Romance of Dragons and Snakes - Chapter 191
Romance of Dragons and Snakes Chapter 191
Chapter 191: The Two Masters That Were Injured by Unscrupulous Youngsters
“Protect the young miss when you go to Korea this time. Not a single strand of hers is to even be touched. If possible even, don’t let her take part in the exchange. Be on the sidelines and watch carefully.”
Cao Yi’s voice commanded. Even through the phone, the conveyance of his words managed to make it through to Wang Chao.
“She’s my disciple. How she will do things will be up to me. This is my right as her master.” Wang Chao hadn’t expected Cao Yi to say those words to him straight off the bat. “But I will respect her own wishes.”
“This is an order from above!” Cao Yi’s voice immediately grew louder. Then as if he realized that his words were a little too heavy, he eased up the tone, “Haven’t you realized Huo Ling’er’s identity yet? She’s a delicate vase meant to be admired from afar, not up close! Considering how connected her family is with Central, it’ll be on our heads if something happens to her.”
Wang Chao forced a smile. “Fine then, let’s not talk about her for now. How do you feel about this sudden invitation from the Jangbaek school? Has the higher-ups prepared anything?”
“Of course! The preparations have been ready since forever ago.” Cao Yi spoke in confidence. “What reason did you think Liu Qing, Gao Jun, Fang Wei, and Zhang Kei were assigned to your class? That was a part of the plan! Even now, they’re earnestly attending your classes and accepted you as their instructor. They are—by all rights—students of your school now. It’d be natural for them to follow you to that exchange, no one will be the wiser really. In fact, we predicted a long time ago that Choi Jang Baek would try to force an exchange like this.
“Let’s think about it this way. Your dojo in Shandong has the Huo family, Liao Junhai, Dai Jun, the Chenshi Corporation, and even the funding of Lin Yanan’s master. The very existence of this dojo poses a threat to the expansion of Taekwondo in northern China. There’s no way Choi Jang Baek wouldn’t want to deal with you.”
“Ah, so there was such a purpose in having those four attend my class? With how tight the organization plans, I’d doubt even water would be able to get past them. How admirable.”
And so Wang Chao learned the reason why he had been assigned to the infantry school and why four individuals like Liu Qing were assigned to him.
Put simply, Liu Qing and the other three were on par with the Three Tigers of Guangdong. They already had a deep grasp on martial arts even before they met Wang Chao. He doubted he’d be able to teach anything other than the meaning behind forms after two months of instruction. But it seemed there wouldn’t be a need for that now.
The exchange with the Jangbaek school was a different matter, however. Wang Chao would only consider bringing those who were taught by him personally and could also provide a strong form of assistance.
They were in a period of downtime where any external aid could lend a hand if they pleased. It wasn’t like the schools of the past where conflicts would occur if someone was unhappy.
“General Wang. Believe in the organization and believe in the party. Everything is going according to plan. Any problem can be resolved with a snap of the fingers with the organization behind you.
“Ah, I almost forgot to mention something! Liu Qing and the three have a secondary objective to find any spies in the Jangbaek school. Don’t stop them if they take action. I’ll fax all pertinent information we have on the Goju-ryu and the Jangbaek schools and the Shaolin Temple in a moment. Take a look over them with Liu Qing when you’ve the chance. As Sun Tzu says, ‘Know thyself and know thy enemy and you will be victorious in every battle’.”
“Thank you for your efforts.”Wang Chao replied before Cao Yi warned him again, “If Huo Ling’er wants to fight, stop her at all costs. She cannot.”
A heavy sigh escaped from Wang Chao’s lips once the call was over. A student like Huo Ling’er pleased him, but the political quagmire she brought with her was horrendous.
“Hah…I know that I’m not to be put in any danger, master, but I’ll be with you when we’re there. I won’t cause any trouble, so don’t worry!”
Given her hearing, Huo Ling’er was definitely capable of listening in to Wang Chao’s phone call. She turned to Wang Chao, allowing him to see the watery sheen starting to gather beneath her eyes.
