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The Thrush Chapter 10


The Bizarre Husband and Wife

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “I wish there was such a person in the world, so that you could suffer defeat too. You always win battles. If you don’t lose once, I’m afraid your martial arts will never reach the pinnacle.”

He was joking, of course. Who would have thought that Chu Liuxiang responded solemnly, “That’s exactly right, this is precisely the most profound and wonderful principle in martial arts, only too bad by nature I like to take risks, when I encounter a martial art master, I can’t help using dangerous moves, if once making a move I was defeated, I would undoubtedly die. Therefore, even though I know this principle, I still want to take chances to seek victory.”

Hearing such a solemn response, Hu Tiehua was stunned instead, he said, “It’s not that you merely wanted to seek victory, but if you don’t take risks, undoubtedly you will die, because although you don’t want to kill others, others will kill you.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Therefore, sooner or later, there will come a day where I will die at other people’s hands.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Don’t worry, I am afraid that until today, the person that can kill you has not been born yet!”

The twilight was getting thicker, the sense of autumn was getting stronger and stronger.

They climbed the mountain in the twilight, passed the Yuanyang [mandarin duck] Mound, the Tomb of the Filial Son, the Broken Beam [Palace] Hall, the Hanhan Spring, the Sword Test Stone, the Three-Immortal Pavilion, the Immortal Cave …

But they could not find the way to the ‘Yong Cui Shanzhuang’. Hu Tiehua nearly could not help wondering if this ‘Yong Cui Shanzhuang’ was not located on Huqiu Mountain.

The poplars were dreary, autumn sounds filled the air, there was no path among the grass that have grown on the grave since last year, autumn colors were all over the sky.

Frowning, Hu Tiehua said, “You have never been to the Yong Cui Shanzhuang?”

“No,” Chu Liuxiang replied, “I only heard that this Yong Cui Shanzhuang embraces the distant mountains, looking into the distance at Lake Taihu, with black sand and sailing boats, smoky clouds and bamboo forest, the most beautiful of the mountain sceneries.”

Hu Tiehua wanted to say something else, but suddenly he caught sight of a red lantern in the distance, swaying in the wind. It looked to be at the highest point of the mountain.

Knitting his brows, Hu Tiehua said, “What kind of trick is that?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Good or bad, we have to go and see.”

The two unleashed their shenfa and swept up, only to see the giant pagoda overlooking them in the evening wind. The pagoda had seven floors, each floor had a flying eaves slanting inside. The red lantern was hanging on the eaves of the pagoda, but the surroundings were desolate and cold, they saw poplar trees everywhere, but there was no human shadow.

Who hung this red lantern here, what was it for? The lantern light was like blood.

In the blood-red light, on the stone pagoda, there was unexpectedly a line of characters. But because it was on the top floor of the stone pagoda, it was practically impossible to see clearly from below.

Knitting his brows, Hu Tiehua said, “Your eyes are better than mine, can you see what is written?”

Chu Liuxiang appeared to be thinking deeply, he only shook his head.

Hu Tiehua said, “I’ll go up and take a look.”

Just as he was about to leap, Chu Liuxiang pulled him back.

Hu Tiehua said, “I also know that this must be their trick, but if I don’t go up and take a look, I will feel even more uncomfortable.”

“I’ll go,” Chu Liuxiang said.

Without arguing with Hu Tiehua, he simply flew up. He also knew that this must be a trap, therefore, he did not dare to be the slightest bit careless.

His body lightly landed on the eaves of the sixth floor, finally he could clearly see the characters written on it – surprisingly, it was written, ‘Chu Liuxiang will die here.’ In one glance he already swept over these seven characters [chu liu xiang bi ming yu ci]. Although he was somewhat shocked inwardly, he was not disturbed at all, without giving it a second glance, he leaped down.

Who would have thought that right this moment, a huge net was suddenly falling from the top of the pagoda.

Hu Tiehua has been looking up, he saw that this piece of net flickers in the light, it seems to be made of metal wire, iron wire. Although it was extremely light and extremely flexible, the approaching momentum was extremely fast.

Seeing that Chu Liuxiang was about to be enveloped by this net, Hu Tiehua could not help crying out in alarm, “Watch out!”

