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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 20 (End)

CSI

Chapter 20 – The smile of the Sword God

Very late at night, a moonless night.

If the banquet started at the first dim light of the night, then very late at night should be the time the banquet ended.

Therefore, it was also the time that the banquet in Sha Dahu’s main hall should end.

Sha Dahu’s feast was, of course, in honor of the respected guests of the Central Plains Escort Agency.

And at the end of Sha Dahu’s feast, the ones that had to leave were, of course, also the escorts of the Central Plains Escort Agency.

When the guest escorts stood up to leave, Sha Dahu suddenly raised his cup and said, “There is one thing that I really regret.”

“Sha Xiong’s [brother Sha] magnificent hospitality in receiving us, we already cannot thank you enough, what regret does Sha Xiong have?” Baili Changqing said, cupping his fist.

“Meagre food and drink, Zongbiaotou honored me with your presence, that is giving me a lot of face already. So I have to drink this as a forfeit to show my regret.”

“What is it?” Baili Changqing asked.

“My humble home is too small.”

“Too small? What does too small have anything to do with Sha Xiong feeling so regretful?”

“Of course it does.” Sha Dahu raised his cup and downed it in one gulp, “Because it is too small, I can only receive three esteemed guests of your precious Escort Agency.”

Before Baili Changqing had any time to respond, the grocery store boss already scrambled to offer his place, “No problem, I can receive two at my place.”

Gong Susu also did not want to be left out, “These two sisters, how about staying at my place?”

The coffin shop boss also spoke up, “If gentlemen have enough guts, and not afraid to sleep in coffins, there’s enough room at my place for one or two more.”

Naturally Baili Changqing could say nothing other than expressing his gratitude.

And thus, the Central Plains Escort Agency’s personnel were separated from each other.

In fact, I should say that the Central Plains Escort Agency’s power was dispersed.

Although it was a moonless night, the outline of escort carriages parked in front of Sha Dahu’s main gate could still be vaguely seen.

Not only the carriages were vaguely visible, even the escorts on duty guarding the carriages were also vaguely visible.

One of the guards suddenly fixed his eyes on a flowering shrub not too far from his position.

He saw a human shadow flashed by.

He did not make any noise, because he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. It’s not unusual for people who have had quite a bit of drink to have dimmed eyesight.

However, even if he wanted to make noise, he could not.

Because one tiny golden needle has already flown out from the bushes where the human shadow disappeared earlier.

This golden needle was, naturally, flying toward the guard’s throat.

Therefore, other than staring with eyes wide open and his right hand struggling to pull his saber out, he could not make the slightest noise.

Immediately afterwards, two blades already cut the other guard’s throat. While at the same time a strip of rope already tightened around the third guard’s neck.

Night. A very quiet night.

Although it was already very late at night, Gong Susu’s residence was still as bright as day.

In the depth of the night, lantern light indoor usually gives travelers unbounded warmth and friendly feeling.

At least the two female escorts of the Central Plains Escort Agency were having this kind of feeling.

Therefore, as soon as they stepped into the main hall of Gong Susu’s residence, they felt very comfortable. And comfortable people usually wanted to express their feelings.

Gong Susu only smiled as she listened to her guests expressing their admiration of the hostess and the hostess’ residence. Only after they were finished did she start talking, “It’s a rare occurrence that I get to meet two ladies; how about we have a little drink?”

Could people in such a cozy and warm atmosphere reject this kind of invitation?

Of course not.

Therefore, Gong Susu clapped her hands rather loudly.

Thereupon, very soon dishes of delicacies and pots of light wine were served on the table.

— The delicacies and wine were served by an old woman.

If one was to observe carefully, one would find that this old woman’s movement was unusually strong and healthy, nothing like an old woman at all.

And if one was able to raise the old woman’s skirt, one would find that the old woman’s legs were smooth, tender and lovely, just like a young woman’s.

Naturally these facts failed to attract the two female escorts’ attention.

Not only they did not notice these facts, they did not have the slightest bit of suspicions at all. As soon as Gong Susu raised her cup to offer a toast, they would also raise their cups and down the wine.

The old woman’s response was very quick; as soon as their cups were empty, she poured the second cup for them.

And then the third cup.

By the fourth cup, the old woman suddenly raised the wine pot in her right hand and smashed it toward the female escort on the right.

