Book 30 Chapter 3 – Hard to Differentiate Between Elder and Younger Brother
Naturally Kou Zhong did not dare to let Jiaxiang seized the initiative to launch full-strength attack; unleashing the ‘Sudden Strike’ of the ‘Eight Methods of the Well’, he pushed his momentum to its peak condition. The Moon in the Well turned into yellow light, like a shooting star it streaked across the space between Jiaxiang and him, swiftly threatening the pit of Jiaxiang’s stomach’s position.
The man and the saber became one, none of the spectators did not sense that the saber carried the shaking-the-mountain-peak, rocking-the-mountain momentum, without any fear of any head-on counterattack.
If it were any ordinary martial art master, before the blade even touched the body, he would have received serious injury from the saber power emitted by the blade, which was full of murderous aura. Yet Jiaxiang Dashi’s entire body stayed absolutely still; even the sleeves of his clothes did not flutter the slightest bit. Suddenly his withered right hand changed from upright position to extended horizontally, his body, basically like a pillar, swayed front and back, left and right. His right hand again swept across in front of his chest, the palm shape gradually changed, the thumb bent outward, the other fingers were closed together and stretched out. By the time the palm almost arrived, the thumb accurately pinched the blade of Kou Zhong’s attacking saber.
Daoxin cried out in low voice, “One Finger Zen, Shizhu, be careful!”
Watching this, Xu Ziling was speechless inwardly. Jiaxiang’s speed was the complete opposite of Kou Zhong’s rapid-like-sudden-clap-of-thunder; each movement was unhurried, so that the spectators could see everything clearly. Yet his ‘slow’ happened to control Kou Zhong’s ‘fast’. From this, it can be seen that his slow-moving action was simply some kind of speed illusion. Buddhist school’s mysterious skill was certainly universally shocking.
Kou Zhong was even more shocked. At first glance, his move ‘Sudden Strike’ was just a dominant offensive move; the formidability lay in its ability to display full power, using highly concentrated and rapid saber strength, using force to attack force. But the real profound principle was actually in its countless changes.
Yet Jiaxiang’s ‘One Finger Zen’ has attained the highly-skilled-without-labor level. He could only stare blankly when the blade was caught head-on, and completely could not budge. It felt as if the blade was chopping on refined steel wall.
Letting out a stifled groan, Kou Zhong swiftly retreated. This move established destroyed-the-sun-defeated-the-light time, which would be difficult to have any good scenery.
Lightning-fast, a stream of true qi flowed along the blade, penetrated Kou Zhong’s meridians.
Jiaxiang Dashi seized this opportunity to attack; his right hand swept from left to right, his left hand struck from bottom to top, he drew a ‘ten’ character [十] in the air.
Xu Ziling performed the Great Vajra Chakra Image, the fingers of both hands were bent toward the hollow of his palm, the thumbs of both hands met together, the middle fingers buckled backward, the index fingers twisted, he strode forward, together with the swiftly-retreating Kou Zhong they staggered back, and then he spun around. The carried over qi power violently shot out, just enough to counteract the pressure from Jiaxiang Dashi’s momentum. The point of the hand image accurately hit the center of the ‘ten’ character that Jiaxiang Dashi drew in front of his chest.
Qi power clashed. But it did not create any noise.
Jiaxiang Dashi recited in low voice, “Wither like a dry well, full like a vast body of water. Three realms and six ways, presented only by the mind.”
Xu Ziling’s tiger-body was severely shaken. When he made contact with Jiaxiang’s ‘ten’ character in the air, there was a feeling like throwing water into a well, which had been dry for nobody knows how many months and years. But when Jiaxiang recited in low voice, the dry well suddenly became the ocean, a vast body of water, which raging waves crashed onto the shore, or like a long dike collapsing, sending the water rushing violently toward him.
Facing this Buddhist school’s top skill, Xu Ziling was still as calm as before, his will was not affected at all. Two hands separated, he secretly carried out the deflecting force technique, transforming up to 40% the opponent’s attacking energy stream, before bending his waist backward. By the time he straightened up his waist, he sent out a punch.
Jiaxiang Dashi staggered slightly backward, but Xu Ziling was forcefully shocked three steps back.
Kou Zhong, however, did not dare to move. Turned out he suddenly felt that the other monks’ attention was focused on him. As soon as he showed slight difference in his movement, the moment he wanted to draw qi, he might immediately become the three monks’ all-out attack from all sides; he really must not rush indiscriminately into action. Without any choice, he could only stare blankly, quietly watching for any changes.
