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Xiaohu, Anurman, thanks for providing the free entertainment. Lance, thanks for the info (you must be typing on the train again … I had to take a guess of what you are trying to say ). I always thought that it was similar to 'revealing the fox's tail' or something like that, you know, the animal spirit/demon that after so many centuries of meditation could appear as humans (I got this knowledge mostly from Journey to the West … ). Ysabel, HPC, Jaya, you are welcome. DongBin, Sky, welcome back! No wonder this thread was kind of quiet … Akolaw, that's just my point. You can rank the characters until your mouth foaming, but whatever Huang Yi decided, goes … Unlike you, I have not read the book. But let's look at Kou Zhong for a moment. He is on his way to see Song Que. The difference between them (according to your ranking system) is simply too far. Remember that so far in the story, many people advised him against seeing Song Que; however, I am 100% confident that he won't die. My point: it does not matter if Kou Zhong is ranked at 13m, and Song Que is 4d, the author has the final say. But then again, perhaps because I am not a big fan like you that I don't even bother with trying to rank the (fictional) characters

Book 25 Chapter 9 - Heavenly Lord Xi Ying

As these three clumps of Lotus power was released in succession, the strangest thing was that the first to be released was slow, but the subsequent was fast. By the time the attack reached Xu Ziling's three vital acupoints, there was no distinction between earlier or later, they all stamped his body at the exact same time.

Such a successive qi-inducing power also quickly flowed from the heart; indeed it has reached perfection, fully worthy of others' admiration.

The moment just before the Lotus power reached Xu Ziling's body, the scalding hot, ruthless and fierce, condensed and refined - true qi already attacked, like an inescapable net enveloping Xu Ziling inside it; swift and severe, far exceeded Xu Ziling's estimation.

If this kind of scorching and fully devastating qi power invaded his body, the damage could be easily inferred. Regret at this moment was already too late.

In this juncture between life and death, the Great Method of Changing the Sun from the scroll Yue Shan left behind, the Nine-Character Incantation Hand Image from Reverend Zhen Yan, along with the Death Hidden Within Life, Life Contained Within Death from Immortal Image Method that Hou Xibai told him, these three different kinds, plus the Buddhist School's No-Upper xinfa pertaining to the carved image, combined with the five hundred Luohan images from the previous generation's holy monk Kumarajiva, flashed through Xu Ziling's mind at the speed of lighting or sparks from the flint, and were fused together into one.

In between the breathing, Xu Ziling's two hands produced as series of poses, beginning with the fundamental motionless pose, to the Great Vajra Chakra pose, inside and outside Leo pose, outer bound and inner bound pose, wisdom first, Sun Chakra, and Aquarius [lit. precious/treasured vase/bottle, see Chapter 4].

While performing the pose, inwardly he recited the incantation [true statement], the mind completely focused on it, the heart and the breathing independent of each other, the intent and the spirit in balance, the innate true qi in his body originating from the 'Secret to Long Life' and Jade Annulus of He Clan followed the pose and flowed along the Eight Extraordinary Channels and concentrated in different styles according to the Three Meridians, Seven Chakras, forming clump after clump of true qi like blooming fresh flowers.

The last one was Motionless Vajra pose, which was also the shedding-one's-mortal-body-and-exchange-one's-bones general pose, which was the convergence of the shifting-the-sun-exchanging-the-moon of the Huan Ri Da Fa.

Ten thousand thoughts became empty.

Inside the no-man-no-self spirited emptiness, Xu Ziling felt like he was a mere spectator in the unbounded land that extended to infinity. This moment the three clumps of Lotus power simultaneously stamped his left and right jianjing [shoulder well] and meijianlun [ajna, the third eye chakra].

An Long and You Niaojuan went pale in shock; how could there be anybody who was stupid enough to receive Lotus power without blocking, without parrying?

Xu Ziling threw his head back; his left and right shoulders rapidly shook.

