The shocked eyes of the combatants were momentarily drawn towards the plummeting Ning Chen. Yet after a brief moment of stunned silence, they had no choice but to face the grim reality once more; the Divine Child was still as uninjured as before.
Of course, he wasn’t completely unharmed, but those injuries didn’t hinder him from fighting.
Suddenly, the air rippled as a shadow flickered across the battlefield. A figure clad from head to toe in a set of pitch black clothes appeared a split second later beside Jun Shaoqing with a green sword drawn and ready to strike.
The Shadow Dragon guardsman who had following Ning Chen under the orders of the Xia Emperor was finally forced to step forth. With a silent thrust of his green sword, he stabbed at the exposed flank with deadly precision.
“One who dares not show his face in public, reprehensible.”
Jun Shaoqing declared with a cold glint in his eyes. He immediately retreated ten steps and with the last step, kicked off in the direction of the guardsman. With his finger raised, the Divine Child rushed towards the black clothed man, leaving behind a trail of flickering silhouettes as he pierced through the air with a force that could shatter a thousand soldiers.
Having failed to assassinate the Divine Child, the guardsman immediately lifted up his sword to defend himself but was instead met with an overpowering wave of force that shattered the long sword in his hand in an instant, and with a sickening crunch, stabbed right through his body and his Qi ocean.
The momentous force barrelled through his Qi Ocean, shattering the Qi whirlpool within and crippling his cultivation base.
With that, the three experts on the side of Grand Xia were severely injured and could no longer stand up to the Divine Child’s might. Yet as the soldiers began to despair, a mighty wave of blade energy sliced its way through the heavens as it crossed the horizon in an instant. With a thunderous chop, the wave tore a mini ravine between the Divine Child and the entourage.
“Divine Child, you aren’t welcome here, please see yourself out.” A calm voice echoed within the undulating terrain.
Jun Shaoqing’s pupils shrank slightly as he processed the situation. The only person in this region who could possess such might was Marquis Buyi.
The intense blade Qi radiating from the blade scar instantly cast a suffocating pall over the gathered combatants. Even the four ninth-grade peak experts were hit with an indomitable wave of pressure; this strike had long since transcended the boundaries of Houtian, crossing into a realm that many could only dream of.
“Half-step Xiantian.” Jun Shaoqing spat out those words with a despondent tone mixed with a hint of shock. Without a question, this marquis had began to take a step into the Xiantian realm.
Who could’ve predicted this frightening turn of events; the military marquis who had quietly guarding Stone’s Pass had actually reached such terrifying heights.
The Divine Child knew that his opportunity had passed with the arrival of the marquis. While he wasn’t afraid of him, fighting with a Half-step Xiantian military marquis now wasn’t a wise choice.
He blandly swept his gaze over the princess and gave her a pointed stare before disappearing with a turn of his body.
Looks like there was a need for him to return to the shrine once more. Within the sacred text of the Eternal Night, it was recorded that the Scroll of Life was closely guarded by the Purple Yin Empire. After Grand Xia destroyed them, the whereabouts of the scroll was said to have been lost. Jun Shaoqing had assumed that the remnants of the Purple Yin’s imperial family had smuggled it out but it seems that this wasn’t true after all.
Nonetheless, this had a been a fruitful trip for him. The fragments of the Heavenly Bible had been scattered throughout the world for far too long, it’s about time for the cult to take them all back.
It was worth saying however, that the timing of that woman was too much of a coincidence. There’s no way that she and the Mongol Horde knew about the Scroll of Life so why was the timing of her letter so coincidental?
Either way, her intellect was truly terrifying. With just a few honeyed words, she managed to orchestrate this whole drama between Zhenji and Grand Xia.
Unfortunately, no matter how much she schemed, she couldn’t outmaneuver the will of the heavens. Even with her vast intellect, there was no way she could predict the appearance of such a character.
At the very least however, the Mongol Horde didn’t suffer any losses. Only the foolish Zhenji who succumbed to her temptations ended up paying a heavy price. The debt of twenty thousand warhorses wasn’t something that could be repaid in the short term. No matter what, that would require a minimum of half a year. As for what might happen during these six months, who knew.
