LXF01-08 Print
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Friday, 15 August 2008 21:41

Chapter 8 - Vengeance and Formidable Foe



A rainstorm is like the prodigal son that crashes into the rich woman's boudoir in the middle of the night, it comes suddenly and is even quicker going away.

But everything it left behind was changed because of it.

Every tree and leaf in the woods had been washed to a jade color, and the blood on the corpses were washed off too. Making it almost impossible to find the fatal wound.

But of these dozen or so men, not one of them was still alive.

When they found the bodies, SiKong ZhaiXing had already disappeared.

"Leaving these bodies to us, does he want us to clean up after his mess?" ShuangGuan DanFeng bitterly commented.

"He didn't kill these men," Lu XiaoFeng replied. "Very rarely does he ever kill."

"If not him then whom?" Inquired ShangGuan DanFeng.

"The very same man who ordered them to set fire to the place."

"What you are saying, is that he was afraid that we might be able to find out who he is from them, so he killed them to protect himself?"

Lu XiaoFeng nodded. His face was stern and tight. Of the three things he hated the most, killing was the first among them.

"But he could have just released these men, why did he have to kill them?" ShuangGuan DanFeng wondered.

"Because a dozen or so men whose right hand had been chopped off is very easy to track down."

Princess DanFeng sighed. "Actually, killing all these men was quite useless, we still know where they were from."

"Do you know?"

"You can't tell that they are from the Green Shirt Pavilion?"

Lu XiaoFeng did not reply. After a long silence, he slowly replied: "I can only figure out one thing."

"And what's that?"

"I figured out that you would undoubtly ran to Pearl and Diamond Pavilion and instruct people to come here to clean up the bodies."

ShangGuan DanFeng shot him a look before looking down shyly.

"What else have you figured out?" She asked, biting her lip.

"That afterwards, you would undoubtedly tell people to prepare a bath for you, then you would pick a nice and comfortable room and get a good sleep."

He gave a little smile and continued.

"Don't forget, that place belongs to you now."

______________________________

Lu XiaoFeng leaned back in the tub of hot water and closed his eyes. After being drenched in rain, it really is quite a joy to be able to find a place to enjoy a hot bath.

He felt that his luck had been pretty good. On the stove by his side rested a big bronze kettle and the water inside was almost boiling. The room was almost filled with steam, giving off an air of security and comfort.

Hua ManLou had already taken a bath and was probably sleeping by now. ShangGuan DanFeng was probably already at Pearl and Diamond Pavilion.

Even though she really did not want to in her heart, she still left, seemingly very obedient to Lu XiaoFeng.

This also made him felt very satisfied, he liked the girls who listened.

But it's just that he just did not feel very satisfied about this entire matter, as if there was something in all of this that just did not fit. But for the life of him, he could not figure out where exactly doesn't it fit.

Before he died, Yan TieShan admitted his crimes of the past, and Huo TianQing had already agreed to let this whole matter slide.

The favor that he promised to Golden Roc Emperor was at least, technically, one third accomplished, and very smoothly accomplished at that.

So what could be bothering him?

The rain had stopped a long time ago, once in a while the sounds of water droplets could be heard, the night breeze was refreshing and clean.

Lu XiaoFeng sighed and decided that he should stop thinking these crazy thoughts and learn to become a person who knows when to be satisfied.

This was when he heard the sound of a door being opened.

His hearing was fine, the door was pushed open by someone.

But he was not sure whether or not his eyes were fine, what he saw walking in was four women.

Four young and beautiful women, not only good looking, but graceful as well, wearing the type of clothing that made their thin and slender bodies that much more tempting.

Lu XiaoFeng loves those women with narrow waists and long legs, and those four women just happened to have very narrow waists and very long legs.

Smiling, they sauntered in, as if there wasn't a naked man sitting in a bath tub in the middle of the room at all.

But those 4 pairs of bright and beautiful eyes were all permanently fixed upon Lu XiaoFeng's face.

Lu XiaoFeng wasn't a shy person by any stretch of imagination, but at this moment his face felt like it was burning, he did not need a mirror to know that he was blushing.

"I heard that Lu XiaoFeng has 4 eye brows, but how come I only see 2?" Someone suddenly laughed.

