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The Thrush Chapter 15


The Taste of Death

Xiao Shi blurted, “Why did you do that?”

Priest Tieshan staggered back, he hissed with bitter smile, “You all saw it, Chu Liuxiang, you have also seen it, it’s not that I don’t want to stop them from killing people, I really am powerless to stop them.”

Liu Wumei’s face also lost the color of blood, unexpectedly she was so shocked that she could only stare blankly.

Priest Tieshan hissed, “Why don’t you kill him now? What are you waiting for?”

Liu Wumei also fell on her knees to the ground – together with Li Yuhan they bowed down and said, “Thank you Qianbei. Qianbeimen’s great kindness, disciple will not forget even after our teeth fall out.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed softly, he spoke with a wry smile, “There are people who treat me like Tieshan Daozhang, it can clearly be seen that ‘Jianghu righteousness and justice’, these four words are not to deceive people at all. Even if I die, I did not die in injustice, it’s just that I still don’t understand, why you must kill me. But I also know that you definitely will not be willing to tell me now, it looks like I will only have to be a confused ghost.”

Finally, Liu Wumei’s sword pierced into his chest.

Chu Liuxiang could already feel the sword blade piercing into his flesh and blood. Strangely, by this time, he did not feel fear, so much so that he did not even feel the pain.

He only felt that the sword blade was as cold as ice.

For some unknown reason, at this instant, unexpectedly his mind suddenly drifted to the distant place, floating to the distant north country, into that world of ice and snow.

He remembered that when he was very young, he and Hu Tiehua rolling around on the lovely pile of snow together, and Hu Tiehua quietly stuffed a ball of snow into his neck.

The ice and snow trickled down his chest, the feeling was the same as now.

When someone was trying to put ice down your neck, you might feel very scared, but when the ice and snow are already flowing over you, you would feel some kind of a cruel pleasure instead, as if you have obtained some kind of relief, because what you feared is finally over.

Because what people really fear is usually not the thing itself, but only what he imagines of that thing.

People are afraid of death, it is merely because no one understands the mystery of death, therefore, they have many terrifying imaginations about this matter, ‘death’.

Now, death has come to Chu Liuxiang.

In this many forms and colors, brimming with legends and amazing characters – life, God knows how many times he has faced death, but he has never lost his self-confidence.

Only this time, he himself was completely powerless, and he also knew that at this moment, absolutely no one would come to save him.

He only felt that he had never been this close to death, so close that he could see through the mystery of death, which made him feel that ‘death’ was nothing more than this, and it was not that dreadful. He felt that people who were afraid of death were not only very pitiful, but also really ridiculous.

At this moment, his only hope was that Hu Tiehua managed to get Su Rongrong and the others to escape — if he knew that Hu Tiehua had now fallen into the hands of other people, his mood at the death’s door would not be this calm.

In this instant, he unexpectedly remembered a lot of things, he himself did not know how in such a short time, in the blink of an eye, he could think of so many things.

He felt that the icy-cold blade was still resting on his chest.

Unexpectedly the sword blade seemed to have stopped.

Thereupon he could not help but take a last look at Liu Wumei.

He noticed that Liu Wumei unexpectedly was also staring at him, her pale and beautiful face unexpectedly seemed to carry some kind of mournful and regretful expression.

He heard Li Yuhan coughed softly and said, “Chu Xiong, we really feel somewhat sorry for you, I hope you forgive me.”

Chu Liuxiang nearly could not help laughing, the person who was killing someone, surprisingly asking the person who was going to be killed to forgive him. Chu Liuxiang only felt that what he said was really wonderful.

Unexpectedly Liu Wumei also let out a faint sigh and said, “We don’t want to kill you at all, we are really acting against our will.” She sighed again and raised her gaze.

Chu Liuxiang knew that as soon as she closed her eyes, the sword edge was going to stab down.

Who would have thought that right this moment, there was a crashing sound, apparently the small side table was overturned, all the tea cups on the table fell and shattered. Followed by someone speaking hoarsely, “Ss … stop!”

At this very moment, Chu Liuxiang really never expected that someone would come to save him.

Even in his dream he could not think of who the person who saved him was.

It was a very exquisite room. On the green-jade wonderful window, shadows of flowers were floating and drifting, on the violet gauze mosquito net the fragrance was dense, it seemed to be a young girl’s boudoir.

But in Hu Tiehua’s eyes, this was just no more than a prison cell.

