About the Novel
This is San Shaoye De Jian (lit. Sword of the Third Young Master) by Gu Long. It was one of his later work and one of his more popular works of this period. It was serialized from June 1975 to March 1976. It was originally called Jianghu Ren (lit. Jianghu Man). It is now part of what is known as the Jianghuren series.
This story is about the world’s number one sword, Xie Xiaofeng of Shenjian Shanzhuang (Divine Sword Manor), who is also as the Jianshen (God of Sword) Sanshaoye (Third Young Master). This story is about his relationship with Murong Qiudi and his rivalry with Yan Shisan.
Modern society is becoming more and more complicated, more and more acceptable of the reality of things.
Modern people could, at anytime and anywhere, receive all kinds of restrictions and limitations.
However it isn’t like this in the past.
“The old days are good days…” is a saying I do not agree with.
Sure there are indeed good days in the past.
In the modern west, if you knew someone was a murderer, knew he killed your wife and brothers, without solid proof you will see him walk.
Because you wanted “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, you killed him. You have become a murderer too.
“Revenge” is not a very good method. However, it is still better than letting the evil walk free.
At a certain time in the past, there was no such thing.
In that joyous era, people knew gratitude and vengeance, dared to love and dared to hate; virtue had its reward, evil had its retribution.
There is no need for heaven to avenge you; you can retaliate by yourself.
I am writing about these times.
I am writing about the Jianghu people of these times.
* * *
In that era, there were all kinds of people in Jianghu.
There were great heroes, and great bandits; there were brothel patrons, and assassins; there were righteous people, and hermits; there were magnificent thieves, and magnificent constables; there were heroic women, and prostitutes; there were common city folks, and noble gentlemen.
Their lives were usually colorful and interesting, full of dangers and excitements.
There were many people who loathed and detested them. There were many people who envied them.
Because they usually dressed glamorously, gave out generously, drank whole-heartily, ate wholly.
Unfortunately these are their happy side…
They have another side.
A painful side.
* * *
Magnificent constable caught a magnificent thief, planned feast to celebrate the heroic deed, ate and drank whole-heartily, drank till half-death.
Great bandit completed a big heist, handed some to the poor, spent the entire day in wine and pleasure, spent until there was no more.
Great hero with fame and power and no matter where he went, he was respected and welcomed.
Noble child born to luxury and extravagance, who always had whatever he wanted.
These lives are definitely envious; but have you seen their other side?
* * *
They had their loneliness and pain.
In dark and quiet night, waking up after drinking whole-heartily, and then suddenly realizing the person lying next to you is someone you didn’t even know the name of.
Have you experienced this before?
Between the noise of cheers and acclaims, after a person returns home to the pitch-black window only wishing for daylight to come out quicker.
Have you felt this way before?
Tonight you spent in drinking and pleasure, party blissfully, but you do not even know when you will be at tomorrow.
Even not knowing where you will be drunk tonight.
Willow tree dances in the wind, breezes at dawn and the fading moon. Although these moods are beautiful, but in its beauty how desolate it is and how it makes a man heart-broken.
This type of happiness, would you want to enjoy it?
Hypothetically, if you are able to have whatever you wanted, then what in life is worth chasing after?
This type of meaningless, who would know?
This is because I am also a Jianghu man and a wanderer without a root. If someone says I am in a slow and chronic suicide, seeking my own death, it is because he does not know —
Not know I already have a poisonous wine on my hand.
Of course it is the best poison.
* * *
What’s written in wuxia novels are people of Jianghu, but what I am writing right now is a bit different.
I want to write a series of stories; each chapter is a model representing individuals at its core.
I want to write about their happiness and about their pain.
I want them to create a mirror, in which everyone can find out what they should do through this mirror.
No matter what, they are lovely people.
It is because they dare to love and dare to hate, dare to cry and dare to laugh. It is also because they speak of loyalty and have principals.
* * *
Life, after all, is also lovely.
When a man is alive, he ought to understand how to enjoy life and how to pursue happiness.
If a man’s face is dirty, should he not go to a mirror in order to see how to wipe it off?
I only hope this mirror could do the same; help people wipe away the dirt spots in their lives.
I truly hope every one’s life could become happier.
Sword of the Third Young Master
One Sword Strikes Through the Heart
Aura of the sword sweeps across 30 000 li (miles)
Light of the sword chills through nineteen zhou (continents/islands)
Tree leaves were falling due to the wind. The setting sun filled the sky.
Under the falling tree leaves, there stood a man. It was as if he was one with this vast land’s autumn scenery.
Because he was too quiet.
Because he was too cold.
Along this bone-deep cold detachment and tiredness, there was a kind of threatening killing aura.
He was tired. Perhaps it was because he had already killed too many. There were even some who should not have been killed.
He killed only because he never had a choice.
* * *
There was a sword in his palm; a northern snakehead leather scabbard with a golden mouth and decorated with thirteen large pearls, with a long sword .
In Jianghu, there were not many people who did not recognize this sword, and not many people who did not know this man.
This man and his sword had been famous in Jianghu since he was seventeen. Right now, he was nearing middle age; he could not longer put down this sword. Other also would not allow him to put down this sword.
When he put down this sword, his life would come to an end.
Fame, sometimes, is like a baggage; a baggage you can never get rid of.
“The nineteenth of September. Youshi (5-7pm). On the side of the ancient road outside of Luoyang city, under the old tree, clean your throat, and come with your sword!”
Sunset at youshi.
The autumn sun had set and the fallen leaves were fluttering.
On the ancient road, a person was coming while taking big strides. He was dressed in fresh and exquisite clothing. He had a pale face and a long sword hanging diagonally behind his shoulder. His pair of eyes was like swords that came out of its scabbards; staring at the sword under the tree.
He footsteps were steady, but he was walking quickly. He stopped seven chi (feet) away and suddenly asked, “Yan Shisan?”
“Your Duoming Shisan Jian (Life Snatching Thirteen Sword), is it really invincible?”
This person laughed. He laughed mockingly and insensitively and said, “I am Gao Tong. The “One Sword Strikes Through the Heart”, Gao Tong.”
“Did you ask to meet me here?”
“I know you are currently looking for me.”
“That’s right. I am looking for you, because I have to kill you.”
Yan Shisan coldly said, “You are not the only one who wants to kill me.”
Gao Tong said, “It’s because you are too famous. As long as I kill you, I can instantly become famous.”
He was laughing coldly and continued, “It is not easy to become famous in Jianghu. Only this method is relatively easy.”
Yan Shisan responded, “Very good.”
Gao Tong said, “Right now I’ve already came. I brought my sword and cleaned my throat.”
“Where is your heart?”
“My heart is already dead.”
“Then I will let it to die one more time.”
The light of the sword flashed and was already drawn out of its sheath. It was heading straight at Yan Shisan’s heart as fast as lightning.
One sword strikes through the heart.
With just this one sword, he had already pierced through countless of people’s heart. This was supposedly a fatal killer!
However, he did not pierced through Yan Shisan’s heart. As his sword thrust out, his throat suddenly became cold.
