Chapter 26 ~~ Juedai Shuangjiao/ Legendary Siblings / Handsome Siblings / The Proud Twins

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The Legendary Siblings Chapter 26

The piece of brilliant jade was still able to dazzle the eyes as it flew through the darkness. Shen Qinghong, who had looked at Xiao Yu’er with a suppressed smile throughout all this, felt a shock at this point. The Lord of Monkeys appeared to have been driven mad- he grabbed Xiao Yu’er and screamed wildly, “You…you idiot, do you even know what you’ve done?”

“How could I not know?” Xiao Yu’er returned with a laugh.

The Lord of Monkeys hopped around frantically: “You knew that you just threw out a piece of imperial jade(?), which is equivalent to destroying a big house with smooth walls, completely tiled (?)…it’s worth three hundred big, fat oxen.”

“Of course I also know that,” Xiao Yu’er said.

“You…you consider this rescuing me?” cried the Lord of Monkeys. “You may as well kill me now.”

Xiao Yu’er sighed, “Well, if you desire riches above your own life, then forget it.”

The Lord of Monkeys protested, “But you…you…what is the point of this?”

“I already knew that you wouldn’t see my point,” Xiao Yu’er laughed mockingly. “But even you don’t understand?”

Those last words, of course, were meant for Shen Qinghong.

Shen Qinghong’s face lit up. “I think I understand a little, but still not entirely.”

Xiao Yu’er explained, “Once I cast out all these pieces of treasure, the monkeys will, of course, scramble to catch them. They would naturally, like my monkey brother here, not even dream of throwing away such curious and pretty objects.”

“But of course.” Shen Qinghong agreed, smiling.

“If I throw out one hundred pieces of treasure,” Xiao Yu’er went on, “at least fifty pieces will be caught by them. Then the monkeys would take the various pieces to different places, to play and catch the light with them.(?) Even if only a single piece caught someone’s attention, that person would be hooked into investigating the origin of the treasure.”

Shen Qinghong concurred: “If it were me, I would be just the same.”

Xiao Yu’er further postulated, “The discoverer of the treasure would not trust in his own solitary abilities. He would find a companion to help him. With this type of secret, as soon as you let a second person know, then instantly a third person will know as well. Once a third person hears of the treasure, then the third hundredth person will be aware of it too. As soon as the rumour leaks out, people will come, never you fear.”

Clapping his hands, Shen Qinghong laughed: “Exactly. Even if the initial finder was a totally inept person, when tempted with a treasure, he would suddenly become resourceful. Besides, when the news spreads, all sorts of talents and treasure hunters will appear.”

Xiao Yu’er sighed again: “So now you understand, we just need people to find this place, and then we’ll be sure to find a way out. The fact that neither of you managed to think of this simple strategy, is exceedingly strange.”

The furious expression had long vanished from the Lord of Monkeys, and at this point he actually leapt up and hugged Xiao Yu’er, and began giggling crazily like a madman: “You are truly, indeed, the cleverest man alive.”

In this way, many baubles and precious objects, the value of which most people could not earn even over a lifetime, were thrown out by Xiao Yu’er like so many rotten peaches or banana peels. Throughout all this, the Lord of Monkeys looked as if he was being gutted by knives; he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

From then on, as Xiao Yu’er discarded more and still more treasure, the Lord of Monkeys turned blue in the face and his eyes bulged. He ceaselessly muttered and yammered aloud: “Clever one, oh clever one, do you realize how much riches you have thrown away? If we converted them into money, we could have physically filled in this entire pit of a precipice.”

Xiao Yu’er paid no attention to him.

By the seventh day, the Lord of Monkeys began to constantly wipe beads of sweat from his forehead, his fists clenched. He hissed, “Intelligent one, oh intelligent one, if your brilliant plan does not succeed, do you know how horribly you are going to die?”

Xiao Yu’er replied indifferently, “If, by the time I have used up the treasure, no one has come, then you may dispose of me as you wish.” In reality he himself was also beginning to get worried. The treasure had already diminished by half, and not even a curious ghost was to be seen.

Eventually the Lord of Monkeys seized the chests and sat on top of them, howling: “No more, don’t even think about touching them!”

