Chapter 6- Borrowing A Saber
Song Zhong was already a dead man.
Even though Song Zhong wasn’t dead yet, he was already a dead man.
When Liu Ruosong saw him, he was utterly astonished. When Madam Liu saw him, she too was utterly astonished. Anyone could see that he had changed. The cold-hearted and arrogant Song Zhong had suddenly become gaunt and listless.
Surprisingly, Song Zhong, who never to touched a drop of liquor, was looking for liquor to drink. He found a cup of liquor and drained it in one gulp.
Once he had drunk three cups, Liu Ruosong smiled, "You must have worked hard this time, I drink another cup to you.” He still had confidence in Song Zhong. He was sure that the mission had been a success.
Madam Liu also smiled, "I'm going to drink three cups to you, because you never used to drink.” She had even more confidence in him because she had seen him kill someone with her own eyes. Not only did he kill cleanly, he never failed to kill. Not only was he precise and swift when he killed, but also graceful. She had yet to see another person better than him. Song Zhong was drinking, incessantly drinking. He didn’t drink before, not because he couldn’t drink, but because he unwilling to drink. A man who kills must have steady hands. If he drinks too much liquor, his hands will definitely not be steady. He'd seen a lot of drunks with hands so shaky they couldn't even hold a glass. He was always baffled, why did they still drink? He felt they were not only pitiful, but ridiculous. But now he knew why those drunks had become drunks. At the moment, he wasn't drunk yet, but with the way he was drinking, he would certainly get drunk sooner or later.
Liu Ruosong finally got to the point, “The autumn scenery of West Lake is ideal just now, have you been there already?”
Song Zhong said, "I’ve been there!"
Liu Ruosong smiled, “Clear and refreshing autumn weather, trying swords by the lakefront you must have enjoyed your trip to try out your sword by the lake.”
Song Zhong said, "It was not pleasant."
Madame Liu said, “But I seem to recall you saying that clear and refreshing autumn weather is perfect weather for killing. The famous lake and its scenery is the perfect place to kill. The right time, the right place, killing at will, how could this not be something pleasant?”
Song Zhong said, "It was not pleasant."
Madame Liu asked, “Why?”
Song Zhong said, "Because the person I'm going to kill is someone who can't be killed."
Madam Liu said, "Ding Peng is a man who cannot be killed?"
Song Zhong said, "He absolutely cannot be killed."
Song Zhong said, "Because I don't want to die yet!"
He drank two more cups, then suddenly slammed the table hard and said loudly, “I only have one life. Why should I die!”
Liu Ruosong frowned, Madam Liu said, “Obviously you tried, could it be that you are not Ding Peng’s match?”
Song Zhong said, “I don’t have to try, I also shouldn’t try,” he said. “If I did, I'd be a dead man by now.” Madam Willow looked at Liu Ruosong, who was looking at his own hand.
Madam Liu suddenly laughed, "I don't believe that with your sword skills, with your temper, how can you be afraid of others?"
Song Zhong sneered, "When have I ever been afraid of anyone? I'm not afraid of anyone." After a few more cups, his heroic spirit grew again, and he loudly said, “If it weren’t for those four people, no matter how skilled Ding Peng is, he would have died under my sword.”
“Which four people were there?” she asked.
Song Zhong said, “Sun Fuhu*, Lin Xiangxiong^, Nangong Huashu#, Zhong Zhan.” Liu Ruosong's face changed. When most people heard the names of these four people, their faces would change.
*(fúhǔ- to subdue a tiger; fig. to prevail over sinister forces)
(Xiang -auspicious xióng-bear)
However, Song Zhong still had to ask, "Do you know them too?"
Liu Ruosong sighed and laughed bitterly, "I'm afraid there aren't many people who don't know about them." There were indeed not many people in jianghu who didn't know about them.
Sun Fuhu was an elder lay disciple of the Southern Shaolin Sect. With innate divine power, he perfected Shaolin’s Tiger Subduing Spirit Fist*.
*(fú hǔ shén quan)
Not only could he subdue tigers, but still more, he could also subdue people, and was quietly the leader of wulin in the Lingnan region.
