The Witch Nichang– Chapter 63
The night was quiet in Mount Hua. Everywhere you went, there were tall hills and deep streams, wisteria covering the paths, grass as tall as your waist. Hiking up the mountain at night was way more difficult than during the day, but if you lived here for more than ten years, anyone could climb up trees, speed through the mountain, and go around it like it was flat ground.
We weren’t going fast; it was close to the speed of a stroll. Even so, the moon was still nowhere to be seen in the sky by the time we almost reached our destination, so I dragged Lian’er to a small peak on another side. From there, we could see across the mountain to the other side, which was Yunu Peak.
There were already four people waiting at that small flat ground. The moon tonight was brighter than last night. We could even see the expressions on their faces from afar. Most of them were nervous. After a while, two more people came. This time we could clearly see it; it was Zhuo Yihang, and I supposed the person next to him was the one who headed the formation last night.
They didn’t talk much when they gathered together. Most of the time, they were staring at the moon. After staying silent for a while, a Taoist-looking person finally spoke, “Why is there still no sign of Jade Rakshasa?” Another person said, “Jade Rakshasa is a woman of her word. I’m worried that Brother Ying can’t make it on time.” Then the leader said, “Don’t worry, Brother Ying won’t break his word!”
We could hear their conversation. Lian’er sneered softly and said, “These cowards are getting restless. You stay here, don’t move. I’ll go and meet them. Scare them a bit.” After that, she was going to head out. This time I had no reason to stop her, so I said softly, “I’ll be waiting here. Be careful. Try to talk it out before you make a move.”
Of course it would be best if I could fight with her, but Lian’er wouldn’t have let me if not absolutely necessary, not to mention it was only the six of them now. The cunning main boss hadn’t shown up yet, and I didn’t know what the one who sneered in the woods last night would do either. After going through the options and weighing the pros and cons, I thought it would be best for me to hide in the dark first.
I didn’t know if Lian’er understood what I was thinking. She gave me a confident smile before she went, and with a whistle, she had gone away with the wind, dashing across the air from one peak to Yunu peak.
She didn’t try to hide the laugh-like whistle. It was meant to alarm her opponent. In that instant, the six idle men sprang to their feet in unison and went into guard. When she landed, no one dared to come too close to her. They kept some distance between them, surrounding her in a somewhat fan shape, standing ready in a battle array.
Among all the gazing eyes, I focused on one person almost unconsciously. From afar, the young man seemed to be frozen, his face dazed as if he was dreaming. It was a normal reaction. Anyone else would have been surprised to see each other again in such circumstances. But that expression to me could be interpreted in many ways. It bugged me.
In contrast to his surprise, the girl was much more composed. With last night as a prelude, Lian’er was certainly not surprised. She just lowered her head and smiled, light glowing in her eyes. It was a look that was familiar to me, but there was a different kind of coyness to her in the moonlight. My frown deepened as I looked from afar. The six of them looked astonished, some of them frivolous. They probably hadn’t gotten a taste of her strength, so they couldn’t stop themselves from trifling with her and said, “I didn’t expect that the legendary witch was such a beauty. Jade Rakshasa, your time is up. If you just surrender, we’ll let you off. Maybe it could bring about a good match.”
The girl’s face changed at his words, then she laughed and said, “Thank you for your kindness.” Her voice was flat, as if it was nothing, but everyone who knew her would know it was a bad sign. The leader knew what was going on, so he shouted hurriedly, “Jade Rakshasa, you can’t disregard the jianghu’s rules. It’s not time yet. Not everyone is here yet. Don’t you dare make a move!”
Before he could finish, the person who trifled with her just now jumped up ten feet, as if he was eagerly dodging something. I didn’t know if he managed to dodge it, but I saw his body stopped mid-air and crashed onto the ground, unable to get up. He was screaming while holding his leg, tears streaming down his face like a fountain. That Taoist-looking guy hurried over and took off his shoes and socks. Only after the Taoist-looking guy forced out a piece of silver object from his sole and kneaded it a few times did he seem better.
I was too far away, so I couldn’t see what Lian’er was using, but I had an idea what she used. To put it in a nice way, it was her special concealed weapon, but it was actually the most common needle you could find in the town down the mountain. It was something she thought of using for hunting on a whim when she was a kid. Because it was handy for her, she even gave it a majestic name called Nine Star Fixation Needle. When she told me about it with pride, it took me a lot of effort to hold in my laugh. I was glad she didn’t string the needles up with a thread. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I never thought that after all these years, she had gotten better with it. It was unpredictable and precise on hitting acupoints. You could intimidate your opponent with just a flick of your fingers.
