The water was very hot!

Chu Liuxiang and Hu Tiehua were soaking in the water, sweats were flowing from their heads. Translated by foxs

But they felt very comfortable.

Because this was not a burning river, just a big public bath.

Hu Tiehua soaked a bath towel, wrung it half dry, and put it on his head. Closing his eyes, he heaved a deep sighed, and muttered to himself, “It’s also water, but the feeling of soaking here is not the same as soaking in river water. Just like people, some are smart, some are idiots.”

Chu Liuxiang’s eyes were also closed, he blurted out asking, “Who’s the idiot?”

Hu Tiehua said, “You are the smart one, I am the idiot.”

Blurted out laughing, Chu Liuxiang said, “Why did you suddenly become this modest?”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “I originally did not want to admit it, but I cannot but to admit. If it wasn’t for you, I’d have been burnt a few times, how could I have the good fortune to come here to take a bath?”

He heaved a deep sigh again, before continuing, “To be honest, at that time I was simply so scared that my mind went blank, I could not figure out how the water in the river was ignited. Furthermore, I never thought that under the fire was still water, if it wasn’t for you pulling me, I really did not dare to jump down.”

Chu Liuxiang chuckled, he said, “Before the fire started, didn’t you smell some kind of strange smell?”

Hu Tiehua said, “Right … at that time I forgot that your nose does not work, I was going to ask you, by the time I remembered that you did not seem to have a nose at all, the fire started.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Do you know what that smell is?”

Hu Tiehua said, “If I knew, why would I ask you?”

Chu Liuxiang spoke unhurriedly, “People with noses would ask people without noses instead, that is really a strange thing.”

Hu Tiehua chuckled, he said, “Just now you did not let me be burned to death, it could be considered your bad luck. No matter how many times you rescued me, I would still scold you the same way.”

Without letting Chu Liuxiang to speak, he hurriedly said, “Since you have saved me this time, you have to tell me what smell it was.”

Chu Liuxiang also chuckled and said, “You, this person, are at least very frank … Although I did not smell anything, I saw it.” Translated by foxs

Hu Tiehua said, “What did you see?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Oil.”

Hu Tiehua said, “Oil? What kind of oil?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Exactly what kind of oil it was, I am not too clear myself, but I have heard before that there is some kind of black oil produced underground in the Tibetan border area. It is extremely flammable; moreover, once it was ignited, the intensity of the fire is uncontrollable.”

Knitting his brows, Hu Tiehua said, “That’s right, I also felt that the smell is a bit like oil, but how could there be such black oil on the Chang Jiang [lit. long river, Yangtze River]?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Naturally someone poured it down.”

He continued, “No matter what oil you pour into the water, the oil must float on the water, so it can still burn, but they forget that since the oil floats on the surface of the water, under the surface of the water, there must be no fire, as long as you have the guts to jump into the fire, you can still jump into the water.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “If someone wants to burn you, this old stinky bug to death, it’s really not easy.”

Chu Liuxiang laughed and said, “But these people can transport the black oil from the Tibetan border here and dare to set the Great River on fire, it can clearly be seen that they are definitely not ordinary people. They must be organized, have power, have financial resources, and have very big guts.”

Hu Tiehua said, “We unexpectedly could not see through that that young guy surnamed Ding has such great ability.”

Chu Liuxiang said, “The person who set the fire may be Ding Feng, but he definitely is not these people’s leader … As for who the leader is, you don’t have to ask me, because I don’t know either.”

Hu Tiehua frowned even deeper. Muttering to himself irresolutely, he said, “When they found out that we were following their track, they did not hesitate to sink their new boat, they did not hesitate to set the river on fire to burn us to death … What are these people trying to do?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “I have already said that this must be a very astonishing big thing.”

Hu Tiehua said, “But Kumei Dashi and Gao Yanan, could they be falling into their poisonous hands?”

Chu Liuxiang said, “Absolutely not.”

Hu Tiehua said, “In that case, they have spent so much effort, could it be because they want to pick up Kumei Dashi and Gao Yanan?” Translated by foxs

Chu Liuxiang said, “Hey, maybe …”

Hu Tiehua said, “If they have malicious intentions towards Kumei Dashi, why would Kumei Dashi go with them? If they have no malicious intentions towards Kumei Dashi, why would they be so mysterious?”

