Book 32 Chapter 7 – Demonic King and Empress Yin
Actually, Xu Ziling had no strategy left to try; when he said that Shi Zhixuan has fallen into his trap, he was just bluffing, in order to cover up his own difficult situation.
Shi Zhixuan was a first-class figure within the demonic school, how could he be confused by his empty words? When he was about half a zhang away from Xu Ziling, he sent out a palm strike.
In Xu Ziling’s eyes, the opponent’s palm was unceasingly growing bigger and bigger, while also appeared to be as light as a feather without the slightest bit of power, so that he was unable to grasp whether it was heavy or light. The most formidable thing was that it followed his overpoweringly fantastic shenfa’s steps and styles; with each moment, the angle with which the palm power was attacking appeared to have new changes. Such a terrifying palm technique, this was the first time that Xu Ziling ever encountered it.
While standing motionless, both of his fists struck together one from the top and the other from the bottom, hiding within it a subtle difference between which one was ahead of the other, appearing to be without the slightest amount of qi power, while in fact the Treasure Vase Image Qi has already been stored up to the overflowing peak, ready to be released.
The demonic light in Shi Zhixuan’s pair of eyes flared out dramatically, his palm strike suddenly changed into a forward chop, slicing across Xu Ziling, this ‘Overbearing Saber’ Yue Shan.
Since the fight started, all along Xu Ziling has always been in absolutely disadvantageous situation, he could only take a beating and had to painstakingly hold his ground. Until this moment, borrowing the fantastic true qi from the ‘Secret to Long Life’, contrary to Shi Zhixuan’s expectation, he was able to recover his vital energy in a short period of time, ferociously countering and meeting Shi Zhixuan’s changes, striving to gain back a little bit of initiative.
Obviously Shi Zhixuan’s eyesight was more brilliant than the ‘Heavenly Lord’ Xi Ying; he was able to see that Xu Ziling’s double punches carried qi power waiting to be released. If he continued with his initial palm strike, he would definitely fail to get the desired outcome. Thereupon he cut in between the opponents’ two punches, forcing the opponent to save himself first and thus made it difficult for him to rush into attack.
Upright and unafraid, Xu Ziling ignored the opponent’s following-a-certain-abstruse-trajectory palm chop, which changed from light, floating and powerless, to fierce and severe like the edge of a sword, the blade of a saber, full of hacking-and-slicing qi power.
The two punches released the Treasure Vase Qi.
In this critical moment between life and death, facing this giant heretical demon in martial art study, which felt like he could never be knocked down, Xu Ziling already did his best and gave it everything he got before he strived to gain this good chance to strike back; naturally he did not want to miss this opportunity that easily.
Two streams of highly concentrated true qi followed the punch power and burst out. Unexpectedly just before it struck Shi Zhixuan, from two separate streams it converged into one; furthermore, it changed direction a little. Like a shooting star it stamped on the pit of Shi Zhixuan’s stomach.
This pair of Treasure Vase style punch power was created by Xu Ziling to save his little life in critical moment. Even Shi Zhixuan had never dreamed that there would be such a strange boxing move in the world.
The big devil head, the ‘Demonic King’ Shi Zhixuan’s countenance turned as cold as an iron pillar as he pulled back his chopping palm. This moment, since it was already too late for him to evade, he simply made a sharp spin, relying on the Immortal Image Method to neutralize Xu Ziling’s double Treasure Vase Qi.
Xu Ziling was hit by the palm power first. Fortunately the strike missed the fatal point on the pit of his stomach, because he used his shoulder to take the attack head-on. Plus the moment the palm wind cut his shoulder, he swiftly swayed his shoulder, ingeniously deflecting most of the opponent’s true qi. Even so, it was enough to make him feel uncomfortable.
Meeting the palm, he flew about a zhang away and landed on the highest point on the bridge.
The highly concentrated Treasure Vase Qi was ferociously thrown toward Shi Zhixuan’s body. His spinning speed immediately slowed down. By the time he was facing Xu Ziling again, this fake ‘Overbearing Saber’ Yue Shan had just steadied his footing on the top of the bridge.
Both sides have respectively received the hard attack from each other. On the surface Shi Zhixuan did not show any differences, yet Xu Ziling knew that to some extent, the opponent has also received injury. Otherwise, how could he not follow up the victory and press home the attack, to dispose him once for all, so as to avoid a long-night-with-many-dreams?
