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The Thrush Chapter 20

CSI

Seniors’ Air

Muttering to himself irresolutely, Chu Liuxiang said, “In that case, you haven’t seen ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji either.”

Liu Wumei sighed and said, “Not only have I not seen her, but I haven’t even seen a single one of her disciples.”

Hu Tiehua asked, “How did you get back?”

Liu Wumei replied, “I don’t know how long I have been begging, but suddenly my nose smelled another odor. This time unexpectedly I smelled something fragrant, like a spring breeze blowing in through the window at night, it also seemed like the sweet smelling of a mother’s bosom. As I smelled this fragrance, unconsciously I fell asleep.”

Hu Tiehua said, “When you wake up, you already returned to the Puti An?”

“That’s right,” Liu Wumei replied.

She heaved a sigh, and then continued, “When I woke up, my clothes were dry, and the old nun was sitting across from me, holding the tea bowl I just drank, as if nothing had happened. I asked her again, and I begged her again, yet she did not even hear a word.”

Song Tian’er felt her hands and feet grew cold, she spoke in a trembling voice, “You … you seem to have been dreaming?”

Liu Wumei said sadly, “That’s right, sometimes even I cannot tell, was it real? Or was it a dream?”

Li Hongxiu also let out a long sigh, she smiled wryly and said, “Listening to you, I don’t want to go to the Shen Shui Gong anymore.”

Song Tian’er looked at Su Rongrong and said, “Shen Shui Gong … Shen Shui Gong? What kind of place it actually is?”

Although she was asking Su Rongrong, she did not want Su Rongrong to answer.

Because she knew that Su Rongrong would definitely not be able to answer.

Everybody was silent again, in all their heart, there was this question.

Was Shen Shui Gong really like what Su Rongrong said, an out-of-this-world Peach Blossom Spring, a paradise on earth? Or was it like Liu Wumei said, a hell on earth full of mystery and terror?

Stroking his nose again, Hu Tiehua muttered, “Maybe the two of you went to different places.”

Liu Wumei said, “There is only one Shen Shui Gong in the world: there is absolutely no second one.”

Su Rongrong said, “The place I went was Shen Shui Gong, definitely it was not wrong.”

The tone of their voices was the equally affirmative.

Hu Tiehua sighed and said, “If it were someone else saying that they definitely were not wrong, I might not believe it, but since you, two Guniang said that you were definitely not wrong, then perhaps …” He suddenly stopped, glaring at Liu Wumei, he said, “When you got to that place, you did not see a single person. How do you know that that place is Shen Shui Gong?”

Li Hongxiu also immediately added, “Right; how do you know that the old nun in the Puti An would definitely send you to Shen Shui Gong?”

Su Rongrong’s eyes emitted light, she also hurriedly said, “Who told you that to go to Shen Shui Gong, you must first pass through the Puti An? Maybe this is just a trap that that person set up for you.”

Liu Wumei said, “A trap?”

Su Rongrong said, “That’s right, a trap.”

She added, “That person may have a grudge against him … against Chu Liuxiang, so he deliberately set up this trap to deceive you, naturally the old nun of the Puti An was in collusion with him.”

Clapping his hands, Hu Tiehua said, “Not the least bit wrong. They are doing this, their objective was for you to kill Chu Liuxiang, they actually did not send you to the Shen Shui Gong at all.”

Li Hongxiu said, “After you drank that cup of tea, you already lost consciousness. They could have sent you anywhere, you wouldn’t know anyway.”

Liu Wumei muttered to herself irresolutely, she spoke slowly, “What Guniang [plural] said is not without any reason.”

Li Hongxiu said, “Naturally it is very reasonable. The cave that you went might be under the Puti An, and the voice you heard might be the old nun talking.”

Liu Wumei heaved a sigh, she said, “However, since this matter concerns my life and death, how could I listen to other people randomly? The person who pointed this path to me, naturally I can trust him very much.”

“Hey, hey …” Hu Tiehua laughed mischievously, he said, “Those who trust others too much will be unfortunate. You should understand this logic better than others.”

Liu Wumei blushed and hung her head down, she said, “But this person … this person would never tell lies.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Oh? I haven’t seen someone who has never told a lie for a long time. I want to see who this person is?”

Liu Wumei said, “He, the Senior, is a Wulin figure known as the ‘Junzi Jian’ [Gentleman Sword], Huang Luzhi, Huang Lao Jianke [old swordsman]. I believe ladies and gentlemen must have more or less heard of some of his, the Senior’s deeds.”

