Home Bordertown Wanderer (边城浪子) Bordertown Wanderer 21
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Tuesday, 22 July 2008 19:59

Chapter 21 - The Sword Without A Sheathe


 
The fire had finally been extinguished.

Li MaHu's general store was burned to the ground. The neighboring butcher's shop with the sign that read 'We sell beef, lamb, and pork' and the noodle stand suffered the same fate.

The wooden shacks that lined the narrow alley were caught in the blaze as well.

A heap of scattered furniture and belongings that had been rescued during the fire lay in the middle of the road. Several buckets and pails rolled around in the wind as if they were looking for their masters.

The piles of scorched rubble were still damp and wet. It hadn't been very long since the fire was put out and the smell of embers and ashes was still in the air.

The people of Bordertown usually awoke early in the morning, but there was not a soul in sight. Perhaps the toil and labor of the previous night had tired everyone to exhaustion and put them in a deep slumber.

This already small and remote town looked even more miserable and decrepit.

Slight feelings of guilt crept over Ye Kai as he slowly made his way down the main road. No matter the reasons, this fire wouldn't have started if it hadn't been for him. And he should have been trying to help put out the blaze, but instead he was drowning himself in alcohol.

After the fire had ravaged the town, how many people were without homes now?

Ye Kai let out a long sigh, he didn't even want to think about Boss Zhang who owned the noodle shop. Boss Zhang was an honest and hard-working person. Not only was he the owner of the noodle shop, he was also the cook and the waiter. All year long he donned his greasy apron and was busy from dusk until dawn, yet the money he made wasn't even enough to support a wife.

Nonetheless, he was always wore a smile on his face. Even if you only ordered a single three qian bowl of Yangchun noodles, he would still treat you with the same courtesy and respect as if you were the God of Wealth himself. That's why even when the noodles he cooked came out looking like a pile of mud, no one would ever bother to complain.

But now that noodle shop had been leveled. How would this poor boss ever get by?

Ding LaoSi the butcher had it a little better. He could still visit Xiao BieLi's for drinks and occasionally spend the night there.

The cotton shop several stores down was completely intact. Even the plaque that hung above its doors that read 'Exquisite Cotton, For Sale' escaped the blaze unscathed.

'Exquisite Silks and Satin, Ingenuity is in Our Needle'

'Exquisite Fans, Umbrellas, and Covers'

With the exception of Xiao BieLi, everyone in town considered these three stores to be the most excessive. Even if they did burn down, no one would really mind. But it just happened that all three weren't even touched.

Ye Kai let out a bitter smile. Just when he wanted to ask around for information about Boss Zhang and the others, someone came looking for him instead.

The lantern above that narrow door was still lit.

A figure emerged from the door, his hand waving at Ye Kai. That person's face was pale and white, a slight smile could be seen on the corner of his mouth. He was the proprietor of the silk and satin shop, a native of Fuzhou, Chen DaGuan.

There was not a better businessman in Bordertown, and there was not another person with more connections than he had.

Ye Kai recognized him. Ye Kai recognized all the shop owners in town. When he had nothing better to do, he liked to mingle and chat with all the store owners because something beneficial was bound to result from socializing with them. Now all he could do was wonder why Chen DaGuan was beckoning for him.

So Ye Kai walked over and wore a slight smile on his mouth. Chen DaGuan had slipped back inside the door by now.

The door was open.

As soon as he stepped in, he caught sight of almost all the shop owners that he knew. Yet, Xiao BieLi was nowhere to be seen.

With the exception of Chen DaGuan, everyone bore sullen expressions on their faces. The table was empty, there was no wine or food set.

It was not yet bright outside and none of the lanterns were lit inside the main hall.

Their expressions were like cold steel and they all stared out of eyes that hadn't had enough sleep. They didn't look very friendly at all.

"Could they have figured out that I indirectly caused that fire?" Ye Kai thought to himself.

Ye Kai could only smile, he almost wanted to ask them if they were after him for retribution. They really were after retribution, but it wasn't from him. It was from Fu HongXue.

"Since that fellow surnamed Fu came to Bordertown, nothing but disaster has followed."

"Not only is he murdering people, now he's setting fires as well."

"Before the fire broke out, someone saw him entering Li MaHu's store with their own eyes."

"It's as if he enjoys bringing us nothing but grief and trouble."

"We simply can't coexist with him here in Bordertown, he must leave."

Besides Chen DaGuan, the others who spoke out were Boss Song of the cotton shop, Ding LaoSi, and Boss Zhang. These people who were rarely talkative were extremely vocal today.

Everytime they mentioned Fu HongXue's name, they all gritted their teeth, as if they wanted so desperately to tear a chunk of his flesh off with their own mouths.

Ye Kai waited patiently for them to finish, then asked politely, "What are all of you planning to do with him?"

Chen DaGuan sighed and said, "At first we were thinking of asking him to leave town. But since he has come here, we all doubt that he will leave just like that, so ..."

"So ...?" Ye Kai asked.

"Since he won't leave us in peace, then we won't leave him in peace either." Boss Zhang cut in.

