Chapter 188 Trembling
The fact that Ye Silang could remove Immortal Peng's control was not because of his strong will, but rather because he didn't learn the kung fu well.
Like the emotionless swordsmanship, the passionate swordsmanship was also divided into seven levels. Ye Silang and Chu Yangjun had stopped practising after they reached the fourth level, so although the two's swordsmanship was good, they were still far away from reaching the state of perfection. Otherwise, they would not have died under the killer's sword.
Just like Gu Shenwei, Ye Silang had learnt kung fu before he took Immortal Peng as his Master. However, Ye Silang had known many martial arts skills before he learned the Essence of Perceiving Passion and his pursuit of a worldly life had never ceased. Once he found that his swordsmanship was enough for him to wander Jianghu, he had left the Essence Pavilion and entered Northern Jade City with the lie that he had returned from the outside world.
Immortal Peng didn't admit that he controlled any of the disciples, saying, "It's the martial arts that attracts them, not me. The Essence of Perceiving Passion is broad and profound to the point that anyone who practises it will be fascinated. Ye Silang was not strong-willed, and thus he had destroyed himself and Chu Yangjun. Without a dual cultivation partner, Chu Yangjun's martial arts also came to a standstill. They could have cultivated to the seventh level before they left. By that time, no one could have killed them."
"Has anyone cultivated to level seven?"
"Yes, and more than one. All of them have left the Essence Pavilion."
"Can I leave at any time?"
"Of course, no one is stopping you."
"Can I do anything?"
"Yes, you're free."
"I am free."
Gu Shenwei talked to himself, but the doubts in his heart were increasing. He wanted to verify Immortal Peng's words.
The sword thrust out; it was the Death Sutra swordsmanship.
Gu Shenwei believed that this move was his best, free of worries with only the will to kill. He was indeed free, but there were always some martial arts in this world that were outside his expectations.
The sword should have pierced into Immortal Peng's neck, but ended up stabbing into the giant metal dragon head of the crutch, unable to move forward at all. Gu Shenwei swore that he hadn't blinked his eyes, but Immortal Peng was already several steps away from his original position. Gu Shenwei wasn't even able to clearly see how he had moved.
There was only one sword move in the Death Sutra swordsmanship. This was the second time Gu Shenwei failed to hit his opponent today, and the damage was more serious than the previous one. The internal energy filled in the sword suddenly flooded back like rushing water, directed at its own master.
Gu Shenwei gripped the sword and stood stiffly for a while before he suddenly retreated step by step, retching. He could barely stabilize his stance till he leaned against the wall. With his stomach churning, he couldn't straighten up himself for a long while.
"This is level seven."
Gu Shenwei's internal Qi had finally restored to its normal state and Immortal Peng could speak through him again.
Gu Shenwei himself, however, couldn't say anything. He had only practised a swordsmanship that was purely for killing. This was his first time seeing a martial arts that was all-encompassing, killing or not killing as one pleased.
He was still a bit rebellious, so he closed his eyes and stabbed again.
Immortal Peng's 'life Qi' was as clear as a resting cloud and its flaw was evident, even more evident than average people. He seemed to have removed all resistance and was quietly waiting for the critical strike.
But the sword still wasn't able to hit him.
Gu Shenwei couldn't understand that feeling. The distance between him and Immortal Peng was always about ten steps, a distance neither too far nor too short. But it was a distance that he couldn't shorten no matter how hard he tried, which meant that Immortal Peng's flaw couldn't be touched, which meant he was flawless. The weird thing was that he didn't think Immortal Peng was moving back to dodge his sword, but rather the attacker, he himself, was retreating.
Gu Shenwei dropped the sword, opened his eyes and said in a husky voice, "I will practise to the seventh level."
Immortal Peng stretched out his cane and put it on the killer's shoulder to show him a higher realm of martial arts: One was able to fight ten thousand and there was no end to the killing.
Gu Shenwei was like a blind man who had suddenly momentarily been given the gift of sight through an external force. After this, he could no longer bear the darkness and was willing to pay any price for his sight.
The hypnosis had little effect, and Gu Shenwei was very sure that this decision was his own. He would stay and practise until he mastered the seventh level of the emotionless swordsmanship, which was a hundred times more powerful than the Death Sutra swordsmanship. With such a martial arts skill, he would no longer need to constantly plan and plot for his vengeance, as everyone in the Shangguan family was just a frozen target.
This was what Gu Shenwei was thinking the night after Immortal Peng left. The teenager felt his blood boil as he stood in front of the screen, reading the characters of the emotionless swordsmanship and unable to calm down till dawn.
He had promised Lotus that he would recite the entire Essence of Perceiving Passion, but it turned out he had wasted a whole night. The emotionless swordsmanship had caught his eye and he wasn't in the mood to recite anything else.
Gu Shenwei was motivated from his meeting with Immortal Peng and began training even more diligently than Chu Nanping. The two 'emotionless men' finally came to a tacit understanding and started helping each other. Their swordsmanship improved rapidly and soon passed the second and third level, arriving at the fourth level of 'the mind follows the sword'. Their concentration increased greatly, and they didn't care about anything except for the sword.
One hundred days had passed and Gu Shenwei had finished writing the Death Sutra. The Desolate Finger Energy in his body hadn't been removed, but he didn't care about it anymore. He just wanted to advance rapidly and reach the seventh level as soon as possible so he could execute the same martial arts wonders he had 'seen'.
