Chapter 32: The Joyful Goddess
The streets were dark and void of people as it was already past midnight. Only the moon and the stars were the only visible lights. There was an uneasy feeling in the atmosphere, a feeling of death and despair that caused everyone to avoid this street tonight.
But for Ding Yunzi, these dim lights were more than sufficient for her to move rapidly.
An old man with a white beard was walking quietly in the middle of the streets with a cane. He looked so fragile and harmless but he was the most deadly exponent of the Virtuous Palace, Yuan Shao.
Ding Yunzi walked quietly towards him as she said coolly, “My respects to Protégé Elder.”
Yuan Shao looked at her finery and her beautiful dress as he said, “I didn’t know that when you do dress up, you will be so beautiful.”
Ding Yunzi shifted uncomfortably as she replied, “Protégé Elder, you flatter me too much.”
Yuan Shao added, “This is the truth. You seem to have changed. You used to dress simple.”
Ding Yunzi was secretly alarmed but she maintained her composure.
Yuan Shao said coldly, “You have been missing for quite a while. Why didn’t you report your whereabouts to us? Where are Xiao Yuanjia and Xiao Youxue?”
Ding Yunzi replied coolly, “Both Xiao Yuanjia and Xiao Youxue had been killed. I didn’t report my activities because I do not have the chance to do so.”
Yuan Shao raised his eyebrows as he asked, “They are dead? Who has the formidable means to kill them? There isn’t anyone capable in the fraternity that can kill Xiao Yuanjia as far as I know. What about Xiao Youxue? You have better not lie to me or don’t blame for being ruthless.”
Ding Yunzi quietly said, “I wouldn’t dare, Protégé Elder. We have found Xiao Youxue and she was killed by Xiao Yuanjia.”
Yuan Shao nodded, “Indeed, Xiao Youxue isn’t Xiao Yuanjia’s match. Where is her body? Dead or alive, we must have her body. You shouldn’t know it is very important to us.”
Ding Yunzi said, “Unfortunately, I am intercepted by a powerful opponent and have to give her the body. It is only feigning to be submissive to her that I am still alive to this day.”
Yuan Shao stared sternly at Ding Yunzi causing her to tremble as he said coldly, “You are not weak either. There is hardly anyone in the fraternity that can fight Xiao Yuanjia and you at the same time.”
Ding Yunzi shook her head, “Protégé Elder you are wrong. This time round, we have met our match. The powerful opponent that we have met is a young maiden by the name of Lie Qing.”
Yuan Shao said coldly, “Xiao Yuanjia and you will lose to a young maiden?”
Ding Yunzi protested softly, “This Lie Qing is no ordinary maiden. She has red eyes and knows the Divine Invincible Force, the most secretive skill of our clan.”
Even Yuan Shao was startled, “She really have red eyes and know the Divine Invincible Force?”
Ding Yunzi nodded, “And she has even eaten Xiao Youxue and Xiao Yuanjia while they are still alive. It is very horrible.”
Yuan Shao asked, “How did you manage to survive then?”
Ding Yunzi said, “I have asked her why she is sparing me but she simply says that she have no use of my intricate energy yet.”
All of a sudden, Yuan Shao raised his cane and swung against her!
Ding Yunzi raised her scabbard to block it. She took five steps backward as the martial force of Yuan Shao was simply too strong for her. She quickly asked, “Protégé Elder, why did you…?”
Yuan Shao said, “I have almost believe you but unfortunately, your story have too many loopholes. You have dared to betray the Virtuous Palace.”
Ding Yunzi asked, “Huh?!”
Yuan Shao said, “Firstly, you know very well that I am coming yet you did not attempt to lure them to me. Secondly, if that Lie Qing is as formidable as you have claimed, she would have confronted me. Thirdly, you are not a good liar…”
Before he could finish, Ding Yunzi had already drawn out her long sword quietly and threw it into a flying sword towards him!
But Yuan Shao simply caught her sword with his bare hand and threw it back at her again!
Lie Qing had barely dodged her own sword as it flew past her, smashing through the walls!
All of a sudden, she paralyzed in fear. It was as though Yuan Shao had already pointed his cane at her throat!
To the observers, Yuan Shao was still a good distance from Ding Yunzi but to Ding Yunzi, she knew that she was going to die. It was because even before Yuan Shao had moved towards her, he had already extended his invisible sword intentions at her, paralyzing her!
No matter in which direction that she could move to, she could not escape from his invisible sword intentions!
