about to be disappointed.

    Mr. Sun put his pipe to his mouth and began to take another puff.

    Sun XiaoHong looked at her grandpa for a second and then said, "There's something that I've always found really strange."

    Li XunHuan looked at her and waited for her to continue.

    "Long Xiao3Yun cut off his own hand in front of ShangGuan JinHong. Did you know about this?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan nodded his head and sighed, "He was always a very peculiar child, even his actions are rather peculiar."

    "That he could cut off his own hand is not what I find weird." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Huh?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "At the time, ShangGuan JinHong had every intention to kill him. He acted first so that he could prevent this. By doing so, not only did he save his own life, but he also made himself look better as well by saving the life of his father." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Sun XiaoHong sighed and continued, "This shows how intelligent and smart he is. But he has always been smart and crafty, this is not what I find strange."

    "Then what is it that you find strange?" Li XunHuan said.

    "His martial arts had already been crippled by you. His strength should be much weaker than a normal person, correct?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "I have always wondered whether I had done the right thing back then." Li XunHuan said.

    "Human bones are quite thick. Only someone with extremely strong wrists would be able to cut off their own hand in one clean swipe. Unless they were using an incredibly sharp and precious sword." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "It wasn't such a sword?" Li XunHuan said.

    "Absolutely not!" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "But once he swung his sword, his hand fell off immediately." Li XunHuan said.

    "He appeared as if he didn't use a single ounce of strength at all." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "You really are more careful than I am. After hearing your explanation, I do find it kind of weird." Li XunHuan said.

    "In addition, if a normal person had their hand cut off, there's no way they could stand the pain and would definitely faint." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Right, even the strongest of men wouldn't be able to bear the pain, unless they had an extremely powerful inner strength base." Li XunHuan said.

    "But Long Xiao3Yun is just a powerless little child, how could he possibly bear the pain of cutting off his own hand?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan had stopped talking, but his eyes flashed back and forth as if he had just figured something out.

    "Not only was he able to withstand the pain, but he was able to talk, and even pick up his own severed hand. How could a normal person possibly do such things?" Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Are you suggesting that he has already recovered his martial arts? That the weak appearance he normally puts up is just a show?" Li XunHuan said.

    "I don't know." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "When I crippled his martial arts, I was using a lot of force. There really is no way that he could recover, unless ..." Li XunHuan said.

    He looked at Sun XiaoHong and said, "Unless the stories are really true, that there really is a long lost martial arts manual hidden somewhere inside Happy Cloud Manor, and that Long Xiao3Yun had somehow stumbled upon it."

    "I don't know." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Is the reason Second hero Sun stood guard outside Happy Cloud Manor all these years somehow related to this martial arts manual?" Li XunHuan said.

    "I don't know." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Since you want him to know, why not just tell him outright." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong looked at her grandpa and said, "I'm afraid I'll be scolded."

    Mr. Sun laughed and said, "The only way that you can get a woman to keep a secret is by never telling them in the first place."

    "But I never said anything ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "Your method is even better, you didn't have to say anything yourself, but made me reveal it to him instead." Mr. Sun said.

    "Even if I did tell, I would only tell him. He ... he's not an outsider." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "He's not an outsider."

    When Li XunHuan heard these words, he really didn't know how to feel.

    He knows that he already owes so much in this life that he won't ever be able to repay.

    When a woman no longer considers you an outsider, then it means that she is already set on you. Even if you grew long legs and turned into a horse, you could forget about ever being able to escape.

    Mr. Sun's tone suddenly became serious as he said, "There really is a martial arts manual hidden in Happy Cloud Manor, this is not just a rumor."

    "Who does it belong to? How come I've never heard about this?" Li XunHuan said.

    Mr. Sun lit up his pipe again and as the clouds of smoke circled around in all four directions, he asked, "Have you ever heard of a person by the name of Wang LianHua?"

    "I'm sure everyone in the world knows this name, how could I not have heard of him before." Li XunHuan replied.

    "Wang LianHua was originally the mortal enemy of the great Hero Shen Lang, later on the two had become the best of friends. Because Wang LianHua had always been someone who was in between good and evil. Although wicked at times, he was never completely evil. Although mischievous and greedy at times, he could also be very righteous and loyal. And although he had harmed Shen Lang on several occasions, Hero Shen had always forgiven him." Mr. Sun said.

