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Sentimental Swordsman, Ruthless Sword - Chapter 65

Chapter 65 - Manipulation

"Savior?" Ah Fei asked.

"Lu FengXian had been ... forcing me, torturing me. I wanted to die but I couldn't. If it weren't for him, I don't know what would've ..." Lin XianEr replied, as tears began streaming down her cheeks.

Ah Fei was startled.

Lin XianEr continued while sobbing, "I was hoping that you would repay his kindness for me, but now, now you're ..."

"To kill someone, that can also be a method of repayment." ShangGuan JinHong suddenly interrupted.

Lin XianEr turned around and said, "You ... you want him to kill for you?"

"Since he owes me a life, why not let him repay that debt with another life?" ShangGuan JinHong replied.

"But I'm the one you saved, not him." Lin XianEr said.

"Your debt is his debt, am I correct?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

Lin XianEr turned to face Ah Fei.

He gritted his teeth and replied, "I will repay her debt!"

"Do you owe debts to anyone?" ShangGuan JinHong asked.

"Never!" Ah Fei responded.

ShangGuan JinHong slightly grinned and said, "Whose life are you going to repay me with?"

"Except for one person, anyone you want." Ah Fei replied.

"Except for whom?" ShangGuan JinHong said.

"Li XunHuan!" Ah Fei said.

ShangGuan JinHong snickered and said, "You're afraid of him?"

Ah Fei's eyes filled with sadness as he replied, "I won't kill him, because I owe him even more."

ShangGuan JinHong started laughing and said, "Very well. If you weren't bound to your debt to him, you wouldn't honor your debt to me either."

"Who do you want me to kill?" Ah Fei asked.

ShangGuan JinHong slowly turned around and said, "Follow me."

The night drew near. Ah Fei wasn't holding on to Lin XianEr's hand because he felt a strange uneasiness inside his heart. He just couldn't make out what it was.

ShangGuan JinHong who was in front of him never turned around.

Yet somehow, Ah Fei felt as if he was under his careful gaze the entire time. And under this gaze, he felt an indescribable pressure bearing down on him.

The further they walked, the heavier that pressure felt.

Stars were beginning to dot the night sky. The open field was a vast emptiness. The winds had fallen silent.

Not a single sound could be heard. Even the insects that normally buzzed with activity in the autumn night were quiet.

It was as if the only sound in the whole world were that of their footsteps.

Ah Fei suddenly realized that his normally silent footsteps were making noise. In addition, they were in unison with the sound of ShangGuan JinHong's steps. One after the other, their steps melded into a peculiar rhythm.

A cricket that had leapt out from a dried thich patch of grass was seemingly frightened by the rhythm of their marching and leapt right back. Even the sound of their footsteps carried a killing aura.

What could be the cause of this?

Ah Fei never made a sound when he walked. But all of a sudden, why did his legs feel so heavy?

And what could be the cause of this?

Ah Fei looked downward and found out exactly why. Every single step he took was perfectly in between ShangGuan JinHong's every other step.

When he would take a step, and ShangGuan JinHong would take a second step. When he took a third step, ShangGuan JinHong would take a fourth step. Each and every step was precise and without err.

If he sped up his steps, ShangGuan JinHong would speed up as well. If he slowed down, ShangGuan JinHong would slow down as well.

From the beginning, it was ShangGuan JinHong who was coordinating with his every step.

But now, he suddenly realized that when ShangGuan JinHong increased his pace, his feet would involuntarily move faster. When ShangGuan JinHong decreased his pace, his own steps would slow down as well.

It was as if ShangGuan JinHong were controlling his feet, and he had no way of shaking free!

Ah Fei began to break out in cold sweat.

But for some reason, he felt that walking in this manner was quite soothing. He felt every ounce of muscle in his body being relaxed.

It was as if his mind and body were being hypnotized by this rhythm.

This rhythm was able to rattle a person's soul.

Lin XianEr was slowly becoming aware of this. Her beautiful eyes suddenly became alert and vigilant, emitting an apprehensive viciousness.

Ah Fei was hers.

Only she could control Ah Fei.

She would definitely not allow someone to snatch him right out of her grasp!

