Chapter 37 ~~ Juedai Shuangjiao/ Legendary Siblings / Handsome Siblings / The Proud Twins

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The Legendary Siblings Chapter 37

The boat made slow progress through the water. Xiao Yu’er kept asking throughout: “What is this place? And where are we now?”

After they passed Yunhan, Xiao Yu’er’s eyes grew larger, as if he were waiting for something exciting to happen. When the boat reached Jiangzhou, they made an early stop.

Xiao Yu’er smiled: “Don’t you think it’s a little too early to sleep now?”

Old man Shi made a “hmph” sound, but otherwise said nothing.

Smiling at him, Little Yun winked and said: “Ahead lies the Wu Gorge (1). Once night falls, it becomes impassable. That’s why we’re stopping here now- tomorrow we’ll be rested and able to cross.”

Xiao Yu’er replied: “Ah, so then we are also approaching the famed Twelve Peaks of Wushan? (2) As a child, when I heard the lines “The call of the monkeys sounding endlessly on both shores, the boat lightly gliding past ten thousand peaks’, (3) I always felt a strong wish to see this place for myself.”

Little Yun laughed prettily: “Beautiful lines of poetry indeed, but this place is hardly scenic. Even the slightest bit of carelessness could cause you to lose your life here. Especially now, those monkeys on both shores would be too scared to make any noise, I’m afraid.”

“Why?” Xiao Yu’er asked, curious.

Laughing again, Little Yun replied softly: “Some things, it is better that you not question too closely.”

Xiao Yu’er turned to gauge Jiang Yulang’s reaction to this, but Jiang Yulang had his head down, watching the river water flow past. Even though he appeared not to have heard Little Yun’s ominous remarks, his face was still very pale.

The next day, he was even paler. Xiao Yu’er knew that whenever Jiang Yulang was anxious about something, his face would grow white.

But what was he feeling anxious about? Was he worried that something bad would happen?

Old man Shi, with a stroke of his long bamboo pole, set the boat in motion. Little Yun changed into a set of green short sleeved shirt and pants. With her pant legs rolled up, her slender figure was shown off to advantage.

Xiao Yu’er watched her in amusement, but did not say a word. As they advanced, the river rushed about and flowed quickly. Yet the number of boats on the river had actually increased without warning.

Abruptly, Xiao Yu’er noticed that the other boats all displayed a strip of yellow silk on their masts. Upon noticing the approach of their boat, the people on the other boats would all shrink back and avoid eye contact.

Old man Shi appeared not to notice anything unusual, while Little Yun’s two huge eyes swept back and forth, looking here and there. She seemed to be quite excited.

As for Jiang Yulang, he would not even let Xiao Yu’er get a glimpse of his face.

Unexpectedly, from the shore there came the sound of someone sounding a blast from a conch shell. The echoes reverberated off the surrounding mountains and rolled off both shores.

Immediately ten or so boats were launched from either side of the river. Each craft had six or seven men aboard it. Each man had a yellow scarf encircling his head. Some carried curved sabers, others held spears, and some had long bamboo poles in their hands. They shouted and hollered as they rapidly approached.

Little Yun called out: “Grandfather, they are indeed coming.”

Without a change in expression, old man Shi said blandly, “I’ve known they were coming for a long time.”

Xiao Yu’er could not help admiring old man Shi for his composure under the circumstances.

He heard someone from the other boats shouting: “Surrender your lives, you cretins!” The armed men began to raise their weapons.

With a light laugh, Little Yun suddenly called out: “Don’t be nasty, here, why don’t you have some lotus seeds…”

She flicked her wrist. Two men at the front suddenly screamed in pain and dropped their spears. They clapped their hands over their faces; blood could be seen streaming from the spaces between their fingers.

The men began to shout: “Be careful, that b*tch has dangerous projectile weapons!”

Little Yun giggled: “Oh, you want some more seeds then? All right, here you go.”

Her pair of white and soft hands continued to flick. The seeds shot out at the other boats like a shower of rain. Only, this time, her projectiles were not dried lotus seeds, but instead were steel replicas.

They saw men all around them cry out in pain, one by one. Some were bleeding from their faces, while others had their weapons knocked from their hands. But still there were many men who were uninjured, and were now rushing forward.

During all this time, old man Shi had neither moved nor spoken. Suddenly he threw his head back and let out a wild howl. Such a piercing and clear sound, like a dragon or a phoenix calling out through the skies. Everyone felt as if their eardrums would split.

Meanwhile, he made a strong sweep of his bamboo pole, as fast and devastating as a thunderbolt flashing over the water. Three people closest to his pole were hurled backwards and landed far away on the rocks at the foot of the surrounding mountains.

A fourth person was about to leap onto the bow of their boat, when old man Shi made another thrust and skewered the attacker straight through his belly. The dozen or so onlookers did not dare to advance, as they listened to his agonized screams and saw the pole suspending the corpse, moist and dripping with fresh blood!

To see such a display of power from old man Shi, whom they presumed to be feeble and riddled with disease, was a shock not only to Xiao Yu’er. Jiang Yulang’s face had gone completely pasty white with fear, and his forehead was drenched in chilly sweat.

Old man Shi continued to howl. By now their boat had sailed right into the crowd of hostile craft. The sailors all mustered up their courage, and amid fierce cries, rushed toward their boat. Some dived into the water; likely intending to surround and capsize the boat.

“This is bad!” Xiao Yu’er thought to himself. Once the boat sunk, their outlook would be really gloomy indeed.

Right at that moment, a man dressed in yellow robe and scarf, with a beard grey as steel, called out. He thundered: “Stop! Stop right now!”

The dozen men halted their advance at once.

The stranger in yellow was standing atop a pile of boulders by the water’s edge. He reached down and yanked one of the swimmers from the depths of the water up to the surface. He slapped the swimmer seven or eight times, all the while furiously shouting: “Have all you morons gone blind? Did you not see clearly who this is on the boat? How dare you?!”

