Book 34 Chapter 6 – Using Weak to Control the Strong
Xu Ziling unleashed the shifting and dodging method that they created based on the Cloud Commander’s shenfa, purely relying on the natural circulation of the true qi’s rising and falling. He retreated at an angle to the right, turned his body sideways, and his right palm, as light as a feather, sliced down on Shi Zhixuan’s elbow.
Toward Shi Zhixuan’s Immortal Image amazing skill, he already accumulated plenty of experience on how to deal with it. He knew that if he forced his true qi to invade the opponent’s meridians, part of it would be neutralized, part of it would be turned around by Shi Zhixuan for his own use, so that he would occupy an invincible position. Therefore, he stored up his energy in his palm, but did not release it; his usage of it was only defensive in nature.
Beyond his expectation, Shi Zhixuan’s true qi burst out violently with toppling-the-mountains-and-overturning-the-seas momentum. Clearly he wanted to shock forcefully without being lenient at all, with the intention to resolve this matter in the shortest time possible.
Xu Ziling’s true qi had already reached the following-the-heart’s-intention level. He drew the true qi from the yongquan acupoint on the sole of his feet and sent it to his dantian, and transformed it into two streams of qi, one yin, one yang, and combined the two into one spiraling qi power, and then he sent it out through the Du meridian on his back via his right palm, to meet Shi Zhixuan’s overbearing, incomparable true qi – head on.
The moment the two streams of energy clashed, a bizarre thing happened. Xu Ziling’s mind suddenly became clear and penetrating. When both combatants’ true qi made contact with each other, it was like two originally separated, independent individuals suddenly linked up together.
This feeling was wonderful beyond compare. Since he made his debut until now, this was still the first time that he generated this kind of reaction. In the past, he had to inject his true qi to other people’s meridian, and only then would he be able to start checking the situation of the other side’s qi and veins.
But this time it was only a contact between the true qi, and the gathering and flow of qi and veins within Shi Zhixuan’s body was laid out in his mind like an open map. At the same time, he sensed that disaster was imminent, because he detected the genuine killing move from Shi Zhixuan was amassing inside the yin and soft qi power at the tip of his foot.
This thought had just come up, Shi Zhixuan’s left foot, without noise without breathing [idiom: silently] – rose up in a kick.
If Xu Ziling did not generate this kind of supernatural response, due to his mind was focused completely on Shi Zhixuan’s bizarre shenfa and rapid, hard and ferocious elbow strike, perhaps he might really be hit by this kick.
In this world, perhaps only Shi Zhixuan, one person, could use vigorous-and-fierce and unfathomably-yin-and-soft, two streams of qi power at the same time.
Xu Ziling’s left foot swept out, it deflected Shi Zhixuan’s originally must-kill kick.
Both men staggered back.
If someone was watching nearby, they might only see slight contact between the two, like nothing more than hand contact and immediately separated; no one would think that the situation was unexpectedly this subtle, thrilling, and was really a shift in the trend of events.
Shi Zhixuan showed a look of astonishment. Clearly he did not expect Yue Shan to be this brilliant that he was able to, completely-at-ease-and-unobstructed – block the strange move that he had plotted with utmost care, without even showing any difficulty on the surface.
Xu Ziling, however, knew the pain he experienced. Merely the hard and violent qi power from Shi Zhixuan’s elbow strike was enough to make his qi and blood surging, his meridians were shaken, his head dizzy and his body weakened.
Fortunately, the mistake he made actually helped him. For fear of Shi Zhixuan’s Immortal Image Method, he kept some true qi to guard his meridians. Otherwise, a stake-it-all hard battle like this would be enough to make him suffer internal injury and vomit blood.
Even though he decided to fight to the death earlier, this moment he had to change his mind. Only Shi Zhixuan could separately use two streams of completely opposite true qi, with destructive power so enormous that upon self-examination, he knew that he could never be able to overcome it.
He and Kou Zhong could combine yang-and-hot, and yin-and-cold, two kinds of true qi into one, or perhaps swap the yin and the yang. But to be like Shi Zhixuan, who could use and obtain divine transformation – was still beyond his reach.
Just by looking at this aspect, Shi Zhixuan was the clear winner.
