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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

181 Breaking the Qi

 In the dead silence of the night, the howling wind made people feel uneasy. The Devil Empress was standing before Meng Qi, yet he felt as if she was not a part of this world.

"Great bladesmanship." Her coarse, yet mesmerizing voice entered his ears, pulling at his heartstrings. Meng Qi was currently experiencing the countercharge of the "Peace Quietude Split", and could not help losing focus.

Just at that moment, the sound of the zither changed, like a river flowing from atop the mountain, vast and soothing. Meng Qi collected himself. He withdrew the Evil Ordeal blade and wielded the "Ice Breaker" sword. His posture was as an invitation. "Let's see what tricks you can play at such a close distance!" thought Meng Qi.

Just as he wielded his sword, the Devil Empress sighed, her eyes showing signs of displeasure. She proceeded to wave her left hand.

Meng Qi suddenly felt his body being dragged to the side as if it was bound by something. It was difficult for him to exert his sword form and attack quickly!

The Yin Engulfment!

Meng Qi had the protection of the Golden Bell Shield, so the Yin Qi could not penetrate his body and manipulate his muscles or genuine Qi. However, the Yin Qi could still entangle his body like strands of formless threads and affect his movements.

Like prey stuck in a spider web, in the Engulfment range, struggling only caused him to be bound increasingly tighter!

And the Devil Empress was like a poisonous spider, calmly waiting to catch her prey!

The Devil Empress extended her right hand and her fingers curled slightly. She then proceeded to claw at Meng Qi's head. Her fingers wriggled like the petals of a flower in bloom. The attack was dynamic, layered and unpredictable, but its power was formidable. No one would be able to survive such a hit.

Though an average master of the enlightenment period could still make an attack with Palm Gust and Sword Qi, it would not do any harm. Moreover, often times the momentum of the attack would come to a halt as if it had been blown by a strong gust of wind, with no destructive quality whatsoever. Unless of course, the master used a supreme art to attack. But even then, as long as their strength was at the same level, it would not be difficult to absorb the attack; one would merely sustain a few injuries. The battle would still be mainly at close range, and the Palm Gust and Sword Qi were considered subsidiary.

Of course, as one opened more Apertures, his Inner Qi Force would surge and the destruction quality of his Palm Gust and Sword Qi would, in turn, increase as well. By the time one reached the realm of the Devil Empress or the Half-step Exterior Scenery, his physical ability would have also reached the level of a Great Grandmaster. He could then project his genuine Qi and form a Protective Upstanding Qi; his Palm Gust and finger blast would become frighteningly powerful. He would then be able to kill from afar!

When facing an attack with such powerful inner force, the terrifying Palm Gust and Finger Blast and other average moves would be useless. One could not even get close enough to attack!

You Huanduo had once thought he could just use his palm gust to kill Meng Qi, as long as he stayed out of Meng Qi's sword's striking range. He had thought that Meng had lost his Inner Qi Force, and could only rely on the dynamic transformations of his sword. The result was that You Huanduo had been badly harmed by Meng Qi's Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship, for Meng Qi had never lost his Kung Fu.

Her Finger Blast was like an array of flying daggers and arrows, penetrating the air in layers. Even if Meng Qi saw a weakness in the Devil Empress's form, there was nothing he could do because it was nearly impossible for his sword to penetrate through the strong blast.

It was not that the Devil Empress was lightning fast, but rather that she seemed to be moving with the darkness. Though her movements were heavy and gradual, it was impossible to fend off her attacks!

Meng Qi suddenly felt a sense of fear as the sound of the zither became crisp. He forcibly collected himself and repelled the pressure of her energy, in order to keep his focus. Meng Qi activated the heart sutra of the Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship. He concentrated so that his will was in a state of calm before he attacked with his blade.

Though his energy had recovered after some rest, he had still only just exerted the "Peace Quietude Split". This meant that if he wanted to use it again, he would have to activate the Sacrifice Formula. He used the heart sutra to ready himself for the possible battle, just in case he collapsed.

His muscles swelled up, stretching his night-travelling cloak. The dark gold glow flowed throughout his body. He was about to shake off the "Yin Engulfment".

All of a sudden, an idea flashed through his mind. He stopped trying to break free and decided to focus on going with the flow of the Yin Qi that entangled him, and from there, extending outwards!

Meng Qi's calm spirit reflected what was happening around him. Strands of formless Yin Qi threads were drifting in the air. Some wrapped around his arms and ankles, and some had formed into a mesh.

