Translator: Larbre Studio Editor: Larbre Studio
Since he had called out Zhang Ruochen by name, he must have known Zhang Ruochen's ident.i.ty without a shred of doubt. There was no need to use a disguise anymore. He asked, “How did you recognize me?”
Xue Wuye's face was absurdly handsome - fair complexion, delicate features better-looking than a woman's, and long black hair tied neatly into a sleek ponytail, which exuded a nonchalant and carefree demeanour.
“You are the Time and s.p.a.ce Descendent. I suppose you've heard of Maitreya?” said Xue Wuye.
Zhang Ruochen's heart skipped a beat. “Legend has it that Saint Monk Xumi was the Maitreya. Though he died a long time ago, he controlled the Power of Time and therefore made many imprints on the future. Tens or hundreds of thousands of years from now, we might be able to b.u.mp into one of his imprints.”
Zhang Ruochen's gaze grew intense, and a sudden thought hit him. He then darted his gaze to Xue Wuye, looking dazed, and asked, “Could it be that you've met Saint Monk Xumi before?”
Xue Wuye laughed and nodded gently. “I got to meet Saint Monk once when I was twelve, and I was his apprentice for a month.”
Indeed he had met Saint Monk Xumi before.
“His moves were instantaneous yet seamless.”
Xue Wuye's smile faded and his eyes pierced through Zhang Ruochen's, two of his fingers extending into a sword sign and thrusting towards Zhang Ruochen at a lightning speed. In a split second, his right hand was already pointing at the middle of Zhang Ruochen's forehead, giving the opponent no sign of his next move.
The aura energy of his sword surged through his fingertips and formed into the shape of his blade in a white beam.
It was the basic move of Sword of Time - the Instantaneous Sword Technique.
However, Xue Wuye's sword-like fingers halted immediately when they were only three inches away from Zhang Ruochen's brow, unable to advance any further.
Zhang Ruochen calmly sat where he was, placed the wine gla.s.s on the jade table, raised his arm, then motioned downward with his palm. BANG! Xue Wuye was knocked back a step or two.
Xue Wuye looked at his own palm, then at Zhang Ruochen's. Astonished, he asked, “Was that ‘Spatial Freezing' from the Power of s.p.a.ce?”
Zhang Ruochen answered, “You have not perfected the Sword of Time. Otherwise, even with the Power of s.p.a.ce, I wouldn't have been able to defend myself.”
Xue Wuye did not seem particularly concerned. He said while laughing, “My Sacred Mark of Time and s.p.a.ce is not opened, nor does the Sword of Time serve as my primary sword technique, so of course the move would not be perfect.”
“When Saint Monk was imparting the techniques of Sword of Time to me,” he continued, “he meant to have me experience different sword fighting styles. That's about it. Had I performed Sword Three, would you have been able to take that? I suppose Spatial Freezing has its limit too?”
“You have mastered Sword Three, haven't you?” Zhang Rouchen lifted his eyes to meet Xue Wuye's for a moment.
With a tone of pride, Xue Wuye answered, “Though not mastery yet, I have achieved a desirable level.”
Of course, Xue Wuye intentionally concealed his true strength, just as Zhang Ruochen expected he would.
Others thought that he had not even mastered Sword Two. Who would have guessed he had in fact reached a desirable level of Sword Three?
Comparatively, Xue Wuye's talent had surpa.s.sed the Sword Emperor's when the emperor was his age.
If Xue Wuye truly was Saint Monk Xumi's apprentice, everything would make sense now.
Xue Wuye understood the Power of Time and s.p.a.ce well, and had never fallen into everyone's belief that the Time and s.p.a.ce Descendent was dead since the beginning.
His pursuance of Huang Yanchen could be bait meant to get Zhang Ruochen to reveal his true ident.i.ty and meet him in person, because Huang Yanchen was Zhang Ruochen's fiancée.
Anyone who claimed to be Zhang Ruochen's adversary, or intentionally approached Huang Yanchen, could be the a.s.sumed ident.i.ty of Zhang Ruochen.
Recently, Zhang Ruochen's action had made it even more obvious. Not only was he covering up for Huang Yanchen everywhere, he had been appearing at the mansion of Sword Saint Xuanji several times. How could people not be suspicious?
Of course, the most important thing was that Xue Wuye knew Zhang Ruochen would not die so easily, while others firmly believed in the news of his death.
This was the main difference that made Xue Wuye the only one who could identify Zhang Ruochen, while others could not.
Like how Kong Lanyou believed that Zhang Ruochen had died eight hundred years ago, she wouldn't have given up her doubt even if Zhang Ruochen were to reveal himself now.
Conversely, Orange Star Emissary knew that Zhang Ruochen was not dead. Therefore any blunder would blow his cover, as Lin Yue and she would be able to identify him immediately.
Perhaps the Orange Star Emissary was smarter than Kong Lanyou?
Zhang Ruochen glanced at Xue Wuye and said, “I'm more curious on knowing how you captured the Time Mark to perform the Instantaneous Sword Technique?”
