Her life and her dance had been fused together.

Because all she had left in her life was dance.

Because she was a dancer.

In this instance, she was no longer the person who had experienced the sorrows of life, a suffering woman. Instead, she was a dancer; noble, pure and beautiful.

In her dance appeared her happiness and youth, and in her dance, her happiness and youth also faded away.

“The treasured sword is ruthless, Zhuangzi dreams no dreams;

Dance for the king, transform into a butterfly.”

The old man playing the pipa suddenly began to weep.

He played a joyful tune, yet tears filled his empty eyes.

He could not see the people in the room, but he could sense them.

-Such sorrowful people, such darkness.

His happy tune could only make sorrow more sorrowful. It was as if his joyous melody had transformed into a type of ridicule.

There was a “pa” sound as one of the pipa strings broke.

The dance was also broken.

Die Wu fell down like a leaf at Zhuo Donglai’s feet. And suddenly, from within Zhuo Donglai’s bootleg she pulled out a dagger.

The short dagger glittered like a gem.

She raised her head and looked at Zhu Meng, then she turned and looked at Little Gao.

The dagger in her hand had descended, descended toward her knees.

Blood splattered.

As soon as the dagger descended, blood splattered.

Underneath the blade of the dagger, her legs had become like two rotten logs.

After the dagger descended, she was no longer a dancer. There are no dancers in the world with severed legs.

Such beautiful legs, so lithe, so nimble, so beautiful.

(1) Don’t forget that Die Wu’s name literally means Butterfly Dance.

(2) Here he is referring to himself as “Laozi” again, which is a way to talk to people who you view as your inferior.

(3) Pipa is a type of stringed instrument. http://goo.gl/qTOx2 Chapter 13: Slaughterhouse

Part 1

The second month, the twenty fourth.


Before dawn.

The sky was a dark sheet, darker than any other time during the day.

Gao Jianfei sat alone in the darkness, so cold that it seemed his blood would soon freeze.

“I did no wrong,” he kept telling himself. “I didn’t let Zhu Meng down, and I didn’t let her down. I did no wrong.”

Love is fundamentally not wrong.

It is never wrong to fall in love with someone.

When he fell in love with Die Wu, he didn’t know she was Zhu Meng’s woman, never even imagined she could be.

But every time he thought of the look on Zhu Meng’s face when he saw Die Wu, he felt a knife-like stab of guilt and remorse.

And so he’d left.

At first, he’d wanted to rush over to Die Wu as she laid there in a pool of blood, forget about everything and just hold the only woman in his life, take care of her forever, love her forever, regardless of whether or not her legs were severed, just love her.

But Zhu Meng had already rushed over to hold her, and so he’d left quietly.

He could only leave.

-How far could he go? Where could he go to? How far did he have to go to be able to forget?

Who could answer these questions for him?

As daylight approached, the ground seemed to grow colder. Little Gao laid down on the snowy ground and stared up at the darkness of the heavens.

Then he closed his eyes.

With his eyes opened, he could only see a sheet of darkness, why not close his eyes?

“Will I die like this?”

He had closed his eyes, so he could only hear the cold voice of a person say, “This winter in Chang’an at least four or five people died like this in the cold, frozen like rocks. Even stray dogs couldn’t bite a piece off of them.”

Little Gao ignored him.

-When life suddenly becomes this painful, why not just die?

The God of Women was once a Wife? But it seemed this person wouldn’t let him die.

His jaw was wrenched open, and he felt something burning go down his throat and into his stomach.

His stomach suddenly felt like a roaring furnace, and warmth filled his body.

He opened his eyes and saw someone standing in front of him like a rock. In his hand was a box.

An ordinary person, an extraordinary box.

If this person wanted someone to live, he would find it difficult to die. And if he wanted someone to die, he would find it difficult to keep living.

Little Gao understood this.

“It’s good alcohol.” He sat up, trying as hard as possible to act nonchalant. “Is it Lu Zhou liquor?” (1)

“Seems so.”

“You can’t conceal the truth about this kind of thing from me. When others were still drinking milk, I had already started drinking alcohol.” Little Gao laughed, and it seemed as if it were a happy laugh. “Some people are born heroes, some people are born swordsmen, and some other people are born alcoholics.”

