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The Vast Desert Chapter 23

CSI

Chapter 23 – Drunk And Botching Things Up

Using his left fist to punch his right palm, Hu Tiehua muttered, “Even the Old Stinky Bug and the Dead Rooster won’t wander leisurely on this seeing-ghost desert for two days without coming back. Since they are not coming back, they must have encountered some mishaps.”

He suddenly saw a camel rushed over to catch up with him, the warrior sitting on top of the camel hump said, “There is a shady and cool place ahead, do we want to take a rest?”

Muttering to himself irresolutely, Hu Tiehua asked, “How far have we traveled?”

“About ten li,” the warrior replied.

Frowning, Hu Tiehua said, “Only ten li, you already want to take a rest, how could we travel fifty li by tomorrow?”

Smiling apologetically, the warrior said, “Traveling fifty li in the desert is as exhausting as traveling five hundred li someplace else. Besides, the camels are carrying several thousand taels load of gold.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “No matter what, taking a rest now is too early; we must hurry to cover the fifty-li distance before dark. I want to see the people who are going to do the transaction with us, to see what do they look like?”

While his mouth was talking, he already urged his camel to speed up ahead.

The warrior sighed; he mumbled, “If you are rushing along like that, by the time you arrive, I am afraid both the people and the camels will faint from the sunburn. If the opposite side suddenly become hostile, I want to see what you are going to do?”

Another warrior also rushed alongside and commented, “In any case, the responsibility is not ours. He wants to show off, let him show off. When the moment comes and the opponents want to make their move, we will simply hide far away on the side.”

The third warrior spat on the ground; curling his mouth, he said, “This kind of southern barbarian [manzi, contemptuous term for people from southern China (used by northern Chinese people)], they don’t even understand fart; trying to show off on the desert, wouldn’t this be asking for trouble?”

These warriors had suffered several losses under Hu Tiehua and Chu Liuxiang’s hands, this moment unexpectedly they were secretly taking joy in the calamity and delight in disaster. It’s just that naturally they were speaking in Qiuci dialect, so that even if Hu Tiehua heard it, he did not understand at all.

But what they said was not wrong at all; this five-li travel was enough to make people suffer. Fortunately, after midday, the power of the scorching sun was diminishing somewhat.

By the time the sun was going down, Hu Tiehua already somewhat unable to endure it. Although he drank several times, his lips were still dry and chapped.

He saw straight ahead rocks were standing in great number. Under the gradually descending twilight, they looked like an unknown sinister monster, waiting to devour unsuspecting travelers.

Hu Tiehua was delighted, while also began to feel the evening chill. Looking back, he asked, “How many li have we traveled now?”

The warrior looked up to the sky and replied, “Perhaps already fifty li.”

Hu Tiehua said, “The letter specifically said after traveling west for fifty li, someone will come to do the exchange with us. We might as well wait here! While waiting for them to come, we could wait at our ease for the exhausted enemy; good or bad we’ll teach them a lesson.”

The warrior slowly said, “If they have been here waiting for us, waiting at their ease for the exhausted enemy, they are the one who would teach us a lesson!”

Hu Tiehua was stumped. He laughed and said, “That makes sense as well. Either way, we ought to be very careful.”

The warrior coldly said, “Just now Xiaoren [little/lowly man, referring to self] suggested to have more rest along the way, it was precisely to guard against the opponent executing this move.”

Rubbing his nose, Hu Tiehua said with a laugh, “I was anxious; please don’t blame me.”

He was a frank man; if he knew that he was wrong, he would immediately admit his mistake. Right is right, wrong is wrong; the two were clearly distinguished, he would not shirk responsibilities at all.

The warrior felt embarrassed instead. He also laughed and said, “Fortunately Xiaoren [plural] also brought wine to refresh ourselves.”

Greatly delighted, Hu Tiehua asked, “Where is it?”

