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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jul 09, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 76: Qin Gui

Martial Arts Competition Under The Heavens (Part Twenty One)

The wind was picking up, howling continuously, and though Yu’er had been lying down for most of the day, she found herself unable to sleep as night fell. Perhaps it was the change in location, or maybe it was the absence of a familiar presence by her side that she wasn’t accustomed to.

Yu’er sighed softly, her breath echoing in the empty bedroom, making the sound of the wind outside seem even more colder.

She got dressed and stepped outside, only to see the scattered thin clouds drifting across the sky, casting a smoky veil over the moon.

The surroundings were still illuminated; lanterns lit the pathways of Mingjian Manor as guards patrolled throughout the night, vigilant against any more disappearances.

Yu’er walked aimlessly forward, and by the time she came to her senses, she had strayed some distance from the Wuwei Palace residence. The dim moonlight was just enough to make out the path; it turned out she had unconsciously headed towards Ningqing Garden.

Yu’er: “…”

Yu’er sighed softly once more and turned to retrace her steps.

It was better to return to the Wuwei Palace residence. Venturing out to the garden in the middle of the night would only cause unnecessary worry for others.

After walking back just a few paces, Yu’er’s ears twitched, catching the faint sound of rustling from a nearby thicket. Her eyes darkened as her hand reached for the dagger, Shang Sheng, at her waist.

As the sound approached, a dark figure emerged, and Yu’er’s figure sprung up, the sword in her hand flashing coldly in the night.

Yu’er held her dagger to the person’s neck, grabbing their right wrist to control their pulse.

The person’s voice trembled slightly as they said, “Yu… Yu’er miss…”

Yu’er was startled. She released her grip and withdrew Shang Sheng, stepping back a little. She frowned slightly as she looked at the person and asked, “What are you doing here?”

Zixia rubbed his neck, relieved to find it intact. He blushed at Yu’er’s question, thankful for the darkness that hid his embarrassment, and stammered, “I… I couldn’t sleep…”

Yu’er asked, “Are you worried about the two missing disciples from the Qixian Palace?”

Zixia nodded and said, “I found myself walking here without thinking… I saw you walking alone, and since the reason behind those disappearances hasn’t been figured out, it’s not safe to be out alone at night, so I…” His words implied that he was worried about Yu’er wandering alone late at night.

Yu’er chuckled lightly and said, “Shouldn’t you be more worried about yourself?”

Zixia’s cheeks flushed even redder, realizing he had lost to her in a martial contest just a few days ago. “I saw that you were injured by Young Master Yan in today’s match. Are you alright?”

“It’s just a minor injury. Thank you for your concern.”

Zixia said, “The wind is strong here. Let me escort you back first, so you don’t catch a cold.”

Yu’er had intended to return anyway, and considering that both the Qixian Palace and Wuwei Palace residences were in the same direction, she nodded in agreement. As they headed towards the residence of Wuwei Palace, distant sounds of a skirmish reached them from the direction of Mingjian Manor’s garden.

Their expressions changed instantly, and they stealthily moved towards the source of the noise.

As the sounds of fighting grew louder, they hushed their breaths and hid behind a large banyan tree to see who was battling in the dead of night.

In the dim moonlight, they saw three figures, each standing atop a different spot – one on a rockery, one in a pavilion in the center of a lake, and one on a stone lantern along the path.

Atop the stone lantern was a woman holding a zither, her dress fluttering, her dark hair pinned up with two jade hairpins, the tips of her eyebrows tinged red, her eyes cold and her smile devoid of any warmth.

The one in the lakeside pavilion was a man with sharp features, wielding a willow-leaf saber. A short dagger hung at his waist. His eyes were as still and deep as stagnant water.

These two were facing Yu’er and Zixia, allowing them to see their faces clearly. The third person was turned away from them. Yu’er didn’t recognize the other two, but she could tell from just the silhouette that the third person was Hua Lian.

The night wind howled, and as soon as the three people separated, they clashed again in an instant.

The man with the willow-leaf saber seemed to want to leave, but Hua Lian refused to let him go. The woman holding the zither was not on the same side as the man. Rather than assisting either of them, she would pluck her zither strings and launch an attack whenever she spotted an opening in their defenses. Judging by her technique, it bore an eighty to ninety percent resemblance to that Qixian Palace.

