This book was one of Gu Long’s later works. It was serialized in China Daily from September 1976 to February 1977.
The Jasper Villa wanted to select a suitable son-in-law amongst the four renowned gentlemen of Wulin. When three gentlemen became victims of an evil scheme, Ma Rulong was accused of being the culprit. Being cornered, Ma Rulong escaped and must find a way to clear his name and find out who was the real mastermind.
Righteous Blood Cleansing the Silver Spear
It was said in these three hundred years; the luckiest man in Jianghu was Duan Yu, the eldest son of the Duan family in Jintan.
In Jintan, the Duan family was an influential family. In Jianghu, the Duan family had a celebrated reputation and was a noble Wulin family.
Although their traditional family’s sabre techniques were rather gentle and soft, contains no vicious or devious stance, and didn’t stray from conventional means; these techniques were full of strength, extremely profound, and contain extraordinary power. Their sabre techniques were like Duan Yu himself; though not fearful, it commanded respect.
Their family legacy weapon was the “Jasper Sabre” (Biyu Dao). It was also a legendary weapon with a grand history. However, the story we are telling is not the story of the Jasper Sabre.
In Jianghu, there was another treasure called the “Jasper Hairpin” (Biyu Chai). Jasper Sabre will bring to its owner, luck and prosperity. On the other hand, the Jasper Hairpin will lead to misfortunes and disasters.
It was said, whoever owns the Jasper Hairpin will be immediately plagued with disasters. It was said, its owner would always be struck down by sudden death. There was no exception.
In Jianghu, there were many stories about the Jasper Hairpin. Some were close to becoming mythical; filled with supernatural and evil elements. This, I must say, is also not the story about the Jasper Hairpin.
The story we are telling is about the “Jasper Pearl” (Biyu Zhu).
What is the Jasper Pearl? a person? a weapon? a treasure? or a mystical pill?
Chapter 1: Four Young Gentlemen
Severe winter. It was bitterly cold in the snow valley.
Thousands of miles were covered in snow and the land was completely white. One person was digging a pit on the snow ground. This pit was three feet wide, five chi deep, and seven chi long.
He was young, healthy, tall, and handsome with signs of proper upbringing. He was wearing a mink coat that was worth a thousand gold and held a pair of glimmering silver spears. The spear shaft was pure silver with the following five words carved onto it:
“Phoenix City, Silver Spear, Qiu.”
Such a person originally did not dig a pit. Such a pair of spears was not supposed to be used for digging.
This place was a beautiful valley. The sky was clear blue, the snow was silvery white, and the plum blossom was bright red.
He came on a horse and had ridden a long way. The horse was a pure-breed Ferghana colt. It was a noble and spirited horse. It had a vivid saddle and bridle, and even the stirrup was made of pure silver.
Why would such a person, who was riding this type of horse and using this type of weapon, come here to dig a pit?
The pit was finally finished. He lay down in the pit. It seemed like he wanted to examine how big this pit was and whether he could comfortably lie down inside. Did he dig this pit for himself?
Only a dead person would have use for such a pit. He was young and healthy. It looked like he could still live for several decades. Why would he dig such a pit for himself? Could it be that he wanted to die? He seemed to be living well, why would he want to die? And why did he have to pick this place to die?
The snowing stopped yesterday night. The weather was clear and cold. He took off the saddle, gently patted the horse, and said, “You go now. Go find a good master.” The horse neighed softly and rushed away from this snow-covered valley. He sat on the horse saddle and looked upward to the blue sky. Lost in thoughts, his eyes carried a hint of unspeakable sorrow and grief.
At this time, a group of people appeared. Some carried boxes of food, some carried tables and chairs, and some even carried two jugs of wine, and walked into the valley. The person in the front, who looked like a restaurant waiter, came and asked, “Excuse me, young master. Is this Winter Plum Valley?”
The pit-digging young man nonchalantly nodded. He did not even look at them.
This person again asked, “Did the eldest young master of the Du family invite you here?” The pit-digging youth did not even pay attention to him.
This person let out a sigh, and abashedly said to himself, “I just do not understand why Young Master Du wants us to bring the food and wine to this place?”
Another person laughed, “Young noble masters from rich family have the strange temperament. Of course, poor wretches like us wouldn’t understand. “
These people set up the table and chairs under the plum tree, arranged several dishes of food and cups of wine, and then left. After half a day, a person outside the valley suddenly made out a drawn-out noise.
There really were bells ringing. One person rode on a young donkey and another rode on a white horse and entered the valley. The one riding the donkey had a pale white complexion. He looked sick but still had a warm smile, and graceful manners, and dressed luxuriously.
The other person was carrying a long sword on his waist, wore a silver fox fur cap and silver fox coat, and was dressed entirely in silvery white. He was riding on a tall and magnificent white horse. He was looking around and had an air of arrogance. He did have reasons to be arrogant. There were not many beautiful men like him in the world.
The pit-digging young man was still sitting here. Lost in his world, it seemed like he did not even notice them.
They also did not recognize him either.
These three young people were not the same. The latter two came to this snowy place looking for the plum blossom, and to admire the flower and drink wine. The pit-digging youth came here waiting for death.
The wine was under the flower. The sickly-looking youth poured a cup of wine, drank it, and said, “Good wine.”
The flowers in front of the wine had already blossomed. He drank another cup and said, “Good flower!” The flowers were radiant next to the snow; the red looked redder and the white looks whiter. He raised the cup again and said, “Good snow.” After three cups, his pale white face was showing signs of redness. He seemed very leisurely, high-spirited, and vigorous.
Though his body was indeed weak and sickly, he can still enjoy and appreciate all the beautiful things in life. He seemed to be interested in everything, therefore also lived an interesting life.
The beautiful young man that rode the white horse wore the fox coat, carried the long sword had a calm and somber face. He did not seem to be interested in anything.
The sickly-looking noble gentleman smiled and said, “Such beautiful snow, such beautiful flower, such good wine. How come you don’t drink a cup?”
The beautiful young man said, “I never drink wine.”
A noble gentleman said, “You came here and you don’t even drink. Wouldn’t you be wasting such a beautiful snow valley and these thousands of plum blossoms?”
The beautiful young man coldly said, “No matter where I am, I don’t drink wine.”
The noble gentleman sighed and mumbled, “This person is truly a layman, killing the mood. How did I even have a friend like him?”
The pit-digging young man was still lost in thoughts. The noble gentleman suddenly stood up, walked around his pit, and said, “Good pit.” The young man then dug the pit ignored him. The noble gentleman said, “The pit is well dug.” The pit-digging young man ignored him.
The Noble gentleman simply walked in front of him. He asked, “Did you dig this pit?”
The pit-digging young man could not ignore him and answered, “Yes.”
The Noble gentleman said, “I have been saying you’ve dug this pit well. Do you know what I mean?”
The pit-digging young man said, “You want me to drink with you.”
The Noble gentleman laughed and said, “Not only can you dig a pit well but you understand people well too.”
The pit-digging young man said, “Unfortunately, I will not drink.”
The Noble gentleman stopped laughing and asked, “You also never drank alcohol before?”
The pit-digging young man replied, “When I am in the mood to drink, I will drink. When I am not, I will not drink.”
The Noble gentleman asked, “How come you will not drink right now?”
The pit-digging young man replied, “Because I am not in the mood to drink right now.”
The Noble gentleman not only did not get angry but instead laughed, “I know who you are now. I’ve always heard, the Silver Spear gentleman, Qiu Fengcheng, temper is like his spear, straight and stiff. You must be Qiu Fengcheng.”
