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Anurman, Xiaohu, HPC, Ysabel, Jaya, you are welcome. Akolaw, thanks for the info. We will see more of that in these upcoming parts.

'not relying on translators' … really? Then why are you here? Don't tell me that you are here just to read the readers' comment. Since you love to use quotation to show how smart you are, here's the definition of 'hypocrite' from Merriam-Webster: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. No, I am not trying to shame you. I am stating the fact. If you are as smart as you think you are, I seem to remember challenging you to translate something, anything, and I seem to remember that you accept that challenge. Forgive me for not remembering the exact post number, I don't usually waste my mind in things like that, and I believe I am not the only one who 'encourage' you to translate. However, with all kinds of excuses, you always skirted this issue. It's been awhile now, surely you already have several chapters (or even books) ready to be posted, but I haven't seen anything. So now I am 'encouraging' you for the last time: give us real proof of your superiority, don't give us empty talk. You know, 'better light a candle than curse at the darkness', 'walk in someone else's shoes' and all that. All I am asking is that you don't post your work here. Create your own thread. And should you decide to translate this exact same story, you should start from the beginning, and not just getting a free ride from the translator whom you do not trust anyway.

Xu Ziling looked at Bai Qing'er; the divine light in his eyes suddenly flared out.

Bai Qing'er was caught off-guard by his gaze, her fragrant heart shivered slightly.

Xu Ziling sent out his true qi from the tip of his toes that flowed upward along the leg of the table and traveled toward the dice still rolling on the table. Not only this move was not something that Lei Jiuzhi could accomplish, the fact is that not many people in the world could do this.

Due to the subtle relationship between Xu Ziling, Hu Xiaoxian and Bai Qing'er, this corner of the hall was enveloped in extraordinary atmosphere; it was tense like the bow that has been pulled taut, full of accumulating potential energy.

By the time Xu Ziling turned his gaze toward the dice, the dice have stopped rolling; all three of them showed three dots, for a total of nine points.

Gasps of surprise rippled among the spectators.

Hu Xiaoxian suddenly said, "I have not asked for Sire's honorable surname and great given name."

"I am Gong Chenchun," Xu Ziling casually replied. And then, turning toward the stall officer representing the casino, he said, "Please deal the cards."

It was only this moment that the stall officer realized that Xu Ziling was a master; he thought that previously Xu Ziling was just playing dumb; busily he dealt the tiles for the three.

The crowd craned their necks, watching attentively in full concentration. Although all around them the noise shook the hall, in this corner the crow and peacock made no sound.

Xu Ziling's self-confidence and composure in the face of the enemy has been fully restored. When each of them has received two cards, he suddenly called for a halt and said, "What do you say we bet on big or small, with the card as the tie-breaker?"

Hu Xiaoxian did not even cast a glance with the corner of her eye toward the cards on the table; her pretty eyebrows slightly knitted, she looked at Xu Ziling. For the first time that night she felt that she has fallen into a disadvantageous position.

This kind of gambling method was not Xu Ziling's new creation. Turned out Pai Jiu has many variants of gambling method, one of which being two cards become a group, after the roll of the dice, the number of dots indicate the points that one earned, which then extended with the spread-out tiles to determine the winner. This was commonly referred to as Small Pai Jiu.

But changing gambling method at the last moment like Xu Ziling did was very rare; however, it increased the excitement of the game, so that the crowd was greatly delighted.

Hu Xiaoxian seemed to be no match for Xu Ziling's gaze; turning toward Bai Qing'er, she said, "This Jiejie [older sister], what do you think?"

Bai Qing'er met Xu Ziling's sharp and grim gaze; she spoke slowly, "Can I increase the bet?"

Xu Ziling sniggered inwardly, knowing that she did not realize that he was playing a trick. But he could not blame her either, because no matter how brilliant she was, it would be difficult to see through the number one skilled artisan Lu Miaozi's gambling art.

"Of course you can," Xu Ziling replied.

Her countenance did not change, Bai Qing'er said, "In that case I am adding ten taels of gold, we'll decide win or lose by laying our cards on the table according to what you said!"

The crowd was in an uproar.

Kou Zhong took Lei Jiuzhi to meet with Liu An at one corner of the casino.

