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The Silver Hook Gambling House Chapter 9

Chapter 9 – The Panic-Stricken Powerful Enemy

Chen Jingjing did not die. Not only she did not die, her mind was very clear.

Under these circumstances, clear-headed in itself was a pain that was truly hard to endure; it was as if in the dark, there truly was a divine being who administer justice for the common people, who was deliberately tormenting her.

By this time Lu Xiaofeng had already carried her to the other room and lay her down quietly on the bed, but her pain had not diminished, perhaps only death would be able to free her from this suffering.

When the pain became intolerable, death suddenly became not in the least terrifying.

She wished to die. She really wished she could die, she only wished Lu Xiaofeng would give her a quick relief, but she would never make her desire known; because when she was very young, she received a very valuable lesson: The more you want to die, the more others would let you live, the more you want to live, the more others would want to kill you.

She also remembered that lesson today, because she had seen too many people who did not want to die died in front of her; she had also seen too many people who should not have lived, but clearly they were alive. After all, she grew up in a hard life.

Although Lu Xiaofeng was standing quietly by the bed, she could see clearly that his mind was not peaceful at all. Whoever had seen an extremely disturbing, tragic and shocking incidence like that, definitely would not feel good in his heart.

Suddenly Chen Jingjing forced herself to laugh. “I did not expect you would come, but I am sure you have already found out it was me all along.”

Lu Xiaofeng did not deny.

Chen Jingjing: “I always thought that I have prepared everything meticulously. If Chuchu was more careful and not letting the rocks inside the chest spilled out, perhaps you would not suspect me.

Lu Xiaofeng was silent for a long time. Finally he slowly said, “That the chest contained rocks yet you accepted it; that Chuchu and you had known each other since childhood, yet the two of you pretended not to know each other, although those two facts indeed made me very suspicious, they were not the most important clue at all!”

Chen Jingjing: “What was the most important clue?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “The black bear!”

Chen Jingjing: “The black bear?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Leng Hong’er thought she saw a black bear, while in fact it was nothing more than someone wearing black bearskin. Because this person was doing something very secretive, while her appearance was very easy to be recognized by others, she wore the bearskin to deceive other people’s eyes and ears. Whoever saw a black bear would certainly run away from it, he would not dare to come closer to look carefully.”

Chen Jingjing: “And you think that person was me?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Mmm.”

Chen Jingjing: “Because you saw a bearskin in my room.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Naturally you did not expect I would enter your room; it was simply a lucky coincidence!”

Chen Jingjing sighed, “Indeed nobody else has ever entered into my room; on this point you are not wrong at all.”

Chen Jingjing continued, “You can go into my room, not because fortunately I was fainting; because that day I did not faint at all!”

Although her voice was weak, but each word was very clear, owing to the fact that she had always exercised a very good control on herself. Perhaps very few people in the world could be compared to her in term of self-control.

She added, “I let you go into my room, because when you carried me, suddenly I had a feeling I have never experienced before, I … I also did not think that Li Shentong would suddenly break into my room.”

Lu Xiaofeng also forced a laugh. “If I were him, I would also break into your room suddenly!”

Chen Jingjing: “Originally, there were two identical bearskins; the other one belonged to Li Xia!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “When the two of you buried the Luocha Tablet that night, were you both wearing the bearskins?”

Chen Jingjing: “It was very late at night, we did not expect Hong’er would still be sitting on the shore, busy with her thoughts. When I saw her, I do not doubt that she also saw me!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But she did not see clearly, she thought you were a real black bear!”

With a bitter smile Chen Jingjing said, “Yet I was very worried; women are usually overly suspicious!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Therefore, when you found out that she was there last night, you killed her to shut her mouth.”

Surprisingly, Chen Jingjing did not deny at all. “Ding Xiangyi always said I am the most ruthless person alive!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Although she did not know your secret, when you made your move to kill her, she finally recognized you.”

Chen Jingjing sighed: “I am afraid I won’t be able to forget her look when she saw my face for as long as I live!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “That time you were unavoidably a bit afraid, hence you left as soon as you strike went well.”

Chen Jingjing: “Because I was confident her death was imminent.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But you did not think that when someone is at the death’s door, oftentimes it is also the time when his mind was the clearest.”

Chen Jingjing did not reply, her heart felt sour, because she realized her mind was very clear.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Therefore, before her death, she finally realized that the black bear must be you. She also realized that you must be burying the Luocha Tablet. That’s why she exhausted her last ounce of strength to crawl toward the place you appeared that night.”

