Chapter 33: One move
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Marshal Yang was so old that he had no need to further his comprehension of the mortal world and stood aloof. He had come to the Western Region from the Central Plains many years ago to live as a hermit. He was caught in a state of grievance that he could not rid himself of.
His younger brother, Yang Zheng, died under the narrow blade, and his close friends, the Gu family, were murdered brutally. He had to avenge them.
He had learned his skills from the Gu family and now it was the time to repay them.
He took a long time to look for aides. Unfortunately, no one in the Western Region wanted to rebel against the Supreme King. As a result, he had to challenge the Supreme King alone with a single blade and lance, otherwise, the last of his strength would be wasted while he just waited.
It was only because he threatened to wreak havoc in Jade City that the monks of the Four Truths Temple finally agreed to walk him to the peak, and only so far, for this saved them from the carnage, but they still would not enter Golden Roc Fort. He arrived at the gate of the fort and waited quite a while but still could not see the Supreme King. What awaited him was a team of assassins in black and some ignorant teenagers who stayed away.
"How many killers like you do I have to kill to meet the Supreme King?"
Marshal Yang asked. He sounded old and exhausted, which made this query not so arrogant or disparaging.
"You have no right to meet Lord King." The killer, Ye Sheng, answered with contempt on his face and a narrow knife in his hand. He treated all the so-called martial artists this way.
"Is that it? Or is it just that you don't have the right to answer my question?" Martial Yang was also aggressive. Despite the words he used, his voice was faint and weak. It sounded like a cowish old man reciting another's words.
Before he had finished speaking, they both moved. Martial Yang only wanted to shift Ye Sheng's attention, regardless of his reaction.
Contrary to his old voice, Martial Yang was quick. When they met in the air, the distant teenagers could not figure out who had made the first move. Some onlookers even saw nothing before the battle was over.
The superiors always fought rapidly, Gu Shenwei already knew. But it was so quick that before he started to worry about Martial Yang, the old man had retreated to his original position. He coughed for a while, seeming too weak to attack twice.
Ye Sheng held his narrow knife in his right hand, half-brandished it and stopped near the scalp of Martial Yang. The gesture of his left hand was strange as well. It did not look like a fist or a palm. He might have been wanting to eject something from it, but changed his idea and did not retreat in time.
The battle scene was not at all intense. The teenagers looked at each other speechlessly, hoping someone could answer. "Did they fight? Who was the winner?"
The answer was revealed momentarily—Ye Sheng fell down loudly, with the same gesture he had held when he first moved. Apparently, he was already dead.
An old man had defeated a Golden Roc killer bare-handed with one move. The pupils' confidence was broken and now they were no longer excited. Shangguan Fei whispered, "Idiot, why not fight with the others?"
Shangguan Ru frowned as she looked at Shangguan Yushi, who could usually answer her questions. This time, she was disappointed because her cousin also seemed confused.
The teenagers grew up with the legends of their killers. It was hard for them to accept that a killer would be killed at the first blow.
As the others were frustrated, Gu Shenwei was almost choked up with emotion. He was eager to stand out and to speak to everyone proudly: "Look, that was my family's unique skill—Yin and Yang Strength."
Though he did not see it clearly before, now he had figured it out. Martial Yang must have learned Yin and Yang Strength, and he was quite proficient at it.
Gu Lun once told his son about the traits of the family's inherited Internal Strength—Normally, an internal strength was either hard, which made the opponent incapable of bearing it and forced them to retreat; or soft, which injured the enemy invisibly such that the enemy would only sense it after a long time. However, Yin and Yang Strength was both hard and soft. One could not learn it quickly, but it embodied many traits of other schools, for the Yang Strength could kill the enemy at once, while the Yin Strength could defuse the rebounding strength, meaning that if the enemy stood, he would be hurt more seriously.
Gu Lun demonstrated its function by attacking a stump. When he attacked the stump with Yang Strength, the stump was crushed and the fragments flew off; and when he did that with Yang Strength, the stump did not move at all, yet after Gu Lun cut it open, all of its veins were broken. When he used both strengths, the stump was smashed but all of the fragments dropped to the ground instead of flying off.
Gu Shenwei thought it was just for fun at that time. He had applauded and exclaimed and took it for granted. When he thought of that now, he was both grieved and proud because this was the forceful Yin and Yang Strength of the Gu family!
If this had been a formal competition, the Golden Roc killer could not have beaten Martial Yang. Gu Shenwei had already memorized the entire strength manual. Sooner or later, he would become as powerful as Martial Yang.
The assassins in black at the front remained nonchalant. They were not pupils and had seen death countless times and would not be affected by Ye Sheng's death so easily. Another three killers stepped forward and pulled out their narrow knives, approaching their enemy from three directions.
Martial Yang did not even glance at them. He pivoted back and grabbed the single blade on the weapon rack. He would confront them with his back.
The killer on the left could not endure the "seduction", so he stepped a little faster, and a hint of disorder appeared in the orderly three-man formation.
