“This woman’s name is Xuan Yin, we meet again.”
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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In a pond connected to the city moat, everyone sloshed out of the water.
“We’ll need to find a time to seal up this place later,” Li Jinglong said, “or it’ll be too dangerous.”
Hongjun, Mo Rigen, and Qiu Yongsi were all panting. Back in the cave, they had recovered less than half of their strength, and after the hard, head-on battle at Huaqing Palace, they still hadn’t yet recovered what they had consumed. Only A-Tai was still energetic.
“Rest a little,” Li Jinglong insisted.
The carp yao walked out of the tunnel and peered out. Within the city of Chang’an, a light rain pattered down, carrying with it a faint whiff of blood.
“What kind of rain is this?” the carp yao asked.
Li Jinglong came out as well, spreading his hand open. The light rain carried with it crimson-red droplets that gathered in his palm, and with a slight application of the Heart Lamp’s energy, the rainwater turned into steam under the white light, vaporizing into the air.
Everyone left the tunnel, and Li Jinglong asked, “How much have you all recovered?”
“Half,” Mo Rigen responded.
Qiu Yongsi, “Half.”
“Thirty percent,” Hongjun replied.
“Full,” A-Tai said readily.
“Thanks for all your hard work, brothers,” Li Jinglong said. “After this battle is over, let’s go have a good vacation. Where do you want to go? Pingkang Li still?”
“Can we?” Hongjun’s spirits immediately lifted, and he said, “I want to… go soak in that pool.”
When Hongjun fell into Huaqing Pool, he had felt that that hot spring was comfortable beyond compare. There had even been fruits and chilled tea and such to the side; however, he hadn’t had a chance to enjoy it because he had been dragged out too quickly.
“When the time comes, I’ll try asking His Majesty,” Li Jinglong responded, before reaching out a hand. His palm let off a warm, gentle white light, and Hongjun placed his hand on it. The others all put their hands on top as well.
“Let the battle commence!” Li Jinglong said. As he spoke, he grasped his long sword in his hand and sped towards the western gate.
Their first target was the city gates. The entire city of Chang’an was asleep and enshrouded in silence. Yao energy pervaded the air, collecting into black clouds above the top of the palace before spreading off endlessly in all directions . The heights of the city gates were more silent than usual, and they were packed with city guards holding weapons.
“Why can that fox’s yao power spread through the entirety of Chang’an city?!” Hongjun could not believe it. Even if it was Chong Ming, his yao power would only be able to envelop Yaojin Palace.
“Because of the blood rain,” Qiu Yongsi responded.
Li Jinglong said, “Use the Lihun Pollen sparingly, don’t scatter it all!”
Under the blood rain, the city guards were all in a daze. Mo Rigen ran over swiftly, drawing his bow and nocking an arrow to the string, and he swiftly loosed a succession of shafts. The guards up high fell without a sound, and the city walls were as quiet as ever even as those guards began to plummet down. For a while the arrows fell like rain, and Li Jinglong shouted, “Take the gate!”
Hongjun hefted up the Pentacolor Sacred Light, blocking the arrows that fell like a waterfall, before flicking out his Immortal-Slaying Throwing Knives. Just as he was about to throw them, Qiu Yongsi let out a loud shout. “Yaoguai!”
Behind him, two huge fish covered with scales burst out from the canal. As soon as the carp yao saw its natural enemy, it was so scared it shouted and leapt into Qiu Yongsi’s arms. Qiu Yongsi held the carp yao in his arms as he, also scared out of his wits, began to run in Hongjun’s direction.
“Aren’t you not afraid of fox yao?” A-Tai roared angrily.
“I’m afraid of these weird-looking yaoguai!” Qiu Yongsi shouted. “Block it, quick!”
