Chapter 17 – Sword of the North
Whether Li Yiming would still have left the room if he knew what Liu Meng had thought of was a question whose answer could not be known, but having traded the opportunity for his curiosity, Li Yiming quickly arrived to its boundaries. From far away, he judged its size to be at least a few kilometers in diameter. Upon closer inspection, Li Yiming realized that the barrier was actually very thin and nearly transparent. After grazing it carefully and not feeling anything at all when he did so, Li Yiming decided to take the risk and dove head first into it. Nothing seemed to have changed after he entered, but as he progressed deeper inside, he quickly became unsettled by the ominous silence in the streets. There were no pedestrians, no cars, nothing at all except the projected light of the street lamps. Li Yiming took out a long blade from his bracelet and advanced carefully with the weapon in front of him.
“You’ve been following me for the entire day. Are you alone?” The young man with red hair squatted down on top of a car with a half-finished hamburger and looked at the man in front of him.
“Am I not enough?” Li Huaibei threw his cigarette butt into his plastic bottle and tightened the cap. He swung his arm and the bottle landed right inside a garbage can behind him after a beautiful parabolic flight.
“You should quit smoking. It’s bad for your health,” The young man with red hair slurred between two bites of his hamburger.
“What you’re eating right now is junk food, and that’s also terrible for your health,” Li Huaibei answered in his usual, composed voice.
“I want to eat good food, but it’s hard to find. I’ve waited the entire day yet only you showed up.” The young man put the burger back into its packaging paper carefully and licked away the ketchup on the corners of the lips.
“I’ve been observing you for the entire day. You’re a funny guy. Become the spirit of my sword and I’ll spare you,” Li Huaibei said, calm as ever.
“Ha? Confident I see. Do you know who I am?” The young man stood up. The metallic accessories he wore clinked against each other as he jumped down from the car.
“Of course, Bi Fang.”
“Well then, why are you so arrogant? Are all guardians this full of themselves now?” Bi Fang dashed towards Li Huaibei as he spoke the last word, leaving a scarlet shadow behind him. His hand was enveloped by a red halo of light.
Li Huaibei raised his hand and challenged Bi Fang with his own ray of white light. The latter twisted his body, dodged the attack and continued on his path toward Li Huaibei. Bi Fang extended his fingers like the claws of a beast after spotting its prey and made ready to tear through Li Huaibei’s chest once he reached him. Li Huaibei moved his hand left and right, as if he was working on an invisible drawing. Luminous lines appeared one by one as he moved his fingers, forming a net of light in front of him. The net wrapped itself around Bi Fang and a sizzling sound was heard as it touched him. Bi Fang gazed at the net of light that came closer and closer to his limbs. Suddenly, his figure shrunk until he became small enough to slip through between the threads of light. As he approached Li Huaibei, Bi Fang extended one single finger, on which the skin had turned scarlet, and smiled confidently in expectation of the result of his attack. However, a fraction of a second later, Bi Fang’s countenance changed and he quickly moved to the side. A beam of silver light grazed past the corner of his eye, leaving behind it a bloody wound. Bi Fang jumped back thrice as he landed and placed himself far away from Li Huaibei.
“The projection of your blade? Interesting.” Bi Fang wiped away the blood on his face and channeled his energy into a red flame that enveloped his body. The light rose and tumbled and became more and more intense.
“You should have done this from the start.” Li Huaibei extended his right hand with a flat palm. The silver light that covered his palm rippled and the tip of a slowly spinning sword emerged. The blade was about two feet long and two inches wide, with a yin yang symbol carved on the hilt. It was an ancient, rustic-looking blade that has seen the bloodshed of many battles. The weapon’s motion slowly came to a halt and it floated quietly above Li Huaibei’s palm.
“The sword in the palm, you’re Li Huaibei?” Bi Fang was a little nervous at first, but it quickly turned into excitement. “Eden? I’ll see today if your flesh is as delicious as rumors make it to be.” Bi Fang’s figure once again morphed into a glowing red shadow and shot toward Li Huaibei. He circled around him and sought every opportunity to strike. Li Huaibei endured the attacks and stood still, and it seemed like he did not find it difficult at all to keep Bi Fang at bay.
“You’re wasting your time. My sword has just been improved, and I’m only missing a spirit for the blade. Serve me and you shall not be disappointed,” Li Huaibei said calmly with one hand behind his back.
“Bullshit. I’m Bi Fang, and you want me to serve the will of your sword? How about you become my nightly snack, you won’t be disappointed either.” Bi Fang stopped moving. The fire that surrounded his body turned from bright red to orange. His metal accessories melted into droplets of iron that floated hung him like the stars in the sky. It was a beautiful sight.
Li Huaibei chuckled and extended his right arm. The hilt of his floating sword slid into his fingers and, after a shockwave that emanated from where he stood, he himself seemed to have changed. He was sharp, just like the sword he held. Bi Fang let out a long, beast-like screech and the melted droplets of metal around him shot toward Li Huaibei like bullets. Li Huaibei weaved a tight barrier with the shadows of his sword that stopped all the oncoming projectiles.
“How many do you have left?” Li Huaibei said, still standing still.
