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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 15

CSI

Chapter 15 – Mysterious couple in the corner

Ximen Chuixue had actually never blown snow; it does not matter where the snow has fallen, he could not possibly blow it. In the world, most probably nobody has ever blown snow.

The one thing that Ximen Chuixue blew was blood. [Reminder: ‘xue’ in Ximen Chuixue’s name means snow; blood is also ‘xue’ (different character).]

The blood on his sword, the blood of the enemy.

The water in the basin was still warm, it still carried the fragrance of Cape jasmine flowers.

Ximen Chuixue has already cleaned up every cun [approx. one inch] of his body. Right now he was changing his clothes and tying his hair, and trimming his fingernails.

He had prepared for himself a brand new set of clothes. From the inner underwear to the outer long gown, everything was white, white as snow.

He had even fasted for two days, by eating only the purest and simplest food and drinking only pure plain water.

Because he was going to do something, the most sacred and pure and holy thing.

He was going to kill someone.

(Two)

Zhuangyuan Lou[1] was the largest restaurant in this area. They had the best business, the largest crowd, the liveliest atmosphere, but also the loudest noise. Especially in ‘rice mouth’ time.

‘Rice mouth’ means the time when everybody needs to eat.

And right now it was the ‘rice mouth’ time. The upstairs of Zhuangyuan Lou has always been as noisy as chestnuts being sautéed in a big wok, as lively as a big wok full of assorted vegetables; but right now all noises suddenly died down.

Because two people were walking up the stairs.

The first person coming upstairs was a beautiful, albeit a bit wild, girl; healthy and sturdy. Her entire body exuded bounciness and wild nature; yet her wild looking was extremely attractive.

Such girl ought to attract attention, no matter where she was.

But today it was different. People at the restaurant today did not even seem to notice her.

Because in another instant the second person coming upstairs immediately drew everybody’s gaze toward him.

The man’s face was pale, gaunt, cold, and proud. His clothes were as white as snow.

This man’s body seemed to exude cold aura that was even colder than ice and snow, that was able to freeze everybody’s voice and smile.

These two people were, naturally, Sikong Zhaixing and Beef Soup.

It does not matter where, but each time Sikong Zhaixing appeared, he always drew people’s attention to him. But actually he did not like to be noticed at all.

He preferred situations where no one paid him any attention, so that he could do what he wanted to do in peace and quiet.

What he wanted to do was usually ‘to steal’.

A man who was always drawing other people’s attention, how could he steal? How did he achieve the title ‘thief king of kings’?

If a man who was always drawing other people’s attention intended to steal, he should not appear in a brightly lit restaurant, because by now he would be already lying in a small and narrow, dark cell, hoping that tomorrow early morning there would be a bit of sunshine coming from that little window high up above him so that he could catch some bedbugs, some lice.

Someone who claimed to have a lot of experience once said that if you only have two or three lice on you, their bite would give you a terrible itch, so terrible that you wish to die. But if on your body you have two or three hundred lice, they could bite whatever they liked, and you won’t itch; even if they bite until they die, you would not feel the slightest itch.

Do you believe it?

Was Sikong Zhaixing a man who was always drawing other people’s attention? Nobody would know, because nobody has ever seen his real identity.

Everybody only knew that whenever and whereever he appeared, he would take the appearance that a [paternal] grandfather would not love dearly and a [maternal] grandmother would not fond of. Even if he kneeled down ten thousand times, begging other people to give him a second glance, nobody would want to look at him twice.

But today it was different.

Today he did not look like a wretched slob that anybody would be disinclined to look, because today he was not Sikong Zhaixing.

Today he could even say that he was not a nobody, because today he was Ximen Chuixue. The unique and unmatched [orig. ‘only one, no second’] Ximen Chuixue.

The heaven above, the earth below, the one and only sword.

(Three)

Sword hanging on his waist, just like an arrow on the bow.

Before the age of thirty, Ximen Chuixue’s sword was always hanging diagonally across his back, fastened to his body using some kind of unusually ingenious, yet practical, knot, in a long and narrow black sheath which appearance looked strange and antique.

Because he felt that only by carrying the sword this way he could maintain his movement at the sharpest state. It would also enable him to draw his sword the fastest.

But now, ‘sharp’ and ‘fast’ were not his focus.

In these aspects, he had already surpassed it, he had already surpassed himself, surpassed his sword.

He had surpassed the limits of his own self, he had surpassed the limits of his sword.

‘Surpass’ is by no means a simple matter. It is not easy at all. Anything that you want to surpass, you must be willing to pay the price.

Considerable price.

Taking a bath, changing clothes, fixing his hair, trimming his nails; these were originally things that Ximen Chuixue would never do himself.

Famous actress, famous courtesans, famous women of various capacities could do this kind of things for him, but he would not do it himself.

Because he was a noble among people, a god among the swords.

Even Lu Xiaofeng once said, “That man Ximen Chuixue, he is basically not a human.”

