54 Reciprocate of the Hearts
Six extraordinary and beautiful breathtaking maidens were standing in the silent night. Any man who caught sight of them would surely be captivated by them and thought they were heavenly maidens that had just descended upon the mortal realm.
Ji Wuzheng was only a mortal man and he was not an exception.
Since that day when his sister Lingfeng had brought these maidens into the Inner Holy Chapter, he had been astonished that in the entire fraternity, there were other such beauties that could rival Lingfeng in her peerless beauty.
What really startled him were not their great beauties but the level of their martial proficiencies which immediately ranked them among the top echelon exponents in the martial fraternity.
And just how good were their martial proficiencies?
He was now staring in complete astonishment at the Martial Sage who was rumbling incoherently on the ground, "Dirty…rematch…don't count…Xian'Er…why did you hit me…"
Ji Wuzheng was astonished at the seemingly iron strength of the Martial Sage as he thought, "This is his Iron Vest Aegis Skill? He can take so much punishment…"
He was not the only person that was stunned at the sight of the Martial Sage lying on the ground.
Yi Ping was also stunned at the sight.
It was because he had just been bashed by the Martial Sage and the martial strength of the Martial Sage still filled him with awe, "It is Qing'Er that knocks him down?"
He had suddenly realized that he knew very little about her and her martial origin. To him, Qing'Er was the vulnerable maiden that always needed his protection. The few times that she had used her Invincible Divine Force were just a demonstration of her martial force and not an indication of her actual fighting techniques. The only time that he had actually seen her in a real action was her fight with Lele. But that was not an indication of her true skills for he could see that she was just trying to slap Lele and there was no killing intent.
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Yi Ping was beginning to lament his fate tomorrow…
As the Martial Sage lay on the ground, he was dreamily calling out for Xian'Er once more and he began to recall the events in the last few days…
The Martial Sage had vented some of his frustrations and was secretly cursing the truce for happening at the wrong timing. He had spent days climbing the dangerous sheer mountain cliffs of the Holy Amalgamate Mountains, replying on his iron will and physical endurance so that he could surprise and avenge the death of the Old Sword Saint on Ji Wuzheng directly. He simply could not understand why Xiao Shuai was delaying an all-out attack on the Holy Hex Sect even though they had been camping for more than two weeks at the foot of the mountains.
Many of the martial clans were not pleased with the lack of action and decided to assault the Holy Amalgamate Mountains on their own; none succeed and with a great appalling loss of lives.
Even when the Three Sages had succeeded in killing four of the Holy Chapter Guardians of the Holy Hex Sect, the Honor Manor and the Virtuous Palace continued to take no action.
He had confronted Xiao Shuai and Han Shaodong, who was actually Gu Tianle's protégé master and he was also the new grandmaster of the Honor Manor.
Han Shaodong said, "Be patient. The big fish has not yet arrived."
"What big fish, small fish? Ji Wuzheng is the one that has killed our brother. We only need to kill him and our brother's death can be avenged!" He had said.
They were referring to the Holy Maiden and of course, they did not reveal their real plans to the Martial Sage.
Xiao Shuai was reluctant to tell him more so he merely said, "We are waiting for all the fraternity Notorious Four to show up first. They would surely come to the aid of the Holy Hex Sect. This expedition is not only to address martial justice for the Old Sword Saint and to foil the ambitions of the Holy Hex Sect; it is also to lure the Notorious Four from hiding."
The Martial Sage was not as tolerant as them and decided to take the course of action into his own hands as he was hopping mad, "Brother Xiao Shuai and Brother Han Shaodong seem to have become another person…"
He could still remember fifty years ago, there was a rumor of a lost martial treasure trove in an underground city in the great desolate desert. Accordingly, it was the martial treasure of the legendary Sage King. At that time, hundreds of martial exponents were also traveling to the desert in search of this underground city; no one wants to be the last. Against the knowledge of his protégé master and elders, he had secretly arrived at the desert even though they had warned him that it was highly possible that it was a conspiracy to cause infighting among the martial exponents. But the prospects of meeting exponents from different fraternities and different martial clans excited him more than any dangers.
