Different Year, Same Thing (Part 12)
Still worn out from his scrap with Ming Suwen, Ling Qingshu had no answer for the palm thrust Hong Jiu uncorked, rattling him and adding to his internal injuries Ming Suwen inflicted. Ling Qingshu decisively discarded his contorted sword and sealed meridians to help ease the pain.
“Who else would it be?”
“Didn’t you already leave?”
Revving to go, Hong Jiu scoffed, “Your conscious act resembles a dog suffering epilepsy. Had Leader not ordered me to send you to the magistrate office, I’d have crushed your skull and rolled your copse off the mountain.”
“Y-your departure was all for show?”
“Those Qilin lapdogs won’t listen to me if I told them to abandon you. If they want to protect you for as long as they’re breathing, why not let them take a class of ‘wise the hell up’?”
“In other words… You’re still careless. We have an ambush set up here to siege your mountain. You think you’re so clever, but you made the same blunder as this wench…” Energy returned to Ling Qingshu’s eyes as he brayed, “Kill the blasted beggar!”
Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary disciples charged down toward Hong Jiu en masse, resembling a human wave, yet Hong Jiu was unnerved despite being unarmed. Hong Jiu drew two circles with his hands, yet he was unable to blow anyone down with the gale generated, promoting him to praise, “Better than your coward leader hiding behind you, but not good enough. Hargh!”
Hong Jiu’s booming “Dragon Soars the Sky” sent the disciples into Ling Qingshu, forcing the latter to retreat in disgruntled fashion. Two of Ling Qingshu’s martial uncles came to his aid. Hong Jiu dropped Ling Qingshu’s weakest martial uncle in one blow, but his other martial uncle managed to defend Hong Jiu’s follow up strike using his sword.
Hong Jiu vaulted and uncoiled thirty-seven palm strikes through the air then bound back to Ming Suwen as soon as he landed, swiping away the disciples holding her hostage.
The elder who just crossed swords with Hong Jiu returned to the ground only after Hong Jiu had rescued her. Though the elder managed to take thirty of the palm strikes, seven landed. Upon landing, he erupted into nothingness.
Numbvine green smoke wouldn’t work on Hong Jiu as the gales he produced each time he struck would blow it away. Therefore, the only feasible plan was to challenge him in waves and wear him down with their numbers numbering over a hundred. The strategy would be particularly effective against Hong Jiu for such high output required proportionate energy.
Experienced, Hong Jiu could predict what was coming and initiated the fight, unleashing “The Dragon Fights in the Wilderness”, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.
Ling Qingshu focused all of his internal energy to his fingertips and bided his time to uncork a single fatal strike using his mastery of qi sword once Hong Jiu slowed down. When the two finally came to blows, consecutive cracks reverberated through the air until Hong Jiu demolished Ling Qingshu’s defence and pummelled the latter’s chest.
“H-how is your internal energy…” stuttered Ling Qingshu, bleeding and appearance dishevelled.
“What are you rambling about? In the pugilistic world, your fists do the talking. I’m just stronger than you, dog turd.”
Hong Jiu started training around the same time Ling Qingshu did, and both were disciples of top schools. Hong Jiu didn’t consume an assortment of dietary supplements as Ling Qingshu did. Hong Jiu trained way up on a freezing mountain. Unlike Ling Qingshu, Hong Jiu wasn’t taught swordplay everyone coveted nor was he more gifted than Ling Qingshu. Hong Jiu just redefined what the standard for “hard work” was. He was up and training before the sun was up and didn’t return until the sun was down. He exposed himself to extremely low temperatures when training and challenged the dangerous beasts in Mount Daluo’s woods.
Hong Jiu’s first rank status as one of Seventeen Wyrms and title of “Ten Thousand Mile Dragon Rider” at the age of twenty-five was the product of thirteen years of training regardless of hail, sun, freezing or scorching weather, never missing a beat. Though he was seldom active in the pugilistic world under his real name, his fiery sense of justice and style always made a statement, giving fame to him and his style.
“That’s Eighteen Subduing Dragon Palms! What’s your relation to Beggar’s Sect’s Chief Hong Ba?!”
“You just called him ‘Hong Ba’, ‘Ba’ as in Eight’. I’m ‘Hong Jiu’, ‘Jiu’ as in ‘Nine’. The hell do you think? While you’re at it, how about guessing what I’m going to do to you?”
Owing to his disrupted flow of true qi, Ling Qingshu couldn’t enact his fury on Hong Jiu. Nonetheless, he provoked, “You wouldn’t dare kill me. Your leader told you to deliver me to the magistrate office. Are you going to oppose your superior?”
