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Chapter 63: The Beginning of Elimination
Xie Changsheng took a deep breath. “Could you not always talk in this lecturing tone?” he said, in anger.
Xie Rou smiled, and her face shone. She looked challengingly at Xie Changsheng and said, “If you do not want to get lectured by me, at least surpass me in cultivation and beat me.”
Xie Changsheng balled his fists, his face slightly pale as he said angrily, “I will definitely surpass you.”
Xie Rou maintained her smile and said, “That is best. Otherwise, if you cannot defeat a retainer of Li Lingjun in the future, it will truly be embarrassing.”
Xie Changsheng hung his head and didn’t speak. Duanmu Lian on the stage had finished stating all the rules of the sword trial festival.
The majority of gazes gathered back on He Zhaoxi.
Of all the students participating, He Zhaoxi, Zhang Yi, and Su Qin had the highest cultivation, realm three second class and above. Zhang Yi and Su Qin might be closer to realm three first class compared to He Zhaoxi but the difference would not be very great. Also, the Thriving Withering Art that He Zhaoxi had cultivated might possess an unimaginable effect.
In terms of strength, He Zhaoxi, who had obviously spent time training his body, would be stronger.
Given the rules, predictably, He Zhaoxi became the most promising contestant.
However, amongst those attentively gazing at He Zhao Xi, Mo Chen was an exception. He was assured he would surprise everybody in this sword trial festival.
All the students participating in the sword trial festival started to follow the mountain path to the entrance of the valley.
No one checked if they were hiding food on them. In the next three days, all the people in the sword trial valley would not be able to see anything above them and would even get lost and make detours. However, the spectators could see their actions clearly from the platforms above.
Ding Ning walked in the middle of the group. The descending mountain path grew wider but, in the end, did not reach the bottom of the valley. What appeared in front of them was a cliff thirty meters tall. Hundreds of green vines hung down from the cliff.
Even though he had never seen Green Vine Sword School’s sword trial festival, Ding Ning could guess that all the students had to enter the valley through vines like this. Even a slight difference in the timing and the formations below would separate them.
Duanmu Lian, who too had walked to the cliff, did not waste words. He spoke sternly and coldly. “Everyone pick a vine and go down. Twenty breaths between each.”
“Be careful.” Nangong Caishu looked at Ding Ning and whispered worriedly. “Do not rush.”
Ding Ning knew the true meaning behind her words. So, he smiled slightly and said, “Same to you. If you cannot win, run. In a trial as long as this, no one knows what will happen in the end.”
Nangong Caishu pondered over the meaning of his words. Seeing the students ahead sliding down, she glanced at Ding Ning. “You first or I?”
Nangong Caishu looked at him. “I hope you will always be ahead of me.” she said, seriously.
Ding Ning smiled. “I accept your auspicious words.”
When it was his turn, Ding Ning was slow and careful.
He crouched down and grabbed the vine with both hands. He let his body hang down, and then his feet squeezed the vine like a bamboo pole as he slowly slid.
Looking at the figure slowly descending into the forest, Nangong Caishu, who was waiting behind him, had eyes filled with worry.
No matter what cultivation talent and comprehension ability he possessed, he would need time to practice some movements and reactions. Ding Ning’s movements were a lot clumsier than any other cultivator.
However, at the moment, the most difficult for Ding Ning was not appearing clumsy enough so as to conceal from the many spectators his extent of agility.
Today’s battle could not compare to the battle in the alley against the gangsters. This was his first step in formally appearing before Changling’s cultivators. He could not appear unrestrained.
His feet firmly landed. He made sure the grass below him could hold his weight before he started to observe the surroundings. From above, this valley filled with all kinds of giant vines appeared clear but was divided into a maze by many small trees and giant vines. Yet when he had truly landed here, and his feet touched the soft ground of the valley, he only saw thin mist in the surroundings.
This mist was not a normal white mist, but a strange light green one.
This was the kind of mist that didn’t obstruct one’s sight but had a peculiar ability to reflect light that made everything close by appear slightly distorted and hazy.
The surrounding vines seemed completely different now as compared to looking from above. From above, there seemed to be some empty spaces between the trees and vines. But standing here, amidst them, all he could see were dense trees and vines forming archways.
Total silence reigned in here. Those students who had come down about the same time as him should not be far, but he could not hear any footsteps. It appeared the formations here also blocked sound. This way, it would be difficult to avoid and pursue enemies through sound. The chances of fighting were higher, and this increased the difficulty of hunting.
Based on the detailed rules Duanmu Lian had stated, if one did not immediately leave here after entering the valley, it would break the rules. So, Ding Ning started walking towards one of the openings ahead. At the same time, he closed his eyes, and perceived with his mind.
He detected the primal energies of the universe here were chaotic. Disrupted by the absorption of the countless green vines and the special energies they released; the primal energies of the universe here drifted in the air like countless swords. This kind of setup might be useless to all cultivators above realm six. They could use the vital energy stored in their bodies to form a vital energy passageway with the primal energies of the universe. But to students of his level, this was sufficient.
