Martial King's Retired Life - Volume 14 - Chapter 47
An Attack from Above
The qi from above came down as violently as a waterfall that’d splinter anything it came into contact with. I rolled across the ground without sparing a care for appearances, but I still didn’t escape its range. “Guards!” I shouted.
Lang Qing ripped out his broadsword and swung at the assailant’s neck. Since he couldn’t block the attack from above, his only option was to force the assailant into cancelling his won attack to defend himself. The aerial bronze-masked assailant adjusted his qi to lower himself to meet Lang Qing. Lang Qing didn’t have enough time to execute Cross Phantom Soul Bladework, but they were matched in terms of internal energy. As a result, their collision repelled them from each other.
Lang Qing was close to the rails of the second floor, so he needed to rely on a chunk off his own strength to break his backward drift. He had his teeth clenched, ended up sinking several inches into the floor when he finally stopped and had blood trickling from the corners of his mouth.
The exchange resulted in a draw, but Lang Qing took internal damage, while the assailant used Lang Qing’s force as a platform to launch themselves towards me. I saw a flash of golden light, and then my left shoulder was spraying blood. Had I not dodged quickly, half of my head would’ve been missing.
As I judged the next attack to be impossible to evade, I ignored the pain to yell, “Needlerain!”
Ning Zhuoru, who hid behind the wine counter from the start of the attack, popped up and fired a rain of needles. The distraction bought me a brief moment before the masked assassin imbued their blade in golden energy and deflected all the needles. Meanwhile, Ning Zhuoru ducked behind the counter again as per my earlier instructions. However, the assailant sent the needles back in Ning Zhuoru’s direction at more then ten times the original velocity, so they penetrated the counter without any hassle.
Gu Xianxian roared at the top of his lungs as he listened the clings and clangs that resembled a synchronised collision. Ning Zhuoru fell to the ground with a pallor face, but she didn’t have any injuries.
I had Proprietor Shi add two extra iron boards into the counter beforehand in case of such events, and the couple was aware. The assailant’s might was just so far beyond their expectations that they forgot about my insurance.
The assassin hadn’t forgotten I was his target, but the path to me was now obstructed.
The assassin whipped his broadsword horizontally, stopping a nigh-invisible steel string. Even though he cut the string successfully, he didn’t carelessly advance into the ten more strings hidden behind them.
Teng used the extra time to increase the distance between them. Lang Qing, having recovered from the damage, returned to my side. Yuan Kou raced up from the first floor.
I took out a pipe and said, “This is a real needlerain. Want to try deflecting needles again?”
The assassin eyed me from head to toe, snorted, jumped out the window from the second floor and vanished without a trace.
I rose to my feet and vigilantly scanned the floor for any dangerous presences prior to tearing a part of my clothing, sealing my acupoint to staunch the bleeding, lathering some herbs on and bandaging my wound. Needless to say, I remained vigilant of my surroundings whilst completing the process.
Gu Xianxian, still tense, asked, “Is he gone…?”
I sighed. “Should be.”
Everyone exhaled a breath of relief.
Though I had encountered several assassins over the last few days back to back, all of them added up weren’t half as dangerous as the two swings at me. Had Ning Zhuoru been a moment late, I’d have less a limb – if not dead. Not only was the assassin skilled and quick, but he was also smart. As an assassin, he was first rate. The most dangerous skill he had, though, was his ability to avoid my ears.
It wasn’t that I could hear everyone’s movements, much less when I had no internal energy. The ability to avoid detection wasn’t based on their progress in their training but their type of discipline. Plenty of people had tried to assassinate me before, but they all made one particular common mistake. I could hear the flow of blood and qi in people; in the case of not having internal energy, I’d have to be in close proximity to hear them. Assassins would mould energy to veil their movements and maintain an emotionless visage, but I already heard the reactions of their meridians when they collected internal energy, so I knew they were going to attack. The more one was advanced in their internal discipline, the clearer I could recognise the patterns. For that reason, the most ideal candidates to assassinate me were untrained people. Among the highly trained, only the direct subordinates of League of Assassins’ boss could hide themselves to a point where they could get close to me without detection.
There were only three other types of people who could assassinate me – the dead, the cream of the crop and gods.
The dead were those who could feign death convincingly. There weren’t many of them in the world; if you ran into them, you could only consider yourself unlucky. Please visit 𝘧𝔯𝑒𝒆𝓌𝘦𝘣𝓷𝘰ѵ𝑒𝘭. 𝐜oｍ
The cream of the crop were the worst type. Either they had pushed their internal energy development to a stage that surpassed Divine Realm, or they knew me so well that they could imitate the movements of people around me precisely down the most minute detail. The former was limited to just three people – Shaolin and Wudang’s patriarchs, as well as my grandmaster. My shifu was the prime example of the latter. He could creep up on me without me ever realising it was him.
The gods were as rare as they came because… they didn’t involve themselves in the mundane world. They resembled the immortals and deities you heard of in myths, not because their martial prowess was beyond human imagination, but because the disciplines they trained tended towards the voodoo, spiritual – for lack of better words – sort of stuff. The only person I knew of who fit the bill was Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s Sword Deity, who claimed to be learning the workings of heaven through swordplay – hence the title Sword Deity.
The masked assassin blended in with nature perfectly until the moment he struck, so I’d classify him as someone who belonged to the “gods” category.
I already have a god on me before Tianhu even returned? How many people are out for my life, man…?
Unable to hold it in any longer, Lang Qing regurgitated a mouthful of blood. I went to support him, only for him to push my hand away.
“What the hell?” I grumbled.
“His slash… is the same as yours!” Lang Qing viewed me as someone he needed to be extremely wary off.