Despite her inexperience, Dan Fei was a sharp girl. She was forced back, but there was no sign of defeatism in her expression.
"Qin Thirteen is a shameless man. If I use my methods to push him back, he'll use those ordinary women as hostages against me." Dan Fei's brain whirred. "To kill him, I must strike him down in one blow. Otherwise, he'll take those women with him to the grave."
Though Dan Fei didn't know those women, she wasn't going to throw them to the wolves. It wasn't in her nature to see the meek as no better than ants.
As for Qin Thirteen, Dan Fei wasn't scared of him one bit. His current advantage meant nothing. She had a plethora of guidance from Emperor Peafowl over the years and had cultivated a custom-made system of methods. Most importantly, she had a variety of high rank treasures from the emperor.
These treasures could guarantee her life even against emperor realm opponents, much less a mid sage realm cultivator around her own level.
But how would Qin Thirteen know any of this? He swung his claymore with increased ferocity, walling Dan Fei in with his attacks. His dominance in battle increased his confidence in the near-future conquest, dampening his earlier concern and wariness. He had only one thought remaining. Take down this beautiful woman!
Qin Thirteen had seen more than his fair share of pretty girls during his time in the world. However, seeing a woman with Dan Fei's kind of style was the first.
He'd had occasional glances at the top geniuses of first rank sects. They belonged to a completely different world than him, and the only way he could look at them was upward. He and they were as different as a toad and a flock of swans. But he felt at this very moment that a swan was very close to his grasp!
Qin Thirteen had his own plans. He didn't much care about the ordinary women below. He had only given the impression of wanting to kill them to threaten Dan Fei. He didn't want to harm them at all.
The aftermath of sage realm experts battling it out would wreak havoc on the surrounding environment. This land belonged to the Tree Spirit Sect now, and he didn't want to damage it too much. That was why he'd fought Dan Fei airborne the entire time.
The other cultivators of the sect came out from their hiding places as the two fought, watching the aerial combatants intently.
"What're we waiting for? Let's go help!" A few of Qin Thirteen's closest friends called out.
"Just watching is enough, my brothers," Qin Thirteen roared with laughter. "Take notes! Watch me take this girl home! But pay attention to those ordinary ants. If they attempt to escape from the side residence, cut them down on the spot!"
Qin Thirteen's orders eliminated any thoughts Dan Fei had about telling the women to run away. She knew that regardless of what she said, the weak non-cultivators couldn't leave the defenses of the sect. Leaving the side residence meant walking into the jaws of death.
There were people everywhere within the Precious Tree Sect's former grounds. At least a thousand of them, most at least origin realm. There were a handful of sage realm cultivators here as well.
"How has Qin Thirteen gathered up so many wandering cultivators here? The Precious Tree Sect was only a sixth or seventh rank sect. Is it so attractive to them?" Dan Fei found this odd.
Their numbers meant that delaying was worse for her than it was for the opponent. This place was crawling with cultivators! She was determined to resolve the problem as briskly as possible.
Her right hand still brandishing her shortsword, she produced three multicolored feathers in her left. They were peafowl feathers, one of the treasures Emperor Peafowl had given to her for protection.
She tossed them into the air, chanting. Suddenly, the three feathers dyed the entire sky into a kaleidoscopic veil. The firmament was filled with prismatic light.
Qin Thirteen had no time to react at all. Shock flashed through his eyes, but the incandescent light was right next to him in the next instant. One of the feathers became a razor, drawing itself across his face.
Pfft! The light darted past Qin Thirteen's body.
With a ripping noise, the arrogant man was cut cleanly in half. The left and right parts plummeted in their respective directions.
Thump! The two halves of his corpse landed almost simultaneously, bringing with them a bloody rain shower.
Dan Fei was as astonished as the rest. Emperor Peafowl had only told her to use the feathers in times of danger. He'd said that they would allow her to kill higher level enemies, but the 'how' part had been conspicuously absent.
She'd produced them partially because she had wanted to try them out. The results were rather stunning. The dominant Qin Thirteen was rendered helpless before the peafowl feathers. Given the speed with which he'd been bisected, his reflexes hadn't even had a chance of saving him.
The three peafowl feathers returned to their original appearance, resting quietly in Dan Fei's palm. It was as if they were completely divorced from that bloody affair.