Amidst his cry, Chu Liuxiang’s body already dropped suddenly. Although the giant net fell fast, Chu Liuxiang’s fall was even faster.

Hu Tiehua had just heaved a sigh of relief, who would have thought that from the fifth floor of the stone pagoda, a silver light suddenly flew out like lightning. Unexpectedly it was a ‘hook sickle spear’, an extremely rarely seen external school’s weapon. The tip of the spear went straight to hook Chu Liuxiang’s pair of knees.

Greatly shocked, Chu Liuxiang’s shenfa still did not become chaotic, he suddenly made his move by slapping the eaves of the fifth-floor pagoda, immediately his body somersaulted and rose up instead.

However, by doing this, although he evaded the hook and sickle spear, he could no longer escape the giant net. His whole person was wrapped in the giant net and was rolled down.

The hook sickle spear seized this opportunity to hook the giant net, thereupon Chu Liuxiang was suspended mid-air. Even if he exhausted his strength, he was unable to get away, unexpectedly the threads of the net dug into his flesh.

Hu Tiehua and Chu Liuxiang have been fighting side by side, no one knew how many crises they have faced in their lives, but they have never seen such a mysterious weapon, such a mysterious way to attack.

His ability to meet a contingency was actually extremely high, but unexpectedly he still could not respond fast enough to this change, so much so that he could not even see clearly how Chu Liuxiang fell into the net.

He only saw silver light flickering continuously, and Chu Liuxiang had been hoisted up.

Hu Tiehua reached out to pull a dagger from his boot, while seizing the opportunity, his body leaped up. The light of the blade transformed into a flying rainbow, cutting the huge net.

But inside the net, Chu Liuxiang shouted, “Go back quickly, these two persons must not be forced …”

Before his shout was finished, from the top of the pagoda, someone swooped down like a bird.

Although the dark night did not allow them to see his appearance, but they could already see that he was big and tall, unexpectedly like a giant of the ancient prehistoric era.

Hu Tiehua only felt a shadow flashing in front of him, immediately it was like the entire stone pagoda was pressing down on him. No matter which direction he wanted to evade, he was shrouded in darkness.

If it was an ordinary person, being in panic at this moment, his body would have tried to escape down, then there would be no way he could escape this blow which momentum was like Mount Tai pressing down on his head.

But Hu Tiehua was not an ordinary person. Instead of dropping down, Hu Tiehua, his person and his blade, simultaneously flew upward to meet the shadow head-on.

This kind of desperate move with the intention of perishing with the opponent was originally disdained by martial art masters, but sometimes it could indeed reverse the trend and seize the key moment.

Just because the opponent was already assured of success, naturally he did not wish to stake his life with him. However, no matter which side wanted to change style in this white-steed-flits-past-a-crack [idiom: fleeting] instant, it was not an easy matter at all.

Who would have thought that although this shadow man was a colossus, his shenfa was extremely nimble, suddenly his figure spun, he slipped away four, five chi out of thin air.

In that instant, the hook and sickle spear suddenly retracted, and Chu Liuxiang, who was hanging midair, both the person and the net fell straight down.

Chu Liuxiang was falling down, while Hu Tiehua was charging up. It looked like not only Hu Tiehua was about to crash against Chu Liuxiang, his blade was also going to stab into Chu Liuxiang’s chest.

He was charging up with all his strength, it was too late to restraint his momentum. His only option was to suddenly let out all the true qi from his entire body, he would rather suffer injury than injuring Chu Liuxiang.

‘Bang!’ Chu Liuxiang collided with Hu Tiehua.

At this time, Hu Tiehua’s entire body was devoid of any strength, this collision made his head fainted, random stars appeared in his eyes, unexpectedly he was knocked unconscious.

In his dizzy state, he only felt that Chu Liuxiang was already pressing on him.

The opponent simply did not make a single move, yet he was already knocked down.

Half a day later, they heard someone giggled and said, “Other people say how formidable these two are, turns out they are just like this.”

This person’s voice was sharp, thin and fast, just like an underage child, but every word uttered could be transmitted into a distance, the abundance of the inner strength required at least several decades of pure effort.

Another person spoke slowly, “Jianghu is full of people with undeserved reputation, these two persons could already be considered not bad.”