The female escort’s countenance changed greatly; she wanted to raise her right hand to block; too bad she suddenly found out that she could not raise her right hand.

Her countenance was really too unsightly.

But she did not know that the countenance of her companion that was sitting next to her was even more unsightly. Because her head had already been smashed by the old woman’s wine pot and it was bleeding profusely.

And her companion was trying to lift her hand to help her resisting the enemy, but not even a bit of strength was left.

She suddenly found out that all her limbs were numb. The only sense left on her was her sense of hearing.

She heard Gong Susu’s gloomy and cold, yet triumphant, laughter.

All the lights in Gong Susu’s residence suddenly went out.

It seemed like the night was getting even more gloomy and eerie.

And the night was not the only one that was gloomy and eerie; the coffin, and Zhao Xiazi’s laughter were also gloomy and eerie.

“Do you dare to sleep?” Zhao Xiazi’s voice also sounded gloomy and eerie.

“Of course we do. We are used to roam the Jianghu, we have even slept in graveyards. Merely coffins, what are we afraid of? Isn’t that right?”

The escort nudged his companion as he said those words. His companion immediately caught on, “Of course it’s true; besides, these coffins are still new.”

“Precisely because they are new that I am asking the two gentlemen if you dare to sleep in it.”

“Why?”

“Because new coffins are usually reserved for people who had just died.”

“Don’t joke.”

“You think I am joking?”

“Are you not?”

“He is not.”

The last sentence suddenly came out of a coffin.

The two escorts could not help jumping up in fright.

Right when they were frightened, a man flew out of the coffin. Plus Zhao Xiazi’s hands also turned into claws and clawed the escort standing right in front of him.

‘Bang! Bang!’ The two escorts’ lives suddenly ended.

Zhao Xiazi reached out to catch the two escorts’ bodies, one on each hand; with a forceful push, the two dead bodies fell straight and neatly into two new coffins.

Zhao Xiazi’s face showed a smiling expression; he said to the man who had just flown out of a coffin, “Little Beggar, not bad, huh?”

“Of course not; such men, did they think they were fit to escort goods?”

“So what do you think they were fit to do?”

“Precisely this,” the little beggar pointed to the coffins, “They only fit to sleep in coffins.”

“You are absolutely right,” Zhao Xiazi said, “I’ll say not only these two, all of them are also only fit to sleep in my coffins. Little Beggar, how many more coffins are empty?”

“Seems to me not too many.”

“Of course not many, only six left.”

“Six? That many?”

“There are two in the grocery store, and two at Ol’ Sha’s place …”

“Why only two at Ol’ Sha’s place? Aren’t there three?”

“Three? Do you want to kill our Laoda [lit. ‘old first’ – leader of the group, boss] as well?”

“How do I dare?” the little beggar said, “That’s only four. Who are the other two?”

“Did you forget that in the prison there are still Beef Soup and Ximen Chuixue?”

“How could I forget? Who could forget Ximen Chuixue?”

(Two)

That’s right. Who could forget Ximen Chuixue?

At least the little old man has not forgotten.

After finishing the task the little old granny told him to do, the little old man hurried back to the little old granny to urge her, “Shouldn’t we go to save Ximen Chuixue?”

“Of course. The time to save him is precisely right now!”

“Why is now the right time?”

“Because right now the Huangshi Town people are doing everything they can to deal with the Central Plains Escort Agency people; they won’t send anybody to guard their prison.”

“Are they able to kill all Central Plains Escort Agency people?”

“Most likely.”

“Then why aren’t you thinking of something to save them?”

“Do you have any idea on how to save them?”

The little old man did not say anything, because he did not have the answer. Just relying on their strength, could the two of them save those people?

Besides, this matter could not be revealed yet, because they still did not know who the mastermind was. If the mastermind was not found, who would believe a little old man and a little old granny’s words? Who would believe that the honest people of Huangshi Town could plot against the lives of the Central Plains Escort Agency people?

Even Lu Xiaofeng would not believe it. And that was the reason Lu Xiaofeng was killed here.

“Who do you think the mastermind is?” the little old man asked.

“Looking at the current situation, only two people are highest on the list of suspects.”

“Which two?”

“Baili Changqing and Jin Peng.”

