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Chapter 44: Fight Over Position
“Word is it is Chen Liufeng, ranking thirty seven, and Fan Wuque, at thirty five.”
Zhang Yi was a gentleman. While he feared Xue Wangxu would be angry and was in a rush, after taking two steps, he still asked, “Is there any matter with the shop? How about telling your aunt?”
Ding Ning shook his head and said, “No need.”
With Zhangsun Qianxue’s cultivation, nothing in this small alley could escape her perception. While the porridge on the stove had not boiled, this was fine.
The Xie Family was a tycoon of Guanzhong, and Xie Changsheng usually threw gold around like it was dirt and cared greatly about appearances. So at this time, there were two grandiose carriages waiting in front of Xue Wangxu’s small courtyard.
The horses were blue wind-chasing steeds bred in Longxi Commandery. Their hides shone, void of any impure color. The sides of the cabins that were adorned with white jade and gold foil looked grand and majestic.
Xue Wangxu and Shen Yi were already in one of the carriages. Seeing Zhang Yi impatiently pull Ding Ning over, Xue Wangxu laughed in pleasure.
His life was worth it to have such students in his old age, rushing just for his momentary fancies.
Xie Changsheng had arranged well. The cabins had wine and food. Once Zhang Yi and Ding Ning boarded, the drivers of the two carriages immediately sent the carriages off at their fastest speed.
Ding Ning grabbed a piece of dried bread and tore it to eat. He asked Zhang Yi, “Where are the two fighting?”
Zhang Yi said, “Chrysanthemum Hill next to Little Zhou River.”
“That’s not far.” Ding Ning asked, “What feud do the two have?”
The Little Zhou River was a wild river in the south of Changling. The tall slopes on the river banks were like the hillsides. They were usually used for goat herding. In autumn, the two shores would bloom with wild chrysanthemums attract many admirers.
There were some old stone platforms that were used in the past by the military to pass on information.They were now serving as viewing platforms. For the cultivators of Changling, this place was a great setting for a public battle. People on both shores could have a clear view of the battle.
“I only know that Chen Liufeng is an exceptional student of Moon Sea Sword School and cultivates the Blue Sea Tide Sword. Fang Wuque’s teacher is Tian Hanyang of Orthodox Heaven Sword School, and should cultivate the Stone Grotto Sword,” Zhang Yi said apologetically. “I fear we will only know after arriving about the grudge between them.”
The book of talents created by the Hongyang Academy considered many factors in their ranking. The two sides fighting this time, Chen Liufeng and Fang Wuque, were only ranked thirty seventh and thirty fifth. However, Ding Ning, who had won the sword trial festival, gained attention along with Xue Wangxu, and also broken a cultivation record, only ranked seventy two. Nangong Caishu and the others did not rank within the top one hundred. This thirty seven and thirty five were existences that most young people of Changling looked up to usually.
Though it was early in the morning, numerous carriages were parked on the hills on either side of the Little Zhou River. The carriages that came in later were unable to get close towards the stone platforms.
Seeing that the carriages he had sent to get Ding Ning, Xue Wangxu and the others still nowhere in sight, Xue Changsheng, on the hill, became slightly restless. He said, “So many people!”
Nangong Caishu glanced at him and said, “It is because of Hongyang Academy’s little book. If not for the little book, there would not be so many people watching the fight. With the appearance of this little book, many unrelated young geniuses suddenly seem to be related. The people on the book want to see what strength number thirty seven and thirty five possess. They want to understand more. The people not on the book want to see why they are not on the book, and the disparity.”
“They are here!” At this time, Xu Heshan’s expression grew joyful when he saw the two carriages that had been sent to Falling Parasol.
“At least they are in time.” Xie Changsheng ignored others and shouted towards the two carriage drivers who could not get close. “Over here!”
At this time, there were many young geniuses and people of prestigious families that had been sent to watch on both shores, but not many were as outstanding in appearance as Xie Changsheng. So Ding Ning easily heard Xie Changsheng’s voice and spotted them.
“What is going on with these two to come here to fight?” Ding Ning asked when they reached Xie Changsheng’s side and saw the two figures facing each other on the stone platform opposite him.
“Supposedly over a woman.” Xie Changsheng said with slight disdain. “These two were once good friends. Chen Liufeng liked a girl and frequently asked Fang Wuque for ideas. But then Fang Wuque got together with the girl. Chen Liufeng was furious. He originally prepared to never interact with Fang Wuque again but with the appearance of this book, Chen Liufeng, who was under the impression that Fang Wuque is beneath him, saw himself ranked later, and could not accept it. So he sent a formal challenge to Fang Wuque.”
At these words, Zhang Yi couldn’t help but say seriously, “This Fang Wuque is wrong. A gentleman should not steal another’s beloved thing, much less the woman his good friend is in love with.”
Ding Ning examined the two youths standing coldly opposite each other on the stone platform.
One of them was dressed in black robes, and his hair was tied up with a black tie. His features were cold and he looked as though he usually did not smile. The other was dressed in blue robes and looked slightly delicate and pretty.