Ding LaoSi slammed his fist onto the table and added, "We're all peaceful, law-abiding citizens, but if people offend us like this, they'll soon find out how formidable we can be."

Boss Song swung his pipe over his head and said, "When dogs are provoked, they can leap over walls. What about humans?"

Ye Kai slowly nodded his head, as if agreeing with everything they said.

Chen DaGuan sighed and said, "Although we all want him taken care of, I'm afraid that we simply do not have the ability."

"Of course honest people like us are no match for murderers like him." Boss Song added.

"But luckily, we have a couple of very powerful acquaintances." Chen DaGuan said.

"You're talking about the Third Boss?" Ye Kai asked.

"The Third Boss has too much reputation, we wouldn't want to ask him to do this sort of thing." Chen DaGuan replied.

"Besides the Third Boss, I can't think of anyone else who would qualify around here." Ye Kai said.

"A youngster called Little Lu." Chen DaGuan replied.

"Little Lu?"

"Although he is still quite young, he can already be considered a first rate swordsman in the martial arts circles." Chen DaGuan said.

"I've heard that in the last year alone he's slain over thirty to forty people, all of them martial experts as well." Boss Song added.

Boss Zhang gritted his teeth and said, "To deal with a bloodthirsty murderer, you have to find another one just as vicious."

"That's what they mean by an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Chen DaGuan said.

Ye Kai fell silent for a while, then suddenly asked, "The Little Lu you are all talking about, is the 'Lu' in his name the same 'lu' as in 'road'?"

"Correct." Chen DaGuan said.

"It's Lu XiaoJia?" Ye Kai asked.

"Yes it is." Chen DaGuan replied.

Boss Song took a deep breath, then asked, "Young Master Ye has made his acquaintance?"

Ye Kai smiled, "I've heard of him before. I've heard that his sword is swift and fierce."

"There aren't many people who haven't heard of him in these past two years." Boss Song smiled back.

"There really aren't many." Ye Kai said.

"I've heard that even the Four Swords of the Divine Dragon of the Kunlun Mountains and the Chief of the Dian Cang Sect fell to his sword." Boss Song gloated.

Ye Kai nodded his head, "Boss Song seems to be very familiar with his deeds."

Boss Song let out a laugh and said, "Just so Master Ye knows, this exceptional youngster is the eldest son of a distant relative of mine."

"And he is coming to Bordertown?" Ye Kai asked.

"It turns out that he hasn't forgotten this old relative of his. Someone delivered a letter from him two days earlier so I know that he must be somewhere close by." Boss Song said.

"That's why after last night we immediately sent someone to invite him to Bordertown." Ding LaoSi chimed in.

"So if everything goes accordingly, he should be here by sunset." Chen DaGuan said.

Boss Zhang clenched his fists and said detestingly, "When that time comes, we're going to enjoy watching what happens to Fu HongXue."

Ye Kai suddenly smiled and said, "Since this has already been decided, why did you all invite me in here for?"

"Young Master Ye is an understanding person, we have always regarded Young Master Ye as a friend." Chen DaGuan replied. It seemed as if he was afraid of Ye Kai saying something unpleasant so he immediately added, "But Master Ye has always been quite kind to the one surnamed Fu."

"You're afraid that I'll interfere in this matter?" Ye Kai said.

"I am an honest person, I only speak honest words." Boss Zhang said.

"Then speak." Ye Kai replied.

"It'd be best if you helped us dispose of him. But if you're not willing to help us, then at least don't help him either, or else ..."

"Or else what?"

Boss Zhang stood up and pronounced loudly, "Even if I'm not a match for you, I'll fight you 'til the very last breath."

"Great! Those really are honest words. I enjoy listening to honest words." Ye Kai said with a smile.

"So you will help us?" Boss Zhang asked delightedly.

"At the very least, I won't help him." Ye Kai responded.

Chen DaGuan let out a sigh of relief and exclaimed, "Then we are in your debt."

"I only hope that you will inform me when Lu XiaoJia arrives." Ye Kai said.

"Of course" Chen DaGuan replied.

Ye Kai fell into a deep voice and said, "I've long wanted to meet this person, and that sword ..."

A voice suddenly rang out, "I've heard that he rarely lets anyone see his sword."

That voice belonged to Xiao BieLi. He was standing on the second floor but his voice had already reached them.

Ye Kai looked over and let out a laugh, "So his sword is like Fu HongXue's sabre?"

Xiao BieLi smiled back and replied, "There is one difference."

"What's that?" Ye Kai asked.

"Fu HongXue's sabre takes the lives of three types of people, but his sword takes the lives of only one." Xiao BieLi said.

"And what type is that?"

"The living!"

Xiao BieLi slowly made his way down the flight of stairs, wearing a sullen smile on his pale white face, "He isn't like Fu HongXue. To him, there are only two types of people in this world, the dead and the living."

"So he will kill anyone who is living?" Ye Kai asked.

Xiao BieLi let out a sigh and replied, "All I know is that I've never heard of anyone escaping from his sword alive."

Ye Kai sighed as well, "All I want to know is one thing."

"What's that?"

"Whether or not his sword is faster than Fu HongXue's sabre."

