Chapter 35 ~~ Juedai Shuangjiao/ Legendary Siblings / Handsome Siblings / The Proud Twins

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The Legendary Siblings Chapter 35

The servant got up, and patted his clothes in demonstration. He repeated, “So whenever this lowly one goes out of doors, he has not a single button on his body, from head to toe.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang was stunned into silence. Wang Yizhua, Qiu Qingpo and the others, looking on, wanted desperately to laugh, and yet could not. If Xiao Yu’er had not forcibly controlled himself, his belly would have exploded in laughter by now.

A pause. Suddenly Xuanyuan Sanguang’s laughter rumbled loudly: “I guess it’s your lucky day, you son of a turtle. Get out of here, and be a big boss!”

The servant bowed to him and smiled: “The lowly one is called Wang Dali. In future, if my lord should be in the city, please don’t forgot to visit my shops. I will be certain to properly play the role of host.” He raised his fists in farewell to the others, then walked away, laughing.

Chuckling, Xuanyuan Sanguang muttered, “Wang Dali, you son of a turtle, you really haven’t got a single button from head to toe…” In the blink of an eye, he had won incredible riches, and then just as quickly had entirely lost them. Yet he seemed not in the least concerned, and in fact looked quite amused.

Abruptly, Qiu Qingpo’s entire body stiffened up most unnaturally. Of course this was because Xuanyuan Sanguang’s gaze was now upon him. Slowly his face began to blanch.

Qiu Qingpo said loudly, “If you want to gamble, I can certainly join you. Otherwise…”

Xuanyuan Sanguang cut him off with a laugh: “That’s right. Young master Qiu, of course you have been raised knowing the best ways to eat and drink well, womanize and gamble. What do you want to play? The choice of game is yours, your old man will definitely play. However, I will choose the stakes!”

With a smile, Qiu Qingpo said, “I only hope you will not raise the stakes too high. As you just said, I am an expert in food and wine, women and certainly gambling. You may not necessarily win.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang burst into loud laughter. “You son of a turtle, trying to bluff your old man! Your old man started gambling at the age of six. No matter what the game, your old man will be at least more skilled than you.”

Qiu Qingpo said coldly: “Every game can be rigged, except for one.”

“And which game would that be?” Xuanyuan Sanguang asked.

Qiu Qingpo replied, “There are gold ingots in the embroidered pouch at my waist. Is the number odd or even?”

Tearing off another chicken leg, Xuanyuan Sanguang casually mentioned while chewing: “I hear that your wife is the prettiest woman throughout the whole of Suzhou.”

With that sentence, Qiu Qingpo’s entire expression changed. His voice cracked: “You…what do you want?”

“I’m going to bet with you on your wife,” Xuanyuan Sanguang said. “If you lose, your wife goes to me. If your old man loses, I will give you mine. All three wives would be yours; I think you’re getting the better odds.”

Qiu Qingpo’s face was now the colour of cold ashes. He whispered: “You…you’re mad…”

With a wide grin, Xuanyuan Sanguang said, “Oh no, your old man is most lucid!”

Qiu Qingpo shouted, “I refuse. This will never happen.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang reminded him: “You decided how we would gamble. At this point you have no choice. Anyway, I may not necessarily win, right?”

Qiu Qingpo drew himself to his full height. Tremors shot through his whole body. If he really did forfeit his wife in a bet, he would never be able to face his friends and relatives.

Having been born and raised in upper class society, this was not the sort of face he could afford to lose.

Slowly, Xuanyuan Sanguang said: “Your old man wants to bet now. The number of gold ingots inside is…”

“Wait!” Qiu Qingpo screamed wildly.

“What for?” Xuanyuan Sanguang asked.

“Must you force everyone to gamble with you?” Qiu Qingpo yelled.

Laughing, Xuanyuan Sanguang said, “Upon meeting the ‘Devil Gambler’, you must gamble, even against your wishes.”

“But there is one kind of person you will never be able to coerce,” Qiu Qingpo declared with a mocking laugh.

