Chapter 9 – Moon in the Well Champion

Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan Huang Yi 2022/9/21 8:56:32

Book 8 Chapter 9 – Moon in the Well Champion

With smile on his face Kou Zhong entered the mail hall, he was met by Yun Yuzhen and Xiang Yushan’s expectant glance, but he noticed that Xu Ziling was standing by the window, with neither concern nor delight on his face. Kou Zhong asked in amazement, “Xiao Ling, don’t you want to know who the mole is?”

Xu Ziling replied indifferently, “How could such a tender young child be your, Zhong Shao’s opponent? Unless she basically does not know anything.”

Unable to hold back, Xiang Yushan asked, “What’s the outcome?”

Kou Zhong sat down opposite the two people, “It’s one of your personal guards,” he said, “I think his name is Ouyang Ji or something. You know what to do!”

A strong murderous intent flared in Xiang Yushan’s eyes; without saying a word he stood up and left.

Kou Zhong winked at Yun Yuzhen and said, “Would Beautiful Shifu be interested in a trip out of town with us, two brothers? I promised to escort that poor girl out of the city!”

The next several days, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling devoted their heart and mind to push Duan Yucheng, four men to train martial art. The four, on the other hand, also realized that this matter concerned their honor and disgrace, their life and death, plus they obtained these two highly talented brilliant masters’ direction, therefore, they strived and hence advanced by leaps and bounds.

The rest of the time, the two boys abandoned everything to go with Susu on scenic tours, doing their best to make her happy.

Time flew. The next day they were going to start their journey north. Xiao Xian hosted a banquet to give them a farewell dinner.

There was an additional guest at the dinner that night: Big Sister Xiao, Xiao Huan, who had just returned from Lingnan. Xiao Xian’s Left-field Marshal Zhang Xiu was unable to attend because just that morning he set out leading his army into battle.

As usual, the ten-thousand-kind flirtatious Big Sister Xiao was continuously throwing the two boys flirtatious glances and raining them with sweet talks [orig. ‘confusing soup’].

After saluting them with a round of drink, Xiao Xian said, “Turned out the person who mounted sneak attack on Ziling to give Pei Yan the opportunity to escape was Bai Wenyuan, a newly rising martial art master of Jingjian Zong [lit. clean/net sword school], who is also Zhu Mei’s current lover [orig. handsome male companion, i.e. gigolo]. He is quite famous in Sichuan region, it could be that he is infatuated by Zhu Mei’s beauty that he came to take refuge in Zhu Can.”

Kou Zhong blurted out laughing; he said, “Current lover. The term Xiao Dangjia used is definitely top-notch; it clearly showed that Zhu Mei used to have numerous lovers [here the term is ‘adventurous head’, also in subsequent paragraphs]. Ha!”

Big Sister Xiao glowered at him and said, “Being Zhu Mei’s lover is not a good thing, because she is paranoid and jealous; if she suspected her lover was having affair with different women, she would not hesitate to kill him to vent her anger. That’s the reason Jianghu people call her ‘Poisonous Spider’. Obviously Bai Wenyuan dislike having long life that he attaches himself to her.”

Xiang Yushan laughed and said, “That kind of heavily-made-up person, how could two Dage have any regards for him? But Zhu Mei is indeed highly capable; rumor has it that she has mastered 90% of Zhu Can’s skill. That night she did not fight back, simply because she was intimidated by two Dage’s fame for fighting prowess after you killed Ren Shaoming, plus she was unclear of the situation, hence she could only flee.”

Susu said anxiously, “Since she is a narrow-minded person, certainly she would not want to let this matter rests; you two must be absolutely careful.”

Yun Yuzhen said with a laugh, “Su Jie please set your heart at ease. Talking about wisdom and strategy, Xiao Zhong, Xiao Ling, are definitely not inferior to anybody. Su Jie just think, ever since their debut, the ones suffering losses were other people, when did they ever any suffer defeat?”

Big Sister Xiao laughed like a fluttering stem of flower; she said, “Since Yun Bangzhu is able to say such thing, surely you have suffered losses in the hands of these two boys!”

Yun Yuzhen’s pretty face blushed like red clouds; casting a flirtatious glance toward the two boys, she said, “Dajie has never tasted any losses from them!”

