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Tuesday, 22 July 2008 05:51

Chapter 4 - To Live And Die With The Sabre


That sabre really didn't get to execute its move!

No one knows just what would've happened if GongSun Duan had finished that slash.

Ye Kai let out a long sigh of relief as he looked at the Master of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' with a smile.

"Excellent! What bravery, what courage! You must be the young Hero Fu that Field Master Hua was unable to invite even after three tries." Ma KongQun said with a grin.

"Yes, that is him." Ye Kai said.

"Hero Fu, you honor us with your presence. Please, please have a seat." Ma KongQun said.


GongSun Duan turned to Ma KongQun and said, "But his sabre ..."

"Right now all I see is the person. I don't see his sabre at all." Ma KongQun replied.

The meaning behind those words were very deep. Did he mean to say that the brightness of the person covered up the darkness of his sabre? Or maybe what he really meant to say was that the true weapon was the person and not his blade.

GongSun Duan bit down on his teeth, all the muscles in his body couldn't stop trembling. He suddenly stamped his feet, and with a *QIANG*, his sabre went back into its sheathe.

After a while, Fu HongXue finally started to walk over with his heavy steps and took a seat. His hand was still clenching tightly onto his sabre.

He happened to rest his hand right next to MuRong MingZhu's jewel-encrusted sword. But his ebony black sabre seemed to suck the radiance right out of its pearls.

MuRong MingZhu looked like he was having the life sucked right out of him as well. His face was pale with anger as he suddenly stood up.

Yun ZaiTian, who had been keeping an eye on him the entire time, glanced at him and said, "You ..."

MuRong MingZhu didn't let him speak and berated, "If someone can bring their sabre into the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses', then how come I can't carry my sword?"

"Well you can, but ..." Yun ZaiTian said.

"But what?" MuRong MingZhu said.

Yun ZaiTian let out a slight smirk and said, "But I'm not quite sure whether you're someone who is courageous enough to live with the sword and die with the sword."

MuRong MingZhu looked abashed. His eyes slowly drifted towards GongSun Duan and the bulging muscles on his arms as he felt his own body slowly freezing still.

Luo LuoShan who had been slouched over the table like he was drunk the entire time, lifted his hand and smacked down onto the table and exclaimed, "Ha! Good question!"

Suddenly, MuRong MingZhu dashed towards his sword and reached out to grab it from the table.

But before he could get his fingers onto the handle, the sounds of metal clanging filled the air as seven swords flew onto the table.

Seven magnificently decorated swords adorned with jewels all glimmered under the lantern light.

MuRong MingZhu's hand stopped in mid air as his fingers froze stiff.

No one knew just when Hua MenTian had entered the room. There was no expression on his face as he coldly said, "If you so desperately need a sword at your side, then why don't you attach every single one of these to your waist."

Luo LuoShan suddenly let out a loud laugh and said, "The 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' really is a place of hidden dragons and crouching tigers. It looks some of the people who've come tonight really won't make it out alive."

Ma KongQun sat quietly as his hands rested on top of the table. His posture was still as straight as an arrow.

No matter what happened here, he always seemed to place himself outside of its affairs.

He didn't even seem to cast a single glance at MuRong MingZhu.

All the blood seemed to have drained from MuRong MingZhu's face. He stared at the swords on the table and after a long time he finally gathered the courage and asked, "Where are they?"

"They are still alive." Hua MenTian said.

Yun ZaiTian started to laugh as well and added, "The number of people in this world who have the courage to live and die by the sword really aren't that many."

"That's why smart people don't carry sabres or swords." Luo LuoShan said with a smile.

He was still slouched over the table looking half-sober and half-drunk. His hand reached out as he mumbled, "Where's the wine? How come this place is filled with sabres and swords, but I can't even find a single drop of wine?"

A smile finally came over Ma KongQun's face as he said, "Good question! The main reason why I invited all of you here today was to drink to our heart's content. Hurry up and bring out the wine!"

Luo LuoShan lifted up his head, looked at Ma KongQun with his drunken eyes and said, "Are you only going to let us leave once everyone is drunk?"

"Exactly!" Ma KongQun said.

"What if I'm already drunk? Then can I leave?" Luo LuoShan said.

"Why of course." Ma KongQuen said.

