Book 29 Chapter 1 – Eliminating Demonic Long Road
Suddenly Tuli roared like a beast, the Subduing Eagle Spear in his hands turned into millions of fantastic spear shadow. The spear moved in front of Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling; the man and the spear fused into one, leaping at an angle, rushing straight like a storm toward Zhu Yuyan on top of the wall.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s heart was filled with indescribable feeling.
This was the strategy of using lowest-class thoroughbred against the opponent’s top-class thoroughbred [see footnote Book 15 Chapter 10].
Although whoever stood on top of the wall had the dominant position of looking-down-from-above, but because the top of the wall was narrow, with space barely enough to stand, it was advantageous to attack but not to defend. To defend steadily without moving was even more difficult than difficult.
However, under present critical situation, as long as these three top Yin Gui Pai martial art masters were able to hold them one move or half a style, to prevent them from jumping over the wall, the martial art masters from Li Yuanji’s side would close in, and then they would be declared dead.
Among the people blocking the three men’s path, only Zhu Yuyan had the most superior martial art skill. Whoever wanted to break through this hurdle would definitely be knocked over the wall. By doing what he did, clearly Tuli was sacrificing himself to help Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, whose martial art skill clearly surpassed his, by using the weakest man to entangle ‘Yin Hou’ Zhu Yuyan, leaving Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling to deal with the weaker Pi Shouxuan and Bian Bufu, respectively. Perhaps they would then be able to crash through the barrier and break the siege in one move.
As long as they could cross over the wall, because Yin Gui Pai and the Li Clan only had enmity without any friendship, it might create a confusion where the enemy and us would be difficult to differentiate, which was greatly beneficial to their escape attempt, unlike the current situation where the Li Clan’s men were focusing all their strength only to attack the three.
Stirred by Tuli’s self-sacrifice, considering life or death as light and comradeship as heavy, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s will to fight soared to the heavens. For them, abandoning Tuli and leaving was absolutely an impossibility; they would rather fight and die together.
The instant Tuli’s feet left the ground, Kou Zhong shouted in low voice, “Old Yun’s secret.” After giving Xu Ziling this cryptic instruction, the two of them raised their arms and soared together, as if they were going to break the siege and beat the enemy from the outside of Pi Shouxuan and Bian Bufu, shooting over the top of the approximately-three-zhang-high wall.
As soon as Zhu Yuyan heard Kou Zhong’s low shout ‘Old Yun’s secret’, she already took note of it. Although she did not completely understand what Kou Zhong was suggesting, but as a grandmaster of a demonic school of this generation, her eyesight and her intelligence were superior. When she saw the two boys were raising their arms and using abstruse and odd shenfa, where the path appeared to be straight but was actually curving, she cried, ‘Not good!’ inwardly.
This moment Tuli’s Subduing Eagle Spear has already displayed the full power of ‘Long Juan Qiang Fa’ [tornado (lit. dragon roll) spear technique]; he completely disregarded his own safety and launched only both-sides-suffer kind of offensive moves. Even with her level of expertise, she still had to deal with it with all her strength; otherwise, if she was distracted, there was a good possibility that she would be forced off the wall by him.
All she could do was to shout tenderly, “Watch for flying-back technique!” Yet it was hard for her to free herself to help either Pi Shouxian or Bian Bufu.
‘Yin Hou’ Zhu Yuyan’s pair of gauzed sleeves suddenly swelled; intersecting and twisting like a wheel, the sleeves received Tuli’s rapidly shooting Subduing Eagle Spear in full force.
Hearing her order, Pi Shouxuan and Bian Bufu were startled; they saw that Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling clearly were rushing outward to break the siege, and this was the most brilliant tactic, because the two boys were forcing Pi and Bian, two men, to split up to intercept, how could they fly back toward Zhu Yuyan?
The demonic school people were accustomed to harm others for the benefit of self; in their heart, they really could not comprehend Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s refusal to abandon Tuli and leave.
