Chapter 41 Part 1
Bai Rong, noticing that Shen Qiao hadn’t said anything, couldn’t help but turn to look at him, “Shen-lang, you can’t tell either?”
Shen Qiao shook his head, not answering her question .
After another minute, Ruyan Kehui’s voice came from a distance . It rang for several miles, shaking the entire valley along with everyone’s eardrums .
“It’s been a long time since I fought someone to my heart’s content . The meeting with Sect Master Yan today was fun and satisfactory . I really appreciated you enlightening me with your advice . ”
“After living in a nook for so many years, you are no more than a frog at the bottom of a well — able to see only the little patch of sky above you . Master-in-Charge Ruyan is used to dominating the Southern State . I can very much understand that it must be shocking for you to suddenly run into a matched rival . Well, come to me for advice a few more times and you’ll get used to it . ”
The instant Yan Wushi opened his mouth, that satirical tone that made people gnash their teeth came out once again . However, as he stood on the cliff with his hands clasped behind him and his robes fluttering in the wind, it also made people want to behold him, for many of them understood that they probably could not reach his level of strength and martial arts in their lifetime . It was human nature to admire the powerful ones, therefore, it would be a lie to say that these people didn’t have any admiration for this arrogant sect master of the Cleansing Moon Sect, who was powerful enough to support such arrogance .
On the other hand, Ruyan Kehui was able to remain in a generous mood, keeping his good manners and only laughed, “Sure . If there’s a chance in the future, I’ll definitely visit you in person to ask for more advice!”
Ruyan Kehui’s voice was normal as usual, and so was Yan Wushi’s . The observers could not hear any sign of injuries from their voices, which made them unable to help but wonder internally: These two spent most of their energy and fought for such a long time, yet not only was no one injured, but neither of them won?
Was this crossing of swords between two experts of a lifetime going to end with a draw?
Some of the them were also present at Half-step Peak to witness Shen Qiao falling off the cliff under Kunye’s attack . Even though the Xiongnu’s victory had caused many to mourn for the defeat of their kind, inevitably making them somewhat unpleasant, an intense battle like that deserved such an intense result . Today, Ruyan Kehui and Yan Wushi’s state of martial arts seemed to be on an even higher level . For their duel to end in such a way, people sure felt unsatisfied .
However, be it Yan Wushi or Ruyan Kehui, neither of them needed to explain to others the reasons behind their actions . After exchanging a few more words, they swiftly floated down from the cliff, one of them landing next to the creek, while the other by the stony beach not far from Shen Qiao .
Ruyan Kehui cupped his hands at Yan Wushi and said, “Since Sect Master Yan came such a long way, I should serve as a host . If Sect Master Yan could tell me how long you’ll stay in Jiankang, I will send you an invitation in the name of the Linchuan Institute to have you stay there as a guest . ”
Yan Wushi replied coldly, “There’s no need . I can’t tolerate the water at Linchuan Institute . I’m afraid that if I go, I’ll return with a stomach full of your preachings on virtue and morality . You may as well save them to fool those idiots out there!”
Ruyan Kehui smiled, and did not push the matter any further . “Then I will take my leave first!”
Flinging his sleeves, he turned to leave . His steps looked ordinary, however, in the blink of an eye he was already many meters away . This was truly a peerless martial arts that struck people with awe and made them realize that they were far inferior .
“Long did I sigh and wipe away my tears,
To see my people bowed by griefs and fears .
Though I my gifts enhanced and curbed my pride,
At morn they’d mock me, would at eve deride;
First cursed that I angelica should wear,
Then cursed me for my melilotus fair .
But since my heart did love such purity,
I’d not regret a thousand deaths to die…”
(–translated by Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang)
A song came from afar . It was Ruyan Kehui singing the verses from “The Lament . ” Flavored by his southern accent, it reverberated through the valley . Even the sorrowfulness that the poem originally embraced had turned into a sense of heroic spirit, making everyone who heard it feel refreshed and uplifted .
It seemed like Ruyan Kehui wasn’t at all affected by the battle with Yan Wushi, many thought .
Just moments ago, Dou Yanshan actively claimed in front of everyone in the city that he’d also like a duel with Yan Wushi . After he had witnessed their fight, however, he simply turned around and left without a word .
