Book 2 Chapter 12 – Faking Death to Escape
Although Dugu Ce was conceited, yet he admired Du Fuwei’s prestige.
If he could not even take ten moves from Du Fuwei, it could be said that his side would definitely lose. Therefore, this proposal was definitely beneficial to them.
However, he was also aware that Du Fuwei was afraid they would destroy indiscriminately [orig. burn both jade and ordinary stone] and kill the two boys first. If that happened, even if Du Fuwei killed them all, he would still fail to achieve his goal.
After exchanging several glances with Yun Yuzhen, he stepped out of the formation, cupped his fist and said, “Du Zongguan, please.”
Because nowadays Du Fuwei considered himself the Zongguan [chief manager, see Book 1 Chapter 1] of Liyang, everybody called him Du Zongguan.
Du Fuwei still had his hands behind his back; he smiled and said, “The number of people in Jianghu who wield sword is beyond counting, but those who really know how to use sword can be counted with my fingers; the most notable being the Dugu and Song, two powerful clans. Right now Song Clan is too busy dealing with the muddle-headed ruler. If I am not mistaken, concealed within Xiongtai’s [brother, polite appellation for someone of similar age] footsteps is lightness skill from superb school, which originated from Dugu Clan’s top ranking consummate skill, ‘Bi Luo Hongzhen’ [sky-blue falling word of mortals]. Is Ol’ Du mistaken?”
Everybody from Yun Yuzhen’s side was shaken; nobody expected that Du Fuwei’s vision was this brilliant.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were cheering in their heart; they really wish their Ol’ Dad would give this ‘vile’ Dugu Ce a hard lesson, while dealing a heavy setback to Yun Yuzhen as well.
Dugu Ce calmly replied, “Senior’s eyesight is indeed brilliant, Junior is precisely Dugu Ce, who rely on several moves based on my father Dugu Feng’s direction. Would Senior please enlighten me?”
Du Fuwei laughed aloud and said, “Turns out it is indeed an old friend’s descendant. I wonder if Laotaitai’s [elderly lady] asthma is getting better?”
An angry look flashed across Dugu Ce’s handsome face; he responded, “Laonainai [(paternal) great-grandmother, but in this case I think it is simply ‘old (paternal) grandmother’] is well. Thank you very much for Du Zongguan’s concern.”
Actually, although the leader of Dugu Clan was Dugu Ce’s father, Dugu Feng, speaking about martial art skill, it was Dugu Feng’s mother, You Chuhong, who held the first place [orig. sitting steadily on number one chair].
You Chuhong was nearly a hundred years old. At the age of sixty she abandoned the sword and used a staff instead. During the creation of the ‘Pifeng Zhang Fa’ [Cloak/cape Staff Technique], she nearly suffered fire deviation. Although luckily she was able to save herself in time, the after effect remained; from time to time it flared up in asthma-like symptoms. That was the reason of Du Fuwei’s question.
Du Fuwei’s intention was to infuriate Dugu Ce; having achieved his purpose, he roared, “I want to see if there is anything new in Dugu Family’s ‘Bi Luo Hongzhen’.”
Both sides were holding their breath in silence, waiting for Dugu Ce to make his move.
‘Ring!’ the sword left its scabbard.
Dugu Ce held the sword horizontally across his chest, He stood motionless, yet his imposing aura was suffocating. It was indeed the demeanor of a famous house.
Kou Zhong, who was standing at the edge of the cliff, whispered in Xu Ziling’s ear, “The opportunity to learn has come!”
Xu Ziling nodded excitedly.
The one thing they lacked the most was real combat experience. If they could watch martial art experts poised for battle, it would definitely bring great benefits to them.
Dugu Ce coldly shouted, “Pardon my offense!” as he swiftly stepped forward and moved his sword to attack. A dense cold air immediately filled the air.
They saw layer upon layer of sword shadows rushing forth in front of his chest, the moves were tricky, strange and tight, it appeared to attack, but seemed to defend, so that the opponent was completely unable to estimate.
Du Fuwei showed a grim expression. With a feign sway, he suddenly moved to Dugu Ce’s left side. Dugu Ce’s body followed the movement of his sword. He let out a muffled shout, thousands of sword tips rushed forth like raging tide or gigantic wave toward Du Fuwei. Unexpectedly it was an offense without any regard of self-defense.
Du Fuwei laughed aloud, his right hand sleeve flew out. ‘Bang!’ it swept around the perimeter of the shadow of swords. Qi and sword force collided, emitting another muffled-thunder-like noise, making those to hear it to feel as if they were assaulted by a shockwave.
