Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan

Book 44 - Chapter 8 – The Art of War Approach to the Saber



Watching this, everybody on Bai Ziting’s side was greatly bewildered, simply because based on the direction of Kou Zhong’s current strike, the point of attack could only be within the approximately three chi empty space on Funantuo’s left side, yet watching the momentum of Kou Zhong’s advancing-courageously-and-charging-forward direction, there was no possibility that he would be able to change move or change direction midway.


Finally Funantuo stood still, concentrating his attention completely on Kou Zhong’s approaching momentum. The difference between he and the other spectators was that he could not see that he was about to suffer losses. When martial art masters poised for battle, what they were most afraid of was that they could not clearly grasp what is true and what is false from the opponent. From Tianzhu to the Central Earth, he has always been relying on his xinfa, which was difficult for others to fathom what is true and what is false in him, the ‘Brahma and I not two’ – to go on the rampage without anybody able to control him. Who would have thought that he encountered the crafty-with-hundred-changes Kou Zhong? With the other side’s Way controlling his body, unexpectedly he succeeded in making him losing his grasp on the opponent. Furthermore, it was a superior xinfa, which made him both able to confuse the enemy and adept at observing the enemy. In the end he would open a gap and expose a flaw. Translated by foxs


For the first time, a feeling of uneasiness from not knowing what to do grew in Funantuo’s heart. Without any better option, he tightened his troop disposition in waiting, to see what trick Kou Zhong might play next.


In the blink of an eye, the three-zhang distance was reduced in half.


Kou Zhong took a breath high up in the air, he fully used the flying backward technique that he comprehended from Yun Shuai. The saber following the person, it drew a beautiful arc in the air, swiftly chopping down toward Funantuo, the strong wind it carried was focused and not scattered, increasing without any letup, and was about to lock the opponent tightly and rigidly.


The crowd was like crow and peacock make no sound. Bai Ziting and the others, none did not show alarmed expression. Between the heaven and the earth, unexpectedly there was such a magical shenfa and such a fierce and severe saber move?


This was the first time that Kou Zhong launched the ‘Striking Strange’ of the Eight Methods of the Well using the backward flying method. Moreover, with his momentum being accumulated to the peak, there was indeed a three-army-developing-easily, impossible-to-resist threat.


Facing the blade of the saber, Funantuo finally comprehended Kou Zhong’s saber momentum; unexpectedly it was rushing straight toward him, instead of using circuitous route in deceit, but he was already a hair too late. Even if he could exert himself to block, under the I-am-declining-the-other-is-growing situation, he would inevitably suffer losses, and then the next saber move might be more difficult to parry. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


The moment the saber blade was about to make contact, all the joints in Funantuo’s body made a string of crackling noise, just like the explosion of firecrackers tightly strung together, and then his entire body snapped backward, becoming a ‘human loop’ like object, which rapidly rolled backwards.


Such a strange move, no one, Kou Zhong included, has ever thought that it could happen during the battle.


But Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well was already like an arrow being released from the bowstring. Pulled by his qi, it swiftly accelerated, at the astonishing speed that naked eyes would doubt whether it was a reality or just a fantasy, it rapidly caught up with Funantuo’s human loop. Translated by foxs


‘Dang!’


When it looked like Kou Zhong was about to slash Funantuo, from within the human loop Funantuo’s leg suddenly kicked out, the tip of his foot tapped the tip of the Moon in the Well, a burst of powerful-without-equal force penetrated the saber and invaded in, shocking Kou Zhong’s offensive that it dissipated completely. His qi and blood surging, he was severely shaken and retreated away.


From human loop, Funantuo straightened his body and he flew in horizontal position close to the ground, until he was over three zhang away before in an amazing movement he once again stood up steadily. A burst of deathly white color flitted across his dark-skinned face before it returned to normal. The demonic light in his pair of eyes flaring greatly, he firmly fixed his gaze on Kou Zhong.


Watching the atmosphere, the crowd did not dare to breath out loudly.


For the first time Bai Ziting regretted his decision to approve this battle. He originally thought that it was a golden opportunity to kill Kou Zhong openly and with honor, thereby establishing their prestige and arousing their troops’ morale. Who would have thought that Kou Zhong’s formidability greatly surpassed his expectation? Funantuo unexpectedly suffered losses and sustained injury.


But his eyesight was brilliant; he was able to see that Funantuo was staking everything to avoid being injured by the saber qi, while doing everything he could to even up Kou Zhong’s occupying the upper hand and his superiority. Otherwise, if this situation continued, Funantuo would surely be defeated.


