LXF02-10 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 August 2008 22:07

Chapter 10 - The Fall of the Bandit



Incredibly, the person standing by the door was none other than Lu Xiao Feng, not Three Eggs Lu, not Little Pig Lu, but Lu Xiao Feng. How could he suddenly appear out of thin air? Jin Jiu Ling almost did not believe his own very eyes, this was just quite simply, impossible.

So much so that Jin Jiu Ling asked a really stupid question.

“You should be at least 400 kilometers away now!”

“Apparently so!” Lu Xiao Feng replied.

“I had just received this message from Nan Hai!” Jin Jiu Ling looked down at the bamboo container in his hand.

“I know.”

“You knew?”

“That pigeon was indeed trained by you, and it was you who gave it to Meng Wei. The brand and the paper that the letter was written on are all real. But this time the pigeon wasn’t released by Meng Wei!”

Jin Jiu Ling did not understand.

“Did the letter say: ‘Lu has passed here, heading west’?”

“How... how did you know?”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“Of course I would know, I wrote the letter!”

Jin Jiu Ling was even more shocked.

“You wrote it? When did you write it?”

“Two nights ago.” Lu Xiao Feng smiled and explained. “Two nights ago, I went to Meng Wei to ask him to write a message to you, telling you to meet me at the Snake King’s old headquarters. You should at least know that!”

Jin Jiu Ling nodded.

“When he was writing the message last night, I saw his handwriting. It wasn’t exactly difficult to emulate!”

Because his handwriting was indeed too awkward, it is hard to copy good handwriting, but bad handwriting looks bad one way or another.

“When he went to release a pigeon, I helped myself to one of these containers and a sheet of paper that he wrote the letters in. After he went back to bed, I went back and stole one of his pigeons too.”

Jin Jiu Ling’s face looked distinctively blue.

“That night, I gave the pigeon to a friend of mine in Nan Hai and asked him to release it today afternoon.”

He broke out into a triumphant smile and explained. “Because I knew that as soon as you see me, you would find some excuse to make me leave so you would have the chance to kill First Madame Gong Sun.”

“You knew that I would tell Meng Wei to wait and inform me about your whereabouts?” Jin Jiu Ling asked despite of himself.

“I have to go through Nan Hai to leave and Meng Wei is the Head Snake there, not to mention you have always been a very meticulous and careful man. If I wasn’t far away, how could you make your move?”

“But this place....”

“This place is indeed quite secretive and remote.” Lu Xiao Feng cut him off. “I would have had a tough time finding it myself.”

“So led you here?”

“That pigeon.”

Jin Jiu Ling was speechless again.

“In high winds, the bamboo tube would make a whistling sound. Starting at noon, I had waited on the rooftops. I knew that pigeon would have been able to find you. Luckily, my lightness kungfu isn’t too shabby!”

Jin Jiu Ling’s face went from blue to green. He looked back at First Madame Gong Sun, then at Lu Xiao Feng.

“Did you two plan this?”

“Surprised?” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“When did you start getting suspicious about me?”

“I had only really started suspecting that it was you on the day the Snake King died!”

“Why?”

“Do you recall when we found his body, the lamps weren’t lit on his pavilion?”

Jin Jiu Ling nodded but failed to see what was so significant about this point!

“If the lamps weren’t lit, then that means that the Snake King died before night fall, which would mean that he was killed before he found it necessary to light the lamps!”

Jin Jiu Ling felt his entire body turn cold. He could have never suspected that this tiny little clue was the turning point of this whole case.

“If First Madame Gong Sun really had invited him to meet in the WestPark, then why would she go over to his place and kill him before hand?” Lu Xiao Feng continued. “That’s why I knew right then and there that the person who killed the Snake King had to be someone else!”

“And you thought it could be me?”

“I wasn’t sure, but what I was pretty sure of was that the Snake King was working for you!”

“Why?”

“Because only you could control him, because when he went looking for that map of the Palace for me, it was too easy, and the map was too detailed. A streetwalker or the boss of the underworld could not be that powerful, unless he was already in cahoots with the Warden of the Palace!”

Jin Jiu Ling’s lips were ash white, his forehead was covered with cold sweat.

“The silk sash that you used to choke the Snake King to death was suppose to point towards First Madame Gong Sun, but instead it became her perfect alibi and exonerated her completely.”

“Why?”

“Because when I fought with her, I had already cut the sashes that were tied to her swords in half. Those silk sashes aren’t something you can find at a moment’s notice, and in that time frame she never had a chance to find one!”

Jin Jiu Ling had nothing to say.

“One tiny hole can cause the whole dam to collapse,” Lu Xiao Feng sighed. “Besides, there was more than just one hole in your plan!”

For the third time, Jin Jiu Ling asked: “Why?”

“Setting up those two rooms was a stroke of genius on your part, but you forgot one thing!”

“What would that be?”

