It was a silent yet intense battle. The slender figure, which was Meng Fuyao, was being forced to free itself by flipping upward, time and time again, all while being thrown into a nightmarish recollection of old memories. Her mind was close to being blank, and her only thought was, 'Kill him! Kill these frightening memories!'
30th move...100th move...300th move...
Sweat trickled from Guo Pingrong's forehead, giving it a greasy shine.
'This woman is crazy.'
He hadn't seen anyone fighting in this manner before. He hadn't imagined anyone to be able to fight this recklessly in a battle.
By now, Meng Fuyao had inflicted seven bloody wounds on his body, while he had already given her 20, all left by his sword.
Guo Pingrong's muscles and bones had been trained since young, and he was much older than her. The injuries she had caused him were, at that moment, unable to restrain his movements. On the other hand, even with a light graze of his sword across her skin, Meng Fuyao would be losing a lot of blood.
Because of that, precisely, Guo Pingrong became increasingly apprehensive. He was familiar with a human's pain threshold and had specifically aimed for her joints, which should cause the maximum amount of suffering. Under such an attack, any ordinary being would have long lost the ability to battle. Yet, that frail girl, with her extremely powerful energy and tolerance, had proven his belief wrong.
What he feared more was the fact that she was only becoming more vigorous, unlike himself. He was losing power, not mentally but physically. It was then that he realized the intention of her humiliating painting - to not just injure his hand but also to expel his inner energy.
The martial art technique he had been cultivating was extreme, which meant that he was more prone to being led astray during the process. Having been enraged time and time again, while possessing an evil existence within his heart, Guo Pingrong and his inner energy were no longer on the correct path. If their fast and furious battle progressed, the situation on his side would only get worse.
The girl had, amazingly, determined his internal state just from his archery attack, and had even calculated everything from his personality to his every move.
Guo Pingrong's vigor was faltering, and he was astonished to see Meng Fuyao smirking.
What was this little bit of pain to her?
If one had been undergoing harsh training since young, experiencing a pain similar to that of flesh being corroded away and experiencing battles with all kinds of mountainous beasts every single day, would this bit of injury hurt her?
If one had isolated him or herself in a pit for months on end and been resorted to eating earthworms, all for the sake of cultivating pure inner energy for the Nine Cleaving Heavens, would this bit of suffering stop her?
It was during a life-and-death mental battle between two strong players that one could easily break through.
What was the point of being the number one martial artist?
If their internal state and vulnerability were to be exposed, a weaker enemy could still take them down.
'Let your sword and my blood take me into the next realm.'
Meng Fuyao's body was covered in blood, but she suddenly advanced, casting her arm horizontally and blocking down Guo Pingrong's explosive sword attack.
The tip of his longsword pierced into the tummy area and exited through the elbow. The produced sound evoked a cold, aching sensation.
Guo Pingrong was startled by this cold-blooded retaliation that involved the flesh and sword.
At that moment of hesitation, Meng Fuyao no longer gave him the chance to pull his sword. She side-strode forward and twisted the sword that had penetrated his arm, effectively turning it 180 degrees.
The broken sword flew up, along with the splattering of fresh blood. Meng Fuyao shot up like the hissing wind, her head facing upward. The hissing of the wind against her movement was bright and clear. She penetrated the dark clouds and scattered electricity, entering the blue dome of heaven before lifting a leg and kicking the broken section down and toward Guo Pingrong's lower body.
The bloodied sword ray was no different from a bolt of lightning, zooming into Guo Pingrong's line of sight in a split second. He had already sensed Meng Fuyao's intention by then, but it was too late.
The broken section had closed in, and despite his final attempt to leap and twist his body, a soft ripping sound could be heard as blood, along with a clumped object, flew out from his body.
Guo Pingrong plunged from mid-air, floundering about on the ground like a dying fish. He raised the trembling hand that he had used to cover his crotch area, and all he saw on his palm was fresh blood.
"Mother. Why only one egg!" Meng Fuyao cursed.
She readied her sword for another attack, but as she took a step forward, lightheadedness took over her, causing her to stumble. She had lost too much blood, and it was no longer possible for her to launch a fatal attack.
She staggered to her feet, sword in hand, ready to strike him once more. If he were to struggle, she would be prepared for another round of battle.
"The Crown Prince has arrived."
The announcement sounded from a distance, but almost noiseless footsteps were approaching at an extremely fast speed. 'A powerful martial artist,' she thought.
Covered in blood and sweat, Meng Fuyao swayed back and forth, almost falling into unconsciousness. The medicated needle had affected her mind and body control, causing her to make out only the last two words. All she could tell, from the footsteps, was that the strong player whom she couldn't fight against was close by, and more people were closing in.
