LXF02-08 Print
Friday, 15 August 2008 22:05

Chapter 8 - Duel After Drinks



Starving for an entire day, tasting nothing but wind, was already a miserable thing. But the only thing more miserable than that is probably, while on the verge of passing out due to starvation, to be laughed at and called a big “idiot egg”.

But Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“I know plenty of people call me ‘idiot egg’, but there’s plenty of people who likes to call me by another name!”

“What name is that?” The girl in red asked.

“Big rooster!”

The girl in red blushed, blushed so much that her face was red like her clothes.

“Actually, he has another, even better name.” Ou Yang Qing suddenly interrupted.

“What name is that?” The girl in red immediately asked again, desperate to change the subject.

“Three Eggs Lu.”

“Three Eggs Lu?” The girl in red was puzzled. “What does that mean?”

“Very simple really,” Ou Yang Qing nonchalantly replied. “Because he’s not only a big idiot egg, he’s a bastard egg as well as a flat broke poor egg. Add it together, doesn’t that equal three eggs?”

“Oh my that is such a great name!” The girl in red was, once again, doubled over in laughter. “I have never heard of a name as good as that in my life!”

“Well, since you are all so hungry, why don’t you guys break those three eggs open and fry it for food?” Second Madame joined in the conversation as well with an unassuming smile.

“Because these three eggs aren’t that fresh anymore,” Ou Yang Qing replied. “They are rotten eggs as well.”

“Now I’m only worried about one thing!” Third Madame sighed.

“What’s that?” asked Ou Yang Qing.

“I’m worried that he’s not a duck egg, but a chicken egg!”

“That is really a very serious problem,” Ou Yang Qing nodded and replied with a straight face. “If he is a chicken egg, then a hen must have given birth to him, then isn’t he the little hen’s son?”

Even though the girl in red’s face was even redder, she was completely and hopelessly doubled over with laughter. Lu Xiao Feng did not laugh, but he did realize two things.

-You cannot afford to mess with women, especially women like Ou Yang Qing.

-A man arguing with six women would be like a gentry trying to talk logic with six soldiers, he might as well buy a huge piece of tofu and smash himself to death with it. He had already made one mistake, so he did not want to make a second one. The girl in red was still laughing. Not only was her laughter pleasing to the ear, it somewhat infectious. Whenever anybody hears the sound of her laughter, their heart would inevitably be filled with joy, and it would make them laugh along for a little. But Lu Xiao Feng did not laugh. He suddenly lunged forward and, quick as a flash, grabbed the girl in red’s arm and twisted it behind her.

“Watch out!” The Second Madame shouted.

As soon as those two words came out of her mouth, the girl in red threw her other elbow back towards Lu Xiao Feng’s ribs, along with three other types of weapons from both sides.

Their actions were fast, especially that green robed, white socked nun. A quick flash in her palms and a dagger was already flying towards him, its cold and sinister aura was so dense that it was hard for one to keep his eyes open. But too bad that Lu Xiao Feng was even faster, his chest and belly caved in slightly as both of his hands grabbed tightly onto the girl in red’s arm. The three weapons were flew out at the same time, and they stopped at the same time as well, their blades were no more than 10 centimeters away from the fatal points just under Lu Xiao Feng’s ribs.

But Lu Xiao Feng did not move, in fact, he did not even blink. Because he knew that those moves would never have continued on their ways. If his brother had fell into an enemy’s hands, he would not dare to be so imprudent in his actions either. The veins were bulging on the hand that the green clothed nun used to hold her sword. To pull a move like that to a completely stop uses up tremendously more energy than the move itself.

“Let go!” The nun viciously demanded, the tip of her blade trembling ever so slightly.

Lu Xiao Feng did not let go.

“I haven’t wronged you, why won’t you let go?” The girl in red asked, biting her lip, she could not laugh anymore.

Lu Xiao Feng still did not let go, nor did he reply.

“A big man like yourself picking on a little girl, have you no shame?” Ou Yang Qing coldly laughed, her sword already out of her sleeve.

Lu Xiao Feng was not ashamed of himself. His face did not turn pale nor did it turn red.

That glowing scimitar that Second Madame was holding had also been withdrawn from within her sleeve. It was not much longer than half a meter.

“Between our two swords and one sabre, we could poke dozens of holes in you at any given moment!” She threatened.

“If you don’t let go at this moment, we’ll make sure you die here!” Ou Yang Qing immediately added.

Lu Xiao Feng suddenly laughed.

“You don’t believe what we are saying?” Second Madame questioned him.

“I believe every word that every one of you have said,” Lu Xiao Feng answered with a smile, “but I don’t believe you will really make a move!”

“Oh really?” Second Madame coldly snickered.

