Chapter 21: The Intense Duel
When Meng Ruping saw that Zhan Bai’s sword was no ordinary sword, he was still determined to channel all his internal power to his wrist and hacked towards Zhan Bai while still in mid-air.
There was a shower of brilliant golden sparks as both swords clashed towards one another. The brightness was similar to a burning tree and the imagery was like a mirage!
Both felt their shoulders growing numb at the same time and the power of their strength was actually equaled!
As Meng Ruping had the advantage of the brilliant light in mid-air, he quickly tumbled eight yard away.
Both quickly started to inspect their swords for damage!
Zhan Bai’s Heartless Precious Sword was still as crystal like as water and did not seem to be damaged in any way while Meng Ruping’s black long sword was still as dark and also did not have any damage.
Therefore, both of them instantly knew that the other side had a precious sword in their hands and gave up the idea to damage the other’s weapon. And both decided to use all their best martial skills and once again they began to enter the melee.
Everyone could only glimpse the rainbow glare of Zhan Bai’s Heartless Precious Sword and Meng Ruping’s black long sword was like a black dragon flashing everywhere. Two powerful sword energies were flaring and its heat was radiating from the area!
When both were fighting fast and furiously, no one could see where they were except for their sword energies!
In a twinkle of the eye, they had exchanged more than forty strokes.
[Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was staring at the area and was shouting in a loud voice as he appraised both their swordplay, “Heh! Very good, young fellow! This stroke, ‘The Golden Needle holding the Seas’ is indeed well executed and worthy!”
“Alas! What a pity! Ruping! This stroke ‘Hacking the Prawn in the Waves’ is only lacking two inches and it could not harm the opposition…”
[Iron Wing Bird] was very solemn but his sharp brilliant small eyes were staring unblinking at the fight. He was biting his lips tensely but refused to say anything.
Jin Caifeng the [Jiangnan Most Beautiful Maiden] knew that her older protégé brother had inherited her father’s best skills and she was secretly worried for her admirer. Her big water eyes were looking unblinking at them and her fists were grasped tightly, so much that her fists broke into cold fragrance sweat.
As for the maids and man servants that were in the area trying to see the commotion, they were all dumbfounded as they stared wide-eyed. Even though they had seen many furious duels before but they had never seen one so tense and furious before.
The cold piercing sword wave and the windforce that was generated was extremely cold and its light too flaring. Quite a few was scared by it and could not stand properly. Unconsciously, they had begun to step back continuously.
And Zhan Bai and Meng Ruping was now at the most critical stage of their life and death.
Meng Ruping swordmanship was extremely high and moreover his swiftness movement arts were also agile. The way he moved was like an extremely agile monkey moving around and his swordplay was extremely vicious. All his strokes were aimed at Zhan Bai’s vulnerable positions. He could not wait to kill Zhan Bai hence removing this love foe.
Zhan Bai’s internal strength was vigorous therefore his breathing and execution was steady. His swordplay was orthodox and his hands, eyes, body, stroke, steps and in all ways were all extremely steady as though he had practiced long and hard before. As his swordplay was orthodox, honorable and aboveboard, there seemed to be an air of graceful poise and he seemed have a demeanor of a grandmaster.
As Meng Ruping fought with him, he was feeling weirder and weirder for Zhan Bai’s swordplay was the most commonly seen swordplay in the martial fraternity called the ‘Thrice Swordplay’. He only added a few weird additional modifications to it and it was not at all useful and brilliant.
He had always thought highly of his swordplay and was renowned as a swordsman too but still, he could not gain any advantage over him at the moment! He had already carried out several secret killer strokes and yet Zhan Bai did not panic and remained extremely composed as he used a simple stroke from a simple swordplay and neutralized his intricate killing strokes.
At this moment of time, they had battled close to a hundred exchanges without an outcome.
As Meng Ruping was growing impatience and coincidentally when Zhan Bai executed a stroke from the ‘Cosmos Return’, and hack across onto his head, this gave him an excellent opportunity!
