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Chapter 274 - Wutong
Over ten shooting stars fell from the sky, faintly illuminating the night. At the very head of these stars, the seemingly burning arrows could be seen very clearly.
Nanke's face remained cold and wooden, but her eyes suddenly contracted. Her hands tightened their grip on the sword, but there was not enough time to strike at Xu Yourong, so she thrust it at the night.
Thrusting at the night sky was one movement, and if she remained still, it would only be one image. However, her sword thrust countless times at the night sky, creating a compilation of countless images.
Nanke held her sword high, perpendicular to the night sky above her. Her eyes were fixed dozens of feet away at Xu Yourong, but countless sword glows circled around her body, turning into a nigh-perfect sphere of light.
The surface of that sphere was covered with countless tiny lines. Every one of those lines was a sword.
Those arrows-turned-shooting stars exploded upon that sphere of light made of swords.
A series of muffled booms like thunder rang out from the summit of Sunset Valley.
Nanke's dragonskin boots created countless cracks on the hard ground of the cliff once again, but this time they were even deeper.
Those arrows had all been blocked by her sword and were sent flying back, but this time they did not disappear into the night. Rather, like spirits, they whistled and glowed as the arrows once again attacked!
Those arrows turned into a rain of arrows, incessantly bursting at Nanke.
Bang bang bang bang bang bang. An incomparably dense collection of sounds rang out at the summit.
The sound was the crisp sound of metal, the strange and ear-splitting sound of a sword scraping against a hard surface.
The summit was filled with countless sparks, even lines of sparks. Those were where the arrows collided with the sword.
However, not a single arrow could draw close to Nanke's body. Not even the momentary and elusive sparks could float into that sphere of light created by swords.
The floor of the mountaintop was covered with scars created by those arrows, some deep and some shallow. They densely covered the surface, like the marks left on the sand by a torrential rain.
She continued to stare out of the sword glow at Xu Yourong, holding her longsword up high, as if she was not even moving.
But in every instant, she was producing countless swords.
Extending towards Xu Yourong's location, those slender sword images behind Nanke began to turn into a semi-circle.
Like a peacock spreading its tail.
Seeing those sparks fly about the mountaintop, hearing those clashing sounds, the zither-playing old man was so moved that he was speechless.
At the moment, all of Nanke's energy was on her longsword. Xu Yourong's spiritual sense was even stronger, controlling that rain of arrows that filled the sky, and yet even she would find it difficult to block any other attacks. The battle had seemingly come to a deadlock.
What truly moved that old man was the spreading tail created by Nanke's longsword.
Only then did he realize that the princess had already reached this step. Sure enough, she was worthy of being called the strongest amongst the younger generation of the imperial clan.
When cultivators entered the Star Condensation Realm, the greatest difference was that they each would possess their own domain—it could even be called their own world. This was called the Star Domain.
In the Star Domain, no one could injure the cultivator unless they used overwhelming power to forcefully shatter the domain.
The demons had a similar way of speaking, but the experts of the imperial clan possessed a domain of their own. However, it was not called the Star Domain. It was called the Moon Ring.
Because of Nanke's age, her strength was not yet sufficient to summon the complete Moon Ring. But with her nigh-perfect swordplay without any gaps, she could use that perfection to make up for her lack of strength.
That sword tail that was opening at the summit of Sunset Valley was her Moon Ring.
Now that old man no longer had any worries about this battle.
Because no matter how strong Xu Yourong's innate talent was, it was still restricted by her cultivation. As long as she remained in Ethereal Opening, she would never be able to injure Nanke.
This signified that, in the battle, Nanke had entered into an invincible position.
In his astonishment, the old man thought, the Military Advisor must have known about this for him to give the heavy responsibility of killing Xu Yourong to Her Highness.
As expected, His Lordship's plans took everything into account.
The zither-playing man no longer worried, but he forgot one thing. To not lose did not mean victory.
Confronting Nanke who used swordplay to imitate the Moon Ring, Xu Yourong displayed perfection, and this perfection was absolute perfection.
Whether it was the frequency at which the arrows rained down or the light that suffused each arrow, it was all perfect.
Even though Nanke had spread her sword tail, she could only hold one. She had no opportunity to counterattack.
For the prideful Nanke, this was an unacceptable fact.
Her purpose in entering the Garden of Zhou was to defeat Xu Yourong, to kill Xu Yourong.
The whistling continued, and the arrows continued to rain down. Sparks continued to flash around the summit. From a little further away, all those streams of light seemed like scars. At any time they would gradually fade away, then in the next moment many more scars would appear.
The unbearable sounds of metal scraping on metal and the terrifying sounds of powerful attacks echoed in Nanke's ears.
She stared at Xu Yourong, her expression wooden, but the dullness in her eyes gradually began to sharpen.
