-->

Bordertown Wanderer - Chapter 36

Chapter 36: That Stage Which is Life

Jin Fengzi was still lying on the floor, his groans sounding even more painful than before.

Someone had lit a lamp. His face, underneath the lamp light, was ash-grey.

The corner of his eyes and the corner of his lips were incessantly twitching, and his entire face had become contorted hideously.

Fu Hongxue finally raised his head. “Is the Yi Dajing you spoke of, the ‘Iron Handed Gentleman’, Yi Dajing?”

Ye Kai said, “Precisely so. The ‘Iron Handed Gentleman’, Yi Dajing, is also Zhao Dafang.”

Fu Hongxue hatefully said, “Everyone in the martial world says that Yi Dajing is a gentleman. I didn’t imagine that he is this sort of ‘gentleman’!”

Ye Kai said, “There’s always been many hypocrites in the world.”

Fu Hongxue said, “Why did he do all this?”

Ye Kai said, “To kill you!”

Fu Hongxue naturally understood this. He shouldn’t have asked.

Ye Kai said, “But he also knew that your sabre is very fast. There truly are very few people who are faster than your sabre.”

Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but once again think of that stranger. That strange, fascinating stranger, and his relaxed yet composed bearing.

Based on that alone, there was no one else in the world who could compare to him.

“Can it truly be the case that his short stick would have pierced my throat before my sabre had even left the sheath?”

Fu Hongxue truly could not believe it, nor was he willing to believe it.

He almost couldn’t resist the urge to chase after that person and compete with him to see who struck more quickly.

He definitely would not admit inferiority.

Unfortunately, he already knew that when that stranger decides to leave a place, there was no one in the world who could obstruct him, and there definitely was no one in the world who could catch up with him.

Even if he wanted to deny this, he could not.

The hand he gripped the sabre with was trembling.

Ye Kai looked at his hand. Sighing, he said, “Right now, perhaps you don’t believe that he strikes faster than you, but…”

Fu Hongxue suddenly interrupted him. He loudly said, “Whether or not I believe it is my own business. My business has nothing to do with you!”

Ye Kai forced out a smile.

Fu Hongxue said, “So there is no need for you to interfere in this matter at all.”

Ye Kai could only continue to smile forcedly.

Fu Hongxue said, “Why did you secretly follow me this entire time?”

Ye Kai said, “I did not.”

Fu Hongxue said, “If you weren’t following me, how would you have known about this affair?”

Ye Kai said, “Because on the road, I saw Yi Dajing.”

Fu Hongxue said, “Many people saw him.”

Ye Kai said, “But only I knew that he was Yi Dajing. Yi Dajing shouldn’t have been here, and he definitely shouldn’t have been dressed like that. He was always very fastidious about his choice of apparel.”

Fu Hongxue said, “That isn’t your business either.”

Ye Kai said, “But I couldn’t help but feel that it was strange.”

Fu Hongxue said, “So you followed him.”

Ye Kai nodded. “I trailed him for two days, but wasn’t able to locate his resting place, because I didn’t dare to follow him too closely. His movements were as crafty as a fox’s.”

Fu Hongxue let out a ‘humph’.

Ye Kai said, “But I knew that he invited Xiao Dazi from the capital, and so I changed my plan. I started to follow Xiao Dazi instead.”

Forcing out a smile, he continued, “But afterwards, even Xiao Dazi disappeared.”

Fu Hongxue sneered, “So there’s actually tasks which you cannot accomplish either.”

Ye Kai said, “Fortunately, I ran into those two coffin-bearers. They were actually actors from Xiao Dazi’s theatrical troupe. They came along with him. Xiao Dazi has always treated his actors very well.”

This really was a very complicated affair. Even Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but to begin to listen attentively.

Ye Kai said, “By that time, they had already begun to pack their belongings and prepare to leave the city. After I located them, I finally managed to get them to divulge the location of the place they had taken Xiao Dazi, using a mixture of coercion and bribery.

Fu Hongxue said, “Therefore, you went there.”

Ye Kai said, “By the time I got there, you were already gone. Only Yi Dajing and Xiao Dazi remained.”

Fu Hongxue said, “Yi Dajing naturally wouldn’t tell you about this secret.”

Ye Kai said, “He naturally would not, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to get any answers out of him. Unfortunately for him, although his plans were very careful and thorough, his tactics were a little too malicious.”

Fu Hongxue listened.

Ye Kai said, “He had actually already put poison in the wine. He intended to kill Xiao Dazi to make he would be quiet!”

Only now did Fu Hongxue understand that Xiao Dazi’s agony came not from any wounds, but from poison.

Ye Kai said, “When I arrived, the poison had already begun to take effect. After I exposed Yi Dajing’s treachery, he naturally hated Yi Dajing to the core.”

Fu Hongxue said, “Therefore, he naturally exposed Yi Dajing’s plot to you as well.”

Ye Kai sighed. “If it weren’t for the fact that Yi Dajing’s tactics were so vile, I perhaps would never have been able to learn of this plot. His acting skills truly had reached an incredibly high level of professionalism. I couldn’t see a single flaw in it whatsoever, to the point where I actually regarded him as a modest, self-disciplined gentleman. I was almost ready to apologize him, but he had already left.”

Ding Linglin couldn’t resist letting out a sigh as well. “If he were to become an opera singer, he would definitely become even more famous than Xiao Dazi.”

Ye Kai said, “But it seemed as though earlier, I heard you calling him your ‘uncle’.”

Ding Linglin angrily glared at him. Pursing her lips, she said, “He was my father’s friend. He looked like such a kind, courteous, refined person. Who would have thought that he was such a hypocrite, such a false gentleman?”

Ye Kai sighed. “So you should now understand that a genuine scoundrel like myself is far better.”

Ding Linglin suddenly laughed. “I understood that long ago.”

Ye Kai forced out a smile. “Maybe it’s best that you don’t understand.”

Ding Linglin stared at him again. She suddenly said, “Right now, there really is something that I don’t understand!”

Ye Kai was waiting for her to ask the question.

Ding Linglin said, “The legendary heroes of the previous generation, such as Li Xunhuan and Ah Fei, had disappeared without a trace long ago. How could Yi Dajing have known that he would be here today?”

Ye Kai quietly chanted, “Swordsman Fei truly is a man who is difficult to locate. Sometimes, even Li Tanhua would be unable to find him.”

Ding Linglin said, “So I feel that this is very strange.”

Ye Kai said, “But everyone knows that ever since Bai Xiaosheng’s death, Yi Dajing became one of the three people in the martial world who had the quickest access to information.”

Ding Linglin said, “I’ve heard that as well. There are many guests who come to his home.”

Ye Kai said, “Perhaps he heard that swordsman Fei was coming here, and so came in advance to wait for him.”

Ding Linglin said, “Then he must have long ago prepared the house in which he was living in.”

Ye Kai said, “And then he thought up a way to trick Fu Hongxue into coming here.”

Ding Linglin glanced at Fu Hongxue out of the corner of her eyes, before saying, “That isn’t too hard.”