The tip of Xu Ziling’s foot tapped the ground, he traversed the nearly four-zhang space where big snow was still swirling in the air, toward the middle of the space between the two wine warehouses. The sound of wind followed behind his back.
Violent, ferocious-without-equal force was pressing down on him like a big mountain. Inwardly Xu Ziling cried, ‘Not good!’
Previously, even when he was fighting Zhu Yuyan, from the way the opponent’s qi power was coming together and separating, he could guess what’s true and what’s false of the opponent, as well as the final target the opponent was going to strike – one step ahead.
But every single one of Shi Zhixuan’s attacks was in equal proportions, so that he practically did not know where the opponent was going to strike. And since he did not know which place was under attack, naturally he did not know which part to guard.
All of a sudden, Xu Ziling gained great understanding of the Immortal Image Method as if it was wide and open. It was actually some kind of training of the true qi until it reached the real perfection, some kind of amazing skill where the true qi follows his heart’s desire. It was applicable to his own true qi, as well as to the other people’s true qi.
Exactly because when Shi Zhixuan was fighting and exchanging blows he unceasingly explored the other people’s true qi situation, when it ran into Xu Ziling’s Secret to Long Life’s qigong, it also had this kind of fantastic characteristic. Therefore, when Shi Zhixuan detected the true qi situation within Xu Ziling’s body, conversely, Xu Ziling also detected his situation.
This was precisely the formidability of Shi Zhixuan’s Immortal Image Method, which enabled him to last long and occupy invincible position.
If Xu Ziling could block Shi Zhixuan from seeing through and understanding thoroughly, while the opposite was true, i.e. he could see through what was true and what was false of the opponent, although it might not be enough to defeat Shi Zhixuan, but it would be of great help to save his life and flee for his life.
Thinking to this point, Xu Ziling still did not know what to do. Secretly performing Motionless Fundamental Image, his left hand sleeve brushed backward, while at the same time he soared up toward the dark roof of the warehouse.
Qi power collided with each other.
When once again Xu Ziling could see the empty and real within Shi Zhixuan’s true qi, the reaction force of an irresistible qi power propelled him faster to rush at an angle toward the roof of the warehouse.
The already repressed meridians in Xu Ziling’s body were even more repressed. Fortunately he acquired the precious moment to take a breath. The instant the tip of his toes tapped the edge of the roof tiles, his Long Life Gang [stars of the Big Dipper that constitute the tail of the dipper] Qi circulated eighteen rounds of heaven, neutralizing most of his injury, giving him the means with which he could run for his life.
Like a shadow following a shape, Shi Zhixuan was in close pursuit. The qi power of his finger, without carrying the least bit of noise – jabbed out, swiftly sealing the vital acupoint on Xu Ziling’s back.
For the last nearly twenty years of his life, this was the first time he went all-out to kill someone.
The tip of Xu Ziling’s foot generated power, he made a somersault; not only he evaded Shi Zhixuan’s yin in nature, damaging and extremely vicious finger jab, he also landed behind Shi Zhixuan, and sent an explosive punch toward him.
Even with Shi Zhixuan’s gloomy character, he was still shocked, because even though Xu Ziling had his back to him, it was as if he could see this style with his own eyes. Furthermore, he was able to link the strike so evenly, and the power being used was just perfect.
A blur appeared in front of Xu Ziling’s eyes. Under the completely impossible situation, Shi Zhixuan changed direction and swiftly dropped down, but before he landed on the ground, he turned around and sent a double-palm counterattack.
Two streams of power, one hard and one soft, with toppling-the-mountains-and-overturning-the-seas momentum – arrived. Earlier Xu Ziling already experienced his entirely different two streams of internal energy; it was a dreadful feeling, like it was going to rip his body apart, of course he did not dare to meet it head on. Laughing aloud, he said, “Shi Xiao’er’s [little one] skill is only like this!”
Without changing the punch power he heavily knocked against the warehouse wall near the roof. Xu Ziling then borrowed the reaction force to increase the speed of his flying back to evade Shi Zhixuan’s hard-to-resist palm power. Swift like an arrow he flew into the wine warehouse behind him, where You Niaojuan’s corpse was.
