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The Thrush Chapter 14

CSI

Biting the Hand That Feeds One

A breeze carrying the fragrance of flowers blew toward him, from time to time, Miss Ping even glanced back at him and smiled. Inwardly he really was very happy, and was extremely proud.

Chu Liuxiang has been searching for months but still could not find them, and now, he could find them as easy as blowing off dust. Afterwards, he would take Su Rongrong, Li Hongxiu, Song Tian’er and Hei Zhenzhu, four persons to help Chu Liuxiang. With their, six people’s strength, would they still be afraid that they could not make the sky and the earth turning upside down [idiom] in this ‘Yong Cui Shanzhuang’? ‘By that time, will the old stinky bug still not admire me?’ Hu Tiehua felt that his whole body was light as a feather, his heart was about to fly into the sky.

He moved his gaze to Miss Ping’s perfectly round, ample buttocks stretched taut by the light silk pants, he could not help sniggering inwardly, thinking, “At that time, I must give it a light pinch, won’t this amorous big servant girl fall into my arms immediately?” Not only his heart was itching, his hands were trembling with excitement. Whatever places he walked pass, wherever he was going, he practically did not pay any attention.

Suddenly Miss Ping said, “We’re here, where are you going?”

Only then did Hu Tiehua come back to his senses. Laughing apologetically, he said, “Is it right here?”

Miss Ping said, “Uh huh! It’s in this room.”

He saw bead-curtain hanging down, and the room was extremely quiet. From time to time, a faint fragrance wafted over, but it was unclear whether it was the fragrance of flowers, or a human fragrance?

Miss Ping giggled and said, “Why are you still in a daze, give me the food box!”

With one hand she took the food box that Hu Tiehua was carrying, while resting her other hand on Hu Tiehua’s shoulder, and quietly said, “Come to me tonight, understand?”

Although inwardly Hu Tiehua was happy, he could not help feeling a little regretful, because he had no choice but to fail to live up to this affectionate girl’s good intention.

He was about to say a couple of tactful words before making his move, who would have thought … Who would have thought that this amorous Miss Ping girl would actually make her move first?

Her hand suddenly slid down from Hu Tiehua’s shoulder and tapped four acupoints on his left arm in succession. His right hand was still holding the food box, so that he could not even move.

By the time he flung the food box, the main artery on his right wrist was also sealed.

He heard Miss Ping leisurely said, “Amorous young man, although toward me you are not bad, I cannot but fail to live up to your good intention.” She slapped Hu Tiehua backhandedly, sending him down to the ground, she even pinched Hu Tiehua’s butt – Hu Tiehua was so angry that his belly felt like bursting.

This moment, not only he could not laugh anymore, he could not even cry.

Miss Ping clapped her hands and said, “Men!”

Immediately, several boys in dark green clothes and loose hair came out of the house.

Miss Ping said, “Take him out, bind him with beef tendons, and then go back to Shao Zhuangzhu Furen [madam young manor master], report to her that the person she told me to look for has now been found.”

The boy in dark green clothes bowed and said, “Yes.”

Miss Ping said, “Also, tell Zhang Guanjia [housekeeper, butler] to go to the stable, and beat the horse-faced Wang San fifty times before sending him to Huang Guanjia, and charge him with the crime of collaborating with the enemy.”

Hu Tiehua’s mouth was full of bile, he could not help saying, “You … you already knew who I am?”

Miss Ping smiled sweetly and said, “The famous Hu Tiehua, Hu Daxia, who doesn’t know?”

Hu Tiehua said, “But you …”

Miss Ping said, “Shao Zhuangzhu Furen already calculated accurately that you would look for those four Guniang, so she told me to pay attention to you. I thought, since it was time for breakfast, you might start from this clue: ‘eat’. Because, other than this, you practically did not have any other clues.”

She chuckled again and said, “Otherwise, how could I trust you so easily? This is perhaps because all the men in the world always have this shortcoming, always think that with three words, two sentences, they could deceive a woman. Only they don’t know that for a woman to deceive a man, it is much easier than for a man to deceive a woman.”

Hu Tiehua heaved a deep sigh, he muttered, “I clearly knew this logic already, why did I trust you so easily?”

Using the fingers to pinch the tip of the sword, Chu Liuxiang attacked with the hilt.

The tip of the sword was something that cannot be grasped, not only it was difficult to grasp, but also difficult to exert force. Using the sword hilt to attack naturally was not as convenient and fast, as well as incisive as using the tip of the sword.

In the world, definitely no one would hold a sword in this posture, unless he meant to be insulting, practically did not take his opponent seriously at all.