Lin Xiangxiong was the younger sworn brother of Sun Fuhu, with a body of steel and bones of iron. He behaved with integrity, while being smooth and slick.
Five years ago, the eight major escort agencies of the six Jiangnan provinces joined forces and unanimously elected him as the first overall chief escort. Not a friend from the black and white paths (iow-right & wrong sides) of wulin in Jiangnan raised a single objection.
Nangong Huashu's status was even higher.
Although the Nangong family has gradually declined in recent years, however many undesirable creatures had died hard deaths, his wugong and imposing manner were not something ordinary people could compare to.
As for "Flying Cloud Swordsman" Zhong Zhan, his name was already famous in jianghu twenty years ago.
Madam Liu said, "They're all at West Lake?"
Song Zhong said, "Not only are they all in West Lake, but they are all in Banxian Hall, Hongmei Pavilion." He drank again, "I was there for five days, and they seem to be around that Ding gongzi all the time."
Madam Liu sighed as well, "Three days of farewells. I really should be impressed. I never thought Ding Peng would be able to invite four of them as such distinguished guests."
Song Zhong said, "They aren't his distinguished guests."
Madam Liu said, "They're not?"
Song Zhong said, "They're nothing more than his bodyguards at most."
He sneered, "Looking at them, it seems that they will kneel down and kiss his feet at any time." Madam Liu said nothing.
She looked at Liu Ruosong again. Liu Ruosong was no longer looking at his hand. Instead, he was looking at Song Zhong's.
Song Zhong clenched his fist so tightly that his fingernails turned white, as if he was holding an invisible sword, facing an invisible opponent.
An opponent he knew he could never defeat.
Liu Ruosong suddenly said, "If I were you, if I saw the four of them there, I would never dare to make a move.”
Song Zhong said, "You’re certainly not joking."
Liu Ruosong said, "There’s nothing shameful about this."
Song Zhong said, “Of course it wasn’t.”
"But you, on the other hand, seem to feel so ashamed, so miserable,” Liu Ruosong said, “I really can’t figure out why.” Song Zhong didn’t speak, he only drank, drank like his life depended on it.
Only a person who feels ashamed of himself would be so hard on themself.
"What exactly did you encounter there?” Liu Ruosong asked, “Why are you suffering like this?”
Song Zhong suddenly stood up and said loudly, "Yes, I am suffering, because I know myself that I am already finished." The cold liquor all turned into hot tears.
This cold, stubborn, and proud youngster could also shed tears, could also cry.
He cried like a baby.
He spoke honestly, also like a child, and said what was in his heart, "I'm actually not afraid of them, Sun Fuhu and Lin Xiangxiong are merely suits of flesh, and Nangong and Zhong Zhan can only put on act. In my eyes, they aren't even worth a qian (tenth of a tael-iow a cent).” “But I am afraid of Ding Peng!” “I realize now that even if I practice harder for the rest of my life, I'll never be able to match him.” “I went to find him, to fight him according to the rules of the Jianghu, so he couldn't refuse.” “This is what I got for going to him." He suddenly tore open his shirt, exposing his chest.
His chest was broad and strong.
"She" had seen his chest, and had moaned and gasped and whispered on it.
Now there were seven scars from knife wounds on his chest, curved blade scars resembling a crescent moon.
"He used a saber, a curved saber. I've never seen a saber like that before, and I've also never seen a saber style like that before." “I gave him seven times seven, forty-nine sword thrusts, and he only returned one." "That was the result of that one slash.”
“I've never lost so miserably in my life. I never thought I'd suffer a crushing defeat like this.” “I knew that even if I practiced hard for another hundred years, I would never be able to catch his saber.” “I begged him to kill me, to force him to kill me."
"But he just smiled at me."
“Even though he didn’t say anything, I could tell he did not kill me only because I am not fit to die under his saber.” “From that moment on, I knew I was finished.”
Liu Ruosong listened in silence, no longer asking any questions or saying anything. After listening he started drinking too, dinking incessantly.
He drank no less than Song Zhong.
So they were all drunk, rotten drunk. Getting drunk doesn't solve anything, but it can at least make one forget a lot of things for a little while.
This was the sixteenth day of the eleventh month.
