Su Chan knew something was wrong the moment she saw Yundong flinch . What happened? What in Tao's name happened? Su Chan zoomed in with her eyes . Yundong's face was twisted in pain, and he kept blinking his eyes . Grr! That pesky old man must have done something to Yundong's eyes!
Yundong's knees hit the ground .
The old man was now moving, though he appeared to be limping .
Yundong was still kneeling on the ground, doing nothing to defend himself .
Xianjue, Yundong! Xianjue!
With Xianjue, it was still possible for Yundong to dodge the old man's attacks even though he couldn't see . But why wasn't Yundong standing up to defend himself? Staying in a kneeling position would impair his mobility and compromise his defense .
Argh! No use worrying about this now . I have to go help him!
Su Chan sprang to her feet . But then she stopped . She turned back around . Zhou Qin was staring back at her grimly .
"Go," Zhou Qin said with a nod . "Go help him, I'll be okay . I'll call the cops and go check on the others . " Zhou Qin jerked her chin towards the students who were cowering in fear near the long vehicle .
Su Chan nodded and returned her gaze to the old man . Footsteps sounded behind her; Zhou Qin was already running towards the car . Su Chan wasn't sure who these "cops" were supposed to be, but she didn't care .
Maybe they were the same men who wore those strange badges .
The old man stopped moving . He crouched down . Blood spilled from the old man's mouth, and he broke into a coughing fit .
For a moment there, Su Chan thought the old man had given up . But then the coughing stopped, and the old man rose to his feet again . Determination flashed inside his eyes as he wiped the blood off the corner of his mouth with the sleeve of his robe .
Then, the old man started limping towards Yundong again .
"Yundong!!!!" Su Chan yelled . She tried to switch on her Xianjue's clairvoyant mode, but cursed when she realized that the old man was out of her range . Only Yundong's Xianjue had that kind of insane range .
Su Chan's legs moved, propelling her towards Yundong .
She had barely taken two steps before something made her stop .
Wait a minute… Is he…
Yundong had let his hands drop limply to his sides . Su Chan zoomed in with her eyes, focusing on Yundong's face . He was no longer blinking . His eyes were closed, and there was a tranquil look on his face .
The penny dropped when Su Chan noticed the state of Yundong's hair, which was standing upright .
Oh, clever, clever Yundong…
Su Chan zoomed out, her eyes darting around as she searched desperately for Zhou Qin's whereabouts .
Yundong was bridging the Three Gates just like she'd taught him last time . He knew that a frontal attack was coming, so he was trying to create distance . Forcing his opponent away to keep himself outside of his opponent's striking range . That way he wouldn't have to dodge or parry at all .
Great combat instincts .
She found Zhou Qin seconds later .
Zhou Qin was beside the long vehicle, helping two girls to their feet .
But that's in the direct line of—
Su Chan's gaze snapped towards Yundong .
Yundong was now on his feet .
She zoomed in .
White steam rose from the top of his head
Uh-oh . . . .
Su Chan sprinted towards the car as fast as her legs could carry her . "Back away from the car!!!" Su Chan yelled at the top of her lungs .
Zhou Qin, along with several other students near the car, froze .
"Get away!!!" Su Chan waved her arms wildly .
Su Chan reached the car in record time . She dove for Zhou Qin and grabbed her arm .
Then, Su Chan scurried away from the car, dragging Zhou Qin with her . As they moved, Su Chan swiveled her head and looked towards Yundong . The old man had finally reached Yundong and was about to launch another Shadowless kick .
Yundong cocked his fist back .
"Down!" Su Chan yelled, pulling Zhou Qin to the ground .
The moment they both hit the ground, the air in front of Yundong exploded in a soundless clap . The old man did some weird acrobatic move at the last second—he twisted his body sideways while jumping backwards .
A powerful shockwave blasted a straight path from Yundong towards the long car, hurling the old man away like a rag doll . A loud, metallic crunch sounded followed by the sound of glass shattering . The car skidded sideways, producing an ear-piercing screech which lasted for seconds on end .
