LXF03-07 PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 August 2008 04:25

Chapter 7 - Rescue at the Crematorium



Deeper into the night. The light in the hall was dim, contributing to make the hall look even more like the inside of a tomb. The September night air was suppose to be cool and refreshing, but in here, it carried with it an unspeakable stench.

The stench at eunuch headquarters was enough to make a man puke, but this stench was different. This stench was strange and terrifying. Because this was the stench of rotten flesh. Some boxes had blood on them, a dark and crimson shade of blood that slowly leaked out from the in between the pieces of wood.

“Bang!” Suddenly, one piece of wood snapped as a crack appeared on it. It almost seemed like there was somebody alive in the box, struggling to get out. Could the dead really be revived? Even Xi Men Chui Xue felt his back go cold.

“Don’t worry,” Lu Xiao Feng patted him on the shoulder and forced a brave smile onto his face. “The dead can’t come back to life.”

Xi Men Chui Xue chuckled at that remark.

“But the dead will rot, and they will become bloated, bloated to the point of bursting out of the box!”

“Nobody asked you for an explanation.” Xi Men Chui Xue coldly dismissed him.

“I was worried that you might be frightened.”

“I’m only frightened of one kind of men!”

“What kind?”

“The kind that won’t shut up.”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed, though it was not a very joyous laugh. Nobody could get very joyous at a place like this.

“Strange, none of them are here.” Lu Xiao Feng mumbled as he paced back and forth among the boxes.

He much rather be cursed by others for not shutting up than to actually shut up. At a place like this, one would go crazy before long if one did not talk. Not only would talking help him relax, it also lets him temporarily forget about this frightening stench.

“Maybe they are in the back cremating Zhang Ying Feng’s body, the only oven in this place is right behind the hall.”

“The only oven?”

“There’s only one oven here, and it doesn’t produce smoke.”

“You know quite alot.”

“There is one thing he doesn’t know.” Someone mocked from behind the hall. “That oven can cremate up to 4 people at once. It’ll burn all 4 of you to ash.”

Strange voice, strange accent, strange men!

Lamas were not all odd or strange, but these two lamas were not only distorted, but grotesque as well. Nobody could describe their face, for they looked like two demonic masks made from a green tinted copper.

They were dressed in yellow robes, but the robe only covered half of their upper body as their left shoulders were left bare. On their left arm were 9 green copper rings that matched the one that hung around their ears. The weapons in their hands were green tinted copper rings as well. Other than where they gripped the rings, the rings were shapened to form an edge. Anybody, upon seeing two men like this at a place like this, would be covered in cold sweat out of fear. Instead, Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“Turns out lamas can’t count,” he joked. “There’s only two of us here, not four.”

“Two in the front, plus two more in the back.” One of the lamas suddenly broke into a hideous smile, bringing his sinister teeth into view. The other lama’s face, however, was frozen like a corpse’s face.

“Who are the two in the back?” Lu Xiao Feng did not quite understand him.

“Two people waiting to accompany you two to the Western Paradise.”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed again.

“I don’t want to go there, I don’t have any friends there.”

“Kill!” The unsmiling lama abruptly ordered. The copper rings shook as the two lamas prepared to pounce.

“Both of them are lamas.” Xi Men Chui Xue coldly observed.

“There’s only two of them.”

“The lamas are yours.”

“So what are you going to do?”

Xi Men Chui Xue chuckleed. Suddenly, he drew his sword. With a flash, the sword flew towards a wooden box to the side. Nobody could imagine the speed with which he unsheathed his sword and struck, nor could anybody expect him to attack the box, his sword did not kill dead men.

“Bang!” At that exactly instant, another box suddenly cracked as a snake-like sword came flying out, aimed directly at Lu Xiao Feng’s groin. This strike was truly too fast and too devious, nevermind that it was completely unexpected.

The dead can still kill? If Lu Xiao Feng was not Lu Xiao Feng, he would have already died by this sword! But Lu Xiao Feng was Lu Xiao Feng. He suddenly reached out and, with his index and middle fingers, caught the blade!

