Sentimental Swordsman, Ruthless Sword - Chapter 43
Chapter 43: Life and Death
Li XunHuan carved on the wood. The girl in the red dress kept staring at him. Suddenly, she asked, “What are you carving?”
Li XunHuan said with a smile, “You can’t tell?”
The little girl said, “It looks like a carving of a person, but why won’t you finish the carving each time? If you did, then I would be able to see how pretty this person is.”
Li XunHuan’s smile disappeared, and began to cough.
He doesn’t want anyone to know whom he was carving, so he never finished any of them. Although he could try carving something else, his hand never obeyed. Even if he started off carving something else, it would eventually become her.
Because he just can’t forget her.
It’s getting dark.
Li XunHuan slowly raised his hand, the dagger in his hand sparkled, but the sparkles kept moving.
“Is my hand shaking?”
Li XunHuan’s heart sank, because he dreaded this day, the day when his hand would shake even when he had not drunk. How could this hand release his deadly dagger?
He gripped the dagger tighter, so tightly his fingers turned white.
He then slowly loosened his grip, and looked out the window. He asked, “What day is today?”
The little girl said, “It’s the thirtieth of the ninth month. Tomorrow would be the first.”
Li XunHuan closed his eyes, and asked, “Where’s Mr. Guo?”
The little girl said, “He said he would take a stroll in the streets.”
Li XunHuan looked at the tip of his dagger, suddenly he struck it down onto the carving.
He carved very fast, and the wood almost turned into a human carving, those big eyes, that straight nose, still looked so young.
But what about the person? The person’s already old.
When a person lived in the midst of sadness, she tends to age very fast.
Li XunHuan stared aimlessly at this carving, not wanting to look away, because he knew that he would never see her again.
Suddenly a voice said, “This person’s carving is so pretty. Who is she? Your lover?”
The little girl came back to him. She carried a basket in her hand.
Li XunHuan forced a smile and said, “I don’t know who she is either. Perhaps she’s just a goddess in Heaven…”
The little girl blinked her eyes and shook her head. She said, “You’re lying. The goddesses in Heaven are all happy, but she looks so sad…”
Li XunHuan said, “If there are happy people here on Earth, why can’t there be sad goddesses in Heaven?”
The little girl said, “Yet you’re not happy at all, because you love her, yet can’t have her, right?”
Li XunHuan’s complexion changed, his heart sank.
The little girl said, “You can tell me what happened. I already know that I am right upon seeing your reaction.”
Li XunHuan said, “It’s an old, old story.”
The little girl said, “If it happened so long ago, why can’t you still not forget her?”
Li XunHuan thought for a long time before answering, “Once you get to my age, you’ll realize that the person you want to forget the most, is the person you can never forget…”
The little girl nodded, tried to absorb what Li XunHuan had just said, and then began drifting into her own thoughts. She even forgot to put down the basket.
After a long time, she sighed deeply, and said, “Everyone else said that you’re cold, ruthless, yet you’re not like that at all.”
Li XunHuan said, “What kind of a person do you think I am?”
The little girl said, “I think you worry too much, care too much, basically a romantic. If you really fell in love with a woman, then that woman must be very lucky.”
Li XunHuan said, “Maybe it’s because I haven’t been drinking. Once I start to drink, I’d fall into a stupor.”
The little girl said with a smile, “Then I should really drink wine, because being in a stupor seems like a good idea. At least then I’ll have no more worries.”
As she said this, she took out a wine bottle from the basket, and drank half the bottle.
Young people tended to drink very fast, because drinking takes a bit of courage.
The little girl’s face became flushed as a peach. Suddenly, she stared at Li XunHuan and asked, “I know your name is Li XunHuan, but do you know my name?”
Li XunHuan said, “How could I know if you’ve never told me?”
The little girl said, “Why should I tell you if you never asked me?”
She bit her lips, and continued, “In addition, you also never asked me what kind of a person I am, why I am here, where’s everyone else. You didn’t ask anything. Is it because since you know you’re about to die, you stopped caring for everything else?”
Li XunHuan said, “You’re drunk. When a little girl becomes drunk, she should go to sleep.”
The little girl said, “You don’t want to hear? Then I’ll force you to listen. I have no father, no mother, so I don’t even know my own name. Five years ago, my lady bought me, which is why my surname is now Lin. My lady likes to call me LingLing*, so my name became Lin LingLing…”
*Note: ‘Ling’ means ‘bell’.
She laughed a bit, and continued, “Don’t you think that this is such a great name, Lin LingLing? Just like a doorbell, when someone shakes it, it will start to ring. When nobody rings the bell, then it just stays silent, doing nothing.”
Li XunHuan sighed, because he realized that this little girl also had a sad past, and wasn’t nearly as happy as she looked.