Ye Kai said, “Perhaps he spent every single day trying to find news of swordsman Fei’s whereabouts.”

Ding Linglin said, “But someone actually believed that he was trying to find news of Ma Kongque’s whereabouts instead.”

Ye Kai laughed. “This man acts in a very secretive, thorough way. I don’t think anyone can compare to him.”

Fu Hongxue was silent the entire time. He suddenly said, “Where is he?”

Ye Kai said, “Gone.”

Fu Hongxue sneered. “Why did you let him go?”

Ye Kai chortled. “Why did I let him go? Can’t he go by himself?”

Fu Hongxue said, “You didn’t stop him?”

Ye Kai said, “You think that I am definitely able to stop him?”

Fu Hongxue smirked.

Ding Linglin suddenly couldn’t resist smirking as well. “Although little Ye didn’t stop him, at least he didn’t fall for his tricks.”

Fu Hongxue’s expression changed. He turned around, indicating that he was totally unwilling to speak with her.

But Ding Linglin circled around him to face him again. “Even if you don’t consider little Ye to be a friend, he’s treated you quite well, right?”

Fu Hongxue refused to reply.

Ding Linglin said, “Even a father wouldn’t necessarily treat his son better than the way he’s treated you. Even if you don’t thank him, you shouldn’t treat him as though he were your enemy.”

Fu Hongxue refused to open his mouth.

Ding Linglin sneered. “I know that you aren’t willing to speak to me. To tell the truth, normally, I wouldn’t even spare someone like you a single glance, even if you were to kneel down in front of me.”

Fu Hongxue was smirking again.

Ding Linglin said, “But right now, I can’t help but want to ask you a few questions.”

Fu Hongxue waited for her to ask.

Ding Linglin said, “Why is it that the better others treat you, the fiercer you act towards them? Are you afraid of others treating you well? Is there something wrong with you?”

Fu Hongxue’s pallid face suddenly turned red. His entire body seemed to start to tremble again.

A look of pain suddenly appeared within his cold, callous eyes. Pain so great that it seemed as though he were almost unable to bear it any longer.

Ding Linglin was stunned.

She had never imagined that Fu Hongxue would suddenly become like that.

She could no longer bear to look at him. Lowering her head, she slowly said, “Actually, I was just joking around. Why do you need to be so angry?”

Fu Hongxue didn’t even hear her words.

Ding Linglin didn’t speak any more as well. She suddenly felt very uninteresting, very embarrassed.

There was still wine on the table.

She actually sat down and began to drink wine.

Ye Kai was slowly propping up Xiao Dazi, as though he weren’t paying any attention to them at all.

Xiao Dazi’s entire face was covered with tears. In a rasping voice, he said, “I…I am just a humble actor. I’ll act for anyone who pays me.”

Ye Kai said, “I know.”

Crying, Xiao Dazi said, “I don’t want to die yet…”

Ye Kai said, “You won’t die.”

Xiao Dazi said, “Will the medicine really work?”

Ye Kai said, “I’ve already promised you that it would, and fed you my antidote.”

Gasping, Xiao Dazi sat down. He finally seemed to be a bit more at peace.

Ye Kai sighed. “In all honesty, who isn’t acting? Isn’t life the grandest stage of them all?”

Fu Hongxue had already calmed down. He suddenly turned around and stared at Xiao Dazi. “Do you know where Yi Dajing went?”

Xiao Dazi’s face turned white again, this time from fear. He stuttered, “I…I…I imagine he probably went home.”

Fu Hongxue said, “Where is his home?”

Xiao Dazi said, “I heard that it is the ‘Manor of Ten Thousand Hidden Scrolls’. Although I’ve never been there before, there must be many people in the martial world who are familiar with it.”

Fu Hongxue immediately turned around and slowly walked out. He didn’t even spare Ye Kai another glance.

But Ye Kai said, “Wait. There’s something I want to tell you.”

Fu Hongxue did not wait.

Ye Kai said, “The family name of Yi Dajing’s wife is ‘Lu’.”

Fu Hongxue ignored him.

Ye Kai said, “Not ‘Lu’ as in ‘road’, ‘Lu’ as in Lu Xiaojia.”

Blue veins suddenly appeared on the hand with which Fu Hongxue gripped his sabre.

But he still left without even turning around.

The night was deep.

“Isn’t life the grandest stage of them all? Who isn’t acting?”

The only real question is how one decides to go about putting on the play!

Do you want to perform a tragedy, or a comedy? Do you want to keep all the acclaim of others for yourself, or do you want people to throw rotten persimmons at your face?

This persimmon wasn’t rotten.

Autumn was when persimmons were supposed to be harvested.

Ding Linglin peeled a persimmon, then brought it to Ye Kai. In a soft voice, she said, “Persimmons are chilly in nature. If you eat persimmons while drinking, you won’t get drunk as easily.”

Ye Kai dully said, “How can you be sure that I don’t want to get drunk?”

Ding Linglin said, “If a person really wants to get drunk, they’ll get drunk no matter what sort of dishes they eat while drinking.”

She delivered the persimmon to Ye Kai’s lips, and then sweetly said, “So it’s best if you ate it first.”

Ye Kai had no choice but to eat it.

He wasn’t a wooden log. He knew how Ding Linglin felt towards him, and felt very thankful towards her.

Although this girl was sly, fierce, arrogant and willful, there were times when she was gentle and adorable. Anyone who had a girl like this accompanying them should feel very content.

After watching him eat the persimmon, Ding Linglin lightly let out a sigh. “Thank goodness you are not Fu Hongxue. The better others treat him, the worse he treats them.”

Ye Kai also sighed. “If you really think he is that sort of person, you are mistaken.”

Ding Linglin said, “How am I mistaken?”

Ye Kai said, “There are some people who will never allow their emotions to be written upon their faces.”

Ding Linglin said, “You believe he is that sort of person.”

Ye Kai said, “Therefore, the better he feels about someone in his heart, the less emotion he will reveal on his face, because he is afraid that others will see his emotion as frailty.”

Ding Linglin said, “So you believe he is actually fond of you?”

Ye Kai chortled.

Ding Linglin said, “But the way he treats Cui Nong…”

Ye Kai said, “The reason he suddenly became like that earlier was because you touched the wound on his heart. You made him think of Cui Nong.”

Ding Linglin said, “If he really was fond of Cui Nong, why would he discard her like that?”

Ye Kai said, “If he wasn’t really fond of her, how could he have been in such agony?”

Ding Linglin no longer spoke.

Sighing, Ye Kai said, “Only a truly emotionless human being can feel no pain. But I don’t admire that sort of person.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why?”

Ye Kai said, “Because that sort of person isn’t really a human being at all.”

Ding Linglin let out another quiet sigh. “You men really have very strange hearts.”

Ye Kai said, “Definitely strange, much like how you women have very strange hearts as well.”

His words weren’t wrong.

The strangest, most unfathomable things in the world are the hearts of humankind. Both male minds and female hearts are alike in that regard.