First, a scorching heat assaulted his face, which prompted him to throw his head backward; and then the Lotus power strike on his meijianlun changed from three-dimensional to planar, which slipped like a wave along the qi covering his face before dissipating away.

'Bang! Bang!'

After most of the other two clumps of Lotus power were neutralized, the remaining scorching hot qi power was still invading his acupoints and entering his meridians. This kind of unbearably burning pain nearly made Xu Ziling screamed. However, naturally he could not act this stupid and cowardly. Without any better option, his mouth spat out incantation, word-by-word he quickly shouted, "Huan Ri Da Fa!"

The Motionless Vajra Image suddenly turned into Inner Bound, Outer Bound, two poses.

The true qi was waging war in the meridian channels inside his body, the previously already-waiting-in-tight-disposition true qi met the invading Lotus power in a frontal assault, and neutralized it completely right before the Lotus power invaded his internal organs. But the jianjing positions on both sides were already burning and grew numb.

Watching this, both An Long and You Niaojuan were dumbfounded.

To neutralize the Lotus power, You Niaojuan thought that he would be able to do; but he had to rely on some kind of palm, or fist, or other type of power method [gongfa], which had to be put into practice before the Lotus power reached his body. Meeting the attack head-on by just using his face was indeed inconceivable.

And the ability to meet the Lotus power head-on was an even more universally shocking cultivation.

Because they did not know that Xu Ziling's real face was hidden behind a fake one, they saw how his 'face did not change its appearance' while receiving these three clumps of Lotus power, inwardly they were shocked, and were even more dumbstruck.

Actually, Xu Ziling was in so much pain that his face turned green and his lips white. If An Long were to send another clump of Lotus power, it was almost certain that he would die on the spot.

After An Long and You Niaojuan looked at each other for a moment, the former dejectedly retreated and sat down, back into his chair. Heaving a deep sigh, he said, "Huan Ri Da Fa is indeed not a common chord [idiom: outstanding]. In the past, when Yue Xiong and I were discussing the difficulties in training the Da Fa, you mentioned that you were unable to understand the real purpose of the Tianzhu hand gestures, but now evidently you have obtained their true essence. Please accept Xiaodi's heartfelt admiration."

You Niaojuan's eyes flickered with admiration and jealousy as well; he sighed and interjected, "Yue Ba discards the saber, but your power now triumphs over your power in the past; no wonder even I had to suffer big loss. An Long, this time you have nothing to say, right?"

Smiling wryly, An Long said, "What more can I say?" His voice was brimming with bitterness.

It was only this moment that Xu Ziling was able to speak. Without having to pretend, his voice was already hoarse and unpleasant to hear. Taking a deep breath, he struggled hard to gradually recover from the excruciating pain coming from the jianjing acupoints on both sides of his shoulders. "Where is Xi Ying?" he spoke slowly.

The first watch of the night [7-9 pm].

An Long lifted up the curtain of the carriage, and pointed to the San Hua Lou, resplendent in bright lanterns. He said to Xu Ziling and You Niaojuan, "This is Chengdu's San Hua Lou; before tonight, that fellow Bian Bufu has come here twice, both times asking for the lady of the Hua family by name. Tonight he reserves a wing; what do you say we drop in to say hello to him?"

Frowning, You Niaojuan said, "Is Xi Ying with him?"

An Long replied, "Both times the previous nights Bian Bufu came alone; he even stayed the night until daybreak. Although in the past Xi Ying loved to hang out with that thief Bian Bufu with all the majesty of an emperor, but this time, when Song Que might arrive in Bashu any moment, how could Xi Ying dare to be reckless?"

Shaking his head, You Niaojuan said, "An Pangzi, you only know one but don't know two; Ziqi Tian Luo [purple cloud heavenly mesh] is overbearing to the extreme point. One thing went wrong, the dog might come back to devour its master. The higher the gongfa, the greater its need to be reconciled. Just like after killing people, I have to go to casino to wind down. If you don't believe me, ask Old Yue; who knew the 'Heavenly Lord' Xi Ying better than he did?"

