Chapter 21 – Emerging From the Cage
A flash of sabre light. But what it chopped wasn’t a human head. It was the zither strings!
Why did he chop the zither strings in half?
Grandmaster Zhong lifted his head up, staring at him in shock. Not just shock. Anger.
The sabre had been sheathed again. Fu Hongxue had already sat down. In the darkness, his pallid face appeared as though it had been cut out of marble. Firm. Callous. Noble.
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Even if my zither music is not pleasing to your ear, the zither is blameless. Sir, why don’t you directly chop my head off?”
Fu Hongxue said, “The zither is blameless, but the man is blameless as well. It is better for the zither to snap than for the man to perish.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “I don’t understand.”
Fu Hongxue said, “You should understand. But there really are many things which you don’t understand.”
He coldly continued, “You make others realize how short life is, how death is unavoidable. But you don’t know that there are many ways of dying.”
Death could be both lighter than a feather as well as heavier than Mt. Taishan. How could Grandmaster Zhong not understand this?
Fu Hongxue said, “Since a person is alive, even if he must die, he must die with glory and honor, before he can die at ease.”
If a person cannot do well that which he likes to do in life, how can he die at ease?
The meaning of life always lay in struggling and fighting to endure. Only when you understand this point will your life no longer be meaningless. The sufferings of mankind await mankind to solve for itself.
“But my life is now nothing but shame.”
“Then you should think of a way to do something meaningful, something to wash away your shame. Otherwise, even if you die, you will still die shamefully!”
Death cannot solve any problems. Only cowards who can’t handle setbacks will use death to escape.
“I definitely have not given up any less of myself to this sabre than you have to your zither. However, I haven’t gained the comfort and the glory which you have gained. All I have gained is hatred and scorn. In the eyes of others, you are a god of the zither, but all I am is an executioner.”
“But you are still going to continue living?”
“So long as I can keep on living, I will definitely keep on living. The more others want me to die, the more I want to keep on living.” Fu Hongxue said, “Life isn’t necessarily shame. Death is!”
Light shone from his pale white face, making him seem all the more dignified and noble. An almost godlike nobility.
He was no longer that poverty-striken, blood-splattered, frustrated executioner. He had already found the true meaning of life. He had found it from another person being unable to endure the travails of life! Because the more powerful the attacks another launched on him, the more powerful his counterstrike was. The power from this counterstrike of his finally enabled him to release himself from the cage he had put himself into! Gongzi Yu definitely had never imagined this happening!
Grandmaster Zhong had never imagined it either. But as he watched Fu Hongxue, the shock and anger in his eyes disappeared. There was only esteem left.
A lofty, unique character was as worthy of respect as a lofty, unique skill with the fine arts.
He couldn’t help but ask, “Do you also want to do a meaningful thing which will wash away your shame?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I am trying my hardest as we speak.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Aside from killing people, what else have you done?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I have at least proved to him that I have not surrendered, nor have I been defeated by him.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Who is he?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Gongzi Yu.”
Grandmaster Zhong let out a long sigh. “For a person to have a zither-playing servant such as that man, he must be an extraordinary character!”
Fu Hongxue said, “He is.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “But you want to kill him?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Yes.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Killing is also a meaningful act?”
Fu Hongxue said, “If this man remains alive, others shall be miserable and be coerced and bullied. In a case such as this, my killing him is a meaningful act.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Why haven’t you done this yet?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because I can’t find him.”
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Since he is an extraordinary character, he must be very famous. Why can’t you find him?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because although his name is famous all the world over, very few people have a chance to see his real face.”
This was also very strange. The more famous a person was, the fewer the people who could actually meet him.
This point, at least, Grandmaster Zhong should understand. He, too, was famous all the world over, but there were very few people who could meet him.
But he didn’t say anything. Fu Hongxue didn’t want to continue speaking either. All the words that should have been spoken, were spoken.
Fu Hongxue rose to his feet. “I only want to let you know that although this is a good place, this isn’t the place where we should stay.”
