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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 4

CSI

Chapter 4 – The killer in the rich family’s[1] household.

Naturally Sha Dahu’s original name was not ‘Dahu’ [see footnote], it’s just that his surname was really ‘Sha’; his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and all his ancestors were surnamed ‘Sha’, furthermore, they were all called ‘Sha Dahu’.

Speaking about their family, practically no other appellation is more appropriate than ‘Dahu’.

Sha Man’ge, alias[2] Guan Yun, was a studious scholar, by the age of thirteen he entered school, by the age of seventeen he passed the provincial level of imperial exam, by the age of eighteen he was one of the leading finalists in the Capital Imperial Examination, entered Hanlin [Imperial Academy]. He was amiable, and was a romantic young man; even if he did not want to be a distinguished man, he simply could not. But being distinguished has its own price. [Translator’s note: Additional info on Hanlin Academy was provided by Lu DongBin.]

Being distinguished he was frivolous, being distinguished he became indifferent, being distinguished led him to poverty, being distinguished led to untimely death.

Why would a talented, peerless literary talent have the heart of blowing away his discretion and exchanging it with an empty reputation?

It’s just the price of being distinguished.

Throughout the ages, distinguish persons knew that gains and losses are insignifant, so why would they want to achieve it? So what if they fail? So what if they live? So what if they die? A tiny mustard seed is no different than the world, an instant is no different than an eternity.

Sha Man’ge’s outstanding career has taken its toll, their entire Sha family was banished forever to the border area as a penal sentence, they became refugees.

But as refugees, they lived an aristocratic life in the town of Huangshi.

Because Sha Man’ge was an intellectual. Less than a year after his arrival in the town of Huangshi, he managed to unearth gold in a mine on the nearby mountain.

In the world, there is nothing more real, more valuable than gold.

People of the lower class of society, women and children, rough men and peasants, may not know pearl, agate, emerald, jasper, literary treasure, famous painting, ancient jade sculpture, and fine china, but what about gold?

If there is anyone in the world who does not know the value of gold, that would be strange indeed.

Ever since the Sha family struck a fortune, the town of Huangshi and its vicinity started to see gold rush, people who wanted to get rich flocked from four sides, eight directions. Overnight the town of Huangshi became prosperous.

Too bad in the booming economy this town experience did not last long. Because other than Sha Dahu, the number of people who manage to find gold was pathetically low.

Most people left in disappointment. Only Sha Dahu was still Sha Dahu. Huangshi town also remained as depressing as ever.

(Two)

Lu Xiaofeng visited Sha Dahu on the second day after his arrival in the town of Huangshi. At that moment Sha Dahu was drinking his first cup of wine of the day. During lunch, he usually drank a relatively softer wine.

That particular day, he was drinking a good home brewed wine shipped from far away Shaoxing [prefecture, Zhejiang]. This kind of wine is easy to enter the mouth, but the effect afterwards was quite powerful. Accompanying him, sitting right next to him was a distinguished guest, one Mr. Sun. It was said that he was an ex-county head magistrate, a seemingly polite, refined, and gentle scholar.

The guard on duty at the gate, whose job was to announce the incoming guest and guard the courtyard, that day, was Yang Wu [lit. Yang the fifth].

Sha Dahu had a wine cup in one hand, and a pair of chopstick in the other; his eyes were fixed on the feet of a ‘wind chicken’ dish in front of him. With a cold voice he asked Yang Wu, “Do you know that when I am eating, I don’t want to see any visitor?”

“I know.”

“Then why haven’t you told that man outside to get the hell out of here?”

“Actually, not only I wanted him to get the hell out of here, I also wanted to grab his neck and throw him out,” Yang Wu said.

“And why haven’t you done so?”

“Because I am not able to throw this man out.” Yang Wu said, “He did not throw me out, I am already very happy.”

Sha Dahu turned his head around, with narrowed eyes he looked at him and said, “I have always thought that you are a man with guts, how could you turn into such a coward?”