It was then that Wang Chao realized just how different Huo Ling’er was in comparison to the golden child of any other wealthy household. Before, Wang Chao met many of Zhao Jun’s ilk who preferred to wine and dine, sing and dance, and play with celebrities all through the night like hedonists. But Huo Ling’er carried with her a temperance that reflected what he felt was truly representative of being a true blue blood of aristocracy like Liao Junhua.
The households of aristocracy must be supported by the elite.
“Ling’er is a capable person. Perhaps she can reach the Breaking stage when I can teach her no more. She should go out and see how big the world is. How vast the ocean is. It’s a valuable experience. The road of the future is something she needs to walk herself. Maybe then she’ll be able to reach the Golden Elixir.”
Suddenly, Liu Qing and the three other soldiers walked into the room in quick succession. They must’ve received their orders already. “Master Wang,” they saluted, “We will do our best to assist in you in the coming exchange. The four of us will be your disciples from today onwards until the Korean mission’s end.”
“This is the mission assigned from the organization. Upon completion, everyone will go their own separate ways.” Wang Chao waved his hand. “Let’s return to Shandong for now.”
In a courtyard near the coast of Laoshan.
The dojo wasn’t too much different than what it was in the past, but its services held a bigger appeal to the public now that several businesses were sponsoring it. Classes and sparring matches were now being held for the public to enjoy, spreading its name throughout Shandong and even to the surrounding Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces. The larger the dojo grew in size, the more influential Laoshan Guoshu became. A branch dojo in Hong Kong was already in the works.
This was only possible due to the staunch support Wang Chao had. A Shandong elite like Liao Junhua held a grip over the province like no one else, Chen Aiyang had the backing of the Chenshi Corporation, Huo Ling’er had the Huo family, and most recently was Lin Yanan’s master, Liu “Dragon’s Iron Elbow” Yi. As former chairman of an international company, Liu Yi was more than willing to allocate some of his personal funds to Wang Chao.
With so many pillars to support Wang Chao, combined with his own reputation, the influence Wang Chao was mind-boggling large.
The very first person to visit him upon his return to Laoshan was Liao Junhua.
Despite being major figure, this princeling often had a reserved air to him. But Wang Chao noted that there was now a firm expression to his face and a confident stature. The silent, but conspiratory nature within him was nowhere to be seen now.
Even the way he carried himself was different. One foot would always be in contact to the ground as if he was stuck to it whenever he took a step. In Wang Chao’s eyes, it felt like Liao Junhua and the floor were star-crossed lovers who hated to be apart. Never would both feet be long parted from the ground.
“You’ve improved.” He spoke. Even at a glance Wang Chao could see that Liao Junhua was now another person capable of Transforming Jin.
“You’ve inspired me. I originally thought it was impossible to improve at my age. But after watching your fight in Hong Kong, I found myself thinking back to our old fights. I found myself wanting to return to my past. With that in mind I found my hands already tearing down the shackles that once stagnated me.”
The way Liao Junhua’s eyebrows rose up in down made it almost difficult for Wang Chao to see if he was happy or sad.
“A prince should take plenty and give little.”
Liao Junhua wasn’t a lazy man, age and status considered. As the inheritor of Zhu Hongzhi’s Xinyi Liuhe discipline and someone known as the “Twin Flower Red Pole” back in America, Liao Junhua fit Wang Chao’s description of being a prince exactly.
“I came today to talk with Ling’er. I’ll be going to Central for the general elections next year. I might not be as close of a friend to you as Chen Aiyang is, but I am nonetheless in awe of your talent and dedication to martial arts.” He spoke sincerely.
It was possible for a person’s personality to change as their martial arts improved.
“Very well. Talk with Ling’er if you’d like.”
Nodding, Wang Chao stepped out of the room, leaving only the elites Liao Junhua and Huo Ling’er in the same room.
“What is it, brother Liao?” Huo Ling’er asked. As the daughter of an influential family and a figure from Central, it was only natural that the two knew one another.
