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Thread: Flying Dagger, The Flying Dagger Reappears 《飛刀,又見飛刀》 - Gu Long

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    Senior Member whiteskwirl's Avatar
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    Default Flying Dagger, The Flying Dagger Reappears 《飛刀,又見飛刀》 - Gu Long

    Flying Dagger, The Flying Dagger Reappears

    《飛刀,又見飛刀》

    Gu Long



    Table of Contents
    Regarding the Flying Dagger
    Preface
    Prologue
    Part 1 - The Wanderer's Blood and Tears
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4
    Chapter 5
    Part 2 - The Past Nine Years Went Like Smoke
    Chapter 1
    Part 3 - A Battle to Melt the Soul
    Chapter 1
    Part 4 - The Price
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Part 5 - Moonlight Like Snow, Moonlight Like Blood
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Epilogue


    Since there is currently a new TV adaptation, I thought might as well start a translation of the novel. This is the only story in the Dagger Li series not to be translated. Although Gu Long only dictated this while Ding Qing wrote it, I still think it's worth translating.

    Wulin Waishi is still my main project and will be unaffected by this one. This is a secondary project and so updates will be slower.
    Last edited by whiteskwirl; 12-08-16 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Regarding the Flying Dagger

    REGARDING THE FLYING DAGGER

    1

    Dao (knife, dagger, sabre) is not just a weapon, its ranked first among the Eighteen Weapons.

    But in a way it is inferior to the jian (double-edged sword), it lacks the swords elegance, mystery, and romance, and is not as esteemed as the sword.

    A sword sometimes is a gorgeous ornament, at other times is symbol of identity and status.

    The dao is not.

    The sword is graceful, belonging to nobles, the dao rather belongs to the common people.

    The sword is associated with the imperial court, with the deep remote mountains, or among white clouds.

    The dao is closely linked with human existence.

    A person comes into the world and begins by having his umbilical cord cut by scissors (jiandao), and then cannot be rid of dao: they are used to cut vegetables, for farming, to cut cloth, to cut hair, to trim ones beard, to trim ones nails, to cut meat, to gut fish, to cut cigars, to give warning, to flaunt ones strength, to execute criminalsnone of these things can be done without a dao.

    You cant live life without a dao, its as vital to life as rice or water.

    Whats strange is that in peoples mind the dao is far more ruthless, violent, ferocious, savage, and more staunchly fearsome than the sword.

    2

    There are many kinds of dao: broadsword, twin sabres, pudao, monks knife, sawtooth sabre, machete, executioners sabre (ghost-head sabre), goosequill sabre, Five Phoenix Rising Sun Sabre, Fish Scale Golden Sabre.

    The flying dagger is another kind, and though it is seldom written about in the official histories, yet this just adds to its mystery and legend.

    As for whether the push dagger counts as a dao, I cant say.

    3

    Li Xunhuan is a fictional character, and his Little Li Flying Dagger of course is fictional as well.

    Everyone believes there couldnt be a real-life Li Xunhuan in the world, nor could there be such a weapon as the Little Li Flying Dagger.

    Because this character is too chivalrous, always yielding to others, and this weapon is too mysterious and fantastical, already so unrealistic.

    Because the reality people talk about is that of the living modern age, not Li Xunhuans age.

    So whether or not Li Xunhuan and his Little Li Flying Dagger are fictional or not is unimportant, whats important is whether or not this character can live in the hearts of readers and resonate with them, whether or not he can share with the reader grief, happiness, and allow them to laugh together.

    ※※※

    At first no one knew what Li Xunhuan and his flying dagger looked like, but after being put to film, they became more symbolic, more popularized.


    From every viewpoint what is popular is considered common, what is common is far away from literature and art.

    But I always felt there was nothing wrong with popularization in this modern society.

    Its better than hiding alone in your ivory tower crying to yourself.

    4

    Concerning Li Xunhuan and his flying dagger is this novel, Flying Dagger, The Flying Dagger Reappears. Of course it is closely linked to Li Xunhuans story.

    But there are some big differences between them.

    Though these two stories are tales of gratitude and revenge set within the same two generations of Li Xunhuan, yet each completely stands on its own.

    Little Li Flying Daggers story has been told many times on stage and the silver screen, and his story has been told in many novels already, this Flying Dagger story has already been made into a movie, the novel is just now being written.

    ※※※

    This is just like The Eleventh Son, first there was a movie, then there was a novel.

    This circumstance can avoid a lot of unnecessary plotlines and make the story simpler, and give it more twists and turns.

    Because film is an entire production, consuming who knows how many peoples sweat and blood, consuming who knows how much material and financial resources.

    So the frame of mind when writing the novelization to a movie is completely different [than writing a novel from scratch].

    ※※※

    Fortunately, there are two similarities between these two kinds of novels, they both hope to please the reader and arouse sympathy with him.

    I think that is one of my main goals when writing a novel.

    Of course its not my only goal.

    5

    Theres one other thing I must make clear.

    Right now my wrist injury is not yet healed, I cant write a lot at once, so I can only dictate and ask someone else to write it for me.

    This way of writing is something I was never willing to do before.

    Because this way of writing will often overlook a lot of details with regard to language and story, and lacks the personal touch when depicting human nature, sentimental feelings.

    At the very least it wont have that meticulous, indirect sentiment, the deep thoughts and feelings.

    Of course the writing will lack a bit, because the exquisiteness of Chinese writing is as exquisite man of letters sentiment.

    ※※※

    Fortunately, I need not apologize to you because with this way of writing the plot will be more smooth and tight, it wont be clumsy, boring, or longwinded.

    And clumsy, boring, and longwinded is an old shortcoming of mine often seen in my novels.

    February 12, 1981, during convalescence,

    not because of alcoholism. Not under the influence of alcohol.

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    Default Preface

    PREFACE


    In former years during a violent time of vicious turmoil, among the jianghu a flying dagger suddenly appeared, no one knew its form or style, and no one could describe its power and speed.

    In the eyes of men it was already not only a weapon that could quell unrest, but was a symbol of justice and honor. This kind of power of course was the greatest and strongest, invincible.

    Later, after the turmoil had subsided, it disappeared, like the surging waves disappear in a calm, peaceful sea.

    But everyone knew that if another disturbance began within the jianghu, it would appear again, and as before would give people inexhaustible faith and hope.

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    Default Prologue

    PROLOGUE


    1

    Duan Bafang was seven foot, nine inches tall (Chinese units of measure), a hard as nails fellow strong as thirteen men, no one in the world could match him.

    Duan Bafang this year was fifty-one years old. At thirty he was already commanding the seven major sects north of the Yangzi River, forty-two camps, and controlled the four major security agency chiefs. His fame and influence flourished, he was unequaled for a time.

    So far he was beyond a doubt one of the most important figures among the jianghu, and there were few whose wugong could compare to his.

    However, last year three days before New Years Eve an extremely strange thing happened to him.

    What it was almost no one would believe.

    ※※※

    Duan Bafang on that day was scared to death by a piece of white paper that contained merely a drawing of a small dagger.

    2

    Three days before New Years Eve, the year quickly approaching its end, the new year just around the corner.

    During that time everyone who was away from home had only one thing on his mind, to return home.

    Duan Bafang was no exception.

    He had just intervened to settle one of the biggest disputed in the jianghu in the last ten years and had received the heartfelt gratitude and praise of the Thirteen major sects of Huaiyang, and had drank the Luzhou wine they had specially prepared for him, he drank no less than six catties.

    He was just exiting Zhenhai Tavern with his friends and retinue when his entire body flushed with heat. From his point of view his life was like a bottomless cup of fine wine just waiting for him to slowly enjoy.

    But then he suddenly died.

    You could say he died under his own knife, as if his life had already completely lost all interest for him.

    ※※※

    For someone like that to end up like he did, who would have thought it.

    3

    Duan Bafang died after receiving a letter. There was no address, nor any signature.

    The letter contained no words at all, only a drawing of a small dagger drawn with an old worn-out brush on a piece of especially large paper. From the drawing no one could make out the style of the dagger nor its form, but everyone could tell it was a dagger.

    The letter was delivered by a down-and-out youth, on the road in the gloomy night, though there was a little faint light, yet no one could make out the persons appearance or face.

    Luckily everyone could tell it was a person.

    ※※※

    He walked out from the gloomiest street, walking very well-behaved.

    Then he very mannerly walked up to Duan Bafang and respectfully handed him the letter with both hands.

    Then Duan Bafangs face changed, as if someone had suddenly jabbed him in the throat with a red-hot iron bar.

    Then everyones face changed, becoming more strangely grotesque than even Duan Bafangs.

    Because everyone saw Duan Bafang suddenly draw a knife and with a well-practiced, fast and nimble motion brutally stabbed the knife into his own belly, as if he were taking out his most hated enemy.

    Who could explain something like this?

    If that incident was inexplicable, then what happened to Duan Bafang next was even more inexplicable, more unbelievable, more unimaginable.

    ※※※

    Duan Bafang died violently in the street three days before New Years Eve, but on the first day of the New Year he was perfectly alive.

    To put it another way, Duan Bafang didnt die three days before New Years Eve, but rather died on the evening of the first day of the New Year.

    A person only has one life, Duan Bafang was a person, how could he die twice?

    4

    Who knew where the youth who delivered the letter had went? Duan Bafang, seven feet, nine inches tall, weighing a hundred-forty-three jin, imposing and strong, already lay in a pool of blood.

    No one could do anything, who could say anything?

    The first to speak was the calm and quick-witted Second Master Tu, one of the Three Gallants of Huaiyang.

    Quick, quick go find a doctor! he said.

    Actually, he already knew finding a doctor was already no use, what they really need right now was a coffin.

    ※※※

    The coffin was sped double-time over land and sea, shipped back to Duan Bafangs hometown, it was already dusk.

    Dusk of the first day of the New Year.

    First day of the New year, mothers hands slick with oil, childrens joyful faces.

    First day of the New Year, new clothes, fresh flowers, wintersweet, fresh fruit, firecrackers, dumplings, foil ingots, New Year money for the children.

    First day of the New Year, wish blessings, happiness, the sound of laughter.

    First day of the New Year was a day of many variations and many festivities, but Bafang Manor received a coffin.

    This coffin, though worth over a thousand taels of silver, after all it was still a coffin.

    At that moment, not having a coffin was absolutely better than having one.

    5

    Bafang Manor was extensive. Large in scope, row upon row of houses, who knew how many buildings and how many storeys.

