Li Chengfeng was indeed at his limit. Ignoring the sharp stones on the lake shores, he collapsed on the ground, panting heavily. Repeat climbing and falling had used up all his energy. Green veins popped out of his muscles, which were trembling.
He looked up towards the top of the cliffs unwillingly. Su Yuehan sat carefully next to him. “Madam and Master are alright.”
His eyes darted at her. “How do you know what I was thinking about?”
“We were attacked, then fell from the top. While they must also be worried about you, you have repeatedly tried to climb up without regard to your own safety. Doesn’t that mean you’re also worried about them?”
He heaved a long sigh, worried. “Yeah, I don’t know if they’re… safe.”
She pressed two of her palms together. “Madam is a kind person, she will be paid with kindness. Also, the other master was there to help us.”
“I think so to…” He sighed. “But I’m still so anxious.”
“Young Master, there is a saying from my home: an anxious heart cannot embroider a peony. Us worrying will not help them. Plus with the Martial Saint there, nothing will happen.”
Li Chengfeng paused, looking at her suspiciously. “How did you know he’s the Martial Saint, Zhang Zaijun?”
Su Yuehan’s heart skipped a beat but her face did not change. “I guessed it! Think about it! There is only one person who can fight against such a terrifying beast!”
Li Chengfeng stared at her, then suddenly asked, “How are you related to the Su family of Wuzhou?”
In shock, she stared at him with widened eyes, a secret hidden deep in her heart unexpectedly dug out.
He was very satisfied with her response. “The immortal phoenix flies above the quiet waters; the shy moon shines upon the whispering flowers. Nought for the three thousand guests, no one would have known Wuzhou. Su Yuehan… a good name indeed.”
[T/L Note: Yuehan 月涵 roughly translates to shy/delicate moon]
Su Yuehan was surprised. “You’re very well-read, guessing my history with just my name. I’m impressed! That’s a lot more difficult than me guessing Martial Saint’s identity.”
“The Wuzhou textiles businessman, Su Bingchun, was dragged into a conflict between the prince and the fourth duke, causing him to be exiled. His wife and family members were subsequently kicked out…”
Su Yuehan stared blankly, as if reminiscing.
Li Chengfeng said, “But it’s been… a hundred years since that incident.”
Her heart skipped a beat as she pretended to wipe her tears to cover her face. “Young Master, my family was sent to the Da’an County of the northwest, settling there. When I was born, my family fell apart due to the war. I had been homeless since, then was caught by the smugglers and thank goodness Madam bought me and at least I’ve got a good life now.”
Li Chengfeng was puzzled. “War? Daqi has been at peace for more than a century, what do you mean?”
She shook her head. “Young Master, you may not know of this but only the northern, southern and eastern Daqi regions are at peace. The western region has been in chaos for many years.”
“The emperor had already declared the national vision of peace and prosperity, could it be the Zhan family of the northwest rebelled and started to provoke war?”
“No, it is due to the magical race growing increasingly active these years. Magical beasts and d-demons slip into this realm almost every month, that is why…”
Li Chengfeng was surprised to hear this, his fists clenching lightly. The Zhan family had been living in such tough, chaotic circumstances all these years while the rest of the empire snoozed away peacefully. It was no wonder the Zhan family grew so tough and powerful!
He felt a huge force pressing against him, filling himself with strength again. He leapt up and prepared to climb again.
“Young Master, you’re going to climb again?”
He shook his head. “I’m going to look for another path out. There must be a way.”
She was about to speak but something startled her as she yelled, “Young Master! Be careful!”
He looked up to see a gigantic shadow descending from the sky, charging straight at his head.
When he saw the giant, he immediately took a deep breath and dove into the lake. However, the shadow still eventually slammed into him, forcing him down deeper into the water.
Li Chengfeng struggled to turn underwater to realise the shadow was the Grim Stork!
However, it was no longer as intimidating as before. One of its skeletal wings was broken, bright green blood flowing from the wound. The other wing looked like an awkwardly twisted spear diagonally stabbed into its torso.
Its body was riddled with cuts and bones protruding from beneath the flesh. As it entered the water, its green blood dyed the entire lake green.
Li Chengfeng was exceptionally angry to see it once again, as if he had bumped into his arch-nemesis. He turned and grabbed what was left of the Grim Stork’s wings, then tugged as hard as he could.
While it was heavily injured, it was still a ferocious magical beast. It struggled hard from the pain, its body sinking fast. However, the lake was not too deep so its four limbs soon stabilised themselves on the lake bed.
It sprung up like a cannonball shooting out of the water. Li Chengfeng could not react in time and was shrugged off. However, due to the momentum, the wing bone he grasped on to was also yanked out.
The Grim Stork wailed in agony, green blood spraying across the lake shores. It reeked.
Su Yuehan quickly rushed towards Li Chengfeng. “Young Master, are you alright?”
He landed unto the shore and quickly scrambled to get up. He then finally noticed the bloody bone he was holding.
This bone was about two metres long, attached to another thick and straight base bone of approximately one metre long. He took a look at it, then smashed the bone on a boulder by a lake until all the minor, thinner bones attached at the end of the basal bone had fallen off. Only the thick basal bone remained, resembling a short spear.
One hand holding the bone spear, he faced the Grim Stork sideways with the end of the bone close to his hip. One hand formed a backhanded grip at the middle of the spear while the other palm supported the base. The tip of the bone spear was pointed at the Grim Stork, now still howling in pain. This stance was a technique from the Cleansing Moon’s spear arts: Full Moon Spear Technique!
Su Yuehan ran up to him but he glared and yelled sternly, “Get away!”
She privately cursed him. She did not think he could kill it at all, although it looked like it could die any moment soon.
Fighting an animal at death’s door was a dangerous thing to do. The Grim Stork’s last strike of its life would definitely be extra vicious. One wrong step and Li Chengfeng would die.