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The Vast Desert Chapter 16

CSI

Chapter 16 – Blood Splash in the Bridal Chamber

Letting out a light snort, Chu Liuxiang sounded him out, “You … are you all right?”

Grinning wide, Hu Tiehua said, “Extremely all right.”

Chu Liuxiang asked, “You … you can see your bride?”

Hu Tiehua roared in laughter and said, “You really think I am a stupid son-in-law? That I ran out of the bridal chamber without even seeing my new wife?”

Rubbing his nose, Chu Liuxiang said, “Then you … you … are not mad?”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Why would I be mad? I practically have never been happier than this.”

Chu Liuxiang stared at him. “Have you sobered up?” he asked.

“I have never been more sober than this either,” Hu Tiehua replied.

Chu Liuxiang was stunned.

Hu Tiehua leisurely said, “You naturally know that my new bride is not Princess Pipa at all.”

“Hmm!” Chu Liuxiang responded.

Hu Tiehua said, “Therefore, you must be thinking, since my new bride did not dare to show her face, she must be a pockmarked-face, and ugly person; otherwise, why she did not dare to see people … am I right?”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “Maybe not too ugly, just …”

Hu Tiehua roared in laughter and said, “You don’t have to feel bad for me, you need not comfort me even more. Let me tell you, my new bride, not only she is not ugly, she is ten times more beautiful than Princess Pipa.”

Now Chu Liuxiang was really stunned – this first princess, since she was so beautiful, previously, why did she not dare to see people? It was really somewhat hard to believe.

“You don’t believe it?” Hu Tiehua cried out.

Stroking his nose, Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “This … perhaps it’s … perhaps it’s …”

Hu Tiehua jumped up and cried out, “All right! You don’t believe it, I’ll take you to see her.”

Before Chu Liuxiang had any chance to respond, Hu Tiehua already pulled him and rushed out.

Unexpectedly, outside the tent was extremely quiet, not even a human shadow was to be seen.

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “This early in the morning, you are pulling me to charge into the bridal chamber, do you think it’s proper?”

Opening his eyes wide, Hu Tiehua said, “You are my own brother, what does it have to do with propriety?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Even if you don’t have any problem, what about your bride?”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “I am telling you, my new bride, not only her outward appearance beautiful, her character is also extremely good; she is gentle and soft, she is considerate, she is … she is … I just don’t know how to describe her best.”

Listening to the tone of his voice, Chu Liuxiang could not help feeling happy for him. He laughed and said, “It looks like in the end, it is still fortune favors fools [idiom: fool’s luck].”

He had not finished speaking, Hu Tiehua had already pulled him inside the bridal chamber.

This tent was newly erected, the interior was practically like the Temple of Heaven. Brocade tassels adorned the bottom of the tent like a billow of red waves. The bride was lying down lazily, she was still asleep, exposing only her cloud of hair spread over the pillow.

As soon as Hu Tiehua came in, he made a ruckus, “We have guest here, quickly get up! This is my best friend, no different than my brother, you don’t need to feel embarrassed.”

Other people, after three months of marriage, the young husband and wife would still be bashful whenever they see each other. But he was married not even for half a day, yet he already acted like old husband and old wife. While secretly Chu Liuxiang was amused, unconsciously he was happy for Hu Tiehua. Were it not for the bride’s temperament agreed with his, how could he act like this?

But the bride still has not shown her head. Hu Tiehua strode over to look, he said, “You are going to see him anyway, why would …”

His voice suddenly stopped mid-sentence, the blood from his face was suddenly drained completely.

Blood!

Unexpectedly, the edge of the brand-new embroidered quilt was fully stained with blood.

Shaking, Hu Tiehua reached out and yanked the quilt off.

The bridal chamber was as warm as the springtime, the turned-over quilt was like red wave, but lying under the quilt was unexpectedly a dead woman.

Hu Tiehua was like he was on top of a tall building and suddenly lost his footing; his entire body crumpled down to the ground.

Chu Liuxiang rushed over to hold him up; his countenance changed, he asked, “What time did you leave this place?”

Hu Tiehua replied, “I … I just went out looking for you a moment ago …”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Within that short period of time, someone came and dealt treacherous assault! Who could this person be? What enmity does he have against you? This is the night of your wedding, why did he kill your …”

Hu Tiehua sprang up and cried out, “You think this is my new bride?”

