“Are you sure about this?” Inside the abbey, the young boy asked the lean man standing in front of him.
“I’m tired of waiting.” The man clasped his bag and extinguished his cigarette.
“Is it really him?” The young boy’s attention shifted from the man to the bag.
“It doesn’t matter. He can’t die right now…” The man said anxiously as he threw the cigarette butt into a plastic bottle.
“You want me to watch over him?”
“Aunt Wu’s doing that.”
“Aunt Wu… Are you sure? We won’t have a second chance. If we fail, then for the last thousand years…”
“I know. That’s why I’ve come to you…”
“Fine. I owe you my life. Tell me, what do you need me for?” The young boy adjusted his collar.
“I need you to go to the mountains…”
“The mountains? There?”
“Yes. I need you to go have a look at that rock…” The man turned around and left.
* * *
“Are you here for him?” Aunt Wu turned around and asked with a frown, not intimidated slightest by Li Huaibei.
“No, I’m here for you.” Li Huaibei took a deep breath and bowed down once again.
“For me? What for?” Aunt Wu pursed her lips nonchalantly.
“Please, take me under your apprenticeship!.” Li Huaibei said and suddenly knelt down on all fours.
‘What… the hell?’ Li Yiming jumped out of the way. ‘What? Li Huaibei asking her to be his master?’
“You haven’t changed. You’re a sage, and you’re going to kneel down just like that? When did I ever say I would accept you as my disciple?” Aunt Wu said.
“You deserve all of my worship.” Li Huaibei said in a serious tone and bent down once again.
“Alright, I understand.” Aunt Wu waved her hand, and Li Huaibei was lifted up against his will.
“You, you told me that I could come to find you once I’ve made up my mind…”
“So you’ve settled?”
“Yes…” Li Huaibei nodded.
“Unfortunately, I’ve already found a pupil. You know I won’t take two students at the same time.” Aunt Wu clapped her hands and said.
“You’ve found a pupil?” Li Huaibei was surprised.
Aunt Wu shrugged her shoulders.
“My apologies, I’ve been too rash…” Li Huaibei sighed in disappointment. “May I ask who that is?”
“Him.” Aunt Wu raised her plump arm and pointed at Li Yiming.
“Wh-” Li Yiming looked back, hoping to see someone behind him.
“Li Yiming?” Li Huaibei said.
“Yes.” Aunt Wu snorted her nose.
“Me? What?” Li Yiming was dumbfounded.
“What? Shouldn’t you kneel down in front of your master?” Aunt Wu suddenly shouted with an imposing voice unfitting of her appearance.
“I…” Li Yiming suddenly felt a tremendous force pushing him down. The impact of his knees hitting the ground created two small craters. Even with Li Yiming gathering his energy, he could not resist the push.
“You need to show me obedience!” Aunt Wu’s voice came again, and this time, Li Yiming felt a push on his back.
Li Yiming’s forehead hit the ground with a thud. Li Yiming remained stunned for a moment at being forced to kowtow someone he did not know. He then yelled out loudly and resisted as much as he could.
“Three times!” Aunt Wu’s amused voice came again. Li Yiming was lifted back into the air.
“Again!” Li Yiming was smashed back into the crater of dirt.
Li Yiming burst out in anger. His eyes started to glow gold and bloodlust soon shrouded his mind ‘You dare push your luck when not even the sky could crush me?’
Li Yiming’s body trembled as he resisted Aunt Wu’s pressure, and he slowly raised his head.
“Ugh…” Li Yiming could feel the pressure increase. Veins popped out of his forehead and neck, and another round of fissures appeared in the ground below.
“One last.” Aunt Wu raised her right hand once more.
As the mounting pressure on his back vanished, Li Yiming leaped up into the air and spat out a mouthful of blood.
“Bow!” Aunt Wu lowered her hand once again.
“As if!” Li Yiming let out a savage cry and clenched his fists. His clothes were shredded instantly, revealing his muscle-bound body.