Chen Jingjing: “And thus you knew the place where we hid the Luocha Tablet.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “That’s right!”

Chen Jingjing suddenly sneered, “That being the case, her death was advantageous to you; why are you grieved?”

Lu Xiaofeng wanted to say something, but in the end he kept silent.

Chen Jingjing: “You are grieving over matters that you should not grieve, but you are very happy over matters that you should be grieving.”

Lu Xiaofeng stayed silent, waiting for her to continue.

Chen Jingjing: “When I looked for you that day, it was not because I wanted to deliver food and wine to you, or even because I care about you or because I like you. I looked for you, only because I had to hold you back, to give Li Shentong the time so that he could freeze Li Xia’s body in the ice, that’s why I steeled myself to endure your humiliation, while actually each time you touch me, I wanted to throw up!”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed suddenly. “I understand now!”

Chen Jingjing: “Understand what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You want to die.”

Chen Jingjing: “Why do you think I want to die?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because you deliberately want to infuriate me, you want me to kill you.”

With a cold laugh Chen Jingjing said, “I know you won’t dare, you can only watch other people in action, but you simply have never had the nerve to kill anybody!”

Lu Xiaofeng only laughed. Suddenly he turned around and walked away.

Chen Jingjing called out loudly, “Where are you going?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “To prepare the carriage!”

Chen Jingjing: “Why do you want to prepare the carriage now?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because you cannot ride a horse, and you cannot walk!”

Chen Jingjing: “You … you want to take me away?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Although I cannot take the secret projectile buried inside your acupoint, I know someone who can do it.”

Chen Jingjing: “You … you … why don’t you just let me die?”

Lu Xiaofeng matter-of-factly said, “Because the number of people who has died today is simply too many.”

He left without even looking back.

Looking at his back as he left, tears started to flow down from Chen Jingjing’s eyes, until finally she wept bitterly. But nobody knows whether it was tears of sorrow? Or was it tears of remorse? Or was it tears of gratitude?

Whatever it was, if anybody wanted to cry, it would be best if he was left alone to weep freely, as much as he wanted.

Naturally Lu Xiaofeng heard her cry. He did wish that she could cry, that she could cry out the sorrow, pain and remorse filling her heart. Perhaps after crying she would not wish to die anymore.

The sun had already disappeared, the wind blew colder. The foolish-looking and filthy kid was still standing there with snooty nose, grinning foolishly at him. It looked like the tragic incident just a moment ago did not affect him in the least.

“Other people might laugh at his foolishness, but perhaps his life is somewhat happier than most people would ever live.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed inwardly. He smiled and patted the kid on his head, while saying, “Take a good care of that Auntie inside for me. She has a lot of money, she may buy you some candy!” Unexpectedly the foolish-looking kid understood what he said, jumping for joy he ran inside: “I love eating candy, lots and lots of candy!”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed again. He had just stepped outside the door, an extended hand had already met him.

He was not surprised, he knew early on that Sui Han San You must be waiting for him outside.

Mr. Gu Song: “Give it to me.”

Lu Xiaofeng blinked his eyes, “Do you want money? Or do you want rice?”

Mr. Gu Song’s face turned green from anger, he coldly replied, “Perhaps this time I want your life!”

Lu Xiaofeng chuckled, “I don’t have either money or rice, but life? I have one.”

Mr. Gu Song indignantly said, “Do you really want me to break your legs first before you are willing to give the Luocha Tablet to me?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Even if you break my legs, I am not going to give the Luocha Tablet to you.”

Mr. Gu Song’s countenance changed. “What do you want?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Let me ask you first: what do you want? When did I ever say that I am going to give the Luocha Tablet to you?”

In stern voice Mr. Gu Song asked, “To whom are you going to give the Luocha Tablet?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “The Blue Beard.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Must you give it to him?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I must.”

Mr. Gu Song: “Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Because I want to exchange it with something!”

Mr. Gu Song: “What thing?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “My innocence.”

Mr. Gu Song stared at him. He slowly said, “Are you telling me you have never thought of taking possession of the Luocha Tablet yourself?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I have.”

Mr. Gu Song: “And do you still want it now?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I do.”

Mr. Gu Song’s countenance changed again.

But Lu Xiaofeng unenthusiastically continued, “The things that I want are simply too many. Sometimes I want to be the Emperor, but I am afraid I would be lonely. Sometimes I want to be the Prime Minister, but I am afraid I would be too busy. Sometimes I want to get rich, but I am afraid someone might steal everything. Sometimes I want to take a wife, but I am afraid it would be too troublesome. Sometimes I want to grill steak, but don’t want to wash the pot. Sometimes I want to slap your face, but I am afraid I will only court disaster!”

