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Phantoms’ Mountain Manor Chapter 7


Chapter 7 – Drowning sorrows in wine

The bed was indeed very big. The sheets were white, the bedding brand new. The moment they walked in, Widow Hua immediately lay down on the bed.

Lu Xiaofeng remained standing at the head of the bed.

Widow Hua scrutinized him from head to toe with her misty eyes, then suddenly said: “By now you should know that I’m that scary Widow Hua.” Lu Xiaofeng nodded.

“Naturally you’d have heard that I’m a b.itch, a man-eating one,” she continued.

Lu Xiaofeng nodded again.

“Do you know people here think I can sleep with them anytime?”

Lu Xiaofeng still nodded his head.

Widow Hua’s eyes seemed to mist over. “So why aren’t you jumping into bed?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not even move.

“You don’t dare?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not nod his head, but he did not shake it either.

Widow Hua sighed and said: “Of course you don’t dare, because you don’t even know who I am!”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly smiled. “There are not many who can merge the zhenqi of the Liu Family of Huainan and Diancang Sect’s Flowing Cloud Swordplay, so…”

“So, what?” Widow Hua asked.

“So you must be Liu Qingqing, the Huainan Hero’s woman, and the wife of the Diancang swordsman.”

“Do you know too that I have slept with Xie Jian’s four best friends?”

Lu Xiaofeng admitted that, since it was such a scandal to begin with.

“Since you know everything, why don’t you come to bed?” she asked.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled and said: “Because I don’t want to, and because it’s none of your business.”

Widow Hua laughed. “Looks like you’re quite different from other men.”

She suddenly leapt from the bed. “Come, I’ll treat you to a drink.”

As they started getting tipsy, the mist in her eyes seemed to deepen as well.

Precisely because the valley was always shrouded in mist, that was why it was able to preserve its aura of mystery.

Was it not the same for her as well?

It was probably not too difficult to see her naked body, but it was much harder to guess what was in her heart.

After another cup of wine, she suddenly asked: “Do you know why Hai Qikuo always wants me to sleep with him?”

“Because he thinks you have slept with the other men here.”

Widow Hua smiled. “Every one thinks that way, but… the number of men I’ve slept with, I think not even you can guess.”

“Not even one in this place?”

“Only one,” Widow Hua said.

Lu Xiaofeng started drinking.

Widow Hua’s gaze seemed very faraway, as though there was a faintly discernible figure in the distance; her gaze was filled with love and adoration.

After a long while, she snapped out of her reverie: “Why did you not ask me who this person is?”

“Why should I ask?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Widow Hua smiled. “You are indeed a unique person. I like unique men.”

Her smile suddenly vanished: “Xie Jian was a very unique man as well. I married him because I really liked him at that time.”

“But you changed later on,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“It was not I who changed, it was him,” she said.

A slit appeared through the mist in her eyes, sliced by a sword full of hatred and anguish. “You will never be able to imagine what kind of person he had turned into, much less the terrifying things he had done.”

“Terrifying?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Do you know why I slept with his friend?” Widow Hua asked. Her fists clenched and tears rolled down her cheeks. “Because… because he wanted me to do it, he liked to watch… he even knelt and begged me to, even threatened me with his sword…”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly averted his gaze, downed his cup of wine. He suddenly felt his gut clenching and he almost felt like vomiting.

When he turned around again, Widow Hua had quietly wiped away the tearstains on her face.

She too downed her cup of wine: “You must be wondering why I am telling you these things.”

Lu Xiaofeng did not feel it was strange, not at all.

When one is feeling grief and anguish, and these emotions have been suppressed for too long, one is wont to find someone else to confide in.

Even though Widow Hua had managed to vent her pain, she was getting tipsier: “He’s an old man now, but he is a real man, an extraordinary one. Even if I don’t love him, I respect him. So long as I can make him happy, I am willing to do anything.”