“So you really value treasure above your own life?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth: “I have suffered fifteen long years for the sake of this treasure. If it all goes to waste at the hands of a runt like you, what’s the point of living?”

Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes: “What you say is not entirely unreasonable. But think, it might just take one more precious item to bring some rescuers. It’s a shame to go so far and waste our efforts now.(?)”

The Lord of Monkeys rubbed his head, thinking, “This…”

Xiao Yu’er looked at him, smiling, and leisurely added, “Perhaps it just needs one more…only one…”

At last the Lord of Monkeys gave a screech, and sprang aside: “You little pipsqueak, you’ve got quite a tongue. All right, you’ve convinced me.”

If it needed one more item, then perhaps it needed two. And if it took two pieces, then maybe three…days passed like this, and still not a soul could be seen.

Now the Lord of Monkeys seized Xiao Yu’er’s clothes, teeth grinding –grr grr- and hissed: “What does the pipsqueak have to say now?”

Xiao Yu’er said, “You never know, it could just take…”

“It could just take one more, right?!” the Lord of Monkeys screamed.

“Precisely,” Xiao Yu’er laughed.

The Lord of Monkeys stamped his foot: “Dog crap on your mother! You’ve made me suffer enough, and you still want to…want to…” Two hands, like monkey paws, reached out to wring Xiao Yu’er’s neck.

At that moment Shen Qinghong let out a “hey”, then whispered, “Someone’s coming!”

By the side of the cave, a person’s head half peeked out.

It was indeed someone’s head, which had been combed into a (?) style, but the hat that should have been sitting on it was gone, apparently swept off by the wind.

This person’s eyebrows were thick and dark, he looked quite threatening. But the eyebrows were drawn together in the middle, as if he was troubled by something. Even if he had many troubles, it was not apparent from his eyes(?).

His eyes bulged out from his face, almost as if the eyeballs were growing out of the sockets. His pupils were fixed and motionless, while the whites were crisscrossed with blood vessels. Those bloodshot eyes stared at the three people in the cave, empty and expressionless.

Although these were clearly the eyes of a person, they somehow were not. Such large eyes, and yet no signs of life in them! Xiao Yu’er, Shen Qinghong and the Lord of Monkeys were all looking back at those eyes. Stare as they might, yet for some reason, their hearts all felt a chill.

Those expressionless and lifeless eyes seemed so cruel, so cold and so terrifying. The motionless pupils carried an inexorable air of death.

The Lord of Monkeys couldn’t help shouting, “Who the h*ll are you?”
His cry was cut short-the head flew through the air towards them!

No hands, no chest, no body…no nothing. This was definitely only a head, one solitary, human head.

The Lord of Monkeys stood there, stunned. From outside the cave there floated the sounds of eerie, threatening laughter, as a few monkeys showed their laughing faces.

Xiao Yu’er let out a breath, and smilingly scolded them, “So it was you who were playing tricks!”

But this head could not have been severed by the monkeys.

Shen Qinghong picked up the head, and looked at the eyebrows, the bulging pair of eyes. He muttered, “But who killed him?”

Xiao Yu’er glanced outside at the setting sun, and said slowly, “The killer should arrive shortly.”

But no one arrived, killer or otherwise.

The sunset stretched into the long, deep night, which also exhausted itself. During this long while, the Lord of Monkeys could neither sit nor stand still. The misty colours of dawn gradually penetrated the darkness of the cave…Without warning, a hand reached in from the outside of the cave!

The five fingers on this hand resembled hooks, as if they wished to grasp something. But the hand was empty. The hand somehow looked sinister in the early morning light. The Lord of Monkeys flew over with the speed of wind, and seized the wrist. Without using much force, however, the entire hand was wrenched into the cave!

Once again, this was a single, solitary hand. And as before, it had been completely cut off. The blood at the wound had already clotted and congealed into a miserable red colour. There was a scar on the back of the hand, long and deep, with twists and turns like the writhing of a snake. Presumably, many years ago this hand had also been chopped at and narrowly missed an amputation.