Chu Liuxiang was startled, “She is not?” he asked.

“Of course not,” Hu Tiehua replied, “Who this woman is, I have never seen her in my life before.”

Chu Liuxiang was stunned again; he stammered, “In … in that case … where is the bride?”

Hu Tiehua shook his head, and then he cried again, “That’s right! Where did she go? She was clearly still sleeping here.”

While crying out, he went everywhere to look, even under the bed, but the bride’s shadow was nowhere to be seen. Yet there was a dead woman lying on her bed. Who was this woman? How did she get into the bridal chamber?

Who killed her?

Where did the bride go?

Hu Tiehua had just gone out to look for Chu Liuxiang, how could there be so many astonishing changes happening in the bridal chamber?

Chu Liuxiang practically had never seen such a strange thing in his life.

Just by looking at this woman’s swollen face, when she was alive, she must also be frighteningly ugly. This moment they could see that the perpetrator had clawed her, creating a gaping bloody hole on her chest, so that she looked even more indescribably hideous and terrifying.

Stomping his feet, Hu Tiehua said, “What the hell is going on here? How could this woman come up to my bed naked? When did she get here? How could my bride not know?”

Chu Liuxiang spoke heavily, “This woman did not come here on her own.”

“How do you know?” Hu Tiehua asked.

Chu Liuxiang replied, “Although there’s bloodstain on the quilt, there is none on the bed. It is obvious that only after this woman was murdered that the killer moved her onto the bed.”

Hu Tiehua said, “This is even more strange; after the killer murdered her, why did he move her here?”

Chu Liuxiang asked, “When you went out, are you sure that the bride was still sleeping on this bed?”

“That’s right,” Hu Tiehua replied, “She was clearly still sleeping soundly; but now … but now she is gone?”

Chu Liuxiang knitted his brows; he really could not think of the secret behind this.

Meanwhile, Hu Tiehua already rushed out and shouted, “Help! I have a dead person in my room, come and see who this person is.”

The first to rush over was Princess Pipa, followed by the King of Qiuci, who had not yet recovered from his hangover – staggering into the tent. As the two saw the dead body on the bed, their countenance changed greatly.

Hu Tiehua asked, “Who is this woman? You …”

Before he finished speaking, the King of Qiuci already grabbed his collar and howled, “Why did you kill her?”

The King of Qiuci screamed, “Although she was a bit ugly, but good or bad she was your wife, how could you deal with her so ruthlessly? You … you are simply not a human being, you are a beast!”

Hu Tiehua jumped in fright; aghast, he said, “What did you say? This woman is … is my wife?”

The King of Qiuci’s eyes turned red, he roared wildly, “Although she was a bit ugly, she was, after all, a golden branch, jade leaves [idiom: blue-blooded nobility]; won’t that point alone worth to be matched with you, this roughneck? You … even if you did not want to marry her, you should not …”

Hu Tiehua waved his hand to push him to the floor; greatly startled, he said, “This man is crazy, this man is crazy …”

The King of Qiuci roared again, “You are the crazy one.”

Chu Liuxiang was full of bewilderment as well; helping him up from the ground, he spoke heavily, “Who actually is the lady on the bed? Does Wangye recognize her?”

The King of Qiuci angrily said, “My own daughter, how could I not recognize her?”

Emotionally moved, Chu Liuxiang said, “Last night, the bride you gave away to Hu Tiehua, was it this lady?”

“Of course it was her,” the King of Qiuci replied.

Hu Tiehua cried out again, “It was not her; definitely it was not her. I saw it clearly; my bride was an exceptional beauty, definitely not this ugly person.”

The King of Qiuci roared again, “I gave my own daughter to you in marriage, do you think I did not know it?”

The groom insisted that this was not the bride, yet the father-in-law insisted that it was not fake. Such a strange thing was really rare in the world. And Chu Liuxiang was caught in the middle. Unexpectedly he did not know which one he ought to listen to.

Stomping his feet, Hu Tiehua said, “If you say that this ugly person was the bride, then who was the person I saw last night? Could it be that someone was impersonating the bride?”

The King of Qiuci angrily said, “You killed her, yet you still say these nonsense to deceive people?”

Hu Tiehua was angry as well, “Why would I want to deceive you?” he said, “Could it be that I met a ghost last night?”

