Chapter 7 – Mortal Danger, Escape Alive
Book 7 Chapter 7 – Mortal Danger, Escape Alive
Kou Zhong thundered, “Xiao Ling, you go pay your respect to Yu Yi [aunt], leave it to me to accompany Ba Xiong playing several moves!”
Fu Junyu let out a cold humph and said, “This fellow does not know the immensity of heaven and earth. Based on those several tricks of yours, what gives you the qualification to challenge Fennghan? And don’t call me Yu Yi anymore. I have no relationship whatsoever with you.”
Ba Fenghan burst out laughing and said, “Although you, these two kids, are quite all right, your level is not enough to play with Ol’ Ba. Just show your real skill nicely, see if you are qualified to have relationship with Junyu! If I made my move, I will not hold my hands at all.”
While talking, both his facial expression and his demeanor carried the poise of a man from an influential family, perfectly matching his heroic and grand countenance, which made other people admiring him from the heart. No wonder Fu Junyu was conquered by him.
Xu Ziling smiled faintly and said, “Ba Xiong is too conceited. I am afraid that when you are too full of yourself, when suffering defeat, it would be even harder for you to get off the stage.”
It was Fu Junyu who scrambled to take the initiative on Ba Fenghan’s behalf; with her tender voice she scolded, “No need to spout nonsense! Who’s going to go first?”
Ba Fenghan did not take offence at all; he simply sized the two boys up coldly, but in his heart he started to get a peculiar feeling that he had never felt before.
Since making great accomplishment in martial art at the age of eighteen, these past seven years he made it his special purpose in life to fight in one place after another all over the world, to temper himself through real combat experience, so that his spirit, qi and mind were rising into an unprecedented heights. It could even be said that his vigor was simply uncontested.
Upon arriving in the Central Plains, the number of martial art masters from famous schools who fell under his hand was at least forty, fifty people. However, he had never encountered anybody who could talk and laugh as though nothing had happened like Kou and Xu, two people. Apparently these two boys did not think of him as a big deal.
Simply this kind of cool-headed skill was enough to make him to have a whole new level of respect for them. Not to mention Kou Zhong’s innate overbearing character and Xu Ziling’s calm, confident and cool character, which were rarely seen, were enough to make his heart itched. Too bad he already promised Fu Junyu that he would refrain himself and was going to sit on the sideline as a spectator; otherwise, he would have charged forward to try it himself.
The official reason of his trip to the Central Earth this time was to flee from Bi Xuan, but the unspoken reason was actually to actively resisting Bi Xuan. Compared to Bi Xuan, he had to admit that he was still several notches inferior; therefore, he headed east to gain real combat experience before he would attempt to have a decisive battle against Bi Xuan again. And now that he saw a good test object, how could his heart not itch to try?
Meanwhile Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Yu Yi, please keep calm, don’t get excited! If you want to fight then fight!”
‘Qiang!’ The Moon in the Well left its scabbard, and immediately turned into a rainbow, shooting toward Ba Fenghan, who was sitting on the pile of salt sacks.
Almost simultaneously Xu Ziling soared into the air, like a turning wheel his two fists attacked Ba Fenghan’s face.
This move was totally beyond Ba Fenghan and Fu Junyu’s expectation; they had never imagined that the two boys would be so dauntless. Unexpectedly they had the impertinence to make their move against the most overbearing Ba Fenghan first.
Ba Fenghan let out a cold snort. Nobody saw which move he was using, but his body suddenly flew upwards swiftly. His left hand drew the saber, his right hand pulled the sword, which exploded into two blade bursts, separately meeting the two boys’ attacks.
The two boys made a sound like a muffled thunder as the three figures swiftly met and just as swiftly separated.
Even with Ba Fenghan’s ability, due to the fact that he did not anticipate encountering two streams of qi, one cold and one hot, from the ‘Secret to Long Life’, especially because Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling knew how formidable he was and thus they went all-out in this first attack, he could not help suffering a hidden loss. As his body flew backwards over the salt sacks, he made an effort to land behind the pile, and seized that opportunity to neutralize the true qi invading his body.
Actually, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s condition was even worse.
The strength of the earthshaking reaction force from Ba Fenghan’s saber and sword was definitely could not be anticipated in advance. Like a sharp blade it penetrated the two boys’ body, so that they immediately suffered severe internal injury.
