Here's the end of Chapter 8. My target is to post Chapter 9 this year.
Already in the air, Qu Ao's countenance changed again. Because unexpectedly Ba Fenghan was able to accurately predict the moment he would leap, and see through his intention and strategy.
It seemed like an impossible thing to do, yet Ba Fenghan was able to accomplish.
It was only this moment that Qu Ao finally understood why at Tianjin Bridge a moment ago, although Wanwan was giving it everything she had, for the given period of time she was unable to do anything to Ba Fenghan. He also realized that he was making a fatal mistake: underestimating the enemy.
The arrow was already on the bow, it had to be released.
If he changed move or retreated, he would be caught in a situation where there was no hope of reprieve.
Qu Ao flew over Ba Fenghan's head. Transforming complexity into simplicity, his right hand clawed toward Ba Fenghan's head.
There seemed to be nothing extraordinary about this claw, but the momentum path was concentrated, strong, swift and severe, creating a feeling in his opponent's heart that it must not be touched. The most frightening thing was that this one claw embodied five different true powers that the fingers could produce: sucking, stabbing, parrying, sealing, and cutting. So unpredictable that it was very difficult to guard against.
Ba Fenghan's eyes were flashing spiritedly. With a long laugh the Beheading Mystery Sword followed his footwork sideways, and then flashed diagonally up.
Five explosions echoed one after another as the sword met the claw. With the speed that naked eyes could not see, Qu Ao's five fingers successively pressed down, knocked against, swept, stabbed, and hacked down, in exquisite-and-mysterious-beyond-belief technique, attacking the Beheading Mystery Sword.
Be Fenghan let out a stifled grunt and staggered two steps sideways, while Qu Ao borrowed the reaction force to soar two more zhang upwards. Like an eagle he spiraled in the air, in preparation of the second round of attack.
On the side, seeing how Ba Fenghan's acute spirit was thwarted and he even fell into disadvantageous position, Changshu Mou and the others immediately burst into cheers.
Only Qu Ao knew the hardship he was in.
He actually started to fear Ba Fenghan's brilliant eyesight and the unpredictable [orig. gods and demons could not fathom] changes in his strategy. He was intentionally going all-out, hoping to injure the enemy in one fell swoop, so that the remaining question would be: how much longer can the enemy take the beating?
Who would have thought that Ba Fenghan's true qi unexpectedly produced five different changes one after another? He did not yield even for one step against Qu Ao's ‘nine changes of coagulating truth', and before Qu Ao's claw made contact with the sword's blade, he was one step ahead in exploiting the retreating momentum to get away, so that Qu Ao's follow-up move could not be launched, forcing him to soar halfway into the air, and could not take the advantage of his favorable situation to continue the assault.
This claw was actually the culmination of Qu Ao's lifelong skill and knowledge. Since he failed to injure Ba Fenghan, the blow to his confidence was difficult to estimate.
He really could not understand why in just a few days' time, Ba Fenghan's internal energy and his swordsmanship would advance by leaps and bounds like this.
Underneath, Ba Fenghan stood motionless, while immediately circulating his true qi, which had been improved dramatically by the Jade Annulus of He Clan, to neutralize Qu Ao's true power invading his body, and quietly waiting for his second round of attacks.
Qu Ao suddenly accelerated; using the male-eagle-seizing-the-rabbit momentum, he glided down from a height of three zhang in the air.
His hands turned into thousands of claw shadows, qi power shot out wildly, enveloping an area of about three zhang in diameter on the ground with Ba Fenghan in the middle. None of the spectators did not know that he was using this incomparably bold and powerful, formidable move to force the opponent into a position where evading was not an option and he could only meet the attack head on.
Although just a moment ago, due to his qigong was boiling Ba Fenghan nearly vomited blood, but because he controlled and transformed it, by this time he had regained his foundation, the true qi within his body climbed into its peak condition again. Thereupon, although he was under the enemy's waves of attack, his fighting will was not shaken the least bit.
During the Battle of Tianjin Bridge earlier, he was well aware that in term of power, he was still a notch below Qu Ao. Moreover, because the forte of Qu Ao's ‘Thirteen-Style Eagle Transformation' was in its move changes, his own sword style could not gain too much advantage. Hence the reason he was using clever verbal attack to weaken the opponent's momentum and confidence, and raised trepidation in the opponent's heart.
And now was an extremely good place to start.
If it were someone else, when his bravery diminished a little, he would definitely adopt a defensive position. But Ba Fenghan was not an ordinary person at all. With a cold shout, his feet stepped in profound-mystery footwork, each step was difficult for the opponent to fathom his sword momentum, the Beheading Mystery Sword moved in unimaginable angle, altering between fast and slow indeterminately, he met the claw shadow descending upon him from the sky.
The sound of the claw clashing against the sword sounded like the pitter-patter of the rain, sometimes high in intensity, sometimes scattered.
In the midst of word flashes flaring out, cold light bursting out like lightning, Qu Ao, like a agile, unfathomable eagle, displayed all kinds of posture in the air; sometimes like a spiraling eagle pouncing down, sometimes flying at an angle, as if he was absolutely weightless.