She broke into a cold sweat.
All of a sudden, she could move again as the invisible sword intentions seemingly disappeared! Ding Yunzi quickly leapt backward to a safer distance!
Yuan Shao mused, “There is another exponent here that can lift my sword intentions here?” He was looking at the other end of the street as a man walked quietly towards him, emitting cold sword energies in all directions.
Ding Yunzi gasped, “Tianyi, why are you here? Leave now! You are not his match!”
Zuo Tianyi said coolly, “Yunzi, are you alright?”
Ding Yunzi nodded as she said, “Quickly leave. I will hold him back. You are not his match.”
Yuan Shao said coldly, “Tianyi? So you are the new protégé master of the Infinity Sword Clan? Not bad. At your young age, you have actually attained the divine state of the invisible sword energy. You deserve to be killed by me then.”
Zuo Tianyi smirked coldly, “The fight has not even starts and the outcome is uncertain so don’t be too sure yet.”
Even though he was saying that but the malevolent presence of Yuan Shao was too overpowering and he was extremely nervous. Even walking towards Yuan Shao and speaking in his presence took considerable effort.
Yuan Shao asked, “So you want to challenge me alone or together with Yunzi?”
Zuo Tianyi said, “This is a duel between two swordsmen. Of course it will be just me.”
Ding Yunzi said quickly, “No! We will fight you together.”
She quickly turned to Zuo Tianyi to say, “Tianyi, don’t be foolish. We are not in his league. He has already reached the stage of ‘Unison with the Sword’ and can use anything as a weapon!”
Zuo Tianyi did not seem to hear as he had already charged towards Yuan Shao with his long sword that was beaming with the blue glow of sword energy!
Ding Yunzi immediately ran after him and threw her scabbard at Yuan Shao while she drew her foldable sword from around her waist!
Yuan Shao simply moved aside slightly as the flying scabbard flew past him! As he evaded the flying scabbard, Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi had already unleashed dozens of sword strokes against him!
As Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi unleashed their barrages of attacks, Yuan Shao simply whirled his cane as a shield in front of him. As he whirled his cane, piercing cold sword energies began to burst through the whirling cane and thrusting at both of them!
Zuo Tianyi was startled as he got stabbed in his shoulder and chest while Ding Yunzi was stabbed in her shoulder too!
Zuo Tianyi was astonished that this old man could defend and attacked at the same time. The weird thing was that he could not see the attack coming and could not guard against it!
Ding Yunzi said quietly, “Tianyi, some of the attacks are Illusions and is formed by his invisible sword intentions. Don’t be fooled by it…”
Even as she had said it, Yuan Shao had stabbed the both of them with his left fingers and grievous injured both of them at the same time. Barely a few seconds after they had both attacked, they were now wriggling on the ground in agony!
Yuan Shao said coldly, “This isn’t even a duel at all. Beg me for mercy and I will consider sparing you.”
Zuo Tianyi broke into cold sweat as he shouted angrily, “Over my dead body!”
Barely had he said that, Yuan Shao had stabbed him with his cane on his right leg and left arm! Zuo Tianyi gritted his teeth but refused to beg for mercy.
Zuo Tianyi was in utter disbelief as he thought, “My Infinity-Two swordplay…unless he has seen my swordplay before, it is impossible for him to break it so fast. How did I get hit by his fingers? That’s impossible…”
Ding Yunzi was fatally struck by Yuan Shao’s sword finger and she was in a daze. She could only mutter weakly, “Protégé Elder, don’t hurt him…He’s the protégé master of the Infinity Sword Clan and…”
Yuan Shao interrupted coldly, “Do you think that the Virtuous Palace fears the Infinity Sword Clan or any other martial clans in the fraternity?”
All of a sudden, a young man in white appeared in front of him quietly and lifted both Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi to their feet!
Both Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi gasped at the same time, “Yi Ping!”
Yi Ping said, “Tianyi and Yunzi, your injuries are not light. Meet me at the designated place. I will hold off this Yuan Shao for the time being.”
Yuan Shao began to appraise this young man who had appeared so quietly and seemingly displayed no fear whatever so in his presence! In all his years, he had never seen a young man with his righteous air and magnetism.
Ding Yunzi smiled weakly, “Yi Ping, you are also here? Leave us alone. You…are not his match.”
Yi Ping said, “Yunzi, don’t worry about me. Go now please.”
