Heaven Knows What I Bore Witness To (Part 2)
I couldn’t fathom what I saw. How was I supposed to? H-how come the Qilin Guard’s aggression suddenly turned into fawning and pandering?! From experience, the Central Plains was supposed to be a place where an official merely one rank higher could crush those beneath him by a single rank – something along those lines. More importantly, people in the pugilistic world were supposed to fear officials. It didn’t make any sense. I guess he accepted the bribe.
This must be the political corruption spreading. Have the Qilin Guards changed? Curse them! I shouldn’t have believed all of the rumours in the pugilistic world. The people of the Central Plains don’t have any principles. Upholders of justice, yeah right! I have a bridge to sell, then!
I had a lot of things I wanted to rage about, but the impulse to kill kicked in.
I want to go on a rampage! They’re not even that strong! Why won’t they fall for my traps?! I could skin every single one of you in the chaos! Hmm, what’s that smell? This is the smell of the subordinates I sent to report to the officials.
The subordinates I sent had been with me for a long time. As you’d expect, they killed a lot. That was why the scent of blood was always on them. The original plan was for the official with the beard to get into a physical altercation with the people. The Qilin Guard would then take them all out. I would then use the chaos as my cover to collect their heads. Night Fortress’ master would busy himself with investigating the case and stay out of Huzhou. It was a genius idea. Howbeit, my timing was off.
The bearded official had no balls. The Qilin Guards accepted a bribe. The outcome was different to what I expected. It’s now the few of us against officials, a Qilin Guard, a thousand people from the pugilistic world and a dozen adepts I don’t recognise but surmised were linked to Night Fortress’ master. Drats, it was the equivalent of a rabbit trying to devour an elephant.
I released a signal for my men to escape. They, too, noticed things were odd when they received the signal.
The stoic young man by the carriage with the middle-aged man quietly said, “I smell blood,” and he looked in the direction of my men. For crying out loud, I wonder if he was born in the year of the dog.
Wait, my men!
It was simple to find another group of men if this group died, but people in the Central Plain are weaklings. It would take ages to recruit an actually capable group.
I wanted you to kill, not for over a thousand of you to demolish my subordinates! Have you no conscience?!
Fortunately, the official and Qilin Guard didn’t hold equal rankings. The official was still out cold. The Qilin Guard company officer was busy fawning over Long Zaitian as if the latter was his idol. My subordinates took the opportunity to run. However, the young man just had to mount a horse. Displaying equestrian skills compared to my own, he galloped after my men.
“Halt, you barbarians from Beijiang!”
Are you flipping Yue Fei?!
Du Gu and the others chased after my men. My men hurriedly stole horses to skedaddle. They weren’t bad equestrians, but neither was the group of adepts. All I could do was pray for the best… On a positive note, their departure reduced the number of people around. If I’m to venture a guess, the stoic young man should be the strongest around. It would take him fifty moves to finish my men. In the meantime, hehehe… nobody left could match me.
I cautiously approached the group and pretended to trip. One of the youths quickly helped me up and asked, “What’s the matter, Kiddo?”
What’s the matter? I’d like your head, please.
I looked up at him, thinking, “Look at you. Are you in any position to call me a kid?”
He looked quite handsome, but he also looked ignorant and childish. There was no need to guess. He was clearly an errand boy, yet he had the aura of a rich young master, the type that’s an eye sore.
I want to barf! I want to kill this prick!
“They’re scary…” I sulked in a child’s voice.
“I’ll help you find your mother, okay? Ol’ Tie, this kid is shaken. I’m going to help him find his mother.”
Ol’ Tie nodded: “Laimu, don’t go too far. There’s something bizarre about all of this.”
“I know. I know. It’s not a big town, so I can’t go that far. I’ll be back once I drop him off.”
Laimu unsuspectingly took me away. We crossed two alleys and reached a dark place. He asked, “Does your mother live here? It doesn’t appear as though there are any resident homes here…”
I crouched down and covered my face as I wept.
“What’s the matter? Don’t be scared. I’ll help you find your m-”
Maybe he was more alert owing to the darkness, or maybe the sudden change to my aura activated his instincts. Either way, my first slash missed Laimu’s throat. When I slashed, he raised his chin and drew his metal sabre from his waist. He then rotated using his legs, bringing his sabre along for the ride for a defence and counterattack in a single flow. That was something more advanced than Patriarch Chen could’ve performed. Immediately after, he flowered and came at me with an aggressive offence.
I’m a broadsword specialist, yet I couldn’t overwhelm him, damn it! I extended an arm to block. I was faster and had more experience, but his style was weird. He stuck to my weapon with his. I couldn’t shake him off my blade. I had never seen anything like it before.
What do they teach young masters these days?!
I summoned my internal energy to brute force my way through, driving him back somewhat with a whipping motion. Once we had some distance between us, I noticed his look of disbelief and befuddlement.
“Wh-wh-Why did you attack me? Are you a bad guy?”
His brain was as stupid as his face. It was hard to believe he was the same man who was able to control his output so well a second ago.
“You only just realised, idiot?!”
I thought he was feigning stupid. Angry, I assumed a double-handed style, increasing my output to the point that it was impossible for him to stick to my blade again. From then on, I made quick work of him. Once I restrained him and dropped him on his bottom, I finally understood his style was incredibly clever. Instead of letting his mind process what happened and then countering, he trained himself to be able to react before his mind even processed it. I’ll admit I was impressed.
“Don’t move. Don’t move.”
I choked his throat, dislocated his shoulder joints and sealed the blood meridians in his arms and legs. I never trusted meridian sealing techniques martial artists in the Central Plain promoted. The trope-worthy idea is basically useless. Every story where somebody seals meridians, it doesn’t matter how profound or strong the sealer is, the one sealed always gets away, while the sealer has to suck it up. That’s why I prefer sealing meridians where blood flows, instead. It’s awfully hard to undo it with internal energy. Yes, they’d end up crippled physically, mentally or die if their flow of blood is restricted for too long, but killing is my hobby, teehee.
“Your skin is quite nice. You’re quite ugly, but you have the physique to learn martial arts. What style do you learn?”
*Yue Fei was a Chinese military general, calligrapher, and poet who lived during the Southern Song dynasty. Arguably, his most notable battles were against Jin, hence the Beijiang association. He’s one of my favourite historical figures. His biography (the one Qian Cai wrote) might be a great read for anyone into ancient China’s history and wars. The wuxia novel “说岳全传” is not historical – it’s purely a romanticised version, if you can even call it that.
**Bai Laimu’s style – Video Explanation below
It’s impossible for the pursuer to land an attack using the limb he sticks to unless he can shake off the blade-to-blade or limb-to-limb contact. Alternatively, the opponent could outmanoeuvre Bai Laimu, gaining a position where they can attack him, for instance, an inside position. Trying to brute force only works if Bai Laimu’s ability to stick isn’t too developed.
As Mountain Monster also pointed out, the style method allows him to react before his mind processes things. Experts at this could fight whilst holding a conversation and not even looking once they’re in contact. It’s why we often practice the sticking blindfolded. Of course, to actually do so effectively takes a lot of practice. It’s the reason Tai Chi and Wing Chun are rarely seen used in combat (besides being taught incorrectly) – it takes ages to be proficient at compared to boxing, not to say you’re a Mayweather after a few lessons, in my experience and observations.