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Bordertown Wanderer - Chapter 31

Chapter 31 - Engraved In The Heart

The blade had returned to its sheathe.

But the blood on the blade would never dry.

Fu HongXue slowly turned around. His left foot took a step forward, then his right leg dragged along from behind. His entire body was still shivering, he was using all his strength to control himself.

"You're lying! Every single word you've said is a lie."

He slowly walked through the crowd, his eyes focused only on the ground in front of him. He didn't have the courage to look at the bodies anymore, nor did he have the courage to look at anyone else in the hall.

The sound of sobbing came from behind him. The sound of Ma FangLing's tears.

She was bitterly crying and cursing, shouting every single malicious obscenity in the world that she could think of. But Fu HongXue did not hear her. His entire body was numb from head to toe.

No one could stop him. No one dared to stop him.

His hand was still tightly clenched onto his sabre.

Jet black sabre!

The rays of the sun outside were still beaming and splendid. He walked into the sunlight.

Ma FangLing's hair was in a wild mess as she madly shouted, "And you consider yourselves friends of Yuan QiuYun? You're all going to just let him walk away after committing murder?"

No one replied, no one moved.

This conflict stemmed from nineteen years ago and not anyone else was part of it.

A tooth for a tooth, blood to repay blood debts. This was one of the oldest rules of the martial world.

And Bai TianYu did suffer a very horrible death.

Other than crying and cursing, there was nothing else that Ma FangLing could do. Crying and cursing couldn't kill Fu HongXue.

She suddely bit down on her lips and the sound of her sobs came to a halt. As her lips bled, she straightened out her garments and threw her hairtie to the ground. Her long messy hair fell loose as she slowly walked passed the frightened crowd and towards the door.

As she passed by Ye Kai, she suddenly stopped. She stared at him with her tear-soaked eyes and said, "You should be satisfied now."

Ye Kai could only give a forced smile.

"What should he be satisfied about?" Ding LingLin couldn't help but ask.

Ma FangLing stared at her fiercely, "Don't look so smug, he'll cast you off to the side one day too."

Without waiting for a reply, she turned and walked straight out. As she was just about out the door, an old servant with a head full of white hair chased after her from behind.

He knelt down before her and said, "The old master has passed away, and young master Yuan is nowhere to be found. At a time like this, how can young mistress leave?"

The old servant's face was drenched in tears and his voice was trembling.

Ma FangLing didn't even turn to look at him as she held her head up and said, "I am not your young mistress. I never married into the Yuan family yet. From this day forth, I want nothing to do with the Yuan family."

She strode through the courtyard and didn't look back.

"From this day forth, I will never step foot inside 'White Cloud Manor'."

The autumn winds whistled, the air was even thicker.

Ding LingLin let out a sigh and said, "Who would've thought that she was be such a heartless person."

Ye Kai sighed as well, "Being heartless seems to be an inborn trait of the Ma family."

Ding LingLin glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes and said, "And what about the Ye family?"

As soon as she finished, a voice from behind replied, "They're not much better."

Ding LingLin didn't turn around as Ye Kai said, "Your brother has really come."

A person in a plumed coat and cap with a short beard and an archaic yellow sword slung slanted across his back slowly made his way towards them. Although he was dressed like a Taoist, every piece of clothing looked like it was fitted and matched perfectly. An obviously expensive and valuable jade ring adorned each hand. He was tall and slender, scholarly and elegant, worthy of being called an extremely handsome. But his expression was rather proud and arrogant. There were probably not many people in the world who were worth his time.

He was the great scholar of the martial world, nicknamed the "Immaculate Taoist", the eldest son of the Ding family, Ding YunHe.

Ding LingLin jumped for joy as she ran to greet him. The bells on clothes jingled incessantly.

Ding YunHe frowned and said, "Are you done running wild outside yet? When are you going to return home?"

Ding LingLin pouted her lips and replied, "I'm not a child anymore. Why must you lecture me as soon as you see me?"

Ding YunHe sighed and shook his head as he furrowed his brow at Ye Kai and said coldly, "Who would've thought that you'd still be alive by now."