“Which one is Chen Liufeng and Fang Wuque?” Ding Ning looked at Xie Changsheng and said, “If they wanted many people to see this, there are enough people now. Why haven’t they started? What are they waiting for?”
Xie Changsheng was also slightly puzzled. “I do not know. The two have already been here for more than five minutes, and they are not talking clearly except for the few words they exchanged at the start. I was worried that you and Cave Master Xue could not come in time, but hadn’t expected them to not even start.”
As they spoke, a cold voice sounded behind Ding Ning. “Apologies, please move aside.”
Xu Heshan, Nangong Caishu and Xu Heshan had taken a good position on the hills from the start. This was perfectly opposite the stone platform where Chen Liufeng and Fang Wuque was. It was also on a natural bump that rose from the shore, and reached the height of the stone platform.
This was also a direct line of sight. Considering the relatively narrow river, they were almost standing on the stone platform to watch this fight.
However, this bump on the shore was not large, and just enough to hold Xie Changsheng, Xue Wangxu, Ding Ning and the others. If they were to move aside, someone had to move to the lower elevation. Also, this voice was extremely impolite. The moment he heard this voice, before even turning and seeing who it was, Xie Changsheng laughed coldly. “Why should we move aside?”
Ding Ning turned calmly. He had seen more than Xie Changsheng and knew that it was usual for a minor matter to cause conflict at gathering places like this.
Entering their sight were three youths of similar age to them. Two were dressed in yellow robes. They had different features but both had strong brows and were extremely handsome. One person was dressed in purple satin robes. He was tall and thin, his eyes slightly sunken, and seemed authoritative.
Hearing Xie Changsheng’s cold laughter, these three showed displeasure. The tall youth also laughed coldly and said argumentatively, “Why not? Did you buy this piece of land?”
Xie Changsheng was not angry. He said with slight mockery, “Such a sharp tongue. But coincidentally, it is about right that you say I bought this land. My numerous friends have just arrived. Previously, there were only the three of us here, and a lot of empty space. But do you know why no one else came to take this space before my friends arrived?”
The tall youth stilled slightly. Then he sneered and said, “Maybe because you are frightening, and others do not dare to compete with you.”
“Wrong.” Others know how to conduct themselves. They know first come, first served. They know to respect the old and care for the young. They know to respect their teachers.” Xie Changsheng had displayed his ability to mock others during the sword trial festival. At this time, the disdain seemed to flow off his face. “We were not the first to arrive. There were some other people here originally. We discussed with them and reached an agreement with a thousand gold per person so they gave up this place for me. Now, our friends have arrived. Here, there are people older than your grandfathers, and also people younger than you. You started with a rude shout, and want us to give you this space? Who are your teachers and parents that they did not teach you how to conduct?”
These three proud youths turned black and red at the words. Unable to find any counterargument, one of the youths dressed in yellow robes and with a Taoist topknot, said in embarrassment, “Pure nonsense. A thousand gold for each person’s spot. You think we are three year old children to believe everything you say?”
“This may be inconceivable to you, but for the Guanzhong Xie Family. So what if we give a thousand gold around?” Xie Changsheng laughed and said, “I bought some properties using my New Year’s gift when I was ten. Right now, my year’s rent is enough to make me throw people a thousand gold when I am in a good mood. If you let me be in a good mood, I may also reward you with a thousand gold later.”
“Guanzhong Xie Family?”
The speaking youth was stunned. His face grew pale. He was unable to exhale.
The Guanzhong only had one Xie Family and that Xie Family was as rich as a country. There were innumerable rumors about the wealth of the Xie Family in Changling.
“Since the assets you bought with your new year’s present is enough for you to spend generously, why do you fear that your sister will cut you off?” Seeing that youth unable to speak, Nangong Caishu lowered her voice and asked by Xie Changsheng’s ear.
“While we are truly wealthy, I do not have so much new year presents. I am just boasting.” Xie Changsheng smiled and softly responded, “However, this is enough to scare these three bumpkins.”
The other clearly was a talent famed in Changling and a member of a prestigious family. Otherwise, they would not be so arrogant. Thinking about how Xie Changsheng called the trio country humpkins, Nangong Caishu couldn’t help but shake her head and laugh at the same time.
Sometimes, to deal with such rude people, one needed to use purely embarrassing tactics like Xie Changsheng to vent their anger.
Yet at this time, the demeanour of the tall youth dressed in purple robes changed. He said coldly, “I know who you are. You are the wastrel of the Guanzhong Xie Family. Where are you ranked on the Hongyang Academy’s Book of Talents this time?”
Xie Changsheng’s expression turned cold when he heard this and said, “Who are you, where do you rank?”
The tall youth smiled coldly and said, “This one is Lu Duofeng, ranked eighty one.”
After he said this, he looked disdainfully at Xie Changsheng, wanting to see how ashamed Xie Changsheng would be.
But unexpectedly, Xie Changsheng looked at him with pity, shook his head and said, “Some people feel ashamed at ranking later, some people are proud at being in the book.”
“Speaking of ranking, there is one higher than you here.”
Xie Changsheng nodded at Ding Ning and then said, “What are you proud of?”
Translator Ramblings: A society where there’s a fight at every gathering …