Chapter 389: A Duel Between Jiang Yu and Yuwen Jin
The real reason for Yuwen Jin’s personal grudge against Jiang Yu was actually a previous conflict between their fathers, which had happened when the Zhou family was in power. Yuwen Si had had some public disputes with Jiang Chengfeng at court meetings due to the divergence of their politics. Afterward, the latter had found an error in Yuwen Si’s work and made an accusation against him, but at that time the Great Yue had been at war with the Wan Kingdom, and because Yuwen Tong had been at the front defending the border, the former emperor wouldn’t mete out punishment to any member of the Yuwen family unless he really had to, so Yuwen Si had got off. Although Yuwen Si hadn’t been held responsible, there had been open hostility between the two of them ever since, and they had argued with each other at court meetings from time to time. Though there hadn’t been any subsequent serious conflicts, they had been quite ill-disposed towards each other.
Jiang Chengfeng was the very reason why Yuwen Jin disliked Jiang Yu. Their fathers were at odds with each other over politics, so it was a natural thing that the two of them were on bad terms. On top of that, although Yuwen Jin’s elders were all civil officials, he himself was more inclined to become a military officer, so maybe he had an inbuilt dislike for childes like Jiang Yu who had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and grown up in a family of civil officials, which had further deepened the enmity between them. Although the disagreement between them was not serious enough to cause them to come to blows, each of them had done a lot of things to make life difficult for the other.
If they were to wipe the slate clean, they’d mainly have to settle the matter of the feud between their fathers, which, if truth be told, had actually begun to exist in the previous dynasty.
Jiang Chengfeng had been exiled back to Cangzhou, the Jiang family’s native place, to watch over their ancestral mausoleum, so it was impossible for him to work against Yuwen Si again in the imperial court, which meant that this matter had actually been settled some time ago.
Actually, in terms of Jiang Yu’s and Yuwen Jin’s status, it could be said that the shoe was on the other foot, which showed how subtle the arrangements of fate could be.
“My father once made an accusation against yours, and they had some disputes over politics, but that was because they saw things from different standpoints. My father is now watching over our ancestral mausoleum in Cangzhou, my hometown. If your father still has a grudge against him, he may try pressuring the Jiang family again. Although the Jiang family’s current status pales in comparison with yours, we will take up the gauntlet. As for you and me, if you have a grudge against me, I suggest we settle it in a more simple way. I heard that your kung fu is not bad, so maybe we could have a kung fu competition. You may offer some other ways to settle this, but I’m now Childe Ling’s adviser, and my words and deeds would affect his reputation, so I hope we could resolve it in private, without causing any negative influence on anybody else,” Jiang Yu said to Yuwen Jin.
Yuwen Jin was not a fool acting only on impulse, and he naturally understood what Jiang Yu was talking about. His father had warned him that things had changed, that the Jiang family’s stand was different now, and Jiang Yu’s identity was even more different than before, so he shouldn’t dwell on the past. However, anger had been smoldering in Yuwen Jin for such a long time that he would never find peace of mind unless he vented it.
“Okay. Let’s do it your way and have a kung fu competition. If you win, I’ll let go of the past; if you lose, you’ll have to make an apology to me and admit that you were in the wrong in all those things that you did previously. Do you dare accept this?” said Yuwen Jin.
“I accept it,” answered Jiang Yu.
The two of them stood opposite each other, a penetrating look in the eyes of either of them.
Ling Zhang gave a little cough. “Well, in that case, let’s go to the drill ground. It’s more spacious and you’ll be able to make your moves freely. There’s only one rule – nobody aims to kill.”
Yuwen Jin and Jiang Yu both agreed.
Thus, they went to the drill ground which was very broad. Knowing that Ling Zhang and the others needed to use the drill ground, Wang Dashan and the other bodyguards had asked the servants working nearby to leave, so the drill ground was now empty.
Both Jiang Yu and Yuwen Jin took off their overgarments, rolled up their sleeves and tucked the lower hems of their robes into their belts, standing opposite each other.