Hu Tiehua was immediately speechless, just because he also knew that if there was someone in the world who would never tell lies, that person must be this ‘Gentleman Sword’ Huang Luzhi.

Li Hongxiu could not help saying, “She is right, this Huang Lao Jianke is indeed worthy to be called an honest gentleman, in all his life he has never told a lie. The most hard-to-come-by is that he not only treats his friends with sincerity, but even toward his enemy he has always told the truth and never be willing to tell a lie.”

Song Tian’er clapped her hands and said with a laugh, “Our Li Guniang wants to show off the knowledge in her belly again. She indeed has a bellyful of tales, which, when she told, really made people who hear it ooze oil from their ears.”

Although she spoke ‘Guanhua’ [Mandarin], it was half-cooked, so that it was even more difficult to understand than her Cantonese.

Liu Wumei could not understand what she was saying, but she felt a little strange, “This Li Guniang is young, when the ‘Junzi Jian’ wandered in Jianghu, perhaps she had not yet been born, but listening to the tone of her voice, she seemed to know a lot about the ‘Junzi Jian’ of the past.” She did not know that Li Hongxiu not only knew a lot about the past events of the ‘Gentleman Sword’, but the important event of the past concerning famous figures in Jianghu, it was very seldom that she did not know.

Hu Tiehua could not help asking, “You said that Huang Lao Jianke was unwilling to tell a lie toward his enemies, I don’t get it.”

Li Hongxiu said, “When you fight with someone, if the other side asks, ‘Which martial art you are the best at? Which moves are the most formidable? When making your move, which style are you going to use?’ Would you be willing to tell him?”

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud and said, “There can never be too much deception in war. When fighting against others, the most important thing is empty is real, real is empty, only then will the opponent be unable to resist. If one reveals one own’s inside information first, what kind of fight is that?”

Li Hongxiu said, “If someone asks you these questions, you definitely will not be willing to tell him!”

Hu Tiehua said, “If that person is my opponent, I naturally refuse to tell him, but my opponent will also never ask me those questions, because he knows that I am not crazy, even if I tell him, it definitely will not be the truth.”

Li Hongxiu chucked, she said, “I also know that you will never tell, even if you tell it, the other side will neither believe nor dare to believe it, but when Huang Lao Jianke fought against other people, no matter what the other people ask him, he would tell it one by one, moreover, once he said it, he would definitely not change it. If he said he would use the ‘Flying Bird Throwing Itself into the Forest’ to slash the opponent’s cloth head covering, he definitely would not use the move ‘Jade Woman Traveling Back And Forth’ to stab the other person’s chest.”

Hu Tiehua was stunned, he said, “Fighting hand to hand like that, won’t that mean he would certainly suffer big loss?”

“That’s right,” Li Hongxiu said, “Precisely because of this that all his life Huang Lao Jianke suffered I don’t know how many losses in his life, only because after other people knew his character, they would ask him clearly first before they want to fight against him.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Although admittedly Huang Lao Jianke’s power is profound, even if others know what moves he would use, they would not be able to parry and resist, but if he encountered someone whose power was on par with him, wouldn’t it mean that he would have been defeated without a fight?”

Li Hongxiu sighed and said, “Precisely. Therefore, there have been several battles where clearly Huang Lao Jianke should have won, but he lost instead. However, it was also because he was a sincere gentleman that even if others beat him, they would not bear to harm him.”

Liu Wumei continued, “What’s more, Huang Lao Qianbei treats people with sincerity, so he has a lot of good friends. Almost all the heroes of the older generation in Jianghu were his, the Senior’s close friends, so even his opponents would not dare to harm him.” She let out a long, long sigh and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, think about it, something that such a person said, can I not believe it?”

Smiling wryly, Hu Tiehua said, “If you said it this way, the place you went to must also be the Shen Shui Gong, definitely not wrong.”

Su Rongrong was silent for half a day, she said, “It’s a pity that we don’t know where Huang Lao Jianke is, otherwise I would really like to ask for guidance from him for a few things.”

All along Chu Liuxiang has been listening quietly, this moment he suddenly chuckled and said, “Whatever it is that you want to ask for guidance, there is no harm in speaking it out, perhaps Huang Lao Jianke might hear it, you never know.”

Su Rongrong’s eyes grew big, she said, “Could it be that he is nearby?”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled again, but said nothing.

