Use the translation feature to translate novels into different languages

Before and After the Duel Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Urgent Message from a Strange Man

Autumn. The maple on the mountains have already turned into various shades of red, the glint of the road was now covered by a layer of white. The dead of Autumn was approaching.

The 13th of September. Just before dawn. Li Yan Bei walked out of office number 12 of his 30 offices as he made his way quickly down the still fog covered street. The jug of Bamboo Green and an hour worth of fooling around did not seem to have any tiring effect on him.

He well over 2 meters tall with a huge and strong build that was brimming with expectant energy. On that serious, dark browed, sharp eyed, eagle-nosed face of his was always an expression that was bordering on cruelty, just like that of an ancient leopard that had just leapt out of the bushes.

Anybody, no matter who he or she might be, would have a little bit of respect and fear when they come across him, and he would never carry himself lightly either.

Even ten years ago, he was already one of the most powerful man in this ancient city. A group of men followed him about 5 meters behind him, seemingly having to run just to keep up with him. Within this group of men was the head and the individual escorts of the 3 biggest escort services in all of the capital city, as well as the heads of the underground organizations within the cities just outside of the capital, not to mention the wardens and bosses of the most successful businesses and loan sharks within the city.

There were also several people who had settled down in the city more than 10 years ago but about whose background nobody had any clues about.

They were all rich and successful middle aged men, and none of them wanted to leave the warmth of their home to walk about on this bitterly cold street this early in the day. But they had to make a walk like this every morning.

Because Li Yan Bei particularly liked to walk along this set path for at least an hour every morning before dawn. This place could practically be called his kingdom. During this walk, his head would always be particularly sharp and his assessments would always be particularly accurate. He liked to have his most trusted men following right behind him so he could give them instructions on the fly. Besides, this had been a habit of his for many years now. Just like the morning court that the Emperor holds, it does not matter if you like it or not, you could not miss it.

Ever since the Head Escort of the “World Shaking Escort”, “Golden Sabre” Feng Kun, was dragged by him out of his bed and into a frozen river one particularly cold morning, nobody has missed one of these walks even once.

The light of the morning sun have not yet arisen, the wind still carried with it the chilling fragrance of the night, the branches on the trees on the side of the road had long been stripped bare of leaves, and the dew on the fallen leaves had already turned into a layer of thin Autumn frost.

Li Yan Bei’s fists were tight as he had already walked from the outer walls of the city all the way to the center of the city just outside of the front gate.

“Sun Chong!” He suddenly yelled out. Immediately, a middle aged man in a gentry outfit and a slight whisker came running out among the men behind him and caught up to him. This was one of the best and most famous men under the command of Li Yan Bei, none other than the head of the “Hall of Satisfaction”, the same hall whose weapons making was known throughout all of China.

“Did I not instruct you 15 years ago to never ever take Da Zong’s business again?” Li Yan Bei asked with a grave voice. He did not slow down and wait for him to catch up, nor did he even look at him.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then why is it that last night, you sold 66 sabres, 50 swords, and all of the bow and arrows from your weapon’s arsenal?”

Sun Chong’s head dipped as his expression dropped. Obviously, he did not think that Li Yan Bei could have found out about this so soon.

“This deal’s intake was huge, practically paying for itself,” he stammered, “besides….”

“Besides, business is still just business, right?” Li Yan Bei sneered.

Sun Chong did not answer but instead only held his head even lower.

Li Yan Bei’s fists were even tighter as the look of anger appeared on his face.

“Do you know who is the man behind all those purchases?” He suddenly asked.

Sun Chong hesitantly shook his head. But his eyes were sneaking peeks at the surrounding. At this time, they had just made their way onto a very narrow street with cherry trees on the side that was off angle with the other streets. The shops and vendors on the side of the street were not yet open. But at this precise moment, two huge covered horse drawn carts charged out of the narrow alleys on either side of the street and cut them off in the middle of the street.

Next, the black cloth covering the cart were suddenly lifted as well — revealing about a dozen men in black on both carts, each with a bow in hand, each of the bows already drawn in full, each with an arrow aimed at Li Yan Bei. Sun Chong had wanted to jump onto a cart, but Li Yan Bei had already grabbed his wrist.

His face suddenly turned deadly pale as he tried to scream.

“Cease….” was all he could get out before the vibrations from the bows drawned out his voice as the arrows filled the sky.

Li Yan Bei widened his stance and, with a simple flick of his arm, spun Sun Chong up in the air and right into the oncoming arrows. In an instant Sun Chong’s body was covered with arrows like a hedgehog. Li Yan Bei let out a yell and was prepared to charge onto the carts. But unexpectedly, as soon as this group of shooters let loose their arrows, they immediately fell down onto the floor of the car only to be replaced with another shift of archers behind them.

Twenty eight bows were fully drawn, arrows awaiting release. Li Yan Bei froze.

That crowd of people following him was already cut off by a third cart. Even if his body was fashioned out of iron, there was no way he could survive rounds after rounds of this kind of assault!

