DKWSS – Chapter 23

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Chapter 23 – Applause

Part 1

April 19. Night.

This night, anyone who happened to be on the shores of Daming Lake would think it was very strange. Very, very strange.

Because they saw a ship.

***

It’s not strange to see a ship. Even seeing a hundred wouldn’t be anything strange.

The strange thing was that this ship started out in the water, then “walked” up onto the shore.

How can a ship walk?

Many people assumed that they suddenly had a problem with their brain, then rushed home and went to sleep. Some people went back to tell their wives, then got slapped across the face and accused of going out drinking and whoring and making up excuses upon returning.

But it really happened.

Some people had real guts, and incredible curiosity, and decided to stay to see what was happening.

What they saw was a boat with many, many legs.

***

A boat cannot grow its own legs; these legs, of course, belonged to people.

And the boat of course did not “walk” on its own; it was actually carried, by the power of many people.

Were these people crazy? Why would they expend the painstaking effort required to carry a ship up onto the shore?

Part 2

There is no wind under water. Where could the wind be coming from?

The small lantern in Xiao Jun’s hand had long since gone out. Everything outside was a sheet of pitch black. Nothing could be seen, especially not people.

All of a sudden, Ingot asked a incredibly remarkable question: “Can you guess who it is?” he said to Xiao Jun. “Is it Gao Tianjue? Or is it Frogboy?”

Xiao Jun had no way to answer the question, and in fact didn’t even know what Ingot was talking about.

Ingot explained: “If we were still in the water, then this part of the ship would still be under the surface. Instead, we feel wind.”

“Don’t tell me the ship isn’t in the water any more?”

“It doesn’t seem so. But, a ship can’t walk onto the land.”

“You think someone moved the ship onto the shore?”

Ingot nodded. “So that’s why I ask. Did Gao Tianjue have people move it up, or was it Frogboy?”

“Why are you so sure it’s one of those two?”

“To move a ship this big onto the shore would require at least seven or eight people with extremely powerful martial arts. Other than those two, who has the power to order that many people around?”

It was truly an incredible thing. In the eyes of most people, only someone crazy, or at least a little bit weird, would do something like this.

“Why would they do something like this?”

“Because they figured out that we were hiding in the hull cabin.” Ingot sighed. “You’ve probably been able to tell that Gao Tianjue and Frogboy are a little bit stupid compared to me, but they are still smarter than most people.”

No one could refute the fact that Gao Tianjue and Frogboy were rare talents in Jianghu.

“They want to capture the three of us to get information,” said Ingot. “And they realized that since we were in the hull cabin, we would try to punch a hole in the side and escape into the water.”

“Under water, people are more useless than fish. What happens there is difficult to control. Under water, their kung fu would not be as good.”

Xiao Jun also knew this.

The previous Chief of the Beggar Sect had lived on Lake Tai, on a ship, and Xiao Jun had spent a lot of time with him. [1]

His kung fu under water was much worse than his kung fu out of the water.

Everyone in Jianghu knew this truth, so few people would be willing to fight in water.

“But it’s different on land,” said Ingot. “They know that Guo Mie is wounded. To them, we two are nothing. Getting the ship from the water onto the land would not be difficult, and they wouldn’t even have to expend their own energy to do it.”

He sighed again. “So, regardless of whether it’s Gao Tianjue or Frogboy, both would do the same thing to ensure things go their way. I would do the same thing.”

***

Finally, there was sound. The sound of applause.

Ingot smiled and bowed, in much the same way a famous actor would bow after performing a masterpiece in front of a devoted audience.

And then, in a very cheerful voice, he said, “It’s not an easy thing to achieve praise from Mr. Tian. If there were alcohol here, I would immediately drink to him three times.”

The applause stopped, and the person outside said, “How did you know it was me?”

Ingot’s response was very simple: “Because Gao Tianjue can’t clap.”

—How can a person with only one hand clap?

***

The person outside laughed. Heartily.

It was Frogboy’s laughter. And yet, he did not enter. Everything outside was black, and no one appeared. [2]

Ingot couldn’t help but ask, “Mr. Tian, are you going to come in? Or shall we go out?”

“Can you guess whether or not I’ll let you come out?”

“You won’t,” said Ingot with a sigh. “I’m just hoping that when you come in, you can bring something with you.”

“What would you like me to bring?”

“Can you guess?”

“How about some alcohol?” said Frogboy. “And some appetizers.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so?” Frogboy sounded shocked. “Why not?”