    Bafang Manos main entrance was two zhang four chi tall, one zhang eight chi wide, red lacquered and adorned with gold rings, stone lions out front.

    The coffin was carried in through this entrance, carried in on long poles by thirty-six hefty men.

    Thirty-six hefty men wearing white hemp mourning clothes, white cloth belts, barefoot in straw sandals, carrying the shiny black-lacquered coffin inside the compound, then slowly backing out. They backtracked a hundred-fifty-six steps before exiting the main gate.

    Then the big gate was immediately shut.

    From the rear compound thirty-six men with quick, short steps ran out, lifted the coffin, and carried it back to the rear compound.

    After the rear compound was another rear compound.

    After the rear compound after the rear compound was another rear compound.

    Within the deepest, final compound, the courtyard was deep, deep and dark like ink.

    Within the inkcolored courtyard only a single lamplight, a single lamplight setting off a sheet of pale white.

    A mourning hall was always like that, always pale white like that.

    Thirty-six hefty men brought the coffin into the mourning hall and placed it before the pale-white widow and children, then they began their retreat, going back with short, quick steps.

    They didnt exit doorway.

    From the hands of the widow and children who looked like they could be blown over by a gust of wind suddenly shot out dozens of light yellow light, and the thirty-six hefty men, hard as lions, all fell down.

    Once they fell they were dead.

    They were dead as soon as their bodies hit the ground, once down they would not ever get up again.

    ※※※

    Duan Bafang had a wife, of course only one wife.

    Duan Bafang had concubines, twenty-nine of them.

    Duan Bafang had sons, forty of them.

    Duan Bafang had daughters, sixteen of them.

    Now in the mourning hall, aside from his wife, concubines, children, all eighty-six of them, there were two other people.

    Those two people seemed to be very, very, very old, like they should have already died many, many, many times already. Their faces were completely devoid of expression.

    Only blade scars, no expressions.

    But every blade scar could be considered a kind of expression, expressions depicting the complicated sorrows from the glint and flash of cold steel, the ardor of love and hate, gratitude and enmity of past events.

    Thousands upon thousands of blade scars, were thousands upon thousands of expressions.

    Thousands upon thousands of expressions became no expression.

    ※※※

    The dark courtyard originally had only a single lamplight, within the mourning hall. Before the bier, on the spirit table.

    Suddenly, a dismal cold breeze blew in and extinguished the lamplight.

    When the lamp was re-lit, the coffin was gone.

    6

    The secret room was constructed from gray stone bricks, gray like the bones of the dead.

    The lamplight was also this color.

    The two old people lifted the coffin and entered, the entrance to the secret room closing automatically behind them. They carefully set the coffin down and quietly looked at it. The blade scars and wrinkles on their faces seemed deeper, as if they had already interweaved to form a desolate and plaintive pattern.

    They quietly stood there and watched for a long time, no one could decipher the patterns of their faces, so no one knew what they were thinking, what they wanted to do.

    They did something that no one would have ever expected.

    Because they suddenly bashed their heads against the stone wall.

    ※※※

    The lamplight flickered like ghost fire.

    The lid of the coffin unexpectedly moved, lightly and slowly, then from within the coffin a hand extended.

    The hand lightly and slowly pushed open the coffin, then Duan Bafang got out and stood up.

    He looked around the secret room, his face revealing a satisfied and complacent smile.

    Because he knew he was now absolutely safe.

    Right now among the jianghu everyone knew he had cut his own throat and died in the street, all the enmity from old enemies when he was alive had disappeared along with his death.

    Now no one would pursue him to seek vengeance, because he was already dead.

    A dead man who was alive and well in the world. Of course this secret couldnt leak out, but every person who knew this secret was now dead, really dead.

    Whose mouth was more reliable than the mouth of a dead man?

    Duan Bafang let out a long sigh and pulled a copper ring on the stone wall, opening another secret door. His face suddenly changed.

    He assumed he would be looking at previously-prepared food, water and wine, clothing, and household utensils.

    But he didnt see any of that.

    He assumed he would never again see someone pursue him to seek vengeance.

    But he did see one.

    ※※※

    His face changed horribly, but his bodily functions didnt change.

    His muscles elasticity and his resourceful wugong was maintained at its peak state, at any time under any circumstance he could pierce the belly of a mosquito with a needle.

    Such a pity that this time his reaction was not quick enough.

    By the time he started moving he already saw the blade flash.

    A flying dagger.

    He knew he had seen the flying dagger that no matter what he did, no matter how he tried to dodge, he could not dodge it.

    So he died.

    A person using his own prepared knife to stab his own stomach, even though blood filled the ground, hes not necessarily really dead.

    A knife can be fitted with a spring mechanism.

    But the one he saw this time was a flying dagger, the flying dagger that never misses.

    So this time he really died.

    ※※※

    As a result, the flying dagger reappeared among the jianghu.


    END PROLOGUE
    Last edited by whiteskwirl; 12-08-16 at 10:30 AM.

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    Thank you.

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    Thank you.

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    Default Part 1, Chapter 1

    PART 1: THE WANDERERS BLOOD AND TEARS


    CHAPTER 1



    1

    A mountain town.

    This small town in the distant mountains, the distant mountains a thousand li away.

    ※※※

    Li Huai returned, returned to the town.

    The loess sandstorms and the people here he had long since become accustomed to.

    Because he had grown up here. He was a wanderer, he had no roots, his childhood was merely a series of nightmares, but among his nightmares what he could not forget the most was this place.

    ※※※

    A steamed bun shop doesnt necessarily just sell steamed buns, when people started calling him Old Zhang he wasnt even old.

    But he was old now.

    Every day he used his dim weak eyes, watching the sand dust roll through, appearing like the marvels that would always happen at any time along this street that he had lived on for decades.

    A marvel he never would have dreamed of really happened today.

    ※※※

    He saw a travel-worn and weary youth wearing dust-beaten clothes lazily stroll to the entrance of his small steamed bun shop.

    The steamed bun basket was piping hot with white steam, blurring Old Zhangs old eyes.

    He could only tell the youth was a good-looking young man, with a pair of sharp eyes, a very special appearance. Old Zhang had never seen such an appearance, he would dare say the youth had never been to this place before.

    Sir, Old Zhang asked, The stove has not been turned on yet, but the stuffed buns, steamed buns, and pot-stewed dishes are all ready, what would you like to eat, sir?

    I want to eat you.

    The young man spoke each word in a soft, mild voice. These words really shocked Old Zhang.

    You want to eat me? Old Zhang was simply petrified. Why do you want to eat me? Whats so tasty about me?

    Of course youre tasty, the young man said. If I didnt eat you, how could I have survived until now?

    Old Zhang looked at him in shock, then suddenly laughed, laughed loudly, laughed happily.

    So its you, you little bastard! Old Zhang smiled and all the wrinkles on his face folded up. You used to eat me everyday, ate me for many years. I havent seen you in many years, yet you still want to eat me?

    If I dont eat you who will I eat?

    The young man was really extreme, not only his words, but his actions as well.

    He really opened the steamed bun basket on Old Zhangs stall and took out every steamed and stuffed bun and ate every one.

    You really ate them?

    Of course I really ate them.

    Old Zhang laughed, Do you remember your eleventh birthday, when you snuck in here late at night and ate how many stuffed buns? I never would have guessed today you would eat even more.

    Ive been practicing.

    This young mans smile seemed to become somewhat pained, A person who has been starving for six months cant practice much else, but he can always practice this.

    Go ahead and eat! Old Zhang sighed willfully. Go ahead and eat, anyway Im already used to you eating.

    Youre of course also used to not receiving my money.

    Since youre already in the habit of not giving it, of course I must be in the habit of not receiving it. Old Zhang forced a smile, Anyway I I couldnt take any.

    ※※※

    But Old Zhangs tone was a bit different from how he usually said it.

    Because he suddenly saw something he rarely saw.

    In the street where sand dust rolled there were suddenly four round faces, round eyes, round hairbunned children, wearing big red round gowns, with glistening yellow gold rings around their necks, on their wrists a pair of shiny jade bracelets, and gold hoop earrings. They carried round plates in their round, white, plump little hands, and on the round plates was piled countless round gold ingots. With round smiles and round dimples that walked toward the steamed bun shop.

    Old Zhang was stunned.

    He had never seen such people in these parts.

    But the round little kids didnt just walk over to the shop, but carried the four plates of gold ingots to the front of the shop.

    Old Zhang looked at the pile of round gold ingots on the plates and his eyes were also round.

    Whats all this? he asked the young man. Dont tell me these ingots were sent here by you?

    Ingots? What ingots? Where are there ingots? I dont see a single ingot!

    Then what do you see? Old Zhang stared intensely at the feigning-ignorant young man. If what you see arent ingots then what are they?

    I only see steamed buns, the young man said. Its just a shame the steamed buns you gave me saved my life, while the steamed buns Im giving you cant be eaten.

    I understand what you mean.

    Old Zhang sighed for real this time.

    You want to repay me. You once said you would repay me a hundred, no a thousand times over, Old Zhang said. I believed there would come a day when you would be able to do it, but now I somewhat cant believe it.

    Why?

    Because I cant believe a young kid like you in just these few short years could amass a wealth such as this.

    The young man was handsome, but his whole face was also dusty and weary, his clothes were plain and simple, but this young man who spent money like water suddenly revealed a very mysterious smile.

    You dont believe? he said. To tell you the truth, not only do you not believe it, but even I actually dont believe it.

    Old Zhangs face was covered with wrinkles, which suddenly revealed a mysterious expression, he intentionally lowered his voice, Ive heard recently a lone robber has appeared among the jianghu whose martial arts is very strong, who is very brave, who even dares to steal the official silver from the imperial palace.

    Oh!

    You havent heard of this person?

    No.

    But his disposition is about like yours, and I know since you were little you have always had courage.

    Old Zhang looked at him, his dim-sighted eyes brimming with a cunning smile.

    If I were a great bandit being pursued by the government I would also hide out here, Old Zhang said. Who could find you hiding out in a place like this where chickens dont fly, dogs dont jump, and rabbits dont pee.

    The young man laughed, Isnt that really the truth.

    ※※※

    When the young girl appeared was when the young mans smile was at its most charming.

    In all fairness, the young mans smile was really a bit naughty, especially when looking at a young girl.

    She was angry.

    Though she wasnt riding a horse, her hand still held a horse whip. It looked like she didnt use it to whip horses but to lash people.