    [NOTE: The story of Shen Lang and Wang LianHua is told in Gu Long's 'Wu Lin Wai Shi'.]

    "I've also heard that Wang LianHua had decided to retire with Shen Lang somewhere past the oceans. This had also happened a very long time ago." Li XunHuan said.

    "Correct, Shen Lang had convinced Wang LianHua to reform his ways in the end." Mr. Sun said.

    He sighed and continued, "It is very easy to kill someone, but much harder to get them to change. Hero Shen was definitely an amazing person. If you had been born a few years earlier, I'm sure that the two of you would have been great friends."

    Li XunHuan was unable to restrain the look of admiration in his eyes that he had for Shen Lang. But little did he know that for generations to come, his heroic name and story, and the admiration that he would receive, would definitely not be less than that of the great Hero Shen.

    "Shen Lang was an amazing talent, but Wang LianHua was not your average person either. Otherwise, how could he have become Hero Shen's greatest rival?" Mr. Sun said.

    If there was a great difference between two people in terms of intelligence and talent, although they could be friends, there is no way that they could ever end up as rivals. That is why ShangGuan JinHong was the only one who was qualified to be Li XunHuan's arch rival.

    "I've heard that he was one of the most gifted individuals in the martial arts world. Not only in the martial arts, but in scholarly aspects as well. His knowledge of many subjects was broad and deep, he was unmatched in the realm." Li XunHuan said.

    "Correct, he was well versed in astrology and divination, music, chess, literature, and art. He was also an expert in medicine as well as disguise. Ten people couldn't learn all the things that he had, yet he mastered them all himself." Mr. Sun said.

    He sighed and continued, "But because his interests were so vast, he never fully devoted himself to the martial arts. Otherwise, with his intelligence and talent, he probably would not have been beaten at the hands of Shen Lang."

    Li XunHuan suddenly thought of Ah Fei.

    Was Ah Fei's talent even greater than Wang LianHua? Because he only focused on one field, the sword. His sword's potential was boundless and was well on its way to becoming virtually invincible.

    "It is unfortunate that the talented always choose to do stupid things."

    Li XunHuan let out a sigh and didn't want to think about it any further.

    "After Wang LianHua had reformed his ways, he realized that all the he had learned was not only too mixed and diluted, but also too unorthodox. He had originally planned to put his 'LianHua Compendium' to the torch." Mr. Sun said.

    "'LianHua Compendium'?" Li XunHuan said.

    "It was a complete volume of all the knowledge that he had accumulated during his lifetime." Mr. Sun.

    "Why did he want to burn it?" Li XuanHuan said.

    End of Chapter 77

  20. #80
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern NJ


    Chapter 78 - A Horrific Battle

    Li XunHuan wondered why Wang LianHua had decided to burn the manual containing his entire life's work.

    Mr. Sun explained, "Because not only did it contain his martial arts theories, it also contained his art of using poisons, appearance-changing disguise methods, insect summoning and hoarding methods from the Miao tribes, and soul-possessing hypnosis techniques from Persia ..."

    He sighed and continued, "If such a book were to fall into the wrong hands, the consequences would be dire."

    "Yes it really would be catastrophic." Li XunHuan said.

    "But this book was the blood and sweat of his entire life's work, he just couldn't bear to destroy it. So before he left to retire from the world, he entrusted the book to someone who he knew he could definitely rely on." Mr. Sun said.

    After hearing this, Li XunHuan slowly pieced the story together in his mind and concluded that the martial arts manual hidden within Happy Cloud Manor must be the 'LianHua Compendium'.

    But there were still a few things he couldn't understand, such as, who did Wang LianHua entrust this manual to?

    "He entrusted it to you!" Mr. Sun said.

    A look of shock came over Li XunHuan's face as he exclaimed, "Me?"

    Mr. Sun laughed and said, "Beside Li TanHua, who else in the world is more qualified to give this manual to?"

    Mr. Sun continued, "When he entrusted you with the 'LianHua Compendium', not only did he want you to protect it for him, he also wanted you to find an incredibly gifted and kind-hearted disciple to whom to give it to, so that his legacy could live on."

