“We never met before and you actually trust us?” Xiao Se was curled up in his fur coat as he lazily leaned against the inside of the horse carriage.
Tang Lian sat facing him and shook his head, “I don’t trust you, the only person I trust in him.” Said Tang Lian as he pointed out of the carriage.
At this moment, there was a youth who bared his chest while wearing a red shirt. He urged the horses along with all his effort as he welcomed the snow and wind with his body. If anyone looked at him from the front, they would see a youth with a grin plastered on his face. He looked like he was driving the horse carriage while basking in the warmth of spring.
“This is where I agree with you.” Xiao Se sighed. “Even though this kid is skillful, his brain isn’t working well. He can’t really tell a lie.”
Tang Lian lowered the blinds and blocked the cold air entering from outside before asking, “What about you?”
“Me? I even gave you two Yebei horses to pull your goods. Yet, you still do not trust me.” Xiao Se was slightly displeased.
“Senior martial brother, don’t bother with him!” Lei Wujie who had been silent all along opened his mouth. “He is a horse seller… After traveling with him for such a long time, all he ever talks about is how great his horses are.”
After muttering to himself for a period of time, Tang Lian finally opened his mouth again, “Brother Lei, you haven’t officially entered Snow Moon City yet. No, it’s more accurate to say that you haven’t been inducted into Snow Moon City at all. You don’t have to be so hasty in calling me your senior martial brother.”
“Yes senior martial brother!” Lei Wujie snapped the reins and the two horses sped up. A cloud of snow rose in their wake.
Tang Lian could only sigh helplessly.
“Speaking of which, do you really not know what’s in this coffin?” Xiao Se tapped the golden coffin beside him and asked.
Tang Lian shook his head. “Master never told me anything about it. He only instructed me to transport it to the Nine Dragon Temple in Biluo City. Other than that, he only said a single sentence to me.”
“What did he say?”
“Never ever open this coffin.” Tang Lian slapped Xiao Se’s hand which was placed on the coffin.
“Biluo City was one of the thirty-two buddhist countries in the past. The Nine Dragon Temple was the first temple which was built at the border of the country. It’s possible that the coffin contains the body of some emperor, king, minister, or general who strongly believes in buddhism. He probably wants to find peace after arriving at the temple.”
“Don’t have any ideas about the coffin. I’ve already encountered dozens of waves of assassins so far. If there are so many people interested in the contents of the coffin, it’s bound to be extremely dangerous.”
“Is the injury on your hand caused by those assassins?”
“Only the Lunar Maiden, as for the other assassins…” Tang Ling suddenly covered his mouth. He suddenly thought about the white haired man with a jade sword in his hand. An uneasy feeling washed over him.
“Where are we going next?”
“Sangu City, the Enchantress Villa.”
“Sangu City? Enchantress Villa?” Xiao Se furrowed his brows. The name rang a bell, but Xiao Se didn’t know where he heard it before.
“I know!” Lei Wujie who was hurrying the horses chipped in all of a sudden. “The aloofness of Sangu, the depravity of Enchantress Villa. It’s a brothel which is an affront to the world.”
Xiao Se was stunned for a moment. Looking at Tang Lian, the words slowly left his lips, “Brother Tang… that sounds really interesting!”
“Ptui.” Tang Lian’s eyes narrowed, “Sangu City is a place we have to pass through in order to arrive at the Nine Dragon Temple. There is someone there to pick me up!”
“ The three fears of an enchantress. The first, a fear of a ruined city, second, a fear of a crippled kingdom. Last is the fear of a broken heart. It’s hard to think such a bewitching place would be found in such a desolate area.” Xiao Se looked at the slender women walking around him with faces covered in a veil. They raised their wine jugs as they walked past Xiao Se, causing him to sigh.
“We have to pass through this place in order to reach Biluo City. That was one of the thirty-two buddhist countries in the past. It was was a border city which allowed free trade. There was also no need to pay tariffs when trading in Biluo City. That was why swarms of merchants did business in Biluo City.” Tang Lian explained. “Initially, there were only several inns located here. However, as more and more merchants passed through this area, a distinct abundance of rich people gathered. In the end, they established Sangu City which could not only be considered a city of pleasures, it could also be considered a top-notch…”
“Casino?” Xiao Se narrowed his eyes. He saw several rich merchants who wore robes made from golden threads sitting down in front of a long table. On the table, an enchanting maiden clad in red revealed her long legs which attracted the attention of many people as she held a cup of dice in her hand. Shaking the cup, she revealed a charming smile as she lightly placed the cup on the table.
The merchants quickly took out their money as they placed their bets on the table.
Their bets were actually pearls which glittered in the light, illuminating the entire hall in an instant.
“Enchantress Villa is the biggest house of pleasures in Sangu City. People who were able to step through the gates of Sangu City were definitely tycoons. As for people who managed to step into the Enchantress Villa, they were definitely the richest among the rich. Their betting stakes tend to be too large so, if they used gold to make their bets, well, I’m afraid several chests of gold will only be enough to make a single bet. As such, in this casino, all bets are placed in terms of pearls. These are high quality pearls, a tiny basket of these pearls is enough to buy a large shop in the busiest street in Jinling City. Ordinary merchants will never be able to amass so much wealth in their lives.”
“Can’t they use notes issued by the trading companies? Why are they using pearls?”
Tang Lian shook his head. He pointed at a tanned youth in the middle of the pack of merchants. “Not only locals come to Sangu City. There are Javanese, Arabs, and even the Tocharians. They won’t honor notes issued by out trading companies. Whatever it is, it can’t be denied that the merchants feel the need to flaunt their wealth. What better way to do so than to use precious pearls? They care about their prestige more than anything.”