Old man Shi, with a light touch of his bamboo pole, was able to keep the boat motionless even amid the rapid and tumultuous flow of the river.

The stranger in yellow immediately bowed and smiled apologetically: “Truly, I was unaware that elder Shi and his grand-daughter were on this boat, otherwise we would never have dared to raise our hands! Along the Yangtze River, who could claim not to be a junior of elder Shi?”

Old man Shi coldly replied: “You are far too courteous, this old man does not deserve such formalities. I am becoming useless in my old age; of course this river is your territory. If you want to take this old man’s life, I can only surrender it to you.”

Beads of sweat streaked down the other man’s forehead like raindrops. He rapidly protested: “This lowly junior is blind and deserves to die. I had never even imagined that hero Shi would appear on these waters again, otherwise how could I dare to scavenge for food here?”

Old man Shi let out a mirthless snicker. “ ‘Scavenge for food’ may be too humble a description! Throughout jianghu, who would not know Wang Huafeng, whose ‘Nest Engulfs the River’? (4) Who has not heard of the huge deals and big business you do?”

Suddenly he glared and shouted,”There are only a few poor passengers in my boat. Isn’t it strange that you are targeting my boat? Or…did someone order you to do this?

All of a sudden Wang Huafeng, the Yellow Hornet’s brow dripped with cold sweat again. On the boat Jiang Yulang’s forehead was also wet with beads of perpiration.

“I beg for Elder Shi’s mercy, this lowly junior really does not know,” replied Wang Huafeng.

“I know that you are not telling the truth, however you have shown your respect, for this I am not going to make things difficult for you,” said Old Man Shi. Just with a push of the bamboo pole, the boat sped swiftly. Quickly the boat left the dangerous Wu Gorge.

While staring at the wind blown white beard of the old man, finally Jiang Yulang asked slowly,”You, you… are Elder…”

“Can you keep your mouth shut or not?”snapped Elder Shi.
Immediately Jiang Yulang complied and quickly lowered his glance.
Xiao Yu’er suddenly laughed and said,”Elder Shi, I’m curious to know who you are, I bet you are a respected elder in Jianghu. Yet you complied to be my boatman, not that I don’t appreciate it, but I am very curious.”

Jiang Yulang got scared hearing Xiao Yu’er bold statement. Elder Shi replied with a smile, “Don’t thank me, there’s no need for that.”

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said, “Then, whom should I thank? Maybe someone else asked you to take and protect me? You have a good heart, if my guess is right, please tell me the truth.”

Suddenly Elder Shi had a coughing fit that he had to squat down.

“You did not answer my question, that means that it’s true.” Xiao Yu’er laughed.

Suddenly Elder Shi stood up and glared at him, “You are still young, but your mouth is too sharp. What would happen when you grow up?”

Xiao Yu’er glared back, and retorted, “Whatever happen when I grew up is my own business. Don’t assume just because you helped me that I have to kowtow to you. Without your help, I still would survive, moreover did I ever asked you to help me?”

Elder Shi glared at him for a moment, suddenly he smiled and said, “I’ve never seen a kid like you in my life.”

“I’m one of a kind in this world,” agreed Xiao Yu’er. He looked away and thought,”This old man is no ordinary man, yet he was willing to take this lowly task as a boatman for me. Can’t imagine how much higher is the status of the person who asked him. That person always think about my well being. I wonder what’s the reason behind all these. If he’s able to order someone as highly skilled as Elder Shi, it is highly unlikely that the person would need my help.”

Xiao Yu’er hadn’t the slightest clue who that person behind the scene was . He looked at Jiang Yulang, who looked scared and didn’t dare to look directly at him. Xiao Yu’er laughed and said to him, “Didn’t your friend the Purple-faced Lion yesterday said that he would be in Hun han?

“If..if..if, I’m not mistaken, that’s what he said,” stuttered Yulang.

“Does he dare to cross the Wu Gorge with his boat knowing that there are pirates around? Or is it possible that he’s in cahoot with the pirates; isn’t it common for people from the escort company to have raport with the pirates?
Jiang Yulang wiped his sweat and said,”I…I’m not very clear about that.”

“Escortman in cahoot with the pirates, while you are friend with the escortman and told him to tell the pirates to block this boat. If it is not so, how come other boats were not stopped? And why were those pirates after my life and had no interest in goods? It’s obivous there’s nothing on this boat worth looting.”

Jiang Yulang’s body was drenched with cold sweat, he gave a weak grin and said,”Big brother, you are jesting with me.”

“Correct, I’m just jesting, you are laughing, right? Hahaha, isn’t that so amusing?” Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly as he lay down. As if talking to himself, he spoke aloud,”Yes, how strange and amusing that someone can be drenched with sweat when the weather is so refreshing and cool.”

On one corner Little Yun kept looking at Xiao Yu’er with a smile, she saw that his hair tousled by the wind and the sun gave the scars on his face a reddish glow.
Actually no one could say that Xiao Yu’er was handsome, but somehow people found him attactive.

Because of the current and wind, their boat arrived at Ijiang before sunset.
Ijiang is a village by the mouth of the river where three rivers meet, a place to restock for boats traveling between Sujwan and Ohpak. One could see all kind of sail masts and all kind of rackets could be heard.

After entering Ohpak, Jiang Yulang’s eyes lit up, he wanted to say something, but hesitated.

Staring at him, Xiao Yu’er smiled and suddenly he stood up and said,”Let’s go, we’ve been on the boat too long, I’m getting seasick.” Jiang Yulang immediately perked up upon hearing his suggestion.

“You…, you really want to go?” Little Yun asked. Her eyes didn’t shine bright anymore, instead they looked sad and hurt.

However, Xiao Yu’er didn’t pay any attention, he called out, “Elder Shi, thanks a lot for bringing us here. Please bring the boat closer to the shore. Although you were a little arrogant and pretended to be old, you are a good person and I will always remember you.”

“Have you considered your decision thoroughly? You really want to get off here?” asked Elder Shi.

