Chapter 9 - Difficult-to-fill Hatred
[Translator's note: my note on 'Wanwan' (see previous chapter) applies here as well.]
In that instant Kou Zhong elevated his essence, qi and spirit to their peak condition. In this critical moment of life and death, he wanted to discharge all worries concerning Xu Ziling entirely out of his mind, to deal with the calamity before his eyes first with undivided will. Otherwise he would be, just like Song Que said, practically unfit to use the saber.
In this kind of moment, if he was still distracted by thinking about other things, not only it would not help him, he would be courting disaster even more.
Although he has fought hand to hand with her many times, he had never really learnt her true depth. His only advantage right now is that she did not know about the breakthrough and the degree of progress he has had these past few days.
If he could exploit this point well, perhaps he would be able to break the siege and escape, to rush back and rendezvous with Xu Ziling.
Even if they die, they would die together.
It was time to attack.
The beauty's jet-black hair fluttered upwards, alive like countless vipers. It was the first time that he witnessed this kind of exciting-the-hair skill, which has reached the universally-shocking level. All four sides and eight directions were full of the dancing-violently shadows of her sleeves, like a net without a single side uncovered, coming in to envelop him.
Kou Zhong shouted coldly. Blurting out an apology, he put his strength onto his legs, and the roof tiles under his feet immediately shattered into cun-size pieces. It was as if Kou Zhong was falling into a deep cave.
Following the shattered tiles and wooden beam, he fell into someone's house below, while at the same time his saber stabbed upwards to meet the finger energy attacking down, hidden inside the Tian Mo Xiu [demonic sleeves].
The blade met the finger energy head on. A burst of yin, cold qi, which felt like it could go on forever, penetrated the saber and went straight into his body. By the time his feet were finally going to touch the ground, Kou Zhong felt his meridians were about to split.
The tip of his toes had just touched the ground, Kou Zhong already had his true qi circulated one full cycle, neutralizing the opponent's able-to-tear-the-heart-and-split-the-lungs terrifying qi energy, while at the same time creating a crashing noise as he broke through the main door, and running toward the open space area in front of the main hall of this house. And then he flew at an angle up toward the outer wall.
These several changes occurred within several breaths. Kou Zhong has broken away from critical circumstances, gotten away from the acute point of the opponent's weapon.
Soaring high to pursue, the Tian Mo Dai [demonic ribbon] slipped out from inside the gauzed sleeves like vipers, swiftly targeting the back of Kou Zhong's neck. It arrived the exact moment Kou Zhong gained firm footing on top of the wall.
The timing was so perfect. Even though the opponent was an enemy who wanted to take his life, Kou Zhong still had to prostrate himself in admiration. This was her real skill. In the past, for various reasons, she had never fought with all her strength. But this moment she intended to kill him, hence the momentum differed greatly.
It felt like the entire space was caving in. He was unable to exert his strength, and even if he tried, the force was not as strong as he wished. It was such an extremely uncomfortable feeling, enough to make him upset; it was a feeling of defeat without a fight.
But Kou Zhong had his way of coping with this problem. Immediately he excited the qi within his entire body to flow in a forward and reversed way, like a self-contained, self-sufficient castle, although surrounded by the enemy's formidable troops, it was still able to move unobstructed.
The instant his feet touched the top of the wall, he abruptly took a mouthful of true qi, and swiftly moved half a zhang sideways; the Moon in the Well swept backhandedly, it squarely hit the Tian Mo Piaodai [demonic streamer]. The eyesight, craftiness and ingenuity he was using caught her off guard, since she never expected Kou Zhong to have the ability to adapt to changes, not to this extent anyway. The instant the end of the ribbon was swept by Kou Zhong's saber, not only she did not feel the slightest impact of the opponent's reaction force, the streamer was unexpectedly pushed forward, and her true qi was deflected and washed away.
Such a fantastic, strange power, this was the first time that she encountered it from Kou Zhong. She herself was an expert in absorbing other people's true qi. The emphasis of Tian Mo Qi was in using formless power to steal the opponent's real, tangible qi. The fiercer the enemy's power was, the more desirable it would be; hence the way it was used was magical.
Therefore, as this moment she saw the opponent was using similar but different method from hers, instead of startled, she was delighted. Following her heart's desire, her qi revolved around, she added another stream of true qi, while simultaneously she soared high into the sky like a demon, so that Kou Zhong's offensive hit the empty space.
The Tian Mo Piaodai turned into more than a dozen clumps of circles, coming down to cover Kou Zhong's head. The change in her moves was very fast, so that it was difficult to predict.