Suddenly he blended over his body. Not only did he avoided Zhan Bai’s attack, he also counterattacked with a stroke from the ‘Moon’s Reflection’ and hurriedly hacked at Zhan Bai’s underneath!
Zhan Bai reacted by springing upwards and he displayed the ‘Meteorite over the Moon’ and once again aimed at the top of Meng Ruping’s head once more.
According to convention thoughts, Meng Ruping should have immediately use ‘The Evading Wind’ or the ‘Divine Bee’ to avoid Zhan Bai’s ‘Meteorite over the Moon’.
But he was too eager to claim a victory and therefore he thought he would try a risky stroke so as to achieve victory. Therefore he did not dodge or move and thrust his sword upwards with a stroke, the ‘Million flowers Meeting the Buddha’ and aimed directly at Zhan Bai’s chest.
Indeed, this stroke was extremely risky. If Zhan Bai swiftness arts were higher and he could change his position in mid air, and hovered upwards by three more inches, he would have pierced the top of Meng Ruping’s head.
But after close to a hundred strokes of exchange, Meng Ruping had figured out how the extend of Zhan Bai Zhan Bai swiftness agility. He had calculated that Zhan Bai could not know how to change his position in mid air nor could he hovered upwards, therefore he executed this risky stroke.
But did Zhan Bai really do not possess the ability to change his position in mid air? He could! It was because his martial arts and internal power had improved too rapidly that he himself did not know the potential of his internal power! Moreover he was also lacking in fighting experience and he expected Meng Ruping would dodge his attack.
But when Meng Ruping did not back off and thrust his sword horizontally towards his chest and Zhan Bai knew that he could not evade it and saw that he was about to be killed…
Those with average martial skills would never have saw how risky this stroke was but the [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] and Jin Caifeng knew that this stroke was risky beyond compare and all of them gave out a startled cry.
“Ruping!” [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] gave a great shout, “What sort of fighting style is this!” And he sprang forward…
It was too late.
Zhan Bai panicked and he tried to muster all his internal powers onto his wrist and hand, channeling all the surrounding vital internal energies into his sword and swung it, knocking Meng Ruping’s black long sword away onto the ground leaving Meng Ruping stunned with his mouth opened.
Zhan Bai immediately flinched his wrist and landed the cold blade of the Heartless Precious Sword at Meng Ruping’s throat.
When Meng Ruping had saw that he was defeated, he was so miserable that he could feel as though a million arrows had just pierced him. This was the first time that he had been defeated in such a miserable state! And his beautiful face turned gray.
Zhan Bai had not expected he could freely muster and withhold his internal power to this stage. So when he placed the Heartless Precious Sword onto Meng Ruping’s sword, he too, was stunned and did not continued anymore.
“Hahaha!” [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] arrived like the wind and he was in front of them. He laughed heartily before he said, “Young fellow, you are really something! You have won and it is such an admirable victory! But it is just a duel to display both your inherent talents. Since both of you do not have any enmity with one another, that is enough. You can now sheathed your sword!”
Even though the [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was very old, he had a ruddy red face and his bearing was majestic and commanding. His voice too was like a loud thunder and he had a charismatic presence.
Zhan Bai did not wish to kill someone who could not retaliate and moreover his plot to avenge his father was still undiscovered, he was still a guest in the Jin Residence. Also, he did not to be accused of killing an innocent. Of course, [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] played an important role with his commanding voice as well.
Therefore he sheathed his sword and stepped eight yards back before saying, “I will pay heed to old senior.” But he continued to face Meng Ruping and coldly said, “As long as you do not consider everyone else beneath you and to go about with your nose in the air…”
“Filthy rascal! Don’t be a too sure of yourself!” Meng Ruping thundered, “See if you can handle this or not!” He waved his left hands and a multitude of dazzling green light furiously flied towards Zhan Bai.