Princess Pipa suddenly said, “Let me ask you this: if you say that this is not the bride, then where is the bride that you saw last night? If you could find her, we will believe you.”

Hu Tiehua said, “I … I …” He really did not know where did the ‘bride’ last night go? He had only been out for a moment, and the ‘bride’ seemed to have magically disappeared.

Laughing coldly, Princess Pipa said, “Even if the one you saw last night was not my Jiejie, how did my Jiejie die in your bed? If you did not kill her, then who did?”

Hu Tiehua said, “This must be you yourselves who swap the bride, but you accuse me wrongly.”

The King of Qiuci angrily said, “Fart! Are you saying I killed my own daughter?”

The fact was that even Hu Tiehua himself knew that what he said was really hard to believe. He could only rush over toward Chu Liuxiang, pulled his sleeve and anxiously said, “You … are you not going to say anything to help me? Could it be that you don’t believe me either?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed. He said, “What do you want me to say?”

Hu Tiehua jumped up and shrieked, “Good! All of you don’t believe me; even you are helping others to accuse me wrongly. So what if I really killed her? Who told you to deceive me into marrying an ugly person?”

Princess Pipa scolded him, “You killed people, you have to pay with your life.”

Amidst her shout, the tip of her ten fingers already stabbed toward Hu Tiehua’s throat. Her move was swift and pressing, but what kind of a figure Hu Tiehua was? How could he take such martial art seriously?

“Get out of my way!” he shouted angrily, “I don’t want to hurt you, but don’t you mess with me.”

Once his iron palm waved, the explosive force threw Princess Pipa’s body away.

The King of Qiuci said, “You … you want to run away?”

Howling with laughter, Hu Tiehua said, “So what if I want to run away? Who can stop me?”

“You can’t leave!” the King of Qiuci roared.

Amidst his roar, seven or eight golden dagger-axes were stabbing inside from outside the tent. Without even looking, Hu Tiehua casually grabbed, two golden dagger-axes were already caught in his hand. Pulling backward lightly, two men were dragged in and stumbled down on the ground.

Amidst the cry of alarm from the other several warriors, the golden dagger-axes were stabbing inside chaotically. Hu Tiehua moved like the wind. A series of ‘Aiyo!’, ‘Pow!’, ‘Snap!’ and ‘Crack!’, seven or eight warriors already fell to the ground, their long-handled dagger-axes were broken.

The King of Qiuci had seen this kind of divine might, yet unexpectedly he was frightened that he could only stare blankly. Only to see Hu Tiehua strode out with head held high and spoke sternly, “Who else dare to come over? Let me smash his head into pulp.”

Unexpectedly, from among a group of warriors holding golden dagger-axes standing far away, no one dared to come over.

Suddenly they saw a shadow flashed, someone actually blocked his way. Hu Tiehua’s countenance changed, but then he howled with laughter and said, “Good! You are here. We can decide who’s superior who’s inferior in here today.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed. “How can I fight with you?” he said.

Greatly delighted, Hu Tiehua said, “In that case, let’s go together!”

“We must not go even more,” Chu Liuxiang said.

“Why?” Hu Tiehua asked.

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “If you leave, the injustice cannot be washed clean even more.”

Hu Tiehua angrily said, “So what if it cannot be washed clean? As long as I look into my heart and there’s no shame in it, I don’t care what others say, I just consider it fart.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Other matter is not a problem, but this matter absolutely must be cleared.”

Laughing coldly, Hu Tiehua said, “I know that cannot bear to leave. All right, you won’t go, then I will.”

But he had not even taken two steps, Chu Liuxiang blocked his way again.

Hu Tiehua angrily said, “You really won’t let me go?”

“Where are you going?” Chu Liuxiang asked.

“Where can’t I go?” Hu Tiehua responded.

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “The desert is not like the Central Plains at all. You are going alone, I am afraid you can’t go anywhere.”

Hu Tiehua roared, “Since you refuse to come with me, even if I die, there’s no need to trouble you.”

Chu Liuxiang sighed and said, “You ought to know, the person who harmed you precisely wanted you to disregard everything and leave. If you leave, that is practically what she is wishing for.”

