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The Phoenix Dances in the Nine Heavens Chapter 22 (End)

CSI

Chapter 22 – The Invisible Man

A gigantic door. An open giant door. The number of persons entering the giant door was only one.

Standing outside the door, Honest Monk said to Lu Xiaofeng, “You go in. In the front courtyard there are three rooms, inside these three rooms there are three different persons, they all are waiting for you.”

“Three persons?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I can tell you the names of the two persons,” Honest Monk said, “One is Gong Jiu, the other is the one you are yearning for day and night, Sha Man.”

“Why can’t you tell me who the other one is?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“No reason,” Honest Monk replied, “It’s just that you may never see this person again.”

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Honest Monk said, “It depends on your good luck. If the one inside the first room you are entering happens to be Sha Man, you may have a crazy, hot love before your death. If you meet Gong Jiu first, that’s too bad, you may tell the world these two words.”

“Which two words?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Goodbye [再见],” Honest Monk replied.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “And if I enter the room of the person you cannot tell me?” he asked.

“Maybe you’ll fall dead without knowing rhyme or reason, maybe you’ll be very happy,” Honest Monk said.

Lu Xiaofeng’s interest was piqued, “I can be happy?” he asked.

“If you do not fall dead without knowing rhyme or reason, I guarantee that you will be very happy,” Honest Monk replied.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly remembered something; he asked, “Can I give a shout outside each door?”

“You can’t,” Honest Monk replied.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because if you call, you’d find a very amusing thing,” Honest Monk replied.

“How much amusing?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You will find a lot of people sending you things,” Honest Monk replied.

“What things?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Secret projectiles,” Honest Monk replied, “Deadly secret projectiles. I guarantee that those secret projectiles will definitely take your life.”

“And after I enter the room?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You may speak, you may laugh, you may do anything,” Honest Monk replied.

“In that case, may I say two words to you now?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You may,” Honest Monk replied.

“Goodbye,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Although the stars were still hanging in the sky, the spacious courtyard was completely dark.

Apart from the dim silhouettes of the rooms, the shrubbery and the garden rocks, Lu Xiaofeng could not see anything. He only knew something.

— The three rooms were not connected to each other. There was one on his left, one on his right, and one in the middle.

He had to choose one. He went straight ahead.

His steps were very light, he was confident that the person inside has not detected his presence. He was already standing in front of the door.

He did not immediately push the door open. He stood outside the door for approximately the time needed to burn a quarter of incense stick, but all along he did not hear the least bit of noise from the inside.

A thought arose in his heart.

— The person inside could not be Sha Man. Because if it was Sha Man, she would let out some noise even in her sleep.

He was about to leave this room and select another one when another thought arose.

— What if Sha Man was sleeping soundly?

Therefore, he stood for another quarter of incense stick.

Quiet. A death-like stillness. No sound of rustling wind, no pitter-patter of a mouse’s feet across the floor, no sound of people talking in their sleep, not even the sound of someone turning on his bed.

Lu Xiaofeng decided to push open the door.

The door was opened with just one push. Quick and stealthy like a fox he rushed in. As soon as he stopped to get his bearings, he found something:

— The door automatically closed behind him.

Therefore, he could not see anything. But he felt that someone was inside the room.

— A man.

And then he felt sharp wind of a palm, as sharp as blade, went straight toward his heart.

‘Screech, screech!’ Lu Xiaofeng’s body instantly slid backwards, away from the wind.

But before Lu Xiaofeng steadied himself, the palm wind struck toward his heart again. He could not evade further.

Lu Xiaofeng did not fall dead without knowing rhyme or reason. The one who saved him was not other people, it was he, himself. Not his martial art skill, but his quick thinking.

The blade-like palm wind stopped not even two cun in front of his heart. Because Lu Xiaofeng blurted out three words.

Three words that saved his life.

— Hua Manlou.

Other than Hua Manlou, who can ‘see’ in total darkness and not miss even a hairsbreadth on the position of the opponent’s heart?

Therefore, the hand that was filled with murderous aura suddenly became gentle, the gentle hand grabbed Lu Xiaofeng’s hand.

Two hands. Two hands grabbing each other, representing the most precious feeling on earth.

— Friendship.

“How can you be here?”