Then it was over . Silence fell .
The smell of burnt rubber assaulted Su Chan's nose . She glanced towards the ruined car . All of its windows were shattered, and the dent in the middle of its body was so great that the car appeared slightly bent lengthwise . Several dark lines marked the pavement, no doubt left behind by the car's rubber wheels when they were sliding across the concrete .
"Stay down," Su Chan whispered to Zhou Qin .
Su Chan climbed to her feet and sprinted towards Yundong .
To her surprise, the old man was still standing even though he had been blown away by the shockwave earlier . His dark robe, however, was now torn apart with pieces of it still floating in the air .
Su Chan's footsteps echoed as she ran . The moment she got close, Yundong stiffened and started backing away from her .
"Who's there!" he said and got into a fighting stance .
He still can't see…
Su Chan immediately stopped running . "It's me, beloved . It's me . "
Yundong's posture relaxed . "S- Su Chan?"
Su Chan closed the remaining distance between them . "Yes, I'm here now, beloved . Let me see your eyes . "
Yundong lowered himself to the floor with a loud groan .
Su Chan crouched down and flipped open one of his eyelids .
"The bastard went for my eyes . . . " Yundong grumbled . "I dunno what he did . But it hurt like hell . I think it's that robe of his . "
"Rock dust . Sand," Su Chan said, lowering his eyelids . She made a sound of disapproval in her throat . "Must have sent it to your eyes with those air currents . Now hold still . Keep your eyes closed . "
Su Chan adjusted her posture so that her hands were hidden behind Yundong's body, away from the crowd's view .
Yundong tried to rub his eyes with his hands .
"Tsk! Don't rub your eyes," Su Chan said, slapping his hand . "Hands off!"
Yundong let his hands drop .
Su Chan shut her eyes and muttered an incantation for an extraction spell .
"What? I didn't catch that . You were whispering something," Yundong said .
A green glow appeared in Su Chan's hand .
''Nothing," Su Chan said . "Just hold still . "
Su Chan held her hand in front of Yundong's eyes .
Yundong sighed . "Much better…"
Seconds later, Su Chan withdrew her hand .
"Okay, you can open your eyes now . "
Yundong's lashes fluttered .
"Why didn't you use Xianjue?" Su Chan asked .
"Couldn't get it to work," Yundong said, blinking a few times . "Eyes hurt too much . "
Oh… Right .
"Can you see now?"
"Yeah . " Yundong wiped a stray tear with his sleeve .
"Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"No . Just the eyes . But the pain is gone…" Yundong stared at her . "What did you do?"
The sound of maniacal laughter stilled Su Chan's words . Slowly, she rose to her feet . "Up, Yundong . Quickly!" Su Chan held out her hand .
Yundong slid his hand into hers and she pulled him up .
"Damn it . I thought I had him for sure," Yundong said . "How the hell did I miss?"
Uh… Hello? Maybe because you couldn't see?
Su Chan bit back the snarky remark . Sheesh . All this stress must be getting to her .
Su Chan cleared her throat . "He was thrown away by the shockwave, but he dodged at the last second, so he didn't take the full brunt of it . "
The old man started clapping his hands .
"Wow . . . Wow!" the old man said, removing the rest of his tattered robe from his body . "I haven't had so much fun in years . Years! Hahahaha! Oh… This is going to be interesting!"
"Hahahahaha! Can you imagine? After spending so many years engaging in boring duels with hacks who claimed to be masters… And now, finally! Finally I found a worthy opponent!"
"Crazy son of a… Hey… Why is he ripping his shirt off? What the hell is he up to?" Yundong said .
The old man was now naked from the waist up . The way his ribcage was pushing out against his skin made him look like someone who hadn't eaten in weeks .
Su Chan narrowed her eyes . "I don't know . . . "
Su Chan scanned the area for the crowd .
