Chapter 11: That Magical Moment
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Yuan Zhaoxu appeared to be flying right above and parallel to the ground and reached Meng Fuyao within a second. He reached a hand out to push her down but immediately caught her waist the next moment. Still flying close to the ground, he made a sweeping motion with the sleeves on his other hand, directly sending a gust of wind to disperse the “grass wall”. The blades of grass were like mini arrows, whizzing toward the gigantic net. Sounds of collision spread incessantly and almost inaudibly, and in the blink of an eye, the net was shredded by the sharp blades.
The last bit of glowing net landed right behind Yuan Zhaoxu’s boots and was instantly shot into the mud by the rain.
Still clean and smiling, Yuan Zhaoxu raised his shoulders and looked at the woman below him.
“How do you feel seeing me?”
‘How do I feel?’
Meng Fuyao blinked blankly at him.
The man above her had eyes so deep and a smile so mesmerizing that she almost felt tipsy just by gazing at him.
A faint yet exotic aroma diffused across the sky, making it impossible even for the wild storm to dilute it.
The exchange of glances muted them temporarily. Yuan Zhaoxu no longer tried to tease her, and Meng Fuyao, too, no longer attempted to retort. At that moment where a crisis had just been dodged, where the rain was still pattering against their bodies and where Meng Fuyao was completely lost in his scent, she had totally lost the ability to talk.
This seemingly distant man had stayed close by her side since the moment they met and had already saved her life twice in two hours.
Meng Fuyao couldn’t understand his motive for helping her.
All she could do was feel heat surging inside of her body as she continued gazing at him. The cold, cruel night had finally been infected with a tinge of warmth.
All it took was that brief eye contact.
Deep within her heart lay a fine bowstring that had long rusted from years of hardship, and even broken from one particular man’s abandonment. All of a sudden, however, amid their magical exchange and the contrast between the clamoring rain and the silence they shared, that bowstring of hers started joining back together and producing a subtle yet core-shaking trill.
It was as though a thunderbolt that struck all stillness away.
Meng Fuyao shuddered.
In motion, her fingers brushed across the wet ground, and a pointed grass pierced into one of them. A round and big bead of blood trickled from the cut on her fingertip and was instantaneously wiped away by the rainwater and mixed into the dark colored mud.
Meng Fuyao inhaled deeply. The piercing pain seemed to have sobered her up. She subconsciously shrank her body while looking away. Yuan Zhaoxu, who had been observing, lifted his eyes off her before sweeping themselves up into a standing position in one swift motion.
Still in his embrace, Meng Fuyao head bumped against his chest. “Are you offering your body to me? But I don’t wanna catch a cold,” Yuan Zhaoxu broke the silence.
His tone was relaxed and friendly, and since Meng Fuyao was unable to see his expression, she wasn’t actually afraid. Instead, his carefree attitude threw her into a melancholic mood.
‘Bah! What are you doing? You’re almost 40 for goodness sake! Why are you still getting tangled in such affairs?’
She turned her head, hoping to jump out of his embrace when he suddenly held her down. “Don’t move,” he said in a low voice.
Before he could finish, a number of black figures came into view from meters away. They had bows and arrows in their hands. Having spotted them, he immediately flicked his fingers in midair, creating a mournful buzz that preceded the sudden rise of a brilliant lightning bolt from the ground. Following which, a cluster of trees collapsed, revealing a piece of empty land. Behind the empty land were ten over trees with smoking, black leaves, and skinned trunks, which made them look pitifully bare.
The arrangement of trees reminded Meng Fuyao of the five elements, White Wood Formation that the old Taoist priest had mentioned before. As she was about to warn Yuan Zhaoxu, she felt him advancing steadily toward the center of the formation.
Despite carrying someone in his arm, Yuan Zhaoxu moved skillfully, as if he was weightless. In fact, he was so fast that they arrived at the eye of the formation before she could even stop him.
Meng Fuyao’s heart sank. She closed her eyes and mentally calculated her exact position. She strategized to destroy the tree that was three steps to her left before anything else. As the five elements, the White Wood Formation was ever-changing, things could go either way; she had a 50% chance of escaping the hidden, subterranean arrows and smashing wood blocks that the formation potentially contained. No matter what, it was better than letting Yuan Zhaoxu commit suicide.
As she was about to take action, Yuan Zhaoxu made a flying kick, breaking the enormous tree in the eye of the formation and causing it to fly away. A wave of crackling sounds filled the air, and a gentle buzz could be heard along with it. It was as if a hive of bees was flying up from underground, or a pile of leaves was being swept up by a hurricane to form a black, dense mass that rolled toward them.
It was a buried, jet-black dagger that had punctured the sky amid swirls of rain and mud water, and charged at the trees in the middle from all directions. It first smashed onto the eye of a tree at an angle before bouncing onto the chest of another at a different angle, and then another’s back and head, and so on. The attacks were unpredictable and hence undodgeable.