“You’re not an alcoholic.” The man looked coldly at Little Gao. “You’re a bastard.”

Little Gao laughed heartily. “Bastard, then. Anyway, what’s the difference between bastards and alcoholics?”

Cheat Majutsu de Unmei wo Nejifuseru “There’s a difference.”

“What difference?”

“When you see it you’ll understand.”

“See what? Where?”

The man suddenly grabbed him by the side and flew with him into the air. They passed over countless rooftops before coming to a stop.

“Here,” he said. “Here you can see.”

They stood on the eaves of a tall building, overlooking an expansive garden.

The building was the first pavilion of the Chang’an Restaurant.

Part 2

The sky was growing bright, and in the murky, early-morning light, the red flowers were as elegant and bright as before. The strange thing was, the snowy ground also seemed to be covered with flowers.

“If you think those are flowers, you’re wrong,” said the man with the box. “It’s not flowers, it’s blood.”

Little Gao’s heart sank.

He knew it was blood, and he knew whose blood it was.

When Zhu Meng had arrived, he’d left his subordinates here, in preparation for the battle to the death with Zhuo Donglai.

“You must have known that Zhuo Donglai wouldn’t be unprepared,” said the man with the box. “His men weren’t here, they were outside. He knew you would have your forces stationed here, so he surrounded you from outside.”

Zhuo Donglai had mobilized three-hundred and twenty men, all of the best men he could muster.

“Even though he had several times as many men as you, Zhuo Donglai wasn’t willing to act rashly.”

“Because he knew that the men who had come from the Lion Clan were true men who didn’t fear death, and were here to go all out, regardless of the risk to their lives.”

“Risk to their lives?” the man with the box laughed. “Do you think risking one’s life does any good? If you risked you life going up against me, would it do any good? Would I be so scared that I wouldn’t make a move?” His question was sharp and without emotion, in a way that made it impossible to respond to. He didn’t even give Little Gao a chance to respond. “Sometimes risking one’s life only amounts to delivering oneself up to death. Zhuo Donglai wasn’t afraid of those men.”

“Who was he afraid of?”


Little Gao laughed, a bitter laugh. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgot about my battle with Sima at the Great Wild Goose Pagoda?”

“But Sima is not in Chang’an.”

“Where is he?”

“In Luoyang,” said the man with the box. “He’s not like Zhuo Donglai. He has the same heroic spirit as Zhu Meng. It’s just that he’s controlled too much.”

“If Sima was in Chang’an, and was sent by Zhuo Donglai, how could he possibly deal with you and Zhu Meng? If his subordinates made a move first, would you let him go?”

Little Gao looked at the flower-petal-like bloodstains on the snow, and cold sweat broke out on his back.

If it hadn’t been for Die Wu, they would have had an excellent opportunity to execute Zhuo Donglai before the banquet.

“That was your one and only chance, and you let it slip away, because you left,” said the man with the box. “Of course, you should have left, because you’re a true man, and wouldn’t fall out with Zhu Meng because of a woman.” His voice was bitingly cold. “But did you ever think that you left at a time when Zhu Meng needed you the most? You left him a woman with severed legs, because you thought yourself a true friend. But I think you’re a truer friend to Zhuo Donglai, because you left him Zhu Meng and the Lion Clan’s eighty-six brothers.”

Little Gao couldn’t say anything, not even a single word. His clothes were completely soaked with sweat.

“So they risked their lives,” said the man with the box, “and sadly it didn’t do much good. After you left, this place became a slaughterhouse. Do you know what a slaughterhouse is like?”

Little Gao slowly lifted his head and stared at him, his voice hoarse with sorrow. “I don’t know. Do you?”

“Of course I know, because I was here when it happened.”

“You sat here and watched all those people slaughter each other like livestock?”

“I not only watched, I watched very carefully. I saw every sword stroke very clearly.”

“Did it make you happy to watch?”

“Not very happy, but not very sad,” said the man with the box, coolly. “Because it’s your issue, and has nothing to do with me.”

Little Gao had been struggling to hold back his fury, but it finally burst forth like flames from a furnace.

If only just to win Huangzhou city, Lu Bu would have done a siege from the get go.

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