Jiaxiang Dashi’s drooping eyes suddenly looked up, revealing a pair of deep, hard-to-fathom, brimming with wisdom, holiness, and intelligent divine light. And then his grey monk robe sank down, pressing up against his body, accentuating his tall, straight, obstinately thin build. Suddenly a palm shot out.
His movement was like moving clouds and flowing water, or like antelope hanging its antler, implying mysterious principles.
Raising his voice, Dixin Zunzhe said, “Zhengyan Fa Zang.”
The spirited light in Xu Ziling’s pair of tiger-eyes flared out; he met Jiaxiang Dashi’s penetrating, able-to-bore-through-the-wall-and-penetrate-the-rampart gaze. He was well aware that although the opponent’s style appeared to be mediocre without anything strange, it was actually the excellence returning to truly plan and simple, the level where big clumsiness appeared in place of highly skillful martial art way. Like this palm strike, for example, no matter how he wanted to use any marvelous move or brilliant skill to counter it, in the end he could only meet the palm strike head-on.
The profound mystery within it was definitely no words could explain clearly.
Withered like a dry well, full like a vast body of water.
Withered palm, yet contained Buddhist’s enormous and profound true qi like the ocean.
Xu Ziling stood in place. A hint of smile escaped from the corner of his mouth. His right palm met the attack, and then the palm turned into a punch, the punch became a finger stab, pointing at the hollow of Jiaxiang Dashi’s palm.
Vortex of qi power broke into the palm and entered in; unexpectedly it grew and flowed swiftly without the slightest bit of resistance.
Instead of delighted, Xu Ziling was shocked. Jiaxiang’s dried up well suddenly became the ocean, a vast body of water overflowing with devastation, repelling the vortex of qi power and push it back.
Xu Ziling already knew that the opponent was this outstanding, still he did not expect the change to be this fast. He reversed the direction of the spiraling energy and pulled it back first, and then with all his might he changed the direction to swiftly block upward.
Xu Ziling’s handsome face turned white, he floated backward to escape. Like a shadow attached to a shape Jiaxiang pursued closely.
In his heart, Kou Zhong knew that this moment was the key to their victory or defeat. How could Jiaxiang Dashi’s close to a hundred years full-strength palm strike be a small matter? Xu Ziling did not fall to the ground and seriously injured was certainly something that would astonish the world. No longer care that he was the target of a multitude of arrows of the other three monks, he swiftly charged forward. The Moon in the Well in his right hand swept across Jiaxiang, with his other hand he grabbed Xu Ziling’s right hand.
Daoxin, Zhihui and Dixin called one of the many names of Buddha in chorus; they pressed on forward together while making their move at the same time.
Jiaxiang Dashi’s right hand lightly flicked, the sleeve of his robe brushed away at the blade of the saber.
Amidst a whooshing noise, beyond the monks’ expectation, Jiaxiang met the saber and floated away, the One Finger Zen attacking Xu Ziling could not continue. Only then did they know that by grabbing each other’s hand, the two boys’ created a bridge, linking their common-origin-but-different true qi, combining them into one entity, producing the battle outcome, which was worthy of pride.
Although as a result the other three monks lost the opportunity to use the combined power of four men to overpower the two boys, naturally they were not thrown into disorder. Dixin Zunzhe immediately took the position vacated by Jiaxiang floating away. Producing millions of staff shadows, he created a wall pressing down from the front of the two boys.
With his palms put together, Daoxin send out two streams of qi power, surging and rolling toward Xu Ziling’s left rear, pushing him away to make it difficult for him to link up with Kou Zhong.
Zhihui’s string of sandalwood Buddhist beads rose up; following his fantastic footwork, it appeared to be directly attacking Kou Zhong’s right eardrum acupoint, but actually it could change direction at any time. It was extremely hard to fathom.
The attack from all sides was in full swing.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling linked hands suddenly stretched out straight, their bodies leaned forward, unexpectedly they spun around rapidly like spinning top.
The three monks never thought that they would have this move, immediately they lost the original target of their attack.
Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well consecutively hit Dixin Zunzhe’s Great Full Circle Staff and forced Daoxin’s sealed palms to stop.
Xu Ziling waved his palm to heavily chop on Zhihui Dashi’s string of Buddhist beads, creating a loud ‘Bang!’ as the qi power collided.
The two boys’ utilization of the leaning outward and spinning momentum, combined with the angle of attack and the fantastic footwork, everything was beyond the three monks’ expectation, so that these three Buddhist top-notch figures were forced into passive position; their offensive was changed into defense, and they were forced to evade.
