“It seems your little friend has taken action. But the odds aren’t in his favor. How surprising… I thought he was a just representative.” Bing Shuai gulped down his cup of wine and turned his head in the direction of the villa. Li Huaibei also raised his head.
“Aren’t you worried at all?” Two voices rang out at the same time. There was a slight pause, and then laughter echoed from both sides of the table.
“It seems we have similar motives. Let’s just drink peacefully.” Li Huaibei refilled Bing Shuai’s cup, as if they were old friends having a chit chat after not seeing each other for a long while.
However, Li Huaibei’s ostensible calmness hid a growing nervosity. ‘I trust in his abilities, but he’s directly attacking the headquarters of the opposition… I can’t make any sudden moves yet.’
Likewise, an avalanche of thoughts raced past Bing Shuai’s mind as he observed Li Huaibei. ‘He’s really confident. Does he have backup? Should I just take him down now?’
* * *
“We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience… terribly sorry… The young master has had one drink too many and is currently wrecking the house in his drunken craze. We’ve already contacted Mr. Guo… We can’t do anything about the young master… you know…” The villa’s security guards have taken up position in a semicircle in front of the main entrance to fend off the neighbors and other guards that have been alerted by the commotion.
Inside the villa, the courtyard and the garden were already beyond recognition. Li Yiming was bathed in blood, bloodlust shining within his irises. Man Dao’s left shoulder was charred, while the man who punched Li Yiming had a gaping wound in his gut. The man with the sword looked back and forth between Li Yiming and his companions with a mixture of fear and hesitation. The shadows on the ground were no longer dancing as swiftly as before.
“He is this strong?’ Xue Mei put herself between Tian Yan and the window and observed the fight below. She had watched Li Yiming fight with no regard for his own life. With the advantage of his teleportation technique and endurance, Li Yiming completely ignored defense and purely focused on offense, trading blow for blow. Furthermore, lightning coursed through his body, inflicting any oncoming attacker with a nasty shock.
“He…He’s Fu Bo’s friend…” Tian Yan murmured when she caught onto what was happening outside.
“Fu Bo? Who’s that?” Xue Mei turned around and asked, but Tian Yian stayed silent.
“He can’t keep this up forever at this rate. It’s not like he has unlimited life marks.” Man Dao stretched his charred shoulder and spat out viciously.
In such a battle of attrition, it was not only a contest of skills and stamina, but of life marks. Every time a technique was used, it was paid for with the guardians’ own life force. Ying Mei’s team’s superiority in numbers allowed them to seek the opportune moment to strike, and even rest between their attacks. However, the lightning that ran through Li Yiming’s body since the start of the battle showed no signs of weakening. This was the kind of expenditure that not even a sage should be able to afford.
“He’s planning on dying here and dragging us down with him. Just keep him surrounded. He’ll exhaust his life marks and kill himself soon enough.” Ying Mei’s voice came from the darkness.
The man with the sword squinted and rushed forward. He feigned a few strikes and hopped backward. Man Dao followed behind, going for a few wide sweeps before retreating. Ying Mei and her other teammates circled around Li Yiming and looked for an opening. Their well-executed rotation left Li Yiming with no way out; Li Yiming was doomed to a slow and painful death.
‘Yiming, you can’t keep this up. Even though you’re not losing any of your life marks, your body can’t take much more.’ Bai Ze reminded Li Yiming. She could not understand why Li Yiming would choose such an irrational fighting style, which was unlike his usual prudent self.
‘Yiming?’ Bai Ze called out again. Li Yiming seemed to be deaf and continued with his frenzy.
Li Yiming raised his hand to block a punch while Man Dao went in for a slash aimed at Li Yiming’s left rib cage. The lightning on Li Yiming’s body sparked, but a black claw reached out from the shadow beneath and nailed him in place.
With a mighty roar, Li Yiming withdrew his hand and slammed a ball of lightning toward his own shadow.
“Ahhh!” A pained scream echoed as the shadows dispersed. Ying Mei stumbled out of the shadows with a burnt back a few feet away.
At the same time, Man Dao’s blade cut through Li Yiming’s flesh, causing blood to gush out. His attack produced a wound that had reached Li Yiming’s inner organs. At the same time, a fist slammed into Li Yiming’s chest, causing him to fly backward with a trail of blood. However, the latter vanished with another flash of light and appeared right behind his attacker, sending a strike that forced the latter down to one knee. Li Yiming leaped backward as soon as his attack landed, narrowly dodging a sword strike.
“It’s the same thing again… This can’t go on. Tian Yan, stay here. I’m going down to help.” Xue Mei’s uneasiness grew. She opened the doors and rushed towards the garden. As her steps grew quicker and quicker, plum flowers appeared on her cheeks, and her hair turned from a dull black to violet.
‘Yiming?’ Bai Ze called out in frustration and anger. She was fully aware of his injuries and his condition. ‘With a few more scrapes like that, it’s a just a matter of time before he collapses.’