"You can see 2? I can't even see one." Another replied in laughter.

The one who spoke first was the tallest and had a pair of long and narrow pheonix like eyes, even when she was laughing, it carried a kind of murderous air with it.

Anybody can tell that she was definitely not a woman who helps men take baths.

But she walked over and picked up the kettle on the stove.

"Water seems to have cooled a little," she smiled. "Let me add a bit of hot water for you."

Lu XiaoFeng glanced at the steam produced by the water inside the kettle and was a bit shocked, but to ask him, naked as a new born baby, to stand up in front of four woman, was too much even for him.

But if this big kettle of boiling water was poured onto him, that feeling couldn't be very good.

Just as Lu XiaoFeng was having a dilemma deciding whether he was better off moving to stand up or remaining still sitting in the tub, he suddenly discovered that he couldn't move if he wanted to.

The girl who had not spoken a word, the girl who looked the quietest and gentlest, had suddenly taken out, from her sleeve, a little less than half-meter long, glowing dagger and held it up against his neck.

The dark and cold feel of the dagger caused the area from behind his ears to all the way down to his shoulders to be covered with goose bumps.

That tall and phoenix-eyed girl had slow began to pour the boiling water into his tub.

"You better behave, we sisters might be warm, gentle, polite, and quiet, but we never blink when it comes to killing." She casually said. "This kettle of water, if poured on someone's body, even if he doesn't die, he would lose a layer of skin that's for sure."

She kept on pouring the water into the tub as she talked.

The water in the tub was pretty hot to begin with, now it was almost how enough to make people scream.

Sweat had began to form on Lu XiaoFeng's head but only about a fourth of the water inside the kettle had been added.

If the whole kettle was added, then the person inside the tub would probably lose a layer of skin as well.

Lu XiaoFeng laughed ------ he actually laughed.

The delicate yet fierce eyes of the water-pouring girl stared at him.

"You seem to be enjoying yourself." She coldly observed.

Lu XiaoFeng did seem to be enjoying himself.

"I only think it's quite funny," he replied with a smile.

"Funny? What's so funny?" The girl seemed to be pouring a bit faster.

But Lu XiaoFeng kept on smiling.

"In the future when I tell people that, while I was taking a bath, I had the Four Beauties (4 Xiu) of E'Mei was by my side adding water for me; I would be shocked if anyone would believe me."

Turned out he had already guessed who they were.

"So it turned out your eyes aren't that bad," the tall and phoenix-eyed girl sneered. "You are right, I am Ma XiuZheng."

"And this one who doesn't blink when killing, could you be Shi XiuYun?" Lu XiaoFeng pondered.

Shi XiuYun's smile was even more warm and gentle.

"But when I kill you, I would blink at least a little," she replied in a gentle voice.

"That's why we actually don't want to kill you, but only want to ask you a couple of questions," Ma XiuZheng said. "If you answer them quickly, then this kettle of water won't be poured in, but if not, then when all the water is poured in...."

Shi XiuYun sighed and continued. "By then you would probably be cooked."

"A cooked pig you could at least sell the pig meat, but a cook man would probably have to be fed to the dogs," Sun XiuQing sighed.

Lu XiaoFeng sighed too.

"I'm about cooked now, so why don't you hurry up and ask already."

"Alright, let me ask you, did our martial brother Su ShaoYing die in the hands of XiMen ChuiXue?" Ma XiuZheng spoke for the group.

"If you already knew, then why ask me?" Lu XiaoFeng replied with a rather pitiful smile.

"So where is XiMen ChuiXue now?"

"I'm looking for him too, if you gals see him, could you gals tell me?"

"You really don't know where he is?"

"I only lie to women when I'm drunk, but right now I am very very sober."

Ma XiuZheng gritted her teeth a bit and suddenly poured quite a bit of the water into the tub.

"You better be honest when talking to me," she coldly threatened.

"How can I not be honest at this moment?" Lu XiaoFeng's pitiful smile turned even more pitiful.

"That woman that was with you, is she really the princess of the Golden Roc Dynasty?"

"That is correct."

"The Golden Roc Emperor is still alive?"

"Still alive."

"And he was the one that wanted you to deal with Yan TieShan?"

"Yes."