With the departure of the Divine Child, the aura of Marquis Buyi retreated as well without saying another word.
At the side of the cliff, the three ninth-grade peak experts laid there dishevelled from their severe wounds. The Shadow Dragon guardsman who appeared near the end, ended up with the heaviest injury of the three. His Qi Ocean had nearly been destroyed by the Divine Child rendering any hope of recovery in the short term impossible.
Xia Miaoyu fared slightly better than him being the strongest out of the three despite her tender age.
As for the old sword master, despite vomiting blood several times and being in dire need of rest, the obstinate old man bade his farewells to the princess and left.
She knew in her heart what he wanted to do and therefore did not try to stop him, but instead, gave him two pills. These were extremely valuable pills with one being used for healing while the other…hopefully there would be a chance for him to use it.
The sword master gulped down the pill and under the shocked gazes of the crowd, jumped down the cliff without saying another word.
The Shadow Dragon guardsman muttered under his breath with a cough of blood.
She turned to the man with a cold glint in her eyes and a faint smile on her lips. More than anyone, she knew why this man was dispatched to follow the entourage. It wasn’t a difficult conclusion to draw after all; there was no way anyone who sat on that dragon throne could ever be mediocre no matter what the world thought of them.
As the entourage continued their journey, the weary travellers did so with a sense of safety within them. There was after all, a military marquis stationed within that distant pass; no matter how they tried, they couldn’t think of anyone foolish enough to attack them right under his nose.
Within the entourage, a certain emissary’s face was markedly pale as he lowered his head even more than usual. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that the military marquis stationed right at the doorstep of Zhenji could be this strong.
To think that they actually dared to try and pry into his secrets repeatedly. If he was ever enraged, their country would have hell to pay for it.
And so the procession continued on its way with everyone silently harboring thoughts of their own as they slowly trudged on towards the distant Stone’s Pass. Only at that ravaged mountain road beside the cliff could one see any clues of the bloody battle that had befallen this entourage just moments ago.
As the bone-chilling winds blew through mountains, a wizened silhouette could be seen rapidly plummeting down the cliff.
Since he jumped off the cliff, the sword in his hand had become the only thing standing between him and certain death. Even with his lofty cultivation, he was nothing but a struggling mortal in the face of such a sheer drop. Only a Xiantian could ever survive such a drop by himself.
This ancient sword was bestowed onto him by a military marquis long ago. While most of the palace knew him as the sword master, almost none knew that his surname was Bai and his name, Wu.
Even fewer knew that the Bai family in the distant past was actually a servant household of the Zhang Sun clan. Bai Wu had been in the palace for over thirty years. Back then, the previous Xia Emperor had just ascended to the throne.
And so, only a handful of people knew about his relationship with the clan of Zhang Sun. The sword in his hand was given to him by the then head of the household, Marquis Qinghe on the day he became a marquis.
It goes without saying how important this sword was to him but now wasn’t the time for him to consider this.
As its blade stabbed through the stony cliff face, it screeched as if it had a will of its own as the sword violently cut through the cliff face, smashing any rocky protrusions it encountered into a violent explosion of rubble and sparks. This ancient sword which had accompanied him for over 30 years rapidly deteriorated as the stone dulled its once razor sharp edge.
No matter how sturdy the sword was, there was no way it could survive such a relentless pummelling. And so, just as the sword master was about to touch down, the sword finally broke with a resounding snap, its body scattered to the winds never to be seen again.
A look of sadness crossed the sword master’s eyes as he landed safely on the ground.
“If you possess a will within you, please safeguard him against death.” The sword master said in his raspy voice as he solemnly sent off his partner.
Given the strength of the Divine Child’s palm, Ning Chen should have been thrown over 100 meters away and thus wasn’t where he landed. Judging by the traces of Ning Chen’s fall, there was probably still a bit of travelling to do before he found him.
The area beneath the cliff was a dense jungle that had barely felt the touch of civilization. Its towering trees pierced into the heavens while its dense foliage housed animals the likes of which the old man had never seen before. It had been a while since he made landfall and yet there was still no sign of Ning Chen.