Xiao Yu’er laughed and said,”Other people might run away from danger, but there are people that live to feel the excitement of danger. When things are peaceful and quiet, it would be down right boring for them.”

Elder Shi stared at the young man for a long while, finally with a laugh he replied, “Very well, you may go, if you get out alive you can visit me at…”
“No need to tell me where you live, you don’t even need to tell me your name,” Xiao Yu’er quickly said while shaking his hand. “because I’m not going to look for you, and I have no intention to use your name to scare people off.”

Little Yun looking upset, biting her lip she said, “You are the most ungrateful creature in this world!”

“Is that so? If that’s correct, then I’m the most fortunate person,” said Xiao Yu’er laughing.

“You….you…” suddenly Little Yun stamped her foot and went inside the cabin of the boat.

The boat started to get close to the river bank, and Jiang Yulang started to look left and right.

“Oh well, if you want to meet with danger, go ahead and go. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.” Elder Shi spoke.

By the bank of the river, the village was full of commotion, people moving back and forth without stopping. There were people elegantly dressed, there were also beggars and coolies dressed in rags. There were people with beaming faces, and people with long faces. There were people getting on the boats and some getting off the boats. People yelling and cursing. A port is a port, anywhere was just the same, chaotic, full with people from different places.

The air was filled the smell of chicken’s and goat’s poop, the smell of rotten wood, the smell of varnish, smell of sweet aroma of tea leaves and the pungent smell of herbal medicines, and in addition the smell of alcohol from drunkards, and also the sweet smelling of jasmine flower from the ladies hair. That was the typical situation of a port.

Being a country boy, Xiao Yu’er was rather confused being in the middle of such a commotion. He looked at one thing and watched another interesting thing, in the midst of bustle he felt so happy.

Jiang Yulang did not stay still either, his neck kept turning left and right as if searching for someone.

“Who are you looking for? asked Xiao Yu’er.

“Err…not really, I was just looking all the commotion going on,” answered Yulang nervously.

Suddenly from the middle of the crowd someone shouted,”Brother Jiang, Jiang Yulang…”

“Yes, over here, over here,” answered Yulang joyfully. Immediately he waded through the crowd toward the direction of the voice, Xiao Yu’er had no choice but to follow along.

By the side of the road under a tree parked three big expensive carriages with several horses hitched to them. Several young men elegantly dressed waved at Jiang Yulang.

With joy Yulang ran toward them, several young men came to greet him beaming with smile, the swords by their waists made clanking noise.

Right away they joked and chatted like long lost friends, nobody paid any attention to Xiao Yu’er. However, that didn’t bother him at all. He waited till they were done talking then he spoke to Jiang Yulang,”Strange, how in the world did your friends know that you are coming?”

Jiang Yulang pulled a long face and scoffed,”It’s none of your business.”
His attitude changed 180 degrees. Before he was calling big brother and addressing himself as little brother, but now the way he talked was as a master speaking to a servant.

One of young men, wearing green outfit and having a pale face, looked at Xiao Yu’er with disdain as if seeing a mangy dog. With contempt he asked Yulang, “Who is he, Brother Jiang?”

Yulang replied, “He is the wisest,and the handsomest man on earth , and he makes every girl swoons at his feet. What do you think, do you agree?”
All the young men laughed as if Jiang Yulang just told them the funniest joke.
Xiao Yu’er kept his cool and with a laugh he said, “You should introduce your friends.”

Yulang thought for a while, and said, “Ok, I will introduce them to you.” Then he pointed to the young man with the green outfit, “This is the son of Congtin ciangkun (commanding officer) of Henciu city, Bai Ling Xiao, Bai shao-xia, people gave him the title ‘Lik-bau-kiam-khek’ (Swordsman in Green), his thirty six sword-strokes Hwe-hong kiam is truly awesome.

“Aha, truly fitting to the title, he’s a handsome man,” agreed Xiao Yu’er with a laugh.

Bai Ling Xiao laughed with pride, as Xiao Yu’er continued, “Maybe Master Bai would be so kind as to share with me the white powder from his face, so I too can look handsome.”

Right away Bai Ling Xiao’s laugh turned sour, his pale face turned green.
Xiao Yu’er pointed to the young man in red, tall built like a solid post, with a laugh he asked, “And who is this person?”

“This is Li Ming Sheng, the first son of Congpiauthau Kim-say escort, the best escort company from Kang-lam province, the Jianghu people gave him the title ‘Ang-sah-kim-to’ (Golden saber Red attire), with his saber in hand, even a thousand people can’t overcome him,” explained Jiang Yulang.

“Wow, what a valiant man!” praised Xiao Yu’er clapping his hands.

Li Ming Sheng looked pleased and was about to laugh when Xiao Yu’er added on, “Good thing you gave a complete explanation, or else I would have thought that he’s just a pig butcher.

Both Li Ming Sheng eyes almost popped out of the sockets, he looked like a bull ready to charge.

The third young man dressed in flowery outfit and a flamboyant hat, face powdered white like white washed wall, eyebrows plucked and he’s more feminine than an average girl. He laughed coquettishly and introduced himself without being asked, I am Hua Xi Xiang, my father is known as ‘Yu-mian-shen-pan’ (Ivory-faced Judge), anyone in Jianghu who has never heard of my dad, must have hearing problem .

Jiang Yulang laughed and added on, “Yu-mian-shen-pan Song daihiap (Hero Song) is well known for his unrivaled kungfu. Brother Xi Xiang is using his mother’s maiden name. Auntie Hua herself was a well known heroine in her primetime.”

“Hehehe, I don’t need to be ashamed of Mother. She was truly an amazing lady,” said Hoa Sik-hiang as he moved his hips femininely. Maybe he felt that people respect him too well that nobody would make fun of his feminine antics.
Xiao Yu’er watched him for a moment and suddenly he shook his head and said, “What a pity, what a pity?”

“What do you mean, what a pity?” Hua Xi Xiang asked and teheed in a feminine way.

Xiao Yu’er sounding regretful answered,” What a pity that Master Hua is not up on stage. It’s a big lost to the artist world.”

