Book 21 Chapter 1 – Swords Flowing Out of The Big Dipper Handle
Jiao Hongjin turned around and pulled his broadsword; he sprang out of his chair, and shot toward the ‘wooden tripod cauldron’ window looking out toward the rear courtyard from the side room. Before gaining steady footings, however, he roared in anger, and bent his body backward.
‘Chi! Chi! Chi!’ repeated swishing sound of seven, eight powerful arrows flitted across only a few cun above his face like lightning flashes, and stuck themselves onto the walls and beams of the side room.
The tail of the arrows were still swaying, the footsteps outside the door cam to a sudden stop.
The door was heavily kicked open, big men with weapons in their hands, like wolves and tigers, rushed into the room without saying anything.
Kou Zhong let out a long laugh. Copying Jiao Hongjin, he sprang out of his chair, but his hands grabbed the back of the chair tightly, lightning fast both of his legs flew backward, and hit two men, who were chopping down their weapons, on the pit of their stomach.
The sound of sternums breaking was shaking to the core. Both men spurted blood from their seven orifices [i.e. 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 1 mouth], the weapons dropped from their hands, their body flew backward like a kite with cut string, knocking the other men, who were rushing behind them, that they fell in a pitiful state, suffering from broken bones or split flesh. Six or seven men went down, not even half was able to crawl back up.
Screams were heard from adjacent rooms.
Kou Zhong’s feet landed on the floor, he said to the angry Jiao Hongjin, “Let us lure the enemy outside, so that they won’t accidentally hurt the innocents.” He soared up, broke the ceiling, and flew out of roof.
Hearing him, Jiao Hongjin stared blankly for a moment, and then followed his example breaking out of the hole on the roof.
By this time Kou Zhong already attacked several archers lying on ambush on the roof that they run like wolves, scurried like rats, and rolled down from the eaves on both sides of the roof.
The entire second story, as well as the space between the building and the courtyard wall, was full of torches. The sound of people shouting and attacking filled the heavens, but no one could directly threaten them.
Jiao Hongjin moved to Kou Zhong’s left side, and he spoke resolutely, “From now on Jiao Hongjin’s life belongs to Kou Ye.”
Kou Zhong pulled him down to evade more than a dozen powerful arrows shot from the ground upward toward them. While scanning the surrounding area, he said with a laugh, “Why suddenly misplace your kindness to me like this?”
Jiao Hongjin willingly said, “Under this kind of circumstances, you can still taking the innocents into consideration, if Hongjin do not follow Kou Ye, whom should I follow?”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud. Reaching out, he grabbed Jiao Hongjin’s shoulders tightly for a moment, and then letting go his arms, he said, “Good Xiongdi! Come!”
Like an arrow, he shot low along the back of the roof, down the eaves, and slipped down like a swimming fish toward the lower floor. He moved in such a high speed that was indiscernible by naked eyes, plus this happened so suddenly that the enemy’s arrows all hit empty space. He was like a tiger entering the flock of sheep; first he moved at lightning speed to seize a lance, and then poking to the left and stabbing to the right, he attacked anybody on his way, so that the more than thirty enemies guarding that position were utterly defeated, and scattered in all direction.
As soon as Jiao Hongjin landed on the ground, Kou Zhong bellowed, “Come! We’ll kill Du Ren on our way.”
Enemy’s reinforcement forces came from both sides, their battle cry mixed with the screams of the girls upstairs; the situation was extremely chaotic.
Kou Zhong and Jiao Hongjin, one in front of the other, attacked their way toward the front gate, where vehicles and horses were parked at the plaza. Due to the space restrictions of the establishment, it was very difficult for the enemy to form heavy siege, hence it was very advantageous to the side with fewer number.
With Kou Zhong taking the lead, they charged their way along the corridors. The lance in Kou Zhong’s hand turned into millions rays of light like flashing lightning. None of those who blocked their way narrowly escaped; if not being swept and thrown out of railings along the corridor, they were poked and thrown back by the lance, crashing against the men of their own side. Indeed it was awe-inspiring on all eight sides, those who tried to block them were swept by the wind.
Jiao Hongjin’s martial art skill was equivalently brilliant; his broadsword went up and down, turned over and flew, he cut down many pursuing enemies.
Like a streak of lightning Kou Zhong’s lance swept at a shield, jolting both the shield and its bearer, sending him tumbling down backwards. Kou Zhong repeatedly swept the lance across, sending two stabbing spears aside, but in his heart he did not have the slightest delight, yet cried out for the turn of events was not too encouraging.
This moment, he was only about a dozen steps away before he could turn into the small square at the main gate; who would have thought that from the corner suddenly appeared countless men wielding saber and shield, and spear and shield, blocking their way out so tight that there was no gap between them, while the mob, who was originally blocking their way, fanned out toward the railings, to let the fresh troops to deal with the two.
Every single one of this group of spear and shield wielders had good martial art skill. The most formidable thing was that these men were highly trained, with first-rate capability both to attack and defend effectively. Kou Zhong’s previously splitting-bamboo like momentum immediately went up in smoke, and turned into cun by cun, fen by fen hard struggle. [1 cun is approximately an inch, 1 fen is approximately 1/3 cm or 1/8 inch.]
Jiao Hongjin behind him immediately felt the increased pressure; the more they fought, the deeper they sank into the heavy siege, the blood-soaked and hard-fought struggle.
Jiao Hongjin spoke harshly, “Du Ren wants to kill me with his heart and soul. This is this personal guards, the Spear and Shield Regiment. Their number reaches five hundred men. Kou Ye, quickly leave! Don’t mind me, if you delayed, it will be too late.”
