He had gained a lot during his trip. He had progressed the Flowing Wind Sword, grasping the second offensive move; learned a movement technique in the form of the Wild Goose Art; reached the fifth stage of the Martial Path; and achieved complete mastery of the Ferocious Tiger Fist. But, above all else, Lin Yun believed his most important takeaway was the combat experience.
He couldn’t wait to see how far he would go during the mid-year test!
In the outer region of the Mechanism Hall in Azure Sky Sect, Chen Xiao was on stage training his sword against a puppet. His sixth stage aura roared as he executed the Berserk Lightning Sword. The speed and precision of each strike was breath-taking. Each swing left an afterimage; to the untrained eye he appeared to be wielding ten swords at once. The Mechanism hall rang with his thunderous strikes.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Every strike on the sword was accompanied by the sound of crumpling metal. His eyes burned with a terrifying rage as he swung his sword. He had found imagining the puppet was Lin Yun helped him vent the anger that consumed him as of late.
Beneath the stage, outer disciples watched sheepishly. They knew to be quiet as he trained or else they would become the target of his rage.
“That sword slave still hasn’t come back?” Chen Xiao asked while he parried the puppet’s retaliation.
“No, Senior Brother Chen. The mid-year test is only a few days away and he still hasn’t shown. It’s possible that he died somewhere outside the sect.”
“I heard he accepted three spiritual stone missions, one of which was to kill the bandit, Kuang Yan, Senior Brother Chen.”
“Yes, Senior Brother Chen. Kuang Yan is known for his brutality. There have been many reports of him slaughtering disciples from other sects. Lin Yun is most likely not an exception. I doubt you will ever see him again, Senior Brother Chen!”
The outer disciple’s exaggerated deference annoyed Chen Xiao. “No! I must be the one to tear him into pieces!”
With a primal scream, Chen Xiao brandished 80 swords in an instant, obliterating the puppet. The outer disciples’ jaws dropped as they realized they had witnessed him achieve greater mastery in the Berserk Lightning Sword.
“All of you listen up! If I find out any of you have been slacking, you’ll be taking the place of this puppet. Keep all your eyes peeled! Report to me immediately the second you catch wind he’s returned!” Chen Xiao barked as he looked at the outer disciples beneath the stage.
But their synchronized head bobbing was cut short as an outer disciple burst through the doors to the Mechanism Hall. “Senior Brother Chen,” he shouted between breaths, “Lin Yun has returned! Word has it he just arrived in Azure Sky Town!”
As the news sank in, a sinister smile spread across Chen Xiao’s face.
Laughing, he said, “Speak of the devil! The fool made it back just in time!”. With a spring in his step, Chen Xiao hopped off stage and ran for the door.
“This is not good, guys! He’s actually gonna kill the sword slave this time!”
“Yeah… The last time the sword slave ran, Senior Brother Chen set his shack on fire. It’s been two months and Senior Brother Chen has only been getting angrier.”
“I almost feel bad for the kid. Senior Brother Chen won’t show any mercy this time.”
“After an embarrassment like that, would you?”
“This is going to be good! Let’s go!”
Word spread quickly through Mechanism Hall as more and more outer disciples chased after Chen Xiao. Before long, he found himself leading a massive crowd. Lin Yun was in for quite the surprise.
Lin Yun's heart swelled with happiness as he stood at the southern entrance of the Azure Sky Sect. He had managed to complete his missions and make it back with only two days to spare.
During this trip, he experienced the highs of his Flowing Wind Sword reaching greater mastery, and the lows of dealing with the Yun Clan. He danced with death multiple times, even coming face to face with it while being chased by the herd of Golden Brute Bulls. The journey had left its mark, and there was a tint of maturity on his tender face.
“Time to hand in the missions,” Lin Yun said excitedly. His pace quickened as he thought about his reward.
It only took him fifteen minutes to reach the Administration Hall using the Wild Goose Art. But as he walked up the steps, he was greeted by a huge crowd led by none other than Chen Xiao. Lin Yun understood what was happening the moment he saw them.
However, after having been through all the dangers in his trip, this was nothing. After all, how could Chen Xiao be more treacherous than that herd of Golden Brute Bulls?
“What are you doing here? Turning in your missions?” Chen Xiao wore a playful smile as he addressed Lin Yun with a mocking tone. Now that he had confirmed Lin Yun was back, he wasn’t in such a hurry. He had been thinking of ways to humiliate Lin Yun for two months. He wanted to savour this moment.
His fantasies were interrupted when Lin Yun charged him without a word. The sudden assault caught Chen Xiao by surprise and he reflexively jumped back. In a mix of rage and shock, he stammered, “Y-you wanna die, sword slave?!”
But those words were the only response Lin Yun would allow Chen Xiao to give. Chen Xiao’s hand had barely made contact with his sword when Lin Yun’s punch connected with his chest.
Chen Xiao went flying. He skid 50 meters across the ground before a tree stopped him. Leaves and small branches dropped all around him.
Chen Xiao struggled in vain to get on his feet. The impact had caused internal damage. His equilibrium was shot, and blood poured from his mouth. Using the last of his strength, Chen Xiao raised his head and pointed at Lin Yun, unable to utter a single word.
What Chen Xiao didn’t know was that Lin Yun had consumed the two remaining Blood Refining Pellets on his way back to the Azure Sky Sect. Right now, Lin Yun’s blood was like molten lava as it coursed through his veins. Beyond their current effects, the four Blood Refining Pellets had strengthened his physique to terrifying levels. Furthermore, he was executing the Ferocious Tiger Fist in complete mastery! Chen Xiao never stood a chance. His months fantasizing ways to humiliate Lin Yun had been for nothing.
The crowd was dumbfounded. They had been worked up by two months of Chen Xiao boasting and were excited to watch a one-sided fight. In the end, their wish had been granted.
Lin Yun scoffed as he walked towards the Administration Hall, “Trash.”
“Sword slave, w-what… did you say?!” Chen Xiao roared when he heard Lin Yun speak, catching the crowd off guard. His face contorted with pain as he still struggled to his feet.
Seeing his pitiful state, Chen Xiao’s underlings rushed over to help and said, “Senior Brother, he called you trash.”
Chen Xiao coughed up more blood upon hearing that. His pale face was filled with humiliation. The puny sword slave of the Azure Sky Sect had dared to call him trash, but he couldn’t refute the claim. He had been beaten by a single punch. His face flushed red with embarrassment and anger.
“I-I...I...I hate it!”