With a shake of his body, Mo Rigen changed forms, shapeshifting into the Grey Wolf. Leaping forward, he tackled the huge fish back into the water. Clearly, Lady Guoguo had long since expected that they would come, and she had many yaoguai hide in the sewers under the city. The two fish yao guarding the gates were called chiru, and Li Jinglong had read about them in the book that Di Renjie had composed when he was alive. He shouted, “Pierce their gills! Hongjun! You continue forward!”
Everyone turned to face the path into the middle of the city. On the main street, more and more yaoguai sensed that the city gates were under attack and they rushed over. Hongjun waved the glaive in his hand, instantly sweeping the crowd flat, neatly slicing apart the metal chains.
In the darkness, Li Longji had been waiting outside the city for a long time, when a series of muffled thumps echoed from behind the city gates.
“They’re already here,” Li Longji shouted. “Men, follow Zhen and slaughter our enemies!”
Right after, with a thunderous, startling boom, the drawbridge crashed down. The sound of a roar traveled for hundreds of li, and in the next instant, the city gates gave way, smashing down heavily as well. Thousands of yaoguai enveloped in black smoke rushed out of the city like thousands of wild horses galloping!
“Where did all of these come from!” Hongjun shouted amidst the chaos.
“There were yao hidden within Chang’an!” the Grey Wolf roared. “Get up high, on the towers!”
Hongjun threw out a grappling hook, and A-Tai followed closely behind with a cyclone. Quite a few of the yaoguai actually had wings, and when the cyclone came, they all rose into the air, opening their mouths and roaring as they spat out lightning-fire bombs.
The grey wolf that Mo Rigen had turned into leapt upwards, catching Hongjun and bringing him along as he leapt up onto the wall. Right after, with a roll in mid-air, Mo Rigen turned back into a human. He landed in a kneel, one knee on the ground, as he drew his longbow and began to fire rapidly.
Hongjun lifted up the Pentacolor Sacred Light, letting it envelop the gate tower and block the searing fire bombs that the troop up above shot down, while also sending out his own throwing knives. For an instant, the sky above the gate tower was filled with whistling arrows and glowing throwing knives, and the yaoguai were scattered all about - but there were simply too many of them, and they kept rushing in a wave that blanketed the sky.
“You all take care of the ones in the sky!” Li Longji shouted loudly. “Men, follow me and charge!”
Right after that, the emperor led the Shenwu troops in a brazen charge right through the city gates! The yaoguai in the vanguard had low cultivation levels, and under the forcible charge of these two thousand humans into the city, they were all squashed underfoot.
Li Jinglong roared, “Push forwards!”
In that instant, a light flashed outside of the city gates, and the yaoguai flying in the air let out pained cries. A-Tai sent a whirlwind their way, and right afterwards, Hongjun gathered all his strength and sent a slash flying towards the sky!
That slash swooshed over, and in that moment, everything was compressed, torn, and broken under the light of that arc. Hundreds of flying beasts were mercilessly torn apart, and their blood exploded over the sky!
“Follow me!” the Grey Wolf howled.
The group rushed over the city gates, vaulting onto their horses. Li Jinglong ignited the Heart Lamp in his palm, and the Sword of Wisdom exploded with strong light that rushed down the main street. In the face of the Sword of Wisdom, the black energy retreated relentlessly. Li Longji, riding alone, charged forward at the head of two thousand plus troops.
The two sides of the street were filled with yao, which numbered in the tens of thousands, and they streamed endlessly out of the houses.
“How have so many yaoguai appeared in Chang’an?!” Li Longji roared.
“Responding to Your Majesty!” Mo Rigen passed by Li Longji, using his Seven Nailed Arrows to shoot a pig yao that leapt towards them to its death, answering, “These are all yao tribes that have been hiding within Chang’an! But they…”
“...aren’t that powerful!” A-Tai rushed by on the right, and with a wave of his fan, he sent two snake yao flying.
“I can tell.” Li Longji hadn’t yet fully recovered from his shock, but he had already begun to feel relieved.
