|So far, the mystery here is about a letter... (Source)|
Chapter 8 (CLH finally found a clue)
Chor Lau-heung dove into Tay-bing Lake, pursued by the hypnotised Fell Cut. Here we learn again that Chor tai-gor was an excellent swimmer and diver (duh, his house was a boat!), and he was very fast and agile in the water. CLH almost effortlessly immobilised Fell Cut underwater and brought him back to the lake shore. CLH then dove back to the lake and pursued the harpist, who turned out to be a white-robed monk playing the zither on a small boat. The monk didn’t seem to realise that his zither had a lethal effect to Fell Cut. The monk was none other than Biau-ceng Bu-hoa, the monk CLH saw in Chapter 3 (Bu-hoa = flowerless). The monk recognized CLH despite the latter’s disguise. Giving up, CLH unmasked himself.
Chor tai-gor then explained to Bu-hoa how three people had recognized him today. The first one was the monk himself, the second one was Fell Cut, and the third one the killer. Bu-hoa threw away his zither into the lake upon hearing Fell Cut’s name for the latter was a murderer, hence Bu-hoa’s zither has been tainted (for Fell Cut had heard its melody). Bu-hoa later discussed the killer’s Jinsut; that it originated in Arab and was brought to Japan via the Mainland. CLH returned to the lakeshore, installed Yat Dim-hung safely on the branch of a large tree, and returned to Kilam. He reintroduced himself properly as CLH to Leng Chiu-hun (who just woke up with a prostitute sleeping in his bed – gosh…). Leng reported that he heard of a stranger monk in town (named Thian-ing-cu) who wore a long thin blade as a weapon.
Worried that this Monk Thian would be the third victim of the letter, Chor tai-gor ran towards the place where Thian allegedly stayed overnight, the In-ping-lau Inn. The Thian guy was out, hence Lau-heung rummaged around his things, but he found none but an old love letter. Well, more like “unlove” letter, for a girl by the name “Ling-siok” seemed to have sent the letter to Thian asking him to forget her for she wasn’t that into him. Disappointed, CLH returned to Leng’s house, but he learned that the very Thian-ing-cu was just there to see him. CLH went back straight away to the inn, into Thian’s room. He found the monk pouring tea in such a trance that the latter didn’t realise that the cup had overflown and that the tea pot had no more tea.
And yes, as CLH realised that the tea pot was out of tea, and that the tea had flooded the whole table, he gently tapped the monk and realised that the latter was dead. Someone shoved a sword from his back, so fast that the monk died without even realizing it.
Deciding to take a break from the puzzle, CLH had an early lunch break at a restaurant. There, he saw Sim San-koh who was going out of Kilam. He followed her from a safe distance while also enjoying her sexy walking figure (palm/face). She finally found the person she was looking for in a slum; artist Sun siu-cay. San-koh showed the drawing master (who was now blind, hence he stopped drawing years ago) the beautiful painting of a beautiful lady. Miss Sim suspected that the beautiful woman in the painting was connected to the disappearance of her senior (Cou Yu-cin). Surprisingly, the drawing master Sun admitted that he actually painted not just one, but four, of such a painting. The artist also couldn’t forget the face of the lady he painted. The beautiful lady in the painting had apparently commissioned Master Sun to make four paintings to give to four men. It took Master Sun three months to finish the commission.
All this time, CLH was listening to the conversation from outside the hut. It was surprising for Chor tai-gor to learn that the lady was very evil; she gorged Master Sun’s eyes out once he had finished the four copies. The woman said that, now that Master Sun had painted her, she didn’t want him to paint other women. Even the morally questionable Sim San-koh went pale-faced to hear the story. Master Sun still remembered the name of the woman: Chiu Ling-siok.
