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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By May 27, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 11: Celestial Under The Moon

Fanyun Fuyu Thirteen Fortresses(Part Eleven)

Mo Wen, who had a bit too much to drink, couldn’t stop yawning. She covered her mouth and said in a scratchy voice, “Qing Jiu, I’m getting sleepy. Let’s head down the mountain quickly.”

Upon hearing her name, Qing Jiu called out, “Yu’er.”

Yu’er, holding Qing Jiu’s sword sheath, listened as Qing Jiu spoke softly, “Find yourself a place to hide.”

“Okay.”

Looking around, Yu’er realized that the stage below was surrounded by more than fifty bandits. The only place to hide seemed to be under the table on the stage.

When Yu’er glanced at the table, she noticed a woman seated on a tiger-skin chair. Recognizing her as another woman captured to be the bandit leader’s wife, Yu’er approached. She saw the woman’s hands bound in front of her. Setting the sheath on the seat, Yu’er went to untie the ropes binding the woman’s hands.

The woman lowered her face to look at her. Through the red veil, Yu’er saw her features – delicate brows, long, slender eyes, slightly curved lips, and a neck as white as snow. Her elegance was undeniable; no wonder she was chosen as the bandit leader’s wife.

Yu’er noted the woman’s calm demeanor as she sat and observed her. Taking the sword sheath in one hand and the woman’s hand in the other, Yu’er urged, “They’re about to start fighting. We need to hide quickly.”

The woman allowed Yu’er to guide her, and together they hid under the table.

Yu’er thought this person must not have high martial arts skills since she was captured, and it wouldn’t be good if she got accidentally injured in the upcoming fight. Hence, she pulled her in. Recalling the ruthless killing among the bandits when the lights were lit, and the sight of the woman sitting undisturbed in the middle of the chaos, Yu’er realized she was no ordinary person. Thus, Yu’er chose not to engage in further conversation with her.

Outside, Long Ye, noticing they were still chatting casually and not paying him any attention, exclaimed in frustration, “Damn it all!”

Wielding his crescent moon spade, he charged forward, swinging it towards Qing Jiu. Qing Jiu, moving swiftly, dodged, causing the spade to miss its mark. She then counterattacked, aiming her sword straight at Long Ye’s throat.

The cold blade gleamed menacingly, causing Long Ye to gulp, but he quickly noticed that the sword was not sharp, its body blunt like a piece of iron. He scoffed and deflected the sword with his spade, taunting, “You dare to challenge me with a dull blade?!”

Qing Jiu retorted coldly, “Who said a blunt sword can’t kill?”

Long Ye, wielding the crescent moon spade, fought fiercely and aggressively. Qing Jiu faced the enemy with ease and grace.

As Long Ye initiated the attack, the other bandits joined in. Tang Linzhi and her companions faced fifty bandits, while the twelve leaders focused their attack on Qing Jiu.

Realizing that Qing Jiu was the mastermind who had killed more than six hundred of their brothers and the leader of their enemies, they hated her to the bone and all attacked her, intending to tear her to pieces.

Yin Lei broke free from being held hostage and saw Qing Jiu surrounded. He casually pulled a large knife from nearby and slashed towards Qing Ju’s back.

As Qing Jiu’s sword clashed with Long Ye’s crescent moon spade, it was deflected. Long Ye, pleased with this momentary advantage, didn’t anticipate Qing Jiu’s next move. Her sword, moving as if it had eyes at the back, struck Yin Lei fiercely on the head. The sound of the impact rang out. Before Yin Lei’s own attack could land, he was hit on a vital point on his head, causing dizziness and a swift collapse into unconsciousness.

The bandits gasped in shock, crying out, “Boss!”

Their eyes, now blood-red with fury, resembled those of wild beasts or evil spirits. They launched a ferocious attack on Qing Jiu, their every move driven by a deep hatred and an urgency to end her life.

