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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 12

CSI

Chapter 12 – Super-assassins appear on cloud penetrating peak

This moment Ximen Chuixue was sitting on a blue-green rock on a plateau on the mountain top, he was looking away at the distant scenery.

Dusk, late dusk.

Like wisps of smoke the clouds on the distant drifted into the vast, dark blue expanse of the sky, nothing else could be seen, nothing was visible.

To someone whose life has just started, or perhaps someone whose life has been completely satisfied, it was no more than a piece of nothingness, a piece of primal chaos; at most it was no more than a roll of painting, so that someone who was already a cheerful person could find a bit of enjoyment in tranquility.

But to someone like Ximen Chuixue, this nothingness was the life itself. Only in the nothingness of primal chaos he would be able to see a lot of things that in any other places he would not be able to see, only here and now he would be able to see himself.

This was most important. For more than ten years Ximen Chuixue had virtually no opportunity to see himself.

Because his heart and eyes have long ago already blinded by a layer of blood [xue], and of course, by a layer of snow [xue].

Ice is colder than iced water, snow is even colder than iced water.

What kind of person was Ximen Chuixue? In the present age, several hundred thousand people knew the name Ximen Chuixue, but only a few knew his origin, his thoughts, his feelings, and his past.

Even he himself did not know.

Of course it was not that he did not know, rather, he had already forgotten.

But how could he forget?

Is there anything in life that is more difficult than ‘forgetting’?

He would have to pay heavy price to forget these things.

Ximen Chuixue suddenly remembered Lu Xiaofeng. At this moment, he actually did not want to remember Lu Xiaofeng.

It is unfortunate that humanity’s greatest irony is that people tend to remember other people they should not remember, or things that they should forget.

Ximen Chuixue and Lu Xiaofeng have known each other for nearly twenty years.

Twenty years, what a long time. Some people died as soon as they were born, some people’s days are cut short only after a few days or a few months after they were born. To these people, twenty years are practically something that they could not even look forward to.

To a woman who had just been married, if her husband died in the first two or three years during which they shared their conjugal love the most, then twenty years would be a blessing that she could not even beg for.

To an old person who is nearing the end of his life, although he understood that he would not live for another twenty years, but the last twenty years of his life would ever be unforgettable.

Because in every person’s life, there will always be the most important twenty-year period. Every day in this twenty-year period something can happen that could change the fate of his life.

That’s why Ximen Chuixue could think of Lu Xiaofeng.

He and Lu Xiaofeng have known each other for twenty years, yet the things he understood about Lu Xiaofeng were actually very few. He had never learned in what kind of family Lu Xiaofeng was born, he had never known in what kind of environment Lu Xiaofeng was brought up.

Perhaps it was because he never wanted to know.

There are actually friends in the world that are just like that, although they often spend time together, they never thought about finding out each other’s past events, certainly they never thought about prying into the friend’s private business.

Friends of Jianghu cross into each other path via yiqi and blood; as long as you deal with me in a real-manly manner today, even if you are a b@stard, I don’t give it a damn.

In this world, real men are not too many anymore.

If anybody ever said that Lu Xiaofeng was not a real man, this person ought to run and hide quickly in some abandoned temple on a desolate mountain to ask for the Heaven’s protection; the Heaven’s protection so that no friend of Lu Xiaofeng would ever find him. Even more, he should ask the Heaven’s protection that Ximen Chuixue would never find him.

For the sake of someone that he practically did not know, so much so that someone that he has not even met, Ximen Chuixue would rush by the stars and the moon, traveling several thousand li, took a deep bath in incense, fasting for three, five days, and for the sake of this total stranger, kill the undefeated killer.

Simply because he was willing to do this thing.

Simply because he was delighted to do so.

Whether he would succeed or fail, whether he would win or lose, whether he would live or die, he simply did not care.

But what if he was not delighted? What if he was unwilling?

