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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 9

CSI

Chapter 9 – What a fast blade

(One)

When Lu Xiaofeng found Wang Dayan, this grocery store boss, whose green hat[1] was as big as the mountain, was already as drunk as mud, so that his body was covered in vomit, his shoes were covered in mud. Yet he was lying in bed, sleeping soundly. The stench in his room was enough to kill people on the entire street.

Such a good-for-nothing, careless person, how could he be a murderer? How could he kill Liu Chengfeng, a famous Jianghu hero?

There is no way Lu Xiaofeng could believe it.

Yet the lady boss, who came out stark naked from someone else’s bedroom, said that the jade pendant was given by her ‘husband’. Hence Lu Xiaofeng simply must ask this boss.

No matter how many green hats the lady boss has given him, her ‘husband’ was, after all, only one.

To wake a drunk-like-a-pig man up, the best way was to fetch a bucket of cold water and pour it on this head. Especially in this kind of weather. This method was guaranteed to work.

But in all honestly, Lu Xiaofeng did not have the heart to do it. He also knew that pitiful people are not beyond doing repulsive things, but whenever he came across pitiful people, his heart always turned especially soft.

Therefore, he spent a lot of time and wasting a lot of efforts before Big Master Wang finally woke up.

At first he was thinking of waiting a bit longer until he was a bit more sober before he could ask about the origin of the jade pendant. Who would have thought that as soon as Wang Dayan saw the jade pendant, he cried out, “I gave that to my wife, how did it end up in your hands? You’d better tell me quickly, where did you get it?”

Lu Xiaofeng could only let out a bitter laugh.

He simply had no way of explaining, and he did not want to explain it. Therefore, he could only take a rather simple way, a way that he rarely used in dealing with pitiful people. This way was very effective in making people tell the truth.

Sure enough, Wang Dayan quickly confessed the origin of the jade pendant. “I spent the whole three taels to buy it.”

“Who sold it to you?”

“Who else but that little b@stard?” Wang Dayan went on, “Usually that little b@stard was poor as hell, but as soon as Liu Daye [big master] died, he became rich. I always suspect that he is ‘seeing riches provokes evil designs’, that he ‘plot and kill someone for his property’.”

Whether what he said was the truth or not, Lu Xiaofeng must find the little beggar to confirm. Besides, the trail has been investigated to this point, very soon it would reach the end, if he continued chasing the trail, he might find the main threads.

Therefore, the little beggar must be found.

Wang Dayan volunteered to take Lu Xiaofeng looking for him. “The places where that little b@stard usually stays, nobody knew it better than I do. Allow me.”

But he did not find him. They went to seven, eight places, still he was not found.

This little b@stard seemed to have vanished.

(Two)

How could someone suddenly disappear?

Was it because someone wanted to make him the scapegoat, therefore, they killed him and destroy his body to eradicate any trace? Or was it because he knew that all clues had pointed to him, hence he had no choice but to disappear without any trace?

Lu Xiaofeng was not sure.

Up to now, he had not had any hard evidence, he had not been able to find anybody to corroborate his findings.

Lu Xiaofeng had never made any careless decision, even if he knew for sure that someone was the murderer, before he found hard evidence, he would not make any move.

In any case, he was unwilling to indict an innocent.

There were a lot of people in Jianghu who said that he had a lot of similarity with Fragrant Commander Chu [i.e. Chu Liuxiang] of the past, who had become a legend while he was still alive. Actually, the similarities between them were not many.

Practically, the two of them were two completely different persons.

Chu Liuxiang was elegant, temperate and refined, Lu Xiaofeng was wild and jumpy; the two basically had totally different personalities, naturally the way they worked was also completely different.

Only in one area these two were exactly the same.

Both were rational men, they never expose other people’s private affair, they never make rash decision, never wronged the innocents. Therefore, all their lives they had a clear conscience, because they were able to look into their own hearts and find no shame.

In any case, the little beggar has become one of the suspects in this murder case.

If even someone like him could be a murderer, who in this little town can be trusted?

However, in this little town, nobody had either the motivation or justification in murdering Liu Chengfeng; even more, nobody had the ability to do so.

They all grew up here, in all their lives they had never left this place, they had never seen Liu Chengfeng before.

Except maybe one person. Gong Susu.

Thinking about Gong Susu, he remembered Gong Ping. Immediately Lu Xiaofeng became very nervous.

When Gong Ping and he parted, he was a bit worried. She insisted on coming back to look for Gong Susu, while he must follow the trail of the jade pendant. He had no reason to stop her.

At that time he was already worried, because he had a feeling that Gong Susu was a very dangerous person.

So now he decided to look for Gong Susu.