Qing Jiu, light on her feet and wielding her sword with one hand, moved with the grace of a butterfly among the twelve attackers. Her steps were nimble, and each strike of her sword flowed continuously, packed with profound internal energy. The twelve were cautious, not daring to take her lightly.

At some point, the sounds of battle had narrowed down to just their circle. The rest of the area had fallen eerily silent. The bandits could only hear a faint call from the priestess, “Qing Jiu, stop playing around.”

The twelve felt a chill in their hearts, realizing that these five had killed all their remaining brothers and were now saying that this woman was merely ‘playing’ with them.

Thinking for a moment, Qing Jiu found herself pressed back towards the table by the relentless attacks of the second-in-command. Underneath the table, Yu’er had been sneakily peering out. As Qing Jiu retreated, Yu’er craned her neck to see what was happening, only to be gently pushed back down by Qing Jiu’s hand.

Yu’er quickly withdrew, hugging her legs tightly and resting her head on them, quietly hiding beneath the table. Soon, she heard the continuous screams of the bandits outside, which abruptly ceased after a brief moment.

Then, a faint whimpering plea broke the silence, “Spare me, please spare me!”

Qing Jiu’s voice called from outside, “Yu’er, come out now.”

Yu’er crawled out to see the bandits lying dead, all except for one with a beard, known as ‘Hu Ye.’ He was the one who had captured her and Qing Jiu, and had previously insulted Qing Jiu with foul language. Of all the bandits, Yu’er found him the most repulsive. She wondered why Qing Jiu had spared his life.

The woman in red also crawled out, standing at a safe distance. Qing Jiu glanced at her indifferently, then returned her sword to the scabbard that Yu’er was holding and took it from her.

Yan Li and Tang Linzhi had already started walking away. Hua Lian smashed a wine jar on the table, spilling wine all over. Qi Tianzhu was holding down Hu Ye, with Mo Wen following behind.

Qing Jiu said to Yu’er, “Let’s go.”

As Yu’er followed Qing Jiu to the steps, she looked at the scene below and suddenly found herself unable to move.

Earlier, she hadn’t looked closely. Now, facing the sea of blood, the severed limbs, and the overpowering stench of blood mixed with the scent of alcohol, she felt her stomach churn. Nausea, a chilling fear, and weakness overcame her, leaving her unable to speak.

Qing Jiu’s gentle voice resonated, “Close your eyes.”

Yu’er, her lips pale, obediently closed her eyes.

Qing Jiu continued, “Hold my hand, I’ll lead you out.”

A warm, delicate hand grasped hers, enveloping her bony fingers completely. As that hand guided her forward, she followed, her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn’t sure if it was the horror of walking amongst the corpses or the sensation of Qing Jiu holding her hand that caused her heart to race.

Once they emerged, Yu’er opened her eyes to find that everyone else had already come out.

Tang Linzhi and Yan Li had already descended the steps. Tang Linzhi continuously muttered under her breath, “Damn it, those two idiots didn’t return. This trip is a waste!”

Yan Li glanced at the Hu Ye in Qi Tianzhu’s hands, “It’s not entirely a waste. At least we can get some information about their whereabouts from him.”

Hua Lian called out, “How can it be a waste? We’ve wiped out this bandit fortress, avenged ourselves, and did a service for the people, haha!”

As he spoke, Hua Lian snorted, found a torch, and lit it. “Just looking at this fortress annoys me, might as well burn it down!”

He was about to throw the torch into the fortress when Yu’er quickly shouted, “There are still people inside!”

Hua Lian paused, “Where? Yu’er, you must be seeing things.”

Yu’er looked towards the hall. The woman in red, who had been standing on the stage earlier, was nowhere to be seen. She must have already left, Yu’er thought, and said no more.

Hua Lian tossed the torch inside. The hall, doused in wine by him, caught fire instantly. Flames rapidly spread, engulfing the large hall in a bright, yellow blaze.

