The two who once chatted merrily upon entering the capital were now ready to throw down.
Notwithstanding hearing elites closing in, Xun Feng casually smiled at Huang Yuzao. “Has he been in that state since returning?”
Huang Yuzao didn’t seem able to hear anything. The blank look on his face suggested he was without a consciousness.
Song Chi slowly drew his broadsword enveloped in his purple energy and then held it out horizontally, blocking Xun Feng’s line of sight to Huang Yuzao. “You won’t be taking him hostage.”
Song Chi gave the impression that he had become one with his broadsword, causing Xun Feng to have an illusion that distorted the line between whether Song Chi was a living being or a statue. Song Chi rightfully earned his place as first rank on Seventeen Wyrms.
“You certainly know me well, Brother Song.” Xun Feng maintained his usual laid-back attitude. “We’ve known each other for a long time, but we’ve never fought. Who do you reckon is stronger?”
Song Chi chuckled under his breath. “Song Clan is but a family that came from rags. A family history spanning a century disappearing is nothing worth mentioning compared to the millennium of Cold Mountain Temple’s history. Moreover, your mentor is an eminent monk. I would forfeit without a fight if my opponent was Drinking Monk.”
In other words, Song Clan couldn’t compare to Cold Mountain Temple, but Xun Feng was nothing compared to Song Chi.
“Haha… Haha… Hahaha, so you’re not even going to pretend if it’s not my senior brother?”
“You flatter me.”
“You asked for it!”
Xun Feng twirled his sleeve and blasted out a cylindrical shockwave of energy from his sleeve. The Buddhist technique required one to create the shockwave from their sleeve, so there was no wind to blast. Xun Feng made use of the fact that it wasn’t easy to detect him charging it up for sneak attack purposes.
Prepared, Song Chi imbued his blade in undulating qi, making it appear as though his blade was bending similarly to waves without the violence or sound of waves. Had veteran broadsword wielders of Jiangnan seen the young man in white’s fluid movements, they would’ve remarked that Bai Zhiqing had a successor. His purple qi looked harmless and pretty rather than dangerous, but the sound generated upon making contact with Xun Feng’s blow sounded identical to iron on iron.
Despite Xun Feng promptly retreating, his left sleeve’s fragments resembled butterflies slowly descending. Had Xun Feng pulled back a moment later, it would’ve been his left arm rather than his sleeve.
“Splendid ‘Misty Dreams Swamp’!”
Song Clan’s philosophy was, as long as they allied with enough weak allies, they had strength in numbers that couldn’t be underestimated. While they didn’t have someone in their family who could be called first-rate, they made up for it with “Sundering the Nine Heavens” that they learnt from someone else.
Sundering the Nine Heavens was a palm discipline that mixed the metal qi of blades into the palm techniques, which was different to how other hard-hitting palm disciplines approached it. The discipline that was included in “Three Fists, Five Palms” utilised internal energy to forge the practitioner’s flesh into a weapon.
All members of Song Clan were permitted to practice Sundering the Nine Heavens; however, effort and discipline weren’t enough to develop a body comparable to that of a respected weapon. Unfortunately, having the physique for it was a requirement.
Song Ou wasn’t a martial artist. Song Chi wasn’t blessed with the body to excel in martial arts. Only their youngest brother truly had the potential to reach the pinnacle of martial arts. Song Chi never used that as an excuse to neglect his training, nevertheless. Even when his father thought Song Chi would struggle to continue progressing, Song Chi searched on his own until he found a way to continue pushing his boundaries.
Song Chi did the opposite of Sundering the Nine Heavens’ design; he took the qi and imbued it into his broadswordplay. As such, while he didn’t have hands that could function as blades, he wasn’t limited to one broadsword. Once he started, the blade qi became a mist of qi refined via Sundering the Nine Heavens’ system. Wherever he swung, one slash became the equivalent of hundreds of slashes.
Xun Feng had heard about Song Chi slicing his opponent’s all over their body before they even realised it. He initially assumed it was because Song Chi was an expert at being fluid and sophisticated, which was why he tried to nullify it with a hard, sudden attack. He lost confidence in a sure victory the moment he heard their clang upon contact.
“Hahaha, your family toiled so hard, yet you have blown it all without any hesitation. It’s easy to discard things that aren’t yours, huh?”
Song Chi, clad in his mist of blades, had a voice that was even as cold and sharp as blades. “I’ve done more for Song Clan than you could imagine. I don’t expect you to understand; I only ask that you forgive me. I never wanted to kill a friend.”
Now that he knew Song Chi’s level, Xun Feng didn’t interpret it as an empty threat. Though he wasn’t confident he could beat Song Chi, he had a trick up his sleeve that he’d been saving.