After asking that, he closed his eyes, as if he did not want listen to Chu Liuxiang’s answer at all, because he knew that no one could answer those questions.

This place was called ‘Xiao Yao Chi’ [free and unfettered pond], a public bathroom. The price was not cheaper than a separate, individual public bath, but soaking inside the piping hot big pool had a different tone and mood; while taking a bath, one could also enjoy the delight in chatting with friends, therefore, menfolk in Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions, whether rich or poor, liked to have morning tea before noon, and loved to soak here for one or two sichen in the afternoon.

Of course, there were not only the two of them in the public bath, but through a thin layer of steam, no one could see the other’s face clearly, not to mention that for most of the men, they came here for their own enjoyment and to relaxation, no one wanted to mind other people’s business, while also did not want others to mind about their own business.

On the other side of the public bath, there were two or three men washing their feet and rubbing their backs. Another man had finished soaking and was rinsing in front of the water tank on the side.

These few people did not seem to notice Chu Liuxiang, and Chu Liuxiang did not pay them any attention either. In this kind of place, everybody came together, stark naked, nobody could see the other side’s status, whether it was an aristocrat [orig. king (prince) and marquis], a general or minister, or a famous scholar and very able person, once they stripped naked, they were no different from peddlers and carriers [common people/lower class].

Chu Liuxiang loved to come to this kind of place very much. He found that only when one was stark naked and was soaking in the water would one be able to fully understand oneself, to clearly see oneself.

There were also many big businessmen who like to come to such places to talk business, because they also discovered that when they meet each other naked, the heart to ridicule and cheat might decrease somewhat.

In the corner over there, two men were talking in low voices, but it was unclear what they were talking about. One of them, Chu Liuxiang felt that he looked familiar, but momentarily he could not remember who it was.

The man standing in front of the sink had finished rinsing, he walked out while wringing the towel.

This man’s two legs were very slender, very long, but his upper body was very thick and solid, his shoulders were very wide. He walks staggeringly, as if he might fall down any moment. Translated by foxs

But in just one glance Chu Liuxiang was able to see that this man’s qinggong was extremely high, but the weapon he used must be very heavy. Obviously, he was also a Wulin martial art master.

Those with high qinggong, the weapon they used were mostly easy to carry, some even only carry secret projectiles. Men with high qinggong but using heavy weapon, there were really not many in Jianghu.

A hint of smile appeared on the corner of Chu Liuxiang’s mouth, as if he had already guessed who this person was.

Soaking in the pool, watching other people’s activities, analyzing other people’s identities, guessing other people’s origins, these were also among the many kinds of pleasures of taking a bath here.

The long-legged man had just reached the door when a man suddenly rushed in.

The man’s expression was very nervous, as if he was being chased by a ghost. As soon as he rushed in, ‘Splash!’ he jumped into the pool.

The water splashed all over, splashing Hu Tiehua’s head that it was all wet.

Hu Tiehua opened his eyes wide and was about to curse, but as soon as he saw this man, the anger across his whole face immediately turned into a smiling expression; cursing and laughing, he said, “You daredevil, not on the river casting net, why did you come here? Could it be that you want to catch some fish in this muddy water?”

Chu Liuxiang also laughed in spite of himself, he said, “I think you should be more careful, don’t get caught by his ‘Fast Net’.”

The man who rushed in from the outside turned out to be Zhang San, the ‘Fast Net’ whom Chu Liuxiang and Hu Tiehua had just talked about. Not only this man’s water skill was high, the fish he grilled was good, but he was also sharp-witted and intelligent, able to talk really well, had various eyelids [not sure, perhaps an idiom], made a lot of friends, and naturally he had very strong yiqi [spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice, code of brotherhood] toward his friends.

This man was good all around, but he had one shortcoming.

As soon as he saw a good pearl, his hands itched, he simply had to find a way to get it. Yellow gold, white silver, emerald and agate, all kinds of gems, nothing could move his heart.

He only loved pearls, just like Hu Tiehua only saw good wine.

But now, seeing Chu Liuxiang and Hu Tiehua, he seemed to be happier than seeing pearls. Raising his head, he let out a long, long sigh and said with a laugh, “King Bodhisattva who helps those who suffer and rescue those in distress, I, Zhang San, am indeed blessed with great fortune; I meet noble people everywhere.”