"Who else did he want you to deal with?"

"ShangGuan Mu and Yan DuHe."

"Who are those two?" Ma XiuZheng frowned. "I never even heard of their names before."

"The number of names you haven't heard before probably numbers in the then tens of millions." Lu XiaoFeng sighed.

Ma XiuZheng stared at him.

"I'm not wearing any cloths," Lu XiaoFeng sighed. "If you keep on staring at me like this, I'm going to blush."

He did not blush, but Ma XiuZheng did.

She suddenly turned away, placed the kettle back onto the stove, adjusted her clothing, and bowed toward Lu XiaoFeng. Shi XiuYun's sword had been taken away too.

Four well dressed, beautiful young females suddenly all bowing towards a completely naked man sitting in a bath tub; if you have seen a scene like this, there was no way you could dream what it looked like.

Lu XiaoFeng looked like he was a bit shocked too. He could not imagine how these 4 fiesty and commanding girls had suddenly became this polite.

"E'Mei disciples Ma XiuZheng, Yie XiuZhu, Sun XiuQing, and Shi XiuYun, carrying out our master's wishes, has come to invite Mr. Lu to lunch tomorrow. Don't know if Mr. Lu would come or not." Ma XiuZheng said, still bowing.

Lu XiaoFeng was speechless for quite a bit before forcing up another pitiful smile.

"I do want to come, but pity that even if I grew wings, there is no way I could make it to E'Mei Mountain by tomorrow noon."

Ma XiuZheng cracked a smile.

"Master is not at E'Mei, at this moment he is waiting for Mr. Lu's arrival at Pearl and Diamond Pavilion."

Lu XiaoFeng was shocked again.

"He's here too? When did he arrive?"

"Just arrived today."

"If we haven't dropped by Pearl and Diamond Pavilion, how could we have known about what happened last night?" Shi XiuYun added on sweetly.

Lu XiaoFeng smiled again, of course, another pitiful smile.

"If Mr. Lu want to come, then we don't dare to bother you anymore, farewell." Ma XiuZheng spoke up again.

"You don't have any other questions to ask me?"

Ma XiuZheng smiled and shook her head, her manner was gentle and polite, her smile was warm, seemingly completely forgotten about that whole incident about cooking him.

Yie XiuZhu however, being a honest girl, couldn't help but laugh a little. "We had long heard of the famed name of Mr. Lu. So we dared to come to you while you are taking a bath."

"Actually, you could have come at any time and asked me any question and I wouldn't have refused you the answers," Lu XiaoFeng said with a forced smile.

Shi XiuYun blinked. "Are you not mad Mr. Lu?"

"How could I be mad? In fact, I'm happy as hell."

It is Shi XiuYun's turn to be taken aback.

"We treated you like that, and you are still happy?"

Lu XiaoFeng laughed ------ a real laugh this time.

"Not only am I happy," he replied with a smile. "I should thank all of you for this great opportunity."

"What opportunity?" Shi XiuYun had to ask.

"When I'm taking a bath, you gals can just barge in here," Lu XiaoFeng casually replied, "so you gals shoudln't be mad at all when I barge in while you are taking a bath. Not every guy in the world has an opportunity like that, how could I not be happy?"

All four of the the Four Beauties of E'Mei blushed. Suddenly, they all turned and rushed out of the door.

Only now did Lu XiaoFeng let out a deep sigh.

"Looks like from now on, I'm going to have to wear pants when I take a bath," he mumbled to himself.

______________________________

Where Lu XiaoFeng was taking a bath was a kitchen, there is a little yard outside, in that yard there stood a gingko tree.

The night was cool and clear, the waxing moon looking as if it hanged off of the branches of the tree with the dew on the leaves blocking and altering the shade of the moon. Inside the shadow casted by the tree, there was a person standing there, absolutely still, tall, straight, white clothed like snow, with an odd shaped sword carried across his back in an ebony sheath.

As soon as the Four Beauties of E'Mei rushed out of the door, they saw him. As soon as one catches the glimpse of this man, one would involuntarily shudder at the feeling of ice that shoots from one's heart all the way to one's finger nails.

"XiMen ChuiXue!" Ma XiuZheng let out a yell.

XiMen ChuiXue coldly stared at them, slowly nodded.