    "But I do not know about this at all." Li XunHuan said.

    "Because at that time you had already decided to leave." Mr. Sun said.

    "Twelve years ago ... right. That time I had to make a trip to the border regions, and returned with severe injuries. If it weren't for Long Xiao4Yun who had saved my life, I would've ..." Li XunHuan said.

    At that point, he suddenly felt like there was something in his throat and he couldn't say another word.

    This was one of the things in his life that he would never forget.

    It was because of that event that his entire life had changed ... from happiness to misery!

    "Although Wang LianHua didn't see you, he was able to meet with Ms. Lin. Because he was in a rush to leave, he couldn't wait any longer and had to leave the 'LianHua Compendium' with her." Mr. Sun explained.

    No one understood the relationships between men and women better than Wang LianHua. He was able to recognize that Lin ShiYin and Li XunHuan were more than just acquaintances.

    But how come Lin ShiYin had never brought this incident to his attention before?

    "Where did elder hear this story from, is the source reliable?" Li XunHuan asked.

    "Definitely reliable." Mr. Sun said.

    Sun XiaoHong couldn't help but blurt out, "We heard this from second uncle himself. When old master Wang visited Happy Cloud Manor to see Ms. Lin, my second uncle was waiting right outside."

    She sighed and continued, "Since that day forth, my second uncle has never set a single foot outside that place!"

    "Was he instructed by Wang LianHua to keep an eye on me?" Li XunHuan asked.

    "Since master Wang was willing to entrust this heavy responsibility with you, of course he wouldn't have doubts about you. But he was not entirely confident in your martial arts at the time, he was afraid that once word leaked out, there would be many people who would try to come steal the manual. That's why he instructed my second brother to stay there just in case you were in need of help." Mr. Sun said.

    "During the time when my second uncle wandered the realm, he had once been saved by old master Wang. My uncle had always been a person who showed gratitude so when old master Wang asked this favor of him, he was much more than willing to help." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "But afterwards, he had discovered that Ms. Lin had never given you the manual. And since you had left for the border regions, he became increasingly worried and never dared leave that place." Mr. Sun added.

    "Second Hero Sun is really a man of his word. He treats favors asked by others as if they were his own business and concern. Except ..." Li XunHuan said.

    "How would Second Hero Sun know that Ms. Lin had never given me the 'LianHua Compendium'? Even I had no idea of such a thing." he added.

    Mr. Sun took another puff from his pipe and replied, "If even you didn't know, then how would I know?"

    Li XunHuan had nothing more to say.

    He never thought that Lin ShiYin would hide something like this from him.

    "Not only was Wang LianHua able to kill a person, he had ways to save a person as well. The medical and healing methods of his were sublime. One could say that he was able to bring the dead to life and put meat on bones." Mr. Sun said.

    "Long Xiao3Yun is Lin ShiYin's only son, a mother will do anything for her son, that's why I'm afraid that she ..." Sun XiaoHong said.

    She didn't continue on.

    Li XunHuan understood what she was trying to say ... anyone would've understood what she was trying to say.

    Lin ShiYin must have given this 'LianHua Compendium' to her son, she must have kept its existence a secret for an extremely long time.

    But why hadn't she ever told him about this?

    The first time that Li XunHuan saw her, she was just a child.

    It was snowing that day.

    The plum blossoms in the courtyard had just bloomed, the snow underneath the plum tree was particularly pure and white.

    At the time Li XunHuan was under the plum tree building a snowman. He was searching around for the blackest, brightest lumps of coal that he was preparing to use for the snowman's eyes.

    This was one of the happiest times of his life.

    It wasn't that he loved making snowmen, he only built snow men to enjoy the moment when he could lay in its eyes. That fat clumsy pile of snow would suddenly turn into something that had some semblance of life. And he would just feel an indescribable satisfaction and happiness from it.

    He had always loved to create, and had always hated destruction.

    He had always been passionate about life.

    And he would always secretly knock down the snow man because he was afraid that another person would steal this happiness from him. But he didn't understand back then that certain kinds of happiness can't be taken away by other people.

    Later on he would understand that happiness was like a treasure vase, the more that you gave to others, the more that you would have yourself.

