Book 2: The Infinite Heart
Chapter 10 – Picking Flowers Under the Moon
That sound came with extreme speed and savagery, seemingly piercing through the darkness in a flash. Like a fierce wind blade slicing through the Nine Heavens it cut over, its sharp sound fast and low.
A row of arrows instantly pierced into the ground in front of Meng Fuyao and Yuan Zhaoxu’s feet. The arrow row was extremely orderly, as if someone had measured it out using a ruler. Even after a time, the blood red fletching on the arrows still faintly trembled without stopping.
Those arrows closely stuck next to the two people’s feet tips, almost tearing Fuyao’s boots. It could be seen that if the opposite side wanted to, a hole could be shot in Fuyao’s feet as well!
In front of them, atop the high walls of Prince De’s courtyard, a shadow had appeared. Holding a bow while standing, the mysterious person sneered as they looked down. A pair of pupils glittered with arrogance in the dark.
Seeing the two lifting their heads to look over, that person slowly drew the bow. The bowstring let out a tense noise, intentionally or unintentionally giving off a murderous, compelling aura.
The bow had now stretched into a full moon, as four arrows neatly pointed towards the two people down below. Looming over them, the person grimly laughed. “Where did this heaven-daring couple come from? You even have the guts to disturb the Prince De residence? That shot just now was only a courtesy, if you guys take one more step, my arrows will be greeting those thick skulls of yours!”
Meng Fuyao slowly raised her head. Facing the disdainful gaze of the person above them, her pupils shrank – she hated being warned by others!
The moment she moved her head, the other side instantly lifted their hand as yet another arrow flew out! The arrow wind tore the air apart as it shot straight at her forehead. At the same time the person grimly said, “Trespassers of Prince De’s residence, kill without mercy!”
Not only was this person’s archery skill unrivaled, even their voice didn’t fade over such a long distance. It was clear their inner qi was not normal. Despite this, Fuyao absolutely didn’t think this meant she had to just sit there and accept this trigger-happy person’s warnings!
Forming a backward bridge in a flash, her back stuck close to the ground while the arrow feathers brushed past her nose tip. While she was half-crouched on the ground, she suddenly twisted her waist up and kicked out with her feet. A feathered arrow that had sunk half a chi into the ground was hit into the air, flipping around and changing direction. With a sharp whistle it shot straight towards the shadow on top of the courtyard wall.
The eyes of the person hidden in the darkness also seemed to flash – that kick of Fuyao’s looked deceptively simple, but was in fact quite hard to execute. The arrow was sunk halfway deep into the ground. In that awkward back-crouching posture, not only did she manage to recover, but she managed to kick the arrow up without snapping it in half. What kind of monstrous core strength and flexibility did that simple movement require?
The man gave a mirthless chuckle, his fighting spirit raised. Gesturing with his hand, the arrow suddenly split into two. The arrowhead flipped around in midair, and it once more launched itself towards Meng Fuyao.
Fuyao leapt up from the ground, giving out two powerful exhalations: “Pei pei!”
Two consecutive collisions sounded out. Those two broken arrow pieces were actually blown into four separate pieces by the true qi Fuyao shot out through her teeth, doubling back to fly at the person on the wall!
That person also didn’t seem to expect Fuyao to be such a tenacious scoundrel, and couldn’t help but laugh out. The laughter echoed out, suddenly splitting the four shooting arrow fragments into eight, once more hurtling towards Fuyao.
The long arrow had already been divided into eight, with each piece only as long as a palm. Wanting to split it again would be very difficult. The stranger folded his arms and stood, smugly chuckling, “Let me see how you’ll split it this time —”
His words had not yet settled before his eyes bulged out – Fuyao didn’t even look at the eight arrow fragments, instead suddenly bending down to grab the remaining two feathered arrows at her feet. With a soaring leap she had already sprinted towards the wall. In midair, she forcibly launched the arrows like javelins to shoot straight for the person’s waist, as she laughed, “Stupid, it’s not like we’re competing in woodcutting, you thought I would continue to split?”
