He Was Once a King (Part 2)
Li Tingzhu couldn’t explain why he was a different man when he fought, though his father might have a good guess. The moment he picked up the sword in Broken Sword Imperial Tomb, he entered a different mode with tunnel vision on polishing his skills.
Li Tingzhu returned to his feet, spitting qi from his sword. “I shall make my move.”
It was wise of Li Tingzhu to not give Ming Suwen time to recover or think when she clearly wasn’t prepared.
Over the last three hundred years, Li Clan’s descendants had been mending and refining their clan’s original swordplay. War gave birth to their “Seventy-Two Intense Techniques”, and Li Tingzhu inherited them from Broken Sword Imperial Tomb.
“Swordplay has been my calling. When a life is on the line, I do not hold back. Take care!”
Fighting him with Daluo’s Five Divine Styles Manual… isn’t enough.
Ming Suwen surrendered her ground, but Li Tingzhu didn’t stop.
If I use strategy, I’ll have to kill…
Ming Suwen stepped and slipped a strike.
Guess that means… I’ll have to get a little serious.
Ming Suwen gave each strike the slip, only moving just enough to avoid getting caught, generating the illusion that she was moving in slow motion, while he had his foot all the way down.
“Defence cannot win against offence!” Li Tingzhu started emphasising explosiveness, using his internal energy to confine Ming Suwen’s area of freedom. As a result, her movements turned sluggish. He repeated the process until he spotted an opening at her abdomen, tagging her once and then using the recoil for a faster second stab to the same spot. “I told you that your Shadow Clone won’t work again!”
Based on what he saw before, Li Tingzhu worked out he only had to send attacks to where she would move to. Thus, he withheld on the feign designed to force her to move and then amped up his second strike as the finishing blow.
Despite getting stung on her obliques, Ming Suwen cracked a smile. “You sure… you know what Shadow Clone is?”
Li Tingzhu’s knack for martial arts, attention to them and the support of Fragmented Heart equipped him with the ability to analyse techniques on a deep level. When it came to Shadow Clone, though, Ming Feizhen hadn’t fully grasped it, let alone Li Tingzhu.
How do people create two clones? She’s creating an illusion. When she uses the technique again, I’ll attack both simultaneously.
Li Tingzhu got into position but then was stumped.
“If you do, you should know there isn’t just one.”
The five Ming Suwen’s before Li Tingzhu didn’t sustain their form for long, gradually returning to one body. He observed the five as carefully as he could, yet he couldn’t tell where her real body was.
“This is Night Net Sacred Treasures’ Shadow Clone. Until now, I’ve yet to come across anyone who can distinguish between reality and illusion. Don’t claim you know something without using your brain first.”
Crack! Crack! Crack!
Li Tingzhu couldn’t react in time to Ming Suwen chopping his bamboo sword up into short fragments. When she stepped past his attack, she wrecked his weapon at the same time. Had she targeted his accupoint, he would’ve been tagged – under the condition she meant to kill him. Else, he would’ve been able to get away.
“Done. Fight’s over.” Ming Suwen stretched out at her own pace. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to chance to brush the rust off. That was fun.”
“W-wait! It’s not over! How is it over?!”
“You want to continue when your weapon is broken?” Ming Suwen shook her head. “What an embarrassment to gentlemen.”
“I still have plenty of moves. I couldn’t use them because the bamboo can’t hold up. How can you declare your victory?”
“You’re the one who insisted on not using his sword. Did I blackmail you?”
“I… I… Although that’s true, you’re a palm styles user, while I need a sword to demonstrate my full capacity.”
Chu Yinghua insulted, “And you call yourself a man. You’re the one who refused to use his sword, and now you’re throwing a tantrum about it. What was the point of the match if you’re just going to talk your way out?!”
Ming Suwen added, “Scumbag being true to himself. What do you want, then?”
Perhaps his father gave Li Tingzhu the title of Red Prince because he foresaw his son’s face could be beet red.
“…Forget it! I will take my loss like a man. I was the one who didn’t use Chilin… but we can only call this a draw. Though my weapon broke, I wasn’t defeated. I don’t have any injuries, so you can’t have won me.”
Ming Suwen stroked her chin. “Since you look so pitiful and want to use Chilin so badly, I can let you use it.”
“What… do you mean?” Li Tingzhu raised his hope.
“But you have to use your best move.”
Ming Suwen angled her head. “Draws don’t exist in my world. If you don’t want to lose, I’ll give you a chance. Use your sword; however, I’ll only accept one exchange. If you don’t use your best move, don’t blame me.”
“… You’re fine with letting me use my sword against you?”
“What? Suddenly run out of moves?”
“… I’ve only shown 10% of my skills thus far.”
“I couldn’t care less what percentage you’ve used or haven’t. You still have any secret techniques you haven’t used?”
“I do.” Li Tingzhu unsheathed Chilin. “And it’s a technique that’ll teach you what regret is.” As he powered up, he added, “Don’t blame me after you lose. As requested, I shall show you the most lethal sword technique.”
Li Tingzhu shut his eyes, then began melding his internal energy and sword qi together. Upon seeing feint dark-green light envelope his body, Chu Yinghua stuttered, “What sorcery is that? How come he’s glowing?”
“It’s not sorcery,” Ming Suwen stated. “It’s called ‘Quasi-Divine’, a sign of an elite martial artist in this era. He must’ve trained really hard to reach that realm at his age. Without Vixen Yu and I, he’d likely claim the top spot” – She softened her voice – “and possibly be ranked higher than Shiba…”
Ming Suwen furtively prepared herself as she watched Li Tingzhu gather his strength. Frankly, she was also excited to see the skills hidden away in Broken Sword Imperial Tomb, and she was sure he was the chosen one of this generation based on his proficiency.
“Myriad Sword Prison.”
Ming Suwen imagined innumerable invisible swords pinning down usable true qi in her body. In essence, Li Tingzhu created thin needles out of energy and thrust them into her meridians, interrupting her flow of energy. No matter how she tried to mould internal energy, the energy would cut off once it hit the walls.
“I did tell you that you’d regret your decision.” Li Tingzhu raised his sword wreathed in green energy. “Catch!”
I see, I see.
A smile spread across Ming Suwen’s lips. “That’s not enough to beat me, though.”
Ming Suwen donned white energy much clearer than Li Tingzhu’s green energy. “Eh?” The sudden exclamation as she prepared to counter came out without thought, letting her pleasant surprise and shyness out at the same time.
Li Tingzhu suddenly saw a man appear in front of Ming Suwen as though he spawned out of thin air. The man pulled her into his arms as if they were on a honeymoon and in a world of their own.
This is a duel, you despicable couple!
Li Tingzhu couldn’t stop his momentum at this point. Alas, his warning came too late. Upon striking his target, his world was turned on its head. His Fragmented Heart went into overdrive to help him find an explanation for the outcome. The man couldn’t have used Shadow Clone as he was unmistakably there, and Li Tingzhu definitely hit something solid. Howbeit, it was too solid to be human. By the time it had dawned on him that the man caught his blade between two fingers, the man was staring down at him vindictively.
He’s right in front of me, yet he sounds like he’s speaking to me from kilometres away. Is… he human?
“What are you aiming a blade at my young shiyi for?”
Every single word the man enunciated sounded as though it entered Li Tingzhu’s ears slowly so that he’d hear clearly. After the last word, Li Tingzhu felt overwhelming pain in his head that put his lights out. When he came to, an entire day had already passed.