It was then at that time, he met the changing point of his life!
He had seen a maiden like no other and she was Xian'Er!
She was at the inn, stunning everyone with her extraordinary beauty. From the exquisite scabbards and the exquisite adorn on the sword hilts, it was obvious that she had with her two precious long swords. Other than that, there were no other clues to her identity.
Aside from him, dozens of daring exponents had tried to make advances to her without success. No matter how repute the exponent was, orthodox or unorthodox; none of them succeed in getting her name or her martial origin.
Pretty soon, it became quite hilarious as he watched scores of exponents getting beaten up by her at different intervals, one group after another!
If the exponents could not overcome her using hard methods, they would try all kinds of underhand soft methods like offering her spiked drinks, bribing the innkeepers, pretending to be waiters to ambush her, faking their life stories and hoping to get her sympathies.
None of the methods worked!
A group of bulky exponents had just entered the tavern and it was obviously they were looking for her for they were staring at her lustfully. The leader of their group said, "So this is the young beauty that injured our brothers? If you will company us for a week then we can forgive you for the slight…"
Barely had he had spoken, the young beautiful maiden had thrown several chopsticks that were in a bamboo container with a startling speed!
Immediately all the bulky men were lying and crawling on the floor, screaming in agonies as the chopsticks pierced into their bodies like piercing daggers!
As the young beautiful maiden raised more chopsticks in her fingers, those big bulky men were immediately filled with terror and they left as fast as they had come, hastily stumbling out of the tavern!
At that time, another stranger was sharing the table with him. He was the Future Sword Saint which later became the Sword Saint.
The Future Sword Saint said to him with a conceit look, "Look, let's have a bet with you. With just two moves, I can get her name."
The young Martial Sage was startled, "What is the bet and how are you planning to do it? So many have already failed."
The Future Sword Saint said, "I bet my only sword with you. You can surely tell my sword is no ordinary sword as well. If you lose, you must pay my tab and lodgings. As how I am going to do it, you will soon know."
The young Martial Sage asked, "Just two moves?"
The Future Sword Saint laughed, "No more, no less!"
The young Martial Sage thought, "This young stranger sure like to boast. Very well, let me bet with him then. At most I only lose my coins but at least I may get to know her name."
So he laughed aloud, "That will do it then!"
The Future Sword Saint smiled mysteriously as he tapped his head with his fingers, "Watch me then. Sometimes we got to use our intellect. I am going to use a clever ruse to trick her."
The Future Sword Saint walked unhurried to the beautiful young maiden. He had purposely slowed down his steps and walked heavily so that everyone's attention would fall upon him.
He seemed to be enjoying the moment immensely!
There were a low rumblings as the crowd whispered, "There's another challenger. Wonder if he will succeed…"
The Future Sword Saint said, "Maiden, may I know your name?"
The beautiful young maiden continue to sit quietly and refusing to answer him.
The Future Sword Saint laughed, "Maiden, watch out!"
All of a sudden, the Future Sword Saint swung his scabbard at her. But because he had already warned her, she dodged his swinging scabbard effortlessly.
Instead of attacking her with a follow up attack, the Future Sword Saint had seized the two swords that had belonged to her which were carelessly place on the table with his other hand!
The Future Sword Saint laughed, "Maiden, if you want to get back your swords, you must at least tell me your maiden name…"
But before he could finish, the beautiful young maiden had seized back her swords from his hands and had kicked him, causing him to lose his footing!
And before he could even recover from his footing, the beautiful young maiden had gave him another vicious kick and sent him flying across the floor!
The onlookers immediately moaned and laughed, "Another one…"
The Future Sword Saint struggled weakly to his seat and said to the young Martial Sage, "If you are a hero, then it is your turn."
The young Martial Sage smiled at the Future Sword Saint, "Give me your sword first."
That was how the Martial Sage had met Xian'Er and the Old Sword Saint Zuo…
A fine looking young man who was seating next to them had heard their wager. He laughed aloud, "If I can get that young beauty to drink with me, the two of you will pay for all my tabs here?"
The Future Sword Saint laughed coldly, "You? Don't make me laugh! If you can, we will surely pay for your tab!"