The pit-digging young man ignored him again.
The Noble gentleman said, “My surname is Du, the name is Du Qinglian.” Qiu Fengcheng was still ignoring him, as if he had never heard of this name before.
Actually, he had heard of this name before. For those roaming in Jianghu, very few people had ever heard of this name.
In Wulin, there were four young gentlemen: Silver Spear, White Horse, Red Leaf, and Green Lotus. Among this generation of youngsters in Jianghu, there was no one with talents that could surpass them. Although they were not acquainted with each other, Qiu Fengcheng should recognize the name Du Qinglian. He also knows that the beautiful young man that rode the white horse, wear a fox coat, and carried long sword was a White Horse young gentleman, Ma Rulong16. However, he still pretended he did not know.
Du Qinglian sighed and said, “Looks like you are determined not to drink today.”
Suddenly, a voice outside the valley yelled, “They don’t want to drink. I’ll drink.”
The wine drinker came. The time after the snow stopped was colder than when it was snowing. Even though they wore fur coats, they still felt cold. This person was only wearing thin silk garments. Although the material was not bad, it was definitely not the type of clothing to wear in this type of weather. So he was trembling. Although it was really cold, he was actually holding a folding fan.
There were wine bottles and wine cups on the table. He rushed over here, lifted up a wine jug, and drank directly from it. After a large gulp, he let out a breath and said, “Great wine.” Du Qinglian laughed.
After taking another large gulp, he said, “Not just great wine; great flowers and even the snow is great.” After three large gulps, he was no longer shivering and even his face liven up.
Although this person was poor, he was not obnoxious. He could even be considered a very likable person. He had a beautiful and delicate face. When he smiled, there were two dimples. Du Qinglian was starting to think, the person was quite cute and interesting.
This person said, “Such mood and atmosphere at such time, those who do not drink really should…”
Du Qinglian asked, “Should what?”
This person said, “Should be spanked.”
Du Qinglian laughed heartily. The pit-digging young man still showed no interest in that person and that matter on his mind. Even though other people are in front of him, it was as if they were not there. On other matters, he couldn’t care less.
Ma Rulong furrowed and seemed to be agitated, but he had not done anything yet. It was not because he was afraid. It was merely because of his disdain of stooping to the level of these people.
However, this person went directly to him, lift the wine jug, and said, “ Come, you have a drink too.”
Ma Rulong coldly said, “You are not worthy.”
This person said, “What kind of people would be worthy to drink with you?”
Ma Rulong, “What kind of person are you?”
This person did not answer and simply opened his fan. There were seven words written on it. The characters were well-written and elegant, just like him.
“Autumn leaves are redder than February flowers.”
Although the person was lowly and poor, his fan was rather refined. The seven words on the fan were, without a doubt, the work of an expert calligrapher.
Du Qinglian raised the cup and heartily said: “Great characters.”
This person lifted the wine jug, drank a large gulp, and said, “Your taste is also pretty good.”
Du Qinglian asked, “Who wrote these characters?”
This person said, “Other than me, who else could’ve written these flawless characters?”
Du Qinglian laughed and said, “Now I also know who you are.”
This person said, “Oh?”
Du Qinglian said, “Other than Shen Hongye, who else can be as conceited as you?”
Amongst Wulin’s four young gentlemen: the proudest one was “White Horse” Ma Rulong; the headstrong one was “Silver Spear” Qiu Fengcheng; the most spirited one was, of course, Du Qinglian; and the most conceited one was Shen Hongye.
Ma, Qiu, and Du were rich, powerful and distinguished families. White Horse, Silver Spear, and Green Lotus were famous and recognized noble gentlemen. Red Leaf’s origin was a mystery.
It was said, he was the descendent of previously world’s number one hero, Shen Lang.
It was said that “Little Li Tanhua” best friend, the world’s fastest sword “A-Fei”, was his ancestor.
A-Fei’s past was already a mystery, so Shen Hongye’s past was also a mystery. He never told anyone about his origin. Everyone considered him to be part of the four young gentlemen mainly because he grew up in the Ye family.
The Ye family was Ye Kai’s family. Ye Kai was Little Li Flying Dagger’s only disciple. — Who is Little Li Flying Dagger? Who doesn’t know?
Wulin’s four young gentlemen had now gathered together, but they did not plan to meet up here.
This place was several thousand li away each of their home. Even if Du Qinglian was in a good mood, he would not have traveled several thousand li to this place just for flowers and wine.
Qiu Fengcheng would not travel several thousand li just to die. If a person wants to die, any place would have sufficed. Why would he come here? What was he doing here?
Ma Rulong coldly and silently sat here. His attitude did not change after hearing the name Shen Hongye but his hand was drawing closer to his sword’s handle. He gazed at Shen Hongye and suddenly said:, “Very good.”
Shen Hongye asked, “What is very good?”
Ma Rulong said, “It’s very good that you are Shen Hongye.”
Shen Hongye asked, “Why?”
Ma Rulong said, “Originally I thought you are not worthy. Not worth me drawing my sword. My sword never touches the insignificant.”
Shen Hongye asked: “How about now?”
Ma Rulong said: “Shen Hongye is not insignificant. So if you said anything skittish and rude, between me and you, one would be a corpse with blood spilling everywhere.”
Shen Hongye sighed, bitterly smiled, and said, “I just want you to drink with me. Why are you so upset?”
Du Qinglian said, “If he doesn’t drink, I’ll drink.” He took Shen Hongye’s jug of wine, tip it to his mouth, and drank several mouthfuls before breathing and said, “Good wine.”
Shen Hongye took back the jug of wine. He also drank a mouthful then sighed and said, “With a wine like this, even if it’s poisonous, I would give up my life to drink it.”
Du Qinglian smiled and said, “Not bad. If we could die here, it would’ve been our fortune.”
Shen Hongye exclaimed, “Why?!”
Du Qinglian said, “Because there is a person here that could dig a really good pit.”
Shen Hongye asked, “Is the pit he digs that good?”
Du Qinglian said, “It’s superb.”
Shen Hongye suddenly stood up, carried the jug of wine, went to and walked around the pit and muttered, “This is indeed a good pit. After a person dies, he would be lucky to be buried in this pit.”
Du Qinglian said, “Unfortunately, this pit was not dug for us.”
Shen Hongye said, “Only a dead person would have any use for such a pit. Could it be that he wanted to die?”
Du Qinglian said, “It looks like it.”
Shen Hongye seemed shocked and asked, “Why does a person like him want to die?”
Du Qinglian said, “Because, like us, he also received a letter telling him to come here.”
Shen Hongye exclaimed, “Is that letter also sent by Biyu-furen (Madame Jasper)?!”
Du Qinglian said, “Definitely.”
Shen Hongye said, “Madame Jasper told us to come here because she wants to select a son-in-law among the four of us.”
Du Qinglian said, “Right.”
Shen Hongye said, “Madame Jasper is widely-acknowledged as the world’s number top expert. In Biyu Sanzhuang (Jasper Villa), everyone is a woman of great beauty. After receiving this letter, I was so happy I couldn’t even sleep.”
Du Qinglian said, “I could imagine that.”
Shen Hongye said, “If she choose me to be her son-in-law, I would be so happy that I will go mad.”
Du Qinglian said, “You better not go mad. Madame Jasper would not want a madman to be her son-in-law.”
Shen Hongye asked, “Would she want a dead person to be her son-in-law?”
