23 Battle of Illusionists
When he saw Nie Zun stand, Guan Nie immediately got up as well. First, Nie Zun took a step, and then Guan Nie's white robe followed after.
"A delicate little girl like yourself shouldn't be so violent." Guan Nie covered his mouth and his white hair billowed behind him, the splitting image of a female celestial. In a flash, he suddenly appeared before Mi Fu. But Guan Nie's beauty didn't seem to attract Mi Fu's attentions, as she was still glaring scornfully at me.
Guan Nie brows shot up and he waved his hand in front of Mi Fu's face. "Hey, kiddo, I'm talking to you. How can you ignore a beauty like myself and look only upon that ugly thing in red?"
Guan Nie, you're genuinely trying to help me right now... Right?
The white-suited Huan Qing reached out and grabbed Guan Nie's waving arm.
I couldn't refrain from looking over at this peculiar man, Huan Qing. His amber eyes were deep and incomprehensible as before, but they weren't emitting the same dizzying white light as they had earlier. With a hold on Guan Nie's hand, he spoke very clearly. "She's still young. Using your illusions on her is excessive, is it not?"
What? So, did that mean that when Guan Nie was waving his hand in front of her, he'd been creating an illusion?
I glanced over at Guan Nie. His smile gradually faded and his expression darkened. Huan Qing didn't release Guan Nie's hand. Two figures dressed in white. One gave off a gentlemanly demeanor, short hair, dressed in a suit. The other was as beautiful as an immortal, long hair, dressed in white robes. Our surroundings seemed to brighten with their white presence.
"And it wasn't excessive of you to use your sorcery on our group?" Guan Nie asked faintly.
Huan Qing glanced at us, an indiscernable expression on his face. "You are outsiders. Why have you come to our Southern District?"
Without waiting for Guan Nie to respond, a cracking sound suddenly came from Jiao S. I turned and saw her stiffly turn her neck a few times. She wore a school uniform and her long hair fell behind her. Her eyes looked lifeless as she stepped forward, like a doll.
Jiao S' stiff appearance must have frightened the young girl named Mi Fu, for her eyes suddenly trembled as they shifted over to Jiao S. Then she subconsciously moved to hide behind Huan Qing.
Jiao S' unusual neck crackling caught everyone's attentions, and everyone suddenly quieted and stopped their actions. Step by step, she walked up to Huan Qing. She extended her hand and pulled back Guan Nie's. With two large, black eyes, she looked at Huan Qing. "You were the illusionist who meet us in he Southern Forest, correct?"
Without waiting for Huan Qing's response, she gave a strange laugh. The scratchy voice continued from her stiff neck. "You have one chance. Tell me, what did you see in the illusion you set on me?"
My brain immediately started turning. The meaning behind Jiao S' words was that her illusion had contained a scene which she did not want outsiders to know about? What about my illusion then? Had this Huan Qing also seen that?
As the thoughts went through my head, my eyes swept over the lively youth, Ku Fei, who had been standing quietly at the side. Ku Fei's sharp, black eyebrows furrowed deeply. His well-built body seemed to tremble slightly, and his rolled up shirt sleeves revealed somewhat visible beads of sweat on his wheat-colored skin. It looked like he was enduring some type of pain.
I guessed that the substance that coated Mi Fu's pink whip was unordinary. I quickly signaled to Jie Pa with my eyes. Jie Pa nodded to me. Then he adjusted his glasses and rushed over to Ku Fei's side.
"Let me see your wound," Jie Pa said to Ku Fei as he moved to check his back injury.
Unexpectedly, Mi Fu raised her hand and brandished her whip again. "Don't touch him!" Mi Fu shouted out loud. Jie Pa stopped in his steps, and I used Piercer to grab her pink whip.
All actions are followed by a reaction. After Piercer caught onto Mi Fu's pink whip, Huan Qing raised a hand and snapped his fingers. At the sound, I suddenly felt my body grow rigid, and the air around Jiao S started to hiss in a familiar way.
The air started to flow around Jiao S, and Guan Nie's smile disappeared. He also raised his hand and snapped his fingers. As if my acupuncture points had been closed and then re-opened, my stiff body returned to its lax state.
The air around Jiao S continued to hiss as the air started to spiral. Her eyes were wide, filled with a bright, exhilarated light. Her rough voice grew higher pitched. "You still haven't answered me. What did you see, Huan Qing?"
Huan Qing scoffed. He grabbed Mi Fu and retreated, wanting to put distance between them and Jiao S. Pulling back Piercer, I reached for the bow on my back with my right hand.
As Huan Qing retreated, the air on either side of Jiao S turned into rotating vortexes, a bit like two rivers flowing.
