Sentimental Swordsman, Ruthless Sword - Chapter 78
Chapter 78 - A Horrific Battle
Li XunHuan wondered why Wang LianHua had decided to burn the manual containing his entire life's work.
Mr. Sun explained, "Because not only did it contain his martial arts theories, it also contained his art of using poisons, appearance-changing disguise methods, insect summoning and hoarding methods from the Miao tribes, and soul-possessing hypnosis techniques from Persia ..."
He sighed and continued, "If such a book were to fall into the wrong hands, the consequences would be dire."
"Yes it really would be catastrophic." Li XunHuan said.
"But this book was the blood and sweat of his entire life's work, he just couldn't bear to destroy it. So before he left to retire from the world, he entrusted the book to someone who he knew he could definitely rely on." Mr. Sun said.
After hearing this, Li XunHuan slowly pieced the story together in his mind and concluded that the martial arts manual hidden within Happy Cloud Manor must be the 'LianHua Compendium'.
But there were still a few things he couldn't understand, such as, who did Wang LianHua entrust this manual to?
"He entrusted it to you!" Mr. Sun said.
A look of shock came over Li XunHuan's face as he exclaimed, "Me?"
Mr. Sun laughed and said, "Beside Li TanHua, who else in the world is more qualified to give this manual to?"
Mr. Sun continued, "When he entrusted you with the 'LianHua Compendium', not only did he want you to protect it for him, he also wanted you to find an incredibly gifted and kind-hearted disciple to whom to give it to, so that his legacy could live on."
"But I do not know about this at all." Li XunHuan said.
"Because at that time you had already decided to leave." Mr. Sun said.
"Twelve years ago ... right. That time I had to make a trip to the border regions, and returned with severe injuries. If it weren't for Long Xiao4Yun who had saved my life, I would've ..." Li XunHuan said.
At that point, he suddenly felt like there was something in his throat and he couldn't say another word.
This was one of the things in his life that he would never forget.
It was because of that event that his entire life had changed ... from happiness to misery!
"Although Wang LianHua didn't see you, he was able to meet with Ms. Lin. Because he was in a rush to leave, he couldn't wait any longer and had to leave the 'LianHua Compendium' with her." Mr. Sun explained.
No one understood the relationships between men and women better than Wang LianHua. He was able to recognize that Lin ShiYin and Li XunHuan were more than just acquaintances.
But how come Lin ShiYin had never brought this incident to his attention before?
"Where did elder hear this story from, is the source reliable?" Li XunHuan asked.
"Definitely reliable." Mr. Sun said.
Sun XiaoHong couldn't help but blurt out, "We heard this from second uncle himself. When old master Wang visited Happy Cloud Manor to see Ms. Lin, my second uncle was waiting right outside."
She sighed and continued, "Since that day forth, my second uncle has never set a single foot outside that place!"
"Was he instructed by Wang LianHua to keep an eye on me?" Li XunHuan asked.
"Since master Wang was willing to entrust this heavy responsibility with you, of course he wouldn't have doubts about you. But he was not entirely confident in your martial arts at the time, he was afraid that once word leaked out, there would be many people who would try to come steal the manual. That's why he instructed my second brother to stay there just in case you were in need of help." Mr. Sun said.
"During the time when my second uncle wandered the realm, he had once been saved by old master Wang. My uncle had always been a person who showed gratitude so when old master Wang asked this favor of him, he was much more than willing to help." Sun XiaoHong said.
"But afterwards, he had discovered that Ms. Lin had never given you the manual. And since you had left for the border regions, he became increasingly worried and never dared leave that place." Mr. Sun added.
"Second Hero Sun is really a man of his word. He treats favors asked by others as if they were his own business and concern. Except ..." Li XunHuan said.
"How would Second Hero Sun know that Ms. Lin had never given me the 'LianHua Compendium'? Even I had no idea of such a thing." he added.
Mr. Sun took another puff from his pipe and replied, "If even you didn't know, then how would I know?"
Li XunHuan had nothing more to say.
He never thought that Lin ShiYin would hide something like this from him.
"Not only was Wang LianHua able to kill a person, he had ways to save a person as well. The medical and healing methods of his were sublime. One could say that he was able to bring the dead to life and put meat on bones." Mr. Sun said.
"Long Xiao3Yun is Lin ShiYin's only son, a mother will do anything for her son, that's why I'm afraid that she ..." Sun XiaoHong said.
She didn't continue on.
Li XunHuan understood what she was trying to say ... anyone would've understood what she was trying to say.
