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The Phoenix Dances in the Nine Heavens Chapter 11

CSI

Chapter 11 – Eluding pursuit

Lu Xiaofeng also had a worry of his own. But what he was thinking was not Gong Jiu’s sword either.

A matter of life and death, he had always been less concerned about. He should have been dead many times before.

Sha Man suddenly asked, “What are you thinking about?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “I am thinking about you.”

“Me?” Sha Man asked.

“I am wondering if you are jealous,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Sha Man bit her lips, “Why would I be jealous?” she asked.

“Because you have reason to be jealous,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Because you have had a good time with her?” Sha Man asked.

“I have had good time with a lot of girls,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “She was nothing more than one of them, and you …” He deliberately paused.

Sha Man instantly continued for him, “I was also only one of them.”

Although Lu Xiaofeng did not utter a single word of admission, he did not offer the least bit of rejection either.

Sha Man looked at him; she stared at him for a long time. “Why didn’t you ask me whether I really slept with Gong Jiu or not?” she suddenly asked.

“I don’t need to ask,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Because basically you don’t care about it,” Sha Man said.

Not only Lu Xiaofeng did not deny, unexpectedly he even nodded.

Again Sha Man stared at him for a long time. Finally she sighed softly and said, “If you still think that I don’t understand your intention, then you are wrong.”

“What’s my intention?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Sha Man said, “You intentionally want to make me angry so I’ll leave.”

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Sha Man said, “You think that if I leave you, I’ll be able to live for a hundred and eighty years?”

This time, Lu Xiaofeng neither deny nor confirm.

“Too bad you have forgotten a little something,” Sha Man said.

He did not ask at all, she already continued on, “For a woman, even if she could really live for 180 years, there is not much meaning in life.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “At least it’s bit better than to only have 18 sichen to live.”

“That’s what you think,” Sha Man said.

“What do you think?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Sha Man said, “As long as I can be with you, even living for one sichen I will be perfectly contented!”

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly sprang up, pulled her hand, and said, “Let’s go.”

Beyond the flat sandy beach, there was lofty and rugged rock, followed by deep jungle with lush trees and bushes. In a place like this, it would be easy even for a rabbit to evade the fox’s pursuit.

Lu Xiaofeng was not a rabbit. But not only he had rabbit’s instinct and speed, he also had the cunning of a fox and the loyalty and bravery of a dog.

Himself was a hunter, his survival skill in jungles and marshes was far superior than anyone could understand. As long as he could find a piece of twig, he was able to manufacture a deadly booby-trap in a very short period of time.

On this kind of place, if he wanted to evade one man’s pursuit, it should not be a very difficult thing to do.

“But that man is not a human,” Sha Man naturally was talking about Gong Jiu. “He is a viper, a fox, a devil.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “What exactly is he?” he asked.

Sha Man said, “Some say he is made of nine different things.”

“Which nine?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Sha Man said, “The viper’s spit, the fox’s heart, the ice and snow of the north sea, the rock of Tianshan [Mt. Tian, between Xinjiang and Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan], the bravery and fierness of a lion, the viciousness of jackal and wolf, the patience of a camel, and the intelligence of a human, plus the spirit of the eighteenth level of hell’s ghost.”

Although Lu Xiaofeng was laughing, anybody could see that his laugh was not a joyful one.

Sha Man said, “On this island, there are indeed a lot of places one can hide.”

“How many do you know?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Sha Man said, “Although what I know is no more than around five thousand places, it cannot be considered too few.”

“How many does he know?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He knows all of them,” Sha Man said.

— What I know, he also knows; those that I don’t know, he still knows.

Sha Man continued, “Therefore, it doesn’t matter where we hide, he will definitely find us.”

Lu Xiaofeng was silent for a moment. Suddenly he laughed again.

Sha Man was not surprised; she knew that there are people in the world that are able to laugh in any circumstances. She liked this kind of people, but in all honesty she though that Lu Xiaofeng’s laugh was too happy. She could not help but ask, “What are you laughing at?”