Kou Zhong was just feeling happy that his tactics seemed to be working; he was about seize this opportunity to brandish his saber to counterattack. Who would have thought that suddenly he was unable to transmit his qi because a yin, cold pain shot through his entire arm, so that his treasured saber nearly fell off his hand, while like a hanging boots ghost, she floated closely. The dejected, defeated feeling in his heart was like from high in the clouds he fell rapidly into the mud; he did not even have time to sigh over his own uselessness.
Fortunately, while facing death, he did not panic. Making a somersault, he turned over and as he left the wall, his right foot pushed backward, on a point that was not visible to her, slightly below the top of the wall.
As expected, she pursued over like a shadow attached to a shadow. As if she was performing magic tricks, one Tian Mo Piaodai turned into two, floating in two streams of arched trajectory, curving out to left and right and brushing back into the middle. If Kou Zhong's original style did not change, before he crossed over the narrow alley, both his left and right eardrums would be hit at the same time, and then, even if Kou Zhong were the Da Luo Jin Xian, he would have to return his countless souls.
Fortunately, everything has been happening according to Kou Zhong's expectation. With a push on the ground, he changed direction and soared into the air, just like a stone tossed into the distance. Although she promptly changed her move to pursue and attack, she still missed him by a hairsbreadth, and could only move one of the ribbons to brush on his left leg. Just like that, he escaped from her demonic hand by the skin of his teeth.
Neutralizing the invading Tian Mo Jing [demonic power], Kou Zhong landed on the roof ridge of another tall building. He stood with the saber across his chest, the divine light in his eyes burst forth, he stared without blinking at the Yin Gui Pai stunning beauty, who looked like a demoness descending to the world of immortals, floating over riding on the wind.
He has created all kinds of favorable situation for himself to escape the sharpest point of her several moves and powerful strikes, and now the time has come to fight back with everything he had. This moment, both in terms of confidence and will to fight, he had reached the peak. If he still failed to deal with the opponent, it is thus clear that between the two of them, there was a distance that he could not cut.
Who would have thought that as the terrifying woman was about to arrive, she suddenly slowed down, and unbelievably spun around in the air? The pair of streamers flying out of her gauzed sleeves turned into flawless spherical net of ribbons, winding tightly around her body, flying toward Kou Zhong.
Watching this, Kou Zhong's scalp went numb. He had no choice but to leap down and chopped his saber.
The 'Yin Hou' [Empress Yin] Zhu Yuyan soared into the air, with graceful posture she easily evaded all the arrows, and effortlessly landed on the other end of the roof ridge, separated from Xu Ziling by only about a zhang distance.
She spoke softly, "When the north and south separated, Jingzhou area has become the territory that the southern political powers must strive for, hence the saying 'the fate of the south is hanging on Jingzhou'. It is indeed the key to the rise and fall of the southern area. Nanyang is the northern fortress of Jingzhou; the transportation is convenient, the terrain is rugged and strong, the population is flourishing. We have already obtained Xiangyang; if we also gain Nanyang, our potential will grow horns, as the two places will be able to support each other well. You, two boys who are unable to differentiate good from bad, have the impertinence to come here and spoil our grand plan; you really have only yourselves to blame, you must not blame us for disregarding our agreement."
Naturally Zhu Yuyan could not possibly come to chat with Xu Ziling, this junior of the younger generation, because she had nothing else to do. She just wanted to give her people a chance to carryout their murderous intent toward Tian Kui disciples, while disturbing Xu Ziling's mind at the same time, with the intention of capturing Xu Ziling alive, to force him to reveal the Duke Yang Treasure's whereabouts.
Xu Ziling was bleeding inwardly, yet he simply had to turn a blind eye, to hear but not react, to the Tian Kui Pai disciples being slaughtered all around him, while praying that Tuli would be able lead Lu Zhong, Ying Yu, and the others to look for an opportunity to escape. The pain in his heart was not something that any pen and ink would be able to describe, not even one word out of ten thousand.
Blood-curdling screams and groans and grunts of pain were continuously heard from four sides, eight directions. Tian Kui dojo has suddenly become the living hell, crouching corpses were everywhere.
Taking a deep breath, Xu Ziling spoke heavily, "If Ol' Xu is lucky enough to break the siege and escape alive today, someday I will definitely pay Zhu Zongzhu's tonight's cruel method back."
"How dare you!" Zhu Yuyan replied with a cold laugh, "Are you two still as delusional as you used to be?"
Her left hand slowly stretched out from inside her sleeve, the jade finger pointed toward the young and promising opponent whose fame in Wulin rose abruptly like a shooting star.
