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The Phoenix Dances in the Nine Heavens Chapter 8

CSI

Chapter 8 – A beauty’s favor

Eighth day of the sixth month, night.

The main hall of the Twelve-Dock Alliance headquarter was brightly lit, the security outside the hall was very tight. After going the affair of the Duanyang Day of the fifth month, the number of guards and checkposts was doubled, especially today. The three different teams who were sent to investigate have returned, the leaders were now assembled in the main hall, one by one they reported the result of their investigation.

The first to stand up was Xiong Tianjian. He led the first team back to the little town at the foot of Taihang Mountains. After spending thirty-tree days on open enquiries and secret search, this was the result:

“The inn where the escort warriors spent the night is called Yue Lai [lit. ‘pleased to come’]. Because it is a remote area, land is of little value, hence the inn is built over a large tract of land. Altogether there are thirty nine rooms.”

“We have carefully searched every inch of all thirty-nine rooms, there is no bloodstain at all, there isn’t any vestige of weapons or secret projectiles either. It can be said that there is nothing suspicious at all.”

“The locals consist of a hundred and seventy-eight households. Most of them are native born and bred, we investigated every house and asked if there was any suspicious people in the vicinity a few days before and after the incident.”

“The only thing that can be considered suspicious was that the morning before the incident, there was a group of carpenters arrived, with several large carts of wood. They said the wood was to make Buddha statues and wooden fish.”

“But these people were gone by that evening. We followed this clue and found out that these people were actually the carpenters from the Taiping Prince’s Mansion; there is nothing suspicious at all. Hence, the result of this investigation is just like there is no result at all.”

It was the same with the second team, led by Ye Xingshi, all the renowned experts of Jianghu who were adept at using blades, within the four hours [orig. ‘two sichen’] of the morning of Duanyang, no one was within five hundred li of the Twelve-Dock Alliance’s territory. Moreover, every single one of them had strong alibi.

Finally the third team, led by Wang Yi, showed a bit of result, but the distance toward the thirty-five million taels was still very far away.

Therefore, everyone’s hope was placed on Ying Yan Laoqi. Right now it was only seven days away from the time limit set by the Heir Apparent.

Ying Yan Laoqi’s news was even more discouraging. “Lu Xiaofeng has gone out to sea on a long journey, I am afraid he’ll never come back.”

After leaving the Crouching Cloud Building, he immediately went to the port in that coastal area to make inquiry.

He found the Fox Den.

But on the day of his visit, this place, which was a world-famous amorous place, was cold and cheerless.

Because the news of their boss’ ship capsized has arrived. Reportedly everybody on board perished, not a single soul survived.

Ying Yan Laoqi was unwilling to give up; he inquired further, “Have you seen any man with four-eyebrows?”

They have, and they remembered.

People whose moustache and eyebrows looked the same are not many. It has always been very easy for Lu Xiaofeng to leave deep impression of other people’s mind.

“That man also boarded our boss’ ship.”

“The ship that capsized?”

“That’s right.”

Unexpectedly, the result of the three teams was totally nothing. Those hundred and three astute, capable and experienced escorts, plus thirty-five million taels worth of goods, were just like a stone thrown into the ocean, it disappeared without a trace.

The seven days deadline would pass in the blink of an eye. Everybody looked at each other in dismay, nobody knew what to do.

Ying Yan Laoqi suddenly said, “There is one thing we can do.”

“What is it?” everybody immediately asked.

Ying Yan Laoqi stood up; he looked at the stone pillars outside the main hall, and slowly said, “We can strike our heads against the pillar over there.”

When Lu Xiaofeng came out of the little old man’s private room, it was precisely early morning of the eighth day of the sixth month. The sky was sunny and cloudless, the sun was shining brightly, although the sea breeze was blocked by the mountain peaks on all sides, the weather was still cool and pleasant.

He did not come out the same way he came in at all. Hence he did not go through the room full of wooden fish, and he did not need to swim through the pond.

The exit of this tunnel was located near the lotus pond under the nine-bend winding bridge. When he was already out, he suddenly remembered that he forgot to ask the little old man one important question: “If I want to sleep, where should I go?”

The little old man apparently believed that he would be able to deal with this kind of matter; hence he did not even mention it. Perhaps he did not realize that sleeping is just like eating, both are vital to living human beings.

Right now Lu Xiaofeng only hoped that he could find Yue Yang. Although it was unlikely that Yue Yang would find him a place to sleep, he could at least lead him back to his own small thatched hut.

Golden house or silver house, nothing is as good as his own dog house; besides, there was an old friend whose mouth was always wide open.

