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There was a time when I was really into wuxia. My interest bore fruit: one website dedicated to the anime adaptation of Jin Yong's popular novel, Shen Diao Xia Lu and a few piecemeal translations of other wuxia novels. One of these novels is Xiao Shiyi Lang, a two-part series of novels by Gu Long. In particular, I've been sporadically translating the second installment in the series, simply called Houpin Xiao Shiyi Lang. Below is the completed translation of Chapter 4 of the same book (Chapter 29 if you count the chapters in the first book):

Chapter 29: To Follow Somebody Closely

When a woman has no choice but to accept her own destiny, then she has to let destiny take its course.

However, who knew that Hua Ruyu would suddenly sigh, and say, "No need to wait for later. At present, I am already regretting this."

Feng Siniang could not help asking, "You regret what?"

Hua Ruyu said, "I regret I'm not a man."

Feng Siniang could only stare at him blankly.

Sighing softly, Hua Ruyu gently touched her, saying, "If I were a man, wouldn't I be very happy now?"

Feng Siniang could not help shouting as she sat up. "You...you're also a woman?"

Hua Ruyu said, "Do you want me to strip naked to prove it?"

Feng Siniang's face turned red with anger. "You...you...you cad."

There was a "pu" sound as Hua Ruyu let out a laugh, saying, "I am a woman. Why are you angry? Are you disappointed?"

Her hand was still moving.

Feng Siniang blushed, saying, "Take your hand off me."

Hua Ruyu asked, "If I were a man, would you tell me to take my hand off?"

Feng Siniang bit her lip and said, "If you weren't a cad."

Hua Ruyu laughed.

Feng Siniang said bitterly, "I ask you, since you are a woman, why do such a thing?"

Smiling, Hua Ruyu replied, "Because I like you."

As her hand continued what it was doing, her smile turned into giggles. She said, "It seems that your powers of seduction do not discriminate between man or woman. They work on both."

Feng Siniang said, "Are you going to take your hand off?"

"No," Hua Ruyu answered. "Don't forget you are my wife. In this lifetime, it's your fate to be my wife. No matter how much you want to deny it, there's nothing you can do."

Feng Siniang let out a sigh as she suddenly realized something.

No matter what kind of man a woman married, it would at least be better than being married to another woman -- much better: if a woman married a woman, it would be truly annoying.

Now even this wedding chamber does not seem like a wedding chamber.

Suddenly,Feng Siniang asked, "You really want to marry me?"

"Of course," Hua Ruyu said with a smile.

"But why?" Feng Sininang inquired.

Hua Ruyu's eyes were serious as she said, "If I tell you the truth, will you be good?"

"Of course," Feng Siniang answered.

Hua Ruyu said, "If you were my wife you cannot marry him."

Feng Siniang asked, "Who?"

"Xiao Shiyi Lang! Who else but Xiao Shiyi Lang!" Hua Ruyu spoke.

Feng Siniang's face sank as she said, "You don't want me to marry Xiao Shiyi Lang?"

"Hmm," Hua Ruyu said.

"Is it because you want to marry him?" Feng Siniang persisted.

Hua Ruyu smiled and said, "If I were your husband, of course, I could no longer marry him."

"Is there another?" Feng Siniang asked.

"Hmm."

"Who?"

"You should know," Hua Ruyu told her.

"Shen Bijun?" Feng Siniang suggested.

Hua Ruyu sighed, speaking, "She is already in a pitiful situation. If Xiao Shiyi Lang married you, that would drive her crazy."

Feng Siniang sneered. "In fact, you don't have to worry about it. Even if all the men in the world died, I would never marry him."

Hua Ruyu asked, "Do you mean it?"

Feng Siniang did not speak. She knew that a woman lied only to fool men.

In front of Hua Ruyu, a woman, no matter what she said, it would be of no use.

Hua Ruyu sighed, saying, "No matter what, you know that if Xiao Shiyi Lang was asked to come here, you'd also come."

"Then did you ask him to come?" Feng Siniang said coldly.

