Hong Jiu silently rose to his feet. His fighting spirit burnt as intensely as it could; his internal injuries were no longer cumbersome. He healed quickly, as his internal energy was potent, and he took the least damage of the trio.
Abels smiled: "According to our investigations, you are not part of the escort and not part of the imperial court's personnel. Your martial arts skills are decent. Have you ever considered life as a bandit"
"Shit me, where did you learn to be a bandit You're persuasion script is more courteous than what a scholar's."
"I won't be courteous with my next punch."
Abels took a step forward. The next step he took was so intimidating it felt as though he was stomping pressure onto Hong Jiu. Hong Jiu was always proudest of his physique apt for martial arts greatness, yet he felt as though he couldn't stand with his chest up in the face of Abels' intimidation. Hong Jiu grunted and stomped, parting the mud beneath him and forcing his chest up.
"Commendable, indeed. You're worthy of witnessing eighty percent of my full power," enthused Abels, smiling and ending his second sentence in a rather dramatic tone.
As if he collected the pressure he was emitting around him, Abels concentrated his strength to his hand: "Take this!"
The wind generated from Abels punch parted the rain and air within a radius of nine metres around his punching arm. The gust of wind created a hemisphere several centimetres deep in the ground. Abels' arm suddenly glowed blue. There was no convincing anyone Hong Jiu would survive the punch.
Hong Jiu took in a deep breath and blocked out Abels' location from his mind. It was futile to locate an adept at Divine Realm, a fact he learnt from being around his first senior brother for so many years. Attempting to pinpoint the enemy could end up confusing him. Unable to pinpoint Abels once he moved, Hong Jiu launched a palm strike before Abels actually tried to tag him.
Hong Jiu's launched a barrage of seventy-nine palm strikes from left to right. Once he felt the unstoppable force nine centimetres away from Abels' body, Hong Jiu felt half of his body go numb. That was when Hong Jiu finished with the latter half of his move.
"Watch carefully, nimrod… This is palm technique!"
Hong Jiu palmed toward the sky, flickering the blue energy ball on Abels' hand. When Abels tried to mould more energy to consolidate his energy, Hong Jiu and the latter's force up overwhelmed the entire space.
What happened was Hong Jiu used the seventy-nine palm strikes to narrow the space, limiting both of them to their internal strength. Abels' internal energy could run through Hong Jiu's effortlessly, so it was more than what the narrow space could contain.
Imagine a room that isolated only two objects within that space. If one of the two objects was to expand, it would eventually push the second object out. So accordingly, Abels' second punch decimated the space Hong Jiu created, which was exactly what the latter was aiming for.
If Hong Jiu and Abels' blows met, one would take damage; however, due to the small space and the force of Abels' second punch only being at thirty percent of his full power, the punch only pushed Hong Jiu out. Still, Hong Jiu was dropped and sprayed a mouthful of blood.
Song Ou ran over to Hong Jiu, thrilled: "Deputy General Hong, you managed to withstand the second punch!"
"Just… Just shut the ** up…" Hong Jiu puked another mouthful of blood. He suffered severe blood loss and showed gait disturbance. He stammered, "Had… Had I not used Empty Palms, I'd already be dead…"
Instead of trying to attack futilely, Hong Jiu used Empty Palms to reduce the force of Abels' punch to only thirty percent, although he should've credited his own physical strength, for it still would've been fatal, otherwise.
"What palm style was that That was eighty percent of my full power," asked Abels, checking out his fist and sounding exhilirated. "It's been many years since I've fought someone of your calibre. In saying that, it doesn't change the fact that you're unable to continue. What do you say Will you be my slave"
"I'm okay with your mother being my slave," sneered Shen Yiren, rising again unexpectedly. Shen Yiren used her sword to support her off the ground. She was so bloody that there was no telling where the wound was; not even the rain could wash the blood off her. She rhetorically asked, "I'm still alive. I'll take your third punch, or can't you stick to your own rules"
Song Ou finally understood what Shen Yiren and Hong Jiu's strategy was. Shen Yiren deliberately stuffed Abels' opportunity to use his full power and used it to her advantage to preserve some of her own energy. As for the second punch, she had to let Hong Jiu gamble his life and take it. Abels was left with only once punch. Unless he could maim all three of them in a single punch, he'd only be able to kill the challenger and be forced to spare the two survivors. In other words, one of them was bound to be a sacrifice.
