Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Yin Qi, disciple of the Si clan in Feng state, walked in silence and moved as if he were completely weightless. Clad in a form-fitting black suit, he exuded an icy aura of darkness. As the student of the Saint of Killers, Yin Qi practiced a particularly malicious method of execution; he killed invisibly, without ever being seen. Xu Que’s rules of darkness were comparable to the Si clan’s methods of cultivation.
“Please,” said Yin Qi. Xu Que gathered up his languid attitude, staring at his opponent. Yin Qi was extremely dangerous; cold darkness emanated from the man, and his hands were undoubtedly stained by the blood of many. Xu Que had observed Yin Qi’s techniques in the previous battles, and knew he was adept in exercising the rules of darkness; Yin Qi could morph into shadows without sound.
“Please,” responded Xu Que. Just as his voice faded, Yin Qi’s life spirit appeared. It was a shadow into which he melted, his body now turning to shade. The transformation did not stop there. The shade stretched, becoming longer and longer until a multitude of shadows began to spill forth from it. They appeared just as any other shadow would— quiet and without breath—moving without a sound to surround Xu Que.
“Bondage of Shadow.”
The eyes of those from Feng State lit up. Perhaps Xu Que did not comprehend the techniques of the Si clan; the Bondage of Shadow was an exceptionally well-known rule spell of theirs.
Xu Que felt the shadows stretch towards him, forming tethers as if to limit his movements. He dodged away and shot up towards the sky as if he were a bolt of lightning. At the same time, the shadow stretched alongside Xu Que, remaining unbroken.
Buzz. An elongated shadow shot forwards with thunderous speed, diving in front of Xu Que and presenting an incredible threat. Noting the shadow’s approach, Xu Que’s finger turned into a Slaughter Sword, pointed forward; the murderous Sword Qi abruptly exploded, instantly pulverizing the shadow.
More shadows burst concurrently towards Xu Que across the expanse. Xu Que faced this with a cool countenance, and the life spirit of his Slaughter Sword blossomed. When he held the weapon, a murderous aura coursed through the space.
Holding the sword with both hands, Xu Que thrust it down and allowed the bloodthirsty Sword Spirit to burst forth. It slashed against the power of the Bondage of Shadow and, at the same time, Xu Que’s body rotated in a series of deadly whirls; he himself turned into a mournful shade, and faded shadows appeared in the expanse to vanquish the one that had intended to kill him. However, just as he was about to step downward, Xu Que found a countless number of shadows covering the skies and swarming in his direction.
“Shadow Transformation,” said the cultivators from Feng State. This would be a challenge for Xu Que. The Killing Saint, Si Ming’s successor, would not be easy to defeat.
A wild draft began to gather, and the power of shadow rule flowed between the heaven and the earth until suddenly a storm of shadows descended upon the battlefield. It seemed to have turned into a dark void, swallowing Xu Que entirely. But Xu Que discovered that the shadows had followed him into that void, hiding within the shadow rule’s power and melding directly with the dark. It was as if these shadows survived better in his darkness.
Xu Que began to feel uneasy. Underneath the shadows there was nothing but stillness; he couldn’t locate his opponent. The power of the Bondage of Shadow moved forward in the darkness as if to extend to every corner of the battlefield. Soon Xu Que could feel the shadows homing in on him as Yin Qi’s power descended upon him. He could sense countless shadows surging silently towards him as if they were an army of ghosts.
The rules of darkness were completely useless to them.
Xu Que’s countenance became grave, and instantly, he steeled himself with resolve. He was from the Tingxue House, and his specialty was assassination. That was why he could understand the rules of darkness and recognize the most effective strategies to counter opponents wielding similar abilities.
“Still not giving up?” a ghostly voice spoke from the dark. Many at the grandstand looked unsure. Was Xu Que at a disadvantage in the darkness?
“I wouldn’t mind if you admitted defeat,” Xu Que replied lazily, still nonchalant. The voice did not respond, but an even colder power of will began to rise from the darkness. A shadow rose from the dark, appearing in front of Xu Que, thrusting an icy blade towards his throat, but the man did not move. A killing storm grew around Xu Que and enveloped him; when the shadow reached him, it was torn apart by the storm.
Xu Que was motionless. He closed his eyes, like a hunter. Even as shadows rained down, continuing to fragmentize and disappear, Xu Que remained motionless.
The two seemed to be engaged in a contest of patience.
The highest state for the assassins was death from a singular strike.
