Chapter 203 – A Battle of Puppets
“Your martial arts will never surpass mine!” Ma Chaoqun moved his feet and raised his shoulder. His treasured blade struck out in a series of slashes. He launched thirteen attacks from thirteen different angles. Every single attack was as swift as wind, tearing through the air and kicking up a violent gale that whistled loudly.
Driven by hatred, his blade style was pushed to the limit. He moved as fiercely as the wind, filled with a terrifying bearing of trying to drag down the enemy with him. Even though the spectators despised his actions, they were unable to despise his martial arts.
On the other hand, Yu Shukuang no longer possessed the might of his proud sword anymore. His clothes were in tatters, and he responded clumsily. Whenever the flash of the blade pierced through his flurry of swords, a new wound would appear on his body, and he would retreat. Ma Chaoqun was like a knight at an enemy country’s border, leading constant raids and skirmishes in the enemy territory. However, he refused to deal a finishing blow, wanting to humiliate his opponent.
Yu Shukuang rebuked, “What do you have apart from martial arts?”
Ma Chaoqun paled. He had been hit where it hurt. He was ugly, and he was vulgar with his words. Apart from his martial arts, he really was not good at anything else, which was why Yu Shukuang managed to steal Zi’er’s heart from him, leaving him alone to wander through the jianghu. Aside from his martial arts, he had nothing.
He roared madly, “Die!”
He channeled true qi into his blade, and it lit up with blinding light, crushing down like a mountain.
Yu Shukuang tried to parry it with his sword, but it had already been heavily damaged, just like Yu Shukuang himself. It shattered as soon as they collided.
“Master!” “Brother Yu!” Numerous cries rang out, but they were not as fast as the blade. No one could stop the attack!
Yu Shukuang closed his eyes helplessly. “Zi’er, I’m coming to see you.”
On a luxurious carriage outside the manor, two young men in lovely, silken robes who were as proud as roosters sat beside each other. They sipped some tea leisurely, as if they had no idea what was happening in the Proud Sword manor.
Mao Chaoqun had entered Salt Mountain city on this carriage before getting off and entering the manor.
The young man to the left said, “Junior brother Ma sure is slow. Why can’t he deal with this faster?” He had the life-like tail feather of a male pheasant sewn to his chest. The embroidery was glorious. It was the symbol of the Pheasant’s Grace mountain. Only formal disciples of the third layer and above had the right to wear it. His cultivation was at an impressive fifth layer.
“It’s some piled-up grievances from many years ago, so it’s understandable!” said the other young man in an unconcerned manner. This originated from his arrogance as someone powerful. He had two tail feathers sewn to his chest, which was a symbol of core disciples above the sixth layer.
“Hmph! He has become so pitiful over a woman. With his talent, the second layer should be his limit!”
“The second layer is enough. Once we take back Salt Mountain city, he can remain here to gather talented children for the Pheasant’s Grace mountain. It’ll stop the people from the Green Vine mountain from always getting ahead of us.”
“Wise be senior brother!”
“Stop!” Yu Zijian called out.
Ma Chaoqun suddenly raised his head. A spark shot towards his face. He called out, twisted his blade, and slashed up.
With a boom, the spark exploded. Ma Chaoqun avoided being blown to pieces, but he was knocked away. His eyebrows were singed. He cried out, “A Scarlet Flame talisman!”
Yu Zijian had already helped Yu Shukuang to his feet. “Father, are you alright?”
Yu Shukuang saw how she was alone. “D- did he refuse to help?”
Yu Zijian shook her head and made Yu Shukuang eat the recovery pill Li Qingshan had given to her. She commanded the disciples of the Proud Sword sect before yelling at Ma Chaoqun, “I’ll be your opponent!”
“Girly, do you really think you’re my opponent just because you possess some talismans? Bug off. Let me kill your father, and then I’ll take you to get married!” Ma Chaoqun burst out into laughter as he spoke. He found this all to be extremely interesting. However, no one in the surroundings agreed with him. They all glared at him furiously.
Yu Zijian had originally been trembling in fear, but when she saw Yu Shukuang’s horrible shape, she became furious. “It’s no wonder my mum wouldn’t like a baddie like you!”
Baddie was language used by children. It would only make adults laugh. However, her words utterly infuriated Ma Chaoqun, who replied with, “How do you know that she doesn’t like me? She liked me the most. She constantly called me senior brother, senior brother when she was young…” As he spoke, he wanted to break into tears again!
With his unstable emotions, he truly was like a madman.
Yu Zijian held a talisman. She was extremely reluctant to use it as she thought of what uncle Niu had just said earlier. “Once you use this talisman, it’ll definitely be able to kill him in a single stroke. You cannot be softhearted!”
Ma Chaoqun raised his treasured blade and directly pointed it at Yu Zijian. “Fine. I’ll take you down first, and then I’ll kill your father!”
Looking at Ma Chaoqun as he howled and charged over, Yu Zijian raised her right hand and swept it forcefully from left to right. She produced a golden crescent of light.
Ma Chaoqun’s eyes narrowed. “The Metal Crescent Slash!” However, he had no intentions of retreating. The Metal Crescent Slash was an extremely powerful technique of the metal element. It was swift and fierce, but he was confident that he could block a Metal Crescent Slash from a low grade talisman with his blade. However, the slash was much brighter than he imagined it would be.
Before he could think any further, the golden crescent had vanished from his sight. Oh no, it’s a mid grade talisman! The thought crossed his head and blood splattered, followed by intense pain.