Hu Tiehua laughed and cursed, “Looking at you without head, without mind, could it be that you have run into a ghost?”

The ‘Fast Net’ Zhang San heaved a sigh; smiling wryly, he said, “Running into a ghost might be a bit better instead, the one I ran into is really more vicious than a ghost.” Translated by foxs

Knitting his brows, Hu Tiehua said, “What kind of people more vicious than a ghost, I really want to see.”

Zhang San said, “You …”

He had just opened his mouth, suddenly a burst of clamoring noise came from the outside.

The long-legged man had already walked out of the door, but now he suddenly came back.

Only to hear a male’s hoarse voice say, “Guniang, you can’t come to this place.”

Another person said, “Other people can come, why can’t I come? Why can’t I come?”

The voice was urgent and fast, but dainty, sharp and clear, unexpectedly it sounded like a young girl’s voice.

The man anxiously said, “This is the place where men bathe, Da Guniang [Big Miss], how can you come in?”

The young girl said, “You said I can’t come in, but I insist on coming in, I simply must come in.”

She laughed coldly twice; raising her voice a little bit, she said, “Stinky thief, you escaped here, you think this Guniang will not dare to come? Let me tell you, even if you escape to the Sen Luo Dian [(name of immortal) Palace Hall], Guniang will still chase you to see Yan Luo Wang [Yama, King of Hell].”

Sticking out his tongue, Hu Tiehua blurted out laughing and said, “This Xiao Bengniang [little girl, derogatory, with resentment, sarcasm, and helpless emotions (] is really vicious …”

He cast Zhang San a glance, and found that Zhang San’s face was completely pale with fright. Suddenly, he plunged his head into the hot and muddy bath water, unexpectedly he did not stick his head out again.

Knitting his brows, Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “With us here, what are you afraid of? Why do you need to drink other people’s foot-washing water?”

Chu Liuxiang also laughed.

He always liked to meet interesting people, and the little girl [xiao bengniang, also subsequent occurrences] outside must be very interesting. He was hoping that she would really charge inside here.

But what kind of woman dared to burst into a men’s bathroom?

The noise outside became more and more fierce, the bathroom attendant shouted loudly, “You can’t go in, you must not …”

Before he could finish speaking, a loud ‘Slap!’ was heard. Obviously the man was slapped so hard that he could not even open his mouth. Translated by foxs

And then, two persons rushed in from the outside.

Shockingly, they were really two women.

No one would have thought that any woman would dare to burst into a men’s bathing hall. The long-legged man shrank back, and jumped into the water again, and squatted down.

They saw that this brazen woman was not only very young, but also extremely beautiful. The bridge of her nose straight, she had cherry mouth, her pair of eyes big and bright, there was no such bright star in the sky. The way she dressed was even more distinguished, she wore crimson arrow clothes embroidered with golden flowers and ink-black phoenix, a pair of powder-soled official boots, and matching trousers of the same color. On her head she wore purple-gold crown, around her waist she wore the same color purple-gold belt. Upon a quick glance, she looked remarkably alike a young master, children of the nobility, who had just returned from shoot arrows at the shooting range.

But how could there be such a pretty man in the world?

Following behind her was a fourteen, fifteen years old girl [orig. yatou, could mean servant girl], her round face looked like a leather balloon, even when she was not smiling, her eyes carried a 30% smiling expression.

Chu Liuxiang and Hu Tiehua looked at each other, they were both a little amused inwardly.

They could see that on the girl’s golden crown, there was originally a pearl; moreover, it must not be small, but now the pearl has disappeared.

Where did the pearl go? The ‘Fast Net’ Zhang San, presumably this kid’s ailment must have flared up again!

But the ‘Fast Net’ Zhang San, not only his water skill was exquisite, his martial art skill on land was absolutely not weak either, his qinggong and secret projectile skill were definitely not ordinary. Why was he so afraid of this little girl?

The girl in red’s pair of big eyes went round and around, every man in the pool was stared by her for a moment. Being stared like that, Hu Tiehua’s scalp itched.

Soaking inside the pool, stark naked, being stared at by a young girl —— it was indeed not a good feeling.

That younger girl’s face had already turned red. She hid behind the girl in red, as if she did not dare to look out, but from time to time she stole a glance this side at Chu Liuxiang.

Chu Liuxiang found it very interesting.