“Everyone has a distinctive scent. Had those clothes really been worn by First Madame Gong Sun, they would retain a little bit of her scent.”

“Quite a lot of people have said that I am indeed a very sweet smelling woman.” First Madame Gong Sun coquettishedly added.

“You were always trying to keep Hua Man Lou out of this matter, perhaps because you were afraid that he might realize this fact. But you could not have known that I had picked that up from him!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled and continued. “Now, when I look at something, I won’t just be watching with my eyes, I would be smelling with my nose as well!”

“That why quite a lot of people have said he is like a hound!” First Madame Gong Sun joked.

“You purposefully made that message carrying wooden box and then purposefully got poisoned so as to make sure I went forth by myself, that was also another stroke of genius. But pity once again, you forgot something.”

By now, all Jin Jiu Ling could do was listen.

“Meng Wei is a rough and tumble kind of a guy through and through, he doesn’t even know Xiao Zhuan, how could he have possibly recognized those ancient writings on the box? Besides, after you were poisoned, he didn’t seem that worried, wouldn’t you say that was very odd as well?”

“On top of that, he has way too much money,” First Madame Gong Sun added. “He could actually get his hands on 100,000 taels of silver on a whim!”

“I did the math, with his pay, if he did not eat anything, drink anything, or spend a single farthing on anything, he would still have needed about 50 or 60 years to save up 100,000 taels of silver!”

“Well, you really put some work into that abacus didn’t you?” First Madame Gong Sun said with a smile.

“Even then, I was still not sure, because if Madame Xue said that the peony was done by a woman, then it must have been the work of a woman, so....”

“So what did you do?” Jin Jiu Ling finally could not control himself and asked.

“So I took out that piece of red satin and carefully inspected for a long time.”

That piece of red satin was stolen by Si Kong Zhai Xing, was brought to Still Dusk Convent by Xue Bing, placed in front of the statue, but still finally ended up in Lu Xiao Feng’s hands.

“I inspected it for a full 2 hours before I found your secret!”

“What did you find?”

“I found that the peony had one petal where the thread was not sewn as tightly as the others. It was embroidered in two layers, so if you unthreaded a layer, there would still be another layer!” He smiled and continued. “When other saw you sew this peony, you were actually unthreading it. That’s how the peony can be the work of a woman while the Embroidery Bandit turn out to be a man!”

“Anything more?”

“Just one more thing, you shouldn’t have kidnapped Xue Bing!”

“Why?” Jin Jiu Ling asked for a fourth time.

“Because I later found out that Xue Bing had recently become First Madame Gong Sun’s Eighth Sister. Even if First Madame Gong Sun was the real Embroidery Bandit, she would never do any harm to her Eighth Sister!”

“How did you know she was my Eighth Sister?” First Madame Gong Sun inquired. “Even I couldn’t figure that out!”

“Because of that hand!”

“What hand?” First Madame Gong Sun was confused.

“Sun Zhong’s hand!” Lu Xiao Feng explained. “Xue Bing chopped off Sun Zhong’s hand, but then that hand showed up in Xue Bing’s room again. That hand had obviously not crawled there all by itself, and other than the sisters of the Red Shoes, nobody would go and bring back hands that they had cut off of other people!”

“So when you saw Third Sister’s bag full of noses, you thought of that hand?”

Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

“She has only recently joined and had actually forgot that everyone of you had to bring back something every year,” he continued. “Once she remembered, she went back and got that hand. But unfortunately for her she left in such a hurry that she forgot to take it with her again!”

He sighed and continued. “When I asked her how the hand had gotten in her room, she pretended to not know what I was talking about. Because she did not want me to find out the connection between you and her!”

“But you had already figured it out!”

“It was only until I heard you say ‘Eighth Sister won’t be coming’, only then did I know that your Eighth Sister must have been her!”

“These reasons are all quite a bit of a stretch!” Jin Jiu Ling suddenly sneered.

“These reasons really are all quite a bit of a stretch, but to me, they are enough!” Lu Xiao Feng replied.

“Are they?”

“There are enough reasons, but not enough evidence.”

“That’s because you don’t have a single piece of evidence.”

“That’s why I had to make you confess all of this yourself, that’s why I had to go through with this ‘doomed to death and back’ plan!”

“Why?”

“Because I know that only when you know that your plan has succeeded, that First Madame Gong Sun was going to die for sure, only then would you tell the truth in front of her. That’s why I had to put her in a certain death situation and make you think that she was as good as dead!”

“This plan was indeed quite effective, but I was the one who had to suffer the trials.” First Madame Gong Sun commented with a pitiful smile. “I have never had to go through anything remotely like this in my life.”

“But the most crucial part of this is that we can’t let you find out about any of this, we can’t risk you suspecting us to be in cahoots!” Lu Xiao Feng continued.

“But there is someone who was your accomplice among my sisters.”

“Therefore we had to put on a little act in front of them!”

“Even now, they have no idea that I left because I wanted to, not because I had lost to you!”