Ye Kai smiled and replied, "By your good fortune, I've been eating well and sleeping well lately. I don't think I could bear to die just yet."

"'The good die young and misfortunes last a millenium', that saying couldn't be more true." Ding YunHe said.

"Why must you curse him so big brother?" Ding LingLin said.

"Because if he were dead, maybe you'd quietly return home and behave."

Ding LingLin blinked and replied, "You're right, if he were dead I probably wouldn't be running wild outside anymore. I'd be inside a grave."

Ding YunHe's expression sunk. But before he could reply, Ding LingLin suddenly tugged at his sleeves and said, "Do you see that person outside, the one with the sword attached to his belt?"

The person who was just walking in from the outside was Lu XiaoJia.

"Are you associated with the likes of him as well?" Ding YunHe asked her.

"You know who he is?" Ding LingLin asked.

Ding YunHe nodded his head.

There were not many people in the martial who weren't familiar with that sword of his.

"He said he wanted to kill you." Ding LingLin said.

"Oh."

"And all you have to say is 'oh'?"

"Well, I'm still alive and breathing."

Ding LingLin's eyes flickered, "You don't want to compete with him to see who has the faster sword?"

"My sword was never that fast." Ding YunHe replied.

Internal cultivation swordsmanship was based on the principle of countering speed with slowness. Overcoming movement through stillness in order to defeat one's opponents was the true essence of the technique.

Ding LingLin let out a sigh as she gazed at Lu XiaoJia. Lu XiaoJia didn't seem to pay any attention to her.

Suddenly, she strode over to him and said, "Wei."

Lu XiaoJia peeled a peanut and flipped it into the air.

"That person standing over there is my big brother. Do you see him?" Ding LingLin asked.

Lu XiaoJia was looking at the peanut falling through the air.

"Didn't you say that you wanted to kill him?" Ding LingLin asked.

After the peanut had fallen into his mouth, Lu XiaoJia slowly replied, "I said that?"

"Why don't you go over there and make a move?"

Lu XiaoJia chewed on the peanut slowly and said, "It just happens that I'm not in the mood to kill today."

"Why not?"

"Enough people have died already."

Ding LingLin's eyes danced as she smiled, "I understand now. Although your mouth is quite brave, your heart is quite scared of us."

Lu XiaoJia smiled. He didn't deny it, because he did fear one person. But that person was not surnamed Ding.

________________________________________

Fu HongXue stood in the middle of the road. He stood where the horse carriage had just been. He stood where he and Cui Nong had separated.

The crowd at 'White Cloud Manor' had scattered. As soon as one person left, ten followed, and then a hundred after that. Except for true-hearted longtime friends, no one wanted to stay in a place like that.

Friends like that were rare, extremely rare.

The crowd flooded out of 'White Cloud Manor' like gushing water. Some rode off on horseback, others boarded their carriages, and the less fortunate walked off on foot. A lot of them were still whispering back and forth about what had happened, but the consensus was that they were not cowards for leaving, it's just that it wasn't their business to meddle in.

Everyone kept their distance from Fu HongXue. It was as if disaster would befall anyone who got too close to him. But everyone also thought, "Why was this person still here?"

Fu HongXue didn't see any of them, he didn't see anything. His eyes didn't see anyone, nor anything. The world was completely empty to him, because Cui Nong was no longer by his side.

He was almost certain that she'd be waiting here for him. He never thought that she'd leave. To just leave like that without a single word, how could she do that to him?

Although he did just leave her as well, he did so because he had to seek revenge. He didn't want to risk putting her in harm's way. But the most important thing was that he'd never leave her alone, he would always return.

Although he had never said any of these things, she should've understood. Because she should understand him by now. Although he would sometimes treat her coldly and lash out at her for no reason, it was only because he loved her too much. He was too afraid of losing her.

That's why he was always pained and bothered by things things that were part of the long forgotten past. It felt like a needle puncturing his heart everytime he thought of another man sleeping with her. He didn't think any of these men deserved it, he always thought of her as a pure and innocent goddess. Althought he had never said any of this, she should've understood.

She shoudld've understood that he loved her. That he loved her very deeply.

But she was gone, she had left without a single word or sign.

Why? How could she be so cruel?

