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Chen Pipi sat by Ye Su and felt both pain and loss when they saw the white smoke.
For him, Ye Hongyu’s death was an end. It put an end to many including his childhood memories, their life in the abbey, his young companion and a betrayal between father and son.
“It is not the end.” He said, however, after a pause, “As long as we are alive, anything is possible. Then why should we leave?”
While he said so, the powerful killers from the Divine Halls of West-Hill had come to the stage. No matter how pious the followers of the New Stream were, they could not slow them down and only shed more blood.
Chen Pipi stood behind Ye Su and started packing. He was now a wastrel. With his Ocean of Qi and Mountain of Snow destroyed, he could no longer be of any use in the battle. But he still seemed calm and confident.
Ever since they left Linking, they had constantly been trapped by the Divine Halls but were still able to make their way out every single time. He believed that they would make it again today, despite the white smoke rising afar. It was because he believed that she would save his Brother.
Tang Xiaotang was standing in front of him and Ye Su. The disciples of the Sword Garret were fighting against the powerful figures from Taoism. Blood was shed with the clashing of swords.
She stood in front of Ye Su and Chen Pipi without going anywhere else. She held the cudgel and warded off anyone who dared to come close. The enemies were all blown away by her thundering cudgel.
She was not a hero. Yet no one could pass her.
Looking at this woman in thin clothes from the Devil’s Doctrine, who was no longer young but still had two ponytails, Xiaoyu could not hold her hostility but still felt shocked and confused.
She had every reason to be hostile toward Tang Xiaotang. But what she could not understand was how she could had survived the hunting of Taoism when she was almost the only patron of the followers of New Stream who had been drifted for thousands of miles. How did she recover from all the wounds? And how much strength could she store in that slim figure?
Tang Xiaotang was indeed exhausted.
Ever since they left Linkang, she had led the people to break through four rounds of attacks by the Divine Halls. She had fought in twenty-one battles and killed three hundred and seventy-one powerful figures from the Divine Halls. She was wounded fourteen times. No matter if it was a minor or major battle, she fought as the chief. Therefore she had been wounded and bleeding constantly.
However she never fell. Carrying Ye Su and Chen Pipi who had both lost their Ocean of Qi and Mountain of Snow, she traveled through mountains for thousands of miles and arrived at the capital of Song.
She was extremely exhausted and almost fell down. But she still held her cudgel and fought against whoever dared to come close. Her performance was perfect and no one could take her down.
Swords were broken, bodies were scattered, and horses were startled. Several cavalrymen of Song sneaked up from the side but got knocked down by Tang Xiaotang. They fell off together with their horses and could no longer stood up.
Xiaoyu raised her eyebrows while her eyes suddenly brightened. An indigo shadow floated in the morning glow and her Taoist sword turned into a straight line that pierced through the chilling morning breeze and came to Tang Xiaotang instantly.
The cultivators’ swords were all flying swords. But her sword did not fly away from her hand. Her sword, wrist, and elbow formed a straight line together.
From Ke Haoran to Liu Bai, the history of swordsmanship had been evolving. A true swordsman would never let go of his sword easily, especially when facing a really powerful enemy.
The chill blade reflected the remaining snow on the square and stabbed directly toward Tang Xiaotang’s eyes.
Tang Xiaotang did not close her eyes or blink. She gazed at the Taoist sword that carried a salty smell of the sea and sensed the ocean storm that came together. Then she stabbed her cudgel silently.
She could spare no energy when confronting a Knowing Destiny cultivator like Xiaoyu. Her slim figure turned into a heated rock and she applied the practice of Light’s Doctrine to charge every bit of her strength into the cudgel.
The cudgel in her hand was originally a sacred item of the Devil’s Doctrine: the bloody giant cutlass. During the battle in Chang’an many years ago, Yu Lian chopped the Abbey Dean’s rainbow and the bloody giant cutlass was cast into a cudgel after that.