Thus, the outside was totally dark, he didn’t want to stay. As long as his heart was bright and guileless, why fear the darkness? He slowly walked out. Although his walking gait was still as clumsy and ugly as ever, his spine was as stiff and straight as a ramrod.
Grandmaster Zhong looked at his departing back. He suddenly said, “Wait.”
Fu Hongxue halted.
Grandmaster Zhong said, “Do you truly want to seek out Gongzi Yu?”
Fu Hongxue nodded.
Grandmaster Zhong said, “In that case, you should stay here. I’ll leave.”
Fu Hongxue’s features changed. “Why? You know that he will come here?”
Grandmaster Zhong did not respond. Instead, he hurried out in front of Fu Hongxue.
Fu Hongxue said, “How do you know? Who, exactly, are you?”
Grandmaster Zhong suddenly turned and looked back at him, chuckling. “Who do you think I am?”
His smile was strange and mysterious. His body suddenly disappeared into the darkness, becoming one with the night.
Only his voice could be heard coming from afar. “As long as you wait here patiently, you will definitely find him.”
“Who do you think I am?”
Can it be that he wasn’t the real Grandmaster Zhong? Was he actually Yu Qin? Otherwise, how would he know about Gongzi Yu’s travel information?
Fu Hongxue couldn’t be sure. He had never seen the real Grandmaster Zhong, nor had he seen Yu Qin.
Was Gongzi Yu truly going to come here? He couldn’t be sure of this either, but he had already decided to stay. This was his only lead. No matter what, he couldn’t let it slip.
The night became even darker. No sound could be heard in the empty mountains. No sound at all is actually a very terrifying sound. It would actually become difficult for a person to sleep under these circumstances.
Fu Hongxue had already lain down, but lying down wasn’t the same as falling asleep. There were no lights in the small cabin. Aside from a zither, a table, and a couch, there was nothing in the room at all. He was hungry and tired. He very much wanted to sleep. Over the years, the pain of insomnia had tormented him greatly. A peaceful night’s sleep was already a luxurious extravagance for him. Why was it so quiet? Why wasn’t there even the sound of the wind? There was only the sound of him coughing a few times. He even wanted to begin talking to himself, saying a few things to himself. Just at this moment, he suddenly heard a clanging sound in his dreams.
It was zither music! The zither was on the table in front of him. Aside from him, there was no one else in the room.
No one was playing the zither. How could it make music?
Fu Hongxue only felt a cold feeling rise up his back. He couldn’t resist turning around and staring at the zither on the table. Cold starlight was shining on that zither.
The zither sounded again. A ‘gong’ note, followed by a ‘shang’ note, a ‘gong’ note, a ‘chi’ note, a ‘gong’ note, and a ‘yu’ note.
Who was strumming the zither strings? Was it the spirit of the zither? Or was there a ghost in the room?
Fu Hongxue suddenly jumped up and saw a faint black shadow outside the window. Was it a human shadow, or a spectre? If a man was outside the window, how could he strum the zither on the table? Fu Hongxue laughed coldly. “Excellent finger strength.”
The shadow outside the window seemed to be startled. It quickly retreated.
Fu Hongxue was even quicker. He didn’t seem to prepare to move at all, but his body had already shot out.
The person outside the window somersaulted into the air, disappearing into the darkness.
The blank mountains were lonesome. The dark night was cold and silent. Fu Hongxue went forward for a bit longer, but couldn’t see anybody. But when he turned around, he saw a light.
The light flickered like a will’o’wisp. The light was in the window. Who lit a light in the room?
Fu Hongxue stopped using his lightness kungfu. He slowly walked back. The candle light didn’t disappear. It was right on the table. But the zither on the table had been broken, broken perfectly and evenly in half, as though it had been severed by a sharp blade.
There was no one in the room, but there was a short note pressed underneath the zither.
“If you do not leave by this evening, you shall become broken like this zither.”
The words were written very well, very elegantly. It was clearly authored by the same person who left the first note beneath the zither earlier.
Where did he go?
