Chapter 166: Losing Consciousness
Jun Huang knew the rules of a friendly match. She withdrew her sword and took a step back. “Good fight,” she said with her hands cupped.
The boy scrambled away, too stunned to say anything in return. The crowd erupted into cheers when they finally recovered from their shock. Jun Huang stood on the stage with her back straight, unaffected by her surroundings.
Jun Huang’s second opponent was an expert fighter - a strongly built man armed with a scimitar and intimidating biceps. His presence alone created an almost physical force.
Jun Huang leveled him with a cold gaze and tightened her grip on her sword. She could tell that this man was not going to be easy to deal with, but she couldn’t back down.
They exchanged greetings. Jun Huang made the first move and stabbed the man with her sword. The man narrowed his eyes and parried the attack with his scimitar.
The man’s muscles were not for show. His strike was powerful enough to knock Jun Huang’s sword away. She staggered back, her arm going numb.
When she was about the strike again, blood rushed from her lungs to her throat. She used her sword like a crutch to keep herself upright. Her hearing went muddy all of a sudden.
Nan Xun’s eyes had been fixed on Jun Huang, taking in every little move of hers. He immediately noticed the cold sweat streaming down her forehead.
Before Nan Xun could jump on stage, Jun Huang took a deep breath and opened her eyes to stare at the man. Her gaze was so cold that even he, a tall and burly fighter, froze in apprehension.
Jun Huang lunged at the man with her sword raised. The man only recovered when Jun Huang was right before him. He struck at Jun Huang with his palm. Jun Huang did a flip and landed behind him. Even though the man had a quick reflex, Jun Huang’s sword was able to cut into his arm.
The man paid no mind to his injury. He spat and charged at Jun Huang with his scimitar.
Ah, Jun Huang thought. That hit must have angered him. She kept her guard up and stepped back with her sword before her. When she reached the edge of the stage, she propelled herself up with her sword and stepped on the guardrail to launch herself to the man.
After the time for an incense stick to burn, there still wasn’t a winner between them.
Jun Huang struggled to keep up with the man’s attacks. Nan Xun was barely breathing. He wanted to make sure that he would be able to rescue Jun Huang when the man made a move that would seriously hurt Jun Huang.
Jun Huang’s stance faltered and her face went pale. Nan Xun took a few steps forward. His heart clenched in panic.
Jun Huang put a hand over her chest. The poison sure picked a good time to act up! She finally lost her calm. The man took the opportunity to strike at her with his palm.
Some of the audience cried out in shock as dust flew into the air, obscuring their view. When they could see clearly what was happening again, they saw Jun Huang blocking the man’s palm with her own. Her face was as pale as a sheet. That they had not seen coming.
Nan Xun’s expression darkened. He knew Jun Huang was barely keeping herself up. What he wouldn’t give to take that attack for her!
The hit was not intended to kill, but it was still a strong one. In that split second, Jun Huang could only countered it with a strike of her palm, taking the man’s force headon. It felt as if someone had made a mess of her organs. She could taste blood in her mouth. This wasn’t good. She had to make it quick.
Before the man could react, Jun Huang kicked the man in his knees. It might not be an honorable move, but it was effective. The man backed off in reflex.
Jun Huang wasn’t going to drag this fight on. She advanced on the man, forcing him to stepped back. She then punched him in the nose, causing blood to gush out of his nostrils. When the man was about to strike back, she hit him with her left palm and threw the man over her shoulder. The man lay on the ground, unable to get up.
Jun Huang had won this match. As soon as the referee announced her victory, she spat out a mouthful of blood.
The audience was startled. Nan Xun immediately jumped onto the stage and caught Jun Huang to stop her from falling.
Color had drained completely from Jun Huang’s face. Even her lips were white. Her hand trembled around the hilt of her sword. It dropped to the ground with a clink.
Nan Xun took her off the stage. The onlookers shared a puzzled look. The referee stepped up and asked the audience to remain calm. He agreed to let Jun Huang take a rest.
Nan Xun was going to take Jun Huang away, but she refused to let him. She had one foot inside the tournament. There was nothing for her to fear. She would regret it if she gave up now.
“Go on, keep pushing yourself,” Nan Xun said angrily. “You never know to put your safety first.” With a scowl, he led Jun Huang to a chair and put a pill in Jun Huang’s mouth. Only then did the poison in Jun Hunag’s system quiet down.
Jun Huang closed her eyes, her breaths shallow. She started to calm the erratic energy in her body. Nan Xun stood by her side, blocking others’ curious looks without bothering Jun Huang.
The medicine took some time to circulate through her body. Jun Huang spat out some tainted blood. She felt better now. Her face was less pale.