Seeing she blatantly flirted with the two boys during the banquet, Susu was displeased, her jet-black eyebrows were knitted.

Xiao Xian also felt rather uncomfortable with his younger sister’s licentious behavior; changing the topic, he said, “There is one thing that even now I still don’t understand: how did two Xiaodi find out that Zhu Mei and Shen Faxing were hiding in ambush outside the city? They are all old hands in Jianghu; they even managed to keep our people in the dark.”

Xiang Yushan smiled and said, “This Kou Dage of mine often downplays their achievements, but always speaks cheerfully and wittily, so that with him around, the atmosphere is always full of joy.”

Big Sister Xiao could not help asking in bewilderment, “Why is it that talking to the left General Xiang calls Kou Dage, talking to the left you calls Xu Dage? In term of age, you are older, in term of relationship, you are their jiefu [older sister’s husband]. And Su Jie, why didn’t you correct him?”

Susu happily said, “My two Didi are not ordinary people, naturally Yushan wants to show his respect!”

Yun Yuzhen also smiled and said, “Therefore, I also feel that Yushan did not use incorrect appellation.”

Xiao Xian chuckled, “Well said,” he said, “Two Xiaodi are indeed not ordinary people that I, Xiao Xian, seldom encounter in my life; people who, opening up their palm they create clouds, turning down their palm they create rain, who, leisurely and casually, turned the entire situation of the South upside-down, who also caused our Great Liang kingdom’s power and influence to flourish greatly. Although you have not officially joined my army, I, Xiao Xian, already consider you one of my own.”

And then, clapping his hands he called out, “People!”

While everybody else was stunned, two beautiful maids carrying exquisitely embroidered cases, one long one short, appeared in front of the banquet table.

Xiao Xian signaled with his hand, the two maids separately presented the long case to Kou Zhong, and the short one to Xu Ziling.

After the maids withdrew, Xiao Xian cheerfully said, “Small gifts, not worth showing my respect. Gentlemen, please open the cases and take a look what’s inside.”

Kou Zhong opened his embroidered case. To his astonishment, it was a steel saber. At first glance it seemed to be an ordinary saber, nothing special about it. But after careful look, whether it was the saber itself or the scabbard, although there was neither ornate decoration nor any other embellishment, there was some kind of ancient, simple yet elegant taste on it, so that nobody dared to despise it.

‘Ring!’

Kou Zhong pulled the saber off its scabbard.

Everybody focused their attention to look, but all was disappointed.

The saber blade was dull without any luster; where was the yellow glow Xiao Xian was talking about?

But suddenly the blade changed; although it was barely noticeable, there was no doubt a genuine soft yellow glow around it.

Xiao Xian laughed aloud and said, “Xiao Xiongdi is indeed the true owner of this saber; your true qi is able to incite this treasured saber’s reaction. I have played with this saber thousands of times, but the blade has never displayed the yellow glow.”

And thus everybody understood that in the past, when Ling Shangren was using the saber, his true qi must have brought out the strong yellow glow of the blade, but if anybody else picked up the saber, it was no more than an ordinary iron. They all could not help clicking their tongue in wonder.

Kou Zhong knew very well that Xiao Xian was trying to win him over, but still, he was quite delighted and said gratefully, “From now on, this saber will be called Moon in the Well. This kid bows to Xiao Dangjia for bestowing this gift.”

Astonished, Xiao Xian asked, “The name Moon in the Well has a heavy Zen flavor in it; what’s the story behind it?”

Kou Zhong replied perfunctorily, “I just saw a marvel in the well one night; nothing special about it.”

Only then did everybody understand why he was having a reluctant-to-part expression on his face.

Curious, Susu said, “Xiao Ling, why don’t you see what kind of treasure Xiao Dangjia is giving you?”

Xu Ziling picked the case and presented it back to Xiao Xian; he smiled and said, “I appreciate Xiao Dangjia’s good intention, whatever it is inside the case must be a rare treasure of the world, but I am a kind of person who don’t like to be concerned about worldly possession, and I do not wish to know what unfathomable mystery inside the box. I am asking for Xiao Dangjia’s forgiveness.”

