"Maybe there are some peerless experts, or secret martial arts manuals or something inside. Let’s go in and take a look."
"Do you still want to dual-cultivate?" asked Yuwen Hong.
Even though You Mengzhe did kind of want to, last night was just way too intense. Even now his feet felt wobbly, and he couldn’t even stand straight, not to mention the fact that his lower body was completely numb.
So he had no choice but to reply, "No thanks, let me practice qigong for a few days."
His entire body hurt as if it were falling apart, yet he was still in high spirits. He poked his head outside the cave and saw that even though the rain had stopped, it was still a cloudy day. Yuwen Hong had waited on You Mengzhe, and only after helping him put on his robes did he dress himself and tie his own belt. You Mengzhe was lying by the edge of the cave, looking at the view, when Yuwen Hong picked him up by his waist to prevent him from falling down.
"Why is there a pine tree here?" asked You Mengzhe.
"Most likely it’s there for those who jump off the cliff."
You Mengzhe nodded. Today he was finally in the mood to explore the cave. He noticed that the cave was narrow and deep, almost as if it had a whole universe inside.
So he blurted out, "Maybe there are some peerless experts, or secret martial arts manuals or something inside. Let’s go in and take a look."
Yuwen Hong followed You Mengzhe, and after entering the cave, there was indeed a path in the dark tunnel that twisted downwards. You Mengzhe walked very cautiously in the front, while Yuwen Hong supported him from behind to prevent him from slipping and falling. Only after walking for a long time, could they make out a faint light ahead.
Emerging from the tunnel, their surroundings suddenly opened up to a bright, vast expanse. Unexpectedly, they had entered the base of MoDai Mountain, where an abundance of exotic flowers and rare plants practically filled the sky! A towering tree grew in the center, and the surrounding cliffs were engraved with swordsmanship moves.
Under the big tree rested a small lattice made of stone. In the middle of the platform sat an extremely decayed skeleton. In front of the stone slabs was a stone tablet, almost completely covered by moss, inscribed with "Sword God Yan Jiutian’s Burial Ground".
There was another line written in small script below, "If you wish to enter my sect, you must first follow the rules. Kowtow nine times in front of the stone tablet to recognize me as your shifu. Only then can you take the world-dominating, secret sword cultivation manual I created during my life, as well as my divine weapon, the Nine Heavens Golden Master Eight Desolations Divine Phoenix Sword, to avenge my dying, unfulfilled wish.”
“If you don’t kowtow, you will meet your end.”
“As expected!” You Mengzhe exclaimed.
Yuwen Hong nodded and echoed, “As expected.”
You Mengzhe just knew that this kind of place would have some kind of secret martial arts manual.
In front of the skeleton lay a small box, and after Yuwen Hong surveyed their surroundings, he reported, "The fruit on this little tree looks edible. And we most likely activated the mechanisms in the ground, so if we don’t kowtow now, concealed weapons will shoot out of that small box.”
You Mengzhe looked down at the small box and replied, "Pick some."
Yuwen Hong continued, "If we grab the box, flip it upside down, and open it towards that skeleton, the weapons will all be used up on him."
You Mengzhe felt that no matter what, this person had already passed away, and it wouldn’t be good to disrespect and destroy the dead’s remains. So he picked up the box, flipped it over, and opened it toward the ground. Hua la la, a wave of steel nails shot out, all hitting the ground.
"Sure enough, there was an active mechanism. And it looks no better than our Demon Cult’s leftovers."
Yuwen Hong smiled, picked some fruits from the tree, and the two of them sat and ate.
You Mengzhe flipped through the sword cultivation manual, which was divided into two volumes; the first volume was the "Eight Desolations True Phoenix Divine Art (Volume 1)" and the second volume the "Eight Desolations True Phoenix Divine Art (Volume 2)". The first volume was all about internal cultivation and building a foundation. The second volume was tattered and incomplete, but it centered around swordsmanship moves.
You Mengzhe asked, "Is this technique useful?"
Yuwen Hong took a look at the manual and replied, "This is a 'Waste' level divine skill, it's useless."
"But the foreword says that the divine skill is powerful and unrivalled throughout the Central Plains.”
