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Chapter 42: A Different Conference and Sword Trial
“Third place: Gu Xichun. Predicted cultivation: realm three first class. Cultivation place: Shadow Mountain Sword Cave.”
Zhang Yi looked at the name on the third page, and in shock and puzzlement,”How is this possible?”
Xie Changsheng shrugged and said, “We didn’t believe it when we first saw because ranking fourth is Dugu Bai. We didn’t believe he would be placed above Dugu Bai who has realm four second class cultivation.”
“How is it possible?” Shen Yi asked in bewilderment. Even he, who came from Guanzhong, knew that the Shadow Mountain Sword Cave was not especially famous.
“The old researchers of Hongyang Academy are known to write long paragraphs without writing one character wrong. They will not make such elementary mistakes.” Xie Changsheng glanced at him and said, “Even during the sword trial festival, we did not feel he had any special presence. He had ambitions to win at the Min Mountain Sword Trials, but he did not have any special kind of presence. So, he must have had a special opportunity after the sword trial festival.”
The ongoing discussion among these young people and the name on the third page brought a frown on Xue Wangxu’s face as well. He said, “The Shadow Mountain Sword Cave has a special sword wall.”
He immediately caught the attention of Nangong Caishu and others.
Xue Wangxu continued, “That sword wall is said to be left behind from the You Dynasty. Regardless of the truth of the matter, that item is better than all the other things that Shadow Mountain Sword Cave has. In the history of Changling, only a few people of Shadow Mountain Sword Cave have managed to successfully comprehend sword manuals and cultivation methods from it. And all of them went on to become grandmasters.”
Zhang Yi was stunned and asked, “Cave Master, you mean that Gu Xichun managed to comprehend something from the sword wall?”
Xue Wangxu glanced at him and asked, “Then you think there are other possibilities?”
Zhang Yi said timidly, “His vital energy cultivation has not increased. He couldn’t have obtained some powerful spirit pill … there doesn’t seem to be any other possibility.”
“Brother … Ding Ning, why do you not care?” Xie Changsheng looked at Ding Ning in shock. He had unconsciously wanted to say brother-in-law but he immediately changed after the first word. Ding Ning had not shown any special emotion after the initial surprise and was flipping forward.
Ding Ning, calmly without raising his head, said, “This is unrelated.”
Xie Changsheng misunderstood and spoke with slight displeasure. “While you may not encounter people, I really want to see you confront him during the sword trial and defeat him.”
Ding Ning saw Dugu Bai’s name on the fourth page and flipped to the fifth. He said at the same time, “If I encounter him, I will defeat him.”
Xie Changsheng, Shen Yi and the others stilled.
“Good, you are domineering.” After several seconds, Xie Changsheng laughed. He clapped and said, “Such is your personality. I like your unreasonable confidence.”
“Fifth place: Chen Lichou. Predicted cultivation: realm four third class. Cultivation place: White Dew Institution.”
“Sixth place: Xu Linghua. Predicted cultivation: realm four third class. Cultivation place: Xu Marquessate Establishment.”
“Seventh place: Yi Xin. Predicted cultivation: realm four third class. Cultivation place: Mind Chamber Sect.”
Ding Ning calmly flipped through and quickly reached the last page. By now, as he read, Shen Yi’s face had grown paler.
This book of talents created by the Hongyang Academy only listed the top one hundred and twenty. The predicted cultivation only went below realm four after the first seventeen. Among the participants of the Min Mountain Sword Trials, sixteen of the first seventeen were in realm four!
Shen Yi had always thought that his cultivation progress was fast. But when he came across a book like this one, he truly felt that he was nothing compared to the Qin Dynasty.
Originally, he had thought that Ding Ning was ranked too low at seventy second. However, now it appeared that ranking in this book was already a great accomplishment.
“How is it, do you feel any pressure?” Looking at Ding Ning who still had a calm expression, Xue Wangxu smiled slightly and said, “Compared to previous years, there seem to be more powerful people.”
“There is no difference.” Ding Ning closed the book. He turned to ask Xie Changsheng. “Why have I never heard of a book like this in the past?”
Xie Changsheng smiled slightly and said, “Even the oldest of researchers has to eat. The academy has to spend a lot each year. I heard that the silver that the treasury has sent down has decreased greatly this year so they wanted to do some business and make up for it. This thin book is worth a thousand gold.”
Ding Ning frowned slightly and said, “There have been no disasters for multiple years. They can clearly give more, but why are they decreasing?”
Xie Changsheng was under the impression he was prepared, but he had never considered this question. He stilled.
Nangong Caishu and Xu Heshan exchanged glances. They had never considered this question. However, when they heard Ding Ning mention it, the two of them who came from military families felt there was something amiss.
“It should be because of the Deer Mountain Conference.”
