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Chapter 64: The Sword Of A Cultivator
On the other side of the viewing platform, a hint of joy flashed through Gu Xichun’s eyes. His gaze fixated on Ding Ning the entire time.
The bet at the gates of Green Vine Sword School’s gates was interrupted by Xie Rou but he had said many things. Ding Ning had reached Energy Refinement in a month. Xie Rou had cut her hair and made an oath in public. Stories about the goings on of these few days would spread through Changling. The more remarkable Ding Ning appeared, the worse his performance in the stories would become. An abominable reputation, for a cultivator who had not formally stepped onto the stage on a dynasty’s level, would give him innumerable disadvantages.
So, when he saw this year’s sword trial festival was so difficult, and that a trap had finally appeared on Ding Ning’s path, he was filled with joy. In his view, Ding Ning would not be able to overcome this obstacle. Ding Ning would be eliminated right at the entrance of the sword trial valley.
Li Daoji’s demeanor remained unchanged. Looking at the strange movements in the vine wall next to Ding Ning, he thought to himself, you were so confident. You cannot let me see you being dragged up to hang right at this first obstacle.
Ding Ning sensed the movement in the vine wall much earlier than anyone else.
His mental power could only cover several meters around him and was only minuscule threads floating in the wind. The range was pitiful compared to the mental power of realm five and above cultivators However, compared to other cultivators of similar rank, his mental power threads were finer.
Zhao Qing, who was not far from him, had only sensed something when those vines were just a few feet away from him. He had detected the movement of these vines just as they started. As he felt them, he perceived an even more powerful wave of power being channeled into a completely different vine deep in the vine wall.
With his true strength, Ding Ning could attack the vines that had yet to finish gathering power with his sword. But he knew if he did this, he would arouse suspicions from the spectators and bring himself great trouble. So in this moment, he could only mentally flash through the many techniques in the Wildfire Sword Manual before reaching out to grab the hilt of the Last Flower sword.
Three vines were just a few feet away from his body now. This was a reasonable distance. Hence, he attacked.
The broken sword moved like lightning. Because he was in realm two, many of the straight cracks in the body of the sword gave off soft hums as they filled with physical energy. The seals usually hidden in the inky green body also lit up. White sparks flowed in the seals and then surged upward. Several pristine jasmine flowers seemed to rise from the inky green sword body.
Suddenly, grief inundated Ding Ning’s eyes. He did not retreat, not even an inch. He attacked with his sword like there was no path behind him. The sword formed afterimages at his side.
The three vines were sliced.
Xie Changsheng seemed to have spotted something monstrous. His mouth opened to the extreme, giving a clear view of his throat.
Xie Rou’s eyes quickly filled with the light of joy.
A wave of deep breaths of disbelief sounded on the viewing platform.
The smile that had just risen on Gu Xichun’s lips froze in an ugly manner.
At this moment, the vine wall next to Ding Ning suddenly shook violently. First, dozens of cracked leaves spurted out. Then, a thick vine flashing with metallic light plunged towards Ding Ning’s chest like a sword. Its thrust was so powerful it created visible waves.
But Ding Ning did not retreat. Instead, he advanced.
There was no path behind him. Numerous vines sprung out of the falling leaves behind him. Since he was advancing, he had managed to put some distance between him and the vines. His Last Flower sword once again weaved a dense patch of afterimages As he moved forward, the bark of the vine flew like a carpenter’s wood shavings fluttering by his side.
The thick vine, which was stronger than him, could not restrain him.
Amidst another wave of shocked gasps, this thick vine suddenly exploded into white silk threads that gently spread out in front of him.
Ding Ning calmly turned and swung his sword. He cut through the many vines that had sprung out of the ground with just a strike.
With that, the vines stopped appearing. He put away his sword and continued forward.
In an inconspicuous corner of the viewing platform, Xue Wangxu once again pulled out several hairs from his white beard.
He had heard from Li Daoji that Ding Ning had a profound understanding of the Wildfire Sword and could use it well. Before this sword trial festival, he had not desired to watch him practice. At his age, people often amused themselves by preserving some anticipation towards things; for, this way they seemed more interesting.
Even so, Ding Ning’s mastery of the Wildfire Sword was beyond his expectation!
Li Daoji’s visage remained changed, but his eyes were filled with pride. He mused. How many could master these moves to such a degree in such a short span of time?
As the thick vine Ding Ning had cut into white silk exploded, Gu Xichun’s face turned from pale to scarlet, as though someone had slapped him. He was much stronger than the other students on the viewing platform, so he knew better than most what had transpired in that short interval.