Luo LuoShan let out a sigh as his head fell back to the table, "Then I can relax ... where's the wine? Bring out the wine already!"

Wine was brought out.

A golden jar, giant goblets, green-colored wine.

MuRong MingZhu's face looked like it had turned green as well by now. He didn't know whether he should sit down or walk out.

Ye Kai suddenly slammed his hand down on the table and said, "Such delicious wine, such wonderful company, such a pity that there is no music to go along. I've heard that brother MuRong is an expert in both the martial and scholarly arts, and also an avid musician. I wonder if brother MuRong may pleasure us with a song?"

MuRong MingZhu finally snapped out of his trance and looked over at Ye Kai.

Some people are able to project a smile that never contains the slightest hint of animosity. Ye Kai was one of those people.

MuRong MingZhu was quiet for a long while before he finally breathed out and exclaimed, "Okay!"

"Emperor of the skies, emperor of the earth. Blood drips from the eyes, the moon doesn't shine. Once one enters the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Heroes', sabres are severed, intestines are shattered."

Yun ZaiTian's face changed colors.

GongSun Duan turned around abruptly and stared at him with his hand at his sabre.

Ma KongQun was the only one whose expression didn't change. He actually looked quite pleased.

MuRong MingZhu gulped down his goblet of wine which seemed to flood his body with courage as he said loudly, "I wonder if any one of you have heard this tune before?"

"I have!" Ye Kai said.

"And what were your impressions after you heard it?" MuRong MingZhu asked.

"I found one of the lines very amusing." Ye Kai said.

"Only one of them?" MuRong MingZhu questioned.

"That's right, only one of them." Ye Kai responded.

"Which one?" MuRong MingZhu said.

Ye Kai closed his eyes and sang out, "Sabres are severed, intestines are shattered ... sabres are severed, intestines are shattered."

He kept repeating those two verses and suddenly opened his eyes and look towards the Hall Master, "Do you know what I found so amusing about these two verses?"

"Please enlighten us." Ma KongQun said.

"Sabres are severed, intestines are shattered. Why couldn't it be that swords are shattered, why do the words specifically point to sabres being shattered?" Ye Kai said.

His eyes danced around from MuRong MingZhu, then to Fu HongXue, and then back to the Hall Master.

Fu HongXue sat there quietly at his seat staring at the sabre in his hands as his pupils slowly contracted.

MuRong MingZhu slowly took his seat as a smile started to form from the corners of his mouth. His eyes were filled with gratitude as he looked towards Ye Kai.

Flying Spider was never a talkative person, so he was able to watch attentively the entire time.

And by now, he had made up his mind that Ye Kai was definitely a friend worth having.

"It'd be much better and much easier to be his friend rather than his foe."

When Flying Spider realized this, he finished the cup of wine in front of him and said, "That's right. How come it specifically mentions sabres being severed and not swords? What's the reasoning behind this anyway?"

Hua MenTian looked slightly peeved and said coldly, "Well if everyone wants to know why, everyone should be asking the person who sang it."

Ye Kai nodded his head and said, "very true, it seems that I've been asking the wrong person ..."

"You haven't been asking the wrong person." Ma KongQun suddenly interjected.

"Master Ma, so you're saying ..." Ye Kai said.

"Have any of you ever heard of the saying, 'The Horse and Sabre of GuanDong, No Equals Under Heaven'?" Ma KongQun asked.

"The 'Horse and Sabre of GuanDong'? So you're saying that there's some sort of connection between the horse and the sabre?" Ye Kai asked.

"Not only is there a connection, but a very deep connection between the two." Ma KongQun replied.

"Oh!" Ye Kai exclaimed.

"Twenty years ago, there was only the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre', no one had yet heard of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'." Ma KongQun said.

"But twenty years later, there is only the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses', no one mentions the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre' anymore." Ye Kai said.

The smile on Ma KongQun's face slowly faded away as he sunk into a serious mood. After a long silence he finally let out a sigh and said solemnly, "The reason for this is because all of the members of the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre' were completely wiped out eighteen years ago!"

Although his expression remained very calm, the wrinkles on his face seemed to exude a fiery vengeance that sent chills down everyone's spine.

Anyone who laid eyes on him wouldn't dare to look twice.

Yet, Ye Kai was still staring right at him as he continued asking, "How did the people of the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre' die?"

"By the sabre!" Ma KongQun said.

