Saturday, 16 January 2016

Chapter 92 - Mantis [The mantis stalk the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind]


Wild Dog Taoist followed Ghost Li, trudging deep into the death marsh.

Because of the heavy rain earlier in the day the initial soft loose soil turned extremely muddy. But after Ghost Li met up with Qin WuYan and Jin PingEr, he insisted not to use magical weapon to fly and instead to travel by foot.

It seemed like Jin PingEr and him were the same, both apprehended about something.

If this was in the past, Wild Dog Taoist would naturally let loose a torrent of abuse and minimally at least complained incessantly but right now, he seemed lost in his thoughts and did not even speak a single word, quietly following behind Ghost Li and that instead made Ghost Li curious.

Ghost Li looked at Wild Dog Taoist’s distracted expression, suppressed his voice and indifferently said, “What’s with him?”

These words seemed to be for himself because other than the water plants and ponds that looked icy-cold in the death marsh, there was no other person at all, other than the monkey, Xiao Hui, on his shoulder.

And it was Xiao Hui, who was looking drowsy before and after hearing Ghost Li’s question, like being stimulated, it suddenly became excited. Its extremely intelligent-looking eyes rolled around and suddenly, jumped down from Ghost Li’s shoulder and started to dance.

This strange behaviour, even Wild Dog Taoist, who was following behind, also got a shock and looked towards it.

Xiao Hui [Zi zi] and grinned, danced to Ghost Li and then its eye turned and suddenly leapt to the small pond beside them. It held up some water from the pond and dripped onto its own head instead, and then using its fingers  to point towards the sky, jumping up and down.

Wild Dog Taoist fixed his stare on it and walked to Ghost Li and said, “What happen, this, this monkey is it mad?”

Ghost Li instead frowned and spoke quietly to Xiao Hui, “Raining?”

Xiao Hui was extremely delighted, nodded its head in succession and then broke a leaf from an unknown plant and brandished it on its head, as if blocking something. It then twisted its body to make a pose, twisting here and there and as if acting in a play, the leaf from its right hand changed to its left and then from left to the right.

Wild Dog watched and watched, suddenly he felt an unexplainable feeling of guilt. He stared at that weird monkey and spoke to Ghost Li, “Crazy, crazy, this monkey must be crazy.”

The monkey Xiao Hu flung the leaf away and then within two or three jumps, leapt back to Ghost Li’s shoulder. It  pointed to the direction that they had came from, [Zi zi zi zi] calling out incessantly.

Ghost Li remained silent for a while and then slowly turned over and looked at Wild Dog Taoist.

Wild Dog Taoist forced a smile and said, “Why, why did you look at me for?”

Ghost Li’s gaze sneaked a look at his bundle on his back and indifferently said, “When it rained just now, did you lend your umbrella to, to, “ speaking until here, he frowned slightly and looked at Xiao Hui, thought for a moment and said, “You lent your umbrella to that fortune-telling young lady to shelter from the rain?”

“Zi!......”

Without waiting for Wild Dog Taoist to answer, Xiao Hui who was on Ghost Li’s shoulder had already jumped up, looking very excited, the monkey smiled until its eyes narrowed up.

Wild Dog Taoist’s face turned red and then white, looking extremely embarrassed. Suddenly he pointed at Ghost Li and angrily shouted, “Stinky brat, I tell you, your Taoist Uncle used to kill people like flies, those who died at my hands are no less than one thousand, if not eight hundred……”

Ghost Li glanced up at him and with a look that showed he did not even care, turned and stepped forward, indifferently saying, “Whether you have killed one thousand or eight hundred, what does it have to do with me?”

Wild Dog Taoist’s breath stopped, he could not carry on his initial bragging to boost his vibes. Ghost Li was heard speaking slowly from ahead, “Then again, even if you have killed one thousand or eight hundred, what does it have in relation to you lending the umbrella to that young lady?”

After he had spoken, he stopped walking and turned back to look at Wild Dog Taoist.

Wild Dog was stunned, as if facing a powerful opponent, he said, “What, what do you want to do…...no, what did you say?”