It was the question that both Lu Xiaofeng and Hua Manlou asked simultaneously.

In the darkness, although Lu Xiaofeng could not see Hua Manlou’s face, he knew that Hua Manlou must be ‘staring’ at him. And then both of them burst out in laughter.

Hua Manlou pulled Lu Xiaofeng’s arm and brought him to the table. “Please sit down,” he said.

Lu Xiaofeng sat down. Hua Manlou also sat down. “I don’t have any lantern in here,” he said.

“We’ll talk in the dark then,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Shall we talk about how I ended up here first, or about how you came to this place?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Let’s talk about you,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“It was Honest Monk who brought me here,” Hua Manlou said.

“How could he bring you here?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I have been investigating the invisible man behind the scenes for you,” Hua Manlou said, “Yet I did not find the slightest clue. Instead, I discovered another matter.”

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Do you know that His Majesty is currently looking for Imperial Bodyguards?” Hua Manlou asked.

“I am a Jianghu man,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “I have never been interested in this kind of things.”

“Actually, I did not care about this matter either,” Hua Manlou said, “But I heard a rumor that His Majesty is looking for you.”

“Looking for me?” Lu Xiaofeng was shocked.

“Are you surprised?” Hua Manlou said, “When I heard that news, I was also stunned, hence I follow the trail to investigate it further.”

“And what’s the result?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“The result is: the rumor turns out to be true,” Hua Manlou said.

“His Majesty is looking for me to become an Imperial Bodyguard?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Absolutely correct,” Hua Manlou replied.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because someone recommended you,” Hua Manlou replied.

“Someone recommended me?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “Who?”

“Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent,” Hua Manlou replied.

Lu Xiaofeng’s jaw dropped. It was quite a while before he found his voice back, “Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent? Even if I use eight poles I would not be able to reach to where he is; why would he recommend me?”

“I don’t know,” Hua Manlou said.

“Besides,” Lu Xiaofeng continued, “Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent has had some dealings with Jianghu people, how could he not know that I am like a wild crane leisurely flying over the clouds, how could I become an Imperial Bodyguard?”

“I can’t think of any intelligent answer either,” Hua Manlou said.

“Did you continue your investigation?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Yes,” Hua Manlou replied, “I did continue my investigation.”

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

“Nothing,” Hua Manlou replied, “But I do know that one time Honest Monk went to see Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent.”

“Oh!” Lu Xiaofeng was shocked.

“That’s why I went to visit Honest Monk,” Hua Manlou said.

“And then he brought you here?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That’s right,” Hua Manlou replied.

“What did he tell you?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He wanted to bring me here, saying that I would see you very soon,” Hua Manlou replied.

“Why did you attack me?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Hua Manlou said, “These past several nights, someone always sneaked in to attack me, I don’t know who he is, I asked Honest Monk, Honest Monk said he did not know either, he only told me to be careful, that it would be best if I could catch the person who attacked me sneakily alive, and then I would find out the truth.”

“But your attack to me was a killer attack,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“First,” Hua Manlou said, “I didn’t know it was you. Second, that man’s martial art skill was unusually high, plus he always came around the same time as you did. Other than launching killer attack, my chance is indeed not good. Luckily you suddenly recognized me.”

“Otherwise, the Lu Xiaofeng you saw would be a dead Lu Xiaofeng,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Hua Manlou laughed. He said, “Your luck has always been good.”

Lu Xiaofeng was silent, because he suddenly remembered something.

— Before his death, Ying Yan Laoqi said one word ‘Tai’.

— Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent? Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent! [Orig. ‘tai ping wang shi zi’]

— Could it be that Ying Yan Laoqi wanted to tell him about Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent? Could it be that he wanted to tell Lu Xiaofeng about the secret behind Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent’s recommendation to the current Emperor?

Hua Manlou noticed Lu Xiaofeng’s silence. “What are you thinking?” he asked.

“I am thinking about someone,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“What kind of person?” Hua Manlou asked.

“A dead person,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Who?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Ying Yan Laoqi,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Ying Yan Laoqi is dead?”

“That’s right?”

“Before his death, what did he tell you?”

“One word, ‘Tai’.”

“Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent?” Hua Manlou asked.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Now Hua Manlou was silent. He was in deep thought.

