Bai Ju’s aura intensified even further despite him having yet to budge a step. He was on a completely different level to when he fought Tang Ye and Bai Yumo. The only explanation for how they survived against him was that he held back.
Yi Ya quietly asked, “Divine Realm?”
“Unsure,” answered Shen Yiren.
“You’ve seen him fight. What’s your evaluation?”
“Stronger than you.” On the rare occasion, Shen Yiren made her annoyance obvious.
Based on Bai Ju’s experience, he was dead sure that holding back against the two of them wouldn’t bring him any pleasant surprises. Moreover, he couldn’t fulfil his commission with flying colours if he wasted too much time on unexpected variables. Hence, he came out of the gate at maximum capacity. Shrouded in a faint blue energy, Bai Ju rushed towards the door with brisk steps. “There are all sorts of wonders across the heavens, in the heavens and down on earth. Be sure to be considerate of your elders… and don’t die too fast.”
Though Bai Ju didn’t perform an attack, his blue energy tore through the ground as if it was a live anaconda moving even faster than his whips. Among the various methods of utilising Enlightenment, converting energy into a physical entity, such as Luo Ming’s titanic sword and Abels’ spherical shield, offered the most mobility. It was also the ability that maximised one’s power the most once they had fused it with their martial arts discipline. The only common denominator between the three was the immense force they produced, making it a challenge to block.
Shen Yiren and Yi Ya simultaneously dodged. They weren’t pressed so hard that they needed to evacuate as if they’d die the next instant, but neither of them could see themselves stopping the attack head on.
“Blue Enlightenment combined with long streaks of blue and green. Although there’s a lack of purity, it’d pay to be cautious of his ‘sharpness’ and ‘weight’.” One of the benefits of directly serving under one of The Ultimate Three was gaining immunity to fear of Divine Realm. It was true for Yi Ya, and it was true for every generation before him. Unlike Shen Yiren, Yi Ya didn’t miss the opportunity, and he made sure to take the experience serious.
“You won’t last long if all you do is dodge, you know?” Bai Ju’s target was clear based on the trajectory of his whip.
Yi Ya exploded into motion, leaving the ground behind him to shatter.
Bai Ju’s best skill wasn’t manipulating the giant python he formed using Enlightenment; his specialty was wielding Iceriver Whip. He started to make another swing for Yi Ya, only to sense a thin layer of sword qi on a thin sword tip aimed at his exposed shoulder. Thus, Bai Ju jerked his shoulder, redirecting Iceriver Whip back to coil around the sword. Alas, the golden glow on the blade passed through the layers of Iceriver Whip to continue towards his shoulder. Surprised but not disabled, Bai Ju yanked his whip back vigorously, yet she was still able to continue thrusting through the small loops as if she had the eyes of an eagle.
Bai Ju had always been proud of his visual prowess thanks to his specialty in archery and citizenship as a Kiliya, and he had every right to be. Figuring Shen Yiren would be able to still continue even if he formed another loop, he decided to give up on his tactic, cancelling out his python and then casting Enlightenment on himself. Given the gap in their levels, she couldn’t inflict any damage even if she did tag him.
Shen Yiren’s thrust was a variation she picked up during her fight against Gongsun Chu. She reviewed it tirelessly after Ming Feizhen gave her some pointers until she was able to execute it at will. As such, it was a strike Bai Ju had to counter. She immediately cancelled her attack and retreated, though, when he tried to catch her, confident that she wasn’t within his range. Bai Ju was astonished that small interval between him erasing his python and trying to counter Shen Yiren was sufficient for Yi Ya to close the gap.
Bai Ju knew it was ill-advised to block Yi Ya’s attack before even seeing Yi Ya. Hence, he dragged his whip swinging towards Shen Yiren back to his side. Unfortunately, he made a mistake when he tried to measure Yi Ya’s speed based on what his eyes could see.
One opponent had better vision than him, while the other was faster than him. The last thing Bai Ju expected was for the two he dominated with his aura would be the one pressuring him, but he relished it.
Shen Yiren, mounting a second offensive, and Yi Ya were both shocked when he literally disappeared without any foreshadowing.
Adepts sized each other up based on their other’s aura, which was why they didn’t need to see to determine the level of their competitor. All practitioners of internal disciplines devoted themselves to honing their senses so that they had a more vivid picture of their opponent’s aura since it was the equivalent to having an extra eye and arm. There was only one explanation for how Bai Ju was able to go against this common sense.
“Eclipse!” exclaimed Shen Yiren.