“Ling’er. The both of us are seen as people used to living lives of luxury, but what is family but a cage? Because we couldn’t live like we wanted, I ran off to America and met my master. Imagine the freedom I felt when I was able to do as I want! I could do as I pleased and learn what I want without complaint. You’re at that age I was and you’ve a good master as well. Don’t give up your ambitions. You’ll look back to these days as good memories in the future.”
“Why are you telling me this, brother Liao?”
“Because I see my history in you.” He smiled, “You’ll stand out amongst the rest of your family sooner or later, so I decided it’d be a good time to gift you something.”
“And what’s that?” Huo Ling’er twirled her bangs with a stray finger.
Rather than reply to her, Liao Junhua settled into the Three Integrals stance.
Hostility flared up from him straight away.
Whoosh! The seventeen-year-old female was no like a feral beast ready for combat. Her fighting spirit was stoked and her muscles taut. Every inch of her body was ready to battle within a tenth of a second of Liao Junhua settling into his stance.
“This is a move that my master and Hsieh Lien-hsin spent many years researching. From that, they were able to create this.”
Liao Junhua was already in motion as he spoke to her.
Eyes locked onto Liao Junhua, Huo Ling’er quickly moved to make the appropriate reaction to his strike. In a flash, her hands moved to capture the joints of Liao Junhua’s hands with a serpentine motion as if to capture his wrist.
Her move was a rapid response to Liao Junhua, hence her surprise when Liao Junhua snapped backward as fast as he came.
The leg of Liao Junhua snapped up to kick at her rib with deadly silence. Huo Ling’er’s attack failed to land, but Liao Junhua was determined to see that his move didn’t.
Huo Ling’er twisted her body to make herself into a smaller target. Pressing forward, she aimed a powerful punch at Liao Junhua’s face.
But her hand whiffed past his face when he tilted to the side, allowing him to poke at her rib with his foot.
Huo Ling’er stepped back, her eyes reflecting her disappointment in losing the exchange.
“Don’t be so disappointed, Ling’er. You lost to the combined efforts of several grandmasters of Xinyiquan. Experience is needed for even the mightiest of people to grow.” Liao Junhua smiled as he withdrew his foot. “These two forms I demonstrated are actually moves from two different disciplines. One is to leap forward with the ‘Dog Biting Chicken’ motion master Hsieh teaches. Of the five, he says it differs slightly to when a tiger musters its courage to intimidate its prey. It’s a cruel and wretched action to advance without needing to hide the intention at all. Your head goes down to give the indication of pouncing forward, but the rest of you does not. Your body swings more like a pendulum so the enemy. Then comes ‘Dog Passing Water’, an unpredictable leg technique.”
“The intention to pounce without a form.” Huo Ling’er’ shut together to ruminate on her own words. For a moment, she said nothing, her mind was replaying these two forms closely.
“Dog Biting Chicken and Dog Passing Water…” Her eyes snapped open, “for so movements so beautiful they sound so vulgar in name.”
“Have you read the Zhuangzi?” Liao Junhua laughed, “When asked about where the Way was, Zhuang Zi replied ‘in ordure’. The Way we study in martial arts isn’t some form of abstract secret, it’s something found in everyday life. Keep an open mind and heart and you’ll be able to understand the principle of martial arts. That’s the same reason why my master chose those two names.
“I’ll show you how these moves are done, but don’t tell your master.” Liao Junhua deflated slightly after mention of Wang Chao, “but knowing him, he’s probably an idea about the moves. Your master has what we call having made the ‘Golden Elixir’.”
And so he demonstrated the moves again, this time explaining the finer details to her and leaving once she learned it.
“Master, just now brother Liao….”
Huo Ling’er wanted to tell her master exactly what she’d been told after Liao Junhua left, but Wang Chao held his hand up before she could say anything else.
“Brother Liao is a well-meaning person. The Hseuh and Zhu style of Xinyiquan were made with the sweat and blood of many skilled individuals. He treats you well.”
“Master, do you know what brother Liao was teaching me then?” Huo Ling’er asked in surprise.
“I can hear the wings of a mosquito within ten meters of me if I concentrate. I could hear what you two were saying, but I stopped paying attention as soon as he started to teach you.”