Xu Ziling let out a long whistle; sending his power to his right hand he hurled Kou Zhong away, like an arrow leaving the bow, shooting toward the great hall’s main entrance.
He himself used the positive and negative qi; fast as lightning he intercepted Jiaxiang Dashi. His two hands turned into countless palm shadows in frontal assault toward him.
Daoxin and Zhihui, two monks were in charge of guarding the door, how could they let Kou Zhong slip away like that? Unleashing the skill that they kept at the bottom of their trunk, the former moved both hands to grab the air between them, using the ‘Nian Chai Zhai Cai’ [nipping firewood picking vegetables] of the ‘Damo Shou’ [Dharma/Bodhidharma Hand] Eighteen Styles. Immediately he generated a strong gust of wind, producing two streams of powerful energy with a cyclone hidden within it. If Kou Zhong was rolled into it, it would be guaranteed that he would fall back into the hall.
Zhi Hui Dashi uttered, “Please forgive my offense,” from the string of Buddhist beads in his hand, three sandalwood wooden beads shot out. Although the beads started later, they arrived sooner, as they flew in triangular formation [orig. 品 (pin) character] toward Kou Zhong’s back, attacking the jianjing acupoints on his left and right shoulder, and the vital acupoint on his back.
This moment Kou Zhong was no more than half a zhang away from the hall’s door, but he was well aware that this half a zhang was like ten thousand rivers and a thousand mountains; even if he compensated with his little life, it would still be difficult to fly over it. Making a prompt decision, the tip of his toes tapped the ground, he soared up, and made a somersault in the air, and then using his special ability of exchanging true qi midair, he simply changed direction, escaping two monks’ offensive dangerously closely, and flew back toward Xu Ziling at the middle of the hall.
Xu Ziling was in deep danger; he was engaged in an incomparably intense close-distance combat against Jiaxiang Dashi. In the midst of palm winds and fist shadows, two human figures fought endlessly like rabbit rising and cuckoo falling.
On the surface the two seemed to be fighting evenly, but in just one glance Kou Zhong knew that Xu Ziling’s range of motion was continuously narrowing. Jiaxiang’s Buddhist marvelous skill emerged more and more, forcing Xu Ziling to fight hard, to stake everything he had. Clearly his power was increasing, continuously attacking the weakening Xu Ziling.
The reason Xu Ziling was trapped in this inferior situation was mainly because Dixin Zunzhe was hovering nearby, like a tiger lying in wait for its prey. Although he did not make any move, but he posed enormous pressure and huge threat to Xu Ziling, so that he was greatly affected; his mind guarding against this threat, it was difficult for Xu Ziling to go all-out in dealing with Jiaxiang Dashi’s howling wind and torrential rain offensive, whose power differed from Xu Ziling’s by a large margin.
Were it not for Xu Ziling’s true qi has reached the following-his-heart’s-desire boundary, plus the newly-mastered borrowing-strength-deflecting-forces brilliant skill, he would have been knocked down to the ground early on.
Kou Zhong roared. From high in the air, he suddenly dropped down to the ground, his body following the saber, his power passed through the tip of the saber, it turned into a yellow rainbow, shooting straight toward Dixin Zunzhe, who pounced forward to intercept him.
If he could not pass this Dixin Zunzhe barrier, he could forget about entering the close circle of Jiaxiang against Xu Ziling’s battle.
Daoxin and Zhihui stood on the left and right of the door; they did not pursue. All of them were grandmaster-level figures who already made their names more than sixty years ago, their status was not ordinary at all. Unless they were forced by circumstances, they would never lower themselves to rely on number to bully the two boys. But together they guarded the door, it was akin to have an alive iron rampart and copper wall, which even spilled water could not pass.
Dixin Zunzhe flashed to the left, his Buddhist staff swept across, it looked like it was going to hit Kou Zhong’s blade. Kou Zhong suddenly changed his footwork, the blade, which looked like it was impossible to change, suddenly did change. It streaked in the air, creating a circle. Not only it evaded Dixin Zunzhe’s Buddhist staff, it also poked the base of the staff, filling this senior monk’s heart full of admiration.
The saber technique being displayed thus far was enough to be mentioned on equal terms with the ‘Heavenly Saber’ Song Que.
Dixin Zunzhe smiled slightly, the Buddhist staff in his hands pressed down. At the same time he generated a violent, fierce, sucking force, making it difficult for Kou Zhong to get away. Moreover, when Kou Zhong wanted to brake the qi of his blade, even when it was disappearing, it was still under attack. He was indeed worthy to be one of the Buddhist Four Great Holy Monks.