Luo LuoShan slammed his hand onto the table again as he mumbled, "There is a saying that goes 'a good swimmer will probably drown to death', how ironic that the Divine Sabre should also fall to the sabre of another. How ironic, how ironic ... where's the wine?"

Ma KongQun glanced down at his hand that was missing four fingers and slowly said, "The members of the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre' and the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' have always been like brothers. But each of one of them were brutally murdered during a wintry snowstorm, each one of them had their heads cut off! For the past eighteen years, this bloody debt has never been forgotten by the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'!"

He lifted his head, stared at Ye Kai and said, "Now do you understand the reasoning behind the verse, 'sabres are severed'?"

Ye Kai never glanced away, his eyes were still as sharp as ever as he implored further, "In the past eighteen years, has Master Ma been able to discover who the killers were?"

"I haven't." Ma KongQun said.

"Master Ma, your hand ..." Ye Kai asked.

"It was cut off by the exact same sabre." Ma KongQun replied.

"Master Ma recognizes the sabre but not the person who wielded it?" Ye Kai asked.

"You can't cover up a sabre's face with a black veil." Ma KongQun replied.

Ye Kai smiled and said, "You're right. If a sabre was covered up, then it wouldn't be able to kill."

Fu HongXue, who was still staring at the sabre in his hand, suddenly asked, "What if the sabre was still in its sheathe?"

"If the sabre was still in its sheathe, then of course it couldn't kill." Ye Kai said.

"If the sabre was still in its sheathe, then would it be hiding, afraid of being recognized?" Fu HongXue asked.

"I'm not sure, but I do know one thing." Ye Kai said.

Fu HongXue was listening.

"If a person had anything to do with the tragedy that happened eighteen years ago, they definitely wouldn't bring a sabre with them to the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'." Ye Kai smiled and added, "Unless that person was crazy, it'd make much more sense to carry a sword or a spear."

Fu HongXue's glance slowly shifted from his sabre to Ye Kai's smile. A very unusual expression came over his face.

It was the first time that he had looked at anybody for that long - and it was probably the most serious as well!

From the look of MuRong MingZhu's eyes, it seemed as if the wine had slowly started to take effect, as he blurted out, "This is something that happened more than eighteen years ago, who cares whether someone brought a sword or a sabre?"

"Not exactly." Hua MenTian said.

"Well, with the exception of Mr. Luo, everyone here was still just a child when that tragedy happened. How could any of us have killed anybody back then?" MuRong MingZhu said.

Hua MenTian suddenly changed the subject and asked, "I wanted to ask brother MuRong if you're married or not yet?"

MuRong MingZhu looked like he was trying to figure out why Hua MenTian was asking this but could only nod his head in response.

"If by the time you are old and senile but still had unresolved vengeances, who would seek to settle them for you?" Hua MenTian asked.

"My son of course." MuRong MingZhu replied.

Hua MenTian smiled and didn't ask any further, because he didn't need to.

MuRong MingZhu looked startled as he forced a smile and said, "Are you suggesting that one of us here tonight are the descendants of the murderers of eighteen years ago?"

Hua MenTian didn't respond - but sometimes not responding was a response in itself.

MuRong MingZhu's face flushed red as he said, "If that's the case, then Hall Master Ma must have had a different agenda in mind when he invited all of us here under the guise of treating us to wine."

"That's right!" Ma KongQun replied.

"So then what are your intentions!" MuRong MingZhu said.

"Where there are people, there are bound to be chickens and dogs. On the way here, did any of you happen to hear the sounds of chickens chirping or dogs barking?" Ma KongQun asked.

"No, not at all." MuRong MingZhu replied.

"And do you know the reason for this?" Ma KongQun said.

"Well, could it be that no one here raises chickens or dogs?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"Do you really think that there wouldn't be anyone here who raised hunting or herding dogs in the open ranges of the border regions?" Ma KongQun said.

"There is?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"Field Master Hua alone has about eighteen canines under his care." Ma KongQun said.

MuRong MingZhu glanced at Hua MenTian from the corner of his eyes and said, "Maybe the dogs that Field Master Hua raises don't bark - dogs that bite people usually don't bark."

"There is no such thing in this world as a dog that doesn't bark." Hua MenTian said.

Luo LuoShan suddenly lifted his head and said, "There is one type of dog that doesn't bark."

