Book 25 Chapter 6 - Trying One's Luck
Seeing Kou Zhong, Cui Jixiu immediately knew that the situation has turned bad for him; thinking that he should strike first and gain the upper hand, he shouted, "Brothers, charge!" while at the same time waving his hand to release the fireworks, which exploded in the night sky, creating a burst of flower of light.
And thus, with this sentence the imminent fierce battle was in full swing.
The two sides facing each other shouted in unison; like a powerful current rolling over the earth, the battle was raging under cover of the thick smoke and the blazing flames. Battle cries shook the heaven. The situation was desperate.
Kou Zhong's target was Cui Jixiu. If he could capture this man alive, he would be able to gather most valuable intelligence concerning Lin Shihong. He and Xu Ziling had speculated that Lin Shihong might be Yin Gui Pai man; perhaps he could find the answer from Cui Jixiu.
Who could have thought that Cui Jixiu was incomparably cunning? He ordered the martial art masters around him to go all-out in dealing with Kou Zhong, but he himself withdrew backward to evade.
When fast as lightning Kou Zhong swept forward, more than a dozen of the strongest martial art masters of the enemy's side intercepted him head-on. The first two had a very fast shenfa; the one on the left was using long spear, creating more than a dozen fantastical streaks of spear shadow, stabbing and slashing, full and mighty, toward Kou Zhong's face. The other man was using a saber, swiftly hacking down, creating a screaming saber wind, cutting diagonally down on the side of Kou Zhong's neck. Not only his power was deep, his saber technique was vicious.
At the same moment, from the enemy's ships mooring on the shore came another shaking-the-heaven shout. Just by listening to the sound of the shouts, evidently Cui Jixiu's side still had a bunch of reinforcement troops lying in ambush. Seeing the rocket flare they immediately charged into the village.
Ouyang Qian's side was not weak either. Several hundred Li Liao warriors lying in ambush also appeared one after another from the other side of the village to join the fierce battle.
Drawing the Moon in the Well from his back, with thick and cold murderous aura bursting out of him, Kou Zhong seemed to be dodging the spear with ease. 'Dang!' he blocked the enemy's saber. Spinning his body around, he flashed through between the two men with only a hairsbreadth of clearance, and then pulling his body up, he happened to see Cui Jixiu, who, under the protection of more than twenty of his men - was trying to get away from the battle. Surprisingly though, he did not retreat toward the coast.
The enemies intercepting Kou Zhong was shocked at first, but then they were overjoyed at the turn of events.
Shocked, because Kou Zhong's shenfa was exquisite beyond compare, unexpectedly it was so fast that in that instant they were unable to fathom; he was dodging so swiftly that he put them in the position where they had the power, but no way of unleashing it. Overjoyed, because Kou Zhong pulled back about a zhang away, which made him the easiest and most clear-cut target, and that when they stumbled down, they might still be alive.
Immediately sabers and spears were raised; everybody was storing up their momentum to wait.
The contradiction in Kou Zhong's heart was aggravating. When he pulled out, he still had power remaining. With his ability to take a breath rapidly to change direction, he was sure that he could overtake the slipping away Cui Jixiu. Yet if he did that, he would let these dozen or so most overbearing of the enemy's martial art masters to deal with Ouyang Qian's Li Liao warriors. If that happened, perhaps he could capture Cui Jixiu, but perhaps Ouyang Qian would lose this battle.
It was certainly a case of the fish and the bear's paw, you can't have both at the same time [idiom from Mencius].
Kou Zhong thundered while making his decision; he tossed aside the temptation to stop Cui Jixiu.
One of the enemies facing him shook out his hand to release more than a dozen iron slingshot pellets, using the 'flower rain filling the sky' technique to sprinkle the pellets on him; an extremely insidious trick.
Naturally Kou Zhong was not worried at all. Exchanging the true qi within his body, he simply moved half a zhang across; not only to evade the secret projectiles, but also to make a somersault, his long saber chopped down on the head of one of the enemies blocking him.
That man was outstanding as well. Although the attack happened so suddenly, in critical time he did not panic; he bent his waist backward, while raising the pair of hatchets in his left and right hands upwards to block. It was also a ferocious, exceptionally bold and powerful move.
Kou Zhong roared in laughter. Releasing his spiraling energy, he let out two saber strikes in succession; with all his strength he heavily hacked down the opposite party's left and right big hatchets.
In all his life, the man had never experienced the unique taste of spiraling energy. Not only the palm of his hands split, his meridians surged, he spurted blood on the spot, splashing blood everywhere until the sky spins, the earth goes round, and he dropped on hit butts on the ground.
These two saber strikes immediately awed the other enemies that the originally rainbow-like momentum immediately went away like scattered clouds disappearing smoke.
When he landed on the ground, Kou Zhoung shouted, "Cui Jixiu is running away! You guys are his scapegoat!"
This shout was imbued with his power; it spread widely all over the battlefield.
The more than a dozen enemy's martial art masters besieging Kou Zhong looked at each other with doubt on their faces; the attacking power immediately ceased.
Seeing he had no time to lose, the Moon in the Well fantastically created a streak of saber light covering one of the enemies, while he shouted, "Whoever can block my, 'Shao Shuai' Kou Zhong's three saber strikes, I, Kou Zhong, will let him live."
