The war in the Western Qin Empire naturally had little to do with Li Mu. That was not something an extra-terrestrial like him ought to be concerned about, for the circumstance Li Mu found himself in might seem wonderful but was actually not much better off than Lord Zhenxi.
Qiu Yin, the disciple in chief of Li Poyue, the Guanshan Master, had just arrived in Taibai County.
Qiu Yin was also known as the number one martial arts practitioner among the younger generation of the Western Qin Empire. He was even more famous than outstanding youths like Chu Nantian, a future leader of the Heaven Sword Sect and the second prince. His combat record was also more glorious. Rumor had it that ever since he completed his study and ventured the world, he had never been defeated during several thousand combats he had taken. Even some seniors who had made their names later were defeated by Qiu Yin.
What was more surprising was that although the young man had beaten a slew of martial arts experts in the Western Qin, people in Jianghu as well as in the imperial court all thought quite highly of him. Even when those who had lost to him mentioned him, they took a tone filled with awe and respect and never held any bitter grudge against him due to their failure. Moreover, many arrogant talents turned out to be his bosom friends after they were defeated by him.
Qiu Yin went on exploring the world at the age of fifteen and had been adventuring Jianghu for fifteen years.
By that time, Qiu Yin had just passed his thirtieth birthday. A Guanshan Broadsword in hand, a two-stringed Mongolia instrument fastened on the back, a bottle of bamboo alcohol tethered to the waist, and a marron horse as the ride were his signature possessions. The Mongolia instrument produced beautiful music, the Guanshan Broadsword shone brightly, and the bamboo alcohol tasted sweet and fragrant. Whoever heard him playing the Mongolia instrument witnessed him showing his broadsword techniques, and shared a drink of his strong alcohol would become Qiu Yin’s friend.
Qiu Yin could stick up for his friends at the loss of his life and go through all kinds of horrible tortures.
He never paraded with the name of the top disciple of the number one martial arts master in the Western Qin, while traveling about in the martial arts society. Instead, he disguised as an array of humble people as he explored Jianghu. Only after he achieved many chivalrous deeds was his real name learned by the masses.
And his title in the martial arts society was also very interesting.
That was, Broadsword Man.
Yes, his title was only constituted by two words.
The phrase Broadsword Man was a general reference to all practitioners that used broadswords. But since Qiu Yin’s Guanshan Broadsword came to the spotlight, as people in the Jianghu of the Western Qin Empire mentioned Broadsword Master, they meant one specific man, and that was Qiu Yin.
There were two other young men as reputed as Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man—Murong Bai, the Sword Hero in the Northern Song, and He Ping, the Spear Master in the Southern Chu.
The three were the acknowledged number one talents in the younger generation of the three empires respectively.
However, as Li Mu, Lord Taiba rose to power, Qiu Yin’s title as the number one talent seemed to be teetering.
That was because Li Mu’s combat records were just too spectacular.
Lately, some people even started speculating if Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man, and Li Mu, Lord Taiba who also made his name with broadsword-using methods would have a fierce duel to battle it out.
And then, such a duel appeared to be around the corner.
Because Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man, had gone to Taibai County alone.
For the time being, numerous eyes were fixed at the Knife Hut.
Qiu Yin had gone to meet the Sage-to-be at the will of the martial art deity of the Western Qin. One was a man ruling the sacred region of the Western Qin, the other was a new legendary figure. When the two met, how would they deal with each other?
“Haha, fine liquor!”
Li Mu gulped down a large bowl of bamboo alcohol. The fluid poured down his throat like fire and flowed to his insides. He felt his body was hot and about to burn, but that was thoroughly refreshing.
“I’ve been told that when you drink Broadsword Man’s alcohol, you’ll be his friend.” Li Mu slowly put down the large bowl and stared at the bearded, ruddy-faced man, who was sitting cross-legged, a sheathless Guanshan Broadsword lying on his knees.
That was Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man.
He was wearing coarse linen clothes and a pair of patched boots. His black hair was a bit naturally curled, his brows thick and eyes large, his chin covered by the matted beard. When he smiled, snow-white teeth were revealed. He was tall and burly. Like all those who lived on pastures, every part of his body carried an air of straightforwardness and honesty that could only be found on the men living on the Guanshan Pasture.