"A dead dog?" Hua MenTian said.

"That's right, a dead dog. Only a dead dog won't bark, and only a dead person won't talk ..." Luo LuoShan mumbled half-coherently.

Hua MenTian knitted his brow and asked, "And what about a drunkard?"

"Not only do drunkards talk a lot, they tend to say the most obnoxious things as well." Luo LuoShan remarked.

"Isn't that that truth." Hua MenTian said.

"Well, the truth usually pisses people off, wouldn't you say? ... Now where's the wine?" Luo LuoShan blurted out as he burst into laughter.

But the sounds of his laughter suddenly broke off as he collapsed onto the table again.

Hua MenTian had a look of disgust on his face as he furrowed his brow.

"We originally had twenty-one male and sixteen female dogs here. We also have about three hundred and ninety-three chickens, and they usually lay three hundred eggs a day. And we have a daily ration of about forty chickens that we eat, so that's not part of the total number either." Yun ZaiTian said.

For whatever reason he reported all the logistical details of the dogs and chickens of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'.

Ye Kai smiled and said, "How many are chickens and how many are roosters? If the chickens far outnumber the roosters, then perhaps you should allow the rooster population to catch up. That is something that could affect the number of eggs that are being hatched."

"Thank you for your kind intentions, but it is totally useless now." Yun ZaiTian said.

"Why's that?" Ye Kai said.

Yun ZaiTian's expression sunk as he said slowly, "The thirty-seven dogs and three hundred ninety-three chickens were all killed in one night."

"How did they die?" Ye Kai asked.

"All of them had their necks cut off." Yun ZaiTian said in a very serious tone of voice.

"If Master Yun is looking for the culprit who killed off all the dogs and chickens, I think I might have a clue as to who it could be." MuRong MingZhu said with a smile.

"Oh?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"That person must be a chef or a kitchen worker. Even if you asked me to kill that many chickens at once, I don't think that I'd be capable." MuRong MingZhu said.

"It wasn't a chef." Yun ZaiTian said.

"How do you figure?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"That person was able to slaughter more than four hundred chickens without anyone noticing or hearing a single thing. The speed of his sabre must be frightening!" Yun ZaiTian said.

Ye Kai nodded his head and said, "What a scary sabre indeed!"

"With a sabre that fast, forget about chickens. I'm sure that it could kill people just as easily." Yun ZaiTian said.

"Well that all depends on who he is trying to kill." Ye Kai said with a smile.

Yun ZaiTian's eyes slowly shifted towards Fu HongXue and asked, "That sabre in your hand, is it capable of silencing four hundred chickens in a single breath?"

"I wouldn't need to use this sabre if I was trying to kill dogs and chickens." Fu HongXue replied.

"Now I understand." Yun ZaiTian said.

"What is it?" Ye Kai said.

"If a person had such incredible sabre techniques, why would he purposely come in the middle of the night to butcher dogs and chickens?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"If that person wasn't sick in the head, then he must be extremely bored." Ye Kai said with a smile.

"Do you all still not see the meaning behind what the culprit was doing?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"I really don't." Ye Kai said.

"Well even if you can't see it, at least you must've heard of a certain saying before." Yun ZaiTian said.

"And what saying is that?" MuRong MingZhu asked.

A horrifying look came over Yun ZaiTian's eyes as he slowly uttered, "Spare neither chickens nor dogs!"

"Spare neither chickens nor dogs ... why would someone not even spare the chickens or the dogs?" MuRong MingZhu said with a puzzled look on his face.

"If you wanted to thoroughly slaughter an entire household, you don't leave even a single thing alive!" Yun ZaiTian said.

"Why would somebody be trying to ... are you saying that the murderers from eighteen years ago have come back to finish the job?" MuRong MingZhi said.

"It must be them." Yun ZaiTian said. He looked like he was trying to control his anger but his expression was starting to twist. He gulped down another cup of wine and shouted out, "It must be them! Who else could it be!"

"How can you be so certain?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"If it weren't the same murderers, why would they first kill off all the dogs and chickens? They're obviously trying to taunt us! If it were anyone else, they'd just be wasting their time and efforts." Yun ZaiTian.

"But still, what's the purpose of their taunting?" MuRong MinZhu said.

