Chapter 748: Unexpected, hidden depths

Who was he?

Everyone was curious to know. If Cang Qiuzi wasn’t unconscious, he would be stunned, because this was none other than his eldest disciple He Yilian! He had been recommended to Celestial Mountain when he was only five years old by the old and illustrious He Clan of the jianghu. Thanks to his good family background and rare innate gifts, Cang Qiuzi took him personally under his wing. Cang Qiuzi had accepted countless other disciples to Lockheart Courtyard before him, but He Yilian was the first one he’d actually acknowledged. Thus, the eldest martial brother of Lockheart Courtyard was him. 

He Yilian was a temperate man with a very good temper. He got along with others, was refined and cultivated, and extremely modest. He was a handsome and well known gentleman in Celestial Mountain and his martial arts skills were considered outstanding amongst the two Depositories and Courtyards. 

Even so, he couldn’t defeat Long Feiye!

Even if Long Feiye hadn’t cultivated for a month or lacked the Lustbite Seal’s power and the sword sect master’s Nirvana Heart Arts, He Yilian was still outmatched. At most, his inner energy had only reached level five! But the rules of the ranking matches stated that anyone who set foot upon its stage had to fight. What was He Yilian doing here? Seeking death?

Amidst the shock of the crowd, He Yilian sighed lightly and clasped his hands in a bow. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, this one is He Yilian, Lockheart Courtyard’s eldest martial brother. Please instruct me.”

Cang Xiaoying held Cang Qiuzi as she cried, “Eldest martial brother, get off there! Are you insane?”

“Junior sister, though senior brother’s skills may be lacking, I must fight for master’s sake. How could he, as Celestial Mountain’s head elder, suffer such humiliation?” As he spoke, he turned to face the rest of the Lockheart Courtyard disciples. “Master might have fallen, but our Lockheart Courtyard has not. And it never will, isn’t that right!?”

Immediately, someone spoke up from the throng. “That’s right! Eldest martial brother, good on you!”

With that, more voices of support rose to join the first, stirring the crowd with righteous indignation until it seemed like Long Feiye was the one who bullied Cang Qiuzi and his Lockheart Courtyard.

“Eldest martial brother, you’re great. Even if you fall, there’s still the rest of us! We’ll join right after you!”

“Eldest martial brother, even if you lose against a high ranked expert like Long Feiye, it’s still honorable! You’re much greater than him!”

“Hehe, I never thought His Highness Duke of Qin improved so markedly in his martial arts. Even master wasn’t his match! Eldest martial brother, you’re a fifth rank against an eighth rank. You’re the pride of our Lockheart Courtyard! In our hearts, you’re much stronger than the Duke of Qin!”

These words ignited Han Yunxi’s temper again and again. They’re absolutely shameless!

No wonder they were all Cang Qiuzi’s disciples. All of them were the same: contentious hypocrites! Their words made one sick at heart. It wasn’t Long Feiye who went to challenge the Lockheart Courtyard’s doors or suppress the weak with the strong. This was a ranking match where anyone who wanted to could join in! Here was a competition between strong contenders. For a weakling like He Yilian to avenge his master here while asking for instruction was commendable. But they’d hardly started fighting before he was laying out their differences. It made it seem like Long Feiye had done something against them, or that the man had to yield him a few moves or else be seen as a bully, or that Long Feiye’s victory here would be an unfair advantage.

How disgusting.

Long Feiye looked coldly at He Yilian, his voice like ice. “Granny You, your lordship’s match with Cang Qiuzi isn’t over yet. Where did this man come from?”

All sound ceased at his words. The Lockheart Courtyard disciples were staring gap-faced, afraid to make a peep. Cang Qiuzi was already kicked offstage while unconscious. Could it be...could it be that Long Feiye was determined to kill the man?

Granny You immediately rose to her feet. “Someone come, apprehend He Yilian for interfering with the ranking matches. He’ll await trial later!”

Abruptly, Cang Xiaoying cried out. “My father admits defeat! My father admits he’s lost, that Lockheart Courtyard’s lost...sobsob…”

Cang Xiaoying wasn’t clear on the shared history of plots between her father and his eldest disciple, but she knew the sect elder would definitely find Cang Qiuzi for revenge once he lost. There was his dealings with Grand Concubine Yi, with Duanmu Yao, and all of the illegal gains he’d done in his position. None of them could be covered up now. Thus, nothing could happen to her eldest martial brother, either. With him here, Lockheart Courtyard would at least have a successor to lead them. If he died, what was she supposed to do? She had used her father’s position to gain advantages of her own to control much of Celestial Mountain’s industries and business. But she didn’t know anything about managing Lockheart Courtyard or its particulars!

“Long Feiye, my father admits defeat! Cang Qiuzi has lost, your fight has ended!” Cang Xiaoying proclaimed loudly.

Long Feiye remained expressionless, so Cang Xiaoying shouted, “He Yilian, you get off there! Lockheart Courtyard’s already acknowledged defeat, get down!” She set Cang Qiuzi to one side and rushed to Granny You. “Auntie You, according to the rules of the ranking matches, the fight ends as soon as one side admits defeat! My father has lost! I’m his daughter, I can represent him to accept his loss.”

