"Miss, my name is Qin Thirteen. If I've offended you anywhere, I do apologize first." As a man experienced in the ways of the world, Qin Thirteen was deft at reading people's emotions. Dan Fei's murderous intent had intimidated him into backing off. His tone softened in an attempt to gather information. He was unsure he would have any advantage by making the first move.
"Apologize?" Dan Fei's tone was cool. "Some crimes can't be merely apologized for."
Qin Thirteen grew serious. "Miss," he saluted with cupped fist, "I'm not some no-name. Elder Qiu in the Empyrean River Palace, of the Upper Eight Regions, is my uncle. I…"
"Enough." Dan Fei smiled placidly. "Me killing you has nothing to do with whether you're faous or not."
Qin Thirteen had never seen such a dogged opponent before. His expression turned frigid. "Miss, you have to make it clear to me why you want to kill me. Your mannerisms and ability tell me that you are a genius from a large sect. Are you one of the Ninesuns Sky Sect's or the Eternal Celestial Capital's? As I said, my uncle is an elder of the Empyrean River Palace. The Palace too is a first rank sect. Don't I deserve at least an explanation?"
"The Empyrean River Palace?" Dan Fei frowned a little. "What kind of place is that? Never heard of it."
Qin Thirteen was completely stunned. Could there be people in the human domain who'd never heard of the Empyrean River Palace? His brain fritzed out for a moment. He'd wanted to borrow the Palace's name to bring some pressure down the woman. It seemed that this idea had been very foolish. And yet, he wasn't sure whether the woman's ignorance was real or feigned.
Dan Fei really hadn't heard of the Empyrean River Palace. She'd solely focused on cultivation after being saved by Emperor Peafowl all those years ago and hadn't paid much attention to outside affairs.
"Miss, the Empyrean River Palace is one of the first rank sects in the Upper Eight Regions. One of the largest in the entire human domain." Qin Thirteen couldn't help his emphasis.
"Are you done talking already?" Dan Fei furrowed her brow.
Qin Thirteen was at his wit's end. "Woman," he blurted out angrily, "are you set on opposing me? On opposing the Empyrean River Palace?'
"You're overthinking things. I'm only here to kill you."
"How have I angered you? Even if I'm to die, I should at least die knowing why." Qin Thirteen sneered. "A piece of advice: don't push your luck. Otherwise, you'll bring shame upon yourself even if you're a genius from a large sect!"
Dan Fei's expression was cool. She pointed at the women below. "You cage up people like beasts for your own enjoyment. Does that not deserve death? Furthermore, you squat in the property of others. Twice the crime, twice the punishment."
"Hahaha, do you seek justice for these ordinary women? They're no better than animals." Qin Thirteen cackled loudly. "Their ant-like significances mean nothing in the eyes of real cultivators such as us. Don't you eat meat, miss?"
He found it quite amusing that she was intervening on these women's behalves. Was this woman really a first rank sect's genius? Suspicion crept into Qin Thirteen's mind.
Dan Fei sighed softly. "Just as you treat ordinary people like cattle, so too do I treat you. If you're allowed to kill them, why can't I kill you?"
Qin Thirteen was incensed at hearing this. "I'm a sage realm expert! How can you compare me to those people?"
"Are the lives of ordinary people not lives, too? What crimes have they committed?" Dan Fei's tone grew colder and colder.
"No crime but weakness. Who told them to be weak? Because they are weak, they deserve to live for our enjoyment." Qin Thirteen saw no problem in his reasoning. "Are you really the disciple of a large sect, miss?"
"Not at all," Dan Fei retorted coolly. "Not that I need to be one to kill you. It doesn't matter what you say, Qin Thirteen. You won't escape death today."
She was intent on cutting him down.
Not the disciple of a large sect? Qin Thirteen scrutinized Dan Fei once more, weighing the possibility of this revelation.
"What? You dare pilfer someone's property, but you don't have the courage to fight?" Dan Fei sneered.
"Pilfer someone's property? There was no previous owner. That's how it was when I came here. I don't understand what you're going on about." Qin Thirteen's eyes moved shiftily. "Are you related to this place, perhaps?"
"You talk too much." Dan Fei was done with the conversation. She raised her shortsword into the air, creating an atmospheric shift. A swish of the blade and a few afterimages was enough to propel her into Qin Thirteen's proximity.
Qin Thirteen's heart fell. He was both surprised and wary. Producing a black claymore, he sliced toward Dan Fei's torso. He was actually an earth sage realm cultivator. He presented himself to the public as an initial rank sage realm cultivator to hide his ability. To be more precise, he was fifth level.