    She pointed the whip at the young mans nose and asked Old Zhang, Who is this person?

    Old Zhang didnt say because the young man had already cut him off, Who this person is, theres probably no one in the world who knows better than me. He caught the tip of the whip between two fingers, and used the tip to point at his own nose. My surname is Li, given name Huai. (his name, Huai, means bad, spoiled, evil, etc.)

    ※※※

    Youre bad? The young girl almost couldnt help from laughing, Even you know youre bad!

    A person named Li Huai is not necessarily a bad person, Li Huai said seriously.

    The girl seemed even more curious.

    Your name is really Li Huai?

    Really, of course it is, he said. I also have another four-character name.

    A four-character name? The girl looked at him in surprise with her big eyes. What is your four-character name?

    Li Huai Is Dead. [Translators Note: 李壞死了 is the name. 壞死 could be Huai, his name, is dead. But 壞死 can also mean extremely bad, so theres a double meaning here.]

    The girl laughed.

    Li Huai, you really are very bad.

    ※※※

    Her laugh was so so cute.

    If Li Huai was the cutest laugher among men, then this girl was definitely the cutest laugher among women.

    Li Huai looked at her crazily, as if he had already been driven to distraction.

    Just then the whip in the girls hand suddenly snapped, like a snake, and wrapped around Li Huais neck.

    Her other hand slapped him twice in the face, then gave him a leg sweep.

    And so our dandy from the Li family who had just returned after coming into some money ended up looking like a weakling, falling face-up, hitting the loess-covered street, his mouth stuffed with a large steamed bun.

    2

    Old Zhang saw Li Huai covered in dust and laughed straightaway.

    Youre not that lone robber. Old Zhang smiled crookedly, Theres no lone robber on earth as useless as you, to be manhandled like that by a girl, knocked flat.

    That girl is really mean. I didnt provoke her, I didnt offend her, why did she do me like that?

    Who says you didnt offend her? Dont tell me you really forgot who she is Old Zhang started laughing deviously, Dont tell me you forgot about the girl who wore flowered dresses who you liked to take the opportunity to put her face in the mud.

    Li Huai was shocked.

    Was that really Keke?

    Thats her.

    Li Huai smiled bitterly, I didnt foresee that she would still hate me.

    Old Zhang laughed cheerfully, Of course you didnt foresee she would become as pretty as she is now.


    END CHAPTER 1

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    thanks for tling for us.

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    Thanks very much, it'll be great to know, completing...

    Quote Originally Posted by whiteskwirl View Post
    This is the only story in the Dagger Li series not yet translated.
    I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would not have been expressed, had I not known more. 弗拉基米爾弗拉基米羅維奇納博科夫

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    More Gu Long goodness! This is great! Thank you so much! (Is there a way to already see thenew series with eng subs?)

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    I see that this translation is stalled. This book isn't so long, so if I have the time, I'll try and complete it. The OP seems to have forgotten about it.
    Last edited by kychong; 01-05-22 at 06:57 AM.

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    Chapter 2: The Moon Goddess's Blade


    1


       There are undoubtedly many different kinds of people in this world, just like there are many similar ones. They may share certain traits and be placed under the same category. They may reside in different parts of the world. They may not have even met, yet may be in many ways more alike than real brothers.
       Fang Tianhao and Duan Bafang were two very good examples.
       Fang Tianhao was almost as tall and brawny as Duan. They practiced the same "hard-styled" external martial arts. Although Fang wasn't as well known or as elevated in status in the jianghu as Duan, he was definitely a weighty, significant leader in this border region.
       There were only three things he liked in life.
       Power, a good name, and his only daughter, Keke.


       Now, in a hall as spacious as a horse field, Fang Tianhao was sitting on a pinewood chair which resembled a big stove bed, giving instructions to his trusted lackey Xiaowu in his usual raspy voice:
       "Go and write me an invitation letter. Use the gilt letter paper from the capital. Write to the man politely."
       "Write to who?" Xiaowu didn't seem happy or convinced. "Why should we be so polite to the man?"
       Boss Fang suddenly blew his top.
       "Why shouldn't we write the man a polite letter? Who do you think you are, Wu Xinliu? And who do you think I am, even if I'm Fang Tianhao? Both of us put together aren't worth even a hair of the man!"
       "You mean it?"
       "Of course."
       Boss Fang said, "The man made so much money in a few yearshe raked in millions out of nothing all by himself. How can you guys ever compare with him?"
       Xiaowu bowed his head.
       There is a kind of man who will always bow before power and wealth, and do it willingly without any qualms at all.
       Xiaowu was such a man.
       "Why don't we give ourselves a few more days to attend cordially to him? Why must we hold the banquet this evening?"
       Suddenly, rage could be seen on Boss Fang's face. Real rage.
       "You've been asking too many questions of late." He glared at the smart man before him. "You should go back home and learn how to keep your mouth shut."


    2


       It was the fifteenth day of the month. There was a moon on the fifteenth.
       Full moon.
       There was even water under the moon. Water Moon Pavilion was under the bright moon, above the rippling waters.


       Someone had even built a pond in his residential compound at a border town by the mountains. A person so extravagant should be exiled to the desert and made to dehydrate to death there.
       Boss Fang was such a person.
       The banquet was held in Water Moon Pavilion tonight in honor of a guest. The honored guest tonight was Li Huai.
       So when Li Huai first took his place on the seat of honor, he was almost as bashful as a young girl.


       A young girl must eat like any grown man. Since he had been invited to dinner, there ought to be food on the table.
       But there was no wine or dishes served on the table.
       Boss Fang could no longer sit still.
       Since he had invited a guest to dinner, there must be food on the table.
       Now why wasn't anyone serving the dishes or the wine?
       Boss Fang knew the reason in his heart, but he didn't dare to lose his temper, because the trouble stemmed from his daughter, Fang Keke.
       Keke had smashed all the plates and wine jugs they were about to serve to the ground. Because she didn't like the guest tonight.
       She told the flabbergasted servants:
       "My silly father invited to dinner tonight, not a man at all but a young bad egg," she said curtly. "Why must we invite a bad egg to dinner, and give it the food and wine reserved for human beings?"


       Fortunately, Li Huai managed in the end to have the food and wine reserved for human beings.
       So many inhuman men had the luck, so why shouldn't Li Huai be as lucky?
       Of course, the servants from the Fang kitchen had all undergone special training. They were serving the first round of dishes: four hot meat dishes, four cold plates, four stir-fried dishes, and four salad dressings were quickly put on the table.
       A sculpted plate cast from pure silver, seven inches in diameter, was placed on the tablebrought in with both hands by eight male servants dressed in teal robes and wearing plain headgears, as well as eight servant girls dressed in close-fitting scarlet blouses and silk skirts.
       After that, they retreated to the sides, waiting in attendance.
       Li Huai sighed in his heart. He couldn't help wondering why dinner was so awkward tonight.
       So many people were standing around him watching him eat, so how could he have an easy time eating? He couldn't be Li Huai (Li the Bad) if he felt easy eating like this, could he?
       If he felt easy eating like this, his name should be Li Hao (Li the Good).


       Fortunately, he couldn't have guessed the really uneasy moment was yet to come, or he would not probably be able to take even a sip of wine, or eat even a morsel of food.


    3


       Li Huai ate three mouthfuls.
       He had already drank eleven cups of wine by his second mouthful. Boss Fang and Mr. Wu were heavy drinkers too.
       The lamps lit up the room like it was daylight. Amid the warm wine and scented flowers, people were smiling. The host attended to the guest cordially, the considerate attendants opened a window.
       There was a moon outside the window. There was light from the full moon.
       Li Huai was about to toss that small wine cup aside and pour wine from the jug directly down his throat when he heard a hideous scream from a distance.


       A hideous scream, meaning someone was screaming out of utter grief, terror, pain, and desperation.
       Such hideous screams will always sound unpleasant to the ear.
       But this scream Li Huai was hearing could not be described as just grievous, terrifying, painful, desperate, or unpleasant.
       The scream he was now hearing was heartrendingripping his flesh, skin, bones, marrows, liver, organs, blood meridians, sinews, nails, and hair apart.
       Even his soul had been ripped apart.


       Because the scream he was hearing now sounded like a drum beating in battle beating one round, another round, and a third...
       Wine splashed out from his cup.
       Everyone's complexion started to look like the skin of a dead animal.
       Next, Li Huai saw eighteen youthful warriors in short martial outfits, each brandishing a swift saber, descending from the sky like flying generals on Meander Bridge, just outside Water Moon Pavilion. Like warriors occupying an important strategic point in battle, taking over the bridge.
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:36 AM. Reason: fix errors

  13. #13
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    I will correct errors from time to time. The internet text I am using seems a bit garbled. Gu Long seemed to have given this book different chapter divisions, so I don't know if the internet text is the final edition.

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       "What on earth is happening?"
       One could no longer see that gentle, adorable, shy, and somewhat wicked smile on Young Master Li's face.
       "Has something happened at your place, Uncle Fang? I can slip away through the back gate first."
       Boss Fang smiled and shook his head.
       "Things are fine, don't worry." Fang Tianhao's smile was full of confidence, "At my place here, even if something trivial and insignificant were to happen, it wouldn't be a problem. Even if the sky were to fall, Old Uncle Fang will be here to hold it up."
       He hadn't finished his sentence when that smile vanished from his face.


       Fang Tianhao was so deeply confident in his specially trained suicide squad, that he doubted anyone could have even stepped up the bridge when they were holding fort there.
       No one had been able to convince him otherwise, until now.
       Unfortunately, that someone could now.
       It was a man with a swarthy face like black iron, dressed in a fierily scarlet robe, even taller and burlier than Duan Bafang and Fang Tianhao. With his hands behind his back, he seemed like a fair-faced scholar reciting poetry under the moon, sauntering up the bridge leisurely from a gravel pathway over the other side.
       He didn't seem to have done anything at all.
       But the moment he stepped on the bridge, everyone in the suicide squad holding fort on the bridge suddenly shrieked miserably and was hurled far away, one after another. The sound of their bones cracking only resounded after a long, long time, when they landed on the artificial hillock behind the pond.
       By then, the man in the scarlet robe was already seated.