On Shi Zhixuan’s side, he had to reconsider his assessment on this Yue Shan, who had made a come back after a long retirement. The one thing that astonished him the most was that after receiving a palm strike from him, unexpectedly the opponent did not show any changes in his countenance; it had never occurred to him that the other side was wearing a mask that was crafted by the number one artisan under the heavens, Lu Miaozi.
While he was seizing the opportunity to fly back just now, Xu Ziling could not help spurting out a mouthful of blood midair, but he hid it inside his sleeve. Shi Zhixuan happened to just turned around on the other side, hence he did not see it.
Before landing on the ground, Xu Ziling already applied the Secret to Long Life to recover his true qi; however, if he was not wearing the mask, Shi Zhixuan ought to be able to see that his complexion was pale and tired, and cold sweats appearing on his forehead.
Xu Ziling took advantage of the situation to circulate his true power and recover his qi, while amassing his strength secretly. Coldly and calmly he said, “Laofu thought Immortal Image Technique was such an extraordinary martial art, turns out it is no more than so-so. If Shi Xiao’er’s [young child] skill is only like this, you could forget about leaving the Yue Ma Bridge alive tonight.”
While talking, he secretly calculated the slope of the bridge’s incline.
Maintaining his wooden expression, Shi Zhixuan fixed his gaze on him as if he was looking at a dead object, while speaking indifferently, “Yue Ba, if you have nothing else to say, please forgive Ol’ Shi for not able to accompany you!”
If it were someone with slightly lower intelligence, he would have been puzzled by Shi Zhixuan’s remark, so much so that he might even thought that because Shi Zhixuan was suffering serious internal injury, he was beating the retreat drum. However, Xu Ziling knew that Shi Zhixuan could see through the special characteristic of his fake ‘Huan Ri Da Fa’ was that it was suitable to stay still, but was unsuitable to move; hence he was luring him to take the initiative to attack, and then break it in one fell swoop.
The brilliance of his insight was definitely not something that ordinary martial art grandmaster would be able to compare.
Xu Ziling thought that success or failure, victory or defeat – would be decided in this moment. To surpass the opponent was definitely an impossibility. Currently, the only way out was to snatch a little bit of upper hand, before attempting to break the siege and escape. If necessary, he would escape into the Imperial Palace, and then even Shi Zhixuan would not dare to chase after him.
With a long laughter Xu Ziling leaped a little, and then the tip of his toes tapped the ground some more, and he pounced on Shi Zhixuan at the bottom of the bridge slope.
Succeeded in luring ‘Yue Shan’ to take the initiative to an all-out attack, Shi Zhixuan’s face still did not show the slightest emotional fluctuation. But actually inwardly he had made the decision that no matter how much injury he would have to suffer, he simply had to kill the opponent in one fell swoop.
Because he had seen how Yue Shan, who was returning to the fray after a period of inactivity, had mastered the ‘Huan Ri Da Fa’, and had shed his mortal body and exchanged his bones and turned into a different man. If he did not take the opportunity to kill him tonight, he might become a serious problem for him in the future.
If Xu Ziling had known what this Demonic King was thinking, he would definitely be very proud.
Xu Ziling’s mind had entered the Moon-in-the-Well, Heaven-and-Earth-fusing-together-into-one-entity realm. More importantly, he had become one with the Yue Ma Bridge.
There was some kind of subtle relationship between the angle and trajectory of his pouncing with the slope of the Yue Ma Bridge, like it was made by heaven, like the water flowing from higher elevation rushing down, which become an integral whole with the passage in which it flows, completely following the Heaven and Earth’s principles, carrying in itself a burst of irresistible and unstoppable momentum.
In Shi Zhixuan’s eyes, Xu Ziling has been able to exploit the gradient of the bridge to extreme saturation, making him feel as if he had been isolated and had become an unnecessary, even redundant – addition to the harmonious blending between Xu Ziling and the Yue Ma Bridge.
It was such an extremely abstruse feeling; if he were not a martial art master of that level, he would never have this kind of intuitive feeling.
The tip of Xu Ziling’s feet, left and right, alternately tapped on the slope; with each tap, his speed was slightly increasing, subsequently his momentum was also growing.
Shi Zhixuan accurately estimated that by the time Xu Ziling landed on the nearly four-zhang long slope to attack, the opponent would have accumulated his power to its peak intensity. And this one strike by Xu Ziling was brimming with once-released-there-will-be-no-return desperate feeling, some kind of sparing-no-effort, staking-it-all, fighting-to-the-death, until-both-sides-perished – intention.