Things that everyone loves, he did not love; things that everyone does, he did not do. He appeared to be detached far away from the human world. His sword has cut him off from the world.

He himself preferred it this way.

The unexpected thing was, he ‘came across’ something; he came across a girl, he met a girl who pulled him back to the human world.

Anybody would find no way to avoid this kind of thing, even Ximen Chuixue was no exception.

Therefore, he had no choice but did some ‘humanly’ things:

Met, fell in love, got married, settled down, and had a child.

So much so that he grew feeling just like ordinary human being.

Therefore, he was nearly defeated, he nearly died; defeat equals to death. In the battle ‘On the night of the full moon, on the summit of violent forbidden’ [see my note in Chapter 13] he nearly died under Master of White Cloud Castle Ye Gucheng’s Outer Heaven Angel. [Translator’s note: (One) now we have confirmation that Chapter 13 was referring to ‘that’ duel, which puzzles me to no end – didn’t Ximen Chuixue see Lu Xiaofeng in Book 4, Book 5 and Book 6? (Two) ‘Outer Heaven Angel’, orig. ‘immortal flying to the outer space’.]

Ximen Chuixue may die, but he must not be defeated.

Ximen Chuixue’s sword can never be defeated; moreover, it will become one of the legends of mankind.

It was a fact that he must protect, because not only it was his responsibility, it was his destiny as well.

Therefore, he must stay in the ‘godly’ state; the god of swords.

Therefore, he must separate himself from mankind.

Therefore, after his wife gave birth to a child, after his most beloved woman gave birth to his only child, his own flesh and blood, he separated himself from them.

It was the price he had to pay.

Ximen Chuixue silently strapped his sword; he silently walked out the narrow door.

Regardless of where the door is located, it could be considered belong to him; it belonged to him alone.

Because he was Ximen Chuixue.

Because the door was the door between life and death.

Outside the moon was bright.

(Four)

Sikong Zhaixing has already ordered his meal.

The waiter has been waiting respectfully, standing bolt-upright waiting for his order. Although as he stood straight his legs trembled a little.

But after he heard the order, his countenance changed slightly.

Sikong Zhaixing’s order was –

“A plate of stir-fried green vegetables, a plate of plain cooked tofu, two plain boiled eggs, two plain mantou [steamed bun], a pot of plain water.”

In this world, there are countless cities, towns, and villages; in each place there are countless inns, restaurants and stalls that sell wine, sell meals; nobody knows how many waiters are there in all these places.

One thing that we can be sure of, no matter where, no matter which inn, restaurant or food stall, no matter what kind of waiter, upon hearing a customer ordering such ‘dishes’, their countenance would definitely change. It would be strange indeed if his countenance does not change.

The waiter in Zhuangyuan Lou was staring at Sikong Zhaixing, as if a young, rich playboy had suddenly found himself to be a eunuch. Furthermore, there was a woman sitting next to the eunuch.

Although Beef Soup did not look particularly surprised, she did not look particularly upset either; in short, her expression did not noticeably change. Yet she could not help asking Sikong Zhaixing, “What did you just order for us?”

“Are you deaf?”

“I am not.”

“What I have just ordered, you did not hear?”

“I heard it.” Big Miss Niu said, “I just have some suspicions.”

“What suspicions?”

“I am suspecting you.” Beef Soup said, “I suspect whether you are really the thief king of kings who disperse gold like stone.”

“Oh?”

“I heard that although that thief king has never stolen anything valuable, but he has more money than anybody else.”

“Why?”

“Because the stuffs that he stole, he stole it because someone asked him to.” Beef Soup said, “And anybody who wanted him to steal something must pay him lots and lots of money. I heard that once he stole a chamber pot, and the man who asked him to steal unexpectedly had to pay him fifty thousand taels.”

She asked Thief King Sikong, “Is there such thing?”

Sikong Zhaixing sighed, “If a pretty and cute girl told me that there is such thing, how can I say no?”

Beef Soup laughed.

Her laughter did not seem to look like a cow, it did not look like meat, did not look like soup even more. [Translator’s note: beef soup, orig. ‘niu rou tang’ – cow meat soup.]

If someone says that when she laughed she looked like a bowl of soup, then this bowl of soup was definitely not beef soup; rather, it was a bowl of sweet, sweet jujube fruit and lotus seed soup.

“If by stealing one chamber pot he made fifty thousand taels, wouldn’t this thief king be a very rich man by now?”

“He would have.”

“Usually a rich man is a bit more miserly! But this man is an exception.”

“Oh?”

“What’s more, he spends money like Lu Xiaofeng; sometimes he even spends money faster than Lu Xiaofeng.”

“Knowing how to earn money is not a special skill; knowing how to earn and how to spend is.” Sikong Zhaixing said, “Knowing how to spend but not how to earn, that is a scoundrel; knowing how to earn without knowing how to spend, that is a b@stard!”