Kou Zhong stood holding the saber across his chest. Laughing aloud, he said, “At the moment Guoshi is facing death. I wonder if you have new understanding on the Way to Live and Die? Why don’t you explain it so that we could share what you have learned through this experience?”


Spoken at this moment, the remark was brimming with cynicism.


Watching the battle from the side, Ba Fenghan whispered in Xu Ziling’s ear, “Old Fu is angry! He can no longer maintain whatever his granny’s Brahma and I as One state.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Funantuo revealed a hint of smile full of murderous intention, so that people felt that this was his real face. Shaking his head, he said, “Young people must not be complacent, because death can change to become life, life can become death. Life and death are originally impermanence, victory and defeat are also impermanence, battles not necessarily yield victory. If Shaoshuai has any last words before you die, you better speak up clearly now.”


Kou Zhong laughed calmly and said, “I have a big basketful of the last words of the dying, but there is no need to speak it out today, because your foundation has been grasped very clearly by me, you still have no qualifications to kill me. Ha! Guoshi seems not to take Da Wang’s instruction to heart. Da Wang has said that as long as victory and defeat are clearly distinguished, that should do it. But Guoshi, you, the Senior just now said that you want to take my life, treating Da Wang’s words as the wind past your ear. This is really strange.” Translated by foxs


Hearing that, Funantuo was slightly startled, but at the same he realized that because he was really angry, he was unable to maintain the Brahma and I as One mental state. But he was already a step too late.


Kou Zhong appeared to be talking cheerfully and wittily, but he was actually constantly looking for the golden opportunity to attack as well as the opponent’s flaw. Having his vital point hit by his words, Funantuo’s mind was slightly distracted, he immediately sensed it; how could he be willing to miss it? He shouted, “Victory first, and then seek the battle. Keep oneself concentrated while the enemy is divided. Work out the victory in relation to the foe. Guoshi already suffered a painful loss, what last words do you want me to leave behind?”


Brandishing his saber he chopped swiftly.


What he recited was the number one great expert on the art of war in the world since the dawn of time until today, Sun Wu’s thesis. Although he pulled one sentence from the east, tore one verse from the west, but combined together, it was the most accurate portrayal of Funantuo’s current condition. Although Funantuo was fully aware that Kou Zhong deliberately wanted to divide his concentration, but every word turned out to be true, hence he could not help being affected, and so it was difficult for him to respond.


Finally Bai Ziting’s countenance changed. This kid Kou Zhong could move unhindered inside and outside the Pass, not only due to his unrivalled saber technique, but more than that, it was due to his brilliant ability, wisdom, and insight. Sunzi’s Art of War’s thirteen chapters only have about five thousand nine hundred characters, but it was wide-ranging and profound, the substance is exquisite and brilliant. Kou Zhong randomly picked some words, and the results were just perfect. Evidently he had fully grasped these thirteen chapters; holding the pearl of wisdom, he even integrated it within the saber technique.


In the air, the Moon in the Well drew a hard-to-describe abstruse trajectory, appearing to be average without anything amazing, but also appeared to be ever changing. His feet moved two, three steps as if very casually, yet the illusion he was producing was like he shrank the nearly two-zhang distance into mere cun. Combined with his profound mystery saber technique, both the combatants in the arena and the spectators on the side all felt that this saber strike was as wonderful as if made by heaven, while having the astonishing might that make the heaven and earth change color. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


“Good!” Ba Fenghan shouted suddenly.


His shout contained power that was spitted out, as if the explosion of thunder on the plain, making everybody’s heart who heard it pounding, while also reminding the enemy that he and Xu Ziling were bold and powerful men of equal standing with Kou Zhong. Ba Fenghan was also a martial art master whom even Bi Xuan failed to kill. Immediately it increased Kou Zhong’s saber strike’s imposing manner, which its might originally already intimidated the world.


Perfect and extraordinary, endless like the heaven and earth, inexhaustible like the river, striving and leaving, merging and striking. Although it was still the ‘Striking Strange’ of the Eight Methods of the Well, just now it was launched in combination with flying backward technique, and now in the success of taking advantage of the ‘striving and leaving’, using the ten-thousand-jun-thunderbolt momentum it went straight to take on the enemy. At this point, it was clear that the ‘Heavenly Saber’ Song Que’s influence on Kou Zhong was very big. Were it not for Song Que’s personal directions, using himself as an example, Kou Zhong would never be able to create the Eight Methods of the Well, which was able to make heaven and earth changed color, the ghosts cry and the gods roar. But it still had to undergo countless life and death bloody battle, one-on-one duels and tangled warfare, struggling and seeking survival on the fringe of death, only then would his saber method be able to reach this ghost-and-god-unable-to-fathom realm. Translated by foxs


But ultimately Funantuo was of a grandmaster level. Right in this life and death crisis, he swiftly calmed his mind. In such a narrow space his body changed irregularly into countless hard-to-tell-whether-it-was-real-or-sham positions. The middle finger of his right hand stretched out, as if it was going to stab but not exactly stabbing, what is true and what is false was difficult to fathom, those who watched were dazzled. If Kou Zhong made a mistake, if he failed to grasp what is true and what is false, the upper hand position he occupied would immediately flow down the drain, as if he would just offer it to the other side with both hands.