“This man is Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man!”
That was very much different from the figure Li Mu had pictured.
But in another aspect, that was exactly the same as Li Mu had pictured him.
“Two more shots to go.” Qiu Yin reminded him with a smile. The bronze bottle that was usually fastened to his waist was at the moment next to his hand. With a tap, thick liquid in dark green leaped from the spout like a flying dragon.
The bowl Li Mu was grabbing shot forward and skidded to a halt right at the place that could pick up the stream of dark green liquor.
The bowl spun rapidly, not missing a drop. After it was filled to the edge, it flew back and landed steadily in Li Mu’s hand.
“Go ahead!” encouraged Qiu Yin. Li Mu raised his bowl and drained it.
Qiu Yin laughed heartily and complimented, “Taibai Li is sure a brisk man!”
He patted that bottle again and a jet of liquor shot out and landed in his mouth.
The room was filled with the sweetness of the alcohol.
“The third shot!” Qiu Yin filled Li Mu in again.
Without saying a word of courtesy, he guzzled down the third bowl of bamboo alcohol.
As his body had been improved by the Zhenwu Boxing and the Xiantian Skill, he had long passed the phase of being drunk. But Qiu Yin’s bamboo alcohol was extremely strong and also contained a certain spiritual aura. Obviously, it was brewed with some precious herb. Normal practitioners could not withstand it. Even Li Mu already felt surges of wild impulse.
“So are we friends now?” Li Mu put down the bowl and asked.
Qiu Yin shook his head. “Not yet.”
“Huh? Not yet?” doubted Li Mu.
“No, we’re not friends yet,” Qiu Yin replied.
“Then, what shall we do to be friends?”
“Although you’ve tasted my liquor, you haven’t seen my broadsword yet,” Qiu Yin explained with laughter.
As he said, his coarse, knobby hand closed around the handle of the Guanshan Broadsword made of black iron.
In an instant, his aura was altered at once.
If Qiu Yin could be compared to a passionate volcano during its eruption before, the moment he grabbed his broadsword, he turned into a chunk of ancient ice lying under the most freezing land.
He was calm, chilled, and harsh!
Just like the blade of that Guanshan Broadsword.
“The timing couldn’t be better. I happen to have a broadsword at hand, too!”
Li Mu got to his feet and tapped his palm. Next second, strands of broadsword qi shot over from all directions. Twenty flying broadswords assembled and merged into a long shining broadsword.
The entire meeting room lit up in the silver light issued from the broadsword.
That was Li Mu’s Samsara Knife.
Qiu Yin’s eyes sparkled and he yelled, “Great broadsword!”
Then, he bounced to midair like a tiger swooping down to its prey. The pitch-black Guanshan Broadsword split the space apart and hacked right at Li Mu’s forehead.
The strike did not carry any internal qi, because he just wanted to show Li Mu his broadsword skill.
Li Mu was dazzled for a second. He felt as if everything around the broadsword had just vanished and he was now floating in a black universe. All he could see was that black broadsword. Its fierce blade was diving down to him, ready to tear the world apart.
Like a warrior longing for a fight, the Samsara Knife vibrated dramatically at that moment.
Li Mu launched a strike backhandedly.
Wind-Cloud Six Moves!
The blades trembled with a loud bang as they collided.
A gush of enormous force washed over Li Mu, causing his arm to numb and wobble.
“What great strength he has!”
Li Mu was stunned. Given that he had been practicing the Zhenwu Boxing, his body was almost invulnerable. The strength he had could topple mountains. But Qiu Yin turned out to own an equally great power that was barely less than his own. How could that be?
Yet, what Li Mu had no idea of was the shock Qiu Yin had was more overwhelming.
When Qiu Yin was a kid, he once had a fortuitous experience—being refined by thunder. Later, his master granted him the immortal method called Way of Body-refining through the Holy Thunder from the Highest Heavens to strengthen his body. Thus, if merely in terms of his physique strength, he was invincible, because nothing could harm his body. Even many Semi-Sages were far less strong than him. His strength was so immense that people described it as monstrous. Once, he had captured and killed a huge shark that had already existed in prehistoric times in the vast sea.
Given Li Mu’s remarkable combat records and his status as the Sage-to-be, Qiu Yin did not reserve much of his strength when launching that attack, even though he did not activate his internal qi.