Then there was no way he would do such thing. No way at all. Even if you had all his friends coming to him, lining up in front of his door, kneeling, he would act as if he had never seen the shadow of any of those so-called friends.

Even if it was for Lu Xiaofeng’s sake.

If he was not happy and was unwilling, even if someone killed Lu Xiaofeng right in front of his face, he would not see it.

The only thing that Ximen Chuixue could see was his sword.

(Two)

The setting sun suddenly emerged from behind a layer of dark, elongated and graceful cloud, the sun appeared red; very, very red.

The sun is most red when it is about to sink.

What about people? Aren’t people the same?

Ximen Chuixue never wanted to think about it, there are always inevitable sorrows in one’s life, why must he think about it? Even if he did, and then what?

He only knew that this moment there must be someone wielding a sword that he has never seen, using a sword technique that he has never seen, would come to decide life and death in split second with him.

It was not his premonition.

With a sword in his hand he had criss-crossed the Jianghu unhindered for twenty years, he had gone through fire and water countless times, yet now he was still alive. Naturally he also possessed some kind of animal-like instinct, just like some other reclusive, arrogant Jianghu swordsmen, famous heroes, and killers.

But this time, he travelled thousands of li, fasted and took a bath, and came to the summit of this mountain, just because he had an appointment.

The appointment was right here, right this moment.

He did not know the person making the appointment with him. But the person who dared to make appointment with him was undoubtedly a very powerful person, and was extremely confident. He must be very confident of his own strength, and his sword.

This is the point that anybody could have thought.

Who was this person? Why did he make an appointment with Ximen Chuixue, who never leave any ‘living mouth’ from under his sword, and has never been defeated?

(Three)

When the red sun first appeared, it was red like the rouge on a shy young woman’s face on her wedding day. But now it was as red as the blood on the enemy’s sword.

A lone man was walking slowly toward the summit of the mountain.

If he was using qinggong to fly up the mountain, or perhaps using ‘Green Rope Skill’ to climb up, that person could not be considered a worthy adversary.

But the man was walking slowly, the kind of speed a husband, who was under his wife’s thumb, would use to walk toward his wife’s chamber when he returned home very late at night; light and slow, gently and cautiously, afraid that he might make the slightest noise, wishing earnestly that he could take his shoes off.

But the man walking up right now was wearing a pair of very, very heavy boots. We can even say that there is absolutely nobody in the world wearing any shoes heavier than his boots.

This man was unexpectedly wearing a pair of iron boots. A pair of boots made of pure iron.

If you have a very experienced old blacksmith here and you ask him for his most conservative estimates, he would say that each one of these boots would weigh at least the same as the thigh of the fattest man in the world.

This kind of weight is very difficult to estimate, but at least it would be between nine and a half to thirteen, fourteen catties [1 catty is approx. 1/2kg or 1lb.]

Counting from the middle, a leg would be ten catties, two legs twenty catties; wearing a pair of twenty-catty iron boots, most people would make noise like thunder when walking, much less when climbing a mountain, going over mountain ridges and dangerous slopes, not to mention this man was a super-fat man.

Yet as this super-fat man wearing heavy iron boots moved from a flat ground to this high mountain with steep ridges, his footsteps were even lighter than a husband coming home late, as light as a little girl sneaking into the kitchen to steal some midnight snack.

This man happened to be big and tall, burly, and fat, yet he was just as light as a butterfly.

This corpulent man had delicate features and smiling face, he looked a bit like Buddha Maitreya, but those who knew him would rather see a hundred captured evil spirits than to come across him.

Ximen Chuixue practically did not turn his head at all. In this world, perhaps there was no one worthy to have Ximen Chuixue look at him.

Surprisingly, this man did not bother Ximen Chuixue either; even more so, he did not kick Ximen Chuixue with his pair of big iron boots. He simply unloaded the sack he had been carrying on his back and took out a big piece of beef stewed in soy sauce and spices, two roasted geese, seventeen, eighteen strips of barbequed pork [char siu] made by master chef of Lingnan [old term for south China, esp. Guangdong and Guangxi], one whole small but fat pig, thirty, forty steamed buns, and seventy or eighty pieces of lard crystal sugar thousand-layer cakes; he spread a large piece of cloth and arranged all these food on it. And then he just sat down.

