Chapter 8 – Initial Estimate Difficult to Accomplish
Book 23 Chapter 8 – Initial Estimate Difficult to Accomplish
You Niaojuan swept his gaze around, and then with a loud laughter he walked over toward Xu Ziling; bizarre expression flashed through his eyes as he spoke softly, “This renxiong looks quite handsome!”
Hearing that, the hair on Xu Ziling’s entire body stood on its end; You Niaojuan’s manner and intonation was brimming with some kind of excitement, cruelty, and perversion, as if he was hinting that since I come across you – this interesting plaything, here, why can’t I gorge myself, and do whatever I please?
Fortunately, Xu Ziling knew how to distinguish condition from hearing voices, so he knew that You Niaojuan’s serious injury was only recovered sixty or seventy-percent; otherwise, Xu Ziling would have no chance at all, even if he staked everything he had. But presently he had at least some chance to attempt escape or even to commit suicide, to avoid falling into this great evil’s hands, in which case living was not better than dying.
Turning around, Xu Ziling’s eyes shot a fierce and stern expression. Not showing any fear at all, he met the opponent’s gaze, blurted out laughing, and said, “Lao Xiong [ol’ bro], what’s your honorable surname and great given name? Since you dare to travel alone on this dangerous path, you must not be any ordinary person, but I wonder a friend of which ‘way’ are you?”
You Niaojuan’s eyes showed a skeptical look; sizing Xu Ziling up and down, he noticed that Xu Ziling was not well. Immensely proud of himself, he said, “Xiao Xiongdi [li’l bro] talks like a seasoned veteran; you seem to understand Jianghu way, your martial art skill must be not bad. How about this: if you can guess my name and my origin, I will make an exception and let you off.”
Pretending to be surprised, Xu Ziling said, “You and I have no past grudge, and currently have no enmity, how could you not let me off? But to guess who you are is not difficult at all. It’s just that I see you are not the kind of a man who speak and keep your promise. Even if I guess correctly, you would still want to fight to dispose of me; why should I rack my brain to guess it?”
Astonished, You Niaojuan looked at him for half a day; finally he shook his head and said with a laugh, “You are indeed a kid who don’t know the immensity of heaven and earth. Just by looking at your eyes, I knew that you have limited weight [i.e. importance]. How about this: you guess who I am, and you block three moves from me. If you could do any one of those two, I guarantee that I will let you off. Ha! Fascinating handsome boy.” Unexpectedly he put an air of a wicked cat playing with a mouse.
Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “How much does your guarantee worth per catty? Unless you are willing to make a vow according to your school’s incantation, I will not believe you.”
You Niaojuan’s entire body, from head to foot, shook. Taking a step backward, his eyes shone with ominous glint, he spoke sternly, “Who are you?”
His heart moved, Xu Ziling said, “Who am I, it’s not your concern; if you want to fight, let’s fight. This Shaoye [young master] don’t have time to bicker with you endlessly, not to mention I don’t have the mood to do so.”
You Niaojuan laughed grimly; his laughter started soft, but was getting louder, until at last he was howling with laughter. A laughter that was full of insanity and frightening insinuation. Moreover, the wrinkles on his face rippled back and forth, so that he looked extremely ugly.
Suddenly Xu Ziling sent out a palm chop, slicing the air between the two.
You Niaojuan’s laughter vanished; he took a step backward in shock, and stared blankly at Xu Ziling with disbelief in his eyes.
Originally he was about to make his move, but Xu Ziling seemed to have the ability to predict the future; his palm chop happened to be one step ahead in cutting off the path of his intended move, naturally he was gob smacked in amazement.
But Xu Ziling felt his qi and blood were churning inside his body, he nearly vomited blood. He started to realize that his internal injury was more serious than he thought; raising his qi to walk away was not a problem, but if he had to fight You Niaojuan, this vicious demon of the present age, perhaps he would have collapsed in less than three moves.
You Niaojuan was a veteran, immediately he saw the signs. Stunned, he said, “Turns out you are suffering from internal injury. No wonder your move is so brilliant, but your eyes are dim and lifeless; even I failed to see it previously.”
