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Fragrance in the Sea of Blood Chapter 23

CSI

Chapter 23 – Elder Brother Murdering His Younger Brother

Even after he exhausted all his strength, he still failed to pull the big man down. The tip of the whip was nearly embedded in this beast-like big man’s neck, and his beast-like eyes nearly popped out of his eye sockets.

Yet unexpectedly he was still standing there, motionless. He neither reached out to grab the long whip, nor tried to walk toward Hei Zhenzhu. Hissing noise came out of his throat, as he giggled and said, “Tiny kid, you can’t pull me down!”

Hei Zhenzhu had never seen such a strong man, but he had never seen such idiot either; in his horror and bewilderment, he suddenly shouted, “But can you pull me down?”

The big man broke into a big grin; unexpectedly he really tried to pull the long whip using his neck. Both sides were pulling with all their strength, ‘Crack!’ the long whip snapped.

Hei Zhenzhu’s body flew and crashed against the wall. In great shock he immediately leaped onto the beam. He saw the iron-tower like body of the big man collapsing slowly; his face was turning black and purple, his tongue was sticking out, his eyeballs were popping outside the eye sockets, and the eyes appeared to be staring at Hei Zhenzhu still.

Hei Zhenzhu could not help shuddering in fear; he smiled wryly and said, “Why is it that those whose four limbs are well-developed always have such a simple brains?”

Looking down from the beam, he saw Yitian Hong and NanGong Ling were like two wooden men; they stood there, facing each other, yet until now they had not even budged.

NanGong Ling’s eyes were fixed at the sword in Yitian Hong’s hand; he did not dare to look at anything else. However, everything that happened next to him, naturally he could very well imagine without having to look at it.

Cold sweats were starting to form on his forehead; he suddenly shouted, “Yitian Hong, I heard that you are only willing to kill when there’s money involved, is that right?”

Yitian Hong’s grey, dead-fish like eyes were staring at him; he did not speak at all.

NanGong Ling spoke hoarsely, “If you help me killing Chu Liuxiang, I’ll give you a hundred thousand taels.”

The corner of Yitian Hong’s mouth moved into a grin; he said, “A hundred thousand taels? Unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang worth that much?”

NanGong Ling said, “If you kill me, no one is going to give you a hundred thousand taels, am I right?”

Yitian Hong coldly said, “That’s right, because really, you, this man, are not even worth one wen.”

“Since that’s the case,” NanGong Ling replied, “You shouldn’t kill me even more.”

A hint of cold, sharp smile appeared on the corner of Yitian Hong’s mouth, he spoke slowly, “You need to know, even a prostitute, if she encounters the right customer, she might give him a freebie once … My killing this one time is also a freebie.”

Finished speaking, the sword already moved.

Although Hei Zhenzhu’s face was flushed, he could not help laughing; he said, “This analogy is vulgar and dirty, but it is indeed extremely wonderful.”

He saw that in that split second, Yitian Hong already stabbed his sword seven times. His swordsmanship was still penetrating and unique. His arm above the elbow was absolutely still, but the sword light scattered around like rain.

NanGong Ling was forced to retreat seven steps in succession. With a hissing mad laughter, he said, “Yitian Hong, do you think I am afraid of you?”

Yitian Hong coldly replied, “I don’t want you to be afraid of me at all, I just want you dead!”

NanGong Ling shouted, “I am afraid you are the one who is going to die!”

His left hand stretched out and grabbed a chair, he threw it straight out; his right hand reached toward his waist and pulled a Burmish saber. The blade was as bright as snow. ‘Swish! Swish! Swish!’ he launched three saber chops.

There was nothing fancy in his saber technique, but it was swift, vicious, and extremely practical.

Yitian Hong had fought countless people in his lifetime; naturally he knew this kind of martial art skill was the most terrifying. If you think that the saber technique was not pleasing to the eye, then you are doomed to your death already.

Perhaps this kind of saber technique did not have any strong point, perhaps it even did not have any other use; its only purpose was to kill. Not only that, it would kill very effectively.