She raised her head and gazed at Lu Xiaofeng: “When you meet him, you will like him too.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not resist asking: “You mean…”

“I am talking about Old Sabre Honcho,” Widow Hua said.

Lu Xiaofeng was shocked. “Old Sabre Honcho?”

Widow Hua nodded and said: “He is the only man for me here. I know you couldn’t have imagined that.” She smiled, a desolate one: “I had thought no one in this world would be able to understand me or sympathize with me, but he understands me and sympathizes with me, and it is genuine.”

“So you gave yourself to him?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I can sacrifice everything for him,” Widow Hua said. “Even if he tells me to die, I will die. But… but…”

She did not continue. Such emotion was not something that could be put into words, and she knew Lu Xiaofeng would understand.

Lu Xiaofeng could understand, all right. Not only that, but he could also understand Old Sabre Honcho the person.

“If I were you, I would have done the same,” he said gently. “I think he must be an extraordinary man.”

Widow Hua let out a long breath, as though she had just set down a very heavy burden. To know that there is still someone in this world who understands your pain and anguish is still a pretty good thing.

She gazed at Lu Xiaofeng, her eyes filled with gratitude and gratification. “Ever since coming here, I’ve not been so happy like I am today. Here, I’ll toast you, three times.”

“We’ll be drunk if we drink more.”

“What’s the worry?” She raised her cup. “If I could get drunk, I’d be really grateful to you.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “To be honest, I’d long wanted to get rip-roaring drunk, just this once.”

So they ended up being drunk on the bed.

They held each other, mumbling words in their drunken stupor that other people would never be able to understand, because in their hearts they were lonely and had too many knots they were unable to untangle.

Although they were holding each other tightly, their hearts were pure like a child’s; there was probably no other time in their lives that they were so pure and honest.

What then was this sort of feeling?

Youth was dying and the past was best left forgotten. A woman who had suffered abuse and humiliation, a man with no roots… who on this earth could understand your feelings?

Both of you have been driven into such circumstances, but since you have met, why should you need other people to understand your feelings?

Outside the window, the night was deep, and so was the fog.

The window was not closed tightly and in the cold fog there suddenly appeared a figure, whose eyes were filled with enmity, jealousy and hatred.

Then, through the crack in the window, there appeared a blowpipe.

A black blowpipe, puffing out dark purple smoke.

The fog dissipated, and even those who were not drunk were now intoxicated, they had no choice.

This person was confident of it, because what he used was the “Bone and Soul Corroding Powder”, the most effective of intoxicating drugs. He had used it thirteen times – it had never failed him.

(Translated by Ren Wo Xing)

When Lu Xiaofeng and Widow Hua woke up, they were no longer lying on the spacious, soft bed.

Cellars are cold and moist. They were lying in the corner of one such cellar. Who knew how they got here?

Only one person knew.

There was one stool in the cellar. Cousin sat on top of this stool. He coldly stared at them, his eyes filled with venom and jealousy.

Upon seeing him, Widow Hua couldn’t refrain from shouting, “You!”

“Are you surprised?”

“I really am.” Widow Hua sneered. “I didn’t imagine that a disciple of the Bashan Swordsman actually stoops to using this sort of anesthetic fragrance.”

“There are many things that are outside of your imagination,” Cousin smiled.

“But by now, I’ve come to understand everything.”

Everyone who came to this place had signed a contract. The Old Sabre Honcho’s contracts were always safe and reliable.

But in recent years, in the Mansion of Spirits, there were many people who suddenly disappeared without a trace. No one knew who it was who had gotten rid of them!

“It’s you.” Widow Hua pronounced her verdict. “Only now do I realize that it’s your doing!”

Cousin didn’t deny it.

“Unfortunately, no one could have imagined that it was me.” He smiled. “This time, after I kill the two of you, no one will suspect me.”

He was very confident. “Because everyone will place their suspicions upon Hook.”

Widow Hua didn’t deny it either.