Miss Ping paced back and forth incessantly in the room, her slender waist was still swaying so beautifully, her ample figure seemed to be about to burst through her thin light silk garment, so much so that the decorative design on her underwear was clearly visible. Such a girl walking back and forth in front of him, for a man, it was really a treat for the eyes.

But now, Hu Tiehua did not feel happy at all. He originally wanted to pinch this ample figure, but now he just wanted to punch her in the face, a heavy punch. It would be best if he could knock out all her teeth and tell her to never lie and deceive people again.

Only too bad that he was now bound around like a zongzi [glutinous rice and choice of filling wrapped in leaves and steamed or boiled].

He only felt that Miss Ping’s sway was getting more and more formidable, she swayed until his eyes were dazzled, so that he could not help saying loudly, “Do you have hemorrhoids on your butt? Why can’t you sit down?”

Unexpectedly Miss Ping really walked over and sat down in front of him.

Hu Tiehua did not expect her to be so obedient, he was stunned for half a day, and then said loudly, “I’m not your laozi [old man, father], why are you so obedient?”

Not only was Miss Ping still not angry, she even smiled sweetly and said, “Do you think you are going to die soon, hence you are this angry? Actually, you practically don’t need to lose your temper, because we practically are not going to kill you.”

Hu Tiehua rolled his eyes, he said, “Since you are not going to kill me, why don’t you let me go?”

Miss Ping said, “As soon as that Chu Liuxiang is dead, we will immediately let you go.”

Hu Tiehua frowned, Miss Ping already smiled and went on, “Not only will we let you go, even those four girls will be let go together with you. Therefore, you’d better ask Laotian [God/Heavens] to let Chu Liuxiang die sooner. The sooner he dies, the better it will be for you.”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “In that case, I’m afraid I will stay here and eat your food for the rest of my life.”

“Oh?” Miss Ping said.

Hu Tiehua glared at her, he sneered and said, “Let me tell you, Chu Liuxiang will never die. Now if you are smart, quickly let me go, otherwise, when he comes, hey hey …”

Miss Ping tittered and said, “Aiyo! I’m so scared! Don’t you scare me, I’ll be scared to death.”

Hu Tiehua also grinned and said, “Of course you’re not scared now, but when he comes …”

Suddenly he heard someone calling softly outside the door, “Ping Guniang.”

“Come in …” Miss Ping responded, “Have you gone to report to Shao Zhuangzhu Furen? What did Shao Furen say?”

The newcomer was precisely that boy with loose hair in dark green clothes, he bowed and said, “Shao Furen only chuckled, she did not say anything.”

Miss Ping cast a glance at Hu Tiehua, she then asked, “Did you see that Chu Xiang Shuai?”

The boy in dark green clothes chuckled, he said, “I did, he is indeed a man with very presentable appearance. At least he’s much more good looking, and much smarter than this gentleman.”

“Humph,” Hu Tiehua could not help snorting, he said, “Children know fart.”

Miss Ping laughed heartily and said, “Precisely because children don’t know things that they are telling the truth.”

The boy in dark green clothes suddenly laughed again and said, “I often hear people say how amazing this Chu Xiang Shuai is. In my opinion, apart from being better-looking than other people, in other things, he is very ordinary. Not long after I walked in, he was kicked by Shao Zhuangzhu and was lying on the ground, unable to even move.”

Hu Tiehua said angrily, “Perhaps you are just seeing ghost in broad daylight.”

The boy in dark green clothes giggled and said, “If you think I’m lying, you are free not to believe.”

Hu Tiehua gritted his teeth, he stared blankly for half a day, finally he could not help saying, “Although I don’t believe it, it won’t hurt to listen to you. I am bored anyway.”

The boy laughed and said, “You’re bored, but I’m so busy that I don’t have time to tell you!” His mouth was speaking those words, unexpectedly he already turned around and swaggered off.

Hu Tiehua was anxious but also angry, so that even his neck was bulging, but he couldn’t do anything.

Who would have thought that after half a day, the boy suddenly stuck his head in,  looked at him, and said with a laugh, “If you really want to know how your friend is doing, I have a way.”

Hu Tiehua blurted out, “What way?”

The boy spoke leisurely, “If you’re willing to give me something, my heart will be happy, maybe I will tell you.”

Hu Tiehua asked, “What do you want me to give you?”

The boy’s eyeballs rolling, he said, “I don’t want anything else, I just want the silver box in your possession.”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “Liu Wumei really did not forget this thing, why didn’t she come to get it herself?”

The boy said, “Why would Shaonainai [young lady of the house] have to go out in person? Let’s say it’s me, myself, forget about asking for something from you, even if I want you to take off all your clothes and pants, you can only watch helplessly.”