When martial art masters vied against each other, one sliver of difference would mean a lot.
Pi Shouxian and Bian Bufu no longer had time to ponder over Zhu Yuyan’s warning. Furthermore, they did not believe that the opponent had the ability to fly back. The two men moved away from Zhu Yuyan at the same time to intercept the enemy with all their strength.
Bian Bufu produced two rings from inside his left and right sleeves, like a pair of silver discs chasing and dancing in the breeze – to meet Xu Ziling’s pair of changing-indeterminately palms. He had fought Xu Ziling several times, so he was in the best position to feel the opponent’s advancing-by-leaps-and-bounds martial art skill. The moment Xu Ziling’s feet left the ground to attack, he felt that this young opponent’s essence, qi, and spirit were already locked on him, brimming with once-released-no-return, perish-together-no-reserve desperate feel.
He did not know that this was the force out of Xu Ziling’s righteous indignation, which was stirred by Tuli’s action; he thought that Xu Ziling launched this kind of offensive to break the siege in order to protect his own little life. Bian Bufu could not help secretly retained a third of his power; on the surface he appeared to be meeting force with force, but actually he was using an exquisite technique to deflect and move the force, so that although the opponent had the power, it would be hard to release. No matter how great Xu Ziling’s progress was, it should not be a problem if he wanted to meet Xu Ziling’s three moves, two styles, without yielding a single cun.
Pi Shouxian’s copper flute producing sharp whistle splitting the air, he drew circles, one by one, above his head. With each circle, the amount of true qi amassed by the copper flute was increasing.
His two eyes were staring without blinking at the approaching momentum of Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well. If he could squarely hit the opponent’s treasured saber, he dared to guarantee that Kou Zhong would be swept away and sent back to the ground.
In term of martial arts, as the martial uncle, Pi Shouxian’s skill was actually more than a notch higher than Bian Bufu’s. Within their Sect, he was second only to Zhu Yuyan, Wanwan, and the green-out-of-the-blue Lin Shihong. Although Kou Zhong was overbearing, he still had full confidence that he would be able to defend his steady footing on top of the wall.
This moment the Yue Lan She was already engulfed in thick smokes and flames. When the fire started, originally it would not be difficult to extinguished, but because the battle between Kou Zhong and Li Yuanji’s, two sides rattled the people’s heart, and plus they thought that it was one of the sides who deliberately set this place on fire, everybody inside the complex was running for their life, striving to be the first and fearing to be the last, so that the fire intensity quickly got out of hand.
Li Yuanji, Mei Xun, Kang Qiaoli, Li Nantian, Qiu Tianjue, and Qin Wutong were the first to pursue; they rushed over through the window and the broken wall. Seeing some people intercepted Kou Zhong and the others, three great enemies, whom they hated to the bones, without caring who the other party was, they immediately pounced over behind the three men’s tail, hence the three suddenly fell into the situation where moving forward, they might completely without way out, moving backward, they would be hard-pressed by the pursuing troops.
The rest of the Li Clan’s troops and the Tujue martial art masters also gathered together under the courtyard wall, shouting and cheering.
Letting out a cold laugh, Zhu Yuyan finally decided to take the initiative to pounce down, with the intention of meeting Tuli’s attack midway, to force him back to the bottom of the wall, and then the instant she succeeded, she would help Bian Bufu, whose martial art skill was the weakest, to deal with Xu Ziling. As long as she could intercept Xu Ziling, even if Kou Zhong escaped, he would turn back to rescue his good brother. She no longer dared to treat these two kids lightly.
This was also the best strategy to cope with the two boys’ flying-back technique.
The instant her feet leaped off the top of the wall, from the roof of the western building came the sound something whizzing through the air, a clump of golden cloud, with hard-to-believe speed, flew in an arc from above going down in a wild attack toward her. Even with her level of martial art skill and self-cultivation, she was still caught off guard. This moment, all her styles and qi power were focused on Tuli’s Subduing Eagle Spear, which was attacking her from below at about a zhang and a half distance. To change her move to meet the enemy’s attack from above and below, two sides – before the golden cloud arrived was truly beyond her capability. The worst thing was that her feet already left the wall; she had no way to change direction.
