Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 61: Chapter 6: Impassable Danger, Circling Back to Life
Book 61: Chapter 6: Impassable Danger, Circling Back to Life
Ba Fenghan, who always appeared to be cold and detached, ruthless, and focused his aspiration to the way of the sword, was in fact very rich in emotions. Only because he had been tormented by his past experiences that he buried his emotions deeply, because he was afraid of receiving another blow in this aspect. In this era when the strong ruled the roost, he discovered the truth of ‘only those who are ruthless enough can survive’, furthermore, he was hoping to train his emotion to master the Tie Bu Shan Gongfu [iron-cloth garment skill] so that it would be impervious to sword and spear, that he would not be weighed down by any emotion. However, the successive appearances of Fu Junyu and Badai’er made his heart, which was hiding under cover of protection – suffer enough pain.
On the way to Yu He An, Xu Ziling was thinking about Ba Fenghan’s situation, including his tragic childhood and his current misery.
In the battle of He Lian Fort in the past, when Xu Ziling, Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan, three men were facing Xieli and the Golden Wolf Army under his command, and thought they would surely die, Ba Fenghan once revealed his true feelings, the one he was thinking of was Badai’er. From this, it was clear that he could not forget his love for Badai’er.
If Ba Fenghan could not undo the matter that gnawed at his mind, in the battle with Bi Xuan, he would undoubtedly be defeated.
Yu He An appeared ahead, the joy of seeing Shi Qingxuan welled up in his heart, merging with the worry so that it became a complex, hard to explain state of mind. His thoughts and feelings multiplied, he could not help but heaving a sigh.
He was about to raise his hand to knock on the door. Right this moment, the alarm went off in his heart. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
This thought had just arisen, two streams of swift and fierce saber qi separately came from behind and above, attacking his head and back at an astonishing speed. Murderous aura, saber qi completely enveloped him at the same time.
It was only after the other side launched their attack that he generated the induction, clearly the opponent were first-class martial art masters, not easy to deal with. If the other party still had helpers, this battle indeed would not be optimistic.
His thoughts turning at the speed of lightning, his heart and spirit entered the Moon in the Well, departing, but not really departing from the Martial Way – realm, everything was plainly visible, nothing nearby was overlooked, yet he grasped the situation some distance away. Immediately he knew that he had fallen into the nine-deaths-and-still-alive dangerous situation.
Just like Li Yuan said, the scenery of Lin Chi Xuan [overlooking-the-pond pavilion (with a view)] was not inferior to Ling Yan Ge [rising-high-smoke pavilion (usually two-storied)].
The size of Tao Chi [pottery pond] was on par with Yan Chi [smoke pond]. The difference was that the Tao Chi was made up of more than a dozen lakes and ponds, big and small, of different shapes, strung together. The halls [dian, of a palace or a temple], pavilions and balconies were either built facing the water, or leaning to the water, borrowing the water – of the rivers and streams, high and low, strewn at random – within the gardens. Under the streams of sunshine, the waves reflected the calabash-shaped windows and whitewashed walls, doubling and increasing the elegance, making people feel that whether they lived or traveled, they could fully enjoy the delight of life of serenity. Even more touching was the semi-circular stone arch bridge reflected in the water, where the virtual and the real merged. The corridors with green roof tiles and red walls connecting the bridge’s ends made the beautiful scenery continue on and on. Going through the half-hidden and half-visible whirling trees made people’s heart bewitched, their spirit intoxicated.
However, what attracted Kou Zhong’s attention was a grand, exceptionally big tent on the grassy land on the north bank of Tao Chi, brimming with Tujue ethnic flavor. It looked so out of place with the surrounding area, yet there was also a feeling of seamless heavenly clothes, in that it blended with the surrounding into an integral whole.
Glancing around, he did not see anyone, the quiet atmosphere was unusual.
Ke Dazhi led him onto a semi-circular arch bridge to the north, he stopped and said with a sigh, “If I, Ke Dazhi, were in charge, I would definitely use clear saber and open spear to settle the differences clearly with Shaoshuai, instead of using scheme and crafty conduct, which will only make Shaoshuai to look down on us.”
Kou Zhong came to his side, he looked down at the beautiful scenery of the fish moving about in the water, and spoke heavily, “Why don’t Dazhi imitate the swimming fish in water, free and easy, unmoved by the struggle in Jianghu?”