Hua Xi Xiang stared in surprise, and forgot to laugh.

Jiang Yulang continued on, introducing the other two young men. The tall skinny one like a pole was Ho Koan-kun, the son of Gui-ying-zi (the Devil’s Silhouette) Ho Bu-siang who was well known to be number one in Kang-lam province for his lightness skill. The other person was short and heavy with a smiling face but piercing eyes. It seemed that his kungfu was the best among those five young men.

Xiao Yu’er looked at them indifferently, he knew that some of these young men had only their fathers’ fame to boast. However, it would be difficult for him to handle even three out five of them and they all were looking at him with dislike.
Suddenly someone shouted flirtatiously, “Yulang, you brute! You have no feeling, you know I’m here, yet you ignore me.” Out from one of the carriages came out a teenage girl. She’s very young, yet her make up was thick.

Honestly speaking, that girl’s face was not ugly, only Xiao Yu’er felt nauseated by her mannerism. On the other hand Jiang Yulang came and greeted her joyfully, “Little Sister Sun, if I had known you’re here, I would have come and greeted you long time ago.”

Like a dancer on stage Little Sister Sun came with her arms stretch out and jumped into Jiang Yulang’s arms while grumbling in a spoilt voice, “You little devil, where have you been? You’ve been gone a long time. I missed you very much.”
Pek Leng-siau piped up, “Look, no matter what our Brother Jiang is still romantic…”

Little Sister Sun turned around and said, “Look at him! He looked so skinny.” She blinked her eyes several times, pretending to cry, yet not a single tear came.
Jiang Yulang caressed her cheek and said, ” Don’t be so sad my dear, I’m back after all. If you feel sad, you might get skinny.”

“You…you…,” grumbled Little Sister Sun as she swayed her hips.

Everyone laughed, except Xiao Yu’er who felt disgusted. If he had just finished eating, he would threw up right there and then.

Little Sister Sun stared at him, with her hands on her hip she shouted,”Who are you? You disgusting thing, quickly get lost!”

“If I only could, I would thank heaven and earth,” sighed Xiao Yu’er.

While hanging on to the carriage window, Xiao Yu’er poke his head complete out. It’s because Little Sister Sun was in Jiang Yulang’s arms and Yu’er couldn’t stand her perfume that was nauseating to him.

Hua Xi Xiang and Bai Ling Xiao actually brought their own carriages, but they all went in one carriage. They had a great time chatting, laughing and joking among themselves, and completely ignoring Xiao Yu’er.

Secrectly Xiao Yu’er was surprised that Jiang Yulang turned out to be so uncouth, he tried looking at Yulang with the corner of his eyes, he saw that Yulang was laughing happily, but his eyes were gleaming like a bird of prey ready to pounch. It was clear that he wasn’t as crude as his friends; he was just faking to conform to their behavior. If he’s not conforming, how could he be closed friends with the young people from well known family.

Xiao Yu’er smiled, again he poke his head out of the window, he saw Li Ming Sheng who was known as “Golden Saber, Red Attire” riding on a horse behind the carriage. His whip cracked the air, scaring the pedestrian that they moved out of the way.

“Oh… today I am so happy,” Little Sister Sun sighed. “Only too bad that….”
“Only too bad that there’s one too many people here, isn’t it?” finished Hua Xi Xiang.
Little Sister Sun blinked and said, “Yes, have you ever seen a disgusting creature like him?”

“Ofcourse I have,” answered Hua Xi Xiang, “Wasn’t it just the other day that we met a Miss Po? She’s grossly obese that poor Brother Bai almost suffocated being squashed by her. Isn’t Miss Po in the same class as him?”

Before he finished his sentence the others were howling with laughter. But upon seeing Xiao Yu’er joined in their laughter, in fact his laughter was the loudest, automatically they stopped laughing.

Giving Xiao Yu’er the evil eye, Little Sister Sun said with a sneer, “It’s amazing why this person still have the face to remain here. If I were he, I’d rather chop my arm off than to remain here.”

With a grin Xiao Yu’er answered, “Yes, this person is just like any other person, except that he has thick skin. He’d rather sit here for another three years than to chop his own arm.”

All eyes stared at him angrily, however Xiao Yu’er didn’t give a hoot. He knew that at the most they only could try to make him embarrass or angry, but couldn’t make him go away since his hand was cuffed to Jiang Yulang’s wrist. Especially that Jiang Yulang didn’t dare to make a move risking his life, knowing that Xiao Yu’er’s martial arts was superior to his.

The bathtub was a custom made wooden tub, almost as tall as a person, with steam coming out of it.

Jiang Yulang had his body totally immersed in it, his eyes closed, several times he let out a deep sigh of contentment.

What about Xiao Yu’er?

How pitiful, he could only stand outside of the bathtub watching. Moreover, one of his arms was up on the edge of the tub, what a torture.

Bai Ling Xiao, the son of the commanding officer, was sitting in front with his feet propped high on the table. Rubbing his sparsely grown beard, he laughed and said, “Brother Yulang, what do you think of my bathtub?”

“Heavenly,” asnwered Yulang , his eyes still closed.

“Don’t underestimate the value of this bathtub,” said Bai Ling Xiao. “It has a long and interesting history. It came far away from the East (Japan). It is said that the people in those islands pay a great deal of attention to the art of bathing. It is a major recreation activity and enjoyment in their lives. Sometimes they would take hours immersing in the tub.

“Well, it’s been more than an hour that I bathe,” laughed Yulang.

Finally he got up, two pretty maids came barefooted with the towels. Their white hands slowly dried Jiang Yulang’s body till it gave a red glow.

“Hmmm, I could get used to this type of bathing everyday,” said Jiang Yulang.
The two maid laughed coquettishly as they dressed Jiang Yulang. He felt fresh after the bath, as he stretched lazily he laughed, “All my joints felt loose and relaxed, my body feels ten catties lighter.”

“Yes, but I feel ten catties heavier,” spoke Xiao Yu’er.