Moreover, from his outward appearance, she recognized the man mounting the sneak attack from the sky was precisely the Western Tujue’s Teacher of the State, the Cloud Commander. Even in a fair one-on-one duel against him, she would still have to fight a hard fight, let alone under this kind of situation, where if she attended to one thing, she would lose sight of another.
Completely without any choice, Zhu Yuyan made prompt decision. Firmly pushing her qi downward, she returned to the top of the wall, and then the tip of her toes lightly tapping the wall, she floated away from the wall to evade.
Finally the unbreakable battle array on the top of the wall was breached, and the one retreating was the strongest person in the formation.
Upon seeing this, Pi Shouxuan and Bian Bufu were shocked, their fighting spirit took a big blow.
This moment Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s shenfa also showed some changes. They curved at an angle toward the spot where Zhu Yuyan was standing earlier, so that now they were attacking outward from the inside toward the two men. The exact moment Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well chopped Pi Shouxuan’s copper flute, and Xu Ziling’s two palms met Bian Bufu’s double rings, Tuli succeeded in reaching the top of the wall. Considering himself unexcelled in the world, he mightily roared, “Fight!”
Practically Pi Shouxuan and Bian Bufu did not know which one of them he was going to fight; moreover, Yun Shuai’s crescent moon blade was posing an incomparable threat from the air. Losing their will to fight, they somersaulted together, down from the top of the wall, and stepped on Zhu Yuyan’s trailing dust.
From high in the sky, Yun Shuai let out a long whistle; unexpectedly he changed direction in the air to cross over the wall, to attack toward Zhu Yuyan on the roof across the street. His lightness skill indeed worthy to be praised as unrivalled in the present age.
Yun Shuai’s voice was heard from above, “Garuda Army already entered the city, I’ll hold her off, three gentlemen quickly leave!”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had just reached the top of the wall, along the way they did not see even half pedestrian, but across the street they saw hundreds of men, who ought to be Yang Xing Hui warriors – rushing over. Hastily they signaled Tuli, together they attacked ‘Yun Yu Shuang Xiu’ Pi Shouxuan, who had just jumped down onto the street.
By the time the Yang Xing Hui men arrived, Pi Shouxuan was already under the three men’s attack that sweats were flowing down his back and he had to retreat in a sorry state.
Bian Bufu wanted to help, but he was obstructed by the men of his own side, who were crowding around the surrounding area.
Li Yuanji and the others jumped down the wall. Not knowing what has been happening inside, Yang Xing Hui men attacked without differentiating between the enemy and us so that the city was thrown into confused fighting, the situation was extremely chaotic.
Pi Shouxuan screamed. Finally his left shoulder was hit by Xu Ziling’s across-the-air palm chop, sending him flashing sideways, and thus in an instant the pressure on the three men was greatly reduced. Returning to their triangular formation, with Tuli’s Subduing Eagle Spear opening up a path, they killed their way toward the north end of the long road.
The battle was so intense that the sky fainted and the earth darkened, the moon and the stars turned pale.
With each move that the three released, someone would be either injured or dead, and fell to the ground. Under the rainbow-like-momentum they rapidly moved away from Li Yuanji’s side. Fighting hard and staking everything they had under the one-falls, the-next-follows enemy swarming toward them, they killed their way out, cutting a bloody path along the battlefield.
Yun Shuai and Zhu Yuyan were chasing each other toward the other side of the roof ridge; it was difficult to tell the actual situation.
Suddenly from the other end of the long street came the sound of battle cry; finally the Garuda Army arrived. Whenever they saw somebody, they would attack without any question, their momentum was like torrential rush. Immediately the Yang Xing Hui warriors were thrown into confusion; they scattered in four directions to escape.
