Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Straightforward and direct combat had never been Chu Qing’s forte. If she had a choice, she would not have wanted to reveal herself this early in a fight.
Having attempted an assault on Lu Ye before with the help of Qiao Yun and Ruo Yan, she knew just how dangerous and formidable an enemy Lu Ye was. That was how she knew that Lu Ye wasn’t just bragging when he said that he would consider sparing her if she could survive three blows from him. Lu Ye possessed the capital to be magnanimous.
But the last thing she expected was how she failed to even endure one blow from him.
There was no finesse at all in the attack, just sheer speed and brute force that easily trampled down what feeble defense she strived to put up.
The incredible force was gone abruptly. But there was little reason to be happy; the sight of the tiny crimson sparkle fleeting around sent a jolt of chill through her.
An upswing came all of a sudden, the blow striking both of her dual swords simultaneously, transmitting enough force to cause pain on both her purlicues. Her arms throbbed with a stinging numbness. But these were the least of her problems. Steel rang into the distance as the blow knocked both her weapons into the distance.
As her knees buckled, Chu Qing griped with the loss of both her weapons as she looked up. There he was, the young man with a face of stone driving his saber straight at her heart.
The third blow!
[If I survive this, would he really spare me?]
That was the only thing that came to mind.
Pathetic. That was the one word she would describe herself with. To think that she believed that her chance to avenge Chu Xue had arrived when she stumbled upon him. But instead of killing him, her last stand had turned out to be nothing more than a one-sided massacre of her people and the subsequent skirmishes saw the House of Wintry Blossoms raking in more deaths than kills.
And yet now, here she was, distantly hoping that her enemy would show her mercy.
Chu Qing realized how she had overestimated herself. The resolve that she had always believed to be as steadfast as a rock had crumbled in the face of death.
A dagger materialized in her grip. There was no need to evade the incoming blow. She would never be able to. But it posed a chance for her. She was wearing armor. If this blow failed to kill her instantly, then she might be able to triumph just yet.
The dagger gleamed with cold malice, and she swung it furiously at Lu Ye’s neck, its sharp edge arcing for his artery.
Then it stopped. The dagger came to a halt just inches away from his throat. Strength left quickly from Chu Qing’s limbs. She could not move. But her eyes throbbed.
She slowly lowered her gaze and saw the heavyset weapon jutting out of her armor-protected torso. It had run through her.
She had felt as if a thousand needles were spearing through her the moment the saber cleaved through her.
“Is there anyone who doesn’t wish to live?”
Lu Ye muttered softly as he gingerly drew Inviolable from his fallen enemy.
Chu Qing’s body crumpled to the ground, her eyes rapidly losing all glimmer of life.
That rang true. Was there anyone who would not want to live? The same could be said for the Fifth-Order young boy at the top of Goldentip not so long ago. Yet so many had wished for his death and many still did. He did not know any of these people who thirsted and craved to see him dead on the packed earth. There was no vendetta, not even a feud. So why?
“HAH!” Ju Jia’s voice resounded not far away.
Lu Ye gave Inviolable a forceful swing to flick away the blood as he shifted his gaze in Ju Jia’s direction. The brawny Body-tempering Cultivator was taking blows from Ruo Yan while steadily pressing forward, forcing her into a corner. The defensive Spirit Artifact he wielded earlier was no longer in sight. Perspiring heavily with coils of steam rising from the surface of his taut and hard skin, the crimson aura he emanated lumbered ponderously forward, colliding with the ochre brown aura of Ruo Yan whose large weapon was only good at causing superficial damage.
It was not without good reason. Ruo Yan appeared to have taken a punch from Ju Jia that was strong enough to have smashed her shoulder blades, judging from the entire arm that now hung limply on her side.
Despite her best efforts to resist him, she had lost the battle.
The moment Ju Jia was close enough, he found a chance to seize her oversized weapon. Ignoring the edge gnawing into the flesh of his palm, he yanked the weapon towards himself, pulling the petite Ruo Yan close.