Hua Ruyu replied, "This Chaos Rock Mountain could have been a desolate place, even the Chief of the Guanzhong bandits, at most only made this their lair, yet today this place has attracted many great personages."

Feng siniang wondered, "That monster who sits on top of another, don't tell me he is also a great personage?"

Hua Ruyu said, "No matter how ruthless the heart is, if somebody chopped off both arms and both legs, how can he not be regarded as a great personage?"

Feng Siniang had to admit, that Ren Shangren is indeed courageous.

A courageous man is a powerful man.

"Li Qingfeng followed him here in order to find Xiao Shiyi Lang," Hua Ruyu continued.

"What does he have against Xiao Shiyi Lang?" Feng Siniang asked.

"Li Qingfeng is the father of Li Gang, who died at the hands of Xiao Shiyi Lang," Hua Ruyu replied.

Feng Siniang was startled. "No wonder Li Gang refused to speak of his family background. His father is actually a lone bandit."

Hua Ruyu snorted. "But the father is much stronger than the son."

Feng Siniang agreed, "Li Qingfeng is at least not a hypocrite."

"Jin Pusa as well, naturally has no good intentions," Hua Ruyu said, "and besides them, there are still many others harboring evil designs. Only I am different."

Feng Siniang sneeringly said, "Are you saying you are a good person?"

"I've always been a good person," Hua Ruyu stated.

"Then what is a good person like you doing here?" Feng Siniang challenged.

"A good person of course wants to do good things," Hua Ruyu said.

"And what good thing is that?" Feng Siniang asked.

Instead of answering directly, Hua Ruyu said, "What are you doing here?"

"You know I'm obviously here to find Xiao Shiyi Lang," Feng Siniang said.

"Wasn't it him who asked you to come?" Hua Ruyu inquired.

"No," Feng Siniang said.

Ever since that day, until now, she had not seen Xiao Shiyi Lang's face.

"When you heard rumors that he was roaming around in Jianghu, you came here just to meet him," Hua Ruyu said.

"Because I couldn't find him. These past two years, we've simply lost contact," Feng Siniang spoke.

"So," Hua Ruyu said, "how do you know the rumors are true?"

Feng Siniang sighed. She actually did not know.

She only came here just to try her luck.

Hua Ruyu said, "Perhaps these people deliberately spread the rumor, lure you here, use you as bait to catch Xiao Shiyi Lang."

Feng Siniang forced a smile, saying, "Now that I think about it, that seems to be the case."

Sighing, Hua Ruyu said, "Everyone can hardly avoid being fooled. You weren't the only one."

"Apart from me, who else?" Feng Siniang asked.

"Shen Bijun," Hua Ruyu answered.

"She's also here?" Feng Siniang wondered.

Hua Ruyu said, "She's sure to come."

"Isn't she together with Xiao Shiyi Lang?" Feng Siniang questioned.

"No," Hua Ruyu replied. "Like you, she's been looking for Xiao Shiyi Lang these past two years."

Feng Siniang frowned, saying, "Is it possible the heavens blessed her with more than two eyes because she's actually blind?"

"The heavens bless women with sight, but not Shen Bijun," Hua Ruyu said.

"No?" Feng Siniang asked.

Hua Ruyu said, "In a perfect world, there is only one Shen Bijun but the beautiful woman who is with Xiao Shiyi Lang is not Shen Bijun."

Feng Siniang bit her lip and said sneeringly, "This man seems lucky in love."

"But sooner or later, he'll run out of luck," Hua Ruyu predicted.

Feng Siniang could not help but exclaim, "He's still alive, isn't he."

"But this time, he is more unlucky than Shen Bijun," Hua Ruyu said.

"Oh?" Feng Siniang sounded.

"To catch a big fish," Hua Ruyu said, "using Shen Bijun as bait is the best way."

"Indeed," Feng Siniang had to agree, "the fish is more unlucky than the bait."

"Good thing the fish hasn't taken the bait," Hua Ruyu said, "even though the bait is already on the hook."

Feng Siniang asked, "She's already on the hook?"

"Not just one but two hooks," Hua Ruyu replied.

"Two hooks?" Feng Siniang repeated.

"Two big hooks," Hua Ruyu emphasized.

