Ning Chen still hadn’t accepted the prince’s proposal upfront yet the prince wasn’t that anxious either. Prince Yue had basically confirmed in his own mind that the boy had no other choice but to lean on him now so he was in no particular hurry to push the boy.
With regards to that, Ning Chen could only snort derisively in his heart. Still, the confidence the Prince exhibited was stunning in of itself. If what he showed wasn’t mere bluster then that means his hidden strength wasn’t something Ning Chen could overlook either.
Within the empire of Grand Xia, the number of people who could stand up to a military marquis could be easily counted on one hand. The fact that a prince could be one of these fingers was shocking to say the least.
Looks like this prince needs another stab in the back otherwise Grand Xia might have to face a war from the inside and outside as well.
For the next few days, Ning Chen and Ah Man didn’t take a single step out of the manor. As for the prince and the marquis, neither of them made a move either. Ning Chen was waiting for Prince Yan to return while these two political giants were waiting for his reply.
It had to be said however, that the marquis was truly a man who knew how to endure to the point where even Ning Chen could only hang his head in defeat. If someone actually dared to try and hit his face, Ning Chen would’ve simply slapped the guy first.
What he had in his hands was a ticking time bomb yet at the same time, it was also his lifeline. The Xia Emperor wanted it, the marquis wanted it and so did Prince Yue. The only difference between the three men were the methods they employed.
Of the three, the Emperor’s methods were the most extreme. Whatever he couldn’t get, he had to destroy. It didn’t matter whether or not he attained it as long as it didn’t leave his control.
Comparatively, Marquis Li Yu’s methods were slightly gentler. Under the guise of trade, he basically forced the teen’s reply, though said trade was basically a sham.
The Prince on the other hand, was the gentlest of the three. He tried every possible means to sell him a favor in order to drag Ning Chen aboard his pirate ship.
However, the Emperor and the Prince’s motives were clear as day to him. Right now, what he didn’t understand was the marquis.
As a military marquis of Grand Xia, why did he put such stock into this explosive, was it simply out of loyalty to his monarch? That didn’t make sense then, the Emperor himself didn’t see this object as something he absolutely had to have so why did he, a military marquis, go to such lengths to attain it even to the extent of bearing the unbearable.
At times, Ning Chen truly wanted to just blow up the man’s manor and see how much this marquis could actually endure.
If his hunch wasn’t wrong, this marquis must’ve swore loyalty to one of the princes already. What he was doing now was simply stocking up on bargaining chips for his future employer. After all, the Xia Emperor was an old man and basically in his twilight years. It wouldn’t be long before his old age caught up to him.
This political team selection was bound to happen to all the court members, even the military marquis weren’t spared from this process. However, Ning Chen still didn’t know whose side this marquis was on.
The Eldest Prince, the Third Prince or the Tenth Prince? Either way, it’s not that short lived Eighth Prince.
As for the reason for Prince Yan’s departure, he just found out the reason from Prince Yue. According to the youngest prince, the Xia Emperor was a highly suspicious man and based on Prince Yan’s current situation, it wasn’t looking good for him. However, Ning Chen had faith in the senior. Since he said he would be back by the seventh day, that meant that he would be back by then.
As of now, almost four days had passed leaving three more to go.
The sky gradually darkened as the cold moon peeked through the blanket of darkness. Beneath the sea of stars, Ning Chen sat quietly within his courtyard, basking in the oncoming moonlight as he closed his eyes to meditate. Around him, specks of light circled briefly around him before rushing into his body and the Qi Whirlpool within. The brilliant silvery whirlpool stretched out into his body like a vast sea, his True Qi rotating around the eye of the whirlpool like a giant star system.
Even in a mortal’s husk like his, his vast meridians hid within them a dragon’s potential and a bottomless treasure trove of power.
Suddenly, a blood red flash of steel cut across the night sky as if it had descended from the nine heavens itself, its unparalleled sharpness diving straight at Ning Chen’s heart with a lethal speed that was simply unavoidable as it locked onto the teen’s life.
At that exact moment, Ning Chen’s eyelids suddenly opened up. Silvery bursts of light beamed from his pupils as his left hand drew inwards as if they pulling something in while his right hand shot forward. A vast ocean of Qi blasted out of his palms in concentric circles that roared as they reached out to destroy the assassin’s right chest like a reaper’s hand.
It was a suicidal strike that staked his entire life on the life in one single with no turning back. Seeing his resolve, even that flash of sword light was stunned for a second. Yet, this second of hesitation was enough for Ning Chen. In a battle of life and death, any indecisiveness could mean the difference between a kill and a mere injury. Ning Chen immediately spun his wheelchair around, narrowly avoiding the fatal stab by an inch.