Although the clash only happened in an instant, there was simple no room for maneuver in this simple, no-fancy moves, head-on clash.
When Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well struck Ba Fenghan’s sword, he only felt that the opponent’s sword emitted two different streams of power, so that it was difficult for the opponent to pin down. Kou Zhong’s entire body received a thunderbolt strike, which jolted him backwards.
When Xu Ziling’s fists met the blade of the saber of the most formidable opponent in his life, in the split second just before the fist met the blade, the two combatants’ true qi had already clashed heavily against each other. To Xu Ziling’s shock, the enemy’s powerful qi continued to flow along the sword’s edge into his body like hot knife through butter, and he could barely dissolve this qi just before it invaded the arteries and veins around his heart. Immediately his blood and qi surged, he was unable to continue with the follow-up move, and was thrown backwards.
Just before the two boys landed heavily on the ground, like a ghost Fu Junyu floated over with the sword in her hand. The two boys knew that the moment they touched the ground was the critical moment between life and death, hence they swiftly rolled toward each other.
When the two crashed into each other, Fu Junyu’s sword has become sword screen that filled the air, hiding the sky and covering the earth, coming down to trap them.
But it never had any chance to hit the two boys.
Right the moment when the two bodies touched each other, their true qi immediately flowed from one body to the other. Not only it healed each other’s internal injury, it also strengthened each other’s true qi.
In the whole wide world, perhaps only these two boys were capable of doing this kind of incomparably fantastic healing tactics.
Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well soared into the sky, penetrating Fu Junyu’s sword net.
Taking the opportunity while Fu Junyu was impeded by Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling’s body shot up from the ground toward the opponent’s left side, and send out a palm strike across empty air.
Although Fu Junyu has already anticipated that the two boys still had strength to strike back, she did not think that they would be able to strike back at full force. In her shock, even though she managed to block Kou Zhong’s saber attack with ten-thousand jun [1 jun ~ 30 catties] thunderbolt force, she was caught off guard by Xu Ziling’s palm wind.
However, she was a martial art master after all. The instant before the palm wind reached her body, she suddenly changed direction midair and moved sideways. But still, the palm wind swept her and made her let out a stifled grunt, while she was thrown far away.
Ba Fenghan, who was on the other side of the salt pile, was actually more shocked than Fu Junyu, who had suffered injury. Having a superior eyesight, before the two boys even made their move, he had already seen the level of their skill, and was so sure that even they joined hands, they would still be not his match. Who would have thought that even after he was using two different stream of qi to attack the two boys, not only he was unable to injure the two boys, unexpectedly they still had enough strength to strike back with even more bold and powerful force? How could he not be shocked?
By this time he still has not been able to neutralize the two boys’ cold and hot qi completely, yet he knew that the current situation demanded immediate action. Therefore, forcing himself to raise his qi up, he soared high into the air.
The sword returned to its sheathe, the saber moved to his right hand, he swiftly charged toward Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, who had just emerged from the pile of salt.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Ba Xiong, please return!” While speaking, his hand did not hesitate at all, he raised his saber to parry.
Chapter 7 - Part 2
Meanwhile Xu Ziling swept toward Duan Yucheng and the others. Left and right he moved lightning fast to pat around on the four men’s body, the ropes binding them disintegrated into cun-long pieces, and their acupoints were unsealed at the same time.
Ba Fenghan, who was still in the air, saw all these and his scalp went numb.
It should be noted that he sealed the four men’s acupoints using his unique school’s technique; not only it was a high level technique in acupoints-sealing, he also spent considerable time to do that. Yet Xu Ziling was able to break his technique merely by brushing his hands. No wonder he was greatly shocked.
Actually, Xu Ziling did not understand any acupoint-sealing technique, he was simply sending his true qi into their bodies, and simply prompted natural circulation of their own qi through their meridians, and thus spontaneously breaking the unique skill that Ba Fenghan was immensely proud about.
In the meantime Duan Yucheng and the others heard Xu Ziling’s order; they hurriedly climbed down the pile of salt and ran away as fast as they could.
By this time continuous ringing was heard as Kou Zhong was blocking three of Ba Fenghan’s swift, fierce and unparalleled saber strikes.
Noticing how Kou Zhong was quite straining in taking Ba Fenghan’s attack from above and the danger seemed to be growing without restraint, Xu Ziling hastily charged from an angle; his two hands turned into a blur of fists filling the air, violently attacking Ba Fenghan.