Jing WuMing was standing there. He was still standing exactly where his footsteps had stopped earlier.

The sun started to set. The night drew near. Stars began dotting the night sky ...

________________________________________

His body hadn't moved. His glance hadn't shifted either. But the shadow that ShangGuan JinHong had cast on the ground had forever vanished.

But now, ShangGuan JinHong's image suddenly reappeared.

Jing WuMing first saw the top of his bamboo hat, then his yellow robe, then his sword which shimmered under the reflection of the moonlight.

Then, Jing WuMing saw Ah Fei.

If anyone saw them from afar, they would immediately think the person with ShangGuan JinHong is Jing WuMing, because the rhythm in their steps was so unusual and unique.

Who would have thought that Ah Fei had taken Jing WuMing's place?

Jing WuMing's eyes appeared darker than ash. So dark that the moon and the stars themselves were blacked out. A darkness that absorbed the coming dawn into nothingness, lifelessness; such that even "death" had no meaning.

Absolute nothingness.

The expression on his face was even more empty than his eyes.

ShangGuan JinHong slowly walked over and stopped in front of him.

Ah Fei's footsteps stopped as well.

ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were focused into the distance. He didn't cast a single glance at Jing WuMing. He suddenly reached towards Jing WuMing's waist and pulled his sword out.

"You can no longer wield this sword." ShangGuan JinHong said coldly.

"Yes." Jing WuMing replied.

His voice was frightfully empty as well. Even he himself couldn't be certain that the words he heard came from his own mouth.

ShangGuan JinHong was still holding that blue steel sword between his fingers. He presented the handle to Jing WuMing and said, "This sword is for you."

Jing WuMing slowly reached over and took the sword.

"It makes no difference what kind of sword you use now." ShangGuan JinHong said slowly.

Even after walking over to him, he had yet to cast a single glance at Jing WuMing.

Ah Fei had followed over as well, and he didn't cast a single glance at Jing WuMing either.

Lin XianEr smiled playfully at him and said, "Is it even that difficult to die?"

A patch of clouds covered the stars in the sky.

Suddenly, the sound of thunder cracked the silence, and rain began to pour.

Jing WuMing still didn't move and he stood in the rain.

His whole body was soaked now. Beads of water gathered at the corners of his eyes. Was it rain? Or are they tears?

But how could Jing WuMing shed tears?

Those who never shed tears, normally only shed blood!

The sword. Paper thin and razor sharp.

The lamp light is extremely steady. Flashes of light from a sword. Blue flashes.

________________________________________

The window is tightly shut. The rain outside is intense. The air inside the house is calm.

Under the steady lamp light, Ah Fei was able to concentrate on the sword. His eyes hadn't moved for quite some time.

ShangGuan JinHong looked at him intently and asked, "What do you think about this sword?"

"Good, Very good." Ah Fei replied.

"Compared to the sword you used to wield?" ShangGUan JinHong asked.

"It feels lighter." Ah Fei said.

Suddenly, ShangGuan JinHong grabbed the sword with two fingers and bent the tip back onto the blade to form a circle. The blade emanated a deep *WUNG* sound.

The sound it made was like a dragon's roar.

Ah Fei's cold eyes suddenly warmed up.

ShangGuan JinHong asked again with a smile, "And in this regard how does it compare to the one you used to wield?"

"My old sword would have snapped if it was bent like that." Ah Fei responded.

Once ShangGUan JinHong let go with his fingers, the sword shot out.

A tea cup that was on the table was split in half as if it was decayed wood.

Ah Fei couldn't hold in his excitement and shouted out, "Excellent sword!"

"It certainly is a fine sword. Extremely light but not dull. Extremely thin but not brittle. The blade is resilient yet flexible. Although its appearance is crude and simple, it is actually the masterpiece of the number one swordsmith in the world, Master Gu. In addition, it was specially made to accomodate Jing WuMing's style." ShangGuan JinHong explained.

"This sword's conception is really similar to Jing WuMing's, isn't it?" ShangGuan JinHong added with a laugh.

"It is quite similiar." Ah Fei responded.