Virtually everyone in the Mansion of Spirits knew that Hook lusted for her, and also knew that Hook wanted to kill Lu Xiaofeng.

This wouldn’t be the first nor the last time that a man would commit murder due to jealousy.

Widow Hua said, “Actually, I know that you hate me.”

Cousin said, “Oh?”

Widow Hua said, “Because you like men, but men like me.”

Cousin laughed. “Maybe I have other reasons as well.”

Widow Hua said, “What reasons?”

Cousin laughed in a strange way. “Maybe I just want to help Hook give vent to his frustrations.”

But as he laughed, someone above their cellar laughed as well. “Or maybe you’ve just come to realize that old Hook is right above you and could hook your brains out at any time.”

Housekeeper had arrived as well.

Like all housekeepers the world around, whenever this person appeared, a sour, worried look was always on his face. But Hook was laughing very happily.

Cousin was also laughing, but his laughter was very unhappy.

Although Hai Qikuo didn’t hook him in the skull, he had hooked him in the arm. Lifting him up high, it seemed as though he was raising up a piece of dead meat. Naturally, this was a very unhappy sort of feeling.

There is a type of person in this world who rejoices in the misery of others. Hai Qikuo just so happened to be this type of person.

Smiling, he said, “Didn’t you say, just now, that you plan on pushing the blame for this event onto me?”

Cousin didn’t deny it. He couldn’t deny it.

Hai Qikuo said, “Because you wanted to kill them, but you were afraid that the Old Sabre Honcho wouldn’t agree.”

Cousin didn’t deny this either.

Hai Qikuo said, “To be honest, I feel the same way.”

Cousin didn’t understand. “You feel the same way?”

Hai Qikuo said, “I also want to kill Lu Xiaofeng, and I am also afraid that the Old Sabre Honcho wouldn’t agree to it. There’s only one difference between the two of us.”

Cousin couldn’t resist asking, “What difference?”

Hai Qikuo said, “My luck is better than yours. I found someone to be my scapegoat.”

Cousin actually understood everything, but he still played along and asked, “Who?”

Hai Qikuo said, “You.”

Cousin said, “You want me to kill Lu Xiaofeng for you?”

Hai Qikuo said, “Are you unwilling?”

Cousin said, “Why would I be? I wanted to kill them anyhow. Otherwise, why would I go to the trouble of tying them up?”

Hai Qikuo said, “Previously, if you killed them, I would’ve become your scapegoat. But now?”

Cousin forced out a smile. “Now, if I don’t kill them, you will kill me.”

Hai Qikuo laughed loudly. “You really are a discerning person. That’s why I’ve always liked you.”

Cousin said, “If I were to kill them, you would be willing to let me go?”

Hai Qikuo said, “I can let you go right now. No matter what, you won’t be able to escape me.”

He released his hook.

Cousin relaxed slightly. Turning around, he looked at him. A smile crept out onto his face. He suddenly asked, “Tell me, do I look like a very excitable person who isn’t able to keep his cool?”

Hai Qikuo said, “You do not.”

Cousin said, “Do I know that Widow Hua is a very formidable woman, one who is dangerous to anger?”

Hai Qikuo said, “I do.”

Cousin said, “Then why did I use poison to incapacitate her earlier?”

Hai Qikuo said, “Why?”

Cousin’s smile became very strange and sinister. “Because I wanted you to believe that my martial arts are very poor.”

Hai Qikuo no longer was smiling. “And in reality?”

Cousin said, “In reality, I can kill you with just a single stance!”

He said a total of eleven words in that sentence. By the seventh word, he had made his move. By the final word, he had already killed Hai Qikuo.

His attack was fast yet effective. In actuality, no one was able to see how he made his move; the only clue was two heavy, nauseating sounds, which sounded similar to a butcher’s blade cutting into dead flesh. And then, like a piece of dead meat, Hai Qikuo collapsed.