The girl didn’t keep attacking when he was down. She just put her hands behind her back and said with a sneer, “I thought he’s a tough man who doesn’t shed tears. Who’d have known he’s such a weakling.” The one who got hit was embarrassed. He didn’t dare to speak, but the venom in his eyes was growing. Lian’er probably saw it, but she didn’t take it seriously and said anyway, “You know what? I’m here to mourn for you. I just feel bad for my new-found friend that he’s seeking his own death too today.”
I heard that crystal clear. I knew who she was talking about. My mood that had slightly brightened because of our childhood memories went dark again.The young man in the group probably knew who she was talking about. The expression on his face was conflicting, looking as if he wanted to say something while having mixed feelings. Other people were puzzled and confused about what she meant by that, but they didn’t ask and were slowly shifting instead, forming a circle, wanting to surround their opponent.
With last night’s observation in mind, Lian’er knew what they wanted to do.
When she saw that they had formed the formation, she gave a long laugh, her gleaming sword already drawn, and she called out, “Alright, it’s midnight now. I’m not going to wait any longer!” Her body shifted slightly. Moving as fast as lightning, she thrusted her sword at the leader.
With such a sudden move, she intended to stop her opponents from forming the formation. I, too, hoped that she could break the formation before the seventh person arrived, but at the same time, I was annoyed that she didn’t listen to what I had told her earlier. She didn’t talk it out before she made a move. After all, the seventh person was the main boss. If he actually committed so many evildoings, these people who came to help might not all know the truth. At least I knew Zhuo Yihang wasn’t someone who would help the evil, even though I wanted to avoid him so badly since the main reason that the ill-fated relationship would develop was because he was too upright and rigid.
But when I saw Lian’er made a move and he was fighting against her, I had to admit that it was a little…relieving.
No matter what I thought, it was bound to be a tough fight as the formation came into action. The six men didn’t stop. They were like a revolving lantern, one of them wielding two weapons, another wielding a monk’s sword; the one who took a needle but could still move was wielding a judge’s brush, Zhuo Yihang and the other was wielding a sword, and the last one was bareknuckle. They all had different moves, complementing each other. They worked better together compared to the last time I saw them. They must have each put in the effort after they went back.
But they were not the only ones who had put in the effort. If not for last night, it would be a bit of a problem, but now the situation was different. Lian’er was in the middle of the formation. She was calm, her sword gleaming, her moves elegant. They couldn’t do anything to her no matter how well they worked together and helped each other.
They were busy fighting over there, meanwhile, I was observing and studying them over here. As the proverb goes, onlookers see most of the game. I saw how the formation worked. Among the six opponents, everyone fought with their all, eager to get rid of her, except for one. His attacks were sandwiched between others’ attacks, seemingly without the will to kill. He didn’t wield his sword in full force, and Lian’er also avoided his vitals when she attacked him. She just brushed over him every time. I hadn’t seen her use any tricky moves on him.
This was bad, very bad. I was getting a little anxious. It was because my personal feelings were stirring uncontrollably and also because of my analysis and judgment about the battle. Lian’er could deal with the formation now without any danger, but it would be difficult for her to break the formation fast if she intended to go easy on them, and that also meant she would be held back and tired out. By the time the seventh person came in and completed the formation, it was hard to say how it would turn out.
I wanted to fly straight over to help her, but my rationality told me it wasn’t the time. I could only hang tight and kept my eyes fixed on that place. I wished I had some kind of voice transmission skill, so I could let the girl hear my thoughts.
Fortunately, Lian’er had her own judgment even though she couldn’t hear me. She must have thought of what I had thought of. The six of them were moving back and forth like a tide, and their attacks were getting more frequent. It went on like that for a few rounds. Maybe because things didn’t turn out as she expected, she was becoming impatient. Her sword style changed abruptly. Her attacks became vicious and aggressive, and she was no longer holding back!
Before I could let out a sigh of relief after seeing that, a strange whistle came from a mountain peak. A scrawny old man leaped off the rock and shouted, “Jade Rakshasa, how could you disregard the jianghu’s rules?”