"Although his attacks are much more lethal and vicious, your attacks are much more precise and accurate. Because you are more patient than he is, perhaps this sword is better suited for you." ShangGuan JinHong said.

After a long pause, Ah Fei replied, "This is not my sword."

"Swords have no owners. Whoever is able, wields them." ShangGun JinHong said.

He brought the sword over and with a sinister gleam in his eye and said, "And now, this sword has become yours."

After another long pause, the same words came out of Ah Fei's mouth.

"This is not my sword."

"With this sword, any sword can be yours. Because with this sword, you could kill anyone." ShangGuan JinHong said.

Then he added with a smile, "You could even kill me."

This time, Ah Fei kept silent for a while.

"You are indebted to me. You have to kill for me. So I present you with a killing weapon. It is only fair." ShangGuan JinHong continued.

Ah Fei reached out and took the sword.

"Good! Very good! With this sword, your debt will be cleared by tomorrow!" ShangGuan JinHong said.

"Who do you want me to kill?" Ah Fei asked.

"Don't worry, I won't ask you to kill a friend ... " ShangGuan JinHong slowly replied.

Before his sentence was finished, ShangGuan JinHong walked out and shut the door behind him.

They could hear him speaking from the outside, "The two people in this room are my guests. Before tomorrow morning, make sure no one disturbs them."

Only Ah Fei and Lin XianEr were left in that room now.

Lin XianEr who was sitting down had not yet looked up.

ShangGuan JinHong who was in the room for quite some time had not glanced at her once.

The entire time she hadn't spoken either. Except for when Ah Fei was reaching out to take the sword, her mouth slightly moved as if she was wanted to say something, but quickly held it back in.

Now that only the two of them were in the room, she finally spoke, "You're really going to kill for him?"

"I owe him, and I've already given him my word." Ah Fei said with a sigh.

"Do you have any idea who he wants you to kill?" Lin XianEr asked.

"He didn't say." Ah Fei replied.

"You haven't guessed yet?" she asked.

"You've already figured out who it is?" he answered.

"If I'm not mistaken, the person who he wants you to kill is Long Xiao4Yun." she said slowly.

"Long Xiao4Yun? Why?" Ah Fei asked.

"Because Long Xiao4Yun plans on using him. But he only uses others." Lin XianEr said smiling.

"Long Xiao4Yun should have been killed a long time ago." Ah Fei said.

"But you mustn't make a move." she advised him.

"Why?" he asked.

She didn't answer but instead questioned, "Do you know why ShangGuan JinHong wants you to kill Long Xiao4Yun in his stead?"

"It is easier to have someone kill for you than it is to do so yourself." Ah Fei said.

"But if ShangGuan JinHong wants Long Xiao4Yun dead, it is but a mere formality to do so. Plus, the number of experts in the Gold Currency Union are as numerous as the clouds. Let alone one Long Xiao4Yun, even if it was a hundred or a thousand, it would still be easily taken care of by them. If ShangGuan JinHong didn't want to attack himself, all he has to do is to give the order to his minions." Lin XianEr explained.

"You know the real reason?" Ah Fei asked.

"I certainly do ... after two more days is the first of the month." she replied.

"What about the first of the month?" Ah Fei asked.

"Everyone in the Wulin community knows that at the first of the month, Long Xiao4Yun and ShangGuan JinHong are to become sworn brothers." she responded.

Ah Fei looked perplexed and asked, "Has ShangGuan JinHong's vision gone bad?"

"Of course he doesn't want to become sworn brothers with Long Xiao4Yun. But at the same time, he doesn't want to be known as someone who goes back on his word. His only solution is to have Long Xiao4Yun killed." she replied.

She smiled and added, "The dead can't become sworn brothers with those who are still living, right?"

Ah Fei didn't answer.

"But because the two have publicly agreed to become sworn brothers, ShangGuan JinHong can't lay a hand on him. He can't order his people to kill him either. That's why he has to use you." Lin XianEr said.

"To kill Long Xiao4Yun, you are more suitable than anyone else." she added with a grin.

"Why is that?" Ah Fei said.

"Because you are not tied with the Gold Currency Union in any way. And also because Li XunHuan is your friend. Long Xiao4Yun had betrayed Li XunHuan before, almost everyone knows that by now." she replied.