The warrior immediately presented a sheepskin water bag, and said with a laugh, “This is Da Yuan [ancient state of central Asia] grape wine; getting drunk will not harm you.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “I know. That friend of mine, the Old Stinky Bug, loves this kind of wine the most.”

Pulling out the cork, he took two mouthfuls, took a deep breath, and said with a laugh, “Going out this time, I was ready not to drink any wine, but since we have good wine at hand, ha ha …” He filled his mouth full of wine, so that he could not even talk.

The three Qiuci warriors were standing quietly in front of him, watching him with fascination, unexpectedly they acted as if they had never seen people drinking wine in all their life.

Hu Tiehua poured most of the wine in the bag into his belly, before he felt somewhat embarrassed. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, he awkwardly laughed and said, “You see, I nearly finished the wine by myself. You guys should take a couple mouthfuls too!”

The three Qiuci warriors pursed their lips at the same time and laughed. When they laughed, not only their manner was completely identical, they were also laughing and closing their mouth at the exact same time, just like in the puppet show.

One of them looked at his two companions and then said with laugh, “This little bit of wine will not be enough to be divided three ways, why don’t Hu Ye [master] drink it all by yourself?”

“How can I do that? How can I do that?” Hu Tiehua spoke loudly.

His mouth said those words, but his hands tightly gripped the wine bag; not only he did not have any intention to hand the bag over, it practically looked like he was afraid other people might snatch the bag away from him.

The three Qiuci warriors looked at each other, and then they burst into laughter again. This time they were laughing even more happily. The same man said with a laugh, “Why does Hu Ye feel shy in front of Xiaoren?”

Roaring in laughter, Hu Tiehua said, “Since that’s the case, deference is no substitute for obedience, I won’t be shy.”

Originally he really did not want to drink, he was also afraid wine would botch up their mission, but after half a wine bag entered his belly, the wine bugs in his belly were aroused.

Perhaps most people who love to drink wine would have this same shortcoming; when wine was aplenty, they always do their utmost to urge people to drink, wanting other people to get drunk. But when wine was sparse, they were afraid others would come and drink their wine.

The three Qiuci warriors watched as he finished the entire bag of wine. Unexpectedly all three of them were radiant with delight; they appeared to be ten times happier than if they drank the wine themselves.

Wiping his mouth, Hu Tiehua said with a laugh, “Good wine, good wine! Too bad not only it was too few, it was also too light.”

Giggling, the three Qiuci warriors said, “Hu Ye thinks the wine was too light?”

Hu Tiehua replied, “In my opinion, drinking roast blade [see Chapter 41] is a lot more satisfying.”

The warrior replied, “But drinking roast blade will not kill you.”

Hu Tiehua roared in laughter and said, “Could it be that drinking this light wine that came from a bird will kill me?”

The warrior laughed and said, “Even if you don’t die of intoxication, you are pretty much dead.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “But I drank so much, yet I don’t even feel the least bit of tipsy. Could it be that my wine capacity has improved so much?”

The warrior suddenly could not laugh anymore; his eyes wide open, he said, “Hu Ye really did not feel the slightest bit tipsy?”

Hu Tiehua looked askance at him and said, “This little bit of wine can intoxicate me? Hey, hey! Seven or eight more bags will not harm me.”

The three Qiuci warriors could only stare blankly; they did not even know what to say.

Hu Tiehua said, “If you don’t believe me, why don’t I let you see if I am drunk or not?”

Actually, the fact that he made that kind of remark already indicated that he was drunk. Those who are really not drunk would never try to prove their sobriety for other people to see.

But the three Qiuci warriors were shocked that they looked at him with their mouth agape, their eyes wide open. They saw Hu Tiehua staggered on his feet, drew a line on the sand, and then curling up one leg, he used the other leg to hop over the line.

He ran back and forth twice, and then laughed heartily and said, “Did you see that? Can a drunk hop like that?”

The warrior rolled his eyes and said with a laugh, “People who are really not drunk can do somersault.”

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud and said, “Somersault, what’s so difficult about that?”