Her sincere desire to withdraw soothed the nerves of many unhappy members in the crowd, especially Han Yunxi. This bunch of Lockheart Courtyard people are simply seeking their own humiliation.

Granny You looked at Long Feiye, then at the three white-haired elders sitting as referees above the stage. They were all former elders of Celestial Mountain who had abdicated their positions. They were Honored Elders who had long left the secular world behind them to spend their years in bitter cultivation. It was rare for them to show themselves even within a decade. Although they didn’t involve themselves in any worldly struggles, including those within Celestial Mountain, the sword sect master had still invited them out. Hopefully, their presence would awe any restless elements of the Heretical Sword Sect.

Currently, the sword sect master was staring at He Yilian with a serious expression. Soon enough, one of the Honored Elders nodded his head and announced, “For this match, Long Feiye is the victor.”

Immediately, He Yilian broke free of his guards and shouted, “Then I’ll challenge His Highness Duke of Qin as an individual! That’s fine, isn’t it?”

Here was his true face!

Cang Xiaoying was floored. The rest were either surprised or confused. But Long Feiye’s eyes were quite penetrating. He had long sensed He Yilian’s strength when he jumped onto the stage--it had to be better than what anyone imagined. Anyone with the guts to stand on this plaza must have made preparations beforehand. Long Feiye knew that he had to end this match quickly too. Just then, he’d used too much force against Cang Qiuzi so his Lustbite Seal energy was already a bit unstable. 

He didn’t have much time left.

Pointing the Profound Frost Sword at He Yilian, he all but ordered him, “Draw your sword.”

But He Yilian did no such thing. Instead, a sinister look came into his eyes before he said modestly, “I ask that Your Highness Duke of Qin shows mercy!”

Without hesitation, Long Feiye stabbed forwards, his movement as quick as lightning. But to everyone’s surprise, He Yilian simply flickered to the side and dodged the blow. Only his clothes were ripped by the blow. Only then did the crowd realize that he wasn’t some simple opponent, nor was he here to just avenge Cang Qiuzi. He truly wanted to challenge Long Feiye for the position of champion!

He had hidden his skills deep!

Anyone who could manage such high-speed lightness techniques had to be at least level six in inner energy. In other words, He Yilian’s martial arts was already on par with that of the other three elders!

Too shocking!

The second and third elder exchanged glances. “Cang Qiuzi certainly hid this disciple thoroughly, ah!”

“I never expected it. Hehe, I never did! Did Cang Qiuzi really teach this fellow?”

Granny You was so agitated that she stood up again. While marveling at He Yilian’s hefty skills at such a young age, she was considering another question. “Who taught He Yilian his lightness techniques? If I recall correctly, that’s not Cang Qiuzi’s strong suit.”

Long Feiye was caught off-guard, but his sword didn’t stop. Multiple stabs were attempted, but He Yilian only dodged them quicker than before. He was so fast that many people began to think of the Shadow Clan instead! The so-called guardians of the West Qin imperial clan, known for their amazing speed!

All sorts of questions popped up at that thought.

Although He Yilian’s martial arts couldn’t compare to Long Feiye, such lightness techniques kept him well out of his attacks. As long as he had the stamina, he could drag out this battle. Even if he couldn’t win, he wouldn’t lose, either! This would become a contest of endurance. 

Han Yunxi was flabbergasted. Could this be the white-robed man that saved me in the past? But how is that possible? She shook her head in disbelief. Although they were very similar, she hoped that wasn’t the case. The white-robed gentleman was a beautiful exception in her life, an accidental meeting that she’d never forget. She might never have such a serendipitous encounter again, so she’d rather they never meet than have He Yilian destroy such a wonderful dream. She wanted to call out Lil Thing to see if it’d know him, but it was still sleeping in the poison pond. She couldn’t bear to disturb it now.

Long Feiye’s multiple attacks were all aimed to gauge He Yilian’s skills and the extent of his speed. Thanks to his continuous assault, his sword seemed to leave ten afterimages of the blade that circled He Yilian incessantly, forcing him to retreat. It was obvious that he was slowly backing up rather than darting left or right. 

He Yilian might be an unexpected foe, but it’d taken less time to brew a cup of tea for Long Feiye to pinpoint his weaknesses. Very soon, Long Feiye slashed forward and cut off one of He Yilian’s arms. As many of the female disciples shrieked from the sight, Long Feiye’s dreadful sword qi went ahead and cut off his other arm, too. Like this, He Yilian lost both limbs, but he was terrifyingly calm. He didn’t care a whit, almost as if the arms belonged to someone else. His heart was still focused on the task at hand: evading Long Feiye’s sword as best as he could.

Some of the more intelligent observers realized that He Yilian wasn’t relying on his evasion skills to win the ranking match. In fact, he seemed to know the outcome already. So what was his true motives for climbing onstage?

Why was he stalling for time?

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