After restoring her qi, Fu Junyu also charged forward with the sword in her hand.
Kou and Xu knew their situation was getting worse; if they let Fu Junyu took control of either one of them, the other one would be slaughtered by Ba Fenghan in under ten moves. Therefore, they immediately attacked Ba Fenghan together with everything they had.
Ba Fenghan knew very well that given a bit more time, he would be able to get these two under control; however, his true qi was depleted, plus the two boys’ hot and cold, two opposing true qi were very difficult to deal with. Therefore, helplessly he had to fly side ways to evade the attack.
The two boys did not dare to continue fighting; they halted their movements and immediately turned around to escape toward the Great River. Even if Bi Xuan, Ning Daoqi came personally, it would still be difficult for them to catch up with the two boys, who were already more than a dozen zhang away in such a short period of time.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling stuck out their heads from among the reefs littering the bank of the river, to see whether Ba Fenghan and Fu Junyu’s shadows have entered the darkness in the distant opposite bank downstream from where they were.
Xu Ziling stuck out his tongue and said, “That Fengzhi Han [rheumatism, see Book 4 Chapter 4] is probably more formidable than Old Die or Yuwen Huagu.”
Among the people they had encountered thus far, Du Fuwei and Yuwen Huaji were the ones with the highest martial art skill. Therefore, Xu Ziling was saying that among the martial art masters they encountered, Ba Fenghan was the most overpowering one.
With lingering fear, Kou Zhong said, “Have you forgotten Yang Xuyan? At least this time we are not injured. Do you reckon they might come back?”
“If I were them,” Xu Ziling replied, “I would find a hilltop where I could wait patiently. The moment we, two big melon heads, came back to retrieve our goods will be the moment we die in our beds at ripe old age!”
Immensely proud of himself, Kou Zhong said, “This is called ‘heroes usually agree’. Right now Fengshi Han and Yu Yi must be blowing their little noggin’s top in rage because of us; they would not let us off even if they had to die. Ha! If we can lure that pair of wild mandarin ducks [i.e. lovers] in a wild goose chase for several hundred li, won’t Xiao Duan [little Duan] and the others have plenty of time to deliver the goods?”
Knitting his brows, Xu Ziling said, “Whether we can outrun Fengshi Han or not, I dare not say. But we definitely cannot outrun Yu Yi; have you thought about it clearly?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Playing hide-and-seek is playing hide-and-seek, it is a different thing from competing qinggong with everything we have. Speaking about escaping skill, they are not our, Central Plains’ Two Dragons’ match.”
Xu Ziling’s childish heart was greatly aroused, he laughed and said, “Who approved our promotion from Yangzhou’s Two Dragons to Central Plains’ Two Dragons?”
While playing with the water, Kou Zhong laughed and said, “This is called ‘progress’. Right! We should meet Xiao Duan and the others. Where did we say we’ll meet?”
Xu Ziling replied, “Since this place is not far from Baling, we might as well go there to look for Su Jie, perhaps she’s been looking for us and could not find us.”
“Excellent plan!” Kou Zhong cried out, “We’ll find those four kids first and then we’ll think about it carefully. Come on!”
Finished speaking, the two boys dove into the water again.
The two boys ran swiftly long the river toward a comparatively higher elevation. Crouching on top of a large rock, they concentrated their attention to the lower reaches of the river.
“How come we have not seen anybody?” Kou Zhong wondered, “Could it be that we overestimated them? If we had known this, we might as well come with Xiao Duan and the others to deliver our precious cargo of salt.”
Xu Ziling frowned and said, “I have a very ominous feeling. They may have been winding around and wait for us ahead.”
Aghast, Kou Zhong abruptly turned his head around, and happened to see from the jungle ahead a flock of birds flew up because something startled them. Nudging Xu Ziling, he said in a low voice, “You are right. Now what should we do?”
Xu Ziling smiled lightly and said, “Now we circulate our breathing properly, preserving and nurturing our spirit, waiting until they cannot take it anymore and come out of their hiding, and then we’ll leave.”
With a wry smile Kou Zhong turned over to lie under the bushes, and then with a sigh of contentment he said, “I wonder how many stars are there in the sky?”