Meng Fuyao took a deep breath. Then, she stomped her feet and kicked open the hidden room door, quickly throwing herself out of the window. Immediately upon her escape, the hidden room door was once again kicked open, and a beam of sunlight surged through the gap. It was daytime.
Together with the sunlight entered two rows of heavily-armored guards. They were dressed differently from ordinary residence guards and had a stern expression on their faces. Their gazes were sharp and imposing, and it was clear that they were all powerful.
They had a gilded jade tablet, with the word "Shangyang" on it, hanging from their robe.
They were Wuji Crown Prince's personal palace guards, famously known as the Flying Horses.
Those guards that rarely engaged in settling trivial matters had come as a whole troop, some pushing the general's guards to a side and inhibiting their movements while others entering the festival hall. Upon spotting the hidden room, they stood by the door in a formation and in a bowing position.
Snow had fallen throughout the night, and the jade trees in the courtyard had their branches carpeted in white and their blood-red plums serving as an embellishment.
A slender figure gradually emerged from between the rows of guards. His footsteps were unhurried, but he got to the front in the blink of an eye. His silverish-purple, dragon-embroidered robe that swayed gently with the wind was layered with a silverish-white fox fur coat. On his waist coiled a jasper belt, its luster pure and luxurious, added a touch of spring into this cold winter day.
The approaching gentleman had a mask covering half of his fair, gem-like face. Under his ebony hair were two eyes, whose brightness was enhanced by the light reflected off his coat. They were ocean-deep and gleaming and could easily suck the soul out of anyone with a simple gaze.
This was the man whom even the most arrogant, stern and superior palace guards highly respected and were willing to bow down for.
As the world's hero and a royal emperor-to-be, he enjoyed the nation's worship and adoration. At the age of 15, he had started to assist in national politics and had successfully brought Wuji Nation to its utmost glory, such that no one from the other nations, no matter how capable, had dared oppose or rebel.
Zhangsun Crown Prince, Zhangsun Wuji.
That very crown prince of Wuji had traversed through the cold, snowy night to arrive here. Nevertheless, he remained graceful and clean, and even the snow covering the path he had crossed was intact.
The heavy snow from the previous night had moistened the stairs leading to the festival hall. While the guards went forward to greet him, Zhangsun Wuji did not stop to receive them. Instead, he waved his sleeves and instantly re-appeared inside the hall.
The captain stood outside, stiffly turning his head behind and observing the crown prince's back. Since the day had begun, he had felt that the prince was behaving abnormally. While there was no sign of distress on his face, his experience and gut feeling told him that the prince was feeling rather anxious. Those deep eyes, in which the prince had always concealed his emotions, contained a tinge of worry and even... anger.
As the captain pondered over his thoughts, Zhangsun Wuji had already entered the hidden room.
Stopping by the entrance, he placed his hands that he had kept inside of his fur coat down, before scanning across the room and taking in a breath of air.
The guards around lowered their heads even more.
The room was in a mess. The table and chairs were broken and all over the floor, which was also stained in blood. It was an astonishing sight, to say the least. There also was an object lying in a thick pool of blood, and upon realizing what it was, those present looked away in shock.
At the extreme end of the room laid Guo Pingrong, gaze sluggish, covering his crotch area. He hadn't completely lost the power to battle but had yet to process the fact that his baby had been sliced off.
Zhangsun Wuji flashed a look past that object, his eyes shrinking.
He took a slow step forward, but with that simple and unremarkable motion all objects within the room, including the table, chairs, candles and so on, disintegrated into fine powder before scattering onto the ground.
The guards exchanged glances, surprised by what they had witnessed. The objects in the room had long been destroyed and were barely keeping their shapes. Hence, any external pressure could easily turn them to ashes. One could imagine the magnitude of the battle that had taken place hours ago. Every object had been used as weapons and, eventually, destroyed.
Zhangsun Wuji was focused on the pool of blood that was on the ground. He brushed his gaze up and down Guo Pingrong's body, certain that the wounds on his body weren't the source of it. His eyes changed, as though an angry wave had rolled up within them, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared.
He lifted an arm, and the guards retreated without a sound.
The door closed, allowing only a limited amount of light to pass through, but it was enough to illuminate the fluctuations of his expression.
Guo Pingrong had snapped out of his daze by now and was kowtowing before the crown prince. "Your Highness...Your Highness..." he choked.
He leaned over the blood-filled floor, smelling the odor that belonged to both Meng Fuyao and himself. He thought about how the former had, so craftily and aggressively, ruined his life by piercing his own sword, dipped in her own blood, into his vital organ.