Struggling hard to keep his boiling blood and qi under control, Xu Ziling sneered and said, “No better or worse than each other; just by listening to your voice, I know that you, Lao Xiong, are also suffering from internal injuries. Let us stake everything together until our internal injuries burst forth; let’s see who’d die first.”
You Niaojuan was about to make his move, unexpectedly Xu Ziling laughed aloud, and took half a step sideways toward the edge of the plank walkway.
You Niaojuan could not stop the amazement in his heart. Greatly puzzled, as well as astonished, he said, “What martial art is this?”
Xu Ziling knew that You Niaojuan was starting to be alerted and was having misgivings. This one step move was the limit of what he currently could do. This changing position, plus the temporary upper hand he gained, coupled with one move he previously showed, were all ‘different tunes played with equal skill’, so that the opponent would not dare to take the risk by advancing prematurely.
In somewhat disdainful tone he said, “You Niaojuan, can you still be considered our demonic school man? You have not even seen ‘Immortal Printed Method’?”
For the first time that night You Niaojuan’s eyes showed fear; he stared without blinking at Xu Ziling, and spoke heavily, “Who is Shi Zhixuan to you?”
※ ※ ※
Kou Zhong soared to about four zhang above the water, while taking the whole scene of the battle on this section of the Great River at once.
His seven warships have all entered the river, cutting off Chen Sheng’s fleet into a dozen or so separate sections, of which at least twenty cargo ships were burning, although with different degree of severity of the disaster. These burning ships provided a very thick smoke, which was blowing downstream following the direction of the wind.
Other than his own ‘command ship’, which was hit and sunk by the enemy’s multi-deck ship, one other ship was also knocked by the enemy’s warship that it was overturned. The rest of his ships, under cover of darkness and the thick smoke, weaved left and right while wantonly attacking the enemy’s cargo ships.
About a dozen of Chen Sheng’s warships, including the command ship, which were already ahead, turned around urgently and sailed against the wind and against the current to counterattack, but they were trapped in the smoke in an instant.
By this time Kou Zhong was out of breath; abruptly taking another breath, he traversed sideways about a zhang in the air, and landed on the deck of the huge ship that smashed his ship over.
Immediately sabers, spears, hatchets, swords, and so on, more than a dozen weapons welcomed him.
Kou Zhong pulled back into the air, and leaped toward the deck of the second level. Using the spear technique, with at least twenty-percent resemblance of Gu Jun’s spear moves, he blocked the swarming enemies so that they fell forward and flipped backward, in full display of his prowess.
There was a sudden gust of wind.
Turned out Chen Changlin also followed him on board. With his authentic thick Jiangnan accent, he called loudly, “Gu Jiangjun, over here!”
Shouting his response, Kou Zhong soared and made several somersaults in the air and landed on the bow of the ship. Sweeping his long spear across, an explosive force followed, five or six enemies besieging Chen Changlin suddenly felt the palm of their hands were shaken and split. Immediately their weapons fell off, and they scattered in all directions.
Chen Changlin had just hacked down three enemy soldiers; while signaling Kou Zhong with his eyes, he soared away.
Kou Zhong looked back, and happened to see Chen Sheng’s command ship was only about three zhang to his left. Cheering inwardly, he quickly gave chase.
This could be his only chance to ambush Chen Sheng.
※ ※ ※
Letting out a cold snort, Xu Ziling said, “You don’t have to worry about that.”
The ominous glint in You Niaojuan’s eyes subsided; acting calm and collected, he said, “Even if you are Shi Zhixuan’s direct disciple, Ol’ You hasn’t stepped foot in Jianghu for twenty years, my appearance has changed a lot; how did you guess it was me?”
Xu Ziling shivered inwardly, thinking that these martial art masters of the demonic way, indeed not a single one was easy to deal with. Yet on the surface he adopted an apathetic and unmoving manner, as he spoke indifferently, “I don’t need to explain that even more. I just want to know, do you still want to fight?”
You Niaojuan laughed aloud and said, “Since you are ‘Xie Wang’ Shi Zhixuan’s disciple, how could Ol’ You dare to offend? Xiao Xiongdi, please.” With exaggerated movement he step aside as if asking a nobleman to take the lead.