“Leader has his plans. I have my plans. What the hell did their family of three do to you, you twisted scumbag? I want to bash your brain out of your skull, but I will follow Leader’s orders. He told me to deliver you, but he didn’t specify how I deliver you. I’ll amputate your two hands and legs, eunuch you, grind your bones to dust and rearrange your face to look like a dog smothered liquid poo on it.”
“Kill that filthy wench!” commanded Ling Qingshu, deciding to pull someone down to hell with him if that was how it was going to go.
Instead of hearing Ming Suwen’s cries, he saw her take up a sword and assume Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s signature stance. Her movements were sluggish due to the numbvine green smoke. Still, she had enough in her to plunge it through the vital of one disciple prior to cutting down one after another among the dozen or so disciples surrounding her.
How is the wench still able to fight?
Though Ming Suwen was revered for her mastery of palm styles, her swordplay was actually her superior skill set due to it being what she dedicated her time to ever since she was a kid. As such, she could defend herself using swordplay even though she couldn’t muster internal energy for an extra boost.
“You think you twats could keep up with my martial grandaunt’s swordplay?”
Hong Jiu resumed his assault, smashing his hand onto foreheads with pinpoint accuracy. Though they wouldn’t die, the concussion would leave them in a state of retardation once they came to.
Hong Jiu knew the person interrupting him was an adept when the lethal slash aimed at his neck was delivered as calm as if he wasn’t even defending. Because Ming Feizhen gave the order not to kill, Hong Jiu had to reluctantly obey. Hence, he decided to capture Ling Qingshu when he was on the verge of finishing him. Hong Jiu didn’t have qualms taking a blow to kill the enemy. That said, taking a blow to land an equivalent blow was just stupid.
The individual’s swordplay wasn’t based around strength but fluidity, forcing Hong Jiu to thwart one attack after the next.
“Martial Uncle Liao!” cried Ling Qingshu, picking up an iron sword and spearing it at Hong Jiu despite how taxed he was.
Hong Jiu had no choice but to create distance and reset since Ling Qingshu forced him into a pincer attack from behind.
“Who are you?” Hong Jiu questioned.
“Shiba, be careful. He’s Sword Manual Elder, Liao Baishou, the leader of Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s Miracle Stone Sanctuary,” Ming Suwen shouted from afar.
Seven inner sanctuaries consisting of Ling Clan’s seven descendants and sect scions ruled Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary. The twenty-one outer sanctuaries consisted of disciples who didn’t carry the ‘Ling’ surname.
At first, Liao Baishou thought Hong Jiu was with the imperial court but shot down the assumption after exchanging blows with Hong Jiu for he knew the imperial court didn’t have anyone with the same skills among their ranks.
Liao Baishou, a swordsman with a so a wealth of knowledge on swordplay that people called him a sword manual was the leader of Miracle Stone Sanctuary, a sanctuary tasked with taking care of Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s armoury, stared at Ling Qingshu with his piercing gaze and asked, “Qingshu, Patriarch sent you here to show Hangzhou our prowess, yet why are you in such a pathetic state?”
“That wench seduced me to try to frame me and tarnish our name!”
Liao Baishou, who wasn’t very familiar with Ling Qingshu since the former was an outer sanctuary member, queried, “Really?”
Ling Qingshu stabbed his fingernails into his palm and took advantage of Liao Baishu keeping Hong Jiu occupied to sneak up on Ming Suwen…
“You are?” inquired Liao Baishou.
“Night Fortress’ second in command. The surname is Hong.”
“It is an honour to meet you.”
“If it’s a fight you want, bring it. I have someone waiting for me to skin.”
Liao Baishou pursed his lips into a smile: “You might not be able to realise your desires. I am here on a rescue mission, but I did not come alone.”
“Five hundred swordsmen are on their way here. You may be skilled, but how will you fight over five hundred swordsmen at once?”
“Simple: let Qingshu off. I cannot watch anyone inflict harm on the successor to Moonlit Night Sanctuary.”
Hong Jiu folded his arms.
“Have you decid-”
“I didn’t have to think about anything in the first place. The only ending I will accept is seeing Ling Qingshu brought before the magistrate court.”
“You asked for it!”
Hong Jiu stood unflinching despite the lightning-fast sword tip inching closer.
Clang! Liao Baishou’s sword stabbed a youth, who suddenly appeared in front of Hong Jiu, in the face, yet the sword bounced off as though it struck a rock.
“Ow, ow, ow, you almost put a hole in my face,” grumbled Fourth Brother, rubbing his cheek.
“How did it go?” queried Hong Jiu.
