Book 4 Chapter 4 – The Amazing Woman Qingxuan
Ouyang Xiyi took three steps forward, shortening the distance between he and Ba Fenghan by two zhang.
His imposing manner as he stepped, combined with his majestic-as-the-mountain build and his sharp eyes, naturally highlighted his irresistible presence.
A faint smile was still hanging out of the corner of Ba Fenghan’s mouth; he flung his hands, which were originally behind his back, out of the robe, separately grasping the saber handle and the sword hilt, so that nobody knew whether he was going to use saber or sword, or perhaps the combination of saber and sword.
As soon as Ouyang Xiyi stopped, he threw his head backwards and let out a long laugh. Immediately it was as if the entire huge hall was rustling with shudder.
‘Qiang!’ Ba Fenghan pulled the saber in his right hand out a little, instantly it produced a whiff of unparalleled fierce saber qi, opposing Ouyang Xiyi’s overwhelming aura.
Right this instant, Ba Fenghan’s saber left its scabbard, almost like a rainbow as he took the initiative to attack.
At the same instant, Ouyang Xiyi also pulled his sword to attack.
Two streams of formless, noiseless sword qi and saber qi, just before the sword and saber made contact, the two weapons wound around each other before they finally collided. It was only then did a genuinely good and hard ringing noise reverberated across the hall.
Ba Fenghan suddenly floated backward, and stood holding his saber across in front of his body.
He still looked calm and at ease as before, there was even a smile on his face, giving the impression that he was not inferior in any respect to this bold and powerful senior martial art master’s tiger-like body as he stood steadily. Hence other people could not possibly think that he was being pushed back by the opponent.
Ouyang Xiyi was standing motionless, still as imposing as before, but the upper part of his body swayed occasionally, while there was a disbelief look on his eyes.
None of the guests was not emotionally shaken. Nobody would ever imagined that this twenty something Ba Fenghan was able to take Ouyang Xiyi’s overwhelming strength head-on.
Under the stare of the guests, Ba Fenghan threw his head backwards and let out a long laugh, “Good sword! I never expected that I, Ba Fenghan, have just stepped into the Central Plains, and already met a martial art expert. Thank you for the advice!”
As soon as his voice fell, unexpectedly he took the initiative again to attack.
Wang Shichong and Wang Tong exchanged glances; not only they could see the astonishment in each other’s heart, they could also see the murderous intention growing in each other’s mind.
If they did not get rid of this kid, he might grow into another Bi Xuan.
Ouyang Xiyi also had the same thought as they did. He was even clearer that Ba Fenghan would be Tujue’s most powerful figure after Bi Xuan. At this age he had already reached such an unfathomable level or martial art skill. Plus from the way he treated the guards, he knew that this kid’s character was ruthless. If this kind of man committed evil, the disaster he created would be greater.
Once he made up his mind, his hand moved. Ouyang Xiyi let out a cold snort; his sword met the opponent’s saber hack sweeping toward his left flank.
This sword movement seemed average, nothing special about it, but it was actually the essence of Ouyang Xiyi’s whole-life training; it had reached the ‘something-rotten-turns-into-something-magical’ level, a ‘great-skill-looks-clumsy’ state. Even if ‘Wu Zun’ Bi Xuan himself came, he would not dare to underestimate this move.
Ouyang Xiyi’s ‘chen sha jianfa’ [sinking sand sword technique] focused on overwhelming power, with a set of rigid movements; victory and defeat would be decided in just a few strokes. This moment he fought with killing intention, his movement differed from when he was just testing the water earlier.
Ba Fenghan’s eyes gleamed with flashing rays, his steps followed some kind of fantastic footwork, only he kept a distance of about a zhang from his opponent, making the spectators felt that he was not going to go for a direct attack, but constantly changing the angle and direction of this attack, yet it also felt as if he was going to advance in a straight line.
If this kind of hard-to-describe feeling has caused headache to spectators, its effect on the opponent who was directly in front of him would not be difficult to imagine.