When one looked down from the suspended viewing platforms, the entrance to the sword trial valley was filled with people. Because almost a hundred students had slid along the vines into this area of several miles, this area was full of people for the people watching from above.
There were four or five students that were moving in an area of several dozen meters. But they could not detect each other even at such close quarters. It was a greatly amusing scene.
Xie Rou’s gaze constantly followed Ding Ning.
At this time, a Green Vine Sword School student was less than thirty meters from Ding Ning.
This Green Vine Sword School student was called Zhao Qing. He was from Pinghu in the Zhao Lands. He had joined Green Vine Sword School in the eighth year of Yuanwu through the test; two years before Nangong Caishu. Even now, he only had Energy Refinement first class cultivation and, like most Green Vine Sword School students, still hadn’t been able to reach realm three.
But Changling’s cultivation places were stricter in their tests to the students from the regions of the Qin Dynasty who did not previously belong, such as the Zhao Lands, the Han Lands and the Wei Lands. Zhao Qing naturally had outstanding traits than ordinary Green Vine Sword School students in order to be able to join Green Vine Sword School.
The strength of his arms were naturally many times greater than a youth of his age. This was just an innate ability. His father had been a famed strongman in the Zhao lands. With extraordinary power in his arms, he could not just wield a sword but was also an adept swordsman that ordinary people could not compare to. So, he usually used a wide sword several times heavier than ordinary long swords, and his technique was the forceful Wild Wind Sword Manual.
When an extremely heavy sword had the speed of a wild wind, the power was naturally amazing. Thus, in Zhao Qing’s inner mind, he did not think he had no hope at all. He had experienced the sword trial festival once before. So, he knew this was not a competition for speed. Ergo, he was even more cautious and slower than Ding Ning.
Just as he slowly walked over a small archway, countless green vines suddenly stretched out soundlessly from the trees behind him, closing in though his rear. When these green vines were just a few feet away from him, the wary Zhao Qing finally reacted. With a shout, his right hand pulled out the wide sword he wore on his back and swung it backward.
Many soft pops sounded. The numerous green vines were smashed into pieces. But before he could heave a sigh of relief, another green vine stabbed out from the forest on his side. The cold light emanating from this green vine differed from those that had previously appeared.
Zhao Qing realized something and his expression changed. He once again let out an urgent scream. His vital energy flooded liberally into his wide sword. Several straight seal lines lit up on his wide sword, and a snow-white sword energy shone from the body. The sword energy at the tip of the sword was especially strong, making one feel as though he wasn’t using a sword, but an axe.
With a bang, the sword and the vine crossed and gave off a metallic sound. His body shook slightly. He managed to cut this obviously different green vine with a stroke. Yet at this moment, he felt a wave of cold.
He instinctively looked towards his feet. The fallen leaves by his feet suddenly leapt up as though they were boiling. Many small vines wrapped around his ankles. Their pull caused his body to lose his balance. He feel on the side.
The broad sword in his hand flashed again and he sliced towards his feet. With multiple pops, he cut through the vines at his feet. But at the same time, he could not block the many shooting towards him from the front. He was pulled dozens of meters along the ground and then smashed onto a tree wall. More and more vines tightened around him. He could not even breathe, much less wave his sword; he turned crimson.
Zhao Qing sorrowfully wailed.
He felt extremely discontented. However, he knew that the only thing he could do right now was to remain motionless and not struggle.
“Why is this year’s sword trial festival much harder than in the past?” Unbidden, a question came to his mind.
The screams of many people rang in the sword trial valley, but they were all blocked off by special formations. When one looked down from the suspended viewing platforms, the forest around the mouth of the valley was now a writhing green sea.
Many people faced battle in a panic. Branches, leaves, and pieces of vines flew through the air. There were also people who were unable to move and accepted having failed at the start. Many of the other Green Vine Sword School students had the same thought as Zhao Qing.
Why was this year’s sword trial festival so hard?
In the past years, this kind of powerful vine usually called the vine king, would not appear in an area like this. This year, they appeared to have encountered more attacks, and every attack point seemed to have a vine king.
Di Qingmei, who was standing at the edge of the viewing platform, had an imperceptible smile at the corners of his lips. He naturally understood the shock and puzzlement these students felt because he had been the one behind the change.
Regardless of the difficulty, it was fair to everyone. However, this made sure the people he wanted to win, like He Zhaoxi, would have a better chance.
On the other side of the viewing platform, Xie Rou’s brow furrowed slightly. Compared to elsewhere, Ding Ning’s path seemed relatively calm. But at this moment, she detected a minute movement from the wall-like vine frost next to Ding Ning. These vines which had been hanging softly suddenly became hard as though some power had been instilled in them. They were like numerous little swords that suddenly pierced out.
Translator Ramblings: Whenever someone goes into detail on the rules, they are just asking for people to find loopholes.