Lei Jiuzhi proudly said, "The most delightful gambling is using real gold and white silver to place a bet. If you want to see me, you have to have real silver; if you want credit, save yourself from asking."

Smiling apologetically, Liu An said, "That shouldn't be a problem. Laoban [boss], may I ask your honorable surname and great given name?"

"I am surnamed Chen," Lei Jiuzhi replied.

"Turns out it's Chen Laoban," Liu An said, "I wonder how much Chen Laoban wants to bet, and which game you want to play?"

Lei Jiuzhi said, "Naturally it's Tian Jiu; just consider it a warmup before the big meet tomorrow. Each bet is one tael of gold, four cards break even, five cards win one bet, each tile loses four bets, binding tiles win five bets. For supreme, regardless of the outcome, everybody bestows two bets; if the supreme produces another binding, each person bestows four bets. You get it?" [Translator's note: sorry, I don't get it. I have no idea what he was talking about.]

Liu An was greatly delighted, thinking that you, this fool, wanted to have such a grand gambling, it would be strange indeed if I cannot beat you until you lose your family fortune. It would be ideal if there is another fool joining in, then this game could be said to have only victory and no loss. He hurriedly said, "Everything will be as Chen Laoban wishes. This way, please, Jia Laoban [boss Jia] is waiting respectfully for the two gentlemen in the side hall."

Xu Ziling thought at most she would add a hundred taels of white silver, which was already a heavy bet enough to build a decent house for most common folks; who would have thought that it was ten taels of gold? Immediately he groaned inwardly.

Bai Qing'er put the glistening yellow gold on the table, and said with a tender laughter, "If the banker loses this hand, would he have enough money to pay?"

All eyes were focused on Xu Ziling's remaining gambling chips; no one did not shake his head.

By this time everybody knew that Bai Qing'er had come specifically to deal with Xu Ziling.

Hu Xiaoxian smiled and said, "Gong Xiong, would you like Nujia to lend you money to meet a contingency?"

This time, forget about the spectators, even Xu Ziling himself was taken aback. If he was showing his true identity, it could be said that Hu Xiaoxian took a fancy to him. But with his current scared face, even looking at himself in the mirror, he would be less than impressed; why would Hu Xiaoxian treat him well?

Suddenly a female voice familiar to Xu Ziling rang out, "This ten taels of gold, let me, Yun Yuzhen cover for him, Madame Qing'er shouldn't have any objection."

Wave after wave of strange things kept happening, everybody felt confused and disoriented, they could not tell east from west anymore.

The crowd separated a bit. Escorted by a middle-aged man with grim expression and the skin of his face suffused with green-white color, Yun Yuzhen lithely came behind Xu Ziling.

The man saluted toward Hu Xiaoxian and Bai Qing'er, saying, "Zha Hai of Jiujiang pays his respect to Miss Xiaoxian and Madame Qing'er." Unexpectedly he was the big boss of Yin Ru Ge, the 'Gambling Ghost' Zha Hai.

Zha Hai went on, "If Gong Xiong could win this hand, Xiaodi will give Gong Xiong the token to take part in the competition to show my respect to you. But there is one condition."

Xu Ziling guessed that Yun Yuzhen and Zha Hai have been standing behind him all this time, and thus have witnessed the entire course of events. Furthermore, Yun Yuzhen must have recognized him from looking at his back, as well as from his voice.


How should he deal with this woman?

Hu Xiaoxian did not even bother to pick her two tiles; she forcefully slapped - creating a crisp, sharp noise that shook everybody to the core - and casually opening the cards up and spread them on the table.

Those who put their bets on her exploded into cheers.

The tiles showed a pair of four, which, in Pai Jiu, is 'man' suit, which belonged to the big tiles of civil suit. Other than 'heaven' and 'earth', no combination could beat hers, so the chance of winning was very high.

Bai Qing'er also flipped her tiles for everybody to see; it was the military suit of four and five, resulting in red nine. Although it could not beat Hu Xiaoxian's 'man' suit, the odd of winning could be considered extremely high as well.

Showing no emotion on his face, Xu Ziling looked at the two sets of tiles, and spoke in heavy voice, "May I venture to ask Zha Dangjia [manager] which condition are you going to raise?"

