Book 2: The Infinite Heart
Chapter 16 (Part A) - Your Heart, My Heart
As the hazy field of view flickered, everything seemed sunk underneath massive waves, turning even more dream-like and unstable. In the swaying scene there was a half-undressed man who gripped his bloodied fists, savagely grinning as he came over.
That grin was like a beast or ghoul, wicked and icy. That face was slanted, those eyes were flat, that wide gaping mouth was like a black hole, in which sharp white teeth glinted with light.
The quiet weeping of the woman behind her was very irritating. Fuyao struggled to reach out a hand. Pulling out the needle on the nape of her neck, she suddenly stabbed out behind her.
The crying immediately stopped, while the man opposite showed astonishment, saying, "You can still move?" Not hesitating anymore, he strode forward with large steps. First, he picked up Qiao Ling from Fuyao's back and threw her aside, then grabbed onto Fuyao and carried her horizontally. With a kick aimed at the wall, the building wall instantly shifted in a rumbling noise, revealing a secret room. He then carried Fuyao inside.
Meng Fuyao's mind drifted in and out, yet strangely she didn't completely lose consciousness. She vaguely smelled a faint herb fragrance. The scent was sharp and stimulating, traversing her muddled brain like a keen sword. Those star fire-like fragments of consciousness that had scattered in different directions immediately began to revolve and coalesce once more, like sand trickling into a tower, congealing and piling up, gradually piecing together a completed blueprint.
The sound of ripping cloth suddenly met her ears, after which she felt a chill on her chest. A pair of burning hot hands that smelled like blood moved closer, touched her skin, and shivered.
Guo Pingrong didn’t know of Meng Fuyao’s change in state. His bloodshot eyes stared desperately at the spring scene in front of him. The disguise on Fuyao’s face had already been wiped off, revealing the beautiful features that he had caught only a glimpse of that night. Long eyelashes trembled lightly and the color of her lips was full like pomegranate blossoms. Guo Pingrong’s gaze slowly slid down … with the young girl’s front robes being torn, her snowy skin seemed to be a few degrees brighter than even the snowfall outside, yet still holding a type of icy jade sheen that mere snow was lacking. One could sense the softness and aroma of a virgin just by looking. With a caress of his bloodied hands fresh blood stained on pure white. When the shocking delicate beauty of the scene met the eyes, it was like seeing red leaves gently falling off a tree branch - like a pitiful, submissive enticement, begging to be savagely deflowered.
This kind of silent invitation was the most effective at arousing a man's bestial nature and wild desires. Guo Pingrong gave a low growl, waving his hand to extinguish the candles in the room, before lowering himself down, panting.
With the sudden dimming of inside light, the room seemed even more cramped and narrow. Someone lit an uncommonly seen light purple-colored lamp outside the room. A bit of faint mauve light shone out from a crack behind the wall.
Fuyao suddenly shuddered.
A claustrophobic space … a purple glow shining from a crevice … this scene was so foreign yet so familiar, as if a long, long time ago she had seen this every day …
As if a heavy sword had savagely cleaved through her mind, an incredible pain passed through her consciousness in a flash, and her already swaying vision shook heavily. Amidst the churning of heavens and earth, a long past event, deeply buried and sealed in the farthest corners of her mind, was slightly uncovered. Scenes flickered past … a narrow, constricted space … a purple palace lantern hung in the distance … a middle-aged uncle's lascivious smile … a blue veiny hand reaching towards her body …
Like a nightmare the events of the past replayed themselves and awoken hidden sealed memories. Her last strand of scattered awareness finally returned, and some sparks of long-awaited grief and rage were instantly set ablaze. Inside her was scorched by fire yet frozen by ice. Her whole body's true qi gathered into her dantian and surged, charging upward like a river breaking its dikes, as if it wanted to explode out of her chest!
Meng Fuyao suddenly shot up and raised her head. A mouthful of fresh blood spurted out, then showered down like rain, falling onto Guo Pingrong's head and body.
