3:19 – Heaven-Seizer
Wang Tian leaped into the air and swung his sword. The slash was slow, but fast. Simple but profound. A powerful blade honed by countless years and contemplation drew an arc through space towards his opponent.
A black sword appeared to block it, but the counter-attack lacked the depth of laws. Because of that, the force of the blow sent Wang Tian’s opponent flying upwards into the sky. They weren’t wounded, but it was enough to stagger them and send them away from Xian Ni.
A clash between Saint-level experts could send shock-waves that would destroy their surroundings. That was even more true when the power of laws were involved. While Wang Tian’s grandfather was nearby to mitigate it, the best option would be to go to a place that didn’t have anything or anyone that could be harmed by the battle. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like his opponent was willing to do that, so Wang Tian chose the next best option of an aerial battle.
Floating in mid-air with his hair and azure robes billowing around him, Wang Tian stared at his opponent, thoroughly examining them.
A dark miasma covered every inch of their body, emanating a domineering chaotic aura that could oppress a Saint. Not only that, but overwhelming spiritual pressure radiated from that person. It was to the level that Wang Tian had only felt from the Xia Emperor, a seemingly boundless strength that drew everything inside of them, as if all of heaven and earth would bow to their will.
Except, unlike the Xia Emperor who carried the strength of the Yellow Dragon and rightfully belonged, Wang Tian’s opponent felt at odds with the world itself. If the Xia Emperor’s command came through birthright, that person’s command came through usurption, a power seized rather than given.
An opponent that was Saint-level but exuded imperial might. One that should never have existed in this world, but was born through an accumulation of karma and past mistakes.
A blade that drew in all the light of the world was raised against Wang Tian and a harsh voice spoke out. “I know that’s not your best. Stop holding back!”
Wang Tian hesitated for a brief moment.
His opponent took that moment and attacked. The blade that drew in all light traced an invisible arc through the air, aiming at Wang Tian’s neck.
It was fast, taking the amount of time it took to blink.
But that was still plenty of time.
Wang Tian idly raised his sword. The simple movement carried the blessing of the world itself and miraculously appeared before his opponent’s blade despite being slower.
Invisible ripples of pure energy echoed through the sky. With the last attack, Wang Tian locked blades with his opponent.
Despite the force of the blow, neither party moved an inch, frozen in the air as if a painting rather than living beings.
After a moment, Wang Tian sighed. “You are still too weak, Xinxin. Even with this heaven-defying path and cultivation, it will not be enough.”
“Hmph.” Having been revealed, Xinxin flew back through the air and erased the dark miasma surrounding her. “Just because you blocked that attack doesn’t mean that I’m weaker than you, Wang Tian.”
The heavenly prince glanced around. Spectators had sensed the clash of energy and were arriving to watch. Those of the elder generation that could fly under their own power did so while others, like the scions of countless clans and sects, were hovering on flying swords and other artifacts.
It seemed like it was too late to hide the encounter.
Wang Tian sighed and said, “Was this your plan, Xinxin? Do you hate the thought of being with me so much to throw your face away?”
Xinxin laughed. “Face? What face do I have left? My clan is gone and everyone knows me just as your betrothed. Not my own person, but as your accessory.” She tightened her grip on her sword and said, “I’m not! I am my own person, not someone else’s belonging!”
Hearing her voice caused another to echo in Wang Tian’s heart. An older one, but just as melodious… no, more so.
“Shut up and fight me! Show me just how powerful the ‘Prince of Heaven’ is! Show me just how weak I am in comparison if you can!”
Xinxin thrust out her left hand. An invisible energy crackled before condensing into white lightning.
Wang Tian frowned. “That aura… Tribulation Lightning?”
He didn’t have anymore time to react beyond saying those words. In a flash, a thunderous roar echoed and a pure white streak shot towards Wang Tian’s body.
A powerful attack, but-
“You lack comprehension!”
Wang Tian’s sword swept through the air and the lightning dispersed.
But Xinxin’s attack wasn’t over. She clenched her hand, causing the remaining sparks of lightning to change. The pure white lightning was dyed with color and formed five lights: green, red, yellow, gray, and blue.
“Five elements converge!”
Wang Tian’s eyes widened. “That is-“
He didn’t have the time to finish his words.
In an instant, the lights took on a tangible form. The purest Wood qi, Fire qi, Earth qi, Metal qi, and Water qi erupted in the air, sending out fragments of the elementary elemental laws. Incomplete and fractured, they began twisting time and space, making the sky appear as if it was falling apart.
Wang Tian focused and raised his sword. Unlike before, where he casually held it, he shifted into a proper stance. At once, everything froze. The incomplete law fragments paused, and all of life grew still.
An invisible tension filled the air, preventing anything from moving, even time itself. A domain, one belonging solely to Wang Tian.