Lu Xiaofeng and Widow Hua were shocked. But Housekeeper was even more shocked.

Cousin dusted his hands off. Smiling, he said, “I’ve always heard that the three hall-leaders of the Phoenix Tail Sect are all extraordinary figures, especially the chief hall-leader, Gao Tao. But unfortunately, to this very day, I’ve never had the good fortune of witnessing the awe-inspiring techniques that you used to awe the martial world.”

Housekeeper, who always looked sour and worried, now looked as though he were about to cry. “What sort of awe-inspiring techniques do I have? The only skill I have is in helping others take care of their domestic issues.”

Cousin said, “You don’t know how to kill?”

Housekeeper immediately shook his head. “No, I do not.”

Cousin let out a long sigh. “Then you might as well hurry up and let me kill you.”

Housekeeper let out a long sigh as well. His body suddenly flipped into the air and in the blink of an eye, forty or fifty different hidden weapons shot out. Filling the sky with their cold gleam, they all shot towards Cousin.

Turns out, this person wore countless hidden weapons on his body, all of which could be shot out instantly.

There were definitely less than ten people who could shoot out that many hidden weapons instantly.

There were even fewer people who would be able to dodge that many hidden weapons.

But unfortunately, Cousin just so happened to be one of those few people who could dodge this weapons. Not only had he long ago calculated that Housekeeper would use this attack, he had also prepared a way for dealing with it.

When the hidden weapons shot out, his sword was already there, waiting.

A sword flash rose up and chopped through all of the hidden weapons. With another flash of the sword, Housekeeper collapsed as well. Only after collapsing did the blood begin to flow from his wound.

Only after the blood began to flow did Lu Xiaofeng let out a held breath. “So this would be Bashan’s Seven-Sevens Forty-Nine Strikes of the Dancing Wind Willow Sword?”

Cousin said, “Just so.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “So you are the one and only true heir of the Bashan Swordsman. You are Gu Feiyun?”

Cousin said, “I am indeed.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. “Bashan’s divine sword arts definitely are incredible.”

Cousin said, “It always is.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “But I don’t understand. How could a person like you also be forced to the point of no return by Ximen Chuixue?”

Cousin said, “And you also don’t understand why I killed them, but not you, right?”

Lu Xiaofeng truly did not.

Cousin chuckled. “The logic behind this is actually extremely simple. It’s because I never wanted to kill you to begin with.”

Lu Xiaofeng didn’t understand.

Cousin said, “The Old Sabre Honcho always believed that our organization was extremely secretive, but in the martial world, at least three people are aware of it. The very first is my venerable teacher.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s countenance changed. “Then you…”

Cousin said, “I was sent by my sect here to be a spy. Because although we knew of the existence of the Mansion of Spirits, we didn’t know any of its secrets.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “So they intentionally put you in a position where Ximen Chuixue would force you on a path with no return?”

Cousin said, “That entire event was nothing more than a scheme. They had calculated long ago that Ximen Chuixue would intervene in this affair, and had also calculated that someone from the Mansion of Spirits would come to me first and offer me a contract.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Why?”

Cousin said, “Because I had just inherited a significant inheritance. At any point in time, I can withdraw over a hundred thousand taels of silver.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “The price of the contract here is a hundred thousand taels?”

Cousin said, “In order to purchase one’s life, a hundred thousand taels isn’t an overly large sum.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “It definitely is not.”

Life was priceless. What was more valuable to a person than his own life?

Cousin said, “When they ordered me to come here, the most important command was to investigate the Old Sabre Honcho’s background.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Even they do not know the details about the Old Sabre Honcho?”

Cousin said, “No one knows.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “What about you?”

Cousin laughed wryly. “Although I’ve been here for quite a while, I’ve never even seen his real face, so I’ve urgently been searching for a person.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Who?”

Cousin said, “The person who will come to my rescue.”