The young Martial Sage laughed, "If you can, we will pay for all your tabs. But I think it is better to admire her from afar. She is a flower with real painful thorns."
The fine looking young man smiled, "Deal! If I can get her to drink with me, then the two of you will pay for my entire tab in this tavern!"
As he got up with a flask of wine and a cup in his hands, he smiled at the Future Sword Saint and the young Martial Sage.
He went to the beautiful young maiden as he toasted her, "Maiden, will you honor me by allowing me to toast you with a drink?"
The beautiful young maiden smiled gently and lifted her cup to return his toast.
The Future Sword Saint and the young Martial Sage was instantly stunned…
The young Martial Sage was secretly startled, "She likes man with refine looks?"
The fine looking young man then walked back with a broad grin to the Future Sword Saint and the young Martial Sage, "My tabs are on you guys!"
The young Martial Sage stammered, "How…how did you do that? You know magic?"
The Future Sword Saint was astonished, "How the hell did you manage to get her to return a toast to you? You know her?"
The fine looking young man smiled and calmly explained, "She is aware that I have been paying for her tabs and lodgings for several days now. Now she is merely returning me a small appreciation by returning a toast with me. You guys have lost and my tabs are all yours now."
The young Martial Sage was startled, "I am paying for her tab and yours now?!"
The Future Sword Saint was even more startled, "Darn! Why didn't I think of that?!"
The fine looking young man was Han Shaodong!
Not long after, there was news that the underground desert city in the desert had been found. All the exponents in the small desert town began to trek into the great desert!
However, the great desert and the underground desert city proved to be too perilous. Many perished in the trek across the great desert. Those who had survived found the traps of the underground desert city to be even perilous than the great desert itself!
Almost all the surviving exponents that survived the trek across the great desert perished in the underground desert city. Among the fallen, were scores of renowned exponents and quite a few were even the super exponents of the fraternity!
Many had either fallen to the deadly traps of the underground desert city or fallen to infighting between the martial exponents hoping to be the first one to reach the lowest level for the martial treasure trove.
Eventually for those that persisted in the underground city, there were just twelve survivors. They either have plenty of luck, extraordinary intelligence or exceptional skill in order to survive to the lowest level of the underground desert city palace. In short, these twelve were also the most talented of their generation.
Among the twelve, there was the young beautiful maiden and her name was Xian'Er!
The Martial Sage had never forgotten that she had accidentally let it slipped out that her name was Yixian!
The twelve survivors decided to band together to form a secret group and to do something really outrageous together while keeping their identities a secret.
The new group of course had to have a leader to lead them.
Naturally, the young Martial Sage had dominated Xian'Er to be the group leader. However, the group leadership was eventually led by Xiao Shuai who had the most votes and this new group was later known as the Celestial Palace Group.
Under Xiao Shuai's leadership, the secret Celestial Palace Group infiltrated the various martial clans of the fraternity and secretly read their secret manuals when they got their hands on it. After that, they would put the secret manuals back after copying it.
What was astonishing was not how startling the martial skills of the major orthodox clans were but the number of secret skills and secrets that the smaller martial clans had possessed. Due to generations of decline, most of the epitome skills could not be practiced.
They quickly unravel many secrets and secret histories of the various martial clans, even from their own clans!
The young Martial Sage and many of the group were left cursing after they had realized that their protégé masters and elders had hidden many intricate strokes and techniques from them even though it was actually a fairly common practice to do so in the martial fraternity; the master would always held back a few hidden techniques to protect themselves.
But of course, they were not always successful. Most of the real forbidden secrets of the various clans like heart intricacy formulas were still off limits to them. Without the intricate heart formulas to understand the intricate strokes, the true quintessence and the embodiment of the martial skill could not be unraveled!
They were all simply testing their limits and stealth skills.
Despite several constraints, in a short time they had collected dozens of martial skills and used the knowledge to improvise their own martial skills and to fix several shortcomings.
Everyone except Xian'Er was overcome by the intrigues and madness of stealing and peeking at the secret manuals of the other martial clans…
But when Xian'Er had disappeared one day, the young Martial Sage was almost driven to desperation as he searched the entire fraternity for her but to no avail. It was because the fraternity was so large and he really had no idea which martial clan she had come from!