“Oh? And who would that be?” Xuanyuan Sanguang asked.

“A dead person!” Qiu Qingpo cried. With a sudden flip of the palm, he struck down at his own ‘Tianling’ acupoint.

Killing yourself in order to avoid losing your wife, this was certainly a surprise to everyone. The scions of the upper classes, who could know what they were thinking sometimes? Who could comprehend it?

Xuanyuan Sanguang was naturally stunned. His chicken leg fell unnoticed onto the altar. Right now he only had eyes for Qiu Qingpo’s dead body. Of course he would not be keeping an eye on Wang Yizhua. But Xiao Yu’er watched as Wang Yizhua and Sun Tiannan caught each others’ eye. Perhaps Qiu Qingpo’s death had suddenly kindled their courage.

Without warning, the two of them flew up into the air, towards Xuanyuan Sanguang.

Xiao Yu’er had a clear view, and saw how swiftly they advanced, and how ruthlessly they attacked. Wang Yizhua’s two hands appeared to have become black through and through.

He made no preamble, since they obviously wanted to take Xuanyuan Sanguang by surprise.

To Xiao Yu’er’s mind, there weren’t many people in the world who could avoid an all-out attack by the two of them. In fact you could say there were only a few.

If you asked Jiang Yulang, he’d say Xuanyuan Sanguang was in mortal danger.

They heard Xuanyuan Sanguang roar in fury. Two fists flailed out.

They could not see what moves he used. With a “ping, ping” sound, Wang Yizhua and Sun Tiannan went flying backwards.

Using only two casual punches, he managed to neutralize two martial arts experts. Their vicious techniques were useless against him.

Xiao Yu’er sucked in a cold breath. He had seen Sun Tiannan fly out the window like a kite whose string had suddenly snapped. He fell to the ground some distance away.

And he had seen Wang Yizhua do a flip in the air, and float to the ground. Surprisingly, he was still standing. His normally withered face, however, was now even more frightening to behold.

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed in admiration: “Well well, you son of a turtle, you’re pretty good.”

“Hmph,” said Wang Yizhua.

“Now are you going to gamble, or not?” Xuanyuan Sanguang said.

Gritting his teeth, Wang Yizhua muttered: “Yes!”

Xuanyuan Sanguang proposed: “Your old man is betting that all of Sun Tiannan’s ribs are broken. If there is a single one left intact, I lose. You may take my head!”

Wang Yizhua said, “Mmm.”

“And, your old man is also betting that he can kill you with a single fist,” Xuanyuan Sanguang went on. “If you survive, you can use your d*mned claws on my throat any way you want. Carve out a few holes, I don’t care.”

Wang Yizhua was silent for a moment. Then his lips cracked into a bitter smile. He said: “I have lost!”

During this short dialogue, even the brief words he had uttered had used his remaining energy(?). With that last phrase, a spray of fresh blood burst from his throat. His body toppled to the ground.

Jiang Yulang’s feet and hands were cold as ice. He saw the dirt-covered feet on the altar slowly get up and walk away. Then the person’s back appeared.

Xuanyuan Sanguang was dressed in ragged and tattered clothes. His body was tall and huge; one shoulder was fat enough to be the size of two normal ones. His head was also twice the normal size.

They heard him mutter to himself: “What a shame. I never intended to take lives today, but those sons of turtles forced me to kill them. All I wanted was to gamble, and they couldn’t even humour me that much.”

He picked up his wine gourd and shuffled outside. At the door, he slowly stretched out his waist and sighed. He said, “These days, people who gamble like that Wang Dali are becoming rare indeed…”

Only now did Xiao Yu’er dare to release his held breath. He stuck out his tongue and said: “That old devil’s martial arts are incredible.”

“Shouldn’t we get out of here as fast as possible?” Jiang Yulang said.

Xiao Yu’er snickered while doing an impression: “Bastard, we’d be sons of turtles if we didn’t.” He had already picked up these two obscenities so quickly. When you learn a foreign language, the words you learn fastest are the ones used to curse people.