Ding Linglin suddenly laughed. “Fortunately, by now I can see right through you.”

Ye Kai said, “Oh?”

Ding Linglin said, “Although on the surface you seem to be a worthless fellow, in your heart you are actually very fond of me.”

Ye Kai’s face stiffened. He wanted to speak.

But just as he opened his mouth, Ding Linglin stuffed a freshly peeled persimmon right past his lips.

The night grew deeper still.

Xiao Dazi had eaten another packet of medicine. He was lying on the long bench at the corner of the room, sleeping.

The salesclerk in the store was yawning.

He really wanted to shoo all of these people away, but didn’t dare to offend them. Strangers were always a little dangerous.

Ding Linglin poured a cup of wine for Ye Kai. She suddenly said, “The ‘Manor of Ten Thousand Hidden Scrolls’ doesn’t seem to be too far away from here.”

Ye Kai said, “Not far at all.”

Ding Linglin continued, “Do you think Yi Dajing really went home?”

Ye Kai said, “He definitely wouldn’t flee.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why not?”

Ye Kai said, “Because he doesn’t need to flee. Fleeing would just make others all the more suspicious.”

Ding Linglin said, “No matter what, by now Fu Hongxue should have guessed that he was one of those assassins outside the Plum Blossom Convent that night. That’s why he thought up this scheme to entrap Fu Hongxue.”

Ye Kai said, “Fu Hongxue isn’t an idiot.”

Ding Linglin said, “Perhaps the person who poisoned Xue Bin’s wine was Yi Dajing as well.”

Ye Kai said, “It wasn’t.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why not?”

Ye Kai said, “The poison he used on Xiao Dazi was a totally different type of poison.”

Ding Linglin said, “Can’t he carry two different types of poison on him?”

Ye Kai said, “People who are skilled in using poison generally have their own unique, distinct style, as well as their own favored types of poison. It’s much like how women using rouge.”

Ding Linglin didn’t understand.

Ye Kai said, “When you become accustomed to using a certain type of rouge, wouldn’t you prefer using it as opposed to switching to different types?”

Ding Linglin thought for a moment, then nodded.

Ye Kai said, “When you leave the house, would you bring two totally types of rouge?”

Ding Linglin shook her head. Glancing sideways at him, she coldly said, “You really know quite a lot about women.”

Ye Kai said, “It’s just that I know a lot about poisons. I actually don’t know anything about women.”

Ding Linglin said, “I’d be shocked if you didn’t.”

She suddenly snatched away the cup of wine she had just poured for Ye Kai and downed it in one gulp herself.

Ye Kai laughed.

Ding Linglin glanced at him sideways again. “I’m really surprised that you are in the mood to sit here and drink right now.”

Ye Kai said, “Why shouldn’t I be in the mood?”

Ding Linglin said, “Since Yi Dajing has already gone back home, can Fu Hongxue really find him as soon as he goes there?”

Ye Kai nodded.

Ding Linglin said, “Since Lu Xiaojia is his younger brother-in-law, and has been nearby these past two days, isn’t it possible that he’s there right now as well?”

Ye Kai said, “Very possible.”

Ding Linglin said, “Aren’t you afraid that Fu Hongxue will be at a disadvantage against them? Haven’t you always cared a lot about him?”

Ye Kai said, “I am very much at ease about the situation.”

Ding Linglin said, “Truly?”

Ye Kai said, “Truly, because I know they won’t come to blows at all.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why not?”

Ye Kai laughed. “If you knew what type of person Yi Dajing was, you’d understand why.”

Ding Linglin said, “Only a devil could understand him.”

Ye Kai said, “All his life, he has never liked to openly be enemies with anyone. Even if others went to his house to cause trouble, he would retreat and show forbearance. That’s why others believe him to be a gentleman.”

Ding Linglin said, “But that sort of forbearance is useless in this case.”

Ye Kai said, “But he can use other methods.”

Ding Linglin said, “What methods?”

Ye Kai said, “He can stubbornly deny everything and refuse to acknowledge any of this.”

Ding Linglin said, “The truth is the truth. Even if he denies it, what good will it do?”

Ye Kai said, “He can say that recently, he hasn’t stepped outside the ‘Manor of Ten Thousand Hidden Scrolls’ at all. He can even say that he’s been very sick recently.”

Ding Linglin said, “Will Fu Hongxue believe him? He isn’t an idiot.”

Ye Kai said, “No doubt, Yi Dajing has already prepared many people who are willing to testify on his behalf. People like him always prepare avenues of escape in advance, in case their plans fail.”

Ding Linglin said, “But Fu Hongxue wouldn’t necessarily believe the testimonies of others either.”

Ye Kai said, “But the people Yi Dajing convened are surely some of the most famous, most lofty people of the martial world. Their words carry a lot of weight. People can’t help but believe them.”

Ding Linglin said, “This sort of people would be willing to lie for him?”

Ye Kai said, “He isn’t necessarily asking them to lie for him, only that they testify on his behalf.”

Ding Linglin said, “Testify that he left?”

Ye Kai said, “He naturally would have thought of a way to make these people genuinely believe that he had been at home the entire time.”

Ding Linglin said, “I can’t think of what he would be able to do to make them believe that, unless he was able to split himself into two.”

Ye Kai said, “That’s not too hard to accomplish. Hypothetically speaking, he could find somebody, disguise them, then have them stay at home, recuperating from ‘illness’ on his behalf.”

He added, “The sickroom of a patient will naturally be very dim, and the sick person’s appearance will naturally be very poor. His voice would be different from normal as well. Thus, those friends of his naturally wouldn’t believe that this bedridden Yi Dajing is actually another man in disguise.”

Ding Linglin said, “In addition, Yi Dajing has always been known as a gentleman. Others simply wouldn’t believe he would do something like that.”

Ye Kai said, “Absolutely correct.”

Ding Linglin sighed. “It seems you know a lot about dishonest practices and crooked ways.”

Ye Kai said, “And thus, I’ve managed to stay alive.”

Ding Linglin sighed again. “I recommend you leave now, while you’re still alive, before you drink yourself to death here.”

Ye Kai said, “You can leave.”

Ding Linglin said, “What about you?”

Ye Kai said, “I’m definitely going to stay here.”

Ding Linglin said, “Do you think this is a very good place?”

Ye Kai said, “Not at all.”

Ding Linglin glanced at the frowning salesclerk, then said, “Do you think others want you to stay here?”

Ye Kai laughed. “He would like nothing better than for me to pay my bill and leave, the faster the better.”

Ding Linglin said, “Then why are you staying here?”

Ye Kai said, “I’m waiting for someone.”

Ding Linglin’s eyeballs spun around. “A woman?”

Ye Kai laughed. “I never wait for women. Women wait for me.”

Ding Linglin bit her lips. “Who exactly are you waiting for?”

Ye Kai said, “Fu Hongxue!”

Ding Linglin was stunned. “He’s going to come back?”

Ye Kai confidently replied, “He will definitely come back to find me, because he believes I deceived him.”

