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The Thrush Chapter 4


Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter, I know that these ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’ never have poison on them, just because without needing poison on them, they have enough power to kill people.”

The two men returned to their room, Hu Tiehua tossed all the Pear Blossom Nails onto the table. Picking up the wine cup with both hands, he laughed and said, “Now I finally can have a cup of wine, do you want to have a cup too?”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “I’ll have some tea.”

He put down the lamp and picked the teapot.

This moment Hu Tiehua already raised the wine cup to his lips.

Since he did not see the little bug that was helplessly intoxicated by the poisonous gas and fell, naturally he did not know that as long as this cup of wine went down his belly, he, this person could be considered wiped out already.

This would be his last cup of wine, and he was about to drink it.

Who would have thought that right this moment, Chu Liuxiang suddenly waved his hand and knocked the cup of wine into the air?

Hu Tiehua jumped in fright, he blurted “Have you gone mad?”

Chu Liuxiang ignored him, he asked instead, “Did you see this teapot?”

Hu Tiehua replied, “Of course I did.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Look at my hand again.”

Hu Tiehua got up and said, “What’s wrong with you? Why did you tell me to look at your hand? Could it be that a morning glory suddenly grew on your hand?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “This hand of mine originally picked up the teapot, but if you pay attention, now the handle of the teapot is no longer on the side of my hand.”

Hu Tiehua said, “So what if it’s not on the side of your hand?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “I was sitting on this side, pouring a cup of tea, and put the teapot on its original place, but now the handle of the teapot is not on this side of my hand.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “So what’s the big deal about that? Perhaps you changed hand to pick up the teapot.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “I always use my left hand to pour tea. When something has become a habit, people will definitely not change.”

Hu Tiehua said, “This … so what about that?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “This means that after I poured the tea, someone must have moved the teapot, and unless you are seriously ill, you would never touch the teapot.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Even if I am seriously ill, I would never touch a teapot. Just because when other people drink the wine and get intoxicated, they drink tea to dissipate the effects of alcohol, but when I smell the tea, I get even more intoxicated.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Since you did not move the teapot, and the teapot would not move by itself, how could it change position?”

Hu Tiehua said, “Now that you mention it, I do feel a little strange.”

Chu Liuxiang spoke heavily, “This means that when you and I went out, someone must have come in and moved the teapot. With no cause, no reason, why did he come in and move the teapot?”

Emotionally moved, Hu Tiehua said, “Could it be that he put poison in the teapot?”

“That’s right,” Chu Liuxiang said, “He had calculated accurately that when we come back, we will be thirsty and will definitely drink the tea, so he put poison in the teapot. Only he never thought that I always poured tea with my left hand, so after putting the poison, he casually put the teapot back, hence the handle of the teapot changed direction.”

Hearing that Hu Tiehua was dumbfounded. It was half a day later that he said, “Since he put poison in the tea, naturally the wine is bound to be poisoned as well.”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled and said, “Otherwise, why would I knock your wine down? Although there are all kinds and sorts of wine ghosts [drunkards] in the world, every wine ghost has the same weakness, which is: he considers wine more important than his life. If you burn his house, he won’t be angry, but if you knock over his wine, he will be so angry that he’ll go crazy.”

Smiling wryly, Hu Tiehua said, “You scold me well, you scold me well …”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “I’m not scolding you, I just want you to know that I’m not crazy, that’s all.” He poured all the remaining half a pot of tea into the wine pot, only to hear the ‘pssch’ noise. Green smoke suddenly rose, just like pouring cold water into a hot oil pan.

Hu Tiehua drew out a mouthful of cold air, he said, “What a powerful poison, unexpectedly it appears to be more or less the same as the poison that Shi Guanyin was using.”

Chu Liuxiang’s countenance was heavy, he did not speak.

Hu Tiehua said again, “So it seems that the person who released the secret projectile and the person who poisoned it must be of the same kind, right?”

“Mmm,” Chu Liuxiang responded.

Hu Tiehua was silent for half a day, suddenly he laughed again and said, “I really did not notice that you pour tea with your left hand. You use your right hand for everything else, so why do you use your left hand to pour tea?”