Watching this, Changshu Mou and the others frowned, because they were well aware that Qu Ao has already given everything he had, he even used up the skill he usually kept at the bottom of his chest. However, Ba Fenghan was still as formidable as a deity. Unexpectedly he sealed and blocked every move, using the internal energy which strength was completely outside everybody's expectation, without yielding a single cun against Qu Ao's swift and severe offensive, which came down like torrential rain or a gale spraying down from the sky.
Everybody knew that although Ba Fenghan was caught in passive position, he was not defeated at all; instead, he was waiting for an opportunity to strike back. And if he did, it would be the moment Qu Ao was defeated or even perished.
Changshu Mou signaled Genggehu'er and Hua Lingzi with his eyes, and took the lead to approach the two combatants engaged in endless bitter fighting.
Meanwhile Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had just rushed out the gate; they saw the guards at the door were flocking outside to watch the battle from afar.
Eager to try Changshu Mou, who was mobilizing his troops nearby, Xu Ziling signaled Kou Zhong with his eyes. The latter understood his intention, and cried out in loud voice, "Ba Fenghan and Qu Ao are here in decisive battle, don't miss this treat for the eyes!”
His voice traveled far away; not only it echoed along the street, it also reverberated around the Tingliu Pavilion.
Qu Ao gave everything he had, eventually he broke through Ba Fenghan's tight sword net, looked like he was about to slap the opponent's face and end the fierce battle. But Ba Fenghan parried the attack with full-powered left hand palm strike.
Ba Fenghan's body, from head to toe, shook. The flagstone under his feet shattered. And he spurted a bit of blood.
Qu Ao was also jolted by the impact that he rose up halfway into the air. Although his attack managed to injure the opponent, in his heart he did not have the slightest bit of complacency. Ba Fenghan's most terrifying strength was his seemingly inexhaustible potential. The longer they fought, the more dauntless he was, while a prolonged battle would only bring harm to him without any benefit.
Ba Fenghan's internal qi cycled on, his internal injury has healed for the most part, and he immediately launched a counterattack.
But Qu Ao was worthy to be regarded as the number one grand master of martial art study among the Tiele people. Under Qu Ao's seemingly endless fierce offensive, it was only now did Ba Fenghan finally find the opportunity to strike back.
Sword rays suddenly vanished.
Following his sword, Ba Fenghan's body suddenly turned into a strike of lightning, shooting toward Qu Ao, who was still soaring in the air.
The sound of fluttering sleeves came from the direction of Man Qing Yuan; some were rushing out of the main gate, some were leaping over the wall. The first dozen or so to arrive happened to see Ba Fenghan's sword strike, which could be rated as seizing-the-heaven-and-the-earth natural skill.
Qu Ao has never imagined that after receiving injury, Ba Fenghan was still able to carry out this alarming-the-heaven-moving-the-earth formidable sword move. Knowing that the turn of events was far from good, he had no choice but to abruptly raise a mouthful of true power, pressing down his surging-endlessly blood and qi, and pounce down with all his strength.
The sound of qi power clashing resounded far and near.
Like a kite with cut string, Ba Fenghan flew at an angle and landed on the ground, staggered a bit, and then stood steadily like a mountain.
Qu Ao circled in the air, flew toward his own troops, and slowly landed on the ground.
The Beheading Mystery Sword returned to its sheath.
Hearing the sound, Qu Ao's body shook. His eyes emitted vicious and stern expression as he stared at Ba Fenghan, who was standing five zhang away from him.
The two men looked at each other with defiant expression on their faces.
By this time most people have reached the street. The crow and peacock made no sound, quietly waiting for the outcome.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling dashed toward Ba Fenghan's left and right.
Qu Ao's body suddenly shook violently again, the color of blood receded from his face.
Like a ripple of the wave, the spectators gasped in surprise. Now everybody knew that Qu Ao has lost, but nobody knew which part of his body was wounded.
But the answer came instantly, because fresh blood started to seep out of Qu Ao's left flank.
Qu Ao did not seal his acupoint to stop the bleeding. After casting a glance toward his three disciples and his men, whose faces have become deathly grey, he looked up to heaven and sighed. "Young and strong rising hero, Ol' Qu admires you very much. Now I will immediately return to Tiele, for the rest of my life I will not set foot on Central Plains anymore.”
This oath was tantamount to announce publicly that he personally withdrew from all the dispute in the Central Plains.
It was a genius maneuver that came out of Qu Ao's superior experience. This way, those who had deep hatred toward Tiele people like Fu Qian and the others would also be hindered by Jianghu rules; they must not openly pursue and attack them.
Finished speaking, Qu Ao leaped onto his horse, and leading his men, they were gone like a whirlwind.
Ba Fenghan, three men, were about to leave when from among the spectators, someone let out a long laugh and said, "How could Ba Xiong avoid problem by walking away from it like this without the slightest bit of explanation?”