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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 5


Chapter 5 – Seven taels of cotton, one sheet of mask.


The name Jin Qiliang was not without origin. Of course it was not his real name, but it was his nickname.

Oftentimes people of Jianghu have nicknames. Original names may be dog fart and make no sense, but nicknames have to have a bit of justification.

Lu Xiaofeng was neither little nor a phoenix [reminder: Xiao Feng means little phoenix], he did not even know what a phoenix or a phoenix’s wife [凰 – huang] look like, since has never seen them.

Naturally Ximen Chuixue [reminder: chui xue means blowing snow] did not go around and blow snow either. The only thing Li Xunhuan [xun huan means searching happiness] could find was usually trouble. Li Huai [huai means bad/spoiled] was not bad at all. Between Hu Tiehua [tie hua means iron/metal flower] and a real metal flower, even using eight bamboo poles, one will not find the least bit of relationship.

But Sha Dahu was Sha ‘Rich Family’ [see Chapter 4], Little Beggar was a little beggar, Wangbadan [lit. turtle egg, i.e. b@stard, s.o.b.] was definitely not a stinky fish.

In that case, how did other people call Jin Qiliang seven taels of gold [see Chapter 4]?

Jin Qiliang’s original name was Jin Mantang [‘fill the hall’, i.e. fullhouse, sell-out, jam-packed], if one is able to fill a large hall [tang] with a pile of gold [jin], that would be vey delightful.

Too bad the gold in his house cannot fill even a chamber pot.

Therefore, since he was little he learned martial art. His favorite was qinggong and technique to jump vertically upward.

After his qinggong was trained well, he was able to jump to high places unhindered, taking other people’s belongings and their women as easy as picking stuff from his own pocket. It was more delightful than filling the hall with gold.

Just because since childhood he had this kind of ‘grand ambition’, he trained his qinggong really well, so much so that people in Jianghu said that if Jin Mantang unleashed the full extent of his qinggong, he was able to land on the ground noiselessly, as light as flying cotton wadding, just like seven tael-cotton [1 tael is approx. 50 grams]. Hence other people called him Jin Qiliang.

Staturewise, Jin Qiliang did not look tall or impressive, he look delicate, almost pretty, with white teeth and red lips, ever since he was little he attracted a lot of people’s affection. Otherwise, there would not be that many big robbers and ‘flying thief’ [burglar who gains entrance by scaling walls] taught him tricks and secrets of qinggong.

How could this old scholar with yellow face and emaciated body be Jin Qiliang? Could it be that Lu Xiaofeng misidentified him?

“I can’t possibly misidentified you,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “You are wearing a human skin mask on your face, although it is not a bad craftmanship at all, at least it costs you several hundred taels of silver, but don’t you ever think that you could deceive me.” He walked over.

The scholar stared at him, suddenly the old man sighed, “Lu Xiaofeng, I wonder, until today, you haven’t died yet. Could it be that you really won’t die forever?” Jin Qiliang was definitely a smart man.

A smart man knew that if he could not deceive someone, he would not continue his deceit. He even took off the mask covering his face.

“Lu Xiaofeng, you have the ability to recognize me; I have nothing to say.” Jin Qiliang said, “But you said that this human-skin mask cost me several hundred taels of silver, you are just a bit too far off.”


Jin Qiliang gently caressed the cicada’s wing thin skin mask, as gentle and tender as an old man gently caressing a young woman.

“This is a ‘Red Pavilion’ genuine article, I traded a Wu Daozi painting and a four-chi [approx. four feet] tall coral for this.” He said, “Those are at least worth several thousand taels.”


“Of course it’s real.”

All four of Lu Xiaofeng’s eyebrows drooped down, he looked as if he was about to cry. “If you really traded in those two things for this mask of yours, you might as well hurry up and hang yourself.”

“Why?” Jin Qiliang urgently asked, “Are you saying that this mask is a fake?”

“If this mask is not a fake, I will go and hang myself.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “If in the evening you are wearing a Red Pavilion mask, I am afraid even the gods would find it difficult to recognize you.”

Hongge [‘Red Pavilion’] was Zhu Ting’s alias. Zhu Ting was a very, very extraordinary person, and he was also an old friend of Lu Xiaofeng.

I emphasized this matter, because it is a very important crucial point in this story.