From that day on, Liu Ruosong encountered a series of events he couldn't forget even when he was drunk.
The sixteenth of the eleventh month.
When Liu Ruosong woke up, not only did he have a splitting headache, but he also had a rising fever. The first person he thought of was not Ding Peng; rather it was that young woman his friend had bought from a pleasure house (brothel) and given to him.
That woman was only fifteen, really no more than a girl. But a girl, who grew up in a pleasure house, was already a (sexually) mature woman at fifteen.
He thought of her long legs and slender waist, of the pained and happy expression she wore when she moaned tenderly. melodious coquettish wail
So he ran off like a stallion in heat, to go find her.
What he found was a bitch (female dog).
He had used a small house in the corner of the back garden as a hidden golden house, and specially prepared a large, comfortable and soft bed in the exquisitely furnished boudoir.
He thought she would be waiting for him in the bed.
The very young girl with the long legs and slender waist had actually disappeared.
Although Wansong Villa was not as tightly guarded as the Tang School’s Stronghold in Shuzhong or the Twelve Linked Docks* of the Yangtze, it still had fifty or sixty highly trained retainers, most of whom had very strong wugong.
*(probably refers to heavily guarded warehouses for goods shipped on the river)
Among them there were forty-eight men, divided into six shifts, patrolling the villa day and night.
None of them had seen her leave the garden.
No one knew how she'd disappeared or how the bitch had wound up in her bed.
It was a strange incident.
So Liu Ruosong thought of Ding Peng.
Nineteenth day of the eleventh month.
After two days of searching and questioning, there still was the slightest clue about this strange incident.
Liu Ruosong decided to drop the matter for the time being.
He wanted to drink again.
The married couple liked to drink a few cups; naturally they only drank the finest liquor. In this regard, they could both be considered experts, and the wine* cellar of Wansong Villa had always been famous!
*[It is actually ‘alcohol’ or 'liquor' not grape wine. But I will use ‘wine cellar’ & ‘wine steward’.]
According to the most recent records of the wine cellar steward, there were two hundred and twenty-two (clay) jars of Meisa* in their cellar, twenty-five catty (catty=. 5kg, 1lb) jars, which if poured out, could drown a dozen people.
*(Meisa -type of liquor)
Today when he asked for the liquor, there was not even a drop left in the wine cellar.
The two hundred and twenty-two jars of liquor that he had kept in his cellar for years had all turned into sewage.
Women don’t suddenly become bitches; likewise fine liquor doesn’t suddenly become sewage.
Where was the liquor? Where had the sewage come form?
No one knew. The steward of the wine cellar swore to heaven that no one had been in the cellar for two days.
Even if someone had been in there, replacing more than 200 jars of liquor with sewage was no simple matter.
This was another strange incident.
So Liu Ruosong thought of Ding Peng again.
There is a piece of land behind the kitchen of Wansong Villa. Besides drying clothes there they also raised some pigs, cows, chickens, and ducks.
When the kitchen steward got up that day, he suddenly found that all the pigs, cows, chickens, and ducks had neatly and cleanly died overnight.
In the wake of those two strange incidents of the previous two days, everyone was already on edge. Now there was a general feeling of alarm, although they wouldn’t dare come out and say it, what they said to themselves was even more dreadful.
Everyone had come to the conclusion that the master had an extremely powerful enemy at his door.
Now that the livestock were dead, would a person be next?
Even Liu Ruosong himself couldn't help but think so. The thought was unbearable.
The twenty-second of the eleventh month.
The gatekeeper who has served Liu Ruosong for twenty years woke up in the morning and suddenly found himself naked and sleeping in a pigsty with a mouthful of mud stuffed in his mouth.
The twenty-sixth of the eleventh month.
Many strange things had happened in the last few days. People who had certainly lay down to sleep in their beds at night, were hanging from trees when they woke up in the morning.
A pot of rice that had clearly been washed had seventeen or eighteen dead mice in it when it was cooked.
Several of Liu Ruosong's favorite servant girls suddenly stripped naked together and jumped into the lotus pond.
Suddenly there was a fire in the wood storehouse, and the rice storehouse was suddenly flooded. Several bolts of silk placed in the storeroom were suddenly cut into rags and hung on the branches of the trees.