Suddenly hearing the name 'Kou Zhong', none of the enemies did not have his countenance changed.
Worse yet, the enemy who blocked Kou Zhong's first blade had his guts turned cold, he felt that under the saber qi his entire body was falling into an icehouse; his skin tingling, it felt as if it was about to split open, and it was difficult for him to keep his eyes open. The worst thing was that he could not either advance or retreat, and had nowhere to dodge, no way out, except to brandish his sword to block.
The overbearing-beyond-human-comprehension saber qi penetrated his sword and burst into his body. This man, along with his sword, was hacked down by Kou Zhong and was thrown to the side. Unexpectedly, while still alive, he was jolted that his seven apertures spurted blood, his breathing ceased and he met a violent death.
Because of their atrocity, which made one's hair stand up in anger, Kou Zhong did not have the slightest regret; on the contrary, murderous intent filled his breast, his saber light was transformed into long rainbow, rolling over the enemies. At this time, due to Kou Zhong's psychological tactics, the battlefield has become a one-sided situation.
When the Cui Army saw that Cui Jixiu was gone without any shadow, any trace, as well as heard Kou Zhong's name, they were scared out of their wits; nobody had the heart to zealously continue fighting, they all scattered in all directions to save their own little life.
It was after killing two more enemies that Kou Zhong found that his torrential momentum has scattered the enemies that not a single one remained. Inwardly he thought 'what a close call!' because if these dozen or so men cooperated with one heart, if they disregarded life and death and joined hands to stake their lives against him, even if he managed to score a victory, perhaps he would have to pay such a heavy price.
Sweeping his gaze around, he saw that the situation has fallen under the Li Liao beauty, Ouyang Qian's control. His heart moved, he soared away and flew in the direction where Cui Jixiu was slipping away.
After changing his disguise from Yue Shan to the scar-faced hero, Xu Ziling followed far behind the 'Mad Scholar of Henan' Zheng Shiru, who was walking slowly along the main street of the south market, where there was no distinction between night and day.
Although the number of pedestrians on the street was a far cry from the Mid-Autumn Festival night, it was still quite crowded. Probably most of these people were coming from elsewhere to enjoy the festivities, and still have not fully expressed themselves.
Thereupon Xu Ziling had another plot brewing in his heart.
As long as he knew to whom Zheng Shiru was going to report, if he treaded carefully and continued following him, perhaps even before the third watch of the night, he would be able to find the 'Heavenly Lord' Xi Ying, so then he would not have to fall into the inferior situation where there were multitude of enemies, few friends [idiom from Mencius]. If fighting one on one and he still could not subdue Xi Ying, then he would only have himself to blame for his low skill, sluggish fortune. Otherwise, forget about running into Wanwan or perhaps those whatever elder-level martial art masters, with just an additional Bian Bufu, he would be forced to bag his food before finish eating.
Other skills he did not dare to boast, but hiding and following trails, tracking in secret and ways to follow and peek, he had quite a confidence.
At least toward a martial master of head of a school caliber like An Long, his technique was still effective.
Thinking to this point, even his steps were becoming light and quick. Ahead of him, Zheng Shiru suddenly disappeared. Xu Ziling quickly sped up his steps. 'San Hua Lou' [see previous chapter], three characters impressively appeared on the horizontal plaque above the rectangular gate. Looking inside the gate, he saw brilliant lantern lights hidden behind flowers and trees, and Zheng Shiru was politely greeted by the big man at the reception, and then he disappeared into the sumptuous hall, which tastefully chosen façade enhanced the exquisiteness of the stone steps leading up into the hall.
Immediately he recalled Zheng Shiru mentioning this most famous pleasure quarters in Chengdu, which, according to him, was equally famous with the Shi Lin Yuan [lit. scholar/warrior forest park] of Chang'An.
All the robust looking men at the gate were looking at him up and down, making him feel even more uncomfortable.
San Hua Lou was obviously a thriving and prosperous business. Gorgeous carriages came one after another, forcing Xu Ziling to get out of the way, while inwardly he was groaning incessantly.
Every time they visited a pleasure house, they never had anything good coming out of it, while bad things more and more emerged. Even bigger problem was that even if he followed inside, Zheng Shiru could not possibly say that he was his friend. Even if he somehow managed to get in, he would not be so lucky as to have a room adjacent to Zheng Shiru's. However, to give up halfway like this, his heart was unwilling. Since he did not have anywhere better to go, why not try his luck in this pleasure house?
Thinking about Kou Zhong, he fiercely gnashed his teeth and stepped toward the gate.
One of the big men guarding the door stretched out his arm to block, but his manner was still polite and courteous; he asked, "May I ask if Daye have a reservation?"
Stunned, Xu Ziling replied, "I can't come in without a reservation?"
Another big man apologetically said, "Daye, please forgive us; the days before and after the holiday are when we have the highest number of honored guests. For the past few days all the rooms here have been fully booked. Sir may try the Zui Xiang Wo [lit. intoxicated-by-the-fragrant nest] on the street west of here. Their ladies are quite good."
Xu Ziling was greatly embarrassed, thinking that his luck in the pleasure house this time was even worse than the last time; he could not even get through the door.