Book 1: Winds Begin to Blow in Tai Yuan
Chapter 13 - Stunning Breakout
"Hey, you asleep?"
A low but graceful voice, bringing with it some laughter, sounded in her ear. Meng Fuyao opened her eyes, pleasantly surprised.
In front, Yuan Zhaoxu stood unruffled and noble, like he had just stepped into a palace. The drenching rain hit his body, yet his clothes were dry. Standing far away in a swath of muddy green and with mountain cliffs at his back, he seemed like a suddenly arisen bright moon.
He was a far distance away, but his expression was still the same, calm and unhurried. Logically speaking, even if he wanted to save Meng Fuyao now he would not have enough time; but the moment Meng Fuyao saw him, she felt a unreasonable sense of relief, as if the life and death calamity in front of her had become unworthy of her fear. The corner of her mouth couldn't help but lightly lift up.
Meng Fuyao's smile had not yet fully expanded, when she saw the formerly still and far away Yuan Zhaoxu give her a grin.
Before the grin could fade away, he suddenly moved.
This one movement was like a thunderclap, destroying jade mountains and causing avalanches. An incandescent, roiling turbulence sprinted over the flat ground, formidably stirring up a vast portion of the night rainstorm. The unparalleled shockwave of power stripped the ground of trees and grass, all of which uprooted in a "hua la la" sound and coiled upwards to form a wall, filling the entirety of one's vision with the dark green expanse that flew towards the huge enclosing net.
Yuan Zhaoxu flew sticking close to the ground, in a flash arriving in front of Meng Fuyao. With a stretch of his hand he pressed her down, a hand closely embracing her body while still continuing to fly forwards on the ground. With a flip of the other hand's sleeves, that tremendous agitation of powerful winds twisted and shattered the flying "plant wall". The branches and grass strands, mixed in with his true qi, became countless flying arrows, with loud whizzing sounds twisting through the air to meet the huge web. Only an endless whistling of collision could be heard, and in a blink of an eye the net was completely shredded into broken fragments by the blade-like leaves and branches, losing its form.
The final bits of the ominously glowing net fell to the ground, precisely landing in front of the feet of Yuan Zhaoxu, while behind him some remainders were soundlessly beaten into the mud by the falling rain.
Lightly smiling, Yuan Zhaoxu unhurriedly spread his two arms, looking at the woman sprawled underneath him.
"How do you feel, seeing me?" -----------
How do I feel?
Meng Fuyao blinked her eyes, staring upwards.
The overlooking Yuan Zhaoxu's unfathomably dark eyes held some humor in them, their gaze unreasonably entrancing like wine.
A mysterious light fragrance was given off, something even this unending downpour had no way of diluting.
Two pairs of eyes met, for a time no one speaking. Yuan Zhaoxu stopped teasing, and Meng Fuyao forgot to snap back a sarcastic reply. In this instant in the never-ending rain, right after the danger had passed, entrapped in Yuan Zhaoxu's unique aura, she forgot how to form words, and didn't know why she would want to either.
This person who seemed so far away, ever since that moment they met, had been close to her side. In only a short two hours, he had saved her twice already.
Meng Fuyao didn't even know why he wanted to help her.
She only gazed at him, a warm flow swirling in the depths of her heart. Her body that had become icy cold due to a night of raining and assassination, suddenly seemed to have a few degrees of warmth.
In only that instant of eyes meeting.
There was a thin strand of silk in the bottom of her heart, the strand long rusted due to many years of heartless erosion by winds of frost, and was almost severed because of that person's betrayal; in that moment of eyes intersecting, in between the howling turbulence of the storm and the peaceful stillness of their embrace, that strand began to lightly stir and connect again, sending out a thin yet shocking vibration sound.
It was as if hearing a thunderclap while in silence.
Meng Fuyao shook.
Her fingers all of a sudden tightly dug into the wet ground. The thorny undergrowth pierced her fingers, the pure white fingertips immediately squeezing out some round blood droplets that were quickly washed away by the pouring rain and absorbed into the black wet soil.
Meng Fuyao inhaled sharply, the shooting pain in her fingers causing her pupils to become lucid once again. Her next thought was to shrink back, but she only had time to move halfway. Yuan Zhaoxu, who was up until now staring fixedly at her, suddenly broke his gaze and reached out his arm to lift her up, and with a twist of his body they flew out together.