‘Unless…’ Bai Ze came to a terrifying realization. ‘Heart Trial Punishment…’
* * *
“Li Yiming…” Bing Shuai once again looked at Li Huaibei; he had just received a report of the battle. The backup that was expected to arrive never came, but Li Yiming’s performance in battle had thoroughly surprised him. ‘Such tenacity and viciousness at such a young age… How? Just because of… him?’
Li Huaibei slowly refilled his cup of wine, almost finishing the jug. ‘From Bing Shuai’s expression, it seems that Li Yiming is at a stalemate. But on my end…’
“Hmm…!?!” Bing Shuai suddenly shot up with furrowed brows. He looked at the other end of the city with a grim countenance.
“Did something happen?” Li Huaibei asked amusedly.
“So… Wang Liping was working with you all along?” Bing Shuai’s eyes affixed on Li Huaibei with fires of rage dancing within them.
“Wang Liping? Stargaze?” Li Huaibei was surprised. ‘She’s here too? I thought she was…’
“I’ve been here for thirty years. No one is going to ruin this for me.” Bing Shuai crushed the wine cup in his right hand, and a frosty mist gathered around him.
Li Huaibei furrowed his brows. He remained seated, but flipped over his right hand. From the middle of his palm, his soul weapon emerged with a flash of light, ready to draw blood at any moment.
However, Bing Shuai merely glanced at him and suddenly vanished.
‘Teleportation!’ Li Huaibei sighed and withdrew his weapon. ‘As expected of 30 years of careful planning and hard work… Who would’ve thought that he had set up a teleportation field? But why did he suddenly leave? What did Stargaze do?’ Li Huaibei hesitated between the villa and Bing Shuai. Finally, he resolved to chasing after Bing Shuai.
* * *
A figure cut through the city, leaping from one rooftop to the next. Stargaze’s traditional Chinese robe fluttered gracefully in the wind, conferring to her the air of a fairy flying through the sky. Fu Bo was being held in her left hand, unconscious.
All of a sudden, Stargaze furrowed her brows and landed on the rooftop of a nearby building with a sigh. She looked at the empty area in front of her and waited calmly.
“If even you have resorted to backstabbing, then you must be working towards something truly important.” Bing Shuai stepped out of a mini ice tornado with a steely remark.
“I have nothing to do with them. However, I must take him with me today.” Stargaze replied composedly.
“Why? Unless… the key is him?” Bing Shuai’s gaze shifted Fu Bo. ‘Fu Bo is definitely not just any guardian, not with his powerful passive technique…’ Bing Shuai had left a small runic mark on Fu Bo, allowing him to track his location. As such, he knew as soon as Stargaze exited the villa.
“You’re wrong. He has nothing to do with your plan.” Stargaze interposed herself between Fu Bo and Bing Shuai. ‘This boy is very important, I musn’t let anything happen to him…’
“Hmm? Who exactly is he? For you to regard him so highly…” Bing Shuai noticed Stargaze’s gesture.
“Regardless of who he is, I must take him with me today.” A silver glow radiated around Stargaze, which mirrored that of the stars in the sky. Stargaze showed no signs of backing off or compromising.
“In Hangzhou… You may not be able to.” Cold air turned into a frosty mist around Bing Shuai. His patience has reached its limit after having been played around like a fool several times already.
“Can you stop the both of us, though? I believe we’re on the same boat.” Stargaze looked behind Bing Shuai. A ray of light cut through the sky with a shrieking sound; Li Huaibei had arrived, his sword ready.
“You already broke through?” Bing Shuai looked at Li Huaibei in surprise. Previously, when neither used their abilities, Bing Shuai did not notice Li Huaibei’s power levels. However, he could now appreciate the extent of Li Huaibei’s powers. ‘Sage level? This was the reason for his confidence?’
Li Huaibei ignored Bing Shuai and looked at Fu Bo. He raised his right hand and summoned his weapon calmly. He had positioned himself to form a perfect triangle with Bing Shuai and Stargaze.
“What did he promise to both of you? You’re putting a lot on the line.” Bing Shuai did not capture the meaning of Li Huaibei’s position relative to him and Stargaze.
“I’ve told you, this is a misunderstanding. This boy behind me has nothing to do with your plans. As for him…” Stargaze glanced at Li Huaibei before continuing, “He’s not even related to what’s happening here. He’s in the Northern Sea right now.”
“What?” Bing Shuai said in disbelief. Li Huaibei’s attention was also piqued by Stargaze’s revelation.
“You’re being paranoid. Just think about it. He would never bother with such trivial matters.” Stargaze added.
Bing Shuai came to an abrupt realization. ‘She’s right with his status, why would he bother doing all this. Should he want it, he would’ve already…’
“What? Ji Xiaoqin has awakened guardian powers?” Bing Shuai suddenly brought his hand to his left ear and exclaimed, turning back to look in the direction of the villa.
“You better not be lying to me…” Bing Shuai departed from the rooftop, wrapped in a blizzard. Ji Xiaoqin was of utmost importance now, especially if he was not involved in the affair.
Big thanks to Merrick making this double release possible :3. Also the he that Bing Shuai is thinking about is Mr. Kong
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