Su Xiao ignored the odd fact that the black bear paid no attention to Shen Yiren and ran over to her in tears: “Vice-Captain, I am so glad you are safe and sound.”
Get back here!” brayed Ming Feizhen, catching Su Xiao’s arm.
Ming Feizhen’s pull and the blade that grazed Su Xiao’s forehead happened so suddenly that Su Xiao had no chance to be surprised or conjure questions.
“S-Six Harmonies Swordplay…”
Seldom did Liu Shan Men’s constables to use Shen Clan’s foundation style in combat, including the female constables. Perhaps the young girls would when starting out; otherwise, they used Eight Trigrams Swordplay or Profound Swordplay, which were superior. Shen Yiren was the only one who was an avid fan of Six Harmonies Swordplay – supposedly because her father personally passed it on to her – and used it most often. Even Su Xiao stopped practicing Six Harmonies Swordplay after upgrading his existing set of skills and boosting his repertoire with Ming Feizhen’s internal style mental cultivation.
The next swing was a textbook strike aimed at Su Xiao straight out of Six Harmonies Swordplay. However, Shen Yiren changed the course it travelled mid-attack, resulting in it clanging against Ye Luo’s projectile.
“Vice-Captain Shen, it’s us! It’s us! We’re here to rescue you! Don’t you recognise us?” cried Ye Luo.
Shen Yiren turned her focus to Ye Luo and mounted another attack. Ye Luo was forced to retaliate, but she had no confidence against one of the Seventeen Hidden Dragons, especially if it was close-quarters combat. Hence, Ye Luo fired off an arrow from metres away. Alas, it wasn’t an actual solution as they were surrounded. Ye Luo exclaimed, “What is this all about?! Is she Vice-Captain Shen or what? Has she mistaken us for someone?”
“No, I recognise her robe,” Long Zaitian corrected. “It’s one of Miss Shen’s favourite warrior robes. That’s the sword His Majesty gifted her when she turned sixteen, Frosty Light. It’s not a super weapon, but it was meticulously forged and is valuable. I’m absolutely certain. Why are you attacking us? Miss Shen, wake up. That’s Ye Luo. We’re here to rescue you.”
Su Xiao noticed the wound resembling a claw mark on Shen Yiren’s left hand, so he cautioned, “Sister Ye, don’t be too rough. Vice-Captain is injured. The wound might be clouding her judgement!”
Ye Luo had a lot to say to the two idiots, but she was too busy trying to stay alive.
Every single one of Shen Yiren’s strikes packs a punch. Injured? I’m having trouble catching my breath. I’m firing constantly so that my head stays on my shoulders. If Shen Yiren is severely injured, the entire human population must be healthy! They can’t help me with those black bears standing around. I’m going to have to count on myself to subdue Shen Yiren.
Shen Yiren was in the same form as she was during her clash with Abels. Howbeit, Ming Feizhen intently watched the fight between the two maidens with a stoic expression.
Long Zaitian couldn’t stop fidgeting. Therefore, Ming Feizhen’s unperturbed reaction got on his nerves. Eventually, he fired, “Piece of turd, what happened to all your usual tricks? Why aren’t you making a peep now?!”
Only after he ran his mouth did Long Zaitian recall Ming Feizhen was supposed to be a martial arts master. He could understand Ming Feizhen trying to conceal his secrets. In addition, it was justification for not helping his superior. Fuel added to his fire, he shunted Ming Feizhen.
“What did you push him for?!” fumed Su Xiao, stepping in between them and glaring at Long Zaitian.
“If any harm befalls either of them, I’ll body him!”
Ming Feizhen staggered, but he maintained his demeanour. In a deep voice, he declared, “She’s not Boss Shen.”
“What garbage is this now?!”
“Look carefully. She may bear a striking resemblance to Boss Shen, but there are differences. Additionally, she’s only utilised Six Harmonies Swordplay. Don’t you find that weird?”
