Chapter 33 ~~ Juedai Shuangjiao/ Legendary Siblings / Handsome Siblings / The Proud Twins

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The Legendary Siblings Chapter 33

Now Xiao Yu’er was moving the knob made of tin.

He reflected: “The stone room was a grave. The steel room was a training room. The gold room stored treasure, and the bronze room held weapons. All this is logical, now as for the tin room, can you guess what it contains?”

Blinking a few times, Jiang Yulang proposed: “Could it be their private chambers?”

Xiao Yu’er chortled loudly: “Sleeping in a tin room, that would be strange indeed.”

As he spoke, the tin wall moved aside. Before his words had finished, suddenly a fierce lion sprang out from within, almost landing on Jiang Yulang who was standing right outside the entrance. He leapt backward seven or eight feet.

They took another look. Although the lion had retained its fur, its flesh was gone, with only a skeleton to keep its terrifying shape. Xiao Yu’er chuckled in relief: “This lion must have been really hungry, it wanted to escape but had died of starvation upon reaching the door. Alas that it gave our young master Jiang quite a scare.”

He then strolled inside. Abruptly he cried out: “So this was the reason!”

Jiang Yulang approached, and the ashy-white room filled with colours and scattered baubles everywhere, so that they bewildered the eye. It seemed that this was another treasure room.

Upon closer examination, however, he could only see many different colourful objects, which were not necessarily treasure. There was a multitude of different small vials and bottles. And the appearance of each bottle was strange and unusual.

Xiao Yu’er said to Jiang Yulang, “Surely you should know what are in these bottles?”

Jiang Yulang took a deep breath: “Poisons!”

“That is correct,” Xiao Yu’er agreed. “And this lion was meant to guard the poisons.”

Unexpectedly he bent his waist, then said, “The fourth person’s body is indeed here!”

Jiang Yulang watched him pick up some bones. Jiang Yulang thought further and his face paled. He said, “His…his body, was it eaten by the lion?”

Xiao Yu’er sighed, “This person was really unlucky; not only was he murdered here, but even his corpse was devoured by a lion…”

Jiang Yulang suddenly broke into a fit of cackles- “ge ge”.

“Why are you so happy?” Xiao Yu’er asked him.

Still giggling, Jiang Yulang told him, “Turn your head and look.”

In his hand, who knows how long it had been there, he held a dark object which resembled a bamboo tube. He chortled, “Well my luck is certainly not bad, I’ve managed to find a real treasure.”

Blinking, Xiao Yu’er asked, “What is it?”

Jiang Yulang retorted: “If you can’t recognize this, you must really be ignorant. The foremost swordsman of ancient times, ‘Reverend Jue Chen’, died with this object in his hand.”(1)

Xiao Yu’er said, amused: “I still don’t recognize it.”

With a mocking laugh, Jiang Yulang sneered: “Let me tell you, this is the ‘Celestial Dew of the Five Poisons’, from the ancient ‘White Water Palace’; you merely place a drop of this on someone. No matter who it is, within half an hour, they will die from generalized whole-body necrosis.”

Laughing lightly, Xiao Yu’er quipped, “Well then, you’d better put that far away somewhere, you wouldn’t want to spill it on me.”

Jiang Yulang hissed: “Don’t even think about escaping this time. I have already checked it and I know it is full, a full vial of ‘Celestial Dew’. I only have to move my hand and you’re finished.”

Xiao Yu’er smiled bitterly: “You really must kill me no matter what?”

“If you had minded your own business just now,” Jiang Yulang spat out, “and left me free to take that martial arts text, I could have left you to live a while longer yet. But now you must die!”

“Don’t forget,” Xiao Yu’er reminded him, “I could have killed you before, but I didn’t.” Suddenly he laughed: “But, why don’t you take a look at what I have in my hand first?”

