Chapter 26: Memories
All of a sudden, there was a powerful malevolent aura that seemingly came from another direction.
Yi Ping, Gongsun Jing, Qiu Wufeng, Xiao Youxue, Ding Yunzi and Lie Qing looked towards that direction and saw a man with a sword walking silently towards them!
Yi Ping had recognized him to be Zuo Tianyi!
Zuo Tianyi said coldly, “Whoever tries to lay a hand on Maiden Ding, I will kill him.”
Ding Yunzi gasped, “Tianyi…”
Qiu Wufeng spit out, “So it is young master Zuo Tianyi. Are you here to take our lives too? I have great respect for the old sword saint but you are just a lackey of the Honor Manor!”
Zuo Tianyi said coldly, “I don’t care what the Honor Manor wants but since you have the intention of killing Maiden Ding, then don’t blame me.”
He looked at Yi Ping and said, “We seem to have an unfinished duel.”
Yi Ping said, “Indeed! But unfortunately I have no wish to fight you and I don’t have a sword.”
Zuo Tianyi looked at Yi Ping coldly, “You can always borrow one. With or without a sword, I will not hesitate to kill you.”
Lie Qing stole a glance at Ding Yunzi before saying to Zuo Tianyi, “I am afraid if you really want to kill Yi Ping, Maiden Ding will never forgive you.”
Zuo Tianyi asked, “What do you mean?”
Lie Qing smiled, “That is because Yi Ping is our protégé master now. If you want to kill Yi Ping, then you have to fight the three of us too.”
Zuo Tianyi was taken aback, “He is your protégé master now?” He looked at Ding Yunzi for answers. He had always thought that Ding Yunzi was from the Virtuous Palace and that Xiao Shuai was her protege master.
Ding Yunzi said coolly, “That is so.”
Qiu Wufeng immediately knew by now that these three maidens were not his enemies. So he was relieved as he said quickly to the three maidens as he bowed respectfully, “Even though my martial skills are weak, I will gladly fight on your side!”
Lie Qing looked at Qiu Wufeng as she said, “At least you have some courage and willingly to stand by Yi Ping or else I would have killed you instantly earlier.”
Qiu Wufeng smiled bitterly at this mesmerizing maiden who was rebuking him fiercely. But he immediately thought, “If I were to be killed by her, it may not be a bad feeling after all. After all, I have lost everything now…”
Gongsun Jing was stunned as he said, “You are all on the same side!?”
Zuo Tianyi stared at Gongsun Jing, “Then I have to kill only you instead.”
Gongsun Jing looked at Yi Ping and said, “Brother Yi Ping, you got to help me!”
Yi Ping rubbed his nose as he looked at everyone before he said to Gongsun Jing, “I don’t wish to help you because what you want to do is not an entire chivalrous act. Everyone knows that Gongsun Bai had been oppressing the orthodox fraternity for many years…”
Gongsun Jing shifted uneasily.
Yi Ping said, “Even though you have the nick of Gongsun Jing the Benevolent and is different from your father. But that is not what everyone thinks.”
Gongsun Jing looked down in guilt. It was true. He had known of his father lofty ambitions for a long time and had even tried to persuade him to take a more benevolent path but his father had scorned at his advice.
Yi Ping looked at Zuo Tianyi as he continued, “Moreover, I don’t want to make enemies of Zuo Tianyi. The Zuo and the Yi Clan had been acquaintances for many generations. We are not enemies in the first place and why should it turned into a feud?”
Zuo Tianyi nodded slightly. He knew that was the truth. It was because the Infinity Sword Clan had adjusted its swordplay three generations ago to counteract the Horizon Swordplay. And when they had dueled, he had found Yi Ping to be very familiar as though they had dueled before. The reason that they had fought to a standstill was that both of them knew how to counter one another’s swordplay as though they had fought before on numerous times!
That was also why Yi Ping’s father, Yi Tianxing knew the Infinity Swordplay so well that he was able to forewarn Yi Ping that the Horizon Swordplay could be broken by the Infinity-First Swordplay.
Finally Yi Ping said to Gongsun Jing as he smiled bitterly, “Your father had courted his own death and refusing to let Xiao Shuai go. It was a fair duel. Even without Maiden Ding interfering, do you think your father would able to win against Xiao Shuai?”
Gongsun Jing said solemnly, “If Maiden Ding had not interfered, the outcome would still be uncertain!”
Zuo Tianyi said coldly, “That was not what I have seen.”
