I am in the USA :)
Originally Posted by ycb5959
Finished a new chapter just before the holiday ends.:D
Book 2 Chapter 8 The Pink Matriarch
By the time they clumsily pulled the sail up, the battling ships had already shrunk to distant dots at the horizon.
As a gust of strong sea wind blew up, the sail boat shot forth at its full speed.
Lying on the bags of salt they had lost and reclaimed, Kou Zhong murmured gibberish to himself, completely overwhelmed with joy.
The one steering the boat was Xu Ziling, who all of a sudden yelled :"We're approaching the shore!"
Kou Zhong was shocked and immediately sprung up. Before his eyes, the black coastline was broadening quickly. "Can't we slow it down?" He asked.
"No, I can't!"Xu Ziling yelled back.
The tides were rising. Coupled with the night wind that blew towards the land, their boat were made totally out of control like a horse without its reins.
Kou Zhong pointed towards what seemed like a sandy beach and said :"Let's steer it that way."
Xu Ziling pulled the rudder a little to angled it at the beach.
For a brief moment Kou Zhong cheered at the success but soon his countenance changed :"Oh NO!" Xu Ziling was also watching with his mouth wide-opened. Under the moonlight, what they saw were reef and rocks popping out of the water. They had been extremely lucky not having sunk the boat this far.
Terrible grating noise were heard, and then the entire boat was tilted to the right. The two boys lost balance and both fell into the sea.
The boat crushed on a large reef and fell apart, sinking into the sea together with all the salt bags.
They tried their best crawling towards the shallower beach, with their lower body still submerged, being washed by the tidal waves that kept pouring up.
Exhausted, they crouched on the sands and couldn't stop panting.
The accident had rendered them with blood and wounds all over their bodies, and their weapons were also lost during the landing.
Yet the physical pain they suffered was nothing compared to the loss of their salt. They had been fighting desperately, all for these salt bags that were too meaningful to be lost.
Yet they've finally lost them.What's left when salt meets water?
Xu Ziling spat out a mixture of sea water and his own blood, saying :"I never know sea water could taste that bad."
Kou Zhong was laughing bitterly :"No one ask you to drink it! Hah, luckily I still have two money sacks on me! Oh no!"
Xu Ziling groaned :"Don't tell me you've lost them too!"
"You're right! But don't blame me for this, I'll let you keep the money next time."Kou Zhong said with a apologetic face.
Xu Ziling took a glance at him and asked :"Are you hungry, Zhong Shao? It seemed we had really improved our physiques. Haven't eaten for a full day plus one night, I didn't feel any hungrier."
Kou Zhong grunted :"Forgot about the hunger already! I'm almost sucked out of energy."Finishing this, he buried his face in the sand.
Soon Xu Ziling also felt dizzy and fell asleep in the end
Suddenly he sensed someone was slapping his face, then he heard Kou Zhong calling :"Thanks heaven! We were saved!"
Awaken, Xu Ziling opened his eyes and found the sun was already high up in the sky.
As he crawled up clumsily, the scene struck him dumb.
The tides had fallen, revealing a hundred zhang wide sea floor, where black rocks lied across the field.
Their salt bags and the wreckage were scattered on the rocks, which is indeed striking.
Kou Zhong was running towards the nearest bag.
Surging joy welled up within Xu Ziling as he also sprung up. Just then did he found the wounds last night had mostly healed themselves. Despite being a little hungry, he was full of energy now.
Kou Zhong was already shouting like mad :"Thanks heaven! The salt just became salt chunks but didn't melt away!"
Xu Ziling looked around and found something was glittering in the small gaps between rocks. He overjoyed and rushed towards it, as expected he found the long sword and the short halberd a few yards away.
Meanwhile Kou Zhong was seaching for their money sacks. With much effort he found one, but the other was nowhere to be seen. When he opened it and saw more than 5 taels of silver inside, he could not help but thank gods.
They feared that the tides might rise again, so together they carried the salt bags towards a higher ground. It wasn't until dusk when they finally finished collecting all forty-eight bags.
By then the hunger had consumed they senses. Luckily they found some fruits in the nearby forests to fill their stomachs.
When they walked back to the beach, the tides were rising again. Looking at the waves that were continuously smashing onto the rocks, both boys felt kind of relieved.
Facing off the dark and ominous sea, they feared their enemies might arrive at any time. They found a safe location in the forest and transported all the salt bags there, covered them with tree leaves before snuggling each other to sleep.
Deep inside they had the feeling of returning to the valley where Fu Junchuo died. Over the night, they had to use internal energy to fend off the cold.
Sometime around the midnight, there were sounds of unusual movements coming from the beach.
Alerted, the two hid behind a giant rock with weapons in their hands, peeping steathily at the beach.
Two yachts were moored there, while ten odd strong men with torches were carefully examining the wreckage that had been washed onto the shore.
Eight more medium-sized ships were floating at the sea beyond, yet they weren't those from the Seasand Gang.
Kou Zhong whispered :"Look, that girl's beauty can match up to our mum's!"
Xu Ziling also saw the girl. She was wearing a blue warrior suit with a white cloak behind her back. Any man would feel difficult to breathe just looking at her staggering beauty.
It was the first time he saw a girl with that kind of charisma.
Kou Zhong swallowed down a mouthful of saliva and said :"If I could spend a night with her, I would willingly give up three days of my life."
Xu Ziling cannot help and broke out laughing at this comment. He reacted to cover up his mouth as quickly as possible, yet the girl was definitely an expert among experts. Even at a distance of over twenty Zhang, this couldn't escape her ears. She turned abruptly towards their direction, scaring the two to cuddle behind the rock.
After a while, they were a little relieved as there were no more sounds of activities coming. Kou Zhong murmured :"This ***** may even match our mum's martial skills, but she was still outsmarted by us."
Just as he finished speaking, a melodic voice rose calmly from above them :"Do you really think you have outsmarted me?"
Almost frightened to death, the two boys immediately rolled down to the end of the slope and sprung up. They casted out their weapons, pretending to be calm while having little confidence inside.
Since they learned the sabreplay from Li Jing, only Xu Ziling had fought an enemy with weapon, and that time he even lost Li Jing's precious sabre easily.
The lack of experience undoubtedly would make them unconfident in real battles.
The girl sat leisurely on the rock with a lantern beside her. Illuminated by the lantern, a part of her alluring body seemed to be emitting wondrous rays by itself, adding up some divine purity to her mysterious beauty.
The blue warrior suit together with the white cloak also made her even more graceful.
Staring coldly at them, the girl said :"I wonder how you two incompetent boys could possibly snatched the Art of Immortallity just under Yuwen Huaji's nose, and later setback Du Fuwei soundly. Now even Seasand Gang were made muddleheaded by you. Tell me, why is the goddess of fortune always there to protect you? "
Hearing this they glared at each other speechless.
How could this girl possibly know all these? Kou Zhong embarrassedly lay down his short halberd. Making up a serious expression, he asked :"Who are you and where are you from, milady? Why are you so familiar with our business as if they were your own?"
The girl snorted and said :"Didn't you just call me *****? Now it's ‘lady'. You changed you attitude so easily, one could tell you're just an dishonorable man."
"You called this dishonourable?"Kou Zhong immediately struck back angrily, "Even if you're thinking of killing someone, you still have to pretend to be polite on the outside. Everyone in this world is more or less untrue to what he really thinks. How much better you...lady is better than me?"
Xu Ziling had rarely seen Kou Zhong make such an angry statement and was struck dumb.
Sizing him up for quite a while, the girl finally chuckled :"You do have some interesting temperament. But be warned, killing is just like chopping vegetables to me, I'll not hesitate if you irritate me."
Xu Ziling had gained back his composure. "If you want to fight just fight! What kind of bullshit you're talking."He said.
Puffing up his chest Kou Zhong said :"If you really have the guts, then don't call for help. Just fight us on yourself alone."
The girl burst out laughing happily. "Look at you! Your clothes are barely wearable and your bodies are full of wounds, now you even think you could bully me easily? You little imps, really hilarious."
"What do you really want? If you don't want to fight then we'll go to sleep."Xu Ziling said.
The girl of course saw through their fake confidence. She drew out a shiny golden flute about four feet long and placed it under her lips, sending out a peaceful sound wave into their ears.
Then she put down the flute. Watching at the flickering flame in the lantern, she said softly :"Why being so hostile against me? I actually battled the Seasand Gang just to seek an opportunity for us to cooperate."
They exchanged a few glances and both felt kind of surprised.
Kou Zhong recovered from the sweet surprise sooner and sat down on another rock, nodding :"Then my lady please show us your offers and let's see if we could reach a deal?"
The girl didn't turn to face him at all. She still spoke as if she's the only audience :"Should I teach these lads a few lessons, to make them more obedient?"
Kou Zhong immediately sprung up and posed the first move of Bloody Battle Sabreplay - Two Army Face Off.
The girl suddenly turned to face them with a cold expression. She gazed at them for a moment before saying :"Do you know why I bothered to spend such a long time talking to you? Because I really have high regards for you, I wish you could join my gang, and become the first and the last of my disciples."
They were so shocked that they didn't know how to reply, instead they just called out simultaneously :"Oh dear!"
Things had truly turned out the unexpected way. This pretty girl who was only three or four years older would actually want them to be her disciples?
This Pink Matriarch - Yun Yuzhen spoke indifferently :"Why so surprised? Age doesn't matter, whoever have superior skills is of course your senior. You don't even know the right way to hold a weapon."
Xu Ziling spouted :"A way for holding the weapon?"
Yun Yuzhen answered annoyingly :"Of course! You're clutching the sword too hard. Obviously no one has taught you the trick of using a sword is to hold it lightly and steadily."
Kou Zhong didn't want to be looked down upon, so he countered :"Didn't you just say we are incompetent? Why all of a sudden you start praising us. Are you just eyeing for Yang's Treasure and the Art of Immortality? When we become your disciples, we would be oblige to get you the treasure and the tome."
Yun Yuzhen stared at him again for quite some time before revealing a smile. "If I ever plotted for those two things, may I die a horrible death."She sworn.
She chuckled again, saying :"Maybe you didn't know yet, but when Du Fuwei returned to Liyang losing traces of you, he actually laughed. Someone asked why, and he commented that you're the most talented martial learners he ever met. He had been fond of your talents but now he only wanted to kill you since you ran away."
Their faces began to heat up like being burned.
The compliments, when spoken from this beautiful girl, were much more embarrassing than they actually were.
Feeling awkward, Xu Ziling asked :"How do you even know what Du Fuwei commented?"