“Because I’m sure you have all noticed, I’m not a gentleman!” Lu Xiao Feng casually observed.

“You are not even a man!” The nun viciously rebuked.

“So therefore, I am capable of quite a lot of things!”

“What are you planning to do to her?” The Second Madame’s expression changed noticeably.

“I really want to let her go!”

This reply was totally unexpected.

“Why aren’t you letting her go?” Second Madame immediately inquired.

“As soon as you promise me two things, I’ll let her go!”

Second Madame pondered for a bit.

“As long as you let her go, forget about two things, even if....”

The next portion of what she wanted to say was: “... even if it was two hundred things, I’ll comply!”

But Second Madame did not finish her sentence.

“Even if it was half a promise, we will never comply!” Third Madame, who had been quietly sitting in her seat this entire time, suddenly shouted.

Her voice was still that slow, that gentle, that tender. But by the time the final word came out of her mouth, she struck! Her strike was neither slow nor tender. Her weapon of choice was a whip, a glowing, ebony black, snake-like whip. While she was quietly and peacefully sitting there, she had secretly unwounded her whip under the table. When she struck with her whip, it flew in even faster than a snake, and even deadlier than the deadliest of snakes.

“Watch out for Seventh Sister!” Second Madame uttered in surprise.

But Third Madame did not seem to care. The tip of the whip curled like the head of a poisonous snake as it headed toward the fatal artery just below and behind Lu Xiao Feng’s ear. But Lu Xiao Feng had already slid out of the way, taking along with him the girl in red, they slid out about 3 meters. The Third Madame suddenly lept up in the air and sent her whip crashing down from above. She seemed to have completely forgotten that her Sister was completely at the mercy of her foe as her moves left no course of retraction. Lu Xiao Feng sighed to himself. He did not believe that such a quiet and proper lady as this Third Madame would be such an aggressive woman. He did not believe that she would actually attack.

Now that she had attacked, what could he possibly do to the girl in red? If he harmed her, then her sisters would surely fight him to the death. If he let her go, then her sisters would still fight him to the death. So the only thing left for him to do was to fight back! Other than that, he did not seem to have any other options. The whip from Third Madame just simply did not allow him to have another road to take.

Second Madame suddenly stomped her foot.

“Alright, let’s get rid of him first!”

“What about our Sister?” Ou Yang Qing asked.

“If he dares to touch one hair on our sister, I’ll cut off every piece of meat from his body off his bones piece by piece!”

During this simple exchange, Third Madame’s snapped her whip 20 times more. Lu Xiao Feng sighed again. He did not like seeing people bleed and especially detests seeing women bleed. But he was not able to keep dodging any longer, that whip was truly too fast, too fierce. He had to retaliate. Like a shooting rainbow, Second Madame’s scimitar came piercing in as well. Her moves were strange, but they were even more vicious than they were unorthodoxed.

Now that she had made a move, it was impossibly for Ou Yang Qing to not participate either. But it was at this precise moment, a “bang” could be heard as a wine cup hit her scimitar. A pair of chopsticks suddenly came in from the side and grabbed a hold of that snake-like whip. Ah-Tu!

That pair of chopsticks was, incredibly, in Ah-Tu’s hand!

The Third Madame’s complexion was a steely green as she glared at him.

“I don’t like to be forced by others!” She slowly said.

“I know,” replied Ah-Tu.

“If I fell into his hands, none of you needs worry about me and hold anything back either!”

“I know.”

“Then why aren’t you letting me attack?”

“Because even though he might not be a gentleman, he’s still a human being after all!”

“Huh?”

“At least he hasn’t used our Sister as a shield against your whip!”

Third Madame thought about it for a moment before slowly returning to her seat. Once again, she was properly and quietly sitting in her seat, not moving one bit. Second Madame sat down as well, holding her wrist in one hand. Even though she had held on to her scimitar, her wrist was numb with pain due to the wine cup. But there was nary a trace of indignation on her face. She seemed completely submissive towards this scab covered beggar. Lu Xiao Feng eyes were glowing.

“You were saying earlier about two promises that you wanted us to make?” Ah-Tu suddenly asked.

Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

“Why don’t you tell us the first one!”

“I was going to ask you to take me to First Madame Gong Sun!”

“And now?”

“Now that is needless!”

“Why?”

Lu Xiao Feng looked at him straight in the face.

“Because now I am already watching First Madame Gong Sun!”

Ah-Tu smiled. His smile looked very odd, it looked liked the smile of a mannequin.

“In all honesty, I should have figured out you were First Madame Gong Sun a long time ago,” Lu Xiao Feng sighed despite of himself. “Not only did I follow you for a day, I had seen you once before!”

“Actually, more than once!” Ah-Tu laughed.

