I give you a longer part today, knowing how much you hate cliffhangers. There's only a bit left of Chapter 2, the Lord's willing, I am going to post it tomorrow.
Book 16 Chapter 2 - Vulnerable Position
On the side, Kou Zhong, who was holding off his troops, watched Wanwan, using flawless defensive style, forcing Ba Fenghan to withdraw from his upper hand position, as well as turning from active to passive. Groaning inwardly, Kou Zhong knew that in term of craftiness, he was definitely not female demon Wanwan's match.
Right now Wanwan seemed to give them a fair chance to fight, yet the actual fact was that it was not as fair as it appeared.
Up to now, Kou Zhong and the others, three men, had always been playing hit and run, they were not really accustomed to cooperate with each other, they merely developed some kind of inadequate complementary tactic.
However, in present situation, based on Ba Fenghan's stubborn and haughty temperament, even though he knew that death was inevitable, he would never run away.
And Kou Zhong must not interfere, or else later on they would not have the face to see other people.
All Ba Fenghan could rely on was himself.
In Ba Fenghan's heart, who had just blocked three hard strikes from Wanwan's Demonic Double-Beheading, welled up an incomparably powerful fighting spirit.
As early as the moment he drew his sword, he had already seen through Wanwan's mind, yet he also knew that he had no other choice.
If he failed to pass this moment, he had no concern over him being killed, but Kou Zhong could forget about leaving this place alive as well.
Ba Fenghan's eyes shone with bright flashes; in this instant, the true qi inside the meridians and acupoints on his body has risen to its peak condition. All the hair on his body stood up on its root.
Following Wanwan's erratic [orig. drifting without a resting place] yet fantastic and mysterious shenfa, the two gleaming short daggers, which were held lightly in her hands, flickered continuously. In her delicate hands, which were better than snow and superior to frost, the daggers turned into two round blurry light and shadow, rendering the opponent unable to guess the attack route. It was continuously changing, and continuously advancing.
There seemed to be indistinct shrill whistle all around, sometimes they seemed to hear it, another time it was unclear whether the sound actually happened in their head, as if it was actually the sound of a ghost wailing.
Yet in the area within three zhang radius, although there was not a single puff of wind, Ba Fenghan felt an enormous pressure so that he had difficulty breathing, and his body was aching so bad that he felt he was about to burst.
Such demonic skill was indeed frightening.
With Wanwan going all-out, before they even clashed with each other, Ba Fenghan already had a bogged down feeling [orig. although he had a cun, he could not move].
Demonic Double-Beheading alternated between fast and slow indeterminately; sometimes advancing, sometime retreating, yet were able to launch deadly attack at any moment.
It was only then did Kou Zhong, who was sitting on the bridge railing behind Ba Fenghan, witness Wanwan's real strength; no wonder when Shi Feixuan's mind was distracted she had to suffer loss from her sneak attack.
At the same time he made up his mind that if necessary, he would disregard everything and make his move to join the fight.
Ba Fenghan let out a loud shout and retreated three steps back.
Kou Zhong was so shocked that he nearly fell back into the river.
At the moment when the blades were clashing against each other, how could he retreat?
Especially against Wanwan, the most prominent Devil School's martial art master after Zhu Yuyan.
After absorbing the Jade Annulus of He Clan's energy, the most significant improvement in Ba Fenghan, three men, was that the sharpness of their senses was multiplied many times over. Even so, facing Wanwan' moves, which were like fantastic demonic dance, it was still difficult for him to fathom.
All his life Ba Fenghan has fought all over the world, from outside the Wall to the Central Plains; he had brilliant insight, which was superior to Kou and Xu, two boys. But Wanwan was like a wisp of smoke, drifting, floating and flashing, making him feel that although he had the power, he could not unleash it, and thus forcing him to shoot without aim, which in turn gave birth to the feeling of frustration and helplessness.
If he lost the upper hand, Wanwan would kill him in a short time, like a strong wind wiping the cloud away. In this situation, where he knew for sure that he was going to die, Ba Fenghan pushed his ability and wisdom to its limit; he used such move, which even Kou Zhong did not understand why he did what he did.
Sure enough, his retreating momentum was successful. With this subtle withdrawal of the qi during a fight between martial art masters, naturally Wanwan wanted to respond; the Demonic Double-Beheading became two streaks of lightning, with the speed of thunderbolt-splitting-the-ear, one in front of another, shooting toward Ba Fenghan.
But like magic Ba Fenghan stopped in the air, and then changed his retreat into advancing movement.
The Beheading Mystery Sword carried a sharp piercing noise of the sword qi splitting the air. It sliced from bottom going up, swiftly stabbing toward the pouncing-over Wanwan's silky breast.
The situation changed immediately.
It was as if Wanwan was delivering herself toward his sword.