“Not bad, but looking good doesn’t do anything by itself.” Aunt Wu grinned and pushed her hand down again.
“Ahhhh!” The golden light inundated Li Yiming’s irises, and a silver metallic sphere fell from his forehead, shapeshifting as it touched the ground.
“Oh?” Aunt Wu’s interest was piqued.
“Arrrgh!” Li Yiming slowly stood up and raised his head toward Aunt Wu.
A flash of lightning ran across the sky and a giant purple eye appeared.
“Heaven’s Punishment?” Aunt Wu looked at the sky; Li Yiming had called upon a power which far exceeded what was tolerated by Heaven’s Laws.
“You won’t be able to avoid that last bow, even with Heaven’s Punishment.” Aunt Wu squinted and performed a seal with her right hand.
“Seal!” Aunt Wu pointed with her right hand. Two rays of light, as sharp as swords, flew toward the eye in the sky and Li Yiming respectively.
The eye in the sky was sliced into two, while the ribbon of light that flew toward Li Yiming wrapped around his body and held him tightly in place.
As Li Yiming was immobilized, all of his energy was suddenly drained along with the golden light inside of his eyes.
“Kneel!” Aunt Wu smiled again. Li Yiming fell onto the ground and knelt down.
“You…” Li Yiming looked at Aunt Wu, angry but powerless.
“Very well. You are now my pupil.” Aunt Wu ignored Li Yiming’s hostility and smiled.
“You’re not getting away with this!” As Li Yiming felt the binding on his limbs go away, his sword appeared in his hand with a flash of light. He leaped into the air and slashed at Aunt Wu’s throat.
“Holding onto your sword too tightly, too high, too fast on your left foot, and you’re not using the strength from your waist…” Aunt Wu said stopped Li Yiming’s blade by catching it with two fingers, disarming him.
“But not bad… Did you teach him?” Aunt Wu looked at Li Huaibei.
Li Huaibei smiled and took a step back.
“Who are you?” Li Yiming was finally beginning to appreciate Aunt Wu’s strength. After seeing Li Huaibei begging to become her student, and her slicing Heaven’s Punishment into two, he realized that he had gravely underestimated her. More importantly, it did not look like she had any plans of harming him.
“That’s not important. What’s important is that I know who you are.”
All of Li Yiming’s anger and frustration vanished as soon as he heard Aunt Wu’s words.
A cell phone’s ring was suddenly heard from Aunt Wu’s shopping bag.
“Oh, no! I need to go pick up my grandson. Talk with each other, I’ll come back to find you later.” Aunt Wu gasped, threw Li Yiming’s sword back at him and made for the exit of the park.
“Wait!” Li Yiming wanted to catch up to Aunt Wu, but somehow lost sight of her after two steps.
“I… I…” Li Yiming was completely lost.
“Congratulations!” Li Huaibei smiled bitterly and saluted Li Yiming.
“Congratulations on what? Who is she? What?” Li Yiming asked Li Huaibei. ‘At least he’s still here…’
“She’s Aunt Wu.”
“Yes, I know that already, but just who is Aunt Wu?”
“Nine-step Sword,” Li Huaibei said seriously.
“Yes, Nine-step sword, Aunt Wu.”
“You’ve never heard of her name?” Li Huaibei asked.
“What do you think?”
Li Huaibei took a deep breath to calm down. ‘Doesn’t seem like he wants to be her pupil, and yet…’
“Alright. Well, you know Mr. Kong, right?” Li Huaibei asked.
“Yes.” Li Yiming nodded and guessed whether Aunt Wu was related to Mr. Kong.
“Mr. Kong has never been defeated in combat, but someone did force him into a draw once.”
“Don’t tell me that it’s Aunt Wu…”
“Yes. It’s her. Aunt Wu, the nine-step sword. Thirty years ago, at the edge of the Southern Sea.”
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