Dan Fei's crystal eyes considered the peafowl feathers in her hand, her expression still incredulous. "Your Majesty, you've treated me far too well," she murmured to herself emotionally. "Excuse my foolishness for not severing this final tie to my past. I promise you that if I still can't find him, I will return to Veluriyam Capital and nurture Nian'er to adulthood. Before that though, please forgive my stubbornness. Even if I don't manage to find him, I must find the old master. I am also very grateful to him…"
Clutching her peafowl feathers, Dan Fei lost herself for a moment. Meanwhile, the wandering cultivators below exploded in activity.
"The sect head is dead! That woman was the murderer!"
"Brothers, let's avenge the sect head!"
"Yes, kill that woman!"
The uproar snapped Dan Fei out of her reverie. Qin Thirteen's death had helped her get a better picture of what she was capable of. She glared coldly downward, her graceful lashes fluttering. She locked onto the loudest few.
"Go!" She tossed the three feathers into the distance. Like bolts of lightning, they dove at the boisterous scoundrels.
Three more heads were sent high into the sky. The swiftness of their decapitation and the force of the flight were astounding.
None of these wandering cultivators had any idea that killing so casually was even possible.
Dan Fei didn't stop at those three. She maneuvered the feathers left and right, reaping lives like a farmer taking in crops crops. The most rambunctious cultivators were mowed down like swathes of wheat.
There was mass chaos and hysteria within the Precious Tree Sect. There was no one left in the crowd willing to incite violence after Dan Fei's killing spree. The remaining cultivators had only a single thought left: flee!
They were a rag-tag group from the start, gathered together by profit alone. Qin Thirteen and his cohorts being slaughtered in such a terrifyingly overwhelming way crushed any sentiments of their own resistance.
They wanted nothing more than to run away. Once that thought was cemented, countless people made a mad dash outward from the sect. They didn't think they would get much more time to do so.
"Listen up, cultivators." Her bloodshed finished, Dan Fei declared coldly. "This place belongs to the Precious Tree Sect. I'm not going to pursue you from here, but any who dare set foot in this place once more will be slain without warning!"
Her warning eased the wandering cultivators' minds. From the sound of it, the pretty lady wasn't going to kill them after all. After killing Qin Thirteen and his associates, Dan Fei kept her word, allowing the others to leave in peace.
In about fifteen minutes, every cultivator had departed from the Precious Tree Sect's grounds.
A patrol around the mountain revealed that no one living remained aside from the ordinary women. Dan Fei descended to the earth, walking to the entrance of the residence.
"Where were you all taken from?"
"My lady, we… we are all honest citizens of Skylaurel Kingdom."
Dan Fei sighed softly. The honest were often taken advantage of. These ordinary women had been taken here by those evil cultivators solely to sate their lusts. If she hadn't come here, they wouldn't have been able to live past the week. How could ordinary women survive the torture of cultivators? Perhaps they were only a single batch of those evil cultivators' toys.
Gritting her ivory teeth, Dan Fei sighed once more. "You're safe now. Are you able to go back?"
The women's eyes were filled with fear and misery. Their misfortune the past few days had paralyzed them with despair.
Dan Fei shook her head. She had been able to save their lives, but it seemed that not much remained of their wills to live.
"This is the site of the Precious Tree Sect. It shouldn't be too far to Skylaurel Kingdom. Go back. I'll watch over you in secret to protect you from any predatory cultivators," Dan Fei consoled.
Of course, the wandering cultivators had dispersed already. They were unlikely to return any time soon - or ever.
"My lady, are you… are you one of the great cultivators from the Precious Tree Sect?"
Dan Fei shook her head. "Alright, rest here for a while. I will take you back to Skylaurel Kingdom tomorrow morning."
She hadn't yet given up. She planned to search within the former grounds of the sect to look for any clues. Where had the people from the Precious Tree Sect gone?
Rumor had it that they had disappeared before the invasion of Myriad Domain. If that was true, then they had likely avoided the disaster altogether. If they had left on their own, they were sure to have left some hint of their whereabouts. Dan Fei began to look more carefully for where hints could be.
Alas, the Precious Tree Sect was in a state of utter ruin after Qin Thirteen and company's continued occupation. The buildings and layout of the sect had been completely altered, and there was no trace where its people had gone.