Madam Liu got up in the morning and pushed open the window to see the garden full of red and green rags flying in the wind, and some of them were actually her clothes.
The twenty-seventh of the eleventh month.
Of sixty retainers and forty young and old female servants, more than half had quietly slipped away.
No one wanted to go through that again.
Getting up in the morning to find out one was no longer sleeping on the bed, but was now sleeping under it.
Who could stand this kind of thing?
Those who hadn’t left were now scared of their own shadows. They were scared half to death every time someone knocked on the door. How could anyone continue to live like this?
The twenty-eighth of the eleventh month. First snowfall.
The snow had stopped; the weather was cloudless and sunny, cold and dry. Usually at this time of year, Liu Ruosong had already been up for a long time.
He always got up very early.
Because he had resolved to be a respected man, it was important that his conduct be an example to others.
But today he was still lying under the covers.
He had been tossing and turning last night, unable to sleep, and only fell asleep after dawn.
He actually couldn’t get up, nor did he feel like getting up.
What would happen after he got up? Maybe there was bad news waiting for him again.
The house was warm, but the air was dank, as all the windows had been sealed up.
He didn't want to look at the estate on the opposite hillside that grew more magnificent by the day.
He was no longer the vital, vigorous, happy-go-lucky, supremely self-confident man he once was.
Now he had become irritable and restless, startled at the sound of a knock on the door.
He was afraid, afraid that Ding Peng would be the person coming through the door.
Someone was knocking on the door right now. The person opening the door was not Ding Peng, it was his wife, Qin Keqing.
He could see that she had lost weight too, and her cheeks, which had been plump and sweetly red, were now pale and hollow.
Although she was smiling, her smile was not as sweet and moving as before.
She sat down on his bed, looked at him, and suddenly said, "Let's go."
Liu Ruosong said, "Go?"
Madam Liu said, "You must know in your heart as well as I do that those things were all Ding Peng's doing."
Liu Ruosong sneered and said, "Do you really believe that he has suddenly become so powerful?"
Madam Liu said, "If he can make men like Sun Fuhu and Zhong Zhan obey him, what couldn't he do?" Liu Ruosong didn’t speak.
He really couldn’t think of anyone else. The couple had always been very popular, always spending very generously. Very few people in jianghu could make friends as easily as them.
Madam Liu said, "I've been thinking a lot about it over the past two days. As long as he has a single breath left in his body, he will never let us off.” She sighed and said, "So now he wants us to suffer for our sins, deliberately using this method to torture us first, driving us mad, before he makes his move.” Liu Ruosong still didn’t speak. Madam Liu said, “If we stay here, we'll never have another good day.”
Liu Ruosong asked, "Where can we go?"
Madam Liu said, “We still have money, and friends, and we can go anywhere we want.”
“Since he has such great ability, he can still find us wherever we go." He sneered, "Unless we hide like turtles with our heads down, and never show up for the rest of our lives."
Madam Liu turned, “At least it’s better than being hounded to death.”
Liu Ruosong was silent again.
Madam Liu said, "Why don't you go to Wudang?"
Liu Ruosong was silent, and after a long time he shook his head and said, “I can’t go, because…”
Madam Liu said, “Because you want to be the head of Wudang, and if this kind of thing gets out and your fellow Wudang disciples find out, you'll have no hope at all!” Liu Ruosong didn’t deny it.
She went on, "You also can't bear to give up this family property, let alone your name, and you still want to fight with him.”
He said, “"Even if I can't fight him on my own, I can still go find a friend.”
She asked, “Who can you go to? Who wants to wade into these muddy waters? Even Zhong Zhan has joined him now, not to mention that it's easy to dodge an open spear and hard to defend against a hidden arrow. Even if you can live your life in this state of constant fear, other people will not stay with you forever.”
“What about you?”
Madam Liu said, "I can't take it anymore, if you don't go, I'm going." She slowly stood up and slowly walked out, "I can wait two more days for you, I have to go before the end of the month. We are husband and wife, but I don't want to die here yet."