Shaken, Ke Dazhi turned his powerful body around to look at him, the refined light in his pair of eyes flaring greatly, he fixed his eyes at him and said, “Xiang Yushan indeed did not guess incorrectly, Shaoshuai and Ziling are coming to Chang’an this time to help Li Shimin to achieve his dream of the emperor’s task of establishing and maintaining hegemony, and not simply to join hands and form an alliance with Li Yuan. All along we were skeptical, until this moment I personally hear that Shaoshuai envying the swimming fish in the water and the delight of forgetting the Jianghu strife, even advising me, Ke Dazhi; only now do I know that Xiang Yushan’s insight is thorough and accurate.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong smiled bitterly in his heart; he finally divulged the inside information, not because of negligence at all, but because he considered Ke Dazhi as an intimate friend and a brother, so he did not have the heart to guard against him. Regardless of their opposing viewpoints, Xiang Yushan could be regarded as the person who ‘knew’ the two boys, the one who fully grasped the way of thinking in his and Xu Ziling’s heart.
Ke Dazhi continued, “Ziling needs not be mentioned, but Xiang Yushan insists that Shaoshuai practically has no interest in the emperor’s throne, that you only regard the contention for hegemony over the world is an exciting and interesting game. Once the winning ticket is in hand, you will lose interest. On top of that, there is Ziling’s influence on you, which will produce the thought to back down. But how did you convince Song Que?”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “We are all brothers, I really don’t want to conceal anything from you, even if you use this to deal with or coerce me. The reason why I was able to persuade Song Que is because your army is pressing on our territory, so that we feel that helping Li Shimin becomes the only option. All right! From what I can see, mingling under Xieli, you are not pleased with yourself at all. Based on your, LaoGe’s talent and martial arts, where would you possibly cannot accomplish much? You could crisscross the world unhindered as you pleased, yet you insist on associating with crafty villains and lowly people, you even have to look at Xieli’s likes and dislikes, and his face – to conduct yourself. Such a grievance, is it worth the trouble?”
Ke Dazhi’s countenance relaxed, his pair of eyes emitted a complicated expression, and then he cast his gaze to the fish swimming freely under the bridge. Sighing in deject, he said, “Shaoshuai is for the life and property of the common people of the Central Earth, while I, Ke Dazhi am for the future of the prairie, for the Tujue warriors’ honor and disgrace. Between the two sides, there is no leeway to tolerate each other. However, Shaoshuai, please rest assured, Ke Dazhi will never reveal Shaoshuai’s true intention.”
Kou Zhong said, “Dazhi should know that the key to persuading Song Que lies in Li Shimin’s benevolence in regarding Hua and Yi [China and barbarians (non-Han)] as one. This is the complete opposite of Song Que’s view of outside tribes as the enemy; it is also the opposite of the past dynasties’ rulers of our Central Earth, representing the new generation’s spirit of the blending between Hua and Yi. Therefore, there is no place for the contradiction between you and me proposed by Dazhi. We are the new generation; we should have new ideas to deal with conflicts between nations. The so-called satisfied with what one has, the prairie and the Central Earth, each has its own merits and distinguishing feature. If the strong wants to invade and occupy the other side’s territory, it will bring about never-ending disasters. Whichever side is powerful, the other side will suffer a calamity.”
Shaking his head, Ke Dazhi said, “It’s too late! What Yang Guang has done has caused a bloody feud, big hatred between the Central Earth and our various tribes in the grasslands that cannot be resolved. Everything can only be settled by war. My advice to Shaoshuai is not to attempt vainly in this matter; Shengzhe is waiting respectfully for your great self inside the tent. If you can leave alive, we will find another opportunity to talk. Ay! Be careful!” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling did not need to look back, he could still clearly and unmistakably draw a picture in his mind as if he had witnessed it with his own eyes the Khitan young martial art master Huyan Tiezhen grasping a pair of sabers coming to attack. He did not understand how he could have this ability, but the fact was like that.
His spiritual response did not stop there. Huyan Tiezhen did not act alone. Attacking at the same time were Ma Ji’s top rank subordinate Tuoba Miefu and Han Chao’an, who were separately attacking in secret from both sides. Under Huyan Tiezhen’s swift and fierce saber qi attracting his attention, they intended to carry out an even more vicious surprise attack the gods did not know, the ghosts did not perceive.