The threads of Yin Qi had come from the Devil Empress' body, which meant that they were being controlled. Meng Qi projected his spirit to integrate into the threads that entangled him so he could pry into the Devil Empress. As a result, he could sense the distribution of her genuine Qi, the transformations of her form and the mysteries of her finger blast!

His spirit was calm like never before, reflecting everything around him. He could sense the flow-pattern of the Devil Empress' Protective Upstanding Qi, the complex layers, the strengths and weaknesses of her Finger Blast. Everything was reflected in front him as if he was watching a film.

At that moment, the script of the Qi-breaking Move appeared in his heart and he felt instantly enlightened. He realized that if he wanted to master this move, then this state of calm and the spirit of the Immortal Pressing Art were definitely key factors. The ability to use genuine Qi to sense the opponent's ability was also necessary.

He struck with his long sword. The sword "travelled" through the countless strands of the Yin Qi, twisting and bending, as if guided. Once the sword penetrated through, it hit the finger blast's weak spot, which was also the pivot point.

With a puff, the Finger Blast dissipated. The Devil Empress was taken aback. She stretched her fingers and gracefully flicked Meng Qi's sword, deflecting it away.

The sound of the zither suddenly turned hoarse as though the strings had been broken. A strong gust of wind blasted at the Devil Empress.

The Devil Empress waved the sleeves of her tunic. Yin Qi fused together and redirected the blast. It hit the surrounding bushes leaving a deep gash visible.

I had no idea that Ruan Yushu had this move up her sleeve. Or did it have something to do with her zither?

Seizing the opportunity, Meng Qi struck with his long sword.

The sword light was pure and concentrated as if it had been summoned by the Nine Serenities. The blade light was aimed directly at the Devil Empress's mid-brows, which, incidentally, was the weak spot of her Protective Upstanding Qi!

She scoffed and made a grabbing motion with her right hand. Countless strands of Yin Qi wrapped around her mid-brows, forming a Yin Qi cocoon.

The blade light indeed followed the principles of Dharma and Logos, which stated that once the attack was made, the sword light would gain speed and there was no chance for withdrawal. So before the cocoon could form, the long sword had already reached her.

POW!

The Yin Qi cocoon exploded, and the momentum of the sword stopped. The Devil Empress pressed the tip of the sword with her left index finger. Energy and Qi flowed out.

Since she had been protected by her genuine Qi and the momentum of Meng Qi's "Yama's Invitation" had been broken by the cocoon, her fair, jade-like finger was unharmed.

Her veil was split in two and drifted to the ground, revealing a face that had not been affected by age at all. Her features were delicate; there was no denying her beauty. The only marks of age on her face were her eyes, which showed hints of exhaustion and vicissitude that added maturity to her elegance.

"Great bladesmanship," the Devil Empress praised again in her raspy voice.

Meng Qi gritted his teeth. He was about to activate the Sacrifice Formula and drive the "Mortal Dust Fall" in desperation. His intention was to use the knowledge of the distribution of her genuine Qi to push her back. Then he could make his getaway!

Just then, the Devil Empress who had her finger on the tip of the sword flew up as if she was made of paper. She drifted in the air with the wind and landed under a large tree, blending in with the darkness, trees, and grass around her. It was as if she was not there.

Meng Qi suddenly realized that the Devil Empress had just casually made a grabbing motion and had not unleashed her full strength.

Strands of hair had come off Meng Qi's head. He had not had the protection of the Golden Bell Shield, so the finger blast had affected him.

"Am I right in assuming that you wanted to explore the imperial palace so you could have a better idea of the old goat's condition?" asked the Devil Empress. She did not attack again. Rather she looked at him with her eyes full of indifference and grief.

Meng Qi felt more at ease when he heard her question, but he did not dare to let his guard down. At present their Qi was still entangled together. If Meng Qi let up for even a second, the Devil Empress could take advantage and attack him.

Meng Qi readied both his blade and sword for attack. He asked coldly, "You want to make an alliance?"

"I don't have anyone in my camp that is comparable to you when it comes to Kung Fu," she replied honestly.

"Had she witnessed the whole process of Lu Huasheng's capture? How could it be so coincidental? And hadn't the Demon King sworn allegiance to her?" These questions flashed in Meng Qi's mind, but without showing any of it on his face, he proceeded to ask, "What do you want? And why should I trust you?"