She began to pout, but Wang Chao waved his hands. “Go pack your things, we’ll be leaving for Korea tomorrow.”
Residing 500 meters above sea level, the city of Seoul was geographically located within a ring of mountains while also being divided by the Han River.
Well suited for those wishing to nurture their minds and cultivate their minds, Seoul was in good shape environmentally speaking. Even despite the fast development of its society, there were still places within the city that captivated the Joseon era of Korea.
A stalwart man in a kimono and another in a hanbok could be witnessed taking a walk down the Han River when the sun was shining the last of its rays for today.
They were two of the more outstanding martial artists of Japan and Korea, Miyagi Yoshida and Choi Jang Baek.
Without any men to accompany them, two two looked nothing more but two middle-aged men enjoying a walk rather than being two illustrious masters of martial arts.
For the past few days, the two men would spend the daytime practicing their art and learning from one another while taking a walk during the night. With this way, they were able to fully comprehend the finer details to each other’s discipline.
“Yoshida-nim. In your lifetime, have you ever been subjected to any assassination attempts?” Choi Jang Baek spoke while the two came to a stop near the Han River.
“Five times about. But not once have they succeeded.” Miyagi Yoshida laughed.
“I’ve encountered over a hundred thirty of such attempts.” Choi Jang Baek spoke to the amazement of his companion. “One time in South America, I was attacked by three squads of armed Chinese gangsters. I had to fend off a dozen guns with nothing but my arms and legs.”
“Is that right?” Miyagi Yoshida asked, “I wouldn’t know I’d fare against so many guns. How do you suggest we handle them if such people were to attack us now?”
Choi Jang Baek laughed. “There won’t be such an attempt in Seoul.”
Tap tap, tap tap…..
Several teenagers could be seen breakdancing on the streets not too far away from the the two men. Dressed in trendy clothes and smoking cigarettes, several of the female teenagers could be seen dancing on the sidelines as they watched others dance. With how they transitioned from move to move with rhythmic style and grace, one could equate them almost to being as graceful as Olympic gymnasts performing on a pommel horse.
“Hmm?” Miyagi Yoshida quirked his head. “Those youngsters aren’t half bad! There’s power in their rotation when they dance. Nimble, smooth, and well-balanced, those traits would lend nicely to martial arts if they chose to do so.”
“The youth of my nation.” Choi Jang Baek sighed, “more of our soul is lost when we break away from our culture.” He spoke in Korean to Miyagi Yoshida as they watched the dancers.
“Even now, the fashion of our youths are being copied in China.”
“Hey, old farts! What’re you looking at?”
Upon noticing they were being watched, one of the dancers stood up with a glare. Cursing in Korean as he stalked towards the two, he spat the cigarette into his hand.
The other dancers laughed. Stopping their dancing, they grouped up together to block the path of both martial artists.
The two could only look at each other with a smile. As masters of martial arts and experts on fighting, they were more than confident in their victory, even if they were up against firearms. How could they possibly be beaten by these youths?
Sticking out a single finger, Miyagi Yoshida flicked back the cigarette one of the teenagers threw at him.
But no sooner did he do that did a previously unassuming woman in purple dart forth! Weaving out from the circle of people she had been hiding in, the woman pushed the cigarette into Choi Jang Baek’s eyes.
“No!” Choi Jang Baek realized the err in his judgement the moment he saw the person move. A master like him was capable of making such a judgement even in the face of danger.
But even he wasn’t capable of acting upon such danger when it was so close and so unexpected! This was the worst-case scenario for him!
It was similar to someone joking with you when they said they would kill you. The tone indicated no intent for murder, but their body could already be going through the motions for doing so without you being aware.
Choi Jang Baek snatched at the cigarette with his lightning-quick reflexes.
Air rippled from where his fist clenched the cigarette before he leaped at the approaching woman.
The muscles on the back of Miyagi Yoshida began to swell like a crane unfolding its wings. Realizing what was happening, Miyagi Yoshida moved into a stance reminiscent of the Battōjutsu form in classical Japanese martial arts.