“Because you’re too stingy. If you bring alcohol, you’ll only bring a little bit, and one of the things I can’t stand in life is only having a little bit of alcohol, a little bit of food, and a little bit of people.”

“What does ‘a little bit of people’ mean?”

“If you came in, but didn’t come in all the way, that’s ‘a little bit.’ For example, if your hand came in, along with your foot, but the rest of you stayed outside, do you think I could stand that?”

Frogboy laughed. “I can guarantee that I will come in all the way, and I also can guarantee that I spent all my wealth on alcohol I can bring.”

“As of now, how much is all your wealth worth? Usually, it’s not worth that much.”

“Now is different,” said Frogboy. “I guarantee that as soon as you see it, you’ll jump with fright.”

***

Lantern light. Brilliant lantern light.

One, two, three, four, five lanterns….

A whole string of lanterns, shining brightly.

That was the first thing Ingot saw.

And then he saw the women carrying the lanterns.

Beautiful women, wearing embroidered silk gowns, their hair piled high on top of their heads.

Ingot’s eyes grew wide.

Each and every one of the women carrying the lanterns was bright and beautiful.

Their bodies curving sensuously, the eight beautiful women walked into the ship one by one.

They formed two lines, four women in each line. They stood still.

A loud, clear voice called out from outside: “Twenty-year old Nu’er Hong!”

Four more beautiful women, dressed like the others, came in carrying a leopard skin stretched between two bamboo poles. On the leopard skin was a jug of alocohol.

They walked in, smiling at Ingot, and then put down the jug.

The loud clear voice again called out: “Twenty-year old Guizhou Maotai!”

The four women brought in the Maotai and placed it down in front of Ingot.

Then came Lianhua Baijiu, Chu Ye Qing, Persian Red wine…

Then what entered was not a beautiful woman, but a huge, burly bare-chested man. He quickly measured the hold in the side of the boat, and then chopped out his hands and made the hole into a square, cutting the wood as easily as if it were soft tofu.

The man quickly measured the hole again, and then stood in the middle of the hull cabin with arms outstretched.

This made Ingot very curious, and he was about to ask what he was doing, when suddenly a whistling sound could be heard, and something flew in from outside.

The burly man’s horse stance was very stable, and the whistling object landed directly into his hands.

It was a pitch-black, glittering wood table.

He put the table down and then left.

The loud, clear voice again called out: “Pearl rice balls!”

Ingot furrowed his brow and said, “Do pearl rice balls count as a famous dish?”

He was laughing, but then suddenly stopped, his face covered with shock as he looked at the table.

There in the middle of the table was a basket of freshly made pearl rice balls, steaming.

Xiao Jun looked at them, appearing to be even more shocked that Ingot. Everyone looked shocked.

This was because on top of every single “pearl” rice ball was inlaid a real pearl at least an inch in diameter.

Round, glittering pearls!

Ingot nearly jumped up.

“By now, you should believe me,” said Frogboy, still outside.

He laughed, pleased with himself.

Ingot sighed. “I never imagined that Frogboy would finally grow up!”

“Frogboy has always been grown up,” said Frogboy cheerfully. “Have you ever seen a rooster’s crest? It’s quite beautiful.” [3]

“You’re a rooster who can lay eggs,” exclaimed Ingot. “You handle matters beautifully, and know how to magically create money.”

“Correct! Absolutely correct!”

Part 3

Frogboy actually didn’t seem to have changed too much. He looked as lazy as ever, wanting only to sit and not walk.

But now, he wasn’t sitting in the wheelchair with wooden wheels, nor did he push himself along.

He sat on a gold brocaded couch, carried by four strong, beautiful girls. Each and every girl had long, beautiful legs.

Ingot instantly recognized one of pairs of long, beautiful legs.

Of course he hadn’t forgotten this girl. Not that he was sentimental, but neither was he ungrateful.

This was the girl who had recklessly saved him, and she, of course, had not forgotten him.

But when she looked at him, it was as if she didn’t recognize him.

So Ingot pretended that he had never seen her before. Regardless of her reasons for wandering Jianghu as a performer, and regardless of her reasons for pretending she didn’t know him, he had no desire to expose her.

***

The hull cabin was no longer empty, and Frogboy was not the same Frogboy as before.

Ingot looked at him for a very long moment, then asked, “Didn’t you just tell me that what I said was absolutely correct?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

“Actually, it’s not correct. Completely incorrect. In fact, what I said just now is a bunch of farts.”