Yun Yuzhen said :"That's not of your concern. Besides Dou Jiande and Li Mi, few people in this land rivals Du Fuwei's insight. So I also want to recruit you as my disciples. However, it all depends on your decisions. But if you chose unwisely, when Seasand Gang finds you, don't blame that nobody would come to rescue."Then her eyes shot out cold blaze and continued, "The Art of Immortality is just some Taoism propaganda fooling people, while Yang's Treasure Vault only appeals to those who dream of being emperor. I have no interests in either of these."
"If you want to be our mentor, you'd better show us your prowess. Otherwise if you lose to our sword and halberd formation, how can you hold up your dignity as our mentor?"Kou Zhong mocked.
"Of all your words only these make senses."Yun Yuzhen agreed.
The two knew she was about to strike, so both paid all their attention to watched carefully.
They grew up in the underworld and had known better than anyone else that everything has a price. A beauty of such status wanting them to be disciples surely meant there was a plot hidden behind, just that they couldn't fathom it out yet.
With the lantern in her left hand and the flute on her right, Yun Yuzhen flew up slowly from the rock and glided atop their heads like a bird, her cloak fluttering behind.
How could they expect such a move? Being afraid they would hurt her legs if they kept swinging the weapons at her, the two boys hurriedly tumbled sideways. Then each of their heads served as a stepping stone for her.
Yun Yuzhen landed behind them and giggled. "Disciples, now are you convinced?"
Their faces had grown red. Exchanging glances, they attacked from both sides.
Now that they knew she was a martial expert, they would attack mercilessly with their full might.
Xu Ziling wanted to use the third move in the sabreplay "Light Cavalry Charges". When used with a sabre, he would draw it from his waist and make a faked move towards the enemy's chest. If his opponent retreat then he would bend to slash from the side. Yet with a sword this move would completely lose its point. So he kept the same gait but instead aimed the sword at her shoulder, thrusting it forth like lightening strikes.
Kou Zhong had no idea how to use a halberd, which differenced a lot more from a sabre. He just altered the second move "Exposed by Beacon Fire" a bit, by utilizing the force of twisting his waist, he swung it at her side.
Yun Yuzhen chuckled and lifted the lantern in her left hand, while the flute in her right hand tapped on the end of Xu Ziling's sword lightly. The white cloak behind flew forth and met with Kou Zhong's halberd.
Each boy felt a wave of soft yet unstoppable current of energy was sent through their weapon and extended beyond their arms via the channels. They felt like being struck by electric shocks and stumbled back, almost losing grip on their weapons.
But Yun Yuzhen was not a bit less amazed.
Originally she wished to incapacitate them just by sending her Qi into several main acupoints, yet the current of Qi couldn't go deeper once it reached their shoulders. The Qi sent into Xu Ziling's body was neutralized leaving no traces, while Kou Zhong repelled it back aggressively.
The three split apart and watched at each other in surprise.
Frowning her eyebrows Yun Yuzhen muttered :"If you did learn martial arts from Luosha girl, you must have similar internal energy. Why there are such differences now? Tell me honestly."
Kou Zhong laughed and said :"Now you know we have formidable internal energy, do you, beautiful mentor?"
Xu Ziling also laughed :"We're talented martial learners, of course we have special inventions."
Realizing she had no intentions to harm them, they were delighted and wanted for more.
Just to watch her elegant moves would be pleasant enough.
Figuring that her prestige was still not established, Yun Yuzhen hardened her resolve and blinked to Kou Zhong's left, thrusting her flute at his face.
Even though Kou Zhong could clearly see her movements, and he knew in his mind how to block every one of them, however his body had reacted just a bit slower. When he raised up the halberd, his nose were already hit, at the same moment a sidekick also landed on his leg. Kou Zhong immediately fell back, groaning miserably.
Xu Ziling rushed forth to help. He had brandished the sword soundly to protect his upper body, yet Yun Yuzhen's flute easily penetrated his sword wall which he considered inpenetratable and prodded straight at the center of his forehead.
As if being struck by lightening, Xu Ziling was thrown back on the ground.
Looking down at the boys, who were unable to crawl up for some time, she said gently :"Somehow you've learned this sabreplay emphasizing its attacking moves, yet you don't understand, it will be less powerful if you aren't using it with a reckless killing mind."
They finally had the strength to get up with much effort, but their bodies were still numb, unable to fight again. They were secretly admiring her knowledge, because Li Jing had spoken the same.
On the other side Yun Yuzhen was also surprised at how quickly they were able to get up, as she had greatly strengthened the energy used in her previous attacks.
Of course she had no intentions to recruit them as disciples at the beginning. Instead, she just wanted to use them for an important mission. She had to bribe them in as the mission would required them to cooperate willingly. However at this point, she was a little tempted by the thought to actually have them as disciples. If they could successfully complete the mission, and given some time, they would certainly become her powerful aids.
Kou Zhong sighed and said :"We respect females a lot, so how could we harden our hearts to bully you..."
Annoyed, Yun Yuzhen scolded :"How dare you spout words like that! Are you asking for beat?"
Xu Ziling hurriedly amended :"Calm down. As much as you want us as disciples, you have to ask our opinions. Now we still have some unfinished business, let's discuss the possibilities in the future, shall we?"
Yun Yuzhen's jade face became frosty for a moment before it turned into a smile. Quite unexpectingly, she said :"Well then! Just take your time to consider my offer."
In a blink of an eye, she had flew back to the giant rock. "The Seasand Gang will hunt you down at all costs, take good care of yourselves." She spoke gently.
Then with a giggling she descended and vanished behind the rock.
The two looked at each other, both felt somewhat disappointed about her departure.
Suddenly Yun Yuzhen reappeared. As they got secretly delighted again, she lectured them like it was between a mentor and her disciples :"You'd better completely destroy the traces on the beach, and make it so that one would think you had left here long ago. Hide yourselves well for one or two months, otherwise you may not escape Seasand Gang's encirclement." Finishing this, she finally left.
Thanks for the translation!!!!
Please more more more!! lol
Thanks. Even tho I have read the manga, I prefer the "gentle" narration rather than the "pow!, zow! bang!" of the manga version. Enjoyed the translation so far!
Finished another chapter. Here you go:)
Book 2 Chapter 9 First Glimpse into the Mysteries
When Yun Yuzhen left with her men, it was almost dawn. The two boys returned to the piles of salt bags with their depleted bodies and fell into a deep slumber.
They slept till the afternoon, when some noises coming from the beach awoke them.
Crawling out of their hide-out, they saw ten odd yachts at the beach, and the most eye-catching figures were Han Gaitian and the pretty nun. They were terrified and hurriedly retreated to the forests.
Thanks to Yun Yuzhen's warnings, or else they would've been caught with no doubt.
Now they were too afraid to even go picking fruits, although no more noise of activities could be heard, they still hid in the secret place just for safety.
A sudden rain came by the evening. Luckily they were able to put up a tent with tree branches and mud mixing grass shoots, which sheltered them from the heavy rain. The tiny raindrops that got past was at least bearable.
Kou Zhong happily said :"This rain is just in time to clear all the traces we left on the ground. Then Han Pudi would definitely believe we had gone.”
Xu Ziling was amused. "Gaitian and Pudi, a wonderful nickname like Yuwen Huagu."
Kou Zhong reached out to pull the beard on Xu Ziling’s face, which had grown to half an inch long. He joked :"Xiao Ling you're more like a man now, your beards are just a little shorter than mine. Shall I clear them up with my delicate hands and let you regain your smooth face.”
Xu Ziling pushed away his hand and said :"When our beards grow to a point that we can't even recognize ourselves, it'll be the perfect time for us to pick up the salt business again. Understand?"
Kou Zhong slapped on his own lap in agreement. But then he began worrying :"Are we really that weak? I knew in my mind I could block our beautiful mentor's attacks without any problems, but my arms and legs were not listening to my will."
Xu Ziling muttered :"I've also thought over this. In my opinion, we've learned our internal energy from the Art of Immortality, yet we couldn't utilize it in our moves. Moreover, each kind of weapons has its own nature, we must comprehend that before we can master it."
Kou Zhong raised up his thumb and said :"Good point, mate. You actually have the same opinion as I do, which means you're also a genius like I am."
Chatting and laughing they got past the day. When night fell, they slipped out and after making sure the Seasand Gang had gone away completely, they began searching for fruits with their night vision.
After that they practiced one on one combat on the beach. Gradually they got so excited that they threw away their clothes, leaving only shorts on, and continued to fight in the tidal waves. Only when Xu Ziling scratched Kou Zhong slightly on the arm did they stopped.
Lying on the beach, they all felt kind of uninspired. Although they had fought with full attention, the Qi inside their bodies still lagged behind their moves. They had not gained anything groundbreaking apart from becoming a little more skillful with the weapons.
After some time, they just fell asleep.
When Xu Ziling woke up, he heard the birds chirping.
He opened his eyes and looked up. A seagull was hovering above the sea in a very elegant and natural manner. To his surprise, the seagull suddenly glided down and dived into the sea. When it shot out of the water again it already had a struggling fish in its claws.
Xu Ziling's mind sparkled and he reached to grab Kou Zhong, "I understand it now!"
But Kou Zhong was not there anymore. He looked around and Kou Zhong was nowhere to be seen.
Terrified, Xu Ziling sprung up and called out :"Kou Zhong!”
A figure popped out from the sea, and it turned out to be no one but Kou Zhong. He was holding the sword in one hand and a fish in another. Delighted, he yelled :"We won't have to chew any more of those damn fruits tonight!"
Not answering him at all, Xu Ziling lifted his short halberd and ran towards Kou Zhong, yelling :"Watch my attack!"
Kou Zhong laughed swinging his sword :"Little thief you're just asking for death!”
The sight of the seagull gliding, and the angle and the curve of it diving into the sea filled up Xu Ziling's mind and his hand worked in a perfect sync. He could now totally see through Kou Zhong's foot work and his move. Xu Ziling gave out a long roar and thrust the halberd through the air towards its target, cutting out a curve which mimics that of a seagull diving.
Something wonderful happened at this particular second.
His left feet warmed up as his right feet freezes down, in an opposite way when he practiced his internal energy.
And there were more than that. This time the two processes happened simultaneously, while before the heat always came first.
The two Qi currents surged up from the Yongquan acupoint, passing through Yin channel at the legs and reached the Life acupoint. Then through Chong channel, they finally converged below the heart. The combined Qi continued to flow past Dai channel, all in a natural manner, which Xu Ziling had no part in pushing it.
With a pathetic groan, Kou Zhong's hand broke open and his sword was struck out of his hand, falling behind him.
They both were shocked.
By then the Qi in Xu Ziling's body had circulated back through the original path and dissipated completely.
Kou Zhong threw away the fish he just caught, stroking on his aching hand and asked :"What the hell was that?"