She gave herself to the Academy and acknowledged Yu Lian as her master. Becoming the Eldest Sister in the third generation of the Academy, she inherited the cudgel. It seemed like a cudgel but was still a cutlass underneath with a sharp intent inside. It was used to dig the sky-reaching stairs at the back hill of the Academy, destroyed the Buddha’s chessboard, defeated the cavalry of the West-Hill on Peach Mountain during the Rite to Light and stunned lots of powerful cultivators. It was also used to chop cabbage in the shabby cottage.
When it was slashed again today, Xiaoyu’s Taoist sword together with the storm and wind from the sea was immediately wiped off. Countless raindrops as well as the mellow wind were destroyed.
The Taoist sword could only hit Tang Xiaotang’s left shoulder and was bounced up. Tang Xiaotang’s pretty face remained calm and her iron cudgel was pushed forward.
Xiaoyu groaned slightly and some fear flashed in her eyes. She immediately stepped back but her Taoist sword was already distorted. Her pale face turned unusually red and some blood gushed into her throat.
Upon an instant confrontation, she was wounded and defeated.
The sword was distorted but not broken. And the horrible intent climbed up the sword and pounded on Xiaoyu’s body. She was darted away, flew over the crowd and fell down behind them.
Tang Xiaotang did not stop there. She stamped on the ground, smashed seventeen bricks and leaped into the sky like a darting rock. Her cudgel stabbed toward Xiaoyu’s chest.
Many divine priests and deacons were shocked by the scene. They were scared and poured toward Xiaoyu. Waves were formed in the crowded square.
Xiaoyu was the daughter of Zhao Nanhai and one of the most trusted subordinates of the Abbey Dean. They did not dare to have her wounded. Many Taoist swords flew up into the sky and attempted to stop Tang Xiaotang.
Tang Xiaotang remained calm and focused on the Taoist girl darting away. She paid no attention to the flying swords that chopped on her and was determined to cudgel her to death. Instantly at least seven Taoist swords pierced through the air, flew to her, and slashed her thin clothes. But no blood was shed.
Being the Devil’s Doctrine Saintess, she already acquired an iron body through the training with the Qi of Heaven and Earth.
No matter how sharp those Taoist swords were, they could only cut her skin and leave the slightest wounds. The sword intent hit her and some blood came out from her lips. But they could never stop her.
Once the iron cudgel was brandished, a roaring fire was set. When the iron cudgel pounded, Xiaoyu would definitely be crushed. Xiaoyu fell onto the ground and colors drained from her face. The unusual flush disappeared. But she did not seem scared.
Tang Xiaotang remained calm but she also sensed something unusual. Indeed, something unusual was approaching. A black peach flower bloomed suddenly in the centre of the square.
It was not a solid black peach flower, but a purist concrete of the Qi of Heaven and Earth. It was extremely charming but not coquettish. The chilling black petals seemed devouring and massive.
The black peach flower attracted everyone’s attention.
Tang Xiaotang also saw it clearly as it bloomed right in front of her. She was not surprised and pounded her cudgel onto the flower.
Ever since yesterday and until this morning, Taoism had been fighting resolutely. They announced the beginning of the war with the white smoke. Peace was no longer an option. They were determined to win. But it did not seem like they were determined to win if there was only the Knowing Destiny South Sea girl, the powerful cultivators from Taoism and the cavalrymen from Song.
Tang Xiaotang knew that the Divine Halls must had sent some really powerful figure to stand by. She could even guess who that person was. But he had not shown up after a whole day and night, which made her even more restless. She faked a killing strike toward Xiaoyu only to force that person to come forth. Her focus was never Xiaoyu. She was waiting for the blooming of that black peach flower.
A huge bang was heard. The jet black iron cudgel pounded ruthlessly on the black peach flower.
The formless and substance-less black peach flower was smashed right away into random Qi of Heaven and Earth, and splashed around the square as if they were clouds or steam.