Even with Shi Zhixuan’s self-confidence and conceited character, he could not help feeling regret. However, it was like riding a tiger; it would be hard to get off. If he withdrew at this time, and then while he was pulling back his qi, the opponent’s momentum suddenly surging and he seized the opportunity to pursue and attack, regaining the upper hand might involve a lot of effort.
Having no other choice, Shi Zhixuan made prompt decision; he soared at an angle, the-guest-acted-as-the-host-like [idiom: turning from passive to active] he rose up high in the air, and then like a fierce tiger seizing the rabbit he pounced down, to put this tyrannical opponent, which was hard for him to believe – in order.
Under normal circumstances, this was indeed the best way to response to Xu Ziling’s strategy.
Unfortunately, he was missing a point; which was Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong’s unique method of converting and changing true qi midair and the consummate skill of flying backward, which they imitated from the Cloud Commander.
Shi Zhixuan shot up like a projectile into the air, with his feet on top and his head on the bottom, his palms struck together, he unleashed the special ability of the Immortal Image Method. The left palm power was icy-cold, gentle and reserved, while the right palm power was burning hot, hard and violent; combined together they became a hurricane that could destroy the heart and split the lungs, in heavy strike toward Xu Ziling.
Letting out a long whistle, Xu Ziling abruptly exchanged a mouthful of true qi, changing direction from moving down at an angle to rushing up. The most formidable thing was that he was following a bizarre trajectory curving outward toward Shi Zhixuan’s right side before attacking Shi Zhixuan directly.
For the second time Shi Zhixuan was forced to change his move. As a result, immediately his momentum and power were somewhat reduced. Xu Ziling was curving upward from Shi Zhixuan, who was also moving upward to meet him head-on. Suddenly his body swayed to the left and right; his two hands creating millions shadows, he blocked Shi Zhixuan’s double palms, before gradually turning back into two hands with the thumbs bending outward, pointing at the hollow of Shi Zhixuan’s palms.
Unexpectedly it was the ‘One Finger Zen’ that he learned from Jiaxiang Dashi, which was changed into ‘Two Fingers Zen’ for his own specific use. Because he was proficient in the Image Method, although the form did not appear to be divine, the essence was the Motionless Fundamental Image. The left hand performing Great Vajra Chakra Image and the right hand Sun-Bind Image, the yin and yang true qi flowing separately, he met Shi Zhixuan’s Immortal Image marvelous skill head-on.
Qi power collided.
Making repeated miscalculation, Shi Zhixuan let out a cold humph and floated up mid-air toward the west bank.
Xu Ziling made three consecutive somersaults and fell onto the bridge, barely able to stand up steadily.
As soon as Shi Zhixuan’s feet touched the ground, he flew back.
‘I’m finished!’ Xu Ziling cried inwardly. His five viscera and six bowels felt as it they completely flipping over; his entire body was twisted so that the pain made him lost his strength. Presently, forget about Shi Zhixuan, a strong man with no martial art knowledge would easily be able to take his little life.
However, Shi Zhixuan was merely standing blankly at the end of the bridge. His eyes were looking at something behind Xu Ziling. A gentle and reserved, sweet-sounding feminine voice rang, along with a tender laughter, from about a zhang behind Xu Ziling, “Zhixuan, oh, Zhixuan! Although you consider everyone else beneath you, but now you have no choice but to admit that you encounter a hard-to-defeat worthy match!”
Xu Ziling seized this opportunity to circulate his true qi three rounds, before forcing himself to speak, “Laofu’s affair, no need for you, Xiao Yan [Little Yan] to care about. Tonight, between me and Shi Zhixuan, there will only be one man leaving this place alive.”
Actually, he was groaning inwardly. In front and behind him were the most outstanding two top figures of the demonic schools over the last several hundred years. If he let either one of them see through his real identity, death would definitely be his only way out.
Shi Zhixuan’s face revealed an incomparably grim smile; he shifted his gaze toward Xu Ziling’s face, and calmly said, “I admit that I have underestimated you, Yue Ba. But speaking about killing me, don’t ever think that you will be able to accomplish in your remaining destroyed life.”
Xu Ziling forcefully raised his true qi again. Struggling hard to suppress the surging blood and qi in his body, he swallowed the fresh blood gushing through his throat back into his belly. Throwing his head back, he laughed and said, “I never thought that you, Shi Xiao’er have the impertinence to boast shamelessly like this. Xiao Yan, move back for me; let’s see if I could put this disciple, who does not know the height of heaven and the thickness of the earth – in order.”