Yu’er and her companions left towards the back mountain. The night was deep, the wind slightly calmer, the remaining clouds in the sky swept away, leaving a bright moon overhead, casting silver light on their path.

A group of people arrived in front of the hall, witnessing the departure of Yu’er and her seven companions, as well as the flames rising high from the hall, illuminating the night sky in red. They were dumbfounded and in shock.

These were the righteous heroes who had been locked in the dungeon, freed thanks to Yu’er. After a day of recuperation in the dungeon, their internal energy had partially recovered, and some had ventured out to scout. With the bandits busy celebrating in the hall, more than a hundred of them were guarding the perimeter, leaving few patrolling the pathways.

Seeing no one coming to change guard at the dungeon and the lax security, they thought something must be happening in the fortress. They settled the women in the cells and ventured out themselves, only to witness such a scene, leaving them in shock.

One of them walked to the steps of the hall and looked inside, exclaiming, “They’re all dead, all the bandits are dead!”

“It was those few people; yes, I saw them take a bandit leader with them. It must have been them!” This person burst into laughter, unable to contain himself, laughing heartily, “Good riddance! Good riddance! The heavens finally sent someone to take care of them!”

“These seven move like ghosts and spirits, their origins unknown.”

“There were five to six hundred men in this hall, and they, just seven, could it be… Could they be the revered martial artists?”

“How come I don’t recognize any of them? Besides, among them were the young girl and the Shaolin monk who unlocked our chains in the dungeon.”

The group pondered, unable to guess the origins of these few individuals.

“How strange and mysterious!” they exclaimed.

Seeing the fortress’s main force annihilated and taking pleasure in the roaring flames, the group decided to split up. One batch set out to burn down the rest of the fortress, while the other aimed to rescue their fellow wulin heroes from various other prisons.

Once the decision was made, the group split and dispersed. The people from Jiuxiao Manor stood gazing in the direction Yu’er and her companions had left for a long while before joining the others in setting the fires.

As the hall blazed, a stench of burning filled the air. Once Qing Jiu and her companions had left, a figure emerged from behind the stone wall at the back of the stage – it was the woman in red. She removed her golden phoenix crown, letting the red veil fall and her black hair cascade down. Casually tossing aside the crown, she walked towards the bodies of the leaders, surrounded by flames but in no hurry to leave.

With a faint smile, she murmured, “Little Yu’er…”

A person in black clothes, holding a large cloak, approached the woman and draped it over her shoulders, addressing her as “Young Mistress.”

The woman asked, “How did it go?”

“The fortress’s defenses were easy to defend but hard to attack. We only managed to take down half of the outposts. Concerned for your safety, Young Mistress, I came here ahead of the others.”

The woman scoffed, “Easy to defend, hard to attack? With all the information and planning, you all struggled, but others managed to wipe out most of the bandits and take down this hall in just one night.”

The man in black knelt, “Please forgive me, Young Mistress. It was my incompetence that hindered your plans.”

After a moment of silence, the woman changed the subject, “When you watched that woman fighting the bandit leaders, how many sword strikes did you see her make?”

The man hesitated, then answered, “I am not as skilled, Young Mistress. I only saw her make eight strikes.”

The woman chuckled lightly, “Eight? I saw eleven.”

“You have exceptional talent and deep internal energy, Young Mistress, surely you saw what I could not.”

The woman approached a pillar, caressing the sword marks on it, “Actually, she used thirteen strikes.”

Thirteen strikes with a blunt sword, each strike claiming a life. The head bandit had fainted early on, leaving twelve. One begged for mercy and was spared, thus only eleven lives were taken. The remaining two strikes left marks on this pillar.

The man in black was startled, “Could this woman’s skills be equal to those of a Martial Champion?”

The woman questioned, “Do you recognize her?”

“I do not, Young Mistress. Her swordsmanship somewhat resembles the Taixu Sword Art of Wuwei Palace, but…”

“But it is far superior, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“A fascinating play indeed. Investigate them. Find out who these seven are. If there’s no clue, spread the news about what happened in Fanyun Fuyu Thirteen Fortresses. Someone else will investigate them for us.”