“I just remembered something funny,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“In our situation right now, what can possibly make you think of funny thing?” Sha Man asked.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “We can hide in a very amusing place.”

Sha Man said, “No matter how amusing that place is, if he can find it, it will become very boring.”

“I guarantee that he won’t find that place,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Where is it?” Sha Man asked.

“Inside the egg shell,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

Sha Man was a bit angry. At a time like this, he really shouldn’t crack a joke like that.

Not only Lu Xiaofeng was laughing, his eyes were shining. Sha Man could not bear not to say, “Only an egg would hide inside the egg shell, only you are a muddled egg.”

“You are forgetting something,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Oh?” Sha Man said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Only an egg will have egg shell.”

Sha Man did not understand.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Do you know the biggest muddled egg around here?”

“It’s not you?” Sha Man asked.

Lu Xiaofeng shook his head. “I can’t be compared to him,” he said, “At most I am only made of six or seven different things.”

“Are you talking about Gong Jiu?” Sha Man asked.

“Correct,” Lu Xiaofeng said, and then he added, “Exactly because he is the biggest muddled egg that whoever is able to hide inside his shell will be very safe.”

[Translator’s note: the word I translated as ‘muddled egg’ 混蛋 means ‘b@stard/son of a b1tch/jerk, etc.’ But if I translated it, the exchange above would not make any sense. Besides, I feel that the word ‘muddled egg’ is very amusing …]

Sha Man’s eyes also shone. Finally she was able to understand Lu Xiaofeng’s idea.

— Since Gong Jiu was going out to hunt and capture them, his own house must be empty.

If they could hide inside Gong Jiu’s house, it would be a very safe place. Because nobody would even dream that they were hiding there; nobody, including Gong Jiu himself.

Naturally the place where no one could think about was the safest place.

Sha Man said, “Now only one question remains: how can we get in?”

Naturally Lu Xiaofeng also knew that it was the biggest question, but he was confident that they would find a way.

In his eyes, nothing is absolutely impossible in the world.

Sha Man said, “Do you already have the answer to this question?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Naturally you know where that egg shell is?”

“Ehm,” Sha Man said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “In that case, the question is already answered.

Sha Man said, “Do you think we can just swagger it, and hope that nobody would see us?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “We do not need to swagger in, we practically do not need to even take a single step.”

“We don’t need to take a single step?” Sha Man said, “Are you telling me that you turn into a housefly and fly in?”

“I cannot change,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Even if I can, I won’t change into a housefly.”

He laughed again. “The flight of a housefly is too tiresome,” he said, “I am thinking of sneaking in comfort and ease.”

Sha Man opened her eyes wide, staring at him just like a child who had just listened to a fairy tale.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed and said, “I know that in your heart you don’t believe me, but I guarantee that you don’t need to worry the least bit over this question.”

“Are you telling me that there is something worth worrying?” Sha Man said.

“There is one,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Tell me,” Sha Man said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “I only have a way to hide in, I don’t have any way to get out.”

“Hence even though we can hide for 18 sichen, he will still be able to find us,” Sha Man said.

“By that time,” Lu Xiaofeng continued, “If he wants to kill us, we …”

“For that,” Sha Man cut him off, “You need not worry.”

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because,” Sha Man replied, “After 18 sichen, he will definitely not be here.”

“He has to go?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“He must go,” Sha Man said.

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Because there is something outside waiting for him to attend to,” Sha Man replied.

“Other than murder, what else would require his personal attention that he has to go?” Lu Xiaofeng wondered aloud.

“Nothing,” Sha Man said.

“This time, who is he going to kill?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Anybody deserving his personal attention, naturally is an extraordinary character,” Sha Man said.

“Who is he?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“I don’t know,” Sha Man replied.

Perhaps she really did not know, but perhaps although she did, she was unwilling to tell him. Either way, Lu Xiaofeng did not press. He did not want any woman to betray her former lover for his sake.

