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The Silver Hook Gambling House Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – Suddenly Acquiring Ill-gotten Gains

‘Cursing people’ is definitely not something you recommend to others, but it is definitely something that always has a good reason behind it. Anybody who has just spontaneously cursed somebody who he hates most will certainly cheer up, his mood will be happy, just like someone who has had constipation for several days and suddenly he can go freely.

Too bad that Lu Xiaofeng had never been able to maintain this kind of happy mood for too long.

Leaving the inn, he walked in big strides along a dusty road, with yellow sand billowing in the distance. But before he even covered half a li, he suddenly discovered two things that would extremely displease him.

Other than the Sui Han San You and himself, he did not see any other traveler nearby, no more people were following behind him.

Other than a little bit of spare change, which he prepared for tips, not even a wen adorned his pocket.

He always liked company, he liked to see all kinds of people bustling around him. He did not care even if he knew that some of those people bore malicious intentions against him.

Isn’t ‘poverty’ also a loneliness of some kind? Why is it that loneliness always follows poverty?

When you are rich, it is so easy for you to chase loneliness away. But when you are penniless, you will find that loneliness is just like your own shadow, even if you whip it, it would not go away.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. For the first time he realized that the wind blowing straight to his face was really cold.

At lunch Lu Xiaofeng only ate a bowl of sheep’s innards soup and a couple of bread rolls. Those three old freaks were actually ordering four catties of choice cut mutton, five or six stir-fried dishes, and seven, eight fresh wheat steamed buns, plus several pots of wine.

Lu Xiaofeng really wanted to go over and tell them: “You old men eat too much of greasy food, your bellies must be hurting.”

Since the meal was not enjoyable, he should have not left any tip. Too bad that when somebody was used to be a big boss, the big boss attitude could not change even when they had fallen into the bottom of the pot.

Therefore, after paying the bill, the amount of money in his pocket reached a pathetic stage.

Rahasu was still very far on the horizon. He could not steal, he could not swindle some money, it was even less possible for him to beg. If it were someone else in his place, there is no way that person would have continued walking this road.

Fortunately Lu Xiaofeng was not someone else.

Lu Xiaofeng was Lu Xiaofeng. No matter what difficulty he encountered, he always seemed to find a solution.

When the dusk fell, the wind was blowing colder; the road was devoid of any travelers.

With his hands behind his back, Lu Xiaofeng walked leisurely, as if he had just finished a very satisfying meal and had enjoyed good wine, and right now he was strolling along the busiest street in Beijing, enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Although the bread rolls in his tummy had already been digested long time ago, he was laughing in his heart; because no matter how slow he walked, Sui Han San You could only follow behind him nicely.

Everybody knew Lu Xiaofeng was more slippery than a fish, he was more sneaky than ghost. If they let down their guard in the slightest, they could forget even seeing his shadow. If he did not stop for dinner, they certainly did not dare to stop for dinner.

However, travelling this dusty road on empty stomach, with only northwest wind for them to drink, definitely would not make them too happy.

In all their lives Sui Han San You had never received this kind of treatment from anybody. Mr. Gu Song finally could not bear anymore. With a wave of his long sleeve he flew like a floating cloud and landed in front of Lu Xiaofeng.

Lu Xiaofeng was all smiles. “Why are you stopping me? Am I walking too fast for you?”

With an ashen face Mr. Gu Song asked, “I only want to ask you a question.”

He was not someone who had a good sense of humor, much less right now that what was left in his stomach was anger. “I am asking you, do you know what time is it now?”

Lu Xiaofeng blinked his eyes several times. “Looks like now is dinner time.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Since you know it, why don’t you hurry up and find a place to eat?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because I am not happy.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Happy or not, you must eat.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed: “Being forced to have sex and being forced to gamble I have heard, but I have never heard anybody being forced to eat.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Now you have.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Whether I eat or not, why do you care?”

Mr. Gu Song: “Everybody has to eat. Don’t tell me you are not human?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “That’s right, everybody has to eat. But there are kind of people who cannot eat.”

Mr. Gu Song: “What kind of people?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “People who are too broke to eat.”

Finally Mr. Gu Song understood. With a gleam in his eyes he said, “And if someone is inviting you to eat?”

Lu Xiaofeng said lightly, “It depends.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Depends on what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It depends on whether he invites me wholeheartedly.”

Mr. Gu Song: “If I wholeheartedly want to invite you, will you go?”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled, “If you really want to invite me, certainly it is improper for me to reject.”

Mr. Gu Song stared at him. “You don’t have money to eat and want to be invited, yet you don’t want to open your mouth and ask, but waiting for me to open my mouth and ask you first.

Lu Xiaofeng said indifferently, “Because I know you will definitely come to ask. And since you have come, not only you must take care of my meals, you have to take care of my lodging as well.”

Mr. Gu Song fixed his gaze on him for half a day before he finally heaved a long sigh and said, “The rumor floating around the Jianghu is truly not wrong. Dealing with Lu Xiaofeng is really not easy.”

Good dish, good wine, good tea.

Mr. Gu Song: “Drink!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I don’t drink a little.”

Mr. Gu Song: “If you want to drink then you must drink until you are satisfied, right?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Not only you need to be satisfied, you must drink it fast, too.”

He really filled his cup full of wine, then raising his head, he poured the wind into his mouth and swallowed.

The way he drank his wine was not really ‘drink’, but actually ‘pour’. Although there are many people in the world who can ‘drink’ wine, not too many can actually ‘pour’ wine into their mouths.

Mr. Gu Song looked at him. For the second time there was a gleam in his eyes. He also filled his cup full, and downed it.

Unexpectedly, his drinking method was also ‘pour’.