Lu Xiao Feng broke out into a smile.

First Madame Gong Sun shot him a look.

“No need to smile.” She warned. “One of these days, I will get my rematch, still three rounds, to see once and for all who’s better, you or me!”

“Of course it’s you, I’m just an idiot.”

“You are indeed very stupid, even I thought so. But you still have one good trait!”

“I have a good trait?”

“Of course you do,” First Madame Gong Sun playfully replied. “Sometimes, for no reasons what so ever, you would turn smart all of the sudden!”

“I find that very puzzling myself!”Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“It’s not you that’s puzzled, but others!” First Madame Gong Sun smiled and shot a look over at Jin Jiu Ling out of the corner of her eye. “Take this man here for example, he must be feeling quite puzzled right now trying to figure out how in the world did you get smart all of the sudden!”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

Jin Jiu Ling could not help but let out a long, drawn out sigh.

“I really did underestimate you!”

“Maybe I....” Lu Xiao Feng began to reply but Jin Jiu Ling cut him off.

“I had took you as a friend all this time, I thought you were a good man. I can’t imagine that you would get in cahoots with the Embroidery Bandit and try to make me take the fall!”

Lu Xiao Feng stopped laughing as he looked at him in shock, as if he had never seen this man before.

“Pity that no matter what nasty lies you two say about me, it won’t work!” Jin Jiu Ling coldly continued with a straight face. “I entered public service at age of 13 and in 30 years of work since have never done a single unlawful thing. No matter what you accuse me of, nobody will believe you!”

“But you just confess just now!”

“What did I confess to?”

Lu Xiao Feng seemed a little choked up. Even now, he still did not have a single piece of evidence.

Of course, Jin Jiu Ling saw this as well.

“Why would I confess to being the Embroidery Bandit? Who would be stupid enough to do that? If you two tell other people that, they would laugh their teeth off!” He coldly continued. “Besides, from Yang Cheng to Nan Hai, every bounty hunter knows that First Madame Gong Sun is the Embroidery Bandit. Even if you two kill me right now, the government would still paste your likenesses to every corner of the world. You can’t get away!”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“Looks like you won another round.” He pitifully smiled.

“Good always triumphs over evil, the web of justice has no leaks, the righteous path will last forever, so it would be best for you two if you just follow me to the court and turn yourselves in.”

“Good always triumphs over evil, the righteous will last forever,” Lu Xiao Feng sighed. “Didn’t think you would actually understand these sayings.”

“Of course I do.”

“Well if you do, then you should know that no matter what kind of tricks you pull, it would all be useless!”

“I didn’t....”

This time it was Lu Xiao Feng’s turn to cut him off.

“You think that we are the only ones who heard this conversation?”

Jin Jiu Ling’s expression changed but quickly recovered.

“I’m not deaf, if there was others around here, they couldn’t have hid from me!”

“I know that your ear is very perceptive. The only reason you didn’t notice me was because you were too pleased with yourself just then. Indeed, if I really did have people within 15 meters, they would not be able to hide from you!”

Jin Jiu Ling arrogantly snickered.

“And you also know that if someone was outside of 15 meters, then there would have been impossible for them to hear what you just said.” But Lu Xiao Feng did not let Jin Jiu Ling reply before continuing. “Pity these men are different from normal people!”

“Oh?”

“These men’s ears are even sharper than yours, although you can’t hear them, they can hear you.” Lu Xiao Feng’s eyes seemed to glow as he continued, emphasizing every word. “Because they are all blind. Blind men’s ears are always much more perceptive than a normal person’s!”

Jin Jiu Ling’s expression changed again.

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“You can come out now!” He shouted.

In between his laughter, the sound of clanking roof tiles could be heard as three green shirted women, leading three blind men, jumped down from the roof top and walked in.

At first glance, all three women looked almost exactly the same. But upon careful inspection, one could tell that they were all in disguise. They were none other than the three shadows that flew out of the pavilion during the last round of Lu Xiao Feng’s match against First Madame Gong Sun. Of the three blind men they led in, one had 3 scars across his purple colored face, another had very prominent cheek bones and had a very authoritative air about him, while the last one was an old man with a sickly looking complexion dressed in fancy silk clothing. When he saw these three men, Jin Jiu Ling felt his entire body go numb. Of course he recognized these three men. He had blinded all three of them, Chang Man Tian, Jiang Chong Wei, and Hua Yi Fan.

Jiang Chong Wei’s expression was blue with rage.

“I have known you for several decades now, I never suspected you to be such a heartless bastard!”

“The web of justice has no leaks, if you really understood the meaning of that, why did you still do this?” Chang Man Tian asked.

Hua Yi Fan’s entire body was shaking in rage. He opened his mouth to say something, but could not. Looking at these men, Jin Jiu Ling involuntarily began to step back, stepping back all the way to the wall before collapsing into a chair, seemingly incapable of standing back up again.

