Song of Adolescence

Chapter 6: Life and Death Match
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Chapter 6: Life and Death Match

Most people were only able to wield one weapon at a time; dual blade or sword wielders were in the extreme minority. That was because the sense of balance required wasn’t something one could grasp so easily. Even a moment’s lapse would result in a massive opening. Yet, here she was, the Heavenly Maiden Rui, wielding three blades at the same time!

Tang Lian’s brows furrowed. “The biggest advantage of the Tri-blade Dance is its domineering attack. The moment all three blades reveal themselves, they will never stop. The only reprieve is death!”

The two swordsmen were in shock right now. They could only beat a hasty retreat but as they did so, the Heavenly Maiden waved the short blade in her left hand and forcefully struck that short blade that was still mid air. Her right hand swiveled and her entire body performed an elegant spin that spun the hems of her skirt like a dainty ripple on a pristine water surface. The airborne blade darted towards merchant dressed in golden robes. The black swordsman promptly raised his sword but in the very instant he did that, it felt like a thousand hammers struck him, forcing his arm to shudder violently before releasing his sword.

“That…that’s…” The golden robed merchant yelped.

The white swordsman hurriedly stepped in front of the golden robed merchant and with a wave of his sword, deflected the short blade.

It was at that moment that the Heavenly Maiden Rui leaped into the air and stowed her left blade back into her sleeves. She then grabbed that airborne short blade and performed a nose dive towards the merchant. Unfazed, the white swordsman coldly smiled and stabbed with his sword.

Seeing that, the Heavenly Maiden merely smiled. She spun around mid air and slowed down her descent to the extent where she actually landed lightly atop the edge of the sword. Using it as a platform, she propelled herself into the air once more, landing on her feet behind the golden robed merchant, short blade pointed against his back.

“This…” The golden robed merchant was covered in cold sweat by now. He fell to his knees out of terror, “This lowly one isn’t aware of what he has done wrong to anger the Heavenly Maiden…this lowly one…this…”

“That’s enough.” She stowed the knife in her hand, strolled forward and gave his sweaty, oil-filled face a couple of light taps. “I was just giving you a little scare, I won’t actually kill you. As for why it’s you, that’s just to set an example for everyone present.”

“What this young master is gambling on, isn’t just some monetary gamble, what he’s gambling is incomparably more valuable than those two chests of pearls combined.” The Heavenly Maiden turned and addressed the other merchants present in a clarion voice.

The crowd turned to look at each other and collectively inhaled sharply. “The Life and Death Match.”

“That’s right, it’s the Life and Death Match.” Her lips curled into a devious smile.

“What’s the Life and Death Match?” Xiao Se asked of Tang Lian with brows furrowed.

“… In all likelihood, the one who loses not only has to leave his fortune behind, but also his life as well.”

Xiao Se immediately paled. “When did I ever say that I would participate in such a gamble?”

By now, the Heavenly Maiden Rui had already made her way back. Laughing melodically, she turned towards Tang Lian and said, “Lian, that’s all I can help you with. After that little exchange, they should know that the Enchantress Villa has an interest in that cargo of yours. In that case, a good portion of them should leave Sangu City of their own accord, but I can’t say for certain for some…”

As she predicted, a stream of merchants left with their attendants in tow. Only a few groups remained behind at the end. Xiao Se eyed them but the moment he did, his heart sank. “Cough…those people are here as well, I see.”

All that could be seen not too far away was a burly giant, hand gripping a giant blade the size of a door and standing there like a stoic mountain. Seated next to him was an alluring lady. Shaking her slender legs, she threw them a thin smile before giving a light wave of her hands from which flew out a golden invitation card.

The Heavenly Maiden’s face immediately changed; that card was actually soaring towards her! She leaped off with the tip of her toes and sent it flying back with a kick towards the waiting fingers of the Lunar Maiden. The Maiden gave her a thoughtful look.

The Heavenly Maiden smiled, “The Lunar Maiden bids with a smile, the Nether Duke kills in fury. I’m afraid I’ll have to reject that invitation of yours, to do so would mean death after all. The ones you’re after is them, I have nothing to do with them, my lady shouldn’t misunderstand my intentions.”

“You!” Snapped Xiao Se as he turned to look at Tang Lian, only to find that the latter wasn’t paying attention to this side at all. He turned in the direction of Tang Lian’s gaze and spotted a middle aged man dressed like a scholar seated there. The man was roughly thirty years of age but had a full head of white hair. In front of him was an exquisite sword of unprecedented quality, as if it forged out of a single piece of jade that sparkled with a fluid shimmer.

The middle aged scholar smiled and nodded. “We meet again.”

“You’re out for that item as well?” Asked Tang Lian but no response was forthcoming, all he received was a nod of the scholar’s head.

“Your wounds seem to have healed. When we just met two days ago, they were still severe.”

“That goes without saying. My Penglai Pill is a bona fide elixir that only the Physician King’s Palace would have. Even if you were to offer up this whole case of pearls, the Physician King’s Palace might not accept it; that decision depends solely on their mood. Used for a mere wound like that, I can’t help but feel sorry for my pill.” Xiao Se proudly stated.

“… … to think there was such an esteemed personage by your side, Young Master Tang.” The middle aged scholar turned around to face him and after furrowing his brows for a moment, smiled.

It was at that moment that a thought suddenly occurred to the Heavenly Maiden Rui. “These past few days, though there has been a huge influx of visitors into Sangu City, the number of mysterious disappearances have been numerous as well. Don’t tell me…”

The scholar nodded. “In order to spare Young Master Tang any further unneeded trouble, I’ve taken the liberty of sweeping away those of no concern.”

“That’s rich, that’s nothing more than ‘I’ll finish my competition first before coming to rob you.’” Xiao Se scoffed.

