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Chapter 94: Embarrassment
“What is your name? Where do you come from?” Qing Yaoyin looked at Ding Ning’s calm features and asked seriously.
Ding Ning said humbly, “White Goat Cave, Ding Ning.”
“White Goat Cave?”
Qing Yaoyin was shocked.
Before he had asked Ding Ning, the names of many prominent cultivation places had been in his mind. In his thoughts, Ding Ning was a cultivator from one of those places. Yet, White Goat Cave was an unfamiliar name. He spent a few moments to recall it. This appeared to be an unknown cultivation place in Changling.
“Astounding!” Qing Yaoyin said, after a moment of silence.
Ding Ning did not respond and waited quietly.
The anger and puzzlement in Qing Yaoyin’s eyes disappeared completely to be replaced by admiration and pity.
“You have major problems with your health.” He looked at the dots of white in Ding Ning’s hair roots and sensed the energies in Ding Ning’s body.
Ding Ning looked at him and nodded. “So I need to win the sword trials and obtain the opportunity to study in Min Mountain Sword Sect.”
Qing Yaoyin’s eyes flashed. He nodded and said, “Not bad.”
“You may leave.” Then he pointed at the distant green palace and said, “There is the exit.”
Ding Ning bowed slightly in thanks. Then he prepared to put down the black ice worm he had been holding in his left hand all this time to leave. But at this moment, Qing Yaoyin’s brows shifted and he said, “Do you understand the meaning of my words?”
Ding Ning looked up and said, “Elder means that I do not need to attend this test and can leave through there?”
Qing Yaoyin had not expected Ding Ning to completely comprehend his intentions and stilled. He instinctively said, “You really understand?”
“Since Elder says that my actions were correct, had Elder not appeared, I could defeat these imperial insects at a low cost and successfully pass this test.” Ding Ning looked calmly at Qing Yaoyin and said, “Elder telling me the green temple is the exit, means that I do not need to stay here. But I do not understand why Elder stopped me from killing these imperial insects and killed those black ice worms.”
Ding Ning looked at the dark red sea of brambles and said, “Since many students have entered this sea of brambles, I think there must be many swarms of insects and worms. The ones here are just some of them.”
Hearing Ding Ning’s opinion, Qing Yaoyin’s eyes lit up. ” You understand that the changes of these insects are interlocked. For you, damaging one of them will damage all. Just like how the circulation of vital energy in us cultivators cannot form a complete cycle if multiple meridians are blocked. But what I am doing will form a certain cycle and obtain what I want in the end. The interactions are extremely complex. Some swarms have to be maintained at a certain number so they will not go extinct. Some swarms will need to have enough power so they will not be eliminated.”
Qing Yaoyin paused slightly as his gaze landed on the dark red worm in Ding Ning’s hand.
Then he said with a rare thread of severity, “In this process of transformation and cycles, the most taboo matter is the natural predator and prey relationship between the hunted and the hunter. For example, the wild rabbits of the plains are prey for the hawk. Rabbits are born to be food for hawks and naturally fear the hawk. Yet, if one day, a certain rabbit swarm became fearless of hawks due to an unknown change and obtained the ability to fight the hawks, the cycle would be completely changed. For example, us humans drank blood and couldn’t compete with ancient beasts in primal times. The rulers of the world then were the powerful beasts. When humans comprehended the technique of weapons’ creation and cultivators appeared, us humans completely changed the world and became its master.”
Ding Ning glanced at the dark red black ice worm in his hand and the black ice worm swarm that Qing Yaoyin had destroyed. He completely understood Qing Yaoyin’s words and his left hand relaxed, about to put down the black ice worm.
But at this time, Qing Yaoyin spoke.
“Of course, I cannot just swing my sword for this black ice worm.”
Qing Yaoyin glanced at Ding Ning and the black ice worm in his hand. He said coolly, “It is rare that you can think of this solution and force me to appear. We count as having karma. If you do not mind how ugly it looks and don’t want to kill it for me, you can take it as you leave.”
