Way of the Devil - Chapter 73
Chapter 73: Challenge to Duel (3)
Translator: Deep_Blue Editor: Kurisu
On the beach, two figures collided forcefully against each other.
Lu Sheng’s palms slashed against Gongsun Zhanglan’s hands continuously like sabers. A series of booms reverberated across the entire valley like rolling thunder.
Forced into retreat, Gongsun Zhanglan humphed in furore. Raising the might of his Prime Mystic Palm to eighty percent, he channeled power into one palm and slammed it viciously towards Lu Sheng’s temple.
If this blow landed, Lu Sheng’s head would be smashed into pulp there and then.
“Ultimate Crimson!” Lu Sheng’s palms were dyed crimson; arteries and veins bulged on his forearms. A streak of blood-red line rushed to the area between his eyes, forming a pattern on his forehead. He struck head-on against the incoming attack with his right palm, which shook in tremor.
Another deep blast rang out. Both of them were pushed back more than ten steps.
Only several breaths of time had passed from when Lu Sheng flew across the water to land onto the shore. Yet, both of them had exchanged more than ten moves, with neither one of them gaining the upper hand.
“Not bad, not bad, not bad! No wonder Hong Mingzi regards you so highly. This old one has underestimated you!” Gongsun Zhanglan lifted up his right arm and glanced at his tattered sleeve. A slight green hue flashed across his face.
Up till now, he could still feel a scorching sensation radiating from his palm. This was exactly what he had experienced when he had fought against Hong Mingzi a long time ago. He would be a fool if he still did not understand by now that Hong Mingzi had imparted Ultimate Crimson Mantra to Lu Sheng.
Looking at his own sleeves that were also ripped into shreds, Lu Sheng grinned.
“Sect Master Gongsun retains his strength despite his age; you were even able to block my sneak assault. And here I was thinking that I wouldn’t be needing my saber,” slowly, he reached behind him and pulled out a long saber from behind his back.
Gongsun Zhanglan’s eyes narrowed to a slit. He realized that there was no way to avoid using his trump card in this battle. As he lifted the power of Prime Mystic Palm to its pinnacle, shades of green flashed incessantly on his face. This was the natural phenomenon that accompanied the power increase of his palm technique.
Amidst a tiger’s roar, Lu Sheng ripped off his top and pulled his saber completely out of its sheath. A cold saber gleam shot towards Gongsun Zhanglan.
“That’s incredibly powerful…” on the ship, the man previously addressed as Grand Uncle stared in amazement at the two figures locked in combat on the shore. “With such moves, these are bound to be famed experts. Even in the Central Plains, they would be considered on par with some of the famed experts there!”
The drunkenness had entirely disappeared from Bian Su, who was staring intently at the two men. Her eyes flashed with deep shock.
“Grand Uncle, if my dad was still alive, do you think he would be a match for these two?”
Grand Uncle fell into a momentary silence, then shook his head lightly. “I’m afraid not. Old Master may have been strong, but he was still a cut below their realm.”
Upon hearing that, Bian Su no longer spoke any further. Her eyes flashed with the glint of pensiveness.
By then, many of the young masters and young ladies on the ship had also discovered that something was going on. Gradually, they all came to the bow of the ship and saw the intense battle happening on the shore. Instantly, they burst into a fit of excited commotion.
“Isn’t that Sect Master Gongsun!?” One of them croaked abruptly. “The second-in-command of Crimson Whale Sect, Sect Master Gongsun Zhanglan?!”
At those words, shock radiated across the rest who were on the ship. It was apparent to any among them who were acquainted with martial arts that these two men were fighting to kill, aiming for the jugular with every strike.
“Who’s capable of engaging the Crimson Whale Sect Deputy Sect Master in a life-and-death battle?!” Someone asked in alarm.
Crimson Whale Sect’s reputation was top-notch across all the Northern Lands. Anyone with some connections and power would have heard of the name of this Number One Sect in the Northern Lands.
And yet its Deputy Sect Master Gongsun Zhanglan was locked in mortal combat here. Inevitably, this piqued their curiosity.
“So it’s the Crimson Something Sect…” Bian Su’s eyes grew even deeper in thought as she overheard their discussion. “Grand Uncle. About that object… what do you think if I…”
Beside her, Grand Uncle’s pupils shrank. Yet, he remained silent.
Water splashed all over.
As the commotion on the ship continued, Lu Sheng and Gongsun Zhanglan’s battle had come to a head. Given their more or less equivalent depth of inner force, the outcome of the battle depended largely on their moves, experience, and will to kill.