The faces of the monkeys with their sly smiles swayed outside the cave, red as if painted with fresh blood.(?) The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth audibly, and hissed: “The head precedes, and then the hand follows. Heaven forbid, the next body part will be a stinky foot.”

Xiao Yu’er declared, “The head and the hand do not belong to the same person.”

“How would you know? Did you ask him?” the Lord of Monkeys laughed coldly.

Xiao Yu’er observed: “The skin on the face was delicate and soft. On the hand, however, it was like sandpaper. Even if you can’t see it, you should be able to feel the difference.”

“Hmph!” the Lord of Monkeys retorted. After a while, he couldn’t help admitting, “Then perhaps the hand belongs to another person…”

“Correct,” Xiao Yu’er said. “Furthermore, it was this hand that chopped off that head!”

The Lord of Monkeys said, surprised: “What, you know that too? Did you witness it?”

“Take a look at the hand,” Xiao Yu’er explained. “A single glance, and you should know that this hand is a strong one. Only a hand with this kind of strength could achieve a clean decapitation with one stroke.”

“Hmph!” the Lord of Monkeys said once more.

Xiao Yu’er elaborated further: “If you note the markings on this hand, you can tell that just before it was amputated, it must have been tightly gripping a blade. And not just any blade, but the weapon must have been a rare, precious one. Therefore, as soon as the hand that held it was chopped off, the blade was wrenched from its grasp… A strong hand gripping a keen blade, this must have made it much easier to cut off someone’s head. What doesn’t make sense is, how exactly was the hand severed?”

Shen Qinghong suddenly let out a long sigh: “You speak truly; this is indeed a strong hand, and it was indeed gripping a valuable weapon.”

The Lord of Monkeys laughed mockingly, his eyes flashed: “Ha, and all of a sudden you are sure of this too?”

“Of course I do,” Shen Qinghong retorted. “The head I might not know, but the hand I certainly recognize.”

Xiao Yu’er raised his eyebrows, and guessed: “Is it the scar you recognize?”

“Precisely.” Shen Qinghong confirmed. “I was the one who injured the hand and made this scar. And it was I who applied healing herbs to this wound. Judging from the way it healed, I(?)…how could I forget?” His voice betrayed much sadness.

The Lord of Monkeys scratched his nose, saying: “First you wounded him, then you gave him medicines… are you mentally ill or something?”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes, thinking aloud: “That cut must have been an accident. Thus, at once you felt regret and applied the medicines to the hand, is that it?”

“Exactly,” Shen Qinghong agreed with a sad smile.

“In that case, this person must be your friend?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

Shen Qinghong sighed deeply once again: “In former days, this person was known in wulin as “Boss Tie, the Golden Blade”. Tie Yulong and I were certainly good friends, but it was only because we were competing for the position of protection agency boss that I…I accidentally sliced his hand once. Afterwards I wished to make amends, but he…he had left without saying goodbye. This was roughly twenty years ago now. Who could have guessed that today, he…” Shen Qinghong turned his head away.

The Lord of Monkeys mused, “ ‘Boss Tie, the Golden Blade’ …hmm, I have heard of this name before. Apparently he not only had more guts, but his martial arts were also superior to yours. What a pity that he wasn’t as devious as you, and so he suffered that blow.”

Shen Qinghong gloomily agreed, “I am far from his equal.”

The Lord of Monkeys drew his eyebrows together, and anxiously said: “This person’s martial arts were quite good in the first place. In these twenty years, he must have trained hard, to make up for his injury. Thus his martial arts must have improved quite a bit. Yet even at that advanced level, his hand was cut off. The perpetrator must be very skilled; we must therefore be very cautious.”

After this speech, he said nothing more, but would only sit cross-legged(?) in the darkest corner of the cave, breathing evenly and cultivating his chi(?), staring at the entrance to the cave.

Outside the cave, it began to brighten, a tiny breeze was carrying the fragrance and warmth of summer. Occasionally the queer howls of laughter from the monkeys sounded back and forth(?).

The sunlight, the scents and the warmth, such unfettered freedom… tears suddenly streamed from Shen Qinghong’s eyes. He turned his head and said hoarsely, “Do you…do you honestly think someone will come? Will someone really find this place?”

