Book 34 Chapter 8 – Seven Needles to Control the Mind
Lei Jiuzhi was plucked from danger by Xu Ziling from an underground secret room in the rear section. His mind was clear, but his hands and feet were bound to a wooden frame using thick ox tendon, and there were seven silver needles stuck on top of his head to seal his acupoints, evidently it was the handiwork of a martial art master proficient in acupuncture points.
Seeing Xu Ziling, naturally Lei Jiuzhi was pleased beyond his expectations; he was so happy that he felt like crazy, but he suffered from having-mouth-difficult-to-talk, it was even difficult for his facial muscle to convey his emotion, and could only blink ferociously, as if he wanted to say something.
Xu Ziling understood without being told explicitly; he said, “Do you want to tell me not to recklessly pulling the silver needles on your head?”
Lei Jiuzhi blinked his eyes.
Xu Ziling said, “Let’s do it this way: blink once if you agree, blink twice if you disagree!”
Sure enough, Lei Jiuzhi blinked once.
Inwardly Xu Ziling shivered greatly. Lei Jiuzhi might not know other skills, but he was proficient in the art of healing, and had particular knowledge about acupuncture points and meridians. He was fully aware that Xu Ziling’s Long Life Qigong was able to unseal the blockage in any meridian and acupoint, yet he still warned him not to act blindly without thinking. Evidently there was profound knowledge behind these seven needles.
But he was not worried at all, because there was the outstanding direct disciple of world-class Buddhist orthodox school upstairs, Shi Xianzi [fairy], who would take charge of treating strange, difficult, and mixed illness, so there was no need for him to worry.
He quickly but carefully carried Lei Jiuzhi up, and found that his body was as stiff as wood or stone; even his hands and feet could not be bended, his neck was even more straighter, so that for the first time he started to feel this was not an ordinary problem.
Shi Feixuan met him at the end of the stone steps at the mouth of the tunnel to help him carry Lei Jiuzhi up. Her expression grave, she said, “Ziling, lock those four men inside the secret room first, I am going to examine Lei Xiansheng’s condition before discussing it with you.”
This was the first time that Lei Jiuzhi met Shi Feixuan’s fairy self; his pair of eyes immediately lit up with liveliness. Evidently his confidence in Shi Feixuan rescuing him was a lot higher than his confidence in Xu Ziling.
Xu Ziling put Lei Jiuzhi down on the bed inside one of the bedrooms in the inner section, and then he carried the four men into the secret room. Using the materials at hand, he tied them using the thick ox-tendon rope.
This room ought to be a torture chamber that was prepared in a hurry. Other than wooden scaffold to tie the prisoner, there were no other torture instruments. The only strong point of this room was that even somebody was screaming, howling and calling miserably, no sound would be transmitted outside.
But for Lei Jiuzhi, who was unable to budge at all, this benefit was totally useless.
Back on the ground level, after closing the door to the secret room, Xu Ziling went to the room. Lei Jiuzhi was still stiffly lying on the bed. The seven thin needles, each one about a cun long, separately pierced the Tianzhu, Cheng Ling, Luo Que, Nao Kong, Feng Chi, Wan Gu, and Tou Wei, seven acupoints on the head and the back of his neck, exposing only the glittering silvery light of the end of the needles; it was indeed shocking the eye, astonishing the heart.
Shi Feixuan spoke softly, “Have Ziling heard about ‘Five Capital Punishment’?”
Xu Ziling shook hid head blankly.
Shi Feixuan said, “The ‘Five Capital Punishment’ refers to the world’s most formidable five different kinds of cruel punishment. This ‘Seven Needles to Control the Mind’ is one of those. It can make a person unable to speak, unable to sleep, unable to move, even the muscles also stiffened. The mind is clearly incomparably awake, but the pain indeed no use to tell others. It doesn’t matter how resolute one’s aspiration is, under this kind of cannot-seek-life-cannot-seek-death situation, inevitably he would suffer nervous breakdown. In order to seek death, he would be willing to surrender everything. Fortunately we rescued Lei Xiansheng at the earliest possible time. Otherwise, after thirty-six sichen of the application of the needles, even if we managed to rescue him, he would become a handicapped person.”
Listening to the tone of her voice, Xu Ziling knew that she understood the method to break it; inwardly heaving a sigh of relief, he knitted his brows and said, “Who would apply such a malicious torture method?”