In his arms, Fuyao turned her head in astonishment, while Yuan Zhaoxu had already laughed, "You want to devote your body to me here? But I'm afraid of catching a cold."
His voice had a relaxed humor in them. From Fuyao's angle, she couldn't see his expression, but judging from his tone he seemed to not be affected by that moment just now, giving her some relief. For some unknowable reason, however, hearing his indifference also gave her a bit of disappointment and hurt.
Then with a "pei" sound in her heart, Meng Fuyao silently cursed herself for being such a Qiong Yao . What was she doing! She was an old woman whose mental age was almost 40, what was she doing playing around with the struggles of affection?
She swiveled her head, wanting to drop down and leave Yuan Zhaoxu's close hug, but the caught unaware Yuan Zhaoxu pressed his fingers against her tightly to keep her in place, while softly saying, "Don't move."
The words had not yet faded away before, five zhang in front, countless numbers of black figures appeared out of the darkness, holding bows and nocking arrows in combat ready positions. When the forward-most black figure saw a person, he immediately loosed the bowstring and shot an arrow, the "weng" sound from the shot screaming continuously forwards. Another streak of phosphorescent lightning shot straight up from the ground, and following that a thicket of trees orderly flattened, forming a piece of empty land behind which were ten or so trees. Their upper halves were dark jade, while their lower halves were scraped of bark, revealing the dull white of the inner wood.
Seeing those trees and their pattern of arrangement, Meng Fuyao instantly thought of a Five Variation White Wood Array that the old Daoist had mentioned once before. Just when she wanted to shout at Yuan Zhaoxu to be careful, she actually saw him not even hesitate, with one point of his foot directly flying into the heart of the formation.
Yuan Zhaoxu's Qinggong skill was the highest of anyone Fuyao had ever seen. Even when holding another person his feet never touched the ground, light as a feather, so fast that she couldn't even stop him before in a blink they had reached the eye of the array.
Meng Fuyao's heart sank, only closing her eyes while silently calculating her body's position. According to what she had learned before, she planned to destroy the tree three steps to her left side first before anything else. The Five Variation White Wood Array had a myriad of transformations, with life and death possibly coming in an instant. She only had around 50 percent confidence to escape from the large formation's possibly concealed underground arrows and giant log presses, but no matter what, it would still be better than following Yuan Zhaoxu directly sprinting into a death trap.
However right before she moved, Yuan Zhaoxu suddenly shot out an unexpected flying kick, completely splitting the array center's giant tree in half and blowing it away. Amidst the roaring explosion, a "ka ka" mechanical spring noise began to rise up from the surroundings. With light whizzing noises something erupted out of the ground surface, almost like a thick cluster of wasps or a hurricane of conglomerated branches and leaves; the ominously gray patch tyrannically gusted towards them while tearing up the ground.
The cloud was consisted of the dark steel daggers hidden underneath the ground, piercing through the air along with the scattered flying rain and mud. The blades bounced and weaved in between the trees, unceasingly hitting trees at different angles, then in an instant reflecting off of the power of the collision in different directions. The daggers shot straight for the eyes, then the chest, and blades originally about to pierce into the back would then shoot straight up; thousands and tens of thousands of variations flashed by, with nowhere to hide.
Yet Yuan Zhaoxu never put this pressing situation of life or death in his eyes. In mid-air his robes flew, tumbled, and snaked, like gusts of fierce wind blowing storm clouds to drift, or like electricity twisting inside deep fog, sometimes seen and sometimes unseen. Silhouetting the dark heavens they lifted up, then sharply stopped, time and time again. Close by, air currents flew like unseen knives, each one splitting a tree that would take many to wrap their arms around. One could only see that in between the fluttering of his sleeves sonic booms would sound non-stop - every time he attacked, another tree would be halved. The sharp daggers and the human figure that penetrated between them flew past the gigantic tree trunks as fast as lightning and as light as feathers; every time the figure dodged the flying daggers, it flashed through the smallest of cracks that wouldn't even allow a strand of hair to slip through. He was clearly dealing with the most chaotic and unpredictable attacks, yet his movements were precise and exquisite, as if he had rehearsed this play countless times before.
He was like an immortal with incomprehensible powers, using rivers as string and lightning as the needle, weaving an impenetrable and wonderful picture on the complex brocade of the blue seas and eight wildernesses.