Lin XianEr took a deep breath and continued, "Therefore, if you killed Long Xiao4Yun, everyone will think that it is because you did it for Li XunHuan. No one would suspect that ShangGuan JinHong had any part in it."

"Even if it wasn't for anyone, I still wouldn't let this kind of person live any longer in this world." Ah Fei said coldly.

"However, once you kill Long Xiao4Yun, ShangGuan JinHong will kill you." Lin XianEr said.

Ah Fei fell silent.

"Not only would he kill you to silence you, he would kill you so others would think that he did it to avenge his sworn brother. So that others would praise his loyalty." she said.

Ah Fei's eyes shifted to the sword in his hand.

"ShangGuan JinHong's martial arts are unfathomably deep and profound, you're ... you're not thinking of ..." Lin XianEr said.

Before finishing that sentence, she threw herself into his chest and softly whispered, "Since he is not here, lets take this chance to escape."

"Escape?" Ah Fei said.

"I understand that you never run from anything, but just this once, can you make an exception for me?" she asked.

"No." Ah Fei replied.

"Not even for me?" Lin XianEr's voice became incredibly tender and tears started flowing from her eyes.

She had unleashed her deadliest weapon.

Ah Fei didn't look at her but appeared to be gazing off into the distance. He slowly answered, "It is because of you, that I can do no such thing."

"Why?" she asked.

"For your sake, I refuse to be a coward who goes back on his word." he replied.

"But ... but ..." she said.

Lin XianEr curled up into his chest and started weeping.

"I care not whether you are a coward or a hero. The person I love is you, and I only want you to be alive and by my side."

Ah Fei's resolute expression suddenly melted away again. He said to her softly, "Aren't I by your side right now?"

Lin XianEr still crying, replied, "Sometimes I just don't understand what you're thinking inside."

"My beliefs are very simple, that's why they will never change." he replied.

The simpler they are, the less they will ever change.

Lin XianEr looked up at him with tears in her eyes and asked, "Your beliefs will always remain the same?"

"Always!"

His replies are very simple as well.

Lin XianEr stood up and slowly made her way to the window. Not a sound could be heard from the outside. Not even the buzzing of insects of the cries of birds could be heard. Any kind of living thing that came to this place would suddenly feel that life was extremely worthless.

The only certainty in this place was the feeling of "death". Whether you were sitting or standing. Whether you were inside or outside. You could always sense its foreboding presence.

After some time, Lin XianEr sighed and said, "I suddenly realized that the relationship between you and Li XunHuan is very much like that of ShangGuan JinHong and Jing WuMing."

"Hmm?" Ah Fei said.

"The only reason Jing WuMing is alive is to do ShangGuan JinHong's bidding. So obviously, ShangGuan JinHong treats him very well, that is until now ..."

There was a bitter smile on her lips as she continued, "Now, Jing WuMing is no longer of any use to him, so ShangGuan JinHong chased him out like a wild dog. I bet he never even dreamed that things would end like this."

"He should have realized this long ago." Ah Fei said.

"If he knew that this would happen long ago, would he still do the same thing?" Lin XianEr asked.

"He would, because he doesn't have a choice." Ah Fei replied.

"And what about you?" she asked.

Ah Fei fell silent again.

"Li XunHuan is kind to you because you are the only person in this world who can aid him. Besides you, he is completely alone. But when you are no longer of any use to him, will he do as ShangGuan JinHong did to Jing WuMing?" Lin XianEr said.

After another long pause, Ah Fei suddenly said, "Turn your head around."

He said this very slowly, but it was very stern and resolute.

He had never spoken to Lin XianEr like this before.

Lin XianEr whose hand was by the window sill suddenly held on tightly and asked, "Turn my head around? What for?"

"Because I want to make two things clear to you." Ah Fei said.

"I can hear perfectly fine from here." she said.

"Because I want you to look at me. There are some words which you not only have to listen with your ears but also with your eyes. Otherwise, you will never understand their meaning." he said.

She held on to the window sill even tighter before finally turning her head around.