Ding Linglin said, “Can’t he tell that Yi Dajing is Zhao Dafang?”

Ye Kai said, “Can’t Yi Dajing say that it was someone else who dressed up as him in order to intentionally frame him?”

Ding Linglin was speechless again.

That salesclerk was listening off to the side the entire time. After hearing this, he couldn’t help but let out a long sigh.

But as he was sighing, someone outside began to laugh.

“I didn’t imagine that there would still be wine for sale here. Heaven treats me quite well. It doesn’t want to let me die of thirst.”

A man drunkenly staggered in. He was wearing new clothes and a new hat. There was a brandy nose on his round face. He absolutely, totally looked like a drunkard.

As soon as he walked in, he pulled out some silver and tossed it onto the table. He loudly said, “Bring me all your fine wines and fine dishes. I don’t have anything on me besides silver!”

If there is silver, there will naturally be wine available.

This man drank a few cups by himself, then suddenly turned around and waved towards Ye Kai.

Ye Kai waved towards him as well.

The man laughed loudly. “You’re an interesting fellow. You look like a good fellow. Fine, I’ll invite you to some wine.”

Ye Kai laughed. “Wonderful. I have everything in the world except for silver!”

He actually immediately walked over.

This was one of the good traits of Ye Kai. He was curious about everything. As long as any strange or interesting things were to happen, he definitely would not miss it.

He had already noticed that this man’s hands and feet were very thick, and that the brandy nose came from drinking hard liquor. Normally, he must be a man who did crude labor, but now he is wearing new clothes, a new hat, and has a large quantity of silver on him, enough to invite others to drink.

This was naturally a bit strange.

A slightly strange matter often leads to many other strange and interesting matters. Ye Kai had discovered many strange and interesting events in such a manner. In addition, he recently had been searching for someone.

Watching him walk over, Ding Linglin couldn’t help but let out a sigh. She murmured to herself, “Looks like there’s nothing easier in the world than one alcoholic befriending another.”

By this point, not only had the man’s nose became redder, even his tongue had tripled in size.

He was clapping Ye Kai on the shoulder repeatedly, loudly saying, “Drink as much as you want! I have plenty of money!”

Ye Kai lowered his voice intentionally. “Old boy, it looks like you’ve really struck it rich. If there’s any road to riches nearby, I hope that you can give me a few tips, so that I can treat you the next time we meet.”

The man laughed loudly. “What do you take me for, a bandit? A robber?”

He suddenly removed an ingot of silver, tossing it heavily upon the table. Staring at it, he said, “Let me tell you this. My money isn’t dirty. It took me over ten years to make this money.”

Ye Kai said, “Oh.”

The man said, “To tell you the truth, I’m not a bad person. I used to be a groom who washed horses.”

Ye Kai laughed. “A groom can make so much money? Looks like I should go be a groom as well.”

The man shook his head. “I could have introduced you in the past, but it’s too late now.”

Ye Kai said, “Why?”

The man said, “Because not only does that place no longer have horses, it doesn’t even have people there now.”

Ye Kai said, “What place is that?”

The man said, “Hero’s Manor.”

Ye Kai’s eyes lit up.

He had been looking for people from the Hero’s Manor for some time now. The strange thing was, he had found no trace of them at all.

Forty or fifty people with no work to perform, but four or five hundred taels of silver in their hands. It would be bizarre indeed if they didn’t go drinking or playing with women.

But none of the brothels or bars nearby had any news of them whatsoever.

Now, Ye Kai finally found one of them. Naturally, he wouldn’t slacken off. He probed, “I’ve been to the Hero’s Manor before. The wine cellars’ steward, old Gu, is a friend of mine.”

That person immediately pointed at his nose and started laughing. “That’s just talk. The steward’s surname isn’t Gu, it’s Zhang. His name is Weirdo Zhang.”

Ye Kai asked, “Why do you call him a weirdo?”

The man said, “Because although he is in charge of the cellar, he doesn’t touch a drop of wine himself.”

Ye Kai laughed. “Maybe it’s precisely because he doesn’t drink wine, that he was placed in charge of it.”

The man clapped his hands. Laughing loudly, he said, “Absolutely correct! Kid, you aren’t stupid at all.”

Ye Kai said, “Where is he now?”

The man said, “He went to the Ding family. All the people who left the Hero’s Manor have gone to the Ding family for employment.”

Evidently, they were employed immediately upon leaving the Hero’s Manor, and so had to rush to their new place of work.

No wonder Ye Kai couldn’t find any of them.

Ye Kai said, “They were all hired by the Ding family? Which Ding family?”

The man said, “Naturally, it is the richest, most famous of Ding families. Otherwise, how could they suddenly hire so many people?”

There was only one Ding family which could be considered the richest and most famous of them all.

Ding Linglin’s family.

Ye Kai couldn’t resist glancing at her. Ding Linglin was looking at him as well.

The man was still vaguely mumbling, “Although Weirdo Zhang didn’t drink wine, he had an excellent grasp of all other affairs. I’ve always ****ing admired him.”

Ye Kai said, “If everyone else had been hired by the Ding family, why didn’t you go?”

The man laughed. “I haven’t drank away all of these five hundred taels of silver yet. Even if the Ding family asked me to go be their son-in-law, I still wouldn’t ****ing go…”

The word ‘go’ is one which requires one to spread open one’s mouth.

Just as he said the word ‘go’, with a clanging sound, something struck his teeth.

Ye Kai immediately heard the sound of a tooth shattering.

The man was already bent over with pain. First, he spat out a peanut shell, and then he spat out a tooth. Next, he spat out blood. After smelling his own blood, his stomach clenched, and he began to vomit nonstop.

A peanut shell was the object which shattered his tooth.

Ding Linglin wasn’t eating peanuts. Naturally, she shouldn’t have any peanut shells.

The window was open. The night outside was as dark as ink.

Ye Kai suddenly chuckled towards the open window. “I was actually waiting for someone else. I didn’t expect you would be one to come.”

Someone laughed from outside the window.

There was a very unique cynicism in that laughter. Then, with a flutter of a shadow, someone appeared seated on the windowsill.

Lu Xiaojia. Naturally, it was Lu Xiaojia.

Ding Linglin suddenly said, “I was just about to teach him a lesson. I didn’t expect you’d act on my behalf first.”

Lu Xiaojia laughed flatly. “It really is the greatest of honors to be able to act on the behalf of the young lady of the Ding family.”

Ding Linglin said, “When did you learn how to blow smoke up people’s asses?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “When I suddenly realized something.”

Ding Linglin said, “Realized what?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Realized that up till this very day, I’m single and alone. Therefore…”

Ding Linglin said, “Therefore what?”

Lu Xiaojia smiled. “Therefore, I might still have the chance to be the Ding family’s son-in-law.”

Ding Linglin started to laugh again.

Lu Xiaojia said, “How can someone who wishes to be the Ding family’s son-in-law not flatter the young lady of the Ding family?”

Ding Linglin glanced sideways at Ye Kai, then said, “You should say these words to him.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “I did say them to him.”