With Xian'Er missing and no longer in the secret Celestial Palace Group, the thrill of being part of the secret group was gone and many eventually left quietly, causing the secret Celestial Palace Group to be disbanded.
Imagine his jovial happiness when he caught sight of Yu'Er and Mei'Er swords! He had recognized these swords as belonging to Xian'Er! He did not care how old Xian'Er was now. In his heart, he had to know her whereabouts for he had been searching for her for as long as he could remember!
But before he could get any information from them, he was interrupted rudely by Ji Wuzheng and Yi Ping.
And just as he was about to settle his feud with Ji Wuzheng, he was told that there was a short armistice between the Honor Manor and the Holy Hex Sect, which left him fuming mad.
As one of the Three Sages and as an exponent of the righteous orthodox martial clan, he was bounded by honor to follow the truce.
So when an angry Yi Ping attacked him, he decided to teach him a hard lesson or two. Given Yi Ping's notorious reputation, he would have gladly killed him on the spot. Again, it was his honor that prevented him from dealing justice on the spot.
The 'hard' lesson was not what he had expected!
He was expecting Yi Ping to be completely overwhelmed by his martial technique, the Hundred Invincible Iron Fists.
His old heart skipped a beat when Yi Ping changed his attacking stance to a defensive one as he took all his Hundred Invincible Iron Fists. Even though it appeared that he had plummeted Yi Ping onto the ground with a thunderous crashing impact, Yi Ping had in fact neutralized most of his powerful Hundred Invincible Iron Fists with his Divine Horizon Hands.
Other than temporary draining Yi Ping of his physical strength and causing him some discomfort, there seemed to be no other external injuries!
"This young man…how is it possible?" He was secretly startled!
If word got out that he could not even handle a young man with his famous Hundred Invincible Iron Fists, he would surely be the laughing stock of the martial fraternity!
So just before he had gone on his way, he had put on some face saving measures as he said coldly. "This is just a small lesson for you before I go. If it isn't for an old friend of mine, I would have hit you even harder."
As he left and made several winding turns in the maze-like Inner Holy Chapter premises, he had suddenly dumped into four extraordinary beautiful maidens!
He was astonished by their extraordinary beauties!
He immediately grabbed them as he stammered excitedly, "Xian'Er, is that you? No you're not. You have her features and you have her eyes…"
Lie Qing was startled as the Martial Sage grabbed her waist, "Outrageous, dirty old man! Take your hands off me and apologize or else I will be nasty! What do you think you are doing?! Who are you?"
She tried to push him away but this old man was too simply overwhelming strong.
He began to grab Lingfeng, Youxue and Ding Yun at the same time!
Lie Qing immediately asked Lingfeng, "Sister Lingfeng, who is he?"
Lingfeng panicky exclaimed, "I don't know! He is an intruder!"
The Martial Sage quickly said, "I am a good guy…"
But before he could finish explaining his intentions, the four maidens had displayed some of their most intricate techniques and struck him at the same time!
Lie Qing gave a soft sigh, "I told you we have already restrained ourselves. It is just a small punishment for laying his hand on us. This dirty old man is really infuriating."
Youxue said coldly, "That's right!"
Ji Wuzheng was secretly startled, "What has actually happened? Did they join hands to knock the Martial Sage on the ground? Or is it just this Maiden Lie Qing?"
He had suspected that it was Maiden Lie Qing because in recent years, Gongsun Bai seemed to have found a deadly divine martial skill called the Invincible Divine Force and with that, he had begun to dominate over the fraternity, causing the influential power of the Honor Manor to increase from day to day!
And the Celestial Liege had also made scant mention of it.
Ji Wuzheng shook his head as he lifted the rumbling Martial Sage with his arms as he walked away.
Yi Ping asked panicky, "Big Brother, you are leaving me alone?"
Ji Wuzheng turned around and said, "Junior Brother, I got to go first and tend to the injuries of the Martial Sage."
And he was gone in a hurry, leaving Yi Ping alone with the six maidens.
