Standing right before Ning Chen, the woman continued to violently struggle, face distorted in pain throughout. However, because Ning Chen still had a vice-like grip on her throat, she couldn’t break free nor cry in pain.
At her side, her now broken off arm laid quietly there on the floor under the watching eyes of a shocked dining hall while her upper arm continued to bleed like a grisly waterfall from its mangled stump.
It was at that point that a soft sigh riddled with buddhist words resounded deafeningly across the otherwise silent hall. “Almsgiver, will you let bygones be bygones and stay your hand.”
Immediately, the eyes of the crowd were drawn to the sudden interjection. Diverting their eyes to the source, they saw a monk dressed in a set of coarse cotton robes standing at the doorway. Young face smiling with benevolence, he slowly approached the bloody scene.
“By what right?” Ning Chen turned around and flatly asked.
“The heavens above have a penchant for life, I beseech young master to show compassion.” The young monk stopped and bowed as he said that.
“What the heavens above have is their own business, how the heck does that concern me?”
As he said that, he reached for the woman’s remaining arm and with a sickening crack, ripped it off in a shower of blood.
“She slapped Ming Yue and so I crippled both of her arms, that is fair and just, what can the heavens say about that!?”
It was a merciless set of words paired with an equally ruthless set of eyes that shocked the hall once more. Looking at the icy cold expression on Ning Chen’s face, one couldn’t help but shudder.
“Amitabha, almsgiver, your thirst for blood is too strong and has overtaken you, this monk cannot allow you to roam free and harm this world anymore.”
With a simple ‘this monk’, the buddhist’s words turned to anger. The robed monk stirred, his hand shot forward and ,instantly, a biting cold hurricane formed around his arm.
The Ink Sword flew out of its sheath and promptly deflected the palm strike. Eyes narrowing, Ning Chen slowly enunciated the words “Diamond Body…”
Flesh met with sword and yet the robed monk came out unscathed as if his flesh was as sturdy as steel.
“You’re a disciple of the Western Doya Temple.” Ning Chen’s face instantly grew dark as he said that. Truly, his luck had to be the worst for him to meet another disciple of a immensely powerful Xiantian.
Exactly what was a dullard from that broken down temple doing here?
“Wu Jue is this monk’s name, today, this monk will rid the world of one more devil.”
The monk’s palm struck out once more, around him, walls after walls of sanskrit text flowed out of thin air, encasing him in the sacred golden light of buddha that stretched out for over a hundred zhang (333m).
“Buddha’s Sacred Words, Rulai Basks in the Heavenly Light.”
(TL: The skill names are kind of long because the raw names are really long as well. An alternative would probably be Buddha’s Words: Rulai’s Radiance. Tell me which you prefer in the comments below or discord.)
“Foolish.” Ning Chen coldly harrumphed. The air around the Ink Sword began to freeze as he began to channel his Qi. A second later, he dove forward in a gust of icy winds, sword pointed straight at the monk’s eyes.
*clang* Palm met with sword once more as the monk’s eyebrows jumped in surprise; the sword was blocked but his signature buddhist skill was interrupted in the process.
Spinning his sword around, he dove right back at the monk’s eyes, pushing him back with every step he took.
“Fiend! How can Wu Jue allow your unrepenting arrogance to exist any longer!?”
As he said that, the buddhist closed his eyes in concentration and that golden light erupted once more, filling the sky with sanskrit in an instant. Behind him, a hallowed statue of Buddha himself descended from the heavens —this, this was the skill of the Western Doya’s ancestor Buddha, Du E.
Seeing that, Ning Chen immediately focused his mind. With his sword as a medium, he summoned forth a rain of frost and pushed his cultivation base to its limits. As he did so, the raining snowflakes began to violently swirl around.
The two blows met face to face in a thunderous clash. On one side, the sacred light of the Buddha washed over the entire world with its benevolent light but just as it did so, a dark, almost inky radiance burst through the golden light and directly stabbed towards the right eye of Wu Jue.
Eyes still closed, the monk had no way to advance but Ning Chen on the hand, could. Flipping his right palm, he loosened the grip on his sword and immediately shoved the end of the Ink Sword.
Amidst a shattering barrier, the buddhist desperately retreated. Beneath his eyelids however, one could see a trace of blood begin to ooze out.
His Diamond Body had been destroyed and Ning Chen’s silvery Qi now ran amok within his own. In that instant, his body shuddered after which his mouth was dyed a bloody red.