In front of his boss, Yang Wu did not seem to be too polite. “I am not a coward at all,” he said, “I just don’t want to provoke that man, that’s all.”

Mr. Sun interrupted, “What kind of person is that gentleman, actually?”

With a deliberate coldness Yang Wu replied, “Actually, there is nothing extraordinary about that man, he is only the four-eyebrowed Lu Xiaofeng.”

Sha Dahu’s arrogance has always been big, annoyingly big; but as soon as he heard the three characters Lu Xiao Feng, instantly he seemed to change into another person.

This three-character name in itself seemed to have a particularly strong twisting power.

Lu Xiaofeng himself also understood this fact. Therefore, although he was standing outside the door, waiting for half a day, he was still confident that when Sha Dahu heard his name, he would definitely come out personally to welcome him, and would use the best wine and dishes to entertain him, he would even have the best looking people to accompany him.

To this fact, he was very confident.

Once, when he was drunk, he asked one of his good friends; he asked Honest Monk, “Do you know what kind of person I am?”

Without waiting for Honest Monk, he answered his own question, “I am an expert in swindling my food and drink; just by using my name, I can eat anywhere in the world.”

Honest Monk laughed and said, “This time you have spoken honest words.”

Good wine, good dishes had already been set on the table; sure enough, the extremely arrogant Big Boss Sha came out personally to greet and lead him in, the reception hall was already packed with people. Who would want to miss the opportunity to see a man like Lu Xiaofeng?

Deeply apologetic, Sha Dahu toasted Lu Xiaofeng, “Lu Xiong [brother, generic term], look at this place. Don’t you think it looks like a food market?”

“It is, kind of.”

Sha Dahu roared in laughter, “Actually, this is a quiet place in the wilderness, culturally, we are not people with compass and set square. But as everyone heard that Lu Xiaofeng has arrived, the one who can pinch blades with his two fingers, the one with four eyebrows, everybody wanted to see what kind of man this Lu Xiaofeng is. I cannot stop them.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed theatrically, “Indeed, it can’t be helped. Who told me to be such a famous person?” Actually, he did not show the least bit of modesty at all. “A celebrity oftentimes has to encounter this kind of situation.”

Everybody laughed. Except one, a man who wore a dark blue scholar gown, who looked like a settled guest of this house[3], a smallish middle-aged man. Although his face was smiling, his eyes were completely devoid of any laughter, even the laughter on his face looked strained.

Fortunately Lu Xiaofeng had not noticed him, he only laughed and said to Sha Dahu, “My poverty, my laziness, are very well-known; I am sure you also know about it.”

“I have heard.”

“Then why didn’t you ask me, why would a man like me acted like a mule, foolishly taking thousands of li journey, rolling and crawling to reach this place?”

With a rueful sigh Sha Dahu said, “This place is really getting poorer and poorer, and the number people coming to live here is getting fewer and fewer.” He went on, “Such a big celebrity like Lu Xiaofeng unexpectedly can come here, even in our dream we would not expect that.”

Just like Lu Xiaofeng, a mischievous smile suddenly appeared on his originally very dignified ‘guo’ [country] shaped face [i.e. square face], “Fortunately even when I am not dreaming I can still see it.”

Lu Xiaofeng raised his four eyebrows, “You really know?”

“Really.”

“So what do you know?”

“I know that you come here for your friend’s sake, your friend was very unfortunate and met his demise in this place.”

“What you know is indeed not a few.”

“Although this place is poor, I am not.” Sha Dahu said, “A rich man like me, there are always a lot of people sneakily come to me to report about a lot of things.” His laughter was unusually cheerful, “Rich people are like famous people, no matter what, we always do things a bit more conveniently than other people.”

Indeed this fact cannot be refuted.

Whenever Lu Xiaofeng heard something reasonable, he always showed admiration, “It appears that you indeed have a bit learning.”

Sha Dahu laughed aloud, “I am afraid my learning is indeed no more than just a bit.” Similarly, he did not show the least bit of modesty at all.

