Chapter 200: A Last Glance

“Kill them all!” Rong Yueshan commanded the pale-faced youth.

The pale-faced youth and his two lackeys all turned to Yun Ruoyan’s party of four, but none of them seemed to dare to make the first move.

“The three girls have all been paralyzed, so they can hardly even move their fingers. Don’t be frightened of them.” Rong Yueshan could see their hesitation. “I’m holding the archer back, so you don’t have to be worried about him, either. Once they’re all dealt with, we can split their treasure equally amongst all of us. Given what we’ve already collected, we’ll definitely be able to get into Kongming Academy. We’re not going to have such a precious opportunity to collect treasure and vanquish a powerful opponent again, so what are all of you waiting for?!”

The three youths had been quite afraid of the arrow in Zhuo Yifeng’s hands. Although they could tell that his current bow was really quite slipshod, the tiger-canine arrow nocked on his bow gleamed with an ice-cold light.

Zhuo Yifeng’s previous demonstration of archery at Yun Ruoyan’s original oasis had left an indelible impression on all three members’ minds. However, at Rong Yueshan’s urging, they slowly began walking toward Yun Ruoyan’s group. 

When Zhuo Yifeng saw the movement, he continued pointing his arrow at Rong Yueshan as he slowly crept toward Yun Ruoyan and the Lin sisters. The pale-faced youth made a hand signal, and the two youths following behind him split up into a pincer formation.

“Sister Ruoyan, run away with Brother Zhuo! Leave us!” Lin Qingxue shouted. If Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng were to ignore them, they could escape.

Lin Qingchen didn’t say a single word, because she understood Yun Ruoyan more thoroughly. In her estimation, Yun Ruoyan wouldn’t bear to leave them behind.

Yun Ruoyan’s face was expressionless. Externally, her half-white, half-black visage was as frightening as it had been; internally, she was desperately trying to cook up a plan. The only one among them who could fight was Zhuo Yifeng, and his actions were being restrained by Rong Yueshan. Rong Yueshan’s three accomplices were slowly heading toward them, and although they were weaker than she was, they were at least fifth-rank blademasters.

Three fifth-rank blademasters against three paralyzed victims…

...was there a way out? Yun Ruoyan’s brows furrowed, and her forehead scrunched up even more deeply than before.

“Qiuqiu, see if there are any antidotes for paralysis in my pocket dimension.”

Qiuqiu had already done a cursory search, but now it inspected the pile of antidotes that Li Mo brought her even more closely. Moments later, Qiuqiu replied in the negative.

Yun Ruoyan sighed. 

“Mistress, you can’t…!” Just then, Qiuqiu felt Yun Ruoyan forcefully trying to manipulate spiritual energy in her spiritual vortex. Because the paralytic poison seeped deep into her body, her spiritual energy had essentially been blocked off. Trying to break those restrictions without the palliative effect of the antidote would cause severe damage to her spiritual vortex and body.

Despite the severe consequences, Yun Ruoyan was forcing the spiritual energy to circulate through her body and filter into the silver bracelet so that she could use the bracelet’s augmentation to recover some amount of fighting strength once more.

“Mistress, this will drastically damage your cultivation. At best, your cultivation will fall. At worst, you might disturb the very foundations of your spiritual vortex and cause your cultivation to crumble entirely!”

“There’s no other choice. I have to protect everyone’s life!” Her mind set, Yun Ruoyan continued overcoming the poison’s restraints. She slowly sent a trickle of spiritual energy into her bracelet, then more and more, until she had managed to free a small puddle from the poison’s paralytic grasp.

At the same time, the three youths continued edging ever closer. The pale-faced youth in the middle walked much faster than his two lackeys at the sides. Once he was about eighty feet away from Yun Ruoyan’s group, he suddenly stopped and pulled out a pure-black bow—Zhuo Yifeng’s bow, which he had taken from Lin Qingxue.

The pale-faced youth nocked a tiger-canine arrow and aimed it at Zhuo Yifeng.

“My archery skills aren’t anything to be proud of, but I can at least shoot you dead from this distance,” the pale-faced youth began, smiling maliciously. 

Before Zhuo Yifeng could react, he immediately loosed his arrow. The tiger-canine arrow whistled as it rushed at Zhuo Yifeng. Zhuo Yifeng could only loose his own arrow in defense. Both arrows had a tiger-canine arrowhead, but the youth’s arrow was made by a craftsman, and Zhuo Yifeng’s arrow was simply an unadorned piece of wood that he’d picked up in the nearby forest.

