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The Phoenix Dances in the Nine Heavens Chapter 19

CSI

Chapter 19 – How to escape from a trap.

Early morning.

Fog, light fog.

Smelling the fragrance of flowers in the morning breeze, watching the hazy silhouette of flowers in the fog, was a very invigorating thing. Too bad those who wake up early are not many.

Lu Xiaofeng usually woke up early, but he did not have time to leisurely go to the flower garden to watch the flowers, to smell the flowers, in the fog.

Gong Jiu was a man who knew how to enjoy life, but he did not know how to enjoy life in good taste, he would rather have more sleep to restore his energy, so he was unwilling to enjoy the refreshing mist.

Beef Soup was a woman, and women usually love flowers under the moon, love sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, the man she was with was Gong Jiu, a man who loved to sleep until the sky is bright. The woman by his side had no choice but stay with him in bed until the sky was bright.

Therefore, there was only one person who can enjoy the beauty of the early morning.

Clothes as white as snow, in white misty fog, like a stone statue Ximen Chuixue stood by the flowers.

The fog dispersed. The sun gave up its warmth. The birds started to sing.

Ximen Chuixue no longer stood by the flowers.

He stood by the carriage, Gong Jiu’s carriage.

A burst of murderous aura suddenly entered the carriage, Gong Jiu suddenly sat up.

Pushing the curtain aside, Gong Jiu saw Ximen Chuixue.

The Ximen Chuixue, who was standing coldly and eerily.

And then, Gong Jiu saw Lu Xiaofeng.

The Lu Xiaofeng, who was giggling and waving his hand as he went away.

Lu Xiaofeng did not go fast at all, but in no time at all Lu Xiaofeng’s shadow was getting smaller and smaller.

Gong Jiu pulled the rope, but the carriage did not move.

Ximen Chuixue drew his sword, stabbed the horse, and put the sword back into its sheathe; quick as lightning.

It was the first time Gong Jiu saw such a fast sword.

Lu Xiaofeng’s shadow was getting smaller. Ximen Chuixue’s murderous aura was getting thicker.

Gong Jiu did not look at Lu Xiaofeng, he looked at Ximen Chuixue’s eyes.

Ximen Chuixue’s eyes were also fixed at Gong Jiu’s eyes.

“Why did you kill my horse?” Gong Jiu asked.

“I don’t want your horse to pursue my friend,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“What if I want to pursue him?” Gong Jiu asked.

“You may end up just like your horse,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Humph,” Gong Jiu snorted, “You have confidence?”

Ximen Chuixue said, “Ximen Chuixue is the most confident person in Jianghu.”

“Really?” Gong Jiu asked.

“You want to try?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

Gong Jiu did not answer, he was overwhlemed by Ximen Chuixue’s murderous aura that he broke into a cold silence.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly felt that this world was actually very lovely. The singing of the birds was bright and refreshing, the breeze caressing his body felt really nice, even the weeds growing by the road looked beautiful.

Friends. It was the most delightful thing in the world.

Friendship. It was the most essential thing in the world.

The friendship between Lu Xiaofeng and Ximen Chuixue was merely a friendship between gentlemen, it was as insipid as the water; yet, when Lu Xiaofeng was in trouble, Ximen Chuixue was always willing to lend his blade to help.

Although he might ask Lu Xiaofeng to shave his moustache, what’s the big deal about shaving moustache anyway? After the moustache was shaved, won’t the man become more clear and bright? Therefore, Lu Xiaofeng was still grateful toward Ximen Chuixue.

Lu Xiaofeng knew that Gong Jiu would definitely be unable to catch up with him.

He stopped, took a deep breath to fill his lungs with the cool early morning mountain air. Stroking his fingers over the place above his lips where his moustache used to be, he laughed.

Because he remembered Sha Man. When Sha Man saw that he only had two eyebrows left, she must be shocked.

But the one who would be shocked the most ought to be Honest Monk. Because he would never expect that Lu Xiaofeng would really shave his moustache; moreover, that he did it to escape from the chase, although the one pursuing him was not the government officers under Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent command.

Gong Jiu was a lot more formidable than Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent. Lu Xiaofeng would never be afraid of a hundred government officers, yet he was afraid of one Gong Jiu.

Gong Jiu’s martial art and intelligence were simply frightening. Could Ximen Chuixue hold Gong Jiu back? Could Ximen Chuixue defeat Gong Jiu?

Lu Xiaofeng had just started to move his feet, moving forward, but he suddenly stopped again.

What if Ximen Chuixue was not Gong Jiu’s match?

