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Phantoms’ Mountain Manor Chapter 17

CSI

Chapter 17 – Ambushed by the captives

The strong horses let out long neigh and dashed forward.

The three people had sat down, while looking coldly at Lu Xiaofeng. One was Gao Tao, one was Hai Qikuo.

But the third person was not Cousin, it was Du Tiexin.

Lu Xiaofeng was sure he only put Cousin, one person, in the storage hold under the carriage, but now that one particular person was missing instead.

Where did he go?

Where did these three come from? Who was driving the carriage in the front? Was it the driver who was supposed to go to buy some wine?

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly laughed. He wanted to talk, but was unable to.

They sealed his acupoints really hard, the muscles on his face were stiff and numb; not only he was unable to speak, he could not even laugh.

Clearly they did not want to listen to him talking at all, they did not want to see him laugh either. But by the time they wanted him to talk, he simply could not close his mouth.

Du Tiexin stretched out his fingers and then clenched his hands into fists again, his knuckles made cracking noise like a string of firecrackers.

Gao Tao looked at his hands; suddenly he asked, “How many years altogether you were the Hall Master of the Torture Chamber?”

“Nineteen years,” Du Tiexin replied.

“Under your hands, was there anybody who dared not to speak the truth?” Gao Tao asked.

“No,” Du Tiexin replied.

“I hear that you had many opportunities to become the Zongpiao Bazi [chief, big boss],” Gao Tao continued, “Why didn’t you take it?”

“Because Torture Chamber was more interesting,” Du Tiexin replied.

“You like to watch people being tortured?” Gao Tao asked.

“That’s right,” Du Tiexin replied.

Gao Tao laughted, Hai Qikuo also laughed. These two people’s laughter sounded like rusty metal grating against each other, making those who heard it felt the root of their teeth ached.

Hai Qikuo said with a laugh, “I really want to see your technique of the past.”

“You will see it soon,” Gao Tao said.

“Is the Torture Chamber ready?”

Gao Tao nodded.

Hai Qikuo said, “I heard that in the past, the traitors of the Thirty-Six Strongholds would rather go into a deep fryer than going into his Torture Chamber.”

“Absolutely correct,” Gao Tao said.

“Is it true that you have a special method to deal with traitors?” Hai Qikuo asked.

Gao Tao laughed mysteriously, “Not only special, it’s also very fascinating.”

Lu Xiaofeng closed his eyes; he really wished he could close his ears as well, because what he heard was really unpleasant to the ears, but he knew that it was the truth.

Gao Tao suddenly spoke in a sing-song voice, “Entering the Torture Chamber, grieving and heart-broken. Entering the Torture Chamber, crying for dad, crying for mom.” [Translator’s note: the original Chinese rhymes, ‘torture chamber’ – xingtang, ‘heart-broken’ – duanchang, ‘mom’ – niang.]

Hai Qikuo winked; he deliberately asked, “What about exiting the Torture Chamber?”

Gao Tao said, “Exiting the Torture Chamber, see the King of Hell [yan wang].”

“Entering the Torture Chamber is the same as seeing the King of Hell,” Du Tiexin coldly said.

“There is the King of Hell in the Torture Chamber?” Gao Tao asked.

“I am the King of Hell,” Du Tiexin said.

Suddenly outside the carriage window became dark, even starlight and moonlight were not visible. The rumbling of the carriage’s wheels became deafening. The carriage appeared to be driven into a deep cave. It continued traveling in the cave for a short while before coming to a halt.

Gao Tao heaved a deep sigh and said, “We are here.”

“Is this the Black-Heart Old Du’s Torture Chamber?” Hai Qikuo asked.

Gao Tao cackled hysterically, “This is precisely the Old Yanwang’s Yama’s Palace.”

They lifted Lu Xiaofeng off the carriage and dragged him off like carrying a torn sack; recklessly and without any care. First they banged him against the carriage door, and then they banged him against the mountain wall; they banged him really hard that Lu Xiaofeng’s head was dizzy, he even felt that his bones were falling apart.

Gao Tao deliberately sighed and said, “What you have in your hand is a living person, not a torn sack; why don’t you be a bit more careful?”

