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Anurman, HPC, you are welcome. BChin, thanks for dropping by. One of these days, I am going to contact you about that website we were talking about. Xiaohu, I told you a week ago that 'things' would go back to 'normal'. Akolaw, thanks for the info. Lance, perhaps registered at the city hall? Patudo, 'daffodil saber' … not bad!

Book 26 Chapter 11 - Wind and Clouds in the Casino

At the corner of the last hall, Liu An said with a laugh to Kou Zhong, "Xiaoren was right! These four fat sheep are all from out of town. I wonder which one is Daye's heart leaning to?"

Kou Zhong was greatly astonished. Just now Liu An pointed four men to him, one of them was definitely the 'Midas Touch' Lai Chaogui who disguised himself as a fat sheep. But the other three were really out-of-town fat sheep; he could not help feeling at a loss. If he did not choose Lai Chaogui, wouldn't Liu An's cheating scheme be difficult to succeed?

The hall he was entering only had one gambling style, which was Tian Jiu.

Tian Jiu and Pai Jiu were both using the same dominoes, but they were played differently.

Tomorrow's Tian Jiu big meet should be held in this thirty-table hall. This moment every table was surrounded by more than a hundred people, so it was very noisy.

Liu An leaned close to Kou Zhong's ear again and said, "Perhaps we'd better divide these four men into four doors, in succession. Daye can then take two doors."

Kou Zhong's had an idea, he said, "Let's take the two doors at the back!" Lai Chaogui was not in one of those doors; he wanted to see how Liu An would react.

Unexpectedly Liu An shouted an acclamation before glibly said, "Daye really has ability; you are able to see the two doors at the back are not as good as the sheep at the front two doors; certainly you have original insight. The fat sheep at the two front doors, the one wearing blue gown surnamed Jia, has the worst gambling appearance. Naturally it cannot escape Daye's discerning eye."

Kou Zhong was angry but was amused at the same time. This kind of swindling skill, he also had enough to show off. On the surface it looked like you are the one making selection, while actually it was the other party using his glib tongue doing the selection for you. But the fisherman can be hooked as well.

Kou Zhong pretended to be unsure, "Of course," he said.

By lucky coincidence, this moment he saw Lei Jiuzhi entering the hall, so he busily waving his hand to greet him. Lei Jiuzhi only nodded his head slightly, before squeezing himself into one of the gambling table to make a bet.

Surprised, Liu An asked, "Is that Daye's friend?"

Lowering his voice, Kou Zhong replied, "Speaking about fat sheep, that guy is really a big fat sheep. He owns more than dozen pottery factories in Jiangxi, as well as abundant family property. He may lose one, two thousand taels of silver, and his countenance won't change a bit."

Liu An's pair of mousy eyes immediately lit up. He said, "Why not invite him to gamble together to your heart's content?"

Shaking his head, Kou Zhong said, "There are a lot of choices to place a bet in here, plus he knew that my gambling skill is brilliant, how could he be willing to bet against us?"

Liu An roused his tongue like a reed [idiom: glib tongue] and said, "You are right, but right now the casino is too crowded, you can only place a bet on other people's cards; how can it compare to the excitement of betting on your own cards?"

Frowning, Kou Zhong said, "Didn't we already find our fat sheep?"

Liu An said, "Two fat sheep are naturally better than one. Let us decide on some signals now, we can go separately to move this plan forward!"

Xu Ziling lost three times in succession; he lost more than half of his gambling chips. More and more people were gathered around the table, they all placed their bet on Hu Xiaoxian's cards. Even the gamblers who were originally playing against her were now placing their bets on the face-off between Xu Ziling and Hu Xiaoxian.

For Xu Ziling, whether it was a win or a loss, everything was extremely important; but for Hu Xiaoxian, at most she only lost a bet.

Under the gaze of Hu Xiaoxian's black, fluid beautiful eyes, which were as calm as still water, Xu Ziling felt like he wanted to bore a hole on the ground and hide in it. Without any better option he pretended to look down to shuffle the cards, not daring to look at her. Inwardly he cursed Lei Jiuzhi, who had gone without any trace.

Pai Jiu card game used the dots of two dice to make up thirty-two cards, twenty-one styles of cards, nine types of odd numbers, twelve kinds of even numbers.

In general, the game could be played by two to four people, using the roll of the dice to determine the number of dots, each draw was six cards, the banker drew an extra card and took the lead to play his cards, and then the other players play their cards in succession, whether to meet with and defeat or just to get rid of their cards. The cards in their hands could be composed of two suits plus one barbarian suit [not sure: 夷牌 (yi pai)], which could be pushed forward to triumph over the opponent. The winning bet was calculated according to the suit's ratio and the yi pai's points. [Note: the 'cards' here refer to domino tiles, not western playing cards.]

Xu Ziling was about to roll the dice and deal the cards when a clear, sweet, gentle and beautiful voice rang out, "Hold on!"

Stunned, everybody looked up. A thousand-tender, a hundred-charming beauty, using who-knows-what kind of shenfa already squeezed through the crowd and took position at the very front, in a graceful and touching posture sat down on the seat between Hu Xiaoxian and Xu Ziling. With a hint of smile on her face, she said, "Nujia came to take advantage of the excitement."

Everybody could only stare blankly at her, bedazzled by her beauty, momentarily they forgot to protest that with this interference, the game was delayed.

Beauty like Hu Xiaoxian was already rare in the world, and yet this newcomer beauty was at least half a notch above her.

Shockingly, she was Wan Yaonu's Shimei, Bai Yaonu [female demon], Bai Qing'er.

In that instant, Xu Ziling suddenly calmed down completely. His heart was as bright and clear as the moon in the well, not contaminated the slightest bit by distracting thoughts.

Hu Xiaoxian was also curiously sizing up this beautiful and alluring addition to their game.

Xu Ziling met Bai Qing'er's limpid and bright gaze. Laughing calmly, he said, "Since that's the case, we'll start with new game."

Bai Qing'er performed the beautiful movement of shrugging her shoulders, indicating that she did not mind. "Please do as you wish!" she spoke indifferently.

Xu Ziling reached out to shuffle the tiles.

For some unknown reason, the crowd felt their heart suddenly tensed up; nobody made any noise, they all held their breath to watch with full attention.

Bai Qing'er's eyes were fixed on Xu Ziling's sparkling and translucent like jade slender palms without blinking at all, as if she was trying to pry into the depth of Xu Ziling's foundation from the hands. Just like Hu Xiaoxian, she renounced the right to shuffle the tiles.

After repeated 'Click! Clack!' noise, Xu Ziling piled up the tiles neatly.

It was because now he had a powerful enemy nearby that he was finally able to control his mind and unleashed the stacking-tile skill that Lei Jiuzhi taught him. By using his school's unique skill of listening to tiles rubbing against tiles he was able to remember several cards. Naturally it would be ideal if he could remember all 32 cards, but it was simply impossible.

Lei Jiuzhi was only able to remember six to eight cards, but five was Xu Ziling's limit, yet it was extremely useful already.

For the first time Hu Xiaoxian revealed a grave expression; obviously it was because of Xu Ziling's technique and his 'listening to the tiles' skill.

Everybody started to place their bets. This aspect was taken care of by the casino personnel, calculation and compensation were generally taking care all by itself, so Xu Ziling did not have to worry about it.

Xu Ziling smiled, handed the dice to Hu Xiaoxian, and said calmly and indifferently, "How about Xiaojie [Miss] roll the dice for this round?"

Hu Xiaoxian was startled, but then she took the dice and threw them on the table.
Wind and clouds, fig. unstable situation.

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