Book 29 Chapter 12 – Break the Siege and Leave
Xu Ziling stood inside the Hall of Great Strength, facing the big incense burner tripod in front of the Hall’s main gate and under the stone steps, and the main gate beyond the courtyard.
It was a close distance of merely several-hundred paces, yet it represented the fate of his life, whether it would be long or short. If he could not cross over the doorstep of the outer courtyard gate, he would join the rank of prisoner.
It was not that he approved Kou Zhong’s great ambition of contending for hegemony over the world, but he simply could not let anybody, including the representatives of righteous way like Shi Feixuan, Liao Kong, or these Buddhist Four Holy Monks – do this to make Kou Zhong’s great undertaking to meet such a dismal end, and furthermore, to reduce him to the rank of a prisoner.
Because of his choice, the hard battle was going to unfold this moment. Something that was imposed on others, he simply could not accept. At the end, in everything that he and Kou Zhong ever did, they would look into their heart, and would find no shame in it.
Under these circumstances, where all the outstanding heroes in the world were contending against each other, everyone could pursue his own dream. Since Kou Zhong believed that he was more qualified to be a good emperor than Li Shimin, who came from honorable school and big clan, naturally he had the right to make the attempt and spend great effort on it. Not to mention the House of Tang’s crown prince was Li Jiancheng, and not Li Shimin at all. Who would dare to guarantee that Li Shimin would not be defeated in the internal struggle between the factions in his own house?
Therefore, Shi Feixuan and the several holy monks’ persuasion could not shake this conviction the slightest bit. Otherwise, this battle did not need to happen.
If this was a decisive battle between life and death, then he practically did not have any chance. But if he wholeheartedly wanted to escape, while the opposite side’s aspiration was only to capture him alive, naturally it would be a different matter altogether.
Taking a deep breath, Xu Ziling suddenly flashed out of the Hall’s main gate. Like a clump of flower in front of his eyes, a pair of huge palms pushed directly toward his face. It did not seem to have any fancy style, so much so that it did not carry the least bit of gust of wind of any qi power. But Xu Ziling knew that the opponent has reached the highly-skilled-appearing-as-clumsy realm; no matter how he dodged or retreated, he would still be unable to escape the enveloping Buddha palm.
Secretly performing the Great Vajra Chakra Image, both palms struck out to meet the attack.
Four palms collided head-on.
The one sending out the palms to intercept was precisely Zhihui Dashi, with nearly a hundred years of Buddhist orthodox school’s mysterious power like the water of Chang Jiang or Great River [i.e. Yellow River] pouring down in torrents. To his shock, however, the opponent’s palms were empty, fluttering, without any strength at all. Even with Zhihui Dashi’s like-an-ancient-well-with-no-ripple mental state, he could not help being startled and pulled some of his force back, for fear that he might shock Xu Ziling to his death.
Xu Ziling’s palms floated backwards like a kite with cut string, all the way to the end of the stone steps, as if he was going back to where he started. But as he was falling back into the Hall, Xu Ziling suddenly change direction; he abruptly flew upward and safely landed on the wide roof of the Hall of Great Strength.
Such battle outcome was certainly beyond Zhihui Dashi’s expectation. The strategy that he and Daoxin Dashi have agreed upon was that they wanted to keep Xu Ziling from leaving the Hall of Great Strength; they wanted to compete against this young martial art master in endurance and patience, until his will to fight exhausted and he raised his hands in surrender.
Actually, even Xu Ziling himself was surprised by this outcome. He originally wanted to exploit the Buddhist orthodox school’s xinfa, which came from common origin but different than his own, to borrow a little bit of true power from Zhihui Dashi’s pair of palms, and then relying on the positive and negative qi power in his body engendering each other, in the shenfa where he would be able to rapidly change direction while flying high in the sky, to abruptly break away from the other side’s interception, and then to steal away.
Who would have thought that Zhihui Dashi’s palm power has attained the head-and-tail-linked-together, perfect-without-any-flaw level, so that unexpectedly he could not borrow anything? While crying, ‘Bad!’ inwardly, a forceful true qi penetrated his palm and burst into his body, forcing his own true qi to turn back. The moment he thought his little life could not be protected, Xu Ziling’s mind flashed at the speed of light; not only he abandoned his defense, he even guided the opponent’s true qi invading his body toward the yongquan [gushing spring] acupoints on the soles of his left and right feet to discharge it and slip it through his meridians, which had been transformed by the Jade Annulus of He Clan.