Gongsun Jing asked, “What do you mean?”
Zuo Tianyi said coldly, “Even before Maiden Ding had struck your father, Xiao Shuai had already penetrated through his Invincible Divine Force!”
Gongsun Jing said, “That is impossible. There were so many eyes in that hall that day. Xiao Shuai attacks cannot possible penetrates through my father’s Invincible Divine Force!”
Yi Ping said, “That is because your eyes are not sharp enough. If Gongsun Bai could even deflect Xiao Shuai’s flying sword with his bare hands, do you think that Maiden Ding’s flying sword could even cut through his arms at all? That was because at that very instant, his Invincible Divine Force had already been breached!”
Gongsun Jing was stunned. Why he had not thought of that?
He finally said, “You guys have already thought of that?”
Xiao Youxue interrupted as she said, “They didn’t and didn’t have to. They just witnessed it. Why did you think that Gu Tianle and the rest of the protégé masters of the various major orthodox clans did not bulge at all when Gongsun Bai was killed? It was because their eyes were quick enough to see it themselves.”
She knew because she was there too but remained hidden from view! That was why she knew that Yi Ping may be courting his own death and took a gambit to lure Xiao Shuai into the Honor Manor!
She added, “The one that really killed your father is Xiao Shuai. I have heard that even Gu Tianle and Jue Yuan is hunting you. You can’t even avenge against Xiao Shuai, Gu Tianle and Jue Yuan yet you are looking to avenge against Maiden Ding? You are really courting your own death!”
Yi Ping said, “Moreover, even if the two of us added up together, do you think we can win against the sword in her hands?”
Yi Ping still shivered when he recalled the battle with her. He had only accidentally won when she had sprained her ankle at the wrong timing!
He did not dare to look into Maiden Ding’s eyes directly as he said that. It was because he very well knew that she was toying with him even though he had already used up all the strokes of the Horizon Swordplay! He was now worried that he may hurt her feelings if he was too close to her. The same went for Maiden Xiao Youxue and Maiden Lie Qing too…
Yi Ping said coolly, “You have to decide if you want to avenge against her now or want me as your sworn brother.”
Gongsun Jing looked at everyone slowly. It was the hardest decision that he had ever made in his life.
Actually when he first seen Maiden Ding, he had already been attracted by her quiet demeanor and air. When she had stormed into the Honor Manor with Xiao Shuai, he was in fact worried what would happen to her fate. What he had not expected was that Xiao Shuai actually did the impossible and killed his father. And because afterwards, he was persecuted by Gu Tianle, he was filled with a burning hatred for everyone that was involved in the demise of his clan.
When he looked at Maiden Ding’s quiet demeanor again, he really could not bring the heart to even lay a finger on her even though he still held her partly responsible.
Gongsun Jing said slowly, “I will still want to be Brother Yi Ping’s sworn brother. My real enemies are Xiao Shuai and Gu Tianle.”
Yi Ping said, “Then I’ll be able to help you. I still have a score to settle with Gu Tianle and Jue Yuan for conspiring with your father to injure my father years ago.”
Gongsun Jing said, “You won’t hold against me? My father was the one that…”
Yi Ping interrupted, “What your father did is his own business. That has nothing to do with you. Moreover, he is dead now. I hope you can forgive Maiden Ding too. Or else I won’t agree to be your sworn brother at all if I bear a grudge against you.”
Gongsun Jing was deeply touched as he looked at Yi Ping who seemed to be a giant, surrounded by a strong sense of benevolent and righteousness.
He stammered out, “I don’t blame Maiden Ding at all…”
Zuo Tianyi said, “Pity. I have come here for nothing.”
Everyone looked at Zuo Tianyi startled. They had almost forgotten that Zuo Tianyi was not on their side yet.
Lie Qing blinked at Zuo Tianyi as she said, “Great Hero, I can tell immediately that you are a master swordsman. What do you mean? Are you here on the behalf of the Honor Manor?” as she took a step forward.
Zuo Tianyi took a step backward as he smiled, “Hold it. Don’t come close to me. I have just seen how Qiao Feng and Ye Lu were killed by you.”
Lie Qing was offended as she said, “Am I so terrible to behold or too fierce for your taste, Great Hero?”
Zuo Tianyi smiled, “I am not interested in you for sure.” He took a quick glance at Ding Yunzi who looked shyly away.
Yi Ping, Qiu Wufeng and Gongsun Jing were clearly amused. It was because even a blind man could tell how mesmerizing Lie Qing was and Zuo Tianyi was telling her how unattractive she was to him!