A sonorous call sounded across the heavens as a gigantic shadow passed over the horizon heading west. The sword master gave it a cursory glance, not giving it much thought as he continued searching.
Roughly an hour later, the sword master had searched all the possible locations but was still unable to locate the teen.
The unusual situation gave him a sense of disquiet as he pondered. Suddenly, a thought crossed his mind that immediately caused his face to fall. With a kick of his feet, he took off towards the west.
The relentless sprinting of a ninth-grade peak expert was a rare sight that the world probably hadn’t seen before and yet within the dense jungle beneath the cliff, a green blue figure could seen flickering through the maze of trees with a speed the naked eye could not perceive.
A minute later, the sonorous call rang out once more. The sword master gathered his Qi and kicked off, leaping high into air like a blue sword.
A pained cry echoed through the air as a blue silhouette sliced through the giant shadow that blotted out the sky, bifurcating it in a gory rain of blood.
As it fell, the giant silhouette split into two revealing the wracked body of Ning Chen which the sword master swiftly caught with a twist of his body.
Upon closer inspection, the light in his eyes dimmed as he was struck with a sense of sadness. His meridians had been shattered, his bones cracked and his life hanging by a thread that threatened to snap at any moment.
The sword master promptly fed him the pill given to him by the princess and with another kick, took off towards the southwest.
Crossing a thousand Li (500km) in a day. Such a task wasn’t impossible given the might of a ninth-grade peak expert. The distance covered by the entourage in half a month merely took the sword master a day to traverse. And so it was that a dishevelled figure appeared within the palace of Grand Xia a day later.
Yet, the sword master didn’t report back to the Xia Emperor but instead rushed towards Weiyang Palace.
In this world, if there was someone who could save Ning Chen, that would definitely be Her Majesty.
Within the main hall of Weiyang Palace, a look of shock crossed the face of the Empress as she heard about the sword master’s request to see her. A sense of unease swiftly crept into her heart as she immediately summoned the old sword master.
Standing by her side, Qing Ning was equally unnerved by the sudden request. Shouldn’t the old master be with the entourage? What was he doing back here all of a sudden and in Weiyang Palace too.
A moment later, their eyes opened wide in shock as they saw the bloodied, dishevelled figure of the sword master.
The sword master knelt down and gingerly placed the dying teen onto the floor.
“…please save him,” said the old man as he lowered his head.
Before Zhang Sun had the chance to answer, the slender figure of Qing Ning flashed across the main hall, appearing before Ning Chen in an instant. She carefully placed her hands on his wrist and checked his pulse, her face turning a deathly shade of white as she did so.
“How did this happen.” Zhang Sun said in a grave voice as her fingers dug into the wooden armrests.
Hearing this, the kneeling sword master gave her a simple recount of the incident.
“What a good Eternal Night Cult, what a good Divine Child.”
She slammed the table in front of her with a livid look on her face. To think they actually had the gall to assassinate a princess of Grand Xia.
“Call for the Imperial Physician.” She proclaimed after recollecting herself.
The sword master and Qing Ning’s face immediately changed as they simultaneously exclaimed their objections.
Her eyebrows jumped as she looked at the pair with confusion in her eyes.
The palace maid stepped forward and whispered several words into her ears after which Zhang Sun’s face immediately darkened.
“Good, very good.” The veins on her hands popped as she tightened her grip even further on the wooden armrest, her fury reaching new heights that angered her to the point of silence.
No wonder this brat tried to run away so often; no wonder he seemed so afraid of her. To think he actually kept such a colossal secret from her!
“I think it’s time to feed those old eunuchs in the purification room to the dogs.” She said in a cold voice as her anger boiled over.
Seeing this, Qing Ning’s face fell as she immediately knelt down.
Now wasn’t the time to pursue the matter of responsibilities, Ning Chen was at death’s door and if nothing was done soon, it would be too late to save him.
The wizened head of the sword master smacked against the floor as he kowtowed: “Your Majesty, please save him.”
Zhang Sun paused as she looked at the unconsciousness Ning Chen drenched in his own blood, her fury gradually fading as she did so.
“Let this Empress think of a solution.”