They heard the sound of someone coughing lightly, twice, on top of the stone steps of the tunnel. Followed by three men walking down slowly.

These three people were all wearing black robes, all with swords hanging on their waists. Hu Tiehua immediately recognized them as the men who had fought against Chu Liuxiang just now. Only now they have taken off the silk scarves covering their faces.

Although the three had the same calm demeanor, their appearances were quite different.

The one who walked first was an old man with delicate features, his face was like a silver basin. Although he was now blessed [i.e. gained weight (a sign of prosperity)], he must have been an elegant and poised handsome man in the past.

There was still a scowl between his eyebrows, apparently his anger had not abated, his temperament was obviously very resolute and upright. Without needing to ask, everybody knew that this person must be the ‘Jade Sword’ Xiao Shi, who was famous all over the world.

The man next to him was slender and tall, his countenance clear, almost a head taller than him. His expression was serious, but his eyes were very kind.

At this moment, his eyebrows were slightly wrinkled, as if he had some load on his mind.

There was another man behind him, his build was not too tall, but it could not be considered short either, his appearance was very ordinary, very peaceful, basically without even a hint of emotion.

Among the three, he was the only one who did not seem to have that kind of intimidating skills of a famous swordsman, yet he was also the only one with the most cold and detached expression, so that other people were afraid to get close.

As soon as Li Yuhan, husband and wife saw these three men, they suddenly knelt down again, not even daring to raise their heads. The men did not even cast a glance at them, but raised their cupped fists at Chu Liuxiang.

The ‘Jade Sword’ Xiao Shi heaved a deep sigh and said, “Lao xiu [old rotten] just now was deceived and nearly made a big mistake. I really have no face to see Xiang Shuai again.”

Chu Liuxiang immediately bowed and said, “Qianbei’s words are serious, how could Zaixia bear it?”

The tall and slender old man also sighed and said, “In all my life, Lao xiu has never done anything to wrong other people, but this time … ay! This time really makes Laofu [I, spoken by on old man] ashamed and unable to show my face, but hoping that Xiang Shuai would forgive me.”

Chu Liuxiang could only repeatedly say, “I don’t dare, I don’t dare …”

Stomping his feet, Xiao Shi said, “Long story short, Lao xiu and the others have no face to see anyone anymore, but if we simply avoid the problem by walking away from it, it would be even more outrageous, therefore, we turned around to bring a bramble and ask for punishment [idiom: to offer a humble apology] to Xiang Shuai.”

Hu Tiehua was originally very angry with them, but this moment, seeing that they unexpectedly did not hesitate to move their honor away and drop their nobility down and come to apologize humbly to a kid, a younger generation, he could not help but secretly praising them.

“Right is right, wrong is wrong. If you’re wrong, admit your mistake, never shirk from responsibility … This kind of Wulin Qianbei’s air is indeed admirable.”

Chu Liuxiang also showed horrified expression on his face. After a few words of modesty, he immediately asked, “Is Li Lao Qianbei’s condition any better?”

Xiao Shi sighed and said, “Although because Huang Tian [Emperor of Heaven] have eyes Guanyu Xiong has some good come out of a bad situation [idiom] this time, but after a long illness, his essence and qi are empty, this time he was moved by anger, although the old illness is gone, new illness appears. Although by working together we managed to bring his true qi back into the right track, I am afraid momentarily it will still be difficult for him to recover.”

Chu Liuxiang asked, “How about Tieshan Daozhang?”

Xiao Shi spoke sadly, “This Dao Xiong [Taoist brother] has the nature of cassia ginger, the older the spicier, yet he has not thought that he is no longer a teenager, how can he withstand such a heavy blow? Just now, although he was barely able to withstand it, but his condition at this moment seems to be more serious than Guanyu Xiong. Fortunately, Ling Fei Lao is a renowned expert in treating injuries and is still taking care of him at the moment.”

Listening to this point, Li Yuhan already had his cheeks streaming with tears, Liu Wumei was already sobbing even more. Husband and wife, two persons had their heads on the ground together. Choking with emotion, he said, “Wanbei deserves to die! Both Wanbei deserves to die!”

It would be better if they did not speak, as soon as they said this, immediately Xiao Shi’s anger flared up again, he spoke sternly, “You two still have the guts to stay here? You two even lied to us, could it be that you aren’t afraid of the family law left by your Li family ancestors?”

