Chapter 15: The Grand Master of the Honor Manor
Just when Yi Ping had taken a step forward, Liu Qingcheng said gravely to him. “The first challenger should be me. My fight with Gu Tianle has not ended yet. You should wait a little while longer, young man.”
Liu Qingcheng stepped forward and raised his fists.
Many of the pugilists in the hall shook their heads.
Priest Bai Chongzhen said, “Brother Qingcheng, you are not his match. It not worth it to lose your life over a small matter…”
Priest Ling Kongquan said, “It is really not worth it, let us go now…”
Gu Tianle said, “You should use your long sword.”
But Priest Liu Qingcheng had already attacked Gu Tianle with his Tranquil Fists as he said, “No need!”
Gu Tianle dodged the intricate strokes of the Tranquil Fists and raised his palm forward and struck Priest Liu Qingcheng hard!
Priest Liu Qingcheng parried in time but he lost his footings and he was forced to take seven steps backward!
The martial difference between the two of them was too great.
Gu Tianle had displayed his famous ‘Ultrapowerful Force Hand’ and it was all it was required to push back Priest Qingcheng!
Yi Ping saw that stance before when he first met Gu Tianle. It was like an irresistible attack and he remembered he had to parry it three times to steady himself, only this time Gu Tianle was not showing any mercy at all.
Gu Tianle immediately seized the attack opportunity and he flew to Priest Liu Qingcheng again with another strike!
All of a sudden, Priest Liu Qingcheng had counterattacked with his Tranquil Fists again.
Gu Tianle was surprised that his martial force seemed to be neutralized by Priest Liu Qingcheng Tranquil Fists!
Everyone had thought that Priest Liu Qingcheng was a goner but all of a sudden, Priest Liu Qingcheng and Gu Tianle was suddenly on par and had exchanged more than thirty strokes nonstop!
Priest Ling Kongquan was stunned as he thought, “When did older protégé brother becomes this good? This is still the Tranquil Fists but it seems to be alive now. It appears as if he has become the Tranquil Fist and the Tranquil Fists is him.”
Even Priest Bai Chongzhen gasped, “This is the true strength of the Tranquil Fist? It is too amazing!”
Actually Priest Liu Qingcheng had no confident. But when he had successfully parried Gu Tianle’s ‘Ultrapowerful Force Hand’, his doubts disappeared and his confidence grew.
With the Tranquil Spirits intricate formula that he had earlier learnt from the Celestial Fairy, his Tranquil Fists seemed to improve and grow more and more intricate as he fought even though he did not have the martial power of Gu Tianle!
Gu Tianle was astonished. He really could not understand why each time he was so close to sound the death knell for Priest Liu Qingcheng, his very attacks would seem to be neutralized at the last moment!
Yi Ping was staring at the fight with excitement. This was a rare fight between two top opponents! Their attack moves, their defending moves, their swiftness skills and evading skills were all too intricate and extraordinary!
Not only Yi Ping, all the other pugilists were awed into silence as more than three hundred moves had passed between Gu Tianle and Liu Qingcheng. Whoever could endure to the very last would win!
All of a sudden, Gu Tianle struck Priest Liu Qingcheng with an explosive force on his chest and he was sent flying away!
Priest Bai Chongzhen and Priest Ling Kongquan immediately executed their swiftness movement skills and caught hold of Priest Liu Qingcheng!
Priest Liu Qingcheng muttered before he fainted, “I hope I didn’t disgrace the Tranquil City…”
Priest Ling Kongquan said gravely as he trembled, “Older Protégé Brother, you did very well…”
In the end, the martial power between Gu Tianle and Priest Liu Qingcheng was still too great a difference.
Yi Ping prayed that Priest Liu Qingcheng condition was not critical as he stepped forward, “Now it is my turn!”
Ji Lingfeng sighed silently, “Yi Ping you…As much as I want to extract vengeance on Gu Tianle, he is really above our league. Moreover, there are other top exponents in this hall too. You are really too impatient…”
All of a sudden, there was a malevolent aura that seemed to come from Zuo Tianyi.
Everyone seemed to have sense his malevolent aura and turned to look in his direction.
Zuo Tianyi had unsheathed his long sword and he was walking slowly towards Yi Ping as he said slowly, “Old Senior Gu needs a small rest first. Why don’t we spar for a while first?”
Yi Ping looked at Zuo Tianyi and said, “I don’t mind.”
Gu Tianle said solemnly, “I don’t need a rest.”
But Zuo Tianyi had already walked in front of Yi Ping and there seemed to be a forbidden killing malevolent around him.
Gu Tianle thought, “This is a good opportunity to see how good this new protégé master of the Infinity Sword Clan is.”
