Volume 2 Chapter 7: Great Battle at the Imperial Palace
Although Chen Nan didn’t receive a definite answer, the nature of the matter already improved. Now that his ‘value’ was about the same as that of the Sima Family, the emperor was forced to keep him close and wouldn’t easily offend him.
After he left the imperial palace, his mood was much happier than before.
Upon arriving at the new Residence of Eccentrics, he instantly saw the two blood-red eyes of the Old Poison Devil. The old man was staring ferociously at him like a wolf.
Chen Nan grew cold. He turned around to flee.
“You goddamn boy, stand still for me. You destroyed the Residence of Eccentrics and scared away all of my darlings… I need to poison you ten thousand times!
“Take this! Decaying Corpse Poison, Red-Crowned Crane Skull Extract, Heartbroken Grass… Bone-Transforming Pellets, Seven Step Soul Breaking Powder~!” With trembling hands, the Old Poison Devil threw a bunch of poison at Chen Nan. Every bag of poisonous powder burst near his body, enveloping his whole body in a vast fog of poison.
Chen Nan loudly cried out, “Perverted old man, are you playing seriously? Hurry and give me the antidote, I can’t—” Right when he opened his mouth, the poisonous air was vacuumed into his mouth and nostrils. He sensed himself grow groggy.
“I’ve said before, I need to poison you ten thousand times! Die, then I’ll resurrect you; live, so I can poison you to death again!”
Chen Nan didn’t dare open his mouth to speak. With all his strength, he put his ancestral profound skill to use. Specks of golden light and a faint golden glow suffused from his body. A thin, golden halo emerged from the surface of his body, obstructing the poisonous fog from getting close. Simultaneously, he hurriedly circulated his inner vital qi over and over again throughout all of his blood vessels. He began to force the bit of poisonous fog that he had inhaled out of his body.
After seeing Chen Nan not collapse after so much time had passed, the Old Poison Devil began concocting more poisons with even greater toxicity. Twenty or so bags of poison simultaneously flew from his hands. The vapour even spread to the entrance of the Residence of Eccentrics. The warriors standing guard were so frightened, they avoided it from a great distance.
The news of this event attracted many eccentrics to come watch. When two people accidentally breathed in the diffusing poisonous gas and collapsed on the spot, the Old Poison Devil threw them several bags of antidote, allowing the two of them to free themselves from the verge of death.
The majority of these eccentrics were practitioners with profound cultivation. With one glance, they could see that Chen Nan had already successfully obstructed the poisonous gas from coming close to his body. They were deeply shocked by his consummate skill.
Step by step, Chen Nan penetrated through the area of poisonous fog and walked towards the Old Poison Devil.
“Perverted old man, are you finished yet? Do you want to keep playing?” With that said, he clenched his fists, deliberately cracking his knuckles loudly.
The Old Poison Devil’s expression drastically changed. He ultimately wailed, “It doesn’t make any sense! Just a few days ago, you looked like he couldn’t even resist the wind. Now you’ve unexpectedly become abnormally strong, even unafraid of poison. I’ll poison you, I’ll keep poisoning you… I’ll poison you ten thousand times!”
Bag after bag of poisonous powder once again exploded in Chen Nan’s vicinity again. The eccentrics watching all retreated.
Chen Nan never expected that after his ancestral profound skill had entered the third Chongtian, he’d actually be capable of resisting poison. This accidental discovery left him pleasantly surprised. He once again made his way through the area of the poisonous fog and gave the Old Poison Devil a toothy grin. With his right hand, he pointed underneath the old man’s foot. Sword qi shot out from his finger and pierced the marble underneath the Old Poison Devil’s foot.
The Old Poison Devil jumped back in fear, quickly retreating.
Many of the distant eccentric onlookers were martial artists with profound cultivation. After they saw that luminous sword qi, they all looked utterly astounded. They were incapable of conceiving that this young junior was actually a third ranked martial artist who had attained the level of Sword Qi Beyond the Body. He wasn’t any bit inferior to those practitioners who were already decades of years old.