Shi Feixuan said, “It was after reading our Zhai’s ‘Ci Hang Jian Dian’ [sword canon of Ci Hang], our worthy predecessor wrote about the ‘Five Capital Punishment’ that I found out about this. Because the ‘Five Capital Punishment’ is related to the mystery of the human body, other than understanding the art of blocking the meridians and sealing acupoints, the person carrying out this method must also be proficient in medical skill. This person is definitely not simple.”
And then she slightly smiled and said, “During the process of resolving this method, Feixuan must not have divided heart, Ziling must be the protector the (Buddhist) law for Feixuan.”
Xu Ziling acknowledged the request. When he was leaving, he also closed the door per her instruction.
He mused inwardly that the enemy’s move this time was really sinister; otherwise, even if they rescued Lei Jiuzhi back, in the end they would still have to give in.
Suddenly raising up his qi, he soared upward to the roof, and happened to see a skiff slowly approaching the beach, and docking by a small pier outside the residence.
Focusing his power to his eyes, Xu Ziling concentrated his attention to look. The first thing that caught his attention was a yellow umbrella. On the skiff, aside from the man steering the boat, there were three other men. One of them was under the umbrella, taking shelter from the wind and the snow, so that Xu Ziling could not see his face.
Of the two that he could see, surprisingly one was ‘an old friend’ Kang Qiaoli, the other was the ‘Demonic Commander’ Zhao Deyan.
He was able to recognized Zhao Deyan, because during the battle against Huang Gongcuo at the Yue Ma Bridge that day, when the latter was about to fall into the water of the Canal, Zhao Deyan tossed his shoe to help him, to avoid Huang Gongcuo making a fool of himself in public.
That day Xu Ziling only had the predestined affinity to catch a glimpse of him, but the impression was very deep.
It could be said that Xu Ziling had ample experience in fighting hand to hand, in exchanging blows with various heretics of the demonic school, either competing in literary [or ‘soft’ method] or in martial art [or ‘hard’ method]. He always felt that the demonic school people, from top to bottom, people of every description, none did not carry some kind of hard-to-describe, but also quite putting-emphasis-on strange, heretical, and secretive personality traits.
Naturally You Niaojuan, that kind of utterly-vicious-extremely-evil man – need not be mentioned. But even the handsome, brimming-with-elegance Hou Xibai also had somewhat heretical, bizarre air around him.
The only exception was Shi Zhixuan. His heretical aura could be overwhelming, but when he was disguised as the Da De Shengseng [great virtue holy monk] of the Wu Lou Si, both outward show and inner thoughts, inside and outside, he was able to project some kind of out-of-the-dust, free-from-vulgarity, austere, upright orthodox aura, which could deceive anybody.
The one thing of Zhao Deyan that was hard to forget was not his tall, straight, wiry-thin build, sparkling-and-translucent-like-jade skin, or even a bit pale, could-be-considered-handsome countenance; rather, it was his pair of eyes, which was eternally squinting into a narrow slit, cold and icy like saber blade, giving him a cold-hearted, no-matter-what-dare-to-do-it-even-if-he-had-to-die, dare-to-brave-the-danger kind of temperament.
His scalp went numb, Xu Ziling watched as the skiff gradually pressing close to the pier. He did not understand why in such a tense moment, his own mind could wander into some thought that had nothing to do with the pain and itch before his eyes.
If Shi Feixuan could get away and fight, even if that person holding up an umbrella was a martial art master of the same level as Zhao Deyan, Xu Ziling was confident that they had the ability to advancing-to-attack, retreating-to-defend; worst-case scenario, they could escape without a trace.
However, this moment Shi Feixuan was going all-out to use her power to break the extreme torture that Lei Jiuzhi was subjected to. For the time being, Lei Jiuzhi was akin to a handicapped person. Under this kind of situation, how could they ward off the enemy?
Relying on his own strength, merely dealing with Zhao Deyan already entailed strenuous effort for Xu Ziling; if Kang Qiaoli was added to the equation, he would undoubtedly be defeated. Not to mention there was also the mysterious person holding the umbrella.
Xu Ziling’s intuition said that this person was the one carrying out the extreme torture of ‘Seven Needles to Control the Mind’ onto Lei Jiuzhi.
Since he was powerless to face the enemy, he must use ruse.
