Slaughter in the Hail (Part 2)
“Nine Nether Sunless Gorge, a gorge where the evil wind forever looms. When the moon shines on a void, the blade slaughters countless men.” This was how they praised one of Demon Sect’s three guardians and the second greatest broadsword wielder in all the land. Even though Demon Sect’s prime is now history, Blade Demon remains a taboo name in the pugilistic world, and anyone who mentioned it would suffer a vicious beating.
Blade Demon had enemies across the Central Plain, in Nanjiang, Western Regions and over twenty kingdoms of Zongyue. The only things deterring them from hunting him were the difficulty of finding him and finding a way to beat him. Those who had tried to hunt him ended up with their head and body in separate places. Not even Emperor’s Entourage, Qilin Guards or Liu Shan Men wanted to take responsibility for taking him into custody. As a result, those bearing grudges against him decided to take it on those affiliated with him. The only person he could get along with is the man who was his equal in Demon Sect, Lord San Shen, though. Ask them to sign a contract to fight Lord San Shen, and they’d shatter their four hundred metre record. Hence, they went after the man’s disciples.
While Zhong Hanli hastily bandaged Lyu Chunyang’s wounds, Li Tieguai watched the man armed with the broadsword he finally had a clear visual of. “M-may this one ask if you are from the west or south?” inquired Li Tieguai, trying to hold his gaze with the man’s emerald eyes that petrified him.
Although Blade Demon passed on his broadsword style to four people, only two of them were spoken of in the pugilistic world, one of whom came from Western Regions and the other Nanjiang. One of them was renowned for his expertise, while the other was notorious for his depth of knowledge of the style.
The man let a smile come to his rather pale face. “Not bad. South.”
Sombre would be putting Li Tieguai’s thoughts lightly. “Is your surname Moyan?”
The Moyan surname originated from Nanjiang’s Myriad Feathers Moyan Broadsword Sect – which was Nanjiang’s equivalent of Luo Sword Manor. Demon Eyes Sect used a broadsword as their emblem and etched an asura demon eye onto all of their broadswords, even naming their broadswords asura broadswords. That was the reason there are dozens, if not a hundred, variations of asura broadswords in Nanjiang’s martial world.
Moyan Broadsword Sect’s patriarch – Moyan Luohou – was once ranked fifth among the best broadsword users in all the land, yet Nanjiang was displeased, citing regional discrimination because he actually came from far away.
Twenty years ago, Moyan Luohou challenged Blade Demon for three days, but nobody besides them knew the outcome. After their duel, Blade Demon broke his rule to only accept only one disciple and took in Moyan Luohou’s only son, who was nine years old, as his disciple.
“Haha, you sound like you’ve heard the name Moyan Xiuluo. That being the case, I suppose you also know you can’t leave alive.”
Li Tieguai and Zhong Hanli didn’t need to communicate to know the other would do everything in their power to protect Lyu Chunyang. Their silent escort who remained in earshot the entire time voiced, “Please wait. As you have taken Lyu Chunyang’s weapon, you have won. You are not permitted to continue attacking them if they do not resist. Otherw-”
A gale blew the escort’s veil up, and a sonorous travelled into his ears from behind. Lyu Chunyang would’ve had to chop the tree to cut through it so smoothly, yet Moyan Xiuluo did it without needing to physically cut the tree.
“The last bamboo hat chatterbox yapping about rules this and rules that is now headless.”
“Y-you killed him?!”
“And?” Moyan Xiuluo zipped in and grabbed the escort’s face with a hand. “Remind me what noble means Luo Ming used to invite everyone? Demon Eyes Sect lost fourteen asura broadswords and fourteen members in three consecutive years. You think you can convince me Luo Clan is innocent?”
While the escort shrilled, Moyan Xiuluo continued, “I will be disqualified for breaking the rules? I need to make it to the finals to collect Luo Ming’s debt. I don’t have time to waste on qualifications. I can’t hear this rule you’re talking about, nor do I know what you’re trying to say. Tick me off, and you deserve to lose your head. That’s the rule. If I don’t know the rules, I can’t break them, right? Don’t you people from the Central Plain say the ignorant are innocent?”
Moyan Xiuluo stopped himself when he could’ve made good on his promise and looked over his shoulder. “Now that’s what I call a fight…”
Nobody but Moyan Xiuluo sensed the energy rampaging through the woods or heard the “Amitabha” and “Empyrean Wuliang” rolling off the tongues of the two locked in combat.
“Correct.” That was genuine praise from Yu Feiyuan.
Su Xiao sheathed Ancient Cold and wiped his sweat exuberantly. “Thank you, Sister Yu.”