Lin ShiYin must have given this 'LianHua Compendium' to her son, she must have kept its existence a secret for an extremely long time.
But why hadn't she ever told him about this?
The first time that Li XunHuan saw her, she was just a child.
It was snowing that day.
The plum blossoms in the courtyard had just bloomed, the snow underneath the plum tree was particularly pure and white.
At the time Li XunHuan was under the plum tree building a snowman. He was searching around for the blackest, brightest lumps of coal that he was preparing to use for the snowman's eyes.
This was one of the happiest times of his life.
It wasn't that he loved making snowmen, he only built snow men to enjoy the moment when he could lay in its eyes. That fat clumsy pile of snow would suddenly turn into something that had some semblance of life. And he would just feel an indescribable satisfaction and happiness from it.
He had always loved to create, and had always hated destruction.
He had always been passionate about life.
And he would always secretly knock down the snow man because he was afraid that another person would steal this happiness from him. But he didn't understand back then that certain kinds of happiness can't be taken away by other people.
Later on he would understand that happiness was like a treasure vase, the more that you gave to others, the more that you would have yourself.
Suffering was the same.
If you want others to share in your pain, your suffering would just increase.
The snow man's face was round.
He was contemplating where to put its eyes. His extremely sick mother who rarely left her bed suddenly walked into the courtyard with a young child clothed in a red robe at her side.
It was a scarlet red, brighter than the reddest plum blossoms.
But the child's face was pale, paler than the white snow.
Red and white were always his favorite colors. White represented purity, while red represented passion.
The first time that he saw her, he felt an unspeakable compassion and pity towards her. He felt like he just had to go over and grab her hand lest she be blown away by the wind.
"This is your aunt's daughter. Your aunt had to leave for a faraway place, so from now on she will be staying with us." his mother told him.
"You always wanted a sister, now I've found one for you. You must always be good to her and never let her be upset."
But it was as if he didn't hear what his mother said at all.
Because that little girl had already run to his side and stared at the snow man that he was making.
"Why doesn't he have eyes?" she asked.
"Would you like to put on his eyes?" he asked.
She nodded her head.
He gave the two dark pieces of coal to her.
It was the first time that he shared his happiness with another person.
From that time forward, he would always share everything that he had with her. Even when other people would give him cookies, he would always keep them in his pockets. When he finally saw her he would break the piece in half to share with her.
Just as long as he could see that look of joy in her eyes, he felt that the happiness he experienced could not be replaced by anything else in the world.
He was willing to share his own life with her.
She felt the same way. He knew it. He believed it so.
Even during the times when they were apart, he always felt deep down inside that he was the only one who could share sadness, happiness, secrets, and everything with her.
He believed it so, that is until now ...
A narrow alley, snow had accumulated from the day before.
The snow had begun to melt, the ground was muddy and wet. There was a dry path along the wall but Li XunHuan purposely walked in the muddy snow. He enjoyed the soft, comforting feeling of his feet sloshing in the mud.
For some reason it calmed his mood.
In the past he had always hated mud, he would have rather walked around in a big circle than walk on a muddy path.
But now he suddenly realized that mud could have its endearing aspects as well. It quietly endured your trampling while at the same time softly enveloping your feet in its protective grasp.
Weren't there some people in this world who were like mud? They constantly endure the hate and resentment of others, while never holding a grudge and never retaliating ...
If there wasn't mud and soil in this world, how would seeds ever sprout? How would trees ever grow?
They never showed hate or resentment because they are very well aware of their own self-worth.
Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and lifted his head.
The walls looked like they had been freshly cleaned, but the sign on top of Hunchback Sun's shop looked worn and ancient.
From where he stood, he couldn't see anyone inside.
It was still light out so of course he couldn't make out any candle or lantern light either.
"When night arrives, would the lonely light in that small building still be lit?"
Li XunHuan's mind wandered off thinking about things he didn't want to think about again. For the past two years he had always sat in that chair in the corner watching and waiting for that lonely light.
Hunchback Sun always accompanied him quietly on the side. He never spoke, nor did he ever ask.
Sun XiaoHong let out a sigh as well and said, "Dinner time hasn't arrived yet so the shop should be pretty empty. I wonder what second uncle is up to now? Is he busy cleaning the tables?"
Hunchback Sun was not cleaning the tables.
He would never clean those tables again!
They could see a hand on the table.
The hand was holding on to a wash cloth, and holding on very tightly.