“Those two? Why? One is the Central Plains Escort Agency’s Head Escort, the other is Vice-Head Escort; why would they rob their own escorted goods?”

“Why not? Do you know the value of these escorted goods?”

“How much?”

“Thirty-five million taels of gold.”

“That much?”

“That much money, even your sons and grandsons to the eightieth generation will not be able to spend it all!”

“That much? Who wanted to send that much money?”

“According to what I heard, it is our current imperial court’s war fund.”

“Why do they want to send it away?”

“Because it is said that there is a rebellion in the south; therefore, the gold must be transferred someplace else, to be used for war purposes.”

“Why didn’t they send troops to transfer it?”

“Afraid that it might draw unnecessary attention, because it is still unclear whether there is armed rebellion in the south or not. If the news that the gold is being transferred ever leaks, rebellion might rise immediately, then they won’t have time to prepare.”

“Hence they hired Central Plains Escort Agency to escort the goods?”

“That’s right,” the little old granny said.

“It seems to me though, that this bunch of Huangshi Town people had already prepared their conspiracy for about half a year; how did they know that early?”

“That’s why I suspect either Baili Changqing or Jin Peng is the mastermind.”

“Oh,” the little old man said, “They were indeed the first person to know about the transfer of gold; however, they already cannot spend their own money in this lifetime, why would they want to rob the escorted goods?”

The little old granny laughed. “Right now, do you have money?” she asked.

“I do.”

“How long before you use it all up?”

“Maybe until the day I die I won’t use it all up.”

“And if right now there are a million taels of gold in front of you, would you still want it?”

“If I don’t want it,” the little old man said, “That would be strange indeed.”

“Therefore, who wouldn’t want to have more riches?”

“There is one.”

“Who?”

“Lu Xiaofeng.”

The little old granny laughed again. “Of course a dead person does not want to have more riches,” she said.

The little old man also laughed. He said, “Is Lu Xiaofeng really a dead person?”

“Don’t tell me he is not?”

The little old man did not answer. Because suddenly he put his finger to his lips, making a shush-ing motion.

They were already outside the prison; hence the little old man told the little old granny not to make any noise.

Actually, even if the little old man and the little old granny spoke louder, nobody in the prison would be able to hear them.

Because practically there was no guard in the prison.

The only ones inside was Ximen Chuixue and Beef Soup. Besides, what’s the big deal if these two hear their voices?

However, if there was anybody who had that kind of thought, he was wrong.

Because Ximen Chuixue had already heard the voices outside, and with his hand he extinguished the only oil lamp in the prison.

And then he pressed his mouth over Beef Soup’s mouth and whispered in her ear these two words, “Be quiet!” And then without making any noise he pressed his body against the wall right next to the cell door.

The cell door was slowly pushed inward.

The direction the door was pushed happened to be toward where Ximen Chuixue was leaning against the wall.

When the cell door was half open, the little old man let out a surprised cry; indicating that he had just found out that the prison was pitch-black. And then they seemed to hear he mumbled something like, “Too late, Ximen Chuixue is not here.”

“Who says I am not here?”

Following Ximen Chuixue’s voice, a strong sword aura burst toward the little old man.

The little old man’s body suddenly floated backward.

With an unimaginable speed Ximen Chuixue’s sword stabbed the little old granny.

The little old granny did not back off, but with matchless speed she raised both palms. This pair of palms was like seamless heaven’s net; once the palms clamped, Ximen Chuixue’s sword was caught.

“It’s you?” Ximen Chuixue cried out in surprise.

“It’s not me.” The little old granny’s answer was an unfathomable mystery.

“It’s you.” Ximen Chuixue said again. Then, he slowly pulled the sword away from the little old granny’s hands. ‘Cha’, he lighted the fire paper.

As soon as the lamp was bright enough, Beef Soup knitted her eyebrows as she looked at the little old granny and said, “So it is you.”

“Miss still remembers me?”

“Of course I do. When Sikong Zhaixing saw you, it was like he had just seen a ghost; who could have forgotten you?”

“Do you know her?” Ximen Chuixue seemed to talk a bit more than usual.

“I have seen her,” Beef Soup said.

“Do you know who she is?”

“Who is she?”

“You really don’t know?”

“Should I know her? Do you think I am Bai Xiaosheng[1]?”

“You don’t have to be Bai Xiaosheng to know her.”

