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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 30, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 63: Provocation

Martial Arts Competition Under The Heavens (Part Eight)

By the time Hua Lian and the others got up and ready, the group leisurely made their way to the martial arts competition stage. Several rounds of the competition had already passed on the stage.

Although many people had come this time, the Mingjian Manor was generous with its arrangements. The venue was spacious, with nearly a hundred chairs arranged around the four sides of the competition stage. There were also viewing towers on all four sides, allowing spectators to watch the competition from both above and below, accommodating the nearly thousand people present.

In one corner below the competition stage, seats were also arranged for the Yanyu Pavilion. The attendants guarding outside led the group in, guiding them to the east side of the competition stage, where there were two empty chairs.

Zhu Ji greeted them with a smile and a bow, saying, “Since these are for Yanyu Pavilion, I shall make myself comfortable.”

The group was easygoing and let him sit. Hua Lian and Yang Chun enjoyed the lively atmosphere and squeezed into the crowded viewing tower, with Tang Linzhi also preferring to stay up high, accompanying the two. Mo Wen chose to stay away from the competition stage, remaining in the tranquil Ningqing Garden. Yan Li and Qi Tianzhu stood, their gazes sweeping around as they searched for their sect. With one chair still unoccupied, Qing Jiu gracefully seated herself, her robes swirling elegantly.

Yu’er, standing behind her, inadvertently glanced at Qing Jiu’s back. The glossy black hair parted slightly, revealing a stretch of fair neck. The skin, set off by the ink-black hair, appeared even more snow-white, like a glowing jade.

Yu’er’s breath became erratic, she tightened her grip on the prayer beads in her hand and subtly turned her head away.

The competition stage was square, with seats arranged on all four sides. Those seated on the east side were all from renowned sects, such as the Jiuxiao Manor in the center.

Yu’er could now see the side profile of Jun Lin, the Master of Jiuxiao Manor. He had a refined and distinguished appearance, with a demeanor as deep as the ocean and as towering as a mountain, making him a very pleasant person to look at.

Yu’er couldn’t help but steal a few extra glances. Two women stood beside Jun Lin. One was Jun Sixue, and the other was a slender woman in a light green dress. She carried a sword in one hand, her features gentle and beautiful, her bearing even more composed than Jun Sixue.

Next to the Jiuxiao Manor was the Wuwei Palace. An elderly master sat with dignity, Wei Ran was in a wheelchair, supported by a beautiful young woman in her twenties, with two young disciples standing behind.

Yu’er was just wondering why one person was missing when she heard a commotion from the viewing tower behind her. She turned her attention back to the stage, just as a new round of matches began, featuring familiar faces. One was a disciple of Wuwei Palace, and the other, a burly man who had previously insulted Yanyu Pavilion and Jile City beneath the Cloud Ladder.

The first day of the competition was mostly young practitioners from various sects demonstrating their skills to foster friendship and gauge their abilities against the broader jianghu. From the fourth day onward, the elder members of the sects would flex their muscles, with some challenging the Martial Champions or even the Four Sages.

On the stage, the difference in skill between the two combatants was clear; the disciple from Wuwei Palace was outmatched by the burly man, struggling after a hundred moves, flustered and out of sorts.

However, this couldn’t be blamed on the disciple’s lack of experience. The disciple looked to be only seventeen or eighteen years old, while the burly man had large, protruding ears, appearing to be approaching his thirties. He was clearly using his years of experience to pressure his opponent. Although there was no age limit for the competition, it was customary for participants to be around twenty years old. That was why there were boos and jeers from the viewing tower when the burly man took the stage.

With a swift move, the burly man flicked the disciple’s sword away with his tiger-head saber, exploiting his opponent’s moment of panic to strike him on the chest, sending him flying off the stage. The burly man reached out with precision to catch the flying sword.

The burly man wore steel wrist guards, so this strike was powerful. The disciple immediately crumpled to the ground, coughing up blood. He staggered a few steps before standing up and bowing to the burly man, saying, “My martial arts are lacking. I concede defeat.”

As the disciple awaited the return of his longsword from the burly man, he was met instead with a cold, mocking laugh. With a flick of his wrist, the burly man tossed the sword into the air and with his tiger-head saber, struck it mid-flight, cleanly snapping the blade in two.

A wave of shock rippled through the crowd below the stage. The disciple stood frozen, disbelief and humiliation flooding his face. “You!” he exclaimed. It was supposed to be a friendly exchange of martial art skills, and such deliberate destruction of another’s weapon was a blatant insult.

The disciple wanted to curse, but the Wuwei Palace had strict rules and required dignified and polite conduct, never allowing crude language. So even though he wanted to curse the man out, his face turned beet red, unable to utter a single word.

The burly man rested his tiger-head saber on his shoulder and laughed, taunted, “o this is the famed Wuwei Palace, the leading sword sect of the century? Spare others the embarrassment of such claims.”