He explained, “They originally had agreed to send someone to bring me out as soon as possible. But all the newcomers find it very difficult to move about freely, and it would also be hard for them to discover that Gu Feiyun is actually ‘Cousin’.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “You were really anxious, so you had no choice but to seek them out instead.”

Cousin said, “I’ve already sought out twelve people.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “But you were wrong about all of them.”

Cousin said, “So I had no choice but to kill them so as to silence them.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “And so this time, you believe I’m the person who has come to bring you out?”

Cousin stared at him. One word at a time, he slowly said, “I just hope that this time, I’m not wrong.”

Lu Xiaofeng let out a sigh. “I also hope that this time, you aren’t wrong.”

Cousin was still staring at him. His eyes had turned as cold and sharp as knife blades. He suddenly asked, “Aside from my master, the Swordsman of Bashan, who are the two others? Who asked you to come? What is your code name?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “I can’t say.”

Cousin said, “Because you don’t know!”

Lu Xiaofeng nodded. Forcing a smile, he said, “I’m very apologetic. Looks like this time, you are wrong yet again.”

There was a lamp lit in the cellar. This was spring, and so it shouldn’t have seemed too cold down there.

But Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt a wave of cold horror fill him. It wasn’t because Cousin was gripping his sword with his hand yet again. Rather, it was because another person suddenly appeared in the cellar. A man wearing a gray robe, who wore a bamboo hat on his head.

Just as Cousin gripped his sword, the man appeared behind him.

Lu Xiaofeng saw this man. Widow Hua also saw this man. But Cousin himself did not.

This person was like a ghostly spirit, with form but without substance.

An unusually designed bamboo hat covered his face. Lu Xiaofeng was totally unable to see his face, but could already guess his identity. Widow Hua’s face was expressionless, but a look of joy appeared in her eyes as well.

This person was waving at her.

Cousin seemed to have realized that something was amiss. He suddenly turned around.

But no one was there. Not even a shadow could be seen.

This person remained behind him like a shadow, then waved at Widow Hua again.

By the time Cousin turned around to face her, she had already calmed down. Icily, she said, “Do you want to kill Lu Xiaofeng first? Or kill me first?”

Cousin slowly sat down. He leisurely said, “Neither of you look like you are afraid of death.”

Widow Hua said, “Since we have no choice but to die, what’s the point of being afraid? Only…”

Cousin said, “Only you don’t want to die without even know what’s going on.”

Widow Hua assented to this. His words struck a chord in her heart.

Cousin said, “So you want to ask me, aside from my master, the Swordsman of Bashan, who else knows this secret?”

Widow Hua said, “Since I’m going to die no matter what, why not tell me?”

Cousin stared at her. Suddenly, he began to laugh, very loudly.

Widow Hua said, “Why are you laughing?”

Cousin said, “I’m laughing at you. You know the answer already. Why ask me?”

Widow Hua said, “What do you mean? What do I know?”

Cousin said, “Aside from my master, there are two people who know. One is the Wooden Taoist. The other is your old man. You clearly are just the same as me, someone who was sent here as a spy. Why put on an act?”

Widow Hua’s face changed.

Cousin said, “By now, I imagine you already know what kind of a person the Old Sabre Honcho is. Because you are a woman. You can accompany him to bed and sleep with him.”

Widow Hua said, “You want me to pull me under as well?”

Cousin said, “Actually, I’ve always known your secret. The only reason I did this today was because I set a trap for you. I wanted to entice you into spilling your secrets. I’d rather kill a hundred innocents than let a single spy live.”

Widow Hua stared at him. She suddenly let out a sigh. “So you aren’t trying to pull me under. You are just trying to find a scapegoat for yourself.”

Cousin said, “Why would I need to find a scapegoat?”

Widow Hua said, “Because although you didn’t see the Old Sabre Honcho, you know that he’s already here.”

She sighed again before continuing. “You really are a talented person. But there’s something you don’t understand.”

Cousin said, “What?”

