60 The Worst Battle
The split lip that was decorated with dried blood twitched began singing a sharp tune, “Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~” The bizarre sound seemed to have a sort of melody to it but the unusually piercing tune became increasingly intense, spreading through the air.
I couldn’t help covering my ears at the sound. As I brought my hands to my ears, I saw Jie Pa growing unstable; judging by the change in expression, his enchantment doesn’t seem to be holding up either. A loud thump sounded. While it wasn’t clear exactly what had shattered, Li Wen’s body was beginning to heal again.
Li Wen, now fully healed, was still drenched in fresh blood. The ruthlessness of scarlet red bloodstains, stark against her tender and affectionate gaze, was contrasting but alluring in its own way, exuding an almost blinding charm. The smile she wore was a mix of both cruelty and warmth as she slowly got to her feet. Jiao S who had landed behind her, made haste to retreat back to her own piece of rock, clearly sensing the danger in our current situation.
Li Wen straightened up with a smile, then continued with the piercing tune. “Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~” The strange melody seemed to be infused with MF, causing a stabbing pain to spread from my eardrum all the way to the heart.
Jie Pa was the first to cover his ears and crouch. The storm brewed in Jiao S’ eyes and her brows were knitted together. Nie Zun, on the other hand, was bent at his waist supporting Jie Pa but maintained his gaze on me.
“… Ci~ Ah~”
The horrifying tune was intensifying; my heart felt like there was a needle stabbing at it relentlessly. Between my eardrum and my heart, it was as though a piece of rope was tugging hard. Following the melody’s growing ferocity, the rope was likewise getting tighter, threatening to snap at any moment. I gritted my teeth; the tune was too much to bear and I was slowly reaching my limits. With both hands, I cupped them tightly around my ears.
Li Wen remained at the same spot, her smile still tender yet merciless when suddenly she widened her mouth and began singing even louder.
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
“Ah—!” I couldn’t help crying out at the profound shot through the heart, the gnawing pain made me hunch over. The last image engraved in my mind was of Nie Zun and Jiao S, both crouched over in agony, neither of whom was able to endure this strange melody.
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
I attempted a step forward but even the slightest movement seemed to tear my heart into shreds. Quickly realizing that covering my ears did nothing to stop the piercing tune’s effect, I let my hands fall from my ears and tried going for my bow again. The moment I shifted my hands, I felt the prickling, sharp pain in my ears.
Both my inner ears seemed to have erupted in fresh blood. My head was buzzing and even my sight started to blur.
The sharp tune was still getting stronger and I finally reached my breaking point. Falling to my knees, a mouthful of fresh blood escaped my lips and I struggled to look towards Nie Zun. He had both hands wrapped around Jie Pa’s ears and seemed to be exhausting his MF in order to protect the other man from harm. Perhaps that was why, even when Jie Pa looked miserable, he wasn’t bleeding from any of the seven openings in his head. It was a relief to see Jie Pa, who no longer could heal like us, almost unscathed.
(T/N: Seven openings include 2 for the eyes, 2 for the ears, 2 for the nostrils and 1 for the mouth)
Nie Zun wasn’t as lucky; both his eyes and ears were spilling with blood but he was still unruffled, as though the liquid oozing out of his eyes wasn’t actually blood but mere eye drops. He was looking at me and as my eyes were continued dripping with blood, it left my vision clouded in bright red. I was beginning to lose sight of his gaze.
Turning around, I looked towards Jiao S who mirrored my position on the ground. It seemed that the melody was prohibiting her from controlling the airflow––in a vicious repetition, her eyes would fog up with mist before it cleared again. Streams of blood slowly flowed from both her mouth and ears as well.
The excruciating pain worsened and spread itself all over my head and heart. After a few failed attempts at raising my hand with intention of wiping the blood from my eyes, I gave up and laid semi-paralyzed upon the rock.
Li Wen maintained her elegant smile, the corner of her lips covered in blood as she continued singing.
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
“Yi~ Ah~ Ci~ Ah~ Yi~!”
The sky of the illusion seemed to tremble with a rumbling start, and the roaring waves of the ocean seemed to gradually subside into tinier swells.
“Guan… Guan Nie…” Jiao S wanted to call out to him but she couldn’t contend with the destructive singing––a spurt of blood sprayed from her mouth instead.
Li Wen stopped her singing at that, smirking at Jiao S who was now lying prostrate on another rock. “This Demonic Tune can cut through an illusion and into Guan Nie’s ears. No matter where he’s hiding now, he would have issues taking care of himself. Are you still counting on him to save you?”
“Li—Li… ugh…” I pressed a hand to my chest and hurled another mouthful of blood. “Li… Li Wen, why are you…”
Li We turned her focus to me. “Li Shen, I’ve already told you this. You won’t be able to protect any of them. Give Song Lu to me.”
Distracted by her conversation with me, Nie Zun took advantage of the short period of pause; with his attention focused on the piece of rock beneath Li Wen’s feet, he winked his left eye lightly. Even as more blood dribbled from his eye from that small action, he remained quiet and calm.