Fourth Brother looked over his shoulder and winked.
Liao Baishou had qualms about attacking again despite the two individuals discussing something that went way over his head.
“You look flummoxed. I’ll have our men enlighten you. Come on out!”
A group of seven men donning black robes lightly stepped out from behind trees.
“We have eliminated the two hundred and thirteen people lying in ambush at the bottom southeast of the mountain.”
“Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s five hundred and nine swordsmen at Mount Night Net’s northwest have been exterminated.”
“Wh-what?” stuttered Liao Baishou.
“If we don’t even notice the enemy sneaking into our territory within a five kilometre radius, we deserve to be annihilated. However, since we discovered your forces, you deserve to die, so, please, prepare yourself.”
“Qingshu, I shall spearhead our escape… Qingshu?” Neither Ling Qingshu nor Ming Suwen was anywhere to be seen. Liao Baishou brayed, “Where have you hidden Qingsh-”
“I waited around for ages, and it’s already over. What a bore,” bemoaned a tall, lanky youth wearing spectacles with a golden string. He threw a heavy mace covered in black and scarlet liquid onto the ground.
Meanwhile, the six young masters accompanying Ling Qingshu were walking into the figurative sunset, waiting for Ling Qingshu to catch up whilst cursing. All of a sudden, they saw Hong Jiu, Third Brother, Fourth Brother and a group of individuals adorning black robes coming their way. Hong Jiu meandered over, smiling, and then threw Sword Manual Elder Bai Liaoshou into the ground, startling the souls out of the six.
“What do you want?! My father is Jiangxi’s Fish Intestine Sword!”
“Really? He’s a man worthy of respect. Fate must hate him to give you to him as a son. Actually, let’s check your blood to see if you are even his son.”
Usually, the young masters would have people apologising, if not grovelling, upon mentioning their parents, yet Hong Jiu raised a hand. As soon as the young master saw Hong Jiu raise his arm, he squatted down with his hands covering his head. Recoiling Wind Blade’s son dropped to his knees as others usually knelt before him, while the other five hurtled!
Hong Jiu took a lychee, which he prepared as rations for the war, out from his shirt, watching the four running as he took his time skinning his lychee. He dipped it in fresh water and stuffed in his mouth. Rejuvenated, he hurled three caltrops into the backs of three fleeing young masters.
“What did you even run for? Did you genuinely think you could escape?”
The young master who didn’t have caltrop in his back stubbornly belted, “My father, Soul Severing Spearman, will kill you!”
Hong Jiu stuck a caltrop in Soul Severing Spearman’s son, silencing him. As he continued skinning his lychee with a caltrop, he ordered his men to tie the six up into zongzis.
“How you feeling, young masters?”
“Wh-wh-what do you want?”
“What do I want? You should’ve considered the consequences when you violated the mother and daughter and slaughtered their innocent family.”
Despite the six lowering their heads, none of them showed any remorse.
“What do you want?!”
Done skinning his lychee, Hong Jiu cracked a smile: “Well, considering how sweaty you must be after all that running, I’d like to help you wash all that sweat off.”
The six had their meridians sealed and were tied up…
“H-Hero, please don’t throw us. Please no. We know we were in the wrong.”
“Wrongs aren’t something you admit to. Wrongs are something to be punished for.” Hong Jiu threw the lychee skin onto the ground and smashed back the lychee. “Throw them!”
On that day, six young masters were ruthlessly thrown into West Lake…
Ming Suwen fought off her pursuers as she fled, sticking to the edge to reduce the number of sides she had to fend off attacks from. The only one she needed to worry about Ling Qingshu, who was hounding her from behind. She knew Third Brother and Fourth Brother were with Hong Jiu, yet never once did she give them a holler.
Ling Qingshu originally wanted to assassinate Ming Suwen, but she, unexpectedly, started running away from where her backup was.
You’re an idiot for leaving his side. By the time they find you, you won’t even find her corpse after I drill her! I’ve never been humiliated so much in my entire life!
Ming Suwen picked up her pace again to shake Ling Qingshu off, creating a bigger gap between them. Owing to the conditions both of them were victims of, Ming Suwen couldn’t sustain a larger gap for long, while Ling Qingshu couldn’t close the gap. Ling Qingshu’s blistering rage was all that was spurring him to continue putting one foot in front of the other.
As soon as they arrived on habited streets, Ming Suwen barged into any building that came into sight. In no time, she sneaked into a large courtyard that was part of a flamboyant red property.
Ling Qingshu cornered Ming Suwen into a lady’s makeup room and sported a Chesire smile: “Let’s see you run now!”