Lie Qing replied coldly, “So what do you want?”
Zuo Tianyi laughed, “I just want to be a sworn brother to Yi Ping as well and then we find a place to drink or else it will be hard for me to go off just like that.”
Yi Ping was surprised too as he quickly said, “It is my honor too! Brother Tianyi!”
Zuo Tianyi said, “Brother Yi Ping!”
Ding Yunzi interrupted softly, “You better go. The further away, the better it is! What we are going to do next will put you in a very difficult position.”
Zuo Tianyi said, “Yunzi, why are you so cold towards me? What did I do wrong…”
It was only now that it was apparent that Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi had known of one another! No wonder, when Gongsun Jing had wanted to avenge against Maiden Ding, they could sense a strong killing malevolent intent from him!
Lie Qing muttered with displeasure, “No wonder you are not interested in talking to me. So you already have a sweetheart. You are afraid that she may get jealous…”
Qiu Wufeng quickly said, “If Maiden did not mind, you can always talk to me…”
Lie Qing hummed coldly, “You should practice more on your martial skills first before talking to me.”
Qiu Wufeng immediately flushed red with embarrassment.
Ding Yunzi said, “You did nothing wrong. I just don’t want to see you.”
Zuo Tianyi said, “I know that you are from the Virtuous Palace and that Xiao Shuai may not approve of our marriage in the past. But I am now the protégé master of the Infinity Sword Clan now, surely Xiao Shuai would take that into consideration and…”
Ding Yunzi interrupted coldly, “You think too much. Just go.”
Yi Ping said to Zuo Tianyi, “We know that the Honor Manor is raising an expedition to attack the headquarters of the Holy Hex Sect. We are going there to help a friend of mine. If you join us, it is akin to making enemies of all the orthodox clans in the fraternity. I am sure Maiden Ding meant well.”
Zuo Tianyi said quickly to Ding Yunzi, “Even if I were to make enemies of the orthodox clans, I will still join you! I don’t even care if the Virtuous Palace is now the enemy of the orthodox fraternity. I will still ask for your hands in marriage. ”
Ding Yunzi said coldly, “I am no longer in the Virtuous Palace.”
Zuo Tianyi was taken aback as he asked, “You are not?”
Ding Yunzi said, “I have betrayed the Virtuous Palace and now, I am being hunted by the Virtuous Palace. In fact, we are all being hunted by the Virtuous Palace or the Honor Manor. Even if you have ten lives, you may not live to survive it. You are so foolish. The Infinity Sword Clan has painstaking took more than three centuries to establish its position in the fraternity. As your cousin, I feel ashamed that you can choose to throw away the repute of the Infinity Sword Clan just like that. How could you face your Zuo Clan ancestors?”
Zuo Tianyi stammered, “I….I…”
Xiao Youxue sighed in her heart melancholy, “Sister Yun is so tragic. Zuo Tianyi is her childhood sweetheart. Because of that incident, she now uses all other means just to reject his overturns…”
A few days ago…
They had reacted with shock as they had fell Yi Ping by mistake.
Xiao Youxue had immediately resuscitated Yi Ping and was relieved all his vital organs were unhurt. She muttered, “He just needs a rest and will recover. But his wounds may be severe…”
Then she looked at Lie Qing with displeasure as she said, “Hand over the antidote. You have applied poison on your sword. How vicious are you!”
Lie Qing quickly took out a small flask as she said, “It is not my intention to hurt him…you have a hand too…”
Ding Yunzi was secretly relieved but all of a sudden, she burst into tears as she ran off.
Lie Qing was startled when she had suddenly run off. She quickly recovered her senses as she asked herself, “Was I in a daze just now? Why was it so? This young man…”
Xiao Youxue said, “Follow her! Don’t let her escape…”
When Xiao Youxue and Lie Qing had caught up with her, she was slashing furiously at Xiao Yuanjia instead!
Her act completely caught Xiao Youxue and Lie Qing by surprise!
Ding Yunzi repeatedly slashed and thrust at the dead body of Xiao Yuanjia, mutilating him. There was rage in her eyes as her quiet demeanor disappeared as she wept bitterly.
Lie Qing was startled, “He is already dead. Why are you slashing him so many times for? You can kill a dead man?”
Even though Lie Qing could see her sorrowful expressions but she could not resist adding an intentional remark to goal her into telling her why she hated Xiao Yuanjia so much. But she could guess as much.