Ghost Li appraised him and suddenly laughed, he said, “But ever since after the Forsaken Abyss, you have surprised me again with this matter!”

“......Unexpectedly you will also perform such hero-save-the-beauty stuff!’

Wild Dog Taoist stared at him dumbfoundedly and until he recovered, Ghost Li had already walked off with Xiao Hui, his figure almost vanishing ahead into the haze.

Wild Dog Taoist looked at that direction then suddenly leapt up in anger, stamped his feet and said, “Pei, your father, I, have always been a bad egg and have never done such a thing in my life, and furthermore, to say that the young girl is considered beauty…...uh!”

Wild Dog Taoist scratched his head and suddenly stopped while frowning. After a long while, as if talking to himself, he said, “Actually that young girl looks not bad……”

Speaking such words, Wild Dog Taoist seemed surprised at himself and suddenly shook his head violently and cursed softly. He walked ahead in big strides towards the direction where Ghost Li had gone to catch up, soon he disappeared into the gradually thickening night haze.

Silence all around, the sky gradually darkened and the darkness invaded, slowly swallowing everything.

The other side of the death marsh.

Evil Faction Chang Shen Hall leader YuYang Zi in a robe of white, hands clasped behind his back and looking up into the sky, the night breeze in the death marsh blew, gently fluttering his robe. His bearing like a celestial immortal.

Other than his left hand, the empty sleeve adding a few degrees of inexplicable humour.

That Qing Yun Hill battle, he unfortunately was hurt by the world’s number one remarkable sword - the mark by Zhu Xian.

The night breeze carried some chill and the air still seemed to carry the humidity from the earlier heavy rain. The darkness filled the surroundings but only his figure was proud and conspicuous.

In the darkness behind him, indistinctly breathing sounds were heard. Those were his sect’s men,  hiding in the darkness and patiently waiting for his order.

Evil Faction Chang Shen Hall rose to prominence eight hundred years ago and until YuYang Zi this era, it was already the seventh generation. they had came a long way but nobody knew better than YuYang Zi, that behind this grand view the danger that Chang Shen Hall faced.

No successor!  

In the Qing Yun battle ten years ago, YuYang Zi was elected to be the in-charge by the other three powerful branches of the Evil Faction. That was the prime and pinnacle moment of Chang Shen Hall’s reputation in the Evil Faction in these hundred years and at that time, YuYang Zi was complacent. In addition he had also several favourite highly-skilled disciples which he had painstakingly trained for the past hundred years.

At that time, YuYang Zi really thought there was nothing that could obstruct him in this world, only with one stroke he would route the decrepit and outdated Qing Yun Sect and Chang Shen Hall’s reputation would naturally awe the Evil Faction. With his own capability and with his highly-skilled disciples, in the next eight hundred years Chang Shen Hall would become the second Blood Forger Hall and him, would become the second Elder Blackheart!

Just that, all of these glorious dreams, on Qing Yun Hill under the Zhu Xian Sword, became bubbles!

He himself lost his left hand in the Zhu Xian Sword formation, not to mention the severe loss of his skills. And because Chang Shen Hall was leading the attack, all of his highly skilled disciples were naturally in the frontline, the fights with Qing Yun Sect various elders leaders at TongTian Peak took down half of his men and after that when the Zhu Xian Sword formation started, the remaining Chang Shen Hall disciples again suffered heavy casualties. Only a few survived the battle, the whole sect was considered almost practically wiped out.

In this world everything could be easily obtained but the hardest was talents, especially the ones that were painstakingly trained by yourself and totally trustworthy!

In these ten years, YuYang Zi worked his heart’s out and Chang Shen Hall gradually started to turnaround but in YuYang Zi’s heart, that shadow in his heart grew bigger. The battle of Qing Yun almost totally destroyed the main force of Chang Shen Hall and in the past few years, if not for YuYang Zi he himself possessed powerful cultivated skills and managed to suppress the enemies who were lying around covetously eyeing his sect and especially seven years ago, he made a decision there and then, disregarding objections from his men and forcefully relocated the headquarters to this desolated death marsh, far away from the other three powerful branches reaches, nobody would know in the end, what would be their end results.