Yun ZaiTian clenched his fists as beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He gritted his teeth and shouted, "Because they don't want us to die so quickly and easily, they want to slowly torment us!"

The distant sounds of horses neighing could be heard, but other than that the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' was deathly quiet.

The autumn winds howled sorrowfully. Murderous intent seemed to suffocate the air.

An autumn night in Bordertown usually chills you from head to toe.

Fu HongXue was still staring at his sabre, while Ye Kai was quietly observing each and every person there.

GongSun Duan had started to down cup after cup of wine incessantly.

Hua MenTian was strolling back and forth with his hands behind his back in front of the massive horse painting.

Flying Spider's face was pale white as he stared at the ceiling of the hall. Who knew what he had seen?

The wine that MuRong MingZhu had just drank was starting to leak out as cold sweat - if he really had nothing to do with the events of eighteen years ago, why was he so terrified?

Ma KongQun was still sitting up straight at the head of the table as if he was completely unaffected by everything that was happening.

But his two hands which were pressing down onto the top of the table were actually starting to imprint themselves into the table's surface.

"Wine relieves a thousand worries, the drunkards have it best."

But was Luo LuoShan really drunk?

Ye Kai let out a smile as he realized that the only person who hadn't changed their expression was himself.

Heavy winds poured through the screen as all of the candles in the room flickered violently casting red shadows over everyone's face, making all of them appear full of evil intentions.

After a long while, MuRong MingZhu suddenly asked, "There is still one thing that I don't understand."

"Oh?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"They're the ones who slaughtered all the members of the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre'. You should be the ones trying to exact vengeance. Why would they be the ones who have come looking for trouble instead?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"The Divine Sabre and Ten-Thousand Horses were originally one. We share triumphs and tribulations, and we share enmity and hostility as well." Yun ZaiTian said.

"So you're saying that the murderers still have a score to settle with you too?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"It's definitely a hatred that refuses to disappear!" Yun ZaiTian said.

"Then why did they wait eighteen years to finally seek revenge?" MuRong MingZhu said.

Yun ZaiTian seemed to be looking off into the distance as he said, "Although they were able to wipe out the 'Hall of the Divine Sabre', they must have suffered severe losses as well."

"So they didn't have the strength to finish off the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' back then?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"In the thirty years that the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' has been established in GuanDong, no one has ever dared to disturb even a blade of grass here." Yun ZaiTian.

"But even if they needed to recuperate back then, it shouldn't have taken them eighteen years." MuRong MingZhi said.

Yun ZaiTian suddenly glanced at him with blades in his eyes as he said, "Perhaps they were too severely injured and were growing old with age so they had to wait until the next generation had matured to come and seek revenge."

MuRong MingZhu looked slightly worried as he replied, "Master Yun, are you really suspicious that one of us here are in league with the killers?"

"The blood spilt eighteen years ago is still fresh. Whatever happens here tonight may give birth to new hostilities to come. The members of the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' number in the hundreds, each and every one of their lives hang on the outcome of this battle. So isn't it obvious that we have to be extra cautious?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"But we all just arrived in town last night." MuRong MingZhu said.

"It is exactly because of the fact that we are all strangers who just arrived last night that we are the most suspicious." Ye Kai said.

"Why is that?" MuRong MingZhu asked.

"Because those dogs and chickens were slaughtered last night as well." Ye Kai said.

"So you're suggesting that one of us immediately proceeded to kill those animals as soon as we arrived in town? Why couldn't it have been someone who had already been here for seven or eight days?" MuRong MingZhu said.

"A hatred that's been boiling for eighteen years probably wouldn't even wait a single minute, much less seven or eight days." Ye Kai said.

MuRong MingZhu started to wipe the sweat off his forehead as he mumbled, "That makes no sense, that makes no sense at all."

"Whether it makes sense or not, we should all be grateful." Ye Kai said.

"Grateful? Why should we be grateful?" MuRong MingZhu said.

Ye Kai lifted up his cup with a smile and said, "If we didn't bear the greatest suspicion, how else would we have been able to taste the best wine that the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' has to offer?"

Luo LuoShan suddenly slammed his hand onto the table again and said, "Exactly! If a person is able to look past certain things in life, then he will definitely be much happier ... wine! Pass me more wine!"

This time he actually managed to pour himself another cup as he downed it in one sitting.

"I can't believe that you're still able to drink after all this." MuRong MingZhu said coldly.

