Desolate Sword Dance
Neither Tang Ye nor Yi Wangyou took any damage in the exchange since Yi Wangyou’s sword was an ordinary one, while Tang Ye imbued his instrument with True Blood Yang Qi.
“Where did you learn True Blood Yang Qi from?” questioned Yi Wangyou, twanging his sword with a flick.
“That’s ten exchanges.”
Yi Wangyou maintained his clutch on his sword. While outsiders might not have seen the flaws of Kunlun Swordplay at a glance, Yi Wangyou was aware its flaws, yet he couldn’t spot the flaws when Tang Ye utilised the style. Yi Wangyou, intrigued, had a desire to see more of what Tang Ye was capable of. Hence, he deliberately slowed down to turn it into a technical bout as opposed to one decided based on physical superiority. Before he knew it, they had already engaged in seventeen exchanges.
Dugu protested, “Patriarch Yi, you must honour your word as the patriarch of a sect. Now that the conflict has been resolved, you cannot strike again.”
“Indeed, I did say so.”
“Patriarch Yi, you don’t mean to let the scum off, do you?” urged Green Prince.
Long Zaitian let a smile bloom on his face: “Brother Fatty, you are going to dishonour Patriarch Yi if you keep pushing him.”
“The conflict between my master and him is settled; however, my issue with the young man isn’t,” asserted Yi Wangyou.
Tang Ye cracked a proud smile: “I accept your challenge.”
“I’ll accept punching you into next week!” Long Zaitian smacked Tang Ye over the head and stepped in between the two revving to fight. Smiling politely and offering a salute, Long Zaitian opined, “This conflict arose without any reason in the first place. Might your chubby friend have misunderstood something? He came in cursing and accusing Brother Tang here of things we have no clue about. Brother Tang may be a handsome man, but he is honest to a fault, not the promiscuous type.”
“I believe that. From the look in his eyes to his decisive reactions, he does not give the impression of a man who would steal another’s wife. I believe my master has the wrong man. That is not the reason I sparred with him, either.”
“What? You don’t believe m-”
“This one is here for the Lantern Festival, which he believes you must also be here for. This one merely chose to fight to eliminate a potential challenge in the future.”
“If he’s not withholding any information, we must be forthright for we can’t afford to affront him,” inwardly analysed Long Zaitian. “It is an honour to see you exercise transparency. In saying that, you must uphold your promise to wipe the slate clean after those ten exchanges.”
“Hey, are you ignoring me? What Lantern Festival? What about my wife Cui Ping? Yi Wangyou, if you don’t dismember the son of a b-”
“Master!” interjected Yi Wangyou, a man known for being upright. Yi Wangyou was one of the few people who could put Green Prince in his place when the latter overstepped boundaries, thinking he could boss people around. “This is no trivial matter. Please watch over my master, Young master Luo.”
Luo Siming concealed his smile behind his hand: “Understood.”
Yi Wangyou then stated, “This one will uphold his promise. In saying that, this one must find out where the young man learnt his sect’s style from.”
Learning the skills of a school without permission was a serious crime in the martial world, serious enough for sects to wipe out another sect as a means of protecting their secrets. Ming Huayu took a beating when he stole the manuals from various skills. Luckily for him, he was sly enough to dupe people, though he was still a wanted criminal for it. That was the other reason nobody heard from him in decades.
As not even Long Zaitian knew who Tang Ye’s shifu was, he had no rebuke to offer. To add, the issue had transcended the scope of the imperial court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, nobody with the imperial court helped any further.
“… I swore to never tell,” Tang Ye voiced.
“Your execution of Demon Subduing Swordplay is commendable; I was unable to see any exploitable flaws. Who taught you Kunlun Swordplay?”
“I learnt it by myself.”
“My sect’s swordplay must be child’s play for you to have learnt it in one glance.”
Long Zaitian assuaged, “Brother Tang has an incredible aptitude for learning martial arts, Patriarch Yi. He knows numerous styles; it is perfectly reasonable for him to combine styles.”