With a heave and a lift, they eventually got rid of the stone cover over their heads, and wriggled out into the open. At this point they could see that the deity being worshipped was Zhao Xuantan (1).

Xiao Yu’er casually scooped up the chicken, and laughed as he chewed: “Too bad we couldn’t see the Devil Gambler’s face, I wonder if he looked like Lord Zhao. Perhaps he’s a bit darker though.”

Jiang Yulang pleaded, “I beg you, let’s just leave.”

“So you would prefer to catch up to him then?” joked Xiao Yu’er. Jiang Yulang, after a moment, realized his point, and sighed.

Xiao Yu’er said, “Ah, chicken, mmm…if you don’t finish it, you may as well not eat it.” (?)

He noticed that Jiang Yulang’s eyes had suddenly gone rigid. He turned his head and there before him was ‘Whom He Sees, He Gambles With’, ‘Devil Gambler’ Xuanyuan Sanguang.

His face was grey like tin, and a beard flowed over his whole chest. His eyebrows were like two bristling brushes, and his eyes resembled a copper bell(?). He only had one eye left, in fact. The left eye was covered by a black patch, which gave him an air of courage. His menacing appearance only added to his mysterious charisma.

At this moment that remaining eye was locked on Xiao Yu’er.

Xiao Yu’er’s face cracked into a smile. He gave a laugh or two before commenting: “This chicken tastes pretty good. It’s a pity there’s no wine to go with it.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang’s eye gleamed, as if he were amused. He actually shoved his unusually large wine gourd over to Xiao Yu’er and with a chuckle, said: “This wine’s quite good.”

Xiao Yu’er tipped his head back and with a ‘gu du gu du’ sound, swallowed ten gulps of wine in a single breath. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Remarkably, his expression had not changed at all- indeed, he merely smiled and said, “You call this bland stuff ‘good’? You must think I’m a kid.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed: “You little devil, you amuse me. Where did you come from?”

Winking at him, Xiao Yu’er said: “Where? Of course I climbed in through the window.”

“Sneaking in through the window to steal my chicken, and you admit this so boldly?” Xuanyuan Sanguang said in disbelief.

Xiao Yu’er quipped: “If a dead person can fly out through the window, why can’t a live one climb in through it?”

Xuanyuan Sanguang’s expression became serious and he said: “You must have been here for a while then?”

“And why not?” Xiao Yu’er laughed.

Xuanyuan Sanguang opened his eyes and fixed Xiao Yu’er with a stare. He said sternly: “Such a young child, what are you doing here in these forsaken mountains?”

“What else?” Xiao Yu’er said calmly. “To find a gambling partner, of course!”

Still Xuanyuan Sanguang stared at him. Finally he laughed ‘ha ha’- and said, “Interesting, most amusing…” He grabbed the wine gourd from Xiao Yu’er’s hand. ‘gu du gu du’- he also drained ten mouthfuls in one go.

Xiao Yu’er used both his hands to snatch the gourd back. He then took another dozen swallows or so. He laughingly chided, “Don’t be so stingy; wine and smokes are meant to be shared.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang’s eyes flashed again with amusement. He grinned: “You little devil, you really aren’t afraid of me?”

Xiao Yu’er also looked at him. With bared teeth he laughed: “Bastard, I don’t have any wine shops, nor any wives to lose to you. The worst that could happen is I lose my head to you. What’s to be scared of?”

“You dare to bet your head with your old man?” Xuanyuan Sanguang burst into loud laughter.

“Why wouldn’t I dare to?” Xiao Yu’er answered. “However…I wouldn’t want your head. It’s too big for me. I can’t fit it in my mouth, and it’s too heavy for me to carry.”

A voice slowly said, “I will take his head!”

It was as if this person’s voice had sliced through Xuanyuan Sanguang’s laughter like a knife. Involuntarily Xiao Yu’er’s eyes widened, and he stayed silent.

Although the words were spoken slowly, and only five had been spoken thus far, they were enough to reveal the speaker as a strong and powerful presence.(?)