“Oh? Who is she, actually?”

Ximen Chuixue did not answer; he just looked at the little old granny.

The little old granny did not answer either; she just looked at Beef Soup.

Beef Soup suddenly felt her face blushed, as if she was not being stared at by an old granny, but by a passionate young man.

“You are …”

“That’s right.” The little old granny’s voice suddenly became young, “I am.”

(Three)

That’s right, he was indeed Lu Xiaofeng. The unique and unmatched Lu Xiaofeng.

But didn’t Lu Xiaofeng die?

“Die? How could Lu Xiaofeng die?” The little old granny laughter was very cheerful.

Looking at the little old granny’s laughing expression, looking at her mischievous eyes, Beef Soup immediately knew that this little old granny was indeed Lu Xiaofeng.

Seeing Lu Xiaofeng did not die, Beef Soup ought to be happy, but she suddenly glowered and said angrily, “Why can’t Lu Xiaofeng die? It would be best if Lu Xiaofeng died.”

“Would it really be best if Lu Xiaofeng died?” the little old man, who was standing by the little old granny’s side, suddenly said.

“You are you? What’s your business in this matter?” Beef Soup asked.

“Me? I am a nobody. But if it were not for me, Lu Xiaofeng would really be dead.”

“Why?”

“Because my disguising skill is number one under the heavens.”

“You? You are Sikong Zhaixing?”

“That’s right.”

“Then …” Beef Soup’s jaw dropped, “Then who was that Sikong Zhaixing at the restaurant?”

“Him? He was the dead ghost Lu Xiaofeng.”

“Isn’t he Lu Xiaofeng?” Beef Soup pointed to the little old granny. She was really confused.

“He is the living Lu Xiaofeng.”

“So who was that dead ghost Lu Xiaofeng when he was still alive?”

“Honest Monk!”

“Honest Monk?”

“That’s right. It’s just that he ought to be called Dishonest Monk.”

“Why?”

“Because he was supposed to lie motionless in the coffin, yet he came looking for me, asking me to turn him into Ximen Chuixue. Pretending to be Ximen Chuixue no longer fun, he wanted to be me. Tell me, isn’t he extremely dishonest?” Sikong Zhaixing said.

“So the one we saw in the coffin was Honest Monk?”

“Replacement guaranteed if not genuine, the one and only Honest Monk.”

“But the one in the coffin was definitely a dead man.”

“Naturally he was a dead man; otherwise, how could he deceive those bunch of Huangshi Town bandits?”

“If he was dead, how could he come back alive?”

“Because he is the Wulin world’s unique and unmatched Honest Monk.”

“So Honest Monk can comes back to live from the dead?”

“Of course.”

“How come?”

“Because Honest Monk has mastered the Gui Xi Gong [lit. tortoise breathing skill].”

“Ah, I got it.”

“Do you, really?”

“Of course. Precisely because Honest Monk knew Gui Xi Gong, Lu Xiaofeng looked for him and had Honest Monk masquerade him. And then he had him pretend to be dead. Am I right?”

“Absolutely correct. At that time you were hiding nearby and looking over my shoulder, weren’t you?”

“Kiss my @ss,” Beef Soup said, “But, there is one thing I do not understand.”

“You don’t understand why I wanted Honest Monk to pretend to be dead, am I right?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Right.”

“Huangshi Town was originally a small town that did not attract anybody’s attention. When I came here, I immediately noticed that everybody here was hiding his own martial art skill; hence I knew that there must be something big going on here.”

“How did you know that they are hiding their martial art skill?”

“Don’t forget, I am a little old granny. Just how many incidents in Jianghu have I witnessed with my own eyes? Do you think the little old granny have lived for several decades in vain?”

“Yes, yes, yes, my apology for not venerating you. Please forgive Xiao Nuzi [lit. little woman (humble)] for not recognizing that Senior has a pair of formidable eyes.” Beef Soup could not help giggling.

Lu Xiaofeng looked at Ximen Chuixue. “Therefore, I went to find Sikong Zhaixing and asked him to bring his disguising set and come with me. Contrary to my expectation, without any question he simply came with me to look for Honest Monk.”

“When we found Honest Monk, I said bluntly, ‘Monk, I want you to strip naked, right now.’ Do you know what Honest Monk’s reaction was when he heard my order?”