Husbands and wives are birds of the same feather, each flying their own way in the face of disaster
Watching her walk away without looking back, brought these words to mind, and Liu Ruosong didn’t know how he felt. All of a sudden, he heard someone laughing, “Husband and wife are birds of the same feather, each flying their own way in the face of disaster. Have you thought of this saying by now?” Madam Liu had closed the door as she went out.
The windows had been sealed five days ago.
If someone was hiding in this room, they must not be able to get out.
Although Liu Ruosong couldn’t tell who was speaking, or where they were speaking from, this person was undoubtedly in this room.
Because the voice was very close to him, he heard each word clearly.
He stood up slowly, bolted the door from the inside, and then started looking.
He had already passed through many dangers in his life, and he believed he would not panic no matter what the circumstances.
He had already heard that the person was a woman, and a strange one at that, because he had definitely never heard her voice before.
How could a strange woman have come into his room without him detecting even a bit of noise?
This was yet another strange incident.
But this time he'd find out the truth.
He searched very carefully. He searched every corner of the room, even the wardrobe and under the bed. Apart from himself, there wasn’t the slightest trace of a shadow in the room.
Where was the woman who had just spoken?
It was starting to snow again outside.
Snowflakes hit the window paper one by one, and the beating "ding ding dong dong" continued on the opposite hillside.
There was not even a sound in the room. It was as quiet as a tomb where a ghost could appear at any moment.
Most people wouldn't have stayed there in this situation, but Liu Ruosong was not one of those people.
He actually lay back down.
Whoever the woman who had spoken just now was, since she had come here, so she would never have come just to make a sarcastic remark.
He was sure she'd have something else to say. He wasn't wrong.
Barely had he laid down, when he heard her wandering and graceful laughter once again.
She said, “I really haven’t misjudged you. You’re no ordinary man, yet you still can't find me.” The voice was still very close to him. He was now sure that the speaker was on top of his canopy.
But by the time he jumped up to look again, there was no trace of anyone atop the canopy.
Liu Ruosong suddenly felt a chill on his back, as he had sensed someone behind him.
He hadn't been able to see her only because he didn't have eyes on the back of his head.
He turned around as fast as he could; yet she was still behind him. This woman’s ability* was actually demonically swift and agile.
*(shenfa-pose or motion of body in martial arts)
Liu Ruosong sighed and said, "I admit defeat."
The woman laughed, "Good, a man who is willing to admit defeat to himself defeat, is an intelligent man. I like intelligent men.”
Liu Ruosong said, "You also like me Liu..."
The woman said, "If I didn't like you, you'd be a dead man by now.” Her voice was still gentle and elegant. Liu Ruosong’s hair stood on end when he heard it.
She was right behind him, he could even feel her breathing as she spoke.
But he couldn’t see her.
If she really wanted his life, it didn't seem like a very difficult thing to do.
He couldn’t help but ask, “You already know who I am?”
“Of course I know. I came here precisely to find you.”
“And you? Who are you?”
“I am a woman, a very good looking woman.”
She laughed like a silver bell, "I guarantee you've never seen a woman as good looking as me." Liu Ruosong had always been very interested when it came to good-looking women.
He was convinced she was not lying. It was unlikely that an ugly woman would have such a pleasant voice.
He couldn’t help but to tentatively ask, "Will you permit me to look at you?"
"You really want to see me?"
"But what if you're infatuated by me after you see me?”
“Even if I am bewitched* by you, I am still willing.”
*(lit. obsessed to death)
To be bewitched by a good-looking woman certainly cannot be considered a painful experience.
"You won't regret it?"
"I will never regret it."
"But if you don't listen to me in the future, you'll regret it." She said concisely, "I loathe disobedient men."
"I am obedient."
"Then lie down on the bed now and cover your head with a quilt.”
“How can I see you, if I cover my head with a tattered cotton cloth.”
“What is invisible now, will be revealed tonight.”
She continued coldly, “If you are not obedient, don’t think that you will see me in your lifetime.” Liu Ruosong immediately lay on the bed and covered his head with a quilt.
She smiled again, "If you go out in the back garden at midnight tonight, you will definitely see me."
"I will go."
Liu Ruosong was no longer a child.
Even when he was the age when other people are children, he was already not a child.
But tonight he actually seemed to be a child again, as obedient as a child, as excited as a child.