Other than Kou Zhong, everybody else was surprised by Xu Ziling’s refusal. However, instead of being astonished, Xiao Xian simply sighed and said, “Xu Xiongdi is independent and loves to travel alone, someday you will certainly become an exceptional and peculiar character. Not only Laofu [old man, referring to self] does not have the slightest displeasure, my heart is full of admiration instead.”

Everybody present was quite moved by Xiao Xian’s poise.

Wanting to steer the conversation away from the Moon in the Well, Kou Zhong changed the subject, “I wonder if Xiao Dangjia’s meeting with Miss Song the other day went well?”

Xiao Xian nodded and said, “Arrangements are being made for me to meet with the ‘Heavenly Saber’ Song Que, I have always had high esteem toward him, Senior. If we can bring this matter to fruition, two Xiao Xiongdi’s merit is great.”

Aware that Xiao Xian would not reveal the details of their meeting, Kou Zhong changed the subject once again by talking about the current situation of the warlords vying for supremacy.

After the banquet, Big Sister Xiao unashamedly went back with them to the General Mansion. She was very passionate toward Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, and did not try to be discreet at all, so that Yun Yuzhen was pouting, and Susu was frowning deeply. But since they were aware that that was her nature, they were quite helpless to stop her.

In the inner hall they chatted about this and that for the whole sichen, and then, although she was unwilling, Susu had to remember about the baby in her womb and had to take her leave to return to her room and take a rest.

On the pretext that he had to accompany his tender wife, Xiang Yushan also seized that opportunity to take his leave; leaving Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling, Yun Yuzhen and Xiao Huan, whose flirtatiousness and charm penetrated the bones. Immediately the situation became awkward.

Xu Ziling rose up; with aloofness that push other people ten-thousand li away, he said, “I also have to take my leave, forgive me for not accompanying you, but I need to go back to my room to train, to deal with the travel tomorrow.”

Kou Zhong also stood up, but before he even had a chance to speak, Big Sister Xiao already spoke crossly, “We are just having interesting conversation here, how could you slip away just like that? Hee! How about Dajie and you go to your room and have some drinks?”

After sending him a ‘my deep regret, but Xiaodi is unable to help however much I would like to’ look, Xu Ziling hurriedly slipped away.

Kou Zhong noticed that Yun Yuzhen was fuming with anger while hanging her head down. For the first time in his life he envied Xu Ziling’s ‘no woman is important’ view; with a wry smile he said, “If I don’t train but drinking and be merry all night with you, two beautiful women, the day after tomorrow you will forever not see me, this ‘the will is there, but not the strength’ [idiom from Confucian Analects] kid.”

Early morning the next day, when the sky has not even brightened, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling left Baling. Together with Duan Yucheng, Bao Zhifu, Shi Jie and Ma Gui, four men, driving four mule carts loaded with salt, crossing the river to the north, starting their long journey.

Their first destination was Jingling Prefecture by Han River.

Learning from experience, this time they did not take the waterway, but opted for land route instead, which was more convenient to cover their tracks.

By dusk, they stopped and pitched camp in the wilderness, while letting their mules to enjoy the beautiful grass around.

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling sat down on underbrush by a pile of rocks. The former sighed and said, “Xiao Xian is really formidable; he could eat people without spitting their bones.”

Xu Ziling lifted up his eyes toward the towering, steep mountain peaks vying to be the most beautiful, beyond the plain, which, under the glow of the setting sun, gave him some kind of elusive immortality feeling. Sighing with Kou Zhong, he said, “With Su Jie in his hands, he does not need to be afraid we are going to take him down. If Xiang kid married Su Jie for the sake of ‘Duke Yang Treasure’, I will be the first who is going to take his little life away.”

Grabbing his own head, Kou Zhong said distressingly, “This is more formidable than threatening Su Jie with a saber. Let’s forget about Xiang kid treating us with deferential respect, the fact is that he is most probably more cunning than the two of us put together. To say the least, we have absolutely no way to take him down.”

Xu Ziling’s countenance sank; he said slowly, “If we meet Li Jing someday, I will certainly ask him why he let down Su Jie’s affection toward him. Were it not for Su Jie, he would have lost his life in the South.”

Shaken, Kou Zhong said, “Xiao Ling, this is the first time that you addressed him directly by his name.”