“Other than that, what else do you know?” Lu Xiaofeng asked this man, who seemingly had multiple personalities. “Do you know that I come to you for the sake of a blade?”

“That kind of thing, how could I not know?” Sha Dahu deliberately spoke in cold and indifferent manner, “How could there be anything happening in this small town that I do not know about?”

Lu Xiaofeng fixed his gaze at his face; with the same cold and indifferent tone he said, “In that case, you must also know who those two people are.”

“Two people?” Sha Dahu knitted his brows, “What kind of two people?”

“You don’t know the two people I am talking about?”

“How could I know?” Sha Dahu said, “Although this place is small, the people are not a few, how could I know which two people you are talking about?”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed; he shook his head and said, “Turns out there are still things in this small town that you don’t know about.”

This sentence was a bit confusing.

He said that he was looking for two people, yet he did not mention anything about these two people’s name, surname, and origin; neither did he mention their stature and appearance. If there was anybody who understood what he was talking about, now that would be strange indeed.

Yet he obviously said those things. Perhaps only Mr. Lu Xiaofeng could say such thing.

He was sure Sha Dahu would be angry; Mr. Lu’s words often made people die of anger, even Honest Monk, who possessed such self-restraint, nearly died of anger in the gutter because of him, let alone such a big boss like Sha Dahu.

“What kind of two people are you looking for, actually?” suppressing his anger, Sha Dahu asked Lu Xiaofeng.

“It’s a man and a woman.”

“So you are looking for a man and a woman? Wonderful! Really wonderful!”

Sha Dahu laughed angrily, “It so happens that in this world half of the people are men, the other half are women and you said you are looking for a man and a woman. Tell me, isn’t that a coincidence or what?”

He was angry, but Lu Xiaofeng was not angry. Mr. Lu was always able to make people angry, but he would not get angry himself.

Looking at his delighted expression, Sha Dahu, who was originally very angry, suddenly laughed, “Turns out I have fallen into your trap.”

“You have fallen into what trap?”

“You deliberately wanted to make me angry, and unexpectedly I really got angry.” Sha Dahu said, “I simply looked like a fool.”

In reality, he did not like a fool at all, Lu Xiaofeng made him angry for no rhyme or reason.

Ever since these two men met, none of each sentence they said made any sense. Just like two martial art masters of wulin exchanging blows, each one trying to outdo the other. “I can see clearly that you are just like me, a very competitive person.” Sha Dahu said, “I always like this kind of man.”

“Too bad you have grown beard,” Lu Xiaofeng deliberately sighed, “You probably also know that Mr. Lu has always liked beautiful women.”

This time Big Boss Sha did not get angry. Oftentimes anger is not a good thing, especially anger that brings adverse effect to one’s health.

Big bosses usually take a good care of their bodies. Therefore, he asked Lu Xiaofeng again, “Those man and woman that you are looking for, is there anything in particular that is different than other people?”

“The man is very good at using blade.”

Big Boss Sha laughed, “Our family’s cook is also very good at using blade.” [Translator’s note: in Chinese, the word ‘dao’ can mean saber, blade, knife, single-edge sword, etc. which can be difficult to transfer into English.]

“He uses blade to slice meat, the slices are thinner than paper.” He then asked Lu Xiaofeng deliberately, “Are you looking for my cook?”

Naturally Lu Xiaofeng would not get angry; he asked in return, “Can your cook kill people?”

“I only know that he can only slice meat.”

“What kind of meat?”

“Pork, beed, mutton, dog meat, mule meat, horse meat, fish, crane, goose, rabbit, deep pool meat [潭子, I don’t know what it is]; he can slice any meat, he has even sliced tiger meat.” Sha Dahu continued, “Only one kind of meat he does not slice.”

“Human meat?”

“You got it.” Sha Dahu was still laughing, “Human meat is sour, more sour than horse meat, I definitely won’t allow my cook to slice human meat.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed again, “How could people who have never eaten human flesh know that human meat is sour? So strange.”