It wasn't that he hadn't seen women before. He'd been exposed to all kinds of women since he was actually a child.
He had always been very interested in women, and women also seemed to be interested in him.
His wife was a woman among women.
But today he had suddenly turned into a child for this woman he hadn't even seen yet.
This woman was really too mysterious, coming and going mysteriously, and her wugong was even more mysterious.
Most of all, he believed that this woman meant him absolutely no harm.
Who was this woman? Why come to him?
Women want to use men, just as men want to use women. She may want to use him to do a certain thing.
He wanted to use her even more.
He had always believed that human relationships are inherently built on mutual exploitation of one another.
If the relationship were mutually beneficial, he would not object.
So before midnight he was in the back garden, and sure enough he did see her.
She really was a woman, an extremely attractive woman.
The eleventh month was already cold, cold when it snowed, and even colder when the snow stopped.
She was only wearing a thin muslin dress, so thin it might as well be transparent.
But she wasn’t cold.
She came like a gust of wind, a cloud, a snowflake, suddenly appearing right before Liu Ruosong’s eyes.
When Liu Ruosong saw her, she took his breath away, leaving him speechless.
Liu Ruosong had seen countless women, but he’d never seen a woman so beautiful, so noble.
Although her face was still covered with a veil and he could not yet see her face, her grace, her poise, were nowhere to be found on earth.
He just stared at her as if he’d been struck dumb.
She just let him stare at her foolishly.
Who knows how long it was, but she suddenly laughed that bell-like laugh again, “Have you seen enough?” Liu Ruosong nodded and shook his head again.
“If you’ve seen enough, I will take you to see someone.”
“Who?” Liu Ruosong asked, "Is there anyone in this world who looks better than you?”
“This person is not good looking, but I know you certainly want to look at him.” She suddenly floated over and took his arm.
He immediately felt his body being lifted up to soar like clouds and driven fog*, no couldn’t help but floating away with her, over snowy gardens, high walls, icy brooks….
*(téngyúnjiàwù-idiom meaning ‘to soar, or ride high’)
His body seemed to have become very light, as if he’d become a snowflake or a cloud.
He'd had this dream, a dream that he could fly. Almost every child has had this dream.
But he was definitely not dreaming now.
By the time he snapped out of his confusion, they were on the opposite side of the hill, and had arrived at the gorgeous, magnificent estate.
In the snowy night, the estate seemed like a dreamland. Compared to this estate, his Wansong Villa was nothing more than a shabby little wooden hut.
The magnificent mansions and gardens were nearly finished. As they were no longer working against the clock, the workmen were asleep on such a cold night.
She took him from place to place. He had almost begun to wonder if he was still on earth.
She suddenly asked, “Do you know whose estate this is?”
"Do you want to see the owner of the place?"
“Because the estate was completed ahead of schedule, he came early as well.” She suddenly dropped, landing on a snowy treetop. The snow was not was even disturbed by their landing.
He also practiced qingqong, but it had never occurred to him that such excellent qinggong existed in the human world. She had only used one hand to carry him, but his body seemed to have become as light as air. Was it magic?
It was starless and moonless, but he could still see far away by the reflection of the snowlight. There was a large bluestone in the distance that seemed smooth and hard.
Liu Ruosong couldn't help but ask, "Will Ding Peng come here?"
"He will come."
"What's he doing here so late at night?"
“He comes to test his saber on this stone!”
"How did you know?"
She smiled, "Of course I know. As long as I want to know something, I will know.”
Everyone has many things they want to know, but unfortunately not many of them are really known. Why did she know everything she wanted to know? Was it because she had a magical power that transcended ordinary people? Liu Ruosong dared not ask, nor was there a chance to ask.
He had seen Ding Peng.
Ding Peng had changed. He was no longer the impulsive and ignorant youngster he used to be. Not only had he become mature and steady, but he also had a kind of self-confidence that transcended everything. He walked over, as if unable to get to sleep, he had just decided to go for a stroll in the snow, but he couldn't see tracks in the snow he walked through. There was a saber slung diagonally across his belt, a saber of peculiar form, with a blade that seemed a little curved---
But no matter what saber he used now, he was bound to be unmatched under heaven.