To be fair on Long Zaitian, it was dark, and anxiety had festered. Nonetheless, Ming Feizhen’s mentions persuaded him to take a closer look. At first glance, they were extremely similar, but it was akin to comparing a portrait to the person in the painting. He thought back on the fight thus far and realised Shen Yiren would’ve already triumphed if she was serious.
Su Xiao: “You have a point. They’re similar in appearance and brandish the same sword, but their personalities are totally different. Her Six Harmonies Swordplay is fast. In saying that, Vice-Captain wears a gentler expression when wielding it in addition to executing the techniques in a more refined manner.”
Ming Feizhen: “Evil Spirits’ River Monster’s speciality is Mourning Soul. At the highest level, she can create puppets, imbuing it with a specific person’s conscious. As long as she has sufficient internal energy, it wouldn’t be tough to create… a Boss Shen puppet.”
Long Zaitian: “I know of the technique. For as long as the user can supply true qi at fixed intervals, the puppet will be at the user’s beck and call. Considering Abels’ ranking, he could create the puppet for his subordinates. I suppose that means we’re looking at a Mourning Soul puppet, then.”
After the battle that left a deep impression, River Monster sought out a maiden with a similar appearance to Shen Yiren. She had Mountain Monster manipulate the maiden’s appearance before turning the maiden into a puppet. New puppets didn’t take orders; the ability to follow commands needed to be honed in combat.
River Monster didn’t have a twisted hobby for creating puppets. She created them as an ace to wipe out the imperial court’s pursuers one day. She didn’t bring them with her on the rescue mission with the intent of catching her enemies off guard just as she didn’t expect to confront the imperial court’s adepts.
Since she wasn’t a swordplay specialist, River Monster wasn’t able to capture Shen Yiren’s swordplay. However, Six Harmonies Swordplay was well-known enough for her to learn the techniques and install them into her puppet. Abels’ internal energy should’ve done the trick against average fighters, but she had a tougher crew.
River Monster’s focus and confidence waned as she was poor at prolonged fights. Ye Luo, therefore, capitalised on one of the puppet’s sluggish moment to leap back. The puppet used her fingers to whistle. The black bears’ suddenly scowled. Ye Luo felt her legs beneath her go.
Long Zaitian: “Run for it! Don’t let them surround you!”
Long Zaitian raced over to Ye Luo, but three bears formed a barricade. Two charged toward him. He jumped in front of one on an angle and uncorked a barrage of four heavy punches on it. He managed to drive it back; it took no damage, though. He could make contact, but fighting them bare handed was hard to inflict significant damage. His brave attempt meant he had nowhere to escape to from there. The other bears took the exchange as a challenge and quickly ran over.
Ye Luo’s legs couldn’t keep up with her desperation. A bear bound forward and swung down. She thought she was a goner, but a blade sundered the bear’s hand.
“Careful, Sister Ye!”
Su Xiao yanked Ancient Cold out from the bear’s hand and hacked away at the bear. Once the bear was bloodied, he raced over to Ye Luo and carried her up.
Ye Luo blushed in Su Xiao’s arms. For the first time, she felt Su Xiao could provide her with a sense of security. He was always a younger brother, even a younger sister to her. She saw him as an extremely effeminate boy, but a boy was still a boy…
Long Zaitian was impressed with Su Xiao’s rescue, less so the rescue and more so Su Xiao’s stunning strike. Sure, Ancient Cold deserved credit because Su Xiao couldn’t have cut through the bear’s thick skin with his might alone, but the execution was marvellous. Long Zaitian wouldn’t dare boast he could’ve pulled it off as terrifically if he was in Su Xiao’s shoes. He was physically stronger than Su Xiao thanks to his internal strength, yet Su Xiao’s slashes ripped through the air as if there was no resistance.
Su Xiao surprised himself, too. The breathing technique Ming Feizhen taught Su Xiao was the ultimate mental cultivation style in that era: All-Inclusive. Thanks to Ming Feizhen’s tweaks to the original style, Su Xiao essentially jumped from a third-rate pugilist to a second-rate pugilist. It was only a matter of time before he was promoted to Jia Rank.