Xu Ziling could not prevent his attention from being completely drawn toward the jade hand and small arm that extended out of the sleeve; a hard-to-describe feeling welled up in his heart.
Under the illumination of the moon and the stars, Zhu Yuyan's completely-without-any-blemish hand seemed to be shining with a touching out-of-the-world light. Both in terms of posture and movement, she seemed to be the culmination of beauty and marvelous appearance of the world, containing a certain hard-to-describe secret between the heaven and the earth. Momentarily Xu Ziling felt as if he was suddenly transported into another world, which had nothing to do with the miserable reality of massacre, which was brimming with the reek of blood - happening around him.
A thread of low humming noise emitted from Zhu Yuyan's purple-red mouth, which was hidden behind the heavy veil. As it entered Xu Ziling's eardrums, it gradually transformed into the wonderful sound of nature.
This absolute-apex martial art master with the highest prestige within the demonic schools has unleashed the Tian Mo Da Fa [demonic big method] with all her strength, attacking Xu Ziling with no-gap-not-penetrated momentum.
Kou Zhong's saber seemed to shock the streamer, but actually the blade merely scratched the most concentrated point of the ribbon shadow lightly, like a toad or a slug skidding over the water, yet it produced an explosion as the qi power was clashing against each other.
Both combatants were greatly shocked.
The most shocking thing for Kou Zhong was that the Tian Mo Piaodai, like a living spirit-snake, coiled around him tightly with the enormous Tian Mo power like thousand-catty stocks and chain, so that his breathing could not flow freely, and even though he wanted to pull his saber and retreat, he simply was not able to. The only way was to abandon his saber and flee.
In this the-soul-flies-away-and-scatters, he-possessed-exceptional-saber-skill-in-vain-since-there-is-no-favorable-position-to-use-it moment, he recalled Li Yuanji's Returning-Horse-Trailing spear technique [in Chapter 5 it was Sudden Thrust (returning horse), without the last character 'trailing'].
She was shocked because she was unable to see through the changes in his saber technique. Clearly it was a saber strike hacking straight onto her face, yet at the last moment, when the attack arrived, it was only her streamer that was scratched by his blade, so that all her formidable moves could not be carried out completely.
Fortunately, the most formidable aspect of the Tian Mo Da Fa was precisely its countless and endless changes. Immediately she unleashed the most formidable killer move of Tian Mo Ribbon, 'Xian Shou Yu Long' [delicate hands controlling the dragon]. In the past, the two great elder martial art masters of the Flying Horse Ranch's Shang Family died tragically under this kind of not-resting-until-death-arrives technique.
Just when she thought that she was lucky that her marvelous technique succeeded, the Moon in the Well suddenly produced an enormous trailing and pulling force swinging to the left.
Shocked inwardly, she shouted tenderly and produced an opposing force in the other direction to counter.
The two landed on the roof at the same time. Contrary to expectation, Kou Zhong laughed and said, "Beauty fell into the trap!"
The Moon in the Well swayed, Kou Zhong dragged the saber in the same direction of her force, all of a sudden it caught on her streamer.
With both feet firmly on the roof, she let a tender grunt and said, "I want to see what other trick you have."
The streamer disappeared into her sleeve, she spun around and threw herself into his bosom. While Kou Zhong was swiftly retreating out of shock, both of her sleeves rose up, revealing her small whiter-than-snow-and-frost arms, with both hands holding flickering short blades, swiftly moving toward his throat and lower abdomen, respectively; fierce and severe to the extreme point.
The weirdest thing was that she was touching the ground with only the big toes of her pair of bare feet; her white dress fluttered in the wind, her entire person seemed to be completely weightless. She attacked him with an incomparably graceful and outstanding lotus stance.
Every single one of her posture was too wonderful for words, yet her method was cruel, ferocious and ruthless, each move was meant to kill, a strong contrast to her appearance, confusing others' mind and eliminating their spirit.
Unable to unfold the saber's momentum, Kou Zhong struggled hard to use the saber's blade to parry her thrusting up blade, and then sweeping the hilt of the saber across, he deflected the blade threatening his lower abdomen. In both cases he barely escaped by a hairsbreadth.
Kou Zhong took another step backward, while crying inwardly, 'Not good!'
Sure enough, her hands continued moving; without leniency at all the Tian Mo Shuang Zhan [demonic double-chop (or beheading)], like swiftly flowing mercury, followed close to his body. Her attacks did not follow certain technique, each one was aimed at Kou Zhong in a spur-of-the-moment style, seeking-any-flaw, looking-for-gap, attacking Kou Zhong dangerously, forcing him into the he-could-lose-his-life-on-the-spot-any-moment crises.