After she saw the look in Ah Fei's eyes, Lin XianEr understood what he meant.

His eyes had suddenly become exactly like ShangGuan JinHong's.

When a person's eyes looked like this, it meant that no matter what that person was saying, you had better listen and not disobey.

Otherwise you would definitely regret it!

At that moment, Lin XianEr realized that she had been wrong.

She had thought that Ah Fei was completely under her control, that he would obey her every wish. Only now did she realize just how wrong she was.

Ah Fei was obviously in love with her. Very much in love.

But in a man's life, there are things which are much more important than "love", even much more important than life itself.

Ah Fei had always listened to everything she said, because she had never brought this up before.

She could ask him to die for her, but she still couldn't ignore the matter at hand.

"What did you want to talk to me about? I'm listening?" Lin XianEr said smilingly.

Even though her smile looked as sweet as ever, it seemed rather forced.

"I want you to understand, that Li XunHuan is my friend. And I won't allow anyone to insult him ... ANYONE!" Ah Fei said.

Lin XianEr lowered her head. "And ... "

"What you said before ... not only have you underestimated me, but you've underestimated Jing WuMing as well." Ah Fei said.

"Him?" Lin XianEr asked with a surprised look.

"He left because he wanted to leave. Not because someone chased him away." Ah Fei replied.

"Except, I don't understand ..." she said.

"You don't need to understand. You just need to remember that." Ah Fei said.

"I'll remember your every word. I just hope that you don't forget, that you once said ... that the way you feel about me will never change." Lin XianEr said quietly as she lowered her head.

Ah Fei stared into her eyes. He kept staring and staring.

Even if his heart really was like a mountain of ice, that mountain was rapidly melting.

Ah Fei started walking slowly towards Lin XianEr. Her body seemed to emit some kind of force that pulled him closer and closer. Ah Fei felt like he couldn't control himself.

Lin XianEr dodged to avoid his grasp and pretended to be apprehensive, and said, "Not today ..."

Suddenly Ah Fei's body became stiff.

Lin XianEr giggled and said, "Today you have to get a lot of rest, hurry to bed. I will look over you by your side."

________________________________________

ShangGuan JinHong is standing still. His eyes are focused on the door. He is waiting.

What is he waiting for?

The guards outside the door had already withdrew because ShangGuan JinHong had given the order, "Someone is going to come today, I don't want anyone to disturb them."

Who is he expecting to come?

Why is ShangGuan JinHong that concerned with this person?

ShangGuan JinHong has a objective in everything he does. What is his objective this time?

________________________________________

Late into night. Even quiter still.

Ah Fei eyes were closed. His breathing was even. He looked like he was deep asleep.

In actuality, he is wide awake. He has never been so awake before in his life.

He rarely had trouble falling asleep. Because if he wasn't completely exhausted, he would never try to sleep. But on those days that he was, once his head touched the pillow, he would immediately fall asleep.

But now, he wasn't sleeping.

Lin XianEr had fallen asleep beside him and was breathing very evenly as well.

Ah Fei only had to turn sideways and he could embrace her warm, soft body.

But Ah Fei tried his best to resist his urges. He didn't even look at her. He was afraid that once he saw her, his willpower would collapse.

Lin XianEr had always trusted him completely, how could he do anything to her?

He could still smell the sweet fragrance of her breath. He had to use all his concentration and focus just to control himself.

It was definitely not a nice plight to have to endure.

Desire is like a wave in the ocean. One second it is quiet and still, another second it comes rolling towards you again with all its might.

He continued resisting that desire. He started to resemble a fish caught in a frying pan.

How could he fall asleep?

Lin XianEr's breathing seemed to get heavier. Yet her eyes began to slowly open.

Those radiant eyes of hers in the darkness slowly started to focus on Ah Fei.

His disheveled hair was spread all across his forehead. He looked like a sleeping child.

Lin XianEr suddenly noticed that his eyelashes were very long. She wanted to reach out and lightly stroke them.

In that single instant, if she really did reach her hand out, Ah Fei would forever be hers. He would willingly abandon everything just for her.

In that single instant, her glance was soft,gentle, and kind. But that short instant quickly passed. She had retracted her hand. Her soft and gentle gaze had turned ice cold.