Xu Ziling dropped himself in the water and cheered :"I got it! What they said were all correct. The Art of Immortality is not something that directly teaches you martial techniques. But it contains the secret about confining this world’s very nature within oneself. I heard someone said before, that the human body itself is a tiny universe. And the outer world is a larger universe. When you have understood the natural connection between them, they will combine as one and empower you, like it just enpowered my attack.”
What he said now may only be interpreted accurately if Elder Guangcheng live again.
Any other martial experts would probably be dumbfounded at these words.
Actually this is the ultimate goal that every martial practicer dream of: to unify the man and the universe. Xu Ziling just spouted out his inspirations, but little did he know, it was these words that would mark the starting stone for their future adventures to become unrivaled martial experts.
Few men in this world had ever come to these findings themselves. Of course that's because no one ever practiced the Art of Immortality the way they did.
Xu Ziling related the seagull scene he saw just now.
Kou Zhong was encouraged and picked up his sword again. "Try it again. You're only allowed to aim at my sword."
Xu Ziling agreed and picked his halberd. Then he struck like what he just did a few moments ago.
Kou Zhong deflected the attack effortlessly.
Confused, Xu Ziling muttered :"Why doesn't it work this time?"
Kou Zhong said :"Go back to the beach and rushed here like you just did. Maybe it's because you haven't got a run up."
Xu Ziling thought it might be the case, so he returned and tried again. Yet it didn’t work. No matter how many times he tried, he still cannot get close to that wondrous attack.
In the end, they just lied on the beach, feeling defeated. Kou Zhong punched on the sandy beach and muttered :"What's the problem?"
Something came to Xu Ziling's mind and he said :"That day when brother Li was badly wounded, and you were going out to look for a mule cart. I started practicing brother Li's sabreplay out of boredom. Then sister Susu stopped me, because she was shocked by the burning waves my blade send out. But after that, when I face the enemies, there were no burning waves. I even lost the sabre in the first clash with the enemie's weapon. If we could figure out why, it would certainly help us understand this problem.”
Inspired, Kou Zhong sat up and asked :"When you practiced sabreplay then, what were you thinking?"
Xu Ziling tried to recall his memories. Slowly he said :"Nothing. I did’t have any specific thoughts; I only wanted to better my sabreplay so that I can protect sister and brother Li from any harm.”
Kou Zhong trembled. "I understand now. That is what mom said. To forget everything inside and outside, to enter a state between consciousness and unconsciousness. When you struck me earlier, you didn't expect it to be such a powerful attack, therefore you did it. When you intentionally tried that later, you failed."
Yet it was easier said than done. In the following ten odd days, they practiced from dawn towards dusk, but they still couldn't reproduce the said effects and that godsend might attack.
They were still boys after all, being adjusted to the casual life style back in Yangzhou. After that they stopped practicing and just entertained everyday by hunting and catching fish in the sea, enjoying the freedom at their will.
When they returned from the sea today, Kou Zhong said :"Did you notice the way fish dodging? They stayed still and with a twist of tail, they could escape in any unimagined angle. If we could learn something from them, even our beautiful mentor would have a hard time hitting us.”
Inspired, Xu Ziling said :"I haven't thought of this actually. Come, let's go and learn from the fishes!"
As time went by, they played and practiced martial arts during daily activities. Gradually they regain the habits being in the good old valley, and they talked less and less.
When Kou Zhong practiced Qi, he wandered around the beach; While Xu Ziling lied still.
Two months just went by. One day they were chasing a big fish in the sea, Kou Zhong stabbed it with the sword but missed it, yet the fish was like hit by lightening and was killed. There were no visible wounds on its body either. When they sliced open it, they saw its intestines exploded.
They were surprised and overjoyed for a while, and they practiced even harder.
Xu Ziling prefered to mimic the birds and watch the eagles when they glide to chase the seagulls.
Kou Zhong learned from all kinds of fish. He also liked to watch at crabs, studying the way they dodge and attack. They were completely immersed.
When they dined together, they exchanged their findings and moves. They created more moves based on the ten sabre moves to better suit their own combat style. However they still were unable to reproduce the wondrous attack. They were satisfied nevertheless, as they now felt a little more confident about their skills.
When they woke up this morning and went to the beach, they found a basket had been laid there. There were two suits of winter clothes inside. On the sandy beach, the characters read :"When moon rises tonight, we shall meet here. Don't forget to put on your clothes. Your mentor."
Only then did they realize their clothes were tattered. Looking at each other, they felt somewhat happy while couldn’t help worrying.
What on earth does she want from them?
Yun Yuzhen came that night, clad in a snow white warrior suit gilded with a gold lining. Her hair was tressed like a man with a piece of yellow cloth. She looked somewhat handsome this way, while being drop-dead gorgeous.
Like last time, she carried a tiny lantern in her hand and the flute behind her back. She ordered them to sit cross-legged and laid the lantern before them. After sizing them up for a while, she asked :"What have happened to you in these two months? You grew taller and looked more like fit men. The most impressed thing is your composure were totally different than before, and from your eyes I could tell you had improve your internal energy a lot.“
Kou Zhong stroke on his densely packed beards all over his face and smiled:"All thanks to these beards, now I look stronger and more manly.”
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong met each other every day, therefore they wouldn't notice an abrupt change in appearances. But from Yun Yuzhen's view, the changes really amazed her.
They were much different in their appearances and composure.
Xu Ziling is taller and slimmer. He had the delicacy that Kou Zhong lacked, but Kou Zhong's wildness had made him more stalwart than his peer.
In terms of physiques, Kou Zhong was one inch shorter than Xu Ziling, but he had a broader shoulder and a thicker back, which made him more imposing than Xu Ziling.
While Xu Ziling has delicate looks resembling that of a noble man, Kou Zhong's thick elbrow and square face made him more like a barbarian.
Being totally unlike each other, yet both of them could be consider attractive in some way.
Yun Yuzhen was feeling awkward inside. She wondered why she was paying so much attention to their looks this time. This thought abruptly made her face blushed. "I've sent men occasionally to have an eye on you, they always came back reporting that you played all the time on the beach. How come you had improved your internal energy without even practicing it?" She asked, in order to cover her embarrasses.
Xu Ziling shrugged and said :"We just practiced while playing. It's been two months and we've grown bored staying here, do you have any good suggestions, beautiful mentor?"
Yun Yuzhen gladly said :"You are finally willing to regard me as your mentor."
Kou Zhong laughed and explained :"Miss Yun please do not misunderstand, although we called you beautiful mentor, it's just another nick name like Yuwen Huagu and Han Pudi that we came up with, and it’s specifically for you."
Yun Yuzhen didn't know whether to get angry or not, so she just smiled and said :"You naughty imps! Do you really think I want to have you as my disciples? Just because you two may help me in the future, so I treat you well."
They exchanged a look and both smiled knowingly.
Yun Yuzhen was annoyed and said angrily :"Aren't you afraid? I can disable your internal energy and beat you to wherever you came from. Much better than watching at the disgusting you.”
Kou Zhong moved forward and laughed :"Beautiful mentor can't be that cruel! Hey, just speak out what you want, if you pay us well and it's easy-peasy, we're glad to help!"
Yun Yuzhen shot an angry gaze at him and sighed. "You pathetic worms are really ignorant of the pending doom. Now you're wanted by several bands of people, and if you're caught somehow, they'll take precautions and it'll be impossible for you to escape again. If you're really know the situations then you should definitely beg for my protection."
She continued:"If I have any intention to harm you, that would be the easiest thing ever. I could just spread the information of your whereabouts, and you'll have a hard time finding a shelter then.”
Xu Ziling was puzzled. "You processed much better martial arts than us, and you have so many men working for you. Why us?" He asked.
Yun Yuzhen said :"Do you know Dongming Sect?"
They were struck speechless for a while and both shook their heads.
Yun Yuzhen laughed :"I am just testing you to see if you're honest to me. In fact you've met them, you even jumped into the sea from their flagship. The same night, you sabotaged the Seasand gang's plan to ambush them. Did I get anything wrong?"
They were startled by her words.
Kou Zhong took a deep breath before saying: "It appears you have employed spies in Seasand Gang."
Yun Yuzhen said calmly :"To tell you the truth, every gang out there will need a huge budget. Take Seasand Gang and Waterdragon Gang for example, they rely primarily on smuggling salt. And out of the top eight gangs, Baling Gang, based at Dongting Lake is the most notorious. They trade women for brothels, which is the most profitable business of all."
Xu Ziling muttered :"Nobody in the martial world would intervene? How could they tolerate such monstrous acts and a gang like that?"
Yun Yuzhen explained, impatiently :"In this chaotic land, every gang must have its own background supporter, or else they will get overthrown, sooner or later. Behind Seasand Gang there is Yuwen Clan, Waterdragon Gang is just a lapdog of Song Clan. Baling Gang's supporter is even more powerful, that being the emperor himself."
They were speechless, coming to realize why everyone had risen up and turned against the throne.
Kou Zhong took in another deep breath and asked :"So who is your big boss, beautiful mentor?"
Yun Yuzhen's lips curled into a proud smile. "We're on our own. What we do is selling first-hand intelligence. But don't think I'm selling it to anyone. I won't sell intelligence to anyone who’s been deemed unworthy by me, no matter how big they pay."
Xu Ziling was dumbfounded. "Intelligence can be sold to make money, like cargo?"
Kou Zhong exclaimed :"No wonder you know so much about us. Turns out you make a living on gathering information."
Yun Yuzhen said :"Knowing yourself and your enemy is key to winning every battle. Now the insurgences are never before seen. Whoever managed to acquire the army distributions as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents would surely become a true contender to the throne. And so the business of intelligence trading was born. My gang would not have survived without this."
Xu Ziling grew curious and asked:"If you really make a living on intelligence trading, how come you're not even interested in the whereabouts of Art of Immortality and Yang's treasure?"
Yun Yuzhen replied indifferently:"That's a different story. The Art of Immortality may be a Taoism treasure and precious to many cultivators, yet this has nothing to do with conquering the nation. As for Yang's Treasure, I'm quite certain that the Luosha girl didn't tell you. Otherwise you greedy mustards wouldn't have to steal salt to make money. Hah! Only those idiots like Han Pudi would be stupid enough to believe Yang's Treasure is in Yangzhou."
Kou Zhong :"Beautiful mentor you're really formidable, why not marry the two of …"
Pak! Yun Yuzhen gave him a slap on the face and said coldly :"Even if I'm not in a relationship, I wouldn't get to love you two immature kids."
Stroking on his cheek, Kou Zhong chuckled :"Oh so mentor you already have someone in your mind." Yun Yuzhen was not a bit moved. "It's none of your business."
Xu Ziling suddenly said :"You're actually bullying us. When in the future we gain superior martial skills, you'll know what we feel now."