This person’s voice was like Hong Zhong Da Lu [not sure, lit. great bell big pitchpipe, perhaps some kind of musical instrument], and it was extremely slow. By the time he said one word, the other person could already say at least three words.

Hu Tiehua’s ears were ‘buzzing’. Opening up his eyes to look, he saw two people standing side by side in front of him, one tall and one short.

The short one, even if he stood on tiptoes, he would never be able to reach the tall one’s shoulders. His body was thin and withered, but he wore a big straw hat that looked like a wheel on his head. Just like half a chopstick standing on a vegetable dish, the whole person was shrouded in the shadow of this straw hat, practically his facial features could not be seen.

But the giant had eyes like copper bells, his waist was like big tree trunk, with messy hair on his head, which was loosely tied into a bun; he looked like a two-zhang tall Vajra [guardian deity] in a mountain temple.

These two persons’ clothes were utterly luxurious, the tailoring was obviously first-class craftsmanship, but worn on their bodies, it became ruined [orig. reduced to a shadow].

The short man wore lake-water colored satin garment, but it had oil stains everywhere. It was plainly the first button, yet he buttoned it into the third buttonhole.

The giant’s gown was unexpectedly water red, but it was at least three sizes too small, two chi too short, so that worn on that body, it looked like it was stolen.

Two persons like that, unexpectedly they possessed brilliant martial art skill, Hu Tiehua nearly could not believe his own eyes, so he could not help asking loudly, “Who are you? Why …”

He had not finished speaking, the dwarf already called out, “You don’t even recognize me?”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “The grand Hu Tiehua, Hu Daxia [great hero], how could I recognize people like you?”

The dwarf heaved a sigh, he muttered, “I can’t believe this kid has mingled in Jianghu for so many years, unexpectedly he is completely mingling in vain, unexpectedly he doesn’t even recognize me, this Senior.”

As he spoke, he took off the big straw hat on his head and said, “Look again, who am I?”

It was only then did Hu Tiehua realize that this man was completely bald, without a single strand of hair at all; furthermore, his head was at least half a size larger than other people’s head. It was like sticking a steamed bun on half of the chopsticks. If Hu Tiehua hadn’t felt numb all over, this moment he would not be able to refrain from laughing.

The dwarf said, “Now you still cannot see who am I, this Senior yet?”

Hu Tiehua said, “I can only see that you are bald, that’s it, nothing unusual.”

The dwarf was not angry, he giggled instead and said, “Bald means without what?”

Hu Tiehua was stunned, he said, “Without what …? Naturally without hair.”

The dwarf said, “Without hair, it means ‘wu fa’ [no hair], right?”

Hu Tiehua has never seen such a snarky person, practically he did not feel like paying him any attention.

The dwarf put the big straw hat on his head again, he raised his head, and said with a grin, “Where is the sky, why is the sky gone?”

He put on such a big straw hat, indeed he could not see the sky anymore. Hu Tiehua could not help laughing again, but then he had a second thought, the muscles on his entire face suddenly froze.

The dwarf laughed and said, “Now you should know who am I, this Senior?”

Hu Tiehua spoke hoarsely, “Could it be that you … you are ‘Wu Fa Wu Tian’ [lit. no law, no sky; disregarding the law and of natural morality [idiom], note: different ‘fa’ character from ‘hair’ above], Tu Gouweng?” [Note: surname Tu literally means slaughter (same as ‘dragon slaying saber’ from Heaven Sword Dragon Saber), gou – dog, weng – old man, so together, his name means ‘old man dog butcher’.]

The dwarf clapped his hands and laughed heartily, he said, “You, this kid, have a bit of knowledge after all. The kid can be taught, the kid can be taught.”

And then he stretched out his hand to point at the giant, he said, “Do you know who he is?” [Note: the character ‘ta’ (he) was a generic term for he/him, sometimes used for either sex, when the sex is unknown or unimportant.]

Hu Tiehua heaved a sigh. Smiling wryly, he said, “Tu Gouweng and Du Yupo [yupo means fish (or fisherman) granny]. The scale never leaves the hammer, and the hammer never leaves the scale, how could I not know?”

Tu Gouweng roared in laughter and said, “That’s right, my wife, ‘Tian Luo Di Wang’ [lit. heaven net earth snare; idiom: inescapable net] Du Yupo, although I, the old man, disregard the law and natural morality, but once I entered her heaven net earth snare, I won’t be able to turn over anymore.”