But he and Chu Nanping had stagnated at the fourth level, and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't break through it. So one night in late spring, those two 'emotionless men' went to ask Immortal Peng for advice.
"The first four levels of the Essence of Perceiving Passion focus on cultivating the body. Starting from the fifth level, the concentration switches to cultivating the heart. The reason you can't make a breakthrough is because there's still something you care about in your heart. The only way to get rid of it is to cut the thread of concern with the sword of wisdom."
This was all Immortal Peng said, as the two dual cultivators had to learn to understand it themselves. Chu Nanping seemed to have been waiting for this moment and know that sooner or later he would encounter this obstacle. "We have to kill people who we don't want to kill."
Gu Shenwei also understood. The emotionless swordsmanship had written it out clearly; it was just that the practitioners were not willing to face it.
Who was the person he didn't want to kill? The name Shangguan Ru actually jumped out first, but was immediately rejected. She was on the kill list. The only person he should not kill or should not want to kill was Lotus.
He shuddered at the mere idea of killing her. Lotus was his only loyal supporter, and killing her meant that he would be alone from then on, without anybody to trust.
This was exactly the essence of the emotionless swordsmanship.
Gu Shenwei finally steeled himself to do it, though Chu Nanping actually made up his mind earlier than Gu Shenwei. The two departed at the peach grove and each went to kill someone.
Gu Shenwei was a bit curious that a person like Chu Nanping who had been trained to be emotionless since he was little would have someone he didn't want to kill.
His curiosity merely flashed in his mind, and Gu Shenwei focused on his own killing plan again.
Lotus wasn't an easy target to kill. She had also learnt the Death Sutra swordsmanship, had a heavy killing aura, and always acted resolutely. While he himself was in the middle of improving the emotionless swordsmanship while his original swordsmanship was weakened, leaving him in an awkward situation where he might not be Lotus's match.
He could only take advantage of her trust in him to assassinate her.
Gu Shenwei was steadfast; the noise from the tavern, the laughter from the brothel, and the clamouring from the gambling house all had no effect on the teenage killer as he moved forward in the night.
The light in Lotus's room, which was at the backyard of Southwall Tavern, was on.
As he crouched on the roof of an opposite room, Gu Shenwei observed for a while and reviewed the whole assassination plan in his mind again.
"This is your own choice," he said to himself quietly without a reason. Then he jumped off the roof and knocked twice on the door of Lotus's room.
Lotus was carefully reading about the Essence of Perceiving Passion that Servant Huan had memorized. Since his last departure, Servant Huan hadn't followed their agreement of meeting every three days, which made her even more worried. She was hoping she could find a flaw in the magic of Immortal Peng's training method.
Servant Huan came unexpectedly tonight. He looked normal and free from manipulation, but there was still something in him that had changed, something so subtle it was indescribable even to Lotus.
"Immortal Peng's martial arts is a bit odd." Lotus seldom asked questions about Servant Huan's behaviours, and she just said what she had to say.
"Really?" Servant Huan's reply was cold and perfunctory, as if he weren't interested in the question, or had any other ideas.
Lotus turned to stare at Servant Huan, the strange feeling becoming stronger and stronger. The teenager in front of her looked the same, but it was like a different person. The tacit understanding between the two had ceased to exist, and they were like two strangers now. She even felt that the way she spoke was too casual and intimate.
"You've come to kill me ?"
Lotus's words shot into the teenager's heart like a sharp arrow. Gu Shenwei gripped the sword hilt with his right hand, his body slightly trembling. This was the best time to kill, not the best time to open his mouth and speak. He replied, "I … I don't know."
Lotus turned her head to continue reading the Essence of Perceiving Passion. She had already found a major flaw, which might help eliminate the teenager's inner demon. Servant Huan was too confident, and had, therefore, fallen into Immortal Peng's trap. She wanted to show him the truth.
"You may think slowly."
Lotus's calm words were like a wake-up call, and Gu Shenwei began trembling even more violently. He couldn't even hold the sword hilt now. Flopping into the chair, he covered his head with his hand, hoping to think about something. But his head ached badly, and his mind was totally blank now.
Outside, the noise of happiness in the tavern gradually disappeared, the wick swayed, and the two in the room had been silent for a long time.
"I won't kill you." Gu Shenwei finally opened his mouth, his voice steady but his mind still spinning. The invincible swordsmanship was right in front of him, and all he had to do was kill the teenage girl in front of him to reach a higher level. He didn't notice that his palm kept opening and closing; the sword about a foot away was calling for his grip.
Lotus turned around to face Servant Huan, holding up the stack of the Essence of Perceiving Passion with both hands, "Immortal Peng is a liar, and you've been fooled."
"There are no sixty-four training methods. The Essence of Perceiving Passion is real, and the emotionless swordsmanship is also true, but there's no relationship between the two. Do you understand? The so-called sixty-four training methods are actually sixty-four different martial arts skills, which have nothing in common with one another. The essence is only a set of internal energy secret manual, and the other training methods are not annotations of it at all."
Gu Shenwei's mind changed from being blank to a tangle, "But those seven levels …"
"The emotionless swordsmanship is a good martial art, but how can it compare with the Death Sutra swordsmanship?" Lotus's voice became icy cold. "You've been fooled. Immortal Peng has traded for your most precious treasure at the cheapest price."
All of a sudden, the whole room was filled with killing aura. Lotus drew out her sword and stabbed at Servant Huan.