After 20 years of struggles, several hundreds of battles and fights, he still could not avoid falling into his enemies’ traps.

Li Yan Bei’s eyes were blood filled as he looked like a wolf that had fallen into the hunter’s trap. Just one twang of the bow and even this proud and mighty leader of the capital city would be hard pressed to avoid having his heart pierced by an arrow.

But it was precisely at that instant, a sudden and sharp sound of something flying through the air could be heard coming from the roof on the left.

Flash! Two streaks of green flew across the bows.

“Zeng!” “Zeng!” “Zeng!”

With a string of sounds like marbles dropped on the floor, the strings of all 28 bows were instantly cut in half by the two streaks of light! Then came a loud but flat thud as those two streaks smashed against the door on the right. They turned out to be nothing more than two bronze coins.

Who could be so strong as to be able to cut 28 bows in half with just two coins? The faces of the archers were deathly pale as they all began to tumble off of the cart and running towards the narrow alleys. But Li Yan Bei did not chase after them.

These men were not his opponents, they were not worthy to be his foe. Besides, he had learned quite a long time ago that killing could not make people truly respect you.

Instead, he just took a deep breath and announced in a grave voice: “Slow down, no need to rush everyone. Go back and tell your master that since Li Yan Bei did not die today, he will surely find him one of these days!”

Someone began clapping on top of the roof on the left.

“Great stuff! Such composure! Such dignity! Truly fitting of the famed Li Yan Bei!” That person shouted with a hint of laughter.

Li Yan Bei began to laugh as well.

“Pity even if the famed Li Yan Bei had three heads and six arms, he would still not be a match for Lu Xiao Feng’s two fingers!”

With a hearty laugh, that person jumped down from the roof. His round and chiselled face was covered with dust and wear from travel, but his eyes were still bright, and his eye brows were still shiny black.

Four eyebrows. Other than him, who else in this world could grow a mustache as pretty as his eyebrows?

“You figured out who I am?”

“Golden Coin Flick takes strength in one’s fingers,” Li Yan Bei observed. “Other than Lu Xiao Feng, who else could slice the strings of 28 bows in half?”


The sun had already risen. Under the sunlight, the steam that poured out from the frying pan looked like a morning fog.

Lu Xiao Feng had a fuming piece of pork in one hand and a bowl of fermented bean soup in the other, his third bowl. Only after draining this third bowl did he finally let out a drawn out sigh and wipe the sweat off of his forehead.

“In the three years since I’ve been back at the capital, you know what I’ve missed the most?” He asked with a smile.

“Bean soup?” Li Yan Bei answered with a smile.

Lu Xiao Feng threw his head back and laughed.

“The thing I missed the most is indeed bean soup, and the second most is fried liver, especially the fire fried liver of Gathering Gods Inn, not to mention Shiny Glow Pavilion northern roast and Meat Pie Street’s meat pie.”

“What about me?” asked an amused Li Yan Bei.

“Well, when I’m not hungry, only then would I think of you,” replied a smiling Lu Xiao Feng.

“But you probably didn’t think that there would come a day when I would almost perish in the hands of another.”

Lu Xiao Feng had to admit that was true.

“I didn’t think you were going to let them go either!”

“You think I like killing?”

A smile appeared on Lu Xiao Feng’s face again.

“If you did like killing, then I’m afraid you wouldn’t have lived until today.”

“Yet you….”

“Yet you still should have at least asked who sent them!” Lu Xiao Feng cut him off.

A smile appeared on Li Yan Bei’s face as well.

“I didn’t need to ask.

“You already figured it out?”

The smile on Li Yan Bei’s face did not exactly look happy.

“Other than Old Du from the southern half of the city, who else would have enough guts to try to pull a move like that?” He casually stated.

“Du Tong Xuan?”

Li Yan Bei nodded, but the small boiled clam shell that he had just picked up was already squeezed to dust.

“The two of you have not meddled with each other for the last ten years, and he should have known a long time ago that you are not an easily dealt with person. Why would he take a risk like this?”

“For six hundred thousand taels of silver and his territories in the south of the city.”

Lu Xiao Feng did not understand.

“I’ve a bet with him, and the wager is six hundred thousand taels of silver and all of his territory.”

That was truly quite a wager. Even Lu Xiao Feng could not help but take a deep breath.

“So what are you two betting on?”

“The duel on September 15th!”

-Night of full moon, peak of Zi Jin, a sword from the west, an angel from the outer heavens!

“The duel was originally scheduled for August 15th on top of Mount Zi Jin. But Xi Men Chui Xue insisted on delaying the date for a month and changing its location to here.”

“I know.”

“Ever since that day of August 15th, nobody in the world has seen or heard of Xi Men Chui Xue!”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed again. Of course, he knew about that as well. He was also trying to find Xi Men Chui Xue, trying very hard.

“That’s the reason why everyone thinks that Xi Men Chui Xue is afraid of Ye Gu Cheng,” Li Yan Bei continued, “that he must have already gone into hiding.”

“But you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s not that kind of a man!”

