"Run! Run for your life! Hahaha! The descendent of the oh-so-mighty Celestial Master is useless like a disowned dog! You don't want to miss this, everybody! This is the orthodox group of your country! This is the most capable man of Longhu Mountain!"
In a matter of minutes, what looked like a thousand gaping wounds covered the yard—thanks to the smashing seal, which fed the arrogance of Zhang Ziliang, who simply could not stop laughing.
Zhang Shouyang was already cornered and was enraged by those words. He suddenly shouted, "You have gone too far. I will fight you till my last breath!"
Standing still, he drew out a peach wood sword from his waist and chanted, "Immortal of the peach wood sword, please accept my invitation and descend to this world. With my petty skill, I shall activate a flying sword which takes lives without hesitation. Obey this as an urgent call from divine soldiers!"
With a wave of his hand, a fluctuation covered the wooden sword, which shot into the air and aimed right at Zhang Ziliang's neck.
"Sword-summoning Skill, another petty one!"
Zhang Ziliang scorned and flipped his willow twig again. "Strike nine times, wood snaps on itself. Break!"
The willow twig whipped onto the peach wood sword, but the latter did not snap as he expected. Instead, the wooden sword suddenly sped up and whooshed towards him, moving so fast that it turned into a blurred shadow.
"It's not a Sword-summoning Spell!"
Astonished, Zhang Ziliang jumped sideways and rolled on the ground, barely escaping the blade.
Before he could stand still, a sharp pain ran up his left arm. He turned to look—the place where his left forearm used to be was now empty. He could see bones protruding out of his upper left arm, as well as the gushing blood.
His vision went dark and he felt like fainting. Right away, he smacked a talisman onto himself and swallowed a pill, which was barely able to stop the bleeding together.
Zhang Jintong saw the whole thing. He almost rose from his chair when he sat quietly back again. Lu Yuanqing also shook his head and sighed to himself: that was such a pity!
It was indeed. This one was called Edict Sword Skill, a minor Taoist skill discovered in the White Crane Underground Palace.
It had no sword energy or glowing blade, but was an unorthodox trick that had little potential for future improvement. It was a downgraded version of a flying sword, but the advantage was also apparent: little was required from the spellcaster, it was easy to use, and any sword—be it peach wood or fine steel—would do the trick.
The Edict Sword Skill contained one move only. The sword charged out, fast enough to become a blurry shadow, and was powerful enough in most circumstances.
In plain words: ever heard of Enchantments (as in Minecraft)?
It was a little trick created by Priest White Crane himself as a hobby which he casually recorded in a jade slip. Zhang Shouyang had planned to take Zhang Ziliang by surprise with it, but the latter managed to dodge at the last minute.
Zhang Ziliang was blind with rage and lost all control. Ignoring all the onlookers that might be affected, he tore a yellow scroll out of his pocket, yelling, "You had it coming! It's all your fault!
"Soldiers of the netherworld hear me out. Fetch your iron chains and locks and follow me! Those that lure and snatch the living souls, take all you want and spare no one!"
He spat a mouthful of spiritual blood onto the scroll, which flickered with a red light, but immediately dimmed as if there wasn't enough power to activate it. Zhang Ziliang watched it with a gloomy face. He then ground his teeth, grabbed his upper left arm with his right hand, and ripped down.
The audience felt their blood curling at the scream. The man had torn off what was left of his left arm. Blood gushed out, soon soaking the yellow scroll.
He was convulsing with pain. Picking up the broken arm, he pressed hard on the scroll, making a blurry mark.
"Those that lure and snatch the living souls, take all you want and spare no one! Soldiers of the netherland, show yourselves!"
Instantly, sinister wind began to blow in the yard as the ferocious screams of ghosts filled the air. The people sitting on top of the wall were all terrified as if they were witnessing a living hell. The scroll was a minor skill scroll left behind by an ancestor—sealed inside were five soldiers from the netherworld. Once released, they would hunt down all the living souls there were, sparing no one.
Mu Kun's face went pale, for this had definitely gone beyond what they'd agreed on regarding the contest. Lu Yuanqing also bolted to his feet, ready to intervene.
Zhang Shouyang, on the other hand, watched the unfolding event with the same solemn face, which now looked a little unresigned. He sighed sadly inwardly. 'All the past Celestial Masters up there, am I doomed to die here today?'
"Let me lend you a sword."
He shuddered. A cool, mild voice repeated at his ear, "Let me lend you a sword."
Pursing his lips tightly together, Zhang Shouyang was vaguely reminded of a certain fellow. However, right now was not the time to think. After a moment of hesitation, he made a swift wave and summoned the peach wood sword again.
"Hahaha! Is that all you've got?"
Zhang Ziliang laughed sardonically and snarled, "Go! Flay him, pull out his tendons, and rip out his soul alive! He will be damned for eternity!"
Black smoke surged out of the scroll in large clouds and gathered behind him. One could faintly make out the malicious-looking netherworld soldiers within who pounced out together with the cloud.
Meanwhile, the peach wood sword flew towards him again. It was as plain as before and nothing seemed to have changed. Waving the willow twig, Zhang Ziliang watched the wooden sword moving closer and was reassured that it was the same as before. He sneered, "Strike six times, spirit dissipates itself. Now…"
The second half of his sentence choked in his throat. His insolence was replaced by horror and the smirk froze on his face. He yelled frantically, "That's impossible!"
The sword seemed to fly in from another world. Halfway, a glow suddenly erupted out of it, and golden flame surged out of the blade. It was mighty, it was brilliant, and it was emanating a killing will that dominated all heaven and earth!
No words could describe its speed and vigor. It cut through the willow twig head-on before stabbing right into the thick walls of the cloud.
The five netherworld soldiers howled in agony and the black cloud tumbled like waves. It was now shrinking at an observable speed.