“Yes.”

The woman, gazing at the corpses, sneered, “Yuan Wenliu and Meiren Gu ran fast, probably heard some rumors. Those two are craftier than foxes; no wonder they’ve survived so long.”

Amidst the roaring flames, a groan suddenly emerged from the heap of bodies. One of the corpses struggled to stand up.

The two turned their attention to the scene, and the woman curved her lips into a sly smile. “Looks like a fish slipped through the net. Lucky he’s alive, saves me the trouble for my plans.”

With a few quick steps, the woman approached Yin Lei and struck swiftly. Caught off guard, Yin Lei couldn’t react in time and found himself paralyzed, slumping to the ground.

The woman chuckled softly, “So, you’re the head of the bandits.”

This display of skill clearly revealed her deep martial strength. Yin Lei was shocked; he had previously seen her as a weak and defenseless woman. A thought crossed his mind – she might be another ‘Qing Jiu’.

“Who are you!” he demanded.

The woman took a long sword handed to her by the man in black. Pointing the blade at Yin Lei, she said crisply, “I don’t want to waste words or hear them.”

“A while ago, you robbed a convoy at the base of your mountain. Among the items was a map of King Cheng’s tomb.”

Yin Lei, gritting his teeth, glared at the woman.

“Not talking?”

With a swift turn of her sword, she plunged it into the floor, slicing off two of Yin Lei’s fingers.

Yin Lei screamed in pain, unable to move, cursing, “Witch!”

The woman withdrew her sword, moving its tip towards Yin Lei’s groin, sneering, “Still not talking?”

Yin Lei’s face turned pale, and he swallowed hard. He wasn’t afraid of death, but the thought of dying in such a humiliating way…

As the sword edged closer, Yin Lei yelled, “I’ll talk! I’ll talk! In the ancestral hall where the family tablets are, there’s a hunting tiger painting. Behind it is a secret compartment, the map is in a box inside that compartment…”

No sooner had he finished speaking, the woman swiftly turned her sword, and Yin Lei felt a chill on his neck followed by a gush of blood. He died within moments.

The fire in the hall was now uncontrollable, the heat unbearable, and their escape route blocked by the raging flames. But the two, with a sweep of their cloaks, broke through a wall and easily leaped out.

Yu’er and her group reached a narrow pass on the edge of a cliff. Looking down from the cliff edge, it seemed bottomless, shrouded in mist. Across, about thirty meters away, a single iron chain connected their side to the opposite cliff. The wind howled, causing the chain to sway violently.

Hu Ye wondered, “Who put up this iron chain?”

There hadn’t been an iron chain on this cliff before, and someone had been guarding it, so it was odd that an iron chain had suddenly appeared.

Hua Lian quipped, “Of course, it was set up by your dear Hua Lian.”

Qing Jiu twirled her long sword, hooking its scabbard around Hu Ye’s collar. With a gentle lift of her arm, she effortlessly hoisted the burly man up with the scabbard.

Qing Jiu, holding Hu Ye, walked to the edge of the cliff. She extended her sword horizontally, leaving Hu Ye suspended in mid-air, his body dangling dangerously over the vast abyss, supported only by the scabbard of her sword.

The Yan Ling Mountain was a marvel of nature, its sheer cliffs intimidating to anyone who stood at their edge, causing their hands and legs to go weak, and their heads to spin. Fortunately for Hu Ye, his acupoints had been sealed, immobilizing him. This paralysis, coupled with Qing Jiu’s precise control, prevented any tremors that could have sent him plummeting into the abyss.

Hu Ye shouted desperately, “Miss, spare my life, please spare me!” His bravado from the hall was gone.

Qing Jiu inquired coldly, “Where is Meiren Gu?”

“I’ll tell you! Just pull me up first,” he begged.

Qing Jiu remained silent, unflinching.