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Inside the Jiangjun Fu [General Mansion] located at the Bu Zheng Fang [lit. departmental government lane], Li Jing had just finished listening to Kou Zhong’s narrative. He said with grave expression, “Indeed Lei Xiansheng came in the afternoon to see me, to make arrangement for Yun Shuai to see Qin Wang. And Yun Shuai has also met Qin Wang according to the secret arrangement. Evidently Lei Xiansheng being captured had happened within the last one or two sichen.”
Kou Zhong, who had changed into another mask full of beard, spoke heavily, “While the enemy has not steadied their footing, we must immediately rescue Lei Jiuzhi back. Otherwise, if the enemy managed to force confession from his mouth about us, it would be even more detrimental to us.”
On his way to see Li Jing, he figured out a lot of things. In fact, by coming to Chang’an for the treasure hunt, they were indirectly doing a great favor to Yang WenGan.
On the surface Yang WenGan mobilized Jingzhao Lian men to help Li Yuanji hunting down the two boys, but in the dark, he was actually seizing this opportunity to maneuver his troops in the conspiracy to topple down the Li Clan.
Plus at the same time, the two boys infiltrating Chang’an has diverted Li Jiancheng, Li Yuanji, two powerful factions’ attention, giving Yang WenGan the convenience of action.
Yang Xuyan, using Fen Jing San, dealt with Zhang Jieyu, not only to help Dong Shuni eliminating a formidable opponent in her strive for favor, it was also to make Li Yuan, because his beloved imperial concubine caught a strange illness, not in the mood to mind the government affairs, to give the conspirators the opportunity to act.
Who would have thought that Kou Zhong unintentionally cured Zhang Beauty’s illness? And then Xu Ziling’s Yue Shan has raised Li Yuan’s vigilance. And then Yin Gui Pai lost the batch of firearms supplied by Shen Faxing. All these have thrown Yang WenGan’s side into great confusion.
The immediate situation was certainly tangled and complicated. None of the parties involved, including Kou Zhong, understood clearly the overall twists and turns. Like Ke Dazhi, who recently constantly challenged the Heavenly Policy Mansion’s martial art masters, it was quite possible that the intention was to confuse people’s eyes and ears, to shift their attention someplace else.
Li Jing nodded and said, “We must immediately rescue Lei Xiansheng back. Problem is we only have one chance. If I were Zhao Deyan, the safest way is to transport Lei Xiansheng out of Chang’an; nothing can surpass that, since then we have no strategy left to try.”
Kou Zhong said, “Hence the reason we must act immediately. Everybody on Zhao Deyan’s side is a Tujue; too conspicuous. To do this kind of thing, only a local worm with power would be able to easily accomplish it. But Zhao Deyan would never let Yang WenGan find out about this matter. The only thing he could rely on, plus the only logical choice, would be for him to seek Xiang Yushan’s help. And Xiang Yushan would naturally turn to Chi Shengchun, or perhaps we should call him Xiang Shengchun, and then the removal of Lei Jiuzhi would be without any trace to find.”
Chi Shengchun was the big boss of the Six-Happiness Casino. He had Li Yuanji’s support behind his back. Only he, this kind of local power, could, under the currently tense situation, remove someone away while the gods did not know, the ghosts did not perceive.
Li Jing stood up suddenly. His pair of eyes flickering brightly, he said, “We’ll place our bet on this shop. Fortunately, after talking with you guys earlier, I have been keeping a close watch on Chi Shengchun and his men’s every movement. As long as they really have our man, if Chi Shengchun is anxious and cannot wait to send Lei Xiansheng out of Chang’an, I have complete confidence that we could rescue him back.”
The two men pushed the door to walk out. Immediately they were stunned and halted their steps.
With her pretty face containing displeased expression, Hong Funu stood in the middle of the door, blocking their way. She spoke coldly, “How come whenever you brothers have something going on, you always leave me out?”
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Xu Ziling retreated back into the wine warehouse; about a zhang or so behind him was the place where You Niaojuan’s dead body sat. The true qi within his body was circulating dangerously, so he did his best to use this short period of time to heal the injury in his meridians, to deal with the new round of attacks.