“Wow, this one has the honour of meeting the second Hero Shenzhou. Okay, let’s go with the story that you are endowed with remarkable potential and remember anything you see with one look. How do you explain your Yang Blood True Qi?”
“He used one of Kunlun Sect’s three treasures, Yang Blood True Qi? Are you serious?” blurted Luo Siming.
“Yes. Yang Blood True Qi is my sect’s secret internal strength mental cultivation style. As experienced martial artists yourself, can any of you tell me a breathing technique in a single glance? You may not know, but it is an exceptionally challenging style to master, yet he has mastered it at his young age? Young Man, if you treasure your life, you better explain yourself!” threatened Yi Wangyou, whipping his sword.
Mount Kunlun is located close to the western border and snows almost all year round, yet Jiujing Yulan City, a city built behind high walls to ward off the cold for disciples to reside in offered four seasons there and a much friendly temperature. Although the city took them years upon years to build, it was undoubtedly worth it.
Before Jiujing Yulan City was built, Kunlun Sect’s disciples had to bear the brunt of the cold, yet they had to sit stationary in order to practice their breathing exercises. As a result, those with weak internal energy would fall ill – if not die. On the upside, those who weathered the harsh training would be elites amongst internal style adepts. All that being said, it wasn’t a feasible or reasonable situation to accept.
When an ancestor of Kulun Sect started to research the legend of the mountain on Mount Kunlun, an epiphany led to him using his essence and blood as triggers to draw on the yang qi within his body. Unlike refining one’s qi, refining blood was a hundred times harder. Frankly, the idea bordered on unorthodoxy during the era he came up with it. Devoting the remainder of his life to polishing the skill wasn’t enough to complete it, leaving it in the hands of his descendants to continue exploring. It ended up taking generations to finally be perfected.
Yang Blood True Qi was invented with the intent of providing warmth against the harsh cold, which was why every disciple was permitted to learn it. Had it not been for its conception, they would’ve never had the means to construct the city. Nobody, however, foresaw disciples abandoning it once the weather issue was resolved, resulting in their sect’s power, as a whole, diminishing. In their defence, they wouldn’t have the prestige they had now if the cold would kill them off. To commemorate its enormous contribution to the sect, it was listed as one of their sect’s three treasures.
Their disciples stopped learning Yang Blood True Qi for the most part as it was difficult and the risk to benefit ratio, especially when learning the Scorch Blood Yang Conversion method, wasn’t worth it. After all, letting Yang Blood True Qi circulate without control would torch the meridians in their body, meaning they ran the risk of losing everything they learned up to that point and never being able to use any internal skills for life.
The second reason their disciples ditched the skill was because they needed to learn the skill in a freezing environment, such as where it was originally pioneered. They, nevertheless, didn’t want to put themselves through the wringer after the warm weather in the city pampered them. The point of training in the cold was to have the cold negate the torment of having their body suffer the heat during Scorch Blood Yang Conversion. The fact wasn’t detailed in the manual for Yang Blood True Qi since its inventor never factored it into the equation. The pioneer of Yang Blood True Qi presumed those after him would also grow up in the same conditions. In his generation, a world where it was warm enough to melt ice was unheard of.
Of course, there were some who had the physical and mental gifts, such as Yi Wangyou, to learn Yang Blood True Qi. Sadly, they were far and few between. Even then, Yi Wangyou only just made it over the line when he reached Scorch Blood Yang Conversion phase as he didn’t actually refine all of the blood and essence in his body. That became his downfall in his future development for he couldn’t harvest the equivalent results of someone who more of their blood and essence.
“I cannot tell you,” Tang Ye responded.
“Thought so. You might be able to seal you mouth, but let’s see if you can hide it in combat!”
Yi Wangyou imbued his sword with Yang Blood True Qi, ready to go all out this time. Tang Ye dropped the erhu in his left hand to reduce some weight, sticking to wielding just the stick fiddle.
