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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 16

CSI

Chapter 16 – Sikong Zhaixing plucked some kind of star

(One)

If there was anybody who said that Sikong Zhaixing’s disguising skill was not number one under the heavens, then perhaps nobody else in this world would dare to admit that his disguising skill was number one under the heavens.

‘Disguising skill’. These words sound very mysterious, people always feel that it is related somehow to some magical secret, and often involved Jianghu people in some exceptionally treacherous and sinister shady business.

Actually, disguising skill involves no more than a very common technique. A very beautiful girl performing on stage could turn herself into a man with big beard. Isn’t it also a ‘disguising skill’?

This sort of thing, like many other things, is easy to learn, but is very difficult to master.

So, what stage has Sikong Zhaixing’s disguising skill reached?

There is no way to describe it, and there is no way to explain it either. Just like Lu Xiaofeng’s fingers, Ximen Chuixue’s sword, nobody could ever describe what stage they had reached.

No one can even imagine.

But at least we can determine something: there is a limit to disguising skill.

In very simple words:

— There is no disguising skill under the heavens that enable someone to completely disguise himself as someone else, while fooling people closest to him, friends and relatives.

The most profound disguising skill can only disguise someone as another person who practically did not exist, or perhaps someone who did not have any friends or relatives who could recognize him up close; in other words, someone that no one else would be able to recognize.

If one could reach this stage, then the disguising skill does have its worth; it is valuable enough that thousands and tens of thousands people take painstaking effort to learn it.

Sikong Zhaixing’s disguising skill has, no doubt, reached this stage. It even surpassed that stage. So much so that even Lu Xiaofeng did not recognize him.

Being able to make someone more-crafty-than-ghost like Lu Xiaofeng to not recognize him, his skill could be considered very good.

Yet right now this little old man who was originally sitting far away in the corner was able to recognize him.

What do you think? How good was this old man’s ability?

The old man’s skill was superb, so good that he shocked Sikong Zhaixing.

More surprisingly, the old man was able to hear them whispering in a very, very low voices, across a noisy room, separated by quite a few tables.

And unexpectedly Sikong Zhaixing was not able to tell this man’s background. Faced with this kind of matter, how could Sikong Zhaixing not be shocked?

Finally he surrendered. He sighed, and then let out a wry smile.

“I admire you.” Sikong Zhaixing said to the little old man, “I know that you are also in disguise, but I can’t tell who you are, while you can see through me.”

The little old man’s mouth curled; it was not clear whether he was smiling, or he was not smiling. He only told Sikong Zhaixing, “I don’t need your admiration, and I don’t want you to know who I am, I don’t want to know who you are even more.” The little old man said, “I only know that you are definitely not Ximen Chuixue.”

The little old man talked to Sikong Zhaixing in a very nasty way, “Whether you are Zhang San, Li Si [i.e. ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’], turtle or b@stard, I don’t care. All I know is that you are not Ximen Chuixue, and that is enough.” The little old man said, “I am afraid I am not the only one who knows this.”

Unexpectedly, he still continued, “I am afraid people in Jianghu with a bit faster and more abundant news network will never believe that at this moment Ximen Chuixue could accompany a young and pretty girl sitting in this place, eating plain mantou.”

“Why?”

“Because people in Jianghu with a bit faster and more abundant news network all know that right now Ximen Chuixue is not in Jiangnan [south of Yangtze river], neither is he in the Central Plains.” This little old man said, “Under such circumstances, how can there be a Ximen Chuixue in this place?”

There is only one answer to this kind of question. The Ximen Chuixue in this place must be a fake.

The little old man said, “Only under such circumstances was I able to tell that you are definitely not Ximen Chuixue.” He said, “Otherwise, how could I tell? Based on your disguising skill, how could anyone see through you?”

Anything gets through me except horse fart[1]. This is the truth that has never changed throughout all ages, even someone like Sikong Zhaixing could not but succumb to it.

And now he has indeed succumbed to it.

Now he already felt that the little old man was not as suspicious as before, so much so that he even started to think that the little old man has grown a little cuter.

It’s just that he still could not refrain from asking, “If Ximen Chuixue is really not in Jiangnan, and he is not in the Central Plains, then to which ‘seeing-ghost’ place did he go?”

“He indeed went to a ‘seeing-ghost’ place.”