Zhihui Dashi withdrew most of his qi power, only this palm push was enough to make Xu Ziling vomited blood and die.
However, it was actually a profit in disaster; the invading true qi flowing in opposite direction threaded together his meridians, big and small, and before it was discharged, Xu Ziling continuously absorbed and dissolved it, so that by the time it shot out of the yongquan acupoint, it fiercely hit the ground, changing his direction from tumbling backward to shooting vertically upward until he reached the roof of the Hall.
Setting foot on the roof slope, Xu Ziling cried inwardly, ‘How dangerous!’ Only now did he gain real knowledge of Zhihui Dashi’s martial art skill, knowing that if he did not use any trick, he could forget about recovering his freedom.
“Ziling is indeed outstanding!”
Stepping aside, Xu Ziling turned around to take a glance, and saw Chanzong Sizu Daoxin Dashi, looking exactly like the big-bellied Milefo [Buddha Maitreya] – leisurely sending him a kick, as if he was coming to play with him, with a giggling-happily-without-restraint expression on his face.
All of a sudden, Xu Ziling’s mind was completely attracted by this kick that he forgot that this was very late at night, with the moon coming right onto his face, and the place where they fought a hand-to-hand battle was on the roof of the Hall of Great Strength.
Kou Zhong was hiding in a dark alley, watching for any movement in the courtyard house across the street. Half a day earlier Rong Jiaojiao jumped over the wall and entered in, so obviously this was the Yin Gui Pai demons’ hiding place. Just like the ‘Demonic Commander’ Zhao Deyan said, he had inflicted serious damage on Pi Chen, dealing a grave blow to demonic school’s two groups of men and horses, headed by Zhao Deyan and Zhu Yuyan, respectively.
Pi Chen, using Rong Fengxiang identity, gained control over Luo Shui Bang, and thus the entire northern area was enveloped by his influence. Rong Jiaojiao might act on her father’s behalf to have the power in her palms, but in term of reputation, she was far below Pi Chen. If henceforth the Luo Shui Bang fell into disunity, to Kou Zhong, it would be the most ideal.
It was not impossible at all; at least Wang Shichong would not simply lie on his couch to letting another power encroaching into his sphere of influence, left and right – to exist.
The sound of fluttering sleeves came from across the street.
Under Kou Zhong’s blank stare, more than a dozen figures, including Wanwan, Pi Shouxuan, Xia Zhanglao [elder], Bian Bufu, Wen Caiting, Rong Jiaojiao, led by Zhu Yuyan, left the big residence at full speed, leaping from roof to roof, in southwesterly direction.
Kou Zhong cried out, ‘Not good!’ and immediately rushed over to Fu Qian’s residence. His only hope was that he could arrive before they did, and tell Fu Qian and his men to hide one step ahead.
This time Zhu Yuyan must be really angry.
Although Xu Ziling has fought first-rate martial art masters like Zhu Yuyan and Shi Zhixuan, but presently, facing Daoxin Dashi’s seemingly mediocre, nothing-special kick, he still felt big headache.
The worst thing was that the momentum and column of force this kick produced was generating a huge, matchless pressure, completely enveloping his senses; even his skin felt like it was pricked with needles, so that he lost his usual acute spirit.
While he was unable to move a single cun, Daoxin Dashi’s kick suddenly increased its speed, aiming at the vital point, the ocean of qi, on his lower abdomen.
Although Xu Ziling’s body felt like it was under pressure of ten-thousand-catty rock, his lingtai acupoint [on the top of he head] was still clear and bright. Immediately he pushed downward with both palms.
Meeting the kick, Xu Ziling rose up at an angle. Inside the Hall below, Zhihui Dashi also flew upward like a shadow attached to the figure, both hands opened with palms facing up, a burst of column of qi immediately shot straight toward Xu Ziling’s back. If he was hit, Xu Ziling would lose any power to withstand.
Xu Ziling cried inwardly, ‘How dangerous!’ Ever since his debut, even he himself could not remember how many times he was under siege. In this aspect, he had ample experience. Therefore, when he blocked Daoxin Dashi’s kick just now, he relied mainly on deflecting the attack, while taking the opportunity to extricate himself from this Dhyana school’s holy monk’s terrifying qi power field.
This moment, the best way to evade would be to swiftly change direction, which would ensure that he would be able to evade Zhihui Dashi’s fierce and severe qi power; however, by doing that, he would reveal the capital that he kept hidden at the bottom of his chest. If the opponent had guarded against it, it would be difficult to repeat the same trick.