Xu Ziling’s palm struck a hundred-jin rock by his side.

‘Bang!’

The rock crumbled immediately.

While Kou Zhong was staring at him, tongue-tied, Xu Ziling let out a heavy sigh and said, “Why is it that there are so many things in the world that we know that it should not be like that, but we are helpless to do anything about it?”

Kou Zhong hung his head down in silence, engrossed in his own thought.

That night the two boys simply sat like that until dawn.

Early the following morning they continued their journey.

Two days later they entered the mountainous area.

Along the way the scenery was extremely beautiful. The mountain road was nestled among the dense forest, one segment of the roads overlooked a hundred-zhang deep ravine, while below the mountain was the panoramic view of rice fields and cultivated lands. When they reached certain elevation, their eyes feasted on the range upon range of bluish-green, ten-thousand-hill going up and down as far as their eyes could see.

That night they pitched camp at the foot of the mountain.

Since that day when they sat staring blankly all night long, Xu Ziling was unusually silent. The two boys did not even sleep in the camp; instead, they stayed outside with the earth as their sleeping mat and the heavens as their bed curtain, as if they were back at the small valley where they buried Fu Junchuo.

Sometimes when Xu Ziling was sitting alone far away, Kou Zhong would chat with Duan Yucheng and the others.

Duan Yucheng respectfully said, “For the four of us to come with Zhong Ye and Ling Ye out to temper ourselves in the world, is truly a blessing. In just a short two-month period, it’s like what other people would go through in several years; it is indeed eye-opening.”

Bao Zhifu and the others nodded their agreement.

In order to avoid other people’s eyes and ears, they agreed not to address the two boys as Gang Leaders.

Shi Jie also expressed his feelings, “No matter how bad the situation, as long as Zhong Ye and Ling Ye are around, we are always full of fighting spirit and vitality; and we have the confidence to cope with any danger.”

Ma Gui joined in, “The hardest to come by is that the two masters have never treated us as underlings; moreover, you never put on airs.”

Kou Zhong laughed nonchalantly and said, “Right now we all are brothers, hands and feet, together going out into the world. Not only to establish great undertaking that will last hundreds of generations, we are wishing to bring peace into the world, so that everybody can live in peace and work happily. Destiny is made whenever there is a will to create.”

Hearing that, the four men seemed to be emotional and excited.

Shi Jie hatefully said, “What we detest the most is those dog officials and thieving soldiers; we want to kill them as many as possible without showing mercy.”

Duan Yucheng suddenly hanged down his head, his shoulders twitched. Real men don’t cry easily; evidently he had a very painful past.

Kou Zhong looked at him with astonishment; Ma Gui leaned over and whispered explanation on his ear, “Xiao Duan’s fiancée was raped and murdered by the thief soldier; he always cries bitterly every time he remembers it.”

Kou Zhong nodded sympathetically; reaching out, he put his hand on Duan Yucheng’s shoulder and said, “Let bygone be bygone! Tomorrow is our hope. Our destiny should not be in other people’s hands, but it ought to be in your hands and mine. Even if our heads are rolling away, our blood splatters; there will never be any regret.”

Kou Zhong walked over and sat cross-legged next to Xu Ziling, who was lying down, looking up at the sky. When Kou Zhong also looked up, he saw black cloud was rolling in, covering most of the originally starry sky. Sighing, he said, “Looks like thunderstorm and heavy rain is coming!”

Xu Ziling remained silent.

Kou Zhong looked down and asked, “What are you thinking about?”

Xu Ziling sat up and spoke heavily, “I am remembering the days when we lived in that small valley where we buried Niang’s bones. Supposing we never left, today there would not be that many people whose spirit disappear whose soul broken in pain. Aren’t human beings always bringing trouble to themselves?”

A bean-size raindrop fell on the back of Kou Zhong’s neck, and slipped into the collar of his clothes. As he looked up, a lightning happened to streak across the night sky, followed by the muffled sound of distant thunder, shattering the tranquility of the mountain and fields, as if it was playing overture to the incoming storm.