Li Yan Bei nodded.

“That’s why even though others think he’d surely lose, I’m still betting on him to win! No matter how much the wager.”

“Of course, Du Tong Xuan can’t let an opportunity like this slip away.”

“So he made a bet with me.”

“Using his territory as a wager against your territory?”

“And if he loses, he has to pay an extra six hundred thousand taels of silver on top.”

“I know, even a month ago, people were willing to take two to three odds that Ye Gu Cheng would win!”

“The bookies’ odds reached two to one a couple of days ago. Everyone still thinks that Ye Gu Cheng would win. Up until yesterday morning, Du Tong Xuan still believed that he had a nine in ten chance of winning.”

“Up until yesterday morning?”

“Because the situation had completely changed yesterday afternoon!”


Li Yan Bei stared at Lu Xiao Feng in almost disbelief.

“Have you really not heard of the news that Ye Gu Cheng has been injured?”

Lu Xiao Feng shook his head, obviously shocked by the news.

“How could he be injured? Who could injure him?”

“Tang Tian Yi.”

“The Tang Family’s eldest son?” Lu Xiao Feng frowned.


“Rumour has it that for some unknown reason or another, the two of them got into a confrontation near Zhang Jia Kou. Even though Ye Gu Cheng’s move, Outer Heaven Angel, badly injured Tang Tian Yi, he was also hit by a handful of Tang Tian Yi’s Poison Sand.”

The Tang Family poisons could only be cured by the descendants of the Tang Family. When someone is hit by their poison, no matter who it is, even if he did not die right away, he still does not have much longer to live.

“Once this news reached here, those men who placed their bets on Ye Gu Cheng have been like ants on a frying pan, some have considered suicide, other have tried to figure out a way to have the bet called off.”

“And of course, if the other bettor is dead, then the bet is off!” Lu Xiao Feng concluded.

Li Yan Bei let out a colder snicker.

“That’s why Du Tong Xuan would take such a risk to try and kill me!” Li Yan Bei finished the thought for him.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed. He finally understood the wherefore and why of this event.

“Rumour has it that just last night alone, there has been at least 30 deaths in the city because of this. Even the West Imperial Palace’s warden, “Iron Palm Turns the Sky”, was ambushed by someone in the alley behind Iron Lion Lane because he placed an eight thousand tael bet on Xi Men Chui Xue.”

“Didn’t think eight thousand taels of silver was enough to buy Iron Palm Zhao’s life!” Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“Sometimes, even eighty taels of silver is more than enough to buy a life!”

Lu Xiao Feng looked down at the food in front of him and discovered that, suddenly, he was not that hungry anymore.

“Did anybody actually see the duel between Ye Gu Cheng and Tang Tian Yi with his own eyes?” He suddenly asked.


“Well if nobody saw it, then how are we so sure that this news is reliable?” Lu Xiao Feng asked.

“Because everyone believes that the source of this news would never lie!”

“Who’s the source?”

“Honest Monk!”

Lu Xiao Feng could not say anything more. Not for the first time, nobody could find anything to say with regards to Honest Monk’s credibility.

“Honest Monk arrived in the city around noon yesterday,” Li Yan Bei explained, “the first thing he did was go over to ‘Ear Eyes’ and ordered stewed dumplings. He ate one dumpling, and let out a sigh!”

By this time, the oil on the pork had already froze in the September winds of the North. At a glance, it looked like a layer of frost.

“The Four Swords of Heaven just happened to be eating there at the time, so they asked him why did he sigh,” Li Yan Bei continued. “That’s when Honest Monk broke the news.”

Of course, the Four Swords of Heaven were not the only ones who heard the news.

“Other than Honest Monk and the Four Swords of Heaven, at least four or five hundred men of honour have made their way to the city in the last half a month.”

Lu Xiao Feng looked down at the oil on the meat, he suddenly felt the urge to puke.

“From what I heard, there should be at least three to four hundred more famous men from the martial world who will arrive before the 15th, among them are at least five heads of sects, ten clan leaders, and twenty three escort masters. Even Wu Dang’s Wooden Taoist and Shao Lin’s Master Abbot will travel here. Nobody wants to miss this duel.”

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly slammed his palm down onto the table.

“What do they think Xi Men Chui Xue and Ye Gu Cheng are? Two circus monkeys doing tricks? Two dogs fighting over a discarded bone in the street?” He sneered.

The meat and the fire pan jumped up from the table when he slammed his palm down and eventually rolled to a stop on the ground.

Li Yan Bei looked at Lu Xiao Feng in shock. He had never seen Lu Xiao Feng so emotional, nor could he figure out what made Lu Xiao Feng so angry.

“Aren’t you here to watch the duel too?” He had to ask.

Lu Xiao Feng’s fists were clenched tight.

“I only hope to never see this duel!”

“But now that Ye Gu Cheng has been injured, there’s no way that Xi Men Chui Xue would lose!”

“It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s all the same!”

“Isn’t Xi Men Chui Xue your friend?”