From her beautiful hair to her beautiful feet, not a single one of her body parts could not be used to attack. Bizarre, fantastic changes kept appearing, so that no matter how rich Kou Zhong's imagination was, if he did not witness it with his own eyes, he would never believe such 'many postures' existed. In a few blinks of the eye, with 'Ding! Dang! Clang! Qiang!' incessant ringing noise, Kou Zhong gave everything he had to brandish the Moon in the Well to meet every single cun of the thousand blades' forces.
He also used his broad shoulders and elbows to meet her more than a dozen lines of force from her shoulder bumps and elbow strikes, the more than a dozen kicks from her feet, until finally his back was hit by her long beautiful hair that his clothes immediately shattered into small pieces, while several dozen bloody cuts, reaching up to two, three fen deep, appeared on his flesh. His entire body, like a kite with cut string, was thrown away and he rolled along the roof.
This was actually a shenfa that he had just learned that enabled him to reach such result, it enabled him to take the killer move that was originally meant to take his little life and convert it to merely flesh injury.
Suffering the hot, stinging pain, Kou Zhong landed on the street. A horse-drawn carriage happened to gallop over from the other end of the long, quiet street, while the Tian Mo Shuang Zhan were coming overhead, without giving him the slightest amount of opportunity to take a breather.
A divine light flashed inside Kou Zhong's mind, he dropped down to the ground, and then like an arrow he shot close to the ground toward the bottom of the carriage.
It looked like he was going to escape from the other side of the carriage, but he actually stuck himself to the bottom of the carriage and moved together with the carriage.
She somersaulted high in the air and landed across the street before realizing that she had fallen into the trap. Letting out a cold humph, fast as lightning she flew toward the horse-drawn carriage, which, by this time, has already galloped nearly ten zhang away.
The carriage suddenly accelerated. No matter how the driver pulled the rein and shouted at the horses to stop, the four strong horses were still running like mad, pulling the carriage along. Evidently Kou Zhong, who was hiding beneath the carriage, has been playing some tricks.
Letting out an angry shout, she unleashed her shenfa to the limit, and quickly reduced the distance with the carriage to five zhang, four zhang, three zhang … But when it looked like she was about to catch up, suddenly the horse at the very front separated from the carriage. Four hooves galloped freely ahead, before turning into a side street.
Like a shadow attached to a shadow, she abandoned the carriage to chase after the runaway horse. Like a streak of lightning the Tian Mo Piaodai shot out to roll around the horse's hind legs.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud. From the horse's belly he flipped over to the horseback, his saber struck backhandedly, it swept across under the horse's thigh, and hit the Tian Mo Piaodai.
The qi power collided, her tender body shook, immediately her speed was reduced.
After fighting with all her might, and then exerting her strength on the chase, the wear and tear to her true power was substantial. Even with her refined and pure demonic power, it was simply too much. Moreover, she knew that by relying on the power of the horse's legs, Kou Zhong would be able to wait at his ease for the exhausted enemy, while she could only rely on her footwork to hurriedly run after him to pursue and attack, it would be difficult to unleash the Tian Mo Da Fa's unpredictable formidable power.
Powerless, she had no choice but to give up. Standing in the middle of the long street, she could only stare helplessly at Kou Zhong disappearing behind a corner.
Facing Zhu Yuyan's combination of demonic sound, demonic appearance, and demonic power's fierce and severe attack, Xu Ziling secretly performed the Motionless Fundamental Image. Immediately the vision and hearing illusion vanished, his will became as strong and solid as a boulder, not the least bit swayed by the opponent.
All around him the Tian Kui Pai disciples were being slaughtered, but the screams before their death could not affect his clear-as-still-water mind either.
He who was born will inevitably die.
To him, right then, right there, the whole world of humanity was only a fleeting illusion. There was nothing else beyond his heart right now.
Letting out a low shout, Xu Ziling's two hands changed into Great JinGang Chakra Image to counter Zhu Yuyan's Tian Mo Xiu [sleeve] brushing over his face.
'Bang! Bang! Bang!'
Xu Ziling was giving everything he had; his feet moved in strange footwork, he changed into the Outer Lion and Inner Lion Images, blocking Zhu Yuyan's three successive sleeve attack, which never brushed from the same angle - head on, without yielding a single cun. Eventually he was compelled to meet Zhu Yuyan's ruthless palm strike from inside her gauzed sleeve, with force against force.