But now, Chu Liuxiang was facing peerless and terrifying opponent, moreover, it has not even been the time to drink a cup of tea after the sword formation was launched, time and again he already encountered dangerous move, twice the tip of the enemy’s sword nearly pierced his ribs, yet unexpectedly he still maintained this awkward posture of holding the sword.

Why did he do that? No one could guess his intentions.

Although others knew that Chu Liuxiang would never do meaningless things, no one carefully pondered his intentions, no one asked even more.

Because now was neither the time to use their heart to think, nor the time to use their mouth to ask question.

Now was the time to use their sword.

The flow of sword light was like flashing purple rainbow, and the change of sword style was even more instantaneous, there was absolutely no chance for people to ponder.

All the spirit and all the strength of each person was focused on the sword in his hand, and each person’s heart and creative mind have merged into one entity. The six swords of different lengths, different shapes have been transformed into one sword. The six people’s essence, qi, spirit, and strength have also dissolved into one.

The sword net has been woven more densely, and it has gradually begun to shrink. Chu Liuxiang was the fish in this net — once again he had fallen into the net.

This time, he had nowhere to go.

Looking from a distance, one could see that the sword qi was thousands of illusions, like ten-colored treasured banner. The dense sword qi made the temperature inside the room suddenly dropped, suddenly became like winter.

All along Liu Wumei’s countenance was changing indeterminately, only now did she show a slight smile, because she had already seen that no matter what, Chu Liuxiang would not be able to charge out of this sword formation.

The formidable power of this sword formation was indeed without any prospect of being destroyed, and without any possibility to be faulted.

So much so that even the dying old man’s eyes revealed an emotionally moved expression. This pressing sword qi seemed to have aroused the last trace of life force in his life.

His withered and thin fingers, which were usually trembling, stretched and flexed incessantly. He seemed to want to stand up, to grasp the hilt of the sword again, and threw himself into the battle.

He seemed unwilling to sit back and watch.

This moment, the sword net was shrinking even tighter, Chu Liuxiang’s clothes were torn to shreds by the sword qi, yet he was almost completely unable to fight back.

Right this moment, a boy in dark green clothes and loose hair walked in quietly along the corner of the wall and whispered a few words in Liu Wumei’s ear.

Liu Wumei now knew that Hu Tiehua had also fallen into the net.

Thereupon she laughed even more cheerfully, amidst the flowing-continuously sword light like clouds tinged with sunset hues, her smile seemed so cruel, yet so beautiful.

Right this moment, the flowing sword qi suddenly condensed, the sword qi filling the air condensed into six flying rainbows, crisscrossing like scissors cutting toward Chu Liuxiang.

The formidable power of the sword formation had already forced Chu Liuxiang into a dead end.

The moment this sword slashed would be the time Chu Liuxiang really reached the mountain and river exhausted [idiom: nowhere to go]. No matter what shenfa he used to dodge, he would inevitably be skewered through his chest.

In the whole world, there was absolutely no one who could evade all these six swords.

All of a sudden, there was a ‘Qiang!’ dragon roar sound.

Then, all the sword qi and flying rainbows disappeared like magic, Li Yuhan’s and the five old men in black’s bodies unexpectedly seemed to suddenly freeze in the air.

The smile on Liu Wumei’s face also condensed.

She found that Chu Liuxiang’s figure seized the opportunity to enter into Li Yuhan’s flank, his left palm was on Li Yuhan’s chest, but his right hand pinched his wrist.

The sword in Chu Liuxiang’s palm was no longer there, unexpectedly he used the sword in Li Yuhan’s palm to block the sword in the palm of the tall and slender old man in black.

The second withered, thin, short and small old man in black unexpectedly had a sword in each of his left and right hands — Chu Liuxiang’s sword had somehow ended up in the old man’s hands.

Every change in this sword formation, every move, has undergone extremely precise calculations, six swords’ coordination was like a single drop of water could not pass through, like seamless heavenly clothes.

Yet if one sword was lacking, the sword formation would have a gap, so much so that it practically could not be executed. If there was an extra sword, it would also become redundant like putting feet on a snake.

This moment, there was already an extra sword in the sword formation, so the momentum of the other three swords was all hindered by this extra sword.

Since their first sword had been blocked, the second sword could no longer be released, because Chu Liuxiang’s palm had already hit Li Yuhan’s vital point.

For Li Yuhan’s safety, they could not even move.

Unconsciously Liu Wumei’s palms broke out in cold sweat.