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Because over the past many years, I have been living on a boat, where cabin space is very limited, so everything must be put on the most suitable place, especially something like a teapot, if it is put on the wrong place, it will often be knocked over, so Rong’er made a shelf to put the teapot on the left side of the chair I often sit on, so that I only need to stretch out my hand to get it.” He laughed, and then continued, “After a long time, I have developed the habit of pouring tea using my left hand.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Wonderful, wonderful! But why didn’t Rong’er make that shelf on your right side?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “The reason is very simple, because there is no empty space on the right to install a shelf.”

Hu Tiehua sighed and said, “I never thought that living on a boat would have so many benefits.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Although living on a boat sometimes feels too cramped, the smaller the place to live, the easier it is to cultivate a good habit of not putting things around randomly, and gradually activities will follow a regular pattern. In normal time, this kind of habit does not show any benefits, but in times of danger, it often saves your life.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “In that case, if I move to live in a pigeon cage, wouldn’t I become the most regular person in the world?” He suddenly seemed to remember something, the smile on his face disappeared immediately, he blurted out, “There is not the least bit of sound in Li Yuhan’s room. Could it be that they have fallen into their treacherous assault?”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “That is unlikely. No matter who, killing these husband and wife, two persons will not be easy.”

Hu Tiehua said, “But when they came, Liu Wumei was ill, I’m afraid she would not have any strength to resist … In any case, I have to see them.”

Muttering to himself irresolutely, Chu Liuxiang said, “Go and see, maybe they heard something …”

Without waiting for him to finish speaking, Hu Tiehua already rushed out.

At this time, although it was not yet bright, there were roosters crowing in the distance.

Hu Tiehua called out twice, Li Yuhan already lit the lantern, opened the door, and walked out while draping his clothes over his shoulders. Although there was some surprise on his face, he still said with a laugh, “Two gentlemen woke up really early.”

Seeing him coming out alive and well, Hu Tiehua was relieved, he said with a laugh, “Not that we got up early, rather, we haven’t slept yet!”

Li Yuhan’s eyes flickered, he said, “Is something wrong?”

Hu Tiehua heaved a sighed, he said, “It’s complicated and not easy to express succinctly. But since you’re up, we might as well come into our room to chat!”

Li Yuhan glanced back, quietly closed the door, and also heaved a sigh, he said, “Neiren [lit. inside person, my wife (humble)] is feeling a bit unwell, Xiaodi actually has just fallen asleep as well.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Sao Furen’s illness … it’s not serious, is it?”

Smiling wryly, Li Yuhan replied, “This is her chronic illness, it flares up twice a month, but not a very big deal, it’s just that it’s extremely troublesome.”

Hu Tiehua cast a glance at Chu Liuxiang, as if he was saying, “Your guess is wrong, she wasn’t poisoned, it was just a chronic illness flaring up.”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled, but said, “Since Li Xiong has just fallen asleep, I wonder if you heard anything?”

Li Yuhan sighed and said, “My wife has been tossing and turning, groaning about her pain, just like a child. I had no choice but to exhaust everything coax her, so that anything else, I did not pay any attention.”

He had just stopped talking, but suddenly asked, “What happened? Could it be …”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “It’s not a big deal either, it’s just that two people wanted Chu Liuxiang’s life, that’s all. This is also his chronic illness, it flares up a few times every month.”

Emotionally moved, Li Yuhan said, “Someone wanted to plot against Chu Xiong? Who has such big guts?”

Smiling wryly, Hu Tiehua said, “He and I pursued for half a day, yet we could not even overtake his shadow. It seems that the number of masters with high level of martial arts in Jianghu is growing day by day.”

This moment they were back inside the room, Li Yuhan caught a glimpse of the silver nails on the table, suddenly his countenance changed, he said, “Could it be that the secret projectiles on the table were the ones that that person was going to use to plot against Chu Xiong?”

Fixing his gaze on his face, Chu Liuxiang said, “This secret projectile, could it be that Li Xiong recognizes it?”

Li Yuhan said, “It looks like the Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nail.”