Guo Pingrong scrambled up in shock, holding his pants as he hurriedly retreated. He looked at Fuyao in astonishment. No matter how he hard thought, he still couldn't understand how Meng Fuyao was able to break through and recover from the paralysis of his "Sealing Soul Needle"!
With a leap Fuyao got up, while blood rain dropped down. In the burning red her anger also rose up like raging flames. She lowered her head to look at the disarray her frontside clothes were in, then immediately looked back, staring at Guo Pingrong.
Her stare held bleak ice yet blistering fire, like a resurrection lily amidst scorching flames, emitting an aura of death and destruction that belonged to the opposite riverbank of the Yellow Springs. Her gaze's expression formed metal chains that shackled Guo Pingrong's soul in an instant, then tied it to hellfire and transformed it into dust!
Being stabbed by those eyes, Guo Pingrong actually felt sweat trickling down his back, and he instinctively unsheathed his sword and backed up three steps.
Even he didn't know the reason why he backed up. Despite the young girl's martial arts clearly being unable to threaten him, in this instant her gaze was absolutely terrifying. He had never seen this type of piercing keenness, as if just those eyes alone could kill him!
No, that wasn't right. He had actually seen it once, many years ago. When the His Highness the young Crown Prince was listening to a report, he had also once revealed an expression that looked exactly like now, causing the him at the time to feel his legs go soft …
Many years later, under another person's gaze, he unexpectedly saw this kind of boundless killing intent yet again!
Guo Pingrong slashed out. The starting move of his world-famous "Starry Brilliance Sword Arts" had just been displayed, before he saw Fuyao in front of him, her dark hair scattered, suddenly charge forward like an enraged tiger.
As she shot over, the roiling true qi surrounding her body pushed over the furniture inside the room and sent the drapes flying. With a "pa" sound, the candles stuck on candle dishes on the table were orderly shattered! In the darkness the drapes twisted with a howl, while Meng Fuyao flew over like a black cloud. Grabbing a stool on the way she hatefully smashed it down towards Guo Pingrong's head!
Guo Pingrong's pupils instantly shrank to needles - when did this girl's martial skill rise to this level? This attack actually held a heaven-breaking, earth-splitting power!
Only, how could the disciple of one of the top ten masters flinch from this, and how could he fear the rage-fueled strike of a woman?
Guo Pingrong's long sword furiously carved out a stretch of shockingly huge waves, layer after layer solidifying into a person-tall crystal wall, rising up in front of him. At the same time, with a slight "chi" sound, a razor-thin line split through the crystalline wall and directly cut towards Fuyao's bare front.
The whole universe's star light flowed into a shining line, moving faster than comets sweeping through the sky, as the heavenly brilliance stretched as far as the eye could see.
Even as the starry glow encompassed Fuyao, she let out a huge shout.
Her wrist flung out, and a streak of azure light brightened. In the blink of an eye her wrist became cast from jade, and as the radiant jade color grew strengthened, it seemed like an indestructible azure pestle.
"Breaking Nine Heavens" fifth layer, "Resplendence!"
The true breakthrough that Fuyao usually couldn't achieve, under today's intense stimulation, finally exploded out with her unrestrained full power. Her forearm immediately swept out crushing all before it. In one swift motion it shattered Guo Pingrong's steel-like light barrier, directly grasping towards his throat.
Guo Pingrong grunted out and blocked Fuyao with a horizontal sword. Nimbly leaping up, he changed sword movements instantly. Weaving out countless threads of sword shadows like drawing silk off a cocoon, he quickly wrapped Fuyao into a bind.
The two people were soon drawn into a battle. Within the dim interior there was no sword wind, no curses, no chairs falling or objects breaking; even the low bellows from the start could not be heard anymore. Only the vague scene of two streaking shadows flashing back and forth could be seen. Only the whistles of overly-swift movements darting through the air could be heard. And, only the scattered odor of sweat and fresh blood could be smelled.
It was a desperate, soundless struggle. Those slender figures were forced back time by time, then leaped up and rushed forward time and again. The mind of Meng Fuyao, who had just broken the shackles of her muddled past nightmares, was almost completely blank. Her only strand of thought was: to destroy him! To destroy the memories that I feared!