Yuan Zhaoxu paid no heed, however. With his clothes rolling with the wind, he shot through the sky like lightning amid the clouds and dark sky, coming into sight between intervals. Where he passed, wind surged like a sharp blade, and trees snapped with every sweep of his sleeves. Between the blade rays and trees, he maneuvered as carefreely and lightly as a feather, always brushing past each obstacle by a hair’s breadth. It was undeniable that he was facing the wildest, most chaotic and lawless attack, but his movements were so exquisite and precise that they almost seemed rehearsed.
He seemed to have the power of a deity, turning rivers into threads and lightning into needles and weaving a complex pattern above the brocade that was the vast sea and desolate land.
The enormous trees that collapsed one by one in a seemingly disordered manner had different breaking points and forces of impact – one higher and stronger than the one before – which resulted in a domino effect. Yet, not one tree touched the ground and at the end, all the trees stacked to form a mountain range-like pile, accurately blocking off the daggers that were flying in disarray and causing them to fall to the ground.
Meng Fuyao inhaled a cold, deep breath, albeit with much difficulty. She knew the way to break the formation but had never thought that anyone would employ such a challenging method. The endless trees and the different angles in which the daggers moved demanded an unimaginable amount of calculation and an excellent grasp of timing, both of which he had executed to sheer perfection. Only then could the objects have landed the way they did. Meng Fuyao had believed that even with modern computers, these calculations would have required a few seconds, only to be disproved by Yuan Zhaoxu, who had been in the center of the formation and anticipating a ferocious attack.
‘This… is he human?’
After the collapse of trees and daggers, Yuan Zhaoxu waved his sleeves and carried Meng Fuyao up into the sky. He took one light jump in midair, as in treading on a cloud, before landing on the tallest tree. Upon coming into contact with his circulating qi, raindrops bounced right away. The manner in which he glided through the air was practically god-like.
The leaves on the tree made zero movements even as he landed on it. With his usual smile, Yuan Zhaoxu observed the group of archers in ambush. They stood stiffly on the same spot and glared at his god-like silhouette, mouths agape with incredulity. It was unsurprising, however, considering the fact that he did destroy their master’s meticulously fashioned and perfected White Wood Formation in a split second; he had broken the formation with the most bizarre and unbelievable technique. Seeing that the man could remain so calm and maintain such a relaxed posture after all that, they were stricken with fear and reverence, which made them forget to control their bows and arrows.
Yuan Zhaoxu kept a half-smile on his face as he jerked his sleeves once. In that instant, everyone below jumped away instinctively. Although they saw nothing, a stretched laughter filled the air and two shadows flashed by like lightning bolts, drawing a strong, black arc across the rainscreen. Leaves rustled as two rows of trees bent in opposite directions to form a path for them, causing the mud to loosen and fly everywhere. Non-stop snappings of wood could be heard amid it all. Like arrows splitting earth and waves ceasing fire, four other formations – Black Water, Yellow Earth, Raging Inferno, and Lapis – behind the White Wood Formation were instantly demolished.
The major destruction threw the formations into disorder, sending scattered shots toward a number of guards. Anguished cries followed after, causing the group to disperse.
Due to Yuan Zhaoxu’s speed and the force of the wind, Meng Fuyao took a lot of effort to peek out from his embrace. It was a pity that all she could see were dismantled formations. Although she knew the way to break them, she had no chance to step in as the heroine since the man before her was simply too formidable. Bored stiff, she played with the hem of Yuan Zhaoxu’s clothes and sighed.
His chest expanded and contracted ever so rhythmically as he spoke above her head, bumping gently into her cheek. That contact generated yet another warm flow that slowly spread throughout her body, easily inducing a wave of drowsiness within her since she had had a long, tiresome night.
“… this isn’t it… let’s escape in another way…”
‘Alright, let’s do that. Together.’
Meng Fuyao shut her eyes as his soft, low voice lulled her to sleep.
It felt like a long dream. A dream with calm water as the background, in Namtso lake perhaps, with the vast, cloudless sky and silverish-white, snow-peaked mountains reflecting their glorious colors onto the lake surface. Fishes occasionally leaped out of the seemingly still and silvery waves, their iridescent scales standing out under the sun.
Mom was still well. They stood side by side as the wind blew their hair all messy. Mom reached her hand out to tidy the stray strands on Meng Fuyao’s face, fingers brushing against her ears during the process. Her touch was familiar and warm.
At this point, Meng Fuyao realized that this was the only time they had traveled together. Dad had left them when she was young, and Mom had struggled to keep them alive and bring her up in this exceptionally cramped and suffocating world. Fortunately, she was a naturally sanguine person; she had gladly worked overtime for an extra 10 dollars and had unhesitantly sacrificed ten over years of savings to fulfill her daughter’s ambitious dream.