Du Qinglian said, “Of course not.”
Shen Hongye asked, “In that case why would our young master Qiu wants to die?”
Du Qinglian said, “Because he is a love-obsessed fool and he already has a beautiful lady whom he had already pledged his undying love to.” He sighed and said, “If Madame Jasper selected him to be his son-in-law, he would not be able to be together with his love.”
Shen Hongye said, “So once Madame Jasper selects him, he would choose to die here instead.”
Du Qinglian said, “That is all correct.”
Shen Hongye thought for a bit and said, “There is another way of saying all of this.”
Du Qinglian said, “What way?”
Shen Hongye asked, “Is Madame Jasper absolutely able to see this pit?”
Du Qinglian smiled and said, “It would be difficult to not notice such a big pit.”
Shen Hongye said, “If she sees this pit, she’ll know young master Qiu is committed to death. There’s a possibility that she’ll spare him and select me as the new master’s husband of the Jasper Villa.”
Du Qinglian said, “You really are a smart man. This is the thinking of a smart man; definitely not like regular people, and especially not like a love-obsessed fool.”
Shen Hongye laughed and said, “Being a love-obsessed fool doesn’t mean he is not smart.”
Qiu Fengcheng’s expression changed. He suddenly got up, stared at Du Qinglian, and said: “How do you know about this?!” This was a secret. A secret that only two people knew about. However, this question confirmed the validity of Du Qinglian’s statements.
Du Qinglian sighed and asked, “You couldn’t imagine how I would know about such a thing?”
“Even I couldn’t imagine. Unfortunately, that beautiful lady…”
He did not finish the sentence and a strange expression suddenly appeared on his face. A pale-white face suddenly became deathly black. He looked at Shen Hongye with his mouth opened. He wanted to say something but his voice was already gone.
Shen Hongye said, “Are you…” His voice also cracked after two words and a strange expression appeared on his face. The two people faced and looked at each other, their eyes had expressions of extreme fear.
A sound of “bo”, Shen Hongye’s jug of wine fell out of his hand into the pit and broke into many pieces. His face suddenly had a sad and mysterious smile. Using his coarse voice, he said, “It looks like my luck is better than yours. I am standing by this pit…” These were his last words and without finishing it, he fell into the pit. Even though this pit was not prepared for him, he was already in the pit. Why would the living fight with the dead for this pit?
Chapter 2: The Killer
Du Qinglian also collapsed. At the moment collapsed, blood was seeping out the edge of his mouth. However, he still struggled to get up. There was still wine in the wine bottle on the table. He struggled and grabbed onto the table and drank all of the remaining wine in the bottle. He laughed and said, “Great wine. Great wine.” His laughter sounds extremely miserable and sad.
“Such a great wine. Even if I know there is poison, I still want to drink. Everyone look, did I not drink it all?” He laughed while rushing over and somersaulted into the pit. He would not let Shen Hongye enjoy this all to himself. The sky was already dark and the wind was piercingly cold. However, they would never feel cold anymore.
Qiu Fengcheng and Ma Rulong were startled while looking at them tumbled down. It was as if they would tumble too. This change was too sudden, too shocking, and too horrible.
An unknown amount of time had passed; Qiu Fengcheng finally lifted his head and stared at Ma Rulong. His glance was colder than the wind. His eyes were like knives, a knife that wanted to cut opened Ma Rulong’s chest and dig out his heart. Why did he stare at Ma Rulong in such a manner? Ma Rulong had already calmed down and composed himself. Du Qinglian was his friend. Although his friend died in front of him, he did not seem to be sad. Du Qinglian’s mysterious and sudden death did not seem to shock him.
Whether people were dead or alive? How did they die? He didn’t seem to care. It was because he hadn’t died and he was still Ma Rulong. The “White Horse gongzi”, Ma Rulong, who thought he was above all else.
Qiu Fengcheng stared at him and suddenly asked, “You seriously never drink wine?”
Ma Rulong refused to answer. He seldom answers other people’s questions. He was usually the one that ask the question, and give the order.
Qiu Fengcheng said, “I know you drink wine. I have seen you drank wine before, drank quite a bit too.”
Ma Rulong neither confirms nor denies this.
Qiu Fengcheng said, “Not only do you drink wine, you drink quite often, and get drunk often. Once at Zhenzhu Fang (Pearl Place) in Hangzhou, you drank for three straight days and chased away all the customers in Pearl Place because these people were too vulgar and not worthy to drink with you.” He continued, “It was said that you drank all of Pearl Place’s nu’er hong, twenty catties worth of this aged wine. You drank four jugs worth, a record that hasn’t been broken since.”
Ma Rulong coldly said, “The last jug was not nu’er hong. Pearl Place only had three real jugs of nu’er hong.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “After drinking sixty catties worth of alcohol. You could still determine the authenticity of the last jug. You really have good alcohol tolerance.”
Ma Rulong said, “Indeed good tolerance.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “However, today you haven’t touched a drop of wine.” He coldly stared, “How come you did not drink today? Is it because you know it’s poisonous?” Ma Rulong did not reply. Qiu Fengcheng continued: “Since you and Du Qinglian came here as friends, you definitely should have known where he would order food and wine. It should be easy to bribe someone to put poison in the wine.”
Although he did not confirm this, he did not deny this.
Qiu Fengcheng said:, “I already decided to die instead of marrying Jasper Villa. Now even Du Qinglian and Shen Hongye are dead. Madame Jasper no longer needs to chose, you are now her proud son-in-law.” He coldly smiled, “I should truly congratulate you.”
Ma Rulong remained silent. After a while, coldly said, “I now understand what you mean.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “You should understand.” He was already gripping his silver spear.
Ma Rulong did not speak anymore and slowly walked over to face him. At this time, suddenly someone came out and said, “Qiu Fengcheng is mine. This is not your turn.”
No one knows when this person came, possibly when Du Qinglian and Shen Hongye’s suddenly died. At that time, no one would have noticed anything else. This person was slim, tall, had high cheekbones, and extra large hands. His hands were holding onto a golden spear, which was four feet nine inches long. The gold was radiant. Even if it was not really made of pure gold, it looked as if it was.
The clothing this person was wearing was also gold. They were high quality and tailored fit. These were his signature appearance. Thus, the people of Jianghu would recognize him in an instance, “Golden Spear” Jin Zhenlin27.
In Jianghu, the most famous spear was supposed to be a gold spear, Jin Zhenlin’s gold spear. However, things were different now all because Silver Spear Gentleman had defeated this gold spear three years ago. Since then there had been an unresolvable rivalry between the gold and silver spear.
Jin Zhenlin said, “We still have some old grudges. Old grudges come first.”
He points his golden spear toward Qiu Fengcheng, “We will take care of our scores today.”
Qiu Fengcheng coldly smiled and said, “What a coincidence for you to pick such a time.” Jin Zhenlin also coldly smiled. He suddenly pivoted his body, planted his feet, and viciously thrust with his golden spear. With the golden spear in motion, the silver spear also responded. Ma Rulong could only step back.
Old scores come first; this was a rule of Wulin.
The golden spear was vicious, fast, powerful, and longer than the silver spear; one inch longer, one inch stronger. However, the silver spear was more agile, and quicker, and had more changes instances compared to the golden spear. It looked like the golden spear would be defeated again. Qiu Fengcheng clearly wanted to end this battle; he was using all his might. As he was using all his strength against Jin Zhenlin, a person suddenly leap out from behind the snow-covered plum blossom tree.