The wind was the same wind that was blowing before. The clouds were the same clouds that were drifting before. But to him, the world had completely changed. To him, the world was completely empty.

His hand clenched tightly onto his sabre. It felt as if someone was clenching tightly onto his heart, and pricking it with a needle right square in the center. A long, sharp and cold needle.

No one could imagine how deep and horrifying this painful sadness could be. It was the first emotion he felt more formidable to him than vengeance. At first, the only thing he wanted to destroy were his nemeses. But these emotions made him want to destroy himself. It made him want to destroy the entire world!

He never thought about his own mistakes, because he never felt that he was wrong. That is why he suffered. He never thought as far as realizing that words left unsaid would never be understood or heard.

Maybe it was because he didn't really understand Cui Nong, or women in general.

Maybe he didn't understand love.

He didn't understand how to express love, and he didn't understand how to love another person.

But he knew that this love was real!

When your love for someone is real, the pain that you feel is real. This is one of the sad truths in this world.

But as long as you've loved before, the pain would be worth it!

Night.

Stars were shining in the sky, leaves were rustling in the wind.

The moon in autumn was brighter than usual.

It was the same stars and moon in the sky as the night before. But where was the person from before?

The stars were still in the sky, and the moon was still in the sky. But where was she?

Three months. They had been together for three months. Ninety days and ninety nights. Although it seemed to have passed in the blink of an eye, each day, each night, each moment, each second was filled with unforgettable memories. There was pain and there was happiness. There was anguish and there was sweetness. How many sweet embraces? How many soft caresses? Was everything now nothing more than a memory?

Would these memories etched so deeply onto the heart have to be forgotten now? Or would they always remain unforgettable? And what if they were forgotten? And what if they were unforgettable? Life, what kind of life was this?

Fu HongXue bit down on his teeth and strode forth as the autumn breeze blew at his scarred tears. He couldn't die just yet!

Murky light. The murky lantern lit wine shop always carried with it a certain desolate loneliness. The wine was murky as well. Murky lights and murky wine were in front of him. He had never drank before but we wanted to get drunk. He didn't believe that alcohol could make him forget everything, but he wanted to get drunk.

He always thought that he could endure any pain, but the pain that he was feeling now was unbearable.

The murky wine sat in a shoddy porcelain bowl. He was determined to finish this turbid bowl of wine. But before he could reach his hand out, another hand picked up the bowl of wine.

"You can't drink this wine."

The hand was strong and sturdy but dull and drab. The voice was strong but drab as well. Fu HongXue did not lift his head. He recognized that hand and he recognized that voice -- Big Xue was a strong but drab kind of person, almost like a leage walnut.

"Why can't I drink this wine?"

"Because this wine isn't good enough."

In Big Xue's other hand was a large container of wine. He put the container down onto the table, popped open the cover and poured out one large bowl of wine. He didn't speak a single word. The expression on his face was neither one of sympathy or pity. All he did was give that bowl of wine to Fu HongXue.

Fu HongXue didn't refuse it. He wasn't even in the mood to turn people down. He only wanted to get drunk.

Who said that wine was sweet? The bitter and scalding wine was like fire as it poured down Fu HongXue's throat. He bit his teeth and swallowed it down, trying his hardest not to throw it back up. Instead, tears started to flow out.

Big Xue looked at Fu HongXue and asked, "You've never drank wine before?"

There was no reply.

Big Xue didn't ask again as he poured Fu HongXue another bowl. The second bowl tasted much better. After the third bowl, a very strange sensation came over Fu HongXue's body. He had never felt such a thing. The murky light on the table suddenly became much brighter. A strange vitality suddenly surged through his stiff and empty body. Even the pain that he felt slowly faded away.

But the pain was still in his heart, the blade was still in his heart!

Big Xue glanced at his blade and said, "Killing the wrong person is not that big of a deal."

Silence.

"Of all the heroes in the martial world, which one of them could say that they've never killed the wrong person before?" Big Xue said.

Still silence.

"Forget about others, just look at Yuan QiuYun himself. Who knows how many times in his life he's wrongly killed before." Big Xue said.

