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  Excursus
   GU LONG > Huopin Xiao Shiyi Lang || Chapter 26: Seven Blind People

CONDENSED: Early fall, two years after the start of the story. Feng Siniang was to marry Yang Kaitai, but after the ceremony, she ran away and ended up in the same mountain inn she visited two years ago. While taking her bath, she is interrupted by seven blind people who said that they wanted her to kill Xiao Shiyi Lang. Feng refused, afterwards the blind people showed her the severed hand of her friend, Hua Ping. Their conversation was interrupted by a "ding" sound coming from outside.


The blind men frowned and suddenly, four of them dashed inside, coming to stand next to the wooden tub. With a "du" sound, they poked its edges and inserted two poles to use them as support when they carried the wooden tub out.

As though they were palanquin carriers, these four people prepared to lift up the tub with Feng Siniang inside.

Moving their hands together and simultaneously raising their feet, the four people passed through the door and arrived outside.

Outside the door stood a person, facing the blue sky, watching bits of stone underneath the white clouds. In his hand was a short stick.

Though he was not blind, one of his legs was crippled.

With a gentle downwards stroke, the short stick in his hand struck a piece of rock and again the "ding" sound was heard, creating four sparks of light.

This short stick was actually made of iron.

Lowering his short stick, the person stood, gazing back. Although he was seventy-eight feet away, his eyes rested on Feng Siniang.

Feng sighed, muttering, "I didn't think I'd encounter a man like him today. And it looks like this man has never encountered a woman while she's in the bath either."

The mountain breeze blew and the sleeves of the cripple fluttered. In the wink of an eye, he arrived a great distance away.

This person had a handicapped leg, yet unexpectedly he could travel faster than any man walking on two legs.

The four blind people carried the tub with Feng inside, two people taking the left side while the other two taking the right. The rest followed behind. Although the path was rugged, they were nevertheless able to walk on steadily, splashing not a single drop of water from inside the tub.

That short cripple arrived at the top of an incline and made the "ding" sound, and they immediately followed.

Feng finally understood.

'The cripple is their guide.'

Undoubtedly, he knew that there was a naked, stunningly beautiful woman behind so he would not be able to help but turn around and look. But this man proved to be a true gentleman, determined only to maintain his status, not permitting himself to give in to the kind of idle talk most men have.

Could it be that this person's status was extremely high?

Could it be that he has also died once?

At the end of the cliff, the mountain breeze turned cold.

Feng Siniang started to regret and thought that she should have worn her clothes first.

Now, she was feeling really very cold, yet she could not just leap out of the tub and run around the place naked.

Moreover, she really wanted to know: Where were these strange blind people bringing her? And what did they want her to do?

Her curiosity was piqued.

She had always been the kind of woman who enjoyed excitement and liked taking risks.

But the blind people kept their mouths tightly shut.

Feng could not stand it anymore. "Hey," she called. "The one-legged gentleman in front. If you're really a gentleman, why don't you take your clothes off and give them to me?"

But the cripple did not turn his head. Not only was he a cripple, but also deaf.

Feng thought this was not unusual. If there were mute people who were blind, then there should also be deaf people who were lame.

The path on the mountain was originally going down, but after passing through a level area in the mountains, it was suddenly winding upwards.

Thereupon was a maple forest. The maple leaves already wore the red color of autumn.

Openly ignoring her companions, Feng started humming a verse in a low voice, "Stopping, [we] love to sit at night under a maple tree, [when] the red leaves of autumn bloom in February...."

Suddenly, the gentle silver bell-laughter of someone came from the maple forest. "Feng Siniang is truly amazing. Only she can sing at a time like this."

From her voice like the golden orioles in the valley, the speaker should be a very pretty and charming young girl.

That cripple was originally preparing to enter the maple forest when suddenly he dashed forward and soared high into the air before flipping over. "Who are you?" He shouted in a deep voice, as his body fell.

When he dropped to the ground, he unexpectedly ended up right behind Feng Siniang. But he did not dare look at Feng Siniang and neither did he allow her to see him.

The blind people's footsteps also stopped, their faces showing tensed expressions.

