Chapter 192 – Jian An
There was a sort of eerie stillness within the forest. Critters were croaking, stifling the atmosphere within. The shadow of a person hiding could be seen as he analyzed his surroundings.
According to his instincts, there were several people here for him, they were just up ahead in the forest. They clearly planned to block the fastest route back to Free Cloud Sect from here.
Pei Zi Yun squinted his eyes as he tried to get a better view of the dense forest up ahead. Just who was spying at him?
‘There were always people following me. But they always had a certain time limit and would disappear after a short time. However these people here are planning to ambush me on my journey back to Free Cloud Sect?’
Thinking this way, he suddenly heard footsteps in front of him, and knew there were people beyond the thick grass, hiding.
A group of people with rhythmic footsteps could be heard. They wielded blades and walked together in a line. One of the them said, “I heard that the person we were sent to kill is very powerful. Do you think we can kill him? Maybe if we can kill him, we would gain the rights to cultivate.”
Hearing him said that, one of his accomplices laughed, “Hm, how can it be that easy. Several Elders and many other proficient fighters were sent out as well.”
The leader among them cleared his throat, “Do not speak of such stuff now. The most important thing is to patrol properly and keep your eyes open. As long as we find a clue or a trace, we will all be rewarded. Don’t think of anything more than that for now.”
“Yes, leader.” The four men behind the leader acknowledged. They all had cautious and prudent looks on their faces, as their eyes bore a certain curiosity. They kept their glances peeled to the front and observed their surroundings.
Pei Zi Yun looked at them and noticed that only the leader was experienced in battle. The other four had never seen blood before, and didn’t have the slightest trace of killing intent.
Pei Zi Yun didn’t act, he thought , ‘Looks like there are really Daoists after myself. I can’t strike out now. I have to gain a clearer picture of my surroundings and strike stealthily, as there may be more groups’
‘The way these Daoists are trained, seems to me like they have some military background. It’s a pity that under such circumstances, they would never make it as proper soldiers.’ Pei Zi Yun kept himself hidden as he observed them.
Many people think that as long as fighting men are trained in the ways of soldiers, they would eventually become soldiers. However, those were just assumptions made by people who had never seen true soldiers fight before. Training was just a small factor. In order to succeed as soldiers, they would need to have the innate talent for it.
Hence, these people wielding blades, who had undergone training as soldiers, were only there as numbers. Although just thinking about how such mere men could undergo such rigorous training was a scary thought.
‘Which sect has begun training their men in the ways of soldiers?’
‘The way they stood in formation and moved, I am almost 90% sure that they are from Dark Altar Sect!’
The critters and bugs within the forests were jumping to and from leaves and rustling sounds could be heard.
The group of them walked past Pei Zi Yun, and he hesitated. ‘I should return to the sect domains and plan what to do instead of acting rashly.’
Pei Zi Yun thought as he paused for several moments, waiting for the group to completely walk past him. The second they did, Pei Zi Yun moved behind them and turned in the opposite direction, through the dense trees. He felt his a chill ran down his spine, as though there were many scary things lurking within the forest.
“Who is it?” One of them turned around when he heard the rustling and saw the shadow of someone darting away. He raised his blade and shouted, “Quick, I saw someone. Send the signal.”
Pei Zi Yun pointed straight at them and caused traps to spring up from beneath their feets.
The leader of the group reacted very quickly. The minute he noticed some movement, he picked up the flare and was about to fire it into the sky. At that time, Pei Zi Yun moved in a blur and appeared right in front of him. The next thing the leader knew, he felt a sharp pain within his chest, as blood started dripping down from his mouth. When he looked at his wound, he saw that a sword had pierced right through his heart.
With a twist of the sword, the leader fell to the ground as Pei Zi Yun reached out to take hold of the flare. He glanced around at his surroundings before keeping the flare within the folds of his robes. There might be a use for this later on.
The rest of the men who were immobilized by the traps which sprang out from the ground had already managed to free themselves and started running away. They were all screaming, as though they wanted to draw attention from the neighbouring patrol groups.
Pei Zi Yun laughed coldly as he chased after them. With an agile leap, he soared into the sky and landed with his sword aiming for one of his targets. The man in front knew that Pei Zi Yun was coming for him and panicked. He tried to move out of the way, but couldn’t avoid the blade as it pierced into the left side of his back.
