The moon hung silently overhead, casting a cold light over the ancient city. Suddenly a Sword Qi rushed into the clouds, slicing apart the heavens in an instant.
In that very instant, all the swordsmen in the city felt it in their hearts. Their faces paled in astonishment as each and every one of them realized in their hearts that the sword in Sword City was finally going to make its move for the first time ever.
The revered sword of Sword City. The legend amongst swordsmen. No one had ever seen them fight before, but even so, his very existence was enough to instill awe in their hearts.
*buzz buzz buzz*
The swords in their hands began to resonate with the overbearing Qi, every one of them flying into the air regardless of their master’s will in order to pave a road of swords for the legend’s appearance.
It was an indescribable scene. The world stilled for a moment as the countless swords in the world trembled in their sheaths and began resonating with each other.
A split second later, a peerless sword rose above the sea of swords, and without stopping, flew towards the west with a procession of swords behind him.
Everyone knew that the sword in Sword City hadn’t broken into the realm of Xiantian. Yet, this didn’t affect his power one bit.
In this city of swords, the strongest person was that sword; even the appearance of Mu Chengxue couldn’t change that fact.
The boundary of Xiantian was there for the world to see. Yet all that was merely a joke before that sword in Sword City.
In front of this living legend, everything was meaningless, only the way of the sword was supreme.
All across the world, the masses were able to see in the distant horizons, the path of swords laid out for that lightning fast sword as it rushed towards the west.
Within the First Shrine of the Eternal Night Cult, the invincible Martial Monarch awoke, his eyes opening wide in an instant before peering into the distance, seeing through countless obstacles as it watched the rapid arrival of the sword.
He agreed to that sword’s Sword Proving battle and today was the deadline of that agreement.
Amongst the experts of this word, those who had the qualifications to participate in this Sword Proving were few and far between. To that sword, such a worthy opponent was of paramount importance.
Right before the very eyes of the faithful in the First Shrine, the sword landed with a metallic crash. Face cold and white shirt fluttering, he awaited calmly in front of the shrine for his opponent to arrive. Looking closely into his eyes, there was barely any trace of human emotions left in this human sword.
The massive gates of the First Shrine creaked open, revealing the imposing figure of the Martial Monarch who stepped forth with Heaven’s Desolation in hand. Peering at the sword before him, his fearsome gaze revealed a seldom-seen sense of solemnity.
“After you,” came the placid response of Mu Bai.
The Martial Monarch took a step forward; suddenly, the surroundings exploded as a dense wave of oppressive aura washed over the scene creating the most violent introduction ever for their battle.
Mu Bai’s silhouette shifted for a mere second before suddenly appearing before the imposing man. Without moving his hands or drawing his sword, the surrounding Sword Qi condensed together in an attack on the man.
The Monarch raised his halberd high into air and brought it down with a mighty swing that shattered the countless swords of qi, bifurcating Mu Bai at the same time.
Yet, as the dust settled, there he was again, standing at the same spot as if he had never moved at all.
The sword of Sword City was the manifestation of the will and of the sword. Distance was nothing before his will, so it was nothing before his sword.
This was the reason why the legend of Sword City was so uniquely strong; no one could compare to his sword, whether it was in terms of speed, accuracy or power.
The Martial Monarch’s invincibility laid in the overwhelming strength of his martial arts, and even more so, the unique constitution he had which was immune to all swords and blades. At the same time, this nearly invulnerable body of his was said to be undying as well, being able to survive any wound no matter how lethal.
In this world, there was no one who could defeat the Martial Monarch and there was definitely no one who could kill him.
Whether it was this sword or the other five Xiantian experts of this world, each of them had a unique aspect that made them undefeatable. This was why, even though the newly ascended Xiantian was technically a part of their ranks, her true strength nowhere near theirs.
Mu Bai had never cultivated any of the Heavenly Scrolls before, not even the Scroll of Movement which he gave to Mu Chengxue. Yet even so, his speed was unparalleled in this world; even Mu Chengxue who had cultivated the scroll couldn’t compare to him.
The Monarch’s halberd danced once more. In one move, he split apart space itself, closing the distance between the two of them in one fearsome slice.
Mu Bai wasn’t bound by distance yet the Monarch was. The Monarch’s True Qi was boundless yet the sword’s wasn’t.
