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Chapter 77: A Battle of Pure Swordsmanship
Shi Xia felt that the clean white flowers blooming on Ding Ning’s remnant sword heldan unusually tragic beauty.
At Ding Ning’s calmness, he forgot, for the nonce, that he was being compelled by Su Qin. Gradually, he started to believe that this was a fair fight.
He solemnly attacked.
A clear sound rang through the air. The blue sword light attacked Ding Ning’s abdomen.
Ding Ning simply held the sword horizontally rather than swinging down to block.
The blue sword was not as straight as the majority of sword manuals in the Qin Dynasty. As Shi Xia’s body and wrist moved slightly, this blue light appeared to twist in the air like a curving green vine. When the sword tip was close to Ding Ning, it was stabbing towards Ding Ning’s neck.
“This is the famed Vine Tangling Sword of the Green Vine Sword School.”
Xie Rou softly explained to her brother when she saw Shi Xia attack. “This sword manual’s sword moves are unique, and tangle like the sugar stirring stick you played with in childhood. When one masters the sword moves and reaches realm five, their flying swords will also be like this, and their opponents will have difficulty determining the true target of the sword tip and edges.”
Xie Changsheng nodded solemnly.
Just like this attack, appeared to be stabbing towards the abdomen, but then twisted to move upwards. If the other had attempted to block the lower part, they would be too slow in detecting something was amiss. If this were a battle of flying swords, just a fleeting moment of a thought could determine life and death.
He knew that Xie Rou was deliberately telling him this so that he would not only focus on the result of battle, but also the sword moves.
The Xu Heshan, beside the pair, raised his eyebrows slightly. His eyes flashed.
As the two of them talked, Ding Ning had already blocked this sword attack.
Ding Ning’s Last Flower sword rose up to block in front of his throat. He accurately used the ridge of his sword to block the tip of Blue Frost Sword.
Then, he counterattacked.
He jumped past Shi Xia, the remnant quickly pierced towards Shi Xia’s throat as he swung his arm.
Shi Xia did not panic. He had no time to pull back his sword but he moved his entire arm. The Blue Frost Sword drew a curve and cut back towards Ding Ning’s arm. Ding Ning’s arm pulled back slightly and his sword’s edge grazed the edge of Blue Frost Sword.
A spark flew.
Shi Xia took half a step back, and his maneuvers intensified. He started to swing and slash in front of himself. It appeared as though countless twisting green vines appeared before him.
The space in front of Ding Ning was immediately filled with inky green sword shadows as well. This patch of sword shadows were a foot from him. Because the viewing platform could not hear the relatively quiet sound of the swords colliding, it caused them to feel that the two hadn’t truly made contact in the last few minutes.
However, they knew; the layers of sparks rising in the air like dandelions, said otherwise.
“Shi Xia seems to be suppressing his cultivation. He doesn’t want to take advantage of his strength. The two are purely fighting based on skill.” Xie Changsheng frowned slightly and whispered.
Xu Heshan spoke with admiration. “Ding Ning is quite good. The Vine Tangling Sword of Green Vine Sword School focuses on the tangling part. If one’s sword touches the other, it is easy for the opponent to be tangled up and lose their grip on their swords. Especially when Shi Xia’s Blue Frost Sword has a freezing effect, and an even stronger adhering ability. Ding Ning is using sword edge against sword edge, or the blade against the sword tip. Even facing Shi Xia’s slashes, he does not allow the other’s sword to stick to his.”
“His sword is also very good.” Xie Rou nodded and said softly. “While broken, it is not weak once the physical energy is channeled in. The sword is short but is suitable for the complicated sword moves of Wildfire Sword where one has to rapidly switch at short distances.”
“I take back my words that this is a wreck of a sword.” Xie Changsheng solemnly watched as Ding Ning fought and said, “But Ding Ning is completely on the defense. How can he win?”
“If he has enough patience and doesn’t make mistakes, his opponent might make mistakes.” Xu Heshan said demurely,
Shi Xia’s respect grew.
Looking at Ding Ning’s calm gaze and increasingly precise and skilled sword moves, he felt that he was a sparring partner. He knew he had to use more powerful tactics in order to win against Ding Ning. He inhaled deeply. When he attacked again, his left hand, which had been furtively gathering power, hit the hilt of the Blue Frost Sword with great speed.
A force passed along the sword hilt and exploded along the blade.
The frost on the Blue Frost Sword had grown thicker and become a hard shell of frost over time.
Now, the shell broke apart. The sharp shards shot out.
These frost shells were sharp and thin and could rival the fallen leaves that He Zhaoxi had swept up previously. If one was hit by any of the frost shell shards, it would be no different from being struck with an actual thin sword.