With his back to the door, Xuanyuan Sanguang still had not turned around. This was because he had felt a deadly aura emanating from this person. If he moved, he would lose the chance to strike first!

The only thing he did was to say slowly: “And who dares to seek Xuanyuan Sanguang’s head? As long as the seeker is a real hero, a true man, I would be more than willing to give my head to them!”

The speaker slowly replied: “Xuanyuan Sanguang is truly a straightforward man!” A Taoist with dark black hair, wearing white stockings and blue robe stepped out. His right hand tightly gripped a sword that hung from his left waist. The blade was already unsheathed four inches!

These mere four inches of metal were already enough to impress one with the deadliness of the weapon!

Xuanyuan Sanguang said loudly, “You would be the leader of the Emei sect?”

Xiao Yu’er, of course, instantly recognized the man in the blue robe as Reverend Shenxi. But Xuanyuan Sanguang hadn’t even turned his head around, how was he able to identify the speaker?

Did the ‘Devil Gambler’ have a pair of eyes in the back of his head?

Reverend Shenxi also seemed to be surprised, and said heavily: “And how do you know me?”

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed loudly: “If not the leader of the sect, who could have a sword with such a deadly aura!”

Reverend Shenxi said slowly, “Xuanyuan Sanguang, you’re quite impressive!”

Xuanyuan Sanguang’s laughter stopped immediately. He said, “However, Reverend, don’t you think that entering here with your sword already unsheathed is beneath your dignity as the leader of an entire sect?”

Reverend Shenxi did not change expression, and merely replied, “When facing the famed Xuanyuan Sanguang, I have to be careful to the utmost of my ability.”

“Well then, it appears that you are set on having my head!” Xuanyuan Sanguang declared.

“This is a sacred area of the Emei sect,” Reverend Shenxi explained sternly. “Anyone who commits murder here must pay with their life.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed wildly and echoed: “ ‘Anyone who commits murder here must pay with their life’! Quite the edict. Do you, Reverend, honestly expect me to lay down my life for that bunch of riffraff and scum?”

The reverend reiterated, “I am not here to seek revenge for any particular person. But the responsibility of defending this mountain cannot be shirked.”

“Very well,” Xuanyuan Sanguang roared loudly. “My head is right here, only I’m not sure that the Reverend will be able to claim it so easily!”

Reverend Shenxi countered, “You have loved to gamble all your life, Xuanyuan Sanguang, and have won the heads of many people. The idea of losing your own head to me this time should hardly be disturbing to you.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang started chuckling: “I take it then, that you are proposing a bet, Reverend!”

“Your guess is correct,” was the reply.

Xiao Yu’er looked at the Reverend. He noticed the blue robe, so washed and faded that it was almost white. He saw the thin figure standing erect, the gnarled and slim fingers tightly gripping his sword.

And he saw Xuanyuan Sanguang standing there, not daring to turn around. Because of this person. What an impressive aura and heroic air!

Xiao Yu’er thought to himself: [I may be the world’s most intelligent man. But even if I were a hundred times smarter than him, could I instill such fear and awe in other people? It seems that I should properly hone my martial arts, otherwise I will never, in my lifetime, be as inspiring and glorious a figure.]

Such an impressive aura in a famed martial arts expert, was truly worthy of admiration. Even the words he spoke would carry much more weight compared to an ordinary person.

As soon as the four words ‘Your guess is correct’ were spoken, not a trace of a smile could be seen on Xuanyuan Sanguang’s face. He said belligerently, “And how shall we gamble?”

“We are both from the world of wulin,” Reverend Shenxi answered. “What could be more natural than gambling on our martial arts!”

Xuanyuan Sanguang gave a strange laugh, as if surprised: “If we fight, how could that still be considered gambling?”

Reverend Shenxi responded, “We play the game with our bodies. Our lives are the stakes. Of all the grand gambles in the world, what could compare to this? How could you say this is not gambling?”

“Fine!” Xuanyuan Sanguang cried loudly. “Now what will you bet against my head?”

