Bordertown Wanderer - Chapter 10
Chapter 10 - Silencing The Witness
Ye Kai stood in the darkness under the starlight. He resembled a statue, an icy cold statue.
Ma FangLing caught sight of him and struggled to make her way towards him. She fell into his arms and held on tightly. She started to weep and cry, her voice cracking and screeching, she couldn't even utter a single word.
Ye Kai kept silent as well. At times like these, words of comfort were extraneous. He slowly removed his coat and wrapped it around her.
At that time, Fu HongXue's sabre had returned to his hand. He turned and flipped to his feet and stared at Ye Kai. It was hard to tell whether it was resentment or disgrace in his eyes. Ye Kai didn't even look at him.
Fu HongXue gritted his teeth and said, "I am going to kill you."
Ye Kai still paid no attention to him. Fu HongXue suddenly brandished his sword and moved towards them. Although one of his legs was crippled and still bleeding profusely, once his body shot forward, he looked as quick as a bird, as ferocious as a tiger.
No one could've imagined that a cripple could move so swiftly.
No one could've imagined the speed and power behind that sabre.
The blade flashed towards Ye Kai, but he didn't move. Right before the sabre reached Ye Kai, it suddenly stopped. Fu HongXue stared at him, the hand that held the sabre began to tremble. He suddenly turned, bent down, and started to vomit.
Ye Kai still didn't look at him, but his eyes filled with compassion and pity. He could sympathize with this youngster, no one could relate to Fu HongXue better than he could. Because he had gone through the same exact pain and suffering before.
Ma FangLing was still crying, he gently patted her on the shoulders and said, "You go back first."
"You ... you're not coming with me?" Ma FangLing said.
"I can't." Ye Kai replied.
"Why not?" Ma FangLing asked.
"I have to stay here." Ye Kai said.
Ma FangLing gritted her teeth and said, "Then I'll stay as well ..."
"You have to go back. Get a good night's sleep, and forget about what happened here today. When tomorrow arrives ..."
Ma FangLing stared at him, her face filled with hope and yearning, "Please come and see me tomorrow."
There was an extremely peculiar expression in Ye Kai's eyes. After quite some time he slowly replied, "Without a doubt."
Ma FangLing held on to his hand tightly as tears started streaming down her cheeks. "I won't blame you even if you don't show up." She suddenly turned, covered her face, and ran away.
Her wailing was slowly washed away by the fierce winds. As the hoofbeats of her horse faded into the distance, everything returned to quiet stillness.
The land was like a frying pan, an unseen flame blazed underneath, torturing everyone above.
Fu HongXue was still vomitting as his entire body bent over. Ye Kai stared at him silently and waited until he stopped heaving.
"You can still kill me now." Ye Kai said.
Fu HongXue, still crouched over, dashed away with his sabre raised. In a single breath he covered quite a distance before stopping again. Blood and tears dripped from his face as he stared up at the sky.
Ye Kai followed him from behind and calmly asked, "Why haven't you attacked yet?"
The hand that was clenching on to his sabre began to tremble once again. Fu HongXue suddenly turned around and stared at Ye Kai. "Must you keep forcing me?"
"No one is forcing you, you're only forcing yourself." His words were like a whip, lashing out painfully at Fu HongXue's body.
Ye Kai slowly continued, "I knew that you just needed to vent your anger before, but now you're probably feeling much more at ease."
Fu HongXue clenched his fists and asked, "What else do you know?"
Ye Kai smiled and said, "I also know that you won't kill me, because you don't want to kill me."
"I don't want to?" Fu HongXue said.
"The person who you're truly trying to hurt is yourself, because ..." Ye Kai said.
Fu HongXue's eyes filled with pain, he suddenly shouted, "Shut up!"
Ye Kai let sighed and continued anyway, "Even though you think that you've erred in the past, it really isn't your fault."
"Then whose fault was it?" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai stared at him, "You should know whose fault it was ... you should definitely know."
Fu HongXue's pupils contracted. "Just who exactly are you?"
Ye Kai smiled and replied, "I am me. My surname is Ye, given name is Kai."
"You're really surnamed Ye?" Fu HongXue asked.
"You're really surnamed Fu?" Ye Kai replied.
Both of their eyes were fixed on each other, both looked like they were trying to read each other's thoughts, both looked like they were trying to dig out each other's secrets. But Ye Kai remained just as calm and steadfast as always. Fu HongXue looked tense ... like a drawn bow.