A person adorned in black attire, face covered with a black scarf, and entirely covered in black. This person was even slimmer and taller than Jin Zhenlin; like a stick of black arrow. His body movement was really quick, also like an arrow.
He had a sabre in his hand, a thin and sharp Yanling sabre. Sabre flashed and hacked on Qiu Fengcheng left neck, which could definitely take a person’s life.
Although Qiu Fengcheng critically escaped this attack, he was already bearing his chest. Jin Zhenlin already struck, like a bolt of lightning, toward and into his heart.
This spear attack was also very lethal! While attacking, Jin Zhenlin did not stop. He flipped over in mid-air, and plundered outward four zhang.
Blood was gushing out. By the time Qiu Fengcheng collapsed, Jin Zhenlin is already ten zhang away. The black-clothed man retreated even faster.
Ma Rulong did not chase, he went back to Qiu Fengcheng’s side. He never cared about anyone’s death. However he didn’t chase after the murderer, only came to check whether Qiu Fengcheng was already dead. Therefore he missed an opportunity to see something no one could imagine! Jin Zhenlin almost caught up with the black-clothed person. These two were fleeing side-by-side together. The black-clothed person was slowly falling behind. Suddenly with a flash of sabre, the black-clothed person was struck out like lightning with his Yanling sabre. The sabre struck on the back of Jin Zhenlin left neck. The strike was even more vicious and faster than his previous move.
Jin Zhenlin cried out in pain, blood was shooting out like an arrow. He wanted to turn around to pounce on this black-clothed person. As soon as he turn around, he collapsed.
The black-clothed person succeeded in one blow and did not stop. He continued on fleeing away from the valley. His killing move was clean, precise, and extremely effective. Obviously, he was very experienced. After he was killed, he left and did not even look back. Unfortunately, he was still one step behind.
He suddenly realized someone in front of him blocking his way. He silenced someone; others also wanted to silence him. He immediately realized this.
Without waiting for the opponent to attack, he struck first. His sabre was more vicious than a poisonous snake. He rarely failed to kill someone. Unfortunately, this time, he picked on the wrong opponent.
Standing side by side outside the valley, there were three people blocking his way. One was big, tall and strong. One was fat and stubby. One was a monk. The big and tall one was a silver hair, red face old man. He was good-looking and had a majestic air to him.
If a monk roaming in Jianghu, then he should have quite a background. Everything knew that in Jianghu — begger, woman, and monk — were the three most difficult types of people.
An experienced killer, of course, would’ve chosen the weakest one first. He selected the clumsy and slow-looking fat man.
He never would have thought this fat man was currently the most famous sabre user, the current master of “Wuhu Duanmen Dao” (Five Tigers Breaking Down the Door Sabre), Peng Tianba. Currently, Jianghu’s fastest, fiercest, and the most famous sabre was Peng Tianba’s family sabre, Five Tigers Breaking Down the Door Sabre.
Peng Tianba was, of course, carrying the sabre. The sabre was at his waist, in the sheath. All of a sudden, it was at the black-clothed man’s throat. The black-clothed man struck out his saber and just saw the flashing movement of a sabre’s light. By the time he saw the light from the sabre, the sabre blade had already slashed his throat.
The big, tall and strong old man called out, “Let him live….” However after he said this, the black-clothed man’s head had almost completely left his neck.
Peng Tianba let out a sigh and said, “You said it too late!”
The old man also let out a sigh and said: “Actually I should have known. No one has ever lived through your sabre.”
That monk calmly said, “Peng daxia has killed many. The one he killed deserved to be killed. This person had already killed five. His death was definitely just.”
The old man said, “I just want to ask him, those five waiters and workers from “Jufenglou” were not people of Jianghu. They should not have any grudges against him. Why must he kill them all?”
Peng Tianba said, “Although he is dead, we will eventually find the answer to that question.”
Old man said, “Who should ask? Other than him, who else would know?”
Suddenly there was a loud noise, “I know!”
Qiu Fengcheng, surprisingly, did not die. He struggled, pushed Ma Rulong aside, and breathlessly said, “Fortunately, I still know what’s going on.”
After the two sister masters of Yihuagong passed, Wulin most mysterious and mystical woman was Madame Jasper. The world’s most mysterious place was also the Jasper Villa. No one knew the state of affairs in Jasper Villa. No one even knew where it was. This was because Jasper Villa was like Yihua Gong, a female’s world. Males were forbidden.
It was said not only were the women they’re beautiful, but they also possessed extremely mysterious wugong (martial art). No matter how capable these women were, there were still times where there was still a need for men. Especially when they wanted to continue their legacy.
Now that Madame Jasper’s daughter was all grown up, Madame Jasper did not wish her sole daughter to live her life alone. Like any mother, she wanted a perfect son-in-law. Currently, the most suitable bachelors happened to be the four young gentlemen.
Unfortunately, she only had one daughter so she had to select one among the four. As such, she invited the four young gentlemen to the Winter Plum Valley. Madame Jasper’s request, no one could ever refuse and no one dare to refuse.
So the four young gentlemen, Qiu Fengcheng, Ma Rulong, Du Qinglian, and Shen Hongye; all came. Madame Jasper never told them to keep this a secret but they also never told anyone about this. This was because only one will be chosen among the four. If he were not the chosen one, he would definitely lose face. The four young masters’ reputations were renowned, no one wanted to be embarrassed.
It was hard to believe there was poison in the wine. Du Qinglian and Shen Hongye were poisoned to death. Also it was even harder to believe that Qiu Fengcheng’s archrival, Golden Spear Jin Zhenlin, came here. Also, an experienced assassin came. Other than them, no one should know Qiu Fengcheng would be here today. How did Jin Zhenlin found out?
— Of course, someone brought him here. In addition, the person brought a professional assassin along with him. Because these people knew very well that Jin Zhenlin might not be able to defeat Qiu Fengcheng. This person also would’ve been the one that put poison into the wine. This person wanted Jin Zhenlin and the assassin to be ambushed en route, and killed all five workers from Jufeng Lou that brought the food and wine here.
This person also wanted the assassin to silence Jin Zhenlin afterward. He was not afraid the assassin would reveal his secrets. Because a person that kills for a living not only has to be cruel, vicious, fast; but also able to keep a secret. So even if the assassin lived, he would not reveal his customer’s secret.
Qiu Fengcheng’s final conclusion was, “I should’ve died upon Jin Zhenlin’s spear. You three are not supposed to be here. This person’s plan originally would’ve succeeded and no one would’ve ever known about this conspiracy and secret. Madame Jasper would not need to waste time on the selection. This person would’ve become Jasper Villa’s son-in-law.”
Though Qiu Fengcheng did not say this person’s name, that was not necessary. Who this person was, everyone would’ve guessed. Everyone stared coldly at Ma Rulong.
Ma Rulong had no reactions. How others looked at him? What did other people think about him? He did not care.
Peng Tianba constantly walked around. Although he was fat, he was extremely active. At this time he stopped, stopped beside Jin Zhenlin’s corpse. He picked up his spear, weighed it slightly and mumbled, “This spear is not heavy.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “He practiced his family’s Lihua Spear, it is originally light and quick skill. “
Peng Tianba said, “It was said that someone tried and tossed seven copper coins toward his face. He thrust out his spear and pierced through all seven coins.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “His hands are definitely accurate.”
Peng Tianba let out a sigh and said, “He definitely would never imagine, he would fail today.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “No, he did not fail.”
