Competent Daughter of an Exalted Clan (Part 4)
The gap between Qi Sword and Sword Spirit Realm was, at the very least, twenty years of training. In some cases, it would take an entire lifetime to ascend to Sword Spirit Realm. For that reason, Abels was surprised. Had it been someone else, they might’ve scoffed at the idea. Despite his surprise, Abels knew it was a feat that could be accomplished. To say he had fought a lot of people was an understatement. Among his opponents, he had encountered opponents who pushed themselves to new heights before they died. He, himself, experienced it firsthand in the past. They were the worst type of opponent to fight. Their potential was troublesome but so was Sword Spirit.
Going from Qi Sword Realm to Sword Spirit Realm was reliant on free-spirited training and the swordsman’s will. Jia Yunfeng demonstrated Sword Spirit Realm in his fight against Ming Feizhen. Abels didn’t deem swordsmen who had reached the pinnacle of swordplay his toughest opponents. Instead, the majority of his most challenging battles against swordsmen were against those in Sword Spirit Realm. Why? Because Sword Spirit was the embodiment of change and variation.
A swordsman willing to go down fighting was one dangerous enough to be a threat to Abels. A swordsman trying to fight whilst lacking the confidence they could cut down their opponent was irrational. Shen Yiren kicked fear in the face and forged forward in the face of death, inadvertently pushing her to new heights on the verge of death.
“Reaching new heights before a fight… I salute that,” stated Abels, reconsidering the feasibility of killing the trio in one punch. “Shen Yiren, I respect and admire your courage, but I will respect my rules. If you die, I shall spare the others as promised. If you lose but don’t die, you three must swear fealty to me; no ifs or buts.”
Shen Yiren didn’t seem to hear Abels. The qi on her sword amplified with each step she took. The sub-leaders of Evil Spirits’ noticed the qi by her third step. Again, she decided to initiate the attack: “Fight!”
Shen Yiren amplified the qi on her sword drastically. The most challenging part about combatting Sword Spirit Realm swordsmen was their ability to intensify the qi on their sword at will, complementing their swordplay as if it was part of the parcel. Even Divine Realm adepts faced the same challenge against them.
Abels’s style focused on transferring energy from inside to outside. Part of his might had to be attributed to said style. Abels, impressed with Shen Yiren’s boldness, concentrated energy to his fists and unleashed it. He erased the qi she went through so much to enhance her sword with.
Shen Yiren started the attack to force Abels to give up on killing all three of them. She was serious about taking him down with her. She knew his identity as one of the Supreme Ten Saints; therefore, she was aware she had to be willing to put her life on the line to have a chance of winning. Abels was aware she was ready to throw her life down in exchange for his.
Suddenly, Abels heard horse hooves quickly approaching. Shen Yiren’s “fight” shout was actually a code to summon her battle steed, Battle Cloud. The fight character was a homophone for the character Battle. Battle Cloud, the large and strong steed raced through the rain without letting the rain at full pelt. As a resident of Beijiang, Abels was a skilled equestrian in his own right. He could tell Battle Cloud was no ordinary horse with a single glance.
Sharp-witted, Battle Cloud raced to Hong Jiu and Song Ou. Song Ou was able to quickly get on the same wavelength. He immediately tried to mount Battle Cloud as soon as it was within distance.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” brayed Abels.
Abels punched a shockwave at amazing velocity. Perceptive, Battle Cloud made a swift retreat, getting out of the blast range. If Song Ou and Hong Jiu managed to mount Battle Cloud, Abels knew it would be impossible to catch up to them.
“Die!” Shen Yiren concentrated all of her qi to her blade and swung at Abels while he was distracted.
Owing to Abels turning his attention to Battle Cloud for a moment, Shen Yiren managed to seize the initiative much to his chagrin: “You broke the rules first and tried to escape, so don’t blame me for being ruthless!”
Abels punched the air at Shen Yiren’s blade, catching her before she could despite him striking after. Shen Yiren felt the impact of Abels’ true qi that almost sent her backwards, but she stood her ground. As a consequence, she bled from seven orifices. Her blue qi vanished from her sword, and her eyes rolled back.
“Yiren!” cried Song Ou.
Hong Jiu was ghastly pale and couldn’t bring himself to watch Shen Yiren.
Abels snapped out of his rage and tried to reduce his output. He wanted to keep the three as subordinates for their talent, but he accidentally killed her. It was a pity, but there was nothing he could do. He said, “Out of respect for your loyalty to your colleagues, I shall spare your colleagues.”
Abels turned around and took a few steps then waved to signal for his men to retreat.
“Master, watch out!” River Monster shouted, noticing danger, since she could see behind Abels.
Shen Yiren suddenly raised her sword again and swiped Abels’ neck from an unorthodox angle. Abels never thought for a second someone virtually dead would suddenly have the energy to launch a surprise attack, he saw it happen.
Shen Yiren opened her eyes ever so slightly and lacked any sign of life. Besides her right hand gripping her sword, her entire body was wobbly. It was unbelievable, but there was no mistake Shen Yiren, who was on the verge of death, mounted a lethal flurry of swings and stabs.
“Western Region’s sorcery?! Get back!!”
Abels had never faced a situation of that kind. After evading three of Shen Yiren’s slashes, he sent energy to his hand and delivered a palm strike. She didn’t dodge the attack, much to his delight. He was certain she was history no matter what sort of sorcery she could come up with. To his surprise, their clash resulted in a draw.
When Shen Yiren thrust, a white flame surfaced on her blade. Together, they impaled Abels’ energy ball, slitting his arm. The last thing he expected was a practically dead Shen Yiren inflicting his first wound in the fight. He exclaimed, “Who exactly are you?!”
Shen Yiren was no longer capable of responding. Her swordplay was still the same swordplay. She was also still Shen Yiren. The difference was the way she moulded energy. She appeared as if she was possessed – by a strong spirit for that matter – because she finally had the right to injure Abels.
Instead of continuing the bout, Shen Yiren drifted back and mounted her horse. Battle Cloud ignored Song Ou and Hong Jiu once his master mounted him and sped off after neighing.
Evil Spirits could tell Abels was the only one with a miniscule chance of catching up to Shen Yiren. They asked, “Master, since Shen Yiren broke the rule, shall we kill the other two?”
Abels stared at the deep cut on him in silence. Eventually, he answered, “… We fought to a draw.”
“Restrain the two, and take them hostage. The three hundred soldiers will report to the imperial court, and then the imperial court will come for us. We will lie in ambush. Shen Yiren will be back for her fiancé.”
Abels covered his hand and left.
Nobody knew nor understood the reasons behind Abels decision, but he was aware he fought to a draw with Shen Yiren. Her slash wasn’t aimed at his arm in the first place. She changed the trajectory of her swing from his neck to his arm after a moment of hesitation. The moment she caught him by surprise, one, maybe both of them, would’ve died for sure. However, Shen Yiren switched her intent to escaping. She didn’t lose. Realising that, Abels burned for another fight. He faced up to the sky and laughed: “Hahahaha, the Central Plain is full of interesting people.”
After Abels left the battleground, a lightning bolt flashed, illuminating the lake and the broken blade in the ground, vibrating in the wind. The broken sword Shen Yiren wielded was proof of their draw.