Although he didn’t bleed profusely from his opened wounds, he resembled a humanoid humidifier with all the smoke coming from him. It had been decades since Gongsun Chu was in deep waters.
The reason Ming Feizhen preferentially utilised the blood bombs and refrained from using the short sword that he got from Xue Yanjun was due to the latter requiring calculated usage, lest it be disabled after one use, something that Ming Feizhen was awful at. There was concrete proof on the scene – the fact that Gongsun Chu was caught in the explosion that caused the sword to resemble charcoal.
When Gongsun Chu wiped the black stains on his face with his sleeve, it dawned on him that his body was more damaged than he assumed. His body was highly resistant to explosions thanks to his training in Drought Demons, so the cause of the damage wasn’t Ming Feizhen’s short sword.
After Gongsun Chu gasped another mouthful of blood, Tianhu’s face came to mind. Tianhu’s martial prowess wasn’t the only scary thing about him. Gongsun Chu was rarely ever wrong in his judgement of people, and he had met plenty of people across his long lifespan. Tianhu’s darkness, his aura and everything else about him was a giveaway that he’d never be content with serving as someone’s sword.
“Scoundrel.” Ming Feizhen, angry about getting countered, grumbled, “What happened to our fair duel? Why are you levitating weapons now?”
“You’re clever… but you’re still not my match.”
Though Gongsun Chu’s internal energy was now close to zero due to his accumulative injuries, he was still stronger than Ming Feizhen thanks to the drug. Ming Feizhen’s skills were inferior to Gongsun Chu’s even with internal energy available, let alone now when the latter had fuel, while the former didn’t. There was nothing to suggest Ming Feizhen could save himself; at best, he could only delay the inevitable.
Ming Feizhen went through his bag for some herbs and bandages to stop the bleeding at his shoulder. Without even looking at his opponent once, he responded, “You’re clever, too, but you haven’t fought a perfect fight. Look at you. You probably don’t believe me, either. Allow me to prove my point.”
Once he was done, Ming Feizhen took out the snapped sword tucked away in his sash. He cockily drew the sword from its sheath and chopped a rock with it.
“How dare you?!”
Gongsun Chu immediately felt as if his entire body was being ripped apart despite not suffering any further injuries since they disengaged. Not only could he feel muscular pain, but the sensation was even stronger than before he lost the ability to feel muscular pain. It hurt so bad throughout his skin, muscles and even bones that he arched back, only for it to hurt so bad that he squatted down. None of the special properties he developed could ease the pain in the slightest. It seemed as though he was losing every advantage over Ming Feizhen one by one and, ironically, was feeling more human than ever. That said, the pain wasn’t enough to hamper his reasoning abilities.
“What was that smoke?”
Ming Feizhen shook his head and sighed.
“… You used it, yet you don’t know how it feels when used?” The owner of the breathy, soft voice was neither Ming Feizhen nor Gongsun Chu.
“And that’s your second mistake.” In an emotionless tone, Ming Feizhen elaborated, “I know you have good ears, but they’re not as good as mine. Plus, you’re even weaker now since you’re injured. I have a helper; you just never noticed.”
The person who spoke before Ming Feizhen limped out. His life force was even weaker than that of the bats in the cavern. As soon as Gongsun Chu saw him, Gongsun Chu understood why he overlooked him.
“Huang Yuzao.” As Gongsun Chu always searched for an elite fighter, he never noticed the head of Confucianism who’d lost all his strength and was virtually disabled. Putting together his condition and what Huang Yuzao said, Gongsun Chu pieced it all together. “Love is Pain… Elder Lianhua gave it to you?”
Ming Feizhen found himself a rock to sit on and crossed his legs. “I ground them to powder. Still think the needlerain is useless?”
The needles weren’t meant to inflict harm or buy time. Their purpose was to force Gongsun Chu to breathe whilst in the field of smoke. Due to the force that the needles produced, even Gongsun Chu would have to expend true qi to block them, and each one disrupted his natural breathing rhythm, prompting him to reactively inhale.
Use “Love is Pain” to impact an opponent’s condition, wear them out and then utilise explosions to affect their emotions. That was the exact procedure Gongsun Chu used to take down Huang Yuzao. Ming Feizhen plagiarised Gongsun Chu’s entire script to save himself the trouble of having to think.
As much of a pain “Love is Pain” was, it was harmless as long as someone could remain indifferent to all things. That was a little challenging, though, when someone unlocked the locks, disrupted his wife’s peace, injured him and poisoned him. Nonetheless, Gongsun Chu was no ordinary man.
Ming Feizhen tapped on the rock again twice with the broken sword, almost triggering Gongsun Chu again. “Uncle Huang, you’re happy now, right? How are you going to thank me?”
“… As a consequence of skipping classes without a reason for one month, you are two stand facing a wall for two months and to copy ‘The Analects’ a thousand times.”
“What do you mean ‘without a reason’ when I was kidnapped?! Is a teacher not supposed to help his student arrest his kidnapper?!”
“Then shut up and watch.” Huang Yuzao dragged his lifeless body forward.
“You think you could offer me a challenge when you’ve lost your internal energy?” Gongsun Chu smirked.
“And you’re doing better?”
Gongsun Chu felt confused, unable to see what exactly Huang Yuzao was thinking. “What do you want?”
Ming Feizhen threw two wooden swords to the ground that he had prepared.
Huang Yuzao picked up the wooden sword that landed in front of him. “I lost to you, but my shifu’s swordplay will never lose to you. Gongsun Chu, I hereby challenge you,” he declared before assuming the fighting stance that he already lost to Gongsun Chu with – Principle of Six Swordplay.
Gongsun Chu spent a while musing before he picked up the wooden sword at his feet. He finally understood what he couldn’t figure out prior. He chided himself for failing to understand what Huang Yuzao’s gaze conveyed. Huang Yuzao wanted to avenge his shifu, to prove his shifu’s swordplay would never fail against a traitor. Wasn’t it ridiculous for Gongsun Chu to have not recognised it at first glance – considering he had spent the majority of his life trying to achieve the same goals?
The burning sensation from before returned to Gongsun Chu’s arm once he picked up the sword, but he just accepted it as a form of penance. “Gongsun Chu accepts.”