Hu Ye, too scared to look down and feeling his heart might burst out of his chest, had no choice but to speak, “He’s in Jiangnan, both he and Yuan Wenliu are in Jiangnan!”

“Where in Jiangnan?” Qing Jiu pressed.

“Suzhou, Jiangnan Suzhou, Miss, please pull me up!”

Qing Jiu stared at him coldly for a moment. Then, suddenly, she let the sword scabbard slip down, catching Hu Ye off guard. His eyes widened in terror as he lost support and plummeted into the deep abyss, his screams fading away as he fell.

“Oops, the sword slipped,” Qing Jiu remarked nonchalantly.

Qi Tianzhu, looking troubled, said, “Miss Qing Jiu, he was begging for mercy and repenting on the way here, promising to atone for his sins with the rest of his life. Why not spare him?”

Qing Jiu sheathed her sword, “I didn’t want to spare him.”

Qi Tianzhu was taken aback. He had expected a justification like ‘his crimes are too numerous to forgive,’ but her straightforward response left him speechless.

Qing Jiu smiled slightly, “What’s the matter? Has the master developed a heart of compassion?”

This comment struck Qi Tianzhu profoundly, like a whip to his conscience, bringing clarity to his thoughts.

He realized the irony – he had come for vengeance, showing no mercy in killing those men. These bandits, with countless innocent lives on their hands, truly did not deserve pity. Yet, why did he feel a sense of mercy seeing someone else enact the same justice? These were things he himself couldn’t even do.”

Shaking his head in realization, Qi Tianzhu clasped his hands together in a gesture of respect towards Qing Jiu, saying, “I am ashamed.”

Qing Jiu didn’t dwell on it. She exchanged a knowing look with Hua Lian and Tang Linzhi, and they immediately understood her unspoken message.

Qing Jiu declared, “It’s time to go.”

Yu’er, looking at the cliff and noticing that no one seemed to have any intention of turning back, couldn’t help but ask softly, “How do we cross?”

Qing Jiu replied with a smile, “We fly over.”

As she spoke, Tang Linzhi, holding Mo Wen, lightly touched the tip of her foot on the iron chain and swiftly glided across. On the swaying iron chain suspended over the vast abyss, she moved as if on flat ground, using the chain to propel herself forward with ease. Her figure, graceful like a migratory goose, headed towards the opposite cliff.

Qi Tianzhu, witnessing this, couldn’t help but exclaim, “Such impressive lightness skill!”

He marveled in admiration, thinking to himself, “What an extraordinary group of people!”

Next was Hua Lian, who called out to Qi Tianzhu, “Da Zhuzhi!”

Qi Tianzhu, recognizing the nickname, didn’t take offense. He moved beside Hua Lian, only to hear him mutter, “I always seem to be the one doing the heavy lifting.”

Hua Lian wrapped an arm around Qi Tianzhu’s waist and, with a burst of energy, leaped towards the iron chain. His lightness skill was even more impressive, moving as swift as the wind, both light and quick.

Qing Jiu, with one arm around Yan Li, reached out to grab Yu’er. Seeing that they were indeed going to ‘fly’ across the cliff, Yu’er couldn’t help feeling tense.

“Don’t look down,” Qing Jiu advised with a smile.

“Okay,” Yu’er responded.

Yu’er instinctively clutched the side of Qing Jiu’s clothes, cautious not to pull too tightly. As Qing Jiu leaped into the air, Yu’er looked up at her.

The moon was exceptionally bright that night, and Yu’er felt as if Qing Jiu, moving under the night sky, had transformed into an embodiment of the moon itself.

Even though she was holding onto her, Qing Jiu seemed as distant as the moon in the sky, unreachable.

Translation note:
              Da Zhuzhi (大柱子) – Big Pillar

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Khriss
Khriss
22 days ago

Yes. Our little Yu has a long way to go before she saves anyone. But I believe Yu will save the world.
Thanks for the chapter!