Kou Zhong applauded inwardly. Copying the Sudden Thrust Method that he learned from Li Yuanji, he retreated, along with his saber. The Moon in the Well swung to the left and shook to the right, all of a sudden it got away from the base of the staff, and then he swiftly returned about half a zhang back. The Moon in the Well swiftly chopped, the saber light flashed past, Dixin Zunzhe did not have enough time to block, the Buddhist staff was finally deflected away by the blade.
If it were only the two of them fighting, this moment Dixin Zunzhe could get out of the way as he pleased, and then relaunched the offensive; he could not possibly fall into the disadvantageous position. But this moment, Dixin Zunzhe’s responsibility was to prevent Kou Zhong from helping Xu Ziling; it was a totally different situation.
Kou Zhong’s saber light flared out, he launched the moves from the ‘Eight Methods of the Well’, which he had not used against Xu Ziling, the ‘Cheating Troops’. Creating million dots of saber light, just like the snowstorm outside the hall, he took advantage of the instant when the Buddhist staff was deflected away, and while Dixin Zunzhe simply had to strongly defend his position at the center of the hall – to flash toward the opponent.
Letting out a cold shout, the Buddhist staff in Dixin Zunzhe’s hands suddenly shortened. Turned out he moved his grab to the middle of the Buddhist staff, and now, using the staff’s head and staff’s tail, he unleashed a set of exquisite, meticulous, beneficial to fighting a close-distance combat – staff techniques, meeting the Moon in the Well head-on.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud. The millions of dots created by the tip of his saber suddenly dissipated, changing back into the shape of a long saber. But he himself moved to Dixin Zunzhe’s left side, where the staff momentum was unable to reach. And then the saber struck.
This was the first time that Dixin Zunzhe encountered such a marvelous move. As a result, it was too late for him to change his move. His hands moved to the head and tail of the staff, respectively, he positioned the staff horizontally across his chest to block the strike.
While Kou Zhong felt a shot of pain as his saber hacked the Buddhist staff and Dixin Zunzhe’s imposing body was severely shaken, Kou Zhong borrowed the impact force to fly overhead Xu Ziling and Jiaxiang.
He exerted all his strength, giving it everything he had, and was finally able to snatch this little initiative to break through Dixin Zunzhe’s originally no-crack-could-be-found tight barrier.
Inwardly Xu Ziling cried that Kou Zhong arrived just in time.
Actually, he had already reached the plight of mountain and river exhausted [idiom: dead end]. Even after Dixin Zunzhe was entangled by Kou Zhong, his disadvantageous position did not see any improvement, simply because when martial art masters fought, if one side was forced into disadvantageous position, it would be very difficult to regain the equilibrium, it might even steadily deteriorated, especially when the opponent was of a martial art grandmaster level like Jiaxiang Dashi, whose any style has reached the stove-fire-has-turned-bright-green, has undergone the thousand-hammered-hundred-refinement level. Practically there would be no chance of error at all. Were it not for Jiaxiang purposely wanted to exhaust his power, his little life would have been very difficult to protect.
Jiaxiang’s palm forced Xu Ziling to retreat. It seemed like a casual wave-of-hand or snap-of-fingers, but Kou Zhong’s fierce-and-severe-without-equal saber strike was immediately shaken away. However, it also freed Xu Ziling from the hard-pressed situation.
A strong gust of wind came; Dixin Zunzhe unleashed his Great Full Circle Staff at full power, attacking from behind like hiding the sky and covering the earth.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling bumped their shoulders; coming together and separating repeatedly, they spun around to face Jiaxiang and Dixin Zunzhe’s attack, respectively.
Even with Daoxin and Zhihui, two great masters’ eyesight, this moment they were dazzled. They saw the four combatants in the middle of the hall were engaged in a tangled battle. At first Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were under hard pressure that they could only move within a narrow space, but the two boys, using some kind of seamless-heavenly-clothes joint attack tactics, were able to strengthen the power of their marvelous moves repeatedly, so that the range of their movement was constantly expanding, was brimming with vitality.
The incense stick on the Buddha altar only remained a small section about the-tip-of-a-finger long, so it would not be long before it was completely burned. However, if this situation continued, there was absolutely no possibility that the two boys would be able to get away from under Jiaxiang and Dixin Zunzhe’s hands, let alone crashing through the temple’s door.