Xu Ziling let out a long whistle and somersaulted in the sky, so that his head was down and his feet up, while performing the No Fear Image, and then his palm turned into a fist, with all his strength he delivered a heavy blow on the sharp point of the pillar of qi released by Zhihui Dashi.
Qi power splashed in all directions.
Xu Ziling spurted a mouthful of blood, while his body was continuously rolling hard into the air nearly ten zhang above the roof of the Hall.
Zhihui Dashi called one of the many names of Buddha in low voice, while leaping down to the ground and landed by Daoxin Dashi’s side.
In their hearts, both men knew that this battle was nearing its end, simply because no matter how formidable Xu Ziling was, in the end, there was quite a distance between his power and Zhihui Dashi’s nearly two jiazi [a jiazi is a sixty-year cycle] power. His injury was too heavy, perhaps without ten days or half a month, it would be difficult for him to recover; momentarily he would not have any strength to continue the battle.
Daoxin Dashi called out, “Sin! Sin! Things have come to this, Ziling must not have any grudge and blame in your heart for coming in contact with the demonic way.”
Nevertheless, Xu Ziling, who had reached the highest point and was about to fall back down, was delighted inwardly. Beyond his expectation, the two monks were standing side by side, which was actually greatly advantageous to his escape attempt.
If just now the two of them made their move against him together, his situation would even be more dangerous.
Fortunately, they conducted themselves with dignity, fitting to their status, and only taking turn in attacking him, hence the situation evolved into giving him advantages instead.
As early as when he was rolling up, he already used the unique ability from the Secret to Long Life to heal his injury, so that it was substantially reduced, giving him enough power to steal away.
Zhihui Dashi hung down his head, his eyes looked on his heart, his palms put together; Daoxin Dashi gathered his strength, ready to catch Xu Ziling when he fell down.
Right this moment, Xu Ziling let out a long whistle, both fists struck down, while he was still three zhang in the air he attacked the two monks simultaneously.
Daoxin Dashi and Zhihui Dashi never expected that he still had strength enough to counterstrike. Not only that, it was even stronger than the power he displayed when they fought a moment ago. Left with no other choice, they both raised one palm each to meet Xu Ziling’s fist power head on. But since they were afraid that their power was still too strong, they only used a fraction of their strength.
Two explosions. Xu Ziling borrowed the impact force to fly backward in the direction of the courtyard gate.
Letting out a long laugh, he said, “Thank you very much for two Dashi’s instruction; Xu Ziling is leaving.”
Daoxin Dashi roared in laughter and said, “Ziling spoke too early!”
The two Great Holy Monks unleashed the skill hidden at the bottom of their chests; from the roof of the Hall they shot out. Just before Xu Ziling crossed over the courtyard gate; although starting later, they arrived earlier and caught up with him.
Daoxin Dashi’s left palm swiftly chopped down on Xu Ziling’s right shoulder. Both of Zhihui Dashi’s sleeves flew up, two palms shot out from inside the sleeves, fiercely grabbing across empty space, immediately creating a burst of suction force. If Xu Ziling blocked Daoxin’s attack, he could no longer be able to borrow the force to escape out of the courtyard gate.
Xu Ziling knew very well that success or failure would be decided in this instant; if he was forced to land, he would never be able to leave this Temple by relying on his own strength.
While the two Great Holy Monks found it hard to believe, Xu Ziling abruptly exchanged his true qi, the positive and negative true qi within his body flowing fantastically, he suddenly moved sideways. Instantly Daoxin Dashi’s palm chop hit the empty air.
Xu Ziling again let out a sudden roar, both palms pressed down to strike the ground. By borrowing this impact force, he somersaulted backward to break away from Zhihui Dashi’s pulling force.
By the time the two Great Holy Monks landed on the ground in shock, Xu Ziling already disappeared without a trace in the dark outside the courtyard gate.
Instead of being angry, Daoxin Dashi laughed to his heart’s content and said, “Hero out of the youth, Ziling please forgive Daoxin for not sending you off.”
Shi Feixuan and Liao Kong appeared behind the two monks; they both showed astonished, startled and admiring expression on their faces. Before this, who would have guessed that unexpectedly Xu Ziling had the ability to break the siege and leave?
As if nothing had happened, Shi Feixuan spoke indifferently, “Don’t forget past events, they can guide you in the future. Although this time we failed to retain Xu Ziling, it actually brings benefit to our plan without any harm; at least we can make a more accurate estimate of their strength.”