Chor Lau-heung recognized the name, for he had seen it in the letter inside the deceased Monk Thian’s bag. At this point, CLH joined the discussion with the original pretext pretending that he was also in love with Ling-siok. However, he then realised that the painting Miss Sim had was a copy of the painting Chor Lau-heung saw earlier in Sebun Jian’s room (see Chapter 5). CLH thus realised that the woman was the missing link of the disappearance and death of Cou Yu-cin, Sebun jian, Leng-ciu-cu, and Ca Bok-hap.
Miss Sim left in rage upon learning that CLH was the guy who captured her in the inn. CLH stayed and learned from Master Sun that the master painted Ling-siok in a nunnery 5 li from Kilam. CLH thanked the Master, took the painting that Miss Sim left behind and left, but not before telling Master Sun that there was nothing to stop the Master from painting again, despite his blind state. Master Sun thanked CLH… but somehow I think someone would kill the artist after CLH left…
Chapter 9 (the arrival of a desert swordsman)
Using a local “taxi”, Chor Lau-heung arrived at the Nunnery Oh-i-am (have no idea how to pronounce it, but it is not pronounced as “Oh, I am…”) and, based on Master Sun’s recommendation, met Siok-sim Taysu (Abbess Siok-sim) who was an old friend of Miss Chiu. CLH asked if the Abbess remembered Chiu Ling-siok; the Abbess said that CLH must have been informed by Master Sun about the painting.
Unexpectedly, the Abbess informed CLH that Chiu Ling-siok had become a nun. The Abbess said that Miss Chiu had passed away, hence CLH left the nunnery. Back to square one. CLH couldn’t even tell if the letter from Ling-siok was the reason that the four masters (Cou Yu-cin, Sebun jian, Leng-ciu-cu, and Ca Bok-hap) disappeared and died. He only knew that Ling-siok was connected to the four masters.
Yet, as CLH left, he realised that the Abbess should have not known that he had just met Master Sun. He returned to the temple, yet he only met some old nuns who said that he had come to the wrong temple. The temple was actually Tho-i-am, not Oh-i-am. CLH realised that he had been had; the palanquin driver took him to the wrong temple on purpose. CLH used his gravity-defying skill to reach Oh-i-am in no time. A deranged-looking nun took CLH into an abandoned hall (which actually made CLH rather scared, surprisingly). There, CLH walked into a trap, where he was almost killed by a sword attack and some shuriken-like weapons thrown skillfully from the dark. It was the same killer who killed Song Kang in Chapter 7. Upon realizing that he couldn’t kill CLH, the killer disappeared into the night. CLH found that Abbess Siok-sim was already long dead. He also found that the deranged nun (who took him into the hall) was dead because of the weapons thrown at him. Yet, before the deranged nun died, she regained consciousness (she might be under a spell?) and tried to say something. She could only say “Bu” before she also died.
Chor tai-gor returned to Kilam to Kwi-gi-tong (the gambling place). He was almost hit by a black-clad rider who was speeding on a pearl-black horse (here we learned that CLH loved horses too, he immediately saw how beautiful and of high quality that black horse was). Apparently, the rider stopped at Kwi-gi-tong. The rider was a handsome male swordsman whose presence immediately commanded respect in the gambling place. Even Leng Chiu-hun carefully addressed the newcomer, who claimed he wanted to gamble, and the price would be Mr Leng coming with him. Leng quickly lost because the black-clad man threw the dice into the wall, such that only the first side was shown. Yet, before the foreigner dragged Leng away, Chor Lau-heung intercepted by offering to play another round. If he lost, he'd tell the foreigner whatever he wanted to know. If the foreigner lost, he had to answer CLH's questions. The foreigner, who seemed to have come from the western desert, accepted the challenge.
|Art by Shinobu Tanno (Pinterest)|
CLH grabbed six dice and threw them, one by one. The first dice flew in a slow motion, controlled by his internal energy. Then he flicked the second dice, which immediately hit the first dice in the air. The next dices destroyed the previous ones such that no dice was left once CLH done showing off his internal skill. Chor tai-gor pulverised his six diced into a neat pile of dust. He won.