It seemed that everyone wanted to know the exact same thing.

________________________________________

The sun had risen by now. The local constable Zhao Da was instructing several of his officers to clear out the scene of the fire. Everyone in the hall had come outside to watch and comment.

Xiao BieLi and Ye Kai stayed behind inside.

Ye Kai peered out the window and commented, "That Zhao Da really puts his all into his work."

"It's only natural that he's going all out."

"Oh?"

"Everyone in town knows that Li MaHu wasn't a careless person. In the ten odd years that he had toiled, he probably accumulated some several thousand taels of silver."

"And silver doesn't melt."

"He has no family or relatives either."

"So all they have to do is dig up that silver and it'll be theirs."

Xiao BieLi smiled and said, "No wonder they said you were an understanding person."

"So you heard everything they said?" Ye Kai asked.

"The way they were talking, it's as if they were afraid of people not hearing what they said."

"No wonder you couldn't fall asleep. All the while I thought you were just too caught up drinking with a guest upstairs."

Xiao BieLi's eyes gleamed, "You thought I was with Ding Qiu?"

Ye Kai smiled, pulled a chair and sat down.

"You're looking for him?" Xiao BieLi asked.

"To tell you the truth, the person I'm really looking for is Fu HongXue."

"You don't know where he is right now?"

"You do?"

Xiao BieLi thought for awhile, then replied, "He definitely hasn't left Bordertown yet."

"I don't think you could even chase him away with a whip." Ye Kai said with a smile.

"But if he remained, it'll be very hard to find anyone who will welcome him."

"It looks to be that way." Ye Kai said.

Xiao BieLi's tone fell deep as he replied, "But there are some places without masters, where the doors will never close."

"Where for example?"

"Places like the Temple of Lord Guan."

Ye Kai eyes lit up as he rose to his feet and remarked, "Lord Guan is someone who I really admire. I should've visited his temple earlier to burn a few sticks of incense to pay my respects."

"It's best that you only burn incense and not his temple." Xiao BieLi said jokingly.

"Fortunately Lord Guan never opens his mouth or that would be a real possibility." Ye Kai smirked back.

________________________________________

The scorched bodies and ashes had been cleaned out, but there were still no signs of the stashed silver. Zhao Da was taking a rest, gulping down water from a large bowl while yelling at his officers to not slack off and that if the silver was found, that everyone would have a share.

Ye Kai walked over beside him and quietly whispered, "I've heard that some people like to bury their valuables underneath the floor of their shops."

"That's right, why didn't I think of that." Zhao Da replied with a look of surprise. It seemed as if he just realized that he was talking to Ye Kai so he added, "If we manage to find the silver, then from now on all of master Ye's wine debts will be taken care of by me."

"No need for that. I only hope that you can take care of the deceased by purchasing two coffins to ensure them a proper burial." Ye Kai replied.

"If there are ready-made coffins, why waste silver on purchasing new ones?" Zhao Da said.

"Oh? There are coffins here that don't cost money? I've never heard of this before."

"Master Ye, have you forgotten? The other day somebody sent several coffins here."

Ye Kai's eyes lit up. "Weren't those coffins going to the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'?"

"These past two days, the Third Boss has been suffering misfortune after misfortune. Who would dare to send coffins over there at a time like this?" Zhao Da explained.

"Where are the coffins?" Ye Kai asked.

"They were originally stacked up in that empty lot back there. When the fire broke out yesterday, I ordered them to be moved to the Temple of Lord Guan, so at least the people who died the past two days could get some comfort." Zhao Da said.

"The people who died these last two days really chose the right time and place to go." Ye Kai said.

"But the people alive are the ones left behind who have to endure the hardships of this poor and miserable town." Zhao Da said with a sigh.

"Who said that this town was poor? There could very well be over a thousand taels of silver over there waiting for you to claim." Ye Kai replied.

Zhao Da let out a laugh and said, "Thank you for your well wishing Master Ye, I'll be going over to claim my silver now."

He folded up his sleeves and raced over. Halfway there, he turned his head and said, "Master Ye, should some grave misfortune befall you while you're in Bordertown, I'll make sure to choose the most exquisite coffin for you."

As Ye Kai watched him race off, he didn't even know whether to be angry or to laugh. After some time, he finally smiled and mumbled to himself, "Your mother, I hope you fall over you bastard of a friend."

________________________________________

Although the main road was the most prominent place in Bordertown, it definitely wasn't the only place there was.

Just to the left of the main road was a section of town that was even more ragged and run-down. The people who lived here were either shepherds, stable attendants, or workers from one of the shops.

There was a pregnant woman crouched over trying to start a warm fire. She was carrying a child on her back while three other children stood by her side. Their faces were all pale and she looked even more emaciated than an old woman.

Ye Kai let out a tired sigh - why did it always seem that the poorer one was, the more children one had?

Could it be that because they couldn't afford to light their lanterns at night, they had nothing better to do?

Whatever the case, the poorer one was, the more children one had, and the more children one had, the poorer one became. It was as if this was some unalterable and unescapable fate. Ye Kai suddenly realized that this was a grave and serious problem, but couldn't quite think of a way that it could be avoided. But he believed that this problem would eventually have a solution.