In tears, Li Yuhan said, “Wanbei also knows that there is no way to redeem my crime, I should be executed. I only ask Qianbei to spare her life, she … she … she had nothing to do with this matter.”

Xiao Shi said angrily, “If she has nothing to do with this matter, then who has anything to do with it? The reputation of ‘Yongcui Shanzhuang’ has been completely ruined by you, could it be that you still want to leave her without any face?”

Lying prostrate, Liu Wumei cried bitterly, “That’s right, this matter is all because of me, it has nothing to do with him, Qianbei, please spare him!”

Hearing this miserable cry, Su Rongrong and the others could not help feeling sorrowful for them, only they did not know how to plea for leniency for this pair of mandarin ducks with the same fate.

Who would have thought that the slender and tall old man sighed and said softly, “You don’t have to feel bad. We were entrusted by Guanyu Xiong to deal with you according to the family law, but just now we heard your story from upstairs, and we feel that your experience is very pitiful, really is not without anything to forgive. We have decided to intercede with Guanyu Xiong on your behalf.”

Xiao Shi stomped his feet again and again, he spoke with wry smile, “I just said that I wanted to teach them a lesson, how could you tell them the truth at this moment?”

The slender and tall old man sighed and said, “They seem to have shown regrets, so why do you have to make them worry?”

Su Rongrong could not help exchanging glances and a smile with Li Hongxiu, just because listening to this point, they have guessed that this slender and tall old man must be the ‘Gentleman Sword’.

However, forget about Su Rongrong and the others, even Chu Liuxiang unexpectedly could not see the origin of that ordinary-looking swordsman with cold and detached expression.

His age seems to be younger than Xiao Shi and Huang Luzhi, but when Chu Liuxiang was trapped in the sword formation just now, he had already realized that this person’s power was profound, his sword technique was shrewd and ruthless, definitely not inferior to Xiao Shi, Tieshan Daozhang, Ling Feige, Huang Luzhi, and Shuai Yifan, those famous senior swordsmen.

Furthermore, since he was Li Guanyu’s good friend, naturally he was also a senior who has made his name for a long time, yet Chu Liuxiang clearly was not able to remember such a person among the renowned experts of the older generation.

Chu Liuxiang was about to inquire about his name and origin, who would have thought that he had already turned around, put his hands behind his back, raised his head and stood there, lost in thought, no one knew what he was thinking.

Surprisingly, Xiao Shi and Huang Luzhi did not introduce Chu Liuxiang to him either, he seemed to be a very mysterious figure. Chu Liuxiang could not help but become more and more curious about him.

This moment, the ‘Gentleman Sword’ suddenly looked at Su Rongrong and said, “This Guniang …”

Su Rongrong immediately bowed in respect and said, “Wanbei Su Rongrong, there are a few things I would like to ask for Qianbei’s guidance.”

Huang Luzhi smiled and said, “Su Guniang, feel free to speak up!”

Muttering to herself irresolutely for half a day, Su Rongrong said, “Does Qianbei really know that the Puti An is the connection to the Shen Shui Gong?”

Huang Luzhi replied, “That’s right.”

He also muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day before continuing, “When Wumei asked me, Lao xiu did not know why she wanted to go to Shen Shui Gong, I attributed that as a teenage curiosity, that she was just asking casually.”

Su Rongrong said, “Does Qianbei know the background of that Lao Shitai [old (Buddhist) master (female), counterpart of Dashi (great master)] at the Puti An?”

Huang Luzhi said, “That mute Shitai could be regarded as a strange person of the present age, no one has ever known her origin, and no one has ever heard her speaking a single word.”

Su Rongrong said, “Is she really disabled, or is she pretending to be deaf and mute?”

Huang Lu sighed, he said, “If a person can pretend to be deaf and mute for several decades, there must be something that broke her heart, why would Lao xiu bother to investigate whether she is real or pretending?”

Su Rongrong spoke solemnly, “Qianbei’s vision is indeed beyond what Wanbei can hope to reach, Wanbei is really ashamed.” She hung her hands and stood respectfully, unexpectedly she no longer asked question.

Half a day later, Huang Luzhi could not help asking, “Perhaps Su Guniang wanted to ask more than these two questions?”

Su Rongrong muttered to herself irresolutely again for a long time before she respectfully said, “Wanbei indeed have something to ask for Qianbei’s guidance.”

Huang Luzhi said, “If that’s the case, why did Guniang not ask?”