In his grip, was the blow-tube for the ‘Destroying Heaven, Obliterating Hell, Heart-Piercing and Bone-Penetrating’ needles which Jiang Yulang had discarded earlier. Jiang Yulang giggled: “I see that you have been scared to the point of madness, you’re even trying to threaten me with that empty blow-tube…”

Smiling, Xiao Yu’er said, “Empty blow-tube? Who said it was empty?”

With a shock, Jiang Yulang stuttered, “You…didn’t you just say…”

Xiao Yu’er interrupted him with a laugh: “Oh yes, I did claim that the tube was empty just now. That was merely a lie; think about it- what else could I do? You should know that because it is so time-consuming to craft them, every blow-tube contains three sets of Bone-Penetrating Needles.”

With another laugh, he added: “If each blow-tube could only be used once, after each use you would have to find the ‘Divine Hands Craftsman’ again. If it was this bothersome, who would value these Bone-Penetrating Needles? Could you not figure out such a simple concept as this?”

Jiang Yulang’s hands once again began to shake. He stammered, “You…don’t think you can trick me again, you don’t even know…”

Laughing coldly, Xiao Yu’er repeated: “I don’t know? I was raised in the Valley of Evil. When it comes to this sort of vicious stealth projectile, would I not know more than you?”

Jiang Yulang’s hands became soft and weak. He laughed, and said in a trembling voice: “Big brother, of course you would know far more, little brother here is not your equal.”

As he spoke, he returned the ‘Celestial Dew’ back to its original place.

Xiao Yu’er said slowly, amused, “If I don’t kill or hurt you, then I deserve whatever comes to me, right?”

Jiang Yulang said, “Little brother here is young and ignorant, speaking nonsense. Big brother, please…please forgive me.” During his speech he slowly backed away.

Sighing, Xiao Yu’er said, “You are indeed an intelligent person. You know a lot, but alas that you are not as clever as I. You are just inferior by a tiny bit…”

With a light flick of his finger, the blow-tube in his hand made a “hack” noise.

Jiang Yulang’s entire body went soft, and he started to swoon from fright. But nothing had been fired from the blow-tube.

At that point Xiao Yu’er had the vial of ‘Celestial Dew’ in his grasp. Laughing – ‘ha ha’- loudly, he cried: “Let me tell you, that blow-tube is in truth empty. ‘Destroying Heaven, Obliterating Hell, Heart-Piercing and Bone-Penetrating’ needles- with one shot there are one hundred and thirty needles. In such a small tube, how could you fit three sets of needles? Such a straightforward principle, how could you not have thought of it?”

With a thump, Jiang Yulang really did fall over unconscious. This time he collapsed from anger, rather than fear.

The fuel in the bronze torch was almost used up.

Jiang Yulang obediently crawled back to his cave and added more oil to it. He also brought back more clean water and food, and subserviently placed these in front of Xiao Yu’er. Only when Xiao Yu’er had finished eating did he begin to devour the leftovers. His own father, if he had been there to witness it, would have died in a fit of anger- because Jiang Yulang had never served even his father in such a filial way.

Xiao Yu’er wiped his mouth. He murmured, “Only one room left. The exit must lie in this room. Mmm…right, to put an exit in their private chambers, this makes sense.”

At last, he twisted the silver knob. Behind the silver wall, there lay an entirely different world!

Here was the true underground palace. Xiao Mimi’s section was certainly extravagant, but when compared to this area, it was practically a pit in a coal mine.

The tunnel beyond the silver wall had a floor covered with a thick and soft carpet. On either side of the tunnel there was a total of six doors covered in jewels and precious stones. The two of them passed through the tangled beams of light shining off the walls, as if they were walking in a paradise.

Xiao Yu’er hardly even glanced at all the splendor. He merely muttered to himself: “Strange…five people, but why are there six rooms, perhaps there was a sixth person here? There must be a sixth person, who probably didn’t practice martial arts. Otherwise, why would there only be five tables in the training room?”

As he thought aloud, he had already entered the first room.

The interior décor clearly identified this as the private chamber of a lady. The dressing table to the side held a complete set of cosmetics and grooming paraphernalia. In fact there was even a chamber pot behind the bed.