But to his great surprise, Li Mu, who also did not resort to his internal qi or draw support from the power of heaven and earth, proved that his physical strength was stronger than his in that he almost lost grip of the Guanshan Broadsword in that collision.
Qiu Yin laughed happily and threw the broadsword at Li Mu again.
Unlike the previous strike which was practically forthright and natural, when half of the second hack was performed, the broadsword instantly disintegrated into hundreds of smaller broadswords. At that moment, it felt like all the stars hidden in the sky had burst all at once.
That move was exceedingly complicated, delicate, unfathomable, and eccentric.
That was a totally different broadsword-using method.
A thousand moves crossed Li Mu’s mind in a flash. His body, however, took action in a trice. The Samsara Knife determinedly lunged forward with the Four-directional Hack of the Wind-Cloud Six Moves.
Clink! Clank! Clink!
Sparkles burst in all directions, as though hundreds of stars had exploded.
Li Mu kept backing away.
So did Qiu Yin.
The two both took scores of steps backward, leaving on the floor clear footprints that seemed to be carved in it. Li Mu’s sleeves were shattered into pieces, while Qiu Yin’s boots were reduced to dust.
The parts of their hands between the thumb and the index finger were both broken, blood spilling from the crack.
“Wonderful! Really wonderful!” Qiu Yin let out a roar of laughter. He was overjoyed after the fight.
Propping against his broadsword, he stood there with a slightly drunken look. He had never met such an opponent ever since he made his debut in Jianghu. It was such a delight to meet his equal.
Li Mu was also thrilled at the urge to fight.
Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man, did deserve the reputation he enjoyed. The two strikes thoroughly demonstrated the regal bearing of a Broadsword Man. He was undoubtedly the mightiest broadsword master Li Mu had encountered since he gained the Full Accomplishment in martial arts. Even when he witnessed the Secular Sword Whiz’s almost surreal sword skills before, he was not as astonished and inspired as he felt that day.
“Want to keep going?” Li Mu inquired, one hand gripping the Samsara Knife that buzzed continuously.
Qiu Yin closed his eyes and considered it for the moment before withdrawing his broadsword and settling himself in his chair again. “No more strikes. I have no assurance to win with the third hack. I’d better save it for future attestation.”
After giving it a thought, Li Mu said, “That’s fine.”
The two again were seated at the table.
Qiu Yin poured more bamboo alcohol and they drank as much as they liked. The two hit it off well right from their first meeting. The longer they chatted, the more excited they were. The topics they could discuss seemed to never run out.
Li Mu readily asked the chef in the Knife Hut to prepare a variety of fine dishes and set up a feast in the meeting room. He and Qiu Yin helped themselves to all the dishes with a great appetite. The mouth-watering smell of meat and alcohol permeated the room.
In the blink of an eye, the nighttime was replaced by daybreak.
When the sun rose, the two still did not feel like parting.
“Since I came to Taibai County, I have been overcoming one hardship after another to rise to power. It can be said that I’ve blazed a path through the Wulin World in the northwest. I’ve met loads of Wulin figures, but most of them are just puffed-up small potatoes. Even the second prince was just a pompous and overbearing dumbass to me. Looking back, among all the figures I’ve met, only two people earned my admiration. The two are my soul mates in life. Both of them are experts in martial arts and have unfathomable cultivations. One of them is you, Brother Qiu. We became close friends at our first meeting. You’re truly my soul mate. When drinking with a bosom friend, a thousand cups will still be too little. Haha, if it wasn’t for the fact that you are about to be short of your liquor, we could continue to drink for three whole days and three whole nights until we’re so wasted that we can’t see the sun and the moon.”
Li Mu was highly enthusiastic, engrossed in the grace of having drinks with a hero.
“Hahaha, I, Qiu Yin, have traveled across the Western Qin for fifteen years. You can’t count how many great figures I’ve met in my life. But only a few have the same demeanor as you do. Drinking three bowls of my wine and taking two strikes of my broadsword, haw-haw-haw, how delightful it is!” Qiu Yin cried exuberantly. As he was bold and unconstrained, he then probed curiously, “I wonder who the other man you’ve mentioned is. Now that he is qualified as your soul mate, he must be a peerless hero.”