For the first time the beauty in white who came with Ba Fenghan showed signs that she was paying attention; her entire being seemed to be absorbed in the fight between the two martial art masters.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were watching with great delight; they gained full understanding of the fight. They came to realization that footwork actually had this kind of wonderful usage.
Ouyang Xiyi let out a sudden roar, fast as lightning he moved across, unexpectedly he moved toward Ba Fenghan’s long saber that was protecting his chest. Neither meeting the saber nor evading backward, he positioned himself about a zhang to the left of his opponent.
Nobody understood why he, who had always been meeting the enemy’s attack head-on, would suddenly employ this kind of strategy. Only martial art masters like Wang Tong, Wang Shichong, Shan Wanjing and the others realized that Ouyang Xiyi was unable to see through the opponent’s footwork, hence he did not dare to advance prematurely, such that needless to say, the spectators were horrified and depressed.
However, his avoidance was actually very logical; because he was occupying the position where the opponent’s saber potential was the weakest. Therefore, he actually did not fall into disadvantageous position at all.
“Good!” Ba Fenghan shouted. Unexpectedly he also withdrew abruptly.
Qi and mind working together, the single sword in Ouyang Xiyi’s hand suddenly turned into sword shadows like stormy sea, as he entered the ‘pursue and attack’ mode like the great river pouring down in torrents.
However, Ba Fenghan seemed to be already anticipating this move. He remained calm like a deep pool with no wind, no waves; his handsome face remain as still as water as he swiftly withdrew about a zhang backwards, and once again charged forward with the saber blocking horizontally.
His retreat and advance was like natural tidal wave; in fact, his entire body resembled nature itself, giving others an indescribable strange feeling.
Wang Tong and the others could no longer conceal the horrified expression on their face.
Ever since Ba Fenghan stepped into the hall, they had already sensed that this kid was not an ordinary person; however, even in their dream they would never imagine that he was this formidable.
‘Dang! Dang! Dang!’ In lightning-fast, flashing-sparks speed, the two combatants exchanged three strikes.
Saber ray radiated all around, sword qi filled the air. Sword sharpness and saber power shrouded an area around three zhang in diameter. Those who stood on the perimeter subconsciously were trying to move back as far away as possible from hair-raising battlefield.
Ba Fenghan suddenly narrowed his line of defense, he only tightly guard a narrow space in front of him. Under Ouyang Xiyi’s stormy-sea, high-waves like attack, wide-open and tightly-closed sword shadows, he moved around like ghost relying on his bizarre footwork.
At a glance he seemed to be falling into a disadvantageous situation, but Wang Tong and the others knew that it was the most ingenious tactic to deal with Ouyang Xiyi.
It should be noted that in order to stay on top of the game by launching continuous attack required a considerable true qi. Supposing Ba Fenghan was able to prolong the current situation, the time when Ouyang Xiyi exhausting his strength would be the moment Ba Fenghan launch a counterattack.
Of course, Ouyang Xiyi had amassed his power for over seventy years, his qi and arteries and veins were long lasting; it was possible that even before Ba Fenghan reached that moment, he would breathe his last first. However, looking at the way he was advancing and retreating right now, nobody would dare to say that Ouyang Xiyi would be able to slaughter him in the next two or three styles.
Wang Tong and Wang Shichong rose up from their seats, but they had to restrain themselves from intervening.
This moment Ouyang Xiyi had other thought. ‘Shua! Shua! Shua!’ successively his sword slashed three times; each slash came from different angle, the power behind the sword varied, sometimes it was light, sometimes it was heavy, so that it would be difficult for the recipient of these attack to get a feel of where the sword edge would be. Yet Ba Fenghan’s long saber obviously moved swiftly, one after another he neutralized the attack. Plus the saber momentum broadened abruptly; now he took a little bit of initiative in offense, while maintaining the level of his power.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling took a furtive look at Shan Wanjing across the hall; they noticed that her beautiful eyes were open wide without blinking as she was looking dreamily at Ba Fenghan, whose prowess was god-like, and seemed to completely forget about the two boys. Shang Ming and the others, with astonished look on their face, had their attention fixed at the hard fighting in the arena.