Upon seeing this, Xiao Yu’er was truly stunned. His eyes grew wide and his voice cracked: “A woman’s room? This place has a female master…you can kill me, I still won’t believe it.”

An embroidered curtain swished down. Xiao Yu’er drew it open and saw a skeleton lying on the bed. Hair, jewelry, all lay neatly on the pillow. Clearly this was a female.

They saw that the next room belonged to a woman as well. On the bed lay its female owner. In the third, and also the fourth, it was the same.

Throughout all this, Xiao Yu’er could only shake his head, laughing and bemused: “So in this place there were more than five people, or even six. The martial arts experts had brought their wives here too. When they were murdered, the wives were naturally killed as well.”

Jiang Yulang suggested, “It appears that these women all had their acupoints sealed, and then were left to slowly die of hunger.”

Sighing in agreement, Xiao Yu’er commented, “This kind of death, would be about the most tortured way to die. The perpetrator presumably would have been even more heartless than you, and his methods far crueller.”

Although Jiang Yulang lowered his head, his cheeks did not redden in shame.

Jiang Yulang went into the fifth room and whipped aside the bed curtains. He sighed: “People are really bizarre; you know that on the bed there will be a woman’s bones, and yet you still can’t resist opening the curtains to look…”

His words were cut short as he realized his mistake. The bed contained two corpses. One male, one female. They looked down and saw that the man’s spine had been shattered. Clearly he had died under a single stroke.

Xiao Yu’er quickly expelled a breath, then said, “This one is actually the fifth person.”

Jiang Yulang said, “The sixth room, could it be his…”

Xiao Yu’er pushed aside the door to the final room. One look was enough to freeze his body in shock.

Under the light, wearing a jeweled cap on his head, sat a man with an impressive beard all over his face. His hand pressed down on the table, as if he would break it. His brow was furrowed, and his eyes glared, his entire attitude was violent and threatening. Fresh blood had seeped out of his eyes, nose, and all of the other seven orifices, except that now the stains were old and dried and indistinct.

Once again, Xiao Yu’er sighed. “This person is dead after all.”

Jiang Yulang had taken down one of the jewels and threw it at the bearded man. They heard a “duk” sound- the precious stone had bounced off the body.

This person’s body was hard as stone.

Xiao Yu’er said: “Maybe this is only a wooden statue.”

“No,” Jiang Yulang argued, “this is a person. A dead person.”

Sighing, Xiao Yu’er said, “No, definitely he is a person, but if he is, then how could he be so much like a piece of wood?”

Jiang Yulang made no reply, but instead crossed over to flick aside the bedcurtain.

On the bed, there indeed was a person. A woman, and an exquisitely beautiful one. Her body was exactly the way she must have looked while alive, not one bit of decay. If it weren’t for her deathly pallor(?), you could without exaggeration call her one of the rare beauties of this earth.

In fact, Jiang Yulang had never in his life laid eyes on such a lovely creature. From her colour, he knew she was dead. But having had a single glance, he involuntarily fell into a dazed dream.

Sighing, Xiao Yu’er broke into his thoughts: “When this woman was alive, she must have had countless men under her spell. Next to her, Xiao Mimi is almost an ugly pig. I don’t understand how her body could still be intact…”

“These two people died in a different manner from the others,” Jiang Yulang said in a low voice. “They succumbed to a strange sort of poison which was able to preserve their bodies indefinitely.”

He took a breath, then slowly added: “Apparently, her beauty was really important to her…this naturally was worth cherishing.”

Xiao Yu’er asked, “You mean that she killed herself on purpose?”

Jiang Yulang pointed out: “If someone else killed her, why would they bother to use such a valuable poison on her?”

Nodding his head, Xiao Yu’er agreed, “That makes sense. Only…what about this man? Even ten or more years after his death, this man still has such a noble air. In life, he must have been really important.”