In terms of moves, Lu Sheng was at a huge disadvantage. Plainly, he possessed extremely thick inner force; yet, it all came to naught if he could not land a blow on his enemy. Most of the time, he ended up getting hit by Gongsun Zhanglan on his flank or missing because Gongsun Zhanglan easily neutralized his attacks by either dodging or parrying them.
Despite being an Intent Proficiency saber technique, Black Tiger Saber Technique’s strokes were too simple after all; they were too easily figured out and too predictable.
When all was said and done, it was but a third-class saber technique. It was already extremely powerful in Lu Sheng’s hands and was adequate against ordinary experts. But when matched against the experienced and battle-savvy Gongsun Zhanglan, its inadequacies and loopholes were easily exposed. Had it not been for Lu Sheng’s hard body skills which allowed him to dispense with defense and concentrate entirely on his offense, Lu Sheng would have long since lost the battle.
Stroke by stroke, his long saber repeatedly meted out strikes from Black Tiger Saber Technique from different angles. Stroke by stroke, they were parried away.
But Gongsun Zhanglan, on the other hand, was rather frustrated too. All his inner force was channeled into his Prime Mystic Palm. Yet, each time he wanted to draw near to land a strike, he would be forced backwards by Lu Sheng’s reckless offensive and left with no option but to first block the advancing long saber.
Lu Sheng was fighting with reckless abandon, but he himself still wanted to live on!
In a series of palm moves, Gongsun Zhanglan parried the saber blade slashing for his neck and burst forward.
“Mystic Gate of Life and Death!” The Prime Mystic Palm strike lashed out, seemingly heavy, but actually light-weighted.
This strike was the culmination of Gongsun Zhanglan’s full-mastery over all his skills; it looked light-weighted and gentle on the surface, but could instantly explode with Prime Mystic Palm’s pinnacle power in an instant if it were taken lightly by the opponent.
With his saber slapped aside once again, anger rose in Lu Sheng’s heart. He had not landed a single strike in more than ten moves. And now, seeing such a light and flippant palm strike coming his way, he was overjoyed that his opponent had finally decided to face him head on. Ultimate Crimson Mantra activated Ultimate Crimson Qi from all over his body in a frenzy, channeling them into his palm. Simultaneously, Lu Sheng activated Heart Shattering Palm to its peak and struck out madly.
Both palms made contact. At first, Lu Sheng felt an emptiness behind his opponent’s palm strike, as if his blow had landed on a ball of cotton. Then, a massive force came blasting towards him like a volcanic eruption. This gushing force was a stark contrast with the attack from before, smashing incredibly hard into the heart of his palm like a giant hammer.
“Prime Mystic: Extreme Emptiness!!!” Gongsun Zhanglan’s eyes widened and his body shook. Decades of inner force gushed out and erupted out towards his opponent’s palm. All his power lashed out from his palm.
“HAHAHAHAHA!!! Let’s see who dies first!!!” Lu Sheng had estimated the strength behind his opponent’s palm strike wrongly. His own inner force had landed on emptiness. In contrast, his enemy’s overwhelming force collided into his palm. Yet, despite his clear mistake, he began laughing madly. Ultimate Crimson Mantra was activated to the maximum as he resisted the invading force.
“Yin Yang Jade Crane! DIE!!!” He roared madly, released his long saber, and lashed out with another palm strike, hitting Gongsun Zhanglan’s flank savagely.
Finally, he had used his trump card as well. Yin Yang Jade Crane Skill circulated all over him.
Now, each of them had suffered a strike, one after the other.
Lu Sheng retreated several steps. A hue of red flashed across his face; he had clearly suffered internal injuries.
Gongsun Zhanglan was forced sideways for more than ten steps. Blood seeped from the corner of his lips. His right arm hung limply by his side; it had clearly been fractured.
“Incredible palm might!” He could not help but exclaim in praise, even though it was towards his enemy. Gongsun Zhanglan sighed as he touched his fractured right arm.
“What a pity…”
In that instant, a black gleam shot out from his left arm. A black dart came flying towards Lu Sheng, a black chain trailing behind it.
“Soul Locking Spear!” The old Sect Master, who had been watching the fight from afar, could not help but shout in alarm. “He’s still been practicing this evil skill!”
“Concatenate Soul Locking Spear… it’s a top-grade evil skill that can be cultivated only by consuming human blood. Didn’t Gongsun Zhanglan personally promise to cripple his cultivation of this skill!?” Elder Wang too bellowed in shock and anger.