“That’s right,” Chu Liuxiang said.

Li Yuhan sighed and said with a smile, “Chu Xiang Shuai’s name is indeed not empty. According to what Xiaodi knows, this Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nail’s momentum is rapid, its power fierce, it could be called number one in the world. Each time it was shot, it will definitely see blood. To this day, there seems to be no one in Jianghu able to dodge or stop it. Even Yichen [lit. one (speck of) dust] Daozhang [Taoist priest], who was able to crisscross the Southern Wilderness in the past also died under this secret projectile, yet Chu Xiong could come out unscathed. From this, it can be seen that Chu Xiong’s martial arts is a notch higher than the great swordsman of the former years, who, with one sword pacified the Southern Wilderness.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “It’s just that his luck has always been a bit better than other people, that’s all.”

Li Yuhan said, “Under the Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nail, definitely there is no such thing as ‘luck’, these two characters [yun qi]. Except for Chu Xiong, even if their luck is better, other people absolutely cannot avoid these twenty-seven silver nails.”

Hu Tiehua said, “You seem to know a lot about this damn [orig. seeing ghost] secret projectile.”

Li Yuhan said, “This is the most famous secret projectile in the world. When Xiaodi was starting to learn [orig. awakened from ignorance] martial art, Jiafu [lit. father of the house/family, my father (polite)] told me everything about this secret projectile, even told me to pay more attention to it in the future. He, the Senior said that there are six most dreadful things in the world, this ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nail’ is one of them.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Li Lao Qianbei [lit. old previous generation, Senior] is extremely knowledgeable, presumably he also told Li Xiong the origin of this secret projectile.”

Li Yuhan said, “The man who made this secret projectile was also the younger generation of an influential Wulin family, called Zhou Shiming, his father was precisely the Nan Hu Shuang Jian [Double-Sword of the South Lake], who bore the extremely famous reputation at the time.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Since as far as we know the person who made this secret projectile has no martial arts skills at all, how could the son of Nan Hu Shuang Jian did not understand martial arts? Could it be that the rumor was incorrect?”

Li Yuhan said, “The rumor heard by Hu Xiong was not wrong. This Zhou Shiming was indeed not skilled in martial arts, just because he has suffered from some kind of very strange cartilage paralysis disease since he was a child, not only he could not learn martial arts, but he practically could not even stand up.”

Hu Tiehua sighed and said, “What a pity.”

Li Yuhan said, “There were altogether five brothers in their family, Zhou Shiming was the third. His intelligence was much higher than the other four brothers, only regretfully he was physically disabled, seeing his four brothers made a big name in Jianghu, naturally his heart was filled with grief and indignation, so he swore that one day he would do an astonishing matter for other people to see.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Could it be that his brothers were the four Qianbei who were known in the past as the ‘Jiangnan Si Yi’ [Four Righteous of Jiangnan (area South of the Yangtze River)]?”

“Precisely,” Li Yuhan replied.

He went on, “This Zhou Shiming has been lingering on the sick bed all year round. Apart from reading books, he also carved wood to make toys. Not only his innate talent was extremely high, his pair of hands was extremely skillful. It is said that in the house where he lived, there were extremely ingenious mechanism. Imitating Zhuge Wuhou‘s [marquis of Wu, Zhuge Liang of the Three Kingdoms] wooden cows and moving horses, he made many wooden figures that can move. He only needed to grab the locking spring, these wooden figures will bring him tea.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “That house must be very interesting, were it not for this Zhou Xiansheng [Mr. Zhou] had already passed away, we would really like to visit this person of extraordinary talent.”

Li Yuhan said, “After so many years, he cut a log of wood into a mechanical spring box and asked his brothers to go looking for a skilled silversmith to build something together with him. His brothers thought it was his plaything, so they did not pay too much attention, they found for him the most famous silversmith of that time in Gusu, called Qiaoshou [lit. skillful hands] Song.”

