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The man standing there wore a long, flowing robe, dressed in the style of an academic. His thin, tapered eyes flickered over Yan Zhengming before he let out a light chuckle. “Hm, don’t be so hasty to stop him. Please, we want to witness the skill of your talented disciples.”
“Get out of the way!” Yan Zhengming slammed the base of his sword toward the man’s wrist.
Li Yun said, “Senior brother, don’t…!”
Yan Zhengming’s sword hadn’t even touched the man when an invisible force rammed against his sword’s hilt, traveling directly from his hand to his chest. Yang Zhengming staggered back a few steps, his chest so congested with nausea that he felt a mouthful of blood coming up.
“Senior brother!” Li Yun came up from behind, supporting him.
Swallowing the sweet, gory taste at the back of his throat, Yan Zhengming glared at the man in the long robes.
The man didn’t seem to be interested in looking at him at all. He opened up the fan, fanning the area in front of him casually. On the surface of the fan a line was written in outstanding calligraphy: “Think before you act.” He smiled meaningfully at Yan Zhengming. “Acting out so rashly, doesn’t quite befit the temperament of a leader.”
This man was here to pick a fight!
The cultivator had already lost in the previous fight anyways, so he decided to go all out. Ignoring the fact that Cheng Qian had nothing but a weak wooden blade, he threw all manners aside and cut toward him.
This was anything but restrained. His sword had symbols for charms reinforcing it, plus his own fighting style was unfamiliar. Before the sword had managed to strike anything, a monstrous force that scraped painfully against the skin had already arrived.
A wooden sword was nothing solid. Cheng Qian knew that he wasn’t as strong as his master. In the moment, he could only avoid the attacks, turning to step away.
Seeing that he was only dodging, the cultivator seemed to become absorbed in his attacks, jumping up and down as he dealt blow after blow that were as pretty and flimsy as a flowery butterfly, forcing Cheng Qian to dodge time after time.
The man in the long robes watched the fight as if it were some kind of circus entertainment, smiling. “Your junior brother may be young, but he has quite the patience to wait for his opportunity.”
His tone made clear that this was meant as a “compliment” for Cheng Qian’s endless dodging. Yan Zhengming’s fingers turned pale from gripping his sword. When was the last time he had been picked on like this?
The cultivator moved closer and closer to cut Cheng Qian’s way off, speaking with a twisted smile on his face. “Is your sect’s brilliant technique teaching all of you to dodge and run away?”
The words were barely out of his mouth when the wooden hairpin in Cheng Qian’s hair was struck by the force of his sword, splitting in half on the spot. Most of his hair fell around his face.
“Perhaps you should be at home, playing with your toys…uh!”
That was when Cheng Qian struck back.
He leapt to the side, toes merely dipping to meet the ground, before turning and retaliating with the move “Sea Gazing Upon the Moon.”
This was one of the first moves in the sea techniques, referencing the bright, broad sound of crashing waves. It employed the methods of a big opening and closure. The wooden sword rolled past, as shocking as a thousand waves. The cultivator couldn’t help but stare.
Moves like these suited two types of people. One was the careless type, who’d overcome any delicate trickery with a single decisive blow; the other was those with harsh hands and black hearts. Cheng Qian fell into the latter category.
Cheng Qian may have been studious when it came to practicing, but he didn’t have a quick enough reaction time. No matter how well-practiced his moves were, he couldn’t hope to match up against a cultivator who had been defeated so quickly by someone else. From the very beginning he knew that he couldn’t actively combat the cultivator’s blows.
Watching him battle, Cheng Qian could already see that the cultivator fought with precision and refinement. That was enough for him to make the guess that his opponent wouldn’t show much variety in his swordsmanship.
He only dodged beforehand because he’d only prepared a single blow. He waited until his opponent got cocky and attempted to pile on the shots to send out his finishing move.
The wooden sword ripped right through the force of the cultivator’s sword, brushing against the steel sword’s edge and avoiding the sharpest points. Carrying the Fu Yao sect’s unique charms and symbols that trained energy flow throughout the body, the force slapped the culviator right in the face.
Of course the blunt wooden sword wasn’t enough to slash him open, but the cultivator was still dumbfounded. A bloody wound opened in the corner of his mouth, splitting his lips like a rabbit, while his face was marred by a dark purple mark. In an instant his face swelled up so much that it wasn’t clear whether or not he’d lost a tooth as well.
As the saying goes, even when you hit someone you don’t hit them in the face. This earth-shattering slap stunned the audience into an uproar.
Even the man with the fan stopped and stared. “What a heartless little boy.”
His goal achieved, Cheng Qian was already beginning to regret it. It seemed to have made things worse.
Because of this, he didn’t dare even show any pride in winning. Instead he merely retracted his wooden sword, pointing it toward the ground in a gesture of respect while he pressed his palms together, bowing his head. “I’m sorry. Thank you for granting me a lesson in your arts.”
The cultivator couldn’t speak, only stared with a hand on his face. The bookish-looking man raised an eyebrow, flicking his fan back into his palm while he commented thoughtfully, “Heartless, but also reserved. Interesting.”
When Cheng Qian lowered his eyes to glance at the Azure Dragon stage, he saw several guards speaking. A smile danced on Tang Wanqiu’s lips. Only then did Cheng Qian wipe the cold sweat on his palms onto the sword’s hilt with the feeling that he’d be able to back down safely.
He sighed a breath of relief. “Perhaps I should be less restless in the future, so I won’t have to offend so many people.”