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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jul 10, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 78: Returning Home

Martial Arts Competition Under The Heavens (Part Twenty Three)

A figure slowly approached from beyond the forest, accompanied by the enchanting sound of the zither growing ever closer.

The person was dressed in a pristine white robe, impeccably attired, with a jade crown holding their hair in place. They exuded an air of elegance and warmth, holding a jade zither in one hand while plucking its strings with the other. This person was none other than Gong Shang.

Though nearing forty, time seemed to have left no mark on him, instead adding a touch of grace to his demeanor.

Gong Shang’s zither, known as ‘Lieshi’, was famed for its power, as described by the phrase, ‘Piercing clouds and splitting stones, unrivaled under the heavens’.’ ‘Piercing Clouds’ referred to a divine spear, ‘Chuanyun’, and this divine instrument, ‘Lieshi’, was Gong Shang’s zither

The sound of Lieshi was harmonious and smooth. Though not loud, it managed to suppress the discordant music produced by Qin Gui.

Gong Shang slightly lifted his gaze, looking at Zixia and Yu’er, who were injured and lying on the ground, and sighed, “You’ve become even more ruthless and bloodthirsty.”

Qin Gui was extremely delighted, playing her tune higher and louder until, with a sudden sharp twang, six of her seven strings snapped, and the music stopped. A flush of red spread across her face, enhancing her radiant beauty, as she exclaimed, “Tonight is auspicious, to be reunited with my beloved disciple, and to see you.”

Gong Shang’s zither music paused briefly but remained gentle. Qing Jiu knew he was trying to soothe Zixia and Yu’er’s state of mind to prevent their internal injuries from worsening.

Qing Jiu stepped forward, holding Yu’er in her arms. Yu’er was already drifting in and out of consciousness. Seeing Qing Jiu’s face in a daze, that cold, ethereal face she had once mistaken for a celestial under the moonlight, Yu’er reached out her right hand, lightly touching Qing Jiu’s chin with her fingers. Seeing the urgency in Qing Jiu’s eyes, Yu’er’s heart twisted in pain, and she coughed up a mouthful of blood.

“Yu’er.”

Gong Shang’s zither music grew even softer and deeper. Yu’er’s head rested against Qing Jiu’s chest as she gradually fell into unconsciousness.

Qing Jiu turned to look back at Qin Gui, her gaze sharp, like cold lightning, and she called out, “Master!”

Holding the zither, Qin Gui laughed, “Don’t look at Master like that. You’re scaring me.”

“Does it hurt you to see her in pain?”

“I didn’t want her to suffer like this. I intended to end her pain quickly, but you interfered with your flute playing.”

At this point, Qin Gui glanced at Yu’er in Qing Jiu’s arms, the smile on her lips growing more meaningful, “And who would have thought this girl’s heart would be so entangled with emotions, burdened with so many worries… That’s why she was hurt so severely…”

Qing Jiu bowed her head, quietly holding the unconscious Yu’er, warming her body.

“Wen Rao.” Gong Shang asked, “Why have you come to the Mingjian Manor? Does my disciple’s disappearance have anything to do with you?”

Qin Gui responded ambiguously, “Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.”

“Wen Rao!” Gong Shang’s tone grew slightly heavier.

Qin Gui laughed, “It probably doesn’t.”

If anyone else had heard such a playful and ambiguous response, they would have assumed that she was definitely responsible for the matter. However, Qing Jiu and Gong Shang understood her nature, and upon hearing her words, they were certain that she had nothing to do with it.

Gong Shang asked again, “Then why have you come to the Mingjian Manor?”

Qin Gui replied, “If you can come, why can’t I? Naturally, I came to see… the Fenghou Sword.”

Gong Shang said, “The Ghost Sect also received an invitation from Mingjian Manor. Instead of coming in properly as a guest, you chose to sneak in like a thief in the middle of the night.”

As Gong Shang spoke, the sound of scattered footsteps could be heard from the forest, rustling and approaching rapidly.

A figure in green landed on a nearby tree and whispered, “Miss Qing Jiu, Manor Master Yan is coming with his people.”

Qin Gui looked up at Yang Chun with a glance. Yang Chun shivered involuntarily and stepped back, almost falling from the branch. He flipped in midair, landing steadily, and quickly hid behind the tree, sneaking peeks at Qin Gui.

Qin Gui, with one hand on her zither, suddenly moved in front of Qing Jiu and reached out to touch her face. Qing Jiu, cradling Yu’er, couldn’t stop her and just turned her head slightly, frowning lightly.