Sikong Zhaixing looked at Big Miss Niu, Big Miss Niu looked at Sikong Zhaixing, the two of them asked at nearly the same time, “Is this ‘seeing-ghost’ place outside the Wall?”

“That’s right.”

“Is this ‘seeing-ghost’ place a small town called Huangshi?”

“That’s right.”

Big Miss Niu looked at Sikong Zhaixing, Sikong Zhaixing looked at Big Miss Niu, the two of them were stumped for words.

The one having the last word was unexpectedly not a woman, but a man. Unexpectedly Big Miss Niu shut her mouth tight.

“Although on the outside Ximen Chuixue often drinks only plain water, and eats only the simplest food, he is actually a very particular person, and he is a man who understands how to enjoy life very much.”

Sikong Zhaixing tried to probe the little old man, “This time why did he leave his mountain villa that is covered with flowers like an embroidered work and is covering thousands of mu [unit area, approx. 1/15 of a hectare], to travel tens of thousands li away to a ghost place where the flowers are not fragrant, the birds do not sing, the fowls do not fly, the dogs do not jump, and the hares do not defecate?”

No answer. He was asked back instead, “Do you know that once he traveled tens of thousands li just to avenge a total stranger?”

“I seem to have heard it.”

This fact, not only Sikong Zhaixing has heard it, probably everybody in Jianghu has heard it.

“One time for the sake of ‘One Saber subduing Nine Divisions’ [referring to division of China during earliest dynasties] Zhao Gang, he rushed on horseback for three days and three nights to kill ‘Lightning Saber’ Hong Tao.”

Sikong Zhaixing said, “Hong Tao’s ‘Jade-chain Lightning Eight-Saber’ was deadly, those who came under his saber seldom escape alive, while Zhao Gang was a complete stranger whom Ximen Chuixue had never met before.” Sikong Zhaixing sighed, “Thus it is clear that our merciless Great Swordsman would often do something like this for an inexplicable reason.”

He asked the little old man, “Would you say that was what he did?”

“In all sense of the word.” The little old man’s answer was definite, “Everybody would do something for an inexplicable reason from time to time; even you are no exception.”

“Ximen Chuixue went to Huangshi this time, is it also for an inexplicable reason?”

“That’s right.”

“What was the reason?”

“This time he also went for someone else’s sake.” The little old man said, “It’s just that this time it is a rare instance because he broke something.”

“What did he break?”

“He broke his own rule.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“When he put his hands to do something, very seldom was it because of a friend, because he practically does not have friends, and the friends that he has never asked him to do anything.” The little old man said, “Therefore, whenever he does something, almost always it was for a stranger.”

“I always thought that whatever he is doing, he is doing it for his own sake.” Sikong Zhaixing said, “For all my life I have never seen anyone with more ego than he does.” He explained, “By ego, I am talking about selfishness.”

The little old man laughed.

Sikong Zhaixing looked down upon Ximen Chuixue, this is a fact that many people in Jianghu knew about. The reason was because Ximen Chuixue also looked down on him.

“Maybe what you are saying is true, but this time, I know for sure that he is not doing it for himself, and it is not for a stranger either.” The little old man said, “This time, unexpectedly, he is doing it for a friend!”

Sikong Zhaixing downed a big bowl of water as if it was a bowl of wine. “Our Great Master the Sword God can also do something like that for a friend?” he asked with a cold laugh.

“Occasionally.”

“Fortunately his friends are not many.” Sikong Zhaixing coldly said, “The number of people he killed is a hundred times greater than the number of his friends.”

“Perhaps it is more than a hundred times.” The little old man said while stifling a laugh, “Because it is very likely that he only have one friend.”

“And this friend of his is naturally that Lu Xiaogou.”

“This Lu Xiaogou is, of course, Lu Xiaoji, Lu Xiaoniao, Lu Xiaochong [little worm], Lu Xiaogui [little demon], Lu Sandan.” The little old man said, “It takes a lot of chicken, worms, birds, demons and eggs to make one Lu Xiaofeng.”

In this short time that they were talking, Big Miss Niu has been displaying her very gentle and refined manners, just like a real well-bred young lady of a distinguished family.

But suddenly she sprang up just like a mother cat whose tail has just been stepped on by someone, and stared at the little old man. She started for a moment, but then suddenly she sat back down, gently and meekly, and gently and meekly shut her mouth again, without saying a single sentence, without saying a single word.

We can even compliment her, because this time she did not even let out a single fart.

The one who farted was someone else.