Fu Hongxue sat down. He faced the severed strings and the lonely light. His eyes suddenly shone with light as well. Only ghosts could come and go so easily and quickly. He never believed in ghosts. If there were no ghosts in the world, then this room must have hidden tunnels and false walls. Quite possibly, they were right in front of them. He couldn’t be considered an expert in this field, but he understood it. He knew a little about all of the various tricks and schemes which existed in the martial world. Although the study of secret mechanisms is a very complicated one, it wouldn’t be too difficult to discover a false wall or an underground tunnel in such a small cabin.
Had Gongzi Yu already arrived? Did he come from the tunnel?
Fu Hongxue closed his eyes and held his breath. First, he let his heart calm down. Only then could his senses become truly keen. And then, he started to search.
He couldn’t find anything.
If you do not leave by this evening, you shall become broken like this zither.
If I can’t find you, you will find me. Why shouldn’t I just wait for you here, and see how you intend to break me like the zither?
Fu Hongxue slowly sat down, making the lantern slightly brighter. Light could always stir a man to wakefulness and vigor. Sleep and him simply were not destined to be.
Sometimes, he couldn’t fall asleep when he wanted to. Sometimes, he wanted to sleep but must not sleep.
The man who broke the zither could once more enter from via the secret tunnel at any time and break him like a zither!
Was this person Gongzi Yu or not? What type of person was Gongzi Yu?
Fu Hongxue tightly gripped his sabre in his hand, that pitch-black sabre. He lowered his head, staring at his sabre. He felt as though he himself were slowly sinking down, sinking down into that pitch-black sheath. He suddenly fell asleep.
The night was deep and dark. A single light. Heaven and earth seemed at peace, without calamity, without blood, without sound.
When Fu Hongxue woke up, he was still perfectly seated on the chair. He didn’t know for how long he had been asleep. The first thing he did when he awoke was look at his sabre. The sabre was still in his hand. The pitch-black sheath glimmered with light underneath the lantern. Perhaps he had simply closed his eyes and dozed off for a moment. He was simply too tired. He wasn’t a man made from iron, after all. This sort of thing was hard to avoid. So long as his sabre was still in his hand, he feared nothing. But by the time he lifted up his head, he sunk down again, sunk down into an icy lake. He was still on the chair, his sabre was still in his hand, but he was no longer in that crude cabin in the mountains.
The first thing he saw was a painting, a four-foot, seven inch long painting, suspended from the wall in front of him.
This room naturally wasn’t only four-feet, seven inches wide. Aside from this painting, the snow-white walls also had all sorts of weapons hanging down from it. Amongst them were giant stone weapons which men had used to hunt with, in the times before copper and iron were discovered. There were weapons which soldiers had used during the Warring States period, such as pikes and lances. There was the ‘Green Crescent Blade’ which the legendary war god, Guan Yu, had used. There were also extremely rarely seen weapons of the martial world, such as curved scimitars and tiger-straddling baskets.
But the most common weapon was still the sabre.
Broadswords, double sabres, goose-plume sabres, demon-headed sabres, golden-spined mountain cleavers, Buddhist monk’s sabres, nine-ringed sabres, violet fish-scale sabres…it seemed as though there was even an extremely long Demon Decapitating Sabre of Heaven’s Monarch.
But what shocked Fu Hongxue the most was that there was also a pitch-black sabre! It looked just the same as the one he wielded. The hundreds and thousands of weapons actually hadn’t yet filled the wall. From this, one can imagine how large the room was. But the floor was covered with a very complete velvet carpet, making the room seem undescribably warm and comfortable. Everything in the room had been selected with the greatest care. In his entire life, Fu Hongxue had never been in such a magnificent, luxurious place.
Right now, he wasn’t sure how he had arrived here. This wasn’t a dream, but it was much more bizarre and absurd than the bizarrest, absurdist of dreams. His sabre-gripping hand was ice cold. The hilt had been soaked by the cold sweat from his palm.
But he didn’t cry out in alarm, nor did he run away. He still quietly sat in this chair, not even moving. Someone was able to quietly, stealthily bring him to this place. Naturally, it would have been easy to kill him. Since he was still living, why flee? Why move?