Yan Shisan’s sword was thrust into his throat.
It was thrusted one cun three fen (4.33 cm/1.7 in) deep.
Gao Tong’s sword fell, but he was still not dead.
Yan Shisan said, “I hope you know, becoming famous is not an enjoyable thing.”
Gao Tong stared at him, his eyes were sticking out.
Yan Shisan dully said, “So you will be better off dead.”
He pulled out his sword from Gao Tong’s throat. He was pulling it out very slowly so that the fresh blood would not splatter on his body.
He was very experience with this. If blood stained your clothes, it will be very hard to clean it off.
— Wouldn’t it be even harder to wash off the bloodstain on your hand?
* * *
The twilight grew even darker.
The blood on the sword had finished dripping.
As the sword went back to its sheath, four people appeared in the twilight.
Four people, four swords!
The four people were dressed very exquisitely and had very imposing manners. The hair of the oldest was already completely white. The youngest was still a youth.
Yan Shisan had never seen these people before, but still knew who they were.
The oldest had been famous for forty years; he had remained outside the frontier all these years. His self-developed Feiying Shisan Ci (Flying Eagle Thirteen Stabs) stance dominated the border region. This time he entered the border to look for Yan Shisan. He did not believe his “Flying Eagle Thirteen Stabs” could be less than Yan Shisan’s “Life Snatching Thirteen Sword”.
The youngest was a promising youth who had recently rose to fame in Jianghu. He was also the most outstanding student of the Diancang Sect. He had natural talent and was willing to endure hardship. His heart was also very ruthless. That was why after debuting for only one year, the name “Heartless Youngster” Cao Bing had already shook Jianghu.
The other two were, of course, also highly skilled masters. Qing Feng Jian’s swordplay was light and unpredictable, his sword was like wind. Iron Sword Zhen Sansha’s swordplay was steady and vigorous, his sword actually weighed thirty-three catties.
* * *
Yan Shisan knew who they were. They came because he invited them here.
All four people’s eyes were staring at him. No one even glanced at the corpse on the ground.
They were not willing to break their own spirit before they even attack. No matter who was lying dead on the ground, it had nothing to do with them. As long as they were alive, whoever was dead or alive did not matter to them.
Yan Shisan smiled. He was smiling wearily, “I can’t believe you all came.”
Guanwai Feiying coldly said, “I thought you only invited me.”
Yan Shisan said indifferently, “If something can be taken care of once, why waste more time on it.”
Cao Bing interrupted, “Four people came, so who goes first?”
He was anxious.
He was anxious to become famous and anxious to kill Yan Shisan.
Iron Sword Zhen Sanshan suggested, “We can use rock paper scissors. The winner gets to go first.”
Yan Shisan said, “Not necessary.”
Iron Sword Zhen Sanshan asked, “Not necessary?”
Yan Shisan said, “You can all attack together!”
Guanwai Feiying angrily said, “What kind of people do you think we are? How can we use many against the few?”
Yan Shisan asked, “You are not willing?”
Guanwai Feiying replied, “Of course not willing.”
Yan Shisan said, “I’m willing!”
He had already drawn his sword. His sword flashed like a rainbow and lightning. It suddenly flashed at the same time in front of all four men’s eyes.
Now they had no choice even if they were unwilling. All four of their swords left their sheath at the same time. Cao Bing attack was the fastest, the most vicious, and the most heartless.
Guanwai Feiying leapt in the air and attacked downward. Flying Eagle Thirteen Stances was the same type of martial art as the Qiqin Zhang (Seven Avian Palm); using height to strike low and strength to conquer the weak. Unfortunately, his opponent was even stronger.
In a blink of an eye, Cao Bing had struck out nine sword stances. He did not pay attention to the others, but only stared at Yan Shisan. His only wish was to have this man die under his sword. Unfortunately, his nine sword strikes hit nothing but air. Yan Shisan, who was originally in front of his eyes, was now nowhere to be seen. He paused and then realized something very frightening.
Three more dead people appeared on the ground. Each one of their throats had a hole.
Guanwai Feiying, Qing Fengjian, and Iron Sword Zhen Sanshan, these three first-class swordsmen in Jianghu, had all in the blink of an eye died under Yan Shisan’s sword.
Cao Bing’s hands were ice cold. He lifted his head and then saw Yan Shisan was already standing far away underneath that ancient tree.
The killing sword had returned to its sheath.
Cao Bing gripped his hands tightly and said, “You…”
Yan Shisan interrupted him, “I don’t want to kill you yet!”
Cao Bing asked, “Why?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Because I want to give you another chance to kill me.”
The green veins on Cao Bing’s hand were bulging. The sweats on his forehead were like beans. He could not accept such an opportunity. This was an insult. However, he also did not want to give up this opportunity.
Yan Shisan continued, “Go back and practice sword skills for three years, then come back and kill me.”
Cao Bing clenched his teeth.
Yan Shisan continued, “Diancang’s swordplay is really not bad. As long as you’re willing to practice, then you’ll surely have a chance.”
Cao Bing suddenly asked, “What if you have already died under someone else’s sword three years later?”
Yan Shisan smiled, “Then you can go kill the person who killed me.”
Can Bing bitterly replied, “You better take care, and better not die!”
Yan Shisan said, “I also hope that would be the case!”
* * *
The twilight grew even darker. Darkness had enveloped the land.
Yan Shisan slowly turned around and faced the darkest part of the night. Suddenly, he said, “Are you well?”
After a long time, there was indeed a reply in the darkness, “I am not well.”
It was a cold voice; hoarse yet deep. A man slowly emerged from the darkness. Black clothes, black hair, black sheathed sword, and his face was black as if it was carrying an expression of death. Only his pair of pitch black eyes was shining. He walked very slowly, yet his entire body seemed very light. His feet seemed as if it did not even touch the ground; like a spirit of the night.
Yan Shisan’s pupils suddenly contracted. He suddenly asked, “Raven?”
Yan Shisan deeply sighed, “Couldn’t believe that in the end I still meet you!”
Raven replied, “Meeting me is not a good thing.”
Indeed it was not. Raven is not a magpie, no one like to see a raven. In ancient times, there was a legend — the arrival of raven would bring disaster. What kind of disaster did he bring this time?
— Perhaps he himself was the disaster, an unavoidable disaster.
* * *
Since it was unavoidable, then why bother and worry about it? Yan Shisan had returned back to calmness.
Raven stared at him, stared at his sword, and then said, “Great sword!”
Yan Shisan asked, “You like swords?”
The Raven replied, “I only like great swords. You not only have great swordplay, but also have a great sword.”
Yan Shisan asked, “You want my sword?”
Raven replied, “En.”
His reply was straightforward yet simple. Yan Shisan laughed. This time, his smile no longer had that weary expression, but only a killing aura! He knew that he had, at last, met a true opponent.
Raven said, “Magpies bring good news, but ravens, however, bring difficulties and disasters.”
Yan Shisan asked, “You came to bring disaster?”
Raven replied, “Yes.”