Just a little further ahead, he could see the dilapidated temple of Lord Guan.

The smell of incense inside the temple was weak. The paint on the benevolent Lord Guan's statue had started to peel. The main gates were falling apart, and the coffins were stacked up in the courtyard. There wasn't much room in the courtyard so the coffins had to be stacked up against each other.

The altar in front of the statue still looked fairly sturdy, sturdy enough to hold a person laying on top. In fact, there actually was a person laying on top at the very moment.

A person with a pale white face clenching on tightly to a coal black sabre, and a pair of bright eyes that were staring straight at Ye Kai.

Ye Kai smiled.

Fu HongXue didn't smile back. Instead he said coldly, "I've told you before, you walk your own path and I'll walk mine."

"I heard you then."

"Then why have you come looking for me?"

"Who said I was looking for you?"

"I did."

Ye Kai smiled again.

"In this room, there is a person made of flesh and a person made of wood. Don't tell me you're here to look for the person made of wood." Fu HongXue said.

"You're referring to Lord Guan?"

"All I know is that he's a wooden statue."

Ye Kai let out a sigh, "I know you've never admired anyone ever before, but you should at least show him some respect."

"Why?"

"Because ... because he's achieved divinity."

"He's your deity, not mine." Fu HongXue said with a cold smile.

"You don't believe in the gods at all?"

"I don't believe in things like that, and I can't imagine what he could've done to deserve my respect."

"At the very least, he never sold out to Cao Cao, and he never betrayed his friends."

"There are many people who have never betrayed their friends."

"But you should know ..."

"All I know is that if he wasn't so arrogant and egotistical, then the Han state of Shu wouldn't have fell as fast as it did."

Ye Kai let out a sigh, "I know why you don't respect him."

"Oh?"

"Because everyone else respects him. You're the type who will always strive to be different from everyone else."

Fu HongXue suddenly turned over, shot to his feet, and slowly walked out.

"You're going to leave just like that?" Ye Kai said.

"The uncouthly air here is too much for me to bear." Fu HongXue replied.

"If you want to live a long life, you have to be a little vulgar once in a while." Ye Kai said.

"Well, that's your point of view. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with me." Fu HongXue said.

"Then what is your point of view?" Ye Kai asked.

"That has nothing to do with you either." Fu HongXue said coldly.

"Could it be that you really don't plan on living much longer?" Ye Kai asked.

"I've never lived a single day in this world at all." Fu HongXue replied.

He didn't turn his head. Ye Kai couldn't see the expression on his face, but he did notice that the hand that held his sabre was clenched extremely hard. He could clench as hard as he wanted to but he would never be able to crush the pain and suffering in his mind.

Ye Kai stared at him and said, "No matter what you think, you'll arrive in this world sooner or later, because you have to live on. You have no other choice but to live on."

Fu HongXue appeared as if he didn't hear him at all. His left foot took a step forward, and his right leg dragged along from behind.

A look of concern came over Ye Kai as he watched Fu HongXue walk away. Even if his sabre was faster than Lu XiaoJia, his legs ...

Fu HongXue had left the courtyard by now. Ye Kai didn't try to keep him, nor did he mention Lu XiaoJia. It would be at least another four hours befoure Lu XiaoJia reached Bordertown. He didn't want Fu HongXue to become anxious all the way until sunset.

He originally came to warn Fu HongXue of Lu XiaoJia, but now he was here for the coffins. They were originally brand new and shiny, but after being dragged from one place to another, they had lost their luster. A couple of them had even been scorched by the flames.

If it hadn't suddenly struck Zhao Da to have the coffins moved, they might've all been burned to a crisp the night before. Or, perhaps, that was the intention of whoever set the fire all along.

Ye Kai scooped up a handful of pebbles and started throwing them one by one at each of the coffins. As the pebbles hit each coffin, they resonated with a *PU*. These were obviously empty.

But when he threw a pebble at the eighth coffin, the sound that he heard was different. The coffin didn't seem to be empty - what could possibly be inside?

Most of the coffins were empty, but surprisingly there were quite a few coffins that weren't empty either. A strange look came over Ye Kai's face, he walked over and moved a few of the coffins.

Why was he suddenly so interested in these coffins?

He opened one of them, it really wasn't empty. There was a corpse inside of the coffin.

What else would be inside a coffin except a corpse? There should be nothing strange about finding a corpse inside a coffin.

But this corpse was strange, because it was the corpse of someone who Ye Kai had just been speaking to just a little while earlier. This corpse was Boss Zhang.

His body lay quietly in the coffin, missing was the greasy apron that he always had on. This boss who had slaved away half of his life had finally been laid to rest.

But Ye Kai had just seen him in town, that greasy apron was still hanging in front of his body. How did he end up in this coffin?

The stranger thing is that Chen DaGuan, Ding LaoSi, Boss Song, and several others who own shops on that street were also inside of the coffins. They had just been in town, how did they all suddenly end up inside of these coffins?

When did they die?