And now Jin Qiliang’s face also looked like he was about to cry. Being swindled sometimes feels like eating sh1t; since the sh1t has already entered the belly, how could he vomit it up?

He wanted to cry, yet he could not cry, he wanted to throw up, yet he could not throw up, Jin Qiliang only felt his mouth dry and stinky.

With a very sympathetic look Lu Xiaofeng stared at him, with a very warm hand he patted his shoulder, “Don’t be angry, and don’t feel sad either; as long as you are willing to tell me the truth, I will definitely get you a genuine ‘Hongge’.”

“If you want me to tell you who that woman is, you are asking the wrong person,” Jin Qiliang said, “Practically I never look at women’s legs.”

“I know you don’t!” Lu Xiaofeng said, “You always prefer to look at men.”

The tone of his voice was not condescending at all. In some periods of history, men liked men and women like women was a very common occurrence. Especially in time of peace and prosperity, within the upper class of scholar officials society, this kind of matter was even more widespread.

Jin Qiliang’s attitude suddenly changed. Hongge’s genuine article did not move his heart, but Lu Xiaofeng’s view on this matter has moved him, it took away his feeling of inferiority, while at the time awakened an unspeakable feeling in his heart that he had met an intimate friend.

This kind of feeling was very difficult to conceal, naturally Lu Xiaofeng was able to see it right away; therefore, he immediately asked, “I believe you know this man Liu Chengfeng?”

“I do.” Jin Qiliang said, “He came here last year, and he also died here.”

“How did he die?”

“He was stabbed to death in a dark alley.” Jin Qiliang’s expression suddenly became grim, “Just like when I stabbed Eighth Master Tian’s grandson to death in a dark alley, there was no reason behind it.”

“Was it because you killed Young Master Tian that you fled to this place?”

“After killing someone that I must not kill, my only option is to flee.” Jin Qiliang sadly said, “Fugitive’s days are not easy, inevitably there will be a day the avenger of blood will catch up with me.”


“After murdering a man, my heart is in turmoil, it’s hard to avoid leaving behind some trails.” Jin Qiliang said, “It doesn’t matter how high your qinggong is, it doesn’t matter how fast you can run, as long as there is a little bit of trail, others will be able to find you.”

“The person who killed Liu Chengfeng, what kind of trail did he leave?”

“He left a blade.” Jin Qiliang said, “A very unique blade.”

In Jianghu people’s eyes, a blade is a blade, just like a man is a man. Any man can be killed, any blade can kill a man. Men use a blade, blade kills a man, a man is killed. Just like chicken produce eggs, eggs produce chicken, in turn chicken produce other eggs; it’s just natural. Just like one is one, two is two, three is three; it’s that simple.

Jianghu’s logic was just as simple. If they say that a blade was very unique, that the blade must be very special indeed.

Jin Qiliang was a hundred per cent Jianghu man. Since he said so, it was only natural that Lu Xiaofeng asked him, “What’s so special about the blade?”

Jin Qiliang’s answer was very strange, his answer did not sound like something a Jianghu man would say. “Practically that blade is not a blade,” he said.

Lu Xiaofeng was not deaf, his mind was also very clear; to this day, he had not even drunk a drop of wine. He heard every word of it, not a single word was missed.

“Practically that blade is not a blade.” That was what Jin Qiliang had said.

Jin Qiliang did not lie at all, that blade indeed could not be considered a ‘saber’ [reminder: in Chinese, the word ‘dao’ can be translated as blade, knife, dagger, single-edged sword, and saber], it was no more than a dagger. Not only the design was very intricate, undoubtedly the value was extremely high.

The hilt was carved from a genuine elephant trunk, in the shape of a naked woman, the curves were exquisite, very vivid and lifelike. If you stare at her, her eyes seemed to stare back at you with desire, as if she was going to throw herself into your embrace.

The color of ivory was as warm, as soft, and as smooth as the skin of a young woman. But if you lightly press her breasts, a dagger suddenly shot out of the hilt. The body of the blade seemed to gleam with a dark red color, similar to the color of blood when it is dry. There was no doubt whatsoever that every part of this dagger was the masterpiece of a very skilled artisan. Moreover, the age must be very old.

