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Phantoms’ Mountain Manor Chapter 15

CSI

Chapter 15 – Scheming under heavy siege

The thirteenth of the fourth month, dusk.

The sky gradually turned dark, the lamps in the main hall have been lit.

But above the beam was still dark, sunlight could not reach there, lamp light could not reach that place either. Actually, there are a lot of places in the world that are just like that, i.e. in perpetual darkness.

Some people are like that, too.

Could it be that Lu Xiaofeng has turned into that kind of person? Could it be that he would not get another chance to stick his head out, and could only hide in the dark like a mouse, hiding from Ximen Chuixue?

Perhaps he still had a chance. Perhaps this operation was his only chance; therefore, he simply must not fail.

But he did not have any confidence.

To be fair, who would have confidence of snatching the Taoist crown from Shi Yan’s head? He could not think of anyone.

He heard other footsteps coming into the main hall. The one on the head of the procession had very light footsteps, although he was walking in such haste, because all his chi, his blood, his muscles, were already linked together. Although he still had flesh and blood, he was unlike everybody else.

Nothing was wasted from his body.

Lu Xiaofeng could not resist peeking out from atop the beam, sneakily looking down. A procession of Taoist priests wearing purple robes and black hats was entering the main hall. The one leading the procession was, unexpectedly, Wooden Taoist.

He had known Wooden Taoist for many years, but not until now did he realize that this senior Wudang swordsman’s power was actually a lot higher than everybody had always thought.

Shi Yan has not arrived. The first chair on the host side was still empty. Wooden Taoist could only sit on the second chair.

Although he was a person of virtue and prestige, his seniority was extremely high, but when the Sect Leader was present, he would have to occupy the second position.

It was Wudang’s law, but it was also the established standard in Jianghu; no one could change it.

The main hall was brightly lit. And then there was the sound of gong. Wooden Taoist stepped down the stairs to welcome the guests. One after another all the honored guests arrived.

Everybody looked very serious, Yingyan Laoqi and the others looked especially grim; obviously they still could not forget what had happened earlier that day.

That big and tall, majestic looking old man also came. Unexpectedly his seat was above the Chief of the Twelve-dock Alliance’s.

Who was he? How come he never showed his face in Jianghu before? Why did he appear this time?

From the moment he arrived, Lu Xiaofeng has been fixing his eyes on him; he had a vague feeling that he ought to know this man, but he just could not figure it out.

The number of chairs in the main hall was really not too many; the number of people with enough qualifications to sit in this hall was indeed not too many. But the number of guests was quite a lot. Those who did not have seat could only stand.

Tie Jian, Shi Yan, Wang Shidai, Shuishang Fei, Gao Xingkong, Xiao Gu of Mount Ba, Yingyan Laoqi, and the others had people standing behind them; anybody could be the one waiting for an opportunity to take their lives.

Among those people, how many were those who had died once and were resurrected? Which one was Du Tiexin? Which one was Guan Tianwu? Which one was Old Lady Lou?

Lu Xiaofeng was trying to identify them.

After they had their appearances changed, other than Old Sabre Honcho and Canine Master, Lu Xiaofeng was the only one who knew.

Canine Master had made a portrait drawing of everyone’s new appearance, and had given the drawings to Lu Xiaofeng.

— In all the first-class inns, the lavatory has always been fairly spacious. Other than going to the bathroom, people could do a lot of other things.

Hai Qikuo killed the dog. But since it was a real dog, where did Canine Master go?

Could it be that this secret was also known only to Lu Xiaofeng?

Very soon he was able to find them. Even the man-without-a-face, Shi He, now had a face.

Obviously every one of them had their eyes fixed on their respective target, all they were waiting for was for the lamps to go out, and then they would immediately make their move.

It seemed that the only one without anybody dealing with was Wooden Taoist. Was it because he has not paid any attention to Jianghu matters for a long time that Old Sabre Honcho practically did not consider him as a target?

Lu Xiaofeng did not ponder over this question too far, because right that moment his own target has appeared.

Wearing purple and gold Taoist crown on his head, the Wudang Sect Leader slowly walked in, followed by four law enforcement escorts.