With a flick of his sword, that tension shattered. But when it did, so too did the law fragments.
That flick didn’t just erase the fragments, however. With the movement of Wang Tian’s sword, an invisible slash cut towards Xinxin.
Whether she was shocked at her attack being stopped, fatigued from using too much qi, or just arrogant, she stood there and tried to block it with her left hand.
Blood scattered across the sky like tiny rubies.
Xinxin let out a hiss of pain and pulled her hand back, glaring at Wang Tian.
He sighed. “Xinxin. Please, hear me out. This wedding-“
“Be quiet!” The heaven-defying beauty narrowed her eyes and said, “I won’t marry you!” With those words, Xinxin raised her sword again, flaring her spiritual energy. It was overwhelming… but it was also unstable. Even if it had the quantity to rival a Saint and pressure to oppress, it lacked depth. Substance.
Wang Tian noticed and said, “The path you tread is not the correct one, Xinxin. At the end of this road lies nothing but ruin.”
Xinxin was quiet. Did she realize it as well? She lowered her head, hiding her violet eyes beneath strands of her silky black hair. But then she raised her head again, a determined glint shimmering in those violet eyes. “So what if this path leads to ruin? So what if this path is incorrect?”
Xinxin’s spiritual energy grew even higher, fluctuating wildly out of control. “It’s the only one I can choose! The only path that lets me become my own person!”
“That is not true.”
“Isn’t it?” Xinxin narrowed her eyes. “You’ve already become a Saint and I’m a girl who has nothing but her beauty. You could have called off this wedding at any time, and yet you allowed it to reach this point!” Xinxin’s spiritual energy condensed, collapsing down into her sword. “It’s about time to end this. If you want to keep clinging to me and prevent me from leaving by tying me down with that marriage, I’ll just have to cut those strings away with my own two hands!”
A powerful attack. Because she had condensed everything into her sword, all of the ambient energy in the surroundings gravitated towards her. It created a spiral of attraction, drawing in power from heaven and earth in a never-ending stream.
Where did she learn such an attack? Even though it lacked the profound depths of law, the sheer energy contained in it was enough to place it at the same level.
Wang Tian stared at Xinxin and sighed. Just like how she was once the shadow on his heart, it seemed that he had become the shadow upon her heart.
Xinxin raised her sword. With that act, cracks in space emerged, as if the threads of the world itself were unraveling. While they were slight, simple black lines floating in the air, the fact that they were present meant that the attack was nothing to scoff at. Unless Wang Tian went all out, even he would be cut down. Not only that, but the entire city beneath them could be wiped out as well.
Yet, in the face of that attack, Wang Tian couldn’t muster any will to fight. Instead, he stared at Xinxin and said, “I surrender.”
Xinxin froze. “…What?”
Wang Tian stared at Xinxin- no, at the one he once abandoned in pursuit of the true path.
She was different.
That same heaven-defying beauty was there, but it was different.
The Xinxin he knew had always followed him around with pure devotion, even when he treated her poorly. The Xinxin he remembered had given him her gentle heart and allowed him to break it time and time again, only quietly picking up the pieces each time.
The Xinxin he loved and lost… was not here.
“…The heavens are truly merciless.”
In the past, he sought the Dao and ignored the meek beauty following him, instead giving his heart to others that could walk beside him. The cost of that was her dying alone and disgraced at the hands of the ones he called companion before offering up her soul to the foreign invaders.
Was that the reason?
Since he had returned to this time, Xinxin had ignored him- no, hated him. It was with a vehemency that made him wonder if she remembered like he did… but that was impossible.
Xinxin glared at him and said, “What are you doing? Fight me!”
“I will not.”
“You…!” Xinxin scowled and then glanced at the city below. “If you don’t, I’ll destroy them! This attack isn’t something you can brush off!”
“So be it.”
Xinxin gnashed her teeth and then said, “I’ll do it! I’ll really do it!”
Wang Tian dismissed his sword and then let his hands fall. “If that is your wish, I will not stop you.”
Time passed. Whether short or long, that depended on the observer. But eventually, Xinxin dismissed her sword as well.
Xinxin stared at Wang Tian and then said a single word. “Why?”
“Because I made an oath to protect you.”
Xinxin’s expression soured and she crossed her arms. “Again with the protecting! I don’t need it, especially from you! Even if I look like this, I’m not a dainty girl who needs a hero to save her!”
“…Even so, I will protect you.”
Staring at Xinxin’s beautiful face, the image of a similar girl’s overlapped.
Xinxin… while she might not remember, Wang Tian did. And like how she followed him quietly in the past, allowing every sin he inflicted upon her, in this life he would do the same.
