Chapter 52: The Great Imperial General
“Because to me, killing you is as easy as crushing an ant.”
Zeng Fan’s words repeated inside Lin Mu Yu’s head like the reverbing strikes of a clock. That’s right. When your power is nowhere near another’s, crushing you really is as easy as that.
But a smirk curled up on his face as he replied, “Why don’t we test that theory?”
Without any hints or warnings, Zeng Fan suddenly attacked with his sword.
The sharp sound of metal cutting through air was heard as Zeng Fan unleashed four consecutive thrusts onto the Ebony Scale/Dragon’s Rampart wall. Each strike left a considerable and visible dent on the sturdy gourd wall.
Lin Mu Yu was forced aback by the momentum of the attack, while his chest felt heavy with pressure. The Ebony Scale and Dragon’s Rampart shields shattered near instantly as Lin Mu Yu looked on with great surprise.
The hedonistic opponent before him was far, far stronger than Hua Wan. Moreover, Zeng Fan’s Pagoda spirit definitely increased his attack power, going so far as to give his attacks a “penetration” attribute.
Feeling the stinging pain on his skin, Lin Mu Yu was surprised that the opponent’s sword energy could damage him through the double protection of Ebony Shell and Dragon’s Rampart.
Utilizing the core mantra of the Wind-wielding Sword Art, Prairie Fire slashed along with the tailwind and grazed Zeng Fan on the tip of his hair.
With a jolt, Zeng Fan quickly side-stepped the attack. However, the fast blade still left a small cut when it nicked him on the cheek. Feeling the hot blood slowly seeping out of the wound, Zeng Fan yelled out in anger.
With both feet planted on the ground, he shouted, “Golden Barrier!”
Streams of golden light rose in accordance with his call and surrounded him entirely. The golden energy quickly condensed into the shape of a protection barrier. Without a pause, Zeng Fan followed up with his ultimate attack. After jumping several steps backwards, he lifted his hand while his sword flew up into the air.
Closing his eyes, Zeng Fan channeled the energy within his veins. While he trembled with the overflowing energy, a dozen swords materialized from thin air and simultaneously stabbed at Lin Mu Yu.
“Ten Thousand Sword Mantra!”
Scrambling frantically to create a wall of defense, Lin Mu Yu speedily swung Prairie Fire with both hands to create a barrier out of sword energy.
*Sfx [sword strikes] sfx*
The deafening sound of metal clashing was so unending that almost all of the trainers had to cover their ears. When they looked up once more, Lin Mu Yu’s Ebony Scale had already shattered into pieces while his Dragon’s Rampart looked like a block of swiss cheese.
The worst part were the holes that appeared on his green tunic, because everyone could see the slight streams of fresh blood dripping from his chest and arms. Zeng Fan’s attack was one that he had no feasible way of defending head-on.
If defense is no longer an option, then the only thing I can do is attack!
Pushing his thoughts aside, Lin Mu Yu threw out the four daggers hidden in his sleeves. The four daggers of the Sonic Blade sliced through the air covered in sparking lightning energy. At the same time, lightning energy gathered within Prairie Fire like moths to a flame.
Growing bright with a verdant green light, the gourd shone above Lin Mu Yu as countless vines erupted from the ground, quickly rolling towards Zeng Fan’s feet.
On the other side, Zeng Fan chuckled and gave a careless wave with his hand. It was nothing to laugh at however, when the energy in his palm turned into a fierce wind, instantly tearing apart the hardy vines.
As if his cultivation level was not high enough, the fact that Zeng Fan tore through Lin Mu Yu’s spirit attack with a mere wave of his hand was more than terrifying to those who witnessed it.
But he had yet to celebrate before a sudden warm feeling came from behind! Toxic Spray!
With a fright, Zeng Fan quickly stepped off to the side to avoid the spray of corrosive toxin.
But Lin Mu Yu had another trick up his sleeve. Just as Zeng Fan stepped to the side, Lin Mu Yu came behind with a fully charged Lightning Chop.
Seeing the sword cut at his lower back, Zeng Fan knew that he had no way to dodge this attack like before. Quickly deciding on a plan, he gathered the three pieces of energy shields all onto his lower back.
Along with the loud sound of an explosion, lightning could be seen dissipating in the air.
What Lin Mu Yu thought to be a certain hit still missed its target.
Instead, Zeng Fan borrowed the momentum and swung around for a roundhouse kick. The steel-tip of his boots dug repeatedly into the Lin Mu Yu’s chest.