Xu Ziling figured out that the reason Zhu Yuyan appearing in this critical moment between life and death was because his skill was brilliant enough to contend against the Demonic King, hence she did not wish for him to die under Shi Zhixuan’s hands.
If his guess was incorrect, tonight next year would be the anniversary of his death.
Zhu Yuyan sighed faintly. She seemed to be having unbounded emotional stirring. “Huan Ri Da Fa still cannot change your terrible temper?” she spoke softly.
Shi Zhixuan looked up to the sky and laughed; lightly and leisurely he said, “You two husband and wife want to whisper sweet nothings to one another, please forgive Ol’ Shi for not having spare time to accompany.”
Finished speaking, he swiftly flew backward and disappeared in the darkness of a small alley in the blink of an eye.
A faint sweet scent came closer and assaulted his nostrils; Zhu Yuyan was already behind Xu Ziling. “You are injured,” she spoke softly.
Although Xu Ziling’s strength has recovered a little, but if he had to fight Zhu Yuyan, he would definitely not last more than three moves, plus he simply could not force himself to do so. Suddenly turning around, he came face to face with the ‘Empress Yin’ Zhu Yuyan, whose face was covered in a layer of muslin. Forcing himself to imitate Yue Shan’s fierce and severe expression, as if he wanted to see through her flowery countenance – he laughed coldly and said, “Why didn’t you seize the opportunity to kill Shi Zhixuan? Was it because there’s still feeling remaining in your heart that has not been broken yet?”
Sure enough, Zhu Yuyan’s tender body trembled slightly. Avoiding his eyes, she cast her gaze toward the northern extremity of the Yong An Canal in the distance. The tone of her voice turned cold, she spoke, calm and collected, “You are jealous!”
How could Xu Ziling dare to tarry long? Brushing his sleeve, he walked away; very scared and on edge, he brushed past her tender body, while repeatedly letting out cold laughter, acting as if it was not worth explaining his situation.
“Stop right there!” Zhu Yuyan shouted coldly.
His scalp turned numb, Xu Ziling halted his steps behind her. He spoke indifferently, “If you want to kill me, Yue Shan, this is your best chance.”
The tone of Zhu Yuyan’s voice turned gentle; she spoke softly, “They say that one night being husband and wife is equal to a hundred nights’ kindness; Yue Shan, would you be willing to lend Xiao Yan a hand?”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling shook his head, and said with a sigh, “I never thought that Yue Shan would suddenly become valuable and useful? Forty years ago, between me, Yue Shan – and you, the kindness has already been cleared, the friendship severed. Do you remember what you said to Ol’ Yue at that time?”
Zhu Yuyan’s voice sounded like it came out from between her teeth; she spoke coldly, “Just get the hell out of here as far as you possibly can. If by tomorrow you are still in Chang’an, don’t blame me, Zhu Yuyan, for not showing any mercy.”
Xu Ziling’s mind was churning at the speed of light, he caught the real intention behind Zhu Yuyan’s remark.
Zhu Yuyan was the most notorious demon of the demonic school; not only she was not particular about friendship, she also had no regard of the Heaven’s law. How could this kind of person care about old affection? She was willing to let him go just like that, it was purely to test his reaction; she wanted to see the extent of his serious injury. With Yue Shan’s temperament, if he obediently submitted to humiliation by walking away, naturally it could be inferred that Xu Ziling, this fake Yue Shan – has lost the ability to fight and to resist.
Once this point has been confirmed, Zhu Yuyan would make her move with all her strength to get rid of this old intimate friend.
Xu Ziling felt relieved instead. Slowly turning around, he snorted coldly and said, “Based on your, Zhu Yuyan’s status, you are still not qualified to call, and I, Yue Shan – come, to order me, and I go. Let me gain first-hand knowledge of your ‘Tian Mo Da Fa’ then, I want to see, compared to Shi Zhixuan’s ‘Bu Si Yin Fa’, which one is high, which one is low.”
He dared to be one-hundred-percent positive that Zhu Yuyan would not dare to fight; not because she was afraid of Yue Shan, but she was afraid that Shi Zhixuan might take profit from the side. She was even more afraid of losing the opportunity to seize the Demonic Emperor Relics.
He and Zhu Yuyan and Shi Zhixuan, three sides were holding each other back, the result was that no one was willing to act blindly without thinking.
Zhu Yuyan quietly sighed and said, “That was just Xiao Yan speaking in a moment of anger; Dage, you go back and think about it, see if we could work together, to establish great undertaking together!”