From outside the door, someone loudly laughed, “Young master Fu, what good self-control you have!”
The door opened. The one who laughed loudly was actually Grandmaster Zhong.
Only, this Grandmaster Zhong’s appearance had changed a bit. The cloth robes he had worn were now replaced by a golden mantle, his white hair had darkened somewhat, and his wrinkles had lessened somewhat as well. He looked at least ten or twenty years younger.
Fu Hongxue only coldly glanced at him, not showing the slightest bit of surprise, as though he had long since calculated that this person would be here.
Grandmaster Zhong bowed to the floor. “This humble one is Yu Qin. I pay my respects to young master Fu.”
So he was Yu Qin. So he was Gongzi Yu’s Yu Qin. The zither-playing servant in the marketplace was nothing more than an actor playing a minor role. That play had been put on for Fu Hongxue’s benefit. Fu Hongxue had never seen the real Yu Qin. Naturally, that play had seemed extremely real. Could it be that the entire purpose of that play was to get Fu Hongxue to listen to that heartrending music, to make him feel downcast and to pull out his sabre and chop his own head off? Right now, if he were to draw his blade, he naturally wouldn’t be cutting his own neck.
Seeing the sabre in his hand, Yu Qin stopped far away. He suddenly said, “What is this place? How did I get here?”
He chuckled, then continued, “These two questions should have been asked by young master Fu. But since you do not intend to ask, then it falls upon me to ask.”
He asked the questions. Naturally, he would answer them as well.
Unexpectedly, Fu Hongxue coldly said, “This is a good place. Since I am already here, why would I need to ask too many questions?”
Yu Qin was startled, then said, “Young master Fu, you really do not wish to ask?”
Fu Hongxue said, “No.”
Yu Qin looked at him. Hesitatingly, he said, “Young master Fu, do you want to kill me with a chop of your sabre, then leave through this door?”
Fu Hongxue said, “No.”
Yu Qin said, “Can it be that you don’t wish to leave, young master Fu?”
Fu Hongxue said, “It wasn’t easy for me to get here. Why would I leave?”
Yu Qin was startled yet again. When he entered, he originally thought that it would be difficult for Fu Hongxue to resist being startled or frightened. Unexpectedly, the one who ended up consternated was himself.
Fu Hongxue said, “Sit down.”
Yu Qin actually sat down. There was a white jade table next to the carved wooden chair. There was a zither on top of the table. It was the legendary, incomparable zither left behind from antiquity, the ‘Scorched Strings’ zither.
Fu Hongxue said, “Please play a melody for me to listen to.”
Yu Qin said, “Alright.”
With a clanging sound, the zither music arose. Naturally, he was no longer playing that sort of music which would make the listener feel cold and filled with grief. The zither music was filled with joy and happiness, riches and honor. Even people who simply could no longer keep on living would no longer want to die after hearing this melody. He himself, naturally, didn’t want to die either.
Fu Hongxue suddenly asked, “Gongzi Yu is here?”
Although Yu Qin did not respond, the sound of his music seemed to whisper, “Yes.”
Fu Hongxue asked, “Does he also wish to meet me?”
The zither music once more carried an answer with it. “Yes.”
Fu Hongxue was originally a friend who appreciated his music. He wanted to continue to inquire, but a very strange noise suddenly came in from outside. Monotous, abrupt, shrill, and terrifying. One sound after the other, it rang out without stopping.
Yu Qin’s hand trembled. Two strings on the zither suddenly snapped. This abrupt, shrill sound carried within it an indescribable, fear-inducing sensation. No matter who heard this sound, they would feel their throat becoming dry, their heart rates elevate, and their stomachs contract. Not even Fu Hongxue was an exception.
Yu Qin’s face changed. He suddenly stood up and quickly strode out.
Fu Hongxue did not stop him. He never did things that were unnecessary. He had to conserve his energy, using all of his strength to keep himself calm and collected.