He had not finished speaking, Mr. Gu Song already could not restrain from laughing, but in an instant his face turned wooden again. “Therefore, although what you want is many, actually you have not done a single one of them.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. With a bitter smile he said, “Those who think a lot but do a little in this world can’t be only me.”

Mr. Gu Song’s eyes suddenly gazed into the distance, seemingly asking himself the question: what have I thought about, and what have I done?

As long as one lives in this world, one will always suffer some kind of limitation. If everybody is able to do whatever he wants to do, what would this world turn into?

It was quite a long time later that Mr. Gu Song finally sighed softly, he waved his hand and said, “Just go!”

Lu Xiaofeng let out a breath and said, “I thought you were not going to let me go this time, I am surprised that you still trust me this much.”

With a wooden face Gu Song said coldly, “This is the last time!”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled, “Whenever you want to drink, you may look for me anytime, I will definitely accompany you.”

He also waved his hand and was about to leave their presence when suddenly Han Mei said, “Wait a moment!”

Lu Xiaofeng had no choice but stop. “Do you have any other instructions?”

Han Mei: “I want to have a look at you.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “You may have as much look at me as you wish, I heard people say that my appearance is not bad.”

But there was no smile on Han Mei’s face, in fact, his face did not show any emotion as he coldly said, “I want to have a look not at your appearance!”

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

Han Mei: “I want to see your martial art skill.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s smile turned into a bitter smile, “I suggest you’d better have a look at my appearance. I can guarantee that my martial art skill is not as good as my looks.”

Yet Han Mei did not even cast a glance toward him. Suddenly he turned around and said, “Come with me!”

Lu Xiaofeng hesitated. He looked at Ku Zhu, and then at Gu Song, but those two men’s faces did not show any emotion either.

He sighed and had no choice but to follow Han Mei, but his mouth would not stop mumbling, “Where do you want to take me, exactly? Drinking or gambling, I will come with you anytime, but if you want to fight, I’d rather sneak off!”

Han Mei ignored him completely. Three turns and two blocks later, they were walking along the main street. There was a very big restaurant on the main street, with more than a dozen horse-drawn carriages parked by the front door. A pole with violet satin escort banner was planted at an angle outside the door. The banner fluttered in the wind, it was embroidered with a dragon and a large ‘Zhao’ character, as big as a tray.

Lu Xiaofeng recognized this banner, it belonged to the ‘Golden Dragon Escort Agency’. Although it operated outside the Great Wall, serving mostly ginseng pickers from the Changbai Mountain area, inside the Great Wall its reputation was also resounding, because this escort agency’s chief, ‘Hei Xuan Tan’ [Black and Mysterious (worship) Altar] Zhao Junwu, was originally a very famous escort of the Central Plains with stellar reputation. It was not too long ago that he was appointed the chief of the ‘Golden Dragon Escort Agency’ over a very generous compensation of his service.

Right now he happened to drink at this restaurant. A man with his reputation and status, naturally his style was not simple.

As soon as Han Mei stepped inside the restaurant, he went straight toward Zhao Junwu. He looked at him coldly and asked, “Are you Hei Xuan Tan Zhao Junwu?”

Zhao Junwu was startled. He looked at Han Mei up and down, sizing this neither a monk nor a priest, yet not uncouth, weird-looking old man. Usually his vision was very good, yet he failed to recognize this old fellow’s origins. Not knowing how to respond differently, he nodded and said, “I am!”

Han Mei: “Do you know who I am?”

Zhao Junwu shook his head. “Please advice!”

Han Mei: “I am Mr. Han Mei of the Kunlun Mountains’ Great Brightness Mirror’s Sui Han San You, the Law Protector Elder of the Western Region’s Devil Cult.”

 

He pronounced each word very slowly. Hearing the four words Sui Han San You, Zhao Junwu’s masked-like face suddenly fell; hearing the four words ‘Western Region’s Devil Cult’, Zhao Junwu’s forehead broke in cold sweats.

Han Mei: “Do you know who I am now?”

Immediately Zhao Junwu stood up and rushed to bow in respect: “Wanbei [younger generation] has eyes but fails to see, did not know the honorable presence of an immortal …”

He was still prattling away all the flattering and polite greetings he could muster when Han Mei turned around back to face Lu Xiaofeng. “Do you know who he is?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I have heard about him.”