Yan ShiSan asked, “I will face disaster?”
Raven said, “Yes.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Are you the disaster that I must face?”
Raven replied, “No.”
Yan Shisan asked, “If it is not you, then what is it?”
Black Raven replied, “It is your sword!”
* * *
An ordinary man by himself is innocent, but treasuring a jade ring becomes a crime. Yan Shisan obviously understood this principle. His fame and his sword were like the musk deer’s smell and the antelope’s antlers.
Raven said, “I have already collected seventeen swords.”
Yan Shisan replied, “Quite a few.”
Raven continued, “All seventeen are famous swords.”
Yan Shisan said, “Looks like you’ve also killed quite a few famous people.”
Raven said, “I also want Gao Tong and the Old Eagle’s swords.”
Yan Shisan responded, “If you take care of their corpses, all four swords are yours.”
Raven said, “I only want the swords, not the corpses!”
Yan Shisan asked, “Could it be that you only want dead people’s swords?”
Raven said, “That’s right!”
Yan Shisan said, “If you kill me, my sword’s yours as well!”
Raven said, “Of course.”
Yan Shisan said, “Very good.”
Raven said, “Not good.”
Yan Shisan replied, “What’s not good?”
A Change of Fortune
Raven said, “Right now I am still not certain I can kill you!”
Yan Shisan laughed loudly. He suddenly realized that this man truly was a raven – at least ravens would not tell lies.
Raven continued, “Especially that sword stance you used just now to kill Guanwai Feiying.”
Yan Shisan remarked, “You can’t break that sword stance?”
Raven said, “I can’t think of a person who can break that sword stance.”
Yan Shisan asked, “You believe that this swordplay is the unparalleled in the world?”
Raven replied, “I have seen the great masters from both the Seven Major Sword Sects and the Four Great Noble Families.”
Yan Shisan asked, “What do you think of them?”
Raven replied, “Their swordplay are all too conservative. They value their own lives too much. Therefore,
they are inferior to you.”
Yan Shisan sighed and said, “Your insights are quite good, but your knowledge is quite limited.”
Raven replied, “Oh?”
Yan Shisan continued, “I know a man who can break that sword stance of mine easily.”
Raven’s expressions changed, “You’ve seen his swordsmanship?”
Yan Shisan nodded and sighed, “Now that swordplay is truly unparalleled in the world.”
Raven asked, “Who is this man?”
Yan Shisan did not answer directly, but only held out three fingers.
Raven asked, “Three Hand Sword Jin Fei15?”
Legend has it that when Three Hand Sword dueled with someone, it was as if he had three hands. A single sword also seemed to transform into three. One only needed to hear his name to be able to imagine the quickness of his swordplay and the numerous variations of his stances.
Yan Shisan, however, shook his head, “To truly kill someone, you don’t need three hands, nor do you need three swords.”
To truly kill someone, one sword is enough.
Raven said, “So you’re not talking about him?”
Yan Shisan replied, “No!”
Raven asked, “Who is it?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Third Young Master.”
Raven asked, “Which family’s third young master?”
Yan Shisan replied, “At the foot of the Emerald Cloud Peak, in front of the Green Water Lake.”
Raven’s fists tightened. Yan Shisan continued, “He is also using a precious sword that is unparalleled in the world.”
Raven’s pupils contracted. Yan Shisan continued, “But I advise you that no matter what do not go meet him.”
Raven suddenly laughed. He rarely laughed, and his laughter was erratic yet strange. Yan Shisan said, “This is not a joke.”
Raven replied, “I’m laughing at you.”
Yan Shisan said, “Oh?”
Raven replied, “You obviously knew that since I already came here, I would never let you go.”
Yan Shisan agreed.
Raven continued, “Although I’m not certain that I can kill you, you also are not certain that you can kill me.”
Yan Shisan admitted to this. Raven continued, “Therefore you want to provoke me to go to Emerald Cloud Peak and challenge that Third Young Master first.”
Yan Shisan also laughed!
Raven asked, “Is this a joke to you?”
Yan Shisan replied, “No, I’m laughing at myself.”
Raven said, “Oh?”
Yan Shisan explained, “Because you see through my mind so easily.”
Raven asked, “So right now you are not willing to duel with me?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Very unwilling.”
Raven asked, “Why?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Because I still have an appointment to keep.”
Raven asked, “What kind of appointment?”
Yan Shisan replied, “An appointment with death.”
Raven asked, “Where is the appointment?”
Yan Shishan answered, “At the foot of the Emerald Cloud Peak, in front of the Green Water Lake.”
Raven asked, “You are still going even though you know perfectly well that you are not his match?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Appointment of death is eternal until we’ve met?”
Raven asked, “Could it be that you are intentionally going to your death?”
Yan Shisan laughed again and plainly said, “Could it be that you think living is such an enjoyable thing?”
Raven shut his mouth.
Yan Shisan was still laughing; his laughter contained an indescribable hint of mockery. He said, “A swordsman will sooner or later die under someone else’s sword, there is no way to escape this.”
Raven kept his silence.
Yan Shisan said, “I had killed countless people in my life. If I could die under the sword of the world’s
number one swordsman, then I would die with no regrets.”
Raven looked at him and stared at him for a very long time. Suddenly he said, “Fine. You can go.”
Yan Shisan cupped his fists to bid farewell, turned around and left without another word. He did not go far before he stopped once again. He discovered that Raven had been following him all along; following him like his shadow.
Raven also stopped and looked at him.
Yan Shisan said, “I understood your intentions.”
Black Raven said, “Oh?”
Yan Shisan said, “If I can go, why can’t you go as well?”
Raven said, “You are not stupid.”
Yan Shisan said, “But you don’t necessarily have to go with me together.”
Raven replied, “I have to.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Why?”
Raven replied, “Because I don’t want to miss the chance to see the duel between the two of you.” He continued coldly, “A dual between great masters, they had to use their full strength. If I watched from the side, I definitely would be able to identify the flaws in their swordplay.”
Yan Shisan sighed, “Makes sense.”
Raven said, “No matter which one of you wins or loses in this dual, the one alive at the very end must be me.”
Yan Shisan said, “Because by that time, the victor must have also exhausted all his strength. Additionally, you have identified the flaw in his swordplay; so if you wanted to kill him, that would be the best opportunity.”
Raven said, “So how can I miss out on such an opportunity?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Indeed, you should not.”
He sighed again, “It’s just a pity that you’ve made one slight error.”
Black Raven asked, “What is it?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Within Third Young Master’s swordplay, there is no flaw, not even one!”
* * *
Right now they had already started drinking.
The best restaurant, the best wine; they had always been extravagant men.
Yan Shisan said, “After killing people, I must drink wine.”
Raven responded, “Without killing people, I’d still drink wine.”
Yan Shisan continued, “After drinking wine, I must to find a woman.”
Raven responded, “Without drinking wine, I’d still go find a woman.”
Yan Shisan laughed loudly, “Who knew that you are a voluptuary16.”
Raven replied, “We are both the same.”