“Do you know this person, Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I know nothing,” Hua Manlou replied, “What about you? Have you met this man?”

“I have never met him.”

“That’s odd. Why did he recommend you? What’s his purpose?”

“We must find someone,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Honest Monk?” Hua Manlou asked.

“That’s right,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “This question, he must have the answer.”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly remembered another person; so he said, “No, we’d better find someone else.”

“Who?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Gong Jiu,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Gong Jiu? Do you know where Gong Jiu is?”

“I came here, because Honest Monk brought me here. He said that there are three rooms here, one of them has Gong Jiu inside.”

“Let’s go to look for him then,” Hua Manlou said.

“No need,” a deep and low voice came from the outside.

Lanterns. Eight bright lanterns. Lanterns in the hands of eight gorgeous women, coming slowly from the outside into the room.

The man who talked was walking behind these eight beautiful women. Cold and proud; precisely such was the speaker’s expression.

It was Gong Jiu.

“It’s you?” Hua Manlou suddenly said.

“It’s me,” Gong Jiu replied, “You must have heard my footsteps clearly.”

“You are Gong Jiu?” Hua Manlou asked, “The one who attacked sneakily every night was you? Why?”

“Because I want you to develop a habit of trying to kill me,” Gong Jiu replied, “And then …” Gong Jiu laughed a very conceited laugh.

“And then,” Lu Xiaofeng continued for him, “The one’s going to be killed would be me.”

“Absolutely right,” Gong Jiu said.

“Brilliant ‘murder-with-borrowed-knife’ scheme,” Hua Manlou said.

“Too bad the god of luck always takes care of Lu Xiaofeng,” Gong Jiu said, “It’s just that …” speaking to this point, Gong Jiu humphed several times.

“It’s just that right now I am running out of luck?” Lu Xiaofeng probed.

“Luck,” Gong Jiu said, “There’s always a limit to ‘luck’.”

Lu Xiaofeng did not answer. The reason he did not answer was not that he did not have anything to say. Not at all. Rather, he believed that Gong Jiu had this kind of mentality, which was kind of beneficial to him, because it would mean that Gong Jiu was looking down on him, he was belittling him, and this characteristic would tend to make a person careless. And carelessness would often lead to failure.

To Lu Xiaofeng, the more Gong Jiu was looking down on him the better. In all honesty, he was rather afraid of Gong Jiu’s martial art skill. If Gong Jiu was looking down on him, he might have a chance to find a weak point in Gong Jiu’s carelessness, and then he would have a chance of victory.

It was Hua Manlou who opened his mouth. What he said was a question.

He asked, “Do you know Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent?”

Gong Jiu’s response was very peculiar. His answer was, “I know Honest Monk.”

“Oh?” Hua Manlou said.

Gong Jiu continued, “Honest Monk knows Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent, you think I don’t know him?”

“Not necessary,” Hua Manlou replied.

“Why not?” Gong Jiu asked.

Hua Manlou said, “Lu Xiaofeng knows Sha Man, but until now I have not seen Sha Man.”

Gong Jiu laughed and said, “You will definitely see her.”

“When?” Hua Manlou asked.

“When the time comes,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Where?” Hua Manlou asked.

“On the way,” Gong Jiu replied.

“On the way?” Hua Manlou asked, “Which way?”

“On the way to the Yellow Springs[1],” Gong Jiu replied.

“You are going to kill us all?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Maybe,” Gong Jiu said.

“Do we have any choice in the matter?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Only one person does,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Who?” Hua Manlou asked.

“Lu Xiaofeng,” Gong Jiu replied.

Lu Xiaofeng looked at Gong Jiu. “I have a choice?” he asked.

“Yes,” Gong Jiu nodded.

“What choice?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Be an invisible man, or be a ghost,” Gong Jiu said.

“If I don’t want to be an invisible man, must I become a ghost?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I can guarantee it, yes, you will,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Are you always that confident?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Yes,” Gong Jiu replied.

“But failed to run after me at Ximen Chuixue’s place,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

With a cold laugh Gong Jiu said, “Aren’t you in my hand right now?”

“It was me who voluntarily took the bait,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Gong Jiu said, “If I don’t have the trump card, Sha Man, in my hand, would you come to take the bait?”