If they did not leave now, what were they waiting for?
Despite somewhat reluctant to leave the battle, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling thought their little lives were more important; they squeezed themselves step by step toward the gate.
The people that they squeezed into did not seem to feel anything; they simply automatically moved aside a little bit to let them pass, while their eyes were still fixed on the battle.
As with great difficulty they finally reached the overcrowded gate, the sound of flute [xiao] suddenly arose.
The two boys’ curiosity was greatly aroused; in this kind of situation who had the mood to leisurely play the flute? They could not help but focusing their attention to listen.
The flute sounded extremely wonderful, the transitions between phrases varied, but it always fell in between the clashing sound of saber and sword; it appeared present, it appeared hidden, yet it lingered on with every note undefined as if it was casually weaved into the tune as an improvisation. What was more unbelievable was that the tune seemed to blend perfectly with the humming sound of clashing of saber and sword. Note by note breathed question, twists and turns interspersed between phrases, water and milk blended within the flute sound. Even if there were disconnections, the listeners had the feeling that it would continue endlessly, until-death-put-an-end kind of lingering feeling. The flute technique was refined-by-fire quality, with transformation that was pounded-with-a-pestle-until-it-reaches-beacon-fire perfection.
The flute sound sometimes carried a lofty fervor, sometimes a gloomy hidden bitterness. So high that it reached the endless sky, so low that it reached bottomless pit. Momentarily the listeners were stunned in silence.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were entranced as if their souls were hooked by the flute; for the first time in their life they felt that music could have the charm that was more touching than spoken words, unexpectedly they forgot to escape.
Chapter 4, Part 2
Xanius, Bocah, Ysabel, Jaya, HPC, DongBin, Anh, Critical, you are welcome. Sky, nope ... sorry ... Adrian, Zlack, Lawwoo, thanks for your response. Guys, it was not my intention to fish for compliment. As some of you who have been reading my translation work in the past, my speed is not a function of your post. However, over the years, I have noticed some translators who did not get enough response from the readers. I just want to encourage you to let us, the translators, know that someone out there is reading our work. That's all. Anyway, here is the end of Chapter 4. Sorry for the delay in posting this, I was extremely busy that I did not have time to access spcnet earlier.
The murderous aura of the two combatants in the arena diminished greatly. After a feint move, the two men moved back, and just stood respectfully to listen to the music.
For the first time the woman in white’s frosty jade countenance revealed a subtle sign that her mind was shaken, as if she was somewhat affected by the music.
The flute sound seemed to be intermittent, yet continue to change, and linger endlessly. But it turned soft and quiet; although it continue to dominate every cun of hall, where no sound of breathing was heard, yet it also sounded hard to fathom as if it came from a far away place. The musical composition that could intoxicate people’s heart continued to murmur quietly like a succession of the sounds of nature in some mysterious lonely place between the heaven and the earth, evoking pain and pleasure hidden deep within everybody’s heart, which welling up and unbearably turning back to hurt their emotion, like a song, but also like a sigh.
The flute sound changed again. This time it carried some kind of restrained passion that bloomed through bright, shining notes, as if gently and tenderly telling the story inside everybody’s heart.
And then it stopped abruptly.
Nobody in the hall was able to utter any word.
Wang Tong had already forgotten all about Ba Fenghan, the murderous intention in his heart has completely vanished. Facing upward, he sighed sadly, and then in desolate voice said, “It’s finished! It’s finished! After listening to Miss Shi’s tune, I am afraid henceforth it would be difficult to hear an even finer sound. Miss’ flute skill not only reaches the full potential of what your Niang taught you, it also surpasses the source [orig, ‘blue surpasses the green’]. Wang Tong hereby salutes you.”
It was only now that everybody knew that there was a profound relationship between Wang Tong and Shi Qingxuan. Also, seeing how when he mentioned Shi Qingxuan’s mother his eyes were glistening with tears, they conjectured that there was a case of unrequited love here.