From the maple forest, the laughter continued like the ringing of silver bells. When it stopped, a young girl wearing a comb on her big glossy black braid came out, smiling.

With autumn's setting sun reflected on her fair face, she was a portrait of spring flowers.

Feng could not help blurting out, "What a pretty little girl..."

This young girl smiled delicately and said, "Compared to Feng Siniang, this little girl must be an eyesore."

"Seems like you're also bright," Feng replied, flattered. "Pretty little girl, you are not with this strange group, are you?"

The young girl bowed gracefully and said, "I am Xin Xin. I'm here to deliver these clothes to Feng Siniang."

"Xin Xin, that's a good name. Simple and beautiful like its owner." Happy with this thought, Feng sat up.

She saw that this Xin Xin girl was holding out a golden tray in her hands, on top of which were bolts of expensive clothes and bright-colored garments.

"Although we don't know what Feng Siniang's garment size is, we thought someone with such good figure would look attractive no matter what clothes she wears," Xin Xin informed, smiling.

"Such good manners in a young girl," Feng said, "you will certainly find a pleasant young gentleman in the future."

Xin Xin blushed, shaking her head and saying, "If there's anyone you should be grateful to, it's our family's Honorable Hua."

"Honorable Hua?" Feng asked.

"He knew Feng Siniang was in a hurry and had no time to put on clothes," Xin Xin replied. "The mountain winds are strong. He's afraid Feng Siniang might get cold so he sent me to give you these clothes."

Feng stepped forward. "How considerate of him."

Xin Xin bit her lip, smiling. "Not only is he considerate, he's also very gentle." Feng said, "Have I had the pleasure of meeting this Honorable Hua?"

"Not yet, but you will soon," Xin Xin said, smiling.

Feng smiled, too, saying, "Right, who wants to know right away? As long as he is a good, considerate man, no woman would object to speaking with him."

Smiling sweetly, Xin Xin said, "Honorable Hua only hopes that Feng Siniang would remember someone like him."

"I absolutely can't forget," Feng answered.

Taking two steps forward, the young girl held out the tray for her to take.

"Stop!" The cripple suddenly shouted.

When the young girl did not answer, Feng looked back and asked, "What do you want?" But the cripple paid her no heed. Instead, he said to Xin Xin, "This Honorable Hua, you say, is he Hua Ruyu?"

His voice was so low and deeply hoarse that it was difficult to understand.

"Besides Hua Ruyu, is there another in this world who is as considerate as Honorable Hua?" Xin Xin retorted.

"Where is he?" The cripple asked.

"Do you really want to know?" Xin Xin said. "Don't tell me you have business with him."

The cripple looked scared at that, unable to stop himself from taking two steps back.

"I thought so," Xin Xin said smugly. "Since you have nothing to do with him, then it's useless for me to tell you where he is." The cripple took a deep breath, before saying harshly, "Return these clothes. Hua Ruyu has touched them; they're poisonous. We don't want them."

"You might not want them but I do!" Feng interjected.

Xin Xin said, "Since Feng Siniang wants them, do you still insist on returning these clothes?"

He started to approach the girl, but when he reached for the clothes, he hesitated, looking fearful.

Xin Xin smiled faintly. "What are you afraid of? Even if a person's appearance is so terrible, he wouldn't dare to stop you...."

The cripple suddenly let out a sneer, the hand holding his short stick moving like lightning, heading straight for her throat.

This one was rapidly made as though imitating some type of fierce sword style. Not only was the sword style extremely high, but also the stance used was extremely deadly.

He unexpectedly used this kind of fierce style to do harm to a seventeen year-old girl. Feng thought the situation was already coming out of hand.

When Feng had these kind of thoughts, it was inevitable that someone would meet a great misfortune.

Who knew that someone would actually go look for misfortune?

As his stick thrust out, Xin Xin suddenly bent downwards, following the direction of his movement like fish in the water before moving away just as quickly.

Feng started. From her looks, she had never expected the young girl to have such good kung fu.