Reaching out to Xu Ziling’s shoulder, Kou Zhong smiled wryly and said, “Fate does not have this ‘if’ syllable in it. What has happened has happened. Supposing we did not obtain the ‘Secret to Long Life’ by lucky coincidence, right now we would be facing different trouble and different pain; Yan Laoda would not have died and would continue abusing us, and we definitely would not have sat here waiting for the storm to come. Life is like that, Lao Daye [lit. old big master; another term for God] put you in such position, whether you want it or not, you simply must do your best to play that role.”

‘Crash!’

A crashing thunder was followed by a gale that swept the mountain and fields, and then the heavy rain was pouring from the sky.

Letting the rain drenching his entire body, Xu Ziling said in a low voice, “Since when did you believe in destiny?”

Revealing a hint of wry smile, Kou Zhong replied, “I only believe that everything that has happened was fate. As for the future, I believe our fate is in our hands. If we did not have this thought, how could there be any fighting spirit and meaning in the way we conduct ourselves?”

Xu Ziling nodded and said, “Since it is unknown, it does not exist. This is destiny’s most captivating aspect. No matter what the future holds, we are going to challenge the future, to seek our own ideals.”

Kou Zhong smiled, “Ha!” he said, “We’d better sing a song together in this dark and stormy night, in order to unfold the solemn and stirring feelings toward life in our hearts. Ling Shao, what is your respected opinion?”

Xu Ziling laughed aloud and pulled Kou Zhong up.

After exchanging a determined and full-of-passion glance, as if by prior agreement, they both broke out in loud singing, “Deep in the mountains watching the heaven’s fate, everlasting thoughts appear one by one, since ancient times keep flourishing without end, heroes and sages are definitely able to strive …”

The singing voice reverberated into the distance, even the thunderstorm could not cover it up the least bit. Duan Yucheng and the others heard the song, their heroic spirit was excited by this ode to their pride and longing.

The rain was growing more violent, but raging flames have already sparked off in their hearts, there was not even a shred of fear of the blowing and beating wind and rain.

The mule train passed through a valley, entering the plain southeast of Jingling city, gradually leaving the towering mountains and precipitous ridges behind. Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling rode side-by-side ahead, acting as the vanguard of the mule train.

In these last ten days of travel, every body did not relax their guard, they forged ahead vigorously and worked very hard in training their martial art skill, so that they were ready to face the hard fighting that might come at any time.

Pointing to a small lake in the distance to their left, Xu Ziling said, “We’ll pitch camp by the lake tonight, plus we can take this opportunity to swim.”

Still sitting on the horseback, Kou Zhong was looking at the map Xiang Yushan gave them. Hearing Xu Ziling, he said, “By tomorrow afternoon we should reach Baizhang [lit. hundred-zhang] Gorge. This gorge extends as long as two li, with ten-thousand ren [not sure what it is, dictionary only says ‘measure’] steep cliffs on both sides. In some places we can only see a sliver of blue sky, there is even waterfall seemingly hanging down from empty air. It is an extremely strategic place. If anybody is going to ambush us over there, we can’t guarantee the safety of the mule carts.”

Xu Ziling was an animal lover; he laughed and said, “Tonight we’ll take a bath in the clear creek, and then we’ll go there to scout the route.”

Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Good idea!”

Patting the horse’s bottom, he galloped toward the small lake. Xu Ziling also urged his horse to pursue closely. Duan Yucheng and the others had no choice but to urge their mules to go faster toward their destination.

Wearing only shorts to cover his groin, Xu Ziling crawled up from the warm lake water, dripping wet. He turned around toward Kou Zhong, who was still floating face up, looking at the starry night sky, and said, “That treasured saber of yours that was given by the Old Xiao, why did you give up the name ‘Star Transformation’ and picked ‘Moon in the Well’ instead?”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “It’s because I want to let our Xu Ziling Gongzi to use the name ‘Star Transformation’!”

Xu Ziling sat down on a large rock and crossed his legs; he said crossly, “Please stop playing dumb in front of me, quickly explain the fact to this young master.”

Kou Zhong laughed to his heart’s content before saying, “The lost past has returned to me. This is one of the good times that I don’t mind you cursing me about. There is no harm in telling you. Ha! Moon in the Well is Star Transformation; Star Transformation is Moon in the Well. The next move in the Moon in the Well is changes; isn’t that Star Transformation? Do you understand?”

Xu Ziling was moved, “It does make sense a little bit. Very well! Scouting time is here; get out of there right now!”