“More than once?” Lu Xiao Feng was quite surprised by this revelation.

“That night in the WestGarden was not the first meeting between us!”

“Then where was our first meeting?” Lu Xiao Feng was even more puzzled.

Ah-Tu did not answer his question directly, but instead asked a question in return.

“Do you remember Huo Xiu?”

Of course Lu Xiao Feng remembers Huo Xiu.

“That day when you walked out from Huo Xiu’s little pavilion and was waiting at the foot of the hill for Hua Man Lou, did an old woman carrying a hand basket full of a freshly picked herbs walk by you?”

“That woman was you?” Lu Xiao Feng almost shouted.

Ah-Tu nodded.

“You were also there on that day?”

Again, Ah-Tu laughed a little.

“If I wasn’t there, then how is it that Huo Xiu is now trapped in that cage?”

Lu Xiao Feng was speechless. Only now, at this very moment, did he finally understand why Huo Xiu’s machine beneath the stone platform malfunctioned. It was not because a mouse had randomly found its way in and locked the machine up. There is nothing in the world that coincidental, and there is no such thing as miracles either. After all, miracles are nothing but creations of man!

“I knew that Huo Xiu was an old fox, but I wouldn’t have cared even if he had cut you up and sold you to the butcher,” Ah-Tu continued. “But he shouldn’t have sold Shang Guan Fei Yan as well.”

Of course, Shang Guan Fei Yan was one of her people as well. Lu Xiao Feng suddenly remembered that pair of red shoes with a flying swallow embroidered on them.

“He killed my sister, then he must die,” Ah-Tu nonchalantly concluded. “Even though he’s still alive at this moment, I think he would much rather be dead!”

“Did Xue-Er see you that day?” Lu Xiao Feng suddenly asked.

“That kid is truly a clever little devil,” Ah-Tu smiled. “After you two left, she immediately found her way to where the machinery under the stone platform was. She knew that there must be something down there!”

“She saw you?”

“No, she didn’t see him, but she did see the pair of red shoes that I left there!”

“And that’s why she thought that her sister wasn’t actually dead!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled sadly.

“In the end, she is still just a kid, she’s still too wishful in her thinking,” Ah-Tu sighed. “Those who died in Huo Xiu’s hands could never come back!”

“And that’s why you left Huo Xiu alive, you are leaving him to her!”

“Correct, I want her to get her revenge herself.”

“But I don’t get it, why would you leave all of Huo Xiu’s treasures to her? You look like you need that treasure very much as well!”

Ah-Tu’s eyes suddenly displayed a very odd expression.

“Pity that the amount that she could get from Huo Xiu is not much anymore.”

“Oh?”

“That treasure had long fallen into another’s hands, nobody could possibly hope to get a single tael of silver from this person’s hands!”

“Who is this person?” Lu Xiao Feng frowned. “And how did this huge treasure fall into this person’s hands?”

Ah-Tu stared off into the distance, her eyes filled with an indescribable color of terror.

“You had said you wanted us to promise you two things,” she suddenly changed the subject and coldly asked. “You have told us one, what is the other thing?”

“I want you to leave with me!”

“You want me to go with you?” Ah-Tu laughed again. “Have you fallen for me?”

“Indeed I have!”

“Have you fallen for that sugar roasted chestnut selling granny?” Ah-Tu asked, stilling chuckling. “Or this scab covered beggar?”

“I have fallen for another you!”

“You are talking about - the Embroidery Bandit?” Ah-Tu’s eyes flickered.

Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

“You think I’m the Embroider Bandit?”

“Do you deny it?”

“Looks like even if I deny it now, it would be of no use!” Ah-Tu sighed.

The facts were there, the evidences fit, what use could her denial have?

“Well, at least you had rescued me once,” Lu Xiao Feng sighed. “I’m not a person who forgets such things!”

“I know,” Ah-Tu plainly replied, “you are just an idiot egg!”

All Lu Xiao Feng could do was pretend he did not hear that.

“Are you planning to take me to Jin Jiu Ling for the punishment?”

“I guarantee that you will receive a fair and impartial trial and judgement!”

Suddenly, there was a “dong!” Second Madame’s scimitar had been spiked into the table. The green clothed known was holding the blade of her sword in her other hand. Ou Yang Qing’s expression was one of a cold snicker, and Jiang Qing Xia’s lips were pale.

“You want my big sister to go with you? Are you dreaming?” The girl in red suddenly began to laugh, her laughter now was no longer that joyous to listen to.

“He’s not dreaming,” Ah-Tu plainly declared after she had finished laughing. “I could very well leave with him!”

The girl in red was speechless, everyone was speechless. Even Lu Xiao Feng was caught off guard by what she just said.