Han Mei: “His reputation is not minor, his martial art skill is also not weak, but when he sees me, he is very respectful. On the contrary, you have never showed respect in our presence.”

Lu Xiaofeng chuckled, “When he was little, his family must have brought him up really well, he is a man with good family education, always rather courteous to everybody.”

Han Mei: “And you?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I am an orphan.”

Han Mei: “And thus you did not have family education?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “No.”

Han Mei: “In that case, you should receive some lessons.”

Suddenly he turned around again. Pointing toward Lu Xiaofeng he asked, “Do you know who this man is?”

Zhao Junwu shook his head.

Han Mei: “You don’t have to know. I only want you to give him a lesson for me.”

Zhao Junwu’s countenance turned awkward, forcing a smile he said, “But Zaixia does not have any grudges with him, how can I …”

Han Mei cut him off, he coldly said, “I am not going to force you. You may choose for yourself: do you want to teach him a lesson? Or do you want me to teach you a lesson?”

While speaking, he picked up a tin wine cup from the table and casually kneaded it in his hand. The wine cup immediately turned into a clump of shapeless tin. Again he casually pulled and the tin clump turned into a tin stick.

Zhao Junwu”s countenance changed; suddenly, like an arrow he dashed forward, and with the back of his palm he ferociously struck the back of Lu Xiaofeng’s head. It was a swift and vicious strike. Unexpectedly, once he made his move, he did not show the least bit of leniency.

Surprisingly, Lu Xiaofeng did not move at all. He stood on the same place, and let the palm strike land on the back of his neck.

There is a major artery to the left of the neck, one of the vital points on the human body. Although Zhao Junwu did not practice internal energy cultivation, his pair of hands was callous and hard as a rock. In reality, this strike was not light at all, if Lu Xiaofeng did not die, he should have at least fainted.

Who would have thought that he was still standing quietly, even his face did not change at all.

Zhao Junwu’s face was sweating instead; suddenly with a balled fist he struck in between Lu Xiaofeng’s chest and abdomen as hard as he could.

Lu Xiaofeng also received this fist quietly, not even batting his eyelids.

By this time Zhao Junwu was sweating profusely. Twice he had attacked with all his might, and twice his attack did not fail to hit its target, but unfortunately it was as if he was hitting empty air. He felt as if the opponent was an empty space, as he exerted his strength on his palm and fist, it was as if his strength vanished into the thin air.

He had prepared the third attack, his fist was clenched, but in all honesty he did not know how he was going to attack!

Probably Lu Xiaofeng was also waiting to take the beating. But after waiting for half a day, suddenly a smile broke out on his face. “Have you given me enough lessons, Sire?” he asked.

Zhao Junwu also forced a smile, but even if right now there were some gold ingots falling from the sky in front of him, he would not be able to smile.

Lu Xiaofeng turned around to face Han Mei and said with a laugh, “Can I go now?”

Han Mei’s countenance turned ugly, but before he could open his mouth, Ku Zhu already said, “You may go!”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled, “Thank you.”

He patted his clothes, and then picked up a wine cup, which had not been flattened, from the table and poured the wine into his mouth, before finally he walked away from Han Mei in big strides.

But before he reached the stairs, an inn attendant rushed upstairs with a piece of letter in his hand, while shouting loudly, “Which one is Lu Xiaofeng, Lu Daxia [great hero]?”

Lu Xiaofeng pointed his own nose and laughed, “I am Lu Xiaofeng, but I am not a Daxia. Daxia only knows how to beat people, not to take a beating!”

There was only smile on his face, not a sign of anger, because he knew that in the world there are many people who take advantage of the weak but is afraid of the wicked. Bullies who were ten times worse than Zhao Junwu were simply more than a few. It was precisely the weakness of mankind.

He loved mankind deeply, he adored life; usually, it was very easy for him to forgive this kind of matter.

But when he finished reading the letter, he was very angry. Not only furious, he was anxious as well.

“Dear Xiaofeng Daxia, my brother:

Previously, about the a$$h01le you were pleased to bestow on me [see the end of Chapter 4], I am ashamed and dare not to accept, because I do not dare to receive the reward without any merit.

Presently, about Miss Chen Jingjing, I am concerned that she would inconvenience my brother’s journey. Di [younger brother] has also hauled away a few taels of money. This I respectfully inform you.

Respectfully wishes your well-being!”

The signature below was Fei Tian Yu Hu!

When Lu Xiaofeng was reading the letter, Sui Han San You were also reading his expression.

They were also shocked because they had never expected Lu Xiaofeng’s face would become such dreadful.