“Perhaps he was the true master of this place,” Jiang Yulang guessed.

Once again, Xiao Yu’er concurred: “Right, he appears the type to have had such great ambition.”

Jiang Yulang began to think aloud: “Let’s say the other five people were killed by him. Then how did he die? And what drove his wife to suicide? I wonder what his relationship with the other five people was, and why he wasted so much effort and riches to create this underground palace. Why did he have to hide here so secretly?”

With a wry laugh, Xiao Yu’er said, “When you talk like that, you give me a headache.”

The two of them were certainly extremely clever. Yet after thinking and thinking, they could not penetrate the mystery of this palace. By this time their eyes were huge. But still neither of them had glimpsed the book by the side of the pillow. If they had missed this book, then they would never have figured out this puzzle, not in their lifetimes.

Luckily, Xiao Yu’er did eventually catch sight of it.

He flipped a couple of pages, and suddenly cried out: “In here…all of the secrets are in here!”

On the light yellow pages, there were words in delicate and elegant script. It was definitely written in a lady’s hand.

These, indeed, belonged to the beautiful lady now lying on the bed- her entire life’s tragedies and woe. Her miseries were almost impossible to believe. While dying, she unraveled the secrets of the underground palace.

Of course, her thoughts were not written for Xiao Yu’er to read, nor anybody else, for that matter. She had merely wished, in her final moments, to vent her sorrows. Only, when she died, there was no one left alive. Thus she could only express herself on ink and paper.

This is what she said: Her name was Fang Lingji.(2) Her family was from one of the dying tribes of Jiangnan. They had four generations living together under one roof, and their days were originally peaceful and happy. As for herself, however, she would never enjoy such fortune.

At four years of age, her mother brought her to Suzhou to visit relatives. When they returned, her family’s entire property had been laid waste. More than three hundred people, old and young, had all been slaughtered.

Their enemies would of course pursue all survivors. (3) She and her mother were forced to flee for their lives, wandering everywhere in fear. Although Fang Lingji did not describe this part of her life in detail, one could imagine that it was full of hardship and bitterness.

In the midst of such troubled and anxious times, she eventually managed to discover the name of her nemesis!

Ouyang Ting.

‘Hero among men’, Ouyang Ting! Her enemy, of all people, was one of the heroes of wulin, a man of solid reputation and upstanding character. (4) He was one of the strongest martial artists of his time, and his family was among the richest as well.

Abandoned and alone, mother and daughter sought revenge despite not knowing a shred of martial arts. Plagued by hatred and anger, her mother eventually fell ill and lost her life.

Three years later, she actually plotted a way to marry her enemy. The only thing left that she could use as a weapon of vengeance was her undeniable beauty.

However, Ouyang Ting, an eminent hero of his generation, would naturally be hard to trap in a sneak attack. Fang Lingji therefore had to endure much agony and suffering, bitterly awaiting her opportunity.

Unfortunately Ouyang Ting had one fearsome habit. He would never fall asleep with another person. Although they were husband and wife, she never knew where he slept.

At this point, Xiao Yu’er’s eyes darted over to the bearded man. He remarked, “I bet this rascal must be Ouyang Ting.”

Jiang Yulang sighed: “This man must truly be a hero of his time. Even though Fang Lingji hated him to the bone, you can read between the lines. Despite herself, she did grudgingly admire him.”

Xiao Yu’er teased him: “Oh, give it time, and eventually you too will become an Ouyang Ting.”

Not daring to respond to that, Jiang Yulang changed the subject. “The odd thing is, since this Ouyang Ting had such a great reputation and influence, why did he need to construct this underground palace? What drove him to spend the rest of his life hiding from the light of day?”

“Well, read on, and no doubt you’ll find out,” Xiao Yu’er said.

They continued to read.

She had written: [To build this underground palace, you could say Ouyang Ting spared no expense or effort. He took three months to plan and oversee the construction(?).