When he walked past the bluestone, the saber was suddenly unsheathed. Liu Ruosong absolutely didn’t see him draw the saber, but the saber was unsheathed. The blade light flashed, tracing a fantastic arc, hacking down on that bluestone block.
It was merely casual strike, but a miracle appeared after the saber slashed. The bluestone, which seemed to be harder than steel, was cut in half under the light of a knife.
The saber was in sheathed. Ding Peng was already far away, while seemingly still just strolling. In a split second he have moved quite distance. There wasn’t a single footprint in the snow, as if no one had even been there.
She had brought Liu Ruosong down from the treetop, "Go examine that chunk of stone." After touching it with his hand, he realized that the rock was far harder than it looked.
But now this stone, taller than a man and bigger than a round table, was actually split in half by Ding Peng's casual slash.
In the dark of night, the wind was even colder, yet Liu Ruosong was still sweating. His whole body broke out in a cold sweat.
The woman who was dressed in a pure white muslin dress, as white as fresh driven snow, said, “He did not use magic. What he used was a saber.”
Liu Ruosong nodded slowly, “I can see that it was a saber.”
The woman in white* asked, “Could you see the change in that (saber) move?”
*[Gu Long calls her the snow-clad woman (woman in clothes having the appearance of snow). I went with woman in white, as it sounds better.]
Liu Ruosong said, "I couldn't see it."
The white-clad woman said, “Of course you can't, because that one move has no variations at all.” Although it was the most astonishing and terrifying move that Liu Ruosong had ever seen in his life, that move had definitely not changed.
That slash was simple, pure and direct, yet it had already exerted the maximum power a blade could exert.
If Liu Ruosong hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he would never believe that a saber made of ordinary iron could have such terrifying power.
The woman said, “Although this move has no variations, it contains the essence of all the variations in this saber technique.”
Liu Ruosong asked, “Why?”
The woman said, "Because of the saber technique used when this move is made, the position, timing, power, and speed were all precisely calculated, perfectly enough that his power reaches its limit.”
This was a not a subtle way of saying that speed, technique, and timing can inherently change the power of an object. This is precisely the true essence of wugong. Why wugong can be slow to beat fast, or use the weak to defeat the strong. If you can use an object to full extent of its power, you can penetrate armor with a piece of dry grass.
She said, “If you want to succeed in perfecting this changeless stroke, you must first penetrate all the variations in this saber technique. I know that Ding Peng has been practicing for a long time." She laughed, " "But this move of his is not meant to be used against you."
Liu Ruosong said, "I know there is no need for such a move to deal with me."
She said, "He practiced this move in order to try to deal with the Third Young Master of the Xie family."
He gasped, “Xie Xiaofeng of Divine Sword Villa?”
The woman in white said, “Because he had exhausted all the variations in his swordplay, Ding Peng had only this one completely unchanging move of this saber technique to use against him.”
Liu Ruosong laughed bitterly, "If I hadn't seen that move of his, I would have thought he was crazy."
Only a madman would think of trying to defeat Xie Xiaofeng.
But now that he had seen this move, whether or not it could defeat Xie Xiaofeng, it wouldn’t be difficult to take his (Liu’s) head.
The woman in white asked, “"Did you ever think he could perfect this kind of saber technique in just four years?"
Liu Ruosong said, "I never would have thought so."
He sighed and added, "I couldn't even imagine it in my dreams."
The woman in white said, “Of course you couldn’t imagine it, because there is no saber technique like this in the human world.”
"If there is no such saber technique in the human world,” he said, “how did he perfect it?"
The woman in white didn't answer and asked instead, "Would you have ever thought that he could build such an estate in just a few months?"
"I never would’ve guessed."
The woman in white said, “Yet this estate is now complete.” She continued slowly, "He has done all these things that were never meant to be humanly possible, and if he wants to use that power against you, what are you going to do?"
Liu Ruosong was puzzled, “I…I seems like I can only wait to die.” “Do you want to die?”
The woman in white sighed and said, "It's just a pity you seem to be dead."
"Why hasn't he done it yet?"
She said, "Because he's waiting until the fifteenth of next month."
He asked, "Why does he have to wait until that day?"