"You killed Su ShaoYing?" Ma XiuZheng madly demanded.

"You want revenge?"

"We was just going to go look for you," Ma XiuZheng sneered. "Didn't think that you would dare come here!"

XiMen ChuiXue's eyes suddenly began to glow, glow terrifyingly bright.

"I don't usually kill woman, but woman shouldn't practice sword," XiMen ChuiXue coldly replied. "Those who practice swords aren't women."

"Bullshit!" Shi XueYun shouted back in rage.

"Why don't you all unsheath your swords and come at me at once," XiMen ChuiXue's face darkened.

"We don't need to all come at you, just little me is enough to kill you!" Shi XiuYun shouted.

She looked to be the calmest and nicest, but in reality her temper is the shortest and worst of them all.

That pair of short swords she used was the weapons passed down from the famed swordswoman from the Tang Dynasty, First Madame SunGong.

As she was shouting, the swords was already in her hands. The glow of the blade wavered like the dragon in the sky and struck down like lightning as she and her sword charged toward XiMen ChuiXue.

"Hold on," suddenly someone gently said.

As soon as those words were uttered, the man appeared.

As soon as Shi XiuYun struck out with her swords, she suddenly realized that neither of swords could be moved ------ the two blades of her swords had just been caught between the fingers of the man who just appeared.

She never actually saw what this man's moves were, she tried to pull her swords out, but it felt as if the blades had taken root on that man's fingers.

But this man's expression was still very peaceful, even smiling.

But Shi XiuYun's face was red with anger. "Didn't think XiMen ChuiXue actually has helpers," she coldly laughed.

"You think he's my helper?" XiMen ChuiXue coldly replied.

"Isn't he?"

XiMen ChuiXue let out a cold little laugh and suddenly moved. A flash of briliant light like a rainbow colored lightning was all that could be seen for a moment, then it disappeared.

XiMen ChuiXue had turned around and the sword had returned to its sheath.

"If he didn't make a move, you would be like this tree by now," he coldly observed.

Shi XiuYun was just about to ask him what about this tree, but before she opened her mouth, she suddenly discovered that the tree was falling.

During that brief flash of sword, this tree, so big that a person can barely put his arm around the whole trunk, was cut in half.

The tree was falling, and XiMen ChuiXue was gone.

Shi XiuYun's expression was frozen. In this world, how could there be such a sword style? such quickness? She almost could not believe her own eyes.

The tree was almost about to fall on the person opposite her when he turned around, raised his arms, and gently pushed. The tree slowly and gently fell on the ground next to him. This man's expression was still very serene and still carried that same warm smile.

"I'm not his helper," he slowly said. "I never help anyone kill."

Shi XiuYun's pale face turned red once again. Now she understood what this man was doing, and also understood that XiMen ChuiXue's words were true. Even though her had a bad temper, she still could tell what's right and what's bad, and she bowed her head in embarrassment .

"Thank you," she finally gathered up enough courage to say. "May I please know your surname?"

"My surname is Hua," this man, obviously Hua ManLou, answered.

"I... I'm Shi XiuYun, that tallest one over there is my eldest martial sister Ma XiuZheng."

"Is she the one who spoke earlier?"

"Yes."

"Her voice is very easily distinguishable," Hua ManLou smiled. "Next time I'll surely be able to recognize her."

Shi XiuYun thought that was a little odd.

"You have to hear her talk to be able to distinguish her?" She had to ask.

Hua ManLou nodded.

"Why?"

"Because I'm blind."

Shi XiuYun was speechless.

This man, who could catch her blade within his fingers as if it was the easiest thing in the world, was blind. She could not believe it.

The moonlight shone on Hua ManLou's face, his smile was still that serene, that warm, anyone could tell that he was a man who was full of passion about life and not be depressed or mad because he was blind, and would never be jealous or envious of other people.

Because he was already satisfied with everything in his life, because he had been enjoying this beautiful thing that is life.

Shi XiuYun stared at him, her heart suddenly filled with a kind of indescribable feeling, she could not tell whether it was sympathy, pity, or admiration.

She only knew that she had never felt this before.

"You sisters are all waiting for you," Hua ManLou said, smiling. "Shouldn't you be going?"