Just then, both of them heard a most strange and unusual noise. It sounded like a horse's hooves trampling over loose soil, or a butcher cutting up meat. That noise was very faint, but the night was quiet and still, and both of them were sharp and alert.
The wind blew towards them from that direction.
"I didn't come out here to look for you." Ye Kai suddenly exclaimed.
"Who were you looking for?" Fu HongXue said.
"Flying Spider's murderer." Ye Kai replied.
"You know who it is?" Fu HongXue said.
"I'm not too sure, that's what I'm trying to find out." Ye Kai said.
He turned and walked forward several steps, then stopped, as if waiting for Fu HongXue. After several moments, Fu HongXue slowly followed from behind.
"I knew that you'd follow." Ye Kai said with a smile.
"Why's that?" Fu HongXue said.
"Because everything that's happening here is related to you in some way." Ye Kai replied.
Fu HongXue tensed up. "You know who I am?"
"You're you. Your surname is Fu, and your given name is HongXue." Ye Kai smiled.
Fierce winds pounded against their faces, that strange noise could no longer be heard.
Fu HongXue shut his lips and didn't say another word. He kept up at the same pace as Ye Kai from behind. His lightness skills were very unique, very ingenious, and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. When he utilized his lightness skills, no one could ever tell that he was a cripple.
Ye Kai glanced over at him and said, "It looks like you've been training in the martial arts since birth."
"And you?" Fu HongXue replied coldly.
"I'm different." Ye Kai said.
"How are you different?" Fu HongXue asked.
"I'm a prodigy." Ye Kai replied.
"Prodigies usually die very young." Fu HongXue said.
"Dying young is not necessarily a bad thing." Ye Kai said.
A look of pain filled Fu HongXue's eyes.
"I can't die, I mustn't die ..." his mind kept shouting.
He suddenly heard Ye Kai lightly cry out. The winds filled with the smell of flesh and blood. The wretched light from the stars shined down on a heap of rotting corpses. Human lives on these barren fields suddenly became like that of horses and sheep, totally worthless.
There was a pit next to the pile of corpses. It wasn't dug very deep, and about seven or right shovels lay next to it. Whoever killed these people wanted to bury their bodies but probably saw someone approaching and made a hasty escape.
Who killed these people? No one knew.
The bodies belonged to MuRong MingZhu and the nine young swordsmen that followed him. MuRong MingZhu's sword was unsheathed but the other nine looked like they had been killed even before they could pull out their blades.
Ye Kai let out a sigh and said, "Such quick strokes. Such deadly technique."
Only experts in the art of killing were that quick and deadly.
Fu HongXue clenched his fists and starting to tremble again. It seemed like he had an aversion to blood, flesh and dead bodies. Ye Kai didn't seem to mind.
He suddenly pulled out a torn piece of cloth that had a button attached to it. The material of that piece of cloth looked exactly like the material of MuRong MingZhu's garments. The button looked identical as well.
Ye Kai let out a long breath and said, "So it really was him."
Fu HongXue crossed his brow and looked slightly perplexed.
"I retrieved this piece of cloth from the hands of Flying Spider's dead body. He wouldn't let go of it even in death." Ye Kai explained.
"Why's that?" Fu HongXue asked.
"Because MuRong MingZhu was the one who murdered him! He wanted to tell that secret to someone." Ye Kai said.
"To you? So that you could avenge his death?" Fu HongXue said.
"I don't think that he was trying to tell me." Ye Kai said.
"Then who was he trying to tell?" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai let out a sigh and replied, "I wish I knew."
"Why would MuRong MingZhu kill Flying Spider?" Fu HongXue asked.
Ye Kai shrugged.
"How did he end up inside that coffin?" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai shrugged again.
"And who killed MuRong MingZhu after that?" Fu HongXue said.
"I just know that whoever killed MuRong MingZhu was trying to silence him." Ye Kai said.
"Silence him?" Fu HongXue said.
"Because that person must not want others to know that Flying Spider died by MuRong MingZhu's hand. That person didn't want others to find MuRong MingZhu either." Ye Kai said.
"Why?" Fu HongXue said.
"That person probably doesn't want others to know what his relation to MuRong MingZhu is." Ye Kai conjectured.
"Do you have any idea as to who it could be?" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai suddenly fell silent and looked lost in thought. After quite some time, he slowly said, "Did you know that Yun ZaiTian was searching for you this afternoon?"
"I wasn't aware." Fu HongXue replied.
"He said he was looking for you, but when he saw you, he didn't even say a word." Ye Kai said.