“He must be very surprised,” Beef Soup replied.

“Wrong. Unexpectedly without making any noise he simply stripped stark naked. Later on he said to me: ‘Appearance is empty, emptiness is appearance. I have never expected that finally Lu Xiaofeng is able to see through the world of mortals, he wants to wear Monk’s clothes and leave home (to become a Buddhist monk).’ Tell me, wasn’t that annoying?”

“Not annoying,” Beef Soup replied.

“Oh? Why not?”

“Because you came to see him, your intention was to have him die in your place. He made sport of you with several sentences, what’s so annoying about that?”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly stared at Beef Soup.

“What are you looking at?”

“I suddenly realize that you are very understanding of other people’s view. Hence I want to see if you are the real Beef Soup or not.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s very hard to say, especially since you have been together with Sikong Zhaixing.”

Right this moment, Ximen Chuixue, who usually talked very few, suddenly opened his mouth, “I understand now.”

“What is it?”

“They thought you were dead, hence they relaxed their guard, and thus you were able to secretly investigate their conspiracy.”

“You do understand.”

“So what is their conspiracy?” Beef Soup asked.

“I am going to take all of you to see their plot right now.”

(Four)

Sha Dahu’s main hall.

A man was tied to the pillar in the main hall, a man with disheveled hair and a body full of wounds.

This man apparently struggled and fought hard before he was captured and bound to the pillar.

The man was precisely the Head Escort of Central Plains Escort Agency, the biggest escort agency in thirteen provinces from north to south, Baili Changqing.

The atmosphere in the main hall was very depressing.

Baili Changqing was gasping for breath, but he glowered at the rest of the people there with fiery eyes.

Sha Dahu was pacing back and forth with his hands behind his back; his head hung low. Gong Susu and the lady boss were sitting quietly on chairs. The little beggar and Zhao Xiazi were looking at each other, without saying a single word.

The atmosphere was so depressing that they all felt difficulty breathing.

The first person unable to bear it much longer was Zhao Xiazi. He suddenly sprang up and said loudly, “Why did Jin Laoda [see note above] want to keep him alive and become a living mouth?”

Sha Dahu turned around to face Zhao Xiazi. “Jin Laoda must have had his reasons,” he said.

“That’s right, I do have my reasons.” From the inner hall Jin Peng walked out, he was wearing an extremely gorgeous outfit, adorned with gold trim all around.

Jin Peng’s clothes were bright and dazzling, but his countenance was so gloomy that nobody wanted to cast him a glance. “Do you know why I wanted to keep a living mouth?” he asked.

He glowered at Baili Changqing, but Baili Changqing also glowered back at him.

“I spent considerable effort to arrange this foolproof plan.” Jin Peng’s gaze moved from Baili Changqing to look at the eyes of everybody else in the hall. “We killed a lot of Huangshi Town people in order to replace them with you. But now the enterprise is ruined for the sake of one basketful; do you know why?”

Nobody answered, because nobody knew the reason. They did not even know what Jin Peng was talking about, and nobody was too clear on what’s going on either.

Thereupon, Jin Peng had no choice but to take them out of the main hall, and out to the place where the escort carts were parked.

“Open up,” Jin Peng barked his order.

The chest on the escort cart was opened.

Originally it was supposed to be filled with glistening yellow, dazzling and brilliant gold, but now suddenly it was dull and dark. Unexpectedly the gold had turned into matte black scrap metal.

Everybody could only stare blankly.

“Do you understand now?” Jin Peng said, “Because the gold has been swapped, now it is boxes after boxes of scrap iron.”

They returned to the main hall.

The atmosphere in the hall was getting even more depressing. It was so depressing that not only they felt difficulty in breathing, they also did not dare to lift up their heads.

With all heads down, they watched as Jin Peng walked in and put a piece of matte black scrap metal on the table. And then, all eyes were turned toward their boss, Jin Peng.

“This means one of us has leaked this secret.”

“There is a spy among us?” Sha Dahu asked.

“Who?” the lady boss asked.

Lady boss’ fiery eyes were fixed at Zhao Xiazi.

Zhao Xiazi jumped in fright, but he stared back at the lady boss. And then, he suddenly turned his gaze toward the little beggar.

