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Chapter 66: A Method No One Thought Of
To Duanmu Lian, the fall of a high-ranking disciple at the hands of Ding Ning was no pleasurable matter. Yet, at this moment, his face actually softened ever so slightly.
Although Ding Ning’s performance was exceptional, his cultivation was limited. That said, it was no surprise that his constitution was obviously worse than all the White Goat Cave and Green Vine Sword School disciples. While he had managed to grab the opportunity and defeat Yu Lian, an opponent like Yu Lian should be Ding Ning’s limit. Among Green Vine Sword School’s remaining disciples, there were at least a dozen stronger than Yu Lian. Thus, regardless of the final outcome, at least this wine shop youth would not win in the end.
Watching as Ding Ning took the wooden token and hung it by his waist to advance, Duanmu Lian pulled out a blue flag on the border of the viewing platform and waved it towards the valley below.
As he waved the flag, four columns of thick smoke started to rise from the sword trial valley. The smoke grew denser, four tangible pillars rose into the sky.
Ding Ning first felt the smoky presence in the wind, and then the four columns of smoke came in sight.
His brows gradually furrowed.
The area marked by the smoke was about a third of the way through this long valley. Based on the fact that the valley had to be traversed in three days, this target was understandable. However, also based on the rules of the sword trial festival, people had to go into the area marked by the four pillars of smoke before midday. Otherwise, they would be considered failed. But on the second and third day, people could start travelling at midnight. However, they had started near noon today so they would be rushed on this first day.
Travelling fast would use up more energy and more disadvantageous to him. He estimated the time he would need in order to reach the target.
However, right at this moment, he sensed something else unusual.
Just as he was preparing to quicken his pace, he abruptly turned. The moment he turned, even before the majority of people on the viewing platform could react, a wolf-like shadow sprang out of the vine wall behind him.
Gauging the power in its pounce, Ding Ning rooted himself in the ground. He leaned back slightly; his physical energies were channeled into the remnant sword in his hand. Countless white flowers bloomed on the remnant sword and cut towards the abdomen of the black shadow. The blade then swept upwards along this black shadow.
No blood spilled.
There was only a line of bright sparks that rose behind the path of the sword.
“What is it?”
The appearance of the black shadow had left most of the spectators bewildered. Moreover, these black shadows had appeared only after the four pillars of smoke had risen. It felt as though the cages that imprisoned these things, opened as the smoke rose.
The black shadow landed heavily on the ground, creating a spray of dust and fallen leaves.
The eyes on the viewing platform did not see this thing clearly but Ding Ning already frowned and spoke quietly to himself. “So it’s you … I feel a lack of appetite thinking about eating your meat.”
The dust and falling leaves had gradually settled.
At last, the disciples on viewing platform had a clear view. They exclaimed in unison.
Lying inside the crater was an enormous jet-black giant lizard ravenously glowering at Ding Ning with bloody red eyes.
Many mountains were home to Giant lizards, but none had such hard scales. The scales of this giant lizard before Ding Ning, looked like iron. Each scale was the thickness of two metal coins and this lizard appeared to be covered in a special layer of black armor.
This was an armored lizard unique to the Ba Mountains.
In the Ba Mountains, this kind of armored lizard had another name, the rotting lizard. True to its name, this lizard could eat anything rotten. Its saliva and gastric fluids contained a variety of potent toxins.
Ding Ning was confident of slaying a giant lizard like this. But when he thought about having to eat this, which would waste a lot of time and be very tiring, he did not feel any joy.
Exclamations rose on the viewing platform.
Several members of Green Vine Sword School were focused on a place a few hundred meters away from Ding Ning where a similar lizard had appeared in front of He Zhaoxi.
“This is the armored lizard.” On the viewing platform, a solemn Xu Heshan turned to look at Xie Changsheng.
“It appears that Energy Refinement Realm cultivators cannot cut apart their armor unless they have especially sharp swords.” Xie Changsheng frowned deeply. “Even its eyelids are armored … it seems that its open mouth is the weakness?”
“If you really think so, you are done for.” Xu Heshan shook his head and said, “Its teeth are much harder than its armor. It can bite faster than it can move. Also, the force with which it bites is even more astounding than its four limbs. Even if you stab its throat, it can still bite your sword. Many swordsmen who do not understand it, assume that its open mouth is its weakness, and that would be their fatal flaw.”
Suddenly, Xie Changsheng turned cold. He could imagine how terrible an outcome cultivators like him would have if they lost their swords facing an armored lizard such as the one before him now.
“I hope that Brother-in-law will not think of using the sword to stab its throat like I did,” he said, sincerely.
As he spoke, He Zhaoxi, the best student of Green Vine Sword School, impassively advanced- as though a snarling beast like this did not exist.