Her movements were sudden as she rushed over with extreme swiftness, throwing the javelins with her entire strength as she hung in the air. That person’s entire attention was focused on anticipating the sixteen arrow fragments to be launched back at him; how could he have expected her to despicably throw the other arrows all of a sudden? Being caught off guard, the person saw that the arrows had already flew close. However, their martial skill was indeed exceptional. Even when the arrows had almost arrived, the person was still unpanicked. With a horizontal chop of his palm, the feathered arrows were directly cut down by true qi.
The person let out a breath, slanting his head to laugh towards a guard down below. “Those rats are so daring they can’t tell life from death! How could they ever be worthy of fighting with this general …” Before he finished speaking, the wind intensified behind him, after which he felt his waist suddenly go cold …
His pants suddenly fell down —
The chilly moon shown down onto the wall top. Pants soundlessly fell down, piling around the ankles in the blink of an eye. From Meng Fuyao’s angle, she clearly saw the two bare, hairy legs.
“Aha, bowlegged!” With a backflip Fuyao landed back besides Yuan Zhaoxu, then raised her head and laughed.
Her hand played with a silk belt. Just then when she pulled and threw the arrows, she had already tied the silk strip to one of the arrowheads. When the person cut down the arrows, assuming that Fuyao wouldn’t be his opponent, he unconcernedly turned his head back to talk. Unfortunately he didn’t realize Fuyao took the opportunity to swiftly tug back on the arrow – as the arrow flew back, it severed his pant string.
As she shook with unsuppressed laughter, she watched the arrogant fellow hurriedly try to pull up his pants. A loud and crisp snapping of fingers sounded out. “The two arrows just then was me being polite. If you continue with your arrogance, the next thing I’ll be severing won’t be your pants, but your family jewels!”
Chuckling, she pulled at the smiling Yuan Zhaoxu who had just been observing from the darkness without moving. “Let’s go.”
Just as she turned back, she suddenly heard a cold humph from the man on the wall, a sound filled to the brim with murderous fury. Then following a low noise, it seemed as if the sky exploded with ten thousand streaks of light without warning! Magnificent and scintillating, the streaks rose up from the distant heavens, then rushed towards the boundless shattered void like eternal flames, parting the darkness like breaking waves. Faster than the eye could see, in a blink crossing sky and covering sea – filled with the primitive aura of the universe!
Fuyao only caught a glimpse of the light out of the corner of her eye, yet she still felt her heart shake. That type of scintillating glow overwhelmed the pupils, causing one’s spirit to tremble and numb for a moment.
It was only that one instant before the streak had already arrived before them.
As the glow neared, Yuan Zhaoxu suddenly turned.
Previously he was as still as a maiden, yet when taking action, his movements were swifter than even the hard-to-describe streaks of light by a few degrees. His figure spun as his sleeves roiled and his dark hair scattered. A white light flashed in the darkness, turbulently screeching to a halt!
A second of deathly silence.
Moonlight spilled down from over the wall, illuminating that small alleyway. Around the blind corner of the alley extended out a slender hand, its pale jade fingers holding a strangely shaped five-petaled flower.
The flower petals were translucent like carved ice, every corner glittering with the light of innumberable stars. It was so beautiful that it awed the spirit and soul; even so, it was still incomparable to the exquisite jade sculpture of a hand that held it.
The shadowy corner covered the person’s body, with only the flower-holding hand bathed in moonlight. A pure white, slender hand that beautifully held the deadly flower; an elegant, tranquil posture that still managed to hold the entire world in disdain.
At that moment.
Under the moon.
A quiet plucking of the flower.
The surroundings were sunk in a heavy silence. The wind that blew past the petals of the five-petaled flower was suddenly forced to stop by a huge amount of true qi between the white fingers. Two currents of true qi collided, forming numerous whirling eddies at the site of the collision. The swirling turbulence soon combined into a whirlwind.
At that moment, the wind lightly swelled, blowing Meng Fuyao’s mask off.
Moonlight brightened for an instant.
An entire sky’s starlight seemed to pour like seawater into the young girl’s pupils, those eyes encompassing everything yet still pure like spring water. When her eyes moved, light streaked for thousands of zhang, as if they could illuminate the vast mortal realms and the wide boundless seas.