Tang Ye initiated, starting with a judge’s bush’s style and then switching to single-hand broadsword, while Yi Wangyou stuck to Demon Subduing Swordplay, shaving off the wooden stick fiddle and letting the wind take the fragments away. Those to the left of the battle zone could feel the heat each stroke produced between the two.
Right after something snapped, Tang Ye performed a swift whip, prompting Yi Wangyou to guard with his sword. Even though Tang Ye’s stick fiddle snapped upon impact, Tang Ye managed to bend the iron sword a tad.
Yi Wangyou wanted to capitalise on Tang Ye’s unarmed moment, but he suddenly noticed a pain in his right hand’s meridian, loosening his grip on his sword, a sign Tang Ye caught him with Yang Blood True Qi.
What appeared to be a test of weaponry proficiency was actually a contest of true qi, where the winner was determined according to whoever was physically stronger. Accordingly, Tang Ye proved his version was more polished for he managed to burn Yi Wangyou’s meridian.
Growing up at Clear Mirror Palace in Beihai, Tang Ye had the opportunity to train at a natural pool of water that was colder than ice – Bone Melting Pool. By their regulations, only the leader of each generation had the privilege of using the pool for their training.
Although Tang Ye was a tyrant as a kid because nobody in his age bracket could hold a candle to him, he was still a kid at heart. One day, he and a group of friends sneaked into the pool and inadvertently fell in. Had the reigning patriarch not happened to show up right after he fell in to commence her training, he would already be dead. Ever since the nightmare, Tang Ye suffered from the cold qi that penetrated his body and couldn’t be excreted.
A visiting adept from Kunlun Sect happened to learn of Tang Ye’s ordeal and took pity on the boy, subsequently teaching the eight year old boy Yang Blood True Qi, hoping the boy could use it to excrete the cold qi from his body once he mastered it. The adept resumed his world tour once he taught Tang Ye what he could teach, never returning to Mount Kunlun. For that reason, not even Yi Wangyou knew about the event.
As a result of his mishap, Tang Ye was the victim of bouts of torturous cold that only Yang Blood True Qi could counteract. After his father passed away, he began the wandering phase of his life, dealing with starvation and cold weather. The constant exposure to cold weather and his ailment led to Tang Ye focusing his efforts on mastering Yang Blood True Qi, leading to him learning it faster than previous learners. The punishing weather worked in his favour when he reached Scorching Blood Yang Conversion phase for the reason that it alleviated the pain. The results of his training couldn’t be disputed when he convincingly beat Yi Wangyou in a contest of Yang Blood True Qi, much to the confusion of the latter.
Tang Ye didn’t press the attack while Yi Wangyou was disconcerted, not because he didn’t want to but because Yi Wangyou also rocked him, stalling his blood and qi circulation, resulting in difficulty breathing, let alone moving. While Tang Ye proved his version of Yang Blood True Qi to be winner, Yi Wangyou had over twenty years on him in the internal energy department. The bigger concern for Tang Ye, though, was what Yi Wangyou used to rattle him as it wasn’t Yang Blood True Qi.
“Who exactly taught you Yang Blood True Qi? Even I can’t figure out your version. Do you refuse to tell me?”
“The person who taught me told me never to tell anyone, and I will keep the promise.”
“That being the case… I won’t pursue the matter any further.” Right as everyone was going to drop their guard, Yi Wangyou switched from the aura of an ordinary man to a venerated patriarch, overshadowing Tang Ye’s previous win, and added, “Since you refuse to explain yourself, this one has an obligation to take it from you. It’s not a competition but justice.”
Tang Ye felt as though a weight was thrown onto him.
“Grab a weapon. I do not fight an unarmed man.”
Yi Wangyou immediately made his move once Dugu kicked a sword up. Tang Ye caught the sword but suffered a short circuit for he couldn’t sight any opening, a feeling he only once felt up against Ming Feizhen to date. Yi Wangyou’s force and speed ostensibly increased with each centimetre it travelled to Tang Ye’s eyes.
“Are you just going to accept death?”