Meng Ruping used the ‘Showering the Skies’ method to launch the secret projectiles of the [Heavenly Bronze Coin] that was so famously known throughout the pugilist fraternity as the ‘Golden Coin Darts’.
“Older protégé brother! How dare you!…” Jin Caifeng exclaimed in startled cries…
[Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was equally shocked, “Ruping!” Zhan Bai was a guest of the Jin Residence and he had heed his advises and sheathed his sword. But he never expected that his own people did not respect his reputation and took the opportunity to make such a vicious sneak attack!
Therefore he thundered out angrily, “What are you trying to do…” And at the same time tried to knock down the darts with his windforce from his palms.
But the ‘Golden Coins Darts’ were specially made and the method of throwing was equally unique. Even the powerful windforce of the [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] could not knocked all the darts down! And several darts sped past him faster than before like meteor showers and aimed towards Zhan Bai!
There were three golden clanks of metals and three golden flare as three of the golden coin darts were knocked down by Jin Caifeng! It was because she had already prepared three golden coin darts in case of an emergency earlier.
When she saw that old senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] failed to knock down all the darts, she had launched hers.
But there were still four darts that were left! The golden coin darts were aiming at Zhan Bai’s shoulders and his legs!
When Jin Caifeng tried to take out more of her golden coin darts to save Zhan Bai, it was already too late. Her beautiful crescent face turned pale…
Zhan Bai tried to dodge the darts by tumbling but could only dodge three of them. He was struck on his left shoulder and the dart went deeply into his shoulder as fresh blood oozed out!
Zhan Bai felt a chilling energy on his injured shoulder and it went straight into his organs! He knew instantly that the secret projectile had been coated with poison! He was startled immediately but he clenched his teeth tightly and endured the pain. Quickly, he sealed his accupoints on his left shoulder and with his right fingers and then secretly used the ‘Golden Vest’ hand method to force the dart out.
“Young Hero Zhan!” Jin Caifeng quickly took out a pill and melancholy cried out, “This is the antidote. Hurry and administrate it! Or else…”
Zhan Bai clenched the golden coin dart that he had forced out and his expressions were terrible. And there were tears of blood flowing from his eyes. He did not even noticed Jin Caifeng soft and demure voice…
Jin Caifeng was flabbergasted when she saw the terrible expressions on Zhan Bai. She could not help but feel a chill in her heart.
She said in a trembling voice, “Young Hero Zhan, please do not be like this! It is my older protégé brother that wronged you. Wait for my brother to come back and I will surely inform him and asked him to administrate justice on your behalf!”
As she said, she tore off the clothes from his injured shoulder and administrated the antidote into the wound. She used her jade hand and massage continuously…
But Zhan Bai was not paying any attention. His mind was far away and was thinking of a sorrowful thing. But no one else knew what was in his mind…
When Meng Ruping had saw how concerned Jin Caifeng was towards Zhan Bai, his jealousy was once again ignited and he was prepared to use the golden coin darts once more.
“Ruping!” Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] thundered aloud, “What are you doing? Are you not showing me at least a little respect and really wants me to make a move on you?!”
But Zhan Bai was not aware of the commotion and when Jin Caifeng helped him to administrate the antidote, he did not notice too. It was because he suddenly remembered how terrible his father had died. This golden coin dart was similar to the bronze coin and one of the six objects that his father had given to him just before he had died!
Immediately, he had imagined how his father was surrounded and had fought six powerful exponents. It was such a bloody scene. His father, Zhan Yuntian of the Thunderbolt Sword fame with his Heartless Precious Sword was trapped in the midst of the six most powerful exponents of his time. Did they attack him at the same time or did they use a wolf pack tactic to wear him off?