Ouyang Xiyi’s eyes, which radiated sharp power, also grew softer and gentler as he raised his voice, “Since Qingxuan’s immortal self is already here, why not come in to let Bobo [paternal uncle, older than one’s father] see how much you have grown to resemble Xiuxin.”
Everybody was astounded; only then did they realize that the reason they did not see this well-known but mysterious beauty was because it was only a moment ago that she honored them with her presence, right in time to dissolve a fierce fighting with her peerless flute skill.
In loud and clear voice Ba Fenghan said, “If I can see Miss’ beautiful face, I, Ba Fenghan, will die without any regret.”
By this time his reputation has increased many times over, nobody dared to blame him for speaking conceited nonsense.
There was a gentle sigh coming from the eaves, and then a sweet, clear and soft female voice that no one can describe entered the hall, “Meeting in person is as if not meeting at all. Qingxuan received Niang’s last wish to come with a specific purpose in mind to play a tune for two noble Uncles [bo – older than one’s father]. Since this matter is accomplished, Qingxuan is leaving.”
The people in the hall immediately broke into an uproar, they all urged her to stay.
Shadows flashed to the door, Ba Fenghan and the woman in white disappeared together.
The hall remained extremely chaotic.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling came to their senses; hastily they lifted their feet and slipped out of the door and disappeared into the deserted street.
It could be said that Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had become experts in escaping; taking advantage of the commotion, they swiftly left the mansion, but did not go far at all. They simply went hiding in firewood shed at the backyard of another big house nearby, congratulating each other on their luck.
The two boys lay comfortably on a pile of straw, both felt that their trip to the mansion this time was not in vain.
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Although the evil Princess found out that we are still in the world of the living, but we were able to watch the martial art match between that Fengshi Han and old fellow Ouyang. We also got to hear the flute skill of Jianghu’s amazing woman. It was really worth it.”
Xu Ziling spoke with envy, “That Fengshi Han is only several years older than we are, but his skill is really strong; I wonder when will we be like him?”
Kou Zhong let out a cold snort and said, “That fellow can’t be considered a good man, and he seemed to be very good at seducing women. Those women whom he cast a glance to, they seemed to lose their soul and drop their spirit. I think even your Princess has her soul hooked by him too!”
Xu Ziling sneered and said, “What your Princess my Princess? Only ghost would like that kind of woman who considers everyone else is beneath her. I don’t care if she is a stinky fart princess.”
Kou Zhong sat up and raised his thumb. “You got guts!” he praised, “Ha! Even I seem to have forgotten my Xiuning Meimei too!”
Xu Ziling swayed his head, “Turns out to poise for battle we must put emphasis on imposing manner. My Niang! How do we build up imposing manner? We can’t do that by simply being vicious or flaring out our hatred. If we can face the enemy while chatting and laughing, now that will be the first-class principle.”
Kou Zhong pondered for half a day, and then seriously said, “That must be the effect of spirit and internal energy merging together in harmony. Indeed stronger and weaker can be seen right away; this is something that cannot be forced.”
After a short pause, he continued, “Do you think that Fengshi Han can catch up with Shi Qingxuan? If she is seduced by him, we won’t have any chance.”
Xu Ziling frowned and said, “Can you save what little spirit you have not to indulge in wishful thinking? Is Li Xiuning lesson not hard enough for you?”
Embarrassed, Kou Zhong lay back down on the straw. Closing his eyes, he heaved a deep sigh and then dejectedly said, “Very well! First thing tomorrow morning we’ll set out to Xingyang to find Susu Jiejie; I will no longer think about anything else.”
Xu Ziling suddenly said, “What do you say, based on our qinggong, will we be able to jump over the city wall?”
Kou Zhong was jolted awake, “Are you afraid that government official already recognized us?” he asked.
“Outstanding people like us?” Xu Ziling said, “Ha! We are actually very easy to recognize. If you were him, what would you do?”
Kou Zhong’s countenance changed, “Naturally he would inform Yuwen Huagu.”