    4


       Water Moon Pavilion was bright and resplendent, like a flower market at Lantern Festival.
       The lights of a flower market at night, as bright as the day.
       The man in the scarlet robe walked casually in. He sat down just as casually beside the host Boss Fang, and opposite Li Huai, the main guest.
       His face didn't look like a spring flower on the night of the Lantern Festival.
       It didn't look at all like a human face either.
       His face looked like a mask cast from pure, refined steel. Although his face might be smiling, it did not look like he was happy at all. Rather, he seemed to be trying to make his opponent's feet limp from fear.
       He was smiling.
       He was smiling as he observed Li Huai.
       "Mr. Li," he asked in a very strange, husky voice full of derision. "Could I have your surname please, Mr. Li?" Li Huai chuckled, revealing a mouthful of snowy-white teeth.
       "Of course, a Mr. Li must have the surname of Li." Li Huai's smile wasn't the least bit derisive. "And what about you, Mr. Han? Could I have your surname please, Mr. Han?"
       There was the same smile on the face of this man in scarlet.
       An iron stamp seemed to have imprinted that smile on his face. "You know that my surname is Han? So you know who I am?"
       "Everyone in this world knows the Fiery Iron Judge, Han Jun."
       Light shot out of Han Jun's eyes. Only now did everyone realize they were teal-blue in color, the color of ice sheets a million years old. They contrasted with his fierily scarlet robe, in a very interesting, very bizarre yet terrifying way.
       He stared at Li Huai for a long time, speaking slowly and stressing each word.
       "Yes, I am a Sixth Grade Imperial Bodyguard granted the use of the saber before His Majesty, the Grand Constable of the Justice MinistryHan Jun from Putian Monastery, a lay disciple of Southern Shaolin."
       Fang Tianhao's frightened, pale face at last squeezed out a smile. And he stood up at once.
       "I never thought the world-renowned Grand Constable from the Justice Ministry, Senior Han, would grace our occasion tonight."
       Han Jun cut him off coldly.
       "I am not your senior and I'm not here for you."
       "Are you here for me?" Li Huai asked.
       Han Jun stared at him again for a long time. "You're Li Huai?"
       "Yes."
       "How long did your journey take, from Zhangjiakou?"
       "I don't know," Li Huai said. "I didn't count the days."
       "I know. I did," Han Jun said. "You walked a total of sixty-one days."
       Li Huai shook his head, smiling wryly.
       "I'm not a big shot and I'm not an imperial bodyguard granted the use of a saber, or a Grand Constable from the Justice Ministry. So why would anyone care about me in such details?"
       "You are, of course, not a constable from the Justice Ministry. The annual wages of 100 constables won't be enough to last even a day for you."
       Han Jun was smirking coldly as he asked Li Huai:
       "Do you know how much you spent in the last sixty-one days?"
       "I don't know. I didn't count that either."
       "I did," Han Jun said. "You spent a total of 86, 650 taels of silver."
       Li Huai whistled, exhaling a mouthful of air.
       "Did I really spend that much?"
       "You did."
       Li Huai was smiling very cheerfully again.
       "So it seems I'm really rich and really kind."
       "Of course you are." Han Jun's voice was even colder now. "You were just a poor boy. Where did you get all those money you've been spending?"
       "That's only my business and none of yours at all."
       "But it concerns me too."
       "How so?"
       "Some caskets of gold have been stolen from the Imperial Treasury, worth 1,700,000 taels of silver. No one person can afford to take the blame, so the Justice Ministry will have to." Han Jun riveted his nail-like eyes on Li Huai. "I was unfortunate enough to be the Grand Constable of the Justice Ministry."
       Li Huai exhaled a long breath, shaking his head with a sigh.
       "You're so unlucky."
       "Unlucky people always need a partner in misery, so please make a trip with me to the Justice Ministry."
       "Why do I have to go to the Justice Ministry with you?" Li Huai asked, staring with his big eyes. "Does your superior from the Justice Ministry want to invite me to dinner?"
       Han Jun said no more.
       His face turned even blacker, his eyes turned even bluer.
       His eyes were still like nails as he slowly got up from his chair, inch by inch.
       He was moving very slowly, inch by inch, yet behind each moving inch lurked an unpredictable danger. And he could make everyone sense that.


    5


       There was a change in everyone's breathing, as this man moved his majestic body.
       But not Li Huai.
       "Why are you staring at me like that? Are you stupid enough to think I was that lone burglar who stole the gold?"
       Li Huai kept shaking his head and sighing wryly. "I wish I were blessed with such great abilities. If only I had such abilities, no one would have dared bully me."
       Han Jun did not open his mouth. He made a sound instead.
       The sound did not come from his lips but from his body.
       There were more than 300 bones in his body. And each joint was cracking.
       His hands, arms, feet, and legs seemed to grow a few inches more.
       Although he hadn't attacked yet, he was already displaying his Shaolin external kungfu to the full.
       Fang Tianhao could not help but sigh. As a practitioner of external kungfu himself, he was the only one who could deeply appreciate the power of Han Jun's strike. He could even see Li Huai dropping to the ground, writhing in pain.
       Terrified, Li Huai turned to run. But there was nowhere he could run to, unfortunately.
       He was surrounded by people: men, women, and children. Everyone was around to serve him as an honored guest.
       Han Jun moved more and more slowly, his movements even grinding to a halt. Yet he put more and more pressure on the other man, like an arrow pulled tautly on a bow, ready to be released.
       Fang Tianhao, of course, would not intervene in such matters.
       Li Huai became desperate. He kicked and overturned the table suddenly and with a deft, clever "borrowed" force, scattered the dozen dishes on the table at Han Jun.
       Before the plates could reach the man, the soup and gravy had already splashed out.
       It would be so embarrassing if the Fiery Iron Judge were splashed with gravy from a dish of shepherd's purse and tofu.
       As swiftly as the wind, Han Jun stepped back.
       If Li Huai didn't take this opportunity to escape, he would not be Li Huai.
       But unfortunately, he still could not.


       Suddenly, fierce gales accompanied seven steel swords, gleaming coldly as they stabbed in from seven different directions.
       If Li Huai had reacted the same way as he did against Keke the other day, he would have a big hole in his body if one of these swords was pointing directly at him.
       Fortunately, not one of these seven swords was aiming directly at him. Seven dings were heard. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! All seven swords became interlinked in an array, forming a strange and clever contraptiona strange steel lock trying to trap Li Huai in.
       Everyone in the jianghu knew that no one locked by the Seven Harmony Heartlock Swords had managed to escape.
       No matter who it was, that person would be trapped like a young girl's heart enticed by her first lover, unable to escape.


       All seven swords had the same length, width, weight, shape, and quality, tempered in the same heat, bearing the same accessories. They were identical.
       Undoubtedly, the seven swords were all forged in the same furnace.
       But seven completely different hands were grasping the hilts of these seven swords.
       Their only similarity was having served Li Huai just now at the table.
       Instead of getting scared, Li Huai laughed.
       "I never expected this, never expected this at all. The Seven Harmony Heartlock Swords have become attendants at the table, serving rice and tea."
       He was looking at a tall, slim, pretty married woman with a lightly freckled faceone of the seven.
       "Hu Daniang," Li Huai said. "Since you enjoy this sort of a thing, you can make my bed and fold my blanket anytime you like."
       He then looked at Han Jun and shook his head. "Your Excellency must have made this arrangement too. Who else have you got lurking around here?"
       "Don't you think I have enough people?"
       "I don't think you have enough."
       Han Jun's face sank. He gave a low cry.
       "Lock him."
       In this sword array, "lock" means to kill. Seven interlocking swords locking a man's meridians and blood veins, shattering them all.
       The sword-locking array had been formed. No one could save him now.


       Li Huai's veins and meridians were not shattered. His limbs, hands, feet, liver, and organs were not shattered too.
       It was the swords that fractured instead.
       The refined steel frames of the Seven Heartlock Swords fractured. All seven swords.
       Li Huai's hand was holding the sword tips of all seven swords.
       No one had seen him move, yet everyone could see the seven sword tips, gleaming in his hand.
       A fractured sword can still kill.
       The sword lights soared again. And were fractured yet again.
       The fracturing swords sounded like pearls falling on a jade plate.


       The complexion of everyone changed. Han Jun's body extended all of a sudden, like a tiger ready to pounce, brutally attacking Li Huai.
       Li Huai paced by the side. He attacked indirectly, slicing with a backhand.
       His slice was far slower than Han Jun's. His skull should have been shattered by the time his slicing hand chopped into Han Jun's underbelly under the ribs.
       But it turned out everyone was wrong again.
       Han Jun suddenly staggered back, retreating five steps before he could steady himself. Blood oozed out from the corner of his mouth.
       Li Huai grinned and bowed. His smile was so bad and so adorable.
       "I'm taking my leave now, everyone."


    6


       The moonlight was as before, the rippling waters were as before, as were the bridge and the pavilion. But it was not the same person now as before.
       Li Huai sauntered leisurely across Meander Bridge, looking like Han Jun sauntering up the bridge just now.
       Everyone could only see him go. No one dared to stop him.
       A faint mist seemed to be rising under the moon, above the rippling waters. A faint human figure could be seen in the mist.
       Li Huai suddenly saw the figure.
       No one could describe how he felt upon seeing the figure. He felt like a blind man who had suddenly seen the bright, clear moon in the sky for the first time.


       A figure in the mist and moonlight, above the rippling waters.
       Li Huan stopped walking.
       "Who are you?" he asked, staring at the misty one in white. "Who are you?"
       There was no answer.
       Li Huai walked towards her, as if drawn by some mysterious power, his body stiffly erect as he walked.
       The clouds unfolded and the moon revealed itself. Faint moonlight happened to shine on her face.
       A pale face, as pale as the moon.
       "You're not human." Li Huai looked at her and said, "You must have come from the moon."
       A mysterious smile that no one could understand suddenly appeared on that pale face. The woman from the moon suddenly said in a dreamy, mysterious voice, "Yes, I came from the moon, I came to the human world only bring you people one thing."
       "What?"
       "Death!"
       A faint blade light, as faint as moonlight.
       The moonlight was also like a blade.
       Because at the moment when her blade flashed as faintly as the moonlight, all of a sudden, a murderous aura seemed to emanate from the bright moon in the sky too.
       A murderous aura out to kill and to slay, irrevocably.