Yun Yuzhen smiled and said :"I'm looking forward to that day! Okay, now the real deal. You accomplish the job for me and I'll let you go. Or else wherever you go, I'll spread the news about you. See how you fare when Yuwen Huagu , Han Pudi or Du Fuwei and the likes finds you?”
Kou Zhong smiled wryly :”This sounds like threatening us.”
Yun Yuzhen said softly :”Threatening aside, I do have some gifts for you which you would feel difficult to turn down. I will teach you a special light body technique, which will help you in the future when you’re trying to run from your enemies. Gee, I must have owed you two so terribly in my former life, that I have to willingly teach you one of my most outstanding martial techniques. And all that is without you recognizing me as your mentor.”
The deal sounds appealing to them. They would even be willing to give up three years of their lives, just for being able to fly atop house roofs.
Kou Zhong immediately made up a smile and said :”So be it, let’s just officially recognize you as our beautiful mentor.”
Xu Ziling was a man who values more of his principals. “We wouldn’t do anything that go against humanity, like murdering or raising fire.”He said.
Yun Yuzhen said impatiently :”You have the guts to do that? Thieves once, thieves forever. What good do you do if I don’t need you to steal that thing for me?”
They were rather surprised. If it was just stealing things, wasn’t she herself much more capable then? Looking up at the darkening sky, Yun Yuzhen said :”Don’t ask too much, of course there is a reason for that. After you get what I need, I will also pay each of you ten taels of gold. If you’re afraid of being killed, they are more than enough for you to live in seclusion for the rest of your lives. Now I will teach you the mental menthod. Next month I will come here to meet you again, then I will let you know what I want you to steal for me.”
Being threatened and tempted so horribly, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling gave in and agreed “happily”.
Yun Yuzhen’s jade face finally wore up her sweet smiles. She flew several winks at them, before saying seriously :”This light body method was invented by myself, after combining the strengths from a few others. It’s known as Birdy Style, and it’s earned a name as one of “The Most Original Skills” in the martial world, so don’t think I’m using some lowly tricks to fool you.”
“The most original skills?”Xu Ziling asked in surprise.
Yun Yuzhen said :”I have no time to explain. But to convince you, Du Fuwei’s Qiankun Sleeves and Yuwen Huaji’s Mysterious Icy Energy are two of those.”
She paused for a second and said :”Speaking of light body methods, it’s like fish being able to swim freely in the water. Replace the water and currents with the air and winds around us and you get it. The key point is to master how to lighten your body and how to channel your Qi when you’re up in the air. My Birdy Style emphasizes these through its unique gliding style. Since you’ve got a rather firm start with your internal energy, you’ll improve a lot in a month if you practice according to my method.”
They didn’t dare interrupt. Instead, they listened with full attention and burning excitement inside.
Yun Yuzhen then queried they how they channel their internal energy. She thought carefully for a while after being told of it, and said with an apparent disappointment :”The nature of your internal energy is nothing like I ever seen before, so I’m afraid I can’t give you more pointers on it.”
Hearing this they both got anxious.
Xu Ziling said :”Just tell us the theories, we could then figure out how to practice ourselves.”
Yun Yuzhen sighed :”It seems you’re not aware of something called the Backfiring?”
Kou Zhong teased :”Hey, our internal energy is all mighty. Beautiful mentor please just teach us! In return for that, if your boyfriend dumps you in the future, we could be his substitutes.”
Giving Kou Zhong an angry glare and scaring the hell out of him, Yun Yuzhen spoke solemnly :”Don’t blame me in the future because I’ve already warned you. The first step in learning Birdy Style is to understand what are the obverse and the adverse Qi. With obverse Qi, it’s like you throwing an object upwards, but it starts to fall down when the obverse force is exhausted; While adverse Qi is the Qi that you could generate when obverse Qi depletes, to keep you up in the air. This is only possible for a person who processed internal energy.”
She then spouted another bunch of formulas, and after making sure they’ve all memorized them correctly, she then taught them how to regenerate Qi in the air. At last she sighed :”If you feel anything bad is happening within your body, do not continue. I have to leave now.”
She raised the lantern and sent her internal energy in, making it blink at a certain frequency. Before long, another lantern signal went up at the bay. Only now did they realize the lanterns were used to communicate. Both boys were somewhat unwilling to part with her.
Yun Yuzhen watched at them and said :”I hope the next time I see you guys, you’ll still be in a good and healthy state!”
Thanks xlandhenry, am really enjoying this transalation.
woohoo, a new chapter! Thanks xlandhenry :D
Book 2 Chapter 10 The Secret Ledger
Kou Zhong leapt from a three-zhang high giant rock, crushing down solidly on the sandy beach.
Xu Ziling sat beside him, looking down, smiling bitterly. "Our beautiful mentor was right, her Birdy Style works in a very different way from our so-called almighty internal energy, like they could never mingle together. It seems we can retire from our flying dreams.”Said Xu Ziling.
Kou Zhong flipped himself over and gazed up at Xu Ziling, saying :”Don’t give up so easily yet! Remember our great theories, don’t you? As we unify the inner and the outer universe, we’ll be able to start channeling the Qi. And to do that, first we have to forget everything, the surroundings and ourselves.”
Xu Ziling frowned and said :”But we are merely mortal human beings, we can’t possibly attain that level of mental state whenever we have to leap or jump. Hey, I’ve got a silly solution that might work.”
Kou Zhong abruptly sat up and said:” If you could come up with a solution to this diamond-hard problem, then it is certainly not a silly one.”
”Remember the experience we had under the Dongming Sect’s flagship?”Asked Xu Ziling.
Kou Zhong muttered :”That would be the last thing to forget, even in my dreams! We were almost drowned to death!”
Xu Ziling nodded. “But we didn’t die, and we learned how to breathe underwater naturally. You see, a desperate situation like that might invoke what’s hidden in the treasure vault within us. The vault was opened by the mysterious Art of Immortality, but only at a critical time will the treasure be forced out to see the light.”He said.
Looking at the giant rock he just jumped from, Kou Zhong cannot help but change his countenance. “Are you suggesting we should jump from a cliff that’s a hundred-zhang high?”
Xu Ziling shrugged.”What’s the problem? We can jump from the cliff by the sea and never get killed.”He said.
Kou Zhong shook his head. “It’s not going to work that way. Only when we were about to be crushed into pieces would our Qi be invoked.”
This time it was Xu Ziling’s turn to have his countenance changed. “You’re not serious, are you!"He spluttered.
Kou Zhong straightened his face and said :”I was a bit exaggerating about the one hundred zhang cliff, even our beautiful mentor would not survive that. I think ten zhang is more than enough. Well, Xiao Ling, let me be a test. If I died trying, you shall have me burnt and bury my remains with mom in that valley. And you have to give up the dream of becoming great martial artist, just make your living as a good chef. When you have a son, name him Xu Zhong in memory of me, your best brother!”
Xu Ziling was shocked :”Tell me you’re joking!”
Shaking his head, Kou Zhong said :”After you saw those incredible ones like Yuwen Huaji, Du Fuwei, you’ll never be content being ordinary. After you met those gorgeous women like our mom or our beautiful mentor, you are never going to marry a moderate girl. It’s like a gamble and I’m betting in all I have. If I win, the possibility of our dreams remains; I lose, good to accompany our mom beyond the nether. Do you understand what I mean, my brother?”
Sitting down in dismay, Xu Ziling cannot object. “Your words are always convincing. Well, if it’s a dying game, then let’s die together!”He laughed bitterly.
Standing right before the edge of a high cliff, and looking down at the grass and rocks scattered around below, they grew hesitant again.
Kou Zhong murmured :”It seems too high. We were really stupid to not have asked mentor about the safe limits for starters like us."
Gazing up at the sky with stars dazzling, Xu Ziling smiled reluctantly. “Is it time to go to bed now?”He said.
Taking in a deep breath, Kou Zhong closed his eyes. “I will count to three, then let’s jump together. Only remember that…oh, we'd better not remember anything, just let it be.Ready?"
Xu Ziling yelled :”One!”
Kou Zhong continued :”Two!”
And together, they yelled :”Three!”
Together they sprung from the edge of that cliff, leaping into the air beyond.
At that very instant, the most memorable past events flashed through their minds. The meeting by the stream with Fu Junchuo and her death; Dashing under Du Fuwei's captivation across the plains; Parading with Susu in the streets; The cold welcome by Qingqing in the brothel; And the stunning impression when they met Yun Yuzhen for the first time...The scenes flew past one by one, leaving only an empty void.
Then they felt they were rapidly descending.
At this critical moment, they were suddenly unable to take in any air. Yet inside their body, Qi lit up like a fiery explosion.
It was like a dream.
All of a sudden, they caught the secret way of channelling Qi.
To initialize the inner breath, they must first stop taking in the air outside. This is referred in Taoism theory as innate breath.
Their channels felt like being crawled by thousands of ants, while Qi surged them inside relentlessly.
Xu Ziling's Qi surged up from Yongquan acupoint, while Kou Zhong's Qi was coming down from Tianling acupoint on his head.
The Birdy Style came to their minds and at once they mustered their Qi in their palms and pushed them down. Utilizing the adverse force they actually slowed down and even rose up by half a feet mid-air, before somersaulting and falling towards the thick lawn below.
Kou Zhong crawled up first and yelled cheerfully :"Mom! We did it!"
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling finally made another important step in their martial cultivation. Although they were still far from being a true expert, they were catching up nevertheless.
This day Xu Ziling thought up a new idea and dragged Kou Zhong along to practice under seawater. At first they were unable to steady themselves, but soon they made things better by tying a stone on each of their feet.
Gradually they found they can forced the Qi on their feet to fight against the water currents, without using the stones.
With this discovery, they tried to float up and down in the water and had great fun.
Having experienced the underwater scenario, they can practiced Birdy Style more efficiently on land. They managed to fly up trees as high as two zhang, and glide down showcasing all kinds of postures and tricks.
Sometimes they resumed combat practicing. By exchanging weapons to fight, they gained more understanding on how to muster their strength.
The appointed night to meet Yun Yuzhen again had come. Both boys had dressed up tidily waiting for her arrival on the beach.
Kou Zhong laid down and pondered for a while, before he spoke:"We must not blindly trust people. I forgot who actually taught us that. Was it mom or Du Fuwei?"
Xu Ziling said :"Probably our mom. Are you suspecting our beautiful mentor?"
Kou Zhong said :"Martial experts always look unfathomable, by hiding their true prowess from others. We'd better do the same. Don't let beautiful mentor know we've learned her Birdy Style. In case she wanted to kill us, we can still make a surprising escape.”
Nodding in agreement, Xu Ziliing looked towards the sea and said :"Look! Look!"
