The following days were spent in peace as Ming Yue had finished her contemplation and began testing her ideas. Xuan Yin was excited for a moment but soon lost interest when Ming Yue did not want to spar.
"I still need time to comprehend", she said.
Xuan Yin looked at her, "Ugh, fine. Have it your way. I'm just going to look around then."
Despite being the older one, Xuan Yin really was quite childish. Ming Yue did not mind her behavior, after all she did give her some insights to improving her swordsmanship.
To be one with the sword is to move like it, this must've been what the caretaker meant. The more she thought about it the more it made sense to her. She had only ever focused on the hands and grip, she never bothered to adjust her entire body to her style. As of right now, her body merely mimics the aspects of her swordplay, its ever-changing state. She needs to instill the idea, the essence of her swordplay onto her entire being.
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Knowing what to do, she began experimenting and practicing, modifying her movements and familiarizing herself with them. At first, it felt quite strange and awkward, some moves didn't seem to fit, others seemed to work for no apparent reason. However, she practiced and continued to hone her skills, eventually getting confident enough to try it in battle.
Xuan Yin smiled by the sudden request,"Finally, I was getting bored just idling about. I wonder what insights you've gained."
Readying their weapons, the spar began. Utilizing what she had learned, Ming Yue found it much easier to avoid her arrows. Compared to practicing on her own, fighting had allowed her to fine-tune her movements, taking away any wasted actions. Furthermore, she began to emit an aura from her body, it was not a ruthless one but rather gave off a mysterious feeling. In Xuan Yin's eyes, it became much harder for her to anticipate Ming Yue's next moves. Before she could tell the direction in which she would move but now, she could barely determine it. If she predicted the left then Ming Yue would move forward. If Xuan Yin thought she would step back, Ming Yue would really attack the arrows head on.
After several minutes of battle, Xuan Yin gave up. She looked at Ming Yue with disbelief, how much could she have improved in several short days?
"I give up. At this rate, we will only end in a stalemate. Besides, a battle of endurance is not my strong suite", she said.
Ming Yue looked at her before putting down her blade, "I see."
She quickly went over the battle in her mind, taking note of the minute changes that she made. Above them was a little crow nesting on a tree branch, watching them.
"Oh, so that's your friend. Oh well, one more toy to play with!" the Lord of Torment spoke. Those crows must've been able to share their sight with their master. He was in another section of the valley, waiting for his crows to track Ming Yue down. Seeing their little spar, he felt confident in capturing the two. After all, he was still a earth realm cultivator, capturing two human realm cultivators would not be that difficult.
"Hmm, not too far. Well then, let's hurry up a bit."
Unbeknownst by the two women, they were about to be ambushed. The both of them had begun moving around the valley, presumably searching for targets to kill. But after a full day of looking, they found no one. The valley was empty, void of any life. The both of them found it strange.
"There's no one. Not even a search group to find you. What's going on here?" Xuan Yin felt that something was amiss.
Just as confused as her, Ming Yue was not sure what was happening. Could they have given up on capturing her? Were they too afraid? That would not make sense, the four lords of Redmist Sanctuary were much stronger than her. They had no real reason to fear her. As the two of them looked around, Xuan Yin noticed a little crow following them. Everywhere they went, it followed, quietly watching from above.
Realizing something, she raised her bow up and shot the crow, aiming for its heart. Her actions were too sudden for the crow the react and could not dodge the shot. Falling to the ground, it convulsed in pain as she approached the crow and grabbed it by the neck. She examined the bird as Ming Yue quickly walked up to her, curious as to what made Xuan Yin so high strung.
"This crow has been tampered with", said Xuan Yin.
Hidden under its feathers, the crow had several stitches along with numerous markings and symbols.
"There is only one person who could do this" she thought, "The Lord of Torment, Tong Ku."
She looked at Ming Yue telling her this news. It was no wonder the valley was empty, it had become a hunting ground for him to use and they were his targets.
"We have to go", Xuan Yin said.
Ming Yue agreed, now that one of the sanctuary lords are hunting them. The risk was too high for her to stay here anymore. As much as she did not want to leave, she could find another alternative to reaching her goals.
As they turned to escape, they turned to find Tong Ku in front of them. He smiled menacingly, looking at them like they were already his.
"Ah, unfortunately, you were too late. If only you had noticed it sooner", he said, "But this is so much better, I'm going to have so much fun!"
His happy tone only added more to his vicious image. He took off his bag and placed it by him. The two of them needed to run. With the both of them together, winning was a slim chance. This was the so called "Lord of Torment" after all, losing to him meant a fate worse then death. There were many stories about his atrocious deeds, almost too many. He tortured abandoned children, often harvesting their organs to use. What he uses their bodies for was a mystery. Some say he is trying to create an ancient weapon or some ominous creature, others believe that he does it for his own amusement.
With what he has said so far, it was safe to say he does this for fun.
Ming Yue circled her energy as she imbued it throughout her entire being and sword. Xuan Yin took off her arrow quiver and aimed her bow at him. On her other hand, a black arrow formed. Made from pure energy, it was extremely powerful, each shot would be fatal for the common man. Neither knew of each others full power, after all, their spars were only of skill. They weren't fighting to kill and had no reason to use their full strength. The two of them readied their weapons, this fight was one that they could not hold back.
Tong Ku smiled at them, "Good, I like it when I have to fight for my prey."
He put his hands into his bag and took out numerous weapons. Dagger and needles, he had a number of light weapons on him. Among these weapons was a strange knife, the blade was curved and rugged. It was a small weapon* but it had quite a bloody aura, similar to that of the sacrificial daggers that Ming Yue found. The handle fit snug in his palm and the blade was barely any longer than his hand, perhaps several inches.
She wrinkled her nose at the smell, this dagger has been bathed in the blood of countless people. She held her weapon tightly, staring at him.
"Well then, come on. Let's get started."
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