He paused to catch his breath, and then continuing, “This Qiaoshou Song stayed at Zhou Shiming’s house for three years, no one knew what they were doing in the house, but Zhou Shiming sent someone to deliver a large sum of money every month back to Qiaoshou Song’s family, hence his wife felt very reassured.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “I am afraid she did not know that the money was used by Zhou Shiming to buy her husband’s life.”

“That’s right,” Li Yuhan said, “Three years later, as soon as Qiaoshou Song walked out of the house, he fell to the ground and did not rise up. It is said that he was both mentally and physically exhausted, but as far as the actual facts, no one knows. At that time, the Zhou Family of Nanhu was financially powerful and their momentum great, they were prestigious, so Qiaoshou Song’s family did not dare to investigate in detail.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “Since this Qiaoshou Song knew the secret of making the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’, naturally Zhou Shiming would never let him live in the world any longer. I am afraid he was the first person to die because of the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Needle’.”

Li Yuhan said, “After another half month, Zhou Shiming suddenly sent out a lot of invitations, several most famous secret projectile martial art masters at that time were invited. That day was the Mid-Autumn Festival, the moon was very bright. Jianghu people looked at Jiangnan Si Yi’s face, the number of people who came was not a few. They were speculating, wondering why this Zhou Gongzi [young master] who had never set foot in Jianghu would invite these many heroes and towering figures to come to the banquet?”

Hu Tiehua seemed to want to interrupt, but finally restrained himself.

Only to hear Li Yuhan continued, “Who would have thought that after the three rounds of wine, unexpectedly Zhou Shiming suddenly requested Hou Nanhui to come and compete in secret projectiles against him.”

Hu Tiehua could not help but interject, “Is this the Hou Nanhui who was known as the Eight-armed Divine Ape’?”

“Precisely,” Li Yuhan replied, “This person not only had secret projectiles all over his body, but it was said that he could shoot eight kinds of secret projectiles at the same time, moreover, his skill in catching secret projectiles was also outstanding, as if he had eight hands. Indeed he could be regarded as a first-class secret projectile master in Wulin. This kind of person, how could he be willing to compete in secret projectile skill with a disabled? Not to mention that he was a friend of the Jiangnan Si Yi.”

“That’s right,” Hu Tiehua said, “Even if he won, there would be no glory.”

Li Yuhan said, “Everyone also thought that Zhou Shiming was joking, who would have thought that Zhou Shiming unexpectedly insisted that Hou Nanhui simply must fight, furthermore, he even said a lot of very caustic words, forcing Hou Nanhui so that gradually he could not face it anymore.”

“What happened afterward?” Hu Tiehua asked.

Li Yuhan said, “Long story short, afterward, not only Hou Nanhui died under this ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nail’, there were also several masters of secret projectiles delivering their lives. Everyone knew clearly that the secret projectiles were shot from a small silver box in Zhou Shiming’s hand, yet unexpectedly no one could evade it.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “This Zhou Gongzi was very ruthless!”

Hu Tiehua said, “This man has been disabled since childhood, naturally it was hard to avoid his temperament becoming extremely strange, but could it be that the ‘Nan Hu Shuang Jian’ and ‘Jiangnan Si Yi’ did not mind him the slightest bit?”

Li Yuhan said, “At that time, the old brothers Nan Hu Shuang Jian, two men have already died, while Jiangnan Si Yi had ulterior motives.”

“What ulterior motives?” Hu Tiehua asked.

Li Yuhan said, “When they saw that their brother had such a formidable secret projectile, unexpectedly they wanted to use it to establish the reputation of the Zhou family in Taihu [Lake Tai], but they didn’t think that this way, everyone in Jianghu would regard the Zhou Family brothers as public enemy, no one was willing that this kind of secret projectile would stay in the hands of the Zhou Family brothers. Practically everybody wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible, because everyone was afraid that the brothers would use this secret projectile against them.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Especially those who usually have some enmity with the Zhou brothers; knowing that they have such a vicious secret projectile in their hands, I am afraid they would not be able to sleep at night.”

Li Yuhan said, “Therefore, these people struck first and gained the upper hand, they used all possible means to get rid of the Jiangnan Si Yi one by one, and then they also set the Zhou Family Village [or manor] on fire and burned it to the ground, Zhou Shiming was also buried inside the fire cave.”