The enemy launched two assassinations one after another, both times were when he was on his way to see Shi Qingxuan. It could clearly be seen that the other side was plotting actively, their arrangement was meticulous, exploiting the moment when his heart and spirit were distracted because he was sentimentally attached to Shi Qingxuan to come for a surprise attack to catch him off guard.
The deployment of the assassination itself was indeed impossible to fault, the mighty power of Huyan Tiezhen’s double sabers was indeed unstoppable, two gusts of saber wind completely enveloped him, as he pounced down from high up in the air, while Xu Ziling had the door and the wall in front of him blocking the way. In the terrifying moment when there was no room to advance or retreat, he was forced to abruptly turn around to take the move with all his strength. Even if he could take Huyan Tiezhen’s swift and fierce move, it would be difficult to escape Tuoba Miefu and Han Chao’an’s killer move coming one after another.
These thoughts flashed through his mind at the high speed of lightning flash, sparks of flame. He clearly grasped that Huyan Tiezhen seemed to be attacking at the same time, but actually, there were differences in light or heavy, early or late – in the double-saber momentum. From the double-saber’s saber qi’s reaction, he even grasped accurately, without the slightest error, the enemy’s double sabers’ angle of attack, the strength and the attack point, to the level of knowing the enemy like the back of his hand.
Xu Ziling laughed calmly, he secretly pinched the Great Vajra Chakra image, his body spun around, and both hands transformed into endless and ever-changing hand images like a thousand-handed Avalokitesvara, tightly protecting his whole body, no crack could be sought.
The picture of spiritual sense was replaced by a realistic scene.
The three enemies wore black hooded nightwalker attire. In the full light of day, it particularly made people feel the disharmony with the environment, so much so that there was an absurd, ridiculous perception. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Of course, the threatening power of the three-person joint attack was absolutely no idle matter. This moment, Huyan Tiezhen’s double sabers, like two streaks of lightning, were striking down from high in the sky. Suddenly he saw as if Xu Ziling, out of nothing, grew thousands of pairs of palms, and each palm continuously produced different image method, so that the saber blade, as if it generated reaction, trembled and shook. The originally exquisite and wonderful changes, swift and fierce, incomparably brilliant saber technique, like two fiendish vipers seeking any gap to enter, finally had its speed affected and slowed down a little. Even if it was only a hairsbreadth difference, it was precisely the gap that Xu Ziling was striving for.
Tuoba Miefu had a lance in his hand; all along he and Han Chao’an have been holding back and hiding under cover. This moment they no longer had any misgivings, with all their strength they stabbed at Xu Ziling’s right side. The lance in his hand was like an angry dragon coming out of a hole, the qi power it carried completely sealed Xu Ziling’s right side. From about a zhang away, the lance qi already locked Xu Ziling tightly, like a fantasy the entire stream of energy reached the very tip of the spear, moving in swift and fierce trajectory, appearing to be clumsy but was actually ingenious, ruthlessly stabbing in full strength.
Although Han Chao’an could be considered martial art master in Gaoli, he was obviously one notch inferior to his two partners, however, the long sword in his hand drew a ball of sword flower splitting the air, coming to attack, enough to block the escape path on Xu Ziling’s left side, posing a great threat to him.
Xu Ziling laughed aloud and said, “Three gentlemen came at the right time!”
His left-hand finger stretching out, it hit Huyan Tiezhen’s right-hand blade right in the middle, the accumulated Treasure-Vase Image Qi was sent into the opponent’s long saber in the shape of an unstoppable sharp needle.
At the same time, he shifted in Tuoba Miefu’s direction, his right palm slapped.
Even with Shi Zhixuan’s ability, encountering Xu Ziling’s needle-prick-style Treasured-Vase Image Qi, he would feel greatly unable to endure, much less the inferior-by-a-large-distance Huyan Tiezhen. This Khitan martial art master immediately let out a stifled groan and was thrown backward. He did not sustain injuries, it could already be considered very rare, forget about the long saber in his left hand continuing its attack.
Since Xu Ziling strenuously forced back Huyan Tiezhen, the threat was greatly reduced, even more so, what the heart wishes, the hand accomplishes, his slapping palm suddenly changed, just the moment before coming in contact with the tip of the opponent’s lance, it changed to the Inner Lion Binding Image; the change was subtle and marvelous, could be rated as divine composition. Even if Tuoba Miefu exhausted everything and gave it his all, the lance momentum changed repeatedly, it was still sealed by his image method that it was too difficult to make a cun advancement, plus even though he wanted to unload it, he was simply unable to do so.