“I like men who could get things done, men with abilities,” Ah-Tu slowly continued. “If a man with some real abilities show up, I would be willing to go anywhere with him.”

Someone was laughing.

This time it was Ou Yang Qing.

She was the first one to understand Ah-Tu’s meaning: “So if you want our big sister to leave with you, first you have to show us if you truly got what it takes!”

“I have quite a number of abilities,” Lu Xiao Feng smiled, “it’s just that I don’t know which particular ones are you looking for?”

“I only want to see three kinds!”

“Three kind?”

Ah-Tu stared at him, her pupils seemingly dilating.

“We will have three rounds, if you can beat me twice out of the three rounds, then I’ll go with you!”

“Best of three? This sounds quite interesting!”

“I guarantee it will be more interesting than you can hope for!”

Lu Xiao Feng’s eyes flickered.

“So what are we going to compete in the first round? Drinking?” He joked. He knew that she was not going to compete drinking with him. Only the dumbest of women would compete drinking with a man like him.

But Ah-Tu replied with a sentence that he could not have expected even in his wildest of dreams: “Ok! Drinking it is!”

Only when the wine was placed on the table did Lu Xiao Feng realize that he just did another very dumb thing. At the moment, he was tired like an old ox and starving like a crippled wolf. What he needed to drink most right now is a huge bowl of chicken soup, but instead he asked for a drinking contest.

Drink is not that different from any other activity, it requires energy. Besides, at the moment, it was not a big deal for First Madame Gong Sun to get drunk, but he could ill afford to be, this place is crawling with First Madame Gong Sun’s people. In reality, he should not even think about touching just a drop of alcohol. But there were six jugs of wine on the table now. Six jugs of Song of Huzhou.

By now, the scabs and scars on “Ah-Tu”‘s body was no where to be found, nor was he bald anymore. “He” had just changed into a soft and fluffy outfit, there was some slight make up on “her” face. Appearance-wise, she looked just like an ordinary middle aged house wife. Could this be her real appearance? Lu Xiao Feng could not tell, nor could he guess. Nobody knows what First Madame Gong Sun really looked like. Even her voice could change at any given moment. At the moment, her voice was one of a diligent hostess entertaining her guest.

“Six jugs of wine for 2 people to drink,” she smiled as she stared at Lu Xiao Feng, “do you think this would be enough?”

“I think it would be enough for 2 horses,” Lu Xiao Feng shot back a miserable smile, “pity the food to help the wine go down isn’t much to talk about!”

There was still only that small plate of cold vegetables on the table.

“There isn’t enough food, that is true,” First Madame Gong Sun smiled. “Luckily, we are having a drinking contest, not an eating one!”

Of course, she knew that when one drinks on an empty stomach, the amount of alcohol one can drink reduces to by at least one fold; and right now Lu Xiao Feng’s stomach is empty like a beggar’s wallet. After just three bowls of wine, he was already feeling something was not right; after 6 bowls, he suddenly began to feel as if he was doing alright, two more bowls, and he discovered that he was almost fighting the urge to gorge himself silly with wine. Then, for some unknown reason, he suddenly discovered that he was puking, puking so hard that he was sure he was puking all of his innads out.

“You are drunk!” First Madame Gong Sun was still as sober and collected as Guan Zhong. “You lost this round!”

Lu Xiao Feng wanted to refute that, yet he could not, so all he could many was some quite mumbles in response.

“I don’t feel drunk at all, it’s just that my stomach is feeling a bit uncomfortable!”

“Are you not admitting defeat?”

“Alright I’ll admit it, what’s the big deal!”

Of course, it was no big deal. In his mind right now, there was nothing in the world that is of great importance. Besides, so he lost the first round, there was still two rounds left. But he forgot one thing. Losing this round has ensured that he has also lost the next two rounds as well. The only thing that a drunk man can compete with other people in is sleeping. Obviously, First Madame Gong Sun was not going to have a sleeping contest with him.

“For the second round, we’ll have a sword duel!” First Madame Gong Sun casually declared.

“Alright, a sword duel!” Lu Xiao Feng puffed out his chest. “What’s the big deal?”

“Good, please wait here while I go change!” First Madame Gong Sun asked.

“You are changing again?”

“Mm!”

“Are we having a duel or are we having a fashion competition?”

“See, you just don’t understand, when dueling, one must wear an outfit for dueling!”

“Why?”

First Madame Gong Sun smiled.

“Because one’s clothing can affect one’s disposition, one’s demeanor; and also because women naturally like to change!”

Lu Xiao Feng was now no longer hungry nor tired. Alcohol can usually give people a strange kind of energy and strength. But this surge of energy and strength is a deceiving kind - even if it could not fool anyone else, it could at least be used to fool one’s self. He was suddenly reminded of those “Drunken Masters” that was a part of the folklores of the martial world. Rumors say that these people “only fight well when they are drunk, and the more they drink the better they fight.”

