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Chapter 68: Divide and Conquer
“He has good fortune.” Gu Xichun slowly spoke from the viewing platform.
It was noon.
Under the many watchful eyes, Ding Ning was the last to enter the area marked by the four pillars of smoke.
The moment he stepped in, Ding Ning sat down without any regard for his appearance. He put down the meat he was carrying. Panting hard, he leaned against a small tree.
His profuse sweating instantly soaked his clothing.
Gu Xichun thought, this time, the group would agree with him. If Ding Ning had encountered even one more armored lizard along his journey, he would not have arrived in time and would have been eliminated.
Yet, the moment he had said the words, he felt inexplicably icy gazes around him.
He frowned, but quickly grasped the reason that had warranted such emotions. He sneered within.
The endeavor and resolve of the weak could evoke admiration and sympathy in many. However, usually, the result would remain unchanged.
White Goat Cave and Green Vine Sword School only had a third of their members reach the designated area. Two-thirds were eliminated at the entrance and during the journey. In his view, White Goat Cave and Green Vine Sword School’s collective strength was weaker than Shadow Mountain Sword Cave’s.
Xue Wangxu was reclining on a cushioned chair on the edge of the viewing platform; his eyes half-lidded as though almost asleep. IHAd he been privy to Gu Xichun’s thoughts in this moment, he would object.
The strength of the sect was not determined by the number of realm three and four cultivators, or even realm five cultivators. The strength of the sect was determined by the strongest cultivator of that sect. Sometimes, just one true expert was enough.
The autumn wind was cold. When one’s clothes were soaked with sweat, they were heavier and used up more energy, making one more susceptible to illness.
But Ding Ning’s performance still won respect from most people on the platform.
He attempted to make a fire after breathing heavily for a while. He prepared enough dry leaves and branches. Then he rolled a ball of dry grass and hit his sword against rock to create sparks before blowing on the grass. After a few breaths, the kindled fire burned brightly.
The fire was strong, warm, and almost smokeless.
He took off his soaked clothing, and hung them on cut vines to dry. At the same time, he put the two heavy pieces of meat onto the fire to roast.
The servants of Green Vine Sword School had finished preparing food. They carried meal boxes in baskets of vine and put them on a path close to the viewing platform. At this time, the scene inside the sword trial valley appeared calm. Many students started to take cover, resting and recovering their strength. Many students who were watching had thoughts of going to eat when exclamations sounded. All those walking towards the vine bridge to the mountain path stopped in their steps.
Two figures met near a pillar of smoke. These two were people who could win in the end.
One of them was tall and handsome. Su Qin of White Goat Cave.
The other had an ordinary body, with no extra flesh on his body. His movements were filled with indescribable energy. This was the one who killed the armored lizard in two blows, He Zhaoxi.
The two were just separated by a patch of trees and walking towards each other. None of them showed any intentions of stopping to rest.
If these two people met, who would win?
The breathing up on the platform turned heavy.
When the trees between them thinned out, He Zhaoxi and Su Qin saw each other at the same time. The two stopped about thirty meters away from each other.
Su Qin frowned slightly. His right hand slowly landed on the hilt by his waist. His finger joints were slightly pale.
He Zhaoxi’s eyes narrowed slightly. He slowly pulled out the yellow sword on his back. But in the next moment, Su Qin and all the spectators on the viewing platform were stunned. He did not prepare to attack, but cut down a piece of the armored lizard meat.
Like Ding Ning, he had taken meat from the back of the armored lizard. Because he was much stronger than Ding Ning, he cut down double the amount of meat Ding Ning had. After entering this area, he had not made a fire so he was still carrying the raw meat on his back. The piece was still dripping with blood.
“I recognize you. You are Su Qin, your cultivation should be above realm three second class,” he said, as he looked at Su Qin’s cold demeanor. Then he put the bloody meat, half the size of his fist, into his mouth and started to chomp.
“What is he doing?”
Many on the viewing platform took a deep breath at his action. With a pale face, Xie Changsheng turned to look at Xu Heshan and Xie Rou. Thinking of the appearance of the armored lizards, he felt like retching.
Xu Heshan and Xie Rou shook their heads.
With He Zhaoxi’s personality, he probably would not use this method to disgust or terrify his opponent.
