He could identify them right away so it was apparent that he knew their secrets. The three members of Orchid Monarch Hollow Bamboo decided that they’d kill him when he was distracted.
At times like this, it was on Bishop Tian to stand at the forefront: “I am Tian Wen of Orchid Monarch Hollow Bamboo. Who might you be, and which sect do you belong to?”
“My last name is Ming, my first name is Feizhen. I’m a constable at Liu Shan Men.”
“Liu Shan Men? Ming Feizhen?”
Tian Wen analysed his name, and then angrily asked: “Ming Feizhen, Ming Feizhen… Are you messing with me?”
Ming Feizhen means “clearly not true or real”, so there was no way Tian Wen couldn’t figure out it was a fake name.
Ming Feizhen replied indifferently: “I stopped going by my old name a long time ago. Everybody around me refers to me as so now. You three sure talk a lot, aren’t you going to attack?”
The three of them couldn’t wrap their heads around what he was trying to achieve. They were secretly afraid. They replied: “It’d be very strange for us to attack you. We owe you no old debts or have grudges between us…”
Ming Feizhen suddenly cut them off: “Thirteen Fast Blades, Seven Willows Wind Reversal Sword, and Fierce Glare Vajra Fists. None of these moves are from the Divine Moon Cult. Did you guys not use your sect’s martial arts even once when you managed to beat Hero Tie into that state? You guys sure are careful.”
Tian Wen faintly replied: “We’re used to it. We’ve been very careful these past five years. We didn’t utilise our sect’s skills even when helping Cha Yuan complete missions. We were afraid people would come knocking.”
The beggar finally caved in and asked: “Hey punk, how do you know our identities?”
Ming Feizhen sighed and said: “Your Dark Moon Faction and Light Moon Faction fought until there was no way of resolving the conflict by negotiations. Do you still not recognise what your mistake was after witnessing your huge sect get buried from internal strife? You can be as cautious as you want, but you still operate using the Divine Moon Cult’s systems. You used Lan Jun bamboo for Cha Yuan’s spirit tablet. Who wouldn’t be able to figure out your identity from that?”
The beggar stuttered: “Y-you know Orchid Monarch bamboo?”
Tian Wen forcefully suppressed his suspicions, calmed himself down and asked: “I’d heard that Liu Shan Men had gone quiet a long time ago. I never expected them to have a talent like you. What is your motivation for joining them?”
“For old friends.”
“To save someone?* So you want to save those two? If that is so, we can look for another place to seclude ourselves to. We can talk this out.”
Liu Shan Men and the emperor’s security detail are both regulated by the royal court and their relationship has never been bad, so Tian Wen’s assumption was normal.
“I meant for old friends.”
“These two are your friends?”
“No, I don’t know those two.”
Tian Wen got even more confused: “Aside from them, there’s only us here. Don’t tell me that we’re your old friends.”
Ming Feizhen laughed.
He smiled amicably again. Tian Wen and co. couldn’t shake off the feeling that a sword was pressed up against their throat. They were in a precarious situation but powerless to resist.
Tian Wen’s forehead was sweating as he asked: “Who exactly are you?”
“Just a retired… person who doesn’t want to bother with the pugilistic world.”
The beggar couldn’t put up with the strange atmosphere and thundered: “Who the fuck cares! Get him!”
After he thundered, he quickly pulled out his sabre, illuminating a silver light. Tian Wen followed fit from behind and created countless sword clones. The strong man gathered up all the internal energy he could muster and raised it to its peak inside his body.
The beggar and Tian Wen’s martial skills were already among the top-class in the world, so they had very few flaws. Their combined sabre light and sword clones ruthlessly went towards Ming Feizhen like tidal waves. There were just two of them and yet just their sword and sabre were a force to be reckoned with. These were their genuine skills from the Divine Moon Cult. The strong man took a deep breath and leapt at Feizhen with everything he had like an old bull.
They didn’t dare to reveal their real skills when fighting Tie Hanyi, and yet now they were worried that their maximum efforts wouldn’t suffice.
The man before them pressured them into putting their lives on the line.