CLH deduced that the black-clad guy was the son of Ca Bok-hap the Shadowless Sabre (a.k.a. the Desert King). The young desert fighter was apparently a pig-headed man who couldn’t admit defeat. He attached CLH with the renowned style called the "Star Flying Under the Cloud" (Hun-te-hwi-siang), yet CLH deflected his weapons with his own "Catching Shadows, Dividing Light" (Hun-kong-coh-ing). The desert guy changed tactic by using his whip to create an illusion of myriad whips attacking CLH; this whipping style was known as "The Ring Flies to Trap the Moon, the Cloud Spreads Inviting the Rain". CLH used some gambling bamboo tubes to break off the illusion. The two guys also exchanged innuendos while fighting. Suddenly, CLH threw some bamboo tubes away from the whip perimeter, thus lowering his guard, creating an opening for the whip to slash his beautiful face. CLH whirled away from the whip perimeter before back-flipping to the wall, chased by the desert fighter.
Chapter 10 (in which we see Yat Dim-hung again)
In the nick of time, CLH was saved by none other than Yat Dim-hung! Fell Cut hit the tip of the whip with his sword, immobilizing the whip.
"Hah! So you have an assistant to help you!" mocked the desert fighter. Chor Lau-heung said nothing; he just smiled as he touched the new scar on his face. The desert fighter mocked again, "So you fighters of the Central Plains have no honour at all! You lost, and then you call for help!"
"You really think he lost against you just now?!" Fell Cut volleyed back.
"My whip slashed his face, and you think I'm the loser here?" the desert fighter riposted.
Sneering at the foreigner, Yat Dim-hung collected the bamboo tubes CLH used just now. Mocking back, Fell Cut threw the tubes back to the desert fighter, asking the latter to examine them. Only then the pig-headed desert fighter saw some tiny shurikens embedded on the tubes.
Fell Cut smirked. “These small star weapons were the reason that Chor Lau-heung got slashed by your whip. Otherwise, how come you are still alive?! If he didn’t have to save you, you wouldn’t be able to touch the edge of his robe!”
Apparently, during the fight, CLH saw someone attacking the desert fighter from behind, hence CLH threw his bamboo tubes to block the weapons. In the process, he lost his bamboo tubes, thus the desert fighter’s whip slashed his face.
In shock, the desert fighter asked why Chor tai-gor didn't tell him about the deadly secret weapons. True to his noble nature, our tai-gor just said that they could not be sure that the weapons were aimed at the foreigner. The foreigner adamantly (and correctly) said that the weapons were thrown from behind his back; thus it had to be for the foreign fighter.
To that, Chor Lau-heung said, "I don't mind getting a slash from your whip, why should I tell you about something that will upset you?"
(Chor tai-gor, I love you! You noble soul, you!)
Thus the desert fighter got misty-eyed. To save the black-clad guy from the uncomfortable feeling of having another guy watching him cry, the kind Chor Lau-heung turned his attention to Fell Cut and asked if the killer saw who threw the shurikens. It was a negative. The desert fighter said he knew who the killer was. He gave CLH the letter that was sent to his father, then he left the building. Just outside the building, a drop of tear fell from his proud eyes.
However, Fell Cut didn’t let CLH read the letter easily. He grabbed the letter with his sword, thus CLH had no choice but engaging in a fight with Fell Cut. Fell Cut wanted to test CLH’s skills, while CLH just wanted to read the letter. At some point, CLH had to trap Fell Cut’s sword with his two palms to get the letter. Fell Cut persisted, hence they channeled their inner strength into the sword. CLH towering over Fell Cut as his body hanged on the latter's sword tip as if he was a mere flag, preventing Fell Cut's sword from stabbing his chest. Meanwhile, Fell Cut held his stance on the ground, trying so hard to win the game. Realising he had to change the leverage, Fell Cut jumped into the sky and forced his sword Earth-ward. CLH would have to let go of the sword, otherwise he would slam into the earth, stabbed by the sword.