Laughing loudly, he jumped down from the windowsill. Looking at Ye Kai, he said, “You ate several of my peanuts. Aren’t you going to invite me to drink tonight?”

Ye Kai smiled. “Naturally I will. Unfortunately, I also know that you didn’t come here for drinking.”

Lu Xiaojia let out a sigh, then said, “It seems as though I can’t hide anything from you.”

Ding Linglin couldn’t resist asking, “How did you come here?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “I came with someone.”

Ding Linglin said, “Who?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “The person you are waiting for.”

Ding Linglin wrinkled her forehead. Just as she turned around, she saw Fu Hongxue slowly walk in.

Fu Hongxue’s pale face seemed to have turned ashen.

Even before he walked inside, his gaze became fixed upon Ye Kai, as though he were afraid that Ye Kai would run away.

Ye Kai actually smiled, then said, “I knew you would definitely come back. I didn’t miscalculate.”

Fu Hongxue said, “There’s only one thing you miscalculated.”

Ye Kai said, “Oh?”

Fu Hongxue said, “Why did you want me to go kill Yi Dajing?”

Ye Kai said, “Was I the one who had you go kill Yi Dajing?”

Fu Hongxue coldly said, “Did you hope for him to die? Or did you hope for me to kill someone wrongly?”

Ye Kai let out a sigh. “I only hope that you can see this matter clearly.”

Fu Hongxue smirked. “You still don’t understand?”

Ye Kai shook his head.

Fu Hongxue said, “Zhao Dafang isn’t actually Yi Dajing.”

Ye Kai said, “Oh?”

Fu Hongxue said, “During the past two weeks, he hasn’t left the ‘Manor of Ten Thousand Hidden Scrolls’ at all.”

Ye Kai laughed.

Fu Hongxue said, “You don’t need to laugh. This is the truth.”

Ye Kai said, “Are there many people willing to testify on his behalf?”

Fu Hongxue nodded. “Many reliable people.”

Ye Kai said, “Naturally, he has been sick this entire time, very sick.”

Fu Hongxue said, “You know?”

Ye Kai laughed again.

He had predicted all of this ahead of time. He didn’t miscalculate in the slightest.

Ding Linglin was shaking her head, off to the side. Sighing, she said, “Who was the one who earlier claimed he wasn’t an idiot?”

Lu Xiaojia looked at her, then looked at Ye Kai. He suddenly laughed. “I understand now.”

Ding Linglin said, “Now what do you understand?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “You must believe that Yi Dajing found someone to pretend he was ill on his behalf, while he himself slipped out.”

Ding Linglin said, “Is that not possible?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Of course it is possible. Unfortunately, his sort of sickness cannot be feigned.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why not?”

Lu Xiaojia sighed again. “Perhaps it isn’t known to very many people in the martial world as of yet, but his left leg was chopped off by someone half a month ago!”

Ding Linglin was stunned.

Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but be shocked as well.

Lu Xiaojia said, “Song Changcheng, Wang Yiming, Ding Lingzhong, and Xie Jian all rushed to see him after hearing this news.”

The names he just recited really were some of the most famous, most illustrious names of the martial world.

The most jarring of names, naturally was Ding Lingzhong.

Ding Linglin almost cried out in surprise. She loudly said, “My third brother is there as well?”

Lu Xiaojia chuckled. “I hear that the people of the Ding family are all gentlemen. Don’t gentlemen like to be acquainted with other gentlemen?”

Ding Linglin could only listen.

Lu Xiaojia leisurely said, “I don’t know if the third young master is a liar?”

Ding Linglin said, “Of course he isn’t.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Then you can go ask him if Yi Dajing’s leg is chopped off or not, and whether or not this Yi Dajing with the chopped off leg is someone else in disguise. He’s still at the manor right now.”

What else could Ding Linglin say?

Ye Kai could only force out a smile as well.

Watching him, Lu Xiaojia smiled. “Actually, there’s no need for you to feel unhappy either. Everyone is wrong from time to time. As long as you can admit to your mistakes, everything will be fine.”

Ye Kai coughed.

“Naturally, I know that you’ll never verbally admit to being wrong. But so long as you admit to being wrong in your heart, that’ll be enough.”

He didn’t let Ye Kai speak. “The only question we have now is, since Yi Dajing was not Zhao Dafang, then who precisely was Zhao Dafang?”

Ye Kai couldn’t respond.

Fu Hongxue said, “I definitely will find this person.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Of course you have to find him. Maybe he is one of your enemies.”

Ye Kai suddenly spoke. “Maybe he is one of Yi Dajing’s enemies as well.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Why?”

Ye Kai said, “If he wasn’t Yi Dajing’s enemy, why would he use such a tactic to frame him?”

Lu Xiaojia was forced to agree.

Ye Kai muttered to himself, then said, “Naturally, he doesn’t know about Yi Dajing’s leg being chopped off. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have used this tactic.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Having your leg chopped off isn’t a very glorious thing. No one would want to go around publicizing it.”

Ye Kai said, “Do you know who chopped his leg off?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “No clue!”

Ye Kai said, “He didn’t tell you?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “He was totally unwilling to discuss this matter further.”

Ye Kai said, “Why?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Because he doesn’t want others to take revenge on his behalf. He’s always felt that it is better to make friends than to make enemies. If everyone were to demand an eye for an eye, when would it end?”

Ye Kai sighed. “It seems as though he really is a gentleman. It is your sister’s good fortune to be able to marry such a man.”

Staring at him, Lu Xiaojia was unable to tell if his words were words of genuine praise, or of satire.

Ye Kai chortled, and then said, “Regardless, I should first invite you to drink a cup of wine.”

Suddenly, someone said, “Leave me a cup as well.”

The voice came from very far away, but everyone present was able to hear it distinctly and clearly.

Naturally, the speaker was far away as well. And yet, he was able to hear every word which the people here said.

What type of person was this?

This question would be answered very shortly, because just after that sentence was finished, this person appeared outside the door.

He came so very quickly.

He wore a set of very ordinary clothes. A very ordinary wooden stick was stuck around his waist. But in his hands, he held a very large bundle.

Ding Linglin almost couldn’t resist jumping to her feet.

That ordinary and yet godlike stranger had actually returned.

It was very dark outside. The light was dim inside.

The stranger had already walked in, lightly placing the bundle in his hands on the floor.

What a large bundle.

The stranger casually found an open seat, then flatly said, “Normally, I never drink wine, but I am willing to make an exception today.”

No one asked him why. No one dared to ask.

The stranger suddenly turned to face Lu Xiaojia. “Do you know why?”

Lu Xiaojia shook his head.

The stranger said, “Do you know who I am?”

Lu Xiaojia shook his head, then nodded. A look of fear had appeared within his rock-steady gaze.

The stranger said, “But I recognize you and recognize your sword.”

Lu Xiaojia lowered his head, staring at the sword stuck slanted into waistband, as though he were wishing that this sword wasn’t on his body.