It did not matter if the strike was from a man or a ghost, as long as he tries, he will always catch that sword, be it a human sword or a demonic sword.

This was indeed a singular skill in the world and never failed.

“Tzz!” And it was at this same exact instant when Xi Men Chui Xue’s sword penetrated into the box. Suddenly, a blood curdling howl screamed out from within the box as pieces of wood exploded and a person leapt out.

A dark and skinny man with a dark sword in his hand. His face was covered with blood, bright red blood.

“Turns out there’s four of them as well!” Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“Four of them, 7 eyes.” Xi Men Chui Xue coldly commented.

The left eye of the man dressed in black who jumped out from inside the box had, amazingly, been pried out by the tip of the sword. Like a mad man, he swung the black snake like sword of his as he, with the speed of lightning, made 9 strikes. His techniques were odd yet effective, strange yet vicious. Pity he was using a sword. Pity he ran into Xi Men Chui Xue!

“I wasn’t planning to kill.” Xi Men Chui Xue coldly stated.

His sword flashed once again, and only once! The man in black’s howls suddenly abated as his entire body suddenly froze as he stood there like a mannequin. The blood was still gushing out, but he collapsed like a punctured balloon.

Blade pinched between his fingers, LU Xiao Feng looked down at the box in front of him. Incredibly, there was not the slightest movement or noise coming from the box.

“This definitely isn’t a lama inside this box.” He suddenly concluded.

“Mm.”

“I caught a sword for you, how about you catch a lama for me and we’ll call it even?”

“Deal.” Xi Men Chui Xue suddenly took off as the flashes of his sword rained down upon that smiling lama like a lightning storm. He did not like the look on the lama’s face when he smiled.

The lama’s rings began to spin and encircle himself. His moves were also odd yet effective, strange yet vicious. Twin rings were a rather strange pair of weapons to begin with anyways, if any kind of sword or sabre gets ensnared within its circles, it would be at least taken away, if not completely broken.

The flash of the sword flickered as it entered within the circles of the twin rings like a moth throwing itself into the flame. The hideous smile appeared on the lama’s face again as he suddenly twisted the twin rings as he tried to break that sword of Xi Men Chui Xue’s in half!

“Break!” That word did not make it out of his throat, because just as he was about to open his mouth and speak, he suddenly discovered that the blade had already arrived in front of his throat. Such an icy cold blade! He could almost actually feel its coldness as it seemed to slowly enter his blood. Then he did not feel anything anymore, nor did he smile anymore. Xi Men Chui Xue did not like the look on his face when he smiled.

Even though the unsmiling lama’s face was already deathily pale, he still gritted his teeth and was about to pounce.

But Xi Men Chui Xue just pointed at Lu Xiao Feng instead.

“You are his.” He slowly brought up his hand and gently blew off the singular drop of blood on the edge of his blade and did not even look at this lama anymore. The lama took a step back in surprise and saw that drop of blood fell onto the ground. Finally, he stomped his feet on the ground and threw himself at Lu Xiao Feng.

Lu Xiao Feng still had the sword that came from the box pinched between his fingers. An ironic smile appeared on his face

“This guy really doesn’t like to be put at a disadvantage for anything....”

“Ding!” The sound cut him off. The 9 rings on the lama’s left arm suddenly all came twirling towards him at great speed. The lama himself also left at great speed.

As soon as the copper rings left his hand, he threw himself through a window and ran away. Xi Men Chui Xue had already put his sword back into its sheath and was standing there, watching unperturbed, with his hands behind his back, as if all of this had absolutely nothing to do with him.

“Ding! Ding! Ding!” Another series of ringing, like pearls landing on a jade plate, could be heard as, with several gentle flicks of his finger, Lu Xiao Feng knocked all of the copper rings out of the air.

This kind of rings was actually a very dangerous and hard to handle type of projectile, but to him, they seemed to have turned into some child’s toy.

“Ever thought of selling that finger of yours?” Xi Men Chui Xue suddenly asked.

“That depends on what you plan to buy it with.”