Xiao Yu’er responded: “They will.”

Shen Qinghong asked, “But who will come? And will they rescue us or not?”

The Lord of Monkeys gave a ferocious laugh: “Of course they will. No matter who, I don’t care, I just need them to lower a rope, that rope…”

“But if what they want is not you, but your treasure, once they come in here they will kill you, what do they care?” Shen Qinghong interrupted.

Cackling wildly, the Lord of Monkeys replied, “They can’t kill me, no one can kill me…before they even saw me, I would have killed them first.”

Shen Qinghong persisted: “And what if it was a friend, you would still kill…”

The Lord of Monkeys hooted with laughter: “Friend? On this earth, who is my friend? From the age of seven I have been friendless. When I hear the word “friend” I want to vomit.”

Shen Qinghong slowly blinked his eyes and said: “Very well then.”

The Lord of Monkeys instructed them, slowly and clearly pronouncing his words: “The two of you, if you want to live to get out of here, don’t do anything stupid. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you don’t do anything. Just when the person enters, distract him, otherwise…”

Suddenly with a “sough” sound, a sword flew straight into the cave. Without waiting for it to hit the cave wall, Shen Qinghong had already seized it in his hand. He saw a blue light shimmer along the blade; although it was not a rare treasure, it was still certainly a well-crafted weapon(?).

The Lord of Monkeys shouted: “Where is the swordsman?”

“The swordsman?” Xiao Yu’er slowly repeated. “Doubtless he is also dead. This weapon was flung into the cave by your monkey brothers. If the sword’s owner were still alive, how could he permit such a well-made weapon fall into the hands of apes?”

“But of course. While the man exists, so does the sword; when the man dies, the sword also is no more…” sighed Shen Qinghong.

He lightly stroked the intricate and elegant sword, and found that exact sentiment carved into the blade in eight golden words like glittering thread: “Man and sword live and perish as one.”

“To match this sword, its owner must have been a superb swordsman,” Xiao Yu’er remarked.

Shen Qinghong thrust the sword before Xiao Yu’er, saying: “Examine the sword; are there any further markings besides these eight words?”

There were three golden circles also inscribed on the blade.

Xiao Yu’er blinked: “Nothing much, merely three circles…”

Shen Qinghong heaved a sigh: “You are correct in what your eyes observe. But these mere three circles… did you know what serious meaning these would have among the heroes of wulin?”

“What do they mean?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

“With these three circles alone,” explained Shen Qinghong, “you could procure vast quantities of silver and gold. You could change the lives of a thousand people. (?) You could make bitter rivals shake hands and vow peace. And you could also turn sworn brothers into lifelong enemies.”

Laughing, Xiao Yu’er said, “There must be some devilry in these circles then.” Shen Qinghong replied: “They contain no devilry, but these three circles are the mark of “Hunter of spirits, raider of lives, Three-Ring Swordsman” Shen Yang. By using those three circles, a task could be accomplished as easily as crossing a river.” (?)

“Oh, I see,” Xiao Yu’er said. “This Shen character truly has such influence and power?”

Shen Qinghong continued: “This Three-Ring Sword is one of the ‘Famed Seven Swords’. As for his stroke “Three Rings Envelop the Moon”, when Shen Yang executes it, it is truly…”

Shen Qinghong fell silent for a while, then with a long sigh he said, “The Three Ring Swordsman, dying in this fashion, is really something I could not have imagined. From this we can see, the caliber of the experts you have lured here with your treasure, must be great indeed.”

Xiao Yu’er said, amused: “At the top of the precipice, they must be fighting like mad right now. Only too bad we couldn’t see it.”

Moodily, Shen Qinghong commented: “True. At this moment, up above, there must be so many of our wulin peers and friends shedding blood and taking lives. This is all as a result of your doing, you should be regretful and sorrowful, instead of…”

Laughing even harder, Xiao Yu’er pointed out to him: “The sort of people who would, for mere metal and baubles (?), take others’ lives and risk their own, should not be calling themselves heroes of wulin. To my mind, they’re nothing but a herd of idiots; who deserves to be mocked if not them?”