After no one knew how long, Chu Liuxiang suddenly smiled at the withered, thin, short and small old man in black, he said, “Zaixia have been looking forward to meeting Ling Lao Qianbei for the last twenty years, the ‘walking alone in the world, making his move with two pinnacles, the Yuanyang [mandarin duck] divine swords’; never thought that today unexpectedly I can make acquaintance with Ling Lao Qianbei, it is indeed a great honor and extreme favor.”

“Humph,” the old man in black snorted and said, “Could it be that you have recognized me early on?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “When Zaixia saw the five Qianbei just now, I only recognized one person, but it was not Ling Lao Qianbei.”

The old man in black said, “Who is it?”

Chu Liuxiang turned his eyes to the man in black holding the wooden sword, he said, “At that time, Zaixia only recognized this Qianbei must be the ‘Jade Sword’ Xiao Shi, Xiao Daxia. Since Xiao Daxia is not willing to show his true face, also afraid that Zaixia would see through Xiao Daxia’s identity and background from your weapon, hence you carved wood to make it a sword, to hide from people’s eyes.”

The ‘Jade Sword’ Xiao Shi was silent for half a day, and then he slowly lifted the black scarf covering his face, and said, “That’s right, I am Xiao Shi. Since you know my origin, you should already know my friendship with the old man Guanyu. Other things, no need for me to say.”

He saw that his face was like Guan Wang [not sure, lit. king wearing a crown], his eyes like the star, although the hair on his temples was gray, and the tip of his brows and the corners of his eyes were wrinkled, but it could still be vaguely imagined the splendor of his hand in the past, only he had grown blessed [to get fat (a sign of prosperity, so a compliment)] after he reached middle age.

Chu Liuxiang chuckled and said, “Precisely because Zaixia know the friendly relationship between five gentlemen and Li Lao Zhuangzhu [old manor master], Zaixia was able to guess that one of the five must be ‘Shuang Jian Wudi Zhen Guandong’ [peerless pair of swords subduing Guandong], Ling Feige Lao Qianbei, who have a family relationship [the character indicates that he was some kind of an uncle from mother’s side] with Li Lao Qianbei. Only momentarily I was unable to recognize which one.”

Ling Feige asked, “When did you recognize me?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “After Qianbei made a few moves, Zaixia then recognized you.”

Ling Feige said, “I did not use the sword technique of my own school, yet you can tell from that?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Although Qianbei is not using the sword technique of your own school, there are still traces to be sought, simply because Qianbei have always used the Yuanyang Shuang Jian [mandarin duck double swords], and now suddenly using a single sword, inevitably you are somewhat not used to it.”

He laughed and continued, “No matter who, the habit that has been deeply ingrained over several dozens of years can never be completely changed in a short time. Although Qianbei’s left hand is not holding a sword, but when nervous, your palm is tightly clenched, as if it is holding an invisible, formless sword.”

Ling Feige was also silent for half a day, he said, “All along you have been using your hand to hold the tip of the sword, was it because you were already planning to stuff the sword hilt into my hand?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled slightly and said, “That’s right, Zaixia knew that if the sword hilt was handed to Ling Lao Qianbei’s hand, Qianbei would definitely unconsciously take it. Because at this time, Qianbei has concentrated all essence and spirit into the sword in your palm, inevitably other things would be somewhat neglected. Therefore, at the moment inevitably Qianbei would be controlled by the ‘habits’.”

This logic is just like a smoker, if he made a firm resolution to be done with cigarette, but when his nerves are tense and he concentrates his attention completely on something, and there happens to be a cigarette nearby, he would unconsciously pick up the cigarette, because at that moment, his actions were controlled by ‘subconscious mind’.

At that time, naturally, Chu Liuxiang did not know what ‘subconscious mind’ was. He only knew that ‘habit becomes nature’ [idiom]. This logic is always correct.

Ling Feige let out a long sigh, he said, “To be honest, even after I took over this sword, I still don’t know how this sword got into my hands.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “But Qianbei must also know that this sword formation must not lack one sword, neither it gains an extra sword, otherwise, the execution of the formation will immediately be hindered.”

Ling Feige seemed to be in a heavy mood, he was unwilling to even want to utter a word.

Chu Liuxiang continued, “If the execution of the sword formation is hindered, the formation style would immediately reveal a gap, but with all Qianbei’s skill, this flaw could be mended in the blink of an eye.”

The tall old man said, “Hence you seized this blink of an eye to control Li Shi Xiong [noble brother, not ‘martial brother’] first, to have us refrain from shooting at the rat for fear of breaking the vases [idiom], and no longer make any more move.”