In this soldiers-panicked-the-horses-were-in-chaos moment, Kou Zhong, three men no longer worried about either Yin Gui Pai or Yang Xing Hui; rather, they were worried about Li Yuanji and Kang Qiaoli’s powerful coalition armies. In the blink of an eye they seized the opportunity to break the heavy siege, and came to an intersection between the main street and a side street. But their legs have gone weak; the wear and tear to their true power was extremely great.
The sound of hoof beats suddenly arose, from the long street ahead more than a hundred riders were rushing over at full speed, the leader was awe-inspiringly the Garuda King Zhu Can. Just by looking at his momentum they knew that the overall situation has fallen under his control; the city of Nanyang has, once again, fallen into his hands.
The three cried inwardly, ‘Not good!’ While they were at a loss of whether they should escape to the left or flee to the right, a horse-drawn carriage rushed out wildly from the darkness to their left; the driver screamed, “Get on!”
The three focused their attention to look, unexpectedly it was Xie Xianting, who slipped away last night to look for Xiao Wan; how could they dare to hesitate? As a matter of fact, after the battle, not only all three of them were covered in wounds, their body was weary and their strength exhausted, they were approaching the lantern-with-dried-out-oil stage. Upon seeing him, they aroused their remaining strength to throw themselves onto the carriage, letting the four strong horses pulling the carriage to take them to the other end of the long street. The wind blowing over their ears was telling them that they were running away from the dangerous Zhu Can’s armored horses.
Upon seeing this, Li Yuanji and his men, who were originally chasing them, did not dare to show off; they also scattered away like birds and beasts.
Because the three men’s weight was entirely concentrated on one side of the carriage, the two wheels on the other side of the carriage were immediately lifted off the ground and the carriage was tilted in the direction. From the inside of the carriage came the sound of screaming woman.
This moment all three men had their legs dangling in the air, plus there was barely any strength left within their body; it was already difficult to exert their strength, let alone pushing the carriage back to its original position, which would require great strength. When very soon the carriage would be damaged and the people injured, they had a great idea; they all somersaulted to the carriage roof and used their own bodyweight to press the carriage down to the ground.
The wheel grinding the gravel on the street emitted a weird, ear-piercing, violent screech, before the carriage dangerously recovered its balance; once again everything was steady and stable as they continued dashing forward.
Wiping the cold sweats from their brows, the three looked back. They did not see any enemy pursuing them. Heaving a sigh of relief, they turned around and lay down on their back on the roof of the carriage.
The stars were still in the sky as before, but the human affairs in the city of Nanyang have been completely changed, how could the emotion in their hearts not stirred?
Right this moment the sound of fluttering sleeves splitting the air suddenly dropped from the sky. While the three were startled, a figure came down from the sky; surprisingly it was the Western Tujue’s Guoshi Yun Shuai.
This Persian martial art grandmaster accurately landed on the roof of the galloping-at-full-speed carriage; his feet touched the spot between Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, who were immediately sitting up. Upon contact, his legs were severely shaken, and he dropped down on his butts. ‘Wah!’ he spurted shocking-the-eye, astonishing-the-heart fresh blood, part of it dyed the rear half of carriage red, while the rest sprayed onto the street.
Aghast, Tuli looked around, to see whether Zhu Yuyan was pursuing behind. Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling busily helped Yun Shuai up.
His countenance paled, Yun Shuai spoke while gasping for breath, “That Yaofu is indeed formidable. I must immediately circulate my inner power to heal the injury. Zhu Can is entering the city from the north gate, you must flee out of the city before he seals off the south gate.”
Finished speaking, he sat cross-legged and closed his eyes.
Tuli quickly called out to Xie Xianting, “To the south gate!”
Xie Xianting shouted his acknowledgement, he roused himself and urged the horses; the carriage immediately jumped and turned to enter a small alley on the left, nearly throwing the four men on the roof off the carriage.