This gigantic behemoth was unexpectedly a woman, it was already unimaginable, but she unexpectedly was this dwarf’s wife, it made people doubling-up in laughter even more.

Yet Hu Tiehua could not laugh anymore.

Simply because he knew that these two persons’ appearance was comical, but in Wulin for the last hundred years, they were one of the four couples bearing the most famous reputation, and the highest martial art skill.

Not only did these two use the extremely rare external school’s weapons in Jianghu, but also, their martial arts strange, their conduct hard to fathom. No one ever knew the husband and wife’s school or family, and no one would ever know when they appeared. Sometimes these two people would suddenly disappear like a gust of wind, no one would hear about them for twenty or thirty years, no one would know where they have gone even more.

But everybody in Jianghu knew one thing, which is: they would rather offend Tian Wang Laozi [old man the King of Heaven] than committing an offense against these husband and wife, two people. No matter who, offending them meant they could forget about passing another auspicious day.

He saw Tu Gouweng was still laughing so hard that he could hardly breathe, but after Du Yupo glowered at him, immediately he did not dare to laugh anymore.

If she did not glower, it was still all right, but as soon as she glowered, once she was angry, the clothes on her entire body seemed to be about to burst. Hu Tiehua did not understand why she was wearing such small clothes.

For some reason all women with big feet must like to wear small shoes, and fat women must also like to wear small clothes. If a tall woman marries a short husband, she would have wished to saw off a section of her leg – since she cannot saw her legs, then cutting two chi of her clothes would make her feel better.

Hu Tiehua suddenly laughed coldly and said, “Other people say how formidable Tu Gouweng, husband and wife are, turns out they are just like this.”

Tu Gouweng said, “I, this old man didn’t even move my hands, you are already lying down, could it be that you are still not convinced?”

Hu Tiehua spoke sternly, “If you dare to fight with me in an open and honest manner, and you can beat me by one move, half a style, naturally I will have nothing to say, but using such tricks to hurt people, you cannot be considered a hero.”

Tu Gouweng roared in laughter and said, “What you’re speaking is a layman’s language. Two people fighting, as long as you can beat the other side lying down, no matter what method you use, that is a skill. If I, the old man, can fart on you and kill you with the smell, you should be convinced.”

Unexpectedly he made Hu Tiehua so angry that he could not even speak.

He suddenly realized that at this moment, not only his whole body went numb, but Chu Liuxiang, who was pressing on him, did not even move, as if he was not even breathing.

Greatly shocked, he blurted out, “Old … Old Chu, why don’t you say something? Could it be that you …”

Tu Gouweng giggled again and said, “What you said is a layman’s speech again, could it be that you have not seen it? When I, the old man pulled the spear out, I hit two acupoints of his in passing.”

While laughing, he walked over and said, “Maybe this is because I, the old man moved too fast just now, hence you could not see clearly. Now …”

He had not finished speaking, he barely arrived in front of Chu Liuxiang, suddenly Chu Liuxiang’s pair of hands stretched out from the mesh like lightning. Not even in his dream has Tu Gouweng expected this move; greatly shocked, his pair of legs had been grabbed by Chu Liuxiang, and with a flick of a hand, his person also lay down.

Du Yupo roared angrily and flew up to pounce. Only to hear Chu Liuxiang scolded, “Stop, or your husband will be dead.”

As expected, Du Yupo did not dare to take a step forward, her eyes were brimming with concern and anxiety, it was obvious that toward this short and small husband, she really loved him dearly.

Tu Gouweng already cursed heavily, “Little bastard, using this kind of trick, you cannot be considered a hero.”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “Two people fighting, as long as you can beat the other side lying down, that is a skill … You said it yourself just now, could it be that you have forgotten it?”

Tu Gouweng stared blankly.

Hu Tiehua could not help roaring in laughter, he said, “Wonderful, wonderful, this is called moving bricks and smashing one’s own feet, farting and he is the one smelling his own fart.”

Who would have thought that Tu Gouweng also roared in laughter and said, “Good, good, good, Chu Liuxiang indeed has real skill, no wonder others are afraid of you.”