The door was shut closed. They knocked but there was no answer, they called out but there was still no answer.
Sun XiaoHong was even more worried than Li XunHuan, she knocked the door down, and saw that hand.
A hand that had been cut off at the wrist.
Sun XiaoHong was startled and rushed over to the side of the table.
This was the same table that Li XunHuan had always drank wine at for the past two years.
The color of Li XunHuan's face turned pale, he recognized that hand. For the past two years that hand had poured him wine a countless number of times.
When he was drunk, that hand would help him to his room.
When he fell sick, that hand would brew medicine for him.
But now, that hand had changed into a dry shriveled piece of dead flesh. The blood had already congealed, and the tendons had already contracted. The fingers which grasped on so tightly to that wash cloth seemed like they were grasping on for dear life.
Was he scrubbing the tables when someone suddenly cut off his hand?
The table looked sparkling clean and shiny.
When he was wiping this particular table, was he thinking of Li XunHuan?
Li XunHuan suddenly felt a wrenching pain in his chest.
Sun XiaoHong's tears had started to stream down her cheek as she asked, "You know who this hand belongs to?"
Li XunHuan nodded his head slowly.
"Where is he ... where is his body?" Sun XiaoHong said trembling.
She suddenly rushed out. The small shop was empty, completely empty.
When she came back in, Li XunHuan was still standing by that table, his gaze still fixed on that hand.
Four of its fingers were crumpled within the wash cloth. One of its fingers pointed outwards, straight as an arrow, towards a window in the shop.
That window was wide open.
Li XunHuan looked up and stared out that window.
Sun XiaoHong followed his gaze and looked out the window as well. Suddenly the two of them ran to the window and leapt out at the same time.
Outside, the cold wind was chilling to the bones, even the water in the gutters had frozen over.
There was a small alley that was not much wider than the gutters. Perhaps it wasn't an alley and was really a gutter.
They followed it to its end and saw a tiny door. They didn't know to whose house it led, no one probably used this door at all.
It was a dead alley anyway.
The back door was unlatched. On the handle was a red palm print, one that had been stained red with blood.
Sun XiaoHong rushed over and examined it, and then turned around and looked at Li XunHuan.
Her lips were already starting to bleed from her biting down too hard, she said, "ShangGuan JinHong already calculated that you would come to this place."
Li XunHuan didn't open his mouth.
"He knew that you wouldn't go to Happy Cloud Manor first because you wouldn't want to see Long Xiao4Yun. He probably figured that you'd come to check up on second uncle first." Sun XiaoHong said.
Li XunHuan didn't open his mouth.
"All of this is a trap that was purposely set up for you." Sun XiaoHong said.
Li XunHuan's mouth was shut tight.
"So you mustn't enter this door." Sun XiaoHong said.
"And you?" Li XunHuan suddenly remarked.
"It won't matter for me, I'm not the one that ShangGuan JinHong is trying to kill." Sun XiaoHong said.
"So you can enter." Li XunHuan said.
"There's no way I can't enter." Sun XiaoHong said.
Li XunHuan let out a long sigh and said, "It looks like you don't understand me as much as ShangGuan JinHong does."
"Oh?" Sun XiaoHong replied.
"If he really as setting up a trap for me, he would know that I would definitely enter this door. Even if someone had hacked off my two legs, I would still crawl through this door!" Li XunHuan said.
Sun XiaoHong stared at him, her warm tears started to flow again.
She suddenly walked over and wrapped her arms around him, her warm tears streamed onto his face.
She wiped his face off, as if she was using her own tears to wipe away his tired weariness. Because there really was only one thing in the world that could alleviate a man's weariness - the tears of his lover.
Li XunHuan's tense arms and legs started to loosen. He finally couldn't help but reach out and hold her as well.
The two of them held each other very tightly.
Because it was the first time that the two of them had embraced, but it could very well be the last!
It almost seemed as if the sun didn't want to shine onto that alley, it was extremely dim and murky.
It was even darker behind the door.
Once they pushed the door open, an extremely pungent odor passed through that made them want to throw up.
It was the smell of rotting flesh and blood!
Then, they heard an extremely weird sound. It sounded like an animal gasping for its last breath before it died. Or more like ghosts of the underworld screaming to be let free.
But the sound really did seem to be coming from the ground!
There were twenty some odd people under them, they gnashed their teeth at each other and were like animals fighting for their lives.
No one opened their mouths, not even under knife point would anyone dare to open their mouths.