He really just sat there, moving neither his hands nor his mouth. Such a big, fat person, facing such a big pile of delicious food, yet unexpectedly he just sat down, unmoving, only looking, not eating.

Ximen Chuixue did not move either, he did not look, but suddenly he said something very strange, “Xiao Shouzi [lit. little thin person], I know it was not you, so you won’t die today.”

He added, “But you really shouldn’t be here today.”

In an instant the man wearing iron boots’ fat-face suddenly swelled up like bubbling mud, plus his body shook incessantly, shaking like a pig inside a deep fryer full of boiling oil.

He was not a ‘little thin person’, he was a ‘big fat person’; if Ximen Chuixue was warning a thin person, why would a big fat person be afraid?

The fat person was afraid to be thin, because when he was a child he was thin, therefore, he wore big iron boots; therefore, he did his utmost to eat food that would make him fat. And since he ate like that, how could he not be fat?

In order to increase his weight, ever since he was very little he had started wearing iron shoes. Walking like that, if his qinggong was not good, would it make any sense?

But now he could not be fatter than he was. So although he always carried some food that he loved the most, he could only watch, but could not eat.

For the past two, three years, this ‘little thin person’ has risen in Jianghu to be a super-assassin, ‘The Big Bass Drum’.

His belly was as big as a drum, his breathing was as loud as a drum, so much so that his whole body looked like a drum.

Such an obese, commonplace, and uncouth person, who would guard against him? Hence the reason for the last nineteen months the number of great heroes of Wulin who died under his fat but small hands had far surpassed the number of people who died under Ximen Chuixue’s sword.

But Ximen Chuixue knew that this man came here today not because he had an appointment.

Even if this ‘little thin person’ who was big and fat ate the Demon Cult’s ‘confusing-soul medication’, he would not have dared to come and provoke Ximen Chuixue.

Who would dare to provoke Ximen Chuixue?

By this time, from under the steep mountain ridge came the sound of footsteps, a heavy sound of footsteps, as if an 800-catty big fat person was wearing a pair of eighty-catty iron boots.

But before this person arrived, Ximen Chuixue already knew that not only this person was neither fat nor heavy, the shoes worn were a pair of light, thin, and soft embroidered shoes.

Listening to the person’s footsteps, the tense expression of the man wearing iron boots immediately relaxed. Ximen Chuixue’s expression, however, suddenly became as red as blood, as cold as snow. [note: play on words, blood and snow are both ‘xue’ (different characters)]

Author’s Note:

Writing wuxia novel for twenty-three, four, five, six, seven years, I have never written a ‘Note’.

But since I was little I always love reading the ‘Note’. Because it is often very good, but also very short. Oftentimes it can make people laugh heartily.

For example, after someone wrote, ‘so and so pulled the sword’, he also wrote a note, ‘this person actually already pulled the sword and put it on the table, after he finished eating, he wore it again on his waist, hence he was able to immediately pull it out.’

After you read such note, if you don’t laugh aloud, what do you do? Cry?

Sometimes ‘Note’ can also express the author’s opinion and scholarly knowledge, ‘Note’ explains things that others did not know but wish to hear, sometimes it is even like ‘painting a dragon and dot the eyes’ [i.e. to add the vital finishing touch], that without this ‘dot’, the ‘dragon’ won’t look alive.

Gifted scholars’ annotation is often like that. The four gifted scholars of the Jin sages[1].

The note I am writing now has nothing to do with Lu Xiaofeng, let alone Ximen Chuixue, so much so that it doesn’t even have anything to do with this story. But if I do not write, my heart will be unhappy, and then the readers’ hearts will also be unhappy.