Two streams of power collided, Tuoba Miefu’s whole body shook violently, he staggered back, unable to control his legs, he retreated two steps back.
By the time Tuoba Miefu took the first step back, Xu Ziling not only did not suffer the least bit of damage, he even borrowed a small amount of true qi from his overbearing, vigorous lance power, and by relying on the method of reversing his true qi, he seized the opportunity to bounce back to crash against Han Chao’an, and his leg flew at the same time, to kick the vital point on the opponent’s lower belly. His right hand performed the Great Vajra Chakra Image, he confused the enemy while protecting his body. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
The slightly retreating Huyan Tiezhen was exceptional as well. Unexpectedly he was able to regroup the foot of his disposition of troops and attacked for the second time. However, compared to before, the threat to Xu Ziling was greatly inferior.
Han Chao’an had never thought that after staking it all against two major martial art masters of his side, Xu Ziling was still able to launch such a swift and fierce move. The originally wonderful move, violent attack aimed at Xu Ziling, to catch him off guard, immediately became reckless, unwise move. In a flurry, he changed his moves; the sword flower disappeared, he dragged the sword and withdrew his move.
Just when Xu Ziling thought that victory was within his grasp and he could get away and leave secretly, peculiar change suddenly arose.
Xu Ziling suddenly felt that the air around him was being sucked, yet this empty space of nothingness turned into a solid body. A burst of terrifying, shocking-to-the-extreme-point qi power, like ten-thousand-jin boulder, was pressing down on him. Not only his entire body was in sharp pain like it was being pricked with a needle, it was also difficult to breathe, his leg kicking Han Chao’an was immediately restrained and was slowing down, just like sensing a demon coming to attack in his nightmare, a helpless feeling of having the strength but difficult to use it.
In his mind, he first thought of Xu Kaishan’s Da Ming Zun Jiao demonic skill, and then thought of his ‘Yu Jin Wan Fa Gen Yuan Zhi Jing’, after that the vivid image of the ‘Shadow Assassin’ Yang Xuyan appeared in his mind.
This kid again.
Yang Xuyan lived up to his reputation as the ‘Shadow Assassin’. Unexpectedly he could hide behind the courtyard door without him even sensing his presence. At this critical moment when Xu Ziling’s life and death were hanging by a thread, he used his brilliant and sinister move of striking the ox over the mountain, fully used his terrifying skill, the blend of ‘Bu Si Yin Fa’ and ‘Yu Jin Wan Fa Gen Yuan Zhi Jing’, which had made considerable progress, through the door on him, in cooperation with the three major martial art masters in an attempt to put him to death in one fell swoop.
Under the influence of the true qi, no matter how much more difficult Yang Xuyan ‘invisibility’ was, Xu Ziling could almost ‘see’ his darkened demonic punch about to come out through the door, blasting his back and taking his little life.
On the right, Tuoba Miefu finally steadied his troop disposition, his pair of wrists flicked, his lance vibrated, he launched another attack.
Xu Ziling’s spirit was empty and penetrating, even in such absolute disadvantageous position, he was still calm and peaceful like the bright moon in the well, seeing all the mysterious changes, and grasping the killing offensive coming together from four directions. He withdrew the kicking leg, and placed it behind the other leg, so that he stood on one leg like a pillar. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
The spiraling power arose, but it was not to attack the enemy or to defeat the enemy, rather, it was being applied to himself; appearing to be slow but was actually fast, quick as lightning he broke away from the shackle of Yang Xuyan’s terrifying demonic power.
Two hands turned into millions of images, making people did not know what they were attacking, let alone what they were defending.
‘Pow!’ the pitch-black fist pierced through the door as if it was a piece of thin paper, wood splinters splashed everywhere, but the rest of the courtyard door did not suffer the least bit of damage. The scene was so strange that it was chilling.
Just before the attack from four sides reached his body, Xu Ziling rose up like a spinning top and ascended into the sky.
The outer courtyard of Yu He An was dark and quiet, no human shadow was in sight.
About three zhang above the ground, Xu Ziling’s one mouthful of true qi was completely exhausted. In fact, dealing with Huyan Tiezhen, Tuoba Miefu, and Han Chao’an’s successive violent attacks just now, he appeared to be calm, but the wear and tear of his essence was inevitable. When Yang Xuyan launched his violent killer move across the door, if he had not borrowed some of qi power from Tuoba Miefu and transformed it for his own use, he would have been injured by Yang Xuyan’s demonic power; therefore, this time he was exhausted and lacking of power, a feeling of weakness invaded his body.