“Too bad that the host had no intention to let you bathe here. If you want to bathe, go and bathe somewhere else, but I have no intention of accompanying you,” replied Yulang harshly.

“Ofcourse, ofcourse,” said Xiao Yu’er. “If I would like to bathe, I have to chop off my arm so I can go elsewhere, isn’t that so?”

“Just as long as you know,” replied Yulang.

“Even though I haven’t bathe, still I’m much cleaner than some people who are dirty inside and have no shame,” says Xiao Yu’er.

Bai Ling Xiao asked angrily, “Who are you referring to?”

“Why? Are you dirty inside and have no shame?” laughed Xiao Yu’er.
“You stinky scum!” shouted Pek Leng-siau.

“If you are not that kind of person, then that insult must be for someone else. Why are you upset? asked Xiao Yu’er.

Little Sister Sun called from the door, “Hey, Jiang Yulang, did you drown in the tub? How come you took so long, Hurry up, let’s go out to eat. Today Hoa Sik-hiang is going to treat us at Giok-lau-tang.”

“Giok-lau-tang? That famous chain restaurant from Tiangsah? asked Yulang.
“That’s right,” replied Little Sister Sun.

“Hmm…, just thinking of ‘Bit-ciap-hwe-tui’ (ham with sweet and sour sauce) makes my mouth salivates,” spoke Jiang Yulang happily.

The sweet sour ham of Giok-lau Tang restaurant was well known. Under the flickering light of the lantern, it looked like a platter of a shining golden brown onyx gem, pleasant to the eye. However, it’s far from pleasant for Xiao Yu’er, as he stretched out his chopsticks to dig into it, he was immediately blocked by Pek Lengsiau’s chopsticks.

“He he, I don’t know you, what made you think that we would invite you to eat?” sneered Hua Xi Xiang.

“Ah, yes! That’s right, if I want to eat, I have to chop off my arm, go out and find my own food.” replied Xiao Yu’er.

“Hah, you’re getting smarter,” Bai Ling Xiao mocked.

Xiao Yu’er was only allowed to watch; watching them eat and drink till their heart content. He can only grinned while his stomach was protesting for food.

Glancing at Xiao Yu’er, Hua Xi Xiang snickered, “If I were he, I would crawl under the table rather than sitting here salivating. By chance there would be a rib bone or two down there.”

Right away Xiao Yu’er laughed and shot back, “If I were to be born not a man nor a woman, I would kill myself by jumping into a well, rather than be an embarrassment to my parents.

Hua Xi Xiang suddenly slammed the table and bellowed,”you scum, who are you mocking at?”

“Why? Are you such a person, not a man nor a woman? Why are you getting mad?”replied Xiao Yu’er.

Right at that moment came a loud noise of many footsteps climbing up the stairs. Several people came up quickly, most of them were in the fifties, elegantly dressed. As soon as they reached the top floor, they looked around intimidatingly, it’s obvious that they were no ordinary people to be reckoned with.

Hua Xi Xiang, Li Ming Sheng, Ho Koan-kun who were boisterous suddenly became quiet and stood up as soon as they saw those elders. They became well behaved, with their head bowing with respect, some called out, “Teacher” and others “Dad”.

Xiao Yu’er frowned, “So these people are the father and teacher of these youngsters. This is not good!”
Surprisingly the elders ignored them, instead they came to Xiao Yu’er and approached Xiao Yu’er and greeted him, “Is this Jiang Yu, Jiang shao-xia, we presume?”

Naturally Xiao Yu’er was surprised and confused, “That’s right. I’m he.” he replied, staring at them.
One of them with a pale face and sparse beard right away shouted,”Hey servant, quickly prepare a feast, we are celebrating to welcome Kang shao-xia.

Hua Xi Xiang and his friends couldn’t help but stared dazedly. Xiao Yu’er later found out that the paled face man and sparse beard was “Yu-mian-shen-pan, Hua Xi Xiang’s father. Besides that, Gui-ying-zi Ho Bu-sing and Kim-say-cu Li Di were both there, also present were all the first class fighters of the town, not a single one absent.
Xiao Yu-er had a whole platter of ham with sweet and sour sauce to himself. Finally, he couldn’t help but laughed,”The children treated me like dirt, but the parents treated me with great respect, even spread a banquet for me. Can someone explain what this is all about?”

“If our children were disrespectful, please forgive them, said Yu-mian-shen-pan.
Xiao Yu-er looked at a dazed Jiang Yulang besides him, and said to him with laugh,”Ah, that’s no problem at all with me, only you….”
Gui-ying-zi Ho Bu-siang, a tall and dark faced man continued,”Upon the request of a Bulim cianpwe (honorable elder of the martial world/jianghu) we as hosts here were instructed to serve Jiang shao-xia well. This elder is well respected …”

“Who is this person?”asked Xiao Yu-er.

“Are you sure you don’t know him?”replied Yu-mian-shen-pan.

“I only know that he has a nose, two eyes and a pair of ears.”

Yu-mian-shen-pan thought for a while and laughed, “The elder told us to keep it a secret, because he doesn’t want you to return the favor.”

“Don’t worry, I never return anybody a favor, but if it is revenge, that’s a different story.”replied Xiao Yu’er with a laugh. “But if it’s too much trouble to revenge, I just consider it done.”

“If everyone has a big heart like you, Master Jiang, what a peaceful world we would live in,”replied Yu-mian-shen-pan.

“Now, can you tell me who this elder is?” asked Xiao Yu-er.

“The leader of Emei sect, Reverend Shenxi,” replied Yu-mian-shen-pan slow and clear.

“Hmm… so it turns out to be him,” Xiao Yu’er spoke aloud. “All these time it was him who’s been helping me many times, apparently he hasn’t forgotten me.” He then slapped Jiang Yulang’s hand, ”You didn’t expect that, didn’t you?”

“Nope.” replied Jiang Yulang stiffly.

“Amazing, really amazing, respected leader of Emei is willing to be my personal guard,” exclaimed Xiao Yu’er with a laugh.