A tiny spark of lantern fire came up at the horizon and moved fast towards them.
It turned out a yacht had dashed left and right, through the gaps between the reeves, to where the water was much shallower.
The two focused internal energy in their eyes and the yacht instantly lit up in their view. Four men were rowing the yacht, while a young lady in white was standing at the front, but it wasn't Yun Yuzhen.
The lady sprung up and within just two leaps she was already standing before them. "This maid Yun Zhi has order from Lady Yun Yuzhen to pick you up. "She politely spoke.
They didn't expect anyone other than Yun Yuzhen herself. Exchanging a few winks, they followed Yun Zhi onto the yacht.
After they board the Tri-mast ship, Yun Zhi led them into the main cabin, where Yun Yuzhen was sitting in a chair waiting.
After they took seats on both sides, Yun Zhi exited the room, leaving only the three.
Smiling, Yun Yuzhen asked :"How was it going?"
Kou Zhong faked up a frustrated look and shook his head.
"Our Qi and blood started to boil, how dare we practice it?" Xu Ziling sighed.
Hearing this, Yun Yuzhen didn't conceal the disappointment and lowered her head. After pondering for quite some time she hesitantly spoke :"Well, we have to use another plan then."
They realized at once. Yun Yuzhen claimed she was teaching them the Birdy Style as a reward, but obviously it was just needed for their mission. They couldn't help thinking they were right not telling her the truth.
Yun Yuzhen sighed again and said :"Do you know why Dongming Sect would allow you to board their ship that day?"
Kou Zhong said :"Is it because they came here every year to choose gifted boys to mate with their wowen, and we got chosen?"
Yun Yuzhen said :"Tell me what did you do on their ship that day, don't leave anything out."
Kou Zhong finished the story in just a few lines, since the time they had on that ship was barely enough for a cup of tea.
Yun Yuzhen frowned on his answer. After contemplating for a while, she said :"That's weird indeed. Why would Madam Dongming ask you such strange questions?"
Xu Ziling said :"Isn't it very obvious? Since they are choosing husbands, they certainly prefer those ambitious ones. And after finding out we're just two gold lusters, they got rid of us immediately."
Kou Zhong said :"Do you want us to steal something from them? I think you'd better do that yourself. Once they remove the hanging ladder on their ship, we have no way to get on board."
Yun Yuzhen was a bit annoyed and said :"If I had other choices I wouldn't have asked you. Now only you two can openly board their ship."
They were confused.
Kou Zhong asked curiously :"I think you're making wrong assumptions, we were also unwelcomed guests like you are to them."
Yun Yuzhen explained :"Things are different this time. Now you've done great merits to Dongming Sect, the Madam even sent out her four guardian angels searching for you. They just haven't found you yet!"
They immediately felt much better. Their hearts raced madly at the thought of that pretty maid.
Yun Yuzhen smiled. "Now you understand. I would create an opportunity to let them find you, then you'll be able to get onto their ship."
Xu Ziling asked :"You still haven't told us what you want us to steal!"
Yun Yuzhen said nonchalantly :"Remember I once talked about that every gang or sect has to make a living on some business? Dongming Sect is one that makes weapons, and renowned for the quality they produce. Out of the ten most famous weapons, three were crafted within their forges on Liuqiu Isles."
Xu Ziling asked :"You want us to steal a weapon for you?"
Yun Yuzhen became a little impatient. "Besides the divine ones like Ganjiang and Moye, what weapon is worth stealing? What I want you to steal is a secret ledger, which has significant influences."
They were startled.
Yun Yuzhen's brilliant eyes tickled as she said :"This ledger has records of the shipments they made to various buyers. Each record listed has the seals of both parties and the details of the transaction. Yuwen Huaji ordered Seasand Gang to attack the Flowing Fragrance, this ledger being his true target."
They were totally puzzled.
Yun Yuzhen continued to explain :"This has to do with the political turmoil at the government court. For example, if the ledger lists purchase of many weapons by a government official, then it would become a solid proof of betrayal, which Yuwen Huaji would use to appeal to the dumb emperor, in order to beat his political opponent. Got it?"
Kou Zhong asked :"But beautiful mentor, you're not Yuwen Huaji, why do you want this ledger so badly?"
Yun Yuzhen said :"You'd better not meddle with my business. What you should do is to get me the ledger, and I'll honor my promise of your freedom and the gold; I would get somebody to teach you first-class thievecraft. Is that clear?"
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Then Yun Zhi came in reporting :"A yacht is catching up, must be Mr. Li himself."
Yun Yuzhen's lovely face blushed and scolded :"That horny bastard, just let him on."
She paused for a second and then said :"Bring these two imps to Elder Chen."
Having seen the obvious fact that she actually fell for this Mr. Li, and now being sent away like that, they couldn't help feeling a little jealous and followed Yun Zhi out.
Yun Zhi brought them across a corridor on the upper level of the ship, coming to a halt at a door. Knocking on it she said :"Elder Chen! The two childes have come."
A hoarse voice chimed :"Let them in!"
Yun Zhi pushed open the door, and instructed them to go inside themselves.
The two stepped inside and found this room extraordinarily large, filled with all kinds of locks, shrink down models of houses, as well as various tools of unknown usage. Up on the walls hanged many construction plans. The room appeared to be a big workshop on the ship.
An old men with long beards was studying carefully on a giant lock. Without even paying a glance at them, he said :"Close the door!".
Xu Ziling hurriedly closed the door.
The old man put down his lock and walked over. Because he was a head shorter than the two boys, he had to lift his face in order to size them up. Laughing coarsely he said :"I heard you were doing thefts since young. Hey, let me take a look at your hands first."
The old man clutched their hands and pinched here and there for quite some time before revealing an exciting expression. "I've never seen better hands, and now there are two pairs in front of me. Haha! I Chen Laomou can pass down my skills!"
He walked away with his hands behind his back, up until he was standing beside the window. He looked out of the window and said :”You have great gifts and hands, but you’ll not become good thieves until you acquire flexible reactions and outstanding knowledge in construction and mechanism."
Then he stepped back and called them over in front of a model of construction. “This series of buildings consist of ten yards of various sizes. If I want you to steal a piece of valuable jade hidden inside one of them, how are you going find it?”
Noticing their silence, he was quite satisfied and strode to another model. “Recognize this?” he asked.
"Isn’t this the Residence of Yangzhou City Mayor?”Kou Zhong spouted.
“Exactly Weichi Sheng’s dog hole. In fact, to steal something isn't the hardest. Imagine that I ask you to access a classified document, memorize everything inside and put it back. What's more, you have to make them unaware of the whole thing. All in all you must have not only the skills to steal, but also a great memory. Oh! Can you guys read?"
Kou Zhong already grew suspicious about Yun Yuzhen, naturally he wasn't going to tell him honestly. "How could we possibly afford to go to school?" He answered humbly.
"Well, can’t blame you for that.” Chen Laomou said sympathetically. "Fortunately, for this mission you don't have to read anything."
He led the two in front of a hanging picture, saying :"This is the Flowing Fragrance you've been onto. The areas painted in black are the places we currently have no information about."
The picture is actually a scenogram of Flowing Fragrance, but everything beneath the deck has been painted in black.
Chen Laomou started to explain it in details. They were quite interested and thus listened carefully, raising question once in a while. It wasn't until dawn did Yun Zhi came and brought them to a room at the other end of the corridor to rest. They slept till dusk before waking up.
Two pretty maids waited while they got dressed and their beards shaved. When Yun Zhi came in to call them, her eyes blinked in surprise and said :"You two childes turned out to be actually good-looking ones, I failed to realize that."
Kou Zhong thought she was cute and leaned forward, whispering :"How old are you sister, I think you're at almost the same age as we are?"
Yun Zhi was somewhat irritated :"Older than you of course! Come!"
And led the way out.
The two understood they were being looked down and exchanged glances of disappointment, then followed behind.
Coming into the main hall, they saw a banquet was already prepared. There were only three seats, one taken by a huge man clad in luxury robes. He had an ugly face, with a two-inch scar running across his left cheek, giving others a terrific impression. His eyes brimmed with vigor, suggesting that he possessed excellent internal energy.
That man was quite polite. He stood up to pay respect and said :”I’m Pu Tianzhi, the vice chief of Whale Gang. Lady Yun went on land to run other errands, she asked me to look after two brothers.”
Their beautiful mentor was absent, they could only sadly imagine she was with the man called Mr. Li. But they couldn't resist the lure of food. After exchanging some pleasantries, they sat down and feasted on the delicious food, throwing off all other unhappiness.
Pu Tianzhi casually brought up questions about their pasts, while Kou Zhong also casually told him made-up stories, making him seemingly pretty satisfied.
Before they finished the meal, Pu Tianzhi order his men to bring along a box. Removing the lid, it revealed a little book inside. On its cover the book bore a Dongming Sect's symbol, which had the same pattern as the one embroidered on the banner of Flowing Fragrance.
They looked towards Pu Tianzhi in astonishment.
Without explaining, Pu Tianzhi turned to the first page. They saw dense lines of charaters written in black and red inks. One column listed the name of weapons and quantities in black, the other column had the amount of money listed in red. And to their surprise, they were calculated in gold taels, the largest sum being three thousand taels, which is enough to feed an ordinary citizen for ten fold his lifetime. There were also the dates and places of the transactions.
Most striking were six bigger characters at the top of that page, which read "Li Clan from Longxi the first", but the actual seals or signatures are missing.
Kou Zhong pretended to be ignorant and said :"The characters know me, but I don’t know them. What do they say?"
Pu Tianzhi turned to the second page, but it was all empty.
Turning back to page one, Pu Tianzhi spoke :"What we want two bros to steal is the ledger, which looks identical to this one on its first page. You must remember it, don't mistake it for another one."
Xu Ziling pointed the character One and asked :"I know this is the character 'One', but I can't recognize the others. What do they actually mean?"
Pu Tianzhi said :"You don’t have to understand. The One simply means it's the first page. I will let you take another look at this when you go off our ship."
They couldn't help becoming even more suspicious. Yet they had a pending lesson with Chen Laomou to learn his great thievecraft, so they didn't think too much deeper.
Five days later they arrived at the river entrance and stayed there for four days. However, they were not allowed to get on land. At dinner, they noticed Yun Yuzhen was back, but this time Pu Tianzhi was missing.
Yun Yuzhen was in such a great mood as if she was glowing. Knowing that she only planned to use them as pawns, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling felt nothing the same. She would never be another Fu Junchuo or Susu.
Kou Zhong asked :"Now where exactly are we heading?"
Yun Yuzhen answered :"We are sailing north into Huai River, then west towards Zhongyang. I will plan your route after that."