Li Wen staggered as the rock under her feet promptly exploded into innumerable fragments. She was quick in stabilizing herself. With a touch of her plain shoes, she floated in the air once more and the fragments of rock sank slowly into the sea.
While she was caught up in her moment of shock, I lifted my bow and shot two arrows towards her eyes without hesitation. When she looked back, the set of double arrows flew from my bow and whizzed into her eyes.
Blood squirted from them but she seem unfazed, the corner of her lips still sported that same smile. “Li Shen, you really haven’t changed that preference for shooting other people’s eyes.” When she said this, she reached up to pluck out the arrows.
Laying on the ground, Jiao S whipped her head up and clenched her teeth. The storm in her eyes was back as she stared intently at Li Wen.
The two columns of airstream appeared out of nowhere and pushed against the two arrows still in Li Wen’s eyes, instantly plunging them through her head. Li Wen stumbled backwards in the air, her mouth grew rigid from the pain caused. The shattered sky and calm sea from before started shaking once more. This time from the wrath of Guan Nie.
Boom, boom, boom!
A colossal wave arose from behind Li Wen.
Li Wen tilted her head as though she sensed the changes to the surface of the sea. She bit her lip, angered. Without a care for the arrows in her eyes, she parted her lips and practically screamed out the tune. With her increased volume, I collapsed against the rock at the very first note of the Demonic Tune, unable to resist the damage it caused and began heaving huge mouthfuls of blood.
Rumble… Bang, bang bang!
Like the image of towns and markets of an oasis during an earthquake, the illusion began disintegrating with a crashing sound. It was as if we were in a stereoscopic mirror before. As our surroundings became fragmented and the sea gradually disappeared, the scenery of the boundary forest was revealed once again.
I continued expelling mouthful after mouthful of blood, glancing up from my position on the ground. Enshrouded among the bloodied rays of light, I reaffirmed that we were back into the forest. Guan Nie was sitting atop a tree not far away, his cascading white hair stained with his own blood.
There was a trailing bloodstain by the corner of his lips, his eyes flashing a cold glint of viciousness. He had a hand to his chest and another supporting his weight against the tree trunk. The others were the same as me, spewing blood onto the ground in misery. Nie Zun’s hands never left Jie Pa; even when Jie Pa was likewise puking mouthful of blood, his other features seemed unmarked.
Li Wen floated in the air, tossing the two arrows she had just yanked from her eyes onto the ground. She looked towards Guan Nie, “Your MF is strong enough indeed. Even my Demonic Tune couldn’t make you fall?”
Guan Nie let out a sardonic laugh. The bloodstain along his lips seemed to be dripping with fresh blood again. “MF? No one here has a weak MF but none of us could have prepared against something we’ve never seen before. Did you really think you’re all that capable?”
Sprawled on the ground, I grinded my teeth. Why isn’t my MF sufficient enough to turn myself invisible? Is it because my split symbol hasn’t been activated?
Li Wen raised the sleeve to her yellow dress and wiped her mouth gently. “Come on, Guan Nie. I’m not capable? I have yet to activate my split symbol and yet, the Demonic Tune was already enough to reduce all of you to this state. Do you still think I won’t be able to handle the few of you on my own?”
Guan Nie’s stiffened at her words.
Jiao S scoffed from her position on the ground. “If I hadn’t promised Si Luo about not using that particular skill, do you really think you could still be standing this obnoxiously in front of us?”
Li Wen smiled. “Jiao S, you still wouldn’t be able to deal any real damage to me. Ah, all of you.”
At that, she whirled around towards Nie Zun who still had his hands around Jie Pa’s ears as a precaution. “Nie Zun, that ability just now… was that a form of force, a skill controlled by the pupils?”
There was still a track of blood from when it flowed from his eyes earlier, as with the corner of his lips. When Li Wen called his name, his indifferent eyes swept a fleeting glance at her but he did not answer. Seeing as Nie Zun bore no intention of responding to her, Li Wen laughed scornfully but did not attempt to force a reply.
Instead, she turned gracefully around and the slender sword appeared in her hand again, casting it towards Jiao S. The action came so unexpectedly that even Jiao S had no time to react before she let out a hiss. Just like that, the slender sword was thrusted into Jiao S’ back.
Jiao S spewed a gush of blood, furrowed her brows and glared. Just as she seemed to move towards tugging the sword from her back, shock filled her eyes.
“Stop using your MF. Do you really think you won’t exhaust your MF once you’ve activated your split symbol? The layers of protective barriers you cast over them in the illusion used up an extensive amount of natural elements, and now you won’t be able to regain your MF for a period of time. You’ll need time… but this Parting Sword of mine will absorb your MF and restrict such behavior!”
Following her words, as though the stealth enchantment had lost effectiveness, two other people appeared from thin air and fell to the ground; they were the still unconscious Song Lu and Huan Qing!
Li Wen spared a glance at the two who lay motionless on the ground, then smiled. “See, your MF isn’t even enough to support that airflow dimension of yours anymore.”
Jiao S clenched her teeth tightly, a deep hatred evident in her eyes.