With his extraordinary aura and his status as a true disciple of the Empyrean River Palace, Zhao Mang was ordinarily full of pride. These traits were even more exaggerated now that he'd arrived in an insignificant place like the sixteen kingdoms alliance.
He surveyed the panorama below, his eyes showing disdain for all things living, until his gaze suddenly landed on a young, graceful woman. Her tall and slender figure was beautiful and as conspicuous as a rare orchid in this mountain valley.
"Hm?" Zhao Mang's interest was piqued. Ole Mo had mentioned that Qin Thirteen's killer was an attractive girl.
Zhao Mang hadn't put much stock in the old man's words. Ole Mo was crude and unrefined, so what did he know of attractive women? Seeing her with his own eyes now, he finally realized the truth of the old man's words.
Even he was secretly awed, the stirrings of desire stoked in his heart. "Where does this young woman come from? Such bearing, she should be famous in the human domain!"
Beside him, his junior brother Lu Yi was also stunned by Dan Fei's appearance.
"I'm a true disciple of the Empyrean River Palace Zhao Mang. Might I inquire whose sect you hail from, my lady?" Zhao Mang's attitude had undergone a subtle change.
Dan Fei replied with indifference, "Are you here to avenge Qin Thirteen?"
Zhao Mang smiled leisurely. "That Qin Thirteen was an uncouth fellow. If he offended you, then he was merely go what he deserved and there's be naturally nothing for me to avenge. However, if…"
"There's no need for ifs," Dan Fei immediately interrupted. "Zhao Mang was it? I am the one who killed him. If you want revenge, feel free to come down."
Although Dan Fei could tell Zhao Fei was far stronger than Qin Thirteen, there was still no fear in her.
Zhao Mang had originally planned to show off his poise and elegance. But Dan Fei's biting words cut him off short, undermining all the lines he'd prepared. Fortunately for him, his experience with all kinds of situations allowed him to retain his composure.
"What a strong temper. Among the innumerable sects of my Upper Eight Regions, the ones with notable female geniuses are the Moon God Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court. Which of these two sects do you hail from, I wonder?" Zhao Mang was still keen to find out her identity, because while he was a true disciple, his sect could only be considered third tier among the first rank sects of Upper Eight Region when it came to strength and wealth.
For that reason, it was best to make thorough inquiries even if they were fated to stand on opposite sides. He wasn't one to shy away from trouble, but neither was he inclined to stir the pot for no good reason.
"No need to beat around the bush. I'm not from a first rank sect, you don't need to be so cautious. If you want to attack, then use whatever means you have at your disposal." False courtesy from these sect disciples was what Dan Fei loathed most. Since they were bound to be enemies, why did he waste her time in probings?
Not from a first rank sect? Zhao Mang froze for a split second. She wasn't a first rank sect's disciple despite her talent?
"Miss, with your natural aptitude, are you truly reduced to wasting away the spring of your youth in a second or third rate sect? If so, I feel genuinely sorry for you." Zhao Mang smiled. "Why not turn over a new leaf? As long as you are willing to join my Empyrean River Palace, I swear I'll do everything in my power to smooth away Qin Thirteen's matter for you. I guarantee you'll become an eminent figure of our sect."
With the exalted status of a true disciple, Zhao Mang had full confidence he could make good on his promise.
A teasing expression emerged on Dan Fei's face. "A first rank sect's disciple? Are all of them as narcissistic as you? The Empyrean River Palace? I've never heard of it, have no interest in it, and am even less impressed. Attack if you must, why indulge in one-sided flatteries?"
Dan Fei's sarcasm took no prisoners.
No matter how adept Zhao Mang was at posturing, he could no longer endure Dan Fei's derision. With a cold nod, he said in a frosty voice, "Good. Since you don't appreciate my kindness, then don't blame me for lacking chivalry and being ruthless to the fairer sex!"
"Lu Yi, hold the rear." A murderous aura spread from Zhao Mang.
"Now that senior brother is personally taking action, a swift victory is all but certain," Lu Yi flattered.
Although Zhao Mang hadn't broken through to emperor realm yet, he was nonetheless peak sage realm. When it came to real strength, he could hold his own against Cao Jin, the Ninesuns disciple who once stirred trouble on Mt. Rippling Mirage.
Cao Jin was merely ranked ninth in his sect's younger generation, whereas Zhao Mang was among the top five in the entire Empyrean River Palace, or even the top three.
Unleashing the energy of a sage realm cultivator, strange black mountains immediately emerged behind Zhao Mang. The black mountains appeared dark and sinister, and evil winds raged through them, giving off an eerie feeling. He murmured an incantation. The black mountains suddenly exploded in the air, forming countless black boulders shooting at Dan Fei like artillery shells.
"Black Meteorites! Senior brother, what a formidable move!" Lu Yi applauded with admiration.
Black rocks covered the sky, so dense not a sliver of blue was visible. Like meteorites, they rained down with irrepressible speed and momentum, bringing howling gusts of wind in their wake.