“You probably can’t figure out how these three gentlemen could suddenly show up!” First Madame Gong Sun said.

Indeed, Jin Jiu Ling could not have even dreamt that they would.

“Within my sisters, my Fourth and Seventh sisters were the ones without any suspicion. Therefore I had already instructed them, along with my personal maid Lan-Er, to split up and invite Warden Jian, Escort Chang, and Mister Hua here as soon as possible!”

“We figured that the three of them would make it here today at the latest, so I had also arranged to meet them this morning!” Lu Xiao Feng finished.

One of the women in green was giggling: “Lu Xiao Feng went chasing after that pigeon, and I went chasing after him. Once I knew where this was, we brought them all here.”

Her laughter was pretty like a bell, she was none other than the girl in red.

“But we also knew that your eyes and ears are very sharp, so we didn’t dare risking getting close,” another woman in green continued. “What you said, we didn’t hear any of it. Fortunately, they heard every word of it!”

Her voice was sweet and gentle, she was none other than First Madame Gong Sun’s Fourth Sister, Ou Yang Qing.

Jin Jiu Ling did not move, nor say anything. Only now was he truly out of words.

“Good always triumphs over evil, the righteous will last forever,” maybe it was only now that he truly understood the meaning of those words. The girl in red and Ou Yang Qing had walked over to either side of the bed and helped First Madame Gong Sun sit up. Suddenly, both of them frowned at the same time as a few wrinkles appeared on the ridges of their noses.

Amazingly, First Madame Gong Sun blushed. She quietly whispered something into their ears. Both of them started to laugh. The girl in red could not help but once again double over in laughter, she was laughing so hard that she was almost out of breath. Indeed, they had the right to laugh, and the reason to laugh. Only those who have a clear self-conscious could laugh, only those who have no guilt in their heart could be so carefree. The one who could not laugh right now was Jin Jiu Ling.

“I know not only do you know how to sew flowers, you can sew blind men, two pricks and there’s one blind men.” Chang Man Tian viciously declared. “But what can you sew now?”

“Even if you can sew a pair of wings for yourself, you won’t be able to get out of the web of the law!” Jiang Chong Wei warned.

“The only thing that he should sew right now, is an especially huge coffin so that both Meng Wei and Lu Shao Hua can accompany him in it.” The girl in red joked in between her laughter.

“I still have to remind you one thing,” Lu Xiao Feng added. “It’s probably best for you not to wait for the two of them to come here with your disciples in an effort to save you!”

Jin Jiu Ling did not move, nor did he speak.

“Right now, Meng Wei is still in Nan Hai waiting to inform you of my whereabouts.” Lu Xiao Feng explained. “But Lu Shao Hua has fallen ill, gravely ill!”

“Rumors say that his caught a very strange illness indeed!” The girl in red laughed and said. “That pair of greedy, always asking other people for money, hands of his have suddenly vanished!”

Jin Jiu Ling finally let out a long sigh.

“One wrong move, and the whole game is lost.” He said. “Didn’t think that I, Jin Jiu Ling, would have a today!”

Jiang Chong Wei sighed as well.

“Actually, I knew you would eventually end up like his. You love to spend too much, loved to enjoy life too much!”

“Others think that you don’t have to spend money on woman, but only I know that to a woman like me, there is only money and nothing else.” Ou Yang Qing declared. “Even if you are the reincarnation of Fan An or Song Yu, you still have to have money to get in the door.”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed despite of himself. He knew that she was telling the truth firsthand.

“But you are an exception,” Ou Yang Qing shot him a mean look before playfully declaring. “You are the only exception in this world!”

“Oh?”

“Because you are not a man, you are nothing but a four eye browed bastard!” Ou Yang Qing’s expression dropped as she coldly explained.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed. One truly cannot cross a woman like Ou Yang Qing. If you just cross her once, she will remember it for the rest of her life.

“I only have one last thing to ask you!” First Madame Gong Sun suddenly interrupted.

“Ask me?” Jin Jiu Ling turned towards her.

First Madame Gong Sun nodded.

“You better tell me now, where is Xue Bing?”

Jin Jiu Ling suddenly let out a little laugh, but did not answer.

“Are you planning on using her to threaten us?” First Madame Gong Sun was getting angry. “Don’t you know what my methods are?”

Jin Jiu Ling ignored her and instead turned to Lu Xiao Feng.

“The Master of White Cloud Castle’s sword skill are second to none, yet he could not stop praising you, calling you a genius of martial arts of a level that he had never encountered before in his life.”

As he slowly spoke, Lu Xiao Feng quietly listened, knowing that he was getting somewhere.

“First Madame Gong Sun, with all her disguises, changes, and tricks, with her best in the world sword and sash skills, still lost to you!”

“Stop kissing up to him, it won’t work anymore!” First Madame Gong Sun coldly snickered.