Martial art masters in a duel, they strived for precisely this one stance, half a stance.


Attack well, defend even better.


Pleased beyond their expectations, Bai Ziting and the others cheered in chorus.


Ba Fenghan and Xu Ziling, who had just encouraged Kou Zhong, also could not help admiring the brilliance of Funantuo’s defensive style. The most formidable aspect of the Striking Strange of the Eight Method of the Well was its ability to force the enemy to forcefully shake the fire; the only way to break this move was precisely not to forcefully shake it. In this kind of situation, he must first make Kou Zhong unable to attack, to force him not to change move midway, so that Kou Zhong’s momentum tragically suffered devastating setback. Funantuo’s defensive style precisely contained this marvelous function, what is true and what is false was difficult to fathom, so that Kou Zhong would be unable to find the spot where the saber blade should fall.


When both men were crying ‘Bad!’ inwardly, unexpectedly Kou Zhong’s rushing momentum disappeared completely, he stared fixedly and suddenly stopped, loftily standing about a zhang away from Funantuo, the Striking Strange turned into No Attack. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Appearing to be attacking but not exactly attacking, appearing to be defending but not exactly defending.


It was a feeling of movement changing into extremely still, brimming with dramatic shocking power.


The crowd from both sides immediately quieted down, with no noise whatsoever, substantially enhancing this kind of weird feeling.


The Moon in the Well pointed at Funantuo from a distance, creating a shivering cold, suffocating saber qi, enveloping the opponent.


The pupil of Funantuo’s eyes contracting, it emitted concentrated and intense demonic light. Apparently, receiving more shock than the other side, his heart and spirit were snatched away, he was no longer able to maintain his connection with Brahma. Translated by foxs


He no longer maintained the defensive position, he could not grasp the changes of the momentum of Kou Zhong’s move, and he attacked in panic.


Watching this Ba Fenghan and Xu Ziling were dazzled and stunned; they never thought that Kou Zhong’s Striking Strange and No Attack unexpectedly could be reversed, because previously he always launched No Attack first before the Striking Strange.


The No Attack was precisely to force the opponent to change from defense to offense, or from offense to defense, to turn the battle situation around.


One move’s difference, Kou Zhong once again put Funantuo in the disadvantageous position, without giving him any chance.


Not relying on No Attack was relying to some extent on No Attack.


Bai Ziting, Zong Xianghua, and the others with comparatively superior eyesight appeared to have shocked expression.


Funantuo soared into the air, he flew over Kou Zhong’s head. His two hands and two feet, as if they lost normal contact with the bones of the body, like flowing-mercury-no-gap-not-entered violently attacked Kou Zhong under him, fierce and severe to the extreme point, as if four different weapons working together as one, attacking Kou Zhong at the same time. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Where did Guoshi’s Brahma and I not two go? Did you scare it away with your fear of death?”


The yellow light of the Moon in the Well suddenly burst, the saber momentum unfolded, it chopped upward in lightning speed, appearing to be casual, but also appearing to be intentional, great skill appearing to be clumsy, seeming to be simple but was actually ingenious, that kind of light rain sprinkling freely between intentional and unintentional, just like increasing wind brushing the prairie, rolling back and sweeping away. The saber light swiftly flashing, it met the opponent’s howling-wind-and-torrential-rain like intense offensive. It was precisely ‘not absolutely sure to get means it is not outstanding, not absolutely sure of total victory means do not clash with the troops, the predestined affinity is ten-thousand times acting, ten-thousand times blocking; one battle decide it all’, the sixth method of the Eight Methods of the Well, the Battle Decision.


The difference from the past was that each saber strike was deeply in line with Song Que’s Heavenly Saber’s saber method; the saber momentum leaving or staying without any trace, always in between acting with intention and without intention, also like Ning Daoqi’s law, yin and yang correspond in form, Heaven and Man intersect in senses.


The Moon in the Well collided with Funantuo’s hands and feet, producing the sound of qi power clashing against each other, like a string of explosion in rapid succession.