Lu Xiaofeng cheered in his heart: “This old fellow’s pouring skill is really not bad.”

Mr. Gu Song drew a smug look on his face. “Drinking wine not only must be fast, it has to be painful too.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Painful?”

Mr. Gu Song: “Painful to drink. Three cups or five cups, even if you can drink faster, it’s nothing.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “How many can you drink?”

Mr. Gu Song: “Drinking much is also considered nothing. Drinking much without getting drunk, now that can be considered a real skill.”

This cold and arrogant old loner, when he chatted about wine, it looked like he had changed into a different man.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. “How much can you drink without getting drunk?”

Mr. Gu Song: “I don’t know.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Are you saying that you have never been drunk?”

Mr. Gu Song did not deny at all, he asked back, “How much can you drink without getting drunk?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I only drink one cup and I felt a bit tipsy already. I drink more cups and I still feel the same.”

For the third time a gleam appeared on Mr. Gu Song’s eyes. “So you have never really been drunk?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not deny; he simply raised his head and poured another cup of wine down his throat.

For a chess player, meeting a worthy match is a very interesting matter; for a drinker, meeting a worthy match is equally satisfying.

For people who don’t drink wine, seeing this drinking match was a very senseless matter.

Qing Zhu [lit. green bamboo] and Han Mei [cold plum] were not interested in watching them, their expressions showed nothing. They stood slowly and walked out the door.

The autumn night was as cold as the water.

Two men, with their hands behind their backs, looked up to the sky for a long time before Qing Zhu slowly asked, “How long has it been since Lao Da [lit. old big or old first, eldest child in a family or the leader of a group] got drunk the last time?”

Han Mei: “Fifty-three days.”

Qing Zhu sighed: “I’ve known it all along that he will be very drunk one time today.”

After a long time Han Mei also sighed and said, “Since for how long have you not been drunk?”

Qing Zhu: “Twenty-three years.”

Han Mei: “After the three of us got really drunk that day, you have never touched a single drop of wine?”

Qing Zhu: “Among the three of us, as long as there is one who’s always sober, we can live a bit longer.”

Han Mei: “Two people sober even better.”

Qing Zhu: “Therefore, you also have never touched a drop in more than twenty years.”

Han Mei: “Twenty one years and seventeen days.”

Qing Zhu smiled, “While in fact your alcohol capacity is greater than Lao Da.”

Han Mei also smiled, “The one with the greatest alcohol capacity is certainly you.”

Qing Zhu: “But I know that in this world there is no one who has never been drunk.”

Han Mei nodded. “That’s right,” he said, “If you drink, you will get drunk.”

If you drink, you will get drunk. This saying has never changed from time immemorial. Therefore, Lu Xiaofeng was drunk.

The room was very spacious, with a very big fire in the fireplace. Lu Xiaofeng was lying down, stark naked on a very big bed.

He always thought that sleeping with your clothes on was just like farting with your pants down. Not only it was troublesome, it was also totally superfluous.

It doesn’t matter who you are, when you drunk, you would get a very deep sleep. Lu Xiaofeng was not an exception. It’s just that he always woke up earlier than most people.

Right now outside the window was still a layer of darkness, the room was also dark, but he was already wide awake. In the face of this cavernous emptiness, the boundless darkness surrounding him, he was only staring blankly as if his soul had left him.

He remembered a lot of matters; many of those matters he could not tell others, not only that, he did not even want to remember those matters. Perhaps because he wanted to forget these matters that he intentionally challenged Gu Song to a drinking contest; he deliberately wanted to be drunk.

But as soon as he opened his eyes, he would remember these matters.

Why is it that things that should be forgotten always come back to haunt you? Why is it that things that should be remembered always slip out of your mind?

Lu Xiaofeng sighed quietly. He got up without making a noise, as if he was afraid he might wake up the person sleeping right next to him.

Was there anybody sleeping right next to him?

Wasn’t he afraid of waking himself up?

Right this moment he suddenly heard a soft sigh. Although there was not anybody sleeping by his side, there was somebody in the room.

In the darkness he seemed to see a vague outline of a shadow, sitting motionlessly on a chair opposite his bed. He did not know when the person came; he also did not know how long the person had been sitting there.

“Being drunk along the country road, he cannot bear to continue his journey,” that person sighed, and then continued, “But if this road is travelled too much, it’s like all the interest for it is gone.” [Translator’s note: this must be a quote from some famous verse, but I do not have the ability to provide you with the exact reference. Plus, I am never good at translating poems or quotations, so the above translation might be off. For these, please accept my apology.]

Lu Xiaofeng laughed.

In circumstances where everyone else was not able to laugh, he would always be able to laugh.

With a smile he said, “I am surprised Sire is a very educated man.”

The man: “I do not dare. It’s just that sometimes my heart is moved and I could not help but blurt it out.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Sire came in the middle of the night, I am sure not to say these words for me to listen?”

The man: “I do have something else to say.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And you insist that I listen?”

The man: “Seems like that. Yes.”

Although he was speaking softly in an even tempo, his voice was actually piercing with sharpness that was sharper than the tip of the needle.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed and simply lay back down on the bed. “The matter that I have to hear, most probably is not something too pleasant. If I can listen lying down, why would I have to sit?”

The man: “Listening while lying down, aren’t you showing too much disrespect toward your guest?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I believe Sire is not my guest. I have never even seen Sire’s appearance.”

The man: “If you want to see me, it’s very easy.”

He coughed lightly once, and the door behind him immediately opened. A flicker of flame appeared as a lantern was lit. Someone dressed in black, even wore black cloth mask, with a stature as slender as a bald eagle, standing straight like a javelin, suddenly appeared from the darkness.