He really would not guess but he was sure that his father fought till the very end and exhausted all his vital internal energies before Jin Jiu or maybe others as well began to use their secret projectiles on him! Finally they began to descent upon him and began to hack…
But why did these people of the Jiangnan Seven Heroes fame who had sworn together in a brotherhood and swore to die together suddenly decided to gang up against his father? It was a mystery that was hard to figure it out!…
Zhan Bai continued to think. If his father did not die, he would share equal fame and renowned with the Jiangnan Seven Heroes and he himself, would grow up too with the status that was accorded to the present four young masters of the martial fraternity. At the very least, he would be travelling alone with his parents as they sojourned across the pugilist fraternity joyfully and led a carefree life. Unlike now, he was forced to wander in a downcast manner across the pugilist realm and had no place for him to settle. He was really pitiful!…
But Zhan Bai had a sudden realization. He was now without doubt that this golden coin dart was indeed Jin Jiu’s bronze coin dart! This proves that this Jin Jiu was without doubt his father’s killer and although he took a risk by entering the Jin Residence, he did not have the opportunity to see Jin Jiu yet.
But if he were to kill jin Jiu’s favorite disciple, he would surely appear! Now that he had this opportunity, why not take this chance to avenge for his father? If not, would he have any more chances in the future?
When his thoughts cleared, Zhan Bai suddenly shouted, “Stand where you are!”
This explosive shout was burst out from Zhan Bai vented up hatred and infused with his vital internal energies. His voice was like thunderbolt and it deafened the ears of all the others, causing them to feel a piercing breaking pain!
After Meng Ruping was yelled by Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon], he picked his black long sword and turned to move away. But after he took two steps, he was halted by Zhan Bai’s shout and he immediately turned around and stared viciously at him. “I will surely stand where I am! Hehe! Do you really think with your lousy swordplay, you can really win? That is because I am careless, that is why you managed to this small opportunity for victory. If it isn’t for the sake of Old Senior Gongsun, you will surely have died earlier!”
Zhan Bai unsheathed his Heartless Precious Sword and said, “There is no need to be so courtesy. We can start afresh and who is the strong, who is weak, there will be an outcome soon enough!”
Meng Ruping flashed his black long sword in his hand and exclaimed, “Do you think I am afraid of you!”
“Young Hero Zhan!” Jin Caifeng anxiously pleaded, “You are carrying an injury now. Do not be bothered with him…”
Even Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] said, “Let get over this. We have already seen everyone’s strength and what is the point of another fight? This is not a vendetta…”
Zhan Bai pushed Jin Caifeng away and said, “Today, no one can stop us! If he do not die, then I will perish then!”
Everyone was astonished and thought that they were really going to kill one another. But they did not know the vendetta in Zhan Bai’s heart and the fire of jealousy in Meng Ruping’s heart had both ignited a burning fire that was three thousands feet high.
“Good!” Meng Ruping shouted, “Today, I will surely end this with you!” And he charged at Zhan Bai with a stroke ‘The Fire Prawn Piercing the Sun’.
Zhan Bai knew by now that Meng Ruping’s internal strength was not as solid as his foundation. He had depended on the mysteries and intricacies of his superior swordplay. Not wanting to lose his opportunity for as time flew, he might be on the losing end, he too, charged into the fray a ‘Making Waves off the Southern Seas’.
This type of swordmanship and fighting style was an extremely rare sight in the martial fraternity. Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was overjoyed while Jin Caifeng was startled. Even Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] was showing emotions on his face as they all grasped.
Both Zhan Bai and Meng Ruping were both attacking furiously. They scattered the vases and various decorations in the court as they fought from one end to the other.
At first, it was Zhan Bai that was making all the attacks for more than ten strokes, and Meng Ruping was in a state of panicky as he tried to fend it off. Then when Meng Ruping got a breathing space, it was his turn to attack Zhan Bai continuously with his many superior swordplay, all of it extremely vicious and aimed at Zhan Bai’s most vulnerable positions.
But when it was Zhan Bai’s turn again, he too responded again with hurried attacks.