Next, by methods unknown to me, he lured the top five martial artists in wulin to his palace. He claimed that he admired them, and together he wanted to create an earth-shattering set of martial arts, never seen before and that would never be surpassed. He told them that once they passed on this set of martial arts, they could, through this legacy, leave a name through the ages.

The words ‘Leave a name through the ages’, clearly rang through to their hearts. The five of them combined their accumulated wisdom and experience to explore the most complex mysteries within martial arts.

But none of them had imagined that the moment of their success would also mark their execution date.]

She had written this description of it: [Once we settled into the ‘Diling Palace’, he no longer slept alone. Because he had no suspicions toward me whatsoever, he could never have imagined that I was, in reality, his sworn foe. Although I did have chances to kill him, I did not make my move, because I still had to wait.

He had another ambition. In the records and annals of wulin, from ancient times to now, there have been many ephemeral heroes, valiant though they were. But never has there been one person whose martial arts could truly dominate all others. He wished to be a hero with an everlasting name, ‘never seen before, and never to be surpassed’!

It was a shame that those five experts known throughout wulin as ‘the Five Ultimates of Heaven and Earth’, would be sacrificed on the altar of his ambition. Each of them had their own weak points, and taking advantage of someone’s weak points was precisely Ouyang Ting’s specialty. The five of them would never have fallen for his plan, if it weren’t for the fact that he had the noble air and reputation of a true hero.

He had long ago crafted a plan to murder them all. Although I did not know the details of it, Ouyang Ting’s schemes have always been seamless. I had a mind to expose his vile plot, but I could find no evidence. If I voiced my accusations, no one would believe me. Thus I had to be careful.

But I also had long ago made my own preparations to kill him. I only waited for him to succeed in his plan.

At this moment, the date of his success is fast approaching, he will soon reach the pinnacle of what no one before him has achieved.

And now…there is a cup of poisoned wine awaiting him, to be drunk for our celebratory toast…]

It appeared that Xiao Yu’er’s eyes were slightly wet. Suddenly he flung the book far away from himself. He cried: “Why did she have to write these things down and make others suffer by reading them? Women…oh d*mned women!”

Jiang Yulang seemed to be in a daze, and mumbled: “… ‘pinnacle of what no one has achieved’… ‘never seen before, and never to be surpassed’…ai, what a shame, a real pity!”

Gazing at Ouyang Ting’s body, Xiao Yu’er said, “After he killed the ‘Five Ultimates’, he was just settling down for a drink with his beloved wife. Little did he know that the wine meant for toasting his success was actually laced with poison….ha ha, amusing, what a laugh!”

“That Fang Lingji was quite an impressive character as well…only, after avenging herself, why did she then follow him in death?” Jiang Yulang wondered with a sigh.

Xiao Yu’er eased into a long stretch at the waist. He replied, “I’ve already told you, the hearts of women are the hardest to fathom. Whoever wastes his efforts to guess at their inner thoughts, is a madman if not an idiot. Ai…women…”

Jiang Yulang mused, “She could not avoid killing him. But afterwards, her heart was also in agony, and she could only join him in death. She had not thought of how she would live her life alone.”

With a long sigh, he went on slowly: “Fang Lingji and Ouyang Ting, they are rather like Xi Shi and the king of Wu. (5) Ai, rivalry between nations, or romantic love, which should be more important? I’m afraid not many people would be able to tell.”

Peering at him, Xiao Yu’er suddenly smiled. He joked, “Sometimes you are really strange; I wonder if you are a man or a woman?”

Jiang Yulang broke into startled laughter: “What, you don’t know if I’m a man or a woman?”

Xiao Yu’er observed: “Sometimes you are cruel and vicious, you would hurt even your own family. At other times you would become melancholic, or full of sympathy. Men are rarely like this. Only a woman’s heart can change so quickly from moment to moment, and from one extreme of passion to another.”

He added, laughing loudly, “If I didn’t hear Xiao Mimi call you ‘little pervert’ with my own ears, I would really think you were a girl disguised as a man.”

End of Chapter 33

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