       The blade light grew dim, as did the moonlight. Yet the murderous aura remained as thick as blood.
       The blade light flashed. The silver moon changed color. Li Huai died.
       Snapping a finger takes sixty split seconds. But Li Huai only took one split second to die.
       A split second when the blade first flashed.
       "Flying dagger!"
       By the time the blade flash was gone, Li Huai's body was already sprawled over the carved balustrade of Meander Bridge, limp like a rag.
       The blade had penetrated his chest to the hilt.
       The heart is undoubtedly a human being's most vital and vulnerable organ. No one can survive a blade pierced into the heart. Still, some people are not easily convinced.
       Han Jun darted over. With two clipping fingers, he drew out the pale golden hilt, as pale as moonlight. Blood splattered. The blade emerged.
       A narrow blade that was enough to penetrate the heart.
       "Well?"
       "He's dead for sure."
       Han Jun tried not to wear a too happy expression on his face. "The man is dead for sure."


       The moonlight remained as before. Under the moon, the woman in white seemed to have dissolved into the moonlight.
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:39 AM. Reason: fix errors

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    7


       Clear sky.
       Constantly falling snow that was about to stop. It was getting colder. There was a fire as crimson as the face of a bashful girl in the bronze fire basin, scrubbed as shiny-bright as a mirror.
       Boss Fang lay slantingly on the large stove bed covered with a sable hide. On the low table in the center of his bed were a few candy and sweet snack jars on a jade plate. And also a lamp and a spear on the table.
       The lamp wasn't the sort used for lighting. The spear was even less likely the sort used for stabbing fallen enemies to death from horseback.
       Of course, this spear could be used to kill. But killing with such a spear would take a longer time and cause greater pain.


       There was an aroma of evil in this warm room.
       Human beings have weaknesses. Evil will always be one of the greatest forces tempting a human being.
       In the same way, the aroma of evil would seem far more enticing than the most fragrant spring flowers from the south of the Yangtze.
       "This is opium, brought by the red-haired races from India."
       Boss Fang squinted his eyes, staring at Han Jun who had just appeared in the warm room.
       "You must try this, or you would have lived your whole life in vain."
       Han Jun seemed deaf to his words. He only asked coldly,
       "Did you bury the man?"
       "I did, long ago."
       "What about the four boys with him?"
       Fang Tianhao smiled wryly. "No one would survive a massacre, not even an egg."
       "So is everything done?"
       "Done perfectlymore perfectly than a round egg."
       "Do you foresee any more trouble?"
       "No," Fang Tianhao said with a smug look on his face. "Absolutely none."
       Han Jun stared at him coldly for a long time. Then he turned and walked out, before suddenly turning back again.
       "Don't ever forget this. You'd better not let me see you smoke something like this again. Or I'd also imprison you for eight to ten years in that big jail at the Justice Ministry."
       There was a small courtyard on the cobblestones, with snow in the courtyard and on the plums.
       In the snow-laden courtyard, a lonely old plum tree had blossomed by itself. All the loneliness of the world seemed to be growing from its roots.
       How lonely.
       A lonely courtyard, with an equally lonely plum tree and lonely man.
       Han Jun walked out, now facing the cold wind. He drew in a long breath and breathed out again. Then he suddenly stopped breathing.
       He suddenly saw a pale face amid the crimson plum branches and leaves, staring at him with a sneakily evil smile.


       Han Jun must have seen countless faces. Although they were mostly weeping faces, he had also seen many smiling ones.
       But he had never seen such a crooked, evil, strange, and frightfully intimate smile before.
       Amid the thousand crimson plum blossoms, there was suddenly a beaming face, looking and smiling at him.
       What would you do if you were him?


       Han Jun took a step back, twisting his hips and leaping into the air. His left arm crossed his chest to defend himself, while his right hand clutched like a big eagle's claw, ready to grab at that pale face amid the crimson plum blossoms.
       He did not manage to grab it, because he had suddenly recognized the face.


       It was the second of the Seven Harmony Swords, Liu Weia handsome and imposing-looking man. But now he was no different from any other dead man.
       Especially since anyone killed by the Seven Rupture and Seven Heartbreak Palms would contort their faces in the semblance of a smile. But their smiles would be sadder, more ghastly, and more gruesome than a weeping face.
       Liu Wei was killed by the Heartbreak Palms.
       Han Jun leaped up and recognized the face. He realized the man had been killed by the Heartbreak Palms.


    8


       The Seven Harmony Swords were all consummate, expert sword mastersespecially Liu Wei and Meng Wu.
       The second person he found dead was Meng Wu.
       His body was carted back in a wheelbarrow.
       He was also fatally wounded by the Seven Rupture and Seven Heartbreak Palms.


       The Seven Ruptures.
       The heart meridian ruptured, the blood meridian ruptured; the tendon meridian, the liver and intestines meridian, the kidney meridian, the bones and marrows meridian, the wrist meridian all ruptured.
       The Seven Heartbreaks.
       The heart broken, love broken. Gratitude, hatred, pain, life and death, sentiments and longing all broken.
       The Seven Rupture and Seven Heartbreak Palms could rupture an opponent and break that person's heart.
       It was an almost extinct martial arts skill. No one liked to practice an absolutely heartless form of martial arts that was loveless. No one wanted to teach it to others.


       Fang Tianhao was asking Han Jun questions.
       He had asked three questionsall very difficult questions to answer. He had to ask Han Jun as this man was not only one of the few top fighters in the martial arts world, his mind was as sophisticated as an intricate piece of machinery invented by an eccentric genius.
       He would forget nothing, once he witnessed things with his eyes, heard things with his ears, and processed things in his mind.
       "Isn't the Seven Rupture and Seven Heartbreak Palms a lost skill? You mean there's still someone in the jianghu who knows this style of kungfu? Who?"
       "Yes, someone still knows it," Han Jun answered.
       "Who?"
       "Li Huai."
       "He knows it?" Fang Tianhao asked. "How did he learn this skill?"
       "I know he was the only friend of Liu Lang, the Seven Ruptures, and Hu Niang, the Seven Heartbreaks, when they were still alive."
       "But Li Huai is dead now, isn't he?" Fang Tianhao asked. "Didn't you say the Moon Goddess's blade is like bronze imperial graduate Little Li's fabled flying daggers? They are always dispatched without ever missing their targets."
       Han Jun turned his head. His cold and savage eyes were looking out of the window, at the cold crescent moon.
       The moonlight as cold as a blade.
       "Yes."
       Han Jun's voice sounded distant, like it had been transmitted far away to the side of the moon.
       "Moonlight like blade, the blade-like moonlight," he said. "The Moon Goddess's blade is like a human being under the moonlight. Just like no one can hide from the moonlight, no one can hide from the Moon Goddess's blade."
       "No one? You mean absolutely no one?"
       "I mean absolutely no one."
       "Then what about Li Huai?"
       "Li Huai is dead," Han Jun said. "He is so wicked and bad, he must die."
       "If Li Huai was the only one in the world who knew the Seven Rupture and Seven Heartbreak Palms, and if he was already dead by then, who killed the Seven Harmony Swords?"


       Han Jun didn't answer this question, since this was a question no one could answer.
       But he did unravel a thread that might lead to something.
       Light again suddenly shone in his eyes.
       "Yes, it was five years ago." Han Jun said, "Five years ago, on the sixth day of the second month. It was still snowing."
       "What happened on that day?" Fang Tianhao asked.
       "I was on duty at the Justice Ministry, sleeping overnight in the Ministry's archives room. I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night and got up to look through the files. One file in particular caught my eyes."
       "Oh?"
       "An archival file from the 'Xuan' radical cabinet mentioned a man by the name of Ye Shengkang."3
       "What about that man?"
       "He was stabbed three times in the heart. All three penetrated his chest, which would have been absolutely fatal."
       "He didn't die?"
       "He didn't," Han Jun said. "He's still alive and well in Beijing today."
       "The sharp sword pierced his heart and no one could save him. So how come he's still alive?" Fang Tianhao asked.
       "Because the sharp sword did not pierce that part of his chest where his heart was," Han Jun said. "In other words, his heart was not in that spot where it ought to be."
       "I don't understand." Fang Tianhao looked as if a flower was suddenly growing out of the man's nose. "I really don't get what you mean."
       "Alright, let me explain as plainly as I can," Han Jun said. "That man Ye Shengkang's heart is on the right side."
       "Heart on the right side?" Fang Tianhao asked. "What do you mean?"
       "I mean his heart is not on the left side of his chest, but on the right. All the organs in his body are on the opposite side to an ordinary person's."
       Fang Tianhao froze.
       He could only speak after a long time. He asked Han Jun, putting stress on each word:
       "So you think Li Huai's heart is on the right side, like Ye Shengkang's?"
       "Yes," said Han Jun, stressing each word like him. "There can be no other explanation."
       "Since Li Huai's heart is on the right side, he did not die under the Moon Goddess's blade. Although her blade pierced his chest, his heart wasn't where it ought to be."
      Fang Tianhao stared at Han Jun and asked,
       "Is this what you mean?"
       "Yes."
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:43 AM. Reason: fix errors

  16. #16
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    Chapter 3: Soft and Tender


    1


       "If a man's heart isn't in that spot where it ought to be, how will that man feel about himself?"
       "He will feel very happy!"
       "Happy? Why will he feel happy?"
       "Because it is an error. And errors often lead to many kinds of happiness."


    2


       Li Huai must be feeling very happy.
       He wasn't dead. No one who wished him dead knew where he was.
       He must be dying of happiness, under those circumstances.


       An arrest warrant had been issued.
       The highly skilled constables from the neighboring provinces, counties, prefectures, and circuits had all gathered here.
       "Hunt Li Huai down." Han Jun gave his order. "He must be somewhere around this place. We must spare no costs to search him out."


       But they couldn't find him.
       Because Li Huai was lying in a place not one of them could dream of, snoring soundly.
       This Li Huai was really so bad.


    3


       Li Huai's feet were resting high on a tabletop. He was snoring soundly.
      This was so strange. He was obviously a man, a man who could be considered even a very coarse one. Yet his feet were like a girl's: fair, tender, and clean.
       He had claimed that many girls adored his feet.
       We, of course, cannot always take Mr. Li Huai at his word. But we can certainly believe in certain things that he said.


       This place was really perfect for sleeping. Not just for sleeping, it was perfect for everythingall sorts of things.
       It was such a nice place and really so comfortable.
       A young rascal like Li Huai really didn't deserve to be in this place.
       Yet here he was, which was why no one expected it.
       Where exactly was this place?