Fiddling with his nose gently, Xue Wuye laughed. “I've told you so many secrets, shouldn't it be your turn to answer my question?”
“What is it?” Zhang Ruochen replied.
Xue Wuye asked, “Why did the Queen order your arrest and have Wan Zhaoyi execute it?”
Zhang Ruochen seemed calm and responded with a slight nod. “Hasn't this been announced by the Imperial Court already? I am guilty of committing the unpardonable crime of slaughtering warriors from the Ministry of War at the battleground of Thousand Void World.”
Xue Wuye heaved a deep sigh and said, “I trusted you, so why couldn't you? Can't we be truthful between the two us? Honestly speaking, your situation at that moment was an insignificant matter to the Queen. The Ministry of War could have sent anyone to arrest you, why would the Queen give this order herself?”
Zhang Ruochen replied, “If that's the case, what other reason do you think it could be?”
Xue Wuye stroked his chin gently, “When news of the Time and s.p.a.ce Descendent ‘Zhang Ruochen' spread to the Fragrance City, I got suspicious. Thereafter, I purposefully went through all of the old doc.u.ments to find out the relationship between the Time and s.p.a.ce Descendent and the Queen, and I actually got some useful information out of this. If this were to fall into the hands of others, the Imperial Court would have had it destroyed. Yet the City of Wanxiang chose to keep it.
Zhang Ruochen's facial expression remained unchanged - his gentle smile was still playing on his lips.
Xue Wuye continued to stare at Zhang Ruochen, hoping to get some clues from him and thus probing further. “I managed to find out that the name ‘Zhang Ruochen' was the exact name of the Crown Prince of Sacred Central Empire eight hundred years ago. In addition, the Queen had an unusual relationship with the then Crown Prince at that time.”
“Was that a coincidence?”
“But other than this relation, I could hardly think of other reasons that could make the high-status Queen give the order personally to seize an ordinary warrior from Heavenly Realm.”
Zhang Ruochen lifted his wine gla.s.s to his lips and answered, “Perhaps the Queen had the same thought as you? She felt that the name ‘Zhang Ruochen' had offended her, and therefore decided to sentence me to death.”
Xue Wuye frowned for not being able to pick up on anything despite his long stare at Zhang Ruochen's expression. He nodded. “If that's the case, the name ‘Zhang Ruochen' must have meant a lot to the Queen.”
“I guess it's your turn to answer my question now?” Zhang Ruochen asked in return.
“It was actually very easy to perform the Instantaneous Sword Technique.”
Xue Wuye held his right hand out wide, palm up, and rested it on the jade table.
His Holy Qi flowed rapidly atop his palm and formed into a white seal.
“The Time Seal,” said Zhang Ruochen.
In the middle of the white seal, there were thousands of time seals overlapping each other gleaming faintly from the Power of Time they collectively produced.
Thereafter, Xue Wuye drew out his left hand. Surprisingly, there was another seal on his left palm.
“The s.p.a.ce Seal,” said Zhang Ruochen.
Xue Wuye withdrew his hands from the table and nodded, “The Time and s.p.a.ce Seals were gifted to me by Saint Monk Xumi. He said that sword masters could only unleash their strongest power with the help of the Power of Time and s.p.a.ce.”
“But it requires immeasurable Holy Qi to activate the Time and s.p.a.ce Seals. That's why I am envious that you have opened the Time and s.p.a.ce Mark, which allows you to have full control over the Power of s.p.a.ce and Time.”
Having the Time and s.p.a.ce Seals put Xue Wuye at an advantage compared to the others, because the power they contained were equivalent to two drops of divine blood, which were condensed and purified into the two unique sacred seals that would only bring endless benefits.
Zhang Ruochen nodded in reply. “I see. So, what is your intention in meeting up with me?”
“Didn't I mention this at the beginning? What other intention would I have other than having a drink with you?” Xue Wuye pointed to the wine on the table.
Zhang Ruochen glanced at him and stood up. “I'm leaving now.”
“Farewell,” Xue Wuye replied.
Zhang Ruochen headed straight to the exit of the carriage, then paused and said, “Thank you for the drink.”
He then left quickly.
In the carriage, a graceful and gentle lady walked towards Xue Wuye and helped him fill his gla.s.s with wine. She asked softly, “Sir, is he the Time and s.p.a.ce Descendent Zhang Ruochen, as rumor has it?”
Xue Wuye laughed and said, “Oh beautiful, and the rest of you, listen. As you have heard, not only does this matter involve Saint Monk Xumi, but the Queen is involved too. It is for the best for you to forget everything you have heard. If word spreads, no one can save you from that.”
Terrified by his words, all sword servants in the carriage knelt before him.
One of the them asked, “So, is he an enemy or a friend?”
Xue Wuye took a deep breath followed by a nod. “A strong rival.”
Whether he was an enemy or a friend, Xue Wuye did not provide a clear answer.