Lingfeng asked, "Big Brother? Junior Brother? When did my brother and you become dear brothers?"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly as he scratched his nose.
The six maidens were all looking at Yi Ping with great shyness and their eyes were filled with a hundred affections for him.
Yi Ping was startled when Lie Qing blinked her mesmerizing eyes at him.
He was even more startled when she started walking towards him, causing him to take a step or two back until he dumped into Yu'Er and Mei'Er.
He thought, "She is going to hit me?"
Lie Qing immediately flew into him as she said with utmost affections, "Yi Ping, do you still remember we have a pledge to be with each other till the oceans vanish and the rocks crumble on the night that you have left the Great Tranquil Mountains?"
Lingfeng was also beside him, looking alluring at him. "You have said that we will always be together that night too…"
Youxue said shyly, "I promise you. I will always be there when your heart is filled with sorrow and despair…"
Ding Yun shyly enquired, "Ping'Er, How are your injuries? I hope you are recovering good…"
Yi Ping was totally bewildered as he asked secretly, "What is going on? Aren't they going to hit me like that Martial Sage to a pulp?"
That night when Lingfeng walked out of Yi Ping's resting room in anger, she was joined immediately by Lie Qing, Yu'Er, Mei'Er and Ding Yun.
Ding Yun asked quietly, "Sister Qing'Er, you are really going to duel Ping'Er tomorrow?"
Lie Qing said in a teary emotion, "If I don't kill him, it will be hard to vent my anger!"
Even though that was what she had said but that was just in a moment of anger. Unknown to the other maidens, Lie Qing was not really seriously upset with Yi Ping but had pretended to be otherwise. She just did not want to be isolated by these sisters and got caught in an awkward situation. One of the reasons why she got the fraternity name of the Heavenly Temptress was that she was also an excellent actress as well. But even for the Heavenly Temptress, her feelings towards Yi Ping were more real than anything else; she had struggled with her true feelings for many months until she realized that would only bring herself immense suffering and she had never met a more righteous and selfless person like Yi Ping in her entire life.
Until now, when she had remembered how Yi Ping had saved her life and offered her the Divine Dragon Pill, she would still secretly smile with silent appreciation…
Yu'Er pleaded, "Don't kill Master. Just beat him into a pulp will do…"
Mei'Er hummed, "Turn him black, green, blue, red and purple! Don't you agree, Sister Lingfeng?"
Lingfeng had calmed down considerably and she appeared alarmed.
Ding Yun asked, "What's wrong, Sister Lingfeng?"
Lingfeng said almost inaudibly, "Maybe…maybe we have all wronged Yi Ping."
The rest of the maidens were immediately startled!
Mei'Er quickly asked, "What do you mean?"
Lingfeng sighed softly, "I just remembered that the last time Youxue and I were treating Yi Ping's injuries; there was an extremely cold and negative intricate energy in his body. Even though it was barely noticeable, Youxue and I had noticed it immediately."
Ding Yun was startled, "No wonder when I had checked Yi Ping's pulses many times in the past, I could feel a cold and negative intricate energy. I didn't dare to say anything because I am unsure if my diagnosis is correct. But when he was in a feverish state, that cold and negative intricate was barely visible."
Lie Qing was startled, "So that means, the cold, negative intricate energy in his body and the positive, extreme intricate energy of the Celestial Force may have neutralized each other, creating a counterbalance…"
Ding Yun gasped, "Then we may have made a terrible mistake and was so harsh towards Ping'Er and Youxue. What shall we do now?"
Yu'Er was miserable, "We can't go in now. We just come out. It will be so embarrassing…"
Lie Qing said melancholy, "Lingfeng, Lingfeng…why didn't you tell us earlier? You just destroy whatever good impressions Yi Ping has for me…"
Mei'Er sniffed, "Mine as well…what can we do now to salvage the situation?"
Lingfeng smiled bitterly, "Erm, after I have calmed down…I have thought of that…instead of stopping me from over-reacting, all of you seem to encourage me. Sister Yun, why didn't you stop us instead? You are the most rational in our group."
Ding Yun was startled, "Me? I am supposed to be the nanny? I can't be irrational sometimes?"