Not even someone as fast as Yi Ya could move fast enough to erase all traces of his presence; only reaching a realm that enabled an ability to erase one’s presence from their opponent’s radar could one erase their existence. Being able to utilise Enlightenment wasn’t enough to prove one had reached Divine Realm. The moment they could utilise Eclipse, however, they were truly in a different realm.
“Yi, head!” yelled Shen Yiren.
Yi Ya immediately shifted positions, making the black python that came down smash his afterimage and the ground. Yi Ya’s explosiveness and speed saved him again. With that said, he was cognisant of the fact that he would’ve been demolished back there if it wasn’t for Shen Yiren’s warning.
Upon rendezvousing with Shen Yiren, the Qilin Guard calmly stated, “He’s a Divine Realm adept.”
“Never said otherwise.”
“Say something I can understand.”
“If he’s reached Divine Realm, he can utilise Stillvoid to move the presence of all things in existence at will. Not only will very few disciplines work against it, but he will even be able to recover at an inhuman rate. Neither of us have cast Enlightenment, so he can take our attacks without any significant consequences. He has Divine Realm attack and speed, but he seems to lack defence and recovery abilities that come with it. It’s odd.” Yi Ya then asked Bai Ju, “You can use Enlightenment and Eclipse, yet you can’t cast Stillvoid?”
Shen Yiren, following some rumination, questioned, “You took a shortcut?”
The duo’s composure was literally an insult to the Divine Realm elder.
“Hey, hey, I’m a Divine Realm adept. I’m strong. I’m tough. Can’t you show a little surprise? You’re hurting my feelings.”
Again, in his emotionless tone, Yi Ya said, “We need to employ guerrilla warfare. We can’t match him face to face. Wear him down slowly. Divine Realm adepts can fight for days without pause; however, having excess energy doesn’t mean having excess time. He’ll lose his composure once he’s pressed for time. That’s the opening we need. Mr. Bai, I respect your skills. I’m not your match, but this is a fight, not a martial arts contest. Forgive me for being tactical.”
Even though there were no signs of a joke in there, Bai Ju nearly laughed.
Yi Ya already prepared his body to start implemented his tactic as he spoke. If he made his move while Bai Ju was speaking, breaking their formation and escaping with Prime Minister Li to recruit help, then Shen Yiren might’ve been spared. He burnt his first priority, protecting Prime Minister Li, second priority, his ally’s safety, his third priority, the outcome of his mission, and his last priority, victory, into every fibre of his being.
Yi Ya was the worst type of opponent for anyone. While Bai Ju was the stronger fighter, Yi Ya wouldn’t stop experimenting with any method to succeed. Bai Ju would’ve risked failing his principal goal if he focused too much on winning. A warrior who was always level-headed about what he needed to do was a valuable warrior no matter where his battlefield was.
Wang Muren really is a freak. How did he turn an innocent child into a copy of him?
“Yi,” quietly called Shen Yiren, showing no formalities for the warrior who was considerably older than her. “You created some new technique or something?”
Yi Ya had an inkling that he was onto something, but he wasn’t confident in the gut feeling. He was never quite adept at socialising, after all. “Do you really hate me?”
“I neither like you nor Leng, but you’re a tad better. I really… really hate that guy… He always makes me look like an idiot.”
Nobody got on the nerves of Shen Yiren during her childhood more than her father’s direct disciple, her senior brother. He picked up everything he learnt in one try, so she always felt that she was stupid when he learnt everything faster than her. It got to a point where she no longer wanted to learn from her father.
“He makes everyone look like an idiot.” Yi Ya was sort of happy to hear he wasn’t the most detested.
“So do you have a new technique or not?”
“And you do?”
Yi Ya bobbed his head instead of biting back. He wasn’t expecting an encouraging answer, but her answer did rouse a bit of anticipation.
“Eclipse is hard to detect,” Shen Yiren stated. “I’ll help you locate him. I… can see him.”
Out of nowhere, an ominous feeling got everyone’s attention; even Bai Ju felt as if his heart had just been seized. A handsome, yet cold, young face appeared from a veil of black fog. He walked straight over to Prime Minister Li as if nobody else existed.
“Old man, is he at Taishu Hall?”
Prime Minister Li nodded. “Yes.”
“Hmph, glad to know!” Tianhu zipped off into the sky comparably to a bolt of lightning.
Even after the thunderous sound of Tianhu’s departure finished ringing, silence and awkwardness still permeated the area. None of the three ignored individuals knew what to say as they just stared at each other, lost for words.
“… I’m a Divine Realm adept, you know? I’m strong, you know? Check this out…”