“My own, of course.”

“That won’t work,” Xuanyuan Sanguang said. “That would be too much to your advantage.”

Reverend Shenxi said coldly, “I have entered the priesthood since I was six. At present I am the head of the Emei sect, one of the Famed Seven Sword schools. Under the aegis of my sect, there are three generations of disciples, which total two thousand seven hundred and thirty two people. When the leader’s bronze talisman is displayed, not only must the disciples of my sect obey it, but even members of other sects will respect and acknowledge it.”

His voice was stern, and he went on, “You are saying that a head like this, is not worth betting against yours?”

Xuanyuan Sanguang argued: “Your head is perfectly good. Unfortunately it is useless to me. On the other hand if you capture my head, you gain more glory for the Emei sect, as well as strengthening your own personal reputation!”

He let out a booming laugh: “As you can see, I have too much to lose, and nothing to gain. This kind of bet, I will not make.”

Reverend Shenxi laughed coldly: “I am afraid that the decision is no longer yours.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang responded with a laugh of his own: “Those words I have spoken to many people, countless times. I did not think that today I would hear them thrown back at me. The only thing is, you might want my head, but I don’t want yours. What if I just escape?”

“You believe that you have the ability?” Reverend Shenxi asked.

“Why can’t I?” Xuanyuan Sanguang shot back.

A pause. Then the Reverend said slowly, “What do you want?”

“Unless you can propose a forfeit that can match my head, I will not gamble with you.” Xuanyuan Sanguang stated.

Reverend Shenxi mused: “In all the world, what kind of object could be worth Xuanyuan Sanguang’s head?”

Xuanyuan Sanguang said slowly, “I admit, there wouldn’t be many. However, by your side, there is one that could grudgingly be counted.”

Something faintly flickered across Reverend Shenxi’s face. He said, “What could that be?”

“The sect leader’s bronze talisman!”

“The leader’s bronze talisman?” Reverend Shenxi repeated in disbelief.

“Precisely,” Xuanyuan Sanguang confirmed. “If you beat me, feel free to decapitate me. If I defeat you, I will spare you your life, but I will amuse myself in the role of the Emei sect leader.”

The Reverend’s expression became deadly serious. He said slowly, “Other than this…”

Xuanyuan Sanguang cut him off: “Other than this, I can accept nothing. However, I am willing to grant you another concession.”

“What is that?” Reverend Shenxi asked.

Xuanyuan Sanguang said, “I will stand here as I am. I will permit you three strokes of the sword. If, within three strokes, you injure me, I will admit defeat. If my feet leave the ground, or I shift position, I also lose.”

Never could Xiao Yu’er have guessed that he would make such an arrogant wager. He racked his brains, yet still, he could only conclude that there was not a shred of hope with these kind of odds.

To stand there with feet motionless, was equivalent to becoming a wooden statue. Reverend Shenxi had been the leader of Emei, a sect prominent in sword arts, for thirty years. Beneath his blade, even a bird in flight could hardly escape.

How could he miss this wooden statue with his sword?

Xiao Yu’er chuckled to himself: [To propose this kind of a bet, the ‘Devil Gambler’ must have taken the wrong medicine.]

But Reverend Shenxi did not say a word, as if in deep thought. A silence, then he said, “You would not lift a hand in retaliation?”

“Of course not!” Xuanyuan Sanguang sneered coldly.

Up until this point, the Reverend’s expression had been exceedingly grim. Now finally he allowed the ghost of a smile to flash across his face. Loudly he declared: “Then yes, I will take this gamble!”

Xuanyuan Sanguang asked, “Where is your bronze talisman?”

Reverend Shenxi thought a bit, then said: “The bronze talisman is here at my waist. Might I trouble the little fellow here to bring it to him for a look?” (2)

His words were obviously directed at Xiao Yu’er. The Reverend had been gathering his strength for quite a while now, like an arrow on the bowstring, tensed for release. If he relaxed his hands to take out the bronze talisman, his strength would dissipate.