Xiao Youxue covered her mouth with her hand as she too, burst into tears.
It was because she knew the real reasons; Ding Yunzi was abused when she was very young by her father and two brothers. Because of that, Ding Yunzi became cold and distant. That was when her visits to the Infinity Sword Clan had ceased as she trained day and night, hoping that one day, she would kill Xiao Shuai, Xiao Yuanjia and Xiao Da.
At first she did not know the real reason and was upset with her. But one night, she witnessed her bestial brother Xiao Yuanjia forcing himself on Ding Yunzi. Even though he had not succeeded but she had been horrified by what her brother was trying to do and finally knew the true reason now. That was not the only abuse that Ding Yunzi had faced…
But because she did not want to hurt her further, she pretended not to know anything about it. In fact, so scarring was this memory, she had even forgotten about it as she began to hate Ding Yunzi for siding with her father and brothers.
Only when she saw Ding Yunzi broke down into tears now as she repeatedly slashed at the dead corpse of Xiao Yuanjia, she remembered how tragic she had been through.
Lie Qing looked bewilderedly at Xiao Youxue and Ding Yunzi. She had killed Xiao Yuanjia by draining all his intricate energy.
Earlier, she was a little worried for she had killed Xiao Youxue’s brother and she feared that she may take vengeance on her. Even though she feared Xiao Youxue but she was also severely injured so she may not lose. But if Xiao Youxue were to join hands with Ding Yunzi, the outcome would be very unpredictable.
But Ding Yunzi reaction surprised her and led Lei Qing to think, “If Youxue attacks me, should I join hands with this Maiden Ding?”
But to her surprise, the two maidens suddenly embraced each other. They began to pour out their sorrows and wept melancholy together!
This left Lie Qing out again.
She had three options now.
One was to attack them while they were distracted for they were now her enemies due to their association with the Virtuous Palace.
Two was to quietly sneak away while she had the chance.
Lie Qing was a very smart woman so she would naturally picked the third option which was to run into their midst and embraced them together as she wept with them!
For some time, they wept together and poured out their individual grieves!
Finally Lie Qing said, “Our martial skills are not weak but our enemies are far too strong and formidable. If the three of us joined hands together, then we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Anyone that tries to bully us or oppress us, they would have to think twice about it.”
Xiao Youxue asked weakly, “Can we fight the Virtuous Palace? There are more than a dozen top fighters…”
Lie Qing said, “As long as we are united, even if we cannot defeat them yet but at least we can keep ourselves alive until we can be stronger than them.”
At this moment, even Ding Yunzi’s eyes shone with hope. She did not want to return to the darkness again and Lie Qing’s words gave her a shimmer of hope to fight back.
Of course at this very moment, Lie Qing was already thinking of draining all the clan protégés of the Virtuous Palace dry of their virtuous intricate energy!
Lie Qing happily clapped her hands, “Since we are all from the Virtuous Palace now, let call ourselves the New Virtuous Palace!”
Ding Yunzi looked at her quietly before saying, “Are we all equals or you will be our leader?”
Xiao Youxue was also looking at Lie Qing intently.
Lie Qing smiled weakly as she thought, “Screw that.”
But she replied with a smile, “Of course we are equals! Sister Yunzi and Sister Youxue, your martial level is higher than me. I am so weak. So how can I fit to be your leader?”
Xiao Youxue interrupted coldly, “You may be weaker than the two of us and even the rest of the Virtuous Palace now. But if you are able to drain them of their intricate energy, you will not fear us anymore.”
Lie Qing sighed, “Do you know that it is not possible to acquire more intricate energy by draining? I still need to regain my internal energy first.”
Ding Yunzi asked, “What do you mean?”
Lie Qing explained, “The purpose of draining intricate energy is to make my own intricate energy as pure as possible so that I can have an easier time to breakthrough to the next level of the Divine Invincible Force.”
She sighed, “You have no idea how difficult it is for me to reach my present attainment and the difference between this level and the next is so vast…”
Of course, Xiao Youxue and Ding Yunzi understood it.
Xiao Youxue had to undergo several trials just to master the Golden Impervious Body and the Icy Heavenly Tears. The higher the attainment, the difficulty for the next level progression was many times as frustrating and hard. In fact, advancing through the wrong progression may even cause the martial attainment to deteriorate!