Now that the puzzle had been solved, Xiao Yu’er was ready to eat and drink till his heart content. With a smile Yu-mian-shen-pan and his friends watched, but didn’t participate eating.

Finally Xiao Yu’er put down his chopsticks and rubbed his belly, and said with a laugh,”Oh my dear tummy, I’ve paid all my dues to you.”

“Is Jiang Xiaohiap done eating?” asked Yu-mian-shen-pan.

“Yep, I’m so full that I can explode anytime,”answered Xiao Yu’er.

“Would you like some desert, or fruits perhaps?” asked Yu-mian-shen-pan.

“I’d love to, but there’s no more room in my stomach,” replied Xiao Yu’er laughing.

“If that’s so, then we’ve followed Reverend Shenxie’s instructions well and did our job as hosts properly,” said Yu-mian-shen-pan with a smile.

Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and asked,”Is there a hidden meaning behind your statement?”

Suddenly Yu-mian-shen-pan stood up and slowly said,”Please open the window and look outside.”

When Xiao Yu’er did as instructed, he saw that the street lights had died off, not a single person can be seen walking on the street anymore. Instead the restaurant was surrounded by dozens of people in light clothing.

Xiao Yu’er suddenly noticed that there’s no other guests upstairs anymore, and the waiters looked scared and visibly shaking with fear.

“What’s the meaning of this?”Xiao Yu’er asked.

“We’ve followed Reverend Shenxie’s instruction well and did our job as hosts properly,”said Yu-mian-shen-pan curtly. “However, another person have asked us…… for your head, what do you think about that?”

“Haha, I feel honored that somebody wants my head,” Xiao Yu’er said with a laugh. “But who is this person? Regardless, you need to tell me, right?”

“Enough for you to know that he has one nose and two eyes, that’s all,”scoffed Yu-mian-shen-pan.

As Xiao Yu’er turned his head, he saw Jiang Yulang and the others looking very happy, while Gui-ying-zi and others had a murderous looked. They all surrounded him and there seemed no way out, one slight move would have him end up in bloody mess. Especially having one of his hands handcuffed to Jiang Yulang’s wrist, to escape is impossible.

Xiao Yu’er heaved a long sigh, then said with a grin, ”It seems inevitable that I have to surrender my head to you. Hah, in exchange for a platter of ham with sweet and sour sauce, that’s too cheap!”

“Swoosh”, suddenly Kim-say-cu Li Di unsheathed his saber and shouted,”What are you waiting for? Do you want us to do it for you?”

“No need,” exclaimed Xiao Yu’er laughing. “It’s just that I want to know if your saber is sharp enough or not. If it could chop my head off in one stroke then I would like to borrow it for a while.”

“Very well, seeing how you can laugh while facing death, I will lend my saber to you,” laughed Li Di. “Thump”, he suddenly threw his saber and it stuck on the table.

Slowly Xiao Yu’er reached out his hand and held the hilt of the saber. His eyes follow his hand movement, staring with steely glint, colder than the reflection of the saber.

Staring at Xiao Yu’er suddenly Yu-mian-shen-pan took out his weapon, a pair of Boan-koan-pit, a pair of calligraphy brushes. Slowly he caressed his weapon as if caressing someone dear to him.

Xiao Yu’er became unsure, his fingers touched the hilt of the saber, but he hesitated to pull the saber out.

“Go ahead, why don’t you pull the saber out. What are you going to do, slash me with it or attack someone else? Or maybe point it at Yulang’s neck to force your way out?” mocked Yu-mian-shen-pan. He continued, “For sure, you are not going to kill yourself. Isn’t that right?”

Xiao Yu’er’s hand was still on the saber’s hilt, but still he didn’t make a move. He felt his palm cold and sweaty.

“I know that you don’t dare to pull out the saber, because the sooner you do that the sooner you’d die,”spoke Yu-mian-shen-pan. “Knowing that you are a wise man, I will let you die quickly. There! Good riddance!”

As soon as he finished speaking, with a quick movement one of the steelbrush attacked the Thian-tut-hiat (acupoint) at Xiao Yu’er’s throat.

Thian-tut-hiat was one of the lethal acupoints of the human body, a mere hit or kick on that point was dangerous enough especially now being hit with Boan-koan-pit of an expert. Many times Xiao Yu’er experienced danger yet escaped death, who could have guessed that he would die right now.

Helplessly Xiao Yu’er watched the tip of the steel brush come closer to his neck. He felt too lazy to dodge, because he knew that it was no use. If he could dodge the first attack, the second one would follow and in the end it would be impossible for him to safe himself. If he’s going to die regardless, might as well die a quick death with the least pain.

As the tip of the steel brush was about to thrush his throat suddenly with a “ching” sound, a wine cup flew in from outside the window and accurately blocked the Boan-koan-pit tip.

Even though the steel brush attack was accompanied by strong inner force, yet the fragile wine cup did not break. The strange thing, that wine cup was thrown from a far distance, yet could land exactly on the tip of the steel brush, intact. In fact Yu-mian-shen-pan felt his hand numb at the impact. With shock he quickly jumped back and shouted, “Who’s there?”

Under the lighting of the half moon, one could see a man squatting on top of the sign board of a silk cloth store across the street. That man’s hair was a mess, his chest exposed, his hand was holding a big wine gourd and drinking from it. Because his face was mostly hidden by the wine gourd, it was difficult to see who he really was.

However, with a glance Xiao Yu’er could recognized the man immediately. He thought, “With him here, things will get pretty interesting.”

Yu-mian-shen-pan made a quick flick with his steel brush, and the wine cup on the tip of the brush flew aiming toward the chest of that mysterious man. He was sure that with his strong inner energy the wine cup would make a hole in the body, regardless who that man was.

“Ching, crash!” the wine cup hit the man’s body. The cup broke in many pieces, however it didn’t seem that the man even felt it.

Naturally Yu-mian-shen-pan was startled. Hua Xi Xiang, Bai Ling Xiao and the others quickly unsheathed their weapons.