The sword entered his body and a flower of blood bloomed. Yet, it wasn’t fatal. At that instant, Ning Chen’s right hand struck out at the black silhouette and the silvery light blasted forth, forcefully knocking away the assassin and his sword.
However, that wasn’t enough to deter the black shadow. Having failed once, the shadow struck once more with another fatal move. A golden sword appeared in the man’s left hand and like a couple of crescent moons, the twin swords slashed through the air as the shadow propelled itself forward with a kick of his legs and a flicker. Having activated his cultivation base by another thirty percent, the piercing sword light enveloped a circle nearly 30 meters wide.
Ning Chen’s face darkened. Roughly an inch away from his heart, the wound from the previous stab was still dripping blood which by now, had already dyed half of his tunic a dark red. Right before the deadly sword point reached him, he threw his back rearwards, his left hand swiftly reaching for his green bow as the wheelchair careened backwards in an emergency retreat. In one swift motion, the bowstring was fully drawn and an arrow nocked. Breath held for barely a second, he let loose a silvery arrow that tore through the air, wobbling unsteadily as if it was about to fall apart from the sheer force.
It was a sudden shot yet this was only the beginning of what was to come. His right hand pulled backwards once more and another terrifying arrow of silver appeared nocked onto the bow. Drawing the bow to its fullest, he let loose another arrow with bone-chilling ruthlessness and certainty.
With a twang, the arrow sped through the air along the exact same flight path as the first, its speed barely discernible as it chased after the mote of light ahead of it.
Barely able to withstand the first arrow in the first place, the air began to vibrate violently as the pointed head ripped a second hole through space itself, bringing with it a screeching wail. Yet before the first arrow even hit its target, Ning Chen acted once more.
A third arrow. With an expression graver than ever before, his right hand pulled back once more and it wasn’t long before the same silvery light appeared, this time with a booming roar that seemed to consume the air around it. Beneath his wheelchair, the ground began to quake. Even though the bow hadn’t even been drawn back yet and even though the arrow hadn’t even left the bow yet, the scene was frightening enough to send shivers down one’s spine.
This power that could even banish the moon, caused the heavens and the earth itself to tremble under its terrifying might yet even more so, it caused Ning Chen’s internal injuries to destabilize once more. Drip by drip, a trickle of blood began to dribble down the corners of his mouth as his wounds began to act up again.
However, now was a crucial moment in the fight. Gritting his teeth, he forced his body to bend to his will as he drew back his bow. His skin ruptured and peeled off like a snake shedding his skin as the bowstring pulled back inch by inch.
The third arrow was released with a force that threatened to annihilate everything in its path. In the blink of an eye, the fabric of space itself was torn apart and consumed as the arrow carved a pitch-black path in its wake.
In the face of these three terrifying arrows, the black shadow didn’t show the least bit of fear as he calmly combined the two swords in his hand. In that instant that steel met with steel, a bloody crescent moon raked through the night sky. Raising the two swords into the air, the blood moon grew even larger to the point where its crimson hue seemed to blot out the night sky in a bloody pall that seemed as eerie as it was deathly.
In the blink of an eye, the speeding arrows caught up to the expanding blood moon. With a bang, the first arrow penetrated the layer of blood light, advancing 30 meters before it finally dissipated amongst the sea of red. As if in hot pursuit, the next arrow impacted with the blood moon barely a second later and with a terrifying boom, bored its way into the blood moon, stirring up an explosion of dust as the ground quaked from the impact.
Then, amidst the swirling dust and sand, the bloody light made its appearance once more as eye-catching as before. Yet this time it was noticeably more unstable. It was at that moment that the third arrow descended. The monstrous arrow immediately shattered the moon into pieces and sped right towards its target with deadly speed. Seeing that, the black shadow gasped momentarily before unsheathing a third sword. Combining it with the other two, he cleaved the silvery arrow into pieces with a single, mighty slash.
With the three swords combined, the black shadow’s cultivation had climbed to the peak of Ninth-grade, filling the teen who stood in the very center of his aura with a oppressive sense of helplessness.
“Who…are you?” Ning Chen asked, barely managing to force out those words before vomiting a mouthful of blood.
“Mongol Horde, the Fourth Sword.” The black shadow curtly answered.
“Ha..ah” Ning Chen forced out a thin smile. So it’s the head disciple of the Mongol’s Xiantian, when did he stir up such a huge trouble…
Naturally, an expert at the peak of Ninth-Grade wasn’t someone he could stand up to right now. It looks like today was going to be last; escaping from this situation was nearly impossible.
