9 Ji Lingfeng
Ji Lingfeng adjusted her long white sleeves and put on a veiled straw hat that was behind her back.
Yi Ping asked, "Why did you do that for? It is not as if you cannot be recognized by anyone. I surely will be able to recognize you even if you turn into ashes."
Yi Ping had said that because he had a blood feud with the maiden in yellow and anyone with a veil irked him.
Ji Lingfeng did not seem to mind. In fact, her thin eyebrows had a mischievous expression. She soon chuckled softly, "You will soon know. Is it true that even if I am turned into ashes, you will still be able to recognize me? I didn't know you are paying so much attention to me. If you are a pile of ashes, I surely wouldn't be able to recognize you."
Yi Ping did not want to argue with her. He said hurriedly, "Let us set off now. It is getting dark soon. You don't have to keep adjusting your attire and grooming yourself by the river."
This time round, Ji Lingfeng was none too pleased. She murmured, "It just a few minutes. Why are you being so impatient?"
Yi Ping heard her and he said, "I have been waiting for you for the past two hours. First, you start mending your dress and now you tidying your attire. Isn't that enough already?"
Ji Lingfeng said, "During the ruffle with the *****es from the Eternal Ice Palace, they have torn parts of my clothing. Of course I have to mend my clothing to look presentable. Don't you think so too? After all, I am a girl and I should protect my modesty."
Yi Ping said, "They are not what you think. And please don't use vulgarities on them. A pretty maiden like you wouldn't mouth profanities."
Ji Lingfeng laughed softly, "Unfortunately, that is my mouth and not yours. If you do not want to listen to me, you can simply go far away from me."
Yi Ping had never met a maiden the like of her before. He was speechless and he began to sit down onto the grass patch. He did not know how long he got to wait for her.
Actually he had felt bad arguing with her. That was because she had saved his life and instead of being grateful, he was now arguing with her. It was just that he could not help feeling that she was trying to make a fool of him.
All of a sudden, he had a thought, "What if she has made up that old master? Who would impart anyone their secret martial skills just like that?"
Just as he was about to question her again, she said. "I am ready. Let's us go now."
Yi Ping was about to question her when he noticed that she was already very far. What an astonishing swiftness movement that she possessed!
Therefore, he had no choice but to run after her.
Yi Ping soon realized why she had been so mindful about her attire. In this wilderness, there was plenty of biting insects. Now he knew why her eyes were secretly beaming with laughter. In no time, he was bitten by numerous insects. He quickly took out some extra clothing from his bundle and turned it into a makeshift cloth to wrap around his face.
Ji Lingfeng was a unique lady. It seemed that her expressions portrayed her emotions. Even if she did not speak, her body mannerism and facial emotions tells it all. She had very thin eyebrows, her eyebrows and forehead had numerous expressions all the time.
When Ji Lingfeng turned back and saw Yi Ping hastily covering his face and looking for a robe with long sleeves, she was seen clasping her hands onto her mouth as she bent to and fro. She was obviously enjoying what had happening to Yi Ping.
Yi Ping was covered in perspiration from the running as he complained aloud, "You…did not warn me!"
But he had no strength left to complaint further for she had turned around and danced away again. He had no choice but to follow her white figure in the distance.
From time to time, she would pause briefly for him to catch up but as soon as he was near, she would continue to move again.
Yi Ping was astonished at her swiftness movement and her breathing techniques. He thought, "How long did she train in order to reach this level of expertise?"
He was immediately ashamed of his own martial achievements.
He did not know how long he had been running. There were a few times that he had lost her and he was panicky. But each time, she would appear in front of him.
It was night now. Yi Ping was thankful that there was a full moon tonight and thousands of stars illuminate the darkness. But even with the full moon, he could barely see any foot path. On several occasions, he tripped and fell down.
When he had lost his footing again and slipped down a treacherous slope, Ji Lingfeng had suddenly appeared on top of him and gripped him on his shoulder.
Her grip was surprising strong and Yi Ping was pulled up from the slope.