Ling Zhang looked at the color of the sky to gauge the time and then shifted his gaze to the two of them. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” chorused Yuwen Jin and Jiang Yu.
“I’m going to count to three. One, two, three. Go!” said Ling Zhang.
Yuwen Jin and Jiang Yu made their move at the same time, directly coming at each other.
Yuwen Jin’s elders were all civil officials, but their parenting methods retained some of the attributes of the parenting skills of their ancestors who’d been military officers, which was why all male members of the family had some pretty good kung fu skills. Yuwen Jin, who had every intention of becoming a military officer like his cousin Yuwen Tong and going to the battlefield to kill enemies and perform wartime exploits, had never stopped practicing kung fu for a single day. His horse stance was very steady, his punches accompanied by whooshing sounds. Most of his attacks were ferocious and aggressive.
Jiang Yu’s elders were also all civil officials, but because the Jiang family was large and prestigious, Jiang Shennian’s expectations for his offspring were higher than usual. Apart from academic knowledge, he’d also had them learn kung fu. It could be said that Jiang Yu had had to learn a lot of things since childhood: poems, literary works, etiquette, music, riding skills, archery as well as kung fu. As a lineal descendant of the patriarch of the Jiang family, his elders had particularly high expectations of him. It had been swordcraft that Jiang Yu had learned from the kung fu expert hired by Jiang Shennian, and his swordcraft was pretty good. However, fighting with weapons was too dangerous. In order not to cause Yuwen Jin any fatal wounds, he couldn’t use a sword and had no choice but to use his palms instead. Given the circumstances, he should have been at a disadvantage, but he was quite nimble on his feet, and because of the swordcraft he’d learned, he moved in such a swift way that it was very difficult for his opponent to catch him, which was why Yuwen Jin hadn’t got the upper hand.
One of them was ferocious in attack, and the other was agile in footwork. After a few moments, they actually fought each other to a stalemate.
“Jiang Yu…” Ji Feng and the other spectators were well acquainted with Yuwen Jin, but they didn’t know much about Jiang Yu. Seeing Jiang Yu was so fast and light and frequently tricked Yuwen Jin with feints, they were all astonished. “It surprises me that his footwork is so good. I thought he was just a rich boy who didn’t have enough strength in his hands to tie a chicken fast.”
“Tell me about it. Jiang Yu never displayed his kung fu skills before this day,” said Xie Qing.
Zhao Jiusi exchanged a glance with Zhao Turui. With a thoughtful look on his face, he observed, “Maybe we just never saw it before. Jiang Yu is a lineal descendant of the patriarch of the Jiang family. There’s no doubt Jiang Shennian has invested a lot on him, given how much Jiang Shennian values him.”
“That’s right. We didn’t find out earlier because he was always accompanied by the many cronies of his, and he never had an opportunity to fight anybody personally. Besides, hardly anybody dared mess with him in the past, what with his family background,” agreed Tao Yi.
“Alas, this is tricky. Do you think Jiang Yu would get the better of Yuwen Jin?” said Ji Feng.
Ling Zhang was also watching the two of them fighting. Because of his abilities, Jiang Yu’s and Yuwen Jin’s kung fu skills were nothing in his eyes. Their kung fu was not bad, but he could bring them to the ground with a single finger. However, not everybody had the luck to obtain a manual of top-notch mental cultivation method of internal energy that went perfectly well with their constitution.
Yuwen Jin’s fist techniques were highly offensive, and some of his moves bore some similarity to the fighting skills of soldiers. Jiang Yu’s footwork had Jianghu quality written all over it, so the kung fu instructor the Jiang family had hired to teach him was probably from some Jianghu sect. His footwork incorporated the features of a certain sort of lightness skill, but he had no internal energy, so his footwork was merely nimble, which was also the reason why back at the racecourse on the Back Hill of the Imperial College, Jiang Yu hadn’t been able to utilize his kung fu skills to overpower his horse that had run wild.
