The Witch Nichang– Chapter 64
This was a troubled time where life and death happened every moment. I knew that long ago. I had seen death and corpses. Even the only one person who I cared about was called The Witch by members of jianghu. She could kill as she was chatting, for which I could, for most of the time, face it with serenity and would at most stop her from going overboard sometimes.
Even so, my hands were still clean. Although I had fought with others before, I hadn’t gotten anyone’s blood on me yet, let alone taking someone’s life.
Maybe my hands were clean but my heart wasn’t. Otherwise, why would such a cruel thought come to me out of nowhere in that second?
It was probably how the saying, evil arose in rage, felt like.
I was very calm when the evil thought arose. It seemed that it had nothing to do with feelings. I slid exactly the right amount of distance to the side to dodge the claw-hand, then came a sword attack. They were working well together, but the sword attack was intentionally made slow, so it was sluggish. I easily deflected it with a turn of my short sword and a knock to his sword. I tilted my body and brushed past him, moving to the opponent’s back and using him to block the attacks of the other person.
When I lifted my sword and turned back, he hadn’t been able to step away, and what I saw before me was a broad back. It was so close.
If I’m going to do it, it was right in front of me!
The person in front of me was someone who would hurt Lian Nichang in the future. He was the one who would destroy Lian Nichang. If I couldn’t stop Lian’er from falling for him, all the things that would happen might be unstoppable and destined. Maybe I couldn’t do anything at all, maybe I would have to watch the bad karma unfold without realizing it, just like what happened to Master!
If so, why don’t I just get to the root cause and remove it? Nip the bud before it all starts!
Maybe I had this thought long ago, and it lurked in the dark corners of my heart for a long time and popped up at the right moment. It didn’t feel wrong at all. It was simply that the brain gave a command and the body executed it right away. Almost without thinking, I thrusted my sword; it was a series of killing moves!
He was so close. Like a meteor running after the moon, it would hit if I strike. He would die if it hit.
But in a trance, there was a voice saying, Lie.
You have thousands of excuses, hundreds of disguises. Which of them is really for Lian Nichang? Not only is it not for her, but it is hurting her.
If this person dies, the only thing it resolves is your pain, but poor Lian’er’s red thread of fate would be severed. If she can’t accept you in this life, does that mean she has to end up alone, living a stagnant life without any ripples? Someone even swore before that she would give her all to protect her if she loses the bet. How come she’s become an unreasonable person in the blink of an eye and wants to flip the gambling table and void the bet?
Are you really going to get rid of the problem for your own sake without caring about everything else and end up hurting her?!
The thought changed and changed again; it all happened in a split second, but they were as loud as a thunder. My heart was racing. I felt like I had just woken up from a dream, covered in sweat, but the sword in my hand was like an arrow off the string. It was too fast. It was too late to even swerve it, let alone take it back. Seeing that the sword was about to pierce him, I could only let go of my sword at the last minute and let my weapon clang to the ground.
Even so, there was still some remnant force in my bare hand and it landed on the man’s back, but he had a solid base. He staggered, but with a sway, he gained back his balance.
Obviously, he didn’t expect this turn of events. After he steadied himself, he turned to look at me with surprise. I couldn’t help but turn to look at him. As our eyes met, I saw the split change in his eyes, as if he had something to say.
Without having to think much, I understood in the next second why the change occurred.
My empty right hand stayed in the pushing motion. Before I could take back my hand, it was clamped by a huge force. It actually felt like a clamp, as if a metal vice had clamped your arm. Once it caught my hand and pulled, I was forced to stagger forward. Two steps forward, I felt another huge force slammed into my chest, at the same time, my trapped arm got turned and twisted. I felt as if I heard a kind of cracking sound.
I bit down on my lips, desperately trying to swallow the cry of pain. It wouldn’t ease my pain even if I cried out. Instead, it would distract Lian’er. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to hold it in even when I bit through my lip. The force surging to my throat was too strong. Along with my voice came a spray of crimson too.
I tasted the salty sweet tang in my mouth, but I couldn’t help wanting to laugh. How ludicrous. I brought all these on myself. Zhuo Yihang was blocking between you and this guy. If I hadn’t had that evil thought and changed my mind midway, why would I have pushed him away and sent myself unarmed in front of the master who was good with his claws and ended up in such a situation?
I was probably laughing when the iron hand clamped on my throat. Otherwise, why would this master in front of you look surprised and confused like he had seen a ghost?
When my life was on the line, I heard a man’s voice say hesitantly, “Brother Fan, wait…” But there was something faster than his voice—it was a gust of chilly wind, carrying a menacing voice, “Iron Hand Fan Zhu! I’ll kill you!”
The otherwise familiar voice sounded foreign to me. It was brimmed with malice and frost. I saw a silver arch coming from the corner of my eye. A strong gust of wind came before the sword did. The hard style martial artist knew the gravity of the situation. He let go of his hand before he could use me as a hostage and rolled away to dodge her attack. Only after he rolled out quite some distance was he able to get out of the sphere of the sword sweep.
The pressure on my throat was lifted, but I lost the support too. My legs felt weak, and my right arm and the area below my collarbone were hurting so bad that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I opened my mouth and gasped for air, then I immediately shut it because a person had jumped in front of me.
I didn’t know how bad I was hurt. I didn’t want her to know either, at least not now.
Fortunately, Lian’er had no time to check either. This sudden change of events wasn’t favorable for us, which meant it was very favorable for our opponents, especially for those who were fighting against Lian’er. It looked like all of them had different levels of injuries. Now that the table had turned, they rose up to strike back and kept coming after her. Lian’er landed and held me with one arm, helping me down. She could only do a quick scan with her eyes. She clenched her teeth and said, her eyes chilly, “Wait here!” Then she turned around and swung her sword, deflecting the incoming attacks. She was drawing them away and holding them off while chasing after one of them.