Sha Man stared at him. “And now, are you going to turn yourself to something?” she asked.

“What do you think?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“In my opinion,” Sha Man said, “Only dead people can hide inside Gong Jiu’s room in comfort and ease.”

Lu Xiaofeng chuckled. “You forgot something,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Oh?” Sha Man said.

“There are a lot of dead objects,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Not necessarily humans.”

Objects without life are dead objects. Trees have life, but if the tree is chopped off, sawed into boards, and made into a chest, then it becomes a dead object. Therefore, a wooden chest is a dead object.

Along a remote, deep, winding mountain path, ten living persons carrying five big wooden chests trudged by. Apparently the chests were very heavy, everybody was struggling.

Especially the last chest. The two big men carrying this chest were sweating profusely; they were already lagging some ways away. Fortunately, it was already not far from the mouth of the valley.

Right this moment, they saw Sha Man.

Just like a gust of wind, she suddenly appeared, blocking their way. “Do you know me?” she asked.

Of course they did. People who have entered the valley, no matter who, would have stolen a glance toward her direction – at most they only dared to steal two glances on her. Because everybody knew that if the Ninth Young Master ever caught anybody stealing a glance toward her, the Ninth Young Master would be angry.

And nobody dared to provoke the Ninth Young Master to anger.

The two men hung their heads, “What order does Miss Man have?”

“I don’t have any,” Sha Man said, “But the Ninth Young Master does.”

The two men were listening. The Ninth Young Master’s order, no one dared not to listen.

Sha Man said, “He sent me here to tell you to bring this chest into his room.”

Although the order they received previously was definitely not that, nobody dared to doubt, let alone to defy the order.

Everybody knew that whatever Miss Man said, it was no different than if it were the Ninth Young Master himself!

Sha Man said, “Ninth Young Master likes cleanliness, so you’d better find a place where you could give your hands and feet some washing.”

A small stream happened to be nearby, they quickly went over, and as quickly came back. The chest was still lying on the pathway, but Miss Man was gone.

Although she has gone, what she said was still in effect.

It was dark and quiet inside the chest; it had been set down gently.

Outside was full of life and death dangers and crises, yet two persons were in each other’s embrace inside the chest. Have you ever wondered how did it feel?

Perhaps very few people in the world knew how it feels; but Lu Xiaofeng definitely knew, and so did Sha Man.

Because right now they were in each other’s tight embrace, breathing each other breathe.

By the time they could speak up, Sha Man could not help asking, “How did you know he was going to have some chests delivered inland?”

“I have seen clearly that he is a very meticulous person,” Lu Xiaofeng replied, “Moreover, he loves to use gifts to buy people’s hearts. He had not arrived, the chests had already been delivered; what would happen when he finally arrived?”

Sha Man said, “He arrived yesterday, how did you know the chests would be delivered only today?”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “After following him to the sea for many days, those people would quickly be stifled and felt like they were suffocating to death, they would be dying to come ashore. Even if they could not find women, they would be sure to have a good drink. And when they were drunk, they wouldn’t be able to crawl up early in the morning.”

Sha Man said, “Therefore, you have anticipated that the chests would be delivered only this late in the day?”

Lu Xiaofeng chuckled and said, “Of course I was also relying on my luck.”

Sha Man said, “Your luck is pretty good, perhaps it was because you can usually make accurate predictions.”

People who are able to make accurate predictions usually do have good luck. Because only people who are able to make accurate predictions can grab the opportunity. And opportunity is equal to good luck.

Sha Man’s voice was even gentler, “You even predicted that the men who brought the chest in would not know my affair, and that they would definitely obey my orders?”

Naturally Lu Xiaofeng had already predicted that. In this kind of matter, if Gong Jiu himself did not say anything, who would dare to talk?

A proud and conceited man, if his own woman left him, would he announce it to the world? He would rather have other people think that it was he who abandoned the woman, he would rather have other people think that it was he who had a change of heart.

He would rather die than to let other people know the pain of his suffering and the shame of his disgrace.