Her boldly rising brows drew out the most meticulously perfect angle, as if they flew and danced among clouds and the nine heavens.
In this dim small alleyway, there seemed to have risen another moon.
The gaze of the person on the wall was quickly attracted. In his narrow pupils flashed amazement yet also greed, causing him to even forget for a moment about Yuan Zhaoxu using the flower to break his sky-covering killing strike.
Underneath his shocked stare, that hand holding the flower finally moved.
With a sweep of a finger, a hand movement gentle as the breeze, that five-petaled flower suddenly fluttered upward. It drew out a strange arc in midair, then exploded outward into a massive bloom that covered half the sky, immediately trapping the man!
That person standing on the wall felt extreme alarm – he naturally knew how powerful his own killing move could be once it was fully displayed! In his panic he could no longer care about his image anymore, and directly fell backwards off the wall.
Soon after from behind the wall traveled over the sound of something heavy impacting the ground. It could be imagined how miserable the man must have been, to have not even been able to control how he fell!
Yuan Zhaoxu withdrew his fingers. Under the moonlight, a faint black glimmer could be seen where his hands held the five-petaled flower, but was swiftly covered over by his billowing robe sleeves.
Master Yuanbao peeked its head out from within the robes, lifting its head to zhi zhi at Yuan Zhaoxu. Zhaoxu only grinned and shook his head, causing Master Yuanbao to resentfully tunnel back into the robes while giving Meng Fuyao a glare.
Fuyao looked at the rat with a baffled expression, why did it suddenly get angry at her? Did its menopause arrive earlier than expected or something?
Yuan Zhaoxu turned back to look at her. His brows slightly furrowed. He didn’t think that the Meng Fuyao who had always disguised herself, actually had on her true appearance underneath the mask.
Fuyao awkwardly chuckled while feeling her face, saying, “I fell victim to a little trick the past two days, and a rash grew on my face. I didn’t dare to put on makeup and harm my skin, so …”
Yuan Zhaoxu laughed, pulling her to leave the alley before saying, “This time you have met some trouble. Next time you should try not to show your true appearance to others, especially not to that person from just now.”
“Who was that?”
“Jianwu General Guo Pingrong, one of the best generals in this state, who commands the expedition against the southern tribes. He was of poor birth, originally the captain of the Scarlet Wind Unit under Prince De. Later fate and coincidence allowed him to become the disciple of the ninth strongest martial artists under the heavens, ‘Divine Star Hand’ Fang Yimo, whose legendary secret weapon ‘Brilliance of Heaven and Earth’ was only able to be fully learned by a handful in the martial arts world! In the most recent True Martial Conference Guo Pingrong depended on this to place fourth, directly casting off his low class standing and becoming a military officer. Thus purely from a martial ability standpoint, in the Infinite Empire and even the entire Five Regions Continent, Guo Pingrong could place within top ten.”
“Then what about you?” Meng Fuyao tilted her head, her mouth corner curling up in a mischievous grin. “You only needed to reach out a hand to break through his ‘Brilliance of Heaven and Earth’, so where should you be ranked?”
Her lopsided smile was like a miraculous flower blooming in the darkness of midnight. A faint, sweet fragrance drifted in the wind. In her face was strangely contained both the charming naivety of a young girl, and the natural forthrightness of a mature woman. As Yuan Zhaoxu looked at her, even his typically abstruse expression seemed to show a few glimmers of gentleness. However, he still maintained his silent smile, only lightly lifting her hand.
Meng Fuyao started for a moment. Looking at their intertwined hands, her face couldn’t help but reveal a hint of red, and she promptly forgot what she was about to ask.
Then Yuan Zhaoxu’s voice, mild like a spring evening breeze, sounded by her ear.
“You must be careful. Guo Pingrong’s mind is narrow, and he has a sovereign’s sickness…”
“A sovereign’s sickness …” Fuyao numbly repeated. Only after saying it out loud did she realize what this meant; but before she could react, she heard that despicable person’s voice brush even closer to her ear. “The night is dark. How about we find a room?”
- Sovereign’s sickness, or 寡人之疾, is a proverb that means a person is very lascivious or lustful.