They had really drunk quite a few.
Yan Shisan said, “Since you’re also a voluptuary, I’ll let you have it today.”
Raven asked, “Let me have what?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Let you have the bill.”
The Raven said, “No need to let me have it, no need to be polite.”
Yan Shisan said, “This time I must let you have it, I must be polite.”
Raven replied, “No need, no need.”
Yan Shisan said, “I have to, I have to.”
When others dine out, they tend to insist on paying the bill, but these two were insisting on not paying the bill.
Yan Shisan said, “When I have to kill, I never carry any burdens with me, so they won’t get in the way.”
Raven replied, “Oh?”
Yan Shisan continued, “Silver is the most burdensome thing.”
Raven agreed. If a person carried a few hundred taels of silver with them, how could he possibly still display light movements?
Raven suggested, “You can bring silver banknotes.”
Yan Shisan said, “I hate silver banknotes.”
Raven asked, “Why?”
Yan Shisan replied, “A single banknote passed through countless pairs of hands. It’s awfully filthy.”
Raven suggested again, “The large pearls on your sword can be exchanged for silver.”
Yan Shisan laughed again. Raven asked, “Is this a joke?”
Yan Shisan replied, “The world’s biggest joke.”
He suddenly lowered his voice, “All the pearls are fake. I sold the real ones a long time ago.”
Raven was stunned. Yan Shisan continued, “Therefore today I have to be polite and let you have it.”
Raven asked, “What if I didn’t come with you?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Then I’d obviously have other ways. But now since you’re here already, why would I need to think of other ways?”
Raven also laughed.
Yan Shisan asked, “What are you laughing at?”
Raven said, “I’m laughing at you because you found the wrong person.”
He also lowered his voice, “I’m the same as you. Tonight, I also came prepared to kill.”
Yan Shisan asked, “You also hate paper money?”
Raven replied, “I despise them.”
Yan Shisan was also stunned.
Raven said, “So today I also have to be polite and let you have the honor.”
Yan Shisan sighed only to see the restaurant owner came forward with a laugh.
“Both of you need not to be polite to each other because both of your bills had already been paid for by someone downstairs.”
* * *
Who paid the bills? Why would they pay the bills for them? They did not even think about it, nor did they even ask about it. To them, none of these were important.
To be able to eat and drink freely without paying is always a very happy thing.
When a person is happy, it is natural to drink more than usual. However, they were not drunk yet.
Just when they were about to feel a bit drunk, two women suddenly came up from downstairs. Both were very attractive women and they were very well dressed. They were exactly the kind of women who could captivate men the best.
When men are on the verge of being drunk, they are most easily tempted.
Yan Shisan and Raven were already captivated, and were just planning on thinking of a way to seduce them. Who knew that they actually did not even need to be seduced; they came over by themselves.
“I am Xiao Hong.”
“I am Xiao Cui.”
The two of them smiled very sweetly and very charmingly, “We came here specifically to serve you two.”
Yan Shisan looked at Raven, and Raven looked at Yan Shisan.
If the people who had died under their swords saw what they looked like now, they would surely feel that they had died unjustly. Now, they did not look at all like the world famous, heartless swordsmen.
Xiao Hong sweetly said, “Would the two gentlemen like to drink wine here or come to our place; either is fine.”
Xiao Cui said, “The bills for both places, someone had already paid for.”
Although there were many good people and good deeds in the world, such good thing was still very rare.
Raven asked, “Is this your luck or is it mine?”
Yan Shisan replied, “It is certainly mine.”
Raven asked, “Why?”
Yan ShiSan replied, “They say that when a man was about to die, his fortune would always change.”
* * *
This was the first day.
The second day was also the same, no matter where they went, someone always paid for their bills.
Who was paying the bills? Why? They still did not even ask or even think about it.
They slept very late and rose very late. Every day, the moment they stepped out of the inn’s door, there would be a carriage waiting for them outside. It was as if someone was worried that they would be too tired from the night before and were unable to walk. But today, they wanted to get off the carriage and walk.
The weather today was excellent.
Raven asked, “Is the Emerald Cloud Peak far away?”
Yan Shisan answered, “Not very far.”
Raven said, “To travel like this, I hope to travel a bit further. The further the better.”
Yan Shisan said, “We could walk slowly.”
In front of them was a large forest; the tree leaves were still very green. Yan Shisan suggested, “How about we go drink for a bit in the forest?”
Raven asked, “Where’s the wine?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Relax, if we want to drink, someone would naturally bring the wine here.”
* * *
It was a sunny day.
They walked along the sun-lit road; the carriage was following behind them. On the other side of the road, however, a carriage was coming over and only stopped after it drove into the forest. Three adults and a child stepped out of the carriage.
The Strange Sword of Thousand Snakes
The adults went in. A beautiful child in green clothes and a small hat came out, took a big red silk ribbon and tied it on the tree branches outside. The child also went into the forest. Then Yan Shisan sighed, “Looks like we better change to another location to drink wine.”
Raven asked, “Is this place not good?”
Yan Shisan replied, “It’s very good!”
Raven asked, “If it’s very good, then why should we change?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Because of this.”
He pointed at the red silk ribbon on the tree branch.
Raven asked, “What does this mean?”
Yan Shisan replied, “This means that this place has momentarily become a forbidden ground, and no one else can enter.”
Raven laughed coldly, “Whose rules are these?”
Before Yan Shisan could reply, the sound of a zither suddenly flowed out from the forest. The sound was melodious and beautiful, and was filled with happiness and joy.
The Raven, however, tightly clenched his fists.
At that moment, eleven fast horses were suddenly galloping on the road. The riders on the horses were wearing tightly fitted clothes. They were agile and fierce. Each person was carrying a large saber on his back. The red silk ribbons on the saber were dancing in the wind. As the horses rushed into the forest, each of the riders got off their horses. Each of their movements seemed strong and vigorous.
There were not many true skilled masters in the martial world, but these eleven people all appeared to be skilled masters.
The one with the swiftest movements was a one-armed big fellow, as soon as he rushed into the forest, he shouted fiercely, “Brings all your lives and come with me!”
* * *
The sound of the zither in the forest did not stop, still sounded so melodious and beautiful, and made people joyous.
The eleven big men already stormed in.
Raven asked, “Did these men came from Mount Tai Hang?”
Yan Shisan said, “En.”
Raven said, “The Great Sabers of Tai Hang do indeed have guts.”
Yan Shisan said, “En.”
Raven asked, “What do you think they came here for?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Came here to die!”
As soon as he finished speaking, someone flew out from the forest, falling heavily on the ground. He stopped moving as soon as he hit the ground, without even making a single sound.
This man was the most agile and fiercest, the one-armed big fellow.
* * *
The melodious zither sound still did not stop.
From the forest, however, bodies continued to fly out nonstop, one after another, a total of eleven.
The eleven men, as soon as they flew out, dropped to the ground and could not even move.
When they stormed into the forest, they moved very fast.
They came out even faster.
Raven coldly said, “They had indeed come here to die.”