Su Qin’s gaze sharpened. He looked at He Zhaoxi who was taking big bites of meat and mocked. “I know there is a way in which cultivators can eat large amounts of raw meat but still digest well without getting ill. It is an intense exercise; constant and intense exercise where one makes ones energies and organs strong, and the body temperature rises … but even if you have such an idea and have to fight me, you see me and think of eating meat. Do you feel that I will be so patient to wait for you to finish eating?”
He Zhaoxi continued to cut and eat meat as he said, “I feel there is a better choice than fighting you now.”
Su Qin sneered. “What better choice?”
“I do not want to waste time. The less time I spend in the first five realms, the more time I have to use in the realms after realm five to have breakthroughs. I do not want to waste too much time on this minor trial.” He Zhaoxi spoke calmly. “If I can resolve something in a day or two, why should I wait until the third day/”
Su Qin stilled. He thought of a certain possibility.
He Zhaoxi looked at him and said, “Two lions hunting sheep is faster than one lion hunting sheep.”
Su Qin’s brow rose. The coldness in his eyes didn’t lessen but a smile floated on his face.
“So you suggest we hunt together?” He Zhaoxi had caught his interest..
“I do not know how many would be left before nighttime …” He Zhaoxi continued to eat raw meat. “…maybe we can decide the victor now.”
Su Qin’s lips rose slightly and he glanced towards the sky. “I will accept your offer because I do not have much patience either. Also, I do not like being a spectacle.”
He Zhaoxi looked at the woods in front of him and nodded. “With this as the border?”
Su Qin was unperturbed. “With this as the border.”
He Zhaoxi did not say anything else. He continued to eat meat as though he was going to consume all of it in one sitting. At the same time, he turned and started to run.
Su Qin also turned and slowly advanced.
“What are they doing?” Xie Changsheng asked, his face cold.
Even from this far a distance, he could see that He Zhaoxi was not running because he feared Su Qin, but because the pair had reached an agreement in their conservation just now.
“Divide and conquer.” Xu Heshan said, slowly and took a deep breath as he looked at Xie Changsheng.
Xie Changsheng was stunned before he reacted.
Yes, if they were able to hunt and clean out all other opponents in this circle, then this sword trial would end right now rather than in three days .
“But this is also dangerous,” he said, with an ugly expression. “Constant battles will diminish their strengths. They will be prone to injuries and people with strength lesser than theirs can put up a tough fight.”
Xu Heshan nodded, glanced at him spoke softly. “You are correct. But Su Qin is conceited and He Zhaoxi confident.”
Xie Changsheng inhaled deeply.
Theoretically, Su Qin and He Zhaoxi’s union had nothing to do with him, and it would greatly lessen the times of boredom in the future. But at some unknown point in time, he had started to hope that Ding Ning would go further. Inwardly, he even hoped that Ding Ning would win in the end.
A White Goat Cave student who was harvesting wild yellow oranges from an orange tree seemed to suddenly feel something. He took a quick step and reached the rear of the orange tree.
When the person appeared, his expression relaxed and he instinctively called out. “Senior Sect Brother Su Qin.”
In the next moment, he saw Su Qin’s hand holding a sword and he froze.
“Since this is a fair trial, there must be a fair competition between members of the same sect. Apologies.” Su Qin said as swung his sword.
With a soft sound, the thin mist in front of him was pushed away to make a clear path. A purple sword light jumped out of his left sleeve.
He was unlike ordinary cultivators as he wielded the sword with his left hand. His sword was very long, a foot longer than the ordinary longsword, and his sword which flashed with purple flames of light was very flexible.
As this sword beam reached the White Goat Cave student, the White Goat Cave student blocked in shock and parried the sword beam. However, the sword beam suddenly curved, forming a semicircle and hit the neck of the White Goat Cave student with a snap.
The White Goat Cave student took several steps back and fell to the ground, instantly, unconscious.
Su Qin nodded in apology, took the two tokens hanging from this White Goat Cave student’s waist and continued to advance.
At the same time, elsewhere, there was a thunderous explosion. A visible shockwave spread outwards as though a passage was created in space. A figure flew backwards and smashed into the vine wall behind, unable to climb back up.
In front of him, behind the spreading wall of air, He Zhaoxi put away his sword and continued to sprint. He had eaten all the raw meat he was carrying. This moment, his stomach was bulging. As he sprinted, his intestines even croaked like frogs.
Translator Ramblings: Su Qin follows utilitarianism.