“Farts?” Frogboy laughed. “You can fart out of your mouth?”

“Not only can I fart, I can fart very stinky farts.”

“Oh.”

“Roosters can’t lay eggs. Neither roosters nor chicks, neither can lay eggs. And you can’t magically produce money.”

“Oh!”

“Old Master Tian is famous for keeping you in line tightly. As for money, he won’t just give it out to you. Even if he gave you a little bit, he definitely would not allow you to spend it so extravagantly.”

Frogboy sighed. “Actually, my monthly allowance isn’t much more than the old lady who sells flowers outside the front door of Great Three Yuan.”

“Then how could you possibly have become so luxurious all of a sudden?”

“Why don’t you guess?”

“If I can’t guess, you’ll definitely view me as an idiot,” said Ingot. “But if I do guess, I bet you won’t admit it.”

“That’s not certain,” said Frogboy. “If you really can guess, I won’t necessarily refuse to admit it.”

“You really want me to say it out loud?”

Frogboy sighed. “I’m afraid it won’t do for you to not say.”

Ingot laughed. “You’re a very intelligent person. Soon you might even be as smart as me. I should drink to you.” Then, like an attentive host, he asked Frogboy, “What would you like to drink? The twenty-year old Nu’er Hong? Please, drink anything you like, there’s no need for courtesy.”

Frogboy laughed. “Are you the host, or am I?”

Ingot’s response was as cynical as his usual responses, provoking shock amongst others.

“Neither of us,” he said. “You are not the host, and neither am I.”

“Then who do you believe to be the host?”

“It’s General Li,” he said in complete seriousness. “Three Fearsome Laughs General Li.”

Frogboy stared at him for a while, then said, “Why is General Li the host?”

Ingot didn’t respond, but instead slowly said, “General Li comes without a shadow, and leaves without a footprint. No one in Jianghu has ever seen his face, and no one knows his whereabouts. But this month, suddenly, everyone knew where he was.” He asked Frogboy: “Can you figure out the truth?”

Frogboy didn’t respond. Instead, he retorted, “Don’t tell me you’ve already figured it out?”

“Actually, anyone could figure out the truth,” he said. “Even people ten times stupider than me could figure it out.” Sounding very earnest, he said, “The only way for so many people in Jianghu to know about General Li’s whereabouts would be if someone intentionally leaked the information.”

This truth, anyone should be able to figure out, but in actuality, not many people could figure it out completely.

That was because there was something else important that no one knew.

—Who had leaked the information? And how could that person know of General Li’s whereabouts? Why would that person tell others such important information?

Ingot explained the answer to the last question: “He intentionally leaked the information to attract General Li’s enemies to Jinan. Chaotic battling would break out, and heaven and earth would be darkened with death. Even if they all killed each other, it wouldn’t be a big problem.”

“It makes sense,” said Frogboy with a smile. “What you say makes some sense. But,” he asked Ingot, “how could this person know that General Li was in Jinan? How come no one else knew, but he did?”

“Actually, he didn’t need to know.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, he wasn’t completely certain that Big Boss Sun was General Li. So even though 10 years had passed, he didn’t dare to make a move.”

“Oh.”

“But then, he noticed things changing all of a sudden. Suspicious strangers showed up in the the city, and then new faces appeared in Qiu Budao’s squads. They all seemed to appear out of nowhere.” Ingot sighed. “Of course these things could not remain hidden from him.”

Frogboy understood what he meant. “I would think that, generally speaking, they couldn’t.”

“So he realized that very shortly, someone would be making a move against Big Boss Sun.”

“Very likely.”

“Seeing the strangers, who had never appeared in Jianghu before, he very likely realized that they were a force of killers secretly trained by Gao Tianjue over the years.”

“It makes sense,” said Frogboy. “Even Big Boss Sun would probably realize that.”

“Everyone knows that Gao Tianjue is not easy to deal with, and of course he knew that.”

Frogboy sighed. “End the heavens, destroy the earth, wipe them all out. People who fall into their hands have reached the end of their road. All their money will be taken.”

Ingot also sighed. “Anyone who creates an organization like that would have to spend a lot of money.”

“I understand.”

“But the person you’re talking about spent so many years of work on Big Boss Sun, he would definitely not be willing to sit idly by while and watch Gao Tianjue snatch him away.”

“If it were me, I wouldn’t be willing.”

“But he wasn’t certain he would be able to deal with Gao Tianjue.”