Some trouble-lovers who frowned on how Six Harmonies Association dominated the trade couldn’t help but shout out, “Didn’t Chairman Dou want to challenge Yan Wushi? Why are you leaving so quickly?”
Dou Yanshan stopped in his tracks and threw that person a glance, causing the man to tremble internally .
“Li Yue, the River Dragon, I may not be Sect Master Yan’s match, but would you believe I’m more than enough to handle someone like you?” Dou Yanshan asked with a faint smile .
Li Yue hadn’t thought that he could even call out his name . He didn’t dare to say anything more and quickly slipped away with his tail tucked between his legs .
Yan Wushi gazed at the sight of Ruyan Kehui floating into the distance for a moment, then directly leaped on top of the bamboo forest . Using the momentum provided by the thin branches, he once again landed on where he stood on the cliff just now and climbed up from there, his figure appearing light and swift like an eagle . In just a few breaths, he was already nowhere to be seen .
Since the main characters were gone, there were no reason for the rest to stay . The spectators left one after another, still feeling regret in their hearts . But it was hard to say which they were more reluctant about; the draw today or the uncertainty of when they could witness a fight of similar level again .
Before the battle, most people believed that no matter how strong Yan Wushi was, Ruyan Kehui should be the superior one . After all, one was just within the Top Ten ranking, while the other ranked among the three strongest martial artists under the Heaven . After today, however, no one dared to say this anymore . Yan Wushi’s reputation was destined to scale new heights, and this battle would definitely become a topic that people talked about with enthusiasm . Barring accidents, this should be the most splendid fight in the pugilistic world in recent years .
Without anyone noticing, Bai Rong who had been standing next to Shen Qiao had already disappeared .
She always came and went so mysteriously, not even leaving a word when she left .
Shen Qiao didn’t chase after her, nor did he go back the way he came from . He squinted for a moment, and then took another path in the end .
By now, the sky had already entirely darkened .
After nightfall, the wind in the mountains grew even colder . Although it was April, it couldn’t be considered summer yet, and the valley was buffeted by raging winds that whistled and shrieked as they passed through the cracks between mountains, like the cries of a ghost .
This mountain was a little similar to Half-Step Peak, the one Shen Qiao and Kunye had battled on . Although it wasn’t as high, footholds were extremely scarce . There were a few lonesome trees rustling noisily in the night wind, but forget about using them as shelter to keep warm, there was a lack of space to even lean on them .
But a little way down the other side of the cliff, there was an indent that formed a small cave, enough to hold three or four people inside . With a rock wall at the back and an outcropping over the head; it was a natural refuge from the wind .
Inside the cave, there was a silhouette sitting cross-legged .
When Li Yue walked in, the other person didn’t move at all, just as if they were dead .
“Sect Master Yan?” he ventured .
If anyone else was here, hearing this name would have scared them out of their wits .
Yan Wushi had left early just like Ruyan Kehui, why would he appear again in this mountain cave?
Li Yue repeatedly called him a few times, but there was still no movement from the other .
His confidence bolstered, step by step, he silently drew nearer . Fumbling out a torch from his chest and lighting it, he shone the light towards Yan Wushi as he scrutinized him carefully . The other person looked like a senior monk who had passed away in a seated position; as firm as a boulder, with eyelids tightly sealed, and not even the vivacity of the firelight could draw him to open his eyes .
Li Yue was internally delighted to the point where his hands began to tremble uncontrollably in agitation .
His martial arts could only be considered second-rate, but his judgement was excellent because his ancestors were a family of constables . From a young age, influenced by his father and grandfather, he developed a habit of observing even the tiniest details .
Everyone believed that Ruyan Kehui and Yan Wushi were evenly matched and felt that it was a pity the match had ended in a draw . However, he didn’t see it that way .
Even if both sides hadn’t used their full strength, in a battle that had lasted from dawn to dusk, they must have at least used eighty or ninety percent . No one could doubt that . In the place where they fought the fiercest, the rocks had been reduced to tiny, shattered pieces . Boulders half the size of a person were turned to gravel in an instant by inner qi . For a while, the rivers reversed their flow, and the trees in all directions snapped over . In the face of such an overwhelming display of grandeur, the onlookers even didn’t dare to raise their internal energy in defense . But seeing how formidably strong they were, how could the two fighting not have any injuries whatsoever?
