Cowherd and Weaver – An Atypical Romance (Part 1)
“Smooth and supple skin just like your silk in the Central Plain. I really want to scar it. What do you say?”
“It’s fake death condition.”
Poison King’s voice stopped River Monster from taking rash action. Well, running the flat part of a blade along Shen Yiren’s face wasn’t “rash action” by River Monster’s standards.
On the way to her destination, River Monster used her internal style to confirm Shen Yiren had healed, including her sealed meridians loosening up. Besides having her eyes shut and not giving any reaction no matter what sort of abuse she imposed, Shen Yiren was as good as new. For that reason, River Monster suspected Shen Yiren was playing possum, thereby justifying her act of threatening Shen Yiren’s face with a scissor.
“What’s fake death condition?”
Sitting out the front of the room, Poison King explained in his husky voice, “Physically dead. Mentally alive. It’s a condition where the patient’s mind and body are segregated.”
River Monster pulled her scissor away from Shen Yiren’s face, trusting Poison King, not because he didn’t tell lies but because she looked down him. From his lenses, they were but fools. Not even Beijiang’s state preceptor would answer Abels as bluntly as Poison King did and charge five hundred taels on top of that. Ask him to tell a lie, and he’d charge several thousand silver taels. Poison King could competitively vie for a place as the king of misers.
Since Poison King was going to charge Abels for the consult, River Monster continued asking, “Can you elaborate?”
“Sitting, walking, lying, mobilising limbs are subservient to the brain’s control. Some pugilists are able to hone their skills to react before the mind does. Even so, the brain must register a desire in order for their body to move. That is what is meant by the mind controlling the body; it’s a natural phenomenon. Fake death is where the link between mind and body are severed, resulting in the patient lacking the capacity to impose their will on their body.”
“So she’s not playing possum but actually unable to wake up?”
Poison King shook his bottle for a while prior to responding, “We can’t force her to wake up even if we tried. Experts of Heart Realm internal styles might figure it out at first glance. Although this old one has touched on the topic, he is not erudite on it. Fake death is an advanced topic beyond this old one.”
Owing to how different Heart Realm was compared to the seven other internal energy systems, some argued that it shouldn’t be qualified as part of martial arts. Interestingly, the best of the best who inherited Heart Realm assented. Having said that, those who didn’t experience it in the flesh classified it voodoo garbage, while the cream of the crop categorised it as a profound scholastic topic.
In this era, most martial arts focused on physical attributes and measured aptitude based on rate of progress. Internal styles used refining internal energy – the act of improving control over one’s internal energy and increasing its potency – and improving circulation between meridians as criterion for determining where one sat along the progress chart. Heart Realm inheritors focused on developing their minds. Therefore, it should be no surprise that there weren’t many “combat” adepts among them. That is not to say that they couldn’t kill people from afar without lifting a finger, a feat exclusive to them.
Heart Realm users also sealed and released meridians differently to what was considered conventional for the former sealed them through mental tactics. Give them to some of the most advanced martial artists out there, and they wouldn’t have any means of releasing a seal placed mentally. That held true even if the caster was a kid still wet behind the ears or there was an enormous gap between the adept and caster, with the latter being inferior. Even if someone had the internal strength to punch holes through several walls in one punch, they wouldn’t be able to pry open the seal, either. Shen Yiren’s condition was pretty much identical.
River Monster and Poison King had no clue Shen Yiren was listening in to their conversation.
That must be River Monster, the one who severed my wrist nerve… He must be Nanjiang’s Poison King. Why would someone from the North and someone from the South be working togeth-, ow!
Pinching Shen Yiren’s face as she giggled, River Monster grouched, “Look at your skin. No wonder why men like you.” River Monster wasn’t satisfied even though Shen Yiren’s condition pleased her, so she opened her scissors and poked Shen Yiren’s skin. “Look at your promiscuous body. Master has locked up your fiancée, and a group of people immediately came running for you. You even seduced Luo Sword Manor’s young master while asleep, you born vixen. Night Fortress’ master severed an arm of mine to avenge you! I’ll make you pay for my loss!”
River Monster’s eyes dilated as she pressed down, only for the elder to stop her without her even noticing him move: “Poison King, what are you doing?!”
“You can’t kill her… or hurt her.”
River Monster was always under the assumption that Poison King’s only weapon was poison. In reality, martial arts were another weapon in his arsenal. Abels and Ming Feizhen were the only people who had ever caught her hand before she could realise it. Shen Yiren’s enhanced hearing also didn’t catch up in time, only having a guess after River Monster reacted, though she couldn’t comprehend why he stepped in.
With her sense of superiority crushed, River Monster stopped, grouching, “I can’t even hurt her? Why? Did Master say so? What a jerk! He can’t even walk now that he’s seen this vixen!”
“The weapon… The divine weapon in the making requires something from her.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“During the forging… The blood of five swordsmen who’ve reached Sword Spirit Realm is required.”
Using blood in blacksmithing had a long history. Howbeit, that was the first time Shen Yiren and Mountain Monster heard of a weapon specifying the blood of adepts. Shen Yiren was also startled to learn Evil Spirits was involved with the bizarre event Luo Siming mentioned to her. She couldn’t discern who was in what role.
Poison King took the scissors off River Monster and, in his monotone, sluggish voice, carried on, “Far and few in between, including patriarchs, have reached Sword Spirit Realm, let alone swordsmen. There are only four swordsmen among all of the people invited to the convention who have reached Sword Spirit Realm. We are in luck to have her as the fifth.”
“How does me ruining her appearance have anything to do with that?”
“She’s been fortunate enough to have had decent conditions to recover in. If you go and ruin her face, you might trigger an adverse reaction in her essence and blood, disqualifying her blood. If you hurt her, you better be ready to replace her as the fifth.”
Since not even Abels disrespected Poison King, Mountain Monster didn’t impugn.
“What sort of weapon is Luo Sword Manor forging? I’ve seen plenty of quality weapons, yet I’ve never heard of anything so exaggerated, requiring blood from swordsmen of specific realms, sword cores and sword bodies and whatever.”
Poison King snorted: “If you could imagine it, it’s not a divine weapon. Sword cores and sword bodies are necessary components to begin with. Luo Sword Manor’s ultimate weapon consists of a yin weapon and a yang weapon, each complementing the other. People presume that the two are two divine weapons, believing it would be better to wield them separately. In reality, the two are a pair; their true potential can only be exhibited when they are wielded together. Luo Sword Manor isn’t looking to forge an ordinary weapon but one worthy of being deemed as a peerless weapon.”
Shen Yiren deliberated, “Why is such a knowledgeable man cooperating with Evil Spirits? How does he know even more than Luo Siming? There must be more to this than what the public knows.”
“Done,” announced Poison King.
“What did you make?”
“Soul stealing pill.” Poison King opened his hand, revealing a blue pill. “Implement it with your Soul Stealing Sinister Style, and it can heighten your puppets’ power. If they disobey, use your Reverse Flow Evil Style to have them die from an inexplicable death. She’s a determined woman, so there’s no guarantee she will be obedient even if you turn her into your puppet, but she won’t be able to defy you if you combine it with this pill.”
River Monster took the pill and shoved it into Shen Yiren’s mouth as fast as a compulsive gambler collecting his prize money: “Serve me for the rest of your l-”
A wave of energy seemingly permeating in the atmosphere out of nowhere cut River Monster’s gloating session short. Poison King and River Monster felt as though the energy froze them in stone and scared light off. The door’s opening sound resembled a dying animal crying out its pain and sorrow with its last breath…