Book 2 Chapter 1 – The Wily Old Fox
Translated by Foxs
In an instant Xu Ziling’s mind, body and spirit entered into an unprecedented state.
He felt his mental and physical have fused into one entity, which was then transformed into some kind of transcending-the-ordinary surge of energy.
His eyes brightened, as he charged fearlessly into a clump of ten or so thugs head on. He even felt that he could react a tad faster than they were able to move. Plus he could indistinctly feel the angle and the timing of each weapon as it came, as well as the opening in each attack. He felt that could even tell which enemy was strong and which one was weak.
Too bad he did not know how to exploit this fantastic newly-found ability.
The heat stream had started to flow from the sole of his left foot, going up.
The first to arrive was obviously the strongest evil thug, who brandished a big hatchet in his hand from right to left, hacking at Xu Ziling’s face. Before the hatchet arrived, the gust of wind from the hatchet and the whistling noise as the hatchet split the air have already piercing his skin and his ears; with his new-found sensitivity, everything felt as if it was amplified several times.
The ‘Bloody Battle Ten Styles’ that Li Jing taught flashed through his mind like a lightning or a flint spark. Without thinking he launched the move ‘Exposing the Tip of the Fire Beacon’, the treasured saber swept …
‘Ding!’ The hatchet and the saber collided.
Xu Ziling did not expect he really could chop the enemy’s hatchet. While he was overjoyed, the man twisted his hatchet with great force, the treasured saber flew off Xu Ziling’s hand.
Xu Ziling was so scared that he felt his soul flew out of his body; he did not foresee that although he knew exactly the opponent’s follow-up move, but he had no idea how to deal with it. Unexpectedly just one exchange, and he already lost his weapon.
The big hatchet arrived again. Two other enemies also came from his left and right, one using a saber, the other using an iron chain, both were aimed mercilessly toward his body; they did not hold their hands at all just because Xu Ziling was a young kid.
In this critical moment, Xu Ziling saw a gap. Instead of retreating, he lunged forward and rolled on the ground. To his shock, however, he rolled past these two men just to enter the enemy’s encirclement.
As the first three enemies’ attack missed its target, their own momentum carried them two more steps forward before they managed to stop and turn around.
The other men immediately swarmed in. Xu Ziling sprang up, only to see from left, right and center, three directions, sabers flickered and swords flashed. He had no choice but to step backward.
‘Bang!’ His back crashed onto the city wall. Not able to retreat anymore, he dropped down along the wall and fell sitting on the ground.
First of all Xu Ziling remembered Kou Zhong; and then he remembered his Niang, followed by Susu and Li Jing.
While in his heart he was crying out his goodbye, something flashed in front of his eyes.
Someone wearing tall hat, around fifty years of age, with countenance that looked old and clumsy, a bit like a dead person, suddenly dropped from the sky, exactly in between the evil thugs, who were charging wildly, and he. The man even had time to squat down, and showed a warm smile to Xu Ziling, a smile that did not match his weird countenance at all.
Right this moment two sabers, one sword and one chain, because the wielders were not able to hold back, were striking the man’s back. But four men screamed miserably with blood spurting out of their mouth as they were thrown backward, while their weapons were stuck onto this strange man’s back.
The other evil thugs have never seen such a brilliant martial art skill; overwhelmed with shock, they scattered away; but they still managed to maintain their encirclement.
The man patted Xu Ziling’s forehead and helped him to stand up. He even dusted Xu Ziling’s clothes with absolute tenderness and attention.
The four men that were shaken by him were still lying motionless on the ground. It seemed like their condition was not promising at all.
The man showed another glimmer of smile as he spoke in tender voice, “You are Xu Ziling, aren’t you?”
Xu Ziling’s mind went blank; he simply nodded with a blank expression on his face.
One of the evil thugs behind him called out, “Friend, from which ‘way’ are you?”
A hint of grim smile appeared on the corner of the man’s mouth. Because he had his back against those men, only Xu Ziling was able to see this. He suddenly had a nagging feeling in his heart that this man, who seemed to be making his move from a sense of justice, was not a good person at all.