“With thousand ways, a hundred plans you lured me to this place, what is it that you want, actually?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Didn’t I tell you?” Gong Jiu replied, “Be an invisible man, or be a ghost.”

“Why is it that if I don’t want to be an invisible man, I must become a ghost?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because you may spoil my plan,” Gong Jiu replied.

“And those that may spoil your plan, you want them dead?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Yes,” Gong Jiu replied.

“What if I promise you that I won’t spoil your plan?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I am still going to kill you,” Gong Jiu said.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because I don’t believe you,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Why don’t you believe me?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because you are Lu Xiaofeng,” Gong Jiu replied, “If you do not interfere with this earth-shattering Wulin sensation, Lu Xiaofeng is not Lu Xiaofeng.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “Contrary to my expectation, you know me very well,” he said.

“I don’t,” Gong Jiu said, “Someone else does.”

“The Little Old Man?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That’s right,” Gong Jiu replied.

“All these are the Little Old Man’s idea?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Only he can think of these many brilliant schemes, and only you can complete his masterpiece,” Gong Jiu said.

“If I don’t agree, and you kill me, this masterpiece cannot be completed?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That’s right,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Won’t that be a shame?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“It is indeed regrettable,” Gong Jiu admitted, “That’s why all along we did not kill you, we are hoping that you will agree.”

“What’s in it for me?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“A lot,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Do your best to persuade me.”

“You can have Sha Man,” Gong Jiu said.

“That’s it?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“You can enjoy endless glory, splendor, wealth and rank,” Gong Jiu said.

“I don’t want endless glory, splendor, wealth and rank,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“You can live a carefree and worry-free live, you can follow whatever your heart desires,” Gong Jiu said.

“How come?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because if you complete this mission, whatever you want, as long as you open your mouth, you can have it,” Gong Jiu said.

“Anything?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“As long as there is such thing in the world, you can have it,” Gong Jiu replied.

“How can it be?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because the one giving it to you is the Emperor,” Gong Jiu replied.

“The current Emperor?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“It isn’t,” Gong Jiu replied.

Lu Xiaofeng was puzzled. “It isn’t?” he asked.

“It’s the next Emperor,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Why would it be the next Emperor?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because at that time the current Emperor will be no more,” Gong Jiu said.

“What do you mean ‘no more’?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Dead,” Gong Jiu replied indifferently, “When one is dead, of course he will be no more.”

“How can the Emperor die?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Anybody can die, why can’t the Emperor die?” Gong Jiu said.

“And the next Emperor, would it be the Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“No wonder the Little Old Man never stop praising you,” Gong Jiu said, “You are indeed very smart.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent recommended me, so that I will have the opportunity to be in the Emperor’s presence?”

“That’s right,” Gong Jiu answered.

“You want me to become an invisible man so that when the time comes I can assassinate the Emperor?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Absolutely correct,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Wrong,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Wrong?” Gong Jiu said.

“The Little Old Man is wrong,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “And I am also wrong. I thought the Little Old Man knew me very well, turns out he did not.”

“Why not?” Gong Jiu asked.

“He practically did not understand me,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “This kind of business, how can I do it? I can’t wait to stop it, how can I do it?”

“The Little Old Man is not necessarily wrong, but you are definitely wrong,” Gong Jiu said.

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Where am I wrong?”

“You overlooked something,” Gong Jiu said.

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Human nature,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Human nature?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Gong Jiu said, “You overlooked that in human nature, there is love, there is fear, there is innate desire to seek riches and pleasure.”

“Did I overlook all those?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You did,” Gong Jiu said, “That’s the reason the Little Old Man told us to keep reminding you.”

“And the way you reminding me is by kidnapping Sha Man?” Lu Xiaofeng said, “You use intimidation and profit to catch my attention?”

“Don’t you want Sha Man?” Gong Jiu asked, “Don’t you want to live together with Sha Man? Don’t you want to live a carefree and worry-free live, follow whatever your heart desires with Sha Man, living the rest of your lives like deities?”

“Those are the desires of everybody on earth,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “But, to achieve those things with hands that are reeking of blood, I believe there three people on this earth who definitely would not want to do it.”

“Which three people?” Gong Jiu asked.