Sha Dahu pulled this dagger out from a small cabinet in a secret compartment behind a bookshelf in his study room. He lightly tapped the mechanism, the dagger popped up, the tip flickered just like flashing blood.

“This is the murder weapon used to assassinate Liu Daxia,” Sha Dahu said, “A sharp blade like this, naturally I wanted to keep it personally so that I won’t have any worry. At least this place of mine is a lot safer than a coffin shop.”

He added, “I really do not wish for it to fall into other people’s hands, because all along I wanted to personally give it to you.”

It was not a lie, and now it was done.

Lu Xiaofeng held the ivory hilt in his hand. Suddenly he sighed, “It appears that you are a good person. At least you are much better than me.” He said to Sha Dahu, “If I were you, I won’t hand over this kind of weapon to other people.” He then laughed and went on, “If you knew the value and origin of this blade, probably you won’t hand it over to me either.”


“This is an antique dagger! Its age is probably a lot older than my grandfather’s grandfather.”

“I can see that.”

“People have history, daggers do too.” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “Can you see its origin?”

“I can’t.”

“This dagger shot out of the hilt, very few Central Earth’s master craftsmen are able to make this kind of weapon, and if it was not a master craftsman, nobody could refine such a sharp blade.” Lu Xiaofeng continued, “Therefore, I can tell that it came from Persia.”

“Persia?” Sha Dahu asked, “Don’t Persians use curved sabers?”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed again, “Isn’t this a saber?” [See my note on ‘dao’ above.]

It was not a saber, it was no more than a dagger. Sha Dahu could only smile wryly.

Why did this damn little bird love to make people pick a stone and smash their own foot?

“I have spent some time in the sea, I knew a bunch of friends, who, as long as there is water around it, they have been to that place. The farthest place they have reached is the end of the earth.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “I believe what they say, although these fellows are not good people, they are both vicious and fierce, bullies who don’t talk reasons, but they would never tell a lie to a friend.”

These fellows were not pirates. Lu Xiaofeng did have some pirates as friends, but it should not come as a surprise. If his friends were all gentlemen, that should be surprising.

“One of these people was an old skipper, so old that he did not even remember his own surname, given name, and his own age.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “This old fellow had this kind of dagger.”

Naturally this old skipper was not a fishing boat captain, on the Persian seas, ships carrying imperial family’s flags were not uncommon; inevitably these ships would sometimes come across a pirate ship.

Where did the old skipper get his dagger from? Probably it’s not hard to imagine.

Even he himself did not deny, “These kinds of daggers are usually seen only in the imperial court.”


In imperial courts, princes struggled for power, courtiers strived for favor, ministers defamed each other for advancement. Throughout all ages, every royal family could not escape such circumstances, regardless of geographic location, regardless of the country.

In order to struggle for power, strive for favor, any method had been used; assassination, poisoning, and so on were common things.

If a certain prince suddenly died, or a certain courtier suddenly went missing, immediately the ministers privy to this information would do everything in their power to suppress it, there must be absolutely no leak, the emperor must be prevented from knowing the inside story, there must be no scandal in the imperial household.

If someone wanted to investigate, not only he would violate the biggest taboo, he would also provoke others’ wrath.

In order to protect themselves, it was often a necessity to make the move first in dealing with other people. Most princes with power and high-ranking ministers employed some kind of strategic advisors, bodyguards and assassins by their sides.

“However, it was only natural that weapons are prohibited in the imperial palaces; therefore, this kind of dagger that looks like a toy became the assassins’ weapon of choice,” the old skipper said.

Naturally this kind of weapon was not easy to obtain. The skipper continued, “During the time when the situation in Persian royal court was most unstable, this kind of dagger could fetch price as high as five thousand five hundred taels of gold.”

He also told Lu Xiaofeng, “In the slave market at that time, stunning blonde girls were the most expensive, yet at most they were only seven or eight taels of gold; if not a virgin, the value was reduced by half.”

Five thousand taels of gold for one dagger; how could this kind of invaluable Persian antique appear in this kind of a remote and desolate place? Who owned it? In this kind of small town, who have such qualification? Who had such ability?

In the Persian imperial court, how many people had this kind of qualifications?

Only one kind of person had such qualifications. Only one kind of person was worthy enough to wield such sharp weapon.

But which kind of person?