“Oh righteous buddhist, where is your Buddha now?” With a wave of his sword, he sent the young man flying amidst the lingering coldness of his words.
Wu Jue was sent staggering back for ten steps before finally stabilizing himself. A gout of blood erupted from his mouth and in that instant, his expression wilted.
A fiend showing mercy was anathema to a buddhist’s mission. It was, without a doubt, the greatest irony for the buddhist. Truly, where had his buddha gone.
*shing* The Ink Sword returned to its sheath. Coldly sweeping his eyes over the crowd, Ning Chen left the inn manager some silvers before promptly taking little Ming Yue with him up the stairs.
With a resounding bang, he slammed the door shut after which he fell to his knees and spat out a mouthful of blood.
“What happened to you?” Ming Yue jumped down in fright and promptly went to help him to his feet.
“I’m fine.” As he said that, he managed to force out a smile on his face. What a fearsome buddhist sacred skill, what a fearsome Diamond Body. Had it not been for that monk’s lack of experience, the victor in this showdown wouldn’t be clear at all.
Those bald donkeys from the Western Doya were truly tough to deal with as expected. No wonder Grand Xia had to permanently station a military marquis there to guard over that region.
For now, Ning Chen closed his eyes shut in meditation and forcefully suppressed his injuries. Succeeding a long while later, he slowly opened his eyes once more.
Standing before him was a noticeably worried little Ming Yue. Amidst the concern on her face, the slap mark became that much more conspicuous. At that, he couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt. He said that he would protect and yet he allowed her to suffer such a great humiliation.
“Does it still hurt?” He asked in a soft voice as he gingerly caressed her swollen cheeks.
“Not anymore.” She shook her head.
“I’ve made you suffer…”
“It’s alright.” As she said that, she bit down on her teeth and held back the tears in her eyes.
“There won’t be a second time, I promise!” Saying that, he wrapped his arms around her and gently embraced her.
“Mhm.” Hearing that, she finally couldn’t hold back the tears in her eyes and cried.
Though she was the emperor of a dynasty, she had to suffer such humiliation in a remote place like this; for the little girl, her tolerance had reached its limits long ago.
*sigh* Truly, this wasn’t something he could get used to.
“I almost forgot, here’s your fish.” At that, he retrieved the grilled fish he kept in his garments, thankfully, it was still warm.
Eyes still moist, she got up from his embrace and accepted the slightly flattened grilled fish. She then bit down on it, eyes still watering. This time however, they were tears of joy and appreciation.
Now that she had her fill of food, Ning Chen pulled her aside to the bed and had her plop herself down on the bed while he squatted down next to her. As he did so, he promptly activated the Scroll of Life within himself. A second later, a silvery thread of Qi sprung out of his left hand and began to flow continuously into the slap mark on her face.
While all that was happening, all she could feel was a cooling sensation on her face that rapidly alleviated the spicy hotness of that humiliating slap.
On the side, he retrieved a protective talisman from his garments and using his remaining free hand, he tied it around her neck like a necklace. That was something he already had in his possession which was also tied to the crescent jade pendant he still kept with him. Mostly likely it was given to him by Zhang Sun when he was still unconscious. Now that he no longer needed it, he might as well give it to little Ming Yue as a tiny present.
“Tomorrow, we’ll leave for Grand Xia. It might be dangerous, but, I’ll protect you.”
“Mhm.” She merely nodded and didn’t try to refuse. She knew that he would never barge on this. While he treated her well, going so far as to comply with her every whim, but with regards to these fundamental questions, there was no way he would relent.
“You should get some sleep, we’ll need to rush tomorrow.” As he said that, he ruffled her hair gently.
“Mhm.” Without saying anything more, she obediently laid down and closed her eyes.
Seeing that, he walked off to the side and snuffed out the candle light before promptly sitting down next to bedside.
After today’s battle, he discovered that in a battle against those disciples of the Xiantian, his skills were barely able to keep pace. Simply put, he had only the skill the old sword master taught him and the one recorded on the Scroll of Life. Unfortunately, he hadn’t mastered the second one and even if he did, he couldn’t use it.
The price was simply too high for him to bear.
As for the skill recorded on the Scroll of Earth, its basic requirements were too high for him; it required one to be a Xiantian in order to learn it. For him right now, it was basically worthless.