“Oh, I’m just getting started.” Bi Fang’s irises had turned from an inky darkness to an incandescent crimson. He raised his hands far above his head and the dozens of cars parked on the street suddenly lifted off the ground. Just like his accessories, the vehicles melted into a puddle of liquid metal as they approached him. The cars merged into a huge fireball that hung above Bi Fang like a small sun. Its surface boiled and rippled, and its heat was even enough to bring a visible distortion to its surface. If the whole fireball was to be brought down upon the city, it would no doubt have apocalyptic consequences.
“So, are we going to have a barbecue or a braising today? I forgot to bring the condiments by the way,” Bi Fang said jokingly.
Li Huaibei answered his challenge by putting his sword flat in front of his chest and taunting Bi Fang.
“Die!” Bi Fang screeched, and his voice resonated like a bird’s hum. He thrust his arms forward and the huge sphere of fire began its descent.
Li Huaibei looked at the oncoming projectile with a serious countenance. He raised his sword above his head and slashed downward. A crescent of silver, shaped like the nascent moon, flew toward the fireball. When the two collided, the crescent sliced through its opponent easily and continued its flight toward Bi Fang. The latter dodged swiftly and with a movement of his arms, he redirected the two halves of his attack toward Li Huaibei. Li Huaibei had finally moved from where he stood, and, instead of retreating, he moved forward and slid through the two smaller fireballs, seemingly unaffected by their intense heat.
Bi Fang’s fireballs merged back together after surpassing Li Huaibei, and, with a pull of his arm, turned around and flew it back. To finish his attack, Bi Fang retracted his arms and pushed inward on his thorax. He opened his mouth, and, just like a dragon, spat out a jet of fire.
Beset from both the front and the back, Li Huaibei stopped moving and jumped high. The fire Bi Fang spat out collided against his fireball, and the sphere’s color brightened further. The flaming projectile changed its course once again and chased after Li Huaibei. Li Huaibei still held his composure despite the projectile’s slowly catching up to him. He swung his sword quickly beneath him, once again weaving a net of light to stop Bi Fang’s attack. When the fireball collided against the net, it was minced into thousands of orbs that rained down and pursued Li Huaibei, at a much faster pace than before. Bi Fang smiled when he saw it and knew that his victory was close.
Li Huaibei sank his energy into his fall and managed to outrace the droplets of light. The instant he touched the ground, he flipped his blade around his wrist and thrust it downward. A silver curtain extended above his head and the rain of fire extinguished itself with an uninterrupted sizzling sound. “Not bad, it seems like you’re worth the day I’ve spent on you.” Li Huaibei slowly stood up. His white clothing remained untainted despite the intensity of the battle.
“I expected nothing less from you, Sword of the North.” Bi Fang gritted his teeth and raised his hands over his head again. The skyscrapers around him began to tremble: he was going to repeat his attack, only this time he would use the building around him.
“I think that you should call it a day for now.” Li Huaibei swung his sword three times, and three silvery rays shot toward Bi Fang. Bi Fang retracted his arms and jumped to dodge the attacks. However, despite avoiding the first two, the third one hit his left arm and caused a shower of blood. Li Huaibei pounced onto Bi Fang, aiming for his back with the tip of his blade.
Bi Fang’s eyes burned with craze and he suddenly brought his limbs back and curled up like a ball. A split second later, an explosion erupted and a bird soared into the open sky. The body of the bird was a burning red, decorated in some places by specks of blue. Its beak was white and it possessed only one leg that supported its crane-like body: this was the true form of the beast, Bi Fang.
Bi Fang let out a high-pitched screech and tried to fly away. Li Huaibei trailed behind him and accelerated until he was close enough to reach out for his leg with his hand. Li Huaibei ignored the blaze that surrounded Bi Fang’s body and threw him down. Despite his size, Bi Fang crashed down into the ground like a meteorite and produced a crater of remarkable size. Li Huaibei elevated himself further and raised his sword. His weapon had turned into a shadowy blade that pierced the clouds.
“Serve me, or die,” Li Huabei said coldly while casting down a dominating look upon his enemy. The smile on his face had vanished.
“Serve you? I’d rather die.” Bi Fang limped to stand up on his only leg and stared back at Li Huaibei with fierce eyes. He flapped his fiery wings and the flames around him heaved in preparation for his next attack.
The immense sword-shaped shadow swung down, bringing with it imminent destruction for anything in its path. The flame around Bi Fang’s body boiled as it touched the blade, and after a while, it suddenly collapsed completely and spread out into light specks like sparks from a dying ember. However, if one was to take a closer look, one would notice that each of the glowing specks looked like a miniature Bi Fang.
“A surprising move.” Li Huaibei smirked. He placed his sword in front of him with its blade pointing toward the sky. His weapon split into two, and then four, and then a cloud of shining light dissipated as the rays chased after the specks of red light. Each speck had precisely one silver ray chasing after it, and both flew around the buildings of the city like a swarm of fireflies.
Li Huaibei let out a contemptuous snort and waited for the outcome of his blow. He suddenly frowned and turned his head.
“The mantis stalks the cicada, and yet you dare to be the oriole?” Li Huaibei dashed with bright eyes toward a parking lot nearby. 1
Finally, a real fight. xD Let’s hope that our Yiming will grow to this level one day. 🙂
1. Same proverb from a few chapters ago, basically A hunts B while unaware that itself is being hunted by C.