Because two persons appeared in this ‘birds do not lay eggs’ ‘Note’, whose reputation, in modern day fiction lovers’ eye, is probably a lot higher than Lu Xiaofeng and Ximen Chuixue.

These two persons, of course, are my friends; these two persons, of course, are Jin Yong and Ni Kuang.

One day, late at night, Ni Kuang and I had some drink together. I don’t know how many hundred or how many thousand times we drank together, also I don’t know how many ‘birds do not lay eggs’ matters we talked that we did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

The difference was, that day I proposed a couplet that ‘even hens do not lay eggs’ to him. I spoke the upper line, and asked Ni Kuang to come up with the lower part to complete it.

The upper part was ‘ice is colder than iced water’ [冰比冰水冰, lit. ‘ice is more ice than water’; my apology, I am not a scholar].

Ice is certainly colder than iced water. When ice is dissolved in the water, the temperature is already rising.

When water reaches its freezing point, it will solidify to become ice. Therefore, it does not matter what kind of water in the world, it can’t be colder than ice.

This upper part was exceptionally scholarly, three out of six characters (sic) are ‘bing’ [ice]. The first ‘bing’ was a noun, the second ‘bing’ was an adjective, and so was the third.

I have done some research with a lot of scholarly friends, there is no other written language in the world that can produce similar/analogous sentence with so few words.

Couplet is a unique form in Chinese script, it is not extremely difficult, but it is extremely fascinating.

The boring part is, although the upper part is there, nobody knew where the lower part may be.

I could not come up with anything, neither did Ni Kuang.

Ni Kuang is a lot smarter than I am, and he is also much more fun than I am; even the most discerning woman, when she saw him, her remark was, “This man is so much fun.”

But even the most fun person sometimes will have some not-fun time. Such an interesting upper line, he could not come up with the lower line.

This bit-by-bit is not surprising.

The surprising thing is, when Jin Yong heard this upper part, it was just like when he usually thought about a lot of other problems; he thought about it for a long time, and then he only said four words, “This couplet doesn’t make any sense.” [此联不通 – ci lian bu tong]

Hearing these four words, I was extremely happy, because I know, ‘This couplet doesn’t make any sense,’ means ‘I cannot complete it either.’

Mr. Jin Yong is considered wise and farsighted. Mr. Ni Kuang is sharp, quick and talented. Under this circumstances, if there is anybody who can complete the couplet ‘ice is colder than iced water’, and the lower part suitably matches, Jin Yong, Ni Kuang and I are willing to send a copy of our autographed book, as a tribute to this gentleman.

I am afraid this ‘Note’ is one of the longest in all martial art novels.

Editor’s note:

The above ‘Note’ seems a little nondescript. After a lot of online research, there are a lot of ‘Laughter of The Sword God’, and every single one has this ‘Note’. Yet it cannot be confirmed whether it was Gu Long’s own writing or not. In the preface of the collection of his works, which resembles triple-couplet, Great Master Jin Yong denied it. From this, it is evident that to say the least, the spreading of this upper part of the couplet ‘ice is colder than iced water’ has nothing to do with Jin Yong.

[1] Courtesy of LuDongBin: I think this refers to Jin Shengtan’s (金圣叹) (1610?-7 August 1661) scholarly work entitled “Six Works of Genius” (六才子書) wherein he listed and made extensive commentaries on the then prevailing 6 works that he considered had high literal merits. These 6 are: Zhuangzi, Li Sao, Shiji, Du Fu‘s poems,The Story of the Western Wing (Xi Xiang Ji) and Water Margin (Shuihu Zhuan) in that order. Note that Du Fu is ranked no. 4 relating to poems.
Hence I suspect Gu Long’s (or whoever he might be) 四才子 is referring to Shengtan’s commentaries and notation about no 4, Du Fu in conjunction with the couplet “冰比冰水冰”.
Either that or he got it wrong and it should be 六才子.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jin_Shengtan

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