The weapons on the wall sparkled with cold light. That four-foot, seven-inch long painting on the wall was definitely a masterpiece as well. But he didn’t even spare it another glance. He definitely could not spare any attention to anything else. But he wasn’t able to fully concentrate all of his strength. That abrupt, shrill noise continued to cry out without stopping, as though it were an iron hammer repeatedly clanging against his mind. It wasn’t until the sound of a door opening was heard that he noticed there was a door behind him. A beautiful woman, dressed in white, was staring at him from outside the door. She actually seemed to be Zhuo Yuzhen. And yet, she was not Zhuo Yuzhen.
She was far more beautiful than Zhuo Yuzhen, so beautiful, pure, and noble. Her smile was warm and refined, and her graceful bearing was even more stirring. Even Fu Hongxue couldn’t resist tossing a few extra glances her way.
She already walked inside. She gently closed the door, then walked past Fu Hongxue’s form. She walked to the center of the great hall before turning to face him. Smiling, she said, “I know you are Fu Hongxue, but you definitely don’t know who I am.”
Her voice was just like her person; noble and graceful. But her words were very frank and candid. Clearly, she wasn’t one of those affectedly bashful women.
Fu Hongxue did not know who she was.
But she had already told him. “My surname is Zhuo. I can be considered the mistress of this place. Thus, you can call me Madame Zhuo. If you feel this manner of address is too vulgar, you can call me Zhuo Zi.” [There is a pun here; her surname, ‘Zhuo’, sounds just like the word for ‘table’. Zhuo Zi literally means ‘Table’.]
Smiling, she continued, “My nickname is ‘Table.’ My friends all like to address me by this name.”
Fu Hongxue coldly said, “Madame Zhuo.”
He wasn’t her friend. He had no friends.
Madame Zhuo naturally understood his meaning. And yet, she was still smiling cheerfully. “No wonder everyone says you are a weirdo. You really are.”
Fu Hongxue himself admitted to it.
Madame Zhuo’s eyes roamed about. “Don’t you want to ask me what relationship I have with Zhuo Yuzhen?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I do not.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Can it be that there really is nothing in the world which can move your heart?”
Fu Hongxue shut his mouth. If he didn’t want to say a single word in response, he would immediately shut his mouth, very tightly.
Madame Fu sighed. “Originally, I thought that you would at least glance at these weapons. Everyone who has ever visited here have all been very interested in these weapons.”
These weapons truly were masterpieces. It definitely wasn’t easy to collect all of these weapons. It wasn’t easy to have a chance to see them either. Very few people who practiced martial arts would be willing to pass up such an opportunity.
She suddenly turned around and walked towards the wall. She removed a simple, unsophisticated metal sword which was heavy and black. “Do you recognize whose sword this was?”
Fu Hongxue took one glance, then immediately said, “This is the sword Guo Songyang used.”
Originally, he didn’t want to speak, but he couldn’t resist speaking. He couldn’t allow her to consider him an ignorant person.
Madame Zhuo smiled. “You truly do have good eyesight.”
There wasn’t too much praise hidden within these words. In past years, the Solar Apex Sword travelled the martial world with ease, and was ranked number four in the Book of Weapons. There truly were only a few people who did not recognize this sword.
Madame Zhuo said, “Although this is just a replica of the original, its shape, weight, length, and even the metal used to smelt it are definitely the exact same as that of the Solar Apex Sword of years past.”
She couldn’t help but reveal a sense of self-satisfaction in her laughter. “Even the tassel on the sword was personally made by the grand-aunt of the Guo family. Aside from the metal sword which they pass down from generation to generation, I’m afraid that in all the world, there’s no other sword like this one!”
She hung the sword back on the wall, then took off a long whip. Dark light gleamed from it, making it look just like a nimble serpent.
Fu Hongxue said, “This was used by Ximen Rou. The Serpent Whip of the God of Whips, ranked seventh on the Book of Weapons!”
Madame Zhuo laughed. “Since you recognized the whip, I am sure you recognize Zhuge Gang’s Diamond Crutch as well.”
She hung up the long whip, then removed a pair of meteor hammers which were next to the Diamond Crutch.
Fu Hongxue said, “The Twin Comets of Wind and Rain. Ranked thirty fourth on the Book of Weapons.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Good eyesight.”