(Three)

Looking for people is a very strange business. Sometimes you are not looking for someone, yet he always appears in front of you anytime, anywhere. But when you are looking for him, you simply cannot find him.

The situation this time was similar.

When Lu Xiaofeng arrived at Gong Susu’s residence, the place was already deserted. Not a shadow was to be seen. Not only Gong Susu was not there, Gong Ping was not there either; even the white-haired old granny who answered the door was gone.

The house was originally decorated very elegantly and was very clean, but now everything was in disarray, as if there were seventy, eighty monkeys had just filled the house and somersaulted everywhere.

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart sank, but his eyes suddenly lit up.

He saw something. Although the house was a complete mess, this thing was very striking to his eyes.

Lu Xiaofeng saw a clump of hair.

A clump of disheveled hair tied with a piece of sackcloth. The original color of the sackcloth was brownish yellow, but now it has turned to almost black, perhaps because it had been used for a long time and had never been replaced.

The hair was originally black, but now it has turned to brownish yellow because of dust, mud, grease, and sandy soil. It seemed that the last time the hair was washed was a lifetime ago.

Lu Xiaofeng recognized the hair. This clump of hair ought to be on the little beggar’s head, but now it lay between the shattered flower vase and the crystal lampshade that had not been broken.

Although the clump of hair was disheveled, the cut end was very neat.

Naturally a clump of hair would not fall randomly from someone’s head.

Undoubtedly it was cut by a blade and fell down.

Lu Xiaofeng picked up the hair and fixed his gaze on the cut end. Suddenly the pupil of his eyes narrowed.

“What a fast blade.”

Such a fast blade, was it fast enough to pierce Liu Chengfeng’s heart in one stab?

Whose blade was it?

(Four)

Have the little beggar been to Gong Susu’s place? Someone of unknown sex, age, and identity cut his mane with one swipe of the blade, and then nobody knew his life or death, as well as his whereabouts.

Gong Ping and Gong Susu’s fate was equally unclear. Just what had happened here, other than the three of them, nobody knew.

With the little beggar’s mane in his hand, Lu Xiaofeng just stood there with a blank stare for half a day. All of sudden he remembered something else.

Not three people, but four.

Other than Gong Ping, Gong Susu and the little beggar, there was also the old woman with completely white hair. How come she was not seen either?

Such an old woman that she could not even straightened her back, could she be involved in this murder case?

Although Lu Xiaofeng asked himself all these questions, he knew that he would never find out the answer.

Right this moment, the pupil of his eyes suddenly narrowed again.

This time, he did not see anything striking, rather, he heard a sound that was as piercing to the ears as piercing to the eyes.

Actually, the sound Lu Xiaofeng heard could not be considered ear-piercing, because it was no more than a weak moan. But to his ears, it was more ear-piercing than the tip of a needle, because he could instantly recognize the sound as belonging to Gong Ping.

Gong Ping was still here? Why did she make such a painful sound? Was she hurt?

The only consolation was: as long as one could still make any noise, that means one is not dead yet.

Lu Xiaofeng took a very deep breath. He controlled his own heartbeat and breathing.

A quiet night.

He managed to control his own heartbeat and breathing until it barely made any noise. Therefore, by the time the second moan, which was as weak as an ordinary person’s breathing, was heard, Lu Xiaofeng immediately knew the direction from which it came.

(Five)

The sky was very dark. Because it was the darkest time of the day, just before dawn arrived. Plus there was no star, no moon, and no lantern.

The originally bright and beautiful small courtyard, now it was as black as if ink was splashed all over it. He could see nothing.

But very quickly Lu Xiaofeng was able to find Gong Ping, in a place where no one else could find her.

By the wall at the back of the courtyard, there stood seven, eight big jars to raise goldfish.

Very few rich families in the Capital did not raise goldfish. It was one kind of habit, as well as a lifestyle. Although the flourish of the former days has passed like smoke, like a dream, some habit, some lifestyle, could not change.

Too bad in such a place where the birds don’t lay eggs, where could one find goldfish? Where could one find water? Therefore, in our former imperial lady’s courtyard, there was no other choice but to let this row of goldfish tanks stood empty.

Gong Ping was precisely inside the third empty goldfish tank from the left.

Naturally she did not voluntarily hide herself inside, nobody wanted to be stuffed inside a goldfish tank.

If she was able to fight back, she would not have been stuffed inside. Unfortunately, there were nine extra silver needles on her body, every single one was inserted into a very vital acupoint.

The darkest time has passed. The sky already began to show a bit of light. Under the faint light the silver needle glistened.

All four of Lu Xiaofeng’s eyebrows seemed to frown.