The huge trees were felled one by one, seemingly falling at random. Yet in reality every trunk dropped in a slightly different position, each tree resting higher than the other by a small height and impacting with changing amounts of force, every one coincidentally stacking on top of the previous tree trunk. With this fold by fold domino-like falling pattern, not one tree actually landed on the ground, and at the end, all the trees were resting in a mountainous hill-like structure. Those crazily shooting daggers also bounced off the covering tree structure with extraordinary accuracy, all of them rebounding downwards and neatly piercing back into the earth.
Exhaling a breath of cold air, Meng Fuyao almost forgot how to breath. She also knew how to break this formation, but she had never thought that there would actually be someone in this world who could break it with this kind of method. This type of breaking method that completely borrowed the array's strength to break it - just what extreme level of accuracy and frightening calculations would be needed? Those many trees, those uncountable flying knives and every knife's power and angle of rebound, required one to have a complete peak expert's grasp and calculation skill, to only then be able to land without the smallest injury. This kind of horrifying calculation, Fuyao thought that even a modern computer would take several seconds to process, let alone the Yuan Zhaoxu in the middle of the formation, facing almost-certain death from ferocious attacks from all sides!?
This, was this still a person?
The huge trees had all fallen, and the daggers had all rebounded into the ground. With a flip of his sleeve, Yuan Zhaoxu brought Meng Fuyao to fly directly outwards, his mid-air steps as if he were treading on flying clouds. With one leap he had already arrived at the highest tree's branch end, the large downpour of rainwater being deflected away by the flowing true qi around his body. While traversing the air his figure was straight, like a flying immortal.
His feet landed on the tallest tree canopy, but the leaves underneath didn't shake. Yuan Zhaoxu clasped his hands in a slight smile, proudly overlooking that crowd of ambushers whose hands were still on the bow, their arrows still nocked on the bowstring. Those people all were in their previous positions like they were solidly paralyzed in place, their mouths open wide in shock as they looked back at that godly male figure standing on the branches. After seeing how with an instant of hand and eye coordination he had completely destroyed their sect master's carefully set up, unbreakable white wood array; seeing how with a light traversing, he had used the most unbelievable and unthinkable method to pass through the array in a flash; seeing how not even a speck of dust was touched on his body, like entering that certain-death array was like entering an empty space, and seeing how the remote figure on the tree canopy was completely relaxed and unruffled, for a time they experienced an awe-inspiring dread, as if they had just seen a deity. How could they have still remembered to use their bows and fire their arrows?
Yuan Zhaoxu gave a faint grin then lifted up his sleeves in a flick. Those below neatly scattered, but for a moment didn't see anything. Then, they heard a long laugh sound in the air. Two black human shadows lithely shot out like electricity, drawing a long-lasting dark line through the mid-air rainwater. Those leaves and branches nearby were scattered into the air, trees were orderly parted to the sides, and the accumulated mud on the ground surface was gusted upwards by the gentle yet vast true qi, splattering in four directions. "Ka cha ka cha" sounds erupted one after the other, arrows twisted and the earth cracked, water surged and fire was extinguished, and in an instant, the remaining four Black Water, Yellow Earth, Raging Fire and Dark Metal formations behind the white wood array were broken through in procession.
The four formation's continuously triggered chains of traps and mechanisms randomly activated en masse, and at once killing not a small number of the guarding Profound Origin sect disciples. Amidst shocked cries, the crowd fled in even more chaos.
Their sprinting speed was too fast, and the wind violently howled. Meng Fuyao struggled to lift her head while in Yuan Zhaoxu's embrace, looking at the already unrecognizable large formations with a bit of pity. She also knew how to break through these arrays, but because the person above her head was too valiant, from start to finish she could only be a hero with no chance to show her talents. Bored out of her mind, she lazily played with Zhaoxu's robe lapels, then lazily let out a breath of air.
She heard Yuan Zhaoxu's voice dimly sound from above her head. When speaking his chest slightly trembled, knocking against her cheek that was stuck to his chest. The place where they touched was burning with temperature, gradually spreading to her whole body, and causing Meng Fuyao, who had ran here and there for a whole night and was already exhausted, to fuzzily become sleepy-headed.
" ... these formations are a little too shabby, how about we switch to another method of escaping ..."
Ok, let's escape, I'll drag you with me.
Meng Fuyao shut her eyes, and fell asleep.
1. Qiong Yao "琼瑶" was a very famous Chinese romance novelist in the 20th century.