*Sfx [shoes sliding on sand] sfx*
Sliding along the floor several meters back, Lin Mu Yu pressed one hand against the floor to reduce the impact, but his fingers still left five frighteningly bloody trails on the floor.
“Lin Zhi….” Ziling could barely get the words out of his mouth as he looked with shock.
Lei Hong’s mouth also twitched slightly as he watched on. This youngster’s willpower and perseverance had already far exceeded his expectations.
In the face of an overwhelming opponent like Zeng Fan, he was still able to defend and counter. That much was, quite honestly, not easy to do.
Although he tasted the sweetness in his throat, he forced himself to not spit out this mouthful of blood. His chest felt heavy as blood made waves within his body and boiled like hell fire, but he refused to surrender.
He knew that were he to surrender in this fight, there would be no place for him to call home in Lanyan City anymore.
*Sfx [sound of blades cutting through the air] sfx*
Sharp hissing in the air was heard as four flying daggers quickly boomeranged back towards Zeng Fan.
In reply, Zeng Fan turned for several swings of his sword and effortlessly deflected the four daggers. But what he did not expect was that, as if they had a mind of their own, the daggers flew towards one another and combined into a quad-bladed shuriken.
With a soundless boost in movement, the Sonic Shuriken quickly cycled around for another attack.
Yelling out in anger, Zeng Fan reached out with open hands. Each finger was protected by the light energy of the Golden Barrier. He dares to attempt catching the Sonic Blade with bare hands?
Lin Mu Yu remained where he stood, but silently motioned with his hand. The vibrations of this Sonic Punch quickly exploded below the spinning blade and suddenly changed the path of the shuriken. As a result, it spun away alongside Zeng Fan’s shoulder.
Another contact of skin to iron left Zeng Fan with his second injury.
“Dirty little shit!”
The flushed-red and embarrassed Zeng Fan dashed towards Lin Mu Yu, his sword glowing brightly with a golden light. Meanwhile, the spirit pagoda expanded and enveloped Lin Mu Yu, caging him in like a prison cell.
Lin Mu Yu’s heart grew cold in wariness. But no matter how much he struggled, his body would not budge.
“You want to escape out of my Spirit Lock Tower?” Zeng Fan’s handsome face had contorted into an ugly shape.
This Lin Mu Yu kid had embarrassed him far too much. He could not bear with the fact that a heaven-realm like him had been wounded by a mere earth-realm.
Locked within the Spirit Lock Tower and seeing Zeng Fan’s impending killing blow, Lin Mu Yu bellowed out furiously. Even though he had spent nearly all of the energy in his body, he was still unable to get out in the end.
At the decision moment before the end, a sudden spell of pressure pressed down onto everyone!
“Stay your hands!”
The energy aura of the Spirit Lock Tower quickly dissipated. This energy pressure far exceeded that of Zeng Fan. As a result, but he and Lin Mu Yu looked up to find an answer.
To their surprise, Lei Hong stood proudly in the air as he wielded his saint-realm power in hand.
Exuding irresistible dignity through his eyes, Lei Hong calmly announced, “This contest is over. Lin Zhi resisted death for one minute, and will officially become a Gold trainer of the Temple!”
Finally letting out a breath of relief, Lin Mu Yu thought back to the feeling of dread that had overcome him in the last instance. He remarked that Zeng Fan had indeed decided on killing him, so he would have definitely died if not for Lei Hong’s interruption.
While Lei Hong returned to his seat, the nearby Master Ge Yang walked down to the arena and came next to Lin Mu Yu.
Taking out a golden crest, he adorned Lin Mu Yu’s chest with the shining insignia of a golden star like that of a gold instructor. The only difference was that a gold instructor’s star had a sword before it, while his insignia had a shield, very accurately reflecting the whole point of a trainer: defense!
“Alright. Lin Zhi, you were quite skillful in all that you showed. Young Marquis Zeng Fan, you were as bold and powerful as ever. Thusly, this rank placing contest will end on this note!”
Ge Yang was a jolly old man who tried to never offend anybody.
Speaking with his trembling and faltering voice, Ge Yang smiled as he said,
“Congratulations Lin Zhi. From today onward you will be one of the gold star trainers of the Temple. Your pay will be 100 gold yin coins from the treasury. Heh, your luck isn’t too shabby. This kind of salary is the same as that of a gold instructor, you know. Work hard, young man!”
Lin Mu Yu nodded. Looking down at his tattered shirt, he counted eleven holes in his tunic and eight open wounds. Although none were deep enough to be life threatening, Zeng Fan’s strength was truly quite terrifying.