She said, “He will be holding a welcome feast here that day. In front of all the heroes of the world, he will first expose your plot. Not only does he want you to lose your life, he first wants you to lose your reputation.”
Liu Ruosong said, "My plot? What plot?"
“You should know what plot,” she said. “You don’t need to hide it from me.” She went on coldly, “Perhaps you still think that since he has no proof, he won’t be able to convince others. But his word is proof, because he is already richer and more powerful than you. It if he says he created that ‘Heavenly Meteor’ move, who wouldn’t believe it? Who would dare not believe it?”
Hearing the words ‘Heavenly Meteor’, Liu Ruosong looked miserable. “How do you know about this?”
“I told you,” she said, “if there is something I want to know, I can find out.”
“Just who are you?”, asked Liu Ruosong.
The woman in white said, "I'm your savior, your only savior."
She said, “Although you’re a dead man now, I can still save you.” She continued softly, "Only I can save you now, because there is no one else on earth besides me who can deal with Qing Qing."
This was the first time Liu Ruosong heard this name, and of course he couldn't help but ask, "Qing Qing? Who is Qing Qing?”
“Qing Qing is Ding Peng's wife. Ding Peng is able to do all these things that would never have been humanly possible just because he has Qing Qing." "The truly frightening thing isn't Ding Peng, it's Qing Qing. I can assure you that you could never imagine how scary she is."
He said, "But I've never heard of a person like her in jianghu."
The woman in white said, "Of course you've never heard of her, because she's not even human."
Liu Ruosong asked, "She's not human?"
She said, "She’s not a person, and I can guarantee that she is definitely not a human."
"Is she a ghost?" he asked.
The woman in white said, "She's not a ghost either, ghosts aren't as powerful as she is." She thought for a moment, then continued, "I know of a ghost in Shaoxing who once secretly drank all the twelve jars of Nu’er Hong* buried in the ground, and then filled them with water. A ghost in Zhangjiakou once killed a group of fat sheep.^ Absolutely no ghost can turn a living young girl into a bitch."
*(Nu’er Hong- ‘daughter's red-wine’. Alcohol made when a daughter is born then buried until her wedding feast)
^[There’s actually more to this sentence but I couldn’t figure it out. ]
Liu Ruosong was dumbfounded.
He thought of the girl with slender waist and long legs, and thought of her pained, yet joyous expression when she moaned with pleasure. He thought of the bitch again, of the dog meat he had once eaten He didn't know whether to cry, to laugh, or to vomit. He decided to send the bitch far away, to a place where he would never see her again. If he ever saw the bitch again, he might go crazy.
The woman in white sighed, "Now you should always know how scary she is. Not only are people afraid of her, even ghosts are afraid."
He asked, “What is she?”
The woman in white said, “She is a fox!”
Liu Ruosong said, “A fox?”
She asked, “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of a fox?”
There were those ridiculous and bizarre legends about foxes that he'd often heard since he was a child. He’d always thought that only old crones from the country would believe these tales. But now he couldn’t help but believe it himself, for what he had seen with his own eyes was far more absurd and bizarre than those legends. Was this noble and beautiful woman standing next to him now also a fox?
He didn’t dare ask. Whether the woman was human or fox, it did seem that she was his only hope for salvation. Apart from her, he could not think of second person who could save him.
But he couldn't help but asking, "Why did you come to save me?"
The woman in white smiles, “This is a really important point, and you should indeed ask."
Liu Ruosong said, "Of course you wouldn't come to save me without a reason."
She said, “I certainly wouldn’t.”
She laughed again and said, "If I said that I was attracted to you so I came to save you, of course you wouldn't believe me. I can see that you are not a very self-absorbed man."
Liu Ruosong also laughed and said, "I used to be self-absorbed when I was younger, but fortunately that time is now over."
She said, “"There is a big tree there. As long as you hide behind the tree and wait, you will know why I am saving you." She went on, ""But you must remember that no matter what you see, you must not make a sound, let alone move, or else even I can't save you." So Liu Ruosong hid behind a tree and waited, and after a short time, he saw a person come out of the darkness.
It was a graceful woman, wearing a pale blue dress, as beautiful as an immortal in a picture.