However, his spirit still maintained its empty and penetrating realm, no anxiety, no fear, because he finally won the precious time to recover his breath, relying on his fantastic power, a blend of the ‘Secret to Long Life’, Jade Annulus of He Clan, and the Demonic Emperor’s Relic, which gave him the confidence that before the enemy chased and attacked, he would recover his qi and get away.
The spinning momentum reached its end.
Facing Yu He An, one after another the three enemies outside the courtyard wall soared and attacked from the sky.
Inside the courtyard, wearing black hood, only exposing his pair of eyes, Yang Xuyan also retracted his demonic hand, which had turned from black to white. ‘Ring!’ he pulled out the Shadow Sword hanging on his back, and looked up at him. His pair of eyes emitted a strange, indescribable unusual light.
By the time Xu Ziling felt that something was not right, a burst of severe-without-equal saber qi filled the air and struck down at an astonishing speed, ahead of Huyan Tiezhen, a group of martial art masters, from the top of an old tree on the right side of the courtyard, piercing through the air. The saber qi completely locked and enveloped him.
Momentarily Xu Ziling’s entire body felt like it was cut by a knife and pricked by needle, like he had fallen into an icehouse, his eardrums were buzzing with the sound of the saber qi splitting the air. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
As far as he was able to see, Xu Ziling could only see terrifying saber light. He only saw the saber but not the person. In his heart, he thought of ‘Ge Suwen’, three characters, and the death that was about to descend on him. Furthermore, he knew he had already lost the golden opportunity to recover his vitality to save his life, both his body and mind were intimidated by the opponent’s swift and fierce, terrifying saber qi, difficult to obtain any margin to counterattack.
Right this moment when he was trapped in an inferior situation, Shi Zhixuan’s voice, coming from no-one-knows where, shouted coldly, “Who dares to hurt him!”
The next moment, Xu Ziling felt that someone caught him by the waist, followed by the sound of clashing weapons and qi power lingering on faintly, mixed with the enemy’s muffled groan and angry shout, and then Shi Zhixuan took him into the sky and rapidly moved him away from the nine-deaths-and-still-alive dangerous battlefield.
Kou Zhong went straight to the huge tent, he saluted through the hanging tent curtain and said, “This kid Kou Zhong, calling to pay my respects to Bi Xuan Shengzhe.”
Bi Xuan’s voice came out, saying, “Shaoshuai is finally here! No need to be overly courteous, please come into the tent to meet.”
Straightening up his chest, Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Shengzhe please note clearly, if Shengzhe wants to persuade this kid to cancel the alliance with Li Yuan, this move can be avoided.”
Bi Xuan fell silent. It was quite half a day later that he said, “What kind of person Shaoshuai is, how could I not know until now? The more the gold is polished, the brighter it is. The more the charcoal is washed, the blacker it is. Once a person’s character is formed, there is no human power that can change it. However, Shaoshuai should also understand, we are a people of the wolves. We have lived on the mighty, wonderful and majestic prairie for a long time, and have matured and thrived in the continuous, unceasing conflict. Today, we are dominating the earth and have formed our own unalterable national character. The warriors’ honor and glory are won over with blood and life. Once this goal is seen clearly, it will never shrink back and change. I, Bi Xuan, never liked to talk too much, only by looking at Tuli Khan’s face, I have no choice but to personally listen to Shaoshuai. Will Shaoshuai choose to be brothers and friends with us in peaceful coexistence, or to be mortal enemies that the two cannot exist together?”
Kou Zhong finally understood that Bi Xuan summoning him to come and see him today, not only to ask him to make a choice between friend or foe, but also a life-and-death decision to fight or not to fight. Taking a deep breath, he said, “My intentions, I have clearly told Yan Shuai [Commander]. If I obtain the chance for a fair decisive battle, I, Kou Zhong, will fight to the end and die without regret. Obtaining Shengzhe’s favor, it is indeed my, Kou Zhong’s honor and glory.”
Bi Xuan let out a carefree laughter. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
The tent curtain opened automatically without any wind, it separated to the left and right. A burst of burning hot, suffocating air stream came out of the tent. Even in this beautiful garden where the spring was warm, the flowers blooming, Kou Zhong still had a terrible feeling of being in a dry, ruthless and barren desert.