Suddenly, she closed her eyes. Then with a hint of madness in her voice, she gave a mighty shout!
Accompanying the shout, the light around her body grew even brighter, and her sword energy suddenly increased by several times.
With a set of disorderly bangs, her body suddenly disappeared, then reappeared. Piercing through her own sword tail, she thrust at Xu Yourong.
She cared not for the surrounding rain of arrows. She used her entire body as a sword to strike at Xu Yourong.
Even if her sword struck true, the arrows like streams of light would also pierce through her body. The battle had in this way swiftly reached its most dangerous moment.
The zither-playing old man's expression suddenly changed, and he quickly stood up from his zither.
Because of her honor as the demon princess, she had heedlessly thrown her all into this attack. Just how mighty would it be?
This attack of Nanke's had two strands of clear light.
Those two sword glows seemed about to intersect at Xu Yourong's position.
The old man's face paled, and he exclaimed with shock, "Southern Cross Sword!"
In the world of humans, it was impossible to see the demon's moon.
In the demon realm, they could see the stars that hung above the heads of humans, but because of their location or some other reason, the starry sky that the demons saw was not a vast sky of stars. Instead, it was two starry bands, like silver rivers.
Those two rivers of stars intersected in the night, just like a cross.
Relative to Xuelao City, the starry sky was to the south, so the demons called it the Southern Cross.
The attack that Nanke aimed at Xu Yourong, the two strands of starlight, was a technique famous in the demon realm, the Southern Cross Sword.
The old man even knew that the longsword in Princess Nanke's hand was the famous Southern Cross Sword.
One sword was the technique. The other sword was the weapon.
Nanke used the Southern Cross Sword to execute the Southern Cross Sword.
A powerful sword intent pierced through the air, but before it arrived at Xu Yourong's body, there was a distant shattering sound in the night sky.
The zither-playing old man's pale face suddenly flashed with pain, and his body swayed.
That was the sound of the space shattering.
Soon after, deep within the plains below Sunset Valley, the bizarre, suspended light also began to sparkle. The rays of light that it cast were slightly deformed, evidence of the fact that space was warping.
Nanke's attack… had already reached the maximum limit the Garden of Zhou would permit, and perhaps was even about to cross that line.
The arrows that had become like streams of light pierced swiftly through the night. To the naked eye, they seemed like a majestic rain of arrows.
Nanke released her Moon Ring and turned the sword tail into an attack. This was the equivalent of exposing herself to that fearsome rain of arrows.
If Xu Yourong could withstand her terrifying Southern Cross Sword, then it would be Nanke's turn to be in grave peril.
The problem lay in the fact that the Southern Cross Sword possessed a monstrous power and the Southern Cross Sword in Nanke's hand was a weapon famed for its military might in the demon realm. If it had appeared in the human world, it would definitely have ranked within the Tier of Legendary Weapons.
Xu Yourong only had a wooden bow, so how could she receive it?
With a sound like that of the zither, the bowstring snapped.
The bowstring had snapped towards the bottom. Like the stamen of a flower, it curled up and fell on Xu Yourong's wrist.
She took the bow and thrust it into the ground in front of her.
There was a muffled bang as the the hard rock suddenly fragmented. The longbow entered the earth, then it seemed to sway in the night wind, as if it had turned into a tree.
The mighty and fearsome Southern Cross Sword chopped at the longbow.
This bow was very long, so it did not give off a very sturdy feeling. Moreover, it was clearly constructed of wood, and yet, it managed to block that attack!
This was a summit with only bare smooth rock, so this tree was inevitably alone. It was just like that tree she had seen on the mountain path.
The mountain path was a fantasy, so the tree that she saw was the tree that she wanted to see.
The tree that she had seen on the mountain path was a wutong tree.
And right now this longbow was also a wutong tree.
This bow was a divine weapon on the Tier of Legendary Weapons.
The Wutong, Holy Maiden Peak's powerful magical artifact, was placed thirty-first and thirty-second on the Tier of Legendary Weapons.
How could a magical artifact take two places? Because the Wutong was not one magical artifact, but two.
Those arrows that whistled through the night as they attacked were the leaves that fell from the wutong tree. They were called the Wu Arrows.
The longbow in her hands was the Wutong Tree's firm and upright trunk. It was called the Lonely Tong.
The Wu Arrows and Lonely Tong.
My sword, the Lonely Tong.
TL: Play on words. The ‘my’ sounds like wu in this case.
It was a king's weapon. If one was not a Saint or a king, one could not use it.
But Xu Yourong could use it. In fact, it might be only her that had the ability to use the magical artifact to its fullest extent.
It was for the same reason that she saw that tree on the mountain path as a wutong tree.
She was a phoenix, which lived on the wutong.
She was a natural-born king.
The light scattered like a wave smashing against a reef, splashing in all directions.