His hands were holding a bronze lantern. There was a sword scabbard hanging on his back. The lantern looked exquisite, antique and elegant; the sword also looked exquisite, antique and elegant, making him to look like someone who had been banished in hell for many years and then suddenly received the devil’s spell to hasten back to bring disaster to the world of the living as an evil apparition; so much so that the lantern seemed to emit an eerie bluish green light, bringing an unspeakable gloomy feeling into the room.

The man sitting on the chair also appeared suddenly under the light.

The fire in the fireplace was already out.

Dark and gloomy light, dark and gloomy room, dark and gloomy man.

His attire was very elegant, stunningly beautiful; his expression looked noble and graceful. His eyes fiery, with the dignity of one who used to give orders. But all in all, he still looked dark and gloomy, so much so that he looked more frightening than the man in black standing behind him.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Not bad, not bad indeed.”

The man: “Not bad? I do not look bad?”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed: “Sire’s appearance surely does not differ too much to the one I’ve always imagined.”

The man: “Do you know who I am?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Jia Leshan?”

The man let out a breath softly. “You have seen me?”

Lu Xiaofeng shook his head.

The man: “But you actually recognize me.”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. “Other than Jia Leshan, who in their right mind would brave the cold to look for me in this desolate place? Other than Jia Leshan, who would have an ancient-sword-wielding, internal-energy-expert Wulin master like this as an escort?”

Jia Leshan laughed out loud.

His laughter was similar to his personality, carrying that kind of sharp, oppressive and mocking sentiment. “Good, Lu Xiaofeng is not ashamed of being Lu Xiaofeng, you indeed have keen eyes.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I do not dare. It’s just that sometimes I see something and I could not help but blurt it out.”

Jia Leshan’s laughter stopped. He stared at him for a very long time before finally he slowly said, “Do you also know why I came?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I would rather hear it directly from you.”

Jia Leshan: “I want you to come back.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Come back? Where should I come back?”

Jia Leshan: “Come back to the soft and red wide-world of luxury, come back to those bright and glamorous restaurants and casinos, to the perfume and cosmetic-filled red light district. Those are places Lu Xiaofeng should go.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed and said, “That’s true, I also want to come back very much, it’s just that …”

Jie Leshan cut him off, “I also know that recently you have been strapped and short of cash; therefore, I have already prepared something to tide you over.”

He coughed again, and an old servant with long white hair, followed by two big men carrying a huge chest, walked into the room.

The chest was brimming with ingots of dazzling yellow gold and white silver.

Lu Xiaofeng frowned. “Where did this much money come from? Isn’t it troublesome?”

Jia Leshan: “I understand that banknotes are more convenient, but they are not as real as gold and silver in the eyes of the beholder. If you want to move others’ heart, you must use quite the real thing.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Make sense.”

Jia Leshan: “You are willing to accept?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “The money is moving the heart, why am I not willing to accept?”

Jia Leshan: “You are also willing to go back?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I am not.”

He smiled, and then continued: “Accepting is one thing, coming back is another. These two things are basically unrelated to one another.”

Jia Leshan laughed.

Unexpectedly, he was also the kind of man who could laugh when there was no reason for him to laugh.

“This is the enticement by profit.” He smiled again, “For a man like you, I also know that this kind of enticement by profit will not be enough.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What else did you prepare?”

Jia Leshan: “Profit is not enough, naturally there is intimidation.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Very good.”

The man in black suddenly said, “Very bad.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Bad?”

Man in black: “Sire’s reputation covers the imperial court and the ordinary people, you make friends with everybody everywhere, even the current Emperor is good to you. If I kill a man like you, my trouble will not be a few.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And thus you don’t want to kill me?”

Man in black: “I don’t.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I happen to be not willing to die either.”

Man in black: “It’s a pity that once my sword leaves its sheath, it must find blood.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed again. “Is this intimidation?”

Man in black: “This is not only a warning.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And after a warning?”

The man in black slowly lay down the bronze lantern, and slowly raised his hand. With a sudden ringing noise, the sword had left its scabbard.

A pale sword, as if it longed to drink the enemy’s blood to its heart’s content.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed: “A truly rare hundreds-of-years-old weapon.”

Man in black: “Are you sighing for yourself?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “No.”

Man in black: “No?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I am sighing for you. I am happy for you. When I am happy for others, I will also sigh.”

Man in black: “Oh?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You are wielding such a divinely sharp weapon, yet are willing to be a lackey for people like Jia Lezhan. You came all the way from Jiangnan, yet you did not meet that friend of mine at all. Your luck is really not bad.”

Man in black: “And if I met that friend of yours, then what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “If you did, then at this moment this sword was already his, and you had entered the yellow dust.”

Man in black laughed coldly. “The tone of your voice is certainly not small.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It is not my tone, it is his.”
Man in black: “Who is he?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Ximen Chuixue.”

Ximen Chuixue!

Long white robe floating like the cloud, a drop of blood slowly dripping from the tip of his sword …

Sword’s ray like the lightning, eyes as cold as the stars.

The blood dripped down, splashing …

The veins appeared on the hand-holding sword of the man in black. The pupils of his eyes suddenly narrowed. “Too bad you are not Ximen Chuixue!”

In this split second, his sword thrust forward, the sword’s ray was like a rainbow, the sword’s aura was bone-chilling!

Astonishing power, from an astonishing position, with an astonishing speed!

Such a sharp sword, thrust with such speed, its power was not inferior to a lightning bolt or thunder.

Who in the world is able to resist a lightning bolt or a thunder?

Lu Xiaofeng!