Yuwen Hong sneered. "That’s what all the manuals say. It’s been hundreds of years, and each generation of martial arts has rapidly replaced the old with new."
You Mengzhe nodded and asked, "What’s a 'Waste' level Divine Art?"
Yuwen Hong wiped a piece of fruit clean and gave it to You Mengzhe to eat, then began to explain with his hands, "'Heaven', 'Earth', 'Abyss', 'Waste'. 'Waste' level divine art is the last class."
You Mengzhe sighed and nodded, then asked, "What level do you cultivate?"
“‘Heaven’ level. All the methods we cultivate at our Azure Sea Pavilion are ‘Heaven’ level."
You Mengzhe pulled Yuwen Hong’s hand and asked, "Mine too?"
Yuwen Hong hooked You Mengzhe's finger with his.
"The ‘True Art of Turning to Yang’ was brought with your mother to Yuheng Mountain. It’s not from the Demon Sect."
Shocked, You Mengzhe asked, "Then what about that something Art of the Moon technique my father cultivates?"
"What about Sun Bin and the others, and the techniques those righteous martial artists cultivate...?"
"’Floating on Water’ is ‘Abyss’ level. The rest of the people who have some skill don’t even make the rankings and have no level. What they practice isn’t the divine arts, but rather, martial arts. The difference between divine arts and martial arts… eh, let’s just say there’s a difference.”
You Mengzhe flipped through the ‘Eight Desolations True Phoenix Divine Art’ over and over, and finally asked, "It's not even a tiny bit useful?"
"It's useless, throw it away."
You Mengzhe threw away the sword manual without a second thought and grumbled, "And here I thought it was something good."
"Martial arts manuals have no value. When you were a child, you tore and folded one into a flying contraption. It was... ‘The Universe Moves Mountains, Reclaims the Sea, and Collapses Heaven’. At Yuheng Mountain, whenever we would clean out the library, we would give a lot of useless ones to the common villagers to play with."
You Mengzhe remembered what his father You Gutian had once said. "Yes, Dad said before that ordinary martial arts have no value. No one has the patience to cultivate for decades, and even if they did master something, there would always be somebody stronger, and they would only get beaten up in a fight. If you want to cultivate, then you should cultivate something different from others. Nowadays, you have to practice fast-cultivation methods with great upward potential, which don’t require you to use your brain and let you cultivate in your sleep."
"Unfortunately, none of the righteous martial artists understand this idea, this truth."
"En. It would be best to do absolutely nothing and become a master. I think my cultivation method screwed me over."
"No, your ‘Turning to Yang’ isn’t a waste of time. After you’ve mastered it, you can get whatever you want. If you dual-cultivate with one person, you will have his vital energy. If you dual cultivate with a few more, then you can become the number one master in the world."
You Mengzhe changed his mind and asked, "Was it useful for you?"
Yuwen Hong nodded and said, "It's not apparent now, and it will take some time to slowly... show it. But it's very useful. Sun Bin’s vital qi, I’ve also gained a bit from dual-cultivation."
"I can also give you some of Sun Bin’s vital qi?!"
Yuwen Hong nodded, and You Mengzhe took out the second volume of ‘Turning to Yang’. It was indeed written in the book that the more partners he dual-cultivated with, the more benefits they would also derive. They could accumulate a variety of vital energies within their bodies, which would intermix and merge with each other.
Again You Mengzhe went to the skeleton, inspecting the sword in front of it.
"What about this sword? It says it’s a divine weapon."
Yuwen Hong glanced at it and asked, "Did you bring the Demon Blood Sword?"
You Mengzhe opened his bundle and took out the Demon Blood Sword that he had brought from home.
Yuwen Hong nodded. "The Demon Blood Sword is first-class, it's an ‘Immortal’ weapon. Second is the ‘Divine’ weapon, third is the ‘Famous’ weapon. This weapon is eighth-grade, an eighth-grade ‘Divine’ weapon actually, and ranked second to last among the ‘Divine’ weapons."
"No way," You Mengzhe shrieked, "This is also trash?!"
"It's been hundreds of years, and the forging process has improved since then. Besides, the Demon Blood Sword is Yuheng Mountain’s divine weapon. They say that an immortal created it. You can see for yourself, if you test both swords at once."