In turn, the little beggar’s eyes stared at Gong Susu. Gong Susu had her eyes fixed on the grocery store boss, and the boss stared at the lady boss.

Everybody was staring at each other.

The air seemed to be even heavier.

Jin Peng rose up from his chair, and said, “The most important thing right now is not to find who the traitor is.” While speaking, he walked over to Baili Changqing. “The most important thing is to find where the swapped gold is.”

He suddenly grabbed Baili Changqing’s hair and said, “You should know by now why I wanted to leave a living mouth. If you tell me the gold’s whereabouts, not only will I let you go, I will also let your people go, I won’t investigate who the traitor was, and will give you a share of the gold.”

Baili Changqing raised his head, he looked at Jin Peng; suddenly he opened his mouth and “Pei!” he angrily spat a mouthful of phlegm mixed with blood toward Jin Peng’s face.

“Good spit!” a voice came from the doorway.

Everybody turned their eyes to the door, they all fixed their gaze at the speaker’s face.

Nobody recognized the speaker. Because she was just a little old granny.

The little old granny said, “If there is really one person who believed what you said, then it would be like seeing ghost in bright daylight.”

“Who are you?” Jin Peng angrily asked.

“Me? I am a dead person.”

“Absurd!” Jin Peng flew up and launched a palm attack toward the little old granny.

Light as a feather the little old granny dodged the attack and said, “Without asking clearly who I am you just attacked me. What if you suffer a setback?”

Jin Peng ignored this remark; moving his palms like a whirlwind, he launched killer moves one after another.

The little old granny only smiled as she dodged the attack, without launching even one move of counterattack.

The people watching did not dare to believe their eyes.

In all the world, probably there was only one person who was able to dodge Jin Peng’s continuous attack for more than thirty moves without fighting back.

— Lu Xiaofeng.

Didn’t Lu Xiaofeng die?

This question surged into everybody’s mind. Suddenly the little beggar had a brainwave. He recalled the little old granny’s answer when she had just walked in.

— I am a dead person.

The little beggar’s body suddenly shook.

“What’s wrong with you?” Zhao Xiazi asked.

“He … he … he is Lu Xiaofeng.”

Zhao Xiazi and the others were shocked.

The little old granny, who was dodging here and there, suddenly flew up and made seven somersaults in the air, while saying, “That’s right, I am indeed Lu Xiaofeng.”

The disguise on her face had already been removed while she was doing the somersaults. Hence by the time she landed on the ground, she had turned into Lu Xiaofeng.

“You didn’t die?” Gong Susu cried out in surprise.

“Naturally I did not die; how could Lu Xiaofeng die? If I died, wouldn’t your conspiracy succeed?”

“Who’s that …”

“You must be dying to know who died, aren’t you?”

Nobody replied, because that was exactly what everybody wanted to know.

“Let me tell you: no one died. There was only someone pretended to be dead.”

“Pretended to be dead?”

“The one pretended to be dead was Honest Monk.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “I asked Sikong Zhaixing to alter his appearance, so that he would look like me. And then we tied a piece of iron and a bag of blood onto his chest …”

“Do you remember that evening when you surrounded me? The truth is, you were surrounding Honest Monk. The real me has been watching you from the side.”

“I noticed that you, Sha Dahu, were using the Japanese Divine Wind Saber Technique; hence I knew that you are indeed a bunch of big bandits of the rivers and oceans who kill without blinking an eye.”

“That evening, Honest Monk deliberately dodged to the left and flashed to the right. Finally he bumped his chest onto Gong Ping’s sword. The blood bag was pierced and spilled blood, Honest Monk then utilized his Gui Xi Gong and fell to the ground. At that time it was already very dark, naturally you could not see clearly; moreover, you were too confident of Gong Ping’s sword.”

“And that was the reason she died under Ximen Chuixue’s sword,” Sha Dahu said.

“She died because of too much self-confidence; and you fail because of humanity habitual character.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Who would think of giving another sword stab to a dead body? Nobody. And that was the reason Monk was successful in faking death.”

“Don’t be too proud of yourself Lu Xiaofeng,” the lady boss said, “Ximen Chuixue and Beef Soup are still in our hands.”

“Is that so?” a voice replied from the doorway.

The voice, naturally, belonged to Beef Soup, a very-pleased-with-herself kind of voice.