Peng Tianba said, “If he did not fail, why are you still alive?”
Qiu Fengcheng did not answer him directly. He struggled and opened his lapel. Beside a mink coat on the outside, inside there were three more pieces of tight-fitting garments. The one closest to his body has a hidden pocket right at his heart. Inside this pocket, there was a small pouch.
A flower was stitched on the pouch. It was very detailed. It must be stitched by the extremely careful woman’s hands. Now the pouch had been pierced through between two stems of flowers. A piece of jade inside the pouch was completely crushed.
Jin Zhenlin’s spear did not miss, his spear definitely could’ve pierced through Qiu Fengcheng’s mink coat and straight to his heart. But Jin Zhenlin never would’ve imagined there would be a piece of jade close to his heart blocking the way.
Qiu Fengcheng said, “Xiaowan gave this to me. She wanted me to keep it close to my heart. She doesn’t want me to forget her.”
His eyes became gentle, “I did not forget about her so I am still alive.” No doubt, Xiaowan was his lover, the lover that he would rather die than abandon.
Peng Tianba let out a sigh; eye with a hint of a smile and said, “So there is an advantage of being lovestruck.”
The tall, big, and strong old man suddenly said, “Young master Qiu; although I do not recognize you, I recognize this silver spear.”
Qiu Fengcheng said, “This is my family treasure. I do not dare to show off with this.”
The old man said, “I know.” His phrases were also gentle, “Many years ago when your father used this to battle “Changbai Qunxiong”36, I was there.”
Changbai Qunxiong brothers were all fearless and brutal great bandits. Situated in Liaodong for many years, people of Jianghu never dared to intrude their territory.
Qiu Fengcheng’s father together with “Fengtian daxia”, Feng Chaofan, charged into Mt. Changbai. With a pair of silver spear and Feng Chaofan’s pair of pure steel Hunyuanpai; they wiped out Changbai Qunxiong stronghold. This event not only caused a huge sensation back then, people still spoke about it today.
Qiu Fengcheng said: “Could it be that senior is Feng daxia?”
The old man said, “That’s correct. I am Feng Chaofan.”
He smiled and said, “You saw his sabre at first. You should also know who he is.”
Besides the Five Tiger Breaking Down the Door Sabre, there wasn’t a more “absolute” sabre technique. Absolute sabre, absolute love, absolute man, absolute life! One sabre cut-off lives, never leaves a survivor.
Qiu Fengcheng let out a sigh and said: “This person must have committed atrocious crime to meet the fate of the Five Tiger Breaking Down the Door Sabre.”
Peng Tianba laughed and said, “If he was up against the monk at first, he would’ve died even faster.” Is this monk’s skill more extreme than Five Tiger Breaking Down the Door Sabre?
Qiu Fengcheng changed and said: “This senior must be Shaolin’s Jue dashi42.”
Peng Tianba said: “That’s right, he is Monk Jue.”
Shaolin’s extreme monk are even more extreme, emotions are even more cut-off, innately hates the wicked. If anyone with any wrongdoing falls into their hand, they can give up the idea of living in peace.
Qiu Fengcheng let out a long sigh and said, “I couldn’t believe heaven would send three seniors to this place.”
Peng Tianba said, “Indeed we were not supposed to come, and wouldn’t have come here.”
Feng Chaofan said, “We originally want to go to Jufeng Luo to drink to wine.” He was a frequent customer at Jufeng Luo.
In a restaurant, a frequent customer will have a designated waiter to serve him. It is because this waiter will know this customer’s behavior; his favorite food and drink without the customer ordering. However on this day, the young waiter, Xiaogu, that normally served them was sent out to deliver a table of food and wine to Winter Plum Valley.
— In the such bitter cold, there was still a person at Winter Plum Valley appreciating flowers and wine. This must be a person with refined taste.
Peng Tianba said, “After drinking three cups, us three old fools became spirited and decided to come over to Winter Plum Valley to meet this gentleman.”
Feng Chaofan sighed and said, “Couldn’t imagine that halfway here, we saw Xiaogu’s group corpses.”
Peng Tianba said, “Everyone was killed in one sabre blow. They’re killed cleanly, orderly.”
Feng Chaofan said, “He also uses sabre so of course, he couldn’t help coming here to see who would have such a fast sabre.”
Peng Tianba said, “So the three of us, who were not supposed to be here, came.”
This must be fate. Qiu Fengcheng looked above to the sky and said:, “Lord is all knowing. Nothing escapes god’s eye. Those who kill will be punished.”
He suddenly stood up and faced Ma Rulong articulated, “These three phrases, you should put in your heart and never forget them.” At this moment the sky was slowly getting dark, the winter night always comes earlier.
Chapter 3: Heaven Kill
Ma Rulong still had no reaction. If it was anyone else at this point, even if they did not flee they would’ve strongly defended themselves. However he did not. He just quietly stood there and did not even seem to care what other people were saying.
— He did not defend himself, is it because this is nothing for him to defend?
— He did not flee, is it because he knows he could not escape these three people in front of him?
Jue dashi also quietly stood there with an apathetic face with no emotion. Now he finally said, “I think I heard from someone, the essence of sabre techniques in the world all exist within the Five Tigers Breaking Down the Door Sabre. As such every sabre technique in the world, there isn’t anyone he doesn’t know.”
Peng Tianba said, “Not think, you DID hear that from someone.”
Jue dashi said, “Who did I hear this from?”
Peng Tianba said, “You, of course, heard it from me.”
Jue dashi said, “I’d always believe in the things you say.”
Peng Tianba said, “Although I sometimes boast, I only boast in front of woman not in front of a monk.” He smilingly said, “Boasting in front of a monk is like playing a lute in front of an ox. There is no purpose to it.”
Jue dashi did not get angry or argue back. His face still has the cold and indifferent expression. He said, “The black-clothed person at first wanted to kill you in one blow. The sabre stance he was using must also be an essence of his sabre skill.”
Peng Tianba said, “In such a situation, of course he would have used his most capable skill in his repertoire.”
Jue dashi said, “You seemed to have said that the essence of saber skills of every school and every sect in the world; there are none you do not know.”
Peng Tianba said, “I said it before.”
Jue dashi said, “His sabre skill are from which school and which sect?”
Peng Tianba said, “Don’t know.” He gave a really straightforward reply. Everyone in Jianghu knew the master of “Five Tigers Breaking Down the Door Sabre” is a straightforward person.
Jue dashi still asked, “You truly do not know?”
Peng Tianba said, “If I don’t know, then I don’t know. What’s so true or fake about it?”
Jue dashi said, “You may not know, but I know.”
Peng Tianba was a bit taken back. He blurted out and asked, “You truly know?”
Jue dashi said, “If I know, then I know. What’s so true of fake about it?”
Peng Tianba laughed, “The sabre skill he used; which school and which sect is it from?”
Jue dashi said, “That is Tiansha (Heaven Kill)!”
Peng Tianba said, “I don’t understand. What is Heaven Kill?”
Jue dashi said, “Go undo his clothing and take a look.”
Black-clothed man’s chest has nineteen bright red characters. It was hard to tell whether it was tattooed with cinnabar or blood. “Heaven gave men countless things. Men did not give anything to heaven. Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!”
Peng Tianba asked, “This is Heaven Kill?”
Jue dashi said, “Yes.”
Peng Tian said, “It’s a pity. I still don’t understand.”
Jue dashi said: “This is an assassin organization. People of this organization kill for a living, kill for pleasure. As long as you can afford it, whoever you want to kill, they will kill that person.”