‘Bump!’ Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s back collided against each other; Xu Ziling shouted in low voice, “Yun Shuai!”
Kou Zhong sensed Xu Ziling’s burning hot true qi bursting out of his back like tidal wave; he understood tacitly. He knew that the last opportunity has appeared before their eyes. With a wild roar, the Moon in the Well carried out the seventh method of the ‘Eight Methods of the Well’, the ‘Rapid Battle’. The long saber bending inward first before returning to attack forward with great advancing-courageously feel, if-you-don’t-die-then-I-perish momentum.
Dixin Zunzhe felt that he was completely shrouded by Kou Zhong’s saber momentum. If he used his staff to meet the attack head-on, it would be difficult to control the momentum of his hands, and then the battle might develop into life and death situation, which he really did not wish to see. Hastily he pulled the staff half a zhang back to block.
Xu Ziling had his mind focused on Jiaxiang’s pair of sleeves, which were brushing from the outside – left and right – in. Completely bending his back, he sent Kou Zhong’s body soaring into the air; like a shadow attached to a shape he pursued and attack Dixin Zunzhe, who was pulling back to defend.
In his shock, Dixin Zunzhe suddenly realized that Kou Zhong ten-thousand-jun-thunderbolt saber strike actually contained Xu Ziling’s qi power within. But it was too late for regret; moreover, because of the dramatic increase in Kou Zhong’s speed, while he was being carried over by his own backward momentum, he had no way of stopping Kou Zhong’s flight plus the fierce and severe, violent saber strike that was coming fast. Without any choice, he flashed sideways, letting Kou Zhong to fly toward Daoxin and Zhihui guarding the door, in his second attempt to break through the door.
This moment Xu Ziling was so weak that he nearly dropped to his knees on the floor. Raising both hands, he said to Jiaxiang, “No more fight!”
Jiaxiang slightly nodded his head and came to Xu Ziling’s side, but his gaze was on Kou Zhong’s back.
The key to success or failure lay solely on Kou Zhong.
Although they were over two zhang away, neither Daoxin nor Zhihui did not feel the threat of Kou Zhong’s saber momentum. Kou Zhong flew horizontally off the ground, his head at the front his feet behind. The Moon in the Well slowly pushed out, all movements became one integral, unbroken entity. The most terrifying thing was that the two great masters felt that the moment the attack reached them would be the moment where the saber momentum reached its peak. To both sides, either the one who was crashing through a barrier or the one intercepting, there was only one way, which was letting go of their hands and staking everything they had, with no distinction between life and death.
Naturally they had no intention whatsoever to stake everything in life and death battle against Kou Zhong. They rose up together, with the intention of taking advantage before Kou Zhong’s saber momentum reached its apex, to intercept him and pull him back down.
With their joint power, plus the amassed momentum while they were waiting, they were 100% sure that they would succeed.
None of Xu Ziling and the others did not hold his breath and calm his qi, waiting for the outcome.
Daoxin twisted his two palms together, like a pair of frolicking butterflies meeting Kou Zhong.
Following a mysterious and wonderful trajectory, just before Zhihui’s string of Buddhist beads met Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well, it looped around the saber head-on.
Both sides made their move with all their strength, it was indeed not a common chord.
The distance between the two sides was rapidly decreasing. When he was less than a zhang away, Kou Zhong suddenly flew toward Zhihui Dashi, completely evading Daoxin’s abstruse, unstoppable Damo Miaoshou [Dharma Miraculous/Wonderful Hand], and using all his strength to attack Zhihui Dashi.
Jiaxiang and Dixin Zunzhe called on one of the many names of Buddha in chorus.
Zhihui Dashi quickly decided that if he forcefully shook Kou Zhong’s saber, which contained Xu Ziling’s true qi, they might end up in both sides defeated and perishing together. Calling inwardly, ‘My Buddha have mercy’, he dropped down from the air.
Uttering ‘Thank you very much’, Kou Zhong, unimpeded and unbounded, flew over, curving toward the door, and disappearing in the snowstorm outside the temple hall.
 Three realms and six ways – trailokya: worlds of desire, form and formlessness, and sadgatih, Buddhist/Hindu view of living being, deva, asura, human, etc. (Courtesy of Akolaw)
 Zhengyan Fa Zang – Dharma treasure of the right eye; referring to the teaching of Chan/Zen, when Lord Buddha held a flower, Mahākāśyapa smiled, Lord Buddha declared he had transmitted the way of Chan already and referred to it as the Dharma treasure of the right eye. (Courtesy of Akolaw)