Yitian Hong’s eyes lit up, he laughed heartily and said, “I never thought that today I would meet such an opponent as you. My trip this time has not been made in vain.”

Saber light and sword qi were pressing on Hei Zhenzhu that he felt his whole body turned cold. Although he had seen not a few hand-to-hand fighting, he had never seen anything like the battle between these two men.

These two practically did not seem to be in fight; they looked more like two wolves wrestling each other. Each move was meant to take the opponent’s life; there was absolutely no other meaning.

Saber light, sword shadow, were flashing back and forth like lightning. Although there was no sound of blades clashing against each other, the chilling cold murderous aura was suffocating, so that even Hei Zhenzhu was unable to stay on the beam.

He leaped horizontally for three zhang before landing on the ground. He saw Chu Liuxiang was just massaging Su Rongrong until the color of blood gradually appeared on Su Rongrong’s pale face.

Hei Zhenzhu could not help walking over and patted Chu Liuxiang’s shoulder, while speaking coldly, “Do you know that someone was staking his life for you?”

“I do!” Chu Liuxiang replied.

“But do you care?” Hei Zhenzhu asked.

Chu Liuxiang chuckled and said, “The Central Plains’ One Red Dot already made his move, does anybody else need to care?”

Laughing coldly, Hei Zhenzhu said, “You seem to be very much at ease.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Yitian Hong’s swordsmanship, are you saying that you can’t be at ease?”

They heard a ‘Swish!’ as Yitian Hong swept seven chi sideways, the clothes on his shoulder seemed to have been cut by a blade, fresh blood was slowly seeping out.

NanGong Ling laughed heartily and said, “Yitian Hong, you still won’t give up?”

‘Cui!’ Yitian Hong spat a mouthful of saliva on his own shoulder. His long sword was already stabbing again.

Seeing that, Hei Zhenzhu’s countenance changed greatly; he spoke sternly, “You still feel at ease now?”

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “When Yitian Hong makes his move, anybody who wants to help will be his enemy. Besides, these two’s martial art skill are more or less equal, no one could think about injuring the other.”

“Therefore, you might as well don’t care, right?” Hei Zhenzhu said.

Chu Liuxiang said, “In less than ten strokes, NanGong Ling will also suffer Yitian Hong’s sword. In less than thirty strokes, he himself will definitely want to stop. Before that time, it will be useless even if I want to care.”

Laughing coldly, Hei Zhenzhu said, “I am afraid your heart is already on this Miss alone, and you don’t care about other people’s life or death anymore. I have never imagined that the grand, dignified Chu Liuxiang unexpectedly is just a disciple who pays more attention to a lover than to this friends.”

He had not even finished, they heard another ‘Swish!’ as NanGong Ling staggered backward, the front piece of his robe was cut open, and there seemed to be blood seeping out as well.

Chu Liuxiang turned his head toward Hei Zhenzhu and said with a laugh, “Not even ten strokes, was it?”

Hei Zhenzhu was silent for half a day. His eyes slowly turned toward Su Rongrong’s face. There seemed to be some kind of complicated changes deep in his eyes. He spoke slowly, “She is really beautiful.”

Chu Liuxiang said with a laugh, “Why stopped at beautiful?”

Hei Zhenzhu coldly said, “But in my opinion, there are still a lot more women more beautiful than she is!”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Perhaps she cannot be considered the most beautiful woman, but certainly the most gentle and soft, and the most considerate, as well as showing the most understanding of other people. As far as I know, perhaps there is no woman on earth that can surpass her.”

Hei Zhenzhu’s countenance turned even paler; it seemed like he was going to say something, but he bit his lip and held back. Suddenly he turned his head around and no longer looked at them.

They heard NanGong Ling shouted loudly, “Chu Liuxiang! This matter better be resolved by you and I, alone, you said so yourself just now; you still remember it?”

“Of course I do,” Chu Liuxiang replied.

NanGong Ling said, “If you still want to know who the mysterious character is, you’d better tell this cold-blooded kid to stop.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Too bad I cannot tell him to make his move, and I cannot tell him to stop either … when Yitian Hong wants to kill someone, nobody can make him stop.”