Furthermore, if he loosened his hand which was grasping his sword, and if Xuanyuan Sanguang turned around at that moment, the situation could change dangerously.

Xuanyuan Sanguang let out a knowing laugh: “Reverend Shenxi is indeed brilliant. But this little devil is very tricky, are you sure you trust him?”

Reverend Shenxi responded sternly, “This little fellow may be of tender years now, but in future he will gain much glory for wulin, and his achievements will be unmatched. Such a person, his desire would hardly be moved by a mere trinket.”

Despite himself, Xiao Yu’er could not help laughing: “To run a little errand for the Reverend is nothing; I hardly deserve such praise.”

Although these words flowed from his lips, in reality his heart involuntarily filled with satisfaction. At once he darted over from behind Reverend Shenxi, and detached the bronze talisman from his waist.

Reverend Shenxi said earnestly: “Please keep it safe.”

Xiao Yu’er replied with a smile: “Rest assured, Reverend. I won’t even bother giving him a peek, since it won’t be his anyway.”

Chortling loudly, Xuanyuan Sanguang teased: “Now that you’ve lapped up someone else’s flattery, you’re going to curse me?”

Xiao Yu’er joked back: “Well you’re going to lose for sure. Whether I curse you or not will make no difference.”

“Well then,” Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed coldly, “I’m afraid that you’ll be disappointed.”

Reverend Shenxi cut in: “Have you prepared yourself?”

“I was ready before you even entered the doorway,” Xuanyuan Sanguang retorted.

“Since that is the case, I will strike now!”

As the words were uttered, everything else fell suddenly silent. Even the sounds of breathing were inaudible. The only sound that each person could hear was the wild cadence of his own heart. With a clear ring, Reverend Shenxi drew his sword from its sheath.

Xuanyuan Sanguang’s back was still facing his opponent, as if his body were an immovable mountain.

Reverend Shenxi took three steady breaths. The edge of his blade quivered. Then suddenly, in a streak of green light, he thrust his sword forward.

This stroke was aimed towards the ‘Mingmen’ acupoint on the vertebra between the two hips. This was Xuanyuan Sanguang’s center of balance! (?)

No matter how Xuanyuan Sanguang tried to dodge, his body would have to lean back. By using this sword move, Reverend Shenxi was not intending to injure, but merely wanted to throw Xuanyuan Sanguang off balance.

In this way, he would have the upper hand in the next stroke.

Xiao Yu’er thought to himself: [The techniques of an expert are truly admirable. It would be far beneath his dignity if he had tried to harm Xuanyuan Sanguang with the very first move!]

He saw Xuanyuan Sanguang’s waist twist, and half his body rotated. His stomach retracted sharply, and the sword slid across the surface of his belly as it thrust past him.

But as the power of this stroke had not yet been released, its strength was yet to come. (?)

Reverend Shenxi did not wait for the stroke to decay (?), but instead with a flick of his wrist, it turned from a stabbing to a slicing move. The sword swept toward Xuanyuan Sanguang’s chest.

The change of stroke was without flaw. Xiao Yu’er could not help shaking his head. It appeared that there was no way Xuanyuan Sanguang could avoid this second strike.

But who could have guessed- Xuanyuan Sanguang’s waist suddenly seemed to have snapped. His lower body looked as if it had sprouted root and was fixed to the ground. His upper body bent sharply backward and plummeted downward.

His entire body resembled a stick of sugar cane that had been bent into two halves. As before, Reverend Shenxi’s sword thrust past into thin air, narrowly missing his face.

What a daring and risky move! Brilliant!

Xiao Yu’er very nearly burst into applause. He could never have imagined that the giant Xuanyuan Sanguang could have cultivated such amazing flexibility arts!

Reverend Shenxi smiled faintly, and the edge of his blade twisted slightly. The sword swept back across like lightning, to aim at Xuanyuan Sanguang’s left kneecap.