He was still calmly lying down on the bed, only his hand was stretched out from inside the cotton quilt, using two fingers he clamped down on the blade of the sword.

The most amazing in the world, peerless, unparalleled!

Incomparable and unfathomable skill!

As soon as the two fingers clamped down, the sword’s ray disappeared, the sword’s aura vanished.

Also in this split second, one of the roof-tiles was suddenly lifted up, someone hang upside-down like a monkey. His hand waved, thirty seven cold stars shot down like rain toward Lu Xiaofeng.

It was beyond his anticipation, a murderous act you cannot guard against!

But a series of ‘puff, puff, puff!’ was heard as all the thirty seven secret projectiles hit the cotton quilt shielding Lu Xiaofeng.

They only hit the cotton quilt.

Such a close distance; the secret projectiles ricocheted and scattered all over the room.

The man in black looked at his clamped sword, the man hanging upside-down from the beam sighed in admiration: “I have long heard about Lu Xiaofeng’s most amazing finger skill in the world, who would have thought that he still have such an astonishing internal energy.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “Actually, I am also surprised. When one is faced with a life and death situation, one’s strength can grow unusually big.”

The man in black suddenly said, “This is not mere strength, this is real qi [chi] and real power.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Real qi [chi] and real power is also strength. If you have no strength, how can you have real qi [chi] and real power?” He stretched out another finger and lightly traced the blade of the sword. He sighed and said, “Good sword!”

Man in black: “You …”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed again. “I am not Ximen Chuixue; therefore, your sword is still yours, and your life is also still yours.”

Jia Leshan also laughed.

“That was intimidation.” He was still smiling, “Profit did not work, intimidation also failed. What do you say I should do?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Why don’t you go back?”

Jia Leshan did not seem to hear him, he continued, “As the saying goes, ‘It is difficult for a hero to pass a beautiful woman barrier’, Sire is without a doubt a hero; where is the beautiful woman?”

The beautiful woman was outside. With the blowing wind, there was a faint trace of delicate fragrance.

The old servant, who kept his fingernails very long, used a silver ear-spoon to pick the wick of the bronze lantern so that the light was brighter. From outside the door walked a middle-aged woman wearing a pale-colored plain robe, holding the hand of a young maiden wearing a purple gown.

The middle-aged woman was slender with white skin, her figure was graceful, with jet-black hair neatly combed. Under the lantern light, her complexion looked as delicate and tender as that of a young woman. All who had seen her agreed that she was definitely a beautiful woman in her youth. Although she was now middle-aged, she still possessed the charm to make men’s hearts beat faster.

Sometimes, this kind of mature and experienced woman was more alluring to a man than a young girl.

But, standing next to the young maiden dressed in purple, all her charms and brilliance completely failed to attract other people’s attention.

No one could describe this young maiden’s beauty; just like no one could describe why the hearts of men would tremble like the first breeze of spring wind blowing across the lake and rippling the water.

She lowered her head, standing silently over yonder, quietly casting a glance toward Lu Xiaofeng.

She did not even move her fingertips; using only her eyes she calmly gazed at Lu Xiaofeng.

Lu Xiaofeng already felt a wave of bizarre change in his heart, so much so that his body was also giving a strange reaction to this bizarre change.

There seemed to be an invisible flame in her eyes, a flame that burned a man’s desire.

Only after looking at this young maiden did Lu Xiaofeng finally understand which kind of woman can be considered a natural extraordinarily beautiful woman.

Jia Leshan was sitting comfortably on a chair, enjoying looking at Lu Xiaofeng’s facial expression. “She is called Chuchu [lit. lovely/cute],” he said slowly, “Don’t you think she is really cute and moving?”

What else could Lu Xiaofeng do but to agree?

Jia Leshan exhaled softly. “Very well,” he said, “Anytime you are willing to go back, she will go with you, along with this chest.”

Lu Xiaofeng also exhaled softly. “In that case, you’d better tell her to wait for me here.”

Jia Leshan: “When are you going back?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “As soon as I find the Luocha Tablet, I will go back immediately.”

Jie Leshan’s countenance changed. “What does it take to make you agree? What is it that you actually want?”

Lu Xiaofeng rolled his eyes. “Originally, I want nothing. But now I remember that I do want something.”

Jia Leshan: “What is it that you want?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I want Sikong Zhaixing’s nose.”

Jia Leshan was startled. “Gold and beauty you don’t want, why do you want his nose?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because I want to see, after his nose is gone, will he be able to masquerade as a deity or dress up as a ghost and fooling people everywhere.”

Jia Leshan stared at him. Suddenly he burst into laughter.

His laughter had changed; now it was bold, clear and bright. Laughing with his face up he said, “Good, good kid, I am surprised this time I still didn’t fool you. How did you find out?”

By saying those words, he obviously acknowledged that he was indeed Sikong Zhaixing.

Lu Xiaofeng nonchalantly said, “I can smell your thief smell.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “I have a thief smell?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It doesn’t matter whether it is a big thief or a little thief, all thieves have thief smell on them. You are the king of thieves, naturally your smell is heavier. Besides …”

Sikong Zhaixing could not bear not to ask: “Besides what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Although I was drunk and lost my consciousness, other than people who used to commit petty burglary like you, everybody else should give up the idea of slipping into my room and stealing my clothes.”

His clothes were originally hanging on the head of the bed, but now they were gone.

Sikong Zhaixing laughed: “I was only trying to help you find a reason to hide underneath the blanket; who wants your clothes?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “So you really don’t want my head?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Your head is too big; it is too heavy to carry, and takes too much space to be kept at home.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What do you want, then?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Someone wants to look at you.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You haven’t seen me enough already?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “If you think it was me who want to look at you, you are wrong. I only need to look at you one time, and I am already full in the stomach.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Who wants to look at me?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Jia Leshan.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “The real Jia Leshan?”