Inwardly Xu Ziling felt something was really wrong; it looked like You Niaojuan could see through that he was a counterfeit article. Immediately coming to his senses, he examined himself and straightaway saw where he made the mistake. If he were a real Hua Jian Pai disciple, like Hou Xibai, for instance, how could he easily expose his own identity?
If he could think of the reason, naturally he could also find the solution. Thereupon Xu Ziling deliberately knitted his eyebrows and said, “You shouldn’t flaunt friendship for Shi Zhixuan’s sake, because he and I don’t have any relationship at all.”
You Niaojuan was stunned and confused at the same time.
He had intended to stake everything, even at the risk of aggravating his internal injury, to kill this strange young man who knew his identity. As long as nobody found out, he did not care if his Shifu was the King of Heaven himself.
Xu Ziling tried to urge his internal qi again. Unexpectedly he felt a burst of discomfort and irritation. In his shock he was terrified and came to realize that in his eagerness to save himself, he had violated the big taboo of ‘no-action’ of the ‘Secret to Long Life’ by doing ‘action’, the big taboo of ‘ten thousand thoughts are silent’ realm of the Taoist school of thought, hence he started to experience the first stage of fire-deviation. Focusing his attention at once, he looked up to the night sky.
You Niaojuan’s voice entered his ears, “If what you used just now was really ‘Immortal Print’ xinfa, yet you said that you have no relationship whatsoever with Shi Zhixuan, then this is really strange. I wonder if Xiao Xiongdi could explain it a bit.”
The sky was densely populated with dots of stars. On this dangerous path on the mountain, the night sky appeared even more clear and penetrating.
Xu Ziling spoke in great surprise, “Why does You Zongzhu [head of a clan/school] suddenly become so polite? I have always been receptive to softness and do not respond well to harshness, so I have no problem in revealing a little for you. But this is a matter of great importance; you must make an oath according to your school’s incantation to ensure that you won’t revealed it to the third party.”
You Niaojuan threw his head back in long laughter. Gasping for breath, he said, “What makes you, this kid whose smell of your mother’s milk has not yet dried, think that you can repeatedly ask me to make an oath? I only need to capture you, and then if I want to, you will call me Die [daddy].”
Xu Ziling laughed aloud and said, “What a joke. You think you can catch me as soon as you wish to do so? On your guard!”
Suddenly he moved forward, both hands opened horizontally, the two thumbs were pressing toward You Niaojuan’s eyes, while the other fingers moved up and down like a wave. The technique was strange beyond comprehension.
Immediately You Niaojuan’s countenance changed.
Although Xu Ziling’s strange move was beyond his depth, it was not the move that shocked him. The reason his countenance changed was because Xu Ziling’s appearance right now practically did not look like someone who suffered internal injury. The only explanation that he could think of was that Xu Ziling was putting on an act; after You Niaojuan lost his guard, Xu Ziling made his move at full strength to deal with him.
This thought led him to guess further that the opponent was deliberately waiting here to block his path and to challenge him, taking advantage while You Niaojuan has not recovered from his internal injury to take care of him. Otherwise, how did he know that he was You Niaojuan? Despite what he said, the other party must have some kind of relationship with Shi Zhixuan.
These thoughts flitted across You Niaojuan’s mind like a flint spark, which also led him to select the most proper course of action.
Letting out a strange cry, You Niaojuan flew backward like a ghost, and in an instant disappeared behind the bend on the plank walkway.
Xu Ziling could not hold it anymore; he spurted a small amount of blood, and slumped down to sit cross-legged.
A moment when he looked at the night sky, his mind was just like yesterday, when he was watching the waterfall, where ten-thousand changes joined together without any gap between them, so that he managed to blend together a little bit of true qi, which unexpectedly has scared off You Niaojuan, who had become like a bird startled by the mere twang of a bow. He was really extremely lucky.
He had not sat steadily, a pair of delicate lily-white hands was pressing on his broad shoulders, followed by Wanwan’s tender-and-soft-as-water voice speaking by his ear, “With me protecting you on the side, why must you urge your true qi?”
※ ※ ※
One after another Chen Changlin and Kou Zhong landed on the deck of Chen Sheng’s command ship, and were immediately trapped into a blood soaked and hard-fought struggle.