Fu HongXue lifted another bowl of wine to his mouth and finished it with one gulp. He knew that Big Xue had misunderstood his pain. It was much worse than what he thought.

He had completely forgotten that he just killed an innocent person. All he could remember was a woman, a woman who had deserted him.

Big Xue poured him another bowl and said, "You shouldn't even let what happened bother you, I know you're a good man, you ..."

Fu HongXue suddenly cut him off and said, "I'm not a good man."

Big Xue knitted his brow and asked, "Says who?"

"Me." Fu HongXue replied. He took the wine bowl and shattered it on the floor. "I'm not a man at all!"

Big Xue laughed and said, "I can assure you that you're the only person who thinks that way."

"Only because other people don't understand me."

Big Xue let out a sigh and said, "What about you? Do you really understand yourself?"

This was one question that he definitely did not have an answer for.

"We are merely strangers so of course I can't claim to understand you. But even so I would dare to say that you're definitely a person, an extraordinary person. And so you shouldn't let yourself drown in despair for any reason." His expression became even more serious and his voice became even more stern as he continued, "Especially not for a woman."

Of course Fu HongXue lifted his head. He suddenly realized that Big Xue was right. A man suffering because love was like green leaves on a tree suddenly withering.

"I can also tell you that not only is she not worth your pain but also that she's not even worth glancing another eye at." Big Xue said.

"You ... you ... you know her ... her whereabouts?" Even his voice trembled from nervousness.

Big Xue nodded his head and said, "I do."

Fu HongXue leapt up and said, "Tell ... tell me."

"I cannot."

"Why not?"

Big Xue stared at him. His eyes filled with sorrow and he down a bowl of wine. He finally nodded his head and said, "Fine, I'll tell you. She ... she's with another person."

"Who?"

"The young lad who was driving our carriage."

That sentence was like a blade stabbing into Fu HongXue's chest. His pain was spiralling close to madness.

"You're lying!"

"I never lie."

"If you say that again I'll kill you."

"You can kill me if you want, but I am not lying."

Big Xue's expression was calm and collected and he stared at Fu HongXue.

"You must believe me, you have to!"

Fu HoneXue stared at him as his hand clenched onto his sabre. He hadn't pulled his blade out, but his tears had started to flow. He could tell that Big Xue wasn't lying.

"You shouldn't blame her, she's not good enough for you anyway. If the two of you forced it, it would only result in sadness -- but the two of them are the same."

The two of them! That statement also felt like a blade stabbing into Fu HongXue's chest.

Could it be that the woman in his heart was that wretched and lowly?

He suddenly fell to the floor. Then his tears started to flow. At least he didn'y cry aloud. But these silent tears were even more depressing than loud wailing.

Big Xue didn't try to comfort him. Everyone knew that silent tears could not be solved by comforting. All he could do was wait and watch from the side. Waiting and watching until all the wine and grief in Fu HongXue's body flowed out through his tears.

Big Xue finally pulled him up and said, "Let's go. Let's go drink somewhere else."

Fu HongXue did not refuse. He had lost all willpower and dignity to refuse.

This place not only had wine but also women. Wine along with women could make all sorts of men forget all sorts of problems. Fu HongXue hadn't forgotten it all yet, but he was already numb. His pain was probably even deeper by the third day. But this place had women and wine waiting for him.

It looked like not only was Big Xue a good friend, he was a very good host as well. He provided for everything. Everything he offered, Fu HongXue accepted. When a person was in real pain, not only did they lose the will to refuse, they lost the courage to do so as well.

As soon as he opened his eyes each day he was waiting for the first bowl of wine. After the last bowl was finished, he would fall down. He only had one thing left to fear -- sobriety.

Does pain only exist when we are sober? Could numbness really wash away the pain?

Nightfall, it was not yet nightfall.

Flowery fragrances emanted from beyond the walls. The long road lay silent and empty. Under the rays of the sun it looked like a giant copper mirror. There were only four buildings on that road. The most luxurious brothels and inns in the city resided on that stretch. This road was called Courtyard Road.

At the end of the road were crescent shaped gate doors shaded on all sides. Strong fragrant odors emanting from within.