Therefore, when Lu Xiaofeng dashed out, they also rushed out behind him, leaving Zhao Junwu standing there in shock; the expression on his face was that of one who wishes he could smash his own head and die immediately.

Never in his dream would he imagine that the person he had just taught a lesson was precisely the world-famous Lu Xiaofeng.

Although Lu Xiaofeng had forgiven him, he would never be able to forgive himself. Although Lu Xiaofeng did not move a single muscle, actually it was he who gave him a lesson.

But Lu Xiaofeng had also made a mistake. He should not have left Chen Jingjing, he should not have left that house at all. By the time he arrived, the house had nearly turned into a blazing inferno.

Luckily the air was cold and the earth frozen, there were ice and snow everywhere that the fire did not spread too far. Not too many homes were burned down, but unavoidably there were many innocent people who became the victim of this fire.

Undoubtedly, Chen Jingjing’s beautiful and tender body had also been burned like a pile of dry bones, and flew up piece by piece as sparking ashes.

Lu Xiaofeng had been too late.

The raging fire roasted his face red, it roasted his eyes red, but his hands and feet were actually icy-cold, his heart was also icy-cold.

The alley was a mass of confusion; the men were running around, shouting and trying to put out the fire, the women were screaming, and the children were crying. They were simple people, living a simple and tranquil life, they had never harmed anybody; but now, they had to suffer without any cause or reason.

Lu Xiaofeng turned around suddenly, he stared at Han Mei and sternly said, “Have you seen it?”

Han Mei: “Have seen what?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “This disaster is brought by you, can’t you see it?”

Han Mei kept his mouth shut, obviously in his heart he did not feel good at all.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Do you still want to see my martial art skill now?”

Han Mei: “I have just seen it a moment ago.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “A moment ago was my taking-a-beating skill. Don’t you want to see my punch-someone skill?”

It was a challenge.

In all his life, he had never challenged anybody like this. Although his natural disposition was as cool-headed as a rock, this kind of stretched-almost-beyond-the-limit brutality had burned his anger to be more dreadful.

An extreme calmness; it was actually just another face of anger.

Han Mei stayed calm and collected. Under the flickering light of the blazing fire, his face seemed to look pale, even his lips were white.

No one had ever dared to challenge him face to face like this.

He was not afraid of this young man. Not at all. He had never been afraid of anybody. Yet in this instant, he suddenly felt some kind of nervousness he had never felt before. So nervous that even his breathing seemed to stop.

Because he had always been standing on the winning side. He was used to oppress other people based on his reputation and status. But actually now was the first time he felt somebody else was oppressing him.

Lu Xiaofeng’s pressure came again: “Well? Do you or don’t you want to see?”

Before Han Mei opened his mouth, Ku Zhu suddenly said, “He does not want to!”

Gu Song immediately caught on: “The only thing he wants to see is the Luocha Tablet, and so do I.”

He stepped in front of Lu Xiaofeng, giving Ku Zhu the opportunity to pull Han Mei away, and then he slowly continued, “Therefore, you must not disappoint us.”

He did not turn his body around; still facing Lu Xiaofeng, he walked backwards, and then his long sleeve waved, his shadow flashed, and in an instant he had disappeared.

Lu Xiaofeng did not move, he did not try to stop them. Only after a long time did he finally exhaled slowly.

Suddenly he realized that he had yielded toward those three men for too long. Now the time had come that they should step back a bit.

It was the first time that he counterattacked. They did not fight, and yet he had scored a victory.

But he also knew that they would not retreat too far; if they were being pushed too far, who knows what the outcome would be?

Lu Xiaofeng did not want to think that far.

The fire was still blazing, he simply could not just stand there doing nothing. Although there were many things he needed to think through, everything must wait, right now the most important thing was helping to put out the fire.

He rolled up his sleeves and jumped into action. Snatching a water bucket from the man next to him, he leaped onto the top of the wall of the nearby house and splashed the water down.

Naturally his movements were a lot quicker than other people. The power of him, one man, was comparable to at least to that of five people. However, there was another man working side by side with him. Surprisingly, this man’s movements were not too slow compared to him, so much so that the man seemed to work harder than Lu Xiaofeng. There was one time when that man leaped onto a burning wall and almost fell into the inferno below.

With the melting snow and ice wetting the burning timber, plus the joint effort of the people, the fire was quickly contained, and finally it was completely out.

At long last Lu Xiaofeng could take a breather. With his sleeve he wiped his perspiration, with such a good feeling in his heart, a feeling that he had not had for a very long time.