In the distance they saw the blaze from Yue Lan She was still soaring to the sky, a column of thick smoke was still filling the night sky, obstructing the radiance of the moon and the stars, seemingly foretelling the bleak future of this beautiful, prosperous metropolitan city.
Most of the inhabitants of the city were still sleeping peacefully; they did not know that Nanyang has changed its ruler. By the time they woke up the next day, it would be a different situation altogether.
Xu Ziling’s heart was filled with sorrow; he turned to look at Kou Zhong, and noticed that he was also staring blankly at the blaze and thick smoke in the distance, while mumbling to himself, “One day, I will chase Zhu Can out of here once more.”
The rapid hoofbeats shattered the tranquility of the long street.
Perhaps it was because these past couple of days the residents of Nanyang have been accustomed to see the fight and vendetta between the gangs and societies, or perhaps they were afraid to invite disaster onto themselves, but all doors and windows were tightly closed, unexpectedly no one even took a peek to see what’s going on outside.
The carriage entered the main street leading to the south gate. The empty long street was as quiet as an imaginary dreamland, so that it was hard to comprehend that the rapacious and savage Garuda Army has really entered the city, and was just carrying out ruthless massacre toward the opposing power.
Kou Zhong flipped over to sit by Xie Xianting’s side. Pointing to the carriage behind them, he said in low voice, “Your Miss Xiao Wan?”
Xie Xianting slightly nodded his head, and then two big teardrops rolled down his face; choked with emotion, he asked, “Are they dead?”
Kou Zhong’s heart ached; sighing, he said, “In the end, all mortals will die, it’s just a question of early or late, sooner or later. But if it is any consolation, I can tell you that your honorable master, Ying Xiong, Xia Shimei, as well as a dozen of your fellow martial brothers were able to flee in time; they ought to arrive safely at Hannan by now. Xianting could go to Hannan to meet with them.”
Xie Xianting was overjoyed beyond his expectations; he raised his sleeve to wipe his tears.
Understanding that this was not the time to wallow in grief, he roused his spirit and continue to urge the horses to run faster.
Tuli, who was lying face down on the roof, craned his neck and asked, “The fire at Yue Lan She, was it you?”
Still whimpering slightly, Xie Xianting replied, “I have been hiding inside Xiao Wan’s room, seeing you being surrounded by Li Yuanji’s men, in my anxiety I had no choice but to set the place on fire to facilitate your escape.”
And then he asked in heavy voice, “Did they do it?”
Although the question did not seem to have either head or tail, Kou Zhong understood him very well. He replied, “When you see your honorable master, you can ask clearly what happened last night. Now, you don’t need to think about anything else. Even if you don’t care about yourself, you ought to think about Miss Xiao Wan.”
Hot tears started to flow down Xie Xianting’s face again; evidently he blamed himself and was having deep remorse for being unable to fight life and death battle with his fellow martial brothers.
The south gate appeared at the end of the main street ahead; it was dark with neither lantern nor fire, the men guarding the gate seemed to have fled until not a single one remained.
Xie Xianting reined the horses to slow down the carriage; they slowly entered the dark, six-zhang long gateway.
The wind suddenly arose.
Even before they entered the gateway, Xu Ziling, who had the fastest reaction, had already felt warning sign in his heart. It was a difficult-to-explain feeling; it seemed to be there, but also felt not there, even when he focused his attention to look around, he did not see anything unusual. Therefore, although he was on guard, he did not warn Kou Zhong and Tuli.
The sneak attack came from the dark spot behind them. Instantly Xu Ziling thought that the opponent must have been waiting to ambush on top of the more-than-twenty-zhang-high city wall, so that he has had the opportunity to watch their situation clearly, and then the moment the carriage galloped into the gateway, he noiselessly slipped along the wall and then from the top of the gateway he slid to launch the strike from a higher elevation looking down.
