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Chapter 65: A Good Sword
Gu Xichun and Xu Heshan did not recognize the dark-skinned youth that Ding Ning was about to encounter. From the other’s robes, they knew that he belonged to Green Vine Sword School.
However, all the members of the Green Vine Sword School recognized this dark-skinned youth, Yu Lian from Liuquan Commandery.
Liuquan Commandery had many kilns and this Yu Lian was the son of a kiln master. While he was of an ordinary birth, his progress was above average in Green Vine Sword School, and had first-class Energy Refinement cultivation.
Under everyone’s eyes, Yu Lian and Ding Ning walked slowly, separated by a vine wall. The end of their paths was the same exit where the two finally met.
Almost at the same time that Ding Ning saw this dark-skinned Green Vine Sword School student beside him, Yu Lian too saw Ding Ning. Their instincts were identical. They were rooted to their spot and gripped their swords.
Ding Ning was calm while Yu Lian had a hesitant gaze and appeared nervous.
This was not a competition that would finish in a day. There were none who did not intend to conserve their energy until the end. But then, he thought about how he had to rout an opponent a day and relieve them of their tokens; and how the other was the lately famous genius of White Goat Cave. If he eliminated the other, the teachers on the viewing platform would be very happy … When he up to here, Yu Lian’s hesitance transformed into a burning fire.
Without a word, he steadied his sight on Ding Ning and drew the sword from its scabbard.His sword was red all over and shone a jade-like luster.
“A good sword!”
Ding Ning stared at his sword and praised. “What sword is this?”
Yu Lian stilled slightly. Out of politeness, he responded softly. “Named Dark Fire, it comes from the Liuquan Commandery Secret Fire Sword Workshop.”
Ding Ning responded with a nod and held his sword horizontally, across his chest. In comparison with Yu Lian’s Dark Fire Sword, his remnant sword was only a third in length and looked pitifully small.
Each and every person thought he was preparing for a fight. Yu Lian too thought he was going to attack. Yet, the next moment, Ding Ning made a dash towards the opening in the vine wall to his side.
The viewing platform was thunderstruck.
Xu Heshan and the others stilled.
Ding Ning had chosen to run away.
While the rules of the sword trial allowed for escape, fleeing from a one-on-one battle like this was something very embarrassing and cowardly in the Qin Dynasty.
Gu Xichun stilled. Then his expression turned to one of mocking. “He doesn’t even dare to face a cultivator’s sword directly. It appears he is not as outstanding as you think,” he said, as he turned to look at Xu Heshan.
Xu Heshan frowned. Looking at the furiously fleeing Ding Ning below, he too was slightly displeased.
Yu Lian had least expected Ding Ning to turn around and dart. Even so, he was quick to respond. With a soft shout, he gave chase.
Ding Ning had only just reached Energy Refinement Realm but he already was first-class Energy Refinement. The two had only two minor levels between them. He came out much stronger and faster too, than the one ahead. With just a few jumps, he was within ten feet of Ding Ning.
Yes, people looked down upon runaways. But not being able to escape would invite more ridule.
Gu Xichun’s disdain grew.
But that very moment,something unexpected occurred. The vine wall next to Ding Ning and Yu Lian suddenly shook, and many vines sprang out at lightning speed.
Ding Ning did not pause in his steps. His remnant sword sliced and parried to cut the two green vines near him as he continued to charge.
Yu Lian was shocked. A layer of red flame suddenly appeared on the long red sword in his hand. He swung the blade around. A vine heading for him was cut away, revealing a burnt opening. Broken leaves burst out with a pop, and a thick vine hollered as it headed towards him.
Yu Lian knew the power of this kind of vine. His expression changed slightly. He poured a wave of physical energy into his sword.With a hiss, the red flames that had appeared on his sword completely disappeared. The sword increased dramatically in temperature, and the blade absolutely red, as though it had been left in the furnace for a long time.
He held up the sword in his hand, then suddenly stabbed. The red hot sword tip easily pierced through the thick metal-like skin of the vine near his chest. He pushed the sword in.
Many on the viewing platform held a somewhat frigid face for they recognized the first move in the Heaven Burning Sword Manual — the “Heaven Burning Candle.”
This was a powerful close-quarter sword technique. The user would fight within several feet. If one failed to dodge this swing, the sword would pierce through the lower body all the way upwards and to the head. Needless to say, it was a fatal move.
The sword jabbed through the thick incoming vine. Yu Lian appeared to be following through his move and use the sword to slice it open from the inside.
Yet, at this moment, Ding Ning abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned around!
A dot of inky green light flew from his hand, and cut towards Yu Lian’s wrist.
This was a turn of events that no one had imagined.
Yu Lian was stunned and enraged. He shouted in fury, dust rising as the earth cracked under him. His feet penetrated deep into the ground like two metal pillars.
At this time, several slender vines were quickly swimming towards his feet. While he was being attacked on three fronts, he remained calm. After making sure he could stand firmly in the next moments, he shook his sword and raised it to clash with Ding Ning’s incoming remnant sword.
