Pi Yan’s personal guard was standing right by the dead Wu swordsman with a dumbfounded look on his face, because the sword piercing through the Wu swordsman’s chest belonged to him.
“That Pi swordsman killed the Wu swordsman!” Feng Yicheng exclaimed, pointing at the man before anyone else could react.
The guests were all shocked. Everyone’s vision had been obstructed by the bright light, and they were rather confused by Feng Yicheng’s shout. After all, the Wu swordsman had been fighting with Li Mo, so how had he died to a Pi swordsman?
Lord Wu’s expression was pained. After all, the death of a sword saint represented a significant blow to his faction’s power. He trembled as he stood up from his seat. “What just happened?!”
“It wasn’t me, it wasn’t!” the Pi swordsman hurriedly defended himself. “I only drew my sword to protect my master. He landed on my sword on his own!” He turned to his master, Pi Yan, for help.
Pi Yan didn’t speak. Instead, Pi Batian stood up and eyed Feng Yicheng. “Don’t speak nonsense. It was clearly Li Mo who knocked him onto my swordsman’s sword, so the killer was Li Mo!”
“You must be mistaken,” Feng Yicheng retorted. “Their duel was one of spiritual power. He was knocked aside because of his lack of skill, and then your swordsman drew his sword and killed him. How could you claim the death to be unrelated to the Pi family? Certainly we should at least share the burden.”
“It was an accidental death. Lord Wu, I think you might as well drop the matter,” someone advised.
“A swordsman at the level of a sword saint isn’t so easily replaced. How can Lord Wu just drop the matter like that?” another guest exclaimed.
“My swordsman’s only intention was to protect me. He didn’t intend on killing anyone, and nor does he have the motive to do so,” Pi Yan finally began. “If there’s to be a culprit for the crime, I think the crowd knows who’s to blame. Lord Feng, wouldn’t you agree?”
Pi Yan turned to Feng Yanyang, who murmured regretfully, “I’m sure the Pi swordsman didn’t intentionally kill someone, let alone Li Mo. I would write this off as an accident.”
“Lord Feng, do you intend to compensate me for my swordsman’s death?” Lord Wu was naturally unwilling to drop the matter.
“Lord Wu, please let me finish,” Feng Yanyang consoled him. “Since he died here in the Feng manor, and during my birthday banquet no less, I’ll naturally provide suitable compensation. Does twenty thousand spirit crystals seem acceptable to you?”
The heads of the other five families didn’t expect Feng Yanyang to be so generous and were momentarily at a loss for words. Twenty thousand spirit crystals was about two months’ worth of earnings for a family---and although a sword saint was precious, twenty thousand spirit crystals could easily foster over a hundred peak ninth-rank blademasters.
“That, twenty thousand spirit crystals, it’s…” Lord Wu, sensing an opportunity for profit, said unembarrassedly, “...it’s a little insufficient.”
“In that case, I’ll throw in a sage-grade spirit crystal,” Feng Yanyang added.
This time, the heads of the other five families were completely at a loss for words. No one family had more than ten sage-grade spirit crystals, a testament to their rarity. That Feng Yanyang was willing to give one away so easily left everyone shocked by his generosity.
“That’s certainly enough.” Lord Wu immediately accepted the offer, as though he thought Lord Feng would change his mind. “Since you’ve demonstrated such sincerity, Lord Feng, it would hardly be proper for me to press matters further.”
“In that case, let’s continue with the banquet. What just happened was only a small interlude; please don’t let it affect your enjoyment of tonight’s affair, everyone,” Feng Yanyang proclaimed. Feng Yicheng immediately directed some men to remove the Wu swordsman’s body, and Li Mo returned to sit right next to Yun Ruoyan.
The banquet continued uproariously. Duels between swordsmen was a common affair between the nobility, so it wasn’t unusual to have an occasional death or two. The only reason this death had been because it involved a first-rank sword saint.
It was almost midnight by the time the banquet ended, and the six family heads each returned to their respective inns to rest. The heads of the smaller families then successively bade farewell to Lord Feng.
Pi Yan and Pi Batian entered the Pi carriage, which rushed toward their inn. “Master Shade has already put the plan in motion,” Pi Batian reported.
Pi Yan nodded. His gaze was murderous and filled with killing intent; although the Pi family hadn’t lost face during the banquet, Li Mo’s act of framing them for the blame of the Wu swordsman had drawn his ire. “Tell Master Shade and all the swordsmen that Yun Ruoyan’s to be left alive. Everyone else, I don’t care. As for Li Mo, I’ll handle him myself.”