The Fourth Sword stirred once more, his bloody sword light flashing into existence in an instant before descending upon the crippled teen.
Ning Chen swiftly drew out his Ink Sword with a wave of his sleeves and blocked the slash.
However, the overwhelming disparity in cultivation simply wasn’t something he could overcome so easily. His body trembled and was immediately sent flying away like a cannonball, crashing into the wall behind him with a sickening crush that left his plain tunic completely drenched in blood.
“You’re not bad, unfortunately, you’re still too young.” The Fourth Sword calmly said. A mere Fifth-Grade Houtian was actually able to survive this long against him; in this world, the amount of people who could accomplish this was basically non-existent.
“Who amongst the Mongol Horde wishes me dead?” Ning Chen amidst another cough of blood.
“Hah.” Ning Chen struggled to his feet and dragged his shattered body back onto his wheelchair. So, the most influential person in the Mongol Horde had began to notice him as well. This was a huge error on his part. To think that he had completely forgotten about that fearsome nation to the north due to his preoccupation with the internal affairs of Grand Xia.
“Have you said your last words? Then it’s time to be on your way.”
As he said that, his silhouette flickered. An instant later, the sword in his hands swung out with blistering speed.
It was an unavoidable swing. Not only that, it was an unblockable one as well. By now, Ning Chen had completely lost the strength to block such an attack yet it was at this very moment that a slender figure burst into the scene. Without a moment’s hesitation, it stood before Ning Chen and like a fly attracted to the burning light, rushed towards the sword without a shred of remorse.
“NO! You mustn’t!” His pupils violently shrunk as he bellowed mournfully.
Yet, it was too late. The longsword penetrated the girl’s body, bringing with it a field of blooming roses. Staring at the boy she loved, a flash of warmth crossed Ah Man’s eyes for the last time as she gasped with her mouth full of blood. “Promise me you’ll live, okay?”
Then, her slender frame lost the last bit of its strength and tumbled, lifelessly falling into her beloved’s arms as a look of unwillingness and longing crossed her face. From now on, this warm sensation was forever etched into her heart.
His heart was in pain. A gut-wrenching pain that tore at his heart and robbed him of his voice as he violently shook in his wheelchair.
Why, why was it that men only knew how to treasure something after they lost it.
Standing before the two youngsters, the Fourth Sword frowned. He raised his sword once more but suddenly, a pair of eye-grabbing flashes descended from the horizon like a pair comets. A pair of red and blue comets that mercilessly swung down upon the black shadow.
His face immediately paled as he hurriedly turned his sword around to block the attack. Yet, in the face of this titanic force, his mortal husk was ever so insignificant like a tiny boat floating within a raging ocean, rocking about for a moment before immediately sinking into the mighty ocean.
The Fourth Sword threw up a mouthful of blood before being knocked away by the sheer force. However, before he crashed onto the ground, his body nimbly flipped around and in that brief window of opportunity, disappeared into the night.
Within the tiny courtyard, Prince Yan flickered into existence. He threw the disappearing shadow a brief glance but chose not to stop or chase after it.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by violent coughing. Seated upon his wheelchair, Ning Chen tightly hugged the limp body of Ah Man as he spat out volumes of blood. His injuries had flared up once more. Not only that, it dragged out his old wounds and completely wrecked his body.
Seeing that, the prince balked and with a flicker, immediately rushed to the side of Ning Chen. Rotating his palm, he pushed down upon the latter’s back and drove a wave of Qi into the teen’s body, forcefully suppressing the horrific injuries.
“Senior, save her.”
Ning Chen shoved the prince’s hand aside and stopped him from channelling anymore True Qi. With the dying girl still within his embrace, he collapsed onto his knees and sorrowfully kowtowed before the man, “I’m begging you.”
Crashing into the rock-solid stone slab, his forehead was immediately covered with blood as the rough surface tore off his skin. Seeing the teen like that broke his heart yet all he could do was shake his head helplessly and in a low voice, sigh. “Her heart meridian has already been destroyed, there’s nothing this Prince can do to save her.”
“I’m begging you.”
“I’m begging you.”
Ning Chen continued kowtowing, banging his forehead against the stone slab repeatedly. Around him, the once stony gray slab was now covered in fresh blood. By now, his youthful black hair had been coated with a layer of fresh blood that slowly dribbled down his wretched countenance.
Even so, his pleading never stopped for a second, continuously echoing in the tiny courtyard amidst the sounds of scrapping and pain that tugged at one’s heartstrings and clawed at one’s heart…