The sword shifted once more, dodging the terrifying edge of Heaven’s Desolation. Focusing his entire body into a single point, his figure pierced through the Monarch’s body with a whoosh.
The Martial Monarch grunted but showed no other signs of change. Instead, he took a step forward, and in a single swing of his halberd, robbed the world of all its color.
Mu Bai’s hands twitched and summoned forth his trusted partner, the Edgeless Sword, blocking the halberd in one swift motion. Yet, the overwhelming power wasn’t stopped so easily. With a thunderous boom, the white figure was pushed back by a full step; blood dripped down the sides of his mouth as he steadied himself.
In just that short exchange, both men had come out injured. It was a draw.
The sword swung out once more, faster than ever before. The halberd swung out as well, stronger than before. Both their edges were too much for the other.
In the realms of speed and strength, both men were unparalleled in their fields. One stood at the peak of martial speed while the other stood at the peak of martial power.
As the battle dragged on, their wounds grew ever deeper. Sword Qi had blotted out the heavens and earth while the shadow of the halberd had swept aside all that stood in its way, unmatched by all except for its growing strength and the sword’s growing speed.
The two battled from dusk till dawn. Between the strongest warrior and the strongest swordsman, the earth was rend asunder and the heavens crackled from their titanic clash.
Within the perimeters of the First Shrine, countless palaces had been reduced to rubble as the two men’s growing Qi blanketed the battlefield.
Finally, at the first crack of dawn, the moment came. The Sword Essence of the swordsman surged to its highest point while the Martial Monarch’s Qi rose to unprecedented heights.
“This last move will prove this one’s sword.” His eyes narrowed as the sword pierced the sky, stirring up a heavenly tribulation amongst the nine heavens.
“This last move will end the legend of the Sword City.”
The Monarch brandished the mighty halberd, its terrifying Qi seemingly propping up the sky itself as it stirred the winds into a violent maelstrom that seemed to suck in everything around it. With this chop, he would destroy the heavens and earth themselves, wipe out all life, man or sword.
Both weapons clashed, sending forth a tidal wave of dust radiating outwards from the pair. The mountains crumbled and the rivers ran dry as the shockwaves tore the earth apart, destroying everything within a hundred li (50km) of the pair.
Slowly but surely, the dust clouds began to settle. Amidst the settling dust, the Edgeless Sword could be seen silently protruding out of the Martial Monarch’s chest, its blade buried several centimeters within.
The blade snapped and the Monarch spat out a mouthful of blood. Looking at the remnants of the longsword in his hand, the swordsman’s brows furrowed in dissatisfaction.
“I’ve lost,” declared the man in a calm voice.
“The battle hasn’t been decided yet, at most, this was a draw.” The Monarch pulled out the blade fragment in his chest as he shook his head.
“The sword has been broken, how can it be proven then. This battle is over.”
*boom* It was then that the heavens stirred again. A pillar of white light rushed forth from the swordsman and into the heavens. This astonishing Qi that shook the world…it had to be the signs of a Xiantian’s ascendence.
Yet, Mu Bai merely furrowed his brows at the air for a second before promptly slicing apart the heavenly sign in the horizon.
“Such an annoyance.”
The swordsman’s impatient voice echoed in the air as the heavenly sign dissipated. His eyes were devoid of any happiness as if he didn’t know that this was the realm that the martial practitioners of this world could only dream about.
At this very moment, the world had descended into chaos due to the appearance of this new Xiantian. Yet before they could even digest this sudden development, an immeasurably frightening flash of sword energy sliced apart the nine heavens and destroyed the heavenly phenomenon.
Initially, there were still people guessing who this mysterious expert was, but with that slash, the answer was clear for all to see. The only swordsman in this world who could possess such strength had to be the sword in Sword City. Only he was able to hold the heavens in such contempt.
With the collapse of the heavenly sign, the world was thrown into further confusion. Did the sword of Sword City actually step into the realm of Xiantian?
Back at the First Shrine of the Eternal Night, the Martial Monarch was just as shocked by Mu Bai’s actions. A short while later, he broke out into boisterous laughter, a look of admiration written all over his face, “A true hero!”
He had always thought that he was the most domineering person in this world. Today, he stood corrected. With a single slash, he severed even the Xiantian. Such audacity! No wonder he was the legend of the Sword City.
