Finally. Everything Commences. (Part 4)
In spite of Lie Shang demonstrating overwhelming movement and internal strength that convinced everyone he could demolish Su Xiao, the latter inhaled deeply and then braced himself, confident in what Ming Feizhen previously told him.
Sporting a serious countenance, Ming Feizhen woke at dusk while writing down the names Lie Shang, Yi Wangyou and Elder Shou on a blank sheet of paper. He then said, “Lie Shang is on par with the four patriarchs. To put it into perspective, he, at the very least, would be in the top six among the Seventeen Hidden Dragons.”
“Can I win?”
“Win? Tang Ye already proved a point. There’s no way you could grow enough to defeat someone of their calibre in a short time frame at your tender age – and that’s if we’re talking Tang-Ye calibre. Telling you to save your own life in a real fight against someone in Lie Shang’s league is asking for too much. Your goal is to only get through three exchanges.”
“Defend three moves?”
“He’d butcher you in one; he’s thousands of leagues ahead of you. Thanks to his solid foundation, he made a name for himself at a very young age. Nothing you do now will make up for the gap in power between you. The more important question is, do you have to take his strike head on?”
Ming Feizhen swung a knife hand at Su Xiao’s neck, and the latter failed to step off its line despite his best effort.
“There are many ways to strike with a broadsword. To begin with, your style works better when you get to initiate the attack. Switch to defence against Lie Shang, and I’ll have to fetch your head after the first stroke. There’s a chance you’ll be able to complete three attacks, on the other hand. You don’t have to accept this task, and it’s not the most important fight, but you will be staking your life on the line. You brave enough to accept the challenge?”
“… You bet!”
If there were any differences between this time and the last time Su Xiao went bear hunting in the woods, it would be that he was stronger and faster this time. Like his bright personality, his style, though lethal, brought hope to his allies. Alas, having read Su Xiao’s thought, Lie Shang twisted his torso a tad to let the swing harmlessly go by and then stepped to take Su Xiao’s back.
“Not bad for someone of your young age. You’ll be a star in another ten years,” started Lie Shang, “if you live that long, that is.”
Although Su Xiao pulled guard as soon as he missed, he barely made it back to cover himself with his broadsword when Lie Shang countered, albeit still being rocked back several steps and tasting his own blood. Nonetheless, Su Xiao’s attack and defence evoked surprise for many.
“That’s one.” Su Xiao already lost his mobility and was too groggy to even see Lie Shang properly as the latter advanced.
“I’m going to teach you a technique. This is the one and only technique I’ll teach you ever, so practice it with your heart and soul. This is the only broadsword technique I know. Once you master it, you might end up dead in one stroke, or you might end up cutting somebody you never imagined you’d catch. Which outcome you unlock will be on you. So, last time: are you scared to die?” Su Xiao recalled Ming Feizhen asking.
Su Xiao heaved a breath to depress his shoulders and expel his tension as he adopted a slanted stance unlike his signature style, Ancient Cold’s tip on the ground as though he was holding a broom. Lie Shang had never seen anything like it, much less read Su Xiao’s intent. The mental cultivation of the style Su Xiao adopted could only make sense to someone who had foregone their yearning for life and fear of death. It had been a long time since the style was seen in the pugilist world.
Su Xiao whipped a wave of qi off the ground, catching Lie Shang by surprise via the unthinkable angle. Lie Shang’s best bet at that point was to try and guard against the slash from above. Alas, he only managed to block half of the attack before Su Xiao whipped back down, forcing Lie Shang to drop to the ground and roll out of the way, astounding even Su Xiao.
“That’s three. Please stop,” Ming Feizhen announced with a smile. “Hero Lie, it seems you do not have the confidence to win.”
Even though Lie Shang didn’t have a rebuke, Green Prince took it upon himself to complain, “Nothing has been settled. What’s this garbage about three exchanges? Keep going. Win convincingly. Else, I refuse to accept the results.”
The thundering of hooves interrupted Ming Feizhen’s objection as a lone stallion galloped over to Green Prince.
“And this is?” Green Prince asked.
Yu Feiyuan dismounted into the pavilion.
“Hey, hey, what are you doing?!”
Yi Wangjian extended his arm brandishing his sword as the assault unit, while Elder Shou drew two mini tornadoes with his arms to take care of the defence role. Yu Feiyuan, nonetheless, passed straight through their attempt to stop her and seized Zha Pi, who stuttered, “Wh-what are you doing?”
“Small talk is unnecessary with this great one.” Yu Feiyuan somersaulted back to the centre of the arena and sealed all of Zha Pi’s movements via meridian seals, doing as she was taught perfectly. “This great one will fight this round. Who will this great one’s opponent be?” Since nobody could answer, she looked over to Ming Feizhen.
“Uh… I suppose the outcome of this match is clear cut enough? How about we say Hero Lie fought to a draw in his match?” Ming Feizhen propounded.
“Oh, oh, okay, okay, yeah…” Green Prince uttered without anything but his mouth moving.