Using the fastest shenfa, from the roof Xu Ziling returned to the house. He opened the door of the room adjacent to the one where Shi Feixuan and Lei Jiuzhi were. He pulled the bedding of the bed, and also took the board of the bed. And then with one hand carrying the cotton bedding, the other hand carrying the bed board, he pushed the door to Shi Feixuan’s room, and put the bed board and the cotton bedding in a corner.
Shi Feixuan sat cross-legged on the bed, her pretty eyes were tightly closed, her left palm was pressed on Lei Jiuzhi’s forehead, while the other hand was pinching one of the needles.
Of the seven needles, five were gone; there were still two remaining.
The heavy snow continued to float down. It created faint rustling noise as it hit the paper covering of the window, just enough to cover Lei Jiuzhi’s light breathing. However, such a martial art master of Zhao Deyan’s caliber, if he listened attentively from somewhere near enough, he would definitely detect it.
Xu Ziling did not have any better idea to cross this danger, hence he wanted to combat the other side psychologically.
The sound of knocking was heard from the outer courtyard door.
Xu Ziling could not help feeling remorse. He should have thought that such a crucial hostage like Lei Jiuzhi, Zhao Deyan must be anxious to extract any important intelligence about Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling from his mouth. If he could force confession of the location of the treasure, naturally it would be most ideal.
With the sound of fluttering clothes, the enemy already detected that something was amiss; they entered in by leaping over the wall.
Kang Qiaoli’s voice was coming from the outer section, “Not right! Where are they?”
A not-warm-not-fiery, gentle-and-reserved, sweet-sounding voice said, “Let’s go to the secret room first to see whether we still have our man down there.”
Xu Ziling was unclear whether this voice belonged to Zhao Deyan, or the mysterious man holding the umbrella. But he was certain that his previous supposition had been wrong.
He thought this place, where Lei Jiuzhi was imprisoned, was Chi Shengchun’s place, and that the men guarding him were Chi Shengchun’s men. But listening to the other side’s exchange, this place ought to be arranged by Kang Qiaoli. Otherwise, he would have said, ‘Find out where the secret room is’.
As expected, the three men’s light footsteps were moving toward the middle section, and then there was the sound of the door to the secret room being opened.
Kang Qiaoli angrily said, “There is no possibility here …” and then his voice became muffled and hoarse, difficult to recognize. Apparently Kang Qiaoli entered the secret room, so that his voice was dampened.
Xu Ziling applied enough power to his ears, but he still was not able to grasp what Kang Qiaoli was saying. It could be imagined that this moment Kang Qiaoli immediately rescued his men and asked them what had happened.
Another voice outside the entrance to the secret room calmly said, “Yan Shuai [Commander Yan] may set your heart at ease. My ‘Seven Needles to Control the Mind’, no one in the world can break it. They rescued our man, yet they are still under my control.”
This was still the first time that Xu Ziling heard this voice; it was beyond his capability to recognize which divine being the voice belonged to.
Still with not-warm-not-fiery voice, Zhao Deyan spoke indifferently, “This kid Kou Zhong is brilliant beyond my expectation; unexpectedly he knew how to carryout ‘threaten the east and strike to the west’ stratagem, he sent people in secret to rescue our man away. Fortunately we already setup preventive arrangement, so that our entire army will not be wiped out.”
Kang Qiaoli’s voice said, “All four men were ambushed and subdued; some did not even see the opponent’s shadow and were already knocked down. The other two saw the perpetrator ought to be Xu Ziling disguised as Yong Qin.”
Xu Ziling felt relieved instead. Luckily the other party did not know Shi Feixuan’s existence.
Looking back at Shi Feixuan, the latter was just pulling the sixth needle from the Cheng Ling acupoint on the top of Lei Jiuzhi’s head; her pretty face was completely bright red, so that she was showing some kind of beautiful appearance that she had never shown before, but it also showed that the loss to her true energy was huge, hence it would not be advisable for her to fight immediately.
The crisis has not passed yet.
Zhao Deyan said, “If those two kids recklessly pulled the needles, they could make Lei Jiuzhi’s blood passages in disorder and send him to his death; wouldn’t we spend a great deal of time and effort for nothing then?”
With a card up his sleeve, the man holding the umbrella said, “In order to guard against this situation from happening, before carrying out the punishment, I already warned Lei Jiuzhi that he should be thinking of a way to signal them not to do that and kill him.”
Xu Ziling mused that no wonder when he was rescuing Lei Jiuzhi, he was alarmed and wildly blinking his eyes. However, even if he did not give him any signal, seeing seven such shocking-the-eyes, astonishing-the heart silver needles deeply embedded into unusual acupoints, Xu Ziling definitely would not carelessly make his move.