The thirtieth bout … the hundredth bout … the three hundredth bout!
Sweat oozed out of Guo Pingrong's forehead, reflecting light in a patch.
This woman is insane!
He had never seen anyone fight like this, never seen someone who could disregard everything to fight!
From their battle until now Fuyao had left seven bloody wounds on his body, while he had left fully twelve sword wounds on hers!
He had painstakingly cultivated his muscles and tendons since youth, and his age was much older than Fuyao's. The wounds Fuyao gave him were still not enough to restrict his movements, but his sword, even if it just lightly brushed past, would cause Fuyao to scatter out a cloud of bloody mist!
It was only because of this that the more Guo Pingrong fought on, the more his heart shook. He was familiar with a person's pain threshold. When he struck, it was always at the most painful joints. A normal person, under these vile sword wounds, would have long lost the ability to fight. Yet, this slightly skinny young girl could actually explode with such powerful attacks, and possess such tenacious steadfastness!
What made him even more astonished, was that his opponent became more invigorated the more she battled, yet he became weaker the longer time went on! It wasn't that his mentality was lesser, but rather his strength that was faltering! Only now did he realize, the purpose of that shameful drawing was far more than just enraging him to attack the picture and injure his hand - an even deeper objective was to exhaust his true qi.
His cultivation technique traveled the Dao of unyieldingness, and any extremely yang or extremely ying skills would result in qi deviation. Being infuriated again and again, as well as the evil intentions that arose in his heart earlier, caused his true qi to unwittingly travel down the wrong path. After the swift back and forth, his situation was becoming bleaker and bleaker.
This girl was exceedingly formidable, actually managing to assess his inner techniques just from receiving his one arrow! To be able to calculate his personality and every action - arriving prepared, with every step laid out!
Guo Pingrong's aura gradually retreated, shock in his eyes. Meng Fuyao only laughed coldly.
What could this amount of injury count for?
If a person began to endure never-ending beatings and training ever since they were five; crawled through the mountain valley's corrosive mud every day and night just to fight to the death with wild beasts; buried oneself in a gulley just to cultivate the pure true qi of "Breaking Nine Heavens"; and even ate earthworms in extreme hunger, how could this bit of pain count for a fart's worth?
For unparalleled cultivation techniques, only by combating experts, hovering in the boundary between life and death, could one make a breakthrough the easiest!
What could a mere first-rate master count for?
As long as their martial body was thoroughly investigated, and they were fed medicine tailored to act against them, even a master could be attacked at their weak points and cruelly struck down!
Today I will take your blood and your sword, to consolidate a further boundary!
The fifth hundredth bout!
The blood-drenched Meng Fuyao suddenly rushed forward. Thrusting out her arm sideways, she used her own limb to block a sword strike from Guo Pingrong!
The long sword pierced through her elbow and passed out underneath. As the sword tip collided with bone, it let out a back-crawling friction sound.
Guo Pingrong couldn't avoid being shocked by this crazy coldblooded move to block his sword with flesh and blood.
In only that short moment of hesitation, Meng Fuyao wouldn't give him the chance to withdraw his sword. She suddenly stepped sideways with a twist of her pierced arm. The long sword inside her arm immediately bent out almost 180 degrees, and with a "kacha" sound it abruptly split apart!
The broken sword flew up into the air as the fresh blood on its steel splattered everywhere. In a jump Fuyao flew into the air like a phoenix. She raised her head and shot out a piercing howl from her mouth, clear like a phoenix cry, drilling through the clouds like thunder that could reach the heavens. Inside the sound waves could even be seen a bright jade glow. In midair, Fuyao stomped out and launched the broken sword piece directly towards Guo Pingrong's lower body!
The bloodstained sword light flew like lightning, flashing in Guo Pingrong's appalled, endlessly magnified pupils. Realizing Fuyao's intent, he gave a strange, horrified yell, scrambling up with utmost haste like a rocket.