There was a faint uneasy feeling floating in the depth of Lu Xiaofeng’s heart.

— If Ximen Chuixue met some mishaps, won’t I be guilty?

The more Lu Xiaofeng thought about it, the stronger the uneasy feeling in his guts.

— Ximen Chuixue faced Gong Jiu for my sake, why did I avoid the problem by running away from it? Either a friend is willing to sacrifice his life, or both sides are perishing together, how can I let Ximen Chuixue sacrifice his life alone?

Thinking to this point, like an arrow, Lu Xiaofeng flew.

Not a flying forward arrow, but a flying backward arrow.

It was noon.

The sun was shining high in the sky. There was no wind.

Butterflies were flying among the clusters of flowers.

But the one flying outside the clusters of flowers was not a butterfly; it was a fly.

Not just a regular housefly, but a big fly with a green head, the one making buzzing noise.

Seeing the fly, Lu Xiaofeng smelled the scent of blood.

The horse was not there, the carriage was not there, the people were not there either.

Lu Xiaofeng dashed into Ximen Chuixue’s house.

The furniture in the house was still as tidy as usual, everything was as spotless as before. But where was Ximen Chuixue?

In that entire house, other than Lu Xiaofeng, no one was in sight.

A gust of wind suddenly blew into the room, Lu Xiaofeng could not help shivering a little bit.

Has the big mistake really happened?

Lu Xiaofeng walked out of the house, he walked toward the bloodstained ground, and reached out with his palm to slap repeatedly.

The buzzing flies suddenly did not make any noise, one after another the flies dropped dead in the pool of blood.

Only the butterflies remained. The butterflies were still fluttering among the flowers, they fluttered erratically up, down, left and right.

The flowers were no longer fragrant, the butterflies were no longer beautiful.

Lu Xiaofeng stared blankly at the pool of blood on the ground, as if he had lost his soul.

“Are you paying homage to your dead horse?”

By the time this sentence entered Lu Xiaofeng’s ears, a hand also landed on his shoulder.

The voice belonged to Ximen Chuixue. The hand was also the exceptionally well-groomed hand belonging to Ximen Chuixue. Lu Xiaofeng looked at him with a blank look on his face.

To Lu Xiaofeng, Ximen Chuixue’s smile was a lot warmer than the sun.

“It’s not your blood?”

“If it was, would I still be able to stand right here?” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Oh, right. This must be the horse’s blood,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Why did you hurry back?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“I was afraid,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“You were afraid I would fall into Gong Jiu’s evil scheme?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

Lu Xiaofeng nodded.

Ximen Chuixue put both hands on Lu Xiaofeng’s shoulder, and shook him vigorously several times. “Just because of this, next time you come to me for a favor, I don’t want you to shave your moustache anymore.”

Lu Xiaofeng let out a wry laugh. This was the true value of friendship!

Lu Xiaofeng looked at the blood on the ground. “You really gave me a fright,” he said.

“You thought I died?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“Yes,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Why?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“Because you are a man who loves cleanliness,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “Why would you let a pool of blood remain in front of your house?”

Ximen Chuixue laughed and said, “Naturally I cannot stand it either, but I did not have time to clean up.”

“You don’t have time?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That’s right,” Ximen Chuixue replied, “I did not have time to cleanup, and you already arrived.”

“And before I came?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I went to the riverbank to throw up,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Throw up?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “As in vomiting?”

Ximen Chuixue nodded.

“Why did you throw up?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because I saw someone,” Ximen Chuixue replied, “His action was so nauseating that it made me sick.”

“Who?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Gong Jiu,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Gong Jiu?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “What did he do?”

“He begged me to beat him up,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Did you?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“No,” Ximen Chuixue replied, “When martial art masters are facing each other, they cannot be careless at all. I thought he intentionally wanted to break my concentration.”

“And then what happened?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“And then he suddenly raised his own hand to strike his own face,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“And you still ignored him?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You are right,” Ximen Chuixue said, “I was still staring at him like before.”

“And then what did he do?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He pulled a whip,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Whose whip?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Beef Soup’s,” Ximen Chuixue replied, “Beef Soup beat him incessantly, he rolled around on the ground, shouting in glee.”

“And what did you do?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I ran to the riverbank at once,” Ximen Chuixue said, “I threw up big time. Otherwise …”

“Otherwise what?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Otherwise I would throw up on the ground, and then I could not live here anymore,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“I am afraid I will have to pay for your house then,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Do you know how much this house of mine is worth?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“How much?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Do you know Huo Xiu?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed.