But Jin Jiu Ling continued to ignore her and kept his stare on Lu Xiao Feng.

“My elder martial brother Bitter Gourd had always not cared much for anyone in the world, yet he treat you differently. Because he believes the clamp of your two fingers is a skill that will never be matched.”

Lu Xiao Feng quietly sighed. He suddenly thought about how bad Master Gourd would feel when he finds out his only martial brother ending up like this.

“Huo Xiu, Huo Tian Qing, Yan Tie Shan, they are all the master among masters in the world, yet they all lost in your hands. It’s quite obvious if you are not the best martial art master in the world, you are not that far off.” Jin Jiu Ling sighed again before continuing. “But I’m nothing more than a mere bounty hunter within the Six Doors. A person like me is not worth a farthing in the eyes of those masters of the martial world!”

“What are you trying to say?” Lu Xiao Feng finally asked.

“I only want to just have a duel with a martial arts master such as yourself, to see who is really better!” Jin Jiu Ling plainly answered.

“For all intensive purposes, you are a captured criminal,” First Madame Gong Sun replied with a sneer. “What gives you the right to negotiate a duel?”

Jin Jiu Ling did not even look in her direction.

“If I lose, not only would I willingly turn myself in, I would immediately tell you where Xue Bing is!”

Lu Xiao Feng’s eyes flickered, he was clearly tempted by the offer.

“But what if you lose?” Jin Jiu Ling inquired.

“What do you propose?”

“If you lose, I won’t ask you to let me go!”

“Even if he lets you go, I won’t!” First Madame Gong Sun viciously protested.

But Jin Jiu Ling did not seem to even hear her.

“If you, by some chance, lose to me, I only request one thing.”

“Do tell!”

“I only request that you would protect my reputation and not let this leak out. I think on my elder martial brother’s behalf, that wouldn’t be too hard on you!”

Lu Xiao Feng did not answer immediately. Instead he slowly walked over to the window and pushed it open. The setting suns’ rays colored the sky, it was already dusk.

“Don’t fall for his tricks,” Chang Man Tian suddenly warned. “This person is cunning like a fox, he must have another trick up his sleeve!”

“The level of his kungfu was much higher than what I thought was possible.” Jiang Chong Wei commented.

“I have been making a living in the martial world ever since I was a kid, have fought in hundreds and thousands of fights, suffered scores of injuries.” Chang Man Tian stated. “My kungfu might not be strong, but I have more than enough experience. But even I could not tell just how good his skills are, I couldn’t even last one move against him!”

Hua Yi Fan suddenly sighed too.

“Indeed, this man’s kungfu skill is almost beyond measure. In the past I have sparred again the Wooden Taoist and the Ancient Pine Hermit. But from what I have seen, his skill is higher than either one of them!”

Lu Xiao Feng did not seem to hear a word they said. In the dusk covered sky, a row of wild geese were flying past for the Winter.

“It was just the dead of summer, in a blink of an eye it’s turned into Autumn.” Lu Xiao Feng mumbled to himself. “Time passes so quickly... so quickly....”

Jin Jiu Ling sighed as well.

“Time is like the water in the river, once it’s gone it’s never coming back. Thinking back to when we first met, it has been almost 10 years now, but how many decades are there in life?”

“First Madame Gong Sun hasn’t fully recovered. Because we were afraid that you might see through our scheme, the drug she took was real!”

“I know it’s not fake!”

“At this moment, she probably only has half of her strength and fighting ability back. Add on top of that her Fourth and Seventh Sister and me, there would be no way in the world you could get away, no matter how powerful you are!”

“I know!”

“But if I do indeed duel against you and lose to you, even if I survive, I would surely be injured!” Lu Xiao Feng sighed. “Besides, you know full well how I would act if I really did agree to a duel against you. If I lose, I would not attack you again no matter what!”

“I have always knew that even though you are not a gentleman, you are still a real man!”

“That’s why if I lost, they might not be able to stop you. If you can escape out of here today, there is a very good chance you would never be caught and get away with this!”

“Well if you know what he intends to do, then why are you talking all this bullshit to him? Are you really an idiot?” Ou Yang Qing had to cut in.

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly let out a little laugh.

“I’m not talking bullshit!”

“Then what is it?” Ou Yang Qing sneered.

“I’m merely telling him that since I can’t afford to lose to him, then if I do agree to a duel, it means that I am sure of winning!”

“You are prepared to agree to the duel?” Ou Yang Qing’s expression changed dramatically.

“Well if I’m not going to agree to a duel, then doesn’t all of what I just said become bullshit?” Lu Xiao Feng nonchalantly replied.

Jin Jiu Ling shot up from his chair.

“Excellent! Lu Xiao Feng indeed is Lu Xiao Feng!”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“And again, I hear that sentence!”

“Where do you propose to fight this duel?” Jin Jiu Ling inquired.

“Here!”

“Here? Inside the room?”

“No place like this place, I don’t want to give you an extra opportunity to escape!”