She then fixed her eyes on them for quite some time before she smiled and said :"You will certainly become handsome lads in two years. You look much better without those beards and messy hairs. How old are you?"
Kou Zhong said :"I just passed 18, he is one year younger."
Yun Yuzhen happily commented :"Elder Chen told me you had learned everything at the first glance. You really did live up to my expectations."
Xu Ziling asked :"How are we supposed to escape that ship when we get our hands on the ledger?"
Yun Yuzhen said :"You don't have to worry about that. I will teach you how to use the lantern signal to contact us. And I will pick you up myself then, safe for sure."
"Why does Dongming Sect come and stay in the central plains for such a long time?"Kou Zhong asked.
Yun Yuzhen explained:"Every three years, they come and stay in the central plains for a while, to accept new orders and collect debts. Their weapons are transported by other ships, these are the things you don't have to bother."
Xu Ziling asked :"How's the situation going across the country?"
Yun Yuzhen answered flatly:"Du Fuwei still maintained a strong control in Liyang and repelled the Sui Army several times. Dou Jiande claimed himself King of Changle and received even higher reputation than Du Fuwei. A few others rose recently, one is called Xu Yuanlang, the other being Lu Mingyue. These two people were quite important figures in martial world. Yet speaking of influence, that Liang Shidu and Liu Wuzhou from Soaring Eagle cult had raised their army against Sui is the most striking. They were generals of Sui army, their rebellion certainly causes a huge decrease in Sui's military power."
She then sighed and continue :"These two have close relationship with the Turks. They recently sworn allegiance to Bi Xuan, the Martial Lord and become his disciples. Now that the Turks are involved, no one knows how things will eventually be settled."
The two were immediately reminded of the son of Liang Shidu - Liang Shunming, and Shen Wushuang, the beautiful daughter of Shen Tianqun. Both of them lost in their thoughts.
Xu Ziling was a bit worried of Susu, so he asked about her master Zhai Rang.
Yun Yuzhen was indeed very keen to the information. She answered patiently :"Zhai Rang and Li Mi are assembling their forces, planning to strike at Xingluo Granary. If they succeed in doing so, the Sui empire is in danger. The Dragonlord Zhai Rang has no doubt the highest support among rebellion armies, but his name had mostly been earned by Li Mi and heavily relied on Li Mi's achievements. That's not going to last."
She was curious at their questions and asked :"You seemed to know a lot of these?"
Kou Zhong explained :"That all came from Du Fuwei."
They were both worried about Susu and quickly finished their dinner. When they returned from Chen Laomou's lesson it was already midnight.
They pretended to go to sleep, but in fact they just lied in the bed, discussing their next step.
Kou Zhong said :"Our mentor is gorgeous on the outside, but her mind not so good. She is apparently tricking us to steal the ledger for her, in order to frame someone up."
Xu Ziling said :"She might want to threaten Li Clan like she threatened us. Shall we just slip away."
Kou Zhong said :"You think I want to stay here? The problem is, if she really spread the news of our whereabouts, we would have trouble getting anywhere. So we must think of a genuine plan first."
Xu Ziling said :"I really wish we could see Madam Dongming and tell her everything. Then she may take us to Liuqiu Isles and get rid of everything here. But then we won't be able to avenge mom."
Kou Zhong added :"And neither will we be able to see brother Li and Susu again."
They became silent for some time, until Kou Zhong spoke :"Have you noticed something strange on the ship these days?"
Xu Ziling nodded :"Since beautiful mentor was back, things grew tense. They changed sailing course every once in a while. Maybe they were trying to avoid some enemies."
Kou Zhong slapped on his lap and said :"That's it! Those people might actually came for us! For example, the Seasand Gang, or our bloody dad Du Fuwei. She might have spies on others, but who is to say she isn't spied by others?"
Xu Ziling smiled wryly :"That's not going to make things different. If we get caught by O'Daddy or Han Pudi, I rather stay here. At least we are being treated nicely."
Kou Zhong confidently spoke :"I do have a plan - Fake Death. We pretend to be killed but in fact we escape!"
Xu Ziling teased :"Easier said than done!"
Kou Zhong said :"If we are somewhere on land, or if we are still clumsy as before, that might not work. But now we could just pretend to be wounded and fall into the sea, with some blood flowing up. We can dive down and swim away. Everybody would think we ended up dead in the sea. "
Xu Ziling asked :"How can we fake blood then?"
Kou Zhong make a gesture suggesting stealing and sneered :"We are consuming chickens everyday. They must have kept some living ones in the kitchen. Understand?"
"But the problem is we don't know when those 'enemies' will come up. If we get the blood too early, it will solidify. And people would laugh hard when they saw bloody chunks floating up."
"We could hide two chickens beneath our bed and black them out, like we used to do a lot before. If the enemy doesn't show up in time, we can steal another two to replace them."
Kou Zhong had got to his feet as Xu Ziling was still hestitating. He said :"Now it's time to give a test to our light body techniques and the thievecraft Chen Laomou taught us."
dear, xlandhenry :)....thanks for the update and season's greetings to U and rest of spcnet contributors :hatoff: and followers :grouphug:
ps. btw looking forward to some excellent (speedy) translations in 2013 :azzangel: ................ :p
Happy New Year
Originally Posted by sanskritsutras
Nah it should be my thanks to all of you, because without your support I cannot go this far.:)
Originally Posted by Anh Nam
Wish you all a happy new year! And here is an early gift!
Book 2 Chapter 11
A Sinister Plot
Kou Zhong set his ear on the door and listened. After making sure there’s nobody in the corridor, he opened the door and slipped out.
Xu Ziling followed behind, it would be lying that he wasn't nervous at all.
The kitchen was at the rearest end of the ship. To get there, they must go through this corridor, up the stairs and out onto the deck. From there they had to go at least one more zhang to reach the kitchen door.
The corridor had only two lanterns, one at each end, leaving the middle part of it in darkness. At this time, almost all the crew were fast asleep, except those on duty.
They lifted their bodies, sweeping like ghosts towards the rear end of the ship.
As they reached the stairs, it suddenly came chuckles from above them, which turned out to be Yun Yuzhen walking down.
They were terrified. Judging by the distance from her, they would be dicovered long before they could return to their room. Having no other options, they pushed open the door to the large room where Chen Laomou taught them lessons and retreated inside.
Only there could they find a place to hide.
They quickly hid under a cupboard, praying that Yun Yuzhen wasn't going to their room to look for them.
The wooden door creaked open.
They were both somewhat relieved and worried at the same time.
They were relieved because Yun Yuzhen wasn't going to their bedroom; but they were worried they would be discovered here. Scared, they stopped breathing and begin channelling internal Qi.
If it were someone else, even with more internal energy, it's still impossible to hide from experts like Yun Yuzhen.
Luckily Art of Immortallity is the most profound Taoism cultivation technique. The mental method emphasis on preserving and lasting. As they channel its energy they went into some sort of hibernation, which restrain their vigor from leaking out. Besides, Yun Yuzhen wasn't intentionally probing, so she had no idea two more people were hidden.
The two could only hear Yun Yuzhen's dimmest footsteps, yet they had the feeling there were two people coming in, because the door did not close until Yun Yuzhen was well into the room.
Yun Yuzhen's chuckle rose again. "Che, come here! This is the scenogram of Flowing Fragrance. I sacrificed three skilled men to get this, how are you going to reward me?" She sounded extremely flattering and alluring as she said.
Then it came Yun Yuzhen's groans and the sound of fabrics rubbing against each other.
The two instantly felt disgusted. Yun Yuzhen had been holding her dignity up in front of them, yet at this moment it looked like she was willing to be toyed by anyone.
On the other hand, they were alerted that the other guy possessed better martial arts than Yun Yuzhen, as they could not hear his footsteps.
A young and clear voice rose :"Yuzhen, you are more plumped than before. Look how bouncy they are!"
Groaning, Yun Yuzhen said :"Shall we settle the business before pleasure? I'm not flying away from you tonight!"
The image of their beautiful mentor sunk even deeper in their hearts.
The guy let go of Yun Yuzhen, who said :"Lit the lamp."
Yun Yuzhen said :"Madam Dongming‘s internal energy has almost reached perfection. Fortunately she's going to meet Li Yuan at Pengcheng seven days later. It will take at least ten days before she comes back. It'll be our only chance for getting the ledger."
"Do you really think those two imps can manage it? Dongming Princess and the guardian angels are on the ship, and they are also first-class fighters."The man said.
Yun Yuzhen chuckled. "They're cunning as sprites, the only problem is they couldn't use my Birdy Style, or else it would be a sure success, as they'll take them by surprise. I will plan an attack on Flowing Fragrance to trick Dongming's top fighters out. The two should be able to get out with no problem."
The man teased :"Every time you mention the two you got these smiling eyes. Are you not longing for their virginity!"
Yun Yuzhen laughed and said :"To hell with that, I can never fall for two rogues who barely get rid of milk stinks. Our mission is so crucial this time that we have to invite you Dugu Che, the top fighter of the younger generation in Dugu Clan. You shall get the ledger and kill them off after that. I have been so loyal to you, how …Oh..."
They became entangled again.
Hearing this, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling finally understood the cruel reality. Yun Yuzhen's sweet promises were nothing but a lie.
Meanwhile they realized something else.
The supporter behind Whale Gang was actually Dugu Clan, and this was no other than a plot that Dugu Clan weaved against Yuwen Clan or Li Clan.
Yun Yuzhen's voice rose again with panting :"Bedroom shall we? These two nights would be peaceful, but I cannot garauntee the same when we turn into Huai River. I don't understand how Du Fuwei had been tipped that the two boys were on my ship. We have to rely on your Skyfall Swordplay to counter his Qiankun Sleeves then!"
Dugu Che confidently spoke :"Rest assured! My second brother has gathered several experts to reinforce us, and slay Du Fuwei in one go. That would leave JiangHuai Army only Fu Gongyou and they can threaten us no more!"
Yun Yuzhen said :"When your Dugu Clan claims the throne in the future, don't forget what Yun Yuzhen has done for you!"
Dugu Che lowered his tone and said :"Are you sure that they know nothing about Yang's Treasure?"
Yun Yuzhen said :"Of course I'm sure. I once joked at them for not knowing where the treasure is, and their expressions already gave them out, that Fu Juncuo didn't tell them at all. After all she is from Gaoli, how could she tell this to Hans. Come, let's go!"
The door was closed.
And footsteps faded away.
They finally breathed with relief, feeling somewhat dejected.
Kou Zhong whispered to Xu Ziling :"Some day we shall take back what she owes us."
Xu Ziling smiled bitterly :"It looks like we don't have to steal chickens until we reached Huai River."
Kou Zhong sighed :"Go back to sleep then!"