Regaining his fighting spirit, Tang Ye retaliated, switching between Kunlun Swordplay, Beihai Swordplay and Six Harmonies Swordplay, styles that were supposed to oppose each other.
“Flashy but impractical!”
Yi Wangyou took his sword along an arc and then cut down in the centreline, stuffing Tang Ye’s movement.
“Do not stop until you find your target once you have started a strike. Did your teacher not teach you that?!”
Like a possessed man, Yi Wangyou’s every movement seemingly moved the firmament, sword exuding the aura of a sword from aeons ago. His mere intent put Tang Ye’s disorderly style to shame with its calculated movements. They called this style Desolate Sword Dance – the signature style of Kunlun’s strongest.
Noticing Tang Ye’s pinch, Long Zaitian inwardly scoffed, “That’s why I keep telling you not to be full of yourself. If he gets serious, none of us can save your behind!” In the end, though, Long Zaitian couldn’t just sit back and shouted, “Take this!” tricking Yi Wangyou into mistaking the former was going to swing but actually threw the broadsword to Tang Ye.
Armed with his a broadsword in his left hand and a sword in his right hand, Tang Ye started dual wielding. Yi Wangyou had to rely solely on the sounds of the blades to evade for his eyes couldn’t keep up.
“Impure, incompetent. You think traditional swordplay passed down through the ages is inferior to you haphazardly throwing techniques out at random?!” To prove his point, Yi Wangyi performed a single swing, sending cold sweat down Tang Ye’s back. “You think the techniques and philosophies of every sect are designed for you to kill time? Every style is structured based on countless experience, test, research and refinement. You can give average pugilists trouble with the variety in your arsenal, but your disorderly approach is useless against an adept.”
Indeed, Big Bro always defeats me before I can determine what technique to use. Patriarch Yi must be seeing what Big Bro sees.
“So what if you learn every style in the world? Did the one who taught you Yang Blood True Qi not teach you this?” Even though Yi Wangyou, who isolated himself to Mount Kunlun’s snowy mountains to concentrate on honing his skills, constantly denounced Tang Ye’s style, he kept dialling up his speed, running through the twelve moves of Desolate Sword Dance. “Victory is achieved in a single strike!”
Yi Wangyou bound forward, while Tang Ye had been forced into a posture that exposed him to the former’s incoming attack. Thus, Tang Ye crossed his broadsword and sword overhead. Still, the downward impact of Yi Wangyou’s swing rocked Tang Ye hard enough to internally damage him.
“It’s time you gave up my sect’s skill that you didn’t legitimately learn!”
Nobody could move fast enough to stop Yi Wangyou’s next swing as Kunlun Sect was a skill as renowned for their qinggong as their swordplay.
“Young Man, I will severe the nerves in your limbs as penance for stealing my sect’s skills. You have no one to blame!”
Thump! Yi Wangyou suddenly went back in the opposite direction he came faster than he advanced. Surprisingly, he blustered, “Who got in my way?!” letting others know he didn’t retreat but was knocked back.
“That’s my question. How do you expect me to rest with this ruckus?” A young man ambled down the stairs and fumed, “I’m the owner around here. What do you want?”
Checking his body for injuries, Yi Wangyou curved his lips up: “This one heard Young Master Zhong has been meeting with Jiangnan’s heroes and demonstrated he is an erudite on weapons as well as divination that Wudang’s elder yields to. This one has been looking forward to meeting you…”
“Would you happen to be the one they call Sword Immortal Wangyou – Patriarch Yi, Yi Wangyou?”
“This one already introduced himself. Aren’t you j-”
“Zhi Heng, Ying Xie, Ye Shu and Ao Xue must be Luo Sword Manor’s Four Samuume Swordsmen, correct?”
He noticed the four’s presence when I never noticed them?
Even though he was smiling Ming Feizhen intimidated Luo Siming when they locked eyes.
“You must be… Luo Sword Manor’s young master.”
Sparks and lightning formed between Ming Feizhen and Luo Siming’s eyes.
“You really ar-”
“This one is Luo Yang’s Mingming. It is a pleasure to meet everyone.”