Looking from afar, a cruel smile crossed Zeng Fan’s face as he said, “Just you wait. I’ll be back to taste your blood another time!”
Lei Hong had already stood and announced, “The examination is now over. Next, Master Ge Yang will arrange for the morning drills of today.
By the time Headmaster Lei Hong had gone out of sight, Master Ge Yang had already took out a long scroll. Speaking in his old, but willful voice, he announced,
“The morning drills pairings will be: Zheng Shan He against Lu Fang, Zhang Wei against Lin Zhi, Lei Ying against Liu Kai…Sun Wei against Qin Ziling…”
After going down the long list of pairs, Ge Yang finally got down to Ziling’s name. His partner was Sun Wei, which allowed him a breath of relief.
“Thank goodness, it’s just iron instructor Sun Wei.” Ziling then asked, “Oh right! Lin Zhi, are your injuries okay? Will you be able to continue with today’s training?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
After manipulating his energy around his body, he was able to staunch the bleeding, although his clothes still looks terrifying with all the bloody holes on them. The only problem he had was that his energy reserve had greatly diminished. As such, he could muster up no more than 60 percent of his normal amount.
“Lin Zhi, let’s go this way!”
Zhang Wei was a frank and straightforward man. Holding Lin Mu Yu by the shoulder, together he and Lin Mu Yu walked towards a nearby training room.
After a servant opened the heavy steel door, the two quickly stepped in and shut the door behind them, as if worried that the fighting inside will disturb the others.
“You probably don’t have that much energy in reserve after that war of attrition in the morning. Am I right?” Zhang Wei asked with a laugh. Although he looked rough and brutish, he was still quite caring as a person.
Replying with a grateful smile, Lin Mu Yu answered, “About 60 percent.”
“Alright then, that’s probably enough. I’ll use 60 percent of my strength then.”
Calling out his flame bear spirit to cover his fists in flames, Zhang Wei said with a smile, “I am trained in a fist technique called Fierce Soul Fist. Fists in all directions, eyes to see all sides, power behind all punches, thus way of the fists remain straight and stalwart. This is the mantra that I hold true. It is a technique that evolved from God General Xiang Wen Tian’s Fierce Fire Fist, and it is just right for killing on the battlefield!”
Lin Mu Yu already had the privilege of experiencing Zhang Wei’s punches, so Zhang Wei definitely wasn’t talking out of his behind. They were powerful but hardy punches, all were as well balanced as the force of nature.
When Lin Mu Yu learned Sonic Punch from Qu Chu, he understood that it was a technique focusing mainly on ranged attacks. This meant that he was neglecting a set of skills for close-quarters brawling.
Fortunate for him, Zhang Wei’s Fierce Soul Fist perfectly rounded out the main flaw in Sonic Punch’s kit. If there was nothing else to gain from sparring with Zhang Wei, then learning a new technique would definitely be a gain.
“Mister Zhang Wei, may I spar with you using fist techniques?” Lin Mu Yu asked.
Zhang Wei was happy to oblige, “Why not. There is just the two of us in this room, so we can fight in whatever way we wish to.”
“Thanks a lot, then!”
Very quickly, flashes of light were seen from within the room. The two were seemingly enjoying themselves in their training.
But Lin Mu Yu’s close-quarter fist technique was truly trash tier. Unable to return hits at all, he was forced to rely on the spirit gourd’s defense to carry on.
Under the impact of the punch, energy reverbed along the shielded gourd wall, but Lin Mu Yu had predicted Zhang Wei’s final punch and defended against it with accurate timing.
Zhang Wei couldn’t help but laugh heartily, “Not bad! Definitely got a kick out of that!”
He smiled and continued, “Lin Zhi, how did you get in trouble with one of the twelve masters, Zeng Fan?”
“I don’t know either…” Lin Mu Yu told him a white lie, then asked, “What is Zeng Fan’s background anyway? He is quite a strong practitioner, plus he’s also one of the twelve masters at such a young age, so he probably has some background right?”
“Now that’s an understatement.”
Zhang Wei laughed,
“In order for the Empire to have what it does today, credit must be given to the famous general Zheng Yi Fan.
Many years ago, while leading the Imperial army of fifty thousand in a battle at the northern frontier, he defeated the enemy cavalry force of one hundred seventy thousand.
One hundred thousand of the enemy were killed and forty thousand were enslaved.
With this victory, he single handedly resolved the danger of the north. After this, he was appointed the Imperial Strategist, given the title of God Marquis, and renowned by all as the great imperial general
This Zeng Yi Fan is young Zeng Fan’s father!”