Copying him, Xu Ziling also pushed everything out of his mind as he lay down comfortably next to him. Staring at the magnificent vast night sky full of stars above, he said, “Everything before our eyes are so fantastic. Ever since the heavens and the earth existed, those stars also existed for eternity. Not only have they cycled continuously, but the unlimited changes also contain imperturbable physical law. If our martial art skill can imitate the stars, i.e. constancy is concealed inside the changes, will it also exist eternally?”
Kou Zhong was emotionally moved, “This logic is even deeper and more mysterious than the ‘moon in the well’. For the time being, let us call it ‘Star Transformation’. But how do we apply it to martial art?”
This moment Xu Ziling has completely forgotten about Ba Fenghan and Fu Junyu who were persistently hunting them. He said seriously, “Perhaps this is what Niang said about the principle of guarding only one thing. When we are fighting against people, there were thousand thoughts ten thousand considerations on how to achieve victory; there are too many variables, yet we still cannot truly grasp the subtle constant within the ten thousands variables. Therefore, from the beginning we failed to achieve the first-class level.”
Kou Zhong was shaken, “I understand now,” he said, “What you said about guarding only one thing is merely the mental cultivation [xin fa], just like the moon in the water well. In my opinion it is like what Yu Yi said about the Yijian principle [reminder: ‘yi’ here is the ancient name for Chinese chess]. The emptiness is the chessboard, the stars in the sky are the chess piece. Although the chess pieces move with countless permutation, they still have to follow certain immutable law. Therefore, as long as we can grasp this legal principle of obtaining victory, countless permutation will never leave each other, in the end we can still control the enemy to score a victory.”
Xu Ziling sat up and thought hard, “When we play chess, if in every step we can force the opponent not to have any option to react, we could gain control over the overall situation. But in facing Ba Fenghan, Yang Xuyan, Ol’ Die, that kind of martial art masters, we are practically on the receiving end of being forced not to have the ability to deal with it, and were forced to just counter every move; hence none of those changes or constants can be used.”
Kou Zhong also sat up straight; scratching his head, he said, “Honestly, the more I think, the more confused I am. But is it possible that the opposite is true, i.e. if we can grasp the opponent’s constant, it would be as if we know the layout of his chess pieces, won’t it be like ‘grasp it and the victory is assured’?”
Casting his gaze toward the distant jungle where Ba Fenghan, two people might be hiding, Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “When one is in a battle, he only knew how to defeat the enemy to save his own life; how could he grasp the constant change of the enemy? Unless he is able to transcend the chess movement …”
Speaking to this point, the two boys were shaken at the same time, and looked at each other’s eyes.
Kou Zhong spoke with trembling voice, “His granny’s Niang, I know the Yijian principle. First, we must understand the immutable law of the chessboard, just like the other day Yu Yi hacking and chopping randomly, seemingly without any principle, yet she was forcing me to respond constantly, totally powerless to take the initiative to strike back, just because she was one step ahead of me in grasping the several moves I was going to play next. Only if our martial art skill can reach this realm will we be able to feel that our skill has finally attain ‘the way’. But her cultivation is still too shallow, only after several moves, she was confused by my changes.”
If Fu Junyu knew that the remark she casually blurted has helped these two martial art talents in making an unmatched breakthrough, she would definitely regret it.
Gazing up at the stars above, Xu Ziling muttered to himself, “Yijian Method, Yijian Method!”
Kou Zhong groaned as if he was sighing, “It’s not Star Transformation, but Chess Transformation. No! Star Transformation is a bit better, a bit more mysterious. After this my ‘Moon in the Well’ ought to be called ‘Star Transformation Precious Saber’.”
Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “No! Your saber is still the ‘Moon in the Well’. You can’t have ‘three hearts two intention’ [i.e. wishy washy]. ‘Star Transformation’ is mine.”
“You can’t be serious!” Kou Zhong cried out, “Are you saying that you are going to carve the ‘Star Transformation’, two characters [xing bian] onto your hands? Which one are you going to call ‘Star Transformation’? Your left hand or your right hand? When you fight, are you going to warn your opponent to watch for your ‘Star Transformation’ hand? Ha …”
While Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong were doubling up in laughter, a warning signal suddenly went off in their hearts.
Ba Fenghan and Fu Junyu appeared about twenty zhang away to their left, and were fleeting over like a shooting star toward them.