However, instead of changing directions, the cripple only shifted his body, performing the "Falling Dozen Golden Bells (Dao3 Da2 Jin1 Zhong1)." His short stick stopped, then moved downwards, targeting the ribs.

Xin Xin laughed coldly. "This is your first move. Then, you must be looking for bad luck. Don't blame me for giving it."

(NOTE: In the stance Falling Dozen Golden Bells, the same character for "dao3" is used in "dao3 mei2," which in Xin Xin's speech roughly means "looking for bad luck." She's basically mocking him, but the words do not translate.)

After these three sentences were finished, the cripple attacked, launching 15 moves. With the short stick in his hand used like a sword, his sword style vicious and cruel, undoubtedly his skills belonged to that of a first-class swordsman.

However, Xin Xin easily evaded him, smoothly slipping away. Then, suddenly, four daggers, shot out of her hand, emitting a cool light.

The cripple was making his 16th move when Xin Xin lifted her hand as though to pull up her sleeve. Instead, a "ding" sound was heard and the short stick made of steel broke under the force of her dagger.

"Didn't I say you are only looking for bad luck?" Xin Xin said, smiling. "Do you believe me now?"

Although her smile was adorable, it was actually very fearsome, like the cold sheen of her daggers flying towards him.

The cripple's iron stick was three feet in length, but after Feng put on the bright-colored embroidered gown in the fastest manner possible, what was left was only one foot and two inches.

The shining daggers enshrouded him from all sides. If all these daggers pierced him, it would be fatal. At first, Feng had worried for Xin Xin, but now she found herself a little worried for him instead.

Not only did she dislike killing people, she also disliked witnessing others getting killed in front of her.

Moreover, the sword style used by this cripple was very familiar so she thought she must know him.

But this girl had only good intentions in delivering these clothes. She could not help what the cripple said.

What was strange was how these seven blind people were not even worried and instead just stood there motionless, guarding, appearing like seven wooden statues.

All of a sudden, a "chi" sound rang out as a thin strip of blood splashed. On the cripple's shoulder was a seven-inch gash and his mouth was splattered with blood.

Xin Xin let out a wicked laugh, saying, "You kowtow to me like a good child and call me 'Third Great Aunt.' And I'll spare you."

The cripple launched another seven moves. Again there was a "ding" sound as the one-foot long short stick in his hand was cut anew -- cutting off a section of it.

It was doubtless that in Jianghu, he was considered a first-class swordsman. But in front of this young girl, his sword style was easily reduced to eighth-class.

Not only were Xin Xin's stances fast, the variations of her style was also very cunning and ingenious so that each attack against a person was inconceivable.

Feng honestly never thought that at such a young age, she could practice such kung fu.

"I ask you," Xin Xin was saying. "Are you ready to give up?"

The cripple abruptly issued a ferocious howl, hurling the short stick in his hand to the ground, before extending two of his fingers in a fierce stance, rushing to grab Xin Xin's throat.

Appearing stunned and startled by his savage cry, Xin Xin did not stab him with the dagger in her hand.

Both his hands were rushing towards her face.

But Xin Xin only smiled, saying softly, "You're really willing to kill me?"

Not only was her smile as soft and bright as spring flowers, but it was also as sweet as honey.

Mesmerized, the cripple's hand actually slowed down. Then, all at once, Xin Xin's smile turned cold like snow as the shining blade of the dagger headed straight for his throat.

He was not willing to kill this young girl, but this girl apparently could kill him in but a wink of an eye.

At that moment, a fierce wind suddenly blew from the maple forest as a five-foot long whip lashed out like a huge snake. Another fierce wind and the whip's tip lightly brushed against Xin Xin's wrist, sending the dagger flying off her hand.

After that, her body was thrown off and spun four or five times in midair before falling back down, where she rolled several more times on the ground before managing to come to a halt. The hand that had been holding the dagger was now red and swollen.

Feng herself also used a whip.

She knew that the longer a whip was, the more difficult it was to control.

Not only did she not know that there was such a long whip, but also that such a flexible one existed.

No matter who can use such a long whip and move it with such dexterity, he must certainly be someone of formidable character.