Chu Liuxiang heaved a sigh, he said, “Zaixia made this move, it was really compelled by the circumstances, Zaixia really do not have the intention to hurt Li Xiong at all.”

Liu Wumei suddenly rushed over and said loudly, “Then why don’t you let him go?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “If Zaixia let him go, will all of you also be willing to let me go?”

Liu Wumei gritted her teeth and said, “As long as you don’t hurt him, I’ll promise you …”

All along Li Yuhan kept his head down gloomily and remained silent, this moment he suddenly shouted, “You must not promise anything either, have you forgotten …”

Stomping her feet, Liu Wumei said, “I have not forgotten at all, but you … how could I let him hurt you?”

Li Yuhan said hoarsely, “Forget about me, even if you kill me, you simply must not let him go.”

Unexpectedly Liu Wumei was about to shed tears, she spoke in distress, “I know that for me, you would not hesitate …”

She has not finished speaking, Li Yuhan suddenly roared, he used his head to hit Chu Liuxiang’s chest, while his legs also moved in chain kicks, directly taking Chu Liuxiang’s lower abdomen.

This time, even Ling Feige’s countenance changed, because everybody knew that as long as Chu Liuxiang sent out his palm power, Li Yuhan’s internal organs, viscera, heart and lungs would be shocked and shattered immediately.

Only to hear, ‘Bang! Bang!’ in succession, Li Yuhan staggered back, the sword in his palm flew out, but his figure did not fall down.

Instead, it was Chu Liuxiang who was kicked down by him.

In that instant where his life was hanging by a thread, unexpectedly Chu Liuxiang did not use the power in his palm. Even when his own life was at risk, unexpectedly he still refused to harm other people’s life.

Li Yuhan staggered back, Chu Liuxiang body collapsed, a beam of sword light flew straight out … Also at this moment, Liu Wumei’s figure flew up.

Her figure was like a meteor chasing the moon, she grabbed the sword that flew out of Li Yuhan’s palm backhandedly. The sword light circled around, it carried both the person and the sword stabbing down on Chu Liuxiang.

Chu Liuxiang could not bear to harm others, but he himself was kicked hard. His face no longer carried the slightest bit of color of blood, while beads of cold sweat was trickling out.

By the time he saw Liu Wumei’s sword stabbing down on him, unexpectedly he was incapable of evading. It looked like Liu Wumei’s sword was about to nail him to the ground alive.

Suddenly, ‘Qiang!’, the sound was like a dragon’s roar, followed by sparks splashing everywhere.

Six sword lights from the sword in Ling Feige and the other, five men’s palms, flared out at the same time, interweaved into a sword net, unexpectedly it blocked Liu Wumei’s sword coming down from the air.

Liu Wumei was jolted back that she made a few somersaults high in the air before landing back to the ground. Although one hand was numb from the shock, she still clenched her sword tightly. She spoke in a trembling voice, “Qian … Qianbeimen [plural of ‘Qianbei’] want to save him?”

Xiao Shi spoke sternly, “He couldn’t bear to harm your husband’s life, hence he was kicked down, how could you kill him at such a time? How could the younger generation of the Li Family of Huqiu do such thing without benevolence, without righteousness?”

Liu Wumei hung her head down, she seemed to be speechless.

But Li Yuhan suddenly knelt down, with his head down, he said, “He was showing mercy, Wanbei also know. This kindness of not killing me, Wanbei will not dare to forget even more, no matter how Wanbei has to repay, Wanbei will not hesitate to do it.”

“Humph,” Xiao Shi snorted and said, “Now that’s proper, we, men of wuxia [martial arts chivalry] pay particular attention to clear distinction between gratitude and grudges.”

Li Yuhan said, “His kindness to Wanbei, admittedly Wanbei must repay, but today, no matter what, Wanbei cannot let him go.”

“What kind of talk is that?” Xiao Shi scolded.

Li Yuhan hung his head even lower, he said, “Just because no matter how deep, no matter how much his kindness to Wanbei, in the end, it cannot be as profound as my father’s kindness. If due to personal considerations Wanbei let him go today, I am afraid my father will bear the regret for the rest of his life. Filial piety and righteousness, two words, it is difficult to satisfy both sides, Wanbei can only put filial piety first. Qianbeimen can’t possibly ask Wanbei to be unfilial, right?”

Xiao Shi was silent for a long time, his eyes slowly turned to Li Guanyu.

Only to see the old man’s pale and numb face, this moment unexpectedly already turned red, the muscles at the corners of his mouth began to twitch, and that pair of hollow eyes was brimming with grief and indignation even more. Unexpectedly there seemed to be some kind of mysterious torch igniting his life, which would turn cold very soon, to be on fire again.