With a blur suddenly Gui-ying-zi Ho Bu-siang flew out. His lightness skill was well known as number one in Kang-lam province, his movement was indeed faster than anybody else. As he was in mid air, his hand moved and dozens of red dots flew toward that man.

That man laughed heartily, suddenly a stream of silver spray flew out of his mouth, and shot down the projectiles. The silver stream continued moving toward Gui-ying-zi’s body.

This number one expert in lightness skill wasn’t able to block the silver stream. He flew back faster than he came out, he flew backward through the window, and across the table and “bang!” he hit the wall.

The silver stream sprayed all over the place and everybody could smell the strong smell of wine. It turned out that what came out of the man’s mouth was the wine that he was drinking.

Just the sprayed of wine alone was enough to knocked Gui-ying-zi back in. Everybody was amazed and stared in dismayed. Bai Ling Xiao, Hua Xi Xiang and the others being inexperienced, knew not “how thick the earth was and how high the sky”, quickly moved their weapon and was about to jump and attack.

But without warning something flew in and loud slaps were heard, “slap, smack!” several times, in a blinking of an eye the weapons in Bai Ling Xiao’s hand and others were no longer there, and each of them were rubbing their swollen cheek. In that short of time each one of them had received a slap on their cheek.

When they looked, the person squatting on top of the sign board across the street had sat down on a chair that Kui-eng-cu sat before, his left hand was holding the wine gourd, while the right hand holding Pek Leng-siau’s and his friends’ weapons.

Jiang Yulang face turned white with fright as he recognized who that person was.

Suddenly that man slammed the table with the weapons that he was holding and shouted, “You sons of a turtle, you see your Master is here already, yet your not rushing to have the food ready?”

Yu-mian-shen-pan realized that the kungfu of that mysterious man was very high, and that he would be a tough opponent. He was worried that Li Di and others might be careless, so he quickly stepped up, and with a forced smile asked, “Brother, may I know what your honorable name is? And why did you hit these people without a reason?”

That man glared at him and answered him roughly, “Who’s your brother? What kind of a bedbug are you?”

Yu-mian-shen-pan tried to be patient, and answered,” I’m Siau Cu-jun, the people of Jianghu call me Yu-mian-shen-pan.”

“Yu-mian-shen-pan? Hahahaha!” that man laughed. “You have such a grand title, but do you deserve it?”

While laughing he extended his hand, giving the weapons he snatched to Siau Cu-jun. Startled, and without thinking Yu-mian-shen-pan reached out his hand to receive those weapons, but instead his Boan-koan-pit suddenly exchanged hand into that mysterious man’s hand.

That man put down his wine gourd on the table, with one quick movement he broke the pair of Boan-koan-pit into four pieces, and threw them on the floor.

Although Siau Cu-jun treasured his weapons, upon seeing how great that man’s inner strength, he could only keep silent and didn’t dare to make a move.

Kim-say-cu Li Di had never lost a match before, thought that Siau Cu-jun’s weapon was useless, he was about to attack. Luckily Jiang Yulang manage to stop him and whispered something to him.

All of a sudden Li Di’s face turned ashen, he stuttered, “You…are you ‘Ok-tu-kui’ Suanyuan Sanguang!?”

There’s no doubt that the mysterious man was indeed Ok-tu-kui, the “Gambling Devil”, alias “Whom He Sees, He Gambles With”.

Ok-tu-kui didn’t bother to reply, he just grunted, he pulled out the saber that was stuck on the table and immediately slashed the small table on the side. On the table was a candle on a holder lighting the room.

Ok-tu-kui’s slashed the candle in halves down to the candle holder and the small table. Slowly the candle split into two followed by the candle holder and the table, they all collapsed.

Ok-tu-kui flicked his hand and “wham”, the saber flew and stuck on the ceiling, sending layers of dust down.

Then without giving respect to anybody there, he sat down and yelled, “You sons of a turtle, you see your Master is here already, yet your not rushing to have the food ready?”

Although the phrase was the same as before, but now it carried a lot of weight,and nobody dared to mock him this time.

Li Di hurriedly shouted, “Hey waiter, look the master is here, what are you waiting for? Go quickly and prepare a banquet.”

Having the mentality of a business escort of shifting where ever the flow went, he changed his attitude completely.

The waiter scurried quickly to the kitchen and soon many different food were served. Siau Cu-jun and Li Di tried to outdo each other hosting Ok-tu-kui.

However, Ok-tu-kui Xuanyuan Sanguang, glared at them and scolded them, “Who asked you to serve me? Except for that Jiang boy, I want all of you to get out of my face.” Soon after saying that, he poured some wine for Xiao Yu’er and Jiang Yulang.

Ofcourse Xiao Yu’er was ecstatic, on the other hand Jiang Yulang got very frighten.

“Drink!” ordered Han-wan Sam-kong, as he raised his cup.

Without hesitation Xiao Yu’er raised his cup and emptied it. Jiang Yulang didn’t dare to disobey. Just as he laid down his cup, he saw Ok-tu-kui glaring at him.

“Do you know the name of this wine?” demanded Ok-tu-kui to Yulang.

“I’m very ignorant, therefore I don’t know,” answered Jiang Yulang.

“This wine is called the betting wine,” said Ok-tu-kui. “Whoever drank this wine that I poured, he has to bet with me.”

Jiang Yulang’s hand trembled and the wine cup that he was holding fell to the floor. He stuttered, “But…but I don’t..”

“Do not what? You don’t want to bet against me?” Ok-tu-kui glared at him.

“Oh…. yes…yes..”

“Hahaha, very good, what is at stake ?!”

“What… whatever you would like.”

“Very well then, I would like your arm to be the stake.

All of a sudden Jiang Yulang felt weak in the legs and he collapsed in the chair.

Xiao Yu’er pulled him up and laughed, “What are you afraid of? You still have a chance of winning the bet!”

“But…but I…” said Yulang stuttering, his face ashened.

“Sit up straight!” thundered Ok-tu-kui ruthlessly, “Now tell me what you would like as your betting prize?”