The man reached back and swiped, the weapons stuck on his back were wrapped in his palm, which was wider than average person’s, without any fear of the sharp edges of the sabers and swords. As if nothing had happened, he said, “I am Du Fuwei. When you, gentlemen, see Yan Huang [King Yama, King of Hell], you must not forget it.”
It was as if a thunderbolt echoed in Xu Ziling’s mind, wasn’t Du Fuwei the top leader of Huai River militia, Li Jing’s former master? He had just led his army to take over Liyang, causing everybody to flee for their lives; how did he suddenly appear here, alone? Not only he saved Xu Ziling’s life, he even knew Xu Ziling’s name?
While these thoughts were running wild in his mind, Du Fuwei flew backward in lightning speed, slamming himself onto a man who was standing about a zhang away behind him.
The man immediately spurted blood as he was thrown back violently; his entire body exploded with the sound of bones breaking and flesh splitting.
At this moment the rest of the evil thugs deeply regretted that their mom and dad did not give birth to them with more than two legs as they scattered in all directions for their lives.
Du Fuwei waved his left hand, the four weapons in his hand flew out to the left and separately embedded themselves into four man’s back. His method was frighteningly cruel, but his accuracy really rendered other people speechless.
Xu Ziling thought that if he did not take this opportunity to flee, what was he waiting for? Thereupon he lifted his feet and ran toward the city gate.
Incessant miserable screams followed him from behind.
Du Fuwei’s cruelty in killing his victims broke Xu Ziling’s courage that he did not have the guts to even look back. Very soon he ran into the mass of refugees scrambling against each other to get out of the city. Ducking to the left and squeezed himself to the right, very soon he reached the official road leading out of town.
Right now his only hope was to find Kou Zhong, and then together they would run far, far away, never again to see that Prince of the Devils.
Suddenly Du Fuwei’s frightening voice echoed right next to his ears, “Xiao Xiongdi, your feet are really fast!”
Xu Ziling turned his head around, but after glancing to the left and right, he still did not see Du Fuwei. Suddenly he noticed that all around him people were looking above him with terror-stricken expression on their faces. Xu Ziling came to realize something so scary that his soul flew away and scattered.
Du Fuwei landed behind him and grabbed his back. Five streams of qi entered his body via his back.
At first Xu Ziling lost all his strength, but then the sole of his left foot starting to heat up, followed by the sole of his right foot cooling down; unexpectedly he recovered enough strength to struggle.
“Huh?” Du Fuwei was surprised, and then he sent more true qi into Xu Ziling’s body.
Kou Zhong steered the mule cart into a wooded area by the road. He jumped down the cart.
Susu asked in horror, “Where are you going?”
Kou Zhong came over to Susu. First he looked down to see Li Jing, who was still unconscious and lying in Susu’s bosom, and then he looked up and said seriously, “I believe Xiao Ling’s situation is more dire than good. Right now I am going to go back to avenge him. Jiejie should drive the cart deep into the woods. Wait for Li Dage to wake up, then you can think of a way to escape.”
On an impulse he took all the silver out of his pocket and placed it in the cart before turning around and left, ignoring Susu’s tender call.
He ran back to the main road, and rushed toward the city gate against the flow of people going out of town. Tears constantly poured down his face. His steps were getting faster and faster.
Although all around him people and carts were fighting against each other over their share of the roadway, but to him all of these were not his concern. It was as if he and those people lived in two totally different universes.
Nobody could understand heartfelt and genuine brotherly love between Xu Ziling and him.
Chapter 1, Part 2
You are welcome, Zlacker ... HPC, Janger, Anh, you are welcome too. Jaya, he is still around, at least for the near foreseeable future. I do not see Li Jing and Susu again though. Sky, agree, they were closer than brothers.
The end of Book 2 Chapter 1.
He was just avoiding a cart and was forced to move closer to the side of the road when a hand suddenly appeared from the wooded area, grabbed him, and pulled him inside.
Then his entire body was clasped under someone’s arm; immediately he felt weak all over.
He tried to turn his head around, but was still unable to see what kind of person had captured him. Instead, he saw Xu Ziling’s big head protruding underneath the person’s other arm just like a turtle, repeatedly making eye signals to him, warning him that they were in danger.
‘Bang, bang!’ The two boys were tossed on a grassy ground at the edge of the woods; their heads dizzy from falling down headfirst. Humming and hawing they tried to crawl up.