But just one month ago the increasingly intense internal fight within the Evil Faction screeched to a sudden stop and the last capable small-medium branch Blood-Forger Hall was also eventually subdued by Ghost King Sect and everyone had since positioned their stance. After a short temporary and breath-stopping peace, YuYang Zi’s instinct predicted that very soon the next intense internal fight would break out between the four big powerful branches.

After all in the countless Evil Faction disciples’ hearts, the figure of Elder Blackheart unifying the Evil Faction and marching unhindered all over the world eight hundred years ago had already became an eternal legend!

But legend was still a legend and right now at this moment, to Chang Shen Hall and even to YuYang Zi, their situation was extremely unfavourable. Limited by their capability, in the internal fight for the small and medium-sized branches, Chang Shen Hall were unable to join in, as such over time, the differences between their strength and the other three powerful branches were stretched even further. This matter lay heavily in YuYang Zi’s heart and he almost could not sleep.

Also at this moment, as if the Heaven had opened its eyes, the signs of the birth of a rare treasure suddenly appeared in the death marsh just beside Chang Shen Hall. YuYang Zi was pleasantly surprise, if they could really obtain a rare treasure like Qing Yun Sect’s ‘Zhu Xian the Ancient Sword’ then the survival of Chang Shen Hall would not be a problem and then from there, they could make plans to expand and who knows they might still have a chance to come back.

Under such circumstances, Chang Shen Hall viewed the rare treasure in the death marsh as something that was already theirs and would never allowed others to encroach on it. Just that the news was somehow leaked out and within a few days it had already cause a stir in the world, immediately the world viewed it with fear and the Good and Evil Faction experts, one by one, gathered in the death marsh.

YuYang Zi was shocked and angry but right now he could not turn back. Therefore Chang Shen Hall full force was assigned into the death marsh, on one hand to search for that rare treasure location and on the other hand, to watch and kill those that came. In the past few days, the number of people that were secretly killed by Chang Shen Hall in death marsh were no less than a dozen and among them, there were individual Good Faction celestial being and also highly-skilled disciples from the other Evil Faction branches.

For the sake of his own sect’s survival, YuYang Zi could not care less!

This night YuYang Zi received his sect’s secret report, a group of Good Faction men had set up camp near the ‘Bottomless pit’ at the periphery of the death marsh and were getting ready to spend the night there. And in the next few succession of reports from the scouts, YuYang Zi’s face became colder and colder, in his heart he already knew who those people were.

Those were the young and elite disciples of Qing Yun Sect, initially there should only be a dozen or more men but after hearing the scouts’ reports, the number of people were already more than a dozen and with them, there were monks and people dressed in FenXiang Valley clothes. YuYang Zi frowned tightly and breathed deeply, he gazed out far ahead, as if waiting for something.

After a long while, a light footsteps sounded in the darkness behind him, a shrewd gaunt middle-aged man walked to YuYang Zi side and YuYang Zi immediately turned around and faced him, obviously this person’s status was special.

This middle-aged man’s name was MengJi and he was one of the elite disciple of Chang Shen Hall YuYang Zi and also one of the few Chang Shan Hall disciples that survived the Qing Yun Hill battle, therefore he was one of the people that had YuYang Zi’s deep trust. Right now one of the reason why YuYang Zi still could not make up his mind was also because he was waiting for this person to come back.

MengJi bowed to YuYang Zi, YuYang Zi shook his head slightly and said, “Forget it, dispense with courtesy, how is it?”

This question was asked out of the blue but MengJi obviously knew the meaning of YuYang Zi’s question, he quietly said, “Subordinate have already brought men to Black Water Trench and White Horse River which are on the other side of the death marsh to search but did not find any signs of the Ghost King Sect, Wan Du Clan and HeHuan Sect men arriving in force, only a few lower-ranked figures were found and subordinate already handled them.”

YuYang Zi perked up and a smile appeared on his face for the first time, he nodded and said, “Good! As such we have no more concerns, tonight we will attack those uppity young people from Qing Yun Sect, Tian Yin Temple and FenXiang Valley in full force. First get rid of these people then the Good Faction will be powerless to vie with us again!”