This time, Ximen Chuixue who normally did not like to talk, spoke up, “If I did not intentionally let myself be captured, how could Jin Peng’s secret be exposed?”

No one responded. Because everybody’s countenance was as ugly as dirt.

“There is one thing I still don’t understand,” Jin Peng said.

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Did you swap the gold?”

“Yes.”

“With you alone, can you swap that much gold?”

“Actually, I did not swap the gold at all.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Very simple.”

Lu Xiaofeng walked over to the table and picked up the piece of scrap metal left there earlier. He took out his jade fan and used it to scrape the scrap metal.

The matte black color was gradually scraped off, and the glistening, yellow shiny gold color was restored.

Everybody was stunned.

“These gold,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Were only coated with a layer of special color; that’s all.”

“But, with you alone, how could you do it?”

“Naturally he couldn’t.” Another voice came in from the door.

This time, Honest Monk was wearing his own Buddhist robe. Sikong Zhaixing was also clad in the outfit he usually wore when he went out to pick star [reminder: ‘zhai xing’ means picking star].

“Without the help of me, Honest Monk, how could Lu Xiaofeng paint that much gold?”

“Don’t you forget to mention my contribution. Without Sikong Zhaixing, the two of you with only four hands, can’t possibly coat that much gold.”

Nobody said anything. In fact, what can they say? Treason has been exposed, what else there is to say?

The only thing that can be said, was to express their anger using their lives, their blood.

Consequently, Jin Peng suddenly drew the sword hanging on his waist and attacked Lu Xiaofeng.

Sha Dahu and Zhao Xiazi attacked Ximen Chuixue.

The lady boss attacked Beef Soup.

Gong Susu attacked Sikong Zhaixing.

And the little beggar went for Baili Changqing that was tied to the pillar.

The most promising attack was, naturally, the little beggar.

Because Baili Changqing was, after all, helpless to fight back.

However, the little beggar was mistaken.

The ropes binding Baili Changqing suddenly shattered like pieces of paper, while his fist, in the moment when the little beggar thought his attack would go smoothly, struck the little beggar’s chest.

The little beggar fell down. While he was falling, he heard Baili Changqing said, “While dodging Jin Peng’s attack, Lu Xiaofeng already broke the ropes binding me with his internal energy.”

A major battle. Very soon the battle was over.

Because, in all the world, who could resist Lu Xiaofeng and Ximen Chuixue? Not to mention the two of them were fighting together? Even more, they had Honest Monk and Sikong Zhaixing by their side?

Besides, evil will never prevail.

Early morning, fog.

Surprisingly, there was no wind in Huangshi Town that particular morning.

No wind to blow the yellow sandy soil that usually filled the air.

Perhaps even the wind knew that the storm brewing in Huangshi Town had finally died down.

The sun rose slowly.

Streaks of sunlight penetrated the fog, reflected by the glistening, shiny gold on the ground.

Baili Changqing was laughing a very satisfied laugh, while supervising his escort troops handling boxes of gold.

One of the escorts looked up and asked Baili Changqing, “Who saved us?”

“Other than he, who else?”

“He? Who is he?”

“He is me.”

The escorts were stunned; because that sentence actually came from three people.

One was a little old man, one was a little old granny, and the third was Lu Xiaofeng.

The little old man removed his disguise; turned out he was Sikong Zhaixing.

The little old granny turned out to be Lu Xiaofeng.

And Lu Xiaofeng turned out to be Honest Monk.

All the escorts laughed.

Beef Soup’s giggle was heard above the laughter.

Of all these laughter, the loudest and brightest was, unexpectedly, Lu Xiaofeng’s.

Because, he heard the laughter of one person. This person has never laughed.

And this person was, naturally, Ximen Chuixue.

THE END

[1] Bai Xiaosheng and the weapons list figured most prominently in the Little Li Flying Dagger book. He made a physical appearance in 多情剑客无情剑, where he worked with Lin Xian’er to steal martial arts manuals from Shaolin. He was killed by Li Xunhuan while holding the Abbot of Shaolin hostage. If they are referring to the same people, then this should take place 50-100 years after the Li Xunhuan novels. Because after Li Xunhuan was the Ye Kai/Fu Hongxue generation, then followed by the Gongzi Yu generation, after which the ties to the original novels peter out. (Courtesy of Ren Wo Xing)

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