Book 6 Chapter 41: Bitter struggle, part 2

 Having come out on top symbolically during their first direct clash, Si Ma Nan felt extremely refreshed. He couldn’t help but start laughing.

  Yet the laughter only lasted for a moment before freezing. A massive cluster of blue sparks formed by three lightning palms was flying directly towards him!

  The dozen of meters might take almost twenty steps for a person to traverse, but the lightning palm crossed it in the blink of an eye.

  Si Ma Nan was worthy of being called a profound expert. He wasn’t flustered in the slightest and merely sneered, “Petty tricks!” He sent a lightning palm flying over as well. “Watch how I crush your lightning palm with my own!”

  Two beautiful arcs of lightning collided in midair once again, resulting in another crash. Since Ruan Zhan had shot his attack out rapidly, the explosion was closer to Si Ma Nan this time.

  However, Si Ma Nan’s lightning palm was like a hammer that smashed ferociously upon Ruan Zhan’s. It cracked Ruan Zhan’s lightning palm in two like a walnut, with both sides striking the floor, leaving scars of electricity in the ground. Si Ma Nan’s lightning palm continued forward after a pause, shooting unerringly towards the flowerbed where Ruan Zhan had landed!

  Plants flew all over and only a pile of burnt soil was left of the thicket. Even the surrounding bricks were blasted into pieces! If someone was in there, they’d be dead for sure!

  However, although Si Ma Nan had struck the flowerbed where Ruan Zhan had landed, the flowerbed that exploded was another one ten meters away!

  Si Ma Nan froze for a moment before realizing what had happened. He couldn’t help but grow enraged, burning as if clawed by a cat. “The transference spell!” He growled. “She actually taught you the transference spell!”

  “Got a problem with that?” Ruan Zhan climbed out of the flowerbed. Although he looked extremely bedraggled, his expression contained some pride and ridicule. He purposefully spoke smugly, “It was freshly learned, hopefully it still meets your high standards!”

  Battling a well-prepared Si Ma Nan was too challenging. To achieve his goals and make the fight go according to his plan, he had to take all sorts of risks. On the surface it seemed like both sides were evenly matched. However, Si Ma Nan was merely putting in all his effort while Ruan Zhan had to risk his life each time. Otherwise, the slightest mistake would result in death!

  Under such circumstances, he had to use everything he had to resist everything coming his way!

  There had been no way for him to avoid Si Ma Nan’s ferocious attack in his passive state earlier. He could only hurriedly use the “transference spell” Witch Doctor Ah Bai had taught him last minute. He had seen Guan Zheng and Ah Wu use it before, but had never used it properly himself. He had no other choice, and he didn’t know what the outcome would be. If he succeeded, he would avoid this critical hit. Things would also get easier for him afterwards. If he failed, he would definitely be sent to the king of hell!

  Luckily, he succeeded. Perhaps when one’s life was threatened, they would unleash extreme potential and achieve things they normally could not. Or perhaps he was as Witch Doctor Ah Bai had said, a genius in Daoist arts. Regardless, he had avoided another calamity. Furthermore, he could tell that this was a huge blow to Si Ma Nan.

  “She actually taught you how to handle me!” Si Ma Nan continued to mutter. Seeing Ruan Zhan standing in the flowerbed, looking down upon him, the fire in his chest burned even fiercer. He waved his hand and shot a flaming handprint at Ruan Zhan.

  The flaming handprint was both vicious and swift, much more powerful than what Ruan Zhan could conjure, preventing Ruan Zhan from countering it. He could only use the unfamiliar transference spell and gesture to his left. He barely managed to redirect the damage, but wasn’t able to judge the direction in his haste.

  There was a crack as the flaming handprint was transferred to the roof of the walkway in the middle of the lake. Apart from the stone floor, the rest of the walkway was completely made of wood. When met with this incomparably ferocious flaming handprint, it immediately ignited!

  Crap! The fire was burning too close to the tower! Hopefully Si Ma Nan wouldn’t use this fire to ruin his plan! He had to make his move first!

  Ruan Zhan swiftly made his calculations.

  To Si Ma Nan, the fire didn’t affect anything. At the moment, he felt an indescribable emotion in his heart. Apart from his extreme shock at how fast Ruan Zhan learned the transference spell, he felt even more the venomous fangs of jealousy and resentment biting at the most vulnerable spot in his heart.

  Ah Bai had actually taught Ruan Zhan the transference spell, but she had never taught it to him!