There two powerful Qi clashed, illuminating the entire summit of Sunset Valley, as well as illuminating each other's eyes.
Xu Yourong looked at Nanke with a calm expression, silent and powerful.
The Lonely Tong had blocked the Southern Cross Sword, but what of the Wu Arrows?
Whistling through the night sky, a rain of arrows fell towards Nanke.
Nanke's sword was entangled with Xu Yourong's longbow, so how could she avoid the rain? Just as was said before, if she could not end the battle with this attack, then it was her turn to confront this absolute danger.
At this moment, an unimaginable scene took place.
Nanke's two hands, which were intertwined around the sword hilt, separated. One sword went to resist Xu Yourong's longbow, while the other sword recreated the sword tail and defended against the Wu Arrows.
The Southern Cross Sword was actually two swords!
Just like how the Wutong was actually two magical artifacts.
Tonight, the summit of Sunset Valley overflowed with light and unceasing whistles.
This was an unimaginable battle. In terms of ferocity, of course it could not compare to that heaven-shaking ambush occurring outside the Garden of Zhou that was rarely seen in a hundred years, but it was more engrossing.
Just like the rumors had said, whether it was in terms of cultivation or will, they were both extremely similar. Even their weapons and methods were similar. Just like they had imagined, they had finally met, then battled. Phoenix and Peacock, Wutong and Southern Cross Sword; who would obtain the final victory?
If there truly was such a thing as destiny, then the two were predestined rivals. Anyone that saw this battle tonight would believe this without a doubt.
If there had been no one to see this battle, then it would be to the entire continent's regret.
It was a good thing that this battle had a spectator.
Every wrinkle of the old man's face seemed to express shock and admiration.
It was not only aimed at Nanke, but also at Xu Yourong.
He had never witnessed such powerful innate talent and battle prowess.
Let alone the fact that they were both so young.
The Wu Arrows faced off against the sword tail. The Southern Cross Sword grappled with the Lonely Tong. Right now, the battle on the cliff had once again entered a stalemate. It was just a matter of who could hold out to the end.
The zither-playing old man knew this very well, so he stood up in admiration.
A fair battle? Just like how demons never believed in a human's tears, they thought it was a hypocritical phrase, with absolutely no meaning.
Yet when Nanke glanced at him, even if it was out of the corner of her eye, her gaze was still cold like the snow.
Demons never believed in things like fairness and justice, but she believed in pride.
Thus, the old man retreated.
The summit of Sunset Valley glowed continuously with light. It came from the sparks created by the clash of the Wu Arrows against the sword. It came from the streams of light created by the clashing of Qi from the sword and the bow.
Between the sparks and the streams of light, Xu Yourong's ordinary but delicate face seemed to grow brighter and calmer. This signified her self-confidence.
An impressive Qi arose from her white ceremonial robes, astoundingly bright.
Nanke's eyes were still somewhat dull, but they grew more severe, more focused, and more frigid.
Suddenly, a clear cry emerged from her lips.
That sound was young and tender, and yet it was filled with immeasurable pride. It signified her uninhibited arrogance.
That was a peacock alone in the depths of a swamp viewing the distant numerous birds with a glance of contempt.
Without a sound, a strand of blood flowed out of her hands, smearing the hilts of the Southern Cross Swords.
The blood she bled was not red, because she was not a human. However, it was not the green of a normal demon either. Her blood was a splendorous blue.
Her blood was not disgusting. Rather, it possessed a bewitching beauty.
That blood seemed to be very cold, like a piece of flowing ice, slowly enveloping Nanke's hands and the hilts of her swords. Then the blood began to burn, but the flames were unexpectedly also cold!
The icy flames fiercely burned on her two Southern Cross Swords.
In a flash, the Wutong Bow was covered with a layer of frost, which in the next moment gave birth to countless icy thorns.
The place where the bow met the ground began to fiercely shudder, creating several cracks, as if signifying that it could not hold on much longer.
Is this the true blood of the surpassing bird? Xu Yourong silently thought.
Then, her brows slightly creased.
It was not wariness or unease, and even less so fear. Rather she was preemptively fearing pain.
Bleeding truly was somewhat painful.
She did not like pain, so she did not like this way of battling.
But since Nanke had already sent her the invitation, she had no means of refusing, because she even less liked to lose and to die.
Because of the pain, her brows knit tighter and tighter. It seemed rather pitiful, but her eyes seemed to grow increasingly bright, and her expression grew increasingly calm.
A drop of blood slowly flowed out of her finger and fell onto her bow.
The blood she bled was red, because she was human, but after the wind touched it for only an instant, it turned gold.
That blood was like liquid gold, supremely dignified and sacred. It seemed to hold a boundless energy and warmth.
The Wutong Longbow in this way began to blaze.
The frost and icy thorns instantly melted into blue smoke.