Peng Tianba said, “How do you know about this?”
Jue dashi said, “I have been pursuing them for five years.”
Peng Tianba said, “Pursue what?”
Jue dashi said: “Pursue their headquarters. Pursue their leader. Pursue their lives!” He blandly said, “Killers deserve to die. They have killed countless people. If they don’t die, where is the heaven justice in that.”
Peng Tianba said, “Have you found them yet?”
Jue dashi said, “No.”
Peng Tianba said, “One day you will definitely catch them. If not, you will not let it go even after you die.”
Jue dashi said, “Yes.”
The sky was dark, cold winds were like knives. Peng Tianba looked down at the body; he put his clothes back on as if he was afraid the body would get cold. The body will never feel cold.
If the black-clothed person was still alive and freezing to death, Peng Tianba wouldn’t had even cared. People, no matter whom, are especially kind to the dead. This is because everyone would eventually die. When he dies, he wants other to show him same kindness. When Peng Tianba pulled clothes back on the dead body, something fell out of the body.
What fell out was a piece of jade. Jade is a precious gemstone. Jade is an ancient gem. Not only does it ward evil, it also brings fortune, peace, and wishes.
In old legends, it was said jade could also “swap death”. It would die for the owner and saved the owner’s life. The jade that Xiaowan gave to Qiu Fengcheng saved his life.
This jade, however, wanted Ma Rulong’s life. This was because the jade had a string attached to it. Attached to the string was a gold medal piece. On the front of the gold medal was a horse, on the back were four characters:
“Tian Ma Xing Kong”
This was a Tianma Tang (Hall of Divine Horse) badge. Ma Rulong was the eldest son of the master of Hall of Divine Horse.
Why would was a Hall of Divine Horse badge with the assassin? There could be one explanation: Ma Rulong used this piece of hand and this badge to hire the assassin to help him kill. Kill Du Qinglian, Qiu Fengcheng, Jin Zhenlin, and the workers and waiters from Jufeng Lou.
However he could not believe Qiu Fengcheng was not dead yet. Furthermore, could not have imagined Peng Tianba, Feng Chaofan and Jue dashi would come. This must all be heaven’s will. Heaven kill is not heaven’s will. Heaven’s will guard against killing!
Until now, no one had mentioned the name of “this person”. Because this matter involved a lot of people: Du Qinglian, Shen Hongye, Jin Zhenlin. Any one of these people’s death would had shocked Wulin. Also, this could lead to a lot of vendetta within Wuli’s prominent families.
Once this revenge starts, it would not end in a short period. It was also hard to imagine how many would die. No one should jump to the conclusion. However there were undeniable motives and evidence here.
Feng Chaofan had serious look on his face and said, “Now we should all hear what Ma Rulong has to say.”
Ma Rulong did not say a thing; he slowly took off his silver fox fur coat and calmly said, “This came from my third uncle’s night hunt in the great snowy mountain when he was young. I can not let the property of the deceased be ruined under me.”
He handed the fox fur coat to Peng Tianba, “In former years, I know gexia was a good friend of my third uncle. I hope you can bring his item back to the Hall of Divine Horse and give it to my third aunt.”
Peng Tianba let out a sigh and said, “The hero, Third Brother Ma, died young, I… I definitely will bring this back.”
Ma Rulong slowly took off his dazzling long sword and gave it to Jue dashi.
He said: “The Wudang master of the Xuanzhen Taoist monastery gave this sword to my father. Shaolin and Wudang are closely related, I wish you can give this back to Xuanzhen Taoist monastery. This way it could not end up in the hands of the wretched.”
Jue dashi said, “Absolutely.”
Ma Rulong took out a pile of silver-based banknotes and gold leaves and hand it to Feng Chaofan.
Feng Chaofan said, “Who do you want me to give this to?”
Ma Rulong said, “Money originally do not have an owner. Who you want to give this to doesn’t matter. “
Feng Chaofan was pondering, took it, and said, “I will use this the save a few people and do some good deeds.”
Now everyone could see that Ma Rulong was settling things. Very few people can refuse a person’s last wishes before death. They couldn’t help feeling heavy and serious holding the items Ma Rulong gave them.
Ma Rulong took a long sigh and said, “Now there is only this horse.”
His white horse was still under the plum tree. These strictly trained well-bred colt was like a Jianghu expert. Not confused in perils and always clam. Ma Rulong went over there, untied the ropes, lightly patted the horse, and said, “Go!” The white horse neighed and walked out.
Ma Rulong turn around, faced Feng Chaofan, and said, “Now, I only have one thing to say.”
Feng Chaofan said, “Go ahead.”
Ma Rulong said, “You are all pigs.”48
With this said, his body shoot out like arrow and fled. His white horse started out slowly but rapidly increase his speed. The horse was already ten zhang (about 33.3 meter or 36.5 yards) away. With all his might, Ma Rulong used his “Tianmaxingkong” superb qinggong (lightness martial art). This type of lightness skill was energy consuming. However by the time he was running out of energy, he already caught up to the horse. This one-of-a-kind fast horse’s body had already warmed up and reached its full stride.
Once Ma Rulong got on the horse, the horse neighed. Traveling like dragon, the rider was pure white, horse was pure white, and the earth was silvery white.
Feng Chaofan and Peng Tianba started to move and chase while still holding the money and fox fur coat Ma Rulong handed him. By the time they realized how stupid and foolish they were, the man and horse disappeared into the silvery white land. Feng Chaofan stomped on his feet and threw the money on the ground, “I really am a pig.”
Sky was even darker and the wind was even colder. The cold wind was piercing toward here, but Ma Rulong chest had a fire. Burning with anger! This was because he knew he was not the murderer. He had never put poison in the wine. Unfortunately, other than him no one would believe he was innocent. He understood this very well.
He could only run away! Death, he did not care. A death battle with those who were certain he was the culprit would have been very satisfying. However, if he died in their hands he would have died with the accusations, unable to clear his name. If he wanted to die, he rather dies with innocence, with honor. He vowed he would wait until he found the real culprit and clear his name. Then have a duel to the death with them.
Who was the real culprit? Who poisoned the wine? Who hired the assassin? He did not have a clue.
No matter who he was, he was definitely a cunning and vicious person. This plan was careful and thorough without any flaws. Can he really solve this conspiracy and find the culprit? He had no assurance. He did not even know where to start. Until the real culprit was found, in everyone’s view he was the murderer.
If Feng Chaofan, Peng Tianba, and Shaolin’s Jue dashi said someone was a murderer, no one in Jianghu would have doubted them. No matter where he went, he would’ve been hunted down and killed. He could not bring the trouble back. If everyone considered you to be a criminal, there was no place to hide and nowhere to run.
If it were anyone else in his situation, they would’ve died of anger and worry. However, he did not care. He believed in this vast world, there would a place he could go. He also believed that heaven is just, no evil can escape. There would be a day when he could find the culprit. He had confidence. He was full of confidence. His hand was stronger than other, mind more nimble than other, and ear and eye were more sensitive than other.
At this time, he already heard something other couldn’t hear. It was a cry. It sounded like a weak groan. Then he saw some hair. The sky was completely dark. However it was hard not to notice the jet black among the silvery white snow.
If someone else were here, they, too, would’ve noticed this hair and would’ve definitely noticed this person here. This person’s body was completely buried in the snow, revealing only half a pale white face. This half of a face flashed before his eye, the fast horse already galloped past it. He did not stop. He was running for his life.
