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Chapter 58: A Silent Breakthrough
At Gu Xichun’s words, the gates of Green Vine Sword School suddenly quieted.
Nearby, Xu Heshan, Xie Changsheng and the others stopped talking. Xu Heshan couldn’t help but shake his head. “Even if he has such ambition, he does not need to speak it in public just to flaunt his exceptional nature.” he said, with slight disdain.
Xu Heshan was slightly convinced and added softly. “At least he has such spirit.”
There were students from a dozen cultivation places gathered here. Yet of them, only three or four of these cultivation places qualified to join the Min Mountain Sword Trials. Of the handful that qualified, perhaps only Gu Xichun would dare to say such a thing. The others knew that they were not strong enough and would only be minor characters in the sword trials.
Obviously, Gu Xichun could not guarantee that he would secure a chance to join Min Mountain Sword Sect to study from the sword trials. Yet, this had been his goal. Compared to the people around, who would never associate themselves with such a sword trial, his words naturally implied that he was far more aspiring than these short-sighted ones.
Xu Heshan, Xie Changsheng and the others felt that Gu Xichun had the attributes to be proud so they could only speak in hushed tones and challenge Gu Xichun openly. But some students present were of high births and not as strong as Gu Xichun.
After a brief silence, someone could not resist. “Brother Gu has great aspirations, and we naturally cannot rival you. But if this Ding Ning of White Goat Cave is really like An Baoshi of Spirit Void Sword Sect and Jing Liuli of Min Mountain Sword Sect, and reaches Energy Refinement in a month, if he has cultivation speed similar to those two, perhaps when the Min Mountain Sword Trials is held, he will be a great opponent for you.” he said, lightly
Gu Xichun looked at that person and smiled slightly. He said, “We are idle in our wait, how about we make a bet? Let’s see if Ding Ning can have a breakthrough and reach Energy Refinement in a month.”
Such words, a majority of people present found uninteresting.
Because up until yesterday, everyone was certain Ding Ning had not had a breakthrough. Using today as the deadline, the odds that Ding Ning could have a breakthrough were minuscule.
In reality, everyone present felt that the wine shop youth of White Goat Cave could not reach Energy Refinement in a month. ‘Energy Refinement in a month’, now a saying was thanks to the two eccentrics from Spirit Void Sword Sect and Min Mountain Sword Sect.
Could Ding Ning, perchance indeed reach Energy Refinement within a month?
Most people would bet against. Even if a minority bet for, the majority would not win much.
Out of nowhere, a slightly young albeit rebellious voice sounded. “Alright, if that’s so, I bet three mica knife money that Ding Ning could have a breakthrough today.”
Gasps sounded at the gates of Green Vine Sword School.
All the gazes converged on this person.
One mica knife money was worth five hundred gold. Three mica was a thousand and five hundred gold. Most of the students here most likely could not produce such a sum at once.
All the students took this person’s words in jest. But when they saw him retrieve three knife-shaped coins from his sleeve, reality proved otherwise.
This was Xie Changsheng of White Cloud Monastery. The Xie Family possessed enormous wealth. Other people could not gamble the thousand and five hundred gold, but he could.
“What are you doing?” Xu Heshan looked on in disbelief from next to Xie Changsheng..
“Money is just a material thing.” Xie Changsheng twisted his mouth and responded softly.
In reality, when Gu Xichun was ridiculing the crowd, he was slightly displeased. When he saw Gu Xichun make a wager out of pride, he could not hold himself back.
“Oh?” Gu Xichun saw it was Xie Changsheng and wanted to speak to the other.
Just as he was about to speak and agree to the wager, the sound of approaching horses sounded.
“Xie Changsheng!1 Is our family’s money not money? You think you can waste all you want when it reaches your hands?”
“Xie Changsheng!1 You think since Father named you so, you can indeed, always, win all your bets?” An irate female voice echoed along the mountain paths along the snap of reins.
Xie Changsheng shuddered and his face paled.
“What is this?” Xue Heshang looked along with the crowd. He saw a tall young woman with angry eyes flash out of a parked carriage.
This young woman had a beautiful face and a proportionate figure. Her hair was coiled up using a green jade hairpin making it appear even longer and thinner.
“Who is she?” Xu Heshang couldn’t help but ask Xie Changsheng next to him. “Great Sky”, two words were embroidered on this young woman’s blue robes. He knew this was a student of the Great Sky Palace. Historically, Great Sky Palace had been invited by Green Vine Sword School. But in the many previous years, Great Sky Palace had only a few students, and he had never seen this young woman before.
“She is my older sister, Xie Rou. Her name means gentle, but she is anything but.” Xie Changsheng whispered with a grimace.
Xu Heshan could not understand. He thought, even if this was his older sister, he did not have to fear her so.
