After everybody was seated once again, Wang Bo suddenly burst into laughter and spoke to Li Shimin, "Didn't your esteemed subordinate Yuchi Renxiong [my dear friend] want to play with Laofu a moment or two? Why not take this opportunity to let Laofu experience his skill?"
Suddenly the hall grew quiet.
Nobody expected that Wang Bo would take the initiative to issue a challenge; apparently he was extremely offended by Yuchi Jingde's 'disrespect' earlier.
Before Li Shimin could respond, Yuchi Jingde, sitting on one of the side tables stood up suddenly, cupped his fist and said, "I hope Wanggong will be generous in giving pointers to junior [here the word is houxue, junior scholar]!"
Finished speaking, he strode toward the spacious floor in front of the main banquet tables; his appearance was very bold and powerful.
Everybody felt deep veneration toward his boldness; they knew Wang Bo's resounding reputation, which even surpassed Li Mi, Du Fuwei, and the likes. The 'Ding Shi Whip' in his hand was praised as the number one whip under the heavens. Merely the fact that Yuchi Jingde was not afraid of the opponent, his guts was no ordinary.
Wang Bo smiled; he calmly left his seat and walked over to where Yuchi Jingde was standing, and spoke in delight, "Today is Xiong's happy day, so our competition this time is just to liven things up, we'll stop upon contact. Yuchi Renxiong, what do you think?"
He spoke those words leisurely, which brought out his air as an expert and increased his exalted status even more.
Yuchi Jingde saluted and said, "Qianbei, please be lenient."
His response was even more appropriate. Everybody knew that it was merely words of politeness, and not really fear of being injured by the opponent. But it could bring a great deal of pressure to Wang Bo, because it was tantamount to say that if you win, that should be expected, but if you lose, your reputation would be swept to the floor.
Kou Zhong paid special attention to Li Shimin's expression. Noticing that Li Shimin remained calm, without the slightest bit of nervousness, he could not help shivering inwardly.
Yuchi Jingde had the audacity to incite the battle first, naturally he must have received Li Shimin's nod; as for the reason he targeted Wang Bo, there must be a profound meaning behind it.
Yuchi Jingde's tiger-eyes were blazing like a torch as he fixed his gaze on Wang Bo, who was standing approximately ten paces way. "Forgive my offense!" he shouted.
Groping to his left waist, the whip suddenly appeared in his hand.
Wang Bo's eyes fell on his whip; he spoke indifferently, "Does this whip have a name?"
Yuchi Jingde raised the coiled whip in his right hand up in the air, like magic the whip suddenly turned straight as a ramrod, hovering at an angle above Wang Bo's head. He spoke in a loud and clear voice, "This whip is called 'Gui Zang' [return to its storehouse (fig. Buddhist or Taoist scripture)], two zhang and three chi long. Qianbei please be generous in bestowing instruction."
He did not shake back the whip at all; it was being loosely held just like he was holding a more than two zhang long dark-colored iron stick. It was just hard to believe that that was a long whip. Merely this internal strength, capable of holding the whip in such a way, was enough to make the spectators, where there was no lack of grandmaster-level martial art experts, have a whole new level of respect for him.
Under the illumination of the lanterns, the body of the whip appeared to be full of tiny suction pads, which reflected the light as tiny dots; it was weird beyond words.
Wang Bo laughed aloud, "Good whip!" he said.
Then suddenly he made a swift move, like a flowing water or floating cloud, toward the opponent. Flicking his right-hand middle finger, he attacked the center of Yuchi Jingde's face. Surprisingly he did not draw the Ding Shi Whip, the weapon with which he made his name.
Sudden change occurred.
The originally-slanting-midair Gui Zang Whip suddenly coiled above Yuchi Jingde's head. It made a few circles, and then moved in front of his chest; circle by circle it met Wang Bo's middle finger attack. It was brilliant to the extreme point.
Everybody had already guessed that his whip skill must be superior, otherwise he would not have dared to challenge Wang Bo; but still, no one expected that his whip technique has reached perfection. Practically it was already at the expert level where the whip could move as his heart desired.
Kou Zhong could not help exchange glances with Xu Ziling, who, at this moment, was also looking at him. They both were able to tell the amazement in each other's heart. No wonder Li Jing advised them to leave.
Wang Bo's expression looked grave. What happened was that when the wind generated by his finger attack met the first circle of Yuchi Jingde's whip, unexpectedly the qi power generated by the whip coil was able to cut it down nearly half; by the time the fourth circle arrived, the finger wind already disappeared without any trace. Even with his deep experience, he could not help being terribly surprised, because he discovered that the opponent's foundation was extremely deep; it has already reached the level where it was able to contend against his own power. Although it still could not match his, but the difference was not too far.