Why can’t I ever meet a truly happy person?
LingLing said, “Do you know why I stayed here? It really doesn’t matter even if you know. My lady asked me to stay so I can take care of you, to keep giving you wine, to let your hand shake. She says that once your hand starts shaking, you’ll soon die.”
She stared at Li XunHuan, as if waiting for him to get mad.
But Li XunHuan simply smiled, and said, “Ten years ago, people had begun to say that I would soon die, yet I still lived till today. Pretty strange, don’t you think?”
LingLing said, “I just told you that I had been hurting you, yet why aren’t you mad at me?”
He sighed deeply and said, “Everyone in this world is someone else’s bell at one time or the other. You are someone else’s bell, why can’t I be one too? That person ringing the bell might also be a bell for yet another person.”
LingLing said, “Now I finally know that you’re really a kind person. Why would my lady want to kill you?”
Li XunHuan smiled and said, “People who want other people to die would sooner or later die themselves.”
LingLing said, “But when some people die, everyone becomes happy. While when others die, everyone would be sad…”
She looked at the floor and added, “If you die, I’ll likely shed tears for you.”
Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Because we’re already friends… at least we’ve known each other for a few days now.”
LingLing shook her head and said, “That doesn’t mean anything. I’ve known that Mr. Guo for much longer than you. But if he dies, I would not shed a single tear for him.”
She smiled, and added, “Because if I die, he would not waste a tear on me either.”
Li XunHuan said, “Do you think that he’s heartless?”
LingLing said, “Of course not. Some people might look cruel on the outside, but are quite sentimental on the inside. When a person tends keeps his feelings to himself, then the compassion he does show are much more genuine.”
Li XunHuan had been deeply in his thoughts during this time, so deeply that he didn’t notice Guo SongYang standing by the door… He really is someone who doesn’t show his emotions much.
He still stood there quietly, not a single expression on his face.
The sun rose very early today.
Li XunHuan rose even earlier. He did not sleep much last night.
Before dawn, he had already taken a bath, and then put on the new clothes he bought at the town earlier.
He’s neither too fat nor too skinny, so although the robe wasn’t nicely tailored, it still fit him perfectly.
Now, faced with the bright sky, he felt very energized.
Because today’s a special day.
By tonight, he could very well be dead. But since he had lived a clean life, he felt that he should die a clean death.
The chance of him winning today is very slim, which meant that he’s most likely to die. But as long as there’s a chance, he would not give up!
He’s not afraid of death, but doesn’t want to die in a pair of dirty hands.
He tied his hair with a green strip, about to shave.
Suddenly a voice said, “How can you go to an appointment with such disorganized hair? Here, let me brush it for you.”
He wasn’t sure when LingLing had entered the room. Her eyes are red, as if she didn’t sleep much last night, or perhaps because she had secretly cried.”
Li XunHuan smiled and nodded.
Suddenly, a memory of the past appeared in his head.
That day was more than ten years ago, the weather was just like today’s, the chrysanthemum bloomed outside the window. He sat in his room, while a person brushed his hair.
Even now, he still remembered those soft and gentle pair of hands.
He had planned to go on a long trip that day, which was why she brushed very slowly.
As she brushed slowly, she wanted to keep him from going, even for at least for the moment. When she finally finished, a tear fell on his hair.
It was on this trip where he met some powerful enemies, and almost lost his life. Thankfully, Long Xiao4Yun saved him. This was something else he never forgot.
But he forgot that although Long Xiao4Yun saved him at that moment, he ruined the rest of Li XunHuan’s life…
Why would some people only remember the kindness of others?
Li XunHuan closed his eyes, and said with a bitter smile, “At least I made it back after that trip. Can I come back alive today? Would it have been better had I not returned that day?”
He doesn’t want to keep thinking about it, and opened his eyes again. Suddenly, he felt that the hands brushing his hair right now are also soft and gentle.
He turned around, only to see a tear dropping down LingLing’s eyes, finally landing on his hair.
The same gentle hands, the same shiny tear.
Li XunHuan felt as if it’s that day again, suddenly he grabbed her hands, and said softly, “You’re crying?”
LingLing’s face turned red, and quick looked away upon meeting his gaze. She bit her teeth and said, “I know your appointment is today, which is why you’re all dressed up, right?”
Li XunHuan did not respond, because he realized that these are not the same pair of hands that touched him years ago. The past can never come back.
LingLing continued, “Since you’re going to meet your beautiful lady friend, of course I’m sad.”
Li XunHuan put down her hands and forced a smile. He said, “You’re still a kid. You still don’t know what it is to be sad.”
LingLing said, “I might not have known before, but I do now. I might not have known yesterday, but I do know today.”