“Since we are already here, why not gamble in a match?” Xiao Se looked over as he stayed curled up in his thick fur coat.
Tang Lian bitterly laughed, “I don’t have the money to gamble.”
“Why not?” Xiao Se snickered, “We have a coffin made out of gold.”
“Shut up!” Tang Lian snapped in a low voice, “All of the merchants have powerful guards around them. They will be able to hear what you say even if you whisper. We have to keep a low profile and not attract any attention.”
“Oh, isn’t that Lian?” An alluring voice suddenly wafted through their ears.
Tang Lian and Xiao Se raised their heads and they saw a woman in red drifting down from the sky. She held on to a crimson drape which connected to a beam on the ceiling as she slowly descended. Countless ruby-colored flower petals fell from above. In that instant, everyone in the hall stopped their movements as they raised their head to look at her.
“It’s the Heavenly Maiden Rui!” Someone in the crowd screamed her name.
The woman replied with a giggle and she lightly waved her arm. With a single wave, all the flower petals gathered in her palm, forming the shape of a rose.
“Wow!” Another person in the crowd cheered loudly.
The woman lightly tossed the rose downwards and she released her grip from the crimson drape all of a sudden. Falling downwards, her feet lightly tapped on the rose which scattered all around. It scattered to all four corners of the hall and while that was happening, the woman did a flip and silently landed in front of Tang Lian and Xiao Se.
“Senior martial brother, didn’t you say not to attract any unwanted attention?” Xiao Se scanned his surroundings. “Now, everyone in Enchantress Villa is looking at us…”
Tang Lian’s expression became unsightly and he coughed once. “Rui…”
“Lian, you haven’t been here for six months and seven days…” Heavenly Maiden Rui had a heartbroken expression on her face as she held her hands in front of her chest. “Did you really forget about me?”
“One of you is called ‘Rui’, the other is called ‘Lian’… You two sound like a match made in heaven, with flowery names like that .” Xiao Se laughed.
Heavenly Maiden looked at Xiao Se and laughter escaped her lips, “What a good looking young man, I heard that you want to make a bet?”
Xiao Se shook his head and said, “I don’t have money.”
Heavenly Maiden Rui also shook her head, “Nope, you definitely have money.”
“Oh? Why are you so sure?”
“When ordinary people witness such huge bets, their eyes would widen to the size of saucers. When ordinary people behold a beauty like me, they will lose themselves in that haze of lust. However, the lazy look on your face didn’t change at all. It’s as though mountains of wealth and ruinous beauties are nothing but ordinary occurrence to you. What are you, if not a tycoon?” Heavenly Maiden Rui laughed.
“Rui…” Tang Lian growled, “Now is not the time to talk about this.”
Heavenly Maiden Rui took a step forward and gently embraced Tang Lian, stunning him. Heavenly Maiden Rui moved her lips to Tang Lian’s ear and she lightly whispered, “The person coming to pick you up isn’t here. However, famous assassins have been pouring into Sangu City for the past few days. You’re still trying to remain low-key? Everyone in this city is trying to kill you! None of them are here on business, all of them are here for you!”
Tang Lian got a shock in his heart once he heard what Heavenly Maiden Rui said. Even though it was obvious the golden coffin was an extremely expensive object on its own, it was even more obvious that the corpse contained inside the coffin was much more precious than the coffin itself. Even in Sangu City, where all the wealth in the world gathered, the golden coffin and its contents could be considered the most precious object in the city at the moment!
Heavenly Maiden Rui released Tang Lian and her gaze landed on Xiao Se once again. “Does young master still want to make a bet?”
Xiao Se nodded his head, “I have an inn in the mountain called ‘Fallen Snow’. It’s located in a peach blossom forest ten li outside Jinling City. It’s worth approximately ten baskets of precious pearls. If I use that as collateral, I wonder if you are willing to lend me a sum of money?”
“Well said.” Heavenly Maiden lightly clapped her hands. Two burly men carried a basket of pearls each as they made their way to Xiao Se. Another two burly men carried a long table made of red wood.
Heavenly Maiden Rui’s bright voice echoed in the hall, “Today, this young master has reserved the entire Enchantress Villa. Those who would like to gamble can stay behind. Those who are not interested in gambling please take your leave.”
“Heavenly Maiden is surely joking… He’s able to reserve the entire Enchantress Villa with a few tiny baskets of pearls?” A merchant in gold robes stood up and exclaimed, “This young man looks like he’s new in town, I’m afraid he doesn’t know the rules yet. Could Heavenly Maiden’s mind be just as muddled as well?”
“Muddled?” Heavenly Maiden Rui giggled. With a light tap of her feet, she rose into the air. Her sleeves danced in the air and she looked extremely elegant. At first glance, the audience couldn’t control themselves and cheered loudly, however, looking closely, they were shocked to the point they released a loud cry.
A faint and indistinct cold light shot out from Heavenly Maiden Rui’s sleeves. Her palms met and when she pulled them away from each other, a short knife appeared in each of her hands. Waving both knives around, she shot towards the person who insulted her.
The golden robed merchant was dumbstruck and he stood there, unable to move a single muscle. When Heavenly Maiden Rui’s knives were about to pierce through his body, two swords appeared suddenly, deflecting them away.
One sword was jet black and the other was as white as jade.
Heavenly Maiden Rui faintly laughed and her right leg slightly rose. The assassin who held the black sword felt a cold light flash past his eyes and he quickly retreated. Looking at Heavenly Maiden Rui who held two swords in her hand, he realized his mistake. She was actually wielding another knife.
“Tri-blade dance?” Someone in the hall exclaimed in surprise.