“How could I dare, how could I dare [to receive such praise],” Chu Liuxiang said.

Tu Gouweng said, “But there is one thing I really don’t understand. Just now I clearly sealed your acupoints. I calculated accurately that within these two sichen, you won’t even be able to fart, how could you suddenly be able to make your move?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled slightly and said, “When you sealed my acupoint, my body was already falling down.”

Tu Gouweng cut him off, “Not only you were falling down immediately, but you also immediately knocked against this kid surnamed Hu, how could you have a chance for dragon walk and apply your qi, to unseal your own the acupoints?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Zaixia still don’t have that kind of moving power and applying qi, the consummate skill of self-resolving acupoints. Gexia unavoidably praised me too much.”

Tu Gouweng asked, “Then what method did you use?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “The instant after the acupoint is sealed, anybody can still move, right?”

“That’s right,” Tu Gouweng said, “Because although at that time his acupoint was sealed, but there is a trace of residual true qi flowing in his body, but this only enable him to move for a short time.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Moving for a short time is enough.”

Tu Gouweng’s eyes lit up, he blurted out, “I get it. That time, you knew that your own ‘​​qi and blood ocean of acupoint’ was sealed, so you immediately moved your body to let this kid surnamed Hu to knocked open these two acupoints.”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “Precisely.”

Hearing that, Hu Tiehua was surprised and delighted at the same time, he roared in laughter and said, “You, this old man, have a bit of knowledge after all. The kid can be taught, the kid can be taught.”

Tu Gouweng heaved a sigh and said, “Chu Liuxiang, oh, Chu Liuxiang, you really are a ghost or a spirit. I never expected that I, this old man lived to be sixty, seventy years old, today unexpectedly I fell into your, this hairy young guy’s hands.”

All along Du Yupo’s eyes were staring at Chu Liuxiang, she spoke hoarsely, “What do you want now?”

By this time, Hu Tiehua already crawled up from under Chu Liuxiang’s body, he had even untied the giant net.

Du Yupo could only stare blankly as she watched.

Chu Liuxiang rose up to his full height, he spoke slowly, “What enmity do gentleman and lady have against Zaixia?”

Du Yupo immediately replied, “Nothing.”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled and said, “Since gentleman and lady plainly have no enmity against Zaixia, why did you treat Zaixia like this?”

Du Yupo was silent for half a day, she heaved a deep sigh and said, “We, husband and wife have always had clear distinction between gratitude and grudges, originally we did not have the intention to hurt you, it’s just that …”

Chu Liuxiang interjected, “It’s just that gentleman and lady received Li Guanyu’s kindness in the past, so you want to catch me and send me to the ‘Yong Cui Shanzhuang’, right?”

Du Yupo has not replied, Tu Gouweng has already roared in laughter and said, “That’s right, I, this old man originally wanted to send you, two little babies as a favor to him, therefore, if you want to kill me now, it is only heaven’s law and earth’s principle [idiom: right and proper].”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled, he said, “What if I don’t want to kill you?”

Tu Gouweng said, “I advise you, killing me is better. My character is the most narrow-minded, since I fell head first into your hands today, even if you let me go, maybe I will come to give trouble you in the future.”

Du Yupo’s countenance changed, she said, “You … you are trying to persuade others to kill you?”

Tu Gouweng laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter, anyway, I’m tired of being a man. Dying early, reincarnating early. In the next life, I will definitely be reincarnated as a woman. I will marry you again, to let you have a taste to be a husband. This way, the two of us can be considered even.”

Du Yupo’s face was ashen from anger, she hissed, “You really dare to talk to me like that.”

Tu Gouweng said, “When one is going to die anyway, what is it that I don’t dare to say?”

Hu Tiehua could not help saying, “If Chu Liuxiang let you go?”

Tu Gouweng said, “Why would he want to let me go?”

Hu Tiehua asked him back, “Why can’t he let you go?”

Tu Gouweng said, “I dealt with him like that, if he still let me go, he is a lunatic.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “He is not lunatic at all, only he is a gentleman, that’s all. You gauge the heart of a gentleman with your own mean measure [idiom], hence you thought he would kill you.”

Tu Gouweng was stunned, he said, “If he doesn’t kill me, that will be really bad.”

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