Yan Shisan replied, “It seems that they’re not the only ones who came here to die.”
Raven asked, “There is still me?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Now is not your turn yet.”
Raven did not ask any further.
He had already seen two people approaching on the road – one adult and one child. The adult was not very old, and was at the most around thirty years old. Moreover, it was a woman; a woman that appeared very delicate and very pretty. Her face had an expression of indescribable sorrow. The child was younger than the child who came out a moment ago to tie the silk ribbon, and had a pair of large eyes that were constantly looking around. Anyone could tell that this was a very smart child – cute as well as smart.
However, he was about to do something that was perhaps not very smart.
They were walking toward the forest.
Even Raven could not bear to see them walking to their deaths and was prepared to stop them.
They had also seen the red silk ribbon on the branch, and the young ma’am, who was dressed in emerald green clothes, suddenly said, “Untie it!”
Thus, the child stood on his toes and untied it, but then also replaced the knot with a piece of emerald green silk ribbon that he took out.
After that, the two slowly walked into the forest.
It was as if neither of the two had seen the dead bodies on the ground nor Raven and Yan Shisan. Raven originally planned to stop them, but now, for some reason he had changed his mind. Yan Shisan did not even move.
Their eyes, however, both showed a strange expression.
Just now, the sound of zither in the forest suddenly stopped.
* * *
The wind was blowing the tree leaves and the sunlight basked the earth.
A very, very long time had passed after the zither had stopped; there was still no sound coming out from inside the forest.
No one knew just what had happened inside.
* * *
Who was the one playing the zither?
Why did the zither music suddenly stop?
Would the young woman and the child be thrown out of the forest just like the men of Great Sabers of Tai Hang?
* * *
Anyone would want to know the answers to these questions. Raven and Yan Shisan were no exceptions.
Therefore they did not leave. Even the driver of the horse carriage, who was following behind them, had his eyes wide opened waiting to see some excitements.
There was no excitement to see. No one was thrown out.
They only heard a series of footsteps treading on the fallen leaves. The footsteps were very light and very slow. Walking in the front was the older child who moments ago came out to tie the red silk ribbon onto the branch. Two people were slowly walking behind him, a man and a woman who seemed to be husband and wife. They both were not very old, their attire was exquisite, and their demeanor was very elegant.
The man carried a long sword at his waist, and looked handsome and suave. The woman was not only beautiful but also gentle. If they really were husband and wife, then they really would be an enviable pair. Only now, both of their faces were a bit pale and they seemed to be a bit angry.
They were initially planning to step into the carriage, but changed their minds after they saw Raven and Yan Shisan standing outside the forest.
The two, in a low voice, gave a few instructions to the child. The child ran over and stared at them with his pair of big eyes. He said, “Have you been here for a long time?”
Yan Shisan nodded.
The child asked, “You’ve seen everything that just happened?”
The child asked, “Do you know where we’re from?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Flaming Mountains17, Red Cloud Valley, Xiahou Manor.”
The child sighed and said, “You seem to know quite a few things.”
Although his voice was clearly that of a child, his tone and facial expressions, however, were very mature.
Yan Shisan asked, “What’s your name?”
The child said with a serious face, “You don’t need to ask for my name. I’m not here to make friends with you!”
Raven asked, “What are you here for?”
The child replied, “Our master (gongzi) want to borrow three things from you, three things from each of you!”
Raven asked, “Which three?”
The child replied, “A tongue and two eyes.”
Yan ShiSan laughed.
Raven also laughed unexpectedly.
The two suddenly reached out simultaneously, one grabbing his arms and the other grabbing his legs, and at the same time said in a low voice!
Then the child flew up with a “whoosh” sound, like a missile shooting straight up toward the sky.
That man placed his hands behind his back as if he did not even see this, but his wife frowned.
Only then did the child fall back down.
Raven and Yan Shisan reached out simultaneously again, caught him gently, and gently placed him on the ground. The child was now scared out of his wits and even his pants were wet.
Yan Shisan, smiling, patted his head and said, “Don’t worry, when I was little, I was often thrown up like this by adults.”
Raven added, “This way helps build up courage.”
The child rolled his eyes and was prepared to flee.
Yan Shisan said, “You didn’t take the things you came here for, how are you going to explain it when you go back?”
The child replied, “I…”
Yan Shisan said, “I can teach you a method.”
The child was listening.
Yan Shisan continued, “Would your master happen to be Master Xiahou?”
The child nodded.
Yan Shisan asked, “Did he ask you come get these things?”
The child kept on nodding.
Yan Shisan said, “Then you can go back and ask him, if he’s the one who wants these three things, why doesn’t he come get it himself?”
The child did not nod anymore, and ran immediately after turning around.
Master Xiahou’s face was still expressionless, but his wife walked over. Her walking posture was graceful yet noble, her voice was also very refined, and she gently said, “My name is Xue Keren18. The man standing over there is my husband Xiahou Xing.”
Yan Shisan blandly said, “So it is the young zhuangzhu (manor master) of Red Cloud Valley.”
Xue Keren replied, “Since both of you have heard of his name, then you should know what kind of a person he is.”
Yan Shisan said, “I don’t know.”
Xue Keren replied, “He is a genius. Not only is he skilled at both literary and martial arts, very few people can match his swordplay.”
Even if women admire their own husbands, they would still rarely praise their husbands like this in front of others. Even if they did praise, they would at least still blush a little. Not only did she not blush, she did not even look a bit embarrassed. Her beautiful eyes were full of love and admiration for her husband.
Yan Shisan sighed to himself. — Being able to marry such a woman, what good fortune.
Xue Keren continued, “Against a person like him, it is only natural the two of you wouldn’t want to fight him!”
Yan Shisan replied, “Oh?”
Xue Keren replied, “Because not only is he from such a distinguished family, he is also extremely skilled himself. If you two fight someone like him, isn’t it akin to eggs hitting against rocks? Therefore I would advise both of you should still…”
Yan Shisan said, “Should still obediently cut off our tongues, gouge our eyes out, and give to him?”
Xue Keren sighed again and said, “Although that method is a little inconvenient, it is at least better than losing your lives.”
Yan Shisan laughed again and suddenly asked, “Is this young master of yours, who’s skilled in both literary and martial arts, a mute?”
Xue Keren replied, “Of course not!”
Yan ShiSan replied, “Then why doesn’t he come here and say these things himself?”
Raven coldly said, “Even if he was mute, he still has an *ss. Why can’t he let these bullshits out by himself?”
Xiahou Xing’s facial expressions changed.
Yan Shisan continued, “Since he won’t come over, why can’t we go over there?”
Raven replied, “We can.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Should you go? Or should I go?”
Raven replied, “You!”
Yan Shisan said, “It is said that his ‘Lotus Root May Break But Its Fiber Remain Connected, Meteor Shower Filled the Sky’20 Thousand Snakes Sword is not only a good sword, but also a strange sword!”
Raven said, “En.”
Yan Shisan asked, “If he died, who does his sword belong to?”
Raven replied, “Belong to you!”
