Li Jiancheng wasn't the type of man to forget himself. His words were only superficially amiable; he was actually exerting pressure on Huang'er to try to crush her fighting spirit.
However, Huang'er's charming visage showed no hint of emotion.
"You people from Shura Retreat… do you only know how to flap your lips? If you're trying to show off your eloquence, then I must say that you've thoroughly failed at doing so." She flicked a cold glance at Li Jiancheng and spoke with equal frost.
The young lord of Shura Retreat felt his face freeze. He thought he had acted with gentility and style, but the girl before him would have none of it. Had he been trying to charm the blind the entire time?
Li Jiancheng was quite upset, upset enough to go on a rampage. Being treated like a fool by a pretty girl was one of the most infuriating things in life! He finally bristled with murderous intent. However, it was quickly replaced with a more malevolent rage.
Worthless whore, you're more of a glut for punishment than I thought. Fine, fine, fine! I'll utterly humiliate you in this match, and when Sacred Peafowl Mountain falls into destitution, you won't escape my grasp. I'll make you beg beneath me. We'll see how proud you are then!
Li Jiancheng almost wanted to spit those words out on the spot. Thankfully, he didn't forget his station as Shura Retreat's young lord. He could only keep such thoughts to himself. They would take on a whole new significance if he blurted them aloud.
However, Huang'er was a very astute girl. The evil gaze from the man opposite told her immediately what he was thinking. A look of disgust flashed across her clear eyes. "Li Jiancheng, Shura Retreat is challenging Sacred Peafowl Mountain's dominance. Since you're the challenger, you can go first," she declared dispassionately.
What? She's letting me go first? Li Jiancheng thought he was hearing things. Was the girl's brain malfunctioning? Or had she been cowed into submission by his intimidating aura?
"Hahaha, are you sure that you want me to go first?" To him, it was like hearing the funniest joke in the world. With a focused look, he exerted his emperor domain without reservation. The heavy aura rolled toward Huang'er provocatively. His thoughts were depraved enough to want to slam Huang'er to the floor on the spot and use his domain to ravish her.
Huang'er could only furrow her slender brow deeper at his frivolity. This man is so rude and flighty! I should listen to Brother Chen. I'll permanently cripple him if I have the chance. Such malicious thoughts came rarely into her mind. In fact, she suppressed this one too in the end. I can't do that. I just need to beat Li Jiancheng. Crippling him would be inappropriate.
She was attentive enough to remember that Jiang Chen was fighting Emperor Shura in the next round. If she crippled Li Jiancheng, the emperor would be furious. Wouldn't her Brother Chen feel the brunt of Emperor Shura's wrath, then?
Huang'er kept track of all the little details with ease. Despite her displeasure with Li Jiancheng, she didn't intend to deal too harshly with him.
Li Jiancheng didn't realize that the girl opposite him was thinking of how best to dump him. He was still under the delusion that she somehow feared him. Neither did he realize that he'd just had a close brush with disaster in Huang'er's mind.
Instead, he carried on his incoherent taunting. "I've never taken the first move against anyone in the younger generation here in Veluriyam Capital. Even if your so-called young lord Zhen takes the stage, I wouldn't do it to him. Do you know why that is, Miss Huang'er?"
Finally, he had an opportunity to brag. He wouldn't pass it up for the world.
"I'm not interested," said Huang'er emotionlessly.
"Because everybody knows that if I did so," cackled Li Jiancheng, "then my opponent wouldn't have a chance to even return the attack!"
This wasn't entirely a fabrication. Li Jiancheng's martial dao style was focused on excessive force. Anyone who lost their initiative against him was typically doomed to perpetual stress until they ran out of breathing room. It was quite likely to lose without having gotten a return hit in.
"Is that so?" Huang'er didn't bat an eyelash.
"You don't believe me, Miss Huang'er?" Li Jiancheng sounded like he was toying with his prey.
"It doesn't matter whether I do or not," Huang'er abruptly raised an eyebrow. "So I take it you want me to go first?"
"I usually don't fight female cultivators. It's not sporting of me, you see. Today is an unfortunate exception. This match is unavoidable. But even if I do have to fight, I have to maintain some decorum. You take the lead, Miss Huang'er. If you don't, you might not have another chance at me, hmm?"
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. Haha, an attack from a girl as pretty as you… How dazzling that sight would be, I wonder?" Li Jiancheng was being especially aggravating.
Huang'er remained unmoved, though there was finally a hint of annoyance between her eyes. She inclined her head a little. "If so, then prepare yourself."
