Dugu came in smiling from ear to ear. Tang Ye came in brandishing his great spear.
“Mr. Fangzhang, your acting skills deserve an award. I admit you had me fooled.”
“Haha, didn’t expect it, did you? You may have a plan, but I also know how to use deceit. You have Bone Manipulation Skill. I have a short subordinate.”
Bai Laimu, who was engaging River Monster, was frustrated he was called short, especially after having to suffer in the chest for so long.
River Monster didn’t play any mind games after she was caught. The only reason Bai Laimu was still breathing was because he got the jump on her, and Emperor Yuansheng surprised her. Plus, she was talking as she was fending off Bai Laimu’s attacks. In saying that, he managed to slow her movements down using his sticky style.
“Don’t think you have me cornered!”
River Monster formed claws with her fingers and retaliated, hampering Bai Laimu’s manoeuvres. Once she switched to her main style, she had him on high tension and barely hanging on by a thread within the next three exchanges.
River Monster strived to take Bai Laimu hostage since she was surrounded. Howbeit, she changed her mind after figuring it would take a while to defeat him owing to his tricky style. The longer the contest went on, the slimmer her chances of escape. Furthermore, she wanted to bait the others into attacking her.
As expected, Tang Ye broke the iron bars and jumped in. River Monster anticipated the attack and was ready to counter her attacker straight away. Alarmed, she drew her hand back when she felt the incoming heat from the red spear. Bai Laimu capitalised on her moment of sluggishness, while Tang Ye pressed the attack to catch her in a pincer attack.
River Monster used her mobility to her advantage, somersaulting up and bringing her legs to the back of her head. In that one leap, she escaped the cage. Like an arrow, she propelled herself toward Emperor Yuansheng but suddenly changed her direction and vaulted to the roof then immediately bound across several courtyards, rationalising she was at a disadvantage against the four.
River Monster saw a maiden exit her room, so she called, “Miss Lyu.”
Miss Lyu grouchily asked, “What is it, Miss E? Why are you on the roof?”
“Mr. Fangzhang invited me here. He said he preferred meeting in private at his room. I have to leave via the rooftop as there are guards outside.”
“You’re right. Look into my eyes.”
Lyu Yaoqin froze once she looked into River Monster’s eyes. The eye technique was only effective when the target was emotional. Hence, River Monster used Miss Lu’s affection for Mr. Fangzhang to her advantage. She leapt off the roof and extended her arm toward Lyu Yaoqin. Suddenly, a violent palm strike from below disrupted her force. As a gentle style user, River Monster didn’t stand a chance. The individual who intervened hit straight on, but its crashing-wave style of delivery was impossible for her to dodge. River Monster, therefore, turned and met the blow head on with a palm strike of her own but was driven back eight steps and suffered her first internal injury of the night.
“Orthodox Realm internal energy? Who are you?” questioned River Monster.
Emperor Yuansheng pursed his lips into a smile: “Impressive internal energy, Miss. It’s a pity you choose to use your prowess for evil. I cannot let evil go unpunished.”
Emperor Yuansheng turned to Lu Yaoqin: “Miss Lyu, are you all r-”
Lyu Yaoqin pressed her shaky body up against Emperor Yuansheng’s. It wasn’t proper, but he decided to fulfil his duty as a man and gave her gentle pats: “It’s okay. It’s okay now. I won’t let anyone harm you.”
Once Lyu Yaoqin’s shaking subsided, Emperor Yuansheng asked River Monster, “Any last words?”
“The winner has the last laugh… You can say whatever you please,” responded River Monster, panting. “How did you see through my seduction and acting?”
“Your act was flawless. Even so, your calm demeanour and appearing in the mountains late at night raised alarms. Your best play was revealing hostility and suspicions to us. You forced us to be suspicious, yet unable to verify our suspicions. You used that to your advantage to take action. I admit I forgot what I was saying several times while giving you the tour against your seduction. In fact, you might have succeeded had I not been prepared.”
“Prepared…? You were prepared for us? You expect me to believe that when you just said you couldn’t see through me?”
“You’re right. Unfortunately…”
The Emperor cracked a smile: “Unfortunately, someone informed me I would find my catch in less than six hours at the manor. He said someone was bound to come to Mountain Monster’s rescue. Ox Demon likes to fight. Hence, he’d charge straight in. River Monster has her charm, so a beauty is bound to be part of her tactic, but she will aim to rescue Mountain Monster. Send men away, and they will act, he said. I decided to trust him. I am lucky to have caught Abels’ competent leader of sub-leaders.”
River Monster didn’t expect there to be so much information on them despite their conspicuous thefts since they spent more time hiding. Knowing their personalities so accurately… River Monster wondered if it was Night Fortress’ master Abels was wary of.
“Fret not, Miss. I only have a few questions for you.”
“You think you have me cornered?”
“This one dares not claim so, but it seems you don’t have a choice.”
“Hah, do you know why I am the leader of the quartet?”
“I assume it is attributed to your intellect and Abels’ direct tuition?”
“I wish. Only someone obsessed with martial arts, such as Ox Demon, could learn Master’s profound skills. Mountain Monster is skilled with disguise, sabres and broadswords. She has always been at odds with me, so she would never give up her post to me.”
Getting no response, River Monster cackled: “Based on my appearance and seduction skills, it’s safe to conclude I perfected my skills on beds, correct?”
“Every style requires unshakable determination and concentration to master. Any practitioner’s determination and focus is worthy of respect.”
“You deserve a prize for feigning primness,” River Monster teased with an unfettered simper. “But did you know my true skills aren’t under bed sheets but…”
Emperor Yuansheng took a step forward to try and hear River Monster’s softening voice: “What did you s-”
Emperor Yuansheng stopped in his tracks upon feeling sharp pain at his chest. He looked down to see Lyu Yaoqin scowling and drilling a hairpin into his chest.