Jin Jiu Ling threw his head back and let out a hearty laughter.

“Excellent, excellent indeed!”

He had suddenly regained his energy, it was almost as if he had changed completely into another person.

“What are you going to use for a weapon?” Lu Xiao Feng asked.

“Obviously something you can’t clamp those fingers of yours down on!” Jin Jiu Ling joked.

“You have already made preparations?”

“I had always had this hunch, it’s as if I knew that I would one day exchange blows against you!”

In the corner of the room was a closet, Jin Jiu Ling walked over and opened it. Incredibly, inside the closet was a spear, a sabre, two swords, a pair of hooks, a pair of halbreds, a whip, an ax, a spear with a hook on the side, and one very peculiar somewhat whip like, somewhat club like iron flail. This closet was obviously weapon storage.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“Looks like you really are prepared for anything at anytime, anywhere!”

“I’m a very careful man, I never do anything I’m not sure of!” Jin Jiu Ling smiled.

“You don’t fight duels you are not sure you can win?”

“I have yet to lose once to anyone in all my life!” Jin Jiu Ling nonchalantly replied. This was not a lie.

“But I also know for a fact that you have yet to lose to anyone in all your life as well!” Jin Jiu Ling stated as he stared at Lu Xiao Feng.

“There is a first time for everything!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“Good one!” Jin Jiu Ling agreed as he reached out and grabbed his weapon of choice, he chose the heavy flail that weighed at least 70 kilograms.

First Madame Gong Sun’s expression changed dramatically.

“All of you get out, wait outside and guard the door and windows!” She gravely commanded.

“All of you” includes her sisters as well as Chang Man Tian, Jiang Chong Wei, and Hua Yi Fan. She knew what kind of power the flail had. This room might not be small, but it was far from being large. Once this weapon is put in use, anybody or anything in the room could be smashed to bits at any moment!

Even Lu Xiao Feng was slightly shocked. This man’s weapon was supposed to be a feather light sewing needle, yet now it suddenly became this almost 100 kilogram flail. Could his kungfu really have reached such a place that he could wield both heavy and light weapons with equal ease?

“What are you going to use for your weapon?” Jin Jiu Ling was already asking.

Lu Xiao Feng quitely thought about it for a bit. He suddenly noticed that in the corner of the closet was a pouch of sewing needles. So he chose a single solitary sewing needle!

Jin Jiu Ling burst out laughing.

“Great stuff! I’m using this giant iron flail, you are using that sewing needle. If anyone else saw this, they would surely think that you are the Embroidery Bandit!”

“I might not be the Embroidery Bandit, but I still know how to sew!” Lu Xiao Feng casually replied.

“But can you sew blind men?” Jin Jiu Ling’s eyes flickered.

“No!” Lu Xiao Feng’s eyes began to glow like the sword blades as he slowly emphasized every word. “Only dead men!”

First Madame Gong Sun did not leave the room. Instead she stood silently in the corner of the room. Her face displayed no emotions, but inside she was racked with worry. This room is too small and Jin Jiu Ling’s weapon of choice packed too much power. Once he begin his attacks, Lu Xiao Feng might not even have a place to dodge!

The flail was about 1 and 1/2 meters in length, the sewing needle was only about 3 centimeters long. The weapons they picked could not be anymore different, one was overtly reliant on power, the other overtly reliant on speed, one was extremely heavy, the other extremely light, softness could nullify hardness, but speed might not defeat power, and lightness could not possibly hope to counter heaviness! Judging strictly on weapons, Lu Xiao Feng was obviously at a disadvantage.

“Could you please leave the room as well?” Jin Jiu Ling suddenly requested.

“Are you afraid that I might ambush you from behind?” First Madame Gong Sun sneered.

“I know you are not the kind of person who would do that,” Jin Jiu Ling smiled. “But having you in the room is still a threat to me!”

First Madame Gong Sun hesitated and looked over at Lu Xiao Feng at the corner of her eye.

“You can see us fighting outside just as well!” Lu Xiao Feng matter of factly told her.

First Madame Gong Sun sighed and finally left the room, but not before she turned around and shouted: “I am about 80% recovered, even if you lose, he still won’t get away!”

Lu Xiao Feng let out a little laugh.

“Don’t worry, I don’t plan on letting him get away!”

Jin Jiu Ling smiled.

“This room is the death ground, I’m thinking about doing this ‘doomed to death and back’ thing as well!”

Before he even finished talking, the flail in his hand began to move!

The actual weight of the flail was 87 kilograms. In his hands, a flail weighing 87 kilograms seemed light as a feather. The moves that he was using were quick, nimble, and fast, just like how one would use a sewing needle. Just this first move contained within it 6 or 7 different variations, yet it did not create any sound as it swished through the air. Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

Only now did he know that Jin Jiu Ling was a person who did not reveal himself to anyone and that his martial arts skill was truly beyond measure. Only now did he believe that the Wooden Taoist, Ancient Pine Hermit, Master Bitter Gourd, and the rest of them indeed were not a match for him. His mind turned fast, his movements were even faster. He took a quick and gentle step back and stabbed out the needle with his palm facing down.