“I can’t see,” Hai Qikuo replied.

He was not lying; the cave was indeed very dark, they literally could not see the fingers of their own hands.

After walking for a short moment, the path was getting narrower and narrower, the chance of getting banged onto the wall was getting higher and higher.

Right now Lu Xiaofeng himself even felt that he had really turned into a torn sack.

Fortunately, right that moment the mountain wall in front of them made a loud creaking noise and suddenly flipped up, revealing a cave inside. Unexpectedly there was light inside.

Not only it had light, it also had table and chairs. On the table there was a white candle, like the one usually found in funeral hall. The candle was already burnt more than half.

The flame of the candle flickered due to the breeze blowing from a crack on the cave wall, as if it was designed to provide ventilation of this cave.

Hai Qikuo casually tossed Lu Xiaofeng in front of the table. “This is a very good place,” he said with a sigh.

Gao Tao said, “Even if there are ten thousand people looking around for three years and six months, they won’t find him in here.”

With his hook Hai Qikuo tapped Lu Xiaofeng’s head. “If they can’t find him, who’d save him?” he said.

Gao Tao laughed and said, “Even if he’s really crying for dad, crying for mom, no one would come to rescue him.”

“In that case, won’t he be dead for sure?” Hai Qikuo asked.

“He won’t die so fast,” Du Tiexin said.

“Why?” Hai Qikuo asked.

Du Tiexin coldly replied, “Because I am going to let him die slowly; very, very slowly!”

“So if he wanted to die a bit faster he can’t?” Hai Qikuo asked.

“Definitely not,” Du Tiexin replied.

Hai Qikuo laughed. Noticing that Gao Tao was looking down, as if he was studying Lu Xiaofeng’s body, he immediately asked, “If you are to do it yourself, which part would you cut first?”

Gao Tao patted Lu Xiaofeng’s hand; he said, “Naturally from these two precious fingers.”

“If it were me,” Hai Qikuo said, “I would start with his two strips of eyebrows.”

“Which two?” Gao Tao asked.

“Naturally the ones above his lips,” Hai Qikuo replied.

The more they talked, the more they sounded very pleased with themselves, just like butchers discussing a lamb they were about to slaughter.

Lu Xiaofeng has always been an open-minded person, and he had always been very calm under any circumstances, but right now the feeling in his heart was like his entire body was already inside a deep fryer.

It appeared that he was really without the least bit of hope; if he could die a bit faster, it would be good luck indeed.

Who would have thought that at this moment, a cold laugh was heard in the darkness outside.

“Who’s there?”

Gao Tao, Hai Qikuo, and Du Tiexin, all three of them quickly rushed out.

These three were first-class martial art experts of Wulin world; not only their reaction quick, their movement fast, they were all veterans of a hundred battles. The number of people who could block their joint attack was indeed not many.

It appeared that the person coming outside sounded was alone. This person practically came to deliver his life.

As soon as they rushed out, they spread out in a fan formation; no matter who this person was, they would never let him walk out of this place alive.

Hai Qikuo was dauntless and violent, the iron hook on his hand was an extremely potent weapon; with ‘five nails splitting the mountain’ power, he was the first to charge forward.

With one palm protecting his chest, Du Tiexin brandished his right fist, following closely behind him.

There was another cold laugh, suddenly there was a sword flash in the darkness, just like the wrath of a thunder, with the power of lightning. But it was even faster, even more terrifying than lightning.

There was a clear ringing sound, ‘Ding!’ the hook struck the rock wall, sparks flew everywhere. The hook seemed to carry a severed arm.

Du Tiexin fell backward with his face up, a splash of blood pouring out of his throat like a bubbling spring.

Without even letting out miserable cry these two had breathed their last.

What a fast sword!

The blade of the sword was still flickering in the dark; under the flash of the sword, there seemed to be a shadowy figure.

As soon as Gao Tao saw this person, he withdrew step by step backwards.

His face was completely twisted, just like he saw a malicious spirit suddenly appeared. After a few steps, he dropped down, with tears, nasal mucus, saliva, urine and feces flowed out of his orifices; his entire body crumpled like mud. Unexpectedly he died of extreme fear.