The flaw was transient but fatal. Just before an assassin in black witnessing the battle spoke to warn him, Martial Yang seized the opportunity, drew out his blade, and jumped backward. With his backhand, he stabbed the lower abdomen of his enemy on the left.
The remaining two killers made the second mistake—they changed their attack route, wanting to seize the chance and attack.
However, once Martial Yang completed his attack, he jumped forward and returned to his original position so that he could not only avoid their bodies, but keep himself in the flank of the enemy on the right.
The three-on-one had now become a duel. During the short time that the teenagers blinked, Martial Yang had enough time to kill another one.
Mistakes were made one after another. When the third killer found that he was now the only one, he hesitated for a moment. What could he do while this killing machine was in front, and his companions were in back? What if...
The second that he hesitated in fear sent him to the hand of death.
In the blink of an eye, Martial Yang already killed three men. People now were looking up at him, even though he returned to his form as an old man who could barely hold his blade when the enemies fell down.
The teenagers were anxious. This was not the scene they had pictured. They thought the Golden Roc killers would win without the slightest effort.
However, Gu Shenwei was frightened and worried. Every move of Martial Yang was truly from the Gu Knife Form, though it was different from what he had learned in his childhood. It seemed like Martial Yang was not even using any skill. He attacked according to the flaws and weak points that his enemies had suddenly exposed; a forehand could turn into a backhand, a slashing could become a splitting. Even the most proficient user of the Gu Knife Form could not defend against it.
"Where did Marshal Yang learn that from? This man who I had never heard of is actually more powerful than my father."
Gu Shenwei carefully memorized the moments Martial Yang killed his enemies. He now understood not only his inherited Kung Fu much better, but also all the Kung Fu he had learned in these recent months.
Another five assassins in black came out. Behind Martial Yang were two monks and a stone bridge, the attackers could only half-enclose him, for any single killer could be the hindrance. The killers knew this well.
Five killers approached with the utmost caution, as they could sense the enemy was near at hand. Martial Yang turned back again, dropped the blade, and grabbed the lance, but no one advanced rashly. They had been learned their lesson.
Gu Shenwei's Master Shifu, Yang Zheng, used to hold his lance upright and wait for the enemy seriously. Contrary to his brother, Martial Yang held it casually, like a walking stick.
However, no one looked down on him and his weapon now.
The killers moved more and more slowly and stopped at about seven or eight strides away from Martial Yang. They were now close to the attacking range of his lance. They could either strike him at full speed with all their strength, or let him assault one killer while the rest waited for the best moment to kill him. Either way, they should not use a short knife against the long lance.
The snow had stopped without anyone noticing because they all held their breath, especially the pupils in front of the gate. Compared to the real superior, the strongest man among them was no one but a showy and impractical martial artist. But they all sensed the intense killing intent at this moment, even the slaves who knew nothing about Kung Fu.
It was just that they did not know where the killing intent came from. Was it from Martial Yang, or from the five killers whose muscles were tensed?
"As father said, a real superior could create a flaw within his enemy instead of waiting for the flaw to be exposed," Gu Shenwei thought. He did not care about such advice then, but it had all been seared into his consciousness.
What Martial Yang had learned was the inherited Kung Fu of the Gu family, different from Gu Lun's in details but similar in tactics. He was the real superior.
Martial Yang abruptly let out a roar without any warning. It was as loud as several lions roaring together, and every pupil's body shook, leaving the sound tingling in his ear.
The weakest one among the five killers flustered, stepped forward involuntarily, looking like he was being dragged by a giant force.
The flaw had arisen.
Hence, the lance jabbed forward.
The same jab by Martial Yang's hand was quite different from one from Yang Zheng's, who was the old servant of the Gu family and had used his lance like a strict craftsman—every jab was measured, people could see it, yet they could not avoid it. But Martial Yang made the lance appear to be a ghost or a dragon, moving too swift to predict its position and jabbing too fiercely to be defended.
One jab, two jabs...
Martial Yang made five jabs seem like one, and every jab ended a life. He returned to his original position at once, grunting. He seemed to have almost exhausted all his strength after these simple moves.
In others' eyes, the old man might be pretending to swindle the enemies. But Gu Shenwei knew it was real because he had been reminded repeatedly by Yang Zheng that if one did not use 80 percent of his strength on each jab, his jabbing was useless.
Yang Zheng practiced the jabbing skill and practiced it arduously for many years. Even still, he had to rest for a while every time after he finished four or five pokes. Martial Yang had battled for three rounds, and though he killed each enemy with a single move, he could not be as energetic as before.
But the others did not know that. The exhausted old man was already a high mountain that they could not climb. At least more than 10 killers were still alive now, but they had already lost their will to fight.
After Martial Yang recovered his breath, he raised up his head and acted like a stubborn teacher teaching slow-witted students. He said slowly,
"You need the killing desire first, before you can kill a man."
That was exactly the problem. As the killers lost their killing desire, Golden Roc Fort needed to send someone better if they wanted to win.