“So you fight them ba!” Hongjun galloped over, shouting, “Emperor! You have the protection of the Ziwei Star, so defeating a bunch of weak yao is no problem! We’re going on ahead!”
Li Longji, “...”
After the group broke through the main street, they followed Li Jinglong in pushing the battlefront forwards. The warhorses cantered on through the darkness of the night, and Li Jinglong held the sword straight out at his side as the horses continued to gallop forward.
“Did you guys see?” Hongjun asked.
“It’s filled with yao,” Qiu Yongsi said. “Strange, why are they not fighting back?”
The rooftops along the two sides of the Western Market were covered with yao, hiding their forms within the black qi. All of the members of the Exorcism Department had noticed them.
“Two possibilities,” A-Tai said, unperturbed. “One is that they’re afraid of death and don’t dare to lash out recklessly; two is that they know they can’t beat us, so their target isn’t us.”
Mo Rigen nocked an arrow to his bow on the back of his galloping horse, and an arrow flew over. Where the shaft landed, the yao beasts hiding in ambush on the roof fled in every direction.
“They’re all low level yao tribes,” Mo Rigen said, having tested it out. “They don’t have a lot of fighting power. See, they’re observing us from a distance.”
“Yao aren’t like humans,” the carp yao spoke up from its position on Hongjun’s back.
The carp yao explained, “Humans pursue morality and justice, read of the hundred schools of thought, and respect the heavens, earth, sovereign, parents, and teachers. Yao don’t have such things; they don’t understand vassals dying if it pleases their lord for them to do so. They’re just afraid of the yao king’s power, and usually they just listen to whoever is the strongest.”
“So the power of the yao king has become weak?” Li Jinglong understood. “For its control over them to be just this, compared with before.”
Qiu Yongsi said, “Technically, the Chang’an yao king should be a black jiao, so how has it become an eight-tailed fox?”
Hongjun once again recalled the mission Chong Ming had given him before he came down the mountain. Everyone was talking about a “black jiao”, but where was the jiao? How had the yao king been switched out?
“The way I see it, perhaps it’s run off, or it’s been replaced.” Li Jinglong then asked, “How old is your information?”
When everyone thought about it, they found that that was pretty likely. Li Jinglong then said, “Having caused such a ruckus, there is no way the yao king won’t appear. I think, more likely than not, some internal affair happened amongst them, just like what Zhao Zilong said. Anyways, when we see her again, perhaps we’ll know then.”
The speed of the warhorses slowed slightly as they came in front of the Xuande Gate, and from behind the door came broken snatches of the sound of a pipa playing. Everything was quiet and calm, and in the depth of the night, the pipa’s melody echoed extremely eerily through the darkness.
Li Jinglong looked towards Xingqing Palace, filled with yao energy, behind the door.
He said, “Everyone.”
Everyone pulled out their own artifacts. Hongjun held the Pentacolor Sacred Light and the glaive, becoming the one leading the charge.
Li Jinglong pressed a hand on Hongjun’s shoulder, standing in front of him, saying slowly, “Don’t always rush to the very front.”
And after saying this, Li Jinglong pulled out his Sword of Wisdom, and he sucked in a deep breath --
Seventeenth day of the eleventh month, twelfth year of the Tianbao era.
Case: Suppress the revolt and assist the emperor
Difficulty: God level
Location: Xingqing Palace
Involved persons: Lady Guoguo, Imperial Consort Yang, Li Longji
Case details: On the night of the sixteenth day of the eleventh month, Lady Guoguo revealed her original form, that of the nine-tailed fox yao king, Wu Qiyu, who had been hiding in Chang’an for many years. She first destroyed Huaqing Palace and took Imperial Consort Yang as a hostage, before casting her evil magic over Chang’an, mobilizing the yaoguai in an attempt to overthrow the rule of my Great Tang dynasty. It is crucial to save the hostage, Imperial Consort Yang, and eliminate the yao king.
Remuneration: His Majesty will definitely grant a hefty reward!