Laughing evilly, An Long said, "You mean looking for a little young gentleman [i.e. male prostitute] to play with?"

Hearing that, You Niaojuan only laughed lewdly, but did not say anything.

Hearing that, all the hair on Xu Ziling's body stood on its end, while also realized that he had no choice but to act better, and naturally he was even more afraid to say the wrong thing and thus revealing the cloven foot. "If we go in, won't everything be clear?" he spoke heavily.

Remaining tranquil and calm, An Long said, "If there is only Bian Bufu, one person, Old Yue, what are you going to do?"

Xu Ziling cursed him inwardly. An Long's move was extremely sinister. If he were the real Yue Shan, and he openly helped An Long dealing with Bian Bufu, it would be tantamount as formally declaring war against Yin Gui Pai.

While whether he could get rid of Xi Ying was still unknown, toward the real Yue Shan it would only be harmful without any benefit, and would only sink his feet deeper into the mire, and later on he had no choice but to stand on An Long's side.

However, to the fake Yue Shan Xu Ziling, this matter would only bring benefit without any harm. Naturally he must not respond in a frank and straightforward manner, because it was absolutely not the subtle and reserved style of the real Yue Shan. Thereupon he let out a cold snort and said, "At that time, we will change according to the situation. Under your, An Pangzi's Tianxin Lian Huan, his Moxin Lianhuan [demonic heart chain] is only a joke. Me and You Niao'er [birdy You] will make sure that no one else will interfere."

Displeased, You Niaojuan said, "I hate it the most when people are calling me You Niao'er; only Zhu Yaofu calls me that."

How would Xu Ziling know that when Yue Shan wrote about You Niao'er in his scroll, it was actually started by Zhu Yuyan? He had no choice but to shut his mouth.

An Long's eyes were flashing with cruel, vicious, and malicious evil light; sticking out his tongue to lick his lip, he acted as if he was enjoying the taste of Bian Bufu's blood, as he slowly said, "All right! Two LaoGe watch out for Xiaodi; more than twenty years' worth of debt will be settled in full tonight." And then he shouted at the old servant driving the carriage, "Go to San Hua Lou!"

An Long was the first to step down from the carriage. Wen Gu personally led two maids to welcome him, and fawned on him in every possible way, calling him An Laoban [boss An] this and An Laoban that.

After casually introducing his two companions, An Long pulled Wen Gu to the side and whispered in her ear for a while. Wen Gu led the way. An Long fell back to the two men's side and said with a bitter laugh, "Xi Ying is really here!"

Immediately You Niaojuan's countenance changed.

His belly was full of evil tricks; especially concerning An Long. He just wanted to drag Yue Shan down to deal with Yin Gui Pai, he had never thought that he would be in a head-on conflict against Xi Ying for real.

Within the Eight Major Martial Art Masters of Demonic Way, the ones regarded as the foremost were, quite naturally, Zhu Yuyan and Shi Zhixuan. Next in rank were 'Mo Shi' [demonic master/teacher] Zhao Deyan and 'Tian Jun' [heavenly lord] Xi Ying. All these demonic people were utterly vicious, extremely evil, and definitely not to be trifled with. And now, although You Niaojuan pointed out the possibility of Xi Ying might show himself here, it was purely to mislead Xu Ziling, the fake Yue Shan, to fall into the trap.

Who would have thought that he made an error in judgment and had to run into Xi Ying for real? This moment he could not withdraw midway, and could only sigh inwardly for his bad luck.

Xu Ziling also did not know whether he ought to be excited or afraid; however, looking at An Long's smiling expression and You Niaojuan's cowardly appearance, he could tell the 'Heavenly Lord' Xi Ying's prowess.

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