“Precisely because he is my friend, that’s why I don’t want to see him like a dog chasing after an unseen bone!”

“What unseen bone?” Li Yan Bei still did not understand.

“Reputation.” – What other people think of you is precisely that piece of unseen bone.

“If he does win this duel, it’ll let you win Du Tong Xuan’s territory, and those self-aggrandizing self-righteous swordsmen would all get to see a good show, not to mention they get to see their moves as well as the flaws and weaknesses of their techniques. But what about himself?” Lu Xiao Feng coldly continued.

Would he not have won? But even if he did win, what good would it do him? Could anyone really understand the loneliness of the victor? Li Yan Bei had finally understood Lu Xiao Feng.

He quietly stared at Lu Xiao Feng, stared at him for a long time.

“This duel of theirs, they wanted to fight themselves,” he finally said, slowly. “Nobody forced them to do this!”

Of course not. There was absolutely nobody in this world that could force those two men to do anything.

“I am also Xi Men Chui Xue’s friend,” Li Yan Bei continued. “I don’t want to see him take this risk either, nor do I ever intended to use him to get Du Tong Xuan’s territory. But if he wanted this fight himself, then I can’t do anything to stop him!”

He looked Lu Xiao Feng in the eye and continued, emphasizing every word.

“Even you can’t do anything to stop him!”

Lu Xiao Feng did not want to admit it, but he could not deny it either.

“Even more importantly, even the two of them themselves can’t do anything to stop it either!” Li Yan Bei concluded.

Many things in this world are like that. There are just some things that a man has to do in this world, and it does not really matter if he wants to or not.

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly let out a gentle sigh.

“I’m tired, I want to go take a warm bath!”


The bath was carved out of limestone and the water was very hot. Lu Xiao Feng submerged himself entirely under the hot water and tried his best to relax his arms and legs. He was truly exhausted, the kind of mental and physical exhaustion that originates from deep within one’s heart.

Anytime he finish something big, or solve a huge case, he would always feel like this. But never as deep as this.

The Embroidery Bandit, Jin Jiu Ling, Lu Shao Hua, First Madame Gong Sun, Jiang Chong Wei, Ou Yang Qing, Xue Bing… he never wanted to think of these people again, especially Xue Bing.

Everytime he thinks of Xue Bing, his heart would feel like it was being stabbed – stabbed by a sewing needle, a long, sharp, burning, and poisonous needle. In order to escape the pain, he went so far as to try and avoid First Madame Gong Sun. That’s why as soon as he reached Jin Ling, he found a way and quietly left her.

Pity that some things in this world he could not escape from, nor could they be avoided. Xi Men Chui Xue, Ye Gu Cheng, Du Tong Xuan, Honest Monk….

He did not want to think anymore.

“Xi Men Chui Xue must have already arrived here!” He suddenly declared.

“How can you be so sure?” Li Yan Bei was lying on the side of the bath. A burly looking topless man was busy washing his back for him. This place was inside of his territory. He was as safe here as royalties in their own castles.

“Xi Men Chui Xue always had this quirky concept.”

“What concept is that?”

“He had always felt that killing or being killed is a very holy event!”


“So matter who he is dueling, he would always arrive a couple of days early, fast for three days, and then take a ceremonial bath to cleanse himself.”

Li Yan Bei suddenly let out a little laugh.

“And you think that he’s weird for doing that?”

“You don’t think he’s weird for doing that?”


“Why not?”

“Because if I was him, I would do the same thing!”

He raised his hand to signal to the burly fellow to put scrub harder. More than ten years worth of enjoying the finest wine and women have not yet left its mark on his body. He stomach was still washboard flat and the muscles on his body were still as prominent as they were in the old days. These daily baths and power massages really have helped him immensely.

“Fasting and cleansing can clear a man’s mind and help him concentrate. Arriving several days ahead of time at the location of the duel would help acclimate one to the place, making it possible to gain a positional advantage during the duel. That’s why I have always believed that Xi Men Chui Xue is not a man who’s easily defeated. Because if he wasn’t 70% sure of winning, he would never fight to begin with.”

“So you think he has already arrived as well?”


“But even until today, you still have not found a trace of him.”


Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

“Two people who attracts attention as much as them arrived here and you didn’t hear a thing? That’s truly amazing.”

Li Yan Bei frowned as well.

“Two? Who’s the other person?”

“Sun Xiu Qing.”

{Note: Lu Xiao Feng actually replied Sun Xiu Zhen, I changed it to keep it consistent with the rest of the book.}

“A woman?”

“A very beautiful woman!”

“He’s keeping a woman at his side this close to the duel?”

“He would never let other women be at his side, but she’s different.”

Li Yan Bei frowned even deeper and thought for a long time before letting out a loud sigh.

“Fortunately, Ye Gu Cheng’s already injured, else….”

He turned over and suddenly stopped talking. Outside of the steam fogged room, a ghostly shape of a man suddenly appeared.

“Who is it?” Li Yan Bei demanded in a fierce voice.

That man did not answer, instead there came a sinister laugh.