While his mouth was speaking, his body already soared up into the air. With his level of martial art skill, forget about making one somersault, even seventy, eighty times, would be like eating tofu, extremely easy and mundane.

Who would have thought that he only did half a somersault, unexpectedly he suddenly dropped down from the air. ‘Thud!’ he landed hard on the ground, creating a hole in the sand.

Hu Tiehua shook his head, rubbed his eyes, pursed his lips, and said with a laugh, “I twisted my waist; it did not count.”

The warrior laughed and said, “Right, it did not count. Do it again.”

Hu Tiehua struggled to crawl back up, he forced his body to do another somersault. But with another ‘Thud!’ he dropped down from the air like a piece of rock. This time he could not crawl back up. Giggling, he said, “That’s strange; how could I not be in good condition today?”

The warrior’s eyes lit up, he said, “I wonder if Hu Ye knew what’s going on?”

Hu Tiehua roared into laughter and said, “I am afraid the sun is giving me heatstroke.”

“No, no, not that,” the warrior said.

Tilting his head sideways, Hu Tiehua pondered, “Perhaps I have been too tired these past couple of days,” he said.

“That’s not it either,” the warrior replied.

Glaring at him, Hu Tiehua said, “How do you know that’s not it? You only know fart!”

The warrior laughed aloud and said, “Of course I know, because I personally drugged this wine with my own hands.”

Hu Tiehua was startled, “Drug?” he said, “What drug?”

The warrior giggled and said, “Although our Qiuci is a small country, but our emperors are just like yours; unavoidably they all like women. Doesn’t your country have a saying, something like ‘lascivious Guaren [I (first person pronoun used by royalty or nobility)]’? Am I right?”

“So what if you are right?” Hu Tiehua said.

“Therefore,” the warrior continued, “In the inner courtyard of our imperial palace, we always have one kind of drug, which is specially prepared to deal with those ardent female and chaste women. This kind of wine is fragrant and light, not much different to syrup; but whoever consumes it, will immediately have his whole body weakened, no longer has the slightest strength.”

Hu Tiehua stammered, “You … you just gave me drink that … that thing?”

The warrior laughed and said, “That’s right. Zaixia had given Hu Ye that kind of wine. It was with great difficulty that I managed to steal a bag from the inside; Hu Ye thought it was too few, there’s nothing I can do.”

Hu Tiehua stared blankly for half a day. Suddenly he roared in laughter and said, “I am neither a chaste woman nor an ardent female, plus your boss can’t possibly fancy me, why did you use this kind of wine to deal with me? Isn’t this a waste?”

The warrior laughed and said, “Interesting, interesting … This is really extremely interesting; someone who is about to die can say such interesting words, this is really hard to come by.”

Hu Tiehua laughed heartily and said, “This is something that I learned from that dead stinky bug. In all one’s life, one would cry when coming down. During life, opportunity to laugh is really not much. When at the death’s door one does not laugh heartily several times, won’t one live his life in vain?”

The warrior said, “Does Hu Ye know that you are about to die?”

Hu Tiehua said, “I also know that you guys are doing this only for the gold and silver and jewels on the camel, am I right?”

The warrior laughed aloud and said, “I did not expect Hu Ye’s mind suddenly become this clear. That’s right, we are doing this for that. Wangye is driven away, this life could be considered over. It’s not worthwhile for us to follow him in this kind of ghost place and suffer hardship for a lifetime; it’s better to get some wealth and go someplace else to enjoy the other half of our lives.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Makes sense, makes sense. But have you ever thought that these jewels are to be given to Shi Guanyin, perhaps she may be here soon; would she let you take the treasure away?”

The warrior unhurriedly said, “Hu Ye really thinks that this is the place you are going to meet Shi Guanyin?”

Hu Tiehua was stunned, “Is it not?” he asked.

The warrior said, “Westbound fifty li, that is the place to meet her, isn’t it?

“That’s right,” Hu Tiehua replied.