Who could scare him that bad?

Who had such a fast sword?

Was it Ximen Chuixue?

A man slowly came out of the darkness, wearing grey robe and a deep-basket like bamboo rain hat.

It was not Ximen Chuixue, it was Old Sabre Honcho!

Lu Xiaofeng had just come out of a deep fryer, but then he fell into an icehouse; his whole body felt icy-cold.

He wanted to grab this man’s fatal point; this man naturally also wanted to take his life!

Even if he would rather enter a deep fryer than the Torture Chamber, but right now he would rather enter the Torture Chamber than fall into Old Sabre Honcho’s hands.

To his surprise, Old Sabre Honcho’s voice was very gentle, as he asked, “Were they being rude to you?”

Lu Xiaofeng let out a rueful smile.

Because he was banged around so much a moment ago, finally the blood in his vessels was able to flow relatively smoothly, so that right now he was able to speak.

But at this very moment, what could he say?

Old Sabre Honcho said, “No matter what, I can’t let you suffer under their hands; they are not worthy.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not resist saying, “I know now, that all along you have been planning on killing them after the operation succeeded.”

Old Sabre Honcho did not deny at all, “Wipe them all out, not a single one is allowed to remain,” he said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Perhaps the basement of the House of Blues was meant to be their burial ground.”

“Lingfeng Mansion is the same thing,” Old Sabre Honcho said.

— Damp and dark basement, the cry of people trying to run for their lives, badly mangled corpses.

Lu Xiaofeng tried hard not to throw up; he said, “They were going to die anyway; even if they did not kill Tie Jian and the others, your plan has not failed.”

Old Sabre Honcho chuckled and said, “I have already told you, I won’t fail.”

Lu Xiaofeng could only concede; it looked like the final victory currently belonged to him indeed.

Old Sabre Honcho said, “It’s just like when you are besieging a city; even if you have broken nine layers of wall, even if the blood outside is flowing like a river, I am still lying down in peace and quiet inside the city wall.” He smiled and said, “Because my planning is more thorough than yours. You were able to break nine layers of wall, I have already established the tenth layer. By the time you reached this last layer, your spirit already weary, your strength exhausted; in the end you still fall down outside the city.”

“You believe I have no way of exposing your true identity?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Right now there is no one in the world who can vouch for you,” Old Sabre Honcho replied, “Tell me, who’d believe you?”

“There is one,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Who?” Old Sabre Honcho asked.

“You,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Old Sabre Honcho laughed heartily.

“Only you know that I am telling the truth,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Therefore, you must kill me to close my mouth.”

“What about you?” Old Sabre Honcho said, “Are you absolutely sure that what you think is correct?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “I …”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “I know that you are not absolutely sure either. Unless you can take off my bamboo rain hat and see my face with your own eyes.”

Lu Xiaofeng was unable to deny.

“There is one more thing that you are wrong,” Old Sabre Honcho said.

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I don’t have any thought to kill you at all,” Old Sabre Honcho said.

“You don’t?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Old Sabre Honcho chuckled again and said, “Why would I want to kill you? What’s the difference between you and a dead person anyway?”

He smiled and turned around. As he confidently walked out, he said, “If one is unworthy to be killed by me, I would never do it.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not help asking in loud voice, “Now can you show me who you really are?”

Without even looking back, Old Sabre Honcho said, “No.”

Candlelight flickered, it was about to go off.

Old Sabre Honcho has left. There was a huge boulder at the entrance of the cave, and it was closed tight. Even if could go freely, he would never leave this place alive.

Right now this place was like a sealed jar, even a fly could not go out.

— Why would I want to kill you? What’s the difference between you and a dead person anyway?

There was none. This sealed jar would be his grave.

Sooner or later everybody would have to enter the grave, it’s just that he would prefer to die early than sitting inside the grave, waiting for death.

The sad thing was that even if he wanted to die now, he simply could not die.

The candle was burned completely; wasn’t his life just like this candle?

He had never realized that he was not an invicible, an omnipotent superhuman. Until now.