Shi XiuYun shyly bowed her head.

"If we meet again, would you be able to recognize me?" She suddenly asked.

"Of course, I can tell from your voice."

"But... what if I have become a mute by then?"

Now it was Hua ManLou's turn to be speechless.

Nobody had ever asked him that before, and he never imagined that anyone would have.

He was just puzzled over how he should answer that when he suddenly realized she had walked up to him and grabbed his hand.

"Feel my face," she gently said, "then even if I couldn't speak, all you have to do is feel my face and you would know who I am, right?"

Hua ManLou silently nodded as he felt his fingers touch her silky smooth and flawless face.

His heart suddenly also filled with a kind of indecribable feeling.

Ma XiuZheng was looking at them from afar and looked as if she was about to go up and get her younger martial sister but finally decided against it.

When she turned around, she saw that Sun XiuQing and Yie XiuZhu were both looking at them too, their eyes filled with a special type of feeling, almost as if they were entranced.

Shi XiuYun doing this did not surprise them, because all of them always knew that their little martial sister was the type of girl that dared to love and hate. Did they wish in their hearts that they could be just as courageous as her?

To love, also takes courage.

______________________________

Shi XiuYun left, they all left ------ four young and beautiful girls together, they came like the wind and left like the wind too. Nobody could figure out when they would come and nobody could figure out when they would leave.

But Hua ManLou was still standing there, motionless, seemingly entranced.

The wind was lightly blowing, the moon gently shining down, his smile looked peaceful and happy.

Lu XiaoFeng suddenly laughed.

"I am willing to bet."

"Bet on what?"

"I bet that you won't feel like washing your hands for at least 3 days!"

Hua ManLou sighed.

"I don't understand why you always think that other people are like just like you."

"What about me?"

"You are not a gentleman," Hua ManLou put up a serious face, "not one bit!"

Lu XiaoFeng laughed.

"The most lovable thing about me, is that I would never put up a serious face and pretend to be a gentleman."

Hua ManLou could not hold back his laughter anymore either.

"I say you better be careful," Lu XiaoFeng suddenly observed.

"Careful? What for?"

"Recently you seem to be getting pretty lucky in the women department, when a man suddenly gets lucky like this, trouble usually isn't far behind."

"Another thing I don't understand," Hua ManLou sighed.

"Oh?"

"How come you could always see other people's troubles, but never your own?"

Lu XiaoFeng sighed.

"Because I'm an asshole," Lu XiaoFeng offered, with a pitiful smile.

"As long as a person knows that he's an asshole, there's still hope for him," Hua ManLou laughed.

"So who do you think hired SiKong ZhaiXing to steal ShuangGuan DanFeng?" Lu XiaoFeng suddenly asked after a prolonged period of silence.

"Huo Xiu," Hua ManLou answered without the slightest hesitation.

"That's right, it has to be him."

"There aren't that many people who are able to spend 200 thousand taels of silver to get SiKong ZhaiXing."

"So from this, it seems that the Golden Roc Emperor wasn't lying, Huo Xiu is ShangGuan Mu."

Hua ManLou concurred.

"And DuGu YiHe must be Yan DuHe, that's why he would go to Pearl and Diamond Pavilion, and that's why he would send his disciples to come and find me."

"When he came here, he probably did not know that something already happened to Yan TieShan," Hua ManLou added.

"He might have already agreed with Yan TieShan to come together and discuss something."

"Very likely."

"And the matter they were planning to discuss could it be how to deal with the Golden Roc Emperor?"

"Also very likely."

"And he sent the Four Beauties of E'Mei ask me those questions, so he pretty much admitted his relationship with the Golden Roc Emperor."

"So you think that he shouldn't have done this."

"We don't have any evidence that could prove he is Yan DuHe, and he didn't need to admit it either, unless...."

"Unless he already knows of a plan to make you stop meddling with other people's affairs."

Lu XiaoFeng slowly nodded. "Unless he already figured out an ingenious plan."

"The best plans are always the same."

"Of course, when a person is dead, he can't meddle with other people's affairs."

"So you think he has set up a trap there and is waiting for you to jump in?"