Furthermore, the pale-faced youth had shot first. Although he claimed to be unskilled at archery, it was a standard skill in which he had been trained since birth. Although his talent might not be comparable to Zhuo Yifeng’s transcendent expertise, he was sure he could win in such an advantageous confrontation!

However, the pale-faced youth had underestimated Zhuo Yifeng’s skill and overestimated his own. Standard arrows had a greater penetrating power, but were heavier and had a lower initial velocity when shot out. Zhuo Yifeng, whose unusually strong arms allowed him to draw the bowstring further back to compensate, could ignore this deficiency, but this was to be the pale-faced youth’s downfall.

The arrow that Zhuo Yifeng had shot out at full power almost glowed as it passed by the pale-faced youth’s arrow. The two arrows whizzed so closely by each other that they produced a shower of sparks, temporarily blinding everyone’s sight. While Zhuo Yifeng’s wooden arrow remained largely unaffected by the near-collision, the pale-faced youth’s arrow had shifted in direction.

The pale-faced youth opened his eyes wide and stared disbelievingly at the arrow that had penetrated his heart. He gasped, as though he was about to speak, before falling down onto the sandy ground.

Opposite him, Zhuo Yifeng had also been hit by the pale-faced youth’s arrow. However, it had lodged itself not in a critical area, but in the meaty part of his shoulder. As everyone was distracted by the youth’s sudden death, Zhuo Yifeng pulled out the arrow in his shoulder, nocked it, and aimed it at Rong Yueshan once more.

Zhuo Yifeng’s composure shocked the pale-faced youth’s two lackeys. Fresh red blood flowed down Zhuo Yifeng’s shoulder, dripping down the bow in his hands and onto the sandy ground beneath. Despite the bloody wound, he looked as calm as ever, as though he were an emotionless, mechanical weapon unaffected by pain.

When Rong Yueshan saw the pale-faced youth fall to the ground, she cried out so mournfully that everyone present recognized their intimacy. “I’ll kill you!” she screamed, her eyes red, before throwing out the silver darts in her hand.

Zhuo Yifeng shot out the bloodied arrow dyed red with his own blood. As soon as he did so, he noticed something amiss: his powerful arms had suddenly gone slack, and the arrow had lost much of the force propelling it forward. His wooden bow couldn’t impart much propulsion even under the best of conditions, not to mention his injury and sudden loss of strength.

As a result, that bow was actually knocked aside by one of Rong Yueshan’s silver darts, and Zhuo Yifeng fell to one knee.

“Wh—Why am I so weak?!” Zhuo Yifeng, who had remained composed all throughout the fight, was now starting to panic. He wasn’t afraid of getting injured, but he had to protect the three girls behind him even if it cost him his life. He struggled to stand once more, but the poison coursing through his veins brought him toppling to the ground.

“Haha!” Rong Yueshan cackled, her face an eerie mask of tears and unbridled joy. “You’ve also been poisoned! The heavens are truly looking down on your group!”

The sun had almost been fully swallowed by the horizon.

Through the all-seeing mirror, the white-robed elder stroked his beard as he glanced at the fight. “Not only are this year’s students advanced in their cultivation, they’re all quite ruthless. This batch will be a force to behold on the battlefields, indeed…”

Li Mo stared at the scene with worry in his eyes—all four members of Yun Ruoyan’s team had fallen prey to the poison. Judging by Zhuo Yifeng’s reaction right after he had been poisoned, this was a particularly strong strain of the usual paralytic poison that had to have been concocted by a master poisoner. Such a situation would be grossly unfavorable to Yun Ruoyan’s group.

Although Li Mo’s features were hidden underneath his hood, the white-robed elder seemed to be able to sense his emotions. “Your fiancee’s future looks rather bleak at the moment.”

Beneath his hood, Li Mo narrowed his gaze. “If she can’t even deal with trouble of this magnitude, then she doesn’t deserve to be my—Xun Mo’s—wife.”

The white-robed elder nodded. “Remember your life’s mission.”

“I’m aware, Elder,” Li Mo replied respectfully.

“It’s time for the scrying to stop. Shall we inspect the results of the battle tomorrow?” The elder stood up. As he did so, the final rays of sunlight shone through the all-seeing mirror, and the mirror’s surface seemed to snap shut as though it were a human eye.

At that very last moment, as though Yun Ruoyan could feel Li Mo’s gaze from afar, she looked toward the sky in the direction from which the voice had emerged earlier.

Will this be the last time I see you? Li Mo’s heart thumped as he released his clenched fist and walked down the tower with the elder.

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