Kou Zhong acknowledged the order; he jumped up ashore.

They dressed up using the fastest technique. After letting the four men know, they unleashed their shenfa using all their strength, flying toward the Baizhang Gorge.

Half a sichen later, the two boys already covered a distance of nearly twenty li, a clear indication that compared to before, their qinggong has enjoyed great progress.

By this time an expanse of dense forest appeared before their eyes. Under the dark night, where the moon and the stars did not show their splendor, from the outside, the forest looked gloomy and mysterious.

The two boys’ childish heart was greatly aroused; as soon as they entered the forest, they jumped onto the tree branches and leaves with great delight.

As they swept through the forest, they saw dots of flames outside the forest, while also heard the sound of fighting.

Greatly astonished, the boys stopped by the edge of the forest and looked out.

Outside the forest, far into the distance across the plain, was a row of towering mountains and precipitous ridges; the space in between as undulating hills and mounds and sparse woodlands. This moment the flames were flickering; several hundreds torches covered the hills and plains as two groups cavalries were engaged in life and death battle.

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling looked at each other; what was happening out there?

Xu Ziling breathed out a mouthful of cold air, “They are completely blocking the way to Baizhang Gorge. Shall we continue on our mission, or shall we turn around and go back to sleep?”

Focusing his power into his eyes, Kou Zhong turned his gaze to the two groups of riders fighting at close quarters about two li outside the forest. “Did you see that?” he said, “There is a yellow lantern hung high right in the middle of the battlefield, it hangs from a wooden post on an elevated platform. There seem to be several more things hanging from the post, and there seem to be someone tied at the bottom of the post.”

Xu Ziling nodded, “And that person is wearing yellow clothes,” he added, “Could it be that these two groups are fighting a life and death battle over that person?”

Kou Zhong’s heart was unbearably itchy; he said, “If I don’t go to the bottom of this, how can I sleep tonight? Let’s go!”

Xu Ziling’s curiosity was greatly aroused; he followed Kou Zhong rushing toward the platform.

The closer they got, the louder was the battle cry; they were also able to see more clearly the two groups of rider in close combat. The torches were strewn at random, some were stuck on the ground, some were tied on the trees. The closer to the platform, there were more torches and placed more closely to each other.

By this time the two boys were able to see clearly that one group of riders wore non-Han attire; obviously they were not people from the Central Earth. On the other hand, the other group was wearing black, tight warrior attire, so that the two groups were in stark contrast to each other [orig. like rivers Jing and Wei separate clearly]. Quite naturally, the two boys’ heart was leaning toward the black-clad warriors’ side.

The situation on the elevated platform was even clearer, the person who was bound on the post was a woman wearing yellow clothes, her long cloud-like beautiful hair was loose, covering most of her face, so that nobody could see her jade countenance clearly.

The warriors in barbarian clothes were blocking the black-clad warriors from attacking the platform, and they clearly were gaining the upper hand.

The black-clad warriors numbered more than a thousand, more than twice the number of barbarian warriors; however, the barbarian warriors had the advantage of stronger martial art, so that they were successful in holding the enemy at bay.

From time to time the sword’s qi and the saber’s shine reflected the torch’s flame that it looked like dots of continuously jumping will-o’-the-wisp, giving the out-of-the-world impression from the stark horror of the battle.

The fighting was spread over a large area. Although it was concentrated mainly around the platform, but there were fierce battle everywhere they looked. This group chased that group pursued; it was an extremely bitter fighting.

Forced at the edge of the battlefield was a group of five, six black-clad warriors, surrounded by a crowd of more than a dozen barbarian warriors. Sabers flashed and men fell down.

Witnessing this view, the two boys’ blood was boiling in their breast; feeling of solidarity and anger against foreign enemy burst forth in their heart.

‘Qiang!’

Kou Zhong drew the Moon in the Well out and strode forward. Without saying anything, Xu Ziling followed close by his side.

Soon enough the dozen or so barbarian warriors discovered these two intruders’ presence. With eyes gleaming with ominous glint they swarmed toward the newcomers.

There was only about a hundred zhang or so battlefield separating this corner from the elevated platform. The black-clad warriors were in absolute disadvantage; not only they were unable to maintain their formation, they were beaten so bad that everything broken and in disorder, giving the enemy one opportunity after another to strike at their core strength.