She remembered the fatal mistakes made by her mother that caused her to lose her life. By several coincidences, she had managed to revert some of her old mistakes in training the Icy Heavenly Tears and even attained the level six staging. But that was like the maximum that she could go for the next several decades. It was because she did not have the intricate formula for the next level progression. Even if she had it, she would need at least ten years of dedicated pondering even though she was already highly gifted…
As for Ding Yunzi, she had practiced the Virtuous Divine Force but that was only the basic staging. It was because the elders of the Virtuous Palace had already found a flaw in the intricate formula of the Virtuous Divine Force which was really the Invincible Divine Force and caution practicing it unless the practitioner had sixty years of internal energy foundation.
That was why Xiao Shuai had deliberately experimented with the imperfect Invincible Divine Force and left it in the martial fraternity to see if anyone could really practice it.
By a chance happening, it was found by Gongsun Bai. Xiao Shuai was surprised that Gongsun Bai could actually practice on the original Invincible Divine Force on his own without hindering his martial progression. What he did not know was that decades ago, Shui Yichi had helped Gongsun Bai to correct many of the intricate formula of the Invincible Divine Force.
Ding Yunzi said all of a sudden, “Maiden Lie Qing, so you know the original Invincible Divine Force?”
Lie Qing knew what Ding Yunzi was thinking as she replied, “Who else knows the original Invincible Divine Force other than me? I can teach you the Invincible Divine Force if you want to. After all, we are going to be good sisters soon.”
Ding Yunzi was very smart. She did not hesitate at all as she said, “If you are willing to impart to me every single word of the intricate formula, I would be grateful…”
She had purposely stressed “every single word” to emphasis that she meant the entire intricate formula of the Invincible Divine Force.
Lie Qing laughed softly and said, “Then good sister, you must teach me your flying sword techniques. I want to learn it too.”
Ding Yunzi smiled and said, “Unfortunately, even if I want to teach you the flying sword technique, it is not possible for you to learn it.”
Lie Qing asked in surprise, “Oh?”
Xiao Youxue interrupted gently, “That is because there is no shortcut in acquainting this skill. Not only do you have to know the various different techniques, you need to practice continuous for ten years at the soonest. I know that many protégés in the Virtuous Palace typically take as long as thirty years to even master the basic throwing.”
Lie Qing was disappointed immediately as it shown in her expressions. There were many techniques that required sheer hard work and dedication. She knew that it was true. There was simply no shortcut in this type of sword technique. That why it was a martial feat.
In the martial fraternity, no one was truly invincible. The various martial clans were almost famously renowned for one or more exception feats, techniques or martial skills that made the martial clan unique.
Xiao Youxue asked her, “Why do you name us the New Virtuous Palace? Are you trying to create more chaos or just blackening the reputation of the Virtuous Palace? How awkward it is to add a new in front…”
Lie Qing laughed mysteriously, “That is because…I like the name!”
She told a half-truth. That was because she did not want to reveal her sad past, just like Ding Yunzi did not want to tell anyone her past and so did Xiao Youxue.
Digging out the past was the last thing in their minds because they did not want anyone to know about their tragic past.
Xiao Youxue did not want Yi Ping to know that she was the one that had killed his wife.
Ding Yunzi asked, “So who will be our leader? We still haven’t settled this yet.”
Lie Qing smiled alluring, “Whoever becomes leader, I am sure none of us would be fully in agreement and we can argue whole day. How about Yi Ping?”
Ding Yunzi softened her eyes and muttered something.
Xiao Youxue said, “He is our best option then.”
It was because the only person that could keep Lie Qing in check could possibly be Yi Ping since he had saved her life and she could tell that Lie Qing had a lot of respect for him or else she would not talk ceaselessly all the time to him. It was because martial exponents at their advantage staging would prefer more quiet time in mediation and thinking of how to improve their martial progression with whatever little time they had.
All of a sudden, she remembered Yi Ping was still lying on the ground as her sharp ears had picked out the sounds of a wolf pack approaching the forest!
Xiao Youxue immediately gasped, “Oh no! Yi Ping is still there!”
The three maidens immediately rushed to where Yi Ping had fallen and reached there just in time to see a pack of wolves attacking Yi Ping!
Ding Yunzi immediately drawn out her sword and whirled it in a circular motion before she sent her sword flying towards the pack of wolves as it slashed across, killing the wolves in front! The rest of the surviving wolves began to scatter when their wolf pack leader was killed.
Xiao Youxue gasped, “We are just in time. He almost got eaten alive by these wolves!”
Lie Qing heaved a sigh of relief as she said, “He seems to be well like by the animals…”
Xiao Youxue could not resist adding, “Better than killed by a pig…”