How could he not know Huo Xiu? How could he not know the richest person in the world, but loved to pass life like a hermit, the reclusive old fellow Huo? [See Lu Xiaofeng Book 1, The Golden Roc Empire, translated by Moinllieon.]

He still remembered it clearly, one time he was lying in bed comfortably, drinking wine; suddenly he was visited by three strange, yet very famous men of Jianghu. One was someone who thought about ‘feelings are always like leftover hatred, no point in bring up past matters’ all day long, the ‘Jade-faced Gentleman’ Liu Yuhen. Next was someone who thought about ‘the autumn rains and autumn winds brings worries’ all day long, the ‘Intestine Breaking Swordsman’ Xiao Qiuyu. And the last one was the ‘Thousand-li Loner’ Dugu Fang.

Actually, it was very rare that these three men were together, what was more surprising was that not only they were together, but they had become Princess Danfeng’s bodyguards.

When Princess Danfeng also entered his room, and suddenly kneeled down in front of him, he crashed through the roof to run away. The place where he decided to hide from Princess Danfeng was precisely Huo Xiu’s residence. It was a wooden cabin, yet priceless.

Because it was originally the summer retreat of the famous poet Lu Fangweng, the walls still had some of his poems, which he penned with his own hand.

But in an instant the house was demolished by Liu Yuhen, Xiao Qiuyu and Dugu Fang.

Princess Danfeng immediately took action; she compensated Huo Xiu with fifty taels of gold.

Fifty taels of gold could buy quite a few houses!

But Lu Xiaofeng believed that the wooden cabin worth thirty, forty thousand taels of gold.

Right now Ximen Chuixue suddenly brought up this matter, could it be that he also believed that his house worth that much gold?

Therefore, Lu Xiaofeng expressed what was in his mind, “Are you saying that your house is comparable to the old man Huo’s residence?”

But Ximen Chuixue shook his head, “You are wrong.”

“I am?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Ximen Chuixue said, “I only said that any house could be priceless.”

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Ximen Chuixue replied, “Because the people in the house maybe one day shake the four corners of the world.”

“You are absolutely right,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “That wooden cabin of old man Huo’s, when it was still Lu Fangweng’s residence, it was no more than a pile of lumber put together to make a house. But after Lu Fangweng’s poems received the acclamation of the world, by the time it became the old man Huo’s residence, it became priceless.”

“Therefore,” Ximen Chuixue said, “Even if I cannot live here, you can’t afford to compensate for my loss.”

“You are wrong,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “I can afford it.”

“Oh?” Ximen Chuixue said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Because practically I do not need to pay you right now; hundreds of years later, later generation’s people would know that during Ximen Chuixue’s time, I have already become as light as a feather and ascend to heaven, I have become an immortal.”

Ximen Chuixue said, “Now I know that you can act unreasonably and shamelessly.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “Even if that is true, it won’t implicate you at all, because right now you won’t move out.”

“This time you are wrong,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“I am about to move away,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because,” Ximen Chuixue said, “You are going to live here.”

“I am?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Ximen Chuixue explained, “Gong Jiu must have thought that you were gone, he would never expect that you came back. Therefore, no matter how many eyes and ears he sends out, no matter where his eyes and ears are, he will never find your whereabouts.”

“Because I already have my head on your pillow here without any worry,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Absolutely right,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“But what about you?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I am leaving,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Where?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I am studying Buddhism,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Studying Buddhism?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “With whom?”

“Naturally with a monk,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Which monk?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Honest Monk!” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Does Honest Monk understand Buddhism?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I don’t know,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“You don’t know?” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Yet you still want to study Buddhism from him?”

“I just want to learn one trick from him,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“Which trick?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Meditation,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Meditation?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “What for?”

“So that when I am with two great beauties, my heart won’t be like a frisky monkey, my mind won’t be like a cantering horse,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

“Who are those two great beauties?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“One is called Sha Man, the other Xiao Yu,” Ximen Chuixue replied.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “Are you saying that you want to pick them up and bring them here?” he asked.

“Do you have any other safer and better way?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“I do,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Please enlighten me,” Ximen Chuixue said.

“But momentarily we cannot do it,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“What is it?” Ximen Chuixue asked.

“Kill Gong Jiu,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Lu Xiaofeng had high confidence in Ximen Chuixue’s character, he had high confidence in his capability, he had high confidence in his martial art skill. Therefore, he peacefully and cozily lay in front of the house, enjoying the fragrance of the flowers, the sunshine, the light breeze, and the elegantly fluttering butterflies.