He was always able to get out of previous crises; perhaps that was no more than a bit of luck?

And now that he met Old Sabre Honcho, such a fearsome opponent, his luck had run out.

— I know that you are not absolutely sure either. Unless you can see my face with your own eyes.

And now he would never see that face, he could only take this question to the underworld.

— Would he go to the underworld?

— Even he himself was not sure. But if he did not go to the underworld, where would he go?

The candle has died, but he was still alive.

In the world, only one thing is worse than sitting in the grave waiting for death; it’s waiting for death in the dark.

He recalled a lot of things. A lot of people came into his mind. So much so that he even remembered that pair of bright eyes in the carriage window.

This moment, why did he still think about her?

Could it be that this woman with a pair of bright eyes, who crossed path with him on the street, had some kind of strange and mysterious relationship with him?

The room suddenly became very stuffy; he already started to sweat. Beads of perspiration crawled down his face, just like ants.

Suddenly he discovered that he could move his hands.

— You have a pair of hands, which is unequalled under the heavens; your two fingers are your priceless treasure.

Everybody said the same thing, but right now the only thing these two fingers could do was to pinch his legs as hard as he could, to keep him awake, to remind him that he was not special at all.

It’s just that on the contrary, being awake was more painful.

“It would be better if I could sleep some more.”

If by the time he wake up he found himself alreay in the underworld, wouldn’t that be delightful?

He could not sleep.

Along with darkness and stuffiness, came tiredness and hunger and thirst. The thirst was the hardest to endure.

How long would he have to suffer for his sins?

Until he die!

But when would he die?

He suddenly sang loudly; the very same nursery rhyme he had always sung:

“Little girl carrying a clay doll,
Came to the garden to admire the flowers…”

Golden childhood, sweet memories; even the pain of the past has not become very sweet.

Life is so beautiful, why is it that people always wait until they are dying to know and treasure it?

Suddenly there was a rumbling noise as the huge mountain wall opened.

Fire light shone through, followed by a large group of people swarming in. Included among these were Tie Jian, Wang Shidai, and Hua Manlou. At the very front was a white-haired old Taoist. To Lu Xiaofeng’s shock, it was none other than Wooden Taoist!

At the death door he was suddenly rescued, it ought to be the happiest moment of his life. But Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt a wave of anger bubbling up in his chest; to everybody’s surprise he fainted from anger.

The fifteenth of the fourth month, afternoon.

Late afternoon, almost dusk. The Cloud Room was cool and quiet. Outside the rustling of bamboo sounded like rippling waves. The room was in the Tingzhu Courtyard, where Wudang Sect Leader received distinguished guests.

This time the distinguished guest was Lu Xiaofeng.

He lay on the bed, unmoving, with eyes fixed on the ceiling; he really appeared to be no different to a dead person.

“If it were not for Mu Zhenren[1] remembered a cave like that at the back of the mountain, you’d be really dead this time.”

The speaker was Tie Jian, “That was the place Wudang disciples used to use to face the wall and ponder about his misdeeds. But now their rules are not as strict as in the olden days, so that place has been abandoned for quite a long time. This time you are really lucky.”

— Lucky? To he!! with luck!

“But you must not thank only your lucky star, because the one who took us to that place to look for you was precisely Mu Zhenren.”

This senior monk from Shaolin did not speak openly, but the implied meaning was clear. Obviously he no longer suspected that Wooden Taoist was Old Sabre Honcho; “Otherwise, why would he take us there to look for you?”

Other people’s thought was, naturally, the same. This logic was as simple as ‘one plus one equals two’.

Therefore, Wooden Taoist [Mu Daoren, see footnote] has now become Mu Zhenren.

But Lu Xiaofeng understood the real story behind it.

If Wooden Taoist killed him to shut his mouth, even if nobody could prove it, inevitably they would have a bit a suspicion in their hearts.

But now that he saved Lu Xiaofeng, not only it proved that he was not Old Sabre Honcho, he also won everybody’s gratitude and respect.

Lu Xiaofeng could only have to admit that it was the most crafty and well-planned scheme he had ever seen in his entire life. Wooden Taoist was indeed the most fearsome opponent he had ever faced.