“Pshhhhh”! The point of the needle pierced through the air like an arrow shot out of a bow!

The needle might be light as a feather, but in his hands, it seemed to weigh a ton. His moves were hard, fierce, and pressing, just as if he was the one using the flail. In a blink of an eye the two men exchanged over 10 moves each. The heavy and powerful weapon was used with fast and nimble moves instead! The light and weak weapon was used with hard and pressing moves instead!

The spectacle of this battle was not something that could be described by anyone. The faces of Jiang Chong, Chang Man Tian, and Hua Yi Fan were all covered with the expression of shock. Even though they could not see, they could still hear it.

There was only the sound of the needle piercing through the air coming from the room, but not a sound of the large flail could be heard. Even though they were all experienced mastered, none of them could imagine how this could be. All that could be heard was the constant “psss, psshhh” of the sewing needle piercing through the air faster and faster but also constantly moving, on the left side one moment, on the right another, much faster than anything any fly could hope to achieve, nevermind any normal human.

Hua Yi Fan sighed.

“No wonder the Wooden Taoist always talks about how Lu Xiao Feng is a rare genius only comes along once several generations. It is not an exaggeration!”

“But Jin Jiu Ling is even more frightening!” Chang Man Tian replied with a grave expression.

“Oh?”

“Lu Xiao Feng’s movements are this fast, attacks are this pressing, and yet Jin Jiu Ling’s huge flail could not be heard at all despite being put into full use against him. Isn’t that even more unimaginable?”

He knew Jin Jiu Ling was using the flail because he had asked Ou Yang Qing earlier. His experience in combat was something that the privileged and respected Hua Yi Fan could not hope to match, hence his analysis was much more accurate than Hua Yi Fan’s.

Hua Yi Fan thought in silence for a long time before slowly replying: “I have long heard that Escort Chang’s experience in combat and fighting was something that few could match. Seems like this is also not an exaggeration either!”

“Woom!” As soon as he had finished his sentence, a sudden gust of wind picked up like a dragon shooting out of a cloud.

“Jin Jiu Ling has changed his tactics!” Chang Man Tian’s expression changed dramatically.

Jin Jiu Ling’s moves and techniques did indeed change, it changed into a fast and furious, hard and pressing, yield for nothing style! The room was suddenly and completely covered in the wind of the flail, leaving almost no place of refuge for any human to stand.

Jiang Chong Wei’s expression changed as well.

“Could he have been testing Lu Xiao Feng all that time and is only now employing his full power?” He inquired.

“But Lu Xiao Feng is not holding back anymore either!” Chang Man Tian observed.

“Why do you say that?” Jiang Chong Wei asked.

“He’s wielding his flail with such power and speed, if it was someone else, he would have surely been forced out of the room by now. But we don’t hear anything from Lu Xiao Feng, obviously he could still manage and is waiting for his chance to strike!”

Ou Yang Qing was looking at him with a look of pure admiration. This blind man was seeing things even more accurately than anybody else could see with their own eyes! Lu Xiao Feng was indeed still able to manage. His entire body have seemed to have turned into something entirely formless and shapeless, as if he could turn and flex in any direction at will. No matter how Jin Jiu Ling’s flail attacked him, he would always dodge out of the way as if it was nothing.

There were instances where the flail had obviously cornered him into a losing situation, yet with a suddenly twist of his body, he would dissipate all the danger. First Madame Gong Sun’s face was full of worry at the beginning, but now she could finally breath a sigh of relief.

Chang Man Tian suddenly sighed.

“I had thought that Lu Xiao Feng was not a match at the beginning, but now Jin Jiu Ling has no chance to win!”

“Why do you say that?” Jiang Chong Wei asked again.

“Jin Jiu Ling is now using his hard and powerful moves, but power must diminish, hard can’t last forever, the rate at which he is tiring must be much faster than that of Lu Xiao Feng’s!” His face was aglow as he slowly continued. “When he could no longer control the flail as he wishes, he would begin smashing up the room. That would signify that his strength is almost all gone. That’s when Lu Xiao Feng can begin his counter-attack!”

At this moment, a crashing sound could be heard coming from within the room, followed in quick succession with another serious of other objects being smashed.

“He has just smashed the table!” Ou Yang Qing involuntarily declared.

“Boom!”

“Now he’s smashed the bed too!” The girl in red said.

A smile crept up on Chang Man Tian’s face.

“Looks like you are about to get back you collection of paintings and writings!”

Hua Yi Fan’s face was full of joy as well.

“Don’t forget your silver!”

“Kaboom!” An earth shattering explosion shook all of them at that moment.