She was far from fully-recovered, however. After all the poison had acted up only a moment ago, and she had taken a hit directly. She tightened her jaw and forced her pain down. Even Nan Xun didn’t know exactly how serious she had been hurt.
The referee called out for her to take the stage. Nan Xun was going to stop her, but Jun Huang insisted. She refused to let her weaknesses show.
Nan Xun sighed in resignation. He asked his guard to get some water for Jun Huang. She took a gulp and got to her feet.
Sharp pain shot through her chest as soon as she stood up. Jun Huang took a deep breath to steady herself. Seeing Nan Xun’s concerned look, she forced herself to give him a smile before walking toward the stage.
This time, her opponent was a woman in Taoist clothing. The dress danced in the wind like a puff of smoke. Jun Huang looked at the woman with calm eyes and bowed slightly in greeting. Her sword shone brightly in her hand. She did not raise it.
The Taoist woman used a horsetail whisk as her weapon. She scoffed, a cold glint flashing through her eyes. With a careless apology, she lunged at Jun Huang. Jun Huang narrowed her eyes and slashed at the woman with her sword, but the blade was caught by the whisk.
Jun Huang pursed her lips, trying to recover her weapon to no avail. She kicked at the woman, but the woman had anticipated her move. She sidestepped before Jun Huang’s kick could land on her and struck at Jun Huang with her palm.
The strike was powerful. Jun Huang could feel the killing intent even from a distance. She had no choice but to abandon her sword and stepped away.
The woman came at Jun Huang with insistent attacks. Jun Huang was able to counter the first few hits, but gradually her steps started to falter and her vision blurred.
The woman seemed to have decided to stop toying with Jun Huang. With a knock of the woman’s whisk, Jun Huang was flung into the railing. She threw up a mouthful of blood.
The audience looked on in shock. Nan Xun was downright panicking. He leaped onto the stage and kicked the woman away before she could make another killing move. He stood before Jun Huang, looking down at the woman with chilly gaze. “The duel is meant to be a friendly fight. Why did you so cruelly try to kill your opponent?”
The woman was unable to say anything after getting kicked by Nan Xun. She looked at Rong’er reflexively, which made Rong’er’s heart seized up in panic. When Rong’er looked toward the stage, however, Nan Xun had already knelt down to pull Jun Huang into his arms. He didn’t even care to look at her.
Possessed by anger, Rong’er let out a cruel laugh and ran up to the stage, disregarding the odd looks the audience cast. She looked at Jun Huang, who was lying against Nan Xun’s chest, and mocked, “I didn’t expect the gentleman to be this weak. I thought you were better than others! But this is all you’ve got! Why didn’t you accept defeat earlier? That would spare you the pain.”
“Enough!” Nan Xun growled. Rong’er crossed the line again and again. He had never known any woman this repulsive. “I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve by insulting my friend, and I don’t care. You? You may dress well, but underneath your skin is an ugly beast. May our paths never cross again in the future!”
Rong’er was stunned silent. In her sect she was the most cherished disciple. And yet the man she liked was so harsh to her. Her eyes were brimming with tears, but it only made Nan Xun even more resentful.
Jun Huang lost conscious suddenly. Nan Xun froze. He only let out the breath he had been holding after taking Jun Huang’s pulse. Without sparing Rong’er another glance, Nan Xun gathered Jun Huang into his arms and walked away, leaving Rong’er staring after them with her teeth clenched.
A venomous glint flashed through her eyes. It was all she could do to stop herself from losing it in public. She went back to her master and said that she wanted to fight Jun Huang in the next match. She would like to see how Nan Xun would react once she defeated Jun Huang.
Nan Xun had never been this scared. He carried Jun Huang back to the inn in a rush. The clerk was shocked to see the state Jun Huang was in. This young man was still his graceful self in the morning, he thought. What has happened to put blood on his robe? The contrast between the blood and the turquoise fabric was horrifying, and yet it added a grotesque beauty to Jun Huang’s pale face.
In this state, she was so terribly beautiful.
“What - what happened?” the clerk quickly recovered and shouted after Nan Xun. “Should I get a doctor?”
Nan Xun paused and glanced at Jun Huang before turning around. “Please, and be quick!”
The clerk rushed outside the inn. Not long after, the doctor was led in. Under Nan Xun’s intense scrutiny, the doctor nervously took Jun Huang’s pulse. He let out a relieved sigh and said, “This wo - gentleman is injured in his back, but fortunately his bones and tendons weren’t damaged. What caused him to lose conscious was the poison in his body. It ran through his body at a quicker pace because of his exertion. Otherwise he isn’t that badly hurt. However… he doesn’t have a lot of time left. Let him rest. He’ll wake up in a day or two.”
Afterwards, the doctor took his medicine kit and followed the guards out.
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