Chen Changlin was the first to reach the target command ship; he was like a demon falling down from the smoke and killing the archers standing on the bow looking for their target so that they fell to the east and tumbled to the west. He was just thinking of charging toward the bridge deck above when suddenly more than a dozen warriors in light armor surrounded him. Every one of them had unusually outstanding martial art skill. Although Chen Changlin himself was a Jianghu expert, immediately he found himself unable to move a single cun.
Fortunately Kou Zhong rushed over in time. Together they brandished their sword and spear, and only then did they snatch back the initiative. Not that they were forced back into the river, but their original plan to quickly look for Chen Sheng as soon as they landed on the ship became just a wishful thinking that came to nothing. More aggravating was that the fire on the burning enemy’s ships upstream was growing in intensity, wall after wall of thick smoke were blowing over following the tail wind; not only it was difficult to breathe, it was also difficult to see anything. Looking for one person among the disorderly army was easier said than done.
Kou Zhong no longer hid his strength; unleashing his prowess, he consecutively struck down four enemies. Yet the enemy was still increasing without letup; although the two of them gave it their all, they were still surrounded at the bow of the ship in endlessly hard battle.
Not too long afterwards many cuts and wounds already appeared on the two men’s bodies. They could only disregard everything in dealing with the perilous situation before their eyes, while at the same time feeling something was really wrong; how could Chen Sheng have this many superior martial art masters under his command?
At this time the number of enemies losing their lives under their sword and spear has reached to at least a dozen, but there were still layer upon layer of martial art masters around them, so that they were stuck in a hard battle.
Suddenly a familiar voice came from the direction of the upper deck of the ship, saying, “Boys, let me take a look who has such guts!”
While Kou Zhong was greatly shaken with horror, the enemies surrounding them followed the order by withdrawing to both sides. Chen Changlin still thought the newcomer was Chen Sheng; he seized the opportunity by rushing out of the opening.
While Kou Zhong was crying out ‘Bad!’, a fast shadow like a ghost swept over to meet Chen Changlin. At the same time, a thick smoke happened to roll by, swallowing Chen Changlin inside it.
Realizing their situation has turned from bad to worse, Kou Zhong charged through the enemies, who were pouncing back at him from left and right, using the absolute maximum speed he could muster, to fly toward Chen Changlin inside the thick smoke.
‘Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!’
A series of continuous ringing was heard, followed by Chen Changlin’s miserable groan. Kou Zhong ran into the staggering-backward Chen Changlin.
Kou Zhong realized that whether they could survive or not would depend purely on this moment. Moving quickly, he threw himself to crouch on the deck, his long spear shot up from under Chen Changlin’s crotch, and flew at an angle; like a streak of lightning it flew through the thick smoke to meet the terrifying enemy pursuing over, not worrying whether the opponent would be able to see him or not.
If the opponent could see him, he certainly could recognize Kou Zhong immediately, because the newcomer was the ‘Universe in His Sleeve’ Du Fuwei, whose name shook the world.
Who would have thought that he would be on board this ship?
This moment Kou Zhong did not have time to consider any grand plan, and could only think about how to escape with their lives intact.
Even with Du Fuwei’s brilliance, in this kind of thick smoke, he could only rely on his instinct to sense the spear leaving Kou Zhong’s hand in sneak attack; his sleeve swept, ‘Dang!’ he struck down the spear.
Although what Kou Zhong had used was not spiraling energy, the momentum was powerful. When striking down the spear, Du Fuwei felt his entire body shook, and he was forced to sway slightly backward. But this split second delay was enough to give Kou Zhong the golden opportunity to escape.
As soon as the spear left his hand, Kou Zhong grabbed Chen Changlin’s waist, and then, borrowing the momentum as he rolled around, he turned backward, just before the enemies were closing in, to cross over the approximately two-zhang distance. Midway through he soared into the air to evade the enemy’s interception, and then threw themselves into the river.
By the time they fell into the ice-cold water, even Kou Zhong himself was unable to tell whether the operation this time was a success or a failure; he could only surrender everything in Laotianye’s hands.
※ ※ ※
With a rueful smile Xu Ziling said, “How could there be such a coincidence?”