So he said, “If I fight with this young man, I afraid I will be mocked by everyone in the fraternity and accused of bullying him. But since Young Master Zuo wants to teach him a lesson, I will relent.”
All of a sudden, there was loud earth-shaking laughter coming from the end of the hall! The internal strength of the person was astonishing powerful! The weaker pugilists immediately felt dizzy and their vital energies were disrupted!
Who else possessed such almighty internal strength?
It was Gongsun Bai!
When Gongsun Jing saw him, he immediately said respectfully. “Father!”
The grand hall was filled with a resounding shout by the protégés of the Honor Manor, “With great respect to the Grand Master of the Honor Manor, with great honor to the Grand Master of the Honor Manor!”
Yi Ping looked hatefully in his direction.
Gongsun Bai was an imposing bearded man in his fifties and he was dressed in finery. He was heavily muscled and of strong build.
He began to look at everyone in the grand hall; everyone could feel the piercing gaze of his sweeping stares!
The legs of many of the pugilists became jelly and many looked to the ground in discomfort.
Gongsun Bai said imposingly, “Who has dared to injure a member of the Honor Manor. Don’t you know this is my domain? Do you know my rule?”
All eyes turned and looked at Yi Ping, who remained standing relentlessly without flinching.
Zuo Tianyi said, “I am about to teach this insolent fellow a lesson on behalf of the Honor Manor.”
Gongsun Bai stared fiercely at Zuo Tianyi and said, “Who do you think you are that you think you can act on behalf of the Honor Manor?”
The pugilists immediately feared for Zuo Tianyi. It was because no one made any decisions for Master Gongsun Bai. He was always the master and the rest were his subordinates!
Zuo Tianyi smiled bitterly and said, “I am who I am. The enemy of the Honor Manor is my enemy as well. The friend of the Honor Manor is my friend.”
Gongsun Bai stared at Zuo Tianyi for a while before he said, “Very well. You are indeed a righteous knight errant like your grandfather. This congregation is partly held in honor of the Old Sword Saint. You may teach this young man a lesson on behalf of the Honor Manor.”
He then proceeded to sit on the golden throne.
Even though the majority of the pugilists were uncomfortable with Gongsun Bai arrogance but there were nothing they could do. It was because Gongsun Bai was the most powerful man and the Honor Manor the most powerful martial clan in the martial fraternity for the past ten years!
While the Old Man Zuo the Sword Saint was still alive, the seven major orthodox clans could still stand on equal footing with the Honor Manor. But now, they were no different from a second tier martial clan, which had almost all submitted to the Honor Manor!
Zuo Tianyi said, “Then I thanks Master Gongsun for this honor.”
He turned and looked at Yi Ping before saying coldly, “I am Zuo Tianyi. What is your name? I do not kill nameless fellow.”
Yi Ping looked at everyone and said aloud, “I am Yi Ping.”
Zuo Tianyi looked past Yi Ping and looked at Ji Lingfeng.
When Ji Lingfeng saw Zuo Tianyi looking at her, she averted her eyes again.
Zuo Tianyi said to Yi Ping, “I will like to see how outstanding you are.”
Yi Ping drew out his long sword without hesitation. He thought, “Even if I were to die today, I must never disgrace my father.”
Ji Lingfeng looked at Yi Ping and seemed to want to say something but she hesitated.
Zuo Tianyi displayed his sword stance, the Infinity Pose Stance and pointed his sword towards Yi Ping from the top of his head while his left fingers were posed and readied with the sword finger stance.
Yi Ping readied his sword to the top of his head too and lifted his palm in front of him, with the Divine Horizon Hand Stance.
Both stances were similar but had a subtle difference.
The weird thing was that both continued to stand in this tiring pose for some time.
Zuo Tianyi was waiting for an opening to strike against Yi Ping but his opponent stance surprised him. It was similar to his. This type of stance was the perfect defensive sword stance, able to defend from the top to the feet at the quickest time.
Moreover, Yi Ping’s stance had no opening for him for an instant win.
Therefore he waited for Yi Ping to be tired and soften his stance or to attack him. But that did not happen. Zuo Tianyi thought, “This young man is a practicing swordsman too? It looks like this battle is not going to end fast.”
Yi Ping broke the silence and said, “Are you going to attack or not? I am still waiting! I have never heard of a challenger who is a tortoise!”
Zuo Tianyi had recognized Ji Lingfeng and he could tell that she had her eyes only on Yi Ping.
If Yi Ping were to fight against Gu Tianle, he would surely lose his life. Therefore he had decided to interfere so that he could find a way to get him out of this awful situation.