Lu Xiaofeng understood this feeling, because he himself was also such a person.

Sha Man asked, “But how did you know that the chest would be delivered here safely, that along the way, no one would even question?”

Lu Xiaofeng replied, “Because I can see that people in here don’t like to meddle in other people’s business, especially this kind of trivial matter.”

Sha Man sighed. “Your opinion is correct,” she said, “People in here, no matter what business, everything does have a price.”

Since during the delivery of the chest no one asked any question, now that it was here, naturally no one would ask.

Since Gong Jiu was out hunting them, naturally he would not go back to his house.

The chest has been opened only a crack, they were still in each other’s tight embrace.

They were not eager to go out at all.

“When I die, if Yan Wangye [King of Hell, from Sanskrit Yama Raja] asks me: what I want to be in the next life?”

“You surely want to be a little chick.”

“You got it.”

This chest was really a lot like an egg shell. The egg shell was really safe, warm, and happy.

“I believe that when the chicks were still in the egg shell, they wouldn’t be anxious to get out.”

“Why?”

“Because they knew that as soon as they get out, they would have to grow into big chicken.”

“And usually big chicken soon will turn into crispy fried chicken, braised chicken, or stewed chicken soup.”

“I heard only hens can be cooked into stewed chicken soup.”

“You want to make me into stewed soup?”

“I can’t bear to do that. But you smell much too delicious, much more delicious than crispy fried chicken.”

“You want to eat me?”

“I am dying to eat you.”

The dusk arrived. Two little chicks finally came out of the egg shell.

One male and one female.

Of course the Ninth Young Master’s residence did not look like egg shell at all. It was a magnificent room, with sophisticated and elegant furnishing. The setting sun was shining on the snow-white paper window covering.

“When he is not here, will anybody ever come in?”

“Never.”

These past several years, absolutely no one dared to break into the Ninth Young Master’s house, not even his old man.

He has always been a reclusive man, so his most precious possession must be a mirror.

“Why?”

“Because the only person he truly likes is himself.”

Sure enough, there was a very large mirror in the room. Clearly it was the handicraft of a master artisan, ground from the best bronze material.

“He ground the bronze himself. He considers this as the ‘undoubtedly the best mirror in the world’.”

Next to the mirror hung a sword. The blade was long and narrow, the shape was old, yet elegant.

“This is his sword.”

He was out to kill, but he left his sword behind. He did not need a sword to kill.

Lu Xiaofeng lightly ran his fingertip along the blade of the sword; he slowly said, “I know only one other person whose swordsmanship has also been trained to ‘without sword’ realm.”

“Ximen Chuixue?” Sha Man said.

“You know him?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Sha Man nonchalantly replied, “All I know is that the ‘without sword’ realm is not the highest realm of swordsmanship.”

“Oh?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Sha Man said, “Since we are talking about sword training, why bother inventing the two characters, ‘without sword’?”

Before Lu Xiaofeng could even open his mouth, they suddenly heard someone clapping under the bed.

The clap was very light, but it was more shocking than a clap of thunder.

Lu Xiaofeng quickly turned around. He saw a bald head sticking out from under the bed.

“Honest Monk!”

Lu Xiaofeng had just called out, a sword’s ray flashed, the shiny, flickering sword has already rested on Honest Monk’s neck.

What a fast sword!

The sword hanging by the bronze mirror has left its sheathe and landed in Sha Man’s hand. Her move was so fast that even Lu Xiaofeng was startled.

Naturally Honest Monk was even more scared than him, his face turned deathly pale. With a forced laugh he said, “Actually, Miss did not need to make your move, Monk already knew that Miss is the Number One Swordswoman of this age.”

“You knew?” Sha Man coldly asked.

Honest Monk said, “Although Monk has never eaten pork, I have at least seen how a pig walks. Just now I heard Miss said those words, I already prostrated myself in utmost admiration.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “Turns out Honest Monk also know how kiss @ss,” he said.