The man next to him was also catching his breath. With a broad smile in his face he said, “Altogether you poured seventy three buckets of water, and I poured six less buckets than you did!”

Lu Xiaofeng raised his head only to discover that the man working alongside him to put out the fire was none other than the Hei Xuan Tan, Zhao Junwu.

With an unrestrained laughter Zhao Junwu continued, “Not too long ago I was thinking of smashing my head and die, but now I want to live several years longer, the longer the better.”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled, he did not ask ‘why?’, because he already knew the answer.

If you think that you are a useful person, you won’t want to die, because you feel that your life is worth living, that your life deserves to be cherished.

If you have ever helped other people wholeheartedly, you would definitely understand this truth, because if you are willing to help others, you are definitely a useful person.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled as he patted Zhao Junwu’s shoulder. “I know that just now you put a lot more effort than anybody else. If you have hit me with the same zest, I would have not able to withstand!”

With blushing face Zhao Junwu laughed, “When I hit people, of course I won’t do it with the same zest, because hitting people is not a delightful matter, besides, I am afraid I might hurt my own hand!”

The two of them broke out in laughter. It was only then did they realize that all around them people were also laughing, their eyes were brimming with happiness, admiration and gratitude.

A little girl, whose hair was combed into two long braids, suddenly emerged from the crowd and pulled their hands. She put some candy into their hands and with a blushing face she said, “This is my favorite candy, but I want you to have it, because you are good men. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, when other people’s house is on fire, I am going to help putting it out!”

Lu Xiaofeng gently stroked her hair, he wanted to say something, but there seem to be something choking his throat.

Zhao Junwu also looked at her, he felt his tears almost falling down. In that moment he felt that if he were killed in the fire, it would have been worth it.

Right then a small black head suddenly appeared from a dirty and narrow gutter at the side of the street. With finger pointed toward Lu Xiaofeng he shouted, “He is not a good man, he lied to me, Auntie did not give me any candy.”

A little black boy crawled out from the gutter; unexpectedly, it was that filthy foolish-looking kid.

Surprisingly, he did not die; perhaps it was not because he was lucky, but because he was stupid and ignorant, because other than him, nobody, neither adult nor children, would be foolish enough to force himself into such a dirty sewer.

But he had eyes; not only that, he was in Chen Jingjing’s room just a moment ago, and now he was the only witness who can tell what had been happening!

Lu Xiaofeng’s eyes brightened, immediately he stepped forward to meet the boy. Could this boy depict the assailant’s appearance? Although he did not have any confidence, at least there was some hope.

At that moment, suddenly from among the crowd someone shouted, “Although he helped putting out the fire, it was also him who set the fire in the first place. Everybody, don’t be fooled by him!”

Yelling and screaming, several people charged toward Lu Xiaofeng; the situation immediately became chaotic. Although there were some who did not believe, some were skeptical, but some people whose houses were also burned could not distinguish between right and wrong, they were the ones who attacked Lu Xiaofeng.

They were simple-minded people; seeing their homes were burned, already their eyes were red with fury, and they attacked without any regard for their own safety.

Lu Xiaofeng did not blame them, he also did not want to fight them. Fortunately Zhao Junwu helped him to stop them. Although Lu Xiaofeng suffered several punches, he finally managed to get out; but that filthy kid had disappeared.

There were several dripping wet footprints by the gutter, the rubble of the burned down house was still emitting blue smoke.

Lu Xiaofeng gritted his teeth and suddenly entered the smoking rubble.

By this time several escorts working under Zhao Junwu had also arrived, and they helped suppressing the riot. Zhao Junwu made a personal guarantee that Lu Xiaofeng was drinking wine with him when the fire started, and only then did the riot subside. But when inquiry was made of who was the person who shouted the first time, nobody knew.

Lu Xiaofeng was still in the midst of scalding rubble, nobody knew what was he looking for?

“What were you looking for?”

As soon as they left the fire location, Zhao Junwu could not bear not to ask, but Lu Xiaofeng did not answer.

His eyes were gleaming with a very strange expression, yet nobody knew what kind of difficult problem he was pondering about, or perhaps he had solved this difficult problem.

Zhao Junwu did not ask anymore, he started to ponder on his own. He suddenly said, “The person who accuse you a moment ago must be the same person who started the fire, and he wanted you to take the blame.”

Lu Xiaofeng was silent for a long time before he slowly said, “They did not want to shift the blame on me, but they wanted to shut someone’s mouth.”

