Book 1: Winds Begin to Blow in Tai Yuan
Chapter 5 - Figure Inside the Moon
An ashen crescent moon overlaid the deep blue sky. The moonlight was cold and gloomy, shining on a dark-green mountain forest.
A sound traveled through the branches of the forest, rustling the leaves in a half-whistle and half-moan. From some unknown, remote mountaintop came a mournful wolf's howl, containing a forest-trembling hunter's aura. It penetrated the vast starry expanse, through the hulking mountain bodies, and into a shackled person's ears in a mountain cave.
The cave was dark and wet, covered in moss, and was narrow but deep. When passing through the cave entrance, the wind sounded like distant ghost wails. Deep within the cave there was a slight white glimmer; on closer inspection, it was only a pale limb bone.
Meng Fuyao was curled up on the moist ground, her clothing ragged, her whole body covered with wounds.
She had already been locked in Profound Origin's secret prisoner's dungeon for almost seven days.
That day, after her intense battle, Lin Xuanyuan had actually disregarded his stature to sneakily scatter fainting powder to knock her out. In a snap, he actually sent out one palm to hit her flying, then, in front of the crowd, denounced her for "stealing my sect's hidden techniques". The mass of disciples came to a "sudden realization", and started insulting Fuyao the "secret teachings robber"; after which Lin Xuanyuan threw her into this cavern.
In these seven days Lin Xuanyuan came daily, interrogating her background and demanding she give up the sword techniques she used that day against the black-clothed youth.
As things were present-day, martial strength was king. An unrivaled technique was of utmost importance and uniquely attractive to an influence. Lin Xuanyuan's eyes were experienced and cunning, and he had seen from the very beginning that the sword art that girl disciple who liked to act unassuming was utilizing, was at its roots an unparalleled technique; despite the fact that her low cultivation didn't allow her to perfectly display its potential, he knew he had to get his hands on that sword art.
Meng Fuyao could only clench her teeth and admit defeat. She knew that old dog was too cunning; with only a couple words, he had already turned the sword art into his "secret technique". That the future Profound Origin sect would obtain another powerful technique was only a matter of course, and the final outcome of her, the "losing party" of the exchange, would only be extermination.
Fuyao didn't want to die here; she still had many important matters to attend to.
However, when her body was heavily wounded with strict punishment and interrogation time and time again, plus the complete lack of food, how was she supposed to survive?
Meng Fuyao gasped for air with difficulty, and peeked through the stone array sealing her at the cave entrance. Gazing at the moonlight yonder, the color of the moon made her blink her bloodshot eyes. It seemed as if the light was even more bewitching and vague, far away and unable to be touched.
That unrestrained moonlight, that moonlight that covered the entire Five Regions Continent, that shined before the pillow of that wretched old dog, yet couldn't reach the wallowing darkness in which her body had lain for seven days and seven nights.
The corner of her lips had the slight upturn of a bitter smile. Meng Fuyao closed her eyes, sensing that the majority of the true qi within her body had already evaporated into nothingness. Her "Breaking Nine Heavens" technique, which should have been cultivated to the peak of the third layer, today met with a disastrous fall by more than half. A year's worth of hard cultivation, all completely wasted.
According to her old Daoist master, "Breaking Nine Heavens" was a peak martial art that could shake the ancients and shock the present, capable of dumbfounding the whole world. The higher one cultivated the harder it would become; after arriving at the ninth layer it could even be said that one would reach the heavens with one step. Meng Fuyao snubbed her nose when she heard this, believing that it was 80% likely that the stubborn old Daoist was bullshitting. However, this technique's difficulty was real - she had cultivated diligently for ten years and had only arrived at the third layer, yet even this speed was already enough for that old Daoist to laud her as a rare genius. Now that she had dropped an entire layer, Meng Fuyao naturally felt extreme unwillingness.
The night grew darker. An almost imperceptible sound of water dripping gently began to sound inside the cave.
Struggling to crawl upright, Meng Fuyao little by little began to drag herself over. The fine iron shackles knocked together with clanking sounds, and it took a long time before she finally arrived at the side of the rock walls.
Heavily falling against the wall, the straining Meng Fuyao ignored the wetness of the rocks, sticking her cheek tightly against the stone wall that was lightly leaking out water. Drop by drop she waited for that life-saving water source.
These seven days, she had depended on this tiny water seep that appeared at the same hour in the middle of the night to live on.
After drinking a couple gulps of water and wheezing for air, Meng Fuyao felt her face, realizing that the fake scars on her face had already been washed away by the water. This didn't matter much however, no one would be coming here anytime soon anyways.
With her thirst quenched, her spirit also lifted a little. Fuyao leaned on the wall, inadvertently looking at the outside of the cave. At once, she focused her eyes.
In front was a jutting, solitary cliff, like a knife's edge that was carved out by celestials, protruding out diagonally from the mountain body. The curved light silver moon directly hung under the sheer cliff, round and bright, like it was hooked by the sharp point of the precipice.
The lunar light held a deep chill yet also a smooth caress. In the bright moon by the mountain peak, there was a person twirling in a flying sword dance.
The person's robes were long and danced wildly, blown by the mountain wind. Amidst the high drifting clouds and light mist of the summit they seemed to be ephemeral and in the Ninth Heaven1. The high-floating person's raising of hands and casting of feet were eye-catching and energetic; the long sword elegantly flew in a cloud-trimming and moon-carving meander. Despite the scene seeming like a distant mirage, it held a untamed, free-floating aura, like the appearance of spirit-fleshed and jade-boned immortals.
A pearl falling onto a jade surface; immortal scenery gently swaying a boat; a myriad of types of scenery, all stirringly beautiful, yet all fell short of this lunar sword dance. It was swift and graceful at the same time, with boldness coexisting with charm.
A river of stars flowed infinitely, and the glowing moon was enveloped in an icy haze. The dusky shadows of the sword dance contrasted with the white jade moon, vibrant like a painting, while with sword in hand, the person exemplified dignity, flowing like the wind.
Without knowing, Meng Fuyao had already been entranced.
Thus, when from the cave opening a narrow, oblique shadow covered the ground, and a slight sound of a person quietly walking steadily grew closer, she did not realize for a time.