Sima Lingkong’s eyes emitted a jealous, resentful light. He clenched his fists, wanting to immediately rush up and beat that formally incomparably ordinary guy.
“Goddamn boy, don’t come over here…” The Old Poison Devil continuously stepped back.
Chen Nan advanced forward and grabbed onto his arm. “Perverted old man, do you still want to play?
Seeing the dimly glowing golden halo surrounding Chen Nan’s body, the old man promptly shook his head and said, “Not playing anymore. How can I have such bad luck? All my neighbours are competing with each other in being abnormal, competing with each other in being crazy…”
Chen Nan said with a low voice, “Don’t complain, I have something to give you. You’ll certainly be happy.”
With a crestfallen and forlorn look, The Old Poison Devil said, “What lousy thing? I’m not interested in martial arts; as long as I have the skill to defend myself, I’m content.”
“What?!” The Old Poison Devil shouted, “Really?”
“Of course really. I originally wanted to give them to you when I left the Residence of Eccentrics, but seeing your look as if you wanted to eat me, I’d better give it to you as soon as possible.”
The Old Poison Devil grabbed Chen Nan and ran back to his courtyard. After closing the courtyard gate firmly, he impatiently asked, “Where are the Poison Scriptures?”
From his bosom, Chen Nan fished out a scroll of creased, coarse paper. “Here, for you.”
All of the sudden, the Old Poison Devil jumped up into the air and said, “Goddamn disgraceful boy, you even made me happy for a second. Bringing some straw paper to deceive me…”
Chen Nan placed that paper into the old man’s hands. “Whether or not you believe is your prerogative.”
With a suspicious look, the Old Poison Devil unrolled the paper scroll and examined it slowly. The more he read, the more excited be became. Finally, he couldn’t help but yell out, “They’re really the Poison Scriptures! This is great!” He quickly turned the pages of the paper. When he reached the final page, he cried out, “Why does it seem like there’s a few pages missing?”
Chen Nan scratched his head. “Last time I went to the toilet, I think I used three pages.”
“You…” The Old Poison Devil basically vomited blood immediately upon hearing those words. He pointed at Chen Nan and said, “You… actually used the Poison Scriptures as toilet paper? My God! Sacred poison ancestors, poison this boy ten thousand times to death!”
“Perverted old man, are you sure you’re not making a mistake? It was I who gave the Poison Scriptures to you, yet you’re actually cursing me like this…”
With a bitter face, the old man said, “Who made you ‘vandalize’ the last three pages of the Poison Scriptures? Do you still remember the content written on those pages?”
“En, they left a little impression on me. I suppose if I were to go to the toilet again, I’d remember it all.”
“You…” The Old Poison Devil looked like he had died from anger.
“Perverted old man, look at the bitter look on your face. In truth, the last three pages didn’t have much content, so listen carefully…”
The Old Poison Devil was jubilant upon hearing this surprising news. With full attention, he memorized everything Chen Nan said.
“Alright, remember it all. When the time comes, don’t coming looking for me on the toilet to ask me again.”
The Old Poison Devil scowled. “You disgraceful boy, how the hell did you obtain this book? Was it during those days you were at the imperial library room of ancient texts? Is that where you found it?”
“I don’t know how to thank you. To me, this book is truly incredibly significant. En, I’ll write off how you scared away all of my darlings then.”
“Aren’t you a bit too petty?”
The Old Poison Devil said, “Just now I heard you say you originally planned to give these Poison Scriptures to me when you leave. Don’t tell me you want to leave?”
Chen Nan said, “In the Residence of Eccentrics, the only person I am friendly with is you, and the only person I trust is you, so I didn’t want to force you into keeping my secret. Sooner or later, I’ll be leaving. Please keep this a secret.”