“Sometimes I’m almost willing to trade one of my fingers for it.”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“I know your sword skills are decent and are pretty quick to strike. But one of your fingers would, at best, be worth about one of my toes.” He jested.

The box was still completely quiet and skill. This sword could not have just thrusted itself out. Where was the guy?

Lu Xiao Feng knocked on the box.

“Do you plan on hiding in there for the rest of your life?”

No answer was forthcoming.

“If you don’t come out, we are going to be forced to tear down your house.”

Still, no answer.

“This guy probably still haven’t figured out that as long as I said it, I’d always be willing to go through it.” Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

He lifted his hand up and slapped it down. The box split open. The man was still in the box, squating in the box, not moving one bit. Tears, drool, and his noses were all running freely, not to mention there was a stench on his body. He was literally scared to death.

This startled Lu Xiao Feng. Mt.Water of Goddess, mysterious sword sect, all these names sounded somewhat scary, but who would expect that he would not be able to take a scare?

“This man did not come from Mt.Water of Goddess.” Xi Men Chui Xue suddenly declared.

“How do you know?”

“I recognize their sword techniques.”

“What are they?”

“That move is Sea South Sword Sect’s Cyclone.”

“They are the disciples of the Southern Seas Sword Sect?”

“Without a doubt.”

“Why would they masquerade as swordsmen from Mt.Water of Goddess?”

“That’s a question you should ask him.”

“Pity that he doesn’t seem to be able to talk anymore.”

“Don’t forget there were still two people in the back.”

Who were these two people in the back? A dead man and a live one!

Of course, the dead man could not move, but the live man could not move either. The dead one was Zhang Ying Feng, the live one was Yan Ren Ying. This proud and defiant young man, was currently lying on the ground like a dead man, as if they were next in line waiting to be cremated.

Lu Xiao Feng recognized that he merely had his pressure point sealed and helped him sit up. With a quick flick of his hand, Xi Men Chui Xue unsealed his pressure points and glared with an icy stare.

He also noticed Xi Men Chui Xue’s pale and icy face as he tried to stand up.

“Who are you?”

“Xi Men Chui Xue.”

A gnarl appeared on Yan Ren Ying’s face as he fell down again.

“Kill me!” He sighed.

Xi Men Chui Xue coldly laughed.

“Why didn’t you kill me?” Yan Ren Ying demanded through gritted teeth. “Why did you save me instead?”

“Because he never wanted to kill you.” Li Xiao Feng sighed as well. “It’s you who wanted to kill him.”

Yan Ren Ying lowered his head, looking as if he would rather be dead instead of feeling what he was feeling.

“The way they sealed his pressure points are also that of the Southern Seas Sect.” Xi Men Chui Xue suddenly said.

“They were his invited helpers, why would they turn on him?” Lu Xiao Feng frowned.

“That’s a question you should ask him yourself!” Xi Men Chui Xue coldly responded.

“They aren’t invited.” Lu Xiao Feng did not ask before Yan Ren Ying answered. Gritting his teeth, he explained. “They came looking for me.”

“The volunteered to help you get your revenge?”

Yan Ren Ying nodded.

“They said they were friends of my master.”

“And you believed them?”

Once again, Yan Ren Ying’s head lowered in shame. He was truly too young, still unfamiliar and susceptible to all the lies and traps that the martial world had to offer.

All Lu Xiao Feng could do was put up a sympathetic smile.

“Do you know why they wanted to get rid of you?”

Yan Ren Ying paused.

“They attacked me as soon as we got here. But I did seem to hear them say one thing.”

“What?”

“It’s not us that killed you, it’s the 3 wax figurines that killed you.” That was what they said as Yan Ren Ying collapsed.

“What wax figurines?”

“The ones that my martial brother molded.”

“Between the 7 of us, he was always the smartest, and he had a pair of truly skillful hands.” He went on to explain. “Once he sees your face, he could very quickly mold a figurine of you in his sleeves that looks just like you.”

“Could he a relative of ‘Clay Man Zhang’ in the Capital?”

“The capital city was his home town. He is very familiar with the people on the ground.”

--That explained how he knew Sixth Brother Ma.