"If I wanted to kill you, you would not live to see tomorrow's sun," proclaimed the Devil Empress in a modest and calm tone. Her confidence was unshaken after the battle, but of course, she could just be playing mind games. "You want to find out the old man's condition. So do I. It's mutually beneficial, in this case at least, as we have the same goal. As for the future, only the Gods know whether we would be friends or foe."

"We have between now and tomorrow night to slip into the imperial palace and find out the truth. I can distract Wang Derang while your team goes in to check the old man's condition."

Meng Qi mused for a moment and then asked, "Aren't you afraid that I would lie to you about his condition?"

"Once you find out, it doesn't matter what condition he is in, you'd react accordingly. I would know the truth without you even opening your mouth," she answered expressionlessly.

"Deal, but I still want to ask General Lu first. If he doesn't know the emperor's condition, then we go in tomorrow night," Meng Qi answered, nodding in agreement.

He was exhausted after exerting so much Energy on his blade and sword attacks.

The Devil Empress gently nodded and took a step backwards, disappearing into the shadows. Her presence could be felt long after she had left.

Meng Qi turned and saw that Ruan Yushu was restringing the zither. He was glad that only a few strands of his hair had been blasted off and not his entire wig. "I didn't know that you could play a genuine Qi tune."

Her strumming had produced a strong gust as sharp as swords!

The gust from her stroke could rival that of Sword Qi. This meant that she could attack an opponent from a distance. As expected of the daughter of an aristocratic family, she was not to be underestimated!

"This zither was a gift from my father, who has always spoiled me," answered Ruan Yushu, still maintaining her aloof personality.

"How many Apertures have you opened?" He could not help but ask.

She answered sincerely, "Four."

She's about my age, perhaps a few years younger...Even Jiang Zhiwei, at this age, was at about the same level pertaining to skills. But she did have some assistance from the Heavenly Acumen Pill. To be honest, judging from her talent, she will be able to open Ear Apertures in a couple of months... While thinking, Meng Qi assessed himself and realized that his Golden Bell Shield, which had been one step away, had now successfully been consummated thanks to the pressure of the Yin Engulfment. He had finally entered the sixth level. Now he could concentrate on cultivating the Nasal Apertures and other related Aperture acupoints!

Having returned to the yard, Meng Qi did not go to Lu Guan right away for answers with regards to the emperor's condition. He decided to harmonize his Qi-circulation instead.

"Why not go and find the Sword Emperor?" Ruan Yushu asked suddenly.

Meng Qi turned to look at her, giggling, "You've been wanting to ask that question for a while now huh?"

Ruan Yushu turned her nose up in the air and was about to leave.

Meng Qi quickly explained, "Because I'm not certain whether the Fourth Imperial Prince is a friend or foe. It'll be a risk to go and ask the Sword Emperor. At least the Devil Empress can be considered somewhat of an ally."

"An ally?" she repeated. She stopped in her steps.

"The idea of capturing Lu Huasheng was something I came up with out of the blue, yet the Devil Empress already knew and witnessed the whole process. Do you think that's a coincidence?" Meng Qi answered with a smile.

Ruan Yushu frowned her brows, "Could it be Luo Shengyi?"

Did he sell us out?

"No, if Luo Shengyi had sold us out, the Devil Empress would not have risked being discovered by watching us capture Lu Huasheng. She could have just waited for Luo Shengyi's report," explained Meng Qi, bragging a bit. "There was someone else who knew our plan."

"The Third Prince?" Ruan Yushu was suddenly enlightened.

Meng Qi nodded gently, "Correct, the Third Prince. It was he who was colluding with the Devil Empress, not the seventh prince! The Third Prince knew that if his colluding with the Devil Empress were exposed, then all the Civil Service Officers of the imperial court would be against him. So he asked the Devil Empress to attack Luo Shengyi on purpose to create a smoke screen. This would also eliminate Luo Shengyi's doubts at the same time."

"Didn't the Devil Empress herself say that she didn't have anyone of my level in her camp? If she was aligned with the seventh prince, the Ghost King would be her henchman, and he is better than me."

"The Ghost King and Devil Empress are separate entities. Just because the Ghost King swore allegiance to the Seventh Imperial Prince doesn't mean he's in cahoots with the Devil Empress."

"And, only with the support of the Demon School, which has been operating in secrecy for years, could the information from the Third Prince be accurate!"

Ruan Yushu was a bit surprised. "Even the Reckless Monk has an intellectual side..."

Meng Qi's smiling face suddenly froze.