“Now that Soul Locking Spear has appeared, this battle must end! It’s no longer a fair duel!” Somber-faced, Hong Mingzi stepped forward, about to leap onto the shore.
“Is old Sect Master planning to interfere with this death match?” On the shore facing the bamboo raft, Fang Zhidong stood composedly with his hands behind his back, staring at the pair including Hong Mingzi quietly. “That’s not an action befitting of a senior. Whether it’s orthodox or not, strength is the only thing that counts towards surviving in this world. Doesn’t old Sect Master understand that yet?”
Fang Zhidong was a very charismatic and handsome man. His almond-shaped eyes, goatee, and slim figure made him look more like one of the brush-wielding Confucian literati than a martial arts expert.
But Hong Mongzi was clear that Fang Zhidong’s Extreme Elementary Ram was extraordinarily powerful. Even with Hong Mingzi’s strength, it would take him at least over a hundred moves to defeat him. If he was younger, he could get past this man within twenty moves. But now, he had long since passed his prime.
“Fang Zhidong, are you bent on obstructing me?” Hong Mingzi rebuked somberly.
“How can old Sect Master say that? I came only to be a witness to ensure a fair duel,” Fang Zhidong smiled and glanced at the battle.
Soul Locking Spear roared and bellowed under Gongsun Zhanglan’s control. Its ferocity and might surpassed even that of Prime Mystic Palm.
Lu Sheng ducked and dodged. He had no experience facing such an eccentric weapon and was forced into dire straits.
As he retreated, he pulled out the long saber that had been stabbed into the ground.
“Dang dang dang!”
A series of clangs rang out as Soul Locking Spear hit against Lu Sheng’s blade like a long black whip with extremely dense force.
In a moment of carelessness, Lu Sheng was struck on his side and forced backwards. A long streak of injury ripped open instantly across his waist. Soul Locking Spear’s range was too big for Lu Sheng to get near his opponent. Moreover, it could really mete out considerable damage.
Lu Sheng glanced at the wound across his waist. Despite his hard body skill, he had still suffered a wound the length of a palm. Blood rapidly seeped out of it, dyeing his robes red.
But only for a second. Yin Yang Jade Crane Skill quickly closed up the wound, stemming the blood flow within a breath’s span.
A numbing yet itching sensation seeped upwards from his waist. Although it was rapidly suppressed by Yin Yang Jade Crane Skill, it caused Lu Sheng’s expression to change.
“Not bad huh… to think that it’s actually a poison skill…”
Gongsun Zhanglan, however, did not push on in his offensive. Presently, beads of sweat emerged on his forehead. He had put in all his strength into the past consecutive ten moves. Even if he had accumulated decades of inner force, it was barely enough for his rate of exhaustion. Just a few breaths’ span had consumed almost all his inner force. He needed time to rebuild Qi.
“It’s too late even if you were to beg for your life now,” a murky breath escaped his lips. “Those struck by my Soul Locking Spear will find its poison seeping through their skin and blocking all their meridians and blood vessels within two hours. Not only that, the poison will flow into your heart through your veins, serving up death by heart blockage.”
“Is that so?” Lu Sheng lifted his saber and stalked slowly towards Gongsun Zhanglan.
Gongsun Zhanglan’s pupils shrank as he noticed no trace of abnormal changes on the wound along Lu Sheng’s waist.
“You…” he was about to speak when he saw Lu Sheng’s body rapidly inflating like a balloon. Arteries and veins bulged out across his bare upper body, and thick bands of muscles emerged. His entire body had expanded to twice its original size. The blood-red spot on his forehead turned a deeper shade of red.
“This is the first time I’m using this move against a human being ever since I’ve created it,” Lu Sheng drew nearer and nearer, two clearly discernible and distinct inner forces radiating out of him at the same time. “Please don’t disappoint me…”
“What…!” Gongsun Zhanglan had just opened his mouth when he saw that, to his shock, Lu Sheng was charging towards him like a train at twice his previous speed!
Massive force propelled Lu Sheng’s saber blade forward, causing a deafening blast across the air.
Compared to all his previous saber moves, Lu Sheng’s present strike was so immensely powerful that one would not have believed it came from the same person unless one had seen it with his own eyes.
Gongsun Zhanglan felt as if his eyes were pierced with needles. The saber blade was moving too quickly; he could only see its afterimage.
Without time for any further thought, he shielded himself with his spear on reflex. The tip of his spear shook violently.
Saber and spear collided. The sound that rang out was not the clanging of metal, but the intense blast and tremor of inner force.