Who would have thought that Yitian Hong suddenly flew about a zhang back and spoke coldly, “I am stopping now; simply because he can’t kill me, and I can’t kill him either. There is no point in continuing the fight. I’ll pass him on to you!”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “Thank you very much.”

Yitian Hong opened his eyes wide and stared at him for half a day. He spoke slowly, “You don’t need to thank me. Just remember, Yitian Hong is always your friend.”

Before he even finished talking, he already made a somersault in the air and flew out of the window, and quickly vanished from sight.

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “How could you come as soon as you say you’d come, and leave as soon as you say you’d leave?”

This moment NanGong Ling had just had his breathing slowly under control; with a cackling voice he said, “Chu Liuxiang, if you want to solve this matter, come with me!”

Chu Liuxiang turned his head to look at Su Rongrong. “Come with you?” he said.

Hei Zhenzhu loudly said, “Chu Liuxiang does not want to go now because of this woman; other things he doesn’t want to care.”

NanGong Ling rolled his eyeballs and said coldly, “If you don’t want to go, don’t blame me.”

Unexpectedly he turned around and slowly walked out – evidently he did not want to run away at all, because he knew that ‘running away’ was not an option at all. Otherwise, he would have run away early on.

But Chu Liuxiang could not just watch him walking out helplessly either. Sighing, he said, “Hei Xiong, looks like I have to hand her over to you.”

Hei Zhenzhu looked up to the sky and spoke coldly, “You are not worried?”

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “She has her acupoint heavily sealed, but after I massaged [orig. tui na, a form of Chinese manual therapy] her, after a moment, she should be able to wake up. Hei Xiong only needs to tell her to go back quickly on her own; other things you need not bother.”

Hei Zhenzhu was silent for half a day. “All right!” he said, “Just go! I will tell her to go, but I still want to wait for you; I have something to ask you.”

NanGong Ling waited for Chu Liuxiang to come out before unleashing his shenfa.

The two of them flew for a while. Suddenly NanGong Ling said, “You feel at ease handing her over to another person.”

“Why would I not be at ease?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

“How do you know that that kid will not harm her?” NanGong Ling asked.

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Do you think other people’s heart is as malicious as yours?”

NanGong Ling replied with a cold laugh, “I only know that you are a very cautious person, who would have thought that you also have your careless moments.”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “I am a very cautious person. If I could think of any reason Hei Zhenzhu might hurt Rong’er, this moment, even if you forced me, I would never entrust Rong’er to him. If you want to use this to disturb my mind, to make me flustered, I advise you not to entertain this idea any longer.”

NanGong Ling let out a cold, mischievous laughter, but surprisingly he no longer talk.

They saw the vast haze of mist-covered water ahead; they have arrived at the Daming Lake.

Although the sun was still hanging overhead, a fancy looking decorated pleasure boat already had its lantern lit. Looking inside from the wide-open window, they saw the candle inside the cabin was already burning brightly. Unexpectedly a table of food and wine had already been setup inside.

NanGong Ling waited until Chu Liuxiang entered the cabin before he pushed the long pole [i.e. pole for punting boats] to bring the fancy boat into the middle of the lake. All around them the water was covered in fog, which looked like smoke, or rain. The fancy boat drifted over the rippling water in between the boundless, quiet heaven and earth. The air was brimming with some kind of mysterious, yet romantic, atmosphere. It was both intoxicating and unbearably creepy.

Chu Liuxiang sat down on the most comfortable chair inside the cabin, but in his heart he did not feel comfortable at all. He always felt that this matter has become more and more wrong.

Why did NanGong Ling take him here?

Could it be that the mysterious murderer was on this boat?

But on this fancy boat, other than Chu Liuxiang and NanGong Ling, there was absolutely no third person. On this, the moment Chu Liuxiang set his foot on the boat, he was absolutely certain.

The cool evening breeze brought the fragrance of the wine, the aroma of the dishes, the sweet scent of the weeping willow; but what Chu Liuxiang breathed was some kind of thick murderous aura!