The two boys looked around, but Du Fuwei was nowhere to be seen. With a shout they fled for their lives.
Suddenly ‘thud!’ Kou Zhong fell down to the ground. Xu Ziling was already more than ten zhang ahead, but he turned around and ran back. It was not until he wanted to lift Kou Zhong up that he realized that Kou Zhong had fainted.
Dejected, Xu Ziling sat on the ground. Du Fuwei’s legs suddenly appeared before his eyes.
Gasping for breath, Xu Ziling asked, “What do you want?”
Du Fuwei said indifferently, “You may leave now!”
Shaken, Xu Ziling looked up. He saw Du Fuwei’s icy-cold expression. “Did you just say I can go now?” he asked in disbelief.
Du Fuwei nodded, “That’s right!” he said, “You may leave now. But only you, alone.”
Xu Ziling was crestfallen. “I would never sell a friend to seek my own glory,” he said.
Du Fuwei squatted and smiled, “Your Jianghu experience is too shallow,” he said, “Just with one test I can tell the relationship between you and Kou Zhong. Great! Now I am going to ask you a question, and you reply with one answer. You must not hesitate at all; otherwise I will crush your good friend’s hands and feet, so that he will be maimed for the rest of his life.”
Xu Ziling was aghast. “What do I am giving you wrong answers have anything to do with him? Don’t you think you are being too unfair?”
With a wooden face Du Fuwei said, “There is no such thing as fairness in the world. Otherwise, there won’t be emperors, there won’t be beggars begging for food. Don’t even think of giving me any random answer. I am going wake Kou Zhong up later, and if your answers do not agree with each other, I will know whether you are babbling nonsense or not. One lie, I am going to dig Kou Zhong’s eyeball out; two lies, it will be your good friend’s hands and feet’s turn.”
Listening to him, Xu Ziling’s entire body went numb. In term of cruelty and heartlessness, the so-called gangsters and villains he met in Yangzhou became kind and benevolent men.
Du Fuwei speculated inwardly, ‘I want to see now if you, this kid, will be disobedient.’
Actually, he felt it was beneath his dignity to kill those evil thugs who pursued Xu Ziling and wanted to kill him; it was only because Du Fuwei wanted Xu Ziling to believe that he was a cruel man that he hardened his heart and bore the pain to kill them.
The fact that Yuwen Huaji hunted down these two kids, and they were rescued by Gaoli demoness [orig. female Luocha (demon in Buddhism)] Fu Junchuo, has caused sensation in Jianghu; especially since this matter involved the treasure trove of Duke Yang, Du Fuwei was very interested. Therefore, when his subordinate spoke about the boys’ appearance, he rushed over personally, just as Xu Ziling and the others, including unconscious Li Jiang, were about to leave town.
Now that he saw Xu Ziling has succumbed under pressure, he was very excited; but outwardly he showed indifference as he asked, “Why did Yuwen Huaji want to catch you?”
After giving Kou Zhong a glance, Xu Ziling dejectedly said, “That must be because of that ghost book!”
Du Fuwei showed off his acting skill; to show that he was not completely ignorant, he carelessly said, “So it’s the ‘Secret to Long Life’ that the tyrant wanted to obtain. Not only that tyrant is bloody and cruel, he is totally ignorant as well! Immortality! What a devious idea!”
In a roundabout way he asked, “So who taught you true qi cultivation?”
Judging from his questions, it was obvious that Du Fuwei was not a simple man at all. His question did not follow any particular sequence; rather, he adopted a surprise-attack technique so that the opponent did not have time to prepare the answer in advance.
Sure enough, Xu Ziling was dumbstruck. Seeing Du Fuwei’s eyes flashed with cold rays, he hurriedly shook his hand and said, “Don’t! I’ll speak! Niang taught me.”
It was Du Fuwei’s turn to be shocked, “Your Niang?”
Xu Ziling knew he could not hide anything from this Prince of the Devils; therefore, he sighed and narrated the course of events concerning their encounter with Fu Junchuo. When he reached the part where Fu Junchuo died, his eyes turned red, he nearly cried. He forgot completely that Du Fuwei was not someone with whom he could bare his soul to.
