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Chapter 93: Damage
Seeing Qing Yaoyin appear near the insect formation, Tantai Guanjian’s eyes filled with complicated emotion. He knew that Qing Yaoyin had lived in this secret land for more than a decade. But this sect’s underground plain underneath Skyscraper was so large that even he did not know where Qing Yaoyin was. As a result, he hadn”t seen Qing Yaoyin for more than a decade.
Cultivators possessed greater longevity than ordinary people. But a decade was still a long time for cultivators.
Jing Liuli and Tantai Guanjian were different. She had organized this sword trial so she had met this sect uncle that lived in seclusion in this land previously. But her gaze was still complicated.
She knew well that Qing Yaoyin should not be appearing in the sword trials.
When Qing Yaoyin appeared, many people looked out from the cliffs above her and Tantai Guanjian.
These were mostly the teachers of different cultivation places and imperial people in court. Min Mountain Sword Sect would let them watch the entire sword trial, but they would not know all the details of the trial. So, their positions could not compare to Jing Liuli and Tantai Guanjian.
When they looked down, Qing Yaoyin, Ding Ning and the other students were as small as ants.
If Ding Ning’s Last Flower remnant sword had not shone brightly due to the infusion of vital energy, the people above would not be able to make out he was using a sword and the scene of imperial insects falling down around Ding Ning would be even odder.
Ding Ning’s sword, in Jing Liuli and Tantai Guanjian’s eyes, grew from unpracticed to skilled. Yet, only Ding Ning knew that he was pretending to undergo this process.
In this kind of formation battle, he possessed experience that cultivators like Jing Liuli and Tantai Guanjian could not imagine. But regardless of the experience he had, this kind of attack without any second of rest consumed much of his endurance and mind.
His breathing grew hotter, and he felt his lungs were going to ignite. But the air that reached his lungs carried a sticky bloody tang so breathing was even harder.
Ding Ning’s expression remained calm. He was sure the intruder was Qing Yaoyin … even if Qing Yaoyin was just watching, before he used up his endurance, he would kill all of the remaining imperial insects. So, he was still calm and flawless in his sword strikes, and efficiently reaping the living of the surging imperial insects.
Qing Yaoyin’s face was completely obscured by tangled hair so no one could see his expression. But as Ding Ning stabbed, his eyes flashed.
In his eyes, Ding Ning’s sword seemed to be completely separate from Ding Ning’s body. In his senses, no matter how difficult Ding Ning’s breathing seemed to be and how tired he was, this had nothing to do with Ding Ning’s sword. His gaze grew more complicated, angry and stunned.
The imperial insect corpses piled up even higher. Even across such a long distance, he could see the stream water growing more yellow-green. Seeing the decreasing number of imperial insects, it became harder to bear.
Just like it was responding to his unbearability, Ding Ning’s Last Flower sword gave off a loud noise.
One of the imperial insects that dove down from the sky did not make a stable landing and swayed violently. As a result, Ding Ning’s strike did not immediately cut into the weak part in its neck but onto the hard carapace.
But using the power of this blow, Ding Ning’s Last Flower remnant sword managed to separate and several different flows of sword threads stabbed into this imperial insect and two other imperial insects with the infusion of vital energy.
These three imperial insects did not immediately die. They jumped around violently in pain. With numerous bangs, several more imperial insects were hit and fell to the ground.
Qing Yaoyin finally could not bear it and gave a loud shout.
But, the battle continued.
These imperial insects could not understand his words. From within the imperial insect swarm, Ding Ning naturally could not stop and let himself get injured.
The anger in Qing Yaoyin’s eyes looked like it would ignite. He also realized his mistake and a bright red short flute appeared in his hand.
As he channeled vital energy, this bright red flute caused many visible ripples to form in the air. No sound formed, but in the next moment, all the imperial insects and the black ice worms were frozen. Then their bodies started to tremble.
All the living imperial insects retreated in a tide.
Their bodies were large, their heads and backs above the brambles when they had arrived. But as they withdrew, their bodies were close to the ground in fear. There was no sign of the blue light, only the ripples in the deep red brambles moving outwards.