The pupils of many on the viewing platform contracted. This sword was clearly the key to victory.
Ding Ning was still calm.
Zzt zzt zzt zzt … multiple soft sounds.
The Last Flower sword in his hand quickly swept across these frost shells. He did not use much force, and wielded the sword speedily. While these light and thin frost shells were sharp, they were very crisp and easy to shatter. All the frost shells shooting towards him split apart immediately.
In the next moment, he gave a low bellow. His sword swept horizontally and smashed onto the incoming Blue Frost Sword.
Shi Xia stilled slightly. Previously, he had been forcing Ding Ning to cross with his sword. He hadn’t imagined that Ding Ning would use the same sword move against him. He sensed something awry. He too shouted as he hurriedly channeled physical energy into his sword. Another layer of frost formed on the Blue Frost Sword.
With a bang, the physical energy on the two swords collided. A wave of air mixed with innumerable thin pieces of frost exploded. Shi Xia turned with familiarity, twisting his wrist to twine with Ding Ning’s sword and pull it out of his hand.
But in this moment, Ding Ning took another half step forward. He tensed his body, gripped his sword hilt tightly and then put all his weight forward.
Shi Xia felt as though there was an enormous stone pressing on his sword, so he could not turn it.
With a hiss like ice being shaved, Ding Ning’s sword was cutting down rapidly along his sword. The thick layer of frost that had just formed on his sword immediately scattered.
The blue frost sprayed onto Shi Xia’s clothes and face. Shi Xia’s eyebrows and hair turned blue. Feeling a wave of cold, he pulled his sword back and jumped to retreat.
Ding Ning’s sword left his sword, but then it shook and slashed. The fine white flowers formed from physical energy and the blue icy frost accelerated with this vibration, rushing in a wave onto Shi Xia’s face.
Shi Xia couldn’t help but close his eyes. In this moment, he felt a cold sword essence heading for his lower abdomen. He shouted, and swung his sword towards the cold sword essence.
But that cold sword essence quickly retreated and moved to his left side in a flash.
Shi Xia forced his eyes open and swung his sword again. But all he saw was a patch of white flowers moving towards his left ribcage.
The inky green sword Ding Ning held had hid all of his physical energy. It moved silently in the air, like a shadow, now to his right ribcage.
His pupils contracted violently and his body suddenly froze.
Ding Ning’s small inky green sword tapped his shoulder. He then pulled the sword away, took a step back and held the sword still.
On the viewing platform, many finally took a breath.
A wave of cheer sounded from where the White Goat Cave disciples were gathered.
“I hadn’t imagined a victory like this!” Xie Changsheng took a deep breath. He was sure if this was him, he might have not been able to dodge Shi Xia’s attack, much less evince such an enjoyable counterattack to win.
Xu Heshan and Xie Rou were silent.
While they had hoped that Ding Ning would win, when Ding Ning won with such a perfect performance in this battle of pure swordsmanship, it still found them in a great shock.
Shi Xia’s mind was slightly blank. The disbelief at being trounced by Ding Ning was profound. Several moments later, he recovered.
He looked towards his right arm. He knew better than anyone, if Ding Ning had followed through with his blow, even without physical energy, it would have been enough to cut down his right arm.
“I lost.” He bowed with sincerity to Ding Ning. “Junior Sect Brother Ding Ning, your swordsmanship is refined, and exceptional.”
“Principal Di, are you satisfied with Ding Ning’s performance?” Xue Wangxu asked of Di Qingmei. He was sitting on the viewing platform, wearing a thin blanket, and smiled as he stroked his beard.
Di Qingmei wanted to remain calm but his eyebrows trembled uncontrollably. In the end, his expression was black.
“Do not have such an ugly expression.” Xue Wangxu looked serenely at him and softly added. “Regardless of your opinion of me, White Goat and Green Vine have merged. In the future, perhaps, you and I would gain face because we have a disciple like him.”
Di Qingmei’s eyebrows suddenly trembled. He turned suddenly to look at Xue Wangxu.
Xue Wangxu smiled faintly and looked towards the white clouds in the sky. His voice was laced with sadness.”White Goat Cave is fated to not exist, the more you care about the competition between these sects; the more you remind others that White Goat Cave still exists in truth. You should change your perspective. Ding Ning is my student, but he can also be your student.”
“If you are not open-minded enough to hold this part of the world, how can you hold these mountains and move mountains from further away?” Xue Wangxu said, nonchalantly after a pause.
Di Qingmei’s heart suddenly beat rapidly. His hands uncontrollably trembled.
Translator Ramblings: Xue Wangxu is too nice to help someone who dislikes him and took over his school.