Yi Ping was instantly grateful to her as he said, "Thank you!"
Ji Lingfeng rebuked him gently, "Don't misunderstood. I am only worried for the wine jars."
His grateful eyes soon turned gloomy as he said breathlessly, "Maybe you can help to carry the wine jars…"
But before he could finish speaking, she said coolly. "Inhale deeply and follow me."
Immediately, Yi Ping could feel a powerful force pulling him forward alongside with her as she caught hold of his hand. This time round, his runs became a lot easier even though it was still as hell as ever.
Ji Lingfeng was waiting for him to collapse onto the ground or to beg her to stop. But he did not. Worried about his injuries and guilty about misleading him, she supported his runs with her martial power and pulled him along with her.
Even then, it was not going to be easy for Yi Ping as he had to run at her pace even though the pressure on his breathing had eased considerably.
Yi Ping's heart skipped a beat when she touched and held him with her left hand. He began to flush deeply as his ears turned terribly red as he felt her silken smooth hand. Even her scent was so intoxicating so up close to him.
This was the first time that Yi Ping really looked at her closely even though it was at her back view.
She had looked relax and it was as though she was taking a stroll while he was half dead from climbing up and down the hills! But looking at her, made him forgot about his exhaustion…
Ji Lingfeng almost messed up with her breathing regulation as she was distracted by thoughts of him; she could feel the warmth of his right palm in her hand. It was an assuring palm, strong and comforting. This was the first time she had held a man hand other than her brother. It was a wonderful feeling yet she could not describe it…
After running for some time, Ji Lingfeng was secretly amazed at his endurance even though his breathing techniques and swiftness skill were mediocre. She really could not believe that he had endured till now even though he looked as though he would collapse at any time!
Astonished by his inhuman endurance, she thought, "Is he human?"
Yi Ping was in a daze and he already seeing stars as he thought, "Is she even human? How is it possible for her to run up and down the hills for this long…?"
Ji Lingfeng was already feeling the stress of expending her internal strength to support him and she was worn-out.
Yi Ping did not even realize the passage of time when Ji Lingfeng coolly said aloud to him, "It seem that I have found the valley. Lucky us!"
As soon as she had released her grip off his hand, Yi Ping fell onto the ground in sheer exhaustion.
Yi Ping nearly died of exhaustion. Now he really knew what she had meant by she was traveling rapidly! He silently sighed, "I never want to travel with her ever again."
Ji Lingfeng suddenly gave a long sigh, "We have climbed ten hills and got lost. This valley was actually just besides the third hill that we had passed. We really are lost."
When Yi Ping heard that, he did not know whether he should laugh or cry. He felt like banging his head onto the ground in misery.
Ji Lingfeng said, "This path leading down should lead us to the valley. Let us go now. This time round, I am not going to walk you there."
She began to move on but when her sharp ears did not pick up any sign of movements from behind, she turned back instantly.
Yi Ping was still lying on the ground.
She asked softly, "Hmph, are you there?"
There was no response.
She asked again, "Are you alright?"
Still, there was no response.
She was panicky, "I have killed him…?"
Drain of all his strength and having reached the limits of his endurance, Yi Ping was knocked out cold.
All of a sudden, he began to recall a time when he was a five year old child again. His mother was frail. At that age, he was already helping her to gather woods among many other menial tasks…
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Shui Yichi looked dreamily as she stared out of the window, wishing every day that she could see her husband again. She was frail and her health worsened every day. She feared that she might not live for long.
If there was anything that she could not let go in this world, it was her only child, Yi Ping.
Even though she was once Emerald Mistress of the Eternal Ice Palace before she passed the leadership to her younger protégé sister Shui Yixian, she did not miss her previous glorious position. She had no attachments for her protégé sisters or anyone in the Eternal Ice Palace. Even though she was once close to Shui Yixian and they had spent five decades together, their affections toward one another cooled over the years.