Even if they were phenomenal experts on par with with Qi Fengge, they too had a day when they would die . As long as they were not immortals far above the common populace, it was impossible for them to not be harmed .
Ruyan Kehui and Yan Wushi both acted as if nothing were wrong, but Li Yue intuitively knew that the events had not actually been that simply concluded .
With his martial arts, he couldn’t catch up to the two . However, when the others left, he stayed back to search the surroundings, even climbing up the cliff to take a look around the top . This was because earlier, when the two were fighting, there was a moment of time when they stopped on top of the mountain peak . No one knew what happened in that moment . Li Yue searched for a long time, bored to death, without finding anything useful . He thought he must have been overthinking it, but who knew that when he was just about to leave, he would find this cave here .
And Yan Wushi inside .
This was unquestionably a huge surprise . Li Yue tried to calm himself down, but he couldn’t keep his hand from trembling slightly, causing even the torch in his hand to shiver . The fire flickered back and forth inside the cave, bringing an air of unidentifiable precarity .
He knew that Yan Wushi was wounded and had come here to recuperate, and that his wounds were not light either . Otherwise Li Yue wouldn’t be able to come so close without him noticing .
If…if he could kill Yan Wushi and display his corpse in front of the public, he would undoubtedly become known throughout the entire world in a single night .
By then, everyone would know that the person who killed the Demonic Sovereign was not Ruyan Kehui, the Master-in-Charge of the Linchuan Institute, but him, Li Yue, the River Dragon!
With his heart in a frenzy, he didn’t even consider the trouble that was sure to follow . For example, in the case where he truly killed Yan Wushi, how would he fend off the members of the Cleansing Moon Sect as they pursue and try to kill him? How would he make everyone believe that he, a second-rate person, managed to kill Yan Wushi, someone that even Ruyan Kehui could not?
But Li Yue didn’t think about it any more . The temptation of honor and fame flooded his mind in an instant . He couldn’t resist pulling out the sword on his waist…
The tip of the sword advanced inch by inch . The Demonic Sovereign who had been in such high and vigorous spirits during the day was now right in front of him, unconscious, at the mercy of his hands .
Even Li Yue’s face became somewhat twisted because of the excitement .
Suddenly, his expression froze .
Eyes wide open, Li Yue stared at the bamboo stick which had suddenly appeared and blocked the tip of his sword .
“Taking advantage of others’ misfortunes is not the act of an honest man . As you are now, your martial arts will not advance by even an inch in your lifetime,” Shen Qiao said calmly . “You should leave . ”
Li Yue furiously retorted, “What would you know!? When I entered the world of martial arts at fifteen, I was once regarded as one with great aptitude; who would have known the growth of my martial arts would’ve come to a halt at twenty-five?!
Shen Qiao shook his head . “After killing him, will your martial arts be able to improve? This is only the envy of the weak towards the strong . Because you suddenly have the chance to control the life of a strong person, you feel an unbearable excitement . Don’t let yourself be controlled by the demons in your heart, or in the end, throughout your entire life you will never again advance along the martial path . ”
Li Yue was thoroughly infuriated by him . “You blind fool, what are you meddling here for! Shen Qiao, don’t think that no one recognizes you . Who in the martial world doesn’t know that you and Yan Wushi are colluding with each other! Even Mount Xuandu chased you out of its doors . Because of you, Qi Fengge has no more face left to lose! Disciple of the world’s greatest? As if! You’re just a sweet-talking disciple who’s sold out his body in return for the Demon Sovereign’s favor! Do you get off on being a slave? Are you scared that if I kill Yan Wushi there’ll be no one left to protect you? If you’re a man, straighten out your spine . Don’t think of always relying on others!”
Shen Qiao didn’t become angry because of what he said . Ever since his identity was revealed at the Su residence by Duan Wenyang, many people looked at him strangely . Though they didn’t say it out loud, it didn’t mean that they didn’t have the same thoughts as Li Yue in their hearts . Shen Qiao had heard even uglier words than this before .
But in reality, those sharp words were still only words; if you paid them no mind, others wouldn’t be able to harm you at all .
Li Yue, seeing that he did not speak, felt that his yelled insults had been effective and immediately laughed coldly . “Priest Shen, if you don’t get in the way, after killing Yan Wushi, we can split whatever goods he has on him… . . ”
As he spoke, his sword also swung out .