The Old Poison Devil nodded. “I already knew you’d be leaving. Will you be waiting until after you marry cool water before leaving? After you leave, you mustn’t forget about my old self.”
“You damn perverted old man. Don’t worry, every time I go to the toilet, I’ll always think of you…” Chen Nan laughed as he took great strides away.
Three days later, the sixtieth birthday of Chu Han, the Emperor of Chu, was ceremoniously held at the imperial palace. Civil and military officials already went to congratulate him. The rare, precious objects (the presents) were stacked up like a mountain. Naturally, the most dazzling present was the Little Princess’s sparkling petal from the radiant Blazing Inferno Immortal Lotus. Its sweet fragrance seeped deeply into everyone’s hearts.
In the splendidly golden and jade main hall of the imperial palace, songs were being sung and dances were being danced in celebration of the peace and prosperity of the country. Along with the melodious playing of string and wind instruments, all the officials sung the emperor’s praises. Words of praise could constantly be heard. After Chu Han received all of his subjects’ respectful congratulations, he ordered the feast to begin. In a short while, the hall was filled with drinking and gambling intermixed. The fragrance of wine flooded everyone’s nostrils.
Although not all the presents sent by everyone from the Residence of Eccentrics were rare objects, they were still classified as special guests; their arranged seating was not too far away from the emperor. They were of equal footing with the major court officials. Everyone toasted one another. The strong smell of alcoholic was unmistakable.
The great hall was filled with festive activities. There was endless singing and dancing and music drifted in the air. The ruler and his ministers drank and chatted joyfully.
After three rounds of wine and five flavours of dishes, the matter that everyone had been anticipating finally arrived. One person stood up from the banquet, bowed to Chu Han, and said, “Your Majesty Emperor Chu, do you not reckon this singing and dancing to be too weak? The Great Chu is grand; its territory stretches countless li. The founding emperor used military force to begin this empire. Could it be that after the younger generation of royalty idly sat and defended their ten thousand li of rivers and mountains, they only know how to enjoy decadent music?”
These words could be said to be utmost rude. Every single court minister’s face changed colour. They all angrily denounced these words in succession.
“You are the envoy from the vassal state of Tianyang? You’re rather brave. How rudely brazen!”
“Little State of Tianyang’s envoy, to actually rudely talk to your ruling empire’s emperor like this, do you wish to revolt?”
“Audacious! Is your State of Tianyang planning to conspire against the law?”
The envoy from the State of Tianyang was neither nervous nor hurried. “Small official truly never intended to offend the emperor. I simply wish to invite His Imperial Majesty to enjoy some demonstrations from agile and brave martial artists.”
The Emperor of Chu laughed. “Good, I have heard a few days earlier that the State of Tianyang is flush with experts. Although their territory is small, their population of exceptional experts is no less than that of a major power. Today, please allow us to expand our horizons.”
With a gesture from Chu Han, the female singers, dancers, and musicians all withdrew.
In a moment, three people entered the hall from outside. Each of the three appeared to be about twenty years old. Every one of them had incomparably tall, lofty builds. Muscles rippled down their bodies like dragons. They were brimming with explosive power.
The three of them bowed to Chu Han. One of them said, “We wish to spar in martial arts. There is no meaning behind this; we merely wish to invite the young heroes from the Empire of Chu to exchange pointers.”
One of the ministers from the Empire of Chu said, “Are you publicly challenging us? Do you desire to compete with one of my Great Chu’s heroes?”
One of the three said, “If your distinguished self considers it to be like this, then we mustn’t.”
At this time, the Eldest Princess Chu Yue began to speak: “If you wish to experience the talent of our Empire of Chu’s youthful practitioners, I can give you a worthy answer. We accept your challenge.”
The three people were delighted.
“The three of us are dragon riders. We possess our own dragons, so it’s not possible to compete within this imperial hall.”