Feng Siniang thought about it, then said, "A big hook to catch a big fish."

Hua Ruyu let out a sigh as she said, "Although Shen Bijun is unaware she's firmly hooked."

Feng Siniang glanced at her, saying, "Are you concerned about her?"

"I am a good person," Hua Ruyu said.

"A good person sometimes harbors evil designs," Feng Siniang stated.

Hua Ruyu laughingly asked, "Are you jealous?"

Feng Siniang did not laugh. "I'm just wondering, that's all."

"In fact, I'm not just concerned about her, I'm also concerned about Xiao Shiyi Lang," Hua Ruyu revealed.

"Oh?" Feng Siniang sounded.

"So I hope you'll help me take Shen Bijun off the hook," Hua Ruyu said. "If the hook has no bait, the fish will not bite."

"Why should I help you?" Feng Siniang retorted. "How should I know it wasn't you who put the hook?"

"You should believe me," Hua Ruyu told her.

"Why?" Feng Siniang asked.

"Because I am your husband," Hua Ruyu answered. "If the wife doesn't believe her own husband, who would believe him?"

Feng Siniang looked at her. Finally, she sighed and said, "Fortunately, you are a woman. Otherwise, I'd fall for you."

"I have already fallen for you," Hua Ruyu said.

She moved her fingers again, her hand was truly terrible.

Feng Siniang felt as if all the bones in her whole body went limp. She could not help but shout, "If you don't take your crafty hands off me, I'll...I'll..."

Hua Ruyu let out a laugh. "You'll what?"

Feng Siniang bit her lip hard, then said, "I'm going to cheat on you."

At present, Hua Ruyu was putting on clothes so gorgeous they looked like royal garments. It made her face look more radiant, her elegance coming out like the unfolding of a peacock's tail feathers.

She stood in front of the dressing mirror, turning left, then right, clearly satisfied with her own appearance.

Feng Siniang could not help laughing. "No wonder people say that women like to look in the mirror, especially if she's wearing pretty clothes."

Hua Ruyu also laughed. "This has always been my weakness. Rice, I can stand not eating. But pretty clothes, I can't help but wear."

She added, "Because most people look at the clothes first before they look at the person."

"Other people are so preoccupied with your clothes, they often can't tell whether the person is a man or a woman," Feng Siniang said.

Smiling, Hua Ruyu said, "It's good. So even if there are many who think I look a bit like a woman, they also can't help but think I'm a man, when I really am a woman."

"But why do you pretend to be a man?" Feng Siniang questioned.

"Because like women, I like men," Hua Ruyu replied.

Feng Siniang laughed, saying, "Do you always sleep in such nice clothes?"

"I always sleep naked," Hua Ruyu said. "But now I'm not at all sleepy."

"You don't want to sleep?" Feng Siniang asked.

"No," Hua Ruyu said.

Feng Siniang looked at her. "What do you want to do?"

Hua Ruyu answered, "Attend a party."

"It's the middle of the night," Feng Siniang said. "Are any guests coming to such a party?"

"In this place," Hua Ruyu explained, "we sleep in the daytime."

"Don't tell me everyone here is a nightowl," Feng Siniang said.

"You can't see anyone during the day," Hua Ruyu told her.

Feng Siniang rolled her eyes. "Do I have to go with you?"

"As a newlywed couple, of course, we must go together," Hua Ruyu said. "Especially since the one who invited all the guests is an old friend of yours."

"Which friend?" Feng Siniang wondered. "Jin Pusa?"

"Wrong," Hua Ruyu said.

"If it's not him, then who?" Feng Siniang pressed.

Hua Ruyu said, "Who else would invite all these people but the chief of the thirteen villages of Guanzhong himself."

"'Fast Knife' Hua Ping?" Feng Siniang guessed.

"Correct!" Hua Ruyu said.

"But his arms seemed to have been cut off," Feng Siniang pointed out.

Hua Ruyu giggled, saying, "It's not as if an armless man can't host a party."

"Will he be in a partying mood?" Feng Siniang asked.

"Anyway, the important thing is that he sent out the invitations to all these people," Hua Ruyu said.