Wanwan was already aware that Ba Fenghan was not a coward who would shrink back; his retreating must have a follow-up move. But she had never expected that after obtaining the extraordinary power of the Jade Annulus of He Clan, which transformed the opponent's meridians, he would be able to move in the air with astonishing flashing-lightning, flying sparks speed, and was able to move completely from retreating to advancing in half a blink of an eye. Not only his power did not diminish the slightest bit, but because he was deliberately storing up his power beforehand, his qi increased without letup instead.
One after another the Demonic Double-Beheading poked the Beheading Mystery Sword.
Ba Fenghan could be considered the first person ever who was able to change his move from offensive to defensive just before Wanwan's strike arrived.
When Wanwan's daggers touched his Beheading Mystery Sword, Ba Fenghan's majestic-like-a-mountain tiger's body was bounced twice like a feather, while Wanwan floated back.
Watching this, Kou Zhong was dumbstruck that he even forgot to applaud or cheer.
Wanwan's tender laugh came like a lightly blowing wind.
The air was flowing on the Bridge once again; the breeze was blowing from the Luo River,
Without blinking Ba Fenghan's eyes stared at Wanwan flying backward. He held the Beheading Mystery Sword with the tip pointing at the opponent.
Had Wanwan been pressing on to attack him, it guaranteed that within less than ten moves, he would have been dead.
Wanwan only used the tip of the big toes on her pair of bare feet to support her entire tender, soft, delicate and beautiful body, so she appeared like a beautiful apparition whose feet did not touch the ground, as she was flying back from about five zhang distance.
Her posture was graceful, elegant, without any fixed pattern. Suddenly she made three consecutive rapid spins, her sleeves flared out, and suddenly she was only about a zhang away from Ba Fenghan.
Ba Fenghan, who was standing near the apex of the Bridge, was waiting in full concentration. Following her spinning posture, with another wonderful posture that was so tender and beautiful that it resembled nature itself, Wanwan shot the ‘Floating White Cloud' from her two sleeves, which interweaved into a wave-like line, just like a pair of living, breathing serpent spirits wrapping themselves around each other, fleeing along a meandering and circuitous path, coiling around toward Ba Fenghan.
A chilling wind blew Ba Fenghan's clothes that it fluttered backward, creating rustling noise.
Ba Fenghan's expression became cold and stiff like a mountain rock; no worry, no delight, but his eyes shot terrifyingly bright light.
Although Wanwan's offensive was formidable, he was having a sense of relief, knowing that he still had the strength for an all-out, disregarding-everything battle.
From the moment he, when his momentum was at its highest and concentrated, charged forward but was forced back by Wanwan, using the most bizarre defensive style, he had always been in absolute disadvantageous situation; even his mind and senses were under the opponent's demonic skill's control.
It was an extremely terrifying feeling, as if his entire being was kept isolated in a place outside of the human world.
He could not even feel the blowing wind and the flowing water.
But the instant he was able to break Wanwan's Demonic Double-Beheading, everything was suddenly back to normal.
The moon and the stars regained their brightness, the sound of the River Luo flowing, and the smell of it, which he was very familiar with, has also returned to his senses.
Kou Zhong, who was at the bridge's railings about three zhang behind him, had just wiped the cold sweat from his forehead.
Although he did not know Ba Fenghan's feeling in such situation, but seeing how Wanwan must withdraw her Demonic Double-Beheading and changed into using-softness-to-conquer-strength ribbon, he knew that it was not that Ba Fenghan did not pose any threat to Wanwan.
Ba Fenghan let out an ear-splitting long laugh, filled with unspeakable heroic passion and powerful aura, as using a fantastic footwork he met Wanwan's attack head-on, with his sword lunged forward.
This sword strike was the swift and fierce counterattack stemming from Ba Fenghan's restored confidence. It looked simple, but actually with the essence, qi and spirit accumulated to its peak condition, reaching the realm of transforming the complicated into simplicity, the realm of grand master level, in using the clumsiness to overcome skill.
The sea of true qi within his system was like the torrential current of the flood of the Great River, flowing along his meridians toward the tip of his Beheading Mystery Sword, turning into a ‘chi, chi!' sword qi splitting the air as it struck toward Wanwan; its momentum was astonishing to the extreme.
On the surface Wanwan's beautiful eyes still appeared pained and hazy, and with hidden bitterness, secret grudge in her jade countenance, but actually the astonishment in her heart grew without restraint.
Even with her intelligence and insight, she found it difficult to understand why in terms of tactics, momentum, and inner power, how could Ba Fenghan become this formidable.
She had already drafted a plan: when coming face to face with the Beheading Mystery Sword, she would use her consummate skill ‘delicate hands controlling the dragon', with which she promptly put Shang Peng and Shang He, two martial art masters, senior figures of the Flying Horse Ranch, under control, by using the ribbon in her right hand to entangle the Beheading Mystery Sword, and then firmly sucking the opponent into her Demonic Power. At that time, even if Kou Zhong wanted to intervene, it would be too late.
Who would have thought that with his sword, Ba Fenghan kept pressing forward with the repelling-three-armies-easily momentum. Moreover, the sword qi splitting the air arrived first. Other than blocking it head-on, without any way out, without any other choice, she had to respond by withdrawing the Demonic Ribbon back into her bluish-green gauzed sleeve, and using the other sleeve to brush against the blade of the opponent's sword.