  The transference spell, the water-scrying spell, the future-sight spell…he had really wanted to learn many of the secret arts of witchcraft. However, while Ah Bai knew that all major teachings converged, she always kept the inheritance of witchcraft a secret, unwilling to teach him. He was only able to figure out the water-scrying spell from what Ah Bai inadvertently revealed every now and then!

  Yet Ah Bai actually taught the completely unrelated Ruan Zhan the transference spell? Why? Did she no longer care about her coven’s exclusivity? Why was it Ruan Zhan? What made him feel worse was that it was clearly for the sake of opposing him!

  This whole time, he knew he had let Ah Bai down. He had trapped her in that dried well, isolating her for several decades. He had never gone to see her, but he only did so because he had no choice. If he could choose, there was no way he would treat her like that! Countless times he had seen her gentle, sorrowful eyes in his dreams, and felt that it was the only mistake he had made in his life. Whenever he thought of her, he felt it was fine if the rest of the world cursed him. As long as there was a woman who always loved him, who never betrayed or hurt him!

  Yet now his dream was shattered. She actually helped someone else deal with him! Although he understood there was no way she would fall in love with that youngster Ruan Zhan, he was unable to accept the slightest bit of betrayal. This was because that person was Ah Bai!

  He looked at Ruan Zhan in his fury.

  Ruan Zhan still stood on the flowerbed. Although he was covered in injuries and blood, he stood tall. Behind him, the walkway blazed with fire. Two fingers of his left hand extended, pointing towards Si Ma Nan, while his right hand drew a symbol in the air. He didn’t look like he was losing at all. Instead, he was imposing like a god of war, his dark gaze shooting towards him like an arrow!

  “It’s my turn!” Ruan Zhan said.

  His turn? Si Ma Nan had been distracted for a moment earlier, and didn’t understand what Ruan Zhan meant.

  The corner of Ruan Zhan’s mouth moved slightly. It seemed like a smile, but it made Si Ma Nan get a bad feeling. However, he didn’t know what he had overlooked. Ruan Zhan lightly tossed out the formless symbol he had drawn, targeting somewhere behind Si Ma Nan!

  In an instant, Si Ma Nan’s heart chilled. He understood Ruan Zhan’s intentions.

  For the sake of controlling his origami creatures and insects, he had been casting spells with both his hands. Therefore, he had placed his wooden box on the ground. Ruan Zhan’s target hadn’t been him, but rather his box. Inside were many pieces of origami he had prepared in advance. They were catalysts for his most familiar and also favorite spells. He was going to use those to deal with Ruan Zhan. Even if he failed to kill him, the amount of those origami fiends would leave Ruan Zhan exhausted. His victory would be assured.

  Yet before he infused the paper with magic, especially if he hadn’t baptized them with his blood, they were no different from ordinary pieces of paper. A normal fire could burn them, let alone spellfire from the flaming handprint.

  Only now did he understand that the three consecutive lightning palms losing to one of his own was merely an act. Ruan Zhan’s abilities were truly not his match, yet they weren’t that far off. Ruan Zhan had purposefully allowed his lightning palm to smash onto the ground! He had actually hidden a flaming handprint within his three lightning palms!

  The flaming handprint had remained dormant, seeping into the ground with the lightning palms. It remained there like a ticking bomb, preventing him from noticing anything amiss.

  Only after he struck the flowerbed with his own lightning palm did Ruan Zhan draw a symbol to unleash the flaming handprint while Si Ma Nan’s attention was elsewhere. Before he could react, two slender lines of fire shot from the scars on the ground, striking towards the wooden box filled with “explosives” from either side.

  Si Ma Nan figured out Ruan Zhan’s intentions and reacted swiftly, immediately swinging a palm at the box. He figured that even if the box was smashed, it was better than it getting burned. He could at least preserve some of his treasures that way!

  Yet when he made his move, Ruan Zhan also shot out his hand after already unleashing the flaming handprint. He shot one lightning palm towards the back of Si Ma Nan’s head without hesitation, forcing him to hurriedly turn and protect himself.

  With a bang, two blue orbs collided in midair once again. Ruan Zhan took two steps back, almost falling again. However, a smile appeared on his face.

  Si Ma Nan didn’t need to turn back to know his wooden box had been thoroughly destroyed. Although he had used one hand to sever one line of fire, he had to use his other to receive Ruan Zhan’s attack. Therefore, one line of fire had still struck the box. Although the fire was weakened, it was sufficient to ruin his careful preparations!