“When we parted way, he did not have any figurines on him. But when I was inspecting his body, 3 figurines fell out of his shirt.”

“Where are those figurines now?” Lu Xiao Feng immediately inquired.

“Right here with me. But I don’t recognize any of the 3 people.”

But Lu Xiao Feng did; at least, he recognized two of them. He pretty much recognized them the moment he laid eyes on them.

“This is Manager Wang and Sixth Brother Ma.”

Zhang Ying Feng’s skill was truly incredible, but it was a shame that the third wax figuring had already been smushed flat.

“He must have molded these 3 figurines just before he died, because he knew these 3 men were going to kill him.”

“You think that these 3 men are his real killers?” Xi Men Chui Xue wondered.

“Without a doubt.”

“So just before he died, he was still thinking of ways to let his martial brother avenge him and molded the faces of his true killers?”

“That’s right.”

“But at such a crucial life or death moment, where did he go to find wax?”

“He didn’t have to.” Yan Ren Ying answered this question. “He would always carry a slab of wax with him. Whenever he has nothing to do, he would around play with the wax.”

“Looks like that clever pair of hands of his didn’t come about naturally, but was trained.” Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

In reality, not only was hard training required, but it had to be coupled with a fiery and irrepressible passion that other people could not fathom. It is like that with anything, any skill. If your goal is perfection, then you have to have a kind of fiery passion towards it. The same type of passion that Xi Men Chui Xue had toward swords.

A touched looked seemed to have appeared on Xi Men Chui Xue’s face, because he understood this passion. Nobody knew and understood this passion as clearly as he did. During his youth, no matter where he went, he had his sword with him at all times, even when he took baths or fell asleep.

“Zhang Ying Feng had Sixth Brother Ma to take him to that eunuch nest looking for you!” Lu Xiao Feng observed.

“But instead he stumbled upon Manager Wang and Sixth Brother Ma’s secret!” Xi Men Chui Xue deduced.

“So they killed him.”

“Manager Wang and Sixth Brother Ma might be utterly useless, but this third person was a master.”

“He knew before hand that he was no match against this guy and that he was doomed to die. So he secretly molded these figurines so as to let others know who his killers are!”

Because he had concluded that others would never suspect this third man to be the real murderer. If so, that means the secret the 3 men were discussing must have been a truly Earth shattering secret.

“The buildings there are small and narrow, and it’s always crowded.” Lu Xiao Feng continued. “They couldn’t find anywhere to hide the body nor could they figure out a way to destroy the body.”

“So they threw the body on the back of a horse and shipped him out.” Xi Men Chui Xue concluded.

“They had planned to place the blame on you, to put you up against the E’Mei Sect. Two birds with one stone.”

Although the truth was revealed, they still did not know the most important piece of information -- the third figurine had been flattened.

Xi Men Chui Xue closely inspected the flattened figurine.

“No matter what, this man cannot be Honest Monk!”

This man had hair. Not only could Zhang Ying Feng make a likeness, he could go as far as replicating one’s hair.

“He seems to be very fat.”

“No, his face is flattened, that’s why it looks so fat.”

“He has a beard, but not too long.”

“So he isn’t very old.”

“His face looks green.”

“That’s the color of the wax, not of his face.”

“So now we know he’s a bearded man, not too fat, not too thin.” Lu Xiao Feng sighed and another weary smile appeared on his face.

There were tens of thousands of men who fit that description in the city, where do they start looking?

The fire in the oven was already lit. The lamas seemed to have planned to cremate Yan Ren Ying and Zhang Ying Feng together for a long time.

“They were probably all under Manager Wang’s command and came here to kill Yan Ren Ying to shut him up. So they probably didn’t expect us get here!”

“Or maybe they weren’t ordered here by Manager Wang, maybe that ‘third guy’ is the real mastermind behind all of this.”

“Doesn’t matter, lamas are monks too, they also wear white socks.”

“There are quite a number of Taoist monks within the Southern Seas Sect.”

The fire flickered and shoned onto Zhang Ying Feng’s face, shoned onto that fatal wound on his neck as well.