Yan Shisan asked, “You don’t want that sword?”
Raven replied, “I do!”
Yan ShiSan asked, “Then why are you not eager to fight him?”
Raven said, “Because I’m too lazy to fight with brats like that. He annoys me the second I see him.
Before he could finish, a shadow flashed before his eyes and Xiahou Xing was already standing in front of him. His face was pale and he said coldly, “But the one I want to fight is you!”
Raven replied, “Then draw your sword quickly!”
* * *
Xiahou Xing’s sword already left its sheath.
‘Lotus Root May Break But Its Fiber Remain Connected, Meteor Shower Filled the Sky’ Thousand Snakes Sword.
This was indeed a strange sword.
With a tremble of his hand, the single sword seemed to have transformed into hundreds and thousand of silver snakes, transformed into meteor shower that filled the sky. It seemed to have broken into countless of slices, each slices aiming for the vital points.
Raven’s vital points.
Ravens could fly, but he could not take off. He turned around and a sword light flew out and protected his body.
A “Ka” sound was heard and the thousands of broken swords suddenly merged again and thrust towards his throat. This sword was installed with an ingenious secret mechanism which allowed it be merged together and divided at will. When it was together, the sword was one long sword. When it was divided, it turned into thousands of secret projectiles all linked together by a thin silver wire. When the thin silver wire was contracted, the mechanism activates and it became one single sword again.
Yan ShiSan sighed again and said, “I should have fought this battle. I also want this sword.”
Suddenly, there was a series of “ding ding” noise, like dense rain hitting the window or beads falling into a jade plate.
In this short moment, Raven had also thrust out (seven seven) forty-nine stances, each hitting a fragmented sword piece of the Thousand Snake Sword.
The Thousand Snake Sword immediately softened as if it was a long, silvery whip. Raven’s sword had already wrapped around the tip of the whip. Xiahou Xing’s facial expressions changed. He turned around and leapt into midair. The tip of the whip spun, along with his body, and left Raven’s sword’s hold; with a “Ka” sound it merged into a single sword again.
Yan Shisan immediately interrupted, “Neither of you won this battle, now it’s my turn!”
Xiahou Xing laughed coldly. He looked around in all four directions and his facial expressions suddenly changed again and turned worse than a moment ago.
He suddenly realized that there was one person missing.
The child was lying on the ground, as if someone had sealed his pressure points. But Xue Keren was nowhere to be seen.
XiaHou Xing kicked open his pressure points and fiercely asked, “Who did this?”
The child was pale and replied, “It … it was the Mistress!”
Xiahou Xing asked, “Where is the Mistress?”
The child replied, “The Mistress ran away.”
* * *
The child was still sitting on the ground crying, but XiaHou Xing had already left in pursuit. Yan Shisan and Raven did not stop him.
If a man’s wife suddenly ran away, how does he feel? They could guess what that feels like. However they could never have dreamed that such a gentle and virtuous woman, who admired her husband so much, would suddenly run away while her husband was in a battle of life and death. They seemed like a perfect match, a happy couple; even Yan Shisan felt very envious of them.
Right now, why would she run away?
* * *
Yan ShiSan suddenly felt very sorrowful, not for himself, and definitely not for that young master.
He felt sorrowful for man.
For mankind – Who knew that so many of mankind’s unfortunate, unlucky, and unhappy things were hidden within fortune, luck, and happiness?
* * *
The child crying on the ground had left, but another even younger child ran out smiling merrily. He was not running very fast, but arrived in front of Yan Shisan and Raven in a blink of the eye. He was at most seven or eight years old. No one would believe that a seven or eight year old child could have such qinggong (lightness martial art). Yan Shisan and Raven had no choice but to believe, since they had witnessed this with their own eyes.
This child was also looking at them and smiling. He was smiling adorably.
Raven usually did not like children. He always thought that little children were like kittens and puppies, and a man should walk very far away as soon as he sees them. This time, however, he did not walk away, but asked, “What’s your name?”
The child replied, “I’m Little Nuisance.”
Raven asked, “You’re obviously not a nuisance, why are you called Little Nuisance?”
Little Nuisance replied, “You’re obviously a human, why are you called Raven?”
Raven wanted to laugh, but did not.
Isn’t a raven precisely a nuisance to everyone? How many people in this world love hearing honest and truthful words?
Yan Shisan could not help but ask, “You know he’s called Raven?”
Little Nuisance replied, “What a waste of breath.”
Yan Shisan’s question really was a waste of breath. If Little Nuisance did not know he was called Raven, then why would he call him that?
Little Nuisance said again, “Not only do I know that he’s called The Raven, I also know that you’re called Yan Shisan. It’s because there used to be a man called Yan Qi (Yan Seven) and another called Yan Wu (Yan Five), you felt that you were still a bit stronger than the two of them combined. Therefore you call yourself Yan Shisan (Yan Thirteen).”
Yan Shisan was stunned! This was indeed his intention, and also his secret. He could not guess how this Little Nuisance knew about it.
Little Nuisance said, “To be honest, I really don’t know much about you. I only heard about this from my older sister!”
This was another bit of surprise. The woman who just then walked into the forest together with him actually looked like his mother.
Yan Shisan asked, “Does your sister have a name?”
Little Nuisance replied, “Of course she does.”
Yan Shisan asked, “What’s her name?”
Little Nuisance asked, “Are you mute?”
Yan Shisan shook his head.
Little Nuisance asked, “Do you have legs?”
Yan Shisan lowered his head, as if he really wanted to check if he still had legs.
Little Nuisance said, “Since you have legs and aren’t mute, then why not go ask her yourself?”
Yan Shisan laughed and said, “Because I’m not blind either, I can still see.”
Little Nuisance asked, “See what?”
Yan Shisan pointed to the green silk ribbon on the tree branch, and said, “Since you’re the one who tied this knot, then of course you should know its meaning.”
Little Nuisance replied, “The meaning is, this domain is ours now. If you were not mute, then you’d turn mute once you go in. If you have legs, then you’d lose them once you go in.”
The Love and Hatred of a Foolish Woman
Yan Shisan did not argue, nor did he want to argue. These were the rules of the Four Great Noble Families of Wulin, and were recognized by default by all people of Jianghu. Unless one harbored deep bitter hatred, no one wished to break these rules.
Those who wished to mingle in Jianghu should usually more or less follow some of its rules. Even Yan Shisan was not an exception.
Little Nuisance said, “Unfortunately, even though you understand everything, there is one thing that you don’t understand.”
Yan Shisan replied, “Oh?”
Little Nuisance said, “Now, you have to go in even if you don’t want to.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Why?”
Little Nuisance replied, “Because right now it was my sister who told me to come and tell you to go inside.”
* * *
It was peaceful and quiet inside the forest. Even the sound of footsteps on the fallen leaves was gentle. Autumn became deeper as he arrived into the depth of the forest.
Raven did not come with him —
“Because my sister only wants to see him alone.”
Why did she want to see him? Furthermore, why did she want to see him alone? Yan Shisan could not fathom, thus he needed not to keep thinking.