Sikong Zhaixing nodded. “He wants to know you, what kind of man actually is this four-eyebrowed freak? How good you really are?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Why didn’t he personally come?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “He is already here.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “In this room?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “In this room. Let’s see if you can spot him.”

Altogether, there were nine people in the room.

Other than Sikong Zhaixing and Lu Xiaofeng, there was the man in black who wielded the ancient sword, and then there were the secret projectile expert who was still hanging upside-down from the beam, the old servant whose fingernails were very long, the young maiden, the middle-aged pretty woman, and the two big men who brought the chest in.

Among these seven people, which one was the real Jia Leshan?

Lu Xiaofeng looked up and down at the man in black, sizing him up. “You wield an ancient sword, your martial art skill is not weak, you do not dare to let your true identity known, could you be the real Jia Leshan?”

The man in black did not open his mouth.

But Lu Xiaofeng suddenly shook his head. “No, can’t be.”

The man in black could not bear not to ask, “Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because although your swordsmanship is acute, swift and fierce, you lack certain aggressiveness.”

Man in black: “How do you know the real Jia Leshan would have certain aggressiveness?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “If he didn’t have certain aggressiveness, how could he dominate the four seas in the past, to be in command of a group of warriors?”

The man in black could not say another word.

The second one Lu Xiaofeng sized up was the secret projectile expert who was hanging upside-down on the roof like a monkey. But he only looked at him once and immediately shook his head. “No, you can’t be him.”

“Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because a man like Jia Leshan will not possibly hang upside-down on the roof like a monkey.”

The man also could not say another word.

Next, it was the old servant with very long fingernails’ turn.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Based on your position, you should not have kept your fingernails that long. You raised the wick of the lantern with a silver ear-spoon, which, not only it was exquisitely made, it is also used by veteran Jianghu people to test for poison. Your expression is adequate, your footsteps steady, your internal energy must be not weak.”

The old servant’s expression did not change. “Could it be that you think Lao Xiu [lit. old rotten – a modest way to refer to one’s self] is Jia Leshan?”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. “You can’t be.”

The old servant: “Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because you are not fit.”

The old servant’s countenance changed: “I am not fit?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “In the past Jia Leshan dominated the sea, nowadays he is also a prominent figure in his area. Whether there is poison in his food or drink, naturally it will be tested by his numerous attendants; why would he personally carry this kind of knick-knack?”

The old servant also could not say another word.

The two big men carrying the chest were even more impossible; their rough hands and feet, their uncouth appearance lacked of grandeur, anybody would be able to see it instantly.

Now Lu Xiaofeng was staring at the young maiden in purple.

Sikong Zhaixing: “Do you think she could be Jia Leshan?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It’s possible.”

Sikong Zhaixing almost screamed: “It is possible?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Based on her beauty and charm [Translator’s note: in Chinese, the actual characters used were ‘mei li’ and ‘mei li’. The first ‘mei li’ (美麗) means beauty, the second ‘mei li’ (麗力) means ‘demon/elf power’.], indeed she can make men to grovel under her skirt, willingly do whatever she bids them to do. During the last several hundred years, among the pirates dominating the oceans, there was one ‘overturning-the-state, causing-the-downfall-of-a-nation’ kind of outstandingly beautiful woman; it’s just too bad that …”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Too bad what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Too bad that her age is too young. At most she could only be Jia Leshan’s daughter.”

Sikong Zhaixing looked at him. Unexpectedly, he could not hide the feeling of admiration and respect in his eyes. “In that case, only one person left.”

The only one left was that middle-aged beautiful woman.

“Could she be Jia Leshan?”

“Of course not.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Jia Leshan dominated the oceans thirty years ago, now he is at least fifty, sixty years old.”

The middle-aged woman looked no more than forty years old.

Lu Xiaofeng: “It was said that not only Jia Leshan possessed an inborn supernatural power, his bravery also exceeded that of ten thousand men. During the struggle over the domination of the oceans in the past, he would always be the first to charge the enemy, his bravery was uncontested.”

While the middle-aged woman looked extremely gentle, extremely weak.

Sikong Zhaixing smiled: “Although your explanation made a lot of sense, you have actually forgotten the most important point.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Oh?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “You have forgotten that Jia Leshan is a great man, while this madam is a woman.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “That is an inconsequential point.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Oh?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Nowadays, the number of Jianghu people who are adept in the art of disguise is increasing daily. Men masquerade as women, women dress-up as men; it doesn’t mean anything.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “No matter what, you definitely believe she can’t be the Jia Leshan.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It is impossible.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “But I know for sure that Jia Leshan is in this room. If the seven of them are not Jia Leshan, then where is Jia Leshan?”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “You should not have asked that question.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Why shouldn’t I?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because you also know that the things of the world are just like a game of chess, the changes are extremely numerous. Many things that should not happen have actually happened, many things that are impossible to do have been done. Even the vast ocean can be turned into a mulberry orchard; much less other matters?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Therefore …”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Therefore, although this madam can’t be Jia Leshan, she actually is.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Are you saying that she is a man dressed-up as a woman?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Hmm.”

Sikong Zhaixing laughed. “Jia Leshan dominated the seven seas, and was feared by pirates everywhere. Obviously his appearance was that of a beastly real man. If he looked this delicate, how could the seafaring warriors submit to him?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Perhaps you have forgotten his nickname in the years gone by. I have not.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Why don’t you tell me?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “In the years gone by, he was known as Iron-faced Dragon King, because just like the famous general of the former dynasty, Di Qing, whenever he charged and broke through the enemy line, he would always wear a ferocious looking bronze mask on his face.”