Tian Mo energy rushed forth like a violent tidal wave, like a flood breaking through the dike. Xu Ziling spurted out a mouthful of blood before retreating two steps back. And then he flew sideways, barely evading the lightning fast kick from under Zhu Yuyan's skirt aimed at his lower abdomen.
Xu Ziling continued swaying to the left and right, and when even Zhu Yuyan was unable to determine which way he was going to run away, he already flashed behind Zhu Yuyan, both hands turned into millions of palm shadows like butterflies flying through the flowers, attacking this dreadful archenemy.
Zhu Yuyan did not expect that he would still have the strength to counterattack. Seemingly casually she spun around and brushed her sleeve away, it dispersed Xu Ziling's filling-the-air palm shadows. And then her cherry lips pursed, she blew a mouthful of fragrance air.
Brushed by her mysterious-without-equal sleeve, Xu Ziling staggered back, all the follow-up moves could not be continued.
Zhu Yuyan raised the heavy veil covering her face up, exposing her touching jade countenance. Her pair of beautiful eyes emitted some kind of pity, but also like a look of resentment. Combined with her beautiful countenance, the overall expression was some kind of words-cannot-convey touching look, yet carrying a deep, fantastic power that could hook the soul and absorb the spirit.
At the same time, this most famous martial art master of the demonic school's purple-red mouth let out a chant, while her tender body slowly swayed in a dance. Her lithe, many-postures postures, which could confuse people's mind and bewitch their spirit, would be able to move men with the heart of stone, or even Buddhist holy monks whose cultivation has reached the abandoning-the-reluctance-to-leave-this world level to violate their religious precept.
The strangest thing was that the air around her was seemingly filled with the sweet scent brimming with penetrating-the-heart-and-spleen power, which could melt any man's soul.
Xu Ziling cried, 'Lucky!' inwardly. Were it not for when he was disguised as Yue Shan he had seen Zhu Yuyan's youthful glow, her Mount Lu's real appearance, which was hard to believe, this time, being suddenly exposed to her jade countenance, he would definitely be shocked and his spirit washed away, and thus would reveal the gap in his mind that the opponent could exploit.
Under attack of her confusing-senses Tian Mo Da Fa, he was still able to fight and did not break down. This was precisely his only chance to turn defeat into victory. Assuming a dumbstruck expression, he secretly performed the Small Movement Fundamental Image.
Floating slowly over, Zhu Yuyan raised her finger to stab him from a distance.
Xu Ziling suddenly let out a wild roar, his mouth spat out the incantation, "Duo!"
A punch shot out.
Evidently Zhu Yuyan had never expected that Xu Ziling's mind could not be confused by her demonic power. Her tender body shook violently, the blue glow in her eyes flared brightly, her fingers turned into a palm chop, the speed increased suddenly, fast like a ghost she flashed toward Xu Ziling's left side, while her palm chopped down on the side of Xu Ziling's fist.
Although Xu Ziling was able to clearly see the style and the move with which she met the contingency, yet when he wanted to change his move, his fist was already hit by the palm strike, so that he was completely unable to change the situation.
When the opponent's jade palm sliced the side of his fist, it felt like a soft blade, but his brains felt like being struck by lightning, his vision and hearing blurred up at the same time. Were it not for the little bit of clarity remaining in his spirit, perhaps he would be so frightened that he'd let out a frantic cry.
Such a demonic skill, it was truly earth-shattering and irresistible.
On the other hand, his full-strength punch, which was released by seeking for a gap to exploit - has shaken Zhu Yuyan that she was forced to float toward the roof on the left.
Xu Ziling made an effort to leap vertically up, and after two somersaults he had to continuously circulate the true qi within his body before his vision and hearing were restored.
From his high vantage point looking down, he saw the terrifying situation like the Asura's hell below. Most of the buildings of Tian Kui dojo have been engulfed in the ocean of fire. Dead bodies were everywhere, but the massacre was still raging. Using a hundred-scheme the enemies in black clothes continued their merciless attack to kill the survivors.
Thick smoke covered the sky, the moon and the stars lost their light, Xu Ziling's vision could only reach the bitter scene full of running wolves and rushing wild boars.
He knew that he was unable to reverse the present situation. If he did not leave now, by the time Yin Gui Pai's devil heads had finished annihilating the rest of the dojo, he would not be able to leave even more.
But how could he break away from Zhu Yuyan?
He flew toward the roof ridge of another building. Zhu Yuyan flew overhead, her pair of jade palms struck with full force down, qi power pressed down on him that his breathing stopped, his entire body lacked in strength.
 Hanging boots ghost, 吊靴鬼 (diao xue gui)
 Da Luo Jin Xian, 大罗金仙, God of the Gods,