The stories says that the tiger killing Wu Song of the legendary Heroes of the Water Margins was one such of a man. If he drank one jug of wine, he would have one “jug” worth of fighting ability, if he drank 10 jugs of wine, then he would be 10 times better. Right now, Lu Xiao Feng felt as if he had drank about 10 jugs of wine. He suddenly felt a great surge of confidence in himself, as if his own ability had improved 10 folds. Even if he was attacked by 7 or 8 tigers now, he was sure that he would be able to beat every single one of them to death. Pity that what he faces now was not tigers but First Madame Gong Sun. When true masters duel, one’s timing, positioning, and decision making must not be off by even the slightest of margins.

Could Lu Xiao Feng still make the correct decisions and judgements at this moment? From the looks of him, he was having a hard time deciding whether or not this room was round or square. Until now, Jiang Qing Xia had not said half a word to him, but at the moment, the look in her eyes carried with them a hint of sympathy and sadness, as if she was watching a person that was about to die soon. Other than the Third Madame, the looks in the eyes of all those present was similiar to hers.

Lu Xiao Feng stared at Third Madame for a moment before suddenly bursting out with a smile.

“If I lose, could it be ok if I cut off my ears and give them to you?”

“I already told you, I’m not looking for ears anymore!” Third Madame quietly replied.

“Oh that’s right, you are now looking for tongues!”

“But I don’t want your tongue!”

“Then what do you want?”

“I want your head!”

“Alright!” Lu Xiao Feng leaned back and heartily laughed. “If I lose, then I will hand this head of mine over to you!”

To him, whether someone had a head or not did not seem that important. Now, when Jiang Qing Xia looked at him, it was as if she was looking at a headless person, even the look from that girl in red showed some pity. Anybody could easily see that this four browed drunk was going to lose this next round!

But Lu Xiao Feng was still looking for some more wine. The wine jugs were on the table in front of him, yet he still did not see them. This was because his eyes had practically jumped out of their sockets, for someone had just stepped out from the back. It was a woman. A beautiful woman, a woman more dazzling than the sunrise, more graceful than a queen, more heavenly than an angel. Even the clothes was wearing did not seem to be made by human hands but was instead created by raveling together the colors and the other worldly glow of the rainbows in the sky.

Lu Xiao Feng did not recognize this woman, for never in his life had he seen such a woman of such beauty and grace. Fortunately, he still recognized the swords in her hands, a pair of short, almost dagger-like swords with blades about 20 centimeters long and a sash of red silk tied to each handle. Could she be First Madame Gong Sun? The same person as that ordinary middle aged house wife just a earlier? The same person as that scab covered beggar, that sugar roasted chestnut selling granny? Lu Xiao Feng was rubbing his eyes. He almost could not believe what he seeing in front of him.

First Madame Gong Sun was staring back at him, smiling.

“Do you not recognize me anymore?”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed.

“There is just one thing I can’t figure out!”

“What is that?”

“I can’t figure out why a woman as beautiful as you would want to dress up like a old granny. If I were you, I wouldn’t do that even if I had a knife up against my neck!”

“Well how do you know that this is my true appearance?”

“I don’t know, I’m actually just hoping really!”

“Why is that?”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed again.

“Because if I have to die in someone’s hands, my only wish is for me to die in the hands of someone like you.”

“Well you really do know how to sweet talk a lady don’t you?” First Madame Gong Sun coquettishly replied. “Even my heart is getting close to being swept away.”

She gracefully approached him, the rainbow colored outfit of hers swayed to some unfelt breeze, looking like hundreds of thousands of strands of dancing silk.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed yet again.

“Next time I get in a sword duel, I’ll make sure to dress up in an outfit like yours!”

“Oh?”

“You haven’t even made a move yet, and my eyes are already getting blurred!”

“My heart is swept away, your eyes are blurred, I guess that makes us even!”

“Not quite!”

“No?”

“You have a pair of swords in your hand, all I’ve got is a handful of sweat!”

“Where’s your sword?”

“I don’t carry a sword!”

“You carry a sabre?”

“No, don’t carry that either.”

“A person like you? Not carrying any weapons when he goes out?” First Madame Gong Sun sighed. “That’s really quite dangerous!”

“It is very dangerous, especially today.”

“Do you want to borrow a sword?”

“Yes.”

“Who do you want to borrow from?”

Lu Xiao Feng turned and smiled toward the Nun in Green.

First Madame Gong Sun sighed again.

“Turns out he’s not really drunk, he knows his stuff.”