Frogboy sighed. “If it were me, I wouldn’t be certain.”

“So, he got everyone to come to Jinan and participate in a struggle which turned heaven and earth upside down. After everyone was weak and tired from the fighting, dead, wounded, then he would appear to collect his reward.”

Frogboy smiled. “This person you refer to, he sounds intelligent. Extremely intelligent.”

“He is. People as intelligent as him are not easy to come by.”

“How do you think he measures up to you?”

“He’s not quite as good as me.” Then Ingot asked Frogboy: “How do you think he measures up to you?”

“He can’t measure up to me.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I am he. And he is me.”

***

By this point, everyone had already guessed who Ingot was referring to.

But to hear the words come out of Frogboy’s mouth was truly shocking.

Ingot sighed. “Why did you have to say it? Hearing you say it is no fun.”

“How did you want it to happen?” said Frogboy with a smile. “Did you want to place your blade up to my neck and force me to say it? Would that be fun?”

“No, that wouldn’t be any fun. Actually, this whole thing isn’t any fun.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because too many people died. And least fun of all, some people died who shouldn’t have died.”

“Oh?”

“In recent years, Three Panthers Niu had been lurking around the shores of the East China Sea. When he saw me, he wanted to capture me, and use me as a hostage to force my family to come help deal with General Li.”

“So they all died,” said Frogboy. “Actually, I don’t think their deaths were unjust. Neither was Qiu Budao’s. And even less unjust were the deaths of Gao Tianjue’s men.”

Ingot suddenly interrupted, and in a very serious tone asked, “What about Liu Jin’niang? Was her death just or unjust?”

Frogboy didn’t say anything.

“Of course you had agents placed in Big Boss Sun’s organization, and one of them was Liu Jin’niang. She came from the imperial palace, and was experienced and knowledgable. She was quite familiar with Big Boss Sun’s body and physique. She knew all along that he was no ordinary businessman, but rather a consummate expert of inner arts. In that regard, she could not be fooled.”

Frogboy said nothing.

Ingot continued, “She was also a person, a lonely woman. When she met a man such as yourself, she could not help but capitulate.”

Big Boss Sun had too much money, too many matters to attend to. How could he pay attention to the personal affairs of everyone around him?

If a man thinks that he merely needs to beckon with his hand to cause a woman to follow him for life, and that she will wait forever for a second beckon, then that man will find it hard to avoid certain unpleasant events.

“I think that you had been working secretly with Liu Jin’niang for a long time,” Ingot said to Frogboy. “Old Master Tian pretended that he didn’t notice, but actually, nothing escapes his eye.”

Ingot sighed. “He didn’t oppose your relationship because usually, fathers will not oppose their sons’ romances. In fact, even mothers will usually not oppose. Parents generally only oppose their daughters in such situations. It was because your father knew of your relationship with Liu Jin’niang that he did not believe the deaths to be a crime of passion. And that is why he took the initiative to investigate the matter.”

“It makes sense,” said Frogboy with a bitter laugh. “Every word you spoke makes complete ****ing sense.”

“As of now, most of the people who know about this matter are dead,” said Ingot. “Obviously, many of your friends work for Sun Enterprises. If you could capture and kill General Li, then all those businesses could become yours.”

“It makes sense.”

“Even if it didn’t make sense at first, eventually it would. General Li’s riches are all stolen property. But if you killed him, who would dare to chase after the treasures? Even if someone wanted to, who would dare to oppose the Flowered Flag sect? If you pulled it off, all the heroes under heaven would likely give you a thumbs up and say, Young Master Tian is really amazing.”

Frogboy laughed heartily. “Actually, it’s enough for me to hear just you say that.”

“And Xiao Jun?”

“Chamber Lord Xiao is one of the great men that should receive credit for tracking down and killing General Li,” he said with a smile. “But now that he is in charge of the Beggar Sect’s Torture Chamber, he most certainly would not care a whit for money and wealth.”

“What of Gao Tianjue?” asked Ingot. “Aren’t you scared of Gao Tianjue?”

“I was at first. Extremely so. But someone already took care of her for me.”

“Who?”

“Madam Silver Lightning, Silent Thunderbolt and your Big Boss Tang.” He heaved a deliberate sigh. “It was not a case of ‘both sides suffering loss,’ but rather ‘four sides suffering loss.’ Their injuries were not serious, but not light, either.”

Ingot’s facial expression changed.