“You shouldn’t have came here for a bath today!”

“Why not?” Li Yan Bei demanded again.

“Because if Du Tong Xuan could buy Sun Chong, he could definitely buy the man who washes your back for you!”

The man’s expression changed dramatically as he suddenly made a break for the door. But Li Yan Bei had already grabbed a hold of his arm. He was normally strong man, but under Li Yan Bei’s grasp, he suddenly did not even have the strength the fight back. He tried to struggle, but only heard the sound of his own wrist snapping.

“The poison is on the towel, if you want the antidote, go wait in the Oriental Spring Pavilion outside.”

The ghostly man moved like a ghost as well, with a mere flick of his sleeve, he was gone. But his voice could still be heard from far away.

“Once you get to Oriental Spring Pavilion, you’d find out who I am, you can still come after me then!”

By the time he finished, he sounded at least 200 meters away.

Li Yan Bei tore the towel away from the man’s hand. That man was still screaming from the pain as Li Yan Bei stuffed the towel into his open mouth. His scream suddenly stopped as his body twitched violently. His entire body literally shriveled up as he curled up and fell onto the floor, not moving anymore. There really was poison on this towel!

When that man was scrubbing his back, the poison on the towel soak through his skin. Suddenly, every muscle on Li Yan Bei’s body began to twitch and jump uncontrollably.

Even Lu Xiao Feng was taken aback by the sight before him.

“Du Tong Xuan! What a sinister move!”

“And who was that man just then?” Li Yan Bei asked, fist clenched tightly as he tried to control himself. “How did he know about Du Tong Xuan’s plan? And why would he safe me?”

To find the answers, there was only one thing to do.

“To the Oriental Spring Pavilion!”

Oriental Spring Pavilion was also in Li Yan Bei’s territory. They rode there on a carriage even though Li Yan Bei liked to walk. However, because he was afraid that the poison would break out, he did not want to exert any more strength than necessary.

Those who seen him were as polite and courteous as they normally were towards him, bowing deeply as a sign of respect as soon as they saw him approach. Nobody could tell that this tiger of a man’s life was in danger. Of course, Li Yan Bei was not as polite and courteous as he normally would be towards these people — nobody with a sack of explosive that could go off at any moment inside of them would be in that good of a mood.

The Oriental Spring Pavilion was huge and had a thriving business. At the time that they arrived, there was no table open, but everywhere Li Yan Bei goes there would inevitably be someone getting up and yielding the table to him. They picked a table in the center of the room, facing the stairs so they could immediately see everyone came up the stairs. There was nobody coming upstairs, only people going down.

Seeing the vicious look on Li Yan Bei’s face, those who knew better were already getting ready to leave, some were quietly making payment and some others were secretly discussing the situation.

Suddenly, all the noise and sound in the building stopped. Every eye were glued on one single person, a person who had just walked the stairs.

This man was very tall, and very thin. His clothing were obviously very meticulously picked out and his mannerisms were exceedingly refined. Even though he was not that old, his sideburns were already turning white. His skinny and green face always seemed to be carrying not only at least some signs of illness but also a definite feeling of power and authority, making it impossible for people to take him lightly.

He was wearing a jade blue outfit made of the highest quality of cloth and color, on his effeminate and well preserved pair of hands was a priceless white jade ring. Even on his silk belt was a huge piece of flawless jade. From his appearence, he looked just like an official from the Imperial Court or a scholar from the Imperial Academy.

In truth, quite a number of people do call him Scholar, and he really enjoyed being called that. But he was not a real scholar.

He was smiling when he walked up the stairs, but everybody who saw him walking up was finding it difficult to smile, especially Li Yan Bei, his expression turned even sicker.

Nobody could have imagined that Du Tong Xuan would suddenly appear inside of Li Yan Bei’s territory the same way that nobody could imagine that a wolf would walk into a tiger’s cave. In the last ten years, Du Tong Xuan did not set foot outside of the south of the city even once.

Scholar Du was always a very careful and cautious person, what made him change today?

Even more unimaginable for everyone present, he walked straight up to Li Yan Bei.

“I hope General Li is doing well today?” He asked with a smile as he cupped his fist.

He liked it when other people call him Scholar Du, but Li Yan Bei hated it when being referred to as General Li. Lu Xiao Feng laughed. To him, be it Scholar or General, the two names were both quite humourous.

“And might you be the Quick Heart Quick Mind Hero Lu Xiao Feng?” Du Tong Xuan looked over at him and smiled back.

“You are no scholar, he’s no general, and I’m no hero, I say let’s we should just forego all these polite pleasantries.” Lu Xiao Feng replied with a laugh.

Du Tong Xuan’s expression did not even change as his mannerisms still remained as refined and dignified as ever. Lu Xiao Feng was finding it hard to see that this was the same unblinking killer that was Old Man Du of the city south.

Li Yan Bei’s stares were like knives, staring at him.

“If I were you, I would never have came here!” He suddenly declared.

“I’m not you, so I did!”

“You shouldn’t have!”