Zhao Junwu: “Shut whose mouth? That dumb kid who crawl from the sewer?” Lu Xiaofeng nodded.

Zhao Junwu frowned, “That kind of dumb kid, what does he know?”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed, “They really should have not done it!”

Zhao Junwu also sighed, “Whatever it was, it’s in the past now. Let us have a drink.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “If you want me to drink with you, I am afraid you must wait.”

Zhao Junwu: “Why?”

Lu Xiaofeng clenched both of his fists and said word by word, “If I cannot find Fei Tian Yu Hu, henceforth I am not going to drink a single drop of wine.”

Zhao Junwu: “Can I do something for you?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You can!”

Zhao Junwu: “Tell me.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You are much more familiar with this area than me, I want you …”

All of a sudden he lowered his voice a lot as if he was afraid others might hear it, because now he knew that Fei Tian Yu Hu’s influence reached as far as this place; it was far greater than he previously imagined.

When he finished speaking, Zhao Junwu immediately responded, “I will definitely do it for you; but when I get all the information you need, how am I going to pass it on to you?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Have you ever gambled at the Silver Hook Casino?”

Zhao Junwu laughed, “Not only I have been there, I have gambled with that Big Beard several times and I even won several hundred taels of silver from him!” [Before you freak out, no, it is not a mistake, the text (both online and the book) does say ‘Big Beard’ and not ‘Blue Beard’.]

Lu Xiaofeng: “Half a month from today, we will meet there. Whoever comes first must wait for the other, don’t leave without seeing each other!”

Zhao Junwu stared at him, and then suddenly said, “Thank you!”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “I want you to do something for me, I have not thanked you and you thanked me instead?”

Zhao Junwu: “It is exactly because you have not thanked me that I must thank you!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And why is that?”

Zhao Junwu’s eyes shone as he said, “Because I know for certain that you consider me as your friend!”

A friend! What an honorable and glorious word! What a beautiful word!

If you are like Lu Xiaofeng, accept people with love and respect, you must understand one thing first – the true power that can subdue other people is not the brute force of martial arts, but rather, it is patience and compassion.

It is not an easy thing to do, other than broad-mindedness, it also requires an immense amount of valor!

The room was decorated in a serene and elegant, as well as neat, style. The snow-white paper covering the window seemed to be replaced only recently. Outside the window, the air was clear, the sun was shining bright. The window sill was adorned with pots of narcissus and chimonanthus praecox (腊梅). Surprisingly, Ding Xiangyi was already able to sit up. Her originally pale face had shown some color; it was like a dying, withered flower suddenly had its life back.

All of these things were very pleasant things, Lu Xiaofeng’s mood was also definitely better than just a few days ago.

“I promised I would come back, and I definitely come back to see you!”

“I know!” Unexpectedly, Ding Xiangyi’s face showed a gentle and tender smile, “I know you will definitely come back!”

She sat leaning on the bed. The bed sheet had just been replaced. She was wearing a warm and comfortable, loose robe; the robe was very long, the sleeves were also very long, completely covering her cut feet and cut hands. The sun light streamed in through the snow-white window paper, illuminating her still-very-beautiful face.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled and said, “I also brought something with me!”

Ding Xiangyi’s eyes shone, “The Luocha Tablet?” she asked excitedly.

Lu Xiaofeng nodded. “What I promised to you, I will certainly deliver it, I did not lie to you!”

Ding Xiangyi blinked a couple of times, “Are you saying I lied to you?”

Lu Xiaofeng pulled a chair and sat down. “You told me that Chen Jingjing was your good friend and that I can trust her!”

Ding Xiangyi replied in affirmative.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Was she really your good friend? Can you really trust her?”

Ding Xiangyi turned her head away to avoid his gaze. Suddenly her breathing became rapid, as if she had difficulty controlling herself. After quite a long time afterwards, she still could not restrain from spitefully said, “She is a whore!”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, “Yet you wanted me to trust a whore!”

Finally Ding Xiangyi turned back around and forced a smile, “Because I am a woman. Which woman does not frequently ask men to do things she herself is not willing to do?”

Frankly, this reasoning was not good, but Lu Xiaofeng seemed to be very satisfied; because she was a woman, and he knew better than to reason with a woman, which probably would be as difficult as pushing camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Ding Xiangyi suddenly asked, “She has died, has she not?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Mmm.”

Ding Xiangyi gently let out a breath; her expression looked like someone who had just spat a mouthful of thick phlegm.

Lu Xiaofeng stared hard at her, suddenly he asked, “How do you know she has died?”