Xu Ziling said, “If we travel far just like this, my main concern is that he would catch us himself. Just by looking at his eyesight and listening to him commanding that low hand Chen Dangjia to back off, I know that compared to us, he knows more than a thing or two. Therefore, the one I am afraid of right now is him, not the smelly fart Princess.”
“What should we do then?” Kou Zhong asked.
Xu Ziling smiled wryly and said, “I was just thinking of asking you the same question, yet you still have the face to ask me?”
Kou Zhong racked his brains, and then he slapped his forehead and said, “We only need to hide in here and do not go out of this woodshed for three days, only go out to steal food and drink in the deep of the night, and then after everybody thinks that we have gone far away, we can set out on our journey. Don’t you think this brilliant idea is not brilliant enough?”
Xu Ziling forced himself to exclaim, “Good! Just let us hide in here, training our skill for three his mother’s days. Based on what we experienced these past few days, we’ll master the subject by comprehensive study of what we saw and heard. If we succeed, then we won’t have to desperately run around every time anybody came to kill us.”
Kou Zhong said, “But even after resolving this problem, we still have another problem. That is, after helping Susu Jiejie settling down, will we go to Yangzhou to submit our accusation on Yuwen Huagu to the old Emperor, or are we going to the Eastern Capital and try our luck on the Jade Annulus of He Clan, or go to the Capital to retrieve the Duke Yang Hidden Treasure?”
“What do you think?” Xu Ziling asked in return.
“Do you think I am asking you simply out of respect toward you?” Kou Zhong said.
Xu Ziling crossly said, “If you ask me, then I’ll say that avenging Niang is the most important thing.”
Kou Zhong was upset, “Didn’t I say the same thing?” he said, “Let’s just go to Jiangdu first, alright?”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “I actually made you lose your temper. Alright! Just consider it I misunderstood you.”
In the dark, Kou Zhong was silent for half a day. Finally he said, “You are my good brother, the only family I have in this world. No matter what you say to me, I will not lose my temper to you.”
Kou Zhong sat up again. Holding his head in his hands he pondered for a short moment, and then he nodded and said, “You are always more adaptable than me, it is easier for you to feel content, while I always want more. Ay! Living our live, if we don’t achieve anything, how dull will that live be?”
“I absolutely agree with what you said,” Xu Ziling replied, “Honestly, it’s just in terms of girls that I do not have as much interest as you do; only in the case that I met someone who can make me unable to restrain my emotions, otherwise my heart won’t be moved so easily. But if I really like her, I will not change forever; I definitely will not have ‘three hearts two intentions’ [i.e. indecisiveness].”
Hugging his knees, Kou Zhong buried his head between his legs. He mumbled, “Do you think it is so easy for me to fall in love with different girl? Like Li Xiuning, evil Princess, even our beautiful Shifu, and that b1tch Shen Luoyan, I always thought that they are not bad at all. But I know that I won’t fall in love with any of those women. When all is said and done, am I more passionate than you, or am I more heartless than you?” [Translator’s note: although I am a bit hesitant to translate ‘poniang’ as b1itch, I can see that this is a recurring term, hence I decided to just use ‘b1tch’ for lack of better term.]
It was quite a while later than Xu Ziling finally responded unenthusiastically, “I think because girls are not your ultimate goal at all, at least I feel that you, Zhong Shao, are a natural born leader, what you like the most is to stick out your head to be in charge, plus I also like it that way very much. Ay! It’s late! I want to practice.”
Listening to the sound of Xu Ziling breathing evenly, Kou Zhong could not help replaying each stance each style of the fierce fighting between Ba Fenghan and Ouyang Xiyi. For a short while his mind was entranced, and completely oblivious to the loss of time.
By the time Xu Ziling woke up, the sky was already bright.
 Fengshi Han – From ‘Ba Fenghan’, feng means ‘point/tip/edge of a tool/weapon’, han means ‘cold’, Fengshi (different ‘feng’ character) means ‘rheumatism’, same ‘han’ character.