Yu’er turned to look at Zixia and asked, “The technique she’s using looks like it’s from your Qixian Palace, is she one of your disciples?”

Zixia stared intently at the woman holding the zither, his expression serious, and shook his head.

Just as Yu’er was about to ask him, she suddenly saw two more people arrive one after another. The first person had fluttering sleeves. Upon seeing the man wielding the willow-leaf saber clearly, he immediately shouted, “Brother Hua Lian, don’t let him escape! That man is Feixu, the one who injured Miss Tang while assisting Yanyu Pavilion against the Liusha Gang.”

Upon seeing the newcomer, Yu’er was surprised to recognize it was Yang Chun. Just as Yang Chun arrived, the sound of whistling projectiles filled the air as several hidden weapons targeted Feixu. A dark figure swiftly followed Yang Chun; it was Tang Linzhi.

Yu’er was surprised; these people should have been at Ningqing Garden. How had they ended up at Mingjian Manor, engaged in a fight.

There was still no sign of the manor’s patrol guards. It was unclear whether they hadn’t patrolled this area or had been quietly taken out by someone.

Seeing that Hua Lian had reinforcements, the woman with the zither said with a laugh, “It’s no fun with too many people. Continue without me; I’ll take my leave.”

With that, she plucked a string, producing a clear, melodious sound that resonated through the air.

Suddenly, Yu’er felt a moment of dizziness, and even the figure of the woman became blurred. There was only one thought in her mind: “This woman’s skill is on a completely different level from Zixia’s.”

For Zixia, this was a martial art from the same sect. Although his internal energy was not as strong as Hua Lian and the others, the techniques were from the same origin, so the impact of the zither sound on him was naturally much smaller. Seeing the woman leave, his expression immediately turned solemn, and he quickly chased after her.

Yu’er, still somewhat dazed, only felt a breeze stir beside her as she quickly grabbed hold, exclaiming, “You shouldn’t go!”

Zixia said, “I have to.”

Shaking off her hand, Zixia chased after the woman. Gritting her teeth, Yu’er followed without a second thought.

Hua Lian and the others seemed to have been affected as well. By the time they came back to their senses, the woman was long gone.

Hua Lian frowned and said, “Yang Chun, go after that woman.” Both Feixu and that woman were searching for the Fenghou Sword, so neither of them could be let go. They had just figured out the sword’s hiding place in the Mingjian Manor, and although they hadn’t gotten their hands on the sword, they had unexpectedly hooked two big fish.

Yang Chun recoiled slightly, then laughed, “I wouldn’t dare provoke that woman. Brother Hua, don’t put me in a difficult position.”

Hua Lian shouted, “Who’s asking you to engage her? Just follow her from a distance and track her movements. If you can’t handle her, you know how to run, don’t you?”

Tang Linzhi had already begun fighting with Feixu. Hua Lian, remembering how badly Tang Linzhi had been injured last time, knew she was no match for Feixu. Moreover, this wasn’t the time to rashly draw the Chini. He needed to stay here and provide support.

Yang Chun’s courage finally grew a little, and he exclaimed, “Brother Hua Lian’s words make some sense.”

With that, Yang Chun leapt into action, moving with agility and grace like the wind, and called out, “Ah, such is the life of hardship. Don’t forget to tell Miss Qing Jiu I went through all this trouble for her!”

Before the sound of his voice had faded away, he had already disappeared without a trace.

On the other side, Zixia and Yu’er chased after the woman all the way out of the manor. The woman showed no intention of stopping, as if she was going to leave Mount Huxiao entirely.

After regaining her senses, Yu’er felt that it was unwise to continue following. The gap between their skills and the woman’s was too vast. If they were discovered, they might not even be able to save their lives.

Yu’er gathered her energy and caught up to Zixia, grabbing his wrist and bringing him to a stop.

Zixia turned back, looking at her with confusion.

Yu’er said, “We can’t keep chasing her. This woman’s skills are exceptional. If she’s malicious, we could be in grave danger if discovered. We should report back to our elders first and let them handle it.”

Zixia nodded and said, “Miss Yu’er, you’re right! I didn’t think this through. Hurry back and report this to Manor Master Yan. I’ll keep tracking that woman so we don’t lose her.”