This Taoist priest Shi Yan’s name was known throughout the present age, not only because of his deep spiritual cultivation and numerous meritorious deeds, but also because since he was young he had been a veteran of a hundred battles; his swordsmanship and internal energy cultivation were also at the level that very few people could accomplish.

But now unexpectedly he looked very tired, he looked very old and weak, he looked a bit nervous even.

Shi Yan was indeed a bit nervous.

Facing so many honored guests and distinguish visitors, although he had to put on a smiling face to welcome the guests, in his heart he was actually very tense and jittery.

For the last ten years, he very rarely had this kind of feeling.

However, today he seemed to have some kind of of ominous feeling, a premonition that something bad was about to happen.

“Maybe I should retire,” he said to himself, “I’ll go find a peaceful and remote place, build two wooden cabins, and henceforth no longer care about the right and wrong in the Jianghu, and no longer see any Jianghu people either.”

Unfortunately, up to now, this thought was no more than a fantasy; whether he could really escape unscathed from the Jianghu’s right and wrong, even he himself was not quite sure. If he failed to seize the opportunity, there was a very good chance that it would be too late.

Every time he was tired, the back of his neck would feel stiff, and then his old ailment, a severe headache, would flare-up.

Especially now, when he had to wear the heavy purple and gold Taoist crown, which felt like a saucepan lid pressing down his head.

All the distinguished guests stood up to welcome him.

Although he knew that they only respected him because he was the Sect Leader of Wudang, although he did not completely like this people, he still had to put on the warmest smile on his face, while he greeted the guests one by one to return the courtesy.

— Wasn’t it just like acting in a play?

— Since you have the role as the leader of this Sect, it doesn’t matter if your neck is stiff, if your head is aching, the show must go on, you simply must continue acting.

The lamps in the main hall were blazing.

Under the bright light, Tie Jian and Wang Shidai definitely looked more tired than he, they looked even older and weaker than he.

As a matter of fact, they should have had retired and returned to their native place to live in seclusion a long time ago; they did not need to come here at all.

He did not wish to see them, especially Wang Shidai. “An obvious narrow-minded man who always keep others’ offense and want to pay back, yet acted like a man enduring the hardships of life and put on an appearance of despising worldly conventions.”

And then there was that Xiao Gu of Mount Ba, who always love to look in the mirror; he really ought to open a brothel, why did he leave home [to become Buddhist monk or Taoist priest] instead?

Why is it that there are so many people in the world that are not able to do what they really want to do?

The ceremony was underway. Every step of the program, Shi Yan himself was unclear how many times he had performed; every word he had to say, he did not remember how many times he had spoken those same words.

It did not matter what he thought, he would not make a single mistake; everything seemed to be going without a hitch.

And then he had to announce the name of his successor.

With the corner of his eye he looked at several of his most important disciples, those who were most promising, but also those who appeared most nervous.

If the name he announced did not belong to one of these people, what would their expression look like? How would the other people react?

Wouldn’t it be very interesting to see?

Thinking about this, he could not stop a smile from appearing on the corners of his mouth, he nearly could not even resist from laughing.

But he quickly controlled himself and braced himself to continue with the most important segment of the ceremony.

Just then, the altar lamps in the main hall, which had never stop burning day and night, unexpectedly went out suddenly.

Instantly there was a danger sign appearing in his heart, he knew right then that the ominous feeling, the premonition in his heart has already come true.

Almost at the same instant, all seventy-two altar lamps inside and outside the main hall went out together.

Several sharp, swishing noise was heard in the dark, the candles on the incense burning table were also being struck and went out together.

The brightly lit main hall suddenly turned into a blanket of darkness.

Suddenly a series of miserable cry was heard in the dark, followed by even sharper gust of wind, coming from the beam blowing toward his head, blowing the Taoist crown off the top of his head; it sounded like the brushing of sleeve of a night walker.

By the time he reached up to hold the Taoist crown, the Taoist crown had disappeared.

“Qiang!” the Seven-Star Sword on his waist was unsheathed, but it was not he who pulled it out.

Instantly he pulled back, but the ribs on his flank suddenly felt icy-cold, as if a sword blade has just swept across.

All these things seemed to happen at the same moment.