"He doesn't need to set up any kind of traps," Lu XiaoFeng forced a smile. "Those 49 moves of his 'Sabre Sword Twin Kill' wis probably enough to make me stop meddling in other people's affairs."

"Rumor said that of the masters of the 7 main sword sects in the world today, his kungfu is the best, because on top of the fact that he has mastered the E'Mei Sect kungfu inside and out, he had originally learned many very devious and strong skills that nobody has seen him use yet."

Lu XiaoFeng suddenly jumped up.

"Let's go!"

"Go where?"

"Pearl and Diamond Pavilion, where else?"

"The meeting is arranged to be tomorrow noon, why do we have to go now?"

"It's better to be early than to be late."

"Are you worried about ShangGuan DanFeng?"

"A man of DuGu YiHe's stature would do anything to a girl."

"Then who are you worried about?"

"XiMen ChuiXue."

Hua ManLou's expression changed.

"That's right, if he found out that DuGu YiHe is at Pearl and Diamond Pavilion, he would probably be heading that way now."

"I'm worried that he might be able to handle DuGu YiHe's Sabre Sword Twin Kill," Lu XiaoFeng explained. "With his skills, you really shouldn't worry about him. But he is too conceited, conceit can lead to mistakes, mistakes can lead to death."

"I don't like him," Hua ManLou sighed. "But I have to admit that he does have much to be conceited about."

"He only observed Su ShaoYing make 21 moves before deciding that he could beat DuGu YiHe's Sabre Sword Twin Kill, but he probably didn't think much about the fact that Su ShaoYing isn't DuGu YiHe."

"What kind of a person is DuGu YiHe anyways?"

Lu XiaoFeng thought for a while.

"There is a type of person that even though I don't want to become friends with, I reall don't want to become enemies with either," he spoke slowly.

"And DuGu YiHe is this type of a person?"

Lu XiaoFeng nodded.

"No matter who, if he knew that he has an enemy like him, he wouldn't be able to sleep, so we might as well start walking." Lu XiaoFeng sighed.

Hua ManLou suddenly laughed.

"I don't think he's sleeping right now either."

"How come?"

"No matter who, if he knew that he has an enemy like you, he wouldn't be able to sleep either."

______________________________

DuGu YiHe was not sleeping. It was deep in the night, and the April night breezes carried with it a seemingly Autumn chill as they blew past the white curtains in the hall.

The coffin was made from Violet Nanmu, very sturdy, very expensive.

But the person was already dead, did it really make a difference what kind of coffin he was lying in?

The candle light flickered in the wind as the mourning hall was filled with a unspeakable chill and melancholy.

DuGu YiHe silently stood there besides Yan TieShan's shrine, he hadn't moved for a long long time.

He was a tall and serious man, he still stood straight the way he used to when he was young, and his needle like hair was still ebony black colored. Only the wrinkles on his face were many and deep, only when you see his face would you know that he was indeed an old man.

At this moment, on that serious and resolute face of his, there was a look of sadness and loneliness.

Was this because he's already a dead man and already understood how sad and horrifying death really is?

Behind him suddenly came a series of very light foot steps, he did not turn around, but his hand had already gripped the handle of his sword.

His sword was thicker and bigger than the average sword with the blade being extra long and wide.

The blade was made of bronze and polished to a incredible shine, but the sheath was very old and dirty with a small Eight Diagram carved on it, to symbolize that this was the sword of the head of the E'Mei Sect.

A person slowly walked up from behind him and stopped next to him. Even though he did not turn to look, he knew that this was Huo TianQing.

Huo TianQing's expression was very sad too, very somber, other than the black clothes on the inside, he wore a yellow colored mourning shirt, showing that his relationship with the deceased was special.

DuGu YiHe had never seen this proud and powerful young man before, he had never even been here before.

Huo TianQing stood there, at his side, for a long time before suddenly speaking up.

"Still haven't fallen asleep, Father?"

DuGu YiHe did not answer. Because this was a question that did not need to be answered, if he was standing here, then of course he still hasn't fallen asleep.

His position and fame had given him the right to not answer this kind of questions.

But Huo TianQing continued.

"You have never been here before have you Father?"

"Never."

"That's why even I didn't know that Father and Boss Yan were such good friends!"

DuGu YiHe's face darkened.

"There are plenty of things that you don't know about," he coldly replied.