"As long as I know that I didn't do anything, why should I care if anyone labels me as a dog murderer or a chicken murderer? Why wouldn't I be able to drink this wine? Wine ... do you guys have anymore wine ..." Luo LuoShan stammered.

When the wine came, he had already fallen over the table again, snoring loudly.

Hua MenTian stared at him with disgust out of the corner of his eye. He looked like he really wanted to pull this person off his chair and kick him right out of the door.

Hua MenTian was a very patient person, he was always able to contain his anger. How else would he have been able to stand for an entire night in the sand and winds?

But once he saw Luo LuoShan, it was as if flames of hatred had been ignited inside of him. His normally calm face looked like it could erupt with fury at any second.

Ye Kai found it very amusing.

He always seemed to notice every little oddity in any situation that he was in. And he was always very amused by it.

While he was observing everyone else, Ma KongQun was silently observing him, and he found Ye Kai very amusing as well.

Then, whether it was on purpose or not, their eyes suddenly met. It was like two blades colliding with each other causing sparks to fly from their eyes.

Ma KongQun forced a smile and seemed like he wanted to say something.

But just at that time, MuRong MingZhu let out a laugh and said, "I finally understand everything now."

"What do you understand?" Yun ZaiTian said.

"The Third Boss must have suspected that one out of the five of us who had just arrived in Bordertown must be one of the killers looking for revenge. So he invited all of us here today so that he could try to figure out who it was." MuRong MingZhu said.

"Do you think I would be able to?" Ma KongQun said.

"Probably not. It's not like that person is wearing a sign over their head. And it'd be pretty much impossible to get that person to admit to it themselves." MuRong MingZhu said.

"If I wouldn't be able to find out who it was, then why would I bother wasting so much time and effort?" Ma KongQun said.

"I would think that the Third Boss is someone who would never do something needlessly." Ye Kai remarked.

"Brother Ye is certainly knows me well." Ma KongQun said.

"Then what is the real reason that you invited all of us here today for? Do you have anything else to ask of us? Or did you really invite all of us here to get drunk?" MuRong MingZhu shouted.

Such unruly words coming from a supposedly cultured gentleman. Just three cups of wine seemed to make him forget how he had been humiliated moments before.

Were the sons and daughters of rich families usually people of little substance?

But for some reason Ye Kai found him very amusing. He seemed to find something about MuRong MingZhu very interesting.

After a long silence, Ma KongQun finally stood up and announced, "It's getting very late and it's a long way back to town. I've prepared guest rooms for everyone here tonight. If everyone doesn't mind, I ask that you all stay the night. And whatever has to be said can wait until tomorrow."

Ye Kai let out a yawn and said, "That's right, whatever has to be said can wait until tomorrow."

"Brother Ye is a very agreeable person. It's a pity that not everyone in this world is as agreeable as he is." Flying Spider said.

"And what are you?" Ma KongQun asked.

"Well, for someone like me, I couldn't disagree even if I wanted to." Flying Spider replied.

MuRong MingZhu stared at the eight swords on the table and said, "Well at least its much more comfortable here than any of the inns in the town."

"Brother Fu ..." Ma KongQun said.

"If my sabre can stay, than I can stay." Fu HongXue replied insipidly.

"No! I can't stay here tonight!" Luo LuoShan suddenly shouted, "If the killer suddenly comes in the middle of the night and mistakenly goes after me and cuts off my head, won't I have died a very unjust death?"

"You really must leave?" Hua MenTian said.

Luo LuoShan's drunken eyes wandered about as he blurted out, "But if there's more wonderful wine for me to drink in the morning, even if my head gets cut off, then I'll just have to accept it as my fate."

All of them stood up, none of them insisted on leaving.

All of them felt that even though it wasn't going to be a peaceful night, it was still a much better alternative than leaving.

Anything could happen to a person who wandered off into the desert night.

Only GongSun Duan remained at the table, still drinking cup after cup of wine ...

The piercing winds had subsided, but the morning sun still seemed far, far away.

The night fell deathly silent again. Only the distant sounds of horses neighing could be heard as they left an eerie and unearthly wail in the winds.

A lonely lantern hung at the edge of the sky making this barren wilderness appear even more desolate.

The night moon in Bordertown was just as lonely and desolate as its surroundings.