A brief pause. Shen Qinghong fell silent, and slowly lowered his head. With a sigh he spoke again: “Fighting so ruthlessly for such superficial gains…on second thought, it really does seem stupid. But I…how could I claim to be different from them?”

Xiao Yu’er told him, “If you start talking with me more often, who knows, in the future you may just get a little smarter.”

This day also was spent in nervous anticipation. The Lord of Monkeys opened his already wide eyes even further. The day slowly faded, and his eyes became like two lanterns for some intense, brilliant ghost lights(?).

It was close to midnight,(?) and not a soul was visible outside the cave entrance. But just when they had waited until the long, long night had almost exhausted itself, from the endless outer darkness, there suddenly came a burst of loud noise. Earsplitting and devious cackles; it was the monkeys laughing again.

His eyebrows drawn together, Xiao Yu’er scolded, “Monkeys, it’s the middle of the night, why are you making all this racket?”

Shen Qinghong said heavily: “The monkeys dislike the night. If they are making so much noise now, there must be a reason for it.”

He had barely finished speaking, when “ding dong, wa-la” –a stream of clattering noises announced that the monkeys had hurled about ten or so objects into the cave. The cave interior was pitch-black; no one could see what these objects were. The monkeys’ laughter gradually faded, as if they had accomplished some obscure mission and had left.

Xiao Yu’er felt around blindly, and grasped an object. He said, “This feels like a sickled(?) sword.”

Shen Qinghong said glumly, “A sickled sword? In recent years this type of weapon has become rather rare in wulin, and its strokes have gradually been lost to the common repertoire. Anyone able to use this type of sword, must be a top-notch practitioner.”

“Then it seems, once again, that a top-notch practitioner has just lost his life,” Xiao Yu’er quipped.

He again searched with his fingers, and fished up another object. Shen Qinghong asked, “What is that?”

“It is round, smooth, and has a chain attached(?),” Xiao Yu’er noted. “Seems like a morningstar, yet not exactly. (1) I can’t really tell what it is.”

Shen Qinghong repeated, mumbling: “Round? And smooth…ah, perhaps it is the most poisonous weapon of the Five Great Sects(?) of wulin, ‘the Pearl of Thunder and Five Poisons’!”

Xiao Yu’er said, “Pearl of Thunder and Five Poisons, this name sounds quite powerful.”

“When you use it,” Shen Qinghong explained, “you use the same technique as with ordinary morningstars, but in the copper sphere there lies some hidden projectiles. When an enemy encounters it, the hidden projectiles will fly out. Even a high-level martial arts expert would be hard pressed to avoid injury. In this way, the possessor of this weapon, Yang Lu, became quite feared throughout most of wulin.”

Although Shen Qinghong had been gone from wulin for fifteen years, his knowledge of its inner secrets was as detailed as though they were his household heirlooms.(?)

Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Well apparently this Yang fellow didn’t get to show off his special technique this time before he was killed. The killer undoubtedly must be an expert of the highest quality.”

“Take another look, do you see anything more?” Shen Qinghong prompted. “But be careful, since there are experts here from the Five Sects, these objects here must be reeking of poison.”

Laughing, Xiao Yu’er reassured him, “Do I look like the type of person who would fall for another’s poison? Of course I covered my hands in cloth first. Hmm, there’s a sword here that resembles a Nine-Ring sword.” He made a thrust with his hand; an ear-numbing noise thundered forth.

“Judging from that sound,” Shen Qinghong observed, “this sword sounds extremely heavy.”

“It is indeed,” Xiao Yu’er agreed. “About fifty catties, I’m afraid.”

Shen Qinghong said, “The noise alone from such a sword would be lethal. Presumably its owner had incredible arm strength and martial arts, definitely not below Golden Blade Tie Yulong. Indeed, it could be ‘Evil-Cleansing Sword’ Zeng Lun!”

Xiao Yu’er continued searching: “Here we have a Judge’s Pen. It’s very heavy too. To be able to use this pen to seal acupoints, the user’s abilities must also be quite superb.”

“Pass it over, let me see it,” Shen Qinghong said.

“See it?” joked Xiao Yu’er. “Don’t you mean- let me touch it? I don’t think you could see anything right now.”