“I already have!”

“If you want to come here, you can.” Li Yan Bei snickered. “But I’m afraid leaving might not be as easy!”

Du Tong Xuan actually smiled.

“Is this the way that General Li repays someone for saving his life?”

The reply shocked Li Yan Bei.

Du Tong Xuan, using that pair of jade ring wearing hand of his, pulled out a chair and sat down at the table.

“I had thought that you would at least invite me to a drink.” He continued with a smile.

“Was that person who just saved me really you?” Li Yan Bei finally asked despite of himself.

Du Tong Xuan nodded.

Li Yan Bei stared back.

“Just today, there have been two attempts on my life, that’s also you?”

“Sometimes I find it very easy to change my mind!” Du Tong Xuan noted matter of factly.

“What made you change your mind?”

Du Tong Xuan did not answer that question; instead, he suddenly shouted: “The antidote!”

Almost before he finished shouting, a man was there behind him. A short and skinny man wearing all black. His deathly pale complexion was completely devoid of all emotion and expression, but his eyes were deeply sunken and dark as abyss. If not for his eyes, he could have easily been mistaken for a corpse.

All these people here in the room, yet amazingly nobody saw how he had gotten there. A corpse-like face, a ghost-like quickness — Li Yan Bei quickly discerned that he was none other than the man who mysteriously appeared and disappeared outside of the bath earlier. With a demon claw like hand, he had already placed a deathly green colored wooden flask on the table.

“This is the antidote, I suggest it would be best if you take it as soon as possible, before the effects of the poison breaks out!”

Li Yan Bei’s fist remained clenched. For him to take this antidote in front of all these people would truly be an enormous embarrasement.

But he just could not refuse either.

And Du Tong Xuan knew he could not refuse.

“I was just going to come here to deliver the antidote, but now….” He casually declared.

“You changed your mind again?”

Du Tong Xuan smiled.

“I only just thought something else to ask of you!”


“Don’t know if you are interested in adding a little bit more to our wager!”

Li Yan Bei was taken aback once again.

“You want to raise the wager?”

“You are scared?”

“How much more do you want to raise?”

“How much more can you wager?”

Li Yan Bei’s fists underneath the table were clenched again.

“In my four bookies, there are still stored more than eight hundred thousand more taels of silver!”

“Then I’ll place another one million two hundred thousand taels of silver in them first thing tomorrow!” His eyes were glowing. “I don’t want to take advantage of you, so we are still wagering on two to three odds!”

Li Yan Bei’s eyes were glowing as well, he stared Du Tong Xuan in the face and declared, word for word: “If I lose, I would immediately leave the capital. As long as you live, I would never set foot inside the capital again!”

“If I lose, I would immediately leave the country, as long as you live, I would never set foot inside the Great Wall again!”

“That settles it then?”

“Hit palms to cement the deal!”

The two men slowly raised their hands, eyes never leaving the other’s eyes. Suddenly, not a sound could be heard anywhere in the building. The wagers in this bet was beyond anyone’s imagination, they had literally wagered the lives of their entire families on the line.

Everyone was staring at the two palms, their own palms covered in a layer of cold sweat.

“Pa!” The sound of the two palms meeting ringed out, but for whom does the bell toll?

Li Yan Bei’s expression was very grave, only after a long while did he finally put his hand down.

But Du Tong Xuan was smiling rather proudly.

“You must find this strange, why would I raise the bet when I know that Ye Gu Cheng is injured?”

Li Yan Bei did not refute the statement, for he really was finding all this very strange. Everybody was. Du Tong Xuan had always been a cautious man and would never do anything he was not sure of. Why would he be so sure about this? The answer to this question would come very quickly!


The wind breezed by outside the window. Suddenly, everyone became aware of a strange flowery fragrance. Six young maidens with ebony black hair down to their shoulders and clad in white came walking up the stairs all the while tossing flowers from the baskets on their hands onto the floor, creating a literal floral carpet of chrysanthemums up the stairs.

A man, stepping on the flower petals, slowly walked up the stairs. His face was white, not a colorless white or a pale white but a kind of vibrant and glowing kind of white, like a white piece of jade.

His eyes were not completely black, but were frighteningly bright, like two cold stars. A top of his pitch black hair sat a pearl crown made of white sandwood. The clothes he was wearing were also as white as the driven snow. He took his time when he walked up like how a king would walk into his own court, or like an angel, coming to visit this world.

Li Yan Bei did not recognize this man, he had never seen this man before in his life. But he knew who this man was!

“A sword from the west, an angel from the outer heavens!” Master of White Cloud Castle Ye Gu Cheng had actually showed up! He was still alive!

There was a glow that almost made one squint eminating from his body. Nobody in his right mind would say that he looked like a man carrying an injury.

When Li Yan Bei saw him, even his breathing almost stopped, but his heart did sink. Ye Gu Cheng did not see him, instead, those cold, starry eyes of his were staring at Lu Xiao Feng. Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“You came as well!” Ye Gu Cheng said.