"Father is one of the leaders of the martial world," Huo TianQing casually replied. "So of course Father would know more than I."

"Hmph!"

Huo TianQing suddenly turned his head and stared at his face with a knife-like stare.

"Then Father must know why he died!" Huo TianQing said slowly.

DuGu YiHe's face seemed to have changed colors a bit as he suddenly turned around and started to walk out.

"Stop!" Huo TianQing ordered.

DuGu YiHe's last step hit down hard, shattering the tile on the floor to pieces. The veins on his hands were popping out as the cape he was wearing fluttered without any wind present. After a long time, he slowly turned around, rage shot out of his eyes towards Huo TianQing as he, careful to enounciate every syllable demanded.

"Are you telling me to stop?"

Huo TianQing's face darkened too.

"That's right, I'm telling you to stop!" Huo TianQing coldly replied.

"You don't have the authority!" DuGu YiHe shouted in rage.

"I don't? Age-wise, I'm not up to par with you," Huo TianQing sneered. "But if we are going by stature and seniority, then Huo TianQing isn't any lower than DuGu YiHe!"

"What kind of stature and seniority do you have?" DuGu YiHe angrily demanded.

"I know you don't recognize me or know me, but surely you recognize this move."

He was standing face to face with DuGu YiHe, then suddenly he twisted his waist to the right and slightly spread his arms, "Phoenix Spreadings Its Wings", two fingers on his left hand were bent like the beak of the phoenix as they thrust towards DuGu YiHe's head.

DuGu YiHe's right palm shoots up sideways, towards his foe's wrist.

Suddenly, Huo TianQing's steps slid lightly and shot out sideways about a meter, his whole person ending up behind DuGu YiHe's right shoulder. The posture was still the same "Phoenix Spreading Its Wings", but his direction of the move had been completely and instantaneously altered as he was using his right hand to simulate the beak to attack the artery at the right base of DuGu YiHe's neck.

Even though this change looked simple, the ingenuity behind it was something that's impossible to describe using words.

"Fly, Twin Phoenix!" DuGu YiHe let it slip out of his mouth.

Even as he spoke, he suddenly twisted his body to the left and used his left palm to meet Huo TianQing's beak.

Huo TianQing exhaled, using the power of "Small Star" from within his palms to flip them outward.

"Pshhh!"

The two pairs of hands met and instantly, both men stopped moving.

Having already exhaled, Huo TianQing began to slowly speak.

"That's correct, that was exactly 'Fly, Twin Phoenix'. Once upon a time when Heaven Hunter visited E'Mei by himself and dueled with your master, the honorable Father Hu, at the top of E'Mei, he used this move, you probably saw it as a spectator didn't you?"

"That's right."

Even though DuGu YiHe only said those 2 words, his face seemed to have turned a shade green.

When masters exchange moves, once they begin using their inner strength to fight, they should not and could not talk.

But Heaven Hunter was an incredible martial arts genius, he created a type of inner strength where you could speak. And not only was there no damage to your inner strength when you talk, it actually allows the energy stored in your resevoir of inner strength to shoot out.

Huo TianQing's inner strength was learned under Heaven Hunter himself, and at this moment, he planned on using this very fact to defeat DuGu YiHe.

"The usual kungfu masters, when met with this move, would twist to the right and use their right palm to meet this move," Huo TianQing continued. "But Father Hu was indeed a master of his generation, he actually went against convention and met it with his left palm, do you know why?"

"If you meet with your right palm, even though it is quicker, your options would all be exhausted in what you could do; but if you meet with with your left palm, there would still be some left over energy and power that would let you change and adapt according to will...."

DuGu YiHe did not want to answer, but he did not want to show weakness either, when he got to there, he suddenly felt as if he could not keep up his breathing and had to stop.

"Correct, it was precisely because of that Heaven Hunter had to resort to such a confrontational move and fight in terms of inner strength, to effectively nullify his options...."

"How did you found out about this?" DuGu YiHe suddenly shouted, as if he did not want to hear him ramble on anymore.

"Simply because Heaven Hunter is my father."

DuGu YiHe's facial expression noticeably changed.

"Father Hu and my father were of the same generation, you probably know about this right?" Huo TianQing casually said.

