Competent Daughter of an Exalted Clan (Part 2)
Voice tepid, Abels questioned, “You must be Shen Yiren, correct?”
Abels nodded: “The rumours say Shen Clan is a clan of officials skilled in martial arts. You certainly are the descendant of a respectable clan, Vice-Captain Shen. Your subterfuge was excellently executed. You managed to single-handedly ruin half a month of our arduous efforts.”
“Arduous efforts?” Shen Yiren scoffed, “Nobody pities a petty thief’s petty plan failing.”
“What did you say, you bitch?!” fumed a girl who came running over. “Had Master not held back, you’d be in pieces already, you wretched bitch!”
Shen Yiren was still in the process of using her qi to heal herself and didn’t want to reveal that. She, therefore, had to force a smile: “You’re talking a big deal… after I defeated you?”
The girl was Abels’ subordinate, River Monster. River Monster was made a fool of when Shen Yiren busted through the wall, which was why the former was vexed. She brayed, “Talking back, are we?!”
River Monster slashed Shen Yiren’s left wrist with a quick strike. Shen Yiren grimaced and softly groaned. Looking at the blood flowing out from her wrist, River Monster scorned Shen Yiren: “Let’s see you talk big when your wrist nerves are finished!”
Song Ou: “H-How could you?!”
Hong Jiu was equally surprised. He thought, “Sheesh, she’s feisty for a pretty girl. Once hand nerves are cut, that’s basically the end of a swordsman life. Shen Yiren would’ve lost her life as a martial artist if she wielded swords with her left hand.”
Shen Yiren bit down on her lip to fight the excruciating pain. Her eyes were red, and her wrist was bleeding profusely, but she maintained a strong front. River Monster was skilled enough to easily cut one’s wrist nerves with a single slash; she couldn’t have done it in such a savage manner unless it was on purpose.
River Monster glanced down to Shen Yiren’s breasts, where the latter’s sweat from her forehead dripped. The rain had soaked Shen Yiren’s clothes, plastering her attire to her body contour. Trails of rain couldn’t squeeze in between her stuff bosom, forcing them to take the detour. Furthermore, her heavy breathing raised and lowered her cleavage. River Monster’s jealousy for Shen Yiren’s bosom and Shen Yiren’s unwavering attitude led to her snapping, “You ugly bitch, let’s see you keep acting tough after I cripple all your limbs and let our brothers ravage you every night!”
River Monster attempted to slash Shen Yiren again, but Abels spoke up: “River Monster, stop.”
River Monster puffed her cheeks and switched to an innocent image: “But, Master, her rudeness des-.”
“I said stop.” The three words that came out of Abels’ mouth were delivered authoritatively.
River Monster felt as though Abels’ command could stop her heartbeat. Begrudgingly, she responded, “… Yes, Master.”
Shen Yiren took deep breaths to recompose herself. Her scent, blood and the rain resembled the smell of a slightly fruity aroma. Crouched down on the ground in an art-worthy pose, she clutched her left wrist with her right hand. He hands shook gently, but she tried to hide it.
Abels admired Shen Yiren’s determination: “Not grunting and making a scene when your wrist nerve is damaged is commendable.”
Abels tone was sincere, but it was unclear why.
Shen Yiren took a while to assert, “You’ll regret not killing me.”
Abels calmly remarked, “I have more regrets than I could possibly keep count of, so I no longer have any taboos.”
Boom! The thunderclap and spark of lightning revealed Abels’ face. He looked approximately forty years old and didn’t have much of a beard. His physique didn’t match the opulent dress-up he wore to disguise himself as the manor master. He folded his arms and inquired, “You recognise me?”
Hong Jiu knew Shen Yiren was writhing in pain, so he spoke up on her behalf: “Evil Spirits’ leader, Evil Spirits’ King of Bandits, Abels. I’ve heard of your rumours for quite some time now.”
Abels shifted his gaze to Hong Jiu. Instead of looking scared, Hong Jiu looked as though his praise was genuine. Abels responded, “Deputy General Hong, you are quite the man yourself. If you know me, I suppose you’re aware of my rule.”
Hong Jiu snickered: “Heh, survive three punches from me and you may leave. Lose and my slave you shall be. Fucking hell, it rhymes, too…”
“Insolence! Come here and let me hack you!” brayed the midget Mountain Monster, bouncing up and down, as he was eager to have a rematch with Hong Jiu.
“I’m glad you’re informed,” stated Abels, ignoring Mountain Monster. Once Mountain Monster stopped making a fuss, Abels asked, “You brave enough to try?”