Sure enough, Hu Tiehua’s eyes grew so big that they were really bigger than chicken eggs, he said angrily, “You … You dare.”

The boy laughed and said, “Why should I not dare? Only our Li family has always been very well-behaved, definitely will not want other people’s belonging randomly, unless you are willingly giving it to me.”

Miss Ping smiled sweetly, she said, “Don’t worry, Hu Daxia has always been the most generous, definitely he will not hate to part with such a thing. Besides, although his mouth doesn’t say it, his heart is already anxious to the death. If you still refuse to tell that Chu Xiang Shuai‘s current situation, you might really make him anxious to the death.”

Although Hu Tiehua’s fire was shooting out three zhang away [furious], he was indeed eager to know the news about Chu Liuxiang; even if the news was unreliable, it would better than no news at all. He could only sigh inwardly, but his mouth said loudly, “That’s right, Hu Daye [big master] has always been very generous, if you want it, just take it!”

The boy immediately took out the Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails from his pocket, he laughed and said, “This is you are willingly giving it to me, I did not force you, right?”

Hu Tiehua muttered, “This is called a thirty-year-old woman stumbling over the pit of a fruit, just consider I am out of luck.”

The boy laughed and said, “You still think you are out of luck? Compared with your friend, you practically have great luck.”

Hu Tiehua hurriedly said, “He … what happened to him?”

The boy said, “After Shao Zhuangzhu kicked him down, Shaonainai immediately rushed over and stabbed him with a sword. That famous Chu Xiang Shuai unexpectedly could not even dodge.”

Even though Hu Tiehua did not believe it, but listening to this point, he could not help crying out in alarm, but the boy chuckled, he continued slowly, “But those five Qianbei thought that Shaonainai should not kill him, unexpectedly they made their move together to block Shaonainai’s sword …”

Listening to this point, Hu Tiehua unconsciously breathed a long, long sigh of relief, he said, “It seems that those five men indeed did not fail their air as renowned experts.”

The boy said, “This moment you believe that I am telling you the truth?”

Before Hu Tiehua could speak, Miss Ping already laughed and said, “Of course he believes, because it is always easier for anybody to believe good news.”

The boy said, “In that case, if I go on, I am afraid he won’t believe a word anymore.”

Miss Ping blinked and said, “Oh?”

The boy said, “Just because in what I am going to say, there won’t be a word of good news.”

Hu Tiehua spoke hoarsely, “Could it be … could it be that those five men changed their minds again?”

The boy said, “Although some of the five men are fake Taoist, but they are, after all, not old, confused men, they can still tell the seriousness of the matter. After Shao Zhuangzhu reasoned with them, they, five men finally withdrew their hands one by one.”

Although Hu Tiehua did not want to believe him, he could not but believe. He could not help asking, “What happened afterward?”

The boy said, “Afterward, I left.”

Hu Tiehua yelled at him, “You left? Why did you leave?”

The boy chuckled and said, “Because I am most afraid to see dead people, I saw Shaonainai’s sword piercing into his chest, immediately I slipped out quietly. This is bad news, I know you won’t believe it, but sooner or later you will believe it, and I practically do not need to lie to scare you.”

Hu Tiehua felt his entire body went numb, his brow was beaded with sweat, which poured out like rain.

The boy laughed and said, “Only after I left, someone may suddenly emerge to save him. I’ve heard that Chu Liuxiang has many friends, is that right?”

Hu Tiehua spoke loudly, “Of course someone would save him. Of course someone would save him, of course …” He said this sentence several times in a row, just because he was afraid that he himself would not believe it, so he said it several times to strengthen his confidence.

However, even after he said it seven or eight times, he still could not believe it.

The boy spoke leisurely, “You think, who would come to save him?”

Hu Tiehua said, “There are many people who would save him, there are simply too many.”

“Oh?” the boy said, “Tell me a couple of them then.”

Hu Tiehua said, “For example, for example … Zhongyuan Yi Dian Hong [One Red Dot of the Central Plains], Wan Li Du Xing [Walking Alone for Ten Thousand Li] Dai Lao Qianbei, Shaolin Southern School’s Zhangmen [headmaster] Tianfeng Dashi, also our old friend Ji Bingyan, ha ha! You must have heard of these names?”

Although he staked everything to comfort himself, he knew that these people would never rush over all of a sudden, and even if they did come, they might not necessarily be able to save Chu Liuxiang.

The boy rolled his eyeballs again, he said, “That’s right, I seem to see an old monk, he seems to be Tianfeng Dashi.”