While the people on the viewing platform could not hear the sound, they could see the surrounding hot area around his red sword explode.
The redness on the sword quickly disappeared, and the flame which had previously floated spread outwards. The thick vine that his sword had passed through quickly turned charred black and was on the verge of burning.
Ding Ning’s remnant sword cut through these flames that were both dark and hot. His physical energy that was channeled into the seals on his green sword gave rise to pure jasmine flowers. But due to the great disparity in their strengths, the scorching flames effortlessly obliterated the fragile flowers. He could feel pain from his arm due to the hot air, but still did not withdraw his sword. back. His blade and this dark flame sword crossed, but made almost no sound.
In this moment, his inky green remnant sword slid down against the body of the dark fire sword, like a slippery fish and cut towards Yu Lian’s fingers on the hilt.
A strong surge of disbelief swept across Yu Lian. Had the other practiced sword play a long time before he had started cultivating to react like this in this moment?
His face turned ashen. He forced a half turn with his sword in this moment.
A soft pop.
Ding Ning’s remnant sword was pushed back several feet.
Pop pop pop pop …
He heard whipping sounds around his feet as thin vines wrapped around his legs, stirring up dust when they were unable to drag him away.
Ding Ning’s expression was unusually calm. He stepped softly, clean white flowers once again blooming on his remnant sword, as he cut towards Yu Lian’s wrist.
If this was like usual, Yu Lian had many ways to avoid this sword, and could even fight back. But his sword was entangled with the thick vine. His body was nailed deep into the earth. If he lifted his feet, he feared he would be dragged away by the thin vines. He had no other choice but to abandon his sword ,otherwise, Ding Ning would cut off his hand with this strike.
Yu Lian released his sword. He trembled softly.
A soft clink.
Ding Ning’s sword turned in his hand. He caught the hilt of the dark fire sword, and flicked the sword out from the thick vine. At the same time, he flashed immediately to the side. As the scorched thick vine shot towards Yu Lian, he advanced along the vine wall. His remnant sword once again the remnant sword blurred and he managed to cut this thick vine in a few seconds. The thick vine fell at Yu Lian’s feet like thick pieces of rope.
With Yu Lian’s strength, he was able to break free of the thin vines at his feet. But he had no sword in hand. He could not win against Ding Ning’s sword just physically,, even if it was just a remnant sword. He was well aware, that if this were a real battle, Ding Ning would not have first cut up the thick vine, but killed him.
So he lowered his head with difficulty and in a trembling voice, said, “I lost.”
Ding Ning nodded. He did not speak and just panted as he waited for Yu Lian to give up his token.
At the viewing platform silence reigned.
Xu Heshan’s voice interrupted the calm. He looked at the still burning dark fire sword on the ground and started to clap. “The Dark Fire Sword from the famed craftsmen of Liuquan is a good sword. When physical power moves among the seals and the blade, it will ignite a hot flame. But in this battle, Ding Ning, with his remnant sword, performed better.”
Gu Xichun was frigid. He knew that Xu Heshan was targeting him with those words.
“Just a coincidence.” He looked coldly at Xu Heshan and said, “If there wasn’t a trap there coincidentally, Ding Ning would be the one defeated, right now.”
Xu Heshan stopped clapping and retorted, “Being able to use everything in the surroundings is a skill.”
Gu Xichun expressionlessly said, “But the majority of battles between cultivators will not be at such lucky places. Like ordinary battlefields, within streets and alleys, and even the Min Mountain Sword Trials. There are no shortcuts there. Compared to these lowly tactics, I believe more in absolute strength.”
Xu Heshan was not a person skilled in debating. Gu Xichun’s words angered him, but he could not think of any rebuttal.So he sank into silence with a dark expression.
At the side, the lively Xie Changsheng also sank into silence.
Xie Rou’s words that he could not defeat Li Lingjun’s retainer in the future greatly stimulated him. Ding Ning’s display just now robbed him of his mood to joke.
“He is outstanding, but what wreck of a sword is that? It looks so much worse than his opponent.” He couldn’t help but speak after a moment. “Does White Goat Cave not even have the money to buy a better sword?”
Hearing his words, Xie Rou shook her head. “The teachers of White Goat Cave naturally have their own intentions in giving him a sword like that. Also, do not be such a wastrel and speak of money, money, money each time.”
“Being able to spend money is not being a wastrel, spending money and not advancing in cultivation is being a true wastrel.” Xie Changsheng seemed to be talking to himself but also to responding to Xie Rou. He had no mirth on his face.
Translator ramblings: I had a hard time figuring out the length of the swords in this battle. If we assume the modern foot and Last Flower is two feet (60cm), the other sword is six feet (182cm) which is … crazy. If we go by the traditional foot, which is ~24cm, then Last Flower is really 48cm which is about 18 inches (1 1/2 feet). This is on the short end for a jian and then the other sword is 4.5 feet or 1.5 meters.