Big Miss Niu laughed.

“Being a scoundrel seems to be a bit better than being a b@stard!”

“That’s for sure!”

“Therefore, you are a b@stard.” Miss Niu said, “You are not a scoundrel who know how to spend but not how to earn, you are not a thief king who earn by the plateful and bowlful either, you are no more than a big b@stard who know how to earn without knowing how to spend, a super big b@stard.”

Sikong Zhaixing looked as if he was dumbfounded from the curses; in all his life, he had never been scolded like this by anybody.

He was the Thief King, just like Ximen Chuixue was the Sword God, just like Lu Xiaofeng was the Lu Xiaofeng.

For people like them, they are not cursing others, that can be considered polite already; how could they let others curse them?

Was this Big Miss Niu drunk?

“Are you drunk?”

“All I drank was plain water, how can plain water make me drunk?” Big Miss Niu said, “I just feel strange, someone who can make fifty thousand taels just by stealing chamber pot, how can he, when having dinner with a pretty and cute woman, only order plain?”

“Plain?”

“Plain vegetables, plain tofu, plain mantou, plain water.” Big Miss Niu sighed, “The way I see it, that Honest Monk, who is not honest, must be eating a bit better than you do.”

“Why?”

“Eating like this, how could he have any strength to produce little monk?”

Sikong Zhaixing did not laugh; he sighed instead.

“Now I know why that Lu Xiaoji [little chick] likes you.” Sikong Zhaixing said, “The way you speak seems to be cast from the same mold as his.”

“Actually, is he Lu Sandan [three eggs] or Lu Xiaoji?” [See Chapter 14 on ‘three eggs’.]

“He is both.” Sikong Zhaixing said, “Sometimes he is also Lu Xiaoniao [little bird], Lu Xiaogou [little dog].”

“I kind of understand the Lu Xiaoniao thing, because he indeed flies like a little bird.”

“Humph!”

“But I don’t understand the Lu Xiaogou bit.” Miss Niu asked, “How could anybody call him Lu Xiaogou?”

“Because his nose is even more potent than a dog’s; there’s a pile of sh1t eight thousand li away, he can still smell it.”

Big Miss Niu wanted to laugh, but she restrained herself; she stared at Sikong Zhaixing with straight face for half a day.

“What about you? Are you, after all, Sikong Zhaixing, or Mandi Chishi?”

[Translator’s note: Sikong literally means ‘managing emptiness, i.e. sky’, Zhaixing means ‘picking/plucking star’. Mandi means ‘all over the earth’, Chishi means ‘eating crap/sh1t’.]

Sikong Zhaixing was taken aback. “How can I be Mandi Chishi?”

Naturally Big Miss Niu had her reasons.

“Full earth [mandi] matches with empty sky [sikong], eating crap [chisi] matches with picking star [zhaixing], every word is superior.” Miss Niu said, “These things you eat are not much better than dog sh1t.”

“This time you are wrong.” Sikong Zhaixing was not angry, “I ordered these things, just because right now I am practically not Sikong Zhaixing.”

“Who are you then?”

“Ximen Chuixue.” Sikong Zhaixing said, “Full earth matches with western gate [ximen], eating crap matches with blowing snow [chuixue], aren’t the words match very well?”

“The match is indeed extremely well,” suddenly someone said, “It is well enough that you are qualified to eat a big pile of dog sh1t, plus a chop of a saber.”

There was a table in the corner of the restaurant, on it sat a couple of husband and wife, they were both very old. The husband was slightly built and withered, the wife was rather plump; the husband was frowning and worried, the wife’s face was covered in smiles.

There are actually a lot of husbands and wives like that in the world; if both the husband and the wife enthusiastically wanted to do ‘something’, the husband usually got the shorter end of the stick. Husbands who wanted their wives to be happy, oftentimes they tend to end up as slightly built, withered man with yellow faces and emaciated bodies.

This husband and his wife were originally sitting in the far corner of the restaurant, all of a sudden the husband with yellow face and emaciated body was sitting on the table next to Sikong Zhaixing and Big Miss Niu.

Naturally, those words about eating sh1t and getting a chop came from him.

Naturally, Sikong Zhaixing simply had to ask him, “Did you say that I had to receive a chop of a saber?”

“Yes.”

“Why do I have to receive a chop?”

“Because you are not Ximen Chuixue.” The old man said, “If you were Ximen Chuixue, then I am Mandi Chishi.”

Sikong Zhaixing was dumbfounded again.

This old man was sitting very far away, while he and Beef Soup were speaking so softly that even anybody sitting on the next table would not hear it. Yet this old man did.

Who was this old man?

If Sikong Zhaixing knew who this old man was, I am afraid he might faint immediately.

— The heaven above, the earth below, what could possibly make Sikong Zhaixing fainted?

[1] Zhuangyuan is the top scorer in palace examination, lou refers to building with more than one story.

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