Shura Retreat's young lord looked thoroughly relaxed, his expression a jesting one. "Yes. You'd better use everything you have, Miss Huang'er. Even tickling requires some force, wouldn't you agree? How about I let you have ten attacks first, would that be alright with you?"
"Three is enough," Huang'er declared coolly.
"Then three it is. Your wish is my command, Miss Huang'er. But, and this is just what I think, wouldn't ten be a bigger gesture of sincerity?"
An inkling of derision played at the corner of Huang'er's mouth. "You're thinking too much. I'm saying that if I don't defeat you in three attacks, then you can take this round home."
Because she hadn't lowered her voice when she'd said this, most thought that they had misheard something. What was she saying? If Li Jiancheng could take three of her attacks, then he would win?
Sacred Peafowl Mountain's supporters were no less perplexed than everyone else.
"What did Miss Huang'er just say?" Cloudsoar Monarch was flummoxed as he looked in confusion towards his fellow daoists.
"She… I think she said she's going to crush Li Jiancheng in three attacks? That is what she's trying to say, isn't it?" Wildfox Monarch was uncertain.
"That sounds about right." Plumscore Monarch glanced at Huang'er's sleek figure onstage ponderously, as perturbed by the statement as anyone else.
Jiang Chen's criticisms shortly prior deferred any premature assessments of their own. They didn't dare express any remotely pessimistic indication.
Emperor Peerless looked toward Jiang Chen. "Did I hear her correctly? Miss Huang'er said that she's going to take care of Li Jiancheng in three attacks?"
"Don't be so doubtful," chuckled Jiang Chen. "She did say that, yes. Li Jiancheng is too arrogant. Perhaps she wants to teach him an unforgettable lesson on proper morals."
"But…" The monarchs choked down the pile of follow-ups they had. There was no room for them to say any of it.
Over on the other side, Emperor Shura's eyebrows squared up. He was much more experienced than Li Jiancheng. Huang'er's words had stunned him for a moment, then made his heart skip a beat.
She wanted to defeat Li Jiancheng in three attacks? If those words had come from any other young genius in Veluriyam Capital, Emperor Shura would've thought that they'd gone mad. As Li Jiancheng's master, he perfectly understood the extents of his student's abilities.
Young lord Zhen was probably the city's brightest star, but even he would have a hard time pushing his chances over fifty-fifty. It was probably more likely for Li Jiancheng to win. Was the girl's martial dao as uncommon as her appearance?
The emperor's initial reaction was complete disbelief. But, he remembered, Sacred Peafowl Mountain's people rarely boasted without reason. They typically said nothing that they couldn't personally accomplish. An uncomfortable prospect inexplicably streaked across his mind.
"As contemptuous as young lord Zhen is! Has she been brainwashed by that kid? She doesn't understand that there should be a limit to conceit." Emperor Vastsea judged her far more simply. His dislike of her was clear. He fully believed that she was making things up. Even he wouldn't necessarily guarantee to be able to beat Li Jiancheng in three moves. Li Jiancheng was Shura Retreat's young lord, after all. He had access to many powerful treasures.
Li Jiancheng was still trying to wrap his mind around what she'd just said. It took a long while for him to realize that the beauty before him was thoroughly expressing her contempt.
He smiled in spite of his anger. "Miss Huang'er, it seems that you don't understand me very well. Neither do I you, for that matter. I thought I was the craziest one for miles, but you're definitely crazier. If you're trying to imitate me, congratulations!"
"A man shouldn't waste so much air," Huang'er shook her head. "Did Emperor Shura teach you that skill?"
Li Jiancheng wasn't someone easily provoked by a pretty girl, but today was an exception. He'd been despised by plenty of people before, but a girl as good-looking as her? This was a definite first.
"Alright, alright, alright!" The young lord of Shura Retreat made no effort to hide his viciousness any longer. "I think I've given you enough courtesy, woman. It seems that you're not interested, so you shouldn't fault me for demolishing you very shortly. Prepare to be humiliated!"
Countless hideous ideas flickered across his heart. "Do your worst. I said I'd let you take three shots at me, so here you are!" he shouted callously.
Huang'er was at the end of her patience with the talkative man. She nodded in acknowledgement, then stepped a delicate foot forward. She spread a snowy palm into empty air. A galaxy seemed to be spreading itself across the center of her palm.
At the turning of her hand, the glittering cosmos formed itself into a blue vortex. The ripples it created in space were as chaotic as those from a genuine windstorm. With an opening and closing of her fingers, the vortex filled the space entirely, spreading out into every corner. It enveloped Li Jiancheng in only a second!