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Chapter 62: Rules of Justice
The sight of He Zhaoxi darting over slowly warmed up Duanmu Lian’s heart.
The Green Vine Thriving Withering Art that He Zhaoxi had cultivated was the strongest method in Green Vine Sword School and had special abilities. In his view, the other’s understanding of some sword manuals was not something the students of Green Vine Sword School and White Goat Cave could rival.
Today, this youth who was outstanding in all areas would shine with brilliance and soar the fame of Green Vine Sword School.
“It is acceptable to use your time well usually, but it is impolite with so many people waiting for you.” Although he was lecturing, his face lacked the typical sternness.
He Zhaoxi only bowed and apologized before making his way to stand beside some Green Vine Sword School students.
Near him, a cautious Green Vine Sword School student unconsciously gripped his sword hilt. This was Mo Chen.
The sun grew stronger, and the morning mist around Green Vine Sword School dissipated. Everybody followed Duanmu Lian and the rest through all of Green Vine Sword School and onto Heavenly Bamboo Peak.
The valley where the sword trial festival was to be held was under Heavenly Bamboo Peak. There were about five or so mountains between Heavenly Bamboo Peak and the slightly shorter Metal Sword Ridge. All these mountains were more than a thousand feet apart. However, Green Vine Sword School had used chains to connect them before training vines to grow over them. Centuries later, these peaks were joined by countless green vine bridges that could withstand even carriages passing over.
At the confluence of these vine bridges was a vast viewing platform. The platform even had some spirit grasses and flowers planted around the perimeter. From a distance, it looked like a heavenly mansion floating in the air.
Di Qingmei, the principal of Green Vine Sword School stood on a point closest to the Heavenly Bamboo Peak, and flew over, his blue robes fluttering. Seeing Duanmu Lian leading Li Daoji and others up the stairs, his gaze did not linger. He only nodded slightly when he saw He Zhaoxi appear in his line of sight. Then he saw Ding Ning next to Nangong Caishu. Looking at how this person appeared younger compared to all the White Goat Cave students, he knew that this should be the wine shop youth called Ding Ning. His brow furrowed slightly when he recalled that this wine shop youth had reached Energy Refinement in a month.
But regardless of how astounding his talent was, he had coincidentally learned from the students studying in White Goat Cave that this wine shop youth had an average cultivation method. In his mind, Ding Ning was just a young beast sans any threat. No one knew if this cub would grow up. What he had to worry about was the aged but fierce old beast with especially sharp claws.
So, his gaze passed over Ding Ning to land on Xue Wangxu who was at the back.
He bowed to Xue Wangxu from across the distance. “White Goat and Green Vine are merging into one. The atmosphere of this sword trial festival is significantly different. Cave Master Xue has reached realm seven and brings glory to both places of learning.” he said, plainly.
At these opening words, Xie Changsheng couldn’t help but murmur from where he was observing at the back. “This principal is very smart. After White Goat Cave joined Green Vine Sword School, there is no more a White Goat Cave to speak of. If this was anyone else, they would not mention White Goat, and only Green Vine Sword School. But he has yielded orally. In any case, he will be in charge of White Goat and Green Vine in the future. As long as one benefits tangibly, he can compromise verbally. Otherwise, if something were to happen, Xue Wangxu’s cultivation might bring him embarrassment.”
As he muttered, Xue Wangxu smiled slightly and said, “Principal Di is polite. I am but an idle old man and have come to watch the spectacle. If there is something you want White Goat Cave students to do, just command Li Daoji.”
The words were polite, but meant something else to Di Qingmei’s ears.
The meaning was, there was no need to talk to him but to Li Daoji. He could be in charge of Green Vine Sword School and White Goat Cave, but was an equal with Li Daoji in rank?
His anger surged, but his demeanour didn’t betray any.
“The sword trial festival is a tradition of our Green Vine Sword School. Today was the day our Green Vine Sword school’s founder, Qi Linfeng, reached realm six, Lifesource Realm, and managed to successfully forged his lifebond sword, Green Vine Wood Sword. So, each year on this day, our Green Vine Sword School holds this ceremony to commemorate our ancestors. The victors will receive rewards from the school, the school will also arrange for them to cultivate in other places so they will gain the finest experience.”
He then leisurely spoke a few more opening remarks before nodding at Duanmu Lian. “Cultivators do not bother about trifles but respect rules. Now Duanmu Lian will explain the rules of this sword trial festival.”