She suddenly thought that today was an extremely unlucky day. Today, she was going to meet someone who was very formidable and frightening.

As she waited for him to arrive, only then did she realize that the person's appearance truly was frightening.

He was terrible, a monster incarnate.

For Xin Xin, today was indeed an unlucky day.

Clutching with her other hand the swollen one that had been struck, the pain was already enough to make her want to cry. However, when she saw this person, she was so afraid she wanted to cry but dared not do so.

This person neither walked nor rode on a carriage. And he certainly did not crawl.

He was sitting on the head of a person. The person he was sitting on was a giant, with the big head of a Han and a body that was 9-foot tall, bare-chested and wearing a large hat.

The hat was shaped like a square table and on its flat surface sat the man, wearing an embroidered gown which revealed a flying bird-pattern in five different colors, but the left sleeve was empty.

His face was not hideous even with his pale complexion. His carriage was proud, his eyes bright and shining, and on top his head of jet-black hair sat a crown of precious pearls.

As a matter of fact, if one only looked at his face, one can even say that he was a very handsome man.

However, his body seemed to emanate a dark cloud. After a careful look, one could see that he was actually not sitting down but standing up, supported on two stumps where his legs were cut off. Out of this person's four limbs, his single right hand was the only one that remained. He was clutching the five-feet long whip in his right hand.

Feng gasped, thinking that today really was a very unlucky day.

The blood drained from Xin Xin's face. All of a sudden, she said in a loud voice, "He started it. If you don't believe me, you can ask him!"

This person gave her a cold stare. After a long time, he nodded slowly. "I know," he said.

His voice, too, was unexpectedly clear and bright with a very pleasing tone. If not for his handicap, he would obviously be very attractive to women.

Xin Xin said, "I'm only here at Honorable Hua's request, to deliver these clothes to Feng Siniang."

"I know," the person said.

Xin Xin breathed a sigh of relief. Forcing a smile, she said, "Since you already know everything then I'll take my leave."

"Take your leave," the person replied. Without another word, Xin Xin turned around.

When this person did not try to stop her, Feng could not help thinking that he was not as terrible as he looked.

Who knew that barely had Xin Xin rushed into the maple forest when she suddenly returned. Originally, her right arm was already swollen, now it turned out that her legs were swollen as well. Her face, which used to be bright like spring flowers, had also turned ashen. She hissed, "There's poison on your whip?"

"You're correct," the person replied.

"Do...." Xin Xin started to say. "Do you have an antidote?"

The person said, "Do you know how I lost both my legs and one arm?"

Xin Xin shook her head.

"I cut them off," the person said.

"Why did you cut off your hand?" Xin Xin asked.

"Because my hand was hit by someone else's poison," he answered.

Xin Xin looked like she was struck with a whip. She froze and said in a perplexed voice, "You... You're saying you want me to become handicapped?"

This person said coldly, "Why not? Every person here is already handicapped."

Pointing at the person in front, Xin Xin said, "He's not handicapped." All of a sudden, this person opened his mouth to smile.

Xin Xin was startled.

This person had four limbs. He was not blind nor was he lame. However, he actually did not have a tongue in his mouth.

Xin Xin looked up at him, and suddenly tears streamed down her face. "You really want to cut off my hand?" She asked.

The person answered, "If the hand is poisoned, it must be cut off. If the leg is poisoned, it must be cut off."

Xin Xin burst into tears and said, "But.... But I don't want to."

"If you don't," the person said, "then you'll die in three hours."

Unable to stop herself, Feng interrupted, "How can she do as you say? She's a woman."

The person answered coldly, "A woman is also mortal."

"Do mortals sit on top of someone's head, too?" Feng retorted.

The person said, "I am a top man."

(NOTE: The Pinyin used is shang4 ren4 which literally means "top man." Get the pun? :D )

"A top man?" Feng repeated.

"If you can endure bitter hardships, then you're a top man," the person said.

"You have endured bitter hardships?" Feng asked.

The person answered, "If you've experienced cutting off your own two legs and your hand, then you'll know what kind of hardships I have endured."

Feng had no choice but to agree. This person had indeed endured bitter hardships.

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