The stranger was looking at his sword as well. He emotionlessly said, “You don’t need to feel apologetic because of this sword. Although the person who taught you to use this sword is my bitter enemy, he is also my friend.”

Lu Xiaojia hanged his head down. “I understand.”

The stranger said, “I have always respected him, just like how he has always respected me.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Yes.”

This arrogant, conceited youngster had never shown such respect and fear towards anyone before.

The stranger said, “Is he still doing well?”

Lu Xiaojia said, “I haven’t seen him in a long time as well.”

The stranger chuckled. “He is just like me. He’s a man without roots. It isn’t an easy thing to locate him.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Yes.”

The stranger said, “I’ve heard that you’ve killed many people with this sword.”

Lu Xiaojia didn’t dare to reply.

The stranger slowly said, “I only hope that the people you killed were all people who deserved killing.”

Lu Xiaojia dared even less to reply now.

The stranger suddenly said, “Strike at me with your sword.”

Lu Xiaojia’s face changed.

The stranger said, “You should know that I always do what I say I will do.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “But I…I…”

The stranger said, “Don’t feel awkward. I’m telling you to do this. Naturally, I won’t blame you.”

Lu Xiaojia was still hesitating.

The stranger said, “Naturally, I won’t counterattack either.”

Lu Xiaojia finally was able to let his breath out. “As you command.”

His hand was already resting on the hilt of his sword.

The stranger said, “You had best use all of your strength, as though I were your hated enemy.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Yes.”

Suddenly, the entire world seemed to have turned silent. Everyone held their breath, widening their eyes. Everyone knew that something like this rarely happened, and even more rarely could be seen.

Lu Xiaojia’s sword was extremely fast. There were already very few people who could compare to him.

What about this stranger? Was he really as godlike as the legends made him out to be?

Suddenly, with a flash of sword light, Lu Xiaojia’s sword struck towards him, piercing towards the stranger’s throat!

Fu Hongxue was forcefully gripping his own sabre as well.

This strike came out as fast though he was the one who executed it. Even he couldn’t help but admit that it was fast, as fast as his own sabre!

At this moment, with a ‘ding’ sound, the sword suddenly snapped!

Only people with the sharpest of eyesight would have noticed that just after the sword shot out, the flashing shadow of a short stick could be seen. And then the sword snapped in half!

But right now, the short stick was still stuck around the stranger’s waist. Everyone couldn’t help but feel suspicious.

Only Lu Xiaojia wasn’t suspicious. Naturally, he knew how his sword had been broken. He held a broken sword in his hands. Cold sweat was already beginning to flow from his forehead.

The stranger picked up the broken half of the shattered sword. After staring at it for a long time, he suddenly said, “This sword is still too heavy.”

Lu Xiaojia glumly said, “I still can only use swords of this weight.”

The stranger nodded. “Right. The lighter the sword, the more difficult it is to use. Unfortunately, very few people understand this concept.”

Lu Xiaojia said, “Yes.”

The stranger said softly, “Do you know why I broke your sword in half?”

Lu Xiaojia did not know, nor did he dare to ask.

The stranger said, “Because this sword has already taken too many lives.”

Lu Xiaojia lowered his head. “I will definitely remember your lesson, elder.”

The stranger looked at him, then looked at Fu Hongxue and Ye Kai. A trace of a smile appeared on his lips. “I know that you people of this generation are both intelligent and hard-working. Compared to us in our time, you are not inferior.”

No one dared to reply.

Especially Fu Hongxue. Only now did he understand that if he had struck out with his sabre at the stranger, he definitely would have paid a price for it!

The stranger said, “But I still hope that you can understand something.”

Everyone listened.

The stranger said, “Truly great martial arts comes not from intelligence or hard work.”

Why not? Everyone asked this in their hearts.

Isn’t intelligence and hard work the two most important factors for people who train in martial arts?

The stranger said, “You must have a great heart before you can practice truly great martial arts.”

That warm glow once again appeared on his face. He continued, “Of course, this isn’t easy at all. As far as I know, out of all the martial arts experts in the world, only one person has been able to achieve this level.”

Naturally, everyone knew who he was referring to. Everyone’s heart suddenly began to beat faster.

Ye Kai’s heart beat the fastest.

The stranger said, “Aside from this principle, I have something else I wish to give you.”

Was he planning to give them whatever was inside the bundle? Lu Xiaojia suddenly realized that the bundle was moving. A look of shock appeared on his face.

The stranger was looking at him. He slowly said, “If you think this is strange, why don’t you open it up?”

Everyone was intrigued, but no one could guess what was inside.

“If you wish to practice truly great martial arts, first you must have a great heart.”

Of course this was not an easy thing. To reach such a level, one must often undergo some extremely painful experiences.

The bundle was opened. There was a person inside the bundle, a person whose left leg had been chopped off.

“Yi Dajing.”

Everyone nearly cried out in alarm. The person who was the most surprised, naturally was Yi Dajing himself.

It seemed as though he had just awakened from a bad dream, and then realized he was in a place more terrifying than a nightmare. He looked at Ye Kai, then looked at Fu Hongxue and Lu Xiaojia.

And then his face suddenly contorted, because he finally saw that stranger.

The stranger was looking at him as well. “Do you remember me?”

Yi Dajing nodded, appearing respectful and terrified.

The stranger said, “We met ten years ago. At that time, your leg hadn’t yet been chopped off.”

Yi Dajing forced out an apologetic smile. “But elder, your elegant bearing is just as it was before.”

The stranger said, “When was your leg chopped off?”

Yi Dajing said, “Half a month ago.”

The stranger said, “Who chopped it off?”

A look of pain appeared on Yi Dajing’s face. “That’s already bygones. Mentioning it will just stir up more trouble.”

The stranger said, “It seems as though you are very forgiving towards others.”

Yi Dajing said, “I try my best.”

The stranger said, “But it’s best if you learned to do something else first.”

Yi Dajing said, “What?”

The stranger said, “Telling the truth!”

A fiery light suddenly shone forth from his eyes. Fixing his gaze upon Yi Dajing’s face, he said, one word at a time, “You should know that the type of person I hate the most is liars.”

Yi Dajing lowered his head. “How would I dare to lie in front of you, elder? No one would dare.”

The stranger coldly said, “I know that it isn’t easy for you to tell the truth, because after you tell the truth, you might die. Naturally, you don’t want to die.”

Yi Dajing didn’t dare to respond.

The stranger said, “But you should also understand that there are some things in the world which are even more terrifying and painful than death.”

Cold sweat began to flow from Yi Dajing’s forehead.

The stranger said, “I brought you here today because I swore an oath many years ago that I would never be deceived by others ever again.”

His steely face revealed a look of pain, as though he were suddenly thinking of bygone events that caused him great anguish.

Yi Dajing no longer dared to even raise his head to look at him.

After a long time, the stranger slowly continued, “You imitated Li Tanhua’s handwriting style and asked me to come here to rendezvous with him. To tell you the truth, I knew right away that the writing wasn’t authentic. The only reason I came was to find out what sort of trap this was.”