With a card up his sleeve, Shi Zhixuan leisurely, with his hands behind his back, stepped into the warehouse. Without any contact, without any wind, the big door behind his back was closing by itself, turning the wine warehouse into a closed space.
In actuality, this door did not have any bolt; naturally it would not become an obstacle. But psychologically, it was certainly some kind of insult, indicating that Shi Zhixuan wanted to lock Yue Shan up like catching a turtle in a jar.
With a slight smile, Shi Zhixuan said, “Yue Shan, the older you are, the more muddleheaded you become; you thought that by mastering Huan Ri Da Fa, you would be unequalled in the world, and have the impertinence to come to Chang’an to set yourself against me.”
Laughing coldly, Xu Ziling said, “Where’s An Long? Why don’t you call him to help you? Relying on you, Shi Xiao’er alone, I am afraid you don’t have enough qualifications to kill me.”
Shi Zhixuan laughed in spite of himself; he said, “People say that Yue Shan is arrogant and conceited. And now hearing you say so yourself, I begin to understand that the rumors are not empty. You think yourself clever by running away into the warehouse; what you are afraid of is that An Long might mount sneak attack from the side! Your move is indeed a joke.”
Xu Ziling precisely wanted him to think this way; even more, he wanted to use this as an excuse to escape.
Although by nature Yue Shan was resolute and upright, haughty and unyielding, but under multitude-of-enemies, few-friends situation, fleeing for his life to survive was a human nature.
Shi Zhixuan has been rolling about in the officialdom and in the black ways [i.e. criminal/underworld] for many years; naturally he would not be that easy to be cheated by him. However, because he was convinced that Xu Ziling was Yue Shan, Xu Ziling was able to exploit Yue Shan’s identity and character, so that it was difficult for Shi Zhixuan to discern what was true or bogus.
Letting out a muffled snort, Xu Ziling said, “Rubbish! Without An Long helping you from the side in pincer attack toward You Niaojuan, how could you put him in order within such a short period of time?”
Laughing involuntarily, Shi Zhixuan said, “You may think whatever you, Laorenjia [polite term to address older person] like to think. I, Shi Zhixuan, have never argued against someone whose death is near at hand. There’s one more thing that I forgot to tell you, Laoxiong. When you were being intimate with Yuyan, did you notice that she was already not a whole jade disc [i.e. virgin (Courtesy of Akolaw)]?”
As soon as he finished speaking, his pair of palms pushed together, sending out two entirely different streams of shocking qi power, attacking Xu Ziling at the same time.
Xu Ziling practically did not know how would the real Yue Shan react if he heard such a discrediting remark? However, since Shi Zhixuan said so, naturally he was sure that Yue Shan would, because his state of mind was stirred up – expose flaws, and thus gave him an opportunity he could exploit.
Just from this kind of despicable scheming, he could infer Shi Zhixuan’s character.
Pretending to have his state of mind severely shaken, Xu Ziling let out a wild roar and sent out a punch.
Actually, he secretly applied the Great Vajra Chakra Image. First, he guarded himself as steady as Chang’an, Luoyang, that kind of fortified city, and then when the punch was halfway out, he changed into the Treasured Vase Image, storing up qi power but did not release it. Before making real contact, the opponent practically had no way to know what is true and what is false.
This was one of the best ways to deal with Shi Zhixuan. Were it not for Xu Ziling’s own Secret to Long Life true qi also had similar fantastic characteristic, perhaps even to his death he would never find out the real what-is-true-and-what-is-false in Shi Zhixuan.
As expected, Shi Zhixuan’s eyebrows were slightly knitted; he could not figure out Xu Ziling’s deceitful trick.
What puzzled him in particular was the weird footwork Xu Ziling was displaying. At first glance it did not make any sense; it was not to dodge, but it was not to confuse the enemy either.
Xu Ziling waited until Shi Zhixuan’s qi power was about to arrive, the Treasured Vase Image, like a flash flood breaking out the mountain – shot out via his punch, to meet Shi Zhixuan’s palm wind head on.
The Treasured Vase Image Qi’s special characteristic was a high concentration of qi power. As it was released out of the body, it was like a spheroid made of true qi being thrown toward the enemy across empty space; hence it avoided direct contact with the enemy.