He felt their chests which were all cold and stiff. They had to have been dead for at least twenty hours. But if that was so, then who were those people that Ye Kai had been talking to back in town?

As Ye Kai stared at those bodies, there was not a trace of fright or surprise on his face. In fact, he was smiling, as if very satisfied with himself. Could it be that this was exactly what he had expected?

If there are corpses, of course there has to be a cause of death.

Ye Kai looked over their wounds very carefully for quite some time. Then, he suddenly dragged all of the dead bodies out and hid them among the bushes behind the temple. Afterwards, he moved the coffins back to where they originally were.

But Ye Kai didn't dare to leave just yet. He leapt up to the roof of the temple and decided to wait.

Who was he waiting for?

He didn't have to wait along. Shortly after, a rider on horseback sped towards the temple from the grasslands. The rider was adorned with exquisite garments, the hump on his back stood tall. It was the 'Golden-Backed Dragon' Ding Qiu.

Ding Qiu did not see him as he stopped abruptly in front of the temple and dismounted from his steed. The coffins still lay in the courtyard as if totally undisturbed.

Ding Qiu glanced around him in all directions but not a person was in sight. It was the most opportune moment to start a fire, so he proceeded to do just that. Setting fires was a skill in itself, but he was quite accomplished at this. Once the fire ignited, it spread very quickly.

The person who brought these coffins here was him, and the person who was trying to burn them was him as well. Why would he spend so much effort transporting these coffins here just to set them on fire?

________________________________________

The sun was already high in the sky, it would be still quite a while before it set.

Ye Kai decided to return to town. He didn't really have a choice, it felt like he could swallow an entire horse.

Lord Guan's temple had been ablaze for quite a while, the flames had started to die down as thick clouds of smoke enveloped everything around it.

"How did Lord Guan's temple catch on fire?"

"It must have been the work of that cripple again."

"Someone had seem him with their own eyes sleeping on the altar in that temple."

There was a crowd of people congregated in front of the blaze chatting and discussing away. Among them was actually Chen DaGuan, Ding LaoSi, and Boss Zhang. But Ye Kai didn't seem surprised at all, almost as if he was expecting to see them there.

But he didn't expect to see Ma FangLing there as well.

Ma FangLing caught sight of him and immediately a strange look came over her face as if she was debating whether to wave at him or not.

But instead, Ye Kai walked over towards her and said, "How are you?"

Ma FangLing bit down on her lips and replied, "Not well."

She wasn't wearing red at all today. Her garments were all white, and her face was pale white as well. She looked like she had become increasingly thin. Could it be from not sleeping for the past two nights?

Ye Kai winced a bit and asked, "Where's the Third Boss?"

Ma FangLing stared back and replied, "Why do you want to know?"

"I'm just asking."

"Your concern isn't needed."

Ye Kai let out a sigh, then replied with a smile, "Fine, then I won't ask."

Ma FangLing was still staring right at him as she asked, "I want to know something as well, where are you coming from?"

Ye Kai smiled and said, "Since you won't answer me, then why should I answer you?"

"To make me happy."

"I would really like to tell you, but some things that a man does, a woman shouldn't need to know."

Ma FangLing clenched her teeth and said bitterly, "So you were doing something that shouldn't see the light of day."

"At least I wasn't setting fires."

"Then who was?"

"Why don't you take a guess?"

"Have you seen the one surnamed Fu?"

"Of course I have."

"When?"

"I think it was yesterday."

Ma FangLing glared back at him, then stamped her foot on the ground violently as her pale face flushed red.

Chen DaGuan thought to himself for awhile, then asked, "Do you think he will go to look for the Third Boss?"

"He won't be able to find him." Ma FangLing said.

"Why?" Chen DaGuan said.

"Because I don't even know where he is." Ma FangLing replied.

Why did the Third Boss suddenly disappear? Where did he go off to?

Someone was just about to ask but the thundering sound of hooves suddenly interrupted his words. A crow-black horse with silky smooth and glistening skin raced towards them from outside the town. On top of the horse was a man with a strong muscular build, he was completely bald and wore garments of black lined with gold thread. His hands weren't holding on to the reins of his horse but rather hoisted up a giant pole.

On top of that pole that was actually a person.

A person dressed in red, with his hands behind his back, standing atop the lofty flagpole. The horse was racing along quite quickly, but that person managed to stay completely steady where he stood, probably even more steady than if he was standing on solid ground.

All it took for Ye Kai was a single glance to realize who it was. He let out a sigh and said, "He's extremely early."

As the black horse sped through the streets, everyone couldn't help but look up and stare with amazement and joy. Everyone had figured who this person was already.

Suddenly, the black horse let out a neigh and stopped in its tracks.

The man in red still had his hands folded behind his back as he stood motionless atop the pole.

"Have we arrived?"

"Yes." The bald man hastily replied.

"Have people come to greet us?"

"Quite a few."

"What kind of people?"

"They appear to be people from the village."

The man in red nodded his head, "The weather is quite nice today, it is a perfect day to kill."

Ye Kai let out a laugh and said, "It's a pity that you'll only be able to kill a few birds up there."

The man in red immediately looked down and stared at him.