Like a cat that’d lost its agility, Ming Suwen dropped onto the sofa and undid her hair, biting down on her bottom lip gently, springing Ling Qingshu’s little brother up.
“An indecent woman suits you best. We have a bed and blankets here. I’ll pound your brains out right here.”
Ming Suwen went through a variety of facial expressions, smiling victoriously to herself. With the majority of his blood dedicated to engorging his rod, Ling Qingshu reached for her exposed legs without a second thought. Suddenly, he smelt her scent zoom past him faster than when they were in the bamboo forest.
Ling Qingshu wasn’t so brain dead that he couldn’t suppress his lust. Alas, he already felt Ming Suwen’s kick connect him to the bed by the time he could do anything. She immediately sealed all of his main meridians at a speed he’d only witnessed from his shifu before. As she poked his meridians, she subjected him to numbvine green smoke, ensuring she had him incapacitated for several hours in the event he could unseal his meridians.
Very few met understood the prerequisites and what it meant for Ming Suwen to rank fourth behind Hero Shenzhou, Ming Huayu and Ming Feizhen as a pugilist.
“Y-you were putting on an act!”
Now I know why I had an uncontrollable urge whenever I faced her! Drats! Nothing I do can sway this wench. I can’t imagine any other woman doing what she does.
“When I turned three, I started searching for ways to have fun to stave of my loneliness because I realised I was different to others. As a result, I frequently ran into your kind,” rambled Ming Suwen, slowly undoing her robe.
“Wh-what do you want?”
“Take a guess.”
Instead of feeling turned on as he watched Ming Suwen undo her robe, he felt his spine freeze. After removing her outer robe, she didn’t wear another loose-fitting outer robe on, leaving her contours popping, and draped it onto Ling Qingshu. She gently wiped his sweat and shaved his beard as though he was her husband, yet beads of sweat condensed on his forehead. A hunch flourished in his mind, yet he didn’t want to imagine it was true.
“Wh-what do you want? Wh-what is this place?”
“A place where people find happiness. You will laugh just as you did that night you laid your hands on Jiu Shaozhang’s family. I bet you can already imagine it,” Ming Suwen cryptically answered, eyes sparkling. “Those with similar tastes all lnow this place. All the men who come here are burly men who love gentle ‘maidens’ servicing them. You’re pretty cute and handsome; you’d suit their tastes, don’t you think?”
“Wh-what is this pl-”
“Rear. Blossom. Brothel. A place where macho men seek the company of pretty boys.”
Ming Suwen jabbed Ling Qingshu’s speech meridian, impeding his speech. In a raspy and quiet voice, Ling Qingshu cursed, “Y-y-you crazy wench!”
“Don’t be so mean. You and I are one of a kind,” teased Ming Suwen. “If I hit you or killed you, you wouldn’t even bat an eye. As a matter of fact, you might even try to go out as a man, and it disgusts me to even think about it. There’s nothing to be proud about if you don’t fear death; dauntless people are so common that it’s not worth bragging about. Execution isn’t the best punishment even if one fears death. I have infinite ways of inflicting trauma worse than death. My cousin always told me, ‘Enlightening one is the way to lead.’ You can experience how the mother and daughter felt in the flesh.”
Ming Suwen cleared her throat and called, “Miss Qingqing here is looking to serve a guest.”
“You filthy wench! My father is Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s Ling Hanzhong!”
Ming Suwen sealed Ling Qingshu’s speech for good: “Save your energy for clenching your chrysanthemum.”
A chubby merchant in Huzhou, notorious for abusing his women and killing three of his wives, burst through the door. Since men were sturdier than women, he found joy in being able to unleash his sadism fetish on men dressed as women – not that any woman ever got together with him again. The merchant energetically scrutinised Ling Qingshu, who had a healthy physique, some light makeup and was still a virgin – his back door, of course.
The merchant tossed ten silver taels onto the table and gave Ling Qingshu a big hug, smothering the latter in gag-inducing sweat. The merchant ran his hand over Ling Qingshu’s body then dipped it in his mouth for a suck. Ling Qingshu’s legs appeared as if they were diagnosed with epilepsy.
Hapless, all Ling Qingshu could do was glare at the maiden sitting on a chair and relishing his misery.
“My surname is Ming. My full name is Ming Suwen. If you manage to survive, you’re welcome to come seek revenge anytime. I… am more than happy to send you back here.”
Fish Intestine Sword – The name comes from the historical sword forged during Eastern Zhou that was said to be small enough to be placed inside a fish, hence the name. Among the ten most famous historical swords in ancient Chinese history, it is ranked eighth most famous and was King Helyu’s favourite sword.