Funantuo displayed his yoga technique to the extreme, he moved up and down, raising and pressing – in the air, to launch a powerful attack from above, down toward Kou Zhong. Yet on the top, Kou Zhong’s saber light was flashing fantastically, while on the bottom his feet were performing strange steps, each shift in position could avoid the important and dwell on the trivial, the flashing was empty but the strike was real, it handled matters with ease. Translated by foxs


The Longquan Army, which was unaware of the inner working, still thought that Funantuo had seized the upper hand and was taking the initiative, they hurriedly cheered for Funantuo, their shouts shook the heavens, which attracted the city residents to rush over and stand in a circle and watch.


Ba Fenghan spoke in low voice, “Old Fu is already like an arrow at the end of its flight, he won’t last too long now. At the beginning I was still a bit worried for Kou Zhong!”


Xu Ziling nodded his head in agreement. The strike from high up in the air that Funantuo launched showed clearly that he wanted to force Kou Zhong to meet force with force, hoping that relying on his power, which was comparably more profound than Kou Zhong’s, plus his yoga technique, which surpassed what ordinary people could do, with more and more strange moves emerging – to destroy Kou Zhong in one move. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Who would have thought that Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well had already reached the follow-his-heart’s-desire level? It appeared to be careless, but actually, whether deflecting or sticking, whether empty or real, in a moment chopping forcefully and sweeping violently, in another moment avoiding the important and dwelling on the trivial, getting through a daunting experience without mishap, it blocked Funantuo’s offensive with momentum like a rainbow, taking advantage of having his feet firmly planted on the ground, in a progressing-step-by-step manner to manipulate the striking-down-from-high-up-in-the-sky Funantuo, so that he consumed his true energy and physical strength, which, in turn, made Funantuo’s internal injury deepened and getting heavier.


Kou Zhong shouted loudly, over and above the sound of the crowd cheering for Funantuo. He recited, “The law of using the troops is: use scheme as the capital, therefore, use scheme to clear away disposition of troops, seek favorable location first; use scheme to score victory, seek to strengthen self first. What does Guoshi think after tasting Laozi’s move in using scheme?”


On Bai Ziting’s side, from top to bottom, all were listening with heart alarmed, body leaping. Kou Zhong’s Eight Methods of the Well was profound mystery, exquisite and wonderful, as well as combined with Central Earth’s military experts’ theory, the art of war that use magnificent army with thousands of men and horses to determine victory on the battlefield – blending and dissolving completely into the saber technique. In itself it already possessed mystery, unfathomable and impenetrable through the heaven and earth.


At this time, seeing him launching another move with scheme, which he already announced openly beforehand, how could they not be worried for Funantuo?


No one either shouted or spoke, there was only unconscious nervous gasp and heavy breathing. Translated by foxs


Funantuo was well aware that his strategy of striking down from high in the air was difficult to show results; one thing went wrong, he would be locked in the upward position by Kou Zhong and would not be able to get away. Suddenly he curled himself like a ball to strike against Kou Zhong, thinking that I don’t care whether you use scheme or not, this move, which has holes everywhere but become without any flaw instead, you will be like having the strength but unable to use it.


Kou Zhong suddenly moved aside to evade, to let him fall to the ground. Shaking his head, he said with a sigh, “Guoshi fell into the trap again! This move of mine is already named Using Scheme, even more, I already steadily occupy favorable location, why would I want to use any shady move? I was just stating it verbally!”


None of the spectators was not stunned.


Ba Fenghan and Xu Ziling knew that this battle has reached its final stage, because not only Funantuo’s Tianzhu xinfa Brahma and I not two was already broken, but even more, his will has already been snatched away, his mind was thrown into disorder, he was caught in a completely passive inferior position where he could only take a beating. Victory or defeat was no longer for him to decide, he lacked even half a momentum to strike back.


Finally Bai Ziting could not bear it anymore, “Stop!” he shouted loudly.


Funantuo let out an earth-shattering angry roar. Stretching out all four limbs, he tapped the ground with the tip of his left foot, his entire body spun around like a gyroscope, both hands created fantastic palm shadows filling the whole sky, he rolled toward Kou Zhong like a tornado.


The same instant that the tip of his foot tapped the ground, Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well spat out a snatching-the-soul-shocking-the-heart terrifying yellow light; he shouted, “This is the second time Guoshi is defying Da Wang’s order! Watch for Laozi’s blitzkrieg strategy.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com


While speaking, the yellow light exploded, carrying with it the saber stabbing swiftly. The timing, the angle, all were grasped accurately without equal, the entire body’s power and emotion seemed to be concentrated on the saber blade, brimming with once-released-no-return desperate momentum.