Feng Siniang said, "He thinks it's his own decision to send out these invitations, but there's someone manipulating things from behind the scenes."

"You really are clever!" Hua Ruyu exclaimed.

Feng Siniang stared at her. "Who is it?"

"Me," Hua Ruyu answered.

Feng Siniang smiled. "I've long thought it was you. Who else but you can come up with this?"

Hua Ruyu sighed, saying, "The flattery of a woman makes a foolish man glad."

Feng Siniang said sweetly, "Besides you, who else?"

"Everyone who is here is invited," Hua Ruyu stated.

"Ren Shangren, Li Qingfeng, Jin Pusa, they're all coming?" Feng Siniang questioned.

"Certainly," Hua Ruyu answered.

"Why?' Feng Siniang asked.

Hua Ruyu said, "Because tonight there is a special guest."

"Who?" Feng Siniang inquired.

"Shen Bijun," Hua Ruyu replied.

Feng Siniang stared at her, stunned. Then she let out a strong exhale, saying, "It seems tonight's banquet would surely be bustling with noise and excitement."

Hua Ruyu's eyes twinkled as she gave a peculiar smile. She said slowly, "Definitely very exciting..."

Quick gathering in the main hall, brilliant light.

'Fast Knife' Hua Ping, wearing a scarlet cloak draped over his shoulders, sat on the tiger arm chair, but his complexion was terribly pale.

He sat motionless, like he was in another world, pale face, no expression, and even though people came and went in front of him, it seemed as if he did not see them.

If he did not seem like a hospitable host, the people equally did not seem like cheerful guests.

Besides Jin Pusa, everyone looked dour, Ren Shangren who sat on the head of that giant Han, Li Qingfeng holding his golden bow so tight it looked like he was ready to draw.

Not one person opened his mouth to send a polite greeting to the host.

They did not come here for the host and they did not bother to hide this fact.

The hall which should have been bustling with noise and excitement was as cold and somber as a grave.

After a while, Feng Siniang and Hua Ruyu suddenly appeared, and it was as if two peacocks suddenly joined a flock of chickens.

No matter what kind of party, Feng Siniang always stood out and made the guests turn their heads.

Tonight, she looked even more radiant, who could tell that not only was she a thirty-five year-old woman but also someone who was already dead.

When they saw her, everyone's eyebrows seemed to go up two inches, their eyes growing big.

After all, seeing with one's own eyes a dead person walk among the living was not something that happened often.

Feng Siniang swept her gaze over them, her eyes settling on someone. She said sweetly, "It's only been half a day since I last saw you, yet you don't recognize me?"

Jin Pusa started coughing, as though he had a sudden bout of the cold.

"Are you sick?" Feng Siniang inquired.

Jin Pusa smiled with difficulty as he said, "If I am sick, then it must be lovesickness. Every time I see you, I must suffer this kind of sickness."

Feng Siniang smiled, saying, "You must never have this kind of sickness again. Otherwise, my mister would be jealous."

Jin Pusa looked stunned. "Your mister?"

"Don't you know 'mister' means husband?" Feng Siniang said.

"You..." Jin Pusa started. "You got married?"

"Sooner or later, a woman must get married," Feng Siniang confirmed.

Jin Pusa could not stop from asking, "Who did you marry?"

"Me," said Hua Ruyu.

Jin Pusa looked startled.

Everyone looked startled.

Turning to Ren Shangren, Feng Siniang said sweetly, "Now we're even."

"What are you talking about?" Ren Shangren asked.

"I've already died once," Feng Siniang replied.

Ren Shangren looked like he was about to start coughing.

"I died and got married," Feng Siniang said, smirking. "These two occurrences do not happen very often, but I unexpectedly experienced both in just one day. Don't you think that's unusual?"

Indeed, not every person could go through the same experiences in only one day.

Feng Siniang then walked up to Hua Ping, facing him. With a small smile, she said, "It's been two years since I last saw you."

Hua Ping nodded slowly. "Two years," he said. "Exactly two years."

"That means," Feng Siniang said, "we've been friends for more than ten years already."