From below, one could tell that he was an extremely handsome young man with an extremely bright pair of eyes.

Perched up high above, he glared at Ye Kai and asked sharply, "What you just said before, who were you talking to?"

"You." Ye Kai replied.

"Do you know who I am?" the man in red asked.

"Could you be the one who kills without blinking, Lu XiaoJia?"

"At least you have good eyes." the man in red replied with a cold laugh.

"I'm flattered."

"And who are you?"

"My surname is Ye."

"The person that they have invited me here to dispatch, is it you?"

"I don't think so."

The man in red let out a sigh, then said coldly, "What a pity."

Ye Kai let out a sigh as well and replied, "It really is a pity."

"You think it's a pity as well?"

"A little bit."

"After I've killed that person, how about I come back to kill you next?"

"Excellent!" Ye Kai replied, looking extremely delighted.

The man in red lifted his head arrogantly and scoffed, "Whoever said that he is a real man is seriously blind."

"Yes, probably blind." the bald man said.

"Is there someone surnamed Chen here?" the man in red asked.

Chen DaGuan stepped forward and said, "It is I."

"Where is the person that you have invited me here to kill?"

Chen DaGuan smiled and said, "Hero Lu has arrived a bit earlier than we expected, that person is not here yet."

"Go find him and tell him to hurry so that I can kill him. I don't want to waste my time just waiting here." the man in red said with an annoyed expression.

From the way he talked, it would seem like dying under his hands was an honor, so the person should've been there waiting to be slaughtered.

Even Chen DaGuan wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry when he heard those words. He tried his best to hold in his smile as he asked, "Since Hero Lu has arrived, why not come down for a seat."

The man in red replied coldly, "It is much nicer up here ..."

Before he could finish his sentence, there was a loud crack as the pole that he was standing on suddenly collapsed.

The man in red extended his sleeves and waved them in a circular motion, he appeared like a red bat as he slowly hovered to the ground.

Everyone had their eyes fixed on him. Ma FangLing suddenly started to clap her hands and exclaimed, "Excellent lightness kungfu!"

As soon as those words left her mouth, the man in red drifted right in front of her and stared straight into her eyes and asked, "And who might you be?"

His eyes were black and bright. Ma FangLing's face was already quite red as she lowered her head and replied, "My ... my surname is Ma."

Another loud crash rang out as the rest of the broken flagpole collapsed onto one of the roofs and was about to strike several people over the head. The bald man suddenly rushed over and struck the pieces of the flagpole with his head, sending them flying over fifty feet past the roof of the houses.

Ma FangLing couldn't help but giggle and comment, "That person has a really hard head."

"I hope your head is just as hard as his." the man in red said.

Ma FangLing blinked and asked surprisedly, "Why is that?"

The man in red's expression sunk as he replied, "How did the flagpole suddenly break? Don't tell me it was a ghost. As soon as I saw you I knew you were up to no good."

Ma FangLing's face flushed red, this time with anger. Her horsewhip was in her hands, she suddenly lashed it towards the man in red.

The man in red simply reached out and grabbed the tip of the whip in his hands and laughed coldly, "How bold, you have quite a lot of guts, you dare to strike at me?"

He tugged his hands backwards and Ma FangLing lost all control and fell towards him. She wanted to slap him across the face but as soon as her hand shot out, he grabbed hold of it as well.

Even Ma FangLing's neck was red at this point. She bit down on her teeth and yelped, "Let ... let go of me!"

"No."

"What do you want?"

"Get down on your knees and kowtow three times, then crawl around twice in a circle and I'll let you go."

"Forget it!" Ma FangLing screamed out.

"Then you can forget about me letting you go."

Ma FangLing bit down on her lips and stamped her feet, "The one surnamed Ye, are you dead?"

Ye Kai let out a sigh and said, "There is someone dead here, but it's not me."

"If it's not you, then who is it?"

Ye Kai smiled and lifted his head. He looked over at the roof across from where they stood and said, "You were obviously the one who broke that pole, why are you having someone else take the blame?"

Everyone couldn't help but look over at the roof as well, but not a person was in sight.

But suddenly, there was something that did shoot out from behind the roof and onto the ground. It was an empty peanut shell.

Half a minute later, something else was flung from behind the roof. This time, it was a dried up round piece of leather.

The look on the man in red's face changed. He clenched his teeth and said, "It looks like that ghost has followed us here as well."

The bald man nodded his head, he suddenly let out a shout. He leapt about seven feet into the air, twirling the half broken flagpole over his head before slamming it down towards the roof. The only sound that could be heard was the whistling wind of the pole, the entire house looked like it was about to collapse.

Suddenly, a green figure flew out from behind the roof and in a flash, another section of the pole was cut off. The only thing that the bald man struck was empty air. He had so much momentum that he couldn't help but fall to the ground with a thud.

The section of pole that was cut off flew into the air again as another flash of green darted out from above the roof. The pole had been cut into seven or right pieces which all fell to the ground.

Everyone's eyes looked dumbfounded.

Ye Kai let out a sigh and said, "What an incredibly swift sword. It really lives up to its name."