Ding Ning used multiple sword moves such as slicing and drawing to cut the three vines. Then he used more refined moves such as parrying, raking and smashing to destroy the hard outer skin of the vine. Thus, it was incapable of winding around his body. Those simple horizontal and vertical cuts, once the tip of the vine split, were all sheer accuracy.
In the end, the impression he left was that the only reason he could overpower the vines easily, despite being weak was because he was adept in the complicated sword techniques.
But how was this possible!
Ordinary cultivators would not be able to reach this level even if they spent one year just practicing it alone.
How could he reach such mastery in a month!
“This is impossible!”
Many disbelieving voices chimed, as though they were voicing his thoughts for him.
Xie Changsheng was one of those shouting.
“It is impossible.”
Xie Rou’s face grew even brighter. She glanced at Xie Changsheng.”Unless he is a genius and monster like some members of Min Mountain Sword Sect and Spirit Void Sword Sect,” she said, seriously.
Ding Ning had walked a few dozen steps already.
In this area closest to the entrance, the number of traps seemed to have lessened. Most of the students who were as deep as he, were not ambushed by vines immediately.
However, shock still prevailed on the viewing platform.
Each year, there were all kinds of geniuses who could qualify as the dozen of direct disciple of Min Mountain Sword Sect and Spirit Void Sword Sect. This could include those who had yet to touch a sword. However, when they did, even if it were their the first time, the sword would be as nimble as their own fingers and arms.
But such people and students like them were few and far between. Such geniuses were simply legends.
The dozen who were picked out of the countless young from the entire Qin Dynasty, multiple vassal counties, and other regions were a world apart. Sect students like them, had to first win in sect competitions before they could represent their sect to attend the sword trials of Min Mountain Sword Sect or Spirit Void Sword Sect. Needless to say, these select few were not without benefits. Not only were all the resources of these two elite places at the disposal but were also allowed entry to many a restricted areas.
Even if they were one of the people who had managed to win at the sword trials after rounds of elimination, they could only receive a brief chance to study in Min Mountain Sword Sect and Spirit Void Sword Sect by the grace of the emperor. If they wanted to advance, or enter the restricted areas inside Min Mountain Sword Sect and Spirit Void Sword Sect, they had to participate in the internal competitions.
Those that could cross this great distance would only get close to the true direct disciples… how could the spectating students believe that Ding Ning had the same talent as those direct disciples?
Gu Xichun wasn’t able to believe it, so he found a reason he could accept.
Li Daoji or Xue Wangxu must have spent great amounts of time on Ding Ning. This Wildfire Sword was complicated in its forms but wasn’t one of those especially profound sword manuals where the synchronization of physical energy or vital energy was hard to understand.
Ding Ning advanced calmly.
Many on the viewing platform focused on Xie Rou and Gu Xichun. While they had a hard time believing, they could not help but wonder- if Ding Ning really did possess such terrifying talent, Xie Rou’s oath would have formed a special connection between her and Ding Ning. What would Gu Xichun, who had dismissed Ding Ning at the mountain gates and felt he and Ding Ning were not equals, do?
Feeling the gazes on him, inexplicably, Gu Xichun’s emotions became hard to control. He could not resist a retort., “No matter how nimble the vines are, they cannot match a cultivator’s sword.”
Xu Heshan’s brow furrowed deeply.
Young people were naturally more spirited.
He felt that Gu Xichun did not understand Ding Ning at all. It was understandable for him to say what he did at the gates before he met Ding Ning. Gu Xichun was the best student of Shadow Mountain Sword Cave in the last few decades. He reached Profound Understanding in a month, and then only took three months to reach realm two, Energy Refinement. Of all the students present today, Gu Xichun should be the strongest by a significant amount.
Xu Heshan thought that Ding Ning had proved his mettle, regardless of everything else, by reaching Energy Refinement in a month, and with the amazing swordsmanship he had evinced just now.
“It is boring for you to say such a thing.” He couldn’t help but speak out.
He looked at Gu Xichun. “From what Ding Ning has already displayed, he surpasses the majority of us present. You dismiss him and you dismiss all of us. Also, you should not speak so decisively because if he is equally outstanding when facing the swords of cultivators, you will have a harder time.”
Xu Heshan’s words were very rude already. Gu Xichun could not restrain the little rage from surfacing.
His lips moved slightly but he did not speak.
At this very moment, he and the other spectators saw Ding Ning and another student drawing closer and about to meet.
Ding Ning was about to face the sword of a cultivator.
Translator Ramblings: Ding Ning’s sense of being lowkey is not being lowkey at all.