Yi Dajing said, “Even in his youth, Li Tanhua’s was world-renowned. His handwriting was spread all throughout the world as well. There are many people who can imitating his handwriting. Elder, why are you so certain that I did it?”

The stranger said, “Because I found some samples in your room of you imitating his writing style.”

Even more cold sweat flowed from Yi Dajing’s forehead.

The stranger’s face sunk. “You should have heard of my conduct as a youth. Thus, you should believe that I still have methods to force you to tell the truth.”

Yi Dajing suddenly let out a long sigh. “Fine. I’ll talk.”

The stranger said, “How did you know about my whereabouts?”

Yi Dajing said, “Third master Ding told me.”

The stranger said, “Ding Lingzhong?”

Yi Dajing nodded.

The stranger said, “I know that he is a very intelligent young man. But he doesn’t know my whereabouts.”

Yi Dajing said, “But Daoist Qing knew that you were travelling in Jiangnan.”

The stranger said, “He knows Daoist Qing?”

Yi Dajing nodded again. “Since you came to Jiangnan to travel, you definitely would take this route.”

The stranger said, “Oh?”

Yi Dajing said, “Because the first time you met Li Tanhua, it was on this road.”

The stranger’s gaze suddenly became distant, as though he was once again remembering the past. But this time, his gaze was filled with nothing but warmth and joy, with no pain in it.

He had always believed that his meeting Li Xunhuan was the most fortunate event of his life.

Yi Dajing said, “Thus, I had someone wait for you in the pavilion. When you passed by, they passed the letter to you.”

The stranger said, “You thought that I would actually believe that Li Tanhua had someone deliver it to me.”

Yi Dajing said, “I knew that regardless of whether nor not you believed the letter to be real, you would come here nonetheless.”

The stranger lightly sighed. “When I look at you, I think of someone.”

Yi Dajing couldn’t resisting asking, “Who?”

The stranger said, “Long Xiaoyun.” [Li Xunhuan’s sworn brother]

Sighing, he continued, “Long Xiaoyun was just like you. He was a very careful thinker. Unfortunately…”

He didn’t continue speaking. He couldn’t bear to.

After a long time, he suddenly asked again, “When was your leg chopped off?”

Yi Dajing’s response shocked everyone. “Today.”

The stranger said, “Who chopped it off?”

Yi Dajing said, “Myself.”

This answer was even more shocking. The only people who appeared unmoved were Ye Kai and the stranger.

It seemed as though they had realized what happened long ago.

Yi Dajing said, “First, I found someone who looked like me, chopped his leg off, then dressed him up like myself and had him rest in my house.”

The stranger no longer questioned him. He knew that since Yi Dajing had begun to speak, he would finish the tale.

Yi Dajing said, “The room is very dark and dim, due to the very thick curtain on the window.

All sickrooms are like that.

Yi Dajing said, “Thus, even though friends came to see me, they wouldn’t suspect that someone else was lying on the bed. Since they wouldn’t want to disturb me too often, they wouldn’t suspect me either.”

Ding Linglin glanced at Ye Kai, secretly astonished. “Why is it that this bad man seems to know everything?”

Yi Dajing said, “At this time, I snuck out. First, I invited Xiao Dazi to come, then brought Fu Hongxue over. I knew that when Fu Hongxue kills people, he strikes very quickly.”

Fu Hongxue’s pallid face revealed a look of pain. He didn’t actually wish to be thought of by others as this sort of person.

Yi Dajing said, “I also knew that you, elder, deeply hate people like that, who kill others wantonly. I believed that you wouldn’t let him live.”

He let out a long sigh. “This plan originally was very thorough. One can even say that it was flawless. But I didn’t imagine that there would be a busybody such as Ye Kai in the world.”

Ding Linglin couldn’t resist saying, “If you thought this plan of yours was flawless, you should have faked a different illness. Otherwise, even if your plan succeeded, you would still have to chop off your leg.”

Yi Dajing stared at his leg. “I planned to chop this leg off long ago, regardless of whether the plan succeeded or not.”

Ding Linglin said, “Why?”

Yi Dajing slowly said, “Because even if this plan succeeded, I didn’t want anyone to suspect me.”

Ding Linglin sighed. “You have such a ruthless mind. You are ruthless towards yourself as well.”

Yi Dajing said, “But I didn’t use to be this sort of person.”

Ding Linglin said, “Oh?”

Yi Dajing said, “Perhaps I am a bit sly by nature, but I whole-hearted wanted to be a genuine gentleman. Although I am perhaps a bit hypocritical at times, I’ve done things in accordance with how a gentleman acts.”

You are defined by what you do. If you do things in accordance with how a gentleman acts, you are a gentleman.

On the other hand, even if you have a kind heart, if you do bad things, you will not be forgiven.

Ding Linglin sighed. “If you could have continued acting in such a way, no one would claim that you aren’t a gentleman. Only, you changed.”

A look of pain appeared on Yi Dajing’s face again. “Right. I changed. But I myself didn’t want to change.”

Ding Linglin said, “What, are you saying someone forced you to change?”

Yi Dajing did not reply, only appearing to be in even greater pain.

The stranger said, “Since you have already told the truth, you might as well reveal everything in your heart.”

Yi Dajing said, “I didn’t tell the truth because I was afraid that you would use vicious tactics against me.”

The stranger said, “Oh?”

Yi Dajing said, “Because I know that you aren’t a vicious, cruel person.”

He seemed to be worried that others would misconstrue this as flattery, and so he quickly continued, “I decided to tell the truth because I suddenly felt that I should reveal this matter.”

Everyone was listening.

Yi Dajing said, “Nineteen years ago, my assassination of Bai Tianyu truly was not honorable, nor was it open and upright. But if I were to return to that day of nineteen years past, I would do it all over again.”

These words he just said were identical to the words Xue Bin said.

Yi Dajing said, “Because Bai Tianyu had left me with no other options. Not only was he forcing me to join his Heavenly Sabre Clan, he also wanted me to ‘donate’ all my possessions to the clan, in exchange for his promise to make me world famous.

His face had already become distorted by pain. He continued, “But all I would ever be was his puppet. Even if I was world famous, what was the use of it all?”

The quiet was suddenly broken by the sound of rapid panting. It was Fu Hongxue’s panting.

Yi Dajing said, “Bai Tianyu wasn’t a base, despicable man, and he definitely was a hero. His talent was astonishing, he had a heroic, majestic appearance, and his skill in martial arts was high. He was definitely not at all inferior to the Shangguan Jinhong of the past.

Fu Hongxue’s panting became even stranger.

Yi Dajing said, “His actions weren’t as vicious and as cruel as that of Shangguan Jinhong. If someone was truly in distress, he definitely would boldly step out to save them. In order to save others, he would be willing to sacrifice everything.”

The stranger suddenly let out a long sigh. “If this was the case, perhaps it wasn’t necessary for your group to kill him yourselves.”

Yi Dajing sighed as well. “But he really was a man who was very hard to get along with. He never allowed anyone to go against his decisions. If he felt something was right, it was right.”