Golden light filled the air and little dots of flame swayed with willowy motions, reminding one of lotus flowers, covering half of the yard. The mixture of red and black was dazzling, and the audience watched this with thumping hearts.
Almost instantly, the netherworld soldiers turned into ashes.
With the glowing golden blade, the blue sky was revealed and the ghostly fog dispersed!
Zhang Ziliang stood there, as dumb as a piece of wood. Utterly confused, he had even lost the courage to resist. His eyes then prickled at a dazzling sight before everything went dark. He did not even feel the pain.
The others watched it with an even dumber look on their face as the wooden sword cut into the willow twig, punched through the black cloud, and came right at his face. It was easier then cutting a piece of tofu.
Zhang Ziliang was split into halves down his spine, which then fell to either side and dropped to the ground simultaneously.
A hush fell over East Yard, so quiet that they almost forgot to breath.
Those on the wall felt their jaws went slack. Both their minds and bodies had stopped working and were in a shocked state. Wasn't the man fleeing the foreign priest the entire time? How on earth did he win?
Well, it had to be it! Zhang Shouyang was acting helplessly on purpose and made his killing move at the right moment!
Some were so excited that they fell off the walls, but were still grinning as they fell into a heap on the ground. "Hahaha! Our Longhu Mountain is awesome! The Taoist community is awesome! Our country is awesome!"
Zhang Ziliang's disciples rushed towards him and collected his dead body. With their patron gone, they were now moving slowly with faces hard to describe. There was no longer any confidence in them now, and in their sorrow was an even greater fear.
Zhang Shouyang, on the other hand, turned to look at the seats. His eyes flitted past his thirty-five fellow members of Qiyun and stopped at the last seat, which was now empty.
'Ha, the man does like to go unnoticed!' He smiled wryly to himself. After all, he had only won this battle because someone else helped him. For a moment there, he was so dispirited that his mind was wavering. But almost right away, he was the steadfast man again. 'I was fighting for the Taoist orthodoxy, and I was simply not capable enough yet. I will work harder from now on and find a way to return this favor.'
Mu Kun heaved a sigh, feeling neither sad nor happy, for the result was within his expectation.
There were only so many possibilities: Longhu Mountain won, the foreign brach won, or with Gu Yu's help, Longhu Mountain won… the relationship between Gu Yu and Celestial Master Temple was taken into account when they planned the contest back then.
Shaking his head, he walked slowly out and announced loudly, "Zhang Ziliang was defeated. Longhu Mountain has won!"
Zhang Ziliang was dead, but his disciples were still here. As agreed, they were free to leave, but the orthodoxy had to stay. Longhu Mountain didn't have to deal with these things; the government would handle everything for them instead.
These disciples had been serving Zhang Ziliang for many years and knew all about his secret stash.
They were clever enough to submit to fate. After all, spill the beans and they could live. Apart from Aan, all the other disciples, who were of Chinese origin, hinted that they wanted to join Celestial Master Temple.
The foreign sect had taken a lot of things with them, among which were 72 talisman spells and 18 minor refined instrument of various kind, all of which were not so powerful but could be used in a variety of special ways.
The more impressive one was that Mountain-dominating and Evil-killing Seal, a 300-year-old peach wood refined sword, two purple talismans, and five blue talismans.
The Celestial Master Seal indeed existed, but was not here with Zhang Ziliang. Instead, it was kept in the secret chamber back in Celestial Master Temple in the Southeast, together with the Supreme Ghost-cursing Scripture.
There was only one way to proceed with this. The BIMAUP then discussed with the monastery, sending out a few capable men to take back the seal, which we would not go into details about.
After the duel, they gathered together back in Celestial Master Temple. Although Chen Muzi was dead and Zhang Shouyang would need a few months to regain his strength, the general atmosphere was quite jolly.
"Congratulations! The Way of Celestial Masters has been divided for a century but is now reunited under your watch. You will be remembered forever for this contribution."
In the inner hall, Lu Yuanqing made a toast to Zhang Jintong, using tea as his toasting wine.
"Haha, you flatter me! I cannot take the credit. It was by sheer luck that we managed to win the contest. Thank you all for all your help!"
Now that the problem was solved, Zhang Jintong couldn't be happier. His face crinkled up like a blossoming rose as he smiled and he was waving his hands to show his modesty.
"You're being too modest. You and Senior Brother Zhang made it happen. No one can deny that."
Everyone was in a good mood and the pleasantries flowed out easily. Taoist priests socialized when necessary like everyone else; it was only human nature.
"Granduncle!" After much chatting, Zhang Shouyang, who had been silent until now, asked suddenly, "Where is Layman Gu? I need to thank him in person."
"He left before the contest was over, saying he was going back to Yingtan first and heading back for Phoenix Mountain tomorrow." Zhang Jintong paused a little before saying, "I think it's better if you don't meet him. Keep your thoughts to yourself for now. Meeting him will only make it awkward."
"..." Zhang Shouyang went quiet for a while and nodded. "Ok."
Tang Chongdai heard their conversation and asked suddenly, "Abbot, when are we going back to Qiyun?"
"Tomorrow, if everything goes as planned."
"I see. In that case, I'll be away this afternoon and come back tomorrow morning."
"Sure. Please be careful."
Generally, Lu Yuanqing stayed away from the priests' personal affairs and treated them with respect on a daily basis.
"All right. I'll be on my way."
Tan Chongdai was acting a little strangely. Cupping his hands at the rest, he walked out of the inner hall.
Zhang Jintong watched his gaunt back as he walked away. Maybe because they were both elderly men, he was suddenly struck by sadness. "The old priest does not have much time left."
The room fell into silence at this. It was after quite a while when Lu Yuanqing sighed softly. "No, he doesn't."