“I cannot defeat her. Also, as we are studying, Father has her in charge of the money. I need to receive from her …” Xie Changsheng seemed to guess Xu Heshan’s thoughts and added softly.
Xu Heshan’s eyes turned to a gaze of understanding. He was filled with sympathy towards Xie Changsheng. He was used to see Xie Changsheng spend money like it were dirt. If Xie Changsheng, who was used to spending money casually, had no money to spend, then he would be in great discomfort. Perhaps, it would affect his cultivation progress.
“Then why does she call you Xie Changsheng?” Looking at the tall angry young woman coming closer, Xu Heshan lowered his voice.
Xie Changsheng’s face grew even more bitter. “My name is originally Xie Changsheng (always winning) but I felt it was too unsophisticated, so I changed it to Xie Changsheng (immortality).”
Xu Heshan stilled. “It is very unsophisticated.” “But no matter what, you cannot change the name your father gave you.” he said, seriously.
“Change?” You changed your name?” Xie Rou was close enough to make out Xu Heshan’s words. Her eyebrows raised and she looked at Xie Changsheng frostily. “You have such gall!” she said, harshly.
“I do not.”
Xie Changsheng argued back with an unusually ugly expression. “Who here doesn’t know I am called Xie Changsheng?”
The corners of Xu Heshan’s lips jerked. But he didn’t dare laugh.
He feared, here on, Xie Changsheng would have to go back to his original name.
Xie Rou cast a dark gaze at her younger brother, who in her eyes lacked in accomplishments. “Then shout at the top of your voice here; I am Xie Changsheng.”
Xie Changsheng immediately was irked enough to shout. “Sister! What do you want! I just made a bet. This Ding Ning reached Profound Understanding in half a day. I might not lose!”
“This is an ordinary person from the streets who has no personages or major families supporting him. Also, I hear he was significantly injured in the previous incident.” Xie Rou wore a disdainful smile. “If he can reach Energy Refinement in a month just like that, then I will have him as your brother-in-law.”
There was pin drop silence at the gates of Green Vine Sword School.
They were all speechless.
Wasn’t Xie Changsheng’s sister Xie Rou herself? If Xie Rou said that Ding Ning would be Xie Changsheng’s brother-in-law, then didn’t it imply if Ding Ning’s talent was astounding enough, she would marry Ding Ning?
It was often said that people from Guangzhong were spirited. Now, it appeared that she was very different from the women around Changling … even if she was just lecturing her younger brother, her words were still alarming to Changling’s people since they came from the mouth of a young woman.
“No wonder you fear her.” Xu Heshan swallowed hard and couldn’t help but whisper in Xie Changsheng’s ear.
“Eldest Shixiong, how is Ding Ning, really?”
At this time, in White Goat Cave, many students were surrounding Zhang Yi and asking after Ding Ning’s cultivation.
“Very difficult.” Zhang Yi couldn’t help but look in the direction of the grass hut inside the gorge. He understood the feelings of these students. The doubt that many of them had harboured at the onset, had changed to anticipation. But he still explained honestly. “He opened his jade palace in the middle of the month. Based on the circulation of his energies, unless his cultivation progress is extremely steady, and he has no major obstacles in breakthrough just like when he reached Profound Understanding in half a day, he might be able to reach Energy Refinement today.”
Hearing Zhang Yi’s explanation, the White Goat Cave students around him were disappointed in various degrees.
In the silent grass hut, Ding Ning was peacefully cultivating.
The jade palace in the depths of his energy sea was completely lit up by the five-colored energy. The energy that flowed within his energy sea was starting to spill outwards from the jade palace to form a pillar of energy. This pillar slowly moved towards the highest and brightest spot on top of the energy sea in a slow and unusually steady manner.
That brightest space being the celestial aperture. At this time, the top of this energy pillar was just a thread away from it.
Just as the White Goat Cave students around Zhang Yi started to disperse, that distance of a thread disappeared under the movement of the energy pillar.
Ding Ning’s body shook slightly.
Energy sea, jade palace, and celestial aperture were completely connected. Like an endless waterfall, the energies flowed from the celestial aperture.
Without any languor or impediment, under the control of Ding Ning’s mental power, a portion of the energies circulating started to gather in a mystical manner. Immensely denser milky white physical energy had begun to precipitate in his body. The energy sea started to fill with this new kind of energy.
This was Energy Refinement Realm.
At this time, his cultivation was the topic of many discussions. Even Zhang Yi, who he was in the good graces of, had little confidence in his breakthrough. As for the students at the gates of Green Vine Sword School, they thought that this was absolutely impossible.
Yet, no one knew that, to Ding Ning, this was something inevitable.
This was something well within the scope of his plans, step by step.
So, this afternoon, when many people were still arguing over this matter, in this silent grass hut, Ding Ning had a quiet breakthrough.
Energy Refinement in a month.