Zhou Qin had done a superb job getting the injured students away from the damaged car .
Most of the students had already fled the scene while the old man was busy exchanging blows with Yundong . Those who remained were either unconscious or incapacitated somehow .
"Holy shit . . . Is the old bastard still planning to fight in his condition?" Yundong said .
Su Chan zoomed in on the old man's face .
The old man was still laughing like a loony . He looked like he was enjoying himself .
"Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . What's that thing in his hand?" Yundong whispered . "Did you see that?"
Su Chan zoomed out of the old man's face and focused on his hands instead . She managed to catch a glimpse of a flat, yellow object (a cloth? a piece of paper?) before the old man hid his hand behind his back . His other hand slid into the pocket of his pants as though to look for something .
"I knew there's something special about you, boy! I knew it!" The old man unleashed another round of laughter . "Looks like that kid wasn't lying when he told me that an expert Cultivator lives in this city!"
"Did he just… Shit! Su Chan!" Yundong hissed . "He mentioned Cultivator . He knows about us!"
Su Chan narrowed her eyes . Kid? Which kid told him about Yundong?
Was it Ruan Hongling?
The timeline fit .
Just yesterday, Ruan Hongling was at their door, speaking with Yundong . And one day later, this old man appeared out of nowhere to have a dust-up with Yundong?
But this man couldn't possibly be a Cultivator from the Zhengyi School . The Zhengyi School would never act so overtly, especially in a place crawling with mortals . Well, there was only one way to find out for sure . They had to get this old man to talk—
Hey . . . what's that smell?
Su Chan closed her eyes and sniffed the air a few times . Burning . Something was burning .
"Umm . . . Su Chan? He just threw something away . . . " Yundong said . "It's a lighter . . . And he's holding some kind of yellow paper in his hand . . . "
Su Chan's eyes shot open . A talisman!
He's casting a spell!
But what spell?
"And… the paper's gone . Burnt into ashes . What kind of sick game is this lunatic playing?"
"Hyaahhhhhh!!!!" The old man slapped his chest .
Yundong flinched .
"Yundong . . . Move your Qi to your legs," Su Chan said . "Prepare to run . "
"What! Run? Did you forget his threat earlier? He's gonna kill . . . "
Su Chan didn't hear the rest of Yundong's sentence . She was already tuning her Eryue to focus on the sounds coming from the old man's lips . Incantations . . . If it's a spell . . . It probably involves some kind of incantation . . . Come on, come on . . . Here we go!
" . . . Maoshan Jida Zhen Shengong . Bada Yuanshuai Xian Shentong! Hearken to me, O Great Celestial Lord of the Three Realms! Come to me! Show me your power! I offer you my body as a vessel . . . "
Su Chan's blood ran cold . No… No… It can't be…
She took Yundong's hand and gave it a sharp tug .
"Yundong, we have to go . Now!"
Yundong didn't budge .
"Yundong, come on!! We've gotta move!"
Yundong pointed a shaky finger at something in front of them .
Su Chan lifted her gaze .
The old man's body was now twitching and convulsing violently . The convulsions were accompanied by a series of crunching sound, like the cracking of knuckles, only ten times louder . His skin bulged and contorted as though his muscles were expanding from within . His face began to warp and shift as though a bunch of creatures were trying to crawl out from within his skull but was held back by the elastic layer of his skin . Spit and some kind of unknown fluid dripped to the ground . The old man's contorted mouth dropped open as he gurgled . More fluid spilled to the ground . Su Chan thought the fluid looked a lot like the contents of a person's stomach . A putrid smell filled the air a split second later . The old man's mouth gaped wider as his teeth shifted and rearranged themselves inside his oral cavity . His jaw engorged and shrunk in an erratic rhythm .
All of a sudden, the old man hunched over .
The crunching stopped .
When he rose to full height seconds later, he was no longer an old man . Instead, standing before them was a six-foot-tall man with the build of a tough warrior .