As the enemy arrived, like torrential rush spears, hatchets, sabers and halberds also swarmed in. Kou Zhong quickened his steps. Shaking the Moon in the Well in his hand, instantly the saber blade emitted yellow glow so strong that even the enemy blocking him was aware of it.

Like flashes of lightning he swept to the left and hacked to the right, accurately striking the enemy’s blade and their bodies, so that two men were killed instantly.

The most shocking thing was that unlike before, where as they were hit by the saber they would drop their weapons and fell down, the dead bodies stayed still, their weapons fell down first, and then like snapping pillars the bodies suddenly collapsed.

The rest of the barbarians only saw two flashes of yellow light, and immediately two of their men were killed on the spot under such a strange, baffling circumstances. Without exception everybody’s guts suffered severe blow, thinking that who could possibly withstand such saber technique, where they could not even see how it happened? Immediately their will to fight was gone, and they all scattered in all directions.

Kou Zhong pulled the saber back and scrutinized it under his eyes. Standing proudly, he ran his fingers along the blade and said with a sigh, “From now on, other than Xu Ziling, you are my best companion. By no means, don’t let down my, Kou Zhong’s high expectation on you!”

This moment, another group of barbarian warriors was charging toward them, but acting as if he did not see them, Xu Ziling remained standing by Kou Zhong’s side and said, “Do you realize that before the blade even reached the enemy, the saber qi has already preceded the saber in invading their body and controlling their channels so that they obediently waited for death.”

Kou Zhong nodded, indicating that he was aware of it, but then he said in distress, “In your opinion, was it because of my power has increased greatly, or was it entirely due to this amazing saber?”

Three iron spears were thrust swiftly toward them.

Without even looking, Kou Zhong took a step forward, the Moon in the Well swiped toward the enemy, saber’s ray swirling, yellow glow suddenly stormed, three spears met the saber and broke, scaring the three spear wielders that they staggered and fell, battered and exhausted.

Two other foreign bandits were still heroically defying death by charging in, each one had a pair of hatchets in their hands. Kou Zhong casually turned his saber around, like a violent lightning yellow light flashed, the two enemies’ hatchets flew from their hands while they themselves died on the spot.

The rest of the enemies dispersed in confusion.

As if he was not aware the enemies had just attacked, Xu Ziling diplomatically replied, “I think it was both. Watching you making your move these two times, I could tell there was a bit of Yijian Technique feel in it, in a sense that you were able to anticipate the next bestowing-death-to-the-enemy move’s change one step ahead, pressuring the enemy that they were unable to change their move to counter, so much so that their acute spirit disappeared completely; otherwise, how could they be that useless?”

Kou Zhong sighed, “Ay!” he said, “If only Ba Fenghan, Yang Xuyan, or the likes of them were here, I could have tested my saber to my heart’s content!”

This scene was extremely weird.

All around the cry of killing reached the sky, saber light and sword shadow everywhere, but it was as if the two boys were talking a leisure stroll over to this place, chatting idly discussing martial arts.

Xu Ziling suddenly traversed sideways, with a lightning move of the hand he snatched one saber and one sword that sneakily attacked them from behind. His legs kicked twice, while at the same time throwing the saber and the sword in his hands, four foreign bandits were eliminated immediately. Momentarily no one else dared to mess with them.

Returning to Kou Zhong’s side, Xu Ziling elbowed his flank and said with a laugh, “Don’t forget you still have me as your competitor. Bring it on! Let me see if after obtaining the Moon in the Well, whether you become like a tiger that has grown wings, or like a mouse that has grown a tumor?”

While crying out in pain, Kou Zhong struck a posture, and with a squeal said, “Lately you, this kid, have been admonishing me with straight face. This time I am going to repay injustice with injustice, animosity with animosity. En garde!”

However, the saber was hacking toward a young, heroic barbarian man, who pounced on them.

‘Clang!’

Unexpectedly that man used his sword to block Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well, and was still able to fiercely launch a counterattack. The swordsmanship was swift and fierce, strange and mysterious, the power behind it profound. Obviously this was a martial art masters from the barbarian bandits’ side who heard about the newcomers and had come to his companions’ aid.