What murderous aura was actually hidden in this unmanned fancy boat?

NanGong Ling also sat down. Fixing his gaze on Chu Liuxiang, he said, “Do you know why I wanted to bring you here?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “Naturally not to kill me here. If you wanted to kill me, naturally the farther away from water the better.”

NanGong Ling laughed heartily and said, “That’s right. Nobody can kill Chu Liuxiang in the water.”

Deep in thought, Chu Liuxiang softly said, “Was it ‘he’ who wanted you to take me here?”

“That’s right,” NanGong Ling replied, “He told me that if I cannot solve this problem myself, I ought to take you here, to wait for him to solve it himself.”

“Do you think he’ll come?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

“Naturally he will,” NanGong Ling replied.

“Do you think that when he comes, he will be able to solve this matter?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

NanGong Ling smiled and replied, “If there is only one person on earth who can deal with Chu Liuxiang, that person is him!”

Chu Liuxiang heaved a deep sigh and said, “No matter who ‘he’ is, I really cannot think of how he is going to solve it.”

NanGong Ling said, “The method that he uses, naturally no one will be able to think of.”

“You trust him very much,” Chu Liuxiang commented.

NanGong Ling said, “If there is only one person on earth I can trust, that person is him!”

Chu Liuxiang shut his eyes and sighed lightly; he said, “Such a person, who could it be? Since he knew that killing me on the water is much more difficult than anywhere else, why did he want me on the water? What exactly is he thinking? How exactly is he going to deal with me …? I really can’t wait to see him.”

Thinking about how sinister, secretive and vicious this person was, even Chu Liuxiang could not stop the chill from creeping up in his heart. All the adversaries that he met in all his life, no one was really more terrifying than this one!

NanGong Ling poured two cups of wine and unhurriedly said, “If I were you, it would be best to drink a cup of wine now. Thinking about it more will be useless. Besides, I am afraid your time to drink wine won’t be too much.”

Jade green wine, it shined inside the golden cup.

NanGong Ling raised his cup and drained it in one gulp. Throwing his head back he heaved a deep sigh and said, “Actually I would rather have someone else discovering this secret instead of you. No matter who it is, killing someone with whom you once caught a sea turtle together is not a pleasant thing.”

Chu Liuxiang did not even touch the wine cup with his finger. He sighed and said, “Me too. I wish that forever, you are the NanGong Ling with whom I caught sea turtle together.”

NanGong Ling chuckled. But suddenly he knitted his brows and said, “Your wine …”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “My time of drinking wine is already too much, right now I am not in a hurry.”

NanGong Ling roared in laughter and said, “Surprisingly Chu Liuxiang did not urgently to drink his wine, this is a strange thing.”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “Don’t you forget, I am a very cautious person.”

NanGong Ling also smiled and replied, “These two cups are poured out from the same wine pot. If you still don’t feel at ease, let me drink this cup for you!” He indeed picked the cup in front of Chu Liuxiang and drank it down.

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “It seems that although cautious people might live a bit longer, it is inevitable that they often miss some opportunities to drink.”

NanGong Ling laughed heartily and said, “You shouldn’t have suspected that there is poison in this wine. Who on earth might expect that a mere cup of poisonous wine would poison Chu Liuxiang to death; besides, how would he put …”

The word ‘poison’ had not yet spoken out of his mouth, his countenance suddenly changed greatly. His arms, his forehead, his neck … every single vein on his body suddenly burst!

“What happened?” Chu Liuxiang cried out in alarm.

“This wine …” NanGong Ling’s voice was trembling.

Emotionally moved, Chu Liuxiang asked, “Could it be that there is indeed poison in the wine?”

He sprang over and opened NanGong Ling’s eyelids to take a look, but he did not see any sign of poisoning. However, NanGong Ling’s body was burning hotter than a fire.

Chu Liuxiang’s heart was moved, he cried out in shock, “Heavenly One Divine Water! This wine has Heavenly One Divine Water in it!”

NanGong Ling’s entire body went limp. “He … how could he put poison in the wine?” he croaked, “I don’t believe it! I really cannot believe it!”

