HSSB51: Dangers lurking all around
Zhao Sheng looked at Zhao Hao with an unfriendly expression on his face. Glancing at him, Zhao Hao just laughed as he shook his head.
As a Martial Scholar, by common logic, it should be obvious that Zhao Sheng should be able to take care of a mere Martial Artist like him as easily as blowing away dust.
However, within Zhao Hao’s gaze was no fear or caution whatsoever. On the contrary, he actually still seemed extremely calm.
And within that calmness, a few hints of his total disregard for Zhao Sheng could also be seen.
Yan Zhaoge’s eyes slightly blinked his eyes, “The way he looks at Zhao Sheng is no different from the way that he looks at me…”
“In his eyes, Zhao Sheng and I are on the same level?”
Yan Zhaoge laughed soundlessly.
Zhao Hao asked mildly, “What kind of forfeit does Third Brother want me to drink?”
Zhao Sheng snorted coldly, “Over this period of time, Sixteenth Brother’s cultivation has soared tremendously. Still, with that, your actual combat experience will naturally be somewhat lacking.”
“Third Brother has some people under me that are just suited to help you, Sixteenth Brother, train yourself up a little.”
“By accumulating more experience, we’ll make it such that you are not only able to take down people lying at the verge of death. Otherwise, if you meet up with a real tough nut to crack in the future, the one who would be unlucky would be you.”
The disdain within Zhao Hao’s eyes grew, as the way he looked at Zhao Sheng seemed to resemble the way an adult would look at an immature child messing about.
Not saying anything else, he directly unsheathed his sword, standing silently right where he stood, “Who wants to give me pointers?”
Other people still might not think of it as anything, but Yan Zhaoge’s perception far exceeded that of all the others here.
From Yan Zhaoge’s perspective, with that one sword in hand, the atmosphere around Zhao Hao had instantly changed.
More feral, unrestrained, penetrating; his edge was revealed!
His entire person resembled a sharp sword that had just left its sheath, raring to charge into the skies and slash the very heavens apart.
This was a force formed purely of his atmosphere alone; it was hard to explain in words, but it truly existed.
While currently, Zhao Hao was indeed still a Martial Artist, not having concealed the true power of his cultivation base, the atmosphere around him actually seemed to preside over the vast majority of people in this world.
It was as if even if a Martial Grandmaster stood before him, it would still be nothing worth mentioning at all.
Yan Zhaoge raised his brows, “Interesting, don’t tell me…”
While Zhao Sheng really wished that he could beat Zhao Hao till he was half-dead, he was, after all, already in the Martial Scholar realm, being more than ten years older that Zhao Hao.
Although Zhao Hao had not behaved respectfully or humbly at all, in front all these others, and with even Yan Zhaoge there as well, Zhao Sheng still suppressed his desire to go deal with Zhao Hao himself.
However, he naturally still didn’t intend to make things easy for him.
Zhao Hao was at the eight level of the Body Refinement realm, in the mid qi-directing stage. While the opponent Zhao Sheng chose for him was also similarly in the mid qi-directing stage, he had a fierce, aggressive air about him, obviously being someone who was already used to licking blood off the edge of his sword, an experienced person incomparably familiar with slaughter and death.
The killing air around his entire body was so thick that it was almost enough for all of his opponents who lacked combat experience to have their nerve broken, turning into lambs for the slaughter to be dealt with as he liked.
However, as easily as blowing dust, within a single round, he was defeated by Zhao Hao!
With a single slash of Zhao Hao’s sword, his entire arm flew directly into the sky!
The extent of his ferocity caused everyone to suck in a breath.
“What gall!” The livid Zhao Sheng waved his hand, and a late qi-directing stage swordsman stood out.
This swordsman was in the ninth level of the Body Refinement realm, in the late qi-directing stage, being not far away from the tenth and final stage as well.
Zhao Hao didn’t mind, as, brandishing his sword, he laughed, “It’s all the same.”
The result of the battle between the two once again totally stunned the spectating crowd.
The victor, was still Zhao Hao!
Zhao Hao laughed with a loud ‘ha’, “Will the next challenger be someone from the final stage of the Body Refinement realm, or will it be Third Brother yourself?”
Amidst his words, a cracking noise resounded from his body, as the faint boom of thunder could also be heard.
The sound of thunder had not come from outside; rather, it had originated from within Zhao Hao’s body.
Everyone was simultaneously startled, “Inner qi enters the bones; the sound of thunder cleanses the marrows? This is…breaking through to the late qi-directing stage, the first cleansing of the marrows within the bones?!”
At Yan Zhaoge’s side, Feng Yunsheng could not help but smile at this, as she gave Yan Zhaoge a look.
While she didn’t speak, she had obviously just remembered the earlier scene of Yan Zhaoge facing off against Xiao Shen.
