Low-level Qi-refining cultivators might not be able to travel on a flying sword, but they weren't an ordinary person either. It was a common sight to see them traveling several meters or even several tens of meters with a single leap. Li Ye estimated the person's cultivation to be higher than his. He was likely a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner.
The black-clothed cultivator was Liu Renneng, the person that Li Yao dispatched.
"It must be because the Spiritual Qi fluctuated too greatly after I attained the Qi-refining ability and caught Li Yao's attention." Li Ye's heart was like a mirror. Regular cultivators wouldn't cause such a commotion when entering the Qi-refining Stage. Never mind catching the attention of people a hundred miles away, even those ten miles away would hardly notice it. "He sent a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner just to check on the situation? Li Yao is generous indeed."
Practitioners of Qi techniques were all people with fame and respectable families. According to the civil service system of the Tang Empire, a Level 1 Qi-refining practitioner who passed the examination would be qualified to be a Rank 7 official and become a county magistrate of a region, commanding authority over several tens of thousands of households. This was unlike the Tang Empire on earth. This world was much wider with a larger population.
Even so, Li Ye was unafraid.
It would be stranger if he feared. After all, he was formerly a Great Cultivator who could cross the void and existence with the foundation to become a Spiritual Master. Even if he didn't have the confidence to win over his opponent now, why would he fear a Level 2 Qi-refining nobody?
"Name yourself, intruder! The Heir Apparent to Prince An is here! Stop and pay your respects at once!"
The guards of Prince An's manor waiting on the mountain road leading to Tai Xuan Summit were all trying to perform well in front of Li Ye. When they saw someone strutting over, they immediately reached for the handle of their sabers and took a step forward to berate the person.
"Heir Apparent to Prince An? Bah! He's just an idiot who had been a good-for-nothing for twenty years! He can't even rival an ordinary person!"
Liu Renneng sneered, looking down on the guards in the Warrior Knight Realm. Neither did he show any respect to Li Ye.
"You disgrace! How dare you disrespect the Heir Apparent!" Shangguan Qingcheng had already arrived at the entrance of the monastery. With her fiery temper, how could she stand the unbridled Liu Renneng? However, she was still a militant who took decisive actions. She immediately commanded, "Prepare yourselves, archers!"
The guards of Prince An's Manor had followed Prince An on his campaigns in the north and south; all of them were veterans who had experienced blood and fire. Battling had long become their instinct. The moment Shangguan Qingcheng issued her command, the guards down the mountain road lifted their shields and took their positions in the formation. The archers near the monastery door pulled their strings backward and put their arrows in place. From afar, they aimed in front of the battle formation.
"A Warrior Master commanding a group of Warrior Knights. You're all a bunch of insects but dare to make a move against a Practitioner of Qi techniques like me. How reckless!" Liu Renneng gave a nasty laugh. A trace of bloodthirstiness crossed his pupils. "I'm in a good mood so I'll let you know that a group of insects following a good-for-nothing will only meet slaughter!"
From high above, Shangguan Qingcheng saw how Liu Renneng arriving in front of the battle formation and yelled, "First round of fire! Go!" Immediately, the sound of bowstrings being released resounded as more than ten four-edged iron arrows flew out. They made a perfectly straight line in the air as they aimed for Liu Renneng.
Liu Renneng flicked his long sleeve and produced a burst of Spiritual Qi that crushed the arrows in midair to pieces. Then, he thrust his palm and struck the shields of the guards before him. The wave of Spiritual Qi washed over the guards, immediately causing them to cough up blood as they were thrown back and crashed into their fellow guards.
"Can't even withstand a single blow." Liu Renneng took out a long sword and dashed into the battle formation while creating streams of white sword light. Each of the guards who blocked him coughed up blood. No one was able to hinder his path.
The mountain road narrowed as it neared Tai Xuan Summit, leaving only space for two guards to fit side by side. At the narrowest point of the road, only one guard could remain. Thus, Liu Renneng was essentially fighting one-on-one when he reached the top. Of course, the guards of Prince An's manor were no match against a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner like him.
In a battle on even grounds, the one hundred guards would be able to form a battle formation and perform orderly attacks and defense. Not even Liu Renneng would dare to take them head-on.