That night they couldn't sleep well. Awaken early the next morning, they went up onto the deck. Only when they looked at the magnificent seascape did they get slightly optimistic.
A group of seagulls were hovering above the stern, attracting their attention. Inspired by the curves the seagulls cut out in the air, they lost in thought.
Yun Yuzhen's voice came behind them :"Why so early today?"
The two didn't turn back. Only Kong Zhong reluctantly answered.
Yun Yuzhen moved next to Xu Ziling. "Haven't you seen seagulls before? You seemed so attracted."
Xu Ziling glanced at her briefly. Recalling what they heard last night, that she personally told Dugu Che to kill them, and loathing at her unchaste nature, he retracted his glance and turned it back to those seagulls. "Seagulls are certainly more attractive. At least they live in freedom, and they wouldn't have to worry about being killed by their own kind."He muttered.
Kou Zhong was afraid it might raise Yun Yuzhen's suspicions, so he laughed and said :"Xiao Ling has always been this sentimental, beautiful mentor you must not take it to heart."
Unaware that her dirty secrets were out, Yun Yuzhen flattered and said :"Youngsters are always full of imagination. Well, just watch for some more time and come down to have breakfast with me! I will tell you more details about our plan."Then she left.
Three days later, the ship arrived at the entrance of Huai River and sailed west along it.
Everyone in the crew was straining their nerves. Yun Yuzhen ordered the two to stay inside their room all the time.
When night fell, Kou Zhong took the chance that the crew's attention was diversed by the looming enemies and stole three chickens back. They waited patiently.
They dressed up and armed, hiding next to the door and the windows, listening carefully of what's going on outside.
At three jing, footsteps came up from the corridor outside and headed towards their room.
They hurriedly got in to bed, pretending they were sleeping soundly.
There was a knock at the door, then someone pushed it open. "Get dressed up quickly, I will come and bring you somewhere else in minutes."It was Yun Zhi's voice. She left and closed the door behind.
They immediately sprung up from their bed, hurriedly slay the chickens, filled four empty wine bottles with the blood and each hid two bottles with them. They just finished when Yun Zhi came back and led them out.
The ship suddenly trembled, made a sharp turning and sailed backwards.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling figured the enemies had come, and they were came taking the Whale Gang by surprise.
The corridors were now flooded with people. Some of them they've never met before, which strain their nerves even more.
Kou Zhong caught up and asked Yun Zhi :"Who's coming!"
Yun Zhi had lost her usual temper, scolded impatiently and impolitely :"Don't speak!"
Kou Zhong whispered to Xu ZIling :"Rogues are rogues afterall."
Of course Xu Ziling understood what he meant. If not for their special connection to the Art of Immortality and the Yang's Treasure, people out there care nothing about them.
As a close maid to the chief of Whale Gang, naturally Yun Zhi considered them as nobody. She had been polite to them, only because Yun Yuzhen ordered her so. Under such circumstances, her little patience went away.
They were led onto the deck.
Looking behind, they saw five large ships were sailing towards them from upstream river and were catching up at an amazing speed
Warriors of Whale Gang cluttered on the deck, everyone prepared for close combat with the enemies.
Yun Zhi led them towards the front, where around twenty people were assembled. Yun Yuzhen and the long unseen Pu Tianzhi were also there.
Besides them, they could see seven beautiful women among the ranks, whose eyes shot blazing gazes towards them.
It was pitch black on the deck, yet it was nothing their eyes couldn't handle.
Standing beside Yun Yuzhen was a man as tall as Kou Zhong. He looks twenty five maybe six, with a handsome face and a calm composure. He was wearing a warrior suit, which matched perfectly with Yun Yuzhen. His cheeks were even thinner than Xu Ziling, showing his maturity; but with some spoiled paleness, he to Xu Ziling in terms of grace.
If he was that Dugu Che, then he must excel them in both status and martial arts by a large margin.
Yun Yuzhen greeted them and said :"The enemies are very strong, we have to retreat to the land."
Pu Tianzhi and the man whom they suspected to be Dugu Che moved next to Yun Yuzhen, the latter kept sizing them up.
Kou Zhong stared back at the man with bewilderness.
Yun Yuzhen coughed and introduced :"He's a guardian fighter of our gang. He will protect you with Pu Tianzhi later on."
Dugu Che smiled and said :"Don't fret, two bros. Leaving the ship is only a strategic move, not because we are afraid of the enemies."
Once he spoke, the two recognized his voice immediately. Indeed he was Dugu Che.
Xu Ziling asked :"Who's coming at us?"
Yun Yuzhen answered :"Du Fuwei had just taken two towns ahead and blocked the waterway towards Zhongyang. So we much change our route."
Kou Zhong turned and laughed at Yun Zhi, who had stepped back. "Look, your chief is much nicer to us."
Yun Zhi stared at him angrily, then lowered her head, dare not speaking.
As Yun Yuzhen shot Yun Zhi an angry glare, someone came reporting :"Chief, the Leigong Canyon is just ahead."
They looked forward and saw the river banks quickly shrank much narrower. High cliffs stood on both sides of them, towering arduously.
Yun Yuzhen ordered :"Prepare yourselves!"
The twenty odd people moved to the left side of the ship.
Pu Tianzhi and Dugu Che grabbed Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong respectively, and moved to the edge of the deck.
The enemies' ships drew nearer at about one li from them.
Whale Gang's ship pulled closer to the left bank. As they reach around three zhang from the land, all the twenty odd people sprung up across the water, flying towards the cliff up the bank.
Pu Tianzhi and Dugu Che grabbed them by the waist, leapt up and glided down towards the bank.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling reflected that they were still unable to glide across a three zhang distance like this. But now it seemed, everyone, including Yun Zhi could achieve this with little effort. They realized these people bested them a lot, at least in terms of light body techniques.
As for Pu Tianzhi and Dugu Che who were carrying them, there's no comparison at all.
Which means they wouldn't have any chance to escape under normal circumstances.
They didn't stop to rest and immediately soared towards the depth of the wilderness.
After treading for like ten minutes, Dugu Che suddenly yelled :"Stop!"
Everybody stopped in shock.
Ahead them came the sound of birds fluttering, apparently woken by their enemies.
In astonishment, Yun Yuzhen said :"This way!"
Then she led the party towards their right.
Coming down a slope they saw a high mountain ahead. Ultilizing shenfa, they sped towards it.
It was almost dawn by then, the wilderness around them absolutely desolate.
As they went through a forest they came to a clearing, but it turned out to be a high cliff.
Moutain peaks afar surrounded them on all three directions, which was a stunning scene.
Dugu Che strode to the edge of the cliff and looked down. "This is a dead end!"He called.
Kou Zhong peeped out and looked. The cliff was at least a hundred zhang high, the ancient trees that grown out of the cliff wall might only slightly lessen its perilousness. Beneath that was a forest extending towards the mountains and hills afar.
Yun Yuzhen was planning to find a route down the cliff as a long laughter came behind them. "Pink Matriach please hold your steps. Du Fuwei from Jianghuai here greets you."
Everybody knew a fight was inevitable and one by one they drew out their weapons.
Pu Tianzhi and Dugu Che let go of the two, and stood in front of them.
Yun Yuzhen and others formed a half circle to protect them. At their back was the high cliff.
Kou Zhong reached his hand out and hold Xu Ziling's. As Yun Yuzhen and her men were distracted by the movements of their enemies, he whispered :"We must jump down the cliff when we have a chance. The trees can slow us down, we will not die."
Gritting his teeth, Xu Ziling nodded in agreement.
Du Fuwei's tall and slim figure appeared and stood still at around a zhang from Yun Yuzhen. Farther away down the slope, what looked like thirty or forty odd people also crawled out and formed an encirclement.
With his tall crown on, Du Fuwei was energetic as before. His gaze fixed upon the two, his ever stern face revealed a rare smile. "Dears sons, why not come and say hello to daddy and admit your faults?"He called to them gently.
Kou Zhong giggled and said :"Good daddy how are you? We had already betrayed you and we're no longer dad and sons. Why not go back home and enjoy some peace, don't waste your energy for us sons anymore."
Noticing that Kou Zhong was not at all afraid of Du Fuwei, who was known for his ruthlessness, Yun Yuzhen couldn't help being surprised.
Even them had to watch their tongue with Du Fuwei, dreading of invoking this infamous man.
Du Fuwei, who had been used to Kou Zhong's shrewdness, felt somewhat familiar. He smiled and said :"Oh that's the lack of communication between us. Let daddy dispose these reckless kidnappers before we could sit down and have some nice talk!"
Dugu Che and Yun Yuzhen both snorted coldly.
Without sparing a glance at them, Du Fuwei's gaze shifted towards the women instead. "I heard rumours that Whale Gang has always used beauties to bribe others and now it seems that's true. I've come well prepared this time, I'm afraid few of you could escape. For men there will be deaths, for women some humiliations are inevitable, if you insist to take on us, Lady Yun."
Giving out a cold snort, Dugu Che said :"People say Du Fuwei is ignorant and indeed you are. Without fighting, how can you conclude we are losing. Bullshit."
Du Fuwei's gaze rested on Dugu Che's face, his eyes emitting icy flare. "What's your name young one? Your words seem even bolder than Lady Yun!"
Yun Yuzhen laughed :"General Du, have you heard me speaking yet? How do you know he's bolder?"
Du Fuwei shook his head and said :"Saw him blurting nonsense without your permission, I would know he is not your subordinate. Why still make cover for him, Lady Yun?"
Yun Yuzhen was struck speechless.
Du Fuwen continued flatly :"I had no grudges with Whale Gang before. All I want is my naughty children back. Fighting always hurts relationships, but without fighting you will never be convinced to give them willingly. So I have a suggestion, would you like to hear?"
Yun Yuzhen coldly replied :"I am listening."
Now even the two could sensed that Du Fuwei had taken the upper hand, while Yun Yuzhen's party could only passively accept what he offered.
Earlier Dugu Che had boasted about slaying Du Fuwei, but when truly confronted, he instantly turned from a heroic man into a cowardly dog.
Du Fuwei pointed towards Dugu Che and said :"Ten moves, between this mysterious friend and me. If I cannot win within ten moves, I would forget about having these two naughty sons; But if I had luck and win this round, Lady Yun you must give them back to me, so that I can bring them home and teach them good."
Then he harden his tone and continued :"Or if you do not accept this suggestion, we'll have no choice but go all out on you. You must not blame me for not giving you any respect then."
Yun Yuzhen was struck with fear. She realized Du Fuwei had already seen through that Dugu Che was the top fighter on her side. Yet he still purposed to settle it in ten moves, he must be super confident.
All of a sudden, she knew they had been put to an extreme disadvantage, leaving them no other choice.