The warrior laughed and said, “But although when we set off we did head west, after ten li, we changed direction. In this great desert, slight mistake of direction could result in great difference. This place is at least three hundred and fifty li away from that meeting place.”

Hu Tiehua also laughed and said, “No wonder after ten li you wanted me to take a break; turns out you wanted to pour the wine down in me at that time.”

The warrior said, “But at that time Hu Ye refused to take a break, so we only deliberately took wrong direction. Hu Ye thought that in the desert, we are an old horse who knows the way home, hence you did not hesitate to follow us, and did not pay attention to the direction either.”

He laughed before continuing, “But Hu Ye need not feel bad; a lot of people get lost in the desert.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “But I always don’t know the way; even walking along the road, I might get lost.”

The warrior said, “When Hu Ye reincarnates [lit. throw oneself as a fetus] in your next life, it would be best if you know your way; don’t make the mistake of throwing yourself as a fetus inside the pig’s belly. That is certainly not worthwhile.”

He himself never thought that he could make such a humorous remark. The more he thought about it, the more he was proud of himself; the more he thought about it, the more he found it amusing, so he could not help howling in laughter.

“And now,” Hu Tiehua said, “Are you guys going to kill me?”

The warrior said with a laugh, “If we don’t kill Hu Ye, after the drug inside Hu Ye fade away, you will certainly come for us … This is something that we do not have any choice in, I hope Hu Ye would forgive us.”

Beaming with smiles, Hu Tiehua said, “But which one of you dare to make your move?”

“Any one of us is the same,” the warrior replied.

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “You think I really don’t have any strength? It might be that when you come to kill me, you would be killed by me instead.”

The three warriors were already walking over toward him, but hearing this remark, they suddenly halted their steps. Hu Tiehua was formidable; they already had first-hand experience on it.

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “Perhaps this wine was not as formidable as you imagined; perhaps this wine is not as effective to men as it is to the women, is it?”

The three Qiuci warriors looked at each other; they thought, “That’s right, perhaps he really still has some strength left; otherwise, how could he laugh this happily?”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “All right, whoever dares to make your move, just come over!”

The three looked at each other in dismay; unexpectedly no one dared to come over.

Hu Tiehua laughed aloud and said, “In my opinion, it’s better for you guys to take these jewels and go away as fast as possible.”

The warrior rolled his eyes, he suddenly said, “If this guy still has some strength left, how could he let us take the jewels away?”

The other man said in great delight, “That’s right, he must be bluffing.”

The third man laughed aloud and said, “You want me to make my move, I’ll make my move!”

‘Shua!’ he pulled the saber from his waist and rushed toward Hu Tiehua while brandishing the saber. The bright and shiny saber was dazzling to the eyes, it seemed like cutting people’s head would be easier than cutting a melon.

Although Hu Tiehua was still laughing, his laughter has become somewhat forced. He suddenly said, “These jewels, one person spending it, he could indeed live it up for a lifetime. But divided among three people … hey, hey! Don’t you think it’s too little?”

In all his life, he had never done anything to sow dissension, but now, at the moment of desperation, he used this tactic, hoping that the three would massacre each other at once.

Who would have thought that the warrior laughed heartily and said, “Even if we want to hog the treasure for ourselves, we will definitely not kill each other in front of you first to give you the opportunity to escape. There is absolutely no such fool in the world.”

The other man giggled and said, “I am afraid Hu Ye has heard too many legends and old stories.”

The third man howled with laughter while brandishing his saber to chop down on Hu Tiehua’s head; he said, “Laugh! If you really can laugh at the moment, I will admire you very much.”

His laughter suddenly stopped. The saber was raised high, but it did not chop down.

The first warrior frowned, “What are you afraid of?” he asked, “Your hand turns soft?”

“Boat …” the third man stammered, “I saw a boat.”

The first warrior roared in laughter and said, “Boat? How could there be any boat in this place? Could it be that your eyes …”

His own laughter suddenly stopped as well, while his eyes also bulged out.