This sword was not that long either, but it almost seemed to glow. The sword’s aura was forboding and oppressive. Just the slightest flick of a thumb caused it to ring endlessly.

“Such an excellent sword!” Lu Xiao Feng could not help but praise it as he gripped the sword in his hand.

“Shame that this sword would today be in the hands of a soon to be dead drunkard!” The Nun in Green coldly observed.

Lu Xiao Feng laughed.

“The drunkard truly is a drunkard, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that soon to be dead part!”

By now they had made their way down the pavilion and into the yard outside. Star light twinkled through spaces between the leaves of that huge ginkgo tree and onto Lu Xiao Feng’s face. That drunk look had suddenly and completely vanished from his eyes, he looked as sober as Zhu Ge Liang.

“You are not drunk?” Second Madame uttered in disbelief.

Lu Xiao Feng did not refute her claim.

“If you weren’t drunk, then why did you admit defeat?” Second Madame pressed.

Lu Xiao Feng let out a little smile.

“If I didn’t admit defeat first round, I would have surely lost this second round, and forget the third round!”

“Looks like this guy isn’t really an idiot egg,” Second Madame sighed.

“But he is truly a bastard egg!” The girl in red viciously sniped, biting her lip.

“Even if you did admit defeat the first round, you still might not win this second round!” First Madame Gong Sun casually observed.

As soon as she finished her sentence, she made her move. Flashes of sword danced about as those multi-colored strands of silk she was wearing began to dance as well. Her entire being seemed to have turned into a dazzling and blinding sunrise, making it almost impossible for one to keep one’s eyes open, much less trying to make out where she was or where her swords were. If one cannot even make out where she was, how was one suppose to see her moves?

During his first encounter with her, Lu Xiao Feng already knew that her moves and techniques were unpredictable and ever changing, to a point where they were almost more frightening than Xi Men Chui Xue’s moves. But only now did he know that last time her techniques were nowhere close to being at their full power. It seemed that the power of this type of technique could only be on full display when used with a multi-colored outfit like this. It had been said that these sword and sashes are not “weapons” but a name for an ancient dance where the dancer dance empty handed, twirling the sashes in air, and that it was only until First Madame Gong Sun did someone take this strictly spectacle dance and, by adding numerous changes, turned it into a true fighting technique that could be used to kill!

Maybe she did not use swords when she danced in front Emperor Sheng Wen Shen Wu out of her fear that the aura of her swords would frighten His Majesty. But in private, she really did create a sword style, turning the “sword and sash” truly into a type of sword.

Since this type of sword style was derived from a dance, it would obviously be different from all other sword styles. That was why First Madame Gong Sun purposefully changed into this outfit today, even if it revealed what appeared to be her real appearance. Because the true power of this sword style could only be displayed through “beauty”, and only a legendary beauty like herself could wield this style to its zenith!

Lu Xiao Feng’s heart sighed. It was only until now that he realized that the secrets of martial arts was not something that could be imagined by any one person.

Because this style of sword play was truly too unpredictable, its moves truly too complex, once it starts, it felt just like mercury as it seemed to bore into any and every opening! Even the slightest opening, the slightest mistake in his decisions, or the slightest lapse in concentration could lead to his immediate death! If he wanted to win, he had to rely on just one word!

Speed! Use speed to cut through chaos, use no change to answer ever-change. As soon as First Madame Gong Sun began to make her move, his body had already took off as he flew towards the roof top opposite where they were.

“He’s running away!” the girl in red shouted.

Before she even finished saying those three words, Lu Xiao Feng took off again, his being and his sword seemed to have melted into one. The flashes of his sword was like a horse whip, like a rainbow, as it fell towards First Madame Gong Sun from all the way atop the rooftop. The glow of his sword flickered wildly but hurriedly, but there was no change in his move and it almost seemed as if he did not even have an exit move. He had actually transfered all the energy and power in his body into this one strike. --- No change, no variation, sometimes that is also the best variation of all.

First Madame Gong Sun’s body was like the evening glow, her swords were like meteors, yet she still did not have enough time to react. All of the sudden, her body and swords all seemed to have been covered in the shroud of the aura of Lu Xiao Feng’s strike.

“Deng!”

The sound echoed through the night.

The sword flashes converged and the silky evening covered the sky as scores of sashes on First Madame Gong Sun’s outfit were sliced off.

Nobody moved, nobody made any sound.

First Madame Gong Sun had already stopped moving, she motionlessly stood there, not attacking anymore. Lu Xiao Feng stopped attacking as well, he was also motionlessly standing there, staring at First Madame Gong Sun.

“This round isn’t over yet!” Second Madame suddenly shouted. “Why did you two stop?”

“If this round was a killing contest, then obviously it isn’t over,” Lu Xiao Feng casually replied. “But if this round was a sword duel, then I’ve already won!”