Most of the people there did not even know what was going on, naturally they would not know what to do to meet this contingency.

Those mournful, miserable cry had made these turns of events seem even more mysterious and frightening.

Surprisingly, the voices of Tie Jian and Wang Shidai, those top-ranking martial art experts, seemed to be among those miserable cries. And then Wooden Taoist’s shout was heard, “Who has fire paper? Quickly light the lamps.”

Unexpectedly, his voice was still very calm, although Shi Yan could hear the pain in it.

Could it be that he was also injured?

Although it all happened very fast, everyone there felt as if it were forever.

What had happened in that split second, no one would ever forget.

At last the lamps were re-lit, everybody was even more shocked, even more terrified. No one could believe his own eyes, yet these things were real.

— Tie Jian, Wang Shidai, Xiao Gu of Mount Ba, Shuishang Fei, Gao Xingkong, Yingyan Laoqi, and several most important disciples of Wudang, were down; they fell down in pools of blood.

Wang Shidai even had a sword still sticking out from his waist, the sword’s blade has pierced his fatal point until only the sword hilt was visible outside.

Wooden Taoist also had some bloodstain on his body; but although he was injured, he was still the most calm.

“The assailants must still be here, before the truth is known, it would be best if everybody remains here.”

It was an extraordinary incident, the tone of his voice became very grave, “No matter who, whoever leaves this main hall a single step will not be able to wash off the suspicion of being the murderer; in that case, please do not blame our School’s disciples for being rude to the honored guests.”

No one dared to leave, no one dared to even move.

The situation was indeed too grave, no one was willing to bear the slightest risk of being a suspect.

The strange thing was, nobody remaining in the main hall had any weapons in them; where did the saber and sword used for killing come from? And where did they go?

Although Shi Yan’s injury was not heavy, he appeared to be more grieved, more angry, and more dispirited than others.

Wooden Taoist lowered his voice, “The assailants can’t be just one person. As soon as they finished striking, most likely they used the darkness as a cover to walk away, but they can’t possibly all leave Wudang’s premise.”

Shi Yan could not resist asking, “Since we all have to stay in the main hall, who is going to go after them?”

“I’ll go,” Wooden Taoist said.

He looked around at the Wudang disciples who were waiting for orders, “I have to bring several capable people.”

Shi Yan said, “Our School’s disciples are at Shishu’s [martial (younger) uncle] disposal.”

Wooden Taoist left immediately, taking along ten people; obviously these people were all elites disciples of Wudang School.

Watching him leaving in a hurry, Shi Yan’s eyes suddenly revealed some kind of odd look.

The big, tall, and majestic looking old man quietly came over to him and said in very low voice, “It indeed happened.”

Shi Yan nodded. Suddenly he pulled himself together and raised his spirit, “It was an extraordinary incident, I am obliged to ask everybody to wait here a bit longer. Wu Gou, lead the disciples under your command to take the Seniors died for a just cause to the Ting Zhu Courtyard first. Wu Jing, Wu Se, lead your disciples to search everywhere, as soon as you find any weapon, report immediately.”

“You might as well let them search me first,” the big, tall, and majestic looking old man said.

Shi Yan let out a wry smile and said, “If you want to kill, would you need any saber or sword?”

The old man said, “In that case, I want to accompany your Shishu to go after the killers.”

“Please,” Shi Yan said.

The old man cupped his fist, bent his waist, and then shot out like an arrow.

Instantly some people in the crowd of heroes voiced their dissatisfaction, “We are not allowed to leave, why is he allowed to leave?”

“Because his status is different than any other people.”

“Who is he?”

“He is …” A loud commotion drowned his man’s voice, two Taoist priests in purple robes rushed in in big strides, carrying a sword with both hands. Surprisingly, it was Wudang Sect Leader’s own Seven-star Sword.

But the other treasure that he wore, the purple and gold Taoist crown, was like a yellow crane flying away without leaving any trace.

The thirteenth of the fourth month, midnight.

The night was as cool as water.

At this moment, only one person knew where the gold and purple Taoist crown had gone. This person was, naturally, Lu Xiaofeng.

Nobody knew where he bought a giant round, sun-patterned, felt-lined, bamboo rain hat, which he wore on his had, covering more than half of his face.