He viciously jammed a foot into the smaller girl, sending her careening with blood spewing out with bits of viscera.
Ruo Yan crashed to the ground, at last, no longer able to move. Ju Jia sealed his victory with another foot planted into the girl, snapping her ribs into pieces.
Lu Ye could only think of a few adjectives fit enough to describe watching Ju Jia fight: savage, brutal, and epic.
At length, Ju Jia flung away the oversized saber. He marched back to the fallen Ruo Yan and bent down. He grabbed her head like a tiny ball with those large and wide hands of his and lifted it, not taking his eyes off her for one second at all—his eyes livid, his nostrils flaring, steam billowing out—like a raging beast eager to feast on her flesh.
Ruo Yan’s lips trembled feebly. She wanted to say something but all that could be heard were the sickening gargles of the frothy blood escaping her mouth.
Ju Jia took her head and slammed it into the hard ground like a melon, dying the dirt with a slick of red.
“HHHAAAHHHH!” Ju Jia threw his head back and let loose a bestial roar of triumph, satisfaction, and vindication.
[I’ve gained revenge! At last!]
The battle was over by the time Ji Yan and the rest of Hidden Light Sanctuary arrived. The fall of Chu Qing and her twenty-or-so brethren signified the end of the Thousand Demon Ridge campaign this time.
Naturally, it would not be remiss to expect that some minor elements of the Thousand Demon Ridge might have survived. But they would be no threat to the status quo. Lu Ye would be more than happy to deal with them if and when he was to stumble into any of them, but he would not devote any more time and effort to hunting them down.
He found a spot on the stairs and sat down to break the magical seals of the Storage Bags he looted while Ju Jia sat beside him, sharing some meat jerkies with Amber.
Ji Yan strode up to Lu Ye, looking like he had something to say.
“Is there something I can help you with, Brother Ji?” Lu Ye did not want to beat around the bush.
“There is, I’m afraid,” Ji Yan nodded. “Well, here’s the thing: we came with Brother Gu Canyang as our captain… But…”
Ji Yan told Lu Ye his tale.
Gu Canyang was the legate of the Hidden Light Sanctuary outpost in the Battlefield, a figure of great power and prestige among his peers. But it was due to his poor luck that as soon as he stepped into the Lost City, he was immediately discovered by the City Watch whose officers quickly apprehended him.
Gu Canyang only had his poor luck to blame. Many tried to save him but to no avail.
But not without good reason. The dungeons of the Xianyuan City Watch were kept by spectral guards wielding powers so great that no amount of Spirit Creek Realm Cultivators could hope to match.
Gu Canyang’s Hidden Light Sanctuary brethren had little hope of saving him until they knew about the authority pass that Lu Ye received from the mysterious woman in the red dress. That prevented what embers of hope they had from extinguishing.
At long last, Lu Ye grasped what actually happened. When he first came, he knew for a fact that the Thousand Demon Ridge and Grand Sky Coalition factions coming for the Rift of Fortunes were respectively similar in strength and size. That was what left him confused as to how the tables had turned against the Grand Sky Coalition side right off the first conflict. As it turned out, Ji Yan was not the legate; he was merely a stand-in, which explained his inferior leadership.
In the meantime, the thought of saving the people now imprisoned in the dungeons had not crossed Lu Ye’s mind. After all, he knew none of those who had been arrested by the Xianyuan City Watch. But hearing Ji Yan’s pleas, perhaps the authority pass really could work.
He had been miffed at the fact that the prize after what was an arduous pursuit of Rice Bag before returning the cat to its mistress was only just an authority pass that seemed to serve no purpose.
But if the authority pass could gain him entry into the dungeons, then that would shine a different light on things.
Lu Ye dug into his Storage Bag and found the authority pass, which he tossed at Ji Yan.
An overjoyed Ji Yan never stopped muttering words of thanks until he rounded a corner and was out of sight.