Shen Qinghong’s finger ran lightly over the cold and strong brush. Where he gripped the brush, he thought he felt many engraved words. He blindly spelled them out with his fingers moving down the brush.

At the top were carved the four words: “Those without righteousness die”.

Shen Qinghong cried out: “Indeed, it is the ‘Judge of Life and Death’ Zhao Gong, he…how did he die as well?”

“All people die, what is so strange about that?” asked Xiao Yu’er.

“But…but the “Judge of Life and Death” was the foremost expert alive in wulin with respect to sealing acupoints. His martial arts were unsurpassed in the central plains. Who killed him? In fact, who could have killed him?!”

Xiao Yu’er hypothesized, “It is possible that he didn’t die, but was merely parted from his weapon.”

Shen Qinghong disagreed: “All martial arts experts everywhere, without question, view their esteemed weapons as their lives. Since these weapons have fallen into the hands of monkeys, their owners must have lost their lives as well!”

By this time, a faint light had started shining into the cave. Although it was not strong, it was enough for the keen eyes of Shen Qinghong and the others to perceive clearly the state of the lost weapons.

They saw that besides the sickled sword, the Pearl of Five Poisons, and the Nine-Ring sword, there were also two other swords, a spear, a pair of tiger’s head hooks(?), three steel projectiles(?) and two bags of stealth projectiles.

Shen Qinghong picked up one of the other swords. It was light and skillfully crafted, its blade thin as paper. He said, “This is from the pair of swords called ‘Dragon and Phoenix in Twin Flight, Mandarins’ Swords’ – it is the ‘Skyward Phoenix’ sword. Where is its partner ‘Divine Dragon”? Perhaps they were forced apart…ai!”

He continued, “The Dragon and Phoenix, what a pair…throughout wulin, they were considered to have wings- they could soar and glide the skies for nine days straight, who could have guessed that in the end, they would be separated by a cruel hand!”

Sighing, he put down the “Skyward Phoenix” sword. His eyes swept from the spear to the tiger’s head hooks and across the other weapons. His sighs became heavier, and he muttered: “All of these people died for the same reason, this I could never have dreamed of. Certainly the fierce fighting and violent conditions under which they perished, we will not see again in a hundred years.”

Xiao Yu’er said, “These people not only died, but evidently they died at the same time. To be able to kill so many experts simultaneously, this killer’s abilities must be unimaginable. Can you guess who it was?”

Shen Qinghong mused, “The people who could slay so many experts at once, are definitely few in number. However, I would say there are about seven or eight. Among them, the ones who have the most skillful martial arts and who use the cruelest tactics, are the two princesses of the Floral Palace!”

The tone of his voice changed somewhat on uttering the final two words. He glanced about in all directions, as if afraid that the two princesses, beautiful as fairies yet monster-like in their brutality, might suddenly appear out of the darkness.

Xiao Yu’er smiled and reassured him, “Don’t worry. They would never appear in such an uncouth place.”

Shen Qinghong released his held breath, and said, “You’re right. Those two are like lofty fairies, why would they kill for such earthly treasures? They are assuredly not the murderers.”

“Besides them, who else is there?” Xiao Yu’er pressed.

“Among the “Ten Evils” of old,” Shen Qinghong declared, “the ones with the highest martial arts were “Bloody Hand” Du Sha and “Mad Lion” Tie Shan. I’m afraid they would also be capable of such cruel tactics.”

Xiao Yu’er rejected the idea: “Neither of them is a possibility.”

Shen Qinghong corrected himself, “That is right. The first one, no one knows his current whereabouts. According to rumour, he has taken shelter in the “Valley of Evil”. What about “Mad Lion” Tie Shan? Ai…if these people were killed by him, even their weapons would have been torn to pieces; they would never escape intact like this.”

“Who else is there?” Xiao Yu’er repeated.

Shen Qinghong replied, “There are a few, but their names are not worth mentioning.”

“Why is that?”