In a large sect, someone with that kind of cultivation wasn't much. But in a place like Myriad Domain, especially a place as secluded as the sixteen kingdoms alliance, Qin Thirteen's cultivation made him a terrifying presence.
That was the reason he had been able to retain control of the Precious Tree Sect's grounds for so many years unchallenged. Larger sects didn't care about the land and smaller factions couldn't compete with him. Moreover, his relation to the Empyrean River Palace's Elder Qiu intimidated a fair number of people.
Unfortunately, trading blows with Dan Fei told him that though the woman wasn't necessarily higher level than him, her methods were more than a match for his.
Their weapons clashing created a shower of sparks.
With a malicious bark of laughter, Qin Thirteen brought his claymore down on the side residence below. There were a few dozen ordinary women within. If they were hit by the blade aura, they would be made into instant mincemeat.
Angered by Qin Thirteen's actions, Dan Fei hurtled downward after the blade aura, raising her shortsword to block the attack with a gust from her own weapon. Her body was pushed back by the exchange, dropping another few yards.
"Tsk tsk, what a goody-two-shoes girl. It seems that you really do care about these mortal ants. Why don't you stay to keep them company?"
The blows traded so far were enough for Qin Thirteen to have some confidence in his ability to win against the woman. Her concern for the ordinary women below would be her downfall. This was a golden opportunity for him. If he could use this to his advantage, it was very possible to win and even capture the woman.
Dan Fei's beauty and potential connection to Precious Tree Sect made Qin Thirteen thoughtful. She had said herself that she wasn't some large sect's disciple, no?
He'd been cautious with his conduct because she seemed like a genius from a first rank sect. He didn't dare offend her too much, lest she be pushed too far. But since new information had come to light that she wasn't as strong as a first rank sect's true disciple, he began to have some other ideas.
His prudence turned into malice.
When Dan Fei had departed from Skylaurel Kingdom all those years ago, she'd only been spirit realm. She had advanced a fair bit after Emperor Peafowl's rescue; he'd taught her and purified her body, stimulating her body's latent cultivation potential.
She hadn't improved with nearly the same kind of terrifying quickness as Jiang Chen's, but she was fourth level sage realm now, following a system of cultivation that Emperor Peafowl had drafted for her.
The sealed door cultivation she had undergone recently had given her a tremendous breakthrough. Because of this vast increase in strength, Dan Fei's return to her homeland had been rather smooth. On her way here, she'd easily taught some would-be evildoers a harsh lesson.
Still, she was shocked after fighting Qin Thirteen for a while. The bald man had said that Qin Thirteen was initial sage realm, but he was definitely mid sage realm in her opinion. In fact, he was quite possibly higher level than her.
Thankfully, her years spent following Emperor Peafowl hadn't been in vain. She had learned from the best martial methods available. The difference in their cultivation levels was disadvantageous, but not insurmountably so.
There were two reasons she wasn't having a good time after the short exchange.
First, she was uneasy about Qin Thirteen's potential attack on the ordinary women below.
Second, Dan Fei's increase in cultivation was offset by a drastic lack of combat experience. She hadn't even been origin realm when first coming to Veluriyam Capital. But she was now already fourth level sage realm.
She'd barely fought anyone in the interim. This was an extremely unfavorable point for her. She had been able to kill those cultivators before now with ease because of her level. Killing origin realm cultivators was as easy as an adult beating up children. There was no possibility of overcoming such a radical discrepancy in raw strength.
Her fight against Qin Thirteen revealed her present weaknesses.
"Why is she this green? Does she have no experience whatsoever in the world?" Qin Thirteen was astonished. "The way she fights certainly confirms it, yet the methods she uses are mysterious and powerful. Where did this woman come from? Wouldn't it be trouble for me to capture her, if she really is from a large sect?"
Qin Thirteen was between a rock and a hard place. He didn't know how to deal with his sudden anxiety. The woman attracted him a great deal and he didn't want to let her out of his grasp. Yet worry lingered in his heart. If the woman really did have a powerful background, then he was playing with fire.
"No way… if she's a disciple from a large sect, she can't possibly be this inexperienced. Their disciples begin traveling from a young age and are sure to be far more experienced than someone like me. Competition within large sects is cruel. A disciple as inexperienced her wouldn't be able to survive internal competition, much less live to venture outside her own sect!" This was how he reassured himself.
Because of this change of heart, his attacks became more ferocious. Every cut of the claymore moved with a mountain-cleaving momentum. Dan Fei was repeatedly forced back.
She was clever enough to play around her inexperience. She adopted a defensive stance, buying time to come up with a strategy.