Fu HongXue pushed open those doors. He crossed into the small pathway. The smell of flowers, perfume and women permeated through the air. It was here that he spent six days in inebriation. This place had all varieties of wine and all varieties of women -- from thirteen to thirty. They were all very beautiful and they all knew how to please a man.

"How different is Cui Nong and any of the women here? I bet any one of these womenm aren't that far off from her."

Those were Big Xue's words. Fu HongXue didn't argue but in his heart he knew that CUi Nong was irreplaceable to him. In every man's heart is a woman who is irreplaceable to him no matter what. This is another one of humanity's sorrowful truths.

And now he stood, he hadn't drank a cup of wine yet today. The lingering fragrance from the previous night still remained. The walls were white, the furniture was shiny, a pot of chrysanthemums that sat atop a cabinet was in full boom. This was the most exquisite and luxurious place in the entire city, but he suddenly felt as if he was trapped in a cage.

He wanted to take a walk. His hand was still clenched onto his sabre, but nowhere near as hard as before. His complexion was still as pale as ever, but it was no longer transparent. It was more like ash.

Had the alcohol already destroyed his dignity and valor? Had it sapped away all his strength? Even he could sense it himself. His head felt swelled, his stomach was still empty. He didn't have an appetite for anything other than wine.

Suddenly, a new fear came over him. So he wanted to escape this cage.

The long street was desolate, flowers still permeated through the air.

Fu HongXue pushed open the crescent gates. A gentle gust of autumn wind greeted him. He took a deep breath and was ready to float away to wherever the wind carried him.

It was just then that he saw someone.

Cui Nong.

After countless moments of torment and pain, he suddenly saw Cui Nong.

But she wasn't alone. At her side was the young lad who was their driver.

But no one would ever be able to tell that he used to steer carriages now. He had on a long extravagant robe that was worth at least twenty silver taels, the type that the wealthiest young men in town wore. On his belt was Cui Nong's snuff bottle, several large pearls adorned his headwear. He could walk proudly with his chin up now.

But he still stood behind Cui Nong, the same way Cui Nong always stood behind Fu HongXue. As soon as Cui Nong's lips moved, his ears would perk up. Because all the clothes on his body and head were bought with her money. She practically bought his entire person.

It was something that she'd never be able to obtain from Fu HongXue.

Fu HongXue quickly became stiff and numb. The wind that blew at him suddenly felt hot, as if it were being blown from the depths of hell. His whole body felt as if it were engulfed in flames.

His blade was also in flames. The blade was still in his hands. He could've dashed over and killed that person in an instant. But he just stood there motionlessly, because he was feeling an indescribable sense of shame and disgrace. He was too afraid to confront them.

The ones who should be ashamed were them, but it was he who felt that way instead. What kind of emotion was this? What kind of pain and suffering was this? Who could've understood other than him?

"Let it go, let it go, let it go ..."

He wanted to turn away and not look at them. But his whole body was frozen in place, even his eyes were unable to move.

"Let it go, let it go, let it go ..."

Since she really was that kind of person, why use anymore was it to pain and weep for her? But his years had already started to flow.

His eyes watched as they walked towards an inn across the street. Cui Nong was in front while the youngster followed from behind.

He was still unable to move.

After who knows how long he finally felt a soft, delicate hand holding his own hand.

"Why are you just standing here? Big Xue has been looking all around for you and wants you to come drink more with him."

Right, alcohol. Why was he standing here sober, enduring such humiliation and heartache?

Thus, he went to drink again. He once was again in inebriation. He drank until he woke, he woke just to drink some more. Dignity, courage, and strength were all thrown out the window.

The only thing he had left was that blade.

Pitch black sheathe, pitch black hilt.

The hand that held his blade started to twitch slightly.

He had not drank yet that day. A young girl with a very big sweet smile poured them each a cup. Big Xue watched from across the table. Amber colored wine filled the jade colored cups.

Fu HongXue knew that as soon as he downed that cup of wine, his troubles and pain would instantly lighten. He reached out his hand and grabbed the cup of wine. Just then, Big Xue struck out and knocked the cup of wine out of his hand.

Fu HongXue was shocked.