Greatly delighted, Hu Tiehua said “You really see him?”

The boy said, “Um! But after a closer look, I realized that he was not a monk, he was just a bald man.”

Hu Tiehua was about to go crazy with anger, and he seemed to be about to go mad with anxiety.

The boy giggled and said, “Don’t be angry, I did not mean to anger you, but since you like to deceive yourself, I had no choice but to help you deceiving yourself.”

Hu Tiehua screamed, “You think you are very proud of yourself, let me tell you, if you really kill Chu Liuxiang, within half a month, this Yongcui Shanzhuang will be razed to the ground.”

Before he could finish talking, suddenly some ‘Clank! Clank!’ noise was heard in the room. The noise sounded like an iron hammer.

After listening carefully, the noise seemed to come from below.

The boy looked at Miss Ping and said with a laugh, “Could it be that the tigress is showing off her might again?”

Miss Ping heaved a sigh, she said, “She is calling people. If I don’t go down, she will keep knocking, until everyone is dead by the noise.”

The boy laughed and said, “You show her some color, she will be obedient to you.”

Miss Ping said, “I already wanted to show them for a long time, but Shaonainai plainly told me to be polite to them. Luckily now that the one surnamed Chu is done for, I can finally escape from the abyss of suffering.”

Hu Tiehua’s eyes grew big again, he spoke loudly, “You are talking about Su Guniang and the others?”

Miss Ping’s fluid glance rolling over, she suddenly laughed and said, “You want to see them, don’t you? All right, I’ll take you there now. I think you and the tigress can be considered a couple made in heavens.”

She pulled a roll of painting hanging on the wall. As soon as it was pulled, the painting rolled up, revealing a tunnel. Going down a few stone steps was an underground room adorned with iron bars.

As soon as Hu Tiehua reached the bottom, he saw three turtles.

The three turtles were painted using big brush and thick ink on the wall directly ahead, the largest one was even bigger than a round table.

Best of all, this turtle had a beard on its head.

The other two were drawn a bit smaller, next to them were written, “Portrait of Li Guanyu, Portrait of Li Yuhan, Portrait of Liu Wumei. Song Tian’er of Lingnan Playing Ink. Inscription by Li Hongxiu of the Central Plains.” [Interesting fact (for Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan readers): her surname Song is the same as the Song Family of Lingnan; perhaps they were based on actual family?]

On either side of the big hall, there were ‘rhyming couplets’ as well, ‘The son is a bad boy, the old man is a bad father, the daughter-in-law is a bad granny [or matron], one family of three losers.’

If this moment Hu Tiehua was not laden with anxiety, perhaps he would have roared in laughter early on. And then, he saw the four people,

All four were young, pretty, and stunning beauties.

The first one Hu Tiehua saw had two big braids, light brown watermelon-seed face, combined with a pair of lively and witty big eyes. This moment she was using a copper washbasin to beat on the iron bars incessantly.

The one next to her was wearing bright red, like raging inferno – clothes, but her skin was like white jade, and so tender that it could break just by blowing on it.

The other two were playing chess on the other side. Although on this side the noise was already like overturning the heavens, on that side it seemed like not the slightest noise was heard.

The person on the left was gentle and soft, while also gentle and quiet, her hair was worn in a loose bun, her fluid glance was clear, she looked like a fairy in the sky, someone who did not eat the food of common mortals.

The person on the right was like a peach blossom in spring, but cold like the ice in winter. On her deathly pale face, there was a pair of eyes as deep as seawater.

Hu Tiehua let out a long, long sigh, he muttered, “I finally saw them, but unfortunately it’s too late.”

The girl with the big braids saw Miss Ping, she roared in laughter and said, “Bad girl, is your leg broken? A bit longer, I will report you to the landlord.”

Miss Ping smiled and said, “I am not a bad girl, and I don’t understand what you are talking about.”

The young girl laughed aloud and said, “You don’t understand? You don’t understand, yet you know I call you a bad girl?”

The expression on her face was ever-changing and very rich, clearly she was still laughing, but suddenly her face became serious; she spoke sternly, “I ask you, are all the masters of your house is dead? How come until now they have not come here to talk to us yet?”

Although she spoke ‘Guanhua’ [Mandarin, ‘officialese’] with a few Guangdong [Cantonese] dialect mixed in it, Miss Ping could finally understand her, but before she had a chance to speak, the girl in red’s eyes suddenly grew big, she blurted out, “Hu … Hu … aren’t you surnamed Hu?”

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