Dugu Ce was jolted back half a step as if he was struck by a lightning bolt. Both of Du Fuwei’s sleeves flew together, seizing the opportunity to pursue and attack, while his body flashed toward the other side to launch another attack; he was as fast as a ghost.
Now everybody knew that Dugu Ce’s internal energy was inferior to Du Fuwei; but nobody could tell whether he would or he would not be able to take ten moves. Besides, the ‘universe’ inside Du Fuwei’s sleeves have yet played their part.
Dugu Ce’s treasured sword swiftly slashed up from the lower part of his side toward Du Fuwei’s face, totally ignoring the opponent’s two sleeves. It was another both-side-suffer move.
Watching the fight, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling gained tacit understanding; they completely grasped the concept of Dugu Ce’s sword technique and strategy.
It must be noted that with his status as the Senior [qian bei, older generation], if he was injured by a younger generation, even if he was able to kill the opponent, it would be hard for him to claim shameless victory. But under the opponent’s relentless offense without any regard of defense like this, to gain victory without being hurt under ten moves was certainly easier said than done.
Seeing how Dugu Ce had full control of his sword’s position and was able to change according to the situation, and how he was able to distribute his power evenly, and thus showing his profound mastery, Du Fuwei exclaimed, “Good!”
His sleeves suddenly folded up to clamp the sword blade on both sides; in an instant he has grasped the initiative, rendering the opponent unable to continue his strike. Dugu Ce’s incomparably fast and fierce sword was suddenly unable to advance even a cun.
Dugu Ce knew the situation was bad. Just as he was thinking of pulling his sword in abrupt retreat, Du Fuwei’s right hand, which was still hidden inside his sleeve, suddenly flicked the tip of his sword. Dugu Ce felt as if the pit of his stomach was struck by lightning, he nearly vomited blood. Fortunately he had trained first-class internal energy cultivation since childhood, his foundation was very strong; swiftly he channeled his true qi to disperse the opponent’s force with difficulty. But in the process he was jolted two steps back; one step and a half farther than the previous setback.
Yun Yuzhen and the others were all shocked; their countenance paled.
The arm guards inside Du Fuwei’s sleeves have not been used, Dugu Ce already fell into a disadvantageous position; how could the battle continue?
To their surprise, however, Du Fuwei did not continue with ‘pursue and attack’; he put his hands behind his back again and said with a cold laugh, “If Dugu Feng himself were here, he might have a chance in an all-out battle with me, but you, noble nephew, fall far too short. There are still eight moves left. If noble nephew is trying to be brave and continue fighting, Ol’ Du can guarantee that you will find it difficult to guarantee your life. Noble nephew better think it over three times.”
Dugu Ce’s chest was heaving up and down incessantly, the color on his handsome face alternated between red and white. Now he knew that there is no famous reputation with empty skill. Du Fuwei has been moving across the land under the heavens unhindered for the last several decades; he was on par with top martial art masters of the four powerful clans, as well as other experts such as Zhai Rang, Li Mi, Dou Jiande, Wang Bo, and the like. He had real skill and definitely did not enjoy false reputation. However, if Dugu Ce had to concede at this point, he simply could not accept it, no matter what.
Yun Yuzhen’s face was devoid of any color; she hurried forward and saluted, “Junior accepts your advice. Du Zongguan may take the two boys away, On behalf of Jukun Bang, Yuzhen assures you that we won’t interfere in this matter anymore.”
Du Fuwei remained impassive; turning his gaze toward Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, two people, he said in soft voice, “Children! Let’s go home!”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling burst into loud laughter together; their laughter carried a heroic feeling.
Xu Ziling loudly cried out, “Heroes can be killed but never humiliated. How could we, the Two Dragons of Yangzhou, be traded back and forth like merchandise?”
With an air of righteousness, Kou Zhong also said, “Die! Please forgive your sons for not being filial.”
“Don’t!” Yun Yuzhen and Du Fuwei shouted together.
The two boys did not hesitate at all. Just as Yun Yuzhen and Du Fuwei rushed forward, they jumped over the cliff.
Yun Yuzhen and Du Fuwei reached out trying to catch them, but both grabbed empty air. They saw the two boys’ figure rapidly getting smaller and smaller. Judging from the speed and the momentum with which the two boys were falling, they knew that these boys did not know qinggong. In fact, the posture as the boys fell was poles apart from conventional qinggong that Yun Yuzhen and Du Fuwei knew; naturally they could not grasp the truth of the matter.
‘Splash!’ Holding each other’s hand, the two boys fell through and broke the branch of an old tree extended from the cliff wall. Branches and leaves split up and closed down after them, and they disappeared from Du and Yun, two people’s line of sight.
Du Fuwei looked up to heaven and let out a sorrowful roar, revealing regret and grief so deep that other people found it hard to express or explain!