Pei Zi Yun withdrew his sword from the man’s back and continued his pursuit of the remaining two men who were screaming wildly in fear. All of a sudden, they stopped fleeing and turned around to fight Pei Zi Yun in unison, with fearsome sword moves.
‘Even when they fight together, it clearly looks like they’ve been trained in the ways of a soldier!’ Pei Zi Yun thought to himself, but didn’t slow down. He dashed towards them, his shadow turned blurry once again due to his speed. The flash of his blade was the only thing visible.
The second his shadow moved past them, he struck so quickly that the next thing he heard was a shout of agony. One of them had been slashed deeply on his right leg, his bone was visible. He dropped his blade and fell to the ground, screaming in pain.
Pei Zi Yun rushed towards the second man as the sound of metal clanging could be heard. The man had raised his own blade to defend himself. Pei Zi Yun pulled away before stabbing his own sword out once more, this time it found its mark. His sword plunged right into the man’s chest, as he gave a soft groan and fell to the ground and died instantly.
Out of the group of five men, four had already died. Only one was left.
“You can’t run. We’ve already shouted for help. There will be people coming. You have nowhere to run.” This person was trembling in fear as he knelt on the ground and spoke to Pei Zi Yun.
“Which sect are you from? Dark Altar Sect, Holy Jail Sect or Clear Grace Sect?” Pei Zi Yun knew that it had to be one of these sects. He glared at the men, who was on his knees and asked icily.
Hearing Pei Zi Yun’s question, this man gritted his teeth and refused to speak. Pei Zi Yun looked at him and burst out in laughter, “You are waiting for your men to come and save you? But have you noticed that you’re unable to hear the sounds of critter from here?”
The man looked up, clearly shocked at Pei Zi Yun. He then replied brusquely, “Not possible. How could your Dao arts be so far reaching and block the sound within such a huge area?”
“If you wish to live, be honest with me.” Pei Zi Yun asked him coldly.
The assailant still refused to speak as Pei Zi Yun nodded his head, “I know, you’re still trying to stall for time.”
Pei Zi Yun was getting tired of trying to force the truth out of him. He swung his sword down.
Seeing the sword being swung, the man shouted out in fear, “No, which sect are you from? We are from Dark Altar Sect. You won’t be able to get away after killing us.”
“Indeed you are from Dark Altar Sect.” Pei Zi Yun then intentionally slashed him across his throat in a slow motion. His entire head was cut off when Pei Zi Yun was done, causing blood to spurt out from his neck.
Pei Zi Yun looked at the headless body once before turning to leave. All of a sudden he heard a voice from behind. When he turned around, he saw yet another assailant, “You’ve killed so many men from Dark Altar Sect and you still wish to leave alive?”
All of a sudden, Pei Zi Yun felt sweat bursting out from his pores. Everything around him went dark. He stretched his hands out and couldn’t even see his fingers. Without hesitating further, he raised his sword up in anticipation of a strike. True enough, he heard a loud “zhng” as their swords clashed.
“Clarity!” Pei Zi Yun pointed at his eyes, as his vision became clear instantly. He looked ahead and saw the the black fog no longer hindered his vision, but was still looming around. The next thing he saw was the flash of a blade charging towards him, aiming right for his forehead.
Pei Zi Yun inhaled deeply, and raised his sword, charging right at his opponent.
The pair of them avoided each other’s blows as they moved past one another. Pei Zi Yun wiped his face from all that moisture as a drop of blood rolled down his cheeks.
The black fog started to gradually dissipate from the area entirely. The combination of Dao arts and sword techniques had startled Pei Zi Yun. He then heard someone laugh out, “I know who it is, it’s master Top Scorer. What good fortunes I have to bump into master Top Scorer here.”
“What a good tactic, what a good sword technique.” Pei Zi Yun sighed. The minute he thought of this, he turned around and parried a blow which came from behind.
“Zhng” Their pair of swords interlocked once more.
“This is good! I’ve always thought master Top Scorer’s sword skills were overrated. But just this exchange alone made me realized how wrong I was!” The man laughed out again.