Abels’ didn’t offer his “rule” to all of his enemies. He only offered it to those who showed potential he deemed worthy of contributing to Evil Spirits. It also wasn’t offered just because someone refused to die. He didn’t let his opponents deliberately throw the match to die and be done with it. It wasn’t difficult for him to make one’s life more miserable than death.
Hong Jiu couldn’t make the call as their loss would result in all three of them being forced into serving Abels as his slave. Therefore, he glanced over to Shen Yiren.
River Monster licked her lips: “You best join us. I’ll make sure our brothers make you scream tonight.”
Mountain Monster curled his lips: “If Master lands a hit, there won’t even be a corpse left. What’s there to gain?”
Shen Yiren appeared to have predicted the offer would be made. She didn’t respond immediately to Hong Jiu. She, instead, tore off a corner of her robe to wrap up her left wrist. She had managed to stop the bleeding with the material and her own qi, but she still looked white as a sheet.
“I told you… I’d make you regret not finishing me,” Shen Yiren said. She picked up her snapped sword and imbued the blade with her qi. The blue qi condensed along the blade and vibrated. Discharged qi dispersed the rain around her. She was more resolute than before her wrist was slit. She expressed, “Since you insist on being generous, I shall take up the offer.”
Abels trained his gaze on the broken sword. With a hint of admiration in his tone, he commented, “Qi Sword Realm, huh?”
Qi Sword Realm was the highest level one could reach when enhancing their blade with their own qi. Unlike lower levels, the qi at Qi Sword Realm was condensed and arguably sharper than a physical blade. Furthermore, it didn’t drain internal energy as drastically as the basic form of just enhancing the blade.
It was understandable to not know Shen Yiren’s skills well, but Song Ou only just found out she had reached an entirely new level.
“According to what I know, you’re only nineteen. You have swordplay to match your spirit, I see,” voiced Abels, in an ambiguous tone. “Since you three are severely wounded, how about we do this tomorrow?”
“Don’t be wishy washy. If it’s a fight you want, you have yourself one right now,” responded Shen Yiren, without hesitancy.
Abels’ suggestion was actually a psychological tactic. Shen Yiren’s fighting spirit would diminish by the time tomorrow came around, so she would lose the same drive to take Abels on even if it was only three punches; a big part of a fight is in one’s head.
Shen Yiren rose and, like an unyielding lioness, roared, “Let’s go!”
Hong Jiu tried to stop her, but all he managed to say was, “Why are you initiating the attack! Are you courting death?! Abels is one of the-…”
Shen Yiren’s after image was left where she was standing a second ago. She rushed forward and was sent reeling back into the wet shrubs, landing as if a proud eagle fell. All that was left echoing was her groan. That was the consequence of initiating when one’s footwork, internal strength and physical strength were all inferior to one’s opponent.
Only after Shen Yiren land Hong Jiu’s sentence end: “… Supreme Ten Saints.”
Song Ou halted in his tracks when he intended to go to Shen Yiren’s aid: “D-Did you just say he was one of the Supreme Ten Saints?”
“Evil Spirits’ King of Bandits, Abels, is one of Beijiang’s two members among the Supreme Ten Saints… He’s reached Divine Realm. There’s practically nobody in the imperial court, besides The Ultimate Three, who can hold a candle to him,” explained Hong Jiu. He regretted not being able to save Shen Yiren. Eyes red, he smiled and cursed, “Fuck me! I could’ve escaped… Oh, shit, now it’s do or die.”
Song Ou was confused: “What do you mean?”
Hong Jiu gave Song Ou a smile: “If I ran away after somebody gave their life to save me, how would I ever face my first senior brother?”
“She got me,” said Abels, checking his hand. “I only managed to muster up thirty percent of my full power thanks to her swift and brash attack. Is she exchanging her life to create an opening for those two to escape?”
Abels shook his head: “Either way, that’s one punch.”
Abels took his attention of Shen Yiren and stared at Hong Jiu: “Deputy General Hong, your palm techniques are quite decent. Let’s see how my palm techniques fair against yours.”
“Palm techniques? You’re insulting the ‘technique’ part of the phrase.”
*The section about fighting spirit is basically what we now refer to as the adrenaline rush. You often notice this in combat sports. While there are hard blows that can inflict immediate pain, some pain you won’t feel until the round or even the entire fight is over, when the adrenaline wears off. When the adrenaline is there, you can still fight vigorously, but when the pain registers, it’s hard to shake out of your mind, and it haunts you for the rest of the fight. Hence, Shen Yiren says she wants to fight there and then.