It was entirely outside his expectation.
Wang Bo let out a loud shout. With a strange footwork, he suddenly flashed to the opponent's right side. His right hand pulled back, at the same time a piece of white shadow flew out of his sleeve. With strange wave-like trajectory it stabbed the right side of Yuchi Jingde's neck; fast like a serpent, and looked like it could change direction at any time, full of sly, ruthless fantastical none-can-resist, overbearing prowess.
Momentarily qi power was pressing in, creating a nip in the air.
This Whip King, who has been famous for decades, finally revealed the Ding Shi Whip, the weapon with which he made his name.
The hall exploded with thunderous applause.
This move certainly came as a surprise; even with Yuchi Jingde's capability, because of this senior martial art master's footwork, technique and astonishing innate qi power, combined together into a swift and severe counterattack, he was momentarily unable to find a good way of blocking this attack. Promptly he flashed sideways, the tip of Gui Zang Whip, as if it had eyes, dove down first, and then as soon as it touched the ground, it lashed at angle upward, aiming at Wang Bo's lower abdomen. Indeed it was a fierce, ruthless attack to counter another attack.
The two combatants have only been exchanging two moved, but everybody already watched with bated breath.
Wang Bo let out a cold laugh. Like a serpent the Ding Shi Whip returned to his sleeve, while his left hand, with fingers held together like a blade, fiercely and accurately, fast beyond comprehension, chopped down on the tip of the opponent's whip coming toward him.
The explosion of the qi power collided sounded like a muffled thunder.
Yuchi Jingde's entire body shook; he was forced to take half a step back, his eyes shone with power, his long whip turned into millions whip shadows, like a rainstorm shrouding Wang Bo. It appeared that he wanted to launch offensive at all cost, bold and powerful without equal; even though his strength was slightly affected, it did not dampened his attack.
Kou Zhong and the others had to nod their approval. Only this kind of offensive would be able to restrain Wang Bo's appear-and-disappear-unpredictably [orig. gods disappear and devils vanish], impossible-to-defend-effectively whip technique.
Wang Bo laughed aloud. Like beads of pearl on a jade tray, using moving-clouds-and-flowing-water shenfa, he moved amidst the opponent's crisscrossing, fluttering whip momentum; with an exquisite, profound-mystery finger move, his right hand middle finger continuously jabbing six, seven times, each jab accurately, without missing a bit, hit the opponent's whip, each finger jab was stronger than the previous one. Indeed he was a warrior who lived up to his name, not a nobody with undeserved reputation.
But Yuchi Jingde was able to force Wang Bo to go all out, this would be enough for his name to shake the world.
Yuchi Jingde roared again, his whip momentum also changed again. His right hand simultaneously held the whip handle and the whip tip tightly, while his inner power pierced through the whip body. On top of that, controlled by his left hand, the whip looked like dancing flexible iron stick of about one zhang long, attacking the opponent using a set of fantastic stick technique, which could be either stiff or flexible.
Inwardly Wang Bo was astonished and baffled.
He was an expert in whip technique; no matter how cunning or changing unfathomably the opponent's whip moves were, almost instantly he would be able to see through the changes in the opponent's follow up move.
After fighting to this point, he already knew his chance of victory; who would have thought that the opponent suddenly moved the whip as if it was a stick? This change was not common in whip technique, so that he had to grope about once more, and his dream of easy victory was dashed.
This moment he gained even clearer understanding that his young opponent's wisdom and understanding were out of the ordinary; he was absolutely not an easy prey.
Wang Bo was also forced to adapt himself to these changes. Both his hands moved out, alternating between chopping and palm strike, the strong wind that ensued was ear splitting. Using a powerful and unique palm technique, for the time being he was able to deal with the opponent's toppling-the-mountains-and-overturning-the-seas offensive.
In the meantime, Rong Fengxian has returned to the inner hall; he stood at the entrance with his hands behind his back, watching the battle; he did not look the slightest bit surprised, on the contrary, he seemed to have anticipated this battle to happen.
Wang Bo's palm hacked down on the whip stick, his true power passed through the stick and entered in, shockingly the entire whip stick bent, and Yuchi Jingde tumbled backward.
While everybody was worried about him, Wang Bo's Ding Shi Whip unexpectedly flew out of his left sleeve, aiming toward the opponent's throat. A single dot flashed, cry of alarm rose up.
The tip of Yuchi Jingde's whip shot out of his right hand. A dot pierced the incoming tip of the opponent's whip.
Ever since the battle started, this was the first time the two whips collided with each other.
END OF BOOK 17