All the spectators were overcome with breathless feeling, they sensed that victory or defeat would be decided in an instant before their very eyes.


Just before the two men made contact, unexpectedly, Kou Zhong’s Moon in the Well, within the no-possibility-to-change situation, suddenly changed. From the Rapid Battle of the Eight Methods of the Well, he changed to Feigning Troop Movement. The long saber was pulled backward; he spun his body around while dragging the saber brushing past Funantuo.


Nobody, including Ba Fenghan and Xu Ziling, saw what happened between the two men. They only heard the sound of clashing qi power, followed by the two men spinnning away in the opposite directions. Translated by foxs


The entire arena was so quiet that a falling needle would have been heard.


Kou Zhong was the first to stand still. The Moon in the Well’s saber blade pointed from a distance at the still-spinning-at-five-zhang-distance-on-the-end-of-the-Vermillion-Bird-Boulevard-near-the-south-gate opponent. Laughing aloud, he said, “Moving troops without using a scheme is like having a bow without any arrow, or a ship without a rudder. Although Guoshi’s martial art skill is outstanding, your xinfa unique, it’s a pity that you don’t know the way to use troops, you don’t understand the principle of bravery or cowardice to care about the law, of success or failure to care about knowledge. Brave or timid in scheming, strong or weak in momentum. The ability to achieve things is the courage of the terrified. The scheming to seize the losing momentum is the courage of the timid.”


These words were spoken at this moment, when his saber’s prestige was spread in all eight directions, there was some kind of only-me-holding-the-supremacy, success-or-failure-is-within-grasp impression.


Funantuo finally stopped spinning and stood facing Kou Zhong. The single palm of his left hand was held vertically in front of his chest in a greeting posture, his right hand was behind his back; on the surface, there was not any sign of his injury.


But martial art masters of Xu Ziling, Ba Fenghan, Bai Ziting’s caliber all knew that he lost this battle. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Both sides’ eyes clashed, they fixed their gaze on each other without blinking at all.


Kou Zhong’s speech was not to brag about himself, but to strike Funantuo’s will to fight one step further, so that he would be powerless to make a killer counterstrike.


Although separated by over five-zhang distance, the spectators, regardless of their martial art skill level, all felt that Kou Zhong’s treasured saber already locked Funantuo tightly, that at any moment he could traverse this five-zhang distance at the speed of lightning to deal a strike that would seize Funantuo’s life.


Funantuo’s body suddenly shook, the clothes on his chest shattered, a line of blood from the saber cut appeared at the location where his heart was, the blood was seeping out, but the strange light in his pair of eyes was flaring dramatically. Letting out a cold snort, he said, “Good saber technique, but you still don’t have enough qualifications to kill someone who is proficient in yoga’s life and death method. This saber, there will be one day I will have you pay it back. Da Wang, we’ll part now!”


Suddenly he flew back in the direction of the south gate.


Surprisingly, Bai Ziting did not call out to stop him.


‘Qiang!’


Kou Zhong also returned the saber back into its scabbard, producing a clear and melodious ring. Everybody present, none did not feel as if a heavy hammer was striking at their heart, producing different degrees of discomfort and uneasiness.


Hearing that, Xu Ziling understood thoroughly. This was called living near a temple, one knows how to worship the deity. This move of making the scabbard ring was indeed a variation of his Incantation Image Method, the difference was that it was brimming with destructive power. Translated by foxs


It looked simple, yet it evolved from Kou Zhong’s whole heart and whole spirit; furthermore, he was really pouring his heart, mind, and body into it, not just to make some clear noise to awe the whole arena.


When Funantuo heard the sound, he was severely shaken, an extremely strange expression appeared on his face.


Bai Ziting heaved a deep sigh, he said, “Guoshi may go in peace. Bai Ziting will definitely not fail to live up to Guoshi’s expectations.”


Longquan’s army and civilians were shocked. Only this time did they know that not only Funantuo suffered a crushing defeat by being hit by the saber, he was also seriously injured to the point of death.


Funantuo was still staring ferociously at Kou Zhong. And then his eyes darkened, a trace of terrifying blood flowed out of the corner of his mouth, and dripped to the ground. foxswuxia.wordpress.com


Under the gaze of hundreds and thousands pairs of eyes, this grandmaster in martial art study from Tianzhu dejectedly fell to the ground.


All army and civilian of Longquan, Bai Ziting included, everyone was as dumb as a wooden chicken. They watched in disbelieve as Funantuo’s dead body was falling onto the Vermilion Bird Boulevard of the Little Chang’an.



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