    Suffering was the same.

    If you want others to share in your pain, your suffering would just increase.

    The snow man's face was round.

    He was contemplating where to put its eyes. His extremely sick mother who rarely left her bed suddenly walked into the courtyard with a young child clothed in a red robe at her side.

    It was a scarlet red, brighter than the reddest plum blossoms.

    But the child's face was pale, paler than the white snow.

    Red and white were always his favorite colors. White represented purity, while red represented passion.

    The first time that he saw her, he felt an unspeakable compassion and pity towards her. He felt like he just had to go over and grab her hand lest she be blown away by the wind.

    "This is your aunt's daughter. Your aunt had to leave for a faraway place, so from now on she will be staying with us." his mother told him.

    "You always wanted a sister, now I've found one for you. You must always be good to her and never let her be upset."

    But it was as if he didn't hear what his mother said at all.

    Because that little girl had already run to his side and stared at the snow man that he was making.

    "Why doesn't he have eyes?" she asked.

    "Would you like to put on his eyes?" he asked.

    She nodded her head.

    He gave the two dark pieces of coal to her.

    It was the first time that he shared his happiness with another person.

    From that time forward, he would always share everything that he had with her. Even when other people would give him cookies, he would always keep them in his pockets. When he finally saw her he would break the piece in half to share with her.

    Just as long as he could see that look of joy in her eyes, he felt that the happiness he experienced could not be replaced by anything else in the world.

    He was willing to share his own life with her.

    She felt the same way. He knew it. He believed it so.

    Even during the times when they were apart, he always felt deep down inside that he was the only one who could share sadness, happiness, secrets, and everything with her.

    He believed it so, that is until now ...

    A narrow alley, snow had accumulated from the day before.

    The snow had begun to melt, the ground was muddy and wet. There was a dry path along the wall but Li XunHuan purposely walked in the muddy snow. He enjoyed the soft, comforting feeling of his feet sloshing in the mud.

    For some reason it calmed his mood.

    In the past he had always hated mud, he would have rather walked around in a big circle than walk on a muddy path.

    But now he suddenly realized that mud could have its endearing aspects as well. It quietly endured your trampling while at the same time softly enveloping your feet in its protective grasp.

    Weren't there some people in this world who were like mud? They constantly endure the hate and resentment of others, while never holding a grudge and never retaliating ...

    If there wasn't mud and soil in this world, how would seeds ever sprout? How would trees ever grow?

    They never showed hate or resentment because they are very well aware of their own self-worth.

    Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and lifted his head.

    The walls looked like they had been freshly cleaned, but the sign on top of Hunchback Sun's shop looked worn and ancient.

    From where he stood, he couldn't see anyone inside.

    It was still light out so of course he couldn't make out any candle or lantern light either.

    "When night arrives, would the lonely light in that small building still be lit?"

    Li XunHuan's mind wandered off thinking about things he didn't want to think about again. For the past two years he had always sat in that chair in the corner watching and waiting for that lonely light.

    Hunchback Sun always accompanied him quietly on the side. He never spoke, nor did he ever ask.

    Sun XiaoHong let out a sigh as well and said, "Dinner time hasn't arrived yet so the shop should be pretty empty. I wonder what second uncle is up to now? Is he busy cleaning the tables?"

    Hunchback Sun was not cleaning the tables.

    He would never clean those tables again!

    They could see a hand on the table.

    The hand was holding on to a wash cloth, and holding on very tightly.

    The door was shut closed. They knocked but there was no answer, they called out but there was still no answer.

    Sun XiaoHong was even more worried than Li XunHuan, she knocked the door down, and saw that hand.

    A hand that had been cut off at the wrist.

    Sun XiaoHong was startled and rushed over to the side of the table.

    This was the same table that Li XunHuan had always drank wine at for the past two years.

    The color of Li XunHuan's face turned pale, he recognized that hand. For the past two years that hand had poured him wine a countless number of times.

    When he was drunk, that hand would help him to his room.

    When he fell sick, that hand would brew medicine for him.

    But now, that hand had changed into a dry shriveled piece of dead flesh. The blood had already congealed, and the tendons had already contracted. The fingers which grasped on so tightly to that wash cloth seemed like they were grasping on for dear life.

