When did he…?! How did he take it without touching me? He must have something that is sharp and can move fast to have snatched it from my soft golden belt.
“I took it when you felt you stung me with your fingers and retracted your arm, using my Night Net Celestial Silk.” Ming Feizhen extended five fingers as though he read Mr. An’s mind, revealing the faintly visible threads.
The name of the concept came from the belief that a Divine Realm martial artist could refine a sense until they could read their target’s mind. The caveat was that there was a cap to who they could read. In this case, Mr. An should’ve been immune given how advanced he was.
Mr. An was trusted with the pivotal operation because he was calm and controlled all the variables. Therefore, losing Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer and letting Ming Feizhen read him were blunders that he shouldn’t have made.
Mr. An didn’t panic for he knew he lost the sword without realising due to his focus on throwing hands with Ming Feizhen instead of himself – not that he had an alternative. He knew better than anyone the consequence of a lapse in concentration against Ming Feizhen.
“Mingming, you’re a meanie, stealing my sword and making fun of me.”
Mr. An squirmed with his body, only to receive an indifferent, “What nonsense is that? Didn’t I get hurt? I was bleeding.”
Ming Feizhen had stopped bleeding and bandaged himself to look as good as new. Mr. An, who never removed his interrogative eyes once, started to lose his playful tone.
“I’ll be in trouble if I don’t take the sword.”
“That’s your problem, isn’t it? You only have two choices. Walk away with your head down in shame or walk away with your head down in shame after you have a taste. Of course, what I mean you’ll be tasting is…” Ming Feizhen stared straight at the black mask, sure he was locking eyes with his foe. “You going to show your true skills?”
“Huh? Haha, true skills? No, no, no, I can’t. I can’t. It’s been ages since I’ve fought. You get rusty once you quit. Allow me to revise…” A mild – and surprisingly pure breeze – stirred. “Master Ming, you are so young, yet so skilled. One cannot help but respect you. Do you believe martial arts prodigies exist?”
“I thought you’re a scoundrel only interested in his gains. Where did the desire to discuss martial arts come from?”
“Had I not met you, there would be no final answer to the question. Only when someone meets you will it dawn on them what a martial arts’ prodigy is. There’s another type of prodigy that’s completely different to you, though.”
“I know.” The upward curve at Ming Feizhen’s lips spoke of an obvious craving for a challenge. “Isn’t that why I’ve been waiting for you?”
When the black mist condensed again, it was beside Ming Feizhen. Ming Feizhen was surprised with the Buddhist internal style in the straightforward sword strike.
Ming Feizhen: Y-Yijin Jing?
Capitalising on Ming Feizhen’s distraction, Mr. An sped up as though he had fused with the wind. After a quick three exchanges, Mr. An ceased and grinned. “The sword is mine,” Mr. An missed when he went to grab the sword, “if I could snap the celestial spider thread at your waist.”
Ming Feizhen was fast enough to snatch the sword without Mr. An realising, yet Mr. An had already analysed and copied his technique. Indeed, the ability to mimic a technique seen only once qualifies one as a martial arts prodigy.
Ming Feizhen re-enacted the exchange in his head again and then declared, “I’m done,” then walked off. “I’ve got the sword, so do as you please.”
Taken aback, Mr. An needed a moment before responding, “Wow, what a surprise… You’re sparing me?”
“You know me.” Ming Feizhen halted in his tracks. “Though I don’t know who you are, you know me – the past me. I surmise you know every single ‘me’… I’m well aware I can’t kill you. You move faster without the weight of Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer on you. Meanwhile, I’ll struggle to locate you without the bloodlust oozing from this sword, so catching you will be tough. In the same vein, you can’t kill me without the sword. Plus, your Broken Sword Eight Layers Light looks authentic but isn’t – different to what I’ve heard about it, at least. If I’m not wrong, that imperfect technique is the only one you can execute, correct?”
“Do you think… I’ll spare you, though? I could expose y-”
“Not having to keep up a farce does make things easier in a way.” Ming Feizhen looked over his shoulder. “I’m Ming Feizhen, not Wudang’s Huan Xinglai, not Demon Sect’s Lord San Shen, not Night Fortress’ master and not any other version of me that you know. I don’t have any interest in what you’re up to. Just make sure you do one thing: don’t annoy me.”
“… A man’s gotta eat. You’re costing me a job, Master Ming.”
“There’s a simple solution.” Ming Feizhen resumed walking off. “If you want to live, steer clear of me.”