“Him,” Lu Xiaofeng pointed to Hua Manlou.

“And who else?” Gong Jiu asked.

“Ximen Chuixue and me,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Very well,” Gong Jiu said.

“Very well?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “What do you mean ‘very well’?”

“What I mean by ‘very well’ is that I lured you to this place is a very good thing for us,” Gong Jiu replied.

“But in term of the Little Old Man’s plan, won’t it be a very bad thing?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That is an inevitable regret,” Gong Jiu said.

“May I ask you a bit of question?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Of course you may,” Gong Jiu replied, “I have never concealed anything to anybody who is going to depart this earth very soon.”

“Is the Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent also an invisible man?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Yes,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Was Cui Cheng killed by him?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Xiao Hongzhu and Cheng Zhong were also killed by him,” Gong Jiu said.

“Did he kill them when he entered the secret chamber?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Gong Jiu nodded, “That’s right,” he said, “Hence he had to spend money to bribe Ye Xingshi, so that he would say that Cui Cheng and the others have been killed for half a sichen [1 hour].”

“And all these things have been arranged well in advance?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“That’s right,” Gong Jiu replied, “Except you.”

“I was an incidental party-crasher,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Due to your sudden appearance on the island, the Little Old Man had an idea of using you as an invisible man, to have you assassinate the Emperor,” Gong Jiu said.

“The most powerful invisible man today, is it Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He has already courted a lot of capable helpers,” Gong Jiu said.

“Why didn’t he go assassinating the Emperor himself?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He can’t do that,” Gong Jiu replied, “If he did the job himself, how can he win everybody’s support to be the successor of the throne?”

“Do you know Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent very well?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“There’s nobody on earth know him better than I do,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Did you know him since childhood?”

“Before he came out of his mother’s womb, I already knew him,” Gong Jiu said.

“How come?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because I am the Prince Taiping’s Heir Apparent,” Gong Jiu said.

Everyone was shocked. It was indeed a shocking news. Lu Xiaofeng stared at Gong Jiu in disbelief, he was speechless.

Gong Jiu looked at Lu Xiaofeng with a very proud expression on his face; he laughed and said, “Are you surprised by this secret?”

“I have not even dreamed about it,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“There is another thing that you have never dreamed about,” Gong Jiu said.

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You are going to die very soon,” Gong Jiu said.

Finished speaking, Gong Jiu pointed his finger outside.

Torches. Burning-bright torches.

Fifty torches in the hands of fifty big, burly, bare-chested men. Fifty men standing in a large circle.

“What does this mean?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“This is defined in four characters,” Gong Jiu said.

“Which four characters?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Ru di nan dun [入地难遁 lit. entering the earth hard to escape],” Gong Jiu said.

As soon as he finished speaking, Gong Jiu clapped his hands.

More torches. More burning-bright torches.

Fifty more torches in the hands of fifty more big, burly, bare-chested men. Only these fifty men were not standing on the ground.

They were standing on the roof.

“And what does that mean?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Another set of four characters,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Which four characters?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Cha chi nan fei [插翅难飞 lit. even given wings, you couldn’t fly],” Gong Jiu replied.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed and said, “Looks like you are determined to kill me.”

“What you said is absolutely correct,” Gong Jiu said.

“Can I ask you another question?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Of course you can,” Gong Jiu replied.

“My question is: have you heard a saying?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Which saying?” Gong Jiu asked.

“This saying has one character less than your two sayings,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Seven characters?” Gong Jiu asked, “Which seven characters?”

Zhi zhu si di er hou sheng [置诸死地而后生 lit. life after various deaths],” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Gong Jiu let out a very condescending laugh. He said, “You don’t have a chance. Not the least bit of chance!”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “If you insist like that, it looks like I really don’t have the least bit of chance. Since I am going to die, can I ask a favor from you?”

“What is it?” Gong Jiu asked.

“Let Hua Manlou and Sha Man go,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“So be it,” Gong Jiu did not hesitate at all.

“I am thinking of another thing,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“The Little Old Man told me,” Gong Jiu said, “That I grant whatever request you may have before your death as much as possible. You may speak!”

“I’d like to see Sha Man,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“You will definitely see her,” Gong Jiu said.

“But not now?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“But not now,” Gong Jiu asserted.