No doubt it was also the biggest setback Lu Xiaofeng had ever experience in his whole life. Right now he had no choice but to admit defeat.

Although in his heart he understood the truth of the matter very well, he could never tell anybody about it. Because even if he did, nobody would believe him.

Therefore, he only had one question to ask, “How did you know I was in danger?”

“In this case, we only knew that you would never disappear without any rhyme or reason; plus we also found the carriage under a dangerous slope at the back of Mount Wudang. In that carriage we found your outer clothes, with the front part torn; and then there were some traces of a fight on the dirt.”

These several points were sufficient to draw a conclusion that he was in danger; therefore, he did not say a word.

Evening slowly came, suddenly there was clear and joyful ringing of the bells outside.

“Today is the grand ceremony of Mu Zhenren formally takes office; no matter what, you ought to go to congratulate him.”

Looking at a man who should be punished, but obtaining honor and authority instead, naturally this sort of thing would not make him feel good.

But still he could not absent.

He did not want to shirk this responsibility.

He wanted Wooden Taoist to understand although his defeat this time was bitter, he had not knocked Lu Xiaofeng down.

Even if he did not have any choice but to admit defeat, he wanted to admit defeat standing up, face to face with his opponent.

The wind blew the bamboo leaves outside, darkness suddenly blanketed mother earth. But in the main hall the lanterns were ablaze.

Under the bright light, the wearing purple and gold Taoist crown, wearing the Seven-Star Sword on his waist, Mu Zhenren looked even more dignified and grand.

The Wooden Taoist of the past, who wandered along windblown dust, who was carefree and uninhibited, basically no longer existed.

Standing here at the moment, was the fourteenth generation Wudang Sect Leader, Mu Zhenren; not someone who could be easily mocked.

Lu Xiaofeng reminded himself that he must not forget this fact.

When his turn came, he tidied up his clothes, went up in big strides, cupped his fist and bowed, “Congratulation Daozhang[2] on reaching the top to this grand position, Lu Xiaofeng came especially to offer his congratulations.”

Mu Zhenren smiled and reached out to hold Lu Xiaofeng’s arms, “Lu Daxia [great hero] must not be overly courteous,” he said.

Lu Xiaofeng also smiled and said, “Daozhang has been through difficult times, finally you have your wish fulfilled. But Lu Xiaofeng is still Lu Xiaofeng, not Lu Daxia.”

Although his manner was respectful, the tone of his voice was courteous, his words carried sarcasm as sharp as a needle.

Especially the four words ‘have your wish fulfilled’.

He could not resist letting Mu Zhenren know that although he had lost, he was not a fool.

Mu Zhenren said, “Since Lu Xiaofeng is still Lu Xiaofeng, the old Taoist priest is also still an old Taoist priest; hence we are still friends, aren’t we?”

Although he was laughing, his eyes also shot a needle-sharp gaze.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt an irresistible force coming from his hands pushing him upwards.

In that instant, the honorable, dignified Wudang Sect Leader ceased to exist; in his place was the dark predator, the haughty, the great strategist, the most ambitious and ruthless character of their generation, the Old Sabre Honcho. It was as if he also wanted Lu Xiaofeng to know, “Even if I let you know who I am, what’s the harm in that? What can you do to me?”

His hands were holding on to Lu Xiaofeng’s upper arms, between his shoulder and elbow; the upward push suddenly became downward pull. This crushing force would likely result in one of two things – either the bones on both arms were crushed, or he would be forced to kneel down.

Lu Xiaofeng would rather have a hundred bones on his body broken than kneeling down in front of this man.

Fortunately his bones were not broken, because he had already concentrated his ‘true strength’ on his arms.

Using force to counter force, the weaker force will lose; there was absolutely no leeway to back off quickly.

In martial art, there are many type of techniques used to gain control over the opponent; some use ‘chi’ to score victory, some use ‘strength’, some use ‘style’, some use ‘opportunity’. The flexibility and variability of Lu Xiaofeng’s martial art skill was really deep and unfathomable; originally he belonged to the last category.