Although Yuwen Jin seemed to be attacking more savagely during this fight, if he couldn’t break the stalemate, Jiang Yu would stand a better chance of winning.
Unsurprisingly, as the fight went on, sweat gradually appeared on the tip of Yuwen Jin’s nose, and his temper began to fray. Jiang Yu had been dodging all the time, and he couldn’t hit Jiang Yu, wasting his strength constantly as though he’d been punching cotton. He had been attacking for such a long time but it struck him that he would never be able to hit Jiang Yu.
“Man up and stop dodging! Don’t be such a wimp!” Yuwen Jin was so annoyed that he resorted to personal insults. The others could tell from his tone that he had started to feel anxious and fretful.
Jiang Yu, who was not provoked by his words, replied, “My kung fu is of a different style from that of yours. I’m a swordsman, and the reason why I’m not using a sword is because I don’t want to hurt you, okay? Don’t you think it’d be rather unfair to me if I have to fight you in a diamond-cut-diamond way as you want me to? You’re not seriously expecting me to let you take advantage of me like that, are you, Childe Yuwen?”
Yuwen Jin was almost reduced to vomiting blood with fury. Was Jiang Yu saying that he was going easy on him? Even any of the spectators would find this intolerable, let alone Yuwen Jin.
“You wait till I get hold of you. You can keep dodging all you want. I swear I’ll catch you and flatten you!”
“Humph. Maybe you should catch me first before you say that. Don’t be all talk and no action.”
There was also sweat breaking out on the tip of Jiang Yu’s nose. He felt that it wasn’t a good idea to keep dodging and fight back only occasionally. Yuwen Jin had more brawn than he did. If he hung in there, he would definitely get the best of this fight, so he needed to figure something out.
Watching in the distance, Ling Zhang found this fight quite interesting. He knew Yuwen Jin too well to be surprised by this reaction of Yuwen Jin’s, but recently Jiang Yu had been behaving like a quite poised man with a great sense of propriety, one totally different from the man he used to be, and Ling Zhang had believed that he had changed completely, but unexpectedly, when Yuwen Jin hurt his pride, he also started to speak in an unforgiving tone of voice, which was faintly reminiscent of the person Jiang Yu used to be.
The fight caused a lot of noise which drew many others to the drill ground to spectate. Even Ling Zhaowen and Ling Zhaowu showed up.
“What’s going on? Why are the two boys fighting?” asked Ling Zhaowen.
Ling Zhang explained it to them.
Ling Zhaowen came to understood. “So that is what this is about. Wow, that Yuwen boy’s fist techniques are not bad. His punches seems pretty heavy.”
After watching for a while, Ling Zhaowu commented, “One of them is over-ferocious but lacks flexibility, and the other one is the other way around. Both are rather inexperienced and incapable of landing a decisive blow. More than half of the time was wasted on meaningless dogfighting.”
Ling Zhaowen twisted his head around to look at him and asked, “Which one of them do you think is going to win the fight, Big Brother?”
“Jiang Yu, I think. He’s clearly more astute than that Yuwen boy,” responded Ling Zhaowu.
Ling Zhaowen lifted his eyebrows. Though having little acquaintance with kung fu, he could still tell how the situation on the drill ground was developing. “Jiang Yu is indeed more shrewd than that Yuwen boy. Given that the boy is being led by the nose and wasting his strength, he’s definitely going to lose eventually.”
Ji Feng and the others were startled at these words of the two elders of Ling Zhang’s and looked in the direction of the two people fighting on the drill ground. Xie Qing asked anxiously, “Crap. Is Yuwen Jin really going to lose?”
Nervous, Ji Feng and all the others pressed their lips together, looking at the two people on the drill ground. Every one of them had an urge to offer Yuwen Jin some help but didn’t know how, anxiety building inside them.
“Zhang’er, when this fight is over, you should get down there and go a few rounds with someone too. Your father told me your kung fu’s pretty good. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it,” Ling Zhaowen suddenly said to Ling Zhang.
Ling Zhang was surprised by this suggestion.