Jin Jiu Ling’s forehead was covered in sweat and the speed with which he swung his flail steadily slowed. He also knew that Lu Xiao Feng was getting ready to counter-attack.

He took two steps forward and swung out the flail. Lu Xiao Feng took two steps back and was just about to use those steps as a spring to leap into attack. But unexpectedly, Jin Jiu Ling suddenly let go of his grip and the flail, with the air around it swirling and howling like a tornado, flew towards Lu Xiao Feng.

Nobody in the world could possible hope to take on the power of this toss directly. All Lu Xiao Feng could do was quickly dodge out of the way.

“Kaboom!” The earth shook as the flail actually smashed a huge hole in the wall of the room. The force of the flail was not spent as it kept on flying forward even further. Jin Jiu Ling borrowing the reaction to the force of toss to his body, followed the flail through the wall! Even Lu Xiao Feng was caught off guard by this move. All he saw was a shadow of a man flashing by his eyes and Jin Jiu Ling had vanished.

“Peng!” The flail smashed into the wall encircling the yard and fell onto the ground, but Jin Jiu Ling had already jumped over the wall. First Madame Gong Sun almost panicked as she was just about to go chase after him when suddenly another shadow passed right in front of her: Lu Xiao Feng.

“Such incredible speed!” Chang Man Tian sighed in disbelief.

First Madame Gong Sun sighed.

“If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m not fully recovered, I could let you hear my speed as well!” She said with a rather disappointed smile.

She did not chase after Jin Jiu Ling. With Lu Xiao Feng chasing, there was no need for her to go as well.

“Don’t worry First Madame, Jin Jiu Ling’s strength is almost completely drained, and his lightness kungfu is no match for Lu Xiao Feng to begin with, he can’t get away!” Chang Man Tian replied.

First Madame Gong Sun finally broke out into a smile.

“Indeed, there is not that many people who can match up against Lu Xiao Feng’s lightness kungfu!”

______________________________

By now Jin Jiu Ling also understood that Lu Xiao Feng’s lightness kungfu was much more frightening than he could have ever imagined. He had a head start as well as the element of surprise, but within 7 or 8 hops, Lu Xiao Feng had almost already caught up.

The distance between them was originally more than 30 meters, but now it was no more than 15 meters. This gap could be covered in maybe just one more hop. The strange thing was Jin Jiu Ling did not seem too worried. Before him laid a small woods, within it was some gazebo and pavilions along with some sporadic flowers and bushes.

“Lu Xiao Feng is the Embroidery Bandit! Somebody slow him down, quick!” Jin Jiu Ling suddenly shouted.

The shout had not completely died down before 4 shadows flew out from within the pavilion, they were none other than Second Madame, Third Madame, the nun in green, and Jiang Qing Xia. The 4 of them swooped around like swallows with the nun in green and Third Madame out in front.

“Whoop!” The whip in Third Madame’s hand had latched itself around Lu Xiao Feng’s leg.

Lu Xiao Feng was so concentrated on chasing Jin Jiu Ling that he had actually not been able to dodge this move. Third Madame gave the whip a good tug and he almost fell.

By now Jin Jiu Ling had already put almost another 20 meters between him and Lu Xiao Feng, he was about to get away. The nun in green’s sword flashed its cold flash as it struck towards Lu Xiao Feng’s chest.

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly reached out with his two fingers and clamped down on the blade of the sword. The nun in green simply felt her wrist suddenly go numb and lost her grip on her sword.

Still with the blade caught between his fingers, Lu Xiao Feng flicked the sword out. Nobody could describe the speed and power of this flick!

Nobody could imagine it! Nobody would even believe it. Even the phrase “lightning fast” could not describe one millionth of the speed of this sword!

This sword was like the light. As soon as you lit the lamp, light would have already reached every corner of the room.

The sword left his hand, a flash, and the blade had arrived at the back of Jin Jiu Ling’s heart!

Jin Jiu Ling suddenly heard a really strange sound, a sound that he had never heard of.

Only then did he feel a wave of pain through his heart, a pain as if his heart had just broke.

He looked down, and at once saw a burst of blood shoot out from his heart. Only after the blood shot out did he finally see the blade that had pierced through his chest.

When he saw the blade, he had already collapsed! But he was not dead! This strike was too fast, faster than even death!

He could still see Lu Xiao Feng flying over to him -- Third Madame’s whip had already been clipped in half by Lu Xiao Feng’s fingers.

Lu Xiao Feng reached Jin Jiu Ling and sat him up.

“Xue Bing! Where is she?” He shouted.

Jin Jiu Ling stared back into his eyes, stared back with an unique yet cruel hint of laughter in his eyes.

“I’m going to see her now,” he whispered. “But you’d have to wait a long long time before you can see her. A long long....”

His voice suddenly stopped, his heart suddenly stopped too.

His eyes were still full of that cruel and villainous laughter, as if he just saw Xue Bing....


 

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 August 2008 04:03 )