However, at this moment, Liu Reneng was given the leeway to be vicious. While killing the guards, he gave a burst of savage laughter. "You're all like a mantis trying to stop a chariot. How can the light of a firefly match up to the splendor of the sun and moon? Insects like you all should go to hell!"
With his cultivation, he had no need to fight these commoner guards. He could very well break into the Taoist temple right away, but he was killing every guard in his path. He could be described as a deranged man.
The guards at the top of the mountain road screeched in horror as they rolled down the road. Shangguan Qingcheng's face turned ashen as she watched her fellow soldiers suffer injury after injury. She gnashed her teeth and pulled out her saber in anger. She was about to rush down and hack that devil to death.
Right then, Li Ye who stood on the roof of the Taixuan Monastery sneered at Liu Renneng. "The Practitioner of Qi techniques dares not fight hand to hand with the Heir Apparent, so he massacres commoner Warrior Knights. How pathetic are you that you have to find confidence from ordinary people?"
Liu Renneng raised his head and saw the aloof-looking Li Ye staring at him from above with his sleeves fluttering in the wind. This viewpoint displeased Liu Renneng and he became furious after hearing Li Ye's words. He couldn't stop himself from snorting. "Since you're courting death, then I'll grant your wish, you good-for-nothing!"
In the following moment, Liu Renneng abruptly jumped more than thirty meters and crossed over the guards in front of him. Midway, he landed on the door of the monastery before making a leap. Carrying his sword, he thrust it at Li Ye who stood on the roof of the main hall.
"Be careful, Heir Apparent!" Shangguan Qingcheng's expression changed. Li Ye had just entered the Qi-refining Stage and hadn't even learned any technique. How could he fight this expert who seemed to have surpassed Level 1 of the Qi-refining Stage?
The reason she commanded her subordinates to put up a brave fight was to stop the man from approaching Li Ye. Who knew Li Ye would provoke the man with his words? Now that Liu Renneng was leaping to the roof, how could she protect Li Ye?
The guards looked up and watched as Li Ye drew Liu Renneng to him, all of them shocked beyond words. Li Ye had provoked Liu Renneng and forced the latter to act so he could prevent them from getting further injuries. They were incredibly moved. Even so, Liu Renneng was so formidable. Wasn't Li Ye seeking trouble to attract Liu Renneng to him?
Suddenly, one red-eyed guard yelled, "Protect the Heir Apparent!" He swiftly rushed toward the Taoist temple. They could no longer worry about their own safety now. When a master suffered disgrace, his subordinates should die in a show of loyalty. Furthermore, Li Ye was even facing a life-and-death danger now.
Li Ye, who had spent a whole day gaining the Qi-refining ability, still had the mood to worry about their lives. The Heir Apparent who disregarded his own life was a person that this group of guards could swear loyalty to without reservations.
"I know you stole the Glazed Cyan Jade Gourd, but did you think that's enough to stop me?"
Liu Renneng was thrusting his sword at Li Ye when he spotted the jade gourd that the latter captured. Suddenly, a white light shield appeared in their surroundings. He sneered. "The Small Mystery Formation can only injure Level 1 Qi-refining practitioners but I'm a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner with a spiritual sword in hand. Watch as I shatter your formation with a single sword strike and then chop your head off!"
Liu Renneng treaded alongside his sword and arrived in front of Li Ye in no time at all. The spiritual sword in his hand burst with Spiritual Qi and pierced the Small Mystery Formation. The bloodthirstiness in his eyes became thicker as he yelled, "Just thinking of how I can kill a Prince's Heir Apparent with my own hands excites me!"
Li Ye, who stood on top of the eaves with his sleeves and fine black hair fluttering in the wind, had the cyan jade gourd in hand. He looked not even in the least austere as he watched Liu Renneng charged at him with a sword. He was merely sneering.
Just as Liu Renneng's sword was about to touch the white light shield and pierce the Small Mystery Formation, Li Ye's thought moved. The Great Mystery Formation inside the cyan jade gourd immediately came to life.
In a split second, green light burst out of the white light shield of the Small Mystery Formation. The impact washed over the surroundings in waves like it was a meteorite crashing to the ground. The waves of Qi that suddenly rolled over was like dust in the air. The green light was so dazzling that it covered everything.