DuGu YiHe's face changed from green to white and back to green again, not only could he not speak, he really did not have anything to say.

Heaven Hunter's seniority at the time was above everyone else, to say that he and Father Hu were of the same generation was giving Father Hu and enormous amount of face.

Even though DuGu YiHe was a proud man, he could not fly in the face of martial arts tradition.

"So you should by now, know who I am and what my stature is," Huo TianQing casually continued. "But I still got a couple of questions to ask you!"

DuGu YiHe gritted his teeth as sweat began to appear on his forehead.

"Why did you make Su ShaoYu change his name and pretend to be a student? You and Boss Yan had never had any contact before, how come you suddenly come barging in just after he dies?"

"These things have nothing to do with you."

"I can't ask these things?"

"You can't ask these things."

"Don't forget I am the warden of this place," Huo TianQing coldly reminded DuGu YiHe. "If I can't ask questions about matters around here, then who can?"

The sweat on DuGu YiHe's forehead were dropping like rain as the tiles below his feet all crack into little tiny pieces. Suddenly, he kicked up his right leg and grabbed his sword with his right hand.

But precisely at that instant, the force coming from Huo TianQing's palms disappeared as he, actually borrowing DuGu YiHe's energy, gently flew out.

DuGu YiHe instantly lost his center of gravity and was just about to fall over. Suddenly there was a flash of sword followed by a sound of sword hitting tile with sparks flying everywhere as the sword in his hand was driven into the tiles.

But Huo TianQing had disappeared.

The white curtains fluttered in the wind, the candles on the shrine table suddenly extinguished.

DuGu YiHe, leaning against the sword for support, facing the darkness, suddenly felt very tired. He was getting old after all.

Pulling out his sword and putting it back into its sheath, he slowly walked out; in the darkness, there seemed to be a pair of shining eyes coldly staring at him.

He looked up, and saw a person motionlessly standing beneath the white poplar tree in the yard, a person wearing all white, like the snow.

DuGu YiHe's hand went to his sword again.

"Who is it?" He demanded in a fierce voice.

That man did not answer, but countered with a question of his own.

"Yan DuHe?"

DuGu YiHe's face suddenly tightened.

The man in white had slowly walked out from the darkness and into the moonlight. His snow white cloths had nary a speck of dirt on them, his face was expressionless, and carried across his back was an odd shaped sword in a dark sheath.

DuGu YiHe's expression noticeably changed.

"XiMen ChuiXue?"

"Yes."

"Did you kill Su ShaoYing?" DuGu YiHe angrily demanded.

"I did kill him, but he did not deserve to die. The one who deserved to die is Yan DuHe!"

DuGu YiHe's pupils dilated.

"So if you are Yan DuHe, then I will kill you!" XiMen ChuiXue coldy spoke.

DuGu YiHe suddenly burst out in a mad laugh.

"You can't kill Yan DuHe, you can only kill DuGu YiHe."

"Oh?"

"If you killed DuGu YiHe, then your name would be famous throughout the land!"

"Good." XiMen ChuiXue sneered.

"Good?"

"It doesn't matter if you are a lonely crane or just a crane, I will kill you!"

{Note: another play on words that does not translate over. DuHe literally means "lonesome crane", while YiHe literally means "one crane".}

"Good." DuGu YiHe suddenly sneered too.

"Good?"

"It doesn't matter if you want to kill a lonely crane or just a crane, why don't you unsheath your sword?"

"Good, great!"

DuGu YiHe gripped the handle of his sword, he could only think of how it felt as if hands were colder than the sword itself. Not only was his hand cold, his heart was as well.

Famed reputation, powerful positions, even if he could give it all up now, he still could not get back all the energy he had just used up.

He was looking at XiMen ChuiXue, but he was think of Huo TianQing, he suddenly felt regret.

This was the first time that he really truly felt regret in his life, and it could possibly be the last time.

He suddenly really wanted to see Lu XiaoFeng, but he knew that Lu XiaoFeng would never show up at this moment.

He could only unsheath his sword.

Because he had no other choice at that moment.

Suddenly, there were clashes sword energy.

The wind grew even colder, so that when XiMen ChuiXue himself bleeds, the blood would be blown dry just the same....