Unexpectedly, Sikong Zhaixing also could not say another word.

The middle-aged woman sighed and said, “Good, good eyesight.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It’s not too bad, I think I can pass a casual inspection.”

The middle-aged woman: “That’s right, I am Jia Leshan, the Iron-faced Dragon King of the years gone by, and the Jiangnan’s benevolent warrior of today.”

When he said the word ‘Jia Leshan’, the graceful-attitude of his face turned as cold as the autumn frost; when he said the word ‘Iron-faced Dragon King’, his eyes were as sharp as the blade of a saber. When he finished speaking, he had completely turned into a different individual.

Although his clothing and facial appearance did not change at all, his expression and aura had completely changed. He was like a sharp weapon drawn out of its scabbard; even Lu Xiaofeng was able to feel the murderous aura surrounding him!

The Wulin warriors who killed people as if they are cutting grass are just like sharp swords; they have this murderous aura around their persons.

He started at Lu Xiaofeng, and then continued, “But I still don’t understand, how did you see through me?”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled: “Because of her.”

He was looking at Chuchu, the heart-moving Chuchu. Each time he looked at her, his eyes were full of admiration and passion.

But Jia Leshan’s eyes were full of suspicious and anger. “Because of her? Did she give you a hint?”

Looking at Jia Leshan’s expression, Lu Xiaofeng laughed even happier. He lightly said, “I don’t care what you think. If she wasn’t here, I would never guess you are Jia Leshan.”

Jia Leshan’s hand, which was holding Chuchu, suddenly tightened. Immediately Chuchu’s beautiful face showed some pain.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed inwardly. He had just realized the relationship between those two people. Ferocious and cunning old fox, gentle and beautiful little white rabbit. Greedy hawk, little canary which lost its freedom …

He could not bear to see her suffer much longer; thereupon he explained: “Such a beautiful girl like her, wherever she goes, men would not bear not to give her a glance or two.”

Jia Leshan: “Humph!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But the men here actually did not look at her, so much so that nobody even dares to give her a glance. By nature, women like to be looked at by men. Yet the men here did not dare to look at her, obviously not because they are afraid she might get angry, but because they are afraid of you. Therefore …”

Jia Leshan: “Therefore what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Therefore, I asked myself: the men in here are not easily intimidated by others; why do they fear you? Is it possible that you are the Jia Leshan who kills without batting an eye?”

Jia Leshan stared at him. Suddenly he burst into laughter. “Good! Well said! Good thinking!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You came here not to listen to me, but to see me, you want to know what kind of man I am.”

Jia Leshan: “Correct.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Well, you have seen me now.”

Jia Leshan: “Correct.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What kind of person am I?”

Jia Leshan: “You are a smart person.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed: “Good! Good thinking!”

Jia Leshan: “You are not only smart, but strong-willed as well. No matter what, it would be very difficult to move you. I think that if you are determined to do a certain thing, you would definitely disregard hundreds of obstacles and make an all-out effort to accomplish it.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Good! Well said!”

Jia Leshan: “You will make a very good friend, but also a very frightening adversary.”

His saber-blade-sharp eyes were fixed on Lu Xiaofeng. “It’s a pity that you are not my friend, therefore, you must die.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I must die?”

Jia Leshan coldly said, “You must die.”

The night was growing deeper, the wind was growing cold.

The man in black was still standing straight up like a javelin over yonder. The white-haired old servant took out a small file from his pocket and leisurely filing his long nails. Nobody knew when he jumped down, but the man hanging on the beam was already standing on the ground without creating any noise.

Jia Leshan: “Indeed you have not misjudged people. These three men are truly not to be trifled with. A moment ago you have tasted a stance of Lao San’s [lit. ol’ three, the third] killer sword and Lao Er’s [lit. ol’ two, the second] skill of man tian hua yu [flower rain filling the sky]. If Lao Da [the oldest] also joined in, the situation would be different.”

Lu Xiaofeng looked at that white-haired old servant. “You must be the Lao Da.”

The white-haired old servant laughed coldly. Bending his fingers, the three-inch long nail on his middle finger coiled in unexpectedly, just like a flexible noodle; as it sprang back out, a ‘swish’ was heard, as a line of wind flew out of his fingernail and pierced the window paper about seven, eight feet away.

If this nail pierced a human’s body, what would the outcome be?

Lu Xiaofeng could not restrain from shouting praises: “Good! Good tan zhi shen tong [divine flicking finger]; really worthy to be called Huashan’s special skill.”

The old servant coldly said, “Your eyesight is indeed not bad.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. “Kongtong’s killer sword, Xin Shi Niang School’s man tian hua yu, plus Huashan’s tan zhi shen tong. Looks like I really cannot escape from death today.”

Suddenly Sikong Zhaixing laughed. “Others say your eyesight is not bad, but I should say that your eyesight is not good.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Oh?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “You only recognize those three’s martial art origins, but forgot that there are two even more frightening people.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I have not forgotten.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “You do not count me?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I don’t.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because in my eyes, not only you are not frightening, you are actually very loveable.”

Sikong Zhaixing laughed.

Lu Xiaofeng: “You didn’t think I would say that you are loveable, did you?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “I also did not think that you would consider this Miss Chuchu as frightening.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed: “I can also see that she is loveable.”

Isn’t it true that loveable people are usually also frightening?

Perhaps you do not understand this, but when you really fall in love with someone, I am sure you will understand my meaning.

Sikong Zhaixing: “There is a saying that I am sure you haven’t heard yet.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What saying?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Cute [orig. ‘chuchu’] and moving, snatch one’s life pursue one’s soul.”