The man in red stamped his feet quite forcefully and shouted, "Since you're here, why don't you come out?"

A voice from behind the roof replied, "It's much nicer up here."

The man in red shot forward and shouted, "Why must you always interfere with me?"

"Why must you always interfere with everyone else?" the voice replied.

"Who am I interfering with?" the man in red asked.

"You knew that the girl didn't break that pole, why are you trying to cause her trouble?"

"Because I feel like it."

Ye Kai let out a laugh. Ma FangLing was already quite unreasonable to begin with. Who knew that there was someone even more unreasonable than she was?

"Because she annoys me, what business of that is yours? Why are you taking her side for? When other people cause me trouble, why don't you take my side as well?" the man in red shouted back.

"Who are you?" the voice asked.

"I ... I ..."

"The one who kills without blinking, Lu XiaoJia. When has anyone else ever caused you trouble?"

The man in red lowered his head and said, "Who said I was Lu XiaoJia?"

"Didn't you say it yourself?" the voice behind the roof replied.

"It was that person who said it, not me." the man in red said, pointing at Ye Kai.

"If you're not Lu XiaoJia, then who is?" the voice asked.

"You are." the man in red replied.

"If I am Lu XiaoJia, then why are you pretending to be me?" the voice said.

The man in red raised his voice again and said, "Because I am fond of you, I wanted to lure you out."

As soon as he said those words, a look of surprise shot across the crowd. They all stared at him with their eyes wide open.

"What are you all looking at? Why can't I be fond of him?" the man in red said.

He suddenly pulled off the red piece of cloth on his head and screamed, "Are all of you blind? Can't you tell that I'm a woman?"

She really was a woman!

"I've let go of her already, why don't you come down now?"

There was no response from behind the roof.

"Why aren't you saying anything? Did you suddenly become mute?"

There was still no response. The woman in red bit down on her lips, she suddenly leapt forward and onto the roof.

Was there someone behind the roof? There was no one there but there was a pile of empty peanut shells.

Her face changed colors as she shouted, "Little Lu, where the hell did you die off to? Come out already!"

No one came out.

She stamped her feet and cried out, "Let's see how long you can hide! Even if you ran to the edges of the world, I will find you!"

Her red figure flashed by and then she was gone. The bald man suddenly got up, leapt onto his horse, and rode off as well.

Chen DaGuan looked startled, he finally let out a laugh and mumbled, "That woman has quite a lot of problems."

Ma FangLing looked startled as well as she gathered herself and remarked, "But I admire her."

"You admire her?" Chen DaGuan asked with a look of surprise.

Ma FangLing lowered her head and said, "She isn't afraid to admit to the person she likes that she likes him. She at least is much braver than I am."

A gust of wind blew by. It blew down all the peanut shells that were on the roof, yet couldn't quite clear the anxiety out of Ma FangLing's heart. Her eyes were fixed in the distance, yet she couldn't help but occasionally glance over towards Ye Kai.

Ye Kai was staring at the peanut shells in the wind, as if there was not a better sight in the entire world to behold.

For whatever reason, Ma FangLing's face flushed red again. She stamped lightly and whistled and her rouge red horse raced towards her from the distance.

She suddenly leapt up and gathered all the peanut shells that hadn't fallen from the roof, then sprinkled them down in front of Ye Kai.

"Since you like them so much, then have them all."

By the time the peanut shells fell to the floor, person and horse were long gone.

Chen DaGuan smirked and said, "Actually, not saying some things out loud is probably no different than saying them out loud. Wouldn't you agree, Master Ye?"

"It's better that they stay unsaid." Ye Kai replied.

"Why is that?"

"Because people who talk too much are loathsome."

Chen DaGuan smiled, of course it was a very fake smile.

Ye Kai walked past him and pushed the narrow doors open, "Not speaking is fine, but not eating is just unbearable. How come some people can't comprehend such a simple thing?"

Suddenly, a voice replied, "As long as there are peanuts, not eating is fine."

That person was sitting inside the main hall with his back to the door. A large pile of peanuts lay on the table in front of him. He cracked open one of the peanuts, tossed it into the air, and caught it with his mouth. He tossed it extremely high and caught it extremely accurately.

Ye Kai smiled and asked, "You've never dropped one before?"

That person replied without turning around, "That isn't possible."

"Why?"

"My hands are very steady and my mouth is very steady."

"That is why others ask you to kill for them."

Killing really did require steady hands and a steady mouth.

"It's a pity that they didn't ask me to kill you."

"After you've killed who you're supposed to kill, why don't you come back to kill me as well?"

"Excellent!"

Ye Kai started to laugh. That person suddenly started to laugh as well. Chen DaGuan who had just walked in had on a look of fright.

Ye Kai walked over, sat down, and grabbed a peanut with his hands. That person's smile suddenly disappeared.

He was a youngster, a strange youngster, with a strange pair of eyes. Even when he laughed, his eyes were as cold as ice. They were the eyes of a dead person, completely emotionless and completely expressionless.

He stared at the peanut in Ye Kai's hand and said, "Let it go."

"I can't have this peanut?" Ye Kai asked.