Lu Xiaofeng’s mind was also fluttering up and down like the butterflies, until it finally landed on Sha Man.

He longed to see Sha Man.

He suddenly felt a strong urge to retire from Jianghu.

He had been in Jianghu for a long time, indeed too long. Although he was still young, and his heart was still burning with passion, but suddenly he felt that Jianghu was sinister and deceitful, the smell of fierce, bloody rivalry was becoming too thick.

He only hoped to be together with Sha Man, find a small island, perhaps return to the Little Old Man’s island, and live in Sha Man’s former house, no longer care about right and wrong, gratitude and grudges, no longer carry a sword.

He looked at his hand.

— If not carrying a sword, what should he carry?

— Eyebrow pencil?

He could not help laughing.

And then he heard noises.

Not the sound of his laughter, but the sound of horses’ hooves on the ground.

Not just one horse, not even two, three, or four horses, but the sound of a dozen, maybe more than twenty horses, galloping on the ground.

He sprang up.

By the time the sound of galloping horses was getting clearer and clearer, it was getting more and more resounding, Lu Xiaofeng had made a decision.

Therefore, ‘whoosh!’ he hid himself into a cluster of flowers.

— Who were these people?

That was the first question popping out in Lu Xiaofeng’s mind as he was hiding in the cluster of flowers.

— Did Ximen Chuixue betray him?

That was the second question in Lu Xiaofeng’s mind in the cluster of flowers.

Out of these two questions, he would find out the answer to at least one question very soon.

Because the galloping horses had stopped in front of Ximen Chuixue’s door.

Exactly twenty horses, twenty riders.

Twenty riders who had just jumped down their horses. Twenty big, burly men in black.

Lu Xiaofeng recognized one of them. The leader.

Ying Yan Laoqi!

The leader was precisely the Zongpiaobazi of the Twelve-Dock Alliance, Ying Yan Laoqi.

— Who was Ying Yan Laoqi looking for?

— Did he look for Ximen Chuixue or Lu Xiaofeng?

— What for?

Lu Xiaofeng only knew one thing: the one Ying Yan Laoqi was looking for, was not him, but Ximen Chuixue.

Because when he knocked the door, Ying Yan Laoqi said, “Ying Yan Laoqi of the Twelve-Dock Alliance is seeking audience with Ximen Gongzi.”

Therefore, Lu Xiaofeng got the answer to his second question: Ximen Chuixue did not betray him.

He suddenly felt ashamed.

He repeatedly admonished himself in his heart, “Toward a friend, you must have trust, you must have confidence.”

Therefore, he took a very deep breath to suck the scent of the flowers.

He still had some reservation in his heart that he did not feel comfortable in sitting or lying back down. Instead, unleashing his qinggong, he flew toward the direction Ying Yan Laoqi disappeared.

Because he still had one big question.

— Why did Ying Yan Laoqi look for Ximen Chuixue?

Ying Yan Laoqi was the Zongpiaobazi of the Twelve-Dock Alliance. The Twelve-Dock Alliance’s power reached far and wide, even beyond the Great Wall. He had subordinates from both the ‘white and black’ ways. No matter where he went, Ying Yan Laoqi would always have a secure place to stay, he would be warmly greeted by local people of both the ‘white and black’ ways.

Therefore, the place Ying Yan Laoqi picked to rest ought to be a large town or perhaps a large village.

But Lu Xiaofeng was wrong this time. Big mistake, very peculiar mistake.

Because as Lu Xiaofeng followed the horses’ track, he suddenly realized that the direction Ying Yan Laoqi and his people took was not a big town at all.

The place where they stopped was nowhere in particular, it was as if as soon as they felt tired, they found a random place where they could sit down and rest.

It was no more than a rather spacious, open space among the twists and turns of the road.

They all dismounted and gathered into a group. Watched from afar, it appeared that they were talking about some confidential matter.

Once again Lu Xiaofeng found out that he was mistaken. They did not talk about anything at all, but they gathered around a pot-stewed dish, eating and drinking as much as they liked.

The sun had already passed the zenith. Lu Xiaofeng found out that his own stomach was grumbling. But he could not sit down to eat.

Not that he was afraid they might detect his presence, and not that he did not have time to eat either; rather, he did not bring anything to eat.

The only thing he brought was silver to buy things to eat.

On this remote mountain path, silver had no use at all. Therefore, he could only hide nearby, watching them eating.

Nor only he was able to see them stuffing themselves, he could even hear the sound of their conversation.

“What do you say tonight, the two of us brothers, doubling our capital, and then go to find Chun Hong and Tao Niang to have some fun?”