He had thought, “This young man did not know his limits. He dares to offend the Honor Manor? Even the Infinity Sword Clan dare not offend the Honor Manor…interesting.”
But Yi Ping’s sword stances intrigued him more and aroused his interests…
Zuo Tianyi was amused, “I have never known a person that can’t wait to die.” And he instantly displayed a dancing barrage of sword strokes.
Yi Ping attacked with the Horizon Swordplay and met stroke for stroke!
When Gongsun Bai saw that Yi Ping had displayed the Horizon Swordplay, his stares turned murderous and this was noticed by Ji Lingfeng.
Ji Lingfeng sighed softly and she could feel a terrible ache in her heart, “Yi Ping, Yi Ping…perhaps we shouldn’t be here at all. I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have brought you here…”
It was not wrong to say that Zuo Tianyi was one of the top swordsmen in the martial fraternity and his swordplay was extremely fast and lethal! No one expected Yi Ping to hold his ground against Zuo Tianyi but he did!
Everyone began to hold their breath as their sword techniques became faster and more extraordinary!
However the older and experienced pugilists were able to see that Zuo Tianyi was attacking more and that Yi Ping was defending more. Therefore it was not wrong to say that victory would eventually belong to Zuo Tianyi!
Yi Ping was amazed at Zuo Tianyi swordplay and he almost lost his focus.
The duel amazed the pugilists. Zuo Tianyi swordplay was steady and calculating. It was as though there was no weakness in his swordplay while Yi Ping swordplay was so fast like lightning that the sword tip of his sword vanished from sight!
The Infinity Swordplay was a swordplay that split from one stroke to a great multitude of sword strokes, with each splinter hiding additional strokes and secret techniques. That was how it got its name. Those that did not know the origin of the Infinity Swordplay would not be on guard against it and would often lose, the price of losing was often heavy; death or maimed.
Few pugilists in the fraternity had recognized the Horizon Swordplay. The meaning of the Horizon was to strike beyond the horizon and out of the blue from somewhere. Only a few pugilists presented like Gongsun Bai, Yue Yuan and Gu Tianle had recognized it!
Gu Tianle expressions turned deadly solemn. It was because twenty years ago, Gongsun Bai, Jue Yuan and he had ambushed Yi Tianxing together. They had thought that he was dead and had no more descendants. And this young man had the same surname Yi as him.
Zuo Tianyi was secretly surprised that he had used more than sixty strokes and yet to defeat Yi Ping. This was a huge loss of face in front of the crowd and a loss of prestige among the swordsmen that were presented.
Few opponents had rarely forced him to use beyond the Infinity-Seven and this Yi Ping had forced him to use too many of his secret techniques in front of the crowd.
As soon as he got the opportunity and the opening that he needed, he immediately displayed the Infinity-Three sword stroke!
Just when Yi Ping swung his sword to parry it, there was a burst of cold energy from the tip of Zuo Tianyi sword.
Yi Ping was caught by surprise by the sudden cumulative brilliant flare of Zuo Tianyi’s sword stroke and reacted slower. He was instantly sent flying backward by the tremendous martial force of the Infinity-Three!
Just when Zuo Tianyi had thought that he had won, he was stunned to see Yi Ping was on his feet again!
He immediately raised the martial power of his Infinitude Recite to its zenith and developed it into multitudes of sword energies that charged his long sword!
The pugilists could feel the chilling cold energy that was radiated from Zuo Tianyi and they were all forced to take several steps backward!
Shangguan Qingyun, the Old Protégé Master of the Divine Sword Martial Clan was stunned. He had dedicated all his life to the sword and yet he could not breech through the physical forms of his swordplay and attain the sword energy form.
He had thought that Old Man Zuo the Sword Saint was an exception and there would be no others in the future. But this Zuo Tianyi who was barely thirty had already achieved the sword energy form!
Zuo Tianyi had used the Infinity-Two! The Infinity-Three was a sword stroke that merged the physical form and enveloped the sword with deadly sword energies while the Infinity-Two was an even higher stage that enveloped the practitioner with sword energies aura.
Zuo Tianyi had wanted to conceal his true strength but when he had met a worthy opponent, he had actually forgotten about it.
When Yi Ping had stood up again, he was stunned. It was because it seemed that he was not affected by his sword energy!
He had even forgotten that it was just a mock duel and had raised all his martial power to its zenith!
When Yi Ping had been struck by Zuo Tianyi sword energy, it felt as though his vital energies had been dispersed and he thought he was going to die. But all of a sudden, he felt a smoothing and renewed energy flowing through his entire body! Unwittingly, Zuo Tianyi attacks had helped him to clear his Conception Vessel and the Governing Vessel temporary, two of the most important eight wondrous meridians!