"I am not your friend," Hua Ping said coldly. "I don't have friends."

"Just because you don't have hands doesn't mean you don't have friends," Feng Siniang said. "One can live without the use of hands. But can a person live without friends?"

Hua Ping's pale face twitched. All of a sudden, he stood up and left, never to return.

He had never been able to stand other people's pity.

Feng Siniang let out a dejected sigh. Then, turning her head, she tried to search for the cripple whom she thought she saw earlier sitting behind Ren Shangren. He, after all, was the person she wanted to see.

But unexpectedly, he was nowhere to be seen.

"Why does he always want to hide from me? Why does he never dare to see my face?"

Feng Siniang just did not know what to think.

As she sat down with Hua Ruyu, she suddenly saw Shen Bijun.

The first time she saw Shen Bijun, she thought that Shen Bijun was the most elegant, beautiful and graceful woman in the world.

Now, she still thought the same.

But Shen Bijun had actually changed. She'd become more sullen, her face paler, her complexion sallow, but all these changes only seemed to make her even more beautiful -- breathtakingly beautiful.

Her soft and clear eyes showed the barest ripple as if a spring breeze skimmed on water. Her hair was soft and shiny, her waist graceful like a willow's branches in the breeze.

She was not the kind of woman an impulsive man should see, because no matter what kind of man saw her, they could not help but be drawn in by her charms and forget everything.

She walked slowly.

She was artless, but every move she made revealed elegance, beauty and charm.

She was not wearing particularly beautiful clothes, nor was she wearing any jewelry, because these things on her would only be superfluous.

No matter how precious the jewelry and accessories, they could do nothing to enhance her charms.

And no matter how gorgeous the clothes were, they could not make her any more beautiful.

Why was a lovely woman like her born so unlucky?

Suddenly, all the people in the hall seemed to have stopped breathing.

This was the most beautiful woman in the martial arts world, Shen Bijun.

They finally laid their eyes on Shen Bijun.

They could not count the times they heard the sad and beautiful story about her and Xiao Shiyi Lang.

Now she was standing in front of them in person.

They really wanted to stare but they did not dare do so.

Not because they were afraid of being rude, but because behind her were two pairs of blade-like eyes.

Shen Bijun did not come alone.

There were two people behind her.

Both were slim and lanky, like two bamboo stilts, and were rather old.

They were wearing gowns, but these were gorgeous and of unusual quality, one was red, the other green, red like cherry, green like plantain.

They looked tired, their hair gray, but when they walked into the hall, everyone suddenly felt a sharp murderous presence.

The unusual force of a sharp weapon, certainly the qi of a double-edged sword.

When one disregarded human lives in order to reach the ultimate level of martial arts, there grows also a murderous spirit.

No matter what anyone thought, these two men must be multiple murderers.

Upon seeing these two men, Li Qingfeng's expression changed.

These two people belonged to his time, of course Li Qingfeng would know their backgrounds.

Feng Siniang knew as well.

She could not help but whisper harshly, "Hook."

Hua Ruyu said, "Two big hooks."

"I've seen them," Feng Siniang disclosed.

"At Xiaoyao Hu's Puppet Villa?" Hua Ruyu asked.

Feng Siniang nodded.

When Xiao Shiyi Lang and Xiaoyao Hu dueled that day, these two old men met them at the road.

"Since you already know, then I don't have to explain, right?" Hua Ruyu said.

Feng Siniang nodded.

She did not at all know what their relationship was with Xiaoyao Hu, only that they were Xiaoyao Hu's hangers-on.

As Xiaoyao Hu's hangers-on, it was very likely they did not have any good intentions with Xiao Shiyi Lang.

"So you have to find ways to let Shen Bijun know," Hua Ruyu told her.

"I don't see how," Feng Siniang muttered.

"See that door behind us?" Hua Ruyu pointed out.

Feng siniang saw the narrow door.

"Outside that door, you can see a small log cabin," Hua Ruyu said.

Feng Siniang listened.

"It's a women's bathroom. If you can think of a way to take Shen Bijun there, you can speak with her freely," Hua Ruyu said.