"Probably because I wasn't the one that he was looking for!" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai nodded and replied, "Right, he was obviously looking for someone else. But who could he have been looking for? Xiao BieLi? Cui Nong? If he was looking for those two, why would he have to lie for?"
The winds kicked up.
Yellow sand filled the skies, wild grass wailed in the winds.
The night looked like a piece of jade encrusted with diamonds, splendid and beautiful, while the earth looked sullen and gloomy.
The wind's whispers sounded like horses neighing, making this wasteland seem even more vast and desolate.
Fu HongXue started to walk ahead slowly. Ye Kai started to follow from behind. Of course he could've raced to the front, but he didn't.
There seemed to be a strangeness in the distance between the two of them, almost as if there was an unusual connection between them. Small dots of light started to appear in the distance.
"The day will come, when either you end up killing me, or I'll end up killing you!" Fu HongXue suddenly exclaimed.
"Such a day will come?" Ye Kai said.
Fu HongXue didn't bother to turn around and replied, "That day should be drawing pretty near."
"Or perhaps that day will never come." Ye Kai said.
"Why?" Fu HongXue said.
Ye Kai let out a grieved sigh, his eyes focused into the darkness in the distance, and slowly said, "Because the two of us may very well die at the hands of another!"
Ma FangLing sunk her head into her pillow, which was already soaked in tears. She still couldn't calm her sentiments up until now. Love and hatred were like two strong and powerful hands slowly strangling her to death.
Ye Kai, Fu HongXue. They were two very strange yet unique individuals.
The grasslands were always quiet and desolate, but ever since these two arrived, strange events seemed to follow one after another at a frightening pace. No one knew how far it would all escalate.
Just who were these two? What did they come for?
That night, amidst the desert sands, under the stars in the sky, she was curled tightly in Ye Kai's arms. Ye Kai's hands were that warm and sweet, she was willing to give herself to him, but he didn't ask for her. When she told him that she had to leave, she wished with all her heart that he would try to keep her, even if forcefully, she really wouldn't have minded. But he simply let her leave. He appeared to be sly and wicked, but he just let her leave.
The other night, under those same stars, amidst the same desert sands, she met an entirely different type of person. She never would have imagined that Fu HongXue would do such things. He seemed like an introverted and lonesome child, but suddenly changed into a wild animal.
Just what exactly triggered it?
She would feel a prick in her heart each time she thought about what happened.
She had never met two such strange people before. But the stranger thing was, these two people suddenly both became just as unforgettable to her. She knew that these two would definitely change her life in one way or another. Her tears started to flow again ...
The sound of heavy footsteps shook the ceiling of her room, she knew that they were her father's. Ma KongQun's room was situated right above his daughter's. He would always come to see her every night, but for some reason he seemed to have forgotten for the past two nights. In fact, he hadn't slept at all these past two night. Those deep heavy footsteps would continue on well until daybreak. Ma FangLing could tell that her father was troubled and shook. It was a side of him that she had never seen before.
She had that same trouble and fear in her heart as well. She wanted very much to go and comfort her dad, but secretly she wished that he would come to comfort her as well. But Ma KongQun had always been a very strict father. Although he loved his daughter very much, there always seemed to be a distance between the two of them.
And what about Third Aunt? Where had she been these past two days? Ma FangLing silently slipped out of her bed, slipped on her clothes, and combed through her hair in front of her bronze mirror.
"Should I look for Third Aunt? Or should I head to town to look for him again?"
She couldn't make up her mind, she just knew she couldn't stand staying by herself in her room any longer. There were too many things on her mind. It was then that she heard the sound of hoofbeats coming very quickly from the cattle fields. Just by the sound of the hooves, she could tell that this horse was one in a thousand. The rider had to be oen of the experts in the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'. If it weren't for something extremely urgent, no one would dare disturb her father this late at the night.
She wrinkled her brows, then heard her father's stern voice. "Have you found them?"
"We've found MuRong MingZhu." It was Yun ZaiTian's voice.
"Why haven't you brought him here?"
"Someone else got to him first, Master Hao found his corpse while searching through the grasslands, he was cut down by a vicious sabre."
An eerie silence fell over the room. Then, she heard their sleeves rustling as they leapt out of the window. Horses neighed, then galloped away.
Dread suddenly surged through Ma FangLing's heart. MuRong MingZhu was dead. She had seen that arrogant, haughty, and lavishly-dressed youngster before. Just yeserday he seemed so full of life, but tonight he had turned into a dead corpse.