Naturally, it was the kind of person who was able to use the dagger most effectively, one who could grasp the best timing, and one who once made his move would never fail.

Such persons usually had personality traits and characteristics that other people could not imitate, or even learn to mimic, which differ from the fast blade ordinary people used to stab others in the marketplace.

Because they usually move about in the imperial court.

Hence, their manners were usually very elegant. People who were able cultivate this kind of manners, naturally had considerable scholarly knowledge, self-cultivation, and character. The people they were in contact with would certainly be people with exceptional aristocracy.

Only this kind of assassin could move freely within the heavily guarded imperial family community. They were able to kill in a flash and got away imperceptibly.

This kind of assassins was completely different to the Jianghu’s professional killers.

Jianghu killers must have ordinary appearance, they must not have any characteristic that when people took a glance it would be hard to forget; they must not have any personality traits and individuality that stood out among the masses. Other people must simply forget that they existed.

If you do not think that such people exist, how can you guard against them?

On this matter, there was once a senior who made a famous remark, “If the one you want to kill was a tortoise, then you ought to become a tortoise first to succeed.”


“Now we have this dagger, what we know it not a few.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “First, we know its worth is invaluable, plus it is an antique from Persian royal court; even in Persia I am afraid it is already very difficult to find, the number of people from the Central Earth who are able to obtain it can’t be too many.”

Even with his extensive knowledge and vast network of friends, so far he had only seen two such daggers.

“The person who can use it, his status must not be low, his martial art skill cannot be weak, plus the way he made his move must be very fast.” Lu Xiaofeng said, “If he did not have the confidence that with one strike he would hit his target, yet he still used it to kill people, that is practically the same as revealing this treasure to the world.”

With an indifferent tone he asked Sha Dahu, “In your opinion: in here, who has enough qualifications to use this kind of weapon?”

“In my opinion, in here there seems to be only one who has enough qualifications to use it.” With a bitter smile Sha Dahu said, “This person seems to be me.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed, “What you say is not wrong, it seems to be so. It’s a pity that it’s nothing more than ‘seems to be’.”

“Why?” Sha Dahu’s big boss temperament started to flare-up, “You think I don’t have enough qualifications?”

“Speaking about using this dagger, your qualifications are certainly enough; I’ll say you can afford to buy it.” Lu Xiaofeng went on, “But speaking about using it to murder Liu Chengfeng in an instant, then I am sorry.”

“What do you mean you are sorry?” Sha Dahu’s big boss temper was really aroused, “You don’t think I can do it?”

“It’s not that you can’t do it, but nobody can.” Lu Xiaofeng’s voice was brimming with confidence, “In all the world, there is absolutely no one who could kill Liu Chengfeng head-on with one stab of a blade.”

Big Boss Sha stared at him for a good part of half a day. Suddenly, quick as lightning he made his move, he seized the dagger in Lu Xiaofeng’s hand. Lu Xiaofeng was caught off guard. Sha Dahu roared in laughter, “Lu Xiaofeng, this time you are wrong, Liu Chengfeng was killed by me with this dagger. Do you believe me?”

Lu Xiaofeng’s countenance changed, as if he suddenly saw a morning glory flower sprouted out of the man’s nose.

This kind of expression only made the big boss’ temper flare up even higher. Letting out an angry shout, he thrust the dagger in his hand like a lightning toward the pit of Lu Xiaofeng’s stomach.

Of course his speed was a bit slower than real lightning, but considering the short distance he had to cover, it was an easy thing to do.

Apparently Lu Xiaofeng did not expect this move either, it appeared that very soon the tip of the blade would enter his heart.

Right this instant, suddenly two fingers appeared. Nobody could see clearly where these two fingers came from, it seemed that the fingers suddenly appeared directly from Lu Xiaofeng’s heart, and immediately stuck onto the blade.

Another blink of an eye, the dagger already moved into Lu Xiaofeng’s hand.

This time it was Big Boss Sha’s countenance that underwent a big change, and it was Lu Xiaofeng who roared in laughter.

“Just now you asked me whether I believe that Liu Chengfeng was killed by you, and now I can give you the answer.”

The answer was, “I don’t believe it.”

“If you said that you can kill Liu Chengfeng with one stab of the blade, then when I blow my horn, I can also blow the horn in Persia.”

