Sword-Forging Manor's back mountain villa, blades stabbed out in the dark of night, yet Jing Ling gazed at Xie Yun, as a strange smile abruptly appeared on his face:
"The dagger… I accepted it."
Xie Yun realised that something was not right, yet it was too late.
Just before the sneak attack was about to succeed, Jing Ling slackened his grip on the Soul-Stealing Hook as if he knew the future, and the heavy steel hook fell to the ground with a loud clang; at the same time he took back his empty hand, and with a pa! he accurately caught the soundless dagger that Xie Yun thrust out.
The look in Xie Yun's eyes changed slightly, and then the pain came, and Jing Ling gazed at him with a smile, pulling his wrist close.
Under the horrific creaking of his crushed wrist bones, the dagger fell to the ground with a clanging.
"Remember? This move was what you…"
Jing Ling had yet to finish speaking, when Chen Haiping flew through the air, and with a stab forced him back several steps!
"Miss Long, leave!"
Jing Ling was caught unawares, actually backing up several zhang before he forced away Chen Haiping's sword. Right then he flew into a rage, and with a wave of his hook swatted aside Chen Haiping's sword, and then the hook knocked into his chest.
Bang! The chest bones echoed, and Chen Haiping spat out a spray of blood, his body uncontrollably flying out three zhang, before he was cushioned by the painstaking efforts of Zhou Yu.
Jing Ling steadied himself, glancing towards Chen Haiping who was on his knees panting, and he coldly said: "Reckless…"
"—you!" Zhou Yu immediately raged, and could not help but want to grab his sword and rush forth, yet immediately after he heard Jing Ling waving to his subordinates, lightly commanding:
"Clear the place."
The surroundings immediately quieted.
And then, the meaning present in those words, made everyone open their eyes in shock!
With a clang blades were unsheathed, and the Mysterious Demon School assassins who were surrounding the front hall immediately swarmed. The disciples of the great martial-arts sects immediately reacted in succession, realising that today there would be a fierce battle, and each of them responded by charging into battle with roars.
In no time, the entire front courtyard had become a carnage or swords and sabres.
And in the middle of the empty ground, Jing Ling narrowed his eyes as he faced Xie Yun who was standing not far off, and a moment later he actually showed a rather cold smile:
"Are you curious, as to how I neutralised your previous move?"
Xie Yun was currently rubbing his right wrist with a wooden expression— those who used the Bone-Shrinking Technique were more likely to dislocate their joints, and Jing Ling's grip had already forcibly dislocated his wrist, only being reset when he fell to the ground with a crack.
"Quite curious," he commented.
Jing Ling did not immediately reply him, but leant forward to pick up the sharp gilded dagger inlaid with jewels on the ground, looking at it in his hand for a while. Although the surrounding cacophony of shouts shook the heavens, yet his tone was relaxed, as if chatting with an old friend: "You seem to always like collecting these type of short weapons which are more decorative than practical…"
Xie Yun said: "Because when there is no money the jewels can be picked out to sell."
This answer was rather surprising, and Jing Ling gave Xie Yun a slightly startled glance: "Very good. So the dagger which you gave me back then was inlaid with various jewels for this reason… fortunately I did not randomly throw it away in so many years."
Xie Yun said: "I don't remember."
Jing Ling asked again: "You don't want to know why that attack just now was seen through by me?"
As Xie Yun rubbed his wrist, he also tilted his head slightly, his brow furrowing.
"Because you taught me before," Jing Ling met his gaze, enunciating: "Because that move, was one that you taught me before."
—if one looked closely, when he spoke this Jing Ling had a tight grip on the dagger, to the point that his knuckles seemed to protrude with malevolence.
Yet Xie Yun did not even ponder, but shook his head and smiled: "No good… I really can't remember."
"I've seen too many things, and killed too many people, for a trinket that I could randomly gift to someone else, I've completely forgotten with the passing of time. You can keep the dagger if you like," He paused in ridicule, and said: "I still have many more."