The armored lizard in front of him seemed to feel his dismissiveness and gave out a strange howl. It jumped up, just like the armored lizard that had ambushed Ding Ning.
Many pupils contracted.
A layer of blue light suddenly appeared on He Zhaoxi’s skin. Each muscle under his skin seemed to activate a terrifying wave of power. The earth under his feet soundlessly sank down. He leaped; his body instantly appeared above the armored lizard’s head. He pulled out the long sword he carried on his back and cut down.
His long sword was a unique dry yellow, like a withered wood sword. Yet, the sword fell on the head of the armored lizard like a giant mountain.
Everybody could see a ball of air explode above the armored lizard’s head. When this armored lizard had landed on the ground, and sank down several inches, another circular wave of air formed.
Xie Changsheng’s eyebrows rose, and his lips jerked slightly.
This was a brute tactic lacking all finesse. He could imagine that with just a third of the force in this blow, this armored lizard’s head was completely liquified.
He Zhaoxi was too strong!
At the same time, the armored lizard Ding Ning faced had also acted.
A gust of wild wind rose on the ground. The fallen leaves fell to two sides. The armored lizard’s abdomen was touching the ground as its limbs moved rapidly and slid forward like a black blade on the ground.
For any cultivator, a distance of three inches from the ground around him was always a dangerous place. They had to bend to face the attacks from the ground and it was more difficult than standing straight and defending. Also, Ding Ning’s sword was much shorter than others’.
Xie Rou held her breath.
Ding Ning had already swung out his sword. He bent down and the sword in his hand headed clearly for the mouth of the armored lizard.
She almost didn’t dare to look at the following scene. Yet in the next moment, her eyes widened, and she unconsciously let out a shout of joyful surprise.
Ding Ning’s sword did not stab into the throat of the armored lizard.
His sword only passed by the lips of the armored lizard. A bright crimson long tongue fell down.
The seemingly unaffected yet ferociously advancing armored lizard seemed to be hit on the nose with a giant hammer. Its body suddenly froze, and it jerked backwards.
Blood and noxious saliva spewed out of its mouth.
Xu Heshan and Xie Changsheng had only just darted their gazes over to this side. Their thoughts of how Ding Ning should have acted were still in their minds. But what had just passed before the duo’s eyes left them stunned.
This was something they had not even thought of. Ding Ning had sliced the long tongue while the armored lizard had not retracted in time.
Even Li Daoji was stunned. He had not expected Ding Ning would use the sword in this manner.
Under many shocked gazes, Ding Ning’s remnant sword that was moving upwards suddenly stopped and then shook once, violently.
This moment was akin to using a ruler to slap a fly that had landed on the paper window.
With this fierce tremor, a multitude of tiny, fine droplets of blood sprang from the sword alongside clean white flowers.
The minute crimson droplets originated from the severed tongue of the armored lizard; the white flowers from the response of his physical energy and the seals on the sword. These tiny droplets of blood and the white flowers splashed towards the eyes of the armored lizard.
The armored lizard instinctively closed its eyes.
But Ding Ning’s sword was too close to its eyes. Before it could close its eyes, more of the tiny droplets of blood and white flowers had fallen into its vulnerable eyes.
Many more drops of blood appeared in its eyes.
With a wail, it started to claw recklessly and rapidly in front of it.
Ding Ning took a deep breath.
Numerous small and clean white flowers appeared once again on his inky green sword. He used his fastest speed to swing the sword and deliver the killer blow.
A strike right, a strike left. His sword moved at a rapid rhythm as it cut at the same positions on the right and left sides of the lizard’s neck. The armored lizard was temporarily blinded. It clawed in front of it, but was always a beat late. When it clawed left after being sliced on the left of its neck, the sword had already landed on its right. When it reached right, the sword was already on the left side of the neck.
As Ding Ning continued to swing, cracks appeared on the scales on the sides of its neck. Blood had started to splash out.
Waves of shocked inhales rose on the viewing platform. People who had been focused on He Zhaoxi turned to Ding Ning due to these inhales.
When they saw the scene, their bodies shook.
“This killing has no beauty or any technique. It is like cutting wood….” Xu Heshan’s face was pale. He inhaled deeply and then slowly said, “Who would have thought that an armored lizard such as this would be chopped down like a tree?”
On the other side, He Zhaoxi used one more blow to kill that armored lizard. He started to take the meat from the dead lizard. Ding Ning appeared very weak compared to He Zhaoxi.
But the weaker he appeared, the more shocking this scene was.
Translator Ramblings: Giant lizards exist in China but the biggest modern one is the Komodo which doesn’t cover the former Qin Dynasty lands. But maybe their range was greater in the past.