“When?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Gong Jiu waved his hand and pointed outside. “You stand outside,” he said, “When you are facing me.”

“You are very formidable,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “You want to divide my attention?”

Gong Jiu said, “Don’t forget that the Little Old Man always thinks highly of you. I absolutely must not lower my guard against you. To be honest, when facing a powerful enemy, I will do anything to weaken my enemy’s willpower. This is my way of ensuring my victory.”

Lu Xiaofeng looked at Gong Jiu with profound respect; he really admired him, he realized that his previous view about Gong Jiu was wrong.

And then, Lu Xiaofeng held out his hand and said, “After you.”

“You ought to go first,” Gong Jiu replied.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because this is the way to the gates of hell,” Gong Jiu replied.

Dawn. The first light of dawn already appeared.

If daytime symbolizes life, then the coming of dawn symbolizes the birth of a new life. Yet how come the dawn Lu Xiaofeng was facing was actually a shadow of death?

What kind of formidable trump card did Gong Jiu have in his sleeve? Why did he look so confident and calm?

Very soon these questions were answered.

When Lu Xiaofeng was concentrating his entire mind’s willpower, summoning the energy of his entire body, standing face to face in front of Gong Jiu, Gong Jiu suddenly clapped his hands lightly, and then Lu Xiaofeng saw the one he thought during the day, the one in his mind at night, Sha Man.

Lu Xiaofeng’s willpower melted, in its place was his love toward Sha Man. The entire attention he has been focusing was now turned to Sha Man.

If right now Gong Jiu attacked Lu Xiaofeng, definitely Lu Xiaofeng would be defeated.

But Gong Jiu did not attack, he showed a very conceited expression, just like a cat looking at a dying mouse in its claw, the mouse was looking at a clump of cheese that it could not eat anymore.

Lu Xiaofeng fixed his gaze at Sha Man. Sha Man was also staring at Lu Xiaofeng, but oddly there was not the least bit distressed look on her eyes; rather, there was tranquility, there was serenity, just like the tranquil water surrounding a natural harbor.

It has taken Lu Xiaofeng by surprise. Even Gong Jiu was also taken aback.

Why did Sha Man look so peaceful? Didn’t she know that Lu Xiaofeng was at critical moment where he was about to die?

Sha Man walked in steady steps, she walked slowly toward Lu Xiaofeng.

When she was near him, she suddenly turned around toward Gong Jiu. “Can I say something to him?” Sha Man asked Gong Jiu.

Without waiting for Gong Jiu’s response, Sha Man added, “I only want to say two words.”

Gong Jiu laughed and said, “Are you going to say ‘goodbye’ [再见], or is it ‘we’ll part forever’ [永别]?”

Sha Man smiled. “The two words that I am going to say, only he and I will know,” she replied.

“Please do as you wish!” Gong Jiu said.

Sha Man put her mouth close to Lu Xiaofeng’s ears and spoke those two words.

What could those two words be?

Finished speaking, Sha Man slowly walked away. She stopped and stood behind Lu Xiaofeng, facing Gong Jiu.

Gong Jiu followed Sha Man with his eyes, and then he shifted his gaze to Lu Xiaofeng’s face.

“Do you have anything to say?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “And you?”

Gong Jiu tossed his head back and roared in wild laughter, “Please remember,” he said, “You are the one who is going to die. Not me!”

Lu Xiaofeng calmly asked, “Are we going to fight bare-handed?”

“No,” Gong Jiu replied, “You may pick your weapon.”

“Whatever weapon I choose, will you give it to me?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Any weapon,” Gong Jiu said, “I have everything.”

“Very well,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“What weapon do you want?” Gong Jiu asked.

“Long whip,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Gong Jiu’s countenance changed greatly. “Long whip?” he asked.

Lu Xiaofeng coldly said, “That’s right, long whip!”

Gong Jiu sucked a few mouthfuls of cold air. Calming himself down, he clapped his hands.

Lu Xiaofeng already had the long whip in his hand.

“Are you going to fight empty-handed?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“My pair of hands is enough,” Gong Jiu proudly declared.

Lu Xiaofeng shook the whip in his hand. “Very well,” he said.

The whip emitted an ear piercing ‘shua, shua’ sound.