Unfortunately, he was already too late.
The severed sword shard shot past Guo Pingrong's lower half, while in midair he used all his strength to desperately twist. A quiet swish sounded. A thin line of blood shone as it stretched out, bringing along with it a fleshy object as it flew out of his body.
Guo Pingrong tumbled down from his leap and flopped on the ground like a dying fish. He reached out a trembling hand that was clutching his pant crotch, showing that the palm was covered in fresh blood.
Meng Fuyao, however, silently complained to herself, "Damn! Only got one egg!"
Hefting the sword, she wanted to give him another slice, but before she even took a step her mind fell into a daze and she stumbled. She knew that once she lost too much blood, she would be unable to muster enough energy to kill.
Unsteadily walking over, she lifted the sword, preparing to slowly give Guo Pingrong a cut. If he struggled they would just have to fight another battle.
Suddenly a drawn-out, heralding cry came from the distance.
"The Crown Prince has arrived!"
That announcement was clearly made far away, yet some footsteps quickly came closer. They sounded like those of a martial expert, so light they made almost no noise, and they arrived nearby in an instant.
Fuyao lurchingly turned her head back. At this moment her whole body was soaked in blood and sweat, and she had long lost all energy, her mind existing in a half-conscious state. The drug that was on that needle was also beyond her expectations and preparations, even somewhat affecting her mental ability. She had only vaguely heard the last two words of the announcement. Furthermore, from the nearing footsteps she felt as if an irresistibly powerful master was nearing, and even more people would be surrounding the area.
Forcefully stamping her feet, Fuyao sucked in some air, then rushed off the ground. She kicked aside the secret chamber door and leaped out from the back window.
At almost the same time her figure vanished out the window, the chamber door was opened again by someone. A stream of daylight shone in from outside the door - the sun had risen.
With the daylight came surging in two uniform-dressed guards. They were unlike the typical princely residence guards: these guards had cold expressions and piercing gazes, and when standing there not a trace of aura escaped. With one look they could be recognized as high skilled.
On their bodies were adorned azure gilded ruyi talismans, which had the two seal script characters "Shangyang" engraved upon them.
They were the exclusive guards of the Infinite Crown Prince's Shangyang Court, the renowned "Shangyang Riders".
These elite soldiers, who usually wouldn't take care of mundane matters, had actually come as a whole detachment today. Upon their arrival, the residence soldiers were all scattered to the side and watched carefully. The rest of the squad entering the ceremonial hall, quickly finding the secret room, then lining up in orderly rows by the door, bowing in unison.
Snow fell for the entirety of last night, causing the day to already brighten by the fourth watch sunrise. Looking out from inside the hall, the glittering trees in the courtyard were pure white like cotton, with the speckled red plum blossoms like blood.
On the snowy ground, in the middle of the crowd of soldiers, steadily strode over a slender figure. His steps didn't seem fast, yet in the blink of an eye he had already reached nearby. Light indigo with grey-white dragon trimmed long robes drifted quietly. He wore a silvery fox coat brighter than the snow, and a pure warm-colored jasper belt, the mild jade color suddenly painting a bit of spring onto the snow-covered scenery.
The man walking over, despite half his face being obscured by a mask, had hair like ebony and a face like jade. The pair of pupils, matching with the gleaming fur tips of the silver fur coat, seemed deep like the sea, and their sparkling tides able to peer straight through to one's soul.
When they saw this man, those prideful and aloof Shangyang soldiers all respectfully gave deep bows.
The most prominent figure of this era, the emperor among dragons, the one who enjoyed the nation's highest love and esteem; the one who dictated national affairs at fifteen, who led the Infinite Empire to become powerful and renown among the Seven States; the one who even the loftiest leaders of the Seven States held in awe and fear, not daring to provoke: Crown Prince Zhangsun.
Zhangsun Wuji.Footnotes Resurrection Lily/equinox flower/red spider lily: flower often associated with death and the Yellow Springs, the Chinese underworld river. "Shangyang" 上阳literally means "above sun"