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Su Pu saw the tip of the sword sparkle as it moved exactly like a spitting python. He did not know which part of his body the tip of the sword was going to pierce. He was unable to block off a blow, and his enemy sent his long sword right into his face. He hurriedly cocked his head to one side, but the side of his neck was still stabbed. Blood flowed profusely. Chen Dahai did not retreat once he had gained the upper hand. Another thrust of his sword, and he had stabbed Su Pu’s wrist. His sabre fell to the ground with a crash.
He was about to thrust his sword out a third time. Su Pu was utterly defenceless and was certainly going to be killed. Li Wenxiu stepped forward, and waited until he thrust his sword out the third time, then she would use ‘Great Adept Seize’ to grab his arm. But A’man leapt forward, and shielded Su Pu, crying out, “Don’t harm him!” When Chen Dahai saw that A’man’s beautiful face was full of anxiety, his heart skipped a beat. He did not send his sword out a third time, but pointed his tip at her chest, and laughed, “You’re so concerned about him; is this lad your lover?” A’man blushed slightly and nodded her head. Chen Dahai said, “Fine, I’ll spare his life if you want me to. But once the hailstorm dies down tomorrow, you’ll have to leave with me!”
He had hated Hans his entire life, but now this belief was wavering. He was furious at himself for being so drunk last night and was thus unable to battle with that Han bandit. Instead, he needed another Han to come and rescue him. In his entire life, when something critical happened, he was always so unfortunate, always so unlucky. But when that bandit’s long sword had struck his head just now, that young man had arrived in the nick of time to rescue him. Could this be considered misfortune? Could this be considered bad luck?
Su Pu was greatly angered. With a tremendous roar, he leapt forward from behind A’man. With a flick of his sword, Chen Dahai had pointed it at Su Pu’s throat. Chen Dahai’s left foot kicked Su Pu’s leg, and the latter crashed to the ground. The long sword was still pointed at his throat.
Li Wenxiu stood at the side, watching intently. As soon as Chen Dahai truly intended to harm Su Pu, she would step in and save him. At this time, with her martial arts skills, dealing with Chen Dahai would be as easy as a flip of the palm.
But how could A’man have known that help was at hand? As the circumstances were pressing, she could only say, “Don’t hurt him; I’ll agree to your request.” Chen Dahai was jubilant, but did not move his sword away. He said, “You’ve agreed to leave with me tomorrow, and you’d better not go back on your promise.” A’man gritted her teeth, “I won’t go back on my promise; you can take the sword away.” Chen Dahai laughed uproariously, and said, “Even if you do go back on your word, you won’t be able to escape!” He then placed his sword back in its sheath, then picked Su Pu’s sabre up, and held it tightly in his hand. In this manner, the only person in the cottage with weapons was him, and he did not need to fear that they would resist him. He looked out of the window and said, “We can’t leave at this moment, so we’ll have to wait until the weather’s fine to exhume the grave.”
A’man helped Su Pu to one side. When she saw that his neck was bleeding profusely, she was in a flurry. She was about to tear off a piece of her clothes to bandage his wound when he removed a large handkerchief from his bosom, and said, “Use this handkerchief to bandage my wound then!” A’man received the handkerchief, and bandaged his wound properly. When she thought that she had landed in the clutches of this strong opponent, and did not know if she would have to opportunity to escape, she began to weep. In a low voice, Su Pu cursed, “Damnable bandit, damnable bandit!” He decided that if this bandit really tried to take A’man away, he would fight it out with him even at the risk of losing his life.
After the fight just now, the five people sitting around the fire felt extremely nervous. In one hand, Chen Dahai held the sabre; in the other, a bowl of wine. He would glance at A’man, then Su Pu from time to time. Outside the house, the northerly winds howled angrily, bringing up pieces of snow which hit the walls and roof of the cottage. Nobody spoke a word.
Li Wenxiu thought, “I’ll let this evil bandit have the time of his life first; there’s no hurry to kill him.” Suddenly, one of the pieces of firewood in the fire exploded with a resounding clap. The flame diminished slightly, then shone brilliantly, illuminating each person’s expression clearly. Li Wenxiu saw the handkerchief bound around Su Pu’s neck, and her heart trembled, and stared at it without blinking. Old man Ji spotted the strange light in her eyes, and also glanced at that handkerchief several times. He asked, “Where did you get that handkerchief from, Su Pu?” Su Pu was taken aback momentarily, then touched his neck, and said, “Are you talking about this one? It was given to me by that A’xiu who has since died. When we were young, we used to herd sheep together. There was a big grey wolf which came to attack us. I killed that wolf but also got bitten by it. A’xiu used this handkerchief to bandage my wounds…” When Li Wenxiu heard these words, her vision became blurry. Her eyes had by then filled with tears. Old man Ji walked into the inner rooms, and took out a piece of white cloth. He handed it to Su Pu, saying, “Please untie the handkerchief and let me look at it closely; you can use this piece of cloth to bandage your wound.” Su Pu asked, “Why?” While old man Ji was speaking, Chen Dahai kept staring at the handkerchief tied around Su Pu’s neck. Suddenly, he got up, sabre pointed, and shouted, “Do as you’re told!” Su Pu glared at him, refusing to move. A’man feared that Chen Dahai might use force, so she untied it for Su Pu, and gave it to old man Ji. Then she used the piece of white cloth to bandage his wound.
Old man Ji placed the blood-stained handkerchief on the table. He lit an oil lamp, and bent over to scrutinize the handkerchief. Chen Dahai stared at it for a while, then cried joyfully, “Yes, yes, this is the map of the Gao Chang Labyrinth!” He stretched his hand out and grabbed it, laughing heartily, over the moon in happiness.
Old man Ji’s right arm twitched, as if he wanted to snatch it back, but finally managed to restrain himself.
Then they heard someone call from far away, “Su Pu, Su Pu…” Then someone else called out loudly, “A’man, A’man…” Su Pu and A’man leapt up together, crying in unison, “Father is looking for us.” Su Pu rushed to the door and was about to open it when he felt a sudden coolness at the back of his neck. A long sword was next to his neck. Coldly, Chen Dahai said, “Sit down and don’t move!” Su Pu had no choice but to sit down dejectedly.
After a while, the two people’s footsteps approached the entrance. They heard Su Lu’ke say, “Is this that thieving Han’s home? I’m not going inside.” Che Erku answered, “Not going inside? Where will we seek shelter from the blizzard then? My ears and nose are so frozen that they might drop off.” Su Lu’ke was holding a gourd of wine, and had been drinking along the way to drive away the coldness. By this time he was almost drunk, and muttered, “I’d rather lose my head to frostbite than enter a Han’s home!” Che Erku said, “You can stay outside and freeze to death in the blizzard then. I’m going in.” Su Lu’ke answered, “We haven’t found my son or your daughter, so how can we seek shelter in a Han’s home? You… you don’t have an ounce of heroism.” Che Erku said, “We didn’t see any sign of them on the way here; they must’ve sought shelter somewhere, so there’s no need to worry about them. The two old ones might just freeze to death even before the two young ones are found.”
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