Fan Xian raised his eyebrows as he realized he was being challenged to a duel. It was similar to the custom of noblemen from Europe in his previous life, where they threw gloves in each other’s faces. Fan Xian scratched his cheek and chuckled to himself—if throwing stuff at faces remained unchanged in Qing, then probably no one would refuse a duel.
Everyone’s eyes were on Fan Xian. Ruoruo nervously pulled on his sleeve. Despite Ye Ling’er’s delicate build and slim waist, she was a proper seventh-ranked martial artist whom no one in the capital dared to bother. Now that she had issued the challenge, Fan Xian, as a man, shouldn’t turn her down, lest he be forever shamed in the capital.
Seeing the heated standoff, the gatekeepers pretended that they didn't hear a thing. At the same time, none of them were oblivious enough to go find the ruling Lady in the other yard— "your dearest girl friend is about to fight your future husband"—who would be that stupid?
"I always hear people praise you for exceling in both ‘civil and martial’ affairs. I’m no match for you in poetry, but I want to confirm for Wan’er if you have what it takes to protect her." Strangely, since throwing down that knife, Ling’er’s personality changed; she calmed down, and her eyes, which were as beautiful as fine jade, became filled with confidence. What kind of great power was hidden within that seemingly frail body, ready to be unleashed upon Fan Xian?
Fan Xian was surprised as he realized this girl was a strong one who kept her abilities hidden. However, he smiled and waved his hand, and said what no one expected to hear:
Refusing a duel? That alone was rare enough, but Fan Xian was backing down from a woman; could he ever raise his head again in the capital? None of the spectators could figure out what prompted Fan Xian to make such a bewildering decision.
Fan Xian explained humbly, "While Miss Ye dislikes me, you’re still a dear friend of Wan’er’s. How could I lash out at you?" Before the crowd could cheer at such an excellent answer, he added with a smile, "Besides, unless the situation is dire, I do not wish to hit a woman."
His carriage had arrived a long time ago, but it remained unable to approach due to the current incident. Not even Wang Qinian dared to intervene.
After explaining himself, Fan Xian took his sister’s hand and turned to leave.
A clear voice erupted in rage! In a flash of shadow, Ye Ling’er charged up behind Fan Xian and jabbed at him! She was considerate enough to adhere to the courtesy of a duel and gave him a warning beforehand.
Feeling the forceful wind pressure behind him, Fan Xian put some strength into his right hand and led his sister to the side. He then turned.
He saw Ling’er’s fist coming straight at his face!
That fist was small and graceful, with white skin that had some veins showing through vaguely. washer fingernails were painted pink.
To observe so many details in such a short instant only proved two things. One, Fan Xian was a man of considerate carnal desire. And two, while Ye Ling’er’s punch was fast, it wouldn’t hold a candle to that wooden stick on the cliffs above Danzhou.
With a tap of his foot, Fan Xian leaned toward his left with unnatural quickness. Ye Ling’er’s fist, full of lethal intent, went past his cheek and missed completely.
The buzz of the wind made Fan Xian’s hair rise. Meanwhile, Fan Xian had already withdrawn his right hand and, in a flash, flicked Ye Ling’er’s maimen!
Not even Gong Dian could avoid this trick when caught off guard, so there was no way Ye Ling’er could. She grunted lightly and opened her fist right next to Fan Xian’s cheek. But Fan Xian had no time to be pleased. He squinted and took three steps back in an odd manner. He then clapped in the air three times.
Clap! Clap! Clap! Three claps rang out next to him!
As it turned out, as soon as she opened her hand, Ye Ling’er spread her fingers like the branches of a peach tree and aimed them at Fan Xian’s temples. Fan Xian dodged the initial attack with pure instinct, blocking the three blasts of qi with his hands.
"Ye style sanshou!" The crowd gasped. They knew Grandmaster Ye Liuyun was her granduncle, but they didn’t know she had inherited any skills from him.
Before the gasps died down, Fan Xian closed in with a perfectly calm expression and landed a solid punch into Ye Ling’er’s still-opened hand.
There was a dull thud. Peach branches or not, Ye Ling’er’s sanshou had been breached by Fan Xian’s overpowering zhenqi! She drifted over a meter backwards, holding her wrist in pain while staring at Fan Xian in shock. She could never have imagined his zhenqi would be so powerful. After contact, it traveled up her own meridians to attack her. The pain made her release her sanshou.
"You are no match for me." Fan Xian provoked her.
Ye Ling’er clenched her teeth and charged at him again, even fiercer than before. She chopped down with her hand, her fingers lined up into a blade which pierced the wind. As a young woman, her zhenqi was already inferior to an adult man, which was why Ye Liuyun taught her to use a slashing motion when fighting opponents with stronger zhenqi.
Fan Xian was secretly startled, but managed to make use of panicked footwork developed on the Danzhou cliffs to escape Ye Ling’er’s strikes by the skin of his teeth.
As the wind pressure from Ye Ling’er’s strikes picked up, the spectators felt a chill.
Countless blades of qi danced around Fan Xian, who vaguely sensed danger. With a restrained grunt, he filled his entire body with zhenqi and stomped his foot down hard, forcibly stopping himself from retreating any further. He then channeled strength into his waist and threw himself forward, as if he had been punched from behind. He had changed from a retreating posture to an advancing one. It was completely unexpected!
The winds disappeared, and so did Fan Xian.
The next moment made everyone drop their jaws.
Fan Xian was right up between Ye Linger’s arms, his hands firmly grasping her armpits. Ye Linger’s terrifying hands stopped just short above Fan Xian’s shoulders—more accurately, right before her hands came down, Fan Xian struck her in a weak spot by practically hugging her.
What Fan Xian had done might have looked improper, but among the wildly dancing blades of qi, this was the only way to get close enough to her. Fan Xian’s eyesight and speed had reached such terrifying levels; Wu Zhu had taught him well.
Having first been charged by Fan Xian, who looked like a vengeful spirit, and then having been embraced by him, Ye Ling’er was greatly shaken. But she did not panic. She pushed down with both arms, raising herself into the air!
Without warning, she kicked down towards Fan Xian’s tibia. If it connected, Fan Xian would be sure to fall on top of her from the pain, but she didn’t care that much at the moment.
Right before the kick landed, Fan Xian let go, and she fell.
Such was how the human body moves. If you chop down with your hands while kicking up at the same time, it would be extremely unpleasant. Fan Xian was aiming for this moment and stabbed out with his own punch!
Other than the incident on Niulan Street, this was the third punch he had thrown since arriving in the capital. Each one prior had broken someone’s nose; today was no exception.
There was a light crack and a splash of blood; the way it trailed in the air somehow gave off a romantic feeling.
Ye Ling’er immediately knelt down and clutched her nose. There was blood between her fingers. After a moment, she began wailing. Fan Xian was uneasy; she wanted a fight, he obliged, and now she cries?
The maidservants of Ye manor rushed forward, but didn’t get in the way. It looked like this young miss often challenged people to duels. Fan Xian did not feel guilty in the slightest—just because he disliked hitting women didn’t mean he wanted to get hit by one. When his mother first came to the capital, she had beaten Ye Ling’er’s father—Sir Ye Zhong, the current Commander of Defense—into a sorry pulp. Uncle Wu Zhu had fought a grand battle against Ye Liuyun under the city walls, forcing the grandmaster to shut himself in for many months, renouncing the sword for sanshou.
Fan Xian punching Ye Ling’er was him carrying on this glorious tradition, in a way.