Considering the status of the men here, of course they would never go to such a place to eavesdrop.

Feng Siniang whispered, "Good idea. I'll think of a way."

They were whispering as newly married couples often did.

But when the two old men noticed, their gazes swept over them like lightning.

Feng Siniang knew that they could not hear them, still she could not help feeling alarmed.

Fortunately, she saw that Shen Bijun was smiling gently.

Of course, Shen Bijun recognized the "Ghostly Bride," and was smiling at her.

Feng Siniang returned the smile.

The red-gowned old man suddenly said, "I did not expect 'Golden bow silver pellet tiger-beheading saber, chasing the clouds, capturing the moon, floating on water' Li Qingfeng would be here."

The green-gowned old man said, "He probably did not expect us here, too."

Li Qingfeng's face went ashen as he said coldly, "So you two are not dead yet, how unexpected."

"Yet you seem angry," the red-gowned old man said.

The green-gowned old man said, "Seems like you can't let us off easy. You were also angry thirty years ago."

"Indeed," Li Qingfeng sneered. "I was angry before. I was alone, I didn't have a lackey."

The red-gowned old man's face sank as he said, "I challenged you but you did not accept."

"Even alone, I could deal with you at any time," the green-gowned old man said.

"If I had a lackey, I will not call upon him to fight two against one, but just let him cheer from the sidelines," Li Qingfeng retorted.

The red-gowned old man said, "Well."

"Very well," the green-gowned old man intoned.

"Will you do it, or shall I?" The red-gowned old man asked.

The green-gowned old man replied, "It's my turn."

Li Qingfeng laughed heartily, saying, "Good. Very good. We'll settle this thirty-year-old score once and for all."

Although these three men were already advanced in years, yet like ginger, the older they were, the stronger they got.

Thirty years ago, they got into a little squabble which until now they could not forget.

Li Qingfeng stood up abruptly, followed by the green-gowned old man.

Shen Bijun, who had been calmly watching from the side, suddenly let out a light sigh, saying softly, "If seniors want to kill each other here, they ought to ask permission from the host first."

Her voice retained its former elegance and gentleness but her words were barbed.

From these two years of roaming about, she had learned a lot of things.

The green-gowned old man looked at Li Qingfeng and said coldly, "Since you and I are not dead yet, there's no hurry."

Li Qingfeng sneered, but at last he slowly sat down.

Feng Siniang laughed.

She stepped forward, pulled Shen Bijun's hand, and said affectionately, "I, too, was not expecting you. I'm sure you weren't expecting me as well."

Shen Bijun smiled, and nodded.

Still smiling, Feng Siniang added, "Fortunately, between us, there is no old score to settle."

"You haven't changed," Shen Bijun said sweetly.

"But you seemed to have changed," Feng Siniang commented.

Shen Bijun's eyes clouded over, head bowed in sadness, silent.

Feng Siniang continued to smile. "But I am still a ghostly bride while every time I see you, you look like a bride."

Shen Bijun was very surprised but did not ask her how she was made a bride.

Her family background and fine upbringing was the same as before, she never tried to pry into other people's personal affairs.

Feng Siniang blinked, then glancing at her, she said, "You must have traveled far and just arrived here."

"Ah," Shen Bijun sounded.

Feng Siniang said, "So you must have..."

She suddenly leaned towards Shen Bijun and whispered in a low voice.

Shen Bijun blushed, face red, and nodded.

Feng Siniang laughed, saying, "This is not something to be ashamed of. I'll show you."

She really started pulling Shen Bijun's hand, leading her to the side towards that narrow door.

Shen Bijun's face became redder, but she kept her head low and followed her.

The two men followed them with their gazes but their eyes were smiling, they knew of course what Feng Siniang and Shen Bijun were going to do.

They thought that Feng Siniang was a really clever woman for handling such an extremely delicate matter.

Other invited guests were still coming in through that door but she actually managed to make it to the bathroom.

Other than Feng Siniang, who could resolve this kind of matter?

Also, only Feng Siniang could have thought of such a thing at that moment. If it were other people, it would just be too shocking.


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End of Chapter 29

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