“The sword trial valley is under our feet. This valley is filled with green vines and the Green Vine formation unique to our school. The paths ahead are hard to find. Though they all appear the same, some green vines will attack cultivators. Some are even vine kings with a power greater than first class Energy Refinement cultivators. If you are trapped and unable to break free, remember not to panic and stop moving. The vines will stop attacking. Otherwise, they will tighten their and your life will be in danger if not saved in time.”
“All the disciples who are participating will use different entrances and must traverse the entire valley to reach the other side. We forbid groups of more than two from travelling together. If you meet, you either fight to determine the victor, or flee.”
“The trip across the valley has a time limit of three days, and you are not allowed to leave early. The entire area will be divided into three. Each day, at noon, we will send a smoke signal. Each day you must reach the area with smoke before sunset. You must stay at least until midnight in that area. and then choose whether to rest or travel after …”
Duanmu Lian was explaining the rules in a clear and loud voice. Though Ding Ning had heard them before he still kept his ear to the ground.
“Because White Goat and Green Vine have merged, there are double the students that usually participate, so the difficulty is greater. Each student will have a seal token on them before they enter. Each day, they must fight at least once and capture one token. Otherwise, even if they reach the designated area, they would still be considered to have lost.”
“There are no ready foods in the resting areas this year, only some beasts in the sword trial valley. You must hunt on your own if you want to eat and replenish strength. Some of the beasts are not weak, and you must ponder before hunting.”
No sooner had the words fallen, than a roar of discussion sounded in the field.
“This is quite detrimental to the students of lower cultivation.” Hearing the rules which were unlike the past, Nangong Caishu turned and looked worriedly at Ding Ning. She whispered, “It is especially detrimental to you because you have not cultivated for long, and not trained much physically. These rules will have use up your strength faster, and you will have a harder time keeping up. Because you have to fight every day and need to spend energy to find food … the later it gets, the more detrimental it becomes.”
“Rules like this are more beneficial to cultivators like He Zhaoxi who are good in all areas. No one can say this is unfair.” Ding Ning nodded and whispered, “Because this trial is to pick the strongest all-rounder.”
Nangong Caishu went silent.
Sometimes, the so-called rules and fairness was like this. They appeared to be neutral, but in truth, were biased towards a few and detrimental to others.
“There are ways around rules.” Ding Ning could see her displeasure. “We live in a world filled with rules. We need to try and survive under the rules.” he said, sincerely.
“Older Sister, this is very disadvantageous towards Brother-in-law, but the crux is that these are very fair rules.”
Xie Changsheng heard Duanmu Lian speak and then turned to look at Ding Ning who was focused and talking to Nangong Caishu. “Right, what do you feel about Brother-in-law?”
Unexpectedly, Xie Rou was not angry. She said disdainfully as though she saw through his scheme. “I have faith in him. He could be one of the final three.”
Xie Changsheng was still for a moment before shouting furiously. “You changed so quickly! At the start, I was the one who had faith in him, and even bet he would win. You looked down on him. Now you have more confidence than I do? He had just reached Energy Refinement. White Goat Cave has Zhang Yi, and Su Qin. Green Vine Sword School has He Zhaoxi. Nangong Caishu is not weak either. Why do you feel he would be the top three?”
“That inference was before I met him.” Xie Rou glanced at him. “Naturally, it is different now that I have met him.
Xie Changsheng was almost speechless. “What is different?”
Xie Rou looked deeply at Ding Ning in the distance and said, “His eyes are full of confidence, and not the pretentious kind … so he appears very calm and at ease. This is just like buying something. Some people cannot afford yet pretend to be able to. But he has the air of the truly wealthy and can afford no matter how expensive.”
Then, Xie Rou unhurriedly added. “I started to watch business in our family’s many shops from the age of four. I do not know how many businessmen I have come across. I am certain my eyes are not wrong.”
Xie Changsheng slapped his forehead “Is this business?” he asked, dejectedly.
“The logic is the same.”
Xie Rou looked at him and shook her head. “You are too small. You do not understand many things. Perhaps, you would understand in the future.”
Xie Changsheng’s face was pale with anger. “Where am I too small?”
“I’ve seen you bathe before; you are small everywhere!” Xie Rou said, disdainfully.
“That was in childhood!” Xie Changsheng trembled in anger and couldn’t speak.
“Just a child, what do you know,” Xie Rou said, solemnly. “Do not be smug about this. I will explain to Father when the time comes about things you do not understand.”
“Also …” She paused to turn and gazed profoundly at Xie Changsheng “… I am a woman. I will not have to pick up the burden of the family on my shoulders in the future. Father will let me do some wilful things. But you are different. You are a man.”
Translator Ramblings: Poor Xie Changsheng, never going to escape his older sister.