Su Rongrong said, “Wanbei is afraid that there are some things that Qianbei is unwilling to tell an outsider, but if Wanbei asked, Qianbei will definitely not give perfunctory answer with empty words, thereupon Wanbei does not dare to ask again.”

Listening to this, Hu Tiehua felt secretly amused, “No wonder the Old Stinky Bug sent this Guniang to the Shen Shui Gong to make some inquiries. It seems that she is indeed very skilled in the art of questioning. Although her mouth said ‘does not dare to ask again’, she has actually already asked everything, furthermore, she made it so that the other person cannot but giving her the answer.”

As expected, Huang Luzhi chuckled and said, “I wonder if Guang wanted to ask how did Lao xiu know about this matter?”

Su Rongrong smiled but said nothing.

Huang Luzhi said, “Actually, on this matter, Lao xiu also heard from others.”

As if it was unintentional, he cast a glance at the ordinary-looking swordsman in black, and then continued, “Lao xiu also believes that what this person said must be true and not fake, just because in all his life he had never concealed anything from Lao xiu, let alone said a word of lie to Lao xiu.”

Su Rongrong’s eyes flashing, she suddenly laughed and said, “This person must be Qianbei’s intimate friend of the fairer sex [hongfen zhiji, lit. rouge and powder who knows oneself,] …” She deliberately dragged the four words ‘hongfen zhiji’ much longer than necessary.

As expected, Huang Luzhi could not help saying, “Guniang is joking; in all my life, Lao xiu has an undivided appearance [sex], how could there be any ‘hongfen zhiji’?”

Su Rongrong’s eyes lit up, she said, “In that case, could it be that the person who mentioned this matter to Qianbei is unexpectedly a gentleman?”

“Mm hmm,” Huang Luzhi said.

Su Rongrong immediately pursued further, “To Wanbei knowledge, there is no man in the world who could know the secret of the ‘Shen Shui Gong’, how did this friend of Qianbei know about this?”

Huang Luzhi muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day, smiling wryly, he said, “If Guniang is asking Lao xiu about my own affair, Lao xiu will not hide anything I know, not stopping before I have said it through [idiom: frank], but this matter is concerning other people’s secret, please forgive Lao xiu for not able to say more about it.” While he was talking, he cast another glance at the swordsman in black. Suddenly he cupped his fist and said, “This is all Lao xiu can say, hereby I am taking my leave.”

The swordsman in black also turned around, gave Chu Liuxiang a hurried cupped first, and walked out. Both of them seemed to be unwilling to stay here any longer.

Knitting his brows, Xiao Shi said loudly, “Lu Gong [honorable gentleman], don’t you care about what’s going on here?”

They heard Huang Luzhi laughed on the stone steps and said, “Even an honest and upright official will have difficulty resolving a family dispute [proverb]. The disputes between them, father and son, even if others wanted to care about it, they simply can’t. Although right now Guanyu Xiong’s anger soared into the sky, but after three or five days, he would be fine.”

By the time he spoke the last two sentences, he had already gone far away. Xiao Shi stomped his feet and chased after him. Suddenly he turned around and glowered at Li Yuhan, he said, “You’d better not go to see your old man these couple of days, lest you make him so angry that he suffers fire deviation again. You’d better stay away and wait for him fully recovering before coming back again. At that time, he will have the strength, and when he beats you, he can beat you a bit harder.”

Song He Lou‘s [lit. Pine Crane Building (with more than one story)] dishes were very famous, not to mention everyone was hungry. While admittedly Hu Tiehua was drinking to his heart’s content, even Su Rongrong also drank a few cups.

Among them, only Hei Zhenzhu seemed to have something on her mind. Li Yuhan, husband and wife naturally could not swallow what they ate, they originally did not have any face to come with the others.

But Li Hongxiu said, “How could you go someplace else? We don’t know where Puti An is, so we have to ask you to show the way. Could it be that you are unwilling to help?”

Song Tian’er also helped Li Hongxiu to pull them, she said, “In any case, Chu Liuxiang must go to Shen Shui Gong. As soon as he reaches Shen Shui Gong, he will be able to get the antidote out for you. You can rest assured.”

Naturally the others knew that this matter would not be so easy, but they did not worry, because no matter how dangerous, Chu Liuxiang would be able to crash his way through. They believe that even if ‘Shui Mu’ Yin Ji was more formidable, she was no more than just a person, could it be that she could swallow Chu Liuxiang?

The only one who was really worried was Chu Liuxiang himself.

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