And those two riders, they had taught her how to ride a horse when she was younger.
Who would be next? Ye Kai? Yun ZaiTian? GongSun Duan? Or her father?
A cloud of death seemed to follow the heads of everyone around.
She felt herself starting to tremble. She pushed open the door and ran out. The wood floors on that corridor felt as cold as ice. Third Aunt's room was at the far left of the corridor.
She knocked. There was no response.
She knocked harder. There was still no response.
Why wouldn't Third Aunt be in her room this late into the night?
She walked out of the back door. The courtyard was quiet and still. There was no light in the Third Aunt's room. Starlight shined down through her pale white windows. She pushed lightly and the windows swung open.
"Third Aunt." she called out lightly.
There was still no response. No one was inside that room. Third Aunt's blanket was piled up between her two big pillows.
Wind blew through the courtyard. Ma FangLing let out a cold sneeze.
It suddenly occurred to her that everyone here seemed to have a secret. Even her father. She knew close to nothing about her father's past. She never dared to ask.
She lifted her head and saw a giant figure appear in the window. Then she heard GongSun Duan's sharp voice, "Go back to your room."
She was afraid to turn around to face him. Almost everyone in the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses' was somewhat intimidated by GongSun Duan. She folded her sleeves, lowered her head, and ran back to her room. It was almost as if she heard GongSun Duan laughing coldly at Third Aunt's window.
She pushed open her door, her heart was still pounding. The sound of hoofbeats resonated from outside once again and quickly trailed off into the distance. She leapt into her bed and pulled the covers over her head. Her body started to shake uncontrollably, because she knew that more tragedy was to come. She really didn't want to see or hear anymore of it.
"... I should've never been born. I should've never existed in this world."
When she thought about Fu HongXue's words, tears started to stream down her cheeks.
She couldn't help but ask herself, "Why was I born for? Why was I born here ..."
Fu HongXue's pillow was soaked as well, but he had already fallen asleep.
When he was awake, there were no tears. He swore to himself that he would never shed another tear. Yet, tears would come streaming down when he was asleep. Because only in his dreams did his conscience win out over vengeance, reminding him that what he did today was extremely disgraceful.
Revenge is one of the oldest behaviors of human existence, probably just as old as the ideas of life and birth. It was definitely not worthy of acceptance, but in most cases it was dignified. Today he would reclaim that dignity.
He cried in his sleep, in his dreams, in an awful nightmare. He saw his mother's and father's blood being spilled, in the midsts of a furious struggle in the snow. They were calling out to him, begging him to avenge their deaths.
Then, he suddenly felt an icy cold pair of hands press against his bare back. He wanted to jump away, but that pair of hands was soft and held him down tightly. A tender, sweet voice whispered into his ear, "You're sweating."
His entire body suddenly froze still - she had finally come. The windows were shut and the curtains were closed. The room was dark as a grave. Why did she always appear in the darkness, only to slowly disappear later?
He flipped over and wanted to sit up. But she still held him down!
"What do you want?"
"To light a lantern."
"Why not? I can't see you?"
She lowered her body and pressed against his chest.
"But I can promise you that I'm definitely not an unattractive person, you can't tell?"
"Why can't I see you then?"
"Because if you found out who I was, and were to see me elsewhere, your reactions and mannerisms to me would entirely different. We mustn't let anyone know about the two of us."
"When everything is finally over, I'll let you stare at me for as long as you want."
He didn't say another word, his hands moved to undress her. Her hands stopped him.
"Don't wrinkle them."
"I still have to go back. I told you before, I can't let anyone find out about us."
She smiled coldly. She knew that when men were turned down in situations like these, they would feel extremely troubled and uneasy.
"I've been here for more than seven years, enduring pain, hardship and unimaginable suffering. What was it all for?" her voice became more and more tense, "It was all to await your return, for you to reap vengeance! There is no other meaning in our lives. I have never forgotten that, I'm sure that you have never forgotten that either."
Fu HongXue's entire body suddenly turned cold and stiff. Cold sweat soaked the entire bed.
She didn't come for pleasure. She gave herself to him because she desired vengeance!
"You should know how formidable a person Ma KongQun is. In addition, he has many able helpers." she sighed lightly, "If our one attack is not successful, I'm afraid that another chance will never present itself."
She paused, then continued, "GongSun Duan, Hua MenTian, Yun ZaiTian, the three of them together aren't very formidable."
"Who are you concerned about then?"