Yan Zhaoge, however, didn’t smile, just watching Zhao Hao quietly.
“This person has not exerted his full strength; he did not release the killing techniques of the sword that he is the most proficient in.”
What Yan Zhaoge could see, was so much more than those around him, “In facing consecutive battles, swiftly obtaining victory in each one. In this, he relied on his knowledge and experience that far exceed that of his opponent, as well as his control of the sword within his hand.”
“Just like me, being able to use even a branch of bamboo as a sword, and similarly able to beat up those at the peak of the Body Refinement realm till their heads are all full of bumps even without having to draw on my aura-qi.”
“This person’s attainment in the Dao of the Sword is extremely high, being able to use a wooden or bamboo sword in place of an actual sword; even using his finger as a sword or the Swordless realm where a sword can be formed of pure qi should be nothing to him. It is only that he loves the sword too much, thus being even more unwilling to not have one on him. With a single sword in hand, he has already achieved the dao.”
Yan Zhaoge laughed, “Suddenly saw the light half a year ago? Haha…”
Zhao Hao was currently overflowing with a domineering air, as, his sword held out horizontally in front of him, he asked, “Does Third Brother have any more men? Otherwise, Third Brother intends to come at me himself?”
“What about Eldest Brother? Why not come and play as well; I don’t mind.”
His face sunken as water, Zhao Sheng bit his teeth, “Good, Sixteenth Brother; I really hadn’t noticed your ability before. Still it’s a little too early for you to be so full of yourself.”
Saying this, he looked like he was going to stride forward.
Zhao Hao having provoked him so openly, he had no further need to restrain himself, no longer having to worry about his Royal Father blaming him afterwards for what he was going to do now.
At this time, a voice suddenly resounded from the distance, “Biological brothers should cherish and be on good terms with one another. Exchanging pointers whilst in the same cultivation realm would be fine, but a Martial Scholar fighting with a Martial Artist, would really be a little too much.”
The next moment, a middle-aged man with a look of authority about him appeared before everyone’s eyes.
He first looked towards Yan Zhaoge, nodding, “Zhaoge, long time no see.”
Yan Zhaoge laughed, “Your Highness Jin is even more illustrious than before.”
The newcomer was the Royal Brother[i] of the current King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom, the second strongest expert of the Eastern Tang’s royal family, Zhao Shilie[ii]. Yan Zhaoge was also acquainted with him from before.
However, this person leaned towards the Sacred Sun Clan, and was the greatest springboard for the Sacred Sun Clan’s emergence into the Eastern Tang Kingdom.
The Eastern Tang Kingdom’s Crown Prince position still being unconfirmed was mostly due to this very person.
Whether it was his subordinate powers or the Sacred Sun Clan behind him, they were all applying pressure on the Eastern Tang Kingdom’s King, wishing for his Royal Brother rather than his eldest son to be the heir to his throne.
In this world where the martial way reigned supreme and personal power could change everything, many laws that existed in the secular world no longer applied.
For example, if the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom were to die this very day, not only would the Eastern Tang Kingdom have lost a sovereign, it would also have lost a Martial Grandmaster.
It would be an extremely huge loss in terms of the Eastern Tang’s overall power.
Whether it was Zhao Yuan or Zhao Sheng, only being Martial Scholars, even if they ascended the throne, in the area of possessing a high-tier strength, they were destined to be unable to replace their Royal Father within the following period.
Someone like Prince Jin who, while being weaker than the current King himself, was also similarly a Martial Grandmaster; it would be fine if he just loyally assisted the new King from the side, but if other intentions were to crop up within his mind, the situation would instantly turn complicated.
In secular dynasties, when an old king arranged for his successor before his death, he would naturally sweep away any unstable elements.
However, the situation with Prince Jin was something that even the Eastern Tang Kingdom’s King himself found to be tricky.
After all, Zhao Shilie was also a Martial Grandmaster, comprising an important portion of the Eastern Tang Kingdom’s power. Having killed him, it would still be the Eastern Tang that would have to suffer.
Moreover, behind Zhao Shilie stood the Sacred Sun Clan. Even though the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom had Broad Creed Mountain behind him, making a move against him would still be difficult.
The Eastern Tang Kingdom was currently sustained at a weak equilibrium. While the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom and Broad Creed Mountain currently held the advantage, there were still potential dangers lurking all around.
Having greeted Yan Zhaoge, Zhao Shilie now smiled amicably as he looked towards the three Zhao brothers, “If you want to compete, you don’t actually have to resort to fighting.”
“Forms of competition which do not risk harming your relationship; there are many of those.”
[i] Can’t actually say Royal Younger Brother, but note that he’s younger
[ii] Prince Jin is a title, but his surname is still Zhao