“You-!” Xinxin cut off her words and then scoffed. “Fine. Say that I believe you.” She shifted her vision to the city below as well as the countless spectators surrounding them. “What are you going to do about them? People from all over Xia have come to see your wedding. Don’t tell me you’re going to let them leave empty handed.”
Wang Tian was quiet for a moment, but then he looked up at Xinxin. “I told you already. To stop this marriage, you need the strength to defy the Xia Dynasty. Having come this far, breaking off the marriage will make you a target of every clan out there seeking the True Wood physique hidden in your bloodline.”
Xinxin froze. Had she not anticipated that?
“S-So what? I’m plenty strong!”
Hearing that brought a smile to Wang Tian’s face. Even as some things changed, others remained the same. Xinxin was still childish, even if it was hidden behind her distaste towards him.
“Stop smiling, you creep!”
Wang Tian shook his head. “It can’t be helped.”
“Your personality can’t be helped! Creep! Pervert!”
Wang Tian smiled, but then replaced it with a stern expression. “Xinxin.”
Hearing the serious tone in his voice, Xinxin stopped with the names and listened. “What?”
“Do you… truly want to meet with your Sifu again?”
Wang Tian stared at Xinxin’s eyes, waiting to see her response.
It was immediate. Those violet eyes lit up and a hint of red appeared on her jade cheeks. At the same time, she flew towards him and grabbed Wang Tian’s robe. “You know where he is? Tell me! What’s he doing? How is he? Did he say anything about me? Did he leave me a message?”
Wang Tian’s heart ached at such sincerity. In another life, he was blessed with such a thing but he cast it aside.
What a fool.
Still, as much as his heart ached, Wang Tian was someone who once reached the heights of the world and commanded the entire land in another life with his sword alone.
In the next breath, his heart stilled, becoming as tranquil as steel, and he gently pushed Xinxin away.
Perhaps realizing her actions, Xinxin blushed. She crossed her arms and glared at him. “D-Don’t think that this changes anything! I still don’t like you, even if you have news about my Sifu!”
Wang Tian let out a wry smile.
There were countless eyes upon them both. Those of the Wang Clan, the elder generation of the major sects and clans… each of them were likely waiting with baited breath.
Although he didn’t know how many had realized that it was Xinxin he was fighting, the more astute like his grandfather would have already found out. Within the day, news would spread about how the heavenly prince clashed with his fiance, and especially about how his fiance was so powerful.
In short, they had a giant target painted on them.
The clans and sects interested in Xinxin before would double their efforts, even digging out the old monsters to pull her in. Of that, Wang Tian had no doubt.
But Xinxin didn’t know. Even if she was different from what he remembered, even if that ‘Sifu’ of hers had trained her, he doubted that nameless man had given her more than combat knowledge and an unorthodox technique.
She didn’t know how truly vicious and cruel cultivators could be in order to traverse the path to immortality. And someone like her, whose bloodline contained the True Wood physique… someone who was a direct descendant and a female at that…
“Wang Tian! If you don’t tell me right now-“
“You have yet to give me an answer, Xinxin. Do you want to meet your Sifu again?”
“Yes! Why else have I been training these past two years if not to meet him?”
Wang Tian stared at Xinxin. There wasn’t a shred of hesitation or doubt in her eyes. If anything, there was only a fervent anticipation, one bordering on obsession.
“…Very well. If that is your decision then I…”
Wang Tian closed his eyes for a brief moment. The memories of the past, the Xinxin existing now… even if he no longer had a place in her heart, it would be fine if he could keep her safe.
Opening his eyes, he looked at Xinxin and then spoke, imbuing his voice with spiritual energy to be heard by everyone around. “With the heavens as my witness, I, Wang Tian, renounce my clan name.”
A booming voice echoed through the skies. “BOY! What are you doing!?” At the same time, the aura of a Saint filled the air and someone rapidly approached.
Wang Tian didn’t need to look to know that it was his grandfather, Wang Zuo.
Xinxin’s eyes grew wide. “Wang Tian, what are you-?”
“Xinxin.” Wang Tian… no, it was just Tian now. He materialized his sword once more, that crystal blade that seemed to contain the infinite skies. “You have mastered that technique I gave you, correct?”
“Myriad Heavens? I have. But what does that-“
“Good. Then… Word without a sound. Blade by another name…”
The words echoed into the air, resonating with something intangible. The power of laws that only Saints could touch upon were written into the space around them… but then a power beyond that emerged, something that didn’t exist in the current time.
A thunderous voice roared. “WANG TIAN!”
Tian swung his sword and said a single word. “Dao.”
It was the sword, it was the beginning, and it was the end. The ‘truth’ that the one known as Wang Tian acknowledged at the end of his life and the ‘path’ he would trod upon in order to protect one he had cut off.
Space tore apart. When it healed, both Xinxin and Tian had vanished.