Lu Xiaofeng turned his head to look at Chuchu. He shook his head and said, “I don’t believe you have the ability to snatch one’s life pursue one’s soul.”

Chuchu smiled sweetly, “Neither do I.”

Her smile was like the first bloom of a spring flower, her voice was like a Black-naped Oriole [Oriolus chinensis, a songbird] flying out the valley, but her hand was more venomous than a rattlesnake.

She made her move when her smile was the sweetest; a golden light flashed, like a lightning it went straight toward Lu Xiaofeng’s throat.

The weapon she used was the hairpin on her hair.

Lu Xiaofeng was ready to clamp it down; his fingers had never failed.

But this time, as he was stretching his hand out, he pulled it back instantly, because on this golden flash, he discovered that there were countless thorns, as fine as cow’s hair, on the golden hairpin. If he continued clamping, the golden hairpin would definitely break, but the fine thorns would certainly prick his hand.

The thorns must be poisonous. Chuchu definitely was not the first one among the enemies who had used this kind of tactic to deal with him.

Lu Xiaofeng was able to live well ‘till now, it certainly was not entirely due to his good luck.

His eyes and his reaction were quicker; once his hand was pulled back, his body also slid away. ‘Swish, swish!’ the hairpin streaked over his neck.

Chuchu flipped her wrist, the hairpin also followed.

The hairpin was short and agile, and hence the changes were certainly very quick. In an instant she had stabbed twenty seven stances, each stance came from a very difficult angle for the opponent to evade; each stab aimed at vital point.

The hairpin in the hand of this cute and moving young woman was indeed far more frightening than the sharp sword in the hand of the man in black.

Only, it was a pity that the opponent she met was Lu Xiaofeng.

Her movements were fast, Lu Xiaofeng dodged even faster. She stabbed twenty seven times, Lu Xiaofeng evaded twenty six times. Suddenly he flipped his hand and grabbed her delicate, beautiful and tender wrist.

The wrist was not broken. Lu Xiaofeng had always been a man who ‘pity fragrance and compassionate toward jade’, how could he have the heart to act cruelly?

But her heart was cruel enough. With a twist of her waist she suddenly launched a fierce kick toward Lu Xiaofeng’s groin.

In all honesty, it was not a move a virtuous young woman should put forth. Nobody would guess that such a gentle loveable girl would put forth such a malicious move.

But obviously Lu Xiaofeng had anticipated this movement, because he gently twisted her wrist and flung her away, so that when her foot had just about to kick, her body had already been thrown away. Struggling hard to turn her body over in the air, she landed on Jia Leshan’s bosom.

Jia Leshan knitted his eyebrows: “Are you injured?”

Surprisingly, the tone of his voice was very gentle.

Chuchu shook her head, she slowly slid down from Jia Leshan’s bosom. Suddenly, with a backhand movement the golden hairpin in her hand went straight into Jia Leshan’s chest.

This change was completely beyond Lu Xiaofeng’s anticipation; much less for Jia Leshan, even in his wildest dreams he had never thought this could happen.

It was undoubtedly a fatal strike!

But Jia Leshan was worthy to be called a formidable character of the present age. In the face of death his mind stayed clear, he was still able to make his move. Furthermore, once he made his move, he was able to grip Chuchu’s throat tightly.

Chuchu was so scared that her face turned scarlet; her throat did not stop making ‘ge ge’ noises.

Jia Leshan’s hands tightened; with a fierce grin he roared, “Lowly woman, I’ll take your …”

He had not finished speaking when with a ‘zip’ noise a three cun and three fen [1 cun is approximately 1 inch, 1 fen is approximately 33mm or about 1/8 inch] long fingernail had already pierced the ‘yu shu’ [lit. jade comb] acupoint on the back of his head.

This was also a fatal strike!

Jia Leshan’s hands loosened; he roared as he turned around and pounced on that white-haired old servant.

But as he was turning around, a burst of objects splitting the air; thirteen cold stars simultaneously hit him on his back. A pale sword also came in lightning-fast speed, piercing his waist.

As soon as their strike succeeded, four people leaped back instantly, retreated into the four corners of the room.

When the sword was pulled out, blood spurted out. Surprisingly, Jia Leshan had not fallen down. His very good looking face had turned unspeakably and hideously frightening. His pair of charming eyes also bulged out, staring at those four people. “You … why did you do it?” he said in a raspy voice.

The man in black gripped his sword so tightly that the blue veins on the back of his hand popped out, his knuckles also turned white from excessive force, but his trembling did not stop. The old servant and the man who hang from the beam were also trembling incessantly.

They were so shaken that they could not speak.

The one who could speak was, surprisingly, Chuchu. Biting her lip, she sneered and said, “You should understand why we did this.”

Jia Leshan sighed, with his last breath he said, “I don’t understand …”

Those words were spoken with a weakening voice so that by the end, his voice turned into a mere sigh.

He did not understand. Even in his death he did not understand.

The lantern gradually dimmed.

There was not a single noise in the room, as if all breathing and heartbeats had stopped.

Jia Leshan had fallen on his own pool of blood.

He came suddenly, he died abruptly.

Lu Xiaofeng loosened his tight fist; he suddenly realized that his own palms were drenched in cold sweat.

The first to speak was Chuchu. Was it because by nature women’s tongues are more dexterous and flexible than men’s?

She turned around to face Lu Xiaofeng: “Surely you didn’t think that we might kill him.”

Lu Xiaofeng concurred. He thought that in a matter like this, it would be hard for anybody to imagine this might happen.

Chuchu: “Do you know why we wanted to kill him?”