There was no need for elaborate explanations to explain why Shen Yiren got back up. She simply wanted to protect the other two. Hong Jiu wanted to stop her, but he was busy coughing. Shen Yiren told him, "This has nothing to do with Mount Daluo. You joined us because I requested your assistance. I can't let you die for no rhyme or reason. As for Song Ou, I promised Song Clan I wouldn't let any harm befall him. I must uphold my promise."
Shen Yiren wasn't asking for their input. Hong Jiu couldn't speak much after suffering a lung injury. The best thing he could do was focus on recovering as soon as he could.
Abels figured out Shen Yiren's plan after the first punch, but he thought very little of life and death after being there so many times himself. He asked, "Are you certain I can't kill all three of you"
Abels took a deep breath and enhanced his fists with the blue energy again. For one to reach a level where they could make their true qi visible to the naked eye was rare. He already demonstrated the might of the energy balls. If he desired, he actually could kill the trio in a single move.
"I could easily kill all three of you at the same time. Care to try"
"I'll stop you," Shen Yiren stepped forward and answered in a calm voice. She no longer had the requisites to use Qi Sword again. She added, “I will stop you even if it takes everything I have. If I don't have my sword, I'll grab you. If I can't use my arms, I'll kick you. If I can't use my legs, I'll bite you. No matter what it takes, I'll stop you."
River Monster looked forward to torturing Shen Yiren. After hearing Shen Yiren's determined declaration, River Monster realised she wouldn't find any joy in it. If anything, she would only frustrate herself. Shen Yiren's gaze told her the former was ready to die for what she believed in.
"She's out of her mind… I've never seen such a crazy woman. What does she want" commented River Monster.
Mountain Monster answered, "She's prettier than you, more skilled with a sword than you and isn't a coward. I don't blame Master for preferring her."
"Nobody asked you to confirm you're not mute!" River Monster glared at Mountain Monster: "Who said Master likes her Master has always liked me the most!"
Uneasy after hearing Mountain Monster's comment, River Monster ran her gaze over Shen Yiren and thought, "She has narrow hips and a big bust. I must torture her. Actually, a long night is fraught with nightmares. I'm just going to gash her and be done with it."
Shen Yiren was so worn out that merely standing in the cold drain was slowly but surely sapping her life out of her. Her eyelids were heavy; there was no way of telling for sure if her eyes were open or shut. Even her hair on her shoulders felt as though it was weighing her down. Her heavy pants were audible in the quiet night. Her clothes resembled unbecoming cloth fragments unenviably stuck together. Her blue undershirt was also torn, revealing her globes. Her domineering aura was as visible as oxygen. She resembled a naïve and adorable young girl. Abels could hear her weak heartbeat from afar, indicating her injuries were worse than Hong Jiu's.
Abels calmly commented, "You've lost. The third punch will undoubtedly finish you."
Shen Yiren hung her head. Speaking was no longer within her capabilities. Song Ou wanted to speak up, but he hesitated. He had fully recovered thanks to the other two buying time. Even if he lacked experience in combat, there was one thing he could take out of Shen Yiren's book: risk his life to save the two. He was genuinely afraid of sacrificing himself; but nevertheless, he mustered up the courage to take charge when he saw the state Shen Yiren was in until he heard her quietly mutter, "Big Brother… take care."
Shen Yiren spoke in a gentle voice Song Ou had never heard before, yet it was the equivalent of thunderclap by his ear. Her tone was a clear indication the "Big Brother" she mentioned wasn't him. He gnashed his teeth and relaxed his tense legs. If Song Ou could hear her, Hong Jiu naturally heard her. He displayed surprise but didn't comment.
Shen Yiren dragged her foot out in front of her. The sword in her hand resembled the sword in an ordinary folk's hand, but Abels saw it completely differently. He sensed Sword Qi more violent than before and a spirit that would render even enemies awestruck. He raised an eyebrow and wondered, "Sword Spirit Did she just level up in the middle of a fight and while on the brink of death"
*Gait Disturbance - this is the point a ring/octagon doctor would check an athlete and likely call off the fight as a TKO. It's not quite stumbling but uncoordinated movements that resemble demented zombies out of a movie flick. If you're aware of what normal (not accounting for context) should like look, you'll likely notice it when you see it.
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