Yun Yuzhen was as dumb as a wooden chicken; she stared blankly toward the bottom of the cliff, while grieving silently. She thought that if she did not try to exploit them, right now the two boys would still live and play happily at that quiet beach. It was only then did she realize that she actually had some feelings toward them.
Du Fuwei suddenly turned his body around, as if he could not bear to look down anymore. “All of you must accompany them in death!” he coldly hissed.
Yun Yuzhen came to her senses; she quickly stepped back into her troop formation.
The men on Du Fuwei’s side swarmed in, forcing them toward the edge of the clff.
Suddenly from the bottom of the cliff came the sound of howling wolves. Du Fuwei’s countenance changed as he said, “Forget it! Get lost!”
Finished speaking, he jumped onto the edge of the cliff to look down.
At this moment Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had successfully landed in the jungle; without fighting, the four bottles of chicken blood broke, splashing chicken blood everywhere, some brushed onto the branches and leaves, some fell into the bushes.
The two boys cried out for their Niang in pain, but they knew it was a critical moment. Crawling and rolling, they randomly picked a direction to take and madly rushed toward that direction, creating a strip of ‘bloody path’. Even when their weapons, money purse, and everything else fell from their pockets, they did not have time to pick it up.
Since they fell down but did not die, naturally other people could also go down and see if they were dead or alive.
Suddenly there was a loud howl of a wolf; the two boys lost their soul and dropped their spirit. They scuttled away and used the Bird Crossing Technique to jump onto a tree.
Several hungry and very fierce wolves appeared, ferociously sniffing the chicken blood on the ground. Kou Zhong cried out and jumped onto another tree. Xu Ziling followed behind. Shortly afterward they have gone quite far.
In the meantime, Du Fuwei has arrived at the bottom of the cliff. Seeing several dozens wolves chasing and beating around the bloodstained bushes, his anger flared. He pounced forward and grabbed some hapless hungry wolves.
This could also be considered the two boys’ good luck. If not for this flock of ravenous wolves fighting with each other over the bloodstain attracting Du Fuwei’s attention, the noise the two boys made as they were running away would surely fail to escape the ears of this top martial art master of the Wulin world.
By nightfall, the two boys have covered over fifty li, and were extremely exhausted. When they found a clear creek nearby, they washed their chicken-blood stained clothes.
As the moon rose, the two boys immersed themselves in the creek, and could not help thinking about the good old days when they met Fu Junchuo for the first time; it was so surreal that they thought it was a dream.
“What is this place?” Xu Ziling asked.
Kou Zhong thought for a moment before replying, “We were traveling west along Huai River, and then turned around and disembarked on the northern bank. Right now we ought to be between Pengcheng and Donghai, two counties. Ha! Did you remember that Yun woman [poniang (derogatory)] said that these days Shanmei Xianren Madame Dong Ming might come to Pengcheng to see Li Yuan, the Clan Leader of the Li Clan? If you want to marry beautiful Dong Ming little princess, we should go to Pengcheng.”
Because this kid had his heart filled with lofty aspirations, he made a serious effort in studying Central Plains’ geography.
Xu Ziling dove into the bottom of the creek. It was quite a while before his head emerged above the water. “”You haven’t had enough?” he said, “Right now everybody thinks we are dead, wouldn’t it be better to go to Old Zhai’s residence first to find Su Jie, and see if Li Dage condition is better?”
Kou Zhong sneered and said, “You, this kid, really don’t have aspiration; aren’t we going to avenge Niang? If we go find Yuwen Huagu openly right now, we will only incur laughter from his foul mouth. But mountain people have wonderful idea to kill Yuwen Huagu.” [This is the second time he called himself ‘mountain people’. Must be a slang of some sort.]
“What wonderful idea?” Xu Ziling wondered.
The all-knowing Kou Zhong replied, “Naturally that account book. Perhaps Yuwen Clan also placed an order for weapons from Dong Ming Pai, with intention to rebel. Otherwise, he would not order Haisha Bang to attack Floating Fragrance Flagship. Isn’t it clear that he wanted to destroy the evidence that he is going to revolt?”
Xu Ziling’s eyes immediately lit up.
Kou Zhong lowered his voice, “Come! Let’s have a competition.”
Xu Ziling was stunned, “Competing in what?” he asked.
Kou Zhong replied, “Competing who get to wear our wet clothes first, and then competing whose qinggong is a bit better, by deciding who’s going to step into Pengcheng first.”
The two boys looked at each other, and then with a scream they scrambled toward their wet clothes by the creek.
With many twists and turns, these good friends who were closer than brothers, finally gain their freedom back. Once again they set their foot in another stage of life’s journey.