The scholar paused for a second, then smiled. “That’s true as well.”

“That item belongs to Snow Moon City. Robbing Snow Moon City of its possessions… I hope your esteemed self has truly deliberated upon this current course of action.” Tang Lian asked of the scholar.

However, the scholar merely shook his head. “Looks you really have no idea of the actual contents of what you’re transporting, that item doesn’t belong to Snow Moon City. It’s just that you guys were a little quicker to act, so possession has naturally fallen in your favor for now.”

“Seems like you are aware of what’s inside then. “

“Hah… that’s a demonic object!” The scholar declared with a straight face.

“It seems like your esteemed person is under some sort of misunderstanding here…” Xiao Se suddenly interrupted the pair. “Right now, the most important matter taking place in this Enchantress Villa is this one’s gambling match. If your esteemed person is not interested in said gamble, I request that you step aside.”

“Gamble?”

“The Life and Death Match.”

“Haha, that’s right.” The Heavenly Maiden laughed in a melodic voice. “The Life and Death Match is a rare sight within the Enchantress Villa. Those that visit this place all had a certain level of wealth and lead the most luxurious of lifestyles possible; why would such people ever participate in a match meant for desperados.”

“I am a man of the sword.” The scholar fingered his jade-like sword. “Only the sword can decide my life or death, not some dice. However, I wouldn’t mind accompanying both of you in this little game tonight. If you win, I’ll grant you two an additional night of grace to escape.”

“One night?” Xiao Se smiled thinly. “Such overconfidence.”

“Whether or not I’m being overconfident will be made clear once we gamble. “ The scholar waved his right hand and a dice cup came flying over from the redwood table it was resting on and landed squarely on his hand.

“Telekinesis?” Tang Lian furrowed his brows.

“Even the parlor tricks of those wandering tricksters aren’t below you I see.” Xiao Se did not seem to care for the man’s display, instead, he was preoccupied with shifting over a stool to sit on. He turned around to look at Tang Lian and found the latter in a daze. Thus, with a bit of exasperation in him, he slammed the stool for a second.

“What’s the matter?” Asked a confused Tang Lian.

“Have a seat, of course. You people from Snow Moon City… I swear there’s nothing in your brains except for fighting.”

“Oh.” Tang Lian ran over.

“Let’s settle this in one match then.” The scholar gently shook the dice cup. “If you guys win, I’ll leave. If I win, the cargo stays but you guys can still leave.”

“Sounds fair, at the very least, we don’t have to die either way.” Xiao Se licked his lips as his eyes locked onto every single shake and tilt of the dice cup.

Seeing that, the scholar shot him an appreciative smile. “I see young master is a gambler then. That nonchalance you had earlier disappeared the instant you sat down around the table, almost as if young master was a different person entirely.”

Eyes still glued onto the dice cup, Xiao Se answered thusly without ever lifting up his head, “I once gambled for three days and three nights at the largest casino in the imperial capital, the Ring of a Thousand Golds. In the end, I even won myself a city, do you believe that?”

“The Ring of a Thousand Gold is the number one casino in Beili. Even the Enchantress Villa isn’t a match for that. Let alone a city, even winning a small country isn’t impossible.” The scholar blandly replied.

Xiao Se’s lips curled slightly upwards. “You might say that, but you clearly don’t believe me.”

“Some things are best seen rather than heard.” The scholar firmly slammed the dice cup onto the table. “Since the young master is able to win an entire city, I’m sure his gambling skills are astonishing. In that case…”

“556, 16 points, Big.” Tang Lian whispered. Being an expert of hidden weapons, his ability to locate objects just by their sound had been honed to the utmost extreme. To him, dices were nothing but child’s play.

“You people from the martial world…” Xiao Se sighed as he shook his head. “Just can’t appreciate the finer things in life. The most interesting about a gamble is in the word itself, gamble. If the outcome is already known, what is the point of betting at all?”

“Young Master speaks the truth.” The scholar nodded his head.

“Then what do you wish to bet on then?” Tang Lian asked with bated breath.

“556.” Xiao Se stowed his hands within his sleeves, straightened his back and in the calmest posture possible, said, “Big.”

“You…” Tang Lian immediately choked on his anger.

The scholar gently tapped the top of the dice cup. “All hands are off on that bet?”

“Not good!” The Heavenly Maiden and Tang Lian exclaimed in unison. Despite the scholar only lightly tapping that dice cup, the two of them were able to recognize the level of force he used in that instant. It was the Rending Finger of the Buddhist sects. It was said that the White Stallion Ascetic, Jie Kong, once used the Rending Finger to kill someone. While that poor soul might have looked perfectly unharmed on the outside but his innards were completely obliterated. With just one tap of that scholar’s finger, who knew how a bunch of dice would end up? Even Tang Lian didn’t know.

“Of course it’s not good.” Xiao Se stood up and smiled at the scholar. “But since this is a gamble, why would it ever be easy?”

“Young Master wishes to change his bet?”

“Change?” Xiao Se suddenly reached out to grab the dice cup. “The so-called surefire method of winning a bet is to believe in oneself. Once you believe in yourself, then…”

“You will definitely win!” Xiao Se uncovered the dice cup.

A stunned silence descended on the Villa.

Right underneath that scholar’s finger were three dice that had already been reduced to dust. Putting aside the issue of how large or small said dust was, even a single number couldn’t be discerned from the remains. No matter whether one guessed ‘Big’ or ‘Small’, or even triples, it would be a lost cause. Yet the moment the outer layer of dust blew away, the entire villa, including the scholar, couldn’t help but gasp.

“That’s…” The scholar raised his brows.

That pile of dust had actually coalesced underneath into a bunch of dots, forming into what should have been the numbers on those dice, namely…

“556.” Tang Lian happily proclaimed.

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