       A girl pushed open the door and slipped in quietly. She came just noiselessly to where Li Huai was, fixing her gentle eyes on Li Huai tenderlyon his face, his sleepy eyes, and his feet.
       Li Huai was sleeping like a corpse. Yet this dead man suddenly stretched out a hand.
       A bad and sneaky dead man.
       His sneaky hand did something worse, trying to reach for a spot it shouldn't be grabbing.
       "Bad," the girl said. "Li Huai, you little bastard. You're so bad."


       And who was this girl?
       Did she have any special feelings for or a unique relationship with Li Huai? Why was she keeping him company when he was in such danger? And what special abilities did she have, to be able to ensure his safety and keep his whereabouts a secret?


       "So carefree and easy huh?" the girl said. "Do you know those guys hired by my dad and Han Jun are hunting for you, combing every inch of this ground?"
       "I know. Of course I know," Li Huai said. "But I'm not in the least bit worried."
       "Why not?"
       "They all think that you hate me most in this town. What's more, you're your dad's daughter. They must be living ghosts, not humans, if they managed to find me here."


       But Li Huai really met a living ghost this time.






    4


       The first person Li Huai saw was Han Jun. The moment the man pushed the door open, Li Huai thought he had just seen a living ghost. A living ghost that had fallen alive from the sky.
       Han Jun gazed at the astounded man before him with gentle, almost sympathetic eyes.
       "I know you didn't expect this. I didn't expect this myself either." Han Jun sighed. "We all thought we would never see your face in this life again."
       Li Huai's bad-yet-so-adorable face beamed with that unique smile of his.
       "Where's that girl? That pretty, mysterious girl from the moon who loves killing people?" Li Huai asked Han Jun. "Did she come today?"
       "No."
       "I've already guessed she won't be coming."
       "You knew?"
       "Of course I know," Li Huai said. "Moonlight like blade, the blade-like moonlight. I was almost killed by her blade. Of course I know that her strikes are like Li Xunhuan's famous flying daggers of old. The Moon Goddess almost never misses her target. And I know how expensive it is to hire her."
       A strange emotion could almost be heard in Li Huai's voice.
       "Most importantly, I know that the Moon Goddess never strikes twice. Like Li Xunhuan, she won't strike again if she didn't kill her target the first time."
       "So you're sure she won't come today?" Han Jun asked.
       "Yes, I'm sure she won't come today," said Li Huai. "You can't afford her services again. Even if you could, she wouldn't come to kill the same man twice."
       "You're right, you're absolutely right. The Moon Goddess is indeed the most expensive killer in the world at present. And she's indeed not coming today."
       Li Huai smiled.
       "But I believe you must have guessed I won't come here alone too."
       "Yes."
       Li Huai smiled. "Of course you won't come alone. If you came alone, you wouldn't be able to leave today."
       Han Jun gazed at him with the same gentle, almost sympathetic eyes.
       "Then do you know who I brought along today?"
       "No."


       Of course Li Huai wouldn't know. He couldn't have guessed.
       No one could.
       No one could imagine the Grand Constable of the Justice Ministry, the world-renowned "Fiery Iron Judge" Han Jun, would dispatch so many first-class fighters in the martial arts world, just to hunt down an unknown lad.
      All the experts affiliated with the six departments of the Justice Ministry were after him. As if summoned by a sleight of hand, they had suddenly appeared in this mountain town, from every direction and every place. And they were suddenly in this small house Li Huai thought was the most peaceful in the world.


      Li Huai was in a really bad situation this time.


      No matter who it was under those circumstances, no one could have escaped after running into these experts, the way Li Huai ran into them today.
      He couldn't even run to his death.
      Because some of them didn't want him to die so fast.
      He couldn't live and neither could he beg for death. So what else do you suggest Li Huai do?
      If he was someone who could be totally stumped, he wouldn't be Li Huai.


      Li Huai suddenly did something no one ever expected him to, especially Keke. She couldn't imagine him doing such a thing, not even in her worst nightmare.
      Someone suddenly grabbed her hand. And that someone was Li Huai.
      Of course, Li Huai had often grabbed her hand before, like how he used to grab at many parts of her body.
      But this time, it was completely different.
      Li Huai was now actually using the most powerful of the Little Seventy-Two Grips to grip her hand.
      Her wrist seemed to have been locked suddenly by an iron handcuff. And then she suddenly heard Li Huai say:
       "You people can start congratulating me now, since I can no longer die."
      Li Huai's smile was so hateful.
      "I'm sure no one among you would like to see Miss Fang die so suddenly when she's still so young and pretty. So I will probably live too," Li Huai said. "If I die, Miss Keke won't be able to live too."
       Li Huai sighed. "I believe everyone can see this fact as well as I do."


       Did Li Huai just say something so shameless and despicable? Keke couldn't believe her ears.
       She wasn't the only one. The others couldn't believe their ears either.
       Boss Fang's face turned pig-liver color at that instant.
       "You little bastard, do you consider yourself even human? How could you do such a thing?" Fang Tianhao was growling angrily. "My daughter was so nice to you, how could you do such a thing to her?"
      "It's nothing strange at all," Li Huai said calmly with good reason. "I, Li Huai, have always been a bad personso bad that it would be strange if I didn't do such a thing."
       He bowed in a very elegant manner.
       "I'm sure everyone can see what's happening now," Li Huai said. "So I believe you will let me go."
       Then he said, "Who the hell is Li Huai? I'm nothing but a rascal, so how can you use a bastard's life to exchange for Miss Keke's? So I believe I can say goodbye to everyone here now."


       And so, Li Huai really said goodbye to these top martial arts exponents who were out to kill him.
       It was also true that he really came out of the tiger's den in one piece.
       Even he almost couldn't believe that.
       He shouldn't have gotten away so easily, despite the fact Li Huai had a hostage with him, and despite the fact that Fang Tianhao doted on his daughter.
       Everyone here out to capture him had an ace move, so even if he had a hostage, they could have easily come up with some other ways to deal with him. Moreover, these men did not necessarily care about the life of Boss Fang's precious daughter.
       So why would they let Li Huai go?
       This was something no one could understand.


    5


      A swift horse, galloping post-haste. The mountain town retreated slowly, further and further away into the distance.


      The mountain town was now far away.
      Although it was now far away, the moon was still visible. One could still see that same bright, round moon as from the town.
      At this moment, the moonlight was certainly not as keen as a blade. At this moment, the moonlight was as pale as water.
      Faint moonlight shone into the shack through a half-open window. There was also a cold mountain draft blowing in.
      A wooden shack in the mountains. Li Huai was in the shack.
      Keke was also here, of course.


      She was standing in front of the fireplace. Her face was crimson, illuminated by the roaring fire.
      Li Huai's face was pale. Gone was that bad look on his face and that bad smile too.
      He actually seemed to be thinking.
      Because he didn't understand, yet he seemed to have almost understood. While he was running away, a pale white figurea figure as pale as moonlightseemed to have brushed past his body. It was as if the moonlight and mountain peaks were brushing past him lightly.
      He did see such a figure. Because he had also heard a voice at that moment, from a woman with a gentle voice like the moonlight:
       "Stay where you are, all of you. Let Li Huai go "


      Li Huai wasn't dreaming. He had stopped dreaming since he was very, very young.
      He did hear her voice speak.
      But he was even more confused now.
      He had gotten away easily because the Moon Goddess had blocked his pursuers.
      Now why would the Moon Goddess do that?


      The fire flickered. Their faces were even redder now.
      "I've made up my mind," Keke suddenly said. "Absolutely and completely."
      Her voice sounded so strange.
      "Made up your mind to do what?" Li Huai asked.
      "Made up my mind to do something," Keke said. "I've made up my mind to do something that will make you both happy and feel so, so grateful to me."
      "Exactly what?"
      For a long time, Keke stared at this man with deep, deep emotions. Then she said to him in a voice full of deep, deep feelings.
       "I know you will feel so, so touched when I tell you that. I just hope you won't cry after that. I hope there won't be tears falling from your eyes."
      "Don't worry, I won't cry."
      "You will."
      Li Huai gave up. "Alright, no matter how much your words will touch me, you should at least tell me what it is you have decided to do."
      "Alright, I'll say it." Keke had a really determined look on her face. "I've decided to forgive you."
      She spoke so determinedly, almost like Zhuge Liang making up his mind to kill Ma Su. "No matter what you did to me, I've decided to forgive you. Because I know you have your reasons, you must survive no matter what."
      She suddenly ran over and wrapped her arms around Li Huai's neck.
      "So you don't have to explain anything," Keke said. "Since I have forgiven you, you don't have to explain anything."


      Li Huai gave no explanation.
       There are certain things you can't and won't say that you must have someone else say for you. Because they are exactly the things that person wants to hear and say to herself.
      "I know you're never an ungrateful wretch who takes revenge. You did that to me only to stay alive."
      Keke was making excuses for Li Huai.
      "Any man will do what you did under those circumstances. A man who wants to be with his girl has to first survive." Keke was smiling sweetly. "Under those circumstances, what can a man do but take me with him if he wants us to be together? There is nothing else he can do."
      And she giggled more and more happily. "So I don't blame you at all, because I totally understand your reason for doing it. You're... you're such a little rascal. Luckily, I'm not a nice girl either."


      She laughed happily, since she had said precisely the things she herself most liked to hear.
      As a result, she didn't notice at all that faint, white figure in Li Huai's pupils.
      Was that lady from the moon here again? Did she just appear right before Li Huai's eyes?


      "I'm leaving," Li Huai said suddenly.
      "You're leaving?" Keke asked in surprise. "For what place?"
      "I don't know."
      "Why are you leaving?"
      "I don't know."
      "Don't you know anything?"
      "No, I know nothing," Li Huai said. "I just know that I have to leave right now."
      This extremely smart, extremely bad boy now actually had a stupefied expression on his face and in his eyes.
      That dream-like figure dressed in white was still, of course, in his eyes.
      Keke looked at him, like a drowning man watching a driftwood log he could hold onto suddenly washed away by the tides.
      She watched in this way as Li Huai walked past her to the door.
      There was nothing she could do.


      Beyond that door, the moon resembled water.
      Someone dressed in white was under the moon. Someone in the rain and the mists, between the waters and the moon, among the trees by the mountains.
      She was silent.
      More silent than even the trees by the mountains, in the rain and mists, under the moon, above the waters. She was watching Li Huai quietly.
      She didn't say a word.
      But Li Huai seemed to have heard a mysterious incantation.
      She didn't wave to him. She didn't move at all.
      But Li Huai seemed drawn to her by the most powerful sorcery in the whole universe.
      She didn't ask Li Huai to follow her.
      But Li Huai walked past the woman who loved him most, to this woman who was as clear and cold as water, under the moonlight.
      Li Huai didn't seem bad at this moment at all. He was not only not bad, but he was better behaved than the most docile and obedient of children.
      Every bad boy will behave in this way before a certain somebody. It may be the greatest sorrow a bad boy can have.