Li XunHuan said with a smile, “Do you think you’ve grown up in one day?”
LingLing said, “Of course. Some people’s hairs can all turn white in one day, haven’t you heard this?’
Li XunHuan said, “That’s because they’re too worried about their life and death. What about you?”
LingLing lowered her head and said, “It’s because of you… Once you leave today, would you ever come back?”
Li XunHuan thought for a while, and sighed deeply, “You already know whom I’m meeting today?”
LingLing slowly nodded, then tied his hair together with that green strip, and said, “I know you’re going no matter what. I know that I can’t keep you.”
Li XunHuan said gently, “You’ll know my reasons once you grow up. Sometimes, you have no choice in certain matters.”
He remained silent for a long time, as agony appeared on his face. Finally, he said, “I didn’t stay because of her… I’ve never done anything for her, I…”
He then quickly stood up, and said, “It’s getting late. I should go…”
Before he could finish the sentence, Guo SongYang had entered the room. He interrupted loudly, “How could you leave just when I’m coming in?”
He’s holding a bottle of wine, the odor of alcohol on his body entered the room even before he did.
Li XunHuan said, “It looks like brother Guo had been drinking last night. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Guo SongYang laughed, and said, “Sometimes it’s best to just drink in pairs, one more would be too many.”
He suddenly lowered his voice, put his hands on Li XunHuan’s shoulders, and said, “You know what I like to do when I’m in a bad mood, right?”
Li XunHuan smiled slyly, and said, “So that’s what you were…”
Just as he spoke, Guo SongYang’s hands sealed seven of his pressure points with lightning quick speed.
Li XunHuan fell down.
LingLing screamed, and hurriedly picked up Li XunHuan. She asked, “What are you doing?”
At this moment, Guo SongYang suddenly looked awake again. His face became cold and distant. Guo SongYang said, “When he wakes up, tell him that it’s not often a man gets to duel with ShanGuan JinHong. I don’t want to pass up this opportunity!”
LingLing said, “You… you’re going with him?”
Guo SongYang said, “I know he won’t let me go with him, and I don’t want him to go with me either.”
Tears came down LingLing’s eyes. She said, “He’s right. You really are a good person.”
Guo SongYang said, “Both in life and death, I would never want anyone to cry for me. It only disgusts me to see a woman’s tears. Save yours for someone else!”
He quickly turned around and walked out.
Although Li XunHuan couldn’t move or speak, he still could feel his surroundings. As he saw Guo SongYang walk out, tears came down his eyes.
Li XunHuan closed his eyes, his heart ached terribly. He suddenly realized that some relationships are just hard to explain.
He had done many things for many people. Some of them had since ignored him, some forgot about him, some even betrayed him.
But he had never done anything for Guo SongYang, yet Guo SongYang was willing to die for him.
This is true friendship.
This type of friendship could not be bought, or exchanged. Perhaps it’s because of this friendship that people can exist in this world.
The light from the window became dimmer.
LingLing locked the door, shut the window, and then sat by Li XunHuan’s side. She looked at him silently.
What time is it now?
Had Guo SongYang started battling ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing yet?
He’s in the battle for his life, yet I could only calmly lie here, doing nothing.
When he thought about this, Li XunHuan’s heart began to break apart.
Suddenly, he heard footsteps outside.
Then, he heard knocks from the front door, “Bang, Bang Bang!”
LingLing tensed up.
Is Guo SongYang already dead? Are they looking for Li XunHuan now?
Bang, Bang Bang!
This time, the knocks got louder.
Cold sweat poured down LingLing’s face. She quickly picked up Li XunHuan, and looked around for a place to hide him.
The knocks continued, louder and louder each time. If she doesn’t go get the door right away, those people might just knock down the door.
LingLing bit her lips and yelled, “I’m coming, what’s the hurry? You have to at least wait until I put on my clothes!”
As she spoke, she kicked open the closet door, and put Li XunHuan inside. Then she covered him with some clothing.
Although Li XunHuan doesn’t like to hide, he has no choice in this matter.
Only to see LingLing stared at the mirror on the table, organized her hair and wiped the sweat off her head.
Then she quickly shut the closet door, and put a lock over it.
She said to herself, “I finally get a chance to get in an afternoon nap, and someone knocks on the door. Why do I always get such luck?”
Then Li XunHuan heard the door open.
The door opened, and all sounds stopped. LingLing must’ve looked shocked, for she had never met the two people standing outside.
They’re not ShangGuan JinHong and Jin WuMing!
The visitors did not speak. After a moment, he heard LingLing ask, “Who are you looking for? Or do you just want a place to sleep?”
The visitors still did not speak.
Only to hear a loud thud, as if LingLing was pushed against the door, then two pairs of footsteps could be heard walked in.