Zuo Tianyi immediately thought, “He is protected by a body impervious force?”
The truth was that Yi Ping was protected by the Icy Heavenly Tears Intricate Energy that was inside him, which was similar to the cold piercing sword energy.
That was why when Zuo Tianyi had raised his Infinitude Recite to its zenith, Yi Ping was still unaffected!
Even Ji Lingfeng was stunned as she thought, “He is unaffected by Zuo Tianyi’s sword energy?”
Yi Ping could see the visible energy that radiated from Zuo Tianyi and from his sword. He did not notice that everyone else had been affected by the unnerving cold piercing of that energy.
In fact, he did not even realize he was the only one that could see the invisible sword energy other than Zuo Tianyi!
Yi Ping raised his spirits with the Divine Revelation and imbued his long sword with the martial power of the Asper Invocations Intricate Recite to its zenith. He knew that Zuo Tianyi martial power was at its zenith too and he dared not be careless. He could not afford to die before he could avenge for his parents!
Even before Ji Lingfeng had recovered from her astonishments, Yi Ping had attacked Zuo Tianyi with the Horizon Swordplay, as mirror images of his sword flew against him!
Zuo Tianyi raised his Infinity Swordplay and in that split second, he had executed thirty-six strokes followed by eight-one strokes of the Infinity Swordplay!
The two swordsmen clashed against one another so fast that there were clashes of brilliant light that the pugilists could hardly see their body movements and even their sword strokes. In fact, no one had believed it was possible to achieve such supernatural speed and attacks!
The pugilists could only held their breath in awe as they watched their spattering blood that flew in all directions amidst the dozens of brilliant lights and ear-shrieking clashing sound that rung nonstop!
Ji Lingfeng could not hold back her tears anymore as she saw their blood flying in all directions even though it was impossible for her to see whose blood was it.
Even renowned swordsmen like Young Master Qiu Wufeng, the Heartless Scholar, Shangguan Qingyun and Old Priest Yan Nanfei the protégé master of the Zen Sect was astonished. It seemed to them that the swordplay level of Zuo Tianyi was at a much higher progression than they had thought!
Nangong Le was even more startled. He had never thought that the new friend that he had just befriended possessed such unfathomable swordplay and his martial level was not beneath that of a young master of the martial fraternity!
He began to sigh as he stole a glance at the tearful Maiden Lingfeng, “If this Yi Ping does not die, I really do not have any hope.”
And so he silently rooted for Zuo Tianyi but he was saying to Ji Lingfeng, “Maiden, Brother Yi Ping will surely be alright and be blessed by the Heavens above. Don’t worry…”
All of a sudden, a sword flew with such sudden speed into the midst of Yi Ping and Zuo Tianyi that it broke their fight!
Both Zuo Tianyi and Yi Ping began to stagger several steps backward as they stared at a beautiful long sword that not only broke their fight by piercing through them; this beautiful long sword had even rebounded against the wall and was thrust into the ground that had just divided them!
They were both bloodied and covered with numerous sword wounds but they were still staring in utter disbelief at this beautiful long sword that was thrust into the ground!
They had sensed and saw this sword flying towards them. Both had exercised their martial power to deflect this sword away but instead of deflecting this sword, both were pushed away by the martial force that was imbued in this flying sword!
They simply could not believe their very eyes that a weapon without a master could withstand the zenith of their martial power at the same time!
Most pugilists could not tell from their bewildered expressions. But they were stunned that a long sword from nowhere could interrupt the duel and rebounded with such almighty force against the wall; it was able to thrust itself precisely into the same ground that it had interrupted the duel!
Ji Lingfeng did not care for all these. She simply flew to Yi Ping embrace and took out her handkerchief. She began to clean his wounds as she asked, “Hmph Yi Ping, are you alright? Why are you so foolish? You should know your limits and where we are…”
Yi Ping nodded silently and he could feel exhaustion seeping in…
Ji Lingfeng said, “Don’t try to talk. Adjust your breathing first…”
It was as though they were alone in the grand hall and many of the pugilists were filled with envy especially Nangong Le and Qiu Wufeng.
Zuo Tianyi had suffered fewer wounds than Yi Ping but he too, was drained of his martial strength once he had stopped. He was immediately supported by his clan protégés to his seat!
Zuo Tianyi was staring in shocked silence at his trembling sword. He could not believe that he could fail to deflect this flying sword given his martial strength and almost lost his grip too…
Gongsun Bai was enraged as he thundered aloud, “Who is that? Since you are already here, why don’t you come in?”
