Shi Mu cried out in defiance of his trance, his heart beating fast. As a result, his body regained control, and the murky cloud that had fogged up his mind was expunged. Regaining muscle control, he rotated his body and did his best to jump out of the path of the attack, but the sword still left a mark on his right shoulder, and blood began to gush out. Without delay, he used the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power, muttering incantations in his heart. Then he raised his arm, and the black blade chopped down at the lanky man with numerous black shadows gathering into one streak of cold light.
The lanky man gave a snort of contempt, his bloodshot eyes seemingly filled with malicious spite. Like a ghost rising from hell, he swayed his silver sword wildly, producing the same shrill noise similar to a baby’s heart-rending cries. The blade seemed to morph into hundreds of shadows, which then sped toward his opponent.
The two weapons clashed and the cacophonous clang of metal reverberated through the practice field; simultaneously the shadows of the two weapons were dispelled. Shi Mu stumbled backward several steps before he managed to come to a stop. His eyes revealed the profound shock he had felt, since the situation was worse than he had originally thought. He had thought the thin silver sword would break once it slammed against his blade, but the reverse happened: he felt his blade cutting at a pliable spring force, which dissolved much of his blade’s momentum.
The lanky man also was pushed back by the clashing force, and though his countenance did not change, his mind was deeply disturbed. The horrible power transmitted by the black blade almost turned his stomach upside down, not to mention that the part of his right hand, between his thumb and the index finger, was so heavily abraded that blood oozed out from within. But the most exasperating part was not the wound. It was that his pride had been wounded. How could his Ghost-Weeping Sword fail to vanquish this brat before him?
“I didn’t think there was someone like you among the new disciples! However...” The lanky man took a deep breath and spoke slowly, with a grim face, while he secretly activated the real qi all over his body. Shi Mu did not pay attention to what the man was saying and swooped down upon him like a fierce eagle. A thunderous noise resounded as Shi Mu picked up a huge boulder and threw it at the lanky man. The lanky man was taken by surprise, his face blanching in great anger, and his hand tightening on the handle of his sword. In a second, a faint layer of blue light emerged floating above the surface of the silver sword, and he wielded it with his full strength, slashing at the boulder. In a split-second, scores of silver shadows blossomed, like venomous snakes, winding their way to the boulder, hissing. It only took the snakes a second to dissolve the stone into pieces, which now fell before the snakes, like a lump of soft tofu, scattering in all directions.
However, just as the lanky man was about to sigh in relief, he found himself confronted by Shi Mu, who had followed the giant stone and hid behind it! Now that the stone was cut to bits, Shi Mu appeared with a loud shout that startled his opponent. Next came the black blade, like a flash of lightning, bringing with it a large streak of cold light which then turned into thirteen shadows that cascaded onto the lanky man, who found himself hopelessly cornered by the shadows!
“Your. Courting. Death!” He cursed, flustered, as he realized that there was no way for him to escape. Desperately, he empowered his silver sword, and the blue characters glowed intensely, the air around it becoming chill and thick. The sword adopted an irregular dancing pattern, which produced a blue screen that shielded its master, who proceeded to jump backward.
A gleam of irritation flashed across Shi Mu’s eyes. He found that his thirteen cuts were dispelled by the blue screen as soon as they clashed, though the screen itself was dispersed, too. He narrowed his eyes, not content with the situation, and gave another great shout as he instilled all his spirit power into the black blade. In a blink of an eye, the formulas on the blade shone glaringly bright, and flames emerged, roaring above the blade’s surface. The flames resumed the attack just as the thirteen blade shadows began to recede, and a streak of red light rolled toward the silver sword, depriving the sword of all its remaining luster.
A ball of fire exploded on the thin silver sword, and an explosion sent the lanky man flying back. Dust was aroused, blurring their views. And after the dust lifted, Shi Mu saw his opponent lying prone on the ground, his body burned. The hand that had been holding the sword was badly mutilated, and trickles of blood ran down from the wound. At the sight, Zhao Ping could hardly close his mouth. But his surprise turned into sheer shock as he saw the lanky man’s thin sword break into tens of pieces with a crack, leaving only a handle in his hand - a sight that could not be more humiliating. The lanky man’s face went ghastly pale. Gripped in extreme shame and anger, he spat out a mouthful of blood.
“How dare you...how dare you! My only magical weapon was ruined by you!!!” He shouted so harshly that his voice began to become hoarse. All he could do was curse Shi Mu.
However, Shi Mu was not the least bit frightened, though his complexion was a little bit pale, due to his exertion. He snorted, then stabbed the black blade into the ground. Flames were still sprouting from it, the heat spreading into the air. He spoke quietly, “if your gracious excellence would like to continue, I won’t retreat. I shall happily accompany you to the end.”
The thunderous noises made during their fight had attracted the attention of many other disciples. For some time, a small crowd of black-uniformed disciples had been gathered in the courtyard. Under their watchful eyes, the lanky man struggled to his full height, and quickly scanned the audience. The vengeful gleams in his eyes glittered for some time, then, as if having made up his mind, he gritted his teeth and said viciously, “Well, I will remember this. You will come to regret this transgression!”
This announced, he threw the shattered sword’s handle on the ground and turned abruptly to leave the place. The audience dared not get themselves involved, all making way for him wordlessly.
Shi Mu did not say a word either. He picked up his blade and studied it carefully. After making sure that it was not damaged, he quickly put it back in its sheath.
“Brother Shi, are you OK?” An embarrassed voice rang out, and Zhao Ping walked to him with a flushed face.
“I’m fine. Who was that man? It appeared to me that you too were acquaintances.” Shi Mu answered without a change of countenance.
“He is Zuo Yan, an old primary disciple who is usually ranked in the top one hundred of the outer disciples. Though he’s quite strong, he always acts out on his own and is not a part of any group. He’s got a narrow mind and is known to be quite vengeful, so people usually avoid having anything to do with him. You need to be careful, now that you’ve broken his magical weapon.” Zhao Ping heaved a sigh of relief, seeing that Shi Mu did not hold a grudge against him. He hurriedly stepped nearer and offered him the information.
Shi Mu only nodded. He knew clearly that this Zuo Yan was definitely the strongest enemy he had ever met, and if he had not ruined his weapon, the fierce fight would have been prolonged. If that had happened, either one of them could have won. The Black Demon Sect abounded in Houtian arts, and you could never know everything about an individual disciple, plus, a magical weapon could only enhance one’s strength. The world he lived in had changed, he was no longer a teenage boy practicing arts in Feng City anymore. But Zuo Yan was right when he warned him that the black blade could be a misfortune in disguise. Either he should hide it, or prepare himself for more challenges coming from the covetous eyes of other older disciples.
Lost in thought, suddenly an idea dawned on him. Shi Mu whispered to Zhao Ping’s ear, “brother Zhao, could I ask you to forge some gadgets for me?”
Zhao Ping was bewildered by the sudden request.
“...Please use the exact material I asked for. It may be a little bit troublesome, but I believe that it will be a piece of cake for brother Zhao to make these. Could I order sixteen of them?“ Shi Mu stepped back and spoke seriously.
Zhao Ping thought for a while and then answered, “No problem. I’ll do as you asked.”
Shi Mu gave him a faint smile and left.
[Translator’s note] How are you lately dear readers? I’ve moved into the new flat and begun my new life. The plot is going to take a dramatic turn after the next chapter! Do look forward to it! :)
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