The gold and purple crown was on his head, also covered by the felt-lined bamboo rain hat.

It was snatched away from Shi Yan’s head using the priceless two fingers of his; he had not failed.

But in that split second when he made his move, the clothes on his whole body was soaked with cold sweats.

He knew the entire operation had succeeded, because as he swept out of the main hall, he heard miserable cry of Tie Jian and the others.

His clothes had already dried out. He had been circling around the dark alleys several times, making sure that he was not being followed, and then from the corner gate of the rear courtyard he slipped into the House of Blues.

The rear courtyard was awfully quiet, he neither heard anybody nor saw any lantern light.

“Those people are not back yet?”

He was just thinking of finding anybody to ask when suddenly from the hexagonal pavilion at the edge of the flower garden he heard a hiss, “Here.”

It was Liu Qingqing’s voice.

When she saw Lu Xiaofeng, her expression looked very strange, as if she was very surprised, but was very happy as well, “You succeeded too?”

Lu Xiaofeng nodded. “The others?” he asked.

“More or less,” Liu Qingqing replied, “We are all here, just waiting for Old Sabre Honcho.”

She bit her lip and looked at Lu Xiaofeng with the corner of her eye, “I just didn’t think that we would be really successful this time,” she said.

“Why not?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because I was always a little suspicious of you,” Liu Qingqing said, “Especially with what happened to Canine Master, and that waiter who took the dog for a walk for you, and then that man who dug worms at the Ye family house.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “That just proves one thing: you are ten times more paranoid than other people.”

Liu Qingqing also laughed. She was just going to pull his hand when suddenly a shaft of light shot out from within the cluster of flowers. Xiao Cui was standing behind the lantern, staring at them, “Alright, alright, everybody is downstairs waiting, but the two of you are holding hands and whispering sweet nothing to each other in here.”

It was only then did Lu Xiaofeng find out that their secret gathering room was right underneath a clump of Chinese rose flowers.

Every detail of this scheme has been carefully set up, but up to the last minute, other than Old Sabre Honcho, no one else had a full understanding of what was going on.

Even now, no one has ever seen his true identity. “But he will definitely come very soon.”

It was a spacious room, and the ventilation was very good, although everybody was still panting for breath from the excitement. The people who took part in this operation have all arrived; surprisingly, it went without any glitch, no one was injured or suffered any damage.

It was just a split second of intense moment and thrill, which subsided very quickly, but everybody still appeared very excited, but almost nobody talked.

Some people had bloodstain on the front of their robes, presumably when they made their move, they used too much strength that their victim’s blood splashed on their body, so much so that some even had their faces splattered with blood.

They ought to be happy, because what they did tonight would surely change the Wulin world’s history and destiny.

“Why aren’t there any wine here? Our mission was accomplished, why can’t we drink a cup or two to celebrate?”

“Because Old Sabre Honcho has not come back.”

“Why hasn’t he come back?”

“Because he still had a lot to do,” a voice from the outside replied, “He still had to block the pursuing troops from you, and checked the outcome of the battle.”

Old Sabre Honcho finally appeared. Undoubtedly it was a very glorious outcome, because his voice sounded a bit hoarse from excitement.

And then he formally declared, “The strike hit its target, the chief offenders have been completely punished, Operation Thunder is a complete success!”

Careful and thorough plans, speedy and accurate execution, as long as anybody is able to accomplish these two factors, no matter what operation, success is guaranteed.

But Old Sabre Honcho seemed to have forgotten something, he did not ask Lu Xiaofeng at all, whether he was successful or not; how did he know that the operation was a complete success?

Unless by the time the lamps were lit he was still in the main hall, and saw that the purple and gold crown was no longer on Shi Yan’s head.

Lu Xiaofeng could not resist asking, “Aren’t you forgetting to ask something from me?”

He suddenly took off the felt-lined bamboo rain hat, the purple and gold crown immediately sent out a glorious and beautiful sparkle under the lantern light.

But Old Sabre Honcho only took one look and said, “I am in no hurry.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed and said, “Of course you are in no hurry, because what you really wanted was not this purple and gold crown, but that Seven-star Sword.”