This time the evolution of his swordplay was even faster than before. In the blink of an eye, the three strokes were now complete. They were so seamless, it appeared that Reverend Shenxi had already known beforehand what tactics Xuanyuan Sanguang would employ!

Although Xuanyuan Sanguang’s second evasive maneuver had been superb, he looked as if he now had come to a dead end. He had reached the limit of what his body could contort and adapt to- he could improvise no further.

Furthermore, willing or not, he would have leap up to avoid this stroke. Whether by being hit or by raising his feet from the ground, he would still lose. His earlier stipulation made his loss inevitable.

Xiao Yu’er thought: [Oh Devil Gambler, I believe this time your head is certainly forfeit.]

Unexpectedly however, even before his thought was complete, Xuanyuan Sanguang, his body twisting like a towel, released his position and came hurtling back the other way. Where originally he was facing upwards, now he faced downwards and, stretching his jaws wide open, clamped down on Reverend Shenxi’s sword-wielding hand with a single bite.

The Reverend could never have dreamed of such a technique. The bite on his hand was painful beyond words. His grip on his sword faltered, and with a “dong” it fell to the ground.

With a wild cackle, Xuanyuan Sanguang declared: “You lose!”

Xiao Yu’er was rooted to the spot with astonishment. Reverend Shenxi’s face was the colour of dead ashes. He stood there for quite a while stunned, then stuttered: “This…what kind of move is this? In all the world, no matter what sect or school, their martial arts would never contain a move like this.”

Laughing, Xuanyuan Sanguang shot back: “The moves themselves are dead. The practitioners are the ones who breathe life into the martial arts; why should a living man limit himself to lifeless techniques?”

“But you promised not to strike back!”

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed even louder. “I promised to not lift a hand in retaliation. I was true to my word- I never said I wouldn’t retaliate with my mouth!” (3)

A pause. Finally, with a bitter smile, Reverend Shenxi conceded: “Then, this lowly priest has indeed lost…”

Xuanyuan Sanguang spread open his palm and grinned: “Then hand over the bronze talisman.”

“At this moment the bronze talisman still cannot be considered yours,” Xiao Yu’er cut in with a flat voice.

Laughing fiercely, Xuanyuan Sanguang asked, “Little devil, what do you want?”

Xiao Yu’er said with a smile, “Aren’t you called ‘Whom He Sees, He Gambles With’? Why not have a gamble with me? If you win, not only will the bronze talisman be yours, but you will also have my person. If you lose, then the bronze talisman comes to me.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed: “You also want to bet with me?”

“Precisely.”

“And you want to use yourself as a gambling chip to bet against this bronze talisman?”

“Do you dare to gamble with me?” Xiao Yu’er challenged him.

Puzzled, Xuanyuan Sanguang asked, “How does it benefit me to win you as a forfeit?”

“Of course it benefits you, in many ways!” Xiao Yu’er exclaimed. “You couldn’t even count them all. When you’re bored, I can find people to gamble with you. When you’ve run out of drink, I can con some wine for you to enjoy. If you win me as a prize, I guarantee you will never have any lack.”

Amused, Xuanyuan Sanguang chortled: “Having a little Devil Gambler to go with this old Devil Gambler, might not be a bad thing, after all.”

“So you’ll bet with me then?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

Xuanyuan Sanguang said, “How do you want to play?”

Smiling, Xiao Yu’er said, “I set the stakes. I think you should decide how we’ll bet.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang rubbed his hands together: “Very well, this is interesting…”

Xiao Yu’er stroked the buttons on his clothes with one hand, while joking: “Did you wish to bet on how many buttons I have on my body?”

His eyes alight, Xuanyuan Sanguang suddenly cried: “I’ve got it, we’ll bet on how many scars you bear on your body!”

Jiang Yulang inwardly sighed, and mused aloud: “Xiao Yu’er, this time I really think you’re finished.”

Although his heart was definitely pleased at this, despite himself, he somehow felt a hint of unease as well. No matter what, Xiao Yu’er had been a true friend through hardships, through life and death.

Standing to one side, the Reverend Shenxi definitely felt much worse.