Yu Feiyuan took another nibble of her roast potato skewer, a mannerism that wouldn’t typically be associated with her terse character. “Your internal energy is quite potent, but you overemphasise speed. Always bear in mind that swinging without having the control to pull back means you are not in control. If you are frenetic, you cannot be proficient. It is no different to taking wild swings and not being able to pull back to cover yourself when needed.”
Hours before the downpour, when Shen Yiren went after Ming Feizhen, Huofeng decided to lie that she also fed Shen Yiren the same pill as Ming Feizhen and needed to keep her buried for three days to cover for the two. Neither Su Xiao nor Yu Feiyuan was worry-free about burying them, especially given the image of the two being buried together. To distract them, Huofeng urged Yu Feiyuan to teach Su Xiao as repayment.
Staying true to character, Yu Feiyuan agreed to coach Su Xiao as an act of honour, but that also culminated in a daylong session. Su Xiao got the most out of the session thanks to Huofeng and Lian Qingluan wiping out any challengers that could’ve distracted the two from the session.
Yu Feiyuan was the perfect teacher for Su Xiao as, unlike Ming Feizhen or Ming Suwen, she got to the point and delivered lessons explicitly. Thus, Su Xiao started addressing Yu Feiyuan as Sister Yu, much to the chagrin of her two jealous sisters.
In spite of foregoing sleep for a day, fatigue was a foreign feeling to Su Xiao, who learnt to control his internal energy better. Harnessing the full potential of Wutong Jin Yuxuan’s Solid Jade Snow was predicated on being able to control one’s output just as jumping and spinning haphazardly without balancing the two led to failure. That was another reason Yu Feiyuan had a way of teaching Su Xiao the art of control.
“A thousand more repetitions before you are allowed to rest.”
Su Xiao: “…”
“I can only teach you how to control your internal energy. The broadsword style Brother Feizhen taught you is unique. I can’t responsibly teach you since I don’t know what style it is.”
Su Xiao didn’t question Ming Feizhen’s identity only because he knew about Yu Feiyuan and Ming Feizhen’s friendship – as well as previous engagement. “Brother Ming taught me this, but I can’t figure it out, and he refuses to elaborate.”
“Sometimes, I don’t understand what he says, either.”
The two had a cosmic moment, grabbing their chins and musing.
“Indeed, his broadsword style is different.”
Su Xiao cowered upon seeing who spoke.
Huofeng sprang to her feet and clutched her sword: “If you three know we are from Wutong Jin Yuxuan, are you deliberately picking a fight?”
“I have no issue with Wutong Jin Yuxuan, but I do have a grudge with Su Xiao. Please do not get in our way,” Lie Shang responded.
Lian Qingluan offered a palm and fist salute: “It is an honour to meet you, Hero Lie.”
“Greetings, Elder Xiao,” Huofeng greeted.
Su Xiao pointed in the face of the third individual and thundered, “What are you doing here, Zha Pi?!”
Yu Feiyuan jolted and then peacefully nibbled on her potatoes.
Ming Feizhen recommended Zha Pi, Xiao Huangquan and Lie Shang join forces since Zha Pi would be safe with Xiao Huangquan. Unfortunately, Xiao Huangquan couldn’t stop Lie Shang from trying to get revenge on Su Xiao.
“Come over here, kid. Let’s see how good you are.”
Yu Feiyuan stated, “Hero Lie, Su Xiao is this great one’s friend. Wutong Jin Yuxuan insists on protecting him. Weigh your decision carefully.”
“Wutong Jin Yuxuan is a Buddhist sect, yet they are shielding a man. Are you not worried about people defaming you and your sect, Interim Patriarch Yu?”
Huofeng scoffed, “If you think that’s how you implement a provocation technique, you wouldn’t even trigger a foot soldier. If it’s a fight you want, do your worst. We may be women, but you don’t scare us. What sort of man just rambles all day long?”
“Please heed this old one’s advice.” Xiao Huangquan voiced, “Though Brother Lie and this old one are on a team, we are only working with you to make up the numbers. Frankly, he does not like this old one’s drinking habits, while this old one does not like his inclination to pick fights. If you three wish to fight him, feel free. This old one will not help either side.”
Reverend Zha: “This one shall not involve himself, either. He shall retreat a hundred steps to show his stance.” In other words, “I’m getting out of the danger zone.”
“Everyone done talking? Let’s fight!” Lie Shang drew his broadsword. “Let’s see if Wutong Jin Yuxuan is as good as they claim!”
Lie Shang was a fast mover. Yu Feiyuan was an unmovable fortress. Lie Shang had no alternative but to follow the momentum Yu Feiyuan projected forward on one hand to absorb her force.
I never believed the rumours that she’s undefeated in Jiangnan and catching up to her shifu, but I can’t brush her off now.
Lie Shang inhaled and bound forward: “This is this one’s ultimate move. Beware, Interim Patriarch Yu.”