The merciless Jue dashi would not let him go. It was possible he would soon catch up to him. If they caught up to him this time, they would definitely not let him have a chance to escape again. He definitely could not stop for a stranger that was close to freezing to death.
— However this person was definitely not dead, this person was still groaning. The horse was like flying and had already galloped far away. He suddenly turned the horse around and rode back.
If a person simply let another die, how could he be proud of himself? Ma Rulong was a proud person, full of pride.
This pitch-black hair already had ice all over it. The pale white face had no hint of blood. It was a miracle this person was still alive. — How long does it take for a person that is buried under snow to die?
It was said women could withstand bitter cold, hunger, and pain better than men. This person was a woman and quite young but not beautiful. In fact, this woman was quite ugly, could even be considered hideous. She had a broken and crooked nose, fat pig lip, rat-like eyes all on this round face with no traces of blood. She looks like a botched work of a porcelain worker that was broken even before going into the furnace.
Although she was not dead, staying alive was still difficult. If there were a cup of warm wine, hot soup, fur coat, or a good doctor; her chance of surviving would be higher. Unfortunately, there was nothing here.
Ma Rulong’s clothing was not sufficient to ward against the cold. Whether he could live was also questionable. He tried his best. Right now, he should have abandoned this ugly female stranger and run away from there. However, he took off his only warm cloth and wrapped it around her. He wrapped himself around her and used his body temperature to keep her warm.
— Man greatest grief is “stupidity” and woman’s greatest grief is “ugliness”. An ugly woman is usually a pitiful woman. Not only did he not abandon her because she was ugly, he felt sympathetic. As long as she was still alive, he would definitely not abandon her like a wild dog in the cold. However, he did not know where to take her. He, himself, has lost everything and had nowhere to go.
The sky was already very dark. Cold winter night not only comes early but also last longer.
Chapter4: Long Night
Night. The long winter night had just begun. Ma Rulong was gathering pieces of dry wood and started a fire in this abandoned temple to ward off the cold.
Firelight might lure the enemies here. Anyone knew, when running for your life, you could not start fire; even if it meant dying from the cold. However, this woman desperately needed the fire. Although he did not mind dying of cold, he would not let the female stranger die of cold just so he could hide from his enemies. He rather died than do something so shameful.
The fire was burning brightly. He moved the woman to the warmest and driest spot. He also needed rest. Right when he finally closed his eyes, he heard a shriek, “Who are you?”
This woman actually woke up. Not only was she hideous, but her voice was also dreadfully piercing. Ma Rulong did not answer her. Right now, he did not know who exactly he was either, a refugee without a future or a past. He slowly stood up and wanted to go over and check out how she was doing, whether she can move, and whether she can live. Who would’ve thought she would suddenly pick up a stick next to the fire and shouted, “If you dare come near me, I’ll kill you.” He risked his life to save her. Now this grotesque woman acted as if he was going to rape her. Ma Rulong did not say a single word and sat down.
The woman was still gripping onto her stick, used her rat-like eyes and ruthlessly stared at him.
Ma Rulong shut his eyes again. He doesn’t want to waste time looking at her. The woman, using her high-pitched voice, asked, “How come I am here?” Ma Rulong was too lazy to answer.
This woman finally thought about her situation and again asked, “I believe I was buried in snow at first. Did you save me?”
Ma Rulong said, “Yes.”
Surprisingly this woman called out, “Since you saved me, why didn’t you bring me back to the city to go see a doctor? Why did you bring me to an abandoned temple?”
Her voice was extra sharp, “I had seen your kind of people all the time. I know you are up to no good.”
Ma Rulong almost wanted to say, “Don’t worry. I am not going to rape you. With a face like yours, I have no interest.” However, he did not say those words. This woman looked even uglier under the firelight, he did not want to hurt her feeling. So he slowly sighed and said, “I did not bring you to the doctor because I am penniless.”
The woman coldly laughed and said, “How did a man like you end up in such a state? Don’t even have a penny, it’s probably because you are lazy and jobless.” Ma Rulong again couldn’t be bothered by her. This woman did not let him go and continued scolding him about how he was good for nothing and lacked maturity.
Ma Rulong suddenly stood up and coldly said, “The firewoods here are enough for you to last the entire night. By tomorrow, someone should pass by here.”
He couldn’t stand it so it was better to leave.
The woman again retorted, “What are you doing? You want to leave? You want to abandon a poor, helpless, and weak woman here? And you consider yourself a man?” From the way things look she sure did not look like “weak woman”; however, she was still a woman.
The woman coldly smiled and said, “Are you afraid my enemies will come here? So you are trying to leave as soon as possible and avoid any conflict.”
Ma Rulong couldn’t bear it and asked, “You have enemies?”
This woman said, “I don’t have enemies? So you think I buried myself in the snow? You think I’m crazy?”
Ma Rulong slowly sat down again. He did not ask her who her enemies were or why they were after her. He only knew that he could not leave. Someone was trying to kill and bury a weak woman. A real man facing this would not stand by and ignore this.
This woman again asked, “You are not leaving now?”
Ma Rulong said, “I am not leaving.”
The woman unexpectedly said, “Why aren’t you leaving? Do you have some kind of sinister plan?” Ma Rulong actually laughed. He couldn’t hold it and had to laugh. A woman like her was rare; he couldn’t believe he actually met one today. Other than laughing, what else can he do? Should he cry? Should he kill himself?
The woman sharply yelled, “What are you secretly laughing about? What exactly are you plotting? Talk!”
Ma Rulong did not say anything because outside the abandoned temple someone said: “He will not talk. Whatever’s on Ma-gongzi’s mind, he’ll never say it out.” In the wavering firelight, a man slowly walked in. Surprisingly, it was Peng Tianba.
Peng Tianba was still holding the fox fur coat in his left hand. His right hand was holding a sabre; a sabre that was already out of its scabbard, the Five Tiger Door Breaking Sabre. Unfortunately, this woman did not recognize this person or this sabre. She looked up with her rat-like eyes and shouted, “Who are you?”
Peng Tianba said, “I am a pig.”
The woman said, “Although you seem a bit fat, you are still skinnier than a pig.”
Peng Tianba let out a sigh and said, “It’s too bad I am dumber than a pig. That’s why I have his silver fur fox coat.”
The woman seemed very surprised and asked, “This is his?”
Peng Tianba said, “Yes.”
The woman asked, “Why would he give you such a valuable item?”
Peng Tianba said, “Because he needs to use this fur coat to hold onto my hand.”
This woman asked, “Did you use your hand to hold onto the fur coat, or did the fur coat hold onto your hand?”
Peng Tianba said, “It’s all the same.”
This woman said, “Why is it the same?”
Peng Tianba said: “Whether the fur coat was holding up my hand, or my hand was holding onto the fur coat, in the end the coat was on my hand. Therefore I could not draw my sabre or use my throwing weapon.” His Flying Tiger Soul Chasing Dart was just as menacing as his Five Tiger Breaking Down the Door Sabre.
This woman didn’t understand and asked, “Why didn’t he let you draw your sabre or use your dart?”
Peng Tianba said, “Because he wanted to run away.”
The woman asked, “Why did he want to run away? Is it because you are bullying him? Why are you bullying people?”
Peng Tianba could only bitterly smile. He finally realized talking to this woman was not exactly a wise decision. He returned to his serious face and coldly said, “Ma-gongzi, this time you don’t need to flee. The three of us split up and went to different paths. Only I am here, why do you try to silence me too?”
