Phenomenal (Part 1)
Abels had his eyebrows pulled slightly together as he analysed the intelligence on Night Fortress’ master to reach his own conclusion. There was a unified conclusion from those who went to Night Net Mountain and those who relied on meta-analysis intelligence: Night Fortress’ master was an incarnate of confusion.
Calling Night Fortress’ master a confusion incarnate was quite a polite description. Nobody would open their doors for unorthodox sects’ disciples in the presence of the Seven Champion White Princes, yet he did so alone, and the seven turned a blind eye to it. He would slap heavyweights around and dump them in a lake, yet none of the seven would ever knock on his doors.
More recently, Night Fortress’ master supposedly didn’t show up to a duel Jin Wangsun issued him. Jin Wangsun, therefore, assumed control over Night Fortress. In the end, Jin Wangsun’s corpse was never found. They claimed Night Fortress’ master was responsible for taking Jin Wangsun out.
Because Night Fortress’ master got away with all of his deeds, they still called him South’s Five Ember Palace despite him having never done anything major in years.
Abels expected to see a wild and energetic man based on the intelligence he acquired. In a surprising turning of events, Night Fortress’ master turned out to be a refined and, perhaps, ordinary man. Judging from appearances alone, he wasn’t any different to wandering pugilists in Jiangnan had it not been for his aura.
Abels knew what his goal for the day was: he needed to verify the true intent of Huzhou’s plan’s wild card so that he could plot his moves without the unpredictable factor suddenly introduced. Abels had to reluctantly admit that news of Jiangnan’s Face-Slapping King coming to Huzhou threw him off his rhythm.
Abels tried various means to lull out the adept in the shadows. The only feasible clue he had to work off in the end was Young Master Zhong Ming. He was disappointed to learn Young Master Zhong Ming was just a side character.
Abels was hoping to converse with the adept, match wits and combat skills under the dark ocean before asking Night Fortress’ master not to come to Huzhou. If talking didn’t fly, he had no qualms convincing Night Fortress’ master with his fists.
Abels had never been so far off the mark before. He wasn’t the only person to have a difficult time against the enigmatic master of Night Fortress. The enigma would show up whenever he fancied. If he wanted to hide, nobody could find him. He would throw a monkey wrench into someone’s plans in unconventional ways. Therefore, he was the most dangerous threat to Abels’ plans.
“You are Night Fortress’ Master Ming?”
The man tilted his head with a simper and extended a finger.
Abels suddenly felt a sting on his face. He never let his guard down since Night Fortress’ master appeared. He created a barrier of qi almost one hundred centimetres thick around him, yet something as trivial, yet as fast as lightning, managed to penetrate and cut his face.
A finger flick is all it took for him to cut me?
Abels moulded energy and spun to his left three times as fast as he could, moving twelve metres back each spin. Abels looked comical spinning so deftly with his size, yet no one could find it in them to laugh. Nobody saw what Abels tried to avoid. As a matter of fact, they wouldn’t have understood why he moved away if the gigantic tree behind him didn’t snap so loudly.
The audience was unaware Abels didn’t have an easy time avoiding the attack. His speciality didn’t lie in reacting. In fact, he only reacted when his barrier was broken. He still had no clue what technique or weapon was used to penetrate his barrier. The sting, however, told him his potent true qi wouldn’t shield him from damage if the projectile made contact.
Abels churned up qi and exclaimed, “As a respected martial artist, do you not think it is shameful for you to sneak attack me?”
“Weren’t you the one looking for me?” Night Fortress’ master chuckled: “Don’t tell me you were looking for me to have a philosophical conversation. I thought you people from Beijiang like to dive right in. Did I get my facts wrong? Is Beijiang’s Evil Eminence, Abels, a gum-flapping coward?”
Abels smiled back: “I never knew you relished battle. I suppose Jiangnan’s martial world’s peace will soon cease.”
A sickening feeling visited Emperor Yuansheng’s stomach just as Abels’ desired. Night Fortress’ master’s abilities shattered what Emperor Yuansheng imagined. If Master Ming was to turn against the imperial court, it would spell trouble.
Master Ming easily figured out Abels’ intent upon catching a glimpse of Emperor Yuansheng’s reaction. Master Ming laughed it off and asked, “Your sowing-discord strategy was executed carelessly. Here’s a better example for you to learn from: don’t you think it’s wiser for the imperial court to invest resources in capturing a notorious bandit invading our borders, ambushing imperial court military forces, attempting to rob officials’ possessions, starting fights in the Central Plain’s martial world and targeting Jiangnan’s martial world for whatever reason rather than me for enjoying a carefree life?”
“Of course! One saved a life, and the other took a life. Even an imbecile can tell who to arrest!” answered Su Xiao.
“I tried to repay kindness with ingratitude. Who in their right mind would challenge a Divine Realm adept? A child is more sensible than I am,” Emperor Yuansheng inwardly reproached. “Master Ming, you need not say more. I shall never forget today’s debt and promise to repay it. I will not allow him to sow discord between us. Show him the imperial court understands reason.”
Master Ming hiked up the corner of his lips: “So, what will it be?”
“Beautifully played. You have not let me down,” responded Abels, smiling but coldly staring back and slowly bringing his lips down.
As the two Divine Realm adepts faced off, the qi pressure in the atmosphere plummeted.
“He seems angry… Why does it feel as though his wrath is aim at me? When did he and I develop a feud?” wondered Abels.
Master Ming raised an arm and flicked in a fashion that resembled martial arts unlike his initial finger attack. Abels had five, if not six, strategies to counter the finger flicks. All he had to do was boost his arm strength and th-
What? I need to move!
In the time it took for Abels to prepare his counter, the qi flicked his way already hit his true qi armour, forcing him to spin out. To his astonishment, he still couldn’t figure out how the attack worked despite seeing it for the second time.
There must be something to it that I’m not privy to. It can’t be qi. There’s no finger qi technique so powerful out there. He must be using a weapon of some sort, and I doubt it’s another leaf.