From the viewing tower, Hua Lian changed his voice and shouted, “You’re just a grown man bullying someone younger and less experienced. How dare you judge Wuwei Palace!”

As soon as these words were spoken, people around immediately echoed his sentiments, condemning the burly man for bullying the weak.

Unperturbed and shameless, the burly man retorted, “When you step into jianghu, no one cares whether you’re old or young; they only care if you can hold your ground. He lost because he was weaker. Did I cheat to defeat him? Did I not face every move from Wuwei Palace head-on.”

With a kick, he sent the broken sword off the stage. Raising his chin up, he glared at Wei Ran and bellowed, “Perhaps the Four Progidies of Wuwei Palace have some skill. Why not send someone else to challenge me?”

The defeated disciple, his handsome face flushed with anger, shot back, “And who are you to deserve a match with our elders!”

The burly man laughed heartily and then said, “I misspoke earlier. Indeed, I once held great respect for Wuwei Palace, but that was for the Wuwei Palace of the past. Now, with Daoist Yiye retired, and with four of the six swords either dead, injured, or missing, the Four Auspicious Beasts, once the pillar of your sect, are no longer present. What remains are just inexperienced newcomers. Wuwei Palace has become but a shadow of what it once was. In a hundred, no, in just twenty years, when Jian Wangchen ascends to the heavens, Wuwei Palace will have dwindled to merely a third-rate sect.”

The Six Swords of the Wuwei Palace were from the generation of the sect leader Jian Wangchen, and they were all top-tier masters. Their presence marked the zenith of Wuwei Palace. Unfortunately, four of the six had passed away one after another. Although the Wuwei Palace still had many disciples, few had both excellent foundations and talent. The only one capable of inheriting the sect’s legacy was Jiang Ying, but she was ultimately alone and powerless.

The burly man’s words were extremely disrespectful and contemptuous towards the Wuwei Palace. However, his words bore some painful truth, not entirely born of arrogance.

Looking directly at Wei Ran, he shook his head with a sneering chuckle, “A dragon without its claws is no better than a worm.”

His words mocked not only the diminished power of Wuwei Palace but also seemed to deride Wei Ran’s physical disability.

When the young disciple, filled with shame and anger, returned to his sect with his broken sword, the level of disrespect he faced was unlike anything Wuwei Palace, a sect revered across wulin, had ever encountered before. Overwhelmed by the humiliation and his own shortcomings, tears of frustration welled up in his eyes.

The elder from the palace, furious, slammed his hand on a nearby table, stood up, and barked, “A grown man crying? What for?”

“Why didn’t you use the ‘Spring Returns to Earth’ move just now? You should have thrust it upwards to the left! And what about the Taixu Sword Art? you could have used the three-sword sequence to subdue that brat. Why didn’t you use it!”

The stern voice of the elder made the disciple stand rigid, unable to utter a word as his tears fell even harder.

The two young disciples behind him anxiously called out, “Senior Brother.”

Wei Ran gently said, “Master, Qingran is still young. It’s his first time fighting an outsider, so it’s normal for him to be flustered.”

“When you, Li’er, Ying’er, and that little brat Chenggui participated in the World Martial Arts Competition, weren’t you all just fifteen or sixteen years old!”

Mentioning Yan Li and Mo Chenggui seemed to fuel the elder’s anger further, casting a somber mood over the other members of Wuwei Palace, all of whom looked down, disheartened.

The elder was so angry that he glared with bulging eyes, gritting his teeth, “That arrogant brat! Even if Wuwei Palace is fading, it’s not his place to scorn us. I’ll go up myself and show him the true strength of Wuwei Palace!”

Wei Ran sighed softly and said, “Shishu, you are an elder. Going up now would only prove his point.” Initially, Wuwei Palace hadn’t planned on bringing Wei Ran, but considering this shishu’s volatile temperament—unlike the other disciples—it was only the mild-mannered Wei Ran who could potentially calm him, which is why he was brought along.

The elder paused, then upon reflecting, frowned deeply and conceded, “You make a good point.” He turned to the woman behind Wei Ran and instructed, “Ying’er, go teach that man a lesson. He’s no match for you!”

Jiang Ying remained still, waiting for Wei Ran to speak. She wasn’t inclined to enter the competition; the burly man’s words had struck a chord in her.

She reminisced about the days when all six masters of Wuwei Palace were present, and she, along with her junior brother and senior sister, practiced their martial arts without a care in the world, their adventures in the jianghu filled with pride and freedom. Yet, those days are gone; her masters have passed, her junior brother and senior sister are no longer here, and the talents of Wuwei Palace have withered, leaving a profound sense of desolation.

Wei Ran could see what was on her mind and gently said, “Shishu, the Wuwei Palace has never sought fame or fortune. Bringing Qingran and the others this time was only to let them hone their sword skills. Why bother with what that man says? Whatever Wuwei Palace is, it won’t change because of a few outsider’s words.”