At the same time, a menacing feeling descended upon Xu Que. He tensed up. Amidst the darkness a shadow appeared behind Xu Que, wielding a destructive dark spear intended to lance through his throat from behind. Fast as lightning, Xu Que moved to the side. Despite his maneuver, the attack still pierced through the Slaughtering Sword Will and pierced his shoulder. A terrifying and destructive power entered Xu Que’s body, and blood seeped from the wound. After landing his attack Xu Que’s opponent disappeared, once again submerged beneath the shadows. Xu Que ignored the injury, standing unfazed by the blood.
Afterward, the combat proceeded with different attacks and after what seemed to be an eternity, the battle still raged. In the dark, Xu Que’s clothing was stained with blood; he was heavily wounded.
“These two are indeed patient,” some dignitaries from the Nine States commented.
In the direction of Feng State, members of the Si clan observed the engagement inside the darkness with sharp focus. Xu Que truly grasped the essence of assassination; his endurance was unbelievable.
Ye Futian and the others also stared into the darkening space of the battlefield, using the Freedom Meditation so that their eyes could bore through the darkness and observe what occurred within. Ye Futian saw that Xu Que was under constant attack but had no intention of giving up, so he did not interfere. This fight was different from the fight with Yuan Zhan; this was a faceoff between two assassins. Xu Que may have appeared unenthusiastic and without restraint, but he had his own mind and could judge for himself.
The center of the darkness abruptly burst forth with murderous intention. Ye Futian’s eyes sharpened to focus on the disturbance within and saw that Yin Qi had lost his patience to tarry any further, exploding towards his opponent with a flurry of attacks. An Apparition Lancet pierced through the defense of the Slaughter Sword and entered Xu Que’s body. At that same moment, Xu Que buried his body into the darkness, as if to become one with it.
The Apparition Lancet punctured the darkness, but Yin Qi detected an alarming sensation. Within the darkness, there were endless waves of annihilation. A shadow darted across and soon disappeared; Yin Qi had forged too deep into the darkness and found himself unable to retreat.
Boom! Many shadows split and shattered, the dark space howling wildly. Soon a pair of bodies appeared from the expanse, back to back and dripping with blood. Xu Que was soaked in gore, but Yin Qi had blades of light running through his body as his body plummeted towards the earth. He landed prostrate and coughed out blood, the breath within his body slowly fading. He couldn’t even rise to his feet.
Xu Que also landed, standing, albeit unsteadily.
Clearly, he was the victor.
The forerunner of Feng State’s Si clan was defeated and eliminated. From then on, no one from the Si clan would remain on the Forum, each one now disqualified. This was the second sacred land since Zhisheng Cliffs to have suffered a total loss. And this round of battle had only just begun. There would undoubtedly be situations where entire sacred land would be expelled. However, no one would have thought that the one to defeat the Si clan would be Xu Que of the Barren State. He wasn’t the leader of the Barren State, yet he had been able to terminate the leader of the Si clan.
“Xu Que won. Someone from the Si clan please take Yin Qi away,” the hosting elder commanded, and a cultivator from the Si clan immediately removed his leader from the battlefield.
From the same direction, an elder clad entirely in black stared intently at Xu Que. He knew how Yin Qi had been defeated, as assassins preferred one move to yield one kill. Where Yin Qi was incapable, Xu Que had executed his technique. He endured much, remaining calm and suffering the pain of ceaseless attacks before seizing the opportune moment to deal a final blow. Obviously, Xu Que was a more qualified assassin than Yin Qi. Within their Plane, results were better proof of skill than strength. If this had been a real battle, Yin Qi would already be dead.
Dragging his worn body towards the Barren State, Xu Que only shrugged as Yu Sheng, Hua Jieyu, and Ye Wuchen looked at him. “I’m fine.”
“Why?” Ye Futian looked down and said.
Xu Que looked up at Ye Futian, who stood upon the grandstand, and smiled. “At least, we didn’t lose, right?”
Ye Futian looked at Xu Que and smiled, understanding his meaning. Xu Que could not lose against those who possessed ability equal to his not just for the honor of the Barren State, but for the pride of the Tingxue House.
“Forfeit the ensuing battles,” said Ye Futian. Xu Que was unfit to continue fighting. In his severely wounded state, would he be able to triumph over the strongest of the Nine States’ other sacred lands and advance?
“Alright,” Xu Que agreed. To continue battling as he was would make no sense, but at least he had done his best at the Nine States Forum.
“Xu Que of the Barren State requests to forfeit.” Ye Futian looked in the direction of the Eastern State.
“Granted.” The Elder nodded. Even in forfeiture, Xu Que was now amongst the top 25 strongest competitors. He could leave with his head held high. After this battle, the Barren State only had three people remaining!