“Are you saying that for Lu Xiaofeng, Ximen Chuixue has rushed thousands of li to that place where the birds do not lay eggs, the small town of Huangshi?” Sikong Zhaixing asked the mysterious little old man, “Are you farting?”

“I am not.”

In a very modest manner the little old man said, “In your presence, I do not even have the qualifications to fart. Even if I wanted to fart, I must hold it back. If someone is farting here, it can’t be me.”

If it was not him, then it must be Sikong Zhaixing.

(Two)

This moment Ximen Chuixue was pushing the door to go out.

Outside the sand was yellow like gold. There was also the bright crescent moon that looked like a wheel.

Sikong Zhaixing started to eat his mantou.

He ate mantou, because his tummy was hungry, he was so hungry that he felt like dying. When he was racking his brain, his tummy would get hungry real fast.

But no matter how he racked his brains, he still could not figure out who the little old man, who was sitting in front of him, really was, and how he got to know all these things.

Even if he racked his brains to an extent where he had to eat thirty-eight thousand mantou, he still could not figure it out.

Yet the little old man knew what was going on in his mind, he even knew who he was.

“Mr. Sikong, now can you invite this beautiful Miss to eat something that is not plain?”

Sikong Zhaixing nearly jumped in surprise. “What did you say? What kind of man is Mr. Sikong?”

“Sikong Zhaixing perhaps is not a man.” The little old man did not let Sikong Zhaixing get angry; he immediately continued, “Sikong Zhaixing perhaps is several dozen, several hundred, several thousand men; because this thief king of kings’ disguising skill is the most exquisite under the heavens, no one could reach up to it.”

It was an old truth.

— Anything gets through me except horse fart! If an old truth did not make sense, how could it survive and be called ‘old’?

Much less this time the little old man’s horse fart was unceasing; it continued ringing.

“I know you are not Ximen Chuixue, because I know that he is outside the Wall.” The little old man said, “I know you are Sikong Zhaixing, just because I know that other than Sikong Zhaixing, there is no other person in the world who could pass as Ximen Chuixue, plus no one dared.”

Sikong Zhaixing laughed, he already found out that the longer he looked at the little old man, the more he felt that he looked kind of cute.

Question is: who was this little old man?

If the question is not answered, even if Sikong Zhaixing was really a horse, and his butt was licked thirty-eight thousand times, he still could not let this little old man go.

Therefore, he simply had to ask, “Now you already know who I am, may I know who you are?”

This secretive and mysterious little old man’s reply was shocking; unexpectedly his answer was very clear-cut, “You may.”

“I may?” Sikong Zhaixing did not seem to believe his own ears, “Really I may?”

“Really.” The little old man’s reply was still that clear-cut, “When I say you may, you certainly may.”

“In that case, can you tell me now?”

Once time the little old man’s reply was shocking, because his answer was, “I can’t.”

“You can’t?” While staring at the little old man, Sikong Zhaixing’s eyes seemed to be ready to fall out. “Why not?”

“Because I don’t even know who I am; how can I tell you?”

“Aren’t there one or two people in the world who could tell me who you are?”

“Probably there is one.”

“Who?”

“It’s the little old granny who is sitting on the corner.”

All little old grannies are the same, they will look a lot like that little old granny.

Maybe she was not too old, or perhaps she was beginning to get old; maybe she was very pretty, or perhaps she was practically not pretty at all.

Whether a woman will become an old granny or not, it has nothing to do with these things.

Whether this little old granny was old or young, whether she was pretty or ugly, nobody knows. But anybody who saw her sitting quietly, properly and peacefully, in a safe corner, even if that person has never seen a woman before, he would think that she was a little old granny.

Sikong Zhaixing has never considered her as anything other than a little old granny. But now he suddenly felt that this little old granny was not a little old granny at all.

He had not seen the flaw, but he already felt something.

— When Lu Xiaofeng realized her disguise, it was precisely because of this kind of feeling.

Sikong Zhaixing understood this logic.

He knew that this time he was not facing a person at all, but a star.

Just like he, himself, was also some kind of star.

By the time he knew what kind of star he was picking [reminder: zhaixing means picking star], he had really passed out.

[1] ‘qian chuan wan chuan, ma pi bu chuan’ – lit. thousand times bore through, ten thousand times bore through; horse’s fart (i.e. flattery) does not bore through (Courtesy of Sunnysnow during the Eagle Shooting Hero translation project.)

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