Remembering this old friend, he suddenly remembered something else, “I wonder if there is also someone inside the old friend’s big tummy? This man did not have any beef soup; I wonder if he is already died.”

Remembering this little fact, Lu Xiaofeng wanted to go back even more.

Lu Xiaofeng was homesick. Thinking about it, he himself could not help feeling amused.

Too bad that he could not find Yue Yang, but he saw Sha Man instead.

Hundreds of flowers in full bloom, under the sunny sky it looked even more gorgeous. Sha Man was standing in the middle of a cluster of flowers, wearing a light and soft gown, without any makeup on her face. Next to her, the hundreds of flowers seemed to lose their splendor.

She just stood there, without moving or opening her mouth.

Unable to restrain his emotions, Lu Xiaofeng walked toward her.

Suddenly she turned around and walked away. Lu Xiaofeng followed her involuntarily, through a flowery footpath paved with vermillion stones, ahead was a tall cluster of Chinese rose, almost like a canopy, and there was a tiny cabin in the middle.

She pushed the door open and walked in. Undoubtedly this little cabin was the place where she stayed.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly remembered the Mansion of Spirits. Form the look of it, this place seemed to have so many places that were similar to the Mansion of Spirits [see Book 5: Mansion of Spirits – still work in progress at the time of this writing], yet essentially it was completely different, Lu Xiaofeng’s experience were also different.

Before he went to the Mansion of Spirits, he had had emotional preparation, he was aware early on what kind of place the place was.

All the people in the Mansion of Spirits had been dead once, and then living incognito over there. But the people in this place were all virtually nameless.

Although the Old Sabre Honcho was an amazing character, this little old man was a strange character without equal in this age, with a frighteningly sharp intelligence, so deep and immeasurable. Compared to him, the Old Sabre Honcho was no more than a small stream next to the ocean.

The cabin door was still open, there was no sound at all from the inside.

Lu Xiaofeng finally could not help walking in. Sha Man was waiting behind the door, she closed the door, and wrapped her arms around her.

Her lips were burning hot, her body was fiery.

By the time Lu Xiaofeng awoke, it was almost dusk.

She was standing at the window, with her back toward him. Her slim waist stretched down toward her well-rounded buttocks, her long, slender legs were perfectly straight.

Lu Xiaofeng could not keep his eyes off of her; he nearly lost his mind.

It felt like a dream, an absurd yet sweet dream; he could never have imagined why she would treat him like that.

He wanted to sit up, to walk over and embrace her again, but his limbs felt weak and devoid of any strength, he could not even move.

She did not turn around, but she must be aware that he was awake. Suddenly she asked a very strange question, “Did you kill Fei Tian Yu Hu?” [see Book 4: Silver Hook Casino, Flying Jade Tiger, lit. jade tiger flying to the sky.]

 

At this moment, nobody could have imagined that she would ask such question.

Fei Tian Yu Hu was crafty and cruel, in the battle at the Silver Hook Casino, Lu Xiaofeng were nearly killed under his hands. Lu Xiaofeng could not imagine that she would ask such question either. “You know him?” he could not help not to ask.

Sha Man still has not turned around, but her shoulders were trembling, as if she was deeply shaken.

After a long time, she finally said slowly, “His real name was Jiang Yufei, my original name is actually Jiang Shaman.”

Lu Xiaofeng was shocked, “So you were brother and sister?” he asked.

“That’s right,” Sha Man replied.

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart sank. Suddenly he understood why she treated him like that. Turned out it was because she wanted to exact revenge for her older brother.

But she did not have any confidence that she would be able to deal with Lu Xiaofeng, hence she could only use the women’s most primitive weapon.

Such weapon has always been very effective.

Right now his limbs were soft; presumably he had fallen into her evil scheme in his dream after his soul was captured in ecstasy by her charm.

Lu Xiaofeng could only comfort himself in his heart, “I am able to make it this far, I am already lucky. To be able to die at the hands of such woman, it could be considered very lucky. What am I complaining about?”

As long as one is free of worried thoughts, there is nothing in the world complaining or losing his sleep over.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly chuckled; he said, “Although I did not personally kill him, but he did die because of me. If I had a second chance, perhaps I’d kill him with my own hands.”

Sha Man was silent for a long time before speaking slowly, “More than once I made an oath, no matter who killed him, I will give him my body as a reward. I have no other way to express my gratitude.”

Her voice was brimming with sorrow and hate.

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

Sha Man’s body shook again as she said, “Although he was my older brother, he had destroyed my life.”

Lu Xiaofeng did not ask further. He understood this kind of situation, people like Fei Tian Yu Hu are capable of committing any kind of despicable and disgraceful things.