He did not really want to say those words, but all of a sudden he had the unstoppable urge to say it anyway, “When I snatched the purple and gold crown away, Shi Yan must’ve reached up to hold it down, hence you have the opportunity to seize the sword on his waist.”

Old Sabre Honcho was staring at him with cold eyes, waiting for him to continue.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “All along that secret has been hidden in the sword hilt, but Shi Yan has never used it to blackmail anybody. Yet you are still worried, because the biggest secret of all belongs to you. That’s why you have to personally seize the sword, so that this secret will not fall into the second person’s hands.”

Surprisingly, Old Sabre Honcho did not deny at all, “But his hand has always been holding the sword hilt, that’s why I could use you. Later on he will definitely think that the mastermind of this operation is precisely you.”

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Old Sabre Honcho replied, “Because when you strike, you must have used a lot of power, the purple and gold crown must have been pinched by your two fingers and thus leave two finger marks. The person who is able to snatch away the Taoist crown from his head, other than Lu Xiaofeng, I am afraid there is no second person. It will be the best evidence against you.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed; he said, “Turns out not only you wanted me to distract his attention, you also want me to be the scapegoat.”

“This is called ‘killing two birds with one stone’ scheme,” Old Sabre Honcho said.

It was the most crucial key of the entire operation, Lu Xiaofeng did not fully understand it. Until now. He could only laughed bitterly and said, “But I still don’t understand, since you managed to seize his sword away, why didn’t you kill him as well?”

“Because he doesn’t have long to live anyway,” Old Sabre Honcho said.

Lu Xiaofeng was shocked. “Why?” he asked.

“Because he had an incurable disease,” Old Sabre Honcho replied, “He has at most only two to three months to live.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed and said, “No wonder he was eager to shift the announcement on who will be his successor to an earlier date.”

Old Sabre Honcho coldly said, “Too bad that the capable Wudang disciples who will be able to take the leadership have all died in our hands.”

Lu Xiaofeng fixed his gaze on him, “That’s why now he could only hand over the Sect Leader position to you.”

Old Sabre Honcho’s fists suddenly tightened; he said with a cold laugh, “You are a smart man, you shouldn’t have said those words.”

With a rueful smile Lu Xiaofeng said, “Too bad I can’t help saying it.”

Old Sabre Honcho suddenly raised his voice, “Madame Lou [orig. ‘madame Lou of Jin Clan’ (i.e. her maiden name was Jin], Guan Tianwu, Du Tiexin, Gao Tao, Hai Qikuo, Gu Feiyun.”

As he called out each name, the person immediately stood up and stared at Lu Xiaofeng.

Old Sabre Honcho coldly said, “Do you think these six people will be able to subdue you?”

“Two or three of them will be enough,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

With a cold laugh Old Sabre Honcho said, “You still want them to make their move?”

“I don’t want them to make their move,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Then why haven’t you put out your hands to be tied up?”

“Because I know that they will not make their move,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Get him!” Old Sabre Honcho said sternly.

Although his voice was rather loud, these six people seemed to have suddenly become deaf, nobody even moved.

The pupil of Old Sabre Honcho’s eyes shrank, while Lu Xiaofeng laughed.

He said with a smile, “If they made their move right now, they would only get one person.”

“Who?” Old Sabre Honcho asked.

“You,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Six people really did turn around to face Old Sabre Honcho, and then they said in chorus, “Are you waiting for us to make our move?”

Old Sabre Honcho’s body stiffened, “If it was not for me, your bones would have been rotten by now,” he said, “How dare you betray me?”

Lu Xiaofeng interrupted, “It’s not that they want to betray you, you have only yourself to blame for doing something wrong.”

The underground room suddenly became very quiet. Other than Liu Qingqing and Xiao Cui, everybody else seemed to be unusually calm, it was as if they had already anticipated this shocking change.

Could it be that all these people have betrayed him?

Old Sabre Honcho clenched his fists even more tightly, “What did I do wrong?” he asked.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Your plan was meticulous and ingenious, but it had a fatal flaw.”

Old Sabre Honcho did not believe him.