It was impossible for Liu Renneng, who had successfully pierced the light shield of the Small Mystery Formation, to dodge the sudden attack of the Great Mystery Formation. His expression changed drastically, and his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. His face was full of shock as if he had seen a ghost. He screeched, "Oh no!"
Unfortunately, before his voice could even resound, the halo of green light struck his body that was on a forward trajectory. Immediately, he was sent flying. He coughed up a mouthful of blood and his sword flew out of his hands. That wasn't all as the halo of the Great Mystery Formation struck him again, causing his body to burst with blood mist all over!
Liu Renneng screeched continuously and mournfully, every cry coming to a spontaneous end. Like a kite with a cut string, his body flew more than thirty meters away and out of the Taoist temple in the blink of an eye. He bled incessantly as he was flung through the air. Finally, he fell on the mountain road and rolled down the road like a ball.
The guards gaped when they saw this, their faces reflecting this disbelief. They felt as if they were in a dream.
That man was a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner!
Yet Li Ye defeated him with a single move?
Li Ye had shocked them too many times today.
Even Shangguan Qingcheng was looking at Li Ye with an unprecedented emotion in her eyes: reverence and veneration.
Li Ye put away the cyan jade gourd but remained standing on the eaves of the main hall. With his hands clasped behind him, he looked at Liu Renneng with such serenity that he didn't look like someone who had just defeated a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner. He looked more like someone taking in a breath.
Liu Renneng, who was being obscured behind the mountain stones, was bleeding all over. His clothes were ragged, and his hair was a mess. His eyes were blank, and his five sensory organs were contorted together. He had lost all trace of the distinguished countenance of a Practitioner of Qi techniques. Even a beggar looked more upright than he did. He tried his best to raise his head and his eyes were full of disbelief. "Why... How is this possible..."
The guards of Prince An's Manor on the mountain road howled in excitement after recovering their senses. They fought to the first ones to rush down the mountain path and surround the severely injured, close-to-dying Liu Renneng. They pointed their sabers at his neck.
Liu Renneng, who was holding on to his last breath, was shuddering nonstop. Facing the pointed ends of the guards' sabers, his eyes were suddenly filled with fear. He dropped all of his arrogant air and begged them for forgiveness. "Please spare my life, Heir Apparent. Please..."
The guards turned to look at Li Ye, who was on the rooftop, and awaited his command. Right then, they were prepared to strictly obey his orders. The martial law was strict and impartial, and Li Ye was their master.
Li Ye waved his sleeve. "Kill him."
Standing in front of the main hall, Shangguan Qingcheng said, "Heir Apparent, this traitorous person possesses a Level 2 Qi-refining cultivation and is at least a Rank 6 court official. I'm sure he has quite the backing. I fear it's inappropriate to kill him so hastily. Will it bring disaster on us?"
Even though this woman had a fiery temper, she wasn't brainless.
Unexpectedly, Li Ye replied indifferently, "He's just a Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner. What does it matter if we kill him?"
He looked at the guards who surrounded Liu Renneng. "Kill!"
"Follow your orders!"
After hearing his words, the guards knew that he was upset that Liu Renneng injured them. Thus, even if there would be trouble waiting after killing this Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner, he would show no mercy. The guards were incredibly moved to be shown such respect by Li Ye. Their sabers fell like droplets in the rain as they ignored Liu Renneng's pleas for mercy and killed him with innumerable blades.
What they didn't know was that Li Ye never once feared a mere Level 2 Qi-refining practitioner.
As for the trouble he would face after killing Liu Renneng... Having been reborn, how could Li Ye not know who was the mastermind behind Liu Renneng?
It wasn't a big deal to kill Liu Renneng seeing as he had come to assassinate the Heir Apparent to Prince An. Li Yao would be desperate to disassociate himself from this matter. It was impossible for him to use this incident as an excuse to make things difficult for Li Ye.
Of course, Li Ye wouldn't say all these to the guards. Neither could he give an explanation. Besides, members of the army were typically bloodthirsty men. Rather than showing them grace, it was far more effective to show them respect. The latter could reignite their loyalty. This was a principle in managing one's subordinates.