This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 76: Lips Like Spears, Tongues Like Swords.
There was no time to celebrate, or rather, Ding Ning did not feel any joy because his gaze had been calm this entire time. He sensed something and looked towards the forest behind He Zhaoxi.
The light mist that had recovered abruptly contorted. Su Qin’s confident and at ease figure slowly emerged from the mist.
“Spectacular, truly spectacular.”
He smiled as his gaze took in the displeased faces of Nangong Caishu and He Zhaoxi He clapped and praised. “Indeed, this battle has been spectacular, but the most spectacular is the result. Who would have known that the strongest of Green Vine Sword School, He Zhaoxi, would be defeated by a newly joined little sect brother of White Goat Cave?”
He Zhaoxi turned and looked directly at Su Qin. He said, “Had I known, I would have fought you previously.”
“Really a pity.” Su Qin smiled unconcernedly and said, “I feel some regret as well. At first, I thought that you were fighting Zhang Yi here. That way, I could take care of the only threat as well.”
Right from the moment he had appeared, from his gaze, Nangong Caishu discerned that Su Qin harboured no good intentions towards Ding Ning. At Su Qin’s words, she couldn’t help but coldly say, “Attempting to take advantage of others’ weakness is a gentleman’s conduct?”
Su Qin glanced at her. “Gentlemen know to make use of the resources around them. Those skilled in battle utilize the situation. Only the reckless attack an enemy at their peak.”
“I know I have not read as much as you,” Nangong Caishu said angrily, “…but this is not a fight between cultivators of different enemy countries, but a trial between members of the same sect.”
“Since we are at loggerheads, why waste words?” Ding Ning said calmly.
Su Qin originally wanted to argue further with Nangong Caishu but was blocked by Ding Ning’s words. He wasn’t angry. He smiled slightly and looked at Ding Ning. “In reality, I admire your personality. However, we have been on different sides ever since the mountain gates, so we have disliked each other every time we have met.”
Ding Ning returned the smile and said, “Senior Sect Brother is not insincere.”
Su Qin’s smile gradually faded. He said, “You used the opportunity of your opponent having no vital energy, and also used the power of a pill. You also used the resources around you. Do you have the confidence to face my sword right now?”
Suddenly, a hurried voice sounded abruptly through the thin mist. “What is this, disciples of the same sect should support each other. White Goat Cave and Green Vine Sword School are now one, but even among those who cultivate in the same place, people of the same year and different years, people who cultivate together or usually do not, have different degrees of closeness. In a trial like this, one should first face the other Green Vine Sword School, how can you say thus about this little sect brother?”
A figure also rushed out along with the voice.
Su Qin’s eyes turned cold as though his eyes had turned into ice.
Ding Ning’s smile did not change. He bowed to the figure that had rushed out and said, “Eldest Sect Brother, how come you are here too?”
On the viewing platform, Xie Changsheng sighed in relief. Zhang Yi, who had rushed over, did not appear to be making trouble for Ding Ning.
Xu Heshan, next to him, also relaxed slightly but he still looked serious. While He Zhaoxi, Nangong Caishu, and Ding Ning had fought for a long time in this place, the sound blocking formation was still in effect. That Su Qin and Zhang Yi were able to find their way here, meant that He Zhaoxi’s power was astounding and created that much noise. The other Green Vine Sword School and White Goat Cave students hadn’t made their way over most likely because they wanted to avoid the calamity. They felt they did not have adequate strength, so hid further away.
He felt pity that He Zhaoxi was defeated here and couldn’t win in the end. But from another viewpoint, this also showed how difficult it was for Ding Ning to win against He Zhaoxi.
Zhang Yi glanced over Ding Ning’s disheveled and bloodied clothes. His eyes filled with apology. With self-blame and shock, he said, “I hadn’t thought it was Little Sect Brother, and am a step too late. From Su Qin’s words, you won?”
Ding Ning coughed softly and said, “I took advantage. If this was a fair battle outside, it would be uncertain.”
At these words, He Zhaoxi frowned. “I was not taken advantage of. You won, I accept the loss.” he said, seriously.
Su Qin’s expression grew colder. He looked at Zhang Yi and spoke slowly. “He Zhaoxi is already defeated, if we take care of these two people, you and I will be the top two of this sword trial festival. You really want to protect them?”
Zhang Yi cast him a strange look. “How is a temporary victory as important as feelings between sect members?” he said, matter-of-factly.
Su Qin sneered. “If I do not want to listen to you and steal their tokens here?”
“Then I will do my best to stop you.” Zhang Yi replied in all seriousness.
At this time, Ding Ning suddenly interrupted. “Eldest Sect Brother, who is stronger between you and Second Sect Brother?”
Nangong Caishu suddenly wanted to laugh.
First, she felt that Zhang Yi was very interesting, and found that the rumours were not unfounded. He was, indeed, forbearing and an elegant gentleman, but quite pedantic. Second, when Ding Ning said ‘Second Sect Brother’, he had emphasized the word ‘second.’ Thus, the appellation sounded completely wrong.
Zhang Yi also noticed that this title wasn’t quite right. His expression was awkward and his brows furrowed. Yet, his figure moved towards Ding Ning and Nangong Caishu, to shield them behind him.