This was the second time Ba Fenghan managed to force Wanwan to change move.
He was well aware in his heart that it was not that he was able to really overwhelm the opponent, but that he was able to see through Wanwan's biggest weakness; which was that in order to kill him, she was unwilling to receive internal injury that would be difficult to heal in a short period of time.
Wanwan's second combat could happen any time, and Wanwan, who had snatched early victory, naturally refused to let go of such a golden opportunity.
Ba Fenghan was able to see this exact point. Therefore, with each sword strike, he showed no mercy. Using the life-for-life move, he forced Wanwan into a situation where she was unable to unleash the full power of the Demonic Skill.
The sleeve clashed with the sword.
As if jolted by a lightning bolt, Ba Fenghan was brushed away by Wanwan that he had to withdraw five steps back and nearly vomited blood.
His blood and qi surged, his ears ringing. Fortunately Wanwan was also pushed back by the reaction force that she floated backward; otherwise, if she continued with chain-attack, it would be difficult for him to even have a narrow escape.
Finally Kou Zhong could not hold himself back anymore; springing up from the railings, he dashed toward Ba Fenghan's side, and said with a loud laugh, "Beauty, you have seen how formidable he is! In order to save time, why don't you call all your helpers to come out? Let everybody come out to settle this matter once and for all. Won't it be better than you flying back and forth on the bridge, tiring you to half death? Ha!”
Wanwan stopped about a zhang away; inwardly she hated Kou Zhong for wrecking her big plan of seizing this opportunity to launch a killer move to finish Ba Fenghan. However, on the surface she giggled tenderly and said, "Shame on you for speaking like that. You plainly broke Jianghu's rules of one-on-one battle by interfering by force, yet you still speak pompously.”
Kou Zhong giggled and said, "Wan Beauty, you are absolutely right. Presently Jianghu is in chaos that nobody wants to follow the rule, and I simply love to go with the tide. Anyway, back to the topic: right now you have not proven your ability to put this Ba boy under control. Therefore, even if you called some more people to join the excitement, we make no guarantee that we are not going to slip away.”
Even with her confidence and cold nature, Wanwan could not stop her pretty countenance from changing slightly.
It should be noted that Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan had reached the level of even a mob besieging them would not be able to hold them off.
If the two of them fighting to the death and did not run away, or perhaps they were fighting on a plain or similar terrain where it would be difficult to run away, it would still be possible to keep them from escaping.
But on the Tianjin Bridge, or on similar terrain overlooking a long river, a place accessible from all sides, considering the two men were not amateurs in term of escaping, if she wanted to intercept them and kill them off, only by having her Shifu Zhu Yuyan's assistance, plus with the help of other martial art experts from their Sect, would she have the confidence of pulling this off.
Too bad that in order to heal Shangguan Long's injury, her Shifu true, primary energy suffered wear and tear, so that she was forced to retreat to a quiet place to recover, and was unable to be on the scene. Hence the reason she had to do it herself. Who would have thought that Ba Fenghan was able to withstand her all-out effort to kill him? Hence she was now put in the situation where there was no room to advance or to retreat. Fortunately she had made other arrangement; otherwise it would be even more difficult for her to step down.
Smiling slightly, Ba Fenghan asked, "Where is your honorable master's immortal tracks?”
Wanwan let out a silver-bell like tender laughter; her dreamy and hazy beautiful eyes stared deeply into the two men's eyes as she spoke tenderly, "How about we make a bet? If you can break through the Demonic Formation of our Sect's four elders, I will let you take away Fu Junyu, and will not interfere in any way.”
Kou Zhong roared in laughter; he said, "In the end, you are still afraid of our escaping technique, which is second to none under the heavens. Now that we are already clear about your foundation, why would we be afraid of you? Your Shaoye is not interested in whatever proposal you have. Just be frank and straightforward, release your troops, let us enjoy some excitement.”
Wanwan sighed; smiling wryly, she said, "Your greatest skill is that you do not know yourself. I have wasted a lot of time in speaking nonsense, the purpose is to build a siege, and now it is complete! How about you try slipping away with your tail tucked between your legs and let Wanwan see it?”
All along Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan have been secretly watching the surrounding area.
The Heavenly Street near both ends of the Tianjin Bridge was still dark and deserted, without any sign of human; nothing looked the slightest bit unusual.
Several hundred steps away from either side of the Bridge's head, they faintly saw armed men stopping the pedestrians to get close. But these men only play minor role, they should not pose any threat. Besides, they did not look like Yin Gui Pai's men coming to build a siege. It was indeed quite baffling.
Frowning, Kou Zhong said, "Wan Beauty, please don't scare me, everybody knew I am timid.”
Wanwan smiled and said, "Who wanted to scare you?”
And then, she tenderly shouted, "Release the arrows!”
The two men were shocked.
※ ※ ※