    Was he scrubbing the tables when someone suddenly cut off his hand?

    The table looked sparkling clean and shiny.

    When he was wiping this particular table, was he thinking of Li XunHuan?

    Li XunHuan suddenly felt a wrenching pain in his chest.

    Sun XiaoHong's tears had started to stream down her cheek as she asked, "You know who this hand belongs to?"

    Li XunHuan nodded his head slowly.

    "Where is he ... where is his body?" Sun XiaoHong said trembling.

    She suddenly rushed out. The small shop was empty, completely empty.

    When she came back in, Li XunHuan was still standing by that table, his gaze still fixed on that hand.

    Four of its fingers were crumpled within the wash cloth. One of its fingers pointed outwards, straight as an arrow, towards a window in the shop.

    That window was wide open.

    Li XunHuan looked up and stared out that window.

    Sun XiaoHong followed his gaze and looked out the window as well. Suddenly the two of them ran to the window and leapt out at the same time.

    Outside, the cold wind was chilling to the bones, even the water in the gutters had frozen over.

    There was a small alley that was not much wider than the gutters. Perhaps it wasn't an alley and was really a gutter.

    They followed it to its end and saw a tiny door. They didn't know to whose house it led, no one probably used this door at all.

    It was a dead alley anyway.

    The back door was unlatched. On the handle was a red palm print, one that had been stained red with blood.

    Sun XiaoHong rushed over and examined it, and then turned around and looked at Li XunHuan.

    Her lips were already starting to bleed from her biting down too hard, she said, "ShangGuan JinHong already calculated that you would come to this place."

    Li XunHuan didn't open his mouth.

    "He knew that you wouldn't go to Happy Cloud Manor first because you wouldn't want to see Long Xiao4Yun. He probably figured that you'd come to check up on second uncle first." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan didn't open his mouth.

    "All of this is a trap that was purposely set up for you." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan's mouth was shut tight.

    "So you mustn't enter this door." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "And you?" Li XunHuan suddenly remarked.

    "It won't matter for me, I'm not the one that ShangGuan JinHong is trying to kill." Sun XiaoHong said.

    "So you can enter." Li XunHuan said.

    "There's no way I can't enter." Sun XiaoHong said.

    Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and said, "It looks like you don't understand me as much as ShangGuan JinHong does."

    "Oh?" Sun XiaoHong replied.

    "If he really as setting up a trap for me, he would know that I would definitely enter this door. Even if someone had hacked off my two legs, I would still crawl through this door!" Li XunHuan said.

    Sun XiaoHong stared at him, her warm tears started to flow again.

    She suddenly walked over and wrapped her arms around him, her warm tears streamed onto his face.

    She wiped his face off, as if she was using her own tears to wipe away his tired weariness. Because there really was only one thing in the world that could alleviate a man's weariness - the tears of his lover.

    Li XunHuan's tense arms and legs started to loosen. He finally couldn't help but reach out and hold her as well.

    The two of them held each other very tightly.

    Because it was the first time that the two of them had embraced, but it could very well be the last!

    It almost seemed as if the sun didn't want to shine onto that alley, it was extremely dim and murky.

    It was even darker behind the door.

    Once they pushed the door open, an extremely pungent odor passed through that made them want to throw up.

    It was the smell of rotting flesh and blood!

    Then, they heard an extremely weird sound. It sounded like an animal gasping for its last breath before it died. Or more like ghosts of the underworld screaming to be let free.

    But the sound really did seem to be coming from the ground!

    There were twenty some odd people under them, they gnashed their teeth at each other and were like animals fighting for their lives.

    No one opened their mouths, not even under knife point would anyone dare to open their mouths.

    There were originally twenty-six of them. Nine had already fallen. The seventeen left were separated on two sides. The seemingly stronger side far outnumbered the weaker side.

    They numbered twelve and all were clothed in yellow. All of them were armed with rather strange and unusual weaponry, one of them even had an iron abacus.

    The other side originally had nine people but now there were only five. One of them was blind.

    There was also a large burly man with a red sash, he was completely unarmed.

    His body was his weapon!