  “You’re impressive!” He said through gritted teeth.

  Every time he encountered Ruan Zhan, the latter had grown stronger. This proved he was truly talented. Furthermore, he was also ruthless enough, daring to put his life on the line. Yet most importantly, despite looking cold and indifferent, his mind worked deftly during battle. His schemes were essentially endless.

  Si Ma Nan once again deeply felt how difficult Ruan Zhan was to deal with. Yet since the situation had reached this point, he had no other choice. He had to be even more ruthless, even more powerful. Otherwise, he would lose. Everything he had worked for in his life would come to nothing!

  He hardened his heart and suddenly started laughing.

  “Did you think I could only deal with you using my origami spells?” He laughed coldly. “This daddy has plenty of means. Take this!” As he spoke, he suddenly took out two golden bells. Each one was the size of a fist and it wasn’t clear where he taken them out from. His Chinese-styled outfit didn’t seem like it could hold them.

  Ruan Zhan looked at him cautiously, his body tensed for battle. He understood Si Ma Nan definitely had other means to use against him. Therefore, he didn’t dare become negligent.

  From Si Ma Nan’s techniques, Ruan Zhan was even more certain that they were somehow related. Si Ma Nan understood all his moves, and when he used them they seemed identical. Yet upon careful inspection, there were slight differences to be seen.

  He had been ignorant as a child and stubbornly resisted his father’s teachings. However, his father had forced him to memorize many spells and theory, as well as how to continue his studies in the future. Therefore, he was able to figure out many spells he hadn’t previously learned in the heat of battle.

  Was that why there were some differences between his spells and Si Ma Nan’s? If this was the case, there were two possible conclusions. One was that Si Ma Nan and his father were of the same sect. Because Ruan Zhan hadn’t been formally taught and had relied on his own comprehensions, his techniques were unorthodox. The other possibility was that Si Ma Nan had secretly learned the techniques of his father’s sect, and his spells were the unorthodox ones.

  This wasn’t too farfetched. Si Ma Nan was a fanatic of Daoist arts, and learned a jumble of things. Hadn’t he wanted to learn Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s secret techniques, as well as the Yinyang arts of Japan? He had even exchanged Chinese spells for the Japanese Matsui family’s resurrection technique. Although they had cheated each other, the true technique had ultimately still been figured out by Si Ma Nan, resulting in his current, essentially resurrected state.

  These matters filled Ruan Zhan’s mind with doubt. He suddenly had a strong feeling that he could learn many things about his past and his father’s secrets from Si Ma Nan.


  Two crisp rings snapped Ruan Zhan out of his musings.

  Furthermore, despite the lightness of the ringing, it penetrated his eardrums and shook his soul. Ruan Zhan’s whole body shook, feeling like someone had struck his heart.

  “Doesn’t feel good, right?” Si Ma Nan glanced at him disdainfully, noticing that his face was pale and his slightly hurried breathing.

  “Young man, this is called the Soul Absorbing Bell.” He laughed smugly, shaking the bells every now and then while walking towards Ruan Zhan step by step. “Normally, Daoists use them to deal with spirits. However, they never understood that all things have souls. Once you overlook the outward appearance, no soul can escape!”

  He stopped speaking and increased the frequency of his ringing. He chanted a spell, focusing his attention upon afflicting Ruan Zhan.

  Ruan Zhan had been fully prepared for a ferocious attack, but he hadn’t expected Si Ma Nan to suddenly use this kind of soft blade. Before he could defend against it, he was immediately struck!

  He felt as if a hand had reached into his body. Every time the bell rang, that hand would seize his heart. It didn’t hurt, but it was an indescribable feeling. It was like his heart was about to shatter from the ringing. His blood also started flowing along with the chimes, his entire body growing numb, his limbs no longer his own.

  He knew he had fallen into Si Ma Nan’s designs and his mind was being controlled. He desperately struggled to escape the formless fetters, but he wasn’t able to raise his hands to block his ears, let alone draw any symbols. His legs grew weaker and weaker, and he involuntarily dropped to a knee.

  Although the ringing continued to unhurriedly seep into his heart, Ruan Zhan refused to give up. He gritted his teeth and tried to get up. He braced one hand against the ground while groping around the flowers with his other, continuously trying to resist the pressure coming from his own soul. However, it was to no avail. Not only did he fail to get up, his body ended up bending more and more, until he spat out a mouthful of blood, toppling down from the half-meter high flowerbed!

  Si Ma Nan revealed a smile.

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