Maybe it was the Emotionless Rhythm that they had been practicing that made them indifferent to one another even though they were in the same sect together. Or maybe it was because they were both the best in many generations and not wanting to disappoint their protégé mistress, they strove to perfect their skills.
It was also precisely why she did not have any protégé disciples.
Shui Yixian was striving for the ninth level of the Divine Emerald Skill and was in her final stage of breaking through the eighth level of the Divine Emerald Skill. As for her, she stopped her Divine Emerald Skill at the eighth level and focused on the Jade Icy Fingers. With her intimate understandings of the Jade Icy Fingers, her Icy Heavenly Tears was even more intricate than Shui Yixian, even though they had both attained the ninth level of the Icy Heavenly Tears.
In time to come, she had even evolved her Jade Icy Finger into the Jade Icicles Finger. So intricate was her later understanding that she was able to prolong the backlash of the Icy Heavenly Tears and was even able to choose an opportune time herself. Even the time that she needed to recover her martial level was more than halved!
Even though Shui Yixian was a martial prodigy and had achieved the ninth level of the Heavenly Tears when she was eighteen while she only achieved the same level when she was thirty, her Icy Tear Heavenly Tears energy had always been purer.
She took on the challenge of mastering the jade Icy Fingers to perfection. It was an extremely arduous and monument task but eventually she had overcome all difficulties and she had even created the Jade Icicle Fingers. When she had achieved the Jade Icicle Fingers, her Icy Tear Heavenly Tear energy became so pure that she could even neutralize the defensive force of Shui Yixian Divine Emerald Skill!
But it was also the creation of the Jade Icicle Fingers that caused her much harm. Through the Jade Icicle Fingers, eventually she found a possible way to resolve the weakness of the Icy Heavenly Tears and started to look for another way for a breakthrough in the current state of her icy Heavenly Tears. Therefore she started to experiment with another skill that she created with the pure negative energy of the Icy Heavenly Tears and the Jade Icicle Fingers, the Eternal Heavenly Tears.
By this time, she had already handed over the leadership of the Eternal Ice Palace to Shui Yixian because she had found the love of her life, Yi Tianxing, a man that dared to challenge the Eternal Ice Palace.
When she thought of Yi Tianxing again, her eyes were tearful again and her heart began to ache terribly with great sorrow.
After leaving the Eternal Ice Palace, Yi Tianxing had imparted to her the Divine Revelation, an intricate formula and mediation skill similar to the Emotionless Rhythm. She was inspired by it and began to write with her fingers in a cave near the Eternal Ice Palace on her untested theories on the ultimate Icy Heavenly Tears and even on the hidden stages of the Divine Emerald Skill that she meant to practice once she had fully mastered the Jade Icicle Fingers and the Eternal Heavenly Tears.
Because she was afraid that outsiders might found her inscriptions, she sealed the cave as a precaution even though only a direct protégé of the Eternal Ice Palace might be able to understand it. Moreover, she deemed the theories too dangerous to impart. She herself would not practice the theories as she had found a safer way in the Eternal Heavenly Tears.
And with her protégé sister, Shui Yixian present martial level, there was also no need for her test her unproven theories and wasted years of her time.
She did not know that more than twenty years later, her protégé sister Shui Yixian was still not been able to progress much further because she had been too hasty in her Icy Heavenly Tears in her earlier years. In fact, she was forced to spend the next twenty years researching the Icy Heavenly Tears over and over again in order to combat the forthcoming Divine Calamity that had killed their protégé mistress.
And Shui Yixian in a lucky happenstance had found the inscriptions that she had left behind…
When she was eight months heavy with child, her husband Yi Tianxing was betrayed by his sworn brother. That vile sworn brother of his had even tried to outrage her and harm her. As she was in a heavy stage of pregnancy and because she had not fully mastered her Jade Icicle Fingers yet, she had overtly exerted herself and irrevocably damaged her health, losing much of her internal strength that she had painfully gained over the years.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by little Yi Ping who had accidentally scalded himself. She gasped weakly upon seeing it but Yi Ping did not say anything or cry.