The other man already spoke in trembling voice, “The boat … there is really a boat over there heading this way.”

All three men appeared to be terrified; they were agape and tongue-tied, and were unable to move a single step.

Hu Tiehua was pleasantly surprised; he thought, “Perhaps these three are seeing ghost. If a boat could sail on the desert, perhaps we could race horses on the sea as well?”

But when he looked back, he was also frightened and dumbfounded.

Amid the sand blown by the wind filling the air, there was indeed a boat rushing over this way.

At first this boat was sailing as fast as the wind, but this moment it has gradually slowed down. Amid the cry of the eagles filling the sky, it finally slowed down to a halt, and it did actually stop in front of them.

The yellow dust filling the sky gradually settled. A person in white gradually appeared on the bow like a specter. His hands and feet, as well as his facial features, were hidden inside the white clothes and white head covering; even his eyes were not visible.

The three warriors looked at each other, they slowly stepped backward. On their faces all three of them were sweating like rain. Tugging the rope of the camels, they wanted to quietly slip away.

The person in white suddenly laughed grimly and said, “I have arrived here, you guys still want to escape?”

His voice was tender and soft, unexpectedly it was a she.

Although her eyes were hidden behind the white scarves, unexpectedly other people’s each and every move could not be hidden from her. The three warriors’ hands and feet were shaking, the ropes they had just grabbed fell down again.

His voice trembling, the warrior said, “You … who are you, actually?”

Ignoring his question, the person in white slowly said, “I was baffled, why you did not come as agreed, but now I know that it’s the three of you playing tricks.”

Nobody saw her body moved, yet she already floated down from the bow and spoke sternly, “Those things belong to me. Based on who you are, you dare to get your finger on it?”

The warrior had been terrified by her astonishing qinggong; he was stunned for half a day before stammering, “Xiaoren did not have … did not have evil intention at all.”

The person in white laughed coldly and said, “Guanyin Bodhisattva has thousands of hands and thousands of eyes; you still want to deceive me?”

Hu Tiehua could not help heaving a deep sigh and said, “Shi Guanyin, Shi Guanyin, I never expected that finally I can see you. It’s just that meeting you under this kind of situation, it is really discouraging.”

The person in white said, “So what if it is under this kind of situation? Could it be that you simply have to measure yourself against me?”

“That’s right,” Hu Tiehua replied, “I indeed have that intention.”

The person in white spoke with a cold laugh, “I am afraid you are still a long way off … Even this kind of flunkeys could dupe you. The celebrated Hu Tiehua really disappoints me very much.”

She was already facing Hu Tiehua. Behind her, the three warriors quietly exchanged an eye signal, and backhandedly pulled the sabers on their waist out of their scabbards. Three sabers, like gusting wind, chopped toward the person in white.

The person in white still had her hands behind her back, she did not even look back, as if she was completely oblivious of the attack. But by the time the three sabers arrived, her ten slender fingers suddenly shot out from inside her sleeves.

With only a ‘Qiang!’ the saber light – like well-trained horse, soared into the sky.

The three warriors practically did not see the other side making any move, they only felt their wrist was jolted, half of their body went numb, the saber in their palm already shaken out and flew away.

The three were terrified that their soul flew away, how could they still have the time to care about any gold and jewels? Practically, without even dare to look at the person in white, they turned around and ran away.

Although they did not know any lightness skill, but when their life was at stake, their escape was really not slow. They ran straight for about ten zhang before the three sabers started to fall.

The person in white lightly waved, all three sabers were caught. She spoke indifferently, “The sabers are yours, I return it to you.”

She still did not look back, but just tossed the sabers backhandedly, the three sabers flew, as fast as lightning. It was as if the sabers had eyes, in the blink of an eye they already caught up with their owners.

Three screams in a row were heard, blood splashed out, just like three streaks of sparks, the three sabers have already pierced through their hearts, and like nails – pinned the three men to the ground.

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