He really could not believe him, because he had considered this plan over and over repeatedly in his head.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “The most ingenious part of your plan was precisely the people you sent out on this mission were all dead people, and then you changed them into other people who practically do not exist; naturally no one in Jianghu would pay any attention to their actions.”

He chuckled, and then continued, “Too bad that this part is also the biggest vulnerability of your plan.”

Old Sabre Honcho did not understand.

This explanation was really not easy to understand.

Lu Xiaofeng continued, “If you had changed Gao Tao into Shuishang Fei, even if Canine Master really had the ultimate disguising skill in the world, there would still be people who recognize him; at least Shuishang Fei’s friends and close relatives would.”

He patted ‘the’ Housekeeper’s shoulder, “But the way you changed them, practically there is no such person in the world, naturally there won’t be anybody in the world who would recognize them.”

This part was relatively easier to understand.

Naturally Old Sabre Honcho also understood, it was the most basic idea of his plan.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “But you missed a point.”

Old Sabre Honcho could not resist asking, “Which point?”

Lu Xiaofeng pointed to Housekeeper’s face, “Gao Tao could become like this, naturally other people could also become like this.”

Old Sabre Honcho admitted. As long as there was an elaborately made human-skin mask, coupled with a master in disguising art, anybody could become like that.

“After Gao Tao became like this, no one could recognize him,” Lu Xiaofeng continued, “And when other people also became like this, naturally there won’t be anybody who could recognize him either.”

Because basically there was no such person existed, therefore, no one would pay any attention to him. Old Sabre Honcho was no exception.

Suddenly Old Sabre Honcho’s hands trembled. “Are you saying that this is not Gao Tao?” he asked.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “Finally you understand what I am talking about,” he said.

This ‘Housekeeper’ also laughed, and then he tore off the human-skin mask from his face. Unexpectedly ‘he’ was a woman who did not look too old.

Naturally this person was not Gao Tao.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed and said, “This Miss is the good sister of First Lady Gongsun of the past, she also happens to be my good friend. All along I had a hard time finding any housekeeper who is neither man nor a woman like Gao Tao, hence I had to turn to her for help.”

Old Sabre Honcho was stumped for words.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “You can disguise Gao Tao to look like this, naturally I can also ask others to disguise her to look like this.”

Old Sabre Honcho gnashed his teeth, “Did Canine Master betray me?” he asked.

Lu Xiaofeng nodded. He said, “Because he is also a human, and not a dog at all. Even a dog, when you push it against the wall, it will jump over; let alone a human?”

“He is not dead?” Old Sabre Honcho asked.

“If he were,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “How could we disguise this Miss to look exactly like Housekeeper’s disguise so that even you could not tell it apart?”

“And the mask is also Gao Tao’s?” Old Sabre Honcho asked.

“It was peeled off his face,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“What about Gao Tao?” Old Sabre Honcho asked.

“The things he managed have already been too much,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “He ought to take a rest long ago.” [Translator’s note: in Chinese, ‘housekeeper’ is ‘manager of the house’, hence it was a play on words.]

Liu Qingqing suddenly said, “It’s that night, at Ye Lingfeng’s mansion; you played your trick!”

Now that she thought about it, when the lamps went out that night, why didn’t she find a single one of them? Lu Xiaofeng took advantage of the darkness to subdue Gao Tao, Gu Feiyun, and Hai Qikuo, and then had three other persons to assume their disguise, so much so that they were using the very same human-skin mask, and were disguised by the same hands that disguised them in the first place.

“That day Canine Master was also there?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“He had been waiting there,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

He smiled and said, “When we go down the mountain, the very next day I have already asked people to find the same dog, and then when the dog was taken out for a walk, the two dogs were swapped.”

Dogs’ appearances are more or like the same, other than the people who are very close to it, certainly no one can tell the difference.

Liu Qingqing sighed, “I have already felt that the waiter who took the dog out for a walk for you was a bit suspicious.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed and said, “Your paranoia has always been heavier than other people’s.”

“And that man who dig earthworms?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“He was the waiter who took the dog out for me,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Who is he, actually?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“Sikong Zhaixing!” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Of course it was Sikong Zhaixing. This world famous lone thief; not only his qinggong had reached the peak, his resourcefulness surpassed others, he was also an expert in disguising skill.