There were originally twenty-six of them. Nine had already fallen. The seventeen left were separated on two sides. The seemingly stronger side far outnumbered the weaker side.
They numbered twelve and all were clothed in yellow. All of them were armed with rather strange and unusual weaponry, one of them even had an iron abacus.
The other side originally had nine people but now there were only five. One of them was blind.
There was also a large burly man with a red sash, he was completely unarmed.
His body was his weapon!
There was a cold flash of light, a fish-scale sabre hacked into his left shoulder. It was like an ax chopping into wood, the sharp blade of the sabre was stuck into his flesh but was caught in his bones!
The man in yellow tried but couldn't pull his sabre out as the burly man struck him on the chest with his palm. He could almost hear the sound of his own bones being smashed.
*PENG*, his entire body was sent flying.
But the burly man could no longer lift his left arm. He suddenly shouted, "You guys escape first, I'll stay here and hold them off. Hurry!"
None of them retreated. None of them answered him either.
One of the people on the floor suddenly got up, and said in a coarse voice, "We can't retreat, even if we die we have to take him out with us!"
They were in an underground tunnel, lanterns were lit all year long.
The lanterns were laid into the wall. Under the dim light, you could make out that she was female, a tall, large, and fat woman. She had a scar that went from her eye to the corner of her mouth.
Her right eye was blind, she only had her left eye remaining as it stared at the burly man.
There was nothing in that eye except vengeance, a vengeance that wouldn't disappear even in death.
"Lady Butcher", Madame Weng!
And who was this large burly man? Could it be the person that hadn't been heard from in many years, Tie ChuanJia?
It really was him!
With the exception of Tie ChuanJia, who else in the world had such a hard skeleton?
Madame Weng struggled to climb to her feet, she stared at Tie ChuanJia and said mockingly, "This person is ours. No one else may lay a single finger on him, no one!"
*SHAN*, there was another cold flash of light as she fell to the floor once again.
There was no way that she would get up this time!
Here eyes were still wide open, and they were still staring at Tie ChuanJia.
She died very painlessly and very fearlessly.
Because the only thing that was on her mind was vengeance. Besides vengeance, she felt nothing else at all.
Tie ChuanJia gritted his teeth as another sword pierced into his body. He stamped his feet and said, "You people really aren't going to go? If all of you are dead, who will take me away?"
The blind man laughed coldly and said, "Even if we're all dead, we'll still take your soul away with us!"
Although his martial arts were even more formidable then those who weren't blind, he was still a blind man. He relied completely on his ears to listen to movements and distinguish the position of his oppoenents.
But whenever anyone talked, their ears are never as sharp as usual. Before he finished his two sentences, a tiger hook lashed out and opened up a large wound on his chest.
The hook was twirled and raised up as flesh and blood hung down from it.
Tie ChuanJia almost couldn't hold it in and wanted to vomit.
Although he had killed before, he was never that vicious. Although his skeleton was extremely hard, his heart was very soft.
But now, his hands had turned soft as well, and he could no longer kill.
He suddenly shouted out, "And what if I were to die at your hands?"
The blind man laughed and said, "We had nothing to do with what happened here, we only came her for you."
Another person said in a harsh voice, "If the 'Eight Righteous Ones of the Central Plains' can't take your life with our own hands, our deaths would be in vain!"
This person's face was full of pockmarks, he carried two sabres, one short and one long, and was the descendant of the Northern Sect's 'Yin Yang Sabre', GongSun Yu.
Tie ChuanJia suddenly started to laugh. At a time like this, why would anyone be laughing?
His laugh really made people's hairs stand on its ends, he said, "So you only wanted to kill me with your own hands, then that's easy ..."
He swung his hand backwards and pushed back one of the men in yellow. He then suddenly ran straight towards the blade of GongSun Yu.
GongSun Yu was startled as his short sabre plunged into Tie ChuanJia's chest!
He stood firmly and panted as he said, "All my debts to you have now been repayed, why aren't you all retreating yet?"
GongSun Yu's face writhed in confusion, he suddenly let out a roar and pulled his sabre out from his chest.
A rain of blood sprayed onto his chest.
His roar was suddenly cut short as he fell down onto the floor, on his back was a three-foot long floral spear.
The red tassel at the head of the spear was still shaking unceasingly.
Tie ChuanJia fell over as well, as he kept repeating the same words from his mouth.
"All my debts to you have now been repayed, why aren't you all retreating yet?"
He watched as another spear stabbed towards him, he didn't try to block nor did he try to avoid it.