Widow Hua said, “This really is a scheme, but the person who fell into it wasn’t me. It was you.”

Cousin said, “Oh?”

Widow Hua said, “The Old Sabre Honcho and I had suspected you long ago, which is why we set up this trap to catch you. If you believe that I really was poisoned by you, you are wrong about that as well.”

Dusting off her sleeves, she slowly stood up. Someone poisoned by the Powder of Rapture would find it difficult to purge the poison that fast. But she actually stood up.

But Cousin continued to sit on that stool without moving. He suddenly turned to look at Lu Xiaofeng. “What do you think?”

Lu Xiaofeng let out a sigh. Forcing out a smile, he said, “All of you are geniuses. I respect all of you.”

Cousin suddenly laughed loudly. “For someone like Lu Xiaofeng to respect me, even as I die, I, Gu Feiyun, feel content!”

He said the word die, and he really did die, just like that. It was even faster than when he killed others.

His sword flipped around, his blood spurted out, and he collapsed.

He definitely couldn’t let himself survive and allow others to force information out of him.

If you want to find out someone else’s secrets, you had best prepare to be willing to sacrifice your own life.

Widow Hua frowned. “I didn’t expect him to not fear death at all.”

The Old Sabre Honcho said, “People who are afraid of death can’t enter his line of work at all. People who are overly intelligent cannot, either.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “There’s another sort of person who cannot as well.”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Who?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “The type of person who, no matter where he goes, finds lots of trouble for himself. Even if he doesn’t want to cause trouble, trouble still manages to find him.”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Are you this sort of person?”

Lu Xiaofeng forced out a laugh. “I’ve always understood myself very well.”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “You definitely did bring a lot of trouble to my doorstep…”

Lu Xiaofeng interrupted him. “But you definitely cannot kill me.”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Why is that?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Because I didn’t want to come here. You were the one who brought me in. So even though others can kill me, you cannot, because I am your guest.”

Old Sabre Honcho grew silent. He slowly said, “I can spare you, but you have to promise me one thing!”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “What?”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Seal your mouth as tightly as a closed bottle. Forever maintain your silence regarding what you learned of this place.”

Lu Xiaofeng immediately said, “I accept.”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Fine, I’ll trust you. Leave!”

Lu Xiaofeng was startled. “You want me to leave?”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “Even if a host cannot kill his own guest, he can at least ask his guest to depart.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “But outside…”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “No matter who is waiting for you outside, at least it’s better than dying inside.”

Lu Xiaofeng spoke no further. He could tell that no matter what he said, it would be useless. So he left.

But Old Sabre Honcho suddenly called him back. “But at the very least, you were my guest, and at the very least, you didn’t sell me out. So if there’s anything you want, I’ll let you take it with you!”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “No matter what I ask for?”

Old Sabre Honcho said, “As long as you can take it with you.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “What if I want to take her?”

The ‘her’ he wanted to take away was Widow Hua!

Old Sabre Honcho shut his mouth. After a long time, he slowly said, “You can take her away as well. But in the future, you had best never let me see you again!”

The ravine was still filled with dreary, misty clouds. In any circumstance, it would be extremely difficult to find that narrow, steel-chain path. To pass across it would be even harder.

And after crossing it? The world within the ravine was the world of the Mansion of Spirits. And outside? How many life-threatening dangers were outside?

Lu Xiaofeng let out a long sigh. He suddenly laughed.

Widow Hua looked at him. She couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you afraid?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Afraid of what?”

Widow Hua said, “Death.”

She gently held his hand. “Aren’t you afraid that as soon as you leave this ravine, you’ll die under someone’s sword?”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. “I’ve already died once. So what if I die a second time?”

Widow Hua laughed as well. No matter what, at least they had left the Mansion of Spirits, left this world of the dead.

Widow Hua said in a soft voice, “I’ve often thought to myself that so long as I had the chance to once more truly live again, even if it was just for a day, I would be utterly satisfied.”

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