You Mengzhe grasped the Demon Blood Sword in his left hand and the Nine Heavens Golden Master Eight Desolations Divine Phoenix Sword in his right, and with just a tiny bit of internal force— ka-cha—the True Phoenix Sword broke into two.
"Weak." You Mengzhe casually threw away the broken sword and continued, "Let’s get out of here."
Then he asked, "Do you know how to use a sword?"
"A little bit," answered Yuwen Hong.
"Teach me when you’re free, wielding a sword looks pretty cool."
They looked up at the cliff for a moment. Yuwen Hong grabbed a vine, tested it, then let You Mengzhe hop onto his back as he began to climb up the vine.
"Little Uncle, are you unhappy?"
From the first time he saw Yuwen Hong, he thought that this person was very strange. To call this man an enigma… wouldn’t be accurate. Clearly he would answer when asked a question, but he would never take the initiative to speak. You Mengzhe would ask a question, and he would merely answer, and if he didn’t ask a question, then the man wouldn’t make a sound.
"Why don't you ever start a conversation with me?"
Yuwen Hong felt a little confused and voiced, "I...am very happy."
"Were you always like this before?"
Yuwen Hong quickly replied, "No, no, in the past I… rarely spoke. Only occasionally would I speak."
"Who would you talk to? What would you say?"
"I would say 'Get lost' or 'You’re dead'."
You Mengzhe felt that Yuwen Hong's speech was a little odd. It seemed a bit shaky, like he had trouble expressing himself. Sometimes the order of his words was a little jumbled, his rhythm disjointed, and he would sometimes stammer or pause before continuing. Most likely, he hadn’t spoken to anyone in several years.
You Mengzhe asked, "How many years have you not spoken to anyone? When I say speak, I mean like the way we are right now. ‘Get lost' and 'You’re dead' don’t count."
Yuwen Hong smiled and said, "Sixteen years."
You Mengzhe whispered, "You haven't spoken since my mother died?"
"Yeah." As they spoke, the two of them climbed to the top of the cliff.
You Mengzhe sighed. "Then you must be really happy now."
A bright smile illuminated Yuwen Hong’s handsome face.
You Mengzhe pulled Yuwen Hong along by his finger and thought for a while. With such a bodyguard, wouldn’t it be a pity if he didn’t go back to cause trouble? Besides, they could easily run away at any time. So he proposed they go back to Mirror Lake, and Yuwen Hong didn't have any objections. He went wherever You Mengzhe wanted to go, and did whatever he asked him to do.
They found the path and headed up the mountain once again. This time a guard post had been added along the mountain road, where a wulin disciple was currently interrogating passersby. Amidst the previous chaos, few people had seen You Mengzhe’s face clearly when he had escaped, and many people wore sky blue martial robes, so after a short while, no one would be able to recognize him.
When the wulin disciple saw the two men, he demanded, "Which sect are you from? Take out your insignia, and only after checking your fingerprints can you pass through!"
"Get lost." Yuwen Hong lifted his palm, and as soon as the words left his mouth, he struck the disciple's chest indifferently, propelling the disciple well over three zhang away, his fresh blood violently spraying in the air before he fell into the grass, unconscious.
“Is he dead?" asked You Mengzhe.
"No. Another blow, and he’ll be dead."
You Mengzhe hurriedly replied, "No need, let's keep going."
There were no more guard posts the rest of the way up the mountain.
Once again, throngs of people filled the shores of Mirror Lake, and the bamboo bridge that had been destroyed by thunderfire bombs had been seven or eight parts restored overnight, bound together by strips of cloth, and the roof of the pavilion had been removed and set aside. You Mengzhe found a place to sit down on the west bank of Mirror Lake, and none of the people recognized him. Their eyes were fixed on the two men violently battling in the pavilion at the heart of the lake, weapons clashing and ringing.
You Mengzhe asked a man wearing a bamboo hat beside him, "What are they doing?"
The stranger turned his head and shot a glance at You Mengzhe. "Which sect are you from?"
You Mengzhe breezily made up a lie, and the stranger didn’t suspect him at all, cupping his hands in greeting and answering, "Alliance Leader Zhao has decided that out of the eighteen provinces in the Central Plains, besides the seven border provinces, the remaining eleven provinces will be choosing the leader of each martial arts branch."