Sha Man still has not turned around. She continued, “I made a promise to myself, and now I have fulfilled it. You may go now.”

“I am not leaving,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Sha Man suddenly turned around, the streak of tears on her pale face had not dried, but her beautiful eyes shone with rage, and became as sharp as blade. “What else do you want?” she asked coldly, “Could it be that you want one more time?”

These words were also as sharp as blade.

Lu Xiaofeng knew that if he left now, next time they met, they would be like strangers. But if he hugged her, even though she might refuse him, perhaps he would not even have a chance to see her again.

If he neither walk over nor embrace her, why would he stay here and just stare blankly at her?

He felt he was such an idiot, really an idiot.

Sha Man stared at him. Gradually her eyes turned gentle.

If he was really like the fickle Dengtu Zi of the folklore[1], even if he did not leave right now, he may not necessarily take the opportunity to hug her again.

Either way, he had already obtained her, why would he still want to have another opportunity to see her later on?

She had seen the passionate, weak side of his heart, yet she still had to let him go.

Suddenly someone shouted outside, “Ninth Young Master is back, Ninth Young Master is back!”

Sha Man’s face suddenly carried a strange expression, like that of a little child’s when he did something and was suddenly caught by his parents.

Yet Lu Xiaofeng chuckled and said, “You might as well leave first, I’ll also leave very soon. What happened today, I will certainly forget it soon.”

He laughed again, but anybody ought to be able to see that it was a forced laugh.

Sha Man did not leave, she sat down instead, she sat down on the head of his bed.

“Do you want me to leave first?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“You don’t have to leave,” Sha Man replied.

“You …” Lu Xiaofeng started.

But Sha Man’s expression turned even stranger; she said, “I am not afraid other people will know what I did, no matter how long you want to stay here, I don’t care.”

Lu Xiaofeng looked at her; he gently reached out and grabbed her hand, as he slipped out of the bed and draped his clothes over his shoulders. Suddenly he laughed and said, “I have something I’d like to give you, but I am not sure if you’d accept it.”

“What do you want to give me?” Sha Man asked.

“My chamber pot knife,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Sha Man stared at him again, there was a hint of smile on her beautiful pair of eyes. Finally she really broke into laughter.

Lu Xiaofeng has never seen her laugh.

He laugh was just like a melting glacier, like spring returning to the earth, like the flower buds blooming under the sunshine.

Lu Xiaofeng also broke into laughter. They laughed together. Nobody know how long they were laughing, but suddenly two drops of sparkling and translucent tears appeared on the corner of her eyes, and flowed down on her pale, beautiful cheeks.

Suddenly she also stood up. She pulled Lu Xiaofeng’s hand rather forcefully, yet she spoke tenderly, “Please don’t go.”

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng’s voice was gruff.

Sha Man said, “Because I … I don’t want you to go.”

She embraced him again. Her lips were icy-cold, but it was as soft and sweet-smelling as a budding flower.

This time they did not have flaming desire, there was only tender sentiments, as gentle and soft as water.

A long, long time ago, there was a sage who once said something that other people would remember forever.

The sage said: friendship is cultivated over a period of time, but love comes suddenly. Friendship will definitely stand the test of time, love is often fleeting.

This fleeting time is such a splendid time, such a glorious time, such a beautiful time.

This fleeting time is eternal.

The wind was gently blowing outside the window, twilight has descended upon the earth.

Midsummer days’ twilight, it was bright, and hazy, and strong …

What a wonderful life, what a wonderful feeling.

Whether the door was not bolted, or the window was not closed, nobody knows. Like a floating cloud someone flew in, and then like a cloud he floated out again.

They did not see him; they did not even know that someone has come in and come back out.

But they did see that he left a flower.

An ice crystal flower.

It was the middle of summer, the flower was carved out of a block of ice, the translucent petals have not started to melt.

How far from here would a place have to be to have winter ice storehouse?

How much painstaking effort would it take to carve this ice flower and bring it here?

Although it was only a tiny ice crystal flower, who could possibly estimate its value?

Who could tell how much tenderness this ice flower contains? How much love?

Other than divine-dragon-like Ninth Young Master, who else could accomplish such thing?

He knew that she never valued worldly possessions. He knew she hated the heat; on this island in the South China Sea, all year long she would never see ice and snow.

Therefore, he brought this ice flower back just for her; he personally delivered this gift to his beloved.

But when he came, she was in the arms of another man. He only left behind the ice flower, and quietly went away.

[1] From the dictionary: Dengtu Zi, famous lecherous character, an idiom for ‘lecher’ or ‘skirt chaser’.

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