Xiao Shi let out a long, long sigh. He looked around and said, “Gentlemen, what’s your opinion?”

Ling Feige and others, four men seemed to be in a very difficult position, unexpectedly no one answered this question.

Li Yuhan glanced at them from the corner of his eye, he said, “Wanbei also knows that with Qianbei’s status and prestige, you would never take advantage of somebody’s precarious position and take other people’s lives, but based on Qianbeimen’s friendship with my father, surely it would be unlikely that you would see him suffer like this?”

He raised his head, and he slowly continued, “When training hard the sword qi seven years ago, my father has accidentally suffered fire deviation. In the past seven years, life is worse than death, how could Qianbeimen have the heart to …”

Xiao Shi suddenly shouted loudly, saying, “No need to say it, I just want to ask you one thing, even if we kill Chu Liuxiang at this moment, what benefit will it do to your father?”

Li Yuhan said, “Wanbei does not know why my father decided to take this person’s life, I only know that father’s order cannot be disobeyed, if Qianbeimen still have not forgotten the former days when Qianbeimen received my father’s …”

Xiao Shi cut him off again, he spoke loudly, “You don’t need to remind me, in the past, Li Guanyu indeed did not treat me badly, even if I can let down all the people in the world, I can’t let him down.”

While his mouth was speaking, he withdrew the sword in his palm and said, “I have made up my mind, I don’t know what you guys have to say.”

The tall old man sighed and said, “Since Shi Lao [ol’ Shi] is like this, Lao xiu [old rotten] have nothing to say even more.”

Ling Feige said, “Guanyu Xiong and I are not only close friends, but also close relatives, my situation is really even more difficult to talk about than yours. Therefore … therefore …” He suddenly turned around and said, “Today, whether gentlemen kill this Chu Liuxiang or let him go, I will simply not to hear, not to question, gentlemen would be better to just pretend that I’m not here!”

Now, four swords have been withdrawn.

The man in black that appeared to be the most ordinary had been silent for a long time, only this moment he spoke heavily, “My thought is the same as Fei Lao [ol’ Fei].”

It seemed like this man did not like to talk, he just said a few words and then turned around.

Thereupon the only thing remained was the big and tall old man’s sword. Although he held the sword hilt tightly, the tip of the sword seemed to be trembling.

Frowning, Xiao Shi said, “I know that the friendship between you and Li Guanyu is the deepest, why don’t you speak up?”

The old man in black heaved a deep, deep sigh and said, “Not only Guanyu Xiong has a deep friendship with me, but to me, he also has the kindness of saving my life. If it’s just for me alone, I don’t care if you ask me to kill Chu Liuxiang with my own hands, only unfortunately …”

“Unfortunately what?” Xiao Shi asked.

The old man in black said, “Shi Laozong [boss/sir] should know that at this moment, every word and action of mine is enough to influence several thousands of Wudang Mountain’s disciples, from top to bottom, how can I … how can I …” unexpectedly his voice trembled, obviously his heart was full of contradictions and pain.

Yet Xiao Shi spoke sternly, “Turns out you are concerned about your status as the great protector of Wudang, but if Li Guanyu did not save your life, would you be able to live until now? Why can’t you resign your protector position for him?”

Shockingly, the old man in black was unexpectedly the current number one guardian of Wudang Mountain, Tieshan Daozhang [Taoist priest], Chu Liuxiang could not help sighing inwardly, only to hear Xiao Shi spoke again, “To tell you the truth, after I repaid Li Guanyu’s kindness today, I also feel that I can no longer exercise control and command the disciples of Yu Jian Men [Jade Sword School], from now on, I can only withdraw from the fray and live in seclusion deep in the mountains, if you are willing to come and become my companion, I would welcome you very much.”

Tieshan Daozhang’s chest heaved up and down, beads of sweat already trickled down his sleeves.

Chu Liuxiang suddenly chuckled and said, “I don’t think Daozhang needs to feel difficult any more, it would be better for you to be like Daxia [great heroes] and catch me as a favor! The so-called ‘Jianghu righteousness and justice’ can have many kinds of interpretation. You kill me today, not only people will not say that you are without benevolence without justice, on the contrary, they will say that you are a man with clear distinction between gratitude and grudges, a man of character who will definitely pay kindness. If you let me go today, you will not be able to conduct yourself in the future.”

Tieshan Daozhang stomped his feet, suddenly he raised his left palm, and backhandedly slashed down on his own right shoulder. ‘Crack!’ his bones were like broken bamboo.

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