Just then, Chu Han replied, “Then we can go to the imperial palace’s martial arts practice arena. I did not expect my birthday to be this marvelous. To actually be able to view a dragon rider compete with someone, hehe…” Chu Han carried a faint smile on his face, as if he could already see those three dragon riders suffering a crushing defeat. Indeed, with Chen Nan who was capable of drawing back Houyi Bow, he wasn’t one bit anxious.
However, the happiest person present was actually the Little Princess. She was the first to jump up. “Great! At last, I can finally see some stupid dragons fly and fight in the sky, hehe!”
All the court ministers heard this and looked at each other in dismay.
The empress got a hold of the princess and flicked her forehead, saying, “You little mischievous girl, you really are only fearful of the world lacking chaos! You…!”
The princess gleefully giggled.
The civil and military officials accompanied the emperor to the imperial palace’s practice arena. Chu Han sat at the center of a viewing terrace. The empress sat beside him. At either side of the two were the several princes and the two princesses. All the ministers sat at a lower platform below.
One of the three dragon riders walked to the center of the arena. He faced the sky and let out a long cry. His voice seemed to surge like lightning as it shot into the distance. Shortly, a black dot appeared in the distant sky. As the black dot grew larger and larger, a six or seven zhang long Flying Dragon arrived overhead the practice arena. It endlessly circled around in the sky.
The dragon rider gestured towards the sky. The Flying Dragon directly descended, landing at his side. With its descent, a fierce wind erupted, causing several civil officials to cry out fearfully.
The dragon rider quickly leapt on top of the dragon’s back. He said to everyone watching, “Before we begin, there is something I must first explain. The three of us cannot continuously keep battling. Therefore, the Empire of Chu can only select a few delegates; at most, nine. Each one of us can receive three opponents, but each battle must be one-on-one.”
This dragon rider was awfully conceited. His words implied that three heroes from the Empire of Chu could not even rival a single dragon rider from the State of Tianyang. Immediately, many angry rebukes arose from the crowd.
All the members of the Residence of Eccentrics sat together. The Old Poison Devil quietly said, “He’s wild enough, but he has the ability to act wild.” He turned his head and said to Chen Nan, “Do you understand? Although the State of Tianyang is small, it has numerous practitioners. The number of profound practitioners from their nation is no fewer than our Empire of Chu. Because of this, the experts originating from this state absolutely cannot be underestimated.”
Chen Nan nodded. He long since sensed the formidable power emanating from the three of them. All of them had already reached the level of second ranked practitioners. But among the three of them, the one who had not said a word was the one who he took particular note of. He sensed that person was on the verge of becoming a third ranked practitioner. He was a genuine powerful opponent.
Chu Yue said, “Nine people are not necessary; three is enough.” She turned her head, faced all the onlookers, and asked, “Who wishes to have a taste of these three dragon riders?”
The young experts in the army successively stood up, wishing to battle the dragon riders.
As for the eccentrics of the Residence of Eccentrics, not many volunteered themselves. Few of them were young enough to participate.
The candidates were chosen; all were members of the Residence of Eccentrics. The first candidate was a young Intermediate Magus. His strength was already of the level of a second ranked practitioner. The second candidate was Sima Lingkong. His injured Flying Dragon had already received treatment from the Old Witch’s holy light. The third candidate was Chen Nan. He never volunteered himself; the Eldest Princess had selected him.
The magus was the first to take part in battle. He lightly hovered from the viewing platform over to the center of the arena.
The dragon rider laughed. “Magi are few in number; they’re not something you see every day. I didn’t expect to be fortunate enough to battle with a magus of the second rank today. I’m truly honoured!”
The magus said, “Well said, but dragon riders are an even rarer species. It’s truly strange to be able to suddenly see three dragons today!”
The dragon rider coldly laughed, “Heihei, it appears that dragon riders are a magus’s nemesis. Today, you’ll definitely die!”
The magus laughed. “Beat me? Keep talking bullshit.”