"A martial arts competition?" You Mengzhe asked excitedly.
The man in the bamboo hat nodded and replied, "What else do we martial artists know how to do besides battling in the arena? Right now, they’re just starting to choose the Taizhou sub-leader. The man with the two copper cymbals is Taizhou Mount Yuan’s Hundred-faced God Xu Heigui. The woman wielding the Water Splitting Thorn is the Ocean Piercing Sect's awe-inspiring Ling Xiaogu." You Mengzhe didn't know any of them.
Suddenly, he realized that the man in the bamboo hat’s voice sounded very familiar, almost like he had heard it before, but as much as he tried, he couldn't remember who the voice belonged to. This man wore a black muslin robe, and from under the rim of his bamboo hat, a distinct scar from a knife wound marred his profile. You Mengzhe only knew that he had never met a man with a knife scar before, but how come his build and silhouette brought an unspeakable sense of familiarity?
"What are you looking at?" The man remarked flippantly, "Watch where you're looking."
You Mengzhe quickly spun his head away, pretending to look interested in the battle.
A burly, tanned man stood in the arena, the wind roaring against the copper cymbals he held in each hand. A woman in red, sheath-like combat robes found an opening and advanced, but with a push of the man’s left hand—DONG—a cymbal smacked Ling Xiaogu in the center of her chest.
"AH——!" the audience exclaimed in unison. Eyes wide open, Ling Xiaogu stumbled from the blow to her chest, her hands convulsing, only for the man to respond with a sharp battle cry.
"HAI!" Without ado, he aimed for Ling Xiaogu with his right cymbal, and hit her smack dab in the chest again!
"AAAHH——!” Everyone cried out in fear at the tragic sight.
Finally, Xu Heigui wound back both arms and smashed his right and left cymbals together into Ling Xiaogu’s head.
Her eyes bulged, and she spewed a mouthful of blood into the sky, which rained over the man’s face. Then she fell back softly.
Applause thundered from all around as Ling Xiaogu was carried down on a stretcher.
With a face full of fresh blood, Xu Heigui smiled proudly and declared, "Give in! Give in!" He joined his cymbals together and bowed.
Zhao Feihong leaped onto the arena and announced loudly, "Like this, the position of sub-leader of the Taizhou branch will be held by the Hundred-faced God, what do all of you think?"
Thunderous applause filled the arena. Xu Heigui, with a face full of excitement, shouted, "Thank you, Alliance Leader!" Then he leaped off the platform.
The man in the bamboo hat laughed dryly and lazily clapped his hands. This man was starting to feel more and more familiar to You Mengzhe, and just when he turned to ask him something, You Mengzhe discovered that Yuwen Hong was also eyeing this man. Does Yuwen Hong also know him?
Just as he was about to ask, Zhao Feihong announced, "Next are Xichuan and Tingzhou. Because the two cities are so close, one branch leader is enough. I present to you our brother from Xichuan..."
Zhao Feihong was about to leave for the west bank when a rakish voice interrupted, "Hey, Hero Zhao, don't leave yet, I'm from Xichuan."
As soon as he heard him speak, You Mengzhe immediately recognized Sun Bin's voice! What was he trying to do? That day when You Mengzhe had suddenly been surrounded, it was all thanks to Sun Bin who had created a diversion and led away Zhao Feihong that he had survived. Otherwise, if Zhao Feihong and Zhang Yuanshan joined forces, even his own shadow guard would not be able to defeat them.
The words that came out of Sun Bin’s mouth sounded vaguely familiar to everyone present, but they couldn’t figure out where they had heard them before. But Zhao Feihong frowned slightly, seeming to recognize it.
"Would you be able to defeat him now?" You Mengzhe asked.
"It's hard to say," Yuwen Hong replied.
You Mengzhe whispered, "Even though we’ve dual-cultivated, you still can't beat him?"
"We fought seventeen years ago. He is very skilled with the staff. I don’t know how much he’s advanced these past years, so it’s hard to say."