Ding Ning stilled.
How could he not hear Qing Yaoyin’s intentions of giving this? While black ice worm was common in this secret land and was not very strong right now, it may possibly become the reason that the food chain in this place was destroyed. It was not a natural swarm of the world, and he feared that this was the only one left in existence. The one in his hand was at least the leader of the swarm and more importantly, since someone like Qing Yaoyin mentioned gifting it, then this black ice worm may likely have unpredictable changes.
“Thank you, Elder.” Without hesitation, Ding Ning expressed his gratitude.
“No need to be polite.”
Qing Yaoyin waved his hand and turned to leave. But before he moved, he added coolly, “At least this black ice worm is thick in the skin.”
Ding Ning frowned slightly and glanced at the worm in his hand. He glanced at the dark red brambles ahead of him and understood Qing Yaoyin’s intentions again.
He reached out with his left hand holding the black ice worm like a shield in front of him as he moved through the deep red brambles.
The thorns on the brambles brushed the black ice worm, most of them snapping, and unable to pierce the skin of the black ice worm.
This black ice worm trembled constantly in Ding Ning’s hand, seemingly in pain, but increasingly didn’t dare to move.
The worm and the person moved through the sea of brambles.
Almost all of the officials and cultivators watching this from the cliff sank into indescribable silence.
Everybody could see Qing Yaoyin’s intentions.
That green palace appeared very far from Ding Ning in his eyes, but for the people who were looking down from a high elevation, the green palace was the nearest to Ding Ning.
“Should we stop him?” Looking at this scene, Tantai Guanjian glanced at Jing Liuli and asked.
He was asking this question for the second time. Both times the meanings were the same. The Min Mountain Sword Sect had their rules, and he did not want Qing Yaoyin to affect Ding Ning at all.
But Jing Liuli did not hesitate and shook her head resolutely. “No need.”
As though she felt Tantai Guanjian needed an explanation, she said slowly, “Sect Uncle Qing originally shouldn’t have appeared, but as he was forced to, this is his ability. He created this accident. This does not count as breaking the rules of the sword trial.”
Tantai Guanjian nodded and didn’t express objections.
He watched Ding Ning pass through the deep red brambles with admiration in his eyes.
The other students, when encountering the threat of the black ice worms, would either choose to flee like Xie Changsheng when the worms were transforming or try to kill them. The students that chose to move through the brambles would encounter other dangers.
Since Qing Yaoyin had pointed out a path for Ding Ning and given him such a black ice worm, then Ding Ning would have a smooth path without any dangers. So, if there were no accidents, Ding Ning would become the first student to pass through this test once again and pay the smallest price.
But his lack of objections to Jing Liuli did not mean other people did not have objections.
After many breaths, a yellow figure appeared in the stone passageway behind him and Jing Liuli.
This was a middle-aged man with a reserved expression. He wore ordinary yellow satin robes and clearly wasn’t a cultivator of Min Mountain Sword Sect. He was also not an official of the court involved in this sword trial, so the reason he could appear here was unknown.
Dozens of feet away from Tantai Guanjian and Jing Liuli, he stopped and bowed.
But before he spoke, a sneer appeared on Jing Liuli’s face.
“Go and tell your Mistress Rong,” she didn’t even turn around and said mockingly, “Do not think of interfering in the sword trial and have opinions concerning it. Does he think that Sect Uncle Qing having Ding Ning win is unfair? Tell him… the meaning of Sect Uncle Qing’s farm to Min Mountain Sword Trials is greater than ten sword trials.”
“Also,” she laughed disdainfully and said to the yellow-robed middle-aged man, “Tell your Mistress Rong- if she doesn’t want to be thrown out, then stay and just watch. Who does she think she is to dare talk to me? If she doesn’t want to be embarrassed, then do not seek embarrassment.”