Chapter 8: The black-clothed man’s trap (Part One)

She was smarter than he had expected and memorized the moves after only one demonstration; the only weakness was that she wasn’t decisive and forceful enough when she slashed the saber, which was quite understandable since she was a human after all. He had been a human once and knew the moves of humans were directed by their thoughts, but spirits relied more on instincts and intuition, especially when they faced powerful enemies; if they paused to think, they might be killed.

“Now that you’ve memorized the moves, don’t hesitate when you use them. Don’t wonder if you put enough force into each move. In real battles, you don’t have time to think!” Ouyang Yong reminded her.

Xia Qiu knew very well what he meant but couldn’t help pausing before every move. She felt that she must look like a puppet. After days of practice, she still couldn’t use these simple moves smoothly; she got frustrated and then became impatient.

“No. You missed a move!”

Ouyang Yong didn’t look as benign as usual when he trained Xia Qiu and pointed out her mistakes in a solemn and tough tone.

After the blood pact, Xia Qiu felt her physical strength and senses had greatly improved, however, long periods of swinging, slashing, hacking, and stabbing the saber still made her sweat profusely. She heard her own heavy panting and felt uncomfortable as her sweat-soaked clothes clung to her body. But she didn’t want to stop because she had vowed to Ouyang Xiaoleng that she’d become a good blood pact partner. She must possess the ability to protect herself as soon as possible, or she’d become his burden instead of his supporter and partner.

“Xia Qiu, that’s all for today. You can stop and rest now! Next time, I’ll teach you some new moves and use dummies to test what you’ve learnt in the past few days!”

“Okay. I’ll practice some more!”

Xia Qiu didn’t want to stop practicing, wishing there were 100 hours in a day, so she could have more time for training after school. Ouyang Xiaoleng was away for only a few days and she was already exhausted. The intense training made her into a walking dead in school, but she welcomed this insanely busy schedule because whenever she stopped, she’d madly miss Ouyang Xiaoleng and keep wondering if he had reached Dongyao safely and if he had obtained the Ember Dragon King’s support. The thing she longed for the most was his return.

Dongyao was also called the City of Waters or Pearl Island in the spirit world. Since the place was surrounded by water, people could only use boats to reach the island which looked like a dew drop on a lotus leaf.

Ember Dragon King, the master of Dongyao City, had once been a god but got his godship cancelled by Heavenly God Qian Su after he fell in love with a human girl. During his downfall, he met and became fast friends with Xiaoleng’s grandpa who was then the master of the spirit world; Xiaoleng’s grandpa made him a count and gave him Dongyao Water City. To repay this timely help, Ember Dragon King had been loyal to the first two Fox Spirit Kings Li and Ouyang Xueye. He had fought countless battles with them and become their most-trusted partner.

But after the Great Battle in Yongchuan 16 years ago, he had never stepped out of Dongyao City because he didn’t want to get involved in the fight over the throne. After all, he only acknowledged Li and Ouyang Xueye as masters of the spirit world. Besides, he was fed up with battles after 1,000 years of battling. After his wife passed away, he seemed to have lost his soul and aged overnight; all his ambitions were gone in the wind.

Together with Ouyang Hongye and Wangyue, Ouyang Xiaoleng left the captain city Yongchuan and rode to the east on a spirit horse; they arrived at the dock outside Dongyao City earlier than expected. He had never come to a place so far from the capital city and the desolate sights he had seen on the way unsettled him. Ouyang Hongye and others had told him that Yongchuan had lost much of its glory after the Great Battle, but it still looked orderly in his eyes. But the situation outside the capital city was totally different. Here the strong preyed on the weak and evil spirits survived by feeding on their own, making the deserted cities and towns even bleaker. All kinds of homeless spirits and ghosts roamed around the ruins and withered plants.It was midnight when they finally found an empty house which was in a relatively good condition to rest outside the city. After they spread out blankets on the ground and sat down, Wangyue took out a flask from his pocket and began to drink.

“You stole wine from the old man again, huh?” Ouyang Hongye sat down and shook his head at Wangyue. Then he took out a tobacco pipe from his pocket, plucked some tobacco shreds from a small pocket, and put them into the pipe; knocking the pipe stick lightly on a rock beside him, he snapped his fingers and the tobacco was lit miraculously.

“It’s what he gets for hoarding so much great wine and not drinking. For some reason, the wine made with spirit power is not as good as the wine made by humans. The spirit wine tastes the same or even better, but it feels very different when you drink it.” Wangyue took a swig and handed the flask to Ouyang Xiaoleng. “Come on and have a taste of it. It’s great wine!”

“He’s a child! Don’t let him drink!” Ouyang Hongye grabbed the flask and took a swig.

“I haven’t been a child for a long time.” Ouyang Xiaoleng wasn’t pleased. As the heir of the Fox Spirit King, he was upset after seeing the desolate places in the spirit world and wanted to drown his moodiness with alcohol. Taking the flask from Ouyang Hongye, he lifted his head and took a swig, too.

“Yeah. We spirits reach adulthood at about 13 years.” Wangyue grabbed the tobacco pipe from Ouyang Hongye’s hand, took a long drag and blew out a ring of smoke before blowing out a lion of smoke leaping over the ring, like a lion jumping through fire rings at a circus.

“Spicy!”(read on noodletowntranslated dot com to support the actual translators)

Ouyang Xiaoleng had never drunk alcohol so strong before. After taking two swigs, he felt a burning sensation shoot up from his stomach to his throat and then to the top of his head; he choked and almost teared up. Then a warmth grew from inside. He took two more swigs and remembered the desolate sight outside the house, lamenting feelingly, “I never knew the world outside the capital city would look like this!”

“Don’t take it to heart. Compared to the superficial prosperity in the capital city, I prefer the true desolation outside the city. How about you?” Wangyue turned to Ouyang Hongye.(read on noodletowntranslated dot com to support the actual translators)

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