Xun Feng advanced again in a manner that made it seem he had been cloned himself. Regardless, it was meaningless against Song Chi’s boundless mist, so his true self was bound to be forced out once they clashed. Howbeit, Xun Feng’s target was Huang Yuzao. He had used the bait and switch targets multiple times today alone. The difference this time was that he wasn’t utilising Jiang Chen’s teachings against Confucianism disciples. Hence, he wasn’t able to gain any noticeable advantage against Song Chi.
Song Chi looked so bored that he resembled Huang Yuzao in the chair. Song Chi slashed a wave of purple qi from his mist at Xun Feng’s neck. Xun Feng dropped and rolled, but Song Chi immediately figured out what Xun Feng’s aim was.
“You’re courting death!” brayed Song Chi.
Xun Feng ignored Song Chi’s expanding broadsword qi radius to continue towards his goal. Even though Song Chi drew blood from his back with a slash that made him growl, he focused his energy to his feet to launch himself away. By the time Xun Feng regained his footing, he had already suffered more than twenty cuts.
Song Chi paused. “You’re painfully stubborn. You’re not my match, and there are more guards outside. What difference will obtaining it make?”
The panting monk still had an ice jade box in his shirt that housed a fist-sized piece of jade that continued glowing brighter and brighter red. The piece of jade continued to heat up perpetually since he first set foot in the room. Attacking Huang Yuzao was but a red herring for him to snatch the Nine Dragons Fire Jade nobody dared to touched on the ground. As he was the only person who had the ice jade case, he was the only one who would’ve picked the piece of jade up. As Song Chi said, though, picking it up was only adding to Xun Feng’s burdens. Xun Feng, on the other hand, felt ecstatic and thrilled, believing he was going to triumph now.
“Song Chi, I admit you’re strong than me, but you were careless. You think I risked snatching the fire jade at this critical juncture without any confidence that I’d be able to escape?”
Alarmed, Song Chi swung down before Xun Feng could finish.
“Too late!” Cracking a savage smile, Xun Feng manifested some sort of dark-purple mark on his palm that could’ve either been defined as a collection of blood or a popped vein. He leisurely struck the bottom of the ice jade box with his palm.
A violent fire spawned in between Song Chi and Xun Feng! Within in an instant of its birth, every visible corner of the room was engulfed in flames. The innate power of the flame knocked Song Chi’s weapon out of his hand as well as nearly sent him into the flames. In spite of Song Chi promptly fetching his broadsword to shield himself, his clothing and part of his hair all caught fire. Had he not spun away, he would’ve suffered burns.
“Hahaha, so this is the power of Nine Dragons Fire Jade!”
“So this is how you use Nine Dragons Fire Jade…”
The first speaker was the fire summoner. The second speaker was the elder who’d kept to himself the entire time.
“Thank you. You’ve provided an answer to a query that’s troubled me for twenty years.”
Xun Feng: Damn it! I never planned to make an enemy out of Confucianism in today’s plan! I messed up! Whatever… It’s too late now.
Xun Feng palmed the bottom of the ice jade box again. Since Song Chi and Huang Yuzao were the only others in the room, nobody would know a thing if they perished in the inferno. Nine Dragons Fire Jade unleashed more flames from its container.
Put on the spot, Song Chi was undecided between rescuing Huang Yuzao or bringing down Xun Feng, and there wasn’t much time before the room fell to the fire.
Seven swordsmen suddenly appeared. Xun Feng recognised their swordplay at first glance – Confucianism swordplay. He knew well and truly that he wasn’t their match, so he palmed the box again, releasing more flames to prevent them getting close. “Eastern China Sea’s Seven Swordsmen. That explains where your confidence.”
The seven guardians of their base in Eastern China Sea were stronger and more respected than words did justice. They usually stayed back at the headquarters, meaning the only reason they left was to protect Huang Yuzao.
The fire in Huang Yuzao’s eyes burnt fiercer than the infernos consuming the room. At that point, it occurred to Xun Feng that Huang Yuzao was fully aware of Nine Dragons Fire Jade’s importance and placing it on the ground was merely to test him. Otherwise, the seven swordsmen would’ve cut him down the moment he set foot inside. Huang Yuzao willingly exchanged the item for the truth.
“Please forgive this one for not keeping you company.” Xun Feng ran the other way, but not without continuing to leak flames wherever he went.
“You’re not getting away!” Song Chi gave chase.
The seven swordsmen carried Huang Yuzao out on his chair. Huang Yuzao kept his eyes shut for a long time, allowing everyone to do whatever they needed to do. When he finally opened his eyes, he cast his gaze towards heaven and, with tears in his eyes, cried, “Scum!”