But MengJi did not seemed delighted, instead he seemed worried. He hesitated for a while and eventually still say, “Sect leader, but three days ago news from our undercover men stationed near Big Wang village reported that it seemed like Ghost Li and Qin WuYan has already arrived, furthermore HeHuan Sect Jin PingEr’s location has always been uncertain, we cannot not be wary!”

YuYang Zi’s face twitched, revealing indignation, he hatefully said, “How would I not know, those Good Faction people only want that treasure while those people from Wan Du Clan, Ghost King Sect, what they want is my life!”

MengJi trembled but did not reveal what his thoughts, he looked uncertain and quietly asked, “Sect leader, then what shall we do?”

YuYang Zi humphed, breathed deeply and relaxed his body, he said, “By now we can’t turn back already. Taking the advantage that Wan Du Clan, Ghost King Sect and HeHuan Sect men has not arrived, we first settle those Good Faction brats then search for the treasure in full force. Looking from the signs in the past few days, this must be an extraordinary treasure, once we obtain it, we don’t have to fear the other three branches!”

MengJi bowed his head and said, “Sect leader is brilliant.”

YuYang Zi nodded his head slightly and turned around, calmed himself down and focused. He then stretched out his only right hand, waved heavily once into the darkness and immediately the shadows assembled. In a short while a big group of Chang Shen disciples appeared, moving with ease to make a long-range raid towards the direction that YuYang Zi’s finger pointed.

The boundless night, bleak with an aura of death!

Death marsh, bottomless pit.

The stretch of land looked like a piece of flat ground during the day but nobody knew why it had such a strange name. Unless they were the villagers that had lived for years near the death marsh, then they would know that in the middle of these lands, a big piece of land that looked the nothing different from the rest, all overgrown with wild grass, was actually an enormous bottomless pit. And in it, suction power of the sludge was extremely strong and if a ordinary  person stepped in unaware, he would be suck in in less than a moment and then from there without any trace rotted silently under the deep marsh.

Therefore the reason for the death marsh name was because in the marsh, these type of horrible silent killers were numerous!

But these young Good Faction people were obviously not ordinary people.

Qing Yun Sect group of people travelled for a few days in the death marsh and in-between met Tian Yin Temple and FenXiang Valley disciples, the three parties joined together and contrary to expectations, they saw familiar figures.

Tian Yin Temple had FaXiang, FaShan as leaders and among FenXiang Valley, there were Li Xun and YanHong. But just that after meeting up, their relationships became greatly different. Xiao YiCai as the leader of Qing Yun Sect disciples got along harmoniously with Tian Yin Temple disciples and they chatted merrily but over at FenXiang Valley instead, there were some estrangement feelings with these two big sects, as if they purposely maintained their distance.

The delicate reason within, everyone knew in their hearts but on the surface, they were still courteous and the three sects worked together, for justice and morals, kill the evil and eliminate the demons, exterminate the Evil Faction!

This night, the group of people stayed near the bottomless pit for the night. After starting up the bonfire and reminding the junior brother and sisters again not to wander off on their own, Xiao YiCai then invited Tian Yin Temple FaXiang, FenXiang Valley Li Xun to a corner and quietly discussed.

And at this moment, Li Xun was frowning slightly, a disdain expression in the recesses of his eyes but his expression still maintained an amiable look, he quietly said, “Xiao senior brother, perhaps you worry too much?”

Xiao YiCai smiled and said, “If Li senior brother have any brilliant suggestion, please say! My humble self will respectfully listen.”

After Xiao YiCai and FaXiang’s attention were on him, Li Xun paused for a while then said, “I thought our forces are formidable after our three sects entered the marsh, the disciples that Chang Shen Hall sent out were all routed by us. And ever since from the Qing Yun battle, Chang Shen Hall highly skilled disciples are all either dead or injured, other than the YuYang Zi holding up the fort, the rest are really not worth any consideration. Instead Xiao senior brother said there will be danger tonight, isn’t it too much?”