Frogboy smiled happily. “But, you don’t need to worry. We’re friends, and for your sake, I wouldn’t treat you poorly in any way.”

“What are you planning to do with us?!”

“I’m going to spend nine-thousand silver to buy two of the very best horses and one of the very best carts. I’m going to put you on it and send you back to the shores of the East China Sea.” He had a very sincere expression on his face. “You’ve been away from home for a long time, your father is surely worried.”

His appearance was both sincere and solemn: “I know you won’t hold anything against me. I haven’t done anything bad, just capture a great bandit. Everyone knows that the net of heaven is wide, and none can escape its mesh. I have no need to blush with shame.”

Ingot laughed bitterly. “Later on, if people call you a great hero, I bet you still won’t blush.”

Suddenly, Frogboy’s face was a bit flushed. “One day, you too will be a great hero. By that time, Chamber Lord Xiao will no doubt be the Chief of the Beggar Sect, and then the three of us can watch out for each other. Everything in Jianghu will be under our control.” The more he talked the more happy he got, laughing so hard that it seemed his mouth would be unable to close.

Ingot laughed with him, happily.

“And so,” said Frogboy, “the two of you should help me. Allow me to take away General Li. For the rest of my life, I won’t forget how you helped me.”

“Are you really determined to take away General Li?”

“Correct.”

“Then you can leave,” Ingot said, suddenly no longer laughing. With a sigh, he said, “But that path is a very long one. And once you go down it, you can never come back.”

“What path are you speaking of?”

“A path of no return, the road to the Yellow Springs.” [4]

“The road to the Yellow Springs?” asked Frogboy. “Why would I walk the road to the Yellow Springs.”

“Because General Li passed away a long time ago. If you want to find him, how else could you go looking other than walking the road to the Yellow Springs?”

Frogboy’s smile suddenly changed a bit. He stared at Ingot for a long time, then smiled again. “General Li may be seriously injured, but he won’t die any time soon.”

“Where is he, then?”

“Right there.”

“Where?” asked Ingot. “How come I don’t see him?” His eyes shifted around, eventually coming to rest on Guo Mie. “Don’t tell me you’re talking about him?”

“Who else would I be talking about?”

“Don’t tell me you think he’s General Li?”

“Are you telling me he’s not?”

Ingot laughed out loud, laughing until he bent over at the waist, until he could scarcely breath, as if he had never heard anything funnier in his entire life.

“If he’s General Li, well, then I must be Chu Liuxiang.” He pointed at his noise. “Do I look like Chief Chu to you?”

Frogboy was still able to keep his calm. He waited until Ingot stopped laughing, then asked him, “He’s not General Li?”

“Of course he’s not.”

“Then who is he?”

Guo Mie had been sitting there the whole time, an amused smile on his face, watching them as if he were watching a play. But at this point, he opened his mouth. “I’m surnamed Guo. My name is Guo Mie.”

Part 4

Frogboy stared in shock. The expression on his face was much like the expression on Ingot’s face the first time he heard Guo Mie speak his name.

Anyone who heard something like that would have a similar expression.

But Frogboy is not like other people, so a smile quickly reappeared on his face.

“I never imagined. I really never could have imagined,” he said, smiling. “Great Hero Guo, who hasn’t been seen in Jianghu for ten years. I never imagined that you would appear here. What a happy occasion!”

“You don’t believe it?” Ingot asked.

“When ‘End the heavens, destroy the earth’ swept over Jianghu, I was still wearing toddler’s pants [1]. When I needed to take a leak, I would piss all over my feet. How could I possibly know what the great heroes of the world looked like? Since I never saw what Great Hero Guo looked like, how could I dare to say our friend here isn’t him?”

He sighed again: “However, there’s something that just doesn’t seem right.”

“What’s that?”

“Madam Gao and Great Hero Guo have reunited after such a long time apart, it should be an extremely happy occasion,” said Frogboy. “But, Madam Gao is extremely unhappy, so much so that she demands Great Hero Guo’s life. You’re much smarter than me, can you explain what’s going on?”

Ingot couldn’t tell him. This was a family secret, and not something he could tell others.

In a sad tone, Guo Mie said, “It’s because I not only hurt her, turning her into a cripple, but also caused the organization she had created, ‘End the heavens, destroy the earth’ to collapse. I don’t blame her for using any method she deems fit to kill me.”

Frogboy looked at him, shocked. After a while, he said, “Why would you do such a thing?”

Guo Mie was quiet for quite some time. And then, one word at a time, he said, “For General Li.”