Big Boss Sha stared at him for another half a day; originally he was so angry that his face turned purple, but suddenly he smiled, “Lu Xiaofeng, you are all right, I submit to you.”

He went on, “Only in one thing I disagree with you.”

“Which is?”

“You said that there is no one in the world who could kill Liu Chengfeng head-on with one stab of a blade, yet Liu Chengfeng was obviously killed head-on with one stab of a blade.” Sha Dahu asked Lu Xiaofeng, “How do you explain that?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not even have to think to answer, “That was because the person who killed him was someone that he definitely never guarded against, a friend that was very close to him.”

“I was also his friend.”

“But you were not close enough to him.”

“What kind of friend would you consider close enough to him?” Big Boss Sha asked.

“Actually, you should also know that people who can make a man did not guard against the most are usually not his friends, usually are not men either.”

“If not friends then what are they?”

“A man’s lover, usually is not a man.”

Big Boss Sha incredulously asked, “Are you saying that you think Liu Chengfeng had a secret lover in here?”

Actually, his question did not need to be asked. As long as a man stays in one place for at least one night, there is good chance that he will have a secret lover. All men are just like that, Liu Chengfeng was not an exception.

The question is: who was his lover? Was it the ‘anybody-could-fool-around-with’, the grocery store lady boss?

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable in his heart; if he had thought about this early on, even if a saber was pressed against the major artery on the back and left of his neck, he would never touch a single strand of her hair.

The Big Boss Sha unexpectedly also looked about the same as he did.

— Was it because he had also had some entanglement with that flirtatious lady boss?

Thinking about it, Lu Xiaofeng’s heart became even more uncomfortable, because he had already discovered that his (male) cousin had gone far more than he has ever imagined. [Translator’s note: I don’t understand it either; could he be referring to Liu Chengfeng, i.e. Liu Chengfeng was actually his (maternal) cousin? I don’t think it was explained earlier.]

Concerning Liu Chengfeng’s death, the clues that he unearthed were far less than he had expected.

He had originally thought that he would find suspects here and there, and from each one he could hopefully trace the bits of clues back to the real killer.

But the suspects were contradicting each other.

When he arrived at this small town, the first one he saw was the Little Beggar. The Little Beggar’s surname was unclear, his given name was unclear, his martial art skill unclear, his appearance was sneaky, and had always been sneakily doing some sneaky things. He even sneaked into Lu Xiaofeng’s room and hid under Lu Xiaofeng’s bed, and it was unclear what he was looking for.

He was first one Lu Xiaofeng saw when he entered this town, he was also the first one who found Liu Chengfeng’s dead body. Hence he would have been a major suspect; although he might not be the real killer, he ought to be an accomplice. Yet he ended up to be a direct disciple of the Beggar Clan, with which Lu Xiaofeng had a very close relation.

Liu Chengfeng’s body was kept in a coffin shop. The murder weapon was also kept in the same coffin shop. How could he not consider the coffin shop owner as a suspect?

But the murder weapon already disappeared, and his expression when others wanted to kill him to close his mouth did not look like he was the real killer.

The lady boss looked like she wanted to hook up with everybody she met, anybody could fool around with her, but having affair are not the same as committing murder. Plus her legs were not that pair of legs.

Wang Dayan [reminder: ‘da yan’ means ‘big eye’] was no more than a blind person with opened eyes, his wife was having affairs with other people yet he did not see anything. If somebody said that this man was able to kill Liu Chengfeng head on with one stab, now that would be strange indeed.

Big Boss Sha had enough qualifications to kill Liu Chengfeng: he was wealthy, he knew martial art, and he had people who were willing to sell their lives for him, plus the murder weapon was also in his possession. Too bad he had a bit too much of big boss mentality.

The most important thing was: these people were born and raised in this place; not only they had the slightest amount of gratitude and grudges with Liu Chengfeng, practically they did not have anything to do with him at all. They had neither a motive nor reason to kill him. It was unfortunate that Liu Chengfeng just died here.

Who killed him? And why?

Lu Xiaofeng knew that there must be a mysterious crucial point that no one was able to obtain. Hidden in one of the corners of the human mind.

His rationale was not wrong.

Too bad that his train of thought had reached a dead end.

By the time he found this crucial point, he had already died.

But how could Lu Xiaofeng die?

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