But right now his internal strength has been released; it’s just like an arrow on the strung bow, or riding on a tiger’s back; it would be too late even if he wanted to withdraw.

Because the opponent’s power was indeed too strong; if he withdrew his internal strength, it would be hard to avoid having his body torn and his bones crushed.

‘Crack!’ the slab of stone on which he stood was crushed, sweats as big as beans started to appear on his face.

The faces of the people standing nearby changed, but they could only watch without being able to do anything.

These two people’s strength was opposing each other with equal harshness; if a third party came betweeen them, as long as there was the sligtest bit of deviation, there was great possibility that at least one of them would be harmed; there was also great possibility that their power flowing in reverse would cause a lot of damage to themselves.

Who would dare to take such a risk?

Actually, Lu Xiaofeng did not need to take such a risk; in the split second where Mu Zhenren was reversing direction, he had already sensed it. It was his best opportunity to withdraw easily.

But he has withdrawn once, he was unwilling to withdraw again.

At the moment he felt his breathing was getting heavier, his heart was beating faster, so much so that his eyeballs were starting to bulge out.

The only reason he carry on was that he could also see that Wooden Taoist was having a hard time as well.

In this battle, regardless of who would win, the victory would be achieved at a very high price.

Actually, Wooden Taoist did not have to take this risk either; perhaps he did not expect Lu Xiaofeng would have such an unyielding spirit, that he would rather have his bones broken than surrender. Perhaps right now he started to regret too.

Just then, there was a young Taoist from the outside rushing into the main hall, looking very anxious. If not for an extremely grave matter, he would never dare to intrude to the main hall like this.

Mu Zhenren suddenly laughed and took two steps backward. The thousand-jin load on Lu Xiaofeng’s arms suddenly disappeared without a trace; this has caused his body felt like he almost flew up.

He really did not expect that in such situation, his opponent was able to withdraw his internal energy easily like that. It appeared that in this battle he has lost.

He had not completely regulated his breathing, Mu Zhenren was already able to speak. He was asking the young disciple, “What’s the matter?”

“Ximen Chuixue is here!”

“Respected guest honors us with his presence, why haven’t you invited him up?”

“He insists on carry his sword up the mountain.” The young Taoist priest’s hands were still shaking, “Disciples were not able to make him shed his sword. Martial (older) brothers who were trying to have him leave his sword at the pond rock were all injured under his sword.”

It was indeed a very serious matter; for the last several hundred years, there had never been anybody who dared to make light of Wudang.

“Where is he now?”

“Still at the bank of Shedding-sword Pond, Eighth Martial (younger) Uncle is trying to hold him.”

Mu Zhenren’s hand already gripped the hilt of his sword.

His hand was slim, dry, and steady; his fingers were long and powerful.

— If he was holding a suitable sword, would this hand be more terrifying than Ximen Chuixue’s hand?

He suddenly walked out in large strides.

Watching him going out, Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt an unspeakable dread in his heart.

He was the only one who had seen this man’s sword; if there was someone on earth who would be able to defeat Ximen Chuixue, no doubt this was the man.

The water in the Shedding-sword Pond would be dyed red with blood very soon.

Whose blood?

Lu Xiaofeng did not have any confidence to predict the outcome. He simply could not let Ximen Chuixue die in here. He simply must try to think of a way to stop this battle.

Wooden Taoist had already passed the wide courtyard, he was about to step out of the monastery’s main gate. Lu Xiaofeng immediately ran after him.

Outside the Taoist monastery, the beautiful forest was verdant and lush, the spring grass was deep. In the middle of the bushes, there seemed to be a pair of bright, shiny eyes.

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart jumped; someone in white coarse mourning clothes suddenly leaped out from the bushes, with an unsheathed sword in her hand, the tip of the sword was aimed at the pit of Mu Zhenren’s stomach.

Mu Zhenren’s hand was still on the hilt of his sword; he could have easily drew his sword to defeat the assassin, it would have been very easy for him to have her die under his sword.

But for some reason, he did not pull his sword.

Seeing the woman in white coarse mourning attire, he seemed to be suddenly caught off-guard.

