Proud to share a brotherhood with such an impressive individual, Long Cheng smiled: "As you heard, my brothers and I are wanderers in the pugilistic world. We no longer ask for a peaceful life. Dark Wind Branch is no longer what it once was; however, we are still Dark Wind Branch. We have our honour and things more important than our lives to protect.
Since you know us as well as the back of your hand, you should already be aware what Dark Wind Branch is proud of. Since falling from our peak, our three hundred member branch has been reduced to just sixteen members. All of our other members gave away their lives valiantly on battlefields. We have fallen, but we are not cowards who surrender or run. Please step away from there!"
Right after Long Cheng's last words, all sixteen members of Dark Wind Branch brandished their broadswords and prepared to cut down all those in their path. Their killing intent overcame the pressure the youth's killing intent imposed on them. Long Cheng camouflaged himself in darkness again.
"Wind of Death!"
The youth couldn't defuse Wind of Death using the same method again. Long Cheng zipped through the darkness. The youth touched his head and muttered, "I can't use an advanced method this time. Man, it is hard being an actor when I only have to act once a year."
Long Cheng paid no heed to the rambling and thrust his blade toward the youth's throat. The youth waved his hand and punched. Following the sound of something heavy dropping into water, the water rose up as a colossal tide. The youth's punch landed flush on Long Cheng's face, sending the latter reeling so fast through the air he generated a swirl of dust, yet Long Cheng looked as if only a big mosquito landed on his face.
Frustrated, the youth grumbled, "Yo, this man is trying to act badass. I was going to show off after not seeing you in so long. Why did you copy the p(ast)-"
"Now!" commanded Long Cheng, rising up to the water surface.
Fifteen members of Dark Wind Branch split off in fifteen directions to light up the torches.
Surprised, the youth remarked, "I'm impressed you're trying that in this situation."
Long Cheng didn't see himself triumphing against the youth; therefore, he decided to focus solely on lighting the torches. His goal was to see the youth so that whoever from Dark Wind Branch escaped could seek the youth out to avenge them.
Once the torches were lit, the dark space was revealed in its entirety. Dark Wind Branch fell silent. They didn't see the youth's face, for he hid in the shadow the door cast. They, instead, saw a scene that sent a chill down Long Cheng's spine; he imagined himself being devoured. Corpses lied scattered all over the ground. Judging from their condition, they died yesterday. The number of corpses wasn't what freaked Long Cheng out but the identity of the dead.
Long Cheng recognised every dead guard on the ground. They were the assassins Kong Duan spent a decade gathering and training for his grand scheme, the guards said to be capable of replacing Liu Shan's Elites Ranking, the Feiyun Guards.
"F-Feiyun Guards…" Long Cheng stammered, finally noticing the bloody stench he missed. "Why… They… You killed all of the Feiyun Guards Why did you kill them… How did you kill them… Y-Y-You killed all of them Impossible… You must have comrades. Where are your c-"
"I don't need comrades," interjected the youth, with a hand wave before moving on to run his hand gently on the stone hinged door. "Why did I kill them, you ask It's because they also tried to harm that which I would give my life to protect."
Everybody was on edge as they watched the youth, for they didn't know what he wanted to do with the secret room. They were primarily concerned he'd defile their sacred grounds.
The youth, tone frigid, asked, "This door has restrained you all this time, correct"
The youth pulled his arm back and thrust forward again, performing a booming palm strike that was louder than all the people crying for him to stop. To their amazement, he cracked the stone door in a way only conceivable if they were told someone assaulted the door with ten thousand hammers and a thousand broadswords.
Long Cheng didn't know what the youth's goal was. Nevertheless, Long Cheng was certain the youth's arm was history after hitting the door with that much force judging from the volume of the wind. After all, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The impact sounded as loud as an explosion.
Dark Wind Branch's members' eyes silently welled up with tears. The youth turned around to give them a smile: "Henceforward, you are free."
Long Cheng exclaimed, "Who exactly are you"
"Don't you already know me" asked the youth, peering into the distance as if he was reminiscing the past. "It's been five years. Our different environments have changed us. Back in the day at Lawless Cliff, two branch leaders would quarrel all day long over staying secluded and going out. The three King Guardians all had their habits. Black Lotus' six emissaries had their own disguises they always wore. You were the only one among four Guardians who ran the sect's businesses and was capable. The last thing I expected was for you to vanish first when the biscuit crumbled. I've travelled from South to North, the Western Regions to the East, but I couldn't find you. I never thought you'd be with a secretary."
"Y-You searched for us Wait! How do you know who we are… There shouldn't be many people in the pugilistic world who know I was a guardian…."
"There were only four people who inherited Old Dao's broadsword skills. Two of his successors were horrible with the skills," replied the youth, smiling derisively. "Is there anyone else who uses it as a poorly and restrictively as a stick in the mud the way you do"
The more Long Cheng heard the youth's voice, the more familiar he felt it was. His tone… seemed more mature than back then, but the way he sounded as though he was teasing you when he spoke was still the same. For some reason, Long Cheng started to feel emotional. The surreal feeling he had let to him addressing the youth in a formal manner of speech.
"Y-You could not be… Wait, y-you would not be…"
The youth slowly stepped out of the shadow. The light on his face flickered uncontrollably. The light and shadow's dance revealed half of the familiar, resolute and masculine face from five years ago. He stood with an upright posture. The long hair splayed behind him was as white as snow. Even the lower-ranking members of Dark Wind Branch recognised him. Though they were men as tough as steel, their voices sounded as if they were sobbing: "Y-You!"
Ming Feizhen smiled, "Guardian Long, brothers, it's been a long time."
"Your subject pays his respects to you, Lord San Shen!" all sixteen members dropped to their knees and greeted him in unison.
Ming Feizhen covered his ears and frowned: "I still can't get use to you calling me so loudly."
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