The people in the martial fraternity had never witnessed a fight like this one. Even the [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] and all the veterans of the pugilist fraternity here who had seen and been to countless number of fights had never saw such a level of crazy fight before! For awhile, everyone was looking dumbfounded and even forgot to stop the fight…
Jin Caifeng was in a state of panic and she did not know what to do. She did not want Meng Ruping to hurt Zhan Bai but she also did not want Zhan Bai to hurt Meng Ruping. No matter, among all the others, she was the most anxious.
But both of them were fighting like crazy tigers and her voice was hoarse from shouting but they did not seem to bother and was focused on their intense and vicious fight.
Both their fighting style was exceptional unique. One made use of his great agility and superior swordplay, the other had a good foundation in his internal power and steady swordplay.
The entire court was now in a chaotic mess as more than a hundred strokes had been exchanged by both sides. It seemed that even if two hundred strokes were to be exchanged, there would still be no outcome.
Many started to heave and sighed. This fierce battle was a once a lifetime scene. Quite a few began to wonder what might the result be once the battle concluded at the end?
The [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] were too engrossed in the fight and forgot their supposed responsibilities and duties. Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was gesturing with his hands and responding with praises while the solemn face of Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] was excited beyond measuring; he was staring intensely with his small eyes at the crazed battle that was going on.
But before long, Meng Ruping was sweating and beads of perspiration flowed from his head as his internal strength was inferior to Zhan Bai.
Zhan Bai battled more and more courageous even though blood was dripping down from his injuries on his left shoulder. He attacked furiously as though his internal power improved the more he used it.
But now, Zhan Bai had corned Meng Ruping with the light of his sword.
Meng Ruping saw that he was surrounded by the imagery of Zhan Bai’s sword and he began to feel pressurized. He began to grow anxious and knew that if it were to continue, he would surely be defeated. This was not just a matter of pride! Not wanting to be defeated, not wanting to lose his beloved, it did not matter if he lost the respect of others, even his life would not matter!
He had secretly decided to harden his will to kill and he had taken out the golden coin darts and placed it in his hand secretly!
Jin Caifeng was so hoarse from shouting that she could no longer shout anymore. Now that Zhan Bai had the upper hand, she could tell from his expressions that if he had won, he would not hesitate to kill Meng Ruping.
And Meng Ruping’s expressions were equally vicious. He had already put the golden coin darts that her father had given him into his palms. Once this life pursuing golden coin darts were released, Zhan Bai would surely die or wounded by it!
She did not want anyone of them to be dead or wounded. Therefore she was in a state of great anxiety and her beautiful face had turned ashen. She had been too anxious and when she regained some of her composure, her intelligent mind reminded her that since her brother was not around, there was still the [Twin Ironguards of the Jin Residence] that was around. Only they had the power and ability to stop this fight. She looked at Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] who was looking intensely at the fight and said, “Uncle Ba! Will you please stop them! Or else…”
When she saw that Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] was too engrossed to take notice of her, she suddenly remembered that he was a weird person and sometimes did certain thing that was beyond the comprehension of the others. Therefore she turned towards Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] and said, “Uncle Gongsun! Will you please step in and stop them from fighting!”
Gongsun Chu the [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] began to laugh happily, “Maiden, don’t you worry. Although they are fighting intensely but for the time being, the outcome…oh shit!”
Before he could finish, there was a horrible loud scream and blood was scattered everywhere!
Meng Ruping had turned horribly white and his left shoulder had been hacked off! Even though his right hand was still clutching his sword, it was now shaking uncontrollable!
When the servants of the Jin Residence saw their Master’s favorite disciple was injured, there was cries of panicky and anxiety…
When Jin Caifeng was asking Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] for help, Zhan Bai had saw Meng Ruping reaching out for the golden coin darts. He had continued with a few violence and furious sword strokes before he displayed ‘Slant Abandoned’, a sword stroke from the Wind Chaser Swordplay.
This unique masterstroke was actually a superior swordplay from the Wind Chaser Swordplay using the principle of ‘There is falsehood in the Truth and there is Truth in falsehood’. Somehow Zhan Bai had picked it up from the Fan Brothers. He had a knack of learning any skills even in duress and it was not just mimic and could apply it and modified it to his own use without knowing the techniques involved.