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

Chu Liuxiang spoke in heavy voice, “I want you to stay here for three days. I will definitely find that person for you. If right now you insist on leaving, even if I have to stake my life, I am going to stop you.”

Hu Tiehua looked up to the sky and leaved a deep sigh; smiling wryly, he said, “If other people talk to me like this, it will be strange indeed if I don’t fight a desperate fight with him. But since it is you … you, this old stinky bug, seeing you, practically I don’t know what to do.”

He stomped his feet and said, “Very well! I’ll listen to you; I will stay here. In any case, even if you want my head, I will have no choice but to present it to you with both hands.”

Standing some distance away, the King of Qiuci was able to hear everything clearly; his courage rose, he thundered, “Guards! Why haven’t you arrest him quickly?”

The golden dagger-axe warriors’ spirit was aroused as well; they rushed over with a loud cry.

Suddenly there was a series of ‘Aiyo!’, ‘Pow!’, ‘Snap!’ and ‘Crack!’ sound. More than a dozen long dagger-axes, nobody knew how – were already in Chu Liuxiang’s hands. His both hands moved, like throwing brittle bamboo, all were broken and fell to the ground.

The King of Qiuci’s countenance changed, he said, “You … why did you …”

Chu Liuxiang spoke indifferently, “He said he will stay here, he will definitely not leave. Within three days, I will find the real culprit and bring him here. But none of you can even touch one finger of his.”

The King of Qiuci said, “He … what if he run away?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “If he ran away, I will pay your daughter’s life with mine.”

The King of Qiuci said, “Within three days, what if you fail to find the real culprit?”

Hu Tiehua loudly said, “Within three days, if he can’t find the real culprit, I will pay your daughter’s life with mine.”

Unexpectedly, these two men casually put their lives in the other’s hands. Such friendship, it was indeed extremely rare in the world.

The King of Qiuci stared blankly for half a day. He said, “All right, I believe you.”

Chu Liuxiang already pulled Hu Tiehua back into their own tent.

Meanwhile Princess Pipa sighed softly and muttered, “These two clearly were able to leave, yet they clearly did not leave, but make such an oath instead. What’s the reason behind it? Could it be that my Jiejie was really not murdered by him?”

The King of Qiuci said, “If he did not kill her, then who did? Could it be that there is really a woman in the world willing to impersonate other people’s wife?”

Hu Tiehua was mumbling to himself as well, “Frankly speaking, I did not really want to go. If this matter is not cleared up, I won’t be satisfied either. If the dead was really the King of Qiuci’s daughter, then who was the person I saw last night? Why would she come to impersonate the bride? What benefit it is for her?”

Chu Liuxiang sighed. “You still can’t figure it out?” he asked.

“I can’t figure it out,” Hu Tiehua admitted.

Chu Liuxiang said, “First of all, you must believe that the dead lady was indeed the King of Qiuci’s daughter, your bride.”

“Why should I believe?” Hu Tiehua roared.

Smiling wryly, Chu Liuxiang said, “It was because she was too ugly that all along the King of Qiuci had been hiding her from you. Otherwise, Princess Pipa dared to come out and run around all over the place, why did she hide and was afraid to see people?”

Hu Tiehua sighed; he no longer said anything.

Chu Liuxiang said, “You must also know that she was not murdered just this morning; I could see that she has been dead for at least four, five sichen.”

Hu Tiehua was emotionally moved, “Four, five sichen?” he asked, “Could it be that before I entered the bridal chamber, someone had already killed her?”

“Precisely,” Chu Liuxiang replied.

Hu Tiehua said, “But her body …”

“There was bloodstain under the bed as well,” Chu Liuxiang said, “After that person killed her, she must have hidden her corpse under the bed, while she herself pretended to be the bride sleeping on the bed.”

Hu Tiehua blurted out, “Are you saying … are you saying that when we were on the bed last night, there was a dead body under the bed?”

“That’s right,” Chu Liuxiang replied.

Hu Tiehua, heart and soul, shuddered. He stammered, “She … she knew perfectly well that there was a dead body under the bed, yet she was still able to be with me … with me on the bed …”

He only felt that he was about to throw up, and could not continue.

Chu Liuxiang said, “Today, when you went out to look for me, she immediately moved the body under the bed into the bed, for the purpose of shifting the blame onto you, so that the King of Qiuci would think that it was you who murdered her.”

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