Yu'Er said, "What shall we do now? Let's go in and apologize?"
Lie Qing laughed softly, "We don't have to apologize. He probably won't put it into his heart. Let's just pretend nothing has happened…"
Lingfeng smiled weakly, "Somehow I got a bad feeling about this…"
Ding Yun nodded slightly, "I agree…"
Mei'Er immediately hugged Lie Qing, "Sister Qing'Er, Mei'Er goes along with your plan!"
Yu'Er just gasped softly, "Master, please forgive us…"
And just a while ago, they had dumped into Youxue who was wandering forlornly, confirming their suspicious…
The real reason why Youxue was unhappy was because Yi Ping did not share his problems with her or look for her for companionship. Instead, he was drinking despondently with his sworn brothers…
It was no wonder that Yi Ping was bewildered when the six maidens had suddenly displayed their affections for him!
Mei'Er laughed jovially, "Master, you have been drinking? There is a strong whiff of alcohol all over you."
Yi Ping smiled weakly, "I was unhappy."
Yu'Er smiled, "And now?"
Yi Ping sighed gently at the jovial, smiling and the hundred affections around him as they pulled him to and fro. "I really miss all of you. I thought…I thought that all of you are too upset with me to talk to me anymore. Erm…can anyone tells me what is going on here?"
Mei'Er quickly said, "Master, let's have a drink together first. Mei'Er wants to drink…"
Yi Ping got a jolt as he suddenly recalled something so he quickly asked, "Mei'Er and Yu'Er, why did you spike my wine back at the Tranquil Clan? At the Eternal Ice Palace, did you do the same thing too?"
Yu'Er and Mei'Er were so flustered now that their usual white complexion had deep flushes of pink!
Lingfeng quickly interrupted with an alluring soft laugh, "This is not the time to ask such questions. We should really talk about something more romantic…"
Yi Ping got another jolt as he quickly asked Lingfeng, "Lingfeng, why did you take my father's secret manuals? Quickly return it to me!"
Lingfeng stepped hard on his foot, "Did you just hear what I have just said? I say we should talk about something more romantic. Why are you so unromantic? You are such a miser. I am merely taking your secret manuals for a closer look. It is all your father's fault. He didn't want to teach me the Divine Horizon Hands and show me the advance intricate heart formula of the Aspire Invocations. And how do I know your father didn't lie to me about the intricate heart formula of the Asper Horizon Hand that he had tricked me to learn? …"
Lingfeng was suddenly flushing, "And this is the only way to let you remember me and to come to the Holy Amalgamate Mountains for me…"
Yi Ping said, "Lingfeng, my father won't lie to you and moreover, I will surely look for you. Aren't I here now?"
Lingfeng said coolly, "Only Heavens know what you are thinking…you just looking for me because you are looking for your secret manuals…"
Yi Ping said, "No, that's not the truth. You…you…surely know what I am thinking…"
Lingfeng flushed, "No, if you don't say it aloud, I surely don't know what you are thinking. I am not the curly worm in your stomach. Why don't you say what's in your mind?"
Yi Ping asked, "Says what Lingfeng?"
Lingfeng said coldly, "You can start with your beautiful encounter with that beautiful maiden in the cave first."
Lie Qing interrupted with a smile, "Sister Lingfeng, don't bother with this pig head. Let's go and drink first, alright?"
Yi Ping suddenly asked Lie Qing, "Qing'Er, are we still going to fight tomorrow? Can you show me your extraordinary intricate martial strokes? I really am curious on the strokes that you have used on the Martial Sage…"
Youxue was gasping as she gently tugged Yi Ping's clothing. It was because she had seen the sudden change in Lie Qing and Lingfeng expressions!
Ding Yun quickly tapped Yi Ping with the hilt of her long sword, causing Yi Ping to turn around and ask. "Yun, what's wrong…"
Ding Yun hinted him by whispering, "Say no more…you're going to be seriously injured pretty soon."
Lie Qing and Lingfeng said almost at the same time, "You are really courting your own death."
Lie Qing said coolly, "You don't have to wait until tomorrow. I can show you now."