Finished speaking, she floated and flew away, like a specter in the depth of the night, her feet did not touch the ground – and disappeared beyond the other end of the bridge.
Xu Ziling nearly fell to his knees. Only after deeply reconciling several mouthfuls of true qi did he manage to act upright and unafraid as he walked toward the Dong Lai Inn.
Xu Ziling pushed the door and came into the room. Immediately the sky spins, the earth goes around. But as he was collapsing to the ground, he was caught by Kou Zhong, who had been waiting painstakingly for a long time.
Kou Zhong closed the door and asked in shock, “What happened?”
Helped by Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling sat cross-legged on the floor, absorbing the healing true qi Kou Zhong transmitted into his back. Smiling bitterly, he said, “I have just had a confrontation with Shi Zhixuan. To be able to gather my little life back is totally due to Laotianye’s blessing.”
Inwardly Kou Zhong groaned, ‘This is called before the first wave subsides, a new wave rises [idiom].’ He sighed and said, “Fortunately I came to look for you. Otherwise, with your current heavy injury, how could you fight tomorrow night?”
And then he frowned and said, “Other people, Zhang Jieyu, has her upper body hot, her feet cold. But you, half your body is cold, the other half is hot; it looks like the meridians in your entire body are twisted forcefully. Fortunately you came across Xiaoren, Mo Shen Yi. Otherwise, I guarantee that you will lie down for three days and three nights.”
While receiving help from Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling circulated his power to heal his own injury. “How did you wait in the room and happen to save me?” he asked.
Kou Zhong dejectedly said, “This matter is complicated and not easy to express succinctly. Let’s heal your internal injury first and talk later.”
There was only another sichen before daybreak.
Xu Ziling lay on the bed. Kou Zhong sat on the other end of the bed, reclining against a pillow. To escape other people’s eyes and ears, the two hid inside the bed curtain to talk.
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “If the Demonic Emperor Relics is given to Wan Yaonu, it will be something that will cause no end of trouble.”
Kou Zhong said, “It would be better if we leave this place immediately; we can come back later for the treasure hunt. No! At least we have to check information at the Ministry of Works first before we leave.”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “Currently our feet are deep in the mud. No matter what, we must help Li Shimin to pass through this crisis, to get rid of the threat coming from the Tujue and the demonic school and heretical way – before we could leave.”
And then he added, “You Niaojuan is lying.”
Kou Zhong blankly asked, “What lie?”
Xu Ziling said, “He told me that Zhu Yuyan, Shi Zhixuan, and Zhao Deyan are forming an alliance to pull down the Li Clan. But looking at the situation a moment ago, Shi Zhixuan and Zhu Yuyan do not appear to be having any agreement at all.”
Kou Zhong matter-of-factly said, “Of course he is lying to you. Otherwise, how could Yue Shan be willing to deal with his own old close friend [the original can also mean someone intimately related]?”
Displeased, Xu Ziling said, “You are still in the leisurely mood to talk nonsense?”
Smiling ruefully, Kou Zhong responded, “If not talking nonsense, what do you want to talk about? I already thought about it until my head nearly split. Do you have any good idea?”
Xu Ziling laughed calmly and said, “So what if we let Wan Yaonu obtaining the Demonic Emperor Relics? As long as afterwards we broadcast the news, I guarantee that the demonic school people would come to make a ruckus. This is called using the other person’s method to deal with himself.
Kou Zhong’s spirit greatly aroused, he said, “That is indeed a good plan. No matter what, the Demonic Emperor Relics can’t be as formidable as the Jade Annulus of He Clan! So what if we give it to her? We could seize this opportunity to wear her off.”
Closing his eyes, Xu Ziling said, “Go home quickly! Ol’ Yue did not sleep at all last night.”
Climbing down the bed, Kou Zhong said with a wry smile, “When I get back, I am afraid I won’t even have time to sit in the latrine. It seems like I am fated to live a harder life than yours.”
Xu Ziling matter-of-factly responded, “Who told you to strive over the world? You only have yourself to blame. Go and reflect upon yourself carefully!”
Kou Zhong hatefully said, “My good brother indeed! Remember your appointment with the beauty Wanwan. When the time comes, you must comfort her well. Ha!”
Xu Ziling could only respond with a wry smile. Thinking about Wanwan, instantly the sleep left him completely. He listened as Kou Zhong was escaping into the distance, as he was disappearing away from outside his door.