Convinced yet still uneasy, the elder hammered his fist on a nearby tea table, breaking a corner in his agitation, yet his restlessness remained.

Meanwhile, Yan Li was profoundly shaken upon hearing the burly man mention the Four Progidies of Wuwei Palace—’one dead, one injured’—realizing that Wei Ran was the injured, and his Junior Sister Jiang Ying still alive, that left his Junior Brother Mo Chenggui…

Yan Li’s body swayed, and she almost lost her balance. Yu’er and Qing Jiu quickly supported her, but they saw her grief-stricken face and didn’t know how to comfort her.

As the burly man continued to mock Wei Ran, calling him a cripple and declaring Wuwei Palace a sect without a future, Yan Li’s eyes turned cold, and she moved to step onto the stage, clearly intending to confront the man.

Qing Jiu held her back and said, “What good will it do for you to go?”

Yan Li sharply retorted, “I’m going to show him what Wuwei Palace really is!”

Qing Jiu urged, “Take a moment to rest.”

Yan Li didn’t understand what Qing Jiu meant, but then she heard Qing Jiu call out, “Yu’er.”

Yu’er, her face hidden behind a mask, her delicate features smiling beneath it, felt a thrill of excitement and joy in her voice, “May I go?”

Yu’er, observing the gathering of martial artists and the display of various martial arts on the competition stage, felt her youthful spirit ignite. She was eager to test her skills, particularly against the burly man who had previously insulted both Yanyu Pavilion and Xuhuai Valley, and was now also speaking disparagingly of Wuwei Palace, much to Yan Li’s displeasure. Yu’er was especially infuriated with him and hoped to get the opportunity to teach him a lesson herself.

Yan Li had some doubts, “You’ve faced him before; you know he’s somewhat skilled. Yu’er, she…”

Yu’er said, “A disciple of the Wuwei Palace is not so easily defeated.”

Yan Li paused, struck by the spirited stance of the person before her, reminiscent of their carefree days descending the mountain as disciples. A mix of melancholy and satisfaction washed over her, prompting a soft smile as she agreed, “You’re right, Yu’er.”

Yan Li reminded her, “When fighting against that burly man, be careful and don’t let him disrupt your rhythm.” She no longer tried to dissuade Yu’er.

Yu’er nodded. As she was about to go on stage, she suddenly remembered she had no sword in hand. She never carried a long sword, only using a crude iron sword for practice. Qing Jiu had once said, “A good sword is like a close friend. After using a sword for a long time, a swordsman grows attuned to their sword over time and thus will use a good sword for life. So when first choosing a sword, pick one that suits you well.” Because Yu’er had never found a suitable long sword, she didn’t carry one with her.

Seeing her ready to ascend the stage, Yan Li hurried to offer her own sword, but Qing Jiu stopped her. Qing Jiu took the edgeless sword from her waist and handed it to Yu’er, saying, “Use this one.”

Yan Li was shocked and said, “Qing Jiu, you…”

With a reassuring smile from Qing Jiu, Yan Li, with a flick of her whisk, laughed off her concern, “Forget it.”

Qing Jiu said to Yu’er, “That burly man has more than enough strength but lacks agility. The way of overcoming hardness with softness is something you have always practiced. Don’t forget it.”

Yu’er took the sword with both hands and held it close to her chest. Her heart swelled with excitement, and her blood boiled. She said to Qing Jiu, “Qing Jiu, I will win.” Her tone was firm, and when she said those words, it sounds like a foregone conclusion.

Qing Jiu laughed, “Oh, it’s good to be ambitious, but why does it sound like you’re asking me for a reward, hmm?

In fact, Yu’er had no such intention, but hearing Qing Jiu’s words, she couldn’t help but purse her lips and ask, following her lead, “Is it okay?”

“It’s okay.” Qing Jiu’s eyes curved into a smile, and her feather fan rested beside her temple. “If Yu’er wins, I’ll agree to one request from you.”

“Great.” Yu’er became even more delighted. With a light tap of her foot, she held Qing Jiu’s sword and leaped onto the stage, calling out to the burly man who had his back turned, “This little girl has come to ask for your guidance.”

Below the stage, where the Wuwei Palace members sat, the elder abruptly sat up straight, staring at the sword in Yu’er’s hand. Wei Ran and Jiang Ying also had surprised expressions, murmuring, “Liangyi?!”

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Khriss
Khriss
15 days ago

Fortune teller; Yu’er is pure except for her heart, which does no wrong for a strong affection but I fear that her repressed intentions are to become a source of troubles.
QJ: no problem, I will grant her a request and settle those worries.

QJ, sitting up in bed: my kitten-like disciple is actually a tiger!?
/Jk
Thanks for the TL!