Yet, CLH swirled sideways, both palms still pressing the end of Fell Cut's blade, not letting it go. Eventually, Chor Lau-heung slammed to the ground with a cracking sound. Yet, it wasn't his body broken; it was the sword. Yat Dim-hung's sword snapped, and the letter was pulverised because of their inner strengths. CLH was stunned to see that the letter he coveted so much was destroyed. Pale-faced, Fell Cut just realised how important the letter was to CLH, yet, CLH kindly apologised for breaking his opponent’s sword.
(Truly, I love CLH so much by this stage, if that is even possible!)
Unexpectedly, the desert guy returned to the gambling hall, looking nervous and concerned about something. He ignored the pulverized letter and hid behind one of the hall’s thick curtains. Soon after, about 20 snakes slithered into the gambling hall. Fell Cut killed the biggest snake, while CLH just perched on a table, observing his surroundings. Soon, some Kaypang members entered the hall. One of them, a clean-looking beggar, roaring in anger to see his snake died.
The clean-looking beggar was Pek-giok-mo of Kaypang. Ten years prior, he was expelled from the Beggar Clan by the previous Leader (Jin-lo pangcu) because Pek raped and murdered 17 virgins (!!!). After Leader Jin-lo died recently, the new leader (Lamkiong Ling) reinvited Pek to return to Kaypang. Pek was still the insufferable bastard he was that CLH didn’t want to disclose the location of the desert fighter. Ticked, Pek-giok-mo launched his snakes at CLH, yet Chor tai-gor killed the snakes without even using any blade (he killed the snakes by pinching the points on the animals’ necks). Majorly vexed, Pek launched his own attack where his hands suddenly produced green poisonous smokes. Yet, just as Yat Dim-hung warned CLH, the new Kaypang leader interrupted the fight. Lamkiong Ling scolded Pek for being impolite to his old friend CLH, then he asked if CLH indeed had not seen a black-clad foreigner. Ling claimed that the foreigner had caused a ruckus in Kaypang two days prior, thus he had to finish the unfinished business with the foreign pretty boy. After a searching session, Lamkiong Ling excused himself and his men, leaving CLH only with Fell Cut.
Only then the desert fighter revealed himself. He was hiding behind a curtain, yet he knew Ling would find him there. So he took off his shoes, left them a bit seen under the curtain and sneaked out of the window. He then returned to the hall from another window, sneaking into another curtain and watched as Lamkiong Ling slashed his shoes, only to find nothing behind the curtain. After some exchange, CLH then found out why the desert fighter looked so scared when he entered the hall. The foreign boy hated snakes! He wasn’t afraid of Kaypang, he was afraid of snakes!
CLH produced a gale of laughter as he learned of this funny fact.
Yet, his laughter was interrupted as Pek-giok-mo returned to the gambling hall. Apparently, Leader Lamkiong Ling already suspected that the foreign fighter was there. He only respected CLH, hence he ordered his men to leave. Yet, he issued another order for Pek to return to get the boy. The boy fighter himself disappeared so quickly as he heard Pek’s voice.
Annoyed that Chor Lau-heung truly hid the boy from Kaypang, Pek-giok-mo resumed the interrupted fight with our tai-gor. He used poisonous claws, which CLH successfully evade many times until he allowed himself to be cornered. CLH was almost too late to realise that Pek’s claws were actually extendable. The claws extended unexpectedly, almost hitting CLH’s chest had CLH not reached for the painting inside his robe and fed the claws with the painting instead.
Grinning, CLH said, “Although you want to kill me, I don’t want to kill you. Now that you have demonstrated your excellent skills, will you return my stuff your claws have there and just get lost?”
Although Pek didn’t know what that item was, his wicked mind knew that such an item would be invaluable for Chor tai-gor. Smirking, he asked, “Oh, you mean you want me to return this document of yours?”
This is getting interesting. By this stage, I already suspected who the killer of the five experts was... but Ku Lung made the story very interesting.