The black ice worms did not move.
When all of the imperial insects retreated, a terrifying sword essence formed above them.
An intangible sword seemed to slam down from the sky.
The earth trembled violently. Their bodies gave off tearing sounds and threw out pieces of flesh.
Other than the black ice worm Ding Ning held in his hand, all the other worms died.
On the tall cliff, many of those cultivators watching the sword trial unconsciously took a step back.
Qing Yaoyin was not the strongest sword user in Min Mountain Sword Sect, but even so, the power of this sword was rare in the world.
“Should we stop him?” Watching as Qing Yaoyin acted, Tantai Guanjian turned to ask Jing Liuli.
Jing Liuli did not hesitate in shaking her head and said, “No need.”
Ding Ning panted heavily as he walked out of the pile of imperial insect corpses. As his feet landed, they would create slashes of sticky yellow-green blood.
“Who does this?”
Seeing Ding Ning cross the wall of corpses, Qing Yaoyin did not introduce himself before shouting furiously. Before he finished speaking, his figure appeared not far ahead of Ding Ning.
Ding Ning did not immediately respond to Qing Yaoyin. He panted as he bowed.
“Any cultivator below realm seven, even facing an army composed of the weakest cultivators and swordsmen will not be able to fight one against several hundred. This is something recorded in many books. Even if your teachers did not teach you, you definitely would have read them in the records. Do you not know even this basic truth?” Qing Yaoyin looked furiously at Ding Ning and said, “I have hundreds of these imperial insects. Why did you not flee and instead fight these imperial insects? Are you blind? Even if you are, you can easily sense the vital energy around these insects!”
Many people were likely unable to understand Qing Yaoyin’s fury at this time.
When a legendary person like Qing Yaoyin was furious, his body would naturally exude a terrifying presence that would pressure ordinary cultivators.
But Ding Ning only looked at him and responded calmly, “These insects are like an army but not an army.”
“What do you mean like an army but not an army?” Qing Yaoyin said harshly. “Even the Tiger-Wolf Army is not all made out of cultivators.”
Ding Ning calmed his breathing, shook his head and said, “It has nothing to do with combat ability. The army has something called sacrifice.”
Qing Yaoyin stilled slightly.
Ding Ning continued, “These insects appear to come from your hand. Honestly speaking, their combat tactics are extremely close to the calvary and the armies of cultivators. Yet, they only know ordinary attack tactics and will not proactively sacrifice. Armies are different. In order to create fatal wounds to a powerful cultivator, the army may decide to use a powerful weapon without regard for the lives of the soldiers around the cultivator. The hundreds of cultivators creating the encirclement would also decide to make a sacrifice.”
Of course Qing Yaoyin understood these truths. Other than Ding Ning’s example, he could even illustrate numerous other sacrifices made to kill a cultivator. However, in his anger, he had simply not thought through these truths.
His anger subsided slightly. Then he looked at Ding Ning and asked the key question, “Since you feel these imperial insects are different from a true army and you have confidence that you can kill all the insects here… why will you make a such a choice at the start and why will you choose to not kill the black ice worms and these imperial insects?”
“Because this is a strange food chain.”
Ding Ning looked up slightly into his eyes and said slowly and clearly, “Before entering this sea of brambles, Elder Geng Ren told us this is a test that will make us extremely exhausted and injured. The power of the black ice worms are not enough to pose a threat to many students and injure them.
“The black ice worms finished their transformation in front of me, so I was sure that even if I fled, when the black ice worms were transforming or killed all the worms, it would activate the next event.
“These black ice worms may become the food for these imperial insects, and these imperial insects may transform and become part of the next process. In the end, I would face things that will make me extremely tired or seriously injured so I have to give up the trial.
“So, for me, if I want to stop something like that from happening, I can only try to destroy one of the links. I destroy one of the links, the chain will not successfully occur and I can use the lowest possible price to finish this trial.”
As Ding Ning spoke slowly and clearly, Qing Yaoyin grew more shocked and quiet.
“Your actions are correct.”
After a long moment of silence, he took a deep breath and looked at Ding Ning.