In the past, the ‘Heavenly Lord’ Xi Ying suffered great loss because of this, leading to his final defeat and demise. In this moment, this was the best way to deal with Shi Zhixuan. The Treasured Vase Image Qi was like the vanguard troops. No matter how formidable Shi Zhixuan was, he would have to neutralize the attack first before he could directly attack Xu Ziling.
Furthermore, because the Treasured Vase Qi was highly concentrated and very dense, even with Shi Zhixuan’s ability, it would be difficult, given the short period of time, to transform it for his own use and then use it to counterattack the opponent.
Shi Zhixuan’s face revealed an astonished expression; the pushing-forward pair of palms changed into folding-toward-the-middle, creating a burst of strange noise of exploding qi power. And just like that, he neutralized the Treasured Vase Image Qi.
Looking at this, a chill crept up Xu Ziling’s spine. He had never thought that anybody could neutralize the Treasured Vase Image Qi like this. Instead of advancing, he retreated and shifted sideways to evade.
But Shi Zhixuan did not seize this opportunity to attack at all; he looked at him instead. His pair of eyes gleaming brightly, he asked in astonishment, “What kungfu was that?”
Laughing grimly, Xu Ziling replied, “You think I still care about Xiao Yan, you are gravely mistaken.”
Throwing his head back, Shi Zhixuan let out a long laughter and said, “Good! How about Xiuxin?”
Xu Ziling inwardly cursed him for having the heart of a wolf and lungs of a dog; he spoke indifferently, “Do you dare to say that to Qingxuan?”
From head to foot, Shi Zhixuan’s shook. His pair of eyes emitted a complicated, unfathomable expression.
For the first time Xu Ziling obtained the one-in-a-thousand-year golden opportunity initiative to strike; fast as lightning he moved forward, as if unintentional, his left palm’s fingers gathered together into a palm chop, it jabbed the empty space by Shi Zhixuan’s right shoulder.
Shi Zhixuan was slightly stunned. Xu Ziling changed the palm chop into the edge of his palm cutting toward the side of his neck. The move was bizarre to the extreme point.
This could be the impromptu move that Xu Ziling created on the spot, his bizarre conception from his disregard of life or death.
From being to nothing, from nothing into being.
Were it not for the fact that he had mastered the Long Life true qi to the receive-and-send-following-his-heart’s-desire, plus he had obtained the Buddhist’s ultimate knowledge of Eight-Character Incantation Image Method, he would never be able to create this unprecedented kungfu.
People who practice martial arts, none did not emphasize genuine or fake, what is true and what is false, but there has never been anybody who could explore the ‘being and nothing way’ one step further.
First, this move of Xu Ziling was stabbing the empty space by Shi Zhixuan’s right shoulder at full strength, which was different-tune-same-work to Kou Zhong’s ‘Chess Abundant’, which was to see how the opponent would ‘react’.
Shi Zhixuan was using the-still-to-control-the-movement, which could be considered an empty move. He immediately changed move, from being into nothing; this changing from stabbing to cutting palm unexpectedly did not carry any qi power. How could Shi Zhixuan not feel greatly surprised?
However, learning the lesson from the Treasured Vase Image Qi, Shi Zhixuan was unwilling to take risks by challenging the law by letting the chop hit, because even with his Immortal Image Method, he still did not have any confidence to immediately neutralize this kind of highly concentrated true qi.
In the past, when the Four Great Holy Monks surrounded him, he had suffered great loss under Jiaxiang Dashi’s One Finger Zen.
Letting a cold snort, Shi Zhixuan unleashed his Huan Mo Shenfa; fast as lightning he staggered toward Xu Ziling’s left side, the middle finger of his right hand stretched out, it swiftly poked the vital part on Xu Ziling’s left flank, which was exposed due to him launching the attack.
Xu Ziling spun around, the right hand sleeve brushed across Shi Zhixuan’s finger jab. Shi Zhixuan seemed to be recovering from the shock of hearing his daughter Shi Qingxuan’s name; he laughed aloud, pulled his finger back and retreated, while his leg kicked from below, swiftly aiming the five cun up and five cun down on the opponent’s lower leg. His movement was like moving clouds and flowing water, confident and at ease, free and easy, worthy to be Hou Xibai’s Shifu.