Again Ding Xiangyi turned her head the other way; she lightly coughed twice before she slowly said, “I did not know, it was nothing more than a wild guess!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “How did you come into that conclusion?”

Ding Xiangyi: “By the way you asked me about her a moment ago, I can see that she has done many things to you that were offensive and she personally wronged you, a woman like her certainly did not deserve to live long!”

This reasoning was even worse, but surprisingly, Lu Xiaofeng also accepted it. “No matter what, I managed to get the Luocha Tablet back at long last, my trip has not been in vain!”

Hearing the word ‘Luocha Tablet’, Ding Xiangyi’s eyes brightened again. She watched as Lu Xiaofeng put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a piece of jade tablet. Suddenly she burst into tears.

Lu Xiaofeng understood her feelings.

For this jade tablet, she did not hesitate to destroy her own marriage, to destroy her own life-long happiness; even she herself had turned into a crippled person.

Although this piece of jade was a priceless treasure, the value of happiness is even more beyond measure.

Was her sacrifice worth it? And now, didn’t she regret what she had done?

Lu Xiaofeng could not restrain from sighing. “If this thing is mine, I would certainly give it to you, but now …”

Ding Xiangyi interrupted him. “I understand, you don’t have to explain it to me. Even if you give this to me now, I do not have any use of it!”

She broke into tears again, and then continued slowly, “Now, I would be well satisfied just to look at it, to caress it!”

Lu Xiaofeng also understood her feelings, immediately he handed the Luocha Tablet to her, but Ding Xiangyi’s expression actually looked even more painful.

She had lost her hands. This piece of jade tablet, for which she did not hesitate to sacrifice everything, was finally in her presence, but she had no way of reaching out to take it. Certainly not everybody would be able to endure this kind of pain, yet clearly she was able to endure it.

Lu Xiaofeng could not refrain from heaving a sigh. Forcing a smile he said, “Why don’t I place it on your body? At least you can see it a bit more clearly!”

Ding Xiangyi nodded. Seeing Lu Xiaofeng gently placed the jade tablet on her chest, her tearful eyes suddenly revealed an unexplainable feeling. Was it gratitude? Was it satisfaction? Or was it sorrow?

Under the bright sunlight from the window, the jade tablet seemed to emit a soft and beautiful luster, so much so that the shininess felt warm.

Ding Xiangyi lowered her head and kissed the jade tablet gently with her lips, as if she was gently kissing her first love’s sweetheart.

“Thank you, thank you …”

She did not stop saying ‘thank you’ while clamping the jade tablet with her handless wrists and pressed it gently on her own face.

Lu Xiaofeng could not bear to look at her. He remembered her hands used to be slim, tender and beautiful, with her nails always painted with a layer of dull-colored rose juice, making her hands also look like blooming roses.

But now the roses had been mercilessly plucked out, leaving a pair of withered stems, bald and ugly.

A plucked rose will bloom again the following year, but her hands …

Lu Xiaofeng stood up and turned around. Suddenly he heard a ‘puff!’ sound, as something flew out through the window, followed by a ‘swish!’ noise as something flew in through the window.

Quickly he turned his head around. The jade tablet clamped between Ding Xiangyi’s wrists had disappeared, but from her chest blood was gushing out like a fountain.

Her captivating pink cheeks became bloodless instantly, her eyes and the corner of her mouth did not stop twitching, as if she was crying, but perhaps she was smiling.

But even if she was smiling, it was such a forced smile, a smile out of desolate and painful heart, a smile which was even more sorrowful than crying.

She looked at Lu Xiaofeng, her eyes had also lost their gleam, which was replaced with a dead grey color. With her last ounce of strength she said, “Why … why don’t you pursue?”

Lu Xiaofeng shook his head. There was only sympathy and compassion on his face, he did not show the least bit of surprise or anger.

It seemed that everything Ding Xiangyi said or done had been anticipated by him from early on. It was after a long time had passed did he finally say with sorrow in his voice, “Have you been deceived by others?”

Ding Xiangyi’s voice grew fainter and fainter, “I deceived you, in turn, he deceived me. Seems to me that everybody is destined to be deceived one way or the other by someone else; don’t you think so? Don’t you …?”

Her voice was very soft, and very slow, but there was not a trace of sorrow or pain in it.

In that instant when death was knocking on her door, she suddenly understood the complex and subtle yet simple philosophy of life, she suddenly understood that life was just like that.

And then her life had ended.

Why do people always wait for the last second of their lives to understand the matter, which they should have understood much, much earlier?

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