Even though Yi Ping appeared to be composed but he was filled with rage. After losing his temper so many times, he had finally understood the need to control his emotions or he would surely lose even before the fight starts. After learning the Absolute Spirits, he had finally learnt when to suppress his raging emotions even though deep within him, he could not forgive this Yuan Shao for hurting Ding Yunzi and Zuo Tianyi so grievously!
Yuan Shao said coldly, “Do you think that I am invisible?”
Yi Ping hummed coldly, “I’m sure a highly regarded senior with your state of divinity would not attack me first or else you will ruin your practice.”
Yuan Shao said, “You are so sure?”
Yi Ping nodded, “I am sure.”
Yuan Shao laughed coldly, “Where is your weapon?”
Yi Ping said, “I am afraid that I am not good with weapons and preferring to fight with my bare hands.”
Yuan Shao said coldly, “Very good. I will first dispatch you first then I will skin them alive.”
Yi Ping raised his hands in a defensive posture as he turned to Zuo Tianyi and Ding Yunzi to say, “Run now or my sacrifice will be in vain.”
Ding Yunzi looked at Yi Ping tearfully for a while before she ran off. She did not even say a single good bye to Yi Ping or Zuo Tianyi!
She was in fact crying in her heart as she thought sorrowfully, “Yi Ping, the only way to save you is to revive Lie Qing. The only way to revive her quickly is to let her drain my intricate energy…if you can sacrifice for us, I can also sacrifice for you and will not let you die in vain.”
Zuo Tianyi was stunned but he quickly said to Yi Ping, “I will avenge for you in the future. I will never forget you…”
Yi Ping nodded as he watched Zuo Tianyi staggered across the streets until he disappeared from view.
Yuan Shao said to Yi Ping coldly, “Your friends have a head start now. Surely you are not thinking of remaining in that posture until dawn?”
Yi Ping smiled weakly, “You are so smart. How do you know?”
Yuan Shao laughed coldly, “I can tell you that this ruse has been repeated too many times in my presence. I would advise you to make your move now or don’t blame me for not giving you a chance to display your techniques.”
Yi Ping said, “Junior name is Yi Ping, I make my move then.”
As Yi Ping raised his martial power, Yuan Shao did not idle either.
The malevolent aura around Yuan Shao intensified as he sent his invisible sword intentions seemingly like daggers around Yi Ping!
But to the surprise of Yuan Shao, he did not seem to sense any fear in Yi Ping. Instead, he could sense only absolute calmness. Even Zuo Tianyi who had suppressed his malevolent sword intentions with his sword energy was not wholly unaffected.
As Yuan Shao waited, he sent another invisible sword intention with his willpower through Yi Ping. But to his surprise, he sensed another invisible force blocking his invisible sword intention!
He thought, “That’s impossible. This young man looks harmless. Unlike Zuo Tianyi, he has either sword energy or my invisible sword intentions, how the heck can he stand there unaffected?”
Yuan Shao did not know that Yi Ping had fortified his fighting spirit with the Absolute Spirits Intricate Recite and even though he had suffered many setbacks but he was a naturally fearless young man. Moreover, protected by the Icy Heavenly Tears, what little remains of the malicious malevolent intentions of Yuan Shao were completed neutralized.
Yuan Shao said slowly, “Why are you waiting for? I am still waiting.”
Yi Ping said, “I have already made my move. Now we are even. Senior, you can attack now.”
Yuan Shao said, “You have made your move?”
Yi Ping said, “I have raised my martial power. If Senior did not want to attack me, then I will take my leave.”
Yuan Shao was secretly startled, “Did he know who I am? Raising his martial power is considered making a move? If he thinks that I am just an old man, then he must be greatly mistaken. Very well then, I will teach him a lesson that he will never forget by cutting off all his limbs.”
All of a sudden, Yuan Shao had attacked Yi Ping!
Even though he looked frail and was walking with a cane, when he attacked, he was like barrage of arrows raining blows after blows at Yi Ping.
Yi Ping was astonished. This old man strokes were so fast that he could barely keep up; Yuan Shao strokes were intriguing and formless. It was as though he was fighting against an empty space. He lifted himself with the ‘Cloud Evading Skill’ and forced to rotate in mid-air as the old man was using a combination of hard and soft stances to neutralize his Divine Horizon Hands!
Yuan Shao was startled as he thought, “Is this the Divine Horizon Hands? I remembered a long time ago I have lost to this skill. Interesting…”
Yi Ping had to use the ‘Absolute Spirits Intricate Formula’ to follow Yuan Shao strokes; he was defending more and less on attack.