"You can ask me to kill you, or you can kill me yourself, but you can't have that peanut." the man replied coldly.

"Why?"

"Because Lu XiaoJia said so."

"Who is Lu XiaoJia?"

"I am."

His eyes were a deathly ash gray, yet still as bright as the glimmer on a sabre's blade.

Ye Kai examined the peanut in his hand, then exclaimed, "It appears that this is just an ordinary peanut."

"Yes."

"No different than any other peanut in this world."

"None at all."

"Then why would I want to eat it for?"

Ye Kai smiled and slowly placed the peanut back on the table. Lu XiaoJia smiled as well, but his eyes were still freezing cold.

"You must be Ye Kai."

"Oh?"

"Besides Ye Kai, there is not another person I could think of who would be like you."

"Is that a compliment?"

"Slightly."

Ye Kai let out a sigh, then smiled and said, "Too bad that not even ten catties of compliments are worth one peanut."

Lu XiaoJia gazed at him, after quite a while, he slowly asked, "You never carry a blade?"

"At least, no one has ever seen me carry a blade."

"Why?"

"Take a guess."

"Is it because you never kill? Or maybe because you don't require a blade to kill?"

Ye Kai started to laugh, but there was not a single trace of laughter in his eyes ...

His eyes were fixed on Lu XiaoJia's sword. An extremely thin sword, razor thin yet razor sharp as well.

A sword without a sheathe.

This sword stuck out at a slant from the belt on his waist.

"You don't use a sheathe?"

"At least, no one has ever seen me use a sheathe."

"Why?"

"Take a guess."

"Is it because you don't fancy sheathes? Or maybe because that sword simply doesn't have a sheathe?"

"When any sword is refined, there is no sheathe."

"Oh?"

"Sheathes are put on afterwards."

"Why isn't there a sheathe on your sword then?"

"It is the sword that does the killing, not the sheathe."

"Of course."

"The sword is what is feared, not the sheathe."

"Makes sense."

"So the sheathe is superfluous."

"You're the kind who doesn't like to be superfluous?"

"I only kill superfluous people!"

"Superfluous people?"

"Some people in this world, their existence is superfluous."

Ye Kai smiled, "Your reasoning is really amusing."

"So you're saying that you agree?"

"I know of two people who never carried sheathes, but their reasons were never as amusing as yours." Ye Kai said with a smile.

"Perhaps it was because you couldn't understand what they were trying to say."

"Or perhaps they didn't want to say anything in the first place."

"Oh?"

"They were not men of many words. As long as they understood their own beliefs, there was no need for them to explain it to anyone else."

Lu XiaoJia stared at him and asked, "You really know what kind of people they are?"

Ye Kai nodded his head.

"Then you know too much." Lu XiaoJia replied coldly.

"But I don't know what kind of person you are."

"It's for the better that you don't, or else the first person to die here won't be Fu HongXue, but you."

"And now?"

"Now, I don't feel the need to kill you yet."

Ye Kai smiled and replied, "Because you don't need to kill me yet, doesn't mean that you can kill him either."

Lu XiaoJia smiled coldly.

"You've seen his technique?" Ye Kai asked.

"No."

"Since you haven't, then how can you be so certain."

"But I do know that he is a cripple."

"There are many kinds of cripples."

"But the technique of a cripple, there is only one kind."

"What kind is that?"

"To remain still and motionless, to subdue only upon reaction. The essence of his technique lies in the fact that he has to be faster than his opponent."

Ye Kai nodded his head, "That's why he can make his move later, but strike earlier."

Lu XiaoJia suddenly picked up a peanut and tossed it into the air. In a flash, his sword shot out. Before the eye could even follow its movements, it had returned to his waist. And in his hand was a cleanly peeled peanut, skin and shell removed. Even peeling a peanut by hand couldn't get it so clean. The peanut shell was in pieces.

A loud uproar of amazement and applause echoed in from the door. Even Ye Kai couldn't help but applaud in his mind.

An incredibly swift sword!

Lu XiaoJia placed the peeled peanut in his mouth and asked, "Do you think he is faster than me?"

Ye Kai fell into thought, then let out a sigh and replied, "I don't know ... it's better that I don't know."

"What a pity for these peanuts."

"You're the one who's eating them."

"Peanuts have to be peeled one by one, in order to be savored one by one."

"I think I prefer peanuts that are peeled as well."

"It's a pity you won't be able to."

With a wave of his hand, all the peanuts flew out in a straight line, embedding themselves like nails into a pillar.

"You would rather let your peanuts go to waste than let another person taste them?"

"I am the same with my women, I would rather kill them than let another person taste them."

"So whatever it is that you enjoy, you will never let another person have?"

"Exactly."

Ye Kai let out a sigh and remarked, "It's a good thing that you are only fond of peanuts and women."

"I'm fond of money as well."

"Oh?"

"Because without money, there are no peanuts, and there are definitely no women."

"Yes, although there are many things in this world that are more important than money, these things can only be obtained when you have money."

Lu XiaoJia let out a smile. His smile was grim and strange.

"You've talked for half a day yet that's the first thing that resembles something that Ye Kai would say."

- END CHAPTER 21 -