He could see that these needles hit Gong Ping’s vital acupoints using a very-powerful secret projectile shooting technique.

The one shooting secret projectiles toward the coffin shop boss was undoubtedly also the same person.

It does not matter which era, such a secret projectile expert has always been rare.

Who was this person?

After the silver needle was pulled out, Gong Ping was able to speak, “I know you must be worried about me, but I am not worried at all, because I always thought Gong Susu would never do this to me.” Gong Ping said, “I never thought, even in my dream, that Old Lady Xu would be able to subdue me in just one move.”

“Who is Old Lady Xu?”

“It’s the old granny who opened the door for you the other day.”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly remembered someone.

The Jianghu people who were able to execute such a formidable secret projectile technique to harm others, their number probably did not exceed ten. The number of women among them was no more than two or three. One of them was not only an expert in secret projectiles, she was also adept in changing her appearance, plus she was a divine thief. The ‘Three-hand Goddess’ Xu Ba. When she was still known as the ‘Fairy’[2], her fame already shook both sides of the Yangtze River.

Could it be that the granny that was so old that she nearly withered away was the Fairy Xu of the olden days, whose skill was as divine as an immortal?

How did she end up in a place like this? How did she become a slave in an exiled imperial concubine’s house? Based on both her reputation and her martial art skill, based on her standing and dignity in Jianghu, great majority of imperial concubines in the world were only fit to wash her feet.

Nobody would ever expect that someone whose seven vital acupoints were sealed, and was stuffed into a goldfish bowl would be rescued by someone else.

Gong Ping was supposed to be dead. Gong Susu did not kill her, she merely wanted her to suffer a bit of pain. But what about the little beggar?

Lu Xiaofeng asked Gong Ping, “Did you see the little beggar?”

Of course Gong Ping saw him. “But I have never expected that he was that kind of person; unexpectedly he took the risk to rescue me.”

Lu Xiaofeng was clearly moved. He was silent for a long time before asking again, “Has he fallen under evil hands?”

Gong Ping sighed sadly, “Even if he is still alive right now, I am afraid he won’t be alive for long.”

“Why?”

“Because he seemed to know a secret that others do not wish him to know.” Gong Ping said, “He seemed to have seen something that he is not supposed to see.”

This ‘something’ and the secret must be closely related to Liu Chengfeng’s death. Lu Xiaofeng had no doubt about it. Therefore, he did not ask further.

He only asked Gong Ping, “Where is the little beggar now?”

“He was caught and brought away. Gong Susu and Old Lady Xu caught him and brought him away.”

“Why are they taking him away?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “If they wanted to kill him to shut his mouth, why didn’t they kill him right here?”

Gong Ping answered Lu Xiaofeng’s question with a question, “If you want to kill someone, would you like him to die in your own house?”

“I won’t.”

“Having someone walk to another place on his own, isn’t that a lot easier than dragging a dead body away?”

“Right.”

Now naturally Lu Xiaofeng understood, Gong Susu brought the little beggar away, because she wanted to wipe out the body, wipe out the mouth, wipe out any evidence.

Naturally that place was somewhere other people would not able to find, because nobody knew where it was.

Lu Xiaofeng did not know either.

He was able to do a lot of things that were impossible for others. He drank wine like drinking tea, he gambled with his life like gambling with cards, he could clamp other people’s deadly weapons with his two fingers, as easy as a mischievous and romantic girl using her two fingers to pinch her sweetheart’s nose, while facing life and death situation, he could still recite the jokes going around in this place, where the birds do not lay eggs, to the fullest extent.

But he was, after all, nothing more than a man; there are things that were beyond his ability to achieve.

He had never thought that a kite would give him such enlightenment.

In the cool, crisp breeze of the dawn, under the dim, pale crescent moon on the dark blue sky background, a kite was floating down.

It was quite a big kite, as big as a large eagle soaring above the snowy mountain and the peak of the mountain range.

Under the dim first glimmer of dawn, the kite suddenly flashed eight large characters that were written using bluish green phosphorous ink: ‘To find the root of disaster, break the fish bowl’. [要找祸秧打破鱼缸]

These eight characters also looked like a joke from this birds-do-not-lay-eggs place.

[1] ‘Wearing greet hat’ means a cuckold, someone whose spouse is cheating on him/her.

[2] ‘Goddess’ and ‘Fairy’, orig. 仙姬 [xian ji] and 仙姑 [xian gu], ‘xian’ – immortal, ‘ji’ – woman (general term), usually refers to older or married women, ‘gu’ – aunt, the same ‘gu’ as in ‘gu niang’, Miss; usually refers to younger women.

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