Big Xue's expression didn't look as jovial and friendly as it had been the last couple of days.

"You still want to drink today?"

Fu HongXue hesistated before finally nodding his head.

"Do you know how much of my wine you've drank already?" Big Xue asked in a deep voice.

Of course Fu HongXue did not know, he could barely think straight let alone remember.

The young maiden with the sweet smile chimed in, "Not counting today, young master Fu's tab comes out to three thousand four hundred silver taels."

"How much has he paid so far?" Big Xue asked.

The young maiden's smile became even sweeter, "Not a single tael."

"Not even one? Then how is he still in here?" Big Xue said coldly.

"Because he is a guest of master Xue." the young maiden replied.

"Right, he is my guest so I can treat him once or twice. But you can't expect me to treat him for a lifetime."

The young maiden laughed and replied, "Of course not, it's not like he is master Xue's son or something. Why should master Xue pay for him for a lifetime?"

"I paid for him before because I thought he still resembled a hero. Who would've guessed that he's nothing but a leeching dog, not even the least resemblance of a man."

Fu HongXue's entire body shook from shame and anger, but all he could do was take it. Because even he knew himself that there was no reason for anyone to pay for his wine for an entire lifetime.

He bit down on his teeth and slowly stood up. His left leg took a step forward, and his right leg slowly dragged along from behind. He was even slower than usual because his legs were slightly numb.

"You want to leave?" Big Xue asked.

"I ... I should leave." Fu HongXue replied.

"What about your tab?"

Fu HongXue shut his mouth. He had no reply and had nothing else he could say.

"I can pay for the first three days, but the last eleven days ..." Big Xue said.

The young maiden cut in and added, "The last eleven days comes out to two thousand eight hundred and fifty silver taels."

"Did you hear her, that's two thousand eight hundred and fifty silver taels. You want to leave without paying up?" Big Xue said.

Fu HongXue had no reply, nor did he have anything to say.

"You don't have enough money to pay the bill? Fine, leave your sabre behind and I'll let you go." Big Xue said.

It was as if Fu HongXue's ears just heard a clap of thunder.

"Leave your sabre behind!"

Fu HongXue felt as if his entire body was crumbling apart. Big Xue had a malicious smile on his face. He had finally revealed his true colors. After quite some time, Fu HongXue finally put together nine words.

"No one can make me leave my sabre behind!"

"If you had said those words before, I might've taken heed. But now ..." Big Xue replied.

"But now what?"

"Now, you can't make such a threat. You're not worthy of making such a threat!"

Fu HongXue suddenly turned around. His eyes flashed red. At least he finally saw Big Xue for who he really was.

"If you don't plan on leaving your sabre behind today, you'll have to leave your head behind!"

"Leave your head behind!"

The reason why Big Xue was so kind to him was solely for the purpose of eventually uttering those words. It was all part of his plan from the start.

The blade was still in his hand, Fu HongXue could still draw it out of his sheathe at anytime. But he had completely lost the confidence in his ability to kill a person with a single strike. Because his courage, dignity, and his confidence had been completely sapped by wine.

"Draw your blade!"

Big Xue stood up like a giant.

"Are you afraid of drawing your blade?"

Not only was his voice filled with mocking ridicule, it was also filled with confidence. Because he understood Fu HongXue's martial arts very well. He also understood what Fu HongXue had lost in the last couple days.

He had complete certainty.

This certainty was the same certainty that Fu HongXue had when he plunged his blade into Yuan QiuYun's chest!

He knew that as soon as Fu HongXue drew his blade, he would be killed instantly. In the same way as when Fu HongXue drew his blade and others would be killed instantly.

It was a frightening change.

Who brought about such a change? And what could've caused it? What kind of thing is love?

Fu HongXue did not draw his blade. He could not draw his blade. His sword didn't feel like it was in his hands anymore, it felt like it was plunged into his heart! His heart was slowly dripping with blood, pain, remorse, shame, and anger. And all this was brought about by a woman. A woman who ran off to an inn with a lowly carriage driver.

"Let it go, let it go, let it go ..."

What if he drew his blade? What if he died? Love and hatred would perish instantly with him. His life would perish as well, all in one clean swoop. Under such pain and humiliation, why would anyone want to stay alive? What was worth staying alive for?