Listening to this point, Chu Liuxiang could not help asking, “Later on, to whose hands did the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’ fall into?”

Li Yuhan replied, “No one knows to whose hands this secret projectile has fallen into, because no matter who obtained it, he absolutely refused to tell it. But every three to five months, someone in Jianghu would die under the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’, and whoever held the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’ would not survive for long, because as soon as there is a slight rumor leaking, there would be someone else snatching the secret projectile away and kill the owner.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “In that case, wouldn’t this secret projectile become an ominous object?”

Li Yuhan sighed and said, “That’s right, for decades, this secret projectile has also changed hands no one knows how many times, but the person who got it never ended well. Until many years ago, this secret projectile suddenly disappeared without any trace, presumably because the person who obtain it this time did not use it, so although Wulin towering figures of this generation still often hear the legend about the ‘Rainstorm Pear Blossom Nails’, so much so that many people know its shape and formidable power, but no one has really seen it.”

Hu Tiehua cast a glance at Chu Liuxiang, he laughed and said, “In that case, our luck is not bad.”

Knitting his brows, Li Yuhan said, “This time, presumably this person wanted to deal with Chu Xiong that he managed to obtain this secret projectile. From this, it can be seen that this person must have a great hatred toward Chu Xiong, because whether he borrowed, robbed, or stole, to get this secret projectile into his hands is really not an easy matter.”

Hu Tiehua said, “This is even more strange, with great trouble he got his hand on this secret projectile, why would he just throw it away so casually?”

Muttering to himself irresolutely, Li Yuhan said, “This may be because he saw that since this secret projectile could not hurt Chu Xiong, keeping it would be useless, maybe because originally he stole this secret projectile so he was afraid that the owner of the secret projectile would look for him to settle the account, therefore, he might as well throw it away in passing, so that other people would never find out who stole it.”

Clapping his palms, Hu Tiehua said, “That’s right, that must be the reason.”

Li Yuhan said, “Moreover, I heard that when released, this secret projectile must see blood, otherwise it might be detrimental to its master. He must have heard the ominousness of this secret projectile for a long time, how could he dare to take it with him again?”

“That’s right,” Hu Tiehua said, “It is possible, but …”

Li Yuhan said, “But who actually is this person? Could it be that Chu Xiong could not make the slightest bit of guess?”

Chu Liuxiang smiled and said, “Since all along I could not see this person’s face at all, wild guess will be nothing more than only confusing people’s hearts. But since he is plotting actively to kill me, one time he did not succeed, there must be the second time, inevitably there will be one day that I will know who he is.”

They heard one person laughed like a silver bell, “That’s right, after all these years, I still have never heard of anybody who can escape from the hollow of Chu Xiang Shuai‘s palm.”

The night of murder, the strange secret projectile, the mysterious assassin, and a story reeking of blood, the atmosphere in this room was already heavy and suffocating.

However, as soon as Liu Wumei walked in, the room seemed to suddenly become brighter, become alive, even the oil lamp, which was swaying and was about to go out, seemed to become brighter.

She just pulled her hair loosely into a bun, lightly sweeping her eyebrows. She had not put on any makeup, but there was not the slightest sign of haggard and tired look on her face.

Hu Tiehua could hardly believe that the bright and radiant woman standing in front of him was the same woman tossing and turning, struggling and groaning in pain.

The most wonderful thing was that unexpectedly there was a wine pot in her hand.

Hu Tiehua’s eyes lit up again, he could not help wanting to receive the wine pot.

Who would have thought that his hand barely stretched out, fast as lightning, Chu Liuxiang suddenly locked the inner side of his wrist and twisted his arm?

Hu Tiehua cried out and said, “What’s wrong with you?”

Before the sentence was finished, Chu Liuxiang made his move like lightning, he already sealed his ‘Tian quan’ [celestial spring], ‘Xia Bai’ [heroic white], ‘Chi ze’ [a foot-long pond], ‘Kong zui’ [ultimate hole], and ‘Da ling’ [great soaring], five acupoints.

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