Yuan Shao moves were weird and for every ten strokes that he had unleashed, he could strike Yi Ping with a soft stance that forced Yi Ping to waste even more of his vital breath and energy to neutralize the incoming force.
Yi Ping thought, “This old man, he is forcing me to create an opening for his strokes but I have yet to even land a blow on him or see any opening. This is not going to be good.”
Yuan Shao was actually groaning. It was because he was expecting Yi Ping to be onto the ground in no more than twenty strokes! But more than two hundred strokes had passed in a blink of an eye! He was actually thinking, “This young man actually possesses such a deep foundation in martial power, internal strength and mental fortitude…he is such a rare talent…”
Yi Ping lifted another bout of vital breath with the ‘Divine Revelation’ and lifted his internal strength with the ‘Absolute Spirits Intricate Formula’ in concert with the Divine Horizon Strokes and the Cloud Evading Skill.
Yuan Shao said, “Weird. It is as though you have seen my kind of attack before?!”
It was because months ago, Xiao Youxue had secretly instructed him against such a martial art.
Xiao Youxue had said to him, “Besides hard and soft aspects of martial arts, there are also formless and energy aspects of the arts. You ought to spar with me to discover a way to break it or to understand it. Then you will not be disadvantage in a real fight with a top exponent.”
That was why when Yi Ping sparred with Yuan Shao, he did not give way to panic. Instead he maintained his composure as he moved his hands in a circular movement to guard against his attacks by using the twenty-one stance of the ‘Divine Horizon Hand’, the ‘Circular Defense Stance’; neutralizing the furious thrust of the old man lashing cane or else even if he had ten lives, he could not even deflect the cane without harm.
Yuan Shao said, “So you can still see my movements, am I right? Then how about this?” All of a sudden, he took his cane and poked it towards Yi Ping. The cane attack was so fast that it disappeared!
Yi Ping was startled. He was already concentrating all his focus to follow the old man’s movements. He had thought that the old man was almost at his limit and yet he could still increase his attacking speed!
Yi Ping could no longer follow the movements of the cane or the strokes of the old man as he blocked and evade through sheer pure instinct.
In that quick instant, Yi Ping was poked more than ten times and he was suffering from excessive bleeding but he refused to give up as he kept on fighting!
Yuan Shao was secretly startled as he thought, “Is this young man a monster and can feel no pain? Even a good fighter will have fallen by now. However time is on my side.”
Indeed, Yi Ping was sweating profusely and was panting heavily. He was now drowsy and exhausted from keeping pace with the movements of the old man attacks and from neutralizing his attacks.
Yuan Shao said, “I want to say to you that conviction alone is not enough to win. Martial skills and techniques that only come with experiences are the only things that are important in a real fight.” As he said, he had struck Yi Ping across the face with the cane and thrust it twice into his shoulder at the same time!
Yi Ping was forced to step back but before he could regain his balance, Yuan Shao had struck him with a forceful palm on the chest!
Yi Ping was sent flying across the street in a horrifying crash as he smashed against the street walls!
Yuan Shao asked coldly, “Are you painful? Can you still fight?”
Yi Ping wiped away the blood from his mouth as he mustered all his strength to say, “I…am not…dead yet…”
Yuan Shao laughed, “Very good. I am not yet done yet!”
Yi Ping could barely stand up as he clenched his fists. He knew very well that this old man was toying with him. The differences in their skills were too vast. He tried to muster his martial power but his entire body was trembling hard and he could not muster his strength anymore!
Even though Yuan Shao was jeering at Yi Ping but he was also astonished at his endurance as he thought, “A lesser mortal will have fallen by now and he can still stand? It is a pity to kill such a young man. But if I don’t kill him today, he may be a thorn to us in the future…”
“Isn’t that enough already? Isn’t that too gory already? Why don’t you stay your hand and let him go?” A gentle voice said.
Yuan Shao was startled. Someone else was in the vicinity and he did not know?
Yi Ping and Yuan Shao looked up and saw a stunning maiden with long silver hair and dressed in a long red dress walking quietly towards him.
When Yuan Shao saw her eyes, he was startled for her eyes were glowing red!
In her long white slender right hand, she was wielding a long heavy black scythe as though its weight meant nothing to her.
Yuan Shao asked, “Who are you? And where did you come from?”
The mysterious silver hair maiden said coolly, “I am trying to sleep but it is getting really noisy. That is why I am here to take a look.”