Tang Xiaotang got slightly pale and vomited blood. The moment the iron cudgel hit the black peach flower, she realized that she was wrong and lost it.
The person was not hiding to prepare for a last strike. He was so powerful that he did not need to wait for any opportunities. He was just observing calmly and could defeat anyone whenever he wished.
Tang Xiaotang stepped onto the ground and smashed some bricks. Her right arm shivered slightly while she looked at a part of the wall.
Her chest rose and sank while her two ponytails swayed behind her. She was very pale and obviously wounded.
A dozen of divine priests and deacons attacked Tang Xiaotang.
Xiaoyu darted forward. Her bent Taoist sword was straightened right away and stabbed toward Tang Xiaotang’s eyes again.
No one could recover from such serious wounds in a short period of time. Therefore it was her best chance to kill Tang Xiaotang. Right in the moment of maximum danger, Tang Xiaotang took a deep breath. The chilling wind around the square was completely inhaled in to her chest. The air inflamed like roaring in her lungs. Her dimmed eyes became bright again all of a sudden. The wounds seemed to be cured instantly.
The iron cudgel pierced through the air and hit Xiaoyu’s sword. Upon a clear crack, the Taoist sword was finally broken, while the iron cudgel stayed solid as always.
With a slight groan, Xiaoyu stepped back and seemed astonished. She could not understand why this woman from the Devil’s Doctrine could have recovered from such serious wounds so instantly. What is her body made of?
Using her iron cudgel, Tang Xiaotang killed a black-robed deacon who attacked her from behind. She walked toward that part of the wall. Whoever tried to stop her was severely wounded. She wanted to go there. So no one could stand in her way. Along her way she pounded countless people dead. Blood was shed all over and moistened the ground.
She walked alone between Heaven and Earth. She seemed lonely with enemies all around. However she needed no one but herself. She seemed to be never wounded. No matter how horrible the black peach flower seemed to be, it could not hurt her. No one in the human world could ever hurt her. The powerful cultivators from Taoism and the cavalrymen from Song were all shocked upon seeing the scene.
Right then, some shrill whistles were heard from far away. An arrow hit onto Tang Xiaotang’s left chest. Although it was not pushed into her body, the sharp tip did pierce her skin and some blood stained her clothes. It was at least a comfort, or a sign.
The desperate divine priests and deacons were relieved to confirm that no one could stay unhurt forever. They got thrilled and extremely excited.
“Her Dark Skills are gone!”
“Let’s kill her!”
Throughout the square in the morning glow, the divine priest and deacons as well as the cavalrymen from Song were shouting loudly as if they had all gone mad. But Tang Xiaotang seemed never heard them. She kept walking toward the wall with the iron cudgel in her hand.
Countless people were taken down along her way before she finally got to the wall.
The wall unexpectedly collapsed. Bricks fell onto the ground like dried leaves falling on the snow. It was chillingly silent. So was the person in the yard.
Long Qing stood by the collapsed wall and stared at her silently.
Screams were heard from afar while the earth started quaking slightly. All the city gates were opened at the same time, and thousands of cavalrymen from the Divine Halls who had been hiding in the woods drove in.
Tang Xiaotang heard it and realized what was happening. She did nothing but stand there staring at the collapsed wall and the person inside. The scar on his face caught her attention.
She knew that as long as she could kill this person, it would not matter how many cavalrymen from the Divine Halls were coming. If she could not, the people she cared for and herself would be doomed.
It became quiet all of a sudden on the square. Everyone was looking at them, including Chen Pipi and Ye Su. They saw the pile of firewood behind the wall. The pile was already taller than a human being. The firewood were piled tensely and orderly. The cross on top seemed to be made by a skillful carpenter.
Chen Pipi turned pale. Ye Su just kept quiet as if he saw through the fate.
Long Qing stepped out of the yard and said to Tang Xiaotang, “You are much more powerful than I thought.”
Tang Xiaotang stared back and said, “You are much more powerful than anyone had thought.”
Suddenly, a sword flashed by.