Ming Feizhen didn’t dodge, and instead shut his eyes.
A sabre, sword and fist approached him like an angry wild animal that smelt blood. Ming Feizhen stood in place with his eyes shut and let them attack him.
The more they attacked, the more worried they became. The more they attacked, the emptier their minds felt. Their energy slowly got sapped away, but they hadn’t yet seen a drop of blood from him.
The blades made contact with his body, yet seemed to be hitting a strong wall of air that was keeping them away.
Tian Wen sadly said: “Strong Body Protection Qi…” His statement carried discouragement, guilt, sadness and many more emotions, but he was the only one who could speak. The beggar and the strong man went pale in the face. Their hands and feet were turning cold as ice.
“Strong Body Protection Qi!”
Converting your inner qi energy into an external energy to protect your entire body is like a martial art of the gods. According to legend, no one other than the top ten ranked masters in the Black and White Reflection are capable of mastering that skill.
How were they going to match him when he’d mastered the skill at such a young age?
Tian Wen suddenly yelled: “No Man No Me.”
They got into formation for their sword formation with a hint of indescribable ruthlessness. The beggar and the strong man were in a daze at first, but then executed the same technique right after. The beggar used his sabre, while the strong man used his finger, and yet the power behind their sword technique wasn’t bad.
The force of their attacks had multiplied.
Ming Feizhen widened his eyes: “Oh?”
That sword formation is the Divine Moon Cult’s formation taught to newcomers. Given their identities, the three of them shouldn’t be using it during a battle to the death.
But it’s weird. There was once a disciple who defeated an elder in the sect using that style. It wasn’t because he was particularly skilled or the elder was weak. It was because when combined with the specific mental cultivation script, and executed without regards for consequences can become multiple times stronger.
It’s a style that inflicts damage to both the opponent and the user. The power is increased multiple folds, but the damage inflicted upon oneself is also multiplied. It’s like dealing eight-hundred damage to your opponent and suffering one-thousand damage yourself.
When that disciple defeated the elder by increasing the output ten-fold, he won the bout but lost his life after.
The three of them were highly skilled fighters in the Divine Moon Cult, and they were now increasing the output together to its absolute peak.
The power from their attack was like the Yangtze River coming in. The force of the attack left a crack mark on the marble floor and the sound would send anybody into shock. In that moment, the three of them reached a level they could only dream of. It was only for a short time, and it was at a very high cost, but in that moment, the three of them had individually reached the level of a peerless master. Whoever it was that stood before them, be it a god or a demon were no match for their combined effort.
Their sword strikes and energy were like a fierce tiger, charging at Ming Feizhen.
Ming Feizhen retreated and hid in the corridor of the courtyard.
The force of their attack broke through all the bricks of the corridor and they forced their way to the front of Ming Feizhen.
“That’s a very powerful internal energy there. I reckon it matches the level of the top ten masters.”
Ming Feizhen finally displayed some emotion. He wore a look of joy.
Ming Feizhen didn’t retreat or gulp his saliva out of fear. Instead he fought back head-on with his own palm strike.
Ming Feizhen was surprised when he got forced a step back. He looked at the three of them surprised and said: “That’s pretty damn strong.”
As they collided, they reached a stalemate. After a few breaths, a breaking sound was heard. The clash was like waves crashing against rock faces. Even Tie Hanyi and Ye Luo who were far away were affected. They groaned, demonstrating their discomfort. The clash decided who was more skilled.
The three from Orchid Monarch Hollow Bamboo’s breathing started becoming erratic. They went to extreme lengths, but remained in the safe zone. They only bolstered the force by six or seven times. But they were only even after raising their output by six times?
The beggar shouted: “Fuck this! Let’s gamble our lives! Let’s fuck him up!” He gave up all of his energy he accumulated in ten years for the mental cultivation of the formation. The other two also came to the realisation that they’d die even more terrible deaths if their identities were to be exposed, and hence decided to gamble their lives as well.
They copied him and raised their output to ten times.
The courtyard transformed into a war-zone of violent beasts.
*Old friends and save people/someone share the same pronunciation, and given the context, they misunderstood Feizhen.