Qin Gui smiled warmly, “My good disciple, my obedient disciple, your master will come to see you again when I have time.”

Turning back to Gong Shang, Qin Gui said, “Seeing you today is enough, not seeing the Fenghou Sword doesn’t matter.”

With that, she turned and headed deep into the forest, disappearing from sight after just a few leaps.

Zixia struggled to his feet, holding his chest. His concerns were trivial, unlike Yu’er’s deep worries, and although he suffered internal injuries from his practice derived from the same source as Qin Gui’s, they were not as severe as Yu’er’s, leaving him conscious albeit weak. He asked feebly, “Master, aren’t you going to keep her here?”

Gong Shang sighed softly, “Forcing her to stay might endanger your life and that young lady’s.”

Qing Jiu, with Yu’er in her arms, began to walk back when Gong Shang called out to her, “Zi Gui.”

Qing Jiu’s steps faltered. Gong Shang spoke gently, “Take her to my place. The internal injuries caused by Wen Rao’s zither shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Qing Jiu nodded. By now, the sky was gradually brightening, and the chill in the forest grew even more intense.

Yang Chun followed behind Qing Jiu and looked back to see Gong Shang supporting Zixia with the zither Lieshi on his back. He stepped closer to Qing Jiu and whispered, “Miss Qing Jiu, why did Palace Master Gong Shang call you Zi Gui?”

Qing Jiu didn’t respond, holding Yu’er as she walked with light, steady, and swift steps.

Yang Chun asked again, “Are you really Qin Gui’s disciple?”

Qing Jiu paused, and just when Yang Chun thought she might respond, their attention was drawn to the rustling of footsteps nearby.

Yang Chun turned his head and saw that Yan Beili had arrived with his people, along with some other jianghu heroes.

With a single glance, Yan Beili noticed Yu’er in Qing Jiu’s arms. Seeing the blood staining her chest, her eyes closed and face pale, his expression changed dramatically. He hurried forward, intending to check her pulse.

Qing Jiu turned sideways, avoiding Yan Beili’s outstretched hand, and said, “She has suffered internal injuries and needs time to recover.”

Yan Beili’s hand awkwardly remained suspended in mid-air. He then noticed Qing Jiu, taken aback by her ethereal and unforgettable beauty, realizing he had never seen her before.

Upon closer inspection and recognizing her deep connection with Yu’er, as well as her attire, he recalled the person who had injured Yan Jianyu by flicking the teacup and realized she had disguised her appearance.

Supporting Zixia, Gong Shang approached. Yan Beili asked, “Palace Master Gong Shang, where is the thief?”

Gong Shang shook his head, “She escaped.”

Yan Beili asked, “Did the Palace Master recognize her?”

Gong Shang sighed, “It was Qin Gui.”

A chorus of gasps arose from the crowd, and someone angrily said, “It was actually someone from the Ghost Sect.”

“How brazen, causing trouble in Mingjian Manor.”

Seeing the crowd blocking the way without making room, Qing Jiu frowned slightly, not wanting to delay any further. With a light tap of her foot, she leaped over the heads of the crowd.

Yang Chun hurriedly followed, shouting, “Miss Qing Jiu, wait for me!”

The crowd was stunned into silence. Yan Beili said, “Palace Master, their injuries are serious. Let’s return to the manor to discuss any matters.”

Gong Shang nodded in agreement, and the group quickly made their way back to the manor.

Qing Jiu brought Yu’er to the place where the Qixian Palace was staying. Yang Chun was sent by Qing Jiu to bring Mo Wen over. Gong Shang personally burned incense and played the zither for Yu’er, helping her calm her internal energy and regulate her breathing.

As dawn approached, Qing Jiu waited outside, sitting on the porch. The branches and leaves hanging in front of the porch were covered in autumn frost, glistening white.

She gazed at the jade flute in her hand and sighed softly, exhaling a puff of white mist.

The door behind her creaked open. Gong Shang walked out slowly. Qing Jiu immediately stood up and looked at him.

Gong Shang spoke softly, “Her internal injuries are quite severe. It will take more than a day for her to recover. After the martial arts competition, take her to Qixian Palace.”

Qing Jiu lowered her head and remained silent. Gong Shang said, “You need not worry too much, she can be healed. Now that I have slightly adjusted her with my music, she can function like a normal person, but she must not exert her internal energy. Once your affairs are settled, you can take her to the Qixian Palace for thorough treatment.”