Who would have thought that Du Fuwei stretched out his hand toward Kou Zhong’s eyes, shook his head and said, “You are lying!”
Xu Ziling was shocked. Calling out to Heaven for the injustice he said, “If I say one empty word, may I die a horrible death.”
Du Fuwei really did not disbelief him, it’s just that he was toying with him to get the most important piece of information. His tone turned gentle as he said, “The true qi within you does not seem to have the least connection with Gaoli’s Yi Jian Dashi [see Book 1 Chapter 3] Fu Cailin’s Nine Mysteries Qi; how could the Luocha woman teach you?”
Xu Ziling breathed a sigh of relief; assuming the ‘oh, so that’s what it is’ attitude, he sighed and said, “Niang only taught us the theory of training, but she did not have time to teach us how to train. Without any clue, we had no choice but looking at the ‘Secret to Long Life’ and train according to the lines indicated by the diagrams. This is the truth; if you don’t believe me, there is nothing I can do.”
Du Fuwei’s eyes lit up, but pretending to be discouraged he said, “This is a really fantastic story, turns out the ‘Secret to Long Life’ is indeed a martial art manual. But even if I obtain it right now, it’s useless. Unless I am willing to disperse my inner power completely. Humph, did the Luocha woman mention anything about the Duke Yang’s treasure-trove? Never mind; even if she did not, it’s not a big deal, I can always dig her body out. I am sure I will find some ‘spider’s thread and horse track’.”
Horrified, Xu Ziling cried out, “How could you do such thing?”
Right this moment, he saw Kou Zhong’s hand twitched a little; apparently he was about to wake up.
Du Fuwei had his back facing Kou Zhong, hence he did not see it. He calmly said, “Why don’t you tell me then? Ay! Buried and at rest, naturally it would be best if we don’t disturb your Niang.”
Xu Ziling hung his head down as he said with a sigh, “I surrender! But you have to let us go. Duke Yang’s treasure-trove is inside the Emperor Guan Temple located at the northern part of Yangzhou. If you move the idol away, you will see the tunnel leading to the hidden treasure. Niang was about to take the treasure out when she came across us. If you don’t believe me, you can wake Kou Zhong up to see if our story matches. You knocked him out for so long, could there be any problem?”
Du Fuwei stared blankly and said, “Yangzhou city? This is certainly unimaginable to present day people. Ha!” Stretching out his finger, he sent out a strong gust of wind, Xu Ziling immediately passed out.
After nobody knows how long, Xu Ziling finally regained his consciousness. He saw Kou Zhong was sitting dejectedly by his side, while Du Fuwei was looking up to the sky, God knows what he was thinking about.
Kou Zhong sighed. “Xiao Ling! Forgive me,” he said, “For your little life’s sake, I had to reveal the secret of the Temple of Emperor Guan.”
“Shut up!” Du Fuwei suddenly snapped, “If I hear three more words from you, I’ll kill you.” And then he straightened up and stood up. “Get up!” he said.
The two boys’ heart was thumping madly in nervousness, since they were unsure if he was going to kill them to shut their mouth.
Du Fuwei’s eyes glittered like frost and snow as he coldly looked at them up and down several times. Only after seeing that the hair on their body stood up did he say gently, “I want you, two little demons, to take me to the ‘Secret to Long Life’ first before I can give you your freedom.”
“Didn’t you say ‘Secret to Long Life’ is useless to you?” Xu Ziling shouted.
Du Fuwei smiled, “There is no harm in looking, is there?” he said, “From now on, I want you two to call me Die [pronounced ‘dee-eh’, Dad, the counterpart of Niang]. Whatever I say, you’ll do it. Understood? Come! Let me hear you call me Die!”
The two boys looked at each other; they both thought that a wise man submits to circumstances [orig. ‘only an outstanding talent can recognize current trends’], helplessly they lowered their level and called him ‘Dad’, while having a feeling of ‘acknowledging a bandit as their father’ [idiom, meaning complete betrayal or selling oneself to the enemy].
But Du Fuwei was greatly pleased; he roared in laughter and said, “Good kids, let your Die take you to a wine shop and have you eat your fill before leaving. Look! The day is breaking soon; before sunrise, we ought to be able to cover a hundred li or so.”