This time, there was somewhat more praise in her tone. She suddenly walked to the corner of the room and removed two metal hoops. “In the past, the Golden Coin clan dominated the martial world. Their chief, Shangguan Jinhong, shook the world with his strength. These are his Dragon and Phoenix Double Rings.”
Fu Hongxue said, “They are not.”
Madame Zhuo said, “No?”
Fu Hongxue said, “These are the Rings of Great Affection. This is the unique weapon of the northwestern Iron Ring school.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Why would a weapon designed for killing be named ‘Great Affection’?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because once these rings settle around the opponent’s weapons, they will become entangled and never let go, just like people of great love and affection!”
A strange expression suddenly appeared on his pallid face. He continued, “When affection is concentrated, one is entangled to the marrow, even if the seas run dry and stones crumble, until death shall we part. Why is it that people of great affection are also people who kill as well!”
Madame Zhuo let out a soft sigh. “When affection is concentrated, to the point where it won’t stop until death, it can sometimes harm not only others, but also one’s self.”
Fu Hongxue said, “I’m afraid the one which is harmed is usually one’s self.”
Madame Zhuo slowly nodded. “Right. The one which is harmed is usually one’s self.”
The two of them faced each other silently. Only after a long time did madame Zhuo’s beautiful smile reappear. “There isn’t a weapon here which you do not recognize!”
Fu Hongxue said, “None.”
Madame Zhuo lightly said, “Every single weapon here has a history behind it. Back when they caused a stir in the martial world, it wouldn’t have been too hard to recognize them.”
Fu Hongxue said, “There isn’t anything which is truly hard in the world.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Unfortunately, although some weapons have become famous long ago and killed people without number, there has never been anybody who has seen its true features. For example…”
Fu Hongxue said, “Little Li’s Flying Dagger?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Right. Little Li’s Flying Dagger, Never Misses Its Mark! Even Shangguan Jinhong, said to be invincible, died to that dagger. It can truly be considered the best knife in the world.”
She let out another sigh, then said, “Unfortunately, up til now, no one has ever seen that dagger.”
With a flash of the dagger, it enters the enemy’s throat. Who, then can clearly see how long it is, or what shape it is?
Madame Zhuo sighed again. “Thus, to this very day, this is still one of the great secrets of the martial world. We have exhausted all of our efforts, but still have not been able to produce an identical flying dagger. A pearl has been lost in the great sea. Such a pity!”
Fu Hongxue said, “It seems there’s another weapon missing here.”
Madame Zhuo said, “The Peacock Plume?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Correct.”
Madame Zhuo chuckled. “There’s nothing which is perfect in the world. Fortunately, we finally have this sabre.”
She suddenly plucked down the pitch-black sabre from the wall.
With a flash of sabre light, the sabre left the sheath. Not only was its length and shape exactly the same as his, it even had three notches on the edge.
Madame Zhuo smiled. “I know that this sabre isn’t meant to be viewed by others. I fear even you yourself rarely look at it.”
Fu Hongxue’s face had turned so pale, it was almost translucent. He coldly said, “I know that some people are the same.”
Madame Zhuo said, “People?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Although some people have become famous long ago and killed people without number, no one has ever seen their real face. For example…”
Madame Zhuo said, “Gongzi Yu?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Right. Gongzi Yu.”
Madame Zhuo chuckled again. “You truly have never seen his face?”
Her laughter seemed very strange, very mysterious. But Fu Hongxue’s reply was very simple. “I have not.”
Madame Zhuo laughed. “Since you’ve already come here, you will see him sooner or later. Why be impatient?”
Fu Hongxue said, “How long is he going to wait before meeting with me?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Soon.”
Fu Hongxue coldly said, “Since he is coming soon, why the need for him training how to draw his sabre?”
That monotonous, abrupt, shrill sound was still continuing, one sound following the other. Can it be that this was the sound of drawing a sabre?
Fu Hongxue said, “There are thousands of transformations in sabreplay, but drawing the sabre is a very simple act.”