Yu’er frowned and said, “Do you not understand what I’m saying? Her whereabouts are less important than our lives.”

Zixia shook his head, looking at Yu’er with gratitude. He said, “Miss Yu’er, that woman may be related to the disappearance of my fellow disciples. I can’t ignore this, even at the cost of my life. I have to get to the bottom of it. You shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place, putting yourself in danger. Go, quickly, and inform Manor Master Yan.”

Yu’er was stunned, “She’s connected to your disciples’ disappearance… Do you recognize her?”

Zixia said, “I…”

Before he could finish his sentence, laughter rang out from deep within the forest. Although the voice was pleasant, the laughter was like being soaked in ice water, making one’s whole body shiver. “What’s the matter? Don’t want to play the game of cat and mouse anymore?”

Yu’er and Zixia were struck with horror, realizing the situation had taken a turn for the worse. It seemed their movements had been discovered by the woman long ago.

Yu’er still pulled Zixia to hide behind a tree, fearing it was a trick to draw them out.

However, the woman swiftly plucked her zither strings, sending several blasts of wind that snapped a large tree, as thick as two people hugging, in half right in front of them.

Zixia, covered in cold sweat, said in a low voice “Miss Yu’er, I’ve put you in danger. I’ll distract her, and you should take the chance to escape!”

The woman gently plucked the zither string, letting out a soft “hmph” with a long-drawn-out ending note.

She commented, “Quite patient, aren’t we?”

Just as the woman was about to pluck the string again, Zixia had already rushed out from the bushes, saying, “Senior, please stop.”

Yu’er still crouched in the bushes. She saw the woman’s movements pause, her gaze sweeping over Zixia’s attire and then glancing at his bamboo flute. With a smile that wasn’t quite a smile, she said, “So you’re from the Qixian Palace.”

A cold glint flashed in the woman’s eyes. She discreetly scanned the surroundings, trying to see if Gong Shang had come as well. “Why are you following me?” she asked.

Zixia bowed to her, neither humbly nor arrogantly, “Senior, a few days ago, two disciples from our sect went missing. I wonder if senior has seen them?”

The woman narrowed her eyes and said coldly, “Why do I feel like you’re interrogating me?”

“I wouldn’t dare.”

The woman’s laughter echoed towards the heavens, “Whether I’ve seen them or not, what does it matter?”

“If Senior has seen them, please inform me of the whereabouts of my fellow disciples.”

The woman suddenly flashed a charming smile, her voice becoming exceptionally soft, “Tell Gong Shang to come talk to me himself.”

“This…”

“What? Is he too scared to face me, to the point of not even caring about his disciples?”

Yu’er, hidden within the bushes, heard and saw it all, perceiving the woman’s mood swings and a hint more madness than normal people, thinking, “This woman is familiar with Palace Master Gong Shang and knows the secret techniques of the Qixian Palace, but Zixia said she’s not a member of the Qixian Palace.”

A thought flashed through Yu’er’s mind. Suddenly, she remembered a person Liu Xiu had mentioned during the chaos at Yanyu Pavilion. Her blood surged, and without further thought, she stood up.

Seeing her come out, Zixia was immediately anxious and said, “Miss Yu’er, what are you doing coming out?”

The woman laughed, “Finally decided to show yourself?”

Yu’er took a deep breath and called out, neither lightly nor heavily, “Senior Qin Gui.”

The woman’s expression didn’t change, still smiling, “I see you’re not from the Qixian Palace. Are you also here to ask me for someone?”

Yu’er was just testing the waters. Hearing the woman’s implied meaning, she had already acknowledged herself as Qin Gui.

In the Tomb of King Cheng, within the Ghost Sect, two people had once said to Qing Jiu, “We really should have invited Qin Gui to see this, to observe her remarkable disciple.” Yu’er had an excellent memory. Naturally, she remembered things related to Qing Jiu even more clearly.

This person, she realized, was Qing Jiu’s master.

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Khriss
Khriss
9 days ago

OMG surprise Master spotting! QJ backstory? Is that why QJ has the pan flutes? We’ve never seen her use her flutes, maybe that’s her ultimate thing. Or she was so abysmally bad at it that she ran away or something. QG is pretty sus. Rn QJ is sick with Gui though, I wonder if that was intentional.
Thanks for the TL!