Like a blade itself, his arm slashed through the air with an aura powerful enough to seemingly cut through a waterfall.
The earth itself felt like it was trembling with how powerfully the two masters struck. For one moment, it seemed as if not single person would be able to stop them.
But the young woman turned over into the air like a python coiling around a dragon, flying up into the air by seven meters!
With one on the left and one on the right, both Choi Jang Baek and Miyagi Yoshida tacitly agreed to strike together upwards.
The clothes this young woman wore tore off when she flew up into the air, revealing the rich-purple Tang suit underneath. Now strips of loose fabric, they tightened and coiled together like a whip for the woman to snap at the two.
When wrung together like so, the cloth became as hard as steel while also maintaining its snake-like flexibility. Even the tip of the cloth felt like it could be razor-sharp to pierce through a person. A millisecond away from having his arm pierced, Choi Jang Baek flexed his muscle taut in defense, only to be surprised when the whip circumvented his arm and continued toward his chest!
The cloth slammed against his chest like a sledgehammer and sent him tumbling across the ground.
He didn’t get back up after that.
No longer in motion, the cloth wilted in the air before tearing into multiple pieces. It was evidently unable to handle the strain of the attack just now and was reduced to being useless strips.
Miyagi Yoshida’s pupils were nearly the size of the head of a needle when he saw the defeated form of Choi Jang Baek. Focusing entirely on the woman who did his friend in, the man snapped his leg out with such speed that a mirror image of it could be seen trailing behind it.
Similar to the Ground Tumbling Blade Yong Xialong was known to use, this move is more formally known as Sokuto in Karate.
Letting go of the cloth, the young woman moved backward to evade the Sokuto, her feet drawing a circular pattern on the ground. Her moves seemed extremely similar to how a Baguazhang practitioner would travel on the ground.
No matter how hard Miyagi Yoshida tried to kick at her, he failed to even touch a single piece of hair on this woman’s body. As his equilibrium fell, Miyagi Yoshida decided to widen the distance between them.
But then out of nowhere, both of her palms snapped out with the flexibility of a snake. Seemingly as if there were no bones in them, her arms coiled around the outstretched leg of Miyagi Yoshida.
There is a technique known in Baguazhang as being the highest form of palm techniques. A palm where it could move as nimbly as the tongue of a cow while also being strong enough to catch a sword!
And Miyagi Yoshida certainly felt as though his leg was being wrapped by the tongue of some sort of bizarre monster. He couldn’t escape from the arms no matter how much he struggled. The young woman only needed to shake him violently before sending him through the air onto Choi Jang Baek.
In contrast to the other leg, the one caught by her arms were spasming violently. Having lost all feeling, Miyagi Yoshida knew that he wouldn’t be able to stand on it any time soon.
The young woman was in fact someone very familiar to Wang Chao, Tang Zichen.
“Go inform the media.”
Tang Zichen sighed, allowing for a small stream of mist to escape her mouth. In what had to be a very short moment, two incredible masters of martial arts had been defeated by her. A feat like this had to take a tremendous toll on her body, especially since it was a two-on-one battle instead of one-on-one. It was only due to the element of surprise that she was able to win.
Having said that, Tang Zichen turned around to leave.
“Ninth-dan master of Taekwondo and grandmaster of Karate beaten senseless by a group of teenagers near the Han River. Is Taekwondo and Karate really worth learning for self-defense?”
It was the day after when Wang Chao arrived in Korea, but the headlines of the newspapers being sold caught his attention straight away.
“What? I know Choi Jang Baek’s strength. He’d be able make it out from even a group of specially-trained snipers, how could a group of teenagers of all people beat him? And with Miyagi Yoshida no less? I don’t see any mentions of guns either…the only person I know capable of doing this is…sis Tang. She’s in Korea.”
The face of Tang Zichen appeared immediately in Wang Chao’s mind.
“The public won’t know that, though. As far as they’re concerned, it was a group of teenagers. CHoi Jang Baek and Miyagi Yoshida are finished.”