Sha Dahu did not pay him any attention; otherwise he would get angry again.

Other people trying to make you mad, but you did not get mad, that is a lofty quality. If as a big boss one does not have one or two lofty qualities, how could one succeed in his role as a big boss?

“So the man is adept in using blade, how about the woman?” he asked.

“The woman is even more strange.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Her head is covered in completely white hair, just like a sixty, seventy-year old woman. But her legs were like sixteen, seventeen-year old young woman.”

Such a pair of legs, if someone can forget it as soon as he sees it, that person must not be a man.

Not to be able to see it, undoubtedly Big Boss Sha was filled with regret. Although he was starting to get old, he was, after all, still a man. The older a man gets, the more he loves to see women’s legs. Even if he could just take a glance, it was all right.

Big Boss Sha sighed, while reviewing in his mind all the beautiful legs he had seen in his life one by one. It was not until he felt that he was a bit younger again that he asked, “Did you see her face?”

“I did not.” At that time Lu Xiaofeng practically did not have any chance to see her face. Besides, even if he did, it would be useless, since the hair was fake, the face could also be altered. The sky was getting darker, life and death was in between breaths.

Naturally it was not that Big Boss Sha did not understand this kind of circumstances, yet he still had to ask, “Why didn’t you just look at her face?”

“Because I am a man,” Lu Xiaofeng said drily, “A man seeing that kind of pair of legs, who would have time to look at her face?”

The question did not make any sense, the respond definitely did; the whole building roared into laughter.

“Now I understand your trouble,” he laughed aloud and said, “Practically you won’t find this woman, unless you lift up the skirt of every woman in this place and take a look.”

Lu Xiaofeng did not deny, on the contrary, lowering his voice, he said in deadpan manner, “To tell you the truth, I was thinking the same thing.”

“Who wouldn’t?” Sha Dahu also deliberately lowered his voice, “If you are really going to do it, you simply must tell me, so that I can follow you and take a look as well.”

Even after these two talked for half a day, nobody knew whether they were bickering, or whether it was a battle of wits?

The Four-Eyebrowed Lu Xiaofeng has appeared, it seemed that there is nothing really special about him. The people crowding the main hall starting to feel that there was not much point for them to stay, hence one by one they slipped away.

Originally the scholar wearing blue cotton gown could not laugh, and now naturally he could not stay either.

Suddenly in a loud voice Lu Xiaofeng said, “Jin Laoqi [lit. old Jin (gold) the seventh], other people may leave, you must not leave.”

Who was Jin Laoqi? Nobody knew whom he was calling. Therefore, without exception, everybody was startled.

When one is suddenly startled, one would definitely halt his step. Everybody was looking around at everybody else, they wanted to know whom this Lu Xiaofeng, a gentleman with grad reputation, was calling? Why did he call him?

The scholar was no exception. Unfortunately, by now everybody was able to see that the person Lu Xiaofeng was calling was indeed himself.

Lu Xiaofeng’s eyes were already fixed on him like nails, even he himself could feel it. Therefore, suppressing his emotion, he asked, “Lu Daxia [great hero], who do you call?”

“I am not a great hero, just like you are not a scholar.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “The one I called was precisely the only Jianghu character who can ‘trespass a thousand houses in one night, rob a hundred mansions in one day’, Jin Qiliang [lit. seven taels].”

“I don’t know that man.”

“You don’t know that man, but I do.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “You are Jin Qiliang, Jin Qiliang is precisely you.”

[1] Reminder: Dahu of Sha Dahu’s name [see Chapter 3] means great family / rich family / large landlord.

[2] Alias – courtesy or style name traditionally given to males aged 20 in dynastic China.

[3] When translating Jin Yong’s Deer and Cauldron, I had the following note: I seem to remember reading about rich families in ancient China who had guests staying in their homes for an extended period of times. Interestingly, Bing Translator gives this definition: protégés of the powerful who stay with their benefactors like parasites.

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