Pei Zi Yun took a few steps back and finally caught a glimpse of the man’s features. It was a young man who had his sword raised and was charging straight for him again.
This young swordsman had an impressive demeanor about him, and his eyes bore a strong killing intent. His overall appearances could be considered good looking except for his long hooked nose which ruined his otherwise handsome features. He had a certain crazy and fearsome look to him as well, he chose to not send a flare into the sky and take the target down by himself.
Pei Zi Yun swept a glance across and the pair of them remained quiet. In the next instant, their swords clashed against each other once more. The swordsman stepped down hard on the ground, and felt that it was about to gave way due to Pei Zi Yun’s quick sand technique, and hurriedly retreated.
Putting space between them, Pei Zi Yun then turned around to leave. The swordsman looked at Pei Zi Yun and laughed, “Master Pei, why are you running away? If you refuse to fight a proper fight with me, I shall activate the flare straight away. There are several more swordsmen around as good as I am. Do you think you can run away from them all?”
When Pei Zi Yun heard this, he paused and turned back around to face him, “I didn’t expect you to be a crazed swordsman.”
The swordsman gave a laugh, “Thank you for the compliment master Top Scorer. I’ve long heard of your reputation. Besides, I really like the way you fight too.”
“You know that many people within my sect refer to you as the Sword Saint right? I’m not too pleased about that. I should be the person everyone talks about when it comes to sword fighting.”
“Whether you’re stronger than me or not, we will find out after we fight.” Pei Zi Yun held tightly onto his sword hilt as he charged down towards the swordsman.
“Zhng zhng zhng” The pair of them exchanged several blows, each with the intention of killing the other. Within seconds, they had exchanged seven blows.
After their final exchange, Pei Zi Yun retreated several steps back and groaned in pain. A slash had appeared on his robes. The other swordsman had the same slash on his robes as well. The pair of them sustained superficial injuries. The swordsman looked down at his gash and smiled, “So this is how your sword techniques goes. Again!”
Pei Zi Yun looked somewhat anxious to get away before more people showed up. But he charged right at him once more. He could hear the swordsman give a battle cry as they engaged with one another.
“Zhng!” Their swords entwined.
“Go to hell!” In that instant, Pei Zi Yun’s sword moved in a flash, and was almost too fast for anyone to see. The next thing he knew, the swordsman shouted out in pain as he lunged forward to attack Pei Zi Yun, but missed. When he looked down, he saw that his right chest had been stabbed, a deep gash formed as blood seeped out.
“You cheated!” The swordsman couldn’t believe his eyes as he realized that Pei Zi Yun’s sword techniques were better than him. The entire skirmish, he felt that he was on the same level with Pei Zi Yun.
“Didn’t you cheat as well? You said you wouldn’t fire the flare and alert the rest, but there’s another method of informing everyone else right?”
“However, your sword techniques are pretty impressive and if you truly concentrated, I wouldn’t have been able to kill you within ten strokes. Hence, I had to make you think we were on the same level to make you conceited and overconfident. When you let your guard down, thinking I couldn’t get to you, I finished you off. Pei Zi Yun said to him, “What’s your name?”
“I will remember your name.” Pei Zi Yun told him. Indeed, his sword techniques were impressive. Although he wasn’t at the master stage yet, he was almost there.
Hearing Pei Zi Yun’s words, the man fell to the ground. More shadows were starting to appear in the distance. Pei Zi Yun then turned around to leave as he thought, ‘The strategies deployed by Dark Altar Sect are very different from the other sects.’
‘Just based on their numbers alone, they probably had more men than the average fighting sect.’
‘Their outermost waves deployed were the fighters, who had been trained in the ways of the soldiers. They were the cheapest source of manpower and had the highest effectiveness.’
‘In the middle were the swordsmen, who had been trained an additional step after the basic soldier training. These swordsmen were born with slightly better innate talents. The last group was the nucleus, the core group of Daoists.’
‘From my point of view, they had strategized very well and followed a particular science to it. It will probably be very effective. It’s only a pity that planning it out this way will still incur the wrath of the Imperial Qi upon them.’
‘If Xie Cheng Dong didn’t manage to transform his flesh into that of a saint in the previous life, and they still if they had used this tactic, he would’ve died to the force of the Imperial Qi.’