Now that’s inconvenient, thought You Mengzhe. He felt an ominous premonition. If Sun Bin’s enemy is Zhao Feihong, what do I do if he loses? He couldn’t let Yuwen Hong sacrifice himself to save Sun Bin. He had to think of a better way… maybe create a disturbance again? It seemed that the martial artists had long ago made arrangements to secure the perimeter of the lake, and that mute named Zhang Yuanshan was nowhere to be seen, probably watching them like a tiger stalking its prey in the dark. There were also many disciples patrolling nearby...
As the gears shifted in You Mengzhe’s mind, Zhao Feihong voiced, "Where are these words coming from? Which little brother has something to say to me?"
As the words fell, a young man swept onto the lake, and with a touch as light as a dragonfly skimming the water, he flew towards the platform in the center of the lake. In an instant, everyone by the bank broke into loud cheers! Sun Bin, dressed in pitch-black robes, tilted his body and zipped across the entire lake without stopping, the waterline he created rousing ripplet upon ripplet until eccentric waves stirred the entire lake, disturbing the reflections of the mountains set against the blue sky and white clouds. The cheers grew increasingly frantic as, lap after lap, Sun Bin stepped over the surface of the lake for three whole circles before he finally turned around and stopped, and actually stood in the middle of the lake, floating up and down with the waves!
Even Yuwen Hong and the man in the bamboo hat couldn’t hold back a cheer, "Amazing!"
Zhao Feihong's eyes were full of admiration, and they reflected Sun Bin's scowling expression.
"From Xichuan Mt. Feng, I am the Thief King of Nine Temple Sect, the ‘Clouds Above Land and Sea’, Sun Bin."
Zhao Feihong exclaimed, "In the past I have witnessed your master’s divine skills. Unexpectedly in the flash of ten years, the disciple has surpassed the master."
Sun Bin returned coldly, "To tell you the truth, Zhao Feihong, you little grandson, back then, you made my master vomit blood and die! Today, I will make you pay with your blood!"
With a faint air of exasperation, Zhao Feihong rebuked in a calm and cool voice, "When Jianghu people compete in martial arts, and someone’s skills are inferior to others, how can you seek revenge afterwards? You’ve really lost face for your master and wasted such a good martial technique in vain."
Sun Bin flipped in midair and leaped onto the platform. Shouts of “Amazing!” scattered in the air, with Yuwen Hong and the bamboo hat man cheering the loudest.
You Mengzhe asked blankly, "Did something happen?"
Yuwen Hong used his hands to explain, "Using the water’s momentum to flip over and propel himself up is even more difficult than just standing on the water!”
Suddenly enlightened, You Mengzhe shaded his eyes with his hands and surveyed the scene, only to see Sun Bin and Zhao Feihong standing face to face.
Sun Bin jeered, "Enough with the small talk! Today I’m going to challenge the Alliance Leader of the Eighteen Provinces of the Central Plains! You’re accepting the challenge whether you want to or not!”
The wulin martial artists exploded into an uproar.
Zhao Feihong voiced, "If you want to be the Alliance Leader, it’s not out of the question..."
But his voice suddenly became quiet and no one could hear what he said next.
Everyone had been listening to their hearts’ content when suddenly Zhao Feihong stopped projecting his voice, forcibly cutting off his words mid-sentence and leaving them all hanging. This immediately roused a storm of protest; it was like they had all been urinating and halfway through, someone had yanked away their chamber pot! It was too unbearable!
"Why are you speaking so quietly?! It’s not like this is anything that can’t see the light!”
As soon as one person spoke, the herd roiled and surged violently, just like a single stone stirring up a thousand waves, until the masses verged upon mutiny.
However, after Zhao Feihong finished speaking and Sun Bin finished listening, Sun Bin shouted after a moment of silence, "I still want revenge!"
The next moment, Sun Bin drew out two daggers, and as swift as lightning, Zhao Feihong pulled out the iron staff attached to his back. Then their weapons collided with a deafening CRASH!
Qi energy roiled from the heart of the lake, and from the epicenter of the arena, a wave of water unfurled and expanded.
Take a shot for every time Feitian shits on dogblood (with more dogblood) and wuxia in this chapter lol! You will black out! I could write a whole dissertation on how he does this. Honestly he’s so clever. Also, the names are GOD LONG on purposeeee, don’t hate me!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Ruini.