She looked at Yi Ping, her beloved child who was boiling hot water for her with the fire woods that he had gathered in the woods. Her heart ached for him when she saw his numerous bruises and knew that that he was bullied by the neighboring children again. But he would never cry in front of her.
It was as though her child could sense her sadness and grief even at a very young age.
All of a sudden, five men broke into the house. When they had entered the house, they were stunned at her enchanting beauty. It was because they had never expected to find such a beauty in this desolate countryside.
The strongest of the five, who appeared to be the leader, broke the silence, "Brothers we are in luck. We have heard that there is a beautiful widow here but I have never expected to find a peerless beauty here."
The other four began to laugh wickedly. Their laughter was full of malice and ill-intent.
Little Yi Ping began to shout and charged at the leader.
Shui Yichi gasped aloud, "Child, don't!" But it was too late…
But the leader just laughed and he kicked Yi Ping real hard. This kick was so powerful that it sent Yi Ping flying backward and he was flung against the wall with a loud bang!
Shui Yichi eyes turned red and teary. She leaned her hands onto the side of the wall as she walked as soon as she could towards her child. She was so weak and her movements were limited.
But before she could walk to her child, the five men had surrounded her and began to seize her in all directions.
All of a sudden, the five men could feel a bitter cold that pierced through their spines. It was so cold that it felt that their skins had been burnt. They could feel their bones cracking and when they fell down dead onto the ground; their eyes were wide-opened in disbelief.
In that swift instant, Shui Yichi had struck them with her Jade Icicle Fingers. Even though she had lost much of her internal strength, her Jade Icicle Fingers was still an extremely potent skill against ordinary men.
Shui Yichi comforted her child, "Child, are you alright?" She sobbed and held little Yi Ping into her embrace.
Little Yi Ping muttered, "Mum, I am alright. Are you alright?"
Shui Yichi wept even louder, "Child, your mum is alright. Don't you worry about me…"
Little Yi Ping was bleeding from his nose and mouth but he said, "Mum, you know how to fight? Can you teach me how to fight?"
Shui Yichi held him tightly, "I will. Child, you must be strong…you mustn't die…"
Little Yi Ping said, "Mum, I won't die. I don't want mum to die too…" He had turned completely white but still he refused to cry.
Shui Yichi wept, "Look, my child."
She sketched her hands in front of him. Immediately, the air around them turned bitter cold.
It was so chilly that the tiny flies around the house began to drop dead onto the ground.
Shui Yichi wept as she laid her hands on her child's small body, "My child, you will feel terrible pain, even awful terrible pain but you mustn't be afraid. You will not die. But it is going to be very painful."
Indeed, little Yi Ping must be feeling terrible painful because he was now shedding tears and his body was trembling nonstop. But he did not cry aloud or plead to his mother to stop. He simply did not want to make his mother sad and fearful.
Negative energy, especially negative cold internal energy like the one that Shui Yichi possessed was ill-suit to treat internal injuries. Moreover, hers were the extreme cold negative energy. If the receiver was seriously injured, their body would not able to take it. It would be so agonizing that it would only worsen their injuries.
But Shui Yichi had no other choice as she began to transfer all her internal strength into her child in an attempt to save his life.
When she had finished imparting her entire Icy Heavenly Tears energy into him, little Yi Ping eyes were still opened even though his face had turned entirely white.
Little Yi Ping shivered and bit his purple lips, "Mum, I am alright. Teach me how to fight…I want to protect you…"
Shui Yichi smiled weakly as she got up. She immediately displayed seventy gestures, eighty stances and ninety strokes. All these movements were the most ingenious fighting movement that Shui Yichi had ever known; it was collected from the vast martial scrolls of the Eternal Ice Palace and the numerous opponents that she ever fought with in her entire life.
After Shui Yichi had finished displaying those profound fighting moves, she collapsed onto the ground, never to awake.
And these fighting movements were to be ingrained deeply into little Yi Ping's mind. In time to come, he would slowly intuitively remember it again…