A disciple of the Sword Garret recognized Long Qing. Recalling the destruction of the Sword Garret and Liu Yiqing’s death caused by this person and other cultivators from Taosim, he could not help from stabbing his sword at Long Qing.
It was a resolute and death seeking sword strike, therefore very powerful.
Long Qing stayed calm. His right hand waved in front of himself as if he was a juggler in the Scent Workshop inside Chang’an. Then a black peach flower appeared in his hand and blocked the flashing sword. This black peach flower was a real one instead of a concrete of the Qi of Heaven and Earth. But it looked like a cheap silk flower.
The sword stabbed into the black peach flower and several petals fell off. But the sword became like a weathered pistil and started withering immediately. In no time it turned into a rusty piece of metal that seemed to have been dumped thousands of years ago.
While the sword got rusty and broken, the disciple of Sword Garret lost his energy instantly. He still seemed angry but already aged for years. Before long he fell onto the ground and died.
Tang Xiaotang squinted upon the scene. Her eyes seemed like chilling willow leaves.
She realized that Long Qing was no longer the person she knew years ago. He had mastered the Grey Eyes to an extremely horrifying level. He did not even need to look into people’s eyes in order to capture their cultivation and souls.
It no longer mattered at all to Long Qing whether the person was at Knowing Destiny or whichever level.
Tang Xiaotang was solemn but not scared. It was because she was also free from the levels of cultivation. As long as her enemy was not above the Five States, she could always try her luck.
Long Qing said emotionlessly, “Bring it on.”
Tang Xiaotang inhaled deeply while her chest rose high. Previously she breathed in most of the chilling wind around the square. This time she took all the rest and almost got some snow clouds down from the sky.
The air inflamed inside her body and was turned into massive strength. She slightly bent her knees.
Years ago in the back hill of the Academy, Yu Lian had forced her to leap off the waterfall constantly. She had to bend her knees every time she jumped. So today she made a leap again. But this time it was not leaping off the waterfall. Instead she leaped toward the sky.
Upon a bang, she smashed many bricks into dust. The dust blew around the yard and blinded people. Then Tang Xiaotang was gone. No one knew where she went.
Long Qing did not close his eyes in the dust. When the dust was settled he looked above to the sky. He knew that she leaped into the sky.
He also knew that she was not running away. Therefore no matter how high she leaped, she would eventually come back to the ground. Therefore he stayed right there waiting calmly. He looked at the sky and expected her patiently. Everyone else followed his sight and looked above.
Morning glow spread from the east of the sea. The snow clouds were pure white and occasionally gave way to the clear blue sky above. There was no sign of her at all. After a short while, a black spot finally appeared in the sky. It was a human.
A shrill whistle was heard again in the sky. It came to the ground, blasted the glazed tiles in the imperial city of Song, silenced the ancient bell in the Taoist temple, and frightened countless birds in the woods.
Many people felt a sharp pain in their ears upon hearing the whistle. They covered their ears and crouched. The whistle was the sound of friction between a fast-moving object and the air. That object must have been extremely firm. Otherwise it would have been crushed at such a high speed.
It was hard to believe that the object was a human body. The black spot became bigger and bigger while people could see clearly the human figure. It was Tang Xiaotang. Just like what her brother used to do. Just like what her master used to do. She leaped down from the sky.
She held up the iron cudgel and pounded onto Long Qing’s head with unimaginable strength. That strength was generated from the distance between Heaven and Earth. No one could disregard the distance or the strength.
When the shrill whistle went to its maximum, Tang Xiaotang landed on the ground. She bombarded toward Long Qing like a meteorite.
Her boots got on fire and sparked a dozen of thin flaming threads in the air.
In the next moment, Heaven met with Earth.
The ground was distorted. The bricks cracked like cobwebs and were smashed into the finest but powerful rubble. The rubble splashed in tearing sounds.
A tree of no name by the wall was immediately raked into pieces that danced in the wind.
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