Yuan Shao smiled bitterly. Even if there were ordinary folks around, his malevolent aura would have caused them to lose their consciousness or develop fearful delusions. The only persons that would dare to come here were those that had extraordinary willpower or superior state of divinity.
Yuan Shao stabbed his cane onto the ground and immediately the ground beneath his cane exploded thunderous as it collapsed three inches underneath!
Yi Ping was stunned at the martial power display of this old man! He thought, “He isn’t serious earlier?” All of a sudden, he remembered Xiao Youxue’s martial power implosion techniques.
Yuan Shao said, “I have thought that the red-eyes humans are just a mythology. I have never expected to find one today. Just who are you?”
The silver hair maiden smiled at Yi Ping and Yuan Shao as she swung her long scythe in a playful manner, even as she continued to walk towards them.
Yuan Shao was solemn. This silver hair maiden did not seem to fear his martial power. He slowly put his cane in front of him and lifted its lid, revealing a thin razor long sword!
Immediately, the killing malevolent aura in the area intensified and Yi Ping could feel a suffocating presence even as he struggled with his Absolute Spirits! He was forced to step back until his body rested on the wall!
Actually his Absolute Spirits were the most epitome intricate heart formula that could resist the most deadly killing malevolent but in his weakened state, Yi Ping chose to step back to steady himself.
The silver hair maiden smiled, “I should be the one asking who you are first. But anyway, my fraternity name is the Joyful Goddess and from the Celestial Palace. I presume that you are from the Virtuous Palace?”
Yuan Shao said coldly, “Indeed. Yuan Shao is my name.”
The Joyful Goddess smiled happily, “That is great. I have heard that the Honor Manor and the Virtuous Palace is attacking the Celestial Palace?”
Yuan Shao nodded slowly, “That’s right. We are here to wipe you demons out.”
The Joyful Goddess clapped her hands, “Very good. We will be expecting you.”
She turned to look at Yi Ping curiously, “Are you Yi Ping?”
Yi Ping was startled as he thought, “She knows me? I do not know her…” But he replied nevertheless, “Yes, I am Yi Ping.”
The Joyful Goddess smiled, “Good. I am here just in time. Maiden Ji has asked me to fetch you. There should be two others as well. Alas, I can’t be bothered. At least I have found one.”
Yi Ping was startled, “You know Lingfeng?”
The Joyful Goddess said, “I do. She is the Holy Maiden of the Celes…”
Yuan Shao interrupted coldly, “Do you think you can leave this place alive?”
The Joyful Goddess said, “Why can’t I?”
Yuan Shao said, “It is because my sword has already been drawn. Without tasting your blood, I will not sheathe my sword.”
The Joyful Goddess pointed at Yi Ping as she said, “You can stab your sword into him. I don’t mind at all. But I am afraid of pain if you do want to stab me…”
Yi Ping was stunned as he thought, “If Yuan Shao stabs me, I’ll be dead and she is asking him to do so…”
Before she had even finished speaking, Yuan Shao had leapt towards her!
The Joyful Goddess was not slow to react as she swung her long scythe as dozens of brilliant lights sparkle and shrieked across the mid-air in just an instance!
Yi Ping stared in fascination as their stances and strokes flashed in his eyes as he muttered, “So these are the superior swordplay…”
In three successive instances, they had already exchanged more than one hundred strokes!
Yi Ping’s heart began to beat very fast as he immersed in the fascinating sight as he thought, “If I shift my stance in that direction and displayed the Divine Horizon Hands or Swordplay…”
All of a sudden, the Joyful Goddess flew towards him and interrupted his thoughts as she grabbed him, “Come!”
Yuan Shao wanted to chase her but she was simply too swift. He had never seen her type of swiftness movement skill before but it was very similar to the Fairy Breezes swiftness skill of the Holy Hex Sect.
So he could only watch her disappeared from view with Yi Ping even as the Joyful Goddess laughed softly, “Old man, I don’t want to fight you yet because I have need of your blood later. And this young man’s blood may be even more precious than yours. If you need my help with the Divine Calamity, I can help you.”
Yuan Shao was solemn as he thought, “Weird. It seems that she didn’t have the Invincible Divine Force and seem reluctant to spar directly with me with her internal strength. If she did, I will be able to use my Intricate Reversal Divine Skill to drain her intricate energy instead. Have Xiao Shuai and I miscalculated or missing something…?”