Till date, the best plan for raising his combat strength quickly would be to find a skill he could learn. However, this wasn’t a simple matter at all. All the cultivation techniques and skills were monopolized by the various factions in the world. If one wanted to learn one, they would most likely have to pay a steep price.
In this entire world, Prince Yan was the only one he knew of that didn’t employ the skills of others. Given his talents, he had no need to learn the skills of others either, all his skills were all self-created.
As he thought about that, he suddenly realized something. Of those two astonishing sword Qi he witnessed in the desert, one of them probably belonged to the senior. As for the other one, he had a pretty good guess who it belonged to as well.
In this vast world, the only one who could match against a swordsman Xiantian like him was that Sword residing in Sword City. The senior mentioned that he was searching for a desert sword, most likely, that Sword from Sword City was there for the same reason as well.
However, there was one thing he still didn’t know, exactly how was the senior faring now. The senior mentioned that he would come find him after obtaining that desert sword but up till now, there was no trace of the senior anywhere.
Naturally, he had faith in the senior’s strength, but that Sword from Sword City had the strength to fight against those five Xiantian masters. Ning Chen couldn’t help but be concerned about the senior.
After returning to Grand Xia, the first thing he would try his best to do would be to search for information about the senior. If that truly wasn’t possible, he would have to rely on Zhang Sun for help.
Thus, the night passed quickly and the sun rose on the second day of their stay in this city. The moment little Ming Yue woke up, the pair promptly set off.
Ming Yue wasn’t willing to leave for Grand Xia that fast so she mostly requested to walk herself. As usual, Ning Chen complied with her request and only piggybacked her when she finally wore herself out. It was then that he picked up the pace and rushed off.
A seventh-grade martial practitioner’s speed could only be described as astonishing when he focused his efforts into rushing, this was even more so for Ning Chen who had the Scroll of Life to help him forge an unparalleled cultivation base. Thanks to those heavenly relics, his True Qi recovery rate was leaps and bounds higher than a normal seventh-grade, he basically didn’t have to stop to rest throughout.
After two days and one night of travelling like that, the pair arrived in the Northern Plains which separated the two dynasties, even in spite of Ming Yue’s uncooperative behavior.
This was the site of that fateful battle between the two dynasties. Strewn all throughout were the broken halberds and banners of the various armies. Within these vast plains which spanned several hundred li, there were simply too many corpses of Grand Xia soldiers buried within.
In the desolate nights of the Northern Plains, the air seemed almost frigid as the cold moon shone bright above. Such nights were so cold that they struck fear into the hearts of men. As the frigid winds howled in the night, one could feel the biting cold penetrate their bones.
As the pair proceeded through the Northern Plains, hand in hand, they passed by countless corpses of soldiers strewn over the grounds. During that fateful battle, a veteran army of 100 000 were massacred, leaving behind only 40 000 survivors after one day of fighting. It was an unbelievable defeat for Grand Xia and it was this fact that turned the Northern Plains into a no man’s land.
As the pair quietly proceeded through the deserted city, the heart of a certain person progressively sank.
Step after step, all they saw were broken halberds and young faces who didn’t show any fear of death even in their moment of passing, all they had was a longing for their kin in distant lands.
“From this moment on we part with blood and bone, should the heavens take pity on us, may we turn into warrior spirits after death, and protect the lands of Grand Xia forever more.”
Those were the words written in blood on a tattered banner lying silent beside a fallen general. Seeing that, Ning Chen solemnly bent over and picked up the bloodstained banner, his heart sinking as he did so.
“The Northern Marquis deserves to die.”
Knuckles cracking audibly in the silence, he silently cursed to himself. Till now, tens of thousands of soldiers were denied even a basic burial; for this atrocity, even a million deaths wouldn’t absolve the Northern Marquis.
At the side, little Ming Yue was just as solemn as she took in the sight of the ghost city. In the face of an entire city of dead soldiers who fought to protect their homeland, all words seemed like sophistry.
Whatever difference in standpoints they had, whatever schemes and plots, they all disappeared with death and returned to nothingness. All that was left behind was a deep sense of respect for the soldiers who gave their lives to protect their country.
“There shouldn’t be wars at all.”
“Should you ever regain your authority, take heed to place the interests of your people first. I don’t know if such conflicts between countries are right or wrong but the existence of war is undoubtedly, and always will be, wrong!” Ning Chen declared in a low voice.
Ming Yue nodded her head and obediently took his words to heart.