Thanks to her, it was safe here. I couldn’t just sit around, so I did a quick check of my body. I couldn’t tell how serious the injury below my collarbone was, so I just left it aside first. Fortunately, I could see how my right arm was. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Of course, it was broken, but it didn’t break all the way. I could still move my hand when I bore the pain and tried to move it. It was probably a partial fracture. I had had this kind of bone injury once or twice when I hiked as a backpacker. I was quite familiar with it. I could take it. Unfortunately, there was nothing around that I could use for emergency treatment. I could only bear the pain and went to retrieve my sword.
After I was done, I was drenched in sweat, cold sweat trickling down my forehead. The pain was dizzying. I wished I could just pass out, but looking at the fight over there, I couldn’t let myself pass out even if I wanted to.
The pain was just physical pain. The anxiousness was the true suffering. I hated myself for being blinded and causing this situation. Now Lian’er was caught in the same predicament as before. It might even be more dangerous than before because now she couldn’t face her opponents with a cool head. She was just putting up with the others. As she moved and jumped, her sword was revolving around the bare knuckle master every time she got the chance, and every move was vicious. She looked like she would never give up until she gouged his flesh and sliced his bones.
I knew she wanted to avenge me, but now wasn’t the time to be glad. The way Lian’er was slaying them might catch them off guard and might be tricky to deal with at first, but once they got used to it, the situation might not be in her favor. Putting aside other tactics, they just had to use that person as bait and exhaust Lian’er’s energy. By that time, everything would be over.
I couldn’t help her at the moment. I figured talking to Lian’er would have little effect, and it might alert the opponents instead. Even so, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
In fact, this approach might be the best approach. I should have used it earlier. It was me who wanted to fight against the enemy with her that my judgment got clouded by all the distracting thoughts.
It wasn’t the time to reflect and regret. I put aside my thoughts and cleared my throat. The vibration in my chest caused another bout of pain, but I couldn’t care much about it. I held my breath and powered through it. After taking a deep breath, I focused and shouted to the other end.
“Everyone over there, I’m not a member of jianghu, so I don’t know where all of you come from. Please forgive me if I’ve offended you.” Forcing myself to take a breath and ignoring the pain in my chest that arose from speaking, I said loudly, “My sister, the one who you call The Witch, is a little arrogant and eccentric, and maybe she’s done something that upset you, but there are different degrees of mistakes and crimes. No matter how arrogant and eccentric she was, what she is doing today is to remove a vermin for the country! Which is more severe, the feud in jianghu or the enemy of the nation? I believe anyone with a bit of integrity and conscience should know!”
Yes, when Lian’er pointed it out earlier, there were three people including Zhuo Yihang who looked surprised. I remembered that clearly. Even though I couldn’t move now, as long as I could convince them from here, even persuade them to walk away, it was way better than me jumping over to help.
That was why when I said this, my eyes were locked at the three people. As expected, they were distracted with a few words. Although they didn’t stop their attacks, they were starting to hesitate.
I was secretly delighted. As the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot. I held on to my lapel, bearing the discomfort, then I took in a deep breath and said, “Maybe you have doubts and you don’t know who to trust, but the death of the Great Hero Luo, Luo Jinfeng is a fact. You can find it out yourself. There must be one party here who is lying now. Everyone please ask yourself, what is more unacceptable, letting off a witch by mistake or helping a traitor by mistake?”
“Watch out!” Before I could finish, a shout came, and the intense pain fogged my eyes. I couldn’t see anything that was too small or fast. I could only hear a crisp clink. Something had fallen on the ground, then a person was standing before me. It wasn’t Lian’er, but it wasn’t someone unfamiliar either.
“Old Zheng, she’s already wounded. Sneak attacks aren’t something a man of honor would do, no?” Zhuo Yihang stood with his sword lifted, his voice low, sounding a little displeased but still rather mild. However, the one who answered him wasn’t the one who made the move but the scrawny old man who was the instigator. He shouted as he struck, “Don’t be fooled by her! She’s an accomplice of the hag. She was fighting against us just now, and now she still hasn’t given up even when she’s wounded, spreading rumors and trying to drive a wedge between us. We can’t let her live!”
“Old crook Ying! Ying Xiuyang! You’re the one who’s spreading rumors! I won’t stop until I claim your head!” It was Lian’er’s hateful shout that came from the group. She was too focused on killing them just now that she didn’t notice the sneak attack in time, so when she came around later, she got angrier.
However, no one had expected that those words would have an unexpected effect on a person.
I saw the man standing before me shiver and repeated the name under his breath once before he said loudly, “Ying Xiuyang? Old Ying, so your full name is Ying Xiuyang!” Even though he was loud, his tone was modest as always. The scrawny old man didn’t suspect a thing as he was occupied and answered him loudly. When he wanted to say something more, Zhuo Yihang jumped over, lifted his sword with a swoosh, and thrusted at him.
The scrawny old man was surprised. His body shrinked and yelled, “Are you crazy?” But the man’s sword swung like a wind. He shouted, “I’ll kill you first, you Manchurian traitor!”
No one here had expected that from him. What he said shocked everyone, and Lian’er followed up shrilly, “So you really are a Manchurian traitor!” Her moves became faster. The other six all reacted differently. Maybe to save their own life, they didn’t stop, but all of them were undoubtedly flustered.
The situation took on yet another drastic change. It turned into a situation where Lian’er and Zhuo Yihang worked together fighting against Ying Xiuyang and the others. I gave two muffled coughs and looked one last time at the two people who stood side by side and came together to fight against the enemy before I couldn’t take it anymore and collapsed to the ground, sinking into the endless dark.