Honest Monk said, “Monk did not kiss @ss at all, Monk always speaks the truth.”

Sha Man did not laugh; with a straight face she said, “Too bad Miss always dislikes listening to the truth.”

“What is it that Miss likes to hear?” Honest Monk asked.

“Miss likes to hear people kissing @ss,” Sha Man replied.

Honest Monk winked. He said, “Although Monk cannot kiss @ss, there are many other things that Monk can do.”

“Such as?” Sha Man asked.

Honest Monk said, “I can be the matchmaker, I can be the witness when two people decide to get married. Those are things that Monk is most capable of.”

“Who is getting married? Who needs a matchmaker?” Sha Man asked.

“It’s a couple of little chicks,” Honest Monk replied, “One male, one female.”

Sha Man laughed.

As soon as she laughed, like a slippery fish Honest Monk slipped out from under her sword, and as soon as he was out, he hid himself behind Lu Xiaofeng’s back. “If this little rooster will not marry the little hen, Monk will be the first to raise an objection.”

“Who says I won’t?” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“You are really willing?” Honest Monk asked.

Lu Xiaofeng did not answer him, he only looked at Sha Man quietly.

‘Ding!’ the sword in Sha Man’s hand fell, the two persons suddenly became one.

Honest Monk looked at them. The expression on his face was so weird, it was as if he was about to cry. “Why didn’t Monk become a little rooster?” he muttered, “Why did Monk want to become a monk?”

Surprisingly, there was no wine in that house, not even a drop.

Honest Monk sighed and said, “If a man’s house does not have any wine in it, can the man still be considered a man?”

“So those who don’t drink wine are not men?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Honest Monk said, “Even if he himself does not drink, he should at least have a little wine to invite other people for a drink.”

“So Monk also wants to drink?” Sha Man asked.

“I only want to drink a certain kind of wine,” Honest Monk said.

“Which one?” Sha Man asked.

“Your celebratory wine,” Honest Monk replied. [Translator’s note: orig. 喜酒 (xi jiu), lit. happiness wine, the liquor drunk at wedding feasts.]

Sha Man smiled sweetly. Lu Xiaofeng also chuckled. They suddenly discovered that this monk was really honest, as well as endearing.

Honest Monk said, “Since there is no wine, Monk can swallow my own saliva, it can be considered drinking your celebratory wine.”

He really swallowed his saliva before continuing, “And now, since Monk has already drunk your celebratory wine, if you are thinking of not becoming husband and wife, you can’t.”

Sha Man looked up, she looked at Lu Xiaofeng and said, “Would you say we can or we can’t?”

“We can’t,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

Immediately the two became one.

Honest Monk’s turned into that weird expression again, the one that looked like he was about to cry. “If the two of you keep doing that, aren’t you forcing the Monk to return to secular life?” he said.

The night was deep.

There was lantern in the house, but it was not lighted, it did not need to be lighted.

Lu Xiaofeng did not care. Sha Man did not care.

— If there are true feelings, no stars, no moon, it does not matter. Why would no lantern, no flame matter?

Naturally Honest Monk did not care even more. He happened to be in the position where ‘what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’.

The room was really pitch-black, they could not see anything.

“What are you two doing?” Honest Monk asked.

“Nothing,” Lu Xiaofeng replied.

“Is your mouth free to talk?” Honest Monk asked.

“It is,” Sha Man rushed to answer.

“Since you are free,” Honest Monk said, “Can you accompany the Monk chatting? Can you talk?”

“We can,” Sha Man responded.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “How did Monk hide under the bed?”

Honest Monk said, “Because although the master of this place does not like to drink wine, he loves to drink vinegar [i.e. jealous].”

“Monk is not stupid,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“Monk is annoyingly smart,” Sha Man said.

“But little chicks are not too smart,” Honest Monk said.

“Which part is not too smart?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

Honest Monk said, “Little chicks could have ordered those two idiots to bring the chest back into the boat. Then after less than three to five days, the two chicks can both go home.”

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