He already could see her.
* * *
A new mat was spread out underneath an old tree, which its leaves were already withered yellow. On the mat were a zither, an incense pot, and a bottle of wine.
— These were clearly left here by Xiahou Xing. It was obvious that he was in a great hurry when he had left here.
— Was he perhaps chased away by this melancholy woman who was at this moment sitting underneath the tree?
She not only looked melancholy but also frail, as if she could never again handle even the slightest of attack.
Yan Shisan walked over. He gently walked over, as if he was afraid to alarm her. She, however, already looked up and stared at him with her clear pair of eyes, “So you’re Life Snatching Yan Shisan?
Yan Shisan nodded and said, “Is the lady from Emerald Cloud Peak?”
He recognized that the emerald green silk ribbon outside was the symbol of Emerald Cloud Mountain and Green Water Lake. However, she unexpectedly shook her head. Yan ShiSan really could not believe how someone who was not Emerald Cloud Peak could dare to use the symbol of Emerald Cloud Peak.
“I’m from the Seven Star Pond of Jiangnan.”
Her voice was also very frail, “My name is Murong Qiudi22.”
Yan Shisan was even more surprised. The Seven Star Pond of Jiangnan was also one of the Four Great Noble Families of Wulin.
Murong Qiudi was not only a famous beauty in Jianghu, but was also a famous pious daughter. To take care of her sickly parents, she had declined countless of marriage proposals, and had also sacrificed the most beautiful years of her life. Why did she suddenly appear here now? Could it be that the master of the Seven Star Pond, the “Gallant of Jiangnan” Murong Zheng23 had already passed away?
The reputation of Seven Star Pond was not beneath that of the Emerald Cloud Peak, so why would she steal someone else’s symbol?
Murong Qiudi, as if she had already guessed what he was thinking, suddenly spoke, “My father is not dead. Although he is very sick, he will not die for at least three to five years.”
Yan ShiSan sighed in relief, and replied, “Hopefully he will be healthy and can still live for a few more years.”
Murong Qiudi said, “This time I slipped out in secret, he doesn’t know.”
Yan Shisan could not help but want to ask: “Why?”
But before he could ask, Murong Qiudi already continued, “Because I want to kill someone.”
An indescribable sorrow and hatred suddenly appeared in her melancholy eyes.
She must truly despise this man – but who was this man?
Yan Shisan dared not to ask and did not want to ask. He did not want to bother with the affairs of the Four Great Noble Families of Wulin.
Murong Qiudi’s gaze seemed to stare into the distance and her body seemed to have left for a distant place as well. After a long time, she finally slowly continued, “You must all know that I’m a pious daughter.”
Yan Shisan acknowledged.
Murong Qiudi said, “During these past seven years, I had already declined the marriage proposals of forty-three men.”
Those who had the qualifications to come to Seven Star Pond to propose were obviously all sons from reputable families in Jianghu.
Murong Qiudi asked, “Do you know why I declined them?”
Yan Shisan replied, “Because you couldn’t bear to leave your father.”
Murong Qiudi said, “You’re wrong.”
Yan Shisan said, “Oh?”
Murong Qiudi said, “I’m not actually that pious daughter others think of me as, I…I…”
She suddenly forcefully clenched her hands, and said, “I am just a liar. Not only did I lie to others, I also lied to myself.”
Yan Shisan was dumbfounded. He dared not to look at her again, her eyes were red and her tears could come pouring down at any moment.
He did not want to see a woman shed tears, nor did he want to know the reasons why women shed tears.
Unfortunately, she just had to tell him.
“I declined others’ marriage proposals, only because I was always waiting for him to come propose.”
Who was “him”? Was he the one she wanted to kill?
Murong Qiudi’s tears finally started pouring down, “He promised me that he would definitely come. He promised many times.”
— But he did not come.
— A heartless man, using marriage as bait, deceived a sentimental girl.
— This tragedy did not belong solely to her.
— Since the ancient times, this kind of tragedy must’ve happened unknown amount of times, even till now this can still happen anytime and anywhere.
Yan Shisan did not feel sad for her, because only a tragedy that has befallen to himself is a true tragedy. Thus, it was difficult for other people’s tragedies to move someone like Yan Shisan.
Murong Qiudi said, “I met him when I was sixteen. He told me to wait for him for seven years.”
Seven years! What a long period of time.
From sixteen to twenty-three, what a beautiful period of time in a woman’s life.
How many of these seven years are there in a person’s life? Yan Shisan’s heart already began to sigh.
— When he asked you to wait for him for seven years, he was already deceiving you.
— He thought you definitely would not wait that long, thought you would’ve already forgotten him after seven years.
Yan Shisan was a man, thus obviously he understood the heart of a man but he did not say this. He could tell what kind of pain and torture, what kind of bitter experience these seven long years must have been for her.
Murong Qiudi said, “That child you saw earlier is not actually my little brother.”
Yan Shisan asked, “He’s not?”
Murong Qiudi explained, “He’s my son. The illegitimate son I have with that man.”
Yan Shisan was shocked. Only now did he understand why she had to wait seven years, why she despised that man. Now, even he felt sorrowful for her.
Murong Qiudi said, “I told you these things not so that you could feel bad for me.”
Her voice suddenly turned very cold, and her melancholy eyes also suddenly looked as sharp as the tip of a knife.
She coldly continued, “I want you to kill a man for me.”
Yan Shisan asked, “That man?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Yes!”
Yan Shisan said, “I only kill two types of people.”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Those who are your enemies?”
Yan ShiSan nodded, and said, “And one more, those who want to kill me.”
He slowly continued, “Therefore I hope you can understand one thing.”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Go ahead.”
Yan Shisan said, “If you must kill someone, then you must do it with your own hands. A knot you tied can only be untied by you.”
Murong Qiudi replied, “But I cannot.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Why?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Because … because I don’t want to see him again.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Is it because you’re afraid that if you see his face, you won’t have the heart to kill him?”
Murong Qiudi’s hands clenched tightly again.
Yan Shisan sighed and said, “Since you don’t have the heart to, then why must you kill him?”
Murong Qiudi stared at him and suddenly said, “I also hope that you can understand one thing.”
Yan Shisan replied, “Say it.”
Murong Qiudi said, “I must kill this man, and furthermore you must be the one who kill him!”
Yan Shisan asked, “Why?”
Murong Qiudi said, “Because this man’s name is Xie Xiaofeng24.”
Yan Shisan’s facial expressions changed, and he said, “The master of the Green Water Lake, Xie Xiaofeng?”
Murong Qiudi said, “That’s him!”
* * *
A very large plaque hung in the great hall of the Divine Sword Manor at the Green Water Lake in the Emerald Cloud Peak. On the plaque were only five words – golden words.
“The world’s number one sword.”
This was not the owners themselves boasting. This was many years ago, after all the famous swordsmen in the martial world had finished discussing the sword at the top of Mount Hua25, each person took out a tael of gold and cast them into these five words, and gave it as a gift to Xie Tian26.