In that split second, the sword in the hand of the woman in white, like a viper, has already entered his heart.

He did not fall down right away, he still looked at the woman in shock, as if he still did not believe it really happened.

The expression on his face was not only surprised, but there were also all kinds of unspeakable grief and pain.

“You … you kill me?”

“You killed my father, naturally I want to kill you!”

“Your father?”

“My father died under your sword, he is the Old Sabre Honcho.”

Mu Zhenren’s face suddenly twisted; this sentence was like a needle piercing his heart, it was even sharper than the deadly sword stab.

Some kind of unspeakable dread suddenly appeared on his face.

It was not the fear of dying.

He was afraid, because all the inconceivable things in the world, all the inexplicable matters, right this moment suddenly everything had the answer; all the things that he would never believe, in this instant he simply could not refuse to believe.

He suddenly sighed, and then mumbled to himself, “Very good, very good …”

Those were the last four words he had ever spoken.

And then he fell.

Lu Xiaofeng watched as the sword pierced his heart, he also saw him as he fell; he only felt that his entire body turned icy-cold. Some kind of unspeakable dread also appeared on his face.

Heaven’s net has wide meshes, but nothing escapes it [idiom from Laozi].

Unexpectedly there seemed to be a mysterious power really working in the dark, controlling the destiny of mankind. There won’t be any person, who ought to be punished, able to escape ‘its’ justice.

Although this kind of force is invisible, and it cannot be touched, anybody could always feel its presence at any time.

Wooden Taoist’s dread was precisely because he had already felt its presence.

Right now Lu Xiaofeng also felt its presence, he was feeling full of awe, and nearly could not stop himself from kneeling down, kneeling in the dark, under the vault of heaven.

Everybody else also seemed to be in shock; it was only after a long time later that the Wudang disciples rushed over to surround the assassin in white.

She immediately shouted, “All of you, backoff, I alone did it, I alone will resolve it.”

In the dim light of the night, her pale face appeared incomparably beautiful and stately; just like the goddess of vengeance, “I am Ye Xue, the daughter of Old Sabre Honcho. If anybody thinks that I should not avenge my father, go ahead and kill me.”

She suddenly ripped apart the front part of her clothes, revealing sparkling and translucent, spotlessly white, pair of breasts.

But nobody came forward to make their move.

Everybody seemed to be overawed by her divine and stately beauty; most of all Lu Xiaofeng.

Only he knew who her real father was, because –

“Wooden Taoist is Old Sabre Honcho.”

But he could not speak; he could not bear to speak, nor was he willing to speak.

— Besides, even if he did, nobody would believe him anyway.

It was the result of Wooden Taoist’s own action, now he reaped the bitter fruit of what he sowed. Although his plan was well thought-out, he did not expect that there was more well thought-out Heaven’s net waiting for him!

“I was supposed to die in the swamp, but I did not die.”

She was a cheetah woman, she was far better than anyone in enduring pain and difficulty; she had learned long ago to wait, hence she was able to wait for the best opportunity to strike!

“I did not die, just because the Heavens wanted me to remain alive for revenge.” Her voice was cool and calm, “And now my wish has been fulfilled. I won’t wait for you to make your move, because …”

It was only now did she finally look at Lu Xiaofeng. There was some kind of emotion in her eyes, something that no one could explain; it was not grief, nor was it pain. But whoever saw this expression on her eyes, their heart would be broken.

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart was already broken.

She raised her head high so that she could give him another look, as if it was her last wish.

Now her wish was fulfilled, she would definitely not wait for anybody else to make their move.

“Because in all my life, there is only one man. Other than he, no one can touch me!

[1] So far Wooden Taoist was called ‘Mu Daoren’, here, he was called ‘Mu Zhenren’; ‘Zhenren’ is a term of respect to address Taoist priest, much like ‘His Holiness’. I feel awkward to translate this into English, for it literally means ‘Wooden Real Man’. As a side note: his martial younger brother, the former Sect Leader of Wudang was ‘Mei Zhenren’, ‘Mei’ means plum.

[2] Daozhang is also a term of respect to address a Taoist priest, but in term of rank/respect it is not as high as Zhenren.

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