Chu Liuxiang stomped his foot in anger, “Even until now, you still don’t understand it? He put poison in the wine, the target is not me, but you! He knew that I will always be on guard. But you, you could not possibly be on guard toward him.”

Looking up to the sky, he sighed and said, “Actually, I have already felt that this fancy boat is full of dangers, but I could not guess how he was going to deal with me. Now I know that the one he wanted to deal with was not me, but you!”

NanGong Ling roared, “But he … why did he want to harm me?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled ruefully and said, “Because if you are dead, all the clues will be broken. If you are dead, he will still be unfettered and beyond the law, because other than you, nobody knows who ‘he’ is.”

NanGong Ling was shaking, it seemed like he was in shock and could only stare blankly.

By this time his entire body was swelling, his skin has begun to crack, so much so that the blood vessels were bursting. The corners of his eyes, his nostrils, his nail seam, have all started to bleed!

Chu Liuxiang shouted loudly, “Since he has no scruple in poisoning you to death, why do you still want to keep his secret? This moment, you still have time to tell me who ‘he’ actually is.”

NanGong Ling’s eyes were bulging like those of a dead fish; he mumbled, “You said he wants to harm me … I still cannot believe it …”

“Of course he wanted to harm you!” Chu Liuxiang said, “Otherwise, he knew perfectly well that I would never drink this wine, why would he put poison in the wine? And if he put poison in the wine for me, why didn’t he tell you?”

It seemed like NanGong Ling did not hear him at all; he kept mumbling, “I don’t believe it … I don’t believe it …”

Chu Liuxiang grabbed his collar and hissed, “Why don’t you believe it? Could it be that you …”

The corner of NanGong Ling’s mouth split open, he suddenly revealed a hint of bitter smile, and said, “Do you know who he is?”

“Who? Who is he?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

NanGong Ling struggled hard to speak, word-by-word, “This secret, no one in the world knows this secret. I have a sibling, an older brother. ‘He’ is my Gege [older brother]!”

Chu Liuxiang’s entire body froze. He fell back half a step so that he had to grab the table to steady himself. His entire body felt as if it was about to fall.

Half a day later, he smiled wryly and said, “No wonder you trusted him so much. No wonder you are always listening to him. But … who is your Gege? Why until now you are still unwilling to tell me his name?”

NanGong Ling opened his mouth wide. His mouth was full of blood.

His tongue split open, he could no longer speak another word.

Chu Liuxiang sat back in his chair. He sat for no one knows how long.

Now, all the clues have been broken, and he has to start all over again.

He had no idea how much dangers he had encountered, no idea how much heart’s blood [i.e. strenuous effort] he had spent just to find out that Zuo Youzheng, Ximen Qian, Lingjiu Zi, and Zha Muge, these four men had gone out after receiving a letter; he had no idea how many setbacks he had encountered before he found the person who wrote the letter, and uncovered the Beggar Clan’s secret in the process.

If not for enormous courage and intelligence, this passage of hardship would simply be unbearable. But now that NanGong Ling was dead, all his heart’s blood has become a waste.

He still did not know who the real mastermind was.

The light of dawn quietly dyed the window paper white.

The fog above the surface of the lake was getting thicker.

Chu Liuxiang let out a long sigh, and muttered to himself, “Now, what do I know?”

Now, what he knew was really not much.

The only remaining clue was …

The mysterious killer was NanGong Ling’s sibling; his older brother. In ‘his’ hand, there was still enough ‘Heavenly One Divine Water’ to kill thirty-three more people!

But, who exactly was ‘he’?

‘He’ had used the Heavenly One Divine Water to kill Ren Ci, Zha Muge and NanGong Ling. Who might ‘his’ next target be?

Naturally it had to be someone with extremely high martial art skill, high enough to be an important person who played critical role in Wulin!

That person naturally had to have a deep relationship with ‘him’, at least he must not suspect that ‘he’ would harm him. Otherwise, how could ‘he’ put the Heavenly One Divine Water inside that person’s cup?

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