Frogboy was even more shocked.

“You and your wife had a falling out because of General Li? That’s why you cut off her arm, and that’s why she wants to kill you?”

“Pretty much so.”

Frogboy laughed. “I don’t believe it, and I don’t understand. This story of yours isn’t a very good story.”

***

Of course Frogboy didn’t understand, because he didn’t know the whole story about what had happened between the three people.

But Ingot understood.

—When Guo Mie and General Li met, Gao Tianjue arrived soon afterwards. Consumed by jealousy, she became her sister’s enemy. Under circumstances like that, it would be difficult for a fight not to break out.

—General Li’s martial arts were most likely a bit below Gao Tianjue’s, perhaps because of pain and shame. Therefore, she almost died at her sister’s hand.

But Guo Mie couldn’t let that happen. He leaped in to help her, taking a stance for her. When experts battle, mistakes cannot happen, and therefore, Gao Tianjue’s arm was lopped off.

***

Ingot believed that things happened that way.

It was only a rough approximation, though, and the specific details were unknown to him.

He didn’t want to know about them.

The details were secrets that belonged to others, and if they didn’t tell him, he wouldn’t ask.

However, he was a bit curious about some other things.

—Why would General Li run away and live by herself to raise her son alone? The result was her death from regret.

—Why did Guo Mie come to Jinan and assume the identity of the multi-millionaire Sun Jicheng?

***

There must be some facts that remained to be revealed. And of course Frogboy wanted to know them.

“Regardless of whether your story is good or not, it’s not easy to make up something like that. I have to admire you.” Frogboy’s smile had returned. “There’s only one person who can confirm whether or not your story is true.” He looked at Ingot. “And of course that person isn’t you. Regardless of what you say, I have to suspect its trustworthiness.”

***

It seemed Xiao Jun had returned to his old self, staring off into the distance, into a small, shabby room far, far away. There, on a dilapidated table, he sat with a coughing woman, watching her die, impoverished and feeble, bitter and in grief. She slowly wasted away in her remorse until she died.

Why had she never told him who his father was? She had never complained about him.

What she regretted was her own actions, and the person she hated was herself.

***

Xiao Jun slowly turned around and faced Frogboy, his pale face seeming to be a bit flushed.

Frogboy had never been afraid of people looking at him. It confirmed his status as a famous person, and since he was, in general, a good-looking person, regardless of why someone looked at him, it would make him happy.

But he wasn’t happy at the moment, because he could see that within Xiao Jun’s eyes resided an unspeakable venom.

His voice cold, he asked Frogboy: “Can I confirm it?”

“You?” As of now, Frogboy’s laugh seemed a bit forced. “What proof can you provide? Don’t tell me you can confirm what he said is true?”

“I can’t.”

Frogboy laughed, but not for a very long time, because Xiao Jun continued: “I can’t prove anything, because I don’t need to. I’m not going to let you leave here alive.”

“You’re telling me you want to kill me?” said Frogboy, surprised. “There’s never been any enmity between us. Furthermore, we’re good friends. When something bad happens to you, I’m always there at your side. When you come looking for me, I always offer help. Why would you want to kill me?” He really couldn’t think of any reason, and could only sigh. “Can you please tell me how I offended you?”

“You didn’t.”

“Then why do you want to kill me?”

“No reason.”

“You want to kill me for no reason?” Frogboy was even more shocked. “Were you suddenly poisoned? Have you gone crazy?”

Xiao Jun didn’t respond to his questions. Someone from outside answered them for him.

“He’s not crazy.” It was a calm and steady voice. “It’s just, there are some things you don’t know, and he’s not willing to tell you.”

**

[1] Lake Tai is a famous lake near Shanghai. http://tinyurl.com/pxdctm9
[2] There is a bit of word play that I’m leaving out based on Frogboy’s Chinese name. Remember that his surname also means “field” and that he has the character “chicken” in his name? In pinyin, his name is Tian Ji Zai. The original Chinese says, “there was Tian [fields] outside, but no Tian [fields] could be seen. There was Ji [chicken] outside, but no Ji [chicken] could be seen, there was a person outside, but no person could be seen.
[3] This is a bit of wordplay based on Frogboy’s name having the word “chicken” in it.
[4] As is obvious from the context, the Yellow Springs is a world for the afterlife or netherworld.
[5] He’s specifically referring to the crotchless pants that kids in China wear. If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, please check out the article: http://tinyurl.com/mlmwttr


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