Qing Jiu said hoarsely, “Thank you.”

Gong Shang replied, “There’s no need for such formalities with me.”

Gong Shang stood with his hands behind his back, gazing at the gradually brightening sky. The white frost had turned into glistening dewdrops. His voice was filled with sadness as he spoke, “When I received the jade flute, I hardly dared to believe that you were still alive. On the first day of the banquet, I saw the jade flute at your waist. You had changed your appearance, and your demeanor was distinctly different from before. I thought it wasn’t you, that someone had stolen your jade flute. Seeing you today, I can finally believe that you are alive and well, with close friends by your side, having shed the gloom that once surrounded you. If Qing Chao knew in the afterlife, I wonder how overjoyed she would be.”

As they conversed, Yang Chun and Hua Lian arrived in haste, supporting Mo Wen, with Tang Linzhi following.

As soon as they landed, Mo Wen stared at Qing Jiu with a face full of resentment, not saying a word.

Qing Jiu smiled helplessly, “Yu’er’s injuries are quite serious. Please understand.”

Mo Wen was taken aback. Although she knew Yu’er was injured, she thought that with Qing Jiu by her side, it wouldn’t be too serious. Seeing Qing Jiu’s expression, she realized the gravity and nodded to Qing Jiu before entering the room to examine Yu’er’s condition.

Hua Lian and the others, who had been worried about Yu’er’s injuries, noticed Qing Jiu’s low spirits and felt it inappropriate to ask. Instead, they comforted her, “Don’t worry. With Mo Wen here, nothing will happen to little Yu’er.”

Qing Jiu asked, “Yang Chun said you intercepted another person named Feixu, the one who injured Linzhi?”

Hua Lian said embarrassedly, “He managed to escape.”

Tang Linzhi was still furious about the matter. In their second confrontation, if it had been a one-on-one duel, she still wouldn’t have been a match for Feixu. This time, the man had no intention of fighting and was solely focused on escaping, and they hadn’t even been able to detain him. Tang Linzhi said, “Someone was assisting him. He didn’t come alone.”

Hua Lian said, “I heard from Yang Chun that the woman who escaped was Qin Gui. She doesn’t seem to be on the same side as Feixu. Initially, Feixu targeted the Chini Bow-Sword at Yanyu Pavilion, and now he has come to Mingjian Manor to steal the Fenghou. Who could be backing him…”

Qing Jiu frowned and pondered, muttering to herself, “Not the Ghost Sect, but the Xuanji Tower?”

Hua Lian asked, “What did you say?”

Qing Jiu shook her head. Hua Lian sighed, “If the Ghost Sect is openly trying to collect divine weapons, then that group operates in the shadows. One overt, one covert, their movements are increasing. The winds of change are stirring. Yesterday, a diviner cast a hexagram, that the star of calamity is shifting, and great danger is imminent.”

Qing Jiu remained silent for a long while, then lowered her voice, “Have you seen the sword?”

Hua Lian said, “Just as we had located its position, we encountered those two. With all that has happened, Mingjian Manor will likely guard this sword even more closely now. It won’t be as easy to find anymore.”

“By the way, since you already know that the sword is a fake, why bother trying to find it? Let Mingjian Manor do as they please; we can just sit back and watch the show.”

Qing Jiu said, “Yan Beili is a man of integrity and straightforwardness. If the sword were fake, he wouldn’t make such a grand display of appraising it.”

Hua Lian twirled his folding fan and said, “I heard the sword was found by Yan Beili’s second son, Yan Jianyu. I find his character deplorable, lacking Yan Beili’s integrity. It’s possible he tampered with it.”

Qing Jiu said, “For such an important matter, Yan Beili wouldn’t neglect to examine the sword himself. Even if he can’t recognize the Fenghou Sword, the difference between a divine weapon and an ordinary one is substantial. A careful inspection would reveal any discrepancies. If he didn’t notice anything, there’s only one possibility…”

At this point, Qing Jiu paused, her words trailing off.

The three of them maintained their composure, all looking towards the door. After a moment, Yan Siguo entered with a group of attendants. He bowed to Qing Jiu and said, “Miss, my father has a matter to discuss with you and requests your presence.”

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Khriss
Khriss
13 days ago

Hummm Yu’er is out of commission for the next hot second, I wonder what QJ will be up to in the meantime! I bet QJ has an inkling about what that heart worry is hahaha, the real question is wether she will do anything to remedy that.
Thanks for the chapter!