There weren’t too many people like this in the world, but there definitely were some.

Yi Dajing said, “He was arbitrary and peremptory, and once he started to do something, he would not care about success or failure, would not care about repercussions. This was his strength, but this was also his greatest flaw, because he was never willing to think about others.

Ding Linglin glanced at Ye Kai. She suddenly realized that Ye Kai looked very sorrowful as well.

Yi Dajing said, “Those who would be successful and perform great tasks should have this sort of resolution and courage. Thus, although I hate him, I also hold great respect for him.”

This was a very contradictory feeling, but it wasn’t difficult to understand.

Yi Dajing said, “I’ve never said that he is an evil man, and he did not do bad things. Many people definitely were well-treated by him. But those closest to him were the most miserable.”

He glumly sighed, then continued, “Because once one became close to him, they would find themselves under his total control and totally obey him. If they wanted to regain their freedom, he would kill them!”

The stranger said, “Can it be that his killers were all his friends?”

Yi Dajing said, “Most of them were.”

The stranger coldly said, “Perhaps he made many mistakes, but I think his greatest mistake was in his choice of friends.”

Fu Hongxue gazed at him. His eyes were suddenly filled with a grateful look.

The stranger spoke again. “He was peremptory, arrogant and arbitrary, but he still considered you to be his friends. He didn’t scheme to stab you in the back.”

Regardless of whether your friends are good or bad, so long as they are your friends, you can’t stab him in the back.

Yi Dajing shook his head. “I didn’t say that we acted properly. I only said that we had no other choice but to do what we did, at the time.”

The stranger said, “No choice but to do what you did?”

Yi Dajing said, “Yes.”

The stranger’s gaze turned distant again. Unhurriedly, he said, “When I was young, I also believed that there were many things which I had no choice but to do. Afterwards, I would slowly realize that there actually isn’t anything which one has no choice but to do. The only question lies in how you approach things in your heart.”

Fu Hongxue slowly lowered his head as well.

The stranger said, “So long as you can be patient for a time, many things which you might have felt had to be done no matter what may become things which you can’t even be bothered to do.”

His expression became all the more solemn. He continued, “There are two sides to every situation. From your perspective, perhaps you felt that you acted properly. That’s only because you didn’t consider things from the other perspective.”

Yi Dajing said, “But…”

The stranger interrupted him. “Your group killed Bai Tianyu because he wasn’t willing to show consideration for others, but in doing so, weren’t you all just like him?”

Yi Dajing glumly said, “Perhaps we really were wrong.”

The stranger said, “I’m not saying that you were necessarily wrong. Perhaps there is no one who can judge the truth of this matter and the right and wrong of it.”

Yi Dajing said, “Thus, I would rather sacrifice a leg, rather than see the hatred spread any further.”

He really did look very miserable. He continued, “That day, there were only seven or eight people who made it back alive from the Plum Blossom Convent. Over these past few years, I’m sure that they are just like me. Their lives must be very miserable!”

If someone lived in the midst of self-doubt and fear every single day, they really would be living in the midst of indescribable misery.

Yi Dajing said, “That day, there was a heavy snowfall. The ground was covered with silvery snow, but after that battle, the entire snowy ground was stained red with blood.”

His face had become distorted once more from pain and dread. He continued, “No one who had not witnessed it with their own eyes can possibly believe or understand that sight. I really do not want to let something like that happen again.”

Ye Kai suddenly said, “Why don’t you think, who caused that battle?”

Yi Dajing sadly said, “All I know is that the blood which dyed the snowy ground red did not belong solely to the Bai family. There was even more blood from others.”

Ye Kai said, “Thus, you believe that this chain of hatred should have died on that battleground as well.”

Yi Dajing said, “Although perhaps we did not do right by Bai Tianyu, the price we paid that day was enough.”

Ye Kai said, “The dead have definitely paid their dues, but what about the living?”

Yi Dajing no longer replied. He could not reply.

Ye Kai said, “I’m not saying that this cycle of hatred and vengeance must go on. But everything must be fair. If the living were to believe that the dead have paid the price on their behalf, then they are greatly mistaken.”

He continued, one word at a time, “The debt you owe must be repaid using your own blood. Something like this can never be repaid by others.”

Yi Dajing looked at Ye Kai. It was as though he saw Ye Kai for the first time…and perhaps, in the past, he really had not seen this person clearly.

Ye Kai always carried within his stable composure a hint of a strange carefree aura. No matter what dangers he faced, he would never reveal a hint of fear or alarm.

He definitely wasn’t born with this sort of composure. This sort of composure can only be slowly obtained after experiencing countless sufferings and miseries.

But no one ever knew his past histories. It was as though he had sprung out of a boulder like the Monkey King, suddenly appearing in the martial world. Ever since the day he appeared, he was like this.

This situation was almost identical to the appearance of Fu Hongxue. Fu Hongxue suddenly appeared out of nowhere as well.

Clearly, he too had appeared only after receiving very strict training.

His past history was a blank slate as well. No one knew where he had been, what he had done. His life experiences were extremely secretive because he came to the martial world with a very terrifying goal.

Then what about Ye Kai? Did Ye Kai, too, have some goal of his own? Was there some sort of strange connection between the two of them?

Yi Dajing was staring at Ye Kai. He had stared at him for a long time. He suddenly said, “Who, exactly, are you?”

Ye Kai said, “You should know who I am.”

Yi Dajing said, “Your surname is Ye, and your name is Kai?”

Ye Kai said, “Ye as in leaves [shu ye, tree leaves], Kai as in happy [kai xing, happy].”

Yi Dajing said, “You really are Ye Kai?”

Ye Kai chortled, then said, “Who do you think I am?”

Yi Dajing suddenly let out another sigh. “I don’t care who you are. I just hope you understand something.”

Ye Kai said, “I’m listening.”

Yi Dajing looked at his chopped off leg, then slowly said, “I didn’t actually want others to repay my debt. And I long ago paid for the mistakes I made. If you feel it isn’t enough, I’ll wait for you right here. You can kill me whenever you wish.”

Ye Kai flatly said, “You should have said these words to Fu Hongxue.”

Yi Dajing said, “It doesn’t matter who I say them to. I am speaking nothing but the truth right now.”

And then he closed his eyes, no longer saying anything.

The stranger looked at Ye Kai, then looked at Fu Hongxue. He suddenly said, “He really is telling the truth.”

No one could speak. No one could deny it.

The stranger’s gaze finally came to rest on Fu Hongxue. “I brought him here for the purpose of him telling the truth. Not for you to kill him.”

Fu Hongxue was listening. He seemed to be in far greater pain than Yi Dajing.

The stranger said, “He’s already exposed everything. No one is qualified to judge the rights and wrongs of this case.”

Was even Fu Hongxue himself unqualified to judge the merits of this case?

The stranger said, “But he truly does owe you a debt. If you feel he hasn’t paid enough yet, you can still kill him at any time. He already has lost all ability to resist.”