Thanks xlandhenry! I'm eagerly looking forward to find out what happens next.
thanks xlandhenry! i'm very interested to know if the two guys escape again this time hee
appreciate the efforts in the long translation. Makes reading really enjoyable!
Hooray! Book 2 Completed!
Book 2 Chapter 12 Feign Death
Conceited as he had always been, Dugu Che felt hard not to be convinced.
If he, as the top fighter on their side, were unable to fend off only ten moves, then it is the same as saying they would definitely lose. So Du Fuwei's suggestion actually favored them.
He understood, however, that Du Fuwei feared they might kill the two boys first. In that case Du Fuwei would come in vein, and even slaughtering his opponents afterwards wouldn’t help then.
After exchanging glances with Yun Yuzhen, he stepped out and respectfully said :"Mayor Du, please.”Since Du Fuwei regarded himself as mayor of Liyang, everybody in Jianghu refered him as Mayor Du now.
Standing with hands folded behind, Du Fuwei smiled and said :"Few of the thousands swordsmen in Jianghu truly understands how to wield a sword. Even fewer is not one of Dugu Clan or Song Clan. Song Clan is now busy dealing with the emperor himself; And if my eyes didn't fail me, your footwork incorporates some sort of Taoist tricks, which should resemble one of the Most Original Skills - the Skyfall of Dugu Clan. Am I correct about that?"
Not expecting Du Fuwei to have such insight, everyone on Yun Yuzhen’s side had their countenance changed.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling was cheering aloud inside. They somehow wished this Dugu Che would be taught a lesson and Yun Yuzhen suffer a huge setback.
Dugu Che replied in calmness :"Senior one is really knowledgeable. I'm Dugu Che and I studied some trivial martial skills under my father Dugu Feng. I would like you senior one to give some pointers."
Du Fuwei laughed in reply :"Indeed you're the son of my old buddy. I wondered if your old granny had recovered from her asthma these years?"
Anger flashed past Dugu Che's handsome face as he replied :"Old granny's well, thank you for asking."
It's known to all that Dugu Feng, Dugu Che's father, was the leader of the clan. But in terms of martial arts, it was actually Dugu Feng’s mother You Chuhong who ranked number one in the clan.
At her sixties, You Chuhong deprecated her sword skills and started practicing staffplay. She invented the Cloaking Staffplay, but nearly got backfired in the process. Fortunately she was able to save herself, yet that incident eventually left her an asthma-like symptom that occurred once in a while. Which was where Du Fuwei's question came from.
Du Fuwei had intended to infuriate Dugu Che. Now that he achieved it, he called :"Now let me see if the Skyfall of Dugu Clan got anything new recently."
Holding their breaths, people on both sides awaited Dugu Che to begin the duel.
The long sword swung out of its sheath.
Dugu Che raised the sword to his chest and stood still, emitting a powerful aura.
Kou Zhong whispered towards Xu Ziling :"Time to learn things!"
Xu Ziling nodded in excitement.
What they lacked most was experience at this stage. Watching a duel of such high standard certainly benefited them much.
"Excuse me!" Dugu Che roared.
He shot forward and thrust his sword to attack.
Freezing aura of the sword immediately filled the whole place.
Fans of swords were seen erupted before his chest, his peculiar moves were neither attacking nor defending, making it difficult for one to see through his intentions.
Du Fuwei revealed a serious expression. He shifted right, but then suddenly moved towards Dugu Che's left side.
Dugu Che growled and his body shot towards Du Fuwei furiously, together with thousands of blades changing that poured forward like tidal waves, attacking his enemy without preservation.
Du Fuwei beamed and flew his right sleeve up, hitting the outskirts of the blade fans.
Pump! Everyone was astonished at the thundering sound of the two forces clashing.
Dugu Che stumbled back, as if struck by lightning, while Du Fuwei shifted to the other side of his opponent with a ghostly haste and pressed on his attack with both sleeves.
Now everyone knew that Dugu Che was inferior to Du Fuwei in terms of internal energy. Yet no one could tell whether Dugu Che would lose or not in the end. After all Du Fuwei was still hiding the Qiankun inside his sleeves.
Dugu Che's sword shot out furiously from his waist towards Du Fuwei's face. He totally ignored those two sleeves, almost a suicidal move.
The two watched carefully and completely understood Dugu Che's strategy.
Should Du Fuwei got a slightest wound, he would be too ashamed to claim himself victorious even if he could kill his younger opponent, because he was a senior to Dugu Che.
But under such desperate attacks, it would seem very difficult to defeat Dugu Che without getting wounded, let alone in ten moves.
"Nice move!" As Dugu Che excerted this sword move, Du Fuwei couldn’t help but praise at its well contained strength and elegancy. Without hurry he closed his sleeves in front to meet the blade just in time.
Dugu Che’s thunderous sword attack was thwarted, unable to penetrate an inch further.
Knowing the attack had been futile, Dugu Che withdrew his sword almost at once. But Du Fuwei was faster. His right hand hidden in the sleeve had already flicked a finger on the tip of the sword.
Dugu Che instantly felt as if his chest was hammered and almost vomited blood. Luckily he had practiced advanced internal energy since young, and after hurriedly channeling his Qi, Dugu Che was able to neutralize most of his opponent’s intruding energy. However he was forced to stumble back again for two more steps.
Everyone on Yun Yuzhen’s side trembled in fear.
Du Fuwei’s armguards in the sleeves were still to be seen, yet Dugu Che had already fallen into a serious disadvantage, how could they have any hope about this duel.
Unexpectedly, Du Fuwei didn’t press on. Standing, he bent his hands behind again and sneered :”Your father Dugu Feng might stand a chance, but you young boy are not even close. Now there are eight moves to go, if you insist to continue, I can promise you a death. Please think twice.”
Dugu Che’s chest was still heaving up and down, his face getting paler. He finally realized there’s always true prowess backing behind a great reputation. Du Fuwei had been out there for decades, ranking against top fighters of the four clans, as well as others like Zhai Rang, Li Mi, Dou Jiande and Wang Bo, definitely living up to his fame.
But he was too proud to surrender.
Face whiter than paper, Yun Yuzhen stepped forward and said politely :”We have learned our lessons. Mayor Du please bring the boys with you. I, speaking on behalf of Whale Gang, promise you that we will never meddle in this business again.”
Du Fuwei showed no sign of pleasure. His gaze fell upon the two boys. ”Kids, time to go home!”He called to them in a soft tone.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling broke out in laughter, albeit a solemn one.
Xu Ziling yelled :”We’d rather be killed. How can we two dragons be traded like cargos!”
Kou Zhong also put up a stern expression. “Dad, please forgive our disobedience.”He said.
Both Yun Yuzhen and Du Fuwei cried out simultaneously :”NO!”
Without hesitation, the two boys leapt from the edge of the cliff, before Du Fuwei and Yun Yuzhen swept over.
Du Fuwei and Yun Yuzhen reached out their hands to grab, but missed.
Judging from their speed of descending, one could conclude they didn’t know any light-body techniques. However, their technique were totally different from ordinary ones. Naturally Du Fuwei and Yun Yuzhen couldn't possibly know the true situation.
Hand in hand, they crushed and snapped a ancient tree branch, disappearing from everyone’s sight.
Du Fuwei yowled towards the sky, with indescribable sorrow and sadness.
Yun Yuzhen stood there in idle, lost with thoughts. If she hadn’t wanted to use them, they would still be living happily on that tranquil beach at this moment. Only then did she realize that she had subtlely developed a special feeling towards the boys.
Du Fuwei turned around suddenly. “You shall all die with them!”He stated coldly.
Alerted, Yun Yuzhen leapt back to stand with her men.
As Du Fuwei’s men swarmed in, they were cornered to the far side of the cliff.
Fu Fuwei’s expression changed suddenly as he heard the howling of wolves coming up the cliff. “Damn! Get lost, all of you!”He shouted.
Then he jumped down the cliff.
At that time Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had already landed in the dense forests below. Bottles were shattered, leaving traces of blood in the trees and the meadows.
Despite being painful as hell, they knew it was not the time to complain. Rolling and crawling, they made a bloody way down the slope. Their weapons and money sacks were all lost, but they could afford no time to check back.
Since they had managed to survive the fall, so others were more than capable to jump down and search for them.
Suddenly they heard the howling of wolves coming at them. Horrified, they jumped atop the trees. Several hungry wolves sneak out, sniffing at the blood that spilled on the ground.
Kou Zhong called out to Xu Ziling and jumped to another tree, followed by Xu Ziling. Before long they had already gone.
Du Fuwei had just reached the foothills when he saw multitudes of wolves fighting on the blood stained meadows. Enraged at this scene, he unleashed his anger upon these pathetic wolves.
The two were lucky indeed. If not for the fighting wolves that caught his attention, Du Fuwei would surely have noticed the noise they made as they were leaving.
Before dusk they had made fifty miles and were too tired to go any further. They were happy to find a stream nearby to clean their bodies and wash their blood-stained clothes.
As moon rose high up in the sky, they bathed in the stream water, remembering the wonderful moment when they first met Fu Junchuo, which was so unreal, like a distant dream.
Xu Ziling said :”Where are we now?”
Kou Zhong pondered for a while before he spoke :”We were sailing west along Huai River before turning back. Then we went north on land. We should be somewhere between Pengcheng and Donghai county. Hah! Did you remember what that bixch said? Madam Dongming is going to meet Li Yuan in Pengcheng these days? If you want to marry the beautiful Dongming Princess, you should definitely go to Pengcheng.”Apparently this ambitious lad had done his homework on Geography.
Xu Ziling plunged into the water and didn’t emerge shortly. “Have you not suffered enough? Now that everyone believes we’re dead, we’d better go find sister Susu and check out Brother Li’s situation.”He said.
Kou Zhong sneered:”You’re really unambitious. Don't you want to revenge for our mom? If we go to fight Yuwen Huaji now, it will just make him laugh out loud. But I have a brilliant idea.”
Xu Ziling was intrigued and asked:”What’s your idea?”
Kou Zhong answered with confidence :”Of course it is the ledger. Surely Yuwen Clan had also purchased weapons from Dongming Sect, otherwise why did they order Seasand Gang to attack the Flowing Fragrance? Apparently they must’ve wanted to destroy the evidence."
Xu Ziling’s eyes lit up at once.
Kou Zhong whispered :”Come on! Let’s have a race!”
Amazed, Xu Ziling asked:”What race?”
Kou Zhong said:”Let’s see who can get dressed faster, and who has better light-body techniques and get to Peng Cheng first.”
Their eyes met and both boys cheered out loudly, rushing towards their wet clothes that were laid by the stream.
Finally, after so many obstacles, the brothers in arms had regained freedom, setting off to their next adventure.