A mid grade talisman was equivalent to a technique used by a sixth layer Qi Practitioner. Although it lacked much of the finer control and adaptability, it was definitely powerful enough. It was not something that a measly second layer Qi Practitioner could block.
Li Qingshan possessed many mid grade talismans. Aside from the auxiliary talismans that could increase speed or strength, these offensive talismans were basically useless to him. He did not need these talismans when he faced his enemies, whether they were strong or weak. However, a mid grade talisman in a battle between weaker Qi Practitioners was a divine weapon that could determine the flow of the battle.
Ma Chaoqun suddenly threw himself to the ground, but he discovered that he was still conscious. The slash had produced a horrifying wound on his shoulder, but it was not fatal.
In the final moment, Yu Zijian’s hand had turned slightly. She had not killed him on the spot. She breathed heavily as she said to Ma Chaoqun, “You’ve lost! I’m not going to kill you, so just leave!”
Li Qingshan shook his head slightly in the dim room. He had told her not to show any mercy. Although he sympathised with this person called Ma to a certain degree, the principle he operated off of was to never show any mercy to people that had been deemed as enemies.
However, he could not blame her either. A girl as kind-hearted as her was rare. Helping her would always be better than helping someone like Qian Rongzhi. It made him much happier in comparison. He shook his head and murmured gently, “You need to look at the circumstances when you strike, but when you strike, you must be merciless!”
“Uncle Niu!” Xiao An giggled tenderly.
Li Qingshan looked like he had just been cut. He grabbed her soft cheeks and pulled at them. “If you keep on calling me that, I’ll rip your mouth to pieces!”
Xiao An said in an unclear voice, “No mowe…”
Ma Chaoqun’s expression changed several times. He stood up by leaning on his blade. “No, I haven’t lost. I will never lose again!”
“D- don’t move!” Yu Zijian was immediately left at a loss as to what to do. She took out another Metal Crescent Slash talisman, and uncle Niu’s words rang through her head, Take an extra one, just in case. He actually seemed to foretell that she would not be able to bring herself to kill him.
Ma Chaoqun continued forwards as if he wanted to die. He had already suffered defeat once. He could not afford to be defeated any more times.
“She has talismans, but don’t we have talismans as well?”
Suddenly, someone called out from outside. A yellow light shot over and stuck to Ma Chaoqun’s back. It was actually also a mid grade talisman.
Light enveloped him from top to bottom. Ma Chaoqun jolted in vigor, and his body became filled with strength. True qi flowed out from his back endlessly. He turned around and said gratefully, “Senior brother Song!”
Yu Shukuang’s expression changed drastically. There were actually other masters from the Pheasant’s Grace mountain here.
The young man with only a single tail feather said in the carriage, “Senior brother, isn’t it a bit of a waste to use a mid grade Vitality talisman on him?”
“The enemy has the assistance of someone much more powerful. Why would she possess two mid grade talismans if she’s just a girl at the first layer? Let’s just wait and see. We have to force this person out and see just who is bold enough to oppose the Pheasant’s Grace mountain!” senior brother Song said coldly.
Li Qingshan frowned. He had sensed the two auras outside right from the beginning. He was not surprised by what they did. He said, “Girlie, you can’t afford to show mercy this time.”
His deep, husky voice immediately boomed out magnificently. Everyone only felt like a gust of wind had blown past them, and it immediately suppressed senior brother Song’s aura from outside.
Yu Shukuang beamed with joy and completely calmed down. The Tiger Butcher was dangerous, but if he was standing behind him and offering him support, it would be extremely relieving news.
Everyone now understood why Yu Shukuang had specially taken Yu Zijian to the back earlier. The Proud Sword manor was actually hiding a master like that. Ma Chaoqun and Yu Zijian were like two wooden puppets as they fought. The actual people who controlled the outcome of the battle were the puppeteers behind them.
Ma Chaoqun roared out. Tremendous amounts of true qi inflated his clothes. His treasured blade lit up coldly, forcing everyone back by a few steps once again.
Yu Zijian wasted no time at all. With a swing of her hand, a golden arc formed before her. She could no longer afford to show any mercy this time.
The golden arc flashed and directly landed on Ma Chaoqun’s chest.
With the support of the Vitality talisman, not only had Ma Chaoqun’s true qi increased tremendously, but even his senses had sharpened. He grasped the trajectory of the golden crescent and swung down with his shining blade.
With a great clang, Ma Chaoqun was knocked away. A great dent appeared on the blade, and the webbing between his thumb and finger had been ripped to pieces, drawing blood. However, he only smiled.
Before he had even touched the ground, true qi surged out from his hands, and he pressed it towards the ground. He flew back, rising up, weapon and all, slashing towards Yu Zijian. His eyes were scarlet, like he had gone crazy.
Without the support of any more talismans, Yu Zijian was about to be slain under his blade.
Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! There was the sound of splintering wood, and a figure moving even faster than Ma Chaoqun rushed out from the hall. He arrived on the steps and kicked out, directly colliding with Ma Chaoqun. They fell out of the air together.
Ma Chaoqun was protected by true qi, but he felt his back ache as blood spurted out from his mouth.
However, the other figure seemed to feel nothing. It immediately turned around and climbed to its feet. Its movements were swift and mechanical. Two sharp blades sprang out from its arms, slicing towards Ma Chaoqun.
Only now did everyone see that it was not a human, but a puppet.
Yu Zijian’s eyes lit up. She just found the puppet to be somewhat familiar.
This was the same puppet that Li Qingshan had asked for from Hua Chenglu as a gift for Xiao An. It had come into use now.