Wanwan’s entire tender body was leaning against his back, her arms snaked around his waist and abdomen like a tight hoop, as she was half kneeling behind him. She spoke softly, “I was chasing after You Niaojuan, and Feixuan is chasing after me. Whom are you chasing after?”
As early as when Wanwan touched his shoulders, Xu Ziling has been opening up his mind. Putting what little true qi he managed to amass on his dantian, he prepared himself for the worst, trying to see if he could break his own heart meridian to kill himself. As soon as he made up his mind, his heart was free of any obstruction instead. With peaceful heart and tranquil qi he said, “Whomever I chase after is none of your business. Are you willing to let me off?”
Wanwan’s pair of burning hot lily-white hands pressing on his lower abdomen emitted two streams of comfortably warm true qi, squeezing into the ocean of qi under his dantian, giving him a feeling of unspeakable comfort and drowsiness that made him wanting to sleep.
He heard her gentle and soft voice replying, “Of course I am not willing to let you off. Oh, Ziling! Do you know that in this world, you are the only man who can move my heart? Do you know what attracts me the most? Let Wanwan tell you, all right? I love to see your expression of contempt and disdain when you look at me; there has never been any man who looked at me with that kind of expression. Ay! Unexpectedly there is such an icily arrogant man like Xu Lang [term of endearment to address a husband or boyfriend] in the world. Your forehead is high and grand, as if there is infinite wisdom inside. Even when walking on main street and rubbing shoulders with a crowd of people, you are still standoffish, carrying that kind of melancholy and cold and detach nature like you are walking alone in the wilderness. But when you smile, you look so sincere. With this kind of special characters blended together, which woman will be able to resist you?”
When he heard that, on one hand Xu Ziling was dumbstruck, on the other hand he felt her true qi penetrating his lower abdomen was stirring up in him some kind of masculine desire.
Suddenly, his nostrils were assaulted by Wanwan’s captivating body scent; furthermore, he seemed to feel her every fiber, her curvaceous and wonderful, well-developed body, brimming with boundless seductive power, stirring up in him the strange feeling that was hidden deep within.
The worst was that what little true qi he had also disappeared without any trace, so that he became like a piece of meat on the chopping block, for her to manipulate however she wished.
When it comes to crafty plots and machinations, as well as using trick in a struggle, naturally he was not this Yin Gui Pai’s most outstanding direct disciple after Zhu Yuyan’s match.
Even if he still had all his strength, perhaps he would still fall head first under her hands, let alone he was completely without any power to resist just like right now.
Knitting his sword-shaped eyebrows, Xu Ziling said, “If you, Wanwan, stir up my lust using despicable method, I will look down upon you.”
Wanwan pressed her pretty face on his bloodless cheek; while nibbling his earlobe lightly, she spoke slowly, “Xu Lang must not misunderstood. Taoist school emphasizes training the essence and transforming the qi. I just want to examine the secret of your ‘Secret to Long Life’, hence I simply must explore your lower part. Can’t you just endure it for a bit longer?”
Because his qi was bounded, Xu Ziling was unable to do anything about it, hence he had to shut up.
At the same time, in his heart he was thinking about demonic schools’ people, who had no regard for other’s feeling and abandoned righteousness, who, with thousand ways, a hundred plans, prevented themselves to be aroused to passion toward anybody. Even when they wanted to bear and raise children, they would select the man they loathed the most to have intercourse; Zhu Yuyan choosing Yue Shan was one example.
Earlier Wanwan confessed to have fallen in love with him, therefore, she wanted to kill him.
Currently Wanwan has progressed from completely fake to be somewhat real, so much so that she poured out her deep feeling toward him, without any misgivings at all; therefore, there was a very high possibility that this was a prelude to her killing him.
Wanwan’s true qi continued to make strange things happen within his body. She said, “After resolving this matter with Xu Lang, Wanwan will run after You Niaojuan, taking advantage of his injury to kill him, and take him back as a sacrifice for Xu Lang’s soul and spirit [of the deceased]!”
While Xu Ziling was crying ‘I’m done for!’ inwardly, Wanwan suddenly exclaimed, “Huh?”, and withdrew her lily-white hands, while hiding behind him.
Stunned, Xu Ziling looked up. To his surprise, You Niaojuan came back.