Chapter 19: Three-way Night Battle
Translator: AtlasStudios Editor: AtlasStudios
He turned a hand, drawing a smooth arc across the sky, producing a silver ray that contained snow-like specks and blanketing the black whirlwind that was Zhan Beiye.
Zhan Beiye looked up, his bright eyes appearing, even more, intimidating amid the dazzling sword ray. He resembled the first star that rose from the far west, fiery and luminous.
Zhan Beiye sounded eager to have met an evenly matched opponent. He swept his arm horizontally, summoning the pike back into his palm. With a jerk of his palm its shiny and sharp tip was fixed again, and with another wave of his arm, the pike emitted a dramatic ray that radiated meters outward, colliding with the thousands of snow specks.
The air around shook, almost bursting, as the snow specks flew and splashed onto the surrounding trees – clap, clap, clap – countless tiny holes emerged from the leaves that had been hit. A formless, powerful energy wriggled along the ground like an earthworm, and where it passed the grass exploded from the ground, causing mud to scatter and fly in all directions. It was as if a deep ditch had been plowed up by a giant sword, only stopping countless meters away.
Some time passed, and the snowfall and gale stopped.
Yuan Zhaoxu, enveloped by his snow ray, hadn’t withdrawn. He stood on the edge of a tree branch, smiling. The wind was definitely howling but he, together with the branch beneath his feet, was completely still.
Pike in his hands, Zhan Beiye, stood tall under the tree. The mud raised from his move hadn’t stained him one bit.
Standing meters away, Meng Fuyao was still processing the scene that had just unfolded. All along, she could vaguely feel that she was borrowing Yuan Zhaoxu’s energy to break through the fourth level of Cleaving Nine Heavens and that there was voidness whenever she executed it. She knew that it was because the borrowed force wouldn’t be as substantial as that of her own accumulation, and had been puzzling over it for the longest time. Now that their strong opponent had laid out such a powerful move, an exit had seemingly been illuminated for her. It was so full, brilliant, authoritative and constrained – wasn’t that the true essence of the fourth level, Spherical Revolution?
These thoughts were mentally disorganizing, but in a flash, her mind cleared, and her energy started flowing along her veins. As she was halfway into that state, she could vaguely hear Zhan Beiye’s drawn-out laughter. “Good. Invigorating! Again!”
Meng Fuyao jolted anxiously, wanting to observe and emulate when she felt the wind around her tightening. Everything before her turned into a sheet of black, as though something had just flitted across at an extremely fast speed. She had even gotten a faint, aromatic whiff of pine when it brushed past her shoulders. Also, she felt as if her face had been caressed by something soft, cool and satiny.
‘Did someone just pass me? So fast? Is it a human or a ghost?’
Without much thought, Meng Fuyao reached out to grab it but to no avail. The person had a strange and mysterious figure and arrived before Zhan Beiye’s sight in the blink of an eye. “Go!” Meng Fuyao heard.
The next second, that person greeted Zhan Beiye, who had heard the commotion, with ten attacks.
Meng Fuyao opened her mouth wide, looking at that person who was even more agile than Yao Xun. He was so fast that the entire forest appeared to be his shadow. He transformed into a wisp of smoke that was everywhere yet nowhere. There wasn’t even a need for him to hold a sword – a strangely thin and long one lay horizontally below his elbow, revealing half an inch of black sword tip. It slithered and hissed like a snake while following its owner’s movements. The latter had no need to display big and showy moves. Instead, his motions occurring mostly between his elbow and hips, just like all formidable killers who completed short-range assassination firstly by jabbing the enemy’s acupuncture points and then stabbing or slashing. His movements were similarly natural and sharp.
This method of battle was foreign to Zhan Beiye as well. Unable to adapt to this close body fight, his pike was rendered ineffective. In that same moment, the faint black shadow dove past Zhan Beiye, almost touching him, as a light ray under his elbow flashed.
Blood rays splattered everywhere.
The dark-colored blood scattered all over the dark forest, creating a provokingly intense sight.
Zhan Beiye’s eyes lit up even more, and fire could almost be seen burning within them. He threw his palm forward, the wind produced causing his opponent to stall and then retreat three steps backward. When the latter was retreating Zhan Beiye flung his arm forcefully, sending his pike three feet into the ground with a loud thud. The ground shook as he licked the fresh blood off his arm. Falling into a brief silence he smiled. “There’s actually a hidden dragon in Taiyuan!”
Before his smile fell he let out another roar. This time, no weapon was used as Zhan Beiye’s body became the sword that swept in like a hurricane.
Yuan Zhaoxu jumped down from the tree, gazed left and right before setting his eyes on the fighters. As he was obstructing Meng Fuyao’s view, she repeatedly shifted her head left and right. “Why, why?”
“Didn’t he ask you to leave? Why are you still here?”
“It’s an exciting battle that I can’t miss. Don’t block me, Yuan Zhaoxu. Let me look. It might help improve my skills.”
Instead of retorting, he simply extended a hand out, as if to touch her, and she immediately turned to face him.
It was then that Yuan Zhaoxu continued, “Stay any longer, and you’ll find yourself in more trouble. It’s not a definite victory for An Mei. He doesn’t understand Zhan Beiye. Zhan Beiye will only become tougher. Whoever causes him blood will inevitably fall into a death battle. A rough night is ahead of An Mei.”