He had decided to draw his blade!

Nightfall.

The autumn clouds hung low, the land was vast and boundless.

Fu HongXue was prepared to draw his blade. Just then, he heard someone laugh.

Lu XiaoJia's laughter. Unbeknownst to them all, Lu XiaoJia was perched on the window for some time already. The sound of his laughter always seemed to carry a tone of cynicism and ridicule.

Fu HongXue's heart sank. He originally thought he had a tiny sliver of hope, but now even that was gone.

"Beautiful wine, beautiful women, and the two of you are going to throw your lives away here?" Lu XiaoJia said with a smile.

"Is it ever necessary to pick the right place to kill someone?" Big Xue said.

"Of course it is." Lu XiaoJia replied with a smile, "I'm much more of an expert at killing than you two and I can guarantee you that this is not the place to be killing people."

"You want to pick a location for us then?" Big Xue asked.

Lu XiaoJia nodded his head, "That garden over there is a good spot. No matter where you fall dead, you'll be landing on a bed of flowers."

Hazy evening mist, it appeared as if there was a layer of cotton yarn hanging over the flower garden. But this beautiful garden suddenly turned into a very cold and desolate place.

With a flip, Lu XiaoJia landed on another windowsill and said, "Autumn weather makes for such a great time for killing."

"Pity that there's no need for you to get involved this time." Big Xue said.

Lu XiaoJia smiled and replied, "When I have no one to kill, watching a friend kill is just as good."

"I guarantee you'll get a good show then." Big Xue said.

"I believe you." Lu XiaoJia replied.

He turned to look at Fu HongXue with a smile and said, "You know, the person being killed today really wasn't supposed to be you."

Fu HongXue stood still at the end of the path in the garden.

"Old Xue's martial arts are ferocious and powerful and he can be considered a first-class expert. But your blade seems to be possessed by some demonic power. Before, you would've been able to kill him." Lu XiaoJia said.

Silence.

"But now that's not the case anymore. Because you've lost confidence in yourself, how would your blade have any confidence in you?" Lu XiaoJia continued.

Still silence.

"You no longer trust your blade now, and your blade no longer trusts you. That is why you'll definitely die under Old Xue's hands."

Fu HongXue's palms filled with cold sweat.

"Watching someone like you die under another person's hands will be such a shame. But you have no one to blame but yourself."

Lu XiaoJia let out a sigh and continued, "If a person is seeking vengeance, he can't let his heart fall in love with any woman. If a person wants to stay alive in the martial world for a long time, he definitely can't let his heart fall for any woman. Besides, the person you've fallen in love with is nothing more than a prostitute."

Fu HongXue felt his heart sinking into this chest. He suddenly said, "If a person wants to stay alive for a long time, he shouldn't speak so many words."

"That is very true, I really have spoken too much today." Lu XiaoJia peeled another peanut and tossed it into the air as he said, "But at the same time, you've spoken too little."

"Oh?"

Lu XiaoJia caught the peanut in his mouth and chewed slowly, "You should ask him why he wants to kill you."

"I don't need to ask."

"Why not?"

"Because I already know why."

"You know why already?"

Fu HongXue's eyes filled with pain, "He must be one of the assassins that went to Plum Blossom Monastery that night."

Lu XiaoJia let out a loud laugh, "He's not even thirty years old, so he must've been a child back then. Why don't you try to guess his age?"

Fu HongXue looked startled.

"Since you can seek vengeance for your father, why can't he kill you for the sake of his father as well."

Fu HongXue finally understood.

Although Big Xue wasn't an enemy of the Bai family, his father undoubtedly was. This entire plan was to prevent Fu HongXue from going after his father. Who could say that Big Xue was wrong in his actions? Although his methods weren't very honorable, no one could criticize him for doing whatever it takes to protect his father's life.

Big Xue didn't say a word the entire time. He had focused all the strength in his body to his four limbs. His gigantic body looked as if it had become even bigger. His weapon of choice was a fifty-three catty iron hatchet that looked like it could split mountains.

Fu HongXue took a deep breath and said, "Fine, you might as well make your move now."