First Madame Gong Sun finally let out a long sigh.

“True, the power of that strike is something that I cannot defeat!”

“Many thanks.”

“But I could have never suspected that you could have pulled off such a move.”

Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“Actually, I had just stolen that move!”

“Where did you steal it from?”

“Master of WhiteCloudCastle.”

“Ye Gu Cheng?” First Madame Gong Sun was visibly shocked by the answer.

Lu Xiao Feng nodded.

“This strike is called ‘Outer Heaven Angel’, it’s the essense of Master of White Cloud Castle’s sword style, even the Wooden Taoist believes that it could be rightfully called the best sword skill in the world!”

First Madame Gong Sun sighed.

“This move is made before the move actually starts, its application left for after the move is made, it uses hardness to emulate softness, uses no variation as variation.” She observed. “It could truly be called the best sword skill in the world!”

“If Master of White Cloud Castle could have heard First Madame say that himself, he would no doubt be very pleased!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“But had this move been pulled off by him, it might not have beaten me!” First Madame Gong Sun coldly replied.

“Why not?” Lu Xiao Feng could not resist his curiosity.

“Because he is an unmatched master swordsman, before he even made a move, I would have already been on guard for a move. But just then, when you had jumped onto the ridge of the roof, I had thought that you were trying to escape instead, hence my concentration slipped, hence I couldn’t block the strike you made with all the strength in your body!”

“And also because I didn’t even carry a sword,” Lu Xiao Feng smiled and added. “You probably didn’t think I was capable of such a move!”

“That is why softness can defeat hardness or how the weak can defeat the strong, it is the same principle!” First Madame Gong Sun sighed.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed as well.

“Luckily I’m not a famous swordsman at all, or else I might have really died in your hands today!”

“But you haven’t won yet!” First Madame Gong Sun’s expression darkened. “We still have the third round!”

The third and deciding round!

“What do you want to compete in the third round?” Lu Xiao Feng asked.

“Qing-Gong, lightness arts!”

Lu Xiao Feng let out a little laugh.

“I know that lightness kungfu is your specialty; besides, you are a man and naturally have a strength advantage over me.” First Madame Gong Sun added. “Competing against you in this with you definitely puts me at a disadvantage, so....”

“So I should cut you some slack and let you get a little advantage as well!” Lu Xiao Feng finished for her.

“You should at least let me get an early start!”

“No problem!”

“But if you catch me, then you’d have won, so you are not really getting the short end of the stick here anyways.”

“I’m not a person who does things that gives himself the short end of the stick!”

“I’ll order someone to hit the gong once as a signal, you can only start chasing once the gong stops ringing!”

“The gong is only hit once?”

“Just once.”

“Looks like I’m not really getting the short end of the stick after all!”

“But I just have to....”

“Of course you have to go change!” Lu Xiao Feng eagerly finished her sentence for her. “There’s an outfit for drinking, an outfit for dueling, of course there has to be another outfit for racing.”

First Madame Gong Sun let out a peal of laughter.

“You really aren’t an idiot, not at all!” She said coquettishly.

The night was as cold as water. The expressions on the sisters’ faces were cold like water too -- like frozen water.

The girl in red suddenly let out a bitterly cold snicker.

“Lying about being drunk, then stealing other’s moves, I despise this kind of man the most.”

Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“I wasn’t trying to make you like me to begin with!”

“I just want to ask you, are you a real man or not?”

“Can’t you tell?”

“I can’t tell.”

“I figured you wouldn’t be able to,” Lu Xiao Feng sighed, “you are still just a kid!”

The girl in red shot him a vicious look before swiftly turning around and walking off, as if she could not be bothered with him anymore.

Ou Yang Qing’s eyes flickered slightly.

“Well you can’t dismiss me as a mere kid can you?” She asked.

“Of course you are not a kid, you are almost old enough to be a granny.”

Ou Yang Qing also shot him a vicious look before turning and walking off into the pavilion.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed and took a seat on the stone steps.

“If a man lives to be sixty, at least 10 years of his life would have been a total waste.” He mumbled to himself.

“How is it wasted?” Second Madame’s curiosity got the better of her.

“Of those 10 years, at least 5 years is wasted waiting for women to change.”

“And the other 5 years?”

“You sure you want to hear it?”

“Are you scared to say it?”

Lu Xiao Feng sighed again.

“Well, if you must know, I’ll tell you. The other 5 years are wasted waiting for women to take them off.”

Second Madame’s face flush red with fury while the nun in green’s face turned white in anger.

“I changed my mind!” Third Madame suddenly declared.

“Changed your mind about what?” This time it was Lu Xiao Feng’s curiosity that got the best of him.