“I came as well!” Lu Xiao Feng replied.

“Excellent, I knew you would come!”

Lu Xiao Feng did not responde, for Ye Gu Cheng’s eyes suddenly looked away.

“Who among you is Tang Tian Rong?” He suddenly asked.

By the time he asked this questions, his eyes had already settled upon a man in the left corner.

This man’s face was originally very handsome, but by now it suddenly seemed frozen in a twist. He had been sitting quietly in the corner all this time, even Lu Xiao Feng had not noticed him when he arrived. He was still very young but his outfit was very ornate and elegant, but there was vulture like glint of cruelty in his eyes.

Those eyes were staring straight back at Ye Gu Cheng as well.

“I am Tang Tian Rong!” He answered, emphasizing each word.

The people sitting at seven or eight tables between him and Ye Gu Cheng suddenly scattered into the other two corners of the room.

“Do you know who I am?” Ye Gu Cheng asked.

Tang Tian Rong nodded.

“Are you wondering right now exactly how I’m still alive?”

The corner of Tang Tian Rong’s mouth seemed to be flinching involutarily.

“Who gave you the antidote?”

Only now did everybody know that, this time, Honest Monk had still not lied. Ye Gu Cheng really was injured, injured by the Poison Sand of the Tang Family. But yet how could this poison that had long frightened anybody and everybody in all of the martial world until this day not have had any ill effects on Ye Gu Cheng? Who indeed gave him the antidote?

Everybody wanted to hear Ye Gu Cheng’s answer, but yet he just would not answer this question.

Instead, he casually replied: “There was no poison to begin with, why bother with an antidote?”

“No poison to begin with?”

“Where’s the poison in a bit of dust?”

Tang Tian Rong’s face dropped.

“My family’s Flying Sand is nothing but a bit of dust in your eyes?”

Ye Gu Cheng nodded. Tang Tian Rong did not talk anymore, instead, he slowly stood up and loosened his robe to reveal the shirt he wore inside.

His shirt was not strange, nor scary. What was frightening was two leopard skin pouches that were held tightly around his hips along with a pair of fish-skin gloves on his belt!

The entire pavilion suddenly became deathly quiet again. Everybody wanted leave, but nobody was willing to leave. For everybody knew that right here, right now, an incredible battle was about to ensue.

Tang Tian Rong took off his robe and put on his gloves. Those fish skin gloves had an eerie green glow, his face seemed to be a sickly green as well.

Ye Gu Cheng quietly stood there, watching. A boy in white walked up from behind him and offered an ancient and elegant sword in black sheath. Sword was now in hand!

Tang Tian Rong’s eyes did not leave the sword in his hand.

“Anybody else here thinks that my family’s Flying Sand is nothing more than a bit of dust?” He suddenly shouted.

Of course nobody answered!

“If nobody else thinks so, then it would be best if everybody could please go down stairs so as to avoid accidents!”

Those who were unwilling to leave had to leave now. The Tang Family’s Poison Sands, in the eyes of those in the martial world, was even more frightening than the Black Plague. Nobody wanted to risk touching even one.

“No need to leave!” Ye Gu Cheng suddenly declared.

“No need?”

“I guarantee that you could not even release the Flying Sand out of your hand!” He matter of factly answered.

Tang Tian Rong’s expression changed again.

The Tang Family Poison Sand was not just frightening because of the poison it contained, but also because that the Tang Family disciples were extremely fast!

Even those who had witnessed their attack first hand could not describe just how they attacked. But this time Tang Tian Rong really was not even able to release the poisonous sands. As soon as his hands moved, the glow of a sword took flight!

Nobody can describe how spectacular and mesmerizing this strike was, and even less can describe its speed! This was not just a sword, but an angry rumblem from the god of thunder. Like a bolt of lightning, it flashed, and disappeared.

Ye Gu Cheng had already returned onto the floral carpet. But Tang Tian Rong was still standing there, not moving one bit, his arms had fallen to his side, and his face frozen stiff.

It was only then that everyone saw the blood suddenly spewing out from underneath his collarbone on both shoulders. Tears flooded out with the blood. He knew, at this moment, that in his life he would never be able to use the poison again. To a member of the Tang family, it was a fate more frightening and cruel than death itself!

But now Ye Gu Cheng’s attention had returned to Lu Xiao Feng.

“What an extraordinary strike of Outer Heaven Angel!” Even Lu Xiao Feng had to praise the strike.

“It is indeed a strike peerless in all of the world!” Ye Gu Cheng declared.

“I won’t deny that!” Lu Xiao Feng agreed.

A strange emotion suddenly surfaced in Ye Gu Cheng’s eyes and he asked a very strange question.

“What about Xi Men Chui Xue?”

“I’m not Xi Men Chui Xue?” Lu Xiao Feng answered. A strange question could only be answered with a strange reply.

Ye Gu Cheng smiled and stared back at Lu Xiao Feng.

“Good thing you are not.” He slowly replied. Still smiling, he turned around and walked down the stairs.