Madame Zhuo said, “You have practiced that movement for very long?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Seventeen years.”
Madame Zhuo said, “You practiced such a simple movement for seventeen years?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I only regret that I wasn’t able to practice it for a bit longer!”
Madame Zhuo laughed again. “Since you’ve already trained it for seventeen years, why can’t he train for a bit longer?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because even if he practices for a few more days, it won’t do any good!”
Smiling, Madame Zhuo sat down. Facing him, she said, “This time, you are wrong.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Oh!”
Madame Zhuo said, “He isn’t pulling out a sabre.”
Fu Hongxue said, “He isn’t?”
Madame Zhuo said, “This is pulling out a sword.”
She slowly continued, “Over the past few hundred years, famous swordsmen have been as common as trees. There are ninety three new sword styles, with thousands and tens of thousands of transformations. Each has its own brilliance. Some swords styles have extremely bizarre techniques, unimaginable techniques. But there is still only one way to draw a sword.”
Fu Hongxue said, “There isn’t only one way. There is only one way which is the fastest!”
Madame Zhuo said, “But finding this fastest way isn’t easy.”
Fu Hongxue said, “The easiest way is the fastest way.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Even though, the true simplicity and purity of the movement can only be returned to after thousands of transformations.”
All the changes and transformations within all martial arts, could not transform into the word ‘quick’.
Madame Zhuo said, “He bitterly trained for five years before he discovered this method. He has also already practiced this simple movement for seventeen years. To this very day, he is still practicing it. Every day, he practices for at least six hours.”
Fu Hongxue tightly gripped his sabre. His pupils contracted.
Madame Zhuo stared at him. Her gentle eyes had turned as sharp as knives. One word at a time, she said, “Do you know why he has been bitterly training this sword-drawing technique for so long?”
Fu Hongxue said, “To deal with me?”
Madame Zhuo swallowed a breath. “You are wrong again.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Oh?”
Madame Zhuo said, “He doesn’t necessarily want to deal with you in particular, or you as a person.”
Fu Hongxue finally understood. “He wants to deal with every single martial arts expert in the world.”
Madame Zhuo nodded. “Because he is determined to be the best in the world!”
Fu Hongxue sneered. “Can it be that he believes that if he defeated me, he would be the best in the world?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Up to this point in time, he has always believed this.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Then he is wrong as well.”
Madame Zhuo said, “He isn’t wrong.”
Fu Hongxue coldly said, “The martial world is filled with crouching tigers and hidden dragons, and the dusty world is filled with many marvelous people. Who knows how many people there are whose skills martial arts are far better than mine…”
Madame Zhuo interjected, “But up to this point in time, there still has not been anyone who can defeat you.”
Fu Hongxue shut his mouth.
Madame Zhuo said, “I, too, can tell that defeating you isn’t an easy task. You are definitely the most extraordinary person who has come here.”
Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but ask, “Many people have come here before?”
Madame Zhuo avoided this question, instead saying, “Not only is the collection of weapons on the wall very complete, they are all masterpieces. Anyone who practices martial arts would find it hard to resist giving them a few glances. Only you can be totally unmoved.”
Sighing, she said, “The strangest thing of all is, you didn’t even glance once at the painting.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Why must I look at it?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Give it a glance, and you will understand.”
Suddenly, a voice could be heard. “Since he is going to see it sooner or later, why the rush?”
A calm, leisurely voice, clearly coming from a person of good breeding, refined and urbane.
Originally, being too polite was a sign of being unfriendly and cold. But this voice carried a strange warmth, such warmth that it almost approached being brutal.
If there was a power in the world which was capable of exterminating everything, without question it must have been birthed from this warmth. And only a type of person such as Gongzi Yu could have such terrifying warmth. He clearly thirsted to meet Fu Hongxue as well. He knew that the time when they met would be a time for extermination. At least one of them would be exterminated.
Now, he was already standing behind Fu Hongxue. Within his hands, he held a long sword which could be pierced through Fu Hongxue’s vital points at any time.
What type of person was he? Was it a sword that he held in his hands?