Xie Tian was the first generation master of the Divine Sword Manor. This was history from a very, very long ago. Although the brightness of the golden words on the plaque was still eye-catching, the reputation of “the world’s number one sword” no longer remained. During the past few centuries, famous swordsmen poured out into the martial world, and no one could be unanimously declared the world’s number one sword.
The glory of Divine Sword Manor gradually faded from magnificent and returned to being ordinary, until this generation — because this generation, the Divine Sword Manor had produced another extraordinary talent, a rare prodigy, who caught the world’s attention.
Thirteen years ago, this man had already defeated Hua Yukun17, the number one swordsman of the Mount Hua Sect.
It seemed as if from the moment he was born, he brought forth all the blessings and favours from the gods above. The honours and love he received after he was born were even less matched by others. He was the long awaited swordsman of the martial world, and also the generally acknowledged talent in the martial world.
He was intelligent and handsome, healthy and strong, and was an honest and chivalrous man. None was able to find a single shortcoming or a single flaw in his life.
This man was the third young master of the “Divine Sword Manor” at the Green Water Lake.
This man was Xie Xiaofeng.
* * *
It was even quieter in the forest. The cool dry air was filled with the fragrance of the leaves.
Yan Shisan seemed to have completely lost his feelings. After he had heard these three words, even his breathing seemed to have stopped. After a long time, he finally gently sighed, and said, “I know this man.”
Murong Qiudi said, “Of course you should know. You two still have an appointment of death, which is eternal until you meet!”
Yan Shisan had to admit, “I had indeed made an appointment to meet him.”
Murong Qiudi asked, “You never change your appointments?”
Yan Shisan said, “Never.”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Then this appointment may very likely be your last appointment.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Oh?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “I have seen your swordplay. You’re definitely not his match.”
Yan Shisan laughed bitterly, “Since you already know, why would you still ask me to kill him?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Because you have met me.”
Yan Shisan said, “You …”
Murong Qiudi replied, “His swordplay is of the highest quality, and has almost surpassed the limits of swordplay.”
Yan Shisan sighed, and said, “He truly is a genius. I had also seen him strike.”
Murong Qiudi asked, “Have you also recognized the flaw in his swordplay?”
Yan Shisan replied, “There is no flaw in his swordplay, none at all.”
Murong Qiudi replied, “There is.”
Yan ShiSan asked, “Really?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Definitely, only one.”
Yan Shisan asked, “You know which one?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Only I know.”
Yan Shisan’s eyes shined. He believed that she was not telling a lie. If there existed one person in the world who could know the flaw in the swordplay of the Third Young Master, then that person had to be her.
Because they were once lovers. At least during the brief moment when they had that child, their souls no doubt were completely connected. Only a person who had truly been in love with him could know his secret.
For a swordsman who was unmatched by anyone in the world, his biggest secret was the flaw in his swordplay.
Not only did Yan Shisan’s eyes shined, his heart also beat faster. He was also a man who practiced the sword. He had also devoted his entire life and love to his sword. This was already not only a great devotion, but was also an extremely bitter sacrifice. This sacrifice was not completely without a cost.
The brief moment of splendid radiance in the moment of victory was enough to light up his life. His goal of practicing the sword was to seek victory, not to seek death.
If there was an opportunity for victory, then who would be willing to abandon it?
* * *
Murong Qiudi looked at his shining eyes, and clearly saw that he had been moved. She immediately continued, “In this world, only I can help you defeat him, and only you can help me kill him.”
Yan ShisSan asked, “Why only me?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Because in your Life-Snatching Thirteen Sword, there is one stance that if slightly altered, you could put him in his deathtrap!”
Yan Shisan asked, “Which sword stance is it?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “The fourteenth sword stance.”
* * *
It was obviously called Life Snatching Thirteen Sword, how could there be a fourteenth stance? Other people would definitely not understand.
Yan Shisan understood.
Although the Life Snatching Thirteen Sword had only thirteen stances, there were fourteen transformations. That transformation was truly the essence of his stances and the soul of his swordplay. Although the soul is invisible, no one could deny its existence!
Murong Qiudi suddenly stood up. She still looked so delicate and so weak, but her eyes again shined that light as if it was the tip of a knife. She stared at Yan Shisan and said word for word, “Right now I have already become Xie Xiaofeng.” After she had said these eight words, her eyes suddenly had an intimidating killing aura! A kind of killing aura that only highly skilled masters who have killed countless of people could have.
— Could it be that this delicate and weak gentlewoman from such a reputable family has also killed a person before? How many people did she kill?
Yan Shisan did not ask, nor was there a need to ask. He could tell.
Murong Qiudi broke off a withered tree branch and said, “This is my sword.”
Her body changed again after this piece of withered tree branch got into her hand. That all-conquering, uncontainable killing aura was not only in her eyes, but also in her body. It was everywhere!
Murong Qiudi replied, “Now you watch, and watch carefully. This is the only flaw in his swordplay.”
* * *
A gust of wind blew by. The wind was suddenly very cold.
Her body and sword have already begun to move. An extremely slow, extremely beautiful movement, as natural as the wind.
But who could withstand it when the wind finished blowing? And who could tell where the wind was blowing from?
Yan Shisan’s pupils were contracting.
Her sword had already very, very slowly thrust out.
It thrust out from the most inconceivable place, and when it was thrust out it suddenly had the most inconceivable transformation. But within this transformation there was indeed a small flaw.
— When the gale swept across the ground, was it difficult to avoid missing a spot?
— But when a gale blew over, who could pay attention to these spots?
Yan Shisan suddenly realized that cold sweats were secreted in the middle of his palms.
Just then, her movement stopped.
She coldly stared at Yan Shisan and asked, “Have you already discovered it now?”
Yan Shisan nodded.
Murong Qiudi said, “You can discover it, only because my movement was twenty-four times slower than when he strikes.”
Yan Shisan believed that her calculations were absolutely correct.
A true highly skilled master’s estimation towards the speed of swordplay was certainly ten times more accurate than the pawnshop owner’s estimation towards the price of goods.
Murong Qiudi said, “When I strike in real life, although I’m a bit slower than him, I’m not that much slower.”
Yan Shisan had to believe. By now he had discovered that this delicate and weak woman was truly a highly skilled master that he had rarely seen in his life.
Murong Qiudi said, “Now I’m going to strike.”
Yan Shisan asked, “Who are you striking against?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “You.”
Yan Shisan lightly sighed, and said, “Do you want to see if I can break through this sword stance?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Yes.”
Yan Shisan asked, “If I break through this sword stance, doesn’t that mean you would die under my sword?”
Murong Qiudi replied, “You don’t have to worry about that.”
Yan Shisan said, “What if I still cannot break through this sword stance …”
Murong Qiudi replied, “Then you’d have to die!”
She coldly continued, “If you still can’t break through this sword stance, then you’d be no good alive to either of us, so I have no choice but to kill you!”
[End of Chapter 4]
Written by Gu Long
Translation by kara, chowbeng
Edited and proofread by audiowuxia.
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