“Yes, Father,” Pi Batian replied. He glanced outside the carriage, and his gaze turned cold. “Father, there’s someone following us!”
Pi Yan opened his eyes. Clearly, he could also feel the presence following behind their carriage. Not only was it strong, it was also somehow familiar to Pi Yan. “It’s him!” He clenched his fist tightly, noticing that the mysterious black-robed man who had faced him twice before, but who had then quickly departed, had appeared right by his side.
“Father, do you know who’s following us?” Pi Batian asked.
“It’s that mysterious black-robed man who’s always ruining our plans.” Pi Yan narrowed his eyes. “The fact that he’s here again…”
The carriage quickly entered the Pi inn. Both Pi Yan and Pi Batian changed into dark clothes. Pi Yan told his son, “That black-robed man’s right outside, so I’ll go see what he’s up to. Li Mo’s cultivation is about your equal, so I’ll hand him to you.”
After Pi Yan had assigned them each a role, they left through the front and back windows on their swords.
Feng Bo pinpointed Pi Yan based on his aura and stopped him in his tracks.
“Who exactly are you?” Pi Yan glanced at the black-robed man, whose face was hidden from sight. “Why do you keep targeting me?”
“Ha.” Feng Bo laughed coldly, then replied in a hoarse voice quite unlike his usual. “Lord Pi, your goals are orthogonal to mine.”
“In that case, I’ll just have to defeat you,” Pi Yan replied, equally coldly.
Pi Yan launched an attack at him as he spoke. A duel between experts didn’t involve the initial cautious back-and-forth so common in lower ranks, meant to identify the opponent’s inclinations and types of attack. He instantly raised his spiritual energy output to that of a third-rank sword saint, encasing his fists in a mud-yellow aura.
Earth- and gold-attuned spiritual techniques tended to involve encasing one’s physical body in spiritual energy and then attacking in close combat. If any of his blows were to land, then even a more advanced cultivator would be quite severely injured. As a result, those facing earth- or gold-attuned cultivators had to avoid direct confrontation at all costs.
Feng Bo retreated backwards as Pi Yan launched his onslaught. At the same time, he summoned vines from mid-air to hinder his opponent. Countless tendrils formed a latticework shield in front of him, but Pi Yan’s fist smashed it apart.
Feng Bo was a little shocked: Pi Yan’s blow had surpassed the level of a third-rank sword saint. The last time Feng Bo had fought against him, he was still an early third-rank sword saint, but in just a single month, his cultivation had advanced by an immense amount. In terms of spiritual energy density alone, it looked as though he would break through to fourth-rank in a matter of time.
Pi Yan’s mud-yellow fists suddenly began blazing with flames.
Not only did his cultivation advance rapidly, he’s even been polishing his spiritual techniques as well! Feng Bo thought.
Pi Yan’s flames quickly burned away the vines that Feng Bo had summoned. The blaze roared in the air as it rushed toward Feng Bo, who discarded his shield of vines and turned to retreat. By the time he rushed around the flames in search of Pi Yan, Pi Yan had already vanished.
“How sly!” Feng Bo remarked, before rushing toward Yun Ruoyan’s manor.
Just as Yun Ruoyan’s carriage was about to reach her manor, it was suddenly surrounded by a group of swordsmen that had popped out of nowhere.
“Who are you?!” The captain of the guards that the Feng family had sent to escort Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo stepped forward, standing between the carriage and the swordsmen.
“We’re here to kill you!” the leader of the swordsmen exclaimed. He flew into the air, unsheathed a frosted blade, and cut away the roof of the carriage. As pieces of wood flew everywhere, a black-robed man flew out of the carriage on a blue-green sword.
“Pi Batian, there’s no need to hide. Reveal yourself!” Li Mo shouted.
However, Pi Batian was looking toward the carriage. Noticing the patch of red in a corner of the carriage, he reached out toward that human figure, ignoring Li Mo’s advances.
Li Mo scoffed. As expected, you’re here for Yan’er.
He thrust his sword at Pi Batian, preventing him from getting closer. Their cultivation was at about the same level, so Pi Batian didn’t dare to let Li Mo’s blow land. Instead, he had no choice but to fall back.
“Not only will you not take Yan’er away, I’ll have you leave your own body here!” Li Mo shouted, then thrust at him again.
“Yun Ruoyan’s in the carriage! Catch her!” Pi Batian commanded his twenty-odd swordsmen while tussling with Li Mo in mid-air.Previous Chapter Next Chapter