Just by looking at this kind of skill, both in terms of internal energy and shenfa, the attacker was not inferior to Zhu Yuyan, but Xu Ziling was certain that the opponent was not Zhu Yuyan.
In total darkness, the attacker sent out a double-palm strike pressing down on Xu Ziling’s head. But Xu Ziling’s intuition was telling him that the real target of the attacker was not him, but Yun Shuai, whose process of circulating his energy has reached a critical point. The most difficult thing to understand was that this double-palm strike was really too easy to block.
Based on Xu Ziling’s current skill, even if it were Ning Daoqi himself came, he had full confidence that he would be able to meet the opponent’s strike head-on. And as long as he was able to buy a little bit of time, when Kou Zhong and Tuli came to his aid, even if the attacker was as formidable as Ning Daoqi, he would have to retreat without continuing his strike.
In the blink of an eye Xu Ziling’s mind was churning at the speed of light thinking about countless possibilities.
‘Bang!’ Four palms collided.
In shock, Xu Ziling discovered that the energy paths of the opponent’s left and right palms were entirely different. Not only there were differences between hard and soft, hot and cold, but when the hard and hot was sent out, it became extremely yin and soft. The worst thing was that while the hard and hot right palm was powerful, wild and violent like the raging tide and huge wave, pouring down in torrents in violent attack, the left palm’s yin and soft, cold energy was producing irresistible sucking force.
If he was dealing with only one kind of energy, even if Xu Ziling did not have enough power, he would find a way to deal with it. But now that he suddenly encountered two different energy streams attacking him from the same person, he felt like his entire body was being ripped apart while he was still alive. Immediately the meridians in his entire body felt like they were about to burst, it felt cold and hot at the same time; the cavity in his entire body was full of true qi, yet he did not know how to release it.
Such martial art skill was truly startling-the-heaven-moving-the-earth; it was extremely shocking.
Xu Ziling could only secretly perform the Motionless Fundamental Image. Both feet tightly nailed to the roof of the carriage, he resisted with all his might, unwilling to yield to the death.
The attacker rapidly went down. With both feet he kicked the pit of Xu Ziling’s stomach.
Xu Ziling did not expect the opponent would still have leftover energy to launch such a severely fierce move meant to take his life. In this emergency, he thought fast. Taking advantage of the movement of the positive and negative energy within his body, both feet pressed down, he bent his body backward. Not only he dangerously avoided the enemy’s kick, he also pushed the opponent away from the roof of the carriage.
This move was obviously beyond the attacker’s expectation. He could never think that under his tremendous power pressing down on him, unexpectedly Xu Ziling was able to carry out such an extremely brilliant move to counter his continuously strange moves. Letting out a cold snort, he pushed his right palm forward, and pulled his left palm back.
Xu Ziling felt like his whole body was mercilessly twisted; all his five viscera and six bowels were injured at the same time, his throat tasted sweet. But in that same moment he had an idea; abruptly spurting out his blood, he aimed the violent spray toward the person’s head and face.
The energy streams in the man’s two palms immediately changed. Appearing as easy as blowing off dust, he deflected Xu Ziling’s flying upward blood attack, and thus dangerously evaded the full-of-qi-power blood spray.
The speed of his reaction was indeed beyond everybody’s expectation.
‘Swish! Swish!’ Tuli’s Subduing Eagle Spear promptly arrived, stopping the opponent from continuing his killer move to take Xu Ziling’s life.
At the same time, Kou Zhong rushed over; just before Xu Ziling’s back crashed onto the wall above the gateway, he caught him and immediately injected his true qi into Xu Ziling’s body to help him healing his injury.
As they were falling back to the ground, Kou Zhong thundered, “Xianting, go! If you wait, it will be too late!”
The whip rose and swiftly came down, it heavily lashed the horses’ buttocks. The horses neighed, the wheels squeaked, the carriage rushed violently, it dashed out of the city gate.
And then it rapidly disappeared into the distance.