“Because although their martial arts are indeed first-class, they are honourable and righteous, truly the heroes of our generation, and would never stoop so low as this kind of act. For example, the Peerless Celestial Sword, Yan Nantian! Although this esteemed swordsman could easily kill those people, he would not, unless they were evildoers. He would rather endure suffering himself than wrongfully commit a murder. “

Xiao Yu’er had been waiting for him to name Yan Nantian; now, upon hearing Shen Qinghong’s description, his blood rose in his chest, warm and rushing. He cried: “Well spoken! Truly a man! If a man lives on this earth, he should live like Yan Nantian, so that at the mere mention of his name, one would raise a thumb in admiration.”

Shen Qinghong stared at the Lord of Monkeys, and said loudly, “Not only those who have benefited from him, praise him to the skies both openly and behind his back, but even his enemies would not dare speak ill of him outside of his presence.”

The Lord of Monkeys sneered coldly: “Ha, you think I wouldn’t dare mock him?”

Without warning, Shen Qinghong was on his feet. He shouted: “How dare you?”

The Lord of Monkeys sighed, saying: “Although I do wish to curse him, I don’t even know exactly how I should.”

Shen Qinghong burst into loud laughter: “Did you hear that? Of course there are people who want to curse him, but they don’t even know how. This is because he has never in his life done anything to be ashamed of. Although I haven’t seen him in fifteen years, but this kind of man, who has no regrets under heaven or on earth, must still be alive and well, wouldn’t you agree?”

Xiao Yu’er echoed, “Definitely, he must be alive and well! He must be living a good life right now…” As he spoke, his eyes moistened. He lowered his head, and hurriedly picked up one of the bags of stealth projectiles, spilling its contents on the floor.

They saw that there were thirteen poison needles, seven clusters of black metal projectiles (?) , and also one big pile of poison sand. Shen Qinghong’s face changed colour. He said, “The River (?) sect also sent people here!”

Xiao Yu’er said, “The perpetrator could not be in the list of people you just named. Yet the person also could not be from among the few you said weren’t worth mentioning. In that case, do you have any idea who it is?”

Shen Qinghong sighed, “I honestly don’t think I would be able to guess.”

Xiao Yu’er stretched out his cramped waist. He said, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. He’ll definitely come soon, let’s just wait and see.”

The fear and wariness was apparent in the Lord of Monkeys’ wide, round eyes, even though he was indeed confident in his own martial arts, and that they would be able to overpower the killer in the darkness. But the martial arts of the approaching, unfathomable enemy were truly too strong! It was enough to chill one’s courage. If he were to miss on the first stroke, he may not have another chance to attack.

A breeze gently stirred. Outside the cave unexpectedly there appeared a hand. It was delicate, beautiful and graceful. Each finger seemed carved from white jade. Even the most critical person alive would not be able to pick out a flaw from this hand.

But here, in this kind of place, to suddenly see such a captivating sight, seemed extremely eerie and strange. To the eyes of Shen Qinghong and the others, this perfect and elegant jade hand, truly seemed to have a sad, mysteriously bewitching air. You could not help but wonder if this could really be a human hand. Right now the Lord of Monkeys appeared to have stopped breathing; he was speechless.

They saw the hand lightly knock on the stone at the cave entrance…the hand had moved, and so had the fingers, this could not be a dead person’s hand!

Then a gentle and sweet voice laughed, like a silver bell: “Is anyone home?”

At this moment and in such a place, they could hardly believe such words could be spoken, by such a soft voice. It sounded as if a neighbour’s young wife had dropped by on a casual social visit. The hair was raised on their skin as the Lord of Monkeys and Shen Qinghong listened. They looked at each other, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Neither could find any words to say.

Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and replied, laughing: “Oh yes, there certainly are, and quite a few of us!”

The speaker teased, “Well then, if you are home, you should come out and open the door!”

“Unfortunately yesterday I ate somebody’s sweets(?) without paying for it, so they came and confiscated my door,” Xiao Yu’er joked back.

He was answered by another silvery peal of laughter: “I have been waiting outside so long that my legs are getting weak, may I come in and sit for a while?”

“Of course you may,” said Xiao Yu’er. “But be careful when you enter. The threshold is quite high, you wouldn’t want to tear your new dress.”

The voice replied, “Many thanks to you.”

End of Chapter 26

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