Forgetting about Xu Ziling, Kou Zhong swiftly traversed sideways, thick fantastic yellow glow arose, like the billows of Yangtze River it met the incoming attack.

The man blocked seven saber strikes in succession.

‘Dang!’

Unexpectedly his sword broke right in the middle.

Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well seized this opportunity to advance, but the man was indeed brilliant; right in time he produced a dagger.

‘Ding!’

The dagger blocked the definite-kill saber strike, while, borrowing the momentum from the impact, he floated about a zhang back.

By this time Xu Ziling was also heavily surrounded, but he still called out, “I want to see something!” His fist and his leg moved together, he simply fought his way out, and rushed in the direction of the elevated platform.

When Kou Zhong wanted to run after him, shadows flashed in front of him, as three men barred his way, one of them happened to be the barbarian with superior skill, holding a fresh sword in his hand.

The young barbarian shouted, “Friend, who are you? Your skill is quite exceptional, what relationship do you have with Duba [lit. sole hegemony/dominator] Village [orig. mountain village/villa/manor]?”

Kou Zhong laughed aloud. “What Duba Village?” he replied, “I have never heard of it. I am who I am and I'm not ashamed of my name: Kou Zhong it is. Where have thou cometh from? Why had the guts to come to my Central Earth and display shockingly bad behavior?”

Hearing Kou Zhong’s name, the three barbarians’ countenance changed.

Astonished, Kou Zhong asked, “Do you know me?”

The barbarian that had just exchanged blows with Kou Zhong replied, “I am Tiele’s ‘Flying Eagle’, Qu Ao’s third disciple Genggehu’er. Kou Zhong, this time you dropped by, don’t ever think that you’ll leave alive. Go!”

The two barbarians behind him immediately fanned out and surrounded Kou Zhong in the middle.

Kou Zhong shrugged his shoulders and laughed, “Turns out Ren Shaoming was indeed your man. Since my hands are unbearably itchy, and now you are here to offer yourselves as sacrifice for my saber! Ha!”

When Xu Ziling was breaking through layers upon layers of the enemy’s network of defense, burst after burst of shrill whistling sound was heard from the battlefield; there must be some sort of pattern and order, commanding the barbarians’ advance and retreat, because he suddenly felt increasing pressure from the enemy.

However, the two boys have obviously impeded the Tiele troops’ main force, giving big boost to the black-clad warriors’ momentum, so that they launched wave after wave of attacks toward the elevated platform.

Xu Ziling has entered the as-clear-as-still-water state of mind; although all around him was chaotic battle and tangled fighting, but he was able to clearly grasp what was true and what was false in both the enemy’s and his own side’s movements, and was always a step ahead in evading or intercepting the enemies, so that they were unable to surround him.

The black-clad warriors have also regarded him as an ally; every now and then they helped him blocking the Tiele people’s attack against him.

By the time he was about ten zhang away from the elevated platform, a charming shout came from above.

Xu Ziling quickly recognized her as a first-class martial art masters from the enemy’s side; thereupon he also let out a ferocious shout and soared into the air.

Under the illumination of the torches, he saw a pair of milky-white arms, round navel, belonging to a beautiful woman in red dress, whose pair of short blades in her right and left hands turned into two balls of sharp-flame-like flashes of light, one on top of the other, striking toward his face and chest; unbelievably fast, and swift and fierce to the extreme.

The woman’s silhouette was very pretty, her features were so clear and distinct that it was as if she was carved by a sharp knife, her pair of beautiful eyes sparkled spiritedly like precious stones; in short, she was extremely attractive.

But Xu Ziling did not pay the slightest bit of attention to her beauty, one after another his left and right palms struck out.

‘Bang! Bang!’

By the time the two combatants were interlocked with each other and then separated, they had already exchanged three moves.

Xu Ziling had used a carefully calculated force, so that to her surprise, he was able to utilize the reaction force from the impact to propel himself up, and like a big bird he flew toward the elevated platform.

Obviously the beautiful barbarian had never expected that not only Xu Ziling was able to meet her full-powered, swift and fierce move head-on, he was able to brilliantly borrow the force to fly upwards swiftly. By the time she wanted to run after him, it was already too late.