“Double your big ghost head!”

“Hey, what’s wrong with you?”

“Do you know what I am most afraid of in all my life?”

“What is it?”

“Caressing door’s nail. There was one time I was on mission, I did not find the person I was looking for, as a result, when I pushed several Paijiu [pai gow] tiles, ha! Do you know what happened? For twenty-seven times in a row, all I picked was ‘departing ten’ [i.e. ‘zero’].”

“So when you did not find Ximen Chuixue today, you don’t want to gamble?”

“Absolutely not.”

“I’ll say you’d better gamble still.”

“Why?”

“Because if you saw Ximen Chuixue, I am afraid you may not necessarily have any chance to gamble anymore.”

“You think we can’t kill him?”

“I am afraid that’s just not possible.”

“Impossible.”

“You are so confident?”

“Of course; there are twenty of us, while he does not guard against us. Suddenly we launch twenty different secret projectiles, I’ll say even an immortal will find it difficult to dodge, much less just an ordinary person.”

Lu Xiaofeng knew what was going on.

Because Ximen Chuixue blocked Gong Jiu, Lu Xiaofeng was able to escape his grip. Therefore, Gong Jiu harbored hard feelings against Ximen Chuixue, and sent Ying Yan Laoqi to plot against Ximen Chuixue.

It was the most likely scenario. And it also proved one thing.

Gong Jiu was really unable to trace Lu Xiaofeng’s whereabouts, i.e. because Lu Xiaofeng went back to check on Ximen Chuixue, he was able to break away from Gong Jiu’s pursuit.

It also proved another thing.

During his journey, nobody recognized Ximen Chuixue.

Lu Xiaofeng was relieved. He knew that he only need to do one more thing, and then he could sit back and relax outside Ximen Chuixue’s door, waiting for Ximen Chuixue fetching Sha Man and the others.

Although Ying Yan Laoqi was not addicted to gambling, sometimes he also satisfied his cravings by placing a few high stakes.

But tonight, he only opened his eyes wide, staring at his subordinates having a few rounds of gambling. He did not have the slightest moods to partake the game.

Although his wine capacity could not be considered very good, sometimes he drank ten to twenty bowls brimming to the edge with shaodaozi [lit. burning knife; not sure, probably type of wine] without getting drunk.

But tonight he only drank two bowls, and he already felt tipsy.

People with a load in their mind usually get drunk rather easily.

People with a load in their mind usually don’t have the mood to gamble.

Ying Yan Laoqi was actually a very open-minded man; no matter what happened, he rarely took it to heart.

But tonight he had a load in his mind; not only tonight, but these days he had a load in his mind.

Ever since he took the wrong step, he had been having a load in his mind. This worry has depressed him.

He was already the Zongpiaobazi of the Twelve-Dock Alliance, why did he accept Gong Jiu’s provocation?

He worried that one day, his fate would be the same as Ye Xingshi.

Because in this earth, he was the only person remained who knew Gong Jiu’s secret.

Actually, he was not supposed to know Gong Jiu’s secret.

Based on his advanced years, based on his family’s wealth, he should not be worried about anything. Why is it that in that moment he could not resist the temptation of vast amount of money and thus he fell under Gong Jiu’s control?

That much money, what good would it bring? Did he really want to bring everything in his coffin after he died?

Lu Xiaofeng has always been a warm hearted man, always attached importance to yiqi [spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice, code of brotherhood], always emphasized benevolence. When this heist broke out, the first person came into Ying Yan Laoqi’s mind he wanted to ask for help was precisely Lu Xiaofeng.

But now, Ying Yan Laoqi had to take his order from Gong Jiu, he had to track Lu Xiaofeng’s whereabouts; and when Gong Jiu said to kill, he vehemently must kill such a hero.

Although Ximen Chuixue was not a man of great benevolence, great valor, he had never killed the innocent. Based on this fact alone, it was enough for him to receive admiration from Jianghu people.

But now, Ying Yan Laoqi had received order to kill Ximen Chuixue.

Therefore, he lifted his bowl again, and downed the wine in one gulp.

Therefore, he did not even know when the gambling was over, not the slightest idea.

When he awoke, he found that he was crouching on the table. The huge tavern was completely deserted, and he was awake with some kind of drowsiness.

And then, he realized that his saber was missing.

And then, he found out that there was a piece of paper in front of him.

The piece of paper said:

Ximen Chuixue Chang’an. [Ancient name of Xi’an, the capital of China during Tang Dynasty.]

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