When the six of them saw him arrive, the leader made a hand gesture. They retreated like an ebb and got back in position. Lian’er sheathed her sword and jumped out of the circle. She shouted, “How am I disregarding the rules? It’s you who are late.” What she said was true. The moon was already in the sky now. The old man looked up, but he laughed instead and said, “I’ve been waiting for you here long before. You couldn’t even break through my brothers’ circle. What would happen if there’s one more person?”
I had thought before that he didn’t look like someone who had just arrived. I understood it right after he said that. Probably like me, he had been watching from afar. Then he showed up at the right time when things were looking good for him. He was cunning.
The girl thought of something when she saw him. She suddenly sneered and called out, “Old crook Ying, you’ve killed Great Hero Luo, Luo Jinfeng! Do you think no one knows?! Do these few punks become your goons by choice or were they deceived by your words?”
It wasn’t too late for her to say that. As soon as she said that, I could see that at least three of them were surprised and looked at each other. When the scrawny old man saw that things were going south, he immediately chided, “Don’t listen to this bitch! She’s bullied the outlaws in the Sichuan-Shaanxi region for long enough, and she’s hurt the Songyang chief escort and Wudang disciples! She’s an enemy of Wulin. If we don’t get rid of her now, she’ll be a problem in the future!” With that, he lifted his fly-whisk, then the head of the six quickly formed the formation and surrounded the girl in the middle again.
All seven people of the formation were here. It looked different from what I had seen just now. The scrawny old man was at the center as the support. He was wielding a fly-whisk. It could be wielded like a sword or something to strike the acupoints. It was already powerful by itself; it was brilliant now that it combined the strength of six people. Lian’er couldn’t talk anymore while dealing with her opponents. The few who got suspicious had to fight since they were already on the tiger’s back and were worried about getting killed. They fought as hard as before without holding back.
The formation patterns were unpredictable. Seven masters, each had their own martial style. Its power was not as simple as adding up. Lian’er had wasted her energy earlier. Although she managed to injure a few, their injuries weren’t severe. It didn’t weaken their strength. The situation was getting harder. It seemed to be getting more dangerous as the fight went on.
Since the situation had come to this, I could no longer care about the mysterious person who showed up in the woods last night. I drew my sword and dashed down the mountain and into the battle. Without saying anything, I deflected the two weapons attacking from behind Lian’er and stood side by side with her.
“Who’re you?!” The scrawny old man shouted when he saw that someone came to her help. I wasn’t facing him and didn’t want to turn my head either, so I just said a word, “Backup.” The old man got irritated and shouted, “Jade Rakshasa! Didn’t you say you came alone?!”
Lian’er was unhappy when she saw me barge in, but after hearing the scrawny old man’s question, she sneered and said, “Funny. You could ask six people to help you. Why do I have to fight by myself? Two against seven. It’s still in your favor. Cut the crap!”
She didn’t stop and made a sweep, striking five people, only leaving the two behind her for me.
I knew from last night’s observation that it was a 3-3 tactic, three attacking, three defending. This move of Lian’er limited the main and most aggressive attacks and also one other support, leaving the two who were relatively less threatening. How would I not know what she was thinking? I smiled and turned to lift my sword but found that one of the two I fought against was someone I knew.
“Mi…Miss…” Zhuo Yihang was the one who hesitated the most when he was attacking earlier. Now that he saw me, his moves turned even more chaotic, his sword slow and his feet tardy, but the one next to him who was fighting bare-knuckle didn’t care much. His hand charged toward me like an eagle claw. I had no time for pleasantries, so I lifted my sword and faced his attack.
I knew the gravity of the situation the moment I fought. I wasn’t as strong as Lian’er. That was why I only fought against two, one of them didn’t even go full-out. Even so it wasn’t easy. Fortunately, we had observed the formation before, so we still had the situation under control. I only had to hold off Zhuo Yihang. He wouldn’t push on. The martial art of the bare-knuckle person was a hard style martial art. The odds would most likely not be on my side if I was grabbed, but with the advantage of a weapon and my agility, it wasn’t too difficult to keep him under control.
With me holding two people off, the formation couldn’t be as flexible, and its power was weakened. Even if I had no time to turn around, I knew how excited Lian’er was destroying them behind me.
Things were looking good. It was just a matter of time before we beat them.
If it weren’t for that split-second thought.
Kindness happens in a split second, so as evil. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. While I was surrounded by swords and focused on defending against them, a cruel thought hit me as I was facing someone who showed mercy.
I should get rid of my biggest worry.