The sound of footsteps was approaching.
Hearing the footsteps, Xu Ziling knew it was Kang Qiaoli’s man.
Shout of alarm came from the adjacent room. Xu Ziling’s heart jumped into his throat. Whether it was luck or disaster, it would be decided this moment.
Lei Jiuzhi’s breathing suddenly turn soft; even with the close proximity to him, Xu Ziling was barely able to hear it. He saw Shi Feixuan slightly nodded her small cicada head to him, indicating that she knew what was going on outside.
Her ability to control Lei Jiuzhi’s breathing, whether light or heavy – had greatly broadened Xu Ziling’s horizons.
A short moment later, Kang Qiaoli spoke from inside the adjacent room, “Good kid! Unexpectedly he dismantled the bed board to bring the man away.”
Zhao Deyan laughed aloud and said, “It has been a long time that I, Zhao Deyan, never met this kind of brilliant adversary. It looks like tomorrow morning I need to meet with Kou Zhong, to see what other magic weapon he still has?”
Kang Qiaoli said, “They should have left by land route. Carrying a man like that, they should not go too far, perhaps we will be able to intercept them on the road.”
Zhao Deyan said, “They are still a very useful chess piece, we must cherish them extremely; as long as they are willing to nicely offer the treasure to us, we should still help them. Now let’s retreat immediately.”
Inwardly Xu Ziling cried, ‘Thank the Heaven and thank the Earth!’ Zhao Deyan and the others quickly returned to their ship and left via the waterway.
After pulling the last needle from Lei Jiuzhi, Shi Feixuan sat down for a moment, took a very deep breath, and said, “Fortunately I did not disappoint!”
Lei Jiuzhi’s body returned to being limp; he fell into deep sleep.
Greatly delighted, Xu Ziling put Lei Jiuzhi onto his wide shoulders, and said, “We must rush back immediately; otherwise Kou Zhong, unaware of what we had accomplished, might create another trouble.”
Shi Feixuan proposed, “It would be better to bring Lei Xiansheng to Yu He An. He still needs at least eight to ten days to recover. Feixuan could arrange to have him leaving Guanzhong in secret.”
Inwardly Xu Ziling cried, ‘That’s wonderful!’ As matter of fact, he was having a headache on where to send Lei Jiuzhi to. Gao Zhandao definitely could offer a place, but it would not be one hundred percent secure.
After Xu Ziling expressed his gratitude, carrying Lei Jiuzhi, the two quickly left.
※ ※ ※
The dejected Kou Zhong and Li Jing, husband and wife, rushed back without stopping at all to Chang’an. Zhangsun Wuji and Yuchi Jingde were already waiting respectfully along the route they were taking; they even prepared a carriage.
Zhangsun Wuji stared at Kou Zhong’s full-bearded fake face; he sighed and said, “Although fully aware that the face is fake, Wuji still cannot see any flaw. It is indeed frighteningly admirable.”
Astonished, Kou Zhong said, “You guys saw us returning empty handed, but did not seem to be surprised the slightest bit? You even have time to take note of other things.”
Yuchi Jingde smiled and said, “It’s because Lei Xiansheng has been rescued back by Ziling Xiong. This moment he is resting in a safe place.”
Kou Zhong was overjoyed at the unexpected good news; not quite believing, he shrieked and said, “Ha! Unexpectedly there is such thing?”
Li Jing, husband and wife, did not believe their ears either.
Zhangsun Wiji said, “This is not a good place to talk. Shao Shuai, please get on the carriage.”
Stunned, Kou Zhong asked, “Where are we going?”
Yuchi Jingde said, “Qin Wang wanted to see Shao Shuai. Ziling Xiong is already there.”
Zhangsun Wuji added, “Mo Shen Yi went missing for no reason for many sichen, Qin Wang already sent men to notify the Sha Family, telling them that he wanted to invite Shen Yi to stay at the Qin Wang Mansion as a guest. If Shao Shuai can stop by at the Qin Wang Mansion, you can dispel other people’s doubt even more.”
Although Kou Zhong did not want to see Li Shimin, but under the circumstances, there was no other alternative; he had to fly off the horse and change to ride on the carriage instead. Before the city gate was closed, he returned to the dangerous place of Chang’an, even drove straight toward the Heavenly Policy Mansion.