Almost all the pugilists immediately guessed that it would be a super exponent that used a sword but none could guess who was it given that almost all the renowned top exponents were here.
A wrinkled old man in his seventies with an empty scabbard and a demure maiden with a long sword were standing in front of the entrance. The old man was dressed in a simple gray robe while the demure maiden was also dressed in a simple outfit but it still could not hide her attractiveness.
It was obvious it was the old man that had threw the beautiful adorn long sword.
When Zuo Tianyi saw the demure maiden, his eyes almost popped out…
Gongsun Bai said solemnly, “Do you know the rules of the Honor Manor? Are you courting your own death? Did you throw that long sword?”
The wrinkled old man smiled, “I didn’t throw that sword but so what if I did?”
Gongsun Bai asked, “You didn’t throw that long sword?”
The wrinkled old man looked at everyone in the hall and his eyes lingered at Ji Lingfeng for some time before he laughed aloud, “Did anyone of you see me throwing a long sword? How do you throw a long sword?”
Gu Tianle the One-Armed Warrior-God said, “It is obvious that you are here to find trouble. Who are you and where did you come from?”
Then he shouted to the guards, “Why didn’t anyone of you stop him? Summon all the guards later; I will flog them twenty lashes!”
Gongsun Bai said, “There is no need to check. They are all dead. There is a heavy stench of blood around this old man. Who are you and where did you come from? If you don’t give me a reasonable answer, don’t expect to leave this place alive.”
All of a sudden, the wrinkled old man raised his hand and slapped the demure maiden hard on her left cheek and she fell onto the ground!
Her left cheek immediately turned red and there was blood snoozing from the tip of her delicate mouth.
Venerable Master Deng Zhong, the Head Abbot of the Monument Monastery immediately said, “Why did you hit her for? You have to be reasonable!”
He was not the only one who had reacted in that instant.
Nangong Le, Qiu Wufeng, Gongsun Jing and many others were all startled and were feeling indignant for the demure maiden.
All of a sudden, it seemed that the entire congregation was united again!
The wrinkled old man said, “I am unreasonable? Just a moment ago, you are all demanding for her blood. She is the one that throw that sword. I have merely passed her my sword but she has failed to announce herself and interrupted the duel. This is just a small punishment for her.”
This demure maiden was the one that threw the long sword? No one in the grand hall believed such a blatant lie!
The demure maiden had quietly picked herself up and stood beside the wrinkled old man once again.
Yi Ping was angry and he scolded the wrinkled old man, “No matter, you shouldn’t have lifted your hands on her! Who do you think you are?”
The crowds were all experienced pugilists with vast experiences in the fraternity. Most of them would not act rashly for fear of offending the wrong person. And Yi Ping was scolding this wrinkled old man! Even Gongsun Bai had yet to berate this old man yet!
The demure maiden looked up and looked at him intently.
The wrinkled old man said to Yi Ping, “Young man, are you sick of living already?”
But before Yi Ping could say a word more, he was dragged away by Ji Lingfeng who had struck him on his back!
Ji Lingfeng nearly fainted from Yi Ping boldness. She pulled him back to the side and said nervously, “Yi Ping, this is between Gongsun Bai and this old man. Don’t get drag into this.”
Yi Ping was already seriously injured, sustaining both serious external and internal injuries. When Ji Lingfeng had struck him hard onto his back, his entire vision became a blur!
He could only mutter, “Whose side are you on again…”
Gongsun Bai said, “Don’t let me repeat myself again. Who are you?”
The wrinkled old man looked at the demure maiden and smiled for a while.
When they followed the glance of the wrinkled old man, they were stunned to see the bruises on the demure maiden face had totally vanished! It was as though she had never been slapped!
The wrinkled old man said, “I am Xiao Shuai, the Master of the Virtuous Palace.”
When the pugilists heard the name of the Virtuous Palace, there was a sudden great silence in the grand hall.
Gongsun Bai solemn face had flinched for an instant.
The Virtuous Palace was one of the three most forbidden places in the entire fraternity and was located in the Far East Fraternity. It had rarely interfered in the affairs of the martial fraternity. Few pugilists ever bothered with the Virtuous Palace, for those that tried to enter its forbidden premise had never made it back alive.
The Virtuous Palace was renowned for a type of swordplay known as the Flying Sword Swordplay. Was that the Flying Sword Swordplay that was displayed earlier?
No one had really seen the martial skills of the Virtuous Palace or knows how astonishing the martial level of its practitioners were.
Gongsun Bai said, “The Honor Manor and the Virtuous Palace have no dealing with one another whatever so. The Virtuous Palace has rarely meddles in the martial affairs. So what do you want?”