With Li Jinglong’s loud cry, the glaive in Hongjun’s hand slashed twice, and space collapsed. The Xuande Gate and the decorated archway it rested in was cut into a cross shape, and the near ten thousand jin metal door was cut apart like tofu, collapsing to two sides and letting out a huge sound as the pieces fell to the ground.
Behind the Xuande Gate, within the plaza, sat a woman wearing a long gown. The cross-shaped slash swept by, the intersection point just skimming her temple, bringing with it a light breeze, and a few ebony strands fell from the woman’s hair.
“I’ve long since heard of the fame of the Great Tang Exorcism Department’s members.” The pipa stopped, and the woman said mellowly, “This woman’s name is Xuan Yin, we meet again.”
“You… you are…” Hongjun froze in shock.
That girl was the pipa player, Xuan Yin, from Pingkang Li’s Nightingale of the Spring Dawn! At this moment, her wandering, mirth-filled gaze settled on Hongjun.
“I wonder, how does my skill at the pipa compare with Li Guinian’s?” Xuan Yin said.
At this time, the plaza was filled with soldiers, the left and right Longwu, Shenwu, and Yulin troops. The Six Armies had all assembled, all of the troops wholly expressionless as the rainwater mixed with blood floated in the air. The one leading those Longwu troops was actually Hu Sheng!
“This is you wanting us to kill people,” Li Jinglong said quietly, holding his Sword of Wisdom as he walked forward. “Evil yao, why don’t you guess: will I kill them, or not kill them?”
Xuan Yin smiled prettily. “Captain Li, your Sword of Wisdom can only break devil qi, and as I do not have a heart devil, it has no effect against me. I, however, want to see if you can break through Wu Qiyu-daren’s magic!”
And saying this, Xuan Yin’s five fingers strummed the pipa, and music thundered forth!
The Six Armies pulled out their weapons at once, pointing them towards the outside of the Xuande Gate plaza. Slowly stepping forward, they tightened the circle around them.
Li Jinglong said, “Xuan Yin-guniang, you shouldn’t have been playing in Pingkang Li. Lady Guoguo really does not understand the concept of using her resources wisely.”
“Then what should she have been doing?” Hongjun asked curiously.
“Training the Six Armies,” Li Jinglong said mildly. “Ever since the Six Armies were founded, they’ve each only minded their own business, and never before have they formed such a tidy arrangement of troops like this one. Side with His Majesty ba, miss.”
Everyone couldn’t help laughing loudly, and for a moment Xuan Yin couldn’t summon up a breath to speak from rage. Just as she was about to respond, Li Jinglong pinpointed that very instant, and he shouted, “Go!”
A-Tai and Mo Rigen were the fastest, and the magic bombs and the Seven Nailed Arrows shot out in an instant. Xuan Yin’s pipa paused, but she couldn’t direct the soldiers to block in time, so she could only jump up into the air. With this, Li Jinglong and Hongjun then led the charge over. Xuan Yin’s body hovered in midair, and with a wave of her pipa, the guards of the Six Armies all drew their bows, and a hail of arrows flew into the air!
Just as Hongjun was about to block the arrows, Li Jinglong grabbed his collar and shouted, “Head in!”
Hongjun hadn’t had the time to react yet when he and Li Jinglong rushed past the stairs. Li Jinglong broke shoulder-first into the main hall of Xingqing Palace, shouting, “We’re leaving it up to you guys!”
Mo Rigen, Qiu Yongsi, and A-Tai all made noises of agreement. Xuan Yin’s expression changed, and she turned her head back as if she was about to give chase, but she could only land because multiple arrows of Mo Rigen’s flew at her. She had exerted a great amount of effort to control the twenty thousand troops of the Six Armies, and if she were to give up this place, then it would be akin to throwing away all her previous efforts.
“Li Jinglong!” Xuan Yin flew into a rage.