“I have decided that I want to cut off you tongue instead!” Third Madame coldly answered. At this time, a man in a green shirt with a faceful of beard came walking out of the pavilion carrying a gong in his hand and stopped on the stone steps.

“I guess my luck isn’t that bad after all.” Lu Xiao Feng mumbled to himself again. “At least I’m waiting for First Madame to change, if I was waiting for someone else, that could have been really bad!”

“Someone else?” Third Madame shot him a vicious look.

“I didn’t say you, what are you getting all worked up over?” Lu Xiao Feng replied.

Third Madame’s face was turning red and white in anger as well now. At this moment, the gong suddenly rang as 3 people flew out from within the pavilion.

The three beings were all dressed in identical black outfits, even their faces looked the same. As soon as they flew out the building, they somersaulted once and shot out in three different directions. The techniques the 3 of them used were the same as well. Before the ringing of the gong had stopped, all three were outside of the walls surrounding the yard. Which one was the real First Madame Gong Sun? -- The girl in red and Ou Yang Qing had pretended to get mad just moments before strictly so they could go back in and dress up as the two decoys. Who should Lu Xiao Feng chase after? No matter which one he chooses to chase after, even if he caught up to her, he would have surely lost the other 2.

And of those 2 that he lost, it is more than likely that one of them was First Madame Gong Sun. This was like the old shell game, except much harder. Lu Xiao Feng was at a lost as to what to do.

Second Madame, Third Madame, and the nun in green all had a slither of a cold sneer on their faces -- Lu Xiao Feng still fell into a trap this time.

Lu Xiao Feng sighed as well.

“Looks like I still fell for her tricks this time!” He miserably smiled as he stood up and mumbled. “Well no matter what, let’s catch one and go from there!”

He took off, but suddenly, and just as quickly, flew back and, in a blink of an eye, grabbed the wrist of the man carrying the gong.

“Bang!”

The gong fell onto the ground as the man was startled by this turn of events.

“What did you do that for?” He asked in a raspy voice.

“Not for any particular reason,” Lu Xiao Feng smiled. “I just want to take you to meet someone!”

“Who?”

“Jin Jiu Ling!”

The man stared at him, stared at him for a long time before suddenly bursting out in laughter, beautiful laughter that sounded like the orioles chirping.

“Lu Xiao Feng truly is Lu Xiao Feng, even I’m impressed!”

Turned out that this gong carrying man was the real First Madame Gong Sun.

“How did you see through my disguise?”

Nobody could figure out how Lu Xiao Feng had saw through it all.

“When Miss Ou Yang got mad and walked back inside, I knew something was wrong!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

“Why is that?”

“Because she’s not the type of person whom I could chase off in anger with just one sentence!”

“Three women went in and three women came back out, how did you know that I wasn’t among those three?”

“I didn’t.”

“You didn’t?”

“I only know that a grown man with a faceful of beard shouldn’t smell this good!”

First Madame Gong Sun sighed.

“Seems like I shouldn’t have stood this close to you,” she observed with an exasperrated smile, “it is really quite dangerous for a woman to get too close to you!”

“Especially a woman who smells as good as you!” Lu Xiao Feng smiled.

First Madame Gong Sun let out a peal of laughter.

“But I could have never thought that you would be like a little puppy, not only could you use your eyes, but your nose as well!”

“This is also something that I have only recently picked up from someone else!”

“From Hua Man Lou?”

“Correct.”

“Seems like anybody else’s good traits would get picked up by you in no time!” First Madame Gong Sun sighed.

“That’s because I’m always very modest.”

“A modest person would always have good fortunes!” First Madame Gong Sun nodded.

“That’s why all of you should be a little modest right now and listen to what I have to say!”

“We are all listening!” First Madame Gong Sun assured him.

“Now that you have fallen into my hands, if your sisters want you to stay safe and sound, then they would do best to stay here for instructions.” His eyes slowly scanned over Second Madame and Third Madame’s faces before coldly continuing. “If someone still want to try something, then that means she wants you to die sooner so she could take over and be the head of this place.”

“Don’t worry, nobody here wants me to die!” First Madame Gong Sun smiled and replied.

Third Madame suddenly stomped her foot despite of her cold demeanor.

“Do you really intend to leave with him?”

“You should know that I’m not a person who would go back on my words,” First Madame Gong Sun casually replied. “Besides, even if I didn’t want to leave with him, I would still have to. As soon as this man grabs a hold of a woman, he wouldn’t let go even if it killed him.”

“Especially a woman as pretty and smelled as good as you.” Lu Xiao Feng nonchalantly added.

“Right now, I just want you to be careful of one thing!” First Madame Gong Sun said.

“What’s that?”

“Careful your hands don’t get cut off!”


 

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