Jiang Yulang’s tears were falling, he looked at Yu-mian-shen-pan Siau Cu-jun and others for help, but who would dare to defend him?

In between his sobs he said, “Sir, why..why….”

Right at that moment someone gave a laugh and shouted, “Haha, if Xuanyuan Siansing would like to gamble, let me humor you. Why bother to bet with a little kid, it’s not as interesting.”

When Xiao Yu’er turned around, he stared at a middle aged man who appeared in the room.

This man had a fair complexion and clear eyes. He’s wearing green outfit. Although he was middle aged, yet he was handsome. With a smile, he approached the crowd with a gallant demeanor.

Since roaming the wulin world, besides Hua Wuque, Xiao Yu’er had never seen anyone with such commanding presence as this middle aged man.

Upon seeing this man, Siau Cu-jun and others let a sigh of relief and were very happy. The happiest of all was Jiang Yulang, he almost jumped up and down with joy as if he just won a jackpot.

Xuanyuan Sanguan eyes flashed for a moment toward that man, against his will, he felt intimidated. “Who are you?” he asked.

“My humble name is Jiang Bie He,” replied that man with a smile and bowed with respect.

“Oh, it’s rumored that in Kanglam province there appeared an Enghiong ( hero) that is outstanding, he is called da-xia (big hero) after Yan Nanthian. Are you that person?” asked Ok-tu-kui.

“Ah, it’s just some praises that friends from wulin gave, I don’t really deserve it,” answered Jiang Bie He modestly with a laugh.

“Is he your son?” asked Ok-tu-kui pointing to Jiang Yulang.

“Yes, he is my incompetent son,” anwered Jiang Bie He with some regret.

“The father’s so valiant, yet the son’s such a coward…” Ok-tu-kui said while shaking his head, suddenly he slammed the table and shouted, “If he’s really your son, then are you taking his place to gamble with me?”

“If Xuanyuan Siansing would like to, I would be happy to entertain,” answered Jiang Bie He.

Ok-tu-kui gave a hearty laugh and said, “Wagering a big bet with someone like you would make my day.”

“I wonder what kind of wager would you like to bet,” asked Bie He laughing.

After thinking for a while, Ok-tu-kui said with a loud voice, “We will make the bet very simple, regardless who loses, he should do what the winner bids.”

The people gasped with shock upon hearing such a wager. In Wulin life and death matter was not a big deal. However, to comply to the wish of someone, one had to think twice about it. Just imagine, if the winner would ask the loser to do something embarrassing, wouldn’t that be worse than death? Especially for someone whose status was like Jiang Bie He, if he would have lost he couldn’t back out of it, and would be forced to comply to what his opponent wish. Therefore, everybody thought that Jiang Bie He would not accept such a crazy wager.

Unexpectedly he smiled and answered, “I will accept Xuanyuan Siansing’s proposal. Only what would you suggest we bet on?”

Ok-tu-kui didn’t expect Jiang Bie He to accept his suggestion that readily. He lifted up his wine cup and dried up the cup completely then laughed, “Very well, Jiang da-xia does have the spirit of a true hero. Now, regarding the way of betting, I leave it up to you.”

“Xuanyuan Siansing no need to hesitate…”

“No, I’ve decided on the wager, so you decide on the way we bet, that’s my rule,” thundered Ok-tu-kui.

“If that is the case, then I will comply,” replied Jiang Bie He laughing, then he placed a little table in front of them, and placed a bowl full of “Ang-sio-hi-sit” on top of the table.

Xuanyuan Sangong was puzzled, and asked, “What is this for?”

“This is how we bet,” explained Jiang Bie He, “We take turn hitting the table with our palm, and whoever spilled the Hi-sit sauce or drop the bowl to the floor is the loser.

“That’s too easy!” laughed Xuanyuan Sanguan, he softly tap the table and naturally the Hi-sit Sauce didn’t spill at all. Suddenly Ok-tu-kui stopped laughing, he glared and said, “That way of betting even if it goes on till the new year there still won’t be any winner. Who are you kidding?”

Jiang Bie He smiled, and he replied, “That’s not the way to hit the table, it has to be done this way….” and swung his palm unto the surface of the table.

It seemed that he didn’t use any energy at all, but the small bamboo table suddenly seemed to turn soft like jello, and Jiang Bie He’s palm went through the surface, but the Hi-sit sauce didn’t spill, in fact it didn’t even move.

“There, that’s the way to hit the table, if both of us didn’t spill the sauce, then eventually only the middle part of the table under the bowl is left, and the bowl will fall down. The last person that cause the bowl to fall is the loser.

Xuanyuan facial expression changed, he was silent for a while and finally he mumbled to himself, “I’ve never done this way of betting before.”

“I just had my turn hitting the table once, now is Xuanyuan Siansing’s turn,” said Jiang Bie He with a smile.

“Hahahaha!” Xuanyuan tilted his head back and laughed heartily. “In my entire life I, Ok-tu-kui at least had bet several thousands time. Never in my life I admit defeat before starting…” he looked straight at Jiang Bie He and continued, “Nevertheless, today I admit defeat…. even though I am able to hit through the surface of the table, but I wouldn’t able to keep the sauce from spilling.

At that moment Yu-mian-shen-pan and the others gave a big sigh of relief, and were very happy.

Xiao Yu’er was shocked, “Hey, you…you are admitting defeat for real?”

“If I’ve lost, I’ve lost, I’m not faking it,” growled Ok-tu-kui. He smiled curtly and said to Jiang Bie He, “Now, what would you like me to do, tell me.”

Jiang Bie He thought for a while, then he poured two cups of wine, he laughed, “Allow me to pay respect to Xuanyuan Siansing with a cup of wine.”

Without thinking Ok-tu-kui accept it and with one gulp he drank it all. He slammed the cup down unto the table and said, “Now Xuanyuan Sanguan is ready to live or die, to go East or West, go ahead tell me what you want me to do.”

End of Chapter 37

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