The carp yao raced over in a flash, and with a fierce wave of his fan, A-Tai sent the carp yao flying into the air, where the carp yao shouted, “Lay down the butcher knife and immediately become a buddha --”
“Why do you shout something different every time!” Qiu Yongsi chuckled.
Right after, it scattered the contents of that silk bag containing Lihun Pollen like a fairy scattering flowers.
Within the wild wind, the Lihun Pollen dispersed over the entirety of the courtyard thanks to that cyclone. The guards all began to sneeze violently as they stared at each other, and the first to recover was actually Hu Sheng.
“Where is this?!” Hu Sheng froze in shock.
Even though the amount of Lihun Pollen was limited in the end, the cyclone had swept it over almost half of the Six Armies, releasing nearly seven thousand people from the enchantment’s hold! The carp yao hugged that small silk bag to itself as it fell onto the roof tiles, and its feet kicked wildly for a little as it almost slid down, before it managed to steady itself and ran towards the depths of Xingqing Palace.
Xuan Yin immediately lifted up the pipa again, but A-Tai lifted the barbat lute in his hand, sitting down on the wall. His fingers strummed over the strings, and the power within their music collided as the sound waves clashed, reverberating over the courtyard.
Hu Sheng roared, “Who can tell me what exactly happened?!”
Xuan Yin gritted her teeth as she continued to emit the power of her pipa, and the more she urged it on, the more anxious she became. But as A-Tai’s music interfered, she had no way to get the soldiers that had been awakened by the Lihun Pollen to once again fall under her control. Xuan Yin’s fingers moved faster and faster as she played The Song of the Qin King Breaking the Battle Formation , but this didn’t seem to affect A-Tai at all, and he began to play the Melody of the White Feathered Garment, composed personally by Li Longji. Xuan Yin had finally met a formidable opponent. Her pipa’s melody ebbed and flowed, the chords repeating like broken stones and shattered jade. A-Tai immediately grasped the empty gaps in his opponent’s melody, and he used his ethereal melody to scramble Xuan Yin’s rhythm.
“Commander Hu Sheng!” Qiu Yongsi shouted. “Gather your subordinates, quickly!”
There were twenty thousand members of the Six Armies on the plaza, and their heads spun as they listened to the hurricane-like melodies. Hu Sheng let out a loud shout, covering his own ears as he managed to run towards them. Mo Rigen drew his bow and nocked an arrow as Qiu Yongsi gripped his artifact tightly, both of them staring attentively at Xuan Ying with anxiety.
A-Tai and Xuan Yin were surrounded by a glow, and the melodies flew wave after wave back and forth. In the end, it was as if they had taken on a tangible form as they collided endlessly in the air, causing an explosion!
Li Jinglong and Hongjun ran into Xingqing Palace, both of them panting slightly.
“Zhangshi, you’re so smart…”
“No need to flatter me at a time like this…”
“I’m speaking from my heart!”
Hongjun followed Li Jinglong in rushing through room after room of the main hall. Li Jinglong was afraid that they’d run into a eunuch or a palace maid at any point, but thankfully there were none. Where was Lady Guoguo hiding?
“Why don’t you use the Heart Lamp…”
“Since she said it like that, then she wants me to use it,” Li Jinglong answered as he rapidly passed through the side hall’s corridor. “Though I don’t know why things are like this, being a little more careful is always a good thing.”
“Wait,” Hongjun said, “I keep feeling that something’s not right.”
Xingqing Palace was devoid of any living person. There was only the sound of their own footsteps, taking one step at a time.
“Every time you have this kind of feeling,” Li Jinglong said simply, “the one who falls prey to bad luck afterwards is always me.”
The fox yao had hidden her tracks well, hiding who knows where within Xingqing Palace. Dawn had already come upon them without any fanfare as the rain pattered down, dripping down along the eaves of the roofs. Today, the once flourishing imperial court was sunk into a patch of dead silence.
The viscous blood slowly seeped downwards along the lacquered pillars, the walls, and the horizontal roof-beams. Under the dim sunlight, blood swelled over the window frames, wall murals, and palace lights, surrounding the hall the two of them were in.