    6


      "I didn't ask you to come."
      "I know."
      "So why did you come?"
      "I don't know why."
      "What do you know?"
      "I only know I have come. And since I have come, I will surely not leave again," Li Huai said.
      "You won't leave, no matter where this place is?"
      "Yes, never."
      "You won't regret it?"
      "I will never regret, not even if I die."
      So Li Huai went to this world.
      A world never before visited by mortal humans, a world that didn't belong to human beings.
      Everything in this mysterious, distant and beautiful world was the property of the moon.
      No one knew where it was. No one knew what its mountains and rivers were like, in shape or appearance.
      No one even knew that it existed.


      So Li Huai left the human world from then on.
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:46 AM. Reason: fix errors

  17. #17
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    Chapter 4: Death of the Mountain Town


    1


      The spring snow had melted. Now, clear molten spring water was already trickling down the high mountains.
      At the summit, that mass of snow that had existed since time immemorial was already hiding in the white fleecy clouds, gleaming with silver.
      Everything rarely changed in this silvery-white world. You can almost say nothing had changed at all.
      One can only experience changes with life.
      But there was almost no life here.
      Li Huai already sensed this when he came.
      He didn't care.
      He already had that mysterious relationship he had never before dreamed of, with a woman he never dreamed of having. It gave him a new lease of life.
      He also brought life into this world.


      But that morning, everything in this universe was annihilated for Li Huai.


    2


      Li Huai had been here 117 days2,808 hours.
      Tender, loving feelings, so thick and undissolvable, filled every day, hour, and moment.
      The moon wasn't cold.
      Ordinary mortals can never appreciate the gentle moonlight.
      Li Huai felt fortunate and proud, since he had something no one else could ever have.


      A sword has two edges. Everything has a positive and a negative side.
      The moment you get something you greatly cherish, you will often lose another thing you greatly cherish too. The more you get, the more you will probably lose.
      Enveloped by such tender, loving, amorous feelings, Li Huai would suddenly feel a pain he had never experienced before.
      He was afraid of loss.
      He was afraid of losing the woman he most loved in his life.
      The moment when things started, he had the feeling he would lose her sooner or later.


      The feeling came true that morning.


    3


      It was oddly quiet that morning, oddly cold and oddly beautiful. It was no different from the other 117 mornings at all.
      The only difference was that no one was beside Li Huai that morning.
      Where was she?
      She had gonelike a dream, a fog, a mist.
      Without saying anything, leaving behind not a word. She had left just like that.
       Did you leave just like that?
      It was all real. The love was real, the dream was real, their union was real, their separation was real too.
       There is nothing more real in this world than separation.


    4


      Li Huai became bad again.
      Li Huai ate, Li Huai drank, Li Huai *****d, Li Huai gambled, Li Huai got himself drunk.
      He tried to eat but could not. He gambled but could never end up losing. He *****d, but others might be whoring him too.
      So he could only make himself drunk.
      But so what if he got drunk? To stay drunk forever is just a poet's empty dream.
      Who can remain drunk forever?
      Who can understand the empty loneliness assailing like a cold wind once you become sober again?


      A prodigal son without roots, always hoping to find a place of his own.
      So Li Huai went back to the mountain town.
      The small mountain town, like the mountains with its eternal mass of solid snow, always used to seem quite the same.
      But it had completely changed now upon his return.


    5


      The mountain town had changed.
      The distant mountains were still there. The teal rocks, green trees, red flowers, yellow loess at the foot of the mountains were still there.
      But not the mountain town.
      The inhabitants of the mountain town were gone too.
      The mountain town, which had existed since time immemorial in Li Huai's heart and would no doubt continue to exist forever, was now suddenly gone.
      The mountain town had turned into a ghost town.




    6


      A dead chicken, a dying dogbehind a broken window clattering in the wind, on a street as silent as death, dusty with yellow loess. A cold, fireless stove, an empty, smashed wine jar. An empty upended steam basket containing not one moldy bun.
      And a man dying like the dog.


      He was the only person Li Huai saw after coming back to the mountain town.
      He recognized him. Of course he recognized the man.
      It was Old Zhang, the owner of the steamed bun shop.


      "What happened to this place? Where are the people? What the hell's going on?"
      Li Huai kept asking Old Zhang desperately, but got nothing out of him.
      Old Zhang was starving like that dog. He seemed almost dead now.
      Li Huai took out all the rations and water from his traveling bag and fed the man and the dog. The dog ended up barking again and the man could also speak.
      A pity the man could only say one word. He kept repeating it, although it was just one word"Keke".
      "Keke, Keke, Keke, Keke... "
      He kept repeating the word. No one knew how long he repeated it. No one knew how long he would keep on repeating it.
      Li Huai gave a cry, almost jumping up.
      He hadn't heard her name for such a long time. Why did Old Zhang keep repeating her name over and over again at this moment?
      The mountain town was now a ghost town. Was anyone else in this ghost town still alive other than Old Zhang?
      "Where's Keke?" Li Huai asked. "Is she still alive?"
      Old Zhang raised his head, staring at him. Light suddenly shot out from his old, dull, confused eyes.


      This was how Li Huai ended up seeing Keke again.



    7


      The back garden belonging to the Fang family was deserted. In the derelict courtyard, there were three small pinewood buildings hidden among the cold, wrecked courtyard terrace, wilting trees and grass.
      It was already deep in the night.
      With only a dim lamplight in the derelict garden.
      Li Huai walked behind Old Zhang. He found himself staring at a small wooden shed.


      There was light in the shed. Someone was under the light.
      A girl who looked so thin, she seemed almost deformed. She had a pale and obsessed-looking face.
      Keke.
      "Li Huai. You bad boy. You're so bad."
      Her mouth kept repeating these words, again and again. Her heart had been completely broken, everything in the world had been shattered along with her broken heart. There was nothing else she could link together other than those three phrases.
      The mind of a brokenhearted woman will be broken too.


      Li Huai's heart was breaking, yet that adorable and hateful smile was still on his face.
      Under those circumstances and at that moment, what else could he do but smile? Or would you rather see him cry?
      "Keke, I'm Li Huai, I'm that bad bad boy. I'm so bad, I'm even mad at myself," Li Huai said. "I'm so bad, I'm sure you won't find another person as bad. So I believe there's no way you can't recognize me."
      But Keke didn't seem to recognize him at all.
      Keke stared at him like she had never seen him all her life.
      Keke stared at him like he wasn't even human, more a pile of dog shit.
      Then she gave him a slap.


      She slapped Li Huai cold and hard on his face. And Li Huai laughed, laughed happily instead.
      "You still recognize me! You must have, or you wouldn't have hit me."
      "Do I?" The same dazed look was still on Keke's face. "Do I know you?"
      Li Huai nodded.
      The moment he nodded, her hand slapped his face again.
      He liked being slapped by her, which was why he allowed her to do that.
      He knew he had done her wrong, which was why he would even take 876 slaps willingly from her.


      He did not end up with 876 slaps, only three.
      At that precise moment the crazy, obsessed-looking Miss Keke gave him three slaps, her thumb also hit his "Yingxiang" acupoint under the nose.
      So Li Huai found himself in a bad situation again.


    ..


      The old mansion and its deep courtyard were bleak and cold, indescribably solemn and awe-inspiring.
      There were countless crimson dots of plum blossoms. A few old buildingsa courtyard, a terrace, a tower, and a pavilion. A lonely old man sitting alone under the porch, looking long isolated from the world.
      It wasn't the world that wanted to isolate him, but he who wanted to isolate the world.


      A tall, brawny old man, also with silvery-white hair, crossed the snow-laden courtyard with footsteps almost lighter than a civet cat's.
      They left almost no footprints in the snow.
      The tall, brawny old man came up to him and suddenly seemed much shorter.
      "We've received news of the young master."
      "Go and bring him back." The lonely eyes of the lonely old man suddenly lit up. "No matter where he is, no matter what method you use, you must bring him back."
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:49 AM. Reason: fix errors

  18. #18
    Junior Member onlyforotherstuff's Avatar
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    thank you for picking this up!!

  19. #19
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    Chapter 5: Yinyi (Silver Shirt)


    1


      Even Li Huai was somewhat bewildered this time, not knowing how he got himself into such a bad situation. He never thought he would end up so badly in the soup one day.
      He was really unlucky. Someone had sealed his "Yingxiang" acupoint under his nose so deviously and cunningly.
      Even worse, it was sealed by a girla girl he trusted completely. She followed that by sealing another seventeen or eighteen of his acupoints.
      So Mr. Li Huai, himself notorious for every sort of devious trick, could only sit obediently on a big rosewood chair, waiting for someone to fix him.
      Who and how would that someone fix him?
      "Keke, why did you do that to me?"
      "Because I hate you, I hate you so much."
      "How have I offended you?"
      "You're not even human, you're a living ghost. That's why you only like that female living ghost from the moon."
      Li Huai laughed. He laughed wickedly.
      You have to really admire him for being able to laugh at such a moment.
      "What are you laughing at?"
      "I'm laughing at you. So you're jealous."


      In fact, he shouldn't have laughed.
      He must know one mustn't laugh at jealous girls.
      Because jealous girls can end up murdering people.


      Li Huai knew he could lose his life this time when he saw Boss Fang and Han Jun walk in from the outside.


    2


      Han Jun was also laughing.
      Of course, he had reasons to laugh. He could at last account for the missing gold, stolen from the imperial treasury. And at last, he could bring that criminal mastermind, Li Huai, to justice.
      "You son of a *****," Li Huai cursed in a very gentle voice. "You damn bastard. You stole the gold. You want me to be your scapegoat. I can forgive you that, because if I were you, I would probably have done that too. But why do you want me dead?"
      "Because you're bad."
      Han Jun hadn't laughed so much since he was five. "If I allowed someone as bad as you to live, how could I ever sleep for the rest of my life?"
      And naturally, Boss Fang was laughing too.
      Li Huai stared at him and suddenly said in a very mysterious voice. "I wouldn't be laughing if I were you."
      "Why not?"
      Li Huai lowered his voice even more mysteriously. "Don't you know your daughter's already carrying my child?"
      The smile on Boss Fang's face froze. He struck Li Huai's face with the back of his hand.
      That same smile remained on Li Huai's face.
      "It's alright for you to hit me. What a pity, you can never hit that child in your daughter's belly," Li Huai said. "Why she hates me so much and tried so hard to harm me, is because I'm ignoring her although she's carrying my baby."