They crashed toward Dan Fei in the space of a few breaths, seemingly about to bury her. Peak ninth level sage realm was outstanding to begin with. On top of that, the Black Meteorites art exerted an innate pressure on consciousness.
At this critical juncture, a feather appeared in Dan Fei's hand. She brushed it across the empty air, rending a crack through space. The void inside this crack swallowed her figure. She disappeared on the spot, vanishing from Zhao Mang's and Lu Yi's eyes.
Zhao Mang stared in faint surprise when he saw multicolored rays of light flash, followed by the woman's disappearance. He looked everywhere around him, but no matter how meticulous his scrutiny, he couldn't find a clue anywhere. She seemed to have faded into the void.
"Senior brother, be careful!" Lu Yi suddenly shouted out loud, his senses on alert.
Zhao Mang's reflexes were lightning quick. With a shake of his arms, black mountains hovered in front of him. At almost the same time, a beam of light shot from the void, followed by a sharp blade slashing across space and the black mountain range.
The sparks born from the cruel impact splashed in every direction. The collision of formidable bursts of energy generated ripples vibrating in every direction, leaving collapsed buildings in their wake.
These buildings belonged to the Precious Tree Sect, so their construction quality conformed to the sect's standards. The two current combatants far surpassed the Precious Tree Sect in power. Naturally the sect's domain couldn't withstand this level of fighting.
A single exchange between the two of them already wrecked untold ruin and destruction.
Dan Fei could sense that Zhao Mang's martial cultivation was indeed much higher than hers. If not for Emperor Peafowl gifting her some protective treasures, she probably would have collapsed from the earlier blow.
The peafowl feathers weren't merely offensive weapons. They could also cut through space and let her dodge formidable attacks when combined with an escape technique. This escape technique was exclusive to Emperor Peafowl, and needed to be used in conjunction with his multicolored feathers.
As for these feathers, they were a great protective gift bestowed to Dan Fei by Sacred Peafowl Mountain.
Under constant usage, Dan Fei became increasingly familiar with them. Operating them with her consciousness, she continuously found more ways to use them. The result was especially satisfying when she manipulated them across the void in lethal slashes. Many techniques Emperor Peafowl taught her in the past emerged from her memories.
Even Zhao Mang was quickly backed into a corner by these feathers. Turning into dazzling beams of light, no one could predict where they would strike.
With a flash of light, the glint of blades once again stopped him dead in his tracks. Zhao Mang was rather depressed. He'd faced many opponents in his life, but without any exception, anyone who could render him helpless had a higher cultivation.
However, it clearly wasn't the case with the woman in front of him. Despite her much lower cultivation, she manipulated the feathers with her thoughts like someone else would a flying sword, attacking from all kinds of unpredictable angles. It was impossible to defend against them.
Many times, Dan Fei's feather blades almost caught Zhao Mang, forcing him to use enormous strength to block them. This sort of attack with no rhythm or pattern fanned Zhao Mang's anger.
"Senior brother, I'll assist you and attack her from the rear. What do you say?" Lu Yi couldn't help offering when he saw Zhao Mang's predicament.
Zhao Mang was a proud man. He naturally rejected the suggestion without a second thought.
"Lu Yi, focus on guarding the rear. This wench is at a lower realm than me, even lower than you, but her treasure is special. It appears and disappears like ghosts. Don't worry, it'll be easy for me to capture her once I grasp her pattern of attack."
Zhao Mang would never agree to let Lu Yi help him no matter how sorry his situation. He didn't want rumors to spread that he couldn't even handle a woman far weaker than him.
His current plan was to rely on his mobility. Under Dan Fei's powerful highly threatening moves, there was no gaps or opportunities for any sorts of attacks. He could only rely on his speed and movement arts, as well as his advantage in cultivation, to avoid Dan Fei's offensive while he groped for a way to reverse the situation.
Will I have any face left if I let her continue with her barrage? Her offensive relies entirely on her treasures. If I can make her lose the ability to use them, a few minutes will be enough for me to capture her.
He leered, "Girl, you're forcing me to it! I admit, your treasure isn't half bad. However, if you think it's enough to bridge the gap in cultivation, you're in for a surprise. Watch carefully!"
Reciting an incantation, Zhao Mang suddenly slapped his head. Three black whirlwinds shot out from the black mountains.
They resolved into enormous red pythons with thick skins and strong flesh. They pounced towards Dan Fei. Churning in the sky, they turned into three black streams of air speeding towards Dan Fei from three different directions.
Dan Fei's consciousness instantly perceived a formidable danger.
"Oh no, withdraw!" She reacted without the slightest hesitation. Multicolored rays of light flashed around her. Added to her absolute speed, she broke away from the three pythons' siege.
However, she underestimated the power of these pythons. After failing their first attempt, they elongated infinitely and spiralled endlessly in the sky, intent on surrounding this entire space with their bodies.