※ ※ ※
Inside a secret chamber in the Heavenly Policy Mansion, other than Li Shimin, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, Du Ruhui, Li Jing, Hong Funu, Zhangsun Wuji and Yuchi Jingde were also in attendance.
Finished listening to the complicated process that Xu Ziling had to go through to rescue Lei Jiuzhi back, Kou Zhong spoke with bitter thoughts, “Who is this man with the umbrella? After Lei LaoGe wakes up, I need to ask him, perhaps as the water recedes, the rocks appear.”
Du Ruhui shook his head and said, “Since this man knows how to use such a shocking torture method, his ability, wisdom, and martial art skill must be high, naturally he is not one to talk easily. The most terrifying thing is that he is prudent and very careful; he was able to anticipate the possibility of Lei Xiansheng might be rescued. This kind of man definitely would not let Lei Xiansheng see his true identity, so much so that even his voice might be fake.”
Xu Ziling said, “If I hear him speak again, I will immediately recognize him.”
Everybody nodded in agreement, because when that man was talking with Zhao Deyan and the others, he did not know that someone was eavesdropping on the side.
The murderous intent in Yuchi Jingde’s pair of eyes flaring greatly, he spoke heavily, “Du Yan has the impertinence to be disloyal and did not uphold justice toward Qin Wang, I will make him die without intact corpse.”
Li Shimin calmly said, “Du Yan is just an insignificant pawn, all the more important affairs of the Heavenly Policy Mansion, he did not have access to hear, yet Taizi Mansion knows all of our important secret. Therefore, the mole ought to be a higher-level figure. We must avoid acting blindly without thinking, beating the grass to scare the snake – at all cost.”
Xu Ziling said, “Qin Wang is associating with us like this, would the enemy use this as a pretext to strike Qin Wang?”
Li Shimin laughed and said, “The present situation is freaky and bizarre. In order to obtain the Demonic Emperor Relics, various heretics of the demonic school might cover up a thousand sides and a hundred schemes on our behalf. Instead, it is Shao Shuai staying over here the entire evening that will be difficult to dispel doubts in Taizi’s heart.”
Turning to Xu Ziling, he said, “We met as peers of the same generation, it would be more pleasing to the ear if Ziling Xiong simply address me as Shimin Xiong.”
Xu Ziling only smiled wryly in response, because even he was unclear whether Li Shimin could be considered a friend, or an enemy.
Li Shimin went on, “Even if someone informed against me, I don’t care. Today Fu Huang summoned me for a secret talk, telling me that ‘Ba Dao’ Yue Shan gave him serious warning, Yang WenGan and Yang Xuyan, with great support from various demonic school powers, want to restore the old dynasty. I must deal with it seriously. If I could find proof, we could move one step ahead to strike and break down Yang WenGan, and then Taizi and Qi Wang will not be able to avoid blame either.”
Hearing this, all the Heavenly Policy Mansion generals, none did not have their countenance turning happy, knowing that Li Yuan has moved real fire toward Jiancheng and Yuanji for showing the wolf into the house, for moving recklessly and acting rashly. No wonder Li Shimin had less misgiving.
Li Jing said, “Since we know the whereabouts of the firearms, we could track this clues, to follow the vine to get to the melon, to catch both the people and the stolen goods, then Yang WenGan won’t be able to deny.”
Hong Funu said, “If we could prove that Jiancheng Taizi is directly involved in this matter, it would be even more ideal.”
Li Shimin revealed a hint of bitter smile, but did not say anything. Turning to Kou Zhong, he asked, “Has Shao Shuai dispel the idea of unearthing the hidden treasure?”
Kou Zhong replied with a wry smile, “Now does not seem to be the best time to discuss this issue!”
This was Kou Zhong once again rejecting Li Shimin’s ‘proposal of collaboration’.
Hong Funu revealed a displeased expression, but Li Jing signaled her with his eyes not to speak.
The murderous intent in Yuchi Jingde and Zhangsun Wuji’s four eyes was flashing. On the contrary, Li Shimin did not seem to care; he laughed and said, “Before the hidden treasure is unearthed, we are still friends who fight side-by-side, right?”
Kou Zhong smiled and said, “Even if we meet in the battleground, at the bottom of it we are still friends. I sincerely wish Shimin Xiong will reach the Taizi position, and drive away the Tujue ghosts and the crafty and evil demonic school from Chang’an.”