Gong Jiu’ face suddenly changed, his eyes gradually turned red, as he stared at something behind Lu Xiaofeng.

Lu Xiaofeng discovered that the eyes that were staring at something behind him were not limited to Gong Jiu’s pair of eyes. The men standing on the roof, as well as those standing around them, every pair of eyes was staring at something behind Lu Xiaofeng.

Lu Xiaofeng already knew what happened. He also understood why Sha Man said those two words, ‘use whip’, to him.

Sha Man actually did not do anything, she simply stripped the clothes off her body.

Stripping her clothes is actually not a big deal, she was merely exposing her naked body; that’s all. When a human being was born, wasn’t he naked?

It’s just that the kind of feeling a naked baby invokes in people’s heart is one of wonder of the new life, while the kind of feeling a naked grown woman stirs up in people’s heart is one of lust.

Lust is human’s weak point. Especially for those who are about to fight, lust must not arises.

Especially for Gong Jiu. This was Gong Jiu’s weak point.

Sha Man understood Gong Jiu, she understood especially Gong Jiu’s weak point. Therefore, she wanted Lu Xiaofeng to use whip, while she sacrificed her sex appeal to stir up Gong Jiu’s lust.

The ‘shua, shua’ noise of the whip, plus the jade-like fair skin of Sha Man under the morning sun, made Gong Jiu panting for breath like a rogue ox who had just run several dozen li.

When Sha Man started to twist her waist and made all kinds of erotic movement, like a mad man Gong Jiu tore apart his own clothes. He gasped for breath while cried out madly, “Hit me! Hit me!”

Lu Xiaofeng pulled his whip back. With a compassion on his eyes he looked at Gong Jiu.

But with a pleading look Gong Jiu stared at Lu Xiaofeng and at the whip in his hand, and cried out, “Whip me! Quick! Quick!”

Sha Man also cried out, “Quick!”

However, Lu Xiaofeng did not whip Gong Jiu. He stabbed him. Channeling his internal energy toward the whip, he turned the flexible whip into a straight and stiff whip.

Lu Xiaofeng used this kind of stiff whip, the whip pierced Gong Jiu’s heart.

Silence fell.

Only the rising sun shed its light on the courtyard and the walls surrounding it, and the ground, the flowers, the trees, and the people in it.

A boat. A small boat.

A small boat floating on the sea, floating along the waves. A pair of feet was dangling from the edge of the boat. Lu Xiaofeng’s feet.

Lu Xiaofeng was lying comfortable on the boat. There was a cup of dark green wine resting on Lu Xiaofeng’s stomach.

He was feeling very happy. Because Sha Man’s soft and tender body, as soft and tender as a Persian cat, was lying by his side.

Sha Man picked up the wine cup on Lu Xiaofeng’s stomach. She bit Lu Xiaofeng’s lip and spoke in a gentle voice, “You know what?”

“What?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“The current Emperor really want to see you now,” Sha Man replied.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. “You know what?” he asked.

“What?” Sha Man asked.

“I really want to be an invisible man now,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Sha Man jumped in fright. “Why?” she asked, “Are you going to assassinate the Emperor now?”

Lu Xiaofeng scrutinized Sha Man’s face. “Are you really that stupid?” he asked.

“I am indeed stupid,” Sha Man said, “If you don’t like it, just toss me to the bottom of the ocean and be done with it.”

But Lu Xiaofeng hugged Sha Man even tighter. He said, “Xiao Yu ran away, Ximen Chuixue and Hua Manlou have also returned to their peaceful and quiet world. Jianghu is peace and quiet once again. If I don’t take advantage of this opportunity to live in seclusion with you, becoming a couple of immortals, invisible from Jianghu, can I still be considered a human being?”

Sha Man sighed. “You are not a human to begin with!” she exclaimed.

“Are you saying I am not a human?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “What am I? A pig?”

Sha Man said, “You are not a human, you are not a pig either. You are a phoenix [Feng from Lu Xiaofeng’s name], you are Lu Xiaofeng, the Lu Xiaofeng who is flying blissfully in nine [Jiu, from Gong Jiu’s name] layers of heaven.”

[1] Yellow Springs – the underworld, equivalent of Hades or Hell in Chinese mythology.

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