Meeting with Someone Who was Always Around
“Who are you?!” Qiuxin split the darkness with eight slashes, showing no signs that her comrades’ defeat evoked any panic.
How epic was her combination? Like, blah, blah, blah, blah, insert-verbose-description epic.
“Not bad,” Young Shiyi folded her arms and praised. “It appears as though it’s a sharp series of techniques, but she’s prying with sword qi whilst fending off your invisible, transforming threads. Her swordplay is decent, but she gave defence priority over offence. No matter how good she is, she’s shown hesitance. She’s fighting with a handicap regardless of how much skill she has.”
Hearing Young Shiyi, Qiuxin refused to take it lying down, therefore lunging for my chest. Because she focused on a single point of attack, all the silver lines around focused into a single line. Her sword qi acted as a barrier around me that would cue her in to attack whenever it detected me moving.
In terms of internal energy alone, the lady in white could crush Tang Ye and was closer to Jia Yunfeng when I fought him for the second time.
I disregarded the sword qi’s threat to look over my shoulder. “Is her swordplay good?”
“Depends on who you’re comparing her to. Compared to your swordplay, she’s hundreds of times better. Compared to Sixth, eh, she might be qualified to be his disciple’s disciple.”
To escape the sword qi shackles on me, I could’ve used the most common method – exercising patience. Alternatively, I could’ve countered with the same strategy – engaging in a test of swordplay proficiency. Anyone with superior internal energy could just use brute force because it would be a pure strength contest. I didn’t shake off the shackles. Instead, I pretty much considered it thin air, so she couldn’t find any window to strike.
“Relax.” Wearing my confidence on my lips, I said, “You’re acting beside yourselves. Shouldn’t all of you be sure to practice grace? As second in charge, shouldn’t you be even more conscious of your behaviour?”
Qiuxin’s dislike for my comments showed on her face. “So, you’re after our sect, are you? You two were the ones who attacked our two members at the inn?”
“Damn straight. You have one fact wrong, however. You’re not worth our time and effort.”
Wu Ba: “You’re not with Autumn Water Sword Sect?! Who are you two?!”
“Sh, we’re just getting to the good part.”
Wu Ba lowered his head with rosy cheeks…
Not that sort of “good” part, you sicko! I was setting up the atmosphere for a magic show, not for you! Want me to introduce you to a big man?!
Qiuxin voiced, “Baimu’s envoy, I am Autumn Water Sword Sect’s vice-patriarch. Why are you not assisting your ally? Are you just going to watch?”
“Focus on what’s at hand. Doesn’t the fact that they’re kneeling to me tell you everything you need to know? Your allies have switched teams.”
Qiuxin refused to show the fact that she was shaken show despite being aware of the difference in our abilities. “… Who are you? Why are you targeting us? If there is any grudge between us, feel free to speak about it. We will do our best to resolve the issue peacefully.”
“You can stop stalling. I just amped up my output, so your members aren’t going to be able to move for the next four-or-so hours.”
“What did you do to them?”
“You know, just a new invention for fodder. It’s useless against people who’ve honed their internal energy to a certain degree.”
“I see. Thank you for being honest.”
I didn’t care for the crafty twitch at the corners of Qiuxin’s lips. Likewise, I could barely be bothered with the four Baimu soldiers who suddenly charged at me with a lot more strength than before. I whipped my left hand, smacking all four back to the ground with my threads.
“They’re your spies, aren’t they? You cast some sort of hypnosis skill on them to order them around in addition to giving them a power boost. You were intending to have them assassinate Baimu’s people should your alliance crumble, correct? Work on your timing.”
Only Qiuxin could hear me. “Who exactly are you?! How do you know so much about us?!”
Demon Realm valued women over men, viewing men as inferior beings. Since the women didn’t want to get their hands dirty, they had the men do their bidding. Howbeit, the system created inconveniences outside of their sect given how it contradicted the cultural paradigm – unless one was from the imperial family. For that reason, they needed to have men when operating outside of their sect.
They could be considered branch members of Demon Realm that Sky Palace sent out for training. They were raised from childhood to be cold-blooded killers with deceptively handsome appearances. They are the ones who form the impression that the pugilistic world had of Demon Realm – which wasn’t remotely close to what the reality was.
For the most part, the women of Sky Palace didn’t need elite fighters to help but obedient puppets. To that end, they invented numerous techniques to take control of men – thus heartless puppets. The puppets didn’t need their memories, a life or an emotion. Their methods left very minor after effects and provided benefits. Irrespective of what the puppet’s original internal style was, they could create a subservient puppet. To compare, River Monster’s use of gus to create puppets is child’s play in comparison to the skills Sky Palace utilised.
Members that held certain ranks in Sky Palace were permitted to have their personal heartless puppet. The differences between the ordinary heartless puppets and a personal version were that not only were they extremely loyal to their master, but they also could learn the same internal style as their master. As a result, the heartless puppet gained an immense boost, and the two of them would be a strong team in battle. People in the pugilistic world often die at the hands of heartless puppet’s masters because they’re unaware that the smiling, elegant woman was the true master.
“Your sect’s skills don’t sit at the top nor are you cut out to be assassins. I can’t think of any other way to explain your 100% success rate if you aren’t using your hypnosis skills. Additionally,” I mocked Qiuxin further with a grin, “based on your approach, it looks like You Shili hasn’t improved in the slightest all these years.”
“Keep that name out of your unworthy mouth!”
Qiuxin bound forward with everything she had – in addition to other factors that boosted her output – turning her fear that turned to hatred into fuel. The wind generated from the speed of her thrust was enough to sting skin.
All of Qiuxin’s wrath, rage, pride and strength crashed into the ground at a single command.
“You not speak Mandarin?”
Even if her rage could burn, the cold qi shunting her from above froze her flame and face into the shape of someone terrified. I gently and rhythmically petted her head, making her shudder each time I touched her head.
“I said it’s useless against people who’ve honed their internal energy to a certain degree. You don’t fit the description. If it’s what I want… you’ll all lose your lives here in a single second.”
Though I stopped petting her, Qiuxin kept digging her teeth into her bloody lips to quell her trembling. I took my time watching beads of sweat slide down the side of her face and then said, “But, all hope is not lost for you yet.”
“H-how?” Qiuxin blurted without stopping to think for a split second.
I went silent again to get in Qiuxin’s head, waiting until the moment before she passed out to say, “Tell your superior, Mr. Ming is coming to settle the score.”
Her swordplay is decent, but she gave defence priority over offence. – The idea is, you don’t want to step back first thing in a fight when there’s absolutely no reason to. Anecdotally, people who do that tend to lose.