"I'll let you draw your sabre first, I can still kill you then." Big Xue said coldly.

Suddenly another voice was heard saying, "If you want to kill him, you'll have to kill me first."

Although that voice was coarse, it was still very audible. A person hurriedly made their way through the garden path. Usually, it was rare for someone to be able to maintain their grace and beauty under duress. Her neatly combed hair was in a mess, the anxiety and fear on her face was clear.

A young lad chased after her from behind, "Why are you meddling in other people's business for?"

Before the youngster could finish his words, she turned and slapped him across his face.

Big Xue and Lu XiaoJia were caught by surprise as they both uttered at the same time, "It's you!"

They couldn't believe that this woman was Cui Nong, and they couldn't believe that she would be willing to die for Fu HongXue. But in that instant, the person who was most amazed, most pained, and yet most joyful was of course Fu HongXue.

There probably wasn't anyone who could describe or understand how Fu HongXue felt at that point. Cui Nong had rushed over and was standing in front of him.

"What are you here for?" Big Xue asked.

"I can't watch him die." Cui Nong replied.

"You think you can protect him?" Big Xue with a cold smile.

"I can't, but I can die before him."

"You're really willing to die for him?"

"Why else would I be here for?"

"Then why did you leave in the first place?"

"Because ... because I thought he was disgusted with me, and looked down on me. I thought he didn't want me at all."

Tears started to brim on her eyes. "But now I know that he truly loves me. He only treated me that way because he was born with that kind of temperament."

Big Xue smiled coldly.

"Only now do I understand that as long as he truly loves me, nothing else is important. And anyway ... I know how these last couple days must have been for him." she said as tears streamed down her face.

She bit down on her lips as she continued, "If not for me, how could the likes of you threaten him?"

"You really want me to kill you?" Big Xue said coldly.

"Yes. If he were to die because of me, how could I live on anyway?"

"Very well, then I'll fulfill your wish." Big Xue said.

Suddenly Fu HongXue cut in, "Wait a second!"

"Don't tell me you want to die first now?" Big Xue remarked coldly.

Fu HongXue didn't reply. He didn't say another word. He didn't have to say anything else because his mannerisms had made everything crystal clear. In that split second, his entire person had changed again.

Before, his heart felt like it crushed into pieces, like paper in the palm of someone's hand. If your heart is in shambles, even if you had the strength you wouldn't be able to use it.

Everything in life is driven by one's heart.

Alcohol wasn't really destroying him. It was his pain and desperation that was destroying him.

But now, his heart felt whole again. His mannerisms were suddenly filled with confidence again, because he knew that the person he loved had not betrayed him. The hand that was grasping his sabre suddenly became exceptionally steady.

Big Xue looked at him and an unspeakable dread filled his body. He knew that if he didn't kill this person now, there would never again be another opportunity.

He let out a loud roar and charged over. The fifty-three catty iron hatchet turned into a fierce howling wind. Flowers in the garden were shaken by the tremendous force and blown into the air.

Then everything fell silent.

Flowers slowly drifted to the ground. The iron hatchet was raised high but stayed motionless. Big Xue stood there motionless as well.

Fu HongXue was already standing in front of him right under his hatchet.

But the only part of his sabre that was visible was its black handle, its blade was already buried into Big Xue's chest!

That jet black handle was still in his hand, his face was pale as snow.

The iron hatchet finally fell out of Big Xue's hands. His eyes bulged out as they stared at Fu HongXue. They looked the same as all the others that died under his blade, they filled with doubt and disbelief.

But he had no other choice than to believe it now. This person, that blade, really had that kind of power.

Fu HongXue did not look at him, he only stared at his sabre.

With a *QIANG*, his sabre went back into his sheathe.

Big Xue had not yet fallen. With a long heave, he managed to let out a couple of words, "I really wanted to see you as a friend."

Those would be the last words he ever spoke.

Then, he fell to the ground on a bed of flowers.

Fu HongXue still did not look at him, but for some reason a hint of sadness showed in his lonesome eyes.

"I really didn't want to kill."

Although he didn't actually say those words, there are some things that don't have to be spoken at all.