After pondering for several seconds, Nangong Caishu said, “The agreement between the Qin Dynasty with the Chu, Yan and Qi dynasties has reached its time. In three months, at the Deer Mountain Conference the alliance will be renewed … Even if the Qin Dynasty is powerful and prosperous now, the Holy One may be in the realm eight, andthe three dynasties will not dare to not form an alliance, we have to prepare for war to avoid any changes.”
“The three dynasties dare to fight?” While Xie Changsheng felt that Nangong Caishu was correct, he couldn’t help but laugh, “The Chu Emperor is amidst women all day, the Yan Emperor is famous for his cautiousness. The Qi is dangerous, and their ghostly armies are hard to defeat, but their country’s power cannot compare to the Qin Dynasty. If we really fight, we can wear them down.”
Ding Ning looked at the proud Xie Changsheng, shook his head and said, “This is not a question of whether they want to fight.”
Xie Changsheng immediately stilled.
The people present were not stupid and did not miss the meaning in Ding Ning’s words.
“Little … “Zhang Yi spoke. He wanted to say Little Sect Brother out of habit, but he suddenly realized that Shen Yi was the present little sect brother. He changed his words. “Junior Sect Brother, you feel the Holy One will have war?”
“If you and three other people of the same cultivation fight for something, but your cultivation suddenly becomes a realm higher than the other three, will you take the chance to threaten them and force them to give up something?” Ding Ning looked at Zhang Yi and asked.
Zhang Yi thought and said naturally, “This does not seem good … no.”
Zhang Yi’s answer rendered everyone speechless.
“So I say you are needlessly sentimental,” Ding Ning said. “You will not, but others will.”
Nangong Caishu frowned and said, “Yes, if the Holy One is really in realm eight, whether to fight depends on his desires, and not like before when it depended on the other three dynasties.”
“Your understanding is always great, and you are a waste being just a pure cultivator.” Xue Wangxu, who had not spoken for a time, looked emotionally at Ding Ning and said, “This time’s Deer Mountain Conference will be very different from before. There will be great changes. This year’s Min Mountain Sword Trials will be immensely different due to this small book. Many of the people in this book will not be around by the time the Min Mountain Sword Trials starts.”
Shen Yi understood Xue Wangxu’s initial words, but did not understand the later parts. He stilled and said, “The Min Mountain Sword Trials is just half a year away. Most of the people here are in realm three. Their cultivation will not change greatly in such a short time. Why will not many people be around when the time comes?”
“You are just not as good.” Xie Changsheng looked disdainfully at Shen Yi and said, “If you are on this book and you see people you feel are not as good as you ranking above you, will you accept it or will you challenge them? If you say some things, and suffer a great loss, will the loser have any face to attend the Min Mountain Sword Trials?”
Shen Yi’s eyes widened. He finally reacted. Which young genius wasn’t proud? Unless it was someone like Dugu Bai who was very far away, who would accept this? Thinking about the repercussions of this book, he couldn’t help but say in shock, “This book of talents is akin to a book of challenge. Many people will not resist challenging those in front of them … so it is akin to the preliminaries having started for this year’s Min Mountain Sword Trials.”
After saying these words and understanding the disdain in Xie Changsheng’s words, Shen Yi looked at Xie Changsheng and Ding Ning. He said honestly, “I am not as good as Senior Sect Brother Ding Ning.”
Xie Changsheng snorted. He was too embarrassed to say more. He turned to Ding Ning and said, “This is why Caishu called us together to visit Cave Master and see you because this is detrimental to you. If this starts early … you have less time to cultivate. Even if you decide whether you will accept the challenge, this is troublesome and you will waste time arguing. You will also have a bad reputation.”
Ding Ning shook his head and said calmly, “I will not have a bad reputation because I will not refuse the challenges.”
Xie Changsheng, Nangong Caishu and the others stilled.
“Apologies, I will use you as an example.” Ding Ning looked at Shen Yi and said. “Cultivation doesn’t always have to be based in meditation. I will not refuse other people’s challenges but I can be a profiteer and win some things from other people.”
Shen Yi thought of the Three Yang Grass he had found at great cost after his defeat. He was not angry and his eyes lit up.
Xue Wangxu chuckled. “Such an interesting idea. Ding Ning, you finally know to respect your teachers, and that I am bored if there is nothing going on. Also, the people ranking near the fight will be too embarrassed to challenge you?”
Ding Ning smiled slightly and said, “The more I win, the more glory you will have.”
“You feel you are certain to win? Does your name also mean ever-winning?” Xie Changsheng frowned as he said. Then he laughed. “But I like your unreasonable confidence.”
Translator Ramblings: In another deviation from history, there seems to be paper widely available to make the books. However, in the Qin Dynasty, people mostly used bamboo scrolls and the invention of paper. The Qin Dynasty existed around two centuries before paper was invented and produced on a mass scale.