    There was a cold flash of light, a fish-scale sabre hacked into his left shoulder. It was like an ax chopping into wood, the sharp blade of the sabre was stuck into his flesh but was caught in his bones!

    The man in yellow tried but couldn't pull his sabre out as the burly man struck him on the chest with his palm. He could almost hear the sound of his own bones being smashed.

    *PENG*, his entire body was sent flying.

    But the burly man could no longer lift his left arm. He suddenly shouted, "You guys escape first, I'll stay here and hold them off. Hurry!"

    None of them retreated. None of them answered him either.

    One of the people on the floor suddenly got up, and said in a coarse voice, "We can't retreat, even if we die we have to take him out with us!"

    They were in an underground tunnel, lanterns were lit all year long.

    The lanterns were laid into the wall. Under the dim light, you could make out that she was female, a tall, large, and fat woman. She had a scar that went from her eye to the corner of her mouth.

    Her right eye was blind, she only had her left eye remaining as it stared at the burly man.

    There was nothing in that eye except vengeance, a vengeance that wouldn't disappear even in death.

    "Lady Butcher", Madame Weng!

    And who was this large burly man? Could it be the person that hadn't been heard from in many years, Tie ChuanJia?

    It really was him!

    With the exception of Tie ChuanJia, who else in the world had such a hard skeleton?

    Madame Weng struggled to climb to her feet, she stared at Tie ChuanJia and said mockingly, "This person is ours. No one else may lay a single finger on him, no one!"

    *SHAN*, there was another cold flash of light as she fell to the floor once again.

    There was no way that she would get up this time!

    Here eyes were still wide open, and they were still staring at Tie ChuanJia.

    She died very painlessly and very fearlessly.

    Because the only thing that was on her mind was vengeance. Besides vengeance, she felt nothing else at all.

    Tie ChuanJia gritted his teeth as another sword pierced into his body. He stamped his feet and said, "You people really aren't going to go? If all of you are dead, who will take me away?"

    The blind man laughed coldly and said, "Even if we're all dead, we'll still take your soul away with us!"

    Although his martial arts were even more formidable then those who weren't blind, he was still a blind man. He relied completely on his ears to listen to movements and distinguish the position of his oppoenents.

    But whenever anyone talked, their ears are never as sharp as usual. Before he finished his two sentences, a tiger hook lashed out and opened up a large wound on his chest.

    The hook was twirled and raised up as flesh and blood hung down from it.

    Tie ChuanJia almost couldn't hold it in and wanted to vomit.

    Although he had killed before, he was never that vicious. Although his skeleton was extremely hard, his heart was very soft.

    But now, his hands had turned soft as well, and he could no longer kill.

    He suddenly shouted out, "And what if I were to die at your hands?"

    The blind man laughed and said, "We had nothing to do with what happened here, we only came her for you."

    Another person said in a harsh voice, "If the 'Eight Righteous Ones of the Central Plains' can't take your life with our own hands, our deaths would be in vain!"

    This person's face was full of pockmarks, he carried two sabres, one short and one long, and was the descendant of the Northern Sect's 'Yin Yang Sabre', GongSun Yu.

    Tie ChuanJia suddenly started to laugh. At a time like this, why would anyone be laughing?

    His laugh really made people's hairs stand on its ends, he said, "So you only wanted to kill me with your own hands, then that's easy ..."

    He swung his hand backwards and pushed back one of the men in yellow. He then suddenly ran straight towards the blade of GongSun Yu.

    GongSun Yu was startled as his short sabre plunged into Tie ChuanJia's chest!

    He stood firmly and panted as he said, "All my debts to you have now been repayed, why aren't you all retreating yet?"

    GongSun Yu's face writhed in confusion, he suddenly let out a roar and pulled his sabre out from his chest.

    A rain of blood sprayed onto his chest.

    His roar was suddenly cut short as he fell down onto the floor, on his back was a three-foot long floral spear.

    The red tassel at the head of the spear was still shaking unceasingly.

    Tie ChuanJia fell over as well, as he kept repeating the same words from his mouth.

    "All my debts to you have now been repayed, why aren't you all retreating yet?"

    He watched as another spear stabbed towards him, he didn't try to block nor did he try to avoid it.

    End of Chapter 78

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