“Can you tell who made that strike?”

“No. But there are people other than me who are capable of such a strike!”

“Other than you, how many?”

“Not many, not more than 5 who are alive.”

“Which five?”

“Ye Gu Cheng, the Wooden Taoist, and 2 or 3 more swordsmen you wouldn’t know about even if I told you their names. One of them is a hermit living on Mt.Water of Goddess.”

“You know him?”

“Even if I didn’t know him,” Xi Men Chui Xue sneered, “I know his sword.”

“How about Hunan Swordsman Wei Zi Yun?”

“His techniques aren’t steady or quick enough,” Xi Men Chui Xue shook his head, “and forget Yin Xian.”

Lu Xiao Feng mulled it over for a bit.

“Maybe there are some whose sword skills might be high, but very rarely wield a sword.”

“That might not be likely, but it’s still not impossible.”

“If Honest Monk would use a sword, I’m sure he would be amazing. I’ve always felt that his level of understanding mastery of martial arts was immeasurably deep and broad.”

“Honest Monk doesn’t have any hair, or a beard.”

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“There are such things as fake men, nevermind fake beards.” He seemed dead set on Honest Monk.

Yan Ren Ying had been standing off to the side in awe all this while; abruptly, he walked closer and bowed to Xi Men Chui Xue.

“No need to thank me, the one who saved you isn’t me, it’s Lu Xiao Feng.” Xi Men Chui Xue briskly told him.

“I’m not thanking you, the debt I owe you for saving my life could not possibly be encompassed by a mere thanks.” A weird look appeared on his face, in the flickering light of the fire, it was hard to discern whether he wanted to laugh or cry.

“I would like to humbly ask you to take that bow back to my younger martial sister.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve misunderstood her this entire time. I looked down on her. I thought she shouldn’t be together with the nemesis of our sect.” Yan Ren Ying hesitated before finally summoning up enough courage to continue. “But now I finally understand, vengence isn’t nearly as important as I had thought....”

--Vengence is not something that had to be delievered. There are far too many emotions and feelings that are much more intense and noble than hate. He did not say those words, because he could not bring himself to say it. But he finally understood in his heart. Because at this very moment, the hatred in his heart could not possibly compare to the intensity of the gratitude. He suddenly bent down, picked up his martial brother’s body, and began to walk away with his head held high. The distance was covered in darkness, but the brightness of light was approaching.

Lu Xiao Feng watched him leave before finally sighing: “He still is a young man, every time I see a young man like him, I can’t help but feel that this world isn’t too bad. It’s not bad to be alive.”

How precious is life? Life will always be filled with hope. Xi Men Chui Xue’s eyes were flickering with that warmth once again. This was not the reflection of the flickering flames his eyes, but the reflection of the molten glacier in his heart.

Lu Xiao Feng looked at him and suddenly patted him on the shoulder.

“You finally saved a life today, how does it feel?”

“Better than taking a life!”

______________________________

Under the flickering fire, “the third man”‘s face looked contorted and grotesque. Nobody would look very nice with their face flattened.

“Now that Sixth Brother Ma died, there’s only one person who knows his identity!”

“Manager Wang?”

“Mm.”

“Do you want to go find him?”

“No.” Lu Xiao Feng sighed. “He’s probably deep within the Forbidden City by now, I won’t be able to find him even if I tried.”

“And even if you did find him, he would never reveal the secret.”

Lu Xiao Feng intently stared at the figurine in his hand, his eyes seemingly lit up again.

“There is still another way for me to find out who he is.”

“What way?”

“I can go find Clay Man Zhang, I’m sure he’d know of a way to restore this figurine back to its original state.”

Xi Men Chui Xue looked into his eyes with a hint of smile.

“You really are quite smart.”

“I was never stupid.” Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“Are you going now?”

Lu Xiao Feng shook his head, a gentle and soft warmth appeared in his eyes as well.

“Right now I just want to see one person....”

He did not say that person’s name, but Xi Men Chui Xue already knew who that person was.

The stars slowly dispersed, the boundless and winding night was finally over. The brightness of light was approaching.