She whispered, "Little Fei are you asleep yet?"

Ah Fei didn't respond. He didn't open his eyes either.

He didn't dare to.

He was afraid that he would ...

Lin XianEr waited for some time. Then suddenly she slipped herself out of the bed and picked up her shoes.

With her shoes in hand, she quietly opened the door and snuck out.

This late at night, where could she be off to?

Ah Fei suddenly felt as if his heart had been pricked by a needle.

"What you don't know won't bother you. It is actually better for us that certain things in life we never find out."

Ah Fei understood this very well. Reality is always brutal, and painful.

However, he could no longer control himself.

________________________________________

The door opened.

A smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face.

He looks even more intimidating when he's smiling than when he's not.

Lin XianEr lifted up the door, and stood on top. Her eyes were pointed at ShangGuan JinHong. *PU*, the shoes in her hand flopped to the floor.

She let out a long sigh and said, "You already knew that I would come, didn't you?"

"Yes." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

Lin XianEr bit her lip and said, "I don't even know why I came for."

"I know why." ShangGuan JinHong said.

"You know why?" Lin XianEr asked.

"You came because you've realized that Ah Fei is not as reliable as you had thought. If you want to live, the only person that you can rely on is me." ShangGuan JinHong replied.

"And I ... I can rely on you?" she said.

"You have to ask yourself that." ShangGuan JinHong said with a laugh.

There are no completely reliable men in this world.

A man is as reliable to the extent of just how well a woman treats him.

Lin XianEr obviously understands this.

She laughed and replied, "You will definitely be reliable then, because I will never disappoint you."

She started laughing with her eyes.

Then, her hands, her waist, her thighs ...

She seemed to have made up her mind. No matter what the method, she would have this man.

In the quickest instant, she used her most effective weapon.

In the eyes of men, there is nothing more captivating than a woman in her bare skin. And this wasn't any woman, it was Lin XianEr.

The strange thing was, ShangGuan JinHong's eyes were still focused on the door.

It seemed that the door panel was much more attractive to him than she was.

Lin XianEr stopped panting for a second and said, "Hold me, I ... I almost can't move anymore."

ShangGuan JinHong picked her up in his arms, but his eyes were still focused on the door.

With a *PENG*, the door suddenly burst open!

A person barged into the room, like a ball of fire.

Blazing fire!

Ah Fei!

No one knew the anger he felt right now, nor could anyone imagine.

A smile flashed across ShangGuan JinHong's face.

Had he already predicted that Ah Fei would come?

Ah Fei didn't even see him.

He didn't see anyone at all, the only thing he saw before him was a nightmare.

His entire body began to tremble.

Lin XianEr didn't even blink. She was still hanging onto ShangGuan JinHong's neck.

"The people who come here, don't they even knock?" she said coldly.

Ah Fei suddenly made a fist, and struck at the door.

An iron door!

Blood started to drip from Ah Fei's fist, pain shot through his body and his lips turned pale.

But what kind of pain in this world could compare to the pain he felt inside his heart?

Lin XianEr laughed and said, "So it turns out this person is crazy."

Ah Fei finally erupted and roared, "So you really are this kind of woman."

Lin XianEr answered casually, "You didn't realize? I've always been this kind of woman. I haven't changed at all. You never realized it before because you're too stupid."

She laughed coldly and continued, "If you were a little smarter, you would've known not to come."

"I'm already here." Ah Fei replied.

"What good is it that you've come? So you can scold me? What relation do I have with you? That you think you can mind my business? That whatever I do, you have to watch over me." she asked mockingly.

Tears seemed to be forming in Ah Fei's eyes, but those tears suddenly turned to ice.

His eyes have turned deathly pale.

A hopelessly and deathly pale color. The same color as the eyes of Jing WuMing.

At that moment he seemed to have wept his last bloody tear. In that instant life itself had seemed to end.

He was starting to turn into a dead person.

"I shouldn't have come, I really shouldn't have come ..."

If he knew he shouldn't have, then why didn he come for?

People always tend to do the things that hurt themselves when they know that they shouldn't.