Kou Zhong was crouching on the roof ridge on the other side, craning his neck to look; he saw that for some reason Zhu Yuyan and the other stopped on the roof of a large building about twenty zhang away.
At this moment, the contradiction in his heart was excruciatingly painful; he wanted to seize this opportunity to rush ahead of them, but he also wanted to know why they had stopped.
Someone was calling one of the many names of Buddha. From the roof slope opposite to where Zhu Yuyan and the others were standing, an old monk appeared. He was holding a Buddhist staff in his hand, his bearing natural and elegant, his build tall and sturdy, bold and powerful, his eyebrows were completely white. Greeting with one palm in front of his chest, he said, “Zhu Hou [empress] is in a haste, I wonder where you are hurrying to?”
Letting out a cold laugh, Zhu Yuyan said, “Turns out it is Huayanzong’s Dixin Zunzhe. I wonder if you are being overcome by a presumptuous heart and coming here to meddle with our Yin Gui Pai’s affair?”
Inwardly, Kou Zhong shivered greatly, thinking that turned out it was one of the Four Great Holy Monks; no wonder he did not show the slightest fear of Yin Gui Pai’s many men, a great force. Presumably the other three Great Holy Monks were hiding nearby to give him support; perhaps Shi Xianzi [fairy] was also nearby.
Thinking to this point, the hair on his back stood on its end. He quietly flipped over the roof ridge to hide in the dark alley.
Dixin Zunzhe gently said, “If you have the heart to forge ahead vigorously, then acting presumptuously is not forging ahead vigorously at all. If you control your heart from acting presumptuously, then your forging ahead vigorously will have no bound. How could Pinseng [impoverished monk] dare to randomly have a presumptuous heart? I merely saw the flaring murderous intent on Zhu Hou’s expression, which seems like you are about to open wide the monastic discipline against killing, so I remembered the innocence of all living things, and have come with specific purpose in mind to implore you.”
Zhu Yuyan snorted coldly and said, “The people I am going to deal with can’t possibly be innocent. If Zunzhe is unwilling to make way, don’t blame this Empress for opening wide the monastic discipline against killing for real.”
Dixin Zunzhe smiled calmly and said, “There is new moon, there’s also full moon. Human’s heart will not be filled with time. The sea of bitterness has no bounds, turn your head to see the shore. When will Zhu Hou understand that although you are seeking a thousand times, searching ten thousand times, but only this one thing is real?”
Zhu Yuyan let out a sharp-and-clear-like-silver-bell tender laughter; she said, “From the four monks of Buddhist school, Sanlunzong’s Jiaxing Dashi’s Ku Chan Xuan Gong [lit. Withered Dhyana Mysterious Skill/Power] occupies the top position. Zunzhe’s Da Yuan Man Zhang Fa [lit. Great Full Circle (i.e. perfection) Staff Technique] is next. Only then will we speak about Daoxin Dashi’s Damo Shou [Dharma Hand] and Zhihui Dashi’s Xin Fo Zhang [Heart of Buddha Palm]. Yuyan is fortunate to have this good opportunity tonight to experience Buddhist school’s consummate skills.”
Dixin Zunzhe chanted, “Shanzai! Shanzai! [lit. good/peace] Since Zhu Hou already has this refined and elegant attitude of mind, surely someone would be honored to keep you company.”
Astounded, Zhu Yuyan said, “Turns out Zunzhe wholeheartedly came to pick a quarrel, yet you still say you don’t have presumptuous heart? Who is actually coming here?”
She had not finished speaking, a burst of clear and melodious flute sound [orig. xiao, vertical end-blown flute] was coming from a distance. It was just a few notes, yet it appeared to touch the people’s emotion endlessly, creating enchanting, mysterious and unusual imagery; compared to Shi Qingxuan’s flute skill, which was considered the top in the world, it was not inferior in any respect.
The flute suddenly stopped.
But the sound still lingered on in the air.
Kou Zhong, who was in hiding, was greatly surprised; could it be that among the other three monks, there was one master in playing the flute?
Contrary to Kou Zhong’s expectation, Zhu Yuyan said, “Turns out it is Ning Dao Xiong [brother Taoist] honoring us with his presence. Hereby the matter tonight is dropped.”
While Kou Zhong’s scalp was going numb, Zhu Yuyan and the others hurriedly left.
Kou Zhong waited for another half a day until he was certain that Dixin Zunzhe and Ning Daoqi have also left, before he dared to quietly slip away, while crying ‘How dangerous!’ inwardly.