Even so, the invincible Martial Monarch remained invincible as always while news of the sword’s defeat began spreading throughout the lands. In response to this, Sword City’s silence was a tacit acknowledgement of this fact.
Having returned to Sword City, Mu Bai disappeared without a trace. He was going to wait for a sword. A sword that could withstand his Sword Proving.
Back in the southern regions of Grand Xia, having just returned from the Man lands, Prince Yan arrived in the estate of Prince Yue with Ning Chen and Ah Man in tow. Having been apart for 20 years, this was to be their first reunion since all those years ago.
Prince Yue was extremely young and had crossed the 20 year mark just a few years ago. He was an extremely amiable prince, having inherited the gallantness of the previous Xia Emperor.
Their exchange ended smoothly with the prince passionately offering to host the three of them. While his face was just as placid as before, looking closely, one could see that Prince Yan’s expression had softened noticeably.
As the four of them chatted, Ning Chen and Ah Man had basically turned into background characters while the two brothers caught up with each other. Ah Man wasn’t one to sit still for so long and it wasn’t long before a bored look crossed her face. Seeing this, Ning Chen promptly suggested that he take a walk with Ah Man around the mansion.
The Man princess beamed upon hearing this, the happiness in her heart on full display for the two princes. Prince Yue was surprised by this but quickly gave out a jovial laugh.
This was the first time he hosted a person who found him long winded and boring. This youngster was truly one of a kind.
With Ah Man in tow, Ning Chen escorted the excited girl around the premises. It was then that the smile on Prince Yue’s face began to disappear. Looking at his older sibling, he sighed, “Third Brother, you shouldn’t have given up the seat of crown prince all those years ago.”
Hearing that, the prince’s face immediately darkened, his brows furrowing at his younger sibling’s disrespectful words. Those words contained words within themselves and shouldn’t have been uttered by the latter.
With a voice as serious as before, Prince Yue continued, “Third Brother, I know that you do not wish to be bound by the fetters of authority, but the current Emperor truly isn’t a wise monarch. Just look at Grand Xia’s precarious situation.”
“Do not repeat what you just said, ever again,” was the Prince’s cold rebuke of his younger sibling. No matter whether the Emperor was fit to rule or not, he was already the Emperor. As a prince of the previous dynasty, these words must never be uttered by him.
Hearing that, Prince Yue sighed in disappointment and said no more after a shake of his head.
By now, Ning Chen and Ah Man had already completed their tour of the manor and were now touring the streets of the city. While the southern region wasn’t truly a part of the Central Plains, it was still a lot wealthier than the Man Dynasty.
As they visited the myriad of roadside stalls, the smile on Ah Man’s face never once disappeared as she admired the various bits and baubles, her head swivelling from left to right with every step they took.
Seeing her so happy, the teen’s mood was visibly lighter as he wheeled along behind her.
Ever since he broke their marriage agreement, she hadn’t shown such a happy face in a long time. Most of the time, he would see her stare emptily into space, revealing a pained look from time to time that tugged on his heartstrings.
She had once been a cheerful girl that didn’t hold grudges or beat around the bush. Whatever she wanted to say, she said. Yet now, she had become more brooding, more sensitive and even learnt to hide her emotions.
She was the princess of the Man Dynasty. What awaited her should have been a happy life filled with worryless days.
As her melodious laughter travelled down the streets, those who heard it couldn’t help but return a smile of their own. Everyone appreciated beauty, especially a beauty that had such a lovely smile that bloomed like a flower in spring, filling those who saw it with joy.
Yet, for every person who admired such flowers, there was another that wished to trample on it.
“My lady, our young master wishes to see you.” Two men dressed in the garbs of a servant approached Ah Man and blocked her path.
“I don’t know your young master, you have the wrong person.” Ah Man replied with a slightly shocked look on her face.
“There’s no mistaking it, my lady, this way please.” The two servants coldly replied.
Ah Man turned around and gave Ning Chen a slightly awkward look. She wasn’t a fool and naturally knew that these two men didn’t have any good intentions behind their invitation. But this wasn’t the Man Dynasty and she didn’t wish to cause him trouble.
Just as she was mulling over what to say, the teen behind her spoke up in a voice that was chilling to the bone:
“She isn’t going anywhere.”
It was then that her dainty face broke into a smile, her eyes sparkling like an autumn’s lake…