      Fang Tianhao's face turned green. He suddenly spun around and stormed out.
      Li Huai smiled even more wickedly. He knew that the man was going to settle scores with his daughter. He also knew that Keke's reputation was ruined forever.
      She was a sneaky girl carrying a bad boy's child. She would be in trouble herself once her father caught hold of her.
      Li Huai felt he had somewhat avenged himself.


      Li Huai was really bad, but he seldom took revenge as coldly and cruelly as he was doing now.
      He wasn't that sort of a man.


    3


      But unfortunately, a string of misfortunes often accompanies an unlucky man.
      Fang Tianhao had stormed out. Now, he was suddenly retreating again.
      He kept stepping back, looking like he had seen the god of plague.
      Li Huai didn't know what was happening outside, but it wasn't difficult for him to see that Fang Tianhao must have encountered something very shocking. He could guess that even with his navel.
      Only a few things could have alarmed Fang Tianhao so much, under the present circumstances.
      Li Huai became curious, like a seventeen-year-old girl faced with fresh, amorous feelings when taking a first lover.
      What was beyond that door? What had happened? No one could answer these questions, not even Li Huai.
      They were all getting nervous.


      "Who is that?" Han Jun darted out like an arrow, shouting quietly, poised to strike with his deadly left fist and right palm.
      Yet he too suddenly retreated like Fang Tianhao, taking steps backward. There was the same look of shock and fear on his face.
      A tall, elderly, and majestic man with a head of silver hair slowly walked in from the outside.


      Li Huai's heart sank.
      If there was ever someone in this world who could give him a headache upon seeing him, it was this man.


    4


      The old man's hair was like silvery-white strands. His attire glowed with the same silvery light. Even his belt was pure silver braided with platinum.
      The man never once denied he was extremely extravagant and fussyfastidious about every detail concerning his clothes, food, housing, and transport.
      These were clearly his shortcomings, yet no one could deny that his strengths far outnumbered his weaknesses.
      Most importantly, he was absolutely entitled to enjoying everything he loved.


      The old man paced in slowly, his hands behind his back. Han Jun and Fang Tianhao immediately bowed, showing him the deepest, most heartfelt respect.
      "Chief Steward, you last showed up in the jianghu nearly ten years ago. What brought you to this place today?" Fang Tianhao asked.
      "How is the Old Villa Master these days?" Han Jun asked even more reverentially. "Is the Young Master slightly better?"
      The elderly man merely gave them a faint smile. He said nothing in reply. But Li Huai shouted,
      "The Old Villa Master's getting worse each day, and the Young Master's dying. How can he tell you that? He won't even give a fart, of course."
      "What impudence!"
      Fang Tianhao and Han Jun shouted together. Han Jun struck at once. He already wanted to silence Li Huai. Of course, he wouldn't miss this golden opportunity.
      So naturally, he attacked with his most deadly strike.
      A blow that had killed so many in the martial arts community.
      With seventeen or eighteen of his major acupoints sealed, what else could a man do but wait for death?
      Li Huai knew he still had a chance. But it was a chance he didn't want to have at all.


    5


      Han Jun unleashed his full power, aiming to kill two birds with one stone. He not only wanted to silence Li Huai, but also impress that peerless personage, the Chief Steward.
      So he attacked, intending to kill.
      There was a flash of silvery light. Even Han Jun was surprised as his body flew out. Even more unexpectedly, that silvery flash turned out to be the Chief Steward's long robe sleeve.
      Fang Tianhao was stunned.
      What followed astonished them even more. Despite them showing him such great reverence, the Chief Steward actually walked up to Li Huai and bowedeven more respectfully than they did to himself. That in spite of Li Huai insulting him.
      Fang Tianhao and Han Jun could not believe their eyes. How could such a thing ever happen in this world?
      What they next heard astonished them even more. The old man was like a deity from heaven, clad in majestic shining silver. Yet he actually spoke in a humble servant's voice:
      "Second Young Master, the Villa Master wants this servant to take you home."
      Go home?
      A rootless wanderer, a bad boy with no home since young. He had no family, no food to eat... where was his home?
      Amidst the unending procession of long and short pavilions, where was his home? (a quotation from a Chinese poem)


    6


      Keke suddenly appeared at the doorway, blocking the silver-haired elderly man whom the other two did not dare to.
      "Who are you? Are you Tie Yinyi, that man who massacred so many twenty years ago?"
      "I am."
      "Why are you taking him away?"
      "I was ordered to."
      "By whom?"
      "Old Villa Master Li, a man whom every hero respects."
      "Why is he ordering you to take him home? I saved this man's life, gave up my life's happiness for him. I'm already pregnant with his child. I worked so hard to catch him this time. I even turned my hometown into a ghost town."
      Keke's voice was hoarse from shouting.
      "Why can't I have him stay here? Old Villa Master Li has no right to take him away!"
      Tie Yinyi remained silent for a long time. Then he said slowly, stressing each word: "Old Villa Master Li is his father."
      "His father?" Keke was laughing maniacally. "What did his father ever do for him? He never wanted him as a boy. He never cared about him. So why is he getting you to take him back?"
      Keke's laughter almost sounded like sobs. She forcefully tugged Li Huai's sleeve.
      "I know that you won't go back. You were unwanted as a boy. No one cared or gave a damn about you. So why would you go back now?"
      "I want to."
      "Why?"
      Li Huai remained silent for a long time. Then he said slowly, word by word: "I don't know. I really don't know why."


      In fact, he knew.
      Every rootless wanderer wants to find a home of his own.


    ..


      Another bright moonlit night.
      Like Keke, someone was shedding tears in the bright moonlight. She was using her wispy, moon-like sleeve to wipe away her tearstains under the bright moon, just as quietly.
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:52 AM. Reason: fix errors

  20. #20
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    PART TWO: THE NINE YEARS THAT HAVE VANISHED LIKE SMOKE




    Chapter 1: Li Huai's Home


    1


      The distant mountains. A mountain town.
      The morning of an unknown New Year's Day. Firecrackers crackled incessantly in the distance. The auspicious silvery-white snow on the ground symbolized the year's rich harvest. It was undoubtedly a year of joy for most people.
      But for this boy, it was a year no different from many other years. He had nothing but humiliation, suffering, and hunger.
      In this world, he had no kin. And never a single day of easy rest.
      He had nothing in this world at all.
      While everyone was feeling so happy and joyous, he was feeling utterly miserable and lonely.


      He hid in that thatched hut by the foot of the mountain, all by himself. Those red flowers, fresh fruits, new clothes, firecrackers, dumplings, roast pork, and red packets belonged to the other children. He never once dreamed of having them.
      A little girl in red brought him a chicken thigh, two chunks of roast pork, three fried pancakes, four marinated eggs, five or six rolls of sugar cakesall wrapped up in a scarlet silk handkerchief. She gave them quietly to him. But he drove the girl away.
      He didn't want any pity. He didn't want any alms.
      The little girl cried and cried and went away, leaving the chicken thigh, roast pork, fried pancakes, marinated eggs, and sugar cakes scattered in the snow by the slope. He could easily walk out, pick them up, and eat. No one would know, no one would mock him.
      But he didn't.
      Although he was starving, he didn't pick them up. He would rather die of starvation than pick them up.
      He was born with such a temperament.
      A temperament that flowed in his blood. Never to compromise, never to give in, never to submit.


    2


      A tall, elderly, majestic man with a head of silvery hair suddenly appeared before the boy. The man had been observing him quietly from a distance for a long time.
      The boy stared back at the old man. He asked fiercely,
      "Why are you staring at me like that on New Year's Day? You should be celebrating with your children at home! What's on me to stare at?"
      The old man sounded so solemn, the solemnity almost bordered on pain.
      "What's your family name?" he asked the boy.
      "I don't know."
      "You don't know? You don't even know your family name?"
      "Why must I?" The boy jerked his mouth, squinting and puffing out his chest. "I have no father, no mother, and I don't know my family name. This is my family affair and none of your damn business at all, so why are you asking me?"
      The old man stared at him, with a sorrowful pain that intensified in his eyes.
      "How do you know you have nothing to do with me? I came here especially to look for you."
      "Came here for me? You don't even know me! What do you want from me?"
      "But I do know you."
      "You know me? Are you kidding?" The boy was surprised. "You mean you know who I am?"
      "I know, of course I know." The old man's voice was full of pain and sorrow. "I also know your father. Without him, I would be worse off than even you alive."
      The child stared at him in amazement for a long time.
      "Who are you?" The boy asked him. "Give me your family name."
      "My family name is Tie (Iron)."
      "And you know mine?"
      "Your family name is Li," the old man said. "Your name ought to be Li Shan (Li the Benevolent)."
      The boy suddenly laughed.
      "Li Shan? My name ought to be Li Shan? A boy like me, if my family name is Li, must be called Li Huai (Li the Bad)."




    Chapter 2: Flesh and Blood


    1


      The old man took the boy away.
      "Where are you taking me?"
      "Home."
      "Home? Do I have a home?"
      "You do," said the old man. "I'm sure you'll be proud of your home, and your home will be proud of you."
      "Proud of me? A kid like me who's been every inch bad, from head to toe?"
      "You aren't bad."
      "I'm not bad? So how bad would mean bad?"
      "You can only be bad if you do mean, shameless, despicable things," the old man said. "But you won't do them."
      "How do you know that?"
      "Because you're a member of the Li family, your father's own flesh and blood." The old man sounded more serious. "As long as you can keep that bit of a backbone, I can guarantee that no one in this world will ever dare treat you with the slightest contempt."


    2


      And so Li Huai went home. It was the first time he went home, nine years ago.
      Now, he was going home again.
      With the passing of years, so many things and people had changed. After nine years, the boy was now a grown-up.
      After nine years, he had mastered a peerless skill.
      After nine years, he had unearthed a treasure that can rival a nation's wealth.


      Nine years. How many things had changed in nine years?
    Last edited by kychong; 09-25-22 at 03:53 AM. Reason: fix errors

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