Xiao YiCai after remaining silent for a while, said, “What Li senior brother said makes sense. But in Evil Faction Chang Shen Hall, YuYang Zi Sect leader’s skills is extremely powerful. Just him, we cannot let our guard down. Other than that, from the time Chang Shen Hall rose to prominence and ranked as the Evil Faction four big powerful branches until today, it has already been eight hundred years long. As the saying goes, the centipede does not die easily and beside they are determined to get this death marsh’s rare treasure, the dog might be desperate enough to jump over the wall, we better be careful!”

FaXiang nodded and said, “Xiao senior brother words makes sense, we really have to be careful.”

Li Xun saw that both of them were saying the same things and so felt it would not be appropriate to add on but he had an arrogant characteristic and it revealed in his eyes, he indifferently said, “Then according to both senior brothers, how shall we proceed tonight?”

FaXiang looked at him and was taken aback, he turned to look at Xiao YiCai  but Xiao YiCai behaved as if nothing had happened, as if he did not notice and still smiled and said, “Li Xun senior brother is indeed brilliant, with brother’s talent, in the future if the matter was accomplished, Li senior brother must remember the first merit.”

LiXun smiled and actually did not thank him modestly.

FaXiang who was standing beside, saw Xiao YiCai’s expression remained the same regardless of anger or happiness, suddenly that youth ‘Zhang Xiao Fan’ figure flashed past his eyes, if only he was also here today, how good it would be……

He felt an inexplicable pain in his heart and softly sighed, in the background he heard Xiao YiCai quietly started to make arrangements and quickly focused to listen, Xiao YiCai suppressed his voice and softly said, “Both senior brothers, today we……”

The night seemed to darken even more.

The night in the death marsh seemed to be enveloped by the black clouds or maybe during each night, this enormous death marsh would generate a haze.

Sheets and sheets of grey mist in the night air, not to mention the moon, even a single star also could not be seen.

Near the bottomless pit where the Good Faction young disciples were resting, other than a few bonfire ashes remnants struggling to burn, everywhere was quiet, not a single sound.

Indistinctly looking into the darkness, those Good Faction disciples were curled up into their clothes and covered their whole body tightly. After all these young people’s cultivated skills were not enough to stand the death marsh night chill that seeped into their bones.

Chang Shan Hall disciples silently surrounded these people in all directions, quietly waiting for YuYang Zi’s command in the darkness.

YuYang Zi slowly stretched out his only right hand.

Standing beside him, MengJi suddenly quietly said, “Sect leader.”

YuYang Zi’s hand paused, he felt slightly unpleased but as MengJi was an important figure in his heart, he controlled his temper and said, “What is it?”

MengJi seemed to sense YuYang Zi’s resentment but after hesitating for a moment, he still said, “Sect leader, look at these Good Faction people. How come there is not even a single night guard around?”

YuYang Zi was stunned for a while and then sarcastically said, “These brats, ambitious and arrogant, these few days I executed plans to make them underestimate the enemies, they have already thought we are useless and totally disregard us at all. It is not surprising to see that there are no night guards!”

MengJi’s expression changed but eventually he kept quiet.

YuYang Zi did not pay attention to him again, his right hand flipped and a strange mirror with black and white sides appeared in his hand. He then flew up into the sky and drew a brilliant light streak across the night.

All of the Chang Shan Hall men cried out at the same time, reverberated far in the night, swarmed forward with immeasurable murderous aura!

A faint bleakness, in that dying light remnant.

The last ash at this moment quietly extinguished!

Swallowed up by the darkness!

After a moment, suddenly a clear and sharp sound [Qiang Lang] rang out like dragons singing.

A stream of jade-green light, a stream of blue light, a stream of golden light, a stream of white light and a stream of green light.

Five streams of brilliant strange lights, at the night black screen, like a sharp sword piercing the firmament, suddenly appeared in the deepest corner of the darkness and charging towards the Chang Shen Hall men.

And behind their back, even more brilliant light rays, appeared one by one.

YuYang Zi saw it all, his face turned extremely pale!

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