Ma Rulong did not open his mouth, the woman butt in and said, “He will not kill you. He is a good person.”
Peng Tianba asked, “He is a good person?”
The woman said, “Of course he is. I have never seen such a good person. If you touch him, I will kill you.”
Peng Tianba laughed, coldly laughed, but unexpectedly the woman jumped forward and grab onto his neck and yelled, “I am holding onto him, quickly run away.”
Ma Rulong did not run. She could not hold onto him. Peng Tianba, with one shook, threw her on the ground.
Peng Tianba said, “You’ve said a lot. You must be tired, why don’t you rest a bit.” He lightly kicked out his foot and knocked on her yunxue (faint acupoint). He covered her with the fox fur coat on his hand.
Ma Rulong eyes as gazing at the sabre in his hand, waiting for him to make his move. Surprisingly, he put his sabre back to its sheath on his waist and warmed his hand near the fire. He knew Ma Rulong could not escape so before doing anything, it was better to warm up his hand first. This type of poise and composure of a seasoned Jianghu man was hard not to respect.
Ma Rulong was also pretty calm. He was not anxious and did not attack first.
Fire was weakening. Peng Tianba added more firewood into the fire and slowly said, “Did you know I was friends with your third uncle?”
Ma Rulong said, “En.”
Peng Tianba said, “When he was alive, had he ever spoken of me in front of you?”
Ma Rulong said, “En.”
Peng Tianba said, “Did he ever tell you how we became friends?”
Ma Rulong said, “No.”
Peng Tianba said, “We met each other through fighting.” Peng Tianba laughed, and then said, “Your third uncle was an extremely prideful person. Of course, he would mention this to you.”
Ma Rulong said, “Why?”
Peng Tianba said, “Because although my wisdom and intelligence can not be compared to his, it was a pity he had too many interests – music, chess, literature, art – he wanted to learn everything. Obviously he would have less time practicing sword skills.”
Ma Rulong had heard of this. Not only was his uncle a famed swordsman, he was also a well-rounded intellect.
Peng Tianba, “So even though he was better than me at everything, his martial art was not. I had fought him three times and every time I defeated him within a hundred stances.” He did not let Ma Rulong speak and suddenly said, “How is your sword skill compared to your third uncle?”
Ma Rulong was pondering to himself. After a while, he said, “I am not better than him.”
Peng Tianba said, “I also believe your sword skill is not better than his. So even if you have a sword, I can kill you within one hundred stances.” He dully continued, “ Right now your hand is empty. You can, at most, withstand sixty stances.”
Ma Rulong did not open his mouth. Peng Tianba continued, “My sabre skill, every strike is a killing stance and I never hold back. Sometimes even if I did not intend to kill, once I strike I couldn’t control myself. “
He sighed again and said, “Therefore, very few can live past my sabre.” Ma Rulong was silent. Peng Tianba continued, “You are like your third uncle; very intelligent, very proud. However, I do not wish that you will die young like him.”
Ma Rulong said, “What are you trying to say?”
Peng Tianba pondered for a while and finally said, “All of a sudden I thought there is something peculiar about this.”
Ma Rulong said, “Oh?”
Peng Tianba said, “Did you know how did I find this place?”
Ma Rulong shook his head.
Peng Tianba said, “You brought me here. Track from your horse on the snow led me here.”
Ma Rulong actually never thought of this because he never tried to flee before.
Peng Tianba said, “If you are capable of coming up with such a secretive and vicious plot, then you should not be this careless. Also in a time where you are desperately trying to flee, you shouldn’t go save such an ugly and unfamiliar woman.” He sighed and said, “However you did do all of these things. And it does not look like you are acting. Even though I am a pig, I can’t help being suspicious. So…”
Ma Rulong said, “So what?”
Peng Tianba said, “So I wish you would come with me. Don’t make me use force.”
Ma Rulong uttered, “Where do you want me to follow you to?”
Peng Tianba said, “In the meantime, I want to send you to Shaolin. Within three months, I will try to investigate the truth behind this. By then, I will give you your justice.” Ma Rulong neither agree nor refuse the offer.
Peng Tianba said, “Right now you are a wanted man. No matter where you go, you will be pursued. This is the only path you can take.” This was the truth. This was also reality.
Peng Tianba slowly walked over and said, “So you have to completely trust me. Only I can help you now.” He stuck out his hand. It looked like these was the only hands in the world that wanted to and could help Ma Rulong.
Ma Rulong finally held onto his hand and said, “I believe you but…” He did not finish because at this point Peng Tianba suddenly lifted his foot and kick his huantiao acupoint. Once his feet wobbled, Peng Tianba flew over and sealed his pulse. He loudly laughed, “Now you know who is the pig.”
Hand released and the man collapsed. “Ke” sound rattled, the Five Tigers Breaking Down the Door Sabre was leaving its sheath. No wonder Peng Tianba was Jianghu top sabre expert. The motions when he was drawing his sabre were clean and graceful.
His killing posture should also be elegant. Drawing sabre was usually for killing. However he should have a lot questions to ask Ma Rulong. Even if he already determined Ma Rulong was the real murderer, he should still ask him to clarify. Why was he already pulling out his sabre?
Ma Rulong finally understood. Seeing Peng Tianba’s sabre out, he realized that the real murderer was Peng Tianba! He was responsible for this whole conspiracy, so he definitely could not let the “Tiansha” black-clothed man live.
So right now there was no need for him to ask anything. Similarly, he could not let Ma Rulong live.
Unfortunately, even though Ma Rulong finally understands, it was already too late. Sabre light was like snow and was already coming down toward him.
Surprisingly this sabre did not strike Ma Rulong’s neck. Peng Tianba suddenly jumped and somersaulted back far away. His face already changed, and shouted, “Who is it?” Other than the two people who he had sealed their acupoints, there was no one here. Did he see a ghost?
Firelight was wildly flickering. Peng Tianba face also seemed to be changing — one instant red, one instant white, one instant green. However, not only could you not see anyone here, you couldn’t even see a shadow. He suddenly thrust forward aiming his sabre at Ma Rulong’s neck.
He saw the ghost again! This time what he saw must had been even more frightening. Ma Rulong could not see anything. He jumped again, this time even higher. Once his jumped back down, he sprinted out and did not even look back.
Outside the abandoned temple was completely dark. Once he fled, there wasn’t even a shadow. Fire was flickering and wind was blowing. In the winter wind, there was suddenly was a shout; it was short but sharp, dreadful, and surprised.
Ma Rulong could hear that the noise came from Peng Tianba, but could not understand what was happening. He wanted to go out and see but both his wrists and two knees’ acupoints were sealed.
Though Peng Tianba was renowned for his sabre skill, his dianxue (or Dim Mak) martial art was not bad. At this moment if someone came in and there was a sabre in this person’s hand. Doesn’t matter who this person was or what sabre this person was holding; at this point this person can definitely use this sabre and sever Ma Rulong’s neck. Luckily no one came in. There was no one, no shadow, no voice, no movement, nothing. As if in this world there were only the two of them and an almost burnt-up fire.
However, Ma Rulong knew at any moment someone could come in. Even if Peng Tianba would never come back; Feng Chaofan, Jue dashi, Qiu Fengcheng could come at any moment. No matter who came, this person would not let him go.
Right now this long winter night still had not passed. It was not sure what will happen from now on. Winter nights were especially long, very long.
Written by Gu Long
Translation by kaister
Edited and proofread by audiowuxia.
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