He quickly rounded up his men and they hurried straight to the dungeons. It was time they liberated Gu Canyang from the gaols he had been consigned to.
An hour barely passed and the Hidden Light Sanctuary people came scurrying back, looking absolutely gloomy. Lu Ye did not fail to notice that their numbers had dwindled noticeably.
He stared at them incredulously.
“Brother Yi Ye,” Ji Yan gasped hoarsely, panting for air, “I’m afraid you need to come with us.”
“What do you mean? Is the authority pass useless?”
If the authority pass was not working, Lu Ye could see no reason why his presence would.
“It’s not the authority pass. My men showed the authority pass to the guards at the dungeons, but they were accused of stealing the pass and were immediately apprehended by the City Watch. It was only due to the quick reactions of the one carrying the authority pass that he managed to throw the authority pass back to the rest of us or we would have lost this too.”
That would explain the missing number of people. They have ended up as fresh inductees into the underground prison of the Xianyuan City Watch headquarters.
But the attempt had not been a futile one. It showed that the authority pass worked, but only with the right user would the City Watch not feel that it has been stolen.
And Ji Yan had noticed when Lu Ye encountered the City Watch, all he needed to do was wave the authority pass and none of them did anything to arrest him. But when his men used the authority pass on the City Watchmen, they were treated as nothing but common thieves.
It did not take long for him to work out that Lu Ye was the only person who could use the authority pass without any consequences and that prompted him to come back quickly.
That was rather unexpected for Lu Ye. That would mean that the authority pass was not the only gift the woman in the red dress had given him. She had acknowledged him, making him, and maybe even Ju Jia, the rightful users of the authority pass. Anyone could steal the pass and it would still be as useless as a glass hammer.
“Very well. I’ll see if I can help. But I can’t guarantee anything though.”
Lu Ye got to his feet.
“No matter, my friend,” said Ji Yan, “Whether you succeed or not, the gratitude and friendship of the Hidden Light Sanctuary are yours.”
“All right, let’s go then,” Lu Ye motioned with an arm, gesturing for Ji Yan to lead the way. The former had no idea where the city dungeons were and what they looked like.
Ji Yan readily agreed.
It was a hike that took almost an hour for them to reach a corner of the city where there was an imposing edifice with a large sign in front that said: Dungeons. These must be the dungeons of the Xianyuan City Watch.
More than a dozen Xianyuan City Watch personnel stood guard outside, notwithstanding the frequent patrols of City Watch guards passing by every now and then. There was no doubt; the dungeons were as impregnable as a castle.
One look and Lu Ye could see that this was one place where violence would solve no problems. He would be a fool to not expect more City Watch guards still inside.
“All right, so here goes,” said Lu Ye. Amber crouched on his shoulders like a demure feline would, holding the authority pass between its teeth.
Jia Ju stepped with him. Lu Ye swiveled his head and stared at him.
“I’m coming with you,” he said firmly.
“Don’t force things, my friend,” Ji Yan was saying.
Lu Ye and Ju Jia strode to the dungeons. As he drew closer, the Xianyuan City Watch sentries gave him not so much as an ambivalent glance.
That was enough to restore hope to Ji Yan. He exhaled a long and easy breath. His guess was right; the authority pass could only be wielded by Lu Ye and Ju Jia. Only they were the rightful owners of the authority pass that the Xianyuan City Watch would recognize.
Lu Ye and Ju Jia made a beeline straight for the dungeon entrance where a City Watch guard stopped them.
Ju Jia’s muscles flexed nervously as he shifted uneasily. Lu Ye kept a wary hand on the hilt of his weapon. The spectral guard emanated a glow that indicated that he was not only stronger than any Spirit Creek Realm Cultivator. Even Feng Yuechan paled substantially in comparison to this Cloud River Realm apparition.
This was not a fight that Lu Ye and Ju Jia could hope to survive.
Silavin: 8 Chapters this week due to missing last week.