Throwing away all misgivings, Xu Ziling unleashed the newly comprehended ‘being and nothing’ xinfa to extreme saturation. Sometimes the qi power was there, sometimes it was not; from being it changed into nothing, from nothing it turned into being.
Shi Zhixuan could no longer fathom what is true and what is false of him. After being attacked more than ten times in succession, he began to find one opportunity to force Xu Ziling to meet one palm strike head on.
Xu Ziling immediately felt that more than half of his true qi was being absorbed and transformed by the opponent. He was shocked. Fortunately, when the true qi made contact, he sensed the technique of the opponent’s next strike, so he suddenly moved to the left to evade, barely missed Shi Zhixuan’s must-kill move.
The two men finally separated. They stood some distance away from each other like a tiger watching its prey.
The murderous intent in Shi Zhixuan’s pair of eyes was flaring greatly, producing enormous momentum like a wall, like a rampart, locking Xu Ziling from a distance so that he could not escape.
Behind Xu Ziling were precisely the wine jars in large bamboo baskets, which were piled high like a magnificent mountain.
For the first time he felt that Shi Zhixuan had always had misgivings toward him, and was determined to eliminate him at all costs in this battle.
Not that Shi Zhixuan has not been making his move at full strength just now; rather, Shi Zhixuan has always been trying to avoid the situation where he would receive injury in order to kill him. Therefore, when he encountered certain possibility that he might cause damage to himself, he would rather miss the opportunity than taking the risk.
But now Shi Zhixuan was staking everything, including sustaining injuries, to put him to death by all means.
Xu Ziling was now already like an arrow at the end of its flight. Just now he was staking everything, using his strength to the greatest extent to strive for the opportunity to strike. It could be said that he exhausted the power in his entire body, depleted his true power, even walking all over the warehouse, treading everywhere on the floor board, looking for the location of the secret passage to leave the warehouse. If he did not escape, he was certain that his dead body would lie horizontally in here.
Shi Zhixuan, whose mind already showed gap, was still this formidable. If he had no gap whatsoever, no one would dare to imagine how formidable he could be.
Upright and unafraid, Shi Zhixuan closely fixed his gaze on Xu Ziling. Nodding his head, he said, “Good! For the last several decades, other than Ning Daoqi and Song Que, who can barely be considered my opponent, now finally there is one more, ‘Ba Dao’ Yue Shan. You can go with your mind in peace.”
Shi Zhixuan finally expressed his admiration for his heroic spirit, and no longer belittled this opponent.
The warehouse door opened, An Long flashed inside. Laughing nastily, he said, “Shi Laoda [eldest child, the boss], I am back. Yue LaoGe, how are you?”
Inwardly Xu Ziling cried, ‘An Long, you came just in time!’ Slamming backward, the bamboo baskets, which were stacked reaching up to two zhang in height immediately collapsed; like snowballs they rolled toward Shi Zhixuan and An Long. You Niaojuan’s corpse was the first to suffer the calamity; it rolled along the bamboo baskets like a ball. The situation was chaotic to the extreme point. The candle was extinguished, the wine warehouse immediately sank into the darkness so deep that even five fingers stretched in front of one’s body could not be seen.
Under Xu Ziling’s premeditated administration, the bamboo baskets continuously fell, collapsed, rolled, and tossed away. The sound of jars breaking, the wine overflowing was heard in succession, the sweet smelling of the wine permeating the whole place.
With a long laugh, Xu Ziling said, “Please forgive Laofu for not being able to accompany you!”
With a gust of wind he swiftly flew toward the main door.
Shi Zhixuan and An Long flew together to intercept. But by the time they discovered that all they had been intercepting was only the outer robe that Xu Ziling tossed out, they were already one step too late.
There was the sound of the floorboard being smashed to pieces.
By the time An Long lighted up the lantern, Xu Ziling had already shook and broke the tunnel, and had already left safely.
Even with Shi Zhixuan’s ability, he did not dare to rashly enter the tunnel.