Su Qin glanced icily at Ding Ning and Nangong Caishu. Then he turned and left.
“There are many enemies still, I do not want both of us to lose. But based on the sword trial festival rules, moving in groups is not allowed. Zhang Yi, I do not believe you will be able to protect them in the next two days.” His frosty and murderous voice wafted out of the thin mist and into the ears of Zhang Yi, Ding Ning and others.
“Junior Sect Brother, you are venting your egotistical anger. Take heed of Senior Sect Brother’s words, being conceited of oneself and jealous of other’s talents is a taboo to cultivation!” Zhang Yi worriedly shouted towards Su Qin’s back.
Su Qin’s figure simply disappeared into the mist. No response was heard.
Ding Ning and Nangong Caishu couldn’t help but exchange a glance.
“Eldest Sect Brother, are you sincere?” Ding Ning asked, skeptically.
Zhang Yi turned and looked oddly at Ding Ning. “Of course I am sincere. Little Sect Brother, why would you ask this?”
“It seems that Senior Sect Brother is truly a gentleman,” Ding Ning said, with a smile. “I am a lowly man doubting a gentleman. I thought that Eldest Sect Brother was deliberately inciting him.”
Zhang Yi was shocked. “I truly hope that he can correct himself. Otherwise, his future would be hard to predict. Why would I intentionally anger him?”
“One sees a person’s adulthood from when three years old.” Ding Ning’s eyes showed a hint of emotion. “I fear a person’s personality is hard to change.”
He Zhaoxi did not want to lose time, especially when he had lost. He had lost some prizes, so he had to treasure time even more. He looked at the string of tokens hanging from his waist. His eyes flashed slightly and he started to take off his robe.
Ding Ning and Zhang Yi stilled at his actions.
“What are you doing?”
Ding Ning looked at He Zhaoxi who had taken off his outer robe, his upper body exposed.
“Your robe is tattered and you are wounded. The nights in the mountain are cold and hard to pass. It would be improper if the robe is damaged any further. I am leaving as it is and will have a change of clothes on the outside.” He Zhaoxi tossed his outer robe to Ding Ning.
Ding Ning smiled awkwardly. It seemed that he had overthought. He Zhaoxi was not man of strange habits.
“Even if you want to give me clothes, you did not need to take it off in front of me. Be considerate of the girl around.” Nangong Caishu said, with slight displeasure as she looked at He Zhaoxi.
He Zhaoxi’s face turned slightly stiff. He argued softly. “I thought you would turn and not look. That would be more convenient than me finding a place to take off my clothes. Also, I do not want to waste time.”
“Why should I turn around?” Nangong Caishu glanced at him. “Your body is pleasing to the eyes.”
He Zhaoxi’s face grew stiffer. A rare flush appeared on his face.
He coughed lightly. He couldn’t think of any response. After a pause, he turned and appeared to flee into the vine forest.
“They say that lips are spears that fend off ten thousand swords. Miss Nangong, your words have let me witness this today.” Zhang Yi’s face was slightly taut, unable to relax. Then he too started to walk in the direction whence he came. He softly said, “Based on the rules, we cannot travel together. Little Sect Brother, in the next two days, I might be nearby, but you have to be careful.”
When Zhang Yi’s figure disappeared into the thin mist, there was a sound of something flying through the air. A slightly warm White Goat Cave robe flew out of the mist towards Nangong Caishu.
“Miss Caishu, you and Little Sect Brother helped each other. Your wounds are more serious than Little Sect Brother. If you do not want to give up, I will give you this outer robe to keep you warm should you continue. I hope you do not mind.” Because of the formation, the voice was barely discernible.
Nangong Caishu stilled slightly. When she received this robe, she first felt grateful. Then, when she thought of how Zhang Yi might have quickly taken the robe off, covered in a thin mist, she couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
Ding Ning’s lips couldn’t help but curve. He deliberately shouted in the direction Zhang Yi had left. “Zhang Yi Senior Sect Brother, what about you being half-naked? Many people on the viewing platform can see!”
An exclamation sounded, and then a faint voice. “This really is … must find someone nearby to fight … ask for something to cover myself …”
Ding Ning imagined the Green Vine Sword School students seeing the half-naked Zhang Yi charging out and couldn’t resist laughing.
“You have to be careful. I should also be nearby.”
“The boundary of being in other people’s company can be large or small … as long as you do not want to leave, since He Zhaoxi has already been eliminated, I think that your Green Vine Sword School’s teachers would not force you into elimination because of this.” he said, softly.
Then Ding Ning’s smile faded. He nodded at Nangong Caishu and slowly chose a direction.
Nangong Caishu also nodded. She put on Zhang Yi’s robe. Because it was too large, she felt as though she was wearing a costume. Even her hands were hidden in the sleeves. Her wounds were painful but she still felt happy. She thought, regardless of the result this time, she would be very happy.
Editor’s note: I so wanna ship HZ and NC. NC is really badass, bullying the mighty and perfect HZ.
Translator Ramblings: Zhang Yi is like the eternal optimist, and blind to people’s faults while offending them at the same time.