The two of them mutually faced each other with needles and spears1. Their mouths were ruthless.
The dragon rider gripped a Dragon Slaughtering Lance. Patting his dragon’s head, the Flying Dragon soared into the sky.
“Weak magus, make your move.”
The magus wielded a magic wand. Softly casting aloud a spell, the magic wand scattered. Like a bolt of lightning, it streaked towards the dragon rider. The intense electric current’s ‘bilipala’ crackling incessantly sounded.
The Flying Dragon didn’t wait for its master’s command as it quickly dodged to the side in a flash. The entire lightning bolt streaked into the ground, gouging a deep, sizeable crater.
The Flying Dragon brought about a fierce wind as it surged towards the magus. The magus swiftly drifted into the sky. With another brandish of his magic wand, ten spears of ice appeared. With an ear-splitting roar, they pierced towards the sky. Twinkling with a thick, cold light, they shot towards the dragon rider.
The dragon rider already didn’t have ample time to dodge. With the Dragon Slaughtering Lance, scarlet battle qi was emitted from the lance’s point and shot towards the ice spears, shattering each and every one. They all dropped to the ground. Subsequently, he urged his Flying Dragon to once again ram the magus. At the same time, the Dragon Slaughtering Lance trembled. Like the blade of a sword, battle qi shot towards the magus with a ‘chichi’.
The magus immediately evaded while simultaneously incanting a spell. He produced a light blue magical screen to protect himself. But the dragon rider’s battle qi was abnormally powerful. As if it possessed unstoppable power, several cracks streaked across the magical screen, causing the magus to cry out fearfully.
The dragon rider laughed out loud. “I told you, didn’t I? Dragon riders are a magus’s nemesis. You’re dead.” The Flying Dragon continued to pursue and attack the magus in the sky.
A sneer appeared at the edge of the magus’s mouth. The instant the magical screen disintegrated, he lightly brandished his magic wand. A vast blade of wind coldly flickered like ice as it shot towards the Flying Dragon. Following closely behind it was a tremendous bolt of lightning. The air was filled with violent waves of magical energy.
The dragon rider’s expression took a turn. In a hurry, a dazzling, powerful light erupted from his body. Scarlet battle qi obstructed the blade of wind and the bolt of lightning, but it only endured for a short moment. The battle qi’s brilliance gradually dimmed.
The court officials from the Empire of Chu successively showed cheerful expressions, but the eccentrics with profound cultivation from the Residence of Eccentrics didn’t look the least bit happy.
This was the first time Chen Nan witnessed a fight between a dragon rider and a magus. He found this type of battle in the sky to be rather novel. He inwardly thought, “What level do martial artists have to reach before they are capable of using their own power to fly?”
Suddenly, the situation in the sky took a turn. The clothes on the dragon rider’s body suddenly blew apart. Every strand of his long hair was erect. Like raging flames, scarlet battle qi raged out from his body.
“Weak magus, die!”
Scarlet battle qi shielded the dragon rider and his Flying Dragon as they rushed forward. Every single blade of wind slid off to the sides. The energy remaining in the bolt of lightning was also currently being diminished. With another ‘bilipala’ crackle, it vanished.
The magus was utterly stunned. He already didn’t have enough time to dodge. He hurried to cast another magical screen, but under the dragon rider’s powerful attack, it was no use. It shattered in the blink of an eye. The magus was rammed by the Flying Dragon’s gigantic body. With a miserable shriek, he fell head first to the ground. A splattering of his blood remained in the air.
All the onlookers cried out in surprise. The medical staff hastily ran to the arena. After a careful examination, they found the magus’s sternum completely shattered. He was already dead.
The dragon rider let out a long cry to the sky. His Flying Dragon followed suit with a howl and a triumphant flip in the sky, although the maneuver didn’t look too mighty.
1 針鋒相對/mutually face each other with needles and spears; meaning ‘oppose each other with equal harshness’.