Kou Zhong suddenly backed off, dodging three spears swiftly slashing down on him, and pressed his back against Jiao Hongjin’s, while calling out, “If we die, we die together.”
His keen eyes scanned the surroundings, and saw that other than the shield wielders and spear wielders swarming in from outside the railings of the corridor, there was a group of more than a dozen archers with crossbow in their hands. While crying inwardly, ‘Not good!’ he shouted loudly, “Follow me!”
Kou Zhong simply crashed into the wall, and rolled into the pleasure house’s reception lobby.
※ ※ ※
Zuo Youxian’s build was tall and slender, his head was almost bald, but two tufts of long hair still remained on his temples, like a child’s hair, reaching down to his wide shoulders, the shape was exceptionally good.
He looked at least sixty years old, but his skin was as fair as a baby’s. His eyes were like a goat’s eyes, his sparse beard was long and drooping down, his nose bent and pointy, giving the impression that he was an extreme demonic and ruthless man.
The clothes he was wearing was plain grey Taoist robe. His hands behind his back, he stood as steady as a mountain, the hilt of a sword was visible over his left shoulder, his imposing manner was suffocating.
His eyes emitted deep and sharp gaze, as he sized the disguised-as-Yue-Shan Xu Ziling from top to bottom, and spoke coldly, “Of course not as good as Yue Xiong, who was able to hide and live in ease and comfort. Yue Xiong has become very formidable, even the saber, which was usually inseparable from you, is nowhere to be seen. Your voice has also changed, as well as your eyes. Although Xiaodi sympathize with you, old debt cannot be forgotten. If you are willing to break your own right hand, Xiaodi will let you go.”
To more than a dozen Jianghuai Army troops, who were escorting the carriage, leaped off their horses and spread out to circle them, he shouted, “Get away to give me some space. Better yet, get lost far away!”
As a matter of fact, the pedestrians on the street have already scattered away to avoid trouble; they went to hide in the stores and into the alleys.
Xu Ziling did not know where Shi Qingxuan went, but her instruction was still ringing in his ears. Hastily he let out a hoarse laughter, while his eyes shot sharp rays like lightning flashes as he stared at Zuo Youxian, who was standing more than two zhang away, and spoke indifferently, “Zuo Xiong has Fu Gongyou supporting you, no wonder you put on a lot more air in the way you speak. If I had not completed the ‘Huan Ri Da Fa’, based on this sentence alone, I would make your blood splash within ten paces. Zuo Xiong, do you believe me?”
Zuo Youzian’s countenance changed slightly, a half-believing, half-doubting look flitted across his eyes; he spoke heavily, “Xiaodi has just trained the ‘Zi Wu Gang’ [lit. zi – compass point 0º (north), wu – compass point 180º (south), gang – stars of the Big Dipper’s handle] to the eighteenth level, and just suffered from no-rivals. This time meeting Yue Xiong on the road by chance, clearly my Taoist ancestors are showing favor, by giving Xiaodi this golden opportunity to test my skill.”
Although behind the Yue Shan’s mask the muscle on Xu Ziling’s face was showing a strange smile, he was actually trying to stall for time. He spoke indifferently, “‘Zi Wu Gang’ is one of the two amazing supreme skills handed-down techniques of your honored sect, the Dao Zhu [lit. Taoist ancestors] Sect. It stands side by side with the ‘Ren Bing Jianfa’ [lit. ren – compass point 345º, bing – compass point 165º, jianfa - sword technique], as the ‘subduing sects secret skills’. But since your honored ancestor Chang Mei Lao Dao [lit. old Taoist with long eyebrows] founded the Sect, nobody has been able to execute ‘Zi Wu Gang’ to perfection and harmonize it to be a sword technique that can really be used. Zuo Xiong must be careful not to paint a tiger as a dog. If I am able to see any one small flaw in your coordination, Zuo Xiong’s trial will become martyrdom. Please don’t blame Ol’ Yue for not giving you a forewarning.”
Obviously Zuo Youxian had no doubt in seeing him as the real Yue Shan. Laughing coldly, he said, “I did not expect Yue Xiong has deep knowledge of my humble handed-down little skill. As for whether Xiaodi’s ‘Jian Gang Tong Liu’ [Swords Flowing Out of The Big Dipper Handle, chapter title] still has any flaw, I was about to ask for Yue Xiong’s guidance.”
Zuo Youxian’s treasured sword left its sheath. Immediately a burst of no-stronghold-one-cannot-overcome biting cold gang [see above] qi emitted out of the blade of the sword, pointing at Xu Ziling from a distance. It was fierce and overbearing, as well as demonic, strange, and eerie.
Xu Ziling groaned inwardly. From Shi Qingxuan’s instruction, which sounded like a thin string of noise piercing his eardrums, he learned that Zuo Youxian was one of the eight martial art masters of the demonic sects. In the past, he ranked above You Niaojuan. If he fought a hand-to-hand combat against him, Xu Ziling would have to give it all he had to stay alive. At that time, it would be strange indeed if ‘the whole truth was not revealed’.
Fortunately, Shi Qingxuan’s concentrated voice came just in time. Finished listening, he quickly gathered his strength to meet the intense Jian Gang of this senior figure, a martial art master of the demonic school, with equal harshness. Looking up to the sky, he calmly said, “Right now the you [compass point 270º] and shu [no idea, perhaps a typo?] are intersecting. Zuo Xiong’s ‘Zi Wu Gang’ must be intersecting the qi from your heart and your kidney. Watch for the finger!”
When he spoke about intersecting the qi from the heart and the kidney, Zuo Youxian’s countenance immediately changed slightly; the Gang qi weakened by thirty-percent.
The two men shook at the same time.