The air continued to spin, but the air needles I'd seen previously didn't appear. Huan Qing gradually retreated and Jiao S watched him, her expression provoked, callous. "Even if you are the greatest illusionist in the history of the Southern District, you cannot guarantee that you will win against all of us. So, come on then. Tell me what you saw."
As she spoke, I seemed to see a sliver of murderous intent in her expression. Perhaps I'd seen wrong, but it was a look that I'd never before seen on her face.
Huan Qing's eyes suddenly turned turned misty white, as if a storm were roaring inside them. And then he gave an indistinct laugh before coldly saying, "Do you really think I'm afraid of you? If anyone were to frighten me, it would be him..." Huan Qing glanced over in our direction, but it wasn't clear who he'd motioned at.
A sharp crack echoed. I turned to Jiao S in surprise, and saw the air condense around her, as if it were water, forming a smooth, mirror-like barrier. But at the same time that it condensed, it also started to fragment into pieces. Wind billowed and flowed out, surrounding Jiao S with countless vortexes.
The vortexes were gaining momentum, and her chilling voice sounded again, "I'm going to ask one last time. What did you see?!"
Suddenly, Guan Nie covered his mouth and laughed. He lifted his arm and gently tapped on Jiao S' shoulder. "Jiao S, forget it. Your Flowing Needles won't be able to affect him becase this is only an illusion before us!"
Jiao S started. Without questioning illusionist Guan Nie's words, she withdrew her whirlwinds and stepped back. The wind vortexes suddenly turned to mist before disappearing. And indeed, Huan Qing and Mi Fu's figures started to turn hazy.
Then I heard Huan Qing's cold laugh. "Jiao S, I've seen everything that you're afraid I've seen. What, you hadn't even expected this much when you decided to come to the Southern District?"
Jiao S' eyes widened, and in her eyes was an anger that I'd never seen. But, she didn't say a word. She simply stared into the space where Huan Qing and Mi Fu's bodies were disappearing into thin air. And until they completely vanished, she didn't move an inch.
Song Lu couldn't help asking quietly, "How could that have been an illusion? Illusions can injure people as well?" She pointed to the injured Ku Fei.
I quickly turned to him. Jie Pa had taken advantage of the confusion to hurry over and help the injured boy. Ku Fei was enduring the pain as Jie Pa applied medicine to his back.
Guan Nie laughed. "At first, it wasn't an illusion. But later, he used another form of sorcery to replace his body with an illusion."
"When did we enter an illusion? Why didn't you stop it from happening?" Jiao S turned and glared at him.
Guan Nie's eyes flickered. "I only realized after the fact. It probably happened when I walked ahead to speak with them..."
I couldn't help admiring him. He'd discerned early on that something wasn't right, so he'd left an escape route?
"No." Nie Zun's charming voice suddenly rang in my ears. With an enchanting laugh, he said, "It was before even then."
"Oh? Then, when did it start?" Guan Nie's eyes burned even brighter. For some reason, it made me uneasy.
Nie Zun mischievously batted his lashes at Guan Nie. "I was just kidding. How would I possibly know when the illusion started."
A line of crows flew past my head...
Were you guys sent by god to deescalate this scene or just to add humor?
"This girl is truly vicious." Jie Pa suddenly frowned as he walked over from behind Ku Fei. "What animosity does this girl hold for you that she went to the extent of attacking you with a weapon coated in such a vicious poison?" Jie Pa asked, adjusting his glasses.
Ku Fei's pain seemed to have decreased slightly. He did his best to smile brightly at us. "It's nothing. Thank you, everyone. I am just an ordinary person, so I have nothing to give you in return. As you've come all the way to the Southern District, you must have your own business to attend to. I won't waste anymore of your time. Please, come again, and I will present you with the best tea."
Come again? Was he kicking us out?
But Ku Fei didn't look like the kind of person to forget those who have treated him kindly. I suspected that he may have had something he wanted to hide though. As I was about to ask, Nie Zun suddenly grabbed my hand.
He walked in front of me and pat Ku Fei's shoulder. "Then, friend, take care of your injuries. Although I don't know what medicine he applied, Jie Pa is very good with treating things and the like. I'm sure that you will not suffer greatly now that he's applied that medicine. We'll take our leave now."
Nie Zun motioned for us to exit the shop. Seeing Nie Zun this way, I turned to Jiao S and nodded. With her lifeless gaze, she looked over Ku Fei again, but she didn't say a word. Then, in an orderly fashion, we left the shop.
Guan Nie v Huan Qing. So, Guan Nie lost, right? Also, Nie Zun's super suspicious. He obviously knows more than he's letting on.