“Are all the people here not the same persons they originally were?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“Only two persons are still the same,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Which two?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“One is me, the other you,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Why didn’t you deal with me that day?” Liu Qingqing asked.

“Because you are too close to Old Sabre Honcho,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “We were afraid he might see the flaw …”

Liu Qingqing bit her lip. Suddenly she sent a punch toward his nose.

Lu Xiaofeng did not duck, she did not continue punching either. Because just as quick she pulled her fist back. But her eyes were still glowering at Lu Xiaofeng.

“I just want you to understand one thing,” she shouted.

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Liu Qingqing said, “The only person who is closest to me right now is you!”

Lu Xiaofeng felt a bit of bitterness, and a bit of ache, in his heart.

But if anyone wanted to do something for the good of a lot of people, he must be ready to make a little sacrifice.

He struggled hard to pretend that he did not see the tears in her eyes, he fought himself hard not to think about this thing.

Even if he wanted to show remorse and shed some tears, he had to wait until tomorrow, because right now he still had a lot of things to do.

Because he was Lu Xiaofeng.

Someone trimmed the wick of the lamp, the underground room grew brighter.

Old Sabre Honcho calmed down instead; he asked, “Since you already seized control of the situation, why did you proceed according to my plan?”

“Because we still don’t know who Old Sabre Honcho really is,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Therefore, we need to lure you into the net.”

It was the critical phase of his plan, because even now, he still has not seen Old Sabre Honcho’s true identity.

In fact, no one has.

Old Sabre Honcho let out a cold laugh and said, “Now finally you will soon see who I am. Too bad Tie Jian and the others will never know.”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly chuckled again and said, “You really think they are all dead? Look again, who are they?”

The entrance to the underground room suddenly opened, a group of people slowly came in one by one. They were precisely the people who were lying in pools of blood a moment ago; Tie Jian, Wang Shidai, Gao Xingkong, Shuishang Fei, Xiao Gu of Mount Ba, Yingyan Laoqi, and the five top experts of Wudang School.

Surprisingly the big, tall, majestic looking old man was also among them.

Shi Yan was the last.

As he walked down, the door to the underground room was still open.

Lu Xiaofeng was just speaking, “With disguising experts like Wang Laoqianbei [old senior], Sikong Zhaixing and Canine Master, pretending to be dead is not a very difficult thing to do; besides …”

He had not finished speaking, Old Sabre Honcho suddenly leaped up, and then like an arrow he flew out. A sword appeared in his palm, a sword that was out of its sheath.

His body and his sword seemed to blend into a single entity, as with lightning-fast speed he attacked Shi Yan.

Shi Yan also had a sword.

The secret inside the hilt has been removed, but the Seven-star Sword had returned to his hand.

He wanted to draw the sword, but suddenly he felt a stab of pain below his ribs; the new wound and the old ailment flared-up simultaneously.

Old Sabre Honcho’s sword had reached his throat, the person himself had also arrived behind Shi Yan’s back; and then with one hand he twisted Shi Yan’s arm and said, “Anybody dares to move, I’ll kill him immediately!”

No one dared to move.

Although he had an incurable disease, no one could see this Sect Leader of Wudang, this honest, considerate and upright senior, die under the sword.

Therefore, everybody could only watch Old Sabre Honcho stepped backwards.

With a cold laugh Old Sabre Honcho said, “Although my plan is not successful, your plan seems to fail at the final moment as well.”

With a bitter laugh Lu Xiaofeng said, “If we agree to let you go, will you let us see your true identity?”

“I won’t,” Old Sabre Honcho replied.

He laughed aloud, and then said, “No one can ever see my true identity, not ever.”

His laughter stopped abruptly.

His body suddenly lunged forward, and then rolled down along seven, eight stone steps, until he finally stopped face down on the ground, with blood gushing out of his back like a fountain.

His bamboo rain hat also rolled away.

A man slowly descended the stone steps; there was a sword in his hand, the tip of the sword was still dripping blood.

Lu Xiaofeng’s countenance suddenly changed.

If it were not for the fact that he was still wearing a mask, everybody would have been greatly shocked.

Because his countenance has become too terrifying.

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