"They have not yet revealed themselves, up until now I've been unable to figure out who they are."
"Perhaps there is no one else."
"Your father and your second uncle were great heroes. Just Ma KongQun and GongSun Duan alone would never have even considered challenging them. In addition to that, their wives were great heroines as well ..."
When she reached that point, her voice seemed to get stuck in her throat.
After a while, she continued, "After the deaths of your father and uncle, many people wondered just who was it that was actually capable of taking down these two earth-shattering figures. Of course no one would've suspected that two-faced animal, Ma KongQun!"
Her voice filled with anger and hatred.
"But besides Ma KongQun, there had to be others. I came here to investigate just that. Yet I've never seen him contact any other prominent figures in the martial-realm. He himself was of course even more tight-lipped and never spoke about that incident."
"If you haven't been able to discover anything for the past seven years, how are we supposed to find anything out now?"
"Well at least we have an opportunity."
"Right now he is being pressured. When that pressure gets too high and he feels like he has no other alternative, he will undoubtedly contact those other people for help."
"Who is pressuring him?"
She didn't answer but instead asked, "Did you kill those thirteen people the other night?"
"What about the horses."
"If it wasn't you, then who was it?"
"I found that perplexing as well."
"You can't figure out who it is?"
"He is definitely mysterious. I'm sure that he has come for a reason, but those people were not mudered by him."
"I knew who he was with that other night when it happened."
Because it was so dark in that room, no one could make out the expression on Fu HongXue's face - it was an extremely unusual expression.
Just then, a small crack was heard coming from the roof.
Her expression changed as she instructed him, "Stay in this room, whatever you do, don't leave."
When those nine words were spoken, she pushed open the window and leapt out. All Fu HongXue saw was a tall, slender figure flash by. In the blink of an eye, she disappeared from sight.
There were four drunkards here, all four were senior horse masters from the 'Hall of Ten-Thousand Horses'. They didn't intend to get drunk, but for some reason on this night they became intoxicated quite quickly. To see thirteen of their close companions suddenly die, to witness one misfortune and tragedy happening after another, how could they not get drunk?
When the fourth person finally fell over, Ye Kai came walking out from one of the doors in the back. He was here earlier but left for a moment to relieve himself. When one drinks a lot of wine, one will have to relieve oneself much more often. But for some reason, it seemed that he was gone for way too long.
As soon as he entered, he noticed Xiao BieLi observing him out of the corner of his eyes, so he walked over.
"Someone wanted me to give something to you." Xiao BieLi said with a strange smile on his face.
"Cui Nong?" Ye Kai winked.
Xiao BieLi winked as well and replied, "Have you always been this intelligent?"
"It's a pity though. I always turn into an idiot in front of women that I like." Ye Kai said with a smile. He took a folded piece of paper from Xiao BieLi's hands.
On that light purple piece of paper, a line of words read, "Have you given away my pearl flower to someone else?"
Ye Kai lightly patted the pearl flower on his collar, he looked slightly foolish.
Xiao BieLi looked at him and sighed, "If I were twenty years younger, I would definitely fight over her with you."
"It doesn't matter how old you are, you're definitely not the type who would fight over a woman." Ye Kai said with a smile.
"You're mistaken." Xiao BieLi said.
"Oh?" Ye Kai said.
"Do you know how I lost these two legs?" Xiao BieLi asked.
"Over a woman?" Ye Kai replied.
"When I realized that that woman was nothing but a *****, it was already too late." Xiao BieLi smiled bitterly.
His voice became stern again and continued, "But she definitely is not that type of woman. She's probably purer than any woman we've ever seen before. Although she works here for me, she has never betrayed herself before."
"Then what is it that she sells?" Ye Kai asked.
"What she sells is the sickness of men craving what they can't have." Xiao BieLi replied.
Behind the second door was an extremely wide corridor. There were tables and chairs lined up along the sides. At the end of that corridor was another door. When there was no response, you would have to sit and wait.
Ye Kai knocked on the door.
After a short while, a voice asked, "Who is it?"
"My lady is not seeing guests today."
"Would she be willing to see a guest who kicked down her door?" Ye Kai said.
Giggling could be heard from inside, "It must be Young Master Ye."
A wide-eyed girl opened the door with a smile, "It really is Young Master Ye."
"Am I the only guest here who likes to kicks down doors?" Ye Kai said with a smile.
The girl's eyes danced as she puckered her lips and replied, "There is another one."
"The donkey we use to pull our loads."