It was only then that everybody remembered that just now Zha Hai has not fully expressed himself.

Zha Hai glibly said, "I wonder if before the tiles are flipper over, Gong Xiong is able to tell what's at the bottom of the tiles?"

The crowd burst into an uproar.

If under this kind of multitude-of-staring-eyes situation Xu Ziling was still able to come up with a trick, he was certainly extremely skillful.

Xu Ziling shook his head and said with a sigh, "Zha Dangjia is indeed formidable; then in this hand I can only hope to win over Madame Qing'er's ten taels of gold. As for the others, I won't fetch a single wen."

People felt that it would be very difficult to blame him, because he did not admit that he knew, nobody had any proof that he cheated.

Zha Hai threw his head back in long laughter, "You have guts!" he said.

Hu Xiaoxian smiled and said, "Gong Xiong, don't make a mistake by saying the wrong thing!"

Shrugging his shoulders, Xu Ziling said, "If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong! What's the big deal? This is a pair of laoyao [lit. youngest], please open it up for Ol' Gong."

Zha Hai signaled the stall officer with his eyes; the latter received the order and open up the tiles. Indeed it was a pair of laoyao, 'earth' suit, just enough to beat Hu Xiaoxian's 'man' suit.

Those who stood in a circle and watched suddenly broke into thunderous uproar.

Yet Xu Ziling was inwardly wiping his cold sweat. He could only remember four cards; the other was just lucky guess, hence he had to come up with all kinds of technique to score victory after every pair of cards was spread out on the table, so this win was an extremely close call.

Bai Qing'er pushed all the golden ingots to his direction; standing up daintily, she said, "I hope Gong Xiong's skill and luck will always be this good!"

Finished speaking, she left without saying anything else.

Yun Yuzhen said, "Gong Xiong, can we step aside to talk?"

Outwardly, Lai Chaohui, who was using the name Jia Chong, not only did not look like a con man, his appearance was stately, like an intelligent man. His age was around forty, he dressed in a refined manner, carrying the air of a man with riches and honor. He spoke calmly, with a pleasing smile hanging eternally on the corner of his mouth.

Kou Zhong and Lei Jiuzhi both thought inwardly that no wonder he was able to swindle Gongliang Ji until he lost his family fortune.

The four men met in the VIP lounge, where a young, beautiful female banker officer called Ling Gu [or Auntie Ling] presided over the room. It was the casino's rule, which all gamblers using the VIP lounge had to follow.

Putting on an air of arrogance, higher-than-anybody-else attitude, Lei Jiuzhi took out thirty taels of glistening yellow gold from his pouch, which he put on the table for everybody to see, and said, "Whoever has ability may win these gold, and then tomorrow morning I'll take the boat to go back home."

Lai Chaogui and Liu An's four squinty eyes immediately lit up.

Putting on an air of embarrassment, Kou Zhong took out all the eighteen taels of gold that he had in his possession, and said with a forced laugh, "My gambling capital is less than that, I hope it is all right?"

Most of the gold were given to him by Ba Fenghan due to his 'righteousness reaches the clouds and the sky'. If he really lost it, he would go back to his original shape of having only one wen to his name.

Altogether the two men's capital amounted to forty-eight taels of gold. At that time, this amount was enough to buy three or four multi-decked ships. Therefore, even the banker officer Ling Gu could only stare blankly at the gold.

Lei Jiuzhi fixed his gaze on Lai Chaogui and Liu An.

Lai Chaogui laughed aloud and said, "Chen Xiong and Zong Xiong are indeed grand gambler warrior, naturally Xiaodi will be honored to accompany you. It's just that unlike two Laoxiong [old chap] whose purse contains that many gold, Xiaodi … oh!"

Lei Jiuzhi brushed his sleeve away and said, "Without gold, how could we have a delightful game?" Reaching out, he put the gold back into his pouch.

Lai Chaogui hastily said, "Hold on! Could Chen Xiong give Xiaodi a quarter of sichen to get the gold?"

Lei Jiuzhi leaned back into his chair and said, "I will wait for a quarter of sichen only. Don't waste my time."

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