The top of Xiao Yu’er’s robe was open, and you could see that although his face had scars, the rest of his body had even more. Most of them were the handiwork of lions and tigers, acquired in his childhood. A small number were from sword wounds. Had you let him strip naked, and count them himself, even Xiao Yu’er might not be able to tally them accurately.

Xuanyuan Sanguang never bet on things that had less than a nine-tenths chance of success. (?)

Xiao Yu’er was still standing in shock. He stammered: “You-you really want to bet on my scars?”

“But of course.” Xuanyuan Sanguang laughed loudly.

“Fine,” Xiao Yu’er answered. “Then let me tell you, on my body there are one hundred scars.”

“Exactly one hundred?” Xuanyuan Sanguang repeated in disbelief.

“You heard me,” Xiao Yu’er confirmed. “Not one more, not one less.”

By his confident and prompt response, it seemed as if he was utterly sure of himself. Not only had Xuanyuan Sanguang’s expression changed, but Jiang Yulang was also extremely surprised. Was it possible that the little devil-spawn really knew the true number of scars on his body?

Xuanyuan Sanguang was silent for a while. Then he gave an odd chuckle: “All right then, take off your clothes and let me look.”

And Xiao Yu’er did indeed strip naked and permit him to count. In fact he picked up a dagger and began to count along with Xuanyuan Sanguang.

Abruptly Xuanyuan Sanguang broke into a thundering laugh: “Ninety…your body only has ninety-one scars. You lose!”

“Oh?” Xiao Yu’er said. “Really, only ninety-one? I don’t think so.”

As he spoke, the dagger in his hand flashed around his skin to carve nine more wounds! Although the cuts were superficial, fresh blood still seeped out all around his body.

“What’s this supposed to mean?” Xuanyuan Sanguang asked, startled.

With a straight face, Xiao Yu’er declared, “It means you lose.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang roared: “Bullsh*t, you…”

Grinning, Xiao Yu’er cut him off: “Ninety-one old scars, plus nine new ones, that adds up to one hundred exactly, you have most definitely lost.”

Xuanyuan Sanguang scowled: “How is that supposed to count?”

Laughing gleefully, Xiao Yu’er retorted: “Why not? You bet only on the number of scars on my body. You did not specify whether the scars could be old or new. Are you thinking of reneging?”

A stunned silence. Suddenly Xuanyuan Sanguang joined him in laughter: “Clever, very clever. Little devil, you are amusing indeed…all right, I will concede my loss.”

He turned around and beckoned to Reverend Shenxi, laughing: “Come over here, aren’t you going to pay your respects to the new leader of your sect?”

Naturally, Reverend Shenxi was feeling hopelessly miserable at this point, but he still managed to force a smile and say: “Emei is an old sect and in danger of stagnation. A young new hero is just what it needs as a leader. This lowly priest is old; I should have given up my post to a more qualified person a long time ago.”

Smiling, Xiao Yu’er asked: “Do you truly wish me to become sect leader?”

The Reverend’s long beard swayed gently in the breeze. He said slowly, “For the bronze talisman to be in your hands, is the fortune of Emei. This lowly priest…”

Before he had finished, an object unexpectedly dropped into his palm. It was indeed the sect leader’s talisman. He felt Xiao Yu’er’s gaze on him; the two eyes were shining with merriment. Xiao Yu’er laughed: “To be the Emei sect leader, I would have to become vegetarian, and would have to study scripture. I couldn’t stand it- I beg of you, don’t make me suffer, please take back this trinket of yours.”

Reverend Shenxi was both surprised and elated, he stammered: “But…but you…you have been so gracious, how could I possibly…”

Xiao Yu’er laughed aloud: “What is a talisman to me? My horizons are wide and my future lies ahead. I would hardly be moved by a mere trinket, isn’t this what you said earlier?”

Reverend Shenxi gripped the bronze talisman and looked at Xiao Yu’er. After quite some time, he bowed deeply and said: “In that case, I will take my leave.”

End of Chapter 35

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