Lu Xiaofeng hesitated – an unmatched marriage relation would always bring about tragedy. It was not that he did not know this fact, but he would rather hear her say it with her own mouth.

Chuchu’s face appeared grieved and anger. “He used force to hold me captive, he coerced me to be his play thing. He also blackmailed them and forced them to be his lackeys. We had always wanted to kill him, but it was a pity that so far we could not find the opportunity.”

Without a doubt Jia Leshan was an extremely frightening man; if they did not have at least ninety percent confidence of success, they certainly would not dare to act rashly.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Could it be that this time I gave you a good opportunity?”

Chuchu nodded her head. “And that’s why not only we are very appreciative, we are also prepared to repay you.”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled. When the word ‘repay’ came from a woman’s lips, it usually carried a different meaning.

But Chuchu’s expression was very somber as she said, “Our mission is to find the Luocha Tablet, yet we also know that your chance of success is next to nothing, because our current situation is still better than yours.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Oh?”

Chuchu: “If you wish, we can do everything within our power to help you.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “How will you help?”

Chuchu pointed her finger toward the chest brimming with gold and silver on the floor: “A chest like this, we still have twelve more on our carriages. Li Xia does not know Jia Leshan has died, she also has never seen his true identity; therefore …”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Therefore, if I masquerade as Jia Leshan and buy Li Xia’s Luocha Tablet with this money, we will be successful without too much effort.”

Chuchu sighed. “At least Jia Leshan was not mistaken at all, you are definitely a smart man.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But I still don’t understand why you want to do it like this?”

Chuchu hesitated a little bit before answering, “Because we are unwilling that others should know that Jia Leshan died under our hands.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Are you afraid his disciples would avenge him?”

Chuchu laughed: “Nobody will avenge him. It’s just that …”

Lu Xiaofeng: “It’s just that he was a very rich person, he left behind a lot of inheritance. As his murderers, you don’t have any chance of ever acquiring his inheritance.”

Chuchu sighed again: “You are indeed very smart, so smart that it is scary.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You do not have any confidence to kill me to shut my mouth, yet you are afraid this secret will leak, you are concocting this idea of buying me.”

Chuchu winked. “Are you still not satisfied?”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “Too bad that I am not the only one with eyes in this room, I am also not the only one with a mouth.”

Chuchu: “Everybody in this room is on our side, except Sikong Daxia [great hero] …”

Sikong Zhaixing: “I am not a Daxia, but a Dazei [great thief].”

Chuchu: “Right. Since our Sikong Dazei is a good friend of Lu Xiaofeng, if Lu Xiaofeng is willing to comply, Sikong Dazei will certainly not sell him off.”

Sikong Zhaixing stared at her. “I said I am a Dazei, and you also say that I am a Dazei?”

Chuchu sweetly said, “This is called, ‘to follow one’s precepts is the sincerest form of respect’.”

Sikong Zhaixing also laughed.

After all, he was a man. A beautiful woman in front of a man, whatever she says, usually the man would find it very fascinating.

Chuchu definitely had a very high confidence on her own beauty. She cast him a glance with the corner of her eye, “What do you say?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Sikong Dazei is not Lu Xiaofeng’s friend; therefore, he can sell Lu Xiaofeng off anytime. But Sikong Dazei has never wished to invite any trouble, especially to attract this kind of trouble, therefore …”

Chuchu: “Therefore, Sikong Dazei also agrees.”

Sikong Zhaixing: “But Sikong Dazei has one condition.”

Chuchu rolled her eyes. “What condition? Don’t tell me Sikong Dazei wants me to accompany him sleeping.”

These words were more shocking that her kick to Lu Xiaofeng’s groin just a moment ago.

Sikong Zhaixing laughed aloud. “A girl like you, if you sleep by my side, I would wake up with a start even if I am sound asleep.”

Chuchu: “What do you want, then?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “If you are successful in obtaining the Luocha Tablet, let those four women go.”

Chuchu: “You mean Li Xia and the others?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “Uh huh.”

Chuchu winked at him. “Why do you care about them this much? Have they accompanied you sleeping?”

Sikong Zhaixing stared at her. With a rueful smile he shook his head: “You look like a nice girl, but why is it that you always talk about those things?”

Chuchu sweetly said, “Because whenever I talk about those things, I always feel aroused, I feel very excited.”

Sikong Zhaixing sighed. “I only want to ask you: do you agree to my condition?”

Chuchu: “Of course I agree.”

Sikong Zhaixing immediately stood up. He waved his hand to Lu Xiaofeng and said, “Goodbye!”

Lu Xiaofeng called out, “What about my clothes?”

Sikong Zhaixing: “There is this kind of woman in the room, what do you need clothes for? Since when did you become this stupid?” He laughed and jumped out; he was already outside the window before the last few words were even finished. In an instant his laughter was already thirty zhang [1 zhang is approximately 10 feet or 3 meters] away.

Nobody knew since when there were only two people left in the room. Lu Xiaofeng was lying on the bed, Chuchu was standing by the bed.

She still looked very docile; docile and tender, yet again she asked a shocking question: “Do you want me to sleep with you?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I do.”

This time he was not the least bit shocked; he did not even blink.

Chuchu laughed. With a tender voice she said, “In that case, why don’t you lie down here alone and slowly think about what you want.”

Suddenly she turned around and left, without even looked back. It was not before she reached the door did she turned around and waved. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

‘Bang!’ she slammed the door shut.

With eyes open wide Lu Xiaofeng stared at the ceiling, while asking himself, “Why do I always meet these strange people? These strange matters …?”

Actually, he did not know that an even stranger matter was waiting for him.

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