The girl in red suddenly spoke loudly, “Just now, a man that looks like a monkey fled inside, did you guys see him?” Translated by foxs

None of the men in the pool spoke.

The girl in red glowered, she said, “If you tell me, I will reward you heavily. If you dare to hide him, you need to be a bit more careful.”

Hu Tiehua blinked and suddenly said, “Is Guniang talking about a man who looks a bit like a monkey?”

“That’s right,” the girl in red said, “Did you see him?”

Hu Tiehua spoke leisurely, “If it was a man like that, I did indeed see one.”

Under water, Zhang San’s heart almost fell off his chest cavity, he really wished he could sew Hu Tiehua’s mouth shut so that from now on he could never drink a drop of wine.

Chu Liuxiang also thought it was very funny.

Naturally he knew that Hu Tiehua was not someone who would sell out his friends, at most he just wanted to make Zhang San suffer some small pains and had a change of his ailment.

The girl in red’s eyes brightened, she said, “Where is that man? Tell me first, if you do, I will reward you.”

Hu Tiehua said, “What is the reward?”

“Humph!” The girl in red snorted and casually threw something into the water. Chu Liuxiang’s sharp eyes could see that it unexpectedly it was a glistening yellow golden ingot.

The way this little girl’s spent money was not small at all. “People who can toss gold ingots casually, naturally their background cannot be small.”

Chu Liuxiang felt it was even more interesting.

Hu Tiehua fished the gold ingot from the water, as if he still did not dare to believe that it was real. It was only after taking a closer look that his brows raised in delight, his eyes laughing [idiom], and said, “Thank you, Guniang.”

The girl in red said, “Where is that man? Where is he?”

Stroking his nose, Hu Tiehua spoke leisurely, “That man …”

He also knew that this moment, every eye in the public bath was staring at him, every face carried a despising look. After all, a man who sells out his friends for an ingot of gold always provokes disgust.

But Hu Tiehua still did not blush; without any sense of urgency at all, he slowly stretched out his hand and pointed to Chu Liuxiang’s nose. Grinning, he said, “The man is here, didn’t Guniang see it?” Translated by foxs

As soon as he said that, some people were stunned, some people could not help laughing out loud.

Chu Liuxiang did not know whether to laugh or cry even more.

The girl in red’s face turned white with anger, she said angrily, “You … dare to make fun of me!”

Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “How could Zaixia dare to make fun of Guniang, to babble? Guniang, please look at this man; don’t you think that he looks remarkably alike a monkey … Could it be that the man Guniang is looking for is not him?”

The girl in red cast Chu Liuxiang a glance, when she saw Chu Liuxiang’s not-to-know-whether-to-laugh-or-to-cry expression, her eyes could not help emitting smiling expression.

The younger girl had already covered her mouth, she was giggling incessantly.

Hu Tiehua was even more proud of himself, he laughed and said, “The man who looks like a monkey here, he is the only one. If Guniang is not looking for him, then Zaixia does not know who it is.”

The girl in red’s face sunk, obviously she did not know how to deal with this man.

She was, after all, still young, such a thick-skinned man, she really had not seen any …

The younger girl cast Chu Liuxiang another glance, she could not help saying with a laugh, “Guniang, we’d better go.”

The girl in red suddenly hmphed, she spoke loudly, “Why should I leave? Why must I?”

She speaks hurriedly and quickly, often repeating a sentence twice, as if afraid that others could not hear her clearly. She spoke a sentence twice, compared to other people saying it once, it was not much slower.

The younger girl said, “That thief really does not seem to be here …”

The girl in red laughed coldly a couple of times, she said, “Actually, I did not come here entirely to find him. In all the world, I’ve seen all kind of places, only this kind of place I’ve never been to before, so I decided to come here to have a look, to see who would dare to drive me out!”

Stroking his palms together, Hu Tiehua laughed and said, “True, living in the world, if one live like Guniang, only then will his life have a meaning. People like Guniang, Zaixia always admire the most.”

“Humph!” The girl in red snorted.

Hu Tiehua said, “It’s a pity that Guniang’s guts is not big enough.” Translated by foxs

Glowering at him, the girl in red said, stared, “What did you say?”

Grinning, Hu Tiehua said, “If Guniang also dares to jump into this pool, then you will be considered as having the guts, having the ability.”

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