In a split second Jing Ling's grip tightened.
Yet it was only for an instant, and very quickly his fingers loosened, and he lazily threw the dagger onto the ground.
"No matter." He said, "There is no need to care about mere worldly possessions, in any case today you shall inevitably deliver your life in my hand, after you go down you'd naturally remember who killed you."
The last few words of that sentence were extremely clear, yet extremely muffled, and immediately around Jing Ling's body and even on the Soul-Stealing Hooks, there scattered out a prickling intense ice-cold aura—
That was killing intent.
From the moment he ran into Xie Yun in the Sword-Forging Manor main hall up until now, although they had opposed each other with equal harshness several times, yet at present this was the first time he could not contain himself, and released such dense, hostile, and unrelenting killing intent.
Jing Ling held hooks in both hands, making a step towards Xie Yun, the hooks' points rising like poisonous snakes rearing to spit inch by inch.
At this moment the front courtyard was filled with the clashes of weapons, the shouts of murder and anger, and screams rose and fell, with bodies falling in succession amidst the bloody spatter, the surroundings like a scene like the carnage of the underworld; flaming torches burning all around the open space, and chopped-up blades littered the ground, the blood yet to dry on the blades still falling drop by drop into the dark earth.
Xie Yun finally loosened his wrist: "Can you really kill me?"
Jing Ling had already walked to before him, and at this distance Xie Yun's hair blown up by the winds could float to his side, so close that just reaching out he could perhaps chop down the head of this repulsive man before him.
"What," Jing Ling coldly said, "this time you're still planning to use your rich combat experience to beat me, Senior?"
Yet Xie Yun shook his head and said: "No."
He raised a hand to press on Jing Ling's strong forearm, and that press was extremely light, almost very gentle, yet Jing Ling almost immediately felt it, a formidable internal force currently converging in Xie Yun's pulse, rising to a fearful level within the span of several breaths!
Jing Ling's expression changed: "What's going on?!"
"At first if I endured the last three days, this year would have passed…" Xie Yun gave a long sigh, as a large tattoo floated up from his back, stretching, and the dragon-shaped tattoo circled his whole body, the dragon's head passing by his left shoulder to stop before his solar plexus, so large that even on his neck there appeared a corner of the malevolent tattoo.
At the same time, a strong current of qi spiralled out from beneath his feet, true force sweeping like blades, spreading out to the four corners in an instant!
"Little martial-brother,1" Xie Yun said, "No matter how rich your experience, it is useless before absolute power, don't you know that?"
The next moment, he easily took down the Soul-Stealing Hooks, and with a horizontal chop blood sprayed out, and in an instant he had chopped aside Jing Ling!
Translator's Notes Chapter 14: Interlude and Reflection so far
At this stage this chapter is mainly a bridge between 13 and 15, so narratively it does minimal to the plot except establish that Jing Ling has something for Sis Yun. OK established, moving on.
Looking back, the crux of the first volume-arc is really on Chapter 12, where Shan Chao's broken memory finally recalls that A. his teacher is really pretty; B. his teacher is also rather evil, highly positioned in Court, and tried to kill him once; plus C. said teacher is somewhat responsible for the Crown Prince being poisoned.
Of course, we as readers know Sis Yun is faking, really, he was Shan Chao's nanny for at least seven years in a backwater desert when we established that Xie Yun is pretty fond of sybaritic pleasures, power and its perks. Xie Yun is also very fond of ancient poetry and astronomy, which is a recurring feature in other Huaishang novels ( comes to mind).
At this point in time we're still in the prelude, really, so in gaming terms this is still the first dungeon and Xie Yun's left with mini-BOSS Jing alone… Shan Chao, hurry up!!!
1 ZH: 小师弟 - this establishes that Xie Yun and Jing Ling share the same teacher, with Xie Yun as the older martial-apprentice and Jing Ling as the younger. is a fairly good summation.