Hongjun unconsciously held out the Pentacolor Sacred Light. Just as Li Jinglong was going to tell him to not be too nervous, the blood wildly rushed towards them from all directions!
The sea of blood suddenly curved downwards, and the four walls temporarily became waterfalls. Hongjun immediately used the Pentacolor Sacred Light to envelop the two of them, but this time the sea of blood came down in full force, and the two of them were swallowed by it as they were furiously pressed together. With one hand, Li Jinglong grabbed Hongjun as he was also squeezed into the middle, before both of them were dragged into floating in the blood.
“The Heart Lamp…”
“There’s blood everywhere… I can’t let it out…”
Li Jinglong and Hongjun were encased in the Pentacolor Sacred Light, like a glowing cocoon within a dark red tank of water. More and more blood cascaded down and grew heavier and heavier. Li Jinglong did his best to release the power of the Heart Lamp, but though the Heart Lamp pierced through the sea of blood with its light, it had no way to oppose this massive amount of fluid.
The boundary of the Pentacolor Sacred Light shrank closer and closer under the influence of the outside pressure until the two of them were tightly wrapped up, pressed tightly against each other. Hongjun couldn’t even uncurl his fingers, and he gritted his teeth and said, “You’re squishing my hand…”
Li Jinglong struggled mightily and managed to move aside a little, and Hongjun lifted his glaive, sending a single slash off. But though that slash broke through the sea of blood, the flowing liquid quickly congealed back together. Hongjun’s breath grew difficult; though the Pentacolor Sacred Light was there to block the liquid, air was almost unable to pass through as a result.
Li Jinglong forced his elbow to the side. The two of them, heads down and feet up, had almost no way to use their strength, dangling as they were in midair.
Outside, in the courtyard of Xingqing Palace, A-Tai and Xuan Yin’s melodies clashed like a stormy tempest. At the instant that The Song of the Qin King Breaking the Battle Formation reached its climax, A-Tai used his hand to silence the strings, before with a strum, his lute suddenly rang with sound!
All of the barbat lute strings vibrated at the same time, letting out a sound that would split mountains and crack rocks. With a loud boom, all of the people on the courtyard jolted at the same time!
Qiu Yongsi waved his large brush, and on the training grounds in front of the Xuande Gate, all of the carvings leapt off the cobblestones. The large xuanwu imprint in the middle of the grounds rose up, turning with a boom, knocking the soldiers of the Six Armies over! Mo Rigen turned in mid-air, shooting out his seven arrows before turning into the Grey Wolf, using the path that the xuanwu had opened up to bolt after those swift arrows!
Xuan Yin tried to once again call upon the power of her pipa, but the reverberations from A-Tai had injured her meridians. She turned and leapt away, dodging the arrow shafts that Mo Rigen shot, but in the end she couldn’t escape the grey wolf that rushed right in front of her! Xuan Yin was already wary, but the grey wolf didn’t have any intention of having compassion towards a delicate woman, and with one bite, he got her around the waist. Xuan Yin’s blood spurted out where those sharp teeth dug in, tainting the grey wolf’s mouth. With a pained cry, she turned into her original form of a jade pipa, almost breaking Mo Rigen’s canines.
Mo Rigen felt pain, and with a shake of his head, tossed the jade pipa out. That pipa struck the marble steps, letting out thuds as it fell down the stairs and smashed into pieces.
Xuan Yin’s body perished, and in that instant, the yao’s layers upon layers of power collapsed. Li Longji finally rushed to the scene, and he let out an angry roar. “Where are the Six Armies?!”
In the courtyard, the awakened soldiers stared at each other, none of them knowing what had happened. When they were roared at by Li Longji, they instantly began to tremble.
“Follow me to Xingqing Palace to save the imperial concubine! If anyone can save the imperial concubine, they will be heavily rewarded!”
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