As soon as he left, the entire pavilion suddenly exploded. Some people were loudly debating, while others were scrambling out to be the first to spread the news. Not only was Ye Gu Cheng not dead, he was not even injured. Everybody had seen his strike! His peerless, matchless strike! Li Yan Bei saw it too, saw it very clearly. That was why he looked like he was staring into space.

Du Tong Xuan looked over at him and suddenly smiled.

“I’m sure you realize now why I changed my mind!”

Li Yan Bei did not answer, and he did not need to answer.

“Usually, I only kill people, I don’t save them, but this time I’ll make an exception.” Du Tong Xuan continued. “Because I don’t want you to die!”

Still smiling, he stood up.

“Because a corpse can’t pay up a debt, a gambling debt!”


Gambling debt. Only a corpse can reneg on such a debt. As long as Li Yan Bei was alive, then he would have to pay up. A man who goes back on his words would never be able to live in a place like this!

Now, even though that battle still had not began, everyone was sure that Li Yan Bei would lose. But if he really lost this bet, being alive was not much better than being dead.

Slowly, hesitantly, Li Yan Bei picked up the antitode that Du Tong Xuan left on the table. He suddenly laughed.

“No matter what, at least Du Tong Xuan saved my life this once!”

His laugh looked very forced. The hand he picked up the antidote from seemed to be slightly shaking.

“No matter what, at least you are still alive right now, and haven’t lost!” Lu Xiao Feng tried to comfort him.

“At least not yet,” Li Yan Bei nodded.

Lu Xiao Feng stared Li Yan Bei in the face.

“But you don’t seem to be nearly as confident as before.”

Li Yan Bei did not refute this notion, nor could he. Only after a long silence did he finally let out a long, drawn out, exhausted sigh.

“That truly was a strike peerless in this world!”

“A peerless strike doesn’t necessarily mean a must-win strike!” Lu Xiao Feng declared.


“There is no must-win strike in this world!”

“I know that Xi Men Chui Xue has never lost before, he should have at least a half a chance to win, but now….”

“Now what?”

Li Yan Bei smiled again, once again, an even more forced smile.

“If he had arrived in the city, at least I would have known it by now!”

“So if you don’t know about it, then that means he hasn’t arrived?”

“You could say that!”

“And if he hadn’t arrived here yet, does that convey that he doesn’t have confidence in himself?”

“What do you think?” Li Yan Bei threw the question back at him.

“I don’t know, I don’t like to speculate too much on things that have yet to happen!”

Upon hearing that comment, Li Yan Bei became silent again.

“Did you recognize that guy who came with Du Tong Xuan?” He suddenly asked.

Lu Xiao Feng shook his head.

“But you probably noticed that his lightness kungfu wasn’t shabby at all!”

“Far from shabby. Right now, the people who are better than him probably number less than 10!”

“You have traveled far and wide and seen many things, don’t you at least have an idea on who he is?”

“If not for his small and skinny stature, I would have probably mistook him for Si Kong Zhai Xing!” Lu Xiao Feng said, in deep thought.

“He isn’t?”

“Absolutely not!”

“Is that why you can’t figure out who he is?”

“But I can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right!”

“What’s bothering you?”

“No matter who he is, based on his skills, there’s no way he should be a servant of a man like that!”

Li Yan Bei did not say anything more for a long time.

“You just arrived here at the capital, I know you must really want to tour the city a bit. I’m sure you’ll meet up with a lot of friends.”

Lu Xiao Feng did not refute this claim.

He really did want to see what kind of people had showed up here, and he also wanted to go find Honest Monk.

“Tonight, I’ll go to Lasting Happiness Hall in Gold Fish Alley and order us a couple of dishes and have them delivered to my house. We’ll celebrate at my house tonight!”

“Great!” Lu Xiao Feng replied before suddenly bursting out laughing. “Which one of your houses is that?”

Li Yan Bei laughed too.

“Today is the 13th? I’m supposed to dine at 13th Mistress’ place tonight. Besides, she’s wanted to see you for a while now and find out why you have 4 eyebrows.”

“I have wanted to meet her too, heard she’s a very famous beauty!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“Great!” Li Yan Bei laughed. “When dinner time rolls around, I’ll order a couple of guys to wait here for you to take you to my place!”

“If I happen to run into Hua Man Lou, I might have to drag him along as well!”

“No problem!”

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly sighed.

“The strange thing is that, he seemed to have disappeared along with Xi Men Chui Xue. If I could find him, I might be able to find Xi Men Chui Xue too!”


“He has this weird ability to find people, even I can’t begin to explain how exactly he does it!”

“If you go take a walk outside, he might find you instead!”

“Very possible.”

“Then what are you waiting here for?”

Lu Xiao Feng looked Li Yan Bei in the face and slowly replied: “Waiting for you to drink the antidote!”

“You want to watch me take the antidote before you leave?”

Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

Li Yan Bei suddenly threw his head back and laughed.

“Don’t worry, I don’t want to die just yet. I can’t bear to make 30 women turn into widows all at once!”

Post a Comment