“How would you know…” Meng Fuyao grumbled, but before she could finish her sentence, she opened her eyes wide in realization. “An Mei? That’s An Mei? The world’s most bloodthirsty killer? He’s here?”
Yuan Zhaoxu turned his head slightly toward the two fighters, and at that moment, his eyes seemed to contain something a little strange. Some time later he added, “What should’ve arrived has long arrived…”
Since shrugging Zhan Beiye off that night, peace returned to the following few days. Yao Xun did deliver his word and followed honestly by their side. Meng Fuyao believed that his obedience was due to the fact that Yuan Zhaoxu had reliable skills and would be able to shelter him for a bit.
They arrived at the outskirts of Taiyuan that day and found an inn to rest for the night. The moment Meng Fuyao settled in, she urgently started practicing her skills. For the past few days, she had been diligently consolidating her abilities. She was convinced that she was about to consummate the fourth level of Cleaving Nine Heavens.
The sand in the hourglass rained down silently. Meng Fuyao opened her eyes three hours later and was graced by a flash of extraordinary splendor.
She retrieved the sword on her table and channeled some energy into it. A jade-colored light enveloped the sword. It was the light ray of the fourth level and compared to that a few days before, the ray that day was softer and brighter, and carried a purer luster.
“Completed!” Meng Fuyao jumped off her bed gleefully. “Who should I offer a celebratory kiss to?”
Upon spouting that out, she slapped herself. “Control yourself, woman!”
She laid back down onto her bed and made herself comfortable, feeling the three treasures in her clothes and stroking them.
It was the medal that she had gained possession of after much effort.
A secret legend had been circulating within the Five Region Continent, that there were seven kinds of passes and the person with all of them could travel through all countries connecting the five regions. Heading northward would lead one to Evergreen Shrine, the most mysterious and inaccessible place in Qiongcang imperial court, Di Region, where a sage with magical abilities could solve all doubts and sufferings resided above.
Meng Fuyao had no need for such assistance, but there was something she simply couldn’t understand and could use some guidance.
To reach that destination wasn’t an easy feat. There used to be only five nations, each occupying a region. A territorial war began, and countries fought for close to 30 years to gain land. As a result, the five nations had split into seven nations, and the five regions had been broken into smaller pieces. Each nation guarded their own territories, and while they maintained a peaceful coexistence, it was only a surface act. They were, in fact, eyeing one another covetously, and the majority of national troops had been dispatched to prevent other nations from crossing into their borders. It was said that if a feather belonging to Tiansha fell into its neighboring nation, also Xuanyuan’s territory, it would be instantly crushed into powder.
The good thing was that there were admirable and formidable people who made things much more convenient. 30 years ago, apart from Qiongcang, the other six nations had an alliance with Wuji Nation of Heng Region. They signed their own symbolic medals and handed them over to the ten strongest contenders of all five regions at that time. The “Six-Nation Medals” ensured a smooth entrance into any location of the involved nations, aside from Qiongcang and the respective imperial palace of each nation.
Actually, it was all for civility. With their abilities, the ten formidable players could easily go wherever they pleased even without a medal.
In fact, having the medal meant that it would no longer be appropriate for them to visit the inner palaces to watch the eunuchs doing laundry for the concubines.
Of course, with her current skills, Meng Fuyao needn’t think about the medal.
If one route did not connect, there would be an alternative one. Because each region had their own manufacturing sector, the merchants and military forces of each nation possessed an interdependent relationship. Over the past few years, respective nations gradually realized the importance of business trading in a growing economy. Five years ago, under the facilitation of the most excellent and reputable prince of Wuji Nation, all seven nations started to release medals, granting reasonable entry into their territories. This move had allowed for business dealings and the strengthening of political ties.
The medals were effective even in time of war, so large merchants in possession of them would be ushered out politely before the nations involved continued their fights.
As a measure of prevention, however, the release of medals was strictly controlled, and they were only distributed to the biggest of monopolies and merchants, and the highest of officials. Also, they required a guarantee issued by the imperial court in order to ensure the safety of their travel.
WIthout these things, stepping into another nation would mean a lot of trouble, and it was as good as trespassing. Because there wasn’t anything like repatriation during that time period, trespassers would immediately be beheaded.
The state of affairs between each nation was highly complicated, and there were many checkpoints to clear. The route to Evergreen Shrine was long and arduous, and there was no way Meng Fuyao could kill her way there. She needed as much protection and shelter as possible, in order to proceed further.
As soon as she realized this, she started plotting to collect all medals.
Two months ago, a big merchant from Xuanji imperial court expanded into the wood business. He had tens of trucks of material with him, booked the whole inn and engaged the most renowned and formidable Wu Lin Sect disciples to protect him. That night, the corridors of the inn were occupied by rows of burly guards and the lamplights in the room did not go out. Nevertheless, by morning time, the merchant had been robbed clean, and his medal had gone missing as well.
A month after that incident, an important minister cum ambassador of Xuanji imperial court, Sima Rui, was sent on a diplomatic mission and traveled by sea. He had a beautiful, massive ship with multiple decks, where beautiful women danced along to traditional music. Throughout his flamboyant journey across Yuan river, he received endless envious glances from passing vessels.