Meng Ruping had saw Zhan Bai’s sword towards his right side and when he wanted to throw the golden coin darts, Zhan Bai had reversed his body and now his right was his left and caught by surprise, his arm was hacked off as he could not avoided Zhan Bai’s sword in time!
And the golden coin darts, together with his arm scattered on the ground.
It was really a coincidence. If Jin Caifeng did not try to ask Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] for help, he would not be distracted and would surely have helped Meng Ruping and not let Zhan Bai hurt him.
Even though Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] had seen it but he did not want to stop it. It was because if two sides battled with one another and one side were to perish, the person that perished deserved to die for his lack of skills and should not blame it upon others. Even if it were his own son, he would not care a hoot and he deserved it! It was because he had this view that a duel without blood was a disappointment instead.
When Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] had seen that, he knew a troublesome tragedy had occurred. He immediately sprang forward into the scene and while in midair, extended his palm towards Zhan Bai. He was afraid that Zhan Bai might take advantage of Meng Ruping in his injured state therefore he entered the fray to interfere.
But Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] was even swifter than him and like a flying bird descending upon a prey, was on top of Zhan Bai in an instant! He was like a mountain crashing down onto him!
Two powerful hurricane windforce, one left and one right descended upon Zhan Bai.
When Zhan Bai had caught sight of such a startling power, he dared not to engage in close melee and therefore he sprang back a yard away.
There was such a thunderous clap when both Old Seniors accidentally struck one another with their palm and claw that dust flew all over the place!
When they discovered that Zhan Bai had sprang backwards, they withdrawn in time half of their might but the power generated was still so awesome. The foundation of their internal power was indeed absolutely startling!
But Zhan Bai shown no sight of being afraid and he waved his sword to say, “Does the two Old Seniors wish to interfere and fight with me as well?”
Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] sealed the accupoints of Meng Ruping’s accupoints on his upper left shoulder to stop his blood loss. Next, he immediately two servants to hurry and get some medicines…
As for Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird], he said coldly to Zhan Bai, “Rascal! Why don’t you hack off your shoulder now to save me the troubles of doing it later!”
Zhan Bai waved his sword but before he could say anything, Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] interrupted with a laughter. “Second brother Ba! Let them settle it themselves! Why should we interfere? If this gets out to the pugilist fraternity, won’t we be a laughing stock and others would say we are using our seniority to bully the weak! Let these junior pugilists handle it on their own!”
Meng Ruping who just had some medical aid from the servants now walked towards Zhan Bai. He stared at him viciously and said, “I will never forget this vendetta, I will surely take vengeance for the loss of my arm!”
Zhan Bai retorted, “I will surely welcome you anytime, anywhere!”
Surprising, Old Senior [Iron Wing Bird] seemed to be extremely obedience to Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] and did not say a word more now.
As for Jin Caifeng, her beautiful face had turned pale and she did not know what to do now…
Zhan Bai paid a respect to Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] with his hands and said, “Old Senior, if there isn’t anymore thing, I take my leave now!”
Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] was taken aback, “Young Fellow, why not wait till tomorrow? Wait for our Young Master to be back before leaving, alright?”
“I really have urgent matters to attend to and cannot afford to wait any longer,” Zhan Bai replied. “My sincere apologies and many thanks to you. I will now take my leave.
When he had finished, he sheathed the Heartless Precious Sword and once again, bowed with his hands and turned around to leave…
“Young Hero Zhan….” Jin Caifeng called out hurriedly thrice but Zhan Bai did not for once turn his head around and walked away.
Old Senior [Crouching Iron Back Dragon] stared at Zhan Bai all the way till he had vanished from sight but he did not say anything more to hold him back…
When Zhan Bai left the Jin Residence, he did not attempt to stay in any Inns for the night but he traveled throughout the night towards the Mountain Rocks of the Twelve Caves.